(1) KELLEY OBIT. An acknowledged leader of Doctor Who fandom in the U.S., Jennifer Adams Kelley, died today. LA’s Gallifrey One con committee paid tribute on Facebook:
All of us at Gallifrey One today are mourning the loss of our dear friend, and our long-time Masquerade director, Jennifer Adams Kelley, who passed away early this morning at home after a short but fierce battle with cancer.
Jennifer was a titan of American Doctor Who fandom, both locally in the Chicago area and across the country: as former program director & stage manager of our sister events Visions and ChicagoTARDIS; her decades-long involvement in Chicago area Doctor Who fandom, including her participation in the local fan group The Federation since the 1980s (where they created many well-known fan videos such as “Doctor Who and Holy Grail” and “S-A-V-E-W-H-O”); co-author of ATB Publishing’s landmark tome “Red White and Who: The Story of Doctor Who in America”; staff member of the Outpost Gallifrey and Gallifrey Base fan forums (the latter of which she co-founded); and countless contributions to fan communities and publications across America. She was also very active in costuming fandom, participating in and running masquerades and convention events nationwide. She was unable to join us to run our Masquerade this year due to her illness, leading to a last-minute group effort she actively contributed to, to make certain the show would go on.
Our entire fan community has been enriched by Jennifer, and her loss is devastating to so many of us who have called her friend for so long. We will be dedicating next year’s Gallifrey One convention to her memory. Our thoughts and sympathies are with her husband Philip, her daughter Valerie, and their family today.
(2) AMAZONIAN CRITIQUES. Authors continue raising issues about Amazon’s business practices and those who abuse its revenue model.
- Courtney Milan. Thread starts here.
- Courtney Milan again. Thread starts here.
- Tessa Dare. Some interesting data from her, and from the additions and corrections in responding tweets. Thread starts here.
(3) BOMBS AWAY. The Verge, in “Rotten Tomatoes tackles review-bombing by eliminating pre-release comments”, tells about site changes being made in response to the negative campaign against Captain Marvel.
The film-rating aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes has announced it will no longer allow users to comment on or register early anticipation for movies, following a series of coordinated attempts to sabotage the ratings on a few select upcoming films.
The Rotten Tomatoes blog details those changes:
Starting this week, Rotten Tomatoes will launch the first of several phases of updates that will refresh and modernize our Audience Rating System. We’re doing it to more accurately and authentically represent the voice of fans, while protecting our data and public forums from bad actors.
As of February 25, we will no longer show the ‘Want to See’ percentage score for a movie during its pre-release period. Why you might ask? We’ve found that the ‘Want to See’ percentage score is often times confused with the ‘Audience Score’ percentage number. (The ‘Audience Score’ percentage, for those who haven’t been following, is the percentage of all users who have rated the movie or TV show positively – that is, given it a star rating of 3.5 or higher – and is only shown once the movie or TV show is released.)
… What else are we doing? We are disabling the comment function prior to a movie’s release date. Unfortunately, we have seen an uptick in non-constructive input, sometimes bordering on trolling, which we believe is a disservice to our general readership. We have decided that turning off this feature for now is the best course of action. Don’t worry though, fans will still get to have their say: Once a movie is released, audiences can leave a user rating and comments as they always have.
(4) SAYING NO. Emma Thompson quit a movie she wanted to do with a director she loves to work with – the LA Times has the reasons: “Emma Thompson’s letter to Skydance: Why I can’t work for John Lasseter”. Skydance had hired Lasseter just months after he left Pixar and parent company Disney in the face of multiple allegations of inappropriate behavior.
In mid-February, it was reported that the two-time Oscar winner had pulled out of Skydance’s highly touted animation feature “Luck,” citing her concerns about Lasseter’s hiring. According to her representatives, from the moment the hire was announced, Thompson began conversations about extricating herself from the project; she officially withdrew Jan. 20.
In a letter she sent to Skydance management three days later, she acknowledged the complications caused by a star withdrawing from a project, including the effect her decision would have on the director, the rest of the cast and the crew. But in the end, she wrote, the questions raised by the Lasseter hire made it impossible for her to remain in the film.
The full text of the letter is at the linked article. It ends:
I am well aware that centuries of entitlement to women’s bodies whether they like it or not is not going to change overnight. Or in a year. But I am also aware that if people who have spoken out — like me — do not take this sort of a stand then things are very unlikely to change at anything like the pace required to protect my daughter’s generation.
(5) MELON. Hong Kong’s Melon Sci-Fi event, to be held March 23, describes itself as —
An international gathering of leading science fiction writers, acclaimed scientists, media industry experts and fans to discuss what’s next in science fiction, entrepreneurship and the most compelling trends facing our future.
