By Tammy Coxen: Chicon 8’s Chicago Worldcon Community Fund (CWCF) program offered both memberships and financial stipends. It was established with the goal of helping defray the expenses of attending Chicon 8 for the following groups of people:
• Non-white fans or program participants • LGBTQIA+ fans or program participants • Local Chicago area fans of limited means
SUPPORT PROVIDED. Thanks to the generosity of the Worldcon community we were able to provide support to 101 people. This was made up of 68 program participants and 33 fans. The majority of people (58) only received a membership while 28 received a stipend and a membership and 15 only received a stipend. A detailed breakdown of support provided is available here.
Memberships for program participants were provided via a pool of complimentary attending and virtual memberships provided by Chicon 8. Memberships for fans were covered entirely thanks to donated memberships from fans who could not attend. The CWCF did not see the last minute rush of donated memberships that Dublin 2019 did in their Fantastic Dublin Fund, probably because people who could not attend in person chose to keep their memberships and attend virtually. However, in the end that was fine, since we were able to provide a membership to everyone who needed one.
CONTRIBUTIONS RECEIVED AND FUNDRAISING. Stipends were paid out of cash contributions made to the fund. In total, the fund received $23,604. Most of this money came from fans who responded to our calls for support. Nearly $15k was received from 76 donors, including 7 people who donated multiple times. Another $2k came from people who had some kind of payment error (double or overpayment) that could have resulted in a refund, but chose to donate that money to the fund instead. $873 came from the pay-what-you-can membership recipients themselves, with a minimum donation of $5 and a maximum of $75.
The remainder of the money in the fund came through other fundraising means — $2500 was a passalong from Discon III’s Capitalize fund, $2500 was raised by Chicon 8 through an auction and sale of pins at their table at Discon III, and an additional $1100 came from Discon III when they held a fundraiser for us at Balticon, giving leftover Discon III merchandise away in exchange for a contribution to the CWCF.
STIPENDS GIVEN. The program allowed applicants to specify both a minimum they needed to attend, and a maximum that would be ideal. We were able to grant all requests at the minimum amount, with a handful of people receiving more. The range of grants was very large, going from $50 to a virtual program participant for data costs to a max of $2300 for an in-person program participant, with an overall average grant of just over $500.
DECISIONS REMAINING TO BE MADE. The CWCF worked really hard to try to give away all the money we took in. However, in the end we were left with $1900 in the fund primarily due to last minute cancellations, including $1200 that was being held for Ugandan members who did not end up getting visas. We are still deciding what to do with the leftover funds.
Thank you to everyone who joined us in helping to make Worldcon more accessible.
Edgar Allan Poe autograph letter signed, with dramatic content regarding his famous feud with poet and playwright Thomas Dunn English. Poe writes to John Bisco, publisher of the defunct ”Broadway Journal”, which Poe had once edited. Poe asks Bisco to call upon an attorney in relation to ”attacks made upon me” by Mr. English. This is the first time since 1941, when it was sold by Parke-Bernet, that this letter has been at auction.
Although the public feuding between Poe and English was not new – with both men trading veiled barbs in various publications over the years, English raised the stakes when he wrote a letter published in the 23 June 1846 edition of the ”New York Evening Mirror.” Not only did English accuse Poe by name of being a forger, drunk, deadbeat, and scoundrel for besmirching a lady’s honor, but also, perhaps most unforgivable, a serial plagiarist. Poe likely got advance notice of the article as this letter is dated 17 July 1846, only six days before the publication. However, although Poe couldn’t stop the article from running, he was successful in suing the ”Mirror” for libel, collecting $225.06 in damages a year later, likely more than Poe made during his lifetime from writing.
(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to chow down with Wesley Chu in episode 181 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast, the first of six recorded at Chicon 8.
Chu’s debut novel, The Lives of Tao, earned him a Young Adult Library Services Association Alex Award and a Science Fiction Goodreads Choice Award Top 10 slot, and was followed by three other books in that universe — The Deaths of Tao (also in 2013), The Rebirths of Tao (2015), and The Days of Tao (2016). He’s also published two books in his Time Salvager series — Time Salvager (2015) and Time Siege (2016). His novel Typhoon, set in The Walking Dead universe, was published in 2019.
He’s also the coauthor of the Eldest Curses series with Cassandra Clare, the first book of which — The Red Scrolls of Magic (2019) — debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and was followed by The Lost Book of the White in 2020. His latest novel, The Art of Prophecy (2022), released in August, is the first book in The War Arts Saga. He was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2014, and won the following year. But that’s not all! He’s also an accomplished martial artist and a former member of the Screen Actors Guild who has acted in film and television, worked as a model and stuntman, and summited Kilimanjaro.
We discussed why his new novel The Art of Prophecy has him feeling as if he’s making his debut all over again, the reason his particular set of skills means he’s the only one who could have written this project, why creating a novel is like trying to solve a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box as reference, the heavy lifting a well-written fight scene needs to accomplish, why you’ll never get to read his 180,000-word first novel, how to make readers continue to care when writing from the POV of multiple characters, the benefits and pitfalls of writing bigger books, why he decided to toss 80,000 words from the second book in his series, the ways in which environments are also characters, and much more.
(3) WHAT PROFESSIONALISM MEANS IN SFF. Morgan Hazelwood shares notes and comments about another Chicon 8 panel, “Publishing As Collaboration”, at Morgan Hazelwood: Writer In Progress.
If you want to be a published author, a little professionalism goes a long way.
Bookshelves are packed with volumes about how to properly submit your manuscripts, but how does professionalism function in real-world publishing relationships? Moreover, what defines professionalism from culture to culture? Agents and editors share their best examples of what works best, and how to get back on track if your interactions go off the rails.
The titular panel at WorldCon 80 — otherwise known as ChiCon8 — had moderator Holly Lyn Walrath, with panelists Emily Hockaday, Joey Yu, and Joshua Bilmes.
Hazelwood also presents her comments in this YouTube video.
…Wells’ debut novel, The Element of Fire, appeared in 1993. To put that in terms grognards might better understand, by this point in their careers, Poul Anderson had just published A Knight of Ghost and Shadows, while Lois McMaster Bujold was about to publish Penric’s Demon.
This is, of course, good news! If you are only familiar with Well’s Murderbot books, know that there are plenty more Wells books to read. Allow me to suggest five Martha Wells books that Murderbot fans might like….
(5) THEY, THE JURY. Meanwhile, James Davis Nicoll has assigned the Young People Read Old SFF panel John Varley’s 1979 story “Options”.
This month’s Hugo Finalist is John Varley’s Options. First published in 1979, Options was both a Hugo1 and Nebula2 finalist. Options was popular with both fans and Varley’s peers. It might then seem a pretty safe bet to win the hearts and minds of the Young People.
The second last Eight Worlds (phase one) story published, Options examines the impact of cheap, convenient gender reassignment. By the era most Eight Worlds stories were set, body modification was a common and uncommented upon aspect of the proto-transhumanist setting. Options is set just as the technology becomes available….
Top congressional Democrats are preparing to address a wave of bans and restrictions on school library materials Thursday with new resolutions that call on local governments “to protect the rights of students to learn,” according to lawmakers and a draft copy of the legislation.
The moves represent urgent statements of concern from President Joe Biden’s party about ongoing controversies that affect as many as 4 million U.S. schoolchildren, according to one recent estimate. The congressional response has won endorsements from the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association labor unions as well as prominent literary and left-leaning educational interest groups….
Both the House and Senate resolutions will face an uncertain path to a vote.
Alarmed Democratic lawmakers have nevertheless convened hearings this year over political organizing and state restrictions against books and curriculum that address gender identity and race. A group of party pollsters and strategists have also sought to draw voter attention to the controversies during fall’s midterm elections as they attempt to depict conservative-led campaigns as extremist and at odds with a significant share of public opinion.
(7) AUTHOR MAY NEED AROUND-THE-CLOCK CARE. “Rachel Pollack needs your help!” — a GoFundMe appeal has been launched for the American science fiction author, comic book writer, and expert on divinatory tarot.. The goal was $15,000, and at this writing 666 donors have given over $36,000.
As many of you know Rachel is in the ICU.
If she is able to go home, she will need 24-hour care. Up to now, we haven’t needed your help. It is time now. If we are wrong, your pledge will not be collected. We love and honor you …. But you already know that. Keep up the prayers, rituals and love too. All is real and appreciated.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1962 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixty years tonight in prime time on ABC, The Jetsons debuted its very first episode, “Rosey the Robot”. Yes, a SF cartoon would start on in network television as a primetime series and would be the first program broadcast in color on ABC.
Following its primetime run of three years and seventy-five episodes of roughly twenty to thirty minutes, the show aired on Saturday mornings for decades. It started on ABC for the 1963–64 season and then on CBS and NBC as it was syndicated after the first season.
The series was considered by some critics to be a sort of antithesis of The Flintstones being set in whimsical future approximately a century from now. Naturally William Hanna and Joseph Barbera were the creators, executive producers and producers (along with a long list of other folk) as it was a property of Hanna-Barbera Productions.
It had a very extensive voice cast befitting the number of characters — George Jetson was voiced by George O’Hanlon, Jane Jetson by Penny Singleton, Elroy Jetson by Daws Butler, Judy Jetson, Rosey by Jean Vander Pyl, and Cosmo Spacely by Mel Blanc. No, that’s not a complete cast.
In 1963, Morey Amsterdam and Pat Carroll each filed $12,000 suits against Hanna-Barbera for breach of contract. They had been cast and signed to the roles of George Jetson and Jane Jetson, respectively. But someone didn’t like their work and fired them after the first episode work was done. (That voice work wasn’t used.) They were paid the five hundred dollars owed and showed off the lot. They claimed they were promised the entire first season, but they had no contract for this hence losing the Court case.
It’s worth noting that this series had devices that did not exist at the time but subsequently are now in usage such as computer viruses, digital newspapers, flatscreen television and video chat to name but a few.
It’s streaming on Amazon and HBO Max.
Audience reviewers at Rotted Tomatoes give it seventy percent rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 23, 1897 — Walter Pidgeon. He’s mostly remembered for his role in the classic Forbidden Planet as Dr. Morbius, but he’s done some other genre work, in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Adm. Harriman Nelson, and in The Neptune Factor as Dr. Samuel Andrews. (Died 1984.)
Born September 23, 1908 — Wilmar House Shiras. Her story “In Hiding” was published in 1948 in Astounding Science Fiction, followed by a pair of sequels over the next two years, “Opening Doors”, and “New Foundations”. The three stories would become the first three chapters in the novel, Children of the Atom. Almost twenty years later she had three more short stories published in Fantastic. (Died 1990.)
Born September 23, 1928 — John S Glasby. English writer who wrote a truly amazing amount of pulp fiction of both a SF and fantasy under quite a few pen names that included John Adams, R. L. Bowers, Berl Cameron, Max Chartair, Randall Conway, Ray Cosmic, John Crawford, J. B. Dexter, John Glasby, J. S. Glasby, Michael Hamilton, J. J. Hansby, Marston Johns, Victor La Salle, Peter Laynham, H. K. Lennard, Paul Lorraine, John C. Maxwell, A. J. Merak, H. J. Merak, R. J. Merak, John Morton, John E. Muller, Rand Le Page, J. L. Powers and Karl Zeigfried. It is thought but not confirmed that he produced more than three hundred novels and a lot of short stories in a twenty year period that started in the early Fifties. (Died 2011.)
Born September 23, 1920 — Richard Wilson. A Futurian, and author of a number of sff short stories and novels, his really major contribution to fandom and to Syracuse University where he worked as the director of the Syracuse University News Bureau was in successfully recruiting the donation of papers from many prominent science fiction writers to the Syracuse University’s George Arents Research Library. The list of those writers includes Piers Anthony, Hal Clement, Keith Laumer, Larry Niven and Frederik Pohl. And, of course, himself. It has been called the “most important collection of science fiction manuscripts and papers in the world.” (Died 1987.)
Born September 23, 1948 — Leslie Kay Swigart, 74. Obsessions can be fascinating and hers was detailing the writings of Harlan Ellison. Between 1975 and 1991, she published Harlan Ellison: A Bibliographical Checklist plus wrote shorter works such as “Harlan Ellison: An F&SF Checklist“, “Harlan Ellison: A Nonfiction Checklist“ and “Harlan Ellison: A Book and Fiction Checklist”. Her George R. R. Martin: A RRetrospective Fiction Checklist can be found in the Dreamsongs: GRRM: A RRetrospective collection.
Born September 23, 1957 — Rosalind Chao, 65. She was the recurring character of Keiko O’Brien with a total of twenty-seven appearances on Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. In 2010, a preliminary casting memo for Next Gen from 1987 was published, revealing that Chao was originally considered for the part of Enterprise security chief Tasha Yar.
