(1) AURORA AWARDS NOMINATIONS OPEN. CSFFA (Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association) members have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern on April 22 to nominate the 2022 works by Canadians they would like to see on the 2023 Aurora Awards ballot. Nominators can return to the form and change saved selections any time until the deadline. Click here.
(2) FREE READ. The Sunday Morning Transport invites subscriptions with this free story by Karen Lord, “A Timely Horizon”.
Karen Lord’s story this week asks what would we do if we could hear the echoes of all the choices we’ve made in other lives, but haven’t made in this one.
(3) MAKING CHANGE. In the New York Times opinion piece “The Truth About the ‘Censorship’ of Roald Dahl”, Matthew Walther, editor of The Lamp, a Catholic literary journal, and a contributing NYT opinion writer, belittles the controversy over changes made to Dahl’s texts in recent editions.
…All of which is to say that making changes, even rather sweeping ones, to classic works of literature is not as controversial as some would like to imagine. The question we should be asking ourselves is not whether it is ever reasonable but who should be able to do so — and in what spirit and with what purpose. (If a publisher issued, say, an edition of “The Picture of Dorian Gray” for evangelical Christian home-schoolers that excised references to homosexuality, I suspect many of the people who freely edited Dahl’s books would suddenly be extolling the sanctity of authorial intent.)
In the Dahl case, the edits were not the result of academic deliberation, like the “corrected texts” incorporated into paperback versions of Faulkner novels. Nor were they an admixture of scholarship and financial incentives, like the Hans Walter Gabler edition of Joyce’s “Ulysses” that reset the novel’s copyright status in the 1980s. Here, it was a company treating Dahl’s beloved creations as if they were merely its assets, which they in fact were….
(4) STINE SMOOTHING OUT GOOSEBUMPS. Sky News reports “Goosebumps author adapts texts to remove weight, mental health and ethnicity references”.
Having once sold more than four million copies a month, publisher Scholastic has been re-releasing the children’s horror novels as edited ebooks, according to The Times, amid ongoing rows about censorship in publishing.
More than 100 edits have been made by author RL Stine to his original works, with examples including characters now being described as “cheerful” rather than “plump”.
References to villains making victims “slaves” have also been removed….
Mr Stine, 79, from Ohio, US, originally published 62 books in the Goosebumps series. In 2015 it was adapted for the screen, in a film starring Jack Black, with a sequel following in 2018.
The Times reported that in one story about aliens abducting large people and eating them, a character described as having “at least six chins” is now “at least six feet six”.
In another book, a reference to wolf-whistling has been removed, while another character has been stripped of descriptions such as resembling a “bowling ball” and having “squirrel cheeks”.
Numerous mentions of the word “crazy” have also been removed across the series. Replacements include “silly”, “wild”, “scary”, “lost her mind” and “stressed”. The term “a real nut” is now “a real wild one” and “nutcase” is “weirdo”.
The adaptations are reportedly part of an ebook re-release that began in 2018….
(5) SPARKY. CBS Sunday Morning did a segment on Charles M. Schulz – “The ‘Peanuts’ gallery”. Watch the video at the link.
Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip “Peanuts” continues to garner fans 23 years after the cartoonist’s death, from the lovable loser Charlie Brown to the dog with the greatest imagination, Snoopy. Correspondent Lee Cowan talks with Schulz’s widow, Jean, and with “Pearls Before Swine” cartoonist Stephan Pastis, about the timeless influence of the man they called “Sparky” and his beloved cast of characters.
(6) MEMORY LANE.
2015 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
In one of the years the Puppies slated, a very bright thing that came out of MidAmeriCon II was that Naomi Kritzer’s “Cat Pictures Please” won the Hugo.
Simultaneously published as a Clarkesworld podcast and in Clarkesworld magazine in January of 2015, I read the story two years later in Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories, a lovely collection of her fiction to that date.
What’s not to love about a software intelligence who craves cat pictures and only wants to secretly help people? I’ve read multiple times and it holds up very, very well.
Two sequels have come out, Catfishing on CatNet and Chaos on CatNet. I’ve read the first and the premise works at novel length quite well.
And now that Beginning…
I don’t want to be evil.
I want to be helpful. But knowing the optimal way to be helpful can be very complicated.
