The UK’s Royal Mail today shared images of the eight Special Stamps they are issuing to celebrate Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, marking the 40th anniversary of The Colour of Magic, first book in the series. The stamps can be pre-ordered now, and will be available for general purchase on August 10.
The stamps feature Rincewind, The Librarian, Granny Weatherwax, Sam Vimes, and Great A’Tuin, as well as specially commissioned artworks of Death and Mort, Tiffany Aching and Moist von Lipwig, all by artist Paul Kidby, who was Pratchett’s preferred illustrator for the Discworld. (Click for larger image.)
A Terry Pratchett’s Discworld First Day Cover featuring all eight new stamps cancelled with the alternative postmark that will be available for order from August 10.
Also offered is a presentation pack with explanatory text and a set of the stamps.
(1) SPSFC2 COVER CONTEST: HELP RATE THE TOP 100. The second year of the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition has kicked off. While the reviewing teams are judging the books, you can help judge the covers. Vote in the SPSFC2 Cover Contest – People’s Choice at Pollunit.
The teams scored the covers of the 30 books assigned to each of them and picked their top ten, for a total of 100 covers. You will be asked to give each cover from 0 – 10 points.
Covers are displayed in batches of 10 and their order is randomized for each viewer.
The poll is open until September 9. When it’s finished, we’ll find out which SPSFC contestant’s cover people think is the best.
Alexandra Rowland didn’t mean to spark a new artistic genre. In 2017, however, the fantasy author had a moment of inspiration. Rowland had been contemplating the rise of grimdark – the subgenre of fantasy fiction typified by George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (the inspiration for the TV series Game of Thrones) – which emphasises the flaws in human nature, and focuses on our capacity for cruelty.
But what could describe literature that instead focuses on our capacity for good? “The opposite of grimdark is hopepunk. Pass it on,” wrote the author in a short post on Tumblr. The post soon went viral – and by 2019 the term had entered the Collins English Dictionary, defined as “a literary and artistic movement that celebrates the pursuit of positive aims in the face of adversity”.
Various works of fiction – including the Lord of the Rings and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series – have now been labelled as examples of hopepunk, along with a slew of contemporary writers.
“Cautionary tales are very important,” says Becky Chambers, one of the leading authors associated with the hopepunk movement, who has won a much-coveted Hugo Award for her sci-fi Wayfarer series. “But if that is all that you have, you risk nihilism.”…
Now that we have caught up on our sleep and have taken stock, we realise there was a major omission in both our opening and closing ceremonies. Although Terry was in all our hearts and thoughts before and during the Convention, we didn’t include our tribute to him in the ceremonies.
That shortcoming is something that we deeply regret and humbly apologise to all of you.
There is a lot that we can feel pleased about, especially given the difficulties we all faced in planning and running the Con, but they are all overshadowed by our collective oversight.
But what now? Anything we could do in the short term is far too little, far too late. But in the long term? For that, turn inwards and try to ask what Sir Terry would say if he saw what we did. And this is the answer we hope he would give:
“Do Better. BE Better. And don’t be such tossers again.”
So, that is what we plan to do. To be better. And to remember what he and Vimes taught us. A city, a community, lives and dies by the people in it. And committees are there to serve them, to put them first, and do right by them, by you.
2024 is both a long way away and no time at all, so we’re already working to prove deserving of your, and Sir Terry’s, trust. Hopefully, you’ll give us the chance.
Yours in humility, the ConCom that was and the ConCom that will be.
While researching Zachary Quinto’s family tree for his upcoming appearance on Who Do You Think You Are?, Ancestry.com found a surprising connection in his family’s past and his character, Spock. In a newspaper record from 1899, Quinto’s great-grandfather P.J. McArdle wrote a letter to the editor that closes out with “May it live long and prosper” – almost the same words used in the iconic Vulcan greeting and farewell “live long and prosper,” first introduced by Leonard Nimoy as Spock on Star Trek: The Original Series and spoken by Quinto as Spock for the Kelvin Universe films. Quinto’s full journey will air on Who Do You Think You Are? on August 14 at 7/6c on NBC and stream on Peacock.
In our series of posts in support of the 1946 Project at Chicon 8, we’ve already explored the year in fandom. We also want to understand what it was like to spend that year as an active fan.
One of the most prolific and well-regarded fans was Joseph Charles “Joe” Kennedy. His remarkable 1946 is worthy of note, if not entirely representative of how most fans spent their year….
