Voting has opened for the 2022 Fanzine Activity Achievement (FAAn) awards and will continue through February 25.
To jog voters’ memories about the eligible publications, Nic Farey, FAAn Awards Administrator, has created The Incompleat Register 2021, available at efanzines.com. In it Farey reminds everyone, “A ‘fanzine’, for our purposes, is defined as an immutable artifact, once published not subject to revision or modification. The fanzine might not exist in a physical form. A PDF, for example, is an artifact.”
The award has seven categories:
GENZINE: A fanzine which typically has multiple contributors in addition to its editor(s).
PERZINE: A fanzine which typically has few, if any, contributors other than its editor(s).
SPECIAL PUBLICATION: A “one-shot” fanzine or collection.
FANWRITER: A writer who has work first appearing in a 2021 fanzine.
FANARTIST: An artist who has work first appearing in a 2021 fanzine.
LETTERHACK (HARRY WARNER, JR. MEMORIAL AWARD): Loccer whose responses have appeared in a 2021 fanzine.
COVER: Best fanzine cover of 2021.
Farey has dropped the Website category, which has only ever had two winners, Efanzines for the first eleven years of its existence, and by Fanac.org for the last three.
Anybody with an interest in fanzines is encouraged to vote, no memberships or fees are required.
The winners will be announced at Corflu Pangloss in Vancouver, BC on March 20.
(1) 2021 FAAN VOTING DEADLINE. FAAn Awards Administrator Nic Farey reminds everyone that today is the last day of voting – it closes tonight — March 12 — at midnight Pacific time. Guidelines and the ballot are available in The Incompleat Register 2020 [PDF file]
I’ve been wanting to bring Gil to you for awhile, and had been hoping we’d be able to sneak away for a meal during either Readercon or the Small Press Expo, but neither occurred last year, at least not outside of a virtual space, and both will be virtual again this year. So as you listen, I’d like you to think of yourself as being with us at one of those cons, and tagging along as we head off to chat and chew.
We discussed his surprising (and my unsurprising ) guest with the greatest number of downloads, the advice John Crowley gave him about his potential writing career, how a guy who used to memorize X-Men comics got turned on to Love & Rockets, the way we process the deaths of former guests, the song he wants played at his memorial service, how to get often-interviewed guests not to regurgitate their favorite soundbites, why no comic book movie beats the first Superman, how he became the publisher of every letter Samuel R. Delany wrote in 1984, why during his days reviewing for The Comics Journal readers thought he was the secret identity of another writer, the Italo Calvino quote which has kept him going through the pandemic, and much more.
…To go with its brand-new name, Paper Bytes has initiated a brand new scam: a stable of imaginary literary agents. It’s an unusually detailed endeavor, with actual websites for each agent (albeit not very good ones) that include photos–some stock, some stolen–as well as made-up bios and false claims about who/what they represent. All share the email address @bookliteraryagent.com, which no doubt is convenient for the interchangeable roster of Paper Bytes marketers who inhabit these agent personas, but also makes them easier to track and expose.
I’ll list them all below. But first, How It All Works!…
…How to protect yourself?
1. Know how things work in the publishing world. Real literary agents don’t sell services to potential clients, or refer them to companies that do. Real agents don’t commonly contact writers out of the blue. The warnings at the Writer Beware website can help you recognize non-standard or predatory practices.
The track list for David Bowie’s 1974 album Diamond Dogs offers a couple obvious clues about one source of inspiration: song titles include both “1984” and “Big Brother.” But Bowie didn’t just want to use themes from George Orwell’s 1984 on the record. As Open Culture reports, he initially hoped to turn the 1949 dystopian classic into a full-fledged musical of its own.
https://www.youtube.com/embed/x2xfpMMQIJ8 What form that musical was ultimately meant to take isn’t totally clear. According to Christopher Sandford’s biography Bowie: Loving the Alien, the adaptation would’ve been “a West End musical, with an accompanying album and film.” But in a Rolling Stoneinterview with William S. Burroughs from February 1974—just months before the release of Diamond Dogs—Bowie himself mentioned he was “doing Orwell’s 1984 on television.” It’s possible the project went through several iterations when the “Space Oddity” singer was still brainstorming it. But thanks to Orwell’s widow, Sonia (believed to be the basis for 1984‘s Julia), the musical never progressed past the incubation stage.
“My office approached Mrs. Orwell, because I said, ‘Office, I want to do 1984 as a musical, go get me the rights,’” Bowie explained in 1993, according to David Buckley’s Strange Fascination: David Bowie, the Definitive Story. “And they duly trooped off to see Mrs. Orwell, who in so many words said, ‘You’ve got to be out of your gourd, do you think I’m turning this over to that as a musical?’ So, they came back and said, ‘Sorry, David, you can’t write it.’” Since Bowie had already started “putting bits of it down” in the studio, the surprise rejection forced him to pivot quickly. His ill-fated musical became a concept album with Orwellian overtones.
(5) IT’S NEWS TO SOMEBODY. The publication of Matthew Yglesias’ article “Oh, the intellectual property rights you’ll extend” at Slow Boring has caught up with the already-played-out week-old Twitterstorm. Nevertheless, at the link you can read him make a case about copyright law, triggered by the Dr. Seuss controversy.
…Regardless, under U.S. law, the copyrights last for the duration of their creator’s life plus 70 years — i.e., until 2061.
That’s a big change from how we did things in the Founders’ era, when copyrights lasted 14 years with an option to renew the copyright for an additional 14 years.
Since then, not only has Congress repeatedly extended the duration of copyright terms, they’ve even extended them retroactively, basically preventing Mickey Mouse (created in 1928) or Superman (created in 1938) from ever entering the public domain the way that 19th century characters like Frankenstein1 or Sherlock Holmes have.
I bring this all up because I think it’s relevant policy context for the recent controversy over Seuss Enterprises withdrawing six books from publication that were deemed problematic. Right-wing agitators have responded to this as if it’s the government censoring Dr. Seuss, and so out of solidarity with Dr. Seuss, they are buying non-canceled classics like “Green Eggs and Ham” in droves. But this is just not factual. Dr. Seuss has been dead for nearly 30 years. His heirs — likely these two stepdaughters, though that’s not entirely clear — canceled the books, and now are the ones reaping the financial rewards from the backlash to their own actions….
… Lesure spends hours making sure each book looks unique and regal, but she has to be careful not to use any specific imagery that could land her in trouble.
That’s because the books Lesure crafts contain works of fanfiction, and she’s found an entire community of avid readers looking to turn their unauthorized digital favorites into physical treats.
Nothing about the process is simple. There are “literally hundreds of moments where I could do something wrong and everything falls to shambles,” Lesure, a student who started bookbinding during a gap year in 2019, told The Verge. Her process includes typesetting, redoing the typesetting, doing that again and again until it’s right, printing, folding, sewing, making the cover, and finally putting it all together.
Fanfiction has traditionally been confined to online sites like Archive of Our Own (AO3) and FanFiction.Net, but some of the most prolific artists within the space have found a way to help people enjoy their favorite titles in new ways: binding the stories into physical novels designed to read better and stand out on bookshelves. The crafts have helped bring some of the most popular unofficial stories set in Harry Potter, Star Wars, and other universes onto shelves where they can sit right alongside their authorized counterparts.
…Adrian Benepe, the former New York City Parks Commissioner and current head of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, sees “creeping Blade Runner syndrome” everywhere, from the clogged skies over Manhattan to the subways, which he rides to work every day from his home on the Upper West Side.
“They’re empty,” Mr. Benepe said. “I’ve been alone many times at rush hour. It’s eerie as hell.” He also finds the movie prescient in its depiction of a world saturated by intrusive, omnipresent advertising.
“Places in New York that used to not have advertising now have ads,” he said. “You can’t get away from it. It’s in the subways, it’s on the streets, it’s on barges. You never stop being assailed.”
Giant screens are nothing new, of course. But New York’s streetscape had been permeated as never before with twitchy, adhesively catchy LEDs, a trend that has only accelerated during the pandemic, with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announcing last summer the addition of 9,000 screens broadcasting “Covid-relevant safety information.”
