By Rich Lynch: I’ve been to a lot of conventions in my personal five decades of fandom, but very few of them as small as Spiral-Con II. It was a free one-day event, sponsored by Spiral Tower Press and held Saturday, July 15, 2023 on the campus of Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. I’m kind of embarrassed to say that I don’t remember ever hearing about the first Spiral-Con, which had been held last August, even though (as I discovered belatedly) it had been a news item in File770.com. And I wouldn’t have heard about this year’s convention either if I hadn’t been contacted by someone who was scheduled to be a program participant.
That would be my friend Rusty Burke, the current President of the Robert E. Howard Foundation which was started in 2006 as a means of expanding the knowledge base about the author and his fiction. Rusty had emailed me at the beginning of July, asking if Nicki and I would like to appear on a fanzine-related panel during the convention. He was very well aware of our fanzine background – besides his status as a world-class Howard historian he is, or at least used to be, a pretty good fan artist. Way back when we all lived in eastern Tennessee he was a frequent contributor to our 1970s clubzine Chat. Turns out that two of the organizers of the convention are also Howard Foundation members, so the connection pathway from them to us was an easy one.
But enough about that. The convention drew a total of 17 people including participants but I guess that was probably about what was expected, given that the University was in the middle of summer break. Those of us who did attend witnessed an interesting single-track program that included five panels and a short awards presentation ceremony. The Trigon Awards, which according to the Spiral Tower Press website “celebrate the past, present, and future of science fiction, fantasy, and horror”, were the first thing on the schedule: the award for Scholarly Achievement went to Rusty for the breadth of his many activities within the Howard Foundation; the award for Literary Achievement went to Old Moon Quarterly, a relatively new online magazine devoted to dark fantasy and sword-and-sorcery fiction; and a Special Achievement award went to Toni Weisskopf of Baen Books who over the years has been “an unparalleled steward and champion of the pulp genres of sword and sorcery, military science fiction, and epic fantasy”.
The five panels were an eclectic mix. For the first one, the topic was the literary legacy of Robert E. Howard, which started out to be an interview of Rusty by Dr. Jason Ray Carney of CNU’s English Department. But at about the halfway point the focus expanded and after that it became more about the Howard Foundation than the author. In particular, there was a lot of description about Howard Days, an annual event held in Howard’s home town of Cross Plains, Texas. Some of the convention’s program is held indoors, but other parts are held in an open air pavilion. And there are no hotels or motels in Cross Plains (the nearest ones are the better part of an hour’s drive away) so the 200-or-so people who attend are firmly committed to preserving the history and learning more about the author, and are willing to persevere through the heat of hot Texas summers to do so. Now that’s dedication!
The second panel was a change of pace – a literary analysis titled “Women and Modern Fantasy: History, Theory, and Analysis”. The presenter was CNU English Department student Shannon O’Keefe, who was introduced by her advisor, Dr. Nicole Emmelhainz. By all appearances it seemed to be a preview of a thesis on the topic, and the presentation skillfully walked us attendees through the history of feminism and its literary movement, focusing on how the feminist movement eventually resulted in many women authors writing genre fiction, including science fiction & fantasy. The reasons for this, we were informed, is that genre fiction can be used as a means to comment on societal issues and can be used to create worlds, situations, and characters for making such social commentary. More to the point, genre fiction allows female authors a good way to examine and explore the ‘what ifs’ of feminist political and social movements, including things like cultural expectations for women. There were several writers cited as examples, and the latter part of the panel turned out to be an in-depth analysis of a major work by one of them: R.F. Kuang’s The Poppy War. It’s ostensibly a dark fantasy with military overtones, but it’s also a journey of discovery and awakening for its main character, Rin. I haven’t read it yet, but after this I think I’m intrigued enough that I’ll want to.
There was another change in direction after that – the third panel was about the history of pulp magazines. Dr. Carney was again the moderator and the panelists were two experts with encyclopedic knowledge on the topic: historians Nathan Vernon and Josh LeHuray. Vernon is also a board member of The Pulp Magazine Project, which according to its website is “an open-access archive and digital research initiative for the study and preservation of one of the twentieth century’s most influential print culture forms: the all-fiction pulpwood magazine.” Similar to the Howard panel earlier in the day, this one started out by walking us through the history of the pulp magazine era (which dates all the way back to 1896 when Frank A. Munsey published the first issue of Argosy) but eventually broadened to include discussion and description of PulpFest, the annual convention which celebrates the history of that type of publication. Overall it was an opportunity to broaden my knowledge – I hadn’t known, for example, that during the pre-WWII years newsstands rented out space to the pulp publishers rather than entering into consignment or outright purchase agreements for the magazines. There were many well-known authors who wrote for pulp-era magazines including now-famous science fiction and fantasy writers such as Isaac Asimov, Poul Anderson, Murray Leinster, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Edmund Hamilton, C.L. Moore, and, yes, Robert E. Howard (to name just a few). Ray Bradbury also was published in pulp-era magazines, which segues nicely into the description of the next panel.
The fourth panel was the one Nicki and I had come to Spiral-Con for. It was titled “A Brief History of Zine Culture and its influence on Genre Fiction”, but for the purpose of this panel the focus was limited to science fiction fanzines. The moderator, Dr. Luke Dodd from Eastern Kentucky University (another Howard Foundation member), had informed me prior to the convention that a visual aid or two for the panel would be helpful so I’d created a PowerPoint which provided a few prominent examples of science fiction writers who had edited and published fanzines. One of them was Bradbury who in 1939-40 had published four issues of Futuria Fantasia, which was an eclectic mix of essays, fiction and poetry. The second issue contained a short story by Bradbury that probably became the basis for his first professional sale as a writer.
What I had attempted to show was that zine culture of the 1930s through the end of the 1960s was a prime conduit for science fiction fans to become science fiction authors. But after that, there was pretty much a paradigm shift – new writers in the field had found other routes (such as writers workshops) to become professionals. There didn’t seem to be many people in attendance who were very knowledgeable about science fiction fanzines, so Nicki, Rusty, and I described in general some of the different types (genzine, perzine, apas, etc.). And after that there were questions from audience members which indicated a genuine interest in learning more about fanzines and fanzine fandom. I hope they will follow up on it by visiting the two online sites where fanzines are archived – there’s much for them to discover.
The final panel of the convention had been mislabeled in the program handout – it had been described as “The Literary Legacy of Space Opera: Literature, Film, and Gaming” but the actual focus was on military science fiction. The moderator was Baen Books assistant editor Sean Korsgaard (who earlier had accepted Toni Weisskopf’s Trigon Award), and the two panelists were Chase Folmar and Dr. John Balderi. Korsgaard and Balderi are retired U.S. military, and they all had strong opinions about the topic. The panel was actually fairly wide-ranging, including call-outs to some of the more prominent military SF writers such as David Drake and David Weber, but what made it interesting to me was the back-and-forth with audience members which attempted to define just what qualified as military science fiction and what didn’t. The Expanse, for example, has a lot of military SF overtones but the overall plot of the series is much more about discovery and survival on a grandiose scale – in other words, it’s space opera. And there are some series which are, in fact, military science fiction even though the plots are not really pro-war – John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War is a good example of that. And there are other stories which have a militaristic basis or foundation but are not, strictly speaking, military science fiction – Keith Laumer’s original ‘Bolo’ story, “Night of the Trolls”, is a prime example of that. There were a lot of questions from the audience, and it made for one of the more interesting panels I’ve attended lately.
I’m glad I attended Spiral-Con. The day was filled with good panels that showcased many of the diverse interest areas of science fiction and fantasy – it had made the traffic jam-filled drive down from Maryland and expenditure of Marriott points worthwhile. But I think the organizers need to figure out what they want the future of the convention to be – there’d been just enough publicity (via the Spiral Tower Press blog) to bring 17 people to the event, which seems barely enough to make it sustainable. But the meeting site at CNU probably couldn’t handle very many more than that – if the convention had been held when classes were in session there would have been way too many attendees for the meeting room to handle. I’ll be interested to see what direction they go with this. And I’ll also be more on the lookout, next year, for information about the convention!
Update 07/21/2023: Revised after the original posting based on information provided by commenters.
(1) 2022 HUGO WINNER GETS UNEXPECTED VAT BILL. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] My Hugo trophy saga continues, because I got an invoice today charging me import duties and VAT for my trophy. I’m kicking up a bit of a stink about this and tweeted at the German department of trade, because a Hugo trophy is not trade good and I have no idea why they charge me VAT (i.e. sales tax) for something that was not purchased. It’s not so much about the money — Chicon will reimburse me for the costs, but an all-volunteer non-profit organization shouldn’t have to pay import duties and German VAT either. Also, I strongly suspect that e.g. a German Oscar winner would not be charged for their trophy.
