DisCon III Events Division Head Gadi Evron, as part of his temporary role coordinating between the Worldcon and Hugo finalists, sent an email to finalists today covering the changes in convention leadership and the con’s efforts to start making collaborative decisions with them.
Toward a great DisCon III experience
As you may have heard, DisCon III announced yesterday that Bill Lawhorn has resigned from his position as Convention Chair. We thank Bill for his hard work and dedication in bringing Worldcon to Washington, DC, and for his contributions to DisCon III. The Baltimore-Washington Area Worldcon Association (BWAWA) has begun the process of finding a permanent replacement. Until the position is filled, the DisCon III Division Heads and staff will continue with the business of the convention, including continuing to finalize plans for the Hugo Award Ceremony.
We are also pleased to announce that Linda Deneroff, the former WSFS Division head for Sasquan (the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention), the division that holds the responsibility for the Hugo Awards balloting, has graciously accepted the same position for DisCon III and will also lead the Hugo Administration team for the convention.
We are emailing you to share a plan for moving forward, and we would appreciate your input on it. But first, we’d like to answer a few of the more urgent inquiries we received from you:
As noted in our last email, the four-person limit has been rescinded and all Finalists and their plus ones are welcome at the Reception and Ceremony.
Day passes will be provided at no cost to Finalists and their plus ones for the entire day of the Reception and Ceremony. If you cannot attend in person, we will be glad to have you attend virtually.
Finalists will be able to participate in the Hugo Ceremony remotely.
DisCon III has a virtual membership option. There will be virtual panels and other participatory online program items, as well as livestreams of several program rooms at the hotel. We will be running online program items for every time zone around the world, and online panels and presentations will be recorded for later access. One function room at the hotel will be dedicated to showing online program items, including overnight, for those at the hotel who do not have computers.
An FAQ about the program will be posted on the website this week and will cover both in-person and online program questions. The program team will be holding two open forums through Zoom on July 10th and July 11th, accommodating people in various time zones.
DisCon III will be reaching out to you shortly with an attendance survey. Further, we’ll be setting up town hall meetings (also accommodating people in various time zones) to discuss issues directly with you. We will come with some ideas that reflect what we’ve already heard from you, but mostly with open ears to listen to what you have to say so that we can make informed, collaborative decisions.
To run a Worldcon you need to have the internal passion and the faith of your team. At this point, I have neither. Reflecting over the last several months I have been working towards January 2022 and not the convention dates themselves.
Colette [Fozard]’s resignation hit me much harder than I have ever admitted. Were we perfect together? No, but it worked even when I got stubborn. I miss her.
The need to remove Toni Weisskopf sapped a lot of my passion as I saw her GOH position as a chance to heal fannish fractures going back several years. I nearly walked away then. But there was still passion and things I wanted to be sure were done, so I continued. Maybe I shouldn’t have. With so many issues still in the air, I couldn’t put that burden on someone else.
We cleared up a bunch of them. I thank Randall Shepherd and Patty Wells for stepping up to work with me as we tried to get resolution with the Wardman Park. John Pomeranz was critical in reaching resolution. The team did a great job with the shift to December.
Special note: Without Sharon Sbarsky much would not have been accomplished over the past year. You were my rock.
The challenge of not knowing dates and location or even format were a problem. I have great faith that Lisa and her team will put together a stellar program for all to see, it was a joy to plan with you. Covid-19 is still real and even the vaccination progress creates doubt. Work with MSS. If you know people who can help in some of his vacancies, ask for their help.
Lots of stuff I’ll skip at this point. But… Last week, when I was tired, I reviewed a letter. I got focused on my personal issue and missed a big picture one. I am sorry for approving that letter. In discussions, I got frustrated and angry. It was not the mark of a good leader.
Could I continue even with all the headwinds, probably. But I find myself relieved to not. After 15 months of constant worry, it is enough. Will I miss some of the interactions? Yes. Will my wife be happy to have a bunch of floor space back? A bigger YES.
The BWAWA Board will now be making a decision. Although I have not consulted him. I think John Pomeranz, (I am sorry John), is best positioned to lead DisCon III forward. He has a wealth of experience and knowledge. I just hope he has the passion to pick up the pieces.
To the rest of the staff, help Rivka and Bobbi help you. Share your information with them. Please do not resign, take a week and breathe or go for a walk or several. Make sure to create the best experience for our members as you can. Will it be what we dreamed? No, but it can still be something special. A true December to Remember.
Please work with Randy and Patty during the transition to the new leadership team. I will be at the convention, hopefully recovered. I expect to do some therapy with Helen Montgomery if she is willing to continue talking.
A few parting requests:
I hope that the events team will continue to move forward with the Thursday evening Hugo Finalist Reception with all DisCon III members. A chance to honor both the finalists from 2020 and 2021 and have them interact.
Second, early in June I authorized the transfer of $10,000 of the received passalong funds to be dedicated to the Capitalize! Fan Fund. Please honor that commitment so even more marginalized fans can attend either in person or virtually. If the FIYAH staff request funds, please be generous.
Third, I have the base material to be used for the pin back for the Hugo pins. I hope that someone will carry on with the project to make sure all of the finalists get a little piece of the base.
Finally, please make sure Bob Silverberg gets his virtual panel so he can continue his streak of attendance.
I’ll leave you, as I resign, with a life poem Linda Addison shared with me when I was struggling in February, “U are stronger than U know / your strength increases light / in your world & the World…” Her words are so powerful and you can be too.
— Bill Lawhorn Former Chair DisCon III
DisCon III Events Division Head Gadi Evron responded with these valedictory comments:
Bill has played an instrumental part in bringing Worldcon back to DC. He never signed up to be a solo chair of a Worldcon — and as the saying goes, “Friends don’t let friends chair Worldcons” — but he stepped up when he was needed. He led us through a difficult Covid year, a co-chair leaving, our venue, the Wardman Park going bankrupt, and more. Did I always agree with him? Of course not. Were there issues? Yep. Even very strong disagreements that at times strained our friendship. He is a good man who put Worldcon first, and I am thankful for him bringing us this far. He deserves our thanks, and our respect.
A Zoom meeting between several 2021 Hugo finalists and DisCon III committee representatives Gadi Evron and Randall Shepherd, facilitated by Mary Robinette Kowal, took place June 23. Evron is the Events division head responsible for the Hugo Ceremony and reception. Evron has temporarily stepped in to maintain communications until the new Hugo administration team is in place.
The meeting reportedly resulted in progress in dealing with the issues that triggered the resignation of DisCon III’s Hugo administration team and have been the focus of heated comments on social media. After the meeting, Evron emailed this message to the 2021 finalists. Among other things, it retracts the four-person limit stated in the committee’s previous message:
To our 2021 Finalists: An apology and request for communication
I’m Gadi Evron, the head of Events, the division which is in charge of the Hugo Ceremony and Reception for DisCon III.
You may have heard that the DisCon III Hugo Administration team has resigned. I am sorry to confirm this is true. Their contributions to making the Hugo Awards a success can’t be overstated. They are amazing people, and we can only thank them for all their help. We will update you as we recruit a new team.
Last week we sent a communication to you regarding Ceremony and Reception issues. Instead of coming to you, we made a decision on our own. We should have asked for your input as we said we would. This was a mistake, and we apologize. We know this isn’t the first time, but we sincerely hope it will be the last.
As you may be aware there are serious space constraints this year, but we have decided to prioritize the attendance of the Finalists and will make space for all Finalists and their plus ones who wish to attend. There will be no four person limit.
The DisCon III ConCom will be meeting this weekend. Discussion of the communication issues with Hugo Finalists is on the agenda. We would like to include any additional concerns you have, Please respond by emailing email@example.com (CC:’d) to have them added.
Following the meeting we will contact you regarding your participation and attendance. We will also invite you to meet with us so that we can discuss these issues directly. As part of this conversation, we will create a plan for better communication and collaboration moving forward.
We look forward to celebrating the Hugo Awards and honoring your work in December.
File 770 was told yesterday’s meeting was positive, but the DisCon III representatives know they have a limited time to follow up with action.
…Saying that, there’s one other author I cannot end this speech without thanking. It’s a little gauche, but I hope they’re listening.
Because my story, “Open House on Haunted Hill,” was rejected several times before Diabolical Plots gave it a chance. And in my career my various stories were rejected over 800 times before I won this award tonight. And that’s why I hope this author is listening.
You, who think you’re not a good enough writer because you don’t write like someone else.
You, who haven’t finished a draft because your project seems too quirky or too daunting.
You, who are dispirited after eating so many rejection emails.
You, who are going to write the things that will make me glad I’m alive to read them.
What the field needs is for you to be different, and to be true to your imagination….
Do you make a conscious effort to include LGBTQ material in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
Because my life as a lesbian/feminist of colour is my context I don’t have to remind myself to include Queer material. That’s where I begin. There are, of course, other types of characters in my writing but my experience is centralised. I have a Queer social and political circle and they are easily represented in my work. For so long women, lesbians and people of colour were told our stories weren’t important, other (white) people wouldn’t be interested in them. Now we know that was just another way to dominate our experience. I long for the day that non-Queer writers and non-Black writers feel sensitive enough to do the research and include authentic characters in their work who don’t look like them.
How does the old saying go? “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” It’s often true that the first encounter has an ineradicable effect, whether the meeting is with a person, a work of art, or a world. It’s certainly true in my case; I had my first and, in some ways, most decisive encounter with Middle-earth before I ever read a word of The Lord of the Rings. My first view of that magical place came through the paintings of Tim Kirk, in the 1975 J.R.R. Tolkien Calendar, and that gorgeous, pastel-colored vision of the Shire and its environs is the one that has stayed with me. Almost half a century later, Kirk’s interpretation still lies at the bottom of all my imaginings of Tolkien’s world.
(4) CASTING THE MCU. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with casting director Sarah Finn – “Maltin on Movies: Sarah Finn” Finn has cast every role in every film and TV series on Disney+ in the MCU, so she has a lot of inside knowledge. Among her goals is to find actors who enjoy playing superheroes and like working with each other. She also discusses why it was a gamble to cast Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man and why Vin Diesel was cast as Groot because of his voice work in The Iron Giant.
She also reveals Dwayne Johnson’s secret for success: he is genuinely a nice guy who even volunteered to do the dishes after a casting call!
Finn also discusses her work as casting director on The Mandalorian and her work for Oliver Stone, including the gamble of having Eli Wallach play a substantial role at age 95 on Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
(7) GRANTS AVAILABLE. The Ladies of Horror Fiction review site are offering nine 2021 LOHF Writers Grants. Applications must be submitted by August 31.
Nine recipients will receive the LOHF Writers Grant in the amount of $100. The Ladies of Horror Fiction team will announce the recipients of the LOHF Writers Grant on September 15, 2021.
The LOHF Writers Grant is inclusive to all women (cis and trans) and non-binary femmes who have reasonably demonstrated a commitment to writing in the horror genre. All grant provided funds must be used in a manner that will help develop the applicant’s career.
The grants are funded by Steve Stred, Laurel Hightower, Ben Walker, S.H. Cooper, Sonora Taylor, and several anonymous donors.
(8) TEN FOR THE PRICE OF FIVE. Two entries from James Davis Nicoll from the pages of Tor.com:
Science fiction and fantasy are rich in characters who deserve (and sometimes find) rewarding personal relationships. There are also characters that other characters should never, ever date. Ever. Here are five fictional characters from whom all prospective love interests should run screaming…
Few calamities sting like being driven from the land one once called home. Exile is therefore a rich source of plots for authors seeking some dramatic event to motivate their characters. You might want to consider the following five books, each of which features protagonists (not all of them human) forced to leave their homes….
…Unlike the two previous stories, “The God in the Bowl” remained unpublished during Howard’s lifetime and appeared for the first time in the September 1952 issue of the short-lived magazine Space Science Fiction. Why on Earth editor Lester del Rey decided that a Conan story was a good fit for a magazine that otherwise published such Astounding stalwarts as George O. Smith, Clifford D. Simak and Murray Leinster will probably forever remain a mystery.
As for why I decided to review this particular Conan story rather than some of the better known adventures of our favourite Cimmerian adventurer (which I may eventually do), part of the reason is that the story just came up in a conversation I had with Bobby Derie on Twitter. Besides, I have been reading my way through the Del Rey Robert E. Howard editions of late and realised that there are a lot of layers to those stories that I missed when I read them the first time around as a teenager.
Three Worldcon insiders, Tammy Coxen, Nicholas Whyte, and Vincent Docherty will join Gadi and Karen to discuss the Hugo, Astounding, and Lodestar awards, their history, and current trends.
Like last year, we will be interviewing category nominees in the next few months, with this show as the opening segment.
(11) GAME WRITING ARCHIVE. Eatonverse tweets highlights of the UC Riverside’s Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Today’s rarity is from Marc Laidlaw —
(12) HERE THEY COME AGAIN. Those pesky aliens.Invasion launches on October 22 on Apple TV+.
(13) MEMORY LANE.
1971 — Fifty years ago at Noreascon 1 which had Robert Silverberg as its Toastmaster, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction won the Hugo for Best Professional Magazine. It was its third such Hugo win in a row, and seventh to that date.