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
March 12, 1927 –On this day in 1927, Metropolis premiered in Germany. It was directed by Fritz Lang. It was written by Thea von Harbou in collaboration with Lang. It stars Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel, Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Brigitte Helm. The film’s message is encapsulated in the final inter-title of “The Mediator Between the Head and the Hands Must Be the Heart.” In 2001 the film was placed upon UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, the first film so distinguished. It is considered one of the greatest films ever made, and has a 92% rating among audience members at Rotten Tomatoes.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
March 12, 1879 — Alfred Abel. His best-known performance was as Joh Fredersen in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. It wasn’t his only genre as Phantom, a 1922 German film, was fantasy, and my German is just good enough for years I studied it to see how much of work could be considered genre or genre adjacent. (Died 1937.) (CE)
March 12, 1886 — Kay Nielsen. Though he’s best known for his work with Disney for whom he did many story sketches and illustrations, not least for Fantasia and The Little Mermaid be it thirty years after his death, I’d be remiss not to note his early work illustrating such works as East of the Sun and West of the Moon, Hansel and Gretel and Andersen’s Fairy Tales. (Died 1957.) (CE)
Born March 12, 1911 – Edmund North. Major in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II. Served a term as President of the screen branch of the Writers Guild of America. A score of movies; co-winner of the Best Screenplay Oscar for Patton; for us, screenplay for The Day the Earth Stood Still – which, despite its staggering difference from Bates’ “Farewell to the Master”, I think a classic. Coined Klaatu barada nikto. (Died 1990) [JH]
March 12, 1914 — John Symonds. Critic of Alistair Crowley who published four, yes four, books on him over a fifty year period starting in the Fifties: The Great Beast, The Magic of Aleister Crowley, The King of the Shadow Realm and The Beast 666. Needless to say the advocates of Crowley aren’t at all happy with him. Lest I leave you with the impression that his only connection to our community, he was a writer of fantasy literature for children including the feline magical fantasy, Isle of Cats with illustrations by Gerard Hoffnung. (Died 2006.) (CE)
Born March 12, 1916 – Richard Dorson, Ph.D. Pioneering and possibly great folklorist – thus our neighbor; pioneering because, in his day, commercial and even arguably artistic success of retellings like Davy Crockett and inventions like Paul Bunyan were clouding the mind. Coined urban legend and fakelore. General editor, Folktales of the World. Two dozen books, including a 1939 one on Crockett; Folk Legends of Japan; African Folklore. “Suspicious of attempts by other disciplines –anthropology, sociology, and psychology, among others – to co-opt folk culture for their own … purposes…. emphasized the necessity for the accurate collection and documentation of folk materials” (quoted from this). (Died 1981) [JH]
March 12, 1925 — Harry Harrison. Best known first I’d say for his Stainless Steel Rat and Bill, the Galactic Hero series which were just plain fun, plus his novel Make Room! Make Room! which was the genesis of Soylent Green. I just realized I’ve never read the Deathworld series. So how are these? See OGH’s post on the Alex Cox animated version of Bill, the Galactic Hero here. (Died 2012.) (CE)
March 12, 1933 — Barbara Feldon, 88. Agent 99 on the Get Smart series. Other genre credits include The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and reprising her character on the short-lived follow-up to this series, Get Smart, done twenty years later. She didn’t have that much of an acting career though she did show up in the pilot of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. (CE)
Born March 12, 1936 – Virginia Hamilton. National Book Award, Newbery Medal (first black to win it), Hans Andersen Award, Wilder Award. Amer. Lib’y Ass’n King-Hamilton Award named for her (and Coretta Scott King). Eight novels (including Willie Bea and the Time the Martians Landed), thirty shorter stories, four collections for us; twoscore books all told. (Died 2002) [JH]
March 12, 1952 — Julius Carry. His one truly great genre role was as the bounty hunter Lord Bowler in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. – oh, but what a role it was! Over the course of the series, he was the perfect companion and foil to Bruce Campbell’s Brisco County, Jr. character. He did have one-offs in The Misfits of Science, Earth 2, Tales from the Crypt and voiced a character on Henson’s Dinosaurs. (Died 2008.) (CE)
Born March 12, 1955 – Jim Mann, F.N., age 66. Living in Pittsburgh, hard-working member of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n) for whose NESFA Press he has edited a dozen books including The Compleat Boucher and The Rediscovery of Man (Cordwainer Smith). Chaired Boskone 25 (with wife Laurie Mann) and 47. Fan Guest of Honor (with LM), ArmadilloCon 27. Fellow of NESFA (service award). [JH]
Born March 12, 1963 – David B. Coe, Ph.D., age 58. A score of novels, as many shorter stories (some under another name). Crawford Award for LobTyn Chronicle (trilogy). Reviews and Robots called Time’s Children Best Fantasy Novel of 2018. Interviewed in Strange Horizons, Teleport. “We … construct our worlds twice…. for ourselves [and] again … digestible and entertaining and unobtrusive, not to mention elegant, poetic, even exciting…. all the necessary material – and not an ounce more…. [after we] have unraveled their mysteries … decided which elements … are most important to our stories.” [JH]
Born March 12, 1971 – Rob St. Martin, age 50. Six novels, one novelette, anthology Ages of Wonder (with Julie Cznerneda). Has read Pride and Prejudice, The Phantom Tollbooth, A Tale of Two Cities, Moby-Dick, Romeo and Juliet, Curious George. [JH]
(12) GUARDIAN ANGLE. Lisa Tuttle has a new installment of “The best recent science fiction and fantasy – reviews roundup” at The Guardian in which she reviews Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley; Birds of Paradise by Oliver K Langmead; The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey; A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel; and A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine.
…The battered fragments of corroded brass were barely noticed at first, but decades of scholarly work have revealed the object to be a masterpiece of mechanical engineering. Originally encased in a wooden box one foot tall, the mechanism was covered in inscriptions – a built-in user’s manual – and contained more than 30 bronze gearwheels connected to dials and pointers. Turn the handle and the heavens, as known to the Greeks, swung into motion.
Michael Wright, a former curator of mechanical engineering at the Science Museum in London, pieced together much of how the mechanism operated and built a working replica, but researchers have never had a complete understanding of how the device functioned. Their efforts have not been helped by the remnants surviving in 82 separate fragments, making the task of rebuilding it equivalent to solving a battered 3D puzzle that has most of its pieces missing.
Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the UCL team describe how they drew on the work of Wright and others, and used inscriptions on the mechanism and a mathematical method described by the ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides, to work out new gear arrangements that would move the planets and other bodies in the correct way. The solution allows nearly all of the mechanism’s gearwheels to fit within a space only 25mm deep….
NASA is targeting Thursday, March 18 for the second hot fire of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s core stage at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
After performing tests to demonstrate that a recently repaired liquid oxygen pre-valve was working, the team has continued to prepare the core stage, its four RS-25 engines, and the B-2 test stand for the second hot fire at Stennis. Later this week, the team will power up the core stage again and do a final check of all its systems. Then, on March 16, two days before the test, they will power up the stage, starting the clock for the second hot fire….
… This is in many ways a very different book than the previous book, Down Among the Dead. Reading it in quick succession after the second book might give some emotional whiplash, it certainly is a gear shift. It’s much more like the first book of the Farian War trilogy, There Before the Chaos, in the sense that it builds up to a big set piece finale of a conflict. Unlike that first book, though, this book is much more about the action beats.
This shows the range and power of the author across the three books, and sets them apart from the first trilogy as well, which is more adrenaline filled….
…This novella constantly shifts from plot point to plot point, that kept me on my toes without unmooring me into confusion. The craft involved with implementing poetic language that benefits the atmosphere, pacey scenes that never lose focus, and characters that I felt like I knew inside out by the story’s conclusion, deserves kudos. Mostly because the novella juggles a small, insulated cast of characters with subterfuges and violence that impact other kingdoms. Fireheart Tiger is like an expansive web that leaves the reader in the center of it, while also skillfully and pithily letting them know of all its disparate parts.
Quarantinewhile… In “Hey, maybe don’t do that” news, Japanese scientists are experimenting on 100-million-year-old bacteria that wake up from their slumber when brought to the surface and provided with food.
