Natalie Naudus’s skilled narration adds to the luminous and otherworldly qualities of Vo’s historical fantasy. Luli Wei is determined to be a star. But in her world, that means making dangerous pacts, trading away years of her life, and fending off literal monsters. Naudus moves from character to character with ease, enlivening the ambitious and bold Luli, the captivating women she falls for, and the roaring executives who are looking to own Luli’s soul. Naudus conveys all of Luli’s passion as she delivers her lines for her starring role as the monstrous Siren Queen. A surreal and spellbinding story of a Golden Age Hollywood that is steeped in ancient magic.
THE MEMORY LIBRARIAN: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer
by Janelle Monáe| Read by Janelle Monáe, Bahni Turpin
Musician and actor Janelle Monáe adds author and narrator to her considerable list of accomplishments with this story collection based on themes from her 2018 album DIRTY COMPUTER. The totalitarian entity New Dawn seeks to strip away all perceived deviance from humanity. Monáe’s narration of the eponymous first story is softly menacing as she introduces listeners to Seshet, a bureaucratic memory thief who longs for love and connection. Bahni Turpin narrates the rest of the stories in her engaging voice, using crisp and flexible tones to portray characters at odds with Seshet’s mission. Together, they create a memorable experience for listeners seeking classic science-fiction themes with new horizons.
by Rebecca Roanhorse| Read by Christian Barillas, Darrell Dennis, Cara Gee, Nicole Lewis, Shaun Taylor-Corbett
Five talented narrators continue an epic fantasy story of political upheaval, magic, and destiny in the Meridian. Serapio, portrayed with intensity and vulnerability by Shaun Taylor-Corbett, is struggling to maintain his humanity after becoming the living avatar of the Crow God. Cara Gee voices priestess Naranpa with wonder as she discovers she has been reborn as the Sun God, the Crow God’s bitter enemy. Each narrator propels the story forward in turn, expertly conveying the tangled fears and ambitions of its many characters. Listeners will be eager for the third part of this tense series inspired by pre-Columbian societies.
Golden Voice narrator Julia Whelan gives a thoughtful performance of a novel focused on a fundamental question: Would you want to know how long you’re going to live? One night everyone 22 years and older receives a box containing a length of string that tells them how much longer they will live. Would you open the box? Whelan introduces listeners to characters who have a range of reactions to that question. She provides a sense of intimacy to their stories as she calmly explores the dramatic ways the world changes for each one. Whelan shares the intensity of their emotions and the camaraderie that develops, especially among the “short stringers” who are soon to die.
THE CANDY HOUSE
by Jennifer Egan| Read by Michael Boatman, Nicole Lewis, Thomas Sadoski, Colin Donnell, Griffin Newman, Rebecca Lowman, Jackie Sanders, Lucy Liu, Christian Barillas, Tara Lynne Barr, Alex Allwine, Emily Tremaine, Kyle Beltran, Dan Bittner, Chris Henry Coffey, and a Full Cast
The ensemble performance of this novel is exceptional. Michael Boatman narrates the opening chapter at the right pace with the right intonation. He captures the interior life of the enigmatic Bix Boughton, a social media genius who invents the world-altering technology “Own Your Unconscious.” Alex Allwine delivers a haunting automaton-like second-person narration of the chapter titled “Lulu the Spy, 2032”; Tyra Lynne Barr emulates the chirpy sound of 13-year-old Molly in “The Perimeter After-Molly”; and Dan Bittner supplies sharply insightful tone as Ames, whose life story ends this imaginative tour de force. While Egan reprises some of the characters from her award-winning A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD, this novel has a wider timeframe, a greater trajectory, and a more complex plot.
by Peng Shepherd| Read by Emily Woo Zeller, Nancy Wu, Karen Chilton, Ron Butler, Neil Hellegers, Jason Culp, Brittany Pressley
A superb ensemble of narrators animates this exciting tale of friendships and betrayals, a cartographers’ cabal, maps, murder, and missing towns. Among her father’s effects, cartographer Nell discovers what appears to be a worthless 1930s highway map. However, this map hides dark secrets as well as a “phantom settlement” known only to “the Cartographers.” Possessing it puts Nell in great danger. Nell’s third-person point of view comes alive with narrator Emily Woo Zeller’s artistry, while the other narrators’ perceptive interpretations create fascinating, believable secondary characters. Outstanding performances highlight Peng Shepherd’s thrilling magical literary mystery.
Narrator Amara Jasper faithfully delivers Kingfisher’s audiobook filled with fairy-tale magic. Princess Marra’s oldest sister dies under mysterious circumstances only months after her marriage. Her second sister marries the same prince, but when his abuse comes to light, Princess Marra embarks on a perilous quest to save her with a gravewitch, her fairy godmother, an exiled knight, a dog made of bones, and a demon-possessed chicken. Jasper’s unhurried pace and impassive tone perfectly complement the story’s dry humor. Her skill and commitment to creating diverse voices offer listeners distinct and emotionally connected characters—and bird caws. Jasper easily immerses listeners in the story and keeps them hooked to the end.
Natalie Naudus’s immersive delivery immediately draws listeners into Gladstone’s kaleidoscopic adventure. Estranged in the wake of their last failed mission, a group of friends with deep wounds and unusual powers must reunite to defeat forces that are threatening to tear apart all realities. Naudus readily dives into a sprawling, harrowing narrative of perilous battles, ominous voices in the dark, gut-wrenching flashbacks, and defiant feats of magic and science. Characterizations range from courageous and clever to horrifying and unhinged. Underpinning the friends’ expedition is a powerful, complex love story, deftly explored by Gladstone and beautifully rendered by Naudus.
SEA OF TRANQUILITY
by Emily St. John Mandel| Read by John Lee, Dylan Moore, Arthur Morey, Kirsten Potter
The four narrators of Mandel’s newest novel create a mesmerizing listening experience full of time shifts. Kirsten Potter shines as an author on a book tour at the beginning of a 2200s pandemic; her increasingly worried observations hit close to home. Dylan Moore brings a perfect mix of malaise and inertia as a young woman living in 2020 New York. John Lee effortlessly transports listeners to British Columbia in 1918. Arthur Morey’s beautiful, throaty narration of a man from the moon colonies whose life is changed forever by a mysterious government job is haunting and familiar. These interlocking storylines offer a poignant and surprising exploration of love, art, and the beauty of everyday life.
“Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy Audiobooks of 2022—so far!” was curated by AudioFile. AudioFile is an independent source of audiobook reviews and recommendations with a clear focus on the performance and listening experience.
(1) COME THE MILLENNIUM. This year marks 60 years of the iconic Spider-Man. Marvel Comics will celebrate this milestone anniversary with a special issue honoring the comic that started it all, Amazing Fantasy. Arriving in August, Amazing Fantasy #1000 will be a giant-sized one-shot brought together by some of the industry’s most acclaimed creators.
Here’s just some of what fans can expect from this landmark issue:
Visionary writer Neil Gaiman’s grand return to the Marvel Universe
Emmy Award winning creator behind “Veep” and “Avenue 5” Armando Ianucci’s Marvel Comics debut
Spider-Man mastermind Dan Slott and superstar artist Jim Cheung team up to explore the enduring love between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in a story set in the far future
Acclaimed artist Michael Cho and novelist Anthony Falcone introduce a new Spider-Man villain
Ho Che Anderson crafts a horror-fueled Spidey adventure that cuts to Peter Parker’s core
Plus stories by Rainbow Rowell, Jonathan Hickman, and many more!
“It’s Spider-Man’s 60th and we wanted to celebrate in style by inviting some of the greatest creative minds in the world to celebrate it!” Editor Nick Lowe said.
Join the industry’s top talent in celebrating Spider-Man’s birthday when Amazing Fantasy #1000 arrives in August.
(2) THE SKY IS FALLING. Chillercon, the Horror Writers Association’s UK event, announced a change of venue after the ballroom ceiling collapsed in their planned facility. The con will still take place in Scarborough from May 26-29.
The convention received news this week that there has been a ceiling collapse in the Cabaret Ballroom of the Grand Hotel, one of our main programming rooms in that hotel, and asbestos has been discovered. The room has been closed off and the hotel declared safe to run by the relevant authorities, but for the last forty-eight hours the convention committee has been working with both hotels towards the best solution for both the ability of ChillerCon UK to run effectively and for the safety of our attendees, as obviously we are keen to ensure there’s no risk to anyone attending.
To that end, we are pleased to confirm that all programming and accommodation has now been moved to the Royal Hotel with immediate effect….
John’s debut novel Assassin’s Orbit, published last year, was a finalist for the 2022 Compton Crook Award. He’s a former US Army paratrooper, a long-time information security professional, a historical fencer, and a life-long gamer who’s written the occasional tabletop RPG adventure. He co-edited the anthology Skies of Wonder, Skies of Danger along with Mary Alexandra Agner. John’s also a graduate of the Viable Paradise workshop and a founding member of the Maryland Space Opera Collective writing group.
We met for lunch at the White Oak Tavern, which is in the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center in Ellicott City, Maryland, and if there was ever a proper place to record an episode of Eating the Fantastic, an Enchanted Forest certainly sounds like it.
We discussed how pitching his debut novel as “Battlestar Galactica meets Golden Girls” got him an agent, why his background in table-top RPGs might be the reason he writes novels rather than short stories, how he deals with the “candy bar” scenes of his plots, the way critique groups and sensitivity readers can help make books better, how to juggle multiple viewpoints and still have them all be equally compelling, the political aspects of his novel which make it a different read than it would have been when it was first begun, his particular set of skills which helped bring fight scenes alive, and much more.
…Hopkinson believes universities can help enrich the literary landscape by embracing genre fiction, looking at alternatives that deviate from traditional forms of learning and helping students develop a sense of belonging. For example, the traditional workshop model, where students sit around a circle discussing their stories, may be of little value to a student if they are the only writer of colour in a class.
“I encounter a lot of emerging writers who come from a marginalized community who feel that they won’t be welcomed,” she explains.
Hopkinson believes something that helped her become a writer was “middle class entitlement.” She grew up in a place where Black people were in the majority, where her father was a teacher and her mother a librarian and literature seemed an obtainable pursuit.
“There’s a certain type of entitlement because of that. Not wealth, but entitlement,” she says. “That sense of I have a right to be here.”
The hardest lesson for Hopkinson to teach is this self-empowerment….
…As Monáe wrote on Instagram in December, they have always used sci-fi and Afro-Futurism as “vehicles” for translating ideas into music, art and now literature. But the singer told Amanpour that they believe memory and history are under threat in today’s America.
“I think that there is definitely an agenda for erasure,” Monáe said, pointing to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signing the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which bans LGBTQ+ topics in elementary school classrooms, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott signing legislation that restricts how race and US history is taught in the state’s schools.
“These are real experiences for our ancestors, real experiences for us,” Monáe said. “And erasure is happening right underneath our noses. And it’s being done through lawmaking.”…
(6) VIDEO GAMES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber discusses TV adaptations of games.
What film directors seem to miss while adapting games for cinema is that games do not resolve around stories we are told but worlds we inhabit. They need to ask what it means for this story to be watched rather than played, and how it might have to change accordingly. In that respect, TV may prove a more natural fit. The length of a series creates space for the spreading storytelling style of games and their myriad characters. This breathing room should also allow showrunners to capitalise on the abundant lore and environmental detail of modern games, which assist in the trendy pursuit of ‘world building.’
Two TV shows that offer hope for the future are both animations. Castlevania, a vampire story based on a series of hit 1990s games, has become a surprise hit on Netflix since launching in 2017. It is sharply written with mature themes and thoughtful plotting and paved the way for last year’s Arcane. Another Netflix show, Arcane digs into the origin stories of two heroes from the online battle arena game League Of Legends using striking animation that blends hand-painted textures with 3D graphics. Unlike other adaptations, Arcane forgoes fussy plot exposition in favor of character-driven drama and plays loosely with its source material, focusing on the complex relationship between two women and including action only where it meaningfully impacts the narrative.
(7) STURGEON SYMPOSIUM. The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction is hosting the first annual Sturgeon Symposium on September 29-30 at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. Here’s the call for papers. They are accepting proposals until June 30.
First Times is structured unlike anything I’ve read before, using recursion in the narrative to expand and deepen the theme of the story. What inspired you to work in this particular structure? How did you approach storytelling in this medium?
A couple of things, actually – the most important of which is that this was my very first time (hah) writing interactive fiction. As such, I really wanted to keep the game as short and simple as possible, having been warned how easily the simplest-seeming idea can balloon once you actually get down to writing multiple branches of a narrative. Another piece of advice I was given, as a first time IF-writer, was to think about replayability – a game shouldn’t be a one-and-done (hah) kind of thing, but something a reader could go back to multiple times, discovering something new every time….
(9) FRED WARD (1942-2022). Actor Fred Ward has passed on at the age of 79. Detective Harry Philip Lovecraft in Cast a Deadly Spell, Earl Bassett in Tremors and sequels, and the lead in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. He was also in The Crow: Salvation,Invasion Earth (miniseries), had parts in episodes of The Incredible Hulk and The Hitchhiker. The New York Times tribute here comments:
…Mr. Ward was likely best known for his performances in “The Right Stuff,” the acclaimed 1983 adaptation of a book by Tom Wolfe, and “Tremors,” a monster movie that ascended to cult classic status since its release in 1990.
But his long career included a broad range of roles in which he applied a sometimes gruff but almost always grounded charisma to parts on film and TV: among other parts, a union activist in “Silkwood,” a detective in “Miami Blues,” Henry Miller in “Henry and June,” and a motorcycle racer in “Timerider: The Adventures of Lyle Swann.”…
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1994 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-eight years ago, The Crow premiered. I saw it at the theatre and yes, I liked it quite a bit. I’m not a horror fan but I found this quite impressive. I hadn’t realized until now that it was co-written by John Shirley along with David J. Schow but I’ll get back to that in awhile.
It was directed by Alex Proyas who would later be nominated for a Hugo at Aussiecon Three (1999) for Dark City. (The Truman Show won that year.) And he’d also later direct I, Robot.
The Crow was produced by Jeff Most, Edward R. Pressman and Grant Hill. Most would produce the sequels, The Crow: City of Angels, The Crow: Salvation and The Crow: Wicked Prayer. Pressman was the uncredited executive producer for Conan the Destroyer and Grant Hill was involved in the Matrix films plus V for Vendetta.
Of course the movie starred Brandon Lee, an actor who gave the film a certain tragic edge by dying. The other major roles were held by Ernie Hudson and Michael Wincott. Ernie you know, but Michael Wincott has largely played villains in such films as Alien Resurrection and The Three Musketeers (remember I hold them to be genre).
So yes, it was written by John Shirley along with David J. Schow. Checking IMDB, I see Shirley has written far too many screenplays too list all of them here, so I’ll just note his work on Deep Space Nine, Batman Beyond and Poltergeist: The Legacy. Though definitely not genre, he also wrote one episode of the Red Shoe Dairies. Really he did.
The Crow did well at the box office making nearly a hundred million against twenty-four million in costs.
So what did the critics think? Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune had this to say: “What’s scary about The Crow is the story and the style itself: American Gothic, Poe-haunted nightmare, translated to the age of cyberpunk science fiction, revenge movies and outlaw rock ‘n’ roll, all set in a hideously decaying, crime-ridden urban hell.” And Caryn James of the New York Times said: “It is a dark, lurid revenge fantasy and not the breakthrough, star-making movie some people have claimed. But it is a genre film of a high order, stylish and smooth.”
It holds a most exemplary ninety percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 13, 1922 — Bea Arthur. Really only one meaningful genre credit but oh but what a credit it is. She’s in the Star Wars Holiday Special as Ackmena. That character in the Star Wars canon was the nightshift bartender in Chalmun’s Cantina in Mos Eisley on Tatooine who joined the resistance. (Died 2009.)
Born May 13, 1937 — Roger Zelazny. Where do I start? The Amber Chronicles are a favorite, as is the Isle of The Dead, To Die in Italbar, and well, there’s very there’s very little by him that I can’t pick him and enjoy for a night’s reading. To my knowledge there’s only one thing he recorded reading and that’s a book he said was one of his favorite works, A Night in the Lonesome October. No, I’ve not forgotten about his Hugos. Roger Zelazny would win his first Hugo for …And Call Me Conrad which would later be called This Immortal. It would be the first of six Hugos that he would win and one of two for Best Novel, the other being for Lord of Light. His other four Hugos would be for the “Home Is the Hangman” novella, the “Unicorn Variation“ novelette, “24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai” novella and “Permafrost” novelette. (Died 1995.)
