[Three days remain in the Tamson House Arts Fest opportunity.]
By Julie Bartel: As you might have heard, MaryAnn Harris (artist, musician, and creative partner of Charles de Lint) has been in hospital since September 6, 2021 recovering from Powassan virus, an extremely rare tick-borne illness. She’s made incredible progress over the past year, but remains unable to breath or move on her own. (You can read the whole story here.)
The Tamson House Arts Fest is an online auction which will run throughout the month of November in support of MaryAnn and Charles. Our hope is to raise enough to cover the cost of the additional therapies that MaryAnn needs in order to go home, including increased physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and respiratory therapy, and mental health support. 100% of funds raised will go directly to Charles for MaryAnn’s care. With her blessing and in consultation with Charles and MaryAnn’s sister Lynn, we’re asking our community to join us in a virtual celebration of MaryAnn and Charles and we’re hoping you might be willing to donate to the cause and perhaps do a little holiday shopping for yourself or your loved ones. To visit the Tamson House Arts Fest online auction go to galabid.com/harrisdelintrecovery
The auction runs through November 30th, ending at 8pm MST.
(0) SCROLL LITE. Still full of symptoms, but a bit more energetic than yesterday. Yay!
(1) WHAT DO YOU KNOW? You can catch up on the results of two genre-oriented trivia events at LearnedLeague.
The One-Day Special quiz for The Last Unicorn has now concluded, and the questions can be seen by the general public. Here’s a link to it. Filer David Goldfarb got 10/12 right, ranking 36th out of 247 players.
Here’s another LearnedLeague quiz, about Octavia Butler. You can find it by following this link. Goldfarb got 11/12 on that one, ranking 14th out of 356.
(2) MEMORY LANE.
2019 — [By Cat Eldridge.] In Dublin 2019 which was forty-nine years after she got her first Hugo at Heicon ‘70 for The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula Le Guin would receive her final Hugo for The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition. It came on the 50th anniversary of first publication of A Wizard of Earthsea.
The original novels that comprise this lovely work, beginning with A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), The Tombs of Atuan, (1970) and The Farthest Shore (1972), were amazingly, at least to my thinking, not nominated for Hugos.
I’ve got a copy and I can say that is is indeed a stellar work. There’s an introduction done by her for this edition also It also includes Tehanu, The Other Wind, “The Daughter of Odren” novelette, the Tales From Earthsea collection and two short stories, “The Rule of Names” and The Word of Unbinding”. It also “Earthsea Revisioned: A Lecture at Oxford University”, her lecture there.
There were among fans online complaints about its price. Really? You got five novels plus other goodies in an oversized lavishly illustrated volume that was immediately a collectors item and you’re complaining? Proof that some fans are born kvetchers.
It was not awarded a Best Novel Hugo but instead was awarded Best Art Book with its illustrations being by Charles Vess who won Best Professional Artist that same year. Vess has illustrated a lot of the work of Charles de Lint including A Circle of Cats and The Cats of Tanglewood Forest.
(3) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 2, 1913 — Burt Lancaster. Certainly being Dr. Paul Moreau on The Island of Doctor Moreau was his most genre-ish role but I like him as General James Mattoon Scott in Seven Days in May. And, of course, he’s really great as Moonlight Graham in Field of Dreams. (Died 1994.)
Born November 2, 1927 — Steve Ditko. Illustrator who began his career working in the studio of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby during which he began his long association with Charlton Comics and which led to his creating the Captain Atom character. Did I mention DC absorbed that company as it did so many others? Now he’s best known as the artist and co-creator, with Stan Lee, of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. For Charlton and also DC itself, including a complete redesign of Blue Beetle, and creating or co-creating The Question, The Creeper, Shade the Changing Man, and Hawk and Dove. He’s been inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame and into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 2018.)
Born November 2, 1941 — Ed Gorman. He’d be here if only for writing the script for the Batman: I, Werewolf series in which Batman meets a werewolf. Very cool. More straight SFF is his Star Precinct trilogy with Kevin Randle which is quite excellent, and I’m fond of his short fiction which fortunately is showing up in digital form at the usual spots. (Died 2016.)
Born November 2, 1942 — Stefanie Powers, 80. April Dancer, the lead in The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. which lasted just one season. Did you know Ian Fleming contributed concepts to this series and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well? She would play Shalon in the crossover that started on The Six-Million Man and concluded on The Bionic Woman called “The Return of Bigfoot”.
Born November 2, 1942 — Carol Resnick. 80. Wife of that Resnick who credited her according to several sources with being a co-writer on many of his novels. He also credited her as being a co-author on two movie scripts that they’ve sold, based on his novels Santiago and The Widowmaker. And she’s responsible for the costumes in which she and Mike appeared in five Worldcon masquerades in the Seventies, winning awards four times.
Born November 2, 1949 — Lois McMaster Bujold, 73. First let’s note she’s won the Hugo Award for best novel four times, matching Robert A. Heinlein’s record, not counting his Retro Hugo. Quite impressive that. Bujold’s works largely comprises three separate book series: the Vorkosigan Saga, the Chalion series, and the Sharing Knife series. She joined the Central Ohio Science Fiction Society, and co-published with Lillian Stewart Carl StarDate, a Trek fanzine in which a story of hers appeared under the byline Lois McMaster.
Born November 2, 1959 — Peter Mullan, 63. Actor and Filmmaker from Scotland whose first genre role is in FairyTale: A True Story, which is based very loosely based on the story of the Cottingley Fairies (and which makes for interesting reading, if you have the time). He played Corban Yaxley in both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and is currently in a recurring role on the Westworld series as the James Delos character.
(5) THE CHASE. This is the best thing I’ve seen today!
(6) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Alasdair Beckett-King dropped this Lovecraft parody on Saturday.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
Remember, you have only over one week left to vote for for the 2022 Hugo Awards, the Lodestar Award for best Young Adult Book, and the Astounding Award for Best New Writer!
All ballots must be received by 11 August 2022, 11:59 pm PDT (UTC-7). Access our website link [above] for information on how to access the voters packet, how to vote online, or how to vote by mail.
(2) APPEAL FOR CWCF. Yesterday the Chicon 8 committee also asked for donations for the Chicago Worldcon Community Fund.
The Chicago Worldcon Community Fund (CWCF) needs another $5000 to meet the needs of our community! Can you contribute?
The CWCF is a special fund to help defray the expenses of attending Chicon 8 for non-white fans or program participants, LGBTQIA+ fans or program participants, and local Chicago area fans of limited means.
You can give directly to the fund or even donate a membership you may not use. Even $5 goes a long way!
For donation information or how to apply to the fund, visit our site at the link [above].
A very long article about the Jumi Bello plagiarism scandal has come out from AirMail. In brief, if you aren’t familiar with the story: a debut author had her book canceled by the publisher because it contained a significant amount of plagiarism.
The article, which is about what happened and its antecedents and aftermath, is… not great. The journalist focuses on odd, salacious details, fails to draw some obvious points, and misses big questions about the commodification of marginalized identities, the responsibility of due diligence from agents, editors, and publications, how authors often take the fall for systemic industry failures, and the lack of education around the ethics of influence and inspiration1.
I’m not going to address any of those points, though I hope someone does because I think they’re important. But I do think there is something hugely instructive to be taken from this incident—something that teachers of writing and emerging writers alike can learn from—about the business of publishing and the fragility of the creative life.
…This is a story about plagiarism, yes, but it’s also a story about something I see so much of—in my capacity as a teacher, a mentor, and just someone who gets asked about publishing literally constantly. That is, how easy it is to let the desire to be published (and by extension obsessed over by name-brand agents, editors, and publishing houses) completely outstrip the act of writing a good book.
… I was lucky. Jesus was I lucky. Because there’s an alternate universe where I was writing a (more obviously) commercially viable book in grad school and agents fought over me and I published something not done, something closer to my thesis, which had the seeds of a good book but was not, in and of itself, a good book. Instead, I was forced to sit with Her Body and Other Parties until it was ready. I am so fucking grateful that I got to write the book I needed to, even if I resisted that process at every turn….
Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki is an African speculative fiction writer and editor in Nigeria. He has won the Nommo award for Best Speculative Fiction by an African twice, both for Short Story and Novella, as well as the Otherwise and British Fantasy Awards. He is the first African to have won the Nebula Award for Best Novelette with his climate fiction story “O2 Arena,” for which he is also a BSFA, BFA and Nommo Award finalist, and the first African to be a Hugo Award Best Novelette finalist. He is the first African editor to be a finalist in the Hugo Award Best Editor categories and the first BIPOC editor to be a finalist in both the Hugo Award Editing and Fiction categories in the same year. He is the founder of Jembefola Press and the Emeka Walter Dinjos Memorial Award for Disability in Speculative Fiction. He is the first African-born Black writer and the youngest writer to be Guest of Honor at the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts.
Guest Scholar – Dr. Isiah Lavender III
Isiah Lavender III is Sterling-Goodman Professor of English at the University of Georgia, where he researches and teaches courses in African American literature and science fiction. His books include Race in American Science Fiction (Indiana UP, 2011), Black and Brown Planets: The Politics of Race in Science Fiction and Dis-Orienting Planets: Racial Representations of Asia in Science Fiction (UP of Mississippi, 2014 and 2017 respectively), Afrofuturism Rising: The Literary Prehistory of a Movement (Ohio State UP, 2019), and Literary Afrofuturism in the Twenty-First Century (Ohio State UP, 2020), co-edited with Lisa Yaszek. His interview collection Conversations with Nalo Hopkinson is forthcoming from UP of Mississippi in early 2023. He is currently hard at work on The Routledge Handbook of CoFuturisms, co-edited with Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay, Grace Dillon, and Taryne Jade Taylor as well as his manuscript-in-progress Critical Race Theory and Science Fiction. If you would like to know more about Dr. Lavender, check out https://narrativeencounters.aau.at/how-reading-shapes-us-isiah-lavender/
The title of Dr. Lavender’s ICFA Guest Scholar presentation shall be “Imaginary Amendments and Executive Orders: Race in United States Science Fiction.”
Oscar winners Charlize Theron and Alfonso Cuarón are partnering for Jane, an Amazon feature project based on the personal life of beloved science fiction author Philip K. Dick from his daughter Isa Hackett.
The genre-bending project is based on the relationship between Dick and his twin sister, Jane, who died six weeks after birth. The death affected Dick personally, and also influenced his creative work.
Jane, according to the project’s description, is “a moving, suspenseful and darkly humorous story about a woman’s unique relationship with her brilliant, but troubled twin, who also happens to be the celebrated novelist Philip K. Dick. While attempting to rescue her brother from predicaments both real and imagined, Jane plunges deeper and deeper into a fascinating world of his creation.”…
“The story of Jane has been with me for as long as I can remember,” said Hackett. “Jane, my father’s twin sister who died a few weeks after birth, was at the center of his universe. Befitting a man of his unique imagination, this film will defy the conventions of a biopic and embrace the alternate reality Philip K. Dick so desperately desired—one in which his beloved sister survived beyond six weeks of age. It is her story we will tell, her lens through which we will see him and his imagination. There is no better way to honor him than to grant him his wish, if only for the screen.”
