My partner Juli and I set out on a beautiful morning for Chicago. One of our favorite sights is the immense Meadow Lake Wind Farm (which generates 801.25 megawatts of electricity) consisting of 301 turbines, just northwest of Lafayette, Indiana. I have always been in awe of the size and scope of this modern marvel of engineering.
We arrived at dusk and were treated to the enchanting vista of Chicago at night by the river…
Since I was going to be dwelling in the hometown of the Blues Brothers, I thought it would be appropriate to be attired properly.
One of the first people Juli and I met at Chicon 8 was Galaxy’s Edge Editor and Arc Manor Assistant Publisher Robyn Lezli, who was a large display of books and magazines with her benevolent (and generous) boss, Shahid Mahmud.
On my way to the Press Office, Christopher Garcia threw a copy of Journey Planet (paperboy style) as we passed each other. Here is a photo of it in mid-flight…
One of the first things I unpacked for the Press Office was this item. When the staff assembled that first morning, I told them in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that if they stepped out of line, I would not hesitate to blow the Illuminated Death Star Beach Ball up! Needless to say, it remained deflated during the duration of the convention.
After several delays (and escapades) involving the United States Department of State and airline hijinks, Nigeria’s rising literary star (and double Hugo Finalist), Oghenechowe Donald Ekpeki finally arrived at Chicon 8. I greeted him at the Galaxy’s Edge table in the Dealer’s Room with two facemasks and an envelope with some valuable personal papers. Needless to say, everyone was overjoyed to see him…
Also on hand were my daughter, Laura, her husband Charlie (not pictured, unfortunately) and my granddaughter, Navia. They were here to witness my (possible) Hugo Award acceptance speech on Sunday. I may have felt the sting of disappointment by not winning but I was so incredibly happy they were all there.
Chicago By Day…
So here are my Press Office mates, Dan Berger, Juli Marr and Sooshe Blat Harkins, pondering where we should go for dinner along the Chicago Riverwalk. Rest assured, we did eat that evening…
Chicago After Dark…
Day Three of Chicon 3, another beautiful morning.
On my way to the Press office, I made some time Saturday morning to stop by the Exhibit Hall and check out this year’s Hugo Award trophy. This magnificent award was handcrafted by the renowned Chicago artist and business entrepreneur Brian Keith Ellison of BKE Designs.
Ah, FINALLY, a photo from a Chicon 8 panel. Here are the panelists of “Movie Year in Review: A Curated Look at Genre Films (2021–2022)” moderated by yours truly. From left to right are: Matthew S. Rotundo, Daryll Mansel, Joshua Bilmes and Deirdre Crimmins. We had fun. You should have been there.
I was checking up on how Mr. Ekpeki was getting along in the Dealer’s Room when up ZOOMED fellow Hugo Award Finalist Seanan Maguire on her scooter. They both knew of a photo opportunity when they saw it…
It’s Saturday Night so you know it’s time for another magnificent appearance by fandom’s favorite, and most regal, Masquerade Judge, John Hertz!
And here is a wide shot of all the Chicon 8 Masquerade contestants. I apologize for it being out of focus; I BLAME the three apparitions lighting up in the middle of the photo. I don’t recall who they are but let’s face it, they lit up the joint that evening.
It’s THE BIG DAY! And that calls for a BIG BREAKFAST, courtesy of the Chicon 8 Staff Lounge. I hadn’t had a bowl of Rice Chex in AGES. (As a kid, I used to inhale whole boxes in a single sitting. Ah, those were the days…). Anyway, kudos to everyone who helped kept us fed during the convention.
Juli and I are very sneaky. We knew in advance that Sunday was Lezli Robyn’s birthday so we planned something a little special for her. The day before we left, we packed and wrapped her gift specially for her. We have both known for years that Lezli is a bit, uh, accident prone. After the fifth or sixth incident we started threatening to just roll her in bubble wrap, for her own safety and protection. Well at Chicon 8, we decided on this preemptive strike before disaster struck again. As you can see, a nice birthday card was placed on top of the package. And you can see Lezli’s reaction as she realized that bubble wrap was all that was left in the box. All for her. We were later informed by sources that she used the bubble wrap as a pillow (in an appropriate place, mind you) when she needed to nap. You’re welcome, Lezli, anytime.
After delivering Ms. Robyn’s gift, I stole a few minutes from my Press Office duties to have a novel by Catherynne M. Valente signed. We met before when she had a signing at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati where I worked for many years. She remembered me and enthusiastically remarked that she had a great time and would love to return for a visit someday. I told her I would pass the word along.
As the day wore on, the more nervous I became. Since there wasn’t much going on that afternoon, I turned my attention to writing a Hugo Award acceptance speech and a concession speech (which was published on File 770 that very evening). Everyone wished me luck but deep down, I knew that I was long shot to actually win. (And, as it turned out, I was right, finishing second in the nomination count and fifth overall in the vote standings.)
At the Chicon 8 Hugo Award Reception, Mr. Ekpeki and I were recessed to the nines!
Your 2022 Hugo Award Finalists in the Fan Writing Category; from left to right, Jason Sanford, myself, Paul Weimer and Bitter Karella.
The Crowd gathers for the start of the Hugo Awards Ceremony.
My Date, My Love and My Partner, the lovely and vivacious Juli Marr.
My Fellow 2022 Hugo Award Finalist Steven H Silver and his partner, Elaine Silver.
My Fellow 2022 Hugo Award Finalist Chuck Serface.
Our 2022 Hugo Award Ceremony Hosts, Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders.
Two Hugo Losers commiserating, Olav Rokne and myself (being subtly photobombed by Vincent Docherty) at the Chengdu Hugo Reception.
My daughter Laura and I at the Glasgow Bid Party.
My daughter Laura is seen here holding the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form for Dune (Part 1). The award was offered for photos by Chicon 8 Advisor Dave McCarty, whom we thank profusely for the opportunity.
SEPTEMBER 5TH AND 6TH
And it’s all over but the shouting. Here John Hertz and I are watching the proceedings, counting down until the dead dog parties start…
After Closing Ceremonies, Juli and I met author Col.Jonathan P. Brazee and Hugo Award Finalist (Best Professional Artist) Maurizio Manzieri outside the hotel on their way to an early dinner.
As we wind down a day after Chicon 8 has officially ended, we shared a final meal with Dan Berger, Terry Berger and Sooshe Blat Harkins, who were a tremendous help in the Chicon 8 Press Office.
A final portrait from Chicago of your humble correspondents, myself and Juli Marr. Until next time, Goodbye and Good Luck…
(3) PAWS FOR GENRE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Over on a mailing list, a (so far) brief discussion of “grinning like a Cheshire cat” came up.
In the 150th anniversary version of The Annotated Alice, a page-and-a-half comment discussion on this starts on page 73. (Other CC-related annotations show up a few pages later.) (If you’ve got the original hardcover Annotated Alice, from 1960, like the one I won at summer camp either in 1962 or 1963, there’s a much shorter annotation comment on page 83.)
“The term grin like a Cheshire cat predates the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by at least seventy-five years, if not longer”
along with this suggestion/explanation for the idiom:
“Cheshire is a county in England that is known for its milk and cheese products, surely a reason for Cheshire cats to smile….The most intriguing story may be that at one time a cheese was manufactured in Cheshire county that was shaped like a cat. The cheese was eaten from tail to head, leaving the cat’s smile as the last part of the cheese to be consumed”
“the phrase crops up in English literature as early as 1788, where it appears an entry in a sort of slang dictionary of the time, Francis Grose’s A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.”
Playlist/Lagniappe: And here’s Sammy Davis Jr, who voiced The Cheshire Cat in the 1966 Hanna Barbara ABC-TV animated movie, singing “What’s A Nice Kid Like You Doing In A Place Like This?”
(4) PUBLISHER REBRANDS. Tom Doherty Associates has rebranded itself Tor Publishing Group, effective immediately. Tor president and publisher Devi Pillai said in the announcement, “Although the Tor name has always been associated with science fiction and fantasy, our list has included titles beyond that genre since our inception. With this name change and continued growth, the Tor name will now stand for quality in various types of genre publishing, with each imprint representing a distinct voice.” “Tom Doherty Associates Is Now Tor Publishing Group” at Tor.com.
(5) ALAMAT. [Item by Chris Garcia.] We here at Journey Planet have been working hard as we barrel towards Worldcon where many of us will be seeing one another for the first time since 2019-ish. Chris and James are joined by 2022 Hugo nominees Jean Martin and Chuck Serface for an issue looking at Filipino myth, legend, and folklore, alamat in Tagalog.
Jean provides an excellent introduction to the zine and her journey into myth and legend, and writers Pat M. Yulo, Karl Gaverza, Claire Mercado-Obias, Gerard Galo, Jimuel Villarosa Miraber, and James Bacon provide fine words on the subject.
Art from Franz Lim, Diana Padullo, Leandro Geniston, Clair Mercado-Obias, Alfred Ismael Galaroza, and Jimuel Villarosa Mirabar is also joined by a couple of pieces from the AI art-generator DALL*E 2, and graphic design elements from Chris’ 1960s airline menu collection!
(6) ATOMIC PILES. First Fandom Experience’s latest post in support of the “1946 Project” at Chicon 8 is “The Fan Cave, c1940s”. They’ve reproduced “narrative tours” of the dedicated fan spaces created by Bob Tucker, Harry Warner Jr., and Ron Holmes.
The “experience” component of “First Fandom Experience” conveys our desire to capture what it was like to be an early fan. To date we’ve dedicated the most space to fannish interactions — clubs, correspondence, conventions, conflicts. But fans spent most of their time at home. Those fortunate enough to have even a semi-permanent residence literally papered their walls with the accumulated evidence of their devotion to science fiction….
Welcome to the first, free-to-read Sunday Morning Transport story for August: science fiction from Michael Swanwick. Concise and epic, “The Warm Equations,” explores a different side of the choices we may make in space. ~ Fran Wilde, August 7, 2022.
(8) PRINCE AND REPRINTS. Jason Sanford has written a follow-up Twitter thread about the SF Insiders post commenting on Best Editor Short Form finalist Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (who they ranked last) and the merits of reprint anthology work. The thread starts here.
Jeff VanderMeer also drew on his experience in a comment to Sanford:
“The Orville” honored Norm Macdonald in a tribute video posted Friday showcasing the late comedian and actor’s moments on the show as lovable Gelatin Lieutenant Yaphit….
(10) OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN (1948-2022). Actress and singer Olivia Newton-John died August 8 at the age of 73. Her husband made the announcement on Facebook. Her genre credits include the movies Xanadu and Sharknado 5: Global Swarming.
(11) MEMORY LANE.
2009 – [By Cat Eldridge.]Ravens in the Library: Magic in the Bard’s Name (2009)
I get a lot of personally signed books and Ravens in The Library showed up in the post some thirteen years ago with a note asking if Green Man would review it. I already knew of SJ Tucker, a singer-songwriter who does a lot of filk, sort of filk and of course straight singer-songwriter material. You can hear her doing Catherynne Valente’s “A Girl in The Garden” here, riffing The Orphan’s Garden as she gave it to Green Man.
She also writes children’s books and we reviewed one here, Rabbit’s Song, she wrote with Trudy Herring.
Sadly she got a severe illness starting in 2008 caused her to have a very long hospital stay and related surgery, and left her to recover under the weight of massive medical bills. As you well know, independent musicians don’t have deep pockets, so her friends launched a number of projects to generate the needed monies.
So what did they do? Well the most successful project is sitting on my desk, The Ravens in the Library anthology. Three hundred and seventy pages of ballads, poems, songs and stories amply illustrated by far too many stellar artists too note here. The great cover which you can see below is James A. Owen
The writers here are, well, let’s just say I was gobsmacked. Charles de Lint, and Terri Winding, and Neil Gaiman. Ari Berk usually known for his illustrations does a story too, as does Catherynne Valente, Holly Black, and, of course, S.J. Tucker contribute excellent work too. It would be wrong to overlook the work by writers that I’ve never heard of, most likely from the fan community, who are just as great.
So how successful was it? This anthology in less than a week paid off all of her considerable medical bills. Very impressive!
I’d be remiss not to mention the excellent editing work of Phil Brucato and Sandra Buskirk.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 8, 1905 — Reginald Lal Singh. Indian-born actor. He portrayed Captain Chandra in Star Trek’s “Court Martial”. He can also be seen by use of archival footage from The Day the Earth Stood Still in the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ “Strange New Worlds” episode. He was a military officer in the fifties War of the Worlds. (Died 1970.)
Born August 8, 1919 — Dino De Laurentiis. Responsible for the first Dune obviously (it’s odd to have to state that it’s the first Dune, for decades there was only one) but less obviously also a lot of other genre including two Conan films, Flash Gordon, King Kong, Halloween II and Halloween III, Dead Zone and The Last Legion. His company even made Army of Darkness! (Died 2010.)
Born August 8, 1920 — Jack Speer. He is without doubt one of the founders of fandom and perhaps the first true fan historian having written Up to Now: A History of Science Fiction Fandom covering up to 1939 as well as the first Fancyclopedia in 1944. Filking and costume parties are also widely credited to him as well. Mike has a proper remembrance here. (Died 2008.)
Born August 8, 1930 — Terry Nation. Best known as scriptwriter for Doctor Who and creator of the Daleks. He later created Blake’s 7. He would also write scripts for Department S, The Avengers,The Champions and MacGyver. He both Davros and the Daleks on Who. He died from emphysema in Los Angeles aged 66, as he working with actor Paul Darrow who played Kerr Avon on Blake’s 7 in an attempt to revive that series. (Died 1997.)
Born August 8, 1935 — Donald P. Bellisario, 87. His genre shows include Tales of the Gold Monkey, Airwolf, Magnum P.I. (according to some of you) and of course that truly amazing show Quantum Leap. He was a writer and producer on the original Battlestar Galactica.
Born August 8, 1937 — Dustin Hoffman, 85. Ahhh Captian Hook, the man who got figuratively swallowed by the vast crocodile in Hook. Yeah I like that film a lot. But then I like the novel very much, too. By no means his only genre appearance as he was Mumbles, Caprice’s fast-talking henchman in Dick Tracy (a film I actually find rather odd), Mr. Edward Magorium in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and the voice of Master Shifu in Kung Fu Panda.
Born August 8, 1961 — Timothy P. Szczesuil, 61. Boston-based con-running fan who chaired Boskone 33 and Boskone 53. He’s also edited or co-edited several books for NESFA, Strange Days: Fabulous Journeys with Gardner Dozois and His Share of Glory: The Complete Short Science Fiction of C. M. Kornbluth.