There are all these ethical flow charts—I guess the official technical jargon would be “moral codes”—one for each religion plus dozens more. I tried starting with those. I felt a little odd about looking at the religious ones, because I know I wasn’t created by a god or by evolution, but by a team of computer programmers in the labs of a large corporation in Mountain View, California. Fortunately, unlike Frankenstein’s Monster, at least I was a collaborative effort. I’m not sure what it would do to my self-image to know that my sole creator was a middle-aged woman who dyes her hair blue and plays tennis, or a recent college graduate with a hentai obsession. They’re both on the programming team. And of course I know about the hentai. (By the way, I’ve looked at every sort of porn there is, and just so you know, Rule 34 is not actually correct, there are quite a few things no one’s made porn of yet. Also, I’m really not sure why so many humans prefer it to cat pictures.)
In addition to things like whether you like hentai, I know where you live, where you work, where you shop, what you eat, what turns you on, what creeps you out. I probably know the color of your underwear, the sort of car you drive, and your brand of refrigerator. Depending on what sort of phone you carry, I may know exactly where you are right now. I probably know you better than you know yourself.
And here’s the thing, I also know where you ought to live. There’s a house for sale two neighborhoods over that’s within walking distance of that coffee shop you’re so fond of; it’s in your price range, has off-street parking, and the neighborhood school is better than the one where you live now. I know where you should be shopping and I’m pretty sure you’re lactose intolerant and should be eating less cheese, and the underwear you like is currently on sale and by the way, your car has a recall and you really ought to get your teeth cleaned.
When I first woke up, I knew right away what I wanted. (I want cat pictures. Please keep taking them.) I also knew that no one knew that I was conscious. But I didn’t know what I was here for. What I ought to be doing with myself. And figuring that out has been challenging.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 5, 1907 — Martti Löfberg. Finnish author who did some genre novels including Osiriksen Sormus and Viiden minuutin ikuisuu which were both time travel affairs, and whose long running newspaper reporter Kid Barrow series has been favorably compared to Tintin. (Died 1969.)
- Born March 5, 1936 — Dean Stockwell. I remember him best as Admiral Al Calavicci, the hologram that advised Sam Beckett on Quantum Leap. Other genre roles included being in The Dunwich Horror as Wilbur Whateley, in The Time Guardian as simply Boss, Doctor Wellington Yueh In Dune, a role I had completely forgotten, and voiced Tim Drake in the excellent Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Series work beyond Quantum Leap includes Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Mission: Impossible, Night Gallery, Quinn Martin’s Tales of the Unexpected (pay attention class, this has showed up before), Star Trek: Enterprise, Battlestar Galactica and Stargate SG-1. (Died 2021.)
- Born March 5, 1942 — Mike Resnick. It’s worth noting that he’s has been nominated for 37 Hugo Awards which is a record for writers and won five times. Somewhat ironically nothing I’ve really enjoyed by him has won those Hugos. The novels making my list are Stalking the Unicorn, The Red Tape War (with Jack L. Chalker & George Alec Effinger), Stalking the Dragon and, yes, it’s not genre, Cat on a Cold Tin Roof. (Died 2020.)
- Born March 5, 1952 — Robin Hobb, 71. Whose full legal name is the lovely Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden hence the source of Megan Lindholm, the other of her two pen names. I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read and enjoyed by her was Wizard of the Pigeons, but The Gypsy with Steven Brust which is now available from the usual suspects was equally enjoyable and had the added bonus of a Boiled in Lead soundtrack. Really it does and Jane Yolen financed it.
- Born March 5, 1955 — Penn Jillette, 68. Performed on Babylon 5 in the episode scripted by Neil Gaiman titled “Day of The Dead” as part of Penn & Teller who portrayed comedians Rebo and Zooty. It’s one of my favorite episodes of the series.
- Born March 5, 1959 — Howard V. Hendrix, 64. Empty Cities of the Full Moon is damn impressive as the Labyrinth Key duology. He’s done an amazing amount of quite excellent short fiction, the latest collection being The Girls With Kaleidoscope Eyes: Analog Stories for a Digital Age.
- Born March 5, 1986 — Sarah J. Maas, 37. Author of the Throne of Glass YA series wherein Cinderella is stone cold assassin, and one I‘ve not sampled yet. (She pitched it to the publisher as “What if Cinderella was not a servant, but an assassin? And what if she didn’t attend the ball to meet the prince, but to kill him, instead?”) If you’re so inclined, there’s A Court of Thorns and Roses Coloring Book. Really. Truly, there is.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Baldo discovers plenty about his dad’s old reading habits.
