(1) THE 8 BILLION BODY PROBLEM. Liu Cixin told the WSJ he’s not as optimistic as he once was. “’Three-Body Problem’ Author No Longer Sure Humankind Would Unite Against Hostile Aliens” reports The Byte.
In his 2008 novel “The Three-Body Problem,” Liu Cixin wrote about nations banding together to deal with a looming alien invasion that would likely result in the end of humanity.
Now he’s not so sure about that unity, Cixin said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. If anything, he said, the coronavirus pandemic shows that we might do the opposite.
“In the past, we used to have an assumption: that if humanity was faced with a collective threat, people would throw away their differences, unite, join forces and overcome the crisis together,” Cixin told the WSJ. “Now I realize that might have been too perfect of a wish. Looking back at the past two years, the pandemic has pushed nations toward more divisions.”…
(2) NEXT FANHISTORY ZOOM SESSION. British fanhistory is highlighted in the next FANAC FanHistory Zoom, set for October 23 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern (7:00 p.m. London).
Keith Freeman and British fan historian Rob Hansen provide a first-hand look at some of the landmark moments of British fandom, from the inside. Keith has been a science fiction fan since the 50s – he was a member of the Cheltenham Circle, a founder of the Reading Science Fiction Club, and is credited with reviving the Order of St. Fantony. He’s a fanzine fan (still active!), a past officer of the British Science Fiction Society (BSFA), and the 1977 winner of the Doc Weir Award.
Among his considerable fannish accomplishments, interviewer Rob Hansen is well known as a historian of British fandom, having published the definitive history Then — Science Fiction Fandom in the UK: 1930-1980. Join us for this interview/discussion and find out about Brumcon, St. Fantony, the SF Society of Great Britain, the Eastercon relationship with BSFA, and more, including perhaps what it’s like to watch an H-bomb explode.
To register, send an e-mail to to firstname.lastname@example.org .
(3) A PEEK AT THE TERMS. Deadline gives a 30,000-foot overview of the deal in “Hollywood Strike Averted As IATSE & AMPTP Reach Deal On New Film & TV Contract”.
…The deal for the new contract – called the Basic Agreement – is now in the books, but negotiations with the AMPTP will continue for IATSE members who work under the similar Area Standards Agreement in major production hubs such as New Mexico, New York, Illinois, Georgia and Louisiana.
More details are to come, but deal points include “improved wages and working conditions for streaming,” 10-hour turnaround times between shifts, MLK Day is now a holiday, “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives,” increased funding of the health and pension plans and a 3% rate increase every year for the duration of the yett-to-be approved contract, among other changes. The AMPTP had wanted to settle the rate increase at around 3% for the first year and then shift it down to 2.5% or even less for the subsequent two years of the contract….
(4) IN DEADLY COLOR. “Why Is Frankenstein’s Monster Green?” asks Mental Floss. He wasn’t always.
In the 203 years since Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein helped shape the horror genre as we know it today, there have been dozens of interpretations of Frankenstein’s Monster. For most of us, the version of the character that immediately comes to mind is the one from Universal’s classic 1931 film: Big green guy with a flat head and bolts in his neck who isn’t much of a talker—which is a far cry from the yellow-skinned, chatty creature Shelley imagined. But if our popular idea of the Monster’s appearance was dictated by a black-and-white movie, why is Frankenstein’s Monster so often depicted as being green?
(5) A PUBLIC CONFESSION. “Lauded Spanish female crime writer revealed to be 3 men” reports MSN.com.
Spain‘s literary world has been thrown into chaos after a coveted book prize was awarded to “Carmen Mola” — an acclaimed female thriller writer who turned out to be the pseudonym of three men.
Television scriptwriters Agustín Martínez, Jorge Díaz and Antonio Mercero shocked guests, who included Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia, at the Planeta awards Friday when they took to the stage to pick up the prize money and reveal the celebrated crime author did not actually exist.
On the website for Mola’s agent, the writer — who has been compared to Italy’s esteemed novelist Elena Ferrante — is described as a “Madrid-born author” writing under a pseudonym in a bid to remain anonymous. The description for Mola on the website also contains a series of photographs of an unknown woman looking away from the camera….
The news stunned many fellow literary figures — and not everyone is thrilled about the news. Beatriz Gimeno, who describes herself as a writer and a feminist — and who was once the director of the Women’s Institute, a key national equality body in Spain — took to Twitter to criticize Martínez, Díaz and Mercero.
