(1) GLASGOW 2024 REOPENS HUGO NOMINATIONS. Members of Glasgow 2024 were notified today that online nominations for the Hugo Awards are working again.
One day after they initially went live on January 27, the committee announced in social media, “We are aware of an issue with nominations. We have taken that system offline as a precaution.” There is no extension to the originally announced deadline; all nominations must be received by Saturday, March 9, 2024, 16:00 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) (UTC+0). Detailed instructions for how to nominate, plus more specific information about the nomination categories and eligibility, are available here.
(2) CASHING IN. AbeBooks shared their “Most expensive sales in 2023”, and several are sff or comics.
1. Thomas Pynchon Collection – $125,000
Thomas Pynchon is one of America’s most reclusive novelists and the author of V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity’s Rainbow, Slow Learner, Vineland, Mason and Dixon, Inherent Vice, and Bleeding Edge.
This is a collection of 246 items comes from a fine private library.
Highlights include: an advance reading copy of V. (1963), Pynchon’s first novel, in its original wrapper, as well as a first edition copy of V. in a dust jacket, advance unbound signatures and an uncorrected proof of Gravity’s Rainbow (1973), the binder’s dummy of Mason & Dixon (1997) in a proof dust jacket, and more.
“Assembled over a lifetime by a dedicated private collector, this remarkable collection of Thomas Pynchon’s work contained over 240 items. One would be hard-pressed to find a more bibliographically complete collection containing so many Pynchon rarities in such perfect condition.”
2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – $85,620
This true first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published by Bloomsbury in June of 1997. Only 500 copies were printed, 200 of which were used to promote the book, and 300 were provided to libraries. This copy was originally owned by Edinburgh Public Library in Rowling’s hometown. She wrote the novel while sitting in various cafes around the Scottish city.
The book’s library card shows that it was borrowed 27 times between December 15, 1997 and October 12, 1999 before it was withdrawn from service. Those 27 readers were among the first people to experience the magic of Hogwarts.
This copy is a hardcover and was issued without a dust jacket. It has been restored and housed in a full red leather box lined with black suede. The sale marks our second most expensive sale of all time, and shows that the Harry Potter phenomenon, which began in 1997, has not diminished.
This is likely the most expensive online sale of a first edition of the Philosopher’s Stone. Another first edition sold at a live auction for $471,000 in 2021….
7. The Chronicles of Narnia Set by C.S. Lewis – $45,699
This remarkable set is made up of the first editions of each book in the author’s classic Chronicles of Narnia series, which has sold over 100 million copies and been translated into 47 languages….
10. Calvin and Hobbes: The Last Sunday, “Let’s Go Exploring” by Bill Watterson – $35,000
A rarity, this large color proof of the final Calvin and Hobbes strip is signed by Bill Watterson.
Calvin and Hobbes was a daily comic strip that ran between 1985 and 1995. It became hugely successful and was featured in thousands of newspapers around the globe.
This signed color proof was one of a small number produced and sent as a thank-you gift from Watterson to select newspapers who carried the strip.
(3) FREE READS. Analog and Asimov’s are offering their short fiction that made the Locus Recommended Reading List for readers to enjoy.
“The Tinker and the Timestream”, Carolyn Ives Gilman (3-4/23)
“Jamais Vue”, Tochi Onyebuchi (1-2/23)
(4) 100. Sunday Morning Transport, in search of subscribers, also has a free read: “A Hundred Secret Names” by Margaret Ronald.
My forty-eighth secret name is Accurate-in-Speech, so you will know that every word I say to you tonight is true.
I was born under the ice mountains, the second-youngest of a clutch of five. Like me, my siblings were loud and demanding in our fiery infancy, and unlike me, they are uninteresting. My mother was much the same; the only importance she has is that before she left us for good (for we had grown near her size and would soon be extinguished enough to venture out), she took each of us aside and whispered to us our first secret names. My siblings, being what they were, immediately told each other and reveled in this new ability to be individually loud. I, being as I am, wisely kept my name to myself….
(5) DUNE WHAT COMES NATURALLY. It’s really a thing. And Mashable conducted blindfolded testing. See video here: “We tested the Dune 2 Sandworm Popcorn Bucket. It was uncomfortable” reports Mashable.