(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 9, 1911 – J. Francis McComas. With Raymond Healy (1907-1997) edited the pioneering and still excellent anthology Adventures in Time and Space – and got Random House to publish it. Thus although not having planted the crops, he knew to harvest: they also serve who only sit and edit. With Anthony Boucher (1911-1969) founded The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, the best thing to happen among us since Astounding. Half a dozen stories of his own. Afterward his widow Annette (1911-1994) edited The Eureka Years; see it too. (Died 1978) [JH]
Born June 9, 1925 – Leo R. Summers. Twenty covers for Fantastic, eight for Amazing, six for Analog; six hundred interiors. Here is a Fantastic cover; here is one for Analog; here is an interior for H.B. Fyfe’s “Star Chamber” from Amazing. A fruitful career. (Died 1985) [JH]
Born June 9, 1925 — Keith Laumer. I remember his Bolo series fondly and read quite a bit of it. Can’t say which novels at this point though Bolo definitely and Last Command almost certainly. The Imperium and Retief series were also very enjoyable though the latter is the only one I’d re-read at this point. The usual suspects have decent though not complete ebooks listings for him, heavy on the Imperium and Retief series and they’ve just added a decent Bolo collection too. (Died 1993.) (CE)
Born June 9, 1930 — Lin Carter. He is best known for his work in the 1970s as editor of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. As a writer, His first professional publication was the short story “Masters of the Metropolis”, co-written with Randall Garrett, in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1957. He would be a prolific writer, average as much as six novels a year. In addition, he was influential as a critic of the fantasy genre and an early historian of the genre. He wrote far too much for me to say I’ve sampled everything he did but I’m fond of his Castillo, Great Imperium and Zarkon series. All great popcorn literature! (Died 1988.) (CE)
Born June 9, 1931 – Joanie Winston. Vital spark of Star Trek fandom; co-founder of the first Trek convention, got Gene Roddenberry to attend; co-organized the next four; became a sought-after guest herself. Reported in The Making of the Trek Conventions, or How to Throw a Party for 12,000 of Your Most Intimate Friends, got it published by Doubleday and Playboy. Appreciation by OGH here. Quite capable of playing poker at a 200-fan relaxacon rather than bask in glory at a Trek megacon the same weekend. (Died 2008) [JH]
Born June 9, 1934 — Donald Duck, 87. He made his first appearance in “The Wise Little Hen” on June 9th, 1934. In this cartoon as voiced by Clarence Nash, Donald and his friend, Peter Pig (also voiced by Nash), lie their way out of helping the titular little hen tend to her corn. Donald Duck was the joint creation of Dick Lundy, Fred Spencer, Carl Barks, Jack King and Jack Hannah though Walt Disney often would like you to forget that. You can watch it here. (CE)
Born June 9, 1943 – Joe Haldeman, age 78. Two dozen novels, eighty shorter stories; ninety published poems. Seven Hugos, five Nebulas; three Rhyslings; Tiptree (as it then was); Skylark. Edited Nebula Awards 17. Pegasus Award for Best Space Opera Song. SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) Grand Master. Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Guest of Honor at – among others – Windycon I and 20, Disclave 21, Beneluxcon 7, ConFiction the 48th Worldcon. Wide range has its virtues; he’s told how one story sold at a penny a word and five years later was adapted for television at five times as much; also “I don’t have to say Uh-oh, I’d better get back to that novel again; I can always write a poem or something.” [JH]
Born June 9, 1954 — Gregory Maguire, 67. He is the author of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West based off of course the Oz Mythos, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister retelling the tale of Cinderella and Mirror, Mirror, a revisionist retelling of the Snow White tale which is really excellent. Well you get the idea. He’s damn good at this revisionist storytelling. (CE)
Born June 9, 1963 — David Koepp, 58. Screenwriter for some of the most successful SF films ever done: Jurassic Park (co-written with Michael Crichton), The Lost World: Jurassic Park,War of The Worlds and, yes, it made lots of money, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. He won a Hugo for Jurassic Park which won Best Dramatic Presentation at ConAdian. (CE)
Born June 9, 1966 – Christian McGuire, age 55. Co-chaired eight Loscons. Chaired Westercon 63, Conucopia the 7th NASFiC (N. Am. SF Con, held when the Worldcon is overseas), L.A.con IV the 64th Worldcon. A founder of Gallifrey One; chaired or co-chaired its first 12 years. Fan Guest of Honor at Baycon 2002, Westercon 51, Capricon 29, Loscon 36. Evans-Freehafer Award (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.; service). [JH]
Born June 9, 1967 – Dave McCarty, age 54. Chaired three Capricons. Chaired the 70th Worldcon, Chicon 7, which by our custom means the seventh Worldcon in the same town with continuity from the same community. No one else has managed this, or come close; the nearest have been Noreascon Four (62nd Worldcon), L.A.con IV (64th), and Aussiecon 4 (68th). Also served as Hugo Awards Administrator, and on the World SF Society’s Mark Protection Committee, two of our least conspicuous and most demanding tasks. Fan Guest of Honor at Windycon 28, Capricon 38. [JH]
Born June 9, 1981 — Natalie Portman, 40. Surprisingly her first genre role was as Taffy Dale in Mars Attacks!, not as Padme in The Phantom Menace. She’d repeat that role in Attack of The Clones and Revenge of The Sith. She’d next play Evey in V for Vendetta. And she played Jane Foster twice, first in Thor: The Dark World and then in Avengers: Endgame. She’ll reprise the role in Thor: Love and Thunder in which she’ll play both Jane Foster and Thor. That I’ve got to see. (CE)
The cast for the upcoming animated movie, DC League of Super-Pets, includes Dwayne Johnson as Krypto and Kevin Hart as Ace. The cast also features Kate McKinnon, John Krasinski, Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne, Diego Luna, and Keanu Reeves. The movie will be released May 20, 2022.
(16) LIGHTS ON LANGFORD. Cora Buhlert continues her Fanzine Spotlight by interviewing David Langford about his famed newzine: “Fanzine Spotlight: Ansible”.
Who are the people behind your site or zine?
In theory it’s just me. In practice I couldn’t keep going without all the correspondents who send obituaries, interesting news snippets, more obituaries, convention news, too many obituaries, and contributions to such regular departments as As Others See Us and Thog’s Masterclass. The first collects notably patronizing or ignorant comments on the SF genre from the mainstream media, with special attention to authors who write science fiction but prefer to pretend they don’t (Margaret Atwood once explained that SF was “talking squids in outer space” and since she didn’t write /that/ she had to be innocent of SF contamination). Thog’s Masterclass is for embarrassingly or comically bad sentences in published fiction, not always SF — as well as the usual genre suspects, the Masterclass has showcased such luminaries as Agatha Christie, Vladimir Nabokov and Sean Penn.
…Scheduled for May 17, 1966, Gemini 9 was supposed to be the first real all-up test of the two-seat spacecraft. Astronauts Tom Stafford (veteran of Gemini 6) and Gene Cernan would dock with an Agena and conduct a spacewalk. If successful, this would demonstrate all of the techniques and training necessary for a trip to the Moon.
The first bit of bad luck involved the Agena docking adapter. Shortly after liftoff on the 17th, one of the booster engines gimballed off center and propelled rocket and Agena into the Atlantic ocean. The two astronauts, bolted into their Gemini capsule for a launch intended for just a few minutes after, had to abort their mission.
Luckily, NASA had a back-up: the Augmented Target Docking Adapter (ADTA). The ADTA was basically an Agena without the engine. A Gemini could practice docking with it, but the ADTA can’t be used as an orbital booster for practice of the manuever that Apollo will employ when it breaks orbit to head for the Moon.
ADTA went up on June 1, no problem. But just seconds before launch, the Gemini 9 computer refused navigational updates from the Cape. The launch window was missed, and once again, Tom and Gene were forced to scrub. Stafford got the nickname “Prince of the Pad.”…
When I heard that the Swedish Chef from “The Muppet Show” was opening a Chelsea location of his celebrated bistro, Dorg Schnorfblorp Horganblorps, I was skeptical. I’m always hesitant to believe the hype surrounding celebrity chefs, especially when they’re made of felt. While the city was abuzz, calling Mr. Muppet the new Jean-Georges Vongerichten, I was certain that this newcomer was nothing more than a passing fad, a Swedish Salt Bae. But, after such a tough year for restaurants, I was curious about how this mustachioed madman’s gimmick had sustained its popularity. Eventually, I decided that I had to go see for myself—could the Swedish Chef’s bites ever live up to his bark, or bork?
Dorg Schnorfblorp Horganblorps has been open for only three months but already has a wait list that extends to the end of the year. I was amazed that anyone could get a reservation at all, considering that the restaurant’s Web site contains no helpful links or information, only a gif of a turkey being chased by the chef wielding a tennis racquet, captioned, “Birdy gerdy floopin.”…
It sounds like the plot from a cheese science fiction movie: Scientists unearth something that’s been buried in the frozen ground of the Arctic for tens of thousands of years and decide to warm it up a bit. The creature stirs as its cells slowly wake up from their long stasis. As time passes, the animal wakes up, having time-traveled 24,000 years thanks to its body’s ability to shut itself down once temperatures reached a certain low. It sounds too incredible to be true, but it is.
In a new paper published in Current Biology, researchers reveal their discovery of a microscopic animal frozen in the Arctic permafrost for an estimated 24,000 years. The creature, which would have lived in water during its previous life, was revived as the soil thawed. The discovery is incredibly important not just for the ongoing study of creatures found frozen in time here on Earth.
The tiny creature is called a bdelloid rotifer. These multicellular animals live in aquatic environments and have a reputation for being particularly hardy when it comes to frigid temperatures. They are obviously capable of surviving the process of being frozen and then thawed, and they’re not the only tiny animal to have this ability….
AS TOM BROWN LEADS A pair of young, aspiring homesteaders through his home apple orchard in Clemmons, North Carolina, he gestures at clusters of maturing trees. A retired chemical engineer, the 79 year old lists varieties and pauses to tell occasional stories. Unfamiliar names such as Black Winesap, Candy Stripe, Royal Lemon, Rabun Bald, Yellow Bellflower, and Night Dropper pair with tales that seem plucked from pomological lore.
Take the Junaluska apple. Legend has it the variety was standardized by Cherokee Indians in the Smoky Mountains more than two centuries ago and named after its greatest patron, an early-19th-century chief. Old-time orchardists say the apple was once a Southern favorite, but disappeared around 1900. Brown started hunting for it in 2001 after discovering references in an Antebellum-era orchard catalog from Franklin, North Carolina….
From a calm socialite, she morphed into an unhinged puppy kidnapper and then a vindictive glamourpuss. Why don’t we hate her?
And for dessert, here’s a Cruella parody video.
(22) CAN YOU MAKE A WALL OF TEXT? The Lego Typewriter has some moving parts that simulate a real typewriter but, no, you can’t produce copy with it. At the link is a video of the assembled 2000+ piece project.
(23) BREAKING INTO THE MCU. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Marvel Character Tutorial” on Screen Rant, Ryan George plays Marvel screenwriter “Richard Lambo,” who says if you are trying to sell a screenplay to Marvel, make sure he or she has plenty of abs (four will do, but a six-pack is best) and leave plenty of room for snark!
(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Returnal,” Fandom Games says that Sony’s new game puts you “in a Gigeresque sci-fi setting” where your goal is “to kill all the wildlife” in a game so depressing that Sony should “just throw away the game and have someone come over and kick you in the scrotum” to achieve the same painful effect. (Or “slamming your face into a brick wall” is mentioned at another place, if the first option isn’t available.)
[Thanks to John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, James Davis Nicoll, Daniel Dern, Gadi Evron, Cora Buhlert, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]
Dragons, demons, kings, queens, and the occasional farm boy (with a special destiny, of course): Fantasy literature has it all! To celebrate our favorite fictional worlds and characters, we went on a quest for the 100 most popular fantasies of all time on Goodreads, as determined by your fellow members.
Of course, as fantasy readers know, the journey itself matters just as much as the destination. To create our list, we first sought out the most reviewed books on our site. Additionally, each title needed at least a 3.5-star rating to join our fellowship of titles. And, since fantasy is known for its epic sagas, in the case of multiple titles from the same series we chose the one with the most reviews.
Here are the top fantasy books on Goodreads, listed from 1 to 100.
(2) VIRTUAL SPACE AND SFFCON. CosmoQuest, a citizen science research organization, is holding a virtual con Friday, July 17 through Sunday, July 19 focused on space and science fiction. CosmoQuest-a-Con’s main events are free to watch at https://www.twitch.tv/cosmoquestx, but you can also buy a $20 ticket for other space talks, author readings, concerts, and demos. The funds go to providing benefits to CosmoQuest’s part-time staff. The con’s home page is here.
(3) HARASSMENT REPORTED. Extreme horror author Tim Miller was called out as a harasser by M.M. Schill and others. Thread begins here. Miller’s social media is no longer available (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). His website remains online. (Note: It’s not the director of the same name.)
Schill also indicated this callout could be shared.
Sheree has more knowledge on the topic of the history of Afrofuturism than anyone we ever met, not to mention an incredible ability to bring it to life through nothing less than magic and wonder. Also coming on the show will be Andrea Hairston, Pan Morigan, and Danian Darrell Jerry. This Saturday, the 18th of July.
We will explore the magic of storytelling and music, and the power of community and art to affect personal and prophetic change.
Suppose for the moment that one is a science fiction or fantasy author, and further suppose that one wanted to posit a past great civilization whose existence comes as a complete surprise to modern folk. Let us also suppose that one wanted overlooking this lost civilization to be plausible… How might one go about this?
I’d tend to reject the “a secretive cabal always knew but kept it secret” explanation. People gossip. People love to show off their insider knowledge. People sometimes accidentally cut and paste entire sections of texts they’d really rather the world not know about into their tweets. Even valuable trade secrets tend to leak out given enough time. So where to hide a lost civilization? Here are five possibilities, to be used together or in concert….
(6) SOME TRUTH IS OUT THERE. “I recently discovered that—unlike in my twenties—at 46 years old I am able to spend innumerable hours watching The X-Files unassisted by marijuana.” “I don’t want to believe” at Affidavit.
