Luis R. Rondon, former King of the Society for Creative Anachronism’s East Kingdom, was convicted by a jury today on charges of second degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the 2019 murder of Deborah Waldinger reports News 12.
A press release issued by the Orange County (NY) District Attorney says Rondon faces from 25 years to life in prison on the murder charge when he is sentenced on December 15.
Rondon, who was a peace officer and sergeant with the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority at the time of the murder, knew the victim through their activities in the Society for Creative Anachronism.
Prosecutors argued at trial that Rondon had killed Waldinger by repeatedly striking her on the head with a recently-purchased framing hammer. He then flew to California to attend the Great Western War sponsored by the Kingdom of Caid, a regional chapter of the SCA, and was arrested by Taft (CA) police where the event was in progress. Prosecutors argued that his reason for murdering Waldinger was that she had threatened to tell his wife about their relationship and that he feared losing his wife, his house, and his pension.
Trial continues next week for Luis R. Rondon, former King of the Society for Creative Anachronism’s East Kingdom, on charges in connection with the murder of Deborah Waldinger in October 2019 reports News12.
Court information shows that jury selection was completed on September 22, and the trial is expected to run through September 29.
Prosecutors believe Rondon used a framing hammer to beat 32-year-old Deborah Waldinger to death in her New Windsor, NY apartment on October 7, 2019. He then traveled to California to attend the Great Western War sponsored by the Kingdom of Caid, a regional chapter of the SCA, and was arrested by Taft (CA) police on October 11 at the Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area where the event was in progress. He was extradited to New York.
Rondon’s attorneys entered not guilty pleas on his behalf to charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, felonies; and misdemeanor weapon possession in November 2019.
(1) HWA CELEBRATES LATINX HERITAGE MONTH. From September 15 through October 15 the HWA will be celebrating Latinx Heritage month in a series of interviews conducted by social media manager Sumiko Saulson.
The series will begin with an introductory piece from Cynthia “Cina” Pelayo. An excerpt: “Following this month is a celebration of our Latinx horror writers. I want to thank the Horror Writers Association for hosting this celebration of our Latinx horror writers. This is an exciting time to be a horror writer and to be a Latinx horror writer. Our stories are important and I’m happy to see the wonderful support our works are receiving.”
Go to Horror.org on September 15 to read the rest.
(2) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Almost 5,000 items – mainly comics — were stolen from Florida State University’s Robert M. Ervin Jr. Collection between March 17, 2020 and February 10, 2021. The list of what was taken is here.
The Robert M. Ervin Jr. Collection consists of comic books, serials, and containing and related to superheroes, science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Publications include those by Marvel Comics, DC Comics, underground comix publishers, foreign language titles, pulp magazines, and Big Little Books. Over 1200 serial titles are represented, predominantly from the 1950s through the 1970s. Other works include monographs and serials related to comic book collecting, history, and criticism as well as posters and prints featuring comic book characters and art.
Unfortunately, most missing items are not marked in any way that distinguishes them from other copies of the same magazines. Some may have mailing labels for Tallahassee, Florida addresses. Missing items may have appeared on the secondary market as early as March 2020.
If you have any information about these materials, please contact FSU Special Collections & Archives: Katie McCormick, Associate Dean of FSU Special Collections & Archives: email@example.com
(3) THE BOOKER PRIZE. One book of genre interest has survived to join the half dozen on The Booker Prize shortlist. Its title is shown in boldface.
A Passage North, Anuk Arudpragasam (Granta Books, Granta Publications)
The Promise, Damon Galgut, (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, PRH)
No One is Talking About This, Patricia Lockwood (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)
The Fortune Men, Nadifa Mohamed (Viking, Penguin General, PRH)
Bewilderment, Richard Powers (Hutchinson Heinemann, PRH)
Great Circle, Maggie Shipstead (Doubleday, Transworld Publishers, PRH)
The winner will be announced on November 3.
(4) CORNERING THE MARKET. Horror Writers Association’s monthly Quick Bites tells that British horror author Graham Masterton has been honored for his work in Poland by the unveiling of a bronze dwarf on Kielbasnicza Street in the centre of Wroclaw.
It depicts him holding up a copy of his bestselling horror novel The Manitou, which told the story of a Native American shaman who was reincarnated after 400 years in the body of a white woman to take his revenge on the colonists who decimated his tribe. The Manitou was filmed with Tony Curtis, Susan Strasberg, Stella Stevens and Burgess Meredith.
The Manitou was the first Western horror novel published in Poland after the fall of Communism, and was a huge bestseller. Graham Masterton visits Poland regularly and supports several Polish charities, including an orphanage in Strzelin.
Wroclaw boasts nearly 600 dwarves on its streets and they are a huge tourist attraction.
.. What made this piece of fiction such a perennial hit? What made the exploits of Grignr, a barbarian, so relentlessly popular? Was it the wooden characters, the hackneyed plot? No. People generally agreed that it was the prose: the prose was spectacularly appalling. The special events at the science-fiction conventions were competitions: who could read the story aloud for the longest before beginning to laugh uncontrollably and thus be unable to continue?…
(6) HWA ONLINE READINGS. The Horror Writers Association “Galactic Terrors” online reading series for September 2021 features readings by Carol Gyzander, Sarah Read, and John Edward Lawson
CAROL GYZANDER writes and edits horror, dark fiction, and sci-fi. She’s Co-Coordinator of the HWA NY Chapter and one of the usual co-hosts of Galactic Terrors. …JOHN EDWARD LAWSON’s novels, short fiction, and poetry have garnered nominations for many awards, including the Stoker and Wonderland Awards. In addition to being a founder of Raw Dog Screaming Press and former editor-in-chief of The Dream People he currently serves as vice president of Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction. SARAH READ is a dark fiction writer in the frozen north of Wisconsin. Her short stories can be found in various places, including Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year vols 10 and 12. …Her debut novel THE BONE WEAVER’S ORCHARD, [was] nominated for the Bram Stoker, This is Horror, and Ladies of Horror Fiction Awards. Guest host MEGHAN ARCURI writes fiction. Her short stories can be found in various anthologies, including Borderlands 7 (Borderlands Press), Madhouse (Dark Regions Press), Chiral Mad, and Chiral Mad 3 (Written Backwards). She is currently the Vice President of the Horror Writers Association.
Products of an implausibly successful eugenics project, the long-lived Howard families become the focus of the mayfly masses’ paranoia that the Howards’ lifespan is not thanks to inherent genetic gifts but some secret they will not share. Life on Earth swiftly becomes untenable for the Howards. Those who can flee commandeer a sublight starship and flee to the stars, hoping to find a new world they can call home.
Earthlike worlds prove to be surprisingly common. There is however a small catch: the planet the Howards first encounter is already occupied. The alien Jockaira appear roughly comparable to humans. They are in fact property. The planet’s true masters are godlike, and they have no place for humans. An act of functionally divine will sends the Howards on their way… to a world whose gentle natives prove just as advanced in their way as the gods and even more disquieting to mortal humans.
(8) ROAD LESS TAKEN. Connie Willis told her Facebook followers they have a new book to look forward to. She describes the plot at the link.
Random House has bought my new novel and it will be coming out….well, I don’t actually know when it will be coming out. There’s still the rewrite to do with my editor and then the galleys and stuff, but hopefully soon.
The novel is called THE ROAD TO ROSWELL, and it’s a comedy about UFOs and alien abduction (I mean, what else could it be but a comedy when aliens are involved?)
(9) NORM MACDONALD (1959-2021). A comic best known for his work on Saturday Night Live, Norm Macdonald died September 14 of cancer. McDonald did a lot of voice work for genre animated (and some non-animated) films/TV as well as having a recurring role in the first two seasons of The Orville voicing the blob Yaphit, a Gelatin Lieutenant and Engineer.
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1964 – Fifty seven years ago this evening on ABC, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea premiered. It’s based on the 1961 film of the same name. Both were created by Irwin Allen, which enabled the film’s sets, costumes, props, special effects models, and even sometimes the footage of the film to be used in the television series. It was the first of Irwin Allen’s four SF series (the latter series being Lost in Space, The Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants.) It starred as Richard Basehart as Admiral Harriman Nelson and David Hedison as Captain Lee Crane Robert. It would last for four seasons of one hundred and ten episodes. A 39-inch Seaview Moebius Model Kit was sold during the series. You can purchase it on eBay.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 14, 1927 — Martin Caidin. His best-known novel is Cyborg which was the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man franchise. He wrote two novels in the Indiana Jones franchise and one in the Buck Rogers one as well. He wrote myriad other sf novels as well. Marooned was nominated for a Hugo at Heicon ’70 but TV coverage of Apollo XI won that year. he Six Million Dollar Man film was a finalist for Best Dramatic Presentation at Discon II which Woody Allen’s Sleeper won. (Died 1997.)
Born September 14, 1936 — Walter Koenig, 85. Best known for his roles as Pavel Chekov on the original Trek franchise and Alfred Bester (named in homage of that author and a certain novel) on Babylon 5. Moontrap, a SF film with him and Bruce Campbell, would garner a twenty-eight percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Alienable which he executive produced, wrote and acts in has no rating there.
Born September 14, 1941 — Bruce Hyde. Patterns emerge in doing these Birthdays. One of these patterns is that original Trek had a lot of secondary performers who had really short acting careers. He certainly did. He portrayed Lt. Kevin Riley in two episodes, “The Naked Time” and “The Conscience of the King” and the rest of his acting career consisted of eight appearances, four of them as Dr. Jeff Brenner on Dr. Kildare. He acted for less than two years in ‘65 and ‘66, before returning to acting thirty four years later to be in The Confession of Lee Harvey Oswald which is his final role. (Died 2015.)
Born September 14, 1944 — Rowena Morrill. Well-known for her genre illustration, she is one of the first female artists to impact paperback cover illustration. Her notable works include The Fantastic Art of Rowena, Imagine (French publication only), Imagination (German publication only), and The Art of Rowena. Though nominated for the Hugo four times, she never won, but garnered the British Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. OGH’s obituary for her is here. (Died 2021.)
Born September 14, 1947 — Sam Neill, 74. Best known for role of Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park, which he reprised in Jurassic Park III, and will play again in the forthcoming Jurassic World: Dominion. He was also in Omen III: The Final Conflict, Possession, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Snow White: A Tale of Terror, Bicentennial Man, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, Thor: Ragnarok and Peter Rabbit. Busy performer, genre wise.
Born September 14, 1961 — Justin Richards, 60. Clute at ESF says “Richards is fast and competent.” Well I can certain say he’s fast as he’s turned out thirty-five Doctor Who novels which Clute thinks are for the YA market between 1994 and 2016. There’s another nineteen novels written there. And he has other series going as well including being one of the main scriptwriters for the Jago & Litefoot Big Finish series, the characters being spin-offs from the Fourth Doctor story, “The Talons of Wang Chiang”. And then there’s the Doctor Who non-fiction which runs to over a half dozen works. Prolific, isn’t he?
Born September 14, 1972 — Jenny T. Colgan, 49. Prolific writer of short stories in the Whovian universe with a baker’s dozen to date, several centered on River Song. She novelized “The Christmas Invasion”, the first full Tenth Doctor story. She has two genre novels, Resistance Is Futile and Spandex and the City.
Born September 14, 1989 — Jessica Brown Findlay, 32. She appeared as Beverly Penn in the film version of Mark Helprin‘s Winter’s Tale novel. She’s Lorelei in Victor Frankenstein, a modern take on that novel, and plays Lenina Crowne in the current Brave New World series on Peacock. Finally I’ll note she was Abi Khan on Black Mirrior’s “Fifteen Million Merits“ episode.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Adam@Homeconfirms nothing needs doing more than reading.
FoxTrot finds another way students are annoyed with their parents.
Tom Gauld’s scientists’ attack of conscience is too late to help.
(13) HORROR COOK BOOK COMING. The HWA Cook Book edited by Marge Simon, Robert Payne Cabeen, and Kate Jonez will be available in 2022. The cover art is by Robert Payne Cabeen.
(14) FREE OR YOU NAME IT. Charles Sheffield’s The Cyborg from Earth is the latest ebook in the Publisher’s Pick program, which you may set your own price for. The cart will show the suggested price of $1.99. You may change it to any price including $0.00. (Mobi and Epub editions.)
(15) HARVEST OF SF NEWS. SF² Concatenation has just posted its autumnal edition of news (books, film, TV and science), articles and stand-alone book reviews.
v31(4) 2021.9.15 — New Columns & Articles for the Autumn2021
Universes all the way down (1-page PDF short story) – Matt Tighe; The aliens are more advanced and occasionally like to give a helping hand with things like, say, understanding the nature of the universe…
Provocative new research suggests the blood of astronauts, when mixed with Martian soil, can produce a durable concrete-like substance. Incredibly, other human bodily fluids were shown to make this biocomposite even stronger.
The first colonists to arrive on Mars will need to build shelters and spaces for work, but the Red Planet isn’t exactly bustling with hardware stores and material suppliers.
Ideally, the colonists could use some of the stuff that’s right there on Mars, such as regolith (soil), rocks, and water, the latter of which is sparse and hard to reach. Trouble is, these on-site resources don’t magically combine to produce viable construction materials….
