By Dale Arnold: The Baltimore Science Fiction Society has received a permit to construct an ADA compliant ramp outside its headquarters after a two year process which was delayed by both lost government records (improper hand recopying of data still held on physical index cards) at the Baltimore Zoning and Planning Department Office and not one but two ransomware attacks at that department which brought their computer systems down to the point where they had to rebuild the entire system… After explaining that even though the zoning code did not have a category for science fiction society or literary society, that the Baltimore Science Fiction Society was not like a union hall or a dance club or other things that the zoning folks believed might be similar…
is happy to announce we finally received the permit. This ramp will finally
allow people using wheelchairs to enter the front of the Baltimore Science
Fiction Society Building and not use the steep scary freight ramp at the back
of the building.
final ramp design is more complex than we had originally hoped adding to some
of the approval delays and boosting up the price due to the slope of the
property, placement of doors on the building, and location of gas and plumbing
lines. Engineering drawings and fund raising for this project began in
2013 and it has been a long haul, but we now have the funds, permit, and
contractors lined up to perform construction in March 2020. (when the weather
breaks as concrete sets poorly in the cold)
of the surplus funds raised at Balticon 50 where George R. R. Martin was guest
of honor, as well as many thousands of dollars raised from fandom at other
events will go to cover the total cost of over $30,000.00 for the project.
BSFS thanks everyone in fandom that contributed for their faith and
generosity toward this project.
(1) WORLDCON PHOTOS. Simon Bubb, part of Dublin 2019’s staff
photography team, has posted albums of his photos from the Worldcon at
Facebook. Beautiful photos. So many
good memories for those who participated.
(2) DINO SQUIRREL REVIVAL. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week’s episode of Stranger than Sci-Fi on Beeb Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 was the penultimate episode. Next week is the final in the series and is on telekinesis.
The latest episode, “Jurassic Park” (available
for a month), looked at de-extinction. Crichton not only read up on the
science, he was so taken with one paper that hypothesized possibly near-future
DNA technology that he went to visit the researchers. And the rest is
The programme pointed to the limits of de-extinction
but did say that we could digitize DNA of current endangered species and bring them
back if we had to.
Astro-physicist Jen Gupta and comedian Alice Fraser travel the parallel worlds of science and sci-fi.
Starting with the latest books and films, they discover real life science that sounds too strange to be true – from babies grown in bags, via black hole Jacuzzis, to flowers that behave like our ears.
In this episode, they tackle the question everyone wants to know the answer to – can we bring the dinosaurs back to life? They talk to the journalist Britt Wray about the surprising origin story for the book Jurassic Park. Then they dive into the world of de-extinction research and find out why there is a group of scientists who focus all their time on reviving extinct species.
They ask if we might soon see woolly mammoths roaming the Siberian steppe once again. What are the potential pitfalls of resurrecting the dead?
I’m going to give you the Hollywood elevator pitch in order to secure your attention: This is a Japanese steampunk novel for fans of Blade Runner. Do I have your attention now? Good. Because we’re going to flash back in time to 2009, when Haikasoru popped into the world.
…Unfortunately, Haikasoru didn’t quite catch the imagination of the public in the United States. Its biggest hit was probably All You Need is Kill, adapted into the Tom Cruise vehicle Edge of Tomorrow, but otherwise it sadly went on being ignored by most of the speculative fiction fans, while ironically producing the stuff fans say they hunger for.
…But the first incarnation of the imprint has one last, lyrical swan song before it drifts to sleep: Automatic Eve, a mosaic novel.
I like mosaic novels thanks to having read Clifford D. Simak’s City as a teenager. Some people despise them, the break with non-linearity, the short episodes building up to something more, frustrate certain readers. But even if you don’t exactly fancy that format, Rokuro Inui’s Automatic Eve, translated by Matt Treyvaud, works well. Characters, situations and plot points reoccur during the course of the book, so that you are left with a feeling of coherence rather than of stories thinly strung together, which can be the issue that turns readers away from mosaic novels in the first place – and sometimes earns them the pejorative term of “fix-ups.”
Much of the wonder of the book derives from its setting and mechanics. In a steampunk Japan where artisans can produce automatons that perfectly mimic humans and animals, an intricate web of deceit and secrets has been laid down. At the center of this web sits the beautiful, mysterious Eve and her father, an inventor with ties to both the shogunate and the ruling imperial house, which are locked in a battle for power.
(5) CORRECTION. The participants James Davis Nicoll is recruiting participants for the next phase of Young People Read Old SFF must have been born after 1990. The post still says “1980,” however, he later corrected this in the comments. Uh, never mind!