… Over the last three months, two things have happened to me. Firstly, I’ve come to recognize my younger self in the character of Agent Fox Mulder, and feel shame appropriate to such an identification. Secondly, I’ve entered that most dangerous of all psychological terrain: nostalgia.
You reference Chekhov’s Gun, but adhere more scrupulously to the original quote than commonly seen: What’s your favorite advice to writers? Is there advice you commonly flout?
My favorite advice to writers is to wring the emotional reaction from yourself, first. When writing humor, you need to barely stand how witty you’re being; when you’re writing tragedy, you need to weep; when writing horror, you need to be appalled that this monstrous stuff is coming out of you. Hell, if you’re writing a thriller, you need to fear for your characters. Honestly, if you don’t react yourself, if it’s just a technical exercise, no one else is going to care either.
(9) GÖRG OBIT. Galyn Görg, a dancer and actress who appeared on such shows as Twin Peaks and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and in films including Point Break and RoboCop 2, has died of cancer at the age of 55.
… Görg starred as police detective Leora Maxwell on the 1994-95 Fox sci-fi drama M.A.N.T.I.S., co-created by Sam Raimi, and played Nancy O’Reilly, the sister of One Eyed Jacks madam Blackie O’Reilly (Victoria Catlin), on three episodes of ABC’s Twin Peaks in 1990.
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
July 16, 1955 — Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe serial first aired. This black-and-white movie serial from Republic Pictures, originally began life as a proposed syndicated television series. It was written by Ronald Davidson and Barry Shipman, and was directed by Harry Keller, Franklin Adreon and Fred C. Brannon. The cast was Judd Holdren as Commando Cody, Aline Towne as Joan Gilbert, William Schallert as Ted Richards and Richard Crane as Dick Preston . There would be twelve twenty five episodes. You can see the first episode, ‘Enemies of the Universe” here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 16, 1723 – Sir Joshua Reynolds. First President of the Royal Academy of Arts. Famed as a portraitist. Intellectual enough to keep company with Burke, Goldsmith, Johnson. Painting mythological subjects calls for fantasy: here is Juno Receiving the Cestus from Venus, here is Diana Disarming Cupid, here is Theory. (Died 1792) [JH]
Born July 16, 1882 — Felix Locher. He is considered the oldest Star Trek actor of all time by birth year, appearing in “The Deadly Years” episode. 0ther genre appearances included Curse of the Faceless Man, The Twilight Zone, Frankenstein’s Daughter, The Munsters, House of the Damned, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mission Impossible. His entire acting career was from 1957 to 1969. (Died 1969.) (CE)
Born July 16, 1916 – Paul Freehafer. Joined the SF League in 1934, thus part of First Fandom (active at least as early as the first Worldcon, 1939) although 1F was not organized, if the word may be used, until much later. So helpful to his local club the LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) that its service award is the Evans-Freehafer (after E. Everett Evans and PF). Fanzine, Polaris. More here. (Died 1944) [JH]
Born July 16, 1920 – Stan Woolston. Printer and fan. Life member of the Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n (N3F), edited Tightbeam, served on Welcommittee, earned the Kaymar. Lifelong friend of Len Moffatt (published SF Parade with him), Rick Sneary. Big Heart (our highest service award, community-wide). (Died 2001) [JH]
Born July 16, 1928 — Robert Sheckley. I knew that his short story “Seventh Victim” was the basis of The 10th Victim film but I hadn’t known ‘til now that Freejack was sort of based of his Immortality, Inc. novel. I’ve read a lot by him with Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming (written with Zelazny) and Babylon 5: A Call to Arms being my favorite works by him. Sheckley is very well stocked on the aKindle store but not in the iBook store. H’h. (Died 2005.) (CE)
Born July 16, 1943 – Bruce Boston, 77. Two novels; a hundred shorter stories in Amazing, Asimov’s, Realms of Fantasy, SF Age, Strange Horizons; poems dusting our skies like strange stars. Seven Rhyslings; Pushcart Prize; first Grand Master of the SF Poetry Ass’n. Has chaired the Nebula Award jury for novels, the Philip K. Dick Award jury. [JH]
Born July 16, 1951 – Sue Thomas, 69. Coined the term “technobiophilia” and wrote a book about it. Two novels; anthology Wild Women. Correspondent, reviewer, in Focus, Foundation, Matrix, Paperback Inferno, Vector. [JH]
Born July 16, 1951 — Esther Friesner, 69. She’s won the Nebula Awards for Best Short Story twice with “Death and the Librarian” and “A Birthday”. I’m particularly fond of The Sherwood Game and E.Godz which she did with Robert Asprin. She’s better stocked in the Kindle store than in the iBooks Store. (CE)
Born July 16, 1956 — Jerry Doyle. Now this one is depressing. Dead of acute alcoholism at sixty, his character Michael Garibaldi was portrayed as an alcoholic, sometimes recovering and sometimes not on Babylon 5. Damn. (Died 2016.) (CE)
Born July 16, 1963 — Phoebe Cates, 57. Ok, do her entire genre appearance credit is as Kate Beringer in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. It’s two films that I have an inordinate fondness for that the Suck Fairy cannot have any effect upon them what-so-ever. (CE)
Born July 16, 1967 — Will Ferrell, 53. His last film was Holmes & Watson in which he played Holmes. It won Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screen Combo and, my absolute favorite Award, Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel. Wow. He was also in Land of the Lost which, errrr, also got negative reviews. Elf however got a great response from viewers and critics alike. He also was in two of the Austin Powers films as well. (CE)
Born July 16, 1975 – Lucian Dragos Bogdan, 45. Author, caricaturist (the ”s” in his name should have a tiny comma under it for the sound English spells ”sh”). Likes rock music and the Tao Tê Ching (or, if you’d rather, Daodejing). A dozen novels, thirty short stories, in our field; also mystery & thriller, romance. Website in English, French, Romanian. [JH]
When people ask me if I like comic books I always have a split-second reaction. The answer is no. But it’s a nuanced no. I don’t like superhero comic books, but I grew up reading plenty of other stuff.
While in the United States “comic book” can be read as a synonym for “superhero,” such a correlation has not traditionally existed in Mexico. Mexican artists during their Golden Age were more interested in other kinds of content. This doesn’t mean there weren’t any superheroes—Fantomas, El Santo and Kalimán come to mind—but you were more likely to find other sorts of local comic books. And when people thought comic books, they probably thought historietas, monitos, una de vaqueros, all of which conjure something very far from Superman, Batman or the X-Men….
… “There has been never the slightest danger of running out of inspiration — Trump serves up a banquet of lies, obfuscation and cruelty almost daily,” says Trudeau, whose new material runs every Sunday. “Steve Allen once said that comedy is tragedy plus time, but in Trump’s case, the passage of time is wholly optional.”
… Back when this pandemic thing first began, several economic relief packages were floated as part of the CARES Act, including small business loans known as PPP (Payment Protection Program) loans. The loans were to help with payroll to keep people employed – with the loans forgivable if 60% of the money went to payroll.
… It’s also not anything to be ashamed of – applying for aid during an economic shutdown is a smart move to keep people on the payroll and keep companies afloat, and it’s good that these comics companies were able to receive aid.
Now, we did hear that many actual small businesses, including comics shops, had a harder time getting loans, and there are lots of stories about billionaires getting payouts, from Kanye West to Soho House. And of course there was fraud, like using PPP money to pay for a new house in the case of the CEO of Wendy’s. Nice one!
…“I’m sure you’ve heard this a lot over the last couple of the days, but let me be the next one to tell you: Pal, you’re a hero,” Evans said. “What you did was so brave, so selfless, your sister is so lucky to have you as a big brother. Your parents must be so proud of you.”
The world’s best hot dog eaters could outeat a grizzly bear or a coyote, but would fall far behind a wolf or a Burmese python, a new study finds.
Over the Fourth of July weekend, with streams of sweat pouring down his face, Joey Chestnut broke his own world record for hot dog eating, by downing 75 hot dogs (with buns) in 10 minutes at the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. It was his 13th win at the annual contest. And Miki Sudo set a women’s record, 48.5 hot dogs, to grab her seventh straight Nathan’s win.
Because of the coronavirus crisis, the event was held virtually this year, and Dr. James Smoliga was glued to his screen, rooting for new records. For the past few months, Dr. Smoliga, a veterinarian and exercise scientist, had been working on a mathematical analysis of the maximum number of hot dogs that a human could theoretically consume in 10 minutes.
“The answer is 83,” said Dr. Smoliga, a professor at High Point University in North Carolina.
He has now published the full analysis, which calculated this number based on 39 years of historical data from the Nathan’s contest, as well as on mathematical models of human performance that consider the potential for extreme athletic feats.
“It’s a great paper,” said Dr. Michael Joyner, a physician at the Mayo Clinic who studies human performance, adding that the analysis shows the classic fast rise in performance followed by more gradual improvements that happen when an event becomes professionalized. The best part, he said, is that Dr. Smoliga wrote it with a straight face.
… When she began tackling the material, she adds, her identity as an African American woman informed nearly every decision she made. “The things that I influenced, that I noticed, that I corrected, that I amplified, absolutely come from a black female lens,” she says firmly. Although she was thrilled with Rucka’s original script, she asked him to flesh out Nile’s backstory, adding layers having to do with her family and experience in the military (where, not incidentally, her colleagues are women of color, much like the institution itself). Even the film’s many fight scenes bear the signature of someone who is coming from a different angle than the usual white male gaze. One in particular, between Andy and Nile on a cargo plane, was particularly sensitive for Prince-Bythewood.
I was eight years old when Lois Lowry’s The Giver was released in 1993, and it became an instant turning point for me, not only for my relationship to books in general, but to science fiction in particular. Anti-authority narratives for children are extremely common—it’s pretty much the basis for all of Nickelodeon’s marketing—but narratives for young children tend to have cartoonishly evil authority figures who are obviously in the wrong. The Giver, in contrast, presents us with what appears to be a utopia, challenging the young reader with a simple, comforting authority structure that over the course of the narrative the protagonist Jonah learns not only has sapped his community’s members of their humanity, but does monstrous things in its bid to maintain control.
One of the main hallmarks of science fiction is the use of social constructs, technologies, and futures that do not yet exist—and may never exist—as a means of exploring our present. In the case of The Giver, it was the first book I read that used science fiction to create (to an eight year old, anyway) mind-blowing revelations about the nature of society and the individual’s relationship to it. The Giver is one of those books that serves as a perfect gateway for children who are just beginning to learn that change is inevitable, that well-meaning people can be wrong, and that solutions to problems are not always obvious. …
(23) LEFANU ON TV. “Carmilla–Official UK Trailer” on YouTube is a trailer for a “reimagined” version of J.S. LeFanu’s great horror novella which is now being streamed in the U.S.
Isolated from the outside world, fifteen-year-old Lara (Hannah Rae, “Broadchurch”, Fighting with My Family) lives in seclusion on a vast country estate with her father and strict governess Miss Fontaine (Jessica Raine, “Patrick Melrose”, “Jericho”). Late one evening, a mysterious carriage crash brings a young girl (Devrim Lingnau) into their home to recuperate. Lara immediately becomes enchanted by this strange visitor who arouses her curiosity and awakens her burgeoning desires.
[Thanks to Stephen Granade, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Lise Andreasen, Joey Eschrich, Michael Toman, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]
(1) GLORIOUS. Benford and Niven’s third and final book in their Bowl of Heaven series is out, and they’ll be doing a Powell’s Books Zoom event on June 30, 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register here.
Written by acclaimed, multi-award-winning authors, Gregory Benford (Timescape) and Larry Niven’s (Ringworld), GLORIOUS (Tor Books) concludes the Bowl of Heaven series praised by Booklist as “a solid adventure and entertaining speculation on the lives of alien creatures.”
In the journey that began with the New York Times bestseller, Bowl of Heaven and its sequel, Shipstar, audacious astronauts encounter bizarre, sometimes deadly life forms, and strange, exotic, cosmic phenomena, including miniature black holes, dense fields of interstellar plasma, powerful gravity-emitters, and spectacularly massive space-based, alien-built labyrinths. The alien civilization is far more advanced than our own, and difficult for our astronauts to comprehend. The astronauts must explore and document this brave, new, highly dangerous world, while also dealing with their own personal triumphs and conflicts — their loves and jealousies, joys and disappointments.
Benford and Niven are masters of the science fiction genre and a sci-fi power duo. Together they have combined their talents and expertise to create an unforgettable series for science-fiction fans everywhere.
… Alas, my plan to sort and cull my thousands of books — described last week in my Zippy Shell column — failed to make allowance for human nature. For even as I was straining my back by carrying boxes up the stairs to donate or sell to the noble used book dealers of Washington, come bedtime I would go online to take a quick peek at the current offerings from L.W. Currey, John W. Knott, Richard Dalby’s Library, Type Punch Matrix, Wonder Book and Video or Capitol Hill Books. It didn’t matter that I ached like a stevedore at the end of a double shift. During daylight hours, the world applauded a crusading Dr. Jekyll energetically focused on discarding and recycling printed matter, but once night fell Mr. Hyde would emerge and, while fiendishly cackling, type arcane titles into the search engines of viaLibri, eBay and Addall. Typically, when a friend recently recommended H.B. Marriott Watson’s “The Adventurers” (1898), there was suddenly nothing I wanted more in the world than a copy of this forgotten piece of swashbuckling Victoriana….
(3) GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. UK publication Infinity Magazine subsequently deleted the public post screencapped below.
(4) GENESIS. Although Mark Lawrence takes J.K. Rowling and Ursula Le Guin as texts, more than anything his post “Influence” is a warning to readers who want to infer the source of a writer’s ideas based on similarities to other works.
While lockdown may have provided us with the chance to catch up on some old movies, there’s only so many you can watch before you crave something new.
