The New Year’s Day special ‘Eve of the Daleks’ will see Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor getting stuck in a time loop with Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill), Dan Lewis (John Bishop) and a group of deadly Daleks.
The episode also features Aisling Bea and Adjani Salmon in the roles of Sarah and Nick as they get ready to celebrate the start of the new year….
(2) TRANSPORT OF DELIGHT. Julian Yap and Fran Wilde begin weekly publication of The Sunday Morning Transportin January, delivering speculative fiction using a newsletter platform. Subscribe for one free story a month, or become a paid subscriber and get a story every week.
Subscribing to Sunday Morning Transport means bringing a a new speculative short story connection to your inbox every week, fifty weeks a year.
Sunday Morning Transport readers are makers, thinkers, scientists, artists, authors, dreamers. With a single speculative short story each Sunday, we connect across space and time. We deliver, right to your inbox: a moment of whimsy; a deep dive into an unknown world; a single illuminating transformation; a vibrant community of readers and writers built around the best new speculative stories each week.
Free subscribers receive one story a month. Paid subscribers receive one story each week, fifty weeks a year. For paid subscribers, there’s more: the opportunity to join in a conversation about story, to ask questions, and to help build a year’s worth of moments with authors including Max Gladstone, Karen Lord, Elwin Cotman, Kij Johnson, Kat Howard, Elsa Sjunnesson, Kathleen Jennings, Katherine Addison, Juan Martinez, E.C. Myers, Maureen McHugh, Tessa Gratton, Sarah Pinsker, Michael Swanwick, Brian Slattery, Malka Older, and many more.
Subscribe now, and get ready for your Sunday Morning Transport starting in January 2022.
(3) BUILDING A HUGO CATEGORY. Ira Alexandre has launched a discussion on Twitter by asking: For purposes of a Game Hugo, what does it mean for a game to be “in the fields of science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects”? Thread starts here.
…For a long old time, the quickest way to get taken out of libraries or complained about by parents was to include swearing. This led sci-fi creators to come up with new alternatives to the usual suspects, both to evade censorship and emphasise the ‘otherness’ of the worlds in which their tales took place (if a movie was set 10,000 years in the future and started with someone calling someone else a shithead, that would just seem plain silly).
Bill The Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison is a terrific book, a laugh-out-loud funny anti-war satire with a hidden gut-punch of an ending. A bleakly hilarious look at the futility of war and the cruelty with which people can treat one another, it’s a book that should be read by as many people as possible – ideally when they are about 12. During the title character’s ascension through the ranks of the Space Troopers, there’s plenty of effing and jeffing, except Harry opts for his own coinage, ‘bowb’, instead of the curses we all know and love.
As with a lot of made-up swear words, ‘bowb’ is kind of all-purpose – the phrases “Don’t give me any of your bowb!”, “Get over here, you stupid bowb!” and “What is this, “Bowb Your Buddy Week?” suggest it can be substituted in easily enough for ‘shit’, ‘bastard’, ’asshole’ and ‘fuck’….
(5) IN TIMES TO COME NEXT WEEK. Nicholas Whyte tries the thought experiment of anticipating next year with the help of films and stories that treat 2022 as history: “2022 according to science fiction, in novels and films” at From the Heart of Europe. Some of these sources aren’t very helpful!
Time Runner (1993)
What’s it about? Mark Hamill, unsuccessfully attempting to fight off an alien invasion of Earth in 2022, somehow gets sent thirty years back in time to try and prevent it all from happening. He tangles with a corrupt politician who is destined to become the collaborationist president of the world, and ends up assisting at his own birth.
Is 2022 really going to be like that? Actually most of the film is set in 1992, apart from the very beginning and occasional flashforwards. As of now, we don’t (yet) have a President of Earth; as for the alien invasion, we will have to wait and see….
In his last weeks as mayor, Bill de Blasio has been bestowing Keys to New York City to a number of figures, including legendary music producer Clive Davis (who helped stage the ultimately Mother Nature-interrupted “Homecoming” concert in Central Park), and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for his indefatigable support for the city. On his last Monday in office, de Blasio honored one of his favorite artists, the “punk rock laureate,” Patti Smith….
(7) TAKE BIXELSTRASSE TO I-95. Gwen C. Katz tweeted her interpretation of the history that shaped Worldcon’s administrative culture. Thread starts here.
(8) THE PRESTIGE. Catherine Lundoff followed-up the Katz thread with her thoughts about the Hugo Awards. Thread starts here. Lundoff evidently is focused on book-length work, since publishers of finalists like Uncanny, Clarkesworld, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, for example, aren’t operating with “deep pockets.”
The International Space Station brings together astronauts from around the world to collaborate on cutting-edge research, and some have called it humanity’s greatest achievement. But after two decades in orbit, the ISS will shut down, and a crop of several new space stations will take its place. While these new stations will make it easier for more humans to visit space, they’re also bound to create new political and economic tensions.
NASA is scaling back its presence in low-Earth orbit as the government focuses on sending humans back to the moon and, eventually, to Mars. As part of that transition, the space agency wants to rent out facilities for its astronauts on new space stations run by private companies. When these stations are ready, NASA will guidethe ISS into the atmosphere, where it will burn up and disintegrate. At that point, anyone hoping to work in space will have to choose among several different outposts. That means countries won’t just be using these new stations to strengthen their own national space programs, but as lucrative business ventures, too….
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1893 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] One hundred twenty-eight years ago, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes was first published by G. Newnes Ltd. sometime late in 1893 with an actual publication date listed as 1894. It was the second collection following The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and like the first it was illustrated by Sidney Paget. This hardcover edition has two hundred seventy-nine pages comprising twelve stories. The stories were previously published in the Strand Magazine.
Doyle had determined that these would be the last Holmes stories, and intended to kill off the character in “The Final Problem”, but a decade later a new series, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, would begin in the aftermath of “The Final Problem”, in which it is revealed that Holmes actually survived.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 27, 1938 — Jean Hale. If you’ve watched Sixties genre television, you’ve likely seen her as she showed up on My Favorite Martian, In Like Flint (at least genre adjacent), Alfred Hitchcock Presents, My Brother the Angel, Wild, Wild West, Batman and Tarzan. (Died 2021.)
Born December 27, 1951 — Robbie Bourget, 70. She started out as an Ottawa-area fan, where she became involved in a local Who club and the OSFS before moving to LA and becoming deeply involved in LASFS. She’s been a key member of many a Worldcon and Who convention over the years. She was the co-DUFF winner with Marty Cantor for Aussiecon 2. She moved to London in the late Nineties.
Born December 27, 1960 — Maryam d’Abo, 61. She’s best known as Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights. Her first genre role was her screen debut in the very low-budget SF horror film Xtro, an Alien rip-off. She was Ta’Ra in Something Is Out There, a miniseries that was well received and but got piss poor ratings. Did you know there was a live Mowgli: The New Adventures of the Jungle Book series? I didn’t. She was Elaine Bendel, a recurring role, in it.
Born December 27, 1977 — Sinead Keenan, 44. She’s in the Eleventh Doctor story, “The End of Time” as Addams but her full face make-up guarantees that you won’t recognize her. If you want to see her, she’s a Who fan in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Her final Who work is a Big Finish audio drama, Iterations of I, a Fifth Doctor story. And she played Nina Pickering, a werewolf, in Being Human for quite a long time.
Born December 27, 1987 — Lily Cole, 34. Been awhile since I found a Who performer and so let’s have another one now. She played The Siren in the Eleventh Doctor story, “The Curse of The Black Spot”. She’s also in some obscure film called Star Wars: The Last Jedi as a character named Lovey. And she shows up in the important role of Valentina in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Not mention she’s in Snow White and The Huntsman as Greta, a great film indeed.
Born December 27, 1995 — Timothée Chalamet, 26. First SF role was as the young Tom Cooper in the well received Interstellar. His only other genre role was Zac in One & Two before he played Paul Atreides in Director Denis Villeneuve’s Dune.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
The Far Side shows something by the side of the road – a little too big for a hubcap, I’m thinking.
For decades, various incarnations of Star Trek have offered mostly positive visions for the future of humanity—one in which we’ve set aside petty, earthbound squabbles in favor of boldly seeking out new worlds (and, of course, finding the occasional conflict).
But the first three seasons of Star Trek: Discovery (Paramount+), the seventh television series in the long-running franchise, have too often seemed tied down by storylines that might have more in common with real-world politics of the 21st century rather than the unbridled optimism that was such an important part of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s original conception for the show. Discovery is highly serialized, more focused on a single calamity than a larger sense of exploration, and with far more internally focused characters who care more about their own interests than in a larger plan for society.
As a result, Star Trek now seeks to reinforce the trepidation and existential doubt that is a hallmark of our modern culture. Instead of showing the potential of what humanity can become, Discovery seems to reflect more on what the feelings of the human condition are today…
On Dec. 27, 1984, one of the most famous Mars meteorites was found in Antarctica.
…Weighing in at just over 4 lbs., this space rock is considered to be one of the oldest Martian meteorites ever found on Earth. Scientists estimate that it crystallized from molten rock more than 4 billion years ago, when Mars still had liquid water on its surface. It also has been the source of controversy about the search for life on Mars that continues to this day.
Bram Stoker Award-winning author John Langan joins us to talk about cosmic horror, his novel The Fisherman, upstate New York, how much money writers make (none), and how hard it is to get published when you’re a little too literary for the genre crowd but a little too genre for the literary crowd. Special appearance by Langan’s wiener dog/beagle.
For weeks, a question hung over London theater: What would happen to Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods”?
On Nov. 1, the Old Vic theater canceled a revival of the musical, co-directed by Terry Gilliam, after a dispute in which the renowned director was accused of endorsing transphobic views and playing down the MeToo movement. That left the production in limbo and London’s theater world wondering if anyone would dare to take it on.
Now, there is an answer. On Aug. 19, 2022, Gilliam’s “Into the Woods” will debut at the Theater Royal in Bath, 115 miles from London. The show will run through Sep. 10, 2022, the theater said in a statement….
(17) CRITICAL COMPONENT. DUST presents a short film about a young robot with a defective part, trying to find their way in the world.
Tesla has agreed to modify software in its cars to prevent drivers and passengers from playing video games on the dashboard screens while vehicle are in motion, a federal safety regulator said on Thursday.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Alasdair Beckett-King’s parodies are news to me but not to his quarter of a million YouTube subscribers. Here’s a sample.
As the first person ever to spoof Doctor Who, I decided not to bother doing an impression of 13 different actors, and just wore a jaunty hat instead.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, N., Bill, Raquel S. Benedict, Jeffrey Smith, Nicholas Whyte, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]
The WarnerMedia branch of Warner Bros. was hit with a ton of layoffs today, and things seem especially dire this evening for the Warner-owned DC Comics. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a number of high-ranking people at DC are now out, including editor-in-chief Bob Harris, several senior VPs, and some editors (including executive editor Mark Doyle, who was in charge of the publisher’s edgy new Black Label graphic novels). Furthermore, THR’s sources say the layoffs have come for “roughly one third” of DC’s entire editorial staff as well as “the majority” of the people working on the DC Universe streaming service, and the DC Direct merchandise brand has been completely shut down after 22 years of selling Batman toys.
…Insiders also say the majority of the staff of the streaming service DC Universe has been laid off, a move that had been widely expected as WarnerMedia shifts its focus to new streaming service HBO Max.
“DC Universe was DOA as soon as the AT&T merger happened,” said one source.
DC Universe launched in May 2018, and is home to live-action series such as Doom Patrol, Titans and Stargirl, as well as animated offerings including Young Justice and Harley Quinn. Some of those shows have now started to stream on HBO Max.
Also a victim of the layoffs: DC Direct, the company’s in-house merchandise and collectibles manufacturer….