Born September 23, 1959 — Frank Cottrell-Boyce, 63. Definitely not here for his sequels to Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. He is here for such writing endeavors as Goodbye Christopher Robin, his Doctor Who stories, “In the Forest of the Night” and “Smile”, both Twelfth Doctor affairs, and the animated Captain Star series in which he voiced Captain Jim Star. The series sounds like the absolute antithesis of classic Trek.
Born September 23, 1956 — Peter David, 66. Did you know that his first assignment for the Philadelphia Bulletin was covering Discon II? I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read by him was Legions of Fire, Book 1—The Long Night of Centauri Prime but he’s also done a number of comics I’ve read including runs of Captain Marvel , Wolverine and Young Justice.
ONE HUNDRED AND SEVEN years ago, Woodrow Wilson hosted the first-ever film screening at the White House. It was for D. W. Griffith’s adaptation of Thomas Dixon Jr.’s The Clansman, which was published originally as a novel but made famous as a stage play that traces the lives of a white family through the Civil War and Reconstruction. Griffith called it The Birth of a Nation. “It’s like writing history with lightning,” the president is reported to have said when he walked out of the East Room. “My only regret is that it is all so terribly true.”
In the century since its release, The Birth of a Nation has become shorthand for a specific, and specifically virulent, kind of early-20th-century American racism that was obsessed with relitigating that war and the legislation that came out of it (a shorthand so enduring, in fact, that Nate Parker’s 2016 The Birth of a Nation, about Nat Turner and the rebellion by enslaved people he led in 1831, was very plausibly greenlit because of its title’s provocation)…. Birth also invented whole swaths of cinematic language still in use today. It is likely — probably inevitable — that other filmmakers would have, on their own, in time, devised dramatic close-ups on actors’ faces, tracking shots to follow action as it moved, cross-cutting between different sequences, or fade-outs to exit scenes. But no one had done so before Griffith. The late critic Pauline Kael wrote that “[o]ne can trace almost every major tradition and most of the genres, and even many of the metaphors, in movies to their sources” in his work. The Los Angeles Times called Birth “the greatest picture ever made.”
And yet Woodrow Wilson was not talking about cross-cutting when he called Griffith’s movie “so terribly true.” Aside from sympathizing with its Klan-agitprop politics, the president, who grew up in Virginia and codified Jim Crow laws within the federal government, was apparently engrossed by the film’s other great technical achievement: its intricate battle sequence, where Griffith skips between disorienting close-ups, wide vistas, and the literal fog of war — gun smoke choking the camera.
This footage was not filmed on the ground of old battlefields. It was captured on arid land across Los Angeles County and edging into the Inland Empire….
… In Nope, the Haywoods exist on the fringes of the industry that drives this imagination. But these are, truly, the fringes: Agua Dulce, practical in the age of computer-generated imagery, horse handlers when superheroes have replaced cowboys. The land that the studios have found to be such a convenient stand-in for the moon, Mars, and beyond — the land that is meant to support them as they support the city, unseen until needed — has turned, if not hostile, something just short….
Beyond the traditional routes to fame — sports, entertainment, even politics — Nope hints at a morbid dovetail between its twin focuses on race and film. Though its protagonists are motivated by profit, it’s difficult to watch without thinking, at least in passing, of the way police brutality was disbelieved or minimized before the broad dissemination of videos depicting it — or of the way those videos are in turn reduced over time by cable news and political pundits to mere spectacle….
(12) ON THE RIGHT TRACKS. Paul Weimer makes you want to read this book in “Microreview: Last Car to Annwn Station” at Nerds of a Feather. “Last Car to Annwn Station takes what is now a famous trope in Urban Fantasy –the presence of Faerie in the Twin Cities, and puts his own, Welsh mythological spin. Oh, and Streetcars.”
… Faerie in Minneapolis has been a thing ever since Emma Bull introduced the Faerie to Minneapolis with War for the Oaks, and permanently highlighted the Twin Cities as a hotbed of Faerie activity for games like Changeling the Dreaming, and other stories and novels taking up the cause. A modest but not overwhelming city on the edge of Prairie and forest,plenty of lakes, a vibrant cultural scene that punches above its weight, and much more make the Twin Cities a logical place to set stories like this….
(13) HOW WELL DO YOU SPORCLE? Surely a national trivia convention in Washington D.C. is fandom-adjacent? SporcleCon runs September 23-25. Here is the schedule of events.
A truism of the internet, central to the work of researchers who study the spread of dangerous trends and misinformation, holds that attempting to discourage bad behavior can, if clumsily handled, reinforce the bad behavior by amplifying it to people who would have otherwise never considered it.
Which leads us to the NyQuil chicken.
In recent weeks, some people on TikTok, Twitter and other sites discovered years-old videos and images of people pouring blue-green NyQuil, a nighttime cold medicine, over chicken breasts in a pan or pot. It was, to be clear, a dangerous idea that no one should do — it could lead to consuming unsafe levels of the product, and over-the-counter medicines should be used only as directed….
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Bill, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
…I write climate fiction and it took me a while to realize how saying that in a declarative sentence made publishing professionals recoil like I’d asked them to smell my skunk. I put it proudly in my pitches and query letters. Climate! Fiction!… Smell! My! Skunk! I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to say the c-word in polite company. I’m still not sure why that is, why it’s not something people are actively “looking for” in fiction. Because for me, stories are ideal places to work out the tangles of complicated issues—especially the “what are we not talking about when we refuse to talk about the climate crisis?” questions….
(2) BAIKONUR BOOGIE. Today I learned there is also a Russian Space Forces (they use the plural). And I’m told this is their anthem. You can dance to it!
Giorgia Meloni, the hard-right leader who is likely to be the next prime minister of Italy, used to dress up as a hobbit.
As a youth activist in the post-Fascist Italian Social Movement, she and her fellowship of militants, with nicknames like Frodo and Hobbit, revered “The Lord of the Rings” and other works by the British writer J.R.R. Tolkien. They visited schools in character. They gathered at the “sounding of the horn of Boromir” for cultural chats. She attended “Hobbit Camp” and sang along with the extremist folk band Compagnia dell’Anello, or Fellowship of the Ring.
All of that might seem some youthful infatuation with a work usually associated with fantasy-fiction and big-budget epics rather than political militancy. But in Italy, “The Lord of the Rings” has for a half-century been a central pillar upon which descendants of post-Fascism reconstructed a hard-right identity, looking to a traditionalist mythic age for symbols, heroes and creation myths free of Fascist taboos.
“I think that Tolkien could say better than us what conservatives believe in,” said Ms. Meloni, 45. More than just her favorite book series, “The Lord of the Rings” was also a sacred text. “I don’t consider ‘The Lord of the Rings’ fantasy,” she said….
(5) HORROR FILM MAGAZINE INTERVIEWS VERTLIEB. The new issue of We Belong Dead Magazine, the prestigious British horror film magazine, includes a twelve-page interview and color layout on the life and times of Steve Vertlieb. It’s issue No. 31, and is available now at Barnes and Noble, and wherever good books and magazines are sold throughout the globe. Get your copy now!
1997 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Time Travel series aren’t exactly rare, are they? A quarter of a century ago on this evening one such series, Timecop, premiered on ABC. It was based on the much more successful Jean-Claude Van Damme Timecop film. Yes, I liked that film a lot.
If you blinked you missed this series as it lasted just nine episodes before the cancellation blues played out.
Mark Verheiden who later co-produced the more successful Falling Skies series for TNT created this series.
It starred Ted King as the Timecop, Officer Jack Logan. You may remember him as Andy Trudeau on Charmed during its first season. There is only one character, Captain Eugene Matuzek, carried over from the film, but the premise is the same.
And yes, the beautiful female character trope held true here.
I wouldn’t say its originality quota was high as here’s the story for the pilot: “A time traveler from the twenty-first century kills Jack the Ripper and takes his place.” That Jack becomes the main antagonist.
Nine of the thirteen episodes ordered were televised. No, there’s not four unaired episodes out there as they were never produced.
A trilogy continuing the story was published by Del Rey Books: The Scavenger, Viper’s Spawn and Blood Ties.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 22, 1917 — Samuel A. Peeples. Memory Alpha says that he’s the person that gave Roddenberry the catch phrase he used to sell Star Trek to the network: “[As] fellow writer Harlan Ellison has credited him with the creation of one of the most famous catch phrases in Star Trek lore, “[Gene Roddenberry] got ‘Wagon Train to the stars’ from Sam Peeples. That’s what Gene said to me. They were at dinner and Sam Peeples, of course, was a fount of ideas, and Gene said something or other about wanting to do a space show and Sam said, ‘Yeah? Why don’t you do Wagon Train to the stars?’” (Died 1997.)
Born September 22, 1939 — Edward A. Byers. Due to his early death, he has but two published novels, both space operas, The Log Forgetting and The Babylon Gate. EOFSF says “Byers was not an innovative writer, but his genuine competence raised expectations over his short active career.” There’s no sign his double handful of stories was collected, though his two novels are in-print. (Died 1989.)
Born September 22, 1952 — Paul Kincaid, 70. A British science fiction critic. He stepped down as chairman of the Arthur C. Clarke Award in April 2006 after twenty years. He is the co-editor with Andrew M. Butler of The Arthur C. Clarke Award: A Critical Anthology. He’s also written A Very British Genre: A Short History of British Fantasy and Science Fiction and What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction. His latest publication is The Unstable Realities of Christopher Priest.
Born September 22, 1954 — Shari Belafonte, 68. Daughter of Harry Belafonte, I first spotted her on Beyond Reality, a Canadian series that showed up when I was living in upstate Vermont. You most likely saw her as Elizabeth Trent in Babylon 5: Thirdspace as that’s her most well known genre performance. Bet hardly of you saw her as Linda Flores in Time Walker, an Eighties SF horror film, or the Mars SF film in which she played Doc Halliday.
Born September 22, 1957 — Jerry Oltion, 65. His Nebula Award winning Abandon in Place novella is the beginning of the Cheap Hyperdrive sequence, a really fun Space Opera undertaking. Abandon in Place was nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2 (2013). The Astronaut from Wyoming was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000.
Born September 22, 1971 — Elizabeth Bear, 51. I’m only going to note the series that I really like but of course you will course add the ones that you like. First is her White Space series, Ancestral Space and Machine, which I’ve read or listened to each least three times. Next up is the sprawling Promethean Age series which is utterly fascinating, and finally The Jenny Casey trilogy which just came out at the usual suspects.
Born September 22, 1982 — Billie Piper, 40. Best remembered as the companion of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, she also played the dual roles Brona Croft and Lily Frankenstein in Penny Dreadful. She played Veronica Beatrice “Sally” Lockhart in the BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in The North.
Born September 22, 1985 — Tatiana Maslany, 37. Best known for her superb versatility in playing more than a dozen different clones in the Orphan Black which won a Hugo for Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) at the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention for its “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried“ episode. She received a Best Actress Emmy and more than two dozen other nominations and awards. She is Jennifer Walters / She-Hulk in the new Marvel She-Hulk series.
The definition of “dystopia” in the Oxford English Dictionary is bald and to the point: “An imaginary place in which everything is as bad as possible.”
Literature is full of examples. In “The Time Machine,” the Morlocks feed and clothe the Eloi, then eat them. “The Handmaid’s Tale” deals with state-sanctioned rape. The firefighters in “Fahrenheit 451” incinerate books instead of saving them. In “1984”’s infamous Room 101, Winston Smith is finally broken when a cage filled with rats is dumped over his head. In “Our Missing Hearts,” Celeste Ng’s dystopian America is milder, which makes it more believable — and hence, more upsetting.…
(11) MORE HORRIFYING THAN PUMPKIN SPICE. “Demonic Doll ‘Chucky’ Gets Pumpkin Beer for Halloween”. The official collaboration between Elysian Brewing and NBCUniversal has been launched to celebrate the second season of Chucky’s eponymous TV show. (That red color comes from the added cranberry juice.)
…”Chucky is one of Halloween’s most iconic, beloved characters, and we have found the perfect partner in Elysian Brewing to capture his spirit this season,” Ellen Stone, executive vice president for entertainment consumer engagement and brand strategy at the networks’ parent company NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, stated. “This custom pumpkin beer provides a fresh, unique way for fans and beer fanatics alike to quench their thirst with a taste of Chucky ahead of the season two premiere….
Erik Feig’s Picturestart has obtained adaptive rights and is plotting a franchise around the science fiction premise, with J.C. Lee (of the forthcoming “Bad Genius” remake) set to write the screenplay.
The book is set in the fictional world of Huaxia, where humanity’s only hope against alien invaders are giant transforming robots called Chrysalises, which require a boy-girl pair to pilot….
(13) THE 3-D LAWS OF ROBOTICS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Nature’s cover story is about new robots — move over Asimov… “Builder drones”.