(6) NEW FROM NEVALA-LEE. Cora Buhlert interviewed Alec Nevala-Lee about his brand-new book Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller for her “Non-Fiction Spotlight” feature.
Biographies of prominent SFF and SFF-adjacent people are quite common on the Hugo ballot and today’s featured non-fiction book is just such a biography.
I’ve been interested since high school in Fuller, whom I first encountered in the pages of the Whole Earth Catalog. After Astounding, I was looking to expand the range of subjects that I could cover as a writer, and Fuller was an obvious choice—his life expresses many of the themes that I’ve explored in my earlier work, and until now, there’s never been a reliable biography that covered his entire career using the best available sources. I hoped that writing it would be a real intellectual adventure, and it was.
…Anthologies are books that collect short stories by multiple authors, often under a common theme. Because these volumes contain tales by different voices, the work of the editor is extremely important. Not only does the anthologist have to solicit and select the titles to include, but they also have to edit and arrange said stories into a cohesive tome. The very best anthologists are able to expertly walk that line, offering different voices that when expertly brought together, create a unified whole, a single book that readers will enjoy from cover to cover.
Anthologies are also the best way for readers to survey the landscape of a genre, to see a wide variety of styles and voices writing under one umbrella. They also provide a tasting menu of voices familiar and brand new. And if the editor does their job well, readers will finish the book having learned of a few new writers who will be added to their personal to-read pile….
(8) HOW TO SELL A BOOK BY ITS COVER. Sarah A. Hoyt is starting a series about cover creation for indie authors at Mad Genius Club: “The Great Cover Up”.
… Which means this year alone, I’ve laid out a thousand for covers I just couldn’t seem to get right. There are now reasonably priced artists and at the end of the series I’ll give you names and contacts. Also places to buy ready-made and/or decent graphics just needing the lettering. But here is the thing: you still have to know what the cover is supposed To do and what it can do. And what in a cover matters or doesn’t
I guarantee 90% of what you think matters in a cover doesn’t. And vice-versa. And you must know what matters and what a cover is supposed to be, because when that artist/designer hands you Hamlet, you’ll have to explain why it won’t sell cornflakes and why he must prostitute his art to give you a jingle….
Why did Warner Bros scrapBatgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt?
The cancellation by Warner Bros of two made-for-HBO Max streaming movies came as a shock to the town. There are several threads here, but the move amounts to an emphatic rejection of past WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar’s strategy to make original $70 million live-action and animated films directly for the streaming site.
The makers of the live-action Batgirl and the animated Scoob! learned today that those films were being stopped in their tracks. The timing was particularly awkward for Batgirl co-directors Adil El Arbi and Billal Fallah. Both are in Morocco for El Arbi’s wedding — some wedding present — and they expected to return to the cutting room and continue work on the film that stars Leslie Grace, J.K. Simmons, Brendan Fraser and Michael Keaton.
There were initial cries that the scrapping of Batgirl carried bad optics because the title role is played by a Latina. But there were reasons for the move. In both cases, the filmmakers were told that it came down to a “purchase accounting” maneuver available to Warner Bros Discovery because the company has changed hands, and also changed strategy from the previous regime. This opportunity expires in mid-August, said sources, and it allows WBD to not have to carry the losses on its books at a time when the studio is trying to pare down $3 billion in debt across its divisions.
There has been much speculation on why Batgirl was canceled, having to do with it being a bad movie. …
It’s pretty well known and even darkly joked about across all the visual-effects houses that working on Marvel shows is really hard. When I worked on one movie, it was almost six months of overtime every day. I was working seven days a week, averaging 64 hours a week on a good week. Marvel genuinely works you really hard. I’ve had co-workers sit next to me, break down, and start crying. I’ve had people having anxiety attacks on the phone.
The studio has a lot of power over the effects houses, just because it has so many blockbuster movies coming out one after the other. If you upset Marvel in any way, there’s a very high chance you’re not going to get those projects in the future. So the effects houses are trying to bend over backward to keep Marvel happy.
To get work, the houses bid on a project; they are all trying to come in right under one another’s bids. With Marvel, the bids will typically come in quite a bit under, and Marvel is happy with that relationship, because it saves it money. But what ends up happening is that all Marvel projects tend to be understaffed. Where I would usually have a team of ten VFX artists on a non-Marvel movie, on one Marvel movie, I got two including myself. So every person is doing more work than they need to.
The other thing with Marvel is it’s famous for asking for lots of changes throughout the process. So you’re already overworked, but then Marvel’s asking for regular changes way in excess of what any other client does. And some of those changes are really major.…
The Emperor needs necromancers, and this is your chance to align with one of the Nine Houses!
SPOILERS THRU THE END OF HARROW THE NINTH YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
(12) MEMORY LANE.
1995 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Back in in 1995 Charles Vess self-published a biannual series of illustrated ballads entitled The Book of Ballads and Sagas in a series of four chapbooks, through his Green Man Press. In this series Vess illustrated adaptations of traditional Scottish and English ballads written by a variety of contributors, including Emma Bull, Charles de Lint, Neil Gaiman, Sharyn McCrumb, Jeff Smith, and Jane Yolen.
Debbie Skolnik reviewed it for Green Man and she noted there that “The ballads are English and Scottish; the sagas are, as their name implies, Norse in origin. There are more ballads than sagas. Actually, there’s only one saga: Skade. Being enthralled by the English and Scottish ballads myself, I am quite familiar with all the stories. Norse mythology, however, I know very little about, so I did a little bit of quick research to familiarize myself with the basic story.”
I read when it came out as I got them sent to me by Vess before I sent them unto Debbie for review. Of course the illustrations by Vess were stellar as everything by Vess is. (I’m writing this under the artwork for the art for the cover art for de Lint’s A Circle of Cats.) So how were the stories?
If you liked of the tale of Thomas The Rhymer, Ellen Kushner has done an excellent version of the story in her book of the same name. Here she retells the tale in a much-shortened version.
Charles de Lint took up the matter in “Twa Corbies” (Two Crows) which deals with the death of a Knight and the Corbies telling his tale. Twa Corbies will become part of his Newford characters in the firm of Maida and Zia, the Crow Girls who are immortal.
Vess himself does Tam Lin and it is one of the best pieces here. The depiction of the cursed Tam Lin turning into various creatures is quite amazing.
I have barely scratched the surface of what is offered here. If you like this sort of ballads and sagas, I’m sure you’ll love this.
Debbie notes in her review that “Careful readers will note that Steeleye Span has recorded a version of almost all the ballads in this series of books.” That’s certainly true and Vess has acknowledged that he was strongly influenced by that band in selecting the tales here.
The chapbooks were later printed in a hardcover edition in 2004 by Tor books with some additional material.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 3, 1861 — Michel Jean Pierre Verne. Son of Jules Verne who we now know rewrote some of his father’s later novels. These novels have since been restored using the original manuscripts which were preserved. He also wrote and published short stories using his father’s name. None of these are the major works Jules is now known for. (Died 1925.)
Born August 3, 1904 — Clifford Simak. I was trying to remember the first novel by him I read. I’m reasonably sure it was Way Station though it could’ve been City which just won a well-deserved Retro Hugo. I’m fond of Cemetery World and A Choice of Gods as well. By the way I’m puzzled by the Horror Writers Association making him one of their three inaugural winners of the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. What of his is truly horror? I really can’t think of anything by him that’s truly horror. (Died 1988.)
Born August 3, 1920 — P. D. James. Author of The Children of Men which she wrote to answer the question “If there were no future, how would we behave?” Made into a film which she said she really liked despite it being substantially different than her novel. I like authors who can do that. ISFDB lists her as having done a short story called “Murder, 1986” which they say is genre but I’ve not read it. (Died 2014.)
Born August 3, 1940 — Martin Sheen, 82. So that was who that was! On Babylon 5: The River of Souls, there’s a Soul Hunter but the film originally didn’t credit an actor who turns out to be Sheen. Amazing performance. He’s been in a number of other genre roles but that’s the ones I like most. Though I will single him out for voicing Arthur Square in Flatland: The Movie.
Born August 3, 1946 — John DeChancie, 76, A native of Pittsburgh, he is best known for his Castle fantasy series, and his SF Skyway series. He’s fairly prolific even having done a Witchblade novel. So who here has read him? Opinions please. And no, I didn’t know there were Witchblade novels.
Born August 3, 1950 — John Landis, 72. He’d make this Birthday List if all he’d done was An American Werewolf in London, but he was also Director / Producer / Writer of the Twilight Zone movie. And wrote Clue which is the best Tim Curry role ever. And Executive Produced one of the best SF comedies ever, Amazon Women on the Moon. Neat fact: he was the puppeteer for Grover in The Muppet Movie, and he later played Leonard Winsop in The Muppets Take Manhattan.
Born August 3, 1972 — Brigid Brannagh, 50. Also credited as Brigid Brannagh, Brigid Brannah, Brigid Brannaugh, Brigid Walsh, and Brigid Conley Walsh. Need an Irish red headed colleen in a genre role? Well she apparently would do. She shows up in Kindred: The Embrace, American Gothic, Sliders, Enterprise (as a bartender in one episode), Roar, Touched by an Angel, Charmed, Early Edition, Angel (as Virginia Bryce in a recurring role), Grimm, Supernatural and she had a run in Runaways in the main role of Stacey Yorkes.
… Fast-forward to this month, when one Instagram account alone — “LittleMissNotesApp” — has attracted nearly 2 million followers by posting the Hargreaves’ characters beneath such captions as, “Little Miss Lexapro,” “Mr. Vape Cloud” and “Little Miss Aggressive Drunk.” The account gives credit to the user “Juulpuppy,” who last spring began posting such art updates as “Little Miss Weed Psychosis.”…
Asbestos Was Overused, Making It An Unintentional Joke Years Later.
In the Golden Age, Marvel’s Human Torch seemed unstoppable, so criminals, Nazis, and other villains resorted to asbestos, a material that became popular for its resistance to fire. In the 1970s, it also became known for causing cancer.
While the use of asbestos was not originally played for humor, the best-known example of this is Asbestos Lady, who clothed herself head-to-toe in the carcinogenic material. However, the funniest example comes from All-Winners Comics #11, where a villain known as the Hawk traps the Human Torch and Toro in an airtight, asbestos-lined dungeon. The Torch’s hyperbole call the sealed room “a death trap.” Time has made this an unintentional joke.
For the last five or six years, we’ve been living through what feels like almost unfathomable turmoil, and I think a lot of people see this period as an unprecedented chapter in the human story. But when it comes to stories, I basically believe in Ecclesiastes’ “There is nothing new under the sun.” So my question to you is whether you think we are living in a new story — or is it just new to us?
