By Daniel Dern: A decade ago, Leviathan Wakes, the first book of the Expanse series by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, writing together as James S. A. Corey, launched us into a (at the time) solar-system-wide adventure.
And now, a decade and three trilogies later, the tale/saga comes to an end, and, thankfully, impressively but not surprisingly, “sticks the landing” or whatever sports or other metaphor you want to use. Book 9 is a good read, and left me sad that the journey was over, but satisfied with how it went and ended. Leviathan Falls wraps up the major and minor plot lines and arcs, some going all the way back to Book 1, and gives closure to the various personal and interpersonal journeys of the main characters. Including a brief, touching epilogue, which, not unreasonably, does not involve shawarma.
(I had the same feeling of satisfactory wrap-up and closure with the third-and-final season of Netflix’s Lost In Space; ditto Andy Weir’s recent Project Hail Mary, to name a few.)
I had approached Leviathan Falls with the unfounded trepidation and baseless concern as to whether the book would do right by plot and characters. Again, it did, leaving me (ditto the friend who first got me reading these books, who I was chatting with at various stages of my reading) that combination of sadness that we’re done and the happy feeling for the journey and that the ending met our emotional (and critical) expectations.
My one suggestion, depending on how much you do/don’t remember of Book 8: Tiamat’s Wrath — consider going back and reading it. I was maybe 30-50 pages into Leviathan Falls when I read one too many references to [REDACTED] and said to myself, “Wait, what?”, got Book 8 from my library and read that before resuming Falls.
(I had debated backing up to Book 7: Persepolis Rising, because “Wait, Holden is what/where why?” but did some quick web browsing and decided that refresher was good enough.)
For those who haven’t yet read any of the Expanse books (or watched the SyFy/Amazon series, on the home stretch of its currently-final season (there apparently are legit ways to finesse contractual constraints to give us more), here’s a few quick notes:
Our story is PoV’d primarily by what becomes the close-knit plucky, adventury crew of the good spaceship Rocinante (and kudos to Abraham and Franck for consistently following one character’s PoV per chapter, and putting said PoV-er’s name as part of each chapter’s title).
Already-politically-jousting Belters, Martian colonists, Earthers and others encounter an alien technology, the protomolecule. (Somewhat like Babylon V in having the parallel and often intertwining people/political and big-ominous-alien-mystery-threat plotlines.)
Part of what’s gratified me about the Expanse has been that it feels like the author(s) live there, in near-future low- and zero-G, in spacecraft large and small, and that — with exceptions due to alien technologies — the laws of physics etc are explicit and respected, so, no FTL space drives or communication, for example.
No, I’m not going to say anything about what’s actually in Leviathan Falls, other than yes, James Holden, Naomi Nagata, Amos and Alex are still with us, plus other characters, good, bad and could-go-either-way from more recent volumes.
So again, all I’m going to say is, the book is available, and if you’ve enjoyed the ride so far, I don’t feel you’ll be let down by the finale. You will, I predict, be happy with [REDACTED], sad by accepting of [REDACTED], amused by [ALSO REDACTED], be expecting [REDACTED] but probably OK with [REDACTED]… and smiling at [REDACTED].
(Yes, there’s room for more stories in the Expansiverse, before, during or after, and I’ll at least try them such if they happen, but if that’s the end of it, I’m OK with that.)
And that’s all I think needs saying. Enjoy!
Or, as they say in Belter Creole, (according to Memverse) —
(1) WRECKS APPEAL. The Hugo Book Club Blog in “American Cleon” points out, among other things, that “Hari Seldon never suggests making something better than an Empire. He wants to make Trantor Great Again.”
….Foundation as a narrative has to be understood in this context; Isaac Asimov’s understanding of history was informed by American exceptionalism, the influence of America’s third ‘Great Awakening’ of apocalyptic religiosity, the wake of the Great Depression, and of a period of upheaval and uncertainty about the country’s future. It might be asked why, after 80 years, the books are finally being adapted to the screen; is it perhaps because we are again in a period of upheaval and uncertainty?
While we should be aware that the original novel is a product of the ideas and concerns of the time it was written, the television show is a product of today and makes arguments about the world of 2021. We would suggest that the television series version of Foundation contains hints of Gibbons’ classism, echoes of Asimov’s concerns about America on the eve of the Second World War, but also reflects our own 21st Century concerns about decline.
Margaret Atwood has said that “Prophecies are really about now. In science fiction it’s always about now.” And it’s really more about how people perceive the present, as today’s perceptions determine the actions of tomorrow. Apple TV’s Foundation series resonates because people perceive these trends to be inescapable, and determinative….
Along with the deluge of Marvel delays, Disney has moved the fifth “Indiana Jones” installment back nearly a year. The still-untitled film, starring Harrison Ford as the fedora-wearing, swashbuckling archaeologist, will open on June 30, 2023 instead of July 29, 2022.
…The scheduling overhaul is related to production and not box office returns, according to sources at Disney. The next “Black Panther” entry, for one, is still filming in Atlanta. Since Marvel has become an interconnected and meticulously planned universe — which spans dozens of film and several new television series — any production delay causes a domino effect on the rest of the franchise. As for “Indiana Jones,” the 79-year-old Ford sustained a shoulder injury on set in June, requiring the actor to take a break from filming while he healed. Though director James Mangold continued to shoot without Ford, there are a limited amount of scenes that don’t involve the adventurer. Ford has since recovered and returned to set…
It is not a coincidence that this essay was written after completing a grand personal library project that required alphabetizing and shelving a lot of books. One soon notices that which authors are best represented in one’s library. As far as vintage authors go, these are my top three by shelf-feet.
Poul Anderson (November 25, 1926 — July 31, 2001)
First published in 1947, Anderson’s career spanned seven decades. Although he slowed down towards the end of that period, in the end he was responsible for an astounding number of words and books. This was not an uncommon pattern for authors who started writing in the era of pulp magazines. Authors were paid poor per-word rates and learned to write quickly if they wanted to eat. Anderson was one of few from that era whose material was, well, often quite readable. Anderson combined quantity with range, publishing many works in multiple genres.
… Among the astronauts I’ve interviewed as a cultural anthropologist studying religious aspects of space exploration, most have had some experience of the Overview Effect, but others were unaffected. An astronaut I’ll call “Alan,” for instance, told me, “The first time I looked out at the Earth from space… I even intentionally paused and kind of collected myself and meditated a little bit to kind of clear my head before I opened my eyes and looked out the window for the first time. And I didn’t really feel anything. It’s kind of a letdown. There was nothing. And maybe it’s because I’m not a spiritual person, that’s quite possible…It was a beautiful sight and a unique vantage point, but there was nothing about it that I felt in any way unlocked any kind of philosophical mysteries or spiritual mysteries.”
For others, the experience is life-changing, with the realization of the Earth’s delicacy inspiring environmentalism, such as in the cases of astronauts José Hernández, Scott Kelly, Mary Cleave, and many of their peers. Like them, Shatner clearly experienced the Overview Effect even during his very short suborbital flight above the Kármán line. In his now-famous post-flight conversation with Jeff Bezos, broadcast live and unfiltered, for instance, he described the fragility of the planet, saying, “This air which is keeping us alive is thinner than your skin. It’s a sliver. It’s immeasurably small when you think in terms of the universe. It’s negligible, this air… It’s so thin.”…
The Library’s Citywide reading program, One City One Story, winds up with two librarian-led discussions of our 2021 title, Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler. Borrow the ebook, eaudiobook, or a hard copy from the Library. This Thursday, October 21 at 7PM, join us for the in-person book discussion in the Library Community Room at 1115 El Centro Street. Masks are required.
There will also be a virtual discussion over Zoom on November 10. Register on their Eventbrite page.
NASA has selected a new space telescope proposal that will study the recent history of star birth, star death, and the formation of chemical elements in the Milky Way. The gamma-ray telescope, called the Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI), is expected to launch in 2025 as NASA’s latest small astrophysics mission.
NASA’s Astrophysics Explorers Program received 18 telescope proposals in 2019 and selected four for mission concept studies. After detailed review of these studies by a panel of scientists and engineers, NASA selected COSI to continue into development.
…COSI will study gamma rays from radioactive atoms produced when massive stars exploded to map where chemical elements were formed in the Milky Way. The mission will also probe the mysterious origin of our galaxy’s positrons, also known as antielectrons – subatomic particles that have the same mass as an electron but a positive charge.
COSI’s principal investigator is John Tomsick at the University of California, Berkeley. The mission will cost approximately $145 million, not including launch costs. NASA will select a launch provider later….
Initially the freelance group had a range of demands, but in light of the new union, they have put forward one single new demand instead: to recognize the union.
Tondro’s message begins:
Today I want to shine a spotlight on UPW’s secret weapon: freelancers. Paizo’s freelancers are our ally in this fight and we’re helping each other. Here’s how:
Paizo’s business model is built on freelancers. Very few of the words in our publications are written in-house by full time employees on the clock. Instead, we outline projects, hire freelancers to execute those outlines, and develop and edit those manuscripts.
This allows a relatively small number of people (about 35, including art directors, editors, designers, developers, and more) to produce, well, everything. Have you seen our publication schedule lately? It’s LONG. And Paizo must publish new books to pay its bills.
Well, about a month ago, about 40 of Paizo’s most reliable, prolific, and skilled freelancers simply stopped working. In official parlance, this is called “concerted action.” In layman’s terms, it’s a strike without a union….
…What follows are 15 of the best and most interesting sci-fi podcasts in this reality, representing a wide array of styles and sub-genres: from full-cast productions to stories told by a single narrator, from cyberpunk to adventures with aliens, they’re all the products of talented creators shooting their freaky, whacked-out, forward-looking ideas directly into our brains—via our ears.
Slide 6 praises Twighlight Histories –
There are several neat things going on with Twilight Histories, which is a podcast of alternate history stories, or at least stories with a pseudo-historical context (though a handful involve the future and space travel). It’s not an RPG podcast in the sense of something like The Adventure Zone, but the adventures are all narrated in the second person, which can be alienating at first—though it’s a good fit with the old time radio-style narration. The show’s been going on for quite some time, so there are a wide variety of adventures in various lengths to choose from, from ice-age time travel to a 13-part epic involving a war between Rome and the Saxons. The host, Jordan Harbour, is a trained archaeologist, so expect particular passion and verisimilitude in the historical worldbuilding.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
2004 – Seventeen years on this evening, the first half of Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars as written by Rockne S. O’Bannon and David Kemper and directed by Brian Henson first aired on the Sci-Fi Channel. It was the rare case where a series got a chance to have proper send-off as it had been cancelled two years earlier on a cliffhanger. This finale happened after a change in ownership for the Sci-Fi Channel. It has since been released on DVD with the US version having both segments edited into a single three-hour movie. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a most excellent ninety-two percent rating.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 18, 1927 — George C. Scott. A number of genre roles including his first, General Buck Turgidson, in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Next up is Dr. Jake Terrell in The Day of the Dolphins followed by being The Beast in Beauty and the Beast. He was John Russell in a tasty bit of horror, The Changeling, and John Rainbird in Stephen King’s Firestarter. Of course you know he played Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. And I’m going to include his being in The Murders in the Rue Morgue as C. Auguste Dupin as at least genre adjacent. (Died 1999.)
Born October 18, 1935 — Peter Boyle. The monster in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein. He won an Emmy Award for a guest-starring role on The X-Files episode, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”. He also played Bill Church Sr. in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. One of his final roles was in the “Rosewell” episode of Tripping the Rift. (Died 2006.)
Born October 18, 1938 — Dawn Wells. Mary Ann Summers on Gilligan’s Island which y’all decided several years ago was genre. She and Tina Louise were the last surviving regular cast members from that series as of two years ago, so Tina who is eighty-seven years old is now the last surviving member. Summers had genre one-offs on The Invaders, Wild Wild West, Fantasy Island and Alf. She reprised her role on the animated Gilligan’s Planet and, I kid you not, The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island. I think I’ll shudder at the thought of the last film. (Died 2020.)
Born October 18, 1944 — Katherine Kurtz, 77. Known for the Deryni series which started with Deryni Rising in 1970, and the most recent, The King’s Deryni, the final volume of The Childe Morgan Trilogy, was published several years back. As medieval historical fantasy goes, they’re damn great. Her only Award is a Balrog for her Camber the Heretic novel.
Born October 18, 1947 — Joe Morton, 74. Best remembered as Henry Deacon on Eureka in which he appeared in all but one of the seventy-seven episodes. He has other genre appearances including in Curse of the Pink Panther as Charlie, The Brother from Another Planet as The Brother, Terminator 2: Judgment Day as Dr. Miles Bennett Dyson, The Walking Dead as Sergeant Barkley, and in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Zack Snyder’s Justice League as Silas Stone, head of S.T.A.R. Labs and father of Victor Stone aka Cyborg.