Born May 13, 1946 — Marv Wolfman, 76. He worked for Marvel Comics on The Tomb of Dracula series for which he and artist Gene Colan created Blade, and the Crisis on Infinite Earths series in which he temporarily untangled DC’s complicated history with George Pérez. And he worked with Pérez on the direct-to-DVD movie adaptation of the popular “Judas Contract” storyline from their tenure on Teen Titans. (I’m not going to list his IMDB credits here. Hell, he even wrote a Reboot episode!)
Born May 13, 1949 — Zoë Wanamaker, 73. She’s been Elle in amazing Raggedy Rawney which was a far better fantasy than Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where she was Madame Hooch. And she was Cassandra in two Ninth Doctor stories,” The End of the World” and “New Earth”.
Born May 13, 1951 — Gregory Frost, 71. His retelling of The Tain is marvellous. Pair it with Ciaran Carson and China Miéville’s takes on the same legend taking an existing legend and remaking it through modern fiction writing. Fitcher’s Brides, his Bluebeard and Fitcher’s Bird fairy tales, is a fantastic novel though quite horrific.
Born May 13, 1964 — Stephen Colbert, 58. Ubernerd who’s currently recovering from his third bout of Covid. He’s hosted charity showings of Tolkien. Genre credits a cameo as a spy in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the voice of Paul Peterson in Mr. Peabody & Sherman and the voice of President Hathaway in Monsters vs. Aliens.
(12) THE SLEEPER SYMBIOTE CLAIMS A NEW HOST IN VENOM #11. This cover reveal is really only the first phase of Sleeper Agent’s look. They are symbiotes, after all. Pick up his debut issue when Venom #11 arrives in August.
Writers Al Ewing and Ram V and artist Bryan Hitch’s acclaimed run on Venom continues to reshape the symbiote mythos in each explosive issue! And luckily for Venom fans, the trio of superstar creators have no plans to slow down as the ongoing series enters its’ third terrifying arc this August in Venom #11. Kicking off a three-part story called “VENOMWORLD”, readers will see Eddie and Dylan Brock’s journey take a sharp turn as they deal with the shocking revelations of Venom #10. Dylan is still at the mercy of Bedlam while Eddie battles his way across the cosmos, discovering more about the symbiotes than ever before. And the hits keep coming as the Sleeper symbiote joins the fray with a deadly new look…
(13) LIVE TWEETING. Cat Rambo did the Writers Corner Live show, talking about The Reinvented Heart with Mary Elizabeth Jackson.
As an alum of “Community” and “Rick and Morty,” screenwriter Michael Waldron certainly knows outré, genre-hopping science fiction; with “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” Waldron found a kindred spirit in director Sam Raimi, who invented outré, genre-hopping horror with his “Evil Dead” trilogy.
Together, Raimi and Waldron have made one of the most distinctive — and, for some, controversial — movies ever in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To wit (the big spoilers start here): Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) goes full Scarlet Witch and brutally murders anyone who gets in the way of her mission to find a universe in which her sons from the 2021 Disney+ series “WandaVision” are still alive. It’s a heel turn that has shocked many — including Olsen — especially when Wanda decimates the Illuminati, the team of superheroes from an alternate reality that includes Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier (from 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men” movies), Anson Mount’s Black Bolt (from ABC’s “Inhumans” TV series), and John Krasinski’s Reed Richards, the first time the leader of the Fantastic Four has appeared in the MCU….
The Huntsville International Airport was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to allow commercial space vehicles to land at the airport….
Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser is a space utility vehicle that is designed to transport crew and cargo to destinations such as the International Space Station.
Sierra Space was awarded six missions by NASA to resupply the International Space Station. The FAA could grant the Dream Chaser the option to land in Huntsville in 2023.
“This is a significant milestone for Huntsville International and for our community in the pursuit of landing a commercial space vehicle right here in Rocket City U.S.A.,” Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Port of Huntsville/Huntsville International Airport, Mark McDaniel, said in a statement. “That’s going to be an exciting day, not just for the Airport but also for the talented and dedicated partners in this effort.”
(16) EATING OUTSIDE THE BOX. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Marylou Tousignant says that May 11 was National Eat What You Want Day and recommended ten foods kids could try, including Japanese tuna eyeballs, Vietnamese coconut worms, and Marmite. “On Eat What You Want Day, try something new”.
… It’s easy to think of foods you love and want to eat. We decided to tinker with the idea and tell you about 10 unusual dishes from around the world that you may never have heard of. We’re calling it International Give It a Try Day….
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Dan’l, Paul Weimer, Cat Eldridge, 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 Andrew (not Werdna).]
(1) RICK RIORDAN HURLS THUNDERBOLT. Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan today condemned the racist backlash against Leah Jeffries, the young actor who is set to play Annabeth Chase in the upcoming Disney+ series Percy Jackson and the Olympians. “Leah Jeffries is Annabeth Chase”
This post is specifically for those who have a problem with the casting of Leah Jeffries as Annabeth Chase. It’s a shame such posts need to be written, but they do. First, let me be clear I am speaking here only for myself. These thoughts are mine alone. They do not necessarily reflect or represent the opinions of any part of Disney, the TV show, the production team, or the Jeffries family.
The response to the casting of Leah has been overwhelmingly positive and joyous, as it should be. Leah brings so much energy and enthusiasm to this role, so much of Annabeth’s strength. She will be a role model for new generations of girls who will see in her the kind of hero they want to be.
If you have a problem with this casting, however, take it up with me. You have no one else to blame. Whatever else you take from this post, we should be able to agree that bullying and harassing a child online is inexcusably wrong. As strong as Leah is, as much as we have discussed the potential for this kind of reaction and the intense pressure this role will bring, the negative comments she has received online are out of line. They need to stop. Now.
…You have decided that I couldn’t possibly mean what I have always said: That the true nature of the character lies in their personality. You feel I must have been coerced, brainwashed, bribed, threatened, whatever, or I as a white male author never would have chosen a Black actor for the part of this canonically white girl.
You refuse to believe me, the guy who wrote the books and created these characters, when I say that these actors are perfect for the roles because of the talent they bring and the way they used their auditions to expand, improve and electrify the lines they were given. Once you see Leah as Annabeth, she will become exactly the way you imagine Annabeth, assuming you give her that chance, but you refuse to credit that this may be true.
You are judging her appropriateness for this role solely and exclusively on how she looks. She is a Black girl playing someone who was described in the books as white.
Friends, that is racism.
And before you resort to the old kneejerk reaction — “I am not racist!” — let’s examine that statement too….
Disney, under siege by Republican lawmakers, may immediately lose its copyright for Mickey Mouse if a law slashing the duration of ownership is passed.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Tuesday proposed legislation that limits copyright protection to 56 years. According to the Copyright Clause Restoration Act of 2022, the law would retroactively apply to existing copyrights.
The move follows Florida lawmakers last month stripping Disney of special privileges of self-government that allowed it to independently oversee its sprawling theme park area. The feud started when the company vowed to push for repeal of the Parental Rights in Education Law, which bars discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation in grades K-3 and allows parents to sue school districts if they think there’s been a violation.
…Gov. Ron DeSantis placed Disney front and center in a culture war against what he called “woke corporations.”
Hawley, employing DeSantis’ playbook, said in a statement, “Thanks to special copyright protections from Congress, woke corporations like Disney have earned billions while increasingly pandering to woke activists.”
Hawley’s mention of “special copyright protections” refers to Disney’s major role influencing the evolution of copyright law. Mickey Mouse was first introduced with the 1928 release of Steamboat Willie. At the time, Disney was afforded 56 years of protection for the character.
But with the copyright set to expire in 1984, Disney lobbied for reform and secured the passage of the Copyright Act of 1976. This allowed ownership of works by corporations for 75 years. In 1998, Disney was again able to delay the entry of Mickey Mouse into the public domain with the adoption of the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998. The law extended protection of copyrights by corporations for 95 years from their original publication, pushing the expiration of Disney’s copyright for Steamboat Willie to 2024.
Several Republican lawmakers have said that they won’t support an extension of copyright protections for Disney if a bill is introduced. In a letter to chief executive Bob Chapek, Jim Banks (R-In.) denounced the company for capitulating “to far-left activists through hypocritical, woke corporate actions” with its opposition to the Parental Rights in Education Act….
Variety says the damage to Disney would be less than one might assume.
…But even if Disney’s copyright for Steamboat Willie expires, only the original design of Mickey Mouse will hit the public domain. There have been several iterations of the character over the past century….
(3) READ SFF FROM THE MARGINS. Anathema’s first issue of 2022 (#15) is live. The May 2022 issue features new fiction from Saswati Chatterjee, Choo Yi Feng, M.S. Dean, Wen-yi Lee, poetry from Rasha Abdulhadi and Folarin James, and cover art by Yu Ying. Read the entire issue free online: Anathema: Spec from the Margins Issue 15, May 2022
… When you moved into writing YA, I’m sure you confronted kneejerk assumptions about the field: that it had to pull its punches when dealing with contentious topics, that it couldn’t be as sophisticated as “adult” literature. Yet your YA novels are, if not as obviously transgressive as your horror fiction, quite bold and even worldly: they never pander, never assume their readers can’t grasp complex motivations or ambiguous desires. The young heroine of The Blue Mirror, for example, one of your more overtly supernatural stories, is as seduced by darkness as any of the protagonists in your horror novels. Can you say a bit about what drew you to the field? Did you find that you had to adapt your style or writing method at all? And I’m curious, have you had any response from young readers to your books?
At my first meeting with my YA editor, the completely legendary Frances Foster at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, she cautioned me about that very thing. And there were some readers who mourned that I had “stopped writing” when they learned I was writing YA! It just floors me that anyone would think writing for young(er) readers is “easier” — writing YA demanded all the same skills I’d deploy in any novel, and even more stringent narrative drive: younger readers are wonderfully unforgiving, and if you bore them, they will straight up let you know.
It was one of the things I loved most about doing school and library visits: the kids would ask pointed questions, they’d confront me if they thought they found errors in the books. And they would question and debate with each other. During one especially remarkable visit, bleachers full of middle schoolers argued, passionately, over whether a book should show the world as it ought to be rather than as it is, “so we can see it and change it.” Writing YA asked of me a heightened level of intention: because younger readers know that they don’t know everything (older readers don’t either, but they might not believe that anymore), and a new idea, a new point of reference, can change a young reader’s point of view, change the way they view the world. There’s a responsibility inherent in that, and I took it very seriously….
(5) PALISANO MEDICAL UPDATE. Horror Writers Association President John Palisano announced last night on Facebook he has contracted Covid and will miss this weekend’s StokerCon in Denver.
It’s with a very heavy heart I’m sharing I will not be attending StokerCon this year. Over the weekend, I developed strong symptoms of Covid-19. A positive PCR test confirmed my worst fears just yesterday. For the record? I’m fully vaccinated and boosted. Obviously, the virus is still a serious threat.
With my bags packed, ready to celebrate years of hard work, to say I’m devastated at not being able to see friends new and old and see this come to life is an understatement.
(6) JANELLE MONÁE. Two interviews in synch with the release of Memory Librarian.
…The book’s five thematically linked stories, each co-written with a different author, all play off Monáe’s 2018 post-cyber-punk album “Dirty Computer,” which blended many sounds and styles — rap, pop, funk, R&B, rock and every subgenre imaginable — but felt more directly personal in its celebration of Black women and their sexuality than her earlier, more metaphorical albums.
Monáe felt the album was still resonating after she finished recording it. She made a 45-minute short film inspired by the album but even that wasn’t enough. “The themes were strong and I knew there were more stories to tell,” she explains.
“Memory Librarian” explores a futuristic world in which an organization called the New Dawn takes a Big Brother-esque approach to wiping out human desires deemed abnormal, seeking to create “their versions of what ideal citizens should be,” Monáe says. “They’ll strip people of their own selves.”
People in marginalized groups, especially in the LGBTQ community, are in danger of having their memory wiped out with a drug called Nevermind. Anyone who sympathizes with them or rebels against the system is also in danger….
… What’s it like to share the space of Dirty Computer with collaborators?
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head: community. Everything I’ve tried to do, I’ve tried to keep it rooted in community—like starting my arts collective, the Wondaland Arts Society, at the beginning of my career. It’s full of writers, it’s full of filmmakers, it’s full of actors, it’s full of musicians. And coming from a big family as well—I have like 49 first cousins—I don’t know how to not be communing. So it just felt right as I entered into the literary space to find other like-minded spirits, other dirty computers, whose work I admired and I knew admired my work. How can we make this innovative? What we’re doing is not common; what we’re doing is super special and I love it: being able to have the back and forth, to give character, to give plot point and say, OK, run wild! You read that first draft and you’re like, “OK, this is it! OK, let’s tweak this, let’s do that.” The writers feeling seen in the way they’re writing and me feeling seen in the vision I have, it’s amazing!…
For using graphic reportage and the comics medium to tell a powerful yet intimate story of the Chinese oppression of the Uyghurs, making the issue accessible to a wider public.
(8) 1957-1958 HUGOS THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. Rich Horton’s research into the early Hugos revealed something that inspired a Facebook post that begins —
Wandering through the history of the Hugos in the 1950s — a chaotic time, with no well established rules, with constantly changing award categories, with a con committee, in one case, refusing to give fiction awards at all … I realized that no stories from 1957 won a Hugo. (The 1958 Hugo for short story went to “Or All the Seas With Oysters”, by Avram Davidson (Galaxy, May 1958) and the Hugo for — get this — “Novel or Novelette” went to “The Big Time”, by Fritz Leiber, a novel (albeit very short) that was serialized in Galaxy, March and April 1958. In 1957, no Hugos for fiction were given.
So, what the heck — here’s my list of proposed fiction nominees from 1957….
(9) SERGEY DYACHENKO (1945-2022). Publishers Lunch reports Russian-Ukrainian sff author Sergey Dyachenko died in California on May 5 at 77. With his wife, Marina Dyachenko, he was the co-author of more than 30 books, including Vita Nostra, The Scar, and Daughter from the Dark. A sequel to Vita Nostra will be published by Harper Voyager next year. Adam Whitehead has more at The Wertzone: “RIP Serhiy Dyachenko”.
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1975 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-seven years ago, Monty Python and the Holy Grail premiered in the States. It would be nominated for a Hugo at MidAmericaCon (A Boy and His Dog which I’ve written up was the choice by Hugo voters.)
The film was written and performed by the Monty Python which course was Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin, and was directed by Gilliam and Jones in their directorial debuts. It was done during a break between the third and fourth series of their Monty Python’s Flying Circus. So it was just another episode of that series in an extended format. Yes, it is but one skit, that of King Arthur, but it is a Python skit none-the-less. A really, really long one at ninety minutes.
(Not wanting a good, or bad idea depending on which critic you were, to go to waste, the film was the basis for the Eric Idle’s Tony Award-winning Spamalot musical thirty-five years later.)
It cost virtually nothing, somewhere around a half million dollars, to produce and made five million dollars in its first run. Not bad at all.
Speaking of critics, and we should at this point, what did they think of it?
Well Chicago-Sun Tribune gave Gene Siskel reviewing duties this time instead of Roger Ebert and he thought that “it contained about 10 very funny moments and 70 minutes of silence. Too many of the jokes took too long to set up, a trait shared by both Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. I guess I prefer Monty Python in chunks, in its original, television revue format.”
And Geoff Brown of The Monthly Film Bulletin says “The team’s visual buffooneries and verbal rigamaroles (some good, some bad, but mostly indifferent) are piled on top of each other with no attention to judicious timing or structure, and a form which began as a jaunty assault on the well-made revue sketch and an ingenious misuse of television’s fragmented style of presentation, threatens to become as unyielding and unfruitful as the conventions it originally attacked.”
It currently has an extraordinarily good ninety-five rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 10, 1863 — Cornelius Shea. As the authors of SFE put it, “author for the silent screen and author of dime novels, prolific in many categories but best remembered for marvel stories using a fairly consistent ‘mythology’ of dwarfs, subterranean eruptions, and stage illusion masquerading as supernatural magic.” To my surprise, only two of his novels are in the Internet Archive, though Complete Mystery Science Stories of Cornelius Shea which includes two of these novels is available from the usual suspects. (Died 1920.)
