(1) CALL FOR ATTITUDE CHANGE. Robert Zubrin and two associates discuss the search for life on Mars in the New Atlantis. “How to Search for Life on Mars” – “First, stop refusing to look.”
… The search for life ought to be the great passion animating Mars exploration. But it has not been a goal for NASA. In fact, NASA’s public relations department frequently claims that the agency’s Mars exploration program is meant to “seek signs of life.” They say this because they know that it is what the public is — rightly — interested in. Unfortunately, the claim just isn’t true. NASA’s Mars robotic exploration program is actually focused on geological research, while its planned human Mars exploration program — inasmuch as it exists at all — is not being designed to properly support scientific exploration of any kind.
The last time our space agency conducted experiments to identify signs of living microbes on the planet was in 1976. The 2012 Curiosity rover was meant only to find out “if Mars was ever able to support microbial life,” and the 2021 Perseverance mission was to collect geological samples for later retrieval and perhaps find signs of ancient life — neither aimed at finding living things on the planet today….
(2) DREAMHAVEN MURAL. A bit of criminal activity almost stalled today’s plans to keep painting the DreamHaven Books mural. First they announced.
Things were going so well with the mural but now someone came in the middle of the night and stole the scaffolding.
UN-FUCK! We found the scaffolding. Some asshole wheeled it off behind a nearby building. A neighbor saw it happen and knew vaguely where it had been taken. We already had new scaffolding being delivered and I was planning to spend the night to ensure it stayed in place. I’m still staying tonight. Mark is doing Cheech Wizard right now and Little Nemo and backgrounds tomorrow.
…Though the publishing industry would never condone book banning, a subtler form of repression is taking place in the literary world, restricting intellectual and artistic expression from behind closed doors, and often defending these restrictions with thoughtful-sounding rationales. As many top editors and publishing executives admit off the record, a real strain of self-censorship has emerged that many otherwise liberal-minded editors, agents and authors feel compelled to take part in.
Over the course of his long career, John Sargent, who was chief executive of Macmillan until last year and is widely respected in the industry for his staunch defense of freedom of expression, witnessed the growing forces of censorship — outside the industry, with overt book-banning efforts on the political right, but also within the industry, through self-censorship and fear of public outcry from those on the far left.
“It’s happening on both sides,” Sargent told me recently. “It’s just a different mechanism. On the right, it’s going through institutions and school boards, and on the left, it’s using social media as a tool of activism. It’s aggressively protesting to increase the pain threshold, until there’s censorship going the other way.”
In the face of those pressures, publishers have adopted a defensive crouch, taking pre-emptive measures to avoid controversy and criticism. Now, many books the left might object to never make it to bookshelves because a softer form of banishment happens earlier in the publishing process: scuttling a project for ideological reasons before a deal is signed, or defusing or eliminating “sensitive” material in the course of editing….
…What is often missed in the early drafting of characters is the up-close observation necessary to fully render their emotional expression, which in turn accentuates their uniqueness. One way we can develop our characters is to consider the individuality and expression of a character’s eyebrows.
Eyebrows can be an important window into a character’s interior world. When we scrutinize with words the detail of movement and expression individual to each person, we create an orchestration, a living symphony of movement and energy, indicative of a living world. To do this takes attention, rumination, and concentrated focus on the people we’re writing….
(5) IN THE PIPELINE. Andrew Porter shared this list of titles from the late Eric Flint that have already been delivered and are on the schedule for Baen, which he received from Toni Weisskopf.
July 2022 1812: The Rivers of War-first Baen publication, trade pb
August 2022 The Crossing by Kevin Ikenberry-hardcover (not by Eric, but an Assiti Shards novel)
September 2022 To End in Fire by David Weber & Eric Flint-mass market reprint 1637: Dr. Gribbleflotz and the Soul of Stoner by Kerryn Offord & Rick Boatwright-mass market reprint
November 2022 1637: The Transylvanian Decision by Eric Flint & Robert Waters-hardcover
January 2023 Grantville Gazette IX-mass market reprint
April 2023 1637: The Coast of Chaos by Eric Flint et al.-mass market reprint
September 2023 1638: The Siberian Enterprise by Eric Flint, Paula Goodlett & Gorg Huff-hardcover
Since the Space Force was established in 2019, there has been the lingering question of what, exactly, it does.
One would certainly hope that the branch would be heavily involved in a theoretical battle between aliens and dragons in space. The occurrence of which, apparently, one helpful citizen was trying to warn the Space Force about last week.
At Patrick Space Force Base, Corey Johnson, 29, was arrested for trying to enter the installation. The reason? According to what he told arresting officers, he was there on behalf of the President to alert the Space Force that there were “US aliens fighting with Chinese dragons.”…
(7) THE ULTIMATE SPACE RACE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The space battle between the U.S. and the USSR is explained by Ambient Press in less than three minutes!
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
2022 – [By Cat Eldridge.]Green Lantern: Beware My Power (2022). I forgot that had preordered this animated DC film some months ago until I got an email a few hours ago that it was available for download. I’m a big fan of Green Lantern and very much enjoyed the animated series and abhorred the live film (I made maybe twenty minutes into it before giving up), so I figured that I’d like it based on the trailer that I watched on iTunes.
So I downloaded it to my iPad and started watching it. It’s the forty eighth film in the DC Animated Movie Universe influenced predominantly by The New 52 which rebooted the DC Universe. No, I’ve seen all of them by any means!
The animation style is a clean, adult style affair and the language is too with an occasional “shit” allowed. It’s a strong PG-13 and you can see the trailer trail here.
John Stewart is a black marine sniper, voiced here by Aldis Hodge (playing Hawkman in Black Adam) who is given a Lantern Ring by a dying member of the Lantern Corps. He’s not at all happy about that as he’s forsworn violence, and doesn’t have a clue what the Lanterns are. Furthermore the mission here isn’t really explained at all, and I’ve avoiding spoilers, so he and Green Arrow plus Hawkgirl figure out things as they go along.
It was directed by Wamester from a stellar screenplay by E. J. Altbacker and John Semper. The former was involved with the Green Lantern: The Animated Series; the latter wrote for a Cyborg series.
I highly recommend it.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 26, 1894 — Aldous Huxley. Brave New World is fascinating. I knew I had it assigned and sort of discussed in a High School class and at least one Uni class a very long time ago. So what else is genre by him and worth reading? I see his Time Must Have a Stop novel was on the longlist at CoNZealand. (Died 1963.)
Born July 26, 1928 — Stanley Kubrick. I’m reasonably sure 2001: A Space Odyssey was the first film I saw by him but Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was the one that impressed me the most. A Clockwork Orange was just too damn depressing. And I’m not a horror fan as such so I never saw The Shining. Barry Lyndon is great but it’s not genre by any means. (Died 1999.)
Born July 26, 1945 — Helen Mirren, 77. She first graces our presences as Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She next shows up in a genre role as Alice Rage in The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, Peter Sellars’s last film. She’s an ever so delicious Morgana in Excalibur and then leaps into the future as Tanya Kirbuk in 2010: The Year We Make Contact. She voices the evil lead role in The Snow Queen, and likewise is Deep Thought in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Born July 26, 1945 — M. John Harrison, 77. Winner of the Otherwise Award. TheViriconium sequence, I hesitate to call it a series, starting with The Pastel City, is some of the most elegant fantasy I’ve read. And I see he’s a SJW as he’s written the Tag, the Cat series which I need to take a look at again. He’s also been a major critic for the past thirty years reviewing fiction and nonfiction for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, the Times Literary Supplement and The New York Times. He’s lightly stocked at the usual suspects though TheViriconium sequence is there at a very reasonable price. And his short stories are excellent, so may I recommend Settling the World: Selected Stories 1970-2020?
Born July 26, 1954 — Lawrence Watt-Evans, 68. Ok I’ll admit as I’ve said before that I’ve not read “Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers” which won him a short fiction Hugo at Conspiracy ’87. It also was nominated for a Nebula and won an Asimov’s Reader’s Poll that year. It’d be his only Hugo. So I’m curious what Hugo voters saw in it. Yes, I’ve read him — his War Surplus series is quite excellent.
Born July 26, 1978 — Eve Myles, 44. She’s a a Welsh actress from Ystradgynlais, convenient as she played Gwen Cooper on Torchwood which was set in and shot in Cardiff. She previously played the servant girl Gwyneth in the Doctor Who episode “The Unquiet Dead” during the Ninth Doctor’s time.
(10) BOOK TRAILER.Giant Island by World Fantasy Award Lifetime Achievement winner Jane Yolen and award-winning fantasy illustrator Doug Keith will be released in August.
Two children explore the caves and coves of the tiny and oddly-named Giant Island. Under Grandpa’s watchful eye, Ava, Mason, and dog Cooper finally fathom that the island is much more than it seems: the craggy rocks, windswept trees, and unusual grotto are all parts of a submerged giant. Yolen’s text charms with hints of age-old magic and pays tribute to mystery, curiosity, and friendship. Keith’s wondrous watercolor paintings invite young readers to pore over the pages to discover the clues to this “huge” secret. Giant Island is a delightful, intergenerational and interspecies adventure for all ages.
In the near future, Earth has established diplomatic relations with aliens known as Logi, sort-of-but-not-quite humanoids who cannot speak in sound and use telepathy instead. To facilitate the daily business of politics, some humans are trained in specialized schools to understand Logi telepathy and translate into human speech. Each Logi visitor is thus paired with a human interpreter who accompanies them at their official appearances and handles their routine communication with Earth governments.
The catch? The Logi language does funny things to the human brain. After a few minutes of hosting alien thoughts in your head, you start feeling drunk. Too much talking in one day, and you might pass out.
So when our protagonist Lydia, the interpreter assigned to the Logi cultural attaché, wakes up from a massive blackout to find her boss murdered on his sofa, she has to quickly decide whom to trust and whom to suspect, because this is a future where impressions are everything, and the wording of a message can have rippling effects on public opinion.
(12) GAMING FOR THE HIGHEST STAKES.SPARK stands for Solar Prime Augmented Reality Park, a destination for gamers in Pat Daily’s debut novel.
In his mother’s last letter, she wrote, “Find me. Save me.” And Will Kwan had heard those words before. He’d heard them in a video game. Solar Prime Augmented Reality Park, or SPARK, is a theme park for gamers: a sprawling virtual reality complex with quests and games that appeal to all ages. But beneath the surface, SPARK harbors many a secret. When sixteen-year-old Will has to escape the foster system, SPARK is his destination. “Find me. Save me.” What had his mother meant? At SPARK, he runs headlong into the force of nature known as Feral Daughter, another runaway who has chosen to make SPARK her home and her life. As their friendship grows, Will begins to walk a path that will unveil not only the secrets of SPARK, but also a whole new perception of his world. So when terrorists threaten his new home and new friend, Will cannot stand idly by. Can Will finally get his closure? Or will SPARK be destroyed, along with the new life he has built?
Pat Daily is an engineer and former Air Force test pilot who worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center on both the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs. When not writing or trying to bring new airplane designs to life, Pat can be found gaming online. He is a fan of role-playing games – particularly open worlds with engaging storylines where actions have consequences.
The proposed T. rex reclassification struck the paleontology community like an asteroid, igniting passionate debates. On Monday, another team of paleontologists published the first peer-reviewed counterattack.
“The evidence was not convincing and had to be responded to because T. rex research goes well beyond science and into the public sphere,” said Thomas Carr, a paleontologist at Carthage College in Wisconsin and an author of the new rebuttal. “It would have been unreasonable to leave the public thinking that the multiple species hypothesis was fact.”
The earlier team of researchers have anticipated the rebuttal, which was published in the journal Evolutionary Biology. Gregory Paul, one of the authors of the original study, is working on another paper and says many of the rebuttal’s claims are outlandish…..