Locke & Key follows 3 siblings who, after the murder of their father, move to their ancestral home only to find the house has magical keys that give them a vast array of powers and abilities.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Lise Andreasen, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day John M. Cowan.]
A few months after posting a message on Goodreads about the imminent release of a new book, Indie author Beth Black woke up to an all-caps ransom email from an anonymous server, demanding that she either pay for good reviews or have her books inundated with negative ones: “EITHER YOU TAKE CARE OF OUR NEEDS AND REQUIREMENTS WITH YOUR WALLET OR WE’LL RUIN YOUR AUTHOR CAREER,” the email, shared with TIME, read. “PAY US OR DISAPPEAR FROM GOODREADS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.”
Black, who has self-published both a romance novel and a collection of short stories in the past year, didn’t pay the ransom. “I reported it to Goodreads and then a couple hours later, I started noticing the stars dropping on my books as I started getting all these 1-star reviews,” she says. “It was quite threatening.”
Scammers and cyberstalkers are increasingly using the Goodreads platform to extort authors with threats of “review bombing” their work–and they are frequently targeting authors from marginalized communities who have spoken out on topics ranging from controversies within the industry to larger social issues on social media.
… Goodreads remains one of the primary tools on the internet for book discovery, meaning lesser-known authors often have to rely on the site to get their work noticed. But at this point, some feel that Goodreads’ ratings and reviews system is causing more harm than good.
In a July 29 statement to TIME, a spokesperson for Goodreads said that the company is actively working to resolve many of these review bombing problems.
“We take swift action to remove users when we determine that they violate our guidelines, and are actively assessing all available options to take further action against the small number of bad actors who have attempted extortion scams,” the statement read. “We have clear guidelines for reviews and participation in our community, and we remove reviews and/or accounts that violate these guidelines… We also continue to invest in making technology improvements to prevent bad actor behavior and inauthentic reviews in order to better safeguard our community.”
Review bombing, ransom emails and extortion
As author Rin Chupeco told TIME, Goodreads is a “good idea that slowly became unmanageable over the years due to lack of adequate moderation and general indifference.”
One emerging issue is review bombing: when a coordinated group, or a few people with multiple accounts, intentionally tank a book’s aggregate rating with a flurry of one-star ratings and negative reviews….
Often, speculative fiction relies on common government types, like monarchies and republics, because they’re familiar to readers. History, however, offers other examples of sociopolitical systems. They can be a gold mine for worldbuilding ideas that stretch beyond the mainstream.
… Cycling Governments
Age-sets are a sociopolitical system common in East Africa. Among Kenya’s Nandi people, each ibinda (age-set) corresponds to a stage of the life cycle. Boys and girls from each region would be initiated into their age-sets during a series of mass ceremonies. As an analogy, consider a series of nearby communities gathering children into one centralized boarding school then transitioning them out of school and into the lifestage of young adults marrying and being busy with young children, after which they would return to the workforce before finally amassing the experience to lead the community as political figures.
In the Ethiopian Highlands, this sort of cycling age-set system, known in some places as gadaa (for men) or siqqee (for women), led to the development of a republic with democratic elections and the peaceful transfer of power, which took roughly eight years to accomplish. It is not the “democratic republic” as described in ancient Greece. Men were bound to their neighbors by the bonds of shared experiences, handling infrastructure projects for the whole region. In some places, this led to peace. In others, expansion of the length of time men spent in the warrior stage meant an increase in raids and conquest.
(3) SILVERBERG TO BE DISCON III VIRTUAL PARTICIPANT. Robert Silverberg revealed online today: “Apparently I will be at the DC worldcon after all, though only virtually. Since I am unwilling to travel to the East Coast in wintertime, they have arranged for me to do a virtual conversation with Nancy Kress, with Alvaro Zinos-Amaro acting as moderator. So my 67-year streak of worldcon attendance will remain intact, if only virtually.”
…With the devastating final results of the 2015 Hugo Award, some Puppy supporters thought that the right response was to walk away from Worldcon and the Hugo Awards altogether. This was matched by some of the rhetoric from critics of the Puppies, who had suggested that the Puppy leadership should set up their own awards.
So it was both notable and not wholly a surprise when on March 31 2016 Dragon Con announced the first inaugural Dragon Awards with their own new website…
A few years ago we posted Kurt Vonnegut’s letter of advice to humanity, written in 1988 but addressed, a century hence, to the year 2088. Whatever objections you may have felt to reading this missive more than 70 years prematurely, you might have overcome them to find that the author of Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions single-mindedly importuned his fellow man of the late 21st century to protect the natural environment. He issues commandments to “reduce and stabilize your population” to “stop preparing for war and start dealing with your real problems,” and to “stop thinking science can fix anything if you give it a trillion dollars,” among other potentially drastic-sounding measures.
Commandment number seven amounts to the highly Vonnegutian “And so on. Or else.” A fan can easily imagine these words spoken in the writer’s own voice, but with Vonnegut now gone for well over a decade, would you accept them spoken in the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch instead?
(6) END TIMES. Netflix dropped this trailer for the final season of Lucifer today.
Lucifer scored the promotion, but does he really want the job? Plus, Chloe prepares to give up detective work, Amenadiel joins the LAPD, and more.
…[Doug Jones:] When you say yes to playing something that doesn’t look human, you’re saying yes to the entire process. I don’t get to shout: “Get this off me! It’s so hot and sticky.” I need the mindset of a performer, but also the endurance of an athlete, one who can take five or six hours of makeup application, then get through a long day of shooting.
Because of all the parts I’ve played, I often end up skipping the conventional casting process. People in creature effects just say: “It’s a tall skinny alien – we need Doug Jones.” I was playing the amphibian in the Oscar-winning film The Shape of Water when Star Trek: Discovery approached me. I was actually thinking “I’m not sure how much more rubber and glue I want in my life,” but there was no way I could turn it down. For Saru, I wear a four-piece prosthetic over my head that comes down past my collarbones, with gloves to change my hands. It’s all been moulded to my shape and pre-painted so getting it all glued on is only a two-hour process. I wear a Starfleet uniform like everybody else, but I do have special hoofed boots that add five inches to my height. That makes me about 6ft 8ins!…
(8) TRAPPED IN AMBER. Irish/Dutch writer couple Angeline B. Adams and Remco van Straten talk about the future of the sword and sorcery genre — and if it has one: “Fled & Done: Sword & Sorcery” at Turnip Lanterns.
…Modern Sword & Sorcery writers face an uphill battle, if they want to emerge from the shadow of Conan (including, and in particular, his Marvel comics and Schwarzenegger film incarnations). And that indeed sums up our dilemma: is it worth trying to expand the genre, when the general audience’s idea of S&S has calcified in cliché? Especially when a large section of S&S fans (and authors) have very firm ideas of what S&S was, is and always will be?…
(9) INTERNATIONAL TOLKIEN FANDOM. Brazilian podcast Tolkien Talk did a video Q&A with acclaimed Tolkien scholar Douglas Anderson. It’s the fifth in their series of major international interviews. Find the others at their Tolkien Talk YouTube channel.
Meet Douglas A. Anderson, creator of The Annotated Hobbit and one of the most important tolkienists of our time. All the way from his first contact with J.R.R. Tolkien’s work to unveiling misconceptions throughout the time, get an overview on Tolkien’s life and works from one that accessed them directly.
Author Anthony Horowitz has won the Best Mystery of the Decade award by Honkaku Mystery Writers Club for his first Daniel Hawthorne novel, The Word is Murder, making him the most-decorated foreign crime author in Japanese history.
Horowitz is the first author in Japanese history to win 16 literary awards in total, according to his publisher….
There are a multitude of reasons why people are hesitant or refusing to get the coronavirus vaccine in the midst of a pandemic that’s killed over 600,000 people in the U.S. and millions worldwide, from distrust in science and medicine to wariness towards the government and also… zombies?
A New York Times report last weekend about a Bronx-based eyewear company struggling to persuade its employees to get jabbed referenced one worker whose hesitancy was based off of the belief that the COVID vaccine is the shot that turned people into zombies in the 2007 post-apocalyptic film I Am Legend.
As the Times pointed out, the zombification portrayed in the box office hit starring Will Smith was caused by a genetically reprogrammed virus, not the vaccine for it. But the bizarre claim has still flourished on the hotbed of vaccination misinformation that is social media.
“Oh. My. God. It’s a movie. I made that up. It’s. Not. Real,” Goldsman tweeted in response to journalist and comic book writer Marc Bernadin, who shared a screencap of the article with quote, “We. Are. All. Going. To. Die. Sooner. Than. We. Should.”…
(12) MEMORY LANE.
2013 – Eight years ago, Futurama ended its run. It had four seasons on FOX, and when cancelled there was revived by Comedy Central and ran another three seasons. In between, reruns aired on Adult Swim. It was created by Matt Groening of Simpsons fame. Over its seven seasons, it would run for one hundred and seventy episodes. There would be four later films, Bender’s Big Score,The Beast with a Billion Backs, Bender’s Game and Into the Wild Green Yonder. It had a legendary voice cast of Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Phil LaMarr, Lauren Tom, David Herman and Frank Welker. It was nominated for a Nebula Award for Best Script for the “Where No Fan Has Gone Before” episode during the last season. It has a ninety-five percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 10, 1902 — Curt Siodmak. He is known for his work in horror and sf films for The Wolf Man and Donovan’s Brain, the latter from his own novel. He won a Retro Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form at Dublin 2019 for Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman and was nominated for six more. ISFDB notes Donovan’s Brain was part of his Dr. Patrick Cory series, and he wrote quite a few other genre novels as well. Donovan’s Brain and just a few other works are available from the usual suspects. (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 of which ISFDB documents — four of his appeared in Anne McCaffrey’s Cooking Out of This World including “Kidneys — Like Father Used to Make” and “Pea Soup — Potage Ste. Germaine.“ (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, 1931 — Alexis A. Gilliland, 90. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1982, edging out Brin and Swanwick for the honor. Gilliland also won four Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist in the early Eighties and won the Tucker Award for Excellence in Partying in the late Eighties. What the Hell is that? And he won the Rotsler Award for fan art in 2006. He’s got two series, Rosinante and Wizenbeak, neither of which I’ve read, so do tell me about them please.
Born August 10, 1944 — Barbara Erskine, 77. I’m including her because I’ve got a bit of a mystery. ISFDB lists her as writing over a dozen genre novels and her wiki page says she has a fascination with the supernatural but neither indicates what manner of genre fiction she wrote. I’m guessing romance or gothic tinged with the supernatural based on the covers but that’s just a guess. What do y’all know about her?
Born August 10, 1955 — Eddie Campbell, 66. Best known as the illustrator and publisher of From Hell, written by Alan Moore, and Bacchus, a most excellent series about the few Greek gods who have made to the present day. Though not genre in the slightest way, I highly recommend The Black Diamond Detective Agency which he did. It’s an adaptation of an as-yet unmade screenplay by C. Gaby Mitchell.
Born August 10, 1960 — Antonio Banderas, 61. Genre work in Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, the Spy Kids franchise, voice work in the Puss in Boots and Shrek franchises, appearances in The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle and the New Mutants. He’s James Mangold in the forthcoming Indiana Jones film.
Born August 10, 1965 — Claudia Christian, 56. Best known role is Commander Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5, but 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 see on Amazon Prime.
(15) UP TO DATE. Entertainment Weekly says Robin is now bi. “Robin becomes a bisexual icon in new Batman comic”. Clearly it doesn’t cut it to keep visualizing Burt Ward/Robin as Adam West/Bruce Wayne’s teenage ward — I missed the part where Robin was dating at all.
The latest issue of Batman: Urban Legends, a monthly anthology series, revealed that the Caped Crusader’s longtime sidekick Robin, specifically the Tim Drake version of him, is bisexual.
The moment came at the end of part 3 of the Sum of Our Parts story, from writer Meghan Fitzmartin, artist Belén Ortega, colorist Alejandro Sánchez, and letterer Pat Brosseau.
… Nick Spencer, a comic book writer best known for his work for Marvel Entertainment, was the liaison between Substack and a group of creators who, starting Monday, will publish new comic book stories, essays and how-to guides on the platform.
He said he approached Chris Best, a Substack founder, with the idea last year, when the pandemic was keeping many fans out of the comic book shops and the creators were looking for new ways to connect with readers.
The creators will be paid by Substack while keeping ownership of their work. The company will take most of the subscription revenue in the first year; after that, it will take a 10 percent cut.
Mr. Tynion, who last month won an Eisner Award, the comic industry’s highest honor, for best writer, said he would break away from writing Batman for DC Entertainment to devote time to his creator-owned series and his Substack newsletter.
(17) KEEPING THE BOOKS. Lazy Rabbit has a set of humorous pictures of librarian jokes on Facebook.
(18) CATS FOR ADOPTION. Let’s signal boost the availability for adoption of a new litter of kittens in Los Angeles. The owner is a friend of Gideon Marcus of Galactic Journey. You can reach her by emailing digginginthewrongplace (at) gmail (dot) com.
The momma cat is approx two years old. We just had her spayed and she had a dental check too. She’s negative for all diseases/fleas/worms, and in great health.
Kitties are 9 weeks old. All in great health. Too young to be neutered yet.