Anyway, here is my tweet (in German) to the department of trade. Any boosts would be appreciated.
SMOF News is a weekly newsletter about geek-oriented fan conventions, published every Wednesday evening (Pacific time). A typical issue is divided into four parts:
1) The big news of the week, or, if there isn’t any, informational articles about various aspects of cons. 2) News in brief, for minor news and routine items like Convention Adds Guest, Fan Fund Opens Voting, or (sadly) Convention Goes on Indefinite Hiatus. 3) Worldwide convention listings for the next five weekends. 4) One interesting link which does not necessarily have anything to do with conventions.
The overall tone it aims for is “industry newsletter”.
Remembrance of Things Past and Future is devoted to science fiction, fantasy, and horror as published in the magazines. The history of SF especially is tied to the long history of magazine publishing; some of the old classics of the genre spent years stuck inside brittle magazine pages before getting turned to books. It’s a rather niche criterion for what can be reviewed (a story must have been originally published or reprinted in a zine), but it’s at the same time wide-spanning. I could review a Robert E. Howard serial from 90 years ago and also Elizabeth Bear’s latest (and no doubt good) outing without crossing the streams, so to speak…
(5) NESFA SHORT STORY CONTEST, 2022-23. The 2022-2023 NESFA Short Story Contest winners were announced at Boskone 60 in February. Contest administrator Steve Lee says, “Getting recognition is the best reward for authors.” From the website of past winners:
Winner: Amy Johnson of Somerville, MA for the story “Excuse Me, This is My Apocalypse”
First runner-up: Dianne Lee of Chicago, IL for the story “The Gambler”
Finalist: Chloe Oriotis of Toronto, Canada for the story “Mara’s Moon”
Finalist: Gideon P. Smith of Winchester, MA for the story “To Look Upon the Face of God”
Finalist: Lauren Zarama of Hopkinton, MA for the story “The Surrogate”
Lee says, “The winner’s story was accepted for publication online in Escape Pod a few months after submission.”
…As sci-fi writer Ted Chiang has written, the rise of the multiverse represents a seismic change in narrative fiction. “For much of human history, stories reinforced the idea of fate,” Chiang argues. “They told us that events unfolded the way they did because of destiny or the will of God.” But the multiverse is not about destiny. Instead of showing how things must be, it imagines a place where all options are possible and equal, none better or more probable than the other, none more destined or fated….
Majers Coin Laundry in San Fernando could be any Los Angeles-area laundromat.
It’s tucked between an auto repair shop and a mobile home park, its tall glass windows revealing vending machines stocked with M&M’s and bleach. Rows of metal carts line the front, where the wind occasionally blows them into the asphalt parking lot.
But there’s one detail that sets Majers apart from the competition: For six days in March 2020, this laundromat was home to Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s production of “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” now the front-runner for best picture and a host of other prizes at Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony after sweeping top honors at the Directors, Producers, Writers and Screen Actors guild awards….
(8) HIDDEN AMPAS FIGURES. Variety explains the voting mechanism that determines “How Oscars Best Picture Winners Are Chosen”. Lots weirder than Hugo voting! (The article has today’s date, but discusses the computation that determines the finalists.) Here’s the first stage.
… Depending on how many voters participate this year, a mathematical formula determines what is needed to be a best picture nominee. For the sake of understanding, unless you’re John Nash (played by Russell Crowe in the Oscar-winner “A Beautiful Mind”), we’ll label this the “Best Picture Number,” or “BPN.” PwC oversees the entire process. After all the votes are cast, the BPN is determined by dividing the total number of ballots by 11, which is the number of available nominations plus one. Any film that receives an amount of No. 1 votes that surpasses the BPN is automatically a nominee. Believe it or not, based on how many films are released each year, there aren’t always many movies….
(9) FREE READ. Cora Buhlert has a new flash fiction story out as part of Wyngraf Magazine’s “cozy flash” fiction series. It’s called “Homecoming Gift”.
Prince Colwyn smiled as he stepped onto the pier in the harbour of Calfiris. It was good to be home.
The arrival of his ship the Sea Squall, now a lot more battered than when she had left three long years ago, had not gone unnoticed, and so a squad of guardsmen hastened down the pier to meet him….
On the chill stroke of midnight, 31 December 2021, AA Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh went out of copyright and, like a demon from an open grave, a worryingly bad idea flew out into the world: a horror version of AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. Well, here it is, promising to do for Brit horror what Sex Lives of the Potato Men did for Brit comedy, with a terrifying combination of not-scary and not-funny, and a cast of Love Island types on Xanax apparently reading the dialogue off an optician’s chart held up behind the camera….
(11) ON THE FRONT. [Item by Patrick McGuire.] The Princeton alumni magazine has a rather sfnal cover relating to AI, including a picture of Asimov. It looks to me rather like something F&SF might have run as a cover, maybe in the 1950s. Of course, now that we’re here in The Future, one can argue that it’s no longer sfnal. Princeton Alumni Weekly, March 8, 2023.
(12) MEMORY LANE.
2019 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Marvin Lachman’s The Heirs of Anthony Boucher: A History of Mystery Fandom.
Our Beginning this Scroll is that of Marvin Lachman’s The Heirs of Anthony Boucher: A History of Mystery Fandom. Boucher’s Sunday mystery review column for the New York TimesBook Review was the first such column for fans of that genre.
Boucher’s column inspired the first fan magazine, The Armchair Detective, and Boucher then enthusiastically encouraged it and reviewed it. Many say that the column itself led to the creation of mystery fandom.
It’s an amazing book (available at the usual suspects) that collects all of the columns that he wrote. As they’re not spoilers, I’ll give the full text of one such entry sans the wonderful photo of Len and June Moffatt that was with it.
JDM Bibliophile (1965–2004) A more hard-boiled writer than Patricia Wentworth became the subject of a fan magazine in March 1965 when Len and June Moffatt of Downey, California, first published the JDM Bibliophile (JDMB), devoted to the work of John D. MacDonald.
MacDonald starting writing for pulp magazines in 1946 during their waning days. He then switched to JDMB, a mimeographed magazine at the time, was described in its initial issue as a “non-profit amateur journal devoted to the readers of John D. MacDonald and related matters.” A goal was to obtain complete bibliographic information on all of MacDonald’s writings, and this was partly achieved with The JDM Master Checklist, published in 1969 by the Moffatts. They had help from many people, including MacDonald himself. Though he kept good records, he, like most authors, didn’t have complete publishing data on his own work. Especially helpful to the Moffatts were William J. Clark and another couple, Walter and Jean Shine of Florida. The Shines published an updated version of the Checklist in 1980, adding illustrations, a biographical sketch, and a listing of articles and reviews of MacDonald. JDMB offered news and reviews of MacDonald’s writings and their adaptation to various media. There were also contributions from MacDonald, including reminiscences and commentary. The Moffatts contributed a column (“& Everything”), as did the Shines (“The Shine Section”). Other JDM fans sent articles, letters, and parodies. One issue, #25 in 1979, included the Shines’ “Confidential Report, a Private Investigators’ File on Travis McGee,” describing information gleaned from the McGee canon about his past, interests, cases, and associates. MacDonald once said of Walter Shine, “He knows more about Travis than I do.”
After the Moffatts had published twenty-two issues of JDMB, it was transferred in 1979 to the University of South Florida in Tampa, with Professor Edgar Hirshberg as editor. It continued until 1999. One final issue, #65, was published as a memorial to Hirshberg who had died in June 2002. It was edited by Valerie Lawson. On February 21, 1987, about a hundred McGee fans gathered at his “address,” Slip F-18 at the Bahia Mar Marina in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where McGee kept his houseboat The Busted Flush. The mayor of Fort Lauderdale unveiled a plaque honoring McGee.
Now here’s the Beginning
All knowledge is contained in fandom.—Anthony Boucher
This history of mystery fandom is called The Heirs of Anthony Boucher because it was to Boucher that fans turned before “The Fan Revolution” was launched in 1967. There were fans before 1967, and I shall discuss them. However, it was in 1967 that the mystery developed a fandom that was not limited to specific authors or characters such as Sherlock Holmes.
Boucher was an excellent mystery writer, but he gave up writing novels—though he continued to write the occasional short story—to review mysteries for the San Francisco Chronicle in 1942. In 1951 he became the mystery critic for the New York Times Book Review. In addition, he reviewed for Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. He was considered the outstanding reviewer of crime fiction in America and on three occasions received Edgars from Mystery Writers of America for his writing.
