… It is particularly saddening to see someone who was considered a legend in the field reveal themselves to be as racist, transphobic, and bigoted as Monteleone has. But more important than lamenting the self-immolation of one person is the direct harm those comments and actions cause to so many others.
Allowing Monteleone to remain in the organisation and to attend HWA events will be putting a large number of people directly in harm’s way. It will also show the HWA is complicit rather than active in the face of hate speech….
I’m writing to add my voice to the chorus of members demanding Tom Monteleone be expelled from the organization and barred from attending all HWA events going forward. His actions on social media, and most recently his statements on the disgusting “Facebook Has AIDS” podcast, have revealed his true character to all.
Specifically, his racist, transphobic, and bigoted comments aimed at fellow HWA members, as well as whole classes of people, fly in the face of what the HWA stands for. I believe that maintaining ties with Mr. Monteleone in the organization and allowing him entry to future HWA-sanctioned events such as StokerCon will not only put fellow members in harm’s way but also invite controversy overall.
Brian Keene announced that the Borderlands Boot Camp, which Monteleone helped found, will be rebranded so that it does not share a name with his anthology series.
Scares That Care adamantly condemns the recent comments made on Facebook and a podcast by one of the founders of Borderlands Boot Camp. Effective immediately, Borderlands Boot Camp (which became part of the Scares That Care family of events in 2022) will be rebranded as the Scares That Care Writers Workshop.
We are also announcing that effective immediately, two (2) annual scholarships for marginalized writers (writers of color, writers from the LGBTQIA+ community, writers with disabilities, writers suffering from economic hardships, etc.) will be available yearly. While interested parties will be responsible for their travel and lodging, Scares That Care will waive the $750 tuition fee for these two individuals. Interested parties can contact board members Brian Keene ([email protected]) or Sonora Taylor ([email protected]) to inquire. Deadline for this year’s applicants is Friday, February 17th.
The Scares That Care Board of Directors — Joe Ripple, Alfred Guy, Brian Keene, Jason Cherry, Sonora Taylor, Angel Hollman, Andrew Ely, and Donna Thew — and workshop organizer Mary SanGiovanni.
In light of recent abhorrent public statements and behaviors (on social media and via other media), we, the Camp Necon Board, feel obligated to take this opportunity to publicly state that we stand against bigotry and prejudice and are dedicated to our efforts to make Camp Necon a welcoming and safe experience for ALL attendees. We cannot be idle while friends and colleagues are deliberately maligned and their well-earned achievements mocked. It cannot stand, and we will not allow it at any space Camp Necon inhabits (be that online or in person).
The legendary Charles L. Grant, often called “The Godfather of Camp Necon,” consistently championed new voices in horror and always insisted that, “By growing the pie, we all eat more.” It is in Charlie’s spirit and tradition that we’d like to state that by championing not just new, but diverse voices within the genre we believe we all eat BETTER. In that regard, we are moving forward with new initiatives to ensure ours is a place where all voices feel welcome and heard, in addition to taking steps to address present and future barriers to safety and inclusivity. We will continue to work to ensure ours is the kind of event that brings people together in an atmosphere of acceptance and collegiality. We hope to continue to have your support.
We understand that statements such as this may have the effect of “self-selecting” membership in our Campers’ roll. We are fine with that. If you do not feel fully aligned with what Camp Necon has become or the direction we continue to head, please follow your conscience. We have made our choice and we stand by both it and our community….
Tom Monteleone encouraged me early in my writing career and gave me so much good advice. I thanked him in my acceptance speech when I won my first Bram Stoker Award. He published my collection A LITTLE AQUA BOOK OF MARINE TALES. He accepted two of my stories for BORDERLANDS anthologies. I asked him to write the introduction to WRITING IN THE DARK. He’s been a big supporter of me and my writing for many years. I have so many of his books on my shelves, and reading his short story “Wendigo’s Child” when I was a child myself was a formative experience for me. I used his IDIOT’S GUIDE TO WRITING A NOVEL as a textbook in my novel writing classes.
I admired him so much.
I’m sickened by the overt bigotry Tom has displayed over the last few days.
It doesn’t matter how good he’s been to me when he’s treated others so horribly. Once Tom was a role model for me in terms of artistry and professionalism. Now he’ll be a role model for what I hope never to become as a writer and member of the horror community as I grow older. I hope my mind never becomes so closed. I hope I never start to lash out from intolerance. I hope I never show such disrespect to people who I should view as colleagues. I hope I continue to build people up instead of tearing them down.
You taught me so many things over the years, Padrone. I suppose I should thank you for this final lesson. I just wish it was one I never had to learn.
… I said something early in this mess that may now be risky to say now.
I remember the Tom Monteleone I once knew, who I laughed with at I-Con in Long Island and at other places, with considerable fondness. I remember the Tom Monteleone who wrote (mostly) great columns about his experiences, for CEMETERY DANCE. I remember loving some of his fiction, including one novel he churned out for a subpar house that contained one of the worst sentence constructions I have ever read, and another I liked very much that existed in the “evil carnival” sub-subgenre. I harbor considerable affection for that Tom Monteleone of thirty-forty years ago, that none of this banishes. To me, the contrast with current events put that Tom Monteleone in a little memory vault. I do not apologize for feeling that way.
Alas, the Tom Monteleone of today, who ate that Tom Monteleone, was already present way back when, though his manifestations, bad as they could be, were intermittent.
I am mourning, at most, a minor but treasured acquaintance. But I still feel the loss.
That is the end of the risky part.
Understand that the Tom Monteleone I feel sorry for, today, is that one from thirty years ago. I think the one from today invited this fate, however seriously he now takes it, and I am pretty damn certain that there is no coming back from this. I am unsure whether he was still producing work, but he was certainly still an influential figure, an elder statesman, and an important editor, who in a few days of frenetic resentment set fire to his legacy. This is a tragedy, but in the Greek sense, where people suffer the fates their character calls for. This is the natural development of groundwork he laid.
What will happen to Tom Monteleone is that he will not shut up about this, and will continue to court the only audience that still cares about him, the people who share his resentments. He will become more and more fringe, a Theodore Beale of horror, a Kevin Sorbo of horror. I promise you. He will humiliate himself further and he will do it willingly…
40 years ago, in September 1982, I went to the USA, primarily to attend Chicon IV, the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago. The trip was paid for by TAFF, the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund, and one of the expectations is that anyone going on a TAFF Trip should write a report about it. That’s what I’ve done, finally. You can find it under ‘TAFF Trip’ in the menu bar above.
From the “Introduction”:
What I said before I left America to come home was: “I’ll write a short trip report, but do it quickly when I get back.”
As I recall, I wrote this in my next fanzine: “It were great!”
Well, it met the ‘short’ and ‘do it quickly’ criteria, but probably failed the ‘trip report’ hurdle.
So here we are. It has taken a mere 40 years, but is quite short. What more could you ask…?
[That’s what we call a rhetorical question, in the trade. You’re not supposed to answer it. Especially not like that, it’s not nice.]
(2) SCARES IN THE REAR-VIEW MIRROR. Scares That Care announced in a press release they are discontinuing their Charity Weekend event:
Since its founding in 2006, the Scares That Care charity has raised nearly $400,000 for organizations, children, and families impacted by illness, burns, or breast cancer. We’ve achieved that thanks to the generosity of you – our Scares That Care family. Due to rising costs involved in producing a show of this type, the Board of Directors has unanimously decided to discontinue our Charity Weekend event. This will allow us to focus on our other fundraising efforts, so that we can expand our goals. While we understand that many of you will be disappointed by this news, we ask you to remember that we have never been a charity that supports a convention. Rather, the convention has always supported the charity. As such, our overall mission continues, and we invite our Scares That Care family to support our other upcoming fundraisers and events. Details on our annual Christmas Dance, AuthorCon II, and other surprises are forthcoming.
Brian Keene added in his newsletter:
…But I do want to assure people that the convention was profitable. That’s not the issue. the issue is that we are a charity, and as a charity, we need to look at costs versus profit. The economy and rising costs in everything from fuel to food is hitting all of these big multi-media conventions….
(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Richard Butner and Veronica Schanoes in-person on Wednesday, August 17 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Masks welcome.
Richard Butner’s short fiction has appeared in Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, been shortlisted for the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Fountain Award, and nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award. His collection The Adventuristswas published by Small Beer Press in March. He lives in North Carolina, where he runs the annual Sycamore Hill Writers’ Conference.
Veronica Schanoes is a writer whose debut short story collection, Burning Girls and Other Stories, appeared in paperback from Tordotcom in June. She is also an associate professor in the English department of Queens College – CUNY. In both guises, she works with fairy tales and fantasy.
Where: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003. (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs)
1- to be beautiful. I mean, the eye is attracted to beautiful things, so beauty helps, but is not needed.
2- to be an accurate representation of your book. Again, if your character is a slim redhead and the cover model is a zaftig brunette (who is also very pretty) no one cares. Before they read the book, the readers don’t know that. And after they read the book they might leave a review that says “I don’t know where the cover brunette came from” but that won’t stop them promoting you if they loved the book.
3- be exactly what you envisioned in your head while writing the book. Unless of course, you’re an amazing cover artist on the side, and know exactly what sells in your genre or subgenre the month your book comes out.
4- (Contra insty trolls) signaling to the world how smart and sophisticated you are. (Unless you’re selling litewawy and little because the illusion of smart and sophisticated is essential there.)
She follows that beginning with a longer list of what covers are for.
The collection Westerns of the 40s (1977) surprised me when I saw who the editor was, Damon Knight. That pillar of the Science Fiction community published the award-winning anthology series Orbit for decades. But he also did a couple of books about Pulp SF from the 1930s and 1940s. So why not some Cowboy stories from the same time period?
The bigger surprise was who he chose for that book. Not your usual W. C. Tuttle, Luke Short and Walter Tompkins stuff. Nope, Clifford D. Simak, John D. MacDonald and Murray Leinster. Three of the seven were written by Science Fiction authors. Now you can make the case for John D. MacDonald’s true fame is in the detective/suspense field. This is true, but old John D. did write Science Fiction for a spell before he quit it because it was too easy….
Conan, King Kull, Cormac, Bran Mak Morn — names that conjure magic, characters often imitated, but never duplicated. These creations of Robert E. Howard (circa 1930) started the Sword and Sorcery boom of the 1960s and early 1970s. Then there are the barbarian warriors inspired by Howard — “Clonans,” as one writer recently referred to these sword-slinging, muscle-bound characters. A fair observation, but in some cases, not so true….
(7) WRITING FOR ANIMATION. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The For Eternia podcast has a lengthy interview with Tim Sheridan, who was one of the writers of Masters of the Universe: Revelation and also worked on a lot of other animated shows. Even if you haven’t watched the show, Sheridan has a lot of things to say about writing and storytelling.
Image Comics turns 30 this year and we’re ready to celebrate! This bundle is all about Image in the 2000s, including the debuts of well-loved series like Invincible Volume 1: Family Matters, The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone By, and Fear Agent: Final Edition Volume 1! On top of the new heroes, villains, and sagas the decade brought, this bundle also includes the continuing adventures of fan-favorite Image characters Spawn,The Darkness, and Savage Dragon. Grab this bundle and help support BINC (Book Industry Charitable Foundation)!
Daniel Dern comments on the deal: “At this price (range), if you have any interest in these Image titles — or even want to see if you’re interested — it’s a hard bargain to resist.
“(Note, I only recently discovered Eric Larsen’s Savage Dragon. They are great! A mix of whacky plots, text/character/art references to Marvel, DC and other bits, and more. (Caution: Lots of violence, sex, gore and bad science. If you want to start ’em from the beginning, Hoopla has them — the Archives editions have more per borrow (~25 issues each), but, IIRC, are in black-and-white, it’s possible (I haven’t checked) that the fewer-paged non-Archives are in color.)”
(9) RAYMOND BRIGGS (1934-2022). [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Writer and illustrator Raymond Briggs died August 9 aged 88. He is best known for The Snowman (which is genre, because it features a magical flying snowman), but a lot of his other work such as Fungus the Bogeyman is genre as well. He also wrote and drew the terribly depressing nuclear war graphic novel (also filmed) Where the Wind Blows, where a nice elderly British couple dies slowly of radiation poisoning in spite of attempting to follow the official UK government civil defense guidelines.
2008 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Fourteen years ago on this day, the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars premiered. It is the first fully animated film in the Star Wars franchise and takes place shortly after Episode II – Attack of the Clones, at the start of the Clone Wars.
Ok let me note that I was in the minority of individuals that really liked it. I liked the voice acting and thought the story was quite excellent. Yes, the animation was odd, but Lucas has the right to do what he wants as it’s his damn universe, not ours, something’s fans seem to keep forgetting.
It received largely hostile, and I mean hostile reviews mainly due to both the story here and the animation style which offended, well, almost everyone. Now that’s out of the way let’s look at it.
It was written by Henry Gilroy, Steven Melching and Scott Murphy. Keep the first writer in mind as he will go to be the writer on oh-so-stellar Star Wars: The Clone Wars which will run for seven series and over one hundred and thirty episodes.
The voice talent was second to none: Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Bradley Baker, Ian Abercrombie, Catherine Taber, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Daniels. Many of these will carry over into the later series. Tom Kane is the narrator here as he is in later series.
So why the hostile reaction? The style is an homage to the stylized looks of both Japanese anime and manga, something fans and critics alike weren’t expecting. Roger Ebert in his review said, “the characters have hair that looks molded from Play-Doh, bodies that seem arthritic, and moving lips on half-frozen faces—all signs that shortcuts were taken in the animation work.”
Curiously the New York Post in its review lauded the original Star Wars film for its depth of character development (huh?) saying of this film, “Director Dave Filoni is so concentrated on the action that we’re never given the chance to care who lives and who is blown into spare parts.”
