[Longtime File 770 contributor Francis Hamit brings us up to date, and shares an appeal.]
By Francis Hamit: People in the fan community may have been wondering why I have not been heard from lately. Well, I’ve been very sick. In September 2019 I was diagnosed with spinal stenosis when an occlusion was detected at the C-3 vertebrae that was cutting into my spinal cord. That had to be corrected or I would die. After high-risk surgery in December of that year I had further complications when parts of my C-6 and C7 vertebrae collapsed. This was just as Covid shut everything down so corrective surgery for that was delayed until about a year ago. That required two operations. One to install a titanium box in my neck to hold my head up and the other to place plates and screws from my C-3 to my T-2 vertebrae. That was followed by four-and-a-half months in a skilled nursing facility learning to walk again among other things. A pretty horrible experience for me and for Leigh.
The attached photo is me today, in the new promotional T-shirt for my film The All American. The film project is one I started developing in 2018 and kept researching and writing throughout all of these troubles. I also wrote a 172,000-word novel that is under consideration at a publisher. The script just won an Honorable Mention at the Hollywood Script Awards so I am moving forward raising money for it. The t-shirt campaign is the first step. I need money for legal fees and other costs for a crowdfunding securities campaign. This may seem like fantasy or science fiction to some, like building a starship with your ever handy multi-tool but I think it’s the best way for me to go.
The shirt says “Ground Crew” on the back and those who buy and wear it become members of the film’s ground crew. The ground crew in North Africa with the 414th Bomb Squad were the guys who kept the aircraft flying and were so attached to them that they called them “her” gave them names and personalities and slept under them at night to protect them (This is from a unit logbook). They were real Fans. I am hoping that today’s fans will help this along but buying a shirt now and maybe some shares later on. Here’s the link: “Join The All American’s Ground Crew Custom Ink Fundraising”.
The “On a Wing and a Prayer” motto comes from the popular song inspired by the incident when the All American was struck by a German fighter and still made it back to base. Fitting for what I’m trying to do here.
I won’t be at Chicon 8 or any other for awhile. Still a long way to go before I am fully recovered. But I hope that people will buy a shirt or one of the other items I’ll be offering in an expanded definition of “authorship” towards getting this film made. I am as sane as I ever was. Remember that Gene Roddenberry flew B-17s. Respect for the Master.
One of the most interesting tools for thinking about future defence technology isn’t big data forecasting and the use of synthetic training environments, but narrative and imagination. And we get this from science fiction.
That might sound fanciful, but many militaries are already engaging with the genre. The US military and the French army use science fiction writers to generate future threat scenarios. The Australian Defence College advocates for the reading of science fiction and, in Germany, Project Cassandra uses novels to predict the world’s next conflict. The Sigma Forum, a science fiction think tank, has been offering forecasting services to US officials for years.
But while science fiction provides military planners with a tantalising glimpse of future weaponry, from exoskeletons to mind-machine interfaces, the genre is always about more than flashy new gadgets. It’s about anticipating the unforeseen ways in which these technologies could affect humans and society – and this extra context is often overlooked by the officials deciding which technologies to invest in for future conflicts….
(3) GET READY FOR BLUECON. [Item by Florrie Frederiksen.] BlueCon, the 48th French national science-fiction convention, takes place August 19-22. The in-person event will be held on the international campus of the Valbonne University near Nice and the French Riviera. Ugo Bellagamba, president of this project, waxed poetical in his introduction: “Blue is the primary color of imagination, which may be painted in shades of azure, deep blue, or the morning blue which lightens and opens, the color of the skies, of the sea, which both invite to explore the realms beyond the horizon… ”
It is still possible to join the 105 attendees already committed to make this convention a success; panels and meetings and many tables are already being readied. Although the rooms in the center are already filled, the website lists other possibilities for accommodation nearby. Nice is easily reached by train and there is a good sized airport not far away.
(Warnings: this convention does not plan to have virtual elements. All attendees must make sure to have the compulsory valid “passe sanitaire” i.e. QR code proof of full vaccination or at least a negative PCR test dated after August 17. Even then, both vaccinated or non vaccinated people should be wearing masks and some measures of distance and hygiene will be necessary).
The program of the convention has been posted here.
In Ghostbusters: Afterlife, when a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.
TerrifiCon Week continues with legendary Star Trek writer and creator of Land of the Lost, David Gerrold! David drops by to talk about the origin of his fascination with sci-fi, crafting the most memorable episode of Trek, tackling tales of Tarzan and Superboy, and developing the complex mythology for the 70s Saturday morning sensation, Land of the Lost!
Rescued by US/UN intervention from the perils of the United Republic’s radical democracy, Britain is home to a patchwork of micro-states under the umbrella of the restored Hanoverian monarchy. Within sensible limits, each micro-state is free to govern itself as it sees fit, with heavily armed, remotely piloted war robots providing gentle rebukes should anyone overstep the US/UN guidelines.
Although the peace process can be trying from the perspective of the common person in the street, the system provides something the US/UN treasures: stability. However, stability is a chimera. An unseen enemy has been waiting patiently to bring the US/UN regime down. Now, thanks to a mercenary, a fundamentalist teen, and a scientist, the revolution has come.
(7) HAMIT MEDICAL UPDATE. Longtime File 770 contributor Francis Hamit has had two surgeries this week to deal with spinal stenosis. His partner Leigh Strother-Vien reports:
Francis had his first surgery on Friday, the 23rd, and his second yesterday, the 26th. Everything went well; in fact, they decided Friday’s went so well that they combined the second and the planned third surgeries together yesterday, fixing his spine down to the T2. He is in the ICU for at least one more day just to be extra careful, and he’s getting plenty of pain management. He said to let you know that it’s ok to put something in File 770 if you wish.
Before the surgeries Hamit sent me a note which ended:
…So I am going to be out of action and Leigh will be taking care of me. … I will be “just the writer” for some time to come. Fortunately that’s part of my therapy. So I’m not going anywhere. Just completed that long novel and my memoir and have other work in progress. (Also need a literary agent).
…Thoughts, prayers, good wishes etc are welcome of course. Buying, reading and reviewing my books and stories, (Amazon.com) or dramatic work (Stageplays.com) is also very helpful since it helps out with expenses. No time left for a fundraiser and too much else to do….
(8) A TRIBUTE TO ANDERSSON. The death of horror writer C. Dean Andersson a.k.a. Asa Drake was reported here the other day. Here is a tribute by his friend Christopher Fulbright: “Rest in Peace Dean Andersson”.
… Looking through old pictures is a little bittersweet. We had such great times together, but you never think about having to say goodbye for the last time. You seldom know what conversation will be your last. If I had to pick a last conversation, the one we had was as close to perfect as one might get—we talked about everything from the meaning of life to God himself. We talked a lot about God. I brought him a book of Robert E. Howard’s Kull stories and a Bible, which I promised had heroes and heroines, swords and sorceresses, dragons, pagan gods, epic battles, and the living dead. He was so grateful, and it was such a good talk. I left Dean’s hospital room a week and a half ago with a promise that I would bring lunch by his house and hang out in a couple of weeks, after he’d had a chance to get settled in again at home. Well … I know I’ll see him again someday, it’s just going to be a longer wait. In the meantime, the world is a bit poorer without him. He would no doubt have some subtle quip to make at that, but I insist it’s true….
(9) LESNIAK OBIT. Jim Lesniak of Voodoo Comics died over the weekend while manning his dealers table at the Gem City Comic Con in Dayton, OH according to numerous reports. No more details are known at this writing.
(10) HENRI VERNES (1918-2021). [Item by Florrie Frederiksen:]Henri Vernes (pen-name of Belgian author Charles-Henri-Jean Dewisme, born in 1918) passed away on July 25 at the age of 102.
He is best remembered for the over 200 French language novels of action, fantasy and science-fiction revolving around the BOB MORANE character, that he published continuously since 1953. Bob Morane also appeared in a 1965 television series, a 1996 animated movie, and a number of comics albums with art by well-known French artists.
The character has been made famous by a line in the 1982 song L’Aventurier by French rock group Indochine (“Et soudain surgit face au vent le vrai héros de tous les temps, Bob Morane contre tout chacal, l’aventurier contre tout guerrier.” Tranlsation: “And suddenly, against the wind appeared the real all time hero: Bob Morane fighting any jackal, the adventurer fighting all warriors…”)
A French science-fiction award has been named for Bob Morane (see here).
(11) MEMORY LANE.
July 27, 2001 – Twenty years ago, the Planet of the Apes reboot premiered. Directed by Tim Burton and produced by Richard D. Zanuck, it was the sixth film in the Planet of the Apes franchise, very loosely adapted from Pierre Boulle’s novel and the 1968 film version. The screenplay was by William Broyles Jr., Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal. The primary cast was Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Kris Kristofferson, Estella Warren and Paul Giamatti. The critics mostly liked it though Ebert noted the original was much better, and it did very well at the box office ranking among the top ten films of the year. Currently at Rotten Tomatoes, audience reviewers really don’t like it and give it a twenty-seven percent rating.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 27, 1874 — Frank Shannon. He’s best remembered now as the scientist Dr. Alexis Zarkov in the three Flash Gordon serials starring Buster Crabbe between 1936 and 1940. The serials themselves were Flash Gordon, Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars and Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe. He does show in the Forties Batman serial as Dr. Hayden and The Phantom serial of the era as Professor Davidson. (Died 1959.)
Born July 27, 1938 — Pierre Christin, 83. French comics creator and writer. In the mid Sixties, collaborated with Jean-Claude Mézières to create the science-fiction series Valérian and Laureline for Pilote. Time Jam: Valerian & Laureline, a French animated series was released, and a feature film directed by Luc Besson, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, was released as well. A compilation of the Valerian & Laureline series is on YouTubehere.
Born July 27, 1938 — Gary Gygax. Game designer and author best known for co-creating Dungeons & Dragons with Dave Arneson. In addition to the almost beyond counting gaming modules he wrote, he wrote the Greyhawk Adventure series and the Dangerous Journeys novels, none of which is currently in print. I’ll admit that I’ve not read any of the many novels listed at ISFDB, so I’ve no idea how he is as a genre writer.(Died 2008.)
Born July 27, 1939 — Sydney J. van Scyoc, 82. Her first published story was “Shatter the Wall” in Galaxy in 1962. She continued to write short stories throughout the Sixties and Seventies, and published Saltflower, her first novel in the early Seventies. Assignment Nor’Dyren is one of her better novels. Over the next twenty years, she published a dozen novels and likewise number of short stories.
Born July 27, 1940 — Gary Kurtz. Producer whose genre credits include Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Crystal and Return to Oz. He did a late Eighties SF film Slipstream, which reunited him with Mark Hamill. He was the original producer on The Spirit. He was executive producer on Chandler, a PI film which isn’t genre adjacent but worth noting here. (Died 2018.)
Born July 27, 1949 — Robert Rankin, 72. Writer of what I’d call serious comic genre fiction. Best book by him? I’d single out The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse as the best work he ever did bar none. Hell, even the name is absolutely frelling great.
Born July 27, 1968 — Farah Mendlesohn, 53. She’s an historian and prolific writer on genre literature, and an active fan. Best works by her? I really like her newest work on Heinlein, The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein, whichwon a BSFA. Her Diana Wynne Jones: Children’s Literature and the Fantastic Tradition is also a fascinating read. And I highly recommend her Rhetorics of Fantasy as we don’t get many good theoretical looks at fantasy. Her only Hugo to date was at Interaction for The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction. She’s also garnered a BFA for Children’s Fantasy Literature: An Introduction (shared with co-writer Michael Levy) which also got a Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Myth and Fantasy, and she a Karl Edward Wagner Award winner as well.
Born July 27, 1973 — Cassandra Clare, 48. I read at least the first three or four volumes of her Mortal Instruments series which I see means I’ve almost completed it. Damn good series. Anyone read her Magnus Bane series? Interestingly she’s been nominated for myriad Goodreads Choice Awards and won two for City of Fallen Angels and City of Heavenly Fire.
Half Full is tasteless, but it does involve three supeheroes.
(14) 30 YEARS IN THE MAKING. Here’s a teaser trailer for Mad God, a feature film directed by Phil Tippett, the world’s pre-eminent stop motion animator. Content Warning: Graphic body horror. Tippett’s career credits include Star Wars, RoboCop, and Jurassic Park.
… “After attempting a normal agricultural approach, I stepped back and saw a landscape bleak and exhausted from overgrazing and over-farming,” he explains. “Chemicals injected into the soil and no pause for regeneration or recovery. How does land remain healthy when the cycle of life is ignored?”
The 21st Baron of Dunsany made a radical decision. He removed all grazing animals from the property, gearing towards an overall holistic focus on crops. Pesticides were banned, fertilisers were abandoned and invasive weeds like ragwort and thistle were tackled by hand. “My mum looked at me as if I’d joined a cult.”
Steered by a passionate new advocacy for veganism, Randal — who tradition dictates should be addressed as Lord Dunsany — came upon the concept of ‘rewilding’ seven years ago, a progressive approach to conservation allowing the environment to take care of itself and return to a native natural state. Rather than an experimental litmus test in a quiet corner of the property, he sacrificed 750 acres of a highly profitable 1,700-acre pasture in an unorthodox gamble.
“I wanted to return the land to the wild, not just preserve what little natural habitat remained. So we locked up a huge part of the estate and it was militant. No footfall most of the year, no paths or interference. That’s not to say we abandoned the land, we’re guardians keeping a distant, watchful eye. And the results speak for themselves.”…
A Florida man startled beachgoers when he washed ashore inside a hybrid bubble-running wheel device.
The man, identified by a local news channel as Reza Baluchi, washed ashore in Flagler county on the east coast of Florida on Saturday.
He was inside a large barrel-type device which appeared to have flotation buoys attached to each end. The Flagler county sheriff’s office posted photos of the strange vessel on Facebook.
“The occupant advised he left the St Augustine area yesterday to head to New York,” the sheriff’s office said, “but came across some complications that brought him back to shore”.
…The Sun-Sentinel reported that Baluchi was forced to turn back after he discovered that some of his safety and navigation equipment had been stolen. The equipment has been recovered, and Baluchi plans to resume his journey once the weather improves, the newspaper said.
(18) THE LATEST MEMES OF 2003. In Honest Trailers: Space Jam: A New Legacy, on YouTube, teh Screen Junkies say this movie turns LeBron James into “a joyless grunt who plays boring basketball” and Bugs Bunny into “off-brand Bugs Bunny.”
[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, N., Steve H Silver, Cora Buhlert, Florrie Frederiksen, David K.M. Klaus, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]
(1) LEND A HAND? Another Titan Comics blog tour will be rolling through on Monday. Would one of you volunteer to write a review of a comic by tomorrow night? I’d be thrilled, and so would Titan Comics. (Email me at mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com and I will send you a link to the PDF.)
(2) WISCON SAYS SUPPORT THEIR HOTEL. [Item by Jeffrey Smith.] This is different. The convention hotel saying: No convention this year? Come and hang out anyway! The SF3/WisCon Newsletter encourages readers to “Spend Memorial Day weekend at the Concourse Hotel”.
As you know, we’re not able to hold a WisCon in Madison this spring. However! The Concourse Hotel, the longtime home of WisCon, is running a special promotion for members and friends of the WisCon community over Memorial Day weekend, May 27-31, 2021
… The Concourse hosted its first WisCon in 1984 and has been our full-time hotel partner since 1995. They are an independently owned and operated hotel and as such have been hit especially hard by the loss of business during the pandemic. This is a fantastic chance to support them, get away from home for the weekend and see some friends in a clean, well-ventilated, socially distant environment….
(3) BOTH SIDES NOW. Lincoln Michel is writing an interesting series about the different genre and literary ecosystems for his Counter Craft newsletter. Here are links to the first three posts.
… I’m NOT going to try and delineate the (various and conflicting) definitions of “genre” and “literary” here. I do plan to get into that in some future newsletter but for now when I refer to the “literary world” I’m speaking of what you’d expect: MFA programs, magazines like The Paris Review or Ploughshares, imprints like Riverhead or FSG, agents who list “literary fiction” on their websites, etc.