In a tweet, Gimeno said: “Beyond using a female pseudonym, these guys have spent years doing interviews. It’s not just the name, it’s the fake profile they’ve used to take in readers and journalists. Scammers.”…
(6) DATA POINTS. In the Washington Post, Donald Lievenson interviews Brent Spiner about his fictionalized memoir Fan Fiction. Spiner explains why his memoir is fictionalized and how the pandemic had him writing much more than he would if there was no pandemic (where his book would be an “as told to” book.( “Brent Spiner, Data from ‘Star Trek,’ discusses his book”.)
Q: It’s a mixed blessing to be associated with a popular character. Leonard Nimoy famously wrote a book, “I am Not Spock,” then years later wrote another, “I am Spock.” Did writing your book help you in coming to terms with your relationship to Data?
A: It is a double-edged sword. The larger part of that sword has been very positive. It’s been a great job. On the other hand, what I was trained to do was to play as many different things as possible, so it has been limiting sort of in that way. I think there are times maybe I haven’t gotten a job because I am so identified with the character. I, frankly, like to think I’ve been typecast as the reason when I don’t get jobs, because the alternative is that I’m just lousy (laughs). But all that being said with relation to character, if I had to have one character that I had to be typecast as, it would be this character. There is a feeling of trust people have in the character that he’s incapable of hurting them. The confusion has been that I am that as well, and clearly, I’m not. But also, because I also got to play so many different things on the show as him, I got to try on the skin of all kinds of different types of humanity. I got to play his brother, his father, his uncle, his ancestors. It turned out to be a role that I was actually able to stretch a bit.
(7) LOGROLLING DAYS. In Debarkle: Chapter 68, Camestros Felapton reaches 2019 and the 20BooksTo50K Nebula ticket: “History Rhymes — Nebulas 2019”.
The group was unsurprisingly called 20BooksTo50K and by 2017 Anderle and Martelle were running a 20BooksTo50K conference in Las Vegas to help aspiring authors make money from self-publishing….
By 2019 the Facebook group had over 26,000 members and was running conferences internationally….
In November 2018 Jonathan Brazee posted a message to the 20BooksTo50K Facebook group encouraging eligible members to take part in the SFWA’s Nebula Awards. At the end of the post was a long list of titles by 20BooksTo50K members that might be suitable works to add. Brazee was quite clear that this was not intended to be a slate but just a means to encourage participation and maybe improve the number of independently published works on the SFWA reading list.
… The post had stated that it wasn’t a slate but the difference between Brazee’s asterisked list and a slate was minimal. In addition four of the six authors from the slate that had ended up being Nebula finalists had also been published recently by LMBPN including Jonathan Brazee, Richard Fox, A.K. DuBoff, R.R. Virdi and Yudhanjaya Wijeratne. Blogger Aaron Pound looked further into the Brazee’s original list and found that 15 of the authors had listed had appeared either in a LMBPN anthology series called The Expanding Universe or had appeared in a non-LMBPN anthology series called Sci-Fi Bridge…
(8) FERGUSON OBIT. BBC producer Michael Ferguson died October 4 at the age of 84. He worked on and directed episodes of Doctor Who, including the first episode to feature the Daleks, shortly after the series began in 1963.
…Working on his first programme as an assistant floor manager – while also holding an actors’ union Equity card – he waved the first Dalek “sucker” arm, resembling a sink plunger, to be seen as it threatened the Time Lord’s companion Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill). The Daleks’ “bodies” were not revealed until the next part of the story.
Then, he became one of the few directors to work with all of the Time Lord’s first three incarnations: William Hartnell, battling a self-thinking computer in The War Machines (1966); Patrick Troughton, taking on the Ice Warriors in The Seeds of Death (1969); and Jon Pertwee, in both The Ambassadors of Death (1970) and The Claws of Axos (1971).
Ferguson gained a reputation for being adventurous and inventive, with angled, “point of view” and silhouetted shots, “jump” ones that ramped up the tension, and characters filmed from below to show them looking down.
Frazer Hines, who played the Doctor’s companion Jamie in the second of Ferguson’s serials, recalled that he would challenge actors in rehearsal to perform a “speed run”, delivering their lines as fast as possible to ensure they knew them thoroughly. “It’s very good for the old brain cells,” added Hines….
(9) MEMORY LANE.
