(1) NATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL 2021. The Library of Congress’ “10-Day National Book Festival for 2021” will include appearances by genre figures Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Roxane Gay, Kazuo Ishiguro and more.
The theme of this year’s festival is “Open a Book, Open the World.” Audiences will be invited to create their own festival experiences from programs in a range of formats and an expanded schedule over 10 days from September 17-26.. “Create Your National Book Festival Experience Over 10 Days in Multiple Formats”.
The lineup includes authors, poets and illustrators from America and around the world:
- Kacen Callender
- Michael J. Fox
- Tana French
- Roxane Gay
- Nikki Giovanni
- Annette Gordon-Reed
- Adam Grant
- Yaa Gyasi
- Maria Hinojosa
- Mishal Husain
- Kazuo Ishiguro
- Chang-rae Lee
- Silvia Moreno-Garcia
- Viet Thanh Nguyen
- Christopher Paolini
- Sarah Pearse
- Mary Roach
- Marcus Samuelsson
- Angie Thomas
- Diane von Fürstenberg
- Martha Wells
- Isabel Wilkerson
(2) OR MAYBE OLLY WON’T BE THE DOCTOR. Olly Alexander’s manager dismissed rumors that her client is replacing Jodie Whittaker in a pun-filled Instagram reports Digital Spy. “It’s a Sin star Olly Alexander responds to Doctor Who rumours”.
Tabloid reports claimed over the weekend that the Years & Years singer was taking over the role of the iconic Time Lord, following previous speculation that Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker will be leaving at the end of the next series.
However, it seems like Olly won’t be travelling in the TARDIS anytime soon….
(3) FANS SAY YES, CRITICS SAY NO. Yahoo! has a roundup of the responses to The Tomorrow War: “Chris Pratt’s ‘The Tomorrow War’ Panned as ‘Garbage Pizza’ and ‘Starship Troopers for Dummies’ by Critics”.
… Chris Pratt’s latest ode to his inner “action star,” Amazon Prime’s “The Tomorrow War,” is fighting its own battle with critics, who decry it as everything from “the garbage pizza of science-fiction films” to a “mediocre straight white savior fantasy in which the protagonist is…f—ing stupid.”
“The Tomorrow War” made its debut on Amazon Prime on Friday and is currently sitting at a lukewarm 53% among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, with the audience review topping off at a more positive 80%. The Globe and Mail’s Barry Hertz calls it “Starship Troopers for dummies,” adding, “If I had a time machine, I’d punt myself to the past just before ‘The Tomorrow War’ went into production, and save everyone the trouble,” while Brian Lowry of CNN admits the picture has a “certain appeal,” “but strands its star in a pretty uninspired time and place.”…
(4) THE VIRAL CURTAIN. Darius Hupov is the coordinator of the first Eastern European SciFi Anthology. The Viral Curtain is the 2021 edition, and has short stories from 11 countries. All the details about the anthology, including the short stories and authors, are at the Eastern European SFF Anthology project website.
The anthology premiered in June at the Refesticon Fantasy Festival in Bijelo Pojle, Montenegro. And this month it will also be present at the Eurocon in Fiugi (in printed format) and (so they hope) at the Worldcon (in ebook format).
Here are the countries, authors, and stories represented in the anthology.
Here are Cristian Vicol, cover designer, Darius Hupov, anthology coordinator, Adrian Chifu, graphic designer for the image on the cover, in Union Square, Timisoara, Romania).
(5) THE TEN PERCENTERS. “Why do writers need agents? To keep track of the rejections” author Chris Paling tells The Guardian.
That 10% fee buys a novelist like me more than the chance of a big book deal – from a hand with the DIY to a shoulder to cry on after yet another knockback…
…A few weeks after the sudden death of my agent, Deborah Rogers, in 2014 the colleague deputed to take me on phoned. “I’ve found something in Deborah’s desk.”
“A letter from you. To you.”
“It looks like she’d read it. Remember it?”
Of course I remembered it. Frustrated after months of trying to get a response to a novel, I had written a letter to myself, enclosed a self-addressed envelope, and asked her to tick the appropriate response: “Novel read”, “novel needs work”, “novel submitted”, “novel sold for a: £1,000, b: £10,000, c: £100,000”. Petty-minded and, given her support and encouragement over the years, unforgivable. But, being Deborah, she took it well….