A respected Polish scientific institute has classified domestic cats as an “invasive alien species,” citing the damage they cause to birds and other wildlife…
(15) ONCE AGAIN, WHERE DOES IT RAIN? [Item by Danny Sichel.] Last month, psycholinguist Anne Cutler died, and renewed attention was given to her 1994 paper The perception of rhythm in language, which at two and a half pages long is the greatest scientific paper ever written.
When the World Wide Web made its public debut in the early nineteen-nineties, it fascinated many and struck some as revolutionary, but the idea of watching a film online would still have sounded like sheer fantasy. Yet on May 23rd, 1993, reported the New York Times‘ John Markoff, “a small audience scattered among a few dozen computer laboratories gathered” to “watch the first movie to be transmitted on the Internet — the global computer network that connects millions of scientists and academic researchers and hitherto has been a medium for swapping research notes and an occasional still image.”
That explanation speaks volumes about how life online was perceived by the average New York Times reader three decades ago. But it was hardly the average New York Times reader who tuned into the internet’s very first film screening, whose feature presentation was Wax or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees. Completed in 1991 by artist David Blair, this hybrid fiction and essay-film offered to its viewers what Times critic Stephen Holden called “a multi-generational family saga as it might be imagined by a cyberpunk novelist…
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Ms. Marvel,” the Screen Junkies say that Ms. Marvel is not only the first Pakistani superhero in the MCU, but also the first MCU superhero from New Jersey. But while she faces “yet another poorly developed Marvel villain and two hunky guys competing for her attention, she is also the first mutant in the MCU since they re-acquired the X-Men, “Come for the origin of the X-Men–stay for the origin of Pakistan!”
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Danny Sichel, Francis Hamit, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
…Still no word but maybe today I can meet with both my psychiatrist and a lawyer because I think I am spent. I am fighting back a flare-up, I am ignoring the costochondritis pain in my chest, and I finally managed to get food down without fear of it coming back up. I think I’ll be good for now but this is still dangling over my head and freaking me out. I have ripped out so much hair on one side that I contemplated cutting it all off again. I just need to breathe deeply and take it moment by moment. The first step, the tests were negative. Remember that. The second step, get my meetings set, and the third step, don’t panic and do my best to carry on.
I love you, Loves. Thank you for keeping me sane. I think without your support I would have crumbled and given up. This is a style of attack that I’m unfamiliar with but with like most things, a Black girl’s tears won’t get you shit so you shake it off and move on. I can attempt to start to do that because of your belief in me. Thank you so very much….
(2) PANEL MODERATOR’S STATEMENT. Sarah Avery, moderator of the “Diversity Readers and Why You Need Them” which is the source of the complaint, made a statement in File 770 comments. (It’s also on Twitter: thread starts here.)
I was the moderator on that panel, and the first moment I heard about what happened to Stephanie was 30 minutes ago from a person whose only involvement with Balticon was as an attendee. I am Not Thrilled about having to go to Facebook and File 770 to get details about this situation. After searching my email inbox, spam, and incoming social media messages, I haven’t found any attempts to contact me from the people investigating the incident. It’s possible there have been attempts I haven’t found, or that the person investigating got my contact info wrong, but it’s not looking great at the moment.
Because I got stuck in traffic on the way into Baltimore, I was a little over 10 minutes late for a panel I was scheduled to moderate. That is mortifying and entirely on me. It is possible that whatever the complaint is about happened while I was not yet in the room.
I’ve been playing back my recollections of the panel from the moment I did arrive, trying to match things Stephanie said with the adjectives in her account of the accusations against her. As a white cishet woman, I know I am not optimally attuned to what is hurtful to all the kinds of people whose lives are unlike mine. (The reason I volunteered to moderate a panel on why writers need diversity readers is that I knew I specifically was a writer who needed them.) Until I can find out more about the contents of the complaint, I’m not able to make any kind of declaration on either the complainant’s assertions or Stephanie’s about the diversity readers panel.
I can say that nothing I saw or heard called for the way Stephanie was pulled out of an ongoing panel. That event shocks me.
(3) ONE AUTHOR’S THOUGHTS GOING FORWARD. Gail Z. Martin on Facebook criticized Balticon’s handling of the code of conduct complaint, and demanded conventions implement specified improvements if they expect authors to accept the risks of appearing on panels. The text of the post can also be read in the following tweet:
(4) WISCON COVID EXPOSURE REPORT. WisCon was held last weekend in Madison, WI and the committee is collecting and sharing reports of positive Covid tests from those who attended in person in this Google spreadsheet: “Possible exposure locations”. There are 10 positives listed to date.
Those who attended the convention in person are receiving email updates:
What makes Arab and Muslim science fiction special?
EA: That’s the million-dollar question. I’d say we place the spirit center stage. We want to shelter it from corrupting influences, technological arrogance included, which is a Quranic injunction. Evil suggestions don’t just come from the devil; they come from within. And the world on the outside is perceived as mystical and miraculous.
We have a lot in common with sci-fi from the Global South, too. Our concerns lie elsewhere, whether it’s turning the deserts green or maintaining family values, or honoring religion. As Arabs especially, we love gardens and vines and family get-togethers in our mini-utopias. As Muslims, we have a much more holistic vision of the future, of what the future should look like, with peaceful coexistence and a much more genteel attitude to everything, from mental and spiritual health, to alien contact and space exploration. Our heroes, while predominantly men, aren’t criticized for crying during profound moments and women are surprisingly well represented and proactive in our stories. There’s still room for improvement though.
Of course not all Arab and Muslim sci-fi is quite so benign and optimistic, especially post-Arab Spring, but you can still feel that positive force in the background, even as younger authors take on the mantle of alien invasion epics and dystopias. You find chivalry and redemption creeping in through the back door. Our humor is very tongue-in-cheek too.
“There are more than 20 million sentient species in the Star Wars galaxy, don’t choose to be a racist,” began the message from Disney accounts. “We are proud to welcome Moses Ingram to the Star Wars family and excited for Reva’s story to unfold. If anyone intends to make her feel in any way unwelcome, we have only one thing to say: we resist.”
Ingram plays Reva Sevander, aka the Third Sister, who is hunting Obi-Wan Kenobi for Darth Vader in the new Disney+ series, shared on her Instagram stories several of the absolutely horrendous online messages aimed at her, some of which included the N-word.
“There’s nothing anybody can do about this,” Ingram said in a video after sharing the spewed venom she’s endured. “There’s nothing anybody can do to stop this hate. I question my purpose in even being here in front of you saying that this is happening. I don’t really know.”
She continued, “The thing that bothers me is this feeling inside of myself, that no one has told me, but this feeling that I have to shut up and take it, that I have to grin and bear it. And I’m not built like that. So, I wanted to come on and say thank you to the people who show up for me in the comments and the places that I’m not going to put myself. And to the rest of y’all, y’all weird.”
Around 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Ewan McGregor posted a message about the abuse via the Star Wars account, both about Obi-Wan Kenobi being the most-watched Disney+ original series premiere, but most importantly about the abuse Ingram has endured.
“It seems that some of the fan base has decided to attack Moses Ingram online and send her the most horrendous, racist [direct messages]. I heard some of them this morning, and it just broke my heart,” he said. “Moses is a brilliant actor. She is a brilliant woman. And she is absolutely amazing in this series. She brings so much to the series, she brings so much to the franchise. And it just sickened me to my stomach that this had been happening. I just want to say as the lead actor in the series, as the executive producer on the series, that we stand with Moses. We love Moses. And if you’re sending her bullying messages, you’re no Star Wars fan in my mind. There’s no place for racism in this world. And I totally stand with Moses.”
(7) COUNT THE CLOCK THAT TELLS THE TIME.Mad Genius Club’s Amanda S. Green offers “A Word or Two of Warning” about a defect in Kindle Direct Publishing’s countdown clock.
…Except, the change didn’t take. It didn’t take twice. Additional calls to KDP Support revealed the following:
KDP knows there is a problem with the countdown clock. It does occasionally decide to take time away from the author
KDP knows this but has not, so far at least fixed the issue
KDP techs have no way to override the program, no matter what the reason. Once that timer starts, the software runs everything and humans are helpless. (Hmm, sounds like maybe they are sharing software and/or developers with FB. It worships the power of the ‘bot as well)
And here’s the kicker. The only options you are given when you are at this point is to cancel the pre-order and hope Amazon will waive the penalty of no pre-orders allowed for a year (and there is no guarantee they will) or you can go ahead and upload the file, incomplete though it might be and, as soon as the book goes live, upload the correct file.
As I later announced on my blog and social media, I chose the latter. Except I’m sure I did it in such a way Amazon won’t exactly appreciate. I uploaded the file with a disclaimer attached saying it is not the final file. That if you have bought the book and you see this particular page, you have the wrong file and this is how to get the correct file. I included instructions on how to download the correct file or contact me–and I set up a special email account for this purpose–in case it doesn’t work….
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
Like many of us that are attracted to horror, it was real-life trauma. I saw and heard things no one else could as a child but the adults around me advised me to ignore it. It became a thing to not talk about because it made everyone around me uncomfortable. As an adult, I understand now what a creepy child I was but at the time it was frustrating. Horror stories were more real to me than daily life because they were populated with people like me in them. People heard disembodied voices, interacted with shadows, and saw people no one else could. They were often told, like me, it was just imagination but they knew—and I knew—these things were real. It made me feel less of an outsider to read these stories. I realized I wasn’t actually so weird, I was just in the wrong story.
Alex Brown is an award-winning SF&F critic (2020 Ignyte Best Critic Award), librarian and fan writer who has written for Locus, Tor.com, NPR and Buzzfeed. They’ve also written two non-fiction books about the Napa Valley….
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1990 – [By Cat Eldridge.] I saw Total Recall at a theater when it first came out and yes I really, really like it.
It was directed by Paul Verhoeven, three years after he had done RoboCop. Though he didn’t get a Hugo nomination for that film, he’d get one for this film at Chicon V. (And Starship Troopers picked one up at BucConeer.) The screenplay was by Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusettand and Gary Goldman from a story by O’Bannon along with Ronald Shusett and Jon Povill. It was produced by Buzz Feitshans, who previously produced Conan the Barbarian, and Ronald Shusett.
As you know, it was based (rather loosely) upon Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in April 1966. Shusett was the first individual to option this story.
Ok, this film is pure SF pulp. It’s not to be taken seriously, the setting is pure pulp, the characters are more fitting for a Thirties serial than the setting they are in and the script is at best just cobbled together. More than one review notes that it went through a lot of rewrites.
The primary cast of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside and Ronny Cox are perfect for it. Schwarzenegger had long wanted to play the lead but studio politics kept him from doing so. Eventually it was OKed by a studio that had a studio that had, oh you get the idea.
To this day, no one knows how much it costs to produce but it’s thought to be at least eighty million dollars which was OK as it made a quarter of a billion dollars. Yeah it was a very popular film with the public.
Now what did the critics think of it? It got a decidedly mixed reception.
Rita Kempley at the Washington Post really didn’t like it: “Aside from a few terrific effects, ‘Total Recall’ is not good science fiction. Despite the big budget, it is a wasteland of latex prostheses, dreary sets and broken glass. Its main selling point — the story line — betrays the audience with its sheepish ending. And its star gives an unusually oafish performance, a cross between Frankenstein’s monster, a hockey puck with swollen glands and Col. Klink. Like Stallone, Schwarzenegger is a talking cartoon whose objective is to make violence fun. And they called Conan the barbarian.”
But Michael Wilmington at the Los Angeles Times was much kinder: “Verhoeven, working from an often-rewritten screenplay distantly based on Philip K. Dick’s brilliant 1966 short story ‘We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,’ keeps ringing these truth-or-illusion changes throughout the movie. And if they don’t always click, if the movie sometimes seems overwhelmed by its budget and its legendary third-act problems, it’s still entertainingly raw and brutal, full of whiplash pace and juicy exaggeration.”
Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a most excellent seventy eight percent rating.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 31, 1895 — George R. Stewart. As we have noted here, his 1949 novel Earth Abides won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951. That was a British award and the first one, this very one, was given at Festivention. Other genre works would include Man, An Autobiography and Storm which is at least genre adjacent. (Died 1980.)
Born May 31, 1914 — Jay Williams. He’s best remembered for his young adult Danny Dunn SFF series which he co-authored with Raymond Abrashkin. Though Abrashkin died in 1960, Williams insisted HIS CO-author should continue to receive credit as co-author of all 15 books of this series. Though his first novel, The Stolen Oracle was a mystery for adults, he did write mysteries for young adults, such as The Counterfeit African and The Roman Moon Mystery, both written in the Forties. (Died 1978.)
Born May 31, 1930 — Elaine Stewart. Born with the name of the of Elsy Henrietta Maria Steinberg. She was Jane Ashton in Brigadoon which is surely genre. She also in The Adventures of Hajji Baba as Princess Fakzia. (Died 2011.)
Born May 31, 1950 — Gregory Harrison, 72. I’m always surprised to discover a series didn’t last as long as I thought it did. He was Logan 5 in Logan’s Run which only lasted fourteen episodes. He was also in Dark Skies, twenty episodes before cancellation, as the voice of Old John Loengard, and had one-offs in Dead Man’s Gun (cursed object and that series actually lasted awhile), Touched by an Angel, Outer Limits and Miracles.
Born May 31, 1961 — Lea Thompson, 61. She’s obviously best known for her role as Lorraine Baines in the Back to the Future trilogy though I remember her first as Beverly Switzler in Howard the Duck as I saw Back to the Future after I saw Howard the Duck. Not sure why that was. Her first genre role was actually as Kelly Ann Bukowski in Jaws 3-D, a film I most decidedly did not see. If you accept the Scorpion series as genre, she’s got a recurring role as Veronica Dineen on it.
Born May 31, 1976 — Colin Farrell, 46. I remember him first as Bullseye in the much dissed Daredevil film. (It wasn’t that bad.) He was in Minority Report as Danny Witwer, a film I’ve skipped watching. And I see he’s listed as being the third transformation of Tony in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. H’h. Now he was Peter Lake in Winter’s Tale, a take off of Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin, a novel no film could do justice to. Oh, he’s Holt Farrier in Dumbo… Now I know he was Douglas Quaid / Agent Carl Hauser in the remake of Total Recall but as you know from the essay above I really, really like the original film so I’ve not watched it. So who here has seen it?
Born May 31, 1979 — Sophia McDougall, 43. She has a very well-crafted alternative history series, the Romanitas series, in which Rome didn’t fall and rules the world today. She has two SF novel — Mars Evacuees is sort of YA alien invasion novel; Space Hostages reminds me of a Heinlein YA novel.
Born May 31, 1995 — Jeremy Szal, 27. He says he was (probably) raised by wild dingoes. He writes about galactic adventures, wide-screen futures, and broken characters fighting for hope in dark worlds. He is author of the dark space-opera novel Stormblood published in February 2020 (more recently launched in the US), and is the first of a trilogy. His short fiction has appeared in Nature, Abyss & Apex, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Tor.com, The Drabblecast. He is the fiction editor for the Hugo-winning StarShipSofa, which once lead to Harlan Ellison yelling at him on the phone. He carves out a living in sun-bleached Sydney, Australia. He loves watching weird movies, collecting boutique gins, exploring cities, and dark humour. Find him at http://jeremyszal.com/ or @JeremySzal (By Jeremy Szal)
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Broom Hildalearns why a bar is popular with a certain kind of deceased customer.
Digital artist Saba Moeel creates her Pink Cat Daily comics on Instagram for around five years, with a following of around a quarter of a million people. Pink Cat is a human/cat hybrid that sports many tattoos, takes drugs, and talks in spiritual slang and punchlines, and is basically what if Tank Girl and Garfield had a kid and left her with a bunch of hippies. Pink Cat has been collected in comic book collections, but it’s not the physical manifestations of Pink Cat that are causing problems, it’s the digital. Of the non-fungible kind.
TCAF is rescinding its invitation to Pink Cat, also known as Saba Moeel, due to code of conduct violations and the concerns expressed by the comics community.
TCAF initially extended a programming invitation to Moeel on the basis of their daily digital comics work on Instagram, and the personal importance that work had to one of our team members. At the time of this invitation, the organization was unaware of Moeel’s online conduct, plagiarism, or allegations of tracing. We apologize for programming and promoting this artist.
We made a mistake. As a promise to our community, we will use this as a learning moment as we move forward as an organization, and will re-examine the checks and balances we currently use to process our programming decisions.
“Yeah these guys invited me to disinvite me. They payed flight hotel etc, i didnt even know who they were. Very weird
“This isn’t my world, I’m a real life artist I don’t care about organizations or trade shows, I have my own following it’s not a cult following it’s mainstream. The LA times called me the Gen Z Garfield, we aren’t in the same league.”
The 40-year-old actress announced Friday that she’s exiting the futuristic dystopian Hulu series after the show’s fourth season, which aired last spring.
“After much thought, I felt I had to step away from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ at this time,” Bledel said in a statement provided to USA TODAY by her representative. “I am forever grateful to (show creator) Bruce Miller for writing such truthful and resonant scenes for Emily, and to Hulu, MGM, the cast and crew for their support.”
…Lewis had a lifelong interest in medieval cosmology. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that Earth was stationary, surrounded by seven concentric “heavens,” each with its own planet which in turn had particular influences on Earth, affecting people and events in various ways. While we might consider this cosmological model entirely outdated, Lewis found some continuing importance in it. He described the planets as “spiritual symbols of permanent value” and wrote about them extensively. The best planet, according to medieval thought, was Jupiter, responsible for “heartsease” and prosperity, bringing about festivity and magnanimity in peaceable kingdoms. The worst planet was Saturn, sponsor of death, destruction, darkness, and disaster. The very word “disaster” means “bad star,” and Saturn was the most malignant of the wandering stars.
Lewis remarked that his own generation had been “born under Saturn,” doomed to experience an especially bleak period in history. Having endured the horrors of the Great War, some of his contemporaries had adopted a fixed attitude of pessimism and cynicism. They had come to believe that the universe was, in Lewis’s term, “Saturnocentric.” Hence the modernist tendency to focus on chaos and disorder, T. S. Eliot’s “heap of broken images” as he calls it in “The Wasteland.” Hence also the new impetus behind such artistic and philosophical movements as absurdism and nihilism. For how could there ever again be purpose and hope in the wake of the Battle of the Somme? On the opening day of that battle, July 1, 1916, almost twenty thousand British soldiers were killed and nearly forty thousand wounded. What further proof need there be that gallantry and patriotism are folly? The poet Wilfred Owen took aim at the schoolboy’s Horatian tag, dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (“it is sweet and seemly to die for one’s country”), calling it “the old Lie.”…
When the sky gets light in the east I often wake. Pleased that day has almost arrived, I sometimes snuggle back into my sleeping bag for a last snooze; other times I put my glasses on and lie on my back and watch the stars wink out. The dawn sky is gray before it takes on the blue color. Sometimes peaks to the west of camp have a dawn alpenglow, more yellow than pink. It’s cold, but often I’m done with sleeping, and things are visible, and very likely I have to pee….
(17) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was on Jeopardy! patrol tonight when this happened:
Category: Book of the Year
Answer: “Daybreak-2250 A.D.” is by prolific author Mary Alice Norton, better known to sci-fi fans by this first name.
Witness the action-packed induction of John Stewart to the Green Lantern Corps, and his first thrilling adventure alongside some familiar faces, when Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases the all-new animated movie Green Lantern: Beware My Power on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray and Digital on July 26, 2022.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Ib “Honest Trailers: Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” the Screen Junkies say that Ben Schwartz, who voices Sonic, has played so many characters that are blue that we should look for him in the AVATAR sequel. Also, the second act diversion into a Hawaiian-set rom-com is “the best Tyler Perry movie hidden in a video game project.”
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Hampus Eckerman, JeremySzal, Will R., Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Maytree.]
By James Bacon: The collected edition of Far Sector is now available with a slew of wonderful extras including concept art and designs from Jamal and an introduction from Gerard Way. The Eisner Award nominated. These 12 comics were absolutely stunning. As previously mentioned (“James Bacon Reviews Far Sector”), Far Sector stands out so strongly, a fresh and genuinely brilliant comic. Nora K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell have created a wonderful character in Sojourner Mullein, ‘Jo’ from Brooklyn, the world Jo has been requested by is utterly fascinating, a Dyson Swarm at the far reaches of the galaxy. While it is set in the DC Universe and our protagonist is a Green Lantern, the surrounding science fictional storytelling is utterly fabulous, and this is matched in very finely drawn panels, Campbell really utilizing every square inch of the pages to portray excitement and give a real sense of place. A unique, bewilderingly beautiful place inhabited by three distinct species. The crime spirals, the murderer becomes murdered, politics and relationships between Jo and ‘The Trilogy’ the representatives of the three species twists and turns as we delve deeper into this astonishing new world.
Campbell’s artwork is vibrant and polished, complementing with intricate backgrounds portraying fantastically this imaginative science fictional world, to nearly the design level of detail. Jemisin knows her Green Lantern, that is for sure, this is an incredibly cracking good story, so neatly crafted and yet one always feels that there is such depth, the historical visual references, which readers may know, or may search for, the flashbacks, Jo watching on horrified as a victim is pistol whipped by her police partner, her life a real and difficult challenge that she has risen to, it is poignant and of the moment, and then here we have Guardians of the Peace turn emotionlessly on those they are meant to protect. One of the best comics you will read this year.
This was such a wonderful experience to be part of, Nora was so much fun, exceptionally engaging and there was just so much laughter. It was so delightful to hear the insights, but also it was a lovely hour, and a lot of fun. Any errors in the below are my own, as I transcribed by ear, as best I could and edited some questions for clarity. My transcription will also be copy edited, but errors lie with me.
Anne Brennaman: What’s it like to be able to create a Green Lantern, to put that stamp on the mythos?
N.K. Jemisin: [I first noted that Anne was wearing a Green Lantern Ring, and spoke about her friend who wouldn’t give her a Green Lantern ring, and they talked about this with much laughter and Anne noted she has the whole set, then Nora continued]: You are a hard core fan and I was not before they asked me to do this, specifically it was Gerard Way who asked me to do, and I was not interested in Green Lantern before that, and I had not even seen the movie, and my mental concepton of Green Lantern was shaped by my like of the Justice League back in the day, and I thought of John Stewart as the main Green Lantern, as that is what it was and I just wasn’t interested, or found it super clever. And then Gerard started explaining the world and his conception of what he wanted, and the world as he described was a world far away, beyond the regular sectors where Love is outlawed, and I was like, that is not going to work as love is paired with too many emotions and it has to be the whole set, and any time you give me carte blanch to write what I want in an existing universe and to reshape that universe as I see fit, I am happy, I am in. And so I began a crash course in Green Lanterning, so I got the mega-sized Geoff Johns and Silver Age issues and started reading those. There are too many to catch up, but I did as best I could.
James Bacon: I thought that there was a huge amount of depth to your character Sojourner Mullein, I hope I am pronouncing the name correctly now, I am not so sure…
N.K. Jemisin: [Laughing, out loud] I tried to make it an Irish name, so that is making me feel a little self conscious.
James Bacon: Jo is quite Irish, I wondered if you were trying to bring an extra depth to this character as there was a lot to her history and the first comic was very intense, and what you were trying to do with her, was she your first comic book character?