Also curious is the claim that Star Wars: The Clone Wars did very poorly at the box office. Yes, compared to the live action films in the franchise it was a disaster, but animated features generally never do as well as live action films. (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the very rare exception.) It cost eight million to make and made sixty-three million in its first run, not bad at all. It obviously put a lot of asses in the seats that autumn.
Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give a middling forty percent. What I must note is Lucas had in mind all along a Star Wars: The Clone Wars series which debuted in October of that year. That series holds a ninety-three percent rating over there.
Oh, and the animation style for that series is the same. Just saying.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 10, 1896 — John Gloag. His first SF novel, Tomorrow’s Yesterday, depicts a race of cat people from the distant future observing human society. It was one of five SF novels and a double handful of short stories he wrote in the Thirties and Forties. (Died 1981.)
Born August 10, 1902 — Curt Siodmak. He is known for his work in horror and sf films such as The Wolf Man and Donovan’s Brain. The latter was made from his own novel and ISFDB notes it was part of the Dr. Patrick Cory series. He wrote quite a few other genre novels as well. Donovan’s Brain and just a few other works are available in digital form. (Died 2000.)
Born August 10, 1903 — Ward Moore. Author of Bring the Jubilee which everyone knows about as it’s often added to that mythical genre canon, and several more that I’m fairly sure almost no one knows of. More interestingly to me was that he was a keen writer of recipes. ISFDB documents that four of his appeared in Anne McCaffrey’s Cooking Out of This World: “Kidneys — Like Father Used to Make” and “Pea Soup — Potage Ste. Germaine“ being two of them. (Died 1978.)
Born August 10, 1913 — Noah Beery Jr. Genre-wise, he’s best remembered as Maj. William Corrigan on the Fifties classic SF film Rocketship X-M, but he showed up in other genre undertakings as well such as 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, The Six Million Dollar Man, Fantasy Island, Beyond Witch Mountain, The Ghost of Cypress Swamp and The Cat Creeps. I think he appeared in one of the earliest Zorro films made where he’s credited just as a boy, he’d be seven then, The Mark of Zorro which had Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and his father, Noah Beery Sr. (Died 1994.)
Born August 10, 1952 — David C. Smith, 70. He is best known for his fantasy novels, particularly those co-authored with Richard L. Tierney, featuring characters created by Robert E. Howard. Most notable are the six novels which involved Red Sonja. Those novels are available on Apple Books but not on Kindle.
Born August 10, 1955 — Tom Kidd, 67. Genre illustrator, he’s won an impressive seven Chelsey Awards. Though he didn’t win a Hugo for Best Professional Artist, he was nominated at Aussiecon Two, Nolacon, Conspiracy ‘87 and ConFiction. Since I’m fond of this Poul Anderson series, I’m giving you his cover for Maurai & Kith.
Born August 10, 1955 — Eddie Campbell, 67. Best known as the illustrator and publisher of From Hell (written by Alan Moore) which is, errr, interesting and won an IHG Award, and Bacchus, a series about the few Greek gods who have made to our time. Though not genre, I highly recommend The Black Diamond Detective Agency which he did. It’s adaptation of an as-yet unmade screenplay by C. Gaby Mitchell.
Born August 10, 1965 — Claudia Christian, 57. Best-known role is Commander Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5. She has done other genre roles such as being Brenda Lee Van Buren in The Hidden, Katherine Shelley in Lancelot: Guardian of Time, Quinn in Arena, Lucy in The Haunting of Hell House and Kate Dematti in Meteor Apocalypse. She’s had one-offs on Space Rangers, Highlander, Quantum Leap, Relic Hunter and Grimm. She’s Captain Belinda Blowhard on Starhyke, a six-episode series shot in ‘05 you can watch on Amazon Prime.
(12) WONG TO PEN DEADPOOL. Alyssa Wong and Martin Coccolo launch Deadpool’s next era in November.
Deadpool’s new ongoing series will be written by Alyssa Wong, known for her acclaimed work on thrilling books like Star Wars: Doctor Aphra and Iron Fist, and drawn by Martin Coccolo, the artist currently wowing readers in the action-packed Hulk vs. Thor: Banner of War crossover. The two rising Marvel stars will take out their pent up aggression on everyone’s pizza-faced, jabber-mouthed, misguided, hate-to-love, love-to-hate fave in new Deadpool adventures loaded with riotous violence and relentless body horror. Deadpool’s latest solo exploits will kick off with a bang as a new mercenary group sends Deadpool on one of his most dangerous missions, an intoxicating villain unleashes a twisted plan on Wade’s body with horrifying side effects, and a hot new romance arrives on the scene to drive Wade crazy!
The world knows Wade Wilson is one of the top mercenary/assassins in the Marvel Universe, even if he is simultaneously the most annoying one…but he’s pushing to make that recognition official as he auditions for the elite group known as the Atelier. Now, he has 48 hours to kill one of the world’s most famous supervillains. Only problem? He’s been kidnapped, and something…strange…is GROWING INSIDE HIM.
“I love chaos. And what is Deadpool if not chaos incarnate? I’m honored to take the reins for Wade’s next solo adventure–expect romance, expect body horror, and expect a wild time!” Wong promises….
Jason Momoa doesn’t exactly love that he keeps dying, if you really want to get into it. “My kids are always like, ‘Are you gonna die again? You always die,” he says, a little forlornly. “I obviously made a name for myself dying so if you see me it’s like, ‘Momoa’s gonna jump on the bomb, I know it!’”
Thus far he has been shot in the head, blown up, smothered, died by suicide, had his throat slashed, and been stabbed in both the stomach and the chest. It was watching his most recent death, in Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi spectacular Dune with his 12-year-old son, that really got to him. “It was pretty heart wrenching, cause I was like, ‘I’m right here buddy!’ But he was like, ‘Papa nooooooooo,’ he recalls, howling like a dog at the moon. “I said: ‘Listen dude: if you’re gonna go out, go out big.’”
Which might make it sound as though the Aquaman actor is a mere mortal, but if you saw Jason Momoa walking down the street (and not, say, emerging from the ocean with a trident in his hand, and the promise of avenging his sea queen mother glinting in his eye) you might still wonder if this towering man didn’t arrive on dry land using a branch of coral as a surfboard, having caught a wave from a kingdom far more exciting than anywhere on planet earth….
(16) PRIME TARGET. Cyber warfare is unleashed in The Enigma Factor, first in the twelve-book Enigma Series by Charles Breakfield and Rox Burkey.
A brilliant programmer is targeted by cyber predators! Jacob Michaels, computer network security-tester extraordinaire, tries to settle into a quiet life of work to polish his cyber security skills after the death of his mother. Jacob is unaware that his growing reputation makes him a person of interest. Cyber-criminals are hunting for new recruits. They target this brilliant programmer to seduce him into joining their cause. More people are hunting him than just the Russian cyber kingpin. Jacob sets off to find those who are targeting him. He discovers he’s in the crosshairs of previously unknown global experts. Of course, having his identity erased puts him front and center above anything else.
Buzz, when looking for the easy way, makes a ghastly judgement error and inadvertently crosses the line to the darknet. He pleads to his best friend Jacob for help. Jacob, brilliant as he is, doesn’t have enough experience to help Buzz on his own. Jacob battles against global cyber masterminds using his knowledge of programming, identity theft, and hacking. He is pulled up short when his security knowledge is dwarfed following his introduction to the distractingly beautiful encryptionist Petra. Jacob’s challenge is how to keep ahead of the criminals and learn who to trust. In their debut TechnoThriller, The Enigma Factor, award-winning authors Breakfield and Burkey weave a complex tale of danger, intrigue, and international cyber combat. They use a relevant technology foundation, then layer on travel, romance, humor and mystery. Like rust, the cat and mouse game of the new cyber warfare age never sleeps.
The book is published by ICABOD Press and is available worldwide across all platforms including from Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and as an audiobook.
Charles Breakfield is a technology expert in security, networking, voice, and anything digital. Rox Burkey is a technology professional who excels at optimizing technology and business investments. Together these Texas authors create award-winning stories that resonate with males and females, as well as young and experienced adults.
Chinese astronomers aim to peer for the first time into the cosmic “dark ages,” an unexplored era about 200 million years after the Big Bang, by using the Moon as a shield to block out noisy radio signals caused by human activity on Earth, reports the South China Morning Post.
The Discovering the Sky at the Longest Wavelength (DSL) mission envisions sending a fleet of satellites to the Moon that could capture ultralong radio waves made by hydrogen atoms in the darkness before cosmic dawn, when the first stars were born bursting with radiant light….
Called the Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT), the proposal is the brainchild of Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay, a robotics technologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. On Tuesday, LCRT was selected for initial “Phase 1” funding ($125,000) by NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, which aims to explore advanced, far-future technologies.
LCRT is still in “very early stages of development,” said Bandyopadhyay in an email, noting that “the objective of Phase 1 is to study the feasibility of the LCRT concept.”
“[W]e will mostly be focusing on the mechanical design of LCRT, searching for suitable craters on the Moon, and comparing the performance of LCRT against other ideas that have been proposed in the literature,” he added.
Bandyopadhyay envisions building the LCRT in a crater that measures about three to five kilometers (two to three miles) in diameter. The telescope’s wire-mesh scaffolding could be delivered and erected by wall-climbing robots, such as NASA’s DuAxel rovers, which would be capable of scaling the vertical slopes of the crater…
…“LCRT could enable tremendous scientific discoveries in the field of cosmology by observing the early universe in the 10–50m wavelength band (i.e., 6–30MHz frequency band), which has not been explored by humans to date.”
In particular, the telescope could shed new light on the mysterious processes that occurred more than 13 billion years ago, as the first stars in the universe were being born, according to a 2018 paper led by Bandyopadhyay. It could also examine fine details about exoplanets that orbit other stars….
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Mario Strikers: Battle League,” the Screen Junkies say that this newest edition of the Mario franchise you can have your favorite Mario characters fight each other in a battle royale that’s vaguely like soccer except people actually score goals and you can drop kick your opponents into a giant banana. “This is a fun family game to play together,” the narrator says, “which will naturally lead to you cussing out your friends and family while you’re in front of the TV.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]
(1) TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE.The Salam Award, which promotes imaginative fiction in and about Pakistan, released this video by Mushba Said to remind Pakistani writers they have until midnight July 31 to submit entries for the award. See full guidelines at the link. Participants must either be currently residing in Pakistan, or be of Pakistani birth/descent.
The origins of Alice’s tumble into Wonderland and its long cultural afterlife—everything from Carroll’s tentative first sketches to cheery, Alice-themed advertisements for Guinness and tomato juice produced a hundred years later (“Welcome to a Wonderland of good drinking!”)—are the subject of a beguiling new exhibition, “Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser,” at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London.
Exploring its origins, adaptations and reinventions over 157 years, this immersive and theatrical show charts the evolution of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland from manuscript to a global phenomenon beloved by all ages.
From rabbit holes to psychedelic mushrooms, flamingos to hedgehogs, Wonderland is the perfect world to explore in virtual reality. Curious Alice encourages audiences to reward their curiosity by navigating a fantastical landscape, interacting with the book’s famous characters and completing a series of curious challenges. Race against the clock to capture the White Rabbit’s missing glove; solve the Caterpillar’s mind-bending riddles; defeat the Queen of Hearts in a curious game of croquet.
(3) WENDIG AND KHAW. Powell’s Books presents “Chuck Wendig in Conversation With Cassandra Khaw,” promoting Wendig’s new book, on July 29 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for the virtual event here.
A family returns to their hometown — and to the dark past that haunts them still — in The Book of Accidents (Del Rey), a new masterpiece of literary horror by Chuck Wendig, bestselling author of Wanderers…. Wendig will be joined in conversation by Cassandra Khaw, game writer and author of Nothing but Blackened Teeth.
An introductory essay published in 2005, “Driving the Machine Backward Through the Graveyard of Dead Narrative,” explains the evolution of genre poetry through reference to Johanna Russ’s 1971 critical essay, “The Wearing Out of Genre Materials.” Which argues that genre tropes progress through three distinct stages: “Innocence” which seems to be characterized by novelty and sense of wonder, “Plausibility,” which describes how authors use the rules of verisimilitude to support readers suspension of disbelief, and finally “Decadence” where a petrification of genre rules, “stylized, like ballet,” tempts writers to break long established conventions, for instance, combining magic with aliens and dinosaurs. Although Russ writes that it is not possible for a genre to return to Innocence, Beatty argues that it is possible for genre poetry to create a “liminal space” where tropes from fantasy and science become metaphor for human experience, thereby avoiding Decadence and possibly returning to the novelty and energy of Innocence.
With a pirate’s eyepatch and a scowl that seems as fixed and enigmatic as Mona Lisa’s smile, Snake Plissken, the hero of John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, drifts through a cataclysmic future like a man condemned, forced into a mission that, at best, might save a world he doesn’t care about anyway. The allegiances he forges along the way are hard-earned but only temporary, swiftly discarded as he survives one assignment and looks ahead to another one. He is deeply suspicious of authority, too, from the two-faced benefactor who’s forcing him through an impossible gauntlet to an aloof president who’s openly contemptuous of him and others like him.
In other words, Snake Plissken is John Carpenter, and Escape from New York was the first of three films in the 1980s in which Kurt Russell would serve as his charismatic stand-in – an iconoclast who had no home in the new Hollywood, but would take up residence on its fringes. As Plissken runs and guns his way through a Manhattan that’s been turned into maximum security prison, it’s easy to imagine it as an allegory for a film production, where Carpenter weaves his way through an impossible job with the help of fellow ne’er-do-wells that he’ll have to leave behind at the end. If he survives, it’s onto the next gauntlet….
(6) THE SHARP END. Netflix dropped a trailer for season 2 of The Witcher. Premieres December 17.
