The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction (CSSF) was founded by James Gunn in 1982. Gunn (1923-2020), a SFWA Grandmaster, was superseded by McKitterick as Director of the CSSF in 2010.
Giselle Anatol, a University of Kansas English Professor, and Interim Director of Graduate Studies, is the incoming Director of the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction. She responded to File 770’s questions with this update:
Thank you so much for reaching out to me about the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction. I am excited to take the helm, continuing many of the rich programs for which the Center is known, as well as developing new opportunities for creating and thinking about speculative fiction.
We would love to keep the Sturgeon Award at the Gunn Center, and are currently negotiating the terms with the Foundation. We are also still working out the management of the Campbell Award. The annual Campbell Conference was initially put on hold due to the pandemic, but since the leadership transition at the CSSF is occurring in the middle of the academic year, it might be too late for all administrative tasks to be accomplished for a summer gathering. Chris McKitterick has stated, however, that he plans to host and lead all types of workshops at the Ad Astra Center.
Kij Johnson, Associate Director of CSSF, also commented:
The Gunn Center remains in control of the Conference and the Campbell Award, and it will be up to them to decide what comes next. The Sturgeon Award was hosted by the Gunn Center but is under the control of the Sturgeon Literary Trust, and it will be up to that organization to do what they feel is best for the award.
Jason Baltazar, a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the University of Kansas Department of English, served as the Sturgeon Award Administrator this year, sending out press releases about the 2021 finalists and winner. The award has continued to be presented annually without interruption, although due to COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person ceremony has been postponed until a date to be announced.
The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction acknowledges and condemns the problematic words and actions of John W. Campbell.
We had already been discussing changing the name of the Campbell Conference to the Gunn Center Conference, which is in any case more accurate, as we’ve added other awards and events during to be presented there; recent events expedite that decision. We’ve already begun changing the name on our website and in promotional materials.
As for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science-fiction novel of the year, the Center directors and Award jurors are currently discussing alternatives; when a decision is made, we will announce it.
Earlier this year on McKitterick’s web domain (christopher-mckitterick.com) a statement was posted that the “Best of Pandemic” finalists and a new name for the Campbell Award were “to be announced [in] Fall 2021.”
However, since that time there has been no news about the award, which has not been given again since Ng’s speech. Its fate and its relationship with CSSF will be one of many things on the incoming Director’s agenda.
(1) AN APPEAL. [Item by rcade.] In a series of tweets Tuesday, Astounding Award winner Jeannette Ng asks for more nuanced takes on problematic elements of literary works and less pat conclusions about what they reveal about the author. Thread starts here.
One of the commenters references the literary critic F. R. Leavis.
Leavis was an influential British critic who took the position that a great work must be a demonstration of the author’s intense moral seriousness and that by reading it “the reader would acquire moral sensibility — a sense of what was true and good — which transcended social differences,” according to the Cambridge History of Literary Criticism.
… “Leaving this here in the event that the powers that be are listening,” Burton, 64, tweeted Monday alongside a petition started by a fan of the beloved “Star Trek” actor. The document boasted over 130,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning.
The petition comes amid a feverish push on Twitter for the wholesome television icon to host the gameshow.
…We also get brief snippets about the origin of Sheldon (a.k.a. The Utopian) and his cohort’s powers; the trailer ominously teases the long-ago events “on the island” that turned a group of mere mortals into superhuman beings. (This group would then bear the name The Union). More will reveal as the series approaches, and we’re looking forward to unwrapping some of these mysteries once it hits Netflix on May 7.
Impossible,” said David Ward. The London Metropolitan Police constable looked up. Some 50 feet above him, he saw that someone had carved a gaping hole through a skylight. Standing in the Frontier Forwarding warehouse in Feltham, West London, he could hear the howl of jets from neighboring Heathrow Airport as they roared overhead.
At Ward’s feet lay three open trunks, heavy-duty steel cases. They were empty. A few books lay strewn about. Those trunks had previously been full of books. Not just any books. The missing ones, 240 in all, included early versions of some of the most significant printed works of European history.
Gone was Albert Einstein’s own 1621 copy of astronomer Johannes Kepler’s The Cosmic Mystery, in which he lays out his theory of planetary motion. Also missing was an important 1777 edition of Isaac Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, his book describing gravity and the laws of physics. Among other rarities stolen: a 1497 update of the first book written about women, Concerning Famous Women; a 1569 version of Dante’s Divine Comedy; and a sheath with 80 celebrated prints by Goya. The most valuable book in the haul was a 1566 Latin edition of On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, by Copernicus, in which he posits his world-changing theory that Earth and the other planets revolve around the sun. That copy alone had a price tag of $293,000. All together, the missing books—stolen on the night of January 29, 2017, into early the next day—were valued at more than $3.4 million. Given their unique historical significance and the fact that many contained handwritten notes by past owners, most were irreplaceable.
Scotland Yard’s Ward was stunned. He couldn’t recall a burglary like this anywhere. The thieves, as if undertaking a special-ops raid, had climbed up the sheer face of the building. From there, they scaled its pitched metal roof on a cold, wet night, cut open a fiberglass skylight, and descended inside—without tripping alarms or getting picked up by cameras.…
(5) BOOKS FOR PRISONERS ASKED. [Item by rcade.] The shelves of the Appalachian Prison Book Project are running low on science fiction and fantasy, the charity revealed recently in a tweet:
The project sends free books to people imprisoned in Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
They seek new and used paperbacks only and have more detailed donation guidelines on their website.
“We receive about 200 letters every week from people incarcerated in our region,” a project coordinator told File 770 in email. “It’s a wide range of requests. Generally, people choose a few genres they are interested in to ask about in their letter. We have sci-fi and fantasy as two separate categories on our genre list, and we don’t include subgenres, so people choose whatever genres they want to read.”
Asked if there are particular preferences within SFF, the coordinator replied, “We occasionally get requests for specific authors, but unless they have a specific title in mind, most people list themes and topics. For example, thay may want to read books about time travel or vampires or wizards or interstellar exploration. It’s our volunteers who search through our donated books to find the best fit for them.”
The charity’s Voices from the Inside page shares testimonials from grateful prisoners about the books they’ve received.
A prisoner in Whiteville, Tennessee, praised a 2002 vampire novel by Simon Clark: “Thank you so much for my copy of Vampyrrhic! I loved it! As I have said before not many people want to fool with us old convicts.”
Donations of books should fill no more than two medium-sized boxes and be sent using the U.S. Postal Service to this address:
Appalachian Prison Book Project PO Box 601 Morgantown, WV 26507
The iconic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is coming back in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, but he’s a lot smaller and more numerous than you remember. In the first official clip from director Jason Reitman’s long-delayed film, seismologist Mr. Grooberson (Ant-Man‘s Paul Rudd) comes across a army of mini Stay Puft men while shopping for ice cream.
They’re wreaking absolute havoc in the store, riding around on Roombas and roasting each other on BBQs (their chaotic antics bringing to mind Joe Dante’s Gremlins and composer Rob Simonsen subtly pays homage to Elmer Bernstein’s eerie score from 1984). Don’t be fooled by their cuteness, though — Grooberson attempts to poke one of the Stay Puft men in the stomach — à la the Pillsbury Doughboy — with painful results.