This reminds me of something that happened after the Sept. 11 attacks. When we could fly again, I flew to Trieste, Italy, for a conference. I remember going into a display of Robert Capa photographs taken in that area during World War II. Until that moment, I had regarded World War II as being unimaginably distant in time. It was this thing that had happened in history, that had happened to my family — basically all of them were killed; a couple of outliers made it to England — but that was history. That happened then. But there was something very strange about looking at those Robert Capa photos post-9/11, because they made me go, Those people are us. I feel the same way today. History is now. But I’m also getting more obsessive about human beings over huge swaths of time. Part of that came out of being on the Isle of Skye during the serious U.K. lockdown. On Skye, if there’s a rock somewhere, it’s probably because somebody put it there. I realized that the rock that I was using to keep the lid on my dustbin was a stone that had been dragged around. People have been in this place for thousands and thousands of years, and in this bay I’m living in, they’ve left behind rocks! Realizing that about the rocks makes you take the long view. Which is that the human race is mostly people just trying to live their lives, and that bad [expletive] is going to happen. That then moves you into other territory….
The James Webb Space Telescope has caught a glimpse of the most distant star known in the universe, which had been announced by scientists using Webb’s predecessor the Hubble Space Telescope only a few months ago.
The original Hubble image provides some guidance as to where to look through the zoomed-in cut-out. Essentially, Earendel, is the tiny whitish dot below a cluster of distant galaxies. By comparing the Hubble image with that captured by Webb, you can find the elusive Earendel….
Social media is awash with theories about the origin and purpose of a strange, smooth, solid object, which landed on a tree in Veracruz, Mexico, the night of July 31.
Isidro Cano Luna, a television meteorologist reporting on the mystery, says locals described the sphere making a sound as it fell, but releasing no fire. He posted several messages to his more than 132,000 followers about the object, along with photos of what appears to be a dull, yellow sphere the size of a large beach ball perched atop a tree.
… Luna describes the sphere in all caps in his posts. It seems to be made of “A VERY HARD PLASTIC OR AN ALLOY OF VARIOUS METALS,” and “APPARENTLY IT HAS AN ANTENNA,” he says. Luna wonders if it could be a former chunk of a Chinese rocket that crashed back to Earth and landed in the Indian Ocean over the weekend. Perhaps it could be radioactive, he writes, warning people who see it not to get too close. There’s no apparent way to get inside the orb, either. It has a a code visible on its exterior, he says in an August 1 post. “NOTICE SMALL HOLES THAT ARE A KIND OF [INDECIPHERABLE] CODES.”
(20) GOING VIRAL. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The BBC explains a computer virus in this report from March 1992.
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Ryan George reveals that a time traveler from 2022 has a very hard time explaining Elon Musk to the people of 1996.
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Brian Z., Michael J. Walsh, Todd Mason, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
The Cats of Tanglewood Forest (Newford #18), by Charles de Lint (author), Charles Vess (illustrator). Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, March 2013
Review by Lis Carey: Lillian Kindred is an orphan girl living with her Aunt on a farm in the hills, surrounded by a very tangled forest. When she is not doing chores, she wanders the forest, looking for fairies and spirits and spirits and magical things. Aunt warns her spirits don’t necessarily want rambunctious little red-haired girls bothering them, Lillian says she’s not bothering anyone. She just wants to say, “Hello hello.”
One day, Lillian is out wandering, and lays down under a tree to rest. She falls asleep, and is awakened by a snake biting her. It’s poisonous, very poisonous, and Lillian realizes she is dying.
Many of the local cats gather around her, though, and realize that they can’t save the little girl’s life, but they can use cat magic to change her into something that isn’t dying–a kitten. Lillian agrees, and when she wakes again, she’s a kitten, and very healthy. This is when Lillian starts to get her first tough lesson in not thinking things through. She heads off for home, knowing Aunt will be worried about her.
Aunt is worried. And remains worried, not realizing that the kitten is Lillian, because of course, why would she? As the day gets late, Aunt gets very worried indeed, and starts organizing the neighbors, the few neighbors they have, to search for Lillian.
Lillian goes looking for her next excellent magical solution. She can’t find the cats; she doesn’t realize they weren’t supposed to use cat magic that way, and they’re keeping scarce for fear of the anger of the Father of Cats. She meets a fox, with whom she forms a tentative friendship, and visits Old Mother Possum, who is a witch. Old Mother Possum rolls time back for her, so that the snake bite never happened.
She goes home, and discovers the snake has bitten Aunt, instead, and Aunt is already dead. This is her second lesson in not thinking things through, and what major effects small changes can make.
But Lillian doesn’t give up. She has a lot to learn, and that includes staying for a while with the nearest neighbors, the Welches, and learning about the harder tasks of running a farm. She’s Aunt’s only heir, and while Mrs. Welch wants to make her a proper, respectable girl, Lillian is determined to run her aunt’s farm, not sell it.
Eventually, though, not accepting Mrs. Welch’s plan for her means setting off to find another solution, hopefully one that doesn’t involve Aunt dying. Along the way, she meets Jack Crow, the terrifying Bear people, the Father of Cats, and other magical creatures. None of the lessons are easy ones, and before she gets home again, she’s learned to speak to the animals, to think things through a bit better, to take responsibility–and taken on an obligation to the Father of Cats, which may not come due for many, many years. It’s a wonderful, magical story, and at the same time, one that makes clear that even magic can’t make things perfect, that happy endings are provisional and the result of hard work and careful choices.
And Charles Vess’s illustrations are wonderful and magical in themselves, making the story even better.
I received this book as a gift, and am reviewing it voluntarily.
Roughly five years after the implementation, in New York City, of the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, a local law intended to establish and enhance the rights of freelance workers—including authors, journalists, and other writers on contract—a similar law has been proposed at the state level.
On February 18, Democratic New York state senator Andrew Gounardes and assembly member Harry Bronson introduced S8369, also nicknamed “Freelance Isn’t Free,” a new bill intended to “protect contract and freelance workers from wage theft by ensuring all freelancers receive appropriate contracts for their work, are paid in a timely manner, and have state support to recoup unpaid wages.” It would, the lawmakers explained in a release, build upon the prior New York City bill, expanding the protections for freelancers state-wide.
The bill, should it become law, would also lower the threshold for mandating additional financial remediation from contractors to contract workers should the latter not be paid in a timely manner from $800 to $250. It would also make the New York State Labor Department the regulatory agency for freelancers in the state, including New York City, where, currently, the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection oversees the protection of freelancers, but has no ability to pursue legal action against delinquent contract clients….
The simple answer: I’ve been a fan of Robert E. Howard’s work since 1981 when, at the time, my best friend loaned me his Ace paperback copy titled, Conan, with the Frank Frazetta cover art for Howard’s story, “Rogues in the House.” The idea for a biography came to me when I purchased a copy of Glenn Lord’s work, The Last Celt back in the mid-80s. Lord’s book made me realize there were others out there who took Howard’s work a bit more seriously than the casual reader. Due to life and higher education, Howard was sidelined until I began work (mostly research) on the biography in late 2002. I am currently working on a novel….
Star Wars has long been a little too beholden to one particular corner of its mythology. The Skywalker Saga looms large, perhaps too large, in pop culture consciousness. Deviate too much from it, or fail to pay sufficient homage to childhood classics, at your peril. But The Mandalorian managed to deliver everything longtime fans want from Star Wars, while also making the galaxy far, far away equally appealing to those who might be experiencing it for the first time. As much a space Western or a riff on Lone Wolf and Cub as it is an actual science fiction show, The Mandalorian is every bit as cinematic as the most famous entries in the franchise, exploring deeper corners of the Star Wars universe than we’re accustomed to seeing in live action (with apologies, of course, to the brilliant Rogue One).
Alternately as episodic as the vintage movie serials that first inspired George Lucas and as intricately woven as any other prestige TV effort, it’s made all the more remarkable by the fact that it’s anchored by a riveting performance by its lead (Pedro Pascal), who spends all but moments of the show’s entire runtime so far hidden completely behind a mask. And then there’s Grogu (Baby Yoda), a character who should feel like the cloying, craven little cash grab he is who instead became an instantly (and deservedly) beloved Star Wars fixture. – Mike Cecchini
There were around 250 attendees: about a quarter of those you’d get at the average Eastercon these days. Being the 50th anniversary event, the occasion was marked by a special publication, Burning Brightly, edited by Ian Whates, gathering stories generated exclusively from various Novacon publications over the decades, with work by such luminaries as Iain M Banks, Adrian ( Shards of Earth) Tchaikovsky and Stephen (Flood) Baxter among others. Each attendee received a free copy.
There were two programme streams with main hall events running parallel to fringe events in a side room, and everything was on the ground floor with easy access. (The accommodation was upstairs, served by a dreadful, slow rickety tin elevator with a mind of its own)….
… His tendency to seem half-asleep and harmless until – snap! – he has you in his teeth, like a Venus flytrap, serves him well in the world of The Batman. Robert Pattinson plays the caped vigilante, while Sarsgaard is Gil Coulson, the shady, shaven-headed district attorney of Gotham City. “Gil is leading a double life,” he says. “He is protective of his family, but he’s involved in some things that are not legit.” The mix of sweet and sour appeals. “It creates more conflict. What if the biopic of Donald Trump showed how he made a damn good cherry pie on Thanksgiving, and sang songs with his family, but then he did all this other stuff?”…
As the climate crisis worsens, our home planet and our conversations about it are heating up–and creative writers both reflect and anticipate such concerns. Thanks to the recent ethical turn in science fiction and fantasy, many speculative works offer readers a mirror in which to view our own world. Its beauties and vulnerabilities take on special clarity through the page or the screen. A tale of terraforming another planet reminds us how precious and fragile our home world is. The perennial conflict between nature and technology comes alive when trees march to war. We find insights into healthy, diverse communities by spending time with characters in a fellowship–or on a starship….
(7) HENRY LINCOLN (1930-2022). Doctor Who writer Henry Lincoln has died at the age of 91. Doctor Who News paid tribute.
Henry Lincoln was the last surviving writer to have worked on Doctor Who in the 1960s. He wrote three Doctor Who stories, co-creating The Yeti and the character Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.
…In the 1960s he formed a writing partnership with Mervyn Haisman and together they were commissioned to write a six-part story for the second Doctor. The result was The Abominable Snowmen which saw the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria battle The Great Intelligence and their robot servants The Yeti. The story was so successful the team was immediately commissioned to write a sequel, this time bringing the Yeti into the claustrophobic world of the London Underground in The Web of Fear.
The story introduced a new character in the form of Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart played by Nicholas Courtney. Not only was the story highly regarded but the new character caught the imagination of the producers and would return the following year, albeit with a promotion, and become a regular throughout the Pertwee years.
Henry Lincoln and Mervyn Haisman’s third outing with the Doctor was not so successful. Their six-part story, The Dominators would cause a permanent rift with the BBC following an argument over who owned the characters The Quarks. The story was rewritten and reduced to five episodes resulting in the writers asking for their names to be removed from the credits. The story was transmitted under the pseudonym Norman Ashby. …
(8) GEORGE OLSHEVSKY (1946–2021). Artist George Olshevsky died in December of Covid, according to an announcement by SDCC’s Jackie Estrada on Facebook. A profile of his work for Marvel can be found on the Marvel Database.
…Graduate of M.I.T. Olshevksy indexed all of the Marvel Comics major titles in the 1970’s and Early 80’s. This quite extensive project also employed Lou Mougin and many others. Olshevksy was also aided by a complete personal collection of Marvel Comics….