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
July 11, 2011 — A decade ago, Alphas premiered on Syfy. It was created by Zak Penn and Michael Karnow. It is in the same universe as Warehouse 13 and Eureka, a fact confirmed when Vanessa Calder who is a recurring character on Warehouse 13 appeared in one episode of the series. (Thanks Andrew (not Werdna) for confirming that in a recent Scroll.) It had far too many Executive Producers and Producers to list here, a puzzle for a series that would last but two seasons and twenty four episodes. It starred David Strathairn, Ryan Cartwright, Warren Christie, Azita Ghanizada, Laura Mennell, Malik Yoba and Erin Way. Critics in general loved it and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give a most excellent seventy seven rating. Syfy cancelled it on an unresolved cliffhanger.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 11, 1899 — E. B. White. Author of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, both of which are surely genre. Along with William Strunk Jr., he is the co-author of the The Elements of Style English language style guide. (Died 1985.)
Born July 11, 1913 — Cordwainer Smith. Pen name of Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger. Most of his fiction was set in The Instrumentality of Mankind series which I know I read once upon a time in fragments. The usual suspects are well stocked with his novels and short stories including Scanners Live in Vain, a most excellent novella. (Died 1966.)
Born July 11, 1920 — Yul Brynner. The Gunslinger in Westworld and its sequel Futureword. He would also play Carson, a human warrior in the post-apocalyptic The Ultimate Warrior. Are we considering The King and I genre or even genre adjacent? If we are, he played King Mongkut in the short-lived Anna and the King TV series as well. (Died 1985.)
Born July 11, 1925 — David Graham, 96. The voice of Daleks in the early years of Doctor Who including two non-canon films, Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.; his voice work made him a sought after worker and he’d be used on Thunderbirds, Asterix & Obelix Take On Caesar, Timeslip, Moomin, Stingray and even the recent Thunderbirds Are Go. And yes, he’s still doing voice work as his last genre work was for the Nebula-75 series just last year.
Born July 11, 1950 — Bruce McGill, 71. His first role was as Director Eugene Matuzak in Time Cop. He later got one-offs in Quantum Leap (twice), Babylon 5, Voyager and Tales from the Crypt. He’s in the television remake of The Man Who Fell to Earth as Vernon Gage. If MacGyver counts as genre, he has the recurring role of Jack Dalton.
Born July 11, 1956 — Amitav Ghosh, 65. Author of the absolutely brilliant The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium and Discovery which won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Really just go read it and we’ll discuss it over a cup of chai masala. His newest work is about the medieval Bengali tale about the forest (Sundarbans) goddess, Bon Bibi.
Born July 11, 1958 — Alan Gutierrez, 63. An artist and illustrator, specializing in SF and fantasy cover art. His first professional sale was to the now defunct semi-professional Fantasy Book in 1983. He then began producing work for Baen Books, Tor Books,Pequod Press and other publishers. He has also painted covers for Analog magazine, Aboriginal Science Fiction, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and other SF magazines. He’s been nominated for five Asimov’s Readers Awards and two Analog Awards as well.
Born July 11, 1984 — Serinda Swan, 37. She first graces our corner of the multiverse in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief as Aphrodite. Later on she’s in Tron: Legacy as Siren #2. Currently she’s Medusa in The Inhumans. She’s got one-offs in Supernatural, Smallville and The Tomorrow People.
(9) PUT TO THE TEST. DUST’s new sci-fi short film release is “Intelligentia”.
Lisa receives a butler A.I. to Turing test, and over the course of the procedure, she discovers the A.I. is not what it seems and her entire world disrupted.
(10) FLIGHT TO THE EDGE OF SPACE. The 70-year-old British billionaire and crew members of Virgin Galactic launched the commercial space plane Unity from New Mexico, reached the edge of space and landed safely back at the spaceport on Sunday. The New York Times posted “Highlights From Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Flight”.
…The rocket plane, a type called SpaceShipTwo, is about the size of an executive jet. In addition to the two pilots, there can be up to four people in the cabin. The particular SpaceShipTwo that flew on Sunday is named V.S.S. Unity.
To get off the ground, Unity was carried by a larger plane to an altitude of about 50,000 feet. There, Unity was released, and the rocket plane’s motor ignited. The acceleration made people on board feel a force up to 3.5 times their normal weight on the way to an altitude of more than 50 miles.
At the top of the arc, those on board were able to see the blackness of space as well as the curve of Earth from the plane’s windows. They also got out of their seats and experienced about four minutes of apparent weightlessness. Fifty miles up, Earth’s downward gravitational pull is essentially just as strong as it is on the ground; rather, the passengers were falling at the same pace as the plane around them.
The two tail booms at the back of the space plane then rotated up to a “feathered” configuration that created more drag and stability, allowing the plane to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere more gently. This configuration SpaceShipTwo like a badminton shuttlecock, which always falls with the pointy side oriented down, than a plane.
Still, the forces felt by the passengers on the way down were greater than on the way up, reaching six times the force of gravity.
Branson gets all the attention – but who piloted the mission and were the other crew members?
The pilots are David Mackay and Michael Masucci….
In addition to Mr. Branson, three Virgin Galactic employees joined the flight to evaluate how the experience will be for future paying customers. They were Beth Moses, the chief astronaut instructor; Colin Bennett, lead operations engineer; and Sirisha Bandla, vice president of government affairs and research operations.
In 2018 The New Yorker profiled a predecessor in “Virgin Galactic’s Rocket Man”, “The ace pilot risking his life to fulfill Richard Branson’s billion-dollar quest to make commercial space travel a reality.”
At 5 a.m. on April 5th, Mark Stucky drove to an airstrip in Mojave, California, and gazed at SpaceShipTwo, a sixty-foot-long craft that is owned by Virgin Galactic, a part of the Virgin Group. Painted white and bathed in floodlight, it resembled a sleek fighter plane, but its mission was to ferry thousands of tourists to and from space.
Stucky had piloted SpaceShipTwo on two dozen previous test flights, including three of the four times that it had fired its rocket booster, which was necessary to propel it into space. On October 31, 2014, he watched the fourth such flight from mission control; it crashed in the desert, killing his best friend. On this morning, Stucky would be piloting the fifth rocket-powered flight, on a new iteration of the spaceship. A successful test would restore the program’s lustre.
Stucky walked into Virgin Galactic’s large beige hangar. He is fifty-nine and has a loose-legged stroll, tousled salt-and-pepper hair, and sunken, suntanned cheeks. In other settings, he could pass for a retired beachcomber. He wears the smirk of someone who feels certain that he’s having more fun than you are…
(11) SKYSCRAPER CAT. CBS This Morning devoted a short segment to the 3-D cat billboard in Tokyo that was recently covered by the Scroll. Their report includes video callbacks to several previous 3-D billboards.
It was about 2 a.m. on a Sunday when the gross-out horror-comedy “Class of Nuke ’Em High” started playing at the Mahoning Drive-In. This was the last screening at TromaDance, an annual showcase of low-budget horror and sex comedies produced by the Queens-based Troma movie studio. Earlier that evening, about 600 cars had piled into the drive-in in Lehighton, Pa., but by 2 a.m., only the die-hards remained. Kevin Schmidt, an extra in the film, was among them.
He had driven to the Mahoning from Summit, N.J., and hadn’t seen the movie projected on screen since it was first shown in Jersey City in December 1986. “This is the only time I can justify driving 100 miles to see a movie,” Mr. Schmidt said much earlier in the evening.
By the time the evening was over, it had been another success for the Mahoning, a 72-year-old drive-in theater that was left for dead just seven years ago….
…Movie screenings at the Mahoning Drive-In often feel like events. Films are shown in double and triple features, sandwiched between older (and often bizarre) movie trailers. You might take in “Escape From New York” and “Invasion U.S.A.,” which play after vintage church advertisements (“Worship at the church of your choice”) or an anti-cable-TV screed (“Don’t let pay TV be the monster in your living room”). It is, in the words of Mr. Schmidt, “a special place.”…
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Director Mel Stuart reminiscences about Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in this short from 2011 that Warner Bros. released two weeks ago.
[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Dann.]
(1) AIRCHECK. WNYC’s The Takeaway had a segment with Victor LaValle and Silvia Moreno-Garcia today: “New Generation of Writers of Color Reckon with H.P. Lovecraft’s Racism”. Both authors discuss their first encounters with Lovecraft and how later readings opened them up to recognizing more of Lovecraft’s personal failings. The Retro Hugos are discussed and criticized by Moreno-Garcia.
This weekend, the television show “Lovecraft Country,” premieres on HBO. Based on a book by Matt Ruff, the show is set during the Jim Crow South, and combines the actual terrors of racism with the fantastical horror of author H.P. Lovecraft, who wrote most of his work in the early 20th century. In real life, Lovecraft was extremely racist, and his personal letters reveal his opposition to interracial relationships, as well as his support of Adolf Hitler.
While his influence has been felt in fantasy and horror for decades, a new generation of writers, particularly writers of color, have recently begun to reckon with his bigoted views in their own fiction.
The Takeaway speaks with two of the acclaimed authors who have worked to reclaim Lovecraft’s work for women and people of color, Victor LaValle is the author of “The Changeling,” and Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of “Mexican Gothic.”
(2) DELANY LECTURE TO BE WEBCAST. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Yale’s annual Donald Windham Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes are going online this year. That’s good news for SFF fans, because it means that we’ll get to tune in for their keynote guest speaker Samuel R. Delany. Delany will deliver the 2020 Windham-Campbell Lecture on the subject “Why I write.” The lecture will be cast at 5:00 p.m. Eastern on September 16 at windhamcampbell.org. (“Samuel R. Delany to Deliver the 2020 Windham-Campbell Lecture”.)
The Arecibo Observatory, one of the largest single-aperture radio telescopes in the world, has suffered extensive damage after an auxiliary cable snapped and crashed through the telescope’s reflector dish.
…In addition to halting scientific observations at the telescope, the accident is sad news for anyone inspired by Arecibo’s status as a cultural icon and its pioneering role in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).
The observatory was written into the plot of Carl Sagan’s bestselling novel Contact, as well as its 1997 film adaptation. It has also served as the backdrop in the James Bond film GoldenEye, the X-Files episode “Little Green Men,” and the multiplayer map for the game Battlefield 4, among its many other popular depictions.
(4) SCALZI’S NINETIES MOVIE REVIEWS. Since Richard Paolinelli (unintentionally) made people curious to read John Scalzi’s syndicated movie reviews from the 1990s, here’s a link to a set of them on his old website [Internet Archive]. The Starship Troopers and Alien Resurrection reviews are from immediately after Scalzi left his reviewing gig; the rest are from while he was writing reviews for the Fresno Bee. (These reviews are not on the current iteration of the site.)
(5) BRADBURY PANEL. The 20th Library of Congress National Book Festival will celebrate “American Ingenuity” in 2020, featuring the creativity and inspiration of some of the nation’s most gifted authors in a reimagined virtual festival from September 25-27.
The festival will honor Ray Bradbury with a discussion exploring his ingenious imagination and his enduring influence on literature, space exploration, and our collective curiosity. Bradbury historian and biographer Jonathan Eller will moderate the panel featuring writer and visionary Ann Druyan, co-creator of Cosmos; science fiction writer Mary Robinette Kowal, winner of Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards; and Leland Melvin, NASA engineer, astronaut, and educator.
(6) BECOMING DOCTOROW. [Item by Olav Rokne.] On the eve of his induction into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, Cory Doctorow took to Twitter in tribute to several foundational figures who mentored him in his formative years. There are some very nice details in the thread about Judith Merril, Tanya Huff, and others. Worth a read. Thread starts here.
As an aside, I maintain that the CSFF HoF trophy is one of the most beautiful trophy designs in all fandom.
…More often than not, people my age opt to completely leave out any type of punctuation at the end of texts or tweets, especially short messages, because there’s no need to punctuate if there’s only one sentence, you can just send the message and that counts as the ending point. In addition, Twitter has a character limit, and why waste a character on a period?
I can absolutely confirm without a doubt that everyone my age for some reason thinks that periods are passive-aggressive as hell and if you use one in a text you must be mad about something, or upset with the person you’re sending it to. You just sound… so angry. I can’t explain where this logic came from, but we all hear it the same way. Periods mean you’re unhappy. When you send a sentence with a period, you are sending a clear-cut statement that has a finite end, so it must be about something serious….
(8) KICKSTARTER.The “Recognize Fascism Anthology” Kickstarter has hit $12,000 on the way to a $15,000 stretch goal that would allow them to also do an audiobook. And all backers who pledge at or above the “$25 or more” level will receive a digital copy of the Recognize Fascism audiobook.