…I don’t want to give the impression that my American Rose is some kind of bastard love child of Kate Bush and the Blair Witch. But like other suspense writers who dip their nibs into the cursed waters of folk horror, its elements may be sprinkled into a contemporary novel to create an atmosphere of dread.
The resurgence of the genre shows that folk horror is apt for our times. Identities are fluid. No bad deed goes unpunished. The civilized world is only a heartbeat away from primal and uncanny threats.
The genre is also nostalgic for a rural England that is as far from Downtown Abbey as you can get in a four-horse carriage. This England is afeared of change. In times of crisis, we return to the old ways, which offer a reassuring connection to a simple past. But at the cost of old evils. There is a sense that all progress is a chimera, that our modern sophistication is itself a form of naivety.
…Before your mind can make sense of it, words in some shade of Watchmen yellow superimpose across the screen: TULSA 1921.
Gotta admit, didn’t see that coming.
Once those two words flashed, what I was looking at resolved into focus. The Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. The Tulsa Massacre. The scene set off a surge on Google as viewers searched for information on the riot—their first time learning about it. Many Black folks, though, didn’t have to go looking. We’d heard some version of this story. I couldn’t even tell you where or when it was passed on to me—one of those bits of common knowledge that travels along Black intra-community networks, written down in our Scriptures on the Sins of White Folk. The story of the all-Black and self-sustaining community that rose up in the middle of Jim Crow. That prospered, with its own businesses and professionals. Black Wall Street, they called it. Even if you didn’t know every detail—like the discrepancies about airplanes dropping dynamite on buildings, or the disputes over mass graves—you had heard something about Tulsa. It was a story of Black excellence, and Black horror. A tragic tale of a lost world like the city of Atlantis, or doomed Krypton—only snuffed out not by natural disaster or hubris, but by the reckless fires of white supremacy.
Still, the cold open of an HBO production was the last place I expected to see this. I’d gone my entire Black life and never seen a single recreation—not once. Our stories didn’t appear in mainstream productions like this. Our histories certainly weren’t centered this way within a major speculative canon. Our perspective wasn’t supposed to fit into stories of superheroes as jaded vigilantes, a physics- bending blue guy, and the greatest hoax ever played on mankind—à la interdimensional psychic squid.
The robot, shaped like a large cooler on wheels, zipped along somewhere ahead of me. My left hand clasped the smooth leather harness of my German shepherd guide dog. “Mylo, forward.” The speed of his four short legs complemented the strides of my longer two — call it the six feet fox trot. Together we glided past the competition.
My quarantine buddy stayed behind filming the race. Mylo: 1, Robot: 0.
My amusement with the little robots shifted to curiosity. Thirty years after the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, many tech companies still fail to design for disability. How would the autonomous robots react to disabled pedestrians?
About 10 feet down the sidewalk, I stopped and turned around. Mylo tensed, his alarm crawling up my arm. The white visage of the robot stopped about a foot from his nose.
I hoped the robot would identify a pedestrian and roll away, but it stayed put. Mylo relaxed into a sitting position — guide dog school didn’t teach him about the robot apocalypse. I scratched his ears and he leaned into my hands. The robot was not moved.
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 11, 1955 — X Minus One’s “Almost Human” was broadcast for the first time. The screenplay was written as usual by George Lefferts off of Robert Bloch‘s story of the same name first published in Fantastic Adventures, June 1943. (Last collected in The Complete Stories of Robert Bloch, Volume 1: Final Reckonings, 1990.) Bloch’s tale has a petty criminal taking over an android for what he thinks he is suitable training and has the tables turned on him as the android is too human. The cast included Santos Ortega, Joan Allison, Jack Grimes, Guy Repp, Nat Pollen, Joseph Julian and Lin Cook. You can listen to it here. (CE)
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertx.]
Born August 11, 1902 — Jack Binder. In Thrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue they published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, with the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity”. In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics. During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.) (CE)
Born August 11, 1923 – Ben P. Indick. Fanzine Ben’s Beat; letters, reviews, in Anduril, Banana Wings, The Baum Bugle, The Call of Cthulhu, Chacal, The Frozen Frog, The Metaphysical Review, Necrofile, Nyctalops, Riverside Quarterly, Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Magazine, Studies in Weird Fiction, Weird Tales. Wrote Ray Bradbury, Dramatist and George Alec Effinger; eight short stories; contributed to Hannes Bok studies and flights of angels (1968), Bok (1974). First Fandom Hall of Fame. My attempt to recruit him for APA-L produced, briefly, Chez Ondique. (Died 2009) [JH]
Born August 11, 1928 — Alan E. Nourse. His connections to other SF writers are fascinating. Heinlein dedicated Farnham’s Freehold to Nourse, and in part dedicated Friday to Nourse’s wife Ann. His novel The Bladerunner lent its name to the movie but nothing else from it was used in that story. However Blade Runner (a movie) written by, and I kid you not, William S. Burroughs, is based on his novel. Here the term “blade runner” refers to a smuggler of medical supplies, e.g. scalpels. (Died 1992.) (CE)
Born August 11, 1932 — Chester Anderson. His The Butterfly Kid is the first part of what is called the Greenwich Village Trilogy, with Michael Kurland writing the middle book, The Unicorn Girl, and the third volume, The Probability Pad, written by T.A. Waters. I can practically taste the acid from here… The Butterfly Kid is available from all the usual digital suspects. (Died 1991.) (CE)
Born August 11, 1936 – Bruce Pelz, F.N. An omnifan who did clubs, collecting, cons, costuming, fanhistory, fanzines, filking, gaming, and, as the saying goes, much much more. Co-chaired Westercon 22 and L.A.Con the 30th Worldcon (with Chuck Crayne); founded Loscon and chaired Loscon 10; Fan Guest of Honor at Noreascon Two the 38th Worldcon; founded the History of Worldcons Exhibit; twice earned the LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) Evans-Freehafer Award; was named a Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Soc.; service award); Filk Hall of Fame; invented APA-L, contributed to it, FAPA, SAPS, OMPA, The Cult, and for a while every existing apa; recognized fan and pro art with the Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (PDF); gave his collection of fanzines, almost two hundred thousand of them, to U. Cal. Riverside. He was an Eagle Scout. Here and here are appreciations by OGH. (Died 2002) [JH]
Born August 11, 1949 – Nate Bucklin, 71. First Secretary of Minn-stf (or stef, from Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction) and thus one of its Floundering_Fathers. Guest of Honor at Minicon 16 and 43, Windycon 32, DucKon IV. Five short stories. Fanzine, Stopthink; editor awhile of Rune; founding member of Minneapa. Being a filker (see link under Bruce Pelz) he was Guest of Honor at GAFilk Six, and the Interfilk Guest at Contata 5. Once explained to me “We have half these songs memorized – usually the first half.” [JH]
Born August 11, 1959 — Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take off the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid-Eighties. Kindle has Bone Music and a number of his other novels, iBooks has nothing available. (Died 2014.) (CE)
Born August 11, 1961 — Susan M. Garrett. She was a well-known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. It, like the rest of the Forever Knight novels, is not available in digital form. (Died 2010.) (CE)
Born August 11, 1970 – Elizabeth Kiem, 50. Four novels for us; collaborated on five books about Balanchine. Three of those four have the Bolshoi Ballet. [JH]
Born August 11, 1972 – Danielle Wood, 48. Tasmanian. Three novels for us (with Heather Rose); dozens more via thus this site (subscription needed). Website here. [JH]
Born August 11, 1976 — Will Friedle, 44. Largely known as an actor with extensive genre voice work: Terry McGinnis aka the new Batman in Batman Beyond which Warner Animation now calls Batman of the Future, Peter Quill in The Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Kid Flash in Teen Titans Go! to name but a few of his roles. (CE)
Born August 11, 1989 – Will Wight, 31. Sixteen novels in three series; fourteen shorter stories, most available only here. Website here. Some of you will know why I keep misspelling his misspelling his name (and may even know how to spell Nesselrode). [JH]
…Even in high school, Walt Kelly had worked at his local newspaper; after graduation, he even drew that paper a comic strip about the life of P.T. Barnum. While he was also hired for a few freelance assignments while living on the East Coast, he wanted to produce a different sort of comic art. Walt Disney Productions was his goal, he applied to work there, and he was hired.
As he worked for Disney on a variety of projects for the next five and a half years, he became friends with several of his fellow writers and artists. Like many other fledgling creators there, he’d eventually go on to work in the new comic book industry.
But wait. We were wrapping up the 1930s. And the 1940s were just ahead….
(10) CONDEMNED BY THE SCI-FI SCRIBE. In “Awards For Works Should Be Judged By The Work Itself” [Archive Today copy] Richard Paolinelli rolls together the week’s kerfuffles – Hugo toastmaster GRRM mispronouncing names, Jeannette Ng’s Hugo, the Retro-Hugos for Campbell and Lovecraft, and the attack on the concept of an sff canon – into one prodigious blunt and fires it up. Every paragraph is like this:
…And now they want to change the rules for future Retro Hugos it seems. No longer can the best work be nominated, they yowl, but if the creator behind said work does not pass the “Officially Acceptable Wokeness Test” they must be chiseled out of the SF/F historical record forever lest future generations ever hear of their vile “un-woke” creations!
And to make sure we know how unwoke he is, Richard repeatedly misspells N.K. Jemisin’s name, and delivers this bonus blast to John Scalzi’s syndicated movie review column of 30 years ago.
…Even John Scalzi jumped into the fray to declare that we really shouldn’t waste our time on the “old SF/F” stuff and only read the “modern (read: acceptably woke) stuff”.
HISTORICAL NOTE: I had the extreme displeasure of having to read his crap when it shot across the McClatchy Newspaper wire back in the mid-1990s when he was at the Fresno Bee and I worked the copy desk for two days a week at the Modesto Bee (thankfully the other three days I escaped that torture by working in the Sports department.)
When I heard Scalzi had jumped to fiction writing I pitied his poor editor. His stuff at the Bee was always the last we worked on and always need massive reworking to be suitable to run….
…In [The Godwulf Mnuscript], a student member of the anticapitalist committee tells Spenser not to laugh at the group, saying that they are “perfectly serious and perfectly right.” Spenser answers that so is everyone else he knows. In a world that revolves around ideologies and declarations of righteousness, Spenser is glad to meet people who don’t take themselves too seriously. The cast of supporting characters is populated by friends of different genders and colors who operate on principle without saying so, who are more about the walk than the talk. This is part of the hard-boiled principle of understatement; other people’s pain is to be taken seriously, but one’s own is not. But it is also a signal that the hard-boiled is beginning to change his parameters.
Ian Brackenbury Channell walks around in black robes and a pointy hat. He’s a tourist attraction, so Christchurch, New Zealand, even pays him. As he steps aside, a successor wizard takes over. Now, you may ask, exactly what magical power does this wizard possess? His answer – every day, the world gets more serious, so fun is the most powerful thing.
When Natalie Monson started her food blog 11 years ago, she didn’t expect to end up embroiled in a fight with the world’s most valuable company.
But the US small business owner is now battling Apple for the right to use a pear in the logo on her recipe app.
In a patent filing, Apple said the image was too similar to its own logo and would hurt its brand.
Ms Monson says the tech giant is simply “bullying” and she feels a “moral obligation” to fight back.
More than 43,000 people have already signed the petition she and her husband Russ, owners of the Super Healthy Kids website, created last week to try to pressure the company to back down.
“This is a real world example of a small business being destroyed by a giant monopoly because they don’t have accountability,” Mr Monson told the BBC. “That was so frustrating to us that we thought we had to do something. We can’t just be the next victim on the list.”
A 99-million year old fossil of a “hell ant” is giving researchers a glimpse into the behavior of these fearsome ancient insects, a new study reports.
Encased in amber (tree resin), the fossil provides the most vivid picture yet of how hell ants once used their uncanny tusk-like mandibles and diverse horns to successfully hunt down victims for nearly 20 million years, before vanishing from the planet.
