To Be Fair, I Was Left Unsupervised: A Disjointed Chronicle of 79th World Science Fiction Convention, DisCon III — December 17-18, 2021
By Chris M. Barkley:
After yesterday’s events, I decided to sleep in a bit, until about 9 a.m. Because, you know, Worldcon.
The first bit of news came from Newsletter Number 3, which was published late Thursday evening. The middle column had the BIG news: that the proposal to create a Best Audiobook category had passed muster at the Preliminary Meeting and would be debated at the Main Session on Friday. After my blistering attack on the Business Meeting I feel slightly encouraged. But let’s see what happens next. Watch This Space, as Rachel Maddow intones on a regular basis…
At 10 a.m., I was on the move; today was the day I was going to race around like a whirling dervish and get books signed, come hell or high water!
I dashed down to the Dealers Room eagerly to seek out Mary Robinette Kowal, only to find out her signing session had been rescheduled due to a conflicting panel. So, you may wonder, who else would be crazy enough to get up that early in the morning to sign autographs? Yeah, THIS GUY, fellow Ohioian John Scalzi…
On my way back to my room, I made a stop at the Press Office. Peter Thomas was there and he informed me that a dozen media reporters had registered and that he did not have a firm number on how many warm bodies were on site, but had heard unofficially form the folks in Registration that the figure may or may not be around 2,500 people. He promised to text me directly if he got any solid information. (As of Friday evening, he did not have any additional information.)
After tempering my disappointment, it was time for breakfast. The weather remained unusually warm with moderate winds and an overcast sky. Our destination was Open City again because our companion Anna, Juli and I were wondering if their breakfast menu was as good as their dinner menu. Readers, we were not disappointed!
Juli had the Chorizo Scramble with an arugula salad, Anna had the California Scramble with a side of fruit. I decided to go big and have the Biscuit (singular!) and Gravy with a Breakfast Burrito. And yes, they serve animal crackers with their tea and coffee!
[Chris Barkley’s report continues after the jump.]
(1) SPECTRUM FANTASTIC ART QUARTERLY. Cathy and Arnie Fenner have finished the first volume: “Spectrum Fantastic Art Quarterly *Update*” at Muddy Colors. It will be released December 20. Meantime, Arnie explains they are still at work on changes to the Spectrum competition and annual:
Remember awhile back when I mentioned that Cathy and I were planning to do a quarterly Spectrum bookazine? Guess what: the first volume is done. And what do I mean by “bookazine?” Well, I guess it’s something of a marriage of design, editorial, and graphics in a format that reads like a magazine but sits happily with the books on your shelf. It’s not exactly a new concept: if you hop in the way-back machine and take a look at Herb Lubalin’s Avant Garde or at Ralph Ginzburg’s hardcover Eros (which was also designed by Lubalin) you’ll see just how neat the idea is.
So while we’ve been figuring out all the minutia that goes into reorganizing the Spectrum competition and annual (and, lemme tell you, there are some cool discussions going on…if we can only figure out the logistics) and preparing to open #28 for entries, we put our heads together with some friends and decided to create the Spectrum Fantastic Art Quarterly to stay engaged with the community while the competition/book gets rebuilt—and have some fun in the process. And “fun” is the key word here: as we mention in the introduction to Vol 1, it’s sort of a throw-back to my days publishing fanzines (or “semiprozines” or “boutique magazines” or whatever you want to call them), that are produced out of love with making a buck, though important, secondary. SFAQ is a 12?x12?, perfect-bound, full-color softcover; it’s about and for fantastic artists of all sensibilities—and that includes illustrators, gallery painters, sculptors, art directors, calligraphers, comics artists, and more—and for everyone interested in the people and history of our field. Is it perfect? Nope. Did we probably make some dumb mistakes or let some typos slip by us? Undoubtedly. But it was most certainly fun to put together and we’ve got all kinds of ideas for features and designs percolating in our noggins—all ideas that work better for a “bookazine” rather than a traditional magazine or book, if you know what I mean. If it works, it works; if it doesn’t, we’ll at least have had a good time trying.
Anyway, Spectrum Fantastic Art Quarterly Vol. 1 will be released (according to the printer) December 20th—yes, this year. Merry Christmas! If you’re interested, here’s where you can order your copy. It’ll probably still be a week or so before they have them listed, but…you heard it here first.
(4) TURNAROUND. Neon Hemlock Press launched a Kickstarter to fund the anthology Luminiscent Machinations: Queer Tales of Monumental Inventionedited by Rhiannon Rasmussen and dave ring, “a speculative anthology exploring the limits of machinery, the fragility and power of queer bodies, and mecha in all their forms.” Social media controversy has arisen because one of the contributors to the anthology is Neon Yang, who criticized Isabel Fall’s “Helicopter Story” (originally titled “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter.”) Some defenders of Isabel Fall are condemning Yang’s promotion of their own queer mech story.
“When the story was first published, we knew nothing about Isabel Fall’s identity, and there was a smattering of strange behavior around the comments and who was linking to it that led people to suspect right-wing trolls were involved in this,” says science fiction author Neon Yang. They were publicly critical of the story on Twitter….
Publisher Neon Hemlock has made this statement:
Meanwhile, Neon Yang’s Twitter account is labeled “temporarily restricted” with a message that says, “You’re seeing this warning because there has been some unusual activity from this account. Do you still want to view it?” although one can still click through the warning and access it.
Doris V. Sutherland’s post “On Neon Yang’s Toxic Reputation” reviews the original 2020 controversy in some detail, searching for an explanation why Yang is experiencing this backlash:
…Yet, despite the flimsiness of the accusation, Neon Yang retains a reputation as the person who did the most to bring down Isabel Fall. As far as I can tell, the misconception can be traced back to the aforementioned Vox article, in which Yang is the only person quoted as justifying the backlash against the story. Nowhere does the article state, or even imply, that Yang was the main aggressor; yet nonetheless, it seems to have established Yang as the face of the anti-Fall movement….
Those that live by the censor’s scissors are liable to end up being snipped at themselves. There is, perhaps, a degree of karma in a person who rolled along with the erasure of Isabel Fall’s story — simply because it made some of the readers uncomfortable — being placed in a position where their own presence in an anthology is deemed uncomfortable, to the extent where at least one collaborator has decided to pull out….
(5) ALL HAIL. AudioFile Magazine’s latest “Behind the Mic Podcast” interviews Ray Porter, who narrated the Project Hail Mary audiobook.
Narrator Ray Porter joins AudioFile’s Michele Cobb to tell listeners about his experience narrating PROJECT HAIL MARY, Andy Weir’s newest sci-fi bestseller. PROJECT HAIL MARY is one of AudioFile’s 2021 Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Audiobooks, and it’s a thrilling interstellar adventure. Ray gives Michele an inside glimpse into preparing the many voices deployed in this space opera and tells her what has stayed with him about bringing it to life. Read the full review of the audiobook at audiofilemagazine.com. Published by Audible, Inc. Curious listeners can take a peek into Ray’s recording studio in his narrator video on PROJECT HAIL MARY.
The episode starts with Commander Cliff Alister McLane (Dietmar Schönherr) receiving his latest orders from General Wamsler (Benno Sterzenbach). It’s yet another routine mission (and we all know how well those tend to go for the Orion 8): Collect space dust in order to investigate the panspermia theory, which causes Wamsler’s aide Spring-Brauner (Thomas Reiner) to drone on and on about the panspermia theory, i.e. the theory that life did not originate on Earth, but is distributed through the universe via spores hitching a ride with space dust, asteroids, meteorites, etc… The theory is the brainchild of Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius, who also developed the theory of a global greenhouse caused by industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which played a role in the Orion episode “The Battle for the Sun”. One of the writers is apparently a fan….
(7) KGB SCHEDULE CHANGE. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series in New York has changed the lineup for their December 15 event.
This month, Mercurio D. Rivera will be reading with David Leo Rice. N.K. Jemisin will be reading for them in February.
David Leo Rice’s info was part of the original announcement. The brief bio for Mercurio D. Rivera follows.
Mercurio D. Rivera
Mercurio D. Rivera’s short fiction has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and has won the annual readers’ award for Asimov’s and Interzone magazines, respectively. His work has also appeared in venues such as Analog, Lightspeed, io9, Nature, Black Static, and numerous anthologies and Year’s Best collections.
His new novel Wergen: The Alien Love War tells stories of unrequited love set against the backdrop of humanity’s complicated relationship with enigmatic aliens afflicted with a biochemical infatuation for humanity. His story “Beyond the Tattered Veil of Stars,” was recently podcast by Dust Studios, and features Gillian Jacobs (Community) and Justin Kirk (Weeds).
The readings are Wednesday, December 15 starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern in the KGB Bar. (Address at the link.)
… “I met some of my greatest friends at the Dickens Fair,” says Tooles, who went on to join the event’s volunteer cast, taking on bigger roles and more responsibility each year.
Her history with the tight-knit fair community is what makes the past two years so heartbreaking for Tooles, who is one of a small number of Black cast members at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. What started as a goodwill effort to help rectify what is seen as the event’s failure to protect its volunteers and guests from racist and sexist behavior has turned ugly. Now, more than 200 cast members and thousands of guests have pledged to boycott this year’s fair, which is set to return to the Cow Palace on Saturday, Dec. 4, in a scaled-down, drive-through experience for the next three weekends.
“I want people to recognize what their values are and decide if the Dickens Fair aligns with them,” says Tooles, founder of an affinity group for the fair’s Black performers called Londoners of the African Diaspora, or LoAD….
1979 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-two years ago on this date, Star Trek: The Motion Picture had an exclusive premiere in Washington, D.C. It is directed by Robert Wise from the screenplay by Harold Livingston which in turn is based on the story by Alan Dean Foster and I’m surprised he didn’t novelize it. You know who was in the movie so I won’t detail the cast here. Reception was decidedly mixed though Roger Ebert called it “a good time”. The box office was exceedingly good as it made one hundred forty million against forty million in production costs. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a so-so rating of just forty-two percent. It was nominated for a Hugo at Noreascon Two, the year that Alien was chosen as the Best Film.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 6, 1893 — Sylvia Townsend Warner. Do yourself a favor and look up a bio of her as she’s a fascinating person. This site is a good place to do that. Her first novel, Lolly Willowes or, The Loving Huntsman, is definitely genre. ISFDB lists four genre collections by her, but Kingdoms of Elfin and Lolly Willowes are available on the usual suspects. (Died 1973.)
Born December 6, 1911 — Ejler Jakobsson, Finnish-born Editor who worked on Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories butbriefly as they were shut down due to paper shortages. When Super Science Stories was revived in 1949, Jakobsson was named editor until it ceased publication two years later. Twenty years later, he took over Galaxy and If, succeeding Frederik Pohl. His first credited publications were The Octopus and The Scorpion in 1939, co-edited with his wife, Edith Jakobsson. (Died 1984.)
Born December 6, 1918 — William P. McGivern. Once in a while, I run across an author I’ve never heard of. So it is with McGivern. He was a prolific writer of SFF stories for twenty years starting from the early Forties. ISFDB only lists one genre novel by him, The Seeing, that he wrote with his wife Maureen McGivern. The digital has been good for him with the usual suspects having pretty much everything by him that he did except oddly enough the long out of print The Seeing. (Died 1982.)