N.K. Jemisin: She was first one I have wrote myself, I have been a comics fan for years, and I did the same thing with her character that I did with any character I would have written, which was to give her some depth, but I honestly felt that she was a bit shallow as there wasn’t time to really delve into her background or any of the other stuff that is gone on in her life. I was only really able to give a thin sketch of her, and I was a little kinda sad about that, so to hear that she has a lot of depth, great, I faked it [laughter] but I wanted her to be three dimensional, interesting, memorable, quirky, complicated, flawed, she’s an ex NYPD cop, I have a lot of feelings with a capital F about that and I wanted to not portray her as a one note thing, I wanted her to be layered. If she came across as complex and having some depth, then good, it means I did what I set out to do.
Andrew Dyce:One really strong idea that came across in Far Sector was you what you were referring to there, the big idea being good, or the big idea being noble or rational, but then struggling with the action of it, can you speak to that to the larger story, was it intentional? The figure of justice.
N.K. Jemisin: It is the nature of policing, whether you are the lone sheriff on the frontier or whether you are part of the world’s biggest police force, which NYPD is. I wanted to show that Jo was wrestling with how to be a good person, doing good things, within the framework of policing, and Green Lanterns are space cops. And as I said I have capital F feelings about it and I wanted to explore the idea that, no you’re not any better off, you are not doing any better if you are the lone sheriff and you don’t have any bureaucracy to respond to, cause you are still part of the politics, still are the person with a really big gun, in a place where a lot of other people do not have any power. I wanted simply for her to be conflicted, and I wanted to explore the nature of will power, because Green lanterns are supposed to be powered by will, and what I was reading in more recent Green Lantern comics, and this is no shade on anybody, was anger rather than will, and I was seeing Guy Gardener get pissed off and go to town, and that to me was willpower, but acute short-term will power, if that makes sense, whereas the will power that changes the world is the will power that organizes, that spends years trying to chage laws, that doesn’t get discouraged when there are setbacks, that is a different kind of will power, but that the will power that I find more effective for changing the world and really I wanted to explore that. Jo gets mad lots of times, exerts huge burst of power, and there is payback, there is a backlash for that, because she runs out of power, and that was the reason I gave her the unique ring, but then she has got to find a way to keep going even after that burst of anger and the energy is gone and that to me was the interesting thing to explore.
Andrew Dyce: Did that go hand in hand with the emotionless City? If everyone was as angry as Jo?
N.K. Jemisin: One of the things I wanted to explore with the emotionlessness of The City Enduring was the fact that emotion is not an easy thing to shut off. So, for example, the people in City Enduring still performed emotion, because emotion is part of our body language, we make faces and we understand that they are in conflict with us, so I could not remove the idea of everybody being expressionless flat affect, made no sense for a group of people who were trying to communicate with each other. I wanted to explore the fact that emotion is a lot more complicated than even the idea of being emotionless. Basically my fear or concern is that I live in a society now that intellectualizes the idea that if you get angry about a thing, that is injustice, that you are somehow weakening yourself, that you are somehow doing something bad. We give more preeminence to people in our society who pretend [to be] emotionless, when in fact they are quite emotional but able to perform better. I could do a whole talk on this. I wanted to explore Jo’s open emotion versus the closeted emotion. I do not want to cross the streams on oppressive areas, but in this particular, that what was happening, there were lots of people in The City Enduring who wanted to experience emotion and so in some cases were doing it in an illicit fashion using switch off or performing emotions and pretending to be emotionless but really were pretty emotional and I wanted it to be layered. I like layers.
Karama Horne: We talked about Sci-Fi writers, I think we were talking about Octavia Butler predicting the future, and you said that Sci-Fi writers often don’t predict the future, they are talking about the future they are living in right now, so if that is the case for Jo, how much of Jo’s world is a reflection of our own?
N.K. Jemisin: Oh, 100%. That was her conclusion at the end of the series, she had go bajillions of light years across space, only to live in New York again with the same stuff and she chose to interpret that as people are going to people, but the fight for justice is going to be the same even if the people involved are different. She also concluded that maybe in the City Enduring where it is not personally attached to so many things, although she got personally attached, maybe in the City Enduring she can learn what she needs to go back to earth and do it right finally. because she had tried in multiple ways to contribute, to try and give back, to try and make the world better. She joined the army, well, that worked out great, she join NYPD, ditto, but maybe there is a way that she could do it and this was really her journey in realisizg the universality of justice, for lack of better description.
Matthew Aguiilar: One of the cool things that I love about Green Lanterns is about how their constructs become an extension of their personality and Jo has some of the most bad ass constructs, like jackets and hats, [much laughter from Nora] she looks awesome, like an action hero. Campbell did a great job of bring this world to life and her as well, what did you give to him in that regard working together, did she look a certain way, or those constructs, was that completely him, did you go back and forth a little bit, what was the process?
N.K. Jemisin: The Interesting thing is that I would give Jamal impressions and he would run with that, so for example, I wrote up a little series bible of the characters and the basic info about the world, because I know with comic books when something becomes successful you are not going to write it forever, you are going to hand it off to someone else. I gave him the profile of Jo, and in that profile there were some character keys, or character beats, as I am learning script writing lately so I am speaking script now, I pointed out that her eyebrows are always perfect, it doesn’t matter if the world is ending, this woman’s eyebrows are going to be perfect, if she has to use green lantern energy to do that, her eyebrows will be on point, so he took that she’s going to use the ring to fix her hair, she’s going to use it to wear a stylish coat when she needs a raincoat, and I didn’t say that, I just said her eyebrows. He took that and turned it into her, basically she is a fashion plate, but I also mentioned that she was modeled on Janelle Monáe, so he took a lot of inspiration from her as well, and her aesthetic. But no, I didn’t come up with that one image of her going to the funeral with the Green Lantern hat and cloak, and I saw that and just about died. I had not written that, but I was like, this is amazing. I said “Eyebrows, and you’ve got all this.” That was all him.
Matthew: We even got a Morpheus Matrix?
N.K. Jemisin: Those I did, every other issue there was a recap, I was trying to build the audience, and I wanted to mention how much Jo was a giant nerd. So each one of the recaps was evocative of popular science fiction, The Matrix, Independence Day, Aliens — which was my favorite of that whole trilogy. Every other issue there was a nerdy recap, and there were several that I wanted to do, that I wanted to do, and I had intended to have them in every issue, but apparently a few of my recaps encroached on copyright and I was informed by DC legal that we couldn’t do… a Blade Runner one, a Superman one [much laughter], it got weird, but so be it.
Karama Horne: you just talked about her fabulous micro blade technique with the ring, somebody else who was fabulous all the time, is Marth, so I am curious whether or not that’s your favorite character. But of the characters you were able to construct of the aliens, which character was your favorite, and which race was your favorite because of their characteristics.
N.K. Jemisin: I wish I had more time to explore the CATOLY, because I think they are much more interesting than I had got the room to play with, they are the plant people that eat people, as a religious experience, for them not you [much laughter]. You are dead, and I suppose that is a religious experience actually, depending on what you believe. I wish I had more time to explore the races in more depth, because I think all three are really interesting. They look human but are most alien in the cognition and emotions, and they were the ones who did the most extreme stuff, they were the ones who blew up their planets, and so they are like humans with temper dialed up to 11 and somehow they manage to survive to become a technologically advanced species. Out of the characters, Marth was definitely intended to be a high profile character. I wanted him to be like Catwoman to Batman, I wanted him to be the Catwoman of the series, a homme fatale, and we don’t have many homme fatales, instead of femme fatale, I wanted him to be gorgeous and dressed to the nines, looking like a wealthy and powerful person, which he is, but I also wanted to be layered too, which is why we get two different versions of Marth: one that is emotionless and one that is with emotion. I wanted Jo to constantly be torn between those two iterations of literally the same person and trying to figure out which one is real, and I didn’t get to explore him as much as I wanted to. Twelve issues doesn’t leave a lot of room, and comic books are stunningly short, says the novelist, – “What – I could only put this much in each one, this is terrible” [laughter] but I tried to make it work, for me. It was the equivalent for writing a slightly longer-than-normal short story, [laughter] which was a little frustrating, but at least I got a chance to explore and dip into the characters. But not go into depth yet. Maybe one day.
Karama Horne: So you might come back to Jo? I know she is out of your hands right now, but you are not leaving comics forever?
N.K. Jemisin: Oh, no, I am not leaving comics. If they wanted to continue Far Sector in the City of Enduring, but going into the main DC continuity, I do not have a problem with it, but there are elements of that that made it difficult to continue working on this character. I like World Building, I like all of it, I am not interested in dealing with pre-existing worlds to the same degree. If I had not already agreed to do film scripts and another novel, but between that, and it wasn’t going to be as fun anymore, yeah, if DC decides they want to revive Far Sector and the City Enduring, I hope they give me a call and I have let them know this.
Andrew Dyce: Because the Far Sector, the first story was told, just the response, I know it can be a little different from writing a novel to something that is so collaborative, Jamala Campbell, a monster, seeing the response to the story, was it a different kind of satisfaction, did people get what you were looking for, did people get what you were digging, what you hoped they would, seeing it being handed over to fans?
N.K. Jemisin: The honest to goodness truth is that I am not connected to comics fandom to get a really clear sense of what people thought of it, I saw people talking about it on twitter, if I did a Far Sector search which brought up lots of tweets about Indian agriculture, and (laughs) theres something about the oil and gas industry in India uses Far and Sector a lot, so I didn’t see, I learned a lot about India’s oil and gas industry (laughter) but I wasn’t able to see a lot of responses to the story itself, so I do not know what people felt about it, I didn’t get any hate mail, which I guess is a good sign and sales were decent apparently, which is also a good sign. In the book world there are lots of reviewers, there are some reviewers in the comic world, but it’s not the same volume, and I am sorta in a habit of not looking for reviews that are aimed at fans, I look for professional reviews, because those are something I am supposed to see, so I don’t really have a clear sense, the professional reviews I saw, seem generally positive, but beyond that, no hate mail is kinda what I got, so I don’t know if people caught the things I was trying to put into it, and I am hoping that now the compilation is available, that now the book world is going to get into it, as opposed to the floppy world, and then I will see more feedback about how it hit.
James Bacon: I should say that from comic fans I know, it has been very well received, and the first issue went to a second printing, and this is a desirable comic to have, where the first appearance of a character is desirable. The comic came out at a bad time for comic shops and the industry and it actually bucked the trend, some comics faltered and Far Sector had energy and buyers, which is crucial. I loved the humor and laughed out loud, even the line @at and Jo says don’t laugh [much laughter], the geekiness. Were you keen to add humour, to add in a way fan service, as I couldn’t stop laughing [laughter], how did you bring that into the comic?
N.K. Jemisin: That’s just me, I make jokes all the time, as you have probably seen, they are not always good [laughter]. But I try, and this is the part of me that tends to inform all of my protagonists, whatever their racial or gender background. I am a nerdy silly person, and people don’t seem to realize that the Broken Earth series that I am famous for was me exploring a very grim dark topic in a way that is not typical for me. Any of my other books are nerdy and silly, well sometimes, well not the one about death priests, well anyway, that said [laughter], well, even that one had some humor in it. That is how I handle difficult topics, when you are going to be exploring something as painful and difficult as some people got effectively mind raped in the span of Far Sector, people were dealing with a literally physical oppression of something is natural to them, when you are dealing with these topics, these very weighty issues, you can either take them 100% cold seriously or you can give them a little bit of built in stress relievers. Comic books are a medium that can do in-depth, serious exploration of really painful topics. I do not have the skill to do that in comics yet, particularly in a built-up franchise milieu like the Green Lantern series. There is only so far I can go into hardcore grim dark, so I felt like it was necessary to build in pressure valves, and those valves were meant to be humor, and that was just me. The nerdy part was just me. I am a Blerd, I am 100% Blerd, all of those movies Jo was parodying are some of my favorite movies. [laughing]
Anne Brennaman: What I wanted to know, as I am involved in the Twitter side of social media, the response towards Jo herself was amazingly positive, a lot of people really clicked with her, loved her design, the LGBT community loves her too, and just from that aspect it is one of the most talked about comics, at least on my feed in the last year — [‘Good to hear’ says Nora.] The thing I wanted to ask you was about the 3 races, and I love worldbuilding, and with Green Lantern you don’t often get them staying on a planet, they hop around the universe. With this they get to sit and play with it. How did you come to the idea with these 3 different races and what was the philosophy, and was there any part you wish you could expanded on more — I am especially thinking about the cloud cryptocracy?