Born October 18, 1951 — Jeff Schalles, 70. Minnesota area fan who’s making the Birthday Honors because he was the camera man for Cats Laughing’s A Long Time Gone: Reunion at Minicon 50 concert DVD. Cats Laughing is a band deep in genre as you can read in the Green Man review here.
Born October 18, 1964 — Charles Stross, 57. I’ve read a lot of him down the years with I think his best being the rejiggered Merchant Princes series especially the recent trilogy ofnovels. Other favored works include the early Laundry Files novels and both of the Halting State novels though the second makes me cringe.
Born October 18, 1968 — Lisa Irene Chappell, 53. New Zealand actress here for making a number of appearances on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys after first appearing in the a pre-series film, Hercules and the Circle of Fire. Curiously, according to IMDB, one of her roles was as Melissa Blake, Robert Tapert’s Assistant. Quite meta that.
… This multiverse business is a convenient way for creators to have their cake and eat it in an entirely different dimension. The workaround surfaces in DC’s Superman, too. Taylor affirmed that the other Kent, the one currently on TV in the CW’s “Superman and Lois,”is still straight. “We can have Jon Kent exploring his identity in the comics as well as Jon Kent learning the secrets of his family on TV,” Taylor said. “They coexist in their own worlds and times, and our fans get to enjoy both simultaneously.” If your company is struggling with the low bar for LGBTQ representation, simply make up a parallel universe in which you clear it.
Whom does this serve? Such technicalities suck the joy out of ostensible breakthroughs for queer fans, and it’s not as though they temper backlash. The Superman news still riled conservatives, whose reaction could be summarized as “It’s Clark Kent, not Clark and Kent!” Traditionalists are invested in Superman and his Superspawn being red-blooded, American heterosexuals, and tinkering with that in any way is a capitulation to the woke mob. My God, what’s next? Will they make him Mexican? Can’t they just have their own heroes?
That last bit, lodged in among all the fearmongering over Supergays and Superbis, is actually a decent point: Why can’t we have completely new LGBTQ characters, and why should we praise DC Comics as brave for a half-measure that, frankly, is long overdue? Why should we keep celebrating the scraps?…
No one’s really sure how the only remaining model spaceship from 2001: A Space Odyssey ended up in an English garden shed. But its journey to the soon-to-open Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, in Los Angeles, is among Hollywood’s more bizarre lost-and-found stories.
Released 53 years ago, in 1968—a year before the Apollo 11 moon landing—2001 was the second-highest-grossing movie of that year, and its influence can be detected everywhere, from Star Wars and Alien to Gravity and Interstellar, along with myriad lesser science-fiction movies. Steven Spielberg, who donated a wing to the Academy Museum, once called 2001 “the Big Bang” of his filmmaking generation.
… Then, in 2015, appearing out of nowhere like the film’s mysterious black monoliths, one turned up at a movie-memorabilia auction: the spherical, white Aries 1B. It got several minutes of screen time floating toward the moon to Johann Strauss II’s “The Blue Danube” waltz, ferrying passengers who were treated to a liquid-meal service by flight attendants walking upside down in grip shoes and Pan Am uniforms (a company which did not make it to the titular year), and eventually touching down with a plume of exhaust….
…Gene Wolfe novels, especially his late novels, have some things in common, elements you expect, tropes and motifs you are hoping for. Unreliable narrator. Check. Mis-identification or confusing identification of characters in various guises. Check. Land with customs that are strange to a stranger in a strange land. Check. A book that you probably have to re-read to really understand what is happening. Check.
There is much here for the reader, as usual. This is Wolfe’s first and only dive into Kafkaesque fiction, and there is a delight in seeing Wolfe try a new subgenre for the first time. He’s done his research, has done the reading, and Grafton’s situation at first does feel like something out of Kafka….
(15) WILL IT BE A HIT? The story of a monkey on a mission. Marvel’s Hit-Monkey premieres November 17 on Hulu. A minor character in the first episode is voiced by George Takei.
(16) EYELASHES TO DIE FOR. [Item by Daniel Dern.] “I Enjoy Being A Girl” sung by Carol Burnett, Chita Rivera, and Caterina Valente all in costume as Morticia Addams, probably from the Sixties-vintage Gary Moore Show. (And, around 4:30, they bring in an older clip of Boris Karloff not-quite-singing “Chim Chim Cheree.”) [From Steve Dooner’s FB page.]
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Nancy Sauer, Michael J. Walsh, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]
(1) SAINT OF STEEL CONTINUES. Oor Wombat has a third Paladin book out today, written in her guise as T. Kingfisher.
Piper is a lich-doctor, a physician who works among the dead, determining causes of death for the city guard’s investigations. It’s a peaceful, if solitary profession…until the day when he’s called to the river to examine the latest in a series of mysterious bodies, mangled by some unknown force.
Galen is a paladin of a dead god, lost to holiness and no longer entirely sane. He has long since given up on any hope of love. But when the two men and a brave gnole constable are drawn into the maze of the mysterious killer, it’s Galen’s job to protect Piper from the traps that await them.
He’s just not sure if he can protect Piper from the most dangerous threat of all…
Here are some early returns from the readers on Twitter:
…Their aspirations were extremely modest initially. “The original concept for this was we would write Leviathan Wakes and sell it for pizza money,” Abraham said.
Franck added, “We didn’t have high expectations for it being a big new title or anything. And that’s what Daniel means by pizza money—you know, you could sell it for a few thousand bucks, and high-five each other, and that’d be the end of it.”
They did have a firm idea of where their story could continue after that first novel, however. “When we sent it out, we wrote one-paragraph outlines of what the next two books would be,” Franck said. “We sent that to the publisher too. And they bought three books based on one complete book and two one-paragraph blurbs. It was when we started writing the second book that we actually sat down and said, ‘Let’s have a good plan for this. Let’s figure this out.’ And that was when we really started to plan out what the longer story would be.”
The plan, inevitably, changed a bit. While the authors once contemplated writing 12 books, they cut out three after realizing their ideas for what would have followed the sixth book, 2016’s Babylon’s Ashes, were just a “boring rehash.” Instead, the seventh book, 2017’s Persepolis Rising, featured a dramatic time jump that allowed the authors to give the solar system time to stabilize after the events of the prior book.
Not much else changed, though. Franck said he had pitched “the last scene and the last line of the last scene” of Levithan Falls to his colleague around 2012.
The Expanse has sold a total of four million copies in North American and has been translated into 21 languages, according to Orbit, its publisher. Interest in the series has continually grown and Levithan Falls has a first printing of 125,000 copies….
… [In 1955] Chaplin had sent for his films and memorabilia to be shipped to Europe.
But Chaplin only kept certain costumes and props. Other props lying around Chaplin Studios were being tossed in the trash. One prop that was about to end up in the garbage can was a rubber wrench that Chaplin used to great effect in the classic film Modern Times.
While working on Superman, Larson saw this cinematic crime about to happen and couldn’t sit still. He begged them to let him have it. They thought he was nuts for asking for this piece of rubber….
(4) TRANSLATING TOLKIEN. The virtual Tolkien Society Autumn Seminar with the theme “Translating and Illustrating Tolkien will take place November 6. It is free, sign up at the link.
Tolkien’s appeal has led to his fiction and non-fiction being translated into over fifty languages. The art of translation is immensely complex and when discussing the Dutch translation of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien himself saw the task as “formidable”, offering his own supportive intervention to achieve a satisfactory result. The author’s invented names and languages prompt the question of how the translator should approach Tolkien’s immense mythology. Recent scholarship has emphasised the need for a wider range of Tolkien’s work to be translated in order for readers to gain a fuller understanding of Arda and the author’s development. But with a wealth of translated texts existing already, this seminar hopes to spark new interpretations about old texts and for unacknowledged translations to be brought to light and examined….
(5) TAFF REPORT AVAILABLE. Anna Raftery’s report of her TAFF trip to MidAmeriCon II (the 74th Worldcon) in 2016, Cuttlefish and Cake, can now be acquired for a donation of £5 at the link. Purchase will give you access to the PDF and MP3 versions of the report. All proceeds will go to TAFF.
…A fascinating paper dives into the SFnal question of “what-if” – specifically if we had been as stupid about the Ozone Layer as we are re climate change. The paper paints a dramatic vision of a scorched planet Earth without the Montreal Protocol, what they call the “World Avoided”. This study draws a new stark link between two major environmental concerns – the hole in the ozone layer and global warming – and how the Montreal Accords seem very likely to have saved us from a ruined Earth.
Going way, way back, the Mother of Modern Gaia Thought – after whom I modeled a major character in Earth – the late Lynn Margulis, has a reprinted riff in The Edge – “Gaia is a Tough Bitch” – offering insights into the kinds of rough negotiations between individuals and between species that must have led to us. Did eukaryotes arise when a large cell tried and failed to eat a bacterium? Or when a bacterium entering a large cell to be a parasite settled down instead to tend our ancestor like a milk cow? The latter seems slightly more likely!
Not long after that, (in galactic years) some eukaryotes joined to form the first animals – sponges – and now there are signs this may have happened 250M years earlier that previously thought, about 890 Mya, before the Earth’s atmosphere was oxygenated and surviving through the Great Glaciation “Snowball Earth” events of the Kirschvink Epoch….
(7) EXPANSE REACHES ITS LIMIT. The Expanse’s sixth and final season arrives December 10 on Amazon Prime.
(8) MEMORY LANE.
2008 – Thirteen years ago this October, G. Willow Wilson’s most excellent Air series would see its first issue on Vertigo, an imprint of DC comics, published. It’s illustrated by Turkish artist M. K. Perker, and it tells the story of Blythe, an acrophobic flight attendant, who gets involved with a terrorist from a country that doesn’t exist. Amelia Earhart and Quetzalcoatl are crucial characters. Reception was sharply divided with folks within our community such as Neil Gaiman and Gail Simone loving it but with mainstream critics pretty much dismissing it for both for the story and the artwork. It would last but twenty four issues before being cancelled due to low sales. It’s not available digitally but is easily had in the four trade paper collections for reasonable prices at online sellers. Oddly enough, it’s not listed on ISFDB even though it’s clearly fantasy, but then neither is her graphic novel Cairo which is also quite excellent. Does ISFDB have a bias against graphic novels?
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 10, 1924 — Ed Wood Jr. Though best remembered for Plan 9 from Outer Space which inexplicably has a sixty-eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, he did a lot of terribly bad genre films including Night of the Monster and Bride of The Ghouls. (Died 1978.)
Born October 10, 1927 — Dana Elcar. Most of you will remember him as Peter Thornton on MacGyver, but he has a long genre history including Russ in Condorman which was inspired by Robert Sheckley’s The Game of X. He also played Sheriff George Paterson in Dark Shadows, and showed up in 2010 as Dimitri Moisevitch. (Died 2005.)
Born October 10, 1929 — Robin Hardy. Wicker Man is the film he’s known for though he followed that up with The Wicker Tree, an adaptation of his Cowboys for Christ novel. Anyone seen it? The Bulldanceis at least genre adjacent. (Died 2016.)
Born October 10, 1931 — Victor Pemberton. Writer of the script for the “Fury from the Deep”, a Second Doctor story in which he created the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. He had appeared as an actor in the series, in a non-speaking role as a scientist in “The Moonbase”, a Second Doctor story. In the Seventies, he wrote the BBC Doctor Who and the Pescatons audio drama which I remember hearing. It was quite excellent. (Died 2007.)
Born October 10, 1941 — Peter Coyote, 70. He actually did two genre films in 1982 with the first being Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann in which he appeared as Porter Reese and the second being E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial which he’s Keys, the Agent hunting E.T. down. (Not so named in the film but in the novelization.) Sphere in which he’s Captain Harold C. Barnes is his next SF outing followed by The 4400 and FlashForward series being his next major genre involvements.
Born October 10, 1966 — Bai Ling, 55. She’s Miss West in that wretched Wild West West and the Mysterious Women in the exemplary Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, she has a major role as Guanyin in The Monkey King which aired on Syfy. Nope, not seen that one. Her last genre role was Zillia in Conjuring: The Book of the Dead, a horror film riffing off Alastair Crowley.
(11) NEVERENDING STORY. Read the first chapter of Douglas Wolk’s All of the Marvels: A Journey to the Ends of the Biggest Story Ever Told at Entertainment Weekly.
The twenty-seven thousand or so superhero comic books that Marvel Comics has published since 1961 are the longest continuous, self-contained work of fiction ever created: over half a million pages to date, and growing. Thousands of writers and artists have contributed to it. Every week, about twenty slim pamphlets of twenty or thirty pages apiece are added to the body of its single enormous story. By design, any of its episodes can build on the events of any that came before it, and they’re all (more or less) consistent with one another….
(12) BEFORE AND BEHIND THE CAMERA. A profile of Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the October 2 Financial Times notes she is involved in two franchises: she co-wrote No Time To Die and is an actor in Indiana Jones 5. (I had to take a three-question survey about underwear brands to get free access to the article – make sure your drawers are in order.) “Phoebe Waller-Bridge: the writer making James Bond ‘a little bit twisted’”.