January 1 — the very dawn of 1946 — Kennedy joined a gathering at the New Jersey home of Sam Moskowitz. This was the second meeting of the self-designated “Null-A Men,” satirically named after the controversial novel by A.E. van Vogt. As Moskowitz noted in The 1946-47 Fantasy Review, “The initial idea of a loosely knit, social group was abandoned when 10 fans showed up… The idea of an organizational meeting was expanded into a full-fledged convention.” This was the origin of the “First Post-War Eastern Science Fiction Convention,” which would convene in March of that year.
The Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier awards for speculative fiction, are for works created by an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and published for the first time between 1 January 2022 and 31 December 2022.
We strongly encourage publishers and authors to enter all works published already this year by September 30, 2022, then subsequent publications as they are released; our judges appreciate having time to consider each entry carefully.
Entries for the Aurealis Awards main categories close on December 14, 2022.
…The writer himself said in a letter to his friend Stanley Unwin:
‘That story was the only thing I have ever done which cost me absolutely no pains at all. Usually, I compose only with great difficulty and endless rewriting. […] It took only a few hours to get down, and then copy out.’
This is definitely unusual for Tolkien, who is famous for spending decades carefully crafting and sculpting each individual character, language, culture, and history. And the suddenness of its appearance in Tolkien’s mind isn’t the only thing that makes the narrative so different from many of his other works. The story centers around one main character’s thoughts, experience, and journey, rather than a group of companions or a fellowship like most of the long-form works that he is famous for. What’s more, it is very introspective, reflecting much of Tolkien’s own thoughts and tribulations as a creative….
(8) MEMORY LANE.
2022 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Usually here we look at something that has already happened but we’re going to look at something that has not happened yet, Rob Zombie’s The Munsters. It’s due to break out almost exactly a month from now as the release date in the States is supposed to be September 27.
The Munsters as you well know started out as a television series in 1964 and was followed by The Munsters Today and the recent one-off Mockingbird Lane which was intended as a pilot. Several Munsters movies were released, three of which had original cast members.
So how is that Rob Zombie of all individuals is releasing a Munsters film? Very good question I’d say. Well he does have a fondness for The Munsters. Zombie a quarter of a century ago released the single “Dragula”. (I kept looking at that and seeing Dracula.) The title came from the name of Grandpa’s dragster DRAG-U-LA. (You can see the plate here.) Zombie’s music video mimics, sort of, the Munsters family getting into Grandpa’s car for a ride.
This film takes place prior to the events prior to the series, serving as an origin for the characters. It is directed and written by Zombie who also producing it. That’s either a very good thing or a very bad thing. It is very obviously a vanity project for him.
The cast is mostly not anyone that I recognize but here they be for your perusal: Jeff Daniel Phillips, Sheri Moon Zombie, Daniel Roebuck, Richard Brake and Sylvester McCoy. Wait, we have a Time Lord here? McCoy is playing Igor.
And if you’ve not guessed yet, Sheri Moon Zombie who plays Lily Munster is married to Rob Zombie. You really, really don’t want to look up her filmography.
And Jeff Daniel Phillips who plays Herman Munster has an equally unídistinguished acting career. Remember the Cavemen series? (Hopefully you don’t.) He was Maurice in it.
Casandra Peterson, better known as Elvira, played Barbara Carr who is described as the #1 real estate agent in all of Mockingbird Heights.
The premise is that is a love story taking place in Transylvania where Herman and Lily met, dated and departed for here as her father didn’t at all like Herman. They married after moving here and the prequel leads up the series we know.
Transylvania? WTF were they doing there? Frankenstein Castle located in the city of Darmstadt in Germany. It is often thought that this castle may have been the inspiration for Mary Shelley in writing her novel. Definitely not in Transylvania.
It was filmed entirely in Hungary including the construction from scratch of 1313 Mockingbird Lane duplicating the house from the Mockingbird Lane pilot exactly according to Zombie who used the plans for it.
Now if your planning on going out to the nearest cinema to settle in with popcorn and your favorite beverage, don’t bother. The only place that you can see it is on Netflix as they financed it. Peacock originally was thought to have rights to it but that turned out to incorrect.
Born August 28, 1915 — Tasha Tudor. American illustrator and writer of children’s books. Her most well-known book is Corgiville Fair, published in 1971, the first of a series to feature anthropomorphic corgis. (Died 2008.)
Born August 28, 1916 — Jack Vance. Where to start? The Dying Earth series? Or perhaps the Lyonesse trilogy? I think I’ll pick the Demon Princes series. Damn he was good. Hugos? Oh yes. Discon was his first for “The Dragon Masters” short story followed by winning one for “The Last Castle” novellette at NYCon 3. His autobiography, This is Me, Jack Vance! (Or, More Properly, This is “I”), Jack Vance, won at Aussiecon 4. Let’s not forget that he has a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement as well. And a SFWA Grand Master Award, too. (Died 2013.)