Ground-based robots have potential for helping in the construction industry, but they are limited by their height. In this week’s issue, Mirko Kovac, Robert Stuart-Smith and their colleagues introduce highly manoeuvrable aerial robots that can perform additive 3D construction tasks. Inspired by natural builders such as wasps and bees, the researchers created BuilDrones (as shown on the cover) that can work in an autonomous team to perform 3D printing tasks using foam- or cement-based materials. They also created ScanDrones to assess the quality of the structures being built. The team hopes that this approach of ‘aerial additive manufacturing’ could help to build structures in difficult to access areas.
Aerial-AM allows manufacturing in-flight and offers future possibilities for building in unbounded, at-height or hard-to-access locations.
…Webb also captured seven of Neptune’s 14 known moons. Dominating this Webb portrait of Neptune is a very bright point of light sporting the signature diffraction spikes seen in many of Webb’s images, but this is not a star. Rather, this is Neptune’s large and unusual moon, Triton….
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes you inside the Pitch Meeting that led to Pinocchio (2022)!
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, N., Lise Andreasen, Alan Baumler, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steve Vertlieb, 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 Jayn.]
The Babylon 5 reboot at The CW managed to survive the many roundsof cuts the network made in the lead up to its eventual sale. According to creator J. Michael Straczynski, however, the fate of the show is still uncertain, and he wants fans to express their support for the show on the Interweb so The CW’s new owners as well as Warner Bros. TV know there’s an audience for the sci-fi show….
Straczynski also dropped the hashtag #B5onCWin23 as the rallying point for fans to prove their desire to see the reboot. The hashtag became the top trending one on Twitter at one point, so here’s to hoping that The CW and Warner Bros. TV are listening.
(2) GUNN CENTER’S SFF BOOK CLUB. The Gunn Center’s Sci Fi, Fantasy, & Speculative Lit Book Club is officially back. You can register for the event using this link.
In honor of the upcoming Sturgeon Symposium: Celebrating Speculative Communities and the announcement of the 2022 Sturgeon Award winner at the end of this month (Sept. 29 & 30), we’ve chosen 3 short stories to read from the list of finalists:
Nalo Hopkinson’s “Broad Dutty Water: A Sunken Story”
John Kessel’s “The Dark Ride”
Suzanne Palmer’s “Bots of the Lost Ark”
Based on what we’ve heard from the jury, these are the final contenders for the award, so be sure to read their stories and take your guesses as to who you think the winner will be!
Sign up by midnight on the 22nd so that we can get you added to the list. Upon registration, you’ll be sent the Zoom link and passcode as well as links and pdfs to the readings.
Today (September 19), an announcement from the French publishers’ association—the Syndicat national de l’édition (SNE)—signals a victory for French publishers in cases against piracy-facilitation sites drain revenue of many world markets’ book publishing industries.
A judgment was handed down in Paris on August 25, according to SNE and that court ruling has ordered Internet service providers to block the site (and associated domain names) of a piracy group called “Z-Library.” The result, according to the syndicate, is that 209 domain names and their extensions on mirror sites are being rendered inaccessible.
“Presenting itself ‘as a free library’ since 2009,” the publishers’ association says “but offering a paying model for access to counterfeit works, the Z-Library site—accessible via multiple addresses—offered access to more than 8 million books” across all editorial sectors “and 80 million pirated items.”
…“This collective success,” the French publishers’ syndicate writes in its media messaging today, shuts down at least these instances of an abiding and expensive impediment to doing business and to copyright protection, “and opens the way to new actions by the publishers and the Syndicat national de l’édition—blocking and de-referencing, quickly and systematically, against Web sites operating to defeat copyright protections.
“French publishing is investing massively to allow broad public access to digital books,” the publishers say in today’s announcement. “Book piracy undermines the remuneration of creators, both authors and publishers. It poses a threat to the entire book ecosystem, particularly booksellers, and harms cultural diversity.
We also want to credit the directors and judges. (Thanks to John Hertz for rounding up the names).
Masquerade Directors: Sue Finkle, Renata O’Connor (co-directors)
Judges: Debi Chowdhury, Byron Connell
Workmanship Judges: Karen Berquist-Dezoma, John Hertz, Leah O’Connor
M.C.: William Dezoma
(5) POSSIBILITY ZERO.[Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] Got a post-convention report from local (Scottsdale) convention CoKoCon, held Labor Day weekend earlier this month. They had 221 in attendance and reported the following about their Covid-prevention results:
COVID CASES – ZERO REPORTED!
We’ve seen a lot of reports of COVID cases coming out of other conventions, whether they be of similar size to us or much larger. Some of them, perhaps unsurprisingly, had no COVID policy in place, and became spreader events. Others had a very strict policy, so strict that it was broadly ignored.
We tried to find a middle ground that would keep all members of CoKoCon as safe as possible and it seems to have worked out, because our case count is… zero, as far as we are aware. Not one positive case has been reported.
If you did attend CoKoCon and tested positive for COVID within the next week, please let us know by e-mailing email@example.com. For now, it seems like we found a good balance and we couldn’t be happier.
Because of this, we will continue our current policy into 2023.
I think I mentioned in a Pixel Scroll comment that attendees were cooperative about following the convention guidelines: Masks required in the conference center facilities, no eating or drinking inside the facilities (the Ice Cream Social was held on an outside patio), and social distancing encouraged, both in and outside the conference rooms.
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1989 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Adapted from the Alien Nation film, the Alien Nation series premiered on Fox thirty-three years ago this evening. I’m sure that I saw that night. And even liked. It. I wouldn’t say that it’s the greatest series ever conceived but it was good enough that I caught most, if not all, of the twenty-two episodes aired.
You probably know the concept of starship crashing near Los Angeles carrying a race we called the Newcomers. Some join the LA police force, hence the police procedural theme of the series. Our central story revolves Detective Matthew “Matt” Sikes, a human, and Detective George Francisco, a Newcomer is who’s his partner. I thought they did a reasonably decent job of dealing with racism and associated issues framed within an SF setting.
Yes, it includes weird things like even the aliens have male pregnancies. Awkwardly done I thought.
Was it perfectly done? (See above.) Oh Hell no. But they tried.
It was produced by Kenneth Johnson who you might recognize from the V franchise that he done earlier. He also was responsible for The Bionic Woman and The Incredible Hulk,
TV Guide would later include the series in their 2013 list of 60 shows that were “Cancelled Too Soon” I disagree. I don’t think that it was that well a conceived a series and honestly I’m not sure that it was going anywhere. It did spawn five films after it was cancelled.
In June 2009, Syfy (You know, that which had been the Sci-Fi Channel) announced that they were developing a new take on the series. Before that went anywhere, the series was cancelled by the network in favor of paranormal reality shows and professional wrestling. Since then talk after talk has been made of a reboot. Do you see a series happening?
Amazon, Hulu, Sling and Starz are streaming it.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 19, 1922 — Damon Knight. Author, editor, critic. Kate Wilhelm who was his wife is also regrettably no longer with us. His 1950 short story, “To Serve Man” was adapted for The Twilight Zone. His first story, “The Itching Hour,” appeared in the Summer 1940 number of Futuria Fantasia which was edited and published by Ray Bradbury. It’s hard to briefly sum up his amazing genre career but let me note he was a member of the Futurians and a reviewer as well as a writer. Novels of his I’ll single out are Hell’s Pavement, The Observers and Special Delivery but don’t think I’m overlooking his brilliant short stories. The Encyclopedia of SF notes that “In 1995, he was granted the SFWA Grand Master Award – which from 2002 became formally known, in his honour, as the Damon Knight Grand Master Award. He was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2003.” (Died 2002.)
Born September 19, 1928 — Adam West. Best known as Batman on that classic Sixties series, he also had a short role in 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars as Colonel Dan McReady. He last played the role of Batman by voicing him in two animated films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. He also most excellently voiced The Gray Ghost in an episode of the Kevin Conroy voiced B:TAS, “Beware the Gray Ghost”. So what did he do that I didn’t note here? (Died 2017.)
Born September 19, 1933 — David McCallum, 89. His longest running, though not genre, role is pathologist Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on NCIS where he appeared in every episode of the first fifteen seasons. Genre wise, he was Illya Nickovitch Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and the British series Sapphire & Steel where he was Steel and Joanna Lumley was Sapphire. He played the lead in a short-lived U.S. version of The Invisible Man. He was Dr. Vance Hendricks on Babylon 5’s “Infection” episode.
Born September 19, 1941 — Mariangela Melato. She was Kala, one of the female enforcers of Ming the Merciless in the Eighties version on the Flash Gordon film. The only other film she was in that might have been genre is Thomas e gli indemoniati. (Died 2013).
Born September 19, 1942 — Victor Brandt, 80. He showed up not once but twice during Star Trek’s third and final season. He played Watson in the “Elaan of Troyius” episode and Tongo Rad in the “The Way to Eden” episode. He’s since done work in The Invaders, They Came From Outer Space, and voice work in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Born September 19, 1947 — Tanith Lee. I hadn’t realized that she wrote more than ninety novels and three hundred short stories in her career. Ninety novels! She even wrote two of the Blake’s 7 episodes as well. I am more fond of her work for children such as The Dragon Hoard and The Unicorn Series than I am of her adult work. She has garnered well-deserved Stoker and World Fantasy Awards for Lifetime Achievement. (Died 2015.)
Born September 19, 1952 — Laurie R. King, 70. She’s on the Birthday Honors list for the Mary Russell series of historical mysteries, featuring Sherlock Holmes as her mentor and later partner. Hey it’s at least genre adjacent. She’s also written at least one genre novel, Califia’s Daughters.
Born September 19, 1970 — N. K. Jemisin, 50. Her most excellent BrokenEarth series has made her the only author to have won the Hugo for Best Novel in three consecutive years. Her “Non-Zero Probabilities” was nominated for the Best Short Story losing out to Will McIntosh‘s “Bridesicle” at Aussiecon 4. “Emergency Skin” I’m pleased to note won the Best Novelette Hugo at CoNZealand. Yeah I voted for it. And at Chicon 8 she won a Best Graphic Story or Comic Hugo for Far Sector, written by her, with art by Jamal Campbell.
God-emperors and space capitalists got you down? The discourse surrounding speculative fiction, and in particular fantasy and space opera, often pushes the idea that SF is inherently regressive. Join our panel of award-winning and best-selling authors as they interrogate the assumption that the future necessarily has to look anything like the past.
This is an absolutely tremendous book that befits its Biblically gigantic name yet I feel the need to start the review in a similar way to many of the reviews I’ve since read. I initially struggled to get into the book but you should stick with it.
The other repeated review comparison I’ve seen is to Samuel Delany’s Dhalgren. It is a comparison with some merit — both books do have a disorientating sense of an urban landscape in collapse — but it is not a helpful comparison. Rather like the initial statement I made, it is a comparison that feels like you are making either excuses or giving a warning. Where Dhalgren can feel obscure or even occult, Goliath is quite direct about its thesis even if it is complex in the way it interplays the lives of the multiple characters…
(10) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter spotted the contestants tripping over this one on tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! Might have gotten me, too!
Category: A Hunger For Reading
Answer: The title eatery of this Douglas Adams book is Milliways, famed for its Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.
Wrong question: What is ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’?
Right question: What is ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’?
(11) KEY AND PEELE VOICE TITLE CHARACTERS. This teaser trailer for Henry Selick’s new film dropped last week: Wendell & Wild.
From the delightfully wicked minds of Henry Selick (director of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline) and Jordan Peele (Nope, Us, Get Out) comes the story of Kat (Lyric Ross), a troubled teen haunted by her past, who must confront her personal demons, Wendell & Wild (played by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) to start a new life in her old hometown.
Now that the car-sized robot has covered 13 kilometers of Martian terrain over the span of 560 sols (days on the Red Planet), the mission team happily announced that the rover’s SHERLOC instrument detected organic material across many more samples of unique Mars rocks than first anticipated.
…WHAT THEY FOUND — The rocks are “tantalizing” and “whetting our appetite for what’s next,” Laurie Leshin, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said on Thursday.
First, the team found evidence that the rocks are excellent at preserving organic material. They learned this thanks to SHERLOC, short for Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals. It performed the preliminary analysis of Perseverance’s target rocks by shooting a laser at exposed faces — called abrasion patches — to analyze the rocks’ compositions….
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Warner Brothers dropped this 2022 featurette on the batsuit, featuring interviews with five directors of Batman movies and six Batmans, last week. Narrated by Kevin Smith. “The Evolution of the Batsuit”.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, John Hertz, Bruce D. Arthurs, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Fan Fund activities at Chicon 8 brought in a total of $4,649.64 reports Geri Sullivan, a past administrator of the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund.
Fan funds enable a well-known fan to attend a major science fiction convention in another country or region.
The Live Auction brought in $2,160 with fans bidding on flash fiction by Michael Swanwick, dill chips from TAFF delegate Fia Karlsson, a hand-beaded/hand-knit lace shawl from Esther MacCallum-Stewart, and an original poem by Jane Yolen as well as one by Jo Walton. Also going under the hammer were Tuckerizations by Mary Robinette Kowal, Cat Valente, and Steven Barnes in collaboration with Larry Niven.