“Since the first hell ant was unearthed about a hundred years ago, it’s been a mystery as to why these extinct animals are so distinct from the ants we have today,” said study lead author Phillip Barden of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, in a statement.
(17) WHY IT’S GR8T. In “Honest Trailers: Avatar–The Last Airbender” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies explain that the anime series Avatar–The Last Airbender is “full of life lessons that will thrill your inner eight-year-old–because it was written for eight year olds.”
[Thanks to John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]
Stuart told File 770, “The letter was workshopped by the entire group, and wasn’t published before they gave express approval so it very much is a group of co-signees.”
The group includes: Charles Payseur, Benjamin C. Kinney, Jennifer Mace, SL Huang, Shiv Ramdas, SB Divya, Jenn Lyons, Sarah Gailey, Paul Weimer, Sarah Pinsker, Claire Rousseau, Maria Haskins, Tasha Suri, Marguerite Kenner, Alasdair Stuart, Jonathan Strahan, Pablo Defendini, Elsa Sjunneson, Brent Lambert, Freya Marske, Julia Rios, Alix Harrow, Gideon Marcus, Janice Marcus, Lorelei Marcus, James Davis Nicoll, Neil Clarke, Cora Buhlert, Charlie Jane Anders, Brandon O’Brien, Erica Frank, Jen Zink, Adri Joy, Fran Wilde, Suzanne Walker, Chimedum Ohaegbu, Navah Wolfe, John Picacio, and Max Gladstone.
The letter says:
We applaud the courage and conviction of the CoNZealand organisers in pivoting to a virtual Worldcon during an unprecedented global event. Their work has been admirable and — in many aspects — both innovative and successful.
We are a group of Hugo Award finalists who identified concerns with our programming when we received our “final schedules” this week, and came together to help CoNZealand recognize and address these issues.
In brief, our key concerns are:
Many Hugo finalists have not been offered programming and panels relevant to their nomination.
We believe that many of our panels cannot be adequately performed without more diverse participants and/or a reframing of the topic.
Communication with Hugo finalists about the financial requirements for participation has been inconsistent or absent, with contradictory information on whether or not we were able to participate in programming without a full attending membership. This issue particularly impacted Black, Indigenous and people of color (“BIPOC”), leaving them more likely than other finalists to receive no programming.
We present our concerns in the hope that these issues represent not intentional choices on the convention’s part but the unavoidable consequences of Worldcon’s discontinuous structure, and the necessary prioritization CoNZealand has had to undertake in order to pivot successfully to a virtual event.
We have tried to be brief and targeted in our recommendations so as to remain sensitive to the time pressure CoNZealand is under. Accompanying this letter is a spreadsheet containing specific examples of the issues above. We have listed (1) which panel topics we are missing; (2) which panels have problematic design or membership; (3) which panels we finalists want off or are willing to leave to create space; and (4) finalists that were deterred from participation due to lack of membership.
Our data are incomplete because we could only recruit a limited number of Hugo finalists to provide input without further delaying the process. Among our group of finalists, about 25% entirely lack relevant panels, and about 45% are dissatisfied with the fit of the programming they have.
We recognize there is a difficult balance to strike when raising concerns to an overtaxed team less than two weeks before an event, however many of us have repeatedly raised these issues or volunteered only to receive no response. We have intentionally not sought to assume ownership of programming items, but we are committed to assisting where possible and desired by CoNZealand. However, we emphasize that our bringing awareness to these issues does not obligate us to single-handedly resolve them.
As part of our offer to assist, we have begun identifying additional and replacement panelists who could add necessary diversity. If CoNZealand lacks sufficient BIPOC attendees, we hope you will provide free attendance to needed panelists who aren’t members. Moreover, there remain issues we cannot address on our own, especially (1) communicating with all finalists whether paid membership is required for programming; and (2) making sure all finalists with memberships are on relevant programming.
We are not united in what actions we intend to take if our concerns are not addressed. Many have already begun the process of asking to be removed from programming in its entirety, while others are actively working to locate replacements for the programming items they feel need improvement. Our focus at this stage remains taking action to make our concerns known, and to support CoNZealand addressing them in the combined spirit of fostering an environment for all to share in the celebration of our genre.
We appreciate your volunteerism in contacting all those people for us. As you know, due to privacy regulations, we cannot contact people more than once without a response from them. We hope they will get in touch with us directly and soon, to see if we can fit them in.
All the best, Jannie
Shea points to CoNZealand’s inclusion initiative in answer to the letter’s question “whether paid membership is required for programming.” Typically, only people who have bought attending memberships become Worldcon program participants. The introduction to the inclusion initiative explains what help is available:
Marginalised communities are overrepresented in the group suffering the greatest fallout from this pandemic, and as such, we want to ensure that our community does not suffer a loss of its hard-won diversity. We want to lower the barriers for participation for those from underrepresented communities.
We want the convention to be a global one, where all communities and viewpoints are represented, and this fund is intended to help those who would otherwise not be able to participate fully in the activities of the Worldcon.
The initiative upgrades eligible members from supporting to attending memberships. …There are a small number of attending passes available.
CoNZealand is especially challenged in its efforts to answer these needs because, as a virtual convention, it isn’t limited to programming people who can afford to come to Wellington, as would have been the case before the pandemic — it could draw people from everywhere. But like most non-U.S. Worldcons it has a smaller membership base from which to draw the financial support needed to make its budget.
Following the jump is a roundup of Twitter comments from participants.
[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]
TL;DR: Here’s what I thought of the 2019 Novellas. What did you think?
I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading:
31 of the novellas published in 2015,
35 of the novellas published in 2016,
46 of the novellas published in 2017,
and 38 of the 2018 novellas.
(and this year I was waiting for access to a few novellas, so I was reading others, and thus my final total crept up to 55!)
I really felt as though this enabled me to do Hugo nominations for the Novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.
The success and popularity of novellas in the last 5 years seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. By necessity, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis being of interest to me.
It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.
Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low.
Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). What’s more, I apparently had a defective childhood, and do not share a lot of peoples’ appreciation for fairytale retellings and portal fantasies. My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.
Novellas I’ve read appear in order based on how much I liked them (best to least), followed by the novellas I haven’t read in alphabetical order.
I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included.
Please feel free to post comments about any other 2019 novellas which you’ve read, as well. And if I’ve missed your comment about a novella, or an excerpt for a novella, please point me to it!
(1) STAMPEDE ZONE. Fran Wilde, in one of the New York Times’
op-eds from the future, implores “Please,
Stop Printing Unicorns”. Tagline: “Bioprinters are not toys, and parents shouldn’t give them to
… Making bioprinting more accessible to the public — especially to children — will be likely to lead to even worse disasters than last Friday’s blockade of the Chicago I-899 skyways off-ramp by a herd of miniature unicorns. Sure, the unicorns (whose origins are unknown) were the size of ducklings, but their appearance caused several accidents and a moral quandary.
These bioprinted unicorns were living creatures with consciousness — as defined by the A.I. Treaty of 2047 — trying to find their way in the world…..
Gregory Feeley writes novels and stories, most in some respect science-fictional. His first novel, The Oxygen Barons, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick award, and his short fiction has twice been nominated for the Nebula Award. His most recent novels are the historical novel Arabian Wine, and Kentauros, a fantasia on an obscure Greek myth. He recently completed a long novel, Hamlet the Magician.
Michael Swanwick writes fantasy and science fiction of all sorts, at lengths ranging from novels to flash fiction. Over the years, he’s picked up a Nebula Award, five Hugos and the World Fantasy Award–and has the pleasant distinction of having lost more of these awards than any other writer. Tor recently published The Iron Dragon’s Mother, completing a trilogy begun with The Iron Dragon’s Daughter twenty-five years ago. That’s far longer than it took Professor Tolkien to complete his trilogy.
The event is Tuesday,
September 3 at The Brooklyn Commons Café,
388 Atlantic Avenue (between Hoyt & Bond St.). Doors open at 6:30
p.m., event begins at 7:00 p.m.
Everybody calls Rob Kuntz last, he says. Those who want to know about the history of Dungeons & Dragons start with co-creator Gary Gygax’s kids, one of Gygax’s biographers, or D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast. As they’re wrapping things up, they might get around to dialing up Kuntz, a 63-year-old game designer. And once they call him, he tells them the same thing: Everything they know about the creation of the tabletop role-playing game is, in his opinion, sorely mistaken or flat-out wrong.
“There’s a myth that’s been propagated in the industry,” Kuntz told Kotaku during an interview in February of this year. “If you keep digging into this, you’re going to come up with a story that will enrage people and expose the truth.”
(4) MIND OF THESEUS. In the August 14 Financial Times (behind a
paywall), Library of Congress fellow Susan Schneider critiques the arguments
of Ray Kurzweil and Elon Musk that we should figure out how to download our
brains into the clouds to prevent really smart AI machines from taking over our
“Here is a new challenge, derived from a story by the Australian science fiction writer Greg Egan. Imagine that an AI device called ‘a jewel’ is inserted into your brain at birth. The jewel monitors your brain’s activity in order to learn how to mimic your thoughts and behaviours. By th time you are an adult, it perfectly simulates your biological brain.
At some point, like other members of society, you grow confident that your brain is just redundant meatware. So you become a ‘jewel head,’ having your brain surgically removed. The jewel is now in the driver’s seat.
Unlike in Mr Egan’s story, let us assume the jewel works perfectly, So which is you–your brain or your jewel?”
(5) CHAMBERS PRAISED. [Item by Olav Rokne.] The recent Worldcon in Dublin seems to be prompting some
discussion of the literary merit of genre work. Writing in the Irish Times, John
Connolly (“The future of sci-fi never looked so bright”) holds up the work of Hugo-winner Becky
Chambers as an example of meritorious genre work, writing that:
In a world in which intolerance seems to be implacably on the rise, the fundamental decency at the heart of Chambers’s narratives, her depiction of a post-dystopian humanity attempting to construct a better version of itself while encountering new worlds and species, begins to seem quietly, gently radical.
Disney released a new poster depicting the battle, presenting it to all attendees.
Fans can now watch the pinnacle moment of the footage – a cloaked Rey pulls out what appeared to be a red, double lightsaber in battle, similar to the infamous weapon wielded by Darth Maul in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.”
The D23 crowd let out an immediate, overpowering cheer at the sight of the weapon’s return and proclaimed the sighting on Twitter.
It caused a disturbance in the Force which was felt well beyond the D23 walls.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 26, 1911 — Otto Oscar Binder. He’s best remembered as the co-creator with Al Plastino of Supergirl and for his many scripts for Captain Marvel Adventures and other stories involving the entire Marvel Family. He was extremely prolific in the comic book industry and is credited with writing over four thousand stories across a variety of publishers under his own name. He also wrote novels, one of which was The Avengers Battle the Earth Wrecker, one of the series created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist and co-plotter Jack Kirby. (Died 1974.)
August 26, 1912 – Ted Key. Of interest to us is his screenplay for The Cat from Outer Space about an apparent alien feline who has crash-landed here (starring Ken Berry, Sandy Duncan and Harry Morgan), which he followed up with a novelization. He also conceived and created Peabody’s Improbable History for producer Jay Ward’s The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. It would become the Sherman and Peabody Show. (Died 2008.)
Born August 26, 1912 — Gerald Kersh. He wrote but one genre novel, The Secret Masters, and two genre stories in his Henry the Ghost series. So why’s he here, you ask? Because Ellison declared “you will find yourself in the presence of a talent so immense and compelling, that you will understand how grateful and humble I felt merely to have been permitted to associate myself with his name as editor.” You can read his full letters here. (Died 1968.)