Born August 28, 1917 — Jack Kirby. Responsible for a goodly part of modern comics from Captain America and the X-Men to Challengers of the Unknown and the New Gods. (Another DC film that got cancelled.) I had forgotten that he created the Black Panther. (Died 1994.)
Born August 28, 1948 — Vonda McIntyre. I’ve read a number of her works including Dreamsnake and The Moon and the Sun which are all phenomenal. The latter was based on a short story of hers done as a faux encyclopaedia article “The Natural History and Extinction of the People of the Sea”, that was illustrated by Le Guin. Way cool. (Died 2019.)
Born August 28, 1951 — Barbara Hambly, 71. Author of myriad genre works including the James Asher, Vampire Novels, The Windrose Chronicles, and the Sun Wolf and Starhawk series. Some Trek work. Was married for some years to George Alec Effinger.
Born August 28, 1965 — Amanda Tapping, 57. Stargate franchise of course, also lead in the rather smashing Sanctuary, Travelers, the Killjoys which I still need to see, Riese, Earthsea, Flash Forward and X-Files.
Born August 28, 1978 — Rachel Kimsey, 44. She voices Wonder Woman on Justice League Action, yet another series that proves animation, not live, is the DC film strong point. Here’s a clip of her voice work from that show. She was Zoe, the old imaginary friend of Frances, on Don’t Look Under The Bed, a supposedly horror that ran on Disney. Disney, horror? And she was a zombie in the “Don’t Let Her Pull You Down” music video by New Found Glory.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
(11) GAME FACE. The video game The Stanley Parable “is about what it means to be free in a tightly constrained simulated world.” From “Exhausting All Possibilities” by Gabriel Winslow-Yost in The New York Review of Books. (The complete article is behind a paywall.)
…The structure of the game is simple. The narrator—voiced in a ripe, pompously authoritative English accent by Kevan Brighting—tells us the story of the day that “would forever change Stanley,” when Stanley suddenly realizes that all of his coworkers have disappeared and leaves his desk to find out what’s happened. And we pilot Stanley through it: walking to the conference room to see if he’s forgotten about a meeting (he hasn’t), then upstairs to the boss’s office to see if he’s there (he is not), then stumbling upon a “terrible secret that lay buried below his feet” (a giant mind-control machine hidden in the basement) before triumphing rather easily over this subterranean evil (there’s an off switch) and heading outside for a sunlit happy ending….
(12) NUCLEAR WINTER IF RUSSIA DEPLOYS NUKES. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] To cheer you up as you wend your way to Worldcon…. Nature contemplates the unthinkable. “Nuclear War Between Two Nations Could Spark Global Famine”. What if Russia deployed nukes in its war against Ukraine?
Even a small conflict in which two nations unleash nuclear weapons on each other could lead to worldwide famine, research suggests. Soot from burning cities would encircle the planet and cool it by reflecting sunlight back into space. This in turn would cause global crop failures that — in a worst-case scenario — could put five billion people on the brink of death.
“A large per cent of the people will be starving,” says Lili Xia, a climate scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, who led the work. “It’s really bad.”
The research, published on 15 August (L. Xia et al. Nature Food vol. 3, p586–596; 2022), is the latest in a decades-long thought experiment about the global consequences of nuclear war. It seems especially relevant now, given that Russia’s war against Ukraine has disrupted global food supplies, underscoring the far-reaching impacts of a regional conflict.
Nature this week points to the latest research that also reminds us of research a couple of years ago on even a small nuclear war. This earlier work also suggests that even a small war would have a huge impact. They developed a scenario of a small India–Pakistan nuclear war could lead to crops failing in dozens of countries — devastating food supplies for more than one billion people. 2020 primary research here.
The latest research is chilling. 100 weapons of just 15 kilotonnes each on urban targets, while ‘only’ giving 27 million direct deaths, would result in a quarter of a billion without food by the end of year two…
(13) TURN UP THE GASLIGHT. DUST presents a short film “Who Among Us”. Which player is the machine?
Directors’ Statement: We wanted to explore how the media and groupthink can cause a person to doubt what they know to be true. Seven’s character goes through the trauma of gas-lighting, but on a public scale. Reality television specifically exploits and bends the truth in this way. We just extrapolated how that would play out in the future when bots like Siri and Alexa become nearly indistinguishable from humans. Wouldn’t there be a game show where contestants have to figure out who among them is the machine? The fascinating part is how open we are to untested technology, especially when it’s entertaining. That can be a good thing for technologists. From firsthand experience building @artieapp (check it out on Instagram) we know that sometimes a glitch can become a feature. There is a fine line though. In the film it’s not clear whether the host is following a script, or if he’s manipulating the contestants of his own volition. Are we just a glitch away from disaster? Or are we a glitch away from a great discovery? That’s the idea behind our feature script, which examines the characters lives in the aftermath of the game show.