(18) PIPING AT THE GATES OF DAWN. And speaking of Lovecraft –
[Thanks To John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, rcade, Nic Farey, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Michel Toman, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
By Rob Jackson: If you haven’t yet voted for the 2021 Fanzine Activity Achievement Awards, you have till midnight Pacific Standard Time on Friday March 12th to do so. PLEASE VOTE! Voting is open to anyone with an interest in fanzines; you do not have to be a member of Corflu or anything else. This year’s Awards Administrator, Nic Farey, has made it as easy as possible by listing in one zine all fanzines and contributors known to him, along with a ballot and voting instructions, here.
Because this year’s con has been held back to the autumn, it would be rather late to delay the 2021 FAAn Awards till then. Once the votes have been counted, the results will be announced online in a ceremony held by Zoom video call on Sunday March 28, at 8 p.m. BST UK time (3 p.m. US EDT, or midday US PDT).
Jerry Kaufman will MC the proceedings. Rob Jackson will moderate the call and send out the Zoom link a few days in advance, along with instructions on how the ceremony will be run. As well as the FAAn Awards, this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award will be announced, and the Corflu Business Meeting will nominate the site for the 2022 Corflu, which we hope will return to the usual spring timetable.
If you want to be there, email Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the distribution list. You don’t have to be a Corflu member to be on the call and watch; just email and ask!
(1) WHATESNEW INTERZONE EDITOR. The PS Publishing newsletter (which I haven’t seen) announces Ian Whates is taking over the editorial reins of Interzone, Jonathan Strahan confirms. Whates follows Andy Cox, who has run the UK zine for years.
(2) WHO WROTE THE BOOK. Joyce Reynolds-Ward in “Writing the Revolution” argues that sff helped fuel the mindset behind yesterday’s debacle in DC.
…For every nuanced, mindful, well-thought-out version of Writing the Revolution, there are at least three or four crudely sketched out wish-fulfillment fantasies that are no more realistic than a first-person-shooter video game or their real-life variant, the run-and-gun tacticool classes that are nothing more than jumped up paintball, that allow the participants to fantasize that they are Real Warriors. Hell, I see several of these books pop up every day on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, either through ads or assorted promotional groups. And they’re churned out to fulfill a reader demand for romantic notions about what Rebellion or Revolution really is.
(Dare I mention Star Wars here? Um, maybe not.)
Couple that sort of romanticized view of revolution and warfare with the sort of political polemic dominating social media over the past five years (Um. Longer) and you end up with events like January 6th, 2021.
You end up with an angry mob seeking to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power because they’ve been fed lies about the legitimacy of the 2020 election and who view themselves as akin to their fictional heroes.
And the intersection of the two has created the foundation for that idealized conceptualization of revolution….
(3) FAAN AWARDS BALLOT AVAILABLE. Nic Farey, FAAn (Fanzine Activity Achievement) Awards Administrator, has published The Incompleat Register [PDF file] as a voters’ guide. The nominating ballot is within, and votes must be received before midnight PDT, Friday March 12, 2021. Voting is open to anyone with an interest in fanzines. Farey cautions that the Register —
should not be considered to be a definitive list of what you can and cannot vote for. My sources are primarily efanzines.com, Guy Lillian’s listzine ‘The Zine Dump’ and also paper zines personally received. As I can’t possibly be aware of everything, all votes received will be counted in good faith. A “fanzine”, for our purposes, is defined as an immutable artifact, once published not subject to revision or modification. The fanzine might not exist in a physical form. A pdf, for example, is an artifact.
And he adds —
You do NOT have to be a member of Corflu or anything else for that matter.
You do NOT have to have read or received any minimum number of fanzines to vote, although of course we encourage you to check out the contenders.
2. A BAD SCI-FI MOVIE INSPIRED OCTAVIA BUTLER TO START WRITING.
It was a 1954 movie called Devil Girl from Mars, which Butler saw when she was about 12 years old, that ignited the future author’s interest in science fiction. “As I was watching this film, I had a series of revelations,” Butler said during a 1998 talk at MIT. “The first was that ‘Geez, I can write a better story than that.’ And then I thought, ‘Gee, anybody can write a better story than that.’ And my third thought was the clincher: ‘Somebody got paid for writing that awful story.’ So, I was off and writing, and a year later I was busy submitting terrible pieces of fiction to innocent magazines.”
A genre polymath who does crime, horror, and SFF, she brings a delightfully pulpy twist to everything she writes, whether it’s mashing up fantasy or science fiction with mystery or penning weird westerns. (Her website is here.) But if you give one book a shot…
First off, I cannot get over this cover. (The cover for the sequel, A Theft Most Fowl, is also gorgeous.) Second, we have winged people following a Phoenix goddess, with a caste system that’s laid out as kind of birds. And our main character, Prentice Tasifa, is a Hawk, gifted with the supernatural ability to see things others can’t. And then it’s a well written procedural mystery where Prentice has to hunt down a serial killer.
…Moviemaking fans of other fantasy franchises have complex relationships with the companies that own them, and “Star Wars” fan films do walk a legal tightrope. Disney asks that they be clearly marked, not raise money through crowdfunding, omit copyrighted media, and not profit from ticket sales or online advertisements. The company doesn’t appear to discriminate between fan films made by professionals and those made by amateurs, provided they follow its rules. “There is a point where you do have to protect your copyright,” Hale said.
Not everybody complies. An Indiegogo campaign to finance “Kenobi” got help from James Arnold Taylor, who has voiced the character in “Star Wars” animated television shows. (He also plays the villain in “Kenobi.”) Others have turned to Kickstarter to crowdfund their work.
And some who try to observe the rules have run into trouble. Warner/Chappell, which shares some “Star Wars” music rights with Lucasfilm, in 2019 claimed copyright over a Darth Vader fan film, “Shards of the Past,” posted on YouTube. A torrent of onlinecriticism followed, accusing the company of seeking to profit from fan work. Lucasfilm ultimately intervened to lift the claim. (Hale said she could not comment about copyright claims.)
As technology stretches the capabilities of fan storytelling, questions of propriety could become even thornier. Severalfilms by Peter Csikasz, a Hungarian university student, combine digital assets from official “Star Wars” video games with original motion-capture animation. Csikasz said the games’ developers were aware of his work, even as fan-made “Star Wars” video games have been repeatedly shutdown.
As these films grow technically more artful, they have also grown more expensive. A two-minute animated movie can cost more than $5,000 to produce. The budget for “Kenobi” approached $100,000, Satterlund said. (Costly expectations can be prohibitive: last month, Ortiz indefinitely suspended his project after failing to raise $20,000 through crowdfunding.)
Disney’s rules mean many fan movies are financial losses, but a well-executed production can drive YouTube subscribers, attract sponsors for future work or open doors to professional opportunities. “It greases the wheels,” Satterlund said of his short. “It’s helped get me in the room to talk to somebody.”
Martha Wells’ cranky, TV-binging Murderbot, the star and narrator of four superb novellas before this novel, made for a perfect quarantine companion. Her SecUnit killing machine has favored a solitary existence ever since it hacked its way to sentience. It feels safest hunkered down in a storage bay, mainlining its favorite shows, far removed from the messy emotions and motives of people – a preference that only became more relatable as 2020 stretched on….
(8) MODEL CITIZEN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Financial Times Reader.] In a December 31 piece in the Financial Times about the failures of polling, Christine Zhang and Courtney Weaver note a prediction Isaac Asimov made in 1955.
In a fictional America, elections are decided by Multivac, a supercomputer that requires only the input of one ‘representative’ voter to statistically model the outcomes of thousands of nationa1, state, and local contests. This is the 2008 that science fiction author Isaac Asimov portrayed i his 1955 short story “Franchise,” published three years after Univac, one of the earliest commercial computers, successfully predicted Dwight Eisenhower’s landslide victory on US television network CBS.
Asimov’s dystopian democracy has not yet materialized. As it turns out–particularly in the two most recent US presidential races–the electorate is not so easy to reliably predict. Yet it is not from a lack of trying.
…When Narinder S. Kapany was in high school in the 1940s in Dehradun, an Indian city in the Himalayan foothills, his science teacher told him that light travels only in straight lines. By then he had already spent years playing around with a box camera, and he knew that light could at least be turned in different directions, through lenses and prisms. Something about the teacher’s attitude, he later said, made him want to go further, to prove him wrong by figuring out how to actually bend light.