Born August 26, 1938 — Francine York. Her last genre performance was on Star Trek: Progeny. Never heard of It? Of course not, as it was yet another fan project. It’s amazing how many of these there are. Before that, she appeared in Mutiny in Outer Space, Space Probe Taurus and Astro Zombies: M3 – Cloned. (Died 2017.)
Born August 26, 1949 — Sheila E Gilbert, 70. Co-editor-in-chief and publisher of DAW Books with Elizabeth R (Betsy) Wollheim. For her work there, she has also shared the Chesley Awards for best art director with Wollheim twice, and received a solo 2016 Hugo award as best professional editor (long form).
Born August 26, 1950 — Annette Badland, 69. She is best known for her role as Margaret Blaine on Doctor Who where she was taken over by Blon Fel-Fotch Pasameer-Day, a Slitheen. This happened during “Aliens of London” and “World War Three” during the Era of the Ninth Doctor. Her story would conclude in “Boom Town”.
Born August 26, 1970 — Melissa McCarthy, 49. Yes, I know she was in the rebooted Ghostbusters. Fanboys across the net are still wetting their pants about that film. I’m more interested in Super Intelligence in which she is playing a character that has an AI who has decided to take over her life. It reminds me somewhat of Kritzer’s “Cat Pictures Please” premise. It will be released on December 20 of this year. (And we are not talking about her The Happytime Murders.)
Born August 26, 1980 — Chris Pine, 39. James T. Kirk in the Star Trek reboot series. He also plays Steve Trevor in both Wonder Woman films and Dr. Alexander Murry in A Wrinkle in Time. He’s also Cinderella’s Prince in Into the Woods. Finally, he voices Peter Parker / Ultimate Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
If you haven’t had a chance to try this snack yet, they’re basically Cheetos puffs that are shaped into various parts of a skeleton like the head, ribcage, hands, and bones. This means that besides being as delicious as a classic Cheeto, you can also build spooky skeletons with your food if you can resist scarfing down the whole bag for a while.
Not a blade of grass longer than the rest, a red “Remove Before Flight” tag unchecked, or a single Kiwi (be it bird or engineer) out of place: Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex-1 looks like an industry brochure come to life (better in fact). Located at the southern tip of the picturesque Mahia Peninsula on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, LC-1 is currently the only operational Rocket Lab launch site where the Electron vehicle—Rocket Lab’s low-cost small satellite launch vehicle—takes flight.
Rocket Lab just took advantage of the latest window at LC-1 on August 19. But back in December 2018, fellow rocket launch photographer Brady Kenniston had the exclusive opportunity to photograph Rocket Lab’s first NASA mission, ElaNa-19, from this private launch site. This launch was going to be Rocket Lab’s mostimportant mission to date because, as the leader in the small satellite industry, they had an opportunity to show NASA (and the world) what they are made of. If successful, it could lead to future business from other small satellites in need of a ride to space—not to mention, the company would earn the endorsement of NASA Launch Services as an eligible vehicle to fly future NASA small-satellite science payloads.
Joe: We’re a little more than seven months into what is shaping up to be an absolute stellar year for science fiction and fantasy fiction and I wanted to check in with the two of you to see what you’ve been reading and what has stood out in a year of excellence.
Adri: Indeed! well for starters I lost my heart in the time war…
Paul: I, too, lost my heart in the Time War. Among many other places, but having recently finished that, it is strongly on my mind. I am Team Blue, Adri, how about you?
Heinlein was not fond of critics, not entirely without reason. Even in his day, a good critic could be a wonder – and a bad one a nightmare. But I think he might have liked this book – and, as Heinlein remains popular, we should ask ourselves why. You may not agree with everything in this book, but it will make you think. Mendlesohn treats Heinlein as what he was, a man. Not an angel, or a demon, but a man. An influential man, but a man nonetheless.
(13) SMILE! Guess what this scene made Kevin Standlee think of —
(Now imagine, what if somebody used X-ray film?)
(14) CHALLENGES IN PRODUCING HEINLEIN BOOK. Shahid Mahmud of Arc Manor Publishers sent out an update about Phoenix Pick’s Heinlein novel The Pursuit of the Pankera.
…As many of you are aware from my previous emails, this is the parallel text to The Number of the Beast.
It is, effectively, a parallel book about parallel universes.
We had originally attempted to release the book before Christmas, but some production issues have delayed the release to Sprint/Summer of 2020.
These include sorting out some fairly intricate details discussed in the book. For example (for those of you dying to see what it is that we publishers actually do), here are a few internal excerpts between editors working on various aspects of the book:
“The planet-numbering system may be off in certain parts of the story. At the beginning of the story (and in real life) we live on planet Earth. In the course of the story, there is time travel, and that’s where it gets confusing… the story refers to both Earth-One and Earth-Zero. There is a detailed explanation of the numbering system (see pg. 312) wherein “Earth-Zero is so designated because Dr. Jacob Burroughs was born on that planet…”
However, in other parts of the book, Earth-One is referred to as the characters’ home planet.”
“After discussion with Patrick, I’ve settled on the following conventions: x-axis (hyphenated, lowercase, no italics) but axis x (no hyphen, lowercase, italic single letter). In the manuscript, of course, the italic letter would be underlined rather than set italic. The letters tau and teh remain in the Latin alphabet (rather than Greek or Cyrillic) and are lowercase but not set italic. When used with the word “axis” (tau-axis) they are hyphenated.”
These are the little details that keep us Publishers up at night 🙂
But alas, given a book of this magnitude and size (this is a BIG book, over 185,000 words) all this takes time.
Hence the delay.
Mahmud says the ebook will be priced at $9.99 at launch, but they will run a Kickstarter beginning September 4 to help pay for production, which will allow people to buy the ebook for just $7.00. And there will be other rewards available.
(15) THE NEXT BIG THING. Best Fanzine Hugo winner Lady Business tweeted a get-acquainted thread for new followers (starts here) which closes with this appeal –
Legion creator Noah Hawley’s feature directorial debut stars the Oscar-winning actress as Lucy Cola, a loose adaptation of real-life astronaut Lisa Nowak, who, after returning to earth from a length mission to space, began an obsessive affair with a coworker….
[Thanks to Jim Freund, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin
Morse Wooster, Lise Andreasen, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Errolwi,
and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
MEETUP ISSUE. Wanda
Kurtcu said on
Facebook there are two people who should not have attended the meetup for PoC of African
descent at Dublin 2019:
I had the opportunity to co-facilitate an POC of African Descent meetup at WorldCon. The description of the meetup was that it was ONLY for POC of African Descent. NOTE the PEOPLE OF COLOR (POC) requirement for this meeting.
There were two white men already in the room when I arrived. At no point did they request to be allowed to be part of our meeting. One said he was the editor of a spec sci-fi magazine and the other said he was there because his adopted son was Ethiopian and he wanted to see what the meetup was about. His son was not at WorldCon.
Neither I nor my co-facilitator asked them to leave because I didn’t want to cause any problems. In fact, I waited a few days to write this post to make sure I was coming from a place of mindfulness and not anger….
Director Abrams said of adding Leia into the film: “Of course, we can’t talk about the cast without talking about Carrie Fisher. And the character of Leia is really in a way the heart of this story. We could not tell the end of these 9 films without Leia. And we realized that we had footage from episode 7 that we realized we could use in a new way. So Carrie, as Leia, gets to be in the film.”
Continued Abrams: “But the crazy part is we started to work on this movie and I wasn’t supposed to be directing this movie [as Colin Trevorrow was originally tapped as director]. Then we lost Carrie. And I was hired on this film and began working. And I remember this thing that I had read that I actually thought I was mistaken. I looked in her last book, The Princess Diarist, and she had written, ‘Special thanks to J.J. Abrams for putting up with me twice.’ Now I had never worked with her before Force Awakens and I wasn’t supposed to do this movie. So it was a classic Carrie thing to sort of write something like that that could only mean one thing for me. We couldn’t be more excited to have you see her in her final performance as Leia.”
I suppose you could say that it started with the storm.
I hadn’t seen one like it in 30 years. Not since I moved to Tkaronto, in the Northern Indigenous Zone of Turtle Island—what settler-colonialists still insisted on calling North America. I’d forgotten its raw power: angry thunderclouds that blot out the sun, taking you from noon to evening in an instant, then the water that comes down like fury—like the sky itself wants to hurt you.
Immigrants know what is like to deal with restless ghosts from the past. Some of us are haunted for the rest of our lives by the inability to have closure. But when the opportunity presents itself to face our demons, it’s never like what we imagined in our heads.
Chinelo Onwualu’s short story “What the Dead Man Said” speaks to and delves deeper than that universal theme. The reader enters a futuristic society suffering from climate change–induced disaster and migration, a place where human bodies of those once enslaved are treated as a commodity and where unhealed trauma lies beneath the surface….
(6) JOURNALING ADVISED. Fran Wilde ran a “Creativity &
Journaling” online today. Cat Rambo tweeted some notes. A portion of the thread
The hotel charges known as resort fees are again under scrutiny — this time, from state attorneys general.
Travelers loathe the mandatory — and consumer watchdogs say, confusing — fees, which vary by location and by the services they purport to cover. Some hotels charge the fees for Wi-Fi and gym access, while others may use them to cover in-room safes, newspapers or bottled water — whether guests use them or not.
The attorneys general in Washington, D.C., and Nebraska filed separate but similar lawsuits this summer against two big hotel chains, accusing them of deceiving travelers by failing to include the resort fees in their published room rates, making it hard for consumers to compare rates when booking online. The suits allege that the hotels’ “deceptive and misleading” pricing practices violate consumer protection laws.
The suits, brought against the Marriott and Hilton chains, follow an investigation of hotel industry pricing practices by the attorneys general in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the attorneys general in Washington, D.C., and Nebraska.
Travelers searching for lodging, whether on hotel websites or on separate travel websites, typically are not made aware of the resort fees until after they have clicked past the initial search results page and have started booking, according to a complaint filed in July against Marriott International by the attorney general in Washington….
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
August 24, 1966 — Fantastic Voyage with Raquel Welch opened in theatres. It was based on a story by Otto Klement and Jerome Bixby. Bixby was a script writer for Star Trek writing four episodes: “Mirror, Mirror”, “Day of the Dove”, “Requiem for Methuselah”, and “By Any Other Name”.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 24, 1896 — Stanton Arthur Coblentz. A very prolific genre writer whose first published genre work was The Sunken World, a satire about Atlantis, serialized in Hugo Gernsback’s Amazing Stories Quarterly starting in July, 1928. Scattered tales by him are available in digital form from iBooks and Kindle but it looks no one has actually systematically digitized him yet. (Died 1982.)
Born August 24, 1899 — Gaylord Du Bois. He was a writer of comic book stories and comic strips, as well as Big Little Books. He wrote Tarzan for Dell Comics and Gold Key Comics from the Forties to early Seventies.) He was one of the writers for Space Family Robinson which was the basis for the Lost in Space series. (Died 1993.)
Born August 24, 1915 — James Tiptree Jr. One of our most brilliant short story writers ever. She only wrote two novels, Up the Walls of the World and Brightness Falls from the Air but they too are worth reading even if critics weren’t pleased by them. (Died 1987.)
Born August 24, 1932 — William M. Sheppard. I remember him best as Blank Reg on Max Headroom but I see he has a long history in genre with appearances in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (as a Klingon prison warden), The Prestige, Mysterious Island (in which he played Captain Nemo), Needful Things, Elvira, Mistress of The Darkness, The Doctor and the Devils, Transformers and Star Trek (in an uncredited role as Vulcan Science Minister). Series wise, he’s shown up, on Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, Babylon 5, The Legend of King Arthur, Next Gen, seaQuest DSV, Poltergeist: The Legacy, Voyager and The Librarians. And yes, Doctor Who. He was Old Canton Everett Delaware III in “The Impossible Astronaut” story which featured the Eleventh Doctor. (Died 2019.)