(6) YOUTH WILL BE SERVED. The Hollywood Reporter revisits Logan’s Run with Michael York, the actor who played the title character, book co-author William Nolan, and others in “Run, Runner! ‘Logan’s Run’ Star Michael York Shares New Tales on Film’s 45th Anniversary”.
… The then 33-year-old Englishman was cast to play Logan 5 (Yes, he loves the age irony) whose job as a member of the elite police unit called “Sandmen” is to track down and terminate “Runners,” aka those who try to avoid the ritualistic “Carrousel” where they will be euthanized to control the dome-encased population in the year 2274. Logan’s overindulged existence is divine — until through a series of events he is forced to become a Runner.
The Three Musketeers and Cabaret star initially had zero interest in the enormous sci-fi project, recalling that he was in Los Angeles at the time, starring in the play Ring Around the Moon at the Ahmanson Theatre. One day, a script arrived with Anderson attached to direct: Logan’s Run. York assures he had wanted to work with the director again after their collaboration on Conduct Unbecoming (1975). But after one look, York felt he was wrong for the film and was prepared to pass.
“I was so stupid,” York says, with laughter. “But, fortunately, there was a younger actor in the company who had been delegated to drive me from Beverly Hills to the Ahmanson, and we became friends. He asked if he could read the script and I said, ‘of course.’ The next morning, he turned up — actually wagging a finger at me — and said ‘You’ve got to do this! You don’t understand. It’s pressing all my buttons!’ So I owe that actor a good deal. I went to MGM and suddenly, I was doing it.”
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- July 4, 1996 — Twenty five years ago in the United Kingdom on this day, Independence Day premiered. It was directed and co-written by Roland Emmerich. It was produced by Dean Devlin who also wrote it with Emmerich. The film had a very large cast that included Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Margaret Colin, Randy Quaid, Robert Loggia, James Rebhorn, Harvey Fierstein, Vivica A. Fox and Harry Connick Jr. Critics Inside the USA generally loved it whereas critics outside condemned its hyper-patriotism. The box office here and overseas was such that only Jurassic Park has earned more money that year. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a solid seventy five percent rating. It was up for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2 but that went instead to Babylon 5 for the “Severed Dreams” episode.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born July 4, 1883 — Rube Goldberg. Not genre, but certainly genre adjacent as I could argue that MacGyver is direct descendent of him. Born Reuben Garrett Lucius Goldberg, he was a sculptor, author, cartoonist, engineer, and inventor who’s certainly best known for his very popular cartoons showing overly complex machines doing simple tasks in terribly convoluted manners hence the phrase “Rube Goldberg machines.” The X-Files episode titled “The Goldberg Variation” involved an apartment rigged as a Goldberg machine. (Died 1970.)
- Born July 4, 1901 — Guy Endore. American novelist and screenwriter whose 1933 The Werewolf of Paris novel holds the same position in werewolf literature as does Dracula does for vampire literature. It was filmed as The Curse of The Werewolf for which he wrote the screenplay. Stableford also praises his horror story, “The Day of the Dragon.” He worked on the screenplay for Mark of the Vampire starring Bella Lugosi. (Died 1970.)
- Born July 4, 1910 — Gloria Stuart. She was cast as Flora Cranley opposite Claude Rains in The Invisible Man in 1933, and 68 years later she played Madeline Fawkes in The Invisible Man series. She was in The Old Dark House as Margaret Waverton which is considered horror largely because Boris Karloff was in it. And she was in the time travelling The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan as well. (Died 2010.)
- Born July 4, 1931 — Stephen Boyd. He only had one genre role that you will remember, that of Grant in Fantastic Voyage. (That’s assuming you’re not watching Raquel Welch.) He’d later show up in Lady Dracula as Count Dracula. (Died 1977.)
- Born July 4, 1949 — Peter Crowther, 72. He is the founder (with Simon Conway) of PS Publishing where he’s editor now. He edited a series of genre anthologies that DAW published. And he’s written a number of horror novels of which I’d say After Happily Ever and By Wizard Oak are good introductions to him. He’s also done a lot of short fiction but I see he’s really available in digital form for much of short fiction or novels at the usual digital suspects.