Boucher mentioned fan activities in his column, but there were few except for those involving Sherlock Holmes. Boucher reviewed what was perhaps the earliest general fan scholarship, A Preliminary Check List of the Detective Novel and Its Variants (1966), an annotated list of recommendations by Charles Shibuk. In 1966 Boucher also wrote of a bibliography of the works of John Dickson Carr, compiled by Rick Sneary of California.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 12, 1886 — Kay Nielsen. Though he’s best known for his work with Disney, for whom he did many story sketches and illustrations, not the least for Fantasia, and The Little Mermaid be it thirty years after his death, I’d be remiss not to note his early work illustrating such works as East of the Sun and West of the Moon, Hansel and Gretel and Andersen’s Fairy Tales. East of the Sun and West of the Moon is my favorite work by him. (Died 1957.)
Born March 12, 1914 — John Symonds. Critic of Alistair Crowley who published four, yes four, books on him over a fifty-year period starting in the Fifties: The Great Beast, The Magic of Aleister Crowley, The King of the Shadow Realm and The Beast 666. Needless to say, the advocates of Crowley aren’t at all happy with him. Lest I leave you with the impression that was his only connection to our community, he was a writer of fantasy literature for children including the feline magical fantasy, Isle of Cats with illustrations by Gerard Hoffnung. (Died 2006.)
Born March 12, 1925 — Harry Harrison. Best-known first I’d say for his Stainless Steel Rat and Bill, the Galactic Hero series which were just plain fun, plus his novel Make Room! Make Room! which was the genesis of Soylent Green. I just realized I’ve never read the Deathworld series. So how are these? (Died 2012.)
Born March 12, 1933 — Myrna Fahey. Another who obviously died far too young, of cancer. Though best-known for her recurring role as Maria Crespo in Walt Disney’s Zorro, which I’ll admit is at best genre adjacent, she did have some genre roles in her brief life including playing Blaze in the Batman episodes of “True or False-Face” and “Holy Rat Race”. Her other genre appearances were only on The Time Tunnel and Adventures of Superman. (Died 1973.)
Born March 12, 1933 — Barbara Feldon, 90. Agent 99 on the Get Smart series, who reprised her character in the TV movie Get Smart Again! (1989), and in a short-lived series in 1995 later also called Get Smart. Other genre credits include The Man from U.N.C.L.E. She didn’t have that much of an acting career though she was in the pilot of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. It amazing how many performers guested on that show.
Born March 12, 1952 — Julius Carry. His one truly great genre role was as the bounty hunter Lord Bowler in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. oh but what a role it was! Over the course of the series, he was the perfect companion and foil to Bruce Campbell’s Brisco County, Jr. character. He did have one-offs in The Misfits of Science, Earth 2, Tales from the Crypt and voiced a character on Henson’s Dinosaurs. (Died 2008.)
Born March 12, 1955 — Jim Mann, 68. Living in the Pittsburgh area, a con-running fan who has worked on quite a few Boskones, chairing Boskone 25 and Boskone 47 as well being involved in Confluences and Worldcons. He’s edited quite a few books NESFSA, I’ll just single out Robert Bloch’s Out of My Head, Anthony Boucher’s The Compleat Boucher (which I highly recommended) and Cordwainer Smith’s The Rediscoveryof Man.
Born March 12, 1960 — Courtney B. Vance, 63. I know him best from Law & Order: Criminal Intent, in which he played A.D.A. Ron Carver, but he has some interesting genre roles including being Sanford Wedeck, the Los Angeles bureau chief of the FBI in the pilot of FlashForward, Miles Dyson: Cyberdyne Systems’ CEO who funds the Genisys project in Terminator Genisys, and The Narrator in Isle of Dogs. He had a recurring role in Lovecraft Country as George Freeman. He earned a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series nomination for that role.
…Lots of people who tuned in to The Prisoner and watched to the end are, apparently, disappointed. Those people are missing the point. The Prisoner isn’t a spy series, or an sf series, or a metaphor… and yet, it is all of those things. The Village is a real place… and yet it’s also a state of mind, a cloying conformity that, as the series itself demonstrates, could be found in London or the Wild West as much as in Portmeirion, where the series was actually filmed. The point many critics are missing is, The Prisoner is first and foremost a Rorshach test…..
When a Russian spaceship docked as a lifeboat for three stranded men at the International Space Station in February, one may have wondered if Sergei Krikalev, heading the rescue mission, felt any deja vu.
If that name doesn’t ring a bell, he’s also sometimes known as “the last Soviet” for his more than 311 days spent in space as the Soviet Union collapsed 250 miles beneath him in 1991. He was only meant to be at the Mir station for five months. Instead, he remained for close to a year, never abandoning the outpost.
Today, Krikalev, the former cosmonaut, is the executive director of human spaceflight for the Russian space agency. That means it’s on his watch to make sure NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin get back home safely after their ship sprang a leak at the station in December 2022. The three marooned crew members were supposed to return this month. But their mission will now stretch for a year, until a new crew arrives to relieve them on a separate spacecraft in six months.
Krikalev’s story of being stranded in space is now getting a perhaps overdue spotlight with a new podcast series called “The Last Soviet.” And it’s being told by another cosmonaut, Lance Bass.
If that name doesn’t ring a bell, he’s also sometimes known as the other blond heartthrob in NSYNC. That’s right: the Lance Bass, who sang “Tearin’ up my heart” with JT, who had a cameo in Zoolander, a satire on the very serious ambitions of beautiful people….
(18) PUCKER UP AND… This is old news (September 2022), but if you haven’t seen it already, the video is interesting. This was an over-inflation-to-destruction test for a inflatable space habitat, so in this case “blow up” has a double meaning. “Why NASA blew up a space habitat in Texas” at Mashable.
When a future house for astronauts explodes, a celebration might seem inappropriate, but engineers at a commercial space company couldn’t be prouder of their shredded outer space house.
Sierra Space, working on one of three NASA contracts to develop commercial space stations, just completed something called the “Ultimate Burst Pressure” test on a mockup of its low-Earth orbit space dwelling. The LIFE habitat(Opens in a new tab), short for Large Inflatable Flexible Environment, could one day serve as rooms on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space station, Orbital Reef(Opens in a new tab). If all goes well, the companies hope to start building the station in 2026.
But first NASA has to run the structure through a gauntlet to ensure it’s safe for humans….
There are times when you look back at pop culture phenomena and can’t resist the urge to ask: Can you believe this actually happened? Tackling a notorious fiasco in one of the galaxy’s most popular franchises, Jeremy Coon and Steve Kozak’s amusing and exhaustive documentary ”A Disturbance in the Force” unpacks 1978’s “Star Wars Holiday Special.”
You don’t have to be an obsessive “Star Wars” fan to enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at how the special — which premiered Nov. 17, 1978 on CBS, and has never been re-run on any broadcast or cable outlet — came to exist. To be sure, the fans will appreciate it a lot more than casual viewers. But it’s also an irresistible hoot for anyone with fond memories of star-studded 1970s musical/variety TV specials — a specific type of highly popular general audience entertainment that, truth to tell, very often showcased more campy excess than anything in the “Star Wars Holiday Special.”…
Speaking of penny-pinching: You know that scene in which Bea Arthur flirts with what appears to be a large rat? The rodent’s head was recycled from a low-budget 1976 sci-fi melodrama, Bert I. Gordon’s “Food of the Gods.” No, really. Then as now, the show must go on.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Patrick McGuire, Cora Buhlert, Jennifer Hawthorne, Hampus Eckerman, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) BONDS OF EUROCON. The editors of SF2 Concatenation are mindful of the fans affected by the Russian invasion:
(2) REALITY CHECK OR CHECK ON REALITY? [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Pulp scholar Jason Ray Carney talks about the value of escapist reading and sword and sorcery at the LA Review of Books: “Reading Sword-and-Sorcery to Make the Present Less Real”. (For some reason, the LA Review of Books felt the need to illustrate the essay with a Weird Tales cover that’s not for a sword and sorcery story.)