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Jeffrey Smith, Angela Smith, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
This cozy catastrophe stands out because it’s a rare book in which humans are not to blame for deadly environmental changes. The novel begins quietly, as a meteor shower splashes down in Earth’s oceans. English Broadcasting Company reporters Mike and Phyllis Watson, who document the escalating crisis, see nothing alarming. Initially.
Unfortunately for the former rulers of Earth, the objects were spacecraft, delivering the planet’s new owners to Earth’s oceans. At first these enigmatic beings limit themselves to sampling the inhabitants of an occasional village to better understand their new home. Once they’ve settled in—and particularly once humans attempt to nuke the settlers—the aquatic aliens decide to conduct planetary improvements. Which is to say, they begin melting ice caps, providing themselves with more aquatic lebensraum. This also drowns the coastlines where atom bomb-wielding, land-dwelling pests tend to congregate.
…[A] managing editor for commerce of our sister site, CNET, was beaming on Facebook about how he was able to get in to see a sneak preview of Dune, the Denis Villeneuve-directed film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi epic that is due for a late October release.
I’m sure many other people are as excited as I am about this movie. So I quoted [in reply] the duel scene in question, in which Sting, playing the charismatic and psychotic Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, shouts, “I -WILL- kill you.” I even put it in quotes so that there was no question I was quoting the film.
I thought nothing of it. I went about the rest of my evening. About an hour later, I was notified by Facebook that I was suspended for three days due to violating Community Standards.
I was shocked. Suspended for quoting a film? Without even using any obscenities? This seems… extreme.
Obviously, I had no intention of killing Russell Holly, envious as I was that he got to see this film months before anyone else. I am also not in the practice of murdering my editorial colleagues with poisoned daggers, as anyone at ZDNet will tell you….
Stinson LLP is proud to announce 2021 Unsung Legal Heroes award recipients for Missouri and Minnesota.
…Levy Haskell, work product support specialist, is based in Minneapolis. He is recognized for the guidance and optimism he provided to his team, as well as the complex tools he implemented during the transition to working remotely. Fred is appreciated for his upbeat nature and willingness to help anyone at the firm.
(5) J.K. ON THE BBC. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] J. K. Rowling seriously considered writing Harry Potter under a pseudonym and confirmed she conceived his series on a delayed, crowded rail train.The Poet Laureate Has Gone to His Shed is a BBC Radio 4 series in which the Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, talks to poets and writers in his garden shed. An episode this weekend had J.K. Rowling as the guest. (You can also listen to extended version.)
She revealed that she too writes in a shed-like outhouse in her garden. Like Simon’s, it too is devoid of internet access so as to rid distraction. She revealed that she had seriously considered writing Harry Potter under a pseudonym using the name ‘Oliver’. She also said that she and her publisher decided to use the gender neutral ‘J. K.’ abbreviation. She confirmed the story that the idea for Harry Potter came to her on a long-delayed and crowded train from Manchester to London.
She said that she always wanted to be a writer ever since she realised that the stories her mother read to her were written by someone.
With regards to writing, she says that her drafts are all hand written and outlines are in notebooks (which nobody has ever seen). The advantage, she said, of hand writing drafts is that using a word processor sees early versions deleted and once gone, are gone. The problem here is that sometimes she finds dialogue or a scene simply has not worked and that she realised that an earlier version had a better staring point for taking in a slightly different direction. Hand-written records are therefore very valuable. Simon Armitage confirmed that he too writes by hand. He said it was important for a writer to access the archaeology of the writing process.
ANYONE WHO’S EVER HEARD THE expression “it’s turtles all the way down” is probably familiar with the image of the world being carried on the back of a giant turtle. While that philosophical one-liner is of relatively modern vintage, the cosmic turtle mytheme has appeared in disparate cultures across the globe for millennia. In honor of everyone’s favorite intellectual quandary, let’s take a moment to celebrate the tortoises that hold up the world.
In his book Researches Into the Early History of Mankind and the Development of Civilization, the turn-of-the-20th-century anthropologist Edward Burnett Tylor writes that the world turtle concept likely first appeared in Hindu mythology. In one Vedic story, the form of the god Vishnu’s second avatar, Kurma, is a great turtle, which provides a celestial foundation upon which a mountain is balanced….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
2008 – Thirteen years ago this month, Robert Holdstock’s Avilion would be published. Set in his Ryhope Wood series, it was nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. It would be the final work from this author as he died in-hospital at the age of sixty-one from an E. coli infection on the 29th of November 2009. He would be honored with The Karl Edward Wagner Award from the British Fantasy Society the following year. And they would rename their best fantasy novel award in his honor – now called the BFS Robert Holdstock Award.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 26, 1894 — Aldous Huxley. Brave New World is fascinating. I knew I had it assigned and sort of discussed in a High School class and at least one Uni class a very long time ago. So what else is genre by him and worth reading? I see his Time Must Have a Stop novel was on the long list at CoNZealand. (Died 1963.)