The 70,000 word anthology edited by Crystal M. Huff features 22 authors from 9 different countries. See the Table of Contents here. The Kickstarter updates include there Recognize Fascism authors reading excerpts of their stories:
In a recent Reddit AMA (as reported by Syfy Wire), Tennant was asked what major franchise he’d want to cross off of his bucket list next. He’s already made waves as the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who, a Marvel villain in Netflix’s Jessica Jones, and a sexy demon in Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens. But there’s one major series he said he’s still keen on joining.
reCONvene is an online convention, organized for science fiction and fantasy fans by fans. In addition to featuring traditional content such as panel discussions, solo talks, and demos, we are also taking advantage of the online environment to try a few new things that aren’t normally possible at in-person conventions. We look forward to having you join us.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 12, 1894 — Dick Calkins. He’s best remembered for being the first artist to draw the Buck Rogers comic strip. He also wrote scripts for the Buck Rogers radio program. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Complete Newspaper Dailies in three volumes on Hermes Press collects these strips. (Died 1962.) (CE)
Born August 12, 1929 — John Bluthal. He was Von Neidel in The Mouse on the Moon which sounds silly and fun. He’s in Casino Royale as both a Casino Doorman and a MI5 Man. He had roles in films best forgotten such as Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World. (Really. Don’t ask.) and did play a blind beggar in The Return of the Pink Panther as well, and his last genre role was as Professor Pacoli in the beloved Fifth Element. Lest I forget, he voiced Commander Wilbur Zero, Jock Campbell and other characters in Fireball XL5. (Died 2018.) (CE)
Born August 12, 1931 — William Goldman. Writer of The Princess Bride which he adapted for the film. Wrotethe original Stepford Wives script and King’s Hearts in Atlantis and Misery as well. He was hired to adapt “Flowers for Algernon“ as a screenplay which he but the story goes that Cliff Robertson intensely disliked his screenplay and it was discarded for one by Stirling Silliphant that became Charly. (Died 2018.) (CE)
Born August 12, 1936 – George Flynn, Ph.D., F.N. Stalwart of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n). Proofreader for NESFA Press; widely regarded as the best proofreader in SF. Named Fellow of NESFA (service award). Representative of the Fannish Frisian Freedom Front to the Highmore in ’76 Worldcon bid. Knight and Wilhelm bibliographies for Noreascon Two Pgm Bk (38th Worldcon). Administrator of Hugo Awards. Reporter of WSFS (World SF Soc.) Business Meetings for SF Chronicle. Head of the Long List Committee. Letters in Banana Wings, The Frozen Frog, Izzard, Janus, Patchin Review. A fine man to watch the Masquerade (on-stage costume competition) with, quiet, observant, articulate. (Died 2004) [JH]
Born August 12, 1947 — John Nathan-Turner. He produced Doctor Who from 1980 until it was cancelled in 1989. He finished having become the longest-serving Doctor Who producer and cast Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors. Other than Who, he had a single production credit, the K-9 and Company: A Girl’s Best Friend film. He wrote two books, Doctor Who – The TARDIS Inside Out and Doctor Who: The Companions. He would die of a massive infection just a year before the announcement the show was being revived. (Died 2002.) (CE)
Born August 12, 1948 – Tim Wynne-Jones, O.C., 72. Three novels for us, a score of shorter stories; many others, children’s and adults’. Radio dramas & songs. “I stole my father’s Welsh moodiness and his love of awful puns.” Here is his cover for North by 2000. Seal First Novel Award, Edgar Award, Metcalf Award. Two Boston Globe – Horn Book Awards. Three Governor General’s Awards. Officer of the Order of Canada. Website here. [JH]
Born August 12, 1954 — Sam J. Jones, 66. Flash Gordon in the 1980 version of that story. Very, very campy. A few years later, he played the lead role in a TV adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit which I’ve not seen and am now very curious about. (CE)
Born August 12, 1957 — Elaine Cunningham, 63. She’s best known for her work on Dungeons & Dragons creating the campaign setting of Forgotten Realms, including the realms of Evermeet, Halruaa, Ruathym and Waterdeep. She’s also wrote The Changeling Detective Agency series as well as a Star Wars novel, Dark Journey. (CE)
Born August 12, 1967 – Kelly McCullough, 53. A dozen novels, as many shorter stories, for us; many others. Writers of the Future winner. Actor in Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota Renaissance Festivals. Essays in Apex, Uncanny. Website here. [JH]
Born August 12, 1969 – Rachel Kadish, 51. “A gifted writer, astonishingly adept at nuance, narration, and the politics of passion,” says Toni Morrison. Three novels; two dozen shorter stories, essays in the New England Review, Paris Review, Ploughshares, Salamander, Salon, Slate, Story; one short story for us (in The Iowa Review!). Gardner Award, Koret Award, Nat’l Jewish Book Award. “On Asking Dangerous Questions About Spinoza” for the American Philosophical Ass’n. [JH]
Born August 12, 1971 – Erin McKean, 49. Lexicographer; Principal Editor, New Oxford Amer. Dictionary (2nd ed’n); editor, Verbatim. Seven books; one short story for us. “Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female’”. [JH]
Born August 12, 1987 – Tom Moran, 33. Two novels for us, half a dozen shorter stories, half a dozen covers, a dozen interiors. Here is Breaking Eggs. Guardian and Legend Press prize (books “that are not only zeitgeisty and promising, but will be talked about in 10 or even 100 years’ time”) for Dinosaurs and Prime Numbers. [JH]
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Half Full worries about a superhero affected by the pandemic.
(14) ESSENCE OF WONDER. Kevin Hearne, Chuck Wendig, and Delilah S. Dawson will join the Essence of Wonder team on Saturday, August 15 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, along with special guest Amal El-Mohtar who will come back on the show to interview Kevin about his work. Kevin, Chuck, and Delilah will discuss the art and science of location scouting, and their joint hobby of nature photography “as a moment on zen”. Register here: “Kevin Hearne And Friends on Location Scouting, and Nature Photography”.
(15) THE FUTURE OF MEDICINE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] If there’s one thing that Canadians love more than bragging about our universal health care system, it’s talking about the future of the health care system. Fresh off his fourth time on the Hugo shortlist, Canuck fan writer James Davis Nicoll takes a look at some of the various ways that science fiction writers have imagined health care systems. I’m just surprised that he doesn’t talk about Mercy Point — ”Five Science-Fictional Approaches to Healthcare” at Tor.com.
Recently I encountered an SF novel in which medical care—more exactly, healthcare funding—featured as a significant element. Curiously, the work drew on the same rather implausible healthcare system used to such effect in, say, Breaking Bad. No doubt the author was simply unaware of other approaches. Other science fiction authors have been more imaginative when it comes to healthcare systems, as these five examples show….
The dungeon-master Flintwyrm explains to four adventurers over a voice call that the only way to stop the apocalypse is to play the most intense extreme-metal song imaginable. All they have to do is find a concert venue called The Hall of Cacophonous Screams, an endless keg of beer, and five “minstrels of pain” to frontline their jam session, all the while surviving goblins and the forthcoming apocalypse. Flintwyrm, a 29-year-old named Christopher Joel, is excited about the adventure: this is how he and hundreds of strangers are bonding during quarantine, whether they are role-playing gamers, metalheads, or somewhere in between.
Welcome to Mörk Borg, the headbanger of a game that is the latest example of the fertile cross-pollination between tabletop role-playing and extreme metal: a love letter to the hellraising imagery, lyrics, and album art of metal.
(17) A FILER ON FAULKNER. The current Atlantic has a review by former Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust of The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil War by Michael Gorra — “What to Do About William Faulkner”. Most Filers may not know that Gorra, the eminent English professor at Smith College, was once a fanzine publisher. And Gorra commented here as recently as 2012!
…Michael Gorra, an English professor at Smith, believes Faulkner to be the most important novelist of the 20th century. In his rich, complex, and eloquent new book, The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil War, he makes the case for how and why to read Faulkner in the 21st by revisiting his fiction through the lens of the Civil War, “the central quarrel of our nation’s history.” Rarely an overt subject, one “not dramatized so much as invoked,” the Civil War is both “everywhere” and “nowhere” in Faulkner’s work. He cannot escape the war, its aftermath, or its meaning, and neither, Gorra insists, can we. As the formerly enslaved Ringo remarks in The Unvanquished (1938) during Reconstruction-era conflict over voting rights, “This war aint over. Hit just started good.” This is why for us, as for Jason and Quentin Compson in The Sound and the Fury (1929), was and again are “the saddest words.” As Gorra explains, “What was is never over.”
In setting out to explore what Faulkner can tell us about the Civil War and what the war can tell us about Faulkner, Gorra engages as both historian and literary critic. But he also writes, he confesses, as an “act of citizenship.” His book represents his own meditation on the meaning of the “forever war” of race, not just in American history and literature, but in our fraught time. What we think today about the Civil War, he believes, “serves above all to tell us what we think about ourselves, about the nature of our polity and the shape of our history.”
…Gorra underscores the “incoherence” of Faulkner’s position as both critic and defender of the white South’s resistance to change….
…And it’s a really nice story of memory and queerness and family, told by an old woman (identified only as “Rabbit”) to a “Cleric” of an order of archivists, telling mainly the story of the just deceased Empress, from a time in her life when she was in exile. It’s a tale of memory, love, and family and what it all means, as we and the archivist find out about how one cast off woman managed to fight back against a man in power determined to keep her out of his way, and what it cost in the end.
They’re wiggly and slimy and live inside the flesh of other animals. Now, scientists are making a new case for why they should be saved.
Parasites play crucial roles in ecosystems around the world, making up around 40% of animal species. As wildlife faces the growing threats of climate change and habitat loss, scientists warn that parasites are equally vulnerable.
That’s why a team of scientists has released a “global parasite conservation plan.”
“Parasites have a major public relations problem,” says Chelsea Wood, assistant professor at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. “Most people don’t really like thinking about them, but the fact is they’re really important in ecosystems.”
…”We think that about 1 in every 10 parasite species might be threatened with extinction in the next 50 years just from losing their habitat,” says Colin Carlson, assistant professor and biologist at Georgetown University. “But when we account for that they might also lose their hosts, it pushes it closer to about 1 in every 3 species of parasite.”
“That’s an extinction rate that’s almost unthinkable at broad scales,” Carslon says.
GREENFIELDBOYCE: So what he’s saying there is it’s a big world out there with all kinds of organisms whose genes we could be studying, but, you know, we’re not really. So Josh and his colleagues have been trying to add another organism to that short list of model organisms, and what he’s most interested in are squids.
KWONG: Oh, like cephalopods.
GREENFIELDBOYCE: Right – squid, cuttlefish, octopuses – all cephalopods.
Enormous “terror crocodiles” once roamed the earth and preyed on dinosaurs, according to a new study revisiting fossils from the gigantic Late Cretaceous crocodylian, Deinosuchus.
The research, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, reiterates that Deinosuchus were among the largest crocodylians ever in existence, reaching up to 33 feet in length. New in this study is a look at the anatomy of the Deinosuchus, which was achieved by piecing together various specimens unknown until now, giving a fuller picture of the animal.
Adam Cossette, a vertebrate paleobiologist at the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University, led the study that corrected some misunderstandings about the Deinosuchus.
“Until now, the complete animal was unknown,” Cossette said. “These new specimens we’ve examined reveal a bizarre, monstrous predator with teeth the size of bananas.”
Past studies on cranial remains and bite marks on dinosaur bones led paleontologists to believe the massive Deinosuchus were an opportunistic predator, according to the press release. Fossil specimens now make it clear that Deinosuchus did indeed have the head size and jaw strength to have its pick of prey, including large dinosaurs.
“Deinosuchus was a giant that must have terrorized dinosaurs that came to the water’s edge to drink,” Cossette said.
In the unimaginably far future, cold stellar remnants known as black dwarfs will begin to explode in a spectacular series of supernovae, providing the final fireworks of all time. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which posits that the universe will experience one last hurrah before everything goes dark forever….
…The particles in a white dwarf stay locked in a crystalline lattice that radiates heat for trillions of years, far longer than the current age of the universe. But eventually, these relics cool off and become a black dwarf.
Because black dwarfs lack energy to drive nuclear reactions, little happens inside them. Fusion requires charged atomic nuclei to overcome a powerful electrostatic repulsion and merge. Yet over long time periods, quantum mechanics allows particles to tunnel through energetic barriers, meaning fusion can still occur, albeit at extremely low rates.
…Caplan says the dramatic detonations will begin to occur about 101100 years from now, a number the human brain can scarcely comprehend. The already unfathomable number 10100 is known as a googol, so 101100 would be a googol googol googol googol googol googol googol googol googol googol googol years. The explosions would continue until 1032000 years from now, which would require most of a magazine page to represent in a similar fashion.
(24) CREATE A NEED AND FILL IT. Archie McPhee offers the Office Possum. You didn’t know you needed one, did you?
This perfect possum has posable paws so it can hang on the side of a garbage can, computer monitor or anything with a ledge. It even has a tail for creepy dangling! Sure, you can set it up somewhere to scare a loved one, but really the Office Possum just wants to be your new BFF.
(25) HE’S RED, JIM. If these masks go with Trek crew uniforms, one wearer may find out if there’s an afterlife sooner than the others.
[Thanks to Olav Rokne, John King Tarpnian, Chip Hitchcock, John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John A Arkansawyer, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Cliff, Tom Boswell, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]
(1) EMERGENCY KERFUFFLE. When the New York Times recently reported that “the Internet Archive is ending its program of offering free, unrestricted copies of e-books because of a lawsuit from publishers, which said lending out books without compensation for authors or publishing houses was ‘willful mass copyright infringement’”, part of the internet fell on Chuck Wendig who had called IA a ”pirate site” for setting up the so-called National Emergency Library, even though he was only one of many to do so. His thread starts here. Update: “Only approved followers can see @ChuckWendig’s Tweets”
(2) ACTION ITEMS. The Booktubers behind the BooktubeSFF Awards have postponed the awards in favor of addressing some compelling issues:
BuzzFeed Books recently asked Goodreads about its most popular Black speculative fiction titles. Below are 20 books that get high ratings and ample attention from the site’s many lovers of sci-fi and fantasy….
Mothership: Tales From Afrofuturism and Beyond is an anthology gathering the writings of some of the most talented and groundbreaking authors of Afrofuturism and beyond, including N.K. Jemisin, Linda D. Addison, Rabih Alameddine, and more.
5-star review: “The best thing about this anthology is that it is filled with a variety of fiction across speculative genres from authors with both complementary and completely different styles. Mothership is a go-to if you want to bathe in Black speculative excellence, but it is also simply about the human experience across ethnicities, times, and places. It features works from and about other peoples of color, multi-racial individuals, and seats them all in different contexts.” —Dara Crawley
… “Wish we were sharing our film yesterday but there are more important things going on in our world we’d rather you focus on for now,” Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins tweeted. “Thank you to our fans for being so great, by our sides.”
(5) UNDER THE HOOD. The guidelines for CoNZealand’s virtual masquerade are out. There are a lot of them. This is just an excerpt.
…Due to the current pandemic and global and local responses to it we are going digital! Both for our event and for all registrations, content, and that means entries.
All of the above rules apply. These are standard health and safety rules.
All entries will be pre-recorded.
You will have 2 minutes for your performance, solo entries included! Technical advice on recording your performance will be coming shortly, but most smartphones will be up to the task for video, more care will be needed for audio so please plan and have a back up accordingly!