Born December 6, 1923 — Wally Cox. Ok, who can resist the voice of the Underdog series which ran from 1964 to1967? I certainly can’t. He was in Babes in Toyland, The Twilight Zone, Mission: Impossible, Lost in Space, Get Smart, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., Quarantined, Night Gallery and Once Upon a Mattress. (Died 1974.)
Born December 6, 1953 — Tom Hulce, 68. Oscar-nominated screen and stage actor and producer. His first genre role was in a highly-praised performance as the lead in the American Playhouse broadcast of The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket, about a young boy who discovers that he can fly. Although the bulk of his career has been in the theater, his most notable genre film role was as Henry Clerval in Kenneth Branagh’s Saturn-nominated Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He was nominated for an Annie Award for his voice performance of Quasimodo in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and appeared in the films Stranger than Fiction and Jumper.
Born December 6, 1957 — Arabella Weir, 64. A performer with two Who appearances, the first being as Billis in “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe”, a superb Eleventh Doctor story, before being The Doctor Herself in “Exile”, a Big Audio production. She’s had one-offs on genre and genre adjacent series such as Shades of Darkness, Genie in the House, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and even a genre adjacent Midsomer Murders.
Born December 6, 1962 — Colin Salmon, 59. Definitely best known for his role as Charles Robinson in the Bond films Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. He played Dr. Moon in “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, Tenth Doctor stories, and was Walter Steele on Arrow. He most recently played General Zod on Krypton He was, alas, Ben in that clunker of films, Mortal Engines.
Born December 6, 1969 — Torri Higginson, 52. I had forgotten that she had a role in the TekWar movies and series as Beth Kittridge. I like that series a lot. Of course, she portrayed Dr. Elizabeth Weir in one episode of Stargate SG-1 and the entire Stargate Atlantis series. Her most recent genre roles was as Dr. Michelle Kessler in Inhuman Condition, where she plays a therapist who focuses on supernatural patients, and Commander Delaney Truffault in the Dark Matter series.
The second half of Masters of the Universe: Revelation, Kevin Smith’s continuation of the original cartoon from the 1980s, just became available and I opted to watch that over the new Hawkeye show (which I will watch eventually) and Star Trek Discovery (which is apparently available in Europe now, though I still haven’t figured out how), because I enjoyed the first half a lot more than I expected. Besides, part 1 ended on one hell of a cliffhanger, so of course I wanted to know how Teela, Andra, Duncan and the rest of gang are going to get out of that one….
(13) RECOMMENDEDKICKSTARTERS. Cora Buhlert also sent links to a pair of Kickstarters worthy of attention:
Blazing Blade of Frankenstein 1, a comic featuring Frankenstein’s monster as a wandering sword and sorcery hero, is also looking for funding. I had never heard of these people before, but the concept is simply too cool to ignore: “Blazing Blade of Frankenstein #1 by FRIED Comics”.
(14) THE CLASS OF 2021. The New York Times is there when “NASA Introduces Class of 10 New Astronaut Candidates”. Their names: Nichole Ayers, Christopher Williams, Luke Delaney, Jessica Wittner, Anil Menon, Marcos Berríos, Jack Hathaway, Christina Birch, Deniz Burnham and Andre Douglas.
NASA on Monday inaugurated 10 new astronaut candidates who could walk on the moon within the next decade, or carry out research on the International Space Station.
The new astronaut candidate class is NASA’s 23rd since 1959, when seven astronauts were picked by the military for Project Mercury, the first American human spaceflight program. The latest astronaut candidate group comes as NASA prepares for its most daunting challenges in space since Americans landed on the moon during the Apollo program of the 1960s and ’70s. The agency’s growing focus is on Artemis, its program to return astronauts to the moon….
The builders of Stonehenge ate sweet treats including foraged fruit and nuts, English Heritage has revealed.
Previously it was thought they had consumed pork, beef and dairy.
But excavations of the Durrington Walls settlement, inhabited by the builders of the monument in about 2,500 BC, suggest they collected and cooked hazelnuts, sloes and crab apples too.
Researchers said evidence of charred plant remains suggest they might have followed recipes to preserve the food….
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Meredith, Bill, Olav Rokne, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn. Update: The excerpts of Doris V. Sutherland’s comments were added a couple hours after the Scroll was posted.]
Nancy Kress is the multiple-award winner of science fiction and the occasional fantasy. Her most recent works are the stand-alone novella Sea Change, about the genetic engineering of crops, and the space-opera The Eleventh Gate. Based in Seattle with, Nancy divides her time between writing and trying to train a very stubborn Chihuahua puppy.
Kim Stanley Robinson
Kim Stanley Robinson is a multi-award winner of science fiction probably best known for his Mars trilogy. His most recent novels are Red Moon and The Ministryfor the Future. He lives in Davis, California.
… The reporter also reached out to me while researching this article, because there’s been a lot of internet chatter about my involvement. I shared what I could with her (off the record), and since she let me know that she was in direct contact with Ms. Fall, I took the opportunity to send a private apology at that time. I had hesitated to do so publicly before this because I didn’t know if it would just bring more unwanted attention to Ms. Fall — but since we’re talking about all of this again, now seems like a good time….
Jemisin recaps in some detail what she was trying to say and what went wrong, followed by this short summary:
…I am deeply sorry that I contributed to Ms. Fall’s distress, and that I was not as thoughtful as I should have been in my response. Let me also apologize specifically to my trans and NB readers, some of whom caught flak because I RTed them, and others who may have been hurt or confused by what I said. I just should’ve done a better job of it.
By now I hope it’s clear that I never wanted to hurt Ms. Fall and was trying to offer support….
…Now a new FX TV series based on the franchise is in the works from Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley—who says it’s about time for the facehuggers and xenomorphs to sink their claws into the white-collar executives who have been responsible for sending so many employees to their doom.
In a conversation about the symbolism of season four of Fargo, Hawley also offered an update on the Alien series, as well as his new novel, Anthem. The show, however, will have to wait a little while, since the crush of new productions after the pandemic has consumed all of Hollywood’s resources. How appropriate….
…Vanity Fair:What’s next for you? Is there a season five in the works forFargo?
Noah Hawley: Yeah, I think so. I don’t have it yet. I have pieces that will have to survive. They’re not connected. I think it would be good to create an ending, and deliberately come to something, knowing it’s the last one and see how one might wrap up this anthology. What’s next for me, it looks like, is [an] Alien series for FX, taking on that franchise and those amazing films by Ridley Scott and James Cameron and David Fincher. Those are great monster movies, but they’re not just monster movies. They’re about humanity trapped between our primordial, parasitic past and our artificial intelligence future—and they’re both trying to kill us. Here you have human beings and they can’t go forward and they can’t go back. So I find that really interesting.
(4) SPEED READING. Cat Rambo will be part of the July 2 First Friday Quick Read Zoom event. It’s free – register at the link.
Join us for a lunchtime tasting menu of science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories written by women and non-binary authors. We’ll feature 6 authors who will each have 8 minutes to tempt and tantalizing you with their reading. Our readings are like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates – you never know what you’ll get!
(5) RADIO PLAY WINS KURD LAßWITZ AWARD. The radio play jury of Kurd Laßwitz Award has finished voting reports award trustee Udo Klotz. The winner is Der zweite Schlaf by Heinz Sommer.
The late 1970s to the mid-1980s, a period commonly referred to as the post-Mao cultural thaw, was a key transitional phase in the evolution of Chinese science fiction. This period served as a bridge between science-popularization science fiction of the 1950s and 1960s and New Wave Chinese science fiction from the 1990s into the twenty-first century. Chinese Science Fiction during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw surveys the field of Chinese science fiction and its multimedia practice, analysing and assessing science fiction works by well-known writers such as Ye Yonglie, Zheng Wenguang, Tong Enzheng, and Xiao Jianheng, as well as the often-overlooked tech–science fiction writers of the post-Mao thaw.
Exploring the socio-political and cultural dynamics of science-related Chinese literature during this period, Hua Li combines close readings of original Chinese literary texts with literary analysis informed by scholarship on science fiction as a genre, Chinese literary history, and media studies. Li argues that this science fiction of the post-Mao thaw began its rise as a type of government-backed literature, yet it often stirred up controversy and received pushback as a contentious and boundary-breaking genre. Topically structured and interdisciplinary in scope, Chinese Science Fiction during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw will appeal to both scholars and fans of science fiction.
The fourth and final installment of the Rebuild of Evangelion. Misato and her anti-Nerv group Wille arrive in Paris, a city now red from core-ization. Crew from the flagship Wunder land on a containment tower. They only have 720 seconds to restore the city. When a horde of Nerv Evas appear, Mari’s improved Eva Unit 8 must intercept. Meanwhile, Shinji, Asuka, and Rei wander around Japan.
(8) MARS IN CULTURE. “Exploring the Red Planet through History and Culture” with Nick Smith (past President of LASFS) will be hosted by the Pasadena Museum of History. This free virtual presentation* will be available for viewing Thursday, July 22 through Sunday, July 25. Sign up for email notification here.
The planet Mars has long been connected to humankind through religions, literature, and science. Join Nick Smith, guest curator of PMH’s 2018 exhibition Dreaming the Universe, to explore our fascination with Earth’s neighboring planet, and discover some of the many ways Mars is part of our culture.
This free virtual presentation* will be available for viewing Thursday, July 22 through Sunday, July 25. An email with the link to the presentation will be sent to all of our email subscribers on Thursday, July 22.
*Pre-recorded presentation from Spring ArtNight 2021.
…The ULS has acquired the papers of Linda D. Addison, the most decorated horror poet today with a total of six Bram Stoker literary awards. Addison became the first African American writer to win a Stoker in 2001 for her collection, Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes and has also received the Lifetime Achievement (2018) and Mentor of the Year (2016) Awards from the Horror Writers Association as well as the title Grand Master from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (2020). Her poetry explores themes of race, gender, loss, struggle, hope, and the resiliency of humanity through a lyrical style that employs both traditional horror tropes of the supernatural as well as stark realism. Her archive will include drafts and manuscripts of her poetry as well as ephemera such as convention programs and awards which help demonstrate her impact on the genre. On her hopes that her archive will inspire others, she says:
“Having my writing journey from journals, through edits to final versions, become part of the University of Pittsburgh Horror Studies Collection is a dream, I never imagined, come true! To think that others, studying my process, could find value and inspiration will allow my work to safely exist past the length of my life, is an incredible blessing.”
The ULS has also acquired the papers of Kathe Koja, who is a true iconoclast whose works push boundaries, expand our conceptions of horror, and prove that horror is indeed a true literary genre. Her first novel, The Cipher (1991), won both a Bram Stoker Award and Locus Award and solidified her impact as a force within new horror. She employs a striking and unique prose style to explore themes of alienation and social isolation as well as transcendence, often through art. Her collection will include drafts, manuscripts, and notes from her novels and short stories. On her decision to establish her archive at the University of Pittsburgh, Koja said:
“A book is its writing as well as its words: the thoughts and notes and drafts and edits (and edits, and edits) that comprise the final text. To have all that making made available for scholars, readers, and fans of horror literature is a real boon, and I’m beyond delighted that my own horror novels will now be available this way.”