SYFY WIRE is excited to debut an exclusive featurette that breaks down a number of these subtle — and not-so-subtle — references in the Disney+ series. Series executive producer Bobs Gannaway tells us that all of the Easter eggs “happened naturally and came from anyone on the crew at any phase of production — be it a storyboard artist adding something in the board, or the art director dressing the set.”
“We focused mostly on world expansion — using the graphics to suggest parts of the world we will never see: like the Laffeteria menu, or advertisements on the back of Roz’s newspaper,” he continues. “We also focused things more inward and on our characters. For example, Duncan’s nameplate changes every episode, and whenever he’s listening to his boom box, the ‘mixtape’ is labeled. You have to really zoom into the frames to see those. Other things aren’t so much Easter eggs as they are just having fun: like changing the theme music every time during the credits to reflect that episode’s story, and doing something different each time with the wind-up teeth in the Mike’s Comedy Class title card. Everyone has a good time adding the details to the world.”
On today’s 52nd anniversary of the premiere of the Haunted Mansion dark ride at Disneyland, two first-look images from this October’s new MuppetsHaunted Mansion Halloween special have been released, including Kermit and Miss Piggy in costume …as each other.
The special will feature the Muppets cast, along with celebrity cameos, new music, and fittingly seasonal fun for all ages.
Muppets Haunted Mansion will take place on Halloween Night, when Gonzo is challenged to spend one night in The Haunted Mansion.
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword”, Fandom Games says this is “the motion-control Zelda game no one asked for” where “every fight feels like doing a bunch of morphone before a high-school fencing match.”
[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, BravoLimaPoppa, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Flaneur.]
…Inside was a large photograph printed on thin paper, an image filling the whole sheet. The photograph—a grainy shot of a woman jaywalking across a street with a large blue purse tucked under one arm—had been taken from a high angle. On the left edge of the photograph a white car was visible, headed directly toward the woman, and on the right side a bit of a pedestrian walkway could be seen. A citation was printed on the back—this woman, it explained, was Enid, and Enid had illegally crossed Z Street last Thursday at 3:34 in the afternoon. The fine was enough to buy a week of modest groceries….
A few years ago, I attended a meeting for litigators at a digital rights conference. When entering the room, I saw many familiar faces, and a few that were unfamiliar. When I introduced myself to one of the women I had never seen before, a white woman, she reacted in a most offended manner. “Yes, we met this morning at your office,” she snapped at me. Given that I had been nowhere near my office that morning, I was quite sure she was mistaken. In the course of this awkward exchange, it dawned on me that she was confusing me with my boss: also a woman of color, but in no way resembling me otherwise. “Ah, yes, we all look alike,” I sighed, rolling my eyes, and moved on….
Tolkien lived through a lot. His own global pandemic, two world wars (which included, of course, the bloody Battle of Somme), the Great Depression, the death of both parents by age twelve. Despite being disillusioned (like most of his generation), his stories are incredibly illusioned. And we need them now. These stories of adventure, of vigilance, of hardship and humor and hope. Here, then, is the next virtual installment of our continuing round robin reading of Tolkien’s The Hobbit (Chp 2 & 3). With over a hundred readers. Featuring a robust roster of RU students/alumni and faculty/staff, as well as two dozen authors, including Lev Grossman, Eoin Colfer, Stephen Graham Jones, Ellen Kushner, Joe Abercrombie, Karen Russell, Catherynne Valente, and Brian Selznick. Plus, Jeff VanderMeer, inexplicably dressed like a giant, blue caterpillar and Darcie Little Badger flipping and fanning a butterfly knife (which I suppose makes a strange sort of sequential sense). Lots of armor, too (both mail and plate). And plenty of hoods, torches, and swords. All in just an hour….
The BBC World Service has announced its major new original podcast, The Lazarus Heist. It tells the true story of an attempted $1 billion hack, which investigators say was carried out by a secretive ring of elite North Korean hackers.
The Lazarus Heist is presented by cybercrime investigative journalist Geoff White and Pulitzer-nominated veteran foreign correspondent and world renowned North Korea expert, Jean Lee. Geoff has been investigating the underworld of digital crime for years, while Jean has extensive experience of reporting from inside North Korea.
This major new release will initially run for 10 episodes, released weekly.
A movie, Kim Jong-un and a devastating cyber attack. The story of the Sony hack. How the Lazarus Group hackers caused mayhem in Hollywood and for Sony Pictures Entertainment. And this is just the beginning…
…Of course Holmes is every bit as much as artist as he is a scientist.
But artists create. What, exactly does Holmes create? You won’t find daubs of cerulean blue paint on his frock coat. “Data, data, data! I cannot make bricks without clay!” says he.
His art material is this data, this clay—the details, the facts of the case which he has observed or ferreted out. But only Holmes creates these bricks which build up the solution. He creates a mental model of “what happened, who did it, how, and why?”…
Ray Bradbury’s authorized biographer Sam Weller discusses the life and legacy of the iconic American writer. In conversation with American Writers Museum President Carey Cranston, Weller will speak on Bradbury’s writing, his worldwide impact, and his enduring relevance in American literature today. This program will be hosted on Zoom.
There’s a lot of information out there on how to perfect your work and seek publication. There’s not as much about how to deal with the stresses of writing for a living—inconsistent income streams, uncertainty, arbitrariness of the market, mental health issues, public exposure, professional jealousy, exploitative contracts, and more.
(7) FORMERLY FAMOUS. Jeff Foust reviews a new documentary about Gerard K. O’Neill, “The High Frontier”, for The Space Review.
…O’Neill is largely forgotten, even among many who work in the space industry in some way today. But at the peak of interest in space colonies in the 1970s, O’Neill was, at least briefly, in the cultural mainstream, appearing on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson and profiled on “60 Minutes.” The prospect of giant cities in space, built of out lunar materials that could also support development of space solar power facilities, seemed at least in the realm of the possible at the time.
The new documentary The High Frontier: The Untold Story of Gerard K. O’Neill attempts to rekindle that interest while reexamining the life of O’Neill. The 90-minute film had its premiere Saturday night on the Space Channel online, and is now available to rent or buy on various services, including iTunes and Google Play.
The movie extensively uses archival footage, including those “The Tonight Show” and “60 Minutes” appearances, as well as another show where O’Neill appeared alongside Isaac Asimov. That footage is combined with interviews with his family, colleagues, and others who knew or were inspired by him. It’s a who’s-who of the space advocacy community, with people such as Rick Tumlinson, Peter Diamandis, and Lori Garver, as well as pioneers in the commercial space industry like Charles Chafer and Jeffrey Manber. (Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk also appear in the film, but in footage from speeches they gave rather than interviews with the filmmakers.)…
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
April 24, 1955 — The X Minus One radio program aired on NBC for the first time. Written by Ray Bradbury, “And The Moon Be Still As Bright” is the tale of Mars expedition which finds the Martians extinct due to chickenpox brought to them by previous expeditions. The crew save one decide to destroy all Martian artefacts. Ernest Kinoy wrote the script from the story by Bradbury, and the cast included John Larkin and Nelson Olmstead. The show would run from now until January 8, 1958 with many of coming from well-known SF authors including Anderson, Pohl, Asimov, Blish, Leiber, Heinlein and Simak to name just a few. You can hear this episode here.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 24, 1900 – Elizabeth Goudge, F.R.S.L. A score of novels, thirty shorter stories; here is The Little White Horse. Nonfiction e.g. a Life of St. Francis. Carnegie Medal. Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Memoir The Joy of the Snow. (Died 1984) [JH]
Born April 24, 1911 – Evaline Ness. Half a dozen covers, many interiors for us; much else. Here is The Book of Three.Here is Coll and His White Pig. Here is Taran Wanderer. Here is an interior for Sam, Bangs & Moonshine. Caldecott Medal. Society of Illustrators Original Art Lifetime Achievement Award. See this Univ. Minnesota note. (Died 1986) [JH]
Born April 24, 1930 — Richard Donner, 91. He’s credited in directing Superman which is considered by many to be the first modern superhero film. H’h. Well I’m instead going to celebrate him instead for Scrooged, The Goonies and Ladyhawke. Not to mention the horror he did — Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight and Bordello of Blood. Oh, and the first X-Men film which was superb. (CE)
Born April 24, 1936 — Jill Ireland. For her short life, she showed up in an amazing number of genre shows. She was on Star Trek romancing Spock as Leila Kalomi In “This Side of Paradise” episode. She had five appearances on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well as being on Night Gallery, My Favorite Martian, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Voodoo Factor and the SF film The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything based on the 1962 novel of the same name by John D. MacDonald. (Died 1990.) (CE)
Born April 24, 1946 — Don D’Ammassa, 75. Considered to be one of the best and fairest long-form reviewers ever. His Encyclopedia of Science Fiction covers some five hundred writers and his two newer volumes, Encyclopedia of Fantasy and Horror Fiction and Encyclopedia of Adventure Fiction are equally exhaustive. I can’t comment on his fiction as I’ve only ever encountered him as a reviewer. It appears the only novel of his available from the usual suspects is THE 39 ADEPTS: A Wanda Coyne novel. (CE)
Born April 24, 1950 — Michael Patrick Hearn, 71. Academic who has some of the best annotated works I’ve had the pleasure to encounter. I wholeheartedly recommend both The Annotated Wizard of Oz and The Annotated Christmas Carol, not to overlook Victorian Fairy Tales which is simply the best collection of those tales. (CE)
Born April 24, 1953 – Larry Carmody, age 68. Fanzines Eternity Road and (with Stu Shiffman) Raffles. Chaired Lunacon ’84. [JH]
Born April 24, 1955 – Wendy Delmater, age 66. Eight short stories, four poems for us; editor, Abyss & Apex. Otherwise e.g. Confessions of a Female Safety Engineer.Website. [JH]
Born April 24, 1973 – Judy Budnitz, age 48. One novel, three shorter stories for us; maybe we should count others, see this note in Harvard Magazine. “Magical or horrific or impossible things might happen in my stories, but the characters are always guided by the same human emotions that we all share.” Two collections. Jaffee Foundation Award, Wallant Award. [JH]
Born April 24, 1974 – Leigh Fallon, age 47. Four novels, one shorter story. After a career in corporation treasury, traveling to eight countries, decided to write; now, with husband and four children, only travels between U.S. and Ireland. So much for escapism. [JH]
Born April 24, 1983 — Madeline Ashby, 38. California-born Canadian resident writer whose Company Town novel created an entire city in an oil rig. Interestingly In 2013, she was a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer but recused herself on the grounds that her pro career started with her ‘09 publication of a short story in Nature, so her two-year eligibility period had already expired. And her Machine Dynasties series is simply brilliant with resonances of the Murderbot series on it. (CE)
Sci-fi and fantasy novelist Sarah A. Hoyt, author of Uncharted, Darkship Thieves, and many more, is writing a new Barbarella series from Dynamite, based on the classic comic books, novels and movie, with new artist Madibek Musabekov, coming out in July.
Federal and state library officials have confirmed that funds allocated under the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARPA) can be used to purchase digital content. But in guidance issued this week, leading vendor OverDrive clarified that the current licensing terms used by some publishers may have to be amended for libraries to license titles using those funds.
In a notice that went out to library customers on April 20, following conversations with IMLS officials, state librarians, and publishers, OverDrive explained that while IMLS has advised that licensing digital content is an acceptable use of ARPA funding, the agency also concluded that “metered” e-book access (licenses that apply lend or time limits on circulation) may be categorized as a “service” rather than as a “materials” purchase. And because ARPA funds must be used within a 16-month window (from June 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022), some of the lend-limited or time-limited licenses currently offered by publishers may not fully qualify under ARPA if the license term extends beyond the September 30, 2022 deadline for using ARPA funds….
…Caron McBride reportedly rented the “Sabrina The Teenage Witch” tape at a now closed store in Norman, Oklahoma in 1999, according to KOKH-TV. She was charged a year later, in March 2000, after it was not returned, KOKH-TV reported citing documents.
McBride was notified about the charge by the Cleveland County District Attorney’s Office when she was attempting to change the name of her license after she got married, the news station reported.
“She told me it was over the VHS tape and I had to make her repeat it because I thought, this is insane. This girl is kidding me, right? She wasn’t kidding,” McBride told KOKH-TV, adding that she does not recall renting the video.
“I had lived with a young man, this was over 20 years ago. He had two kids, daughters that were 8, 10, or 11 years old, and I’m thinking he went and got it and didn’t take it back or something. I have never watched that show in my entire life, just not my cup of tea. Meanwhile, I’m a wanted felon for a VHS tape,” McBride told the news station.
The district attorney’s office has dismissed the charges.
McBride also recalled randomly getting let go from a few jobs, and now she understands why.
“This is why… because when they ran my criminal background check, all they’re seeing is those two words: felony embezzlement,” McBride told KOKH-TV.
Well, isn’t this a breath of fresh air: An experiment on board the Mars Perseverance rover designed to produce breathable oxygen from carbon dioxide has been switched on and is working! On April 20 it produced 5 grams of oxygen — not a huge amount, but it’s designed to make as much as 10 grams per hour, and this is the very first time oxygen has been converted from native air on another planet.
The device is called MOXIE — the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment — and it’s small (like everything sent to Mars, size and mass are at a premium)….
