(1) MEMBERS WILL HEAR FROM GLASGOW 2024. Glasgow 2024 told Facebook readers they will shortly be emailing all WSFS Only Members and Unconverted Friends with personalized instructions on how to become an Attending member, which will save people between £20 and £50 on what it will cost to become an Attending Member after the end of April.
Those who are not already members but plan on attending Glasgow 2024 in-person you should become a member before the end of April when, for example, Adult rates will rise from £170 to £190. If this is too much to pay out right now, by opting into the installment plan people can fix the rate at £170 and pay over time.
If people want help joining, or want to know their current status, email [email protected]
(2) FURRY CON INTERRUPTED BY BOMB THREAT. On Friday, the first day of Motor City Furry Con in Ypsilanti, MI Fox 2 News says the con was evacuated after a reported bomb threat. However, nothing was found and the con resumed for the rest of the weekend.
WWJ News Radio interviewed people who were there: “Evacuations underway at Motor City Furry Con in Ypsilanti”.
…Speaking to the crowd, a man who identified himself as chairperson for the convention said organizers received an email from an unidentified person who “actually did threaten us with a bomb.”
The chairperson added: “What’s going on right now is we’ve got the police here to sweep the hotel. There’s gonna go and investigate — probably your rooms, I’m sorry — but they are gonna look through the hotel and make sure we are safe.”
Cassidy, who traveled to Michigan from Vancouver for the event, said the police showed up as everyone was evacuating. Eventually, officers ushered everyone away from the hotel onto a nearby golf course.
“There wasn’t really a large panic because in some ways the furry fandom is unfortunately getting used to this. It’s kind of becoming part of daily life to some degree, I think where we all understand that someone can just call something in,” Cassidy said.
“And this is actually the third time at a convention this month that there’s been a police presence.”
(3) IT’S THE PITS. Cora Buhlert has posted a new Masters of the Universe action figure photo story on her blog. “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘The Prisoner of Castle Grayskull’”.
Like any good castle, the mystical Castle Grayskull from Masters of the Universe also has a dungeon and indeed the Castle Grayskull playset has always been equipped with a practical trapdoor that allows you to drop intruders from the throne room straight down into the dungeon.
However, beneath the regular dungeon of Castle Grayskull, there is also a second, deeper dungeon that extends steadily downwards, because Castle Grayskull sits on top of a bottomless abyss named the Dwell of Souls. This lower dungeon is populated by all sorts of monsters and represented in all versions of the Castle Grayskull playset by a sticker of a metal grate with all sorts of monsters trying to get out. In many ways, this is reminiscent of the portal to the underworld located underneath Castle Joiry in C.L. Moore’s stories “Black God’s Kiss” and “Black God’s Shadow” or the monster-infested dungeon underneath the Scarlet Citadel from the eponymous Conan story by Robert E. Howar. I doubt this is a coincidence, because Masters of the Universe draws a lot of inspiration from vintage sword and sorcery and pulp SFF in general
Unsurprisingly, people have been fascinated by the dungeon sticker and the monsters living underneath Castle Grayskull for forty years now. I mean, it’s monster-filled dungeon beneath a castle, so who wouldn’t be fascinated by what’s down there? However, little was known about the creatures that live beneath Castle Grayskull until very recently….
(4) LOOKING AHEAD. Brian Keene shared this unexpected sentiment in his newsletter today, “Letters From the Labyrinth 326”:
…For many years, people in our business used to say “Don’t mess with Brian Keene’s family, Brian Keene’s money, or Brian Keene’s genre.” These days, I don’t give a crap about the genre. It can collapse into rubble tomorrow and that would be okay with me. That was how I found it when I arrived on the scene, and I did my part to rebuild it into something better, but the older I get, the more I’m convinced it needs to be reduced to ashes and rebuilt from time to time….
(5) THREE GENRE WINNERS. The winners of the 2023 Waterstones Children’s Book Prizes are genre books.
Nadia Mikail has been named Overall Winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for her debut novel, The Cats We Meet Along The Way, which also won the Older Reader’s Category.
M.T. Khan’s Nura and the Immortal Palace won the Younger Readers’ category and Kim Hillyard’s Gretel the Wonder Mammoth took the category for Illustrated Books
(6) CASTRO SEEKS FINANCIAL HELP. Adam-Troy Castro opened a GoFundMe for “Chemotherapy and Other Medical Expenses”.
I have run five fundraisers in about as many years, and I am getting used to apologizing for starting this well-worn route again. Believe me, I don’t want to.
Past Fundraisers included one when Judi needed ankle surgery, one when she and I lost our home, one when Judi died and left me penniless, one when car troubles and medical expenses loomed.
I have just closed that last fundraiser because events have yet again changed.