Well, fear not, because around the world some of the big-hitters are starting to re-commence production – which was of course halted by Covid-19 – in a variety of socially-distanced ways.
Here are just six of the films to keep your fingers crossed for then in 2021, when the cinemas are hopefully back in business.
The long-awaited sequel to James Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi blockbuster was able to re-start filming in New Zealand this week, because the country is almost coronavirus free.
Cameron and producer Jon Landau told the press Down Under that part two of the planned five-part film series; rumoured to be called The Way of Water (oh yeah, it’s set under water this time, by the way) would bring hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars back into the country following the pandemic.
Landau shared a photo on Instagram earlier this week as the production got under way.
It will also bring some more big names including Kate Winslet and Vin Diesel to add to returning original stars Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Sam Worthington.
Avatar 2, which is intended to work as a standalone feature (you won’t need to have seen the first one, in other words), will focus on the children of Sully and Neytiri, who are by now leaders of their clan.
The film is now slated for a December 2021 release, with film five in the diary already for 2027 – for those of you who like to plan ahead.
…But, you only have a limited time—This offer will only be available Friday June 19 through Sunday June 21. You have 3 days to watch the debut season, which is a total of 9 episodes. Since everyone should be binging experts by now, that’s light work!
…In addition to its groundbreaking portrayal of the Tulsa Race Massacre, Watchmen is a must-watch due to its timely thesis on white supremacy. In fact, it’s worth a revisit or two to truly reflect on its themes in a critical way. I certainly plan to revisit it.
So go ahead and watch Watchmen and discuss the episodes thoroughly. View the show for free online via HBO.com and via On Demand.
Nibedita Sen, Fran Wilde, Alix E. Harrow, SL Huang, and Shiv Ramdas will join Karen Castelletti to discuss their nominations for Best Short Story.
That panel will be followed by “A Mini Show With Lior Manor, Mentalist.”
Then, at 4:40p.m. Eastern will follow a “Panel Discussion With Hugo Awards Finalists in the Best Editor Short Form Category” —
Ellen Datlow, Lynne Thomas, Neil Clarke, Lynne M Thomas, and Michael Thomas will join Gadi to discuss their nomination and work.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 1971 — Larry Niven’s All the Myriad Ways, his third collection, was published by Ballantine Books. Costing $.95 and having 181 pages, it included a number of stories of interest such as the first Gil the ARM story, “The Jigsaw Man”, “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex” and “What Can You Say About Chocolate Covered Manhole Covers?“. It is currently available from all the usual digital suspects.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 18, 1862 – Carolyn Wells. A hundred seventy books, many for children, many more mystery fiction, also poetry, plays.For us, Folly in Fairyland – reprinted 2016 – no, not that, “Folly” is a nickname for Florinda; anyway, see here. And here is A-L of her Animal Alphabet; when you look at the rest of this Ink-Slinger’s Profile you’ll recognize Mark Twain, but you should know Skippy was a popular 1923-1945 comic strip. There’s more, but I’ll stop now. (Died 1942) [JH]
Born June 18, 1889 – Elisabeth Holding. More mystery fiction; no less than Tony Boucher applauded its “subtlety, realistic conviction, incredible economy”. For us, he praised Miss Kelly too, about a cat who learns to speak with humans: “one of those too-rare juvenile fantasies with delightful appeal to the adult connoisseur.” We can also claim three shorter stories, translated into Dutch, French, Italian. (Died 1955) [JH]
Born June 18, 1908 — Bud Collyer. So far as genre is concerned, he’s best-remembered from radio, starring in the dual role of Clark Kent and Superman beginning in early 1940 on The Adventures of Superman on the Mutual Broadcasting System, a role he also would do in the later Superman and other cartoons such as Aquaman and the Batman/Superman Hour. He was posthumously named as one of the honorees by DC Comics in the company’s 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great. (Died 1969.) (CE)
Born June 18, 1917 — Richard Boone. He did only two genre roles, one of which — playing Maston Thrust Jr. in The Last Dinosaur — I’m willing to bet you’ve never seen. The other however is one that nearly everyone here has heard, yes, heard, as he voiced Smaug in the Rankin/Bass animated The Hobbit. (Died 1981.) (CE)
Born June 18, 1926 – Allan Sandage, Ph.D. Important next-door neighbor: an astronomer, possibly a great one. Regarded for thirty years as the pre-eminent observational cosmologist. Published two atlases of galaxies; five hundred papers. Warner, Crafoord, Gruber Prizes; Eddington, Cresson, Bruce Medals; Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. See here. (Died 2010) [JH]
Born June 18, 1931 — Dick Spelman. A fan and a legendary book dealer who was active at SF conventions from the late Seventies through the early Nineties. He chaired Windycon IX in 1982. He was a member of the board of directors of Chicon IV, and ran the Dealers’ Room at many Worldcons. In 1991 he sold his book business to Larry Smith and retired to Orlando, where he was active in local fannish affairs. (Died 2012.) (CE)
Born June 18, 1942 — Roger Ebert. He got his start as a fanzine writer while in high school, publishing the Stymie zine and having his writing appear in Xero, Yandro and many other zines such as Kipple, Parsection and Psi-Phi. In university, he was a member of the Champaign-Urbana Science Fiction Association. His fannish autobiography is How Propellor-Heads, BNFs, Sercon Geeks, Newbies, Recovering GAFIAtors and Kids in Basements Invented the World Wide Web, All Except for the Delivery System. Mike has much to say about him here. (Died 2013.) (CE)
Born June 18, 1942 – Redmond Simonsen. Game designer; indeed credited with coining that phrase, and “physical system design”. Founding editor of Ares magazine. Charles Roberts Awards Hall of Fame. King of Clubs in Flying Buffalo’s 2008 Origins Poker Deck. (Died 2005) [JH]
Born June 18, 1947 — Linda Thorson, 73. Though Diana Rigg as Emma Peel was John Steed’s best-known partner on The Avengers, she was not his first nor his last. His last one would be Tara King played by this actress. She was the only one to be a real spy. Interesting that other than an appearance on Tales from The Darkside, her only other genre performance was on The Next Gen as Gul Ocett in “The Chase” episode”. (CE)
Born June 18, 1949 — Chris Van Allsburg, 71. For some twenty years now, the local Narrow Gauge Railroad has ran a Polar Express every Christmas season compete with cars decorated in high Victorian fashion and steaming cups of hot chocolate. It always sells out for the entire month. Allsburg‘s Polar Express book is just magical for me and I enjoy his Jumanji every bit as much. He illustrated A City in Winter which was written by Mark Helprin — highly recommended. (CE)
Born June 18, 1951 – Vivian Vande Velde 69. Fiction for children and young adults. Two dozen novels, five dozen shorter stories. Edgar Award for Never Trust a Dead Man, also School Library Journal Book of the Year. Anne Spencer Lindbergh Prize. Paterson Prize. “When our daughter was born, I quit my job…. Since I was home all day, I had to either take housework more seriously or come up with a good excuse why I couldn’t…. Writing turned out to be harder work than I thought…. getting published was even harder…. 32 different publishers … before number 33 said yes.” [JH]
Born June 18, 1971 – Sarah Hines Stephens 49. Two Wonder Woman stories, here’s one; two about a girl (I mean really a girl, she’s in 6th Grade) whose study of insects grosses out her friends, but then invaders invade and she develops insectile powers (not all insects are bugs, but I can’t help that, the title wouldn’t have been as cool if it had been Bugged Girl); four dozen in all, some with co-authors, some re-tellings, some non-fiction. [JH]
(12) TERRAN PRIZE. George R.R. Martin announced that Maurice Haeems will receive the scholarship he funds to bring a writer to the Taos Toolbox: “Haeems Wins Terran Prize”.
…With that in mind, back in 2018 I established THE TERRAN PRIZE, to bring an aspiring SF writer from abroad to the Taos Toolbox, the graduate level writing workshop that Walter Jon Williams runs every summer in the mountains of northern New Mexico. The Prize is given annually and covers all tuition and fees to the Toolbox (but not travel).
…Maurice was born in Mumbai and has a bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the University of Mumbai and an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Over the last 30 years, he has lived in Mumbai, London, Hong Kong, Taipei, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Dubai while pursuing professional careers in mechanical engineering, investment banking, and software entrepreneurship.
… In addition to probing for signs of ancient life on and below the Martian surface, the Perseverance mission would also take to the skies. The Ingenuity helicopter would attempt to fly — an exceedingly difficult task given that the “atmosphere on Mars is only one percent the density that we have here on Earth,” Wallace said. “Trying to control a system like this under those conditions is not easy.”
NASA said it hopes to get at least three flights from the helicopter, but it stressed that it was purely a technology demonstration mission and that it would take each one as they come.
(14) DAY LATE AND A DOLLAR SHORT. Count on Jon Del Arroz to bring you yesterday’s 770 content today!
…Bradbury wrote and narrated Hanna-Barbera’s 1993 feature-length animated version of the novel for television, for which he won the 1994 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program.
…The 8-page concept pitch, entitled “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” was conceived by producer Greg Strangis (War of the Worlds, Falcon Crest) over the summer of 1986 and is set during a 10-year war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. It tells the story of the U.S.S. Odyssey, a ship ferrying a group of cadets on their first deep space assignment and tasked with delivering a document to Organia that could ultimately change the course of the war.
While some of the ideas in this concept can be seen in what ultimately became Star Trek: The Next Generation (such as a young Klingon officer as part of the crew), this original pitch bears little resemblance to the show that went on to have seven successful seasons. One of the more creative ideas was how the original captain dies in the pilot, but “continues to ‘live’ in the ship’s computer” as a hologram who can be summoned for advice….
So would this character have turned into the Emergency Holographic Captain?
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, John Hertz, Jeffrey Smith, Will R., Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Steve Wagner, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
(1) THE CITY WITH TWO NAMES TWICE. N. K. Jemisin will join W. Kamau Bell, host of CNN series United Shades of America (and her cousin) on June 16 for a discussion of sci-fi, Afrofuturism, and her most recent novel The City We Became. The event is hosted by the New York Public Library. Hyperallergic has the story: “A POC-Centered Vision of NYC From NK Jemisin, Celebrated Sci-Fi Author”.
…Next Tuesday (June 16), Jemisin will join comedian W. Kamau Bell for a discussion of sci-fi, Afrofuturism, and her most recent novel, The City We Became, presented by the New York Public Library. The novel, which brings her unique brand of speculative fiction a little closer to earth, is set in a version of New York City where the future is threatened by an ancient evil that seeks to divide and destroy its community by capitalizing on its differences (sound familiar?). The City We Became imagines cities as living, sentient organisms that take shape as individual human avatars. New York and its five boroughs are embodied as mainly Black and brown folks (Staten Island and the nefarious Enemy that threatens the city are not insignificantly imagined as white women).
At a moment when New York City is slowly beginning to reopen amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, while simultaneously considering numerous pieces of legislation that could combat pervasive police brutality against Black people, Jemisin’s POC-centered speculations about the future of this city feel especially timely.
(3) THE HEART OF YOUR WEEKEND. Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron will host several of the “Hugo Finalists for Best Novella and Best Novelette 2020” on its June 13 program, including Seanan McGuire, Sarah Gailey, Sarah Pinsker, Siobhan Carroll, and Amal El-Mohtar. Facilitating the discussions will be Vincent Docherty and Karen Castelletti.
The episode will also feature a Sara Felix Tiara Giveaway and “Tammy Coxen’s Mixology Show Corner.”
(4) STOKERCON UK: STRIKE TWO. StokerCon UK has postponed again, having decided its new August dates are no longer tenable. New dates forthcoming.
As per previous communications, like all of you we have been closely monitoring the NHS and UK Government guidelines as they have evolved over the past weeks and months, and the situation with regard to COVID-19 is still extremely changeable.
We have done everything we can to try to continue with StokerCon UK in August but, unfortunately, this is still a fast-changing situation and, with the worldwide situation and the current government guidelines as they stand now, we are left with no choice but to postpone the convention once again as we feel it would be irresponsible to push ahead and put anyone’s health at risk, apart from the obvious issues with social distancing, travel etc. Safety has to be the paramount concern for all involved.
We will advise new dates in the next week, as we’re currently finalising details of this with the hotels and will advise plans moving forward for everyone who has already signed-up to attend. We understand how disappointing this will be to many of you, and share that disappointment, but we want to make sure our members are safe, and postponing will be the best way to try and achieve that.
(5) THE SUN GIVES ABUSER PAGE ONE. Right after J.K. Rowling published an essay defending her views on gender and sex, in which she revealed she is the survivor of domestic abuse in her first marriage, UK tabloid The Sun tracked down her former husband for a front-page interview. The Guardian covered the response: “JK Rowling: UK domestic abuse adviser writes to Sun editor”.
The government’s lead adviser on domestic abuse has written to the editor of the Sun to condemn the newspaper’s decision to publish a front page interview with JK Rowling’s first husband, under the headline: “I slapped JK and I’m not sorry.”
In the letter seen by the Guardian, Nicole Jacobs, the independent domestic abuse commissioner, said it was “unacceptable that the Sun has chosen to repeat and magnify the voice of someone who openly admits to violence against a partner”.
Jacobs joined a chorus of voices speaking out against the newspaper, which described the remarks by Rowling’s ex as a “sick taunt” against the Harry Potter creator.
“The media can play a vital role in shining a light on this issue and bringing it out of the shadows, but articles such as this one instead feed the shame that so many survivors will feel every day, minimising their experiences and allowing perpetrators to continue to abuse without fear of consequence,” Jacobs wrote to Victoria Newton, who was appointed the Sun’s editor in February.