…The marriage between quirky creativity and mega budgets can be fraught. Waller-Bridge, who stars opposite Harrison Ford in the fifth instalment of Indiana Jones, has been coy about her contributions to the latest Bond film. Those hoping to find Fleabag will be disappointed. The secret agent retains some of his old cheesiness. Yet the central speech by sinister villain Lyutsifer Safin contained a reminder of Waller-Bridge’s protagonist: “I just think I want someone to tell me how to live my life?.?.?. because so far I think I’ve been getting it wrong.”…
… Until this month, this hallucinogenic drug [LSD] was legal everywhere in the USA. On October 6, it became illegal in the state of California. In response to the new law, on the same day thousands of people showed up for a so-called Love Pageant Rally in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. They enjoyed music from local artists, and many took doses of LSD in defiance of the law….
Even if you live in California, you can enjoy a trip deep into your imagination in a perfectly legal manner, simply by opening the latest issue of Worlds of Tomorrow. Fittingly, almost all the fiction takes place in the far reaches of interstellar space….
(14) INSIDE TZ. Marc Scott Zicree is doing full episode commentaries on over 100 Twilight Zone episodes that will supplement those he did for the official disc set. To find out how to buy them, look at Twilight Zone Commentaries.
The official Twilight Zone BluRay set contained 54 full-length detailed, informative, and entertaining commentaries by Marc Scott Zicree. And now, Marc continues where that left off, with commentaries of the remaining 102 Twilight Zone episodes delivered in a convenient app on your phone, tablet, laptop, SmartTV, or other device.
The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov received the 1966 Hugo Award for Best All-Time series, beating out the Lord of the Rings. Foundation is the first book in that trilogy.
Each purchase helps to fund literacy programs and book donations to communities in need.
(16) ASTRO’S COUSINS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Also in the Financial Times, columnist John Gapper, in a column about the Amazon Astro, made a Doctor Who reference that was news to me.
There is a well-known Punch cartoon of some Daleks from Dr Who at the foot of a staircase, cursing that their plans to conquer the universe are ruined. This machine (the Astro) suffers from similar limitations: It can navigate apartments but would be stymied by a two-storey house.
… At Prodigy‘s panel at New York City Comic-Con, the show debuted a minute-long clip from the show’s pilot episode. In it, the hologram introduces herself to the ragtag group of young aliens, announcing she is the Emergency Training Hologram for the USS Protostar. Little does she know that everything is far from routine on this ship.
After making her introductions, Tellurite Jankom Pog (Jason Mantzoukas) criticizes her looks, prompting a snippy response to show that Janeway’s snark made its way into the programming. The crew does no better job after that first impression to show that they have any idea what they’re doing. Shy Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui) doesn’t even know what a Federation is.….
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, John Coxon, Lise Andreasen, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]
During a live stream today, Orbit Books officially announced the title and cover for the final installment of James S.A. Corey’s science fiction series, The Expanse: Leviathan Falls, which will hit stores sometime in 2021 .
…Orbit didn’t release any synopsis for the book, but Abraham and Franck did explain that the novel will provide a definitive ending for the series.
During the live stream, Abraham and Franck answered a handful of reader questions. In addition to Leviathan Falls, they plan to have another novella that’ll come out after that final book, which will provide a “nice grace note” to some hanging threads from the series. Abraham noted that he’s been waiting to write the story for “years.”
Franck explained that they don’t plan to write any novels in the world, but that Alcon could always put together another Expanse-related project for television.
(2) RSR UPDATE. Rocket Stack Rank’s Greg Hullender announced today in “Taking a Break” that he’ll be on hiatus as a short fiction reviewer —
After five years of writing reviews for Rocket Stack Rank, I’m going to take an indefinite break. This month marks five years since we started the site, and so it seemed like a good time to pause.
Eric Wong says he will continue to update RSR with monthly lists of stories that readers can flag and rate and find reviews for, as well as aggregate recommendations from various sources (currently 6 reviewers, 16 awards, 7 year’s best anthologies) for the Year-To-Date and Year’s Best lists.
Five years ago, in September 2015, Eric and I started Rocket Stack Rank as a response to the Sad/Rabid Puppy episode that ruined the 2015 Hugo Awards. As we said at the time, we wanted “to create a website to encourage readers of science fiction and fantasy to read and nominate more short fiction.”
The response was very positive, and we’ve enjoyed steady support from readers. We quickly ramped up to a few thousand unique monthly users, with 20-30,000 monthly page views (we recently passed 1,000,000 total page views), and we’re currently the #1 Google result for “short science fiction story reviews.” Best of all, we were finalists for the Hugo Award for Best Fanzine three times (2017, 2018, 2019). Thank you for supporting us!
(3) ANOTHER VIEW OF ROWLING’S CONTROVERSIAL LATEST. Alison Flood, in “JK Rowling’s Troubled Blood: don’t judge a book by a single review” in The Guardian, says she’s read Rowling’s Troubled Blood and although there are parts she says are “tone-deaf” that she doesn’t consider the novel “transphobic” since the cross-dressing character is not the main villain and is not described as trans or even a transvestite.
…Perhaps some will still consider this depiction transphobic, given Rowling’s rightly widely criticised views on trans people. It is, at best, an utterly tone-deaf decision to include an evil man who cross-dresses after months of pain among trans people and their allies. But there is also reason to be wary of any moral outrage stoked by the Telegraph, a paper that generally doesn’t shy away from publishing jeering at the “woke crowd”, or claims that children are “put at risk by transgender books”, or attacks on “the trans lobby”. And we should also be wary of how one review has been reproduced without question by countless newspapers and websites, by journalists who have shown no indication of having read the book themselves.
…The McFadden-fronted podcast will be the first one from the Nacelle Company and serves as a stepping stone for its NacelleCast Studios, the company’s neighboring podcast studio in Burbank. The new podcast studio will serve as the main production space for all NacelleCast productions.
The Nacelle Company has created a number of pop history-focused titles including Netflix’s The Movies That Made Us, The Toys That Made Us and the CW’s Discontinued. Branching into the podcast space is a step in the company’s efforts to broaden its reach of pop history-focused content.
Anil Menon is joining Gadi as co-host for a one-hour discussion on science fiction and change, bringing along friends and colleagues Christopher Brown, Claude Lalumière, Geoff Ryman, Nisi Shawl, and Vandana Singh. This Saturday, 19 September.
Arguably, science fiction has had a focus on working out the consequences of a change (what-if scenarios) rather than how a certain change comes to be. This seems to be especially true in the case of social or political change. The distinguished panelists will discuss the possibilities and limitations of (science) fiction for representing a changing world.
(6) GENUINE PIXEL NEWS. Plans for a Japanese adaptation of The Door Into Summer were unveiled on Twitter. Thread starts here.
(7) UNDERTALE CONCERT. Beginning at the 45-minute mark in this YouTube video, you can listen to the full orchestral concert that was staged for the 5th anniversary of the video game Undertale.
This is probably why many folks who watched the concert last night absolutely got in their feelings about the game. The top comment on the YouTube video says, “I cried like twice through the whole thing.” I saw the same sentiment unfold across my Twitter timeline, where folks reminisced on the game’s highlights and what it meant to them when they played it. It was a total mood shift from the general depressing and terrifying tenor of the year. Undertale is, at its heart, an optimistic game about friendship and love.
…How would we know such organisms might exist? Many chemical compounds that simple microbes produce are also made by non-biological processes. But one, phosphine or PH3, is difficult to produce on Earth abiotically (without life) and, as argued by Seager and her colleagues in another paper, could be a good “biosignature” or sign of life on planets around other stars. This isn’t always the case: The compound is found in the dense hydrogen-rich atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn, where it is understood to be an abiotic product of simple chemistry, and will likely be found on gas giants around other stars using the James Webb Space Telescope, planned for launch next year. But Venus — which has an atmosphere in which hydrogen is extremely scarce — is a place where phosphine is a plausible biosignature.
The detection of sufficient quantities of phosphine in Venus’s atmosphere would be an intriguing pointer to the possibility of life in the sulfuric-acid clouds of our sister planet, but many questions would remain. Is it possible that planetary chemists have overlooked ways to produce phosphine on Venus in the absence of life? And if phosphine is produced by biology, where did that life originate? It is one thing to imagine life adapting to and hanging out opportunistically in the clouds of Venus. It is quite another to imagine that life could have originated there, sandwiched between the hell of the surface and the frozen realms of the thin upper atmosphere….
(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
September 1995 — Twenty five years ago this month at Intersection, Lois McMaster Bujold’s Mirror Dance won the Hugo for Best Novel. Other finalists were John Barnes’ Mother of Storms, Nancy Kress‘s Beggars and Choosers, Michael Bishop‘s Brittle Innings and James Morrow’s Towing Jehovah. It would be the third Hugo winner of the Vorkosigan saga, and Bujold’s third Hugo award-winning novel in a row. It’s the direct sequel to Brothers in Arms. The Vorkosigan saga would win the Best Series Hugo at Worldcon 75. (CE)
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 16, 1898 — Hans Augusto Rey. German-born American illustrator and author best remembered for the beloved Curious George children’s book series that he and his wife Margret Rey created from 1939 to 1966. (An Eighties series of five-minute short cartoons starring him was produced by Alan Shalleck, along with Rey. Ken Sobol, scriptwriter of Fantastic Voyage, was the scriptwriter here.) His interest in astronomy led to him drawing star maps which are still use in such publications as Donald H. Menzel’s A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets. A simpler version for children called Find the Constellations, is still in print as well. (Died 1977.) (CE)
Born September 16, 1917 – Art Widner. Pioneer in earliest days, he left for a few decades to teach school, beget children, other mundane matters, then returned, resuming his fanzine YHOS (“Your Humble Obedient Servant”, pronounced ee-hoss though I said it should rhyme with dose), the Eo-Neo. See here. Here is his cover for the Mar 40 Spaceways. On his board game Interplanetary see here. DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegate. Big Heart (our highest service award). First Fandom Hall of Fame. YHOS first took my note on The Glass Bead Game. As of his passing he may have been Oldest of All; rooming with him at a few cons, I promised not to call him “Woody” (see Mary Sperling in Methuselah’s Children). Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here. (Died 2015) [JH]
Born September 16, 1916 — Mary, Lady Stewart (born Mary Florence Elinor Rainbow, lovely name that). Yes, you know her better as just Mary Stewart. Genre wise, she’s probably best known for her Merlin series which walks along the boundary between the historical novel and fantasy. Explicitly fantasy is her children’s novel A Walk in Wolf Wood: A Tale of Fantasy and Magic. (Died 2014.) (CE)
Born September 16, 1930 — Anne Francis. You’ll remember her best as Altaira “Alta” Morbius on Forbidden Planet. She also appeared twice in The Twilight Zone (“The After Hours” and “Jess-Belle”). She also appeared in multiple episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. She’d even appear twice in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and played several roles on Fantasy Island as well. (Died 2011.) (CE)
Born September 16, 1932 — Peter Falk. His best remembered role genre is in The Princess Bride as the Grandfather who narrates the Story. The person who replaced him in the full cast reading of The Princess Bride for the Wisconsin Democratic Party fundraiser, Director Rob Reiner, wasn’t nearly as good as he was in that role. He also plays Ramos Clemente in “The Mirror”, an episode of The Twilight Zone. And he’s Reverend Theo Kerr in the 2001 version of The Lost World. (Died 2011.) (CE)
Born September 16, 1932 – Karen Anderson. Fan and pro herself, wife of another, mother of a third, mother-in-law of a fourth. While still Karen Kruse she was WSFA (Washington, DC, SF Ass’n) secretary and joined SAPS (Spectator Amateur Press Society) and The Cult. Marrying Poul Anderson she moved to the San Francisco Bay area, bore Astrid, and thus was mother by marriage to Greg Bear. Stellar quality also in filk, costuming, and our neighbor the Society for Creative Anachronism. At an SF con party a few decades ago I arrived in English Regency clothes having just taught Regency dancing; she sang “How much is that Dukie in the window?” See here; appreciation by OGH here. (Died 2018) [JH]
Born September 16, 1938 – Owen Hannifen, 82. How he found the LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Soc.; “LASFS” pronounced as if rhyming with a Spanish-English hybrid “mas fuss”, unless you were Len Moffatt, who rhymed it with “sass mass” and had earned the right to do it his way) minutes, then and now known as The Menace of the LASFS, I’ve never learned; with a good Secretary – Jack Harness, Mike Glyer, John DeChancie – they’ve been swell; anyway they lured OH to L.A. (from Vermont?), where he roomed with Harness and others in a series of apartments, the Labyrinth, Labyrinth 3, Labyrinth of Valeron, Labyrinth DuQuesne (see here). He was in N’APA, OMPA, SAPS, and The Cult. Dungeons & Dragons was fire-new then; he and his wife Hilda (also “Eclaré”) did that. They moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, Sampo Productions (named for the magic sampo in “Why the Sea Is Salt”), and incidentally the SCA. [JH]
Born September 16, 1948 – Julia Donaldson, C.B.E., 72. Author, playwright, performer; almost two hundred books. Famous for The Gruffalo. Half a dozen stories of Princess Mirror-Belle. Busked in America, England, France, Italy. Bristol Street Theatre, British Broadcasting Corp., Edinburgh Book Festival. Honorary doctorates from Univ. Bristol, Univ. Glasgow. Children’s Laureate of the United Kingdom 2011-2013. Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Website here. [JH]
Born September 16, 1952 — Lisa Tuttle, 68. Tuttle won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, received a Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “The Bone Flute”, which she refused, and a BSFA Award for Short Fiction for “In Translation”. My favorite works by her include Catwitch, The Silver Bough and her Ghosts and Other Loverscollection. Her latest novel is The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross. (CE)
Born September 16, 1960 – Kurt Busiek, 60. Writer for Dark Horse, DC, Dynamite, Eclipse, Harris, Image, Marvel, Topps. Known particularly for Astro City, Marvels, the Thunderbolts. Nine Eisners, six Harveys; two Comics Buyer’s Guide Awards for Favorite Writer. Here he’s interviewed about Conan. Alex Ross put KB and wife Ann into Marvels 3 reacting to the arrival of the Silver Surfer and Galactus. I’ll leave out Page 33. What jewels these Filers be. [JH]
Born September 16, 1960 — Mike Mignola, 60. The Hellboy stories, of course, are definitely worth reading, particularly the early ones. His Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is an amazing What-If story which isn’t at all the same as the animated film of that name which is superb on its own footing, and the B.P.R.D. stories are quite excellent too. I’m very fond of the first Hellboy film, not so much of the second, though the animated films are excellent. (CE)
Born September 6, 1982 – María Zaragoza, 38. Three short stories for us; novels, poetry, film scripts, graphic novels. Post-human, anthology of Spanish SF authors. Atheneum of Valladolid Award, Young Atheneum of Seville Novel Prize. Part of Fernando Marías Amando’s storytelling collective “Children of Mary Shelley”; of “The Cabin” collective of mutant artists (painters, poets, writers, sculptors, photographers), Ciudad Real. [JH]
(10b) BELATED BIRTHDAY. Worldcon 76 chair Kevin Roche turned 60 on September 15 — we wish him a cake-full of candles for the occasion!