(15) THE TERRIBLY WRONG OF SPRING. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Rite of Teletubbies” on YouTube, Martim Gueller fuses the Teletubbies with “The Rite of Spring”! (This will really get your weekend started right!)
(16) PULP HISTORY. On the 1950s British Science Fiction YouTube channel, lifelong fan Philip Harbottle talks about his introduction to sff in the 1950s, and show some rare vintage books from his collection. Episode 20 covers the Tit-Bits Science Fiction Library.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “A Man, A Plan, A Pleonasm” Dern.]
(1) MORE MURDERBOT IN OUR FUTURE. Martha Wells has a new six-book deal with Tordotcom reports Publishers Weekly – three of them in the Murderbot series.
Tordotcom’s Lee Harris took world English rights to six books by Martha Wells. The six-figure acquisition, which the imprint said is its largest to date, was brokered by Jennifer Jackson at the Donald Maass Literary Agency. Wells is the author of the bestselling Murderbot Diaries series, which is published by Tordotcom; the new deal covers three more books in that series, as well as three unrelated novels. The first book under the agreement, Witch King, is set for fall 2022.
I’d planned to take a day trip to New York last year to chat with Jim Salicrup, whom I’d met during the mid-‘70s when we both worked in the Marvel Comics Bullpen, but (for reasons I’m sure you understand) that couldn’t happen. And as I continue to pretend we’re living in the world we want, rather than the one we’ve been handed, I recently had that meal … albeit remotely.
For the past 15 years, Jim’s been the editor-in-chief at Papercutz, which publishes Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Smurfs, Asterix, and more, but when I met him, he was at the start of his 20-year Marvel career, where he wrote Transformers, Sledge Hammer, The A-Team, Spidey Super Stories, the infamous Incredible Hulk toilet paper, and much more. He also edited The Avengers, The Uncanny X-Men, The Fantastic Four, and The Amazing Spider-Man. In between those two jobs, he worked at Topps, where edited books such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, X-Files, Zorro, and a line of Jack Kirby superhero comics — and also did a stint at Stan Lee Media as well.
We discussed the illustrated postcard which convinced Marvel Comics to hire him at age 15, how John Romita Sr. caused him to change his name the first day on the job, what he did to enrage MAD magazine’s Al Feldstein, his late-night mission to secure Stan Lee’s toupee, what editor Mark Gruenwald had in common with Bill Murray, why the 1970s’ X-Men revival was like Amazing Fantasy #15, how he convinced Todd McFarlane to stick to Spider-Man (which eventually led to a blockbuster new comic), the possible connection between Stan’s love of crossword puzzles and the famed Marvel Method, and much more.
Clifford Donald Simak was born on August 3, 1904, in Wisconsin. He died in Minnesota on April 25, 1988. That’s thirty-three years ago as of this Sunday….
Unfamiliar with Simak? Here are five of his works you could sample….
Time Is the Simplest Thing (1961)
Having learned the hard way that frail human bodies cannot withstand the rigors of interstellar travel, humanity turned to psychic exploration. Where physical exploration fails, psychic exploration succeeds. Casting astral projections to the stars, paranormals—“parries” in the vernacular—like Shepherd Blaine bring home the Milky Way’s wealth…at least, the riches that can be conveyed by a human mind. A bitterly disappointing result for most humans, but a source of great wealth for the Fishhook Corporation, which controls astral exploration.
Shepherd is too successful. After an encounter with a pink blob (who greets him telepathically with the words “Hi pal, I trade with you my mind…”), Shepherd returns home with an uninvited hitchhiker sharing his brain. Now, explorers who bring home guests vanish into Fishhook’s hospitality, never to be seen again. What happens after that is unclear. Certain that he does not want to find out what Fishhook does with (or to) the explorers, Shepherd goes on the run. He discovers that not only did he acquire a passenger out there in the stars, Shepherd himself has been transformed in…interesting…ways.
(4) THE BIG QUESTIONS. Blood Knife’s special cosmic horror issue includes these articles of interest:
“The Architecture of Woe” — Examines the role that architecture plays in gothic and cosmic horror past and present, and the way abandoned architecture and empty factories can evoke sensations of horror, awe, and inhumanity here in the real world.
…There is a haunting, dead quality to old buildings. They speak to us of lost possibility, of what was once mundane but which has been rendered fantastical by the passage of time—to walk their corridors or trip through their dust- and brickstrewn courtyards is to follow ancient footsteps, of men and women dead for decades and centuries. There is an energy to them, a sense that the past still lingers there. That it might reach out and take your hand, and pull you headlong and irresistibly back beyond your birth into the foreign realm of yesteryear….
“Interview: Laird Barron on Cosmic Horror” — Blood Knife’s Kurt Schiller interviews Laird Barron, discussing the current state of the genre, his own history with cosmic horror, and the way horror can be a tool for examining philosophical and cultural questions.
Blood Knife: Cosmic horror often touches on these vast concepts far beyond human comprehension, but at the same time so much of the genre — as well as your own fiction (The Croning, Lagerstatte, etc.) — seems anchored to individual tragedy or loss. Is this balance between the cosmic and the individual something that you think about when writing?
Barron: The previous question touched on the micro/macro duality of cosmic horror. This is a facet of science fiction as well. Big concept, shallow character development vs. character driven narratives where the big concept is a backdrop. I’ve dabbled in both, but prefer the latter. I grew up telling stories to my brothers by kerosene lamplight. I improved those tales over time by observing their reactions. Invariably, they were most affected by narratives that centered people with problems. The background was just that—background. A trippy cosmic horror revelation works well as a destination. Characters are the vehicle that gets you there.
A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine, the second in her Teixcalaan series. As a scholar of Nahuatl who has written a lot about pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, I really admired how Martine has done her homework for this series, mining Indigenous Mexican culture in such re
Manhattan’s Javits Center will *fingers crossed* once again be hustling and bustling with nerd activity between Oct 7-10 come this fall. ReedPop announced today that New York Comic Con (aka the “Metaverse”) is coming back for an in-person event this year, albeit with limited attendance and other safety measures (enforced social distancing, mandatory face coverings, and regular temperature checks) that help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Pro tip: make sure you cosplay as a character who is famous for wearing a face covering at all times. Din Djarin, Zamus, Sheik, and Deadpool all come to mind….
…In addition to NYCC, ReedPop will also host Floridia’s Supercon between Sep. 10-12; Seattle’s Emerald City Comic Con between Dec. 2-5; and Chicago’s C2E2 between Dec. 10-12. The biggest unknown right now is how many people are going to be allowed to attend these events (the attendance numbers, which are reliant on local and state mandates, can grow or shrink at any time). What’s more: we don’t know if proof of vaccination is going to be required before ticket-buyers start mingling among a throng of their fellow pop culture acolytes.
Disney’s R&D labs, commonly known as its Imagineering team, does some extremely impressive — and expressive — things with robots. It’s made mechanical stunt doubles, lifelike alien Na’vi, and, uh, this skinless weirdo. But the company’s latest creation looks like it quite literally walked out of a Disney movie. It’s a bipedal Groot that can amble about tether-free. As Disney’s Pinocchio would put it: he’s got no strings to hold him down.
TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino has the low-down on this robotic milestone for Disney. It’s part of the company’s long-term efforts to develop autonomous robot actors for its parks, says Panzarino, under the codename of “Project Kiwi.” The company’s engineers spent years creating their own free-standing bipedal robotics platform to power Groot, and Panzarino — who got to see the robot in person — came away impressed with their efforts….
The unofficial annual holiday celebrates the day in 2011 when the first episode of the sixth season of the [Doctor Who] series was aired in the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada….
Called “The Impossible Astronaut,” the episode became one of the most appreciated and watched episodes of the series.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
April 23, 1974 — On this day in 1974, Planet Earth premiered. It created by Gene Roddenberry, written by Roddenberry and Juanita Bartlett, not surprisingly, was based on a story by Roddenberry. It starred John Saxon as Dylan Hunt. The rest of cast was Diana Muldaur, Ted Cassidy, Janet Margolin, Christopher Cary. Corrine Camacho and Majel Barrett. It was intended as a pilot for a new weekly television series, but that never came to be. It was the second attempt by him to produce a weekly series set on a post-apocalyptic future Earth with Genesis II being the previous pilot. Roddenberry recycled both the concepts and characters used in Genesis II. Some of the characters here would show up in the Andromeda series such as Dylan Hunt. It was generally well-received by critics at the time, and it currently has a fifty percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. You can watch it here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 23, 1923 — Avram Davidson. Equally at home writing mystery, fantasy or science fiction, he wrote two splendid Ellery Queen mysteries, And on the Eighth Day and The Fourth Side of the Triangle. I’m fond of his Vergil Magus series if only for the names of the novels, like The Phoenix and the Mirror or, The Enigmatic Speculum. There was a 2020 audiobook edition of The Avram Davidson Treasury: A Tribute Collection edited by Robert Silverberg and Grania Davis, first published in 1998, with afterwords by Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison, and intros by many other sff writers. (Died 1993.) (CE)
Born April 23, 1946 — Blair Brown, 75. Emily Jessup In Altered States (based on the Paddy Chayefsky novel) was her first genre role. Later roles include Nina Sharp, the executive director of Massive Dynamic, on Fringe, an amazing role indeed, and Elizabeth Collins Stoddard in the 2004 television remake of Dark Shadows. Her last genre role I think was Kate Durning on Elementary. (CE)
Born April 23, 1955 — Paul J. McAuley, 66. Four Hundred Billion Stars, his first novel, won the Philip K. Dick Award, Fairyland which I adore won an Arthur C. Clarke Award and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel. He was Toastmaster along Kim Newman at Interaction. (CE)
Born April 23, 1956 — Caroline Thompson, 65. She wrote the screenplays for Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride. A stage version of the latter with director and choreographer Matthew Bourne was co-adapted with her this year. She also wrote the screenplay for The Addams Family. (CE)
Born April 23, 1962 — John Hannah, 59. Here for being Jonathan Carnahan in The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, and there was apparently a third film as well, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. In a meatier role, he was the title characters in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and of late he’s been Holden Radcliffe on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series. Though not even remotely genre adjacent, he was Rebus in the one of BBC adaptation in of the Ian Rankin series. (CE)
Born April 23, 1973 — Naomi Kritzer, 48. I saw that her 2015 short story “Cat Pictures Please” had been a Hugo Award winner at MidAmeriCon II, so I went and purchased Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories off iBooks so I could read it. It was superb as was Catfishing on CatNet which won a Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book in 2020. A sequel Chaos on Catnet comes out next week. (CE)
Born April 23, 1564 – William Shakespeare. After five centuries a strong candidate for greatest writer in English. Four plays, one narrative poem for us; much else. Where his art pointed to fantasy he was as masterly as in the more mundane. In plays he had to inspire belief by showing his beings’ speech and acts; which he did. Priceless to read, to perform, despite and because of what has and hasn’t changed since. (Died 1616) [JH]
Born April 23, 1879 – Talbot Mundy. Four divorces, five wives; for years fifty cigarettes a day; failed at business ventures; married money and spent it; ivory poacher; war stories of himself false. Yet sold a score of novels, half a dozen shorter fictions – in our field, not counting e.g. seven hundred radio scripts for Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy. Hated fascism and Marxism-Leninism. Racist anti-colonialist. Sexist pioneer of strong female characters. King – of the Khyber Rifles and Tros of Samothrace are on Kindle. (Died 1940) [JH]
Born April 23, 1935 – Tom Doherty, age 86. From book salesman to publisher of Tempo and Ace, then Tor and Tom Doherty Associates. Skylark, Solstice, Gallun, World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Awards. Guest of Honor at Boskone 23; Balticon 21; Lunacon 33; Fourth Street Fantasy 1991; Minicon 29, 32, 50; ArmadilloCon24, WindyCon XXX; Westercon 58; World Fantasy Con 2008; Anticipation the 67th Worldcon. [JH]
Born April 23, 1942 – Amanda Prantera, age 79. Briton sixty years in Italy. Translator. Euhemerist (another fine word that). A dozen novels. I don’t see how anything can be “very clear” in Strange Loop; in Conversations with Lord Byron a computer given everything known about B becomes sapient (not “sentient”, Brother Clute, argh) and starts writing poetry, I’d add “naturally” but – [JH]
Born April 23, 1977 – Yasser Bahjatt, age 44. Computerman, gamer, SF fan, first Sa‘udi in Singularity University’s graduate program and thus worked on Matternet, translator of TED (Technology, Engineering, Design) talks into Arabic, chair of Jeddah for 2026 Worldcon bid. Wrote Yaqteenya, first Arabic alternative-history novel; it and three more novels (with Ibraheem Abbas) are available in English. Insists on “a distinct correlation between a culture’s exposure to science fiction and the amount of scientific thought”. [JH]
Kaboom Comics, a comic-book store in McAllen, had proudly built a display of rare comics on its “Wall of Keys,” featuring iconic issues of various titles. On April 14, however, an employee noticed bare spots on the wall where some of the key issues should have been, and, after checking with coworkers, confirmed that no one had purchased them. According to MyRGV.com, the store released on social media the security footage showing the heist taking place and placed a call—a veritable bat signal, if you will—asking the community to help identify the thief.