Born May 10, 1886 — Olaf Stapledon. Original and almost unimaginable. Last and First Men, his first novel (!) extends over two billion years – written in 1930. Who could follow that? He did, with Star Maker, over 100 billion years. Their range, imagination, and grandeur may still be unequaled. He was, however – or to his credit – depending on how you see things – an avowed atheist. Odd John, about a spiritual-intellectual superman, may be tragic, or heroic, or both. Darkness and the Light was nominated for a Retro-Hugo At WorldCon 76 as was Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord at CoNZealand. He was the first recipient of the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award in 2001 and voted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2014. (Died 1950.)
Born May 10, 1895 — Earl Askam. He played Officer Torch, the captain of Ming the Merciless’s guards, in the 1936 Flash Gordon serial. It’s his only genre appearance though he did have an uncredited role in a Perry Mason film, The Case of Black Cat, which is at least genre adjacent as the defendant is a feline! (Died 1940.)
Born May 10, 1899 — Fred Astaire. Yes, that actor. He showed up on the original Battlestar Galactica as Chameleon / Captain Dimitri In “The Man with Nine Lives” episode. Stunt casting I assume. He had only two genre roles as near as I can tell which were voicing The Wasp in the English-language adaptation of the Japanese Wasp anime series, and being in a film called Ghost Story. They came nearly twenty years apart and were the last acting roles that he did. (Died 1987.)
Born May 10, 1935 — Terrance Dicks. He had a long association with Doctor Who, working as a writer and also serving as the program’s script editor from 1968 to 1974. He wrote many of its scripts including The War Games which ended the Second Doctor’s reign and The Five Doctors, produced for the 20th year celebration of the program. He also wrote novelizations of more than sixty of the Doctor Who shows. Yes, sixty! Prior to working on this series, he wrote four episodes of The Avengers and after this show he wrote a single episode of Space: 1999 and likewise for Moonbase 3, a very short lived BBC series that I’ve never heard of. (Died 2019.)
Born May 10, 1963 — Rich Moore, 59. He’s directed Wreck-It Ralph and co-directed Zootopia and Ralph Breaks the Internet; he’s has worked on Futurama. It’s not really stretching the definition of genre, so I’ll note that he did the animation for the most excellent Spy vs. Spy series for MADtv. You can see the first one here.
Born May 10, 1969 — John Scalzi, 53. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever read by him. What would I recommend if you hadn’t read him? The Old Man’s War series certainly is fantastic with Zoe’s Tale bringing tears to my eyes. The Interdependency series is excellent. I really have mixed feelings about Redshirts in that it’s too jokey for my taste. I will note that his blog is one of a very few which I read every post of.
(12) S&S NEWS. If you sign up for the Thews You Can Use sword and sorcery newsletter, you now get a free sampler of contemporary sword and sword stories, including two by Cora Buhlert as well as fiction by Remco van Straten and Angeline B. Adams, Dariel Quioge, Chuck E. Clark, Nathaniel Webb, J.T.T. Ryder, Mario Caric and Michael Burke: Thews You Can Use.
It says something about modern Ukraine’s place in the world that an academic who takes “special pride” in publishing a Ukrainian translation of the complete works of J.R.R. Tolkien was determined also to print a series of manuals on military tactics and civilian survival in a war zone.
“This is a bestseller,” Astrolabe Publishing founder Oleh Feschowetz told the Washington Examiner during a recent interview in his office. “One hundred thousand copies.”
He was referring not to The Hobbit or The Silmarillion, but to Swiss army Maj. Hans von Dach’s mid-century guerrilla warfare manual, Total Resistance: A small war warfare manual for everyone — already in its seventh Astrolabe edition, just eight years after Feschowetz first printed the Ukrainian translation. “It was the first military book in the beginning of the war, [in] 2014.”…
“Because Russia always interpret[s] the culture just like a weapon,” he said in another conversation. “We must do the same. Culture is a weapon.”
So his team has published translations of works as ancient and various as the poems of Catullus, Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, and Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit. The Old English epic Beowulf and Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales were unavailable in the Ukrainian language before Astrolabe brought them forth. For Feschowetz, the study of “high literature” such as the works he has published (including Tolkien’s works, which he rates as “one of the best books” of Western civilization) holds a special resonance for Ukrainian readers who continue to labor to establish strong institutions within their civil society, beyond as it is the protection of Western allies.
“In other words, [Tolkien] speaks more of a man who relies not on an institution, procedures, but on ‘his own hands and his own ship,’ as in Beowulf,” Feschowetz, more comfortable writing in English than conversing, explained in a subsequent note. “In other words, it is not so much about institutionalized freedom, so important for the West, as about gaining and defense of it, that is, [in] fact, about the basis and origins of this freedom, about the real, internal mechanism of its functioning, from which we are so often removed by well-established institutions and procedures. This is, so to speak, the inner ‘West.’”…
… Für Cora Buhlert sind solche postapokalyptischen Geschichten zurzeit kein Thema. „Die will ich nicht schreiben. Außerdem gibt es viele Möglichkeiten, die Welt untergehen zu lassen. Ich habe selbst eine Menge ausprobiert. Fiktional“, schiebt sie noch hinterher und lacht….
(15) JEOPARDY! [Item by Rich Lynch.] Going into tonight’s episode the current Jeopardy! champion Danielle Mauer is a costumer who attends Dragon Cons.
For the Daily Double, contestants, here’s your clue: she’s a senior editor at Scholastic who’s also a bestselling YA fantasy, sci-fi, and dystopian author writing under the name Kass Morgan. Correct response: who is Mallory Kass? And on Tuesday, May 10 she makes her debut as a contestant on Jeopardy! on ABC at 7 p.m. ET. …The Monarchs—the second book in the Ravens duology she co-wrote with Danielle Page—came out in January.
We won’t blab about who came out on top. (There was a third contestant, too, without a genre connection anyone has mentioned.)
Chauna Lawson, who cosplays by the name “CC the Geek,” thinks about the last time she felt truly embraced and acknowledged for all of who she was.
“That was when I was at Bowie State,” says Lawson, an alum of the historically Black university and founder of HBCU Con, a fandom convention held there April 30.
At her dorm in Alex Haley Residence Hall, she and her friends would play video games, watch anime like Sailor Moon and Digimon Adventure and talk about life.
“Nothing was off the table and everyone was respected in the room, regardless of where they came from,” Lawson says. “I just wanted to take that experience and recreate it and give it back to the people because it really got me through some really tough times in my life.”
Lawson, who graduated from Bowie State University in 2009, is the CEO of HBCU Con. It’s a convention where people dress up as their favorite characters from video games, anime, science fiction novels, comics or even their own creations, and celebrate both HBCUs and Black geeks.
At the three-day event, people meet other cosplayers, participate in panels on anything from life as a Black K-pop fan to the history of cosplay, participate in a gaming tournament, and attend events like a step show and fashion show put on by HBCU students….
If you have a deep passion for being surveilled, you probably dream of living in a city in the UK or China, festooned as they are with security cameras and face-rec. But what if you want to be spied on in a rural environment? It’s not feasible to install cameras on every tree in a forest. Autonomous tracking drones exist (thank you Skydio and Snapchat!) but they’re probably not progressing as fast as you’d like them to.
Well, help is here thanks to a team of researchers at Zhejiang University. As New Scientist reports, this research team has been working on drone swarms composed of ten tiny, fully autonomous drones that use off-the-shelf components, a camera and an algorithm to navigate through a forest without crashing into anything, or one another….
…Well, luckily for us the Avatar 2 trailer went online yesterday, giving us lowly non-exhibitors a chance to have our brains splattered out of the back of our skulls as well. And, upon watching it, there’s a good chance that we all had the same thought at the same time. Wait, are we watching the thing that they watched?
Because the trailer that dropped on YouTube really isn’t particularly spectacular. Some Na’vi jump across a tree. A sort of lizardy bird thing flies across some water. Some characters go for a bit of a swim. Sam Worthington’s character looks like he’s doing his best to hold in a fart. And, apart from the soundtrack – which is effectively the sound of Enya passing out from boredom and landing on a synthesiser – that’s about it….
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] John Cleese and Michal Pailn discuss the difficulties making Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life in this clip from the BBC in December 1982 that dropped yesterday.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Cat Rambo, Rich Lynch, Cathy Green, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]
…Kim Stanley Robinson, who described himself as a science fiction writer, asked how Buddhism can help science. His Holiness told him that scientists have been interested to discuss ways to achieve peace of mind because they recognise that if the mind is disturbed people won’t be happy. He emphasised the benefits of discovering more about mental consciousness and learning to train it on the basis of reasoning…
(2) VERTLIEB MEDICAL UPDATE. Steve Vertlieb returned to Facebook as he begins his long recovery from major heart surgery.
… My time on Facebook will, for the present, be limited, I fear, in the days ahead, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ve survived. I came home from the hospital yesterday (Thursday) after a ten day stay following major open-heart surgery. The procedure lasted approximately six hours, during which my surgeons replaced one heart valve, repaired another, stitched back together the hole in my heart, and stopped my internal bleeding.
This procedure was far more involved and life threatening than I ever imagined or was advised. The second time, it seems, is not the charm, but the entire bracelet. They had to cut through an already existing incision, breaking once healed bones protecting my heart cavity yet again, in order to reach and operate upon the newly troubled areas. My recovery, consequently, will also be far more difficult than my original transition back to health, healing, and wholeness twelve years ago.
The good news, however, is that when I asked my surgeon the chances for a complete recovery, he responded “ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.” Doing anything beyond menial movement and chores over the next several months will be severely limited. My brother Erwin is here with me for the next month or so, and he’ll be taking care of me….
(3) LOWREY ARRIVES. Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate “Orange Mike” Lowrey has returned. “As of 5 p.m. Milwaukee (11 p.m. GMT), I’m off the plane and have already been put back to work here at the bookstore. (Yes, the gout’s still painful.)” Welcome back! Sorry about the gout…
In the meantime, since I’m not currently editing a year’s best anthology series for anyone, I’ll try to note some of the best short fiction I’m reading about the place. My favourite story of the moment is Maureen McHugh’s wonderful “The Goldfish Man“, from Uncanny 45. Because it’s online and shareable, you should go read it if you see this. It would be in my year’s best.
Sadly, those were not successful and they opted not to proceed. I have been looking for new publisher for the series, but to no avail so far.
It was news to me.
(5) I’M WORKING, REALLY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Anne Helen Petersen explains how remote workers can show the home office they’re busy by turning work into a LARP: “LARPing your job” at Culture Study.
…The compulsion to LARP is for those who have to feel accountable to some larger salary god, one who takes earthly shape in the form of our manager, our manager’s manager, and/or our coworkers, all of whom are constantly deciding whether or not we deserve the salaried, privileged position in which we’ve found ourselves. This is largely bullshit, of course: yes, our managers do think about how much we’re producing, but only the worst of them are clocking how many hours our green dot is showing up on Slack. Most of our coworkers are too worried about LARPing their own jobs to worry about how much you’re LARPing yours.
We’re performing, in other words, largely for ourselves. Justifying to ourselves that we deserve the place that we’ve found ourselves. Justifying to ourselves that writing for the internet is a vocation that deserves steady payment. At heart, this is a manifestation of a general undervaluing of our own work: we still navigate the workplace as if getting paid to produce knowledge means we’re getting away with something, and have to do everything possible to make sure no one realizes they’ve made a massive mistake.
Of course, there are myriad cultural and societal forces that have led us to this point of disbelief. Every time someone made fun of my undergrad degree, or my dissertation, or my Ph.D. Every time someone made fun of BuzzFeed, or denigrated writing about celebrities or pop culture generally. Every time someone at a family gathering said something like “must be fun to get paid to go to the movies?” All of those messages come together to tell me that my work is either easy or pointless. No wonder I spend so much time trying to communicate how hard I work…
(6) LOUD AND CLEAR. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is a documentary that Penguin Random House UK putout in late April about the new Discworld audiobooks. This is corporate promotion but still worth 20 minutes in part because you get a sense of how an audiobook is made and also because you get to hear some of the actors who are narrating, as well as Pratchett’s literary executor, Rob Wilkins. One important point is that these books have been called “full cast” audiobooks and they’re not; a single actor narrates each one of the Discworld subseries, with the great Bill Nighy providing the footnotes. Of the narrators I thought Andy Serkis (who now has a pompadour) was the most interesting. “Turning Terry Pratchett’s Discworld into Audiobooks”.
This documentary follows Penguin Audio’s ambitious project of turning the entire Discworld catalog into audiobook format. Click here to find out more: https://linktr.ee/Discworld This is Discworld like you’ve never heard it before. With an incredible cast of names from British stage and screen, including Bill Nighy, Peter Serafinowicz, Indira Varma, Colin Morgan, Andy Serkis and Sian Clifford. This ambitious project, taking 40 unabridged books, containing nearly 4 million words, recording over 135 days and featuring over 420 hours of audio is being produced and directed by Neil Gardner – the multiple award-winning radio writer & director – who is a life-long Terry Pratchett superfan.
… When I looked at very different libraries all across the country, I saw the same low supply of science fiction that I had observed in that first elementary school library, but I also saw a high demand for it. In each library, only about 3% of the books were science fiction. I expected to see a corresponding low number of checkouts. Instead, the records showed that science fiction books were getting checked out more often per book than other genres. While realistic fiction books were checked out, on average, one to three times per book and fantasy books were checked out three to four times per book, science fiction books’ checkout numbers were as high as six times per book. These libraries may not have many science fiction books available, but the children seem to compensate by collectively checking out the available books more often.
The librarians were just as surprised as I was. Library software doesn’t keep track of each book’s genre, and so librarians have no easy way of knowing that science fiction books are being checked out so often. Librarians are, however, aware that there isn’t much science fiction available. There just aren’t as many choices as there are for other genres…
Nearly 30 years since the Scott Bakula-led original series signed off after a five-season run on NBC, the broadcast network has handed out a formal series order to the sequel series starring Raymond Lee.
The drama, which was formally picked up to pilot in January, recently wrapped production and is one of a handful of comedies and dramas that is expected to be in formal consideration for the 2022-23 fall schedule.
Written by God Friended Me and Alcatraz duo Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt — who will now have two shows on NBC with rookie La Brea having already been renewed — the new Quantum Leap follows a new team that has been assembled to restart the Quantum Leap project in the hopes of understanding the mysteries behind the machine and the man who created it 30 years since Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the accelerator and vanished….
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1960 – [By Cat Eldridge.]
This is Gart Williams, age thirty-eight, a man protected by a suit of armor all held together by one bolt. Just a moment ago, someone removed the bolt, and Mr. Williams’ protection fell away from him, and left him a naked target. He’s been cannonaded this afternoon by all the enemies of his life. His insecurity has shelled him, his sensitivity has straddled him with humiliation, his deep-rooted disquiet about his own worth has zeroed in on him, landed on target, and blown him apart. Mr. Gart Williams, ad agency exec, who in just a moment, will move into the Twilight Zone—in a desperate search for survival. — opening narration of “A Stop at Willoughby”
Sixty-two years ago this evening CBS aired TheTwilight Zone’s “A Stop at Willoughby”. So why am I essaying this Scroll? It is because, although I cannot give you an original source for it, it is said that Rod Serling cited this as his favorite story from the first season of the series. This being a story of the Twilight Zone, I’m willing to accept that as a true story.
So “A Stop at Willoughby” concerns a man so lonely, so unhappy with his life that he starts dreaming as he takes a short nap on the train while commuting home one snowy November day. Waking he finds his dream is real and he is in Willoughby in 1888, which Serling describes as a “peaceful, restful place, where a man can slow down to a walk and live his life full measure.” Even the train, where he’s the only passenger, is eighty years old.
He returns to Willoughby several times where he’s created as if he’s actually resident there but this being the reality of the Twilight Zone, things don’t end as he hopes. I am most definitely not saying what happens as that’d be a major spoiler and there might actually be someone here who hasn’t yet seen it. Though I find that extremely unlikely.
It shows up repeatedly in popular culture with some instances I’ll note here. The For All Time film starring Mark Harmon was based on this episode. An animated Rugrats “Family Reunion” episode has all of the Pickles family taking the train to Willoughby, with the conductor saying, “Next stop Willoughby!” And in Stargate Atlantis’ “The Real World” episode, Dr. Elizabeth Weir awakens in the Acute Care Unit of Willoughby State Hospital.