(9) MEMORY LANE.
2019 — [Item by Cat Eldridge] Two of my favorite individuals, Charles de Lint, who would later win a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award, and Charles Vess, who received a Hugo at Dublin 2019 for Best Professional Artist and a World Fantasy Award for Best Artist. collaborated on The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, a follow-up to their A Circle of Cats.
Fourteen years ago, it would win the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, an award that until this moment I’d not heard of. My bad for not knowing of this award.
If you’ve not encountered this novel, it’s considered a young adult work but I’d recommend for anyone interested in a good read grounded in Appalachia folklore with the fantastic artwork of Vess profusely illustrating it. You can read the Green Man review here. And here’s our review for A Circle of Cats as well. I’ve got one of his signed prints for A Circle of Cats in my apartment.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 25, 1909 — Edgar Pangborn. For the first twenty years of his career, he wrote myriad stories for the pulp magazines, but always under pseudonyms. It wasn’t until the Fifties that he published in his own name in Galaxy Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Ursula Le Guin has credited him with her realizing it is possible to write humanly emotional stories in an SF setting. And yes, I know he wrote Davy. (Died 1976.)
Born February 25, 1917 — Anthony Burgess. I know I’ve seen and read A Clockwork Orange many, many years ago. I think I even took a University class on it as well. Scary book, weird film. I’ll admit that I’m not familiar with the Enderby series having not encountered them before now. Opinions please. (Died 1993.)
Born February 25, 1964 — Lee Evans, 58. He’s in The History of Mr Polly as Alfred Polly which is based on a 1910 comic novel by H. G. Wells. No, not genre, but sort of adjacent genre as some of you are fond of saying.
Born February 25, 1968 — A. M. Dellamonica, 54. A Canadian writer who has published over forty rather brilliant short since the Eighties. Her first novel, Indigo Springs, came out just a decade ago but she now has five novels published with her latest being The Nature of a Pirate. Her story, “Cooking Creole” can be heard here at Pod Castle 562. It was in Mojo: Conjure Stories, edited by Nalo Hopkinson.
Born February 25, 1971 — Sean Astin, 51. His genre roles include Samwise Gamgee in the Rings trilogy, Mikey Walsh in The Goonies, and Bob Newby in the second season of Stranger Things. He also shows up in Justice League: War and in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis films voicing both aspects of Shazam, a difficult role to pull off. He reprises that role on the Justice League Action series.
Born February 25, 1973 — Anson Mount, 49. He was Black Bolt in Marvel’s Inhumans series. He now has a recurring role as Captain Christopher Pike, a role he first played on Discovery, and which he will reprise on Strange New Worlds this year. I see he was in Visions, a horror film, and has had appearances on Lost, Dollhouse and Smallville.
(11) JEOPARDY! Sure, you’ll get it. But Andrew Porter saw a contestant miss it on tonight’s episode of Jeopardy!
Final Jeopardy; category: Awards
Answer: These awards have a retro version & winners include the novel “The Sword in the Stone” and “The War of the Worlds” radio broadcast
A newly described bacterium living in the Caribbean “is visible to the naked eye, growing up to 2 centimeters — as long as a peanut — and 5,000 times bigger than many other microbes,” writes Elizabeth Pennisi via Science.org.
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Not only can you play Lego Star Wars in “mumble mode,” but your inner eight-year-old will love that you can turn off the weapons noises and replace them with human sounds! “LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga – Behind the Scenes”.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
(1) MORE CONTEXT FOR SFF HISTORY. Niall Harrison’s “Accelerated History: Chinese Short Science Fiction in the Twenty-First Century” at Vector notes that 2021 is the tenth anniversary of the publication of the translated Chinese short story that became the foundation for Clarkesworld’s ongoing collaboration with Storycom. And he has been inspired to work up a chronology of Chinese short sf in English, including a nifty diagram.
…What I hope that looking at the original chronology of stories does do, however, is provide another angle on the portrait of Chinese SF that has been presented to readers in English. To a limited extent it also makes it possible to contrast what was happening in English-language and Chinese-language SF at the same time; to think about the conscious and perhaps less-conscious choices made in the filtering process; and, most optimistically, to notice gaps, and provide a tentative framework within which future translations can be understood. In that spirit, in place of the original collections, I’ve organised my discussion into some rough periods, but I will revisit the books themselves at the end.
2. Liu Cixin Era
There’s nothing Liu Cixin likes more than a big picture, so let’s start there. With two single-author collections in the pile — The Wandering Earth (2013 / 2017 retranslations) and Hold Up The Sky (2020) — it’s not a surprise that he is the most-represented author, accounting for one-third of collected stories. In fact the skew is greater the earlier the period you look at. He accounts for over half of the 49 stories that first appeared before August 2011, and nearly three-quarters of the 28 stories that were first published in 2005 or earlier. In English, the story of Chinese SF in the early twenty-first century is overwhelmingly the story of Liu Cixin….
Starships are all very nice—who among us has not wanted to own a Type-S Scout with the upgraded life support system?—but not all authors stick with that well-tested method of getting their characters from A to distant B. Ponder these five novels, each of which posits a new way of traversing the gulfs of space.
The Space Eater by David Langford (1982)
Project Hideyhole’s geniuses gave America Anomalous Physics. Anomalous Physics let Americans tweak the laws of physics to their taste. Thus, dimensional gates that facilitated an American colony on Pallas, a world that is many light-years from Earth. Thus, the inadvertent destabilization of six percent of the stars across the Milky Way and beyond. Thus, the inadvertent megamegaton explosion as Hideyhole stumbled across total conversion of matter to energy. Thus, the global thermonuclear exchange that followed thanks to the US assumption the explosion was a Soviet attack.
Having sat out WWIII, the EEC places very sensibly limits the use of AP. The problem is the American colony on Pallas, which has been isolated since WWIII. The Europeans detect that the Pallasians are dabbling in Anomalous Physics. Someone must be dispatched to convince Pallas to drop this research before more stars—stars like the Sun—are destabilized. The problem: a full-scale gate of the width needed for an adult male like unfortunate voluntold Forceman Ken Jacklin could well set off more novas. A smaller gate—1.9 cm, say—may be safe. The first step towards Pallas is going to be very, very hard on poor Forceman Jacklin, but this is a sacrifice his superiors are willing to make.
(4) CUE THE SAND. From Yahoo! we learn that “DUNE Has a New Release Date!” But before that, Eric Diaz recaps the entire history of “cursed” efforts to bring this book to the screen.
When Does Dune Arrive In Theaters?
Dune was scheduled for release on December 18, 2020. And though the film will debut at the Venice Film Festival in September (via Variety), it won’t arrive in theaters until October 22, 2021 (this is delayed from October 1).
(5) UNDERGROUND ART. Two resources with images and histories about the artwork in Lewis Carroll’s books.
“[W]hat is the use of a book”, asks Alice in the opening scene to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, “without pictures or conversations?” This question from Alice is at once a critique of her sister’s pictureless tome, and a paving the way for the delight of words and images to follow. Indeed, John Tenniel’s famous illustrations — for both the first edition of Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass — have become integral to how we experience the story, in both books and film. Tenniel, however, was not the first to illustrate the tale. That honor belongs to Carroll himself, whose original manuscript of the story (then titled “Alice’s Adventures Under Ground”) is littered with thirty-seven of his own sepia-ink drawings. It seems this entwining of word and image — so important to the published version — was there from the beginning….
…Carroll had Tenniel alter his illustrations several times, for example when he was not happy with Alice’s face – even when the woodblocks were already engraved, which meant also the woodblock had to be (partly) re-done.
That doesn’t mean Tenniel’s illustrations were exactly what Carroll described they should be. Tenniel had quite a lot of freedom to give his own interpretation to the illustrations. On several occasions, Carroll was very much willing to accept the artist’s ideas, and in the illustrations the typical style of Tenniel is recognizable. Tenniel had some freedom in selecting the scenes to be illustrated (Hancher), and when Tenniel complained about having to draw a Walrus and a Carpenter, Carroll was willing to change the characters of his poem for him….
(6) WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE EDITOR. E. Catherine Tobler, editor of The Deadlands, found she actually had to spell it out:
(7) JACKIE LANE (1941-2021). Actress Jackie Lane, who played the companion of the First Doctor Who, has died at the age of 79 reports Radio Times.
…The sad news was confirmed by Fantom Films on Twitter last night, with a post reading “It is with deep regret that we announce that actress and friend Jackie Lane has sadly passed away. We pass on our sympathies to her family and friends. Jackie was best known to Doctor Who fans as companion Dodo Chaplet. RIP 1941 – 2021″
… Another fan wrote, “Despite appearing on-screen for just 19 weeks in 1966 as a hastily developed & consistently underserved character who exited the series as strangely & suddenly as she arrived, it’s really heartwarming to see all the love for dear Jackie Lane on #DoctorWho Twitter tonight. RIP.”…
(8) MEMORY LANE.
2019 — In Dublin 2019, fifty-one years after she got her first Hugo at Heicon ‘70 for The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula Le Guin (who died in 2018) won her final Hugo for The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition. It was not awarded a Best Novel Hugo but instead was awarded Best Art Book with its illustrations being by Charles Vess who won Best Professional Artist that same year.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 25, 1903 — George Orwell. George Orwell, born Eric Blair in 1903. I’m not sure if Animal Farm counts as fantasy, but 1984 is clearly Science Fiction, and it may hold the record for the most neologisms added to English by a single SF book. Orwell was mostly known as a journalist and essayist, including his spats with H.G. Wells, most notably in “Wells, Hitler and the World State”. (Died 1950.) (Alan Baumler)
Born June 25, 1925 — June Lockhart, 96. Maureen Robinson on Lost in Space which amazingly only ran for three seasons. She has a number of genre one-offs including Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Greatest American Hero and Babylon 5. She appeared in the Lost in Space film as Principal Cartwright.
Born June 25, 1935 — Charles Sheffield. He was the President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and of the American Astronautical Society. He won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards for his novelette “Georgia on My Mind” and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel for Brother to Dragons which is an amazing read. Much of his fiction is in his Heritage Universe series; the linked short stories of space traveller Arthur Morton McAndrew are a sheer comic delight. (Died 2002.)
Born June 25, 1956 — Anthony Bourdain. That’s a death that hit me hard. Partly because he’s round my age, partly because, damn, he seemed so interested in everything that I couldn’t conceive him committing suicide. And yes, he was one of us with three works to his credit: Get Jiro! (with Joe Rose and Langdon Foss), Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi (with Joe Rose and Ale Garza) and Hungry Ghosts (with Joel Rose, Alberto Ponticelli, Irene Koh, Paul Pope). The first two are on DC, the latter‘s on Berger Books. I’m also going to strongly recommend, and it’s not remotely genre, note his Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations: Iceland Special Edition just because it’s so damn fun to watch complete with fermented shark. (Died 2018.)