(6) WRITERS OFFERED INSURANCE PROGRAM. The Book Industry Health Insurance Partnership, a coalition of 10 organizations that includes SFWA, has partnered with Lighthouse Insurance Group Solutions to “provide its members with a choice of health insurance options, including ACA-compliant major medical, Medicare/supplements, short-term policies, vision, dental, critical care, supplemental coverage, as well as small group/Health Reimbursement Arrangements.”
The Authors Guild noted in a recent press release that the coalition also includes the American Booksellers Association, American Society for Indexing, Book Industry Study Group, Graphic Artists Guild, Independent Book Publishers Association, Novelists Inc., and Western Writers of America.
No, I hear you: Now doesn’t seem the ideal moment to Netflix-and-chill with an animated series about the last vestiges of humanity struggling to survive.
I mean, imagine the pitch meeting:
“Cities lie in ruin.
“The surface of the earth is overgrown with plant life — and with overgrown animals: mutated beasts, 300 feet tall, that stomp across the land hunting for prey.
“Which is to say: for humans, who, now firmly at the bottom of the food chain, have retreated to vast underground burrows to protect themselves.”
It all sounds … pretty bleak, I get that. Depressing, even. Like if you mashed up The Walking Dead with the popular anime series Attack on Titan, in which gruesome giants gobble up humanity’s last survivors like so many chocolate-covered cherries.
And I haven’t even mentioned the violent gangs of mutant, human-sized animals who’ve staked out their own territories, making the Earth’s surface a deadly place for the few humans who still live there.
Netflix’s Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts, which returns for a second season Friday, June 12, manages to be anything but bleak and depressing. It’s bright and sunny, colorful and funny, and … then, there are those tunes.
(8) O’NEIL OBIT. Comic book writer Denny O’Neil died June 11 at the age of 81. Games Radar’s tribute is here.
…O’Neil was best known for his work on Batman, which included writing Batman, Detective Comics, and Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, as well as editing DC’s Batman titles from 1986 to 2000. He, editor Julius Schwartz, and artist Neal Adams are credited for guiding the Dark Knight back to his darker roots after a period of campiness brought on by the success of the 1960s Batman TV series….
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 12, 1956 — X Minus One’s “If You Was A Moklin” was aired for the first time. Written by Murray Leinster (published in Galaxy, September 1951) who would win a number of Hugos in his career (L.A. Con III awarded him a Retro Hugo Novelette for “First Contact”, published in Astounding May 1945; NY Con II would give him Best Novelette for “Exploration Team”, published in Astounding March 1956; and he’s up this year for a Retro Hugo Novella for “Trog”, published in Astounding Science Fiction, June 1944.) This story is about a planet that has a strange imitative trait it shows in producing its offspring. Or so it seems. Adapted as usual by Ernest Kinoy. The cast was Joe Julian, Patricia Weil, Karl Weber and Ralph Camargo. You can listen to hear it here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 12, 1856 – Georges Le Faure. Among a dozen popular swashbuckling novels, War Under Water against Germany; The Extraordinary Adventures of a Russian Scientist (with Henry de Graffigny, 4 vols.; tr. in 2 vols. 2009) with an explosive that could destroy the world, a Space-ship faster than light, visits to other planets, aliens. Verne was first but not alone. (Died 1953) [JH]
Born June 12, 1914 – Frank Kelly. Two novels, half a dozen shorter stories, from this pioneer. “Light Bender” was in the June 1931 Wonder Stories – he was 15! Later a speechwriter for Harry Truman; vice-president, Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. “My Interplanetary Teens” in the June 1947 Atlantic. Fiction outside our field in The New Yorker and Esquire. First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 2010) [JH]
Born June 12, 1914 — William Lundigan. Col. Edward McCauley in the Fifties serial Men into Space which lasted for thirty-eight episodes. He really didn’t do any other SF acting other than showIng up once on Science Fiction Theater. (Died 1975.) (CE)
Born June 12, 1927 — Henry Slesar. He had but one genre novel,Twenty Million Miles to Earth, but starting in the Fifties and for nearly a half century, he would write one hundred sixty short stories of a genre nature, with his first short story, “The Brat” being published in Imaginative Tales in September 1955. He also wrote scripts for television — CBS Radio Mystery Theater (which, yes, did SF), Tales Of The Unexpected, the revival version of the Twilight Zone, Batman, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and genre adjacent, lots of scripts for Alfred Hitchcock Presents. (Died 2002.) (CE)
Born June 12, 1940 — Mary A. Turzillo, 80. She won the Nebula Award for Best Novelette for her “Mars is No Place for Children” story, published in Science Fiction Age. Her first novel, An Old Fashioned Martian Girl was serialized in Analog, and a revised version, Mars Girls was released. Her first collection to polish her SWJ creds is named Your cat & other space aliens. Mars Girls which I highly recommend is available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)
Born June 12, 1945 — James Stevens-Arce, 75. Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says that “James Stevens-Arce, is perhaps the first Puerto Rican to publish sf, and the most prolific.“ He has but one novel, Soulsaver which won thePremio UPC de Ciencia Ficción, and a double handful of short stories which do appear to have made to the digital realm.(CE)
Born June 12, 1946 – Sue Anderson. Fannish musicals with Mark Keller, performed at 1970s Boskones: Rivets, Rivets Redux, Mik Ado about Nothing (note Gilbert & Sullivan allusion), The Decomposers. George Flynn, Anne McCaffrey, Elliot Shorter are gone, but Chip Hitchcock was in some or all and I’m counting on him to explain what really happened. Three short stories (one posthumously in Dark Horizons 50), and this cover with Stevan Arnold for Vertex. (Died 2004) [JH]
Born June 12, 1948 – Etienne Sándorfi. Hungarian hyperrealist painter. It was said that he painted like an assassin; also that, working at night, he went to bed each day later than the day before, puzzling his daughters. Ten interiors for Omni. The Wayback Machine has this interview; see some of his paintings here (Madeleine), here (nature morte organes). (Died 2007) [JH]
Born June 12, 1948 — Len Wein. Writer and editor best known for co-creating (with Bernie Wrightson) Swamp Thing and co-creating Wolverine (with Roy Thomas and John Romita Sr.) and for helping revive the the X-Men. He edited Watchmen which must have been interesting. He’s a member of the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 2017.) (CE)
Born June 12, 1955 — Stephen Pagel, 65. Editor with Nicola Griffith of the genre anthologies, Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction, Bending the Landscape: Fantasy, and Bending the Landscape: Horror. (CE)
Born June 12, 1963 – Franz Miklis. Austrian artist active for decades in fanart (see here and here) and otherwise (see here and here). His Website is here. [JH]
Born June 12, 1970 – Claudia Gray. A score of novels, some in the Star Wars universe; a few shorter stories; translated into Dutch, French, German, Portuguese. Her Website is here (“Bianca, Tess, Nadia, Skye, Marguerite, and Noemi aren’t that much like me. For example, they all have better hair”; also “Read as much as you can…. Read the stuff you love. Read the stuff you never thought you’d love”). [JH]
The Mouse Factory“The Mystery of Mickey’s Ears Revealed” Illustration by Ward Kimball Original Art (Walt Disney, c. 1970s). Walt Disney like to say, “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” Mickey’s trademark ears have been a source of conversation since the famous mouse was born in 1928. Created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, Mickey is characterized as a cheerful and mischievous “little guy” with ears that move strangely. In the early 1970s, Disney Legend Inductee and one of “Walt’s Nine Old Men”, Ward Kimball (1914 – 2002) attempted to clear up the matter and explain the mystery of Mickey’s ears on the television show, The Mouse Factory. In this lot is a rare illustration by Kimball showing Mickey in front and side views with an explanation on how his ears move independently as he moves his head.
(12) BE SEATED. In “Episode 29: Omphalistic Hugosity” of Two Chairs Talking (no relation to Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson), former Aussiecon chairs David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss talk about the shorter fiction nominees for the 2020 Hugo Awards, and then take the Hugo Time Machine back to 1962, when Stranger in a Strange Land won Best Novel.
Loma Homes translated the magic of “Harry Potter” into an epic new rental just 30 minutes away from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.
The Wizard’s Way villa has eight themed bedrooms with 10 beds, five bathrooms, and dozens of book and movie Easter eggs that fans of the franchise will love.
(14) AVATAR. [Item by Cliff.] This video demonstrates a digital avatar created by the company founded by an ex-colleague of mine.
This demo showcases a cutting edge end-to-end virtual assistant prototy[e developed by Pinscreen. The entire Avatar runs on the cloud and is streamed directly onto a web browser. This demo highlights a real-time facial AI-synthesis technology based on paGAN II, cutting edge NLP, voice recognition, and speech synthesis. None of the conversation is scripted.
(15) MURDER(BOT) SHE WROTE. Camestros Felapton has many kind (but non-spoilery) words to say about Martha Wells’ new novel: “Murderbot: Network Effect”.
I sort of gave up reviewing Murderbot a few novellas ago. There is a sense that actually the plot really doesn’t matter and the simplest explanation of an instalment is that its a Murderbot story and the reader either knows the formula or doesn’t and if they don’t then see earlier reviews. However, that belies how much I enjoy each and every one of Martha Wells’s brilliant episodes of Murderbot’s continuing adventures.
The essence of the formula is the juxtaposition of this incredibly vulnerable highly competent killing machine. Murderbot has been shot and blasted and zapped but the struggles with their own sense of self and connections with other people pulls you in….
Bose-Einstein condensates, sometimes called the fifth state of matter, are gaseous clouds of atoms that stop behaving like individual atoms and start to behave like a collective. BECs, as they’re often called, were first predicted by Albert Einstein and Satyendra Nath Bose over 95 years ago, but they were first observed in the lab by scientists just 25 years ago. The general idea when making a BEC is to inject atoms (in the case of CAL, rubidium and potassium) into an ultra-cold chamber to slow them down. A magnetic trap is then created in the chamber with an electrified coil, which is used along with lasers and other tools to move the atoms into a dense cloud. At this point the atoms “kind of blur into one another,” says David Aveline, a physicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the lead author of the new study.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Creative Writing Advice From Neil Gaiman” on YouTube is a 2015 compiilation by Nicola Monaghan of excerpts from speeches Gaiman has given on writing.
[Thanks to Cliff, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]
(1) NEXT TREK. CBS All Access dropped a trailer for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, a spinoff from Star Trek; Discovery that stars Anson Mount and Rebecca Romijn.
Fans spoke, Star Trek listened, and a new series aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise is on the horizon! Watch stars Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, and Rebecca Romijn excitedly break the big news. Stay tuned for more information on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, coming soon to CBS All Access. In the meantime, stream full episodes of Star Trek: Discovery, exclusively in the U.S. on CBS All Access.
(3) DEALING WITH A FAMILIAR MEDIA WEAPON. On Saturday, May 16, professionals in the field of influence operations (“Fake News”) will join Gadi Evron, Sounil Yu, Malka Older, and special guest David Weber to discuss how disinformation can be countered from an operational standpoint, as well as its effects on society and policy. “Countering ‘Fake News’: Professionals Speak” at Essence of Wonder. Registration required
Panel one will cover the effects of “Fake News” on society, and the shaping of policy around the topic. Panel two will dive deeply into methodologies, operational tools, and techniques, for countering “Fake News” attacks.
WFC2020: The Sookie Stackhouse books were made into the series True Blood, which ran seven years. In the books Lafayette (the fry cook) doesn’t last long, but the actor, Nelsan Harris, was so popular his role was expanded in the series. What other changes were made to the books’ characters?
CH: I thought the character of Jessica (Deborah Wohl) was a fabulous addition to the storyline. Wished I had thought of her. The fae on screen turned out to be not at all what was in my head, but it worked for the purposes of the show. I loved the sets, which I saw several times: Sookie’s house, Jason’s house, Merlotte’s. And all the actors were amazing. Alan Ball is a genius at casting. Nelsan was wonderful!
Dana Cameron, Toni L.P. Kelner (a.k.a. Leigh Perry), Patricia Briggs, and Charlaine Harris will join us on Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron for geeky shenanigans in a panel discussion about Worldbuilding (and maybe pets). Before the panel, Charlaine will interview Patricia on her new Mercy Thompson book, “Smoke Bitten“. Join us for this special show with The Leading Ladies of Urban Fantasy on Saturday (23 May).
(6) DON’T MISS OUT. Another WFC 2020 guest of honor, Steve Rasnic Tem, telling about “My First WFC”, includes this wisdom:
…My late friend Ed Bryant and I would sometimes read the glowing tributes to authors who had passed and Ed would say, “Well, I hope they told them these nice things while they were still alive.” Attending a World Fantasy Convention gives you a great opportunity to practice Ed’s advice. The sad fact is you may not have another chance.
Charlie Jane Anders is writing a nonfiction book—and Tor.com is publishing it as she does so. Never Say You Can’t Survive is a how-to book about the storytelling craft, but it’s also full of memoir, personal anecdote, and insight about how to flourish in the present emergency.
Below is the Introduction, followed by the first chapter, “How To Make Your Own Imaginary Friends”
New installments will appear every Tuesday at noon EST.
Here’s an excerpt –
….So I’m writing a series of essays called Never Say You Can’t Survive, all about how writing and making up stories can help you to survive a terrifying moment in history. (These essays came out of a talk that I gave at the Willamette Writers Conference and elsewhere. And their title is borrowed from the 1977 album of the same name by Curtis Mayfield, which is a piece of music that has given me so much strength and inspiration over the years.)
Stories of Darkness and Escapism
When I wrote “Don’t Press Charges And I Won’t Sue,” I was going to the darkest possible place I could go in a story, and putting my protagonist through the most dehumanizing treatment I could imagine. I needed to face up to the absolute worst that could happen, so I felt like I understood it a little better. I also needed to write about someone facing up to the most nightmarish scenario and still emerging in one piece, surviving, even though it’s a dark ending.