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Thatababy calls it a “new Mary Worth” storyline. Daniel Dern says, “I had to convince myself I hadn’t dreamed it.”
Lio discovers what happens when horror movies take over your yard.
(12) CLAREMONT ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL. Marvel Comics will honor the extraordinary career of writer Chris Claremont in December with the Chris Claremont Anniversary Special.
For the past 50 years, Claremont has graced the Marvel Universe with his brilliant storytelling—creating and defining some of its most iconic heroes and building the framework for one of its most treasured franchises.
In the Chris Claremont Anniversary Special, the acclaimed writer returns to the world of the X-Men with a brand-new story. Dani Moonstar is drafted for a mission across time and space for an incredible psychic showdown against the Shadow King—joining forces with other characters created and defined by the pen of Chris Claremont! In this extra-sized milestone issue, Claremont will team up with a host of iconic artists including Brett Booth and reunite with his classic New Mutants collaborator, Bill Sienkiewicz.
…Chris Claremont’s influential run on X-Men changed the comic book landscape forever. As the architect behind the epic tapestry that makes up the world of mutants, Claremont’s contributions went far beyond the creation of characters but to the very themes, concepts, and allegories that are ingrained in the X-Men today. Claremont’s work catapulted the X-Men into unprecedented success with now classic stories such as Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past as well as series like New Mutants and Wolverine’s first solo series. In addition to his groundbreaking work on X-Men titles, Claremont also had memorable runs on books such as Ms. Marvel and Fantastic Four.
Just before “Fargo” returned to production in August, Noah Hawley — the writer who somehow adapted an eccentric and beloved Coen brothers film into one of the most decorated television series of the past decade — sent a letter to the show’s cast and crew. He wrote about the importance of safety. He wrote about mutual responsibility. He wrote about Tom Cruise.
“Someday in the not too distant future Tom Cruise will go to space,” the message began. “He will bring a film crew with him. He will bring a director and actors. They will shoot a film. Now space, as we know, is an airless vacuum where nothing can live. A hostile void where a suit breach or airlock malfunction can kill, where even the simplest tasks must be done methodically, deliberately. Astronauts train for years to prepare. They drill protocols and procedures into their heads. They know that surviving in space will require their full concentration. Now imagine doing all that AND making a movie.”
The “Fargo” crew is rather more earthbound, but Hawley likened its experience to that of Cruise, who is indeed planning a trip to the International Space Station to shoot an action movie. (It was reported in May that he will do this with the help, of course, of Elon Musk.) But before Tom Cruise ascends into space, the cast and crew of “Fargo” are gathering in Chicago to film the final two episodes of the show’s fourth season in a 13-day stretch — five months after being forced to break camp by the coronavirus pandemic.
You may not have realized it, but sitting atop one of the highest points in the San Gabriel mountains, looming 5,700 feet over L.A., is arguably one of the world’s most important spots for scientific discovery: the Mount Wilson Observatory.
The 114-year-old site is covered in equipment that not only helped mankind discover the universe and cement Southern California as an astronomy hub, but still connects normal people to wonders beyond our own world.
Worryingly, the Bobcat Fire is charging right for it. Only 500 feet away as of Tuesday afternoon.
Descanso Gardens has announced a month-long fall exhibit for those of you who get really into decorative gourd season. “Halloween at Descanso” is a socially distant, “pumpkin-filled extravaganza” that takes place October 1-31.
The exhibit is suitable for all ages, so don’t worry about this Halloween event being too scary. Instead, expect a winding hay maze, a house built entirely out of pumpkins, a pumpkin arch that leads to a forest filled with pumpkin-headed scarecrows, and colorful pumpkin mandalas. The pathways that lead to the Hilltop Gardens, the Japanese Garden, and the main promenade will feature hand-carved jack-o-lantern boxes.
(16) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter says tonight’s Jeopardy! contestants struck out on this one.
Category: Summarizing the novel.
Answer: Utopia (not); I ain’t goin’ nowhere; the butler did it (in 1872).
Margie went into the schoolroom…and the mechanical teacher was on and waiting for her,’ the passage (from Asimov) read, ‘The screen was lit up, and it said, ‘Today’s arithmetic lesson is on the addition of proper fractions. Please insert yesterday’s homework in the proper slot.’ Margie did so with a sigh.”
These days, Bradley–who teaches middle school in Fairfax County Public Schools–feels a lot like the ‘mechanical teacher.’ He spends ever morning huddled ina spare room in his Northern Virginia home staring at his computer screen. The monitor is filled with small rectangles: Each one depicts an anonymous, identical silhouette.
From his home in Cape Canaveral, Air Force pilot Alex Layendecker explained how he had been drawn to the study of sex and reproduction in space. “I had been immersed in the space environment in the Air Force, assigned to launch duty, and was simultaneously pursuing an M.A. in public health, and then at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, and I was looking for a dissertation topic,” he recalled. “I decided that sex and reproduction in space had not received the attention they deserved—if we’re serious about discussions of colonization, having babies in microgravity—on Mars or other outposts of the Earth, then more needs to be learned.” His general recommendation was that because of the squeamishness of NASA to study sex in space, a private nonprofit organization, or Astrosexological Research Institute, should be founded for this research critical to human settlement of outer space.
What were the prospects for space-based sex lives? Layendecker’s study of the literature yielded both good and bad news. Sex should be possible, even lively, but reproduction, critical for space colonization, could entail severe health consequences…
(20) BE SEATED. In Two Chairs Talking Episode 36 – “Marrying the genre next door” — Perry Middlemiss and David Grigg talk about novels which blur the boundaries between genres: literary novels with strong elements of fantasy or science fiction. Call them “genre adjacent” fiction. And David interviews Matthew Hughes, author of the historical fiction novel “What the Wind Brings.”
(21) SHARP, POINTY. The final trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s Antlers has dropped.
A small-town Oregon teacher and her brother, the local sheriff, become entwined with a young student harboring a dangerous secret with frightening consequences.
[Thanks to Darrah Chavey, Daniel Dern, N., John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Gadi Evron, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]
(1) MIYAZAKI EXHIBIT WILL KEYNOTE ACADEMY MUSEUM OPENING. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles announced the work of Hayao Miyazaki will feature in its inaugural temporary exhibition when the museum opens to the public on April 30, 2021. It will be the first North American museum retrospective dedicated to the acclaimed artist and his work.
With more than 300 objects, the exhibition will explore each of Miyazaki’s animated feature films, including My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and the Academy Award®-winning Spirited Away (2001). Visitors will travel through the filmmaker’s six-decade career through a dynamic presentation of original imageboards, character designs, storyboards, layouts, backgrounds, posters, and cels, including pieces on public view outside of Japan for the first time, as well as large-scale projections of film clips and immersive environments.
From there, visitors move into the Creating Worlds gallery, a space that evokes Miyazaki’s fantastical worlds. The gallery will capture the contrast between beautiful, natural, and peaceful environments and the industrial settings dominated by labor and technology that are also often featured in Miyazaki’s movies. Visitors can view concept sketches and backgrounds that offer insight into Miyazaki’s imagination, including an original imageboard from his first Ghibli film Castle in the Sky (1986) and artworks from subsequent Ghibli features. Other areas explore Miyazaki’s fascination with complex vertical structures, such as the famous bathhouse in Spirited Away, and the underwater world of Ponyo (2008), as well as Miyazaki’s interest in flying, as seen in Porco Rosso (1992) and The Wind Rises (2013). As a highlight of the exhibition, visitors can enjoy a moment of quiet contemplation in the Sky View installation, addressing another frequent motif in Miyazaki’s films: the desire to slow down, reflect, and dream.
Next, the Transformations gallery affords visitors the opportunity to explore the astonishing metamorphoses often experienced by both characters and settings in Miyazaki’s films. In Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), for example, the protagonists go through physical transformations that reflect their emotional states, while in other films, such as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Miyazaki creates mysterious and imaginative ways to visualize the changes that humans impose on the natural world.
Visitors then enter the exhibition’s final gallery Magical Forest through its Mother Tree installation. Standing at the threshold between dream and reality, colossal, mystical trees in many of Miyazaki’s films represent a connection or gateway to another world. After passing through the installation, visitors encounter the spirits of the forest, such as the playful Kodama from Princess Mononoke, through an array of storyboards and mixed media. Visitors exit through another transitional corridor, which guides them from the imaginative worlds of Hayao Miyazaki back into the museum.
(2) ATTEND A VIRTUAL ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THE EXPANSE. Register here for the opportunity to hear news about the ninth and final book in the Expanse series on Wednesday at 11 AM PDT/2 PM EDT. Authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck will be answering questions following the announcement.
(3) NEW HONOR FOR ATWOOD. Margaret Atwood has won the Dayton literary peace prize reports The Guardian.
Margaret Atwood, whose sweeping body of work includes The Handmaid’s Tale, a depiction of a nightmarish totalitarian future for the US, has won a lifetime achievement award that celebrates literature’s power to foster peace, social justice and global understanding.
The Canadian writer will receive the Richard C Holbrooke distinguished achievement award, officials of the Dayton literary peace prize officials announced on Monday. The award is named for the late American diplomat who brokered the 1995 Bosnian peace accords reached in the Ohio city.
Atwood, a prolific writer of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, essays and comic books , has in recent years drawn a new round of acclaim for her bestselling 1985 novel of a dystopian future in which women are subjugated after a theocratic group overthrow the US government. The television adaptation, starring Elisabeth Moss, saw the book return to bestseller lists around the world, while some readers saw similarities to the leadership of authoritarian Gilead in the rise of US president Donald Trump…
(4) SLF STILL TAKING GULLIVER GRANT APPLICATIONS. The Speculative Literature Foundation is taking submissions for the Gulliver Travel Research Grant until September 30. Full guidelines on the website.
The SLF Gulliver Travel grants are awarded annually, since 2004, to assist writers of speculative literature (in fiction, poetry, drama, or creative nonfiction) in their research. They are not currently available for academic research, though we hope to offer such funds in the future. We are currently offering one $1000 travel grant annually, to be used to cover airfare, lodging, and/or other travel expenses.
This episode, I was able to totally fulfill the mandate of this podcast, and lose myself in a meal as I sat across a table face to face with a creator. That’s because I’ve known this guest for 46 years plus a few months — and have been in constant conversation with her for almost all of that time. She’s been a part of comics and science fiction fandom several years longer than I have, and worked in comics longer than I did, too. When I started at Marvel Comics on June 24, 1974, she’d ready been there for a couple of months. She has many fascinating things to say about her time in comics — and her decades working in the romance field as well.