Born July 26, 1928 — Stanley Kubrick. I’m reasonably sure 2001: A Space Odyssey was the first film I saw by him but Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was the one that impressed me the most. A Clockwork Orange was just too damn depressing. And I’m not a horror fan as such so I never saw The Shining. Barry Lyndon is great but it’s not genre by any means. (Died 1999.)
Born July 26, 1945 — Helen Mirren, 76. She first graces our presence as Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She next shows up in a genre role as Alice Rage in The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, Peter Sellar’s last film. She’s an ever so delicious Morgana in Excalibur and then leaps into the future as Tanya Kirbuk in 2010: The Year We Make Contact. She voices the evil lead role in The Snow Queen, and likewise is Deep Thought in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. She was recently in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms as Mother Ginger, regent of the Land of Amusements. Her next genre role is in the forthcoming Shazam! Fury of the Gods as Hespera.
Born July 26, 1945 — M. John Harrison, 76. Winner of the Otherwise Award. TheViriconium sequence, I hesitate to call it a series, starting with The Pastel City, is some of the most elegant fantasy I’ve read. And I see he’s a SJW as he’s written the Tag, the Cat series which I need to take a look at. He’s also a major critic for the past thirty years reviewing fiction and nonfiction for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, the Times Literary Supplement and The New York Times. He’s lightly stocked at the usual suspects though TheViriconium sequence is there at a very reasonable price.
Born July 26, 1954 — Lawrence Watt-Evans, 67. Ok I’ll admit that I’ve not read “Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers” which won him a short fiction Hugo at Conspiracy ’87. It also was nominated for a Nebula and won an Asimov’s Reader’s Poll that year. It’d be his only Hugo. So I’m curious what Hugo voters saw in it. Yes, I’ve read him — his War Surplus series is quite excellent.
Born July 26, 1957 — Nana Visitor, 64. Kira Nerys on Deep Space Nine which for my money is the second best of the Trek series to date and I’m including the present series in that assessment. After DS9 ended, Visitor had a recurring role as villain Dr. Elizabeth Renfro on Dark Angel. In 1987, Visitor appeared as Ellen Dolan in a never developed series pilot for Will Eisner’s The Spirit with Sam J. Jones as The Spirit. And she had a brief role in Torchwood: Miracle Day.
Born July 26, 1964 — Sandra Bullock, 57. First film role was in, I kid you not, Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman, also Demolition Man, Practical Magic and Gravity to name but three of her other genre appearances.
Born July 26, 1969 — Tim Lebbon, 52. For my money, his best series is The Hidden Cities one he did with Christopher Golden though his Relics series with protagonist Angela Gough is quite superb as well. He dips into the Hellboy universe with two novels, Unnatural Selection and Fire Wolves, rather capably. I’ve got his Firefly novel, Generations, in my Audible queue.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
The Far Side depends on a literary reference – which I’m confident you’ll all get.
What is it like working together in a collaboration as two authors?
Nolan: Well, I have collaborated quite a bit in my career. I worked on the screenplay to Burnt Offerings with producer/director Dan Curtis, for example. I did most of the adaptation of Marasco’s novel, but Dan and I worked on other elements together. Of course, I co-wrote Logan’s Run with my dear friend George Clayton Johnson. That started as an idea of mine, but as the book took shape George added some fine elements. We literally typed the whole thing from notes in three weeks! We spelled one another on the typewriter in a hotel. I did the final polish later. Jason and I have worked on a lot of pieces together, also, but I’ll let him talk about that.
Brock: I come from a background in music, and having a band is quite collaborative. Also, I am a filmmaker, having completed two documentaries and working on others, and film in general is extremely collaborative. So, writing is a pretty easy way to work together as there are fewer people involved, at least in the active writing phase, as opposed to editing and preparing for publication. As long as the coauthors share roughly the same vision for the outcome, getting there can be a lot of fun, actually. It’s surprising the places a piece can go when you write something, then have the other person take your concepts and spin them, then you do that to theirs, etc. It’s a rush.