By the time he entered graduate school at Imperial College London in 1952, he realized he wasn’t alone. For decades researchers across Europe had been studying ways to transmit light through flexible glass fibers. But a host of technical challenges, not to mention World War II, had set them back.
He persuaded one of those scientists, Harold Hopkins, to hire him as a research assistant, and the two clicked. Professor Hopkins, a formidable theoretician, provided the ideas; Dr. Kapany, more technically minded, figured out the practical side. In 1954 the pair announced a breakthrough in the journal Nature, demonstrating how to bundle thousands of impossibly thin glass fibers together and then connect them end to end.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born January 8, 1891 – Storm Jameson. Suffragette, took part in the Women’s Pilgrimage. World War II led her to recant pacifism. Four novels and a shorter story for us; forty other novels, novellas, criticism, history, memoirs. (Died 1986) [JH]
Born January 8, 1908 — William Hartnell. The very first Doctor when Doctor Who firstaired on November 23rd, 1963. He would be the Doctor for three years, leaving when a new Showrunner came on. He played The Doctor once more during the tenth anniversary story The Three Doctors (aired 1972–73) which was the last thing he filmed before his death. I scanned through the usual sources but didn’t find any other genre listing for him. Is that correct? (Died 1975.) (CE)
Born January 8, 1926 – Bob Pavlat. Co-founder of WSFA; chaired Disclave 4-5. Among his fanzines, Bobolings, Contour. With Bill Evans, the monumental Evans-Pavlat Fanzine Index. Had the good taste to marry Peggy Rae McKnight; Big Heart (our highest service award) given to both; after his death she found no one worth remarrying for sixteen years. Appreciations here. (Died 1983) [JH]
Born January 8, 1942 – Stephen Hawking, Ph.D., F.R.S. Physically active in college, coxed a rowing crew; in graduate school contracted Lou Gehrig’s disease, with which he lived, defying all, for fifty years. Fellow of the Royal Society. Lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences – although an atheist; as Pope John Paul II said, “Both believing scientists and non-believing scientists are involved”. U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom. A score of other substantial awards. Masterly communicator of science, e.g. best-seller A Brief History of Time. Appeared on Star Trek (The Next Generation), Futurama, The Big Bang Theory; foreword to The Physics of ”Star Trek”; five George’s Secret Key novels with daughter Lucy Hawking. (Died 2018) [JH]
Born January 8, 1945 – Nancy Bond, age 76. Newbery Honor and Tir na n-Og Award for A String in the Harp. Two more books for us, five others. Lived in Boston, Concord, London, and Borth. “Each of my books has a firm geographical setting.” [JH]
Born January 8, 1947 — David Bowie. First SF role was as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth. He next shows up in The Hunger, an erotic and kinky film worth seeing. He plays The Shark in Yellowbeard, a film that Monty Python could have produced but didn’t. Next up is the superb Labyrinth where he was Jareth the Goblin King, a role perfect for him. From that role, he went on to being Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ, an amazing role by the way. He was in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me as FBI Agent Phillip Jeffries, a role which was his last role when he appeared later in the Twin Peaks series. He also played Nikola Tesla in The Prestige from Christopher Priest’s novel. Ok, what did I am leaving y’all to mention? (Died 2016.) (CE)
Born January 8, 1954 – Sylvie Germain, Ph.D., age 67. Six novels for us translated into English; two dozen others, biography, a children’s book, essays. Prix Femina, Moncrieff Prize, Prix Goncourt des Lycèens, Prix mondial Cino del Duca. [JH]
Born January 8, 1977 — Amber Benson, 44. Best known for her role as Tara Maclay on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her post-BtVS genre credits are scant with a bit of work on Supernatural, a web series called The Morganville Vampires and, I kid you not, a film called One-Eyed Monster which is about an adult film crew encountering monsters. She is by the way a rather good writer. She’s written a number of books, some with Christopher Golden such as the Ghosts of Albion series and The Seven Whistlers novel which I read when Subterranean Press sent it to Green Man for review. Her Calliope Reaper-Jones series is quite excellent too. As an audiobook narrator her credits include works by Seanan McGuire and John Scalzi. (CE)
Born January 8, 1979 — Sarah Polley, 42. H’h what did I first see her in? Ahhhh she was in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen! Let’s see what else she’s done… She’s been in the animated Babar: The Movie, Existenz, No Such Thing (which is based very loosely on Beowulf), Dawn of the Dead, Beowulf & Grendel (well sort of based on the poem but, errr, artistic license was taken) and Mr. Nobody. (CE)
Born January 8, 1983 – Michael Ziegelwagner, age 38. Fifty short stories, e.g. “On the Unreality of Our Forests”, “Bee, Wasp, Bumblebee, Fish”, “New Rules for the Robot Car”. Mostly in German. [JH]
Born January 8, 1965 — Michelle Forbes, 56. Best remembered as Ensign Ro Laren in Star Trek: The Next Generation, she also showed up in the Battlestar Galactica: Razor film as Admiral Helena Cain, and the pilot of Warren Ellis scripted Global Frequency as Miranda Zero. She played Maryann Forrester on True Blood as well. (CE)
(11) FREUDIAN SPACE. Stephen Colbert makes a couple of (possibly NSFW) genre references in this installment of “Quarantinewhile…” on The Late Show.
Jigsaw Puzzle 1000 Pieces for Adults: This collage of vintage sci-fi magazine covers is nearly 28? across. Our thick cardboard construction and high-quality paper laminate makes for a durable and beautiful puzzle image. Includes puzzle image insert to help you complete the puzzle without the box image.
(13) FAME ON THE MENU. Here’s another of those food places that gives celebrity names to its fare. The Atomo minimart in Los Angeles:
jean luc batard
made with fresh brewed earl grey, oat milk and a touch of agave. make it so.
a moist vanilla cake with almond and rum notes, bedazzled with rainbow sprinkles and frosted with a vanilla butter cream. make everyday your birthday.
The oldest light in the universe is that of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). This light was formed when the dense matter at the beginning of the universe finally cooled enough to become transparent. It has traveled for billions of years to reach us, stretched from a bright orange glow to cool, invisible microwaves. Naturally, it is an excellent source for understanding the history and expansion of the cosmos.
The CMB is one of the ways we can measure the rate of cosmic expansion. In the early universe, there were small fluctuations of density and temperature within the hot dense sea of the big bang. As the universe expanded, the fluctuations expanded as well. So the scale of fluctuations we see in the cosmic microwave background today tells us how must the universe has grown. On average, the fluctuations are about a billion light-years across, and this gives us a value for the rate (the Hubble parameter) as somewhere between 67.2 and 68.1 km/sec/Mpc….
Sci-fi author Michael Moorcock has published a dizzying array of books since getting his start editing a Tarzan fanzine when he was still a teenager. In addition to his extensive literary career, Moorcock has also had some pretty praiseworthy experiences in the world of rock and roll including having played banjo for Hawkwind (as well as writing lyrics for the band) and penning three songs for Blue Öyster Cult. However, as excellent as Mr. Moorcock is, this post is about a man whose art adorned countless covers of books by Moorcock and others in the genre of fantasy and sci-fi for years, Bob Haberfield. If you are of a certain age you will very likely remember being in a store (especially in the UK) catching yourself staring right at one of Haberfield’s many contemplative psychedelic book covers that were staring right back at you…
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Random lessons Learned From Making Films” on Vimeo, director David F. Sandberg offers lessons he’s learned from making his three sf/fantasy films, including the complexity of having multiple actors in a scene (he had 14 in one scene in SHAZAM, and camera angles had to be plotted for all of them) and why good sound is more important in a film than good images. BEWARE SPOILERS.
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, Rob Thornton, John Hertz, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “Tsunduko” Dern.]
Fanzine Activity Achievement (FAAn) Awards Administrator Nic Farey has released the “2021 FAAn Awards Voting and Announcement Ceremony Schedule (Plague Version)” with next year’s plans for fanzine fandom’s own honors.
