(1) WILL FANS ENCOUNTER PICKET LINES AT LA CONVENTION? Anime Expo started today in LA under the cloud of a threatened strike by hotel workers. The union has not said when they will walk off the job: “Anime fans face hotel strike threat” in the Los Angeles Times. (An NBC Los Angeles post updated an hour ago does not show that the strike has begun.)
The largest U.S. hotel workers’ strike in recent memory and the largest anime convention in North America are both set to kick off this weekend in the same downtown Los Angeles spot — with all the attendant agitation playing out on social media.
More than 15,000 union workers are seeking higher pay and better benefits and working conditions at 62 hotels in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
They could walk off the job as early as Saturday after their contracts expire.
On Thursday, the largest hotel, the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites, announced it had reached a tentative deal with the union representing its more than 600 employees.
The deal is the first among many that would be needed to avert the planned strike.
Meanwhile, thousands of fans of Japanese pop culture will gather Saturday for the start of Anime Expo, a four-day convocation of people interested in manga art, cosplay and video games with exhibitions and panels at the Los Angeles Convention Center and nearby hotels. Many have spent months hoarding vacation days and cash to trek to Southern California and commune with like-minded people.
The two passionate interest groups met up virtually in recent days, and the results weren’t pretty.
On Reddit, a union organizer with hotel workers’ Unite Here Local 11 kicked off the Ask-Me-Anything discussion by asking, “Did you know hotel workers at many of the properties you might be staying at for AX, such as the JW Marriott Downtown LA, Westin Bonaventure, Downtown Los Angeles Courtyard, Residence Inn Downtown LA, the Ritz Carlton and more, might be on strike?
“This could mean pickets, protests and other actions at hotels that could impact and potentially disrupt the Anime Expo,” wrote AnimeJustice11, the unnamed organizer.
“When workers go on strike, they stop work and walk off the job. If workers go on strike, there might not be anybody taking out the trash, cooking the food or cleaning the rooms. There also may be loud 24-hour picket lines right outside the property. How do you think this would affect the quality of the Anime Expo if you are attending / planning?”
AnimeJustice11 wrapped up with a plea: “I hope most/all of you will stand in solidarity with the potential striking workers and don’t cross picket lines!” The poster also asked those planning to attend Anime Expo to “contact the management and ask if they would negotiate a new contract that meets what workers are asking for.”
Unite Here Local 11 also has reached out to Anime Expo attendees, as well as other groups, with a targeted anime-style advertisement featuring a pink-haired worker carrying a sign reading: “Anime is cool! Disrespecting workers is not!”
Reddit users had many thoughts, including anger at the union for disrupting an expensive and cherished tradition, anger at hotel owners for not giving raises, and anger at one another for attacking the union organizer. Others debated what it meant to cross the picket line…
(2) LIKE SAND THROUGH THE HOURGLASS. Warner Bros. dropped a second Dune: Part Two Official Trailer.
The saga continues as award-winning filmmaker Denis Villeneuve embarks on “Dune: Part Two,” the next chapter of Frank Herbert’s celebrated novel Dune, with an expanded all-star international ensemble cast. The film, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, is the highly anticipated follow-up to 2021’s six-time Academy Award-winning “Dune.”
(3) GRIST FOR THE RUMOR MILL. “Denis Villeneuve Wants To End His Dune Trilogy With A Dune Messiah Adaptation” according to GameSpot.
Fans got a hearty helping of Dune: Part Two yesterday with a wild new trailer, showing everything from Feyd (Austin Butler) in action, to Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) delivering his iconic speech to the Freman. Even though there are only two parts to the Paul and House Atreides narrative, director Denis Villeneuve wants to fans to get a taste of the larger mythos at play with a third Dune film.
Deadline has reported that Villeneuve intends to cap off his Dune trilogy with a much deeper dive into Frank Herbert’s lore of the world of Dune with an adaptation of Dune Messiah. This film would be co-written by Villeneuve and screenwriter Jon Spaihts. Obviously, Warner Bros. Discovery has not yet officially announced active development for Part Three but should Part Two find success like its predecessor, a conclusion should be a no-brainer.
Dune Messiah was the second novel in the Dune Chronicles released in 1969. The book was adapted in the 2003 miniseries Children of Dune–the name of the actual third novel–which included parts of both “Messiah” and “Children.”…
(4) THE CIRCULAR FILE. Camestros Felapton fails to explain “Why did people read The Wheel of Time?” In that he probably has a lot of company.
… I’m happy to dunk on Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books because I too read them, each and every one. I bought some of them as big chunky trade paperbacks as well *AND* I thought they were badly written at the time *AND* realised that the story was going nowhere somewhere around the middle. So really I could rephrase this question as “Why did I read the Wheel of Time?”…
(5) NOT THE SPITTING IMAGE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Since I got some new figures, I also made a new Masters-of-the-Universe toy photo story called “Artistic License” to address the question of why Skeletor and his Evil Warriors created the least convincing He-Man doppelganger ever: “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Artistic License’”.
