(1) ON THE GROUND IN CHENGDU. The Chengdu Worldcon has posted a gallery of photos on Facebook showing Ben Yalow, Helen Montgomery, Dave McCarty and other team members going “over the preparations work for the convention, covering transportation, accommodation, catering and other security work, and looked into the main site of the conference. They expressed satisfaction with the preparation work in Chengdu and expressed their eagerness to participate in this grand event and enjoy happy times right here with fans from around the world.”
(2) ONE TO BEAM DOWN. “Chamber Spock moves to ‘logical’ new home”. The Greater Birmingham (UK) Chamber of Commerce is moving this bear to Millennium Point, which is also the current venue for in-person meetings of the Birmingham SF Group.
Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce’s beloved Spock the bear has reached his final frontier.
The Star Trek-inspired sculpture – created in 2017 for public art trail The Big Sleuth – will ‘live long and prosper’ at Birmingham conference and event venue Millennium Point after being donated by the Chamber.
Spock was one of 100 bears on display at museums, parks, libraries and shopping centres across the city throughout The Big Sleuth.
The trail attracted thousands of visitors, before the bears were auctioned off to raise money for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity.
While local artists, celebrities and businesses contributed their own bear interpretations, the Chamber decided to ‘boldly go where no-one has gone before’ with a creation inspired by Star Trek character Spock, due to then president Paul Kehoe’s love of the classic science fiction TV series.
Spock’s relocation is ‘highly logical’ for both parties, with the GBCC moving to new premises later this year and Millennium Point championing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) education….
(3) LIGHTNING STRIKING AGAIN AND AGAIN. Mort Castle, whose Facebook post demanding an apology for not having been included in HWA’s “Celebrating Our Elders” blog series has now passed 400 comments, and reportedly triggered abusive direct messages to various HWA volunteers, today announced “And that’s all she wrote. I have nothing more to say…”
(4) SOMEBODY IS INTO THREE-BODY. [Item by Steven French.] The Guardian went with this headline for their interview: “Rosamund Pike: ‘We’re all being conned by the wellness industry’”. But here’s the real story:
…My partner and I have been looking for Chinese stories to adapt for TV. Our first project was The Three-Body Problem, an amazing sci-fi trilogy which is one of Barack Obama’s favourite books. We partnered with Netflix and David Benioff and DB Weiss, who did Game of Thrones. In their hands, it’s very exciting. That will be coming out within a year….
(5) MAKING HIS BARK AS GOOD AS HIS BITE. Animation World Network spoke with VFX Supervisor Guy Williams and Animation Supervisor Michael Cozens about Wētā’s FX work: “Wētā FX Brings a ‘Universe’ of Visuals to ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’”.
…AWN: What assets were you actually given? You always generate a lot of your own concepts and previs and stuff just because that’s how you determine what’s actually needed to get given sequences done. What did you guys get to work from?
GW: They shared everything they had, so we got a full art package, including whatever previs had been done at that point. The main assets that they wanted to turn over early were for the Arête, because we all knew that that wasn’t a model that you’d be done with over the course of a couple of months. Two or three other models had conflicting details, so we had to rectify all that over time.
Even though Groot was established, we received Groot pretty early on from Framestore. We had a bunch of variations that we had to create, because Groot’s a very dynamic character in that he’s often doing things he hasn’t done before. Because of that, we had to build it in such a way that it can change over the course of a shot. It wasn’t just a matter of modeling something, it’s modeling it so that effects can work with it.
They gave us all the digi-doubles because we knew that we were going to need good high-resolution assets for those. James Gunn has a great production designer, Beth Mickle, he typically works with. She always builds up a fantastic art department. Plus, you have Marvel’s art department. So, we were not ever suffering from lack of good artwork to start with.
AWN: How much time and hassle does it save you when you’re handed such an extensive amount of good artwork, so that you don’t have to figure it all out yourself?
GW: You’re asking an interesting question because it’s not so much about how much does the artwork save you from having to work, it’s how willing is the creative team, whether it’s the director or the producers, to stick to the art that you’re given. What’s painful as hell is to get an amazing art package and start working on it, and then have people come in three months, four months later and say, “Love what you’re doing, but we never really liked those pictures, so can we make it blue and round?” That hurts.
