You can learn all about the con and the kerfuffles in Rob Hansen’s 1965: The Second UK Worldcon, the latest addition to TAFF’s library of free downloads.
The 61,500-word book, compiled from contemporaneous participants’ own words, is available in multiple electronic formats from the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they also hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund. Find it here.
Rob Hansen has compiled this history of the 1965 London Worldcon from contemporary fanzine and magazine accounts, so that once again the complex story emerges from the participants’ own words, together with Rob’s explanatory notes and commentary.
Coverage includes the fan politics and intrigue which didn’t stop with the winning of the 1965 bid for London and featured some dirty tricks; excerpts from convention publications and fanzine reports of major speeches and panels; a banquet menu including “crottled greeps”; and what would have been an epic verbal battle between John W. Campbell and Michael Moorcock if the latter hadn’t been so hungover that John Brunner had to do most of the talking.
From Rob Hansen’s Foreword
LONCON II was organised by SFCoL, the Science Fiction Club of London, the last UK Worldcon to be run by such a small group of fans. But who exactly were the members of SFCoL, what was the group all about, and why were they also known as the Scottish Fan Club of London? You’ll find answers to these and other questions in this volume, as well as discovering what Operation Andy Capp was, why there was so much drama around the drama award, which noted writer demanded whisky from inside a Dalek, and why the Rolling Stones didn’t perform at the convention.
The formidable Ella Parker was the convention chairman (yes, that was her title) and only the fourth woman to chair or co-chair one of the twenty-three Worldcons to date; the first was Julian May in 1952.
Ansible Editions David Langford is conducting an experiment this time around, at Rob’s suggestion. They are releasing the free ebook (donations to TAFF encouraged) and the trade paperback (all proceeds to TAFF) simultaneously.
Langford also draws our attention to this special point of File 770 interest: “What Rob calls the Hugo Hullabaloo resulting from the initial decision not to give a Hugo for dramatic presentation, which duly outraged Harlan Ellison. Who at one stage issued a Statement (quoted by Rob) with many numbered points including two 5) and two 11). Yes, years before Vox Day was born, Harlan invented the tradition of the First and Second Fifth….”
(1) NEXT ON BABYLON 5. “The secret Babylon 5 project is… an animated movie”. The Verge does a roundup of what is known about the project based on J. Michael Straczynski’s tweets today, plus a little bit from his Patreon page. More details are coming next week, including a release date.
Meanwhile, the Babylon 5 reimagining live action show that’s been in development remains “on hold pending WGA issues” Straczynski said on Facebook last week.
(2) FAN WINS MINN STATE LITERARY AWARD. Congratulations to Minn-Stf member Karen E. Cooper on receiving the 2023 Emilie Buchwald Award for Minnesota Nonfiction, part of the Minnesota Book Awards. Cooper’s winning book is When Minnehaha Flowed with Whiskey: A Spirited History of the Falls.
From the 1880s until at least 1912, Minnehaha Falls was a scene of surprising mayhem. The waterfall was privately owned from the 1850s through 1889, and entrepreneurs made money from hotels and concessions. Even after the area became a city park, shady operators set up at its borders and corrupt police ran “security.” Drinking, carousing, sideshows, dances that attracted unescorted women, and general rowdiness reigned—to the dismay of the neighbors. By 1900, social reformers began to redeem Minnehaha Park. During the struggle for control, the self-indulgent goings-on there became more public and harder to ignore.
(3) LIKE SAND THROUGH THE HOURGLASS. The trailer for Dune: Part Two dropped today.
“Dune: Part Two” will explore the mythic journey of Paul Atreides as he unites with Chani and the Fremen while on a warpath of revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family. Facing a choice between the love of his life and the fate of the known universe, he endeavors to prevent a terrible future only he can foresee.
(4) TONY AWARDS 2023. The 2023 Tony Award nominations are out. There are a few productions of genre interest like Into the Woods with cast members among the nominees, however the list is mostly not sff. The complete roster is at the link.
(5) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Paul Tremblay & John Langan on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
Paul Tremblay has won the Bram Stoker, British Fantasy, and Massachusetts Book awards and is the author of The Pallbearers Club, Growing Things, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, A Head Full of Ghosts, and the crime novels The Little Sleep and No Sleep Till Wonderland. His novel The Cabin at the End of the World was adapted as the major motion picture Knock at the Cabin. His essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and numerous year’s-best anthologies. He has a master’s degree in mathematics and lives outside Boston with his family.
John Langan is the author of two novels and five collections of fiction. For his work, he has received the Bram Stoker and the This Is Horror awards. He is one of the founding members of the Shirley Jackson awards, and serves on its Board of Advisors. He lives in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley with his family and worries about bears roaming the woods behind the house. His latest book is Corpsemouth and Other Autobiographies.
Where: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).
(6) THE SEX LIVES OF TRALFAMADORIANS. [Item by Steven French.] In an interesting and helpful article in Aeon, entitled “Sex Is Real” (but with the important sub-title: ‘Yes, there are just two biological sexes. No, this doesn’t mean every living thing is either one or the other’), philosopher of biology Paul Griffiths tackles the Tralfamadorians:
… imagine if there was a whole species … where three different kinds of gametes combined to make a new individual – a sperm, an egg and a third, mitochondrial gamete. This species would have three biological sexes. Something like this has actually been observed in slime moulds, an amoeba that can, but need not, get its mitochondria from a third ‘parent’. The novelist Kurt Vonnegut imagined an even more complex system in Slaughterhouse-Five (1969): ‘There were five sexes on Tralfamadore, each of them performing a step necessary in the creation of a new individual.’ But the first question a biologist would ask is: why haven’t these organisms been replaced by mutants that dispense with some of the sexes? Having even two sexes imposes many extra costs – the simplest is just finding a mate – and these costs increase as the number of sexes required for mating rises. Mutants with fewer sexes would leave more offspring and would rapidly replace the existing Tralfamadorians. Something like this likely explains why two-sex systems predominate on Earth….
(7) VECTOR NEEDS EDITORS. Jo Lindsay Walton and Polina Levontin will be standing down as editors of the British Science Fiction Association’s magazine Vector after one more issue (#298, late 2023), and the BSFA is inviting applications for new editors: “Vector: be part of a new editorial team!”
(8) MEMORY LANE.
2011 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Let’s talk about David Langford for a minute. Y’all know this wonderful individual already, so I need not go into depth on who he is, though I’d be very remiss not to mention that he has the most Hugo Awards in hand with twenty-nine so far.
Many of those came about from his work as a fan journalist on his essential-reading Ansible newsletter which he has described as The SF Private Eye. The name Ansible you likely know is taken from Le Guin’s communication device.
That he borrowed the name from a fictional device is a fact that lends itself to the lead-in for the Beginning excerpted in this Scroll. It’s from Langford’s story in Fables from the Fountain, edited by Iain Whates, a collection which paid homage to Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales from The White Hart.
Fables from the Fountain centers on The Fountain, a traditional London pub situated in Holborn, sited just off Chancery Lane, where Michael, our landlord, serves only superb ales, ably assisted by barmaids Sally and Bogna. It is a place where a group of friends – scientists, writers and, yes, genre fans — meet regularly on a Tuesday night to tell true stories, and some well, maybe not so true.
Our story, “The Pocklington Poltergeist”, was published by NewCon Press as part of this collection twelve years ago. Dean Harkness did the cover art.
They are, I must say, quite fun tales that keep nicely in the spirit of Clarke’s own. Available at the usual suspects, or in a more traditional paper edition.
And let’s us step into The Fountain for our Beginning…
A buzz of expectation could be felt in the back bar of the Fountain that Tuesday evening, and Michael the landlord hoped aloud that this didn’t mean funny business. No one needed to be told what he meant. The previous meeting had gone with a bang, not to mention a repeated flash, crackle and puff of purple vapour when anyone stepped in the wrong place. Whatever that noisy stuff was, it got on your shoes and followed you even into the sanctuary of the toilet.
“Nitrogen tri-iodide,” said Dalton reminiscently. “Contact explosive. A venerable student tradition. It’s amazing how each new year discovers the formula, as though it were a programmed instinct.”
“They read science fiction,” Ploom suggested. “Robert Heinlein gives a fairly detailed recipe in Farnham’s Freehold.”
“Not his best,” said Dalton. “And not the best procedure either. Solid iodine crystals are far, far more effective than the usual alcoholic solution. I speak purely theoretically, of course.”
At the bar, Professor Mackintosh made reassuring noises. “The only upheaval we’re expecting is a celebrity visitor, Michael. A demi-celebrity, at any rate. Have you heard of Dagon Smythe “the psychic investigator – a real-life Carnacki the Ghost-Finder? Colin Wilson wrote a whole book about him once.”
Next to the Professor, Dr Steve spluttered something into his beer. It could have been: “That charlatan.”
“Now, now,” murmured Mackintosh. “Guests are always received politely. We even managed to be civil to Uri Geller.”
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 3, 1896 — Dodie Smith. English children’s novelist and playwright, best remembered for The Hundred and One Dalmatians which of course became the animated film of the same name and thirty years later was remade by Disney as a live action film. (Saw the first a long time ago, never saw the latter.) Though The Starlight Barking, the sequel, was optioned, by Disney, neither sequel film (101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure and 102 Dalmatians) is based on it. Elizabeth Hand in her review column in F&SF praised it as one of the very best fantasies (“… Dodie Smith’s sophisticated canine society in The Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Starlight Barking…”) she read. (Died 1990.)
Born May 3, 1928 — Jeanne Bal. Ebony In Trek’s “The Man Trap” episode, she played Nancy Crater, a former lover of Leonard McCoy, who would be a victim of the lethal shape-shifting alien which craves salt. This was the series’ first-aired episode that replaced “The Cage” which the Network really didn’t like. She also had one-offs in Thriller and I-Spy. (Died 1996.)