I’m of course talking about my wife — Irene Vartanoff — or as she was dubbed by Stan Lee — “Impish” Irene Vartanoff. Her novel Hollywood Superheroine — the final book in her comics-inspired Temporary Superheroine trilogy — was recently published, so this is the perfect time to have a chat about it all.
We discussed how she’d never have gotten into comics if not for her father’s cigar habit, what made a comic book reader become a comic book fan become a comic book professional, the “heartbreaking” advice given to her by Julie Schwartz during her teen visit to DC Comics, why her reputation as a famed letterhack meant she didn’t face the same sexism as other women in comics, what it was like working for Roy Thomas at Marvel and Paul Levitz at DC (and why she respected them both), how critiquing romance manuscripts for 25 years was like being at Marvel all over again, the secret origins of her Temporary Superheroine character, how politics changed Hollywood Superheroine, the final novel in her trilogy, why pantsing works better for her than plotting, the reason she decided to go the indie publishing route, and much more.
(6) LE GUIN DISCOVERY. Sean Joyce-Farley finds worlds of meaning in Ursula LeGuin’s revision to a passage The Left Hand of Darkness, as explained in a post for Library of America, “Are You There Ursula? It’s Me, Sean”.
Knight Library lies tucked into the west side of the University of Oregon campus, just by the cemetery: a dark four-story brick building. Inside, sunlight falls into the Paulson Reading Room through the tall windows at my back. Rigged up in a mask, I look like a harbinger of things to come—but it’s the fall of 2019, and I just have a dust allergy.
There are no pens in the Special Collections, and no water. UO students periodically approach the desk only to learn that they need to take a different staircase to get to the other second floor, which is somehow not connected to this second floor. I take in camera, laptop, notebook, pencil. Grey boxes with my name on them—literally, stuck on in post-its—neatly line the shelf behind the librarian’s desk. The first box is number 77; inside, folders three to five house the handwritten manuscript of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969). I lift up the lid, and let the light in….
(7) GOT THAT RIGHT. “It’s Not Easy Being a BookTuber” on WIRED is an introduction to an episode of WIRED’s “Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy” podcast which has an interview with Daniel Greene, who makes his living reviewing sf and fantasy books on YouTube. Greene discusses how he gets 20-30 requests from self-published authors to plug their books and how he has to keep reviewing bestsellers to satisfy YouTube’s algorithms.
Daniel Greene makes a full-time living off his YouTube channel, discussing fantasy authors such as Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, and Jim Butcher. Talking about your favorite books all day might sound like a dream come true, but Greene says that building a successful channel is harder than people think.
“For a few years I was doing a video every day of the week, seven days a week, which was insane, while also being a software engineer,” Greene says in Episode 431 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “I’m a workaholic.”
(8) MORE SAND. MovieWeb alerted readers to a French-langauge variant of last week’s Dune trailer with some additional shots.
While the majority of the Dune trailer is the same as the one that debuted a few days ago, this version is slightly shorter and has been restructured. The trailer is in French but, while you may not have much idea what they’re saying, there are a few new shots included, giving us a further look at the likes of Gurney Halleck, played by Josh Brolin, who is seen preparing for battle, as well as a little more of Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides enduring the excruciating pain of the Gom Jabbar Test.
(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
September 2000 — Twenty years ago this month, the online magazine Strange Horizons posted its first issue. It does short stories, poetry and reviews, essays, interviews, and other material as tickles its fancy. It was founded by writer and editor Mary Anne Mohanraj. Susan Marie Groppi who took over in 2004, won the World Fantasy Special Award: Non-Professional in 2010 for her work as the Editor-in-Chief. Other editors have followed; the current one is Vanessa Rose Phin. Several of the stories first published here have been nominated for Hugos, Sofia Samatar’s “Selkie Stories Are for Losers” and Benjamin Rosenbaum‘s “The House Beyond Your Sky”. It was a finalist for the Best Website Hugo Award in two years, and for the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine every year from 2013 through 2020. You can find it here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 14, 1927 – Martin Caidin. His Cyborg was the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. Thirty novels for us, half a dozen nonfiction books about rockets and Space travel; eighty fiction and nonfiction books all told, a thousand magazine articles; an authority on aviation and aerospace. Restored to full airworthiness a 1936 Junkers Ju 52, toured extensively with her. Flew with the Thunderbirds demonstration squadron (U.S. Air Force), honorary member of the Golden Knights parachute demonstration team (Army). Twice won Aviation/Space Writers Ass’n Award for outstanding aviation author. (Died 1997) [JH]
Born September 14, 1931 – Ivan Klíma, 89. Kafka Prize and Magnesia Litera award. A Childhood in Terezin (in German, Theresienstadt; WW II holding ground for deportation to death camps e.g. Auschwitz; few survived) about his own experience. Biography of Karel Capek (software won’t allow the diacritical mark over the C showing it’s pronounced like ch in English church) translated into English, also memoir My Crazy Century. Penguin Classics ed’n of R.U.R. has his introduction. Three dozen other books. [JH]
Born September 14, 1932 — Joyce Taylor, 88. She first shows as Princess Antillia in Atlantis, the Lost Continent. Later genre appearances were The Man from U.N.C.LE., the first English language Beauty and the Beast film, the horror film Twice-Told Tales and the Men into Space SF series. (CE)
Born September 14, 1936 — Walter Koenig, 83. Best known for his roles as Pavel Chekov in the original Trek franchise and Alfred Bester (named in homage of that author and a certain novel) on Babylon 5. Moontrap, a SF film with him and Bruce Campbell, would garner a 28% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and InAlienable which he executive produced, wrote and acts in has no rating there. (CE)
Born September 14, 1941 — Bruce Hyde. Patterns emerge in doing these Birthdays. One of these patterns is that original Trek had a lot of secondary performers who had really short acting careers. He certainly did. He portrayed Lt. Kevin Riley in two episodes, “The Naked Time” and “The Conscience of the King” and the rest of his acting career consisted of eight appearances, four of them on as Dr. Jeff Brenner. He acted for less than two years in ‘65 and ‘66, before returning to acting thirty-four years later to be in The Confession of Lee Harvey Oswald which is his final role. (Died 2015.) (CE)
Born September 14, 1948 – Elizabeth Winthrop, 72. Five dozen books, mostly children’s fiction. Fisher Award (after Dorothy Canfield Fisher; adults choose master list, children vote) for The Castle in the Attic; it and two more ours. Jane Addams Peace Prize for Counting on Grace. Sarah Lawrence alumna. Website here. [JH]
Born September 14, 1961 — Justin Richards, 60. Clute at ESF says “Richards is fast and competent.” Well I can certainly say he’s fast as he’s turned out thirty-five Doctor Who novels which Clute thinks are for the YA market between 1994 and 2016. There’s another nineteen novels written there. And he had other series going as well including being one of the main scriptwriters for the Jago & Litefoot Big Finish series, the characters being spin-offs from the Fourth Doctor story, “The Talons of Wang Chiang”. And then there’s the Doctor Who non-fiction which runs to over a half dozen works. (CE)
Born September 14, 1962 – Leigh Cunningham, 58. Lawyer with three Master’s degrees. Her Being Anti-Social (2013) a Best Indie Book. Two novels for us. Ranks Nineteen Eighty-four above The Sound and the Fury. [JH]
Born September 14, 1964 – Lorie Ann Grover, 56. Firstborn for us (Kirkus starred review); verse novels; board books; The Magic Cup with Howard Behar former president of Starbucks. Illustrations: “I’m putting these up for fabbity publisher types to see my samples…. copyright…. Just ask me if you’d like to share them.” [JH]
Born September 14, 1972 — Jenny T. Colgan, 48. Prolific writer of short stories in the Whovian universe with a baker’s dozen to date with several centered on River Song. She novelized “The Christmas Invasion”, the first full Tenth Doctor story. She has two genre novels, Resistance Is Futile and Spandex and the City. (CE)
Born September 14, 1989 — Jessica Brown Findlay, 31. She appeared as Beverly Penn in the film version of Mark Helprin‘s Winter’s Tale novel. She’s Lorelei in Victor Frankenstein, a modern take on that novel, and plays Lenina Crowne in the current Brave New World series on Peacock. Finally I’ll note she was Abi Khan on Black Mirrior’s “Fifteen Million Merits“ episode. (CE)
Born September 14, 1986 – Rick Griffin, 44. Co-authored, and illustrates, the Hayven Celestia universe, where the admirable geroo and various others suffer under the wicked krakun. Recently Tales of Hayven Celestia (in Gre7g Luterman’s name, the 7 is silent). Four more covers. [JH]
Astronomers have found a potential sign of life high in the atmosphere of neighboring Venus: hints there may be bizarre microbes living in the sulfuric acid-laden clouds of the hothouse planet.
Two telescopes in Hawaii and Chile spotted in the thick Venusian clouds the chemical signature of phosphine, a noxious gas that on Earth is only associated with life, according to a study in Monday’s journal Nature Astronomy.
Several outside experts — and the study authors themselves — agreed this is tantalizing but said it is far from the first proof of life on another planet. They said it doesn’t satisfy the “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” standard established by the late Carl Sagan, who speculated about the possibility of life in the clouds of Venus in 1967.
“It’s not a smoking gun,” said study co-author David Clements, an Imperial College of London astrophysicist. “It’s not even gunshot residue on the hands of your prime suspect, but there is a distinct whiff of cordite in the air which may be suggesting something.”
Venus is so inconsiderate. It presents itself as a sister world, one that would seem at first glance to be very Earth-like, but… on closer examination it’s utterly hostile to life as we know it. Surface conditions would be extremely challenging for terrestrial life, what with the toxic atmosphere, crushing pressures, and blast-furnace-like temperatures.
That’s at the surface, however. Just fifty kilometers above the surface, there is a region with terrestrial pressures and temperatures, a veritable garden of Eden where an unprotected human would not be almost immediately incinerated but instead would expire painfully (in just a few minutes) due to the lack of free oxygen and the prevalence of toxic gases….
(14) STAR WARS MUSICS HELPS CELEBRATE MILESTONE. [Item by David Doering.] Nice to see the Tabernacle Choir chose Star Wars to celebrate their 110 years of recordings:
Legendary film composer John Williams wrote the music for each of the nine Star Wars saga films, spanning more than forty years from 1977 to 2019. For Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), Williams composed “Duel of the Fates” for orchestra and chorus, accompanying a climactic lightsaber duel. The words are a fragment of an ancient Welsh poem that Williams had translated into Sanskrit—he then rearranged the syllables himself to make the text essentially meaningless, while still retaining a forceful chant-like power. He intended the choral singing itself to give the scene an explicitly religious feel, as if it were a ceremony of some kind. “Duel of the Fates” went on to become a defining musical feature of the prequel trilogy, a symbol of the saga’s broad focus on the cosmic struggle between darkness and light.
The choir music was also used to demonstrate the first stereophonic recording made back in 1940.
Oh, and BTW, while the media proudly announced that Vinyl records outsold CDs for the first time, this is on revenues, not on units. LPs are still quite a bit more expensive than CDs.
…The Texas Supreme Court on Saturday, Sept. 5, rejected a Republican attempt to remove 44 Libertarians from the November ballot, according to the Texas Tribune.
Groups affiliated with both major parties have gone to court in recent weeks to remove from the ballot non-major-party candidates perceived to be a threat. In general, Libertarians are believed to peel votes away from Republicans, while the Green Party is thought to siphon votes from Democrats.
The GOP sued because the Libertarians didn’t pay their filing fees. But the state Supreme Court said Republicans missed the deadline to kick them off the ballot.
Antonelli, running in the 4th District, is one of the candidates the Republicans sought to block.
He’s trying to get Republican nominee Pat Fallon to join him in a public forum or debate, meantime trying to score off Fallon for not living in the district he wants to represent.
… Fallon lives in the Denton county portion of Prosper, an outer suburb of Dallas, which is just outside the 4th’s boundaries.
Even Wikipedia, the largest and most popular general reference work on the World Wide Web, notes Fallon’s position: “Fallon’s state senate district includes much of the eastern portion of the congressional district.”
However, regarding the 4th Congressional District, Wikipedia continues: “While candidates for the House are only required to live in the state they wish to represent, longstanding convention holds that they live either in or reasonably close to the district they wish to represent.”
The Libertarian Party candidate in the election, Antonelli said “A number of candidates who lost to Fallon in the district convention seem to feel his victory was due to arm-twisting by himself and Senator Ted Cruz, and they resent it and have told me so,”
“The residency requirement for the U.S. House is in the Constitution, so Fallon has done nothing illegal,” said Antonelli. “But Texas deserves congressional leaders who do better than just skirt the law.”
Antonelli is doing his best to leave no stone unthrown.
While stuck inside during quarantine this past spring, designer Anifa Mvuemba began playing around with 3-D technology. Soon, an idea struck: What if she held a virtual fashion show in which her feminine, curve-friendly designs glided along on invisible models? She’d been working on her line Hanifa for eight years but had never held a runway show — maybe it was time.