Typically the awards have been announced after the Sunday banquet at the Corflu convention, which for 2021 was due to be held in March in Bristol, UK. [Corflu Concorde] However, due to we-all-know-what, the convention won’t take place at that time The organizers are committed to an in-person rather than a virtual event, with the exception of the awards announcement (and consideration of future bids for the con).”
Eligible for the awards will be work first published in 2020. Voting is open to anyone with an interest in fanzines.
The timeline will be:
Saturday January 9, 2021
On, or perhaps even a little before this date, The Incompleat Register 2020 will be issued, containing the ballot form and voting instructions, as well as listings of qualifying zines, fanwriters, fanartists, loccers etc known to the administrator. (See below for further explanation.) This marks the start of the official voting period.
Friday March 12 2021 (midnight PST)
Voting ends. Ballots submitted must be received by this point, by whatever means they are sent.
Sunday March 28, 2021 (time TBD)
Awards ceremony, which will occur online (via Zoom or similar means), hosted by Jerry Kaufman, after which the “results issue” of TIR containing full voting numbers will be distributed.
The Incompleat Register. Apart from the official ballot, this is also a voters’ guide listing the fanzines and contributors for 2020 that Nic Farey is aware of, and hence will inevitably be “incompleat”. Voters are in no way restricted to the contents of these lists – all votes received will be taken in good faith.
Ballot categories are: Best Genzine; Best Perzine; Best Special Publication/One-shot; Best Fanwriter; Best Fanartist; Best Letterhack (the Harry Warner Jr. Award); Best Fanzine Cover; Best Fanzine-related Website.
(1) GRIND IT OUT. Cat Rambo’s latest Cat Chat is an interview with David Steffen of the Submission Grinder.
If you’re not familiar with the Submission Grinder, it’s a web utility that many genre writers spend a lot of time staring at: https://thegrinder.diabolicalplots.com/ I thought it would be interesting to talk to David about how the Grinder came about and what it does.
(2) THE NARRATIVE. Constance Grady, in “The false link between Amy Coney Barrett and The Handmaid’s Tale, explained” on Vox, says the rumor that People of Praise, the charismatic Catholic group Amy Coney Barrett belongs to, was the basis for The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t true and Margaret Atwood has not only denied it, but says she can’t currently say which groups were the basis for the “handmaids” because her papers are at the University of Toronto library and she can’t access them because the library is closed because of Covid-19.
To be absolutely clear: People of Praise is not an inspiration for The Handmaid’s Tale, and the group does not practice sexual slavery or any of the other dystopian practices Atwood wrote about in her novel. But the argument over whether or not the two are connected reflects the deeply contentious atmosphere in which Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court occurs — and the immense symbolic weight The Handmaid’s Tale carries in American popular culture…
…Her archive of work and research is at the University of Toronto, where she can’t currently access it due to Covid-19 restrictions. But she’s on the record as going through her Handmaid’s Tale archives for journalists plenty of times in the past, and during those interviews, she’s always cited People of Hope, a different Catholic charismatic spinoff that calls women handmaids.
(3) NEW SFWA BLOG EDITOR. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) have selected C.L. Clark as the new SFWA Blog Editor. The position of Blog Editor was previously held by Todd Vandermark, who stepped down earlier this past summer.
Clark graduated from Indiana University’s creative writing MFA. She’s been a personal trainer, an English teacher, and an editor, and is some combination thereof as she travels the world. When she’s not writing or working, she’s learning languages, doing P90something, or reading about war and [post-]colonial history. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in FIYAH, PodCastle, Uncanny, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Now she’s one of the co-editors at PodCastle. The first novel in her upcoming trilogy is The Unbroken (Orbit, 2021).
“Todd Vandermark has done years of wonderful work and is moving on to work on his own projects. SFWA is grateful that he’s been a rock of stability for so long. Going forward, I am very excited to have C.L. Clark coming aboard to edit and curate SFWA’s website content,” SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal said. “Her experience as an editor and writer make her the perfect choice to nurture fresh new voices in the nonfiction side of the genre. I look forward to seeing how she shapes the blog during her tenure.”
The Blog Editor provides oversight and direction regarding articles published on SFWA’s blog. This critical position is responsible for soliciting and publishing online content to support SFWA’s goals of informing, supporting, promoting, defending, and advocating for writers of SF/F.
“I’m thrilled to be joining the SFWA team and so excited to bring the SFFH community helpful articles that reflect the diversity of our community while also addressing the systemic issues within it,” said Clark. “I’m committed to making sure the blog is a great resource for writers at all stages of their career, and is especially welcoming to writers in the early stages. I’m looking forward to seeing new pitches!”
The Sunbird loses contact with Earth while circumnavigating the Sun. Initially, the three men on board assume that a solar flare knocked out their communications. Only after making contact with another space vessel do they learn the truth: whatever happened to them cast their ship across time and space.
The human society of the future arose, as so many societies of the future do, from the ashes of the past. Catastrophe swept away the old order, including all men. Human society is now exclusively female. The crew of the Sunbird are the first men seen since the rise of the current civilization. How can these curious relics be integrated into modern society?
Like many other organizations, the Sunburst Award has been affected by the Covid-19 shutdown. As a consequence, the Sunburst Award Society is announcing a hiatus in its awards program for the coming year. The Sunburst Awards Society members plan to use this time to re-imagine the most effective means available to them for continuing to highlight the stellar work done by Canadians in the field of speculative literature.
Since its inception, the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic has raised the public’s awareness of works of speculative literature, and rightfully honoured deserving works, through its prestigious awards program. Over two hundred and twenty-five works have been acknowledged for their contribution to the arts in Canada, and thirty-eight truly outstanding authors have also benefited from monetary recognition.
Members of the Sunburst Board extend their thanks to their members, their jurors, the publishing community, authors and readers for their support over the last twenty years.
The Sunburst Award also administers the Copper Cylinder Award, which went on hiatus in 2019 and has yet to resume activity.
(6) IT’S A SECRET. 20020, the sequel to Jon Bois’s 17776, is here. New chapters every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Secret Base, September 28 through October 23. Here’s the first installment:
…Fairy tales, we are made to believe, are not for queers. Cishet culture’s magic trick of making itself seem natural, inevitable and universal depends in part on the ubiquity and repetition of fairy tales throughout our lives. We are told these stories of compulsory heterosexuality from cradle to grave—and even though everyone knows they are just fantasies, their enchantments are so seductive that it is difficult to resist their charms and not wish we could all live the fairy tale.
The fairy tale realm is the perfect place for the shifting, resisting, transformative and hard-to-pin-down cultures of LGBTQ folks. Ignore the happily-ever-after endings that imply a kind of blissful stasis that goes on and on forever. The wonder-filled, strange and surprising worlds of fairy tales have the potential for a kind of queer enchantment. Don’t let all those ever-after weddings fool you: Fairy tales are the perfect environment for LGBTQ folks and queer desires…
…Rolling Stone asked me to participate in this year’s project, a request I accepted without hesitation. I was happy to be part of a project that stretched back to the original 1987 issue that was so important to me as a teenager. As I began to assemble my ballot of 50 albums, I came to the quick realization that my decades of listening, list-making, and reading have drastically changed how I view lists and canons. I no longer think of them as some definitive word being passed down from on high or some definitive historical document but rather a reflection of how the pop music community views the past.
Looking at the new Rolling Stone list of 500 Greatest Albums, it’s striking to see how the times have changed. The most obvious seismic shock is how Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band is no longer the Citizen Kane of pop. It’s been dethroned from the top spot, pushed all the way to number 24, with Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On taking its slot. What’s Going On has been floating in Rolling Stone‘s Top 10 since 1987, the same year where it made it into the Top Five on The World Critics List masterminded by Paul Gambaccini. In other words, What’s Going On has been acknowledged as a consensus classic for decades, so it’s not shocking to see it at the top of the list. The shocks arrive within the guts of the poll, where it becomes clear that the rock & roll era has come to an end….