Born August 24, 1934 — Kenny Baker. Certainly his portrayal of R2-D2 in the Star Wars franchise is what he’s best known for but he’s also been in Circus of Horrors, Wombling Free, Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader series, The Elephant Man, Sleeping Beauty, Time Bandits, Willow, Flash Gordon and Labyrinth. Personally, I think his best role was as Fidgit in Time Bandits. (Died 2016.)
Born August 24, 1951 — Orson Scott Card, 68. Ender’s Game and its sequel, Speaker for the Dead, both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the only author to win the two top genre Awards in consecutive years. Huh. I think the only thing I’ve read by him is Ender’s Game. So anyone here read his more recent works?
Born August 24, 1951 — Tony Amendola, 68. Prolly best known or being the Jaffa master Bra’tac on Stargate SG-1. He’s also had recurring roles as Edouard Kagame of Liber8 on Continuum and on Once Upon a Time as Pinocchio’s creator, Geppetto. His list of one-off genre appearances is extensive and includes Angel, Charmed, Lois & Clark,Space: Above and Beyond, the Crusade spin-off of Babylon 5, X Files, Voyager, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Alias, She-Wolf of London and Kindred: The Embraced. He’s also been a voice actor in gaming with roles in such games as World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, World of Warcraft: Legion and Workd of Final Fantasy.
Born August 24, 1957 — Stephen Fry, 62. He’s Gordon Deitrich in V for Vendetta, and he’s the Master of Lakedown in The Hobbit franchise. His best role is as Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. And he’s the narrator for all seven of the Potter novels for the UK audiobook recordings
Born August 24, 1958 — Lisa A. Barnett. Wife of Melissa Scott. All of her works were for-authored with her: The Armor of Light, Point of Hopes: A Novel of Astreiant and Point of Dreams: A Novel of Astreiant. They wrote one short story, “The Carmen Miranda Gambit”. (Died 2006.)
Born August 24, 1972 — Ava DuVernay, 47. Director of A Wrinkle in Time. She will be directing a New Gods film based upon the characters that Jack Kirby created. She and Tom King, who had the writing for recent Mister Miracle series (one of the New Gods), will co-write the film.
Born August 24, 1976 — Alex O’Loughlin, 43. I discover the oddest things in doing these Birthdays. Did you know that an obscure Marvel character named Man Thing got used for a horror film of that name? This Australian actor who is much better as the lead for the retooled Hawaii Five-0 was in it. He’s was also in horror films Feed and The Invisible, both Australian, and The American Moonlight series where he’s a vampire PI named Mick St. John. It lasted sixteen episodes.
(11) LATE BLOOMER. Like PJ Evans said after reading this, “It’s awfully dusty in here, all of a sudden.” Thanks to Soon Lee for leaving the link in comments.
My grandmother passed away. Her funerals were today, but here I’d like to talk about the most important thing I couldn’t spend too much time on in her eulogy: her love for Dungeons & Dragons. #DnD
She started very late, at 75, only a little over a year ago. One day I simply asked her if she’d like to try, and, like always when presented with something new, she said “Of course!”. So we grabbed my PHB and built up a character together.
My grandmother chose to be a forest gnome because they seemed the most happy of the races and she really liked the fact that she could talk to small animals. She went with druid just to double down on the animal-friendship theme.
(Also when we went through the character traits, I asked her: “Do you want to be a boy or a girl?”, and she answered right away “I’ve been a girl my whole life, it’d be fun to try being a boy for once”.)
So, we’re making her character sheet, rolling her stats (she gets a 17 and puts it in WIS) and chosing her first spells, and I ask her if she has a name in mind. “I don’t know, I’ll find one by tomorrow”.
That night, she does something that even I never expected: she goes on the Internet and reads every piece of lore she can find about gnomes. She barely knew how to Google, and yet here she was, browsing Wikipedia articles and D&D fansites….
(12) SURVIVING AS A WRITER. N.K. Jemisin argues against the
attitude that writers with day jobs just need to tough it out. Thread starts here.
NASA is examining a claim that an astronaut improperly accessed the bank account of her estranged spouse from the International Space Station, The New York Times reported Friday — potentially the first criminal allegation from space.
NASA astronaut Anne McClain told investigators she had accessed the bank account of her spouse while on a six-month mission aboard the ISS in preparation for her role in NASA’s anticipated first all-female spacewalk, the Times reported.
McClain’s spouse, former Air Force intelligence officer Summer Worden, brought a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission that McClain had committed identity theft, despite not seeing any indication of moved or spent funds.
Worden’s parents then brought another complaint with NASA’s Office of Inspector General, alleging that McClain had improperly accessed Worden’s private financial records and conducted a “highly calculated and manipulative campaign” to gain custody of Worden’s son.
McClain’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, told the Times that “she strenuously denies that she did anything improper” and “is totally cooperating.”
When the crewmembers of the starship Enterprise pull into orbit around a new planet, one of the first things they do is scan for life-forms. Here in the real world, researchers have long been trying to figure out how to unambiguously detect signs of life on distant exoplanets.
They are now one step closer to this goal, thanks to a new remote-sensing technique that relies on a quirk of biochemistry causing light to spiral in a particular direction and produce a fairly unmistakable signal. The method, described in a recent paper published in the journal Astrobiology, could be used aboard space-based observatories and help scientists learn if the universe contains living beings like ourselves.
In recent years, remote-life detection has become a topic of immense interest as astronomers have begun to capture light from planets orbiting other stars, which can be analyzed to determine what kind of chemicals those worlds contain. Researchers would like to figure out some indicator that could definitively tell them whether or not they are looking at a living biosphere.
This week’s books and more, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below think you might find of some interest (or, infrequently, you should be warned away from); certainly, most weeks we have a few not at all forgotten titles, and this week is festooned with not-obscure writers and their books which have fallen mostly out of favor, or, even more often, been lost in the shuffle of their prolific legacy…i
Patricia Abbott: My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier
Stacy Alesi: The A List: Fiction Reviews: 1983-2013
Brad Bigelow: No Goodness in the Worm by Gay Taylor
Les Blatt: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie; The Case of the Careless Kitten by Erle Stanley Gardner
Elgin Bleecker: The Case of the Beautiful Beggar by Erle Stanley Gardner
Brian Busby: The Squeaking Wheel by John Mercer
Rachel S. Cordasco: from 13 French Science Fiction Stories, edited and translated by Damon Knight, stories by Catherine Cliff, Natalie Henneberg, Suzanne Malaval
Martin Edwards: Midsummer Murder by Clifford Whitting
Peter Enfantino: Atlas (proto-Marvel) horror comics, August 1952
Peter Enfantino and Jack Seabrook: DC war comics, July 1975
Barry Ergang: The Last Best Hope by “Ed McBain” (Evan Hunter)
Will Errickson: Unholy Trinity by Ray Russell
José Ignacio Escribano: “Ibn-Hakam al Bokhari, Murdered in His Labyrinth” by Jorge Luis Borges (variously translated from “Abenjacán el Bojarí, muerto en su laberinto”), Sur, August 1951
Curtis Evans: recommendations to the Library of America
Olman Feelyus: Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper
Paul Fraser: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1954, edited by “Anthony Boucher” (William White)
John Grant: Bad Debts by Peter Temple; The Lazarus Curse by Tessa Harris; When Elves Attack by Tim Dorsey
Aubrey Hamilton: Most Cunning Workmen by Roy (John Royston) Lewis; Bad to the Bones by Rett MacPherson
Bev Hankins: Family Affair by Ione Sandberg Shriber
Rich Horton: Stories of Brian W. Aldiss; stories of Rachel Pollack; The Dalemark Quartet by Diana Wynne Jones; stories of Greg Egan; stories of Lucius Shepard; The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury; The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer; Christopher Priest novels
Jerry House: “The Death Chair” by L. T. (Elizabeth Thomasina) Meade and Robert Eustace, The Strand Magazine, July 1899, edited by Herbert Smith
Sally Fitzgerald: “The Train” by Flannery O’Connor, Sewanee Review, April 1948, edited by Alan Tate
Kate Jackson: The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers; Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie
Tracy K: City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin; Behind That Curtain by Earl Derr Biggers
Colman Keane: Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse by Lee Goldberg
George Kelley: The Case of the Borrowed Brunette by Earl Stanley Gardner
Joe Kenney: The Anderson Tapes by Lawrence Sanders; Cult of the Damned by “Spike Andrews” (Duane Schemerhorn)
Rob Kitchin: Black Hornet by James Sallis
B. V. Lawson: The FBI: A Centennial History 1908-2008, Anonymous (produced by the US Dept. of Justice)
Evan Lewis: Hombre by Elmore Leonard
Steve Lewis: “The Spy Who Came to the Brink” by Edward D. Hoch, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, December 1965, edited by Frederic Dannay; “The Theft from the Onyx Pool”, EQMM, June 1967; stories from Forbidden River by Frederick Nebel; The Detective and the Chinese High-Fin by Michael Craven
J. F. Norris: Secret Sceptre by Francis Gerard
Matt Paust: Hollywood by Charles Bukowski
James Reasoner: Love Addict by “Don Elliott” (Robert Silverberg)
Richard Robinson: Have Space Suit–Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein
Sandra Ruttan: A Thousand Bones by P. J. Parrish
Gerard Saylor: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Doreen Sheridan: The Suspect by L. R. Wright
Steven H Silver: “giANTS” by Edward Bryant, Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, August 1979, edited by Stanley Schmidt
Kerrie Smith: Head in the Sand by Damien Boyd
Dan Stumpf: The Third Man by Graham Greene; Leonardo’s Bicycle by Paco Ignacio Taibo II
“TomCat”: Terror Tower by Gerald Verner
David Vineyard: Murder on the Ballarat Train by Kerry Greenwood
Disney will officially enter the streaming wars in the fall when it launches its direct-to-consumer platform, Disney+, in November.
The platform, in the works since August 2017 when it was announced during an earnings call by Disney CEO Bob Iger, saw the media behemoth begin to pull its films from Netflix in a bid to use fare like Marvel features to incentivize potential subscribers to the service.
Make no mistake, Disney+ is the company’s biggest bet yet. The service — designed as a competitor to Netflix with a monthly price of $6.99 — will be a home to Disney’s massive animated feature library as well as assets from Lucasfilm (Star Wars), Pixar and Marvel, including new scripted offerings from the latter two companies.
Disney+ will be a separate service from its majority stake in Hulu and sports-themed ESPN+. While viewers will have to pay for each of the three services, they will all exist on the same platform — meaning subscribers can use the same password and credit card for each and all….
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, John
A Arkansawyer, Martin Morse Wooster, Contrarius, Karl-Johan Norén, Mike
Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File
770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]
…[Vudu Senior Director Julian] Franco had more details to share when it came to Vudu’s plans for non-interactive, original content. He announced that the service is producing (in partnership with eOne and Bell Canada) “Albedo,” a science fiction detective series from “Rampage” director Brad Peyton that will premiere next year, and will mark “Lost” star Evangeline Lilly’s return to TV. In addition, the first three episodes of Nickelodeon’s remake “Blues Clues & You” will premiere on Vudu before they air on linear TV.
Also in the works are unscripted shows like “Turning Point with Randy Jackson” and “Friends in Strange Places,” a travel show with Queen Latifah.
In total, the service will be premiering around a dozen original movies and TV shows later this year, Franco said.
As for those shoppable ads, Vudu Chief Operating Officer and Head of Product Scott Blanksteen said the service is already testing them. These are ads that allow you to purchase the featured products through a pop-up window. He added that these ads are dynamic, changing based on viewer preferences.
(2) WESTEROS SPINOFFS. Although Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman told
The Hollywood Reporter in April that his time with the franchise is over for
now—because the spinoff series he was attached to is officially scrubbed, George
R.R.Martin had this to say on his blog.