…Whether we read to engage or to escape reality, we continue to read fiction because it provides us with an experience that cannot be satisfied by other means. Additionally, as a cultural practice, reading fiction has taken on a quasi-spiritual aura; it has become a secular ritual, not unlike mindfulness meditation, that is robustly encouraged by its proponents. One recalls the Orwellian “READ” posters that have been published by the American Library Association since 1985, the most recent a rendering of Channing Tatum, holding a copy of Peter Pan, standing in front of a glittering star field. Evoking the imperious command of alien billboards in John Carpenter’s They Live — obey, marry, reproduce, consume — these posters celebrate reading as an activity of unquestionable social value and say nothing about what is real. Why not read fiction to escape the real?…
…Their discussion covers portrayal of war elephants in history and stories, Alexander the Great being a war criminal to some, Carter & De Camp (and Nyburg) Conan tales, Howard Lamb’s Khlit the Cossack stories (a huge influence on Robert E Howard), drawing from Asian history for his stories – including an intriguing alternate path for Genghis Khan, wanting to write more fiction based in where you’re from, being anxious about a lack of experience to the world limiting your fiction, how late in history Dariel feels you can set a story and still have it feel like sword & sorcery, the “Sword & Sorcery attitude”…
(4) APPENDIX N(ORTON). [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The good people of Goodman Games continue their series of profiles of classic SFF authors. Jim Wampler profiles Andre Norton: “Adventures in Fiction: Andre Norton”.
… Norton’s influence on adventure gaming and its creators was not accidental. She often employed a recurring motif in her books in which the protagonist begins as an outsider or “other”, and through dedicating themselves to a perilous journey in the wilderness, eventually becomes a fully-realized heroic figure. The parallels to the level advancement and experience point systems of early role-playing games is obvious….
And Michael Curtis profiles Margaret St. Clair — “Adventures in Fiction: Margaret St. Clair” – focusing almost exclusively on those two novels by her which are listed in the Appendix N of the original D&D Dungeon Master’s guide, even though St. Clair wrote so much more. But Goodman Games is an RPG company, so I guess that’s fair.
…Margaret St. Clair is an interesting figure, one whose work is largely overlooked in the present age. St. Clair was one of only three women authors who appeared on Gygax’s list of influential writers and their works. During both the Golden and Silver Ages of fantasy fiction, the field was dominated by white males, so much so that the now-often derided pronouncement on the back cover of the Bantam Books 1963 printing of The Sign of the Labrys (“Women are Writing Science Fiction!”) was actually somewhat shocking. The fact that Appendix N includes three women authors is a testimony to the breadth of Gary’s reading….
(5) HOW WORLDCON GOHS ARE CHOSEN. Esther MacCallum-Stewart of the Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon Bid has written a thoughtful post about the committee’s process for picking their prospective GoHs: “From the Chair: Selecting Our Guests of Honour”.
5. The selection team and the chair’s team then met to decide a Short List, based on the recommendations of the committee, but also considering several other criteria which allowed flexibility in looking at the list:
Who will represent Glasgow in 2024’s vision of Inclusion, Caring and Imagination best?
Who could present an indicative picture of science fiction and fantasy in 2024?
Who might make an interesting Guest of Honour, able to participate to the best of their ability and help create a fun, exciting contribution to a Worldcon in Glasgow 2024?
What other elements, like involving local voices, varied perspectives and contemporary discussions, should these Guests represent?
How might the Guests of Honour look as a group? (more on this later)
6. Phew! This seems like a lot, but at last there is a short list, and since this process is still happening, I’m expecting it to be about 30 names. We’re ready to start making the decision.
(6) ATWOOD ON BBC RADIO 4. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Margret Atwood was on an episode of BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour this week with a 15 minute interview. Topics included when did women’s status fall and how the right purloins left tools.
The programme is downloadable from here for a month after which it will be available on BBC Sounds.
Margaret Atwood’s latest collection of essays, Burning Questions, gathers together her essays and other occasional non-fiction pieces from 2004 to 2021. She is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. Her novels include Cat’s Eye, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, and The Blind Assassin which won the Booker prize in 2000. Her 1985 classic, The Handmaid’s Tale, was followed in 2019 by a sequel, The Testaments, which was also a Booker Prize winner (with Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other). Margaret joins Emma to talk about culture wars, free speech, feminism, grief and being in your 80’s.
It’s probably a lucky thing that I didn’t read this book until after I’d finished writing Mickey7, because Six Wakes begins in a very similar place—clones, mind-mapping, immortality, an interstellar colonization mission—but then takes off in a wildly different direction….
…Offered by the boutique located just off the Atrium of the Halcyon, “The Chandrila Collection” will allow you and your family and friends to fully embrace the world of science-fiction and fantasy with futuristic garments inspired by some of the most iconic characters and factions from the epic franchise. From hooded black dresses and saber-training tunics to mechanics’ jumpsuits and starship captains’ jackets, the collection carries something for every fan. You’ll also find the classic white Princess Leia dress as well as a cloak inspired by Padmé Amidala’s royal wardrobe….
(9) JEOPARDY! As usual, the wrong Jeopardy! questions are the most entertaining. Andrew Porter saw this one tonight.
Final Jeopardy: Fictional Families
Answer: Introduced in the 1930s in The New Yorker, they’ve appeared on TV & Broadway & in live action & animated films.
Wrong question: Who are the Von Trapps?
Correct question: Who is The Addams Family?
(10) KELLERMAN OBIT. Actress Sally Kellerman, whose many roles included a Star Trek appearance, has died at the age of 84. The New York Post profiled her career.
…Kellerman is also rooted in “Star Trek” history. Fans of the original series will remember her role as a psychologist in the third episode, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” — which actually was originally filmed as one of two pilots for the sci-fi series….
(11) MEMORY LANE.
2010 — [Item by Cat Eldridge] Jack Vance who I think I can say without fear of contradiction is beloved by all here won three Hugos. The first was at the first DisCon for “The Dragon Masters” which was originally published in the August 1962 issue of Galaxy, the second was at NyCon 3 for “The Last Castle” published in Galaxy in the April 1966 issue, and the third, and this one surprised me, was Best Related Work at Aussiecon 4 (2010) for This is Me, Jack Vance! (Or, More Properly, This is “I”).
His first Hugo nomination that didn’t result in a win was at Detention for “The Miracle-Workers”, published in Astounding in July 1958, his other nomination was a Retro Hugo at Millennium Philcon for The Dying Earth novel.
His I-C-a-BeM novelette was longlisted at Seacon. His Ecce and Old Earth novel was likewise at MagiCon. If we’re being completists… Queen of Air and Darkness, I love databases!
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 24, 1909 — August Derleth. He’s best known as the first book publisher of H. P. Lovecraft, and for his own fictional contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos (a term that S. T. Joshi does not at all like). Let’s not overlook him being the founder of Arkham House which alas is now defunct. I’m rather fond of his detective fiction with Solar Pons of Praed Street being a rather inspired riff off the Great Detective. (Died 1971.)
Born February 24, 1933 — Verlyn Flieger, 89. Well-known Tolkien specialist. Her best-known books are Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien’s World, A Question of Time: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Road to Faerie, which won a Mythopoeic Award, Tolkien’s Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth (her second Mythopoeic Award) and Green Suns and Faërie: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien (her third Mythopoeic Award). She has written a YA fantasy, Pig Tale, and some short stories.
Born February 24, 1945 — Barry Bostwick, 77. Best remembered for being Brad Majors in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. His first genre undertaking was the English language narration of Fantastic Planet. He voices the Mayor in The Incredibles 2. He also won a Tony Award for his role in The Robber Bridegroom, a play based off the Eudora Welty novella.
Born February 24, 1947 — Edward James Olmos, 75. Reasonably sure the first thing I saw him in was Blade Runner as Detective Gaff, but I see he was Eddie Holt in Wolfen a year earlier which was his genre debut. Though I didn’t realize it as I skipped watching the nearly entire film, he was in The Green Hornet as Michael Axford. He has a cameo as Gaff in the new Blade Runner film. And he’s William Adama on the rebooted Battlestar Galactica. He has made appearances on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Eureka.
Born February 24, 1951 — Helen Shaver, 71. Her SFF debut was as Betsy Duncan in Starship Invasions aka Project Genocide in the U.K. Though you’ve likely not heard of her there, you might have seen her as Carolyn in The Amityville Horror. She’s Littlefoot’s mother in The Land Before Time, and Kate ‘White’ Reilly in the second Tremors film. She’s got one-offs in The Outer Limits, Amazing Stories, Ray Bradbury Theater and Outer Limits to name but a few. And she was Dr. Rachel Corrigan in Poltergeist: The Legacy, a excellent series indeed.
Born February 24, 1966 — Billy Zane, 56. His genre roles include Match in Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part II, Hughie Warriner in Dead Calm, John Justice Wheeler in Twin Peaks, The Collector in Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight and the title role in The Phantom.
Born February 24, 1968 — Martin Day, 54. I don’t usually deal with writers of licensed works but he’s a good reminder that shows such as Doctor Who spawn vast secondary fiction universes. He’s been writing such novels first for Virgin Books and now for BBC Books for over twenty years. The Hollow Men, a Seventh Doctor novel he co-wrote wrote with Keith Topping, is quite excellent. In addition, he’s doing Doctor Who audiobooks for Big Finish Productions and other companies as well. He’s also written several unofficial books to television series such as the X Files, the Next Generation and the Avengers.