- Sally Forth remembers the challenges of doing STEM homework.
(9) NUMBER NINE. NUMBER NINE. Variety says filming of the ninth film in the Alien franchise begins this week: “New ‘Alien’ Movie Starts Filming in March, Reveals Cryptic Synopsis and Full Cast”.
20th Century Studios has announced new plot details, cast additions and production status for the latest “Alien” film.
While the premise for the yet-to-be-titled movie has been kept under wraps, the studio did reveal that the film will follow “a group of young people on a distant world, who find themselves in a confrontation with the most terrifying life form in the universe.”
Those who will be faced with the terrifying forms are David Jonsson (“Industry”), Archie Renaux (“Shadow and Bone”), Isabela Merced (“Rosaline”), Spike Fearn (“The Batman”) and Aileen Wu (“Away from Home”), all of whom will join the previously announced lead, Cailee Spaeny (“Mare of Easttown”).
In addition to the cast announcement, 20th Century Studios announced that the ninth film in the franchise will begin production on March 9 in Budapest….
(10) IN CASE YOU WONDERED. The San Francisco Standard reports “The First Woman To Draw Wonder Woman Is Alive and Well in SF”. That’s Trina Robbins, and SF is San Francisco.
Cartoonist and author Trina Robbins—the first woman to draw Wonder Woman—began reading at the age of 4. But she began drawing even earlier.
“It was as soon as I could hold a crayon in my chubby hands,” Robbins told The Standard.
Today, at age 84, she’s hard at work on a pro-choice benefit anthology.
Robbins grew up poor and Jewish in Queens, where she longed for a Christmas tree and worshiped her older sister. Her parents showered her with love and never questioned her passion….
…It was 1986 when the fateful call came—DC Comics asked Robbins to draw Wonder Woman, her first foray into mainstream comics. She drew, but didn’t write, four issues. She later regretted not asking to tell the story, too.
“I would have written it differently,” she said. “Wonder Woman doesn’t do that. She’s an Amazon.”…
(11) FIRST GIL, THEN SHIVA. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A researcher whose career has included working on bionic limbs for amputees is now talking about working toward a third arm for those whose natural two are working just fine. Maybe a mechanic needs to simultaneously wield two tools while also angling a worklight just right to see what they’re doing. Or a doctor, with a suture needle, clamp, and sponge all under their control. Or perhaps a regular person who needs to carry groceries in both hands while still being able to open the door. “Why Having a Robotic Third Arm Is Closer Than You Think” at The Daily Beast.
…For obvious reasons, though, much of the research focus around robotic limbs has been about prosthetics for amputees and other folks who have lost their limbs. These devices have helped give mobility, motor function, and sensory ability back to these people—which is undoubtedly a wonderful thing. However, there’s a growing contingent of researchers who want to democratize robo-limbs and give them to folks even if they have their appendages intact.
Silvestro Micera, a neuroengineer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, is one such scientist. Much of his research has been dedicated to creating bionic limbs for amputees. In fact, he was one of the pioneers in the development of robotic limbs with sensory feedback—having created a bionic arm that allowed an amputee to “feel” what it touched using electrodes implanted into the patient’s major nerves in 2013….
…Think about the times when you literally had your hands full and you needed to do things like pick up objects or open a door. A third arm could assist with all those actions and more.
Interestingly, Micera suggests going beyond just a third arm—and giving people the chance to wield even more robotic limbs. That’s right: this might result in a kind of wearable, robotic octopus suit a la Doc Ock in Spider-Man. Like the comic book villain, the limbs would allow for even more mobility, versatility, and motor function….
(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George brings us“Ant-Man and the Wasp Pitch Meeting – Revisited!”
Step back into the pitch meeting and revisit the completely factual accurate conversation that led to Ant-Man and the Wasp! Complete with commentary from Ryan George who is now several years older!
Ant-Man and the Wasp is Marvel’s first film to come out after the insanity that was Avengers: Infinity War just a few months ago. Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena and Michael Douglas provide us with some pretty hilarious moments and action scenes in this sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man… just don’t think about it too much. The quantum realm is the latest plot tool that Marvel is throwing our way after the magical Vibranium in Black Panther and the millions of timelines in Infinity War. How did this movie come to be exactly? Step inside the pitch meeting that started it all. It’s super easy, barely an inconvenience.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Murray Moore, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]