Born May 3, 1939 — Dennis O’Neil. Writer and editor, mostly for Marvel Comics and DC Comics from the Sixties through the Nineties, and was the Group Editor for the Batman family of titles until his retirement which makes him there when Ed Brubaker’s amazing Gotham Central came out. He himself has written Wonder Woman and Green Arrow in both cases introducing some rather controversial storytelling ideas. He also did a rather brilliant DC Comics Shadow series with Michael Kaluta as the artist. (Died 2020.)
Born May 3, 1949 — Ron Canada, 74. He’s one of those actors who manages to show up across the Trek verse, in this case on episodes of Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager. He also showed up in the David Hasselhoff vanity project Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD as Gabe Jones, and had further one-offs on The X-Files, Star Gate SG-1, Elementary, Grimm and The Strain. He had a recurring role on the now canceled Orville series as Admiral Tucker.
Born May 3, 1958 — Bill Sienkiewicz, 65. Comic artist especially known for his work for Marvel Comics’ Elektra, Moon Knight and New Mutants. His work on the Elektra: Assassin! six-issue series which written by Frank Miller is stellar. Finally his work with Andy Helfer on The Shadow series is superb.
Born May 3, 1965 — Michael Marshall Smith, 58. His first published story, “The Man Who Drew Cats”, won the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story. Not stopping there, His first novel, Only Forward, won the August Derleth Award for Best Novel and the Philip K. Dick Award. He has six British Fantasy Awards in total, very impressive indeed.
Born May 3, 1969 — Daryl Mallett, 54. By now you know that I’ve a deep fascination with the nonfiction documentation of our community. This author has done a number of works doing just that including several I’d love to see including Reginald’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards: A Comprehensive Guide to the Awards and Their Winners written with Robert Reginald. He’s also written some short fiction including one story with Forrest J Ackerman that bears the charming title of “A Typical Terran’s Thought When Spoken to by an Alien from the Planet Quarn in Its Native Language“. He’s even been an actor as well appearing in several Next Gen episodes (“Encounter at Farpoint” and “Hide and Q”) and The Undiscovered Country as well, all uncredited. He also appeared in Doctor Who and The Legends Of Time, a fan film which you can see here if you wish to.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Frazz – is built around a culture wars malaprop. (Or at least a misunderstanding.)
Jim Lee, the superstar artist-turned-publisher of DC, has added the title president to his growing list of executive designations.
Lee, re-upping his deal with DC, has been promoted to president as well as publisher and CCO of the comic book company, which is part of Warner Bros. Discovery.
The executive will continue to report to Pam Lifford, president of global brands, franchises and experiences at Warner Bros. Discovery, who announced the promotion Wednesday.
Lee, per the company, will continue in his primary role as publisher at DC, where he leads the creative teams. He will also continue to lead the creative efforts to integrate DC’s publishing portfolio of characters and stories across all media, supporting the brands and studios of WBD…
Spider Robinson’s 1983 Hugo-winning short story “Melancholy Elephants” is about a woman fighting a bill in congress which would extend copyright into perpetuity, because it would ultimately stifle humanity’s artistic creativity. (“Senator, if I try to hoard the fruits of my husband’s genius, I may cripple my race.”)
The Post article talks about musician Ed Sheeran currently being sued by a songwriter’s estate which claims that “a similar but not identical chord progression used by both songs as a principal motif” is copyrighted. The author says the effects of the estate winning would be horrible: “If artists must pay a tax for employing the most common modes and tones of composition, the process of grinding popular music down to a consensus-driven pay window for tech entrepreneurs and corporate opportunists will have reached its apotheosis.”
For the first time, scientists have caught a star in the act of swallowing a planet – not just a nibble or bite, but one big gulp.
Astronomers on Wednesday reported their observations of what appeared to be a gas giant around the size of Jupiter or bigger being eaten by its star. The sun-like star had been puffing up with old age for eons and finally got so big that it engulfed the close-orbiting planet.
It’s a gloomy preview of what will happen to Earth when our sun morphs into a red giant and gobbles the four inner planets.
“If it’s any consolation, this will happen in about 5 billion years,” said co-author Morgan MacLeod of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics….
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Jeanne Gomoll and Scott Custis replaced their garage floor/slab with new concrete. But before that could happen, workers had to lift up the garage and move it out of the way. This timelapse video of their project is quite something.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, N., Steven French, Jo Lindsay Walton, Dan Bloch, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]
(1) MORE CLASSIC WALT WILLIS. In time for Corflu Craic, David Langford has added The Harp Stateside by Walt Willis to the roster of free downloads at the Unofficial Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund site. If you enjoy it, a donation to TAFF is a fine way to express your appreciation. Available in several electronic formats.
This is Walt Willis’s classic account of his fandom-funded trip to Chicon II, the 1952 World SF Convention, his adventures there, and his subsequent travels in the USA. A shorter version – the first-published segment, taking Walt from home in Northern Ireland to the end of Chicon II – was published here in 2017 as The Harp at Chicon. Walt revised and substantially expanded this version, adding preliminary material, making internal changes and following up with many further chapters about his US travels after Chicon II: the result was The Harp Stateside, published in 1957. (The early version remains available as a TAFF ebook for anyone who might want to compare the texts.) The Harp Stateside is now available online at Fanac.org as part of the huge Willis collection Warhoon #28 and has been formatted for this edition by David Langford. A fragment of text missing from Warhoon has been restored, along with some 1952-1953 extras not included in past collected editions – among them a full transcript of our man’s (happily preserved) speech in a Chicon II debate on the value of fandom.
First published as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site in March 2023. Cover artwork by Atom (Arthur Thomson) for the 1957 edition. Over 55,000 words.
(2) THIS JOB IS NOT THAT EASY. Charlie Jane Anders tells readers “Writing Comic Books is HARD. Here’s Why” in her latest Happy Dancing newsletter. It includes lots of examples of artwork from Anders’ forthcoming Lethal Legion #1.
… So I started writing comics in earnest after I’d already been writing for television, which is another visual medium. But I still found that comics scripts have their own unique challenges, to do with the fact that there is an artist (or artists) who is/are interpreting your work, and you have to work closely with the art team to make sure your story is legible and entertaining.
A script for a TV episode or movie can include some pretty simple stage directions, which the director and actors can figure out how best to stage. (I’ve definitely included some fancy business in a TV script, and I’ve read some scripts that get pretty detailed about imagery. But oftentimes, the actors and directors will have a lot of say about the details of the staging and visuals.)
But when it comes to a comic script, you really have to think about every single panel and what’s important for the reader to see and understand, and how the action needs to flow. These days, in my scripts, I usually specify what element needs to be in the foreground of the image and what element needs to be in the background of the image, and wish pieces of visual information are really important for the reader to notice….
Our event previously announced for Tuesday, March 14, will now take place on Wednesday, March 15.
From Pulp Era pioneers to the radical innovators of the 1960s and ’70s, visionary women writers have been a transformative force in American science fiction. For Women’s History Month, acclaimed SF authors Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Pamela Sargent, and Sheree Renée Thomas join Lisa Yaszek, editor of LOA’s The Future Is Female!, for a conversation about the writers who smashed the genre’s gender barrier to create worlds and works that remain revolutionary.
…Interzone has always been impressively illustrated and designed, and the new publisher proudly carries on that tradition. The issue is fully illustrated, in color, and the layout is as crisp and readable as always (if the print is sometimes a little small for my aging eyes).
The interior art doesn’t reach the standard set by Andy Cox — but that was a very high bar indeed, as Interzone routinely had the finest interior art on the market (Gardner Dozois called it the “handsomest SF magazine in the business”)….
In 1995, Octavia E Butler became the first author to receive a MacArthur “genius” award for science fiction writing.
From a young age she dreamed of writing books but faced many challenges including poverty and sexism and racism in the publishing industry.
She died aged 58 in 2006. Alex Collins speaks to her friend and fellow author Nisi Shawl.
(6) EVE HARVEY (1951-2023). British conrunner and fanzine fan Eve Harvey died yesterday on her 72nd birthday, apparently of a heart attack.
She discovered fandom in 1973, became a founding member of the Leeds University SF Society, was active in the British Science Fiction Association in the late 70s and early 80s and edited some issues of the group’s publicatons Matrix and Vector. As a conrunner she was Secretary for the 1979 Worldcon, Seacon, chaired Channelcon (Eastercon 33) in 1982 ran Rubicon, a late-summer relaxicon, and was one of the organizers of Precursor.
She was married to fellow fan John Harvey. Their publications included the fanzine Wallbanger (1978-1997).
She was the GUFF winner in 1985, and was named Past President of FWA at the 2002 Corflu.
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1979 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Let’s talk about chirpsithtras. Well, without giving away spoilers which I hope you’ve noticed by now is something I do not do here in these Beginnings.
Larry Niven’s “The Schumann Computer” was first published in the most excellent Destinies in the January-February 1979 edition. (I love that magazine, all eleven issues.)
I wasn’t at all fond of anything that Niven wrote for longer work after the Seventies for the most part but he continued to write really great short fiction of which these and related stories would be collected in The Draco Tavern.
Ok, you know I generally like genre bar stories such as The Tales from The White Hart and these are great examples of the type. The barkeep is fully realized, the bar is one of the few truly SF ones ever done and the stories with the aliens perfectly described are truly fascinating.
Now let’s have our Beginning of the Draco Tavern…
Either the chirpsithtra are the ancient and present rulers of all the stars in the galaxy, or they are very great braggarts. It is difficult to refute what they say about themselves. We came to the stars in ships designed for us by chirpsithtra, and wherever we have gone the chirpsithtra have been powerful.