Oh, and speaking of television, don’t believe everything you read. Internet reports are notoriously unreliable. We have had five different GAME OF THRONES successor shows in development (I mislike the term “spinoffs”) at HBO, and three of them are still moving forward nicely. The one I am not supposed to call THE LONG NIGHT will be shooting later this year, and two other shows remain in the script stage, but are edging closer. What are they about? I cannot say. But maybe some of you should pick up a copy of FIRE & BLOOD and come up with your own theories.
Born May 5, 1908 — Pat Frank. Author of Alas, Babylon. also wrote a 160-page non-fiction book, How To Survive the H Bomb And Why (1962). (Insert irony here.) Forbidden Area, another novel, he wrote, was adapted by Rod Serling for the 1957 debut episode of Playhouse 90. (Died 1964.)
Born May 5, 1926 — Richard Cowper, penname of John Middleton Murry Jr. Christopher Priest in his obit says ‘His best SF is found in the novel The Twilight of Briareus and the books in the White Bird of Kinship series, but most of his short stories were also remarkable. His work always stood out in the SF genre: he was anachronistic, but he dazzled with his elegant, precise, bountiful prose.’ (Died 2002.)
Born May 5, 1942 — Marc Alaimo, 77. Best known for his role as recurring villain Gul Dukat on Deep Space Nine. He was also a security officer in Total Recall named Captain Everett, and the human form of an alien in The Last Starfighter.
Born May 5, 1942 — Lee Killough, 77. Author of two series, the Brill and Maxwell series which I read a very long time ago and remember enjoying, and the Bloodwalk series which doesn’t ring even a faint bell. I see she’s written a number of stand-alone novels as well – who’s read deeply of her?
Born May 5, 1943 — Michael Palin, 76. Monty Python of course. I’ll single him out for writing Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and co-writing Time Bandits with Terry Gilliam. Though decidedly not genre, I going to single him out for being in A Fish Called Wanda for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
Born May 5, 1944 — John Rhys-Davies, 75. Known for his portrayal of Gimli and the voice of Treebeard in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, General Leonid Pushkin in The Living Daylights, King Richard I in Robin of Sherwood, Professor Maximillian Arturo in Sliders, Macbeth in Gargoyles, Hades in Justice League and Sallah in the Indiana Jones films.
Born May 5, 1979 — Catherynne M. Valente, 40. The list thing I read by her was The Refrigerator Monologues which is a lot of fun. Space Opera is in by TBR pile and I’d like to know what y’all thought of it. My favorite work by her? Oh, by far that’d be the two volumes of The Orphan’s Tales which I go back to fairly often — stunning writing. If you’ve not read them yet, here’s her telling “The Tea Maid And The Tailor” as excerpted from In the Night Garden which is from Green Man.
Born May 5, 1983 — Henry Cavill, 46. Best known portraying Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. He appears next in Mission: Impossible – Fallout. He did early in his career as Mike in Hellraiser: Hellworld and was The Hunter In Red Riding Hood, an interesting musical.
Free Range tells a story about Noah that was left out of Genesis.
Frank and Ernest have questionable advice for scientists searching for extraterrestrial life.
“To Boldly Go Where No Cat Has Gone Before” is a motto that Texas-based Chronicle Collectibles has taken to heart with its wonderfully whiskered new line, the Star Trek Cats Collection, which is based on the whimsical feline artwork of Jenny Parks.
(7) YODA, HOW
YOU’VE GROWN! Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia
dressed up as Yoda on Star Wars Day and helped give out bobbleheads at the park
before the game.
Many people harbor a desire for fame — their face on the screen, their star on a boulevard, their name in print. That’s why it’s been so gratifying to have been given plaudits by no less a personage than Rod Serling, as well as the folks who vote for the Hugos.
But it wasn’t until this month that one of us finally made the big time. Check out this month’s issue of Analog, for in the very back is a letter whose sardonic commentary makes the author evident even before one gets to the byline. Yes, it’s our very own John Boston, Traveler extraordinaire.
With that said, “watchable” and “entertaining in the moment” are not precisely the same thing to me as “fun” and “enjoyable.” Watching Endgame to me felt like being on a forced march through a checklist of plot points and character moments, and after a (very short) time I began to be rather conscious of all the scenes that existed not to be an organic moment of story but to be fanservice for a particular character (or set of characters), or to make sure some barely-remembered loose end was tucked in. By the third act and its climactic and overstuffed battle scene, it stopped being clever and started being exhausting. I felt like a kid on vacation being dragged to all the sights on a tour, with no time to really enjoy any of them because look, we’re on a schedule here.
…Spinning Silver is not “Uprooted 2” but it shares common features: based on folk tale tropes and using a (sort of) Eastern European setting to tell an original story with familiar aspects. Instead, we get a story of multiple characters navigating a world of promises, oaths and bargains and the consequences of ambiguous terms.
“You’ve been trying not to pee in your pants your whole life,” says the retired astronaut Scott Kelly, who wore a diaper for liftoff and landing on all four of his space missions. Going into orbit will require you to confront your body in ways you don’t have to on Earth. Get over decades of conditioning by rehearsing basic bodily functions on land: Put on a diaper, lie on the floor with your legs up on the couch, and practice urinating without shame or gravity’s assistance. (Don’t, and you’ll risk damaging your bladder when your body won’t relieve itself in space.)
Leaving Earth is dangerous; you might die, and you should acknowledge and grapple with that before you go. Kelly has spent a total of 520 days in space. Before departing, he always wrote letters to his loved ones to be opened only in the case of his death. Seek help beforehand. Don’t step foot in a spacecraft without some counseling….
It’s not unusual for TV fans to wish that their favourite shows would carry on (Fleabag anyone?). But it seems viewers who long for more have an unlikely ally – former UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
Speaking on David Tennant’s podcast, US writer and actress Tina Fey revealed that, while leader, Mr Cameron implored her to lobby the British TV industry to churn out as many episodes as US shows do.
“Come and convince our showrunners that they can’t just make six episodes of things. Like you guys, they should make 200 episodes,” she recalled him saying.
Fey rejected the request, however, explaining that US writers were, in fact, jealous of the less-is-more British approach.
(13) FUSSIN’ & FEUDIN’. The cold opening of last night’s Saturday Night Live is a Family Feud episode pitting the Game of Thrones against the Avengers.
Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock,
Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories.
Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) MIGNOGNA FILES SUIT. Anime News Network reported in January that a Twitter thread accused dub voice actor Vic Mignogna of homophobia, rude behavior, and making unwanted physical advances on female con-goers. He’s now filed suit claiming several individuals and a corporation have damaged his professional career.
This comes after a wave of misconduct accusations which resulted in Mignogna’s removal from Funimation’s The Morose Mononokean 2 and Rooster Teeth’s RWBY. Allegations first started to surface around the release of Dragon Ball Super: Broly, in which Mignogna voices the title character.
Mignogna is seeking “monetary relief over $1,000,000.00” in part due to Funimation no longer contracting him for future productions, as well as conventions canceling his appearances. Mignogna and his lawyer are also seeking “judgment against the Defendants for actual, consequential and punitive damages according to the claims … in amounts to be determined on final hearing, pre- and post-judgment interest at the highest rate permitted by law, and costs of court” in addition to “such other and further relief to which he may be justly or equitably entitled” and “general relief.”
Mignogna is represented by Ty Beard of Beard Harris Bullock Hughes in Tyler, Texas.
The lawsuit alleges that Sony executive Tammi Denbow told Mignogna in mid-January she was “investigating three allegations of sexual harassment against him,” and that on January 29 “Denbow and another Sony executive informed [Mignogna] that his employment with Funimation was terminated” following an investigation. Denbow is listed on LinkedIn as “Executive Director, Employee Relations at Sony Pictures Entertainment.” Sony Pictures Television Networksacquired a majority stake in FUNimation in October 2017.
The suit claims that “Ronald (a Funimation agent or employee) has tweeted more than 80 times that Vic sexually assaulted or assaulted Monica, more than 10 times that Vic sexually assaulted or assaulted three of his “very close friends,” more than 10 times that Vic has been accused of hundreds and possibly thousands of assaults, and at least 17 times that Vic is a “predator.” It also points to a number of tweets made by Rial and Marchi.
(2) BROAD UNIVERSE. Broad
Universe is “a nonprofit
international organization of women and men dedicated to celebrating and
promoting the work of women writers of science fiction, fantasy and horror.”
This is a heads-up on a problem related to Broad Universe participation in upcoming cons.
As you know, I organized the RavenCon RFR. When I submitted my invoice for the poster, BU Treasurer Marta Murvosh informed me that men weren’t allowed to read. This came as a complete shock, since I’ve been organizing RFRs—and submitting invoices for posters—for years. When I objected, Marta advised me that it would only be okay if the man depicted in the poster identified as non-cisgendered. Otherwise, he couldn’t read…but maybe he could moderate.
I said no. It was too late to change line-up. Moreover, it would have been grossly unfair to a member who prepared to read in good faith, with no prior warning that it was not allowed…
(The poster expense has been reimbursed, but the main controversy
is still under discussion.)
… It’s not right to ask them to host events that violate their anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. Likewise, I will not knowingly participate in or organize any event for an organization that practices discrimination or accepts money under false pretenses.
Finally, as an officer of BWAWA, I am obliged to inform to inform the cons that look to me to moderate their BU-related programming (Balticon, Dragon Con, Capclave and all BWAWA-associated events, such as the 2014 and 2018 World Fantasy Cons) of the potential liability issues created by BU’s current policies. Some of the women responding on the BU forum thought I was bluffing when I said this could cause a number of major cons to drop all BU events. It wasn’t a bluff, or a threat. It was a statement of fact. In the absence of a commitment to change the problematic policies before they have to go to print on program materials and signage, both Balticon and Dragon Con will drop all BU programming. In the absence of a policy by mid-summer, there will be no RFR at this year’s Capclave. It won’t even make the preliminary list of panel ideas.
Balticon reportedly has addressed the issue by keeping the
event and renaming it.
Jason Gilbert: I am the male member who was included in the Ravencon BU Rapid Fire Reading. I had a blast doing it, and enjoyed listening to my friends read. I was the only dude in the room. I thought my membership and the money I paid for that membership was my way of supporting women and the BU cause. Had I known that my membership was nothing more than a handout to an organization that excludes members from participating in BU events based on their gender, I would never have signed up or supported BU. I feel excluded, a little betrayed, and angry for my friends who are catching the heat and consequences for allowing me to participate. I am the other Co-Director of Programming at ConCarolinas, and I will also be reporting to the concom on the discriminatory practices of BU, as it directly violates the ConCarolinas anti-discrimination policy. I will also be canceling my membership, and will no longer support Broad Universe. Jean Marie Ward, I am sorry you are having to deal with this, and thank you for letting me read during the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading at Ravencon. I truly thought I was supporting an honest organization.
Morven Westfield: Please give the Motherboard a chance to find out what’s going on. I am saddened that the conventions dropped us without hearing the Motherboard’s side of the story, but I understand they probably want to err on the side of caution. Please give the Motherboard time to investigate this.
Someone recently commented (sorry, I’m reading too many things and can’t remember who said what) that bisexuals are endangered by the current policy of not letting men read. I’m not trying to stir anything up, but I am asking sincerely, how so? If a bisexual, pansexual, or asexual person identifies as female, she can read. It’s not sexual orientation, but gender. Remember that when Broad Universe formed, it was to help women overcome the problems they encountered in a male-dominated publishing industry because they were women, not because they had a different sexual orientation.
…To all who are reading this, let me reiterate what Inanna said. “The MotherBoard is not a bunch of fiendish con-artists who sit around chortling as we think up ways to cheat our members.” As I said before, I think it’s a communication error. In looking through my emails I found reference to a Broad Universe brochure we used in 2010 that said that only women would be allowed to read in RFRs. The wording was taken from our web page at that time. So something happened after 2010.
