Powell is on the list of people who have been banned from Arisia. Prior to that he worked on Arisia over the past couple of decades in positions ranging from Division Head to logistics and art show help.
(2) UNCATCHABLE. Gideon Lewis-Kraus’ “Maybe We Already Have Runaway Machines”, a discussion of David Runciman’s The Handover: How We Gave Control of Our Lives to Corporations, States, and AIs, is a rather Strossian article in The New Yorker.
…Yet we citizens of modern states have always labored under the shadow of a partly mitigated alignment problem—a “mismatch between the drives of these artificial persons and the needs of the planet,” as Runciman describes it—that provides a frame, a vocabulary, and a sense of foreboding as we seek to process the automation on the horizon. The concern about unaligned machines is that even if we can program, so to speak, their ultimate ends, we can’t necessarily anticipate the instrumental subgoals they might pursue as an intermediate measure. If you instruct a machine to complete a task, the likeliest instrumental subgoal is to “gain control.” If the danger of the alignment problem seems indistinct or preposterous, Runciman suggests, you haven’t been paying attention….
“… States and corporations reflect two different sides of our contemporary fear of machines that have escaped human control. One is that we will build machines that we don’t know how to switch off, either because we have become too dependent on them or because we can’t find the off switch. That’s states. The other is that we build machines that self-replicate in ways that we can no longer regulate. They start spewing our versions of themselves to the point where we are swamped by them. That’s corporations….”
…Our selections range from debut works by emerging voices to new outings for canonical writers. They delve into everything from prisons to shipwrecks, ghost stories to extraterrestrials, American dreaming to American failures. Whether you’re into novels, short stories, memoirs, or nonfiction, we’ve covered the whole waterfront here with a bumper crop of incredible books. They’re all worth their weight in gold (believe us, we know exactly how much they weigh).
Below, here are Esquire’s 20 best books of the year…
Ranked number one:
Chain-Gang All-Stars, by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Ever since his breakout debut, Friday Black, we’ve been eagerly awaiting Adjei-Brenyah’s sophomore outing. Nearly five years later, it arrived this past spring, and it surpassed all expectations. In a dystopian United States, the prison-industrial complex has gone private, leaving incarcerated people with no choice but to compete for their freedom in the Criminal Action Penal Entertainment system. Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxxx” Stacker have traveled together for years as Links in the same Chain-Gang, but as Thurwar nears her freedom, she contemplates how to bring dignity to her multi-racial and multi-gendered coalition of fellow gladiators. Reading Chain-Gang All-Stars in a nation addicted to violent sports that brutalize athletes of color, Adjei-Brenyah’s acerbic vision lands like a lightning bolt of truth.
(5) WILKINS GOFUNDME. Cory Doctorow signal boosted an appeal to help Pacific Northwest bookseller Duane Wilkins.
Nearly every sf writer who’s ever toured the west coast knows Duane – he’s the encyclopedically knowledgeable sf buyer for the U Washington Bookseller, who has organized some of the best sf signings in Seattle history. He’s a force of nature.
He’s also broke. A two-week hospital stay left him drowning in medical debt – despite being insured! – and now he’s being threatened by a collection agency.
Now, Duane is forced into participating in one of the most barbaric of contemporary American rituals, fundraising to cover his medical debt. He’s raised $6k of the $10k he needs (I just pitched in $100).
If you can afford to help out someone who’s done so much for our community, please kick Duane whatever you can spare.
I told him that I’d help him relieve that debt and raise some extra funds for any future situation that might require aid.
That’s where you come in.
If you donate $10 or more, Grim Oak Press will email you free ebooks of our amazing anthologies Unfettered, Unfettered II, Unfettered III, Unbound, and Unbound II. These are filled with amazing SF&F short stories. Google them to view their incredible author line-ups.
And if you donate more than $20 to Duane’s GoFund Me, several of these writers are willing to give free ebooks of some of their novels. Starting with me and my newly-edited edition of The Dark Thorn.
I hope you will consider donating to Duane’s GoFundMe and help spread word about it. Together, we can help one of our best SF&F booksellers….
In this January’s Amazing, on page 138, there is an editorial—A Word from the Editor, it says, bylined Barry N. Malzberg—which suggests a different direction (or maybe I should just say “a direction”) for this magazine. First is some news. There will be no letter column; Malzberg would rather use the space for a story. Second, “the reprint policy of these magazines will continue for the foreseeable future,” per the publisher, but “A large and increasing percentage of space however will be used for new stories.”
Pointedly, the editor adds, “it is my contention that the majority of modern magazine science-fiction is ill-written, ill-characterized, ill-conceived and so excruciatingly dull as to make me question the ability of the writers to stay awake during its composition, much less the readers during its absorption. Tied to an older tradition and nailed down stylistically to the worst hack cliches of three decades past, science-fiction has only within the past five or six years begun to emerge from its category trap only because certain intelligent and dedicated people have had the courage to wreck it so that it could crawl free. . . . I propose that within its editorial limits and budget, Amazing and Fantastic will do what they can to assist this rebirth—one would rather call it transmutation—of the category and we will try to be hospitable to a kind of story which is still having difficulty finding publication in this country.”
(8) MEDICAL UPDATE. Erwin “Filthy Pierre” Strauss, who fell down some stairs at Smofcon thie weekend, suffered a broken wrist and was taken to New England Hospital, wrote Kevin Standlee yesterday. “They expect to keep him at least one more night. Sufford and Tony Lewis will retrieve him from the hospital when he is released.”
…Mr. Dorsey gave his books comic titles that reflected the blend of Jimmy Buffett and Raymond Chandler that filled their interiors.
“The Maltese Iguana,” published this year, was Mr. Dorsey’s most recent book.via HarperCollins
He reveled in the diversity of Florida — the dog tracks and swamps around Miami, the Redneck Riviera along the Panhandle, the morass of state politics in Tallahassee, the nostalgic weirdness of the Keys.
His novel “Atomic Lobster” (2008), Mr. Dorsey said in an interview with Powell’s Books, was “the dissection of a Florida neighborhood populated almost entirely by degenerates, con men, the terminally dysfunctional, golf freaks, trophy wives, and prescription-abusing retirees in Buicks tying up traffic. In other words, a documentary.”
Some people considered Serge to be Mr. Dorsey’s alter ego, but he corrected them. Serge was, he said, his ego, living the kind of life and doing the sorts of things he would love to do if not constrained by conscience and the law….
… Which is why The Cthulhu Helix works as a Lovecraftian novel. The characters are all conscious of Lovecraft’s legacy, but for them it’s all shorthand and metaphor, a way to frame and discuss these complex ideas and relationships without getting bogged down in Elder Signs and other minutiae. The particular approach Umehara took is fairly Derlethian, but that’s not surprising considering when and where it was published….
… It’s brilliant casting, if I may gush for a moment. I love him in both franchises. I think part of the appeal is that David Tennant’s voice is pretty recognizable; “Doctor Who” fans have a built-in feeling that this is a wise person who has centuries of universal knowledge behind whatever he’s saying. I suppose you could say the same thing for fans of “Good Omens” (where he plays a fallen angel who has been around for all of time) who only discovered Tennant’s Huyang in “Ahsoka.” Of course, his performances are great across the board, but there is something to be said for many audience members having immediate feelings about him from his past work….
…The activities included coloring in a mandala, doodling within or around a circle marked on a paper, and having a free-drawing session, each for three minutes, with rest periods in between. During all three activities, there was an increase in blood flow in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which forms a part of the wiring for our brain’s reward circuit.
“This shows that there might be inherent pleasure in doing art activities independent of the end results,” said the study’s lead author.
The advantages of creating art go beyond just the pleasure of the activity itself. According to surveys before and after the art-making activities, participants who engaged in art-making felt more creative and were better able to solve problems….
(16) AI CON GAME. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4’s documentary programme File on Four has taken a fascinating look at how artificial intelligence (A.I.) is being used by criminals to con victims. A crime that, if written as a story a decade ago, would be decidedly SFnal. A.I.-generated deep fakes are no longer restricted to images but also to voices and even video. In the programme, the presenter gets a researcher to train an A.I. to simulate the presenter’s voice and then gets the A. I. to phone his mother: someone who arguably best knows what his voice sounds like. His mother is completely taken in by the A.I. voice.
The programme reveals that the banks, which have been using voice identification as an added security measure, are in an arms race with criminals. One A.I. researcher has even refused to let his bank use voice identification on his account!
Artificial intelligence, or AI, makes it possible for machines to learn – and in the future it will perform many tasks now done by humans. But are criminals and bad actors ahead of the curve? AI is already being used to commit fraud and other crimes by generating fake videos and audio; fast emerging threats that form just part of a potential new crime wave. File on 4 investigates.
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Ersatz Culture, Steven French, Andrew (not Werdna), Kathy Sullivan, Kevin Standlee, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) USE THESE EMAILS FOR SUBMISSIONS TO WSFS BUSINESS MEETING. Donald Eastlake III, Presiding Officer of the 2023 WSFS Business Meeting, announced that if anyone is having trouble sending email to businessmeeting (at) chengduworldcon.com, there is an alternative email address available for the submission of new business: ChengduNewBusiness (at) pobox.com.
The general deadline for new business is September 19, Chengdu time.
(2) GET IA TO TAKE DOWN YOUR BOOKS. From the Authors Guild: “Update: How to Tell Internet Archive to Remove Your Books”. “The court’s decision in the Open Library lawsuit made it clear that making full-text copyrighted books available for free without permission is copyright infringement. Here’s how any author can demand the Internet Archive take down any titles that are still on its website.”
In March, four major publishers scored a resounding victory in their copyright lawsuit against Internet Archive and its so-called Open Library program. The court decisively ruled that Internet Archive’s practice of scanning books and making them freely available on its website is copyright infringement and does not constitute fair use. While the Authors Guild was not a party to the lawsuit, we supported the publishers throughout the litigation and welcomed the court’s clear rejection of Internet Archive’s “Controlled Digital Lending” theory.
Following the decision, the court directed the parties to propose specific steps that Internet Archive must take to remedy its infringement. The parties agreed, in a proposed consent judgment, that Internet Archive should be subject to a permanent court-ordered injunction barring it from making the publishers’ books available online. We have heard from some authors who are concerned that the injunction is limited to books in which the four publisher plaintiffs hold copyrights and does not cover books whose copyrights are owned by the author or a smaller publisher. Unfortunately, this case was not a class action, and therefore only the actual parties in the case can be bound by the court’s order. We were surprised and disappointed, however, that the court adopted Internet Archive’s proposal to limit the injunction to books that the publishers have made available in electronic form. As we explained, limiting the injunction in this way fails to recognize that the author has the right to decide in what formats they wish to make their books available, and that the market for a print book can be harmed by an unauthorized electronic edition as easily as the market for an ebook can.
But regardless of the scope of the injunction, the court’s decision on the main legal issue remains in place: Making full-text copyrighted books available for free on the open internet without permission is copyright infringement. That is just as true for books owned by self-published authors and micro publishers as it is for the books owned by the publishers in this case.
We therefore expect Internet Archive to comply with demands by authors who hold copyrights in their books (e.g., self-published authors and where rights are reverted) to take down any titles that are still on its website….
A model takedown letter and full directions are at the link.
Singer, story teller and seven-times Radio 2 Folk Awards winner, Karine Polwart brings together her love of science, history and the natural world.
Karine looks up into the dark for a story of discovery, diversity and the righting of a historical wrong.
When young geologist turned planetary scientist Annie Lennox surveyed the night sky of her Aberdeenshire home, little did she realise that one day she’d be giving names to landmarks on our closest neighbours in the solar system. In 2021, while studying for her PhD, Annie discovered an enormous 50km wide crater near Mercury’s southern pole. An area that had never been seen in sunlight until until the Messenger mission of 2015.
The crater’s distinctive spectral colour and shape caught her eye. As the first person to see it, Annie has the honour of naming it. An accomplished singer and harpist, Annie named it ‘Nairne’ after the 17th-century Scottish poet and songwriter Lady Carolina Nairne.
All the craters of Mercury are named after famous artists, Burns and Pushkin are there along with Bach and Boccaccio. And it was this dominance of white men that Annie wanted to challenge. The International Atstonomical Union’s naming conventions around new discoveries have proven themselves inherently sexist and exclusionary and Annie felt compelled to do waht she could to rebalance it. In her lifetime, Lady Carolina Nairne was responsible for such staples of Scottish folk singing as ‘Charlie is my darlin’ and ‘Caller Herrin’, yet she’s largely unknown, publishing much of her work anonymously or under pseudonyms. Now there is a corner of the universe that will forever be a testament to her talents.
…A bugaboo I discovered when I began collecting the books published by the otherwise exemplary Haikasoru imprint has to do with the orientation of the book’s title on the spine of the book with respect to the text inside the book. In short, if the title on the spine is right way up, I expect the words on the page to be right way up when I open the book. Opening the text to discover I am holding it upside down kicks me out of the reading experience. Haikasoru eventually stopped orienting their titles in an idiosyncratic way, yay…but until then it was a distraction.
Don’t let that stop you from running out and buying every book in the Haikasoru line. The works themselves earned their places on my shelves….
Award-winning indie publisher Levine Querido is hosting an auction to stay open as book banning takes a toll on publishers. Unfortunately, Levine Querido is exactly the type of publisher most likely to be badly impacted by the rise of book banning across the United States. This isn’t only because it’s an independent publisher with less support and resources than major publishers like HarperCollins or Penguin Random House. It also has to do with the kinds of books LQ specializes in, which feature marginalized writers and artists….
…Now the government is proposing amendments to a law that could result in detention and fines for “wearing clothing or bearing symbols in public that are detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese people and hurt the feelings of Chinese people.” What could be construed as an offense wasn’t specified.
The plan has been widely criticized, with Chinese legal scholars, journalists and businesspeople voicing their concerns over the past week. If it goes into effect, they argue, it could give the authorities the power to police anything they dislike. It would also be a big step backward in the public’s relationship with the government.
Under the rule of China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, the government has been fixated on control — how people think, what they say online and now, what they wear.
In July, an older man on a bus berated a young woman, on her way to a cosplay exposition — where people dress up as a characters from movies, books, TV shows and video games — for wearing a costume that could be considered Japanese style. A security guard at a shopping mall last month turned away a man who was dressed like a samurai. Last year, the police in the eastern city of Suzhou temporarily detained a woman for wearing a kimono.
These episodes were related to anti-Japanese sentiment instigated by the Chinese government. But the confrontations go beyond that.
Last month in Beijing, security guards cracking down on expressions of gay pride stopped people dressed in rainbow-themed clothes from entering a concert featuring the Taiwanese singer Zhang Huimei, better known as A-Mei. Also in August, people filed complaints about a concert by the Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai because her fans displayed rainbow lights and some of the male fans dressed in what was described as “flamboyant” female clothing. Just last week the police in Shenzhen scolded a man who was livestreaming in a miniskirt. “A man wearing a skirt in public, do you think you’re positive energy?!” the police yelled at the man.
If the proposed amendments, which are open to public comment until Sept. 30, are approved by the national legislature, such incidents could result in fines of up to $680 and up to 15 days in police custody.
“The morality police is on the verge of coming out,” a lawyer named Guo Hui wrote on Weibo. “Do you think you can still make fun of Iran and Afghanistan?” People posted photos last week of Iranian and Afghan women wearing miniskirts and other Western-style clothes in the 1970s, before their countries were taken over by autocratic religious rulers.
Many people are concerned that the proposal doesn’t specify what would constitute an offense. The language it uses — clothing or symbols that are “detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese nation and hurt the feelings of the Chinese people” — tracks expressions the foreign ministry and official media use to voice their displeasure at Western countries and people. No one knows exactly what they mean.
Without a clear definition, enforcement of the law would be subject to the interpretation of individual officers….
(7) LOSCON 49 SPECIAL GUEST. Loscon 49 welcomes Robert J Sawyer as a Special Guest. The convention will be held at the LAX Marriott from November 24-26.