But they are not conquerors—not of Earth, anyway; they prefer the red dwarf suns—and they appear to like the company of other species. In a mellow mood a chirpsithtra will answer. Any question, at length. An intelligent question can make a man a millionaire. A stupid question can cost several fortunes. Sometimes only the chirpsithtra can tell which is which.
I asked a question once, and grew rich.
Afterward I built the Draco Tavern at Mount Forel Spaceport. I served chirpsithtra at no charge. The place paid for itself, because humans who like chirpsithtra company will pay more for their drinks. The electric current that gets a chirpsithtra bombed costs almost nothing, though the current delivery systems were expensive and took some fiddling before I got them working right.
I gave you two options for the image. The first is the original publication; the other is obviously the collection of the stories.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 6, 1917 — Will Eisner. He was one of the first cartoonists to work in the comic book industry, and The Spirit running from the early Forties to the early Fifties was noted for both its exceptional content and form. The Eisner Awards are named in his honor, given to recognize exceptional achievements each year in the medium. He was one of the first three inductees to the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame. Though I wouldn’t call A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories genre, I do strongly recommend it. (Died 2005.)
Born March 6, 1918 — Marjii Ellers. Longtime L.A. fan who was active in the LASFS. Her offices in the LASFS included Registrar and Scribe. She was known for her costumes at cons. Indeed, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990 from the International Costumers’ Guild. An avid fanzine publisher and writer, some of the fanzines she edited were Masqueraders’ Guide, More Lives Than One, Nexterday, One Equal Temper, Thousands of Thursdays, and Judges’ Guide. (Died 1999.)
Born March 6, 1928 — William F. Nolan. Author of the long running Logan’s Run series (only the first was written with George Clayton Johnson). He started out in fandom in the Fifties publishing several zines including one dedicated to Bradbury. In May 2014, Nolan was presented with another Bram Stoker Award, for Superior Achievement in Nonfiction; this was for his collection about his late friend Ray Bradbury, called Nolan on Bradbury: Sixty Years of Writing about the Master of Science Fiction. He’s done far too much writing-wise for me to sum it him up. He was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 2021.)
Born March 6, 1937 — Edward L. Ferman, 86. He’s known best as the editor of F&SF from 1966 to 1991 when he won multiple Hugos. He was also recognized by a special World Fantasy Award for professional work in 1979 and by the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1998. He was inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2009. I discovered that in 1969 and 1970 he was also the editor of F&SF‘s sister publication Venture Science Fiction Magazine.
Born March 6, 1941 — Dorothy Hoobler, 82. Author with her husband, Thomas Hoobler, of the Samurai Detective series which is at least genre adjacent. More interestingly, they wrote a biography of Mary Shelley and her family called The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein which sounds absolutely fascinating. Note to ISFDB: no, it’s not a novel. Kindle has everything by them, alas Apple Books has only the biography.
Born March 6, 1942 — Christina Scull, 81. Tolkien researcher who’s married to fellow Tolkienist Wayne Hammond, with whom she’s co-authored all of her books. Their first book was J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator and I’ll single out just The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide and The Art of The Lord of the Rings as being worth your time to seek out.
Born March 6, 1957 — Ann VanderMeer, 66. Publisher and editor, and the second female editor of Weird Tales. As Fiction Editor of Weird Tales, she won a Hugo Award. In 2009 Weird Tales, edited by her and Stephen H. Segal, won a Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine. She is also the founder of The Silver Web magazine, a periodical devoted to experimental and avant-garde fantasy literature.
Born March 6, 1972 — K J Bishop, 51. Australian writer who I really like, author of The Etched City which was nominated for the Aurelias, the International Horror Guild Award and World Fantasy while winning the Ditmar Award. Impressive. She also won the latter for Best New Talent. She’s also written a double handful of short stories, many collected in the Ditmar-winning That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Bob the Angry Flower is still scheming to join “Blake’s 7”.
While catching frogs in the postapocalyptic California countryside, a fifteen-year-old girl encounters a stranger from the city.
. . . “That stuff is bad for you. It can give you burns if you’re not used to it.” That isn’t quite right. Some people can’t get used to it, but it never burned me, not even the first time. Mr. Thompson says that means selective mutations are adapting to the new demands of the environment. Mr. Thompson thinks that just because he’s a geneticist he knows everything.
Stan leaped away from the green stuff like it was about to bite him.
(11) A PIECE OF HISTORY. Francis Hamit wrote Virtual Reality and the Exploration of Cyberspace/Book and Disk when that was the cutting-edge technology. He says, “Hard to believe it’s been 30 years since this was published. 30 months to write but ‘in print’ only 13. It was a best seller. Anyone who wants a copy, signed no less, should get in touch with me. I have a few left.” Write francishamit(at)earthlink(dot)net.
…Kashtanova posted the notification on Instagram shortly thereafter to celebrate what she saw as a legal milestone. “I tried to make a case that we do own copyright when we make something using AI,” she wrote in the caption, noting that the artwork “hadn’t been altered in any other way” by her. The top left corner, where artist and writer credits are usually placed on American comics, lists her last name first and then “Midjourney” underneath it. “My friend lawyer, gave me this idea and I decided to make a precedent,” she added.
The Copyright Office somehow learned about her assertion and started a review. Kashtanova’s lawyers responded, the office said, by arguing that she had “authored every aspect of the work, with Midjourney serving merely as an assistive tool.” As an alternative, they also argued that portions of the work could be copyrighted “because the text was authored by Ms. Kashtanova and the Work is a copyrightable compilation due to her creative selection, coordination, and arrangement of the text and images.”
In a February 21 letter, the office told them that it was choosing the latter option. It rescinded her original copyright registration and issued a narrower amended one that did not cover the Midjourney-generated artwork. Instead, it was limited to the “text” and the “selection, coordination, and arrangement of text created by the author,” explicitly excluding “artwork generated by artificial intelligence.” The ruling appears to be the first of its kind by the federal government on how copyright applies to algorithmically created artworks.
The Copyright Office appears to have gotten it right. Silicon Valley is abuzz these days with the promise and potential of artificial intelligence. A.I. chatbots have been touted as potential replacements for doctors, lawyers, musicians, and even journalists like myself. Many of these chatbots or similar “generative A.I.” programs can be quite sophisticated, including ChatGPT, which I interviewed for this article….
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Fandom Games latest “Honest Game Trailer” is about “Hi-Fi Rush”, which they say features a character with “the over-inflated ego of the child of a wannabe future Rockstar with the IQ of a musical instrument who through comical misadventures ends up with an MP3 player in his Iron Man core and discovers that he has the power to make the world move to his rhythm.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Francis Hamit, Olav Rokne, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “Sinbad” Dern.]
The Harp That Once or Twice, a collection of columns by renowned Irish fanwriter Walt Willis, has been added to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s library of free downloads. If you enjoy it, a donation to TAFF is a fine way to express your appreciation. All are available in several electronic formats.
“The Harp That Once or Twice” was Walt Willis’s famous column that ran from 1951 to 1969 in four different fanzines: Quandry, Oopsla!, Warhoon and Quark in that order, plus a final return to Warhoon. There were 44 installments, all collected here with the exception of two entire columns and a number of shorter segments within columns that formed part of the serialization of his 1952 US trip report, separately collected as the TAFF ebook The Harp Stateside.
First published as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site in March 2023. Cover artwork by Atom (Arthur Thomson) for Cry of the Nameless 164 (November 1962). 95,000 words.
From the Introduction
The harp that once through Tara’s halls The soul of music shed, Now hangs as mute on Tara’s walls As if that soul were fled. – Thomas Moore, Irish Melodies
Only the harp. Lovely. Gold glowering light. Girl touched it. Poop of a lovely. Gravy’s rather good fit for a. Golden ship. Erin. The harp that once or twice. – James Joyce, Ulysses
This ebook collects almost every instalment of Walt Willis’s legendary fanzine column “The Harp that Once or Twice”. These columns were widely appreciated for their insight into science fiction and science fiction fandom; for genially engaging humour in strong contrast with the rare intervals of deadly seriousness (such as the polemic on Heinlein and Starship Troopers in the twenty-eighth instalment); for cunningly crafted puns that sometimes didn’t detonate until a second or third reading; and for broad erudition modestly and entertainingly presented. (The learned Instalment 43, “The Rats that Ate the Railroad”, was incorporated almost unchanged into Walt’s professionally published 1969 book about his country, The Improbable Irish as by Walter Bryan.) There has been nothing quite like them in fanzines, before or since. They remain eminently readable today.
Two more classic trip reports have been added to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s library of free downloads. And if you enjoy them, a donation to TAFF is a fine way to express your appreciation. All are available in several electronic formats.
Ron Bennett was the third UK fan to win TAFF, the second actually to make the trip to the US Worldcon (Solacon in South Gate, California, 1958), and the first to publish a full-length report of his experiences: Colonial Excursion, published in 1961.
The Ansible Editions ebook was prepared for the TAFF site with the kind permission of Ron’s son Andrew Bennett and released on 1 March 2023. 48,000 words. Cover photograph of Ron Bennett by Terry Jeeves, taken at the 1957 UK Eastercon.
Though Walt Willis is better known for his accounts of US conventions and travels in The Harp Stateside and Twice Upon a Time (included in TAWF Times Two), he also reported extensively on British cons. The Harp in England collects all seven of these reports – from the long and controversial account of the 1951 Festivention, through other 1950s events culminating in a mosaic of pieces for various fanzines on the first London Worldcon in 1957, and finally his return after a long absence from fandom to experience the infamous 1976 Eastercon.
First published as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 1 March 2023. Cover artwork by Atom (Arthur Thomson) from the front cover of Hyphen 14, June 1955. Close on 34,000 words.
(1) FUND FOR PETER DAVID. A GoFundMe has been started on behalf of writer Peter David, who has many health problems and faces mounting bills. “Peter David Fund”.