The Twilight Zone is streaming on Paramount +.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 6, 1914 — Randall Jarrell. Author of the ever so charming The Animal Family which is illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Go read it — you’ll be smiling afterwards. The Anchor Book of Stories has more of his genre friendly stories. (Died 1965.)
Born May 6, 1915 — Orson Welles. Certainly the broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” in 1938 was his pinnacle of genre success, but for the Federal Theatre Project he also did the 1936 adaptation of Macbeth with an entirely African American cast that was absolutely amazing. That was known as the Voodoo Macbeth which might give you an idea of what he did to it. He would later do a more straightforward film of Macbeth. And of course he made a most excellent radio Shadow as well! (Died 1985.)
Born May 6, 1946 — Nancy Kilpatrick, 76. Fangoria called her “Canada’s answer to Anne Rice”. I do recommend the anthology she edited Danse Macabre: Close Encounters with the Reaper as it’s a most excellent horror collection.
Born May 6, 1952 — Michael O’Hare. He was best known for playing Commander Jeffrey Sinclair in the first season of Babylon 5. Other genre appearances were limited — he played Fuller in the 1984 film C.H.U.D, was Jimmy in the “Heretic” episode of Tales from the Darkside and appeared as a thug on the subway train in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. And yes, he’s one of Babylon 5 actors who died well before they should’ve. (Died 2012.)
Born May 6, 1961 — Carlos Lauchu, 61. Anubis, the captain of Ra’s personal guard, in the original Stargate film. His only other genre acting was two appearances in the Monsters anthology series.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro has Superman explaining why you can’t afford to be subtle in comics.
It’s not every day that one can write a sentence that reasonably connects the Fox animated series “Bob’s Burgers,” the House of Terror museum of fascist and communist regimes in Hungary, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe — but in 2022, anything is possible.
Let’s back up. Ever since the Marvel Studios series “Moon Knight” debuted on Disney+ on March 30, eagle-eyed viewers have noticed a series of semi-conspicuous QR codes in the background of scenes in the first, second and fifth episodes of the show. Scanning the codes sends viewers to a special website that contains a weekly free web comic featuring the Moon Knight character through the run of the show, from his first appearance in 1975 through his most recent issue in 2019.
It’s a savvy way to expand viewers’ comic book knowledge for a character even serious Marvel fans may never have read, and it’s been wildly successful: According to Disney, the landing page has been visited over 1.5 million times, leading to over 500,000 full comics read to date…
(13) DOUBLE-CROSSOVER. [Item by Danny Sichel.] in 2004, KC Carlson compiled an Oral History of the JLA/Avengers crossover from the early 80s. The one that was never published. The Oral History wasn’t published either — possibly because it presents a rather unpleasant image of many of the people involved. But now here it is. At Comics Beat:
George Pérez: “It just ended up being one thing after another — accusations both from DC and Marvel towards each other — until I realized there was a lot more private politics that seemed to be going on which were killing the book I really wanted to work on. After a while I became very bitter about the entire thing. It was never more apparent to me that, as much as I love drawing comics, it’s still a business, and politics and petty squabbles can kill a project, even such a potential money-maker.” — Modern Masters Volume 2: George Pérez, 2003
George nailed it. If there ever was a single comics project that embodied company politics, petty squabbles, and flying accusations, it was the original JLA/Avengers crossover, scheduled to be jointly published between Marvel Comics and DC Comics in the summer of 1983 — the fifth in a series of highly successful team-ups. Pairing the legendary Justice League of America (JLA) and the mighty Avengers, this project would include virtually all of the quintessential characters from the two companies’ lineups….
George Pérez: “I had been drawing for two weeks and was already starting page 21, when I received a call from Len Wein saying they needed to find out what changes I was making in the plot. (DC staffer) Joey Cavalieri had to do a piecemeal plot based on things I had changed — ideas, if not actual explanations — since I hadn’t quite worked out everything as I was going along yet.” — Comics Interview #6, August 1983
Gerry Conway, unwilling to do another draft of the plot, leaves the project at this point. Cavalieri, in consultation with Perez and Wein, cobbles together a new plot — draft #3 — and Giordano rushes it into Shooter’s hands….
… The introduction to the collection is a quick summary of the rise of a totalitarian regime, New Dawn, whose control over society was possible because “we accepted their offer that an eye in the sky might protect us from… ourselves.” With the assurance of total visibility, an immediate problem emerged regarding privacy and deviancy, and the regime decided that “what they struggled to see, they began to deem not worthy of being seen—inconsistent, off standard. Began calling it dirty—unfit to be swallowed by their eyes.”
In the backstory that this introduction presents, the new social category of the dirty started being applied to modes of thought and identity that did not fit the rigid standards of the regime. The stories that compose this collection explore various characters’ struggle to reclaim, preserve, and even celebrate the dirty….
Part of the first episode of the new series, titled “Strange New Worlds” itself, sees the Enterprise’s Captain Pike (Anson Mount), Lt. Spock (Ethan Peck), and Lt. Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) beam down to an alien world, Kiley 279, in an attempt to recover missing Starfleet officers in the wake of a First Contact meeting. The trio arrives to find the world a pre-warp civilization being torn apart by a conflict between the planetary government and a local uprising…
…Shortly after the away team lands on Kiley 279, they come across a crowd of civilians watching a news broadcast on an outside monitor, discussing an overnight series of protests taking place across the Kiley civilization. However, the footage shown is from much closer to our home than the world of Star Trek: it’s footage taken during the late 2013-early 2014 civil unrest in Ukraine known as “Euromaidan,” or the Maidan Uprising.
…Footage from the Maidan Uprising is not the only archival protest footage used in the episode—later on in the episode, Captain Pike shows the Kiley 279 government a selection of footage from Earth’s history as a precedent to World War III in Star Trek’s timeline, notably using footage from the January 6th 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol as Pike draws a direct line between a “second Civil War, and then the Eugenics War, and then finally just World War III.”…
…Further, IHOP has a new point-of-sale system that streamlines orders across channels and a franchisee is also testing a robot that can deliver food to guests and bus tables. Robotic servers are starting to pop up across the casual dining segment, including at Denny’s and Chili’s, the latter of which just expanded deployment to 51 more restaurants.
It’s too early to tell if such an approach is worth a broader rollout. Peyton did say, however, that the robot makes servers more productive and efficient and “guests and kids think it’s super cool.”
“Also, borrowing from QSR, we’re testing a robotic arm that can work the fryer station,” he said. “If we have one less cook in the kitchen, this can help them be more efficient and productive.”…
This is ESP_073055_1675 from HiRISE camera onboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Frame height is approximately 1km taken from an orbit height of 250km. Source was denoised, blended, graded, rescaled & animated to create the footage. HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) is the most powerful camera ever sent to another planet, one of six instruments onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The color you see in HiRISE images is not the “true” color human eyes would see on Mars. This is because the HiRISE camera views Mars in a different part of the spectrum than human eyes do. The camera has three different color filtered CCDs: red, blue-green, and near-infrared. False color imagery is extremely valuable because it illuminates the distinction between different materials and textures.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, Andrew (Not Werdna), Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
…Now, as a quick aside, I do want to remind us all that there is a difference between an antagonist and a villain. Just as there is a difference between ahero and a protagonist. Someone that is acting in opposition to a protagonist is not automatically a villain. They are an antagonist. Merely being opposed to a primary character is not an automatic trait of villainy. In fact, even the definitions of these two terms note the difference. An antagonist is one who opposes the protagonist of a story and acts as an obstacle, but that is the limit. A villain on the other hand, is a character who’s evil motivations are integral to the plot.
And yes, the definition does include the term “evil” there. A villain may have ambiguous reasons (for example, Thanos), but there is no doubt that what they are doing is wrong in some awful fashion, and their aims are more than just being an obstacle to the protagonist.
In other words, it’s like the old logic puzzle or play we all encountered in grade-school: Some antagonists are villains, and some villains are antagonists, but not all antagonists are villains, and not all villains are antagonists….
Singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon has had the idea of adapting Octavia Butler’s 1993 novel, “Parable of the Sower,” as a folk opera since the late 1990s. But recently, she’s felt a new sense of urgency. More and more, Reagon says, the book’s prophecy of a dystopian future seems to resemble our real-life present. That’s why the Washington-raised, Brooklyn-based artist pushed to take the show on a national tour, which stops at the Strathmore Music Center for two performances on April 28 and 29.
“When I looked at Octavia’s timeline, I realized that her story starts in 2024, when slavery is starting up again,” Reagon says in a phone interview. “The government is giving up on being a good government, and fires and droughts are ravaging the environment. That’s not so different than what’s on the news. It’s an emergency; we all have to do something in our communities to stop that from happening. I felt like we have to get this show out there before it’s too late.”
“In The Memory Librarian there is a threat of censorship and I feel like that’s happening right now,” Monáe explains. “When you look at them trying to take critical race theory out of schools. Nobody wants to talk about slavery if it upsets a child, so they say. In Florida, they’re not wanting to even talk about the LGBTQIA and how these kids are identifying. That is a censorship that is happening now. It happens in The Memory Librarian, the protagonists are from marginalized communities. They do rebel. They do fight against it. It is going to be this book that predicts a potential future where the current sh-t we’re trying to ban is amplified in a way that our characters are fighting for the ability to live in our truth and to be seen in a nation’s larger story.”
The latest poster for Ms. Marvelcontains fans’ best look yet at Kamala Khan’s superhero threads.
The image, which depicts the titular hero surrounded by her friends and family, highlights Kamala’s crime-fighting threads. Fans of the character will undoubtedly recognize her iconic design, including the blue mask that covers her face and the long red scarf which dangles around her shoulders. While it’s currently unknown how the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Ms. Marvel comes into possession of her costume, the source material sees her creating it herself by modifying a burkini. At the very center of the image, Kamala can be seen sitting on a street light, a homage to both the series’ original poster and the cover of Ms. Marvel #5 which was created by artist Adrian Alphona.
The new poster also highlights the various characters in Ms. Marvel’s life that either aid or hinder her superhero adventures. Kamala’s closest friends Bruno Carrelli and Nakia Bahadir (Matt Lintz and Yasmeen Fletcher, respectively) can be seen on the bottom left while her overprotective brother Amir, played by Saagar Shaikh, takes a prevalent spot on the right. It’s worth noting that Kamran, who acted as Kamala’s crush and love-interest with ulterior motives in the comics, is also highlighted on the poster.
…Created by Tim Miller and David Fincher, Love, Death + Robots invites different teams of artists and screenwriters to produce short stories about fantastic discoveries, distant corners of the galaxy, or surreal events. Some episodes of the previous volumes were horror stories, while others were straight-out comedies. While this variation makes each volume unbalanced, with some stories stealing the spotlight, that’s also what allows fans to explore a diverse set of creative narratives….
The six-episode SiriusXM podcast series titled “Marvel’s Squirrel Girl: The Unbeatable Radio Show,” which stars Milana Vayntrub of AT&T-ad fame as Doreen Green/Squirrel Girl and is written by North, debuted across multiple platforms on Monday. The podcast is produced by Radio Point, the podcast arm of “I Think You Should Leave” and “Life & Beth” production company Irony Point.
…Here’s the official description for the “Squirrel Girl” podcast: “Squirrel Girl has taken down Thanos and Doctor Doom — but now she faces something far more terrifying… living authentically. The new series follows Empire State University college student, Doreen Green, who has recently been outed as a super hero — The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl! Hoping to unify her personas in the public eye, Squirrel Girl has created a new student radio show on ESU’s own college station…
According to Marvel’s press release:
The first episode of Marvel’s Squirrel Girl: The Unbeatable Radio Show! is available now on all podcast platforms. Fans can also get early access to next week’s episode starting today via the SXM App or by subscribing to Marvel Podcasts Unlimited on Apple Podcasts, which also has exclusive bonus content! Future episodes will be available exclusively via the SXM App and Marvel Podcasts Unlimited for one week before being available widely on Pandora, Stitcher, and all major podcast platforms in the U.S. Learn more at Marvel.com/SquirrelGirlPodcast.
(7) ASK ERICKSON ANYTHING. Severance writer Dan Erickson announced on Twitter that he will be doing a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) Thursday, April 21, 2022 at 12 PM PST to 1 PM PST.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1985 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Back in the summer of ‘20, I looked here at the first publication of Angela Carter’s “The Company of Wolves” short story in the Bananas literary zine where J.G. Ballard, Sara Maitland and John Sladek were the other writers present. (Copies of that zine are readily available as Meredith moments at online booksellers. The story itself is in The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories.) The Company Of Wolves film premiered in the States thirty-seven years ago on this date.
The screenplay was written by Carter and Neil Patrick Jordan, an Irish film director, screenwriter, novelist and short-story writer who I’ll praise for his later High Spirits film he directed and wrote. Carter would also write the screenplays for The Bloody Chamber and The Magic Toyshop films which I didn’t know exist.
Did you know there’s a film on her, Angela Carter: Of Wolves & Women? I need to see this. Really I do.
The film was directed by Jordan was produced by Chris Brown and Stephen Woolley. The latter would be responsible for producing Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and was the producer of the aforementioned High Spirits.
It had an amazing cast: Sarah Patterson was Rosaleen, Angela Lansbury was Granny, David Warner was Father, Tusse Silberg was Mother, Micha Bergese was The Huntsman, Brian Glover was The Amorous Boy’s Father, Graham Crowden was The Old Priest, Kathryn Pogson was The Young Bride, Stephen Rea as The Young Groom and Georgia Slowe was Alice, The Girl Killed by Wolves. Note the only two performers have personal names, Carter is using archetypes here.
So how was the reception for the horror film? Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times was quite impressed saying it was a “disturbing and stylish attempt to collect some of the nightmares that lie beneath the surface of “‘Little Red Riding Hood’”. And the anonymous TV Guide reviewer riffs on the erotic nature of Angela Carter’s story: “ The most innovative, intelligent, and visually sumptuous horror film of recent years. Not a traditional werewolf movie, this film explores the psychosexual undercurrents of the classic “Little Red Riding Hood” fairy tale. Taking place almost entirely in the troubled dreams of 13-year-old Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson), the film takes the viewer deep into the archetypal, erotically charged realm of fairy stories.”
The film would win a British Science Fiction Award for Best Media. And the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes are rather fond of giving a seventy three percent rating.
The film is available for purchase digitally off Amazon but not ITunes. Huh.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 19, 1925 — Hugh O’Brian. He was Harry Chamberlain in Rocketship X-M which you can see here. (It was nominated in the 1951 Retro Hugo Awards given at The Millennium Philcon but lost out to Destination Moon.) He would later play Hugh Lockwood in Probe, not the Asimov Probe, the pilot for the sf TV series Search. His only other genre appearance I think was playing five different roles on Fantasy Island. (Died 2016.)
Born April 19, 1935 — Herman Zimmerman, 87. He was the art director and production designer who worked between 1987 and 2005 for the Trek franchise. Excepting Voyager, in that era he worked on all other live-action productions including the first season of Next Gen, the entire runs of Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, as well as six Trek films. As Memory Alpha notes, “Together with Rick Sternbach he designed the space station Deep Space 9, with John Eaves the USS Enterprise-B and the USS Enterprise-E. His most recognizable work though, have been his (co-)designs for nearly all of the standing sets, those of the bridge, Main Engineering (co-designed with Andrew Probert) and Ten Forward for the USS Enterprise-D in particular.” Not surprisingly, he co-wrote the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual with Rick Sternbach and Doug Drexler.
Born April 19, 1946 — Tim Curry, 76. Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, of course, but it’s not his first genre appearance. He’d appeared a year earlier at the Scottish Opera in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Puck. And yes, I know that he appeared in the live show which was at the Chelsea Classic Cinema and other venues before the film was done. Other genre appearances include playing Darkness in Legend, an outstanding Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers (1993), a most excellent genre film, Farley Claymore in The Shadow (great role), another superb performance playing Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island and in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as The Player.
Born April 19, 1952 — Mark Rogers. He’s probably best known for writing and illustrating the Adventures of Samurai Cat series, a most excellent affair. His debut fantasy novel Zorachus was followed by The Nightmare of God sequel. His novella “The Runestone” was adapted as a film of the same name. And his art is collected in Nothing But a Smile: The Pinup Art of Mark Rogers and The Art of Fantasy. (Died 2014.)