…The collection is, indeed, progressive in tone. It has been noted that it includes a wheelchair accessible dungeon (a cause celebre for progressive members of gaming communities, though wheelchairs aren’t specifically mentioned in the book) and numerous nonplayer characters who use they/them pronouns. The collection also signals progressivism in other ways—for example, the new adventures de-emphasise the idea that good or evil motives are inherent traits of monster races. (This is a response to those who have protested that the attribution of inherent bad traits to this group is analogous to racism in real life.) And it includes a trigger warning of sorts: the accompanying book begins with a section titled “Be a Sensitive Dungeon Master,” which uses progressive buzzwords such as trigger and unsafe….
…The Commercial Astronaut Wings programme updates were announced on Tuesday – the same day that Amazon’s Mr Bezos flew aboard a Blue Origin rocket to the edge of space.
To qualify as commercial astronauts, space-goers must travel 50 miles (80km) above the Earth’s surface, which both Mr Bezos and Mr Branson accomplished.
But altitude aside, the agency says would-be astronauts must have also “demonstrated activities during flight that were essential to public safety, or contributed to human space flight safety”….
I think this reminds me of a scene in The Right Stuff where test pilots insisted the Mercury capsule needed a window and some flight control capability. Because they weren’t just the human counterparts of the monkeys that had been shot into space.
…Of the thousands of artifacts displayed here, Gelinas says, it’s the extensive collection of electric and neon signs, some with graffiti still intact, that are the museum’s biggest draw. A neon sign from the now-defunct, iconic, Palomino Club, a famed North Hollywood country music venue that hosted talent such as Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and Tanya Tucker, is a crowd favorite, he reports. Other signs in the extensive collection include one from a Jewish deli, a Van de Kamp’s Holland Dutch Bakery complete with windmill and a galloping horse that once advertised a local liquor store.
…Of the collection, Gelinas says, 25 percent is donated while the other 75 percent is “rescued,” as in Gelinas and his team get a call to come take an item that might be destroyed. These “History Watchdogs,” as he refers to them, call when beloved area signage or iconography is in danger of being torn down. When that happens, Gelinas says, he and his team of loyal museum volunteers, many of whom have been specially trained in removal techniques, take great pains to make sure things are done well.
(14) DC AT SDCC. During the DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow Comic-Con@Home panel on Sunday, the cast and showrunners unveiled a sneak peek at the remainder of the show’s sixth season — think bowling, board games, aliens, weddings, magic mushrooms, and a whole lot of dark drama involving John Constantine.
[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Joe H.]
(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.]
…Reviews were generally good, sales were… well, okay. Solid. But nothing spectacular. No bestseller lists, certainly. I went on a book tour around that same time, signing copies in Houston, Austin, and Denton, Texas; in St. Louis, Missouri; in Chicago and Minneapolis; and up the west coast to San Diego, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Portland, and Seattle. Turnouts were modest in most places. The crowds didn’t reach one hundred anywhere, and at one stop (St. Louis, if you must know), not only was attendance zero but I actually drove four patrons out of the bookshop, allowing me to set my all time “bad signing” record at minus four (on the plus side, I had the time for long friendly talks with the readers who did show up).
But my oh my, things have changed a bit in these last twenty years….
PS: Do you consider yourself a nerd and, if so, what’s your nerdiest pastime?
BO: Well, my administration did write a pretty detailed response to a petition, explaining why we wouldn’t build a real-life Death Star, so I’d like to think I have at least a little nerd credibility built up.
What’s remarkable is the way “nerd” is such a badge of honor now. Growing up, I’m sure I wasn’t the only kid who read Spider-Man comics and learned how to do the Vulcan salute, but it wasn’t like it is today. I get the sense that today’s young people are proud to be smart and curious, to design new things, and tackle big problems in unexpected ways. I think America’s a nerdier country than it was when I was a kid—and that’s a good thing!
After reading a recent edition of Doctor Who Magazine, the stark realisation set in that after a life time in entertainment and tireless charity work, visits to hospitals and hospices, the living legend that is Tom Baker has not been officially recognised in any way shape or form.
Tom Baker’s commitment to the role of the 4th doctor and his many charitable acts since and brightened the lives of children and adult’s everywhere.
In an age where the like’s of James Corden can receive honours so early in their career, I think it’s a travesty. I’d like to try to change that and right this wrong.
Joyce Katz, who along with her husband Arnie Katz and friend Bill Kunkel founded the first magazine devoted to videogames, has passed away at the age of 77.
Katz, who wrote professionally under her maiden name Joyce Worley, was senior editor of the magazine Electronic Games from its founding in 1981 until just prior to its shuttering in 1985. She went on to take senior editorial roles at gaming publications throughout the 1990s, including Video Games & Computer Entertainment and the relaunched Electronic Games…..