Also, it appears that Broads on the East Coast were still going by the 2010 and earlier policies (men not allowed to read), but other parts of the country were regularly allowing that, and it seemed like both halves were unaware what was going on. In other words, miscommunication.
Please bear with the Motherboard as they try to sort this out.
FANZINES. Edie Stern alerts Harlan Ellison fans to some new items at Fanac.org:
For those that are interested in Harlan’s early fannish career, Fanac has something nice for you today. We’ve uploaded 6 issues of his fanzine Science Fantasy from the early 1950s. Not only is there writing by Harlan, but by Bob Bloch, MZB, Dean Grennell, Algis Budrys, Bob Silverberg and more. Scanning by Joe Siclari. You can reach the index page at: http://fanac.org/fanzines/Harlan_Ellison/
(4) CHILDREN IN
PERIL. Fran Wilde makes a point about the parallels of life and fiction.
Thread starts here.
[Compiled by Cat
Born April 20, 1937 — George Takei, 82. Hikaru Sulu on the original Trek. And yes, I know that Vonda McIntyre wouldn’t coin the first name until a decade later in her Entropy Effect novel. Post-Trek, he would write Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe with Robert Asprin. By the way, his first genre roles were actually dubbing the English voices of Professor Kashiwagi of Rodan! The Flying Monster and the same of the Commander of Landing Craft of Godzilla Raids Again.
Born April 20, 1939 — Peter S. Beagle, 80. I’ve known him for about fifteen years now, met him but once in that time. He’s quite charming. My favorite works? Tamsin, Summerlong and In Calabria.
Born April 20, 1949 — John Ostrander, 70. Writer of comic books, including Grimjack, Suicide Squad and Star Wars: Legacy. Well those are the titles he most frequently gets noted for but I’ll add in the Spectre, Martian Manhunter and the late Eighties Manhunter as well.
Born April 20, 1949 — Jessica Lange, 70. Her very first role was Dwan in King Kong. Later genre roles are modest, Sandra Bloom Sr. in Big Fish and Constance Langdon / Elsa Mars / Fiona Goode / Sister Jude Martin in American Horror Story.
Born April 20, 1951 — Louise Jameson, 68. Leela of the Sevateem, companion to the Fourth Doctor. Appeared in nine stories of which my favorite was “The Talons of Weng Chiang” which I reviewed here. She segued from Dr. Who to The Omega Factor where she was the regular cast as Dr. Anne Reynolds. These appear to her only meaningful genre roles.
Born April 20, 1959 — Clint Howard, 60. So the most interesting connection that he has to the genre is playing Balok, the strange child like alien, in “The Corbomite Maneuver” which I remember clearly decades after last seeing it. Other than that, there’s very he’s done of a genre nature that’s even mildly interesting other than voicing Roo three in three Winnie-the-Pooh films.
Born April 20, 1959 — Carole E. Barrowman, 60. Sister of John Barrowman. John and Carole co-wrote a Torchwood comic strip, featuring Jack Harkness, entitled Captain Jack and the Selkie. They’ve also written the Torchwood: Exodus Code audiobook. In addition, they’ve written Hollow Earth, a horror novel. She contributed an essay about her brother to the Chicks Dig Time Lords anthology.
Born April 20, 1964 — Crispin Glover, 55. An American actor and director, Glover is known for portraying George McFly in Back to the Future, Willard Stiles in the Willard remake, Ilosovic Stayne/The Knave of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, Grendel in Beowulf, Phil Wedmaier in Hot Tub Time Machine, and 6 in 9. He currently stars in American Gods as Mr. World, the god of globalization.
Born April 20, 1964 — Andy Serkis, 55. I admit that the list of characters that he has helped create is amazing: Gollum in The Lord of the Rings films and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, King Kong in that film, Caesar in the Planet of the Apes reboot series. Captain Haddock / Sir Francis Haddock in The Adventures of Tintin (great film that was), and even Supreme Leader Snoke in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Last year, he portrayed the character of Baloo in his self-directed film, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle.
LONDON! The heart of the world of publishing. It was here that I would build my empire! I immediately set off to the zoo to visit the penguins. Strangely, they were untalkative and showed no sign of controlling a vast business of iconic paperbacks. They mainly waddled around an enclosure with excellent views of Regent Park…
If the BBC’s upcoming War of the Worlds TV adaptation wasn’t enough for you then buckle up, because a new project by Audible is bringing the works of novelist HG Wells to life with a series of star-studded audiobook adaptations.
Former Doctor Who star David Tennant is set to narrate alien invasion classic The War of the Worlds, while Oscar nominee Sophie Okonedo will tackle The Invisible Man.
Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville will narrate The Time Machine, with Harry Potter and Star Trek: Discovery star Jason Isaacs lending his voice to The Island of Doctor Moreau and Versailles’ Alexander Vlahos reading The First Men in the Moon.
(8) THE LONG AND WINDING
ROAD. LROC graphs the movements
of the first astronauts on the surface of the Moon: “Apollo 11”.
Astronauts Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin landed the Apollo 11 Lunar Module (LM) in Mare Tranquillitatis [0.67416 N, 23.47314 E], at 20:17:40 UTC 20 July 1969. They spent a total of 21.5 hours on the lunar surface, performing one Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) and collecting 21.5 kg of lunar samples. Astronaut Michael Collins orbited the Moon in the Lunar Command Module (LCM), awaiting the return of Armstrong and Aldrin from the surface. Apollo 11 was the first lunar landing, however it was the fifth manned Apollo mission, earlier missions laying the ground-work for Apollo 11.
(9) OUR POSITRONIC
PROSECUTORS. CrimeReads’ M.G.
Wheaton surveys sf’s attitudes towards artificial intelligence and suggests that
someday machines will make our lives better and won’t such be vehicles to crush
us or take our jobs. Or maybe not: “Why
We’ve Decided That The Machines Want to Kill Us”.
…While hardly the first filmic thinking machine to read the tea leaves and decide to either wipe out humanity (Terminator), subjugate it (The Matrix), or rid us of our freedom of thought (everything from Alphaville to any Borg episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation), Age of Ultron wins the prize for its antagonist coming to that conclusion the fastest.
So, why is this? Why does HAL 9000 decide the only way to complete his mission is to kill all the humans aboard his ship in 2001: A Space Odyssey? Why does Colossus, the titular super-computer from Colossus: The Forbin Project start out friendly then conclude the only way to end the Cold War is to seize all the nukes and demand subservience in return for not setting them off? Why as early as 1942 when Isaac Asimov laid down his Three Laws of Robotics did he feel the need to say in the very first one that robots must be programmed not to ever hurt humans as otherwise we’d be doomed?
I mean, are we really so bad?
Well, as we’re the ones writing all these stories, maybe it’s not the machines that find us so inferior….
Perhaps in response to Asimov’s rebuttal in 1980, he showed up in a Superman comic book at the end of that year in a story by Cary Bates (with artwork by Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte) in Superman #355. Here, Asimov is, instead, Asa Ezaak, and he is a bit of a condescending jerk to Lois Lane at a science conference….
…He plans on injecting himself with a special “potion” that gives him gravity powers! He is now Momentus!
‘The Museum of Classic Sci-Fi’ is a permanent exhibition, nestled in the historic, Northumberland village of Allendale. Situated beside the market place square, visitors will embark upon a nostalgic tour of some of the genre’s most influential imagery and themes. Featuring a substantial and eclectic collection of over 200 original screen-used props, costumes and production made artefacts; the museum tells the story of the Science-Fiction genre and acts a visual ‘episode guide’ to classic era ‘Doctor Who’. In addition, artist Neil Cole has produced unique paintings and sculptures, to enhance the impact of the presentations.It includes a “Doctor Who Gallery” –
Oh, Ein. Sweet, sweet Ein. Where would the Cowboy Bebop team (especially Edward) be without this data dog? This super-intelligent corgi has all the charm of a pup and all the computing power of a… well… a computer. He’s the best of all worlds.
Now we just have one question: Which lucky corg will play Ein in the upcoming live-action Cowboy Bebop?
[Thanks to John King
Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Hampus Eckerman, Mike Kennedy JJ, Martin Morse
Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
day Darren Garrison.]
In a cheeky nod to the end of “Infinity War,” Sunday’s press conference for the upcoming “Avengers: Endgame” left several seats empty for the actors who played characters snapped into oblivion by Thanos.
“Post-Snap, there’s a few empty seats, so I’d like to welcome back the people that you see here onstage,” said “Iron Man” director and star Jon Favreau, who hosted the event.
Those who did make it included Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, “Endgame” directors Anthony and Joe Russo, and stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Danai Gurira, Chris Hemsworth, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Karen Gillan, Jeremy Renner, and “Captain Marvel” newcomer Brie Larson.
(3) CELLAR DOOR (NOT INTO
SUMMER). Empire posted an
exclusive clip from the Tolkien biopic.
Tolkien explores the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school. This takes him into the outbreak of World War I, which threatens to tear the “fellowship” apart. All of these experiences would inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-Earth novels.
…But fan works, and the community that surrounds them, often don’t get the respect they deserve. So AO3’s nomination for the prestigious award—both for the platform itself and for the platform as a proxy for the very concept of fan fiction—is a big deal. Many, both inside and outside the sci-fi and fantasy community, deride fan fiction as mostly clumsy amateur works of sexual fantasy—critiques that, as those who have looked at them closely have pointed out, have a glaringly gendered component. Erotic fan fiction is part of the landscape—and, frankly, can be a wonderful part of it—but it’s about more than that. It’s about spending more time in the worlds you love and exploring characters beyond the page. It’s about speculating overhow things could be different, just as good science fiction and fantasy does. And it’s also about critiquing source texts, pushing back against harmful narratives, and adding and correcting certain types of representation (including the ways women and LGBTQ people are portrayed in these genres).
(6) SHOOTING THE MOON. Christian Davenport in the Washington Post questions whether the
administration’s goal of landing on the Moon in 2024 can be met, since the plan
is based on a lunar orbital station that has not been built, much less
contracted. Davenport notes that Vice-President Pence “has dedicated
more time to space than any other White House official since the Kennedy
administration.” — “Trump’s
moonshot: The next giant leap or another empty promise?”.
…NASA officials also face a major test of their agency’s effectiveness: Is this another empty promise by an administration nostalgic for the triumph of Apollo and looking to make a splash while in office, or can NASA somehow pull off what would be an audacious step just in time for the presidential election?
Already, there are signs that the White House’s plan is running into fierce head winds.
At a hearing Tuesday, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.), the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, blasted Pence’s speech for lacking any details of how NASA would achieve what she called a “crash program” or what it would cost.
“We need specifics, not rhetoric,” she said. “Because rhetoric that is not backed up by a concrete plan and believable cost estimates is just hot air. And hot air may be helpful in ballooning, but it won’t get us to the moon or Mars.”
…I did a keynote for Writer Digest conference in Cincinnati not too long ago. I really tried to kick my keynoting abilities up to a new level, and I think I was able to deliver. But while there, I met quite a few staff from Writers Digest. I really hope this ends well for them, as they were all excited about helping writers and celebrating books.
More than half a dozen scientific press conferences are set for 10 April, raising hopes that astronomers have for the first time imaged a black hole, objects with gravitational fields so strong that even light cannot escape. Although their existence is now almost universally accepted, mostly from the effect of their gravity on nearby objects, no one has actually seen one.
Black holes themselves are entirely dark and featureless. The giant ones at the centers of galaxies are also surprisingly small, despite containing millions or billions of times the mass of our sun. To make observing them yet more difficult, those giants are shrouded in clouds of dust and gas. But streams of superhot gas swirl around the holes, emanating radio waves about a millimeter in wavelength that can penetrate those clouds.