The program boasts a stellar list of talents from East and West, including Jo Walton, Bao Shu, Jeanette Ng, Aliette de Bodard, Rebecca Kuang, Tade Thompson, Regina Wang, Lisa (SL) Huang, and many others.
(6) NOT FAR AT ALL. C.E. Murphy, who lives in Ireland, gives a kindly warning in “A note about Irish distances” —
This is especially for people coming to Dublin 2019:
If an Irish person (or website, for that matter) tells you something is a 10 minute walk, they are almost certainly lying to you.
It’s a well-intentioned lie. They reckon anybody can walk for ten minutes, I think, so if they say it’s ten minutes, well, that sounds grand and not a bother and you can manage that. But if it is actually a ten minute walk, that is a matter of sheer coincidence and should not be used as a measuring stick for other times you’re told something is a ten minute walk.
Usually a ten minute walk is really about 20 minutes. Sometimes it’s 85.
Everything in Dublin is, according to rental ads, no more than a 15 minute walk from city centre or St Stephen’s Green. Everything in Ireland is no more than a comfortable 10 minute walk from a train station.
Honestly, we’d been here for years, trying to figure this and other similar phenomenon out, when it finally dawned on us that broadly speaking, the Irish people, who love a good story, would rather lie to you than disappoint you….
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born February 26, 1918 — Theodore Sturgeon. Damn, I hadn’t realised that he’d only written six novels! More Than Human is brilliant and I assumed that he’d written a lot more long for fiction but it was short form where excelled with more than two hundred stories. I did read over the years a number of his reviews — he was quite good at it. (Died 1985.)
- Born February 26, 1945 — Marta Kristen, 74. Kristen is best known for her role as Judy Robinson, one of Professor John and Maureen Robinson’s daughters, in Lost in Space. And yes, I watched the entire series. Good stuff it was. She has a cameo in the Lost in Space film as Reporter Number One. None of her other genre credits are really that interesting, just the standard stuff you’d expect such as an appearance on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Oh, and she’s still damn sexy.
- Born February 26, 1948 — Sharyn McCrumb, 71. ISFDB lists all of her Ballad novels as genre but that’s a wee bit deceptive as how genre strong they are depends upon the novel. Oh, Nora Bonesteel, she who sees Death, is in every novel but only some novels such as the Ghost Riders explicitly contain fantasy elements. If you like mysteries, highly recommended. Now the Jay Omega novels, Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool are genre, are great fun and well worth reading. They are in print which is interesting as I know she took them out of print for awhile.
- Born February 26, 1957 — John Jude Palencar, 62. Illustrator whose artwork graces over a hundred covers. In my personal collection, he’s on the covers of de lint’s The Onion Girl and Forests of the Heart, Priest’s Four & Twenty Blackbirds and le Guin’s Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea.
- Born February 26, 1963 — Chase Masterson, 56. Fans are fond of saying that spent five years portraying the Bajoran Dabo entertainer Leeta on Deep Space Nine which means she was in the background of Quark’s bar a lot. Her post-DS9 genre career is pretty much non-existent save one-off appearances on Sliders, the current incarnation of The Flash and Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, a very unofficial Tim Russ project. She has done some voice work for Big Finish Productions as of late.
- Born February 26, 1965 — Liz Williams, 54. For my money, her best writing by far is her Detective Inspector Chen series about the futuristic Chinese city Singapore Three, its favorite paranormal police officer Chen and his squabbles with Heaven and Hell. I’ve read most of them and recommend them highly. I’m curious to see what else y’all have read of her and suggest that I read.
- Born February 26, 1977 — James Wan, 42. He’s known originally for directing the Saw horror film franchise, but more recently for Aquaman. He’s been picked to develop the Swamp Thing series on the DC Universe streaming service. He also rebooted the MacGyver franchise.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Free Range thinks it will cost plenty to commute in outer space.
- AI loosely defined, in Brewster Rockit.
- Arriving aliens famously make this request. Over the Hedge offers a good example of when the right answer is “No.”
- Please, Monty, do not use the eggplant emoji to ask for baba ghanoush.
(9) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. BBC asks “Is Japan losing its umami?” (gallery and video; not viewable on small screens.)
Soy sauce is one of the most important ingredients in Japanese cooking, but chances are you’ve never tasted the real thing.
Yasuo Yamamoto has a secret – or more precisely, 68 of them. On a recent morning on the Japanese island of Shodoshima, the fifth-generation soy sauce brewer slid open the door to his family’s wooden storehouse to reveal 68 massive cedar barrels caked in a fungus-filled crust. As he climbed up a creaky staircase into his dark, cobwebbed loft, every inch of the planked walkway, beams and ceiling was covered in centuries’ worth of black bacteria, causing the thick brown goo inside the barrels to bubble. The entire building was alive.