What did they steal?
The biggest score in the heist was a copy of Amazing Spider-Man number 252, a key 1984 issue in Spidey’s mythology. A couple of issues of Venom, a spin-off series starring the web-slinger’s more sinister counterpart, as well as a stack of new-release comics were also skimmed off of the shelves.
Who took them?
While there’s yet to be a conviction in the case, the caper seems to be relatively cut and dried: a caller identified the suspect to McAllen police, and then the man she named—Edinburg High School assistant principal Juan Martinez Jr.—turned himself in, along with the comics, to the police department, offering a full confession and waiving his Miranda rights. He was arrested and charged with a Class B misdemeanor for theft of property worth between $100 and $750 (the value of the books was estimated at $409.93)…
Walt Disney signed display of Bambi and Thumper cels, uniquely inscribed to fellow American icon Norman Rockwell. Disney signs the mat in green wax crayon, ”To Norman / With Best Wishes / Walt”. Large display includes cels of Bambi, Thumper, two quail birds, grass and log, used in the 1942 classic film ”Bambi”, with a hand-painted background measuring approximately 11” x 9”, framed to a size of 19.375” x 17.5”. With ”Original WDP [Walt Disney Productions]” stamp above Disney’s signature. Some foxing and light discoloration to outer portion of mat. Cels remain in beautifully well-preserved condition, with only one hairline crack appearing on Bambi’s leg. With an LOA from Carl Sprague of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, Norman Rockwell’s town, whose wife Susan Merrill was previously married to Jarvis Rockwell, Norman Rockwell’s son.
…Defekt is the most enjoyably bubbly book I’ve read exploring the burden of shackles. Not literal shackles, but ones that can extend to life as a retail worker or a one of self-doubt. Those shackles siphon your time at the expense of empty praise from apathetic bosses, or it hamstrings the growth of your relationships. But Defekt shows that being unshackled and free is a possibility and is only deceptively difficult…
(15) FIRST IN THE FIELD. Also at Nerds of a Feather, Arturo Serrano’s “Review: The Dominion Anthology” leads with the note: “Ours is a time of ever-increasing visibility for African SFF—now it has its first anthology.”
…Edited by Zelda Knight and Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and with a foreword by Tananarive Due, the Dominion anthology collects twelve stories and one poem about imagined futures and reimagined pasts told with deep sincerity and robustness of worldbuilding. This is certainly an exciting time for diversity in speculative fiction….
(16) ASTRONAUTS EN ROUTE TO ISS. SpaceX Crew2 launched and the crew is on its way to the Space Station.
SpaceX just launched its third astronaut mission in less than a year.
A slightly sooty Falcon 9 rocket topped with a Crew Dragon capsule took to the skies above NASA’s Kennedy Space Center here at 5:49 a.m. EDT (0949 GMT) today (April 23), lighting up the predawn sky as it lifted off from the historic Pad 39A. The launch kicked off SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission, which will carry four astronauts — NASA’s Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Japanese spaceflyer Akihiko Hoshide — on a 24-hour flight to the International Space Station (ISS).
[Thanks to Paul Weimer, Dann, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, JJ, Kurt Schiller, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Acoustic Rob.]
… Publishing industry magazine the Bookseller revealed on Wednesday that the Folio, which is awarded to the year’s best work of literature regardless of form, was scammed by “sophisticated cyber-criminals”. The scammers posed as the Mexican author [Valeria] Luiselli, who had won with her novel Lost Children Archive, and requested that the £30,000 payment be made through PayPal.
Minna Fry, the prize’s executive director, confirmed that the funds were lost and that “the police were informed at the time, as were key industry colleagues”.
“Our winner Valeria Luiselli was awarded her prize money in full, and the lost funds were absorbed by cost savings elsewhere,” she added.
The prize is run by a charity and is independent from its sponsor, Rathbone Investment Management. Fry said the investment firm “have supported us through this incident and helped us to put in place additional safeguarding measures”.
This is not the first time a book prize has been targeted by fraudsters. A spokesperson for the Baillie Gifford prize for non-fiction, worth £50,000, confirmed that it was also targeted in November, but no funds were paid.
“Someone emailed pretending to be the 2020 winner Craig Brown and asked us to pay the prize money via PayPal,” a spokesperson for the prize told the Bookseller…
Becky Chambers’ latest novel, “The Galaxy and The Ground Within,” is the final book in her Wayfarer series, which is about aliens, humans and AI trying to make their way through the galaxy and find common ground. Some of the characters in her books may seem fantastical and strange, but the conversations between them often revolve around familiar issues like identity, gender, family structure, and politics. We talk about why she’s closing this chapter in her writing career, even though the Wayfarer series could’ve gone on indefinitely, and what she has planned next.
(4) WEB OF LIES. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee casts an oversized shadow across comic book fandom. But arguments abound about how much credit he deserves for the various works he is purportedly behind. In a new deeply-researched biography True Believer, journalist Abraham Riesman looks at this iconic figure. It’s a terrific book that perhaps people should be considering for Best Related Work on *next year’s* Hugo ballot, and that the Hugo Book Club Blog reviewed this week: “The Lies That Bind”.
There is a long tradition of fandom idolizing a certain variety of PT Barnum-style self-promoter. This tradition has come under much-needed scrutiny in the past decade thanks to works such as Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee and The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein by Farrah Mendelsohn. Abraham Riesman’s True Believer is a welcome addition to this critical reckoning.
… The remote-controlled bot was made by Boston Dynamics, a robotics company famous for its viral videos of machines dancing and running with human-like dexterity. (Versions of “Spot,” as the mechanical dog is known, can open doors, and are strong enough to help tow an 18-wheeler.)
Since October, the NYPD has dispatched the robot to a handful of crime scenes and hostage situations, raising fears of unwanted surveillance and questions about the department’s use of public dollars. The mobile dog, which comes equipped with automated sensors, lights, and cameras capable of collecting “limitless data,” is sold at a starting price of $74,000.
A spokesperson for the NYPD said the robot dog was on standby, but not used, during a domestic dispute at East 28th Street on Monday afternoon. After a man allegedly barricaded himself inside a room with a mother and her baby, officers showed up and convinced him to let them exit. The man was arrested for weapons possession, police said….
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
April 15, 1944 –On this day in 1944, The Monster Maker which was originally titled The Devil’s Apprentice premiered. It was directed by Sam Newfield and produced from a script written by by Sigmund Neufeld which was by Lawrence Williams, Pierre Gendron and Martin Mooney. It starred J. Carrol Naish, Talla Birell, Wanda McKay and Ralph Morgan. It was almost completely ignored by critics at the time and it currently holds an extremely low five percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers. You can see it here.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 15, 1452 – Leonardo da Vinci. One of our greatest neighbors. Among his many drawings were things that could almost be made then; dreaming them up, and depicting them, took imagination very much like SF authors’ and illustrators’. Here is a 500th-anniversary exhibit I made for Dublin 2019 the 77th Worldcon with high-tech graphics wizard Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink (shown as it appeared at Loscon XLVI later; scroll down past Rotsler Award photos). (Died 1519) [JH]
Born April 15, 1908 – Howard Browne. Edited Amazing and Fantastic; five novels, a dozen shorter stories for us, some under other names; also detective fiction; films, television. More here. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born April 15, 1933 — Elizabeth Montgomery. She’s best remembered as Samantha Stephens on Bewitched. Other genre roles included being Lili in One Step Beyond’s “The Death Waltz” which you can watch here. She also had on every-offs in The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and voicing a Barmaid in the “Showdown” episode of Batman: The Animated Series. (Died 1995.) (CE)
Born April 15, 1937 — Thomas F. Sutton. Comic book artist who’s best known for his contributions to Marvel Comics and Warren Publishing’s line of black-and-white horror magazines. He’s particularly known as the first artist of the Vampirella series. He illustrated “Vampirella of Draculona”, the first story which was written by Forrest J Ackerman. (Died 2002.) (CE)
Born April 15, 1938 – Unipán Helga, age 83. (Personal name last, Hungarian style.) Designed more than a hundred twenty books, many ours. Here is The Antics of Robi Robot (in Romanian). Here is an interior from the Jun 73 Korunk (“Our Age”). Here is Orthopedic Hat. Here is The Vicissitudes of a Brave Mouse. Here is Calendar of Nature. [JH]
Born April 15, 1941 – Mal Dean. Six covers, twoscore interiors for us. Particularly associated with Michael Moorcock and the graphic-art Jerry Cornelius. Here is the Jun 69 New Worlds. Here is “The Duke of Queens duels Lord Shark the Unknown” illustrating MM’s “White Stars”. Here is the Nov 75 – Jan 76 Other Times. Outside our field, jazz trumpeter & bandleader, illustrator; cartoonist. Here is a posthumous artbook. (Died 1974) [JH]
Born April 15, 1949 – Tim Bolgeo. Uncle Timmy chaired LibertyCons 1-25, Chattacons 7-11. Fan Guest of Honor at Con*Stellation III (not this one), DeepSouthCon 43, StellarCon 33, LibertyCon 32. Four decades a fixture in fandom. (Died 2019) [JH]
Born April 15, 1949 — Sharan Newman, 72. Author of the most excellent Guinevere trilogy (Guinevere, Chessboard Queen and Guinevere Evermore), a superb reinterpretation of the Arthurian saga . They’re available at the usual digital suspects as is her superb Catherine LeVendeur medieval mystery series. Alas her SF short stories are not. (CE)
Born April 15, 1966 – Cressida Crowell, age 56. A dozen novels, particularly about How to Train Your Dragon (eleven million copies sold) and The Wizards of Once. Illustrates many of her own books. Blue Peter Book Award. “Children are surrounded by adults who are VERY BOSSY. They might not always mean to be bossy, and they have the best of intentions, but still.” [JH]
Born April 15, 1974 — Jim C. Hines, 47. Winner at Chicon 7 of the Best Fan Writer Hugo. Author of the Goblin Quest series which I’ve read at least two of and enjoyed. Same for his Magic ex Libris series. Yeah more popcorn reading. (CE)
Born April 15, 1990 — Emma Watson, 31. Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film franchise which lasted an entire decade. She was Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and the voice of Prince Pea in The Tale of Despereaux. (CE)
Born April 15, 1997 — Maisie Williams, 24. She made her professional acting debut as Arya Stark of Winterfell in Game of Thrones. She was Ashildr, a Viking woman of unique skills, the principal character of “The Girl Who Died”, during the time of Twelfth Doctor who would be back several times more. She was Wolfsbane in the Marvel film New Mutants. (CE)
Victor LaValle is the author of the short story collection Slapboxing with Jesus, four novels, The Ecstatic, Big Machine, The Devil in Silver, and The Changeling and two novellas, Lucretia and the Kroons and The Ballad of Black Tom. He is also the creator and writer of a comic book Victor LaValle’s DESTROYER. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the World Fantasy Award, British World Fantasy Award, Bram Stoker Award, Whiting Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, Shirley Jackson Award, American Book Award, and the key to Southeast Queens. He was raised in Queens, New York. He now lives in Washington Heights with his wife and kids. He teaches at Columbia University.
Sam J. Miller is the Nebula-Award-winning author of The Art of Starving (an NPR best of the year) and Blackfish City(a best book of the year for Vulture, The Washington Post, Barnes & Noble, and more – and a “Must Read” in Entertainment Weekly and O: The Oprah Winfrey Magazine). A recipient of the Shirley Jackson Award and a graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, Sam’s work has been nominated for the World Fantasy, Theodore Sturgeon, John W. Campbell and Locus Awards, and reprinted in dozens of anthologies. A community organizer by day, he lives in New York City. His latest novel is The Blade Between.
…In 1922 he published his first and most notable fantasy work, The Worm Ouroboros. The Worm, a serpent or snake, derived from the old Norse, ormr. This he followed with three volumes set in the imaginary world first observed by the Lords Juss and Brandoch Daha as they gaze from the top of great mountain, Koshstra Pevrarcha in The Worm, Zimiamvia, known as The Zimiamvian trilogy: Mistress of Mistresses (1935), A Fish Dinner in Memison (1941), and The Mezentian Gate (published posthumously in 1958). His Icelandic sagas were: Styrbiorn the Strong (1926) and his much admired translation of Egil’s Saga (1930).
In 1963 almost twenty years after Eddison’s death his late wife, Winifred Grace, and his close friend and literary executor, Sir George Rostrevor Hamilton deposited into the care of the special collections of the Leeds Central Library the vast majority of Eddison’s manuscript works….
(11) LIVE OCTOTHORPE. Big doings by John Coxon, Alison Scott and Liz Batty on the Octothorpe podcast. Listen to Episode 29 here — “Ode to Badger”.
John is not Chris Garcia, Alison is full of beans, and Liz is T. S. Eliot. We handle letters of comment and then spend an hour talking about ConFusion in a BUMPER EPISODE.
You also are invited to join them for Octothorpe Live on 25 April – either join the Facebook group here or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org for the Zoom link!
(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Zack Snyder’s Justice League/Trilogy” on YouTube is HBO Max’s repackaging of Man Of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League into a trilogy.