When I say “genre world” I’m focusing mostly on science fiction, fantasy, and horror fiction (plus the one hundred billion subgenres of those). Those are the genres I write in and am most familiar with. Obviously, there are other genre ecosystems: crime fiction, romance fiction, etc. Those tend to overlap a fair amount with SFF world, and also tend to function similarly in terms of how professional organizations operate, how awards are structured, and so on. But when I speak of something like “genre jargon” I’m pulling primarily from SFF. I don’t think I need to define SFF, beyond saying that acronym means “science fiction and fantasy.” You know it. Magazines like Lightspeed and Uncanny. Imprints like Orbit, Del Rey, and Tor.
Because genre vs. literary fiction is so often treated like a team sport where you pick a side and scream insults at the other one, I want to state up front that I root for both. Or perhaps play for both, in this metaphor. I’ve published in both “literary” magazines like The Paris Review and Granta as well as “genre” magazines like Lightspeed (forthcoming) and Strange Horizons. My story collection was published by the literary Coffee House Press and my science fiction novel is coming out this year from Orbit. I really love both “teams” here….
…Popular authors also tend to contend over and over. This can easily be seen by the list of multiple winners. Many SFF writers have won the Hugo for Best Novel multiple times. You have 6/12 (wins/nominations) for Heinlein and 4/10 for Bujold. Five different authors have won three times and nine have won twice. There is nothing like that in the Pulitzer. No author has won three, four, or six Pulitzers. Only four have won twice: Booth Tarkington, William Faulkner, John Updike, and Colson Whitehead. This is despite the fact that the Pulitzers have been around since 1918 and the Hugos only since 1953. (This pattern is a little less prominent in other, newer awards, but still there.)
It’s fair to note that SFF perhaps has a smaller pool of books to choose from, since at least theoretically the literary awards are drawn from all of literature. But if the literary world is as narrow and parochial as many SFF fans contend then you’d expect to see that in the rewards.
As with almost everything I discuss here, there are arguments for both ways of doing things. In the genre side, the titans of the genre can be adequately reflected in the awards. A monumental work like N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy—truly one of the best fantasy series of modern times, which I’ve written about a bit here before—can even win three times in a row . That would simply never happen in the literary world, no matter how deserving. And one could certainly argue that the awards more accurately reflect the tastes of readership.
This can be a downside too, since biases and prejudices are also reflected. Before N.K. Jemisin won in 2016, no black author had ever won the Hugo for best novel. If you had died before 2015, when Cixin Liu won, you would have never witnessed a POC win the Hugo. It was hardly perfect in the lit world, but you did have Ralph Ellison, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Ha Jin, Jesmyn Ward, Junot Díaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, and others winning NBAs and Pulitzers. It’s about the same for gender. Ursula K. Le Guin was the first woman to win a Hugo for Best Novel in 1970. (Ditto the Nebula, although that had only started in 1966.) By that time, dozens of women had won the Pulitzer and/or National Book Award.
All of that said, both the lit world and SFF world have been far better on the diversity front in the last five to ten years than they have been historically. Hopefully that will continue.
… Publishing runs on novels. At least when it comes to fiction, novels are what agents want to hear about, what editors want to look at, and—with a few exceptions—what readers want to buy. Perhaps because of this, short stories hold a special place in fiction writers’ hearts. The short story is our form. Our weird mysterious little monster that no one else can love.
Strangely, the opposite was true 100 years ago. For the first few decades of the 20th-century, the short story was the popular form of literature. It was a magazine world back then. Short stories were what paid the bills. Authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald felt forced to write short stories that they could afford to write “decent books” (novels) on the side! In the genre world, the short story was so dominant that even the “novels” were often a bunch of existing short stories stitched quickly together in what was known as a “fix-up.” I’m not talking obscure books here, but some of the pillars of SFF from that era: Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, Asimov’s I, Robot, and Simak’s City. Also several of Raymond Chandler’s best hardboiled novels over in crime fiction. (Here’s a good post by Charlie Jane Anders arguing the fix-up is the ideal form for SFF.)…
…You may be asking, “So what? All the bids we knew about have already filed, so what difference does it make?”
I contend that there are two reasons for being concerned about this. The first is that frankly, there are groups that are unhappy about both the bids on the ballot, for various reasons. A “sprint” bid might enter the field. Now even though I have agreed to run Memphis’ WSFS division should they win, I’m trying to be as fair as I can about the known deficiencies of all currently filed bids. In 1990, I was a member of the San Francisco in ’93 Worldcon bid committee, facing filed bids from Phoenix and Zagreb. Due to unimpressive performances from all three filed bids at the 1989 SMOFCon (the filing deadline at that time was the close of the previous Worldcon, and sites were selected three years in advance at that time), a heretofore hoax bid for Hawaii was pressed into service by a large number of SMOFs and a write-in bid for Hawaii in ’93 filed. The write-in bid placed second ahead of the Zagreb and Phoenix bids, and I rather expect that had they been on the ballot, they might have beaten San Francisco. In 1991-92, I wrote and was a co-sponsor of a change to WSFS rules that changed the filing deadline to 180 days before the convention, a rule that, had it been in effect for the 1990 election for the 1993 Worldcon, would have allowed Hawaii to be on the ballot. So even though it would have been used against me back then, I recognize the value in keeping the door open for “sprint” bids. If there are groups that still want to take a shot at the 2023 Worldcon, I think they should have a chance to file until the T-180 deadline that is written into the Constitution.
The second reason I think DisCon III should reopen filing, even if nobody else files, is philosophical. WSFS rules are not self-enforcing. We trust Worldcon committees to follow WSFS rules as much as they can, subject to local laws and other contingencies. There is no higher authority that can force a Worldcon committee to obey WSFS rules. There’s no WSFS Inc. that can step in and give orders. There is no appeal from a Worldcon committee’s decisions. A Worldcon committee that refuses to follow a clearly-written and unambiguous rule that would not be difficult to follow is telling us that no rule is safe. WSFS governance is based on trust. If we can’t trust a committee to follow the rules, then the unwritten contract between the members of WSFS and the Worldcon committee that manages the members’ annual convention breaks down….
… I think DisCon III should change their initial decision and reopen site selection filing until June 18, even if no other bid surfaces, to confirm that insofar as they are able to do so, even under the difficulties of a worldwide pandemic, they will continue to obey the rules of the organization whose membership is the World Science Fiction Society. To do otherwise is to do a disservice to the members of WSFS….
… Now a special innovation team and a group of nearly 300 newsroom employees are pushing for drastic changes at the paper, which has been part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire since 2007….
… As the team was completing a report on its findings last summer, Mr. [Matt] Murray [WSJ Editor] found himself staring down a newsroom revolt. Soon after the killing of George Floyd, staff members created a private Slack channel called “Newsroomies,” where they discussed how The Journal, in their view, was behind on major stories of the day, including the social justice movement growing in the aftermath of Mr. Floyd’s death. Participants also complained that The Journal’s digital presence was not robust enough, and that its conservative opinion department had published essays that did not meet standards applied to the reporting staff. The tensions and challenges are similar to what leaders of other news organizations, including The Times, have heard from their staffs.
In July, Mr. Murray received a draft from Ms. [Louise] Story’s team, a 209-page blueprint on how The Journal should remake itself called The Content Review. It noted that “in the past five years, we have had six quarters where we lost more subscribers than we gained,” and said addressing its slow-growing audience called for significant changes in everything from the paper’s social media strategy to the subjects it deemed newsworthy.
The report argued that the paper should attract new readers — specifically, women, people of color and younger professionals — by focusing more on topics such as climate change and income inequality. Among its suggestions: “We also strongly recommend putting muscle behind efforts to feature more women and people of color in all of our stories.”
The Content Review has not been formally shared with the newsroom and its recommendations have not been put into effect, but it is influencing how people work: An impasse over the report has led to a divided newsroom, according to interviews with 25 current and former staff members. The company, they say, has avoided making the proposed changes because a brewing power struggle between Mr. Murray and the newpublisher, Almar Latour, has contributed to a stalemate that threatens the future of The Journal.
…About a month after the report was submitted, Ms. Story’s strategy team was concerned that its work might never see the light of day, three people with knowledge of the matter said, and a draft was leaked to one of The Journal’s own media reporters, Jeffrey Trachtenberg. He filed a detailed article on it late last summer.
But the first glimpse that outside readers, and most of the staff, got of the document wasn’t in The Journal. In October, a pared-down version of The Content Review was leaked to BuzzFeed News, which included a link to the document as a sideways scan. (Staffers, eager to read the report, had to turn their heads 90 degrees.)…
(6) THE POWER OF ANTHOLOGIES. Featuring Linda D. Addison (Sycorax’s Daughters), Maurice Broaddus (POC Destroy Horror & Dark Faith), and Sheree Renée Thomas (Dark Matter), and moderated by author and editor Nisi Shawl (New Suns, Everfair, Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany), “Ancestors and Anthologies: New Worlds in Chorus” is a free livestream panel hosted by Clarion West and the Seattle Public Library on Monday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m. Register at the link. It’s part of the “Beyond Afrofuturism: Black Editors and Publishers in Speculative Fiction” Panel Series.
From the groundbreaking Dark Matter to Sycorax’s Daughters to POC Destroy!, anthologies are one way marginalized voices gather in chorus on a particular subject, subgenre, or genre. Our anthologies panel will delve into the world of bespoke collections with luminaries in the field.
… What took so long? 1) It is a daunting thing when a loved one dies to be responsible for the accumulations of a lifetime. 2) We’re book people! Letting go of books is painful. A bookcase is a record of time spent and history and books are harder to find good homes for than one might think. 3) Her particular status as beloved author made every decision weighted.
(8) STANISLAW LEM CENTENNIAL DEBATE. On April 18, Polish Society for Futures Studies (PSFS) will present a live online debate “The expansion of future consciousness through the practice of science fiction and futures studies,” celebrating the Stanis?aw Lem centenary. Lem was a celebrated science-fiction writer and futurologist from Poland. The Centennial Debate will feature international participants: Thomas Lombardo, professor emeritus of Rio Salado College and author of books on science-fiction and future consciousness; Karlheinz Steinmüller, PhD, science fiction author, publisher and eminent German futurist; Kacper Nosarzewski, futurist from Poland and a literary critic.
The event will be streamed live on Zoom and YouTube, April 18th 12:00 am Pacific Standard Time, 3:00 pm Eastern Standard Time, 20:00 Central European Time, and the admittance is free. More information including links to the event will be posted at https://centennialdebate.ptsp.pl/.
The event is being supported by the World Futures Studies Federation, Association of Professional Futurists and Lem Estate, among many others.
Stanis?aw Lem wrote, in Solaris: “We don’t want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of Earth to the frontiers of the cosmos.” The Centennial Debate will explore the practice of science-fiction and futures studies as different ways of “using the future” and increasing our understanding of humanity’s hopes, fears, prospects and predicaments.
(9) MEMORY LANE.
On a day in 1986 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home premiered. It was directed by Leonard Nimoy who wrote it with Harve Bennett. It was produced by Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes, Nicholas Meyer and Harve Bennett. It starred the entire original original Trek cast. It would lose out to Aliens at Conspiracy ’87. The film’s less-than-serious attitude and rather unconventional story were well liked by critics and fans of the original series along with the general public. It was also a box office success. And it has an exemplary eighty-one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 10, 1936 – David Hardy, age 85. Astronomical and SF artist. European Vice President of the Int’l Ass’n of Astronomical Artists. Artbooks e.g. Visions of Space; Hardyware; 50 Years in Space: what we thought then, what we know now. Two hundred fifty covers, a hundred interiors. Here is the Jun 74 Amazing. Here is King David’s Spaceship. Here is Understanding Space and Time (note that the piano is a Bösendorfer). Here is the Apr 2010 Analog. [JH]
Born April 10, 1940 — Raul Julia. If we count Sesame Street as genre which it should, his appearance as Rafael there was his first genre role. Yeah, I’m stretching it somewhat. OK, how about as Aram Fingal In Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, a RSL production off the John Varley short story? That better? He later starred in Frankenstein Unbound as Victor Frankenstein as well. His last role released while he was still living was in the superb Addams Family Values as Gomez Addams reprising the role he’d had in The Addams Family. (Died 1994.) (CE)
Born April 10, 1948 – Jim Burns, age 73 (not James H. Burns 1962-2016). Four hundred twenty covers, two hundred interiors. Three Hugos. Twelve BSFA (British SF Ass’n) Awards. Artist Guest of Honour at Conspiracy ’87 the 45th Worldcon, several other more local cons in the U.K. and U.S., see here. Artbooks e.g. Lightship; Transluminal; The Art of Jim Burns. Each in The Durdane Trilogy used a segment of this, e.g. The Asutra. Here is Interzone 11. Here is the Jul 94 Asimov’s. Here is The Wanderer. Here is Dozois’ 34th Year’s Best Science Fiction. Here is Dark Angels Rising. [JH]
Born April 10, 1951 – Ross Pavlac. Co-chaired Marcon XIII-XIV, Windycon VIII, Chicon IV the 40th Worldcon. Fan Guest of Honor at Torque 2. Sometimes appeared in a blue aardvark costume; RP’s fanzine for the apaMyriad was The Avenging Aardvark’s Aerie; RP was one of the first fans to extrude a Website, also so called. Chaired Windycon XXIV from his deathbed. See these appreciations. (Died 1997) [JH]
Born April 10, 1953 — David Langford, 68. And how long have you been reading Ansible? If he’s not noted for that singular enterprise, he should be noted for assisting in producing the second edition of the EoSF, not to mention some 629,000 words as a principal editor of the third (online) edition of the Encyclopedia of SF, and contributed some eighty thousand words of articles to the most excellent EoF as well. And let’s not forget his genre writing as well that earned him a Short Story Hugo at the Millennium Philcon for “Different Kinds of Darkness”. And yes, he has won other Hugos, too numerous to recount here. (CE)
Born April 10, 1955 — Pat Murphy, 66. I think that her most brilliant work is The City, Not Long After which I’ve read myriad times. If you’ve not read this novel, do so now. The Max Merriwell series is excellent and Murphy’s ‘explanation’ of the authorial attributions is fascinating. And The Falling Woman by her is an amazing read as well. She’s reasonably well stocked at the usual suspects. (CE)
Born April 10, 1957 — John M. Ford. Popular at Minicon and other cons where he would be Dr. Mike and give silly answers to questions posed to him while wearing a lab coat before a whiteboard. His most interesting novel I think is The Last Hot Time, an urban fantasy set in Chicago that might have been part of Terri Windling’s Bordertown series but wasn’t. Possibly. The Dragon Waiting is also excellent and his Trek novels are among the best in that area of writing. I’d be lying to say he’s deeply stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 2006.) (CE)
Born April 10, 1959 – Ruth Lichtwardt, age 62. Hugo Adm’r for Anticipation the 67th Worldcon. Chaired MidAmeriCon II the 74th; her reflections as Chair here. Long active with the Gunn Center for the Study of SF; Adm’r for the 2021 Conference. Co-chaired ConQuest 49. Drinks Guinness. [JH]
Born April 10, 1975 – Merrie Haskell, age 46. Three novels, a score of shorter stories, recently in Beneath Ceaseless Skies 313. Interviewed in Lightspeed. Schneider Book Award. “I don’t think I’m unique in finding stories where female agency is non-existent, or is punished, as really troublesome…. I’m not even talking about the waiting-for-rescue parts; I don’t love that, mind you, but where are the choices?” [JH]
Born April 10, 1978 — Hannu Rajaniemi, 43. Author of the Jean le Flambeur series which consists of The Quantum Thief, The Fractal Prince and The Causal Angel. Damn if I can summarize them. They remind me a bit of Alastair Reynolds’ Prefect novels, somewhat of Ian Mcdonald’s Mars novels as well. Layers of weirdness upon weirdness. Quite fascinating. (CE)
Born April 10, 1984 – Rachel Carter, age 37. Three novels for us. Nonfiction in e.g. The New Republic. Teaches fiction-writing, also a freelance editor. [JH]
Born April 10, 1992 — Daisy Ridley, 29. Obviously she played the role of Rey in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. She was also in Scrawl, a horror film as well as voicing Cotton Rabbit in Peter Rabbit. Though stretching to even call it genre adjacent even, she was Mary Debenham in Murder on the Orient Express which was rather well done. (CE)
…I won’t lie, though: I sure do miss the time when a buck got you two comics and change. But I get how inflation works and how rising paper costs can’t be ignored. I’m also quite aware that the higher cover prices of today’s market have led to creators being able to make a decent living while entertaining us. That benefits the fans, who get to enjoy the great stories that spring from their imaginations.