… As for why Faker looks the way he does, the real world reason is that some Mattel designer forty years ago thought a blue and orange He-Man looked cool. As for the in universe reason, well, here is one potential answer…
… “Behold my new robot doppelganger of He-Man, Lord Skeletor. Those accursed Masters of the Universe will never know what hit them, when we plant this Faker in their midst. And now arise, my Faker.”
“I Am He-Man.”
“Is he not glorious, Lord Skeletor? I daresay he is my best invention yet.”
“Why is he blue?”
“Excuse me, boss?”
“He-Man is not a Gar. So why is he blue?”…
(6) GENRE GENESIS. A paper by Helen de Cruz titled “Cosmic Horror and the Philosophical Origins of Science Fiction” is online at Cambridge Universe Press.
We now live in a universe composed of billions of galaxies. And, for the most part, we rarely give this any thought. We go about our lives as people have done in the past. Still, you might have reflected on the vastness of the universe: perhaps when you visited a planetarium, or watched a documentary, or even looked up at the (probably light-polluted) night sky and felt a dizziness, a vertigo. That experience is cosmic horror, a sense of the sublime that makes you feel both small and insignificant and a part of a huge, interconnected whole. Once we realize the universe is enormous, and that we’re but a tiny speck in that vast world, we need to recalibrate ourselves. We need to find meaning and significance in being the tiny speck we are. As I’ll argue here, science fiction helps us to come to terms with cosmic horror, as the history of philosophy shows. As a literary form, science fiction originated in philosophical speculation about the universe and our place within it….
(7) G.O.A.T. FANTASY MOVIES. You might not be surprised by what’s at the very top of TimeOut’s list of “The 50 best fantasy movies of all time”, but I, for one, was surprised to see what made number three:
3. Onward (2020)
A pair of grieving elf brothers turn to magic to reanimate, for 24 emotional hours, the dad they never really knew. But the spell is broken halfway through, leaving them with, well, half a dad. With only the legs operational and the missing top half flopping around under layers of clothes, the three bluff their way through a quest to find a magical gem and finish the job. Set in a fantastical land populated by evolved cyclops, fauns, mages and all manner of mythical fauna who have switched from magic to mod cons, ‘Onward’ is a cometh-of-age tale that makes playful capital from our habit of turning the past into touristy kitsch.
Magic moment: When Ian listens to a tape of the dad he never knew and you wish you’d remember to bulk-buy tissues.
(8) RR DOES NOT STAND FOR RAILROAD. Dominic Noble is “Talking to George RR Martin About HIS Favorite Book”.
GRRM joins me for this very special episode of Reginald’s Book Club to talk about Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny, which is currently being adapted for TV by Robert Kirkman and Stephen Colbert. I was so nervous doing this I got the name of the book, the name of the author and the name of MY OWN PODCAST wrong, but George was so friendly and chill the whole time I think it came out pretty well.
(9) MEMORY LANE.
2022 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
Mike chose Ray Nayler’s The Mountain in the Sea, which came out last year as our Beginning this Scroll. It’s his only novel, published by MCD.
He’s published considerably more short fiction, most of it in the past three years, though his first published sff story came out in 1996. And he’s written one wonderfully-titled essay, “Not Prediction, But Predication: The True Power of Science Fiction”, which ran in Asimov’s Science Fiction, the May-June 2023 issue.
Our choice was a finalist for the Nebula Award, the Locus Award, and for the LA Times Book Awards’ Ray Bradbury Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction…
NIGHT. DISTRICT THREE of the Ho Chi Minh Autonomous Trade Zone.
The plastic awning of the café streamed with rain. Under its shelter, wreathed in kitchen steam and human chatter, waiters wove between tables with steaming bowls of soup, glasses of iced coffee, and bottles of beer.
Beyond the wall of rain, electric motorbikes swept past like luminescent fish. Better not to think of fish.
Lawrence concentrated his attention instead on the woman across the table, wiping her chopsticks with a wedge of lime. The color-swarm of the abglanz identity shield masking her face shifted and wavered.
Like something underwater …
Lawrence dug his nails into his palm. “I’m sorry—does that thing have another setting?”
The woman made an adjustment. The abglanz settled to a bland construct of a female face. Lawrence could make out the faint outline of her real face, drifting below the surface.
“I don’t usually use this setting.” The oscillations of the abglanz flattened the woman’s inflection. “The faces are uncanny. Most people prefer the blur.”
She brought her chopsticks to her mouth. The noodles sank into the glitchy surface of the digital mask’s lips. Inside was the shadow of another set of lips and teeth.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born July 1, 1891 — Otis Adelbert Kline. Early pulp writer and literary agent whose great claim to fame was a possibly apocryphal feud with fellow author Edgar Rice Burroughs, in which he supposedly raised the latter’s anger by producing close imitations of Burroughs’s Mars novels. Wollheim and Moskowitz would believe in it, Lupoff did not. (Died 1946.)