In September, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer, a tumor the size of a fist.
I required scans, iron infusions, many visits, and lots of arguing with my insurance provider.
When the tumor was removed in December, I lost a foot of bowel and discovered that the category-3 tumor had begun to spread to my lymph notes. In late January I will commence chemotherapy.
And this is where I am, at the beginning of another year’s deductible.
This is what I have been told: the entire process of chemotherapy will fall under my deductible. 800 dollars per treatment for six months. I will also require post-surgical scans, more tests and iron infusions. plus lots of unforeseeable disbursements to take care of me while I endure what will be a bumpy ride. There will be drugs to manage the symptoms, some quite expensive. And then I will need many check-ups to see if the treatment is effective.
At the same time, a separate issue but a real one, I am rapidly going blind from cataracts. Treatment for that has been delayed as the cancer takes precedent. That will involve outpatient surgery.
So yeah, right now, holding on to life is costing more than it costs to live.
And here’s the thing.
I know that this is another round of “Adam is in trouble.”
I would rather not be having one. Trust me. I would so much love to do things like travel.
I am more grateful for prior assistance than I can possibly tell you.
But this is what is going on, and I thank you, so thank you, for considering even the smallest donation to what is shaping up to be the battle of my life, only a year and a half removed from the loss of Judi and what I previously imagined to be the battle of my life….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1959 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Some truly great things come in small servings, and it is with Robert A. Heinlein’s “All You Zombies-“. First published by the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in the March 1959 issue after it was rejected by Playboy. It actually had a previous smaller release in The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag on Gnome Press.
It develops themes that were in a previous work, “By His Bootstraps”, published in the October 1941 issue of Astounding Science Fiction under the pen name Anson MacDonald.
So given its shortness and the possibility, however remote I’ll admit, that some Filer might have not experienced it, I won’t say anything about it. All will I say is that I love the story and think that it’s one of his best.
The Australian 2014 Predestination film was based upon this story. The film which stars Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook gets a stellar eighty-four rating from the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
Spider Robinson does a brilliant narration of it, and I know it’s been done as an audio work quite a number of times going back decades. Anyone care to list them?
And now our quite amazing Beginning…
All You Zombies—” 2217 Time Zone V (set) 7 Nov 1970 NYC—“ Pop’s Place”: I was polishing a brandy snifter when the Unmarried Mother came in. I noted the time—10.17 p.m. zone five or eastern time November 7th, 1970. Temporal agents always notice time & date; we must.
The Unmarried Mother was a man twenty-five years old, no taller than I am, immature features and a touchy temper. I didn’t like his looks—I never had—but he was a lad I was here to recruit, he was my boy. I gave him my best barkeep’s smile.
Maybe I’m too critical. He wasn’t swish; his nickname came from what he always said when some nosy type asked him his line: “I’m an unmarried mother.” If he felt less than murderous he would add: “—at four cents a word. I write confession stories.”
If he felt nasty, he would wait for somebody to make something of it. He had a lethal style of in-fighting, like a female cop—one reason I wanted him. Not the only one.
He had a load on and his face showed that he despised people more than usual. Silently I poured a double shot of Old Underwear and left the bottle. He drank, poured another.
I wiped the bar top. “How’s the ‘Unmarried Mother’ racket?”
His fingers tightened on the glass and he seemed about to throw it at me; I felt for the sap under the bar. In temporal manipulation you try to figure everything, but there are so many factors that you never take needless risks.
I saw him relax that tiny amount they teach you to watch for in the Bureau’s training school. “Sorry,” I said. “Just asking, ‘How’s business?’ Make it ‘How’s the weather?’”
He looked sour. “Business is okay. I write ’em, they print ’em, I eat.”
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 26, 1850 — Edward Bellamy. Looking Backward: 2000–1887 is really the only work that he’s remembered for today. He wrote two other largely forgotten works, Dr. Heidenhoff’s Process and Miss Ludington’s Sister: A Romance of Immortality. (Died 1898.)
- Born March 26, 1920 — Alex Comfort. No smirking please as we’re adults here. At least allegedly. Yes, he’s the author of The Joy of Sex but he did do some decidedly odd genre work as well. Clute at EoSF notes that his “first genuine sf novel, Come Out to Play (1961), is a near-future Satire on scientism narrated by a smug sexologist, whose Invention – a potent sexual disinhibitor jokingly called 3-blindmycin (see Drugs) – is accidentally released over Buckingham Palace at the Slingshot Ending, presumably causing the English to act differently than before.” (Died 2000.)
- Born March 26, 1924 — Peter George. Welsh author, most remembered for the late Fifties Red Alert novel, published first as Two Hours To Doom and written under the name of Peter Bryant. The book was the basis of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. (Died 1966.)