Rob is one of only eight writers in history — and the only Canadian — to win all three of the world’s top Science Fiction awards for best novel of the year: the Hugo, the Nebula, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. A prolific author, his most recent release is The Oppenheimer Alternative.
(8) DISNEY’S LATEST WAY TO EMPTY YOUR WALLET (OR MAYBE YOUR BANK ACCOUNT). [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Disney has announced they are releasing a Blu-ray + digital box set of 100 films. What’s the price, you ask? Well, if you ask, maybe you can’t afford it. Pre-orders start at Walmart.com later this month at a cool $1,500. “Disney will release a 100-film Blu-ray collection that includes Pixar movies” at The Verge.
Disney is releasing a 100-film Blu-ray collection on November 14th called the Disney Legacy Animated Film Collection (via The Wrap). Preorders will start on September 18th at Walmart.com, and we regret to inform you it will cost $1,500, according to The Wrap.
The collection includes movies from both Disney and Pixar, all crammed into three volumes of discs that span Disney’s entire feature film history from 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to this year’s Elemental.
What’s really impressive is how little filler this package seems to have. Scrolling through the list that The Wrap published, it has every single movie I’d have wanted to see, like all of the Toy Story movies, both of The Incredibles, The Black Cauldron, Frankenweenie, and Robin Hood, but very few of the mediocre direct-to-video snoozers the company produced so many of over the years…
Born September 11, 1856 — Richard Ganthony. Playwright of A Message from Mars: A Story Founded on the Popular Play by Richard Ganthony which is a genre version of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. Really, it is. Published in 1912, it was filmed twice, both times as A Message from Mars (1913 and 1921) and I’m assuming as silent movies given their dates. It would be novelized by Lester Lurgan. (Died 1924.)
Born September 11, 1929 — Björn Nyberg. A Swedish writer known largely for his Conan stories which given that he wrote just one non-Conan story makes sense. His first book in the series was The Return of Conan which was revised for publication by L. Sprague de Camp. Likewise, they later did Conan the Avenger, Conan the Victorious, Conan the Swordsman and Sagas of Conan. The latter two are available at the usual suspects. (Died 2009.)
Born September 11, 1930 — Jean-Claude Forest. He became famous when he created Barbarella, which was originally published in France in V Magazine in 1962. In 1967 it was adapted by Terry Southern and Roger Vadim and made into 1968 film of that name featuring Jane Fonda, with him acting as design consultant. It was considered an adult comic by the standards of the time. (Died 1998.)
Born September 11, 1941 — Kirby McCauley. Literary agent and editor, who as the former who represented authors such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin and Roger Zelazny. And McCauley chaired the first World Fantasy Convention, an event he conceived with T. E. D. Klein and several others. As Editor, his works include Night Chills: Stories of Suspense,Frights, Frights 2, and Night Chills. (Died 2014.)
Born September 11, 1951 — Michael Goodwin, 72. Ahhh — Alan Dean Foster’s Commonwealth series. I know that I’ve read at least a half dozen of the novels there and really enjoyed them, so it doesn’t surprise that someone wrote a guide to it which is how we have Goodwin’s (with Robert Teague) A Guide to the Commonwealth: The Official Guide to Alan Dean Foster’s Humanx Commonwealth Universe. Unfortunately, like so many of these guides, it was done once and never updated.
Born September 11, 1952 — Sharon Lee, 71. She is the co-author with Steve Miller of the Liaden universe novels and stories which are quite excellent reading with the latest being Neogenesis. The authors have won Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for lifetime contributions to science fiction, and The Golden Duck (the Hal Clement Young Adult Award) for their Balance of Trade novel. They are deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects.
Born September 11, 1965 — Catriona (Cat) Sparks, 58. She’s manager and editor of Agog! Press with her partner, Australian horror writer Rob Hood. Winner of an astounding sixteen Ditmar Awards for writing, editing and artwork, her most recent in 2021 for Best Collected Work for Dark Harvest. She also collected one for The 21st Century Catastrophe: Hyper-capitalism and Severe Climate Change in Science Fiction. She has just one novel to date, Lotus Blue, but has an amazing amount of short stories which are quite stellar. Lotus Blue and The Bride Price are both available at the usual suspects.
Born September 11, 1970 — Colson Whitehead, 53. Winner of the Arthur Clarke C. Award for The Underground Railroad. Genre wise, he’s not a prolific writer, he’s written but two other such works, The Intuitionists and Zone One. He’s written but one piece of short genre fiction, “The Wooden Mallet”. However he’s written seven other works including John Henry Dayswhich is a really interesting look at that legend, mostly set at a contemporary festival.
(10) IT PAYS TO PAY ATTENTION. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Even when it’s not something plot-essential, a lot can go by if you aren’t listening carefully (and know the territory).
Here’s an addition to the two callouts I caught in the final two episodes of The Flash (see Item 10 in the June 17, 2023 scroll)…
In the trailer for Gen V, the upcoming spinoff of The Boys, as potential supers (in a looks-like-Professor X’s School for Mutants) suggest power-related names, one student suggests “Coagula”. Which is the cape-name (or whatever we call these) of one of the late Rachel Pollack’s characters for her run on DC’s The Doom Patrol comics (after Grant Morrison’s run). (Here’s Coagula’s Wikipedia entry.)
In celebration of “Star Trek Day,” Scott Mescudi, AKA Kid Cudi, is joining forces with Star Trek in a one-of-a-kind collaboration reflecting the “optimistic and inclusive spirit of adventure, discovery, imagination, and most importantly, hope, at the heart of the cultural phenomenon.” The collaboration will launch Star Trek’s new “Boldly Be” campaign.
Mescudi lends his lens to music with an original song inspired by Star Trek, an interactive gaming component, and a bold fashion collaboration that will launch in October. More details will be announced later….
It’s not often that the jaws of Wall Street analysts drop to the floor but late last month it happened: Nvidia, a company that makes computer chips, issued sales figures that blew the street’s collective mind. It had pulled in $13.5bn in revenue in the last quarter, which was at least $2bn more than the aforementioned financial geniuses had predicted. Suddenly, the surge in the company’s share price in May that had turned it into a trillion-dollar company made sense.
Well, up to a point, anyway. But how had a company that since 1998 – when it released the revolutionary Riva TNT video and graphics accelerator chip – had been the lodestone of gamers become worth a trillion dollars, almost overnight? The answer, oddly enough, can be found in the folk wisdom that emerged in the California gold rush of the mid-19th century, when it became clear that while few prospectors made fortunes panning for gold, the suppliers who sold them picks and shovels prospered nicely.
We’re now in another gold rush – this time centred on artificial intelligence (AI) – and Nvidia’s A100 and H100 graphical processing units (GPUs) are the picks and shovels. Immediately, everyone wants them – not just tech companies but also petro states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Thus demand wildly exceeds supply. And just to make the squeeze really exquisite, Nvidia had astutely prebooked scarce (4-nanometre) production capacity at the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the only chip-fabrication outfit in the world that can make them, when demand was slack during the Covid-19 pandemic. So, for the time being at least, if you want to get into the AI business, you need Nvidia GPUs….
…“They had AI do my versions of Disney characters!” he exclaimed in response. “I can’t describe the feeling it gives you. It reminded me of when other cultures say, ‘Don’t take my picture because it is taking away your soul.’”
Some of the AI-generated examples included Elsa from Frozen with a pale white face and wearing a black dress while standing in what appeared to be a haunted forest, as well as Aurora from Sleeping Beauty with a similar colored face but with stitches across her cheeks and lying in a long, dark dress.
While Burton acknowledged that some of the creations were “very good,” it didn’t take away from the less-than-enjoyable feeling he got from seeing his creative style imitated.
“What it does is it sucks something from you,” he explained. “It takes something from your soul or psyche; that is very disturbing, especially if it has to do with you. It’s like a robot taking your humanity, your soul.”…
Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro isn’t much worried about artificial intelligence and its impact on making entertainment content.
It’s people that keep him up at night, evidently. “People ask if I’m worried about artificial intelligence, I say I’m worried about natural stupidity. It’s just a tool, right?” the Pinocchio and Shape of Water director said during a keynote address at the Toronto Film Festival on Friday.
“If anyone wants movies made by AI, let them get it immediately. I don’t care about people who want to be fulfilled and get something shitty, quickly,” he said, arguing that AI would succeed or die based on what people did with it creatively to bring a personal vision to a screen.
“Otherwise, why not buy a printer, print the Mona Lisa and say you made it,” del Toro said during his appearance in Toronto, which was part of the TIFF Visionaries program sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter….
(15) A GIF TO HUMANITY. Here’s a Godzilla teaser. You can watch the complete commercial on Facebook.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. J. Michael Straczynski pointed Facebook followers to this is a dramatization of the Amazing Spider-man #36 that is about the terrorist attacks in New York on 9/11/2001: The Black Issue 9/11.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Steven French, William S. Higgins, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) WHAT’S IN THE HUGO VOTER PACKET? Ersatz Culture has assembled an infographic listing the existing 2023 Hugo Award Voter Packet Contents, with plans to update it as more content becomes available. Here’s an example, the Best Novel category.
Disclaimer: I’m not involved with this year’s Hugo Awards or Packet, and I don’t know anything about what’s going on behind the scenes; I’m just a Worldcon member who wants to read the works in the Packet.
Part of the Hugo Packet is now available, for members of this year’s Worldcon. (If you’re not a member, you need to buy a membership before you can download the Packet. Details about how to buy a membership are beyond the scope of this guide.)
Unfortunately, there are three issues that may make it difficult for some people to download and read the ebooks in the Packet:
The site is currently set up in such a way that you may see a security warning when you visit it.
It’s not obvious how to find the ebooks on the site, and clicking the download links doesn’t work.
… (2.) I gave each magazine one point for each story nominated for a Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, or World Fantasy Award in the past ten years; one point for each story appearance in any of the Dozois, Horton, Strahan, Clarke, Adams, or Tidhar “year’s best” anthologies; and half a point for each story appearing in the short story or novelette category of the annual Locus Recommended list….
Chinese and Russian intelligence agencies are targeting American private space companies, attempting to steal critical technologies and preparing cyberattacks aimed at degrading U.S. satellite capabilities during a conflict or emergency, according to a new warning by American intelligence agencies.
The National Counterintelligence and Security Center, the F.B.I. and the Air Force issued a new advisory to American companies Friday morning. The broad warning to industry said that foreign intelligence services could be targeting space firms, their employees and the contractors that serve those companies.
Space companies’ data and intellectual property could be at risk from attempts to break into computer networks, moles placed inside companies and foreign infiltration of the supply chain, officials said.
“Foreign intelligence entities recognize the importance of the commercial space industry to the U.S. economy and national security, including the growing dependence of critical infrastructure on space-based assets,” the Counterintelligence Center warning said. “They see U.S. space-related innovation and assets as potential threats as well as valuable opportunities to acquire vital technologies and expertise.”
Intelligence agencies are increasingly dependent on the private-sector space industry, and U.S. officials are worried about the interest Chinese and Russian spy services have shown in those companies, based on recent F.B.I. investigations and intelligence collection on foreign intelligence plans. American officials believe innovations by SpaceX, Blue Origin and other private companies have given the United States a huge advantage in space, one that is envied by foreign adversaries….
Bridge by Lauren Beukes (Michael Joseph, £18.99) “Reality is not real,” Bridge’s mother, Jo, used to tell her. Was that a delusion caused by the brain tumour that killed her? But after Jo’s death, Bridge finds evidence that her mother had discovered a way to access other realities, close to our own, and she becomes obsessed with finding one in which Jo is still alive. The latest from the author of The Shining Girls is an addictive page-turner that draws on not only theoretical quantum physics, but research into neuroscience, altered states and parasitology for a fascinating, compelling story and an original take on the many worlds theory.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 19, 1921 — Gene Roddenberry. Oh, you know who he is. But did you know he wrote a lot of scripts for Have Gun – Will Travel? Indeed his script for the show, “Helen of Abajinian” would win the Writer’s Guild of America award for Best Teleplay in 1958. And yes, he would share a Hugo for Star Trek’s “The City on the Edge of Forever” episode which was awarded at Baycon. (Died 1991.)
Born August 19, 1928 — Richard N. Farmer. Author of Islandia Revisited: A Sequel By Other Hands which he claims to be a sequel to Austin Tappan Wright’s Islandia. No, it wasn’t at all authorized. There are authorized sequels to Islandia, three of them, all written by Mark Saxton, the man who edited the original Islandia manuscript. They are, in this order, The Islar, Islandia Today – A Narrative of Lang III, The Two Kingdoms and Havoc in Islandia. Sylvia Wright, Wright’s daughter and the executrix of the estate, died shortly before the third Saxton book was completed. Mark Saxton himself died in 1988, so it’s not really likely that we will see any additional Islandia novels. (Died 1987.)
Born August 19, 1930 — D.G. Compton, 93. SWFA Author Emeritus whose The Steel Crocodile was nominated for the Nebula Award. The Unsleeping Eye, The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe in the U.K., was filmed as Death Watch which the Audience Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes actually like giving it a 60% rating. His two Alec Jordan near-future police stories are superb. Nearly everything he wrote of a genre nature is available from the usual digital suspects save Hot Wireless Sets, Aspirin Tablets, the Sandpaper Sides of Used Matchboxes, and Something That Might Have Been Castor Oil.
Born August 19, 1938 — Diana Muldaur, 85. She appeared in the original series in two episodes, first in “Return to Tomorrow” as Dr. Ann Mulhall / Thalassa and then in “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” as Dr. Miranda Jones. She, of course, is up again in Next Gen as Dr. Katherine Pulaski. She voiced Dr. Leslie Thompkins in that animated Batman series as well.
Born August 19, 1940 — Jill St. John, 83. She’s best remembered as Tiffany Case, the Bond girl in Diamonds Are Forever. She was the first American to play a Bond girl. She shows in The Batman in “Smack in the Middle” and “Hi Diddle Riddle” as Molly. And she played Jennifer Holmes in the 1960 film version of The Lost World. Even more fascinatingly she’s one of the uncredited dancers on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In!
Born August 19, 1950 — Mary Doria Russell, 73. The Sparrow series, The Sparrow and its sequel Children of God, are awesome. The Sparrow won BSFA, Clarke, and Otherwise Awards, and it was the reason she won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.
Born August 19, 1952 — Jonathan Frakes, 71. Best known for his portrayal of Commander William T. Riker in Next Gen and I’m fond of his voicing David Xanatos on the Gargoyles series which had at least five Trek actors doing voice work. Interesting bit of trivia: For a time in the Seventies, he worked for Marvel Comics at Cons as Captain America. He has directed more than seventy television episodes, including episodes of myriad Trek series, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Leverage, The Librarians and The Orville.
Warner Bros. Pictures and DC’s The Flash, which hit theaters in June, now has a date for its streaming debut on Max: the superhero pic starring Ezra Miller will bow Friday, August 25.
The film, in which Miller reprised his role as Barry Allen in the superhero’s first stand-alone pic, was highly touted by incoming DC bosses James Gunn and Peter Safran, but it saw a sluggish bow in theaters. It opened to $55.1 million over its first three days domestically, and $64M over the Juneteenth holiday frame. Along with a similarly tepid performance overseas, all those numbers were below expectations for a DC tentpole with a budget of $200M….
…The plot of Christina Hodson’s script: Worlds collide when Barry uses his superpowers to travel back in time in order to change the events of the past. But when his attempt to save his family inadvertently alters the future, he becomes trapped in a reality in which General Zod has returned, threatening annihilation, and there are no superheroes to turn to. That is, unless Barry can coax a very different Batman out of retirement and rescue an imprisoned Kryptonian… albeit not the one he’s looking for….
(10) IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND THERE LIVED A…? The Case of Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose featuring the voice of Neil Gaiman comes to George R.R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau Cinema in September. Swing by if you’re in Santa Fe.