N.K. Jemisin: I had meant to explore that more, but that’s just part of, if you are doing world building, there are always going to be past tragedies and apocalypses and things that you allude to, the cloud cryptocracy were the organization, kinda like an organized crime group of alien races who colonized the planet that City Enduring came from, so I wanted City Enduring and the 3 races to have a history of having to work together against oppression, but at this point they are tenuously allied, but the tenuousness is starting to become more tenuous, so I really just wanted that in there to give them sufficient world depth, so that you could see that they had periods of conflict and periods of working together and gradually its settled on working together as better than conflict, but it was always work, and that was really it, I just wanted that clear from jot. Other things I would have liked to explore more, is actually Marth’s background, Marth’s ancestor, the reason he had an extra bit on his name, they had ridiculously long names, was because basically he and his whole lineage are meant to atone for the fact that his ancestor was the one who pressed the button that killed everyone’s emotions, that unleashed the emotion exploit, so his job is to make up for that, and all of the stuff that he did over the course of the series was his attempt to fill that ancestral bargain. But you know, there are other ways to do that [laughter] and Marth has a big family, and I wanted to explore that in depth, because it is as complex as the Bat family, [laughter]. I was trying to take inspiration from existing comics and as complex as the Lanterns themselves, and I really wanted to delve into that more deeply. Oh well, one day.
[Anne mentioned she would like to see Marth’s Robins, to much laughter.]
Matthew Aguiilar: We see a lot of Lanterns getting their rings and typically it is a very emotionless affair, the ring seeking you out, and you pop it on. This is by far the most memorable giving of the ring sequence, and Jo literally gets it in a club with a very stylish Guardian [much laughter]. There was finite character space but we still even got a couple of pages and a sense of who JO is and her background, and why she was chosen. Was there anything more to this sequence, of her getting the ring and her backstory that you wanted to fit and didn’t have the space for?
N.K. Jemisin: No, I feel I was able to get all of her back story in. In that issue where she does a lot of flashbacking, I had intended to seed that in more slowly over the course of the story, but realizing that I needed, and also me learning about comics, you’ve got to include action sequences a lot more often than I am used to, so the action sequences kinda booted everything into one flash back issue, where I would have preferred to intersperse it over the course of the story. But you know, that is just the nature of a different medium. But I was able to get into her background fairly well, what I had intended was to get across, that she is not the first black female Green Lantern, who was an alien before her, and now there is a little girl, I have not caught up the more recent stuff, but I wanted to explore if this was going to be a Black American Green Lantern, then she is dealing with aspects of her identity on top of being a Lantern, and dealing with this. I was raised, and this is not the case for every Black woman, I cannot speak for 6 million people, but I was raised, I think a lot of Black women get raised with the idea that your job is to give back to the community, if you get power you use that to help. And she was a person who knew from jump that she was intelligent, she had skills, she could use those skills to help people. So I wanted her back story to be a litany of, again, again and again, she tries to help, she tries within the system, that doesn’t work. She tries without the system. And basically, she’s growing into a revolutionary. When she goes back to Earth, if I had been writing that part, well granted she has a lot to deal with in the current continuity, so when she gets some free time and she’s not a Green Lantern anymore, I want to see what she can do without a ring. But the bestowing of power, seems to me to be a thing to be approached with reverence, it does not feel right to me to be a kinda of accident, I wanted that Guardian, who was also a bit of a rebel herself, I wanted that Guardian to do this in a much more planful way, and realize that she needs to pick the right person for this particular ring, a ring that is more dependent on long term will power, as opposed to the short term acute will power.
James Bacon: I wasn’t aware of how much of a comic fan you are, are there any comics now at the moment that you really enjoy and are finding really good?
N.K. Jemisin: These days I am enjoying indie comics that are not part of the big two, and not part of the superhero framework. I have been a giant fan of just about anything that Kelly Sue DeConnick does, but in particular I like Pretty Deadly, and love Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda. I’m really into Saga, hope they come back from hiatus at some point, [laughter]. So many things, the Wicked and Divine, those are my comics these days, and I also read a lot of manga, or I used to, these days I don’t have time to read.
Karama Horne: Just in terms of those references, yes Saga is coming back. Also, about the manga, it just dawned on me that when Jo uploads part of her consciousness into the system – wait – Ghost in the Shell, is this a Ghost in the Shell reference?
N.K. Jemisin: No this was actually a reference to cyberpunk as a whole, little bit Matrix, little bit Ghost in the Shell, little bit William Gibson, little bit Pat Cadigan. I am a book cyberpunk lover. I did like the original Blade Runner, haven’t actually gotten around to seeing the more recent one, and things like that. The visual aesthetic is not interesting to me, but that said, since I know people do like it, I tried to evoke a lot of different cyberpunks, so we had the ring that had a giant plug in it, that she had just shoved it into her own brain, and things like that, that’s what she needed to contextualize because she was a nerd, she was into cyberpunk, she had seen the Matrix and that was really it, but that was not comics specific, that was a genre reference.
Karama Horne: I need to know whether or not you are still collecting cheese in Skyrim [great laughter from Nora].
N.K. Jemisin: I actually have not been playing Skyrim lately, because I am in deadline hell on my latest novel. I do not allow myself new games, during that period. But that said, the DLC for the Outer Wilds came out about a month ago. I do not know if you guys played the Outer Wilds, it is one of the most cute games about quantum physics I have ever played, I would highly recommend it if you have not played it already, but it is adorable and it is also mind blowing. So that is what I have been playing lately. But I do miss the cheese days. Twitch went through a period where it was not safe to stream while black, so we are still kinda wrestling with all the implication of all that, and I haven’t done much Twitch lately, and the cheese Skyrim I do as a stress releaser or fund raiser, and I haven’t done it for a while. For those who don’t know, I get bored with traditional fantasy, so I play Skyrim, but because I don’t care about killing dragons and all that other nonsense, I just collect cheese, and I built a house, and I have a tower on that house, and I put the goat cheese in one room, and the blue cheese in another, and both rooms are full of cheese, that is literally all I do, cheese Skyrim. [Laughing] Like I said, geeky and silly.
Karama Horne: Everyone needs to know about cheese Skyrim [much laughter]. Congratulations on the adaptations, and the recent announcements, has there been any talk about adapting Far Sector.
N.K. Jemisin: Not that I know of, y’all will be the first to know when someone mentions it to me. We did briefly discuss adding Jo to the HBO series, but I think they wanted this to be focused on the 80’s and Jo is a millennial, and everything about her is shaped by her millennial experiences, and I didn’t think that would translate well, but beyond that, I do not know about any adaptations on that level.
James Bacon: In 12 comics there was a lot to it and a lot of story to it. You are very busy, but do you feel that comics could be a medium that you could develop something larger in, something new, and something your own? It is interesting that all the comics you like as well as being independent are the creators’ vision of a total new world, all amazing worlds. Is that something you would like to do at some stage?
N.K. Jemisin: In a heartbeat with bells on [much laughter]. I haven’t had time as you said. I have been in book contracts straight for ten years, which for a lot of authors is a great experience because it means we get paid during all that time, but it also means a grueling writing schedule that does not allow for a lot of room for other things. I have almost entirely dried up on writing short stories for example, because of the book contracts. however, when I am done with the follow up of The City We Became, I announced this, The City We Became is no longer a trilogy, The Great Cities is no longer a trilogy, it is now a duology as a I realized the story is more compressed than I thought it originally was and Orbit is flexible enough to let me shrink it back down. So when I am done with this, I will be done at that point with having to write to constant deadlines and I will be free at that point to explore some new things. Now immediately, right now, I am contracted to do the script for the Broken Earth movies with Sony and we are going with Outlier Society right now as the production company and I am learning script writing, which learning comic book script writing was really useful for, although it’s a whole other world with the film stuff, so for me it is always about trying new things, and I have not been able to try new things for a while, but as soon as I get some free time, part of the reason I wanted to do Far Sector, was not only so I could get used to the medium, but also get to make contacts and get to know people and assembling a team and things like that.
James Bacon: That begs a follow up, if you don’t mind, do you have a story in mind you want to bring to people through comics, I don’t want to tie you down but it’s quite a news item.
N.K. Jemisin: I have a very vague, it’s a very vague idea at the moment, and it’s an idea I need to spend more time developing, which I have not done. Again, once I have some free time, who knows, we will see what happens, I do not want to commit, I also have not assembled my team, we will see what the future brings.
Anne Brennaman: I am actually neck deep in The City We Became right now, I started it because Far Sector was the first piece of your work that I found, and I know for a lot of people in my circle, that a story holds true for everyone. I was wondering for them, for people who want to get more of your work, do you have out of your books and short stories you have written so far, one that clicks most with Far Sector and a jumping on point for getting more of your stories?
N.K. Jemisin: I would say The City We Became, that’s my latest published novel. I’m writing the sequel right now, it’s set in New York, it has a whole slate of quirky characters and serious characters and it is my attempt at humor. After writing the grim dark of the Broken Earth series, I thought that I wanted a palate cleanser of light heartedness and, of course, immediately I decided to write about gentrification and police brutality. Anyhow, The City We Became is probably the closest to that, it has no thematic similarity to Far Sector, but it is set in a magical New York, and at least in that sense they will get some familiarity, most of my stuff is secondary world, so I don’t know how easy it would be for people who are used the familiar environment of comics and the familiarity of the Green Lantern milieu to pick up something that is completely beyond earth and anything they know, but The City We Became is pretty familiar.
Andrew Dyce: What of Jamal Campbell’s work sticks most fondly in your mind, within Far Sector?
N.K. Jemisin: Honestly, it was the fact that he was able to make the city itself. What I wrote and what I wanted was the city to be a character. When you are doing urban fantasy, and I guess this qualifies as urban science fiction, it’s important for this city to not just be generic backdrop. It is important for the city’s uniqueness, quirkiness, strangeness to come across, and he did that. I would say things like there’s an issue with a giant protest happening, they are in this particular platform, this is what its character is, is the place of memory, the place where they bury their dead, there are statues, there are floating mausoleums, there are floating plant palaces, but what we really see is a giant swirl of people flying and a carpet of people walking on the ground yelling with placards, and Jamal came up with HR Gieger-esque row of bald imposing statues. Like I didn’t say that, I didn’t suggest that, he just went with it. Whenever I say that the city [needs] to have a character that speaks to this emotion or this theme, he went wild with it, and when I did the first script of issue 1, it was twice the length of all the rest. After that issue, and a couple of issues in, I realized I am giving way, way, way too much instruction. This man knows what he is doing, I am just going to get out of his way. I would simply include the themes and the very basic stuff that needs to be there, and he went hog wild with it, and he made the city have a character and I think that was amazing. When we were considering perspective artists for this originally we had started with Sean Martinbrough, but Sean wasn’t able to do it for various reasons, and he came up with the initial character design for Jo, and we were looking at other artists and the thing that stood out for me about Jamal’s work, we were looking at Immortal Nadia Greene, he had several cityscapes in that, that I felt were perfect, he did that also in Naomi, there were also a couple of examples of him doing really good cityscapes in Naomi as well, and at that point that was what decided me. I wanted someone who could make sure the city was an unspoken final character or extra character and he did it.
And then the interview session was nicely brought to a close.