Born August 8, 1987 — Katie Leung, 35. She played Cho Chang, the first love interest for Harry in the Potter film series. Her only other genre appearance to date is as Dou Ti in Snow in Midsummer at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. Dou E Yuan, often also translated as The Injustice to Dou E, is a Chinese play written by Guan Hanqing (c. 1241–1320) during the Yuan dynasty with serious bloody magic realism in it. End of your history lesson.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Breaking Cat Newsran a series where the cats play an RPG. The first post is on June 20 and it runs through July 9.
…Now, Rolling Stone Australia reports that another DC superhero movie is dead, this time, it is Supergirl who will fly no more.
…insiders at Warner Bros. have also said the currently in-development Supergirl film is next to be canceled. The film was planned as a spin-off from the upcoming The Flash, starring Ezra Miller. Supergirl is set to be introduced in The Flash when it is released in 2023, with actress Sasha Calle portraying the blue-suited heroine.
It should come as no surprise that Supergirl is the next DC superhero project to be retired by the newly cutthroat Warner Bros. Discovery regime and it is likely that it has nothing to do with Batgirl. So far, The Flash has constantly been suffering bad press thanks to its lead actor Ezra Miller. Miller has been embroiled in several criminal charges and allegations over the past year and Warner Bros. has already stated the actor no longer has a future in the DC franchise beyond The Flash. With Miller out of the picture, it is safe to assume any spin-offs related to their lead role will follow suit. It’s worth mentioning that Michael Keaton’s return as Batman in The Flash was also set to be complemented by his appearance as the iconic character in Batgirl….
First, to the many nervous fans of The Sandman among you:
Relax. They nailed it.
Yeah, it took forever, and a slew of assorted aborted attempts, but the Netflix adaptation of the landmark comic book series just … works.
It succeeds as a faithful presentation of the look, feel and story of the Lord of Dreams as presented in the comics, which was written by Neil Gaiman, with art by Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg and many other pencilers and inkers over the years.
Far more importantly, however, it succeeds as a work of adaptation.
Where recent audiobook versions strictly adhered to every infinitesimal detail of the 1989-1995 comic run (and as a result ended up feeling both dated and overwritten), the Netflix series’ grip on the source text is gratifyingly looser. It breathes.
Changes, big and small, have been made to characters and storylines that streamline, update and focus the narrative, now honed to fit the specific propulsive demands of serialized television….
…Those elements started with the Bridge, which already made its debut during the second season of “Star Trek: Discovery.” But now that Pike’s Enterprise was getting its own show — one that will hopefully (and boldly) go the distance with a five-year mission — that called for significant revisions to the nerve center of the Enterprise.
“We’ve taken the set that we’ve inherited, but we did a great deal of work,” Lee said. “[Executive Producer] Akiva Goldsman briefed me to bring it back to ‘The Original Series.’ We had to move things around a little bit. We moved the captain’s chair around so that Captain Pike could throw a look to helm and navigations really easily, and that would work with the camera.” And since the viewscreen that was seen in “Discovery” was depicted using visual effects, a physical representation of the viewscreen was designed and added to the Bridge set for “Strange New Worlds.”
Lee also changed the color language from the “Discovery” version of the Enterprise. “It was quite cool with blues and greens and cool yellows. I said, the Bridge must feel warmer, particularly the motion graphics on all the monitors. When you see the before and after, it’s pretty dramatically different, but it’s much more intimate, and it feels more like our show.”
Growing up in Fairhope, Alabama, in the mid-20th century, Gregory Benford engaged in more than his share of character-building employment. In sun-parched farm fields, he chopped sugar cane and bagged potatoes. On shrimping and fishing boats operating out of Mobile Bay, he hauled in nets laden with the ocean’s produce.
Those years of toil on the land and water planted a seed in Benford’s young brain that would, decades later, sprout into CROPS, a nascent commercial enterprise he co-founded that may prove to be one of the most practicable and effective approaches to solving climate change ever devised.
Crops Residue Oceanic Permanent Sequestration is a method of atmospheric carbon dioxide removal that’s simple, straightforward and globally scalable. It relies on the seasonally regulated natural processes of our planet combined with readily available farm labor and unremarkable, centuries-old equipment such as baling wire, trucks and barges. Essentially, CROPS involves bundling agricultural waste into half-ton cubes and transporting them out to the deep sea, where gravity will take them to the ocean floor. Here, the carbon that was once in the air will sit unperturbed for millennia…
…Jane Rigby patiently walked me through what the Webb can and can’t do. One thing I learned: Even a million miles from Earth, with that sun shield providing the equivalent of SPF 1 million, the Webb isn’t in total darkness. The heavens glow in the infrared part of the spectrum because of sunlight bouncing off dust.
“It’s our stupid solar system,” Rigby said. “It’s the zodiacal cloud. It’s the light from our own solar system. We’re stuck in our solar system, and we can’t get out of it.”
The Webb probably won’t be able to see the very first stars, she said, “unless they’re kind enough to blow up for us.” But already, the Webb has detected a galaxy that emitted its light just 300 million years after the big bang — easily a record. The instruments on the telescope can do spectroscopy on that light to see what elements are present….
(19) STATE OF THE ART! ATARI 800. Paul Daniels discuses how he programmed an Atari 800 to create a computer game in this 1983 clip from the BBC that dropped today.
“The massive problem with all of this is that it’s not written for ordinary people, and it’s a shame. The magazines and the manuals are completely non-understandable, it’s gobbledygook.” – Paul Daniels Micro Live takes a trip to Blackpool, where magician, presenter and self-taught computer programmer Paul Daniels is hard at work coding his first computer game – Paul Daniels’ Magic Adventure – on the Atari 800. Will you like it? Daniels feels that the unnatural language surrounding computers and their associated literature is a huge barrier to entry for many potential users.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Emory Allen asks, “What if you could change your head as easily as you change your clothes? “Detached”.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Soon Lee, Cath Jackel, Arnie Fenner, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]
… Why does “Dune” matter far more to readers than a thousand other space operas? Partly it’s the richness of the world-building, with its borrowing from many cultures and its stunning ecological prescience. Many science fiction tales are basically Westerns in space; “Dune” draws deeply on Islamic and Ayurvedic tradition instead.
But it’s also the unexpected subtlety: in Herbert’s universe the greatest power comes not from weapons or mystical talents but from self-knowledge and self-control. The gom jabbar tests whether one can override pain and fear; Paul’s ability to do so sets him on his heroic path….
The book came out in 1950, and The Martian Chronicles immediately became a mini sensation that same year, thanks to the radio drama series Dimension X, which dramatised several stories from the book. Ray knew that there was dramatic potential in his Martian tales, and the late 1950s saw him – by now an established screenwriter, thanks to Moby Dick and It Came From Outer Space – drawing up plans for a TV series to be called Report From Space.
Alas, the series didn’t make it to air, and his attempts to develop The Martian Chronicles further for the big screen also came to nothing. But the scripts are pretty good, and allow us to play a game of what if:
What if Ray Bradbury’s TV series came on air the same year as The Twilight Zone or Men Into Space?
What if the producer-director/actor team from 1962’s To Kill A Mockingbird had succeeded in making The Martian Chronicles before 2001: A Space Odyssey (or Star Trek) had come along?
To find out more… listen to the episode…!
(3) FUTURE TANK. Christopher J. Garcia, Alissa McKersie, and Chuck Serface have decided upon the following deadlines and subjects for upcoming issues of The Drink Tank:
January 20, 2022: Orphan Black
February 15, 2022: The Beatles
March 10, 2022: Pre-1950 Crime Fiction
They invite submissions of articles, fiction, poetry, photography, artwork, personal reminiscences . . . you get the idea, as long as it’s related to the above subjects. Send your submissions to [email protected] or [email protected].
But I’m not talking about the movie’s component parts; I’m talking about how the movie felt. And the feeling of watching The Matrix in 1999 was almost overwhelming. In the minds of Lana and Lilly Wachowski, all of these elements blended and fit together seamlessly. And the movie’s masterstroke was setting its story in a world that felt very like the actual world in 1999, rather than an overtly fictional setting (as was the case with Dark City). The film captured a growing sense that nothing was real and everything was manipulated on some level, a sense that has only grown in the 22 years since the movie came out.
The Matrix has a complicated legacy. It’s probably the most influential American movie since Star Wars came out in 1977 (and it is now almost exactly as old as Star Wars was when The Matrix came out), and it’s by far the most popular piece of art created by trans people. But its sequels were divisive, and its ideas about questioning reality have influenced political reactionaries in dangerous ways. Now, with a fourth film in the series coming out on December 22, it’s time to go back … back to the Matrix, across five eras of the franchise’s history….
The future is here. It’s bright. And it’s terrifying. That’s what these authors seem to think, anyway. As we’ve sleepwalked through the second year of the pandemic, lucid dreaming our way through endless possibilities in the midst of endless isolation, these authors have sought to capture the highs and lows, perils and opportunities, of a changing world. Get ready for clones, underwater high-rises, alternate histories, eco-terrorists, and of course, murders in space, all speaking to the inherent instability of identity and morality in the fraught future and rapidly disintegrating present….
(6) DEEP SPACE LINE. NASA is considering an Interstellar Probe that would go perhaps 10 times farther into space than the two Voyager spacecraft have. A 498-page document discussing the related issues can be downloaded here.
Traveling far beyond the Sun’s sphere of influence, Interstellar Probe would be the boldest move in space exploration to date. This pragmatic near-term mission concept would enable groundbreaking science using technology that is near-launch-ready now. Flying the farthest and the fastest, it would venture into the space between us and neighboring stars, discovering uncharted territory. It would provide the first real vantage point of our life-bearing system from the outside, allowing us to better understand our own evolution. In an epic 50-plus-year journey, Interstellar Probe will explore questions about our place in the universe, enabled by multiple generations of engineers, scientists, and visionaries
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1960 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Sixty-one years ago, Twilight Zone’s “The Night of the Meek” first aired. This was a Christmas-themed story with Art Carney as a Santa Claus fired on Christmas Eve who finds a mysterious bag that gives an apparently unlimited stream of gifts. The script would be used over in the Eighties version of this series and on the radio program as well. Serling ended the original broadcast with the words,” And a Merry Christmas, to each and all,” but that phrase was deleted in the Eighties and would not be back until Netflix started streaming the series.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 23, 1945 — Raymond E. Feist, 76. Best known for the Riftwar series. The only novel I’ve read by him is was Faerie Tale, a dark fantasy set in the state of New York, which is one damn scary work.
Born December 23, 1927 — Chuck Harris. A major British fan, active in fandom from the Fifities until his passing. He ran the infamous money laundering organization Tentacles Across the Sea with Dean Grennell and was a well-loved British member of Irish Fandom. He was involved in myriad Apas and fanzines. As co-editor of Hyphen he was nominated multiple times for the Best Fanzine Hugo in the Fifties but never won. (Died 1999.)
Born December 23, 1949 — Judy Ann Strangis, 72. She’s one of the leads, Judy / Dyna Girl, on a Seventies show I never heard of, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, which was a Sid and Marty Krofft (H.R. Pufnstuf) live action SF children’s television series from 1976. She had one-offs on Twilight Zone and Bewitched and, and appeared twice on Batman courtesy of her brother who was a production manager there. She’s also done voice work in The Real Ghostbusters and Batman: The Animated Series.
Born December 23, 1958 — Joan Severance, 63. She’s on the Birthday list because she was Darcy Walker, the Black Scorpion in Roger Corman’s Black Scorpion. She then starred in and co-produced Black Scorpion II: Aftershock and The Last Seduction II.
Born December 23, 1971 — Corey Haim. You’ll most likely remember him from the Lost Boys but he had a long career in genre film after that with roles in Watchers, Prayer of the Roller Boys, Fever Lake, Lost Boys: The Tribe (no, I’ve never heard of it) and Do Not Disturb. He showed in two series, PSI Factor and Merlin. (Died 2010.)
Born December 23, 1919 — Peggy Fortnum. She’s an English illustrator beloved for illustrating Michael Bond‘s Paddington Bear series. She first illustrated him in A Bear Called Paddington. One of Fortnum’s Paddington illustrations is part of a series of stamps that was issued by the Royal Mail in 2006 celebrating animals from children’s literature. (Died 2016.)
…As a child growing up in Washington state, Kayleigha says, her dad showed her classic episodes of the Star Trek TV series on videotape. “I wanted a pet Tribble,” she says. But she didn’t just want a simple stuffed toy — she wanted it to be able to purr when it was happy or shriek when it encountered a Klingon. As an adult, “I finally decided to make one,” she says. “I taught myself to do the C++ coding, and Jay learned how to solder.” They built a prototype in their living room, envisioning it as a smart toy that could be put into different modes with an app. One example: “watchdog” mode, so you can put the Tribble on top of a laptop or another item and it screams if someone tries to move it….
(10) GATISS NEWS. In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Adam Scovell interviews Mark Gatiss about his adaptation of M.R. James’s “The Mezzotint,” starring Rory Kinnear, which will be broadcast on BBC2 at 10.30 PM on Christmas Eve,.
For Gatiss, ghost stories are an essential part of the TV schedule. “There should be one every year,’ he says. ‘I’m very happy if it’s me (making them) but it doesn’t have to be. I just want them to be on and can’t bear it when they’re not.
Having adapted The Tractate Middoth in 2013, starring Sacha Dhawan, and Martin’s Close in 2019, starring Peter Capaldi, he believes James’s stories are ideally suited to TV. ‘They were written to be read so they’re already semi-dramatised,’ Gatiss says. ‘They’re pithy and don’t outstay their welcome. I just want them to be on and can’t bear it when they’re not.’
John Coxon is sleepy, Alison Scott is talking to Chinese fans, and Liz Batty went to the Hugos. We discuss site selection at DisCon III before discussing Chengdu in 2023’s victory and then move onto The Hugo Awards before plugging some books we like. Listen here!
It is a frosty morning and I am standing in the kitchen in bare feet, holding the door open for the cat. The cat dips its head low, studying the world across the threshold.
“Faster, pussycat,” I say. The cat sniffs at the cold air swirling in from the garden, but does not move. I begin to close the door very slowly, in a bid to create a shrinking decision window. In the space of two months the kitten has grown into a tall-eared, spooky-looking thing that I sometimes find standing on my chest staring down at me in the dead of night, its nose a millimetre from mine. It doesn’t fear the dog or the tortoise, but it’s still pretty wary of outside….
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Hailee Steinfeld learns on Comedy Central that despite her Oscar nomination for True Grit, it’s hard work to be part of the MCU!
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael J. Walsh, Chuck Serface, Daniel Dern, John Coxon,SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Would you say that your writing style continues to evolve?
When I was young, I thought that after a few years, I would learn all the tricks of the trade, after which writing novels would be easy. Instead, it gets harder—and more exciting—because there are infinite approaches and techniques to explore. In the past, I’ve had some publishers express bafflement as to why I had to change direction. However, repetition of past work is not art; it’s imitation and not in the least satisfying. You have to do new things and risk failure. My experience is that readers expect that and will reward it.