I’m fundraising for author Peter David and his family. He’s had some compounded health problems, and the bills are piling up! On top of kidney failure, and the steep medical bills incurred from that, he just had another series of strokes AND a mild heart attack.
As we wish him a swift recovery, and send our love and support to his wife Kathleen and his family, let’s also pitch in and help with their medical bills and living expenses.
Please give what you can to relieve some of the immense stress that this family is going through right now.
On behalf of Peter, Kathleen, and the whole family, thank you!
The appeal had brought in $51,725 from 1100+ donors at the time this was written.
The past few months have been among the most tumultuous in Arisia’s long history. After the loss of our conchair Jodie Lawhorne, two people stepped up to complete his work. In late October we learned about a serious incident involving one of our volunteers that was reported but never written down many years ago. The individual was put through our current more robust incident response protocol and was subsequently banned from all future participation in Arisia. We also learned that the acting con chairs had had knowledge of this and despite that, had consulted with this individual about volunteering for Arisia 2023. Between that information, and increasing levels of unrelated personal stress on those acting con chairs, it was determined that it was best for all parties for them to step down. Where that left us was 7 weeks out from a convention with no one in charge. I reached out to the e-board and offered to fill in the gap.
So hi, my name is Melissa Kaplan and I’ll be your acting con chair for the next 6.5 weeks….
(3) WILLIS X 2. Dave Langford and Rob Hansen have assembled TAWF Times Two: The 1962 Trip Reportsby Walt and Madeleine Willis into a book and made it available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please.
The Tenth Anniversary Willis Fund (TAWF) was organized to bring Walt Willis – this time with his wife Madeleine – to the 1962 Chicago Worldcon, ten years after the fan initiative that brought Walt alone to the 1952 Worldcon also held in Chicago. Both wrote trip reports: Walt’s was serialized in various fanzines and eventually collected as Twice Upon a Time in the monumental Warhoon #28 (1980) edited by Richard Bergeron. Madeleine’s instalments of The DisTAWF Side appeared in The SpeleoBem edited by Bruce Pelz, and have never until now been collected.
For this ebook, Rob Hansen has digitized Madeleine’s chapters, expanded them with comments and corrections from others (plus an unpublished letter from Walt and another from Madeleine) and written a new Foreword covering both reports. David Langford had the easier task of extracting Twice Upon a Time from Warhoon #28, unscrambling dates, correcting typos and restoring a fragment of lost text. Scans of all the original fanzine appearances at Fanac.org were a great help to both of us.
Released as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 1 December 2022. Cover photo of the Willises in 1957 from the collection of Norman Shorrock, probably taken by Peter West. Over 87,000 words.
When a Broadway show closes, the next stop for the hundreds of costumes, setpieces and props is often … the dumpster.
“The producers often stop paying rent in a storage unit somewhere, which is heartbreaking,” said Julie Boardman, one of the founders of the Museum of Broadway, which opened in Times Square this month.
Boardman, 40, a Broadway producer whose shows include “Funny Girl” and “Company,” and Diane Nicoletti, the founder of a marketing agency, are looking to reroute those items to their museum, a dream five years in the making.
“We see it as an experiential, interactive museum that tells the story of Broadway through costumes, props and artifacts,” Nicoletti, 40, said of the four-floor, 26,000-square-foot space on West 45th Street, next to the Lyceum Theater….
‘Phantom of the Opera’ Chandelier Installation
Each of the 13,917 glistening crystals in this piece, which were fashioned by the German artist Ulli Böhmelmann into hanging strands, is meant to represent one performance the Broadway production of “The Phantom of the Opera” will have played from its opening on Jan. 26, 1988, through its closing night performance. Though the final show was originally set for Feb. 18, 2023, the production announced Tuesday that it had been pushed to April 16 amid strong ticket sales (Böhmelmann plans to add the necessary crystals).
‘Avenue Q’ Puppets
In the early days of the 2003 Broadway production of the puppet-filled musical comedy “Avenue Q,” the show’s low budget meant the puppeteers had to put their charges through quick changes. The show initially had only three Princeton puppets — but he had eight costumes — meaning the puppets took a beating from changing clothes multiple times eight shows a week. “Eventually, they had a puppet for every costume,” McDonald said.
Gershwin Theater Set Model
This scale model, which is just over five feet wide, was designed by Edward Pierce, the associate scenic designer of the original Broadway production of “Wicked,” and took four people seven weeks to build. It includes more than 300 individual characters — and another 300 seated audience members in the auditorium. (See if you can find the Easter egg: a small model of the set model, with the designers — who look like the actual designers — showing the director a future design for “Wicked.”)
The world’s first literature is speculative poetry.
We told each other stories and encoded them in the form of verse. The earliest written literature is poetry – The Story of Gilgamesh, The Iliad and Odyssey, The Ramayana and Mahabharata, Beowulf and other npoem myths, verse histories and tellings in cultures across and around the world.
I had an epiphany about speculative poetry.
It was there from the start, in my womb and my heart….
(6) PROBABLY AN ANNIVERSARY. “Hitchhiker’s at 42” and 3 Quarks Daily is celebrating. Because something to do with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy happened forty-two years ago. Didn’t it?
… To document the broader cultural impact of Hitchhiker’s, we’ve asked a number of public figures in science, the arts, the humanities, and government to reflect on how the book changed their own understanding of life, the universe, and everything.
“The Hitchhiker series taught me to laugh at the absurd, to mock self-proclaimed genius, to put off searching for the meaning of life in favor of play, and to oppose time travel on the ground that proper tense usage would become too difficult. It also prepared me to understand that some Albany politicians are like Vogons, insofar as neither are above corruption in the same way that the ocean is not above the sky. And it made 42 my favorite number.” –Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and host of Stay Tuned and Doing Justice…
(7) FREE READ. Congratulations to Cora Buhlert, who has a new short story “Legacy of Steel” in the November 2022 issue of Swords and Sorcery Magazine. The other stories in the issue are “Sun in Shadow” by Sandra Unerman and “You Stand Before the Black Tower” by Nathaniel Webb.
…I have had some new arrivals recently, including at long last King Randor, which opens up a lot of possibilities for stories involving the royal family of Eternia.
One thing that is remarkably consistent over all versions of Masters of the Universe from the early mini-comics via the Filmation cartoon of the 1980s, the 2002 cartoon, the various comics, Masters of the Universe: Revelation all the way to the Netflix CGI show is that Prince Adam has a strained relationship with his father King Randor. Cause Randor always finds something to criticise about his son and heir. Adam is too lazy, too irresponsible, not princely enough, not interested enough in affairs of state, not heroic enough, too foolhardy and he also missed dinner or an official reception, because he was off saving Eternia….
…While stretching my hands into claws, I hunt my memory. Have I ever felt talons grow from my fingertips? Do I know the twinge of lupine hair breaking my burning, blossoming skin? How does the paradigm of meaning-making shift when I find I can smell more keenly than I can see? In all these years, have I come closer to knowing?
You might suggest I use writing to account for these questions. Documenting my thoughts about them in a field journal—“May 26: I think I smelled a pig at one mile today.” Nope. I’ve no werewolf archive. There are a few poems, sure; yet they skin the lycanthrope to cover and do some other thing. Those poems, they are not telling you what I am telling you: that I have meant to be a werewolf, and that this has been, I’m afraid, a quiet, lifelong ambition, a discipline I’ve maintained longer and to less purpose, it would seem, than nearly all else….
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1998 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Hobbit holes (New Zealand)
Stop me before this gets novella length!
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort. — The Hobbit
Only one of the movie sets in New Zealand survives and charmingly enough it’s the village where the hobbits resided. It was used for both trilogies and quite unsurprisingly is now a place with guided tours being offered every day.
Jackson spotted it during a search by air for suitable locations using one of his airplanes, or so the story is now told, and thought it looked like a slice of England. Furthermore Alan Lee commented to him that the location’s terrain “looked as though Hobbits had already begun excavations” there.
It became Hobbiton and the Shire with the facades of quite a few hobbit holes and associated gardens, a double arch bridge, hedges, and a mill. They erected an immense oak above Bag End that had been growing nearby and which was cut down and recreated in fibreglass on site complete with artificial leaves.
When I mean facades, I really mean just that. It’s not possible to go inside the as there is nothing inside them, just retaining walls and beyond that dirt. I’m guessing that the site is going to need expensive ongoing maintenance if it is going to survive long term.
Bag End is the exception as they designed it so a little bit of interior has been designed to seen and the door will open so you can peek in.
About those hobbit holes. No, the interior scenes for Bag End weren’t not shot here. (Of course they’d make lousy film sets, wouldn’t they? You can’t get cameras in there.) The interior of Bag End was shot in a studio in Wellington. Ok, there are actually two Bag Ends as Ian McKelllen explains on his charming look at these:
Hobbits must appear smaller than the other characters in the film. When I, as Gandalf, meet Bilbo or Frodo at home, I bump my head on the rafters. (Tolkien didn’t think to mention it!) So there is a small Bag End set with small props to match.
As Ian Holm and Elijah Wood would be too big within it, they have “scale doubles” who are of a matching size with the scenery and its miniature furniture. In the small set Bilbo and Frodo are played by Kiran Shah (Legend) who is in hobbit proportion to my Gandalf.
And of course there has to be a big Bag End, where the scale is human-sized and all the objects of the small set are duplicated but bigger. There the “hero actors” can play the hobbits but the camera expects a gigantic Gandalf and gets him in Paul Webster (a 7’4″ Wellingtonian) who substitutes for me.
So we’ve got a village full of hobbit hole facades that all look very charming as you can see here and you’ve got the rather amazing effect of creating the illusion of a hobbit hole interior that we can all think is real. I certainly did when I watched the first Hobbit film. I may not have cared for the film itself, but oh my the scenery and the depiction of Bag End was stellar!