(13) ARTHURIANA. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Molly Roberts says very few people were asking for the PBS animated series Arthur to end after 25 years with their characters aging two decades and the beloved cartoon aardvark turning into “a fledgling graphic novelist with an even less fledged goatee.” “Arthur grew up in the finale of his PBS show. It’s a betrayal.”
… PBS’s sendoff of his namesake show after a quarter-century of seasons unexpectedly age-accelerates its characters two decades or so. It’s a move undoubtedly designed to offer closure to fans from preschooler to professional. But maybe closure is exactly what we didn’t need.
To recap, for those too busy living adult life to dip back into the old days for the finale of the longest-running animated children’s series in history: The (non-)boy the New York Times dubbed “the world’s most popular student aardvark” has apparently become a fledgling graphic novelist with an even less fledged goatee. His sister, the perennial pest D.W., has become … a cop? Buster the bunny is a drably dressed teacher; self-proclaimed tough guy and secret softie Binky Barnes the bulldog is a journalist….
(14) MALTIN ON MOVIES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I heard this podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with director Ken Kwapis, which is worth listening to for one very good anecdote about Jim Henson. Kwapis directed Henson as a puppeteer in Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird (which Leonard Maltin thinks is an underrated musical). Jim Henson only had one request. Before the shoot began, Henson asked everyone–cast and crew–to hold one arm high in the air for a minute. The reason: to give everyone a sense of what puppeteers had to do during a movie.
This is an entertaining hour, but most of what Kwapis directed is not genre. Even though he directed all seven episodes of the second season of Space Force, he doesn’t have much to say about the show. “Maltin on Movies: Ken Kwapis”.
…As Oswalt makes clear, with the changes, ComiXology has gone from being a dedicated hub for comics to just another tab for digital content in Amazon’s Kindle storefront. Whereas before the change, in addition to being a place where subscribers could “collect” and “curate” their digital collections, ComiXolgy provided a way for fans to explore the wonderful world of comics, manga, graphic novels in efficient and enjoyable manner.
Oswalt wasn’t the only one to find fault with the changes. Indeed, from hardcore fans to casual readers, from writers to gamers, the change seems to have struck a chord everywhere….
Elon Musk is planning yet again to rocket beyond the status quo. And if he succeeds, the aerospace giants that won the first space race may never catch him in this one.
Standing in front of the towering Starship rocket at Space X’s southwest Texas “Starbase” on Thursday night, Musk pledged that his most ambitious spaceship yet will make its first journey in the coming months….
Starship is designed to be the first all-purpose space vehicle: a reusable and refuelable spacecraft that can take scores of people and millions of tons of cargo from Earth directly to the moon and eventually Mars — and do it over and over again.
The historical pandemic known as the Black Death might not have been as devastating as was previously thought, an analysis of ancient pollen suggests.
Historians estimate that a wave of bubonic plague in the mid-1300s killed about half of the people in Europe, at a time when most lived in rural areas. To investigate the Black Death’s true toll, Alessia Masi at the Sapienza University of Rome and her colleagues analysed ancient pollen from 261 lakes and wetlands across Europe (pictured, a sampled bog in Poland). By assessing the varieties of pollen, the team determined whether fields and pastures had been abandoned after the plague and eventually replaced by forests.
Levels of pollen from species common in agricultural lands were much lower in many places, including France and central Italy, between 1350 and 1450 than during the previous 100 years. This suggests high mortality rates. But in other regions, including Ireland and much of eastern Europe, agricultural activities were stable and even expanded, suggesting that populations there were growing.
Factors such as weather and local economies might have caused the pandemic’s course to vary, the authors say.
Chemical analysis of an iron dagger found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb has identified the type of meteorite from which the metal was derived — and suggests the knife might have been a gift from another ruler.
Tut reigned in the fourteenth century bc, before iron working was common in Egypt. Previous research identified an iron– nickel meteorite as the probable source of the blade’s metal, but little was known about how the dagger was manufactured.
Tomoko Arai at the Chiba Institute of Technology in Narashino, Japan, and her colleagues mapped the metal’s elements by shining X-rays along the blade and analyzing the resulting fluorescence. They found that the nickel was distributed in a crosshatched pattern typical of a group of meteorites called octahedrites. The blade must have been forged at a relatively low temperature to retain the pattern and other meteorite specific features, they say….
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Ben Bird Person, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]
Award-winning writer Veronica Schanoes and I shared Indian food though there were hundreds of miles between us — hers from Brooklyn, New York’s Masala Grill, me from Hagerstown, Maryland’s Sitar of India.
Veronica Schanoes has published fiction in the magazines Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Sybil’s Garage, and Fantasy; the anthologies The Doll Collection, Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy, The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu: New Lovecraftian Fiction; and online at Strange Horizons and Tor.com. Her novella “Burning Girls” was nominated for the Nebula Award and the World Fantasy Award, and won the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novella in 2013. Her first scholarly monograph, Fairy Tales, Myth, and Psychoanalytic Theory: Feminism and Re-telling the Tale, was published by Ashgate in 2014. Her collection Burning Girls and Other Stories was published earlier this year.
We discussed what it’s been like trying to write her first novel during a pandemic, why she can only read Jane Yolen’s intro to her new collection half a page at a time, how she makes sure her fairy tale-inspired fiction works even for those who don’t catch the allusions, the joy which comes from putting the right words in the right order, how Kelly Link convinced her she should take herself seriously as a writer, whether research inspires stories or stories inspire research (and how writers make sure they don’t force readers to suffer for that research), the way fairy tales take place “outside of historical space-time,” the importance of Joe Strummer and the Clash, and much more.
What is this concept of Modernity, and why did it haunt/inspire you to write a thesis on it?
Modernity is one of those concepts with a rich intellectual history, and people spill a lot of ink over it, but it is not very complicated (in my opinion): sometimes around the 1780s, the world changed. Feudalism gave way to democracy. New technologies upset how human economies and cities were organized. Religious belief waned and changed. We stopped believing (for the most part) in the supernatural. Let me cite Max Weber again: with modernity, the world became “disenchanted.” This, of course, is only part of the story. Though this story is myopic in its Eurocentrism, it is not less valid for its narrow purview. The story of modernization outside of Europe can be told, but it will be different, with maze-like branching conversations that posit multiple “modernities.” Anyway, modernity really intrigues me.
(3) VINDICATION. In “confirmation”, former Hugo Awards administrator David Bratman tells how he once found himself at loggerheads with Locus’ Charles N. Brown.
When I was administrator for the Hugo Awards in 1996, one of the Best Novel finalists* was Remake by Connie Willis. By that time, SF novels were tending very long, but Remake was short. Though published as a standalone volume, it made a small one.
Charles Brown of Locus,** the newsletter of the SF field, insisted to me that Remake was under 40 thousand words and thus, by Hugo rules (which were shared in this respect by most other awards in the field), it fell in the Novella category, not Novel. And indeed, in the Locus awards it was put in the Novella category, which it won (not surprisingly, being one of the longest in the category as well as being by Connie Willis)….
“Translators are like ninjas. If you notice them, they’re no good.” This quote, attributed to Israeli author Etgar Keret, proliferates in memes, and who doesn’t love a pithy quote involving ninjas? Yet this idea – that a literary translator might make, at any moment, a surprise attack, and that at every moment we are deceiving the reader as part of an elaborate mercenary plot – is among the most toxic in world literature.
The reality of the international circulation of texts is that in their new contexts, it is up to their translators to choose every word they will contain. When you read Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights in English, the words are all mine. Translators aren’t like ninjas, but words are human, which means that they’re unique and have no direct equivalents. You can see this in English: “cool” is not identical to “chilly”, although it’s similar. “Frosty” has other connotations, other usages; so does “frigid”. Selecting one of these options on its own doesn’t make sense; it must be weighed in the balance of the sentence, the paragraph, the whole, and it is the translator who is responsible, from start to finish, for building a flourishing lexical community that is both self-contained and in profound relation with its model….
(5) MARTIN ON MALTIN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this 2018 podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Floyd Norman, a pioneering Black animator and cartoonist (Maltin on Movies: Floyd Norman).
Norman started working for Walt Disney in the mid-1950s, and remembers being at Disneyland during its opening week (but not opening day, a legendary disaster). He recalls what it was like producing feature-length animation before computers and how everyone involved in animated film “worked like Marines” until the job was done, although Walt Disney insisted everyone leave the studio at 9 to spend some time with their families. People who remember the “string of pearls” sequence in Mary Poppins should realize that was a sequence that stressed out the animators.