In 1935, Hungarian-American para-psychologist Nandor Fodor began his investigation of a strange occurrence on the Isle of Man. An average British family, the Irvings, claimed to have been contacted by a mysterious entity at their farm. A talking mongoose. Named Gef (Pronounced “Jeff”.)
…In the series, following the thunderous battle between Godzilla and the Titans that leveled San Francisco and the shocking revelation that monsters are real, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters tracks two siblings who follow in their father’s footsteps to uncover their family’s connection to the secretive organization known as Monarch. Clues lead them into the world of monsters and ultimately down the rabbit hole to Army officer Lee Shaw (played by Kurt Russell and Wyatt Russell), taking place in the 1950s and half a century later, where Monarch is threatened by what Shaw knows. The dramatic saga — spanning three generations — reveals buried secrets and the ways that epic, earth-shattering events can reverberate through our lives….
(12) MILLIONS OF ‘EM MISTER RICO! Vulture grades these as being “The 12 Best Bug Movies”. Guess which movie isn’t on the list? (But you’re not surprised, right?)
…Be terrorized by a giant Japanese moth! Fight back against a race of intelligent ants! Travel across the sea in a giant stone fruit! Turn on your porch lights, open your door, and welcome them inside. They’ll get in anyway….
(13) SIX LEGS GOOD? The Vulture article had to come first because Scientific American’s answer to the question “Do Insects Feel Joy and Pain?” would be too hard an act to follow.
…Researchers have since shown that bees and some other insects are capable of intelligent behavior that no one thought possible when I was a student. Bees, for example, can count, grasp concepts of sameness and difference, learn complex tasks by observing others, and know their own individual body dimensions, a capacity associated with consciousness in humans. They also appear to experience both pleasure and pain. In other words, it now looks like at least some species of insects—and maybe all of them—are sentient.
These discoveries raise fascinating questions about the origins of complex cognition. They also have far-reaching ethical implications for how we should treat insects in the laboratory and in the wild.
… The conventional wisdom about insects has been that they are automatons—unthinking, unfeeling creatures whose behavior is entirely hardwired. But in the 1990s researchers began making startling discoveries about insect minds. It’s not just the bees. Some species of wasps recognize their nest mates’ faces and acquire impressive social skills. For example, they can infer the fighting strengths of other wasps relative to their own just by watching other wasps fight among themselves. Ants rescue nest mates buried under rubble, digging away only over trapped (and thus invisible) body parts, inferring the body dimension from those parts that are visible above the surface. Flies immersed in virtual reality display attention and awareness of the passing of time….
(14) AN EVERGREEN. OR MAYBE EVERPURPLE. I couldn’t resist quoting this one. Neither could Alan.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Lise Andreasen, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
One of the checks I make in doing the weekly censorship news research is ensuring that the news comes from a reliable source. This is out of accuracy, of course, as much as it is also about media literacy. As it stands, right-wing “activists” are doing a bang up job of creating a fake controversy, pushing it through the media, keeping their names in the mouths of those outlets, then reaping (fake) benefits from the outrage cycle. Case in point: a news story that popped up earlier this month about the National Education Association and the books they were recommending their teacher members to read over the summer….
After making her return to Doctor Who in last year’s special The Power of the Doctor, Tegan is back once again in a new clip, and while last time she was seen palling around with Ace, this time there’s another companion reunion on the cards….
… It’s Nyssa! The pair embrace and Nyssa reveals that she was looking for Tegan, having “hitched a ride” in the TARDIS from Terminus, where the pair last saw one another….
In the clip, as the pair get reacquainted, Nyssa tells Tegan the Doctor wants to see her, to which she asks: “Which one? Scarf or celery, or woman?”
The duo reminisce about the past, with Nyssa saying she’s missed their interactions and Tegan saying she wishes she’d realised how lucky she was.
(3) HER MILEAGE VARIED. Because NASFiC isn’t in the USA, Cheryl Morgan can attend it. That didn’t mean it was easy to get there – her travel saga from the UK to Winnipeg was by way of Switzerland. As she says in “Pemmi-Con – Day 1”, “I am in Canada, by the skin of my teeth. I am getting too old for travel nightmares….”
(4) FULL COURT PRESS ENDS. It’s been four years since Ryan Kopf made news here, time enough for his litigation against Nerd & Tie blogger Trae Dorn to reach its conclusion – a judge granting Dorn’s motion to dismiss for “failure to prosecute” due to Kopf’s inactivity. A roundup of the legal saga is now a podcast: “Ryan Kopf v. Nerd & Tie – The Full Story”.
Ryan Kopf has been suing Nerd & Tie owner Trae Dorn in one form or another for over seven years. With the conclusion of the Illinois suit against Trae Dorn and former Nerd & Tie contributor Pher Sturz earlier this month, we thought we should sit down and talk about what’s happened over those years. We discuss the full timeline of events, what Trae was actually accused of saying, and how things affected us.
A seven-issue comic book series called Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong was announced at San Diego Comic-Con, with DC and Legendary producing it in partnership with Toho Entertainment. Writer Brian Buccellato is teaming with artists Christian Duce and Luis Guerrero for the project, and Drew Johnson, Jim Lee and Scott Williams, Rafael Albuquerque, Francesco Mattina and Dan Mora and Alan Quah are all tackling cover art. Take a look at the first piece of officially-released Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong artwork below.
…HG Wells invented great swathes of science fiction: the time machine, alien invasion. Nigel Kneale, my other great hero, had a similarly prophetic vision, peeking around corners at what might happen. It’s speculative fiction but the broad strokes are staggeringly accurate. It’s interesting to look back at old sci-fi and fantastic fiction to see if what they were wrestling with remains relevant. The possibilities of technology throw up an awful lot of new terrors that are exciting to play with, because you look at the dark underside. Like the internet, information has never been more accessible, but people have never been more stupid. That’s the title of my autobiography!…
(7) BILL LAUBENHEIMER DIES. Bay Area fan Bill Laubenheimer died July 19 while attending the Winnipeg NASFiC. Kevin Standlee, who saw him at the con on Wednesday, reports “Apparently, he fell ill (I don’t know why) and was taken to hospital, where he died later that evening.”
Bill Laubenheimer We are deeply saddened to hear that Bill Laubenheimer passed away suddenly, in Winnipeg for Pemmi-Con. Bill had a brilliant creative mind, and a gentle and cheerful soul. He will be much missed. Condolences to Carole Parker and their many friends.
(8) MEMORY LANE.
2019 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
So let’s talk about Kameron Hurley who’s the writer of our Beginning this Scroll.
For eight years, she wrote a column for Locus about the craft and business of fiction writing, a cool thing indeed. And speaking of non-fiction, her The Geek Feminist Revolution essay collection was nominated for a Hugo for Best Related Work; it includes “We Have Always Fought” which won a Hugo Award for Best Related Work.
As much as her two trilogies are impressive, and make no mistake as they are that, it is her two one-off novels that are truly fantastic — The Stars Are Legion and The Light Brigade are of the some of the best military fiction that has ever been done.
So our Beginning is from the latter which was published by Saga Press four years ago with the cover illustration by Eve Ventrue.
And here is the Beginning for The Light Brigade.
They said the war would turn us into light.
I wanted to be counted among the heroes who gave us this better world. That’s what I told the recruiter. That’s what I told my first squad leader. It’s what I told every CO, and there were . . . a couple. And that’s what I’d tell myself, when I was alone in the dark, cut off from my platoon, the sky full of blistering red fire, too hot to send an evac unit, and a new kid was squealing and dying on the field.
But it’s not true.
I signed up because of what they did to São Paulo. I signed up because of the Blink. All my heroes stayed on the path of light, no matter how dark it got. Even bleeding-heart socialist drones who play paladin can take an oath of vengeance to justify violence. I did.
The enemy had eaten my family and the life I once knew; a past I now remember in jerky stutter-stops, like an old satellite image interrupted by a hurricane. I wanted to be the light: the savior, the hero, sure. But more than that, I wanted the enemy obliterated.
How many other corporate soldiers signed up for money, or voting rights, or to clear a debt, or to afford good housing, or to qualify for a job in one of the big towers?
I believed my reasons were nobler.
When I signed up after São Paulo, me and my friends were shocked that the recruiting center wasn’t packed. Where were all the patriots? Didn’t they know what the aliens had done? I thought all those people who didn’t sign up were cowards. While you were all upgrading your immersives and masturbating to some new game, we were fighting the real threat. We were the good guys.
You were cowardly little shits.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 21, 1911 — Marshall McLuhan. He coined the expressions the medium is the message and global village, and predicted the World Wide Web almost thirty years before it was invented. I read The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects a long time ago. Somehow it seemed terribly quaint. (Died 1980.)
Born July 21, 1921 — James Cooke Brown. He’s the creator of Loglan. Oh, and he did write SF. The Troika Incident written in 1970 features a global data net. That, and two short pieces of fiction, are the sum total of his of genre writings. The Troika Incident is available from Kindle but not from iBooks. (Died 2000.)
Born July 21, 1929 — John Woodvine, 94. First role in our realm is as Macbeth at Mermaid Theatre back in the early Sixties. Shortly thereafter, he’s Badger in Toad of Toad Hall at the Comedy Theatre before being The Marshal in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Armageddon Factor”. He’s in An American Werewolf in London as Dr. J. S. Hirsch, and he had a recurring role in The Tripods as Master West. He did show up on The Avengers several times, each time as a different character, and he was Singri Rhamin for the episodes of Danger Man.
Born July 21, 1933 — John Gardner. Novelist, critic, teacher, medievalist, among other things. His student Jeffrey Ford described Gardner’s knowledge of literature as ‘encyclopedic,’ with no regard whatever for genre boundaries. He considered Stanislaw Lem the greatest living writer, disliked Tolkien’s poetry (an assessment I agree with) but thought The Lord of the Rings ‘one of the truly great works of the human spirit’. Most of his best works are fantasy: most famously Grendel, but also Freddy’s Book, Mickelson’s Ghosts, the short story collection The King’s Indian, and his posthumously-published short story, “Julius Caesar and the Werewolf”. His book The Art of Fiction is well worth reading for anyone interested in fiction, as a writer or a reader. (Died 1982.) (PhilRM)
Born July 21, 1948 — G. B. Trudeau, 75. Ok we decided when I first put this Birthday up that there’s enough content including not quite human characters to be genre, but he did an amazing series on the Apple Newton when it came out. ADoonesbury Retrospective series is up to six volumes and is available from the usual suspects at very reasonable prices.
Born July 21, 1951 — Robin Williams. Suicides depress me. I remember a bootleg tape of a performance of him and George Carlin in their cocaine fueled days. No, not even genre adjacent but damn brilliant. Such manic energy. Genre wise, he was brilliant in most everything he did, be it Mork & Mindy, Hook which I adore, The Fisher King, Bicentennial Man or Jumanji. (Died 2014.)
Born July 21, 1976 — Jaime Murray, 47. If you watch genre television, you’ve most likely seen her as she’s been Helena G. Wells in the Warehouse 13, Stahma Tarr in Defiance, Fiona/the Black Fairy In Once Upon a Time, Antoinette in The Originals, and Nyssa al Ghul in Gotham. Film wise, she was Livinia in The Devil’s Playground and Gerri Dandridge in Fright Night 2: New Blood.
(10) IN COMICS TO COME. Marvel Comics teased two super secret Rob Liefeld projects at San Diego Comic-Con. Besides the titles in the lower left corners, the file of the first piece of art is named “Major X” and the second is “Cable”.
(11) SFF-THEMED PROSTETHICS. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] Came across a mention of The Alternative Limb Project, which makes prosthetic limbs that are also works of art. Some really lovely (and often fantastic/science-fictional) examples in their gallery here.
The one that might be of most interest to F770’s audience is the “Gadget Arm”, described thusly: “With a nod to the Swiss Army Knife we created a vintage styled arm stiched in leather with various gadgets including: secret compartment, torch, laser, matches, telescopic magnet, watch, compass and knives.”
There’s also a clear plastic limb that reminds me of “Demon With A Glass Hand”.
…This would easily have been the most affordable spaceship-inspired watch “manufactured on Earth” on this list – in mid-May, prices sat at €1,500 for the stainless steel version and €1,900 for blue titanium. But punters may have to wait as the Argon SpaceOne page on Kickstarter is currently down and unavailable, allegedly due to an intellectual property dispute….
3. Urwerk UR-112 Aggregat Back to Black
In the world of avant garde watch design, Urwerk is one of the great names. Since its inception in 1997, not a single one of the brand’s releases tell time in the traditional two- or three-handed way. Heavily leaning into exposed mechanics and sci-fi design language, Urwerk boasts Michael Jordan and Robert Downey Jr. (he was Iron Man after all) among its dedicated owner base.
(15) POIROT IN VENICE. Nerdtropolis introduces us to “A Haunting In Venice”, the next Hercule Poirot adaptation featuring Kenneth Branagh.
A new trailer for “A Haunting in Venice” by 20th Century Studios is here. This upcoming supernatural thriller, directed by Oscar winner Kenneth Branagh, is based on Agatha Christie’s novel “Hallowe’en Party.” Branagh also stars as the famous detective Hercule Poirot…
Set in eerie, post-World War II Venice on All Hallows’ Eve, and is a terrifying mystery featuring the return of the celebrated sleuth, Hercule Poirot. Now retired and living in self-imposed exile in the world’s most glamorous city, Poirot reluctantly attends a séance at a decaying, haunted palazzo. When one of the guests is murdered, the detective is thrust into a sinister world of shadows and secrets.
Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel has reclaimed her identity from the tyrannical Kree and taken revenge on the Supreme Intelligence. But unintended consequences see Carol shouldering the burden of a destabilized universe. When her duties send her to an anomalous wormhole linked to a Kree revolutionary, her powers become entangled with that of Jersey City super-fan, Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel, and Carol’s estranged niece, now S.A.B.E.R. astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau. Together, this unlikely trio must team-up and learn to work in concert to save the universe as “The Marvels.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Steve French, Bruce D. Arthurs, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]
Fake reviews are ruining the web. But there’s some new hope to fight them.
The Federal Trade Commission on Friday proposed new rules to take aim at businesses that buy, sell and manipulate online reviews. If the rules are approved, they’ll carry a big stick: a fine of up to $50,000 for each fake review, for each time a consumer sees it.
That could add up fast.
It’s the biggest step to date by the federal government to deter the insidious market for buying and selling fake reviews, though the FTC’s rules don’t do as much to hold big review sites like Yelp, Google, Tripadvisor and Amazon directly accountable. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post. Interim chief executive Patty Stonesifer sits on Amazon’s board.)…
…In its notice of proposed rulemaking, the Commission cited examples of clearly deceptive practices involving consumer reviews and testimonials from its past cases, and noted the widespread emergence of generative AI, which is likely to make it easier for bad actors to write fake reviews.
The Commission is seeking comments on proposed measures that would fight these clearly deceptive practices. For example, the proposed rule would prohibit:
Selling or Obtaining Fake Consumer Reviews and Testimonials: The proposed rule would prohibit businesses from writing or selling consumer reviews or testimonials by someone who does not exist, who did not have experience with the product or service, or who misrepresented their experiences. It also would prohibit businesses from procuring such reviews or disseminating such testimonials if the businesses knew or should have known that they were fake or false.
Review Hijacking: Businesses would be prohibited from using or repurposing a consumer review written for one product so that it appears to have been written for a substantially different product. The FTC recently brought its first review hijacking enforcement action.
Buying Positive or Negative Reviews: Businesses would be prohibited from providing compensation or other incentives conditioned on the writing of consumer reviews expressing a particular sentiment, either positive or negative.