(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
September 2000 — Twenty years ago at Chicon 2000, Galaxy Quest, a DreamWorks film, would win the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. It would beat out The Matrix (which lost by just three votes), The Sixth Sense, Being John Malkovich and The Iron Giant. It was directed by Dean Parisot from a screenplay by David Howard and Robert Gordon who worked off the story by David Howard. It’s considered by many Trekkies to the best Trek film ever made.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 28, 1897 – Mary Gnaedinger. Edited Famous Fantastic Mysteries and its companions Fantastic and A. Merritt’s Fantasy Magazine. Conducted “The Readers’ Viewpoint” in FFM and “What Do You Think?” in FN. May have been a Futurian. (Died 1976) [JH]
Born September 28, 1909 – Al Capp. His wildly popular comic strip Li’l Abner was made a Broadway musical and a motion picture; it was read by 70 million in the U.S. when the population was 180 million. It had fantastic elements: Evil Eye Fleegle, the Shmoos, the Bald Iggle. Capp spoke at NYCon II the 14th Worldcon. (Died 1979) [JH]
Born September 28, 1913 – Edith Pargeter, O.B.E. Two novels for us, four shorter stories; other work under this name; perhaps her detective fiction under another name about a medieval monk, Brother Cadfael, is best known. EP was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to Literature. (Died 1995) [JH]
Born September 28, 1930 – Lívia Rusz. (Hungarian-style her name would be Rusz Lívia; Rusz is the family name.) Cartoonist, illustrator, sometimes including fantastic elements e.g. Csipike the dwarf (with Fodor Sándor, or as we’d write, “Sándor Fodor”). Illustrated The Hobbit; here is her cover (in Romanian), here is an interior. (Died 2020)
Born September 28, 1938 – Ron Ellik. You can see his fanzine Fanac (with Terry Carr; fanac = fan activity) here; it won a Hugo. Rick Sneary called him the squirrel for his chatter; he cheerfully adopted it; cartoons appeared. Lived, among other places, in Los Angeles and Berkeley. Hitch-hiked from L.A. to New York for NYCon II the 14th Worldcon. TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate; his trip report was The Squirrel’s Tale. Served in the Marines. Under another name, wrote a Man from U.N.C.L.E. novel, The Cross of Gold Affair. (Died 1968) [JH]
Born September 28, 1950 – William Barton, 70. A dozen novels, thirty shorter stories. Reviews in SF Eye, interviewed there too (with co-author Michael Capobianco). Acts of Conscience won a special Philip K. Dick Award citation; he later served a term a a judge. [JH]
Born September 28, 1950 — John Sayles, 70. I really hadn’t considered him a major player in genre films but he is. He’s writer and director The Brother from Another Planet and The Secret of Roan Inish; andhe wrote the scripts of Piranha, Alligator, Battle Beyond the Stars, The Howling, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Clan of the Cave Bear and The Spiderwick Chronicles. (CE)
Born September 28, 1956 — Kiran Shah, 64. A dwarf (and yes that’s relevant) who’s been in Superman, Superman II, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Dark Crystal , Return of the Jedi, Legend , Aliens, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Sign of Four. He stunt doubled for Elijah Wood as Frodo and Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins. He’s got two Who appearances, first as Emojibot 1 in “Smile” and as the mysterious unnamed figure In “Listen”, both Twelfth Doctor stories. (CE)
Born September 28, 1963 — Greg Weisman, 57. Writer who’s best remembered for Gargoyles, Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice. He also scripted some of Men in Black: The Series and Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles. He also wrote children’s novel World of Warcraft: Traveler, followed by a sequel, World of Warcraft: Traveler – The Spiral Path. Children’s novels in the Warcraft universe? Hmmm… (CE)
Born September 28, 1982 — Tendai Huchu, 38. Zimbabwean author who’s the editor along with Raman Mundair and Noel Chidwick of the Shores of Infinity zine. He’s also written a generous number of African centric stories of which “The Marriage Plot” won an African Speculative Fiction Society Nommo Award for African Speculative Fiction for Best Short Story. The latest issue of Shoreline of Infinity (Issue 18, Summer 2020) is available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)
Born September 28, 1986 — Laurie Penny, 34. They are the writer of one genre novella to date, “Everything Belongs to the Future“, published at Tor.com, and a generous number of genre short stories. They were a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer at Worldcon 75 won by Ada Palmer. “Vector at Nine Worlds: Laurie Penny”, an interview with them by JoWalton is in Vector 288. (CE)
(11) CORFLU CONCORDE. The 2021 fanzine fans’ convention, Corflu Concorde, has posted its first progress report on the official Corflu website. The con is planned for March 26-28 in Bristol, UK. Rob Jackson is the Chair.
The FAAn Awards Administrator will be Nic Farey. (Mothers, shield your children!)
Jackson notes provisions are being made for alternate timings for the con “if — as is very possible indeed — we have to postpone from the original date.” A decision about timing will be in PR2, which will be published before Christmas.
…Writing about mathematics presents some special challenges. All science writing generally amounts to explaining something that most people don’t understand in terms that they do. The farther the science is from daily experience, the tougher the task. When it comes to mathematics, its “objects” of study are hardly objects at all. In his famously heartfelt if somewhat dour memoir A Mathematician’s Apology, the mathematician G. H. Hardy describes mathematicians as “makers of patterns.” While all sciences depend on the ability to articulate patterns, the difference in mathematics is that often it is in the pattern in the patterns, divorced from any context at all, that are in fact the subject.
None other than Winston Churchill was able to tell us how it feels to have tower of mathematical babble transformed to a stairway to understanding: “I had a feeling once about Mathematics—that I saw it all. Depth beyond depth was revealed to me—the Byss and Abyss. I saw—as one might see the transit of Venus or even the Lord Mayor’s Show—a quantity passing through infinity and changing its sign from plus to minus. I saw exactly why it happened and why the tergiversation was inevitable, but it was after dinner and I let it go.” Let’s assume it wasn’t just the whiskey talking.
It’s hard to remember now, but there was a time when Game of Thrones couldn’t afford to stage a battle. For all its groundbreaking, world-building ambition, the HBO fantasy drama’s 2011 debut season struggled to populate even modest crowd scenes on its $6 million-per-episode budget. Yet going into the show’s sophomore year, GoT producers were faced with the challenge of depicting one of saga author George R.R. Martin’s most colossal events: the Battle of the Blackwater, the climax of his second Song of Ice and Fire novel, A Clash of Kings.
…George R.R. Martin: We had a director who kept saying, “Cut this! Cut that! I can’t make the day.” I kept removing elements and it was getting to the point where it was getting as bad as the jousting tournament.
And then, just a few weeks before filming, the director had an unexpected family medical emergency and had to drop out. “I’d done quite a lot of work prepping that episode,” the director said. “Very sadly, I had an illness in the family and I had to leave. I knew I was leaving them with a difficult time, but it was absolutely unavoidable.”
Now the production had another tough problem. After all their pleading and negotiation with HBO for the money and latitude to stage a climactic battle, they were less than a month from shooting and didn’t have a definitive plan or a director.
Bernadette Caulfield (executive producer): That was my first year on the show and probably my first fight with David and Dan. They were like, “Oh, let’s get so-and-so.” I said, “Ninety percent of this is action. We need somebody who really knows action. It’s not easy. We should really look at Neil Marshall.”
David Benioff: Neil did Centurion and Dog Soldiers, movies where the guy is doing an incredible amount of really impressive action on a very thin budget.
Bernadette Caulfield: And other directors kept being mentioned and I kept saying, “I’m telling you, we need an action director!” Then David calls me up. At the time we didn’t know each other that well. And he goes: “Okay, Bernie, we’re going with your idea to hire Neil.”
I swear to God, my stomach dropped. I’m like, “Wait, my idea? This is a community decision!” I hung up the phone and I thought, Shit. Now it’s my idea. I’m responsible for this guy doing our first battle.
Neil Marshall (director): I was aware of Game of Thrones when season one was happening. I thought, This is really my kind of thing, and had my agent contact HBO and say, “If there’s any chance, I’d like to be able to direct an episode.” Their response was like, “We have our directors, thank you very much.”
Then a year or so later on a Saturday morning, I got an emergency call from Bernie to come and fix a situation that, from what I gathered, was a bit out of control. She asked if I would like to direct an episode. I was like, “Absolutely!” I’m thinking this will be in few months’ time. Then she said, “It’s on Monday morning and you’ve got one week to plan.”…
(14) GET STARTED ON YOUR HOLIDAY SHOPPING. Time Travel Mart offers a Robot Toupee. Know anybody who needs one?