On May 22, she premiered the collection, called Pink Label Congo, on Instagram Live. The digital runway show featured ghostlike 3-D figures strutting sinuously down the runway in the collection.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Using Cuts as a Visual Effect” on Vimeo, David F. Sandberg explains how cutting can be just as effective a way to produce special effects as more expensive CGI. WARNING: Many scenes from gory horror movies.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Contrarius, James Davis Nicoll, Scott Edelman, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, JJ, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]
TL;DR: Here’s what I thought of the 2019 Novellas. What did you think?
I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading:
31 of the novellas published in 2015,
35 of the novellas published in 2016,
46 of the novellas published in 2017,
and 38 of the 2018 novellas.
(and this year I was waiting for access to a few novellas, so I was reading others, and thus my final total crept up to 55!)
I really felt as though this enabled me to do Hugo nominations for the Novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.
The success and popularity of novellas in the last 5 years seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. By necessity, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis being of interest to me.
It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.
Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low.
Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). What’s more, I apparently had a defective childhood, and do not share a lot of peoples’ appreciation for fairytale retellings and portal fantasies. My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.
Novellas I’ve read appear in order based on how much I liked them (best to least), followed by the novellas I haven’t read in alphabetical order.
I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included.
Please feel free to post comments about any other 2019 novellas which you’ve read, as well. And if I’ve missed your comment about a novella, or an excerpt for a novella, please point me to it!
(1) WELCOME WAGON. SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal responded
to the Romance
Writers of America meltdown by tweeting, “As president of SFWA, please
accept my invitation to consider our organization if you feel your work has a
kinship with SFF, even a tenuous tie.” Thread starts here.
This Cele Lalli discovery, just 24 years old, garnered three Galactic Stars this year.
He narrowly beats out Harry Harrison (and Harrison might have been on top, but he came out with clunkers as well as masterpieces this year).
And bless the Journey staff for recognizing newzines in
this category —
Starspinkle gave up the ghost last month, though it has a lookalike sequel, Ratatosk. They were/are both nice little gossip biweeklies.
(3) CLASSIC IRISH FANWRITING. The Willis
Papers by Walt Willis is the latest free download produced by David
Langford in hopes of inspiring donations to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund.
A collection covering the first decade (and a bit) of Walt Willis’s fanzine writing, from his 1948 debut in Slant to 1959, edited by George W. Field and published by Ted Johnstone in August 1961. As well as twenty-two classic Willis articles, there are Prefaces by both editor and publisher, while Vin¢ Clarke and John Berry provide not entirely serious tributes to the great man.
The text of The Willis Papers was long ago transcribed into HTML by Judy Bemis for Fanac.org, and this Ansible Editions ebook is gratefully based on that version. The cover photograph of Walt Willis at the 1957 London Worldcon was taken by Peter West. (From the Ethel Lindsay photo archive, courtesy of Rob Hansen.) Ebook released on 25 December 2019. 31,500 words.
Walt Willis was born in October 1919, and his centenary in 2019 has been little remarked in science fiction fandom.
…Publishers inside and outside China say the release of American books has come to a virtual standstill, cutting them off from a big market of voracious readers.
“American writers and scholars are very important in every sector,” said Sophie Lin, an editor at a private publishing company in Beijing. “It has had a tremendous impact on us and on the industry.” After new titles failed to gain approval, she said, her company stopped editing and translating about a dozen pending books to cut costs.
The Chinese book world is cautiously optimistic that the partial trade truce reached this month between Beijing and Washington will break the logjam, according to book editors and others in the publishing industry who spoke to The New York Times.
… Still, publishing industry insiders describe a near freeze of regulatory approvals, one that could make the publishing industry reluctant to buy the rights to sell American books in China.
“Chinese publishers will definitely change their focus,” said Andy Liu, an editor at a Beijing publishing company, adding that the United States was one of China’s most frequent and profitable sources of books.
“Publishing American books is now a risky business,” he said. “It’s shaking the very premise of trying to introduce foreign books” as a business.
While China is known for its censorship, it is also a huge market for books, including international ones. It has become the world’s second-largest publishing market after the United States, according to the International Publishers Association, as an increasingly educated and affluent country looks for something engrossing to curl up with.
This time around, you get to take a seat at the table with Bob Proehl, who published his first novel in in 2016. A Hundred Thousand Worlds is about the star of a cult sci-fi TV show and her nine-year-old son making a cross-country road trip with many stops at comic book conventions along the way, and was named a Booklist best book of the year.
His latest novel, The Nobody People, about the emergence of super-powered beings who’ve been living among us, came out earlier this year…
We slipped away to Sabatino’s Italian restaurant …where we chatted over orders of veal parmigiana and eggplant parmigiana. (I’ll leave it to you to guess which of us was the carnivore, though I suspect that if you’re a regular listener, you’ll already know.)
We discussed how it really all began for him with poetry, the way giving a non-comics reader Watchmen for their first comic is like giving a non-novel reader Ulysses as their first novel, why discovering Sandman was a lifesaver, the reason the Flying Burrito Brothers 1968 debut album The Gilded Palace of Sin matters so much to him, why he had a case of Imposter Syndrome over his first book and how he survived it, the reasons he’s so offended by The Big Bang Theory, what he meant when he said “I actually like boring books,” his love for The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the X-Men, whether it’s hard to get a beer in New York at six o’clock in the morning, why he wasn’t disappointed in the Lost finale, and much more.
…Of course the tweet is simply just that a tweet, and doesn’t mean anything will come it. However, Chu is a hot name in the industry after directing the 2018 hit Crazy Rich Asians, he would be a fantastic choice to develop a Rose Tico series. Chu is currently working on the film adaptation of In The Heights based on the hit broadway musical, and will return to direct China Rich Girlfriend.
You also mentioned that your time at New Worlds was an exciting one as it provided you with the possibility to read the manuscripts of Ballard’s stories even before they were printed. What’s interesting to me is that, while writers like Aldiss or Moorcock, who loved SF and fantasy genre and helped revitalize it (although Aldiss later disowned his participation in the new wave “movement”), Ballard seemed to quickly abandon the genre (except, maybe, for Hello America).
I think it took Ballard a long time to “abandon” the genre, if he can be said to have done that, and that the process began much earlier than people admit. From the beginning his relationship to science fiction was modified by his personality, his needs as a writer, and his many cultural influences outside SF. So from the outset of his career he was working his way towards the idiopathic manner we associate with short stories like “The Terminal Beach” and novels like The Drought and The Atrocity Exhibition. It was not so much an “abandonment” as a steady evolutionary process. This happens with writers. They develop.
Today, based on a suggestion from reader Stephen R., we take a look at the time that Clark Kent had to help Kurt Vonnegut finish a novel!
The story appeared in 1974’s Superman #274 by Gerry Conway, Curt Swan and Vince Colletta, where Clark Kent and Kurt Vonnegut are both on a talk show together…
The “Wade Halibut” name is a reference to Vonnegut’s famous fictional writer, Kilgore Trout, who appeared in many of Vonnegut’s classic works, like Breakfast of Champions and Slaughterhouse Five…
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 27, 1904 –J. M. Barrie’s play Peter Pan premiered in London.
December 27, 1951 — Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere premiered on film screens. It was directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Wallace A. Grissel with a script by Royal G. Cole, Sherman I. Lowe and Joseph F. Poland. Judd Holdren, in what was only his second starring screen role, plays Captain Video, the leader of a group of crime-fighters known as the Video Rangers. This fifteen-part movie serial is unusual as it’s based off a tv series, Captain Video and His Video Rangers. Like most similar series, critical reviews are scant and there is no rating at Rotten Tomatoes. It was popular enough that it aired repeatedly until the early Sixties. There’s a few episodes up on YouTube – here’s one.
December 27, 1995 — Timemaster premiered on this date. It was directed by James Glickenhaus and starred his son Jesse Cameron-Glickenhaus, Pat Morita and Duncan Regehr. It also features Michelle Williams in one of her first film roles, something she now calls one of the worst experiences of her acting career. The film got universally negative, if not actively hostile, reviews and has a 0% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 27, 1888 — Thea von Harbou. She penned the novel Metropolis based upon her uncredited screenplay of that film for husband Fritz Lang. She also collaborated with him on other projects, none of which save her 1922 Phantom screenplay appear to be genre. (Died 1954.)
Born December 27, 1917 — Ken Slater. In 1947, while serving in the British Army, he started Operation Fantast, a network of fans which had eight hundred members around the world by the early Fifties though it folded a few years later. Through Operation Fantast, he was a major importer of American SFF books and magazines into the U.K. – an undertaking which he continued, after it ceased to exist, through his company Fantast up to the time of his passing. He was a founding member of the British Science Fiction Association in 1958. (Died 2008.)
Born December 27, 1938 — Jean Hale, 81. If you’ve watched Sixties genre television, you’ve likely seen her as she showed up on My Favorite Martian, In Like Flint (at least genre adjacent), Alfred Hitchcock Presents, My Brother the Angel, Wild Wild West, Batman and Tarzan.
Born December 27, 1948 — Gerard Depardieu, 71. He’s in Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet which we all agree (I think we agree) is genre. He plays Obélix in the French film Asterix & Obélix and Asterix at the Olympic Games: Mission Cleopatra and is Cardinal Mazarin in La Femme Musketeer.
Born December 27, 1951 — Robbie Bourget, 68. She started out as an Ottawa area fan, where she became involved in a local Who club and the OSFS before moving to LA and becoming deeply involved in LASFS. She was a key member of many a Worldcon and Who convention over the years (she was the co-DUFF winner with Marty Cantor for Aussiecon) before she moved to London in the late Nineties.
Born December 27, 1951 — Charles Band, 68. ExploItation film maker who’s here because some of his source material is SFF in origin. Arena was scripted off the Fredric Brown “Arena” short story which first ran in the June 1944 Astounding, and From Beyond which was based on H P Lovecraft’s short story of the same name, first published in June 1934 issue of The Fantasy Fan.
Born December 27, 1960 — Maryam d’Abo, 59. She’s best known as Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights. Her first genre role was her screen debut in the very low-budget SF horror film Xtro, an Alien rip-off. She was Ta’Ra in Something Is Out There, a miniseries that was well received and but got piss poor ratings. Did you know there was a live Mowgli: The New Adventures of the Jungle Book? I didn’t. She was Elaine Bendel, a recurring role in it.
Born December 27, 1969 — Sarah Jane Vowell, 50. She’s a author, journalist, essayist, historian, podcaster, social commentator and actress. Impressive, but she gets Birthday Honors for being the voice of Violet Parr in the Incredibles franchise. I say franchise as I’ve no doubt that a third film is already bring scripted.
Born December 27, 1977 — Sinead Keenan, 42. She’s in the Eleventh Doctor story “The End of Time” as Addams, but her full face make-up guarantees that you won’t recognize her. If you want to see her, she’s a Who fan in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Her final Who work is a Big Finish audio drama, Iterations of I, a Fifth Doctor story. And she played Nina Pickering, a werewolf, in Being Human for quite a long time.
Born December 27, 1987 — Lily Cole, 32. Been awhile since I found a Who performer and so let’s have another now. She played The Siren in the Eleventh Doctor story, “The Curse of The Black Spot”. She’s also in some obscure film called Star Wars: The Last Jedi as a character named Lovey. And she shows up in the important role of Valentina in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Not mention she’s in Snow White and The Huntsman as Greta, a great film indeed.
Born December 27, 1995 — Timothée Chalamet, 24. First SF role was as the young Tom Cooper in the well received Interstellar. To date, his only other genre role has been as Zac in One & Two but I’m strongly intrigued that he’s set to play Paul Atreides In Director Denis Villeneuve forthcoming Dune. Villeneuve is doing it as a set of films instead of just one film which will either work well or terribly go wrong.
This week, Richard sits down with duo Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, who write science fiction together under the name James SA Corey. Their bestselling space-opera series, The Expanse, which started in 2012 and is due to end in 2021, is set in the middle of the 24th century, when humanity has colonised the solar system. Human society is now beyond race and gender, and is instead divided on a planetary level: those living on Earth, on Mars and on various asteroids, moons and space stations called Belters.
The eighth book in the series, Tiamat’s Wrath, is the latest, while the fourth season of the award-winning TV adaptation [is] on Amazon Prime on 13 December.
And Claire, Richard and Sian discuss the 20 books up for the 2019 Costa awards shortlists.
Vinyl album sales hit yet another record week in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music.
In the week ending Dec. 19, the data tracking firm reports 973,000 vinyl albums were sold in the U.S. — marking the single biggest week for vinyl album sales since the company began electronically tracking music sales in 1991.
…Another incident happened that same day at the Magic Kingdom, the world’s busiest theme park.
It started innocently when a 36-year-old Disney employee who portrays Minnie Mouse posed for pictures with a man and his wife from Minnesota in the park’s circus-themed meet-and-greet area.