Insider Reviews and Consumer Testimonials: The proposed rule would prohibit a company’s officers and managers from writing reviews or testimonials of its products or services, without clearly disclosing their relationships. It also would prohibit businesses from disseminating testimonials by insiders without clear disclosures of their relationships, and it would prohibit certain solicitations by officers or managers of reviews from company employees or their relatives, depending on whether the businesses knew or should have known of these relationships.
Company Controlled Review Websites: Businesses would be prohibited from creating or controlling a website that claims to provide independent opinions about a category of products or services that includes its own products or services.
Illegal Review Suppression: Businesses would be prohibited from using unjustified legal threats, other intimidation, or false accusations to prevent or remove a negative consumer review. The proposed rule also would bar a business from misrepresenting that the reviews on its website represent all reviews submitted when negative reviews have been suppressed.
Selling Fake Social Media Indicators: Businesses would be prohibited from selling false indicators of social media influence, like fake followers or views. The proposed rule also would bar anyone from buying such indicators to misrepresent their importance for a commercial purpose.
The prize, launched in 2022 to encourage greater positive representation of disability in literature, was announced alongside ten other prizes which make up the annual Society of Authors’ Awards. The SoA Awards is the UK’s biggest literary prize fund, worth over £100,000, this year shared between 30 writers, poets and illustrators.
The ADCI Literary Prize. Sponsored by Arts Council England, ALCS, the Drusilla Harvey Memorial Fund, and the Professional Writing Academy, the ADCI Literary Prize is awarded to a disabled or chronically ill writer, for an outstanding novel containing a disabled or chronically ill character or characters. Judged by Penny Batchelor, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Nydia Hebden, Karl Knights, Julia Lund, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Vikki Patis and Chloe Timms.
(3) CON OR BUST GRANT OPPORTUNITIES. Dream Foundry’s Con or Bust program for creators and fans of color makes direct cash grants to assist with travel, food, registration, and other expenses associated with attending industry events.
If you’re a person of color planning to go to a convention this year and need support, our Con or Bust program is here for you. Right now we have memberships to the following conventions for any Con or Bust qualifying application.
Readercon (July 13-16, 2023)
Pemmi-con, aka Nasfic (July 20-23, 2023)
Capricon (February 1-4, 2024)
If you want one of these memberships, or need other support from this program, you can apply on the Con or Bust page.
…That said, his desire for “Dial of Destiny” to succeed feels quite personal.
“I wanted to be ambitious, for those things we have not necessarily done in such measure,” he said. When asked what he means by “those things,” he explains in that instantly recognizable, back-straightening “take this seriously” tone. “I mean take a chance on telling the story of an older character, take a chance on introducing your character in present day in a totally anti-iconic way, reducing him to his underwear and a La-Z-Boy with a glass in his hand.
“That moment in film,” he says, relaxing into a laugh, “may be one of my favorite things I’ve ever done in a movie. That and grabbing a baseball bat and going out to the neighbors’.”
… Mostly, he said, he wanted to see Indy “inveigled into one last adventure. I wanted to see him at the nadir, where we could pick him up and kick him in the ass. I know what age is about. I wanted to bring that into the story. If I was going to be the actor playing this guy, I wanted the reality of my age.”
But first, in the film’s opening scene, he had to play a younger Indy, which made the contrast of past and present more striking. Ford’s face was de-aged through the miracle of artificial intelligence and Lucasfilm’s trove of images from the earlier films, but “the mouth is my mouth, the eyes are my eyes,” he said. “The voice is me talking in a higher register because age lowers the voice, and the body language I had to act. But he moves like I move and I remembered.”…
This episode’s guest is Jordan Kurella, who was a Nebula Award nominee this year in the category of Best Novella for I Never Liked You Anyway, which was also longlisted for the BSFA award. His stories have appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Apex, Mermaid Monthly, Glitter + Ashes, Strange Horizons, and many other magazines and anthologies. Some of these were gathered in his short story collection, When I Was Lost, published by Trepidatio in December. In his past lives, he was a photographer, radio DJ, and social worker, and he has also taught at Iowa State University and Rambo Academy.
We discussed which ice cream flavor he chose to celebrate his Nebula Award nomination, the way readers can tell which stories writers had the most fun writing, how all he needs to pants a story is the first line, what caused him to say “it’s not write what you know, it’s write what you’re embarrassed about,” why he doesn’t like to reread his own published work unless he has to, how to avoid getting stuck in rabbit holes of research, the ways writing a book can be like spending time with your best friends, his rule about story titles, why we’re both so attracted to writing love stories, how playing the violin in public prepared him for surviving rejection, why he published only a single piece of literary fiction before realizing the fantastic was where he belonged, and so much more.
Author Patrick Tomlinson and his wife, business owner Niki Robinson, have been “swatted” at their home in Milwaukee more than 40 times, often resulting in police pointing guns at their heads. Their tormentors have also called in false bomb threats to venues using their names in three states. Yet law enforcement hasn’t been able to stop the calls.
The couple’s terror comes as these incidents appear to be on the rise in the U.S., at least on college campuses. In less than a single week in April, universities including Clemson, Florida, Boston, Harvard, Cornell, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Oklahoma, as well as Middlebury College, were targeted by swatters.
To combat the growing problem, the FBI has begun taking formal measures to get a comprehensive picture of the problem on a national level.
Chief Scott Schubert with the bureau’s Criminal Justice Information Services headquarters in Clarksburg, West Virginia, told NBC News that the agency formed a national online database in May to facilitate information sharing between hundreds of police departments and law enforcement agencies across the country pertaining to swatting incidents.
… Security expert Lauren R. Shapiro, who is an associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said: “Swatting involves people making fraudulent 911 calls reporting serious-level criminal threats or violent situations like bomb threats, hostages, killing, etc. to fool the police into raiding the house or business of somebody who is not actually committing a crime.”…
… Tomlinson’s troubles began after he posted a casual remark on Twitter in 2018 saying he’d never personally found the comedian Norm Macdonald very funny. As The Daily Beast reported, the tweet caught the attention of online trolls who soon began to harass, stalk, impersonate and defame Tomlinson and his wife, using a website of their own along with social media accounts on Reddit, Twitter and YouTube to target the couple and invite others to pile on.
Their harassers mostly converge on a website that’s cloned elsewhere so participants can migrate rapidly if their forum is ever banned by a service provider.
Since The Daily Beast report, the harassment escalated both online and offline.
The couple was mostly recently swatted at their home on Tuesday, bringing the total of swatting incidents to 43. Tomlinson’s parents, who are senior citizens, also suffered swatting at their home about 2 hours outside of Milwaukee this year…
Whether the FBI’s database will lead to any results is open to question based on past performance.
… At a federal level, Tomlinson filed a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center in November 2020. He never saw a reply to that, so in early May 2022, he went to the Milwaukee branch of the FBI in person to file a new one.
An FBI special agent was assigned to evaluate his case. He says the agency already had a file on Tomlinson because of a false bomb threat that swatters had called into a hotel outside of Detroit in April 2022, a few weeks prior to a presentation he was scheduled to give. The presentation, part of PenguiCon, was titled,”Elon Musk is Full of S—.”
Since then, “There has been nearly zero communication by the FBI,” Tomlinson said.
One agent has requested more evidence from his family by email on rare occasions. But the agency has not brought him or his wife in for an interview, and have not arrested people who the couple identified as participants in their harassment and swatting…
“Rogers: The Musical” started as a joke in the Disney+ series “Hawkeye,” which presented a challenge for the Disneyland Resort’s live-entertainment team. How, in a 30-minute, heavily condensed Broadway-style show, do you bring a little heft to a production in which fans will be clamoring for cheese? Sure, there’s Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow and the Hulk, among others, but these are superheroes who spend more time flexing jazz hands than muscle.
In the show opening today, directed by Disney’s Jordan Peterson with a book from Hunter Bell, known best for Broadway’s “[title of show],” the answer was simple: heartbreak.
The story of Steve Rogers’ transformation into Captain America is framed by longing — for better days, for acceptance and for love. It allows the production, which veers close to overt patriotism in its opening moments, to find a sense of personal grounding. When an actor playing a young Rogers is framed by an Uncle Sam military recruitment poster, he gets all wistful and rejected: “What’s a guy to do when ‘I want you’ doesn’t mean you?”
Don’t worry, the production doesn’t stay down for long. “Hawkeye” introduced fans to the over-the-top corniness of the song “Save the City,” a work written by Broadway vets Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, and it pops up multiple times, each one leaning into the showtune parody that it is. When it wants to, “Rogers: The Musical” embraces its silliness….
…The musical features five original songs, not counting the previously heard “Save the City” and “Star Spangled Man,” which dates to the film “Captain America: The First Avenger.” The new works are credited to composer Christopher Lennertz, with lyrics by Peterson, Lennertz and Alex Karukas. None quite reach the heights of “Save the City,” which went all out in its showtune glitz. “Rogers: The Musical” comes off as a series of puzzle pieces constructed around that signature number.
Lennertz, a composer with a lengthy résumé of film and television credits, including Marvel’s “Agent Carter,” plays it more low-key. The new works largely attempt to take “Rogers” out of parody mode, a decision that accounts for a series of tonal shifts and results in a theatrical mood that’s not quite serious yet not fully goofy.
(8) CSI SKILL TREE. The latest episode in the ASU Center for Science and Imagination’s Skill Tree series on video games, possible futures, and worldbuilding is out, featuring the award-winning science fiction roleplaying game Citizen Sleeper (2022). This episode’s guests are Gareth Damian Martin, the game’s developer, and Phoebe Wagner, a speculative fiction author, researcher, and editor of three solarpunk anthologies, including Sunvault. Here’s a link to the entire Skill Tree playlist, with 12 episodes so far.
(9) ALAN ARKIN (1934-2023). Four-time Oscar nominee Alan Arkin, who won Best Supporting Actor for Little Miss Sunshine (2007), died June 30 at the age of 89. He was perhaps best known for playing Yossarian in Catch-22 but his other three Oscar nominations honored his portrayals of deaf-mute Singer in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Russian Lt. Rozanov in one of my favorite movies, The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, and the has-been producer Lester Siegel in the genre-adjacent Argo.
In Argo (2012), Arkin played the fictional producer of a fake sff movie that provided cover for a CIA operation to rescue Americans caught up in the Iranian Revolution of 1979. He acted in collaboration with a character based on real-life Planet of the Apes makeup man John Chambers, played by John Goodman.
Within the sff genre Arkin did a lot of voice work late in his career – including Dumbo (2019) and Minions: Rise of Gru (2022), but early on voiced Schmendrick in The Last Unicorn (1982).
He’s been in a Muppets movie, in The Monitors (1969), in the film adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night (1996), played Detective Hugo in Gattaca (1997), The Chief in the movie Get Smart (2008). He had parts in The Seven Percent Solution (Dr. Sigmund Freud — 1976) Edward Scissorhands (1990), and The Rocketeer (1991).
Arkin also won a Tony for his Broadway debut in 1963’s Enter Laughing.
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1989 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
This time Mike picked one of my favorite writers, Sheri S. Tepper. Her series have too many exemplary books to list them all and her standalone novels such as Singer from the Sea and The Companions are excellent as well.
She’s been nominated for a lot of Awards but garnered only two, one of which is the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. Grass, the source of our Beginning this time, was published by the Doubleday Foundation in 1989 (one of their first books was Asimov’s Prelude to Foundation), and was a Hugo finalist at ConFiction.
And it has an absolutely stunning Beginning as you can read here…
Millions of square miles of it; numberless wind-whipped tsunamis of grass, a thousand sun-lulled caribbeans of grass, a hundred rippling oceans, every ripple a gleam of scarlet or amber, emerald or turquoise, multicolored as rainbows, the colors shivering over the prairies in stripes and blotches, the grasses—some high, some low, some feathered, some straight—making their own geography as they grow. There are grass hills where the great plumes tower in masses the height of ten tall men; grass valleys where the turf is like moss, soft under the feet, where maidens pillow their heads thinking of their lovers, where husbands lie down and think of their mistresses; grass groves where old men and women sit quiet at the end of the day, dreaming of things that might have been, perhaps once were. Commoners all, of course. No aristocrat would sit in the wild grass to dream. Aristocrats have gardens for that, if they dream at all.
Grass. Ruby ridges, blood-colored highlands, wine-shaded glades. Sapphire seas of grass with dark islands of grass bearing great plumy green trees which are grass again. Interminable meadows of silver hay where the great grazing beasts move in slanted lines like mowing machines, leaving the stubble behind them to spring up again in trackless wildernesses of rippling argent.
Orange highlands burning against the sunsets. Apricot ranges glowing in the dawns. Seed plumes sparkling like sequin stars. Blossom heads like the fragile lace old women take out of trunks to show their granddaughters.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 30, 1902 — Lovat Dickson. Australian-born publisher and author who wrote a biography of H G Wells, H G Wells: His Turbulent Life and Times. He was the first Canadian to have a major publishing role in Britain. (Died 1982.)
Born June 30, 1905 — Nestor Paiva. Sometimes it only takes one film or series for a performer to get a Birthday write-up from me. Paiva makes it for Lucas the boat captain in The Creature from the Black Lagoon and its oft-forgotten sequel Revenge of the Creature. Though that was hardly his only genre role as his first role was in the early Forties as an uncredited prison guard in Tarzan’s Desert Mystery and he’d be in many a genre film and series over the decades as Prof. Etienne Lafarge in The Mole People, as the saloon owner in (I kid you not!) Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, Felicity’s Father in The Spirit Is Willing, Captain Grimby in “The Great Treasure Hunt” of The Adams Family and a Doorman in the “Our Man in Leotards” episode of Get Smart. (Died 1966.)
Born June 30, 1920 — Sam Moskowitz. SF writer, critic, and historian. Chair of the very first World Science Fiction Convention held in NYC in 1939. He barred several Futurians from the con because they threatened to disrupt it in which was later called the Great Exclusion Act. In the Fifties, He edited Science-Fiction Plus, a short-lived genre magazine owned by Hugo Gernsback, and would edit several dozen anthologies, and a few single-author collections, most published in the Sixties and early Seventies. His most enduring legacy was as a historian of the genre with such works as Under the Moons of Mars: A History and Anthology of “The Scientific Romance” in the Munsey Magazines, 1912–1920 and Hugo Gernsback: Father of Science Fiction. (Died 1997.)
Born June 30, 1959 — Vincent D’Onofrio, 64. His long running-role is Detective Goren on Law and Order: Criminal Intent which is in no way genre. He was Kingpin in Wilson Fisk / Kingpin in four television series of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Edgar the Bug in the only truly great Men in Black film to date and Vic Hoskins in Jurassic World. He also was Jason Whitney / Jerry Ashton in The Thirteenth Floor, loosely based upon Simulacron-3, a early Sixties novel by Daniel F. Galouye.
Born June 30, 1963 — Rupert S. Graves, 60. Here because he played Inspector G. Lestrade on thatSherlock series. He also appeared on Doctor Who as Riddell in the Eleventh Doctor story, “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. He had one-offs in The Nightmare Worlds of H. G. Wells: The Moth, Twelve Monkeys, Krypton and Return of the Saint.
Born June 30, 1966 — Peter Outerbridge, 57. Dr. David Sandström in what I think is the terribly underrated ReGenesis series as well as being Henrik “Hank” Johanssen in Orphan Black and a recurring role on Millennium as Special Agent Barry Baldwin. He’s currently in two series, The Umbrella Academy with a recurring role as The Conductor, and as Calix Niklosin in V-Wars, yet another Netflix SF series.
Born June 30, 1972 — Molly Parker, 51. Maureen Robinson on the Lost in Space series. One-offs in Nightmare Cafe, The Outer Limits, The Sentinel, Highlander: The Series, Poltergeist: The Legacy, Human Target and she appeared in The Wicker Man as Sister Rose / Sister Thorn. She also was Alma Garret on Deadwood. No, not genre but Emma and Will love the series.