Norman talked about how he was hired and quit Disney several times, and was involved in developing the stories for PIxar’s Toy Story 2 and Monsters Inc. He also self-published his own books of cartoons, including one entirely devoted to making fun of Disney CEO Michael Eisner, who Norman thinks a major egotist. Norman says Eisner didn’t mind the criticism, “as long as the book was about him.”
This may be too DIsney-centric for some but I enjoyed this episode.
The sudden shift to e-books had enormous practical and financial implications, not only for OverDrive but for public libraries across the country. Libraries can buy print books in bulk from any seller that they choose, and, thanks to a legal principle called the first-sale doctrine, they have the right to lend those books to any number of readers free of charge. But the first-sale doctrine does not apply to digital content. For the most part, publishers do not sell their e-books or audiobooks to libraries—they sell digital distribution rights to third-party venders, such as OverDrive, and people like Steve Potash sell lending rights to libraries. These rights often have an expiration date, and they make library e-books “a lot more expensive, in general, than print books,” Michelle Jeske, who oversees Denver’s public-library system, told me. Digital content gives publishers more power over prices, because it allows them to treat libraries differently than they treat other kinds of buyers. Last year, the Denver Public Library increased its digital checkouts by more than sixty per cent, to 2.3 million, and spent about a third of its collections budget on digital content, up from twenty per cent the year before….
(7) UP ALL NIGHT. It so happens the only time I ever watched Adult Swim was sitting in a hospital waiting room after driving someone to ER — but that’s not a knock, what I saw was pretty amusing. The New York Times celebrated the program block’s 20th anniversary with an oral history: “Adult Swim: How an Animation Experiment Conquered Late-Night TV”.
By all accounts, it was a minor miracle that Adult Swim ever made it off the drawing board 20 years ago. Money was next to nonexistent. The editor of Cartoon Network’s first original series worked from a closet. A celebrity guest on that series, unaware of the weirdness he had signed up for, walked out mid-taping.
In retrospect, it seems right that one of modern TV’s most consistent generators of bizarro humor — and cult followings — had origins that were, themselves, pretty freewheeling.
…WILLIS The idea for “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” started with a [expletive] fast food restaurant that tried to use all the scraps of meat they weren’t allowed by the F.D.A. to put into a hamburger, wadded together. We saw Meatwad as this poor, neglected creature — I think his line in his first script was like [in Meatwad voice], “Please, God, kill me.” I did the voice, and I can’t tell you how many times people said, “I don’t understand what he’s saying; you need to recast him.” But we stuck to our guns. I always thought of it like Willie Nelson, who sings real quietly, and so everyone is on the edge of their seat trying to listen to what he’s saying. As a result, you’re more into it. At least, that was my excuse! [Laughs.]
(8) LIFE OF LEWIS. A trailer dropped for the C.S. Lewis biopic titled The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story Of C.S. Lewis that arrives in theaters November 3.
(9) TIME HAS BEEN BROKEN. So they tell us. The new season of Star Trek: Picard premieres February 2022 on Paramount+.
…At the end of WWII, 60–70% of the American aerospace industry was based in Southern California. The good climate and open land that helped draw aviation to the region also helped lure the motion picture industry. When Roddenberry began developing Star Trek, 15 of the 25 largest aerospace companies were located in the greater Los Angeles area. Many were situated close to Paramount’s Desilu Studios where the series was made.
Roddenberry drew upon the most current spaceflight technology then available to incorporate into Star Trek. He read, wrote, phoned and even dumpster-dived to get material for his new series.
A direct example of how the aerospace industry influenced Star Trek appears in the episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.” In this episode furry little creatures that “coo” and have a tremendous desire for eating and breeding overrun the Federation’s K-7 space station.
The principal elements of the K-7 as it is shown in the episode first appeared in a report done by Douglas Aircraft. The 1959 study outlined the operational requirements of an extendable orbiting space station. Constructed on Earth then launched atop a “Saturn-type missile,” the station was designed to automatically unfold in space into a donut-shape with a conical reentry vehicle at its center.
Richard Datin, a model maker who helped build the original production model Enterprise, described how the K-7 design materialized. “I was told upon viewing the original model, and maybe by Roddenberry, that he obtained it [the Douglas space station model] from Douglas Aircraft whose main office was in nearby Santa Monica. Apparently, Gene had a following from people in the space industry, particularly Caltech in Pasadena.”
(11) MICHAEL K. WILLIAMS (1966-2021). Actor Michael K. Williams died September 6 at the age of 54 reports the New York Times. While famous for his work in cop and crime series including The Wire and Boardwalk Empire, sff fans knew him as the lead in Lovecraft Country, and saw him in the 2014 RoboCop remake, The Purge: Anarchy (2014), and Ghostbusters (2016).
(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1977 – Forty-four years ago this evening on CBS, Space Academy, a Filmation children’s series, first aired. (Jason of Star Command would come out of it.) It was created by Allen Ducovny who previously only done such animated shows as The New Adventures of Superman and Aquaman. The program starred Jonathan Harris in the lead role; co-starring were Pamelyn Ferdin, Ric Carrott, Maggie Cooper, Brian Tochi, Ty Henderson, and Eric Greene. There was a cute robot as well named Peepo. Would I kid you? It would last for just fifteen half-hour episodes.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 10, 1914 — Robert Wise. Film director, producer, and editor. Among his accomplishments are directing The Curse of The Cat People, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Haunting, The Andromeda Strain and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Though not at all genre, he also directed West Side Story and edited Citizen Kane, two exemplary accomplishments indeed. (Died 2005.)
Born September 10, 1937 — Spencer Milligan, 84. He’s best known for playing Rick Marshall, the father of Will and Holly Marshall, on the first two seasons of Land of the Lost. (He left because he didn’t get a cut of the merch sales.) Genre wise, he’d previously been in Woody Allen’s Sleeper as Jeb Hrmthmg, and later appeared in an episode of The Bionic Woman. That’s it.
Born September 10, 1952 — Gerry Conway, 69. He’s known for co-creating the Punisher (with artists John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru) as well as the first Ms. Marvel and scripting the death of the character Gwen Stacy during his run on The Amazing Spider-Man. He shares the story credit for Conan the Destroyer with Roy Thomas. At DC, he created a number of characters including Firestorm, Count Vertigo and Killer Croc. Not genre at all, but he wrote a lot of scripts for Law and Order: Criminal Intent, one of my favorite series.
Born September 10, 1953 — Stuart Milligan, 68. He first shows up as Walters on the Sean Connery-led Outland and a few years later we see him as a Police Sergeant on Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He’ll play Richard Nixon in Doctor Who for two Eleventh Doctor stories, “The Impossible Astronuat” and “Day of The Moon”. His latest genre role is in Wonder Woman 1984 as the U.S. President.
Born September 10, 1953 — Pat Cadigan, 68. Tea from an Empty Cup and Dervish is Digital are both amazing works. And I’m fascinated that she has co-written with Paul Dini, creator of Batman: The Animated Series, a DCU novel called Harley Quinn: Mad Love. Her only Hugo win was at LoneStarCon 3 for the “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi” novelette. Her latest work is the novelization of the first-draft Alien 3 screenplay by William Gibson. She’s well stocked at the usual suspects.
Born September 10, 1955 — Victoria Strauss, 66. Author of the Burning Land two novel series, and she should be praised unto high for being founder along with AC Crispin of the Committee on Writing Scams. She maintains the Writer Beware website and blog.
Born September 10, 1959 — Nancy A. Collins, 62. Author of the Sonja Blue vampire novels, some of the best of that genre I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. She had a long run on Swamp Thing from issues 110 to 138, and it is generally considered a very good period in that narrative. She also wrote Vampirella, the Forrest J Ackerman and Trina Robbins creation, for awhile.
Born September 10, 1968 — Guy Ritchie, 53. Director of Sherlock Holmes and its sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, both of each I rather liked, and the live-action Aladdin. He did also directed / wrote / produced the rebooted The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which got rather nice reviews to my surprise as well as King Arthur: Legend of the Sword which apparently is quite excellent as audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a seventy percent rating.
The sale of Amazing Fantasy no. 15, featuring the first appearance of Spider-Man, has set the record for the most expensive comic ever sold.
The comic sold Thursday for $3.6 million as part of Heritage Auction’s Signature Comics & Comic Art auction being held Sept. 8 to 12.
The senses-shattering sale beat out the previous record, Action Comics no. 1, published in 1938 and featuring the first appearance of Superman, which sold privately for $3.25 million earlier this year.