You will also have 5 mins for a Q&A that will introduce you to our CoNZealand crew and audience.
We will be streaming the Masquerade as well as have the entries viewable before and after the event, this necessitates changes to what we are able to use for audio in entries. This information will be available soon.
(6) FULL LID. Alasdair Stuart, in this week’s “The Full Lid — 12th June 2020”, takes a long look at the extraordinary Blindspotting, written by and starring Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal and directed by Carlos López Estrada. Then, “From Oakland we go to deep space and check out Nerys Howell’s precise, brilliant one-season science fiction podcast Seren. Finally, we come into land in rural Ireland with the fantastic The Hole in the Ground, directed by Lee Cronin who will be directing the next Evil Dead movie.” The interstitials this week are episodes of the superb Nightlight horror fiction podcast.
Holy radiated lizard scales, is Godzilla vs. Batman really a thing? Yes, I’m afraid it is, and Toho isn’t the only one that came up with the idea. American studio Greenway Productions, led by producer William Dozier, who produced Adam West’s Batman: The Movie, had a script drafted called Batman Meets Godzilla. Toho, for its part, had screenwriter Shinzi Sekizawa, who wrote Mothra vs. Godzilla, write its own version, but little is known about that one. The draw to have Godzilla fight Batman in both Japan and the United States seemed purely logical at the time. Batman’s comic books were flying off the shelves in Japan, and Godzilla movies were relatively popular in America too. So for both production companies, it seemed like a no-brainer to have a man dressed up like a bat fight a giant radiated lizard.
In William Dozier’s script, Batman, Robin and Batgirl first fight the villainous mad scientist Klaus Finster, who eventually awakens Godzilla. Batman and his sidekicks use every Bat-tool in their Bat-belts to stop the destructive Godzilla, but eventually settle on a plan to lure Godzilla with a mating call and then knock him out with explosives. After a thrilling battle between Godzilla and the Bat-crew, Batman finds a way to attach an explosive to Godzilla’s neck with Bat-rope and detonates it. While Godzilla is unconscious, the humans build a rocket around him and send him into the far reaches of outer space.
Sadly, this whimsical and silly adventure would never come to pass, likely because it’s insane, but also because the seas of change were roaring. The Adam West Batman TV show only lasted three seasons and a much darker interpretation of Batman was brewing in the comic books. Eventually, both Batman and Godzilla would see a radical transformation, but they would never meet on the big screen.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 13, 1958 — Forbidden Planet premiered. It was produced by Nicholas Nayfack, and directed by Fred M. Wilcox. The screenplay was by Cyril Hume from a story by Irving Block and Allen Adler. It starred Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis and Leslie Nielsen, with narration by Les Tremayne. Critics loved the film. “Weird but fascinating and exciting” said one. On its initial run the film turned a modest profit. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a spectacular 85% rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 13, 1860 – Lancelot Speed. Painter, illustrator, director of early British silent films, cartoonist in Punch and elsewhere. Illustrated Andrew Lang’s Fairy books and Rider Haggard’s She, for which he also designed the film sets. Here is Swanhild walking the seas, from Haggard’s Eric Brighteyes; here is Snowdrop in her glass coffin, from The Red Fairy Book; here is a scene from The Odyssey. (Died 1931) [JH]
Born June 13, 1865 – W.B. Yeats. Nobel Prize in Literature. Co-founded the Abbey Theatre. Student of Irish folklore & fantasy; Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry reprinted 2015 as Irish Fairy Tales. A dozen short stories, forty poems, for us. Here is “Among School Children” (How can we know the dancer from the dance?). Here is “Byzantium”. Here is “The Second Coming” (what rough beast?). (Died 1939) [JH]
Born June 13, 1892 — Basil Rathbone. He’s best remembered for being Sherlock Holmes in fourteen films made between 1939 and 1946 and in a radio series of the same period. For films other than these, I’ll single out The Adventures of Robin Hood (all Robin Hood is fantasy), Son of Frankenstein and Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet. (Died 1967.) (CE)
Born June 13, 1893 – Dorothy Sayers. Known for Lord Peter Wimsey, whom I applaud – including his meticulously shown faults – but little of her detective fiction is ours (there are a few, like “The Cyprian Cat” which happens not to have Lord Peter). Her religious writing was not fantasy for her. I offer two points. One small: in Busman’s Honeymoon, climax of the Wimsey stories, the ghost, almost an aside, is superb. One great: her rendition of The Divine Comedy: it is fantasy: it’s Dante’s dream. Sayers didn’t invent it; nor did Pope invent the Iliad and the Odyssey, his renditions of which, liberties taken and all, still shine. (Died 1957) [JH]
Born June 13, 1903 — Frederick Stephani. Screenwriter and film director who is best remembered for co-writing and directing the 13-chapter Flash Gordon serial in 1936. He directed Johnny Weissmuller‘s Tarzan’s New York Adventure (aka Tarzan Against the World). He was also a uncredited writer on 1932’s Dracula. (Died 1962.) (CE)
Born June 13, 1920 – Walter Ernsting. Co-founded the Science Fiction Club Deutschland – note its combined English-German name – editing its newsletter five years. Called the father of German fandom. Big Heart Award. Co-invented (as Clark Darlton) Perry Rhodan – who began, in 1961, as a U.S. Space Force Major of 1971; here is the first cover; as of early 2019, more than 3,000 weekly digest-size booklets, 400 paperbacks, 200 hardbacks, two billion copies in novella format sold worldwide. As CD and otherwise, three hundred SF novels, many shorter stories, many with co-authors; translated into Dutch, English, French, Russian; commemorative book in 2000, Clark Darlton, the Man who Brought the Future. (Died 2005) [JH]
Born June 13, 1929 — Ralph McQuarrie. Conceptual designer and illustrator. He worked on the original Star Wars trilogy, the first Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars Holiday Special, Cocoon, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Nightbreed, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home andE.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. (Died 2012.) (CE)
Born June 23, 1934 – Doreen Webbert. First appeared in 1959, joining SAPS (the Spectator Amateur Press Society) and with husband Jim serving jointly as Official Editors six years. First convention, Westercon 13 (Boise, Idaho). Later to Arizona. Stalwart of Leprecons, Coppercons, Westercons, NASFiCs (N. Amer. SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas). Fan Guest of Honor at Tuscon 15, Coppercon 9, Con/Fusion (sponsored by San Diego Comic-Con), Kubla Khanterfeit. [JH]
Born June 13, 1943 — Malcolm McDowell, 77. My favorite role for him was Mr. Roarke on the rebooted Fantasy Island. Of course, his most infamous role was Alex in A Clockwork Orange. Scary film that. His characterization of H. G. Wells in Time After Time was I thought rather spot on. And I’d like to single out his voicing Arcady Duvall in the “Showdown” episode of Batman: The Animated Series. (CE)
Born June 13, 1949 — Simon Callow, 71. English actor, musician, writer, and theatre director. So, what’s he doing here? Well he got to be Charles Dickens twice on Doctor Who, the first being in “The Unquiet Dead” during the time of the Ninth Doctor and then later during “The Wedding of River Song”, an Eleventh Doctor story. He’d also appear, though not as Dickens, on The Sarah Jane Adventures as the voice of Tree Blathereen in “The Gift” episode. I’ve not watched the series. How are they? He was also The Duke of Sandringham in the first season of Outlander. (CE)
Born June 13, 1953 — Tim Allen, 67. Jason Nesmith in the much beloved Galaxy Quest. (Which won a much deserved Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation at Chicon 2000.) He actually had a big hit several years previously voicing Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story which would be the first in what would become a film franchise.
Born June 13, 1974 – Jeaniene Frost. Her Night Huntress books have been New York Times and USA Today best-sellers. Fifteen of them so far, nine more novels, half a dozen shorter stories. Audiobooks. She says, “In my dream, I saw a man and a woman arguing. Somehow I knew the woman was a half-vampire, the man was a full vampire, and they were arguing because he was angry that she’d left him.” Her Website is here. [JH]
Psycho inspired the first documentary about a single scene in a film
By now, we are used to feature-length documentaries about the making of certain classic films – or what they could have been. Room 237, Jodorowsky’s Dune, Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau, Lost in La Mancha, and Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy are just a few recent examples. But 78/52 is the first documentary to concentrate on a single scene in a film. The documentary, directed by Alexandre O. Philippe, focuses on the infamous “shower scene.” The title refers to the number of set-ups in the scene (78) and the number of cuts (52). What other film has a three-minute scene that could hold enough interest to generate a 91-minute documentary?
Now Dubai is set for what must be its most other-worldly architectural project yet.
In 2017, the United Arab Emirates announced its ambition to colonize Mars within the next 100 years. But architects are already imagining what a Martian city might look like — and planning to recreate it in the desert outside Dubai.
Mars Science City was originally earmarked to cover 176,000 square meters of desert — the size of more than 30 football fields — and cost approximately $135 million.
Intended as a space for Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) to develop the technology needed to colonize Mars, architects Bjarke Ingels Group were asked to design a prototype of a city suitable for sustaining life on Mars — and then adapt it for use in the Emirati desert.
Scientists have discovered a vast structure made of dense material occupying the boundary between Earth’s liquid outer core and the lower mantle, a zone some 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) beneath our feet.
The researchers used a machine learning algorithm that was originally developed to analyze distant galaxies to probe the mysterious phenomenon occurring deep within our own planet, according to a paper published on Thursday in Science.
(15) DON’T LOSE THIS NUMBER. Marc Laidlaw shares “The Satellite 37L4O5 Etc. Waltz.”
In the future, everyone will have a unique customized waltz, personalized entirely for them, which identifies them immediately. Reminder: Any waltz may be suspended at the discretion of the Identi-Waltz Authority.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Contrarius, and John King Tarpinian. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]
Book fairs and sff conventions, like all public events, were already making decisions whether to proceed in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, but today’s World Health Organization announcement will step up the level of concern even higher. From the New York Times:“W.H.O. Declares Pandemic as Number of Infected Countries Grows”.
…“Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, chief of the W.H.O., said at a news conference in Geneva.
“We cannot say this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough,” he added. “All countries can still change the course of this pandemic.”
But now there is evidence on six continents of sustained transmission of the virus, which has infected more than 120,000 people and killed more than 4,300, and by most scientific measures the spread qualifies as a pandemic. The designation itself is largely symbolic, but public health officials know that the public will hear in the word elements of danger and risk.
HQ has been tracking 8 conventions worldwide that are planned for next
weekend and as of yesterday, only two have been called off.
Seattle’s large Emerald City Comic Con, which was planned for March 12-15, announced on March 9 that it has been postponed until Summer 2020 (the date to be named later.)
Each year the Emerald City Comic Con team works their hardest to do right by the thousands of fans that come together in Seattle. We want to create a space for you to gather, be yourselves and make memories with those who matter to you most. We have been closely monitoring the situation around the COVID-19 virus in Seattle, and, after many hours of conversation internally and consultation with local government officials and the tourism bureau, we have decided to move next week’s Emerald City Comic Con to Summer 2020 with date and detail announcement forthcoming. We did everything that we could to run the event as planned, but ultimately, we are following the guidance of the local public health officials indicating that conventions should now be postponed.
…The Leipzig Public Health Office decided to follow the directive of the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Economics, which states that the traceability of contact persons at major events must be guaranteed. The directive explicitly stipulated that every participant in the fair must provide written proof that he or she is not from any of the identified risk locations and has not had contact with people from such locations. Considering the approximately 2,500 exhibitors and 280,000 expected visitors, this was not a reasonable task. The health of our exhibitors, visitors, guests, partners and employees is our top priority. The City of Leipzig and Leipziger Messe have therefore decided to cancel the event entirely.
However, next weekend’s conventions in Canada, Ireland, and several U.S. cities east of the Mississippi are going forward.
On the other hand, the Burning
Cat gaming con slated for May in Portland, OR has already canceled.
Not on PopCult HQ’s list, Consonance 2020, the Bay Area filk convention slated for March 20-22, has been cancelled. Chair Lynn Gold made the announcement today.
In light of information from the Department of Health, the Western Australian Department of Health, and the advice of medical professionals in our community such as Dr Karen McKenna, the Convention Committee, Convention Steering Committee and WASFF Board have voted to cancel Swancon 2020.
Early projections indicate that the height of the pandemic is likely to be late April to early May, and as such we would be irresponsible to hold a large public gathering, regardless of the amount of hand sanitizer and tissues we provided.
Flanked by the leaders of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett, and of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, Inslee said he was ordering the cancellation of large church services, sporting events, concerts, festivals and conventions.
“Today I am ordering, pursuant to my emergency powers, that certain events in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties with more than 250 people are prohibited by order of the governor,” Inslee said, at a King County government building in downtown Seattle. The three counties are “experiencing significant community transmission, significant outbreaks and they are large population centers.”
The order is in effect through the end of March, Inslee said, but it is “highly likely” it will be extended beyond that time.
Norwescon is scheduled for April 9-12. The
convention committee has posted this response:
The Executive team is aware of the March 11 announcement by WA Gov. Inslee regarding COVID-19 containment plans. We are in active discussion within the Executive team and with the hotel to determine our best options. We will provide updates as soon as possible, but do need some time to coordinate. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we do our best to adjust to a quickly moving situation.
BALANCING ACT. Where public health officials have not yet instituted any restrictions, few events can unilaterally cancel without jeopardizing their future.
The International Association For The Fantastic In The Arts, in “COVID-19, Cancellations, and Credits/Refunds”, said their economic survival would be in doubt if they cancelled the event, therefore ICFA 41 will still take place March 18-21 in Florida.
The conference will meet. We have to meet certain guaranteed minimums for room occupancy, food and beverage expenditures, etc., specified in our contract with the hotel, or pay out of pocket. It is not an exaggeration to say that cancellation would jeopardize the very existence of the IAFA.
All conrunners have a recent example in Arisia of what happens when penalty clauses kick in because an event has been cancelled for reasons outside the provisions of their facilities contracts.