- Born March 26, 1931 — Leonard Nimoy. I really don’t need to say who he played on Trek, do I? Did you know his first role was as a zombie in Zombies of the Stratosphere? Or that he did a a lot of Westerns ranging from Broken Arrow in which he played various Indians to The Tall Man in which at least his character had a name, Deputy Sheriff Johnny Swift. His other great genre role was on Mission: Impossible as The Great Paris, a character whose real name was never revealed, who was a retired magician. It was his first post-Trek series. He of course showed up on the usual other genre outings such as The Twilight Zone, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Outer Limits, Night Gallery and Get Smart. And then there’s the matter of “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins”. If you find it on the web, do not link to it here as all copies up are illegally there. (Died 2015.)
- Born March 26, 1953 — Christopher Fowler. I started reading him when I encountered his Bryant & May series which though supposedly not genre does feature a couple of protagonists who are suspiciously old. Possibly a century or more now. The mysteries may or may not have genre aspects but are wonderfully weird. Other novels by him are I’d recommend are Roofworld and Rune which really are genre, and Hell Train which is quite delicious horror. (Died 2023.)
- Born March 26, 1950 — K. W. Jeter, 73. Farewell Horizontal may or may be punk of any manner but it’s a great read. Though I generally loathe such things, Morlock Night, his sequel to The Time Machine, is well-worth reading reading. I’ve heard good things about his Blade Runner sequels but haven’t read them. Opinions?
- Born March 26, 1985 — Keira Knightley, 38. To my surprise, and this definitely shows I’m not a Star Wars geek, she was Sabé, The Decoy Queen, in The Phantom Menace. Next up for her is Princess of Thieves, a loose adaptation of the Robin Hood legend. Now I didn’t see that but I did see her in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl as Elizabeth Swann. (She’s in several more of these films.) I saw her as Guinevere, an odd Guinevere indeed, in King Arthur. Her last role I must note was as The Nutcracker and the Four Realms in which she was the Sugar Plum Fairy!
(9) WHY DID THEY BLOCK ME? John Scalzi supplies the answer for one Twitter user.
(10) FACING YOUR DEMONS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Yup. It’s a real thing. I heard about it on Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! “Facing the demons: can Dungeons & Dragons therapy heal real-life trauma?” in the Guardian.
…According to practitioners, D&D can be used to treat everything from exploring gender – you can take on a character whose identity is completely foreign to yours – to recovering from traumatic events. “Trauma disconnects us from ourselves, and one of the first things we get disconnected from is our imagination and creativity,” Cassie Walker, a clinical social worker, told Wired last year. Role-playing has the potential to lighten up therapy sessions, and invigorate clients whose expressiveness may have been dulled by past events.
Today, Connell is especially interested in working with young women and girls to use the game to build self-esteem and assertiveness through play. “It’s a great place to practice skills and step into those aspirational traits to be the person you want,” she said….
(11) INTERSTELLAR. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Science fiction (and science nonfiction) author, Les Johnson (whose day job is at NASA), was recently interviewed via email for an article in Forbes about interstellar travel. “NASA Technologist Talks What’s Needed For Interstellar Travel”.
What should we be doing to make interstellar travel possible?
“We need to bring back funding for basic research and development and run away from the notion that all R&D must have a near-term return on investment,” said Johnson.
Some form of warp drive is likely the most feasible way to enable realistic Star Trek-styled travel since each warp factor is a multiple of the speed of light cubed. As Johnson explains in “A Traveler’s Guide to the Stars,” Warp drive “uses tremendous energies to change the shape of space-time, allowing the ship to cross normal, albeit warped/compressed/expanded space very quickly.”
In a now-famous 1994 refereed paper, Mexican theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre describes a warp drive that “works mathematically and would allow a starship to appear to be traveling faster than light, while not really doing so,” Johnson notes in his book.
(12) SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME. “Mathematicians Discovered a New 13-Sided Shape That Can Do Remarkable Things” at Popular Mechanics. See image at the link. (There’s also more discussion in a Twitter thread that starts here.)
Computer scientists found the holy grail of tiles. They call it the “einstein,” one shape that alone can cover a plane without ever repeating a pattern.
And all it takes for this special shape is 13 sides.
In the world of mathematics, an “aperiodic monotile”—also known as an einstein based off a German phrase for one stone—is a shape that can tile a plane, but never repeat.
“In this paper we present the first true aperiodic monotile, a shape that forces aperiodicity through geometry alone, with no additional constrains applied via matching conditions,” writes Craig Kaplan, a computer science professor from the University of Waterloo and one of the four authors of the paper. “We prove that this shape, a polykite that we call ‘the hat,’ must assemble into tilings based on a substitution system.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]