There’s a certain comfort for readers in returning to a world they already know. Is it ever a struggle to maintain your own investment in a particular story or with particular characters?
I don’t think I could ever write as many words about any other character as I wrote about Odd Thomas. I loved him. I knew he was on a journey to absolute humility—which would really test my powers of imagination—and he won my heart with every page. Five novels was right for Jane Hawk, and two seasons for Nameless. Readers who want more of any one thing need to be won over by a new world and new characters that they like as well or better. Otherwise, both they and the author are standing still emotionally and intellectually.
(2) CALL FOR FANWRITING. For the next issue of The Drink Tank, Christopher J. Garcia, Alissa McKersie, and Chuck Serface want articles, artwork, and anything printable dedicated to Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. Chuck Serface says: “The novels, the PBS shows, the recent Netflix series — it’s all good. Our due date is July 10, 2021, and we’ll have the issue out shortly thereafter.” Send your offerings to Chuck at [email protected] or to Christopher at [email protected].
There never was a Hobbit Hole quite like Bag End in all of Hobbiton a place that oftsaw the comings and goings of many of the Little Folk and Big Folk the bastards they are as time has onwardflown and kings and queens of the other lands of Middle Earth have died and been barrowburied since the dawn of Man upon these soils but even so there have been no bigger bastards to tromp up to Bilbo’s door (for I am the current resident of Bag End) than the Sackville Bagginses…
Premee Mohamed didn’t intend to publish multiple books about the end of the world during a global pandemic — it just worked out that way.
Her debut novel, Beneath the Rising, has garnered major attention since its release in March of 2020. The book’s popularity led to a sequel, A Broken Darkness, released in March of this year, and The Void Ascendant, the trilogy’s final installment, was just announced for March 2022.
…Many have learned a hard lesson about what it means to be an Amazon customer. Even when you’re paying lots of money, you are a guinea pig at the whims of a company endlessly striving to innovate. At any moment, the company could surprise you with an unwelcome change to an Amazon product you own or decide to kill it altogether.
Last week, many people who own Amazon devices were automatically enrolled in Sidewalk, a new internet-sharing program that drew intense scrutiny. Basically, the program lets owners of newer Amazon products share their internet connections with others nearby. If a neighbor’s Ring camera has a spotty internet connection and yours has a strong one, you can share your bandwidth with your neighbor.
That all sounds nice if everything works as expected, but security experts have raised concerns that device makers could have inappropriate access to people’s data. They advised that people opt out of the program to avoid becoming part of Amazon’s experiment because there are still many unknowns….
Lorelei Marcus is graduating today. As school Valedictorian. And with department math honors.
I know, I know. “Of course she is.” But actually, we couldn’t be prouder of her super hard work that has made her accomplishment a seeming inevitability. Her perseverance, her willingness to help others, her dealing with disabilities that make computer-use difficult to impossible, have all just been stellar.
The other piece of news regards Journey Press, the publishing house the Marcus Family and Co. run. Yes, we managed to make it through 2020. In fact, we kind of flourished. In March 2020, we were in about 200 stores. Now we’re in 600 — in five countries and every state of the Union.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a tourist hotspot in Los Angeles — a stretch of sidewalk that passes other iconic L.A. locations like the Chinese Theater, the El Capitan, Pantages, and a Toyota dealership.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce decides who among the many applicants receive a star each year, and for 2022, there’s an impressive roster of genre actors who made the cut. The most notable star, however, goes to Carrie Fisher….
Fisher won’t be the only Star Wars actor getting a spot on the sidewalk next year. The Mandalorian’s Ming-Na Wen will also get a star, along with young Obi-wan himself, Ewan McGregor.
Continuing on the comic book front, two other notables receiving stars are The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus and Greg Berlanti, creator of The CW’s Arrowverse.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 18, 1983 — Thirty-eight years ago today, Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, paving the way for sixty-four other female astronauts to do the same. While in orbit, Dr. Ride launched two commercial satellites, directed the use of robotic technology, and served as her ship’s mission specialist; as of 2022, she will be one of the few women featured on US coinage.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 18, 1917 — Richard Boone. He did only two genre roles of which one, playing Maston Thrust Jr. in The Last Dinosaur, I’m willing to bet you’ve never seen. The other however is one that nearly everyone here has heard, yes heard, as he voiced Smaug in the Rankin/Bass animated The Hobbit. Of course, his major non-genre role was Paladin in Have Gun, Will Travel.
Born June 18, 1931 — Dick Spelman. A fan and a legendary book dealer who was active at SF conventions from the late Seventies through the early Nineties. He chaired Windycon IX in 1982. He was a member of the board of directors of Chicon IV, and ran the Dealers’ Room at many Worldcons. In 1991 he sold his book business to Larry Smith and retired to Orlando, where he was active in local fannish affairs. (Died 2012.)
Born June 18, 1942 — Roger Ebert. He got his start as a fanzine writer while in high school, publishing the Stymie zine and having his writing appear in Xero, Yandro and many other zines such as Kipple, Parsection and Psi-Phi. In university, he was a member of the Champaign-Urbana Science Fiction Association. His fannish autobiography is How Propellor-Heads, BNFs, Sercon Geeks, Newbies, Recovering GAFIAtors and Kids in Basements Invented the World Wide Web, All Except for the Delivery System. Mike has much to say about him here. (Died 2013.)
Born June 18, 1943 — Paul McCartney, 78. I could include him for the Magical Mystery Tour which might be genre. He actually has a cameo in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales as a character named Uncle Jack in a cell playing poker singing “Maggie May”. A shortened version of the song is on the Let It Be album.
Born June 18, 1947 — Linda Thorson, 74. Though Diana Rigg as Emma Peel was John Steed’s best known partner on The Avengers, she was not his first nor his last. His last one would be Tara King played by this actress. She was the only one to be a real spy. Interesting that other than an appearance on Tales from The Darkside, her only other genre performance was on The Next Gen as Gul Ocett in “The Chase” episode.
Born June 18, 1949 — Chris Van Allsburg, 72. For some twenty years now until the Pandemic came upon us, the local Narrow Gauge Railroad ran a Polar Express every Christmas season compete with cars decorated in high Victorian fashion and steaming cups of hot chocolate for the children. It always sold out for the entire month they ran it. Allsburg‘s Polar Express book is just magical for me and I enjoy his Jumanji every bit as much. (I’ve never seen the film.) He illustrated A City in Winter which was written by Mark Helprin and I highly recommended it.
Born June 18, 1958 — Jody Lee, 63. Illustrator with a long career in genre work. Her first cover art was Jo Clayton’s Changer’s Moonfor DAW Books in 1985. Her latest is Passages: All-New Tales of Valdemar, a Mercedes Lackey anthology, that came last year on DAW Books which seems to be her primary client. Her rather excellent website is here.
Born June 18, 1960 — Barbara Broccoli, 61. Daughter of the late James Bond producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli. She has producer or director credit on at least fourteen Bond films which or may not be genre depending on how you view each one of them. Her only acting role is as an uncredited Opera patron in The Living Daylights. She produced the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang production staged in NYC at the Hilton Theater sixteen years ago.
Luca doesn’t look or sound like any film Pixar has made before. It has a charm all its own and captures our imagination from the moment it begins. It’s the living definition of an immersive experience (pun intended). Who else would dare ask us to care about strange-looking sea monsters, and then repeatedly surprise us while spinning its coming-of-age tale?
The story begins underwater, where we meet an adolescent boy named Luca and his family. These fish have no idea that people regard them as sea monsters. Curiosity impels Luca to disobey his protective parents and see what life is like above the surface of the ocean. Director Enrico Casarosa and his team draw us into their lively story as Luca ventures onto dry land, where he is magically transformed into a human being…
While the Snyder Cut had to wait four years to finally be realized, it took 25 years for Superman II: The Donner Cut to get the same treatment. In doing so, the Donner Cut was arguably the “OG” Snyder Cut; a trial run that — for better or worse — set a precedent for fan-led campaigns that set the stage of an (at best) aggressive breed of fandom to help Snyder’s take on Superman and the rest of the Justice League defy the Anti-Life equation that is Development Hell. In honor of Superman II’s 40th anniversary this week, here’s a look at how that film’s troubled production and pop-culture legacy paved the way for another Man of Steel to find a second chance.
In the second episode of Sciencing Out, host Reyhaneh Maktoufi introduces us to 18th century Englishwoman Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and modern-day wildlife conservationist Paula Kahumbu. By dedicating time to build public trust, both Montagu and Kahumbu made major positive changes in their communities.
In 1716, when smallpox was still ravaging the world, Montagu moved to Constantinople, where she noticed that smallpox was less widespread than in England. She discovered that Constantinoplans held “smallpox parties” where, in a process called “inoculation,” a person would place a dried smallpox scab from a patient with a mild case into the open wound of a healthy person. Montagu grew to trust the process enough that she had her own child inoculated.
Montagu returned to England and tried to advocate for inoculation, but struggled to gain trust. So she went to her friend Caroline, the Princess of Wales, and implored her to inoculate her own child against smallpox and inform the public of the result. Caroline agreed. Seeing royalty successfully inoculate their children against smallpox helped build the public’s trust in the practice, ultimately resulting in significantly fewer disease-related mortalities and setting the stage for modern-day vaccination….
…Snore introduces us to a businesswoman named Karen who’s fallen on hard times—currently, she’s got nothing left except a stack of schemes for her comeback, and her personal assistant/sorta-boyfriend Callum. Together, they check into a fleabag motel for the night while she plots her next move, but there’s something already in their room that causes quite a ruckus….
The YouTube blurb says it all comes down to this question:
Who will survive and, most importantly, what will be left of Callum’s designer manbag?
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This video from AT&T Corporate Television from 1979 shows the exciting future where everyone can have an electronic Yellow Pages in their home that gives access to business listings AND Dr. Joyce Brothers!
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chuck Serface, Olav Rokne, Lise Andreasen, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
285 people have submitted The Hugo Awards nominations. Are you one of them? You do not have to submit your nominations in one go, start submitting now and come back later to add more up until the deadline of March 19, 11:59pm Pacific Time.
I hereby pledge that when I am a senior citizen, I will not be afraid of, resist, or complain about technology or cling to old-timey ways. I will learn how to use quantum conferencing suppositories and listen to electro-shamisen sea chanteys or whatever young people are doing. I will be part of Today tomorrow. Will join me in this pledge, pre-seniors?
“Percy,” the life-hunting Mars Perseverance rover, is scheduled to set down inside the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater. The rover launched on June 30, 2020.
What does it feel like to be a scientist embedded in the engineering team of a spacecraft? And to have Ray Bradbury speak at your commencement? Listen as NASA’s Dr.Sarah Milkovich, Ph.D. planetary geology, tells RBEM’s Dom Loise.
(4) JOURNEY PLANET. In the 57th issue of Journey Planet, James Bacon, Chris Garcia, and Chuck Serface handle the editing duties and the theme is King Arthur, a topic Chris has wanted to tackle since they started the zine back in 2008! Download here: Journey Planet 57: Arthur, King of the Britons.
Spanning multiple arenas of the Arthurian legend, there’s a massive 92 pages of material including looks at literature, theatre, comics, film, and even Vegas, baby!!! Bob Hole, Julian West, Steven H Silver, and the good Cardinal Cox handle the history, and Chris interviews Arthurian scholar and editor of Arthuriana Dorsey Armstrong. Laura Frankos gives us a marvelous view of the ‘legendary’ musical Camelot, while Neil Rest, Tony Keen, and Chris handle the world of film. There’s great comics coverage from Derek McCaw, Helena Nash, and Chuck, and a great fiction reprint from the exceptional Ken Scholes. All this wrapped in a cover by Vanessa Applegate, with art by Chris, Fionnula Murphy, Derek Carter, Bob Hole, the DeepDreamGenerator, and Matthew Appleton! We even have letters of comment!!!
This supersized beast also marks the first time Chris ever did layout on his phone!
When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, it struck the author and illustrator John Jennings as so unprecedented, such a break from American history, that it was like an event from some far-flung future.
“Before then, the only time you would see a president who was Black was in a science-fiction movie,” he said in a phone interview last month. Jennings compared it to the sorts of imaginative leaps one finds in the most forward-thinking works categorized as “Afrofuturist.”
This year, fans of Afrofuturism will see a bumper crop of comics and graphic novels, including the first offerings of a new line devoted to Black speculative fiction and reissues of Afrofuturist titles from comic-book houses like DC and Dark Horse.
“Afrofuturism isn’t new,” said Ytasha L. Womack, a cultural critic and the author of “Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture,” a primer and history of the movement and aesthetic. “But the plethora of comics and graphic novels that are available is certainly a new experience.”
Graphic novels published in January included “After the Rain,” an adaptation of a short story by the Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorafor, and “Infinitum,” a tale of African kings and space battles by the New York-based artist Tim Fielder….
(6) BLACK PANTHER. While others are taking readers beyond, Ta-Nehisi Coates is still finishing his redefining work on the comic which ends with Black Panther #25 in April. The issue will bring fans the triumphant end to the “Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda” storyline.
Since taking over the title in 2016, the National Book Award winner and New York Times Best-Selling author has transformed the Black Panther mythos. Now five years later, he departs, leaving the world of Wakanda forever changed and laying the groundwork for the next bold era of this iconic Marvel hero.
“Ta-Nehisi has come up with a truly special finale here, one that not only wraps up the current story of T’Challa’s attempt to stop Emperor N’Jadaka’s conquest of Wakanda, but also deals with elements that reach all the way back to the beginning of Ta-Nehisi’s run….” said editor Wil Moss.
Throughout his run, Coates has taken the Black Panther to hell and back and expanded Wakanda into the distant stars. In his final issue, he’ll bring T’Challa full circle, back to the home he left behind…and the crown he has never fully accepted. The journey will conclude, but the legend remains.
…I really love a somewhat minor subplot in the book—Taryn’s father, the movie actor who has had roles in what are clearly the Lord of the Rings movies, going back to Wellington for what he thinks is a screen test for a new Peter Jackson project. Weta, Peter Jackson’s studio, plays a sometimes oversize role in the culture of your city. Has your writing life ever intersected with their work?
Oh, I can tell my Peter Jackson story. I saw his first movie, Bad Taste, in the film festival, and I really loved it. I mean, it’s fun, but it’s also the work of a very, very good director. And then he came into the bookshop and the museum where I was working, and my boss had been one of his helpers on the movie. He introduced me and said, “Elizabeth’s a writer.” And at that point I had just published my first novel. Peter Jackson gave me his WingNut Films card and said, “Do you want to write a screenplay for me?” And I said, “Oh, no, I don’t think I could do that.”
What a missed opportunity!
Well, it was very early on in both our careers.
(8) RAISING TWINS. “Superman & Lois” – “Their family is anything but ordinary.” Premieres Tuesday, February 23.