Born April 19, 1967 — Steven H Silver, 55. Fan and publisher, author, and editor. He has been nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twelve times and Best Fanzine seven times. In 1995 he founded the Sidewise Award for Alternate History and has served as a judge ever since. He has published the fanzine, Argentus, edited several issues of the Hugo-nominated Journey Planet. His debut novel After Hastings came out in 2020.
Born April 19, 1978 — K. Tempest Bradford, 44. She was a non-fiction and managing editor with Fantasy Magazine for several years, and has edited fiction for Fortean Bureau, Peridot Books and Sybil’s Garage. She’s written a lot of short fiction and her first YA novel, Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion, is coming out this autumn. She was a finalist last year for two Ignyte Awards, the Ember Award for unsung contributions to genre and the Community Award for Outstanding Efforts in Service of Inclusion and Equitable Practice in Genre.
Born April 19, 1981 — Hayden Christensen, 41. Anakin Skywalker in Attack of the Clones, Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith. And Christensen also plays Vader in his suit in the latter. He later has a voice cameo in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. In the forthcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney +, he’s Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader.
…And that’s where the alarm bells ring in the ears of Trekkies. W.L. Clingan is mentioned in several episodes of Dragnet 1967. In this particular case, he is played by Dennis McCarthy. That’s him with the white coat and gray hair in the top picture.
It just so happens this character was based on a real Los Angeles police officer, Wilbur Lee Clingan. He worked for the LAPD and the Pasadena police department for three decades. He was also, reportedly, a consultant on Dragnet. Which would explain the little nod Jack Webb worked into his TV show.
In his LAPD days, Clingan happened to work with a young man named Gene Roddenberry. Roddenberry’s pop was a cop and he had followed his dad’s footsteps in the LAPD. Roddenberry first worked in the traffic division before ending up penning speeches for the chief of police in the Public Information department….
The first all-private mission to the International Space Station is slated to complete the final leg of its journey this week, capping off what will be about a 12-day, multimillion-dollar journey.
The mission, called AX-1, was brokered by the Houston, Texas-based startup Axiom Space, which books rocket rides, provides all the necessary training, and coordinates flights to the ISS for anyone who can afford it. The mission has set off yet another round of debate about whether people who pay their way to space should be referred to as “astronauts,” though it should be noted a trip to the ISS requires a far larger investment of both time and money than taking a brief suborbital ride on a rocket built by companies like Blue Origin or Virgin Galactic.
The four crew members — Michael Lopez-Alegría, a former NASA astronaut turned Axiom employee who is commanding the mission; Israeli businessman Eytan Stibbe; Canadian investor Mark Pathy; and Ohio-based real estate magnate Larry Connor — are slated to leave the space station aboard their SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on Tuesday around 10:00 pm ET….
…Tegan and Ace will join the 13th Doctor in the special episode being broadcast this autumn.
The news was revealed in a trailer that followed the show’s Easter special.
The short teaser also revealed that the episode will feature the Doctor’s arch enemy The Master (Sacha Dhawan) and two of her most famous foes, the Daleks and the Cybermen….
(14) CLUELESS ON THE BBC. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This is only very vaguely genre adjacent (it does at times get surreal) and so may not be of that much interest to Filers unless they are into British humour such as Python. I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue is a long-running radio show that has this weekend celebrated half a century of being on air. It is a comedy panel show with silly games. For example, in a game giving a dictionary definition what would be the definition of ‘cabaret’? Answer: ‘taxi rank’. (Cab-array’ – get it?).
If you like silliness like such word play or games such as ‘singing one song to the tune of another’ or ‘verbal charades’ (well, it is a radio show) then you can download an .mp3 from BBC Sounds and you’ll gain an insight into British culture. “50 Years Without a Clue”.
(15) FREQUENCY 13. Or you might like to listen to “Doctor Who: Redacted – 1. SOS” at BBC Sounds. It’s an Thirteenth Doctor audio drama with Jodi. And yes, you can hear in the States.
Cleo, Abby and Shawna make The Blue Box Files – a podcast about their favourite conspiracy theory: is this one random blue box actually a spaceship? This week they discuss shady pharmaceutical company Adipose Industries. But things get a bit real when they start hearing about a mysterious figure called ‘the Doctor’.
The uncanny resemblance between features on Europa’s frozen surface and a landform in Greenland that sits atop a sizable pocket of water are providing intriguing new indications that this moon of Jupiter may be capable of harboring life.
A study published on Tuesday explored similarities between elongated landforms called double ridges that look like huge gashes across Europa’s surface and a smaller version in Greenland examined using ice-penetrating radar.
Double ridges are linear, with two peaks and a central trough between them.
“If you sliced through one and looked at the cross section, it would look a bit like the capital letter ‘M,'” said Stanford University geophysicist Riley Culberg, lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Communications.
Radar data showed that refreezing of liquid subsurface water drove the formation of Greenland’s double ridge. If Europa’s features form the same way, this could signal the presence of copious amounts of liquid water – a key ingredient for life – near the surface of this Jovian moon’s thick outer ice shell….
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands,” Fandom Games says this is “a generic role-playing game that can be gently described as a parody of Dungeons and Dragons” and that Tiny Tina is “one of the most irritating characters in the history of video-game making.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Bill, Will R., Nickpheas, Ben Bird Person, John A Arkansawyer, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Cat Eldridge, 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 Daniel Dern.]
(1) SUPPORT THE CLARION “GHOST CLASS”. The pandemic forced the Clarion Writers’ Workshop to be postponed to 2022 – with the result that the “ghost class” accepted for 2020 has had to wait two years to attend. Clarion has been working on getting them additional scholarship support, including a generous grant from the SFWA Givers Fund. However, the Ghost Class is also launching a team fundraiser to support members of their class who have additional needs. The Indiegogo to “Help 18 sci-fi & fantasy writers go to Clarion” has raised $1,360 of its $19,000 goal with 28 days remaining.
A message from the Ghost Class: Getting accepted to Clarion in 2020 was a dream come true for each of us. Then…2020 happened. Over the past two years, we’ve lost jobs, changed careers, had babies, cared for and lost loved ones, and moved between states, countries — even continents. We’ve also gotten to know each other online, supporting each other through all the rejections and acceptances and “unprecedented times.”
Now Clarion is finally back on, and we’re determined to make sure all of us can afford to go. Instead of running our own individual fundraisers, we decided to combine forces and try to raise an extra $1000 each toward tuition for all 18 of us. Those of us who don’t need as much will donate back to a pool for those who need a little more. And if we raise more than we need, we might even be able to help fund future Clarion attendees.
How can you help? 1. Donate to our fundraiser. Every small amount helps! 2. Share our fundraiser page to all your social media accounts today. (Now is the perfect time to help us build momentum!) 3. Order one of our perks. We’re offering editing services, story feedback, workshops, artwork, and more on the fundraiser page, check them out!
Those of us who’ve run successful fundraisers like this before know how important it is to get early momentum from contributors like you, so thank you, truly, from the bottom of our ghostly hearts!
– The 20202021 2022 Clarion UCSD Ghost Class
(2) RENDEZVOUS ALONG THE WAY. Janelle Monáe will be joined by several of her collaborators at the stops on her upcoming book tour for The Memory Librarian from HarperCollins. They include Sheree Renée Thomas and Alaya Dawn Johnson.
In The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer, singer-songwriter, actor, fashion icon, futurist, and worldwide superstar Janelle Monáe and an esteemed cohort of collaborating writers bring to the written page the Afrofuturistic world of her critically acclaimed album, exploring how different threads of liberation — queerness, race, gender plurality and love—become tangled with future possibilities of memory and time in such a totalitarian landscape … and what the costs might be when trying to unravel and weave them into freedoms.
(3) RUSSIA RETALIATES AGAINST SANCTIONS. The Kidscreen headline says “Russia strikes at Peppa Pig in copyright battle” but as Craig Miller explains on Facebook, “[The article] spells out a Russian counter to all of the international economic sanctions being put in place because of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The Russian government has declared that trademarks, copyrights, and patents from countries they have deemed ‘unfriendly’ can be ignored and Russian companies and people can steal and bootleg all they want.”
Peppa Pig has gotten caught up in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the development could have implications for other entertainment IPs.
eOne’s billion-dollar franchise has found itself at the heart of a Russian retaliatory strategy against economic sanctions. A Russian court has dismissed a case that eOne brought last year against a local entrepreneur who allegedly used the Peppa Pig trademark without permission. And the government has now doubled down on the ruling with its own decree allowing patented inventions and designs to be used without permission or compensation.
The decree opens the door to copyright infringement of brands from many territories that Russia has deemed to be unfriendly in recent weeks, including Australia, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, the US, Japan and Switzerland. However, it’s likely that Russian companies will use the new rule change to stock up on devices, technologies and (in the case of the entertainment industry) kids content, which could be in short supply amid all the sanctions, according to a statement from Chicago-based law firm Baker McKenzie.…
The second book in our series, Sticking it to the Man, originally included material on radical science fiction but the length of the book completely blew out and our publisher insisted we shorten it. It was at this point that my co-editor, Iain McIntyre, and I realised we had the makings of a third book – on radical science and speculative fiction. We pitched the idea to our publisher, and they were very receptive. With the high/low culture, hardback/paperback, literary/pulp distinctions particularly blurred with sci-fi, and a huge range of authors and works to choose from, we certainly had no trouble finding enough material for book-length treatment of the subject. Indeed, Dangerous Visions and New Worlds could have been twice as long, and we still would not have been able to cover everything.
Lee, 33, had signed up for Ukraine’s territorial defence force in the first days of the war.
A resident of Irpin, he appeared in several films and his voice featured in the Ukrainian versions of The Lion King and The Hobbit….
Pavlo Li, as the actor was formally known, was born in Crimea in 1988 and had recently begun presenting a show on Dom TV, a Ukrainian channel originally aimed at audiences in the eastern areas seized by Russian-backed separatists in 2014.
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1994 — [Item by Cat Eldridge] Thirty-eight years ago the Robocop series was first broadcast on this date in the United Kingdom. (It would be four days more before it was broadcast in the States.) Stripped largely of the violence and cynicism of the film that it was based on, it was intended to appeal to children and young adults.
Here Richard Eden is Murphy / RoboCop. And given its target audience, playing a prominent role is Sarah Campbell as Gadget, an eight year-old girl. Certain characters in the film are rejiggered into new characters, i.e. Anne Lewis becomes Lisa Madigan.
It lasted but twenty-two episodes over one season. Cancellation was actually announced part way into the season.
So how was reception for it? The Variety review at the time said of it at that time that the, “Series has a good chance of succeeding because, on the basis of the opener, it’s brave enough to amuse instead of intimidate. There’s a lesson there.” And the Houston Chronicle like it quite a bit saying it “works well as a mass-market show. … It offers action, as opposed to violence. And its ironic humor, though not as hard-edged as the movies’, has a sly, subversive bent.” Finally word goes to the Boston Globe: “This is a far campier and cartoonier RoboCop than the original. Even when the wit is blunt, the writing is snappy; and the acting is just broad enough to poke a little fun at itself.”
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 14, 1918 — Mildred Clingerman. Most of her stories were published in the Fifties in F&SF when Boucher was Editor. Boucher included “The Wild Wood” by her in the seventh volume of The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction and dedicated the book to her, calling her the “most serendipitous of discoveries.” A Cupful of Space and The Clingerman Files, neither available as a digital publication, contain all of her stories. (Died 1997.)
Born March 14, 1941 — Wolfgang Petersen, 81. Usually Birthdays are reserved for individuals with longer genre records but he’s responsible as director for two of my favorite films, Enemy Mine and The NeverEnding Story. He also produced The Bicentennial Man. If you look carefully, you’ll see him in The NeverEnding Story as the man who drops milk in one scene.
Born March 14, 1946 — Diana G. Gallagher. She won a Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist along with Brad W. Foster at Noreascon 3 after being a nominee at Nolacon II the previous year. She won it under the name Diana Gallagher Wu while married to William F. Wu whose Birthday we did yesterday. She was also an author filker and author who wrote books for children and young adults based on Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and various Trek series. Her best-known filksong was “A Reconsideration of Anatomical Docking Maneuvers in a Zero Gravity Environment.” (Died 2021.)
Born March 14, 1961 — Penny Johnson Jerald, 62. She played Kasidy Yates, the love of Ben Sisko, on Deep Space Nine. She’s now playing Dr. Claire Finn on Orville, just one of many Trek cast member that you’ll find there. And she provided the voice of President Amanda Waller on the most excellent Justice League: Gods & Monsters.
Born March 14, 1964 — Julia Ecklar, 58. She’s the Astounding Award–winning author for The Kobayashi Maru which is available in English and German ebook editions. She’s also a filk musician who recorded numerous albums in the Off Centaur label in the early 1980s, including Horse-Tamer’s Daughter, Minus Ten and Counting, and Genesis. She was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 1996.
Born March 14, 1957 — Tad Williams, 65. Author of the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, Otherland series, and Shadowmarch series as well as the most excellent Tailchaser’s Song and The War of the Flowers.
Born March 14, 1971 — Rebecca Roanhorse, 51. Her “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™“ which was first published in the August 2017 of Apex Magazine won a Hugo as best short story at Worldcon 76. (It won a Nebula as well.) She also won the Astounding Award for the same work for Best New Writer. She has five novels to date, including Trail of Lightning which was nominated for a Hugo at Dublin 2019, and Black Sun, being nominated for a Hugo at DisCon III.
Born March 14, 1974 — Grace Park, 48. Boomer on the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. She’s been on a fair amount of genre over the years with her first acting role being the Virtual Avatar in the “Bits of Love” episode of Outer Limits. After that, she shows up on Secret Agent Man, This Immortal, The Outer Limits again, Star Gate SG-1, Andromeda, and oddly enough Battlestar Galactica in a number roles other than her main one. I’m sure one of you can explain the latter. I confess that I’ve not watched it.
(9) COFFEE BREAK’S OVER. [Item by Olav Rokne.] To be honest, the headline of this spoof article is better than the content, but it’s worth sharing if only for this line: “After a very long week in theatres, there’s only one question on people’s minds, who is going to play Batman next?” “Batman has been out for a week, isn’t it time for a reboot?” at The Beaverton.
The “Boba Fett” series is rad, but what about the other bounty hunters we saw momentarily in “The Empire Strikes Back”? Like this guy, who looks like the costume budget ran out and so they just wrapped a towel around his head. Doesn’t he deserve his own streaming series or something?…
Ukrainian artist Vlad Legostaev is teaming up with Declan Shalvey and Rory McConville for two connecting Time Before Time covers—the proceeds for which will go toward supporting Ukrainian Red Cross relief efforts.
“With Time Before Time we always ask great exciting artists to provide B covers for the series. We recently asked the hugely talented Vlad Legostaev to provide a wonderful connecting cover for an exciting 2-part story by Rory McConville and Ron Salas,” said Shalvey. “Unfortunately since then, Vlad’s home country has suffered true horrors, so, with Vlad’s permission, we decided to use his art to try to raise money for those suffering in Ukraine. So now, the proceeds from Vlad’s B cover for Time Before Time #13 and 14 will be donated to the Ukrainian Red Cross. We hope Vlad’s art can help his homeland, in some small way.”
In the Time Before Time series, to escape a world with no future, many turn to the Syndicate—a criminal organization that, for the right price, will smuggle you back in time to the promise of a better yesterday.
Time Before Time #13 and Time Before Time #14 will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, June 8 and Wednesday, July 6, respectively:
Time Before Time #13 Cover B by Legostaev – Diamond Code APR220254
Time Before Time #14 Cover B by Legostaev – Diamond Code JAN229189
(12) SADDLE UP. Are you a fan of Western fiction and nonfiction? The Western Writers of America have announced the 2022 Spur Award winners. The complete list is at the link.
David Heska Wanbli Weiden is getting his fourth Spur Award in three years, and bestselling novelists Michael Punke and C.J. Box are also 2022 winners. Presentations to winners and finalists are scheduled for June 22-25 during WWA’s convention in Great Falls, Mont….
… While the crust of our planet is relatively cool, the interior is very warm indeed. Tapping this heat to produce electricity has the potential to provide a practically limitless amount of clean energy to the masses, that is, at least, if we can actually reach it.