Lastly, the ULS has acquired the archives of the Horror Writers Association (HWA), the premiere professional organization for writers working in the genre. This collection, established by current HWA President John Palisano with support from former President Lisa Morton, documents the history of the organization through its newsletters, convention booklets and programs, and other published materials. Collectively, these materials illustrate the work of the HWA, as well as the community it has built. The HWA has been the main space for writers working within the genre to collect and collaborate since the late 1980s and has issued the Bram Stoker literary awards since 1987 at yearly conventions, such as the World Horror Convention and, since 2016, StokerCon.
(10) HUGO NOMINEE IS PLEASED. Best Professional Artist Hugo finalist Maurizio Manzieri tweeted –
(11) MEMORY LANE.
2003 – Eighteen years ago, Iain M. Banks’ only non-fiction book was published. It was Raw Spirit: In Search of The Perfect Dram. Of course he published it as Iain Banks as only his SF was under published under Iain M. Banks. It was his tour of the small whisky distilleries of Scotland in the small red sports coupe that he’d bought with the advance from the publisher who’d underwrote the entire affair on the word of Banks that it was a Great Idea. And being Banks about the Iraq War as well. As he says in his introduction, “After doing extensive research, I can definitely tell you that single malt whiskies are good to drink”. If you want to know more about this book, we reviewed it here at Green Man Review. And yes, it is available from the usual suspects.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 1, 1891 — Otis Adelbert Kline. Early pulp writer and and literary agent whose great claim to fame was a possibly apocryphal feud with fellow author Edgar Rice Burroughs, in which he supposedly raised the latter’s anger by producing close imitations of Burroughs’s Mars novels. Wollheim and Moskowitz believed in it having happened, Lupoff did not. (Died 1945.)
Born July 1, 1934 — Jean Marsh, 87. She was married to Jon Pertwee but it was before either involved in Dr. Who. She first appeared alongside The First Doctor in “The Crusade” as Lady Joanna, the sister of Richard I (The Lionheart). She returned later that year as companion Sara Kingdom in “The Daleks’ Master Plan”. And she’d return yet again during the time of the Seventh Doctor in “Battlefield” as Morgana Le Fay. She’s also in Unearthly Stranger Dark Places, Return to Oz, Willow as Queen Bavmorda and The Changeling. (CE)
Born July 1, 1935 — David Prowse. The physical embodiment of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Ok, it’s been a very long time since I saw Casino Royale but what was Frankenstein’s Creation doing there, the character he played in his first ever role? That he played that role in The Horror of Frankenstein and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Hammer Films a few later surprises me not. He shows up in Gilliam’s Jabberwocky according to IMDB as Red Herring and Black Knights (and no I’ve no idea what that means). Finally he’s the executioner in The People That Time Forgot, a film that’s very loosely based off of several Burroughs novels. (Died 2020.)
Born July 1, 1952 — Dan Aykroyd, 69. Though best known as Dr. Raymond Stantz in the original Ghostbusters films (which he wrote with Harold Ramis), he actually shows up a year earlier in his first genre role in Twilight Zone: The Movie as Passenger / Ambulance Driver. He’s reprising his role in the recent Ghostbusters 2020.
Celebrated July 1, 1955 — Robbie the Robot. On this date in 1955, Robby the Robot was born. Or more properly constructed. Or so claims the studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, that would release Forbidden Planet, where he had his first screen appearance, on March 3, 1956 when the movie had its US premiere. He would go on to be in a number of series including Lost in Space twice plus on The Addams Family, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. twice, Twilight Zone (five appearances , mostly as toys) and Holmes & Yo-Yo to name but a few of his other appearances. His latest appearance was on The Big Bang Theory with other movie props in “The Misinterpretation Agitation” episode. He had a memorable appearance on The New Adventures of Wonder Woman where he was the Master of Ceremonies at one of our SF Cons!
Born July 1, 1962 — Andre Braugher, 59. He’s the voice of Darkseid in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse which is why he makes the Birthday list. If there’s ever proof that a great voice actor can make an animated role, this is it. It’s also a superb film. His other major genre role is as General George W. Mancheck in The Andromeda Strain series that originally aired on A&E.
Born July 1, 1964 — Charles Coleman Finlay, 57. The Traitor to the Crown series is his best known work. His first story, “Footnotes”, was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction where many of his stories have since been published. Six years the editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ending in February of this year.
Born July 1, 1981 — Genevieve Valentine, 40. Author of the superb Persona novel and also she scripted a Catwoman series, working with artists Garry Brown and David Messina. Her first novel, Mechanique: A tale of the Circus Tresaulti, won the Crawford Award for a first fantasy novel. She scripted a run of Xena: Warrior Princess, and scripted Batman & Robin Eternal as well.
(14) HUGOS FROM THE HAGUE. Fanac.org now hosts a video of the ConFiction (1990) Worldcon Hugo Ceremony.
This video, captured with a hand held camera, covers the Hugo Awards, as well as the Campbell Award for New Writers, and the fannish Big Heart and First Fandom awards. Many awards were accepted by designees for the recipients, and we see Anne McCaffrey and Jack Chalker among those accepting for others. There’s a bit of humor from Dave Langford, and appearances by the American Ambassador to the Netherlands, C. Howard Wilkins. The World Science Fiction Society Banner, first hung at NyCon II in 1956, makes its appearance, and the video ends with the traditional view of all the recipients on stage. The video was recorded by John Cramer, provided by Tom Whitmore and used with the permission of Kees van Toorn, Chairman of ConFiction.
Star Trek star William Shatner has taken to Twitter to trade blows with journalists who called him out for hosting a new show on the Kremlin’s notorious state-funded network, RT.
Earlier this week, the 90-year-old Canadian actor—known for taking on the legendary role Captain James Kirk in the Star Treksaga—announced he would be hosting a new general talk show on the American branch of RT called “I Don’t Understand,” where he’ll be posing questions to guests on a variety topics. The show is set to debut later this month.
Alexey Kovalev, an investigative editor for Meduza—one of the most popular independent Russian-language news outlets—had some choice words for Shatner on his work with the network.
“Quick reminder about [RT’s] views and editorial policies @WilliamShatner is now endorsing (whether he wants to or not),” he tweeted on Thursday, linking to a thread that ends with “Don’t go on RT, unless you are okay with sharing a mic with some of the most vile racist degenerates out there. It’s not a legitimate media platform. It has no redeeming qualities. And if no other platform will have you, then you really shouldn’t have *any* platform.”
Those comments seem to have hit a nerve with Shatner, who wrote back, “Perhaps instead of rebuking me with facts that have zero influence on my show, a better use of your time would be to move? It seems that you being in Moscow means you are directly supporting the very regime you are berating me about. #hypocrite.”…
(16) POE’S SCIENCE REPORTING. Daniel Engber reviews John Tesch’s Poe biography The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Sciencein “Edgar Allan Poe’s Other Obsession” at The Atlantic.
…By 1840, Poe was working at a men’s magazine, where he launched a feature called “A Chapter on Science and Art,” consisting of the sorts of squibs on innovation later found in Popular Mechanics. (“A gentleman of Liverpool announces that he has invented a new engine,” one entry started.) With this column, Tresch suggests, “Poe made himself one of America’s first science reporters.” He also made himself one of America’s first popular skeptics—a puzzle master and a debunker, in the vein of Martin Gardner. Poe wrote a column on riddles and enigmas, and he made a gleeful habit of exposing pseudoscience quacks….
…Rembrandt Films had purchased film rights to produce a film by 1967, but a Hollywood feature-length deal fell apart. According to the Wikipedia page, the film was produced cheaply and quickly–Mythmoot lore places it at 7-10 days–and premiered on the last day that the contract, paying people to see the film. Having fulfilled the contract, they were able to return rights to Tolkien, opening possibilities for future adaptations, including the 1977 animation (which I call “the cute Hobbit” in my mind), and the trilogy epic of the fairy tale in the early 2010s by Peter Jackson, which some may have heard about….
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Shao Ping, N., Tom Becker, Daniel Dern, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]
(1) HELICOPTER OVERVIEW. In “How Twitter can ruin a life: Isabel Fall’s complicated story” at Vox, Emily VanDer Werff’s interview with author Fall is threaded throughout a wide-ranging commentary about the ways “Isabel Fall’s sci-fi story ‘I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter’ drew the ire of the internet” and what happened next. The article begins —
“In a war zone, it is not safe to be unknown. Unknown travelers are shot on sight,” says Isabel Fall. “The fact that Isabel Fall was an unknown led to her death.”
Isabel Fall isn’t dead. There is a person who wrote under that name alive on the planet right now, someone who published a critically acclaimed, award-nominated short story. If she wanted to publish again, she surely could.
Isabel Fall is a ghost nonetheless.
In January 2020, not long after her short story “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” was published in the online science fiction magazine Clarkesworld, Fall asked her editor to take the story down, and then checked into a psychiatric ward for thoughts of self-harm and suicide.
The story — and especially its title, which co-opts a transphobic meme — had provoked days of contentious debate online within the science fiction community, the trans community, and the community of people who worry that cancel culture has run amok. Because there was little biographical information available about its author, the debate hinged on one question: Who was Isabel Fall? And that question ate her alive. When she emerged from the hospital a few weeks later, the world had moved on, but she was still scarred by what had happened. She decided on something drastic: She would no longer be Isabel Fall….
(2) AND THE WINNER IS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The public has selected “Commander Moonikin Campos” as the official name of the manikin to be launched on Artemis I, the uncrewed flight test of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft around the Moon. The launch is currently scheduled for later this year. The namesake of the moonikin is ArturoCampos — electrical power subsystem manager for the Apollo 13 lunar module — who was a key player in bringing that mission safely back to Earth. ”Public Names ‘Moonikin’ Flying Around Moon on NASA’s Artemis Mission” at NASA.
The final bracket challenge was between Campos and Delos, a reference to the island where Apollo and Artemis were born, according to Greek mythology.
… The other six names under consideration were:
ACE, for “Artemis Crew Explorer.”
DUHART, a dedication to Irene Duhart Long, chief medical officer at Kennedy Space Center from 2000 to 2010.
MONTGOMERY, dedication to Julius Montgomery, first African American to work as a technical professional at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, now known as Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
RIGEL, a giant superstar in the Orion constellation.
SHACKLETON, a crater on the Moon’s South Pole, which is named after famous Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton.
WARGO, a dedication to Michael Wargo, NASA’s first chief exploration scientist.
The Moonikin is a male-bodied manikin previously used in Orion vibration tests. Campos will occupy the commander’s seat inside and wear an Orion Crew Survival System suit– the same spacesuit that Artemis astronauts will use during launch, entry, and other dynamic phases of their missions.
Campos will be equipped with two radiation sensors and have additional sensors under its headrest and behind its seat to record acceleration and vibration data throughout the mission. Data from the Moonikin’s experience will help NASA protect astronauts during Artemis II, the first mission in more than 50 years that will send crew around the Moon….
It’s been thirty-one years since Good Omens was published, which means it’s thirty-two years since Terry Pratchett and I lay in our respective beds in a Seattle hotel room at a World Fantasy Convention, and plotted the sequel. (I got to use bits of the sequel in the TV series version of Good Omens — that’s where our angels came from.)
Terry was clear on what he wanted from Good Omens on the telly. He wanted the story told, and if that worked, he wanted the rest of the story told.
So in September 2017 I sat down in St James’ Park, beside the director, Douglas Mackinnon, on a chair with my name on it, as Showrunner of Good Omens. The chair slowly and elegantly lowered itself to the ground underneath me and fell apart, and I thought, that’s not really a good omen. Fortunately, under Douglas’s leadership, that chair was the only thing that collapsed.
