(1) JUSTICE FOR SYLVIA ANDERSON. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Last night’s BBC Radio 4 arts programme, Front Row, devoted a substantive amount of time to the airbrushing of Sylvia Anderson from Anderson productions by Gerry Anderson and then the Anderson estate. This included unlawful contracts that lost her many years of royalties. Absolutely shocking. “Richard Eyre’s The Snail House; Sylvia Anderson and women in TV; the late Jean-Luc Godard”.
The name Sylvia Anderson was recently invoked by Dr. Lisa Cameron MP, during a debate on gender equality in the media in Westminster Hall. The late Sylvia Anderson was a pioneer in the male dominated world of television, co-creating Thunderbirds in the 1960s with her then husband Gerry. But her family say her name has often been omitted from credits and merchandise in the years since then. Samira speaks to Sylvia’s daughter Dee Anderson and Dame Heather Rabbatts, Chair of Time’s Up UK, who are campaigning for her legacy to be restored and to Barbara Broccoli, producer of the James Bond films, who remembers Sylvia as her mentor.
(2) PIECES OF CHICON 8. In episode 66 of the Octothorpe podcast, “Thank You, Steven”, John Coxon is in the fanzine lounge, Alison Scott is under a bison hat, and Liz Batty is good, thank you.
We chat to people in the fanzine lounge at Chicon 8. (Sorry about the background noise, and normal service resumes next week.)
Alt text. A purple square with “OCTOTHORPE 66” written at the bottom and inset, a photograph of John, Alison, and Liz. John is wearing a grey suit with a Hugo Award finalist pin and a matching purple tie and mask; Alison is wearing a black mask, a burgundy dress, and has glitter on her temple, and Liz is wearing a green dress and matching mask, a necklace by Vanessa Applegate, and a yellow shrug. They are against a backdrop which has alternating Hugo Award logos and Chicon 8 logos.
(3) ABOUT WORKSHOPS. Morgan Hazelwood shares notes about the Chicon 8 panel “Is a Writer’s Workshop Right For Me?” at Morgan Hazelwood: Writer In Progress.
Whether you’ve been writing for a while or dreaming of getting away and actually having time to write, many of us have wondered if a writer’s workshop was right for us.
At WorldCon 80, otherwise known as ChiCon8, I attended the panel: The Writing Workshop Workshop where moderator Erin Underwood led panelists Ian Muneshwar, Tegan Moor, James Patrick Kelly, and Caroline M Yoachim in a discussion aimed at answering that very question….
Hazelwood also presents the information in this YouTube video.
(4) TAKING COUNSEL OF THEIR FEARS. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The Atlantic has an interesting article about the backlash against casting actors of color in The Rings of Power, House of the Dragon, Sandman and all sorts of other things: “Fear of a Black Hobbit”.
Maybe you’ve heard that people are mad about Black actors being cast in Lord of the Rings. Or Game of Thrones. Or maybe it was Star Wars. Or perhaps Thor. Wait, maybe it was Titans, or Superman. The Witcher? Or maybe you heard that people are angry that Black Panther got made in the first place, because Wakanda is fictional, unlike one of those fantasy countries authors seem to think will seem more mysterious if you add enough accents or apostrophes, like Warthéréth’rién. (I just made that up.) Maybe you’re wondering why adults care about a Disney mermaid being Black.
Earlier this month, CNN published a news story featuring an interview with Brandon Morse, an editor for the right-wing website RedState, in which he complained that Amazon’s new Lord of the Rings show, The Rings of Power, is integrated: “He says ‘The Rings of Power’ producers have cast non-White actors in a story based on European culture and who look wildly different from how Tolkien originally described them,” CNN reported. “He says it’s an attempt to embed ‘social justice politics’ into Tolkien’s world.” Morse told CNN that “if you focus on introducing modern political sentiments, such as the leftist obsession with identity issues that only go skin deep, then you’re no longer focusing on building a good story.”
It’s worth noting how rapidly right-wing language about colorblind meritocracy melts away when it does not produce the desired results. Perhaps the actors cast were simply the most qualified? …
(5) RELATED WORK. Cora Buhlert’s new “Non-Fiction Spotlight” is about Story Matrices: Cultural Encoding and Cultural Baggage in Science Fiction and Fantasy a fascinating book about storytelling, writing, and worldbuilding by Gillian Polack.