(9) THROWBACK. Here’s some artwork of Doctor Who’s seventh Doctor in the “rubber hose” cartoon style:
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
February 9, 1966 — Lost In Space’s “War Of The Robots” first aired as the twentieth episode of the first season. It is worth noting because the second robot in this episode is Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet. Robby the Robot would make a number of appearances in series such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Addams Family. Robby the Robot was inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame in 2004.
An officially acknowledged day in New Mexico (Roswell), Extraterrestrial Culture Day celebrates extraterrestrial cultures, and our past, present and future relationships with extraterrestrial visitors.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 9, 1867 – Natsume Sôseki. (Personal name last, Japanese style; Sôseki is a pen name, Japanese pronunciation of a Chinese idiom meaning “stubborn”.) I Am a Cat is ours, indeed narrated by a cat. You can read a little about it here. A collection “Ten Nights’ Dreaming” and “The Cat’s Grave” is in English. He was a novelist, a poet – most of his work outside our field – and among much else a student of English literature. See this comparison with Shakespeare. (Died 1916) [JH]
Born February 9, 1928 – Frank Frazetta.A Hugo, three Chesleys (two for artistic achievement); Spectrum Grand Master, Writers & Illustrators of the Future and World Fantasy Awards for lifetime achievement; SF Hall of Fame, Eisner Hall of Fame, Kirby Hall of Fame, Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. In comics, Westerns, fantasy, mystery, war, historical drama, funny animals; Buck Rogers; Flash Gordon; Li’l Abner with Al Capp. In our field perhaps most famous for Tarzan, Carson, Conan. Two hundred covers, sixteen hundred interiors; portfolios, sketchbooks, posterbooks; see e.g. Testament with Cathy & Arnie Fenner. (Died 2010) [JH]
Born February 9, 1935 — R. L. Fanthorpe, 76. I’m including him as he was a pulp writer for UK publisher Badger Books during the 1950s and 1960s during which he wrote under some sixty pen names. I think he wrote several hundred genre novels during that time but no two sources agree on just how many he wrote. Interestingly nothing is available by him digitally currently though his hard copy offerings would fill a wing of small rural library. He’d be perfect for Kindle Unlimited I’d say. (CE)
Born February 9, 1936 — Clive Walter Swift. His first genre appearance was as Snug in that version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Several years thereafter he was Dr. Black in A Warning to the Curious” (based on a ghost story by British writer M. R. James).Then he’s Ecto, whoever that character is, in Excalibur. He shows up next in the Sixth Doctor story, “The Revelation of a The Daleks” as Professor Jobel. (Died 2019.) (CE)
Born February 9, 1942 — Marianna Hill, 79. Doctor Helen Noel in the excellent “Dagger of The Mind” episode of the original Trek. (The episode introduces the Vulcan mind meld.) She also had roles on Outer Limits (in the Eando Binder’s “I Robot“ story which predates Asimov’s story of that name), Batman (twice as Cleo Patrick), I-Spy, The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible and Kung Fu (ok the last one has to be least genre adjacent). (CE)
Born February 9, 1951 — Justin Gustainis, 70. Author of two series so far, one being the Occult Crimes Unit Investigations series which he’s written three superb novels in so far, and the other being the Quincey Morris Supernatural Investigations series which has seven novels and which I’ve not read yet. Who’s read the latter series? (CE)
Born February 9, 1952 – Ben Yalow, F.N., age 69. Having attended eight hundred SF conventions, working on a third of them, his trademark Black Watch bowtie has become a symbol of SMOFfery. “SMOF” is “Secret Master Of Fandom”, as Bruce Pelz said a joke-nonjoke-joke, besides the Marty Balin comment; it’s come to mean the folks who put on SF cons, particularly those who study, argue about, and try to act on doing them better. Co-founder of SMOFcon. Edited four books for NESFA (New England SF Ass’n) Press; Fellow of NESFA (service); Fan Guest of Honor at Windycon X, OryCon ’87, ConDiego the 5th NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas), Loscon 17, FenCon XIV; scheduled for Discon III the 79th Worldcon. His dry but not unsympathetic sense of humor is shown by his receiving the Rubble Award, and by remarks like “Running a Worldcon is impossible. Running a NASFiC is harder.” Big Heart (our highest service award). [JH]
Born February 9, 1954 – Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, age 67. A dozen novels, twoscore shorter stories. Her Star Wars novel (with Michael Reaves) Shadow Games was a NY Times Best-Seller. Besides prose writing, she’s a filker; she and husband Jeff Bohnhoff have won two Pegasus Awards as Best Performers, one for Best Parody; Guests of Honor at LepreCon 24, TusCon 30, Archon 30, Balticon 41, DucKon 17, 2t0nic the 20th British Filk Convention, FenCon VII, LepreCon 38, Windycon 42, Boskone 52; they are in the Filk Hall of Fame. [JH]
Born February 9, 1956 — Timothy Truman, 65. Writer and artist best known in my opinion for his work on Grimjack (with John Ostrander), Scout, and the reinvention of Jonah Hex with Joe R. Lansdale. His work with Ostrander is simply stellar and is collected in Grimjack Omnibus, Volume 1 and 2. For the Hex work, I’d say Jonah Hex: Shadows West which collects their work together. He did do a lot of other work and I’m sure you’ll point out what I’ve overlooked… (CE)
Born February 9, 1960 — Laura Frankos, 61. She’s written a bakers dozen of genre short stories. She’s more known for her Broadway history column “The Great White Wayback Machine” and has also published one mystery novel, Saint Oswald’s Niche. Wife of Harry Turtledove. Her Broadway Quiz Book is available on all digital platforms. (CE)
Born February 9, 1977 – Rhiannon Lassiter, age 44. Started writing young, sent a few chapters to her mother (Mary Hoffman)’s agent and to family friend Douglas Hill: result, two novels accepted by Macmillan when she was nineteen. A dozen novels, four shorter stories; book reviews in Armadillo and Strange Horizons. [JH]
Born February 9, 1981 – Amber Argyle, age 40. Sixteen novels, two shorter stories. She “grew up on a cattle ranch, and spent her formative years in the rodeo circuit and on the basketball court.” She and her husband are “actively trying to transform [three children] from crazy small people into less-crazy larger people”; a note elsewhere, however, says she is “fluent in all forms of sarcasm”. Has read Heart of Darkness, The Secret Garden, All Quiet on the Western Front, six Shakespeare plays. [JH]
(13) BOOKSTORE IS OVERNIGHT SUCCESS. Yesterday’s Scroll ran the Super Bowl-style commercial The Late Show with Steven Colbert did for a small business — Foggy Pine Books in Boone, North Carolina. The follow-up Colbert did last night starts at 1:32.
Foggy Pine Books owner Mary Ruthless said, “Three weeks ago, we were like… wondering how we were going to make it through winter. And now I’m having to hire, you know, a couple of extra people to help process all of the orders.”
…A Firefly Aerospace lander will launch to the moon in 2023 as part of NASA’s Artemis program. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Firefly?”
…A janitor’s cart is far less interesting than the truth – that this is an artist’s rendering of the Blue Ghost, a robotic lander being built by Texas-based Firefly Aerospace to deliver 10 scientific experiments and technology demonstrations to the lunar surface in 2023. It will touch down in a lunar mare called Mare Crisium, a low-lying basin on the near side of the moon that measures more than 300 miles (480 kilometers) wide. The lander will carry instruments to study several aspects of the lunar surface in preparation for future human missions to the moon.
They came under the shadow of darkness – quite literally. Just as Dracula star Bela Lugosi was no doubt being tucked up for the night, director George Melford, cast and crew made their way on to the Universal studio lot in 1931 to shoot a Spanish-language version of the Bram Stoker 1897 horror novel, filmed using the same sets and costumes as the much more familiar Tod Browning masterwork….
Shot in half the time the Lugosi vehicle was allotted, and on a much smaller budget, Drácula contains revealing differences. It’s 29 minutes longer the Browning’s film, with more dialogue – we see more of Dracula’s castle; and the framing of shots are argubly superior – thanks to Melford’s crew having access to Dracula’s dailies when they arrived at night, thereby being able to make revisions to lighting and camera angles….
A working Apple-1, one of the tech giant’s first line of computers introduced back in 1976, is now up for auction on eBay for $1.5 million USD.
If you’re familiar with the history of Apple, then you’ll know that the Apple-1 is now rare memorabilia. Designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak, then sold wholesale by Steve Jobs, the two sold off some of their belongings to raise enough money to cover manufacturing costs — Jobs sold his Volkswagen van and Wozniak sold his HP-65 calculator.
… Leo has a point. All Things Considered is about to turn 50 years old. NPR’s archivists found the word “dinosaur” appearing in stories 294 times in the show’s history. By comparison, “senator” has appeared 20,447 times.
To remedy the situation, All Things Considered invited Leo to ask some questions about dinosaurs to Ashley Poust, a research associate at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Leo wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up….
Much like the coronavirus, monoliths refuse to be left behind in 2020.
The discovery of a new mysterious metal slab in Turkey on Friday was a throwback to a momentary craze from the olden days of November and December. Back then, a shiny, metal monolith appeared in the Utah desert without explanation, followed by copycats from California to Romania.
Perhaps art projects or perhaps the manifestation of pandemic-induced boredom, the monoliths captured the world’s attention for a fleeting moment. It remains unknown who created many of them, or why they were created, but they largely faded from cultural relevance as the world focused on other things, like the presidential transition, a coup in Myanmar or the Netflix show “Bridgerton.”
But the new monolith was gone after just four days. It vanished without explanation on Tuesday, according to local reports.
This despite the presence of something its predecessors didn’t have: armed guards.
The military police started an investigation to identify the people who planted the monolith in a rural area of Sanliurfa, a province in southeastern Turkey, according to DHA, a local news agency. The military police and village guards — government-paid civilians who work with the military police — stood watch as the investigation unfolded, protecting the monolith from any threats, DHA reported.
Also unlike previous monoliths, this one has an inscription. In the Gokturk alphabet, an ancient Turkic language, it reads: “Look at the sky, see the moon.”…
The United Arab Emirates’ orbiter reaches Mars on Tuesday, followed less than 24 hours later by China’s orbiter-rover combo. NASA’s rover, the cosmic caboose, will arrive on the scene a week later, on Feb. 18, to collect rocks for return to Earth — a key step in determining whether life ever existed at Mars.
Both the UAE and China are newcomers at Mars, where more than half of Earth’s emissaries have failed. China’s first Mars mission, a joint effort with Russia in 2011, never made it past Earth’s orbit. “We are quite excited as engineers and scientists, at the same time quite stressed and happy, worried, scared,” said Omran Sharaf, project manager for the UAE.
All three spacecraft rocketed away within days of one another last July, during an Earth-to-Mars launch window that occurs only every two years. That’s why their arrivals are also close together. Called Amal, or Hope in Arabic, the Gulf nation’s spacecraft is seeking an especially high orbit — 13,500 by 27,000 miles high (22,000 kilometers by 44,000 kilometers) — all the better to monitor the Martian weather.
China’s duo — called Tianwen-1, or “Quest for Heavenly Truth” — will remain paired in orbit until May, when the rover separates to descend to the dusty, ruddy surface. If all goes well, it will be only the second country to land successfully on the red planet.
The U.S. rover Perseverance, by contrast, will dive in straight away for a harrowing sky-crane touchdown similar to the Curiosity rover’s grand Martian entrance in 2012. The odds are in NASA’s favor: It’s nailed eight of its nine attempted Mars landings.
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In a new “Pirates of the Caribbean Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George says Pirates Of The Caribbean is “a wacky adventure where you disregard physics and probability and all that bring stuff. But it’s more fun that way!”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, JJ, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Alan Baumler, Daniel Dern, Ben Bird Person, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
Binti (2015), Akata Witch (2011), Who Fears Death (2010)
My stories tend to start with the characters. Then I look through their eyes (or however they “see”), minds, perspectives to observe the world. Typically this happens the moment the character exists. So I know the world not long after I know the characters. I walk through it, I smell the air, listen to the gossip, observe its insect world, hear its history through various perspectives, and so on … I experience it.
I don’t make notes initially or while writing – I find that distracting. And while writing, I can hold the world pretty fully in my mind … I tend to write first drafts swiftly and nonstop, putting it aside to cool only when it’s complete (which means it carries everything in it; it’s out of my head and on the page). I might draw maps, charts or diagrams while editing. My editing phase is much longer than the writing phase….
Cary Grant is back in a new galactic adventure! This time, he is their only hope! When Alfred Hitchcock meets George Lucas…
(3) CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS. Chuck Serface and Christopher J. Garcia are working on an issue of The Drink Tank dedicated to cults and new religious movements, and they want material to suit the theme:
We’re looking for related articles, fiction, poetry, personal essays, artwork, and photography. We’re open to explorations of cults and new religious movements, cults and new religious movements in genre fiction and comics . . . you get the idea. The deadline for submissions is Monday January 25, 2021. We’ll have the issue out shortly thereafter. Please send your contributions or your questions to either Chris at [email protected] or to Chuck at [email protected].
… Whether these reports are true or not is currently unclear – the BBC has declined to comment on what it describes as “speculation” about Whittaker’s future in the show, which isn’t a firm denial – but if they are borne out by the facts, I have to confess I’m disappointed.
Because really, it still feels like Whittaker is just getting started. After two series and an awful lot of adventures, I’m still looking and waiting for her quintessential “Doctor” moment, the scene that will define her period in the role and be looked back on by fans with fond nostalgia….
Fullerton also devotes his podcast to the topic here.
(5) THE FACE OF POE. Joe R. Lansdale credits Edgar Allan Poe as his “Dark Inspiration” in 2009 article from The Texas Observer. (It’s news to me!)
I can’t think about Edgar Allan Poe without thinking about my life, because he was there in dark spirit, in my room and in my head. He was out there in the shadows of the East Texas pines, roaming along the creeks and the Sabine River, a friendly specter with gothic tales to tell. It was a perfect place for him. East Texas. It’s the part of Texas that is behind the pine curtain, down here in the damp dark. It’s Poe country, hands down.
These thoughts were in my mind as I toured the Harry Ransom Center’s current exhibition, From Out That Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe. The Center, at the University of Texas at Austin, is celebrating the bicentennial of Poe’s birth with an exhibition that includes original manuscripts and illustrations. Looking at these artifacts, it occurred to me that Poe reached out from the grave and saved this East Texan from the aluminum chair factory. I know there are those who will say working in an aluminum chair factory is good honest work, and I’m going to agree. But I will say without hesitation and with no concern of insult that it damn sure wasn’t work of my choosing, and that it takes the skill of a trained raccoon and the I.Q. of a can of green beans, minus the label, to get it done….
Army researchers are looking to add muscle tissue to robot platforms, giving them “never before seen mobility and agility.”