Being a fan of Yelena Belova keeps getting better and better. The younger sister of Natasha Romanoff, Yelena is also a widow and is everything that a sassy younger sister could be. And now she’s getting her very own time in the spotlight with a new comic series! First appearing in 1998, Belova quickly became a popular character for fans of Nat but she gained a new level of fame when Florence Pugh took on the role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Getting her own comic storyline is just exciting evidence of how popular Yelena Belova has grown throughout the last twenty-five years. As someone who relates to Yelena Belova a lot (and she’s one of my all-time favorite Marvel characters), this comic makes me incredibly excited for the future of her character!
Called White Widow, the series is created by writer Sarah Gailey and they worked along side artist Alessandro Miracolo to bring her to life. David Marquez gave us a perfectly Yelena cover and the entire reveal is a dream come true for fans. Sometimes, you wait a long time to see a character you love get their time in the spotlight and that’s exactly what is happening with White Widow. She’s not the little sister in Nat’s shadow anymore with this series!
(14) AI IN CINEMA. [Item by Steven French.] The Guardian seems to be having a bit of a bout of listmania these days but this one contains some interesting recommendations: “The best films about AI – ranked!”
16. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
The first Avengers sequel isn’t particularly good, but at least it introduced cinema to the AI lifeform Ultron. Tasked with sparing the Avengers from having to suit up whenever a new baddie rolls into town, Ultron quickly realises that the greatest threat to world peace is humanity and – in time-honoured AI fashion – attempts to eradicate it himself. The moral of Age of Ultron is clear: trust AI less than the irresponsible billionaires who invented it.
… But what about ChatGPT-5, ChatGPT-15, or ChatGPT-55? Assuming this goes on, in classic science fiction fashion, the LLMs will surely continue to blur the lines between artificial and “real” authors. That blurriness is the setup for Jeff Hewitt’s “The Big Four v. ORWELL,” a courtroom drama in which a group of publishers sue ORWELL, an A.I. that has become a prolific author, for copyright infringement.
I have my doubts that the current approach to building LLMs, essentially an exercise in statistically predicting the most likely next “token” given a string of tokens, can lead to the holy grail of artificial general intelligence, an imagined state of crafted cognition capable of accomplishing any intellectual task a human can. (ORWELL definitely appears to be an AGI.) Symbol manipulation alone, without more, must plateau at some point short of “true” intelligence—or so I tell myself (using strings of symbols, of course, smug with irony). To be sure, there is reason to be humble here. Decades ago, when I was studying A.I. in college, the idea that anything resembling the current brute-force approach could construct a virtual entity that could tutor you on any subject you liked, compose college essays, and even answer personal ads would have seemed like handwavium sci-fi. And yet, here we are. So, maybe I’m wrong about the future this time too….
A restaurant in Douliu City, Yunlin County debuted its “Godzilla” ramen featuring crocodile meat as its main ingredient.
Nu Wu Mao Kuei (女巫貓葵) announced on Facebook the launch of its “Godzilla” ramen, which is prepared by steaming or braising the front leg of a crocodile. In a clip, a young female customer samples both flavors and describes the dish as surprisingly delicious.
She says the steamed version of the dish resembles chicken, while the braised meat has a taste similar to pork feet. The soup contains over 40 spices, and the owner reportedly learned how to make the spicy “witch soup” during a trip to Thailand, SETN reported
The crocodiles used for this dish are sourced from a farm in Taitung. The owner was inspired by the giant isopods ramen, which went viral at another restaurant.
(17) TYPECASTING. [Item by Tom Becker.] Womprat is a bold font, inspired by the classic “STAR WARS” text on the movie poster. But that is just the beginning. There are alternate character sets, ligatures, symbols, and special glyphs galore. It is clearly the work of obsessive font geeks who are also massive Star Wars fans. It is a delight just to browse the glyphs or the free desktop background at http://womprat.xyz
A brand new Good Omens Season 2 clip from the upcoming return of Amazon Studios’ fantasy comedy series has been released, featuring David Tennant as Crowley. The next installment will be available for streaming on July 28 on Prime Video.
The video confirms Crowley’s current status in Hell as persona non grata, as the fan-favorite demon continues to question the point of Heaven and Hell. It also features Miranda Richardson’s newest character, who has now assumed the role of Hell’s representative in London after previously playing the role of Madame Tracy in Season 1.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Steven French, Juli Marr, Tom Becker, Lise Andreasen, Joey Eschrich, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
Michael Cisco is the author of several novels, including The Divinity Student, The Great Lover, The Narrator, and Pest, as well as the Stoker-nominated nonfiction book Weird Fiction: A Genre Study. His short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies, and his most recent collection is Antisoc. He is the author of two novellas: ETHICS, and Do You Mind If We Dance With Your Legs? He lives in New York City.
FARAH ROSE SMITH
Farah Rose Smith is the author of the horror and dark fantasy novellas Eviscerator, The Almanac of Dust, Anonyma, and Lavinia Rising. She has also written two collections of short supernatural fiction, Of One Pure Will and The Witch is the Body. Smith recently completed a master’s degree in English Literature, Language, and Theory and is writing her third collection. Born and raised in Rhode Island, Smith currently lives in New York City with her husband, weird fiction author Michael Cisco, and their three cats.
Location: The KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).
(2) BANKS ACCOUNT. On the 10th anniversary of the author’s death, the Guardian’s Steven Poole helps readers decide “Where to start with: Iain Banks”. The second book he considers is Consider Phlebas:
The billionaires’ favourite
Banks originally wanted to be a science-fiction author, but after several unsuccessful drafts in the 1970s decided to write something “normal” instead, thus rocket-boosting his literary career with The Wasp Factory. He then started publishing science fiction as Iain M Banks, beginning with Consider Phlebas, a phrase taken from Eliot’s The Waste Land. It’s a cosmos-spanning romp that introduces the Culture, a post-human galactic civilisation in which AI does all the work and no one wants for food or other resources. (Fully automated luxury communism – in space.)
In this first story, the smug liberal Culture is at war with the Idirans – AI refuseniks who are waging a jihad against them. Through this backdrop wanders sympathetic mercenary Bora Horza Gobuchul, a Mandalorian-style drifter with a very particular set of skills. Banks’s vision of a starfaring, post-scarcity civilisation run by AIs, in which people can change their DNA at will and live for 400 years, is publicly admired by tech giants such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk – even as they toil along with us in the capitalist present. Unfortunately for Bezos, a planned Amazon TV series based on the novel was cancelled in 2020 after Banks’s estate withdrew permission.
…There’s “Station Eleven,” the 2014 novel by Emily St. John Mandel about the aftermath of a swine flu, which was turned into a much-discussed 2021 HBO Max series, in which an 8-year-old girl manages to survive with the help of a stranger turned surrogate parent. “The Last of Us,” HBO’s video game adaptation, which debuted in January, features a zombie-fungus pandemic; a seemingly immune teenage girl is humanity’s one hope. “Leave the World Behind,” Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel — soon to be a movie — about a bourgeois family vacation gone very bad, features a vague but menacing threat of apocalypse. Also loosely belonging to this category are the shows “Yellowjackets” (2021-present) — a girls’ soccer team turns to cannibalism after a plane crash — and “Class of ’07” (2023) — a school reunion coincides with a climate apocalypse — and the new-to-Netflix 2019 Icelandic movie “Woman at War” (a renegade activist tries to stop the destruction of the environment and adopt a child).
These stories are, in various ways, about how and whether our children can survive the mess that we’ve left them — and what it will cost them to do so. In “Station Eleven,” post-pans (children who were born after the pandemic) are both beacons of optimism and conscripted killers deployed by a self-styled prophet who hopes to erase anyone who holds on to the trauma of the past. And in “The Last of Us,” Ellie, the young girl with possible immunity (played by the actor Bella Ramsey), is forced to kill to survive, and to grapple with whether it’s worth sacrificing her own life in the search for a cure….
The anxieties that these works explore — about planetary destruction and what we did to enable it — are, evidence suggests, affecting the desire of some to have children at all, either because of fear for their future or a belief that not procreating will help stave off the worst. But following the children in these fictions, who didn’t create the conditions of their suffering, isn’t just a devastating guilt trip. Almost all these stories also frame children as our best hope, as we so often do in real life. Children, we need to believe, are resilient and ingenious in ways that adults aren’t. In these stories, when the phones stop working and Amazon stops delivering, it’s children, less set in their ways, who can rebuild and imagine something different. They’re our victims but also our saviors….
(4) SALVAGE RIGHT NEWS. Salvage Right by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, the 25th Liaden Universe® novel (and their 100th collaborative work), will be officially released in paper and ebook editions July 4, 2023. Some stores already have the hardback on the shelves; signed copies are available from Uncle Hugo’s bookstore in Minneapolis.
Another interview with Under The Radar SFF Books is due later in July
The authors will be doing a virtual book signing at Pandemonium Books, Wednesday July 26, details TBA
(5) MANNERS, PLEASE. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki thought a timely reminder was in order about the awards etiquette published by the Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog a couple of months ago, so he retweeted it today. Thread begins here. Here’s an excerpt:
(6) AMY WISNIEWSKI (1947-2023). Mythopoeic Society member Amy Wisniewski died June 20 at the age of 76. She is survived by her wife, Edith Crowe. David Bratman has written a tribute on Kalimac’s corner, “Amy Wisniewski”, which says in part:
…Amy was already in the Society when I arrived. The first meeting I attended was at the small house that she and her partner (and later wife) Edith Crowe were living at in the flatlands of Redwood City. 48 years later, in a larger house further up in the hills, they were still hosting meetings. Almost every year, except during pandemics, they hosted the annual Reading and Eating Meeting. We would gather for a potluck meal and then take turns reading short selections around the (once real, later theoretical) fire.
For a few years, Amy was our discussion group’s moderator, and she actually directed meetings with a skill and knowledge surpassing that of anyone else who had that title. Amy wasn’t a Tolkien scholar; she didn’t give papers at Mythcon; but she had read and absorbed his books and did the same for the books we were discussing, and consequently always had intelligent things to say….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
2002 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
Tonight we have a Beginning by Carol Emshwiller. She was prolific as a short fiction writer with more stories than I can comfortably count. The two volume collection of The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller that Nonstop Press did a decade back collects nearly twelve hundred pages of her stories.
She did just six novels of which four were genre and two were in the cowboy genre, Ledoyt and Leaping Man Hill. No, I didn’t know she’d written the latter. All four of her genre novels are quite excellent. The Mount which is where our Beginning comes from garnered a Philip K. Dick Award.
And now from stage left comes our Beginning…
We’re not against you, we’re for. In fact we’re built for you and you for us – we, so our weak little legs will dangle on your chest and our tail down the back. Exactly as you so often transport your own young when they are weak and small. It’s a joy. Just like mother-walk.
You’ll be free. You’ll have a pillow. You’ll have a water faucet and a bookcase. We’ll pat you if you do things fast enough and don’t play hard to catch. We’ll rub your legs and soak your feet. Sams and Sues, and you Sams had better behave yourselves.
You still call us aliens in spite of the fact that we’ve been on your world for generations. And why call aliens exactly those who have brought health and happiness to you? And look how well we fit, you and us. As if born for each other even though we come from different worlds.
We mate the stock with the stocky, the thin with the thin, the pygmy with the pygmy. You’ve done a fairly good job of that yourselves before we came. As to skin, we like a color a little on the reddish side. Freckles are third best.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 29, 1919 — Slim Pickens. Surely you remember his memorable scene as Major T. J. “King” Kong in Dr. Strangelove? I certainly do. Simply astounding. And, of course, he shows up in Blazing Saddles as Taggart. He’s the uncredited voice of B.O.B in The Black Hole and he’s Sam Newfield in The Howling. He’s got some series genre work including several appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, plus work on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Night Gallery. (Died 1983.)
Born June 29, 1920 — Ray Harryhausen. All-around film genius who created stop-motion model Dynamation animation. His work can be seen in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (his first color film) which was nominated for a Hugo at Detention, Jason and the Argonauts, Mighty Joe Young and Clash of the Titans. (Died 2013.)
Born June 29, 1943 — Maureen O’Brien, 80. Vicki, companion of the First Doctor. Some 40 years later, she reprised the role for several Big Finish Productions Doctor Who audio works. She had a recurring role as Morgan in The Legend of King Arthur, a late Seventies BBC series. Her Detective Inspector John Bright series has been well received.
Born June 29, 1947 — Michael Carter, 76. Best remembered for being Gerald Bringsley in An American Werewolf in London, Von Thurnburg in The Illusionist and Bib Fortuna in the Return of the Jedi. He plays two roles as a prisoner and as UNIT soldier in the Third Doctor story, “The Mind of Evil”.
Born June 29, 1950 — Michael Whelan, 73. I’m reasonably sure that most of the Del Rey editions of McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series was where I first noticed his artwork but I’ve certainly seen it elsewhere since. He did Heinlein’s The Cat Who Walks Through Walls cover which I love and many more I can’t recall right now. And there’s a wonderful collection of work available, Beyond Science Fiction: The Alternative Realism of Michael Whelan.
Born June 29, 1956 — David Burroughs Mattingly, 67. He’s an American illustrator and painter, best known for his numerous book covers of genre literature. Earlier in his career, he worked at Disney Studio on the production of The Black Hole, Tron, Dick Tracy and Stephen King’s The Stand. His main cover work was at Ballantine Books where he did such work as the 1982 cover of Herbert’s Under Pressure(superb novel), 2006 Anderson’s Time Patroland the 1986 Berkley Books publication of E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith Triplanetary.
Born June 29, 1957 — Fred Duarte, Jr. His Birthday is today and this long-time Texas fan is eulogized by Mike here upon his passing almost a decade back. (Died 2015.)
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Catching up with Tom Gauld —
(10) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] From the June 28 episode, three clues in the single Jeopardy round.
Open Door, $1000: Gandalf initially struggles to open the door to this place, but after speaking the Elvish word for “friend” he gets it right
This was a triple stumper.
Google Easter eggs, $400: A Google search for what’s the answer to life, the universe, & everything gives you this number
Bryan White (whose score was $4200!): “What is 37?”
Neither of the other two could respond correctly. Douglas Adams is spinning in his grave.
$800: Google this HBO show with Pedro Pascal & keep clicking the mushroom icon for your screen to be enveloped by some humongous fungus
Pluto TV has announced a new Godzilla channel filled with not only classics such as the original 1954 Godzilla debut film, Godzilla vs. Megalon, and more but even left-field additions such as the animated Godzilla: The Series from the late ’90s and early ’00s. But the biggest surprise is that this new Godzilla channel will also offer up seven Godzilla films that are exclusive to Pluto TV as fans won’t be able to find them streaming anywhere else. Read on to see the massive list of movies and TV shows coming to Pluto TV’s new Godzilla channel launching on July 1st….
Contrary to what Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the latest installment in the epic franchise, suggests, the Antikythera mechanism won’t transport you back in time—not literally, at least. Every Indiana Jones adventure needs an exotic MacGuffin; in the new outing, which arrives in theaters this week, the hero chases after the Archimedes Dial, a fictionalized version of the Antikythera mechanism that predicts the location of naturally occurring fissures in time.
…In the film’s 1944-set prologue, Indy (Harrison Ford) captures a train loaded with Nazi plunder, including the titular Dial of Destiny. The movie then jumps ahead to 1969. Indy is set to retire from teaching archaeology, and the world is celebrating the safe return of theApollo 11 crew. One of the men most responsible for the United States’ victory in the space race is Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen), a former Nazi who was given sanctuary by the Allies in exchange for his expertise, much like the real-life NASA engineer Wernher von Braun. When Indy learns that Voller wants to use the Archimedes Dial to travel for nefarious purposes, he reluctantly dusts off his old hat and bullwhip to (again) keep a potentially devastating weapon out of Nazi hands….