“This was a choice!”
We blindfolded 5 Mashable employees and asked for their honest reactions to Dune: Part 2sandworm popcorn bucket. They did not disappoint. Dune: Part 2 premieres in theaters March 1st, 2024.
An even better video, however, is last weekend’s Saturday Night Live parody the “Dune Popcorn Bucket”.
A group of teenagers sings a song about a special night.
(6) ELON SAYS HE’S FOOTING THE BILL. An actress’ wrongful termination suit has an angel, of sorts: “Gina Carano Sues Disney for ‘Mandalorian’ Firing — With Elon Musk’s Help” in Variety.
Actor Gina Carano sued Disney and Lucasfilm on Tuesday for firing her from “The Mandalorian” in 2021, over a social media post in which she compared being a Republican to being Jewish during the Holocaust.
The suit, filed in California federal court, alleges wrongful termination and discrimination, as well as a demand that the court should force Lucasfilm to recast her and pay at least $75,000 in punitive damages.
Elon Musk is funding the suit, following his promise to pay for legal actions taken by people claiming discrimination from posts to Twitter/X. However, the posts in question originated on Carano’s Instagram Stories….
(7) IS IT WORTH WHAT YOU PAY FOR IT? An employee of Heritage Auctions answers the question “Is Toy Grading A Good Idea?” for readers of Intelligent Collector.
If you are a toy or action figure collector, you likely have a strong opinion on the subject when it comes to your personal collection. But whether it is a go0od idea for positive future monetary returns is an entirely different question.
While many collectors have long seen the encasement of their treasures as a separation from their tactile enjoyment, others have maintained that it preserves them in their highest quality state as time moves forward. Neither is wrong, strictly from a personal collecting perspective, but grading action figures and toys can have a significant effect on the value when sold. That is not to say that every toy should be graded as there is a real cost associated with it, but the right pieces with good grades can multiply the value from hundreds to thousands of dollars per item.
My general rule of thumb is that a toy is worth grading if the value of it is increased by at least 150% of the grading fee when added to the ungraded value. This is the case for items that already have value and a demonstrated history of selling in graded and ungraded condition. Of course, the final value will depend on the grade that the item receives as buyers pay more for higher-graded toys. For example, if a carded action figure is worth $300 and costs $100 to grade, I would grade it if it were certain to bring at least $450 at the lowest conceivable grade it could get.
On the opposing side, I would not recommend grading most brand-new items as they have not yet proven their value in the longer term. Many of the newer toys graded today may never increase in value over the grading cost and I have seen many toys over the years that are still unable to recoup the money paid for the service. Because many collectors now save packaged toys, there are many more in circulation than have ever been in the past due to the speculation of future value. If there is the potential of significant future value, I would recommend bagging and boxing the toys separately or using temporary clamshell cases made to preserve their condition.
As for vintage toys from the 1980’s and before, if the value is significant and the grade is expected to be 80 or above, I highly recommend grading to increase the value. It makes buyers more comfortable with their purchase of a graded item and its confirmed condition. Of course, these are general guidelines and there are many situations where exceptions would be made….
(8) SEW WHAT? The Huntington shares an item of Civil War history in “Guns, Secession, and a Secret Message in a Spool”.
…Yet the envelope’s contents turned out to be rather curious. There are several labeled items, apparently intended for a museum of the War Department that Townsend was trying to develop after the Civil War. Along with a piece of a British flag captured in 1781 at Yorktown and a length of red tape used by Confederate President Jefferson Davis during his detention at Fortress Monroe, there was a spool of thread wrapped in a piece of paper.
Spools like this were found in the numerous sewing kits (known as “housewives”) carried by U.S. soldiers. But it was the wrapper that caught my eye. It contained a typescript message dated 1861—several years before the typewriter was invented. A note written in Townsend’s hand along the bottom of the page read: “Sent this way to pass thru rebel lines. Message in spool of thread from one Union officer to another.”
I peered into the hole of the spool. Sure enough, inside was what appeared to be a tightly rolled piece of paper. I immediately contacted The Huntington’s superb conservation lab, where project conservator Cynthia Kapteyn managed to extract the paper and smooth it out. (You can watch a video of the extraction here.) The unrolled page revealed a handwritten message, hastily scribbled in pencil. The text matched the typed transcription.