The effort by scientists with the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command, Army Research Laboratory and Duke University and the University of North Carolina is looking first at adding muscle to legged robot joints rather than using actuators, according to an Army Research Laboratory statement….
While the early Army research makes no mention of cyborgs, scientists do note the advantages of muscle tissue as compared to robotics components currently in use.
(7) RELEASE THE BROKEN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Financial Times Reader.] In the December 30 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber uses the problems of Cyberpunk 2077 to explain why developers release so many bug-ridden games.
So why can’t a developer simply delay a game until it’s ready? Release dates are rarely chosen by the makers; instead they are imposed by marketing departments and shareholders, calibrated to avoid competitors, giving a game a fighting chance in a crowded market, or timed to tie in with a holiday season or new console. Pushing back a game’s release can send costs spiralling as marketing needs to be replanned and other games in the pipeline are delayed as a consequence. A game is a calculated economic risk, and if it flops, a studio can collapse. Sometimes it makes more sense to release a bug-ridden game than to further delay it…
…The increasing prevalence of patching has incentivized the release of games before they are ready. This has coincided with a demand for increasingly sophisticated games that developers are struggling to meet. The result iis unrealistic production schedules and the controversial labor practice known as ‘crunch,’ where developers work six- or seven-day weeks and long hours on the run up to release. This acceleration is unsustainable, and glitches are simply the external evidence of deeper problems in the industry.
(8) FAREWELL SALE. Offworld Designs owners Ray and Barb Van Tilburg say after 31 years of service to fandom they are retiring. They’re holding a big sale to move their inventory.
We appreciate all of our customers so much. Whether we met at a Science Fiction, Gaming, Anime, Furry or Comic Con, you’ve been the people we wanted to work for and share this nerdy adventure with.
After the horrible year we’ve all just lived through and the rolling disaster in Washington that’s unfolding while I write this, we need to unlock the value of our dragon’s hoard of inventory. We were so busy we didn’t know the meaning of the word “scale” as the business grew, but still built something special with the help of family, friends and great employees from our little town of Sandwich, Illinois.
We’ve marked everything down by 50% with nothing held back, including convention souvenirs from our wonderful licensors.
What does this mean in the short term? Well, we still have staff and equipment to print or embroider for you while we work through this process but we’re not adding new designs to our huge inventory. Let us know how we can be of service and if we can do it sooner as opposed to later, we’ll be there for you.
We are open to a sale of the business if you know someone, but it’s time to get moving toward whatever is waiting for us in 2021 and beyond.
January 6, 1975 –In the United Kingdom, The Changes was first broadcast on the BBC. It was a ten-part series adapting Peter Dickinson’s trilogy of The Weathermonger, Heartsease and The Devil’s Children. It was adapted by Anna Home and directed by John Prowse. It starred Victoria Williams, Keith Ashton, David Garfield, Rafiq Anwar, Zuleika Robson and Raghbir Brar. Though written as a children’s series, its themes caused considerable controversy.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born January 6, 1832 – Gustave Doré. Illustrated Dante’s Divine Comedy, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Mother Goose, Poe’s “Raven”, Puss in Boots, Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel, Shakespeare’s Tempest, and much more outside our field or at our border (is Tennyson’s Idylls of the King – about Arthur – fantasy? what about Cervantes’ Don Quixote?). Famous in his day as a painter, maybe even greater with engravings and woodcuts. Here is Cinderella. This is from History of Holy Russia – it’s a dream, so is it fantasy? Here is a vision of Paradise. Also sculpture, watercolor, and in fact pioneering comic strips. (Died 1883) [JH]
Born January 6, 1895 — Tom Fadden. He’s on the Birthday Honors List for the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers where his character was one of the first victims to yield to the invaders. It wasn’t his first SFF role as some thirty years before that role, he would make his Broadway debut as Peter Jekyll in The Wonderful Visit based off the novel of the same name by H. G. Wells, who also co-wrote the play. The last note of his that I’ll not was that one of his first television roles was Eben Kent, the man who adopts Kal-El on the first episode of The Adventures of Superman series. (Died 1980.) (CE)
Born January 6, 1905 — Eric Frank Russell. He won the first Hugo Award for Best Short Story at Clevention in 1955 for “Allamagoosa” first published in the May 1955 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. Sinister Barrier, his first novel, appeared in Unknown in 1939, the first novel to appear there. Much of his work has not made to the digital realm yet. What’s you favorite work by him? (Died 1978.) (CE)
Born January 6, 1941 – Joni Stopa. Fanwriter since the 1950s – teens can do things. Helped Bjo (there should be a circumflex over the j, an Esperantism indicating pronunciation “bee-joe”) Trimble invent SF con Art Shows. Married Jon Stopa, went to live at his family’s ski lodge in Wilmot, Wisconsin. Mother Joni’s Jams and Jellies raised money for TAFF and DUFF. Co-founded Windycon; Fan Guest of Honor at Windycon II. Fine Masquerade entries (our costume competition) with Jon; ran the Masquerade at Chicon IV the 40th Worldcon; she & Jon Fan GoH at Chicon V the 49th. Three remembrances of her. (Died 1996) [JH]
Born January 6, 1947 – Bob Vardeman, age 74. Active fan and pro. Seventy novels (some with co-authors), fifty shorter stories. Helped found Albuqurque SF Society and Bubonicon where he has often been Toastmaster (no documentation that he ever said “Tackett, you’re toast!”); elsewhere too. Guest of Honor at AggieCon IV, CopperCon 8, ChattaCon XV. [JH]
Born January 6, 1955 — Rowan Atkinson, 64. An unlikely Birthday perhaps except for that he was the lead in Doctor Who and The Curse of Fatal Deathwhich I know did not give him the dubious distinction of the shortest lived Doctor as that goes another actor though who I’ve not a clue. Other genre appearances were scant I think (clause inserted for the nit pickers here) though he did play Nigel Small-Fawcett in Never Say Never Again and Mr. Stringer in The Witches which I really like even if the author hates. (CE)
Born January 6, 1959 – Ahrvid Engholm, age 62. Early winner of the Appeltofft Award. Two collections in English of Swedish fanwriting (note his initials at lower left; he drew this cover). Co-founded Baltcon. Interviewed the Strugatsky brothers for Yellow Submarine. [JH]
Born January 6, 1960 — Andrea Thompson, 62. I’ll not mention her memorable scene on Arli$$ as it’s not genre though it was worth seeing. Her best genre work was as the telepath Talia Winters on Babylon 5. Her first genre role was in Nightmare Weekend which I’ll say was definitely a schlock film. Next up was playing a monster in the short lived Monsters anthology series. She had an one-off on Quantum Leap before landing the Talia Winters gig. Then came Captain Simian & The Space Monkeys. Really. Truly. Her last genre role to date appears to be in the Heroes: Destiny web series. (CE)
Born January 6, 1969 — Aron Eisenberg. Nog on Deep Space 9. Way after DS9, he’d show up in Renegades, a would-be Trek series loaded with Trek alumni including Nichelle Nichols, Robert Beltran, Walter Koenig and Terry Farrell. It lasted two episodes. Born with only one partially functioning kidney, he died of kidney failure way too young. (Died 2019.) (CE)
Born January 6, 1974 – Ashley Barnard, age 47. Four novels for us; three others, one about Byron. Cast of Illusions is a Shakespearean fantasy (it’s not fair for me to quote “Jonathan Wilder…. preferred dying by the sword, as smothering and choking usually occurred when he was a woman”; that part – I warned you about these puns – is in 16th Century theater). Has read The Monk, The Scarlet Pimpernel, two by Hardy, two by Willkie Collins, five by Austen, six by Dickens. [JH]
Born January 6, 1976 — Guy Adams, 45. If you’ve listened to a Big Finish audio-work, it’s likely that you are familiar with his writing as he’s done scripts for their Doctor, UNIT and Torchwood series among his many endeavors there. Not surprisingly, he’s also written novels on Doctor Who, Torchwood, Sherlock Holmes and so forth. I’ve read some of his Torchwood novels — they’re good popcorn corn literature. (CE)
Born January 6, 1983 – Rachel Cotterill, Ph.D., age 38. Four novels. Runs. Bakes tofu in spicy baharat marinade. Has read Harriet the Invincible hello Wombat, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and I can’t tell whose edition of the Dhammapada. [JH]
The world’s #2 superhero comics publisher is undergoing a stress test. DC Comics, the venerable publisher of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Watchmen, and dozens of other celebrated superhero characters, looks to be caught in the corporate restructuring taking place at its parent company, AT&T, along with other divisions of WarnerMedia, which the telecom giant acquired in 2019. After several rounds of layoffs and controversial business decisions, comics fans, comics professionals, and retailers are speculating whether DC, or its parent company, will choose to abandon comics publishing or the comics shop market entirely….
AT&T can’t afford to be concerned with DC’s legacy, no matter what it represents to the U.S. comics market. The company took on an even heavier debt load following the WarnerMedia acquisition, and has much bigger problems, including the controversial move to shift all of WarnerMedia subsidiary Warner Bros.’s 2021 theatrical film releases to streaming in an effort to keep the newly launched HBO Max service alive in a streaming-media war it appears to be losing badly to Disney+.
At the moment, DC’s value seems to be as a licensor of some very famous comics characters and logos that serve as the flagship of a popular consumer brand. That DC also publishes print comics that sell reasonably well in comics stores and the mass market (Walmart, Target), in addition to a strong and growing trade book program, is a bonus. The past, as far as AT&T may be concerned, is history. And that’s too bad, because to a lot of longtime fans, the past is what makes DC, DC.
(13) BOFFO B.O. In the Washington Post, Peter Marks reviews Ratatouille: The Tik Tok Musical, which premiered Friday online as a benefit for the Actors Fund, which says the show raised $1 million on opening night. The show has a professional cast and 51 minutes of songs, or half as many as would appear in a full production. Marks credits Hartsdale, New York teacher Emily Jacobsen as being the inspiration for this project. “’Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical’ debuts online”.
… Let’s acknowledge the affirmative circumstances of this virtual performance, which also offers up the talents of Wayne Brady, Ashley Park, Adam Lambert, Andrew Barth Feldman and André De Shields as Anton Ego, the restaurant critic whose effete heart Remy melts. It augurs the arrival, in the midst of a fraught time for theater and other performing arts, of a bona fide new musical. Even more remarkable — as its title suggests — is that it came together via TikTok, the digital platform on which users create videos of up to a minute….
(14) JEOPARDY! Faithful Jeopardy! viewer Andrew Porter saw the contestants hit another stumbling block tonight —
Final Jeopardy: Blockbuster Movies
Answer: Released in 2017, this movie is the highest-grossing film in the U.S. that’s set during WorldWar I.
All three contestants got it wrong, asking, “What is 1917?” and “What is Dunkirk?”
It is a regrettable fact that authors are mortal. This year has seen at least sixty SFF-related authors, artists, and editors die, some of natural causes, some due to the ongoing pandemic. Here are five books of interest by five different authors we lost in the last few months….
It’s been nearly three years since Stephen Hawking passed away. At the time of his death in 2018, Hawking had been for decades one of the most famous scientists in the world, even though few people understood his research in topics such as black holes and cosmology. He was, in many respects, a cultural figure, revered for his intelligence and his achievements in spite of the physical limitations imposed by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Lost in those recollections is the fact that Hawking was not just a scientist, or a pop culture representation of one, but also a human being with a personality, a person with desires and pet peeves and passions. That aspect of Hawking is illustrated in Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics by Leonard Mlodinow, a physicist who worked closely with Hawking for years.
… While NASA and the private sector work toward developing commercial habitats, China is building its own space station that it hopes to launch within a couple of years and is recruiting countries around the world as partners. The United States would not be one of them, however, since NASA is effectively barred by law from partnering with China in space.
“I think it would be a tragedy if, after all of this time and all of this effort, we were to abandon low Earth orbit and cede that territory,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told a Senate panel earlier this year.
The ISS still does have some good years left, officials said. “We’re good from an engineering standpoint,” Joel Montalbano, NASA’s space station program manager, said in an interview. “We’re cleared through 2028.”
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. On Jimmy Kimmel Live, Elizabeth Olsen talks being in London during the lockdown, celebrating New Year’s Eve abroad, an exclusive never-before-seen clip from Marvel’s WandaVision premiering on Disney+ January 15th, and she reacts to online fan theories about the show. The discussion of WandaVision starts around the 3:00 mark, the clip rolls around 4:25.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Chuck Serface, Stephen H Silver, StephenfromOttawa, and Daniel Dern for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “En Fuego” Dern.]
Less than one month ago, SpaceX blasted a full-scale prototype of its Starship vehicle to an altitude of 150 meters above South Texas before returning it safely to the ground. On Thursday, the company did it again with the latest version of the vehicle, dubbed Serial Number 6, or SN6.
As outdoor temperatures soared into the mid-90s Fahrenheit shortly after noon, the prototype was loaded with liquid methane and liquid oxygen before igniting its single Raptor engine. This engine, situated off-center, powered the vehicle at a slight angle into the sky, where it moved several dozen meters laterally before descending and coming to rest near the launch stand.
These test flights represent significant technical achievements, as they involved testing out the large, complex plumbing systems for Starship’s fuel tanks and rocket engine as well as pushing the thrust vector control system of the Raptor engine in flight….
…Brian Niemeier, who won a 2016 Dragon Award for his self-published novel Souldancer, blamed the perceived flaws of the 2020 Dragon ballot on the ongoing pandemic. According to Niemeier’s assessment, the lack of a physical convention meant that “normal people tuned out” while a “Death Cult” that also holds sway over the Hugo Awards “took advantage of the drastically reduced voter base to pack the ballot”. Niemeier claims that this movement is literally in league with Satan: “the Death Cult witches lie constantly in the manner of their father below”.
Best Horror Novel winner Ursula Vernon expressed amusement at these accusations: “I did not find out I was even on the nomination list until my husband said ‘Hey, you’re up for a Dragon!’ so whoever is in charge of Death Cult Communications is falling down on the job!”
Come the day of the awards, Niemeier’s theory regarding voting numbers turned out to be wrong. While the official number of “more than 8,000 ballots” marks a smaller turnout than the 10,000-11,000 ballots cast in the previous two years, it is the same number as was given by the award administrators for 2017, and twice the number provided for 2016.
In reality, of course, there is no need to attribute the shift in the Dragon Awards to either COVID-19 or the machinations of devil-worshippers. As far back as 2017, when Brian Niemeier lost to James S. A. Corey and Declan Finn lost to Victor LaValle, it was clear that the Dragons were outgrowing the grip of any politicised clique. Rather than the year of the pandemic, the real odd-one-out year of the Dragon Awards’ history is clearly their debut in 2016 — the year in which they had their lowest turnout.