However, there does come a point where comic books can simply become too expensive for many fans, forcing readers to drop titles not because they don’t like reading them, but because they simply can’t afford to anymore.
We may be approaching that point.
One of the Big Two publishers, DC Comics, is bumping the price up on some of its monthly titles to $5.99 for a 40-page issue. In its solicitations for June releases, several ongoing series, The Joker #4, Superman Red & Blue #3, Wonder Woman: Black White and Gold #1, and one of the company’s flagship books, Batman #109, are all listed with $5.99 cover prices. Think about that for a moment. If someone wanted to read all four of those titles, it would cost about $24 (before tax) to do so. Four comics, $24. That’s a big financial hit….
(12) JONESING. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] “Phoebe Waller-Bridge to star in new Indiana Jones” reports CNN. Let’s hope the 35-year-old Waller-Bridge is not the love interest for the 78-year-old Harrison Ford. She wouldn’t pass the “half+7” rule for another 22 years.
2018 Australian 6-episode series which we HIGHLY recommend both for spy geeks and people that don’t care much about tradecraft but enjoy a solid human drama. Watching these characters unwind and reveal their true characters under the duress of multiple intertwining espionage threats was a real treat for both of us. ALSO!!!! It is our first episode featuring a guest with actual expertise in the field, author and ex-intelligence officer Francis Hamit. Really excited about this one.
Hamit says: “This was a very positive experience for me. Tod and Dave are really nice guys and very ‘Otaku’ for any spy film or television show. Some of those (James Bond, etc) fall into the SF&F genre and they’ve done about fifty so far. Each is an hour long and they usually do two part, one hour each, in depth discussions. I was on as a topic expert on SIGINT.”
One of the puzzlements of “The Nevers,” the new alt-superhero show beginning Sunday on HBO, is the title. The peculiarly gifted late-Victorian Londoners, mostly women, who serve as the show’s heroes (and some of its villains) are never called “nevers”; they’re most often referred to as the Touched. In the first four of the series’s 12 episodes, nothing is called the Nevers. You can understand not calling a show “The Touched,” but it’s still a little confusing.
And the confusion doesn’t end there. “The Nevers,” while handsomely produced and, from moment to moment, reasonably diverting, doesn’t catch fire in those early episodes in part because we — along with the characters — are still trying to figure out what the heck is going on.
Before this goes any further, it’s time to mention that “The Nevers” — a rare case these days of a genre series not based on an existing property — was created for the screen by Joss Whedon. There are things to be explained about Whedon’s involvement with the show, but for now let’s stick to the synergism between the new series and his great creation, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”…
A trio of Russian and American space travelers launched successfully and reached the International Space Station on Friday [April 9].
NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov blasted off as scheduled at 12:42 p.m. (0742 GMT, 3:42 a.m. EDT) aboard the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan.
They docked at the station after a two-orbit journey that lasted just over three hours.
It is the second space mission for Vande Hei and the third for Novitskiy, while Dubrov is on his first mission.
By today’s standards, Pongdoesn’t appear to exactly offer the latest, greatest gaming experience around, but just try and tell that to Pager, a macaque monkey who works for Elon Musk at Neuralink, who is currently playing the game with just his mind…
The gameplay is all part of Musk’s master plan of creating a “fully-implanted, wireless, high-channel count brain-machine interface (BMI),” aka a Neuralink, according to the company’s latest blog post highlighting Pager’s gameplay. While the end goal of the implanted device is to give people dealing with paralysis a direct, neural connection to easily and seamlessly operate their computers and mobile devices, the technology is currently giving this monkey some solid entertainment (as well as some tasty banana smoothies)
In the best video you’ll see of a monkey playing video games all day, we get to hang out for a few minutes with Pager, a 9-year-old macaque who, about six weeks ago, had a Neuralink device implanted into each side of his brain. By appearance, he doesn’t seem to be ill-affected by the procedure, save for some missing head fur. Although, it’s hard to say we’re really having a good hang, as Pager is intently focused on playing mind games with a joystick, and on the sweet, sweet smoothies he gets for interacting with the computer. (Hey, at least he’s getting paid.)
(17) BEACH BLANKET BIG BROTHER. Mr. Sci-Fi – Marc Scott Zicree – is running a multi-part series about radio and on-screen adaptations of Orwell’s novel. The latest is “1984 Marathon Part 5 — 1984 Meets Dr. Phibes!” However, the cute title is deceptive — it’s really an audio copy of Vincent Price’s 1955 radio performance in the role of Winston Smith.
[Thanks to Danny Sichel, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Jeffrey Smith, Michael J. Walsh, Andrew Porter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day jayn.]
…With the creation of our Community Safety team, we have an opportunity to lead on an evolving topic in society at large. That’s why we’ve been actively monitoring this conversation over the last week, including working with members of Wookieepedia’s administration knowing that there are a lot of opinions involved here.
This is a final decision and Fandom staff will not be participating in a debate here or elsewhere right now. We will be discussing the topic of content related to the transgender community in greater detail with the Fandom community at large in the near future. We are committed to working with our community, internal teams, and outside experts to build a comprehensive framework to help guide our communities on how to properly create content relating to both fictional characters and real-life individuals who do not fit into outmoded definitions of identity and gender. Our goal is to provide an educational and growth framework for those who do not have real-life experience in these topics but want to learn more about creating inclusive content.
Our communities often spend much time debating the nuance of canon or the particulars of a given content policy, but we must also be willing to engage in challenging conversations about the nuance of external factors surrounding these topics. To that end, when wiki content is talking about real human beings with real needs, they must be respected.
…Our first thought was this is obviously a job for Superman, or someone nearly as strong like Thor, Wonder Woman or even the Incredible Hulk.
“Global supply chain blockage make Hulk mad! Hulk smash!” is how we imagine that would play out.
Not so fast, says our friendly neighborhood physics professor.
In addition to being an expert in stuff like amorphous semiconductors, University of Minnesota professor James Kakalios has pondered the physical properties of the superpowerful in his book, “The Physics of Superheroes.”
Kakalios explained that a 1,300-foot-long ship is designed to have its weight supported by water under the length of its hull. So a brute force effort by a single superhero could be counterproductive.
“Tanker ships are not meant to be picked up,” Kakalios said. “Even if supported under its center of mass, there would be enormous twisting forces, called torques, that would snap the vessel in half.”
Kakalios suggested that a better superhero for the job would be DC Comics’ Aquaman or Marvel Comics’ Namor the Sub-Mariner….
(3) FUTURE TENSE. Released this week, the latest in the monthly series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives: “The Trolley Solution” by Shiv Ramdas, about a college professor pitted against a machine. This is the third and final entry in their recent series about the future of learning.
From the moment the text message arrived with an aggressive ping, Ahmed knew something was amiss. Oh, it read innocuously enough, just the one line from Niyati asking if they could have a chat, but he knew better. It was still two weeks before his meeting with the tenure committee, which made it unexpected. Plus, it was Those Words. Whenever someone said that they wanted to have a chat, what they actually meant was that they had something to say to you that they knew you wouldn’t like one bit….
Imagine a university without any teachers, just peer learners, open-access resources, and an office space full of high-speed internet-enabled computers, accessible to anyone between 18–30 years of age, regardless of any prior learning. That university is called 42. It does not have any academic instructors; the teachers are the self-starting students who have their eyes set on a job in Big Tech. Aided only by a problem-based learning curriculum, students gain a certificate of completion about three to five years after starting out. They are guaranteed internships in some of the world’s most prestigious firms and have set their sights on launching their careers as coders. 42’s philosophy is steeped in peer-to-peer learning, where human learners themselves spearhead the learning process….
(4) RELEASING A BOOK DURING THE PANDEMIC. Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore presents S.B. Divya, C.L. Clark, Arkady Martine, and Premee Mohamed in conversation on Friday, April 9, 2021 – 2:00 p.m. (Pacific). Register here.
S.B. Divya is a lover of science, math, fiction, and the Oxford comma. She enjoys subverting expectations and breaking stereotypes whenever she can. Divya is the Hugo and Nebula–nominated author of Runtime and co-editor of Escape Pod, with Mur Lafferty. Machinehood is her debut novel from Saga Press.
C.L. Clark graduated from Indiana University’s creative writing MFA. She’s been a personal trainer, an English teacher, and an editor, and is some combination thereof as she travels the world. Her short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, FIYAH, PodCastle and Uncanny.
Arkady Martine is a speculative fiction writer and, as Dr. AnnaLinden Weller, a historian of the Byzantine Empire and a city planner. Under both names, she writes about border politics, rhetoric, propaganda, and the edges of the world.
Premee Mohamed is a scientist and writer with degrees in molecular genetics and environmental science, but hopes that readers of her fiction will not hold that against her. Her short speculative fiction has been published in a variety of venues.
(5) SPY QUEEN. Francis Hamit is on the third segment of today’s Matthews and Friends podcast talking about his alternative history spy novel, The Queen of Washington. Hamit says, “I go into how I do research, so that may interest some people.” Here is the link: “Matthews and Friends” (3-29-21).
(6) @EATONVERSE IS BACK. Andrew Lippert announced that the official twitter of the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy at UC Riverside is returning to active status. “It will primarily be used to share items and documents from the collections that spark interest or are discovered while processing and working with the collections.” Here’s one of their latest tweets:
(7) STARTING THE NEXT CENTURY. Bradbury 101, produced by Phil Nichols, is a sequel to last year’s audio podcast series, Bradbury 100, which celebrated the centenary year of Bradbury. Here’s what Episode 04 is about —
THE ILLUSTRATED MAN is Ray Bradbury’s 1951 short story collection. As a follow-up to the previous year’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, it secured Bradbury’s reputation as a science fiction writer of quality – and at the same time saddled him with the label “science fiction writer” even though most of his fiction after this point was NOT science fiction.
For more than 50 years, even though eras when the franchise was in a lull, Star Trek fandom has been vibrant and strong. Upon his 90th birthday, and turning himself into artificial intelligence, original Star Trekseries star William Shatner reflected on why Gene Roddenberry’s vision has so firmly stood the test of time and why it seems to resonate even more strongly today. Shatner was blunt with the situation we find ourselves in during an appearance on PeopleTV‘s Couch Surfing, stating that “We’re on the verge of extinction. We are poisoning ourselves out of life, and the Earth will survive and this little cancer, mankind, that’s growing all around her will die off the way a body gets a temperature and kills the germs off. Mother Earth will get rid of us because we’re a pestilence. But we don’t have to be. And we can join with the rest of life that makes it here on Earth with equanimity.”
The Museum of Science, Boston, one of the world’s largest science centers and one of Boston’s most popular attractions, in collaboration with the family of Leonard Nimoy, legendary actor of the historic television series, Star Trek, today, announced the development of a monument honoring the Boston native to be located at the Museum of Science.
The 20-foot, illuminated, stainless steel monument, designed by artist David Phillps, will be shaped in the famous “Live Long and Prosper” hand gesture that the actor’s character Mister Spock was known for. It will be located in front of the Museum, at Science Park, welcoming visitors and Star Trek fans from around the world.
March 29, 1968 –On this date in 1968, Star Trek’s “Assignment: Earth” first aired as part of the second season. Guest starring Robert Lansing as Gary Seven and Terri Garr as Roberta Lincoln, our crew which has time-travelled to 1968 Earth for historical research encounters an interstellar agent and Isis, his cat, who are planning to intervene in Earth history. It was intended as a pilot for an Assignment: Earth series that Gene Roddenberry planned but that never happened.
Interesting note: The uncredited human form of Isis was portrayed by actress, dancer, and contortionist April Tatro, not Victoria Verti, actress (in Rosemary’s Baby under the name of Angela Dorian) and Playboy Playmate of the previous year, as would become part of Trek lore.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born March 29, 1914 – Roy Hunt. Program Book for Denvention I the 3rd Worldcon. Here is his cover. Here is the Pacificon I Combozine (4th Worldcon). Here is a cover for The Gorgon, used on five issues 1947-1948. Here is an illustration for “The Ghost” (Van Vogt, 1948). Here is vol. 1 no. 2 of Fantasy Book. Here is the LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) coat of arms, which he designed. Here is the Dec 59 New Frontiers. (Died 1986) [JH]
Born March 29, 1926 – Tom Adams. Two short stories, eight covers, five interiors for us; much else, poetry prints, light shows e.g The Jimi Hendrix Experience, covers for Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie; a copy of AC’s Death in the Clouds with TA’s cover appears in the Dr. Who episode “The Unicorn and the Wasp” (10th Doctor). Here is Needle in a Timestack. Here is Patron of the Arts. (Died 2019) [JH]
Born March 29, 1930 — John Astin, 91. He is best known for playing as Gomez Addams in Addams Family, reprising it on the Halloween withthe New Addams Family film and the Addams Family animated series. A memorable later role would be as Professor Wickwire in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., and I’d like to single out his delightfully weird appearance on The Wild Wild West as Count Nikolai Sazanov in “The Night of the Tartar” episode. (CE)
Born March 29, 1943 — Eric Idle, 78. Monty Python is genre, isn’t it? If not, I know that The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Yellowbeard, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Quest for Camelot, Shrek the Third and Nearly Departed, an updated version of Topper, which he all had a hand in certainly are. And it turns out he’s written a witty SF novel, The Road to Mars: A Post-Modern Novel, which involves an Android, comedy and interplanetary travel. (CE)
Born March 29, 1944 – Linn Prentis. Began working as an agent for Virginia Kidd, then her own agency with offices in Washington State and New York. Among her clients, Kage Baker, Patricia Briggs, Rick Bowes, A.M. Dellamonica, James Morrow. Prentis Literary continues. (Died 2016 – on December 24th, alas) [JH]
Born March 29, 1947 — Patricia Anthony. Flanders is one damn scary novel. A ghost story set in WW I it spooked me for nights after I read it and I don’t spook easily. Highly recommended. James Cameron purchased the movie rights to her Brother Termite novel and John Sayles wrote a script, but the movie has not been produced. (Died 2013.) (CE)
Born March 29, 1956 — Mary Gentle, 65. Her trilogy of Rats and Gargoyles, The Architecture of Desire and Left to His Own Devices is a stunning work of alternate history with magic replacing science. I also highly recommend her Grunts! novel. Gamers particularly will love it. She has a cyberpunk novel, Left To His Own Devices, but I’ve not read it. Who here has read it? I’m surprised that she hasn’t been nominated for any Hugo Awards according to ISFDB database. (CE)
Born March 29, 1957 — Elizabeth Hand, 64. Not even going to attempt to summarize her brilliant career. I will say that my fav works by her are Wylding Hall, Illyria and Mortal Love. We did do an entire edition at Green Man on her and I need to update it to the present site. It’s got a neat conversation with her on what her favorite foods are. (CE)
Born March 29, 1963 – Michelle Mitchell-Foust, Ph.D., age 58. Two poetry books; two anthologies (with Tony Barnstone), Poems Dead and Undead and Poems Human and Inhuman (also called Monster Verse). Elixir Press Poetry Prize, Columbia University Poetry Prize, Missouri Arts Council Biennial Award. [JH]
Born March 29, 1968 — Lucy Lawless, 53. Xena in Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Cylon model Number Three D’Anna Biers on that Battlestar Galactica series. She also played Countess Palatine Ingrid von Marburg, the last of a line of Germanic witches on the Salem series. Her most recent genre role as Ruby Knowby, one of the Dark Ones, on the Ash vs Evil Dead series. Though not genre, she was Lucretia in Spartacus: Blood and Sand, its prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena and its sequel Spartacus: Vengeance. (CE)
Born March 29, 1978 – Nerine Dorman, age 43. Four novels for us, a score of shorter stories; half a dozen anthologies. Won a Nommo and a Sanlam Gold. Has read The Count of Monte Cristo, The Master and Margarita, The Big Time, The Stars My Destination, Double Star, Who? [JH]
Born March 29, 1990 – Kiran Millwood Hargrave, age 31. Poet, playwright, novelist. Three novels for us. Waterstone Children’s Book Prize, British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year, Blackwell Children’s Book of the Year. First novel for adults opened at No. 1 on The Times (i.e. of London) Bestseller Chart. “Our parents took us everywhere – Jordan, India, China…. India is particularly special to me as my mum is from there.” From The Girl of Ink & Stars: ‘A myth is something that happened so long ago that people like to pretend it’s not real, even when it is.’ [JH]
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Frank and Ernest discover robots with ethical problems – according to their designers.