- Born July 4, 1960 — Joyce Agu, 61. Background characters are fascinating. She played Ensign Gates on the Next Generation, a role she did for forty seven episodes! She later showed up as an Excelsior crew member in The Undiscovered Country thought it’s not certain it’s the same character.
- Born July 4, 1977 — David Petersen, 44. Writer and illustrator of the brilliant Mouse Guard series. If you haven’t read it, do so — it’s that good. It almost got developed as a film but got axed due to corporate politics. IDW published The Wind in The Willows with over sixty of his illustrations several years back.
- Born July 4, 1989 — Emily Coutts, 32. She plays the role of helmsman Keyla Detmer on Discovery. She’s also her mirror universe counterpart, who is the first officer of that universe’s Shenzhou. (I like the series and am definitely looking forward to it when it jump a thousand years into the future next season!) She was in one episode of the SF series Dark Matter and in Crimson Peak, a horror film but that’s it for genre appearances.
(9) VISIONS QUEST. “’Star Wars: Visions’ unveils special look at anime anthology” – SYFY Wire has the breakdown.
…Coming to Disney+ this September, Star Wars: Visions is a anthology of anime shorts produced by some of the most preeminent animation studios in Japan like Kamikaze Douga, Geno Studio (Twin Engine), Studio Colorido (Twin Engine), Trigger, Kinema Citrus, Science Saru, and Production IG….
(10) HE’S DEAD – ISN’T HE, JIM? The pandemic also complicated the business of freezing the brains of dead people who hope to be revived in the future: “The Cryonics Industry Would Like to Give You the Past Year, and Many More, Back” in the New York Times.
When an 87-year-old Californian man was wheeled into an operating room just outside Phoenix last year, the pandemic was at its height and medical protocols were being upended across the country.
A case like his would normally have required 14 or more bags of fluids to be pumped into him, but now that posed a problem.
Had he been infected with the coronavirus, tiny aerosol droplets could have escaped and infected staff, so the operating team had adopted new procedures that reduced the effectiveness of the treatment but used fewer liquids.
It was an elaborate workaround, especially considering the patient had been declared legally dead more than a day earlier.
He had arrived in the operating room of Alcor Life Extension Foundation — located in an industrial park near the airport in Scottsdale, Ariz. — packed in dry ice and ready to be “cryopreserved,” or stored at deep-freeze temperatures, in the hope that one day, perhaps decades or centuries from now, he could be brought back to life.
As it turns out, the pandemic that has affected billions of lives around the world has also had an impact on the nonliving.
From Moscow to Phoenix and from China to rural Australia, the major players in the business of preserving bodies at extremely low temperatures say the pandemic has brought new stresses to an industry that has long faced skepticism or outright hostility from medical and legal establishments that have dismissed it as quack science or fraud.
In some cases, Covid-19 precautions have limited the parts of the body that can be pumped full of protective chemicals to curb the damage caused by freezing.
Alcor, which has been in business since 1972, adopted new rules in its operating room last year that restricted the application of its medical-grade antifreeze solution to only the patient’s brain, leaving everything below the neck unprotected…
(11) LOTR TV PRODUCTION ISSUES. The New Zealand Herald reports “Stunt workers’ fury over Lord of the Rings injuries”.
At least three stunt workers on Amazon Studios’ $1 billion The Lord of the Rings television production being filmed in Auckland have been seriously injured — and one has resulted in a $500,000 payment.
Several sources on the set of the most expensive TV show ever produced say they don’t believe their concerns about safety standards are being treated seriously enough after at least two injuries requiring surgery were not proactively reported to WorkSafe.
The Weekend Herald has spoken to four workers who believe a senior stunt supervisor has created an uneasy environment which has contributed to an unsafe workplace.
However, Amazon Studios insists safety is a “top priority” and the company has fulfilled its responsibilities according to New Zealand’s workplace safety guidelines.
In March, world-class Kiwi stuntwoman Dayna Grant suffered a head injury on The Lord of the Rings set at West Auckland’s Kumeu Studios.