I have to admit, I was super excited by the concept of a bigger comic project and it was good to have other interviewers ask questions similar to what I had prepared, but probably a bit better, and also ask, what I had not expected. Thanks to Jason, Brian for arranging this amazing interview, and to the fellow round tablers, Anne, Karama, Andrew and Matthew for their fab questions. Especially thought to Nora, for engaging so much, and just sharing so much insight and laughter.
[Publication of complete transcript authorized by Jason Fagan of BHI.]
(1) HAVE YE SEEN THE MOVIE? The cetacean film star is hardly ready to retire: Phil Nichols discusses “Moby Dick at Sixty-Five!” at Bradburymedia.
Sixty-five years ago today – 27th June 1956 – John Huston’s film version of Moby Dick was released, with a screenplay co-written by Ray Bradbury. As regular readers of Bradburymedia will be aware, Ray’s experience of working on this film cast a very long shadow.
Bradbury became somewhat obsessive over Herman Melville’s story, and was driven to write his own prose version of Moby Dick in the form of Leviathan ’99, which was initially a radio play, then a stage play and opera, and eventually a novella….
Nichols follows with a roundup of links to his many posts about various connections between Bradbury and the making of Moby Dick.
(2) FANZINE IPA. [Item by Steven Johnson.] Not a fanzine called IPA, or an apa called IPA, but an limited release Pacific Northwest IPA called Fanzine IPA, from Fort George Brewery in Astoria and Great Notion Brewing of Portland, Oregon. Imagine my surprise when my brother pulled out two pint cans of Fanzine IPA, adorned with bizarre comic strip panels. Images of the cans are at the brewery website. (Click for larger images.)
In an ever hazier world, West Coast IPAs have nearly gone the way of the landline and fax machine. As the condensation slowly evaporates from the window of the indie punk bookstore, Fanzine IPA comes into focus – a crisp, clear, West Coast style collaborative presentation from Fort George Brewery and Grains of Wrath Brewery. Fanzines are deeply rooted in the DIY ethos of the fiercely independent, small run, self-published, xeroxed and stapled testaments to the object of a true fan’s reverence. The Fanzine IPA can features the art of independent folk legend Michael Hurley, who himself is the subject of a Fanzine. A piney bitterness backs up the heavy hop additions, with grapefruit and other citrus notes. Mild sweetness from the malt bill lingers with a taste of orange juice.
One year ago, British comic book writer Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Global Frequency, Red) was accused by writer Katie West of coercion, manipulation, and sexually predatory behavior on Twitter. West’s tweet was immediately met with responses from dozens of women and non-binary individuals who shared similar experiences with Ellis, establishing what appeared to be a broad pattern of a giant in the comics industry abusing the power he held over fans and followers. Since then, victims of Ellis have formed So Many of Us, a group of over 60 people who accused Ellis of years of grooming and emotional manipulation.
Ellis issued an apology and largely withdrew from public life, but like most canceled men of the Me Too movement, he has resurfaced. News broke that Image Comics would be bringing Ellis back to finish his mid-2000s series Fell with artist Ben Templesmith. Templesmith made the announcement on his Patreon account, where he wrote of Ellis, “I’m glad he’s going to be doing some comics again. I don’t think anyone thought he’d bugger off and work in a shoe factory or anything, … He is after all, one of the most important comics writers of the past few decades. It means a lot to me to finish this thing, finally, so I couldn’t say no. I guess we’ll let the market speak as to how things go.”
Image Comics initially stood by the announcement, saying “Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith’s Image Comics series Fell will indeed return for its long awaited final story arc in graphic novel format. We will have more details to share about this very soon.”
But as public outrage grew, they backtracked and issued a new statement saying, “This week’s Fell announcement was neither planned, nor vetted, and was in fact, premature, … While finishing Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith’s Fell is something we’ve been looking forward to for years, Image Comics will not be working with Warren on anything further until he has made amends to the satisfaction of all involved.” I guess the market has spoken….
(4) GAME WRITER SUES FANS FOR LIBEL. Those of you who have been wondering where to apply all of your recently accumulated knowledge about California defamation lawsuits and the state’s anti-SLAPP provisions learned while following JDA’s case can apply it to a new California case.
The attorneys for video game writer Christoper Avellone filed a libel suit against two women for statements they made in social media about what happened at a Dragon Con, of a nature that can be deduced from the denial:
…These false statements are of or about Avellone and are libelous on their face…. The reader would reasonably understand the statements to be about Avellone and to mean that Avellone targeted young women, including women under the age of consent, by forcing them to become intoxicated for the purpose of engaging in non-consensual sexual contact….
A PDF copy of the complaint, which was filed June 16 with the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, can be read here.
D.M. Schmeyer, who identifies himself on Twitter as an attorney, has an extensive critique of the lawsuit in a thread that starts here. The following are a couple examples of his skeptical take on the suit.
(5) MEMORY LANE.
1982 – In 1982 at Chicon IV where Marta Randall was Toastmaster, C. J. Cherryh would win the Best Novel Hugo for Downbelow Station whichwas set in Cherryh’s Alliance–Union universe during the Company Wars period. It was published by Daw the previous year and originally had been called The Company War by the author. Other nominated works were The Claw of the Conciliator by Gene Wolfe, The Many-Colored Land by Julian May and Little, Big by John Crowley.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 27, 1909 — Billy Curtis. You’ll best remember him as the Small Copper-Skinned Ambassador in Trek’s “Journey to Babel” episode. His genre experienced goes all the way back to Wizard of Oz where he was a Munchkin, and later on he’s a mole-man in Superman and The Mole-Men, and later on a midget in The Incredible Shrinking Man. He had lots of one-offs, be it on Batman (twice there), Bewitched, Gilligan’s Island, Planet of The Apes or Twilght Zone. (Died 1988.)
Born June 27, 1941 — James P. Hogan. A true anti-authoritarian hard SF writer in the years when that was a respectable thing to be. The group that gave out the Prometheus Award certainly thought so with fifteen nominations and two Awards for two novels, The Multiplex Man and Voyage from Yesteryear. I’m sure that I’ve read at least a few of his novels, most likely Inherit the Stars and The Gentle Giants of Ganymede. A decent amount of his work is available at the usual suspects. (Died 2010.)
Born June 27, 1952 — Mary Rosenblum. SF writer who won the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel for The Drylands, her first novel. She later won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History Short Form for her story, “Sacrifice”. Water Rites and Horizons are the only ones available at the usual suspects. (Died 2018.)
Born June 27, 1959 — Stephen Dedman, 62. Australian author who’s the author of The Art of Arrow-Cutting, a most excellent novel. I really should read Shadows Bite, the sequel to it. He’s the story editor of Borderlands, the tri-annual Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror magazine published in Perth. Kindle has The Art of Arrow-Cutting and a few other titles.
Born June 27, 1966 — J. J. Abrams, 55. Let’s see… He directed and produced the rebooted Star Trek, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (he was a co-writer on the latter two), but I think I will single him out as the executive producer of the Fringe series. And he was an executive produced the Lost series as well. Did you know he was the executive producer of Person of Interest too?
Born June 27, 1972 — Christian Kane, 49. You’ll certainly recognize him as he’s been around genre video fiction for a while first playing Lindsey McDonald on Angel before become Jacob Stone on The Librarians. And though Leverage ain’t genre, his role as Eliot Spencer there is definitely worth seeing.
Born June 27, 1975 — Tobey Maguire, 46. Spider-Man in the Sam Raimi trilogy of the Spidey films. His first genre appearance was actually in The Revenge of the Red Baron which is one seriously weird film. Much more interesting is his role as David in Pleasantville, a film I love dearly. He produced The 5th Wave, a recent alien invasion film.
Born June 27, 1987 — Ed Westwick, 34. British actor who has roles in the dystopian Children of Men, S. Darko (a film I couldn’t begin to summarize), Freaks of Nature (a popcorn film if ever there was one), the “Roadside Bouquets” episode of the British series Afterlife (which I want to see) and The Crash (which may or may not be SF).
(7) COMICS SECTION.
Frank and Ernestwould be debating about an Einstein quote if they had someone to take the other side.
Off the Markshow the problem with aliens who do look like something humans have seen before.
Bizarro drops a frosty gag in the middle of summer.
…How did Relativity Space achieve this? They built a proprietary metal 3D printing system they call “Stargate” that can, as most 3D printers can do, produce arbitrary objects. The company has used it to produce working Aeon 1 engines for their previous and much smaller rocket, the Terran 1.
The advantage here is that they are literally 3D printing the entire rocket with Stargate. The engines, the fuselage, plumbing and more. This approach allows them to bypass many complications during the build process and subsequent operation: there are far fewer parts to assemble, fewer joints to fail, fewer seams to leak, and so on. The parts are also designed using generative techniques to ensure they are lightweight as possible….
(9) GET JEMISIN’S GREEN LANTERN. (Item by Daniel Dern.) N K Jemisin’s “Far Sector” Green Lantern twelve-issue miniseries from DC Comics is done, and it’s excellent. (Note, Sojourner “Jo” Mullein , Jemisin’s Green Lantern, has just shown up in one of the regular Green Lantern titles.)
Want to get/read it? As always, with comics, there’s a range of ways, depending on where your slider is between Sooner and Frugaler (also paper vs. pixels):
For sale as paper comics. From your local comic shop, or via distant/online sellers. List price $3.99 each, so x12 for the whole run.
In digital form, via ComiXology.com (the engine behind DC and Marvel’s digital sites; owned by Amazon, FYI.) Hmmm, issues 1-9 are currently on sale from $3.99 each down to $0.99, with 10-12 still $3.99 each, so cheaper than buying the paper comics (assuming they’re still available at list price) — Far Sector (2019-) Digital Comics – Comics by comiXology
Digitally, via DC’s digital streaming site/service DC Universe Infinite — $7.99/month or $74.99/year; free 1-week trial
Good deal for the patient and moderately frugal — like Marvel, new issues don’t get posted here until (at leaat) 6 months after print release date.
So far, the first 9 issues of Far Sector are up here. Wait 3 months, they’ll all be up.
(10) A MODERN STONE AGE FAMILY HOME. “Settlement reached in Flintstone House case” – the San Jose Mercury-News says the city and the owner of a house in Hillsborough, California modeled after the Flintstones have finally resolved their litigation.
After a years-long legal battle, the quirky, colorful prehistoric decor dotting the so-called Flintstone House will be allowed to stay.
According to the Palo Alto Daily Post, Florence Fang and the town of Hillsborough recently settled a 2019 lawsuit stemming from allegations that Fang had failed to get approval to add dinosaurs and a large sign reading “Yabba Dabba Doo,” among other things, to the yard surrounding her whimsical orange and purple home, which is very visible from Interstate 280.
The settlement agreement reportedly says Hillsborough will pay Fang, a retired media mogul whose family used to own the San Francisco Examiner, $125,000 to cover costs associated with the lawsuit and approve permits for the changes made to the home. Fang, who is in her mid-80s, will drop her claims. She has said the city had stymied her initial attempts to get permits, and she suggested that she was discriminated against for being Asian….
(11) MARATHON MAN. Author Miles Cameron has mixed his thoroughly modern career with ancient avocations —
After the longest undergraduate degree on record (1980-87), I joined the United States Navy, where I served as an intelligence officer and as a backseater in S-3 Vikings in the First Gulf War, and then on the ground in Somalia, and elsewhere. After a dozen years of service, I became a full time writer in 2000. I live in Toronto (that’s Ontario, in Canada) with my wife Sarah and our daughter Beatrice, currently age fourteen. I’m a full time novelist, and it is the best job in the world.
I am also a dedicated reenactor; it is like a job, except that in addition to work, you must pay to participate. You can follow some of my recreated projects on the Agora. We are always recruiting, so if you’d like to try the ancient world or the medieval world, follow the link to contact us. Come on. You know you want to.
Below, that’s us, at Marathon in Greece in 2011.
Cameron’s new SF novel Artifact Space was release this month:
Out in the darkness of space, something is targeting the Greatships.