… So that’s the plan. We’ve been keeping it secret for a long time (mostly because otherwise my mail and Twitter feeds would have turned into gushing torrents of What Can You Tell Us About It? long ago) but we are now at the point where sets are being built in Scotland (which is where we’re shooting, and more about filming things in Scotland soon), and we can’t really keep it secret any longer.
There are so many questions people have asked about what happened next (and also, what happened before) to our favourite Angel and Demon. Here are, perhaps, some of the answers you’ve been hoping for.
As Good Omens continues, we will be back in Soho, and all through time and space, solving a mystery which starts with one of the angels wandering through a Soho street market with no memory of who they might be, on their way to Aziraphale’s bookshop.
(Although our story actually begins about five minutes before anyone had got around to saying “Let there be Light”.)
(4) KNOWN UNKNOWNS.Asimov’s does a “Q&A with Ursula Whitcher”, whose poem “Ansibles” appears in the current issue. The intro says Whitcher “is ready to fight for the honor of being the second-most-famous SF author named Ursula” – something definitely to aspire to, but I think at the moment that space is already filled.
Asimov’s Editor: The first line of your poem is, “I can’t explain gravity without using gravity.” Have you ever actually tried to explain gravity?
UW: I have! As well as being a poet, I’m a mathematician. My research is inspired by the physical theory of string theory, which offers one way to unify quantum physics and general relativity. I took more classical courses in general relativity as a graduate student, so I’ve spent quite a bit of energy working out equations for possible shapes of spacetime.
Ray Bradbury is perhaps best-known for writing Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and The Illustrated Man. He was much more than those stories though: a screenplay writer, a friend to Walt Disney, and an amateur painter, just to name a few.
From a young age, Ray was obsessed with finding a way to live forever. He will certainly be remembered for his writing, but his influence elsewhere may surprise you.
[Visit] the American Writers Museum in Chicago, your ticket into the interactive, inspirational, and surprising world of American writing of all genres. Learn about the history of writing in the United States and how it has shaped our lives through exhibits that stretch your imaginations and appeal to all 5 senses.. Then, explore the intricacies of language through games and try writing something for yourself on a vintage typewriter!
…The show will continue to run in two parts in London; Melbourne, Australia; and Hamburg, Germany, but will be a single part in New York, San Francisco and Toronto. It was not immediately clear how long that single part would be; the two parts have a total running time of about 5 hours and 15 minutes.
Structured essentially as a stage sequel to J.K. Rowling’s seven wildly popular “Harry Potter” novels, the show was the most expensive nonmusical play ever to land on Broadway, costing $35.5 million to mount, and another estimated $33 million to redo Broadway’s Lyric Theater. Before the pandemic, the play was routinely grossing around $1 million a week on Broadway — an enviable number for most plays, but not enough for this one, with its large company and the expensive technical elements that undergird its stage magic.
The play, a high-stakes magical adventure story with thematic through lines about growing up and raising children, was written by Jack Thorne and directed by John Tiffany, based on a story credited to Rowling, Thorne and Tiffany. Thorne and Tiffany said they had been working on a new version of the show during the pandemic, which, they said, “has given us a unique opportunity to look at the play with fresh eyes.”
The writers did not say what kind of changes they would make, but the production promised that the new version would still deliver “all the amazing magic, illusions, stagecraft and storytelling set around the same powerful narrative.”
“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” began its stage life in London, opening in the summer of 2016, and winning nine Olivier awards — the most of any play — in 2017. It arrived on Broadway in 2018, picked up six Tony Awards, and initially sold very strongly, grossing about $2 million a week. But the sales softened over time, as average ticket prices fell, apparently because of a combination of the lengthy time commitment and the need to buy two tickets to see the whole story, which made it particularly expensive for families….
The GenCon gaming convention made with this statement:
The Origins Game Fair has said the Gygax-connected TSR company is also unwelcome at their event.
(8) BOUCHARD OBIT. Detroit area fan and fanzine publisher Alexander Bouchard was killed yesterday in an automobile accident. Al produced a fanzine called The Lightning Round. He also liked to post political comment videos on his YouTube Channel AlexanderFilmWorks — the last two in January criticizing the attack on the Capitol. He is survived by his widow, Megan. A GoFundMe appeal has been opened by their friends Kimberly and Miki Ivey: “Al Bouchard’s burial and help for his wife Megan”.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 30, 1971 – On this date fifty years ago, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory premiered. It was directed by Mel Stuart and produced by Stan Margulies and David L. Wolper. It was based off Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. The exemplary cast consisted of Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Roy Kinnear, Julie Dawn Cole, Leonard Stone, Denise Nickerson, Dodo Denney and Paris Themmen. Some critics really didn’t like it, some kind of liked it and most were very fond of it. It really didn’t do well at the box office though not even making back production and marketing costs. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a very superb rating of eighty-seven percent.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 30, 1902 — Lovat Dickson. Australian-born publisher and author who was half-brother of Gordon R Dickson. He wrote a biography of H G Wells, H G Wells: His Turbulent Life and Times. (Died 1987.)
Born June 30, 1905 — Nestor Paiva. Sometimes it only takes one film or series for a performer to get a Birthday write-up from me. Paiva makes it for Lucas the boat captain in The Creature from the Black Lagoon and its oft-forgotten sequel Revenge of the Creature. Though that was hardly his only genre role as his first role was in the early Forties as an uncredited prison guard in Tarzan’s Desert Mystery and he’d be in many a genre film and series over the decades as Prof. Etienne Lafarge in The Mole People, as the saloon owner in (I kid you not!) Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, Felicity’s Father in The Spirit Is Willing, Captain Grimby in “The Great Treasure Hunt” of The Addams Family and a Doorman in the “Our Man in Leotards” episode of Get Smart. (Died 1966.)
Born June 30, 1920 — Sam Moskowitz. SF writer, critic, and historian. Chair of the very first World Science Fiction Convention held in NYC in 1939. He barred several Futurians from the con in what was later called the Great Exclusion Act. In the Fifties, he edited Science-Fiction Plus, a short-lived genre magazine owned by Hugo Gernsback, and would edit several dozen anthologies, and a few single-author collections, most published in the Sixties and early Seventies. His most enduring legacy was as a historian of the genre with such works as Under the Moons of Mars: A History and Anthology of “The Scientific Romance” in the Munsey Magazines, 1912–1920 and Hugo Gernsback: Father of Science Fiction. First Fandom named its award for collecting after him. (Died 1997.)
Born June 30, 1959 — Vincent D’Onofrio, 62. His long running-role is Dective Goren on Law and Order: Criminal Intent which is in no way genre. He was Kingpin in the Daredevil film, Edgar the Bug in the only truly great Men in Black film to date and Vic Hoskins in Jurassic World. He also was Jason Whitney / Jerry Ashton in The Thirteenth Floor, loosely based upon Simulacron-3, a early Sixties novel by Daniel F. Galouye.
Born June 30, 1961 — Diane Purkiss, 60. I’ve not read her Corydon Trilogy she wrote with Michael Dowling, her son, but I can say that At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Nymphs, and Other Troublesome Things is as splendid as the title suggests it is. She’s also written Fairies and Fairy Stories: A History.
Born June 30, 1963 — Rupert S. Graves, 58. Here because he played Inspector G. Lestrade on thatSherlock series. He also appeared on Doctor Who as Riddell in the Eleventh Doctor story, “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. He had one-offs in The Nightmare Worlds of H. G. Wells: The Moth, Twelve Monkeys, Krypton and Return of the Saint.
Born June 30, 1966 — Peter Outerbridge, 55. Dr. David Sandström in what I think is the underrated ReGenesis series as well being Henrik “Hank” Johanssen in Orphan Black anda recurring role on Millennium as Special Agent Barry Baldwin. He’s currently in two series, The Umbrella Academy with a recurring role as The Conductor, and as Calix Niklosin in V-Wars, yet another Netflix SF series.
Born June 30, 1972 — Molly Parker, 49. Maureen Robinson on the current Lost in Space series. One-offs in Nightmare Cafe, The Outer Limits, The Sentinel, Highlander: The Series, Poltergeist: The Legacy, Human Target and she appeared in The Wicker Man asSister Rose / Sister Thorn.
(12) LOOK OUT BELOW.[Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] Third Planet Sci-Fi and Fantasy Superstore in Houston is suing the hotel next door to them because guests at the hotel keep dropping junk on top of the bookstore’s roof, and recently caused a lot of damage. The suit is being presented in an unusually nifty format though! To see the entire comic, skip down to page six of the Plaintiff’s Petition. (Screencaps from Above the Law’s post “Comic Store Includes Graphic Novel Of Allegations In Filing”.)
(13) CLARION CALL. The Clarion West Write-A-Thon is under weigh, but you can still get on board.
Participating writers sign up beginning June 7. They set writing goals, put up excerpts of their work, and use social media to let people know that they’re writing for a good cause. There are all kinds of writing goals—from the manageable “write for five minutes a day” to the ambitious “finish a novel” or “finish six short stories.” Every writer in the Write-a-thon chooses a goal that works for them.
This summer, writers may participate in additional online events, including affinity groups, writing sprints, (recorded) craft talks, and more. See [page] for the full list of perks.
After the Write-a-thon kicks off on June 20, friends and family can visit the Write-a-thon site, choose a writer or writers they would like to support, and use the button on each writer’s page to sponsor them. Every week, writers get a report on who’s donated to them, allowing them to communicate with their supporters. Many writers send their supporters updates on their progress, or show off their completed work at the end of the Write-a-thon, but it’s not required.
3. Am I too late to join?
The 2021 Clarion West Write-a-thon runs from June 20 to July 31. But no worries if you got here midway through; there’s no last day to sign up as a participant, and you can donate until August 31.
(14) YOUR FIRST. Clarion West is also doing a panel about “Releasing Your First Book” on July 5 at 6:30 p.m. Pacific. “Releasing your first book is tough any time. Hear from four Clarion West alumni who did it last year and learn what their journey was like.” Register here. The panel features Elly Bangs, Lauren Dixon, Emily Skaftun, and E. Lily Yu.
On Monday, July 5, we’re hosting our first live panel: Releasing Your First Book. Learn what the journey was like from four Clarion West alumni — Elly Bangs (CW, ’17, author of Unity, Tachyon Publications), Emily Skaftun (CW ’09, author of Living Forever & Other Terrible Ideas, Fairwood Press), Lauren Dixon (CW ’10, author of Welcome to the Bitch Bubble, Hydra House Books), and E. Lily Yu (CW ’13, author of On Fragile Waves, Erewhon Books) — who released their books last year.
Nadja and her ten-year-old son are on an overnight flight from Germany to New York when a group of terrorists violently take control of the plane and threaten the lives of the passengers. Suddenly Nadja faces an impossible choice – should she reveal her dark side and the inner monster she has kept hidden from her son for years in order to save him? The hunters become the hunted in this action-horror from director Peter Thorwarth.
…The core members of such a team might include a mastermind (to plan the heist), a thief (to get past any security devices), the driver (to orchestrate exfiltration), the muscle (in case something goes horribly wrong), and of course, the distraction (because it is much easier to get away with stuff if everyone is looking in the wrong direction). Speculative fiction offers numerous candidates who would combine the required expertise with the necessary moral flexibility. Here are the five SFF characters I’d pick for my retrieval team.