Afterward, Minnie Mouse gave the man a hug. Then without saying a word, he groped her chest three times, according to the sheriff’s incident report.
The employee alerted her supervisors. On Dec. 6, she identified pictures of the 61-year-old man from Brewster, Minn.
She decided against pressing charges.
It wasn’t the first time the man had done something wrong at Disney World on his trip.
The man also had “an inappropriate interaction with a cast member” Dec. 5 at the Magic Kingdom, according to the sheriff’s office incident report that didn’t provide any additional details on what happened. Disney declined to elaborate.
(15) RAPPED GIFT.Bad Lip Reading dropped a bizarre “A Bad Lip Reading of The Last Jedi”
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Hampus Eckerman, Mike Kennedy,
Andrew Porter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat
Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit
belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]
By Daniel Dern: Although my bedside pile includes
Dozois’ The Very Best of the Best: 35
Years of Year’s Best Science Fiction — which I’ve started, and already, and
one story in (“The Potter of Bones,” by Eleanor Arnason), feels like I’ve
already enjoyed a great read… I put it
aside to settle in with Tiamat’s Wrath, the latest (eighth) and, a
friend tells me, penultimate book in James S. A. Corey (Daniel Abraham and Ty
Franck)’s Expanse series.
was worth waiting for, it was worth reading. We re-encounter some old friends,
we meet some new characters. Explosions large and small! Rockets/space ships
large and small!
with the previous volumes, while the book is continuing the long arc of the
series, the plot starts or picks up threads, and brings them to satisfactory
conclusions by the end.
love the Expanse books for several
They’re written like the authors live there. The prose is crisp and to the point,
with enough info-bits and micro recaps to help newcomers as well as those of us
who might have lost track of who’s who and what’s what (and in some cases who’s
what and what’s who), without bogging down the flow.
Each chapter, rather than having a title, is titled with its PoV character, so
(I) don’t have to waste a few seconds sussing out who’s talking or otherwise
being our lens into the action. (Having wrestled with a few non-Expanse books over the years that don’t
do this, I seriously appreciate this; it’s not hard for the author (or
editorial team) to do, and, with some possible exceptions where sussing out
who’s “talking” is part of the way the book works, it keeps me more
easily engaged. And, as a friend points out, it provides easy “stop
points” for setting the book aside to go do stuff.
pacing of the prose, particularly in this volume, is exquisite. This is especially
clear in the end-of-chapter last paragraphs or three.
Respect for gravity, mass, inertia, fuel limits, and speed of light in terms of
orbits, zooming through space, and communication. (With a few acknowledged and
contextually legitimate exceptions.) This isn’t unique to The Expanse but it’s always nice to see being respect both by the
plot and the characters.
Tiamat’s Wrath will, IMHO, be much more
satisfying (and make more sense) if you’ve read the previous books. Since I
have read ’em all (although not yet all – currently — five of the shorter Expanse pieces), I can’t tell you whether it
makes enough sense without having first read v’s 1-7. But it’s definitely more
satisfying, just like watching Game of
Thrones, West Wing, The Magicians, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, G.L.O.W., Sports
Night or The Newsroom.
you’ve read and enjoyed the previous books, you’ll be happy. If you haven’t yet
dipped an eyeball into The Expanse,
perhaps this will convince you to give them a try. If you have already decided
these aren’t your cup of appertained beverage, fair ’nuff.
“Tiamat” does not, as best I can tell, appear or even get mentioned anywhere
except in the title. Or maybe I missed that paragraph. But the same friend from
comments above notes that this is the case for the previous seven books, which
my memory won’t let me challenge.
And then we wait for the big one..
closing unrelated question: What would happen if Corey (re)wrote Lord of the Rings? Would we see more
women, particularly fighting? Would the Eagles get fitted with weapons, etc.?
Would any of the battles go differently?
Did we do something to piss you off? Because to tell you the truth, your attacks on our books seemed kind of personal.
In 2011, we came out with a science-fiction novel called Leviathan Wakes that featured a big plotline on the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt. In particular, we imagined a hard, nickel-iron Ceres with a population of millions thirsty for water harvested from the rings of Saturn. We did pretty well with the story; it got a Hugo nomination, and the publisher bought some follow-ups.
Four years later, we were launching a television show based on the book, starring the embattled crew of an ice hauler trying to keep Ceres Station hydrated. That was 2015—the same time you became the first spacecraft to orbit a dwarf planet. And as we gathered in the writer’s room and on set, what did you tell us? Ceres has water. Lots of it. Not only that, you found large deposits of sodium carbonate on Ceres’s surface, which doesn’t sound that impressive until you realize it’s evidence of ice volcanoes. Seriously. Ice volcanoes….
(2) WHAT NEEDS TO BE IN THE
DEAL. SF author Ramez Naam (Nexus series) is a “futurologist” as well, and he just wrote
an excellent extended tweet about the Green New Deal and how it might be better.
Thread begins here.
in the early 2000s, Bezos started quietly acquiring hundreds of thousands of acres in West Texas, where Blue Origin now launches its New Shepard rocket. He purchased the land under corporate entities named for explorers. Thee was Joliet Holdings and Cabot Enterprises, the James Cook and William Clark Limited Partnerships and Coronado Ventures.
All were linked to a firm with a Seattle post office called Zefram LLC, namedafter Zefram Cochrane, a character in the Star Trek franchise.
HIM A RAPID RECOVERY. Apex
Magazine Editor-in-Chief Jason Sizemore wrote about the burdensome and
painful health problems he’s been coping with in his
…One of the diagnostics for stroke the doctor ran on me at the emergency room was a CT scan. He said, “Good news, I’m confident you are not having a stroke. But … some bad news, your scan shows a sizable lesion on the front of your mandible.“
I love fantasy and I love science-fiction (though, sci-fi a little more than fantasy). And I think it’s really interesting when authors sort of combine the two–mixing sci-fi and fantasy (and ends up just being labeled under fantasy, typically).
But this leads to the creation of the fun, intermediate genre (at least, that’s what it is in my mind), fantasci. The intersection of science-fiction and fantasy where it’s not magic, but it’s not science either….
A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna
This book is so darn underappreciated, and it deserves ALL the love! I was sucked into the story and had such a hard time stopping, and then the ending completely wrecked me.
Like . . . is it legal to inflict these types of emotions upon me? Idk, but this book had me CRYING late at night as I read a bout [redacted]. And it’s a sort of space fantasy that’s based on Indian mythology and has me swooning.
Gosh. My heart still hurts and I need the sequel ASAP. If this book isn’t on your TBR, you’re doing something wrong because it is AMAZING and the ending is so horrible (for my heart) but so worth it.
It all started with a phone call from a fan in New York way back in 1984. Then it took three years of bidding to win the race in Brighton in 1987. Another three long years to make ConFiction1990 a fact in The Hague, the first true World Science Fiction Convention on the continent of Europe. We are still creating a website and social media avenues to preserve the past for the future and… to promote our intended Reunicon 2020 to commemorate 30 years after ConFiction 1990. We look forward hearing from you or seeing you in 2020 in The Hague.
Is that the ship intercom, or the self-destruct button? You better read up on your engineering schematics before sitting in a captain’s chair, or your tenure will be shorter than Spock’s patience for illogical behavior.
Quantum Mechanix has created an extremely detailed FX replica of the most important part of the original USS Enterprise: the captain’s chair. This 1/6 scale replica doesn’t just look good – it also lights up and makes sounds. Powered by either three AA batteries or a mini-USB plug (not included), this captain’s chair replica has four different light and sound settings including: standard bridge operations, ship-wide announcement, viewscreen scanning, and of course, red alert.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 9, 1863 – Anthony Hope. He is remembered predominantly for only two books: The Prisoner of Zenda and its sequel Rupert of Hentzau. Well so says Wiki but I never heard of the latter novel. Any of you heard of It? The Prisoner of Zenda was filmed in 1936 with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in the lead role. (Died 1933.)
Born February 9, 1877 – George Allan England. His short story, “The Thing from—’Outside'”, which had originally appeared in Gernsback’s Science and Invention, was reprinted in the first issue of the first SF magazine, Amazing Stories, in April 1926. Unfortunately, his later Darkness and Dawn trilogy is marked by overt racism as later critics note. (Died 1936.)
Born February 9, 1928 – Frank Frazetta. Artist whose illustrations showed up damn near everywhere from LP covers to book covers and posters. Among the covers he were Tarzan and the Lost Empire, Conan the Adventurer (L. Sprague de Camp stories in that setting) and Tarzan at the Earth’s Core. He did over-muscled barbarians very well! Oh and he also helped Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder on three stories of the bawdy parody strip Little Annie Fanny in Playboy. Just saying. In the early 1980s, Frazetta worked with Bakshi on the feature Fire and Ice. He provided the poster for it as he did for Mad Monster Party and The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck, two other genre films. He was inducted into both Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame. (Died 2010.)
Born February 9, 1953 – Ciaran Hinds, 66. I can’t picture him but he’s listed as being King Lot in Excalibur, that being being his credited his genre role. He next shows up in Mary Reilly, a riff off the Hyde theme, as Sir Danvers Care. I’ve next got him in Jason and the Argonauts as King Aeson followed by being in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life as Jonathan Reiss. (Yes I like those films.) before being replaced in the next film, he played Aberforth Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. Two final roles worth noting. he played The Devil in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Steppenwolf In Justice League.
Born February 9, 1956 – Timothy Truman, 63. Writer and artist best known in my opinion for his work on Grimjack (with John Ostrander), Scout, and the reinvention of Jonah Hex with Joe R. Lansdale. His work with Ostrander is simply stellar and is collected in Grimjack Omnibus, Volume 1 and 2. For the Hex work, I’d say Jonah Hex: Shadows West which collects their work together. He did do a lot of other work and I’m sure you’ll point out what I’ve overlooked…
Born February 9, 1981 – Tom Hiddleston, 38. Loki in the Marvel film universe. And a more charming bastard of a god has never been conceptualised by screenwriters. Outside of the MCU, I see he shows up in Kong: Skull Island as Captain James Conrad and The Pirate Fairy as the voice of James Hook as well in a vampire film called Only Lovers Left Alive as Adam.
In the world of Brewster Rockit, some newspaper columns are very easy to write.
The Hollywood Reporter: The Spider-Verse soundtrack had a few hits, including Post Malone and Swae Lee’s “Sunflower.” Have you pitched yourself to do a track for the Spider-Verse sequel?
Shameik Moore: They were asking me to make a song for Spider-Man before any of the songs on the soundtrack were even being considered. The only reason I am not on the soundtrack is because I couldn’t quite come up with a song myself to write from Miles’ point of view. So next time, hopefully. The music that I’ve been making is for me. It’s not really for Spider-Man. It’s for who I am. My music is a bit edgier.
(12) THE GREAT SKY ROAD. Andrew Porter sent screenshots of some flights of fancy seen on the February 4 episode of Antiques Roadshow.
…What did you expect, or want, to see here that isn’t?
Joe: The first thing I specifically looked for was Matt Wallace’s final Sin du Jour novella Taste of Wrath. I’m not entirely surprised it didn’t make the list simply because I’m not sure it’s received a fraction of the attention and love that the series deserved. I passionately and sometimes aggressively love those stories and it has been a perpetual disappointment to me that they haven’t been nominated for everything they are eligible for and even for some things they aren’t. I’m holding out for a Best Series Hugo nod, but maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath.
The second thing i looked for, and this was mostly out of curiosity, was whether anything from Serial Box made the cut. Nothing did. Because I’m that sort of wonk, I did a super quick check of previous years and the first season Tremontaine made the list. I’m not surprised by that either, because Tremontaine is an expansion of the Swordspoint world and I would expect to see Locus recognize Ellen Kushner. I do wonder if next year we’ll see recognition for The Vela or Ninth Step Station. Both seem like something that might get some extra attention, eyeballs, and acclaim.
A remote Russian region has declared a state of emergency over the appearance of dozens of polar bears in its human settlements, local officials say.
Authorities in the Novaya Zemlya islands, home to a few thousand people, said there were cases of bears attacking people and entering residential and public buildings.
Polar bears are affected by climate change and are increasingly forced on to land to look for food.
Russia classes them as endangered.
Hunting the bears is banned, and the federal environment agency has refused to issue licences to shoot them.
(15) SLIP-AH-DEE-DOO-DAH. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] 2017? No way. 2018? Um, negatory. January 2019? Nope.
February? Nope, nope, nope. March? Well, maybe. SpaceX has announced another
slip (albeit a modest one) in the schedule for the first (un-crewed) launch of
the to-be-crewed version of the Dragon capsule (ExtremeTech: “SpaceX Pushes Crewed Dragon Test Back to
March 2”). Boeing is aiming for April for Starliner—their competing
capsule—to have its first launch.
NASA kicked off the Commercial Crew Development Program in 2010 to support the development of new crewed spacecraft. Here we are, almost a decade into the program and on the verge of a manned launch. It’s taken a long time to get here, and it may be a little longer still. SpaceX has announced yet another delay in its Dragon 2 test flight, which was supposed to take place this month.