Now though, energy company Quaise is hoping to achieve such a feat by combining a megawatt-power gyrotron (which forces atoms to melt together) with the latest state-of-the-art drilling tools to dig deep down into the Earth’s surface and tap this underused source of energy.
The firm hopes to reach depths of over 12 miles and is aiming to produce power within four years….
Universal Studios Hollywood announced its Nintendo-themed land, which is already under construction, will open sometime in 2023. When it does, guests will have the chance to become part of a larger-than-life Nintendo universe.
…Though Universal did not release specific details on which attractions will be in the park, the company did share that the land will feature a “groundbreaking ride and interactive areas,” as well as themed dining and shopping that will make you feel like you’re an actual video game character.
Theme park news site WDWNT has been closely following the construction progress. So far, the only thematic elements visible in construction photos are the iconic green hills Nintendo fans will easily recognize. It’s hard to determine exactly which rides are being built, but the attractions are expected to be similar to those at Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Japan.
This includes Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge, a real-life Mario Kart race that uses augmented reality (in the form of Mario-themed glasses), projection mapping and screen projections to make favorite Mario Kart courses come to life; and Yoshi’s Adventure, a slow-moving ride where guests can fulfill their childhood fantasy of hopping on Yoshi’s back and going for a spin around the Mushroom Kingdom….
[Thanks to John King “Pie Day” Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Olav Rokne, James Bacon, Alan Baumler, Daniel Dern, Craig Miller, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) VIRTUAL BALTICON IN-PROGRESS REPORT. The Sunday Edition of the Virtual Balticon 54 Newsletter Rocketmail, which can be downloaded here, says the total unique attendance on Zoom for all of Friday was 1,343 and on Saturday 2,787 people. This does not count the fans participating on other platforms. The newsletter also contains Masquerade participant info, and fundraising totals.
Balticon runs through tomorrow, and you can access it in a variety of ways. Dale S. Arnold explains:
You can of course continue/start enjoying the Virtual Balticon 54 by going to WWW.balticon.org and choosing links off the schedule and or links on the platform page. You can ghost by just watching the YouTube and Twitch feeds which stream the items each hour that the most people signed up for participating on that item in zoom if you prefer not to register on zoom as well…. Programs continue all the way through Monday…
However, they are running a GoFundMe to pay the virtual freight.
For the record as of 5:20 AM on 5/24/20 the total GoFundMe donations are at $11,065.00 gifted by the generous fans that are making Virtual Balticon 54 possible. An additional $495.00 has come into the BSFS paypal account during the GoFundMe campaign by folks who did not want to use GoFundMe using the http://www.bsfs.org/donate.htm link. The BSFS treasurer reports that “almost” $2,000.00 has also been received as checks and or people donating their B45 memberships instead of taking a refund.
(2) FANFIC DISPUTE GOES TO COURT. There’s a lawsuit in progress over reuse of fanfic tropes in commercial genre fic. It could have repercussions well beyond hyper-niche erotica. The New York Times devotes a long article to the litigation: “A Feud in Wolf-Kink Erotica Raises a Deep Legal Question”.
…Then, in 2018, Ms. Cain heard about an up-and-coming fantasy writer with the pen name Zoey Ellis, who had published an erotic fantasy series with a premise that sounded awfully familiar. It featured an Alpha and Omega couple, and lots of lupine sex.
…Ms. Cain urged Blushing Books to do something. The publisher sent copyright violation notices to more than half a dozen online retailers, alleging that Ms. Ellis’s story was “a copy” with scenes that were “almost identical to Addison Cain’s book.”
… “You have to make sure you use the tropes of Omegaverse in order to be recognized by fans of the genre,” Ms. Ellis said. “Crave to Conquer” and its sequel, “Crave to Capture,” were published in early 2018 by Quill Ink Books, a London company she founded. Readers gave the series glowing reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, calling it “sensational new Omegaverse!” and the “best Omega yet.”
In late April 2018, Ms. Ellis got an email from a reader who had ordered one of her books from Barnes & Noble, then learned that it wasn’t available anymore. She soon discovered that all of her Omegaverse books had disappeared from major stores, all because of a claim of copyright infringement from Ms. Cain and her publisher. Ms. Ellis found it bewildering.
“I couldn’t see how a story I had written using recognized tropes from a shared universe, to tell a story that was quite different than anything else out there commercially, could be targeted in that way,” Ms. Ellis said. “There are moments and scenarios that seem almost identical, but it’s a trope that can be found in hundreds of stories.”
A lawyer for Ms. Ellis and Quill filed counter-notices to websites that had removed her books. Some took weeks to restore the titles; others took months. There was no way to recover the lost sales. “As a new author, I was building momentum, and that momentum was lost,” Ms. Ellis said. And she worried that the “plagiarist” label would permanently mar her reputation.
Ms. Ellis decided to sue. “Everything would have been in question, my integrity would have been questioned, my ability to write and tell stories — all of that would have been under threat if I didn’t challenge these claims,” she said.
In the fall of 2018, Quill Ink filed against Blushing Books and Ms. Cain in federal court in Oklahoma, where Ms. Ellis’s digital distributor is based, seeking $1.25 million in damages for defamation, interfering with Ms. Ellis’s career, and for filing false copyright infringement notices. In the suit, Quill’s lawyers argued that “no one owns the ‘omegaverse’ or the various tropes that define ‘omegaverse.’”
Ms. Ellis’s lawyers thought they had a strong position. But they struggled to find a prior case that addressed whether fan fiction tropes could be protected by copyright….
The biggest development in the case so far is that Blushing Books has left Ms. Cain to contest the matter alone. Last year, the publisher conceded that no plagiarism or copyright infringement had occurred, and a judgment was entered against the company, which paid undisclosed monetary damages to Quill and Ms. Ellis. (Ms. Cain is now self-publishing.)
Ms. Ellis and her publishing company filed a new civil suit against Ms. Cain in her home state of Virginia, arguing that she maliciously directed her publisher to send false copyright infringement notices to retailers. Ms. Cain’s lawyers have denied the claims, and have lined up authors, bloggers and readers as witnesses.
If the judge, or a jury, finds Ms. Cain in the wrong, the case would send a message to overzealous genre writers that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is not to be abused. By the same token, authors of genuinely original stories might find they have one fewer legal lever to protect their work. And a victory by Ms. Cain could encourage a free-for-all, emboldening authors to knock back competitors and formally assert their ownership of swaths of the fan fiction universe and common tropes in genre fiction.
Discovery is ongoing, and a pretrial conference before a judge is scheduled for June. In the meantime, the Omegaverse continues to thrive. This year, more than 200 new books from the genre have been published on Amazon.
The latest batch draws on virtually every genre and trope imaginable: paranormal shifter romances, paranormal Mpreg romances, reverse harem romances, sci-fi alien warrior romances. There are fantastical Alpha-Omega stories featuring witches, unicorns, dragons, vampires, wolf-shifters, bear-shifters, and wolf-shifters versus bear-shifters. There are comparatively pedestrian Omegaverse romances about celebrity chefs, dentists, frat boys, bakers, bodyguards and billionaires. In a teeming multiverse of stories, the tropes are still evolving, inexhaustible.
… “Many of the folks I selected were rising stars such as David Bowles, Julia Rios and Marcela Davison Aviles,” Picacio said. “The Initiative enhanced their networks, but the vast majority of my picks were much newer talents to the field. The industry badly needs their cultural perspective and their voice right now.”
This is the most comprehensive collection of African speculative fiction authors ever assembled. With the complete bundle containing nearly 100 authors and over 145 works it stands both as an excellent introduction to the rapidly evolving canon of African SF and a unique one-time collection of their works. From established stars you might know such as Nnedi Okorafor, Tade Thompson, and Sarah Lotz, to upcomers like Wole Talabi, Chinelo Onwualu, Nerine Dorman, Dilman Dila, and so many more.
The road to this bundle has been paved by the work of countless African writers, editors, publishers, and most importantly readers. For too long was the African experience, imagination, and insight, held captive and until relatively recently only glimpsed through the thick lens of other cultures and their inherent biases. In a big way this is what the new wave of African Speculative Fiction is about: telling our own stories, revealing our vibrant cultures from within, sharing our unique perspectives, and writing ourselves into futures that for so long seemed to spell our doom by virtue of our absence.
[Sam] Esmail says he never planned to helm the series himself. “I’m a huge fan of Ronald Moore’s Battlestar, but I don’t know if I’m great at hard sci-fi like that,” he says. “I love it. I’m a fan of it. But I knew early on that we were going to have to bring somebody in to run the room and to write the scripts.”
He went to explain why the job went to Lesslie, who is best known for the miniseries The Little Drummer Girl. “He’s just a fantastic writer,” Esmail says. “I loved his series, Little Drummer Girl, and the one thing that really struck me about him and his take for Battlestar, one of the reasons I even wanted to do Battlestar, was that the way Ron Moore, what he did with his remake in the early 2000s where it was this sort of hard sci-fi series with lots of action set pieces and really this exciting sci-fi adventure but purely grounded in an allegory of what was going on at the time, which was post-9/11. And it wasn’t that subtle, the links, I would say. But because he was also attuned to the sci-fi nature of the show, you didn’t feel it.
“When I was approached to do Battlestar now, it has to have that same sort of dynamic. It can’t be just a retread of what he already did so masterfully back then. What are we saying about today’s world? And Mike just had this great take, and I’m not going to go into it because obviously, I don’t want to spoil it for fans, but you kind of see it a little bit in Little Drummer Girl where politics plays a big part in it but without compromising the entertainment value, because in my opinion, you’ve got to have that….”
The CW Network has announced that “Superman & Lois” will officially premiere in January, 2021 when the network launches its new season.
…In “Superman & Lois”, after years of facing megalomaniacal supervillains, monsters wreaking havoc on Metropolis, and alien invaders intent on wiping out the human race, the world’s most famous superhero, The Man of Steel aka Clark Kent (Tyler Hoechlin, “Teen Wolf”) and comic books’ most famous journalist, Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch, “Grimm”), come face to face with one of their greatest challenges ever – dealing with all the stress, pressures and complexities that come with being working parents in today’s society. Complicating the already daunting job of raising two boys, Clark and Lois must also concern themselves with whether or not their sons Jonathan (Jordan Elsass, “Little Fires Everywhere”) and Jordan (Alexander Garfin, “The Peanuts Movie”) could inherit their father’s Kryptonian superpowers as they grow older.
Returning to Smallville to handle some Kent family business, Clark and Lois are reacquainted with Lana Lang (Emmanuelle Chriqui, “Entourage”), a local loan officer who also happens to be Clark’s first love, and her Fire Chief husband Kyle Cushing (Erik Valdez, “Graceland”). The adults aren’t the only ones rediscovering old friendships in Smallville as the Kent sons are reacquainted with Lana and Kyle’s rebellious daughter, Sarah (Inde Navarrette, “Wander Darkly”). Of course, there’s never a dull moment in the life of a superhero, especially with Lois’ father, General Samuel Lane (Dylan Walsh, “Nip/Tuck”) looking for Superman to vanquish a villain or save the day at a moment’s notice. Meanwhile, Superman and Lois’ return to idyllic Smallville is set to be upended when a mysterious stranger (Wolé Parks, “All American”) enters their lives.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
May 24, 1957 — Quatermass 2 premiered In the U.K. It was produced by Anthony Hinds, and directed by Val Guest. It’s a sequel to The Quatermass Xperiment. Screenplay was by Nigel Kneale and Val Guest. It stars Brian Donlevy, John Longden, Sid James, Bryan Forbes, Vera Day, and William Franklyn. Like the first film, some critics thought it was a lot of fun, some were less than impressed. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a respectable sixty percent rating.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz!]
Born 24 May 1794 – Rev. Dr. William Whewell. Pronounced “hew-ell”. Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, 1841-1866. Crater on the Moon named after him. Mathematician, Anglican priest, historian of science. Coined the words scientist, physicist, linguistics, osmosis, ion, astigmatism. Royal Medal for organizing thousands of volunteers internationally to study ocean tides. Clifton Fadiman put him here by anthologizing in Fantasia Mathematicathis poem. (Died 1866) [JH]
Born May 24, 1917 – Irving Cox. Five dozen stories in Amazing, Astounding, Cosmos, Fantastic, Future, If, Imagination, Orbit, Rocket Stories, Saturn, SF Adventures, SF Quarterly, SF Stories, Universe – and that’s just some of the prozines we’ve had – translated into French, German, Italian. You can read ten of his stories from 1953-1960 here. (Died 2001) [JH]
Born May 24, 1925 — Carmine Infantino. Comics artist and editor, mostly for DC Comics, during the late 1950s known as the Silver Age of Comics. He created the Silver Age version of the Flash (with writer Robert Kanigher), Deadman with writer Arnold Drake and the Elongated Man (with John Broome). He also introduced Barbara Gordon as a new version of Batgirl. Infantino wrote or contributed to two books about his life and career: The Amazing World of Carmine Infantino (Vanguard Productions and Carmine Infantino: Penciler, Publisher, Provocateur. (Died 2013.) (CE)
Born May 24, 1928 – William Trevor. Whitbread Prize for The Children of Dynmouth, reviewed by Elaine Cochrane in SF Commentary 60/61, p. 26 [PDF]; two more Whitbreads; Hawthornden Prize; Saoi; four O. Henry Awards (not limited to U.S. authors since 2002). (Died 2016) [JH]
Born 24 May 1930 – Terri Pinckard. Stories in Fantasy Book, Vertex; wrote the Introduction to Womanthology (F. Ackerman & P. Keesey eds. 2003). Told the L.A. Times (3 Jun 99) that when we landed on the Moon “I cried. Science fiction writers were the ones who dreamed it.” With husband Tom hosted the Pinckard Salon; Big Heart Award to both, 1984; the Salon drew Ackerman, Bloch, Bradbury, Daugherty, George Clayton Johnson, C.L. Moore, Niven, Pournelle, Roddenberry, Spinrad, and like that. Dian Girard dedicated Tetragravitron (as by J.D. Crayne) to “Members of the Pinckard Salon”. (Died 2005) [JH]
Born May 24, 1935 — W. P. Kinsella. Best I’d say known for his novel Shoeless Joe which was adapted into the movie Field of Dreams, one of the few films that Kevin Costner is a decent actor in, ironic as the other is Bull Durham. Kinsella’s other genre novel is The Iowa Baseball Confederacy and it’s rather less well-known than Shoeless Joe is but it’s excellent. He also edited Baseball Fantastic, an anthology of just what the title says they are. Given that he’s got eighteen collections of short stories listed on his wiki page, I’m reasonably sure his ISFDB page doesn’t come close to listing all his short stories. (Died 2016.) (CE)
Born May 24, 1945 — Graham Williams. He produced three seasons of Doctor Who during Tom Baker’s era as the Fourth Doctor. He’d write a novelization of his story, The Nightmare Fair, developed as a Sixth Doctor story but never filmed when Colin Baker’s contract was terminated. He would die at home of an accident gunshot wound. (Died 1990) (CE)
Born May 24, 1949 — Barry Windsor-Smith, 71. Illustrator and painter, mostly for Marvel Comics. Oh, his work on Conan the Barbarian in the early Seventies was amazing, truly amazing! And then there was the original Weapon X story arc involving Wolverine which still ranks among the best stories told largely because of his artwork. And let’s not forget that he and writer Roy Thomas created Red Sonja as partially based on Howard’s characters Red Sonya of Rogatino and Dark Agnes de Chastillon. (CE)
Born May 24, 1960 — Michael Chabon, 60. Author of the single best fantasy novel about baseball, Summerland which won a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. His other two genre novels, Gentlemen of the Road and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, winner of Best Novel at Denvention 3, are stellar works in themselves. He was Showrunner for the first season of Picard but will be Executive Producer for the upcoming season. (CE)
Born May 24, 1960 — Doug Jones, 60. I first saw him as Abe Sapien on Hellboy, an amazing role indeed. To pick a few of my favorite roles by him, he’s in Pan’s Labyrinth as The Faun and The Pale Man (creepy film), a clown in Batman Returns, the Lead Gentleman in the “Hush” episode of Buffy and Commander Saru on Discovery.