San Diego Comic-Con will return this year with an in-person convention during Thanksgiving weekend.
The pop culture event will host a “Comic-Con Special Edition” at the San Diego Convention Center from November 26-28. The announcement comes less than a month after Comic-Con International announced a virtual event would be held this summer due to uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic and the risk of large-scale gatherings. The three-day Comic-Con@Home virtual event is set for July 23-25.
“It is our hope that by Fall conditions will permit larger public gatherings,” an announcement for the event said. “Comic-Con Special Edition will be the first in-person convention produced by the organization since Comic-Con 2019, and the first since the onset of the global pandemic COVID-19. The Fall event will allow the organization to highlight all the great elements that make Comic-Con such a popular event each year, as well as generate much needed revenue not only for the organization but also for local businesses and the community.”
…The announcement for an in-person Thanksgiving weekend event received immediate criticism across social media, with many noting the pandemic impacted the ability for many to be with their families during the holidays last year.
“So they scheduled #SDCC on the same weekend as the first chance most families will (hopefully) be fully able to celebrate Thanksgiving in two years. See you in 2022!” Charles Soule, writer and author for Daredevil and She-Hulk, shared on Twitter.
“Sure. Make it during the one non-denominational fall holiday weekend in U.S., w/ always peak airfare prices. And I’m sure A-list celebs will LOVE doing this. Black Friday, indeed,” author Tara Bennett wrote.
Linda Ge, who writes for CW’s new series Kung Fu, also tweeted “Does Comic-Con realize that most people didn’t get to spend last Thanksgiving with their families because of the pandemic? #SDCC”
(15) C3PO, R2D2, AND BBQ€590. This summer you could be “grilling from another galaxy” with the Star Wars-inspired Galaxy Grill for a mere 590 Euros.
Amaze your friends with a real space vehicle – they will definitely join the dark side with you.
(16) TECH SKEPTIC. In the Washington Post, Dalvin Brown says the likelihood you will have a robot with legs helping you in your home is very small, because robots are expensive, heavy (what happens if a robot falls on you?) and robots with humanlike hands are really expensive. “Robots don’t know much about the world they’re operating in, so a robot needs a great deal of education to learn where things are in your house.” “For all the hype, robots are limited in what they can do in your home”.
… But how likely is it that you’ll ever be able to own a true robotic butler?
Robots are indeed getting more complex. As AI continues to advance, it allows machines to figure out more complex problems and reliably chat with humans. Still, robotics and AI firms say you’ll have to wait quite some time before you’re able to own anything remotely similar to Rosey the Robot from “The Jetsons.”
In fact, companies are having a hard time commercializing anything more complex than a Roomba — which has been vacuuming houses for 20 years.
… Right now, robots are doing well in factories where there’s plenty of space, no small kids around and employees wearing protective gear. They’re really good at completing a single repetitive task, like screwing on a wheel.
But imagine introducing machinery with legs and lifting capabilities into your home where things can and do go wrong. What if it falls on someone, or a software update causes it to go haywire? It’s funny on “The Jetsons,” but it wouldn’t be so comical if your grandmother were on the receiving end….
(17) RYAN GEORGE. In “Godzilla Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says the producer is happy that the son of Bryan Cranston’s character is named Ford because “selling your son’s name as advertising space is tight!” (The producer’s three sons are Ben, Jerry, and Outback Steakhouse.)
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Filers will remember when OwlKitty entered the Lord of The Rings. But in “Godzilla v. Cat (OwlKitty Parody)” on YouTube, OwlKitty takes on Godzilla!
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Chris R., JJ, Cat Eldridge, David K. M. Klaus, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, David Doering, Andrew Porter, Joey Eschrich, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
Lin Qi, the chairman and CEO of Yoozoo Group who was hospitalized after having been poisoned on Dec. 16, has died. The Chinese company confirmed that Lin died on Christmas Day. He was 39.
On Wednesday evening in China, the Shanghai Public Security Bureau had announced that Lin was receiving treatment after being poisoned and that a Yoozoo coworker of Lin’s, surnamed Xu, had been apprehended amid an investigation.
The statement read: “At 5 p.m. on Dec. 17, 2020, the police received a call from a hospital regarding a patient surnamed Lin. During the patient’s treatment, the hospital said it had determined that the patient had been poisoned. Following the call, the police began an investigation. According to investigations on site and further interviews, the police found that a suspect surnamed Xu, who is a coworker of the victim Lin, was the most likely the perpetrator. The suspect Xu has been arrested and investigations continue.”
The Hollywood Reporterreported that local media have said a dispute among the Chinese entertainment company’s executive ranks preceded the assault on Lin, which was allegedly carried out via a cup of poisoned pu-erh tea.
The geniuses at Pixar had a problem, and this time, they would need to look beyond the walls of their esteemed studio for help.
The movie in question was “Soul,” a tuneful jazz tale that somehow didn’t quite swing. Rather ironically, the movie’s main character was lacking in texture and truth and, well, any depth of soul. What to do about a lead role that, in the words of Pixar chief and “Soul” director Pete Docter, “was kind of an empty shell”?The call went out to Kemp Powers, a rising playwright and “Star Trek: Discovery” TV writer who headed to Pixar’s Bay Area headquarters with much more than notes. He had a lifetime of relevant insights.
The character in question was Joe Gardner, Pixar’s first leading Black character and the heart of “Soul,” which will be released on Disney Plus on Christmas Day after bypassing domestic theaters because of the pandemic. Powers will compete against himself that day when the film adaptation of his play “One Night in Miami,” directed by Regina King, will land in theaters (ahead of its Jan. 15 release on Amazon Prime)….… And Daveed Diggs, who voices Joe’s trash-talking rival Paul, says Powers brought a humanity and a fearlessness to the tale. “There’s a strength and level of conviction in the storytelling,” says Diggs, no easy task because with its supernatural spaces and existential themes, “Soul” is “a weird movie.”
(3) CONTINUE CELEBRATING. Filer Cora Buhlert has assembled “A Holiday Story Bonanza” in her newly-released book A Christmas Collection. Full details and options to purchase in various formats at the link.
Romance, cozy fantasy, murder mysteries, pulp thrillers, science fiction, horror and humor – we have all that and more.
Watch young people find love in the pre-holiday shopping rush at Hickory Ridge Mall, at a Christmas tree lot, on the parking lot of a shuttered outlet mall and at the one bar in town that’s open on Christmas Eve.
Experience Christmas in Hallowind Cove, the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town, where strange things keep happening.
Watch as Santa’s various helpers unite to depose him.
Follow Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team as they investigate the death of a robber dressed as Santa Claus as well as a wave of thefts at a Christmas market.
Meet Richard Blakemore, hardworking pulp author by day and the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer by night, as he fights to save an orphanage from demolition in Depression era New York City.
Watch Alfred and Bertha, an ordinary married couple, as they decorate the Christmas tree and live their marvellous twenty-first century life.
Experience Christmas on the space colony of Iago Prime as well as after the end of the world.
Enjoy thirteen novellas, novelettes and short stories in six genres. This is a collection of 118000 words or approx. 390 print pages.
(4) AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME. [Item by Francis Hamit.] The CASE Act, the legislation creating a Copyright Small Claims Court, is becoming law as a part of that massive stimulus bill passed by Congress. I am taking a victory lap on this one. You may recall I was quite active in the early part of this century on Copyright matters, including prosecuting two lawsuits for infringements of magazine articles by database firms. I spent thousands of dollars for filing and legal fees over four years and came out ahead, but dropped four other suits because they would cost more than the maximum possible cash reward. There had to be a better way, I thought, and came up with the idea of a Copyright Small Claims Court, which was published in the September/October 2006 issue of The Columbia Journalism Review. [File 770 previously mentioned Hamit’s advocacy of the idea in 2011: “A Future for Small Copyright Claims?”] So it is done, and small individual creators have a path to legal recourse that wasn’t there before. Very gratifying. Those who would like to thank me can buy one of my books or stories on Amazon,com (Reviews are appreciated too). I have a stage play at Stageplays,com which I’m trying to get produced. I may add others soon. Donations are accepted on Paypal at email@example.com. I’m not a crusader, just a businessman. Support allows me to create new work.
(5) EYES ON THE PRIZE. At the risk of turning into a platform that mainly steers its audience to Camestros Felapton (oops, too late!), there are some good things there this weekend:
(6) WWDC. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins, who explains the reason the film is set in Washington in the 1980s is because it reflects Jenkins’s experiences. For example, there are sequences at the Hirshhorn Museum because Jenkins was an art student there in 1987. “How Patty Jenkins turned ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ into a personal Washington story”.
“First of all, where would Diana go?” Jenkins says of the Amazonian warrior from the isle paradise of Themyscira, who headed to World War I’s European theater in “Wonder Woman.” “She would go to the heart and center of where power is.”
Once Jenkins and co-writer Geoff Johns were settled on setting, the director plunged deep into her own memories of Washington, where she often visited before moving to the area as a teenager in 1987, staying for a bit over a year.
“The style of D.C. is so wonderful” for Wonder Woman, says Jenkins, who shot numerous scenes on the Mall, in Georgetown and in Northern Virginia. “Having her live at the Watergate, the modernity of it, cut against the Reflecting Pool and the Hirshhorn — it just felt elegant and beautiful and intellectual and pop at the same time.”
(7) NPR’S BOOKS OF THE YEAR. [Item by Contrarius.] NPR’s Best Books Of 2020 is out. The sff included on the list are mostly the usual suspects for this year. Sadly, The Vanished Birds isn’t on it. Interestingly, the new translation of Beowulf is.
Evans also was known as Sir Thorgeirr in the Society for Creative Anachronism.
(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
December 26, 1954 — On this day in 1954, the very last episode of The Shadow radio serial aired. This was the program’s 665th installment and its twenty-first season. The serial first appeared on the air on Sept 26, 1937 with Orson Welles as Lamont Cranston and The Shadow and Agnes Moorehead as Margo Lane. It would end its run with Bret Morrison, who took over the lead roles from season twelve onward, and Gertrude Warner, who was Margo Lane from season thirteen onward. The final episode was “Murder by the Sea” which unfortunately is lost to us as the tape was not kept.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 26, 1842 – Laura Gonzenbach. German-Swiss of Sicily. Collected Sicilian fairy tales; her two volumes among few major collections by a woman. Beautiful Angiola (2004) has the title story and sixty more in English. (Died 1878) [JH]
Born December 26, 1903 — Elisha Cook Jr. On the Trek side, he shows up as playing lawyer Samuel T. Cogley in the “Court Martial” episode. Elsewhere he had long association with the genre starting with Voodoo Island and including House on a Haunted Hill, Rosemary’s Baby, Wild Wild West, The Night Stalker and Twilight Zone. (Died 1995.) (CE)
Born December 26, 1938 – John Kahionhes Fadden, age 82. (Kahionhes “Long River” is his Mohawk name; he’s Turtle, his mother’s clan.) Maintains the Six Nations Indian Museum (i.e. the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy; see e.g. the 2010 U.S. dollar coin; Haudenosaunee on it is “People of the Long House”, the Iroquois) started by his parents. Four covers for us; here is Native American Animal Stories. More here. [JH]
Born December 26, 1942 – Catherine Coulter, age 78. Six novels, four shorter stories for us; ninety books all told, many NY Times Best-Sellers. Historical romances (“I love in particular Georgette Heyer, a British author who actually invented the Regency Romance – an extraordinary talent”), suspense thrillers (“at least six times as many loose ends that I have to keep searching out and tying up, and they always seem to multiply”). Advice, “READ TO YOUR CHILDREN.” [JH]
Born December 26, 1951 – Priscilla Olson, F.N., age 69. Chaired Boskone 29, 38, 42, 48; introduced Featured Filker. Ran Programming at Noreascon 4 the 62nd Worldcon. Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service). Introductions & essays in NESFA Press books An Ornament to His Profession, Cybele, Rings (Charles Harness); Ingathering (Zenna Henderson); Far From This Earth, From Other Shores (Chad Oliver); Once More With Footnotes (Sir Terry Pratchett); also “…And What We Think It Means”, ConJose Souvenir Book (60th Worldcon). Fan Guest of Honor at Minicon 34, Windycon 33. [JH]
Born December 26, 1953 — T. Jefferson Parker, 67. Author of the rather excellent Charlie Hood mystery series which ISFDB claims is paranormal. Huh. He’s one of the very few writers to win three Edgars. (CE)
Born December 26, 1953 — Clayton Emery, 67. Somewhere there’s a bookstore that consists of nothing but the franchise novel and collections that exist within a given franchise. No original fiction what-so-ever. This author has novels in the Forgotten Realms, Shadow World, The Burning Goddess, City of Assassins,The Secret World of Alex Mack, Magic: The Gathering and Runesworld franchises, plus several genre works including surprisingly Tales of Robin Hood on Baen Books. Must not be your granddaddy’s Hood. (CE)
Born December 26, 1960 — Temuera Morrison, 60. Ahhhh clones. In Attack of the Clones, he plays Jango Fett and a whole bunch of his clone troopers, and in Revenge of the Sith, he came back in the guise of Commander Cody. He goes on to play him in the second season of The Mandalorian. Crossing over, he plays Arthur Curry’s father Thomas in Aquaman. (CE)
Born December 26, 1961 — Tahnee Welch, 59. Yes, the daughter of that actress. She’s in both Cocoon films as well in Sleeping Beauty. Black Light and Johnny 2.0 which she’s in might qualify as genre in the way some horror does. She stopped acting twenty years ago. (CE)
Born December 26, 1968 – Julia Elliott, Ph.D., age 52. Jaffe Foundation award. Amazon Shared-Worlds Residency. A novel (“loopy lyricism … whacked out paranoia … joyous farce”, NY Times Book Review) and a dozen shorter stories. Teaches at Univ. S. Carolina (Columbia). [JH]
Born December 26, 1970 — Danielle Cormack, 50. If it’s fantasy and it was produced in New Zealand, she might have been in it. She was in Xena and Hercules as Ephiny on recurring role, Hercules again as Lady Marie DeValle,in Jack of All Trades, one of Kage Baker’s favorite series because, well, Bruce Campbell was the lead. She was Raina in a recurring role, and Samsara on Xena in another one-off and Margaret Sparrow in Perfect Creature, an alternate universe horror film. (CE)
Born December 26, 1983 – Nicholas Smith, age 37. Thirty novels, half a dozen shorter stories. Ironman tri-athlete. NY Times and USA Today Best-Seller. Has read Custer Died for Your Sins and The Hobbit. “I only leave positive reviews…. If I don’t like a book [and] don’t finish it … I don’t trash it because who knows what I missed.” [JH]
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Close to Home shows how Santa anticipated the current surveillance society.
(13) REVISITING LEMURIA. A news story I couldn’t link here because it’s member-locked turned out not to be all that new – except to me, and perhaps you, too. Here are three updates that appeared between 2015-2018.