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
April 7, 1933 — On this day in 1933, King Kong premiered. It was directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. The screenplay was written by James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose from an idea by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace. It stars Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot and Robert Armstrong. Critics mostly loved it, the box office was quite amazing and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an astonishing ninety eighty percent approval rating. It has been ranked by Rotten Tomatoes as the fourth greatest horror film of all time. You can watch it here as it’s very much in the public domain.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 7, 1882 – Ogawa Mimei. (Personal name last, Japanese style.) Called the founder of Japanese fairy tales. The 2018 collection under that name has “The Mermaid and the Red Candles”, five more. See another story here – I mean that, do see it. (Died 1961) [JH]
Born April 7, 1915 — Stanley Adams. He’s best known for playing Cyrano Jones in “The Trouble with Tribbles” Trek episode. He reprised his role in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode “More Tribbles, More Troubles” and archival footage of him was later featured in the Deep Space Nine “Trials and Tribble-ations” episode. He also appeared in two episodes of the Batman series (“Catwoman Goes to College” and “Batman Displays his Knowledge”) as Captain Courageous. (Died 1977.) (CE)
Born April 7, 1915 — Henry Kuttner. While he was working for the d’Orsay agency, he found Leigh Brackett’s early manuscripts in the slush pile; it was under his guidance that she sold her first story to Campbell at Astounding Stories. His own work was done in close collaboration with C. L. Moore, his wife, and much of what they would publish was under pseudonyms. During the Forties, he also contributed numerous scripts to the Green Lantern series. He’s won two Retro Hugos, the first at Worldcon 76 for “The Twonky” short story, the second at Dublin 2019 for “Mimsy Were the Borogoves”. (Died 1958.) (CE)
Born April 7, 1928 — James White. Certainly the Sector General series which ran to twelve books and ran over thirty years of publication was his best known work. I’ve no idea how many I read but I’m certain that it was quite a few. I’m not sure what else by him I’ve read but I’m equally sure there was other novels down the years. It appears that only a handful of the novels are available from the usual suspects. (Died 1999.) (CE)
Born April 7, 1930 – Ronald Mackelworth. Five novels “usually involving complex but rarely jumbled plotting” (John Clute), a score of shorter stories. Here is a Barbara Walton cover for Firemantle. (Died 2000) [JH]
Born April 7, 1935 – Marty Cantor, age 86. Long-time fanziner; self-knowledge entitled his Hugo-finalist (as we must now say) fanzine Holier Than Thou; with another, No Award, I could tell him “You are worthy of No Award, and No Award is worthy of you.” While he & Robbie Bourget were married they were elected DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegates together, publishing two reports, one each, bound head-to-tail like an Ace Double; they were Fan Guests of Honor at Alternacon. MC later chaired Corflu 34 (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable), published Phil Castora’s memoir Who Knows What Ether Lurks in the Minds of Fen? Arrived among us in his forties, an exception to yet another theory. Earned LASFS’ Evans-Freehafer Award Los Angeles Science Fantasy Soc.; service). [JH]
Born April 7, 1939 — Francis Ford Coppola, 82. Director / Writer / Producer. THX 1138 was produced by him and directed by George Lucas in his feature film directorial debut in 1971. Saw it late at night after some serious drug ingestion with a red head into Morrison — strange experience that was. Other genre works of note include Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a episode of Faerie Tale Theatre entitled Rip Van Winkle, Twixt (a horror film that I’m betting almost no one has heard of), Captain EO which featured Michael Jackson, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Jeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers2. (CE)
Born April 7, 1945 – Susan Petrey. Six novels, nine shorter stories. Her vampires are non-supernatural. Interviewed in Lightspeed. Good writing and an early death prompted a Clarionscholarship in her name. (Died 1980) [JH]
Born April 7, 1946 — Stan Winston. He’s best known for his work in Aliens, the Terminator franchise, the first three Jurassic Park films, the first two Predator films, Batman Returns and Iron Man. (He also did the Inspector Gadget film which I still haven’t seem.) He was unusual in having expertise in makeup, puppets and practical effects, and was just starting to get in digital effects as well upon the time of his passing. I think we sum up his talent by noting that he won an Oscars for Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup for his work on Terminator 2: Judgment Day. (Died 2008.) (CE)
Born April 7, 1951 — Yvonne Gilbert, 70. Though best remembered for her controversial cover design of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s 1983 single “Relax”, she did a number of great genre covers including Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea for Bantam in 1991 and Beagle’s A Dance for Emiliafor Roc in 2000. (CE)
Born April 7, 1981 – Lili Wilkinson, Ph.D., age 40. A novel and two shorter stories for us; many others (I’m not counting e.g. Joan of Arc). Won a stopwatch in a Readathon. Established Inky Awards at the Centre for Youth Literature, State Library of Victoria. [JH]
Born April 7, 1982 – Zoë Marriott, age 39. Nine novels. Sasakawa Prize. Two cats, one named Hero after the Shakespearian character (hurrah! she’s so cool! – JH), and the other Echo after the nymph in Greek myth. Finishes a list of favorite songs with Spem in alium (hurrah! hurrah!). [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Shoe’s answer to a science question might qualify as science fantasy.
(12) CHINA’S ANSWER TO SPOT? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] IFL Science introduces a “Video Showing ‘Robot Army’ Released By Chinese Robotics Company”. The story includes two tweets with embedded videos. The one with a large number of robot dogs where they just stand up then lay back down appears to me to be real. The other one, where they do tricks together, is pretty clearly CGI layered over the real world.
Unitree Robotics appears to be China’s answer to Boston Dynamics, designing and manufacturing mobile, autonomous four-legged robots that are able to handle obstacles and right themselves after a stumble.
Their products are all variants of a similar dog-like design, including BenBen, Aliengo, Laikago, and A1….
Paramount+ has released the first trailer for the upcoming fourth season of Star Trek: Discovery, which is set to premiere later this year. The video features Sonequa Martin-Green’s Captain Burnham as she leads the crew against an unknown threat that could possibly destroy all of them without any warning.
(15) BURGER COSPLAY. [Item by Daniel Dern. Except for tasteless quote selected by OGH.] Given Kevin Smith’s sf activities, e.g., writing comics like the (wonderful) Green Arrow Quiver series (plot arc?), some involvement with the semi-recent WB “Crisis” episodes (or at least one of the aftershows) and other stuff i can’t remember – let’s mention “Kevin Smith talks fast food ahead of his Boston pop-up restaurant ribbon-cutting”. (I saw this info as an article in today’s Boston Globe, but I know the MSN link isn’t paywalled..)
Boston’s House of Blues will transform into a pop-up Mooby’s, the fictional burger chain that appears in various Kevin Smith movies, April 8-16.
Fans will remember the mascot, Mooby the golden calf, that enrages Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s characters in “Dogma.” Chris Rock’s character eats at a Mooby’s in the same film. Mooby’s also appears in “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” and “Clerks II.”…
Q. So why Boston?
A. House of Blues reached out, and said: We’d do that. We never pressure anybody. We just wait for folks to reach out. The good thing about Mooby’s is it’s fake, so [no matter what building you dress up] people can’t say: ‘Well this don’t look like Mooby’s!’ Well what does? How many Mooby’s you been to exactly? Give us a day, and Derek will make it a Mooby’s.
Q. What’s your favorite menu item?
A. There’s a chicken sandwich in ‘Jay and Silent Bob Reboot’ called ‘Cock Smoker.’ We have that on our menu. It’s awesome to watch people try to order it in person. Generally everything is done on the reservation system in advance, but in LA, toward the end of the run, we opened it up [to walk-ins] and had four older ladies, each of giggling harder than the next when they ordered ‘Cock Smokers.’ I won’t get rich off restaurants, but that is wealth that you can’t measure.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Godzilla Vs. Kong” on Honest Trailers, the Screen Junkies say the film has such poor continuity with its two predecessors that it has “characters who forgot to mention they were related,” “characters they forgot to mention entirely” and a major plot point that didn’t appear in the two earlier films. And watch out for Brian Tyree Henry as an annoying exposition-spouting podcaster! BEWARE SPOILERS.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Jennifer Hawthorne, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, John Hertz, Alan Baumler, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day rcade.]
The weight of every known meteorite is less than the world’s annual output of gold, and this sale offers spectacular examples for every collector, available at estimates ranging from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The sale will offer 72 of the 75 lots at no reserve, with estimates starting at $250….
There are a dozen offerings of the Moon and the planet Mars and another dozen from some of the most famous museums in the world — as well as meteorites containing gems from outer space.
As the United States Space Force has been debated and ultimately stood up, it has often been linked with various science fiction undertakings, most prominently, Star Trek. For the most part, the science fiction connections are not new in the history of space and can be beneficial. Yet being compared to science fiction also presents challenges for the Space Force. This article begins by analyzing both qualitative and quantitative evidence of a science fiction-Space Force link, and finds that this link has been prevalent over the past several years. The space domain is susceptible to science fiction-based influences because of the unknowns that remain with space-based operations. This is even more true with respect to the public’s view of the Space Force. Thus, the leaders of the Space Force are forced to address the cognitive dissonance between what the public expects and what the Space Force can actually achieve in the near- to mid-term. Space Force leaders should therefore focus on “de-science fictionalizing” to draw a distinction between imagined futures and strategic challenges of today….
(3) A COMPLEX STEW OF FEELS. Jeannette Ng shares a whole chain of thoughts set off by watching Wandavision. Thread starts here.
CA What inspires you to write poetry and why speculative poetry? (What themes do you explore or do they always change?)
LDA: I am a big daydreamer from when I was a young child and those daydreams were always speculative, things like cats with wings. I was totally into the early fables with animals that talked and walked. I’ve always wondered What if? in the realm of Speculative-ness. Although I write fiction too, poetry is my first voice. I hear poetry inside all the time.
Everything inspires me to write, my reactions to the world around me and inside me. I’m not sure I can look at my work and say what themes they explore, since I write organically, without a lot of planning, unless I’m writing to a theme for a project. I would say the themes change, depending on what touches my heart and soul. Perhaps this is a question better answered by my readers.