Writing a horrifying story on your own terms means that you can show how someone can survive, or even triumph. And meanwhile, you can cast a light on the injustice of oppressive systems. You can also choose the frame and eliminate some of the ambiguity in some situations, to make things more stark and more clear, or to make juxtapositions that illuminate how the problem started, and how it’ll be in the future.
When you’re telling the story, you get to draw all the lines….
…Thus he was receptive on the day in early 1990 when one of his most productive if headstrong programmers, a strapping young metalhead named John Romero, suggested that Softdisk start a new MS-DOS disk magazine, dedicated solely to games — the one place where, what with Apogee’s success being still in its early stages, shareware had not yet clearly cut into Softdisk’s business model. After some back-and-forth, the two agreed to a bi-monthly publication known as Gamer’s Edge, featuring at least one — preferably two — original games in each issue. To make it happen, Romero would be allowed to gather together a few others who were willing to work a staggering number of hours cranking out games at an insane pace with no resources beyond themselves for very little money at all. Who could possibly refuse an offer like that?
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
May 15, 1955 — X Minus One’s “Universe” first aired. It’s based off Heinlein’s Universe which was first published in Astounding Science Fiction’s May 1941 issue, and George Lefferts wrote the script. The cast includes Donald P. Buka, Peter Kapell, Bill Griffis, Abby Lewis, Edgar Stehli, Jason Seymour and Ian Martin. Untold generations of people traveling in a giant’s spaceship have lost track of who they are and what they set out to do. They think that their ship is the Universe. You can listen to it here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 15, 1856 – L. Frank Baum. His Wizard of Oz has been translated into 50 languages, selling 3 million copies by the time it entered the public domain in 1956, applauded by the Library of Congress in 2000; 13 more Ozbooks, 28 others, 83 shorter stories, 200 poems, at least 42 scripts, under his own and half a dozen pen names. While living in the Dakota Territory, he was Secretary of the Aberdeen Woman’s Suffrage Club, and hosted Susan B. Anthony (Aberdeen is now a city in the State of South Dakota). He knew French, German, Italian. He said at the start that Wizardaspired to fantasy “in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heart-aches and nightmares are left out,” at which he succeeded. Last words, to his wife, “Now we can cross the Shifting Sands.” (Died 1919) [JH]
Born May 15, 1848 – Viktor Vasnetsov. Co-founder of Russian folklorist and romantic-nationalist panting, key figure in Russian Revivalist movement. Designed churches, mosaics, a revenue stamp, the façade of the Tretyakov Gallery. Worked on stage designs and costumes for Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera The Snow Maiden. V’s fantasy and epics irritated radicals, who said he undermined realist principles. Here is a flying carpet. (Died 1926) [JH]
Born May 15, 1891 – Mikhail Bulgakov. Had he only written The Master and Margarita, that would have sufficed us; an elaborate strange masterpiece; Margarita, not the Master, allies herself with the Devil – maybe; I talk a little about it here; in fact not published until decades after his death, too dangerous. Mick Jagger said it inspired “Sympathy for the Devil”. Try this Website. See also Diaboliad, The Fatal Eggs, Heart of a Dog. Two rival museums in Moscow – in the same building; one in Kiev. (Died 1940) [JH]
Born May 15. 1906 – Ellen MacGregor. Librarian, cataloguer, researcher, editrix of the Illinois Women’s Press Ass’n monthly bulletin Pen Points; also worked in Florida and Hawaii. For children’s fantasy with accurate science she wrote Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars and Goes Undersea; Goes to the Arctic published after her death; then 13 more, 16 shorter stories, by Dora Pantell. Lavinia Pickerell, prim, angular, and devoted to her pet cow, is an inadvertent stowaway on a rocket to Mars in her first adventure, but she is unflappable. (Died 1954) [JH]
Born May 15, 1932 – Jack Cady. He won the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Bram Stoker Award, an impressive feat indeed. McDowell’s Ghost gives a fresh spin on the trope of seeing seeing a War Between The States ghost, and The Night We Buried Road Dog is another ghost story set in early Sixties Montana and is quite horrid. Underland Press printed all of his superb short fiction into two volumes, Phantoms: Collected Writings, Volume 1 and Fathoms: Collected Writings, Volume 2. (Died 2004.) (CE)
Born May 15, 1948 — Brian Eno, 72. Worth noting if only for A Multimedia Album Based on the Complete Text of Robert Sheckley’s In a Land of Clear Colors, though all of his albums have a vague SF feeling to them such as Music for Civic Recovery Centre, January 07003: Bell Studies for the Clock of The Long Now and Everything That Happens Will Happen Today which could the name of Culture mind ships. Huh. I wonder if his music will show up in the forthcoming Culture series? (CE)
Born May 15, 1955 — Nina Kiriki Hoffman, 55. Her book The Thread That Binds the Bones, won the Bram Stoker Award for first novel. In addition, her short story “Trophy Wives” won a Nebula Award for Best Short Story. Other novels include The Silent Strength of Stones (a sequel to Thread), A Fistful of Sky, and A Stir of Bones. All are excellent. Most of her work has a strong sense of regionalism being set In California or the Pacific Northwest. (CE)
Born May 15, 1955 – Takayuki Tatsumi. Professor at Keiô University, chair of K.U. SF Study Group; editor, essayist, interviewer, theoretician; 21st Nihon SF Taishô (Grand Prize) from Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of Japan. President, American Literature Society of Japan 2014-2017, Poe Society of Japan 2009- ; editorial boards of Paradoxa, Mark Twain Studies, Journal of Transnat’l American Studies. In English, for SF Chronicle, SF Eye, N.Y. Review of SF, SF Studies, the 65th and 72nd Worldcons’ Souvenir Books; The Liverpool Companion to World SF Film (2014); The Cambridge History of Postmodern Literature (2016). [JH]
Born May 15, 1974 – Ahmet Zappa. Brother of Dweezil, Moon Unit, and Diva; wrote song “Frogs with Dirty Little Lips” with his father Frank. Debut novel (and interiors), The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless; debut film, The Odd Life of Timothy Green; television, three-season host of Robotica; co-author with wife Shana Muldoon Zappa, Sage and the Journey to Wishworld and 14 more Star Darlings books. [JH]
In the beginning, nearly every superhero had a secret identity. It protected them from villainous revenge, and created a delicious dramatic tension while interacting with loved ones who had no inkling of their other life. But the strict secret identity is fast becoming an anachronism.
And all of this is for the better, delivering not only greater dramatic possibilities, but also a healthier idea of heroism….
(13) FANTASTIC FOUR COMICS. Marvel’s tells fans that Fantastic Four: Antithesis is coming in August, the first full-length Fantastic Four story ever illustrated by industry legend Neal Adams.
Adams is joined by Eisner Award-winning writer Mark Waid (Daredevil, Captain America, Fantastic Four), who jam-packs this tale with a fan-favorite roster of Fantastic Four heroes and villains! Together, this celebrated creative team create a new nemesis for the Fantastic Four guaranteed to send shockwaves throughout all of fandom.
…Adams shares [Waid’s] enthusiasm about the project. “I have always had the sense of missing the chance to draw the Fantastic Four. It was a quiet sense, since I’ve had every opportunity to do my favorites. More, I felt Kirby and Buscema had done it all, hadn’t they…?” he begins. “When Marvel’s Tom Brevoort asked if I’d like to do the Fantastic Four, I knew I had to ask for Galactus and the Silver Surfer as well. I am humbled and thankful to Tom for the opportunity.”
Who or what is the Antithesis, and will the combined might of the Fantastic Four, the Silver Surfer, and Galactus himself be enough to defeat it?
With comic book stores closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was an open question just what fans would do to get their fix. New figures released from digital service DC Universe suggest that the answer was, simply, “go online.”
(15) ON THE WILDSIDE. John Betancourt has launched a Kickstarter appeal to produce “Staying In Place”, an “anthology of stories to pass the time.” Various support levels also bring additional rewards in the form of reading material.
With so many people staying at home right now, we at Wildside Press and the Black Cat Mystery & Science Fiction Ebook Club are putting together a mammoth anthology of amazing stories for you to read and enjoy. The anthology will feature 20 novels and short stories by iconic authors such as John Gregory Betancourt, Paul di Filippo, John W. Campbell Jr., Robert E. Howard, G.D. Falksen, and many more to be announced. But we need your help to make this happen. We are coming to Kickstarter to fund the anthology. In return for your support, you get the anthology itself, some of our fantastic ebooks, and even a subscription to the Black Cat which gives subscribers 7+ free ebooks every week, including new releases of all of the great Wildside Press magazines (Weirdbook, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, and even the upcoming revival of Startling Stories, the famous pulp magazine).
Every now and then, a Twitter act of creation reminds us that good things can still emerge from our hellish Internet stomping grounds. Such is the case with a viral thread from writer Alex Arrelia, in which Arrelia painstakingly—and hilariously—takes on J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters under the heading of “Men of Middle Earth as bad ex boyfriends who ruined your life.”
Most obviously, Sauron could have prevented the destruction of the One Ring–and thus the unraveling of his power–if he’d only done a little more to make sure that Mount Doom was protected from approach and infiltration. Indeed, it is precisely the fact that it is so unguarded–because Sauron couldn’t imagine that anyone would want to destroy the Ring rather than use it – that allows Frodo and Sam to sneak up on it. Sauron is defeated by his own inability to think outside of himself.
Showrunner Noelle Stevenson has always been a fan of science fiction and fantasy. As a kid, she loved it all: the epic space battles, the magic, the quests that seemed larger than life.
But there was a problem with her favorite childhood stories, like Star Wars and The Lord of The Rings series. “I never quite saw myself reflected in them” Stevenson says, “certainly not at the heart of the story.”
There weren’t a lot of women.
Of course, there’s interstellar rebel Princess Leia and Nazgûl-slaying Éowyn. But Stevenson wanted a female version of Luke Skywalker and a terror-inducing femme Lord Sauron.
So when she started writing stories of her own, she made sure kids like her felt seen, in more ways than one.
…When Netflix and DreamWorks wanted to reboot She-Ra: Princess of Power — an epic showdown between magical princesses and an evil alien invader — Stevenson was all in.
She kept much of the original show’s action and adventure — like the original, the rebooted show takes place on the planet Etheria, and one of the princesses who is trying to stop the evil Horde army from taking over is named Adora.
…Stevenson did make one small but important change to the show: Its name. The Netflix and DreamWorks version is She-Ra and the PRINCESSES of Power. All the princesses are important.
She also gathered an all-female writing staff to update this team of powerful women. In the original show, the princesses are white, skinny and presumably straight. The new rebellion includes women of color. They’re women in all different shapes and sizes. And there are women who love other women.
Princess Weekes is an assistant editor at The Mary Sue, a website that covers the intersection of women and fandom. She’s been writing about the She-Ra reboot since the beginning.
Weekes says that because the team behind She-Ra is made up of LGBTQ people, the stories on the show give genuine representation of queer life for kids.
“You allow queerness for young kids to be just normalized in general,” Weekes says. “What I think Noelle Stevenson and the entire She-Ra team has done is create a society and place where characters can exist, but their biggest problem isn’t that they’re gay.”
Even Queen Elsa’s magic is no match for the coronavirus pandemic.
Disney Theatrical Productions said Thursday that its stage adaptation of “Frozen” will not reopen on Broadway once the pandemic eases, making the musical the first to be felled by the current crisis.
“Frozen” had been the weakest of the three Disney musicals that had been running on Broadway — the others were “The Lion King” and “Aladdin” — and the company made it clear that it does not believe audiences will return in substantial enough numbers to sustain all of those shows.
“This difficult decision was made for several reasons but primarily because we believe that three Disney productions will be one too many titles to run successfully in Broadway’s new landscape,” Thomas Schumacher, the president of Disney Theatrical Productions, said in a letter to his staff….
On Saturday, the US Air Force is expected to launch its secret space plane, X-37B, for a long-duration mission in low Earth orbit. The robotic orbiter looks like a smaller version of the space shuttle and has spent nearly eight of the past 10 years in space conducting classified experiments for the military. Almost nothing is known about what X-37B does up there, but ahead of its sixth launch the Air Force gave some rare details about its cargo.
…[The] real star of the show is a small solar panel developed by the physicists at the Naval Research Lab that will be used to conduct the first orbital experiment with space-based solar power.
“This is a major step forward,” says Paul Jaffe, an electronics engineer at the Naval Research Lab and lead researcher on the project. “This is the first time that any component geared towards a solar-powered satellite system has ever been tested in orbit.”
Space-based solar power is all about getting solar power to Earth no matter the weather or the time of day. The basic idea is to convert the sun’s energy into microwaves and beam it down. Unlike terrestrial solar panels, satellites in a sufficiently high orbit might only experience darkness for a few minutes per day. If this energy could be captured, it could provide an inexhaustible source of power no matter where you are on the planet.
It’s an idea that was cooked up by the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in the 1940s; since then, beamed power experiments have been successfully tested several times on Earth. But the experiment on X-37B will be the first time the core technologies behind microwave solar power will be tested in orbit.
Most of you probably know the world-famous Keukenhof, the most beautiful tulip garden in the world. Every year millions of tourists visit this garden. That’s a huge lot considering the garden is only open in spring! Every year, a hard-working crew makes sure the garden looks as good as ever, including this year!
This year is ‘special’. Keukenhof is closed, for the first time in 71 years. But that doesn’t mean there are no flowers. On the contrary; the flowers look incredible and get as much attention and care as always. All the passionate gardeners do their work as they’re used to. Because even without people, nature and the show of the garden goes on….
…Once the world opens up and travel gets easier Amanda and Ash and I are looking forward to being together again in Woodstock. (Yes, I’ve seen the newsfeed headlines saying I’ve moved to the UK, and even that we’re divorcing. No, I haven’t moved the UK, and yes, Amanda and I are still very much together, even with half a world between us.)