Joyce had continued to write about games regularly until the closing of the second run of Electronic Games in the mid-90s. In the August 1994 issue of that publication, Katz made note of the industry’s worrying shift away from “games for everyone” to a hyper-violent boys’ club: “Tetris and Shanghai charmed women, Mortal Kombat did not.”
It was a prescient column in more ways than one. Katz looked forward to a future in which online gaming would make women “feel less threatened by on-lookers who might tease or criticize their performance in a game.” Sadly, it did not turn out to be that simple. But she also predicted that easier-to-use hardware coupled with better software design would keep girls gaming their whole lives, a future she did live to see.
“Somewhere between age 9 and 12, we lose the ladies,” Worley wrote. “We may never get back the teenaged girls, but hopefully we can arrange gaming so that we won’t lose them in the first place.”
I am bone tired and weary. I have biceps I haven’t had since my kids were toddlers. I am happy to say we have only 20 more boxes to open at the library–and hopefully none will come tomorrow. We are few people and we need to catch up. The generosity is overwhelming. Thank you. Thank you cards have begun and imagine they will take the better part of the fall semester to complete. I hope a thank you here is also enough as some boxes came in damaged in parts and addresses were not always readable. Please be patient. I’ve had a few emails from people thinking perhaps that we have 200 people and a sophisticated technology set up to respond. Alas we have a couple dozen people who donate time when they can. And we have one very exhausted me who has some reinforcements coming this week thank goodness.
(6) SPACEDOCK. See how the original model Enterprise was restored.
This is a short film showing the process of the detail paint work on the restoration of original U.S.S. Enterprise miniature. The work was done between the 11th and the 23rd of April 2016 at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy facility. The model is now on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.
So I say to you all: Go back to your constituencies and prepare for government! You have nothing to fear but the lurking horror in your basement! We shall fight them on the bleachers! Countrymen lend me your ears! But above all in the immortal words of Theodore Cruz: Vote yourself conscious!
No spoilers, other than the names of the trophies themselves. They’re all named after sf works. There’s a mixture of old and new, classic and obscure, Puppy-approved and degenerate SJW… even one (out of 23) written by a woman.
Disney is moving forward on a remake of the 1984 film Splash with an interesting twist: Channing Tatum will star as the mermaid character that was played by Daryl Hannah while Jillian Bell will play the character originally played by Tom Hanks.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
August 1, 1819 – Herman Melville. It took John Huston to get Ray Bradbury to read the book.
Last year the Givers Fund received enough donations to provide grants to projects such as the LaunchPad astronomy program, the Alpha Workshop for Young Writers, the Clarion West Writers Workshop, and the SFWA Star Project, among others, in the program’s first year.
The Grants Committee evaluated the multiple proposals on a number of criteria, the most important of which was how well they served the genre community and its writers. For example, the SFWA Star Project looks for a crowdfunded initiative each month to support by spreading the word as well as with a small donation. The innovative effort underscores SFWA’s leadership in new publishing models, including being the first writing organization to take crowdfunding as professional credentials.
This year we are continuing to provide grants to worthy projects. If you have a nonprofit project that you think would benefit the writing community, please submit it to [email protected].
…I challenged myself to PLAN. I wrestled with the big issues. What was planning? Was coffee planning fuel? What did it mean to plan? When was I getting another cup of coffee? Wasn’t planning just writing, only without the fun? (No, that’s making radical revisions because you wrote without a proper plan, Nigel.) I drank coffee. I read up on planning. Some was useful, some wasn’t. It became apparent that I was going to have to devise a method that worked for me.
This is where I’m at, by the way. I’m, er, making up my planning as I go along.
I got loads of notebooks and spread them around my desk in a very satisfactory manner.
Then I wasted time on the internet. Then I stopped because procrastination gets depressing after a while.
I wrote out the story so far.
I filled a big page with the names of all the characters so far and indicated roughly their relationships.
I made a tentative list of characters who have yet to appear and gave some indication of their roles and relationships.
I made a list of settings and gave rough ideas of how the story moves from place to place and what occurs there. I gave detail where I had them and left things vague where I didn’t, and decided not to worry about the vague bits – that’s rather the point of planning: find the vague bits and fill ‘em in.
I made a list of words I associated with the story as a whole. Random words, some reflecting theme, some mood, some character, some representing nothing yet.
I wrote out my ideas for the rest of the story, asking questions, posing alternatives, highlighting some of the stuff that needed work and trying to remain calm at the vast spaces that remained vague and undefined.
I sat and surveyed what I had done. And it was a start….