The Eastercon committee met with the Hilton on Friday and discussed with them the concerns of the Eastercon membership. We asked about their policies on refunds for the event and any rooms booked with the potential issues from Covid-19. The Hilton have confirmed to the committee that, as the government’s stance at this point is business as usual, they will not be offering any additional or exceptional circumstances towards bookings that have already been made.
We have discussed if there would be any possibility of a change in their stance on this matter. We have been advised that the only time at which there would be a change would be if running the convention would be either impossible or illegal due to requirements put in place either from the Government or from an authorised public body such as Public Health England or the World Health Organisation….
Pittsburgh’s furry fandom Anthrocon (July 2-5) has also been consulting with and monitoring information from public health agencies, and in a March 9 statement said they plan to go on with the con:
At this time, there is no intention of canceling or delaying the Anthrocon 2020 convention. None of the agencies listed above has advised either course of action. We continue to monitor the situation daily, however, and should circumstances warrant either a cancellation or rescheduling, we will issue that announcement without delay on our web site and through all of our social media outlets. Please be patient. None of us can predict the course that this epidemic will take, and to what extent – or even if – it will be a concern in July. Our only choice is to rely on the advice of the medical professionals who are best situated to offer such advice.
At this time, no U.S. medical agency is advising travelers to cancel plans to travel to Western Pennsylvania, whereas of this date no cases of COVID-19 have been reported.
…At the moment, SFWA is planning to hold the conference with adjustments to reduce the risks of spreading the virus. The SFWA Board and the Nebula Conference events team are talking about this evolving situation daily including the possibility that things may shift enough that we need to cancel the in-person event. We will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments.
The Nebulas are 80 days away and every day brings us a better understanding of what’s happening with COVID-19.
Our challenge is that the hotel will not allow us to cancel the event without paying penalties unless it is “illegal or impossible” to host it. Similarly, they will not offer us any refunds. This limits our choices. With that said, the board’s priority in decision-making still remains with the health and safety of our attendees and by extension their families.
Although New Zealand has not been affected by Covid-19 to the extent of the rest of the world, our government and the NZ Ministry of Health have extensive civil defence plans. We are monitoring the situation and will be prepared for what the future brings.
As usual, we strongly advise all members purchase their own comprehensive travel insurance for any foreign travel, including cancellation insurance. If you have already purchased insurance for your journey to New Zealand, we recommend that you check the full terms with your insurance provider.
We are in touch with the Ministry of Health as well as with our venue planning managers. We want everyone to have a safe and healthy convention, and we will be following best practices.
READINGS: The Fantastic Fiction at KGB readings series today canceled its March event with guests Daniel Braum & Robert Levy, promising instead, “both authors will be reading their work over an online livestream at the same scheduled date and time (March 18th, 7pm). Details on that livestream will be forthcoming.”
BOOK FAIRS. Outside of fandom, a series of publishing
industry events have shuttered or rescheduled due to the withdrawal of participating
book companies and sponsors.
The 25th Festival of Books, originally scheduled for April, will now take place the weekend of Oct. 3-4 on the USC campus. The 4th Food Bowl, previously set for May, will also be moved to the fall, with dates to be announced later.
While the Book Prizes awards ceremony will not be held this year, honorees and winners will still be acknowledged via an announcement to be released on April 17.
…Ace Comic Con, which is hosting a Northeast fan event from March 20-22 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, will go on as planned, despite coronavirus concerns, according to organizers. That said, there are some new rules regarding social distancing, posted on ACE’s Facebook page:
“During Photo Ops & Autographs – Handshakes, hugs, requests to hold props during Photo Ops, and physical contact will not be permitted. No gifts, letters, or cards will be accepted by celebrity guests so we ask that you do not bring in those items.
…Of course, some have fans have posted complaints on Facebook. They bought special autograph packages expecting to get hugs and handshakes from stars.
“I am coming from FL and I wanted a hug from both Chris’. Now I’m gonna stand side by side with them? How is that fair? … I honestly don’t want to come anymore,” one Facebook user said.
FALLOUT. The economic consequences from not holding events will ripple far beyond the hotels and committees. For example, the SXSW cancellation has caused major layoffs:
On March 6, SXSWcanceled its 2020 festival due to concerns surrounding the recent coronavirus outbreak. It marked the first cancellation in the annual Austin event’s 34-year history. Now, SXSW’s parent company SXSW LLC has laid off roughly a third of its 175 year-round employees, according to a new report by local paper the Austin American-Statesman,
…The fact is we are dealing with a disease where it’s possible that some infected people can be contagious while appearing healthy for weeks. Transmission happens when people are in close proximity, and since this is a new form of the disease, odds are if you’re exposed you’re going to get it. And you can talk about how mortality rates as a percentage are only slightly higher than the flu, a lot of people don’t get the flu. There are plenty of people who walk our convention halls who have a good chance of dying if they get infected.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a fan of having none of my convention’s attendees die.
So yeah, it’s time to talk. How drastic your conversation is depends on how bad things are where you are physically along with who might come to your event. If you’re an event like SXSW where people come from all over the world… consider not holding your event immediately. Postpone it if you can, but no event is worth people’s lives. If you’re a regional event, you need to look at the landscape. If you’re in a city or area with an active outbreak, do not hold your event, I beg of you.
e) Recognize that we’re probably anxious about this. Many of us will go to our events via two or more airports, likely international ones. We will then be at your event with hundreds to thousands of people. If we’re writers, we’re gonna be theoretically up close and personal with folks, signing their books, some want photos — and trust me, writers are already a pretty anxious lot. Our brains are carousels of crawling ants. We’re already imagining worse case scenarios. (Seriously, have you read Wanderers?) You talking to us about that before we have to talk to you about it would be very nice.
f) Recognize too we don’t want to get stuck anywhere. We have families! Pets! Extreme introversion! Note that some people who have traveled overseas have found themselves in exactly this scenario. Best case scenario, it’s a travel delay. Worst case, it’s full restriction or quarantine. Who knows how the fuck this current administration will bungle this up — they might not do anything, or they might clamp down hard when it’s not needed. Either way? We don’t wanna find out. So, what happens if it does? Are you gonna cover our hotels if we’re guests? One night? Ten? Certainly your responsibility ends somewhere, but I’d sure like you to be thinking about that.
(1) PLAY IT AGAIN, JEAN-LUC. At Amazing Stories, Kimberly
Unger tells how Picard is doing in checking off “The
Required Plots of Star Trek”. She has an infographic with 13 of them.
A few years ago, I had the privilege to work on a game being built for Star Trek: Discovery (I will remain salty about the cancellation of this game until the day I die). While that game ultimately never made it to market, it gave me a chance to do a number of deep dives into one of my favorite properties. While we were in the early days of building the game design bible to give to the writers, I came up with a list of recurring broad plotlines that seemed to show up in every variation of Star Trek (and many other SF shows including Dr. Who, Stargate, etc.).
Now that Star Trek: Picard is on the air, I’m working my way down the list, watching to see which of these thirteen recurring plots show up.
Am I an expert in any of this? Hardly. I just try to keep up to date on what’s up while simultaneously not fall for conspiracy theories or mis/disinformation. (Harder than you’d think in this age, sadly.)
So, now we circle back around to say —
Hey, there are a lot of conventions, conferences and festivals coming up.
For me, these are writing- or book-related, but again, I see a lot on the horizon and some that just recently passed: toys, electronics, food service, etc.
It’s convention season.
And, apparently, coronavirus season.
So, if you’re running just such a conference, lemme give you some advice:
Get ahead of this now.
Do not make us e-mail you to ask you what’s up.
This isn’t about causing panic — it’s about undercutting it. It’s about reassuring us that you have this in your mind, with plans forming….
Regina Kanyu Wang, a council member of World Chinese Science Fiction Association
(WCSFA) and who lives in Shanghai, commented today on
Facebook about the situation.
Talking about the coronavirus (COVID-19), now the situation in China is OK, with doctors and nurses really fighting in the frontier as well as normal citizens sacrificing their convenience of daily life (Especially those who live in Wuhan and Hubei in general! They’ve endured so much.) I am in Shanghai and my life is as normal, but I have friends and friends’ families living in Hubei, who are really trading their normal life to win more time for the world to take control of the plague. Recently, there have been an increase in numbers of cases in Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran and the US, and also first cases confirmed in more countries.
I realize that local governments may not tell the people how dangerous the virus is because they are afraid of panics and influences on economics. Wuhan and Hubei government did the same, and look what it’s like now….
… Pandemic novels, like pandemics, come and go in waves. The 60s had Michael Crichton’s “The Andromeda Strain.” The 70s saw the mega-success of Stephen King’s “The Stand.” Robin Cook gave us “Outbreak” in the 80s. By the 2000s, Max Brooks’s “World War Z” and related “The Zombie Survival Guide” were deemed so plausible for emergency scenarios that Brooks now consults for the military. And in 2014, Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven,” about a deadly plague called the “Georgia Flu,” dominated award lists and won widespread recognition.
With the coronavirus on everyone’s minds, reading books about epidemics can either be a frightening turnoff or a fascinating “what if” thought experiment. For readers in the latter category, let’s talk about books you might dare to consider.
… Though the two had never met before, Delany has been hugely influential on Harris, and served as the basis for a character in the latter’s 2019 Black Exhibition, at the Bushwick Starr. And Delany was very aware of Harris. The superstar playwright made an indelible mark on the culture, and it was fitting that the two should meet on Broadway, in Times Square, Delany’s former epicenter of activity, which he detailed at length in his landmark Times Square Red, Times Square Blue and The Mad Man. …
Over turkey club sandwiches and oysters, Harris and Delany discussed identity, fantasy, kink, and getting turned on in the theater.
Can I ask you about the play? How are you processing it?
I was confused in the beginning, but then I realized, Aha! This is therapy. And then, Aha! The therapists are nuts! Then I traveled around having sympathy for all the characters, especially the stupid good-looking guy. He was sweet, I’ve had a lot of those. The character that I identified with most is the one who insists that he’s not white. I used to get that all the time, I mean, the number of times I was told by my friends at Dalton, Well, I would never know that you were black. As if I had asked them.
One of the best things that ever happened to me happened when I was about ten, which was a long time ago. I was born in 1942, so this is 1952, and I’m sitting in Central Park doing my math homework. This kid, he could have been about nineteen or twenty, and I think he was homeless, he walks up to me, and he says to me with his Southern accent, You a n****, ain’t you? I can tell. You ain’t gonna get away with nothin’ with me.
And I looked up at him, I didn’t say anything, and he looked at me and said, That’s all right. You ain’t gonna get away with nothing from me.
And I was so thankful for it. I realized, first of all, he was right. He was being much more honest with me than any of my school friends.
It was also my first exposure to white privilege. There were a lot of white people from the South who felt obliged to walk up and say, You’re black, aren’t you? They thought it was their duty. In case I thought, for a moment, that they didn’t know. This was part of my childhood: people telling me that I was black….
Rosel George Brown is a classic SF author of whom I have long been aware without managing to track down much of her work. Step IV was in fact the third Brown piece I ever read, after 1959’s ?“Car Pool”, and Earthblood, her 1966 collaboration with Keith Laumer. In large part this is because her career was cut tragically short. Aged just 41, she died of lymphoma in 1967. Most of her work is very much out of print.
Still, this particular story is available. What did my Young People make of it?
…During World War II, he was a civilian scientist with the Royal Air Force’s Bomber Command.
After the war, he came to the U.S. to study physics. Together with physicist Richard Feynman, he was able to reconcile two competing theories of quantum electrodynamics, the study of how sub-atomic particles and light interact. “He was able to show that all these different points of view were one and the same thing,” Dijkgraaf says. “He was a great unifier of physics.”
… Dyson permanently joined the Institute for Advanced Study in 1953. From his perch there, he pursued many other topics of interest. He helped to design an inherently safe nuclear reactor that could be operated “even in the hands of an idiot.” In 1958, he joined Project Orion, a plan to power a spacecraft with controlled nuclear explosions.
The spaceship was never built, but Dyson later described it as “the most exciting and in many ways happiest of my scientific life.” Dijkgraaf says Dyson was probably one of the few people on Earth that felt let down by the 1969 moon landings: “This all looked very disappointing in Freeman’s eyes,” he says. Dyson wanted to go to Saturn with nuclear-fueled rockets. “[He] was kind of envisioning jet planes, and in the end we took a bicycle.”
February 28, 1956 — The “A Pail of Air” episode of X-One first aired. A boy narrates tale of a lifeless Earth. The Earth has been pulled away from its orbit by a comet when he was a baby, and his family live in a nest. The script’s by George Lefferts from a story by Fritz Leiber. Two more episodes would be based on stories by him, “Appointment in Tomorrow” and “The Moon is Green”. The cast includes Ronnie Liss, Pamela Hamilton and Joe De Santis. You can hear it here.
February 28, 1989 — Journey To The Center Of The Earth premiered. It was written by Debra Ricci, Regina Davis, Kitty Chalmers, and Rusty Lemorande, as directed by Lemorande and Albert Pyun. It starred Emo Philips, Paul Carafotes, Jaclyn Bernstein and Kathy Ireland,. It was based on an uncompleted version for a different studio that Lemorande wrote and directed which was much more more faithful to Verne’s text. It was a sort of sequel to the film Alien from L.A.which has been noted here before. Critics usually used one word to describe it — “a mess”. Though it actually has a middling rating among the audiences Rotten Tomatoes at 42%.
February 28, 2011 — Tyrannosaurus Azteca premiered on Sci-fi. (Also known as Rex Aztec.) It was directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith as written by Richard Manning. It starred Starring: Ian Ziering, Shawn Lathrop, Milan Tresnak, Marc Antonio, Dichen Lachman and Jack McGee. It was made on he cheap, less than a million in total and critics noted that the CGI at times is much less than believable. You can see it here.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 28, 1913 — John Coleman Burroughs. Artist known for his illustrations of the works of his father, Edgar Rice Burroughs. At age 23, he was given the chance to illustrate his father’s book, The Oakdale Affair and the Rider which was published in 1937. He went on to illustrate all of his father’s books published during the author’s lifetime — a total of over 125 illustrations. He also illustrated the John Carter Sunday newspaper strip, a David Innes of Pellucidar comic book feature and myriad Big Little Book covers. I remember the latter books — they were always to be found about the house during my childhood. (Died 1979.)