With their vast cargo holds and a crew that could fill a city, the Greatships are the lifeblood of human occupied space, transporting an unimaginable volume – and value – of goods from City, the greatest human orbital, all the way to Tradepoint at the other, to trade for xenoglas with an unknowable alien species.
It has always been Marca Nbaro’s dream to achieve the near-impossible: escape her upbringing and venture into space.
All it took, to make her way onto the crew of the Greatship Athens was thousands of hours in simulators, dedication, and pawning or selling every scrap of her old life in order to forge a new one. But though she’s made her way onboard with faked papers, leaving her old life – and scandals – behind isn’t so easy.
She may have just combined all the dangers of her former life, with all the perils of the new . . .
Moray eels can hunt on land, and footage from a recent study highlights how they accomplish this feat with a sneaky second set of jaws.
….And morays climbing out of water came as no surprise to some observers. Lana Sinapayen, an artificial life researcher who grew up in the Caribbean island of Martinique, said local fishermen often caught morays by placing squids on the shore and waiting for the eels to arrive. “You only need a solid stick to take your pick,” she wrote in an email. Dr. Sinapayen was not involved in the research but wanted to emphasize that many local people have long known that morays can hunt on land.
[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, Jennifer Hawthorne, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
…The 20-stamp set features ten images that celebrate the science behind NASA’s ongoing exploration of our nearest star. The images display common events on the Sun, such as solar flares, sunspots and coronal loops. SDO has kept a constant eye on the Sun for over a decade. Outfitted with equipment to capture images of the Sun in multiple wavelengths of visible, ultraviolet, and extreme ultraviolet light, SDO has gathered hundreds of millions of images during its tenure to help scientists learn about how our star works and how its constantly churning magnetic fields create the solar activity we see.
“Just don’t stare at them directly,” says Daniel Dern.
How did the idea of The Devourers, your last novel, take shape?During my undergraduate years, I attended a baul mela in Kolkata, and, while intoxicated, had a vision (not quite literally, but almost) while protecting a kitten in the mela ground from a circling pack of dogs, of being in the same spot hundreds of years earlier, listening to minstrels around a campfire in the dark wilderness, while monsters hunted us. When I returned from winter break to college, I turned that into a short story in a Creative Writing class, which eventually turned into the first chapter of The Devourers a while later, when I was in grad school.
…Alone, but not: It’s a theme that courses through King’s sweeping body of work, and it returns for several characters across layers of time and space in “Lisey’s Story,” which begins Friday on Apple TV+. Julianne Moore stars as Lisey Landon, the widow of Scott Landon, a famous novelist (played by Clive Owen) whose childhood traumas drove him to forge a connection to a transdimensional world called Boo’ya Moon.
As vividly depicted in the show, Boo’ya Moon is a place of tranquil beauty, like a Pre-Raphaelite wonderland. But it’s also menacing terrain, where cloaked figures sit silently inside a massive amphitheater awaiting resolutions to earthly traumas…
… Even among the many other King adaptations that have recently emerged or are set to arrive in the near future, the Apple TV+ series based on King’s 2006 novel feels especially important, because King himself has said so. He counts Lisey’s Story among his personal favorite works, and holds it so dear that he took it upon himself to script all eight episodes of the miniseries for director Pablo Larrain (Jackie)….
Hear King himself speak about it on today’s CBS Sunday Morning.
(4) LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE. Hear author of Light of the Stars Adam Frank in a free webinar co-sponsored by the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination – register and maybe win a book: Adam Frank Webinar & Giveaway.
The search for life in the Universe is undergoing a profound renewal. Thanks to the discovery of thousands of planets orbiting other stars, the introduction of new observing technologies, and increased support from both public and private sectors, a new science of searching for “techno-signatures” is emerging.
In this talk Dr. Frank will unpack this frontier area, discussing what counts as a techno-signature; how to be systematic in thinking about exo-civilizations and their evolution; what techno-signatures can tell us about our own future. He believes that within the next few decades we will likely have actual data relevant to the question life, perhaps even the intelligent kind, in the Universe.
Dr. Adam Frank is a leading expert on the final stages in the evolution for stars like the Sun, but his current work also focuses on life in the universe. His research group at the University of Rochester has developed advanced supercomputer tools for studying how stars form and how planets evolve. His most recent book is Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth, which won the 2019 Phi Beta Kappa Award for Science. He has written two other books, The Constant Fire: Beyond the Religion and Science Debate, and About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang. He is the co-founder of the blog 13.8 on BigThink.com and an on-air commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered.
We’re celebrating 5 years tonight of Murray Horwitz as host of The Big Broadcast! Join us for some of our favorites, including Orson Welles, Fred Allen, Lucille Ball and The Whistler — as well as our usual Dragnet, Yours Truly Johnny Dollar and Gunsmoke….
7:30 p.m. Dimension X “Martian Chronicles” (Original air date August 18, 1950. NBC network.) (Running time 30:19)
Can science fiction save the world? Author and filmmaker, Mikel J. Wisler, explores the themes and ideas presented in a wide range of sci-fi movies and books from various time periods. Convinced that sci-fi is the most naturally philosophical genre, Wisler invites everyone from die-hard fans to casual observers to dive into meaningful conversations about how sci-fi helps us think about our future, brings up challenging scenarios, and forces us to ask big questions.
Astounding author Alec Nevala-Lee is interviewed in Episode 25.
(7) NED BEATTY (1937-2021). Actor Ned Beatty died June 13 at the age of 83. Best known for his work in Deliverance and Network, his genre roles included Lex Luthor’s (Gene Hackman) bumbling sidekick Otis in Superman (1978) and its 1980 sequel. He was in Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977). He voiced Lotso in Toy Story 3 (2010) and The Mayor in Rango (2011). And he has another two dozen lesser genre credits.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 13, 1980 — On this date in 1980, The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything premiered in syndication as distributed by Paramount Television. Based on the John D. MacDonald novel of the same name, it was written by George Zateslo and directed by William Wiard. Myrl A. Schreibman Was the producer. It starred Robert Hays, Pam Dawber, Zohra Lampert, Jill Ireland, Ed Nelson and Maurice Evans.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 13, 1892 — Basil Rathbone. He’s best remembered for being Sherlock Holmes in fourteen films made between 1939 and 1946 and in a radio series of the same period. For films other than these, I’ll single out The Adventures of Robin Hood (all Robin Hood is fantasy), Son of Frankenstein and Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet. (Died 1967.)
Born June 13, 1893 — Dorothy Sayers. ISFDB often surprises me, and having her listed as writing four stories in the genre did it again. All of them were written in the Thirties and here they are: “The Cyprian Cat”, “The Cave of Ali Baba”, “Bitter Almonds” and “The Leopard Lady”. So, who here has read them and can comment on them being genre or not? (Died 1957.)
Born June 13, 1903 — Frederick Stephani. Screenwriter and film director who is best remembered for co-writing and directing the 13-chapter Flash Gordon serial in 1936. He directed Johnny Weissmuller‘s Tarzan’s New York Adventure (aka Tarzan Against the World). He was also an uncredited writer on 1932’s Dracula. (Died 1962.)
Born June 13, 1943 — Malcolm McDowell, 78. My favourite role for him was Mr. Roarke on the rebooted Fantasy Island. Of course his most infamous role was Alex in A Clockwork Orange. Scary film that. His characterization of H. G. Wells in Time After Time was I thought rather spot on. And I’d like to single out his voicing Arcady Duvall in the “Showdown” episode of Batman: The Animated Series.
Born June 13, 1949 — Simon Callow, 72. English actor, musician, writer, and theatre director. So what’s he doing here? Well he got to be Charles Dickens twice on Doctor Who, the first being in “The Unquiet Dead” during the time of the Ninth Doctor and then later during “The Wedding of River Song”, an Eleventh Doctor story. He’d also appear, though not as Dickens, on The Sarah Jane Adventures as the voice of Tree Blathereen in “The Gift” episode. I’ve not watched the series. How is this series? He was also The Duke of Sandringham in the first season of Outlander.
Born June 13, 1953 — Tim Allen, 68. Jason Nesmith in the much beloved Galaxy Quest. (Which of course won a much deserved Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation at Chicon 2000.) He actually had a big hit several years previously voicing Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story which would be the first in what would become a long-running film franchise.
Born June 13, 1963 — Audrey Niffenegger, 58. Her first novel was The Time Traveler’s Wife. She has stated in interviews that she will not see the film as only the characters in the novels are hers. Good for her. Raven Girl, her third novel about a couple whose child is a raven trapped in a human body, was turned into performed at the Royal Opera House.
Born June 13, 1969 — Cayetana Guillén Cuervo, 52. She’s got the role of Irene Larra in El Ministerio del Tiempo (The Ministry of Time), a Spanish SF series which sounds fascinating but which I’ve not seen. Anyone here seen it? Not fond of captioning, but I’d put up with it to see this.
…Sojourner “Jo” Mullein’s impact is not defined by the fact that she’s the first Black, queer woman to ever hold the mantle of Green Lantern. Or by the fact that N.K. Jemisin, Jamal Campbell and Deron Bennett are one of the first all-Black creative teams to helm a Green Lantern title. Those are huge factors in just what makes the book special, of course, but what truly makes Far Sector and its hero feel so groundbreaking is the imaginative exploration of what it means to be a Green Lantern and the innate understanding of how that very imagination is at the core of what makes the hero great. Where some Green Lantern stories feel stymied by a lack of the thing that gives the Power Ring its magic, Far Sector pulses with imagination on every page….
The J.R.R. Tolkien franchise is heading back to the big screen in a fresh New Line and Warner Animation anime title The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim. I’m told that the Oscar-winning feature architects Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh are not involved with the project as we speak, but that will be determined down the road. Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings: Return of the King scribe Philippa Boyens will be a consultant on the new project directed by Kenji Kamiyama. The pic is being fast-tracked with animation work done by Sola Entertainment. Voice casting is currently underway. Pic will be distributed around the globe by Warner Bros. Pictures.
The War of the Rohirrim focuses on a character from the book’s appendix, the mighty King of Rohan, Helm Hammerhand, and a legendary battle which helped shaped Middle-earth heading into LOTR. The anime pic will expand the untold story behind the fortress of Helm’s Deep, delving into the life and bloodsoaked times of Hammerhand. Overall, the movie is a companion piece to New Line’s LOTR trilogy and is set roughly 250 years before that movie during the third age (Note Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings mini-series is set during the second age).
Kamiyama has been behind such anime projects as Blade Runner: Black Lotus and the TV series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Joseph Chou (Blade Runner: Black Lotus) will produce. Jeffrey Addiss and Will Matthews (The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance) are writing….
“This will be yet another epic portrayal of J.R.R. Tolkien’s world that has never been told before. We’re honored to partner with much of the incredible talent behind both film trilogies, along with new creative luminaries to tell this story,” said Sam Register, President of Warner Bros. Animation. “And so it begins.”
(13) TOURISTS, ASSEMBLE! See a replay of the Avengers Campus Opening Ceremony from Disney California Adventure park.
[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Rich Lynch, Darrah Chavey, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Dear Miss Manners: I was nominated for an award, which I did not win — and that’s fine!
Before the awards ceremony, all nominees were given an invitation to the “losers’ party” after the ceremony. The party was off-site, and we (losing nominees and our plus-ones) were taken there in buses.
I was on the second bus, and when we arrived, we found out that entry into the party venue had been cut off due to capacity concerns. Our bus driver refused to take us back to the original venue, and we were all left standing in the street on a chilly evening, wearing our nice clothes — “we” being at least 50 people….
Deepfake videos never cease to amaze me. They do such an amazing job that it’s hard to imagine that they aren’t really performing the part. Now EZRyderX47 on YouTube has created a mash up of Back to the Future with none other than our favorite Marvel dynamic, Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Holland. Check out the film down below.