“This is what gives our soy sauce its unique taste,” Yamamoto said, pointing to a 150-year-old wooden barrel. “Today, less than 1% of soy sauce in Japan is still made this way.”
Until 70 years ago, all Japanese soy sauce was made this way, and it tasted completely different to what the world knows today. But despite a government ordinance to modernise production after World War Two, a few traditional brewers continue to make soy sauce the old-fashioned way, and Yamamoto is the most important of them all. Not only has he made it his mission to show the world how real soy sauce is supposed to taste, but he’s leading a nationwide effort to preserve the secret ingredient in a 750-year-old recipe before it disappears.
(10) IF YOU CAN MAKE IT THERE. Joseph Hurtgen reviews “Famous Men Who Never Lived by K Chess” at Rapid Transmission.
Reminiscent of Philip K. Dick’s metafictional The Grasshopper Lies Heavy within The Man in the High Castle, Chess’s Vikram holds his copy of Pyronauts dear. It is the one item of cultural significance that grounds him to his former identity. What are pyronauts? They are those that set fire to things, that destroy the archive. So, then, it is ironic that the item Vikram holds dear is a story about those that destroy artifacts. The immigrants from a different New York City experience a complete cultural dislocation. The entire archive, the background to their lives, is gone as if incinerated in a fire. Though their New York City appears the same as the new one they find at the other side of the trans-dimensional gate, in the new city, they have no history, and with no history, no future.
(11) ARE YOU THAT AUDIENCE? Adri Joy says this flawed book is still a good choice for the right audience: “Microreview [Book]: Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh” at Nerds of a Feather.
By opening the action around the Terra-Two mission, and the tiny complement of students who get onto it from the academic pressure cooker of Dalton academy, Oh sets up an interesting moment to start the story. By this point, all of the characters have spent years in each others’ company to some extent, and while some clearly know each other better than others – there’s a notable divide between Jesse and the crew who were originally selected – we are still reading about relationships that have a great deal of baggage behind them, and the whole that’s handled quite well. At the same time, setting the action at the start of the crew’s 23-year journey makes the distance to the planet insurmountable. I suspect it’s no accident that the title frames Terra-two as a “dream”: a planet that will somehow provide all the answers to an overcrowded, dying earth, packed with natural beauty and already habitable for humans, somehow becoming more and more unreal with every detail we learn that conforms to the way things are on Earth. The fact that this mission seems so dreamlike, and the protagonists feel so underequipped, may be frustrating for readers seeking a more Seveneves-esque tale of human ingenuity in the face of interstellar adversity, but that’s sort of the point: there’s a subtle but increasingly clear message that we are supposed to question the design and realism of this mission, even while the teenagers themselves are fixated on their own destinies and, more practically, surviving long enough to arrive with them.
(12) BRANCHING OUT. This time around Vicky Who Reads connects young readers to works aimed at adults: “If You Liked… #13: Adult Science-Fiction & Fantasy by Women!”
…I picked this specific subset because oftentimes, these books are miscategorized as YA, for numerous reasons. A lot of it is definitely misogyny in both the YA and adult SFF communities, believing that women writing SFF are YA because in these people’s minds, YA is also “lesser” and “less intense” (Which is not true. YA is very valid, and includes a different writing style.)
So anyways, I wanted to both boost some adult fiction work (that have crossover appeal, but are still not YA) by women, and also to maybe provide suggestions for readers who want to transition from YA SFF to adult, but don’t know where to start!
The first comparison is:
Uprooted honestly feels very 1001 Nights to me–women needing to be handed over to an overlord of sorts as payment, and then something interesting happens!
(13) MOONWALKERS. There’s a day left to bid on a “Rare Apollo Reunion Poster Signed by 18 Apollo Astronauts, Including 8 Moonwalkers” at the Nate D. Sanders Auctions site.
Apollo astronauts signed poster, from their 6 July 1986 reunion in Washington, DC. Poster of three children gazing upward at the moon is commemorated by the autographs of 18 Apollo astronauts including 8 moonwalkers: Charles Conrad, Ron Evans, Stu Roosa, Dick Gordon, Charlie Duke, Michael Collins, Walt Cunningham, Jim Lovell, Buzz Aldrin, Don Eisele, Bill Anders, Alan Bean, Jim Irwin, Al Worden, Rusty Schweickart, Alan Shepard, Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt.
(14) OGH WISHES HE LOOKED THIS GOOD. The Chibify site is fun, and I can hardly complain that the results aren’t too close to reality when they are as flattering as this.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Xylophone by Jennifer Levonian on Vimeo explains what happens when a pregnant woman steals a goat from a petting zoo.
[Thanks to JJ, rcade, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Errolwi, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ken Richards.]