(13) NATURE EDITORIAL WARNS ABOUT AI. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] You know, I simply love the end of the world. You can’t beat it. Of course, as long as it is firmly in SF. (Wouldn’t like it in reality: it’d get in the way of afternoon tea and evening real ale down the pub…)
Talk of artificial intelligence destroying humanity plays into the tech companies’ agenda, and hinders effective regulation of the societal harms AI is causing right now.
The idea that AI could lead to human extinction has been discussed on the fringes of the technology community for years. The excitement about the tool ChatGPT and generative AI has now propelled it into the mainstream. But, like a magician’s sleight of hand, it draws attention away from the real issue: the societal harms that AI systems and tools are causing now, or risk causing in future. Governments and regulators in particular should not be distracted by this narrative and must act decisively to curb potential harms. And although their work should be informed by the tech industry, it should not be beholden to the tech agenda.
Many AI researchers and ethicists to whom Nature has spoken are frustrated by the doomsday talk dominating debates about AI. It is problematic in at least two ways. First, the spectre of AI as an all-powerful machine fuels competition between nations to develop AI so that they can benefit from and control it. This works to the advantage of tech firms: it encourages investment and weakens arguments for regulating the industry. An actual arms race to produce next-generation AI-powered military technology is already under way, increasing the risk of catastrophic conflict — doomsday, perhaps, but not of the sort much discussed in the dominant ‘AI threatens human extinction’ narrative.
Second, it allows a homogeneous group of company executives and technologists to dominate the conversation about AI risks and regulation, while other communities are left out. Letters written by tech-industry leaders are “essentially drawing boundaries around who counts as an expert in this conversation”, says Amba Kak, director of the AI Now Institute in New York City, which focuses on the social consequences of AI.
To all of which the SF fan might ask how the genre might contribute…?
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Steven French, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day –dsr-.]
(1) EXPECT HUGO BALLOT IN “EARLY JUNE”. The Chengdu Worldcon committee today told Facebook readers when to look for the 2023 Hugo ballot:
The 2023 Chengdu Worldcon Hugo Awards nomination was officially closed on April 30th, and the shortlist will be out early June. Big thank you to all members who spent your valuable time to make the nominations.
(2) TAKE TWO. Cass Morris was very sorry to hear that Disney is closing the Galactic Starcruiser. And not for any abstract reasons – she was planning to go next year. However, the attraction’s inability to stay in business prompted Morris to embark on a vast thought experiment about the kind of Disney Star Wars immersive hotel experience which could work, and her results are quite entertaining. “Galactic Travels” at Scribendi.
…Unfortunately, while this news is terribly sad, it’s also not wholly unexpected. The Starcruiser has had trouble ever since it opened. The high price point, unusual conceit, and level of fannish commitment required for full enjoyment seem to have kept it operating at low capacity.
So, last night as I was nursing my sadness about probably never getting to go, I started thinking…
If I were going to design a Star Wars hotel for Disney World, one that might stand a better chance of succeeding… what would I do?…
(3) MINDFULNESS ABOUT VIRTUAL GOHS. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki has an idea for using virtual cons in a progressive way – involving international, disabled, and otherwise nontraveling creators — which he has shared with Facebook readers:
…Something I learnt along the way, from my first con I participated in, was that virtual cons are important. Having people of diverse backgrounds & voices be able to attend, contribute to the general pool of knowledge & discussions. I believe diversity, multiple viewpoints and experiences taking into account, people working together, will solve many world problems, including the recent AI scourge of the arts. twitter.com/Penprince_/sta…
Sure, running virtual components isnt always possible. Funding, the tech issues, etc. It’s understandable when cons can’t have them. But when they do have them, it’s imperative, almost compulsory they have both virtual attendees and guests of honour like CanConSF & ICFA did. It gives a platform to allow people with the experience and expertise to contribute on a larger scale to genre development and history, the change to. As ICFA guest of honour, the first ever African born, Black writer to be, I created the genre #Afropantheology, which I believe hope, & plan will contribute and richly influence genre & storytelling generally. The GoH platform was very helpful in that. …
(4) IT’S BIG. Max Gladstone tells how his vacation was interrupted by word about the apotheosis of his writing career in “Big Bigolas Energy” at The Third Place.
…It unfolded for me in fits and starts, and almost out of order, as one would expect of a book about time travel.
While we were in transit, a friend who often texts us about Time War sitings in the wilds of social media sent my partner a screenshot of The Bigolas Tweet, which at that time had 12,000 likes.
I thought, how wonderful! Nice note to start the vacation. And also: what a great screen name. My brain was in vacation mode already, so I didn’t think about the numbers too much. As I’ve been told many times, Twitter Doesn’t Sell Books.
Later that evening, Amal (that’s my New York Times Bestselling co-author Amal El-Mohtar, to be clear, though at this point we were neither of us New York Times Bestselling co-authors) sent me a screenshot of the same tweet; the numbers were much bigger (Bigolas-er?). I thought: wow! It’s really taking off. But still: Twitter Doesn’t Sell Books.
As they say: lol….
(5) INNOCENT BYSTANDER.Google Bard, another of these AI language models, has somehow managed to pull Nnedi Okorafor into the latest row about BasedCon.
I knew L. Marie Wood for a decade or more before I learned at the last in-person Balticon before the pandemic that we’re basically neighbors, but never knew it. So after an earlier lunch during which we tried to figure out how we’ve somehow managed to avoid each other all these years, we got together at Brix 27 in downtown Martinsburg, West Virginia so I could learn more about who she is and how she came to be.
L. Marie Wood is a writer of psychological horror, supernatural suspense, and dark fiction of all kinds who’s been a professionally published writer for 20 years, ever since her first novel Crescendo and first short story “The Dance” were published in 2003. Her novels since then include The Promise Keeper, Cacophony, Accursed, and others, plus multiple short story collections, including Anathema and Phantasma. She’s also a screenwriter who’s a three-time winner of Best Horror Screenplay at the NOVA International Film Festival, Best Psychological Horror Short Script at Hollywood Horrorfest, and on and on. Her most recent publications are the novel The Open Book, accompanied by the related short story collection The Tales of Time, which contains the short stories being read by — and feared by — the characters in that first book.
We discussed the way she began her writing career selling poetry in parking lots, our differing experiences with hand selling our own books, the fears which keep horror writers up at night, the many misconceptions she had about the writing life back when he began, the uncomfortable novella she wrote when she was five, what our parents made of our horrific scribblings, the ever-present problem of dealing with rejection, our mutual love of pantsing, what should become of our papers, and much more.
At the 2023 Eastercon (Conversation), Guest of Honor Niall Harrison, and fellow “Third Row” fans John Coxon, Emily January and Abigail Nussbaum sat down for a discussion on the future of fandom (circa 2004).
Moderated by Meg MacDonald, the panel hilariously tells the story of Third Row Fandom, named and brought into being accidentally by Greg Pickersgill during a “Future of Fandom” panel at the 2004 Eastercon.
Themselves dubbed “the future of fandom” by Greg, the fans seated in the third row at that panel have made good on the title, pulling others into their orbit and having an outsized influence on science fiction and science fiction fandom over the last 20 years.
Illustrated with powerpoint slides to map out their impact, this fascinating panel tells the story of a cohort of young fans maturing into movers and shakers in the field, as writers, reviewers, editors, award judges and convention organizers.
Many thanks to Conversation 2023 for providing this recording, and particularly to Alison Scott for her assistance.
These days I think a poet has a thousand beginnings. Sometimes I trace it back to an old encyclopedia with gorgons and dinosaurs, another, a 3rd-grade role-playing game almost no one remembers. Others it feels like an unrequited crush on a classmate, a fortune teller’s prediction about me shared to my grandmother, a ghost in an attic, or just the absence of seeing stories like my own in the news, in movies and novels, and especially poetry. Each moment was liberating in its own way….
Here’s an example of an editing clause that should be a dealbreaker (this and other clauses quoted below are taken from actual contracts in my possession):
“Publisher shall have the right to edit and revise the Work for any and all uses contemplated under this Agreement.”
What’s missing here? Any obligation on the publisher’s part to seek your approval before making the edits and revisions–or even allow you to see them before publication. A clause like this enables the publisher to edit at will without consulting or even informing you, and, if you do have the opportunity to see the edits, to unilaterally reject your concerns. If you sign a contract with this kind of language, you are at the mercy of the publisher and its editors. You shouldn’t be surprised if the publisher takes advantage of it.
(10) SPFBO 9. Right now Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off judges are picking their favorite covers from among the 300 entrants. See them here: “SPFBO 9 – The Cover Contest!”
(11) MEMORY LANE.
1996 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow is one of those novels that treats the Catholic Church with respect and is also a true SF novel at the same time, a very neat trick indeed.
It was published by Villard twenty seven years ago, and was honored with an Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Otherwise Award, and a BSFA Award. It has a sequel, Children of God, published two years afterwards.
The Sparrow has one of the most perfect Beginnings I’ve ever read which you can see below if by any slim chance you’ve not read it yet.
It was predictable, in hindsight. Everything about the history of the Society of Jesus bespoke deft and efficient action, exploration and research. During what Europeans were pleased to call the Age of Discovery, Jesuit priests were never more than a year or two behind the men who made initial contact with previously unknown peoples; indeed, Jesuits were often the vanguard of exploration.
The United Nations required years to come to a decision that the Society of Jesus reached in ten days. In New York, diplomats debated long and hard, with many recesses and tablings of the issue, whether and why human resources should be expended in an attempt to contact the world that would become known as Rakhat when there were so many pressing needs on Earth. In Rome, the questions were not whether or why but how soon the mission could be attempted and whom to send.
The Society asked leave of no temporal government. It acted on its own principles, with its own assets, on Papal authority. The mission to Rakhat was undertaken not so much secretly as privately—a fine distinction but one that the Society felt no compulsion to explain or justify when the news broke several years later.
The Jesuit scientists went to learn, not to proselytize. They went so that they might come to know and love God’s other children. They went for the reason Jesuits have always gone to the farthest frontiers of human exploration. They went ad majorem Dei gloriam: for the greater glory of God.
They meant no harm.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 19, 1937 — Pat Roach. He was cast in the first three Indy Jones films as a decided Bad Person though he never had a name. His first genre appearance was in A Clockwork Orange as a Milkbar bouncer but his first named role was being Hephaestus in Clash of Titans. He was of an unusually stocky nature, so he got cast as a Man Ape in Conan the Destroyer, and as Bretagne the Barbarian in Red Sonja. And of course he had such a role as Zulcki in Kull the Desttoyer. Oh, and he played a very large and mostly naked Executioner in the George MacDonald Fraser scripted The Return of The Musketeers. (Died 2004.)
Born May 19, 1944 — Peter Mayhew. Chewbacca from the beginning to The Force Awakens before his retirement from the role. The same year he first did Chewy, he had an uncredited role as the Minotaur in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. He also shows in the Dark Towers series as The Tall Knight. Can we say he earned a Hugo at IguanaCon II? I know I’m stretching it there. (Died 2019.)
Born May 19, 1946 — Andre the Giant. Fezzik in The Princess Bride, one of my all-time favorite films. Also, an uncredited role as Dagoth in Conan the Destroyer. He’s actually did a number of genre roles such as The Greatest American Hero with his American acting debut playing a Bigfoot in a two-part episode aired in 1976 on The Six Million Dollar Man titled “The Secret of Bigfoot”. He died of cardiac arrest, not at all surprising given his size and weight of over five hundred pounds. (Died 1993.)
Born May 19, 1948 — Grace Jones, 75. First genre appearance was as Stryx in Rumstryx, an Italian TV series. Her next was Zulu in Conan the Destroyer followed by being May Day in A View to Kill and Katrina in Vamp. She was Masako Yokohama in Cyber Bandits which also starred Adam Ant. Her last several genre roles to date were Christoph/Christine in Wolf Girl, and Death aka The Devil in Gutterdammerung, a film that also featured Henry Rollins, Slash and Iggy Pop!
Born May 19, 1966 — Jodi Picoult, 57. Her Wonder Women work is exemplary (collected in Wonder Women, Volume 3 and Wonder Woman: Love and Murder). She also has a most excellent two-volume YA series called the Between the Lines Universe which she wrote with Samantha van Leer. ISFDB lists her Second Glance novel as genre but I’d say it’s genre adjacent at best. Her latest work though marketed as a mainstream novel, Between the Lines Musical, is actually genre.
Born May 19, 1966 — Polly Walker, 57. She appeared in Syfy’s Caprica, Sanctuary and Warehouse 13, as well as performing voice work in John Carter.
Born May 19, 1996 — Sarah Grey, 27. Before DC Universe cast the present Stargirl in Brec Bassinger for that series, Legends of Tomorrow cast their Stargirl as this actress for a run of three episodes. The episodes (“Out of Time”, “Justice Society of America” and “Camelot 3000”) are superb. I’ve not seen her as Alyssa Drake in The Order but I’ve heard Good Things about that series.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Speed Bump shows even the ultimate Creator needs prompts.
The Far Side also imagined how this Star Trek personality would spend his time in Hell.
(14) KAIJU IN TRANSLATION. Never before available in English it says here. Now’s your chance to read the original Godzilla stories: “Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again” coming from the University of Minnesota Press in October 2023.
The first English translations of the original novellas about the iconic kaijū Godzilla
Although the Godzilla films have been analyzed in detail by cultural historians, film scholars, and generations of fans, Shigeru Kayama’s two Godzilla novellas—both classics of Japanese young-adult science fiction—have never been available in English. This book finally provides English-speaking fans and critics the original texts with these first-ever English-language translations of Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again. As human activity continues to cause mass extinctions and rapid climatic change, Godzilla provides a fable for the Anthropocene, powerfully reminding us that nature will fight back against humanity’s onslaught in unpredictable and devastating ways.
In this issue, medievalist and SF writer Erin K. Wagner writes about C. S. Lewis’ science fiction novel That Hideous Strength, communication studies scholar and SF writer Jenna N. Hanchey considers the Africanfuturist film Neptune Frost, and we offer a brief reflection on the new essay collection Ex Marginalia, edited by Chinelo Onwualu.
Theodore Rex, the weirdest of weird ’90s movies, is a $33 million direct-to-video buddy cop movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and a wisecracking dinosaur. (Take as much time as you need to wrap your brain around that sentence. We understand.)
Theodore Rex wasn’t an attempt to tie into the dino-fever that swept the nation’s youth in the early ’90s; it was a genuine attempt at making a gritty sci-fi film about a detective and her dinosaur partner. That’s right. Legendary EGOT-winner Whoopi Goldberg and a Talking Man-Sized Dinosaur teamed up for a cop film and they demanded to be taken seriously. (The 90s were a very strange time.)
Even though the film is a complete nightmare, things behind the scenes of Theodore Rex were much worse. As weird as it sounds, we can’t stress this enough: nobody had fun on this Whoopi Goldberg/Dinosaur joint.
Ranker’s first little-known fact is –
Whoopi Goldberg Was Forced By Law To Be In This Movie
Whoopi Goldberg did, at one time, want to be in Theodore Rex and agreed to play the lead for $5 million and a share of the profits, but she quickly changed her mind and tried to back out (good instincts, Whoopi!). Goldberg had to learn the hard way that it’s just not that easy to simply walk away from expensive movies starring talking dinosaurs (a lesson we all could learn from). Because she had agreed to do the movie, the producers sued her for $20 million when she tried to back out. After an answering machine recording of Goldberg surfaced where she said she was “100% committed” to the project, she was forced to choose between appearing in the film or paying out the nose for a dinosaur detective movie that she agreed to appear in. There’s a famous saying in Hollywood: “The only thing worse than appearing in a terrible dinosaur movie is paying $20 million NOT to appear in a terrible dinosaur movie,” so Whoopi opted to appear in the terrible dinosaur movie.
A Minnesota man has been indicted on charges that he stole a pair of the famed ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn., the actress’s hometown, nearly 18 years ago.
On Tuesday, a federal indictment in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota charged Terry Jon Martin of Minnesota with stealing an authentic pair of the slippers, which officials estimated have a market value of $3.5 million, from the museum sometime between Aug. 27 and Aug. 28 of 2005. Mr. Martin was indicted on one count of theft of a major artwork….