The precise date has slipped numerous times, and this is after ample delays in earlier phases of the program. We’re in the home stretch now, so each change in the schedule is that much more frustrating. SpaceX initially wanted to conduct the first test launch of its crewed Dragon capsule in 2017. Then the timeline slipped to 2018, and then it was late 2018. More recently, SpaceX promised a January 2019 launch… and then it decided February was more likely. You can probably blame the government shutdown for that one. Now, we’re looking at March 2, according to SpaceX.
(16) ROLE PLAYING. Last
summer Simon Pegg talked about characters he’s played – including one that was
a bit autobiographical.
Simon Pegg breaks down his favorite and most iconic characters, including Tim from “Spaced,” Shaun from “Shaun of the Dead,” Nicholas Angel from “Hot Fuzz,” Gary King from “The World’s End,” Scotty in “Star Trek,” Unkar Plutt in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and Benji Dunn in the “Mission: Impossible” movies.
(17) CAN A BOT BE AN
INK-STAINED WRETCH? [Item by Mike
Kennedy.] This story has a personal edge for me
as I encounter robot-written stories quite often when using MaxPreps to
catch up on various high school sporting events. (Though, those particular
stories are obvoiusly written by an Artificial Stupidity.) Forbes, which has dipped a toe in AI journalism itself,
takes a look at the growing phenomenon (“Did A Robot Write This? How AI Is
How do you know I am really a human writing this article and not a robot? Several major publications are picking up machine learning tools for content. So, what does artificial intelligence mean for the future of journalists?
According to Matt Carlson, author of “The Robotic Reporter”, the algorithm converts data into narrative news text in real-time.
Many of these being financially focused news stories since the data is calculated and released frequently. Which is why should be no surprise that Bloomberg news is one of the first adaptors of this automated content. Their program, Cyborg, churned out thousands of articles last year that took financial reports and turned them into news stories like a business reporter.
Forbes also uses an AI took called Bertie to assist in providing reporters with first drafts and templates for news stories.
A pair of small satellites that joined the InSight mission on its way to Mars haven’t been heard from in over a month—but the experimental mission is still an important success for NASA.
Mars Cube One, or MarCO, consisted of two 30-pound satellites named WALL-E and EVE. The relatively inexpensive satellites were the first time that CubeSats had entered the space between planets. The mission could foretell a future of spacecraft bringing more CubeSats with them in the future.
[…] NASA lost contact with WALL-E on December 29 and with EVE on January 4. It’s possible that the probes’ antennae aren’t pointed at Earth properly, or that their solar panels aren’t pointed at the Sun and their batteries died, according to the press release.
(19) I CAN HELP. A
little bit of sibling rivalry in Washington state:
JJ, John King Tarpinian, Greg Hullender, Cat Eldridge, Alan Baumler, Chip
Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Ingvar.]
Amazon Studios is in talks to revive one of CEO Jeff Bezos’ favorite properties.
The retailer and streaming outlet is near a deal to revive space drama The Expanse for a fourth season just 10 days after Syfy canceled the series. Amazon Studios declined comment as sources note the deal is not closed.
Starring Steven Strait and based on James S.A. Comedy’s [sic] best-selling book series of the same name, Syfy had only first-run linear rights in the U.S. to The Expanse. Amazon Studios had streaming rights to the first three seasons of the show. Sources say Bezos is a big fan of the book and was livid that the TV series went to NBCUniversal-owned Syfy. The move is said to have ignited Bezos’ demand that Amazon Studios brass find the company’s version of Game of Thrones.
(2) FLYNN STROKE. Author Michael Flynn is hospitalized. His daughter made the announcement on Facebook:
Hi. This is Mike’s daughter. He will be absent from the internet for a few days, as he has had a pontine stroke and is in the hospital. After that, he’ll be going to rehab for a few days. He’s doing very well, all things considered. He’s eating a sandwich right now and has previously cracked some ill-advised “dad jokes” with the doctors and nurses.
Pontine stroke is a type of stroke that happens when the blood flow in the brain stem is disrupted. The stroke is caused by decrease blood supply to brain stem. The blood flow is restricted to brain stem because of either rupture of blood vessels causing bleeding (hemorrhagic stroke) or obstruction of blood flow because of blood clot within the artery resulting in obstruction of blood supply (ischemic stroke).
(3) SUPPORT FOR ANTIHARASSMENT POLICIES. The Utah-based Rock Canyon Writers group of YA authors calls on writers to sign their “Conference Harassment Pledge”.
It has become increasingly clear that we must face the problems of sexual harassment and other kinds of harassment (racial, disability, sexual/gender identity, religion, nationalism, and more) that are happening within our own children’s literature community. We acknowledge that this is a systemic problem, and that systems of power are very difficult to change. They are also difficult
to see, but we must start to see the ways in which we are all implicated in looking away from uncomfortable talk about those we have once looked up to within the community. We cannot change this problem until we see it and face it
plainly. We must start thinking differently, intervening more quickly, believing victims more easily, and allowing excuses less readily. We cannot allow harassers to continue to act freely and without consequence, nor can we allow victims to be ignored, revictimized, or minimized. Nor can we continue a “whisper network” of knowledge that only helps those who are “in the know.”
… We plead with writers to cosign this document and to pledge NOT to attend conferences where there is no policy in place or where stated policies have not been followed through on.
Many people have grown accustomed to talking to their smart devices, asking them to read a text, play a song or set an alarm. But someone else might be secretly talking to them, too.
Over the last two years, researchers in China and the United States have begun demonstrating that they can send hidden commands that are undetectable to the human ear to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. Inside university labs, the researchers have been able to secretly activate the artificial intelligence systems on smartphones and smart speakers, making them dial phone numbers or open websites. In the wrong hands, the technology could be used to unlock doors, wire money or buy stuff online — simply with music playing over the radio.
A group of students from University of California, Berkeley, and Georgetown University showed in 2016 that they could hide commands in white noise played over loudspeakers and through YouTube videos to get smart devices to turn on airplane mode or open a website.
This month, some of those Berkeley researchers published a research paper that went further, saying they could embed commands directly into recordings of music or spoken text. So while a human listener hears someone talking or an orchestra playing, Amazon’s Echo speaker might hear an instruction to add something to your shopping list.
Of course you knew that when you installed Alexa, Siri, or Google’s Assistant in your home, you were installing a spy. You just trusted that Amazon, Apple, or Google would use your information for good, or at least would not actively harm you.
And now, in Episode 67, it’s time to experience—the Nebula Awards Donut Jamboree!
That’s right—it’s time for another lightning-round episode of Eating the Fantastic as 15 guests devour a tasty dozen—this time from Pittsburgh’s Just Good Donuts— while recounting their favorite Nebula Awards memories.
During the Nebula Awards weekend which ended yesterday, I sat near registration with a dozen donuts and a sign offering a free one to any who’d come on the show to chat about their memories of this annual event, and waited to see what would happen.
Which is how I ended up listening as Michael Swanwick explained how his love of Isaac Asimov impelled him to walk out on guest speaker Newt Gingrich, David D. Levine remembered catching the penultimate Space Shuttle launch, Daryl Gregory recalled the compliment which caused him to get yelled at by Harlan Ellison, Barry Goldblatt revealed what cabdrivers do when they find out he’s an agent, Cat Rambo put in a pitch for SFFWA membership, Fran Wilde confessed a moment of squee which was also a moment of ooops, Steven H. Silver shared how he caused Anne McCaffrey to receive a Pern threadfall, Annalee Flower Horne told of the time John Hodgman stood up for her onstage during the awards banquet, and much, much more!
(6) COMICS SECTION.
Lise Andreasen says Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal’s “Responsible” makes it clear: “We’re doomed.”
If the San Diego Comic Convention vs Salt Lake Comic Con jury trial was the Empire Strikes Back, this marks Act I of Return of the Jedi. Dan Farr Productions has filed a motion for a new trial, which will likely lead to our appeal with the U.S. Court Of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
American artist Nathan Sawaya’s captivates crowds around the world with his life-size sculptures of DC Comics’ most famous characters, building them with Lego bricks. His latest exhibition features over 100 sculptures, with some taking as long as two or three weeks to make. Besides patience, they require a lot of Lego. His recreation of the Batmobile is 18 feet long and uses around half a million bricks.
Sawaya was originally working as a corporate lawyer when he decided to turn to Lego as his creative outlet. “Some people go to the gym or go running at the end of the day; for me, I needed to create something,” he explained in a recent interview. Now he owns an art studio in Los Angeles housing over 7 million bricks.
There are, I think, a few basic safety rules which, if consistently ignored, will almost always provide would-be adventurers with sufficient diversion to create an exciting plot.
Rule number one: do not engage in archaeology. Do not fund archaeology. Above all, do not free that which has been carefully entombed. In most SF and fantasy settings, there were good reasons for entombment…and they still hold.
Indiana Jones did not manage to keep the Nazis from grabbing the Ark of the Covenant. No, the Ark protected itself. As you can see…
When it comes to the nitty, gritty details, life in antiquity was pretty stinky – in a literal sense. Without high food and personal hygienic standards, most people probably contracted an intestinal worm at some point or another, says veterinary scientist Martin Søe. “I think it’s fair to say it was very, very common. In places with low hygienic standards, you still have a lot of whipworm and round worm.”
That also means lots of parasitic eggs dumped into latrines through the years. In a scientist like Søe’s eyes, that’s a historical record of what people ate and what ailed their guts. So he and his colleagues at the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University began exhuming ancient excrement from toilets of yore to reconstruct snapshots of food and health in bygone centuries.
Known as starburst galaxies, the objects are extremely bright as they are forming stars at a high rate – up to 1,000 times as fast as the Milky Way.
Professor Caitlin Casey, who was not involved in the study, described the findings as “extremely unusual.”
“We often get excited when we find just two galaxies like this grouped together, because each one is already quite unusual and rare compared to ‘normal galaxies’, forming stars several hundreds or thousands of times faster than the Milky Way. To find fourteen such starbursts all grouped together is unheard of,” the University of Texas at Austin researcher commented.
ThinkGeek has the perfect salve for every Trekkies effort to resist the workplace grind. An official 6-inch bust of Jean-Luc Picard in his notorious, glorious facepalm pose.
There are so many moments in life where a glance toward Picard would be just what you need to take the edge off life’s less than stellar moments.
But, here’s the bad news. It’s a limited edition. Only 1602 people will be able to get their hands on this official merchandise.
…At US$64.99 it’s a little more than joke gift territory, but ThinkGeek has limited the bust to two per customer, so they know this thing will sell out fast.
Make it so. Before it’s too late.
(13) SING ME A SONG. Rev. Bob broke out a filk to wide applause in today’s comments:
The File 770 Rag
It’s file o’clock on a Caturday
My mailbox just sounded a chime
Mike’s news for fans is awaiting me
Today’s Pixel Scroll’s here right on time!
There’s a dozen or two short news items there
Plus a couple of odd videos
A comic or two and a birthday or three
And maybe some blog links – who knows?
Pixels keep scrollin’ on
And comments keep rollin’ along…
Scroll us some pixels, Seven-Seventy
Serve up the news tonight
You’re the place that we go to be “in the know”
And the comments will roll in all night
Now Meredith’s cruising an ebook site
To tell us which books are priced right
But it seems that her dragon
Is blockin’ my wagon
So I’ll probably be here all night
I see movement – there, in a dark corner
They’re probably the shy lurker type
Far away, I may hear puppies baying now
But I’m not buying into their hype.
Oh, pixels keep scrollin’ on
And comments keep rollin’ along…
Well, Kendall scored fifth ‘fore I hit the end
With Hampus in second-fifth place
Sometime Soon Lee will appear
Followed by Paul Weimer
As Stoic and Chip up the pace.
Damn, I can’t read this verse for the life o’ me
But not ’cause I’m blind, drunk or mean
No, JJ said it was too spoilery
And encoded it in ROT13.
Fpebyy hf fbzr cvkryf, Frira-Friragl
Freir hc gur arjf gbavtug
Lbh’er gur cynpr gung jr tb gb or “va gur xabj”
Naq gur pbzzragf jvyy ebyy va nyy avtug
The discussion’s still rolling on Caturday
Camestros and Tim just arrived
Lis, Jon, Andrew, Ctein,
James, Bruce, others most fine,
Ding! A new Pixel Scroll just arrived!
And the book recs, they grow just like lava flows
As Mt. Tsundoku’s slopes reach the skies
And my bank account weeps as my rent money creeps
Into publishers’ pockets – b’bye!
Oh, pixels keep scrollin’ on
And comments keep rollin’ along…
Scroll us some pixels, Seven-Seventy
Serve up the news tonight
You’re the place that we go to be “in the know”
And the comments will roll in all night
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, James Davis Nicoll, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock Martin Morse Wooster, ULTRAGOTHA, Lise Andreasen, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rev. Bob.]