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 30, 1835 — Mark Twain. It’s been decades since I read it but I still know I loved A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. His other genre work is The Mysterious Stranger in which Satan might be visiting us went unpublished in his lifetime and it’s only relatively recently published with the University of California Press editions of all his completed and uncompleted versions in one volume that a reader can see what he intended. (Died 1910.)
Born November 30, 1893 — E. Everett Evans. Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Member of First Fandom who started out with fan writing, but eventually became a published genre author as well. He helped to found the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) and served as its president and editor of its publication. Food for Demons was a chapbook compilation of his fantasy tales, though he was generally not considered to be a good fiction writer. Fandom’s Big Heart Award, which was founded by Forrest J Ackerman in 1959, was named for him for its first 40 years. In 2018, Bob Tucker’s fanzine Le Zombie, of which he had co-edited two issues, won a Retro Hugo Award. (Died 1958.) (JJ)
Born November 30, 1906 — John Dickson Carr. Author of the Gideon Fell detective stories, some of which were decidedly genre adjacent and The Lost Gallows is apparently genre. The Burning Court with Fell is on this list as are his vampire mythos backstoried novels, Three Coffins and He Who Whispers. And I really should note his Sir Henry Merrivale character has at one genre outing in Reader is Warned. The usual suspects have a more than decent stock of his offerings. (Died 1977.)
Born November 30, 1950 — Chris Claremont, 72. Writer in the comic realm. Best known for his astounding twenty year run on the Uncanny X-Men starting in 1976. During his tenure at Marvel, he co-created at least forty characters. Looking at his bibliography, I see that he did Sovereign Seven as a creator own series with DC publishing it. And then there’s the matter of Lucas providing the notes for The Chronicles of the Shadow War trilogy to follow the Willow film and then contracting our writer to make them exist. Anyone ever encountered these?
Born November 30, 1952 — Debra Doyle. Writer, Filker, and Fan. Her novel Knight’s Wyrd, co-written with her husband and collaborator James D. Macdonald, won a Mythopoeic Award for Children’s Literature. Most of their co-written works are fantasy, but their Mageworlds series also crosses into space opera territory. As filker Malkin Grey, she and Pergyn Wyndryder won a Pegasus Award for Best Historical Song. She was an instructor at the Viable Paradise Writer’s Workshop, and has been Guest of Honor at several conventions. (Died 2020.) (JJ)
Born November 30, 1955 — Kevin Conroy. Frell, another great one lost too soon. Without doubt, best known for voicing Batman onBatman: The Animated Series and many other DCU series. On Justice League Action, the other characters often noting his stoic personality. I’ve not seen it, but on Batwoman, he plays Bruce Wayne in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two” episode. (Died 2022.)
Born November 30, 1952 — Jill Eastlake, 70. IT Manager, Costumer, Conrunner, and Fan who is known for her elaborate and fantastical costume designs; her costume group won “Best in Show” at the 2004 Worldcon. A member of fandom for more than 50 years, she belonged to her high school’s SF club, then became an early member of NESFA, the Boston-area fan club, and served as its president for 4 years. She has served on the committees for numerous Worldcons and regional conventions, co-chaired a Costume-Con, and chaired two Boskones. She was the Hugo Award ceremony coordinator for the 1992 Worldcon, and has run the Masquerade for numerous conventions. Her extensive contributions were honored when she was named a Fellow of NESFA in 1976, and in 2011 the International Costumer’s Guild presented her with their Lifetime Achievement Award. She and her fan husband Don (who is irrationally fond of running WSFS Business Meetings) were Fan Guests of Honor at Rivercon.
Born November 30, 1957 — Martin Morse Wooster. He discovered fandom in 1974 when he heard about “a big sci-fi con” in downtown Washington where admission was $10 at the door. He had ten bucks, and so attended Discon II at 16. A year later, he discovered fanzines through Don Miller, and discovered he liked writing book reviews. He started contributing to File 770 in 1978 and continued for the rest of his life. He was one of twelve founders of the Potomac River Science Fiction Society, which split from the Washington Science Fiction Association in 1975, and regularly attends PRSFS meetings to discuss books. Lost his life to a hit-and-run driver on November 12. (Died 2022.) (JJ)
Passengers on board a United Airlines commercial jet flying over Florida’s Cape Canaveral were able to spot an amazingly rare sight in the distance: a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, far below….
Bill Mumy has worked with some of the most celebrated filmmakers in Hollywood history – but not all of his experiences were out of this world.
The former child star, who made his mark in the ‘60s series “Lost in Space,” has recently written a memoir titled “Danger, Will Robinson: The Full Mumy.” In it, he details his rise to stardom and the numerous encounters he had with TV and film icons along the way – including Alfred Hitchcock.
Mumy worked with the filmmaker in the TV series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” for the episode “Bang! You’re Dead!”. It was filmed in the summer of 1961 when Mumy was 7 years old….
Wolves infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii are far more likely to become pack leaders than uninfected wolves and are also more likely to disperse from the pack they’re born into, a study published November 24 in Communications Biology reports. The finding points to a possible connection between the infamous parasite and wolf population health.
Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a “mind control” parasite that can infect any warm-blooded animal, the paper states. The protozoan can only reproduce sexually in the guts of cats, and often spreads through contact with infected feline feces. Infection with T. gondii causes hosts to accrue permanent brain cysts and also induces toxoplasmosis, a disease that can embolden some host species, causing infected animals to seek out more situations in which they can transmit the parasite. Mice infected with T. gondiilose their fear of cat urine, for example, making them more likely to be killed and eaten by a cat, enabling the parasite to reproduce once again…
…The film, which was released in 1982, was written by Melissa Matheson, whom Ford was dating at the time. During a 2012 reunion for the film, actor Henry Thomas, who played the main character, Elliott, told Entertainment Weekly that he was just excited at the prospect of meeting Ford.
“When I met Steven, the first thing out of my mouth was I think, ‘I love Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ and my hero was Harrison Ford,” Thomas said. “I basically was just excited to meet Steven in hopes that I would meet Harrison.”
Ford eventually agreed to shoot a cameo scene with Thomas, playing an uptight school principal who would scold Elliott after the famous frog escape scene, in which Elliott would also kiss a girl in his class. Spielberg also spoke about the cameo in an interview with EW: “He did the scene where E.T. is home levitating all of the stuff for his communicator up the stairs. Elliott is in the principal’s office after the frog incident. We don’t ever see Harrison’s face. We just hear his voice, see his body.”…
(16) VIDEO OF A PREVIOUS DAY. A short clip from Futurama illustrates why, “In the end, it was not guns or bombs that defeated the aliens, but that humblest of all God’s creatures, the Tyrannosaurus Rex.”
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Standback, Rich Lynch, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rick Moen.]
(1) DISNEYLAND ORIGINALS FOR SALE. Heritage Auctions’ catalog for “Disneyland: The Auction” includes an impressive assortment of retired equipment from the park, in addition to all the other collectibles. Coming up for bid on May 21-22 will be things of this nature –
(2) IN TIMES OF COVID. Norwescon 44 was held in Sea-Tac, WA from April 14-17. A week afterwards the committee published Norwescon 44 Post-Con COVID Report 1 dealing with cases they’d been informed about as of April 25. This case is receiving vocal attention in the comments:
Case 3: Reported on Friday, April 22. Started experiencing symptoms on Tuesday, April 12 (two days pre-con), tested positive on Friday, April 15, and stayed at the convention through Sunday, April 17. Was present throughout the convention, particularly the space-focused panels, and had dinner at Denny’s on Friday. Reported case to the Health Department and did not have exposure notification tracking active.
(3) CON OR BUST BEING REVIVED. The Flights of Foundry Opening Ceremonies video included an announcement by Alex Jennings and Brandon O’Brien about the return of the Con-or-Bust project in partnership with Dream Foundry.
[Brandon O’Brien:] As people of color we know how difficult it can be to access creative spaces like conventions. Travel, registration and other related expenses can be difficult to muster for a lot of reasons. When I attended my first convention it was only because there was a project that was generous enough to see people like me share space with my colleagues and fellow fans without it I would not have had the networking opportunities, the community, or even the will to participate in our field to this day and i am still deeply grateful for that generosity that project was Con-or-Bust….
Kate Nepveu has worked hard to make sure it can continue even in her absence.
[Alex Jennings:] Following the example she set we’re excited to share with you that we’ll be working with Dream Foundry to revive and expand Con-or-Bust. This project will help make cons, writing retreats, and other opportunities available to writers and fans of color…
Brandon O’Brien said he will be serving on the Dream Foundry board in an oversight capacity and be running the project. They’re working on the details and will have more updates soon.
We’re about to do a little time traveling, you and I. That’s because I worked for both Marvel and DC Comics from the mid-’70s through the early ’80s, and my guest this episode is Alex Segura, a writer whose latest novel, Secret Identity, is a noir murder mystery set during the mid-‘70s comics industry I lived through.
Segura seems like the perfect person to tackle that particular overlapping Venn diagram of genres. He’s written murder mysteries before — including five novels in the Pete Fernandez series, beginning with Bad Beat in 2016 and concluding with Miami Midnight in 2019, plus the six-part Lethal Lit: A Tig Torres Mystery podcast series. He’s also worked for Archie Comics and DC Comics, and is currently the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Oni Press.
Some of his more well-known comics work includes his Archie Meets Kiss arc — he also had the gang meet the Ramones and the B-52s — plus his “Occupy Riverdale” story. His Black Ghost miniseries was named one of the five new comic book series for the end of summer by the New York Times. He also supplied an origin story for everybody’s favorite new Star Wars character in the novel Poe Dameron: Freefall.