The Driver: McGill Feighan (The Journeys of McGill Feighan series by Kevin O’Donnell, Jr.)
McGill Feighan is a “flinger,” a teleporter whose reach spans the Milky Way. He is also one of the very few flingers to escape the Flinger Network’s methodical conditioning, which prevents flingers from doing anything untoward. Although he is not criminally inclined, he is at the centre of a compelling mystery—why did the terribly mysterious Far Being Retzglaran orchestrate McGill’s kidnapping as a baby?—and if you can convince him the job will somehow get him closer to answering that question, he may turn a blind eye to certain legal niceties. With him by your side, the entire galaxy is within reach.
Note: The vast criminal gang known as the Organization would also like an answer to McGill’s question. They play rough, so try not to attract their attention. Or the attention of the Far Being Retzglaran, for that matter.
(17) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter witnessed these stumbles on tonight’s episode of Jeopardy!
Final Jeopardy: 20th Century Novels
Answer: British biochemist J.B.S. Haldane’s essay on ectogenesis, birth outside the womb, helped inspire this 1932 novel.
Wrong questions: “What is ‘Metamorphosis’?” and “What is ‘Steppenwolf’?”
Right question: “What Is ‘Brave New World’?.”
(18) WE SEE EXOPLANETS. HOW DO THEY SEE US? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] One of the best ways we currently detect exoplanets is when their orbit intersects our line of sight with their host star: these exoplanets transit their star. As said, this only works when observer, planet and star are all aligned. However, just as we can this way detect exoplanets, so exoplanets about stars in the plane of our Earth orbiting the Sun can similarly detect the Earth!
Assuming aliens have at least the same technology as us, how many of these are there?
Two US astronomers, using data from the Gaia mission that takes into account the movement of stars, have worked out how many stars could detect an Earth transit of the Sun.
It turns out that over the past 5,000 years there were some 1,715 stars within 100 parsecs (~350 light years) of the Earth that could detect us using the transit method. Currently, today, there are 1,402 stars that could detect the Earth using the transit method with our level of technology. Of these 128 are G type stars like our Sun.
The astronomers also estimate, taking a pessimistic view of our current exoplanet catalogue, and applying a probability based on that, that there 508 rocky planets in the habitable zone of these stars.
Finally, assuming that we have been generating significant radio waves for about a century, they calculate 29 of these potentially habitable rocky planets could, were there aliens there listening, be in a position to also detect our radio signals.
Ingenuity, NASA’s pint-sized Mars helicopter, has kicked up some surprising science on its flights over the red planet. When whizzing through the Martian air, its blades sometimes stir up a dust cloud that envelops and travels along with the tiny chopper. In several videos of Ingenuity’s flights, planetary scientists have seen dust whirling beneath the helicopter’s rotors — even when Ingenuity is flying as high as 5 metres above the Martian surface. That suggests that dust can get lifted and transported in the thin Martian air more easily than researchers had suspected….
(20) VIDEOS OF THE DAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan, actors who played hobbits in The Lord of the Rings movies (Pippin Took and Merry Brandybuck), appeared on The Late Show to promote their podcast “The Friendship Onion.” Host Stephen Colbert referred to it as completing his set of Hobbits as he has previously interviewed Elijah Wood and Sean Astin—as well as many other LotR actors. There was singing, trivia, and banter plus a video appearance by Peter Jackson.
Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd share stories from the set of the “Lord of the Rings” movies and get our host to join them in singing a Hobbit drinking song. You can hear more from them in their new Lord of the Rings podcast, “The Friendship Onion.”
Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, and special guest Peter Jackson try to find a “Lord of the Rings” trivia question that will stump our host. And to up the stakes, they have a special LOTR prize for Stephen if he can get it right.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Justin Busch, Lloyd Penney, Robin A. Reid, Jennifer Hawthorne, Daniel Dern, David K.M. Klaus, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day microtherion.]
…Let’s take a step back. At 77, Ford apparently hasn’t quite completed the valedictory tour of his most beloved roles which began back in 2008 with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, continued with Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015 and rounded off with Blade Runner 2049 in 2017. During that run it felt like Ford was being very savvy in using Rick Dekkard, Han Solo and Indy to cement his legacy and remind younger audiences that he wasn’t always a man badly CGI’d into the fight scene in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
(2) RAGTIME GAL. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Finally saw The
Rise of Skywalker.
we hadn’t expected to see included:
Jar-Jar Binks’ daughter showing as the new Darth Vader. (Helmet problems, of course, ears ended up dangling out from visor, tssk!)
The Force Ghost of Yoda does a comedy song routine, including some action riffs from Singing in the Rain and Make ‘Em Laugh. Using lightsaber as a cane/umbrella was inspired!
…As a public figure, the contract between an author and a reader is as follows:
Author writes the book. Reader purchases and reads the book.
That’s it. That’s the sum total. Purchasing a book or wanting to be an aspiring author doesn’t entitle you access to an author’s social media any more than it entitles you to sleep in their bedroom at night. Social media is necessary marketing for authors, but that doesn’t mean they have to engage with unpleasantness. Some do. In the past, I often have. But I’m older, and hypertension is a thing, and quite frankly, I don’t need the bullshit. If I invite you into my living room, am I expected to sit there and let you call me an “arrogant egotistical asshole with sycophants surrounding” me simply because you shared a link to my podcast a few days ago, or because you bought a book by me at some point?
I don’t block people for politics. I don’t block them for what they like or dislike, or for who they follow. But if I feel someone is being purposely antagonistic or ignorant, or if I think they’re the latest in a very, very, very, very long line of geniuses whose beginning and ending marketing plan is, “I’ll pick a fight with Brian Keene/Nick Mamatas/Wrath James White/insert other name here and that will get me noticed” (a ploy so old, by the way, that Maurice Broaddus wrote about it way back in 2005), or if I think they have the potential to join in on those shenanigans, then yeah, I block them. It’s better for my mental health, and it’s definitely better for my blood pressure.
In support of the Retro Hugos project for CoNZealand, we’ve added an alphabetical list of 1944 fanzines. It is the largest list of 1944 fanzines that we could compile. We have linked, both from our site and others, all the zines we can find to give you the ability to read what was going on in 1944. We will link to additional zines as we find them, and are also still scanning more ourselves. If you know of appropriate materials not on the list, please let us know. We hope this will give you some ability to judge the 1944 materials first hand. Much of it may not seem of significant quality to us today, but it gives context and the ability to compare the writers and editors of 1944, rather than just relying on their later reputations.”…Joe Siclari
(8) CLI-FI FICTION CONTEST. The Imagination
and Climate Futures Initiative launched their third global climate fiction
writing contest yesterday. The Everything Change Climate Fiction Contest 2020 is
taking submissions until April 15. Full guidelines at the link.
Inspired by the incredible international response to our climate fiction contests in 2016 and 2018, we are proud to announce our third contest in 2020—a momentous year for climate action, and an unprecedented opportunity to reimagine how humans will live on this planet in the future.
Work will be selected and judged by Claire Vaye Watkins, a Guggenheim Fellow, winner of The Story Prize, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, and author of Gold Fame Citrus, a climate fiction novel that was named a best book of 2015 by The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and NPR. Claire will join an interdisciplinary group of judges with expertise in climate science, sustainability, creative writing, and environmental literature.
All genres are welcome. The author of the winning story will receive a $1000 prize, and nine finalists will receive $100 prizes. The winning story and finalists will be published in an anthology by the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative at Arizona State University.
(9) HEMMING AWARD NOMINEES SOUGHT. The Australian Science
Fiction Foundation (ASFF) is taking entries in the Norma K Hemming Award for
works published in 2019. Submit items here through February 29.
Designed to recognise excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, sexuality, class or disability in a published speculative fiction work, the Norma K Hemming Award is now open for entries.
The award is open to short fiction, novellas, novels, anthologies, collections, graphic novels and stage plays, and makes allowances for serialised work. Entry is free for all works, and entries may be provided to the judges in print or digital format.
Two prizes will be given, one for short fiction (up to 17,500 words) and one award for long work (novellas, novels, collections, anthologies, graphic novels and play scripts), with a cash prize and citation awarded.
Nominations are open to all eligible work produced in 2019.
“We encourage publishers and creators to carefully consider their work from the eligible period,” said award administrator Tehani Croft. “It is our goal to see all eligible material considered by the jurors. It is important to us that every person has the opportunity to see themselves reflected in fiction, and we hope that the Norma can have some part to play in making works dealing in themes of race, gender, sexuality, class or disability in speculative fiction more visible.”
(10) CLARK OBIT. Bestselling thriller author Mary Higgins
January 31 at 92. The LA Times notice ends —
Married since 1996 to former Merrill Lynch Futures Chief Executive John J. Conheeney, she remembered well the day she said goodbye to hard times. It was in April of 1977, and her agent had told her that Simon & Schuster was offering $500,000 for the hardcover to her third novel, “A Stranger Is Watching,” and that the publisher Dell was paying $1 million for the paperback. She had been running her own script production company during the day and studying for a philosophy degree at Fordham University at night, returning home to New Jersey in an old car with more than 100,000 miles on it.
“As I drove onto the Henry Hudson Parkway, the tailpipe and muffler came loose and began dragging on the ground. For the next 21 miles, I kur-plunked, kur-plunked, all the way home,” she wrote in her memoir. “People in other cars kept honking and beeping, obviously sure that I was either too stupid or too deaf to hear the racket.
“The next day I bought a Cadillac!”
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 4, 1983 — Videodrome premiered. It was written and directed by David Cronenberg, with a cast of James Woods, Sonja Smits, and Debbie Harry. It was the first film by Cronenberg to get Hollywood backing and it bombed earning back only two million dollars of its nearly six million budget. In spite of that, critics and audience goers alike found it to a good film. Today it is considered his best film by many, and it holds a sterling 80% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 4, 1922 — William Phipps. He started off his genre career by being in both The War of The Worlds and Invaders from Mars. He’d later be in Cat-Women of the Moon, The Snow Creature, The Evil of Frankenstein, and the Dune series. He’d have one-offs in Batman, Green Hornet, The Munsters, Wild Wild West and a lead role in the Time Express series which would last four episodes according IMDB. (Died 2018.)
Born February 4, 1925 — Russell Hoban. Author of a number of genre novel of which the best by far is Riddley Walker. Indeed, ISFDB lists some fifteen such novels by him, so I’m curious how he is as a genre writer beyond Riddley Walker. (Died 2011.)
Born February 4, 1936 — Gary Conway, 84. Best remembered I’d say for starring in Irwin Allen‘s Land of the Giants. You can see the opening episode here. He was also in How to Make a Monster, a late Fifties horror film which I’m delighted to say that you can watch here. He’s the Young Frankenstein in it.
Born February 4, 1940 — George A. Romero. He’s got an impressive listing form the Dead films, I count seven of them, to Knightriders, which is truly genre adjacent at best, and one of my favorites of his, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie. Oh, and he wasn’t quite as ubiquitous as Stan Lee, but he did show up in at least seven of his films. (Died 2017.)