Erin Ehmke on hibernation in the fat-tailed dwarf lemur:
It could be an internal genetic trigger for hibernation in the fat-tailed dwarf lemur. Since we share genetic code with the federal dwarf lemur, [the medical community is interested in understanding if] we have that same intrinsic trigger that could be tapped into for long term coma patients to prevent the cell breakdown – deep space travel, could we somehow trigger hibernation in astronauts to help get to deep space travel.
… Those lemurs could hold the key to faster recovery times from injuries and even deep space travel because of hundreds of species of primates, the fat-tailed dwarf lemur is the closest genetic cousin to humans that can hibernate.
“That suspended animation doesn’t occur in primates very often,” explained Duke Lemur Center veterinarian Bobby Schopler. “These are relatives of ours that do this, and it’s a fascinating aspect.”
Scientists have been studying the primates in their natural habitat for 48 years at the Duke Lemur Center. Duke researchers want to find out how some of the lemurs can regulate body temperature, store massive amounts of energy and sleep for 7 months at a time.
… Interest in suspended animation, the ability to set biological processes on hold, peaked in the 1950s as Nasa poured money into biological research. The hope was that sleeping your way to the stars would mean spacecraft could carry far less food, water and oxygen, making long-haul flights to distant planets more practical. It would also save astronauts from years of deep-space boredom.
Nasa’s interest died at the end of the space race, but Mr Vyazovskiy and his team of researchers at the University of Oxford are now exploring ways to put astronauts into stasis, using knowledge gained from mammals, including bears and dwarf lemurs.
(14) PRESERVED IN PUMICE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Archeologists have discovered a 2000-year-old street food stall in Pompeii, complete with illustrations of the food (or rather the animals that provide the food) on offer. I’m amazed how modern the whole thing looks. I can imagine this stall setting up shop at our annual autumn fair without raising any eyebrows: “Pompeii: Ancient snack stall uncovered by archaeologists” at CNN.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Contrarius, Francis Hamit, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Steven H Silver, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Wright.]
(1) WHERE THE BLOOD STILL PULSES – SO TO SPEAK. R.S. Benedict’s article for Blood Knife“How Horror Makes Itself Ungovernable” says that horror alone resists the corporatization of geek culture.
…Geek culture—comic books, video games, sci-fi, fantasy—is mainstream now, squeezing out mysteries, dramas, and period pieces at the box office.
…This is nothing to be celebrated. This is not victory. The mainstreaming of geek culture is artistic gentrification, a way for moneyed interests to wrest control of culture from the creatives who built it and crowd out any voice with something new or subversive to say. Sci-fi, which once gave us visions of the future, and fantasy, which once nurtured our imaginations, have been hijacked to sell imperialism and soda pop. The invaders have won; our loved ones have been replaced by pod people.
Only one speculative genre has managed to escape the Disneyfication process and retain something resembling a soul: horror….
(2) THE TRUTH, OR SOMETHING, IS OUT THERE. The news got George Takei’s attention.
According to retired Israeli general and current professor Haim Eshed, the answer is yes, but this has been kept a secret because “humanity isn’t ready.”
Speaking in an interview to Yediot Aharonot, Eshed – who served as the head of Israel’s space security program for nearly 30 years and is a three-time recipient of the Israel Security Award – explained that Israel and the US have both been dealing with aliens for years.
And this by no means refers to immigrants, with Eshed clarifying the existence of a “Galactic Federation.”
The 87-year-old former space security chief gave further descriptions about exactly what sort of agreements have been made between the aliens and the US, which ostensibly have been made because they wish to research and understand “the fabric of the universe.” This cooperation includes a secret underground base on Mars, where there are American and alien representatives.
If true, this would coincide with US President Donald Trump’s creation of the Space Force as the fifth branch of the US armed forces, though it is unclear how long this sort of relationship, if any, has been going on between the US and its reported extraterrestrial allies.
But Eshed insists that Trump is aware of them, and that he was “on the verge” of disclosing their existence. However, the Galactic Federation reportedly stopped him from doing so, saying they wished to prevent mass hysteria since they felt humanity needed to “evolve and reach a stage where we will… understand what space and spaceships are,” Yediot Aharonot reported.
As for why he’s chosen to reveal this information now, Eshed explained that the timing was simply due to how much the academic landscape has changed, and how respected he is in academia.
“If I had come up with what I’m saying today five years ago, I would have been hospitalized,” he explained to Yediot.
Of course, the timing may also have something to do with the release of Eshed’s newest book, The Universe Beyond the Horizon – conversations with Professor Haim Eshed. And considering all the year’s travails, I liked this reaction —
(3) FELLOWSHIP OF THE PREQUEL. In the “Silmarillion Seminar”, hosted at The Tolkien Professor, a bunch of academics sit down and talk about the Silmarillion chapter by chapter:
Despite its challenging learning curve, The Silmarillion is an amazing set of stories. Some of these stories may be even more profound and more moving than The Lord of the Rings. What’s more, once you know The Silmarillion, you will begin to understand The Lord of the Rings in a whole new way.
In the Silmarillion Seminar, listeners will be reading through the book slowly and carefully, at the pace of about a chapter a week, and gathering together to have an online audio discussion with the Tolkien Professor about each chapter. Each session will be recorded and posted here on this page. Hopefully, you will pick up your copy of the book and give this truly incredible book another chance.
(4) IN A BEGINNING. [Item by Daniel Dern.] OK, now here’s a book I want to read (and have just library-reserved)…
A year or two or three ago, I went to an interesting lecture at Harvard on the origins of alphabets. It was interesting… but it didn’t address my question, and, when either in the Q&A session at the end or while we were milling afterwards, I asked about the origin of alphabetic order, to which I was told, more or less, IIRC, that was a different question. Fair ’nuff.
So, I just saw this review in our paper edition of the December 6 New York Times’ Book Review section (tho, per the URL, I see it ran online back in late October): A Place For Everything: The Curious History of Alphabetical Order by Judith Flanders.
A few paragraphs into reading the review, I made a note (snapped a pic using my phone) and have reserved-requested it through/from my local library.
(5) YOUNG PEOPLE. Young People Read Old SFF reaches the second-to-last story in the Rediscovery collection from Journey Press, “Cornie on the Walls” Sydney van Scyoc. What does James Davis Nicoll’s panel think about this 1963 entry?
Sydney J. van Scyoc was mainly active in the 1960s through the 1980s. Although new short pieces appear as late as 2005, her most recent novel was 1991’s Deepwater Dreams. I haven’t read Deepwater because van Scyoc occupied a blindspot in my collecting. Having read this example of her work, I’ve taken to picking up her novels when I see them. Finding time to read them has thus far eluded me.
But were my Young People as enthusiastic? Let’s find out….
230,000 kilometres above the Earth’s surface, Ciudad de Cielo is filled with almost every vice and foible known to humanity. This is a paradise for bent private cop Nicola “Nikki Fixx” Freeman, because it offers many ways for a high-ranking Seguridad officer to siphon off some extra wealth for herself. The system works, as long as nobody gets too greedy and everyone remembers that there are limits to the crimes to which the authorities can turn a blind eye….
(7) GHOSTS IN THE BIG APPLE. The NY Ghost Story Festival can be viewed free on YouTube.
Night One: Thursday December 10, 2020 7PM EST
Guests are Gwendolyn Kiste, Hysop Mulero and Rudi Dornemann
Night Two: Saturday December 10, 2020 7PM EST
Guests Sarah Langan, Lee Thomas, and Douglas Wynne
When the year grows old and December’s daylight departs too soon it is time to fill the dark nights with stories of ghosts and the supernatural.
Welcome to The New York Ghost Story Festival. An annual event of ghost story readings and discussion hosted by Daniel Braum. Featuring authors of the uncanny, strange and fantastic from New York and around the globe.
(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
November 1995 — “Two Tales of Korval,” the very first stories in Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Adventures in the Liaden Universe series was published by SR in a very limited sixty copies. There was two stories here, “To Cut an Edge” and “A Day at The Races”, plus “A Partial Liaden Glossary”. More printings would follow. Both stories are in A Liaden Universe Constellation: Volume 1 which is available from the usual digital suspects.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 7, 1873 – Willa Cather. A dozen stories for us, besides the work of her fame like O Pioneers!, My Ántonia, One of Ours. Pulitzer Prize. Fellow, Amer. Acad. Arts & Sciences. Nat’l Inst. Arts & Letters gold medal for fiction. Nat’l Women’s Hall of Fame. New York Writers Hall of Fame. (Died 1947) [JH]
Born December 8, 1886 – Heywood Broun. Sportswriter, drama critic, columnist, editor; co-founded the Newspaper Guild. One of the Algonquin Round Table. Often wrote against racism, censorship, persecution of people for their beliefs. A novel and three shorter stories for us, much other work. (Died 1939) [JH]
Born December 7, 1915 — Leigh Brackett. Let’s us praise her first for her Retro Hugo this year for Shadow Over Mars, originally published in the Fall 1944 issue of Startling Stories. Now surely her scripts for The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye are genre adjacent? Why not? Ok, then her very pulpy Sea-Kings of Mars is? Being rhetorical there. And I love her Eric John Stark stories! (Much of these were written with her husband Edmond Hamilton.) And yes, she competed The Empire Strikes Back script just before she died. Is that the actual shooting script? (Died 1978.) (CE)
Born December 7, 1947 – Anne Fine, O.B.E., age 73. Three novels, four shorter stories for us; seventy children’s books, eight adults’. Two Carnegie Medals, two Whitbread Awards, The GuardianAward. Children’s Laureate (U.K., awarded every two years). Fellow, Royal Soc. Literature. Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. [JH]
Born December 7, 1949 — Tom Waits, 71. He’s got uncredited (but obviously known) roles in Wolfen and The Fisher King. He is in Bram Stoker’s Dracula as R.M. Renfield, and he shows up in Mystery Men as Doc Heller and in Mr.Nick in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. He’s simply Engineer in The Book of Eli. (CE)
Born December 7, 1953 — Madeleine E Robins, 67. I’m very fond of her Sarah Tolerance series which starts often Point of Honour, it features a female PI in an alternate version of Georgian London. The Stone War set in a post-apocalyptic NYC is quite interesting as well, and she has quite a bit short fiction, though only three have been collected so far in Luckstones: Three Tales of Meviel. Much of her fiction is available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)
Born December 7, 1957 – Terri Blackstock, age 63. Six novels for us; forty others. Carol Award. Two NY Times best-sellers. “I still print things out and mark all over the hard copies after each draft. Under glass, I have pictures of my characters, with important stats about them, such as their ages, so I can refer to them often.” [JH]
Born December 7, 1973 — Kelly Barnhill, 47. Her The Girl Who Drank the Moon novel was awarded the Newbery Medal and she was a McKnight Writing Fellow in Children’s Literature. Four years ago, her “Unlicensed Magician” novella received the World Fantasy Award for Long Fiction. Iron Hearted Violet was nominated as Andre Norton Award. (CE)
Born December 7, 1980 – Satô Yûya, age 40. (Surname first, Japanese style.) Mishima Yukio Prize. A dozen novels, as many shorter stories. “Same as Always” closes the just-released Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories. [JH]
Born December 7, 1984 – Walter Dinjos. This just-emerging Nigerian had a dozen stories in e.g. Abyss & Apex, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Galaxy’s Edge. (Died 2018) [JH]
(10) ROLLING ON THE RIVERS. You Rivers of London fans might want to know about Ben Aaronovitch’s Titan Comics series, the latest title being Rivers of London Volume 8: The Fey and the Furious. (Writers: Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel. Artist: Lee Sullivan.)
Trouble never lies far from the race track. When a flash car belonging to a young boy racer from England washes up in the Netherlands with a bagload of unusual cargo, it’s evident there is more than meets the eye happening at street races held in an Essex car park. Enter Detective Inspector Peter Grant. Fresh from suspension, he takes to the track in his orange ‘asbo’ Ford Focus to try and infiltrate the big leagues. But Peter soon finds himself sucked back into an Otherworld – a real-life fairyland!
They’ve also diagrammed where the comics fit into the overall series. (Click for slightly larger version.)
(11) PANDEMIC HEROES. “Real Nurses, Real Stories” describes The Vitals, a comic Marvel produced in collaboration with the Allegheny Health Network based on true stories of nurses fighting the pandemic. Read the comic here — The Vitals: True Nurse Stories (2020). (I’ll start typing again in a moment, right now I have something in my eye…)
(12) ALIEN COMICS ON THE WAY. Marvel Comics earlier announced plans for all-new comics set in the iconic world of the Alien franchise. The first of these will arrive March 2021 with ALIEN #1, written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, art by Salvador Larroca, and cover by InHyuk Lee.
ALIEN #1 will be a thrilling addition to the incredible legacy that began with the groundbreaking 1979 film. Featuring both new and classic characters from Earth and beyond, this bold take on the Alien mythology will entertain both longtime fans and newcomers to the legendary horror/science-fiction saga.
The new story will feature a Weyland-Yutani mercenary named Gabriel Cruz as he battles a deadly new breed of xenomorph with the survival of his child hanging in the balance.
Francis Hamit is the last guy you would expect to write an anti-war play. He is an Army brat who served four years in the U.S. Army Security Agency during the Vietnam War and had a tour there himself.
“I mostly write about two things,” he says, “Soldiers and spies. My background is in Military Intelligence and I try to stay current with how the American military has changed in the decades since the Vietnam War ended. For many of those who were it there, it never did, because American society turned on us and blamed us for losing the war and every bad thing that happened there. We were all accused of being drug addicts and war criminals, and that legacy has passed to subsequent generations of American soldiers. Most Americans no longer know us, nor do they want to. We are there on the front lines, but everyone else is at the Mall.”
MEMORIAL DAY is a two act, one set, seven character play set in a small town or city neighborhood someplace in the USA. Anywhere between Alabama and Alaska. One of the men was an Army Ranger on D-Day in World War Two. Part of the so-called “Greatest Generation”. The others came later. The bar is owned by a Vietnam veteran, a draftee who one day got into a situation that earned him the Medal of Honor. He doesn’t know what to do with the fame that comes with that award, and resists efforts by other to exploit it. He will not even march in the town’s annual Memorial Day parade. Anyone who ever lived in a small town will find these folks relatable.
Peter Jackson recently revisited Middle-Earth to remaster his Lord of the Ringsand Hobbit trilogies in 4K Ultra HD. The undertaking allowed the celebrated director to go back to the original films (for example, The Fellowship of the Ring turns 20?! next December) and update their visual effects with modern tools. But don’t worry, this isn’t a Star Wars Special Editions-type situation of a director going back in and adding a bunch of stuff that wasn’t there originally.
“Visual effects technology has advanced a lot in 20 years and when they became ultra-crisp and sharp with the 4K process, we realized that some of the shots were not holding up too well. So, we got the opportunity to go back and remove and paint out any imperfections,” Jackson explains in a new video posted by Warner Bros. “I should make it clear: we didn’t upgrade or enhance any of the effects shots. They’re exactly the same as you’re used to seeing them, except they do look as if they were done today rather than 20 years ago.”
In doing so, he was also able to make both trilogies feel like one seamless unit, despite the fact that The Hobbit adaptations were shot years later and at a much higher frame rate. “They now feel like it’s one big, long film, telling the same story and looking and sounding the same,” Jackson added.
What’s your favorite book no one else has heard of?
Not enough folks know what a great book “Kindred,” by Octavia E. Butler, is. It’s kind of tricky to describe but somehow it all works — it’s about race relations and there’s time travel and romance. It’s powerful.
Which genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?
I love historical fiction with a touch of romance — writers like Lee Smith or Diana Gabaldon. I avoid horror.
The future died in 1999. Ever since, we’ve been trapped in the eternal present—waiting for the other shoe to drop.
For two decades, we’ve fought the same wars, watched the police murder the same people, voted for the same duopoly, and paid for the same IPs in books, movies, and video games. I’m typing this at the close of A.D. 2020—the year I waited for all my life, the way some Christians wait for the Second Coming.