$1,432.64 Dublin/Glasgow suite (Comic & book sales, bar tips, & Tammy’s Tastings Ukraine); with thanks to CoNZealand
$ 303.00 Yard Sale
$ 584.00 Silent Auction
$ 170.00 Other donations ($2 given to Lynelle, DUFF 50th Party, Jeanne Mealy, Comic sales to Greg Ketter)
Geri Sullivan says: “Not only did we do remarkably well overall, 31% of the proceeds came from the utterly splendid support of the Dublin/Glasgow suite. A healthy but undetermined amount of that came from the sale of a box of Ben Yalow’s comics and copies of Mad Magazine from the 1960s-1980s while several hundred dollars clearly came from the tip jar and Tammy’s Tastings Ukraine cocktail event. Huge thanks to James Bacon for carrying on and expanding the support started at DisCon III, and to CoNZealand as well as Dublin and Glasgow. Those daily great big, gronking wads of money were amazing!”
The distributions to participating fan funds worked out to:
$1,132.66 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund
$1,245.39 Down Under Fan Fund
$1,086.62 GUFF (Get Up-and-over Fan Fund or the Going Under Fan Fund)
$1,172.95 FFANZ (Fan Fund of Australia and New Zealand)
$12.02 PayPal Fees
(1) AI IS NOT AN EXCUSE FOR CONTENT THEFT. Malcolm F. Cross wryly begins his email with this link, “I’m sooooort of pleased to announce that discovering another theft of my work inspired me to do a little art project. The theft in question was having some of my work added to the training data for a commercially used AI, and the result was this twitter thread.” The 26-tweet thread starts here. Excerpts follow:
…In a statement shared with Variety on Wednesday evening, Drew promised that “everyone is going to get the chance to see this film.”
“I don’t respond well to bullying or pressure from faceless institutions,” said Drew. “It only emboldens me and what I was saying with this film. We’re looking for buyers and distribution partners who will protect us and make this film accessible to trans people and their families everywhere.”
Drew hinted at potential discord around the movie on Tuesday, ahead of her world premiere, posting a cryptic tweet: “I have no clue how today goes and my team wants me to say nothing of course so I’ll stay vague…but whatever happens in the next few hours, I want you to know…if you’ve been waiting and aching to watch our movie, ur going to get to soon. Stay tuned and stay with me. Need ur help.”…
Just before the movie rolled, The Globe and Mail reported that a title card was displayed stating that the film was protected under “fair use” laws.
“This film is a parody and is at present time completely unauthorized by DC Comics, Warner Brothers or anyone claiming ownership of the trademarks therein (eg. ‘Joker,’ ‘Batman, etc.),” read the title card. “Aside from licensed stock, all video and graphics featured in the film are original materials, often recreations of iconic comic book movie set pieces created by Vera Drew and a team of over 100 independent artists and filmmakers on three separate continents during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Any copyright or trademark infringement was not done intentionally. After consulting with counsel, the director believes in good faith that use of these names and characters in a autobiographical context of her personal coming-out story is protected by Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, which allows ‘fair use’ for purposes such as a relevant criticism, social commentary or education.”
…I found out that Chicon 8 (the 80th World Science Fiction Convention) would have a “Titus Groan” panel for their 1946 Project. The 1946 Project was their plan to celebrate 1946 and all things speculative fiction with panel discussions instead of doing a 1947 Retro Hugo.
I applied to be on the panel, telling the Programming Team with substantial fannish enthusiasm how great “Titus Groan” was, how I was prepared to answer the question of whether it was genre or not, and what I was prepared to do to get ready for a panel.
For unknown reasons, they selected me for the panel and made me the moderator. I did not have a problem with this; I thought I could do a great job. I had never been on any SF convention panels before. I thought I could do all of that, but I redoubled my preparations….
In The Great Tales Never End: Essays in Memory of Christopher Tolkien, Richard Ovenden, who serves as Bodley’s Librarian, the senior Executive position of the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford, and Catherine McIlwaine, the Tolkien Archivist at the Bodleian Libraries, have assembled a remarkable anthology about Christopher, who died in 2020….
Lenny Picker: What personal memories of Christopher Tolkien are your most vivid?
Richard Ovenden: I had the good fortune of visiting him at least once a year for about 10 years. Staying in the house, having long conversations. He looked quite like his father. I never knew J.R.R. Tolkien, but Christopher’s memory of Oxford really was quite profound. He was born there, grew up there, and lived there for many decades. But his memory of it is really kind of frozen in about the middle of the 1970s, when the family moved to France. And so having a conversation with Christopher about Oxford was like having one about the Oxford of when J.R.R. Tolkien was still alive. So it seemed to me almost like you were talking to J.R.R. Tolkien. And because he had this immense knowledge of his father’s work and his mentality, there was that sort of connection. Christopher also had a very great sense of humor—a very, very dry sense of humor. And he was a very funny human being. He also was a great reader; he loved reading fiction, Victorian fiction, in particular, Dickens, Trollope, were a great source of pleasure for him. So he was a very literary person, not just in his own field of scholarship.
(6) WHO SHOULD WIN FAN HUGOS? In the Hugo Book Club Blog’s post “The Gordian Knot of Fan Vs. Pro” they’re inclined to think the knot is just fine the way it is and that the current WSFS rules get the balance right.
…Just three years [sic] after the Scithers constitution was introduced [in 1963], Jack Gaughan showed just how unclear the existing language could be, winning both the fan artist and professional artist Hugo Awards in a single  evening. There was an outcry over this — why have two separate categories if the same body of work could win both? A clause was quickly added to the constitution to prevent this from happening again, but the language did not seek to clarify what was Fan and what was Pro, rather stating that “Anyone whose name appears on the final ballot for a given year under the professional artist category will not be eligible for the fan artist award for that year.”
Over the years, this question has resurfaced fairly regularly. Questions were raised over John Scalzi winning best fan writer in the same year that his novel The Last Colony was on the ballot. Two years later there was some slight grumbling about Fred Pohl — at that time one of only 25 authors to have won three professional prose Hugos — winning for best fan writer.
So in this context, a well-intentioned but problematic proposal (“An Aristotelian Solution to Fan vs Pro”) brought forward to this year’s business meeting provided an attempt to parse out this question….
In 1982, Frank Delaney of the BBC visited Roald Dahl at home for a long conversation that meandered from children’s literature to 18th-century furniture and making orange marmalade. During that visit, Dahl gave Delaney a glimpse at his writing routine, which consisted, at the time, of four hours a day spent in a writing shed on his property.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1963 – [By Cat Eldridge.]
There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: There is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to… The Outer Limits. — opening narration.
Fifty-nine years ago this evening on ABC, The Outer Limits series premiered, created and executive produced by Leslie Stevens who had done nothing of a genre nature before. It was directed by far too many to note here. Steven’s would later do Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
In the unaired pilot, it was called Please Stand By, but ABC rejected that title, so the producers renamed it.
Two episodes, “Demon with a Glass Hand” and “Soldier”, were written by Harlan Ellison. Clifford Simak wrote “The Duplicate Man” episode. David Duncan penned “The Human Factor”. Eando Binder gets credit for the “I, Robot” episode.
“Demon with a Glass Hand” won a Writers’ Guild Award. Later, Ellison’s “Soldier” script would allow him to sue Cameron over his Terminator script and win rather nicely.
Season One combined science fiction and horror, while Season two was shifted focus to being more about what they called hard science fiction stories, dropping the “scary monster” theme of Season One. The network thought the monster were the villains of the week.
The original series lasted a mere forty-nine episodes. The second iteration, which started in 1995, would last much longer, going an amazing one hundred and fifty-two episodes.
It was very popular in the ratings the first season but was competing against Jackie Gleason in the second season and that got it cancelled halfway through. As I noted, it had a second life thirty years on which was quite successful. Variety reported last year that an Outer Limits reboot was in development at a premium cable network though they declined to say which network.
Neat piece of trivia: The “ion storm” from “The Mutant” episode here which was a projector beam shining through a container containing glitter in liquid suspension became the transporter effect in the Trek series. Also, the process used to make pointed ears for David McCallum in “The Sixth Finger” episode here was used to make Spock’s ears, and The black mask from “The Duplicate Man” episode here was used by Dr. Leighton in “The Conscience of the King”.
It’s streaming on Pluto. Pluto? Huh?
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 16, 1914 — William Bernard Ready. Can I include an individual for just one work? Well given it’s my Birthday list, of course. It’s the 1968 work, The Tolkien Relation: A Personal Inquiry, Ready foresaw the cultural value of Tolkien’s writings and, while at Marquette University, he managed to purchase a large selection of original literary manuscripts by Tolkien in 1956-57, including manuscripts of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. (Died 1981.)
Born September 16, 1927 — Peter Falk. His best remembered genre role is in The Princess Bride as the Grandfather who narrates the story. (The person who replaced the late Falk in the full cast reading of The Princess Bride for the Wisconsin Democratic fundraiser, Director Rob Reiner, wasn’t nearly as good as he was in that role.) He also plays Ramos Clemente in “The Mirror,” an episode of The Twilight Zone. And he’s Reverend Theo Kerr in the 2001 version of The Lost World. (Died 2011.)
Born September 16, 1930 — Anne Francis. You’ll remember her best as Altaira “Alta” Morbius on Forbidden Planet. She also appeared twice in The Twilight Zone (“The After Hours” and “Jess-Belle”). She also appeared in multiple episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. She’d even appear twice in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and played several roles on Fantasy Island as well. (Died 2011.)
Born September 16, 1932 — Karen Anderson. She co-wrote two series with her husband, Poul Anderson, King of Ys and The Last Viking, and created the delightful The Unicorn Trade collection with him. Fancyclopedia has her extensive fannish history thisaway, and Mike has her obituary here. (Died 2018.)
Born September 16, 1952 — Lisa Tuttle, 70. Tuttle won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, received a Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “The Bone Flute,” which she refused, and a BSFA Award for Short Fiction for “In Translation”. My favorite works by her include Catwitch, The Silver Bough and her Ghosts and Other Loverscollection.Her latest novel is The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross. Her collection, The Dead Hours of the Night was nominated for a Stoker last year — impressive!
Born September 16, 1954 — Howard Weinstein, 68. At age 19, he was the youngest person to ever write a Trek script, selling “The Pirates of Orion” for use in the animated series. Though it would be his only script, he would go on to write quite a few Trek novels — thirteen are listed currently at the usual suspects — and comics. He gets a thanks credit in Star Trek: The Voyage Home. He wrote a script, “The Sky Above, the Mudd Below”, for the fanfic affair Star Trek: New Voyages, but it never got made. And it won’t given that there’s a comic book series already made with its plot. Paramount wasn’t at all pleased. To quote Zevon, “Send lawyers, gun and money / the shit has hit the fan.”
Born September 16, 1955 — Amanda Hemingway, 67. British author of fantasy novels who’s best known for the Fern Capel series written under the Jan Siegel name — it’s most excellent. I’d also recommend The Sangreal Trilogy penned under her own name. Alas her superb website has gone offline. She is available from the usual suspects — curiously her Hemingway novels are much more costly than her Seigel novels are.
Born September 16, 1960 — Mike Mignola, 62. The Hellboy stories, of course, are definitely worth reading, particularly the early on ones. His Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is an amazing “What If” story which isn’t at all the same as the animated film of that name which is superb on its own footing, and the B.P.R.D. stories are quite excellent too. I’m very fond of the first Hellboy film, not so much of the second, and detest the reboot now that I’ve seen it, while the animated films are excellent.
In episode one of the second season of Humanize, Wesley J. Smith’s guest is the internationally famous novelist Dean Koontz. Dean and Wesley discuss how he came to be an author, how life is filled with meaning, his art, the importance of human exceptionalism, the problem with transhumanism, and how Dean uses humor to further his plots and character development. Dean recalls his upbringing in an impoverished household that did not have running water until he was 11, how a high school English teacher changed his life, and his love for the use of the English language. He and Wesley also discuss the beauty of the human/dog relationship and his philanthropic support for Canine Companions for Independence, a school that trains service dogs to help people with disabilities lead independent lives. Any reader of Dean Koontz and supporter of human exceptionalism will want to listen to this fascinating interview with one of America’s most successful and prolific authors…
…In the U.S., 42 percent of 12-to-54-year-olds were nearsighted in the early 2000s—the last time a national survey of myopia was conducted—up from a quarter in the 1970s. Though more recent large-scale surveys are not available, when I asked eye doctors around the U.S. if they were seeing more nearsighted kids, the answers were: “Absolutely.” “Yes.” “No question about it.”