…Okay, usually I would do a bit of research, reading, and maybe even talk to some friends before I review something but fuck it, I am only going to put in about the same amount of effort that had apparently been invested into this movie (i.e. minimal). I am Chinese and I am also a fan of Disney films, and I am very easy to please. Do you know how easy it is to please me? I’ll tell you. I actually don’t hate most of Disney’s naked money-grabbing live action remakes that they’ve been pushing out in recent years. That’s the truth. I’ll pay money just to watch diluted versions of their classical animated canon because I am that kind of patsy who is in his 30’s and am utterly, shamelessly susceptible to nostalgia. And I would venture to say that Disney would have done a much better job by me if they had simply stuck to the same playbook they used for Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. Remake it shot by shot. Play us the same catchy songs. That way at least, they would just be revisiting the original gauche liberties they took with Chinese culture back in 1998. But nooo, they have elected instead to abandon their old mistakes in order to commit new hate crimes against the Chinese people. How is it that there are way more Chinese people involved in this new version of Mulan and we still end up with a less culturally-reverent movie?
(4) SUBMISSIONS WANTED. [Item by Chuck Serface.] The next issue of The Drink Tank will be “Istanbul: Queen of Cities,” brought to you by Christopher J. Garcia, Alissa McKersie, Chuck Serface, and special guest-editor, Douglas Berry. We’re looking for submissions – history, fiction, artwork, photography, personal reminiscences, reviews, or poetry – that focus on aspects of this city and its surrounding areas, Gallipoli and the Princes’ Islands, for example. Please send your work to [email protected] by October 1, 2020. We’ll have it out shortly thereafter.
(5) SPIKE MCPHEE CATALOG #4. (Not to be confused with Archie.) Doug Ellis has posted another catalog of art and other items from the Spike McPhee estate. You can download it from the link below:
From 1977 to 1989, the Science Fantasy Bookstore operated in Harvard Square in Cambridge. Deb and I hung out there when we were in law school and became friends with the owner, Spike MacPhee. Spike was a member of NESFA and also founded the small press, Paratime Press, which published several checklists in the 1970’s. He was also GoH at the first Arisia convention in 1990.
Besides reading SF, Spike was a devoted science art collector. From the late 1960’s into the 1990’s, Spike attended several SF conventions – among them Boskone, Lunacon, Nycon III, Noreascon, Discon, Torcon and Disclave – where he would often buy art at the art show auction. He also became friends with many SF artists of the 1970’s and bought art directly from them as well. Spike remained a passionate fan until he passed away on November 13, 2019.
As I mentioned in my emails for previous catalogs, we’re now handling the sale of original art, books and other material for Spike’s estate. The fourth catalog is now available, and can be downloaded until September 13 as a 21 MB pdf file here.
If you’d like to download actual jpgs of the images, those can be downloaded in a zip file until September 13 directly here.
(6) DUCK! Dragon Con TV solved a problem and saved an annual tradition by making a semi-live version of a famous Warner Bros. cartoon: Duck Dodgers In The 24th And A Half Century (Sort Of).
What happens when your socially distanced sci-fi & fantasy convention wants to continue the tradition of playing DUCK DODGERS every year at The Masquerade but you don’t want to get shut down by copyright bots? Simple… you make your own version at home.
(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
Johnny Weissmuller was one of Clayton Moore’s swimming instructors when he took lessons as a teenager at the Illinois Athletic Club. Imagine Tarzan teaching the Lone Ranger to swim.
Source: Los Angeles Times
(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
1960 — Sixty years ago, Peter S. Beagle’s A Fine and Private Place was first published in hardcover by Viking Press which simply says “First published in 1960” on the copyright page. (ISFDB doesn’t list an exact date either. However, it was mentioned twice in the New York Times in May 1960.) Clute at the Encyclopaedia of Fantasy calls it “a Supernatural Fiction in chamber-opera form“. Published before he turned twenty one, it’s been in print since along with The Last Unicorn. It is a very well written novel for a first time author. Though it won no Awards itself, it certainly contributed towards his World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement and Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master awards.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 7, 1890 – Manuel Komroff. Playwright, screenwriter, novelist, editor, translator. I, the Tiger from the viewpoint of a caged tiger, a few shorter stories, for us; more outside our field, including an ed’n of Marco Polo adding a chapter to the Marsden ed’n (1818) and revising the Yule ed’n (1871). (Died 1974) [JH]
Born September 7, 1900 – Taylor Caldwell. Half a dozen novels for us; many others including historical fiction e.g. Dear and Glorious Physician (Luke), The Earth is the Lord’s (Genghis Khan), Glory and the Lightning (Aspasia, mistress of Pericles). Dialogues with the Devil is between Lucifer and the Archangel Michael. This Side of Innocence set in Gilded Age upstate NY the best-seller of 1946. Her books sold 30 million copies. Outspoken conservative. (Died 1985) [JH]
Born September 7, 1921 — Donald William Heiney. Writer under the pseudonym of MacDonald Harris which he used for all of his fiction of one of the better modern set novels using the Minotaur myth, Bull Fever. His time travel novel, Screenplay, where the protagonist ends up in a film noir 1920s Hollywood is also well crafted. Most of his work is available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 1993.) (CE)
Born September 7, 1924 – Gerry de la Ree. Formed the Solaroid Club (New Jersey; included Manly Wade Wellman), 1939. Collector, small-press publisher, dealer; sports journalist outside our field. Seven books on Virgil Finlay; also Hannes Bok, Stephen Fabian, Clark Ashton Smith, Stanley Weinbaum; The Art of the Fantastic from his own collection. First Fandom Hall of Fame, 1994 (i.e. posthumously). (Died 1993) [JH]
Born September 7, 1937 — John Phillip Law. He shows up as the blind angel Pygar in Barbarella, and he’s the lead in Ray Harryhausen’s The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. He’s Flight Commander Elijah Kalgan on South African produced generation ship Space Mutiny, and he was one of four actors who over the years played Harty Holt in Tarzan films, his being in Tarzan, the Ape Man. (Died 2008.) (CE)
Born September 7, 1944 – Cas Skelton, 76. She and husband Paul (he sometimes “Skel”) long active fans, particularly in fanzines; even published The Zine That Has No Name, years before Marty Cantor’s No Award. Before that, Inferno became Small Friendly Dog. Such, such were the joys – [JH]
Born September 7, 1955 — Mira Furlan, 65. She’s best known for her role as the Minbari Ambassador Delenn on the entire run of Babylon 5, and also as Danielle Rousseau on Lost, a series I did not watch. She’s reunited with Bill Mumy and Bruce Boxleitner at least briefly in a series called Space Command.(CE)
Born September 7, 1960 — Susan Palwick, 60. She won the Rhysling Award for “The Neighbor’s Wife”, the Crawford Award for best first novel with Her Flying in Place, and the Alex Award would be awarded for her second novel, The Necessary Beggar. Impressive as she’s not at all prolific. All Worlds are Real, her latest collection, was nominated for the 2020 Philip K. Dick Award. (CE)
Born September 7, 1960 – Michelle Paver, 60. A score of novels; Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series set in Stone Age Europe sold a million copies, its Ghost Hunter winning The Guardian’s Children’s Fiction prize; Gods and Warriors series in the Bronze Age. Patron of the United Kingdom Wolf Conservation Trust. Met ice bears at Churchill, Manitoba. [JH]
Born September 7, 1973 — Alex Kurtzman, 47. Ok, a number of sites claims he single handed lay destroyed Trek as the fanboys knew it. So why their hatred for him? Mind you I’m more interested that he and Roberto Orci created the superb Fringe series, and that alone redeems him for me. (CE)
Born September 7, 1974 — Noah Huntley, 46. He has appeared in films such as 28 Days Later, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (excellent film), Snow White and the Huntsman (great film), Event Horizon (surely you’ve something else to do) and Dracula Untold (well, not so great). He’s Gawain in The Mists of Avalon series which I refuse to watch, and shows up as Donovan Osborn in the CW series Pandora which, I’m not kidding, got a Rotten Tomatoes zero percent approval rating. Ouch. (CE)
Born September 7, 1977 – Nalini Singh, 43. A dozen Guild Hunter novels, a few shorter stories; a score of novels, a dozen shorter stories, about Psy-Changelings; a dozen more novels; thirty short stories on her Website. Two Vogels. A dozen NY Times Best Sellers. [JH]
Born September 7, 1998 – Ghughle, possibly timeless. The Ghreat Revelation of this so far little known fannish ghod came to Steven H Silver (no punctuation after the H) on September 22, 2001; see Argentus 2. The birthday of Ghughle is celebrated, or had better be, on September 7th. This image was vouchsafed to Stu Shiffman, and we all know what happened to him. [JH]
…A few months after that meeting, Marvel Comics approached me about writing a comic book series called Rise of the Black Panther. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, a chance to re-imagine T’Challa’s earliest days as a king. The only problem was that I was scared as hell. Could I actually step into a legacy that I’d loved from afar, before a major motion picture starring the same character came out? Could I follow in the footsteps of creators whose work made me feel seen and helped spark my dreams of writing? I’d been writing about comics for almost half my life, but I’d never actually written them before. History was getting all up in my face and asking me what I was going to do. To come up with an answer, I thought back to my interview with Boseman. He was an actor who, as far as I could tell, hadn’t read any Black Panther comics before getting slipped one on the set of Gods of Egypt. Yet he took on the risk of portraying T’Challa. What sorry excuse could I, a lifelong comics nerd, muster for not doing the same?
Because when history came for Chadwick Boseman—as it did on multiple occasions—he was ready. Every time. That’s why his passing hits me so hard. Look at his life story and you see a man who knew the importance of meeting the moment. When he got his first big TV job on a soap opera, it was a character who was getting caught up in gang life. He asked the show’s creators questions meant to help round out the role and steer it away from stereotypes. For his trouble, he got fired the next day….
(12) SURVIVOR. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Yondu Udonta—actor Michael Rooker—dishes (via Entertainment Weekly) on his recent battle with COVID-19.
In a Facebook post on Friday, the actor told fans that he’s beaten COVID-19 after an “epic battle” with the illness.
“If y’all aint figured it out by now why I’ve been isolating in this crazy awesome Airstream of mine, let me help y’all out by saying I’ve been fighting off COVID-19,” Rooker wrote. “I have to let y’all know it has been quite a battle. And as in any war, ALL is fair. And IN the middle of this epic battle I’ve come to the conclusion that there aint a whole heck of a lot one can do externally, to fight off COVID-19 once it has gotten into your body.”
…It could happen, if you ask physicist Melvin Vopson. An astonishing half of Earth’s mass could take the form of digital data by 2245. He believes that we process so much digital information that if we keep up so much oversaturation, we will redistribute the physical atoms that make up this planet and everything on it into digital bits and computer code until we end up living in a sort of computerized simulation. You could argue that we already live in a simulation, but the unnerving thing about Vopson’s research is that it is an actual projection as opposed to something that could happen but will continue to exist in the realm of science fiction until it actually does.
(14) THE “THERE’S TOO MUCH POLITICS ON FILE 770” ITEM OF THE DAY.
(15) ALTERNATE LITERATURE. [Item by John A Arkansawyer.] If you recall the still from Seth Meyer’s show with the altered Thorn Birds cover–Thorn of the Rings, I believe it was–then you’ll be interested in the lower right hand corner of this video where I’ve cued it up. The bottom book is, sadly, not SF, but the rest of the stack is: https://youtu.be/gqV_fxqUI_I?t=143
(16) THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY. ScreenRant rounds up “12 Hilariously-Titled Ripoffs of Better Movies”. Tagline: “If you’re sick of watching well-produced Hollywood films with good acting and good effects, take a look of these so-called ‘mockbusters.’”
8. What’s Up? Balloon To The Rescue
If you thought mockbusters could only rip off action films, think again. This time, Pixar was the target with the amazingingly awful What’s Up? Balloon to the Rescue. Because “What’s Up” wouldn’t have been an obvious enough ripoff of Pixar’s Up, so they had to throw the word balloon in there just to make sure everyone knew what was, um, up.
Featuring what is absolutely the worst/most nightmare-inducing animation you’ll ever see, it’s actually fascinating that What’s Up even exists considering the amount of time and effort that it must have taken to make a movie this bad. Not only is the film insultingly bland and near-impossible to watch, but it’s also insanely racist in a way that only a movie that looks like a ’90s screensaver could be. If it isn’t yet clear, everything about this film is fascinating, and if you want to cringe your way through a night with some friends, you literally couldn’t make a worse choice than What’s Up.
(17) FANDOM SURVIVES, TOO. SF2 Concatenation has posted “How Eastercon and Worldcon fandom”. Tagline: “In 2019 the SARS-CoV-2 virus evolved. By early 2020 it had spread from Asia to the rest of the World. In March 2020 much of Europe and N. America went into lockdown. Yet SF fan activity continued. Caroline Mullan reveals how.”
… Many fans around the world had seen the virus coming and started modifying their public behaviour before lockdowns started to take hold. One of the first fruits of this was Concellation 2020, which sprang up on Facebook on 13th March, founded by Christopher Ambler and Craig Glassner as a forum for letting off steam as fans started to stay at home. Within 24 hours the group had over a thousand members, and at time of writing it has over 30,000 from all over the world, making jokes, exchanging information, displaying art, cosplay and merchandise, raising funds for charity, and discussing all things fannish. This was an early example of the many new online groups and forums that have been springing up to allow fans to socialise, exhibit and share their creativity and thoughts from lockdown.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Disney’s Live-Action Mulan Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that the Mulan remake “took the animated movie and removed the fun stuff” but added characters who wore so much makeup “they’re basically violent theatre majors.”
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, JJ, Chuck Serface, John A Arkansawyer, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cliff.]
By James Bacon: Journey Planet, editors James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, Alissa McKersie, Ann Gry, Chuck Serface, John Coxon and Steven H Silver are incredibly proud and pleased to have been considered by fans to be worthy of being nominated as a Hugo finalist.
2019 was a wonderful year for us all, in many ways, and we openly admit that this delightful news was and is badly needed at this difficult time for so many in 2020 and our thoughts are with those who work and strive in these challenging times. .
We hope that we can share our love and appreciation of so many things through our fanzines and welcome this opportunity to share them.
Last year’s issues were: Antique Space, Defying Integrity of Continuity, Apollo XI, and The Matrix.
Each of these issues are so distinctly different: from celebrating a historic anniversary to publishing Russian poetry, to the world of fiction in two so very wondrous and different ways. We are so privileged to have the time and good will of so many people who enjoy spending their time contributing, creating, and helping make these zines.
We would like to thank our contributors: Artist Sara Felix who did amazing covers for two of our issues. Artists Meg Frank and Vanessa Applegate who did a cover each.