Thank you to everyone who’s been kind and nice and helpful, while Amanda and my problems got rather more public than either of us is comfortable with. We love each other, and we love Ash, and we will sort ourselves out, in private, which is much the best place for things like this….
And the couple’s joint letter follows.
(23) NOT THAT SUBTLE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Kyle Mizokami, in “The Space Force Receives Its ‘Kobayashi Maru’ Space-Tracking System” in Popular Mechanics says it’s no coincidence that Space Force’s warning system is a Star Trek reference; the Space Force also has a Kessel Run, and Mizokami thinks it’s no coincidence that the acronym for the force’s Space Operations Center is SPOC.
The U.S. Space Force announced the development of a brand new software package designed to track and monitor objects in space. Dubbed “Kobayashi Maru,” the cloud-based program was designed to modernize the way the U.S. Air Force—and now the U.S. Space Force—interoperates in space but with its allies in the “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing alliance.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cliff Ramshaw, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, JJ, David Goldfarb, Paul Di Filippo, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
One of the things people warned me about when it comes to writing novels is that no matter how smoothly novel N goes, there’s no guarantee that novel N+1 will also go smoothly. I learned this the hard way in writing Phoenix Extravagant.
I thought I had the plot all planned out, and I knew my protagonist was going to be a painter, and that there would be a mecha dragon. As for the worldbuilding, well, I’d make that up on the fly. That’s what I did with the hexarchate and it more or less worked then; why not now?
You’re probably thinking that making things up on the fly is where I went wrong, and that’s not quite true. If I try to linearize worldbuilding down a checklist, it kills the world flat dead for me. No: the issue was a bigger one. I picked the wrong setting….
Police in New Zealand have been required to enforce crowd control measures at a popular fast food outlet after large numbers of people rushed to buy burgers following a relaxing of the country’s lockdown measures on Tuesday.
New Zealand, which has reported 1,474 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases and 19 deaths, spent almost five weeks under a strict, level four lockdown. The country eased into level three restrictions on Tuesday, meaning some children could go back to school and 400,000 people were able to go back to work.
But for many, it was a chance to finally eat the fast food they had been craving. Under level three restrictions, a limited number of restaurants and cafes have been permitted to reopen. According to TVNZ, that resulted in long queues of cars at KFC and McDonald’s drive-thrus outlets throughout Auckland, the country’s biggest city.
(3) ROBOT CENTENARY NEARS. Jaroslav Olsa Jr. has a plan for celebrating Capek’s famous robot story when its hundredth birthday rolls around. If you can help, email him at olsa-jr (at) post (dot) cz
One hundred years ago, in November 1920, drama “R. U. R. Rossum´s Universal Robots” by Czech writer Karel Capek (1890-1938) saw its first edition. Story about a rebellion of artificial people ending with an extinction of humanity saw the first use of the word “robot”.
Though Isaac Asimov didn´t like the play, he rightly commented that R. U. R. is “immortal for that one word. It contributed the word ‘robot’ not only to English but, through English, to all the languages in which science fiction is now written.”
This year we will have an anthology of original science fiction stories set and connected to Capek´s world of R.U.R. But we are also thinking about an international anthology of the best robotic stories from all over the world… as another homage to maybe the most famous Czech – ROBOT. If you know such excellent piece from the East or West, South or North, send me a copy of the story…
Narrativia, the production company launched by Pratchett in 2012, has struck an exclusive development deal with Motive Pictures and Endeavor Content for a series of TV adaptations. It is not yet known which of the “Discworld” books will be adapted initially….
Rhianna Pratchett, co-director of Narrativia and Pratchett’s daughter, said: “Discworld teems with unique characters, witty narrative and incredible literary tropes, and we feel these should be realised on screen in a form that my father would be proud of. It’s wonderful to embark on this journey with Motive and Endeavor Content, who both perfectly share our vision to make this a reality.”
Rob Wilkins, managing director of Narrativia, added: “The Discworld books are a huge source of joy to millions of readers, and rightly so; every paragraph, phrase and footnote was crafted with brilliance and flair and we are committed to bringing Terry’s world to the screen with the respect and care it deserves. With this partnership, we are delighted to say that Discworld has finally found its home.”
Harrison Ford says an airport runway incident now under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration came about because he “misheard a radio instruction.”
The 77-year-old star, who is an avid pilot, was operating a plane at California’s Hawthorne Airport on April 24 when he crossed a runway while another aircraft was landing.
“Mr. Ford crossed the airport’s only runway in his aircraft after he misheard a radio instruction from [air traffic control],” Ford’s rep told Page Six in a statement Wednesday. “He immediately acknowledged the mistake and apologized to ATC for the error. The purpose of the flight was to maintain currency and proficiency in the aircraft.”
His rep added that no one was injured in the incident and “there was never any danger of a collision.”
The FAA confirmed that the two aircraft were approximately 3,600 feet away from each other at the time….
…According to our sources – the same ones who told us that the Guardians will cameo in Thor: Love and Thunder and Now You See Me 3 is in development, both of which have since been confirmed – Harrison Ford is reportedly wanted for a villainous part in the film. It’s unclear exactly which one it could be at the moment, but one possibility is the High Evolutionary, a role that his former Star Wars co-star Mark Hamill has been linked to in the past. In certain canon, the character has a hand in the creation and subsequent experiments on Rocket, which ties into the vague plot details that we know so far.
At Can*Con 2019 in Ottawa, Ontario, Author Guest of Honour Charlie Jane Anders sits down for a one-on-one with programming lead and author Brandon Crilly, discussing her latest novels, short fiction, and her work in fandom and the SFF community.
In these tough times, we need great TV shows more than ever. We have lots of opinions about nine new series that are making us happy because they’re smart, fun, and — best of all — colorful! Plus, we’ve got recommendations for over a dozen more not-so-new shows that are worth digging up from last year, or last century. Stay safe at home and plunge your mind into dazzling new worlds.
With movie theaters shuttered and film festivals canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, films once slated for the big screen are now premiering in people’s homes, streaming on digital platforms or showing as video on demand. In an unprecedented move, the board governing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will allow movies that originally had theatrical release dates but are now being screened online to be eligible to be considered for awards.
“The historically tragic COVID-19 pandemic necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules,” Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson wrote in a statement. Until now, to qualify for awards, a film had to run at least seven consecutive days in a commercial theater in Los Angeles County. Under the new rules, when theaters reopen, films may qualify for awards if they have theatrical runs in L.A., New York, California’s Bay Area, Chicago, Miami or Atlanta.
Cory Doctorow will join Gadi [Evron] on Saturday (9 May) to talk on DRM, Right to Repair, and COVID-19/Med-Tech, read from “Unauthorized Bread”, and moderate a panel discussion featuring Steve Crocker, Martin Roesch, Keren Elazari, Ron Gula, Dmitri Alperovich, and Caleb Sima, discussing the challenges of digital policy when facing security and privacy realities.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
April 29, 1950 — Dimension X’s “No Contact” aired. The copy at the time described the episode such, “It was in the year 1982 that space men first discovered the great galactic barrier… 5 exploratory ships went out and none came back each disappearing mysteriously at the same vanishing point an invisible wall somewhere in the vast outer reaches that became known as the wrecker of spaceships.” Mel Brandt as usual was the announcer and with George Lefferts being the writer, and the cast being Donald Buka, Matt Crowley and Cameron Prudhomme. You can hear it here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 29, 1887 — H. Bedford-Jones. Pulp writer of whom only maybe ten percent of his twelve hundred stories could be considered genre, but some such as the Jack Solomon novels, say John Solomon, Argonaut and John Solomon’s Biggest Gam,e are definitely genre. Like many of the early pulp writers, he used a number of pen names, to wit Michael Gallister, Allan Hawkwood, Gordon Keyne, H. E. Twinells and L. B. Williams. Wildside Press published in 2006 a collection of his short stories, The House of Skulls and Other Tales from the Pulps. (Died 1949.)
Born April 29, 1908 — Jack Williamson. I’ll frankly admit that he’s one of those authors that I know I’ve read a fair amount by can’t recall any specific titles as I didn’t collect him. A quick research study suggests the Legion of Space series was what I liked best. What did y’all like by him? (Died 2006.)
Born April 29, 1923 — Irvin Kershner. Director and producer of such genre works as the Amazing Stories and seaQuest DSV series, Never Say Never Again, RoboCop 2 and The Empire Strikes Back. By the way several of the sources I used in compiling this Birthday claimed that was the best Star Wars film. (Died 2010.)
Born April 29, 1943 — Russell M. Griffin. Author of but four novels as he died far too young of a heart attack. The Makeshift God, his first novel, I remember as being a rather decent dystopian affair, and Century’s End was even bleaker. He wrote but nine stories. He alas has not made it into the digital realm yet. (Died 1986.)
Born April 29, 1946 — Humphrey Carpenter. Biographer whose notable output of biographies includes J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography; he also edited The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. He is responsible for The Inklings: CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Charles Williams and their Friends. He also wrote the engaging Mr. Majeika children’s series which was decidedly genre. (Died 2005.)
Born April 29, 1960 — Robert J. Sawyer, 60. Hominids won the Hugo for Best Novel at Torcon 3, and The Terminal Experiment won a Nebula as well. Completing a hat trick, he won a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Mindscan too. Very impressive. And then there’s the FlashForward series which lasted for thirteen episodes that was based on his novel of that name. Interesting series that ended far too soon.
Born April 29, 1958 — Michelle Pfeiffer, 62. Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. She was also in the much better The Witches of Eastwick as Sukie Ridgemont and was Brenda Landers in the “Hospital” segment of Amazon Women on the Moon. She played Laura Alden in Wolf, voiced Tsipp?r?hin The Prince of Egypt, was Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, voiced Eris in Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, was Lamia in Stardust and is playing The Wasp (Janet van Dyne) in Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Born April 29, 1970 — Uma Thurman, 50. Venus / Rose in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Kage’s favorite film), Maid Marian in the Robin Hood starring Patrick Bergin which I highly recommend, Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin (bad, bad film) which she will follow by being Emma Peel in The Avengers, an even worse stinker of a film.
(12) MORE ABOUT KERSHNER. [Item by John King Tarpinian.] Today being Irvin Kershner’s celebration of what would have been his 97th birthday, here is a little photo and story. “Kersh” is the older gentleman in the blue shirt and black jacket holding court with the line, (The hat in the lower right belongs to George Clayton Johnson.) This was the premiere of Roger Lay Jr’s graduate thesis film, Chrysalis, based on Ray Bradbury’s story. Ray was sitting to George’s left, out of picture. They held court before the screening.
Kersh kind of snuck into the theater, unbeknownst to Roger, so he was not introduced. Once the screening was over and thank yous expressed people in attendance were getting up and heading for the door or giving a final good-bye to Ray. I realized that most of the people in the audience were “future” directors. I shouted out how many liked The Empire Strikes Back? All hands were raised. I pointed out Kersh, introduced him and the fact that he directed it. A line quickly formed.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Free Range depends on a little inside joke. Robert Bloch would have understood it.
The Argyle Sweater returns with another batch of “not-so-famous second careers” – three are genre.
(14) A PAIR TO DRAW TO. Two Chairs Talking, the podcast where past Australian Worldcon chairs Perry Middlemiss and David Grigg “talk about books, movies and other stuff,” is celebrating its one-year anniversary! Grigg says Episode-26: “Now We Are One” is “a special episode in which Perry and I each pick our five favourite books/series of all time and explain why we love them so much.”
For the record, the books discussed are: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, The Tango Briefing by Adam Hall, The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett, Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough, and The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles, and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
A Modest Proposal is brilliant, biting, hilarious satire, that is as horrifyingly relevant in 2020 as it was in 1729. This reads like one of those brilliant editorials from The Onion, or a Hannity monologue.
… By the time I was in middle school, I was struggling to deal with my abusive father, and I just did what I had to in school to keep my grades up and not fail. My teachers were fantastic, but the curriculum was very narrow, and there was little appreciation for art and literature in it. When I got into high school, I was working full time on Star Trek. I had a magnificent on-set tutor who took me all the way from grade 9 to grade 12, who encouraged me to do all the things my previous educators had not, but by that time it was just too late for me. I have regretted all of this, from the moment I became aware of it in my 30s, and I’ve been working hard to educate myself in the middle of my life, since I was not educated fully at the beginning of my life.
I am so embarrassed and disappointed that my education is a mile wide and half an inch deep. I realized this years ago, and I’ve been doing what I can to educate myself, using college lectures that are online, and by reading as much as I can, to expose myself to the great works of art and literature that my parents didn’t care about, and my educators didn’t teach me about….
The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz is a time-travelling science fiction novel. I picked it up based on the promise that there would be both time travel and lesbians, though it turned out to be more diverse than just that description implies….
…But the overarching story is about fighting for rights and the methods by which history is made/changed. An ongoing debate in the book concerns the efficacy of collective action vs the Great Man theory; whether history can be changed incrementally and/or whether killing Hitler actually does anyone any good. But this is more a book about the characters, mostly women, looking out for each other, no matter the time period. If that’s your jam, then this may well be the book for you.
(17) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter says tonight a Jeopardy! contestant’s genre answer was mistaken.
The category: 19th Century novels.
The answer: “It’s first line ends, ‘the period was so far like the present period…for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.'”
Wrong question: “What is ‘The Time Machine’?”
Correct question: “What is ‘A Tale of Two Cities’?”
Astronomers have been able to test key consequences of Einstein’s theories by studying the way a couple of black holes move around each other.
One of these objects is a true colossus – a hole weighing 18 billion times the mass of our Sun; the other not quite so big at “only” 150 million Sun masses.
Scientists managed to predict their interactions very precisely.