What prompted you to write/edit this book?
Because I’m addicted to story, I wondered just how much of our invisible culture we carried in in the way we tell stories. I began to look at the world building we do and the paths we take when we tell stories and read them. What is the difference between story space for the reader and story space for the writer and, indeed, story space for the editor? As I addressed these questions, I discovered how very powerful genre literature is in our lives. Even those who have never read a science fiction novel have experienced the narratives we tell and the cultural material we embed into our stories.
I wanted to explain this: that genre literature is a powerful, powerful force, that culture is transmitted through story, that we can all think about story and through that thought have more control over what we accept from story. We can, in short, choose not to be bigots….
(6) WHAT’S AHEAD IN THE DESIGN FIELD? Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination’s event “Designing the Future with Applied Sci-Fi” will take place on Thursday, September 29, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. Eastern. Panelists include design fiction pioneer Julian Bleecker, speculative designer Anab Jain, narrative designer Alex McDowell, strategic foresight practitioner Radha Mistry, and futurist Brian David Johnson. The event will also feature opening remarks from the renowned science fiction (and nonfiction) author Bruce Sterling.
The event is the second in a series for the Applied Sci-Fi Project at ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination, which seeks to understand the influence of science fiction on technology and the people who build it, and to study the ways that sci-fi storytelling can a tool for innovation and foresight.
The event is free and open to everyone. Here is the registration link.
(7) TAKING ANOTHER CUT AT IT. The Hollywood Reporter declares, “Amazon’s ‘Blade Runner’ TV Series Officially Happening”.
Amazon’s Prime Video has given the green light to Blade Runner 2099, a limited series sequel to the iconic sci-fi film franchise. The series comes from Amazon Studios and Alcon Entertainment, which holds the rights to Blade Runner. Ridley Scott, who directed the classic 1982 film, will executive produce through his Scott Free Productions, while Silka Luisa (Apple TV+’s Shining Girls) will serve as showrunner….
Amazon announced it was developing Blade Runner 2099 in February. Its title implies it will be set 50 years after 2017’s film sequel Blade Runner 2049, directed by Denis Villeneuve, but story details are being kept quiet for now. The series will be the first live-action treatment of Blade Runner for TV; Adult Swim aired an anime series titled Blade Runner: Black Lotus that debuted in November 2021….
(8) A FONT OF KNOWLEDGE. Camestros Felapton is doing a highly scientific study to show that you can predict the genre of a book by the type face used on the cover. “The sans-serif genre axis part 2”. He’s not high, just his science is.
… “Science Fiction typically uses sans-serif fonts for titles” is a defensible claim — the proportion is high and the spread is relatively narrow compared with other genres….
(9) OUR MAN FLINT. The Alternate Historian does a beautiful tribute to the late author: “1632 by Eric Flint: What If Time Traveling Hillbillies Saved Europe?”.
Alternate historians love stranding people and places in the past because we want to see what happens when technology and ideas from the present are unleashed on earlier eras. And one novel would revolutionize these kind of stories and launch a new community of writers.
(10) MARGARET ANN BASTA (1951—2022). Margaret Basta who, with her twin sister Laura, published some of the earliest Star Trek fanzines, was found dead in her home on September 4. She was 69. Margaret was active in Detroit fandom in the Seventies, belonging to the Wayne Third Foundation. She and Laura were founders and officers of the Star Trek Association for Revival (S.T.A.R.). (Laura was nominated for a Best Fan Writer Hugo in 1974.) Margaret was later involved in Beauty and the Beast fandom.
Margaret died without provisions or funds for her burial and a friend has started a GoFundMe to pay for her burial expenses.
Hi, I’m Jan Feldmann; my best friend Margaret Basta died unexpectedly earlier this month. She left no provisions for a funeral or burial and her family cannot handle the expense. I loved her dearly for 50 years and want to see her ashes buried with dignity at Holy Sepulchre cemetary in Southfield MI. She was one of the first original Star Trek fans and organized several early ST fan conventions. She wrote fan fiction, collected and sold vintage jewelry, had a huge circle of friends all over the country, and made a lasting impression on countless people. Margaret was a wonderful lady and I hope you can help her on her final journey. $1500 will pay for the cremation and internment at Holy Sepulchre cemetary.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1991 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Eerie, Indiana series
You remember Joe Dante who has served us such treats as the Gremlin films, a segment of the Twilight Zone: The Movie (“It’s A Good Life”) and, errr, Looney Tunes: Back in Action? (I’ll forgive him for that because he’s a consultant on HBO Max prequel series Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai.)