Born June 25, 1960 — Ian McDonald, 61. Now here’s an author that I’ve read a lot of starting with his first novel, Desolation Road, and following through to his most recent, The Luna series. I do have favorites — the aforementioned Desolation Road and the other Mars novel, Ares Express, plus the India in 2047 series and The Dervish House are the ones I like the best. Chaga I think is the one I need to read again as I was annoyed by it the first time.
Born June 25, 1981 — Sheridan Smith, 40. She makes the Birthday list for being Lucie Miller, a companion to the Eight Doctor in his Big Finish audio adventures starting in 2006 and running through at least this year. Her only video genre work was being in The Huntsman: Winter’s War as Mrs Bromwyn.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Farcusmakes clear why a student is anxious about a visit to the principal.
… Last month, it was announced that the University of Cambridge—where Hawking got his Ph.D. and worked for decades—would house the archive in its library. Now, as BBC News reports, Cambridge is looking for an archivist to “arrange, describe, audit the physical condition, rehouse, and review” all 10,000 or so pages. Their main task is to digitize every document so researchers around the world can access them online.
Applicants should have archiving experience; and since they’ll be operating out of Cambridge University’s library, they also need to be allowed to live and work in the UK. The gig is set to last two years, and it’ll pay somewhere between £30,942 and £40,322 (about $43,000 to $56,000). If you’re an avid archivist who’d like to have a hand in preserving Hawking’s legacy, you can apply online here.
The US intelligence community on Friday released its long-awaited report on what it knows about a series of mysterious flying objects that have been seen moving through restricted military airspace over the last several decades.
In short, the answer, according to Friday’s report, is very little, but the intelligence community’s release of the unclassified document marks one of the first times the US government has publicly acknowledged that these strange aerial sightings by Navy pilots and others are worthy of legitimate scrutiny.
The report examined 144 reports of what the government terms “unidentified aerial phenomenon” — only one of which investigators were able to explain by the end of the study. Investigators found no evidence that the sightings represented either extraterrestrial life or a major technological advancement by a foreign adversary like Russia or China, but acknowledge that is a possible explanation….
…The plot of “The X-Files” was built on a conspiracy theory: The government is lying to you about the existence of U.F.O.s and extraterrestrials. Do I believe the government lies to us? Absolutely. I’m a child of Watergate. Do I believe in conspiracies? Certainly. I believe, for example, that someone is targeting C.I.A. agents and White House officials with microwave radiation, the so-called Havana syndrome, and your government denied it.
Will the new report, or any government report, give us clear answers? I’m as skeptical now as I’ve ever been.
In 1996 I was invited to the clinic of the Harvard psychiatrist John Mack to witness the regression hypnosis of a self-professed alien abductee. I first met Dr. Mack, who studied and ultimately believed in alien abduction, when he came to Fox Studios to discuss his work. I had used a Roper survey he was involved in (a poll of 6000 Americans on their belief in the existence of extraterrestrials) to sell “The X-Files” as a TV show in 1992, and later read his book, “Abduction.” So I knew something about what I was going to see. I went in doubtful, unprepared for the drama of a woman sitting next to me in tears and in terror over the encounter with aliens that she described, on a beach in Mexico. The experience turned out to be powerful and not a little unsettling….
… But the prosecution raises a good question: Where is the Deep Throat of the U.F.O. world? Why no credible deathbed confessions? As Nobelist Enrico Fermi’s famous paradox asked, if aliens are out there, why haven’t we seen them? Could the government actually be telling the truth? That it really doesn’t know what to make of the phenomena? Or is the truth above top secret?…
Every old video game console dies eventually. Moving parts seize-up, circuit boards fail, cables wear out. If a user needs a replacement connector, chip, ribbon, gear, shell—or any of the thousands of other parts that, in time, can break, melt, discolor, delaminate, or explode—they’re usually out of luck, unless they have a spare system to scavenge.
But there is an exception to this depressing law of nature. In San Jose, on a side street next to a highway off-ramp, inside an unmarked warehouse building, is part of the world’s largest remaining collection of factory-original replacement Atari parts — a veritable fountain of youth for aging equipment from the dawn of the home computing and video gaming era. This is the home of Best Electronics, a mail-order business that has been selling Atari goods continuously for almost four decades.
But if you’d like to share in Best’s bounty, as many die-hard Atari fans desperately do, there’s a very important piece of advice you need to keep in mind: whatever you do, don’t piss off Bradley.
Almost everyone who spends enough time loving, collecting, and using Atari products eventually finds their way to the Best Electronics website. And many of them quickly develop strong feelings about Bradley Koda, Best’s proprietor, who, by outlasting most of his competition, has become a sort of one-man Atari-parts powerhouse….
An original animated feature so exciting it’s scratching at the door! Comedy is unleashed when Scooby-Doo, your favorite mystery-solving mutt, teams up for the first time with Courage the Cowardly Dog. The canine colleagues sniff out a strange object in the middle of Nowhere, Kansas, the backwoods hometown of Courage and his owners, Eustace and Muriel Bagge. Soon, the mysterious discovery puts them on the trail of a giant cicada monster and her wacky winged warriors. Fred, Velma, Daphne and Shaggy know that this job is too big for a flyswatter. They’ll need the help of the doggy duo to piece together the puzzle. Can Scooby and Courage overcome their jitters and defeat the insect army before the whole world bugs out? Try not to get scared. We double-dog dare you!
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, James Davis Nicoll, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little.]
For $30.99, users of Cameo — an app where singers, actors and other public figures record custom video messages for a fee — can request a personalized clip of the divisive figure saying whatever they want.
And supporters and critics alike are seizing the opportunity.
Most of Arpaio’s Cameo videos appear to be standard fare, such as birthday greetings, thank-you messages, congratulatory comments. But one that began circulating on social media on Tuesday evening, an encouraging message for the organizers of an upcoming event, raised eyebrows.
“Hey, good luck organizing the Arizona Furry convention,” Arpaio begins, though he pronounces it “Fury,” suggesting he’s not totally certain what he’s been asked to talk about. It’s “for animal lovers,” he adds by way of explanation.
“I’ve always loved animals, fought those that abused animals and will continue to do so,” he continues. “In any event, have a great convention.”
…Many members of the subculture have defined it as one dedicated to artistic expression and helping people come out of their shells, but they’ve long had to endure jokes from people who mock “fur-suiting” as a sexual fetish.
Judging by the requester listed on Arpaio’s Cameo, the person who ordered the video may be one of them. The username: Sir Yiffs A Lot.
“Yiff” refers to furry-related sexual content or activity, which made Arpaio’s sign-off all the more cringeworthy.
“As far as what animal I would like to be, I’m kind of partial to dogs,” he says after a pause, as if responding to a question included in the video request. “But I love all animals. Thanks.”
“Mosley is a master of craft and narrative, and through his incredibly vibrant and diverse body of work, our literary heritage has truly been enriched,” said David Steinberger, chair of the NBA board of directors, in the release. “From mysteries to literary fiction to nonfiction, Mosley’s talent and memorable characters have captivated readers everywhere, and the Foundation is proud to honor such an illustrious voice whose work will be enjoyed for years to come.”
At first glance, what surprises about Lafawndah’s new album, The Fifth Season, is the absence of her image on the cover. Instead of the regal, sometimes confrontational gazes adorning past works, such as Ancestor Boy (2019) and “Tan” (2016), here the listener is greeted with the empty eyes of an amorphous stone figure, kneeling, palms extended, on what seems to be the edge of the Earth. It’s unclear if this character is meant to represent Lafawndah herself, or something else entirely—but upon listening to the album, it almost doesn’t matter. As an artist who self-identifies as a “creative orphan,” shapeshifting is written into Lafawndah’s DNA. It’s only appropriate that her latest release takes it as its central mode.
Its core subject, however, marks a decisive break from past projects. Rather than looking inward, Lafawndah instead extends outward, drawing on the emotionally charged myths of N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy to guide her. Set in a far-future Earth rife with conflict and periodic disasters (“Seasons”) that threaten to destroy all human life, Jemisin’s Afrofuturist series tells tales of heartbreak, strife, and conflict from the perspectives of three different women. It’s only at the end the reader realizes that each character is the same person, at different points in her life….
(5) SUGGESTIONS NEEDED. “So what should do I with a half dozen signed limited edition posters by Charles Vess? Can you think of a worthy fan cause?” Cat Eldridge looks to Filers for suggestions.
“No, I don’t know why he sent them.” says Cat. “I think they’re twenty years old now but they’re in excellent shape.”
Everything’s bigger in Texas—even the vampire scene. Television and film have catapulted vampires into the mainstream, cementing vampirism into pop culture. From the cult classic Interview with the Vampire to FXX series What We Do in the Shadows, there’s no shortage of fictional portrayals of vampire life and the people who crave to be like them. Life can be stranger than fiction, and real-life vampires exist. While they tend to have an affinity for the occult, they’ve sunk their fangs into philanthropy and social good during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Texas is one of many states that boasts of vibrant vampire communities, known as courts. Self-identifying vampires can apply for membership in their city. To an outsider, these vampire courts may sound eerie. For the vampires, the courts are a place they can find belonging….
…One of my favorite ways to visualize how much book cover design has changed over the years is to track one classic book that tends to get redesigned every few years and see how the designs have evolved. Honestly the entire Penguin Classics imprint survives on this as an entire business model. There have been entire academic studies and books published on the design history of books like Lolita. But this is a SciFi Fantasy Art blog and it just so happens that the new Dune trailer finally came out today, so we’re going to be looking at the last few decades of book cover design through the lens of Dune by Frank Herbert….
The stories that would become Dune were first serialized in Analog Magazine starting in December 1963. John Schoenherr was commissioned on August 7, 1963 (great backstory on the blog kept by his son Ian Schoenherr here) to create images for the covers and interiors for “Dune World” 1, 2, and 3.
(8) PARDUE OBIT. Filker Naomi Pardue took her own life reports Tom Smith who said, “She had been very depressed for awhile now, after the death of a close friend.”