Born February 28, 1928 — Walter Tevis. Author of The Man Who Fell to Earth which became the basis of the film of the same name starring David Bowie. There’s apparently a series planned of it. He also two other SF novels, The Steps of The Sun and Mockingbird. All off his work is available from the usual digital sources. (Died 1984.)
Born February 28, 1942 — Terry Jones. Member of Monty Python who is considered largely responsible for the program’s structure, in which sketches flowed from one to the next without the use of punchlines. He made his directorial debut with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which he co-directed with Gilliam, and also directed Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. He also wrote an early draft of Jim Henson’s 1986 film Labyrinth, though little of that draft remains in the final version. (Died 2020.)
Born February 28, 1946 — Leanne Frahm, 74. Australian writer whose “Deus Ex Corporus” won the Ditmar Award for best Australian short fiction. She won a Ditmar again in for “Catalyst”. Her story “Borderline” won an Aurealis Award for best science fiction short story. She’s won the Ditmar Award for best fan writer twice.
Born February 28, 1947 — Stephen Goldin, 73. Author of the Family d’Alembert series which is based on a novella by E.E. “Doc” Smith. I think the novella is “Imperial Stars” but that’s unclear from the way the series is referred to. Has anyone read this series? How does it match up to the source material?
Born February 28, 1960 — Dorothy Stratten. She played the title role in Galaxina. She also showed up on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as Miss Cosmos in the “Cruise Hip to the Stars” episode. And she was Mickey on the Fantasy Island episode of “The Victim/The Mermaid”. (Died 1980.)
Born February 28, 1968 — John Barnes, 62. I read and really liked the four novels in his Thousand Cultures series which are a sort of updated Heinleinian take on the spread of humanity across the Galaxy. What else by him do y’all like? He’s decently stocked by the usual digital suspects.
Born February 28, 1970 — Lemony Snicket, 50. He’s the author of several children’s books, also serving as the narrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Though I’ve not read the books, they’re very popular I’m told at my local bookstore. It has been turned into a film, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, and into a Netflix series as well which is named, oh you guess.
My guest this time around was Keith R.A. DeCandido, who has written novels and short stories in so many franchises — more than 30, including Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Doctor Who, Supernatural, Stargate SG-1, Farscape, and on and on — that a decade ago he was named Grandmaster by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.
He writes fiction in his own worlds as well, including multiple novels and short stories in the Dragon Precinct series, a police procedural set in a high fantasy universe. He also writes reviews and essays for tor.com, including his popular rewatches of multiple Star Treks, Stargate SG-1, and other series. And those are just a few of his facets, which include music, martial arts, and more.
…Young fans are interesting to us because the audience of people who have been most interested in our work so far is relatively small and skews to an older demographic. We cherish this community of long-time fans with some existing connection to the history we study, but we are also interested in reaching a younger audience who have little to no connection to early fan history.
This begs the question…
Are Young People Interested in Early Fan History?
This is a question we ask ourselves often..
Although almost none of the First Fans of the 1930s are still with us, we fortunately can learn something of their stories through the people that knew them. This is the core community of collaborators and readers that we have interacted with through the course of this project so far, and is one primary audience for our work.
But what about, for lack of a better phrase, young people? Do Millennials and Gen Z, born into the chaotic fullness of modern fandom, have any interest in the origin story of the SFF fan community?
Far below Toronto’s streets, Safe provides a refuge to beings living with marvelous gifts and onerous curses—people who, if caught by the authorities, would be subjected to unpleasant experiments. Some of the refugees have been so subjected before they escaped to Safe.
Matthew is able to pass for a regular human. He can venture above to buy necessary supplies without letting any normal know that Safe exists….
(12) THE DOCTOR. THE MASTER. THE CYBERMEN. “Set
course… for Gallifrey” The Doctor Who season 12 finale airs March
1 on BBC One.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, JJ,
Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Bill, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
day Chip Hitchcock, assisted by Anna Nimmhaus.]
By Mark Blackman: On the damp, almost-almost summer
evening of Wednesday, June 19th, the monthly Fantastic Fiction
Readings Series hosted authors Keith R.A. DeCandido and Chuck Wendig at its
venue, the aptly-named Red Room at the 2nd floor KGB Bar in
Manhattan’s East Village.
The event opened, as customary, with Series co-host Matthew
Kressel’s exhortation to support the Bar by buying a drink and tipping the
bartenders who help hydrate, and announcing upcoming readers:
July 17: Cadwell Turnbull, Theodora Goss
August 21: Lara Elena Donnelly, Paul
September 18: Sarah Beth Durst, Sarah
October 16: Nicole Kornher-Stace, Barbara
dates are the third Wednesday of the month. Details and lineup well into 2019
and the dawn of 2020 are available at the Series website.) He concluded by
introducing the evening’s first reader, Keith R.A. DeCandido (who is used to his name being misspelled or
Keith, whom I know from way, way back and who is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his fiction writing career, is perhaps best known for his media tie-in work across “33 different universes, from Alien to Zorro” (one of his releases this year is Alien: Isolation, based on the classic movie series), which earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 and even inspired one fan to cosplay him. His original work includes a fantasy police procedural series – the latest is Mermaid Precinct – and A Furnace Sealed, launching a new urban fantasy series set in the Bronx (a borough sorely neglected by urban fantasy, he feels), where he currently lives. He read from Chapter 5 of the latter novel.
Gold, MD, is, in his other profession, a courser, an agent for the Wardena, who
is in charge of all magic in the area, monitoring and, where necessary,
restricting it. While facing the pseudo-Haitian Madame Verité (“Mrs. Truth”),
he discovers that something is interfering with spells. (We meanwhile learn
that “unicorns are nasty” and, in detail, how difficult it is to drive and park
in the Bronx, even on Sunday.)
After an intermission, Series co-host Ellen Datlow took the podium
and introduced the second reader of the night.
Chuck Wendig was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. His body of work includes the bestselling Star Wars: Aftermath, (like DeCandido, he is no stranger to media tie-in novels), the Miriam Black thrillers, the Atlanta Burns books, Zer0es/Invasive, and Wanderers (coming in July); he has also written comics, games, films and more, and served as the co-writer of the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus. He is also known for his blog, terribleminds.com, and books about writing, such as Damn Fine Story.
His offering was the opening of Wanderers. In the wake of Comet Sakomoto (which became as famous as Halley’s and Hale-Bopp), a plague of sleepwalkers (more than a dozin’, sorry) have joined together and cross the country, accompanied by followers. Shana is the sister of Nessie, one of the sleepwalkers.
The familiar bookstore was not set up at the back of the room
(therefore they don’t get a plug here), but DeCandido had copies of some of his
Prior to the readings, as is customary, Datlow wended through the
audience, snapping away; her photos of the event may be seen at the Series
(1) A NICE ROUND NUMBER. Air
New Zealand just might take up George
R.R. Martin’s suggestion to fly a bunch of his fans to next year’s
(2) CONZEALAND. Here’s an interview with the 2020 Worldcon chair recorded not long ago, but before the events in the first item.
We are back with our video coverage from Wellygeddon 2019, this time we talked to Norman, one of the awesome people behind CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, which is happening on 29th July – 2nd August 2020, and they are looking for volunteers!
(3) NO CHESSIECON THIS
YEAR. Chessiecon 2019 has
been cancelled. The convention had been
planned for November 29-December 1, 2019 in Baltimore. Refunds
are promised. The committee says the con will return in 2020. Chair Joshua Kronengold explained:
None of us wanted this outcome. However, lack of responsiveness from the hotel, combined with information from current and former staff about its current state, has led us inexorably to a lack of confidence that the Red Lion is capable of hosting a convention to our standards. This hotel has been used by first Darkover since 1988 and Chessiecon from the start, but over the years we have received an increasing number of complaints about it, and this year the problems have become untenable. The committee discussed the options in considerable depth before reaching this decision, but see no way to continue for 2019 without sacrificing the quality of our convention. We decided it would be more productive to focus our energies on future years….
(4) THEY’LL BE BACK. Terminator: Dark Fate comes to theatres November 1, 2019.
Welcome to the day after Judgment Day. …Linda Hamilton (“Sarah Connor”) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (“T-800”) return in their iconic roles in Terminator: Dark Fate, directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool) and produced by visionary filmmaker James Cameron and David Ellison. …Also stars Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, and Diego Boneta.
Chuck Wendig is the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Aftermath, as well as the Miriam Black thrillers, the Atlanta Burns books, Zer0es/Invasive, and Wanderers coming in July 2019. He’s also written comics, games, film, and more. He was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, an alum of the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, and served as the cowriter of the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus. He is also known for his popular blog, terribleminds.com, and books about writing such as Damn Fine Story. He lives in Pennsylvania with his family.
Keith R.A. DeCandido
Keith R.A. DeCandido is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his fiction writing career. His media tie-in fiction — which earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 — covers 33 different universes, from Alien to Zorro. His original work includes stories set in the fictional cities of Cliff’s End and Super City, as well as the somewhat real locales of New York and Key West. His 2019 novels include Mermaid Precinct, the latest in his fantasy police procedural series; Alien: Isolation, based on the classic movie series; and A Furnace Sealed, launching a new urban fantasy series taking place in the Bronx, where Keith currently lives with assorted humans and felines.
The event takes place Wednesday, June 19, starting 7 p.m.
at KGB Bar,85 East 4th
Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs), New York, NY
… “Resistance” can mean something unintentional, like friction. It doesn’t necessarily mean a deliberate anti-commercial mission. At the roots of fandom, noncommercialism probably meant doing DIY things the mainstream wasn’t doing. Now, when some furries make a living from business with other fans, you can call it organically indie. That’s not exactly a coordinated alternative, like socialistic co-ops….
How commercialism creeps in and complicates the fandom: There’s an exchange when fandom had roots in the mainstream, built an alternative place, and then influences the mainstream back. To win over fans as consumers, outsiders might tiptoe up to a line between respectable and weird, but not cross it. They may get resistance while the line protects independence. In fandom or out, engaging can be shaky for projects that need serious support (like a movie that needs a budget to get made right.) Worthy projects can fail because you can’t please all the people all of the time. Others can succeed by pleasing people while scamming or exploiting the base that made it possible.
If furry is commercializing, it can be seen in success of furry game devs, Youtubers, or Esports stars (like SonicFox). On the outside, furries show up in commercials/ads and music videos of non-indie artists. Psuedo-fursuits at Walmart or cheap knockoffs at DHGate may rise closer to fandom quality….
The book features many of the great names we would expect to see—the Galileos and Einsteins—but you also draw attention to unheralded and underappreciated astronomers, many of them women. Is it fair to say that some of the lost remarkable work done over the past 100 years has been done by women, either as individuals or in teams, like the Harvard Computers?
They have had a huge impact. The Harvard Computers in the early twentieth century, including Annie Jump Cannon, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, and later Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, were responsible for making sense of the different types of stars, understanding how to measure vast distances in the universe, and figuring out what stars are actually made of. Other pioneering women include Vera Rubin, who solidified the evidence for invisible dark matter, and Jocelyn Bell Burnell. She discovered an entirely new type of spinning star that is so dense that a teaspoonful would weigh as much as a mountain.
(8) FANAC FOR THE MASSES. SF
fan Louis Russell Chauvenet
coined the word “fanzine” in 1940. It has since permeated popular culture – witness
the LA Zine Fest (happening May 26) which
encourages people “make a fanzine about a band, artist, activist, organizer,
writer…anyone who inspires you!”
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 23, 1921 — James Blish. What was his best work? Cities in Flight? A Case of Conscience? I’d argue it was one of those works. Certainly it wasn’t the Trek novels though he pumped them out — nearly ninety all told if I’m reading ISFDB right. And I hadn’t realized that he wrote one series, the Pantropy series, under a pen name (Arthur Merlyn). (Died 1975.)
Born May 23, 1933 — Joan Collins, 86. Edith Keeler in the “City of the Edge of Forever” episode — initial script by Harlan Ellison with rewrites by Gene Roddenberry, Steven W. Carabatsos and D. C. Fontana. I see she’s done a fair amount of other genre work including being Baroness Bibi De Chasseur / Rosy Shlagenheimer in the “The Galatea Affair” of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. andThe Siren Lorelei in the “Ring Around the Riddler” and “The Wail of the Siren” episodes of Batman.
Born May 23, 1933 — Margaret Aldiss. Wife of Brian Aldiss. She wrote extensively on her husband’s work including The Work of Brian W. Aldiss: An Annotated Bibliography & Guide. He in turn wrote When the Feast is Finished: Reflections on Terminal Illness, a look at her final days. She also co-edited the A is for Brian anthology with Malcolm Edwards and Frank Hatherley. (Died 1997.)
Born May 23, 1935 — Susan Cooper, 84. Author of the superb Dark is Rising series. Her Scottish castle set YA Boggart series is lighter in tone and just plain fun. I’d also recommend Dreams and Wishes: Essays on Writing for Children which is quite excellent.
Born May 23, 1979 — Brian James Freeman, 40. Horror author. Novels to date are Blue November Storms, This Painted Darkness and Black Fire (as James Kidman). He’s also done The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book which he co-authored with Bev Vincent and which is illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne. He publishes limited edition books here.
Born May 23, 1986 — Ryan Coogler, 33. Co-writer with Joe Robert Cole of Black Panther which he also directed, as he will Black Panther 2. Producer, Space Jam 2 (pre-production)
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Brevity comes up with another delightfully dreadful Game of Thrones-themed pun.