They have lots of amusing novelties. Consider the Pastport:
Whether heading to Pangaea or the future Moon Colony, no time traveler would dare go without their Pastport. Only documentation officially recognized by the Intertemporal Travel Commission.
Travel stamps may be obtained whenever travel to era is approved. Watch social media for era approval stamps.
Several liquid bodies have been found under the south pole of Mars, according to a major new study.
The findings give extra credence to previous research that suggested there could be a large saltwater lake underneath the Martian surface, the researchers claim – and also led to them discovering a number of other wet areas.
The findings could be key in the search for alien life on the planet, the researchers note, given life as we know it requires liquid water to survive.
They will also be key to “planetary protection” work that ensures that humanity doesn’t contaminate other planets with life from Earth during missions to explore them.
…The discovery was made using MARSIS, or the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding, which is onboard the Mars Express spacecraft sent by the European Space Agency to orbit around Mars.
Future moon explorers will be bombarded with two to three times more radiation than astronauts aboard the International Space Station, a health hazard that will require thick-walled shelters for protection, scientists reported Friday.
China’s lander on the far side of the moon is providing the first full measurements of radiation exposure from the lunar surface, vital information for NASA and others aiming to send astronauts to the moon, the study noted.
A Chinese-German team reported on the radiation data collected by the lander — named Chang’e 4 for the Chinese moon goddess — in the U.S. journal Science Advances.
(17) A DOLLAR SHORT. The Space Review’s Dwayne Day looked at the 12 reality shows that claimed to send the winner into space and explained why they all turned into vaporware. “Reality bites”.
…Of course, this is Hollywood, where production companies announce all kinds of plans, some of them much more solid than others, where often the announcement of a project does not mean that the project is about to happen. The article contained this bit of information: “The series will be taken out soon, with a global streaming platform and a broadcast partner in each country, including the U.S., explored as distribution options.”
“Taken out” is Hollywood jargon for “go looking for somebody to pay us to do this.” And when it comes to space-based reality television, lots of proposals like this have been “taken out” before, giving the term a more ominous meaning. In fact, by one count, this is now the twelfth time that somebody has attempted to create a reality TV show with a spaceflight as the prize.
Around 20 years ago, there was the first of a long string of announced reality television shows that would culminate in a flight into space for a lucky winner. The one, or at least the first one that became public, was “Destination: Mir” proposed in 2000 by Mark Burnett, the producer of numerous successful reality television shows, most notably “Survivor.” Burnett wanted to fly the winner of a reality show competition to the Russian space station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft. NBC even announced that the show would be on its 2001 schedule. After the Mir space station was deorbited, Burnett renamed the show “Destination: Space,” featuring a flight to the International Space Station instead. The reputed price tag for the show was $50 million. Burnett’s project never made it to television….
(18) INSATIABLE. Pac-Man, the iconic arcade game from the 1980s, turns 40 this year. To celebrate, the video game now enters the world of virtual reality.
(19) BRACKETT OUT OF CHANDLER. K A Laity, in “Classic Noir: The Long Goodbye (1973)”, comes up with a bunch of reasons to make you want to find the movie and watch it – even though I don’t remember it being all that good!
I read the novel so long ago (back in my L. A. days so looooong ago) I could only remember the basics of the story. There were probably more of them in the original script by the legend Leigh Brackett, but Robert Altman’s style of filmmaking always left room for improvisation and Elliott Gould—unlikely to be most director’s ideal choice to play Phillip Marlowe—works well here.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “After Earth Pitch Meeting” on YouTube, Ryan George notes that the 2013 Will Smith film is set in a future Earth where there’s no oxygen even though there are plenty of trees and animals, and how creatures can smell human fear in a world where humans haven’t lived for a thousand years.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, N., Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, JJ, Olav Rokne, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, John A Arkansawyer, Todd Mason, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
… Audible sources confirmed to PW that the company currently has no plan to move forward with the Captions program beyond its limited pilot with public domain works for students. Further, Audible officials said the company has in fact decided not to include any copyrighted works in the Captions program without securing permission, regardless of whether or not the parties are AAP members—though the company was careful to stress that they’ve not formalized that decision with any party outside of this litigation.
(4) SFWA READINGS. There will be two chances to hear Jasmine Gower, Corry L. Lee, and Carolyn O’Doherty read
from their work when the Pacific Northwest’s SFWA Reading series visits Seattle
and Portland in April. Full details at the links.
The Pacific Northwest is home to a Tardis-Full of Science Fiction and Fantasy writers, a fact celebrated every quarter with the Pacific Northwest Reading Series. These free quarterly events provide the Northwest Science Fiction and Fantasy community a chance to gather, network and enjoy readings from local and visiting authors in Portland and Seattle.
(5) PRESSED DOWN AND OVERFLOWING. In The Full Lid – 7th February 2020, Alasdair Stuart dives into Starfleet’s long dark night of
the soul on Picard in “Admiral Clancy Regrets.” He takes a look at the
first part of Big Finish’s relaunch of Adam Adamant and he talks PodUK
and The Tundra Project. He also signal boosts colleague Jason Pitre’s new RPG Palanquin, season 3 of the new radio adventures
of Dan Dare and Sandra Odell’s Oddfellow Creations.
Adam Adamant Lives! Again!
Regular readers of The Lid will know my fondness for audio drama in all it’s forms and TV drama in all its oddest forms. It’s a surprise then to admit this is my first exposure to legendarily odd short-run series Adam Adamant. However, this is by far the best possible introduction to the show.
Written by Guy Adams, it’s a whip-smart, fiercely clever and deeply kind modification of the original idea. Adam is an Edwardian adventurer, who finds himself in ’60s London. Confused and traumatized, he falls under the care of Georgina Jones, a doctor and private detective. Played with clenched teeth aplomb and Paul Darrow’ian elegance by Blake Ritson, Adam is a surprisingly convivial, and on occasion cheerfully violent man. He lived to protect the country in the past and does so again now. Just… on more of a level playing field than he ever thought…
(6) THE WILD WILD CHILD. Stoney Emshwiller told
Facebook readers about a childhood experience inspired by trying to imitate
I was a big fan of The Wild Wild West as a kid and thought it was super cool James West had a fancy rig which would launch a derringer from his sleeve into his hand. So at about 11-ish years old, I went up into my dad’s well-stocked attic workshop and crafted one for myself.
Not having a derringer, I used the only “weapon” around, which was an X-Acto knife. The final result was impressive, involving an elastic band, a trigger device, a holder for the X-Acto knife, and a rail-like track for it to slide along which I’d carefully fashioned of sheet metal. It worked like a charm: when I straightened my arm, the blade would shoot from my sleeve into my hand.
Worked great until the second try, when I forgot to bend back my wrist. The blade rocketed out and imbedded itself into the palm of my hand.
I still have the scar today. Oops.
(7) BEAN OBIT. Actor Orson Bean died February 7 when struck and killed by a car and fell, only to be hit by a second car.
He was 91. SYFY Wire says fans will remember him as the voice
of two Hobbits — he voiced both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins in the Rankin/Bass animated TV
Return of the King
in the late 1970s. The complete soundtrack of the former is available on YouTube.
Bean appeared in a number of films,
including Being John Malkovich and Miracle
on 34th Street (1959 TV movie). He made hundreds of appearances on TV game
shows and talk shows. The New York Times once described him —
“Mr. Bean’s face comes wrapped with a sly grin, somewhat like the expression of a child when sneaking his hand into the cookie jar,” The New York Times noted in a review of his 1954 variety show, “The Blue Angel.” It said he showed “a quality of being likable even when his jokes fall flat.”
In 1964 he co-founded the Sons of
the Desert, an organization dedicated to comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver
Hardy, with chapters around the world.