Born February 4, 1940 — John Schuck, 80. My favorite SF role by him is as the second Draal, Keeper of the Great Machine, on the Babylon 5 series. I know it was only two episodes but it was a fun role. He’s also played the role of Klingon ambassador Kamarag in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He guest starred in Deep Space Nine as Legate Parn in “The Maquis: Part II”, on Star Trek: Voyager as Chorus #3 in the “Muse” episode, and on Enterprise as Antaak in the “Divergence” and “Affliction” episodes. Oh, and he was Herman Munster in The Munsters Today. Now that was a silly role! Did you know his makeup was the Universal International Frankenstein-monster makeup format whose copyright NBCUniversal still owns?
Born February 4, 1959 — Pamelyn Ferdin, 60. She was in the “And the Children Shall Lead” episode of Trek. She’ll show up in The Flying Nun (as two different characters), voicing a role in The Cat in The Hat short, Night Gallery, Sealab 2020 (another voice acting gig), Shazam! and Project UFO. She’d have a main role in Space Academy, the Jonathan Harris failed series as well.
Born February 4, 1961 — Neal Asher, 59. I’ve been reading and enjoying his Polity series since he started it nearly twenty years ago. Listing all of his works here would drive OGH to a nervous tick as I think there’s now close to thirty works in total. I’m listening to The Line War right now and it’s typically filled with a mix of outrageous SF concepts (Dyson spheres in the middle of a hundred thousand year construction cycles) and humans who might not be human (Ian Cormac is back again). As I said last year, h the sort of writer that I think drives our Puppies to madness — literate pulp SF pumped out fast that readers like.
Born February 4, 1962 — Thomas Scott Winnett. Locus magazine editorial assistant and reviewer from 1989 to 1994. He worked on Locus looks at books and Books received as well. In addition, he wrote well over a hundred review reviews for Locus. He died of AIDS-related pneumonia. (Died 2004.)
This is the story of a very old, and very big idea. When I first had it, I was thirteen years old, and the idea was so big that I couldn’t even wrap my mind around it. It was the idea for a world of cavern cities, where families were restricted in their professions, and about conflicts of power… but until I’d turned this idea over hundreds of times, over years, it always seemed out of my grasp. I learned about anthropology, and added a new social awareness to my idea, and realized it was for a work of sociological science fiction. I studied linguistics, and added that, too. I tried to write a story about it, knew it was wrong, and learned more, and wrote it again. I concentrated hard on learning how language and the world around us reflect our concepts of our social selves, and wrote it again.
Until it stopped being wrong, and became the world of Varin….
(15) TRUE GRIT. Dune and The Martian are two
of the recommendations on Penguin Random House’s “Books
to Read on a Desert Island”, which makes an unintentionally humorous
kind of sense….
So you found yourself stranded on a desert island, what book do you wish you had with you? More realistically, you’re sitting on a long plane flight or waiting for an appointment, but the question still applies! We’ve suggested a few fiction and nonfiction books below that will have you contemplating life or forgetting reality.
…But in 2000, the FBI got an anonymous tip about an “Uncle Jerry” rigging the McDonald’s competition. The organization launched an investigation that would uncover the fact that many of the winners—despite the out-of-state addresses they listed—actually lived within a 25-mile radius of the lakefront home Jacobson owned. According to the Daily Beast, “25 agents across the country…tracked 20,000 phone numbers, and recorded 235 cassette tapes of telephone calls.” McDonald’s even sent an employee undercover to help the FBI stage a fake TV commercial campaign—Argo–style—to get the fraudulent winners to incriminate themselves on camera. There were raids. And in 2001, in a scene tailor-made for the third act of an action thriller, McDonald’s launched another Monopoly game—knowing that their game had been compromised—because the FBI needed more evidence.
(17) EXTRAORDINARY. Adler #1 will be released in comic shops tomorrow. “Irene Adler is on a mission to take down Sherlock’s greatest nemesis, Moriarty!”
It’s the League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen, as Adler teams up with a host of famous female faces from history and literature to defeat the greatest criminal mastermind of all time!
Written by World Fantasy Award Winner Lavie Tidhar, with art by Paul McCaffrey (TMNT).
Tulane University has acquired the complete archives of bestselling author Anne Rice, who was born and raised in New Orleans and whose books, including “Interview with the Vampire,” often drew inspiration from her hometown.
The collection was a gift from Stuart Rose and the Stuart Rose Family Foundation to the university’s Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, the university said in a statement.
“That Tulane has provided a home for my papers is exciting and comforting,” Rice said in the statement. “All my novels — in a career spanning more than 40 years — have been profoundly influenced by the history and beauty of New Orleans, and by its unique ambience in which my imagination flourished even in early childhood.”
Rice has written 30 novels. She moved to California to attend university and has spent much of her life since then in California, according to her biography. But New Orleans has played a central role in much of her fiction.
Scientists have found a clue to how autism spectrum disorder disrupts the brain’s information highways.
The problem involves cells that help keep the traffic of signals moving smoothly through brain circuits, a team reported Monday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
The team found that in both mouse and human brains affected by autism, there’s an abnormality in cells that produce a substance called myelin.
That’s a problem because myelin provides the “insulation” for brain circuits, allowing them to quickly and reliably carry electrical signals from one area to another. And having either too little or too much of this myelin coating can result in a wide range of neurological problems.
For example, multiple sclerosis occurs when the myelin around nerve fibers is damaged. The results, which vary from person to person, can affect not only the signals that control muscles, but also the ones involved in learning and thinking.
The finding could help explain why autism spectrum disorders include such a wide range of social and behavioral features, says Brady Maher, a lead investigator at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development and an associate professor in the psychiatry department at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
“Myelination could be a problem that ties all of these autism spectrum disorders together,” Maher says. And if that’s true, he says, it might be possible to prevent or even reverse the symptoms using drugs that affect myelination.
“If we get to these kids really early, we might be able to change their developmental trajectory and improve their outcomes,” Maher says.
A man’s doorbell camera has captured a celestial light show as what is thought to be a meteor dropped through the night sky in Derby.
Gary Rogers, 52, who captured the footage about 23:30 GMT on Monday, said he was amazed and felt lucky to have seen it.
Experts at the National Space Centre in Leicester said they believe it was a bolide – a bright meteor that explodes in the atmosphere.
Rob Dawes, chairman of nearby Sherwood Observatory, said the brightness suggested it was larger than a normal meteor.
He said: “[Mr Rogers] was very lucky to get such a nice bright one. But you’d be surprised how many of these do come into the atmosphere at any time of year.”
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian,
Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Daniel Dern, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
…In 2018, she released “How Long ’til Black Future Month?,” a collection of short stories. She also completed her next novel, “The City We Became,” the first installment of another trilogy, which is due out this March. Submitting the novel to her editor, a few hours before midnight on New Year’s Eve, she felt depleted; for more than a decade, she had been writing nearly a book a year. She resolved to take 2019 off, but she couldn’t stay idle. She sketched out the new trilogy’s second installment, while also navigating calls from Hollywood, speaking engagements, side gigs. Marvel Comics invited her to guest-write a series—an offer she declined, because she had already agreed with DC Comics to create a “Green Lantern” spinoff. As we sat in her office, the first issue of her comic was slated for release in a few weeks. “This is an unusual year for me,” she said. “Usually, I have only one thing to concentrate on.”
Above her desk she had hung family photos: glimpses of a truncated generational story. “Like most black Americans descended from slaves, it basically stops,” she told me. She once wrote about this loss—not merely the erasure of a backstory but also the absence of all that a person builds upon it; as she put it, the “strange emptiness to life without myths.” She had considered pursuing genealogy, “the search for the traces of myself in moldering old sale documents and scanned images on microfiche.” But ultimately she decided that she had no interest in what the records might say. “They’ll tell me where I came from, but not what I really want to know: where I’m going. To figure that out, I make shit up.”
As of today, 20th of January 2020, I am stepping down from being the fiction editor-in-chief and producer of StarShipSofa.
I delayed stepping down this as long as I could. For almost two years, in fact, but it’s come to this inevitable write-up.
…See, I was never an editor at heart. I am and always will be a writer. I spent years and years handling other people’s writing and enjoyed it immensely. But it wasn’t what I ultimately wanted to do. And being an editor, particularly for audio format, is hard. It’s time-consuming. It’s exhausting. It’s draining. Not going to run through the process and all its shenanigans. Take my word for it that it’s nothing less than a part time job. And I did it because I loved it.
…Meanwhile, Isabel Fall has maintained her justifiably low profile. Even during the height of the controversy, she issued statements through mediators — first “Pip,” then Neil Clarke — rather than take a public platform herself. It remains to be seen what paths her creative career will take after her needlessly hostile reception this month.
Another concern is the lasting effect that the controversy will have on trans authors as a whole. The affair of “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” makes plain a dilemma for contemporary transgender literature: fiction that is personal and boundary-pushing, that takes insults and abuse and turns them on the head to create something new, clearly runs the risk of being wildly misinterpreted and misrepresented. But the alternative — of creating only art that conforms to a narrow notion of “proper” transgender experience, that strives to avoid even the hypothetical possibility of causing offence or discomfort — is hardly appealing.
If transgender fiction is to soar, then it cannot afford for people like Isabel Fall to be bullied off the launchpad.
(4) OSHIRO RETURNS. Mark Oshiro recently announced plans to
resume work. Thread starts here.
(5) LET ROVER COME OVER. Future Engineers’ student
contest to Name the
Rover announced the semifinalists on January
13. There are over 150 – see them all in this gallery.
The finalists will be announced January 21, and the
winning name on February 18.
(6) TRAINS IN SPACE. Featured in the 2020 Lionel Train
Catalog are Star Trek trains. New: Tribble Transport Car;
Romulan Ale Tank Car; Capt. Kirk Boxcar; Capt. Picard Boxcar… (They also have
trains from other shows and movies – Thomas the Tank Engine, Toy Story, Frozen
II, and other Pixar productions, Scooby-Doo, and Harry Potter.
Jane Rice is an author familiar to me solely though this story. Everyone gets to be one of the ten thousand sooner or later. She was a respected author of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. If this story is an example of her skill, I can see why her fans followed Rice. This meet-cute gone wrong is engaging enough for me to seek out more of Rice’s writing1. But what will my Young People think?
…As the transport’s doors open, actual humans playing First Order villains usher you out of the ship for you to be interrogated. They’re empowered to be a little strict with you — we witnessed one of them putting their evil fascist power to use in shushing someone who dared to speak during a speech they were giving to visitors.
“I know growing up, all I wanted to do was run around the corridors of a Star Destroyer — so hey, why not do it for real?” Imagineer John Larena said.
But as Imagineer Scott Trowbridge noted, “It turns out that it’s actually hard to make those experiences that we saw on the massive screen, to bring those to life with that sense of epic scale.” The ride was notably delayed from initial plans to open it alongside the rest of Galaxy’s Edge.
But looking around the ride, it feels like they actually did it. It may not feel quite as massive as some of the scenes from the Star Wars films, but there is a real sense of scale as you walk around what feel like movie sets….
(9) ASK THE FANTASY WRITERS. Be one of today’s lucky 10,000! View
this old episode of the BBC quiz show Only Connect featuring a team of
fantasy writers composed of Geoff Ryman, Paul Cornell, and Liz Williams. In the series, teams compete in a tournament of
finding connections between seemingly unrelated clues. The show ran from 2008
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 20, 1936 — Cosmic Voyage Is remembered as being one of the first films to depict spaceflight, including weightlessness in realistic terms. It was shot as a silent film and had only a short release window being banned by Soviet censors until the collapse of the USSR. And yes you, can indeed see it here.