Researchers from the University of California, Davis explain in a new paper that was just published in the journal ACS Photonics that if you want to create a solar panel that generates electricity at night, then you just have to create one that operates the exact opposite way solar panels work during the day. It’s being referred to as the “anti-solar panel.”
Solar panels are cold compared to the Sun, so they absorb the Sun’s light and turn it into energy. Space is very cold, so if you point a panel on Earth that is comparatively warm toward it, it will radiate heat as invisible infrared light. This allows you to generate electricity by capturing that power. The paper claims such a device could generate about a quarter of the electricity at night that a normal solar panel generates during the day.
Jeremy Munday, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC Davis who is an author of the paper, tells Inverse that whether it’s a solar panel or this anti-solar panel, these things are essentially just “heat engines.”
(Music to cue up: Flanders and Swann, “…heat
can’t pass from the cooler to the hotter” from their “First &
Second Law” (of thermodynamics, not robotics.)
Oberlin College Physics Professors John H. Scofield and Rob Owen along with OC senior physics major Ben Lemberger (piano) perform Flanders and Swann’s “First and Second Laws” for intro physics class on May 7, 2014.
Not only did Bradbury create fantastical worlds with pen and paper, he also lived in a surreal world of his own creation. His Beverly Hills office (just like his home basement office) was filled with items that tickled his imagination: cartoons, figurines, stuffed animals, masks, and magic. In fact, Bradbury was so often lost in his own imaginary world that he would forget the demands of reality. He regularly forgot the keys to his office, but he solved this minor inconvenience by using a secret sliding panel.
The lineup for BookExpo’s Adult Book & Author Breakfast, scheduled for Thursday, May 28, has been announced. Zerlina Maxwell, radio host and MSNBC political analyst, will host and discuss her new book The End of White Politics: How to Heal Our Liberal Divide (Hachette Books), which will hit stores just a few days earlier, on May 26.
Joining Maxwell will be United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, there to present When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through, a Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry featuring the work of more than 160 poets from nearly 100 indigenous nations; bestselling author Carmen Maria Machado, who will discuss her upcoming comic book debut, The Low, Low Woods, a new horror comic from Joe Hill’s imprint at DC; U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D.-Minn.), onstage to showcase her forthcoming memoir, This Is What America Looks Like, arriving from HarperCollins on May 26; and fantasy author Rebecca Roanhorse, there to discuss her novel Black Sun, the first book in a new epic fantasy trilogy about four warring matriarchies vying for power, to be published by Gallery/Saga Press.
(6) REMINGTON OBIT. Artist Barbara Remington, whose work included iconic covers of
paperback editions of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit,
has died at the age of 90 reports Comicbook.com.
…Remington is best known for illustrating Ballantine Books’ paperback editions of Tolkien’s fantasy novels, which began to be published in 1965 and quickly gained a cult status amongst readers. According to The New York Times, Remington died on January 23rd in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, with her longtime friend John Bromberg citing breast cancer as the cause of death.
As Remington revealed in an interview with Andwerve, her work on the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit covers came about on a very tight deadline.
“Ballantine was in a hurry to get these books out right away,” Remington revealed. “When they commissioned me to do the artwork, I didn’t have the chance to see either book, though I tried to get a copy through my friends. So I didn’t know what they were about. I tried finding people that had read them, but the books were not readily available in the states, and so I had sketchy information at best.”
“When Tolkien saw the fruit tree, he asked, ‘What are pumpkins doing in a tree?’ Of course they weren’t pumpkins, but he wasn’t sure what they were,” Remington added. “He was especially perplexed about the lion on the cover because there are no lions in the story. He requested that Ballantine remove the lions from the cover, so they painted them over for later books.”
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 16, 1939 — Chuck Crayne. An important conrunner who died before his time. (I’m quoting Mike there, so please don’t complain.) He was a LASFS member who was most active during the Sixties and Seventies. You can read Mike’s full post on him here. (Died 2009.)
Born February 16, 1951 — William Katt, 69. Ralph Hinkley, the lead of The Greatest American Hero. A series I know I watched and loved at the time. In December 1975, he auditioned for the part of Luke Skywalker But didn’t get the role obviously.
Born February 16, 1953 — Mike Glyer, 67. Let’s praise the man who’s created the finest online community for SFF fandom that one could possibly hope for. One that entertains and educates us. It’s no wonder that he has won the Best Fan Writer Hugo four times and File 770 Itself has won the Best Fanzine Hugo seven times. Happy Birthday Mike!
Born February 16, 1954 — Iain M. Banks. I’m certain I’ve read the entire Culture series even though I certainly didn’t read them in the order they were written. My favorites? The Hydrogen Sonata was bittersweet for being the last ever, Use of Weapons and the very first, Consider Phlebas, are also my favs. And though not genre, I’m still going to make a plug for Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram. It’s about whisky, good food and his love of sports cars. (Died 2013.)
Born February 16, 1957 — Ardwight Chamberlain, 63. The voice of Kosh on Babylon 5. And that tickles me, as I don’t think they credited it during the series, did they? Most of his other voice work English dubbing versions of Japanese anime including Digimon: Digital Monsters and The Swiss Family Robinson: Flone of the Mysterious Island.
Born February 16, 1964 — Christopher Eccleston, 56. The Ninth Doctor who’s my third favorite among the new ones. Other genre work includes 28 Days Later, The Seeker, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Thor: The Dark World, The Leftovers, The Second Coming and The Borrowers. He also played Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Barbican Theatre.
Born February 16, 1968 — Warren Ellis, 52. I think Planetary is bloody brilliant as is Global Frequency and Transmetropolitan. His work on The Authority is not to be sniffed at either, nor should we overlook Iron Man: Extremis. He’s got two rather superb novels, Crooked Little Vein and Gun Machine, that are not genre but which if if you like hard-boiled detective fiction, I’ll strongly recommend both.
…That essay, “Delinquents in the Snow”  from the collection God in the Dock, begins with Lewis griping about neighborhood kids who constantly bother him by singing terrible renditions of Christmas carols at his door and expecting money in return. Then, with increasing crankiness, he tells the reader that these are probably the same kids who broke into his shed and stole some stuff recently. Other than Lewis’s intuition, there’s no connection between the carolers and the discourse on criminal justice that follows. Like I said, it’s a weird essay.
Basically, Lewis is angry that the kids who robbed his shed were let off easy by the court and will therefore likely grow up to commit “burglary, arson, rape, and murder.” Without any additional evidence, he extrapolates this single event into a nationwide trend and predicts that unless something is done about it, the result will be either an outbreak of vigilante violence or a full-scale revolution.
“Delinquents in the Snow” is full of cringe-inducing moments. Lewis insists on referring to the female judge who gave the delinquents a mere slap on the wrist as “the Elderly Lady,” suggesting a lack of respect for women in positions of authority. He also writes that “when the State ceases to protect me from hooligans I might reasonably, if I could, catch and trash them myself.” The mental image of a 59-year-old university don beating up children would be funny if I weren’t afraid he actually meant it. There’s even a hint of Atlas Shrugged in there when he says that by failing to adequately punish crime, society risks pushing middle-class “bearers of what little moral, intellectual, or economic vitality remains” to the point at which “they will snap.”
…t first it seemed too good to be true, a movie all about the ‘fabulous’ aventures of one of the two authors I’d read at age nine, Jules Verne. I was visiting my Aunt Virginia (yes, for real) and she dropped me off alone at the theater in Las Vegas. First, I had to sit through a dumb circus movie called Jumbo, probably Bimbo the Great. But then came a movie that looked like a cartoon, but not really. At first I was really disappointed, as were some of the kids in the theater with me. But after just a couple of minutes we were entranced. It wasn’t what we expected from a cartoon, or a movie. It was like vintage book illustrations come to life. Every new scene was a wonderment that went beyond the question, ‘how’d they do that?’ We were transported to the other side of movie reality, into something like a moving dream. Who knew that this movie and the brilliant sci-fi picture Voyage to the End of the Universe came from a Communist country? All the names were Anglicized. I had heard of Czechoslovakia in 1962 only because somebody said it had been invaded in a war newsreel.
“In brightest day, in blackest night, No evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil’s might, Beware my power, Green Lantern’s light.”
Since the first Green Lantern was introduced in All-American Comics #16 in May 1940 by artist Martin Nodell and writer Bill Finger, the Green Lanterns have been fan-favorite characters with millions of comic book fans….
To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, DC will be publishing Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1 on May 20, 2020. Join us to see tales of all of the universe’s most legendary Green Lanterns: Alan Scott, Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz, plus appearances from other cosmic favorites!
In addition to a dynamic cover by Liam Sharp, fans and collectors can also look forward to eight variant covers spotlighting Lanterns throughout the decades, drawn by some of comics’ premier artists….
Best-selling author Diana Gabaldon hadn’t even set foot in Scotland when she began the book that launched the popular Outlander series. But she’s made the country so attractive to readers — and to watchers of the Starz television program, which resumes with Season 5 on Sunday — that the Scottish government’s tourism agency gave her an honorary Thistle Award for generating a flood of visitors to the fens, glens, jagged mountains and soft jade landscapes she so alluringly describes. According to numbers from VisitScotland, Outlander has increased tourism by an average of 67 percent at the sites mentioned in the books or used in filming.
…The “Witches and Wizards” theme will take place on Saturday, October 24, and guests are encouraged to wear witch hats and wizard robes. (If you have a wand, you might as well bring that too.) Like the rest of the murder mystery experiences on the train, it includes a ride on the train, “murder mystery dinner theatre,” and a multi-course gourmet meal, which is prepared by executive chef Donald Young…
Last year, Ben Zhao decided to buy an Alexa-enabled Echo speaker for his Chicago home. Mr. Zhao just wanted a digital assistant to play music, but his wife, Heather Zheng, was not enthused. “She freaked out,” he said.
Ms. Zheng characterized her reaction differently. First she objected to having the device in their house, she said. Then, when Mr. Zhao put the Echo in a work space they shared, she made her position perfectly clear:“I said, ‘I don’t want that in the office. Please unplug it. I know the microphone is constantly on.’”
Mr. Zhao and Ms. Zheng are computer science professors at the University of Chicago, and they decided to channel their disagreement into something productive. With the help of an assistant professor, Pedro Lopes, they designed a piece of digital armor: a “bracelet of silence” that will jam the Echo or any other microphones in the vicinity from listening in on the wearer’s conversations.
The bracelet is like an anti-smartwatch, both in its cyberpunk aesthetic and in its purpose of defeating technology. A large, somewhat ungainly white cuff with spiky transducers, the bracelet has 24 speakers that emit ultrasonic signals when the wearer turns it on. The sound is imperceptible to most ears, with the possible exception of young people and dogs, but nearby microphones will detect the high-frequency sound instead of other noises.
The name — mudlark — was first given to the Victorian-era poor who scrounged for items in the river to sell, pulling copper scraps, rope and other valuables from the shore. But more recently the label has stuck to London’s hobbyists, history buffs and treasure hunters who scour the river edge searching for objects from the city’s past.
…“I like just to collect what the river decides it’s going to leave on that day,” Ms. Maiklem said. “It’s that element of luck.”
But sometimes there are more significant finds, like the first “spintria” found in Britain. Spintriae are Roman bronze tokens, with depictions of sexual acts on one face and a Roman numeral on the other, whose purpose remains uncertain.
The Thames, the very reason people began settling in the city over 2,000 years ago, is one of the best preservers of London’s history. The river has been used many ways over the millenniums — as a highway, a source of food and, most important to mudlarks, as a dump.
(16) OLD VIDEO OF THE DAY. Kirk
Douglas drinks coffee with Ray Bradbury, John Barry and John Frankenheimer in
[Thanks to Dan Bloch, John King Tarpinian, JJ, N., Cat Eldridge,
Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Michael
Toman, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File
770 contributing editor of the day Jamoche.]