On camera in Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, Vonda keenly describes the moment when women began to make a space for themselves in science fiction and fantasy, and the controversy it stirred up. I recorded her during a vacation with Ursula and Charles Le Guin in the southeast Oregon desert on a blistering day — a day so hot that the camera overheated and we had to pause filming and cool off. I still feel a little guilty about the heat of that afternoon, and grateful that she endured it.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
April 9, 1960 – The Mercury Seven astronauts were introduced to the public.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 9, 1911 — George O. Smith. He was an active contributor to Astounding Science Fiction during the Forties. His collaboration with the magazine’s editor, John W. Campbell, Jr. ended when Campbell’s first wife, Doña, left him in 1949 and married Smith. Ouch. He was a prolific writer with eight novels and some seventy short stories to his name. He was a member of the all-male dining and drinking club the Trap Door Spiders, which was the inspiration for Asimov’s the Black Widowers. (Died 1981.)
Born April 9, 1926 — Hugh Hefner. According to SFE, he had been an avid reader of Weird Tales when he was younger. Perhaps as a result, Playboy came to feature stories from the likes of Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov, Algis Budrys, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, James Blish, Robert A Heinlein, Frederik Pohl and Rod Serling. Arthur C. Clarke’s “A Meeting with Medusa” which would first run here won a Nebula. (Died 2017.)
Born April 9, 1926 — Avery Schreiber. Principal genre claim is being in Galaxina which parodied Trek, Star Wars and Alien. Other genre appearances included being a rider on a coach in Dracula: Dead and Loving It, the Russian Ambassador in More Wild Wild West and the voice ofBeanie the Brain-Dead Bison on the Animaniacs. (Died 2002.)
Born April 9, 1954 — Dennis Quaid, 65. I’m reasonably sure that his first genre role was in Dreamscape as Alex Gardner followed immediately by the superb role of Willis Davidge in Enemy Mine, followed by completing a trifecta with Innerspace and the character of Lt. Tuck Pendleton. And then there’s the sweet film of Dragonheart and him as Bowen. Anyone hear of The Day After Tomorrow in which he was Jack Hall? I hadn’t a clue about it.
Born April 9, 1972 — Neve McIntosh, 47. During time of the Eleventh Doctor, She plays Alaya and Restac, two Silurian reptilian sisters who have been disturbed under the earth, one captured by humans and the other demanding vengeance. Her second appearance on Doctor Who is Madame Vastra, in “A Good Man Goes to War”. Also a Silurian, she’s a Victorian crime fighter. She’s back in the 2012 Christmas special, and in the episodes “The Crimson Horror” and “The Name of the Doctor”. She reprises her role as Madame Vastra, who along with her wife, Jenny Flint, and Strax, a former Sontaran warrior, form an private investigator team.
Born April 9, 1982 — Brandon Stacy, 37. He worked on both of the new Trek films as a stand-in for Quinto with obviously the acting jones as he become involved in two of the Trek video fanfics, Star Trek: Hidden Frontier and Star Trek: Phase II, the latter in which he portrays Spock of course.
Born April 9, 1990 — Kristen Stewart, 29. She first shows up in our area of interest in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas as a Ring Toss Girl (ok, it wasn’t that bad a film). Zathura: A Space Adventure based off the Chris Van Allsburg book has her playing Lisa Budwing. Jumper based off the Stephen Gould novel of the same name had her in a minor role as Sophie. If you’ve not seen it, I recommend Snow White and the Huntsman which has her in the title role of Snow White. It’s a really great popcorn film. Finally she’s got a gig in The Twilight Saga franchise as Bella Cullen.
Born April 9, 1998 — Elle Fanning, 21. Yes, she’s from that acting family. And she’s certainly been busy, with roles in over forty films! Her first genre film is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button followed by Astro Boy, Super 8, Maleficent, The Boxtrolls, The Neon Demon, the upcoming Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and a recurring role on The Lost Room, a Cursed Objects miniseries that aired on Syfy.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Grimmy tries a
familiar origin story on for size – and it doesn’t fit!
“Wakanda Funk Lounge” by SassyBlack, is a svelte slab of hologram funk delivered directly from the Black Panther nation of Wakanda. This four-song EP contains the chart-topping hits from that nation’s funk lounges, and rising star, SassyBlack.
SassyBlack is a queer “blaxploitation, sci-fi warrior queen” and is also a multi-talented, space-aged songwriter, beatmaker, composer and singer. Her music has been described as “electronic psychedelic soul,” with roots in experimental hip-hop, R&B, and jazz. Her voice has been compared to that of Ella Fitzgerald, Erykah Badu, and Georgia Anne Muldrow and her beats owe a debt to Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones. Like Queen Latifah, she sings, raps, is an actor (who recently appeared on Broad City) and produces all her own music. Before going solo, she recorded and performed as half of the Afrofuturist hip-hop duo THEESatisfaction. Her music has received attention from Okayplayer, Afropunk, The Fader, Pitchfork, Bitch magazine and more.
Her brand new “Wakanda Funk Lounge” EP has been recently released as a 500-copy special-edition 7” single on Seattle hip-hop record label Crane City Music. The cover was designed by visual artist Wutang McDougal and each copy is pressed on colored vinyl and is individually numbered. The music is also available online on all major streaming services and can be purchased digitally through Bandcamp. It’s funky music that reminds us that Wakanda’s main export is “VIBE-ranium.”
In describing the project, SassyBlack says that “Wakanda Funk Lounge is about black freedom. When I think of “Black Panther,” it is talking about black freedom, so much that we have our own secret space. What would be freer than a Wakanda funk lounge?”
This is not her first sci-fi or superhero-themed project. SassyBlack performed at 2018’s Emerald City Comic Con, and her 2016 full-length album, “No More Weak Dates” contains numerous references to Star Trek. In an interview with Hearst publication Shondaland, she explains her sci-fi fascination: “Star Trek and Star Wars have always had bars and concerts. There’s no culture without music… And so Black Panther’s M’Baku invites me to come and perform in one of Wakanda’s funk lounges. This EP is the music I perform there. And where it gets crazy is that I’m like, ‘Listen, I have to leave Wakanda now because I’m going to go join Starfleet.’ [laughs] It could technically work.”
The 230-foot-tall rocket is scheduled to lift off at 6:35 p.m. ET from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This will be only the second flight for the world’s most powerful rocket now in operation.
…You’d be wrong if you thought this was going to be a light-hearted jaunt on airships. We’re quickly introduced to our rag-tag crew aboard the Liberty Wind, with plucky protagonist Serena and the chip on her shoulder, discovering their unique personalities. It’s not long into the story before things start going wrong, the pace immediately picks up and gives us a taste of what’s yet to fully unfold.
It’s commendable that the author strikes while the iron is hot and gets down and dirty within the first chapter…
AFTER THE GREEN WITHERED is definitely a book with a relevant political and social message. Author Kristin Ward does not pull any punches in this regard and the reader absolutely gets a taste of what the world could possibly be like if we continue down our current path with regard to how we are addressing environmental issues. I’m a fan of dystopian SF like this one, and I thought that by and large the author did a solid job of creating an atmosphere that delved into the hopelessness that living under these conditions would obviously engender.
Alliance Rising marks the return of C.J. Cherryh to her Alliance-Union Universe. It’s been ten years since the publication of Regenesis, and since then she’s published nine more Foreigner novels, but it’s been a long wait for Alliance-Union fans. Alliance Rising is the earliest novel set in the timeline. Set on the cusp of the Company Wars, there are plenty of references for long time Cherryh readers: Pell Station, Cyteen, the azi and the Emorys, the ship Finity’s End and its captain JR Neihart. Put together, the novel is grounded in a particular time and the edges of a setting that many readers are well familiar with even though no prior knowledge is required.
Billions are being lost to cyber-crime each year, and the problem seems to be getting worse. So could we ever create unhackable computers beyond the reach of criminals and spies? Israeli researchers are coming up with some interesting solutions.
The key to stopping the hackers, explains Neatsun Ziv, vice president of cyber-security products at Tel Aviv-based Check Point Security Technologies, is to make hacking unprofitable.
“We’re currently tracking 150 hacking groups a week, and they’re making $100,000 a week each,” he tells the BBC.
“If we raise the bar, they lose money. They don’t want to lose money.”
This means making it difficult enough for hackers to break in that they choose easier targets.
And this has been the main principle governing the cyber-security industry ever since it was invented – surrounding businesses with enough armour plating to make it too time-consuming for hackers to drill through. The rhinoceros approach, you might call it.
But some think the industry needs to be less rhinoceros and more chameleon, camouflaging itself against attack.
As the fantasy saga returns for its final series, Chris Mandle asks whether the small screen will ever produce such a worldwide obsession again.
…In the US, season seven had an astonishing average viewership of 32.8 million people per episode – to put that in context, the finale of Mad Men, another critically acclaimed, much talked about prestige drama, pulled in 4.6 million US viewers in 2015 – while in recent years, interest in the show has surged in Asian markets, among others.
But while Thrones changed television, it’s also true that television itself changed during the show’s run. As the wars between the factions of Westeros’s Seven Kingdoms have raged, traditional television has been usurped by streaming services, non-linear viewing and ‘binge’ culture, where consumers, rather than wait patiently for an episode airing each week, are more used to having an entire season dropped in their lap to watch at their leisure.
What seems likely is that Game of Thrones’ swansong might also mark the end of TV’s monoculture era – the age of shows that everyone watches and talks about together. Certainly, nothing else that appears on traditional broadcasters seems primed to roll out on its scale….
… But throughout his career, Silverberg returned obsessively to one of the genre’s key motifs — time travel — upon which he spun elaborate and strikingly original variations. During his New Wave heyday, when he was one of the preeminent American SF writers, he produced six novels dealing centrally with themes of temporal transit or displacement — The Time Hoppers (1967), Hawksbill Station (1968), The Masks of Time (1968), Up the Line (1969), Son of Man (1971), and TheStochastic Man (1975) — his treatment of the topic ranging from straightforward adventure stories to heady philosophical disquisitions. The new collection Time and Time Again: Sixteen Trips in Time (Three Rooms Press, 2018), which gathers 16 stories published between 1956 and 2007, provides a robust — and very welcome — conspectus of Silverberg’s short fiction on the subject….
From Edinburgh to St Andrews and Glasgow to Dundee, the one-horned mythological horse is real in Scotland.
In a corner of Edinburgh, outside the Palace of Holyroodhouse with its witches’ hat towers and crenellated turrets, 74-year-old tour guide Kenny Hanley can often be found pointing to a little piece of magic atop an ornamental gateway at the residence’s southern approach.
The focus of his attention is an almost-forgotten stone emblem of the city and country in which he lives, and yet few realise it’s one that teems with meaning, telling an almost unbelievable story about Scotland’s national identity.
Take a step back, and the fuller picture emerges. There’s a second cast-stone figure opposite – a rampant lion, crowned, and holding a ceremonial flag as it stands guard. But Hanley’s gaze remains drawn to the slender, mythical creature wrapped in chains to our right.
The stone is just stone and the lion is just a lion, but this horse-like figure – adorned with a singularly fancy horn on its forehead – is extraordinary. It is a unicorn. And, believe the hype or not, it is Scotland’s national animal.
…“It’s long been a symbol of purity and power, but also of virginity and subtlety,” said Hanley, who works as a Blue Badge guide for the Scottish Tourist Guides Association. “And those values still stand up when thinking about Scotland today. These are characteristics embedded in the Scottish psyche.”
…According to the National Museum of Scotland, medieval legend further suggests only a king could hold a unicorn captive because of the supposed danger it posed, something that may have given rise to its widespread adoption. What is known is James II wholeheartedly embraced the legend, and the unicorn became the symbol of purity and power that Scottish kings and nobility identified with in the 15th Century. Over time, this led to the unicorn becoming officially recognised as Scotland’s national animal.
John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge,
Mike Kennedy, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter
for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of
the day Jack Lint, who wears his scrolls rolled.]