January 20, 1972 — The first Star Trek convention took place in New York City from this day for two very full days. Memory Alpha notes that “Although the original estimate of attendees was only a few hundred, several thousand had turned up before the end of the convention, which featured a program of events of an art show, costume contest, a display provided by NASA and a dealers room.“ Gene Roddenberry, Majel Barrett, D.C. Fontana and Isaac Asimov were among the SFF community members who showed up.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 20, 1884 — A. Merritt. His first fantasy story was published in 1917, “Through the Dragon Glass” in the November 14 issue of All-Story Weekly. His SFF career would eventually consist of eight novels and fifteen (I think) short stories. I’m sure that I’ve read The Moon Pool, his novel, and much of that short fiction, but can’t recall the other novels as being read by me. In the digital release, Apple Books is clearly the better place to find his work as they’ve got everything he published whereas Kindle and Kobo are spotty. (Died 1943.)
Born January 20, 1934 — Tom Baker, 86. The Fourth Doctor of course and the longest serving one to date with a seven-year run. My favorite story of his? “The Talons of Weng Chiang”. He wrote an autobiography, Who on Earth Is Tom Baker?, and just did his first Doctor Who novel, Scratchman, co-written with James Goss.
Born January 20, 1958 — Kij Johnson, 62. Writer and associate director of The Center for the Study of Science Fiction the University of Kansas English Department which is I must say a cool genre thing to be doing indeed. If you not read her Japanese mythology based The Fox Woman, do so now as it’s superb. The sequel, Fudoki, is just as interesting. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe is a novella taking a classic Lovecraftian tale and giving a nice twist. Finally, I’ll recommend her short story collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories.
Born January 20, 1981 — Izabella Miko, 39. OK, she was in The Clash of Titans as Athens. Why Goddess tell would anyone remake such a perfect film? She also had a recurring role on the very short lived The Cape series as Raia, and she had a recurring role as Carrie on Deadwood.
Born January 20, 1983 — Svetlana Viktorovna Khodchenkova, 37. I think her only SFF role was in the most excellent Hugh Jackman led The Wolverine in which she had the dual role of Dr. Green who becomes The Viper. Marvels fans will recognise that this is a new version of the character. But most of her career involves Russian titled productions so I’m not sure…
Non Sequitur finds two guys who are unprepared for a UFO to land in their bar, but not for the reason you might expect.
(13) N3F SHORT
STORY CONTEST WINNERS. The winners of the National Fantasy Fan
Federation’s 2019 Short Story Contest were announced in TNFF.
First Prize: “As Day Follows Night” by Karen L. Kobylarz, a tale of heroic fantasy, highly embla-zoned with both heroism and fantasy, a “quest” story following a magic student on a harrowing journey into myth and sacrifice.
Second Prize: “The Safety of Thick Walls” by Gus-tavo Bondoni, a tale of the Roman Republic…with zombies!
Third Prize: “Where You G-O-H When You Die” by Adam R. Goss, following a fallen space hero in his astonishing afterlife, more fantastic than he could possibly have imagined.
Honorable Mention: “The Captain” by Michael Simon, a three-time loser is sentenced to serve as the captain of a spaceship: does the punishment really fit the crime?
…I understand the basic idea of staying in your lane when it comes to diversity in fiction, and to a certain extent, I support it. I think writers shouldn’t try to tell a story meant to illuminate important aspects of another group’s experience. Only a person who was raised in and still is steeped in a culture/race/gender/etc. can ever know it well enough to write in-depth fiction exploring the issues that group faces. No amount of research can ever give you as authoritative an experience as someone who actually belongs a group other than your own, and you will never do as good a job as a writer from that group would at telling those stories. That said, I think if your story isn’t about the African-American experience or the gay experience, or the fill-in-the-blank experience, you can write from the point of view of a character unlike yourself if their racial/gender/cultural identity isn’t central to the story. Men in Black is a good example. Agents J and K could be people of any race, gender, or sexuality without having an appreciable impact on the film’s plot. (One does need to be older than the other, though.) Some character bits, such as J’s jokes which arise from his race would change, but the characters’ essential personalities and how they solve problems would remain the same. The story isn’t about J being black and K being white. It’s about the weird aspects of their job and saving the world. I’m perfectly comfortable writing from the point of view of someone with a different racial/ethnic/gender/sexual orientation background than myself in this circumstance. I focus on the character’s personality, and while their backgrounds will affect the expression of their character to a certain extent, I don’t attempt to delve very deep into their race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc. And if I do go a little deeper than usual, it’s because I have close relationships with people from those backgrounds, and I’m comfortable asking them if I misrepresented the group they belong to (or rather one of their groups, since we all belong to multiple ones).
Next month 21 films from the legendary Studio Ghibli are coming to Netflix.
It means new people will be introduced to “the ultimate escapism” of Studio Ghibli’s films – up until now they’ve only been available on DVD or illegally.
Some of its most famous films include the Oscar-winning Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, and Howl’s Moving Castle.
“It will really give people the chance to enjoy a lot of classics that they may not know about but are famous in the anime world,” says Sarah Taylor, whose heart has “been with Ghibli” since she was 16 years old.
The weather forecasters have just given us an impressive display of their skill by predicting the scale of the current high pressure zone over the UK.
Overnight, Sunday into Monday, London’s Heathrow Airport recorded a barometric pressure of 1,049.6 millibars (mbar).
It’s very likely the highest pressure ever recorded in London, with records dating back to 1692.
But the UK Met Office and the European Centre for Medium Range Forecasts had seen it coming well ahead of time.
“Computerised forecast models run by the Met Office and the ECMWF predicted this development with near pinpoint precision, forecasting the eventual position and intensity of the high pressure area several days in advance, before it had even begun to form,” said Stephen Burt, a visiting fellow at Reading University’s department of meteorology.
…”The reason for the extremely high pressure can be traced back to the rapid development of an intense low-pressure area off the eastern seaboard of the United States a few days previously (this is the storm that dumped around 75cm of snow in Newfoundland),” he explained.
…With Sunday’s successful test, Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, said it is now “probable” that the first mission with astronauts on board could happen as early as the second quarter of 2020. He told reporters the test “went as well as one could possibly expect.”
Two men in New Zealand and Spain have created an “Earth sandwich” – by placing slices of bread on precise points, either side of the planet.
The man behind the sandwich, Etienne Naude from Auckland, told the BBC he wanted to make one for “years”, but had struggled to find someone in Spain, on the other side of the globe.
He finally found someone after posting on the online message board, Reddit.
The men used longitude and latitude to make sure they were precisely opposite.
That meant there was around 12,724km (7,917 miles) of Earth packed between the slices – and some 20,000km between the men, for those forced to travel the conventional route.
…Mr Naude only had to travel a few hundred metres to find a suitable public spot on his side of the world. His Spanish counterpart had to travel 11 km (6.8 miles).
“It’s quite tough to find a spot which isn’t water on the New Zealand end – and where public roads or paths intersect in both sides,” Mr Naude said.
As if he hadn’t gone to enough effort, Mr Naude – a computer science student at Auckland University – made specially-decorated white bread for the occasion.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Horror Musical Instrument — The Apprehension Engine”
on YouTube shows off a machine that comes up with the electronic scary
music used in horror movies.
[Thanks to N., Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse
Wooster, Danny Sichel, Giant Panda, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King
Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Ann Nimmhaus.]
…Again, that’s not Isabel Fall’s fault and it shouldn’t have been her problem because the source of the trust should have not rested with her but with Clarkesworld. The answer to the question “is this story intended to be in good-faith” should have been “yes, because Clarkesworld wouldn’t have published it otherwise”. Unfortunately, that wasn’t a sufficient answer for many people and I don’t think we can fault people for not seeing it as a sufficient answer. The key question Clarkesworld need to answer before publication is whether people in wider fandom (i.e. not just their regular readers) is whether they had sufficient trust both in fandom in general and among transgender fans in particular for Clarkesworld (not Isabel Fall) to attempt to away some of the power of a very hurtful meme. The answer would have been “no”. Clearly, the magazine doesn’t have that level of trust, as demonstrated but also, I think it was obvious before hand.
Am I being wise after the event in saying so? No, really I don’t think so. Multiple people, from varying backgrounds were asking me privately before I wrote a review whether I thought the story was some sort of hoax or other shenanigans. In the context it had then (which isn’t the context it had now) sensible, rational people genuinely couldn’t tell. My main reason for thinking that it wasn’t a hoax was that I don’t think any of the usual suspects are that smart or intellectually adept (or, lets be frank, capable of writing that well). That’s an editorial failure not a failure on the part of the author….
(4) BIG MANDALORIAN IRON. An instant Country/Western
classic. Riding a Blurrg ain’t that bleepin’ easy!
From a planet they call Mandalore came a stranger one fine day…
(5) HI GRANDPA. Jon
Favreau tweeted a photo of George Lucas holding Baby Yoda.
Dolittle is not a film. Dolittle is a crime scene in need of forensic analysis. Something happened here. Something terrible. Something inexplicable. Watching the film doesn’t tell the whole story, because it doesn’t behave like the usual errant vision, which might be chalked up to a poor conceit or some hiccups in execution. This one has been stabbed multiple times, and only a thorough behind-the-scenes examination could sort out whose fingerprints are on what hilt.
Some details have already emerged: The credited director of Dolittle is Stephen Gaghan, who won an Oscar for scripting Traffic and wrote and directed the oil thriller Syriana — an odd résumé for a children’s film to say the least. After poor test screenings, the film’s release date was pushed from spring of 2019 to January of 2020, and it underwent extensive reshoots under director Jonathan Liebesman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and writer Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie), who reportedly punched up the script. During that same period, the name of the film changed from The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, referencing the second book in Hugh Lofting’s series about an eccentric animal doctor, to simply Dolittle, stripped even of the honorarium.
Normally, such trips to the sausage factory are not necessary to understand why a film works or it doesn’t, but Dolittle is so incoherent that it can’t be unpacked on its own. Certain baseline elements of a professional Hollywood production — this one budgeted upwards of $175 million — are simply not present here: The filmmakers have been stymied by the technical challenge of having human actors interact with CGI animals, so eye-lines don’t meet and the editing within scenes lacks continuity. Robert Downey Jr. is off mumbling incoherently in one part of the frame, an all-star voice cast is making wisecracks as a polar bear or an ostrich or a squirrel in another, and only occasionally do they look like they’re on speaking terms…
…Mr. Starkweather was working as a junior engineer in the offices of the Xerox Corporation in Rochester, N.Y., in 1964 — several years after the company had introduced the photocopier to American office buildings — when he began working on a version that could transmit information between two distant copiers, so that a person could scan a document in one place and send a copy to someone else in another.
He decided that this could best be done with the precision of a laser, another recent invention, which can use amplified light to transfer images onto paper. But then he had a better idea: Rather than sending grainy images of paper documents from place to place, what if he used the precision of a laser to print more refined images straight from a computer?
“What you have to do is not just look at the marble,” he said in a talk at the University of South Florida in 2017. “You have to see the angel in the marble.”
Because his idea ventured away from the company’s core business, copiers, his boss hated it. At one point Mr. Starkweather was told that if he did not stop working on the project, his entire team would be laid off.