- Born July 1, 1934 — Jean Marsh, 89. She was married to Jon Pertwee but it was before either were involved in Dr. Who. She first appeared alongside The First Doctor in “The Crusade” as Lady Joanna, the sister of Richard I (The Lionheart). She returned later that year as companion Sara Kingdom in “The Daleks’ Master Plan”. And she’d return yet again during the time of the Seventh Doctor in “Battlefield” as Morgana Le Fay. She’s also in Unearthly Stranger Dark Places, Return to Oz, Willow as Queen Bavmorda and The Changeling.
- Born July 1, 1935 — David Prowse. The physical embodiment of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Ok, it’s been a very long time since I saw Casino Royale but what was Frankenstein’s Creation doing there, the character he played in his first ever role? That he played that role in The Horror of Frankenstein and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Hammer Films a few later surprises me not. He shows up in Gilliam’s Jabberwocky according to IMDB as Red Herring and Black Knights (and no I’ve no idea what that means). Finally he’s the executioner in The People That Time Forgot, a film that’s very loosely based off of several Burroughs novels. (Died 2020.)
- Born July 1, 1942 — Genevieve Bujold, 81. We would have had a rather different look on Voyager if things had played out as the producers wished, for Bujold was their first choice to play Janeway. She quit after a day and a half of shooting, with the public reason being she was unaccustomed to the hectic pace of television filming. What the real reason was we will never know.
- Born July 1, 1955 — Robby the Robot, 68.Yes, this is this official birthday according to studio of the robot in Forbidden Planet which debuted a year later. He would later be seen is such films and series as The Invisible Boy,Invasion of the Neptune Men, The Twilight Zone, Lost In Space, The Addams Family, Wonder Woman and Gremlins. He was also featured in a 2006 commercial for 2006 commercial for AT&T.
- Born July 1, 1964 — Charles Coleman Finlay, 59. His first story, “Footnotes”, was published in 2001 in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction where many of his other stories were published, and which he edited for several years. The Traitor to the Crown series is his best-known work.
- Born July 1, 1981 — Genevieve Valentine, 42. Author of the superb Persona novel and also she scripted a Catwoman series, working with artists Garry Brown and David Messina. Her first novel, Mechanique: A tale of the Circus Tresaulti, won the Crawford Award for a first fantasy novel. She scripted a run of Xena: Warrior Princess, and scripted Batman & Robin Eternal as well.
(11) CAN YOU HEAR THE DRUMS FERNANDO? The Guardian’s Tim Dowling writes, “The board game is back out, and I’m losing again”.
…“We can have a takeaway for supper, but you’ll have to hang around.”
“In that case,” says the youngest, “shall we play this?” He is pointing to a box containing a complicated board game to do with medieval dynasties.
“Yeah, all right,” says the oldest.
“And Dad,” says the youngest, “you’re definitely playing.”
When this box was first opened a few weeks ago, I wrote about two fears: that it may be one of the last times I watched my grown sons sit down to play a board game in our house; and that I had accidentally raised three nerds.
At the time I did not realise the board game would become a Sunday fixture, and that I would be roped into playing against my will. I still don’t know which outcome is preferable.
“I’m new to this,” I say, sitting down. “So this is a practice round.”
“It’s easier if we just play,” says the middle one. “You’ll pick it up.”
I am supplied with a character, Fernando; some territory – the Iberian peninsula; and a number of plastic knights. I am then obliged to select an abiding trait at random.
“Chaste,” I say.
“Chaste is good,” says the middle one, “but it makes it hard to marry.”
He’s not kidding. By the start of the Second Era the middle one has launched a sustained attack on the Papal States – much to the consternation of the youngest one, who reigns there – but, critically, I have still not found a spouse….
(12) THE SMART SET. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This item will be appearing in next season’s (September) SF² Concatenation news page’s science and SF interface section…
Smart clothing – that is, not ‘neat’ but, ‘clever’ clothing – is a minor SF trope. In terms of SFnal clothing, space-suits are positively mundane, but the genre offers much more from the techno-suits of super-heroes to the stillsuits of Dune. Now there is a new, electrically-controlled fabric that can vary its heat – infra-red – transmission that could be used to create clothing with abilities not too dissimilar to, say, those found in Iain Banks’ ‘Culture’. US engineers and applied physicists have created this fabric they call Wearable Variable-Emittance (WeaVE). To make the material flexible, the authors used kirigami principles, which entail cutting a 2D surface and then folding it into 3D patterns. The polymer can either emit heat or provide insulation depending on the voltage applied to it. Here, the voltage needed is really small, less than one volt, so no large batteries are required. The material enables wearers to experience the same skin temperature at ambient temperatures from 17.1°C to 22.0°C: that’s almost a 5°C range. No doubt we will get even better smart fabrics in the future… A brief summary of this research appears in Nature and the primary research is Chen, T-H. et al (2023) A kirigami-enabled electrochromic wearable variable-emittance device for energy-efficient adaptive personal thermoregulation. PNAS Nexus, vol. 2, p1-10.
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. From a year ago, the opening scene of The Batman.
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Jennifer Hawthorne, N., Francis Hamit, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]