(1) YOU’RE THE TOPS. The Self-Published Science Fiction Competition announced the winner of its 2022 Best Covers poll. Voters said Kirk DouPonce’s cover for Debunked: Volume One was the best among the entries to this year’s edition of the contest.
(2) PROGRESS REPORT. The New York Times says Dragon Con is “Redefining What Nerd Culture Looks Like”.
…Mr. Sherman, who traveled from Lake Charles, La., for Dragon Con, has attended nearly every year since 2008. That first year, Mr. Sherman, a former journalist, took photos of cosplayers he was impressed by. “One of my friends half jokingly asked, ‘Were you the only Black guy there?’” he said. He looked through his pictures and counted about 20 or 30 Black cosplayers. He posted an album on Facebook with all of them and named it: “Proof that I’m not the only one: Black geeks at Dragon Con.”
The Facebook photo album became an annual tradition and eventually morphed into an annual meet-up.
Meet-ups happen at Dragon Con for all types of groups, from Deadpool cosplayers to Trekkies. “If you can imagine it, there’s a photo shoot for it,” Mr. Sherman said. But at the time, there wasn’t one for the Black community, so the Black Geeks of Dragon Con meet-up was born.
The first meet-up in 2015 brought in a little more than 20 people. In the years that followed, Mr. Sherman and his friend and meet-up co-founder David Somuah handed out cards at the con inviting Black cosplayers to join, and word spread.
“We went from 20 to 80, then all of a sudden it just jumped to 200 or 300,” Mr. Sherman said. “In 2019, going through the pictures, we were close to 350 people. You couldn’t see the back of the stairs.”
Angela and Tim Haynes cosplaying as Eddie Munson and a mash-up of LL Cool J and Eleven from “Stranger Things.”Ari Skin for The New York Times
In recent years, Dragon Con has made an effort to broaden its scope. A diversity track has been added to the programming that features panels on cosplay and disability, dealing with hate as a cosplayer, and representation in fantasy media.
(3) AFTER ACTION REPORT. Cora Buhlert delivers her epic analysis of this year’s Hugos in “Some Comments on the 2022 Hugo Award Winners and the Hugo Ceremony in General”.
…There were also no names mispronounced that I noticed – and mine was pronounced correctly, so thank you to Annalee and Charlie Jane – though the hosts forgot to read out Marguerite Kenner, editor of Best Fanzine finalist The Full Lid. There was also some unpleasantness involving Best Semiprozine finalist Strange Horizons, who have a large staff and have long fought for all of them to be listed. The hosts did not read out the entire long list of names, which was agreed upon with Strange Horizons beforehand, but the dramatic pause before “…by the Strange Horizons editorial collective” generated laughter in the auditorium, which may not even have been ill intended, but which nonetheless hurt the Strange Horizons people, especially given the crap they’ve gotten over the years, e.g. last year when many people blamed Strange Horizons for complaining about the (eventually repealed) “only four people plus ones at the Hugo ceremony and reception rule”, even though it was a completely different team that complained. Finally – speaking as someone who’s been there three times now – it is a thrilling feeling to hear your name read out at the Hugo ceremony. Having that thrilling feeling marred by having your name mispronounced, omitted or people laughing about it is not cool. I was still in the finalist Zoom green room with Sonia Sulaiman of Strange Horizons, when Best Semiprozine was announced, and I could tell she was hurt. That said, Annalee and Charlie Jane have apologised by now….
(4) WHAT AM I BID? Heritage is auctioning some of Harlan Ellison’s collection in October: “2022 October 21 Harlan Ellison Comics & Comic Art Signature® Auction #7335”. Thumbnails of the artwork at the link.
(5) 2022 EASTERCON REPORT. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The SF2 Concatenation has just released a convention report on the 2022 UK Eastercon by Arthur Chappell ahead of its seasonal edition.
It was for many of us an emotional reunion with dear friends, with moving tributes to the fans who didn’t make it through the maelstrom, especially poignantly referenced during the opening and closing ceremonies. The former included a very moving presentation by Doug S. on the ravages and toll the CoVID virus has had on fandom since the first ripples of the tragic virus started rolling round the world in December 2019…
(6) A COLD APPRAISAL OF FRANKENSTEIN. Scholar Michael Bérubé is interviewed by PennStater Magazine about his work on an edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankstein that gives new emphasis to the polar mission in the story: “He’s (Still) Alive!”