Interesting – I recently corresponded with someone from this museum. They’re always looking for things related to cousin Judy, and I’m told some of my other cousins may be making donations. (I have nothing, myself, and never met her.)
Big Shot [Disney+] Turner & Hooch [Disney+] The Mysterious Benedict Society [Disney+] The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers [Disney+] Willow [Disney+] The Making Of Willow [Disney+] Diary of a Future President [Disney+] Just Beyond [Disney+] The World According to Jeff Goldblum [Disney+] Marvel’s Project Hero [Disney+] Marvel’s MPower [Disney+] Marvel’s Voices Rising: The Music of Wakanda Forever [Disney+] Cheaper by the Dozen remake [Disney+] The One and Only Ivan [Disney+] Stargirl [Disney+] Artemis Fowl [Disney+] The Princess [Disney+] Encore! [Disney+] A Spark Story [Disney+] Black Beauty [Disney+] Clouds [Disney+] America the Beautiful [Disney+] Better Nate Than Ever [Disney+] Weird but True! [Disney+] Timmy Failure [Disney+] Be Our Chef [Disney+] Magic Camp [Disney+] Howard [Disney+] Earth to Ned [Disney+] Foodtastic [Disney+] Stuntman [Disney+] Disney Fairy Tale Weddings [Disney+] Wolfgang [Disney+] It’s a Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer [Disney+] The Real Right Stuff [Disney+] The Big Fib [Disney+] Rogue Trip [Disney+] More Than Robots [Disney+] Shop Class [Disney+] Pick the Litter [Disney+] Own the Room [Disney+] Among the Stars [Disney+] Harmonious Live! [Disney+] Pentatonix: Around the World for the Holidays [Disney+] Y: The Last Man [FX/Hulu] Pistol [FX/Hulu] Little Demon [FX/Hulu] Maggie [Hulu] Dollface [Hulu] The Hot Zone [Nat Geo/Hulu] The Premise [Hulu] Love in the Time of Corona [Hulu] Everything’s Trash [Hulu] Best in Snow [Hulu] Best in Dough [Hulu] Darby and the Dead [Hulu] The Quest [Hulu] Rosaline [Hulu]
(19) DISORIENTING. Steven Heller interviews Hungarian artist István Orosz in “Illusions From a Visual Magician” at Print Magazine. Includes a gallery of images like the one below.
What you see is never what you really see. It is neither real nor surreal, it is art—the result of precision drafting and intricate mathematical logic. Hungarian illustrator, animated film director and poster artist István Orosz basks in the mystique of his ambitious visual contortions, implausible objects and incredible optical illusions. He is a visual punster on the highest plane who is happiest when making confounding images and anamorphoses relying on forced perspective that echo, not coincidentally, his famous mathematics teacher (and inventor of the Rubik’s cube) Ernő Rubif….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Joey Eschrich, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
One of the scariest predictions now circulating is that we are about to leave the era of photographic proof. For generations we relied on cameras to be the fairest of fair witnesses. Images of the Earth from space helped millions become more devoted to its care. Images from Vietnam made countless Americans less gullible and more cynical. Miles of footage taken at Nazi concentration camps confirmed history’s greatest crimes. A few seconds of film shot in Dallas, in November of 1963, set the boundary conditions for a nation’s masochistic habit of scratching a wound that never heals.
Although there have been infamous photo-fakes — such as trick pictures that convinced Arthur Conan Doyle there were real “fairies” and Mary Todd Lincoln that her husband’s ghost hovered over her, or the ham-handedly doctored images that Soviet leaders used to erase “non-persons” from official history — for the most part scientists and technicians have been able to expose forgeries by magnifying and revealing the inevitable traces that meddling left behind.
But not anymore, say some experts. We are fast reaching the point where expertly controlled computers can adjust an image, pixel by microscopic pixel, and not leave a clue behind. Much of the impetus comes from Hollywood, where perfect verisimilitude is demanded for fantastic onscreen fabulations like Forrest Gump and Jurassic Park. Yet some thoughtful film wizards worry how these technologies will be used outside the theaters….
…The new technologies of photo-deception have gone commercial. For instance, a new business called “Out Takes” set up shop next to Universal Studios, in Los Angeles, promising to “put you in the movies.” For a small fee they will insert your visage in a tete-a-tete with Humphrey Bogart or Marilyn Monroe, exchanging either tense dialogue or a romantic moment. This may seem harmless on the surface, but the long range possibilities disturb Ken Burns, innovative director of the famed Public Broadcasting series The Civil War. “If everything is possible, then nothing is true. And that, to me, is the abyss we stare into. The only weapon we might have, besides some internal restraint, is skepticism.”
Skepticism may then further transmute into cynicism — Burns worries — or else, in the arts, decadence….
….In the stories of Kelly Link, strange things happen in otherwise ordinary settings. A teenage girl from Iowa travels to New York to find an older guy she met online and ends up at a hotel hosting a pair of conventions: one for dentists and one for superheroes. A girl from the Boston area discovers a lost world preserved inside her grandmother’s old handbag (which is made from the skin of a dog that lives inside it). Her stories do not abide by the rules of conflict and resolution — they make sense in the way that dreams make sense. Pressed to explain these phenomena, Link’s characters tend to change the subject. “The mechanics of how I can speak are really of no great interest, and I’m afraid I don’t really understand it myself, in any case,” a talking cat insists in a story from Link’s new collection, White Cat, Black Dog. Since 2001, Link has published four books of short stories, with the fifth — a series of unsettling retellings of classic fairy tales — out this month. For much of that time, she has worked in relative obscurity. Early reviewers were impressed by her originality, but she remained largely unknown outside of M.F.A. programs and fantasy circles. When her first book was published more than 20 years ago, serious literature, for the most part, meant one-pound tomes of psychological realism.
That has changed as Link’s stature has grown. In 2016, she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; a few years later, the MacArthur Foundation awarded her a “genius” grant for “pushing the boundaries of literary fiction.”…
… After getting an M.F.A. at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Link enrolled in the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. “I thought, This will be a group of people who are doing the same kind of work. But in fact, the feedback I got from many of the people was, Well, I don’t know what this is.” While she and her fellow students admired some of the same authors — Heinlein, Asimov, Tolkien — Link’s indifference to genre conventions was apparent. If her heroines start an epic quest, they’re likely to get distracted or lost or turn into someone else entirely. “I remember thinking she already wrote better than I did and there was really no point in her coming to this workshop,” said Karen Joy Fowler, one of Link’s professors at Clarion…..
(3) TIME IN A BOTTLE. Dorothy Grant persuasively explains why people should listen to Neil Gaiman’s entire advice about the freelance life in “Saying No” at Mad Genius Club.
…He [Neil Gaiman] went on, though, to warn about the problems of success… and that’s what gets dropped out of a lot of the advice. He noted the problems of success are harder, in part because nobody warns you about them… and what do people do? Not listen to the warning, and drop it out of their quotes. They include:
“The point where you stop saying yes to everything, because now the bottles you threw in the ocean are all coming back, and have to learn to say no.”
(4) PLUS ÇA CHANGE, PLUS C’EST LA MÊME CHOSE. “50 Best Short Stories for High School Students” at We Are Teachers is surprisingly chock full of sff – Bradbury, Le Guin, Poe, Dahl – though I’m a little more surprised at how many of these stories were already part of the canon when I was in high school and are still on a list like this.
If there is one thing that my students and I share, it’s our love for short stories. High school kids may not choose to read short stories on their own time, but they get very excited when the story I choose to teach a concept is short. I find that short stories pack a stronger emotional punch. They elicit real reactions, especially if the author manages to surprise them. In fact, short stories are the thing I use most often in my high school lessons to teach literary devices, act as mentor texts for our writing, and get students excited about reading. Here is a collection of 50 of my favorite short stories for high school students….
Jill Girardi is the internationally best-selling, award-nominated author of Hantu Macabre, a novel which was optioned for a film starring MMA Fighter Ann Osman and directed by Aaron Cowan (a senior member of the Visual Effects team that won four Oscars for Avatar and Lord of the Rings.)…
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
This is something I’ve found difficult to explain over the years. Going back to the subject of du Maurier’s work, I found her simple, direct form of writing to be both beautiful and haunting, evoking so many emotions in the reader. The symbolism of it struck such a deep chord with me. For example, in one of my favorite stories, The Apple Tree, a mere tree takes on the qualities of a deceased woman, one who withered from neglect and lack of love all her life. The image was one that stayed with me long after I first finished reading the story. Many people believe that horror is all about shock value, that there’s no emotion or any deep meaning in it. Those of us who read or write horror know otherwise. We know that something as simple as a tree can haunt you, and bring you close to your own pain. This is what I adore about horror. There is so much more lurking under its surface….
(6) GODZILLA NOVELIZATIONS. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Since its publication nearly 70 years ago, there is finally an English translation by Jeffrey Angles to the Shigeru Kayama’s novelizations for Godzilla (1954) and Godzilla Raids Again (1955). According to its Amazon listing, it’ll be published by University of Minnesota Press and released October 3, 2023.
(7) MEMORY LANE.
2003 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Sharyn McCrumb’s Ghost Riders is the seventh of her Ballad Novels, her mystery series set in the Appalachian Mountains. It features a strong dash of magic realism as you’ll see in the Beginning from this novel which was published twenty years ago by Dutton Adult.
I like the novels because they feel authentic which reflects McCrumb’s being born and raised in the Appalachian region. The novels are richly detailed, the characters are fully developed, particularly the continuing ones such as Rattler, and the stories are certainly some of the better ones set in the Appalachian region.
And if her name sounds familiar, that’s because of Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool which she wrote.
And now our Beginning…
The boy stood still in the moonlight watching the riders approach. The chill of the night air had shaken the last bit of sleep-stupor from him, and he shivered, feeling the wind on his legs and the sensation of his bare feet touching the rough boards of the porch, and knowing that he was not dreaming. He had stumbled outside to make his way to the privy, but now something–not a sound, more like a feeling–made him stop a few feet from the door, and for long minutes as he stood there he would forget the push in his bladder that had sent him out into the cold darkness of an October night.
Horses were not an every day sight in the mountains nowadays, as they had been in his daddy’s time. Now that the Great War had ended in Europe, the world had changed. People talked about aeroplanes and automobiles and store-bought clothes. Every year brought more Model A’s into the county, and those folks that didn’t run an automobile could take the train into Johnson City or Asheville if they needed to go. You sent money to the mail-order catalogue, and the postman would bring you the goods, all parceled up in brown paper, whatever you’d asked for. They called it “the wish book.” But nobody ever wished for the old days, not in these mountains. They all wanted the future to get here double quick.
But tonight was an echo of the old days… there were horsemen at the edge of the woods.
The boy wondered who these riders were, out on the ridge past midnight, far from a road and miles from the next farm. He could make out three of them just this side of the trees beyond the smokehouse, but in the faint light of the crescent moon their features were indistinguishable. They carried no lantern, and they rode in silence. It took the boy three heartbeats longer to register the fact that the horses made no sound either. He heard no rustle of grass, no snapping of twigs beneath their hooves.
One of the riders detached himself from the group by the woods and trotted toward the porch where the boy stood. He was a tall, gaunt man in a long greatcoat and scuffed leather boots, and he had a calculating way of looking through narrowed eyes that froze the boy to the spot like a snake-charmed bird. The rider looked to be in his twenties, with dark hair and black whiskers outlining his chin, as if he were growing a beard by default and not by design. The boy stared at the face, a pale oval in the moonlight, and he forgot to move or cry out.
The man smiled down at him as if he had trouble remembering how. “Evenin’, Boy,” he said in a soft mountain drawl. “What’s your name then?”
“Rat–they called me Rattler, mister.” It took him two tries to get the sound to come out of his throat.
The rider grinned. “Rattler, huh? Mean as a snake, are you, boy?”
The boy lifted his chin. Even if he was shivering in his nightshirt, he was on his own porch and he would not cower before a stranger. “I don’t reckon I’m mean,” he said. “But I give salt for salt.”
“Fair enough.” The dark man looked amused. “I guess I do the same.” He glanced back at the woods where his companions waited, motionless, shadows in moonlight. “And you’d be–what? About twelve?”
“About,” said the boy. He would be eleven in January.
“Well, snake-boy, what do you say? You want to ride with us?”
The boy shrugged. “Got no horse.”
“Reckon we could rustle you up one.”
The smile again, cold as a moonbeam. The boy hesitated. “You never said who you are, Mister.”
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 19, 1821 — Sir Richard Francis Burton KCMG FRGS. He was a geographer, translator, writer, soldier, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer and diplomat. He worked on the translation of an unexpurgated version of One Thousand and One Nights. Also, Vikram and the Vampire or Tales of Hindu Devilry. Mind you, he was also the publisher of both Kama Sutra and The Perfume Garden. Philip Jose Farmer made him a primary character of the Riverworld series. (Died 1890.)
Born March 19, 1926 — Joe L. Hensley. Long-time fan and writer who was a First Fandom “Dinosaur” (which meant he had been active in fandom prior to July 4, 1939), and received the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award in 2006. Very impressive! His first genre fiction sale was the short story “And Not Quite Human,” published in the September 1953 issue of Beyond Fantasy Fiction. His co-authors included Alexei Panshin and Harlan Ellison. Though he wrote nearly fifty pieces of short fiction, and much of that is not genre, he wrote just one genre novel, The Black Roads. (Died 2007.)
Born March 19, 1928 — Patrick McGoohan. Creator along with George Markstein of The Prisoner series in which he played the main role of Number Six. (The one and only Prisoner. I know it’s been remade but I refuse to admit it exists.) I’ve watched it at least several times down the years. It never gets any clearer but it’s always interesting and always weird. Other genre credits do not include Danger Man but comprise a short list of The Phantom where he played The Phantom’s father, Treasure Planet where he voiced Billy Bones and Journey into Darkness where he was The Host of. (Died 2009.)
Born March 19, 1932 — Gail Kobe. She has genre appearances with the more prominent being as Jessica Connelly in Twilight Zone’s “In His Image”, in another Twilight Zone episode as Leah Maitland in “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross”, and two Outer Limits episodes, first as Janet Doweling in “Specimen, Unknown” and then as Janet in “The Keeper of the Purple Twilight”. (Died 2019.)
Born March 19, 1936 — Ursula Andress, 87. I’m sure I’ve seen all of the original Bond films though I’ll be damned I remember where or when I saw them. Which is my way of leading up to saying that I don’t remember her in her roles as either as Honey Ryder in the very first Bond film, Dr. No, or as as Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. Bond girls aren’t that memorable to me it seems. Hmmm… let’s see if she’s done any other genre work… well her first was The Tenth Victim based on Sheckley’s 1953 short story “Seventh Victim”. She also appeared in L’Infermiera, oops wrong genre, The Mountain of the Cannibal God, The Fifth Musketeer, Clash of the Titans where she played of course Aphrodite, on the Manimal series, The Love Boat series and the two Fantaghirò films.
Born March 19, 1945 — Jim Turner. Turner was editor for Arkham House after the death of August Derleth, founder of that press. After leaving Arkham House for reasons that are not at all clear, he founded Golden Gryphon Press which published really lovely books until it went out of existence. (Died 1999.)
Born March 19, 1947 — Glenn Close, 76. I had not a clue that she’d done genre-friendly acting. Indeed she has, with two of the most recent being Nova Prime in Guardians of The Galaxy, Topsy in Mary Poppins Returns and voicing Felicity Fox in the animated film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. Before those roles, she was Aunt Josephine in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Blue Mecha in A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Madeline Ashton in Death Becomes Her. Oh the latter is almost too weird in what it is.