After undergoing scans Grant was diagnosed with an 8mm brain aneurysm and an upper spinal injury.
Grant’s head injury was not reported to WorkSafe NZ by Amazon because the company said it did not meet the threshold for reporting.
The Weekend Herald is also aware of two other stunt workers who have left the LOTR production after an injury on set, and a third who departed for mental health reasons.
WorkSafe also did not learn of a serious injury to Australian stuntwoman Elissa Cadwell in February last year until after it was reported by the Weekend Herald.
It is understood Amazon paid her about $500,000 after her injury. This payment was reportedly in part to help Cadwell get back home and settled in Australia and was not an admission of guilt by Amazon.
Amazon gave a blanket denial to The Wrap in “Amazon Says Allegations of ‘Lord of the Rings’ Series’ ‘Unsafe’ Stunt Conditions Are ‘Completely Inaccurate’” available at Yahoo! The piece, in addition, includes many details about the production of the new series.
…Amazon and production company GSR Productions’ safety protocols for “The Lord of the Rings” series include a safety team of 21 full-time and six-to-eight part-time crew members — made up of safety supervisors, medics, nurses and EMTs — to be on set, the insider tells TheWrap. Additionally, a paramedic team is brought in for activity that has a heightened level of risk, such as horse riding and fires.
Per the individual, “The Lord of the Rings” TV series produces job safety analysis reports for every location and each individual shoot day, and all activities with any higher perceived risk have additional risk analysis reports.
Any injury or suspected injury that occurs on set and is not able to be 100% diagnosed and treated on site is referred to the appropriate medical facility or transported by ambulance, the insider says. Standard operating procedure is that all head injuries, however minor, are transported to the appropriate medical facility.
Per the source, though only “notifiable” injuries are reported to WorkSafe, Amazon records all incidents and “near misses” and these reports are analyzed to look for patterns, repetition, or any similarities at all that may indicate systemic, environmental, equipment or personnel issues contributing to incidents/accidents.
“The Lord of the Rings” TV series’ safety department operates under a confidential and “no fault” system, where any crew, cast, or member of the public can report anything of concern, or any accident, knowing that their identity remains confidential to the safety department, if desired….
(12) PILGRIMAGE DELAYED. In the Washington Post, Dalvin Brown discusses the Mayflower Autonomous Ship, which left Britain on June 15 in an effort to be the first ship to cross the Atlantic without a crew but whose voyage ended after two days because of mechanical problems. “IBM’s AI robot ship encounters trouble retracing Mayflower’s historic voyage”. Registration required.
There’s also an open article at WANE: “AI-powered Mayflower, beset with glitch, returns to England”.
The Mayflower had a few false starts before its trailblazing sea voyage to America more than 400 years ago. Now, its artificial intelligence-powered namesake is having some glitches of its own.
A sleek robotic trimaran retracing the 1620 journey of the famous English vessel had to turn back Friday to fix a mechanical problem.
Nonprofit marine research organization ProMare, which worked with IBM to build the autonomous ship, said it made the decision to return to base “to investigate and fix a minor mechanical issue” but hopes to be back on the trans-Atlantic journey as soon as possible….
(13) RACING WITH THE MOON. If you’d like to hear somebody’s opinion of the best werewolf movies, YouTube’s Marvelous Videos says these are the 13 best of all time.
The true fans of horror movies will acknowledge that Werewolf movies got an undue criticism and have been looked down upon right from the start. There has been a far greater acceptance for the likes of Zombie-flicks or even Vampire movies. Even amongst filmmakers, there is a general tendency to avoid Werewolf movies as it involves a greater investment in special effects, costumes, and makeup. The overall idea of Werewolves, however, is intriguing and with the right story, these movies can strike gold. Despite being the ignored cousin amongst various horror film genres, there are some Werewolf movies that did make an impact with the audiences.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Weta Workshop Behind the scenes: Our artists at work on Thra” on YouTube.
Tea leaves tree bark, pillow stuffing, succulents… and the world of Thra. We recently showed off a Dark Crystal diorama built by our talented artists, but how exactly did they do it? Daniel Falconer, Chris Menges and Mark Dewes talk us through their process while building this stunning miniature set.
[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern with an assist from OGH.]