Q: You mentioned that the actual science is somewhat understated in Frankenstein. What’s interesting to you about how Shelley’s approach to this has aged?
Bérubé: To go back to the Marilyn Butler edition, a lot of her argument relies on the fact that the Shelleys’ personal physician was a leading exponent of materialism—the belief that we’re just matter, there’s nothing that separates humans from animals in that respect. Butler’s reading is that as Shelley got older, she got more conservative—she knew very well the horrified reaction her book produced, and she wanted to take some of the edge off. In some ways I’m just following that: This is about the history of science; this is a question of what life means. Most people treat the polar expedition as basically a framing, just a setup, whereas I think it’s fascinating in its own right.
One of the other questions is, what does it mean to be the first person to achieve something? At the very end of the novel—and this is another thing I love about it—Victor says, “I’ve ruined my life, I should never have opened this Pandora’s box.” He literally gets up off his deathbed on Walton’s ship; the crew is about to mutiny. They know they’re going to die, and some of them already have. And Victor hauls himself up off his deathbed and gives this impassioned speech chastising the crew for being cowards. “Of course this was going to be a dangerous mission—that’s why you took it.” As JFK put it in his 1962 announcement of the Apollo program, “We choose to go to the moon not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” Victor’s pitch is, “You have the chance here to do something glorious. Your names will go down in history.” Well, no they won’t [laughs]. No one’s going to remember the names of the crew.
So I think it’s become clear over the past 200 years that polar exploration is more like space exploration than it is like creating life: It raises questions about the utility and the dangers of boldly going where no one has gone before, but it doesn’t seem to cross any major ethical lines. The creature, by contrast, continues to resonate with us not despite our stunning technological accomplishments since then but because of them: he seems to anticipate debates about in vitro fertilization, about gene editing and genetic engineering … in short, about whether we should be trying to tinker with the stuff we’re made of, and to what end….
(7) SPECIAL INTEREST ADVOCATE. Washingtonian interviews the only lobbyist in Washington dealing with UFOs.“Alien Life: UFO Lobbyist’s Quest to Uncover the Truth”.
On a Tuesday morning in mid-May, Stephen Bassett flipped open his laptop, logged on to YouTube, and watched live-streamed coverage of America’s elected representatives doing something he’d waited years to see. Over the next hour and a half, he stared at his 43-inch LCD monitor and observed stern-faced military officials in a congressional hearing room answer lawmakers’ questions about the unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs—another term for UFOs—that servicemembers had encountered in recent years. As the proceedings got underway, one of the Pentagon higher-ups played recently declassified footage showing a mysterious object darting across the sky. “For too long, the stigma associated with UAPs has gotten in the way of good intelligence analysis,” André Carson, the Democratic congressman from Indiana who chairs the House Intelligence subcommittee that had organized the event, told the audience. “Today, we know better. UAPs are unexplained, it’s true. But they are real.”
For Bassett, this first public congressional hearing on UFOs in more than 50 years was a milestone. As DC’s first registered UFO lobbyist, he’d spent more than a quarter century pleading for lawmakers and the administration to stop snickering at the issue. Yet as he watched official Washington finally take the topic seriously, an uneasy feeling struck him. “It’s that anxiety that you get when you’re getting close to the finish line,” he says, “but it’s still not clear it’s a done deal.”
Though long dismissed as the delusions of science fiction, UFOs have emerged as a serious subject in the nation’s capital….
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1993 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-nine years ago this night on ABC, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman premiered. As much romance as SF, it was lasted less time than I thought it did, just four seasons and eighty-eight episodes.
Casting had the perfect couple in Dean Cain as Clark Kent / Kal-El / Superman and Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane. They had perfect chemistry between the two of them.
It was developed by Deborah Joy LeVine who never developed anything else of a genre nature other the Early Edition series later on. It had six, yes six, Executive Producers including her. All of which got fired after the first season.