[Thanks to Edd Vick, Bruce D. Arthurs, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, StephenfromOttawa, Cat Eldridge, James Davis Nicoll, Steven French, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Olav Rokne, Andrew Porter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
(1) AN APPEAL. [Item by rcade.] In a series of tweets Tuesday, Astounding Award winner Jeannette Ng asks for more nuanced takes on problematic elements of literary works and less pat conclusions about what they reveal about the author. Thread starts here.
One of the commenters references the literary critic F. R. Leavis.
Leavis was an influential British critic who took the position that a great work must be a demonstration of the author’s intense moral seriousness and that by reading it “the reader would acquire moral sensibility — a sense of what was true and good — which transcended social differences,” according to the Cambridge History of Literary Criticism.
… “Leaving this here in the event that the powers that be are listening,” Burton, 64, tweeted Monday alongside a petition started by a fan of the beloved “Star Trek” actor. The document boasted over 130,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning.
The petition comes amid a feverish push on Twitter for the wholesome television icon to host the gameshow.
…We also get brief snippets about the origin of Sheldon (a.k.a. The Utopian) and his cohort’s powers; the trailer ominously teases the long-ago events “on the island” that turned a group of mere mortals into superhuman beings. (This group would then bear the name The Union). More will reveal as the series approaches, and we’re looking forward to unwrapping some of these mysteries once it hits Netflix on May 7.
Impossible,” said David Ward. The London Metropolitan Police constable looked up. Some 50 feet above him, he saw that someone had carved a gaping hole through a skylight. Standing in the Frontier Forwarding warehouse in Feltham, West London, he could hear the howl of jets from neighboring Heathrow Airport as they roared overhead.
At Ward’s feet lay three open trunks, heavy-duty steel cases. They were empty. A few books lay strewn about. Those trunks had previously been full of books. Not just any books. The missing ones, 240 in all, included early versions of some of the most significant printed works of European history.
Gone was Albert Einstein’s own 1621 copy of astronomer Johannes Kepler’s The Cosmic Mystery, in which he lays out his theory of planetary motion. Also missing was an important 1777 edition of Isaac Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, his book describing gravity and the laws of physics. Among other rarities stolen: a 1497 update of the first book written about women, Concerning Famous Women; a 1569 version of Dante’s Divine Comedy; and a sheath with 80 celebrated prints by Goya. The most valuable book in the haul was a 1566 Latin edition of On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, by Copernicus, in which he posits his world-changing theory that Earth and the other planets revolve around the sun. That copy alone had a price tag of $293,000. All together, the missing books—stolen on the night of January 29, 2017, into early the next day—were valued at more than $3.4 million. Given their unique historical significance and the fact that many contained handwritten notes by past owners, most were irreplaceable.
Scotland Yard’s Ward was stunned. He couldn’t recall a burglary like this anywhere. The thieves, as if undertaking a special-ops raid, had climbed up the sheer face of the building. From there, they scaled its pitched metal roof on a cold, wet night, cut open a fiberglass skylight, and descended inside—without tripping alarms or getting picked up by cameras.…
(5) BOOKS FOR PRISONERS ASKED. [Item by rcade.] The shelves of the Appalachian Prison Book Project are running low on science fiction and fantasy, the charity revealed recently in a tweet:
The project sends free books to people imprisoned in Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
They seek new and used paperbacks only and have more detailed donation guidelines on their website.
“We receive about 200 letters every week from people incarcerated in our region,” a project coordinator told File 770 in email. “It’s a wide range of requests. Generally, people choose a few genres they are interested in to ask about in their letter. We have sci-fi and fantasy as two separate categories on our genre list, and we don’t include subgenres, so people choose whatever genres they want to read.”
Asked if there are particular preferences within SFF, the coordinator replied, “We occasionally get requests for specific authors, but unless they have a specific title in mind, most people list themes and topics. For example, thay may want to read books about time travel or vampires or wizards or interstellar exploration. It’s our volunteers who search through our donated books to find the best fit for them.”
The charity’s Voices from the Inside page shares testimonials from grateful prisoners about the books they’ve received.
A prisoner in Whiteville, Tennessee, praised a 2002 vampire novel by Simon Clark: “Thank you so much for my copy of Vampyrrhic! I loved it! As I have said before not many people want to fool with us old convicts.”
Donations of books should fill no more than two medium-sized boxes and be sent using the U.S. Postal Service to this address:
Appalachian Prison Book Project PO Box 601 Morgantown, WV 26507
The iconic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is coming back in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, but he’s a lot smaller and more numerous than you remember. In the first official clip from director Jason Reitman’s long-delayed film, seismologist Mr. Grooberson (Ant-Man‘s Paul Rudd) comes across a army of mini Stay Puft men while shopping for ice cream.
They’re wreaking absolute havoc in the store, riding around on Roombas and roasting each other on BBQs (their chaotic antics bringing to mind Joe Dante’s Gremlins and composer Rob Simonsen subtly pays homage to Elmer Bernstein’s eerie score from 1984). Don’t be fooled by their cuteness, though — Grooberson attempts to poke one of the Stay Puft men in the stomach — à la the Pillsbury Doughboy — with painful results.
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
April 7, 1933 — On this day in 1933, King Kong premiered. It was directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. The screenplay was written by James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose from an idea by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace. It stars Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot and Robert Armstrong. Critics mostly loved it, the box office was quite amazing and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an astonishing ninety eighty percent approval rating. It has been ranked by Rotten Tomatoes as the fourth greatest horror film of all time. You can watch it here as it’s very much in the public domain.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 7, 1882 – Ogawa Mimei. (Personal name last, Japanese style.) Called the founder of Japanese fairy tales. The 2018 collection under that name has “The Mermaid and the Red Candles”, five more. See another story here – I mean that, do see it. (Died 1961) [JH]
Born April 7, 1915 — Stanley Adams. He’s best known for playing Cyrano Jones in “The Trouble with Tribbles” Trek episode. He reprised his role in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode “More Tribbles, More Troubles” and archival footage of him was later featured in the Deep Space Nine “Trials and Tribble-ations” episode. He also appeared in two episodes of the Batman series (“Catwoman Goes to College” and “Batman Displays his Knowledge”) as Captain Courageous. (Died 1977.) (CE)
Born April 7, 1915 — Henry Kuttner. While he was working for the d’Orsay agency, he found Leigh Brackett’s early manuscripts in the slush pile; it was under his guidance that she sold her first story to Campbell at Astounding Stories. His own work was done in close collaboration with C. L. Moore, his wife, and much of what they would publish was under pseudonyms. During the Forties, he also contributed numerous scripts to the Green Lantern series. He’s won two Retro Hugos, the first at Worldcon 76 for “The Twonky” short story, the second at Dublin 2019 for “Mimsy Were the Borogoves”. (Died 1958.) (CE)
Born April 7, 1928 — James White. Certainly the Sector General series which ran to twelve books and ran over thirty years of publication was his best known work. I’ve no idea how many I read but I’m certain that it was quite a few. I’m not sure what else by him I’ve read but I’m equally sure there was other novels down the years. It appears that only a handful of the novels are available from the usual suspects. (Died 1999.) (CE)
Born April 7, 1930 – Ronald Mackelworth. Five novels “usually involving complex but rarely jumbled plotting” (John Clute), a score of shorter stories. Here is a Barbara Walton cover for Firemantle. (Died 2000) [JH]
Born April 7, 1935 – Marty Cantor, age 86. Long-time fanziner; self-knowledge entitled his Hugo-finalist (as we must now say) fanzine Holier Than Thou; with another, No Award, I could tell him “You are worthy of No Award, and No Award is worthy of you.” While he & Robbie Bourget were married they were elected DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegates together, publishing two reports, one each, bound head-to-tail like an Ace Double; they were Fan Guests of Honor at Alternacon. MC later chaired Corflu 34 (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable), published Phil Castora’s memoir Who Knows What Ether Lurks in the Minds of Fen? Arrived among us in his forties, an exception to yet another theory. Earned LASFS’ Evans-Freehafer Award Los Angeles Science Fantasy Soc.; service). [JH]
Born April 7, 1939 — Francis Ford Coppola, 82. Director / Writer / Producer. THX 1138 was produced by him and directed by George Lucas in his feature film directorial debut in 1971. Saw it late at night after some serious drug ingestion with a red head into Morrison — strange experience that was. Other genre works of note include Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a episode of Faerie Tale Theatre entitled Rip Van Winkle, Twixt (a horror film that I’m betting almost no one has heard of), Captain EO which featured Michael Jackson, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Jeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers2. (CE)
Born April 7, 1945 – Susan Petrey. Six novels, nine shorter stories. Her vampires are non-supernatural. Interviewed in Lightspeed. Good writing and an early death prompted a Clarionscholarship in her name. (Died 1980) [JH]
Born April 7, 1946 — Stan Winston. He’s best known for his work in Aliens, the Terminator franchise, the first three Jurassic Park films, the first two Predator films, Batman Returns and Iron Man. (He also did the Inspector Gadget film which I still haven’t seem.) He was unusual in having expertise in makeup, puppets and practical effects, and was just starting to get in digital effects as well upon the time of his passing. I think we sum up his talent by noting that he won an Oscars for Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup for his work on Terminator 2: Judgment Day. (Died 2008.) (CE)
Born April 7, 1951 — Yvonne Gilbert, 70. Though best remembered for her controversial cover design of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s 1983 single “Relax”, she did a number of great genre covers including Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea for Bantam in 1991 and Beagle’s A Dance for Emiliafor Roc in 2000. (CE)
Born April 7, 1981 – Lili Wilkinson, Ph.D., age 40. A novel and two shorter stories for us; many others (I’m not counting e.g. Joan of Arc). Won a stopwatch in a Readathon. Established Inky Awards at the Centre for Youth Literature, State Library of Victoria. [JH]
Born April 7, 1982 – Zoë Marriott, age 39. Nine novels. Sasakawa Prize. Two cats, one named Hero after the Shakespearian character (hurrah! she’s so cool! – JH), and the other Echo after the nymph in Greek myth. Finishes a list of favorite songs with Spem in alium (hurrah! hurrah!). [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Shoe’s answer to a science question might qualify as science fantasy.
(12) CHINA’S ANSWER TO SPOT? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] IFL Science introduces a “Video Showing ‘Robot Army’ Released By Chinese Robotics Company”. The story includes two tweets with embedded videos. The one with a large number of robot dogs where they just stand up then lay back down appears to me to be real. The other one, where they do tricks together, is pretty clearly CGI layered over the real world.
Unitree Robotics appears to be China’s answer to Boston Dynamics, designing and manufacturing mobile, autonomous four-legged robots that are able to handle obstacles and right themselves after a stumble.
Their products are all variants of a similar dog-like design, including BenBen, Aliengo, Laikago, and A1….
Paramount+ has released the first trailer for the upcoming fourth season of Star Trek: Discovery, which is set to premiere later this year. The video features Sonequa Martin-Green’s Captain Burnham as she leads the crew against an unknown threat that could possibly destroy all of them without any warning.
(15) BURGER COSPLAY. [Item by Daniel Dern. Except for tasteless quote selected by OGH.] Given Kevin Smith’s sf activities, e.g., writing comics like the (wonderful) Green Arrow Quiver series (plot arc?), some involvement with the semi-recent WB “Crisis” episodes (or at least one of the aftershows) and other stuff i can’t remember – let’s mention “Kevin Smith talks fast food ahead of his Boston pop-up restaurant ribbon-cutting”. (I saw this info as an article in today’s Boston Globe, but I know the MSN link isn’t paywalled..)
Boston’s House of Blues will transform into a pop-up Mooby’s, the fictional burger chain that appears in various Kevin Smith movies, April 8-16.
Fans will remember the mascot, Mooby the golden calf, that enrages Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s characters in “Dogma.” Chris Rock’s character eats at a Mooby’s in the same film. Mooby’s also appears in “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” and “Clerks II.”…
Q. So why Boston?
A. House of Blues reached out, and said: We’d do that. We never pressure anybody. We just wait for folks to reach out. The good thing about Mooby’s is it’s fake, so [no matter what building you dress up] people can’t say: ‘Well this don’t look like Mooby’s!’ Well what does? How many Mooby’s you been to exactly? Give us a day, and Derek will make it a Mooby’s.
Q. What’s your favorite menu item?
A. There’s a chicken sandwich in ‘Jay and Silent Bob Reboot’ called ‘Cock Smoker.’ We have that on our menu. It’s awesome to watch people try to order it in person. Generally everything is done on the reservation system in advance, but in LA, toward the end of the run, we opened it up [to walk-ins] and had four older ladies, each of giggling harder than the next when they ordered ‘Cock Smokers.’ I won’t get rich off restaurants, but that is wealth that you can’t measure.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Godzilla Vs. Kong” on Honest Trailers, the Screen Junkies say the film has such poor continuity with its two predecessors that it has “characters who forgot to mention they were related,” “characters they forgot to mention entirely” and a major plot point that didn’t appear in the two earlier films. And watch out for Brian Tyree Henry as an annoying exposition-spouting podcaster! BEWARE SPOILERS.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Jennifer Hawthorne, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, John Hertz, Alan Baumler, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day rcade.]
Lin Qi, the chairman and CEO of Yoozoo Group who was hospitalized after having been poisoned on Dec. 16, has died. The Chinese company confirmed that Lin died on Christmas Day. He was 39.