- 1980 – Forty-one years ago at Noreascon Two, Alien would win the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. It was directed by Ridley Scott from the screenplay by Dan O’Bannon off the story by O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett. This would the second Hugo nomination for O’Bannon who was nominated earlier at MidAmeriCon for Dark Star. He’d would win his second Hugo several years later for Aliens at Conspiracy ’87, and be later nominated at Chicon V for Total Recall and Alien 3 at ConFrancisco. A half million audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a horrifyingly great ninety-four percent rating.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born October 17, 1914 — Jerry Siegel. His most famous creation was Superman, which he created in collaboration with his friend Joe Shuster. He was inducted (along with the previously deceased Shuster) into the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1993. I see he edited a magazine called Science Fiction according to ISFDB for two issues in 1932 which was definitely genre. (Died 1996.)
- Born October 17, 1917 — Marsha Hunt, 104. Performer who appeared in both the original versions of the Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits, also appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Too Short a Season” as Anne Jameson, Shadow Chasers and Fear No Evil. She is also the oldest living member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. She was blacklisted by Hollywood in the Fifties during McCarthyism.
- Born October 17, 1921 — Tom Poston. One of his acting first roles was The Alkarian (uncredited at the time ) in “The Mystery of Alkar” episode of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet in 1950. He much later had the recurring role of Mr. Bickley in Mork & Mindy. He also showed up on Get Smart! in the “Shock It to Me! Episode as Doctor Zharko. (Died 2007.)
- Born October 17, 1926 — Julia Adams. Her most famous role no doubt is being in the arms of The Creature from Black Lagoon. She’s also been on Alfred Hitchcock Presents three times, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. The Night Gallery, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The Incredible Hulk and Lost all once. Signed photos of her in her swimsuit on location for Creature are highly collectible and rather expensive these days going by high prices on eBay currently. And the movie poster is rare. (Died 2019.)
- Born October 17, 1934 — Alan Garner, 87. His best book? That’d be Boneland which technically is the sequel to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath but really isn’t though I can’t say why as that’d be a massive spoiler. Oh, and The Carnegie Medal-winning The Owl Service is amazingly superb! There’s a video series of the latter but I’ve not seen it. He’s garnered a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
- Born October 17, 1946 — Bruce McAllister, 75. He’s a superb short story writer as you can see in The Girl Who Loved Animals and Other Stories that Golden Gryphon published originally and which Cemetery Dance has now in an ePub edition along with his three novels. His Dream Baby novel is an interesting if brutal take on the Vietnam War with a definite SF take to it. His Dream Baby novelette was nominated for a Hugo at Nolacon II, and his “Kin” short story was nominated at Nippon 2007.
- Born October 17, 1968 — Mark Gatiss, 53. English actor, screenwriter, director, producer and novelist. Writer for Doctor Who with Steven Moffat, whom Gatiss also worked with on Jekyll. He also co-created and co-produced Sherlock. As an actor, I’ll note he does Vogon voices in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and is Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock. And he played Tycho Nestoris in Game of Thrones.
- Born October 17, 1971 — Patrick Ness, 49. Best known for his books for young adults, including the Chaos Walking trilogy and A Monster Calls. He’s also the creator and writer of the Doctor Who spin-off Class series. And he’s written a Doctor Who story, “Tip of the Tongue”, a Fifth Doctor story. He won The Otherwise Award for The Knife of Never Letting Go, and his Monster Calls novel won both a Carnegie and a Kitschie as well being nominated for a Stoker and a Clarke.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Tom Gauld in The Guardian.
(12) LEVAR’S NEXT JOB. Kenan Thompson plays new NFL coach LeVar Burton in Saturday Night Live’s cold open. I didn’t think it was that funny (although all the points they were making are true enough). The LeVar Burton characterization comes at the 7-minute mark if you want to jump to it.
(13) FOUNDATION AND MOLASSES. Cora Buhlert reviews the fifth episode: “Foundation realises ‘Upon Awakening’ that the story is still moving at a glacial pace”. Beware spoilers.
…I’m sorry, but I just don’t understand the storytelling choices this show makes. Like I’ve said before, I accept that a literal adaptation of the original stories isn’t possible, because stories of people sitting around and talking would not make for very thrilling TV. However, the shows pads out the lean narrative of the original stories with a lot of stuff that’s at best irrelevant and at worst contradicts the story. The show also deals with the fact that the Foundation series takes place over a long period of time (500 years for the original trilogy with the sequels and prequels spanning an even longer period of time) by inserting yet more unnecessary time jumps….
(14) BUT Y? Variety says this show’s run at Hulu is over: “’Y: The Last Man’ Canceled at FX on Hulu Before Season One Finale”.