The humble spool and the grubby note shed new light on the dramatic events that unfolded shortly after the election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860….
(9) WORLDCON IN MEMORIAM CHANGES PLATFORMS. Steven H Silver announced that he’s moved the Worldcon In Memoriam account from Twitter (theoretically known as X) to Bluesky. Please can follow it at “Worldcon In Memoriam” (@wcinmemoriam.bsky.social).
(10) TONY BENOUN OBITUARY. Twenty-five year LASFS member Tony Benoun died January 18 after a long illness. He was active in Doctor Who fandom and helped found the Gallifrey One convention as Shaun Lyon recalls in his tribute “Tony Benoun remembered by Gallifrey One”.
Throughout the year 1988, following the Doctor Who Traveling Exhibition’s visit to Los Angeles the prior October, scarcely a month went by at the meetings of our local Doctor Who club, the Time Meddlers of Los Angeles, without someone giving voice to the idea that we should run a convention of our own. Tony Benoun was one of those loud and frequent voices in 1988, clamoring for us to step up to the plate and run our own event. He’d been part of Los Angeles Doctor Who fandom since the early 1980s, as part of the Chancellory Guard fan group; had participated in phone banking at KCET during Doctor Who pledge breaks; and had worked many other events, including as security for Creation Conventions. Tony was right with us in early 1989 when our club at large decided to move forward with the dream that would become Gallifrey One; he was with us in 1990, when that dream became reality; and he was with us ever since, as Gallifrey One persists through to this day.
As one of the longest-serving members of the Gallifrey One staff –and one of the few of us still left from those early days — Tony had been co-lead of what we’ve always called our Special Projects division: working on (and selling) our convention merchandise, T-shirts, tote bags, playing cards, stickers and more; supervising the moving and maintenance of our homegrown TARDIS for many years (he was part of a small group that created it, a group we’ve always referred to with a wink as the TARDIS Movers Union Local 42)….
He is survived by his wife Sherri, another member of the Gallifrey One team, and innumerable friends.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.
[Written by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 6, 1922 — Patrick Macnee. (Died 2015.) So let’s talk about Patrick Macnee. Even the character of Patrick Macnee as John Steed in The Avengers is more complicated than we generally think of him. Steed started as a rougher agent than the gentleman he would become during the Gale and Peel eras.
His dress as Dr. David Keel’s sidekick was a trenchcoat and suit, though the famous bowler hat and umbrella showed up very occasionally part way through the first series.
The gentleman agent in look and manner came to be in the second series when the actor who played Keel quit to pursue a film career. Once Macnee was promoted to star he adapted permanently that Saville Row suit and bowler hat with the sword cane look that he’d keep for the entire series and the New Avengers as well.
So what else do I find interesting about his career? (My way of saying don’t expect me to cover everything he did here.)
Now you might well guess the first role I’ll single out.
He may, and I say may deliberately, played Holmes twice in two television films, The Hound of London and Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Temporal Nexus. The latter may or may not exist as commenters online say they cannot actually find this case of paranormal murders and extraterrestrials. Holmes meets War of the Worlds? Surely in those nearly one and fifty films involving him, that been done, hasn’t it? Or not.
Of his Watson performances, more is certain. He played him three times: once alongside Roger Moore’s Sherlock Holmes in these television films: Sherlock Holmes in New York, and then twice with Christopher Lee, first in Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady, and then in Incident at Victoria Falls.
He sort of plays him a fourth time. He appeared in Magnum, P.I. as, what else?, a retired British agent who suffered from the delusion that he was Sherlock Holmes, in the episode titled “Holmes”.
What next? In a one-off, he took over Leo G. Carroll’s role as the head of U.N.C.L.E. as Sir John Raleigh in Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair. Anyone see this?
He’s in A View to Kill as Sir Godfrey Tibbett, a Roger Moore Bond film, as a horse trainer who helps him infiltrate Zorin’s chateau and stables.
Since everyone it seems showed up on this series, it probably won’t surprise you I that he was on Columbo in the “Troubled Waters” where he’s Capt. Gibbon. They filmed it on a real cruise ship, called the Sun Princess at the time. It was later sold many times and renamed Ocean Dream finally. It was abandoned off the coast of Thailand and sank there. Don’t you love my trivia?