(5) HOW CAN YOU RESIST? Ann Leckie has something to share:
(6) A FANNISH CENTENNIAL. First Fandom Experience celebrates the hundredth anniversary tomorrow of the birth of John V. Baltadonis (1921-1998) in “JVB 100”. Lots of his early fanzine art, and work he did when he got really good later on. A leading Philadelphia fan who attended the claimed First Convention held in his hometown in 1936, and traveled to New York for the first Worldcon in 1939, Baltadonis was elected to the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1998.
…If you talk to Levine long enough, soon you realize it’s not necessarily the comics he treasures the most. Anyone with money can buy comics, he notes. It’s the weird stuff that he covets, like a collection of 1990s-era Fruit Roll-Ups boxes that he’s only seen go up for auction once or twice and finally snagged. There’s still one, featuring the villain the Rhino, that he doesn’t own, and it eats him up inside because he’s seen an advertisement for it and knows it exists. (“I’d pay $10,000 for it, because in 35 years I’ve never seen it [at auction],” says Levine.)
These are his holy grails.
Among the other rarities: storyboards for James Cameron’s aborted Spider-Man movie; a never-sold, Spider-Man themed Camel Cigarette pack; and a letter Ditko wrote a fan in which the notoriously grumpy artist tells the recipient what he really thinks.
…He was cast as Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, in three films: Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966), Tarzan and the Great River (1967), and Tarzan and the Jungle Boy (1968).
His run as the jungle lord ended after being bitten by a chimpanzee while filming.
Henry segued into another franchise in 1977, playing Junior, the son of Jackie Gleason’s Sheriff Buford T. Justice, in Smokey and the Bandit. He reprised the role in the film’s 1981 and 1983 sequels.
Among Henry’s other film roles were appearances in Skyjacked (1972), Soylent Green (1973) and The Longest Yard (1974). His TV credits included roles on M*A*S*H, General Hospital and Fantasy Island….
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1981 — Thirty years ago at Denventon Two, Gordon R. Dickson had the ever so rare accomplishment of winning two Hugos at a single Con, first for the Best Novella for “Lost Dorsai” which been published in Destinies v2 #1 Feb/Mar 1980, second for Best Novelette for “The Cloak and the Staff” which had been published in Analog in August of 1980. Other than an earlier short story Hugo for “ Soldier, Ask Not”, these are the only Hugos that he won.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 6, 1850 – Elizabeth Champney. Three novels for us; a hundred all told, also shorter stories, essays, poems, travel. A Vassar woman; see here. From In the Sky-Garden, here is her husband James Champney’s title page; here is “A Ride on the Rocket-Star”. (Died 1922) [JH]
Born February 6, 1922 — Patrick Macnee. He was best known as the secret agent John Steed in The Avengers, a role he reprised in the New Avengers. Avoid the putrid Avengers film which he is not in at peril of your soul. He made his genre debut as Young Jacob Marley in Scrooge. He then starred as Derek Longbow in Incense for the Damned (also released as Bloodsuckers, Freedom Seeker Incense for the Damned and Bloodsuckers, Freedom Seeker and Doctors Wear Scarlet). Next up is an uncredited role voicing Imperious Leader on the original Battlestar Galactica. He played Captain John Good R.N. in King Solomon’s Treasure based rather loosely on the H. Rider Haggard source material. What else? Let’s see… he shows up in The Howling as Dr. George Waggner, as Dr. stark in a film as alternative title is, I kid you not, Naked Space and Spaceship. It’s a parody apparently of Alien. Next up for him is another toff named Sir Wilfred in Waxwork and its sequel. Yes, he wears a suit rather nicely. At least being Professor Plocostomos in Lobster Man from Mars is an open farce. Yes, let me note that he had a voice only role in the absolutely awful remake of The Avengers as Invisible Jones, a Ministry Agent. I do hope they paid him well. His last film work was genre as well, The Low Budget Time Machine, in which he started as Dr. Bernard. (Died 2015.) (CE)
Born February 6, 1924 — Sonya Dorman. Her best-known work of SF is “When I Was Miss Dow” which received an Otherwise retrospective award nomination. She also appeared in Dangerous Visions with the “Go, Go, Go, Said the Bird” story. Poem “Corruption of Metals” won a Rhysling Award. (Died 2005.) (CE)
Born February 6, 1932 — Rip Torn. First genre work that comes to mind is of course RoboCop 3 and his Men in Black films. His first dip into our world comes as Dr. Nathan Bryce In The Man Who Fell to Earth. Yeah that film. Actually if you count Alfred Hitchcock Presents, he’s been a member of our community since his Twenties. He also shows up on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well. (Died 2019.) (CE)
Born February 6, 1947 – Eric Flint, age 74. Auto, oil, and steel worker, glassblower, longshoreman, machinist, meatpacker, truck driver, and trade-union activist, with a master’s degree in History from Univ. Cal. Los Angeles, he’s the publisher of Ring of Fire Press (first virtual RoFcon, 8-11 Oct 20) and the Grantville Gazette; fourscore novels, threescore shorter stories, many with co-authors; anthologies. He edited the 2002 editions of Garrett’s Lord Darcy stories and Laumer’s Retief stories; wrote an appreciation of Tom Kidd for the 2018 World Fantasy Convention. [JH]
Born February 6, 1948 — Larry Todd, 73. Writer and cartoonist, best known for the decidedly adult Dr. Atomic strips that originally appeared in the underground newspaper The Sunday Paper and his other work in underground comics, often with a SF bent. In our circles, Galaxy Science Fiction, Amazing Science Fiction and Imagination were three of his venues. He also did some writing for If. He also did, and it’s really weird art, the cover art and interior illustrations for Harlan Ellison’s Chocolate Alphabet. (CE)
Born February 6, 1950 – Michele Lundgren, age 71. Known to us as the wife of Detroit graphic artist Carl Lundgren (four Chesleys including Artistic Achievement), she has been doing artwork of her own as a photographer; two books, The Photographic Eye and Side Streets. [JH]
Born February 6, 1958 – Marc Schirmeister, age 63. To borrow a line from Robert Silverberg about someone else, we’re all unique here but some of us are more unique than others. Schirm has quietly – no – unobtrusively – no – well, idiosyncratically drawn Schirmish creatures for Alexiad, Amra, Asimov’s, Banana Wings, Chunga, Fantasy Book, File 770, Flag, New Toy, the Noreascon 4 Program Book (62nd Worldcon), Riverside Quarterly, Vanamonde. Artist Guest of Honor at Westercon 63. Rotsler Award. Did the Five of Wands for Bruce Pelz’ Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck – all the images and BP’s introduction here (PDF). [JH]
Born February 6, 1959 – Curt Phillips, age 62. Corflu 50 Fan Fund delegate to Corflu 26 (fanziners’ convention; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid). TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate to Loncon 3 the 72nd Worldcon; report here. Interviewed Alexis Gilliland for SF Review. Co-ordinated celebrations of Bob Madle’s 100th birthday. Often seen in Banana Wings, Chunga, File 770, Flag, Raucous Caucus – the usual suspects. [JH]
Born February 6, 1974 — Rajan Khanna, 47. To quote his website, he’s “an author, reviewer, podcaster, musician, and narrator.” His three novels are from Pyr Books, all set in a fantastic universe of airships and steampunk, are Falling Sky, Rising Tide and Raining Fire. The audiobooks are first rate. (CE)
Born February 6, 1977 — Karin Tidbeck, 44. Their first work in English, Jagannath, a short story collection, made the shortlist for the Otherwise Award and was nominated for the World Fantasy Award. The short story “Augusta Prima”, originally written by her in Swedish, was translated into English by them which won them a Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Award in the Short Form category. Their next novel The Memory Theater is forthcoming this month. (CE)
Born February 6, 1990 – Isamu Fukui, age 31. (Personal name first, U.S. style.) Three novels, the first written when he was 15, much made of it and him; the others a prequel and a sequel. See here. [JH]
(11) COMICS SECTION.
What do we call this, a Bayeaux Tapestry for Star Trek?
Like so many others, we at the IAMTW watched—horrified, heartbroken, and furious—as the tumultuous events transpired in the Spring and Summer of 2020 in the U.S.. The IAMTW added its voice of support to those fighting for better conditions, for justice, and for more equal opportunities for everyone. We didn’t want to just speak up, however. We wanted to actually do something, no matter how small, to contribute to a solution. To that end…writers write. What could be more perfect than doing what we love to do, to help others and give readers something they’ll enjoy? While the social upheaval in the U.S. provided the impetus for this anthology, we realize that marginalization and prejudice are a worldwide problem. One of the best means of combating the disparities is education. Therefore all the proceeds from this book will go to the World Literacy Foundation (https://worldliteracyfoundation.org/) which promotes literacy worldwide with a focus on helping those who are underprivileged.