In Europe as well, young adults are more likely to need glasses for distance vision than their parents or grandparents are now. Some of the lowest rates of myopia are in developing countries in Africa and South America. But where Asia was once seen as an outlier, it’s now considered a harbinger. If current trends continue, one study estimates, half of the world’s population will be myopic by 2050.
The consequences of this trend are more dire than a surge in bespectacled kids. Nearsighted eyes become prone to serious problems like glaucoma and retinal detachment in middle age, conditions that can in turn cause permanent blindness. The risks start small but rise exponentially with higher prescriptions. The younger myopia starts, the worse the outlook. In 2019, the American Academy of Ophthalmology convened a task force to recognize myopia as an urgent global-health problem. As Michael Repka, an ophthalmology professor at Johns Hopkins University and the AAO’s medical director for government affairs, told me, “You’re trying to head off an epidemic of blindness that’s decades down the road.”
The cause of this remarkable deterioration in our vision may seem obvious: You need only look around to see countless kids absorbed in phones and tablets and laptops. And you wouldn’t be the first to conclude that staring at something inches from your face is bad for distance vision. Four centuries ago, the German astronomer Johannes Kepler blamed his own poor eyesight, in part, on all the hours he spent studying. Historically, British doctors have found myopia to be much more common among Oxford students than among military recruits, and in “more rigorous” town schools than in rural ones. A late-19th-century ophthalmology handbook even suggested treating myopia with a change of air and avoidance of all work with the eyes—“a sea voyage if possible.”
For 4,500 years, the pyramids of Giza have loomed over the western bank of the Nile River as a geometric mountain chain. The Great Pyramid, built to commemorate the reign of Pharaoh Khufu, the second king of Egypt’s fourth dynasty, covers 13 acres and stood more than 480 feet upon its completion around 2560 B.C. Remarkably, ancient architects somehow transported 2.3 million limestone and granite blocks, each weighing an average of more than two tons, across miles of desert from the banks of the Nile to the pyramid site on the Giza Plateau.
Hauling these stones over land would have been grueling. Scientists have long believed that utilizing a river or channel made the process possible, but today the Nile is miles away from the pyramids. On Monday, however, a team of researchers reported evidence that a lost arm of the Nile once cut through this stretch of desert, and would have greatly simplified transporting the giant slabs to the pyramid complex….
(14) EVOLVING ANIMATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Edward Vega of VOX looks at how the success of Spider Man: Into The Spider-Verse has shown animators an alternative to the photo-realistic animation of Pixar: “How ‘Spider-Verse’ forced animation to evolve”.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Malcolm F. Cross, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink, Chicon 8 Art Show Director, reports these are the creators who took home awards from the Chicon 8 Art show.
Best in Show: Vincent DiFate, “The Outer Reach” Best 2D Work: Eric Wilkerson, “Alien Lives Matter” Best 3D Work: John Douglass, “Green Autoe Tanker” Director’s Choice AKA Best subversion of art show rules:Lucy Synk, “Strange New Worlds”
Klein-Lebbink explained the story behind the fourth award: “One of the judges, the lead auctioneer and also a good friend of mine (Bob Passovoy) and I were walking through the art show and ran across Lucy Synk’s piece, which was kind of 2.5 dimensional, fun, irreverent, and really really good. Bob promptly dubbed it great for subverting the 2D vs 3D paradigm and we ran with it. Lucy was there as well telling us how much fun she had making it. Humor aside, it was an excellent piece of work and very deserving, and yes it’s a homage to the newest Star Trek series ‘Strange New Worlds’.”
[Thanks to Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink for the story.]
(1) JUSTICE FOR SYLVIA ANDERSON. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Last night’s BBC Radio 4 arts programme, Front Row, devoted a substantive amount of time to the airbrushing of Sylvia Anderson from Anderson productions by Gerry Anderson and then the Anderson estate. This included unlawful contracts that lost her many years of royalties. Absolutely shocking. “Richard Eyre’s The Snail House; Sylvia Anderson and women in TV; the late Jean-Luc Godard”.
The name Sylvia Anderson was recently invoked by Dr. Lisa Cameron MP, during a debate on gender equality in the media in Westminster Hall. The late Sylvia Anderson was a pioneer in the male dominated world of television, co-creating Thunderbirds in the 1960s with her then husband Gerry. But her family say her name has often been omitted from credits and merchandise in the years since then. Samira speaks to Sylvia’s daughter Dee Anderson and Dame Heather Rabbatts, Chair of Time’s Up UK, who are campaigning for her legacy to be restored and to Barbara Broccoli, producer of the James Bond films, who remembers Sylvia as her mentor.
(2) PIECES OF CHICON 8. In episode 66 of the Octothorpe podcast, “Thank You, Steven”, John Coxon is in the fanzine lounge, Alison Scott is under a bison hat, and Liz Batty is good, thank you.
We chat to people in the fanzine lounge at Chicon 8. (Sorry about the background noise, and normal service resumes next week.)
Alt text. A purple square with “OCTOTHORPE 66” written at the bottom and inset, a photograph of John, Alison, and Liz. John is wearing a grey suit with a Hugo Award finalist pin and a matching purple tie and mask; Alison is wearing a black mask, a burgundy dress, and has glitter on her temple, and Liz is wearing a green dress and matching mask, a necklace by Vanessa Applegate, and a yellow shrug. They are against a backdrop which has alternating Hugo Award logos and Chicon 8 logos.
Whether you’ve been writing for a while or dreaming of getting away and actually having time to write, many of us have wondered if a writer’s workshop was right for us.
At WorldCon 80, otherwise known as ChiCon8, I attended the panel: The Writing Workshop Workshop where moderator Erin Underwood led panelists Ian Muneshwar, Tegan Moor, James Patrick Kelly, and Caroline M Yoachim in a discussion aimed at answering that very question….
Hazelwood also presents the information in this YouTube video.
(4) TAKING COUNSEL OF THEIR FEARS. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The Atlantic has an interesting article about the backlash against casting actors of color in The Rings of Power, House of the Dragon, Sandman and all sorts of other things: “Fear of a Black Hobbit”.
Earlier this month, CNN published a news story featuring an interview with Brandon Morse, an editor for the right-wing website RedState, in which he complained that Amazon’s new Lord of the Rings show, The Rings of Power, is integrated: “He says ‘The Rings of Power’ producers have cast non-White actors in a story based on European culture and who look wildly different from how Tolkien originally described them,” CNN reported. “He says it’s an attempt to embed ‘social justice politics’ into Tolkien’s world.” Morse told CNN that “if you focus on introducing modern political sentiments, such as the leftist obsession with identity issues that only go skin deep, then you’re no longer focusing on building a good story.”
It’s worth noting how rapidly right-wing language about colorblind meritocracy melts away when it does not produce the desired results. Perhaps the actors cast were simply the most qualified? …
Because I’m addicted to story, I wondered just how much of our invisible culture we carried in in the way we tell stories. I began to look at the world building we do and the paths we take when we tell stories and read them. What is the difference between story space for the reader and story space for the writer and, indeed, story space for the editor? As I addressed these questions, I discovered how very powerful genre literature is in our lives. Even those who have never read a science fiction novel have experienced the narratives we tell and the cultural material we embed into our stories.
I wanted to explain this: that genre literature is a powerful, powerful force, that culture is transmitted through story, that we can all think about story and through that thought have more control over what we accept from story. We can, in short, choose not to be bigots….
(6) WHAT’S AHEAD IN THE DESIGN FIELD? Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination’s event “Designing the Future with Applied Sci-Fi” will take place on Thursday, September 29, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. Eastern. Panelists include design fiction pioneer Julian Bleecker, speculative designer Anab Jain, narrative designer Alex McDowell, strategic foresight practitioner Radha Mistry, and futurist Brian David Johnson. The event will also feature opening remarks from the renowned science fiction (and nonfiction) author Bruce Sterling.
The event is the second in a series for the Applied Sci-Fi Project at ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination, which seeks to understand the influence of science fiction on technology and the people who build it, and to study the ways that sci-fi storytelling can a tool for innovation and foresight.
Amazon’s Prime Video has given the green light to Blade Runner2099, a limited series sequel to the iconic sci-fi film franchise. The series comes from Amazon Studios and Alcon Entertainment, which holds the rights to Blade Runner. Ridley Scott, who directed the classic 1982 film, will executive produce through his Scott Free Productions, while Silka Luisa (Apple TV+’s Shining Girls) will serve as showrunner….
Amazon announced it was developing Blade Runner 2099 in February. Its title implies it will be set 50 years after 2017’s film sequel Blade Runner 2049, directed by Denis Villeneuve, but story details are being kept quiet for now. The series will be the first live-action treatment of Blade Runner for TV; Adult Swim aired an anime series titled Blade Runner: Black Lotus that debuted in November 2021….
(8) A FONT OF KNOWLEDGE. Camestros Felapton is doing a highly scientific study to show that you can predict the genre of a book by the type face used on the cover. “The sans-serif genre axis part 2”. He’s not high, just his science is.
… “Science Fiction typically uses sans-serif fonts for titles” is a defensible claim — the proportion is high and the spread is relatively narrow compared with other genres….
Alternate historians love stranding people and places in the past because we want to see what happens when technology and ideas from the present are unleashed on earlier eras. And one novel would revolutionize these kind of stories and launch a new community of writers.
(10) MARGARET ANN BASTA (1951—2022). Margaret Basta who, with her twin sister Laura, published some of the earliest Star Trek fanzines, was found dead in her home on September 4. She was 69. Margaret was active in Detroit fandom in the Seventies, belonging to the Wayne Third Foundation. She and Laura were founders and officers of the Star Trek Association for Revival (S.T.A.R.). (Laura was nominated for a Best Fan Writer Hugo in 1974.) Margaret was later involved in Beauty and the Beast fandom.
Hi, I’m Jan Feldmann; my best friend Margaret Basta died unexpectedly earlier this month. She left no provisions for a funeral or burial and her family cannot handle the expense. I loved her dearly for 50 years and want to see her ashes buried with dignity at Holy Sepulchre cemetary in Southfield MI. She was one of the first original Star Trek fans and organized several early ST fan conventions. She wrote fan fiction, collected and sold vintage jewelry, had a huge circle of friends all over the country, and made a lasting impression on countless people. Margaret was a wonderful lady and I hope you can help her on her final journey. $1500 will pay for the cremation and internment at Holy Sepulchre cemetary.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1991 – [By Cat Eldridge.]Eerie, Indianaseries
You remember Joe Dante who has served us such treats as the Gremlin films, a segment of the Twilight Zone: The Movie (“It’s A Good Life”) and, errr, Looney Tunes: Back in Action? (I’ll forgive him for that because he’s a consultant on HBO Max prequel series Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai.)
And Dante was the creative consultant and director on a weird little horror SF series thirty-one years ago on NBC called Eerie, Indiana. Yes, delightfully weird. It was created by José Rivera and Karl Schaefer. For both it would be their first genre undertaking, though they would have a starry future, their work including Eureka, Goosebumps, The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story and Strange Luck to name but a few genre series that they’d work on in a major capacity.
SPOILER ALERT! REALLY I’M SERIOUS, GO AWAY
Hardly anyone there is normal. Or even possibly of this time and space. We have super intelligent canines bent on global domination, a man who might be the Ahab, and, in this reality, Elvis never died, and Bigfoot is fond of the forest around this small town.
There’s even an actor doomed to keep playing the same role over and over and over again, that of a mummy. They break the fourth wall and get him into a much happier film. Tony Jay played this actor.
Yes, they broke the fourth wall. That would happen again in a major way that I won’t detail here.
END SPOILER ALERT. YOU CAN COME BACK NOW.
It lasted but nineteen episodes as ratings were very poor.
Critics loved it. I’m quoting only one due to its length: “Scripted by Karl Schaefer and José Rivera with smart, sharp insights; slyly directed by feature film helmsman Joe Dante; and given edgy life by the show’s winning cast, Eerie, Indiana shapes up as one of the fall season’s standouts, a newcomer that has the fresh, bracing look of Edward Scissorhands and scores as a clever, wry presentation well worth watching.”
It won’t surprise you that at Rotten Tomatoes, that audience reviewers give it a rating of eighty-eight percent.
It is streaming on Amazon Prime, Disney+ and legally on YouTube. Yes legally on the latter.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 15, 1922 — Bob Anderson. He was the swordmaster who played Darth Vader in his fight scenes in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. He replaced David Prowse due to the actor’s unfortunate tendency to break lightsabers. Because of the height differences—Anderson was six one while Prowse was six inches taller, Anderson’s scenes were filmed from a lower angle to make him seem taller, or he stood on some small stilts or wore platform shoes. Anderson later did swordfighting choreography and training for films such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy (with Christopher Lee), the Zorro movies with Antonio Banderas and Die Another Day with stunt performer Jim Dowdall. (Died 2022.)