With just 90, or thereabouts, shopping days to Christmas, time to see what SF will be published. The SF² Concatenation seasonal news page’s forthcoming books listings are an amalgamation of the titles in the catalogues sent by major UK publishers.
As they these titles already in the catalogues, they can be ordered, or advance-ordered, now either from the publisher directly or – if you are outside the UK – from specialist SF bookshops and their related retail websites.
The books are listed alphabetically by author.
(16) SPEAKER FOR THE READ. The next episode of Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron is “You’re Not Ender Wiggins, and That’s Okay – A Show on Strategy, Leadership, and Modern Conflict by Way of Scifi.” Streams Saturday, September 11 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern via YouTube, Facebook Live, and Twitch.
Steven Leonard, Max Brooks, Major General Mick Ryan, and Jon Klug, join us to discuss strategy, leadership, and modern conflict from the perspective of science fiction.
One of the chapters in the book is called “You’re Not Ender Wiggins, and That’s Okay” (by Will Meddings). Be still, my heart.
Researchers have discovered a new species of dinosaur that loomed over Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The Calgary Herald reports that University of Calgary scientists helped identify the massive new species named Ulughbegasaurus, which roamed the earth as an apex predator 90 million years ago.
Researchers were able to identify the new species — which was five times bigger than the fearsome T-Rex — through the dinosaur’s fossilized jaw, which was likely first found by a Russian paleontologist during a dig in the 1980s.
…The researchers found that the dinosaur was between 7.5 to eight meters (24 to 26 feet) in length and likely weighed over 1,000 kilograms (2,204 lbs). At the time Ulughbegasaurus roamed the earth, the T-Rex wasn’t fully evolved and was much smaller in comparison, weighing less than 200 kilograms (440 lbs).
Comparing the two species, Zelenitsky said Ulughbegasaurus “was like a grizzly bear” if T-Rex had been a coyote….
The failure of Nazi Germany’s nuclear program is well established in the historical record. What is less documented is how a handful of uranium cubes, possibly produced by the Nazis, ended up at laboratories in the United States.
Scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Maryland are working to determine whether three uranium cubes they have in their possession were produced by Germany’s failed nuclear program during World War II.
The answer could lead to more questions, such as whether the Nazis might have had enough uranium to create a critical reaction. And, if the Nazis had been successful in building an atomic bomb, what would that have meant for the war?
Researchers at the laboratory believe they may know the origins of the cubes by the end of October. For the moment, the main evidence is anecdotal, in the form of stories passed down from other scientists, according to Jon Schwantes, the project’s principal investigator.
The lab does not have scientific evidence or documentation that would confirm that Nazi Germany produced the black cubes, which measure about two inches on each side. The Nazis produced 1,000 to 1,200 cubes, about half of which were confiscated by the Allied forces, he said.
“The whereabouts of most all of those cubes is unknown today,” Dr. Schwantes said, adding that “most likely those cubes were folded into our weapons stockpile.”…
Sam once again dons her trench coat to take one small step for man and one giant leap for a late night television host with an “Unsolved Mysteries” obsession. That’s right…she’s trying to figure out WTF is up with UFOs!
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cora Buhlert, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
…Titled Black Stars, the collection showcases some of the biggest names writing science fiction today, highlighting their visions of what the future might look like for the human race and the issues we might have to tackle. The six authors forming this all-star lineup include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (We Should All Be Feminists), C. T. Rwizi (Requiem Moon), Victor LaValle (The Changeling), Nnedi Okorafor (Binti), Nalo Hopkinson (The House of Whispers), and Nisi Shawl (Everfair), who also edited the entire collection, along with co-editor Latoya Peterson.
“Freedom is the overarching theme among the stories,” Shawl tells SYFY WIRE, while discussing the throughline that connects all six stories. “Freedom to explore new star systems, to develop new economies, to break away from stale stereotypes.”
Part of what makes Black Stars so special is the fact that it is showcasing speculative science fiction from Black authors from around the world.
“I want readers to take away the dazzling diversity that is the Black experience,” Shawl says. “I want us all to realize how our dreams and fantasies, our supposings and nightmares and aspirations are so very varied. Blackness is not a monolith! I’ve learned this, and I want to share with our readers the enormous wealth that is Black heritage and the many possible Black futures.” …
(2) YORK SOLAR SYSTEM. NickPheas, inspired by Ingvar’s photos of Sweden’s epic model, shot photos of the solar system model running for ten miles south of York, UK. Twitter thread starts here.
(3) STAR TREK EXPLORER. If you aren’t getting enough Star Trek news, Titan Comics promises to fix that for you when Star Trek Explorer – The Official Magazine Issue #1 hits stores on November 2.
EXPLORER is the no. #1 destination for everything Star Trek – filled with in-depth interviews and features taking you behind-the-scenes of all your favorite shows and movies.
The new-look EXPLORER magazine also includes two brand-new exclusive Star Trek short stories, and a bonus 16-page themed supplement bound inside each issue. The hotly anticipated premier issue features a definitive guide to Captain Kirk!
Subscribers of STAR TREK EXPLORER – THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE will also receive an exclusive digital magazine, direct to their inbox with every quarterly issue. Each digital magazine will feature bonus short stories, printables, activities and much more!
The Speculative Literature Foundation needs jurors to help read applications for the Working Class Writers’ Grant Ideally, we’re looking for people who are well read in speculative fiction, but we’d also like a mix of readers, writers, librarians, teachers, editors, etc. who are capable of judging literary quality in a work.
If interested, please send a brief note to Catherine Lin (ca[email protected]) with the subject line: JUROR.
Please include the grant you wish to be a juror for and a paragraph about what your qualifying background is to serve as a juror: for example, your interest in / connection to the field. (i.e., “I’m an ardent reader!” or “I’ve been writing SF/F for seven years…”). Please feel free to ask any questions you may have as well.
(5) AMAZING STORIES RETRENCHES. Following the announcement “Amazing Stories Special All Canadian Issue Now Available” comes a statement that “Amazing Stories has had a rough past year, mostly owing to the fact that our former Licensee – NBC/Universal Television – has failed to meet their contractual obligations” and how their publishing program is changing in response:
…Beyond denying you a regular issue of the magazine up till now, in order to continue publishing the magazine we have had to take the following steps as well:
Owing to the previously stated, Amazing Stories must change the way it produces issues, while at the same time attempting to do what is right by our subscribers. These are necessary, budget-related changes that represent our only option for keeping the magazine in publication. Those changes are as follows:
First, Amazing Stories will be changing to an annual format, producing one (over-sized) issue per year rather than quarterly (four) issues per year.
Second, we are eliminating the print edition as a regularly available option. Print copies of each issue will remain available as a separately purchased Print On Demand (POD) product. All current print subscriptions will be converted to Electronic Editions moving forward. In addition, former print subscribers may select one of the Amazing Select titles, electronic edition, for each year of subscription that is being converted.
Please know that we are not happy with having to make these changes, but following long discussion, we believe that these changes offer us our best chance of moving forward. Those with questions, please feel free to get in touch with the publisher, Steve Davidson, via Steve (at) amazingstories (dot) com.
There are perfectly legitimate reasons not to have read works widely regarded as science fiction and fantasy classics. Perhaps the most compelling is that the field is far too large for any one person to have read all of it, even if they were to limit themselves to works other readers enthusiastically recommend. However, there are other reasons, some quite silly, to have left promising books unread. Here are five of my stupidest reasons for not having read a widely-praised book cover to cover….
(7) STORIES THAT ARE THE FOUNDATIONS FOR RPG. Goodman Games, an RPG publisher, occasionally features interesting articles on their site. Here are two:
Appendix N of the original Dungeon Masters Guide has become a Rosetta Stone for the study of the literary roots of D&D. One figure carved on that stone is Andrew J. Offutt, who is cited not for his own writing, but for editing the Swords Against Darkness heroic fantasy anthology series. Oddly, only the third volume of the five-book series is singled out and none of the other four books are even mentioned. Who then is Andrew Offutt, and why is he enshrined with the other Appendix N luminaries? …
Robert E. Howard’s sword and sorcery tale “Red Nails,” published as a three-part serial in Weird Tales in 1936, tells the story of the city of Xuchotl, the enduring, blood-soaked war between the Tecuhltli and the Xotalanc, and the dehumanizing effect of sustained hatred and violence. “Red Nails” engages with several ancient literary tropes, but the one that centers “Red Nails” is what I term “the stalemate war.” By focusing on the stalemate war between the murderous Tecuhltli and insane Xotalanc, I hope to bring into focus a surprising facet of Robert E. Howard’s most famous sword and sorcery character, Conan of Cimmeria: the way the barbarian maintains his humanity through compassion….