… This dazzling collection of uplifting and curious tales will take you through the centuries and from the depths of the ocean to the stars. You’ll discover well-known, beloved characters in new settings and circumstances. Penned by some of the finest writers working in tie-in fiction today.
Sherlock Holmes, John Carter of Mars, Hopalong Cassidy, Mulan, Dracula, Mina Harker, the Three Musketeers, Cyrano de Bergerac, Baron Munchausen, and Frankenstein’s Creature are a scattering of the literary souls that populate these pages. And cats. There are more than a few cats.
Mr. Dark is not only the ringmaster of the carnival but a member of the freakshow as well. His oddity? He is the Illustrated Man, The tattoos over his body shift, change, and alter. This is an impressive visual effect, but it’s also familiar to anyone exposed to Bradbury’s books.
Ray Bradbury’s short story collection, The Illustrated Man, is connected through an encounter with the titular Illustrated Man, whose ever-changing tattoos tell the stories in the book. The character is an aimless wanderer who tells the protagonist he was once a member of a carnival freakshow. Sounding familiar? Perhaps this was the true fate of Mr. Dark after the carnivals destruction? Who knows…
It’s not unusual for artificial intelligence developers to take inspiration from the human brain when designing their algorithms or the circuitry they run on, but now a project is taking that biological inspiration a step further.
Scientists from England’s Aston University are physically integrating human brain stem cells into AI microchips, according to a university press release. The goal, the scientists say, is to push the boundaries of what AI can do by borrowing some of the human brain’s processing capabilities.
The project, dubbed Neu-ChiP, sounds like the beginning of a sci-fi B movie where all-powerful AI runs amok. Typically, projects like this in the field of neuromorphic or brain-inspired computing focus on making AI algorithms more efficient, but Neu-ChiP aims to make them more powerful, too.
“Our aim is to harness the unrivaled computing power of the human brain to dramatically increase the ability of computers to help us solve complex problems,” Aston University mathematician David Saad said in the release. “We believe this project has the potential to break through current limitations of processing power and energy consumption to bring about a paradigm shift in machine learning technology.”
SpaceX launched 60 more Starlink internet satellites to orbit this morning (Feb. 4) on a mission that notched a booster-reusability milestone for the company.
A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket topped with the 60 broadband spacecraft lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 here at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station today at 1:19 a.m. EST (0619 GMT).
Approximately nine minutes later, the rocket’s first stage returned to Earth, landing smoothly on one of SpaceX’s drone ships in the Atlantic Ocean. The massive ship, “Of Course I Still Love You,” is one of two SpaceX vessels that catch falling boosters and return them to port.
It was the fifth launch for this Falcon 9 first stage, which last flew just 27 days ago — the quickest turnaround between missions for any SpaceX booster….
(17) WORLD OF TOMORROW. Next week’s Kickstarter might be a way to get a copy into your hands.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Superman Returns/The Science of Superman” on YouTube is a documentary that I believe was originally a bonus feature on the Superman Returns DVD that looks at whether Superman’s powers are scientifically plausible. For example: if Superman has heat vision, what’s the heat source? Does his X-ray vision deal in any way with how X-rays actually act in the real world? And, a question that entertained our parents when they were kids: if he’s invulnerable, how does he get a haircut?
Scientists including University of California (Irvine) physicist Michael Dennin and Chapman University biologist Frank Frisch explain the scientifc howlers. For example, remember in Superman: The Movie when Lois Lane falls off a skyscraper and Superman flies up to catch her? Dennin notes that Lois is falling at terminal velocity and if caught by a super-fast Superman Lois’s body would have 1000 times the impact than if Superman had stayed on the ground and caught her. Even more implausible is the scene where Superman turns back time because, unfortunately, no one has found a way to reverse time.
I thought this was worth an hour.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, Bill, Mike Kennedy, N., Dann, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]
The crew of the Discovery made a terrible sacrifice at the end of season two, leaving their lives as they knew them behind and flinging the ship 930 years into the future, where the Federation is in some dire straits of its own (again). Now it seems it’s up to Michael and her friends to remind them of what the Federation has fought hard to stand for.
Star Trek’s all-encompassing Star Trek Day livestream event just kicked off with the latest look at the third season of Discovery, our first since that major glimpse at New York Comic-Con last year.
(2) KLINGON GOES POSTAL. Robert J. Sawyer celebrated Star Trek Day on Facebook with this observation:
If you’d told Canadian actor John Collicos that his country would honour him with a stamp 50-odd years later for the four or five days of work he did as one of countless guest-starring roles over his career, he’d have thought you were out of your mind.
It’s part of this 2016 set:
(3) POD TREK. Tawny Newsome, of the Star Trek: Lower Decks voice cast, announced an upcoming podcast, Star Trek: The Pod Directive, which she will co-host with actor-comedian Paul F. Tompkins (BoJack Horseman).
Guests will include actor Ben Stiller, author Reza Aslan, “Star Trek: Picard” star Michelle Hurd, “Lower Decks” executive producer Mike McMahan, politician Stacey Abrams, comedian and “Discovery” costar Tig Notaro, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, and “Picard” and “Short Treks” composer Jeff Russo.
Newsome also debuted a preview for the show, which runs weekly Sept. 14 through Nov. 9.
All art is political. Strangely, Disney’s live-action Mulan is more obviously so than most.
Mulan makes the current nationalist mythology of a Han-dominated China the foundation of its story. That would be bad enough. But parts of it were also filmed at the location of current and ongoing mass human rights abuses, including cultural genocide, against ethnic minorities.
The credits of Mulan specifically thank the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region Committee, as well as the Public Security Bureau in the city of Turpan and other state entities there. The Public Security Bureau is one of the main forces administering the internment camps, enforcing the surveillance and interrogation of even nominally “free” Uighurs, forcing people into slave labor, demanding that Uighurs host Han guests employed by the government to spy on them, and sterilizing Uighur women. The Publicity Department—a term that used to be more honestly translated as the Propaganda Department—justifies these atrocities. Most of these policies were well in place—and some of them known in the West—by the time the film was shot, partly in Xinjiang, in 2018.
That should be the only thing that needs to be written. But there’s more.
Even before the film—which was not previously known to have been filmed in Xinjiang—arrived, it had blundered right into politics. Two of the film’s stars, Liu Yifei (Mulan) and Donnie Yen (Commander Tung), have voiced their support of the Hong Kong police against the city’s pro-democracy protests, thus sparking an online movement to boycott the film….
(5) DISNEY AMBITIONS. In a Washington Post opinion piece, “Why Disney’s new ‘Mulan’ is a scandal”, Isaac Stone Fish says that Disney credits “four Chinese Communist party propaganda departments in the region of Xinjiang and the Public Security Bureau of the city of Turpan in the same region–organizations that are facilitating crimes against humanity.” He says we need to know the extent to which Disney cooperated with instruments of Chinese repression against the Uighurs and that by filming in Xinjiang the 2020 version of Mulan is “Disney’s most problematic movie” since the racist Song Of The South. Fish also adds perspectives about Disney’s historic efforts to do business in China.
…Disney executives had thought that the original “Mulan” would please both the Chinese government and Chinese filmgoers. But because Disney had distributed “Kundun” (1997), a film glorifying the Dalai Lama, Beijing restricted the studio’s ability to work in China. Disney spent the next several years trying to get back into the party’s good graces. “We made a stupid mistake in releasing ‘Kundun,’” the then-CEO of Disney Michael Eisner told Premier Zhu Rongji in October 1998. “Here I want to apologize, and in the future we should prevent this sort of thing, which insults our friends, from happening.”
Since then, Disney has endeavored to please Beijing. The rewards have been immense, culminating in the successful opening of Shanghai Disneyland in June 2016. This park, Disney’s Executive Chairman Bob Iger said, is the “greatest opportunity the company has had since Walt Disney himself bought land in Central Florida.” Partnering with Xinjiang is another step that binds Disney closer to the party.
(6) HARD SF. [Item by Eric Wong.] Rocket Stack Rank has posted their annual compilation — “Outstanding Hard Science Fiction of 2019” — with 19 stories that were that were finalists for major SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction.
Included are some observations obtained by changing the Highlight from Free Online to Podcasts, changing the table View by Publication and Author, and Filtering the table by awards, year’s best anthologies, and reviewers.