We are delighted to announce that the North American Discworld® Convention 2017 will be held in New Orleans, LA, September 1–4 next year. Membership and hotel details will be announced in the next month, but for now, save the dates and start contemplating which costumes you’ll want to wear as you attend The Genuan Experience!!
(17) DID THE EARTH MOVE FOR YOU? Speaking of the earth moving (as we did in a recent Scroll), the BBC just did a report on continental drift accompanied by speculative animated maps tracing their movement back 750 million years and forward 250.
Science calls it “Pangaea Proxima”. You might prefer to call it the Next Big Thing. A supercontinent is on its way that incorporates all of Earth’s major landmasses, meaning you could walk from Australia to Alaska, or Patagonia to Scandinavia. But it will be about 250 million years in the making.
For Christopher Scotese at the University of Texas at Arlington, the fact that our continents are not stationary is tantalising. How were they arranged in the past – and how will they be positioned in the future?
“Fifty million years from now, Australia will be in collision with southeast Asia to a much larger degree,” he says. Africa will also be pushing right up against southern Europe, while the Atlantic will be a far wider ocean than it is today.
You’re probably familiar with the urban legend: the opera singer ascends the stage and clears his throat. His audience cheer and wave their champagne flutes in anticipation. He opens his mouth – and a roomful of glasses smash to pieces. We have no record that this has ever actually happened, but there were rumours that the legendary tenor Enrico Caruso could quiver a glass into a million pieces.
I don’t want to spoil the ending, but the words ‘Shark-ception” definitely comes to mind. ‘Sharknado: The 4th Awakens’ culminates is probably the most ridiculous ending of any of these films to date, and there is nothing to not love about it. If you’re a fan of the first three, you’ll love this one. And really if you’ve never seen a ‘Sharknado’ movie before (in which case, what is wrong with you, get on that!), it is really difficult not to have a good time while watching this movie. We highly recommend pairing this movie (and the previous three) with a large couch, several good friends, some snacks and drinks, and you are all set for one hell of a ride!
(20) HOLODECK. You’ve just been drafted into the crew of the Enterprise. Would you rather wear a redshirt or a gray coverall?
Helping to set the scene are the Alchemists’ Guildhall (complete with stuffed alligator), one of the many Watch houses, a (working) Clacks tower and, of course, Mad Lord Snapcase’s Cruet set. Looming over the rear is the back of the Theatre. There are also a number of privies to be found. Most of the buildings are scratch-built from card; a number are illuminated and so have internal decoration.
Human figures in Victorian / Edwardian costume are readily available; finding wizards, dwarfs, trolls and other out of the ordinary figures is more problematic. Fortunately, the war-gaming fraternity could supply many of these figures. The Librarian – and the stuffed alligator – were commissioned pieces.
Angst-Lesspork is already famous among model train aficianados, having been featured in the January 2013 issue of Railway Modeller.
Norwood has also done something thematic for the table the layout sits upon when shown in public —
A number of times at exhibitions, people have asked me where the elephants were, that support the “world”. Well I decided that I should attempt to produce some “feet” to be visible below the skirt that hangs at the front of the layout.
Layout on display at LonCon 3 in 2014. Look carefully and you’ll see an elephant foot under the table.
You can take even an imaginary train ride around town in this video, shot with a “keyfob” camera mounted on a flatcar.
Emily S. Whitten, Vice Chair of the 2009 North American DiscWorld Convention, announces:
The North American Discworld Convention is now soliciting bids for the 2011 convention, at which Sir Terry Pratchett has agreed to appear as Guest of Honor, circumstances permitting. Bids are due from interested groups by midnight, March 15, 2010. A decision as to the next hosting city and group will be reached and announced by approximately April 15, 2010.
A convention ad flutters loose from my copy of Instant Message and declares, “The Turtle Moves.” Yes, and says it’s moved to Phoenix over Labor Day Weekend of 2009, where fans will hold The First North American Discworld Convention. Terry Pratchett will be a GoH. What is the right interpretation of this sign? Is another group joining Dragon*con in poaching the traditional (with increasing randomness) Worldcon weekend? Far from it.
Anticipation, the Montreal Worldcon of 2009, takes place almost a month in advance of Labor Day: August 6-10; the identical dates for this year’s Denvention, as a matter of fact. Is it only old fire horses like me who hear “Labor Day” and think it should mean a science fiction convention? Obviously my calendar is blank and I may have to give Discworld a whinny.
Discworld conventions have been held since 1996, never before in North America. Chair Lee Whiteside and Hotel Liaison Mike Willmoth, two leading committee members, have such impressive resumes after working many Westercons, NASFiCs, WFCs and Worldcons that even fans completely unfamilar with past Discworld-themed conventions will have every reason to gallop over to Phoenix for more fun in the desert.