Finally, I think, he appeared on Broadway as the star of Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth in the early seventies. He then headlined the national tour of that play.
No, I forgot an appearance I wanted to note. My bad. He appeared on The Twilight Zone in “Judgement Night”. There he played the First Officer on the S.S. Queen of Glasgow, a cargo carrier, headed out on London to New York with a passenger with no memory but a feeling that something very bad will happen.
I’m going now. Really I am.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
- Annie incorporates a reference to an old Galaxy Magazine pardner.
- The Argyle Sweater grants a wish.
- Mannequin on the Moon notes the problem with writers’ contracts.
- Pearls Before Swine knows how hard it is to hear what is being said.
(13) EGYPTIAN GRAPHIC STORIES. Hear about “Cairo in comics” in The Documentary at BBC Sounds.
Modern Cairo is a crowded metropolis. The city’s ‘thousand minarets’ are now dwarfed by a new skyline of slick tower blocks. Modern highways fly over bustling kiosks where residents gather to smoke and buy soda drinks.
Inspired by the lives of their neighbours, playing out among mosques, high rise buildings and on busy streets, Egyptian writers and graphic artists, including Deena Mohamed, Shennawy and Mohamed Wahba bring their thousand-year-old capital to life. They tell the stories behind their own books and comics – Tok Tok, Shubeik Lubeik, and A Bird’s Eye View over Cairo. And how today, the city’s dedicated festival Cairo Comix has become an annual destination for artists and fans from around the world.
(14) FROM SPACE COWBOY BOOKS. Released on February 4: Another Time: An Anthology of Time Travel Stories 1942-1960 edited by Jean-Paul L. Garnier.
The nature of time has forever perplexed humankind. Add the many ripe paradoxes of time travel and the situation gets complicated. While science has shown us that time travel is technically possible, at least on paper, we still know little about what time actually is, or our place within it. Science fiction has long explored this theme and it has become one of the cornerstones of the genre. In this collection of stories, we find visions of what time travel could be, what could go wrong, and dive headlong into the paradoxical nature of what it might entail. Tales ranging from 1942 to 1960 bring us into these mysterious worlds and provide a window into what the writers of this era grappled with when exploring time and the possibilities of traveling within the fourth dimension. Readers will also delight in traversing another time in literature, with stories that first appeared in Worlds of IF, Astonishing Stories, Galaxy Magazine, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Startling Stories, and Imagination Stories of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
With stories by:
- C. Shook
- Darius John Granger
- Evelyn E. Smith,
- Sylvia Jacobs
- Rog Phillips
- Miriam Allen deFord
- Anthony Boucher
- Henry Kuttner
- Alfred Bester
With an introduction by Dr. Phoenix Alexander. Original cover art by Zara Kand. Get your copy at Bookshop.org.
(15) THIS YEAR’S CROP. Apple+ announced several new shows yesterday, including two intriguing sf series: “Apple TV+ Unveils New Slate Of Originals for 2024” at AllYourScreens.
Premiere date: Wednesday, February 21
A new, eight-part conspiracy-based psychological thriller starring Noomi Rapace and Emmy Award nominee Jonathan Banks that will premiere globally on Wednesday, February 21, 2024 with the first three episodes, followed by one episode weekly, every Wednesday through March 27 on Apple TV+.
Created and written by Peter Harness, “Constellation” stars Rapace as Jo – an astronaut who returns to Earth after a disaster in space – only to discover that key pieces of her life seem to be missing. The action-packed space adventure is an exploration of the dark edges of human psychology, and one woman’s desperate quest to expose the truth about the hidden history of space travel and recover all that she has lost. The series also stars James D’Arcy, Julian Looman, Will Catlett, Barbara Sukowa, and introduces Rosie and Davina Coleman as Alice.