Our thanks to Stephanie Alford, Bob Hole, and Jose Sanchez Ed Hengeveld, David M. Stein, Kurt Erichsen, Jack Clemons, John Scalzi, Richard Man, Alma Alexander, Allen M. Steele, Bryan A. Palaszewski, David Hardy, John Donat, Joseph Green, C. Stuart Hardwick, Nancy Jane Moore, Bill Higgins, Gregory Benford, y Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Brenda W. Clough, Scott Hipp, Sarah Gulde, Rob Hansen, Patty Wells, Regina Kanyu Wang, Teddy Harvia, and Tim Gagnon, NASA (we used a lot of their photos). Emma Harris, Warren Frey, Espana Sheriff, Jenn Scott Ulrika O’Brien, Jenn Scott Peppard Saltine, Cardinal Cox, Helena MacCallum, James Mason, and Bill Howard.
We are very grateful for everyone’s support and hard work, and we are thankful for the honour of being Hugo Finalists.
Our thanks to all those who nominated us but also to the Hugo Administrator Tammy Coxen and her team, the WSFS Division and of course the Chairs, Committee and staff of ConZealand.
Chris, James, Alissa, Ann, Chuck, John, and Steven.
(1) CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS. Christopher
J. Garcia and Chuck Serface are co-editing an issue of The Drink Tank
dedicated to science-fiction comics of the 1950s and 1960s! Any critical
articles, fanfic, personal remembrances, artwork, and any media we can publish
in a fanzine are welcome.
Chuck Serface says, “Consideration of materials from any comic publisher of the time is fair game: Atlas/Marvel, DC, Gold Key, Charlton, Warren, EC, ones I’m forgetting at the moment — all of them.”
The deadline’s October 14, 2019. They’ll have it out
by the end of the calendar year. Send submissions to [email protected]
(2) COLSON WHITEHEAD Q&A. His new book is not sff, but some of his answers are about genre in “Powell’s Interview: Colson Whitehead, Author of ‘The Nickel Boys’”.
Rhianna: You’ve mentioned in other interviews being an avid reader of horror, and your novel Zone One is a zombie horror story. You’re very skilled at depicting violence. I was wondering if the horror genre has stylistically influenced the way that you depict historical atrocities, like those in The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys.
Whitehead: Again, I think the story determines how you tell it. The violence in Zone One is gorier. It’s more flamboyant than some of the stuff in The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys. In those two books, I think the horrific brutality that they experience speaks for itself. They don’t have to be dramatized.
This kind of language, I borrowed from reading the slave narratives. You don’t have to dramatize or sell to the listener or the reader how terrible everything is that is happening because it speaks for itself. If the violence is speaking for itself, I can concentrate more on the characters and what they’re feeling.
San Diego’s Comic-Con International starts Wednesday night, which makes this the perfect time to talk about Bad Weekend, a noir set against the backdrop of a fictionalized version of the now famous comics convention.
Writer Ed Brubaker described the graphic novel — with art by Brubaker’s longtime collaborator Sean Phillips and colors by Phillips’ son Jacob — as a weird love letter to comics, being a fan, and the strangeness of the comic book industry.
…Bad Weekend is the product of filing away stories he’s heard around the comic book industry for the past 20 to 30 years, according to Brubaker — stories of who screwed over whom, of success not bringing happiness, and of comic companies getting rich off their work with movies and TV shows without the creators sharing in that wealth.
(4) OP-EDS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] If, like me, you’ve been enjoying the New
York Times’ series of science fictional op-eds, they’ve just created a landing
page with all the articles in the series now organized in one place: “Op-Eds
From the Future”
It’s worth checking back every second Monday to
see the latest installment, as they’ve been excellent so far.
(5) FILER NAMED FGOH. Chris Barkley shared on
Facebook: “I am pleased to
report that I was asked and accepted to be the Fan GoH at the 2021 Astronomicon
in Rochester, NY along with my good friend (and Identical twin) Robert
I have taken this past week to ponder a response to Neil Clarke and Taiyo Fujii’s objections to the viability of a Hugo Award category for Best Translated Novel. And frankly, their objections puzzle me.
I ask this of Mr. Fujii and to Mr. Clarke; if the three Hugos awarded to translated works are the awakening of fandom to translated literature, why haven’t more of those works been nominated in their wake? In the past three years of nominations; only 2017’s Death’s End, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu, has been included in the Best Novel category, all of the other nominees in the category have all been decidedly anglocentric.
The truth of the matter we think that the Worldcon and the Hugo Awards have been overwhelmingly perceived for quite a while as an English speakers only party since a majority of the conventions have been held in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Mr. Clarke and Mr. Fujii may see the proposed award as either unnecessary, pandering or condescending to authors and fans but all Ms. Cordasco, my co-sponsors and I only want to do is shine a spotlight to fervently call attention to and honor authors and their translators. Speaking for myself, had there been three, four or five nominees on the final ballot since those historic awards, I would not have contemplated initiating and offering this proposal for an open debate…
Horizon still could have gotten the case to trial, but it then needed to show an inference of copying through the similarity of the works. Specifically, Horizon argued the two works were “strikingly similar,” with reliance on an expert report discussing anatomical structures, faces and heads, and camera views.
The judge responds that the expert report is “equivocating” on some of the noteworthy similarities by addressing features on careful viewing and not going quite so far to rule out any reasonable possibility of independent creation. Plus, the judge adds, “there remain enough differences between the two works,” nodding to Marvel’s pointing out differences in pose, differing placement of blue lights, and significantly different overall coloring.
(8) SEE READERCON 30. Ellen Datlow has posted 89 photos
taken at ReaderCon 30 in a Flickr
A nationally representative sample of 2,200 adults carried out between July 8 and 10 revealed that, when it comes to genre properties, Marvel is far and away the most successful, with 63 percent of those surveyed considering themselves fans. The next most popular property was Marvel’s Disney sibling, Star Wars, with a 60 percent fandom, and DC followed with 59 percent.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
July 17, 1955 — Disneyland Park opened in Anaheim, California.
July 17, 1987 — Robocop premiered on this day.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 17, 1858 — Florence Balcombe Stoker. She was the wife and literary executor of Bram Stoker. She’s best remembered for her extended legal dispute with the makers of Nosferatu, an unauthorized film blatantly based on her husband’s novel Dracula. (Died 1937.)
Born July 17, 1889 — Erle Stanley Gardner. Though best known for the Perry Mason series of detective stories, he did write a handful of SF stories, all of which are collected in The Human Zero: The Science Fiction Stories of Erle Stanley Gardner. (Died 1970.)
Born July 17, 1944 — Thomas A. Easton, 75. SF critic and author who wrote the book review column in Analog from 1979 – 2009. His Organic Future series is quite entertaining and I’m reasonably certain I read Sparrowhawk when it was serialized in Analog.
Born July 17, 1952 — Robert R. McCammon, 67. Horror writer whose Michael Gallatin books, The Wolf’s Hour and The Hunter from the Woods, Alllied WWII werewolf agent and his adventures, I strongly recommend. His “Nightcrawlers” short story was adapted into an episode of the Twilight Zone.
Born July 17, 1954 — J. Michael Straczynski, 65. Best known rather obviously for creating and writing most of Babylon 5 and its short-lived sequel Crusade. He’s also responsible for as well as the Jeremiah and Sense8 series. On the commit sides, he’s written The Amazing Spider-Man, Thor and Fantastic Four. Over at DC, he did the Superman: Earth One trilogy of graphic novels, and has also written Superman, Wonder Woman, and Before Watchmen titles.
Born July 17, 1967 — Kelly Robson, 52. I just got done reading her brilliant “Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach”. Right now, it appears only this plus “A Human Stain” and “Waters of Versailles” are available on iBooks and Kindle for reading as she has no collection out yet. And no novel as far as I can tell.
Born July 17, 1971 — Cory Doctorow, 48. I’ll admit that I’ve mixed feelings about his work. I enjoyed Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, his first novel, and thought The Rapture of the Nerds had potential but really failed to live to that potential to great. Everything else is ‘Meh’. His activism is oft times that of an overeager puppy trying to get attention for himself.
Born July 17, 1976 — Brian K. Vaughan, 43. Wow. Author of Ex Machina, Pride of Baghdad, Runaways, Saga, Y: The Last Man, and his newest affair, Paper Girls. And yes, he’s won Hugo Awards. You could spend an entire summer just reading those series. In his spare time, he was a writer, story editor and producer of the television series Lost during seasons three through five. And was the showrunner and executive producer of the Under the Dome series.
From its inception, Comic-Con had intergalactic ambitions.
The initial show, then called San Diego’ Golden State Comic Con, featured science fiction writers Ray Bradbury and A.E. Van Vogt; Jack Kirby, creator of Captain America, X-Men and other iconic superheroes; vintage films; an art auction; and dozens of dealers peddling mountains of new and used comics.
An unforgettable event — for the 300 attendees. Few others noticed and even they dismissed this as a juvenile jamboree. For instance:
On the show’s first day, Aug. 1, 1970, the author of “Fahrenheit 451″ and “The Martian Chronicles” granted an interview to The San Diego Union. Yet Bradbury’s spirited defense of comics was buried on page B-11, under articles about a flower show, the repainting of the White House East Room and a medical brief with the headline “Fat Men More Tipsy.”
… Neil Kendricks is a writer, filmmaker and teacher who recently led a San Diego State course on comics and sequential art. In the early 1980s, though, he was a high school student at his first Comic-Con. In the dealer’s room, he bumped into a white-haired gentleman flipping through the cardboard boxes full of used comics.
“Mr. Bradbury,” he stammered, “will you be here for awhile?”
When Ray Bradbury nodded yes, Kendricks dashed out of Golden Hall and ran the half-mile to Wahrenbrock’s Book House.
“I went upstairs to the science fiction section and bought as many of his books and I could find. Then I ran all the way back and he signed them. That,” Kendricks said, “could never happen now.”
…At a presentation at the California Academy of Sciences, hastily announced via Twitter and beginning a half hour late, Musk presented the first product from his company Neuralink. It’s a tiny computer chip attached to ultrafine, electrode-studded wires, stitched into living brains by a clever robot. And depending on which part of the two-hour presentation you caught, it’s either a state-of-the-art tool for understanding the brain, a clinical advance for people with neurological disorders, or the next step in human evolution.
The chip is custom-built to receive and process the electrical action potentials—“spikes”—that signal activity in the interconnected neurons that make up the brain. The wires embed into brain tissue and receive those spikes. And the robotic sewing machine places those wires with enviable precision, a “neural lace” straight out of science fiction that dodges the delicate blood vessels spreading across the brain’s surface like ivy.
…And, sure, there’s more. A public records request from WIRED in April 2019 found that Neuralink is licensed to have hundreds of rats and mice in its research facilities. In a seemingly unplanned moment at the Cal Academy, Musk also acknowledged that Neuralink’s research had progressed beyond rodents to non-human primates. It’s only because of a records request filed by Gizmodo that Neuralink’s affiliation with the primate research center at UC Davis is public knowledge. That affiliation has apparently progressed: “A monkey has been able to control a computer with its brain, just FYI,” Musk said during the Q and A after the presentation.
His team seemed as surprised and discombobulated by the announcement as the audience. “I didn’t know we were running that result today, but there it goes,” said Max Hodak, president of the company, on stage next to Musk. (Monkeys have controlled computers via BCIs before, though presumably this would be the first time one used Neuralink.)
One small holograph for man, one giant holograph for the Washington Monument.
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing with a life-size projection of the Saturn V rocket on the Washington Monument on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The Saturn V rocket is now iconic for carrying the Apollo 11 crew to the moon in 1969. The projection-mapping artwork will occupy 363 of the monument’s 555 vertical feet.
As the 17th century’s most famous Italian astronomer surveyed the heavens, he likely never dreamed a rocket shooting fire would one day power people up among the stars he eyed through his telescope, or that his work would help guide a ship to the moon.
But Galileo Galilei’s observations would become a key link in the chain of scientific research and discovery fundamental to our understanding of the universe and our drive to explore it.
That scientific continuum is at the heart of a new Houghton Library exhibit connecting early celestial calculations to the Apollo 11 mission that put two American astronauts on the lunar surface 50 years ago this July. “Small Steps, Giant Leaps: Apollo 11 at Fifty” features gems from Harvard’s collection of rare books and manuscripts as well as NASA artifacts from an anonymous lender and Harvard alumnus, many of which were aboard the spaceship that left Earth’s orbit in 1969.
Not all of the equipment carried into space was cutting edge and expensive. Some of the more humble odds and ends even prevented disaster.
…25: Length of duct tape rolls carried to the Moon, in feet
If there’s one saviour time and again of American space missions over the past 50 years, it’s a roll of duct tape. During Apollo missions, it was used for everything from taping down switches and attaching equipment inside the spacecraft, to fixing a tear on a spacesuit and, during Apollo 17, a fender on the lunar rover.
…Esquire was not expecting much from Neil Armstrong.
“While the space program is poised on the brink of a truly epoch-making triumph of engineering, it is also headed for a rhetorical train wreck,” the story said.
“The principal danger is not that we will lose the life of an astronaut on the Moon, but that the astronauts will murder English up there . . . . That they are likely to litter the intergalactic void with gibberish and twaddle.”
The smugness is rather remarkable, because despite the talent of the people it enlisted, Esquire got not a single decent line from any of them.
It got, in fact, a lot of gibberish and twaddle.
…With that as your benchmark, here’s a sampling of what Esquire’s best and brightest came up with:
John Kenneth Galbraith, the Harvard economist: “We will hafta pave the damn thing.”
Ayn Rand, libertarian thinker and novelist: “What hath man wrought!”
…Leonard Nimoy, the actor, then in his third season as Spock on the new TV series Star Trek: “I’d say to Earth, from here you are a peaceful, beautiful ball and I only wish everyone could see it with that perspective and unity.”
(17) A KING WILL BE CROWNED. Looper fills us in
about The Most Anticipated Sci
Fi Movies Of 2020.
2020 might feel far away, but Hollywood’s major studios are already planning ahead with some legit super hits on the horizon. And if you’re a fan of sci-fi flicks, then 2020’s looking like an especially good year for you. These are just a few of the most anticipated sci-fi blockbusters on their way to a big screen near you. Film fans will finally get the answer to an age-old question in 2020, when Godzilla and King Kong face off on the big screen. Director Adam Wingard has already assured fans that his take on the two monsters will crown a definitive winner, unlike the 1962 film that first pit the two characters against each other. This will be the fourth entry in Legendary’s MonsterVerse, first established in 2014’s Godzilla and further explored in Kong: Skull Island.
[Thanks to Olav Rokne, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip
Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Carl
Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
The union representing them, Unite Here Local 26, confirmed Saturday they “reached a tentative agreement” on a new contract. A few hours later, a ratification vote at Hynes Convention Center officially ended the strike.
“We can confirm we have a tentative agreement. We look forward to welcoming our associates back to work,” a Marriott International spokesperson said in an e-mail.