2020, the year forever associated with media like R. Talsorian’s Cyberpunk 2020 (2nd ed., 1992). Each day I wake in 2020 and look around to see myself surrounded by the ash and shadows of the spent neon future of my youth.
For those of you who were not there or don’t remember, it’s difficult to explain the ways in which the 1990s were different from today. There are two key aspects of that final decade of the 20th century that you must keep in mind:
It was the last decade in the West in which the analog took precedence over the digital in all fields.
People felt as if we were witnessing the first rays of a 21st-century dawn, one that promised humanity better living through technology.
[Thanks to Cliff, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John Hertz, R.S. Benedict, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, Francis Hamit, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Danny Sichel.]
My guest this time around for a conversation which couldn’t happen earlier this year but which we’re going to pretend did, thanks to the urging of my Patreon supporters, is Munich-based writer Steve Toase.
Steve’s fiction has appeared in Aurealis, Not One Of Us, Nox Pareidolia, Three Lobed Burning Eye, Shimmer, Lackington’s, and other magazines and anthologies. His stories have been reprinted multiple times in volumes of The Best Horror Of The Year. He was also the lead writer on a project called Haunt, about Harrogate’s haunting presence in the lives of people experiencing homelessness there. He writes regularly for Fortean Times and Folklore Thursday. His first short story collection, To Drown In Dark Water, will be released by Undertow Publications in January.
We discussed how his COVID-19 lifestyle has been both an inspiration for and a distraction from his writing, the way reading his stories at open mic nights helped him hone his craft, the importance of dread in horror, how his background in landscape archeology helps make his fiction more visceral, the challenge of scripting a planetarium show for the visually impaired, what gave birth to his fascination with Forteana, his advice for those who’d like to improve their flash fiction, the short story sale which told him he’d made it, our shared love of the great Italo Calvino, which of his creations brings him the greatest pride, the advice he wishes he could give his younger self about writing, and much more.
The day-long event features this sff author panel —
1:40PM–2:45PM Roundtable: Science Fiction Writers Organizer: Emily Hockaday Moderator: Joy Sanchez-Taylor Panelists: Alaya Dawn Johnson, Cadwell Turnbull, Erin Roberts, Carlos Hernandez
(3) DEPP OUT AS GRINDELWALD. Actor Johnny Depp has resigned his Fantastic Beasts role at the studio’s request.
(4) THE PLAY’S THE THING. Francis Hamit, a frequent File 770 contributor over the years, has published the text of his play Memorial Day.
This is a link to a stage play I wrote in 2004. It was preened in a workshop as part oft the Envision program at the Masquers Playhouse in Richmond, California in May, 2005, after which I did revisions based on audience feedback., Since them I’ve had parts of it read in staged readings in a local workshop. I think it’s ready for a full production but my health and Covid make that unlikely in the near term so I am simply making it available for reading through Stageplays.com.
Please let people know. Not SF but still something of my own. I started as a writer with plays.
In the early days of the Iraq War a Vietnam veteran who was awarded the Medal of Honor confronts and questions his own service and the cost of always “answering the call” for military service in a small town
As do the other characters, all of whom have served and still pay the cost
…Gilliam preferred cut-out animation, which involved pushing bits of paper in front of a camera instead of photographing pre-drawn cels. The process allows for more spontaneity than traditional animation along with being comparatively cheaper and easier to do.
Gilliam also preferred to use old photographs and illustrations to create sketches that were surreal and hilarious. Think Max Ernst meets Mad Magazine. For Monty Python’s Flying Circus, he created some of the most memorable moments of a show chock full of memorable moments: A pram that devours old ladies, a massive cat that menaces London, and a mustached police officer who pulls open his shirt to reveal the chest of a shapely woman. He also created the show’s most iconic image, that giant foot during the title sequence.
(6) PALMER OBIT. Actor Geoffrey Palmer has died at the age of 93. A tribute in The Guardian:
At first a dour and dignified supporting actor, usually playing figures of authority and moral rectitude, Geoffrey Palmer, who has died aged 93, became a television star in three highly popular series. In each, he punctured his own apparent pomposity with a comedy technique that made him attractive and funny to audiences over several decades.
… Sporadic appearances in Blackadder (as Field Marshal Haig, naturally), Doctor Who and Fawlty Towers – as the doctor demanding his breakfast while Basil is trying to conceal a corpse – kept his ever straight face before the public.
… Almost his last public deeds were to play the head geographer in the first Paddington movie in 2014 before reverting to dignified outspokenness as the lord chief justice in Richard Eyre’s BBC film of Henry IV Part 2 – and in vocal off-camera opposition to the HS2 rail line, due to be passing near his Buckinghamshire front door. He is due to appear in the forthcoming Roald Dahl film An Unquiet Life, as Dahl’s Repton headmaster (and later archbishop of Canterbury) Geoffrey Fisher.
(7) GORDON OBIT. Charles Gordon, the Oscar-nominated producer behind such films as Field of Dreams, Die Hard, October Sky and Waterworld, has died of cancer at the age of 73. Th Hollywood Reporter obituary is here.
He and his brother, Laurence, also produced Die Hard 2 (1990), Leviathan (1989), Lock Up (1989), K-9 (1989), Unlawful Entry (1992) and The Rocketeer (1991).
(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
November 6, 1981 — Time Bandits premiered. Co-written, produced, and directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Kenny Baker, Sean Connery, John Cleese, Shelley Duvall, Ralph Richardson, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, and David Warner. Gilliam has referred to it as the first in his Trilogy of Imagination followed by Brazil and ending with The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. It received widespread critical acclaim with a current ninety percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers and was a financial success as well. Apple has gained the rights for a Time Bandits television series for their Apple TV+ service with Gilliam on board in a non-writing production role and Taika Waititi who directed Thor: Ragnarok as the director of the pilot. You can read Kage Baker’s review of the Criterion edition here.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz]
Born November 6, 1907 – Catherine Crook de Camp. Married six decades to Sprague de Camp, collaborating with and without credit. Some of Footprints in the Sand attributed to her alone; named sole editor, Creatures of the Cosmos; appreciations of Heinlein, Leiber in Locus. (Died 2000) [JH]
Born November 6, 1914 — Jonathan Harris. Doctor Zachary Smith, of course, as seen on Lost in Space. He was somewhat typecast as a villain showing up as such as Mr. Piper on Land of the Giants, The Ambassador on Get Smart and the voice of Lucifer on the original Battlestar Galactica. He did play lighter roles such as Johann Sebastian Monroe on Bewitched in the “Samantha on the Keyboard” episode, and the voice of Professor Jones, the second Butler of Freakazoid on the series of that name. (Died 2002.) (CE)
Born November 6, 1929 – Ed Cox. Long-time fan, mainstay of Fourth or perhaps Fifth Fandom, tried to establish minimum activity for the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n) which was naturally not adopted though he was elected; in FAPA, SFPA; one of the three prophets of Roscoe. Fanzines today still sport blank spaces marked “Ed Cox, doodle here”. (Died 1997) [JH]
Born November 6, 1948 — Michael Dirda, 72. Currently book critic for the Washington Post. His connection to genre is a fascinating work entitled On Conan Doyle; or, The Whole Art of Storytelling which won the Edgar Award for Best Critical / Biographical Works in 2012 and which looks at his SF work as well. Also worth bringing to your attention is Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books which y’all should naturally be interested in reading. (CE)
Born November 6, 1951 — Nigel Havers, 69. The bridegroom Peter Dalton in “The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith” on The Sarah Jane Adventures, the spin-off of Doctor Who.He’s done a lot of children’s genre theatre: Jack in the Beanstalk twice, Robin Hood, Cinderella, Peter Pan and Aladdin. He’s been in one Doctor Who audiobook and narrated Watership Down once upon a time. He was Mark Ingram in An Englishman’s Castle, an alternate telling of WWII. (CE)
Born November 6, 1954 – Jay Rothbell, 66. Fourth wife of Robert Sheckley; two dozen stories under her name and his (i.e. “Jay Rothbell”, “Jay Sheckley”, “Jay Rothbell Sheckley”) not counting collaborations; poetry. Here is a 1982 photo of them. [JH]
Born November 6, 1955 — Catherine Asaro, 65. She is best known for her books about the Ruby Dynasty, called the Saga of the Skolian Empire. I don’t think I’ve read them, so if you have please do tell me about them. The Quantum Rose won a Nebula as did “The Spacetime Pool” novella. And I would argue strongly that her magnificent “Ancient Ages” song is definitely genre in content. It’s available from the usual musical digital sources with her books available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)
Born November 6, 1958 – Rodica Bretin, 62. A dozen novels, four dozen shorter stories for us; a dozen nonfiction books about unexplained phenomena and fantastic literature, four anthologies (she has done historical and archeological research in France, Italy, Romania), four translations including Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Best Foreign Story at 1996 Int’l Festival of Fantastic Art, France; Best Foreign Novel 2005 from Fantasia Art Ass’n; Opera Omnia Award, 40th Nat’l SF Con, Romania, 2019. [JH]
Born November 6, 1961 – Kim Huett, 59. Member (from Australia!), Stipple-APA. Edited John Brosnan collection You Only Live Once (rev. 2018), Lucy Huntzinger coll’n A Bright Particular Star. Helpful provider of photos, scans, to fanac.org. Often seen in letter columns of e.g. Banana Wings, SF Commentary; has a tag here. Current zine Doctor Strangemind. [JH]
Born November 6, 1965 — Sandra Newman, 55. She has two genre novels, both of which did well as mainstream fiction as well: The Country of Ice Cream Star, a near future dystopian feminist novel and The Heavens which may or may not involve time travel back to Elizabethian times. She also co-authored with Howard Mittlemark, How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them–A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide. (CE)
Born November 6, 1972 — Rebecca Romijn, 48. Played Mystique in the X-Men film franchise but my favorite role for her was as Eve Baird, The Guardian of the Library that crosses all realities in The Librarians series. She also was a regular playing Roxie Torcoletti in Eastwick, yet another riff off the John Updike novel. She was now Number One on Discovery, a rolewhich she’ll be reprising on the forthcoming Strange New Worlds series. (CE)
Born November 6, 1978 – Nicole Dubuc, 42. Yale woman – which was once impossible. Child actress (e.g. Robin in Major Dad, television 1989-1993); Clio Award. Story editor and writer on Disney’s My Friends Tigger and Pooh. Co-created Transformers: Rescue Bots. At DC Comics, first woman to write for The Flash. Co-author under another name of six My Little Pony “Ponyville Mysteries”. Showrunner for Disney’s Rocketeer. Eight Emmy nominations. 2018 Animation Writers Caucus’ Animation Writing Award for lifetime achievement. [JH]
(10) HANNA-BARBERA EVOLUTION. John King Tarpinian has ordered one of these t-shirts: “I could not resist.”
The Evergreen state has become even more, uh, evergreen. Washington passed a law in 2019 allowing people to turn themselves into compost after death. This month, the first officially licensed human composting company has opened its doors to help citizens meet their maker in a more environmentally friendly manner.
Recompose, whose founder helped drive the law into existence, is one of a small handful of green death companies licensed in Washington state and the first to offer its services. The company is the first to be certified by the state to break down your body into organic fertilizer. The company’s process involves sealing a body into a capsule with plant matter; microbes then break it all down over the course of about 30.
It’s the final piece of the puzzle. Dungeons & Dragons was an animated series on CBS Saturday morning television between 1983 and 1985, running 27 episodes over three seasons. It was one of the greatest disappointments to D&D fandom that there was never a final episode where the six friends finally got to go home. The show was canceled before the final episode could be produced, leaving millions of fans in the lurch. There was a TV Commercial released by the Brazilian branch of Renault that finished the story, but while it pulled at the heartstrings, it didn’t tell the whole story, and really centered on selling cars.
The final episode, however, wouldn’t die. The script has since been published online and was performed as an audio drama as a special feature for the BCI Eclipse DVD edition of the series. Now a group of dedicated fans, led by Marshall Hubbard and Ryan Nead, have combined some of the original footage from the show with new animation to create the closest thing to an official final episode for the series that anyone will ever see. Original cast member Katie Leigh reprises her role of Shelia, and the music was reconstructed from the original series.
(13) TWENTY THINGS. [Item by Dann.] A couple of recent “10 Things You Didn’t Know…” videos from Minty that I thought were interesting.
10 Thing’s You Didn’t Know About Connery’s James Bond
10 Thing’s You Didn’t Know About Logan’s Run
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Kohl’s holiday commercial. Big box of tissues recommended.
This year looks different—and so do our wish lists. Where once we just wished for things like toys and tech, we’re now wishing for happiness, understanding and kindness more than ever. And time spent together is the greatest gift of all. This year looks different because the world is different. So give with all your heart.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Dann, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bruce Baugh.]
…But what of the 1945 Retro Hugo Awards finalists? There is unlikely to be a Voter Packet for these, so how are Hugo Awards voters to go about making an informed choice here? Fortunately, many of the works that will be on the ballot are available online, either on the Internet Archive or elsewhere. Below I have compiled links to as many of these as I could find, and provided information about whether items are in print or otherwise….
MINAS TIRITH — The White Council of the Wise issued a decree today that all fellowships in Middle Earth shall be no larger than five companions for at least the next quarter-age to help slow the spread of the Samund-01 curse that has already killed over 30,000 elves, dwarves, and men.
…It does feel like we’re living through another Black Death.
But in recent days, as the horrors of the coronavirus pandemic have begun to unfold, I’ve also been reminded of similarities of this pandemic to the Blitz:
1. The disruption of our daily lives. The orderly schedules of the British people was completely upended by the Blitz. People found themselves sleeping under the kitchen table or in basements or tube shelters. They went to work in the morning after a sleepless night with bombs falling overhead, only to find that their place of work was closed or bombed out, and when they went home, they found that had been bombed out, too. Everything changed in an instant. Theaters and museums were closed, and the way of life they’d always known disappeared overnight as if it had never been….
She comes up with three more parallels before concluding –
Everybody’s rising to the occasion, and, in spite of my having occasional worried thoughts about all of us becoming the crazy characters in Shirley Jackson’s WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE, we’re doing great. When this is all over, we’re going to be able to say, just like the British, “This was their finest hour.”
(4) SEEKING DONATIONS. The Ray Bradbury Experience Museum (RBEM) asks for help to open ‘The Martian Chronicles’ exhibit area for the Ray Bradbury Centennial celebration in “Green Town” in 2020. The donation link is here.
(5) WHO MEMORIAL. “Farewell, Sarah Jane” on the official Doctor Who YouTube channel.
Today marks the anniversary of the passing of Elisabeth Sladen, who played the Doctor’s friend Sarah Jane Smith. In a new video, scripted by Russell T Davies and narrated by Jacob Dudman, Sarah Jane Smith’s closest friends come together to say “Farewell, Sarah Jane”.
Sadie Miller, the actress daughter of the late Elizabeth Sladen, is boarding the TARDIS in the role her mother made famous on the iconic BBC sci-fi series — that of intrepid investigative reporter Sarah Jane Smith — in Big Finish‘s highly anticipated audio drama Doctor Who: Return of the Cybermen.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 19, 1907 — Alan Wheatley. Best remembered for being the Sheriff of Nottingham in The Adventures of Robin Hood TV series, with Richard Greene playing Robin Hood. In 1951, he had played Sherlock Holmes in the first series about him, but no recordings of it are known to exist. And he was in Two First Doctor stories as Temmosus, “The Escape” and “The Ambush” where he was the person killed on screen by Daleks. (Died 1991.)
Born April 19, 1925 — Hugh O’Brian. He was Harry Chamberlain in Rocketship X-M which you can see here. (It was nominated in the 1951 Retro Hugo Awards given at The Millennium Philcon but lost out to Destination Moon.) He would later play Hugh Lockwood in Probe, the pilot for Search, and Search itself, an SF series. His only other genre appearance I think was playing five different roles on Fantasy Island. (Died 2016.)