The news was shared by “Y: The Last Man” showrunner Eliza Clark through her Twitter on Sunday. In her post, Clark thanks FX and the show’s creative team for their partnership on the project. She also expresses hope that “Y: The Last Man” will be able to continue its run at a different network.
“We have learned that we will not be moving forward with FX on Hulu for Season 2 of ‘Y: The Last Man.’ I have never in my life been more committed to a story, and there is so much more left to tell,” Clark wrote. “‘We had a gender diverse team of brilliant artists, led by women at almost every corner of our production… It is the most collaborative, creatively fulfilling and beautiful thing I have ever been a part of. We don’t want it to end.”
(15) IT’S SHOWTIME. “Russian crew wraps trailblazing movie in space, safely returns to Earth” – CNN has the story.
…Peresild and Shipenko traveled to the space station alongside veteran Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov on October 5, encountering a bit of real-life drama — in the form of communications issues — while docking to the space station. Over the course of 12 days, they filmed their movie, “Challenge,” the first feature film shot in space.
The movie will tell the story of a surgeon, played by Peresild, who has to operate on a sick cosmonaut in space, portrayed by Novitskiy, because the cosmonaut’s medical condition prevents him from returning to Earth to be treated. Filming for the movie continued during the crew farewells and hatch closing.
The film is being made under a commercial agreement between Roscosmos and Moscow-based media entities Channel One and studio Yellow, Black and White.
(16) WHO INSPIRED. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Illustrator Elizabeth Fijalkowski did this piece on the Robert Holmes Doctor featured in the 1976 Doctor Who serial “The Brain of Morbius”. Design based on comic artist Paul Hanley!
(17) BAT TRAILER. Warner Bros. dropped a new trailer for The Batman.
Matt Reeves’ “The Batman,” starring Robert Pattinson in the dual role of Gotham City’s vigilante detective and his alter ego, reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne.
(18) THE MITE HAS A THOUSAND EYES. “Incredible Trilobite Fossil Reveals It Had Hundreds Of Eyes” at IFLScience.
A fossilized trilobite dating back 390 million years has revealed some unnerving secrets about the large marine arthropods – they had eyes unlike any other animal ever discovered. What looked to be two distinct eyes, like scientists would expect, were actually large systems of hundreds of individual lenses that all formed their own mini-eyes. That is to say that these animals had hundreds and hundreds of eyes.
Behind each lens were a series of facets anchored by photoreceptors and a network of nerve cells, capturing the light from each before sending it down a central optical nerve to the brain, creating what can only be assumed as an entirely unique way of seeing the world. The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports. …
(19) BREAKTHROUGH, WE CAN NOW DETECT SMALL EXOPLANETS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Small exoplanet, as well as a possibly habitable super-Earth, detected. Large planets orbiting other stars outside our Solar system (exoplanets) are easier to detect than smaller exoplanets. Also large planets around small stars are easier to detect than large planets around large stars: large stars are less affected by the gravity of planets than small stars and one way of detecting exoplanets is to look at the way stars wobble as their planets orbit. But the detection limits have improved and a few years ago we began to detect the first Earth-sized exoplanets.
Now, a collaboration of mainly mainland continental Europeans using the European Southern Observatory, have detected a planet half the mass (about a quarter the size) of Venus orbiting a (small) Red Dwarf (L 98-59) some 34.5 light years away.
If this were not enough, the collaboration has also detected a super-Earth in the system’s habitable zone. More good news, this system lies within the field of view of the forthcoming James Webb telescope and so it is likely we will soon learn more about these exoplanets. (See Demangeon, O. D. S., et al. (2021) https://www.aanda.org/articles/aa/pdf/2021/09/aa40728-21.pdf Warm terrestrial planet with half the mass of Venus transiting a nearby star. Astronomy & Astrophysics, vol. 653, A41.)
(20) PLAY IT AGAIN SAM. “Supernova Déjà-Vu: Astronomers Spot the Same Stellar Explosion Three Times – And Predict a Fourth Sighting in 16 Years” says SciTechDaily.
An enormous amount of gravity from a cluster of distant galaxies causes space to curve so much that light from them is bent and emanated our way from numerous directions. This “gravitational lensing” effect has allowed University of Copenhagen astronomers to observe the same exploding star in three different places in the heavens. They predict that a fourth image of the same explosion will appear in the sky by 2037. The study, which has recently been published in the journal Nature Astronomy, provides a unique opportunity to explore not just the supernova itself, but the expansion of our universe.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge,Joe Siclari, Chris Barkley, Ben Bird Person, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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 Jim Janney.]