Born March 19, 1955 — Bruce Willis, 68. (It’s very sad what’s happening to him.) So do any of the Die Hard franchise count as genre? Even setting them aside, he has a very long genre list, to wit Death Becomes Her (yes another actor in it), 12 Monkeys (weird shit), The Fifth Element (damn great), Armageddon (eight tentacles down), The Sixth Sense (not at all bad), Sin City (typical Miller overkill) and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (yet more Miller overkill).
…We agreed that we would form a punk band, whose musical theme would be venting furiously about the minor annoyances that beset ones such as ourselves, which is to say, comfortable middle-aged folks.
Fast forward to 2023, and right now, and I’m happy to announce that Krissy and I do, in fact, have a punk band in which we bemoan the inconveniences of the hugely privileged. We call ourselves OEMAA (pronounced “wee-ma”), which is an acronym for Outrageously Entitled Middle-Aged Assholes, and our first song, “Parking Space,” is the sonic blast of aggrievement emanating from the soul of a man in an SUV who sees the parking space he’s been hovering over get snapped up by another equally entitled jerk in a Lexus. Hell hath no fury like a dude in an SUV, missing out on a parking opportunity…
With the first movie as well as the book series being massive international successes, Warner Bros was fast to get to work on adapting the second book in the Harry Potter series: The Chamber of Secrets. What adventures lay ahead for Harry Potter at his death trap of a magical high school?! People were anxious to see it play out on the big screen. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets definitely raises some questions though. Like why would Hogwarts hire Lockhart and why would he accept, knowing full well that he’s a fraud? Was the Whomping Willow really the best thing they could think of to put on school grounds? Why does the car have a mind of its own? Why did Hagrid send children off to speak to man-eating spiders in the most dangerous forest there is? How did Nearly Headless Nick get unpetrified? Is Fawkes the secret star of this movie?! To answer all these questions and more, step inside the Pitch Meeting that led to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets! It’ll be super easy, barely an inconvenience.
(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Colonials debuts in select theaters on April 7 and on digital platforms on April 11.
On his mission from Mars, a space colonist’s ship is attacked by a Moon-based civilization and crash lands on Earth. Having lost his memory, he joins forces with a Resistance to save the galaxy from human extinction.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Lise Andreasen, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) SPLATTERPUNK AWARDS DEADLINE RESET. Brian Keene and Wrath James White announced on Facebook that they have extended until January 29 the last date that readers can recommend eligible works at [email protected].
…Given that readers sent in recommendations ALL YEAR LONG, we assumed the community was aware.
Obviously, we were wrong about that. And we apologize for that. We would like to assure authors who expressed disappointment about this that there were indeed recommendations already made. And that is a very good thing. Six years into this process, that’s exactly what the community needs to see — that readers are recommending your work without you reminding them or drawing it to their attention.
To further address the communities concerns, Wrath and I have decided to pause the tallying process and reopen the nominations for another 7 days. We will accept recommendations for WORKS PUBLISHED IN 2022 until midnight on Sunday, January 29th. That way, everyone who has expressed concerns has the opportunity to inform their readers and fans.
So, again… the process has been extended to next Sunday. Email your recommendations to [email protected]. After next Sunday, we will then again be accepting recs for works published in 2023.
Our apologies for any stress or duress this may have caused, and our appreciation to those who expressed their concerns in good faith….
… At the same time that Merril was publishing novels, she was getting more involved in editorial and review work. This book collects and reflects upon Merril’s editorial and non-fiction work. In particular, “her twelve Year’s Best anthologies, her thirty-eight ‘Books’ columns from F&SF, and three particularly important essays.” These works were originally published between 1956 and 1969. This period marks Merril’s shift from authorship to her editorial career.
To support her daughter Ann, who created artwork and posters in support of Eugene McCarthy, Judith Merril attended the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. Tensions were high due to the Vietnam War. After Merril witnessed the police response to the anti-Vietnam War protestors, she decided that she and her family needed to leave the United States. At the convention, a copy of the Toronto Anti-Draft Manual caught Merril’s attention. She had a friend in Toronto, a mathematics professor, and with their aid moved to Canada. She legally changed her name to Judith Merril when she become a Canadian citizen….
(3) SF ON SNL. Last night’s Saturday Night Live had two genre related segments:
In the caption of his post, Renner wrote, “Morning workouts, resolutions all changed this particular new years …. Spawned from tragedy for my entire family, and quickly focused into uniting actionable love.”
The Mayor of Kingstown star then said that he wanted “to thank EVERYONE for their messages and thoughtfulness for my family and I …. Much love and appreciation to you all.”
“These 30 plus broken bones will mend , grow stronger, just like the love and bond with family and friends deepens,” Renner concluded. “Love and blessings to you all…”
…Tell us about your work as a screenwriter. The sovereignty of being in my head as a novelist is enjoyable but gets burdensome. Lana and David are good friends with brilliant minds different from mine and there’s relief in that: whenever I watch The Matrix Resurrections, at no point do I think: “That’s mine, I did this,” because I never did it alone. So what I get out of screenwriting – apart from the money, which is nice – is doing something with others. The traditional bourgeois concept of literature is that it’s a way to be alone; there’s a Jonathan Franzen book of essays called How to Be Alone. But I don’t want to be alone. I want to be with people….
(6) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport encourages subscriptions with a sample by Benjamin C. Kinney: “The Work-Clock”.
The first time Bug and Aurelia kiss is as romantic as can be, even if Bug has to get past his initial reaction. “That really hurts,” he says. “That stings so much!” Which is what you get when smooching a part-jellyfish humanoid.
Aurelia is the title character of “The Immortal Jellyfish Girl,” though if 23andMe still exists in her postapocalyptic world, it might locate traces of kangaroo, frog, naked mole rat and other beasties in her makeup. Above all, “she is also 100 percent puppet,” as the narrator, a mischievous masked fox in shorts and red tails, informs us.
One of my absolutely favorite works is Seanan McGuire’s Ghost Roads series. It’s a perfect example of how excellent McGuire is as a writer with splendid, believable characters, especially Rose Marshall, the hitchhiking ghost who was a sixteen-year old prom date who never actually made it to her prom but was killed on her way there and now hitchhikes forever on America’s highways, both the real ones and the ghosts ones, a absolutely fascinating setting and a compelling story that McGuire has developed oh so very well across three novels.
(There is also three shorter pieces set here, “Good Girls go to Heaven”, “Train Yard Blues” and “The Ghosts of Bourbon Street”.)
One of those settings is the Last Dance Diner that exists on the Ghost Roads. Of it Rose says that, “When you die on the road, if you’re lucky, a phantom rider or a hitchhiking ghost will be there, waiting, to offer you directions to the Last Dance Diner. Best malts this side of the 1950s, pie to die for, and best of all, a chance to rest, for just a little while, before moving on . . . and everyone moves on, in the end.”
So the quote I’ve chosen is from the first novel of the series, Sparrow Hill Road, and concerns that Diner:
They have good beer here, these routewitches do, and their grill is properly aged, old grease caught in the corners, the drippings of a hundred thousand steaks and bacon breakfasts and cheeseburgers scraped from a can and used to slick it down before anything starts cooking. The plate they bring me groans under a triple-decker cheeseburger and a pile of golden fries that smell like summer nights and stolen kisses—and they smell, even before the platter hits the table.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 22, 1858 — Charles H. M. Kerr. He’s best remembered for illustrating the pulp novels of H. Rider Haggard. Some of his other genre-specific work includes the Andrew Lang-edited The True Story Book, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Wrong Boxand Arthur Conan Doyle‘s “The Sign of the Four”. You can see the one of the H. Rider Haggard novels he did here. (Died 1907.)
Born January 22, 1906 — Robert E. Howard. He’s best remembered for his characters Conan the Barbarian and Solomon Kane, less so for Kull, and is widely regarded as the father of the sword and sorcery subgenre. His Cthulhu mythos stories are quite good. I believe all of these were publish in Weird Tales. If you’re interested in reading him on your slate, you’re in luck as all the usual suspects are deep stockers of him at very reasonable prices. (Died 1936.)
Born January 22, 1925 — Katherine MacLean. She received a Nebula Award for “The Missing Man” novella originally published in Analog in 1971. She was a Professional Guest of Honor at the first WisCon. Short fiction was her forte and her two collections, The Diploids and Other Flights of Fancy and The Trouble with You Earth People, are brilliant. I can’t speak to her three novels, all written in the Seventies and now out of print, only Missing Man is available from the usual suspects, and I’ve not read it. (Died 2019.)
Born January 22, 1934 — Bill Bixby. Principal casting in several genre series, first in My Favorite Martian as Tim O’Hara, a young newspaper reporter for the LA Sun who discovers that alien, and then as Dr. David Banner in The Incredible Hulk series, and in both The Incredible Hulk Returns and The Death of the Incredible Hulk films. He shows up in a number of other genre series including Fantasy Island, Tales of the Unexpected, Night Gallery, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir and The Twilight Zone (original version). He also had the lead as Anthony Blake / Anthony Dorian in The Magician series but as he was a stage illusionist, I couldn’t count it as genre… (Died 1993.)
Born January 22, 1940 — John Hurt. I rarely grieve over the death of one individual, but damn it I really liked him. It’s rare that someone comes along like Hurt who is both talented and is genuinely good person that’s easy to like. If we count his role as Tom Rawlings in The Ghoul, Hurt had an almost fifty-year span in genre films and series. He next did voice work in The Lord of the Rings (1978) as the voice of Aragorn, and later voiced General Woundwort in seven episodes of the Watership Down TV series.. He appeared as Kane, the first victim, in Alien (and had a cameo in Spaceballs parodying that performance.) Though not genre, I must comment his role as Joseph Merrick in The Elephant Man — simply remarkable. He had the lead as Winston Smith in 1984. He narrates Roger Corman’s FrankensteinUnbound and will later be one of two of the narrators of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. That role is simply magnificent. Ok, I’m just at 1994. He’s about to be S.R. Hadden in Contact. Did you remember he played Garrick Ollivander in Harry Potter films? You certainly remember him as Trevor Bruttenholm in the Hellboy films, all four of them in total. He’s in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull asDr. Harold Oxley, one of the few decent things about that film. Series wise, he’s been around. I’ve got him in Spectre, a Roddenberry occult detective pilot that I’ve not seen. On the Merlin live action series, he provides the voice of the Great Dragon. It’s an amazing role for him. And fitting that he’s a dragon, isn’t it? And of course, he played The War Doctor. It, despite the brevity of the screen time, was a role that he seemed destined to play. Oh, for an entire series of stories about his Doctor! Big Finish, the audiobook company, had the singular honor of having him flesh out his character in a series of stories that he did with them just before his death. I’ve heard some, they’re quite remarkable. If I’ve missed anything about him that you feel I should’ve touched upon, do tell me. (Died 2017.)
Born January 22, 1965 — Diane Lane, 58. I’ve got her as Ellen Aim in Streets of Fire which I count as genre. She’s Chief Judge Barbara Hershey in Judge Dredd, a film I’ll freely admit that I actually like because it catches the pop culture feel of the 2000 A.D. comics in a way the second film doesn’t. Next up for her is playing Mary Rice in Jumper. She’s been playing Martha Kent in the DC Universe films as of late.
Born January 22, 1969 — Olivia d’Abo, 54. She makes the Birthday Honors list for being Amanda Rogers, a female Q, in the “True Q” episode on Next Generation. Setting that gig aside, she’s got a long and extensive SFF series history. Conan the Destroyer, Beyond the Stars, Asterix Conquers America, Tarzan & Jane and Justice League Doom are some of her film work, while her series work includes Fantasy Island, Batman Beyond, Twilight Zone, Eureka and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
The Argyle Sweater was recommended by Rich Lynch because he thinks John Hertz will love it. Maybe you will, too?
Marmaduke keeps watching the skies – and it pays off!
(11) I’M SORRY, I’LL READ THAT AGAIN. Brian Keene says the says in his weekly Substack he’s been sorting through his and J.F. Gonzalez’s archives for things that will go to the University of Pittsburgh. In the middle of a paragraph this line caught my eye:
…There are some gems among the correspondence — letters between Richard Laymon and myself, letters between Robert Bloch and Jesus….
Well, Jesus was Gonzalez’s first name. But I knew Robert Bloch and for a moment I flashed on what seemed an unexpected discovery from his fertile imagination.
(12) DISNEY’S STAR WARS PLANS IN TROUBLE? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Some aspects of Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars IP are working out great for them; others not so much. Because of underwhelming box office for several films, the concept of theatrical release for a movie a year has faltered. Partially counterbalancing that, the small screen Star Wars series on Disney+ have proved a buffer.
Star Wars theme park attractions seem to be doing great business, but it now develops that the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser theme hotel—where 2-night immersive experiences start at mid-four-figures—will be sitting empty part of the time. Disney has canceled several “voyages“ in July, August, and September. People who had already booked for those dates have been offered a 50% discount if they will accept a different date.
… “A number of our readers have also noticed Facebook posts which advertise the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser and include lesser known characters. There appear to be quite a few “absolutely loved this” posts from people claiming they were guests on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser which if you look at their profiles have no info at all, no town, school, or jobs. This leads us to question their authenticity,” Theme Park Tourist alleged.
Overall, the cancellations are more troubling than potential fake reviews. It’s possible that Disney built an attraction with tremendous appeal, but a limited audience due to price and little reason for people to visit more than once. You can take your family on a Disney Cruise for 7 nights for less than what Galactic Starcruiser costs and that’s a lot easier to justify than a two-day trip.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Steven French, Rich Lynch, Olav Rokne, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jamoche.]
Thanks to N. for providing the translations, who credits Terrie Hashmoto with tips and some of the translations. All titles are in English, with Romanji in the Long Work and Short Story categories. English titles, in the event of no existing English title, are translated.
BEST JAPANESE LONG WORK
Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut (Tsuki to Raika to Nosferatu), by Keisuke Makino (Gagaga Bunko, 10/19, 7 volumes)
Man Kind, by Taiyo Fujii (S-F Magazine, serialization ended in August 2021 issue)
BEST JAPANESE SHORT STORY
“How to Defeat Science Fiction Writers” (SF Sakka no Taoshikata), by Satoshi Ogawa (Anomalous Papers, Kyosuke Higuchi, ed. Hayakawa, 10/19)
BEST TRANSLATED LONG WORK
Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir (translated by Kazuko Onoda)
BEST TRANSLATED SHORT STORY
“The One With the Interstellar Group Consciousnesses” by James Alan Gardner (translated by Chiori Sada)
“The new movie version, which spanned almost 15 years since 2007, has finally come to an end. Starting from the TV series, it has been about 25 years. Many people did not live to see the end, and the conclusion of the event literally embodied the curse of Eva. We would like to pay tribute not only to the movie as a stand-alone product, but also to the completion of the series over the years.”
TWEETED ACCEPTANCE REMARKS
Best Long Work [Tie]:
“Man Kind,” which ended its serialization last year, has been selected for the 53rd Nebula Award in the Novel category. Thank you to all of you who have been following my long serialization.
The “Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut” series has won the “Nebula Award, Japanese Novel Category”! (Simultaneously awarded with Mr. Taiyo Fujii) We are very grateful for this wonderful honor and for all of you who supported us. Thank you so much!
Best Dramatic Presentation: Here is the award for Godzilla.
“Godzilla Singular Point” has won the 53rd Nebula Award in the media category! Director Atsushi Takahashi took the stage at today’s award ceremony at the 59th Japan Science Fiction Convention F-CON.
Please enjoy #Godzilla SP on Blu-ray & DVD and Netflix!
“Zettai Karen Children” won the Nebula Award in the comic category. Thank you! Finally, I was recognized as a science fiction writer! From now on, it is now safe to call myself a “science fiction writer!” (How about that?)
“#GAKKEN’s Illustrated Book: Super Sentai” won the Nebula Award!
We are very honored to announce that we have won the 53rd #Nebula Award for Nonfiction! Thank you very much for this very prestigious award! We would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all those who recommended and voted for this book!