“If you have a good idea, you can bet someone else doesn’t think it’s good,” Mr. Starkweather would say in 1997 in a lecture for the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 17, 1982 — The Electric Grandmother premiered on NBC. The film starred Maureen Stapleton, Paul Benedict and Edward Herrmann. It was penned by Ray Bradbury as “I Sing the Body Electric” in his 1969 collection of the same name. (It’s the title of a Walt Whitman poem.) School Library Journal said that fans of Bradbury would be fascinated by this film. This is the second dramatisation of his story as the first was presented on The Twilight Zone. It does doesn’t appeared to be out on DVD.
January 17, 1992 — Freejack premiered. It starred Emilio Estevez, Mick Jagger, Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins. The screenplay was written by Steven Pressfield, Ronald Shusett (who was also the producer) and Dan Gilroy. We consider it to be very loosely adapted from Robert Sheckley’s Immortality, Inc. (Great work. The serialised version as “Time Killer” in Galaxy was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel.) It was not at the time well-liked by either critics or reviewers. Currently it’s carrying a 25% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes and there’s a lot who have expressed an opinion — over fourteen thousand so far.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 17, 1899 — Nevil Shute. Author of On the Beach. It originally appeared as a four-part series, The Last Days on Earth, in the London weekly Sunday Graphic in April 1957. It was twice a film. He has other SF novels including An Old Captivity which involves time travel and No Highway which gets a review by Pohl in Super Science Stories, April 1949. There’s In the Wet and Vinland the Good as well. (Died 1960.)
Born January 17, 1910 — Carol Hughes. Genre fans will no doubt best recognize her as Dale Arden in Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe from sixty years ago. Other than The Red Dragon, a Charlie Chan film done in the Forties if I remember correctly, I’m not seeing anything that’s even genre adjacent for her though I’m assuming that the Fifties Ghost Buster short she was in should be a genre production. (Died 1995.)
Born January 17, 1922 – Betty White, 98. She voiced Gretchen Claus in The Story of Santa Claus which is enough for Birthday Honors, and she was Mrs. Delores Bickerman in Lake Placid as well according to keen eyes of John King Tarpinian. She had a cameo as herself in (I’m not kidding) Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt. and I’ll finish off by that she’s still active at nearly a hundred, bless her!, by voicing Bitey White in Toy Story 4.
Born January 17, 1925 — Patricia Owens. She was Hélène Delambre in The Fly. No offense to Cronenberg’s The Fly but this one is far more horrific. Her one of her last appearances was as Charlie in The Destructors which is sort of SFF. Ghost Ship where she was an uncredited party girl is definitely SFF, and her appearance on Alfred Hitchcock Presents falls under my rule that everything he did counts. (Died 2000.)
Born January 17, 1927 — Eartha Kitt. Though you’ll have lots of folks remembering her as Catwoman from the original Batman, she appeared in but four episodes there. Genre wise, she was in such series as I-Spy, Mission: Impossible, Matrix, the animated Space Ghost Coast to Coast and the animated My Life as a Teenage Robot. Film wise, she played Freya in Erik the Viking, voiced Bagheera in The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story and was Madame Zeroni In Holes. (Died 2008.)
Born January 17, 1931 — James Earl Jones, 89. His first SF appearance was in Dr. Strangelove as Lt. Lothar Zogg. And I think I need not list all his appearances as Darth Vader here. Some genre appearances include Exorcist II: The Heretic, The Flight of Dragons, Conan the Barbarian as Thulsa Doom and I actually remember him in that role, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, did you know the 1995 Judge Dredd had a Narrator? Well he’s listed as doing it, and Fantasia 2000 as well.
Born January 17, 1935 — Paul O. Williams. A poet won the Austonding Award for Best New Writer in 1983 for The Breaking of Northwall and The Ends of the Circle which are the first two novels of his Pelbar Cycle. I’ve not read these, so be interested in your opinions, of course. (Died 2009.)
Born January 17, 1962 — Jim Carrey, 58. His first genre film is Once Bitten whose content is obvious from its name. The ‘dorable Earth Girls Are Easy was next followed up by Batman Forever in which he played a manic Riddler that I really liked, then there’s The Truman Show which was way cool. So may we not talk about How the Grinch Stole Christmas? (SHUDDER!) We settled last year that we think that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is genre. And I think I’ll stop there this time.
Born January 17, 1970 — Genndy Tartakovsky, 50. Like Romulnan Ale, animation style is a matter of taste. So while I like his work on Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars, I can understand why many SW fans don’t as it’s definitely an acquired taste. He also is responsible for directing the animated Hotel Transylvania franchise.
Born January 17, 1989 — Kelly Marie Tran, 31. Best known as Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. She voices the same character in the Star Wars Forces of Destiny animated series.
The BBC has released five first look images from The Watch, the upcoming fantasy series inspired by Terry Pratchett’s bestselling Discworld novels featuring Richard Dormer (Captain Sam Vimes), Lara Rossi (Lady Sybil Ramkin), Adam Hugill (Constable Carrot), Jo Eaton-Kent (Constable Cheery), Sam Adewunmi (Carcer Dun), and Marama Corlett (Corporal Angua); check them out here…
It was a lifesaving mission as dramatic as any in the months-long battle against the wildfires that have torn through the Australian bush.
But instead of a race to save humans or animals, a specialized team of Australian firefighters was bent on saving invaluable plant life: hidden groves of the Wollemi pine, a prehistoric tree species that has outlived the dinosaurs.
Wollemia nobilis peaked in abundance 34 million to 65 million years ago, before a steady decline. Today, only 200 of the trees exist in their natural environment — all within the canyons of Wollemi National Park, just 100 miles west of Sydney.
The trees are so rare that they were thought to be extinct until 1994.
…when Australia’s wildfires started burning toward Wollemi National Park in recent weeks, firefighters from the parks and wildlife service and the New South Wales Rural Fire Service put a carefully planned operation into motion.
“This is a key asset, not only for the national parks, but for our entire country,” Matt Kean, New South Wales’ environment minister, said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Was it the asteroid or colossal volcanism that initiated the demise of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago?
This has been a bit of a “to and fro” argument of late, but now a group of scientists has weighed in with what they claim is the definitive answer.
“It was the asteroid ‘wot dun it’!” Prof Paul Wilson told the BBC.
His team’s analysis of ocean sediments shows that huge volcanoes that erupted in India did not change the climate enough to drive the extinction.
Volcanoes can spew enormous volumes of gases into the atmosphere that can both cool and warm the planet.
And the Deccan Traps, as the volcanic terrain in India is known, certainly had massive scale – hundreds of thousands of cubic km of molten rock were erupted onto the land surface over thousands of years.
But the new research from Southampton University’s Prof Wilson, and colleagues from elsewhere in Europe and the US, indicates there is a mismatch in both the effect and timing of the volcanism’s influence.
A 35-pound orange tabby cat – appropriately named Bazooka – has arrived with pomp and circumstance at a North Carolina shelter this week in preparation to begin his epic weight loss journey.
Bazooka, who was transferred from another shelter about two hours away in Davidson County, arrived at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Wake County earlier this week, requiring two people to carry him in his crate….
…When Europeans first settled in America in the 17th century and into the 18th, alcohol was regarded as not merely a beverage, but a medicine. Many of the country’s founding fathers were enthusiastic consumers of beer and rum: George Washington owned a distillery; Thomas Jefferson was a wine enthusiast; and in their era, anyone who didn’t drink alcohol would have been regarded as peculiar. Late into the 19th century beer and cider were the everyday drink of most Americans, and wine production was gaining in quality and quantity. How, then, did the prohibition movement, which was politically insignificant as late as the 1860s, grow to be so powerful?
Superhero fan art is no new thing. From Spiderman and Wolverine to the Hulk and DeadPool, these popular characters have been reimagined by artists in all manner of ways over the years. But just when we think we’ve seen it all, a project like Bathroom Heroes comes along.
The brainchild of artist JP “Pat” Huddleston, this series of illustrations depicts how superheroes might look while using the bathroom; and, more importantly, how they might manage their superpowers.
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Moshe
Feder, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for
some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of
the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
…Going forward, we will bear these lessons in mind, and hopefully we will become better at fulfilling our responsibilities to our authors, and to our readers.
In the meantime I offer my sincere apologies to those who were hurt by the story or the ensuing storms. While our lives have likely been quite different, I do understand what it is like to be bullied and harassed for an extended period of time. I can empathize, even if I can’t fully understand life in your shoes.
I have also privately apologized to Isabel. She has chosen to sign over her payment for this story to Trans Lifeline, “a non-profit organization offering direct emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis—for the trans community, by the trans community.” They have been a vital resource for her and inspired by her actions, I have decided to match the gift.
Through the course of these events, I’ve encountered many deeply personal stories from readers and authors. I’d like to thank those people for sharing and providing many of us with further opportunities to learn from their experiences. Aside from getting to know Isabel, that has been the high point of this experience. I wish you all the best and appreciate you taking the time to share….
Isabel Fall’s short story “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” in the January Clarkesworld, the subject of intense discussion on Twitter this week, was removed from the magazine’s website today at the author’s request.
Editor Neil Clarke tweeted:
The story remains available to read at the Wayback Machine.
This roundup illustrates the sources of the discussion
within the sff community, and points to some of the more frequently cross-referenced
IS THE STORY TRANSPHOBIC?
D Franklin challenges numerous passages as transphobic. Thread starts here.
D Franklin agrees the story should have been pulled. Thread starts here.
Another critic of the story as transphobic makes a detailed case
for that viewpoint here.
Lynn E. O’Connacht communicates that “there’s a pretty big difference between “this story makes me uncomfortable’ and ‘this story caused me harm’”. Thread starts here.
Bogi Takács sheds light on some matters that drive the reception of this story and works by and about other minorities.
Phoebe North supports the story and author in “An Open Letter” at Medium, an autobiographical essay that concludes:
Whatever you decide to do with your story, Isabel, thank you for writing your story. Thank you for making me feel seen and heard. We don’t get a lot of ourselves in fiction. We often only get scraps. This was more than that. A mirror.
Berry Grass believes the story has shortcomings, but aligns more with those who consider it to be thought-provoking. Thread starts here.
Carmen Maria Machado wrote a long, thoughtful thread about provocative stories in the context of art and literature, but while I was editing this together she locked her tweets to all but followers so those are not available to quote.
Malcolm F. Cross criticizes the story as having shortcomings as MilSF, too, but marks out more territory on the art vs. harm map. Thread starts here.
Warren Adams-Ockrassa’s thread seems to say that whatever the writer’s goal was, they should have handled it differently. Starts here.
PULLING THE STORY.
Cat Rambo is sorry the story was pulled. Thread starts here.
One of several eye-opening comments on Rambo’s thread:
ROLE OF AN EDITOR.
Setsu U finds the discussion about the story connects with many questions and concerns they are responsible for as an editor. Thread starts here.
Several people have been circulating screenshots of a statement that’s represented as giving background about the story and author. I have neither found the source of the original post, nor confirmation that it is from a Clarkesworld spokesperson, so I am not posting these but you can find a copy here.
Alexandra Erin on why she won’t read the story. Thread starts here.
Cheryl Morgan says she hasn’t read the story, however, offered advice for holding the discussion. Thread starts here. Some of her points are —
There’s extended discussion at Metafilter. As a whole, I thought I learned more just by searching “Clarkesworld” on Twitter.