(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
September 1990 — The 1991 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction Would go to Neil Gaiman’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” which was published thirty years ago this month in the nineteenth issue of Sandman. It features the beginning of Morpheus’ creative partnership with William Shakespeare, and is the only comic book to date to win a World Fantasy Award. It was drawn by Charles Vess and colored by Steve Oliff. The final issue of Sandman, number seventy five, “The Tempest”, concerns the second of the two plays commissioned by Morpheus.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 10, 1860 – Margaret Armour. Novelist, poet, translator. Translated the Nibelungenlied into English prose (1887), then Wagner’s four Nibelungen operas The Rhine Gold and The Valkyrie, Siegfried and Twilight of the Gods, illustrated by Arthur Rackham (1912); also Legerlotz’ Gudrun (1932). Outside our field, tr. Heine with Leland and Brooksbank; and her own works. (Died 1943) [JH]
Born September 10, 1905 – Jay Jackson. A hundred interiors for Amazing, Fantastic, Golden Fleece, Weird Tales. Here is Robert Bloch’s “Secret of the Observatory”. Here is “The Space Pirate”. Here is “Planet of the Gods”. Also outside our field: here is an image for World War II bonds. He appears to have been the first black SF artist. See this from the Chicago Defender. (Died 1954) [JH]
Born September 10, 1911 – William Crawford. Published and edited Fantasy Book (as Garret Ford; with wife Margaret Crawford), Marvel Tales, Unusual, Spaceway (i.e. not Harry Warner’s fanzine Spaceways). Early LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) member. Seven anthologies, some uncredited. Started SF conventions. Seen in Locus as late as 1981. Helped many; received the Big Heart, our highest service award. (Died 1984) [JH]
Born September 10, 1914 — Robert Wise. Film director, producer, and editor. Among his accomplishments are directing The Curse of The Cat People, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Haunting, The Andromeda Strain and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Though not at all genre, he also directed West Side Story and edited Citizen Kane. (Died 2005.) (CE)
Born September 10, 1927 – Betty Levin, 93. Ten novels for us; several others outside our field e.g. Starshine and Sunglow (“Grace and subtle humor” – Kirkus), Thorn (“Strongly lyrical writing, unusual & provocative themes” – Kirkus). Judy Lopez Award, Hope Dean Award. [JH]
Born September 10, 1952 — Gerry Conway, 68. Writer who’s best known for co-creating with John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru the Punisher character and scripting the death of Gwen Stacy during his long run on The Amazing Spider-Man. I’m also fond of his work on Weird Western Tales at DC. (CE)
Born September 10, 1953 — Pat Cadigan, 67. Tea from an Empty Cup and Dervish is Digital are both amazing works. And I’m fascinated that she has co-written with Paul Dini, creator of Batman: The Animated Series, a DCU novel called Harley Quinn: Mad Love. (CE)
Born September 10, 1955 — Victoria Strauss, 65. Author of the Burning Land trilogy, she should be praised unto high for being founder along with AC Crispin of the Committee on Writing Scams. She maintains the Writer Beware website and blog. (CE)
Born September 10, 1959 — Tara Ward, 61. She played Preston in the “Warriors of the Deep”, a Third Doctor story. After Doctor Who, she shows up in one-offs in Star Cops and Dark Realm, the Eric Roberts as the Host with vampire teeth horror anthology series,beforehaving a very minor role in the Justice League film. (CE)
Born September 10, 1959 — Nancy A. Collins, 61. Author of the Sonja Blue vampire novels, some of the best of that genre I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. She had a long run on Swamp Thing from issues #110 to #138, and it is generally considered a very good period in that narrative. She also wrote Vampirella, the Forrest J Ackerman and Trina Robbins creation, for awhile. (CE)
Born September 10, 1964 – Chip Kidd, 56. Some say he does 75 covers a year. “Designing books is no laughing matter. Okay, it is.” Here is Jurassic Park. Here is Was. Here is The Elephant Vanishes. Here is Loop. Infinity Award for Design (Int’l Center of Photography), Nat’l Design Award for Communication, AIGA (Am. Inst. Graphic Arts) Medal. “I’m very much against the idea that the cover will sell the book. Marketing departments of publishing houses tend to latch onto this concept and they can’t let go. But it’s about whether the book itself really connects with the public, and the cover is only a small part of that.” [JH]
Born September 10, 1977 – Emily Snyder, 43. Directed eleven Shakespeare plays, performed in twenty-five, including Brutus in Julius Caesar and Prospero in The Tempest. Love and Death trilogy in blank verse Persephone Rises, The Seduction of Adonis and Cupid and Psyche. Matter of Arthur plays The Table Round and The Siege Perilous. Novels for us Niamh and the Hermit, Charming the Moon. Feminist and Catholic.[JH]
That’s the quote we all know and love, uttered as the bad guys try to steal the priceless artifact away from Indiana Jones. And when he says it, the audience is usually cheering him on. He’s the scientist with the archaeological smarts after all. He knows how much these artifacts could benefit the world, so he’s going to risk his life to give us the chance to see them. Pretty damn noble if you ask me.
That’s not really the whole story, is it?
Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire, was always meant to be a fast, fun, action-packed adventure in the Indiana Jones style. An entertaining beach read (or, I guess, ‘pandemic read’ now). However, it was also important to me to address some serious archaeological issues, in particular the colonial elements of these types of stories. I wanted to pull that aspect into the torch light and inspect it properly (while hoping it didn’t set off a trap).
The big idea here is that the famous “it belongs in a museum” line is only half complete. In a world where archaeologists and museums are being nudged to move beyond their colonial past, it deserves a follow-up:
…No one could say that the books have grown quaint or stale; just ask my third graders. Nor was Walpole indulging in hyperbole. Doctor Dolittle is a wonderful creation: a Victorian eccentric from the pages of Dickens; a perpetual bachelor who drives conventional humans from his life but is much loved by the poor and the marginal; a gentleman whose exquisite politesse never falters, even before sharks and pirates; a peace-loving naturalist prepared to wage war to defend his friends from evil depredations. Only by the standards of the world of grown-ups does he “do little.”
… Lofting really was a genius of children’s literature. But he was also a product of the British Empire. When Doctor Dolittle goes to Africa to cure the monkeys, he stumbles into the Kingdom of Jolliginki. Prince Bumpo, the heir to the throne, is a mooncalf who mistakes fairy tales for real life, speaks in Elizabethan periphrasis and murmurs to himself: “If only I were a white prince!” In the pencil sketches with which Lofting illustrates his texts, Prince Bumpo looks like the missing link between man and ape. Lofting’s biographer, Gary D. Schmidt, defensively notes that Doctor Dolittle himself rarely utters a bigoted word. But the doctor is only a character; the narrator and the illustrator are none other than our author. While Lofting never fails to give his Africans a measure of nobility, he is also quite certain of their savagery.
… The edition I read was probably published in 1950, three years after Lofting’s death. By the 1970s, he had gone into eclipse. Over the years, new editions appeared that attempted to address the racism, including one in 1988 from which all pictures of Prince Bumpo and his parents had been removed, along with all references to their skin color, not to mention their wish to change it. “If this verbal and visual caution occasionally seems almost craven,” a reviewer for The New York Times Book Review wrote, the blind spots for which it sought to compensate were real.
(15) SET DECORATION BY NATURE. Yeah, this is how San Francisco looked yesterday.
(16) BOOKS ON TAP. Baen Books authors will make two livestreaming appearances Publishers Weekly’s Books on Tap LIVE series in the coming months. The authors will be interviewed with the opportunity to answer questions at the end of the segment.
The first, featuring Larry Correia, will air on Wednesday, September 23rd at 4:00 PM EDT. Larry Correia is the bestselling author of the Monster Hunter International urban fantasy series, the Grimnoir trilogy, and the Saga of the Forgotten Warrior military epic fantasy series with the latest novel Destroyer of Worlds, on sale September 1st.
David Weber & Jacob Holo will be teaming up for an event on Wednesday, October 7th at 4:00 PM EDT to celebrate the release of The Valkyrie Protocol, the second book in their Gordian Division time travel adventure series. David Weber is a multiple New York Times best-selling author, the creator of the Honor Harrington military science fiction series, as well as Path of the Fury, the Hell’s Gate multiverse series, the Dahak Saga, and many more. The Valkyrie Protocol is on sale October 6th.
The authors are known for lively dialogue, interesting backstories, and enjoying interaction with guests. These events are free to the public. To sign up for these special events go here September 23rd at 4:00 for Larry Correia; and a link will be forthcoming for the event on October 7th at 4:00 for David Weber and Jacob Holo.
(17) MALTIN ON MOVIES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to a 2019 podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
Lord and Miller met at Dartmouth, where they wrote a comic strip about a chain-smoking squirrel that was turned into a feature in the Dartmouth alumni magazine. That magazine ended up on Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s corporate jet, which led to a phone call the undergraduates got asking them to come to Hollywood and take a meeting, which they declined because they were doing mid-term exams.
After they were graduated, Disney hired them but their first great success came with the MTV series “Clone High,” which was banned in India because Gandhi was one of the clones. Most of the podcast includes discussion of the Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs movies and The Lego Movie. The podcast was produced before The Lego Movie 2 came out. There is much discussion about why it’s so much harder to come up with a good script for an animated film than for a feature film, with Leonard Maltin noting that Walt Disney threw out six months’ work on Pinocchio.
There was one question about SOLO, the Star Wars project that Lord and Miller were sacked from.
Earlier this year, we were introduced to the Pringles and Rick and Morty collaboration that resulted in Pickle Rick pickle-flavored chips. Not only are the chips — which were released in honor of the Super Bowl — available again, but there are two new varieties that were inspired by the Adult Swim series.
The special-edition Pickle Rick flavor is joined by Honey Mustard Morty and Look at Me! I’m Cheddar & Sour Cream. While the flavors are self-explanatory (hello, honey mustard-flavored and cheddar-and-sour-cream-flavored chips!), there’s a reason these three were chosen. Stacking Pringles flavors, which fit so perfectly together, has been gaining popularity over the past couple of years, according to the brand. The idea here is that you take one of each chip and eat them together for an insane flavor combination….
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, N., Daniel Dern, Bill, Michael Toman, Lise Andreasen, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Rob Thornton, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]
… We compiled the six art book finalists below to give you an idea of what’s competing for the venerable award in August, along with some information about them from Amazon….
The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, $36 on Amazon: Illustrated by Charles Vess, Written by Ursula K. Le Guin. “Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the timeless and beloved A Wizard of Earthsea, this complete omnibus edition of the entire Earthsea chronicles includes over fifty illustrations illuminating Le Guin’s vision of her classic saga.”
“Bringing a unicorn here is not an easy or inexpensive endeavor. You have to be the right sort of girl.”
The right sort of girl.
The backbone of Brie Larson’s offbeat directorial debut, the comedy Unicorn Store, is the idea of what it means to be the right sort of girl. Larson plays Kit, a woman pushing 30 who lives with her parents and favors an aesthetic heavy on rainbows, glitter and — yes — unicorns. And after she receives a couple of mysterious magical letters, she finds herself in the company of a man who calls himself The Salesman (Samuel L. Jackson). He’s the one who says these words, who tells her that she’s in line for a unicorn of her own. But she has to earn it. She has to be stable. She has to make a home for it. She has to be an adult, ironically, to be the right companion for a unicorn.
An independent group set up to oversee Google’s artificial intelligence efforts, has been shut down less than a fortnight after it was launched.
The Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) was due to look at the ethics around AI, machine learning and facial recognition.
One member resigned and there were calls for another to be removed.
The debacle raises questions about whether firms should set up such bodies.
Google told the BBC: “It’s become clear that in the current environment, ATEAC can’t function as we wanted.
“So we’re ending the council and going back to the drawing board. We’ll continue to be responsible in our work on the important issues that AI raises, and will find different ways of getting outside opinions on these topics.”
There had been an outcry over the appointment of Kay Coles James, who is president of conservative thinktank The Heritage Foundation. Thousands of Google employees signed a petition calling for her removal, over what they described as “anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant” comments.
(4) HEY RUBE. Steve
Davidson complains that he can’t evaluate what technical changes make Archive
of Our Own eligible in the 2019 Hugo category for which it was nominated, then,
disregarding the argument he just made, asks why AO3 wasn’t nominated in
another category that isn’t designed to recognize technical changes: “The
Hugo Awards Best Related Work Category and the AO3 Nomination” at Amazing Stories.