Hard SF stories seem under-represented (8%) among SF/F awards with only 8 stories (and only 2 stories for major awards like Eugie and Locus) out of 99 total award-nominated stories from the 2019 Best SF/F. The only winner was “Sacrificial Iron” for the magazine-specific Asimov’s Science Fiction Readers’ Award.
As for RSR, we recommended 7 stories (3 award worthy), were neutral on 8 stories, and recommended against 4 stories (view by RSR rating).
(7) SLEEPING IN THE FACTORY. In “How Speculative Fiction Becomes Reality” on CrimeReads, Rob Hart says his 2018 novel The Warehouse has “an outside world so hostile people are forced indoors” and “an online retail merchant dominating the economy while the small business landscape is wiped out,” but that when he wrote his novel he thought the future he foresaw would happen a decade from now, not in 2020.
…Instead of the slow march of climate change and the steady drip of private interest trumping public good, it was a pandemic that ground the economy to a halt in a matter of weeks. We may not be housed in giant, city-sized live-work facilities, but most of us are now living at our jobs.
And hasn’t that been the whole point of the 21st century economy? Forcing you to come in sick, making you accept unpaid overtime and check your e-mail on the weekends—it was all about making it so you were always working. Even better if you barely left the office. Now you don’t.
Not to say there’s any fun in being right. Not with so much suffering and loss. Not with so many monumental failures in leadership. Not when facing the realization of just how fragile the system is, and how many holes there are in the safety net.
Your book came out in 2016 on the heels of a larger movement and reckoning within fandom about the role of authors of color and from marginalized communities. How does that longer history of marginalization and exclusion play into your view with the book or the world you’ve set up?
I knew that stuff was going on while I was writing, but history of dissatisfaction of fans of color goes back a lot further. In my research for the novel, I would be reading back issues of the Chicago Defender (the historic black newspaper in Chicago in the 1950s) to get a sense of what the issues of the day were in the black community at that time, and I would read the reviews section for movies and books and the things coming out then. A lot of it was very familiar in terms of the complaints that the reviewers had: we’ve got money, we want to buy movie tickets, we want to buy books, please make stuff that recognizes that we exist and that plays to us too.
The problem was that back then was that you could complain all you want it, but the only folks reading the Black press were Black folks who did not get to make decisions in Hollywood. So this dissatisfaction has always been there. It was expressed by friends of mine growing up, and there’s a woman named Pam Noles, who wrote an essay called Shame that was very influential when I was thinking about Lovecraft Country, which sort of talks about her evolution as a young Black nerd. One of the things she talks about that’s heartbreaking is experience going to see Star Wars for the first time and which for her as for me, was like a quasi-religious experience. But for her, it was also the moment where she finally understood what her parents had been trying to tell her about: this genre that you like doesn’t really appreciate you the way you seem to think it does.
September 8, 1973 — Star Trek: The Animated Series premiered on NBC. Featuring the voice work of the original cast with the exception of Walter Koenig which was apparently due to budget constraints. Most other voices were done by the cast but Sarek, Cyrano Jones and Harry Mudd were performed by the original actors. It would air for two seasons and twenty two episodes winning an Emmy for Outstanding Entertainment in a Children’s Series for its second season. David Gerrold, Chuck Menville, D.C. Fontana and Larry Niven would write scripts as would Walter Koenig. Roddenberry decided it wasn’t canon after it ended which didn’t stop scriptwriters from referring to it down the years in inventive ways, i.e. Elim Garak on DS9 mentions Edosian orchids, a reference to the character Arex here who’s an Edosian. (CE)
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 8, 1925 — Peter Sellers. Chief Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films which are surely genre, aren’t they? Of course, he had the tour de force acting experience of being Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley and Dr. Strangelove in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Amusingly he was involved in another of folk tale production over various mediums (film, radio, stage) including Cinderella, Tom Thumb, Mother Goose and Jack and The Beanstalk. (Died 1980.) (CE)
Born September 8, 1932 – John Boardman, Ph.D., 88. Physicist, fanziner, filker. Master of Diplomacy i.e. the board game. Treasurer of Nycon 3 (25th Worldcon). Life Member of the Lunarians, Fan Guest of Honor (with wife Perdita) at Lunacon 41. Officer of the Puddleby-on-the-Marsh Irregulars. Co-founder of the Beaker People’s Libation Front. “Science for Science Fiction” in Ares. Active in the Society for Creative Anachronism, served as Mural Herald of the East Kingdom. To be seen in Amra, Asimov’s, Locus, Riverside Quarterly, SF Review, Trumpet, Xero. “Because you are not John Boardman, is why.” [JH]
Born September 8, 1936 – Don Punchatz. Ninety covers, two hundred interiors for us; more outside our field. Here are Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation. Here is Nightwings.Here is Night of the Cooters. Artbook Don Punchatz, a retrospective. Spectrum Grandmaster. (Died 2009) [JH]
Born September 8, 1945 — Willard Huyck, 75. He’s got a long relationship with Lucas first writing American Graffiti and being the script doctor on Star Wars before writing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, andbefore being the writer and director on Howard the Duck which, yes, is a Lucasfilm. It’s the lowest rated on Rotten Tomatoes Lucasfilm production ever at 15% followed by Radioland Murders, the last script he’d write for Lucasfilm which would be a still dismal 24%. (CE)
Born September 8, 1947 – Bill Burns, 73. Attended every Eastercon (Unted Kingdom nat’l con) since 1965. Doc Weir Award (U.K. service award). Best known for founding and maintaining eFanzines.com. Fan Guest of Honour (with wife Mary) at Eastercon LX; at 77th Worldcon. A dozen FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards. [JH]
Born September 8, 1952 – Linda Addison, 68. For us, two dozen stories, ninety poems, in Apex, Asimov’s, Dark Matter, Tales of the Unanticipated, Tomorrow, three hundred fifty all told. Poetry editor of Space & Time, “Word Ninja” there. B.S. (mathematics) from Carnegie-Mellon. 2002 Rhysling anthology. First black Stoker winner; won four more. Horror Writers’ Lifetime Achievement award. [JH]
Born September 8, 1954 — Mark Lindsay Chapman, 66. Sorry DCU but the best Swamp Thing series was done nearly thirty years ago and starred the late Dick Durock as Swamp Thing and this actor as his chief antagonist, Dr. Anton Arcane. Short on CGI, but the scripts were brilliant. Chapman has also shown up in Poltergeist: The Legacy, The New Adventures of Superman, The Langoliers and Max Headroom to name a few of his genre appearances. (CE)
Born September 8, 1958 – Danny Flynn, 62. Hundreds of covers, computer-game illustrations, in and out of our field; biology, detective fiction, golf. Here is the May 94 Interzone. Here is I Will Fear No Evil (surely one of our best book titles). Here is Wild Seed. Artbook Only Visiting This Planet. [JH]
Born September 8, 1965 — Matt Ruff, 54. I think that his second book Sewer, Gas & Electric: The Public Works Trilogy is his best work to date though I do like Fool on The Hill a lot. Any others of his I should think about reading? And, of course, there the adaptation of Lovecraft Country which I’ve not see as I don’t have HBO. (CE)
Born September 8, 1966 — Gordon Van Gelder, 54. From 1997 until 2014, he was editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, (and later publisher, which he remains), for which he has awarded twice, and quite well deserved they were, the Hugo for Best Editor Short Form at Nippon 2007 and at Denvention 3. He was also a managing editor of The New York Review of Science Fiction from 1988 to 1993, for which he was nominated for the Hugo a number of times. (CE)
Born September 8, 1975 — C. Robert Cargill, 45. He, along with Scott Derrickson and Jon Spaihts, worked on the script for Doctor Strange. More intriguingly they’re writing the script for The Outer Limits, a movie based on the television show. The film, produced by MGM, will be adapted from just the “Demon with a Glass Hand” episode begging the question of what they’re writing for a script given that Ellison did write the Writers Guild of America Awards winning Outstanding Script for a Television Anthology script. (CE)
Born September 8, 1979 – Bianca Turetsky, 41. Three novels, four shorter stories with Courtney Sheinmel. In the novels, illustrated by Sandra Suy, Louise Lambert buying dresses on sale from strange folk finds they take her back in time, pleasing Kirkus, Seventeen, and the Historical Novel Society. [JH]
(12) WEARING THE HORNS. Added to the fanhistory site THEN, Ken Cheslin’s 1989 piece “SADO and the 1960s Brum Group – a memoir”. Curator Rob Hansen says, “This might interest a few people, if only for how much Ken Cheslin’s Viking character Olaf coincidentally resembles the later ‘Hagar the Horrible’.”