On Wednesday evening in China, the Shanghai Public Security Bureau had announced that Lin was receiving treatment after being poisoned and that a Yoozoo coworker of Lin’s, surnamed Xu, had been apprehended amid an investigation.
The statement read: “At 5 p.m. on Dec. 17, 2020, the police received a call from a hospital regarding a patient surnamed Lin. During the patient’s treatment, the hospital said it had determined that the patient had been poisoned. Following the call, the police began an investigation. According to investigations on site and further interviews, the police found that a suspect surnamed Xu, who is a coworker of the victim Lin, was the most likely the perpetrator. The suspect Xu has been arrested and investigations continue.”
The Hollywood Reporterreported that local media have said a dispute among the Chinese entertainment company’s executive ranks preceded the assault on Lin, which was allegedly carried out via a cup of poisoned pu-erh tea.
The geniuses at Pixar had a problem, and this time, they would need to look beyond the walls of their esteemed studio for help.
The movie in question was “Soul,” a tuneful jazz tale that somehow didn’t quite swing. Rather ironically, the movie’s main character was lacking in texture and truth and, well, any depth of soul. What to do about a lead role that, in the words of Pixar chief and “Soul” director Pete Docter, “was kind of an empty shell”?The call went out to Kemp Powers, a rising playwright and “Star Trek: Discovery” TV writer who headed to Pixar’s Bay Area headquarters with much more than notes. He had a lifetime of relevant insights.
The character in question was Joe Gardner, Pixar’s first leading Black character and the heart of “Soul,” which will be released on Disney Plus on Christmas Day after bypassing domestic theaters because of the pandemic. Powers will compete against himself that day when the film adaptation of his play “One Night in Miami,” directed by Regina King, will land in theaters (ahead of its Jan. 15 release on Amazon Prime)….… And Daveed Diggs, who voices Joe’s trash-talking rival Paul, says Powers brought a humanity and a fearlessness to the tale. “There’s a strength and level of conviction in the storytelling,” says Diggs, no easy task because with its supernatural spaces and existential themes, “Soul” is “a weird movie.”
(3) CONTINUE CELEBRATING. Filer Cora Buhlert has assembled “A Holiday Story Bonanza” in her newly-released book A Christmas Collection. Full details and options to purchase in various formats at the link.
Romance, cozy fantasy, murder mysteries, pulp thrillers, science fiction, horror and humor – we have all that and more.
Watch young people find love in the pre-holiday shopping rush at Hickory Ridge Mall, at a Christmas tree lot, on the parking lot of a shuttered outlet mall and at the one bar in town that’s open on Christmas Eve.
Experience Christmas in Hallowind Cove, the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town, where strange things keep happening.
Watch as Santa’s various helpers unite to depose him.
Follow Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team as they investigate the death of a robber dressed as Santa Claus as well as a wave of thefts at a Christmas market.
Meet Richard Blakemore, hardworking pulp author by day and the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer by night, as he fights to save an orphanage from demolition in Depression era New York City.
Watch Alfred and Bertha, an ordinary married couple, as they decorate the Christmas tree and live their marvellous twenty-first century life.
Experience Christmas on the space colony of Iago Prime as well as after the end of the world.
Enjoy thirteen novellas, novelettes and short stories in six genres. This is a collection of 118000 words or approx. 390 print pages.
(4) AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME. [Item by Francis Hamit.] The CASE Act, the legislation creating a Copyright Small Claims Court, is becoming law as a part of that massive stimulus bill passed by Congress. I am taking a victory lap on this one. You may recall I was quite active in the early part of this century on Copyright matters, including prosecuting two lawsuits for infringements of magazine articles by database firms. I spent thousands of dollars for filing and legal fees over four years and came out ahead, but dropped four other suits because they would cost more than the maximum possible cash reward. There had to be a better way, I thought, and came up with the idea of a Copyright Small Claims Court, which was published in the September/October 2006 issue of The Columbia Journalism Review. [File 770 previously mentioned Hamit’s advocacy of the idea in 2011: “A Future for Small Copyright Claims?”] So it is done, and small individual creators have a path to legal recourse that wasn’t there before. Very gratifying. Those who would like to thank me can buy one of my books or stories on Amazon,com (Reviews are appreciated too). I have a stage play at Stageplays,com which I’m trying to get produced. I may add others soon. Donations are accepted on Paypal at email@example.com. I’m not a crusader, just a businessman. Support allows me to create new work.
(5) EYES ON THE PRIZE. At the risk of turning into a platform that mainly steers its audience to Camestros Felapton (oops, too late!), there are some good things there this weekend:
(6) WWDC. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins, who explains the reason the film is set in Washington in the 1980s is because it reflects Jenkins’s experiences. For example, there are sequences at the Hirshhorn Museum because Jenkins was an art student there in 1987. “How Patty Jenkins turned ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ into a personal Washington story”.
“First of all, where would Diana go?” Jenkins says of the Amazonian warrior from the isle paradise of Themyscira, who headed to World War I’s European theater in “Wonder Woman.” “She would go to the heart and center of where power is.”
Once Jenkins and co-writer Geoff Johns were settled on setting, the director plunged deep into her own memories of Washington, where she often visited before moving to the area as a teenager in 1987, staying for a bit over a year.
“The style of D.C. is so wonderful” for Wonder Woman, says Jenkins, who shot numerous scenes on the Mall, in Georgetown and in Northern Virginia. “Having her live at the Watergate, the modernity of it, cut against the Reflecting Pool and the Hirshhorn — it just felt elegant and beautiful and intellectual and pop at the same time.”
(7) NPR’S BOOKS OF THE YEAR. [Item by Contrarius.] NPR’s Best Books Of 2020 is out. The sff included on the list are mostly the usual suspects for this year. Sadly, The Vanished Birds isn’t on it. Interestingly, the new translation of Beowulf is.
Evans also was known as Sir Thorgeirr in the Society for Creative Anachronism.
(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
December 26, 1954 — On this day in 1954, the very last episode of The Shadow radio serial aired. This was the program’s 665th installment and its twenty-first season. The serial first appeared on the air on Sept 26, 1937 with Orson Welles as Lamont Cranston and The Shadow and Agnes Moorehead as Margo Lane. It would end its run with Bret Morrison, who took over the lead roles from season twelve onward, and Gertrude Warner, who was Margo Lane from season thirteen onward. The final episode was “Murder by the Sea” which unfortunately is lost to us as the tape was not kept.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 26, 1842 – Laura Gonzenbach. German-Swiss of Sicily. Collected Sicilian fairy tales; her two volumes among few major collections by a woman. Beautiful Angiola (2004) has the title story and sixty more in English. (Died 1878) [JH]
Born December 26, 1903 — Elisha Cook Jr. On the Trek side, he shows up as playing lawyer Samuel T. Cogley in the “Court Martial” episode. Elsewhere he had long association with the genre starting with Voodoo Island and including House on a Haunted Hill, Rosemary’s Baby, Wild Wild West, The Night Stalker and Twilight Zone. (Died 1995.) (CE)
Born December 26, 1938 – John Kahionhes Fadden, age 82. (Kahionhes “Long River” is his Mohawk name; he’s Turtle, his mother’s clan.) Maintains the Six Nations Indian Museum (i.e. the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy; see e.g. the 2010 U.S. dollar coin; Haudenosaunee on it is “People of the Long House”, the Iroquois) started by his parents. Four covers for us; here is Native American Animal Stories. More here. [JH]
Born December 26, 1942 – Catherine Coulter, age 78. Six novels, four shorter stories for us; ninety books all told, many NY Times Best-Sellers. Historical romances (“I love in particular Georgette Heyer, a British author who actually invented the Regency Romance – an extraordinary talent”), suspense thrillers (“at least six times as many loose ends that I have to keep searching out and tying up, and they always seem to multiply”). Advice, “READ TO YOUR CHILDREN.” [JH]
Born December 26, 1951 – Priscilla Olson, F.N., age 69. Chaired Boskone 29, 38, 42, 48; introduced Featured Filker. Ran Programming at Noreascon 4 the 62nd Worldcon. Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service). Introductions & essays in NESFA Press books An Ornament to His Profession, Cybele, Rings (Charles Harness); Ingathering (Zenna Henderson); Far From This Earth, From Other Shores (Chad Oliver); Once More With Footnotes (Sir Terry Pratchett); also “…And What We Think It Means”, ConJose Souvenir Book (60th Worldcon). Fan Guest of Honor at Minicon 34, Windycon 33. [JH]
Born December 26, 1953 — T. Jefferson Parker, 67. Author of the rather excellent Charlie Hood mystery series which ISFDB claims is paranormal. Huh. He’s one of the very few writers to win three Edgars. (CE)
Born December 26, 1953 — Clayton Emery, 67. Somewhere there’s a bookstore that consists of nothing but the franchise novel and collections that exist within a given franchise. No original fiction what-so-ever. This author has novels in the Forgotten Realms, Shadow World, The Burning Goddess, City of Assassins,The Secret World of Alex Mack, Magic: The Gathering and Runesworld franchises, plus several genre works including surprisingly Tales of Robin Hood on Baen Books. Must not be your granddaddy’s Hood. (CE)
Born December 26, 1960 — Temuera Morrison, 60. Ahhhh clones. In Attack of the Clones, he plays Jango Fett and a whole bunch of his clone troopers, and in Revenge of the Sith, he came back in the guise of Commander Cody. He goes on to play him in the second season of The Mandalorian. Crossing over, he plays Arthur Curry’s father Thomas in Aquaman. (CE)
Born December 26, 1961 — Tahnee Welch, 59. Yes, the daughter of that actress. She’s in both Cocoon films as well in Sleeping Beauty. Black Light and Johnny 2.0 which she’s in might qualify as genre in the way some horror does. She stopped acting twenty years ago. (CE)
Born December 26, 1968 – Julia Elliott, Ph.D., age 52. Jaffe Foundation award. Amazon Shared-Worlds Residency. A novel (“loopy lyricism … whacked out paranoia … joyous farce”, NY Times Book Review) and a dozen shorter stories. Teaches at Univ. S. Carolina (Columbia). [JH]
Born December 26, 1970 — Danielle Cormack, 50. If it’s fantasy and it was produced in New Zealand, she might have been in it. She was in Xena and Hercules as Ephiny on recurring role, Hercules again as Lady Marie DeValle,in Jack of All Trades, one of Kage Baker’s favorite series because, well, Bruce Campbell was the lead. She was Raina in a recurring role, and Samsara on Xena in another one-off and Margaret Sparrow in Perfect Creature, an alternate universe horror film. (CE)
Born December 26, 1983 – Nicholas Smith, age 37. Thirty novels, half a dozen shorter stories. Ironman tri-athlete. NY Times and USA Today Best-Seller. Has read Custer Died for Your Sins and The Hobbit. “I only leave positive reviews…. If I don’t like a book [and] don’t finish it … I don’t trash it because who knows what I missed.” [JH]
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Close to Home shows how Santa anticipated the current surveillance society.
(13) REVISITING LEMURIA. A news story I couldn’t link here because it’s member-locked turned out not to be all that new – except to me, and perhaps you, too. Here are three updates that appeared between 2015-2018.
Erin Ehmke on hibernation in the fat-tailed dwarf lemur:
It could be an internal genetic trigger for hibernation in the fat-tailed dwarf lemur. Since we share genetic code with the federal dwarf lemur, [the medical community is interested in understanding if] we have that same intrinsic trigger that could be tapped into for long term coma patients to prevent the cell breakdown – deep space travel, could we somehow trigger hibernation in astronauts to help get to deep space travel.
… Those lemurs could hold the key to faster recovery times from injuries and even deep space travel because of hundreds of species of primates, the fat-tailed dwarf lemur is the closest genetic cousin to humans that can hibernate.
“That suspended animation doesn’t occur in primates very often,” explained Duke Lemur Center veterinarian Bobby Schopler. “These are relatives of ours that do this, and it’s a fascinating aspect.”
Scientists have been studying the primates in their natural habitat for 48 years at the Duke Lemur Center. Duke researchers want to find out how some of the lemurs can regulate body temperature, store massive amounts of energy and sleep for 7 months at a time.
… Interest in suspended animation, the ability to set biological processes on hold, peaked in the 1950s as Nasa poured money into biological research. The hope was that sleeping your way to the stars would mean spacecraft could carry far less food, water and oxygen, making long-haul flights to distant planets more practical. It would also save astronauts from years of deep-space boredom.
Nasa’s interest died at the end of the space race, but Mr Vyazovskiy and his team of researchers at the University of Oxford are now exploring ways to put astronauts into stasis, using knowledge gained from mammals, including bears and dwarf lemurs.
(14) PRESERVED IN PUMICE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Archeologists have discovered a 2000-year-old street food stall in Pompeii, complete with illustrations of the food (or rather the animals that provide the food) on offer. I’m amazed how modern the whole thing looks. I can imagine this stall setting up shop at our annual autumn fair without raising any eyebrows: “Pompeii: Ancient snack stall uncovered by archaeologists” at CNN.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Contrarius, Francis Hamit, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Steven H Silver, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Wright.]