The series focuses on the relationship and romance between Lois and Clark as much as the adventures of Clark’s alter-ego, Superman. The DCU villains that appeared here, as far as I can tell, were Metallo, Weatherman, Lex Luthor, Prankster, Metello and Mr. Mxyzptlk. Most showed up in the second season after the Purge following the ending of the first season.
Ratings kept declining throughout the series and, though it was promised to the producers, a fifth season was never done leaving the series on the cliffhanger.
SFBC published C. J. Cherryh’s Lois & Clark: A Superman Novel during the third season. DC produced Lois & Clark, The New Adventures of Superman with by John Bryne and others in the same season.
It carries a bounding eighty-seven percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
The show streams on Amazon and HBO Max.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born September 12, 1897 — Walter B. Gibson. Writer and professional magician who’s best known for his work creating and being the first and main writer of the pulp character The Shadow. Using the pen-name Maxwell Grant, he wrote 285 of the 325 Shadow stories published by Street & Smith in The Shadow magazine of the Thirties and Forties. He also wrote a Batman prose story which appeared in Detective Comics #500 and was drawn by Thomas Yeates. (Died 1985.)
- Born September 12, 1914 — Desmond Llewelyn. He’s best known for playing Q in 17 of the Bond films over thirty-six years. Truly amazing. Live and Let Die is the only one in the period that Q was not in. He worked with five Bonds, to wit Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. Other genre appearances include The Adventures of Robin Hood, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Curse of the Werewolf and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. (Died 1999.)
- Born September 12, 1922 — John Chambers. Makeup artist who worked on the original Trek where he created the Vulcans and molded Spock’s pointed ears. He would also be principal designer of the ape makeup for Planet of the Apes and its sequels. In 1969 he received an honorary Academy Award for those designs, though it would be 1981 when a specific award category for Best Makeup would exist. He also, among other work, was invoked with Munsters, Lost in Space and Other Limits. (Died 2001.)
- Born September 12, 1927 — Freddie Jones. Though he was best known for his role as the showman Bytes in The Elephant Man, he did have some genre including showing up on the original Dune as Thufir Hawat. Other roles included being in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed as Professor Richter, two Dracula films, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, one as Professor Keeley and Son of Dracula as The Baron. He was also in Vampira aka Old Dracula as Gilmore. He was in Krull with a name I refuse to pronounce, Yny. And that’s only up to 1985. Need I say he had a busy career? (Died 2019.)
- Born September 12, 1931 — Bill McKinney. I remember him from voicing a most believable Jonah Hex in the Batman: The Animated Series in the Joe Lansdale penned “Showdown” episode. He’s got genre one-offs in The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, The Lazarus Man and Galatica 1980. She was in the third Back to Future film. (Died 2012.)
- Born September 12, 1942 — Charles L. Grant. A writer who said he was best at what he called “dark fantasy” and “quiet horror”. Nightmare Seasons, a collection of novellas, won a World Fantasy Award, while the “A Crowd of Shadows” short garnered a Nebula as did “A Glow of Candles, a Unicorn’s Eye” novella. “Temperature Days on Hawthorne Street” story would become the Tales from the Darkside episode “The Milkman Cometh”. The usual suspects have decent but not outstanding selections of his works including Oxrun Station, his core horror series. (Died 2006.)
- Born September 12, 1960 — Robert John Burke, 62. He played the second incarnation of Robocop after Peter Weller bowed out from playing the character. He was Donald “Don” Pierce in Limitless, a SF thriller that great reception from everyone, and he was William Anders in From the Earth to the Moon. If you watched Person of Interest, he had the ongoing role of Officer Patrick Simmon. Definitely not genre or genre related, but he played Frank McLaury in Tombstone, one of favorite films of all-time. I’ve only watched it at least a half dozen times.
- Born September 12, 1962 — Mary Kay Adams, 60. She was Na’Toth, a Narn who was the aide to G’Kar in the second season of Babylon 5, and she would show up as the Klingon Grilka in the episodes “The House of Quark” and “Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places”.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Macanudo reveals Spider-Man’s occupational hazard.
- Candorville tries a little experiment with a character newly in the public domain.
- Tom Gauld as a modest suggestion for librarians:
(11) AGENT MOM.
(12) CAN’T KEEP A LID ON IT. In “Humans and Cockatoos Are in an ‘Arms Race’ Over Trash in Sydney”, Gizmodo covers the research.