Born April 19, 1933 — W.R. Cole. Author of A Checklist of Science Fiction Anthologies, self-published In 1964. Ok, I’m including him today because I’m puzzled. SFE said of this work that ‘Though it has now been superseded and updated by William Contento’s indexes of Anthologies, it is remembered as one the essential pioneering efforts in Bibliography undertaken by sf Fandom.’ Was this really the first time someone compiled an index of anthologies? I seem to remember earlier efforts though I can’t remember precisely who. (Died 2002.)
Born April 19, 1935 — Herman Zimmerman, 84. He was the art director and production designer who worked between 1987 and 2005 for the Trek franchise. Excepting Voyager, he worked on all other live-action productions including the first season of Next Gen, the entire runs of Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, as well as six Trek films. As Memory Alpha notes, “Together with Rick Sternbach he designed the space station Deep Space 9, with John Eaves the USS Enterprise-B and the USS Enterprise-E. His most recognizable work though, have been his (co-)designs for nearly all of the standing sets, those of the bridge, Main Engineering (co-designed with Andrew Probert) and Ten Forward for the USS Enterprise-D in particular.” Not surprisingly, he co-wrote the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual with Rick Sternbach and Doug Drexler.
Born April 19, 1936 — Tom Purdom, 84. There’s very little on him on the web, so I’ll let Michael Swanwick speak for him in the introduction to his Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons collection: ‘How highly do I regard Tom’s fiction? So highly that I wrote the introduction to the collection — and I hate writing introductions. They’re a lot of work. But these stories deserve enormous praise, so I was glad to do it.’ He’s written five novels and has either one or two collections of his stories. He’s deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects.
Born April 19, 1946 — Tim Curry, 74. Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show of course, but it’s not his first genre appearance as he’d appeared a year earlier at the Scottish Opera in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Puck. And yes I know that he appeared in the live show which was at the Chelsea Classic Cinema and other venues before the film was done. Other genre appearances include playing Darkness in Legend, an outstanding Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers, Farley Claymore in The Shadow (great role), another superb performance playing Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island and in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as The Player.
Born April 19, 1952 — Mark E. Rogers. Best remembered for the Samurai Cat series which in the first book, The Adventures of Samurai Cat, lampooned Tolkien, Lovecraft and Howard. Indiana Jones. Burroughs’ Barsoom and Star Wars would also get their due. (Died 2014.)
Born April 19, 1967 — Steven H Silver, 53. Fan and publisher, author, and editor. He has been nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twelve times and Best Fanzine four times. He’s a longtime contributing editor to SF Site and has written that site’s news page since its beginning. Over twenty years ago, he founded the Sidewise Award for Alternate History and has served as a judge ever since. He publishes his own fanzine, Argentus, and is a Hugo nominee this year for his work on Journey Planet.
Born April 19, 1968 — Ashley Judd, 52. Best known genre wise for playing Natalie Prior in the Divergent film franchise. She was also Carly Harris-Thompson in the Tooth Fairy film, and was Ensign Robin Lefler in a few episodes of Next Gen. She played Beverly Paige on several episodes of Twin Peaks as well.
As a sci-fi and fantasy nerd, of course I love the cartoon of the scientist being tempted by science fiction. Where did that one come from?
I think the scientist character in that cartoon is a bit like me when I’m making these cartoons, because I have to resist the temptation to draw silly robots and over-the-top science fiction technology every week. I am a SF/F nerd myself and while that’s one of the things that draws me to science, I have to remind myself to look in all the different areas of science to find cartoon themes.
(9) MARLOWE AND THE QUEEN. Francis Hamit, who frequently shared with File 770 readers his experience as a writer publishing via early indie platforms, and has spent years trying to get a movie made, sends this update.
I dissolved the Kit Marlowe Film Co, Ltd in February after five years and one month of trying to get CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE produced. My recent surgery for spinal stenosis, (the first of two with the second on hold now because of the pandemic) makes it impossible for me to produce anything, even if our great producer Gary Kurtz hadn’t died in September, 2018, the HMRC had not changed the EIS rules and Brexit had not changed all of the assumptions we had when we started the company in 2014. I’m an old poker player. I know when to fold a losing hand. Rising from the ashes, however, is the five-time award-winning screenplay and the curious fact that BFI says our letter of comfort for the film tax relief can be used by any UK film production company. That’s a twenty percent rebate on the spend in the UK. But coronoavirus has shut down the entire industry in the USA and UK. Except for “development” and I have that script and two others out for consideration. (Details on Facebook).
I also have a few hundred copies of The Shenandoah Spy and The Queen of Washington left in the distributor’s warehouse. I am reducing the retail price to $12.95 and $14.95 respectfully. This is slightly below my break-even point but will free up cash to get another book to market. Regular publishing has ls shut down so it may be DIY for the one I’m working on now STARMEN, a multi-genre romp that begins in El Paso, Texas in 1875 with the Pinkertons, who investigated all sorts of strange things. I might also do some crowd-funding.
Anyway those who would like to buy a copy of either book should call Pathway Book Service at 1-800-345-6665. The Shenandoah Spy is $12.95 plus shipping and handling and they take credit cards. The Queen of Washington is a hardbound at $14.95 plus shipping and handling. Amazon has a few copies at the old prices but has stopped taking third party distributors’ books to deal with the emergency. Both books are in e-book at $9.99 on Amazon Kindle and as audiobooks at Audible, Amazon and iTunes, sometimes for free.
Anyone who wants a signed copy should contact me directly. (firstname.lastname@example.org). (My other books are also available but not discounted.)
Direct sales will be $27.50 per book, $50 for two plus $5.00 shipping each and these will be signed. I’m running out of copies here and will have to order some from Pathway, which costs me for shipping. If they are able. In the current emergency. We can’t be sure. On the other hand they will be signed.
Gail Shalan and I are converting The Shenanoah Spy audiobook to a Young Adult title. That simply means we are going to cut the more graphic sexual content. Probably less than a thousand words that won’t be missed. Times have changed since 2008 when the book was first published and we don’t want to provide “triggers” that get some readers upset and detract from the story. That means the sexual content is still there but more is left to the imagination. Gail’s performance will be intact. BTW the audiobook is “free” if it is a title used to sign up for Audible and Gail and I split a nice bonus.
.. The first three films in Jackson’s Middle-earth franchise raked in nearly $3 billion worldwide. And no, that number doesn’t account for DVD or memorabilia sales, or the sale of the trilogy’s television broadcast rights.
(15) FROST READS. The editors of the Beatles-themed anthology Across the Universe, Michael A. Ventrella and Randee Dawn, are posting videos of various authors in the anthology reading from their work. Here, Gregory Frost reads “A Hard Day’s Night at the Opera.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Steve Green and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) MANGA AT THE MUSEUM. The
British Museum will host an exhibit on “Manga”
from May 23-August 26.
Enter a graphic world where art and storytelling collide in the largest exhibition of manga ever to take place outside of Japan.
Manga is a visual narrative art form that has become a multimedia global phenomenon, telling stories with themes from gender to adventure, in real or imagined worlds.
Immersive and playful, the exhibition will explore manga’s global appeal and cultural crossover, showcasing original Japanese manga and its influence across the globe, from anime to ‘cosplay’ dressing up. This influential art form entertains, inspires and challenges – and is brought to life like never before in this ground-breaking exhibition.
Japanese manga artists find inspiration for their work in daily life, the world around them, and also in the ancient past. Many people are familiar with modern manga, but the art form – with its expressive lines and images – is much older than you might think. …Here is a brief history of Japanese manga in 12 works.
“Patrick isn’t playing Captain Jean-Luc Picard this time, he’s done with Starfleet in this show. That’s about the only thing I do know about the show,” he said.
(3) VERDICT COMING FOR
OPPORTUNITY. NASA has received only silence
from Opportunity since contact was lost during a global dust storm on the red
planet last June. The agency may soon decide to move on. The New York Times has the story — “‘This
Could Be the End’ for NASA’s Mars Opportunity Rover”.
…The designers of the spacecraft expected that dust settling out of the Martian air would pile up on the solar panels, and the rovers would soon fail from lack of power. But unexpectedly, gusts of Martian winds have repeatedly provided helpful “cleaning events” that wiped the panels clean and boosted power back up.
In 2009, Spirit became ensnared in a sand trap and stopped communicating in March 2010, unable to survive the Martian winter.
Opportunity continued trundling across the Martian landscape for more than 28 miles. Instead of just 90 Martian days, Opportunity lasted 5,111, if the days are counted up until it sent its last transmission. (A Martin day is about 40 minutes longer than an Earth day.)
This time, the dust may have been too thick to be blown away or something else broke on the rover. John L. Callas, the project manager, conceded that hopes were fading. “We’re now in January getting close to the end of the historic dust cleaning season,” he said.
Cultural critic Mark Dery coined the term “Afrofuturism” in his essay “Black to the Future,”and its meaning has expanded to encompass alternative visions of the future influenced by astral jazz, African-American sci-fi, psychedelic hip-hop, rock, rhythm and blues, and more. This reading is co-sponsored with PEN/Faulkner Foundation as part of its Literary Conversations series and The Library of Congress’s Center for the Book and Poetry and Literature Center.
The reading at the Folger will be preceded by a moderated
conversation with all three writers at the Library of Congress. This event
is free and will take place at 4 p.m. Register here.
(5) FANTASTIC WOMEN. As part of the celebration of Women’s History Month, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation and the National Museum of Women in the Arts will present “Fantastic Women” on March 10 in Washington, DC.
Join us in celebrating the work of Lesley Nneka Arimah, Kelly Link, and Carmen Maria Machado, women writers who all use elements of the fantastic in their work, often in ways that allow them to explore crucial themes (power, sexuality, identity, the body) without the constraints imposed by strict realism. These authors play with the boundaries of time and space through short stories and novels, and use their writing to push back against the traditional boundaries of women’s fiction.
…An eye-opening moment for Kloos came when he attended another science fiction workshop: the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop, held each year at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. (Disclaimer — I was an attendee in 2014). The week-long boot camp is engineered to impart science fiction writers with a baseline of astronomy and physics knowledge, with the idea that more scientifically accurate works will in turn help provide readers with better science. “That gave me a lot of ideas that I wanted to put into this series,” he says, “and basically created the solar system from scratch.”
The workshop “taught me all the things I did wrong with Frontlines, which was luckily not a whole lot,” Kloos says, “but there are some whoppers in there, like a colony around a star that does not support a habitable zone.”
(7) BLEAK ENOUGH FOR YOU? Behind a paywall at the Financial Times, John Lanchester argues
that Brave New Worlds did a better
job than 1984 in predicting the
One particular area of Huxley’s prescience concerned the importance of data. He saw the information revolution coming–in the form of gigantic card-indexes, but he got the gist. It is amusing to see how many features of Facebook, in particular, are anticipated by Brave New World. Facebook’s mission statement ‘to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together’ sounds a lot like the new world’s motto ‘Community, Identity, Stability.’ The world in which we ‘haven’t any use for old things’ dovetails with Mark Zuckerberg’s view that ‘young people are just smarter.’ The meeting room whose name is Only Good News–can you guess whether that belongs to Huxley’s world controller, or Sheryl Sandberg? The complete ban on the sight of breast feeding is common to the novel and to the website. The public nature of relationship status, the idea that everything should be shared, and the idea that ‘everyone belongs to everyone else’ are also common themes of the novel and the company–and above all, the idea, perfectly put by Zuckerberg and perfectly exemplifying Huxley’s main theme, that ‘privacy is an outdated norm.’
(8) HAMIT. Francis
Hamit, a longtime contributor here, has a new Patreon
He says, “There is s lot of free stuff in the Public area. Some of it is
even science fiction. Feedback is welcome and the minimum sign-up is
$2.25 a month for those who want to support my efforts.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Andy Vajna, the Hollywood producer who died earlier this week, have appeared in a just-released video from the set of the latest movie in the “Terminator” franchise, which shot in Hungary last year.
The behind-the-scenes promotional video, posted online by the Hungarian National Film Fund, sees Schwarzenegger and the movie’s director, Tim Miller (“Deadpool”), sing the praises of Budapest as a location, and Vajna complimenting the “Terminator” franchise. It ends with Schwarzenegger saying, “I’ll be back.”
It was Vajna’s last set visit to one of the international productions filming in Hungary, where he served as the government commissioner for the film industry. With partner Mario Kassar, Vajna founded the indie powerhouse Carolco, which produced blockbusters including “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” the first three “Rambo” films and “Basic Instinct.” He died Sunday in Budapest after a long illness. He was 74.
(10) AN ANCIENT EASTERCON.
Rob Hansen has added a section about “Bullcon
– the 1963 Eastercon” to his British fanhistory website THEN “featuring
the usual cornucopia of old photos:”
BULLCON the 1963 UK National Science Fiction Convention – the fifth to be run under the aupices of the B.S.F.A. – took place over the weekend of 12th April – 15th April, 1963. It was held at the Bull Hotel in Peterborough (see it today here), as it would also be the following year. Guest of Honour was Bruce Montgomery aka Edmund Crispin. In SKYRACK, Ron Bennett reported that: “this was the best attended British Convention to date, with over 130 avid fans gathering to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the British Science Fiction Association.”
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 26, 1928 – Roger Vadim. Director of Barbarella which was based on the comic series of the same name by Jean-Claude Forest. Need I note that it starred Jane Fonda in the title role? (Died 2000.)
Born January 26, 1928 – Philip Jose Farmer. I know I’ve read at least the first three Riverworld novels (To Your Scattered BodiesGo, The Fabulous Riverboat and The Dark Design) but I’ll be damned if I recognize the latter ones. Great novels those are. And I’ll admit that I’m not familiar at all with the World of Tiers or Dayworld series. Anyone read them? I know, silly question. I do remember his Doc Savage novel Escape from Loki as being a highly entertaining read, and I see he’s done a number of Tarzan novels as well. (Died 2009.)
Born January 26, 1943 – Judy-Lynn Del Rey. Editor at Ballantine Books after first starting at Galaxy Magazine. Dick and Asimov were two of her clients who considered her the best editor they’d worked with. Wife of Lester del Rey. She suffered a brain hemorrhage in October 1985 and died several months later. Though she was awarded a Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor after her death, her widower turned it down on the grounds that it only been awarded because of her death. (Died 1986.)
Born January 26, 1949 – Jonathan Carroll, 70. I think his best work by far is The Crane’s View Trilogy consisting of Kissing the Beehive, The Marriage of Sticks and The Wooden Sea. I know de Lint liked these novels though mainstream critics were less than thrilled. White Apples I thought was a well crafted novel and The Crow’s Dinner is his wide ranging look at life in general, not genre at all but fascinating.
Born January 26, 1979 – Yoon Ha Lee, 40. Best known for his Machineries of Empire space opera novels and his short fiction. Ninefox Gambit, his first novel, received the 2017 Locus Award for Best First Novel. His newest novel, Dragon Pearl, riffs off the fox spirit mythology.
Do you have a writing routine? More or less. I get up, walk my cat (or more accurately, she walks me), maybe work on one of the languages I’m trying to learn (French, German, Welsh, Korean, and Japanese), brew myself a cup of tea, then set up in my study. For a long project like a novel, I usually write in Scrivener, although for a shorter project or to mix things up I sometimes write longhand with fountain pen. When I’m working in Scrivener, it gives me a running wordcount. So every 100 words that I write, I go to my bullet journal and write out the phrase, “100 words down, 1,900 words to f***ing go!” “200 words down, 1,800 words to f***ing go!” It’s kind of aggro but it keeps me going? I generally aim for 2,000 words in a writing day. More than that and my brain seizes up.
(13) ST:D RECAP. Let Camestros
Felapton fill you in on the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery: “Discovery:
Discovery decides to play it safe with an episode that’s so The Next Generation that it needs Commander Riker to direct it.
The mystery of the red signals leads Discovery to the Beta quadrant via a quick use of the spore drive. There they discover a colony of humans from pre-warp Earth. Meanwhile in orbit, the collapse of a planetary ring of radioactive rocks (just go along with it) imperils not just the lost colony of humans but the away team (Pike, Michael and crew member of the week).