They did so by including their warping effects on space-time and by assuming the larger hole had a smooth “surface”.
The black hole pairing, known as OJ 287, exists about 3.5 billion light-years from Earth.
Scientists have long recognised a sudden brightening from this system that occurs twice every 12 years. The outburst of energy is equivalent to a trillion suns turning on at once in the holes’ host galaxy.
The best explanation for this extraordinary behaviour is that the smaller object is routinely crashing through a disc of gas and dust that’s accreting on to its larger companion, heating the inspiraling material to extremely high temperatures in the process.
But this flaring is somewhat irregular. Sometimes the brightening episodes in the 12-year period occur as little as one year apart; other times, as much as 10 years apart.
It speaks to the complexity of the path the small hole takes around its partner – a complexity the research team has now built into a highly sophisticated model.
An artificial intelligence system has been refused the right to two patents in the US, after a ruling only “natural persons” could be inventors.
The US Patent and Trademark Office rejected two patents where the AI system Dabus was listed as the inventor, in a ruling on Monday.
US patent law had previously only specified eligible inventors had to be “individuals”.
It follows a similar ruling from the UK Intellectual Property Office.
(20) CHECKING UP ON THE OTHER DOCTOR. “Dr Chuck Tingle is the glue holding this fragile and crumbling existence together,” says Jake Dowzell. The current crisis has inspired these two topical tinglers.
Meanwhile, a Tingle fan has found a way to show love through Animal Crossing.
(21) SEEDING TIME. Nothing to do with sff, but I found it a relaxing report.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter JJ, Mike Kennedy, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]
(1) IF YOU CAN’T DO THE TIME. Steven James “op-ed from the future” for the New York Times,“Criminals Should Serve Their Sentences Psychologically”, explains how that would work. (It’s part of a series in which sff authors and others write Op-Eds that “they imagine we might read five, 10, 50 or even 200 years from now.”)
…It’s time that we stop allowing our justice system to hand out sentences that we know a person cannot possibly serve. Imagine spending two thousand years in solitary confinement. That’s what we’re currently sentencing people to — we just don’t expect the prisoner to be alive to serve it. It has been argued that we should sentence someone for each crime committed (hence the 50-year sentences for every murder) to ensure that all victims’ families receive justice. I agree. The victims and their families deserve to see justice carried out. But these meaninglessly long sentences aren’t justice — they’re a mockery of it.
Yes, those who commit such abhorrent crimes deserve to be punished. And yes, they deserve to serve the entire sentences that they’re given. Otherwise, our criminal justice system would either be giving perpetrators prison terms that no one intends them to serve or sentences that could only be completed if they lived for thousands of years — neither of which is a rational pursuit of justice. We know that a person cannot live for dozens or hundreds of lifetimes, but what if they could perceive themselves to have lived that long? What if they could have the perception that thousands of years have passed?
…The selling point of Lord Foul’s Bane, back in the day, was the way it elaborated a charming, hippyish Tolkienian fantasy realm (called ‘The Land’) only to flag-up horriblenesses of a kind Tolkien would never countenance—for example, Thomas Covenant, leperous visitor from our world and the series protagonist, starts his sojourn in The Land by raping someone. It was the first intimation of what was to become Grimdark, I suppose, although it would presumably read as thin stuff to today’s more committed and Sadean Grimdarkster.
The other notable thing about Donaldson was his prose, what David Langford somewhere calls his ‘knurred and argute vocabulary’, an attempt to elevate the idiom of Fantasy that crashes precipitously into the ceiling of the Ludicrous: ‘they were featureless and telic, like lambent gangrene. They looked horribly like children’ [White Gold Wielder] and the like.
…Now, though, Donaldson has stepped back from such gaudier excesses of style. Both volumes of his new Fantasy series, The Great God’s War [Seventh Decimate (2017) and The War Within (2019)] are written in a markedly plainer prose, a gambit in which the advantage of not being actively fucking ridiculous must be balanced against the disadvantage of positive dullness. Swings, we might say, and roundabouts, although in this instance there are rather more roundabouts than swings.
(3) TWO TO TWAIN UP. I linked to Lionel’s Star Trek
train in January, but courtesy of Andrew Porter here’s a much better
set of images to show what makes them entertaining.
This year, Lionel wanted to Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before” and offer an out-of-this-world line of iconic Star Trek offerings! Whether you are a lifetime Star Trek fan, or new to the fandom, our Star Trek LionChief Set and add on cars are sure to be some of the most classic pieces on your layout. Let your true Star Trek heart “Live Long and Prosper,” and don’t miss out on these amazing offerings.
(4) RECAP. [Item by Daniel Dern.] The Magicians S5E12: “Fillory’s Extraordinary Playlist” aired
March 25 on Syfy.
(Actual title, “The
Balls”) Not the final-final episode quite yet – this is the penultimate,
with the season and series finale scheduled for April 1, 2020 — but this is
the last musical episode. In this episode, as an unintended/unexpected
side-effect of a group communications spell to aid in planning a heist, the
gang periodically “goes full Glee,” with (unlike in Zoe’s
Extraordinary Playlist) all the under-the-influencers aware of what’s going
I’m only partway (and one musical
number) into the episode so far, FWIW.
(5) ONE FIRST AFTER ANOTHER. Here’s video of Joe Siclari’s
conversation with legendary First Fandom Hall of Famer Bob Madle at Philcon in
2013, via Fanac.org.
A science fiction reader and fan since the early 1930s, Bob Madle has been a part of the SF field for almost 90 years. He has done it all – he’s pubbed his ish, worked on conventions, been a TAFF fan fund winner, a worldcon Fan Guest of Honor, and one of the best known book dealers in science fiction. His encyclopedic command of the field is legendary. Bob is the one that named the Hugos (and he talks here about how the awards came to be). In this 2013 interview by fan historian Joe Siclari, Bob talks about it all, from his first entry into fandom to his experiences across the years.
(6) PENDERECKI OBIT. Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki,
whose original instrumental music was used in such genre films as The
Exorcist and The Shining, has died at the age of 86. The
WIRE tribute promises, “Even if his name doesn’t sound all
that familiar, you’ve almost certainly heard his work in a famous movie
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 29, 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 but that never happened. Interesting note: The uncredited human form of Isis was portrayed by actress, dancer, and contortionist April Tatro, not Victoria Vetri, 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.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 29, 1930 — John Astin, 90. He is best-known for playing as Gomez Addams in Addams Family, reprising it on the Halloween withtheNew 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.
Born March 29, 1938 — Barry Jackson. I’ve been good, with not a Doctor Who performer in several days, so now you’ll get one. Or maybe several if I’m feeling generous. He appeared in the series during the time of the First Doctor, in “The Romans” and in “Mission to the Unknown” which served as a prelude to “The Daleks’ Master Plan”. He would also played Drax, a school pal of the Doctor, in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Armageddon Factor.“ (Died 2013.)
Born March 29, 1943 — Eric Idle, 77. 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 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.
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.)
Born March 29, 1950 — Robbie Coltrane, 70. I first saw him playing Dr. Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald on Cracker way back in the Ninties. Not genre, but an amazing role none-the-less. He was Valentin Dmitrovich Zhukovsky in GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough, with a much less prominent role as a man at an airfield in Flash Gordon being his first genre role. Being Rubeus Hagrid in the Potter franchise was his longest running genre gig. He’s also voiced both Mr. Hyde in the Van Helsing film and Gregory, a mouse, in The Tale of Despereaux film.
Born March 29, 1955 — Marina Sirtis, 65. Counselor Deanna Troi in the Trekverse. Waxwork II: Lost in Time as Gloria is her true genre film role followed shortly by a one-off on the The Return of Sherlock Holmes series as Lucrezia. And then there’s her mid Nineties voice acting as Demona on Gargoyles, possibly her best role to date. Skipping some one-offs on various genre series, her most recent appearance was on Picard where she and Riker are happily married.
Born March 29, 1956 — Mary Gentle, 64. 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?
Born March 29, 1957 — Elizabeth Hand, 63. 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.
Born March 29, 1957 — Yolande Palfrey. Yes, another Doctor Who performer. She was Janet in “Terror of the Vervoids”, a Sixth Doctor story. She was also in Dragonslayer as one of its victims, She was Veton in the “Pressure Point” episode of Blake’s 7 and she shows as Ellie on The Ghosts of Motley Hall series. She died far too young of a brain tumor. (Died 2011.)
Born March 29, 1968 — Lucy Lawless, 52. 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. Let’s just say that her acting may not have been why folks watched those latter series to see her.
(9) THINKING ABOUT OUR FRIEND, MICHAEL J. WALSH. [Item
by Martin Morse Wooster.] A character in the episode of The Frankie Drake Mysteries
I saw yesterday was named “Michael Walsh.” In the episode,
first broadcast in Canada in 2018. Walsh was an authenticator at the Field
Museum who was sent to Toronto to verify a rare piece of Incan pottery, except
he was killed and someone pretending to be Walsh was going to show up and
replace the real piece of pottery with a fake.
lines as “Michael Walsh is running the con” reminded me that renowned
Baltimore fan Michael Walsh has chaired Worldcons and World Fantasy Cons.
My favorite line was “I want you to know that Michael Walsh is tucked away
at the Bethany Funeral Home.”
Writers around the globe are gathering—virtually—to raise their spirits and keep creating through an initiative called StayHomeWriMo. Sponsored by National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), the organizers of the annual November write-a-thon in which authors pen a novel draft in a month, StayHomeWriMo invites writers to find comfort in their creativity and stay inside while the battle with COVID-19 continues.
The initiative launched on March 23 and will run “as long as it’s relevant,” says National Novel Writing Month’s executive director, Grant Faulkner. Each day writers can participate by visiting the StayHomeWriMo website or its social media channels for a daily checklist of four activities.
(11) STAY IN TOUCH. Essence
of Wonder with Gadi Evron has a mission: “In these times of Covid-19
isolation we create online live sessions to explore interesting topics with
interesting people.” Read descriptions and participant lists of planned
Some of this info and offers may
not necessarily be new. (It’s a paywalled site, so I’m conveying the essential
Note: Probably they all require
you to create and account and provide a credit card number. Based on pre-C
experiences, I suggest that if you don’t plan to continue a subscription, do
the cancellation by the end of Week 3, to allow the site’s processing time to
digest your “thanks but don’t start charging me.”
Consider doing the cancel like a
day after you sign up (but read the rules first). For example, according
to The Verge, “CBS also allows you to cancel the plan
immediately and still use the entire month…To do that, head over to the CBS
All Access account page, scroll down to the ‘Subscription’ line of the ‘Subscription
& Billing’ section, and hit ‘Cancel Subscription.'”
I’m including some of my own
what-to-watch suggestions. (My apologies if I mis-remember what’s where.)
Netflix: Lost In Space.
Amazon: Bosch (from Michael Connolly’s books). The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. Glow. The Boys. The Expanse.
CBS All Access (Free access through April 23, if I understand correctly, use “GIFT”, see https://t.co/i2IfFQN3I8 for more.) Star Trek: Picard. Star Trek: Discovery. The Good Fight (all 3 seasons) and more.
ACORN TV (Code FREE30): Murdoch Mysteries. Miss Fisher Mysteries (including the just-released Miss F movie.)
AMC’s Shudder (Code “SHUTIN” — scary and horror stuff, apparently.
(13) BEWARE PICARD SPOILERS.
Interesting posts abound analyzing the conclusion of Picard’s first season.
It’s possible that even quoting their headlines is too much – so YOU ARE WARNED!
(14) STAR TREK REVIVAL. This video should be safer – surely
you’ve seen all these movies by now. (Or if you haven’t, won’t give a hoot.) “The
Story of Star Trek’s Miraculous Resurrection – Movies with Mikey.”
Stardate 47634.44- Mikey discusses the resurrection of Star Trek after the cancellation of TOS, and examines all 6 of the original films.
(15) ‘BOY BRADBURY. Those who didn’t read Playboy for
the articles may have missed these:
The pencil and ink art by Alex Raymond, the creator of the strip, is expected to sell in the range of $400,000 to $600,000 but its historical significance could push it higher.
Or at least it could have. With America now in the throes of the pandemic, auction houses don’t know how collectors are feeling.
“I could have seen this go for a million but now I don’ t know,” says Profiles CEO Joe Maddalena. “In the last 30 days the world has changed. We’re truly in uncharted territory.”
There is some sign for optimism. Last week, Heritage Auctions saw a rare 1933 poster for Universal Pictures’ The Invisible Man sell for $182,000, with spirited bidding that exceeded the initial estimates of $125,000.
(17) A LONG, LONG, TIME AGO RIGHT NOW. If you’re still looking
for something to help you fill the idle hours… In the Washington Post, David Betancourt gives a
definitive chronology of all the Star Wars movies, animations, comics, and TV
shows, including what you should watch between episodes two and three and where
the Star Wars comics fit in the grand scheme. “The
ultimate guide to your Star Wars binge”.
…Now, when a lot of us are spending more hours indoors than ever, we have the entirety of the Star Wars entertainment catalogue at our fingertips. And with a new season of “The Mandalorian” not coming until this fall, revisiting the finer moments of this far away galaxy with a good stream or two doesn’t seem like the worst idea. Especially if your viewing of “The Rise of Skywalker” felt like a disturbance in The Force….
(18) GOODNIGHT FILE. Tuck yourself in and listen to “’Goodnight
Moon’ as read by LeVar Burton to Neil deGrasse Tyson.” Arranged by @Audible,
When Star Trek actor LeVar Burton took to Twitter to explain his fruitless efforts in trying to find public domain short stories to read to audiences at home, superstar scribe Neil Gaiman answered the call.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse
Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, N., and Chip Hitchcock
for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of
the day Andrew.]