And Dante was the creative consultant and director on a weird little horror SF series thirty-one years ago on NBC called Eerie, Indiana. Yes, delightfully weird. It was created by José Rivera and Karl Schaefer. For both it would be their first genre undertaking, though they would have a starry future, their work including Eureka, Goosebumps, The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story and Strange Luck to name but a few genre series that they’d work on in a major capacity.
SPOILER ALERT! REALLY I’M SERIOUS, GO AWAY
Hardly anyone there is normal. Or even possibly of this time and space. We have super intelligent canines bent on global domination, a man who might be the Ahab, and, in this reality, Elvis never died, and Bigfoot is fond of the forest around this small town.
There’s even an actor doomed to keep playing the same role over and over and over again, that of a mummy. They break the fourth wall and get him into a much happier film. Tony Jay played this actor.
Yes, they broke the fourth wall. That would happen again in a major way that I won’t detail here.
END SPOILER ALERT. YOU CAN COME BACK NOW.
It lasted but nineteen episodes as ratings were very poor.
Critics loved it. I’m quoting only one due to its length: “Scripted by Karl Schaefer and José Rivera with smart, sharp insights; slyly directed by feature film helmsman Joe Dante; and given edgy life by the show’s winning cast, Eerie, Indiana shapes up as one of the fall season’s standouts, a newcomer that has the fresh, bracing look of Edward Scissorhands and scores as a clever, wry presentation well worth watching.”
It won’t surprise you that at Rotten Tomatoes, that audience reviewers give it a rating of eighty-eight percent.
It is streaming on Amazon Prime, Disney+ and legally on YouTube. Yes legally on the latter.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born September 15, 1922 — Bob Anderson. He was the swordmaster who played Darth Vader in his fight scenes in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. He replaced David Prowse due to the actor’s unfortunate tendency to break lightsabers. Because of the height differences—Anderson was six one while Prowse was six inches taller, Anderson’s scenes were filmed from a lower angle to make him seem taller, or he stood on some small stilts or wore platform shoes. Anderson later did swordfighting choreography and training for films such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy (with Christopher Lee), the Zorro movies with Antonio Banderas and Die Another Day with stunt performer Jim Dowdall. (Died 2022.)
- Born September 15, 1924 — Henry Silva, 98. Here for his genre work — Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as Kane, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold as Argon, Amazon Women on the Moon as Himself (the “Bullshit or Not” segment, Cyborg – Il guerriero d’acciaio as ‘Hammer’, and Dick Tracy as ‘Influence’.
- Born September 15, 1925 — Carlos Rambaldi. Wnner of three Oscars: one Special Achievement Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in Seventies version of King Kong, and two Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects of Alien and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. He is best remembered for his work in those two last mentioned films, that is for the mechanical head-effects for the creature in Alien and the design of the title character of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. He designed the Worms in Dune. (Died 2012.)
- Born September 15, 1940 — Norman Spinrad, 82. I’ll admit that the only novel I’ve read by him is Bug Jack Barron. My bad. And I was fascinated to learn he wrote the script for Trek’s “The Doomsday Machine” episode which is an amazing story. So how is it that he’s never won a Hugo?
- Born September 15, 1943 — John M. Faucette. Published five novels and one short story. He left seven unpublished novels in various states of completion at his death. Two of his novels; Crown of Infinity and Age of Ruin, were published in the Ace Doubles series. None of his works are in print in digital or paper format currently including his Black Science Fiction anthology which he as an African-American SF writer was very proud of. (Died 2003.)
- Born September 15, 1956 — Elton T. Elliott, 66. Editor, publisher, reviewer. His solo fiction debut was “Lighting Candles on the River Styx” in Amazing (March 1991). His early novel-length work appeared in the 1980s in collaboration with Richard E.Geis under the pseudonym Richard Elliott. He edited Science Fiction Review from 1990 to 1992 which, yes, I remember reading at the time.