(8) A KEY INVENTION. The Typewriter Revolution exhibit can be seen at the National Museum of Scotland through April 17, 2022. Or you can view photos of over 100 typewriters in their connection at the website.
The impact of the typewriter has been much wider than simply speeding up the way we write. It helped revolutionise the world of work and change the lives of working women in particular. Typewriters helped them launch their own businesses at a time when female employers were rare and became a vital weapon in the fight for the vote.
The typewriter’s social and technological influence is revealed in this new exhibition and looks at its role in society, arts and popular culture. It traces the effect and evolution of typewriters across more than 100 years, from weighty early machines to modern style icons. And despite being erased from many offices by the rise of computers, the typewriter has remained a beloved design icon that is still in use today.
Drawing on our outstanding typewriter collection, the exhibition features a range of machines, including an 1876 Sholes and Glidden typewriter which was the first to have a QWERTY keyboard; a 1950s electric machine used by Whisky Galore author Sir Compton Mackenzie; and the 1970s design icon, the Olivetti Valentine.
Writer, activist and broadcaster Walidah Imarisha presents the untold story of black sci-fi and its vital role in redefining the present and imagining the future.
This documentary explores the power – and the rich history – of speculative, visionary fiction by black authors in the UK, USA and Africa, and how activists around the world have been inspired by science fiction as they strive to build new worlds. Walidah Imarisha unravels the idea that all organisation and activism is a form of “science fiction” – and how bringing new realities into being is itself a creative act.
Interviewees include multidisciplinary artists Moor Mother and Rasheedah Philips, Nigerian-American writer Nnedi Okorafor, and British feminist writer and researcher Lola Olufemi.
Dr. Eric Leif Davin teaches labor and political history at the University of Pittsburgh. He wrote “Pioneers of Wonder: Conversations with the Founders of Science Fiction.” as well as “Partners in Wonder: Women and the Birth of Science Fiction, 1928-1965.”
John Grayshaw: What is the Gernsback era?
[Davin] Although Hugo Gernsback briefly published an SF magazine in the 1950s, “SF Plus,” the Gernsback Era is actually referring to the period 1926-1934. In 1926 Gernsback launched “Amazing Stories,” the first SF magazine. It was the only SF magazine until 1929, when he launched “Wonder Stories.” In 1934 he sold the latter magazine to the Thrilling group, with it becoming “Thrilling Wonder Stories.” With that, he exited the SF magazine world until the 1950s
…In the late 1980s when I first met Lorna, the Spaced Out Library was on the second floor of the Boys and Girls House at Beverly and College Streets. Not climate-controlled. Not accessible. As ad-hoc a library as its name might suggest.
I’d come in as a journalist, ostensibly working with another writer on an article about the Canadian science fiction community for a local alternative paper – but really, dipping my toe into a world that I very much wanted to enter.
Lorna helped me do both. First, she gave me a who’s-who rundown of sources I might speak to, suggested I hit Ad Astra, the local science fiction convention to find those sources in one place.
Those sources included Judith Merril herself, who after a very professional interview, told me very candidly, about a writer’s workshop that might be looking for members – and introduced me to one of the founding members, Michael Skeet. Lorna’s husband….
(12) MEMORY LANE.
2007 – Fourteen years ago today, Masters of Science Fiction, an anthology science fiction series, finished its very brief run on ABC. And I do mean brief as only four of its six episodes actually aired. It was presented by Stephen Hawking which is why when it broadcast later on the Science Channel in its entirety that it was called Stephen Hawking’s Sci-Fi Masters. The six stories were all by SF writers, to wit John Kessel, Howard Fast, Robert Heinlein, Harlan Ellison, Walter Mosley and Robert Sheckley. The few critics that actually noticed it liked it. Like so many similar short-run series, it has no Rotten Tomatoes audience rating. The trailer is up here. (Several YouTubers attempted to host the videos, however, they aren’t available as, of course, the series is under copyright.)
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 25, 1909 — Michael Rennie. Definitely best remembered as Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. He would show up a few years later on The Lost World as Lord John Roxton, and he’s got an extensive genre series resume which counts Lost in Space as The Keeper in two episodes, The Batman as The Sandman, The Time Tunnel, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Invaders. (Died 1971.)
Born August 25, 1913 — Walt Kelly. If you can get them, Fantagraphics has released Pogo in six stunning hardcover editions covering up to 1960. They’re planning to do all of his strips eventually. Did you know Kelly began his career as animator at Walt Disney Studios, working on Dumbo, Pinocchio and Fantasia? (Died 1973.)
Born August 25, 1930 — Sir Sean Connery. Best film overall? From Russia with Love. Best SF film? Outland. Or Time Bandits you want go for silly. Worst film? Zardoz. These are my choices and yours no doubt will be different. (Died 2020.)
Born August 25, 1940 — Marilyn Niven, 81. She was a Boston-area fan who lives in LA and is married to writer Larry Niven. She has worked on a variety of conventions, both regionals and Worldcons. In college, she was a member of the MITSFS and was one of the founding members of NESFA. She’s also a member of Almack’s Society for Heyer Criticism.
Born August 25, 1955 — Simon R. Green, 66. I’ll confess that I’ve read pretty much everything he’s written. Favorite series? The Nightside, Hawk & Fisher and Secret History are my all-time favorite ones with Drinking Midnight Wine the novel I’ve re-read the most. He’s got three active series now of which the Ishmael Jones and the Gideon Sable series are the best.
Born August 25, 1958 — Tim Burton, 63. Beetlejuice is by far my favorite film by him. His Batman is kind of interesting. Read that comment as you will. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is definitely more Dahlish than the first take was, and Sleepy Hollow is just damn weird. Not really true to the source material though.
Born August 25, 1970 — Chris Roberson, 51. Brilliant writer. I strongly recommend his Recondito series, Firewalk and Firewalkers. The Spencer Finch series is also worth reading. He’s also written two Warhammer novels, Dawn of War and Sons of Dorn, and is publisher with his wife Allison Baker of Monkey Brain Books which has twice been nominated for World Fantasy Awards. He won two Sidewise Awards for Alternate History, for his novella O One (2003), and novel The Dragon’s Nine Sons (2008).
Born August 25, 1987 — Blake Lively, 34. She was Adaline Bowman in The Age of Adaline, a neat mediation upon life and death. She also played Carol Ferris in that Green Lantern film but the less said about it the better. Her very first role was as Trixie / Tooth Fairy in The Sandman at age eleven.
It’s finally here! And it was worth the wait. Fantastic Voyage has reached the big screen, and it’s spectacular.
Fantastic Voyage may be the most advertised science fiction film ever made, with intriguing articles in Life and Look, a novelization published in The Saturday Evening Post and about a zillion articles in Famous Monsters in Filmland. And despite this endless campaign – or maybe because of it – I’m delighted to tell you this audacious film deserves its media ubiquity.
(15) YOU’LL SHOP HERE SOONER OR LATER. A business in LA’s Echo Park neighborhood has the fascinating name Time Travel Mart. Here are just a few of the items they sell there.
…Just to make sure that she isn’t imagining things, Mona calls over Ellen, the maid, and asks her what she sees in the puddle of spilled water. Ellen confirms that the puddle looks like a dog, but not just any old dog either, but the little dogs on which the leprechauns ride on moonlit nights. For Ellen just happens to be Irish and therefore a fount of Irish folklore…..
(18) IT CAUSES ME TO TINGLE. Not only is love real, so is Chuck.
(19) R.L. STINE REMEMBERS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this podcast that Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with R.L. Stine. “Maltin on Movies: R.L. Stine”. The Maltins began by remembering how they would chat with Stine in the Los Angeles Times Book festival green room, where they would also say hello to Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison. Stine then explained how he, born in 1943, was first influenced by radio comedians (remember Mortimer Snerd?) He also loved E.C. comics and after his parents refused to let him buy the comics he made sure to get a haircut every Saturday because the local barbershop had a plentiful supply. Stine then worked his way up at Scholastic Books, and became a YA horror author because an editor got mad at Christopher Pike and they wanted someone to write YA horror novels. Stine said he was a hands-on producer of the Goosebumps TV series, which “gave every child actor in Canada a job” including 11-year-old Ryan Gosling. Stine also explained that he had kids come up to him and say they learned how to use typewriters because they saw Jack Black use a typewriter playing Stine in the Goosebumps movie.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Monster Hunter Stories” on YouTube, Fandom Games says Monster Hunter Stories is a dinosaur-fighting game that has gone through “Pokemonification,.” and includes a scene here you fight a dinosaur with a bagpipe and another where a talking cat spends too much time explaining how she enjoys donuts.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, James Davis Nicoll, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]