James definitely isn’t that guy. He knows what he wants and he’s willing to commit to it. He’s talented enough that he doesn’t need to second guess himself. What he and his art team come up with is compelling as hell, and you don’t need to throw it all away and start over because it’s going to work….
(6) QUIZ TIME. [Item by Orange Mike Lowrey.] The answer: 42!
The question: how many years ago today did a bunch of fans walk from X-Con 5 [L. Sprague and Catherine De Camp, GoHs] in Brookfield, WI, to a nearby city park, to witness the marriage of “Orange Mike” Lowrey and Cicatrice du Veritas?
She wore a cream satin dress [with hennin] she’d kitbashed herself; he wore a rust-colored tux; the bridesmaids and groomsmen wore matching tuxes courtesy of a lucky draw at a bridal fair. The ceremony was performed by the very fannish Rev. Ted Wagner, ULC Bishop of Madison and allegedly an ex-roommate of Harlan Ellison.
(7) NICK WOOD OBIT. Zambian-born sff author Nick Wood died this month. The cause of death was not given. He was an actor, There’s a great deal of information about his life in the interview he gave Geoff Ryman for Strange Horizons in 2017.
Nick is a clinical psychologist who came to England with his wife and daughters toward the end of 1995, to do a PhD in the cognitive development of deaf children. He had been doing work in townships and deafness was the most common form of disability among children.
He was raised in South Africa. During the 1980’s he worked extensively in South African “black townships” during the transition to democracy “with the liberation struggle from apartheid, and was also on the move at times to avoid Military Police who had turned up at my parents’ home, keen to see me deployed in another no doubt more destructive role in the townships.”
Wood and Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki organized DisCon III’s program stream devoted to speculative fiction by Africans.
Wood’s first novel Azanian Bridges was a 2017 finalist for the BSFA Award, John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and Sidewise Award. His second novel, Water Must Fall, was a BSFA Award finalist in 2021.
Wood’s last medical update on his blog in 2022 said “I have been disabled (and am now partly deaf) from the ongoing march of right sided Meniere’s Disease.”
(8) ED ZDROJEWSKI (1954-2023). Midwest sf fan and journalist Ed Zdrojewski (“Ed Zed”) died May 4 Leah Zeldes announced on Facebook. She says:
He was most active in fandom during the 1970s and ’80s and became pretty gafiated after he moved to Champaign-Urbana and married. I knew him best when he lived in Michigan, first going to school at MSU and then working as a reporter for the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium, during which time he did a fanzine called the Benton Harbor Rat-Weasel. He was in MiSHAP, too.
He formerly edited the Grain Journal and there’s a professional obituary on Grainnet.
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1974 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
I think I’ve read more fiction by Ursula K. Le Guin than any other writer. As you know she won a number of Hugos including for The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition which is a stellar work that features illustrations by Charles Vess.
Our Beginning is from Orsinian Tales published forty-nine years ago by Harper & Row with the cover illustration by Muriel Nasser.
There are eleven stories here, six original to this collection, most of them set in the imaginary country of Orsinia. The first story is “The Fountains” and here’s the Beginning of it…
THEY KNEW, having given him cause, that Dr Kereth might attempt to seek political asylum in Paris. Therefore, on the plane flying Edwest, in the hotel, on the streets, at the meetings, even while he read his paper to the Cytology section, he was distantly accompanied at all times by obscure figures who might be explained as graduate students or Croatian microbiologists, but who had no names, or faces. Since his presence lent not only distinction to his country’s delegation but also a certain luster to his government—See, we let even him come—they had wanted him there; but they kept him in sight. He was used to being in sight. In his small country a man could get out of sight only by not moving at all, by keeping voice, body, brain all quiet. He had always been a restless, visible man. Thus when all at once on the sixth day in the middle of a guided tour in broad daylight he found himself gone, he was confused for a time. Only by walking down a path could one achieve one’s absence?
It was in a very strange place that he did so. A great, desolate, terrible house stood behind him yellow in the yellow sunlight of afternoon. Thousands of many-colored dwarfs milled on terraces, beyond which a pale blue canal ran straight away into the unreal distance of September. The lawns ended in groves of chestnut trees a hundred feet high, noble, somber, shot through with gold. Under the trees they had walked in shadow on the riding-paths of dead kings, but the guide led them out again to sunlight on lawns and marble pavements. And ahead, straight ahead, towering and shining up into the air, fountains ran.