In a better world, I’ve have been able to make a day trip to NY so we could have an in-person conversation, but that’s not the world in which we live at the monent, so he grabbed Chinese food at Taystee Garden in Kew Gardens, Queens, I did the same from Evergreen Chinese Restaurant in Inwood, West Virginia, and we chatted with several hundred miles between us.
(5) PORTAL STORY. “I think this new Amazon series is sf,” writes Martin Morse Wooster. I think so too! Night Sky arrives on Prime Video May 20.
(6) NEW BUHLERT FICTION. Congratulations to Cora Buhlert who has a flash story in Wyngraf Magazine of Cozy Fantasy: “A Cry on the Battlefield”.
Cora also shared the link to the other flash story Wnygraf posted today, “The God’s Apology” by Ian Martínez Cassmeyer, which she says is also well worth reading.
(7) FIVESOOTH! The Royal Shakespeare Company is staging My Neighbour Totoro from October 8, 2022 – 21 January 2023 at the Barbican.
In this video, Executive Producer Joe Hisaishi, Director Phelim McDermott and members of the creative team for My Neighbour Totoro, discuss the creative process behind the landmark adaptation of Studio Ghibli’s celebrated 1988 animated feature film to the stage, in collaboration with Improbable and Nippon TV.
…The writer who changed my mind It wasn’t until I was 22 that I realised I could stop dreaming of being a writer and instead be a writer. It was Harlan Ellison’s fault, from his introduction to a short story called Count the Clock that Tells the Time, in a collection called Shatterday. He wrote about wasting time, how you look around and time’s gone. It plugged straight into everything I had ever thought or dreamed about becoming a writer and in that moment I was determined to become a writer. I thought better to try and fail than not to try and let the time blow past.
The book that made me want to be a writer I don’t recall there being a time that I ever didn’t want to be a writer, but CS Lewis and his Narnia books definitely made me realise that these stories I loved were being written by a person. Lewis wasn’t pretending to be invisible, he was very happily there in the text, making these lovely friendly asides to the reader. I loved that so much, and loved the idea of doing it too….
(9) WHEN WORDS FAIL. Sandra M. Odell cautions against being “More Writerly Than Thou” at the SFWA Blog. Her successful book set off a long struggle to resume writing again. While telling what helped her she advises:
… Before you encourage someone to write faster, better, more successfully, ask yourself if that’s what you mean to say. More importantly, ask if that’s what they need to hear…
(10) NEAL ADAMS (1941-2022). Famed comic artist Neal Adams died April 29 at the age of 80. The Hollywood Reporter paid tribute:
Adams jolted the world of comic books in the late 1960s and early ’70s with his toned and sinewy take on heroes, first at DC with a character named Deadman, then at Marvel with X-Men and The Avengers and then with his most lasting influence, Batman.
During his Batman run, Adams and writer Dennis O’Neil brought a revolutionary change to the hero and the comics, delivering realism, kineticism and a sense of menace to their storytelling in the wake of the campy Adam West-starring ’60s ABC series and years of the hero being aimed at kiddie readers.
… “It was no secret that we were doing Batman right,” Adams said during a panel at San Diego Comic-Con in 2010. “It was as if the memory of DC Comics went along with the statements that both Denny and I were making, that we want it to be more realistic, more gritty. And that’s how we remember — whether it was true or not — that Batman should be. And when we did it, everybody went, ‘Ah, that’s it. We don’t need comedy anymore.’”
Adams, also with O’Neil, came up with a then-controversial turn for Green Lantern/Green Arrow, tackling social issues such as drug addiction, racism and overpopulation and creating the Green Lantern hero, Jon Stewart, who became one of DC’s first Black icons. Their 1971 two-part story “Snowbirds Don’t Fly” remains a watermark in the evolution to more mature readers….
…He helped change the practice of comic book publishers keeping the original art by artists or even shredding and tossing it, influencing companies to establish policies of returning the art, something that allowed artists to enjoy a second income stream. The biggest case in point: Marvel returned pages of art to Jack Kirby, the co-creator of Fantastic Four, Thor, X-Men and Hulk.
He also proved to be a champion of two writer-artists who laid the foundation for DC, Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster… [He] led a lobbying effort that eventually led to greater recognition for the pair, a creator tag in comics and other media that continues to this day, plus a pension….
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1981 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-one years ago on this evening, The Greatest American Hero series served up the ever so sweet and rather nostalgic “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”. It starts off with Ralph quitting twice after perceiving that he has failed badly.
Meanwhile one of the secondary characters tells Ralph that her friend wants to go to an appearance by John Hart, the actor who played the second version of the Lone Ranger. Ralph is excited because Hart is his childhood hero. Why am I not surprised?
Later in the episode, Ralph and Hart get to have a talk and Ralph realizes that society needs its heroes and decide to wear the suit again.
I watched a lot of the Lone Ranger when I was rather young and never realized that there were two actors in that role. And no, I never figured out the deal with the silver bullets. Obviously that version of the Old West didn’t have werewolves.
And yes, it was very, very sweet to see one of the Lone Rangers sort of playing his role again. If only as a mentor.
The Greatest American Hero series is streaming currently on Peacock.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 29, 1887 — H. Bedford-Jones. Pulp writer of whom only maybe ten percent of his twelve hundred stories could be considered genre but some such as the Jack Solomon novels, say John Solomon, Argonaut and John Solomon’s Biggest Game are definitely genre. Like many of the early pulp writers, he used a number of pen names, to wit Michael Gallister, Allan Hawkwood, Gordon Keyne, H. E. Twinells and L. B. Williams. In 2006, Wildside Press published a collection of his short stories, The House of Skulls and Other Tales from the Pulps. (Died 1949.)
Born April 29, 1908 — Jack Williamson. By the end of his long career in sff he had won eight lifetime achievement / grand master honors, and been inducted to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. I’ll frankly admit that he’s one of those authors that I know I’ve read a fair amount by can’t really recall any specific titles as I didn’t collect him either in hard copy or digitally. A quick bit of research suggests the Legion of Space series was what I liked best when I was reading him. Aussiecon Two awarded him a Hugo for Wonder’s Child: My Life in Science Fiction (1985), and Millennium Philcon saw him get one for his “Ultimate Earth” novella (2000), which also won the Nebula. (Died 2006.)
Born April 29, 1923 — Irvin Kershner. Director and producer of such genre works as the Amazing Stories and seaQuest DSV series, Never Say Never Again, RoboCop 2 and The Empire Strikes Back. By the way, several of the sources I used in compiling this Birthday claimed that was the best Star Wars film. (Died 2010.)
Born April 29, 1943 — Russell M. Griffin. Author of but four novels as he died far too young of a heart attack. The Makeshift God was his first novel, I remember that novel as being a rather excellent dystopian affair, and Century’s End was even bleaker. He wrote but nine stories. He alas has not made into the digital realm yet. (Died 1986.)
Born April 29, 1946 — Humphrey Carpenter. Biographer whose notable output includes J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography; he also did the editing of The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, and is responsible for The Inklings: CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Charles Williams and their Friends. He also wrote the engaging Mr. Majeika children’s series which is most decidedly genre. (Died 2005.)
Born April 29, 1955 — Kate Mulgrew, 67. Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager and she’ll be voicing that role again on the animated Star Trek: Prodigy. Other genre roles include voicing Red Claw on Batman: The Animated Series, the recurring role of Jane Lattimer on Warehouse 13 and Clytemnestra in Iphigenia2.0 at the Signature Theatre Company. Finally she voiced Titania in a recurring role on Gargoyles.
Born April 29, 1958 — Michelle Pfeiffer, 64. Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. She was also in the much better The Witches of Eastwick as Sukie Ridgemont and was Brenda Landers in the “Hospital” segment of Amazon Women on the Moon. She played Laura Alden in Wolf, voiced Tsippōrāh in The Prince of Egypt, was Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, voiced Eris in Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, was Lamia in Stardust and is playing The Wasp (Janet van Dyne) in the Marvel Universe.
Born April 29, 1960 — Robert J. Sawyer, 62. Hominids won the Hugo for Best Novel at Torcon 3, and The Terminal Experiment won a Nebula as well. Completing a hat trick, he won a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Mindscan too. Very impressive. And then there’s the FlashForward series which lasted for thirteen episodes that was based on his novel of that name. Interesting series that ended far too soon.
Born April 29, 1970 — Uma Thurman, 52. Venus / Rose in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Kage’s favorite film alongside Time Bandits; review by Kage here), Maid Marian in the Robin Hood film that starred Patrick Bergin which I highly recommend, Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin which she will follow by being Emma Peel in The Avengers.
(13) TIME LORD. The May issue of David Langford’s Ansible appeared today. How can that happen? He claims, “I reversed the polarity of the neutron flow!” Today the ansible, tomorrow the sonic screwdriver!
…Written by Juno Dawson, Doctor Who: Redacted was launched alongside the Easter TV special, Legend of the Sea Devils, and has been described by the producer/director Ella Watts as “very gay, very trans”, and sitting “to the left” of the main show. The 10-part BBC Sounds audio drama follows three best mates who make “the Blue Box Files”, a paranormal conspiracy podcast about a certain police box popping up throughout history. Their tongue-in-cheek theorising suddenly gets all too real when they’re sucked into an action-packed alien adventure of their own.
The friends are university dropouts, who now live in different UK cities but stay connected via their hobby podcast. The leader of the gang (and the drama) is a trans woman, Cleo, who works as a theatre usher, lives on a south London estate and is saving up for surgery. She’s played by transgender activist Charlie Craggs, a scene-stealer in her first ever acting role, who describes her casting as “a huge step for the trans community. I’m so honoured to be part of something so sacred to so many”.