- Born September 15, 1960 — Kevin Roche, 62. Chaired Worldcon 76 in San Jose (2018). Prior to that he co-chaired Westercon 66 in Sacramento in 2013 and chaired Costume-Con 26 in San José in 2008. He’s a veteran costumer and masquerade emcee, who co-directed the 2011 Worldcon’s Masquerade as well as Masquerades at Anime Los Angeles, Westercon, and BayCon. Roche is a research scientist at IBM Research Almaden. He also was editor of Yipe! The Costume Fanzine of Record.
- Born September 15, 1962 — Jane Lindskold, 60. My first encounter with her was through the Zelazny novel she finished, Donnerjack. It’s excellent though how much is Zelazny is open to vigorous debate. Of her own novels, I recommend The Buried Pyramid, Child of a Rainless Year and Asphodel as being very good.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
- Agnes has some pecadillos as a author that make me wonder if she’s a relative of Writer X. It seems even more possible after reading this later strip.
- Lio shows that sometimes nature calls from very faraway places.
- The Far Side offers wordplay of mythic proportions.
(14) STUMPERS. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Randall Munroe on how he went from being a NASA roboticist to an answerer of weird questions. “The world’s funniest former NASA roboticist will take your questions”.
…Other “What If? 2” situations ring of the perilous: What are your chances of death-by-geyser at Yellowstone Park? What would the daily caloric human-intake needs be for a modern T. rex gone rogue in the boroughs of New York? And how catastrophic would it be if, as the children’s tune goes, all the raindrops were lemon drops and gumdrops?…
(15) CURRENT EVENTS. “Colonizing the Cosmos: Astor’s Electrical Future” at The Public Domain Review. “During America’s Gilded Age, the future seemed to pulse with electrical possibility. Iwan Rhys Morus follows the interplanetary safari that is John Jacob Astor’s A Journey in Other Worlds, a high-voltage scientific romance in which visions of imperialism haunt a supposedly ‘perfect’ future.”
…Luckily, one of them told us exactly how he imagined the century to come. In 1894, New York publishers D. Appleton and Company released A Journey in Other Worlds: A Romance of the Future, written by John Jacob Astor IV, one of America’s wealthiest men. The Astor clan had originally made their fortune in the fur trade, and had added to their millions through investment in land and property. In 1897, John Jacob would build the Astoria Hotel in New York, next door to the Waldorf, owned by his cousin William. The hotel was both a symbol of the Astor family’s wealth and a honeypot for New York’s fashionables (Tesla himself lived there until he was turfed out for failing to pay his bills). It’s Astor’s authorship that makes the book such a fascinating insight into the Gilded Age’s fantasies about its prosperous tomorrows….
(16) TURN OF THE SEASON. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] SF2 Concatenation’s autumnal edition is now up.
- Newscast for the Autumn 2022. This includes within it many key sections. See also the master newscast link index that connects to all its SF/F genre and science news sub-sections.
- Batman – Cinematic portrayals – Mark Yon
- Ghost stories from Asia – Steven French
- My Top Ten Scientists – John. W. Armstrong (physicist & SF author)
- Is Science Destroying Itself? – Jonathan Cowie
- Chillercon UK 2022 – Ian Hunter
- Reclamation – The 2022 British Eastercon – Arthur Chappell
- 10 years ago. One from the archives: Unconventional – New Zealand’s 2012 National Convention – June Young
- 25 years ago. One from the archives: Lucien – The First Arab SF Mini-convention Reviewed – Kawthar Ayed
- Amongst our Weapons – Ben Aaronovitch
- Amongst our Weapons (2nd review) – Ben Aaronovitch
- One Foot in the Fade – Luke Arnold
- The Atlas Six – Olivie Blake
- Fellstones; – Ramsey Campbell
- Scorpion; – Christian Cantrell
- Scorpion; (2nd review) – Christian Cantrell
- The Book of Sand – Theo Clare
- Judge Dredd: Blaze of Glory – Al Ewing et al
- Chivalry; – Neil Gaiman & Colleen Doran
- Chivalry; (2nd review) – Neil Gaiman & Colleen Doran
- Land of the Dead: A Stoker’s Wilde Novel – Steven Hopstaken & Melissa Prusi
- The Space Between Worlds – Micaiah Johnson
- All The Seas of the World – Guy Gavriel Kay
- Doctor Who: The Ruby’s Curse – Alex Kingston
- Aurora; – David Keopp
- The Soulmate Equation – Christina Lauren
- Sashay to the Centre of the Earth – Chris McCrudden
- The Flight of the Aphrodite – S. J. Morden
- The Daughter of Doctor Moreau – Silvia Moreno-Garcia
- The Last Crucible – J. D. Moyer
- The Last of Me – Sylvain Neuvel
- Braking Day -Adam Oyebanji
- Wolf Bane – Michelle Paver
- Expect Me Tomorrow – Christopher Priest
- Eversion; – Alastair Reynolds
- The Extinction Trails – A. G. Riddle
- Lost in Time – A. G. Riddle
- Skyward Flight: The Collection – Brandon Sanderson & Janci Patterson
- Off Target – Eve Smith
- Shards of Earth (3rd review) – Adrian Tchaikovsky
- Beasts & Creatures Myths & Tales – Tok Thompson (ed.)