…Modern crime fiction has nothing on the ingenuity, brutality and sheer bizarreness of the offenses committed in classic fairy tales. Moreover, fairy tales are ruthless. Our contemporary crime novels have the monopoly on moral ambiguity, true, but fairy tales take no prisoners and often offer no redemption. Mercy is not a hallmark of the genre and even the kindest, most benevolent maid-turned-princess isn’t afraid to take out her wicked stepmother.
A conversation with Arielle Saiber, Professor of Romance Languages at Bowdoin College. Covering topics that range from hallucinatory landscapes to Dante’s primum mobile, our conversation touched on the quest for harmony between the computational aspects of math and the physical aspects of writing, printing, and typography. Based on the lives of four scholars who lived during the Italian Renaissance, we explore their use of symbols and codes, their modes of teaching and expression, and the interdisciplinary nature of their work.
…But when you take it all together–the amazing series, the precipitous decline, and the absolute travesty of Season Eight… it final episode comes through as a good mood piece. This episode was the final death rattle of a show we once loved. It was a funeral for vision and beauty. Everything was dark and dreary and awful, and even the sunny day at the end was basically a spiteful sun-god laughing at all men’s follies; rather than cheerful.
(14) CUTTING OUT THE MIDDLE
(AND EVERY OTHER) MAN. This robotic delivery concept is making news today:
Ford is teaming up with Agility Robotics to explore how the company’s new robot, Digit, can help get packages to your door efficiently with the help of self-driving vehicles. Not only does Digit work collaboratively with self-driving vehicles, but it can also walk up stairs and past unexpected obstacles to get packages straight to your doorstep.
Not only did Tama’s sweet nature and photogenic features make her popular with commuters on the Kishigawa railway, but the ‘cat master’ became so famous she was knighted.
On a bright May morning at Japan’s Idakiso train station, a small cat basked in the sun as her photo was taken by a group of tourists before getting a tummy tickle from a toddler. While the white, tan and black kitten purred and meowed in the arms of a visitor, one of the station workers looked on with a grin, interjecting only to gently reposition the cat’s brimmed conductor hat whenever it threatened to slip over her eyes.
“Having her around the station makes everyone happy,” he said, as the cat playfully swiped at a tourist’s iPhone. “I sometimes forget that she is my boss.”
Meet Yontama, the latest in a line of feline stationmasters that has helped save the Kishigawa railway line in Japan’s Wakayama prefecture, a largely mountainous and rural part of the country famous for temple-studded hillsides and sacred pilgrimage trails.
This story began in the late 1990s with a young calico cat called Tama. The kitten lived near Kishi Station – the final of 14 stops on a 14.3km line that connects small communities to Wakayama City, the region’s hub – and would frequently hang out by the railway, soaking up affection from commuters.
Israeli researchers have unveiled a “breakthrough” beer made from ancient yeast up to 5,000 years old.
Researchers from the Antiquities Authority and three Israeli universities extracted six strains of the yeast from old pottery discovered in the Holy Land.
It is believed to be similar to beverages enjoyed by the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt.
The team said it hoped to make the drink available in shops one day.
“I remember that when we first brought out the beer we sat around the table and drank… and I said either we’ll be good or we’ll all be dead in five minutes,” said Aren Maeir, an archaeologist with Bar-Ilan University. “We lived to tell the story”.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In
Anvil on Vimeo, Geriko tells about a
young woman downloading her brain in preparations for the afterlife.
Daniel Dern, Andrew, Keith Lynch, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Cat
Eldridge JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Mlex, Michael Toman, Andrew
Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File
770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]
…You might note also that negative reviews are one of the ways we communicate with creators of products and arbiters of service in order to improve the quality of that product or that service — which is true! If someone at American Airlines shits in my bag, I’m gonna say something on Twitter, and I’m going to say it to American Airlines. If the dishwasher I bought was full of ants, you bet I’m going to tag GE in that biz when I go to Twitter. But books are not dishwashers or airlines. You can’t improve what happened. It’s out there. The book exists. You can’t fix it now. And art isn’t a busted on-switch, or a broken door, or a poopy carryon bag, or an ant-filled dishwasher….
(2) THE PERIPHERALS
WHISPERER. Ursula Vernon has many talents – this is another one.
(3) KGB READINGS. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading
series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Simon Strantzas and Kai
Ashante Wilson on Wednesday, May 15, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, NY, just off 2nd
Simon Strantzas is the author of five collections of short fiction, including Nothing is Everything (Undertow Publications, 2018), and is editor of the award-winning Aickman’s Heirs and Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 3. His fiction has appeared in numerous annual best-of anthologies, in venues such as Nightmare, Postscripts, and Cemetery Dance, and has been nominated for both the British Fantasy and Shirley Jackson awards. He lives with his wife in Toronto, Canada.
Kai Ashante Wilson
Kai Ashante Wilson won the Crawford award for best first novel of 2016, and his works have been shortlisted for the Hugo, Nebula, Shirley Jackson, Theodore Sturgeon, Locus, and World Fantasy awards. Most of his stories are available on Tor.com. His novellas The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps and A Taste of Honey may be ordered from local bookstores or online. Kai Ashante Wilson lives in New York City.
I am a fat guy. I will likely always be a fat guy.
Fat Thor is not fat-shaming.
Fat Thor is character humor: the man has given up. Tony Stark went in one direction, the Odinson went in another. He’s a binge-drinking, binge-eating, emotionally fragile shell of himself, and while some of the other characters make unkind (and, dammit, funny) remarks, it is his diminishment and not his enlargement that is the source of the humor.
Sure, bloody explain it to me now.
I don’t know, I don’t understand.
Fvck you, I’m a fat guy. I do know, I do understand. I have been mocked for my weight, sometimes viciously. I know it all.
(I haven’t personally encountered these complaints, I can only assume
there must be some, else why Castro’s post.)
Ah for those halcyon days. Now Fantastic is showcasing fabulous Leiber, Moorcock, and Le Guin. Moreover, Vic has added the superlative Worlds of Tomorrow to her beat. What have I got? Analog is drab and dry, Avram Davidson has careened F&SF to the ground, IF is inconsistent, and Galaxy…ah, my poor, once beloved Galaxy…
(6) TERRAIN TERROR. Laird Barron now writes crime
novels set in Alaska. But he used to be a horror writer, and “In Noir,
Geography Is a Character” on CrimeReads, Barron
has anecdotes about Michael Shea and the World Fantasy Convention in San Jose.
…A decade ago, bound for the World Fantasy Convention in San Jose, I stared out the window of a light commercial plane swooping in low over the Central Valley. Low enough I made out details of oak trees covering big hills and the rusty check patterns of the yards of individual homes. Country roads radiated like nerves from a plexus. Cars crawled along those snaking roads through golden dust. The rumpled land subtly descended toward the haze of the Pacific. I realized this was where Michael Shea got his flavor. This “obvious” revelation slapped me in the face.
Michael left us too soon five years later in 2014. His memory looms large in the weird fiction and horror fields as the man who wrote the landmark collection Polyphemus. A deep vein of mystery and noir travels through his work, grounding the fantastical tropes. I’d read him since my latter teens, absorbing the unique cadence of his prose without giving conscious thought to how echoes of the natural world inflected his grimiest urban settings, how the superstructures and sprawl of his version of LA and San Francisco were influenced by the ancient earth they occupy….
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
This was a big date in sff history.
May 9, 1973 — Soylent Green premiered.
May 9, 1986 — Short Circuit debuted in theatres.
May 9, 1997 — The Fifth Element arrived in movie houses.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 9, 1860 — J. M. Barrie. Author of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, which I’ve read a number of times. Of the movie versions, I like Steven Spielberg’s Hook the best. The worst use of the character, well of Wendy to be exact, is in Lost Girls, the sexually explicit graphic novel by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie. If you’ve not read it, don’t bother. (Died 1937.)
Born May 9, 1920 — William Tenn was the pen name of Philip Klass. Clute says in ESF that ‘From the first, Tenn was one of the genre’s very few genuinely comic, genuinely incisive writers of short fiction, sharper and more mature than Fredric Brown and less self-indulgent in his Satirical take on the modern world than Robert Sheckley.’ That pretty sums him up I think. All of his fiction is collected in two volumes from NESFA Press, Immodest Proposals: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume I and Here Comes Civilization: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume II. (Died 2010.)
Born May 9, 1920 — Richard Adams. I really loved Watership Down when I read it long ago — will not read it again so the Suck Fairy may not visit it. Reasonably sure I’ve read Shardik once but it made no impression one way or the the other. Heard good things about Tales from Watership Down and should add it my TBR pile. (Died 2016.)
Born May 9, 1925 — Kris Ottman Neville. His most famous work, the novella Bettyann, is considered a classic of science fiction by no less than Barry Malzberg. He wrote four novels according to ISFDB over a rather short period of a decade and a number of short story stories over a longer period. (Died 1980.)
Born May 9, 1936 — Albert Finney. His first genre performance is as Ebenezer Scrooge in Scrooge. That’s followed by being Dewey Wilson in Wolfen, a deeply disturbing film. He plays Edward Bloom, Sr. In the wonderful Big Fish and voices Finis Everglot in Corpse Bride. He was Kincade in Skyfall. He was Maurice Allington in The Green Man based on Kingsley Amis’ novel of the same name. Oh and he played Prince Hamlet in Hamlet at the Royal National Theatre way back in the Seventies! (Died 2019.)
Born May 9, 1951 — Geoff Ryman, 68. His first novel, The Unconquered Country, was winner of the World Fantasy Award and British Science Fiction Association Award. I’m really intrigued that The King’s Last Song during the Angkor Wat era and the time after Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, grim times indeed for an SF novel.
Born May 9, 1979 — Rosario Dawson, 40. First shows as Laura Vasquez in MiB II. Appearances thereafter are myriad with my faves including being the voice of Wonder Women in the DC animated films, Persephone in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and her take as Claire Temple across the entire Netflix Marvel universe.
In 1981, Eastercon was held in Leeds. Four attendees were David Pringle, Simon Ounsley, Alan Dorey (then chairman of the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA)) and Graham James. David Pringle was a co-chairman of the convention and Simon Ounsley was assisting with the finances. The convention made a profit of £1,300, which Simon states was completely unintentional and purely down to cautious budgeting. At Graham James’ suggestion, the committee agreed to use the money to launch an SF magazine. Simon recalls how controversial this decision was at the time, but in any event, the four men teamed up to start a magazine.
At the same time, four friends in London were also trying to get an SF magazine off the ground. They were Malcolm Edwards, who worked for SF publisher Gollancz, and SF critics John Clute, Colin Greenland, and Roz Kaveney. They had asked the BSFA if they would publish the magazine and it had declined. However, Alan made David aware of the London proposal and the two groups got together.
As Simon says, this was an ideal match because the Leeds contingent had the money and the London team had the connections. The name of the magazine was suggested by David. It was an imaginary city in the William S. Burroughs novel Naked Lunch.
Moviegoers across the country were able to see Tolkien ahead of its release this Friday, along with a Q&A moderated by Lord of the Rings super-fan Stephen Colbert, even if they weren’t at the Montclair Film Festival in New Jersey on Tuesday for the first-ever screening of the movie.
The panel, featuring the Fox Searchlight film’s stars Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins with director Dome Karukoski, was simulcast to select theaters following special screenings. In Montclair, Karukoski revealed what goes into a film like Tolkien, which chronicles the formative years of J.R.R. Tolkien’s life as he forms friendships, goes to war and falls in love….
To close out the Q&A, Colbert praised Karukoski’s efforts and Tolkien itself. “Thank you for the film you created. It reminds me of the power of story, and how it can give us hope,” the late-night host said before citing one of Tolkien’s quotes from The Return of the King: “I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”
Continued Colbert, “I cried many times watching this film, and I want to thank you for those tears of pain and of those tears of joy and thank you for what you have given me of his [Tolkien’s] life and for your beautiful performances.”
Although these supernovae are rarer than neutronstar mergers, the larger amount of material ejected per event compensates for the lower rate of occurrence. We calculate that collapsars may supply more than 80 per cent of the r-process heavy element content of the Universe.
…Mort Drucker’s art is exquisite as always, and DeBartolo’s writing is top notch, loaded with puns and hilarious jokes. (Spook: “That’s what your MIND says! What does your HEART say?” Kook: “Pit-a-pat! Pit-a-pat! Pit-a-pat — just like everybody else’s!”) But one of the most interesting things about this parody is the way the story wraps up — the solution is for the Boobyprize to reverse orbit and go back in time. You might recognize this plot device from the first Superman movie. Somehow DeBartolo ripped it off, despite “Star Blecch” coming out 11 years before the film.
Today I’ve gathered Brian, Mike, Phoebe and Vance to chat about our Endgame reactions: what made us punch the air in glee and what had us sliding down in our seats in frustration. Needless to say, all the spoilers are ahead and you really shouldn’t be here unless you’ve had a chance to see the movie first.
Adri: So, Endgame! That was fun. Even more fun than I expected after, you know, all the dead people and the feelings about them.
Brian: First impressions are that I thought this was a great conclusion to all of the movies that came before it. The MCU could stop here (it won’t, but it could) and I would be completely satisfied.
Vance: The woman seated next to me — and I’ve never experienced this in a movie theater — started taking deep, centering breaths the moment the lights went down. And I love her for it. Infinity War was a gauntlet for fans, yet she was there opening day for whatever came next, no matter how gutting. Turned out the movie was a lot of fanservice, so she made it through. As did I!
…Once a time window expires, park employees dressed as “Star Wars” characters will politely tell parkgoers that they need to leave the land to make way for new visitors.
Disneyland representatives say they expect that most guests will abide by the courteous directions to move on. But they remain mum about what will happen if guests ignore the requests.
“Four hours is a long time in the land,” said Kris Theiler, vice president of the Disneyland Park. “Most guests are going to find that they’re ready to roll after four hours.”
[Thanks to Greg Hullender, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]