“Constellation” is directed by Emmy Award winner Michelle MacLaren, Oscar nominee Oliver Hirschbiegel and Oscar nominee Joseph Cedar. Produced by Turbine Studios and Haut et Court TV, the series is executive produced by David Tanner, Tracey Scoffield, Caroline Benjo, Simon Arnal, Carole Scotta and Justin Thomson. MacLaren directs the first two episodes and executive produces the series with Rebecca Hobbs and co-executive producer Jahan Lopes for MacLaren Entertainment. Harness executive produces through Haunted Barn Ltd. The series was shot principally in Germany and was series produced by Daniel Hetzer for Turbine Studios, Germany…
Premiere date: Wednesday, May 8
Dark Matter is a sci-fi thriller series based on the blockbuster book by acclaimed, bestselling author Blake Crouch. The nine-episode series features an ensemble cast that includes Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Connelly, Alice Braga, Jimmi Simpson, Dayo Okeniyi and Oakes Fegley. Dark Matter makes its global debut on Apple TV+ on May 8, 2024, premiering with the first two episodes, followed by new episodes every Wednesday through June 26.
Hailed as one of the best sci-fi novels of the decade, Dark Matter is a story about the road not taken. The series will follow Jason Dessen (played by Edgerton), a physicist, professor, and family man who — one night while walking home on the streets of Chicago — is abducted into an alternate version of his life. Wonder quickly turns to nightmare when he tries to return to his reality amid the mind-bending landscape of lives he could have lived. In this labyrinth of realities, he embarks on a harrowing journey to get back to his true family and save them from the most terrifying, unbeatable foe imaginable: himself.
Crouch serves as executive producer, showrunner, and writer alongside executive producers Matt Tolmach and David Manpearl for Matt Tolmach Productions, and Joel Edgerton. Dark Matter” is produced for Apple TV+ by Sony Pictures Television.
(16) FANCY EDITION. The Illustrated World of Tolkien from Easton Press is pretty.
An excellent guide to Middle-earth and the Undying Lands, including vivid descriptions of all Tolkien’s beasts, monsters, races, nations, deities, and the flora and fauna of the territory. Full-color pages with stunning illustrations create an enchanting source for information on all the fantastical places and creatures that sprung from Tolkien’s mind….
(17) THE SINGULARITY WILL NOT BE TELEVISED. Is ChatGPT compiling clinical information or drumming up business? “FDA medical device loophole could cause patient harm, study warns” at Healthcare IT News.
Doctors and researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the UMD Institute for Health Computing and the VA Maryland Healthcare System are concerned that large language models summarizing clinical data could meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s device-exemption criteria and could cause patient harm.
WHY IT MATTERS
Artificial intelligence that summarizes clinical notes, medications and other patient data without FDA oversight will soon reach patients, doctors and researchers said in a new viewpoint published Monday on the JAMA Network.
They analyzed FDA’s final guidance on clinical decision support software. The agency has interpreted it as involving “time-critical” decision-making as a regulated device function, and that could include LLM generation of a clinical summary, the authors said.
Published about two months before ChatGPT’s release, the researchers said the guidance “provides an unintentional ‘roadmap’ for how LLMs could avoid FDA regulation.”
Generative AI will change everyday clinical tasks. It has earned a great deal of attention for its promise to reduce physician and nurse burnout, and to improve healthcare operational efficiencies, but LLMs that summarize clinical notes, medications and other forms of patient data “could exert important and unpredictable effects on clinician decision-making,” the researchers said.
They conducted tests using ChatGPT and anonymized patient record data, and examined the summarization outputs, concluding, that results raise questions that go beyond “accuracy.”
“In the clinical context, sycophantic summaries could accentuate or otherwise emphasize facts that comport with clinicians’ preexisting suspicions, risking a confirmation bias that could increase diagnostic error,” they said.
…However, it’s a dystopian danger that generally arises “when LLMs tailor responses to perceived user expectations” and become virtual AI yes-men to clinicians.
“Like the behavior of an eager personal assistant.”…
(18) A BIT SHY OF THE MARK. Damien G. Walter’s history “The war for the Hugo awards” begins by saying that the first Hugo Awards (1953) were “so small scale that no plans were made to run them again.” Although the runners of the 1954 Worldcon didn’t give them, Ben Jason, who was instrumental in resuming the Hugos in 1955 (see “The Twice-Invented Hugos”) told me that the people who created the awards intended them to be annual. So that’s Walter taking a bit of literary license. You’ll have to check to see how closely the rest of his video hews to history.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Lise Andreasen, Kathy Sullivan, John Hertz, Daniel Dern, Steven H Silver, Michael J. Walsh, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Steven French for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]