They sprang and sang high above their marble basins in the light. The petty, pretty rooms of the palace as big as a city where no one lived, the indifference of the noble trees that were the only fit inhabitants of a garden too large for men, the dominance of autumn and the past, all this was brought into proportion by the running of water. The phonograph voices of the guides fell silent, the camera eyes of the guided saw. The fountains leapt up, crashed down exulting, and washed death away.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born June 12, 1940 — Mary Turzillo, 83. She won the Nebula Award for Best Novelette for her “Mars is No Place for Children” story, published in Science Fiction Age. Her first novel, An Old Fashioned Martian Girl was serialized in Analog, and a revised version, Mars Girls was released. Her first collection to polish her SWJ creds is named Your cat & other space aliens. Mars Girls which I highly recommend is available from the usual digital suspects. There’s an Analog interview with her here.
- Born June 12, 1953 — Tess Gerritsen, 70. ISFDB lists her as genre so I’ll include her even though I’m ambivalent on her being so. They’ve got one novel from the Jane Rizzoli series, The Mephisto Club, and three stand-alone novels (Gravity, Playing with Fire and The Bone Garden). All save Gravity could be considered conventional thrillers devoid of genre elements.
- Born June 12, 1954 — Melanie Rawn, 69. Author of the Dragon Prince series – Dragon Prince, Dragon Prince: Star Scroll and Sunrunner’s Fire, and the sequel, the Dragonstar series, Dragonstar: Stronghold, The Dragon Token and Skybowl. She was planning an Exlies series but only wrote one novel in it.
- Born June 12, 1955 — Stephen Pagel, 68. Editor with Nicola Griffith of the genre anthologies, Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction, Bending the Landscape: Fantasy, and Bending the Landscape: Horror.
- Born June 12, 1964 — Dave Stone, 59. Writer of media tie-ins including quite a few in the Doctor Who universe which contains the Professor Bernice Summerfield stories, and Judge Dredd as well. He has only the Pandora Delbane series ongoing, plus the Golgotha Run novel, and a handful of short fiction.
- Born June 12, 1970 — Claudia Gray, 53. She’s best known for her Evernight series, but has several more series as well, including the Spellcaster series and the Constellation Trilogy. In addition, she’s written a number of Star Wars novels — Star Wars: Lost Stars, Star Wars: Bloodline, Leia, Princess of Alderaan and Star Wars: Master and Aprentice.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Lio has invented his own kind of time tunnel.
(12) MIDDLE-EARTH CELEBRITY DEATHMATCH. “Tolkien Nearly Had Tom Bombadil Fight the Nazgul in Lord of the Rings” according to CBR.com, working from material in Christopher Tolkien’s 12-volume series containing his father’s drafts.
Another character that’s difficult to rate is Tom Bombadil. He fought off the Barrow-wights with his singing, and he put Old Man Willow in his place. Gandalf even suggested that the One Ring wouldn’t have an effect on him. But it’s hard to know how powerful Bombadil really was because no one knows exactly what he was — he never fought someone of note. Ironically, that wasn’t always the case because The Lord of the Rings author, J. R. R. Tolkien, almost had Tom Bombadil take on the Nazgul….
… A fight between Tom Bombadil and the Nazgul would never really happen because Bombadil didn’t pay any mind to worldly events. Gandalf actually said that if Bombadil was given the One Ring, he might misplace and forget about it. But hypothetically speaking, a fight between him and the Nazgûl would probably be petty complicated. For starters, the Nazgûl live in the spirit world and can’t see very well in the mortal realm. Depending on what Bombadil actually was, he might have been difficult for them to see, which could give him an advantage as he tried to sing the wraiths away….
(13) BOOK REVIEW$. The National Book Critics Circle has a spreadsheet of publications that pay for books coverage: “List of Publications”.
This spreadsheet, developed over the years as a resource for NBCC members and now maintained in partnership with Adam Morgan, lists 80+ publications that publish book coverage (reviews, interviews, essays, etc.), with editor contact information, pay rates, and more.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Higher dimensional aliens… Isaac Arthur’s Futures had this month’s “Sci-fi Sunday” take a look at higher dimensional aliens. Rod Serling says “Hi” from the Twilight Zone…
Could there be universes with more than 3 Dimensions? And if so, could life exist there?
[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Steve Green, Steven French, Orange Mike Lowrey, Joyce Scrivner, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]