Born May 24, 1965 – Shinichirô Watanabe. Co-directed Macross Plus; directed Cowboy Bebop, alternative-history Samurai Champloo, Space Dandy, Carole & Tuesday. Blade Runner – Black Lotus is in the works. Don’t ask me why my host’s daughter at the Yokohama Worldcon was rehearsing The Magic Flute but I don’t know any of my fellow gaijin rehearsing Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees. [JH]
Born May 24, 1985 – Isabelle Melançon. Drawings in Oziana and The Baum Bugle. Oz found its way into the Webcomic that Isa co-authors, Namesake – or vice versa. Here’s a sketch for Quibbling and even one for Hamilton – will this man write The Federalist? [JH]
A more perfect origin story would’ve had a superheroic tinge. Maybe I’d be sitting in my apartment, on the couch, contemplating how to move safely about Philadelphia when a clatter of glass would erupt and a ball of coronavirus — the size of a grapefruit with the spiny ridge of a porcupine — would bound through my window, roll to my feet and pulse with exhaustion. I’d stare at it and think Yes, father, that is what I will do, I will become an anti-virus. And that would be the reason to don the mask that I now wear daily when I walk my neighborhood.
A week before Britain came to a standstill in mid-March, the Wessex Mill found itself fielding nearly 600 calls a day requesting one of the country’s hottest commodities: flour.
The mill in Oxfordshire has produced nearly 13,000 small bags of flour each day during the coronavirus pandemic, a fourfold increase. Demand led Emily Munsey, a flour miller who runs the business with her father, to hire more staff and add afternoon and night shifts to keep the mill running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the first time in its 125-year history.
“It’s been very challenging as a company. The amount of work we’ve all had to do has increased a huge amount,” said Ms. Munsey, who has since scaled back to five days a week, though still around the clock, to give employees a weekend break. “Demand remains consistently obscene.”
Commercial mills produce nearly four million tons of flour each year in Britain, according to the National Association of British and Irish Flour Millers. With much of the country stuck at home, baking has surged, and retail-size flour bags have become scarce on grocery shelves.
(12) CURTAIN CALL. [Item by JJ.] Anthropomorphic phone — I’m calling it genre.
(13) READING IN THE NEW CAPTAIN. Ted Anthony, in the Associated Press story “Kirk 2.0: Capt. Pike of the New ‘Star Trek’ A Welcome New Icon” says he welcomes Christopher Pike as the captain of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds because he sees James T. Kirk as “an interstellar Don Draper–brooding, arrogant, a top-down manager who earned his privilege but often presumed it” and thinks Pike will be a more responsible captain.
…It’s not accidental that Pike is the son of a father who taught science AND comparative religion — an embodiment of the empiricism-faith equation that “Star Trek” and its captains have always espoused. In many ways, in fact — even more so than Chris Pine in the movie reboots — Pike functions as James T. Kirk 2.0.
…However, George Lucas’ wonderful world of science fiction space opera has also provided the world with a series of timeless movie quotes. “May the Force be with you” has taken on a life of its own and “I am your father” is now a staple of Father’s Day greetings cards. In more recent years, less prominent quotes have come to the fore thanks to the onset of meme culture, “it’s a trap!” being the most famous. Now The Mandalorian is getting in on the act with “this is the way” and “I have spoken.“
But undoubtedly one of the most famous utterances in the Star Wars universe is “I have a bad feeling about this,” …
(15) A WHOLE NEW BALL GAME. As reported last month (item 13), Lou Antontelli is running for Congress in Texas. But this week the district’s Republican incumbent John Ratcliffe resigned his seat to accept appointment as director of National Intelligence. With no incumbent to run against, shit just got real! And at least one Texas paper (besides the one owned by the candidate himself) thinks it’s terrific that Lou Antonelli is running: “Libertarians field viable candidate for District 4 seat”. The question is how well these pearls of wisdom will play with the locals:
… Antonelli said his goal running as a third party candidate is to inject original ideas into the discussion, and push for the Libertarian Party to become the second party in the district, displacing the Democrats.
“Can you imagine how much better our political system would be if the two major parties were the Republicans and Libertarians, instead of the Republicans and Democrats?” Antonelli asked. “Libertarians are the loyal opposition, as opposed to the Democrats, who are the disloyal opposition.”
Antonelli said Libertarians stand for hacking away strangling bureaucracy at all levels of government, and returning as much authority as possible to individuals.
“Thanks to the Covid pandemic, we have all gotten a free trial of socialism,” he said. “How do you like it?”
On 27 May, two US astronauts will achieve a world first when they launch to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a spacecraft built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Here, BBC News profiles the astronauts who will make the historic journey.
Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are about to break a nine-year hiatus for Nasa, becoming the first astronauts to launch from US soil since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.
…”It’s well past time to be launching an American rocket from the Florida coast to the International Space Station and I am certainly honoured to be a part of it,” Hurley, 53, said earlier this month.
Behnken, 49, added: “On my first flight… I didn’t have a son, so I’m really excited to share the mission with him.”
Nasa has chosen two of its most experienced astronauts to help California-based SpaceX ready the Crew Dragon for launch. The two are also longstanding friends.
“Being lucky enough to fly with your best friend… I think there’s a lot of people who wish they could do that,” says Hurley.
When they blast off atop a Falcon 9 rocket, their spouses will know exactly what they are going through. That’s because they’re astronauts too.
On Wednesday, the California company SpaceX will launch a mission to the International Space Station (ISS). It’s something the firm has done many times before, taking cargo to the sky-high laboratory. But on this occasion, the firm will be transporting people.
It’s one of those seminal moments in the history of spaceflight.
When Nasa astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken lift off atop their Falcon-9 rocket, inside their Crew Dragon capsule, it will mark the first time humans have left US territory to reach low-Earth orbit in almost nine years.
But more than that, it sees a shift to the commercialisation of human space transportation – of companies selling “taxi” rides to government and anyone else who wants to purchase the service.
This page details the key phases in the mission sequence.
Launch will occur from the Kennedy Space Center’s Complex 39A. This is the famous Florida pad from where the Apollo 11 moonwalkers and the very first shuttle, Columbia, also began their missions.
…What the duo decided to do was to design a finale that emphasizes character over mystery. “The End” plays out in two realities: the mysterious island where mystical forces and weird science live side-by-side, as well as the “Flash sideways” timeline where Jack and the rest of the castaways were back in the real world, albeit leading different lives than what we saw in the flashback sequences that were a major part of previous seasons. The island-based sequences are explicitly devoted to tying up some, though not all of the loose ends: Jack has a final confrontation with the Man in Black, currently housed in the body of John Locke (Terry O’Quinn); Hurley (Jorge Garcia) becomes the new protector of the island, with Ben Linus (Michael Emerson) as his sidekick; and pilot Frank Lapidus (Jeff Fahey) gets everyone else — including Kate (Lilly), Sawyer (Holloway) and Claire (Emilie de Ravin) — the heck out of dodge. As the plane soars away from the island, a mortally wounded Jack watches it depart from his final resting place as his eyes close, a direct nod to the first shot of the first episode….
…But there is one author who predicted these dumb and absurd times: George Saunders.
The MacArthur “Genius” and Booker Prize-winning Saunders has been publishing darkly hilarious visions of America since the early 1990s. Zadie Smith has said “not since Twain has America produced a satirist this funny” while The New York Times noted “no one writes more powerfully than George Saunders about the lost, the unlucky, the disenfranchised.” Perhaps the archetypal Saunders story is “Sea Oak,” which follows a trod-upon worker at an aviation-themed male strip club called Joysticks: “Guests rank us as Knockout, Honeypie, Adequate, or Stinker. Not that I’m complaining. At least I’m working.” At home, his family lives in a dangerous neighborhood and anesthetizes themselves with reality TV shows like How My Child Died Violently while fantasizing about the American dream, summarized by one character as “you start out in a dangerous craphole and work hard so you can someday move up to a somewhat less dangerous craphole. And finally maybe you get a mansion.”
(21) JANELLE MONÁE. On Late Night with Seth Meyers Janelle Monáe talks about David Byrne using one of her songs in his musical American Utopia, a musical she wrote as a child and her efforts to help communities during the pandemic.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, StephenfromOttawa, Chip Hitchcock, John A Arkansawyer, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]
(1) READ THESE. BBC’s Culture assembled a list of “The
most overlooked recent novels” – “Eight acclaimed authors reveal their favourite hidden
gems outside the literary canon.” There are several sff writers among the
respondents, and sff books among their recommendations.
Helen DeWitt writes: “In the summer of 1994 I was in despair. It seemed to me that books were predictable and unexciting compared with the astonishing variety and inventiveness of art – why bother with a novel? Mooching glumly around a museum bookshop, I came across a book plastered with raves by the likes of Anthony Burgess. I opened to the first page and read: ‘On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Downs…’ It was like nothing I’d ever seen. Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker is set on a post-apocalyptic post-British landmass thousands of years after a nuclear holocaust. All scientific knowledge has been lost, but its traces linger on in a loss-marked language which repurposes the mangled terms to mythology. The book had come out in 1980 to acclaim; I’d never heard of it. And yet this extraordinary book seemed to me to be the equal of The Waste Land; it was embarrassing to have to recommend it to people, as if one were to go about saying ‘I’ve just discovered this amazing poem by someone called TS Eliot.’”
Hoban was an American who lived in Britain. He wrote across genres: fiction, the fantastic, poetry, children’s literature. Anthony Burgess said of Riddley Walker: “This is what literature was meant to be.” Max Porter (see below) has called it a “stone-cold classic”.
(2) MAGIC INSIDE. Below, Paste
TV Editor Allison Keene and Editor-in-Chief Josh Jackson offer “An
Appreciation of The Magicians”. (A show in its last season, it was
announced very recently.)
Naturally, there are friends and enemies and Big Bads along the way, and plenty of fast-moving plot points, but one of the things that has made the show so unique and worthy is that it addresses mental health issues in thoughtful, compelling ways, and how that colors the experiences of the cast (which includes Stella Maeve, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Hale Appleman, Arjun Gupta, and Summer Bishil). And that—even in a world with magic—magic doesn’t necessarily solve everything.
If you have tens of millions of dollars to spare, you could as soon as next year be one of three passengers setting off aboard a spaceship to the International Space Station for a 10-day stay.
On Thursday, Axiom Space, a company run by a former manager of NASA’s part of the space station, announced that it had signed a contract with SpaceX, Elon Musk’s rocket company, for what might be the first fully private human spaceflight to orbit.
“I think you’ll see a lot more energy in the market as people come to realize it’s real, and it’s happening,” said Michael T. Suffredini, the president and chief executive of Axiom.
The spaceflight, Axiom officials said, could take off as soon as the second half of 2021.
SpaceX developed its Crew Dragon capsule for taking NASA astronauts to and from the space station. But just as the company’s development of its Falcon 9 rocket for taking cargo to the space station led to a vibrant business of launching commercial satellites, SpaceX is also looking to expand Crew Dragon passengers beyond just NASA astronauts.
According to an online conspiracy theory, the American author Dean Koontz predicted the coronavirus outbreak in 1981. His novel The Eyes of Darkness made reference to a killer virus called “Wuhan-400” – eerily predicting the Chinese city where Covid-19 would emerge. But the similarities end there: Wuhan-400 is described as having a “kill?rate” of 100%, developed in labs outside the city as the “perfect” biological weapon. An account with more similarities, also credited by some as predicting coronavirus, is found in the 2011 film Contagion, about a global pandemic that jumps from animals to humans and spreads arbitrarily around the globe.
But when it comes to our suffering, we want something more than arbitrariness. We want it to mean something. This is evident in our stories about illness and disease, from contemporary science fiction all the way back to Homer’s Iliad. Even malign actors are more reassuring than blind happenstance. Angry gods are better than no gods at all….
To the surprise of no one paying attention to her for the past few years, Janelle Monáe is the future — but the question at the heart of the first trailer for upcoming horror movie Antebellum is, what if she was also the past, as well …?
Monáe plays author Veronica Henley, a figure who finds herself seemingly trapped in the past, or a terrifying recreation of it, and forced to discover the truth behind her experience before it’s too late.
(6) SCOOB TRAILER. The final trailer dropped – movie arrives
in theaters May 14.
The first full-length animated Scooby-Doo adventure for the big screen is the never-before told stories of Scooby-Doo’s origins and the greatest mystery in the career of Mystery Inc. “SCOOB!” reveals how lifelong friends Scooby and Shaggy first met and how they joined with young detectives Fred, Velma and Daphne to form the famous Mystery Inc. Now, with hundreds of cases solved and adventures shared, Scooby and the gang face their biggest, most challenging mystery ever: a plot to unleash the ghost dog Cerberus upon the world. As they race to stop this global “dogpocalypse,” the gang discovers that Scooby has a secret legacy and an epic destiny greater than anyone imagined.
(7) HATCHER OBIT. Kate Hatcher, Chair of SpikeCon (2019 NASFiC/Westercon 72) died March 5,
reportedly of complications of pneumonia. Her conrunning experience also
included Westercon 67, LTUE, Westercon 70, 71 (tech), and as staff on
Worldcon 76 and LTUE 2018. David Doering, who worked with her on several of
these conventions, says: “She
always gave 110% to Fandom and will be sorely missed.”
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 7, 1980 — The Brave New World film premiered on NBC. (It would show on BBC as well.) It was adapted from the novel by Aldous Huxley by Robert E. Thompson and Doran William Cannon, and was directed by Burt Brinckerhoff. It starred Kristoffer Tabori, Julie Cobb and Budd Cort. You can see it here. Strangely it has no ratings at Rotten Tomatoes, not very much of a web presence. You can watch it here.
March 7, 1988 — The Probe series premiered. It was created by Michael I. Wagner and Isaac Asimov as a sort of live action version of Jonny Quest. Wagner wrote the two-hour pilot, and became Executive Producer for the series. Parker Stevenson had the lead in the series and Ashley Crow was his secretary. It was a mid-season replacement that wasn’t renewed and thus lasted but six episodes. You can see the first half of the pilot here. There’s a link to the second half on that YouTube page.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 7, 1873 — J. D. Beresford. Now remembered for his early horrors and SF stories including The Riddle of The Tower which was co-written with Esme Wynne-Tyson. He was a keen admirer of Wells, and wrote the first critical study of him in 1915, coincidentally called H. G. Wells: A Critical Study. The latter is free at the usual digital suspects and his fiction ranges from free to reasonably priced there. (Died 1947.)
Born March 7, 1905 — Beatrice Roberts. Her most notable role was that of Queen Azura in Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars, a 1938 serial which you can see the beginning of here. She also shows up in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man as Varja the Barmaid, and she’s a Nurse in The Invisible Man’s Revenge. (Died 1970.)
Born March 7, 1944 — Stanley Schmidt, 76. Between 1978 and 2012 he served as editor of Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine, an amazing feat by any standard! He was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor every year from 1980 through 2006 (its final year), and for the Hugo Award for Best Editor Short Form every year from 2007 (its first year) through 2013 with him winning in 2013. He’s also an accomplished author with more than a dozen to his name. I know I’ve read him but I can’t recall which novels in specific right now.
Born March 7, 1945 — Elizabeth Moon, 75. Since I’m not deeply read in her, I’ll let JJ have her say on her: “I’ve got all of the Serrano books waiting for when I’m ready to read them. But I have read all of the Kylara Vatta books — the first quintology which are Vatta’s War, and the two that have been published so far in Vatta’s Peace. I absolutely loved them — enough that I might be willing to break my ‘no re-reads’ rule to do the first 5 again at some point. Vatta is a competent but flawed character, with smarts and courage and integrity, and Moon has built a large, complex universe to hold her adventures. The stories also feature a secondary character who is an older woman; age-wise she is ‘elderly,’ but in terms of intelligence and capability, she is extremely smart and competent — and such characters are pretty rare in science fiction, and much to be appreciated.”
Born March 7, 1949 — Pat Mills, 71. He is best remembered for creating the 2000 AD zine and playing a major role in the development of Judge Dredd. He has also written two Eighth Doctor audio plays, “Dead London” and “The Scapegoat” for Big Finish Productions.
Born March 7, 1954 — Elayne Pelz, 66. She is a member of LASFS (and officer) and SCIFI who worked on myriad cons, mainly in art show and treasury. She was married to famous SF fan Bruce Pelz and assumed leadership of Conagerie, the 2002 Westercon, upon Bruce’s death and the con was held successfully. She was the Chair of Loscon 20.