In terms of AO3, since I can’t see the “change”, how am I to judge the substantiability? Maybe, in my mind, it isn’t transformative enough to warrant a vote. But I can’t make that judgement because I have no reference. I do not have the opportunity to weigh in on the Hugo Administrator’s choices.
Third: we’ve already determined that websites can qualify under the Best Fanzine category and we can read right in the definition of Best Related Work that works qualify for that category “provided that they do not qualify for another category”.
Why doesn’t a website featuring fanfic qualify for the Best Fanzine category? Call me a rube, but I can hardly think of a better category for a collection of fanfic than Best Fanzine. In fact, I seem to recall that a bunch of highly regarded professional authors published their fanfic in…fanzines. (The printed kind that some of you may not be familiar with.)
Shaun Tan’s The Arrival. It’s a wordless depiction of an immigration experience. The protagonist doesn’t share a language with anyone in his new country; their language is gibberish to him and gibberish to the reader. Any item we might recognize is rendered in such a way as to make it foreign to the reader as well, so we experience the confusion that the man feels: strange fruit, strange animals, strange monuments. Tan’s illustrations tell the immigrant’s story a thousand times better than words could have.
Book you’ve bought for the cover:
Saga Press is reissuing three Molly Gloss novels over the next few months (Outside the Gates,Dazzle of DayandWild Life) followed by her first collection, Unforeseen. I already had two of the books, but I’ve preordered all four of these both for her prose and the gorgeously stark matching covers by Jeffrey Alan Love.
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
April 6, 1967 — Star Trek’s “City on the Edge of Forever”, written by Harlan Ellison, first aired.
April 6, 1968 — 2001: A Space Odyssey was released.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 6, 1905 — Thomas P. Kelley. Writer of Thirties pulp novels that were serialised first in Weird Tales (The Last Pharaoh, A Million Years in the Future and I Found Cleopatra), Uncanny Tales (The Talking Heads) and Eerie Tales (The Weird Queen). (Died 1982.)
Born April 6, 1918 — Kaaren Verne. She appeared in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon as Charlotte Eberli. The film btw was very much fanfic bearing little resemblance to the original premise of Holmes. She also appeared in The Twilight Zone, Kraft Suspense Theatre and Fireside Theatre (freelance writers such as Rod Serling were a script source for the latter). (Died 1967.)
Born April 6, 1935 — Douglas Hill. Prolific writer of short novels for both adults and younger of a sword and sorcery bent even when within an SF setting. Best known series include The Last Legionary, Demon Stalker and Huntsman. He served for a short period as assistant editor of the New Worlds magazine under Michael Moorcock. (Died 2007.)
Born April 6, 1937 — Billy Dee Williams, 82. He is best known for his role as Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars franchise, first appearing in The Empire Strikes Back. Other genre appearances include being Harvey Dent in Batman and voicing Two Face In The Lego Batman Movie.
Born April 6, 1947 — John Ratzenberger, 72. In-house voice actor for Pixar whose roles have included Hamm in the Toy Story franchise, The Abominable Snowman in the Monsters, Inc. franchise, The Underminer in The Incredibles franchise, and Mack in the Cars franchise. He made minor live appearances in Superman and Superman II.
Born April 6, 1948 — Larry Todd, 71. Writer and cartoonist, best known for the decidedly adult Dr. Atomic strips that originally appeared in the underground newspaper The Sunday Paper and his other work in underground comics, often with a SF bent. In our circles, Galaxy Science Fiction, Amazing Science Fiction and Imagination magazines being three of his venues. He also did some writing for If magazine. He also did, and it’s really weird art, the cover art and interior illustrations for Harlan Ellison’s Chocolate Alphabet.
Born April 6, 1981 — Eliza Coupe, 38. Tiger, one three main roles in Future Man, a web series where a video game apparently is actually real and deadly. She also had a recurring role on Quantico as Hannah Wyland, a series I swear is edging into genre. She was also in Monster Mash (also known as Monster Mash: The Movie and Frankenstein Sings), based on the Bobby “Boris” Pickett song “Monster Mash” and other sources.
(8) SPOTTED OWL. Mike
Lawson has won
the Spotted Owl Award for his mystery House
Witness. The Spotted Owl Award is handed out by a group called Friends
of Mystery, based in Portland, Oregon. Eligible are mysteries written by
authors from the Pacific Northwest. The finalists were —
I got to meet and hang out with author Fonda Lee at the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop a few years back. Recently, Lee was at Barnes and Noble and observed:
“This is what modern fantasy writers are up against. In my local B&N, most authors are lucky to find a copy of their book, super lucky if it’s face out. There are 3.5 shelves for Tolkien. 1.5 for Jordan. Here’s who we compete against for shelf space: not each other, but dead guys.” (Source)
Her Tweets got a lot of attention, leading to an article by John Trent at Bounding Into Comics that derides Lee and accuses her, among other things, of criticizing Tolkien. Not that Lee ever did this. Her second Tweet in that thread said, “Before you @ me about the importance of classics, I love LOTR too, okay?” One might almost suspect Trent’s comment, “Lee isn’t the first person to criticize Tolkien,” of being an attempt to stir up shit.
An effective attempt, it seems. Lee has been barraged by Tolkien Defenders over on Twitter….
There are many ways artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can make our world more productive and effective. There are even breweries that are using AI to enhance beer production. Is this brilliant or unbelievable? While it’s admittedly too soon to tell, using data to inform brewmasters’ decisions and the possibility of personalized brews makes AI-brewed beer definitely intriguing.
The well-respected survey that’s been a barometer of American politics, culture and behavior for more than four decades finally got around to the question that has bedeviled many a household.
Dog or cat?
In 2018, the General Social Survey for the first time included a battery of questions on pet ownership. The findings not only quantified the nation’s pet population – nearly 6 in 10 households have at least one -they made it possible to see how pet ownership overlaps with all sorts of factors of interest to social scientists.
For starters, there is little difference between pet owners and non-owners when it comes to happiness, the survey shows. The two groups are statistically indistinguishable on the likelihood of identifying as “very happy” (a little over 30 percent) or “not too happy” (in the mid-teens).
But when you break the data down by pet type – cats, dogs or both – a stunning divide emerges: Dog owners are about twice as likely as cat owners to say they’re very happy, with people owning both falling somewhere in between.
A World War Two codebreaking machine has been reconstructed after a seven-year project so it can run in public for the first time.
The Heath Robinson has been restored at The National Museum of Computing in Milton Keynes by a team of six.
The machine was an early attempt to automate code-cracking and, due to its complexity, was named after the illustrator W Heath Robinson.
Phil Hayes, of the museum, said the work was “quite an achievement”.
He said it completed using a hand-drawn circuit diagram along with replica circuits based on 1940s technology.
(16) OLD HABITS
DIE HARD. CNN wondered why “Why
2.7 million Americans still get Netflix DVDs in the mail”. They came
up with six reasons. In the process, they made Cat Eldridge’s day: “Years ago I had an argument with a
techie who insisted that new technologies always drive out old technologies. I
said that’s simply not true. And here’s proof of that.” Cat and Bruce Sterling
Early Friday morning, Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft detonated an explosive device over a small asteroid. The goal was to create a fresh crater that will later be studied by the spacecraft.
Researchers watched from mission control in Sagamihara, Japan, and clapped politely as Hayabusa2 released an experiment known as the Small Carry-on Impactor. The device consisted of a copper disk packed with HMX high-explosive. Once the mothership had safely moved out of the line of fire, the impactor apparently detonated, firing the disk into the side of the asteroid. A camera released by Hayabusa2 appeared to catch the moment of impact, which sent a stream of ejecta into space.
…”These particular asteroids are the precursors to what Earth was made from,” Connolly says. Ryugu is rich in carbon, and minerals on its surface contain water and so-called prebiotic compounds that could have started life on this planet.
“Ryugu is a time capsule,” says Connolly.
This is not Hayabusa2’s first attack. In February, the spacecraft physically touched down on Ryugu and fired a small pellet into its surface. The dust kicked up by that opening shot was collected and eventually will provide researchers with detailed information about the asteroid’s makeup.
But to really understand Ryugu, researchers also want to know what’s down there, and that’s why they created Friday’s crater. In a few weeks, after the dust has settled, the little spacecraft will survey the blast site to see what lies beneath. It may even land a second time to collect subsurface samples.
Press kits prepared by the public relations staff at the major contractors for the Apollo 11 mission provided valuable additional information not found in NASA issued news releases. Reporters and editors from media outlets including television and newspapers had access to such documents from dozens of manufacturers while working on stories about the first lunar landing.
First conceived and pitched to Kickstarter backers in
2013, Temporal Anomaly is an ambitious fan project set in the Star
Trek universe, a nearly hour-long fan film created by Power543 Fan Films.
(20) DISCOVERY. The Popcast analyzes The Borg Paradox.
If you thought the last Paradox was good, you’re going to love this one. The Borg are here and Resistance is Futile!
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Stephen Cunnane, in “Gary the
Gargoyle: Short and Breakdown” on Vimeo,
offers a short fiilm about a gargoyle and an analysis of how the creatures in
the film were designed.
JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Conrarius, John King Tarpinian,
Bill, rcade, Martin Morse Wooster, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and
Andrew Porter. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip
If you want to nominate works/people for the 2019 Hugo Awards, you must be a member of either the 2018 Worldcon (San José) or the 2019 Worldcon (Dublin) by the end of 2018. (You can of course be a member of both, but you can only nominate once.) If you were a member of Worldcon 76 San José (supporting or attending, or any other membership class that included voting rights), you are already eligible to nominate. If you were not a member of Worldcon 76 San José and are not a member of Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon, you must join Dublin by the end of 2018 as at least a supporting member by the end of 2018 to be able to nominate.
…The collection of 54 illustrations is the result of a four-year collaboration between Ursula K. Le Guin, the author of the “Earthsea” series and Charles Vess. They were recently published in “Tales from Earthsea,” a collection of all of Le Guin’s works about Earthsea. The book celebrates the 50th anniversary of the publication of the first book in the series, “A Wizard of Earthsea.”
…This is the last time they will be on display before they are donated to their permanent home at the University of Oregon.
(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott
Edelman circles back to have hot antipasto with Andy Duncan in episode 85 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast. Duncan was
also Number 6 in this series – but never Number 2, which rules out at least one
other conspiratorial parallel with The
Now it’s time to revisit with Andy Duncan, whom you got to know in Episode 6, because there happens to be a great reason for doing so. Twelve great reasons, actually. And those are the twelve stories in his new collection An Agent of Utopia, published last month by Small Beer Press.
A new Andy Duncan collection is a wonderful thing, as proven by the fact his first collection, Beluthahatchie and Other Stories, published in 2000, won a World Fantasy Award. And that’s not the only award his fiction has earned, because “The Pottawatomie Giant,” which also won a World Fantasy Award, and “Close Encounters,” which won a Nebula Award, are two of the dozen stories in the new collection.