Born September 15, 1924 — Henry Silva, 98. Here for his genre work — Buck Rogersin the 25th Century as Kane, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold as Argon, Amazon Women on the Moon as Himself (the “Bullshit or Not” segment, Cyborg – Il guerriero d’acciaio as ‘Hammer’, and Dick Tracy as ‘Influence’.
Born September 15, 1925 — Carlos Rambaldi. Wnner of three Oscars: one Special Achievement Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in Seventies version of King Kong, and two Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects of Alien and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. He is best remembered for his work in those two last mentioned films, that is for the mechanical head-effects for the creature in Alien and the design of the title character of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. He designed the Worms in Dune. (Died 2012.)
Born September 15, 1940 — Norman Spinrad, 82. I’ll admit that the only novel I’ve read by him is Bug Jack Barron. My bad. And I was fascinated to learn he wrote the script for Trek’s “The Doomsday Machine” episode which is an amazing story. So how is it that he’s never won a Hugo?
Born September 15, 1943 — John M. Faucette. Published five novels and one short story. He left seven unpublished novels in various states of completion at his death. Two of his novels; Crown of Infinity and Age of Ruin, were published in the Ace Doubles series. None of his works are in print in digital or paper format currently including his Black Science Fiction anthology which he as an African-American SF writer was very proud of. (Died 2003.)
Born September 15, 1956 — Elton T. Elliott, 66. Editor, publisher, reviewer. His solo fiction debut was “Lighting Candles on the River Styx” in Amazing (March 1991). His early novel-length work appeared in the 1980s in collaboration with Richard E.Geis under the pseudonym Richard Elliott. He edited Science Fiction Review from 1990 to 1992 which, yes, I remember reading at the time.
Born September 15, 1960 — Kevin Roche, 62. Chaired Worldcon 76 in San Jose (2018). Prior to that he co-chaired Westercon 66 in Sacramento in 2013 and chaired Costume-Con 26 in San José in 2008. He’s a veteran costumer and masquerade emcee, who co-directed the 2011 Worldcon’s Masquerade as well as Masquerades at Anime Los Angeles, Westercon, and BayCon. Roche is a research scientist at IBM Research Almaden. He also was editor of Yipe! The Costume Fanzine of Record.
Born September 15, 1962 — Jane Lindskold, 60. My first encounter with her was through the Zelazny novel she finished, Donnerjack. It’s excellent though how much is Zelazny is open to vigorous debate. Of her own novels, I recommend The Buried Pyramid,Child of a Rainless Year and Asphodel as being very good.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Agnes has some pecadillos as a author that make me wonder if she’s a relative of Writer X. It seems even more possible after reading this later strip.
Lio shows that sometimes nature calls from very faraway places.
…Other “What If? 2” situations ring of the perilous: What are your chances of death-by-geyser at Yellowstone Park? What would the daily caloric human-intake needs be for a modern T. rex gone rogue in the boroughs of New York? And how catastrophic would it be if, as the children’s tune goes, all the raindrops were lemon drops and gumdrops?…
(15) CURRENT EVENTS. “Colonizing the Cosmos: Astor’s Electrical Future” at The Public Domain Review. “During America’s Gilded Age, the future seemed to pulse with electrical possibility. Iwan Rhys Morus follows the interplanetary safari that is John Jacob Astor’s A Journey in Other Worlds, a high-voltage scientific romance in which visions of imperialism haunt a supposedly ‘perfect’ future.”
…Luckily, one of them told us exactly how he imagined the century to come. In 1894, New York publishers D. Appleton and Company released A Journey in Other Worlds: A Romance of the Future, written by John Jacob Astor IV, one of America’s wealthiest men. The Astor clan had originally made their fortune in the fur trade, and had added to their millions through investment in land and property. In 1897, John Jacob would build the Astoria Hotel in New York, next door to the Waldorf, owned by his cousin William. The hotel was both a symbol of the Astor family’s wealth and a honeypot for New York’s fashionables (Tesla himself lived there until he was turfed out for failing to pay his bills). It’s Astor’s authorship that makes the book such a fascinating insight into the Gilded Age’s fantasies about its prosperous tomorrows….
(16) TURN OF THE SEASON. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] SF2 Concatenation’s autumnal edition is now up.
The image (shown) is of a planet called HIP 65426 b, an object similar to Jupiter, but younger and hotter, that lies 107 parsecs from Earth in the constellation Centaurus. Although it looks like a pixelated light bulb, it is the first exoplanet image ever taken at deep infrared wavelengths, which allow astronomers to study the full range of a planet’s brightness and what it is made of (the star symbol marks HIP 65426 b’s star, whose light the telescope blocked).
Astronomers know of more than 5,000 exoplanets, but they have taken pictures of only around 20. Imaging exoplanets directly is difficult, because they are often lost in the glare of the star around which they orbit.
But observing them at infrared wavelengths, as Webb does, helps to boost the contrast between star and planet. “You’re in the regime where planets are brightest and stars are dimmest,” says Aarynn Carter, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lead author of the preprint.
Some 150 million years ago, towards the end of the Jurassic period, an unknown but probably small creature threw up a recent meal inside a pond in what is now Utah1.
Over the ages, the puke’s contents were fossilized and remained untouched. That is, until they reached the hands of John Foster at the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum in Vernal and his colleagues.
The researchers found the fossil at the ‘Jurassic Salad Bar’, a site where they’ve unearthed more than 300 fossilized plants. The specimen is small, not much larger than 1 square centimetre in area. But it’s densely packed with more than 20 undigested bones and some puzzling items that might well be soft tissues or part of the vomit material.
Some of the bones, including some vertebrae, possibly belonged to a tadpole. Others were once part of frogs. And a tiny femur might have come from a salamander. Given the contents and the setting they were found in, researchers strongly suspect that a fish might have been the one to throw them up.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: 300th Episode,” the Screen Junkies’s EPIC Voice Guy salutes Ryan George for his 300th episode of “Pitch Meeting” by saying Ryan George is “the Canadian Ryan who doesn’t have six-pack abs.” George gets to repeat all the catchphrases from every episode (including “super easy, barely an inconvience”) and says that after 300 episodes the producer and the writer have turned from “poorly developed characters” into “psychopaths.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Joey Eschrich, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cora Buhlert.]
“This movie is not illegal. I just said that to get you to come.” So says Vera Drew, the writer-director-star-effects artist behind the queer Batmanmovie The People’s Joker. But before the film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Warner Bros. served a cease-and-desist order against the film anyway. Subsequent festival screenings have been canceled, leaving the future of The People’s Joker in doubt.
…Fanfiction might seem like an unlikely vehicle for real-life autobiography. But given how personal the relationship can get between fans and the pop culture they love, it makes sense that Vera, a passionate fan of the Bat-verse, would use the Joker’s character and lore to tell the story of her own transformation from a failed improv comedian into a gloriously unhinged trans agent of comedic chaos. The People’s Joker might even be called an act of comedic terrorism, if it wasn’t so damn sincere….
California sued Amazon on Wednesday, alleging that the company caused higher prices across the state and “stifled competition.”
Amazon penalizes sellers on its site if they offer products elsewhere for lowerprices, the state alleged. That makes it harder for others to compete, therefore entrenching Amazon’s market power, the state said in a press release announcing the lawsuit.
“For years, California consumers have paid more for their online purchases because of Amazon’s anticompetitive contracting practices,” state Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) said in a statement.
Amazon spokesman Alex Haurek said in a statement that the California attorney general “has it exactly backwards” and that “sellers set their own prices” on the website.
“Amazon takes pride in the fact that we offer low prices across the broadest selection, and like any store we reserve the right not to highlight offers to customers that are not priced competitively,” Haurek said in a statement. “The relief the AG seeks would force Amazon to feature higher prices to customers, oddly going against core objectives of antitrust law.”…
(3) FOR THOSE SCORING AT HOME. Kevin Standlee has posted a concise scorecard listing what happened to every Worldcon Business Meeting agenda item in “2022 WSFS Business Meeting Summary”.
Because people have asked for it multiple times, here is the shorter version of the 2022 Business Meeting Summary. You must have the 2022 WSFS Business Meeting Agenda in order for anything here to make sense, because I’m not going to list titles or try to summarize what each item is. If I did that (which I did already in my day-by-day summaries), this would be so long that people would complain that they wanted a summary of the summary.
(4) TOLKIEN DOWNCHECKED AGAIN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Stephen Bush discusses the legacy of JRR Tolkien and responds to criticism made by Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker.
…It is certainly true that any court seeking to convict Tolkien of great literature would struggle. Unlike other fantasy authors, such as Michael Moorcock or Ursula Le Guin, his work provides little in the way of social or political commentary. Nor will readers find characters in whom they see themselves or their own experiences, such as the schoolchildren in the Harry Potter books. Or, indeed, much in the way of deep character work at all: for the most part, existential doubt, moral complexity, sexual desire and ambiguous inter-personal relationships are in short supply in The Lord of the Rings.
But that same court would also struggle to convict Tolkien for devising the formula that Gopnik imputes to him. The concept of a chosen one travelling through a ‘vaguely medieval’ world, aided and abetted by fantastical creatures, in search of some cosmic doodad (or, as the screenwriter and frequent Hitchcock collaborator Angus MacPhail called it, ‘a MacGuffin’) predates Tolkien. The ‘Tolkien formula’ may be found in various retellings of the story of the Holy Grail. To the extent that Tolkien deviates from that story, it is in the introduction of the dark lord Sauron. But, given that in The Lord of the Rings we never hear Sauron speak, he never engages the heroes directly and his motivations are, in essence that he does evil things because he’s evil Sauron alone can hardly be seen as great innovation on the old story of the Holy Grail….
Grace hosts our ‘official’ first episodes with Alicia, Leah, and Tim, as they properly introduce themselves to the audience. Everyone recounts their history with Tolkien’s legendarium, and shares personal experiences and interactions with Tolkien fandom & scholarship. We wrap up with a summary of why ‘Queer Lodgings’ exists, some of our goals for the podcast, and tease some future episode topics – some intense, some decidedly more ‘fluffy’!
(6) FURRY SITE BANS AI ART. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Website Fur Affinity puts its foot (paw?) down regarding AI-generated art. Such works are now lumped in with other artwork judged to be lacking artistic merit and banned from the site. The furry site is not the first website to enact such a ban, though not all the prior ones are as strict. “Furry Fandom Site Bans All AI Art” reports Vice.
In a Sept. 5 policy update first spotted by journalist Andy Baio, Fur Affinity announced that artwork lacking “artistic merit,” which is banned from the site, now includes “submissions created through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) or similar image generators.” …
The update states: “AI and machine learning applications (DALL-E, Craiyon) sample other artists’ work to create content. That content generated can reference hundreds, even thousands of pieces of work from other artists to create derivative images. Our goal is to support artists and their content. We don’t believe it’s in our community’s best interests to allow AI generated content on the site.”
… As Baio also noted, several social art gallery sites have taken a stand against this groundswell of AI-generated art by banning it outright: Inkblot, a new site that just launched in open beta, has a zero tolerance policy on AI artworks, and Newgrounds, a social site for sharing animations and art that’s been around since 1995, banned AI art from its Art Portal feed, specifically forbidding anything made with Midjourney, DALL-E, CrAIyon (formerly DALL-E Mini) and ArtBreeder.
Newgrounds makes interesting concessions to allow it elsewhere on the platform, like on one’s own blog, but not on the Art Portal, where a flood of AI art could drown out other works….
Minicon 15 was held April 13-15, 1979 in Minneapolis, with Guests of Honor Theodore Sturgeon, Rick Sternbach and Tom Digby.
In this brief 16+ minute Guest of Honor speech, Sturgeon speaks about his experience at the “Jupiter Encounter” at JPL, seeing photos of Ganymede and Callisto for the first time. This is followed by a rumination on humanity, interwoven with his shaping of “Sturgeon’s Law,” and an exposition on his favored “Ask the Next Question” philosophy. In this recording, you get a sense of the man himself. A lovely (and knowledgeable) intro by Bob Vardeman sets the stage.
Thanks to Geri Sullivan and the Video Archeology project for providing the recording.
(8) JEAN-LUC GODARD (1930-2022) French director Jean-Luc Godard died September 13 at age 91. One of his movies, Alphaville, is SF and coincidentally the only genre film ever to win the Golden Bear at the Berlin film festival: “Jean-Luc Godard, giant of the French New Wave, dies at 91” in the Guardian. An excerpt:
…Godard went on to make a string of seminal films in the 1960s at a furious rate. His next film, Le Petit Soldat, suggested the French government condoned torture, and it was banned until 1963, but it was also the film on which Godard met his future wife, Anna Karina, as well as coining his most famous aphorism, “Cinema is truth at 24 frames a second.” Other highlights included A Woman Is a Woman, a self-referential homage to the Hollywood musical, which again starred Karina, along with Belmondo and won more Berlin awards; the extravagant, epic film-about-film-making Contempt, with Michel Piccoli, Brigitte Bardot, Jack Palance and Fritz Lang; and Alphaville, a bizarre hybrid of film noir and science fiction….