It’s nice enough. There’s a theme of faith versus science with Pike sort of taking one side and Michael the other.
“I think this is very uplifting. We’re all still in this room. There’s still books, people are still reading them,” said Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, The Blind Assassin and much more, during the breakfast keynote on the second day of Winter Institute 14 in Albuquerque, N.Mex.
“Part of the uptick of books is that’s one of the places people go when they feel under both political and psychological pressure,” Atwood continued. “It is actually quite helpful to know that other people have been through similar things before, and have come out of them.”
Atwood was in conversation with Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus and the upcoming The Starless Sea, and during a wide-ranging, illuminating and often funny discussion, topics ranged from forthcoming novels to blurring genre lines, early book-signing experiences, and past and present reactions to The Handmaid’s Tale.
On the subject of her new novel, The Testaments—the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale coming from Nan Talese/Doubleday on September 10—Atwood joked that her publisher would kill her if she said too much, but she did say that it is set 16 years after the events of the previous book and features three narrators. Beyond that, her publisher “would be very cross” with her.
When asked what led her to return to the world of The Handmaid’s Tale more than 30 years later, Atwood replied that there have “always been a lot of questions asked” about the book, like what happens next and what happens to the main character after the end of the novel. She said that she never answered those questions, because she didn’t know. Writing The Testaments, Atwood explained, was “an exploration of the answers” to those many questions
More than a decade ago, Jay Asher’s young adult novel, “Thirteen Reasons Why,” a dark story about a bullied teenager who kills herself, became an unexpected best-seller. Teachers and librarians around the country embraced the novel as a timely and groundbreaking treatment of bullying and teenage suicide, and the novel went on to sell several million copies. A popular Netflix adaptation set off controversy over its depiction of the causes of suicide, but still drew hordes of new readers to the book, and has been renewed for a third season.
Then, last year, Mr. Asher’s career imploded when he was accused of sexual misconduct, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators announced that he had violated the professional organization’s anti-harassment policy. The repercussions were swift: His literary agency dropped him, speaking engagements and book signings evaporated, and some bookstores removed his novels from their shelves.
Now Mr. Asher, who denied the allegations, has filed a lawsuit against the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the group’s executive director, Lin Oliver, claiming that Ms. Oliver and the organization made false and defamatory statements about him that torpedoed his career, and caused financial harm and intentional emotional distress.
(16) ONE SMALL STEP. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Checkers? Long since mastered. Chess? Mere child’s play. Go?
Can’t you make me work a little?
In London last month, a team from Alphabet’s UK-based artificial intelligence research unit DeepMind quietly laid a new marker in the contest between humans and computers. On Thursday it revealed the achievement in a three-hour YouTube stream, in which aliens and robots fought to the death.
DeepMind’s broadcast showed its artificial intelligence bot, AlphaStar, defeating a professional player at the complex real-time strategy videogame StarCraft II. Humanity’s champion, 25-year-old Grzegorz Komincz of Poland, lost 5-0. The machine-learning-powered software appeared to have discovered strategies unknown to the pros who compete for millions of dollars in prizes offered each year in one of e-sports’ most lucrative games. “It was different from any StarCraft that I have played,” said Komincz, known professionally as MaNa.
[…] Mark Riedl, an associate professor at Georgia Tech, found Thursday’s news exciting but not jaw-dropping. “We were pretty much to a point where it was just a matter of time,” he says. “In a way, beating humans at games has gotten boring.”
The Vision and Scarlet Witch, one of the first series that Marvel Studios will be making for Disney’s streaming service Disney+, has landed a writer and showrunner.
Jac Schaeffer, one of the scribes behind Marvel’s upcoming Captain Marvel movie, has been tapped to run point on the series that will focus on the two characters that are integral members of the Avengers. She will pen the pilot and executive produce, say sources.
Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen are expected to star in the series, reprising the roles they originated on the big screen.
…As The CW’s Roswell, New Mexico is set to premiere, my guess is that audience response to the series’ fitfully immigration-heavy perspective will fall into two camps.
First: “Keep your politics out of my teen-friendly supernatural soaps!” This group of detractors will be frustrated that a series about aliens set in the American Southwest in 2019 would attempt to connect that extreme circumstance to what is actually happening at the border in 2019. Leaving aside that those people may not like or understand science fiction on a very fundamental level, they won’t like Roswell, New Mexico anyway.
Second: “If this is your skid, steer into it!” This’ll be from those who want Roswell, New Mexico to do more with the immigration metaphor or, rather, to approach it better. It’s the thing that makes Roswell, New Mexico relevant as a brand reinvention, so there’s very little purpose in soft-selling it.
It is always an awkward situation when a movie or TV show spells something wrong in the credits. This can be problematic if an actor’s name is spelled wrong, but as for Star Trek, the word “script” was spelled incorrectly for 13 episodes of season 1.
When giving the crew member George A. Rutter his title, the credits credit him as a “Scpipt” Supervisor. This mistake was eventually fixed on the show, but in the ‘60s, it likely would have cost a lot of money to redo the credits to fix one spelling error.
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Liptak, Francis Hamit, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
The Wellington City Council is refusing to comment on reports Sir Peter Jackson is threatening to pull the plug on the capital’s $150 million Movie Museum.
The famous director has been working with the council to create the new attraction i but a report this morning claims that relationship could be on rocky ground after Sir Peter sent an angry letter to the council.
Councillors have described it as a “divorce letter”, according to Fairfax.
Fairfax reports Jackson sent the letter out of anger over how the council has been managing the museum plans.
Deck the halls! It’s yet another ad in which the fictional inner workings of Santa’s workshop are imagined in elaborate detail. This time around, Santa is a kind of corporate virtuoso, seated behind a desk, where he takes direct calls from kids and manages linguistic switching with finesse while a fawning elf takes notes on a tablet.
Chinese? No sweat.
Then the New Zealanders start dialing in. What kind of kid asks for a new beard, a biscuit ball or an ear plane?
The system can operate the jet pack autonomously or give the astronaut directions with a combination of visual, auditory and sensory cues through a web of sensors and a helmet visor display. If something were to happen during a spacewalk (also known as an Extravehicular Activity, or EVA) the self-return system can be initiated by the astronaut, a space station crewmember or mission control.
Draper’s “take me home” system features options. According to the patent, the spacesuit’s sensors can be configured to monitor movement, acceleration and relative position of the crewmember to a fixed object, such as an accompanying orbiting spacecraft. The navigation, guidance and control modules can also accommodate various scenarios. For instance, the navigation module can be configured using GPS, vision-aided navigation or a star-tracker system. To improve the astronaut’s positioning and orientation, Draper has developed software that fuses data from vision-based and inertial navigation systems and benefits from the advantages of both sensing approaches.
People say you shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but here at Bookish we’re not just readers—we’re cover-judging-rebels. As 2017 draws to a close, we wanted to pay homage to the incredible designs that stood out on bookstore shelves like works of art. Are you a rebel too? Let us know what your favorite covers of 2017 were!
But where are the covers from McEdifice Returns, I ask you?
(7) DID YOU HEAR THAT? As John Brunner said in The Shockwave Rider, “The Future arrived too soon and in the wrong order.” Gizmodo’s Adam Clark Estes argues “Don’t Buy Anyone an Echo”.
Let me make this point dreadfully clear, though: Your family members do not need an Amazon Echo or a Google Home or an Apple HomePod or whatever that one smart speaker that uses Cortana is called. And you don’t either. You only want one because every single gadget-slinger on the planet is marketing them to you as an all-new, life-changing device that could turn your kitchen into a futuristic voice-controlled paradise. You probably think that having an always-on microphone in your home is fine, and furthermore, tech companies only record and store snippets of your most intimate conversations. No big deal, you tell yourself.
Actually, it is a big deal. The newfound privacy conundrum presented by installing a device that can literally listen to everything you’re saying represents a chilling new development in the age of internet-connected things. By buying a smart speaker, you’re effectively paying money to let a huge tech company surveil you. And I don’t mean to sound overly cynical about this, either. Amazon, Google, Apple, and others say that their devices aren’t spying on unsuspecting families. The only problem is that these gadgets are both hackable and prone to bugs.
(8) DARK INSIDE, Find out more about the new Netflix Dark series, including spoilers, in Camestros Felapton’s “Dark Debrief”.
I’ve finished watching the German Netflix show Dark and it was indeed Dark. I also bought and ate a Twix today without thinking. Spoilers below as this post is for me to take stock and make notes of the twisty turns – particularly if there is a second season as the ending implies.
A fold and then don’t continue unless you like spoilers or have watched it all already.
To make life easier, characters get a year after their name so you know who is when. If I’ve got names wrong please correct me!
Fans will recall that in the main trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker says, “I’ve seen this raw strength only once before. It didn’t scare me enough then. It does now.” This comes after a scene in which Rey cracks the ground while training on Ahch-To, so it communicates the idea that Luke is actually scared of Rey because she is so powerful and does not want to train her.
But when Luke makes reference to seeing raw strength “once before,” who is he talking about, exactly? In the trailer itself, he doesn’t specify, and this is something fans have been in disagreement about.
How did you prepare to play an aged Charles Xavier in “Logan”?
I lost 20 pounds. I’ve always been blessed by being able to lose weight easily, and I spread this out over the span of a few months so that it was easier to take. When I lose weight, it tends to be most noticeable in the face, and that’s what I wanted. I wanted to look sick and undernourished and stressed and frail and vulnerable. Hugh had to carry me in the movie, and I assured him that I would do my damnedest to make sure I was carry-able.
Is this your last “X-Men” movie?
Oh, yes. Hugh had been on record that this would be his last time before “Logan” even started shooting. I hadn’t given it a thought until I saw the film for the first time with an audience at the Berlin Film Festival. It was Hugh and James Mangold and myself, and when it got to the last 10 minutes of the movie, it was emotional and intense, and I could feel myself getting choked up. Then I looked over at Hugh and he was wiping his eyes, and I thought if Wolverine can weep at a movie, Charles Xavier can do the same thing. Then Hugh reached over and grabbed my hand and we held hands for the rest of the movie.
…The results were unfamiliar. Moss-green spirulina ice cubes kept diners’ drinks cool. Spirulina is super-nutritious microalgae that grows quickly, perfect for a food-scarce world. A soup of mussels and seaweed came with a lump of shrimp paste and encouragement to stir it in. This was intended to be a hopeful dish, symbolizing shrimp farms in small ponds that might be a vibrant future food source…
(15) PUPPY POWER. Milo Yiannopoulos is turning John C. Wright into the Hieronymous Bosch of the op-ed page at his new site Dangerous, in a biweekly feature titled Wright On What’s Wrong. The first 2,000-word opus, “This Christmas, Give Thanks or Get Stuffed”, asks —
Last week, did you notice Thanksgiving is dying?
I challenge you to find a line of thought which leads from that beginning to this sentence later in the essay: “His anus is turned inward.”
Each year, more than 100,000 visitors trek through and around a cluster of solemn, hauntingly impressive late-18th Century buildings on the hem of England’s Peak District National Park. This is Cromford Mill, Derbyshire, founded in 1771 by the entrepreneurial inventor Richard Arkwright. Here, long before Henry Ford was born, mass production began.
In these buildings – their floors free of partitions and with windows on all sides – water-mills powered looms that spun reams of cotton, 24 hours a day, the chattering machinery attended by children as young as seven, working 12-hour shifts. Cotton ceased spinning here in the 1840s as the great mills in and around Manchester took on the challenge of making and shipping cotton to the world. The massively ambitious Houldsworth Mill in Reddish, designed by Abraham Stott, was one of the mightiest temples yet devoted to industrial technology when it opened in 1865.
Everything before the balloon’s take off (the first 20 minutes or so) was funny, clever, and fast paced. The first scene, in which the professor and his inventor friend take reluctant investors on a demonstration flight, and then the next bit in which the professor prepares for the expedition and collects funds and crew, was quite fun to watch!
But once he’d picked up the American reporter, and the balloon took to the skies, the movie ground to a sudden halt. Unfortunately it never seemed to pick back up again either. The entire movie was: the balloon flies around, lands someplace; the crew gets out and gets into trouble, they run back to the balloon and fly away. There were no real conflicts, because they could always just retreat to the balloon and escape danger. Moreover, many of these scenes went on for ‘way too long. There was never any real tension through the whole movie, and without tight pacing of events, the movie felt like it was really dragging on for five weeks!
Logan Moore, 16, surprised family and neighbours when he quickly built a wooden structure in his backyard.
Chip Hitchcock comments, “I’m forgetting whether you ran the story about the MIT dorm that built a rollercoaster as part of freshman welcoming. Theirs was just a straight shot, even simpler than the one this guy built — but there are pictures of people riding the MIT coaster.”
She said the website, owned by Google, had used “computer-learning” technology that could find extremist videos.
More than 150,000 of these videos have been removed since June, she said.
(21) WOLVERINE DRAMA PODCAST COMING. Marvel New Media and top podcast listening service Stitcher today announced “Wolverine: The Long Night” , the first-ever Marvel scripted podcast, launching in spring 2018.
The 10-episode series will be available exclusively on Stitcher Premium until fall 2018, when it will see a wide release across all podcast platforms….
The show’s cast includes notable actors Richard Armitage (“The Hobbit”), Scott Adsit (“30 Rock”), Bob Balaban (“Moonrise Kingdom”) and Brian Stokes Mitchell (“Mr. Robot”).
The “Wolverine: The Long Night” story is a captivating hybrid of mystery and the larger-scale fantasy of the Marvel Universe. It follows agents Sally Pierce (Celia Keenan-Bolger) and Tad Marshall (Ato Essandoh) as they arrive in the fictional town of Burns, Alaska, to investigate a series of murders and quickly discover the town lives in fear of a serial killer. The agents team up with deputy Bobby Reid (Andrew Keenan-Bolger) to investigate their main suspect, Logan (Richard Armitage). Their search leads them on a fox hunt through the mysterious and corrupt town….
Also cast in the series are actors Zoe Chao, Chaske Spencer, Jordan Bridges, David Call, Michael J. Burg and Lannon Killia. Chris Gethard, host of the popular “Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People” podcast, also will make a cameo appearance.
Dyslexie is a font that aims to overcome some of the problems that people with dyslexia can have when reading. Due to the way their brains process visual information, they will often subconsciously switch, rotate and mirror letters, making it harder to recognise the characters.
It is thought that their brains start treating two-dimensional letters as three-dimensional objects that can be freely manipulated.
When this happens, the letter “b” can look like a “d”… or a “p” or a “q”. It is easy to see why this can quickly become confusing.
“Traditionally in typeface design, there are ‘rules’ that say it is best to make the letters as uniform as possible,” says Boer, now 36. “If you make the arch of an “h” the same as an “n”, it produces a typeface that is clean and quiet for ordinary readers. For me, these letters become three dimensional so you can turn them around and they begin to look alike. What I wanted to do was to slap these 3D letters flat.”
(24) JURASSIC APPETIZER. Here’s the teaser for the full trailer coming on Thursday –
Francis Hamit’s “based on a true story” screenplay for the forthcoming feature film CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE has won the prestigious Grand Jury Award at the Second Annual Sherman Oaks Film Festival held in November. This is the fourth major award for this unproduced screenplay. Previous wins were at the GO Independent International Film Festival in Washington DC, The New Renaissance Film Festival in London, England and the 2016 Hollywood Book Festival.
The well-researched script about the Elizabethan-ere poet, playwright and secret agent for the Crown is a classic tragedy about a brilliant man undone by his own fatal flaws in the form of a spy thriller.
Festival director Jeff Howard and Francis Hamit.
(26) TRAVELER FROM AN ANTIC LAND. Another testimony to TSA screening!
Got the row on the plane to myself again. Any implication that I strangled my row mate and stuffed their body into the luggage compartment to get it is ignoble.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock (who really has something in today’s Scroll), Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, Brian Z., Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Francis Hamit, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]