…Unfortunately for the humans, cockatoos have learned how to defeat some of the simpler measures. But much as the birds are adapting, people are developing counters right back. As the researchers put it, the parrots and people of Sydney seem to be engaged in a sort of innovation “arms race,” though Klump balked at describing it as a full-on war.
“When cockatoos learn to defeat this protection measure (e.g. by pushing off bricks so that they can then open the bin), people in our survey have reported that they increase the efficacy of their protection measures (e.g. by fixing something heavy to the lid, so that it cannot be pushed off). What we have found is that bin protection (and protection types) are geographically clustered and that people learn about them from their neighbors,” Klump said….
(13) A WEE BIT OF HUGO NEWS. AbeBooks’ list “The Hugo Awards: the best science fiction & fantasy books since 1953” has been updated to include the 2022 novel winner. Go forth and buy!
(14) THEY’RE DEAD, JIM. “I Killed Everyone on My Mission to Mars” is Jennifer Billock’s travel report from Space Camp.
What’s the first thing you would say if you were the very first person to step on Mars? I had mine figured out from the start. And when I stepped onto the Red Planet, I let it out: “Welcome to Mars. Let’s colonize this bitch.” I also quickly followed that up with a comment to my crew. “Sorry I killed all of you on the way here.”
As I’m sure you may have guessed, I wasn’t actually on Mars. I was the commander of a mission to the fictional version of the planet as part of an adult Space Camp day program in Huntsville, Alabama. It had been a particularly wild adventure that day, with me leaping around on the moon’s surface, nearly puking everywhere in the multi-axis trainer (or as I call it, the gyro-chair), and then almost immediately killing my entire Mars crew once we got on our shuttle.
Oh, and the night before, I scraped my head on a space capsule in the on-site beer garden, bled everywhere, and had to go to Sick Bay. Needless to say, I’m an amazing pick for commander. And yes, you read that right: Space Camp has a German oompah bar beer garden. It’s like heaven there, folks. Here’s why you should go to adult Space Camp and what missions to do while you’re there….
(15) DO YOU THINK THAT WILL BE ENOUGH? John King Tarpinian located world Halloween cereal headquarters.
(16) LINKS TO WESTERN AND HISTORICAL FICTION AWARDS. [Item by Todd Mason.]
- The Western Writers of America Spur Awards (winners and nominees): https://westernwriters.org/winners/
- The Owen Wister and other awards: https://westernwriters.org/the-owen-wister-award/ (and others accessible in that column)
- The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction (work published in the Commonwealth and Ireland): https://www.walterscottprize.co.uk/about-the-prize/resources/; Winners and shortlists
- The Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Awards and shortlists: http://www.westernfictioneers.com/peacemaker-awards.php; Life Achievement Awards: http://www.westernfictioneers.com/life-achievement-peacemaker-award.php
- The Scott O’Dell Award for YA and children’s historical fiction: https://scottodell.com/the-scott-odell-award; Past winners: https://scottodell.com/the-scott-odell-award#8d2452fb-d02c-4347-b703-bdd13364dc12
- The ARA Historical Novel Prize (ARA is the commercial sponsor) for Australian and New Zealander work: https://hnsa.org.au/the-2022-ara-historical-novel-prize/; “A range of sub-genres are eligible, including historical mystery, historical romance, alternate history, historical fantasy, multi-time, time-slip, and parallel narrative novels.”; 2021 Winners and short/longtlisters; 2020 (the first) Winners and short/longlisters
(17) SO BE GOOD FOR GOODNESS SAKE. Disney revives another franchise for Disney+ — The Santa Clauses.
(18) REINVENTING THE WHEEL. You know that thing people are cautioned against doing? Guess again!Universe Today explains how “Using ‘C-Shaped Wheels,’ This Rover can Climb Over More Challenging Lunar Terrain”.
… To navigate such rugged terrain, the rover uses a unique locomotion system originally designed as the RHex project at the University of Pennsylvania. These wheels allow the rover, which is only the size of an A4 sheet of paper, to traverse much larger obstacles than wheeled rovers in its size class….
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Alan Baumler, Todd Mason, Michael J. Walsh, Arnie Fenner, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]