A FAN DOES TO A $40K CAR. [Item by Dale Arnold.] Baltimore area fan Miriam Winder Kelly recently bought a brand new
Tesla Model 3 for over $40,000.00 and immediately put bumper stickers for
her favorite causes on it. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society, The Red Cross
and Middle Earth? The BSFS bumper sticker is quite old and apparently she
saved several from 20 years ago so she could always have one on her car.
By the way the bumper sticker was designed by a committee chaired by the late costuming fan Bobby Gear. (wife of the late multiple Worldcon Masquerade MC Marty Gear) Bobby said when she delivered the design, “I am never helping design anything with a committee again!”
(7) LOOMIS OBIT. Game publisher Rick
Loomis of Flying Buffalo Incorporated died August 24, his birthday, after battling
cancer. He was 73. A “Help Gaming Legend Rick Loomis” for his
medical expenses had been started just recently.
Rick was one of the founding members of the Game Manufacturing Association and served as its President several times when they needed him. He started Flying Buffalo Games back in 1970 and was one of the first people to ever run a Play-by Mail game on a dedicated computer. He has traveled the world to promote role-playing and card games and over the years Rick has befriended hundreds (thousands!) of people at conventions from his Flying Buffalo Games booth and company. He published Tunnels & Trolls, the Nuclear War Card Game, Grimtooth’s Traps and so much more…
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
August 25, 1851 — George Parsons Lathrop. Noted for co-authoring In the Deep of Time novella with Thomas A. Edison which ran in English Illustrated Magazine on the third of March 1897. (Died 1898.)
August 25, 1909 — Michael Rennie. Definitely best remembered as Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. He would show up a few years later on The Lost World as Lord John Roxton, and he’s got an extensive genre series resume which counts Lost in Space as The Keeper in two episodes, The Batman as The Sandman, The Time Tunnel, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Invaders. (Died 1971.)
August 25, 1913 — Walt Kelly. If you can get them, Fantagraphics has released Pogo in six stunning hardcover editions covering up to 1960. They’re planning to do all of his strips eventually. Did you know Kelly began his career as animator at Walt Disney Studios, working on Dumbo, Pinocchio and Fantasia? (Died 1973.)
August 25, 1930 — Sean Connery, 89. Worst film? Zardoz. Best film? From Russia with Love. Best SF film? Outland. Or Time Bandits you want go for silly.
August 25, 1940 — Marilyn Niven, 79. She was a Boston-area fan who lives in LA and is married to writer Larry Niven. She has worked on a variety of conventions, both regionals and Worldcons. In college, she was a member of the MITSFS and was one of the founding members of NESFA. She’s also a member of Almack’s Society for Heyer Criticism.
August 25, 1947 — Michael Kaluta, 72. He’s best known for his 1970s take on The Shadow with writer Dennis O’Neil for DC in 1973–1974. He’d reprise his work on The Shadow for Dark Horse a generation later. And Kaluta and O’Neil reunited on The Shadow: 1941 – Hitler’s Astrologer graphic novel published in 1988.
August 25, 1955 — Simon R. Green, 64. I’ll confess that I’ve read pretty much everything he’s written. Favorite series? The Nightside, Hawk & Fisher and Secret History are my favorite ones with Drinking Midnight Wine the novel I’ve re-read the most.
August 25, 1958 — Tim Burton, 61. Beetlejuice is by far my favorite film by him. His Batman is interesting. Read that comment as you will. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is definitely more Dahlish than the first take was, and Sleepy Hollow is just damn weird.
August 25, 1970 — Chris Roberson, 49. Brilliant writer. I strongly recommend his Recondito series, Firewalk and Firewalkers. The Spencer Finch series is also worth reading.
In “When We First Met,” we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, “Avengers Assemble!” or the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.
Today, based on a suggestion from reader Riccardo N., we look into the first time that Clark Kent’s apartment was given the address of 344 Clinton Street, Apartment 3-D.
Obviously, in the early days, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were not really all that considered about world-building. No one in comics really was. Batman’s set-up was different from issue to issue early on (my favorite is where Bruce Wayne just kept his Batman costume in a chest at the foot of his bed). So when they say Superman is in his apartment, there really was no thought into it beyond “Superman is in his apartment”…
During his first-ever visit to Philadelphia at Keystone Comic Con, Tom Holland teased his third live-action Spider-Man film, teasing that it’s already been pitched and will be “something very special and something very different” from what we saw inHomecoming and Far From Home, while having a deep personal connection to the actor’s own life. Moreover, he gave an enthusiastic “of course!” when asked if Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) has a long-term romantic shot with Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).