Born March 7, 1965 — E. E. Knight, 55. I’d swear I should know this author but he’s not ringing even a faint bell. He’s written two series, Vampire Earth and Age of Fire. What do y’all know about him?
Born March 7, 1970 — Rachel Weisz, 50. Though better known for The Mummy films which I really, really love, and her first genre film was Death Machine, a British-Japanese cyberpunk horror film. I’ve also got her in Chain Reaction and The Lobster.
When a sff movie literally delivers what its title promises, you get something like this installment of Lio.
As for their shared property, William will keep their Studio City home and Three Rivers ranch in California. However, they’ve agreed to let Elizabeth visit the ranch to “occasionally harvest fruit” and visit the graves of her first husband and several horses.
Elizabeth also gets their homes in Malibu Cove and Versailles, Kentucky.
(12) EFFECTIVE FX. The Maltin on Movies podcast interviews
Three-time Oscar winner John Dykstra may go down in history as the man who devised the Light Saber for Star Wars, but that’s just one achievement in a lengthy career in visual effects. In fact, he helped usher in the modern era of fx and has adapted to digital sleight-of-hand…but he misses the scrappy days when he built actual models and then blew them up! His credits range from Spider-man and Stuart Little to Quentin Tarantino’s last four films. Best of all, from Leonard and Jessie’s point of view, he has retained his youthful enthusiasm and is exceptionally articulate about his work.
For some reason, cats are major staples of the anime world. It is “neko” this and “neko” that. The answer may be the same reason that the internet itself is obsessed with cats. They are cute, have strong personalities, and can go from mysterious to totally goofy in an instant….
8 Artemis And Luna From Sailor Moon
Technically Luna and Artemis are not cats. They are aliens from a planet called Mau. Luna even has a human form in the anime. However, they will always be truly remembered as cats. They are pretty cute cats too and really played a part in the trope that magical girls have animal companions/mentors.
Luna and Artemis eventually get romantically involved, which is proved by having a kitten together. However, there is one part of the anime where Luna fell in love with a human man.
I’ll reiterate my admiration for John Boston and John O’Neill. John Boston’s most publicly available recent stuff is at Galactic Journey, where he reviews issues of Amazing from 55 years ago, month by month. (It will be noted, perhaps, that I also review issues of Amazing from the same period, at Black Gate.) John’s work there is linked by this tag: http://galacticjourney.org/tag/john-boston/.
As for John O’Neill, of course his central contribution is as editor of Black Gate, for which he writes a great deal of the content, often about, “vintage” books he’s found on Ebay or at conventions, and also about upcoming fantasy books.
Another Black Gate writer, and fan writer in general, who did great work last year was Steven Silver, particularly his “Golden Age Reviews”.
Rich adds some kind words for File 770, much
appreciated, but remember I have withdrawn myself and the zine from further
(15) AROUND THE BLOCH.
Cora Buhlert calls our attention to another Retro-Hugo eligible story in
Review: ‘Iron Mask’ by Robert Bloch”. BEWARE SPOILERS. It was the
cover story in an issue of Weird Tales, for which Margaret Brundage did
“Iron Mask” is a novelette by Robert Bloch, which was first published in the May 1944 issue of Weird Tales and is therefore eligible for the 1945 Retro Hugos. The story may be found online here.
Robin, a.k.a. the Boy Wonder, celebrates his birthday this week: He made his debut in Detective Comics No. 38 on March 6, 1940, and he and Batman became nearly inseparable in the war on crime. But while Bruce Wayne has nearly always worn Batman’s cowl, there have been many different characters behind Robin’s mask. Here is a look at some of the men and women who have called themselves Robin.
First and foremost is Dick Grayson. Like Batman, Dick lost his family to crime. His parents, circus acrobats, were casualties in a mob-protection racket. Batman (Bruce Wayne) trained Dick to help bring the culprit to justice. The two orphans were a positive influence on each other.
Doctor Who’s 12th modern series brought a darker, more personal storyline for Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, more characterisation for her companions (even if the show still wasn’t entirely successful on this front), interesting new takes on old-school series elements and delved more deeply into Doctor Who lore than would have been thought possible in 2018.
Really, looking at the bare facts of the latest series, Chris Chibnall almost couldn’t have done more to address fans’ basic wishes after series 11.
When we consulted Whovians in 2019 about what changes they’d like to see in series 12, they asked for “more two-parters, long episodes and cliffhangers,” a proper series arc, the return of old monsters, more cold opens, a comeback for John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness, a darker side to Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and more background for her companions Graham, Ryan and Yaz (played by Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill).
Amid the chaos of partisan
battles, epistemic crises, and state-sponsored propaganda, it’s nice to think
that good-hearted people who care about a shared reality could defeat all the
b.s. out there. And there’s so much of it. If 2016 was the debut of a new kind
of information war, this year is promising to be something like the darker,
more expensive sequel. Yet while places like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter
struggle to fend off a barrage of false content, with their scattershot mix of policies, fact-checkers, and
algorithms, one of the web’s most robust weapons against misinformation
is an archaic-looking website written by anyone with an internet connection,
and moderated by a largely anonymous crew of volunteers.
…The red giant star is on its way to recovery, regaining its brightness and crushing the hopes of astronomers everywhere who wanted to witness a supernova unfold in our skies.
But while astronomers are no longer wishing upon the star to explode, Betelgeuse’s dimming has left them wondering what may have caused this odd behavior in the first place.
The findings suggest Betelgeuse’s signature bright light was temporarily blocked from our view by material shed by the star, in the form of a cloud of dust.
The study is based on observations of Betelgeuse taken on February 14, 2020, at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona. There, astronomer Philip Massey, an astronomer with Lowell Observatory, and co-author of the new study, and his colleagues had their instruments trained on Betelgeuse to get a reading on the star’s average surface temperature. The reason? If Betelgeuse was truly dimming, its surface would be cooler than usual.
(20) CAT WIDE AWAKE ON SFF.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy,
Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Mlex, Hampus Eckerman, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(2) FUTURICON. Rijeka, Croatia is going to host Eurocon 2020, which will be called Futuricon. Their bid was accepted this week at Eurocon in Amiens. Their site has been home to Rikon for almost two decades.
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Rijeka
October 2-4, 2020
Rijeka, the coastal city in Croatia in which the annual convention Rikon has already been held nineteen times, has won the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture 2020. As part of the ECoC nomination, the SF society 3. zmaj, is announcing Futuricon, our bid for Eurocon 2020, for which we will combine the most important things the city of Rijeka has to offer – centuries of culture, diversity and tolerance, and a fresh glimpse into a positive future created by the people who live and breathe culture. With the support of the City and University of Rijeka, as well as other Croatian SF societies, we are confident that we can create a unique European experience for everyone.
Science Fiction’s Hugos would not be what they are without accompanying periodic outbursts of controversy. This year’s topic is the email sent out to nominees for the award, “encouraging” them to dress professionally for the awards ceremony. The backlash from the sf/fantasy community was, shall we say, vociferous and overwhelmingly negative.†
As well it should be. To quote my elder daughter, on an occasion some time ago when I was fretting about the advisability of going out in public with my hair pulled back using a kid’s Snoopy-the-Flying-Ace hair tie:
“Don’t worry, Mamma. You’re a science fiction writer. You can wear anything.”
(4) THE MORE THINGS STAY THE SAME. You may not have thought the question of what Worldcons want people to wear to events was a new controversy. But would you have expected E.E. “Doc” Smith to be the person complaining about it? In 1962? Here’s a letter the author of the Lensman Series wrote to Chicon III chair Earl Kemp before the con.
Admirers of Neil Armstrong and space exploration have a chance to own artifacts and mementos that belonged to the modest man who became a global hero by becoming the first human to walk on the moon.
The personal collection of Armstrong, who died in his native Ohio in 2012, will be offered for sale in a series of auctions handled by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, beginning Nov. 1-2 and continuing in May and November 2019.
The collection includes a variety of artifacts from Armstrong’s 1969 lunar landing and private mementos that include pieces of a wing and propeller from the 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer that the astronaut took with him to the moon.
The article names several other flown artifacts that will be in the auctions.
(6) ACCLAIMED SHORT FANTASY. Rocket Stack Rank lists 46 outstanding stories of high fantasy from 2016-2017 that were either finalists for major SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction (see Q&A). That’s 46 out of 166 high fantasy stories from those two years, and out of 470 outstanding SF/F stories from 2016 and 2017.
For our purposes, we define “high fantasy” as a fantasy story that takes place in a secondary world. That is, something like Lord of the Rings, where Middle Earth is clearly not in the past or future of our world.
The winner of a 2018 Maine Literary Award was found ineligible because he is not a resident of Maine, and the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, which gives the awards annually, has named a new winner of its speculative fiction prize.
The award, which had gone to Massachusetts resident John Crowley for his book “Ka,” since has been given to Unity College writing instructor Paul Guernsey, who had come in second place for his book “American Ghost.”
“Ka” was nominated by the editorial director of Saga Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, whose marketing manager told the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance that Crowley owned a home in Maine and lived here part time. Crowley, who was born in Maine, was named the winner of the award in a June ceremony.
According Joshua Bodwell, executive director of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, Crowley notified the group that he did not live in Maine. While the award can go to seasonal or part-time residents, it is open only to people who live in Maine. Crowley reached out to say that he was unaware that his publisher had nominated him or that his publisher and his editor had said he met the eligibility requirements.
I marvel at how quickly SF concepts have gone mainstream. With so many SF ideas transitioning into mainstream fiction, one of the current trends I see is the fascination with the Cold War and spies. Who as I’ve alluded to earlier, are it seems to be found everywhere.
The result is the creation of a new genre that blend SF with contemporary thriller to create what is being called a “techno-thriller.” A techno-thriller will use many of the ideas that were once purely science fictional, but set them within a conventional world that’s recognizable as our own.
A new novel by Allister MacLean called Ice Station Zebra has caught the public’s imagination. Whether this is as a result of all the stories of spies in the news I don’t know. MacLean is well known as a writer of action-adventure stories, but this new novel sees him move into a new genre.
Maclean is not the first author to do so. Fellow Scottish writer Ian Stuart wrote a similar techno-thriller, which came out last year called, The Satan Bug….
(9) A PAIR TO DRAW TO. SYFY Wire’s SDCC story “Guillermo del Toro confirmed to guest on The Simpsons in season 30” that confirms the celeb writer/producer/director Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water, The Hobbit trilogy, the Hellboy movies and games, and many more) will guest star on The Simpsons this coming season. He joins Gal Gadot (the Wonder Woman movies and others in the DC Cinematic Universe) in the “confirmed” column. There was apparently no indication the two would be on the same episode. The season’s first episode of their 30th season will will air September 30.
(10) FRONT ROW TO A SHARKNADO. Syfy Wire reports from SDCC: “Sharknado will return next year… with a live stage show!” Mike Kennedy says, “The article title pretty much says it all. I expect next we’ll have <engage echo effect> Sharks [arks… arks… arks] On [on… on… on] Ice [ice… ice… ice] !!!! <disengage echo effect>.”
Indeed, there is going to be a live stage version of Sharknado. No details were offered at the panel, other than it is expected to premiere at a resort/casino in 2019, and will be a sensory overload, if you will. An official announcement is expected later this year.
(11) HELL WARMED OVER. You may recall that Lucifer, canceled by Fox at the end of this past season, was picked up by Netflix for a 10-episode 4th season. At SDCC, star Tom Ellis dropped a few hints about what might be coming up after the major season 3 cliffhanger. SYFY Wire wraps up stories from other sources in “Lucifer’s Tom Ellis Teases Season 4 on Netflix”.
“We get straight back into it,” Ellis told TV Line of the start of Season 4, and teases that Lucifer was unaware that he had the devil face on at the time, so Chloe’s likely shock will come as a surprise. The pair are “apparently” still working together, but Ellis added that “The weird thing this year about coming to Comic-Con is that I can’t talk about the show and what’s going to happen so much, because I don’t know.” The scripts haven’t been written yet, and production begins August 13. Netflix has yet to announce a premiere date….
And he’s in no hurry to have Lucifer and Chloe embrace a romantic relationship. “I think it’s the heartbeat of the show, Chloe and Lucifer’s relationship,” he told [Entertainment Weekly]. “It wouldn’t be very wise to get these two characters together now… When you get the characters together, ultimately that’s kind of resolution. And you don’t want resolution till the very, very end.” But if/when that finally happens, “I am all for it.”
There were hints that Ellis could drop trou on Netflix, something that would have been Right Out on Fox.
And for those of you asking, yes, he really is the first hero called Captain Marvel, debuting 20 years before Marvel Comics existed as a brand. Fawcett Comics was sued by DC in the early 1950s over claims that “Captain Marvel” ripped off “Superman,” and went temporarily out of business after it agreed never to publish the character’s comics again. However, in 1972 DC licensed “Captain Marvel” from Fawcett and brought the character into the DC universe.
But during the intervening decades, Marvel realized the trademark on the name “Captain Marvel” had lapsed, and introduced its own character of the same name. Which is why, to avoid legal problems, DC called its re-launched comic book “Shazam” and eventually changed the character’s name outright.
(13) SDCC TRAILERS. Here are several more trailers that got released this weekend.
Two men are facing charges of stealing or damaging more than $8 million in rare books and materials from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh over more than two decades.
Investigators on Friday charged Greg Priore and John Schulman with the crimes, alleging the two men worked together to remove the items from the Oliver Room.
According to the criminal complaint, Priore worked as the manager and sole archivist of the library’s Oliver Room, which houses rare books and items, for 25 years before being fired in June 2017. Schulman is the co-owner of Caliban Book Shop in Oakland, which specializes in rare books.
The Oliver Room closed more than a year ago once authorities discovered the thefts.
Priore first contacted Schulman about the scheme in the late 1990s, according to the criminal complaint. Priore allegedly told police he made between $500 and $3,000 for items he stole and gave to Schulman to sell.
(15) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Lou Antonelli, who was slated onto the Hugo ballot in 2015, mourns his “Lost Rockets” [Internet Archive link].
…I decided I’d start wearing my pins this year, and I took them with me when I went to SoonerCon in Oklahoma City June 22. After I checked in and got my badge, I took them out and I was going to stick them on.
I took the first one out, and as I tried to stick it on, I fumbled it. I never saw it land. It disappeared. I never saw it again. I put the second one back in its bag. The next day, I realized I’d lost it also.
After I told this story to one colleague at Libertycon, he said, “Well, you can always ask WorldCon for a replacement.”
I laughed. “You’ve got to be kidding! They didn’t want us to have them in the first place! Do you think they would ever give me a replacement!”
Twice during Monáe’s Late Show appearance, the singer danced atop Colbert’s desk: Once to close out the interview portion – where she and the host talked about first meeting at Barack Obama’s 55th birthday party at the White House – and again to kickstart “Americans.”
During the 10-minute interview, Colbert and Monae also discussed their shared love of science fiction, which heavily influenced the singer’s new LP Dirty Computer.
“I loved being able to see these different worlds that were different from mine, that allowed me to kind of escape from where I was,” Monáe said of the genre. “It just stayed with me. I started to write science fiction as a teenager… It stayed with me throughout my work.”
(17) ONCE MORE WITH FEELING. I ran this link yesterday before seeing Mike Kennedy’s take, which I think Filers will enjoy seeing just the same.
[Item by Mike Kennedy.] Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. — George Santayana
In 2016. the British Antarctic Survey asked the public to pick the name for their new survey vessel. They picked Boaty McBoatface. Well, the BAS was not particularly happy with that, and named the craft the RRS Sir David Attenborough, though they did relent and name an autonomous underwater vehicle Boaty McBoatface (the lead vehicle of its class).
Jump to the present.
The European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency are asking the public for help naming an upcoming Mars rover to be launched in 2020 (and land in 2021).
But apparently ESA and UKSA did learn at least a little from the Boaty McBoatface incident, since they say that they’ll be using a panel that they appoint to make the final choice. Or, at least they do if you dig deep enough into their 5-page PDF of Terms and Conditions. With no mention of this on the page where you make your recommendation, it would be easy enough for someone to misunderstand and think this was a straightforward popular vote.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Fired on Mars” on Vimeo, Nick and Nate ask, “What happens if you’re a corporate drone who gets fired–except your bosses are on earth and you’re on Mars?”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, JJ, Eric Wong, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]