Juno Dawson always had Craggs in mind to play her protagonist. “She’s such a force,” says Dawson. “The label “trans activist” can be a club with which to beat trans people. It’s a dehumanising term, but Charlie uses her voice so cleverly – with humour and honesty. When it came to casting, I said to Ella: ‘Look, we can either audition Charlie Craggs or find a trans actor and tell her to play it like Charlie Craggs.’ There were some nerves at the BBC about hiring someone untrained but I’m so glad we stuck to our guns.”
Founder of the podcast-within-a-podcast is devoted “boxspotter” and resident believer Abby (Vigil’s Lois Chimimba), who is bisexual and a full-time carer for her sick mother in Glasgow. The lineup is completed by sceptical Shawna (Grange Hill’s Holly Quin-Ankrah), an out-and-proud lesbian studying computing at her local college in Sheffield….
(15) WORD OF THE DAY. Here’s something Jon Del Arroz had never been called before.
Remember NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft that visited the distant Bennu asteroid and scraped-up a sample in October 2020. It’s going to deliver that sample to NASA September 24, 2023 as it swings by Earth—and then it’s off on a new mission of explore a near-Earth asteroid that could one day be a “planet-killer.”
The Apophis asteroid is enormous and classed as “potentially hazardous” by NASA. Thought to be about 1,100 feet/340 meters in diameter (that’s about the same height as the Empire State Building in Manhattan in New York), Apophis will get to within just 23,000 miles/37,000 on April 13, 2029.
During that close pass it will even be visible to the naked eye as seen from some parts of Earth.
The newly-named OSIRIS-Apophis Explorer (OSIRIS-APEX) will already be in orbit of it by then. NASA announced this week that the spacecraft, having dropped off its package in 2023, will make its first maneuver toward Apophis 30 days later.
Although it will pass Earth inside the orbits of our geosynchronous satellites in 2029, Apophis won’t pose a danger this time around.
So why visit it?
Scientists suspect that the effect on it of the close pass in 2029 could be a slight alteration to its future trajectory. We know Apophis will make very close passes in 2060 and 2068. Might the 2029 event put Apophis on an “Earth-resonant impact trajectory ?”…
(17) SJW CREDENTIALS IN HISTORY. The BBC in 1973 meets Quicksilver and Quince, two cats with their own checking account who make charitable donations to cathedrals and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds!
(18) ROLL CREDITS. This is how Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episodes will begin. Here are the opening seconds of the five-year mission.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. And Wil Wheaton hosts this special preview of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, Christian Brunschen, John A Arkansawyer, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Dominey.]
“Today the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction moved house,” said co-editor David Langford. A new publisher and web server are part of the October 6 release of its Fourth Edition. However, their familiar domain sf-encyclopedia.com is unchanged, and the Encyclopedia (SFE) remains free online for all users.
When the Third (and first online) Edition was unveiled in October 2011, it was done in coordination with Orion/Gollancz, who launched the online SFE simultaneously with their SF Gateway ebook operation and arranged for many links between the sites. SFE acknowledges their invaluable support from 2011 to 2021, during which period the SFE has more than doubled in size.
But the expiration of their Orion/Gollancz contract on September 29 has led to an amicable parting of the ways. SFE is now jointly published by the holding company SFE Ltd, based in London, and Ansible Editions, based in Reading, Berkshire. The announcement of the transition to a Fourth Edition recognizes not only this internal change but also the introduction of several improvements not previously possible for them. To users, the most obvious will be the addition of foregrounded graphic content, with a relevant cover image (if one exists in the SFE Gallery) displayed in every entry. Improvements, some more visible than others, have been made to site navigation, in hopes of making them more intuitive to use. The SFE will continue to evolve along these lines.
The work of SFE’s publishers and editors over the past 45 years has also been commemorated as part of the announcement. The editors note that during that time the textual autonomy of SFE has been strictly honored. Thanks are given to Hugh Elwes, John Jarrold, Colin Murray, Tim Holman, Malcolm Edwards, Darren Nash and Marcus Gipps.
The first edition of SFE appeared in 1979 with Peter Nicholls – the founder – as editor and John Clute as associate editor; the publishers were Granada (UK) and Doubleday (USA). The second edition of 1993, jointly edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls, was published by Orbit (UK) and St Martin’s Press (USA); this was slightly expanded as a 1995 CD-ROM from Grolier. The third edition launched by Gollancz in 2011 was edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls until his lamented death in 2018, and Graham Sleight. All three editions won Hugos and other awards.
The SFE’s Third Edition launched in October 2011 with 12,230 entries totaling 3,222,920 words with 113,492 internal hyperlinks. Today there are 18,834 entries, 6,362,055 words and 226,451 links.
(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 protected]
(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.]
(1) NEW PANEL FOR CORDWAINER SMITH REDISCOVERY AWARD. [Item by Steven H Silver.] Robert J. Sawyer and Barry Malzberg have retired as judges for the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award. A new panel has been created to select the honorees. The new panel includes Rich Horton, Steven H Silver, and Grant Thiessen. The new panel’s first selection will be announced at Readercon the weekend of August 13-15.
Over the past year, you joined me as I’ve baked and shared homemade scones and pizza, or ordered takeout weiner schnitzel and sushi, my guests and I doing our best to seize those moments of community COVID-19 tried to steal from us. In this case, John Wiswell and I pretended we were sitting across the table from each other during the Nebula Awards weekend.
John Wiswell won a Nebula Award earlier this month for the short story “Open House on Haunted Hill,” which had been published last year by Diabolical Plots. He’s also appeared in Nature, Uncanny, Weird Tales, Fireside, Daily Science Fiction, Flash Fiction Online, Cast of Wonders, Podcastle, and Pseudopod. In an astonishing show of prolificacy, he managed to posted fiction on his blog every day for six straight years, which I find astonishing. I found his Nebula acceptance speech astonishing as well; it was one of the best I’ve ever heard.
John and I were supposed to enjoy specialty hamburgers together this time around, only … something went wrong, as you shall hear. Why did I end up eating a chuck roast, brisket, and short rib burger while John only got to nibble on ice cream and carrots? For the answer to that question, well … you’ll have to listen.
We discussed his motivation for giving one of the greatest acceptance speeches ever, how he learned to build meaning out of strangeness, the way writing novels taught him to make his short stories better, his dual story generation modes of confrontation vs. escape, why what we think we know about the Marshmallow Test is wrong, the reason we’re both open online about our rejections, how the love of wallpaper led to him becoming a writer, why we’ve each destroyed our early writing from time to time, what he learned writing a story a day for six years, and much more.
(3) GARCIA APPEARANCES. Chris Garcia will be doing presentations at two Mystical Minds convention gatherings in the coming year.
Mystical Minds is a new Pagan, Paranormal, and Metaphysical convention created to expand our minds as well as our networks!
Witches, Pagans, Paranormal investigators, psychics, mediums, metaphysical practitioners, UFO experts, cryptozoologists, mystics, and other free-thinking spiritual seekers will come together in person this fall and spring for two conventions in the beautiful Bay area of Northern California!
Before Ghost Hunters, Most Haunted, or even Ghostbusters, San Francisco and the Bay has been home to research into the unknown. From occultists and de-bunkers in the early 20th century, to TV personalities in the 70s and 80s, to hard core particle physicists, research into the paranormal has happened here! Join Chris Garcia as he tells their stories!
An architectural marvel, containing a story of American eccentricity, and a debate over the potential paranormal aspects. We will look at the history of the House, the stories surrounding its building, the recounting of what people have experienced, and how development in the area may have something to do with all the fuss… both before and after Sarah Winchester showed up!
(4) HARD DRIVES OF IF. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Financial Times Reader.] In the July 16 Financial Times, Tom Faber discusses “interactive fiction” or IF, a genre between a video game and a novel.
After a few wilderness years (around 2000), IF re-emerged among a niche community of writers and intellectuals who organised around the annual Interactive Fiction Competition, founded in1995. This renaissance as partially triggered by progress in technology. Writers developed methods for inactivity such as multiple choice as an alternative to the intimidating grammar rules of the text parser. New tools such as Twine, ChoiceScript and Inklewriter empowered those without coding skills to create their own games. This contributed to a diversification of the creator pool, particularly encouraging queer writers who have broached provocative topics not tackled in the gaming mainstream, ranging from gender dysphoria to clinical depression to unconventional kinks…
…One of the most remarkable IF writers is Porpentine, author of the vivid story With Those We Love Alive. On this tale of an artist enslaved by an insectoid empress, you roam an alien world of ‘glass flowers on iron stalks. Canopy of leafbone. Statues sunk into the earth.’ Porpentine asks you to swap words out, wipe them away, and — most intimately — to draw symbols on your arm which represent emotional responses to the narrative.
(5) FREE DOWNLOAD FROM TAFF. Willis Discovers America and other fan fiction by Walt Willis is the latest addition to the selection of free ebook downloads at David Langford’s unofficial Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund site, where they hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please. Here’s the download page.
The title piece is a wildly silly imagining of Walt’s first trip to the USA in 1952, written and serialized in multiple fanzines before he actually began the journey; the text used here is from the collected edition of 1955, which included a new preface and annotations explaining some of the more arcane in-jokes. Further items range from scripts for two recorded “taperas” or tape operas that had fans rolling in the aisles at 1950s conventions, to a 1987 recasting of The Enchanted Duplicator as a computer text-Adventure game. Most of this material has never before been collected.
Edited by David Langford, who has added a few more explanatory notes; research work by Rob Hansen and others; proofreading by Pat Charnock. Cover artwork by Bob Shaw, drawn on to stencil for the collected Willis Discovers America (1955). 45,000 words.
(6) YOU COULD LOOK IT UP. John Scalzi tweeted this response to an item screencapped here the other day:
(7) ELVISH. The On fairy-stories website interviews Elvish linguistic scholar Carl F. Hostetter, editor of The Nature of Middle-Earth, a new J.R.R. Tolkien book: “From Linguistics to Metaphysics”. The book proposal with many of the edited texts was seen and approved by Christopher Tolkien, who passed away last year.