- Judge Dredd: Mechanismo – Machine Law – John Wagner et al
Non-fiction SF/F & Popular Science
- Future Stories:A user’s guide to the future – David Christian
- The History of the Universe in 100 Stars – Florian Freistetter
- Planting Clues: How plants solve crimes – David J. Gibson
- Existential Physics: A Scientist’s guide to life’s biggest questions – Sabine Hossenfelder
- Science Fiction: Voyage to the edge of imagination – Glyn Morgan
- The Primacy of Doubt: From climate change to quantum physics, how the science of uncertainty can help predict and understand our chaotic world – Tim Palmer
- About Writing: The authorised field guide for aspiring writers – Gareth L. Powell
- Packing For Mars: The curious science of life in the void – Mary Roach
- The Cosmic Oasis: The remarkable story of earth’s (sic) biosphere – Mark Williams & Jan Zalasiewicz
(17) SAY CHEESE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] “Webb telescope wows with first image of an exoplanet” in Nature.
The James Webb Space Telescope has taken its first picture of a planet beyond the Solar System — opening a window to understanding other worlds and underscoring the telescope’s immense capabilities.
The image (shown) is of a planet called HIP 65426 b, an object similar to Jupiter, but younger and hotter, that lies 107 parsecs from Earth in the constellation Centaurus. Although it looks like a pixelated light bulb, it is the first exoplanet image ever taken at deep infrared wavelengths, which allow astronomers to study the full range of a planet’s brightness and what it is made of (the star symbol marks HIP 65426 b’s star, whose light the telescope blocked).
“It gives us wavelengths we’ve never seen planets at before,” says Beth Biller, an astronomer at the University of Edinburgh, UK, and a member of the discovery team. The image was reported in a paper on a preprint server on 31 August (A. L. Carter et al. Preprint at https://arxiv.org/abs/2208.14990; 2022); the study has not been peer reviewed.
Astronomers know of more than 5,000 exoplanets, but they have taken pictures of only around 20. Imaging exoplanets directly is difficult, because they are often lost in the glare of the star around which they orbit.
But observing them at infrared wavelengths, as Webb does, helps to boost the contrast between star and planet. “You’re in the regime where planets are brightest and stars are dimmest,” says Aarynn Carter, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lead author of the preprint.
(18) SICK IN UTAH. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Someone had too good a room party…. “The Jurassic vomit that stood the test of time” at Nature.
Some 150 million years ago, towards the end of the Jurassic period, an unknown but probably small creature threw up a recent meal inside a pond in what is now Utah1.
Over the ages, the puke’s contents were fossilized and remained untouched. That is, until they reached the hands of John Foster at the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum in Vernal and his colleagues.
The researchers found the fossil at the ‘Jurassic Salad Bar’, a site where they’ve unearthed more than 300 fossilized plants. The specimen is small, not much larger than 1 square centimetre in area. But it’s densely packed with more than 20 undigested bones and some puzzling items that might well be soft tissues or part of the vomit material.
Some of the bones, including some vertebrae, possibly belonged to a tadpole. Others were once part of frogs. And a tiny femur might have come from a salamander. Given the contents and the setting they were found in, researchers strongly suspect that a fish might have been the one to throw them up.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: 300th Episode,” the Screen Junkies’s EPIC Voice Guy salutes Ryan George for his 300th episode of “Pitch Meeting” by saying Ryan George is “the Canadian Ryan who doesn’t have six-pack abs.” George gets to repeat all the catchphrases from every episode (including “super easy, barely an inconvience”) and says that after 300 episodes the producer and the writer have turned from “poorly developed characters” into “psychopaths.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Joey Eschrich, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cora Buhlert.]