(8) CONWAY OBIT. Kevin Conway
of a heart attack February 5 at the age of 77. His
first major film role was as Roland Weary in Slaughterhouse-Five (1972). On TV he guest starred as
a clone of Kahless the Unforgettable in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
His best-known film role probably
was Sgt. Buster Kilrain in the 1994 movie Gettysburg.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 9, 1994 — Cyborg Cop was released on VHS. (Cyborg Cop II was released in selected theaters on this date.) It was directed by Sam Firstenberg and written by Greg Latter. It starred David Bradley, John Rhys-Davies, Todd Jensena and Alonna Shaw. Rufus Swart was the Cyborg. As you might expect, it was not well received. Halliwell’s Film Guide said it had “a violent, cliché-ridden plot.” Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 20% rating. You can watch it here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 9, 1935 — R. L. Fanthorpe, 85. I’ve never heard of him before stumbling upon him on ISFDB but I’m including him as he was a pulp writer for UK publisher Badger Books during the 1950s and 1960s during which he wrote under some sixty pen names. I think he wrote several hundred genre novels during that time but no two sources agree on just how many he wrote. Interestingly nothing is available by him digitally currently though his hard copy offerings would fill a wing of small rural library. He’d be perfect for Kindle Unlimited I’d say.
Born February 9, 1936 — Clive Walter Swift. His first genre appearance was as Snug in that version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Several years thereafter he was Dr. Black in “A Warning to the Curious” (based on a ghost story by British writer M. R. James). Then he’s Ecto in Excalibur. He shows up next in the Sixth Doctor story, “The Revelation of a The Daleks” as Professor Jobel. (Died 2019.)
Born February 9, 1940 — David Webb Peoples, 80. Screenwriter of Blade Runner, Ladyhawke, Leviathan, and Twelve Monkeys which is not a full listing. He’s also been writing for the Twelve Monkeys series .
Born February 9, 1942 — Marianna Hill, 78. Doctor Helen Noel in the excellent “Dagger of The Mind” episode of the original Trek. (This episode introduces the Vulcan mind meld.) she also had roles on Outer Limits (in the Eando Binder’s “I Robot“ story which predates Asimov’s story of that name), Batman (twice as Cleo Patrick), I-Spy, The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible and Kung Fu (ok the last one has to be least genre adjacent).
Born February 9, 1951 — Justin Gustainis, 69. Author of two series so far, one being the Occult Crimes Unit Investigations series which he’s written three superb novels in so far, and the other being the Quincey Morris Supernatural Investigations series which has seven novels and which I’ve not read yet. Who’s read the latter series?
Born February 9, 1956 — Timothy Truman, 64. Writer and artist best known in my opinion for his work on Grimjack (with John Ostrander), Scout, and the reinvention of Jonah Hex with Joe R. Lansdale. His work with Ostrander is simply stellar and is collected in Grimjack Omnibus, Volume 1 and 2. For the Hex work, I’d say Jonah Hex: Shadows West which collects their work together. He did do a lot of other work and I’m sure you’ll point out what I’ve overlooked…
Born February 9, 1960 — Laura Frankos, 60. Wife of Harry Turtledove. She’s written a baker’s dozen of genre short stories. She’s more known for her Broadway history column “The Great White Wayback Machine” and has also published one mystery novel, Saint Oswald’s Niche. Her Broadway Quiz Book is available on all digital platforms.
When Hurricanes Katrina and Rita swept through Louisiana in 2005, cities like Houston, Dallas, and Baton Rouge took in hundreds of thousands of displaced residents—many of whom eventually stayed in those cities a year later. Where evacuees have moved since hasn’t been closely tracked, but data from those initial relocations are helping researchers predict how sea level rise might drive migration patterns in the future.
Climate experts expect some 13 million coastal residents in the U.S. to be displaced by the end of this century. A new PLOS One study gives some indication of where climate migrants might go.
“A lot of cities not at risk of sea of level rise will experience the effect of it,”says Bistra Dilkina, a computer scientist at the University of Southern California, who led the study. “This will require an adjustment in terms of the [increased] demand on the cities’ infrastructure.”
Dilkina and her team used migration data from the Internal Revenue Service to analyze how people moved across the U.S. between 2004 and 2014. Movement from seven Katrina and Rita-affected counties to unaffected counties between 2005 and 2006 was categorized as climate-driven migration. Researchers then combined that analysis with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) projections on the effects of sea level rise on coastal counties, and trained a machine-learning model to predict where coastal populations will move when forced to leave their homes—and how that, in turn, affects the migration of non-coastal residents.
(12) ON TO 4D. Something else
that increasingly features in SF novels was covered in a recent Nature — “The New 3D Printing”, Research advances are changing the
image of a once-niche technology, including…
The field’s future could also lie in ‘4D printing’ — 3D-printed objects that also have the ability to perform some mechanical action, akin to artificial muscles. Often, these incorporate shape-memory polymers, materials that can react to changes in their environment such as heat or moisture
…Writers from Pliny the Elder to Herodotus raved about the qualities of Judean dates, including their long shelf-life, which allowed them to be transported far and wide. “Herod even used to present them to the emperor in Rome every year,” said Sallon.
But the plants suffered under centuries of unrest; by the 19th century the plantations had disappeared.
Writing in the journal Science Advances, Sallon and colleagues report how they planted 32 Judean date palm seeds retrieved from a variety of archaeological sites across the Judean desert. These include Masada and caves at Qumran – shelters best known for concealing the Dead Sea scrolls but which were also used by refugees in ancient times.
“I spent hours and hours in the archaeology department picking through the best seeds,” said Sallon. “A lot of them had holes in where insects had bored through or [they had] fallen apart, but some were really pristine and I picked the very best ones.”
Six of the seeds sprouted. The team radiocarbon-dated fragments of the shells left after germination to reveal that Hannah and Adam date to somewhere between the first and fourth centuries BC. Judith and Boaz were dated to a 200-year period from the mid-second century BC, and Uriel and Jonah were dated to somewhere between the first and second centuries AD….
Though no expert coder, a government concentrator uses bots to show an agency its website vulnerability.
Max Weiss ’20 never intended to hack the government. His discovery of how easy it is to do — outlined in a new paper he authored — came of the best of intentions.
Weiss, a government concentrator from Cincinnati, was doing advocacy work for state expansion and defense of Medicaid last summer, a project that combined his interests in public policy and health care. While studying the ways in which various advocacy groups can influence pending legislation, he learned how valuable such groups find the federal government’s comment period, when members of the public are invited to weigh in on new or pending legislation via online forms. He realized how easy it would be to manipulate the results using bots — computer programs that generate automated responses — to flood the sites with fake responses for or against any proposal.
The 21-year-old detailed his findings in a recent Technology Science piece, “Deepfake Bot Submissions to Federal Public Comment Websites Cannot Be Distinguished from Human Submissions.”
“We were spending a lot of time and energy getting high-quality comments from constituents,” said Weiss. “I wanted to make sure these federal agencies understood the potential consequences of their policies, and I had the idea that I could use a bot and submit a lot of fake comments.”
He paused, recognizing that corrupting the process was fraught: “This would be bad for democracy.”
But the Leverett House resident couldn’t shake the idea, and he began to research the feasibility of such a scheme. Turns out submission is easy to automate. Federal agencies have some leeway to discount comments that are obviously duplicated or irrelevant. But the typical technological defenses against attack, including CAPTCHAS, anomaly detection, and outside verification — all of which are integrated into online activity from banking to email log-in — were pretty much absent.
…Moving from a smaller film to a superhero franchise can feel like a mammoth leap, Yan says, but she was inspired by such auteurs as Taika Waititi, who migrated from small comedies to the Marvel tentpole “Thor: Ragnarok,” then back to the humbly budgeted 2019 Oscar nominee “Jojo Rabbit.” And whether Yan is working on a small or large scale, there are consistent traits that attract her to a project.
(16) THE ROVE BOAT. “Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Coming
to Walt Disney World” on YouTube is Disney’s official announcement of
the Star Wars-themed hotel designed to look like a starship which is opening at
Walt Disney World next year.
Reservations will open later this year for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, which debuts in 2021 at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. This new two-day and two-night vacation is an all-immersive experience that will take you to a galaxy far, far away in a way that only Disney could create.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Former NASA engineer Mark Rober now
makes a living as a YouTube inventor. Here he unveils the ultimate
deterrent to Amazon package thieves — “Porch Pirate vs. Glitter Bomb Trap 2.0.” 15 minutes long… but priceless.
[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, John King
Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Contrarius, Cat Eldridge, Alan Baumler, SF
Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories.
Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]