In your opinion, why did Tolkien not develop completely the Elvish languages?
For much the same reason that he never completed The Silmarillion: at first, because things grew and changed in his imagination and their expression on paper, and then, after the intervention and completion of The Lord of the Rings, because he had to revise everything to make it consistent with the published book and the thousands of years of “new history” that the introduction of the Second and Third Ages required, a task he was never able to achieve. With the languages, this was because whenever he attempted to make “definitive” decision on some point of phonology or grammar, he would almost inevitably start revising the whole system, which makes sense since any language is a complexly intertwined system, such that a change in one feature or detail can and almost always does affect other aspects. Nor, I think, was it ever Tolkien’s intention to make the Elvish languages “complete” or “finished”: they were primarily an expression of his linguistic aesthetic, and its changes over time. Unlike, say, with Zamenhof and Esperanto, Tolkien had no utilitarian purpose in mind for his languages.
(8) THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE. ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination has published the latest issue of Imaginary Papers, their quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination. Issue 7 features a piece on The Expanse by science, technology, and society scholar Damien P. Williams, and a piece on “Sultana’s Dream,” a 1905 Bengali feminist utopian speculative fiction story, by musicologist and media scholar Nilanjana Bhattacharjya.
One of the most engrossing things about the small-screen adaptation of The Expanse is how viscerally it examines the human costs of life in space. After being exposed to a massive dose of radiation, starship captain James Holden gets a permanent anticancer implant, like a far-future successor of a Port-A-Cath. And from the first episode, we’re made to understand that the Belters—descendants of humans who have worked, lived, and started societies on asteroids or the moons of other planets in our solar system—have different physiologies than the humans who still call Earth home. Gravity weighs heavier on Belters: it constricts their blood vessels, strains their hearts, and cracks their bones….
Author Grady Hendrix (‘Horrorstör’, ‘We Sold Our Souls’ and more!) graciously took time out of his busy schedule for an interview with our very own library staff member Kevin Kennel, to discuss his new book, ‘The Final Girl Support Group’ and his experiences as a writer and author. …Please note: this video contains adult content and is an interview about an adult horror novel.
… But in this world, we are never going to get the chance to start over. This was one of the reasons Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels objected to 19th-century utopias like that of Charles Fourier, the French designer of small communes living in perfect harmony: They were fantasy solutions that served only to distract people from the real work of politics and revolution. They were also in competition with Marx and Engels’s own ideas, so there was the usual left infighting. But it was a legitimate complaint: If utopia isn’t a political program, then what is it for?
The answer should be obvious. Utopias exist to remind us that there could be a better social order than the one we are in. Our present system is the result of a centuries-old power struggle, and it is devastating people and the biosphere. We must change it—and fast. But to what?
Utopias are thought experiments. Imagine if things ran like this: Wouldn’t that be good? Well, maybe…let’s live in it fictionally for a while. What problems crop up in this system? Can we solve them? What if we tweak things this way, or that? Let’s tell this story and then that story, and see how plausible they feel after we spend some imaginative time in them….
(11) STEPHEN HICKMAN (1949-2021). Famed sff artist Stephen Hickman died July 16 reported his friend and colleague Ron Miller on Facebook: “Lost one of my best friends, Steve Hickman, this morning and the world lost one of its best artists and finest human beings.” Hickman had over 350 book and magazine covers to his credit. He won the 1994 Best Original Artwork Hugo for his Space Fantasy Commemorative Stamp Booklet. He was a six-time Chesley Award winner.
The love of my life, Judi Beth Castro, lost her fight for life at 10:50 PM Thursday night. The illness was sudden, and she was always in critical danger, but between Tuesday night and Wednesday evening her numbers were improving at such a steady rate that we thought there was hope. Alas, the decline began on Thursday morning and by afternoon there was no doubt….
Her genre credits include Atlanta Nights (2005; a parody which she contributed to with many other co-authors), and the short fiction “Unfamiliar Gods” co-authored with Adam-Troy Castro.
(13) MEMORY LANE.
1953 – Sixty-eight years ago, Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe premiered as a black-and-white movie serial from Republic Pictures. It was originally going to be a syndicated television series. It was directed by Harry Keller, Franklin Adreon and Fred C. Brannon as written by Ronald Davidson and Barry Shipman. Its cast was Judd Holdren, Aline Towne, Gregory Gaye and Craig Kelly. It would last but one season of twelve twenty-five minute episodes. And yes, it was syndicated to television on NBC in 1955. Some sources say Dave Steven based his Rocketeer character off of Commando Cody. And there’s a clone trooper named Commander Cody who serves under Jedi general Obi-Wan Kenobi, an homage that Lucas has openly acknowledged as he watched the series as a child.
(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 16, 1928 — Robert Sheckley. I knew that his short story “Seventh Victim” was the basis of The 10th Victim film but I hadn’t known ‘til now that Freejack was sort of based of his Immortality, Inc. novel. I’ve read a lot by him with Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming (written with Zelazny) being my favorite work by him. Sheckley is very well stocked on the usual suspects. (Died 2005.)
Born July 16, 1929 — Sheri S. Tepper. Nominated for an Austounding Award way back when, she had a long career, so I’m going to single out Beauty, The Gate to Women’s Country, Six Moon Dance and The Companions as my favorites knowing very well that yours won’t be the same. (Died 2016.)
Born July 16, 1951 — Esther Friesner, 70. She’s won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story twice with “Death and the Librarian” and “A Birthday”. I’m particularly fond of The Sherwood Game and E.Godz which she did with Robert Asprin. She won the 1994 Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction, for lifetime contributions to science fiction, “both through work in the field and by exemplifying the personal qualities which made the late ‘Doc’ Smith well-loved by those who knew him,” presented by the New England Science Fiction Association. She’s well stocked at the usual suspects.
Born July 16, 1956 — Jerry Doyle. Now this one is depressing. Dead of acute alcoholism at sixty, his character Michael Garibaldi was portrayed as an alcoholic, sometimes recovering and sometimes not on Babylon 5. Damn. (Died 2016.)
Born July 16, 1963 — Phoebe Cates, 58. Ok, so her entire genre appearance credit is as Kate Beringer in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Yes, I’ll admit that they’re two films that I have an inordinate fondness for that the Suck Fairy cannot have any effect upon them what-so-ever. Update: I’ve discovered since I last noted her Birthday that she was in Drop Dead Fred, a dark fantasy. She also stopped acting six years ago.
Born July 16, 1965 — Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, 56. Best remembered genre wise as Tommy Webber in the much beloved Galaxy Quest though his longest acting role was Patton Plame on the cancelled NCIS: New Orleans.
Born July 16, 1966 — Scott Derrickson, 55. Director and Writer of Doctor Strange who also had a hand in The Day the Earth Stood Still (as Director), The Exorcism of Emily Rose (Director and Writer), Urban Legends: Final Cut (Director and Producer) and the forthcoming Labyrinth sequel (Director and Writer).
Born July 16, 1967 — Will Ferrell, 54. His last genre film was Holmes & Watson in which he played Holmes. It won Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screen Combo and, my absolute favourite Award, Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel. Wow. He was also in Land of the Lost which, errrr, also got negative reviews. Elf however got a great response from viewers and critics alike. He also was in two of the Austin Powers films as well. Oh, and he voices Ted / The Man with the Yellow Hat, a tour guide at the Bloomsberry Museum in Curious George.
…Facebook is a time suck garbage site that exists as the propaganda arm of the DNC/Corpo-Uni-Party, to spy on you to sell to advertisers, and to steal everyone’s personal information. After bamboozling all the content creators to go over there to build “community” they now hold them hostage because the content creators are scared to leave because they’ll take a financial hit (The Oatmeal’s got a great cartoon about it)….
(17) SUSTAINABLE USE OF SPACE.[Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In this week’s Science:
Last month, at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Cornwall, United Kingdom, the leading industrial nations addressed the sustainable and safe use of space, making space debris a priority and calling on other nations to follow suit. This is good news because space is becoming increasingly congested, and strong political will is needed for the international space community to start using space sustainably and preserve the orbital environment for the space activities of future generations.
There are more than 28,000 routinely tracked objects orbiting Earth. The vast majority (85%) are space debris that no longer serve a purpose. These debris objects are dominated by fragments from the approximately 560 known breakups, explosions, and collisions of satellites or rocket bodies. These have left behind an estimated 900,000 objects larger than 1 cm and a staggering 130 million objects larger than 1 mm in commercially and scientifically valuable Earth orbits.
(18) SUPERPRANKSTERS? Isaac Arthur’s video “Annoying Aliens” contends, “Fictional portrayals of alien invasion or reports of alien sightings and abductions often imply motives which on inspection make little sense… unless perhaps the true purpose was mischief.”
(19) DISCWORLD COMMENTARY. YouTuber Dominic Noble says he has finally overcome his “sense of loss and deep sadness at the tragically too early passing of the author [Terry Pratchett] due to Alzheimer’s disease” and is planning to do videos on the Discworld books. He begins with this overview of Discworld and his appreciation for it and for Pratchett.
It’s been a decade since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two arrived in theaters and brought an end to JK Rowling’s saga of witches and wizards. Like most 90s kids, I too read all the books and saw all the movies as a kid and teenager but have completely left the series behind since. Ten years later, how does Harry Potter hold up? In this video essay, I try to get to the heart of Harry Potter as while as examine my own relationship to the series.
No official works cited for this video, though I imagine my criticisms of Rowling’s transphobia will draw some ire. I have no intention of arguing the ethics or legitimacy of Rowling’s claims….
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Joey Eschrich, Chris M. Barkley, Jennifer Hawthorne, Steven H Silver, StephenfromOttawa, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, N., Daniel Dern, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]