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1968 – [By Cat Eldridge.]Doctor Who’s “The Mind Robber” (The Second Doctor). I’ve not essayed a story of the Second Doctor before so this will be interesting to do. Let’s get at it.
It was first broadcast in five weekly parts from September 14 to October 12, 1968 on BBC.
The Second Doctor who was played by Patrick Troughton who, yes, was The Doctor for three seasons. He had two Companions here, Frazer Hines who played Jamie McCrimmon and Wendy Padbury who was Zoe Heriot.
In a place where fiction is real, creatures such as Medusa and the Minotaur exist. The Master tries to have the Doctor replace him as the Storyteller there as he dying. Of course nothing is that simple…
BBC says that this is indeed the first incarnation of The Master. Though their office timeline disputes that.
Reception was decidedly mixed for it, but years later Charlie Jane Anders of io9 listed the cliffhanger to the first episode — in which the TARDIS breaks apart — as one of the greatest cliffhangers in the history of Doctor Who.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 14, 1941 — Bruce Hyde. Patterns emerge in doing these Birthdays. One of these patterns is that original Trek had a lot of secondary performers who had really short acting careers. He certainly did. He portrayed Lt. Kevin Riley in two episodes, “The Naked Time” and “The Conscience of the King” and the rest of his acting career consisted of eight appearances, four of them as Dr. Jeff Brenner. He acted for less than two years in ‘65 and ‘66, before returning to acting thirty-four years later to be in The Confession of Lee Harvey Oswald which is his final role. (Died 2015.)
Born September 14, 1944 — Rowena Morrill. Well-known for her genre illustration, she is one of the first female artists to impact paperback cover illustration. Her notable works include The Fantastic Art of Rowena, Imagine (French publication only), Imagination (German publication only), and The Art of Rowena. Though nominated for the Hugo four times, she never won, but garnered the British Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. OGH’s obituary for her is here. (Died 2021.)
Born September 14, 1947 — Sam Neill, 75. Best known for role of Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park which he reprised in Jurassic Park III. He was also in Omen III: The Final Conflict, Possession, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Snow White: A Tale of Terror, Bicentennial Man, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, Thor: Ragnarok and Peter Rabbit.
Born September 14, 1950 — Michael Reaves, 72. A scriptwriter and story editor to a number of Eighties and Nineties animated television series, including Batman: The Animated Series, Disney’s GargoylesHe-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Smurfs, Space Sentinels, Star Wars: Droids and The Transformers. Live action wise, he worked on Next Generation, Sliders, Swamp Thing, original Flash and Young Hercules. He also worked on two of my favorite animated Batman films, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman.
Born September 14, 1959 — Mary Crosby, 63. One major role that I’ll get to at the end, and she certainly is present in genre series. First in Freddy’s Nightmares, twice as Greta Moss, then in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman as Monique, in the Trek universe on Deep Space Nine as Natima Lang in the “Profit and Loss” episode, and the major role was on The Ice Pirates as Princess Karina.
Born September 14, 1961 — Justin Richards, 61. Clute at ESF says “Richards is fast and competent.” Well I can certain say he’s fast as he’s turned out thirty-five Doctor Who novels which Clute thinks are for the YA market between 1994 and 2016. And he has other series going as well! Another nineteen novels written, and then there’s the Doctor Who non-fiction which runs to over a half dozen works. He writes mainly Doctor Who novels with thirteen, so from the Eighth through the Thirteenth Doctor so far, and Creative Consultant for the BBC Books range of Doctor Who novels. He’s written novels with Professor Bernice Summerfield as the protagonist as well. And written more SF that aren’t Whovian than I possibly list here. One such series is, as EoSF notes is “the Invisible Detective sequence, beginning with The Paranormal Puppet Show (2003; vt Double Life2004), consists in each case of two stories: one set in the 1930s, where the four young protagonists solve sf and fantasy mysteries; the other set in the contemporary world, where a parallel tale is told.”
Born September 14, 1972 — Jenny T. Colgan, 50. Prolific writer of short stories in the Whovian universe with a baker’s dozen to date, several centered on River Song. She novelized “The Christmas Invasion”, the first full Tenth Doctor story. She has two genre novels, Resistance Is Futile and Spandex and the City. She contributed a story to the historical adventures inspired by Jodie Whittaker’s first series as The Doctor.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
The Far Side knows how a man’s ideas about driving can get out of hand.
Forget debating the airspeed velocity of an unladen African versus a European swallow. How many pigeons would it take to lift a person seated in a launch chair to the top of the Q1 skyscraper in Australia? Answer: You could probably manage this with a few tens of thousands of pigeons, as long as they don’t get spooked by a passing falcon or distracted by someone with a bag of seeds. That’s just one of many fascinating (and amusing) tidbits to be gleaned from What If? 2, the latest book from cartoonist and author Randall Munroe and the sequel to 2014’s bestselling What If?...
Ars Technica:Somehow people got into the habit of asking you these really weird, silly, sometimes impossible, implausible questions. And you started answering them. How exactly did that happen?
Randall Munroe: When I started drawing comics, I was surprised to learn there were so many people who were entertained by the same niche science ideas or funny applications of math to different problems—stuff I laughed at but I didn’t expect anyone else to. Then I put up these comics and found there are a whole bunch of people out there who think about stuff the way I do. That was really cool. But I definitely didn’t expect that people would start thinking of me as the person to settle arguments. I’d get these emails: “Hey, me and my friend have been arguing about this for a while now, and we don’t know how to answer the question. It feels like it’s not a good enough question to bother a real scientist with. But we both agreed you seemed like a great person to send it to.”
(13) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter clicked off his TV long enough to report that on tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! – “There was an entire category, ‘Cons,’ dealing with SF, gaming and media cons, but I didn’t note any of the mistakes, except one contestant wrongly answered with a mispronunciation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s name before correcting it, too late.”
In Star Trek: Lower Decks, the show’s upbeat Orion character — D’Vana Tendi — is often hit with in-universe prejudices informed by the earliest of Star Trek canon. (The green-skinned alien race appeared in the very first episode of Trek ever: the original pilot, “The Cage,” filmed way back in 1964.) In 2020, Noël Wells — the voice actress who helps bring Tendi’s character to animated life — admitted that some of these jokes went over her head. But not anymore. Now, she’s further into a performance that is bringing new life to one of Star Trek’s worst tropes: the seductive alien slave….
“We don’t always get to choose our mentors.”
Because Lower Decks is ostensibly focused on the activities of the lower-level crew members in Starfleet, it stands to reason that the careers of these underdogs can only go so far. And yet, this season is focused on Tendi training to become a legit science officer in the mold of Jadzia Dax or Spock. In Season 3 Episode 3, “Mining the Mind’s Mines,” Tendi is evaluated by the ship’s bird-like counselor, Dr. Migleemo (Paul F. Tompkins), about her ability to assert herself in big, high-stakes situations.
It’s the kind of personal growth storyline that pervades much of Star Trek, with echoes of TNG episodes like “Coming of Age,” and “Thine Own Self.” Eventually, Tendi draws strength not from Migleemo’s advice, but from her cankerous former boss, Dr. T’Ana (Gillian Vigman), who is literally a cranky cat….
Asking the internet to name a scientific mission has become something of a tradition, but we think even the bravest might quail at a recent ask on Twitter.
An unofficial Twitter account promoting future missions to our Solar System’s ice giants, Ice Giant Missions, requested suggestions for what to name a probe sent to Uranus.
Given the potential puns that are inevitably attached to Uranus, this is dangerous territory, even beyond the expected “Something McSomethingface”. That, of course, was among the top answers, but with ground as fertile as Uranus, why flog a dead horse?
Surprisingly, however, the buttjokes appear to be in the minority, with many respondents taking the question in good faith, and answering accordingly.
A mission to Uranus is not currently in development, but nor is it entirely a pipe dream. Missions have been sent, by now, to most planets in the Solar System. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn have all been visited and surveyed by dedicated probes. Even Jupiter’s moons are getting a mission.
The ice giants, on the other hand, have been somewhat neglected. Earlier this year, this led a panel of experts from the US National Academies to recommend a mission to Uranus in its decadal report to NASA.
Since 2006, a number of Doctor Who stories that are either entirely or partially missing from the archives have been recreated with new animated visuals being matched to the existing soundtracks. The work has been completed by a number of different teams, most recently Big Finish Creative….
Do you ever wonder where every great fairytale begins? Welcome to the School for Good and Evil…
(19) A LOT TO THINK ABOUT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Math-loving fans should know about this Netflix documentary “A Trip to Infinity”.
Eminent mathematicians, particle physicists and cosmologists dive into infinity and its mind-bending implications for the universe.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, Rich Lynch, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]
ITN’s Lynne Reid Banks spoke to various creatures at the 15th World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon. Held in London, that year’s meet was dubbed “Loncon”. It was the first Worldcon to bring the global sci-fi community together outside the US.
Rob Hansen identified the fans in the video:
0.00 Jean Bogert with gun at start. 0.05 Guy with glasses looks like Sandy Sandfield 0.06 Norman Shorrock over shoulder of guy in mask 0.12 Eric Jones interviewed 0.25 Ron Buckmaster interviewed 0.50 Frank & Belle Dietz interviewed in alien costumes. Round-faced teenager in the background is Mike Moorcock. 1.18 Guy with moustache, right rear is Ken McIntyre
Postscript: Rob Hansen: “David Pringle has pointed out that the most famous writer in that video clip is actually the interviewer, Lynne Reid Banks, and that she’s still with us.”
(2) EMERGENCY BACKUP SCROLL TITLE. I thought it was too long for the headline because long titles are one suspected reason why subscriber notifications don’t generate. However, I rather like Daniel Dern’s suggestion:
Seventy-Six Tron Clones Led The Masquerade, With 104 Lady Thors Close Behind, Followed By Rows And Rows Of Freshly-Polished 3CPO’s…
(3) CHICON 8 FINAL COVID REPORT. The Chicon 8 committee sent a wrapup email to attending members reporting a final total of 60 people who voluntarily reported they tested positive for Covid during or shortly after the Worldcon.
(4) CORA BUHLERT IN THE PAPER. “I did get at least one of the local newspapers to bite and report about my Hugo win,” says Cora. “The article isn’t online, but I included a photo of the article itself and the front page, which mentions me.” In German, of course.
You can also see it in the online electronic edition. She’s on page 5: Aktuelle Ausgabe.
Back at the dawn of the new millennium, an Oxford don argued, at book length, that fantasy was the most important literature of the 20th century and that the claim rested on the work of JRR Tolkien. Prof Tom Shippey was duly ridiculed by some for his heresy, with this paper describing it as “a belligerently waterwalkerargued piece of fan-magazine polemic”. Among those who Prof Shippey cited as influenced by “the master” was one Alan Garner, author of a series of beloved children’s fantasies.
How much more secure the professor’s claims look today. Garner, now 87, has just been shortlisted for the Booker prize for a novel called Treacle Walker, which, if more folky than fantastic, certainly displays its fantasy pedigree. Meanwhile, Tolkien delivered more than 25 million global viewers to Amazon Prime on the first day of its splashy new prequel to The Lord of the Rings.
…Fantasy suits the era of film and television because it is infinitely grandiose while sidestepping the need to grapple with the effect on plot of modern technology: Frodo can’t phone home. However, two decades have passed since Jackson’s films landed, so the enduring popularity of The Lord of the Rings isn’t simply tie-in fever.
From the off, Tolkien was caught in the crossfire between those who dismissed his work as escapism and others who saw in it a moral purpose forged on the killing fields of the Somme. It’s a pointless binary. “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory,” wrote the master himself. “If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”…
… Lovecraft and Tolkien both held the image of the traditional English rural gentry as a kind of ideal.
Yet Lovecraft was no hobbit. While Lovecraft had an antiquarian yearning for old buildings and a rose-tinted vision of British Colonial period, his fiction was mostly set in the current day and focused on themes of degeneration, hoary survivals from the past, ancient aliens, and cults rather than a celebration or exultation of the small joys in life. While Lovcraft regretted what he called the coming “Machine Culture,” he did not ignore or decry the advancement of technology and industrialization, or exalt a rural state that had fallen into decay. Dunwich is no Shire, for all the rural trappings; it is kind of an anti-Shire, a place where old ways and habits have turned inward and strange….
…Novalyne had been aware of Bob Howard through their mutual friends in Brownwood; she had dated Howard’s good friend Tevis Clyde Smith, and he had introduced the two in 1932. Like Robert E. Howard, she was interested in becoming a writer. Now that they were both in Cross Plains, the two renewed their acquaintance…and began what would be a tumultuous on-again, off-again romance. The two dated, argued, exchanged gifts, flirted, met each other’s families, went on long drives in the country, debated, criticized each other’s fiction, quarreled and made up and quarreled again…a story chronicled in her memoir One Who Walked Alone, later made into the motion picture The Whole Wide World….