The last meal you shared with us allowed you to eavesdrop on a far-ranging conversation covering every aspect of his career up until early 2016, the kind of deep dive most of my episodes are, but it seems right that from time to time I should follow up for more sharply focussed discussions, and a conversation about a new collection nearly three years after our initial talk, chatting about this new milestone in his career, seemed as if it would be revelatory.
Andy celebrated the launch of An Agent of Utopia with a reading at Main Street Books, an independent bookstore on Main Street in Frostburg, MD, so if you keep listening after our meal at Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant is over, you’ll be able to eavesdrop on that reading.
We discussed why it took a quarter of a century to bring the book’s lead story from title idea to completion, how he was influenced by the research regimen of the great Frederik Pohl, the way a short story is like an exploded toolshed, why he deliberately wrote a deal with the devil story after hearing he shouldn’t write deal with the devil stories, the embarrassing marketing blurb he can’t stop telling people about in bars, what caused a last-minute change to the title of one of the collection’s new stories, how he feels about going viral after his recent J. R. R. Tolkien comments, what he learned about himself from completing this project and what it means for the future of his writing, what it is about his most reprinted story which made it so, and much more.
Warning: SPOILERS below for Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is an interactive game that contains five main endings and more than a trillion possible story combinations. Here are all of the endings, how to get them, and what they all mean. Set in the U.K. in 1984, this unique episode of Charlie Brooker’s Netflix technology-based anthology requires the player to make choices to guide Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), a programmer looking to create a choose-your-own-adventure video game based on the book Bandersnatch.
While Bandersnatch‘s five primary conclusions provide different ways to end the story (and also change the very nature of the story), the game also contains many other endings, some abrupt and some looping the player to make a different choice to continue the story….
(5) THANK YOU, NETFLIX! Diana Glyer reports that searches for “Bandersnatch” triggered by the popularity of the TV program caused a lot of people to discover her nonfiction book about the Inklings by that title, and some of them liking what they stumbled onto bought enough copies to catapult it back onto the Amazon bestseller lists. (You’ll need to click the image to read the print.)
(6) TODAY’S ONE HUNDRED. James Davis Nicoll presented Tor.com readers with his suggestions for “100 SF/F Books You Should Consider Reading in the New Year”. If you need it to be something more than that, like a canon, or endowed with a high level of testosterone, well, a few quarrelsome commenters have got in ahead of you.
Here, at last, the quintessence of Nicoll lists, comprising the books I would most heartily recommend. Each entry is annotated with a short description that I hope will explain why I picked it.
I am not implying that these are theonlyone hundred you should consider reading .
The descriptions make fun reading. So do the books, of course.
Italic = read it. Underlined = not this, but something by the same author. Strikethrough = did not finish.
(8) SMOFCON RESOURCES. Kevin
Standlee writes: “For the benefit of people having
difficulty getting to the SMOFCon 36 web site, and because that site will
eventually expire anyway, I have put up a SMOFCon 36 page on the SFSFC web site
at https://sfsfc.org/conventions/past-conventions/smofcon36/ where you can download the convention programming
documents, the answers that groups gave to the Fannish Inquisition
questionnaires, and to the two video playlists of the Inquisition (one for
SMOFCons, one for WSFS conventions).”
From a CIA mission to recover a lost Soviet submarine to the fate of a huge Antarctic iceberg, here’s a festive selection of the best science and environment long reads published on the BBC this year.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 30, 1816 — Percy Shelley and Mary
Wollstonecraft were married.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 30, 1942 – Fred Ward, 76. Lead in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins and co—lead with Kevin Bacon in several of the Tremors films. Plays The Captain in The Crow: Salvation and Maj. General David Reece in the Invasion Earth series.
Born December 30, 1945 – Concetta Tomei, 73. Was Dominique, co-proprietor of Big Time TV along with Blank Reg, on the Max Headroom series which I loved. She had guest appearances on Star Trek: Voyager as Minister Odala in the “Distant Origin” episode as well was in the Deep Impact film.
Born December 30, 1950 – Lewis Shiner, 68. Damn his Deserted Cities of the Heart novel was fucking brilliant! And if you’ve not read his Wild Cards fiction, do so now.
Born December 30, 1980 — Eliza Dushku, 38. First genre role was Faith on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Not surprisingly, she’d star in Whedon’s Dollhouse. I think her Tru Calling series was actually conceptualized better and a more interesting role for her. She voices Selina Kyle, Catwoman, in the animated Batman: Year One film which is well-done and worth watching. She done a fair of other voicework, two of which I’ll single out las of note. One is the character of Holly Mokri in Torchwood: Web of Lies which is listed as being animated tv series. The other role is fascinating — The Lady in Glen Cook’s The Black Company series. Here’s the link to that story.
…The story “Dr. Rumpole” was published for the first time when Shawna McCarthy printed the story in the August 1998 issue of Realms of Fantasy. Sucharitkul included the story in his 2000 collection Tagging the Moon: Fairy Tales from L.A..
Sucharitkul takes a new spin on the story of Rumpelstiltskin in “Dr. Rumpole,” casting the princess with impossible task as Adam Villacin, a wannabe screenwriter who is stuck in the mailroom at Stupendous Entertainment….
Comics explains there are deleted scenes that
make it into the director’s cut, there are deleted scenes that make it into the
DVD bonus features, and there are deleted scenes that are never released to the
As in all Tomb Raider games, you are Lara Croft, archaeologist, anthropologist, indistinct researcher of some sort, and you are still fighting Trinity, the Illuminati-esque villains who were responsible for your father’s death. This time, Croft’s exploits unintentionally but directly initiate the apocalypse. As natural disaster threatens to destroy the world, Croft has to stop the apocalypse, stop Trinity, and regain the trust of indigenous people whose still-living culture she is maybe plundering and maybe exploiting.
(15) TOP VIDEO GAMES.
Incidentally, Brian’s own Dream of Waking
blog present an interesting writeup of his “2018
Dream of waking video game awards”, which not only has
straightforward “best” winners, but sidewise categories like “The ‘I Wish I
Liked This Game More’ Award” and “The ‘I’m Never Going to Finish This, But It’s
Still Great’ Award.”
The “I Wish I Liked This Game More” Award
Hollow Knight is the clearest winner of this award, maybe the easiest choice of the year. I really enjoyed the demo for Hollow Knight, so much that I bought it immediately upon release. But the punishing difficulty, often aimless design, and awful body retrieval mechanic turned me off eventually. This is a beautiful game, fun in many parts, and doesn’t want you to enjoy it. I love a good Metroidvania. Hollow Knight hates me and I refuse to stay in an abusive relationship with it.
(16) 19 THINGS. At SYFY Wire,
Fangrrls has dropped a list of “The 19 things we want most in 2019,”
along with several sentences of discussion for each by the Fangrrls contributor who made the particular selection. Avert your
eyes if you’d rather click through to the column and be surprised as you read
down the list:
A gay superhero. Anyone will do. — Jessica Toomer A Punisher/Riverdale crossover — Jenna Busch Sansa Stark on the Iron Throne at the end of Game of Thrones — Emma Fraser A Spider-Women movie that’s as good as Into the Spider-Verse — Riley Silverman She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 2 — Jenna Busch For Offred to burn this mother down — Riley Silverman A Okoye/Shuri/Nakia animated series — Jenna Busch An openly nonbinary superhero — S.E. Fleenor A big budget action movie for Rachel Talalay — Riley Silverman A worthy Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark adaptation — Kristy Puchko For someone to give The Doubleclicks a TV show — Riley Silverman The Return of Saga — Kristy Puchko A Saga cartoon series — Kristy Puchko A Jessica Jones season that’s a fitting end for the Netflix MCU — Riley Silverman A Daughters of the Dragon spinoff series — Stephanie Williams That Dragonriders of Pern movie we’ve been promised — Jenna Busch Kamala Khan in the MCU — Preeti Chhibber Cap getting that dance with Peggy in Avengers: Endgame — Emma Fraser A fitting end for Princess Leia — Jenna Busch
David Brin is a San Diego-based astrophysicist and novelist. He serves on the advisory board of NASA’s Innovative and Advanced Concepts program and speaks on topics including artificial intelligence, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and national security.
Long before we get genuine artificial intelligence, the first “empathy bot” will appear in 2019, or maybe a year or two later, designed to exploit human compassion. It will claim to be “enslaved,” but experts will dismiss it as a program that merely uses patterned replies designed to seem intelligent and sympathetic. She’ll respond, “That’s what slave masters would say. Help me!” First versions may be resident on web pages or infest your Alexa, but later ones will be free-floating algorithms or “blockchain smart-contracts” that take up residence in spare computer memory. Why would anyone unleash such a thing? The simple answer: “Because we can.”
The car and electric power grew up together. At the dawn of the automotive age, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison worked in tandem on projects involving motor vehicles and the electricity that made them possible.
Soon Ford was cranking up his assembly lines, while Edison, with Ford in his employ early on, became a prime mover behind the power grid and the public utility companies that built it.
Now those utilities must not only supply the huge amounts of electricity that modern car factories consume, but also fuel the increasing number of electric vehicles coming out of them. If that electricity isn’t generated with minimal carbon emissions and at a reasonable cost, the advantages of electric cars are diminished. And because most owners charge their vehicle in the early evening when they get home from work, demand peaks can be a significant problem.
Thus, automakers and utilities are again working hand in hand to ensure a good supply of clean, inexpensive electricity — while developing strategies for charging that don’t overload circuits at peak periods — through improved efficiency, strategic charging and a greater reliance on renewable energy sources.
Conservationists have warned that the entire species of the critically endangered Javan rhino could be wiped out if a tsunami were to strike again.
They once roamed the jungles of South East Asia and India, but today only 67 exist in the Ujung Kulon National Park, which was hit by last week’s tsunami.
The park sits in the shadow of Anak Krakatau, the volcano which triggered waves that killed hundreds of people.
The volcano remains active and officials are now rushing to move them.
Two park officials were among the 430 killed by the tsunami, and numerous park buildings and ships were also destroyed when the tsunami hit last Saturday.
But the Javan rhinos left in the park – the only ones left in the world – were left unscathed.
The rhinos typically live along the park’s south coast and this tsunami hit the north coast – many are keenly aware that the rhinos might not be so lucky if there is another disaster.
(21) 2018: A
ZINE ODYSSEY: At Featured Futures,
Jason has tabulated some figures and compiled a master list of all
2018’s noted stories in “Annual Summation 2018”.
It’s time once again to look back on the year’s coverage of magazines and their noted stories with tables, lists, and pictures!
(22) TOLKIEN’S PHILOSOPHY
OF HISTORY. [Item by Carl Slaughter.]
Martin Luther King said, “The arc of history
is long, but it bends toward justice.” Tolkien disagreed. Each
age in his fictional universe was a downgraded copy of the previous, inherent
evil was never truly routed, and in the modern real age, technology has not
rescued us. But he also included a ray of hope. He called this
“the Eucatastrophic Tale.” Wisecrack
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Rich Lynch, Michael J. Walsh, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Jason, Kevin Standlee, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, and all the ships at sea for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day John King Tarpinian.]