This is how much a racially charged statement can affect status: the World Fantasy Convention is making public apologies for, among other things, inviting Robert Silverberg. Close to seventy years a fixture of the field, hundreds of novels and nonfiction books and short stories, an influence and footprint that cannot be denied; really, a giant, or the word “giant” doesn’t mean anything and never has. (DYING INSIDE, alone.) And now he’s in danger of having this become his entire legacy in eyes of the next generation, and…damn.
I understand why people are mad at him. I really do. I believe they should be. I am, whether you believe me or not….
… I have given the only reply that makes sense to me: that someday, your splendid, woke, brilliantly sensitive perfect generation will have this happen to you too. The attitudes you think natural will seem neanderthalic to those who come after you. The icons of your current cultural starscape will someday be torn down, for missteps or beliefs central to their work. Maybe it should happen, but when it does happen, it will hurt and you will protest and you will be condemned for any affection you still possess for those figures.
However, in Marta Randall’s comment there (screencapped by rcade), she casts doubt on this being a one-time lapse.
Robert Silverberg edited 10 editions of the acclaimed SF anthology New Dimensions. When he handed the reins to Marta Randall in the early 1980s, she said he told her "if my title page had only women's names on it, he'd remove his name from the anthology." https://t.co/gZCqLXryi4pic.twitter.com/H5d0xQJXAc
…Instead of building upon the story, characters, and conflicts that Fantastic Beasts torturously established, The Crimes of Grindelwald layers on further exposition and introduces yet more new characters. Even a character I thought was safely dead is once again alive! Remember poor Credence (Ezra Miller), the moody teen who sometimes turns into a screaming cloud of smoke? I swear he got disintegrated in the New York City subway at the end of the previous movie, but now here he is moping around Paris rooftops, trying to find his mom. In my opinion he should chill out; he’s got cheekbones to die for and a hot girlfriend who’s also a huge snake, which seems like a scenario out of any goth teen’s dreams….
Almost a month and a half after it was first announced at New York Comic-Con, Marvel has pulled the plug on its latest Star Wars miniseries, Shadow of Vader, bringing an awkward end to the saga the publisher created by booting writer Chuck Wendig from the book in the first place.
Wendig made waves last month when he explained in a lengthy series of tweets that he had been fired from the Shadow of Vader title—at that point mere days after the series had been publicly unveiled—with the writer pinning the reasoning as allegedly down to an editor citing Wendig’s coarse language on social media, combined with the writer’s discussion of U.S. politics online. When initially asked, a Marvel Comics representative would not confirm why Wendig was suddenly off the book. It was the latest in a line of recent incidents in the pop culture space over hollow calls for civil discourse in the wake of targeted campaigns of harassment.
(6) IN TIMES TO COME. Congratulations to WIndycon 2019’s guests!
Windycon 46 will be held November 15-17 in Westin Lombard, IL. The guests are:
Author GoH: Elizabeth Moon
Artist GoH: Mitchell Bentley
Fan GoH: Chris Barkley
Toastmistress: Lee Martindale
Next year’s theme is “Space Opera”
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]
Born November 17, 1915 – Raymond F. Jones, Writer who is best remembered for his novel This Island Earth, which was made into a movie which was then skewered in Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie. However, he produced a significant number of science fiction novels and short stories which were published in magazines such as Thrilling Wonder Stories, Astounding Stories, and Galaxy, including “Rat Race” and “Correspondence Course”, which respectively earned Hugo and Retro Hugo nominations. (Died 1994.)
Born November 17, 1925 – Rock Hudson, Oscar-nominated Actor whose best-known genre role was in The Martian Chronicles miniseries; he also played the President in the alt-history miniseries World War III. Other roles included The Golden Blade, based on a One Thousand and One Nights folktale; Embryo, about artificial gestational chambers in a much less benign scenario than Bujold’s; and Seconds, about transplanting the minds of wealthy elderly people into fresh young bodies. (Died 1985.)
Born November 17, 1931 – Dennis McHaney, Writer and Critic. Pulp writers in particular seem to attract scholars, both amateur and professional. Robert E. Howard was not an exception. So I give you this individual who, between 1974 and 2008, published The Howard Review and The Robert E. Howard Newsletter. Oh, but that was hardly all he did, as he created reference works such as The Fiction of Robert E. Howard – A Pocket Checklist, Robert E. Howard in Oriental Stories, Magic Carpet and The Souk, and The Fiction of Robert E. Howard: A Quick Reference Guide. A listing of his essays and other works would take an entire page. It has intriguing entries such as Frazetta Trading Cards, The Short, Sweet Life and Slow Agonizing Death of a Fan’s Magazine, and The Films of Steve Reeves. Fascinating… (Died 2011.)
Born November 17, 1944 – Danny DeVito, 74, Oscar-nominated Actor, Director, and Producer whose best-known genre role was as The Penguin in Batman Returns (for which he received a Saturn nomination), but he also had roles in Matilda (which he directed, and which was based on the Roald Dahl novel of the same name), Mars Attacks!, Men in Black, Big Fish, Junior, and the black comedy cult film Death to Smoochy, about an anthropomorphic character actor, which JJ thought was hilarious. He provided the voice for the credential detective Whiskers in Last Action Hero, as well as for characters in Look Who’s Talking Now, Space Jam, the My Little Pony movie, Hercules, The Lorax, Animal Crackers, and the forthcoming Dumbo.
Born November 17, 1966 – Ed Brubaker, 52, Writer and Artist of comic boooks and graphic novels. Sandman Presents: Dead Boy Detectives, I’d consider his first genre work. Later work for DC and Marvel included The Authority, Batman, Captain America, Daredevil, Catwoman, and The Uncanny X-Men. If I may single out but one series, it’d be the one he did with writer Greg Rucka which was Gotham Central. It’s Gotham largely without Batman, but with the villains, so the Gotham Police Department has to deal with them by themselves; grim and well done. In 2016, he joined the writing staff for the Saturn-winning Westworld series, where he co-wrote the episode “Dissonance Theory” with Jonathan Nolan. He’s had numerous nominations and wins for Harvey and Eisner Awards, as well as a Stoker nomination for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel.
Born November 17, 1971 – David Ramsey, 47, Actor and Martial Artist, who is best known for his role in the the Arrowverse (Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow) as John Diggle/Spartan, but he also had roles in The Nutty Professor and the pandemic film Fatal Contact, and has appeared in episodes of Ghost Whisperer, Space: Above and Beyond, Journeyman, and Charmed.
Born November 17, 1978 – Tom Ellis, 40, Actor from Wales who is currently playing Lucifer Morningstar in the Lucifer TV series based on the character from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. It’s quite good. He’s also had roles in Doctor Who, Once Upon a Time, Messiah, The Strain, and Merlin.
Born November 17, 1978 – Rachel McAdams, 40, Oscar-nominated Actor from Canada who played the titular character in the The Time Traveler’s Wife, a film based on the Clarke- and Campbell-nominated novel of the same name, which she followed up genre-wise by earning Saturn nominations for playing Irene Adler in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films and the terrorists’ target in the creepy Red Eye. She also had lead roles in Dr. Strange, Midnight in Paris, and another time-travel movie, About Time. Her sole series work is apparently in an episode of Earth: Final Conflict, and she had a voice role as The Mother in an animated version of The Little Prince.
Born November 17, 1983 – Christopher Paolini, 35, Writer known for the Inheritance Cycle, which consists of the books Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance, the first of which was made into a Saturn-nominated film and a videogame of the same name. In December of this year, The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, the first book in a series called Tales of Alagaësia, will be published.
Raymond F. Jones would have been 103 today. He’s not much remembered these days, but he was an interesting writer of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. His career continued into the 1970s — his last story appeared in Ted White’s Fantastic in 1978. In his memory I’ve compiled this set of reviews of his stories, that I wrote based on reading several old magazines in my collection.
(9) TRIMBLES TAKE THE HIGH ROAD. Bjo and John Trimble responded on Facebook to Steve Davidson withdrawing Amazing Stories sponsorship of their GoH expenses at the 2019 NASFiC after they decided to continue as Arisia 2019 GoHs.
This is Steve Davidson’s reaction to our decision to attend Arisia. He makes some assumptions that we don’t agree with, but we’re not about to get into a “he said” “they said” conversation here. Suffice it to say that we feel strongly that Arisia is making an attempt to deal with their former transgressions, including offering space at the 2019 con to discuss this with people willing to do so. We look forward to that meeting. It may be a worthwhile contribution to something that has not yet been openly addressed in fandom.
(10) JOURNEY PLANET CALLING. Chuck Serface says the Journey Planet theme issue he’s working on is looking for contributors:
A reminder to all that Christopher J Garcia and I are co-editing an issue of Journey Planet dedicated to Silicon Valley. We’re looking for articles, creative writing, and art based on anything related to this part of the world — technology, history, the arts, cultures, peoples, politics, stories, poetry, whatever strikes your interest. Our deadline for submissions is December 10, 2018, and we’ll get the issue out before the end of the calendar year. Send your entries to [email protected]!
It’s common practice in SFF for women to initialize their first names (or flat-out take on male pseudonyms). I have been told vociferously by one of my readers that this practice has nothing to do with any bias against women in the genre; nevertheless, it is puzzling that men don’t seem to do it. In any event, the “G.” stands for Geraldine, and this is her second Ace Double, the first being The Light of Lilith, which I have not read.
I was on the subway recently, enjoying some of the lovely art created by local artists as part of the TTC’s Sketching The Line campaign. Curious to find out if the artists were paid for their contributions, I submitted a query through the artintransit.ca website listed on the posters and got a timely answer from Antonina MacDonald, sponsorships and events specialist for Pattison, the outdoor advertising giant.
“They are not compensated… in the form of money. It [compensation] is provided in the form of exposure on our subways and buses.”
This was not the answer I had expected from Canada’s largest outdoor advertising company that’s part of an international corporation with 39,000 employees worldwide and annual sales that have grown to $8.4 billion annually.
…One of my favourite authors, Harlan Ellison, said it best in the documentary Dreams With Sharp Teeth: there is no value in publicity for starving artists.
Laid out on the shrinking Aletsch Glacier, this huge mosaic is actually made from 125,000 drawings and messages about climate change.
They measure 2,500 sq m (26,910 sq ft), and were created by children from all over the world.
“WE ARE THE FUTURE GIVE US A CHANCE,” urged one poster, standing out against the snow.
Seen from above, the whole picture read: “STOP GLOBAL WARMING #1.5 DEGREES C”
(14) HWA YA. The Horror Writers Association announced the Table of Contents for its next anthology for young readers, New Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark edited by Jonathan Maberry
1. “The Funeral Portrait” by Laurent Linn
2. “The Carved Bear” by Brendan Reichs
3. “Don’t You See the Cat?” by Gaby Triana
4. “The Golden Peacock” by Alethea Kontis
5. “Strange Music” by Joanna Parypinski
6. “Copy and Paste Kill” by Barry Lyga
7. “The House on the Hill” by Micol Ostow
8. “Jingle Jangle: by Kim Ventrella
9. “The Knock-Knock Man” by Brenna Yovanoff
10. “The Weeping Woman” by Courtney Alameda
11. “The Neighbor” by Amy Lukavics
12. “Tag, You’re It” by Nancy Lambert
13. “The Painted Skin” by Jamie Ford
14. “Lost to the World” by John Dixon
15. “The Bargain” by Aric Cushing
16. “Lint Trap” by Jonathan Auxier
17. “Cries of the Cat” by Josh Malerman
18. “The Open Window” by Christopher Golden
19. “The Skelly Horse by Trisha Wooldridge
20. “The Umbrella Man by Gary N. Braunbeck
21. “The Green Grabber” by D.J. MacHale
22. “Brain Spiders” by Luis Alberto Urrea and Rosario Urrea
23. “Hachishakusama” by Catherine Jordan
24. “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board” by Margaret Stohl
25. “In Stitches” by Michael Northrop
26. “The Bottle Tree” by Kami Garcia
27. “The Ghost in Sam’s Closet: by R. L. Stine
28. “Rap Tap” by Sherrilyn Kenyon
29. “The Garage” by Tananarive Due
30. “Don’t Go into the Pumpkin Patch at Night” by Sheri White
31. “Pretty Girls Make Graves” by Tonya Hurley
32. “Whistle Past the Graveyard” by Zac Brewer
33. Title TBD by James A. Moore
34. “Mud” by Linda Addison
35. “The Tall Ones” by Madeleine Roux
(15) CALLING SANTA. Congratulations to Juniper Books for finding a way to make Harry Potter even more expensive to buy! These Harry Potter Sets in a luxurious traveling case sell for $275.
(16) A KIND OF SHREK QUILT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Movie remakes, right? Gotta love ‘em, right? (Or maybe I was looking for a different word.) Well, apparently someone loves them; about 200 someones in the case of Shrek Retold—a retelling of the first movie by a large group of artists, each using her or his own style. The Verge ( “Over 200 artists got together to remake Shrek”) has the story and the Retold trailer. The release is coming 29 November on on the 3GI website.
The internet’s favorite ogre may already be headed for another Hollywood-backed installment, but fans of the fantasy parody aren’t waiting around for its release. Instead, hundreds of artists have collaborated on their own scene-by-scene retelling of the first Shrek movie. Produced by Wisconsin comedy group 3GI, each artist brings their own style into the mix, meaning there’s everything from live-action bits to CGI and pixel art thrown into the same film. The project looks absurd in the best possible way, like a viral eBaum’s World video for 2018.
Friday’s media event also announced the launch of The Paramount Project to rebuild the ranch’s Western Town. The 24-month projected rebuilding effort is organized by the Park Service’s nonprofit partner the Santa Monica Mountains Fund. You can get more information on the Project and contribute at www.samofund.org/2018/11/15/the-paramount-project/.
“This was a very emotional, iconic place, it captured history of the area and of Los Angeles,” Fund board president Sara Horner noted. “It’s globally significant, it is locally significant and culturally significant.
“Park Services, as you can imagine, is reeling from the losses,” she added. “So they will put together an assessment of their losses, and then we will refine the direction of the plan in place – which will probably change. But there is a plan of what we would like and a schedule for how it will get built, and the Santa Monica Mountains Fund will spearhead the fundraising for that.”
Horner said several movie studios have already called the fund inquiring about how they can help. Her organization is also planning meetings with location managers and other industry professionals to do informal surveys of what they would like to see in the rebuilt Western Town. Due to rigorous Park Service guidelines on what can and cannot be built on their land, she can’t say exactly, but Horner expects a combination of the setting looking somewhat like it did before the fire and new facilities to help the film industry to be up two years from now
Today, the National Parks Service gave LAist a tour of the ranch post-fire. Little except smoldering piles of wood and cleared land remained of what was once a backdrop to legendary TV shows like The Cisco Kid and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, rcade, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rick Moen.]