(13) WINNING NAME. L. Jagi Lamplighter has decided her new column at Superversive SF will be called “Slice of Light”, and follows the title announcement with a heartwarming preview of coming attractions. Even you heathens might enjoy this one.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a longtime fan of “The Princess Bride,” took aim at cast members of the cult classic over the weekend after reports emerged of their plans to reunite for a fundraiser supporting Democrats in Wisconsin.
Cast members from the film will be taking part in a virtual table read for the fundraiser — which a site for the event said will feature actors Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin and Billy Crystal.
In a tweet reacting to the news on Saturday, Cruz referred to lines from Inigo Montoya, a character portrayed by Patinkin in the 1987 film.
“Do you hear that Fezzik? That is the sound of ultimate suffering. My heart made that sound when the six-fingered man killed my father,” he wrote in the tweet.
“Every Princess Bride fan who wants to see that perfect movie preserved from Hollywood politics makes it now,” Cruz, who has been vocal in the past about his feelings for the film and acted out a scene from the flick when he was running for president in 2015, added….
…Historians and archaeologists not involved in the recent research on Hatteras were more skeptical, saying that the evidence was inconclusive and that they wanted to see peer-reviewed work. They also said the argument was not new: The idea that the Croatoans, as the Native people on Hatteras were called, adopted at least some of the settlers has long been considered plausible.
“Sure, it’s possible — why wouldn’t it be?” said Malinda Maynor Lowery,a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “People don’t get lost. They get murdered, they get stolen, they get taken in. They live and die as members of other communities.”
Dr. Maynor Lowery presented a similar possibility in her 2018 book on the history of the Lumbee people, the descendants of dozens of tribes in a wide region including eastern North Carolina. Despite violence by the English against Croatoan villagers, she wrote, the settlers probably took refuge with them.
“The Indians of Roanoke, Croatoan, Secotan and other villages had no reason to make enemies of the colonists,” she wrote. “Instead, they probably made them kin.”
The English landed into a complicated fray of conflict and shifting alliances, said Lauren McMillan, a professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va.
“They’re all interfighting, and these different groups are trying to use the English against one another,” she said. “The Croatoans perhaps saw the English as a powerful ally and sources of valuable new things.”
Dr. Maynor Lowery, who is Lumbee, added that the “lost colony” story is itself based on the incorrect premise “that Native people also disappeared, which we didn’t.”
The story, she said, was like “a monument that has to come down,” adding that “it’s harder to dismantle an origin story than a statue.”
Not Mute in the Winter… In the first part of the show, we’ll be discussing the potential of AI to be useful to society in general, but we’ll be taking a greater look at where there are possibilities for AI to be misused or even abused if not properly handled. Our primary questions in this part of the show will be to ask where AI can be biased, how bias is introduced into AI systems, examples of attacks on AI and how these then manifest in the world. We’ll be looking at the social implications of using AI in situations where previously only human judgement has been deployed and how this is spreading to encompass more decision-making processes.
Turing Test Failed, They Suspect Nothing… Our show corner will be looking at theoretical examples of how a number of simple and sensible decisions could give rise to AI that can go from beneficial to nefarious.
Terminating Skynet… In the second part of the show, we’ll be looking will be how to ensure an ethical approach to the development and control of Artificial Intelligence. How we should go about securing AI systems and the methods of embedding ethics throughout the lifecycle of AI and its usages. We will also delve into the social vs institutional approaches to Ethical AI.
The panelists include:
Steve Orrin – Federal CTO, Intel Corp
Dr. Jim Short – Research Director, Lead Scientist and co-founder of the Center for Large Scale Data Systems (CLDS) at the San Diego Supercomputer Center.
Chloe Autio – AI Policy Lead for Intel Corp
Dr. Andrew Harding – Senior Technology and Policy Adviser at Centre for Data Ethics & Innovation for the UK Government
The A.I. research team at MIT is hailing it as a breakthrough in their field that will finally allow them to kick back and relax a little bit. We have the latest on what the now-sentient robotic life forms have planned next.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” on Youtube, the Screen Junkies take on the fine film that entertained a “generation of latch-key kids” in the 1990s.
[Thanks to John King Tarpnian, N., JJ, Alan Baumler, Eric Wong, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day C.A. Collins.]
…Minneapolis property owners have complained that the policy was slowing the pace of recovery and turning piles of debris into public safety hazards. The situation is different in St. Paul, which has been issuing demolition permits without requiring the prepayment of the second half of 2020 property taxes, which are due in October.
…“This will remove one small roadblock, but I am not sure how much it will actually speed up the entire rebuilding process,” said Don Blyly, owner of Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores in Minneapolis, which were destroyed in the riots. “You are still going to have the problem of a whole lot of demolition permits being handled by people who are working at home because of COVID-19.”
Blyly, who hired a contractor to remove the rubble from his lot a month ago, still doesn’t have his demolition permit, even though he paid his taxes last week.
Minneapolis City Council Member Andrew Johnson said he will introduce legislation at Friday’s council meeting that would require city officials to expedite the approval process for riot-damaged properties and waive all administrative fees.
“We should be processing their applications first, in front of everyone else’s, and they shouldn’t be subject to any unnecessary steps that are slowing stuff down,” Johnson said. “We need to bend over backward and do everything possible to help them with rebuilding.”
(2) F&SF COVER. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction’s Sept/Oct 2020 cover art is by Bob Eggleton for “The Shadows of Alexandrium” by David Gerrold.
(3) QUITE A FASCINATING ARTICLE. In “My First Thriller: David Morrell” on CrimeReads, Rick Pullen interviews Morrell, who explains that sf writer and Penn State English professor Philip Klass not only inspired Morrell to find the path he needed to complete First Blood (whose protagonist was John Rambo) but also introduced Morrell to his first agent.
…He read the show’s credits, noting that Stirling Silliphant was the creator. His local library found the address for the “Route 66” production company (the beginning of Morrell’s love affair with libraries). He mailed Silliphant a hand-written letter, saying “I want to be you.” Surprisingly, Silliphant wrote back with a single-spaced, two-page letter within the week. (The framed letter now hangs in Morrell’s office.)
“I wish I had some specific advice for you or encouragement,” wrote Silliphant, “but what I have to say is certainly not new. Keep writing…eventually if you have something of promise to say, someone will help you or hire you.”
…While at Penn State, he met science fiction writer Philip Klass, better known by the pseudonym William Tenn, who taught the basics of fiction writing.
“It was astonishing that a university would hire a real writer. He did not have a degree. He was the backbone of their creative writing department…I couldn’t get into his classes. They filled up right away. So Klass agreed to meet me during office hours.”
To test Morrell, Klass instructed him to turn in a short story every week, and every week he did.
Eventually Klass summoned Morrell to his office and begged him to stop writing fiction. “You’re terrible,” he said.
“He was right,” Morrell says. “I was writing bad Joyce and Faulkner.”
From Klass, he learned “every writer has a dominant emotion.” Morrell’s was fear. Maybe if he wrote honestly about fear, Klass told him, he would stop writing all of his horrible imitation fiction.
“I took him at his word.”…
(4) HELP NEEDED. Filer Lenora Rose hopes someone can lend a hand:
I have a writer’s issue to do with language — specifically semi-Nordic language — and I think this might be the right place to ask for help?
So I’m dealing with a fantasy setting that is used for the course of at least three books. One of the countries major characters come from speaks something I have been rendering, for the purpose of getting through the rough drafts, as quasi-Nordic — sometimes actually looking up words in Swedish or Norwegian or Icelandic and picking the one that sounds the least like English, and also going a Germanic style take two or three words and squish them together. It didn’t help that I decided they were the culture where the names of humans mostly translate to other nouns (Snow, Willow, etc) and the names of the non-human sapient race are usually those Germanic-style squished-together compounds (Bright Witty Magpie is one, as is Stream in Spring Flood). The protagonist is a multi-linguist and cares about this stuff.
Well, the story is now getting into final draft stages in every other way, and the placeholder language is still something that would almost certainly give any linguist or speaker of any of the related Scandinavian languages creeping horrors.
It certainly bothers me, because in the “I don’t know what I don’t know” way, I’m terrified I am going to end up, (as one author did when inventing names she thought sounded Welsh), naming someone a slang term for women’s hygiene products or something similarly terrible.
So basically I need a consult with someone who speaks a related language and would be willing to make non-painful translations or naming suggestions, or a linguist to do the same. *I am assuming this is something where I should pay for their time in some way*, at least if it goes past an initial consultation.
If anyone is willing to help, please relay your email through OGH – mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com
….With 2020 seeing the re-emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, leading to many conversations about inclusivity, [George R.R.] Martin’s mispronunciations have taken on a deeper meaning.