“Uh, it’s been a crazy week,” he said, echoing his statement at D23 Expo yesterday. “The news came as a bit of a shock, but we’ve made five great movies … you guys have made it so special for me and it’s not the end of me playing Spider-Man. There’s definitely more to come … I’m just really excited for everything … It’s only gonna get bigger and better … It’s pretty crazy.”
(12) COINING A WORD. John M. Jordan, in “The Czech Play
That Gave Us the Word ‘Robot’” on the MIT Press website reminds us that, although we might
know that Karel Capek coined the term “robot” most people don’t know
the plot of Capek’s play R.U.R. or know that robota is Czech for
“forced labor.” The post is an excerpt from Jordan’s MIT Press
The contrast between robots as mechanical slaves and potentially rebellious destroyers of their human makers echoes Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and helps set the tone for later Western characterizations of robots as slaves straining against their lot, ready to burst out of control. The duality echoes throughout the twentieth century: Terminator, HAL 9000, Blade Runner’s replicants.
The character Helena in “R.U.R.” is sympathetic, wanting the robots to have freedom. Radius is the robot that understands his station and chafes at the idiocy of his makers, having acted out his frustrations by smashing statues.
In light of the changes in the ebook market and our retreat from the Kindle Unlimited space, we’ve been making some strategic changes at Arkhaven and Castalia House. Now that we’ve successfully entered the video space, we’re concentrating our efforts on our strongest fiction and non-fiction properties, primarily because we don’t have the bandwidth to devote to everything.
This is why we’ve returned the publishing rights to their books to a number of our authors, although we continue to support them and their self-publishing efforts, and why we have methodically reduced the number of books that we are publishing. Our sales remain strong, which tends to indicate that our revised approach is a viable one.
Day responded to a complaint in comments:
It’s not a democracy. And given some of the lessons we’ve learned, we are no longer going to push IP that we do not control into other media.
Publishers are in a trap of sorts. If a book doesn’t sell well, the author thinks he should have self-published. If the book sells really well, the author thinks he should have self-published.
And in another comment he said:
I was told a lot of things that didn’t come to pass too. So I am not going to accept being held accountable for things that were entirely contingent upon other’s responsibilities.
If you want a refund, we’ll give you one. You have that option. But I’m not going to waste my time or the backers’ resources on projects that should not have been done in the first place. We all meant well, but the foundation was not solid.
We are going to be in the red on this no matter what due to the need to produce 18 comics. So I want to make sure at least some of them will sell well enough to give us a shot at breaking even on it.
…So what does Day mean be ‘our strongest fiction and non-fiction properties’. There are some clues.
We know John C Wright has at least partially been dropped or moved on.
We know that the core of this announcement was shifting what comic would be provided to people who had pledged to a crowd funding campaign. Day is shifting from a story by Rolf Nelson to an adaptation of one of his own books.
In a comment Day says: “And given some of the lessons we’ve learned, we are no longer going to push IP that we do not control into other media.” What IP does Day control? What he writes himself.
The problem with being a publishing house is you have to deal with two groups of people best avoided in business: writers and readers. Castalia’s business model also includes a third: Amazon. It sounds like Day has problems with all three….
Of all the things I love about being a girl, I love doing nail art the most. But I’m also a scientist, and scientists aren’t usually associated with perfectly manicured nails. Nail art became my way of debunking some common stereotypes, including those that associate scientists with being cold or unapproachable.
I got into nail art four years ago after a friend of mine bought a beginner nail art kit. It contained one metal plate with various nail-sized designs etched on the surface – animals, flowers, food – along with nail polish, a scraper and a silicone stamper.
…At the time, I was working as a research scientist studying Alzheimer’s disease at Cornell University, where I was looking for ways to get lay people interested in science. On Instagram, I found some science communicators using drawings or video to explain concepts like how stem cells help heal wounds.
Then I had an epiphany! None of these science communicators were using nail art as a platform. And none of the nail artists I followed were doing scientific designs.
I had been blogging about science for a while, but I wanted to try something new. So on October 10, 2018, I started an Instagram account (@nailsciart) where I’d use nail art to reach a very specific demographic: teenage girls. I wanted to show them the fun side of science through an art form many of them could find appealing — and that it’s possible to have polished nails and work on cool science.
[Thanks to Simon Bubb, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip
Hitchcock, JJ, Dale Arnold, Eric Wong, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster,
BravoLimaPoppa, Danny SIchel, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike
Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor
of the day Xtifr.]