Author Adrienne Martini knows just a little about this: she ran for local office, and then chronicled the experience in her 2020 memoir Somebody’s Gotta Do It. Now she’s here to talk a little bit about that experience, and why it’s something you might consider thinking about as well.
The Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College is accepting play submissions for the 2021 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards.
The fourth annual Neukom Award for Playwriting will consider full-length plays and other full-length works for the theater that address the question “What does it mean to be a human in a computerized world?”
Playwrights with either traditional or experimental theater pieces, including multimedia productions, are encouraged to submit works to the award program.
The award includes a $5,000 honorarium and support for a two-stage development process with table readings at local arts festivals. Works that have already received a full production are not eligible for the competition.
The deadline for all submissions is January 15, 2021. The awards will be announced in the spring of 2021.
This book is set in an imagined futuristic New York, which oddly enough has remained stuck in an eternal 1960s. There’s still a vibrant hippie community in Greenwich Village. Youngsters from across square America travel to New York to discover themselves; there they are mentored (or at least observed) by old hands like Chester Anderson and his close friend Michael Kurland. This Greenwich Village is populated by nonconformists as eccentric as they are kind-hearted—for the most part.
The most notable exception is shameless grifter Laszlo Scott. For once, Scott’s most recent pharmaceutical offering is entirely authentic: his “Reality Pills” can make dreams real. The aliens supplying Scott have a malign intent: they may not want to actively unleash the heat rays, but they are counting on human nightmares to exterminate us all, leaving the world ripe for alien appropriation. Standing between humanity and certain doom: sixteen Greenwich Village potheads and hipsters. Two of whom are missing….
…We couldn’t have made it ten years without all of you. And we can’t wait to see what the next ten years brings. Let’s close out this year of sadness and insanity with the best December this world has ever seen. Let’s give the gift of reading and share the love of fantasy, together!
U.S. book publishing’s biggest trade show is being “retired,” show organizer ReedPop announced today. BookExpo, along with BookCon and Unbound, will not be held in 2021 after being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
ReedPop, the pop culture event–focused subdivision of Reed Exhibitions, said that, given the “continued uncertainty surrounding in-person events at this time,” the company has decided “that the best way forward is to retire the current iteration of events as they explore new ways to meet the community’s needs through a fusion of in-person and virtual events.”
In order to try to hold the event earlier this year, Reed moved the date from its usual spot at New York City’s Javits Center in late May to late July, but as the coronavirus continued to make larger meetings impossible, Reed cancelled the live conference and held six days of free virtual programming from May 26-31, the original dates of BookExpo and BookCon.
…Reed Exhibitions’ convention business has been hammered by Covid-19. Through the first nine months of 2020, revenue was down 70%, parent company RELX reported. It expects full year revenue of £330m-£360 million and after a range of cost-lowering initiatives—including layoffs—total costs for the year are expected to be £530m-£540 million, excluding one-off costs related to restructuring and cancellations. Total Reed Exhibitions revenue in 2019 was £1.3 billion.
…We at the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council work hard to bring people together from around the world, to cultivate a sense of community through exciting and unique programming, and to foster camaraderie among kindred souls. We strive to provide a welcoming home here in Providence for all members of the vibrant and diverse Weird community, and we’re proud of our success over the past eight years.
NecronomiCon 2019, our biggest event yet, saw over 2,000 folks gather in Providence to share their passion for the Weird. And our retail store continues to garner rave reviews as a “must-visit” and “treasure” for its unique selection and helpful staff. These are just a few ways that our organization enriches our city and the global Weird fiction community.
Today, on this Giving Tuesday, we’re asking for your help.
The Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council is a nonprofit organization. We manage to do what we do with minimal staff – just two paid employees that help run our storefront in Providence. The rest of our operation relies on a squad of dedicated volunteers — of which I am one, squeezing in work for the organization between the tasks of my real job….
The second-largest radio telescope in the world is no more.
The Arecibo Observatory’s 1,000-foot-diameter telescope collapsed at 8 a.m. Tuesday in Puerto Rico. The telescope’s 900-ton platform, which was suspended 450 feet in the air to send and receive radio waves, crashed into its disk below, pulling down with it the tops of three support towers.
(8) WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Nicholas Barber, in the BBC story “How a Spider-Man musical became a theatrical disaster”, notes that Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark had its first preview ten years ago. Barber discusses the many reasons why this musical became one of Broadway’s biggest money-losers, including many failures of its special effects and the fact that composers Bono and the Edge had never heard a Broadway musical when they accepted the assignment to write the score and had to be sent an emergency care package of CDs with songs on them so they would know what to do.
It’s been 10 years since one of the most momentous nights of Glen Berger’s life. He was already an established off-Broadway playwright and children’s television writer, but on 28 November 2010, a musical he had scripted had its first preview at the Foxwoods Theatre in New York – and it was shaping up to be an international smash.
The musical was Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Its friendly neighbourhood title character had been a beloved pop-cultural icon for five decades, and had just featured in three Hollywood blockbusters. The songs were written by rock’n’roll royalty, U2’s Bono and The Edge. And the director was Julie Taymor, who had masterminded the record-breaking stage adaptation of Disney’s The Lion King. Turn Off the Dark couldn’t go far wrong with a pedigree like that. Could it?
Which is not to say that Berger wasn’t nervous. Speaking to BBC Culture from his home in upstate New York, he remembers how strange it felt to be unveiling something he and his collaborators had been devising together for years. “We were opening the door,” he says, “either to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory or some sort of slaughterhouse.” The show relied on complicated aerial stunts in which the performers were suspended from wires, and so the first preview was bound to keep stopping and starting as technical hitches were addressed….
(9) HEADHUNTER THWARTED. TMZ, in the story “Darth Vader’s Original ‘Star Wars’ Helmet Stolen” says that Frank Hebert (note spelling) allegedly broke into Bad Robot Productions and left with a shopping cart full of Star Wars stuff, including an original Darth Vader helmet, but all the stolen stuff was returned.
…Law enforcement sources tell us … 38-year-old Frank Hebert was arrested Monday night after he allegedly broke into the Bad Robot Productions building in Santa Monica and made off with ‘Star Wars’ movie memorabilia … including Darth’s helmet.
We’re told cops responded to the scene and were told by security personnel that Hebert had been captured on surveillance video illegally entering the building through the rooftop, and casually walked out with a shopping cart full of stuff.
Our sources say cops quickly found a guy pushing a cart down the street not too far away, which we’re told was full of ‘Star Wars’ stuff — as in, original props used in the actual movies.
The video is a way for Ward and the S.H.I.E.L.D. crew to raise awareness for a good cause: lending a financial hand to entertainment workers whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic-related shutdowns across the industry. Through the associated #fundthebat social media campaign, fans can chip in a little moolah to bolster the Motion Picture Television Fund’s Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund. The clip links to a GoFundMe page where anyone can donate — regardless of which side they’re on in the Marvel-versus-DC debate.
The fund says it’s using “every dollar” contributed through the campaign to “support the thousands of out of work carpenters, hair stylists, drivers, make up artists, painters, set dressers, electricians, editors, grips, camera people, actors, writers and directors who created the shows and movies that have kept you entertained during this difficult time.”
(11) FANZINE FAN OBIT. Ansible® 401 released today relayed this notice from Robert Lichtman:
Miriam Dyches Carr Knight Lloyd, US fan active in the 1950s and 1960s with fanzines including various ‘Goojie Publications’ titles as Dyches or Carr, Klein Bottle and later issues of Fanac with her first husband Terry Carr, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Poughkeepsie with her second husband Frank Knight, died on 23 October.
(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
December 1, 1995 — The Adventures of Captain Zoom In Outer Space premiered on television. Directed by Max Tads from a script by Brian Levant, Rick Copp, and David A. Goodman, it starred Daniel Riordan, Ron Perlman, Nichelle Nichols, Liz Vassey and Gia Carides. It follows the adventures of Fifties actor Ty Farrell who plays the title character in a Captain Video-like program, The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space. Although you’ll find references on the net for a series having been made and for fans having seen it, there wasn’t such a series. Only the TV movie. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a rating of, well, they don’t have a rating for it.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 1, 1886 — Rex Stout. ISFDB says his Nero Wolfe’s “The Affair of the Twisted Scarf” which was also published as “Disguise for Murder”” and also “Poison à la Carte” are SF. Now I’ve read each of them quite some years back but I don’t recall anything in them that makes them genre. Now I adore Nero Wolfe but never even thought of these novels as being genre adjacent. (Died 1975.) (CE)
Born December 1, 1942 — John Crowley, 78. I’m tempted to say he’s a frelling literary genius and stop there but I won’t. Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and World Fantasy Award winning Little, Big is brilliant but if anything his crow centric novel of Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr which received the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award makes that novel look like child’s play in comparison. Did you know he wrote a novella called The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines? Or Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land, which contains an entire imaginary novel by the poet? (CE)
Born December 1, 1964 — Jo Walton, 56. She’s won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and the World Fantasy award for her novel Tooth and Claw in which dragons got positively and delightfully Victorian. Even if they eat each other. Her Small Change trilogy may be the finest WW II novels I’ve read bar none, and her Sulien series is an excellent retelling of the Arthurian myth. Among Others which won a Hugo and Nebula is she says about the “coming-of-age experience of having books instead of people for friends and solace”. I can relate to that as I imagine many here can too. (CE)
Born December 1, 1964 — Alisa Kwitney, 56. Daughter of Robert Sheckley and Ziva Kwitney. Editor, Vertigo Books. Contributing author, The Dreaming: Beyond The Shores of Night, set in Gaiman’s Sandman multiverse, scriptwriter for the Vertigo Visions: The Phantom Stranger graphic novel and editor of Vertigo Visions: Artwork from the Cutting Edge of Comics Currently an editor at Brain Mill Press. (CE)
Born December 1, 1965 — Bill Willingham, 55. Best known I’d say for his long running Fable series though personally I think his best work was Proposition Player. He got his start in the late 1970s to early 1980s as a staff artist for TSR games where he was the cover artist for the AD&D Player Character Record Sheets and a lot of games I don’t recognize not being a gamer at that time. I do recognize his superb 1980s comic book series Elementals, and he later write the equally excellent Shadowpact for DC. I was always ambivalent about the Jack of Shadows series that he spun off of Fables. His House of Mystery was rather good as well. (CE)
Born December 1, 1971 — Emily Mortimer, 49. She was the voice of Sophie in the English language version of Howl’s Moving Castle, and Jane Banks in Mary Poppins Returns. She was the voice of Lisette in the superb Hugo animated film, and was Nicole Durant in The Pink Panther. (CE)
…Based on the four-film franchise and Marvel comic-book series, Dinklage’s Toxic Avenger will reportedly retain the character’s origin story (hapless underdog pushed into toxic waste and reborn with superpowers, naturally) while exploring “environmental themes” with a take on “the superhero genre in the vein of Deadpool.” Because God help superhero movies if we force Toxie into a gritty reboot, too.
Here’s a wild one from the TOT gang. In this episode, three men man a rocket and go to Mars where they will mine for rare minerals and ore to take back to Earth to cash in. But, things don’t go as planned…
(16) MONOLITHS: EASY COME, EASY GO. The Utah monolith and its Romanian imitator vanished less mysteriously than they arrived, in that the people who took them down are at least known to someone.
“On the night of November 27, 2020, at about 8:30pm– our team removed the Utah Monolith,” [Andy] Lewis wrote, in a Facebook post. “We will not be including any other information, answers, or insight at this time.”
The mayor of the Romanian town where the local monolith was planted seems to know more than he’s saying:
…The mayor had hoped that the structure could potentially become a tourist attraction for Piatra Neamt, a picturesque mountainous town with a population of around 100,000. But he offers up a more sobering theory as to why the monolith disappeared in a matter of days.
“Whoever placed the monolith would have suffered legal consequences because we can’t allow structures without legal authorisation,” he said.
“It’s quite a mystery that this came up in a week that I had a chat with some local investors who don’t obey construction laws — it’s absolutely a bizarre coincidence,” he added.
(17) SJW CREDENTIAL COMMUTE. [Item by JJ.] Alexander Perrin’s “Short Trip” is an interactive cat adventure on a trolley line. Better with the sound on. Use right/left arrows to move faster/slower forward/backward. if you stop at the tram stops, cats will get on and off. The details are best enjoyed if you don’t run it at full speed
(18) ON THE ROAD WITH J.G. BALLARD. “Crash! (1971) by J. G. Ballard” on YouTube is a short film, originally broadcast by the BBC in 1971, in which J.G. Ballard drives a car and obsesses about crashes.
(19) PARTY POOPERS. Maria Temming reports in the Washington Post that researchers at the University of Georgia, the Florida Institute of Technology, and the Colorado School of Mines have tried growing crops on Martian soil and discovered “Farming on Mars will be a lot harder than ‘The Martian’ made it seem” thanks fo the soil’s high scidity and the presence of the potent microbe killer calcium perchlorate in high quantities.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Demon’s Souls” on YouTube, Fandom Games says Sony revised the 1990’s game Demon’s Souls without consulting the original developers, which meant that “Sony treats the Demon’s Souls IP like Gollum treats the One Ring.”
[Thanks to JJ, John Hertz, James Davis Nicoll, Paul Di Flippo, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, David Doering, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day David Goldfarb.]