“The backlash is absolutely justified,” said Hugo award winner and British fantasy author Jeanette Ng. “But I am sometimes frustrated that it gets reduced down to an anger about him mispronouncing names rather than this deeper tension between competing visions of the genre and the award…Whilst the mispronunciations matter, they are ultimately a symptom of that deeper disconnect of what the [awards are meant to do].”
(6) ASFA SPONSORS BIPOC MEMBERSHIPS. The Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists is offering “Sponsored Memberships For BIPOC”. Donations have raised the number available to 15.
In recognition of systemic biases against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, & other People of Color) both within the Speculative Fiction & Fantasy communities and without, the Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists intends to sponsor memberships in the organization for BIPOC artists. These sponsorships will be open to up-and-coming artists as well as established artists, and each membership will convey voting rights in the annual Chesley Awards in addition to periodic opportunities to exhibit in shows with other ASFA artists. Additionally, ASFA encourages its BIPOC members to participate in our Board elections, as candidates for Board positions and as voters, to ensure that the organization’s representatives are truly representative of our membership and our aspirations for the community overall.
The site of America’s first nuclear meltdown — and subsequent cover-up — in the picturesque hills of Ventura County may soon join Hearst Castle, the cable cars of San Francisco, and the Santa Barbara Mission as an official landmark in the National Register of Historic Places.
In what some have described as a cynical attempt by a U.S. government agency to avoid a long-promised cleanup of toxic and radioactive contaminants, NASA has nominated the Santa Susana Field Laboratory for official listing asa traditional cultural property.
…Hidden within the chaparral and rocky peaks of the Simi Hills, the Santa Susana Field Lab conducted research that was critical to the nation’s Cold War ambitions, yet toxic to the Earth. The partial meltdown released radioactive gasses that the public was never warned about, and spent rocket fuel, heavy metals and other toxins contaminated the soil and groundwater.
…Now, NASA and a coalition of Native American groups have proposed the area be designated a traditional cultural district. The move has been opposed by critics, who fear that strict laws protecting Native American artifacts, combined with terms of the 2010 agreement, could make it difficult to clean up contamination.
4. Winning an award is not always as important as being a finalist. I can speak to this personally: In terms of my career, it was far more important for me to have been nominated for the Best Novel Hugo award in 2006, than it was for me to win it in 2013. Why? Because in 2006 I was new to the field, and having my first novel nominated was a thing, especially when coupled with the nomination for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. I was the first person in more than twenty years to get nominated for the Campbell and Best Novel in the same year, and it changed my status in the field from “who is John Scalzi” to “oh, that’s John Scalzi.”
I didn’t win the Hugo that year (nor should I have: Spin by Robert Charles Wilson won, and deservedly so), but it didn’t matter because the boost put me in a different career orbit. When I did win the Best Novel award, several years later, it was great, and I loved it, and I wouldn’t trade the experience. But careerwise, it wasn’t a transforming event. It was a confirming event. My professional career didn’t change all that much after I won. Whereas being nominated earlier was transforming, and ultimately more important to my career.
…The novel, which follows the love story between vampire Edward Cullen and high schooler Bella Swan that fans originally fell for in the first Twilight book back in 2005, is currently No. 1 on USA Today’s Best-Selling Books List as well as on The New York Times’s Children’s Series List. While the original book series —which was adapted into a franchise of movies starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in the leading roles — was told from the point of view of Bella, this version takes readers inside the mind of her bloodsucking boyfriend, Edward.
Something about that last line sounds a little off….
When I first envisioned Web-beings, it was a thought experiment on a biological basis for being semi-immortal. I arrived at the notion of organisms who manipulate their molecular structure using energy to repair aging and damage. It led me to aliens who’d hide themselves by cycling, as I called it, into the form of shorter-lived intelligent species. To be convincing, they’d need to know how to behave as one. Thus I had them (there were six at the start) collect and share everything they discovered about a species, from its biology (and thus how to be that form) to every aspect of society and culture.
When your memory consists of your flesh, you’re able to store vast amounts of information, which Web-beings exchange by biting off bits of one another. (I love my job.)…
(11) A CONZEALAND SOUVENIR. W.O.O.F. #45 put together by the Worldcon Order of Fan-Editors for CoNZealand is a free download from eFanzines [PDF file]. It boasts a cover by Tim Kirk, and contributions from John Purcell, Chris Garcia, Rich Lynch, Chuck Connor, Ahrvid Engholm, Evelyn & Mark Leeper, David Schlosser, Mark Blackman, Andrew Hooper, Murray Moore, Kees van Toorn, Wolf von Witting, R. Laurraine Tutihasi, Roger Hill, Alan Stewart, and Phil Wlodarczyk. Guy H. Lillian III served as the Offcial Editor.
(12) I DON’T KNOW — THIRD BLAST! On the Dragon Awards site: “A Blast from the Past (Winners) – Part 3” with Kevin J. Anderson, Nick Cole, Larry Correia, Richard Fox, Claudia Gray, Brian Niemeier, S.M. Stirling, and Harry Turtledove.
If you were a voting electorate of one, what book by any other author would you give a Dragon Award to? What books by other authors would you recommend to those who voted for or enjoyed your book?
Nick Cole: I’m going to decline naming any authors because I have too many talented friends. If you enjoyed Ctrl Alt Revolt!, I guess I would recommend that you read any book by any author who’s been cancelled. Instead of just arbitrarily listening to someone’s opinion on some author and why they should be banned, blacklisted, and their works burned in a bonfire either digital or physical, I think you should take the time to read that book, listen to that person, and come to the conclusion yourself.
(13) BOOK ANNVERSARY.
August 2015 —[Item by Cat Eldridge.]The House of Shattered Wings, the first of her Dominion of The Fallen series by French-Vietnamese author Aliette de Bodard was published by Roc in the U.S. It would be the first novel in what has been a prolific and award-rich writing career. In addition to the decadent, ruined Paris set of the Dominion of The Fallen series, there’s her Xuya stellar empire where she makes rich use of her French-Vietnamese heritage. Of the new writers I’ve been reading (and most are female), I think she’s one that bears watching as it’ll be interesting to see what new universes come from her. And yes I’m waiting for the first Xuya novel somewhat impatiently.