(8) IT’S FINALLY LEAP YEAR AGAIN. The time has come – Quantum Leap premieres Monday, September 19 at 10/9c on NBC, streaming next day on Peacock. “Quantum Leap: Official Trailer”.
In your guest post on Scott Oden’s blog discussing New Edge as a mode or evolution of Sword & Sorcery fiction, you emphasize “inclusivity.” What does that mean in the context of the stories and writers you’re looking to publish?
OB: What inclusivity means to me is making sure that people outside my own demographic—white, cishet, neurotypical, able-bodied males, or just “white guys” as, for the sake of brevity, I’ll use going forward—can see themselves in both the stories and the authors creating them, ideally making them feel welcome within the community. This is key for expanding the audience of our beloved fantasy sub-genre, as well as its pool of authors.
I’ve gained firsthand experience with this in my six years volunteering with a group dedicated to promoting the western Hemisphere’s largest publicly accessible speculative fiction genre archive—The Merril Collection. Through no malice of anyone involved, in the time I’ve been with them, our group has been made up almost or entirely of white people. Our selling old paperbacks to help raise funds would often combine with 20th century publishing trends to create the scene of a couple of white people sitting behind event tables coated in covers featuring white characters written by white authors, trying to encourage the full breadth of humanity to spend a few dollars in support of the collection, while hearing our pitch for it.
All that sameness was a significant obstacle to achieving our goals, as more than one non-white individual made clear when—quite reasonably—saying “I only see white faces here.” or “I don’t see myself in what you are doing.”
Even coming back to myself, I don’t hate my fellow white guys any more than I hate IPAs, but I get frustrated when the vast majority of shelf space is filled with the same thing, whether it’s beer or writerly perspectives. All of this has informed the approach I’m taking with the stories and authors I’m looking to publish.
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1964 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Ok, I confess. I really, really loved the original Mary Poppins which came out fifty-eight years ago. No I didn’t see it until (I think) a decade or so later but I immediately loved it.
Mike Glyer notes that “She doesn’t only fly. At least in the 1964 movie she has a suitcase that must be related to the TARDIS, all the stuff she pulls out of it. And her boyfriend has the ‘luck’ superpower!”
It was directed by Robert Stevenson from the screenplay by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi as based off P. L. Travers’s Mary Poppins series. It was produced by Walt Disney and starred Julie Andrews in her first acting role. Principal other cast were Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson and Glynis Johns. The film was shot entirely at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, using painted London background scenes.
It won’t surprise you that the film received universal acclaim from film critics, and that Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke got lavish praise. Box office wise, it earned some forty-five million dollars on an estimated budget of four or so million dollars (Disney never released the budget officially, something they do quite often) and it’s had at least another hundred million in box office rentals since then. Not to mention DVD and such sales.
It was the only one of his films which earned Disney a Best Picture nomination during his lifetime.
In 2013, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.
A biographical drama on the making of the film, Saving Mr. Banks, was released nine years ago. It was well received with The Hollywood Reporter saying the film was an “affecting if somewhat soft-soaped comedy drama, elevated by excellent performances.”
But that’s not where this story ends. As Charles de Lint once said, “There are no happy endings… There are no endings, happy or otherwise. We all have our own stories which are just part of the one Story that binds both this world and Faerie. Sometimes we step into each others’ stories – perhaps just for a few minutes, perhaps for years – and then we step out of them again. But all the while, the Story just goes on.” And so it is with the Mary Poppins story.
Did I mention that P.L.Travers loathed this film with all her heart save Andrews as Poppins? Well she really did. Which complicated making a sequel. When Disney personally went to her a year later seeking rights to a sequel, she rejected it vehemently. Twenty years on did not at all mellow her, so she rejected them yet again save Andrews playing Poppins. And the use of the color red. Don’t ask.
With approval from Travers’ estate (see death helps clear rights as does offering presumably offering up the estate large sums of money), Disney greenlit the project with the film taking place twenty-five years after the first one was set and having a stand alone narrative that was based on the remaining seven books in the series.
That sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, was released four years ago. It was well received too. Dick Van Dyke, a cast member of the original film, appears in the film as Mr. Dawes Jr., a role originated by Arthur Malet in the previous film.
And Angela Lansbury is the Balloon Lady. The part was written as a cameo role for Julie Andrews who portrayed Mary Poppins in the original film, but she turned the role down as she felt her presence would unfairly take attention away from Emily Blunt who plays Mary Poppins here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 11, 1856 — Richard Ganthony. OK, this is going to a little bit explaining. Imagine that an author decided to riff off Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.With Martians. Seriously. A Message from Mars is a play primarily written by him, first performed at London’s Avenue Theatre in November 1899. The play is about Horace Parker, a Grinch-like man. Horace refuses go with Minnie, his fiancé, to a ball because he wants to stay home reading about new discoveries about the planet Mars. He falls asleep and dreams that he is visited by a Messenger from Mars. The Messenger trys to cure Horace of his selfishness. After a series of visions, the Messenger in the last Visio has him as a beggar in rags. Having realized the error of his ways, he awakens a changed man. It was filmed twice, both times as A Message from Mars (1913 and 1921, and I’m assuming as silent movies given their dates). It would be novelized by Lester Lurgan. (Died 1924)
Born September 11, 1929 — Björn Nyberg. A Swedish writer known largely for his Conan stories which given that he wrote just one non-Conan story makes sense. His first book in the series was The Return of Conan which was revised for publication by L. Sprague de Camp. Likewise, they later did Conan the Avenger, Conan the Victorious, Conan the Swordsman and Sagas of Conan. The latter two are available on iBooks and Kindle. (Died 2004.)
Born September 11, 1928 — Earl Holliman, 94. He’s in the cook in Forbidden Planet and he shares a scene with Robbie the Robot. A few short years later, he’s Conrad in Visit to a Small Planet though it’ll be nearly fifteen before his next genre role as Harry Donner in the Six Million Dollar Man’s Wine, Women and War TV film. He shows up as Frank Domino in the Night Man series, an adaptation of a Malibu Comics’ Ultraverse character. What the Frell is that publisher?!? Surprisingly he’s done no other genre series beyond being in the original Twilight Zone series premiere as Mick Ferris in the “Where Is Everybody?” episode.
Born September 11, 1930 — Jean-Claude Forest. Forest became famous when he created Barbarella, which was originally published in France in V Magazine in 1962. In 1967 it was adapted by Terry Southern and Roger Vadim and made into 1968 film of that name with Jane Fonda in the lead role, with him acting as design consultant. It was considered an adult comic by the standards of the time. An animated Barbarella series was booted around in the Sixties but never made. (Died 1998.)
Born September 11, 1941 — Kirby McCauley. Literary agent and editor, who as the former represented authors such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin and Roger Zelazny. And McCauley chaired the first World Fantasy Convention, an event he conceived with T. E. D. Klein and several others. As Editor, his works include Night Chills: Stories of Suspense,Frights, Frights 2, and Night Chills. (Died 2014.)
Born September 11, 1965 — Catriona (Cat) Sparks, 57. Winner of an astounding eighteen Ditmar Awards for writing, editing and artwork, her most recent in 2021 for her Dark Harvest story collection. She won two in the same year in 2014 when her short story “Scarp” was awarded a Ditmar for Best Short Story and The Bride Price a Ditmar for Best Collected Work. She has just one novel to date, Lotus Blue, but has an amazing amount of short stories which are quite stellar. Lotus Blue and The Bride Price are both available on the usual suspects.
Born September 11, 1970 — Colson Whitehead, 52. Winner of the Arthur Clarke C. Award for The Underground Railroad. Genre wise, he’s not a prolific writer, he’s written but two other such works, The Intuitionists and Zone One. He’s written but one piece of short genre fiction, “The Wooden Mallet”. However he’s written seven other works including John Henry Dayswhich is a really interesting look at that legend, mostly set at a contemporary festival about that legend.
The late 1960s and early ‘70s were peak sword-and-sorcery. The Lancer Conan Saga was at its zenith of popularity, eventually selling by some estimates upwards of 10 million copies. Fritz Leiber and Michael Moorcock were seeing broad mass market paperback publication, Leiber with Swords and Deviltry and Swords Against Death (Ace, 1970) and Moorcock with the likes of the first Corum trilogy (Berkley Medallion, 1971). And as the ‘60s gave way to the ‘70s a struggling magazine was about to get a signal boost from S&S’s mightiest hero.
As Ted White found out during his tenure as editor of the digest-sized Fantastic Science Fiction & Fantasy Stories/Fantastic Science-Fiction/Fantastic Stories of Imagination, best known as Fantastic, the public appetite for Conan ran deep, and was not slaked by the Lancers.…
Circulation remained flat, but White finally got the boost he was looking for when he began publishing stories of S&S’ mightiest hero: Conan, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, was about to tread the digest size pages of Fantastic under his sandalled feet, in the form of four new stories by Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp….
When the University of Michigan Library announced last month that one of its most prized possessions, a manuscript said to have been written by Galileo around 1610, was in fact a 20th-century fake, it brought renewed attention to the checkered, colorful career of the man named as the likely culprit: Tobia Nicotra, a notorious forger from Milan.
Nicotra hoodwinked the U.S. Library of Congress into buying a fake Mozart manuscript in 1928. He wrote an early biography of the conductor Arturo Toscanini that became better known for its fictions than its facts. He traveled under the name of another famous conductor who had recently died. And in 1934 he was convicted of forgery in Milan after the police were tipped off by Toscanini’s son Walter, who had bought a fake Mozart from him.
His explanation of what had motivated his many forgeries, which were said to number in the hundreds, was somewhat unusual, at least according to an account of his trial that appeared in The American Weekly, a Hearst publication, in early 1935.
“I did it,” the article quoted him as saying, “to support my seven loves.”
When the police raided Nicotra’s apartment in Milan, several news outlets reported, they found a virtual forgery factory, strewn with counterfeit documents that appeared to bear the signatures of Columbus, Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci, George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, Martin Luther, Warren G. Harding and other famous figures.
Investigators had also found a sort of shrine to his seven mistresses, at least according to The American Weekly. …
(15) POSTSCRIPT FOR PAT CADIGAN’S 9/10 BIRTHDAY. [Item by John Hertz.] When she was Toastmaster at MidAmericon II, I contributed this (acrostic, in 5-7-5-syllable lines) to the newsletter.
Passing all measure, Ardent, courageous, comic, Taking each moment
Unfortunately, fans of the fictional-turned-reality candy empire had been watching supplies dwindle over the decades, and the vast majority of Wonka candies have been discontinued as of 2022. In fact, the Wonka brand itself was eventually retired after being acquired by Nestlé in 1988, according to The Christian Science Monitor. The Wonka brand was sold off in 2018, and the remaining candies found a new home with Ferrero (via The Motley Fool).
Surprising, Wonka Candy isn’t entirely extinct.
… While many Wonka candies have completely vanished from store shelves, others can still be found if you know where and what to look for. Back in the days of the Willy Wonka Candy Company, Kazoozles offered a different flavor profile than the iconic chocolate bars. The Twizzler-like sweets had a tart fruity taste starting with the original cherry punch flavor, according to Snack History. In 2015 when the Wonka brand was acquired by Nestlé, Kazoozles was rebranded and re-released under the now-familiar SweeTARTS Ropes candy….
The fossilized skin of young mammal-like reptiles hints that drought led to their demise some 250 million years ago, at the start of the Triassic period1.
A few millennia before their deaths, climate change thought to be caused by volcanic eruptions led to the Permian extinction, the largest mass-extinction event in Earth’s history. Among the small number of animals to survive the cataclysm were reptiles in the genus Lystrosaurus.
While looking for clues to what the climate was like after the mass extinction, Roger Smith at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and his colleagues uncovered the remains of 170 four-limbed animals in South Africa’s Karoo Basin. Among the tangled remains, the researchers found young Lystrosaurus of two species that had died in clusters around what was once a dry riverbed.
Several of the younglings were in a spreadeagled position seen in some animals when they collapse from heat exhaustion. Two of the fossils also had what appeared to be mummified skin, which probably formed through rapid drying after death.
Together, this evidence points to a mass die-off of young Lystrosaurus owing to heat and water shortages, suggesting that the climate after the Permian extinction underwent periods of drought.
(18) DAN DARE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The BCC posted this clip in which Patrick Stenson interviews Dan Dare creator Frank Hampson in this clip from 1975.
(19) HE ISN’T SPOCK. (OKAY, HE LIED). [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Leonard Nimoy chats with the BBC’s Terry Wogan in January 1989 about his autobiography I Am Not Spock, how he became a director, and how in classic Star Trek he was so “emotional” “it was like doing Mutiny On The Bounty” in this clip which dropped yesterday.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Ersatz Culture, Cora Buhlert, Steven French, John Hertz, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day John A Arkansawyer.]