(14) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 13, 1953 — George Pal’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds premiered in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Not New York City as is popularly believed.) It was directed by Byron Haskin from the screenplay by Barré Lyndon. It starred Gene Barry and Anne Robinson. It was narrated by Cedric Hardwicke. The film was both a critical and box office success with it earning back its budget in its first run. And it would won an Academy Award for Special Effects. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 71% rating. (CE)
(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 13, 1895 — Bert Lahr. Best remembered and certainly beloved as The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, as well as his counterpart who was a Kansas farmworker. It’s his only genre role, though In the war film Meet the People, he would say “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” which was later popularized by a cartoon character named Snagglepuss. (Died 1967.) (CE)
Born August 13, 1899 — Alfred Hitchcock. If he’d only done his two Alfred Hitchcock series which for the most part was awesome, that’d be enough to get him Birthday Honors. But he did some fifty films of which a number are genre such as The Birds and Psycho. Though I’ve not read it, I’ve heard good things about Peter Ackroyd’s Alfred Hitchcock. (Died 1980.) (CE)
Born August 13, 1909 — Tristram Coffin. He’s best remembered for being Jeff King in King of the Rocket Men, a Forties SF serial, the first of three serials featuring this character. He showed up on the Fifties Superman series in different roles, sometimes on the side of Good, sometimes not. He played The Ambassador twice on Batman in. “When the Rat’s Away the Mice Will Play” and “A Riddle a Day Keeps the Riddler Away”. (Died 1990.) (CE)
Born August 13, 1922 — Willard Sage. He showed up on Trek as Thann, one of the Empaths in “Empath”. He was Dr. Blake in Colossus: The Forbin Project, and had roles in The Land of Giants, Invaders, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Outer Limits and The Sixth Sense. (Died 1974.) (CE)
Born August 13, 1928 – Sir George Pollock, Bt. The 5th baronet (an oversimplification); pursued photography that had light itself as its subject; invented color photographs using controlled light, originally through glass, which he called Vitrograph; later, large-scale photographic murals. Five book and magazine covers for us; here is New Writings in SF 3. Two album covers for His Master’s Voice; here is HQM 1008 with Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale (translation in part by Michael Flanders!), here is HQM 1026 with Prokofievand Shostakovich. Here is Galactic Event. Website here (under re-construction but some help). Appreciation by the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain here (“NGV” is Nat’l Gallery of Victoria) (PDF). (Died 2016) [JH]
Born August 13, 1932 – John Berkey. A hundred seventy covers, two hundred twenty interiors. Mixed his own colors. Here is Starman Jones. Here is Star SF 6. Here is the Nov 94 SF Age. Here is a Star Wars book. Here is One Giant Leap. Four artbooks; lastly J. Frank ed., The Art of John Berkey. Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. Spectrum Grand Master. Website here. (Died 2008) [JH]
Born August 13, 1945 – Rita Krupowicz. (She usually signed “R.J. Krupowicz”.) Ten covers, as many interiors. Here is The Dark Cry of the Moon.Here is the Nov 85 Fantasy & Science Fiction. This is from The Vortex Library on Twitter. (Died 1991) [JH]
Born August 13, 1952 – Donna Barr, 68. Enlisted in the U.S. Army, school-trained Teletype operator. Much of her work self-published, available electronically. Stinz was serialized in the Eclipse Comics series The Dreamery (hello, Lex Nakashima). GURPS (Generic Universal RolePlaying System) and Traveller role-playing books. “I usually do a rough on scrap paper (junk mail has lots of blank backs!), happily cutting and pasting, then I copy the whole thing (so the back is clear), rearrange the copy backwards on the back of the final paper, slap in some lettering guides, flip it over on a light table, and use it as a rough guide while I ink. No penciling, and no erasing.” Website here. [JH]
Born August 13, 1974 – Christina Henry, 46. A dozen novels, half a dozen shorter stories. Alice, Red Queen and Looking Glass are “a dark and twisted take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”; The Girl in Red is “a post-apocalyptic Red Riding Hood novel”. The Ghost Tree, expected next month, is “an homage to all the coming-of-age horror novels I read when I was younger – except all those books featured boys as the protagonists when I longed for more stories about girls. Just to clarify, though – this is not a young adult novel; it’s intended for an adult audience (like all of my work).” [JH]
Born August 13, 1977 — Damian O’Hare, 43. Though you might know him from the Pirates of the Caribbean films, The Curse of the Black Pearl and On Stranger Tides where he played Gillette, I know him as the voice of John Constantine on Justice League Action. He also showed up in Agent Carter. (CE)
Born August 13, 1990 — Sara Serraiocco, 30. She plays the complex role of Baldwin on the Counterpart series which I’ve got on the iPad for watching soon. Anyone watch this? (CE)
Born August 13, 1990 – Marlon Pierre-Antoine, 30. “Helena’s Empire” is an E-book novelette. Its sequel Wandering Stars explores a teenage girl’s whblooming romance with Lucifer (i.e. after his fall), whom she meets on a beach. MP ranks The Divine Comedy above Animal Farm, both below The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. [JH]
Years after the completion of the second outing of his alternate history series The American Way, 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley is returning to comics to reveal The Other History of the DC Universe. The long-awaited series, exploring DC’s lengthy comic book mythology from a new angle, has been newly scheduled for a November release.
The five-part series, originally announced in 2018, re-examines important and iconic moments from DC’s comic book history from the point of view of characters from traditionally disenfranchised groups, including Jefferson Pierce — better known as Black Lightning — and Renee Montoya (The Question). Giuseppe “Cammo” Camuncoli, Andrea Cucchi, and colorist José Villarrubia are the artists for the series, with covers from Camuncoli and Jamal Campbell (Far Sector, Naomi)….
In a rare public fallout for Netflix, the creators of the platform’s highly anticipated, live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, the acclaimed Nickelodeon cartoon, have walked away from the project.
Avatar: The Last Airbender’s full run became available on Netflix this past June, attracting a huge audience and reigniting the 2000s cartoon’s popularity. But in separate posts published to their respective blogs and Instagrams, Avatar franchise creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko said they were no longer involved with the previously announced Netflix remake, due to prolonged creative differences.
“When Netflix brought me on board to run this series alongside Mike two years ago,” Konietzko wrote in his Instagram post, “they made a very public promise to support our vision. Unfortunately, there was no follow-through on that promise. … [T]he general handling of the project created what I felt was a negative and unsupportive environment.”
“I realized I couldn’t control the creative direction of the series, but I could control how I responded,” DiMartino added on his own website. “So, I chose to leave the project.”…
”People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it.” Ray Bradbury has been acclaimed as the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream but, as the quote above shows, he regarded himself as the author of modern philosophical fables, rather than a sci-fi writer. In his dystopian works, such as Fahrenheit 451, he holds up a mirror to contemporary society and then transposes it into fantastical and futuristic scenarios. Bradbury was a prolific writer who tried his hand at everything from poems and novels to TV and radio scripts but it’s his early short stories which he produced in his twenties that are perhaps the most imaginative.
To mark the centenary of Bradbury’s birth, Rajan Datar is joined by three Bradbury experts to help him navigate through the author’s prodigious output: Professor Jonathan Eller from Indiana University who is also the Director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies; Dr. Miranda Corcoran who teaches American literature at University College Cork with particular interest in science fiction, horror and the gothic; and Dr. Phil Nichols who combines research into Bradbury’s TV and other media work with the teaching of Film and Television Production at Wolverhampton University.
(21) TOONING OUT. Camestros Felapton’s attention was drawn to “The Webtoon Short Story Contest” by Vox Day’s complaints that his Arkhaven Comics entry got no love from the judges:
Where there are stories gathered together there are story competitions and Webtoon is no different. They recently held their Short Story competition with the winners announced here https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/contest/us-contest-2020. It’s a juried award with cash prizes that splits winners and runners up into two categories: “Brain” for stories that blow your mind and “Heart” for stories that warm your heart (Rules and FAQs).
“Why are you telling us all this Camestros?” I hear you say….
Camestros proceeds to make some interesting observations.
And it wasn’t just unawarded. Midnight’s War somehow didn’t even qualify as one of the 36 runners-up despite being one of the top 10 ranked in Popularity and earning a higher rating than two out of the three Silver winners.
This tells me that Arkhaven needs to seriously rethink our plan to use Webtoons as a platform….
…JAY PRICE, BYLINE: Esports has exploded in the past few years. There are pro leagues, bricks and mortar arenas, players with six-figure salaries. Millions of people log on to streaming platforms like the Amazon owned Twitch to watch games and interact with players and each other. Many are of recruiting age. The military has taken notice. Major General Frank Muth just finished a stint leading U.S. Army Recruiting Command.
FRANK MUTH: This really has brought us into the modern era of where this generation and the next generation – they’re mainly hanging out online all the time.
PRICE: The four largest military services all now have teams or official players. Sergeant Nicole Ortiz is on the Army’s team. Her role includes playing games while socializing and explaining military life to viewers, like her own as an IT specialist.
NICOLE ORTIZ: A lot of them, they look at movies and think that the Army is just about war and shooting guns. In reality, I used to work at a help desk.
PRICE: Recruiting brass say the new esports push is already helping, especially given the difficulties of face-to-face recruiting during the pandemic. Part of the allure is being able to interact directly with viewers through the chat function. And that’s where the military’s esports initiative ran into some trouble.
KATIE FALLOW: What they did here is impermissible under the First Amendment.
PRICE: Attorney Katie Fallow is with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. She represents an activist named Jordan Uhl. On the Army and Navy Twitch channels, he posted messages including, what’s your favorite U.S. war crime? Uhl was banned from both, along with dozens of others who posted similar messages or other comments the military gamers deemed improper.
FALLOW: Because they basically said, we don’t like that you’re raising questions about war crimes or things that the military is sensitive about. And they blocked people based on their viewpoints.
(24) SOONER OF LATER IT ALL ADDS UP. In “The Cost of Perseverance, in Context”, the Planetary Society says the cost of the latest Mars Exploration Rover mission sounds quite modest compared to some other chosen figures.
NASA expects to spend approximately $2.7 billion on the Perseverance rover project. This number can sound large, even excessive, to some—but it’s a number that demands context. Let’s give it some….
The total cost of the Perseverance rover is equivalent to…
33 hours of running the Department of Defense
Slightly less than 1 day of Social Security spending
One year of spending on the Space Launch System rocket
…Northumberland Park garage will host vehicle-to-grid technology, which feeds energy stored in parked electric buses back into the electricity network.
If the government-funded Bus2Grid project is rolled out across London it could power an estimated 150,000 homes.
The project will begin in November and run for three years.
Putting energy back into the grid when demand is high and recharging buses when demand is low helps make the network more efficient by balancing the peaks and troughs.
Ian Cameron, head of innovation at UK Power Networks, said: “A fleet of bus batteries harnesses large amounts of electricity and they are habitual, with regular and predictable routes, driving patterns and timings.
“That means we can easily predict and plan for how we can use any spare electrical capacity they can offer.”
(27) FORBIDDEN KNOWLEDGE. Forbidden Planet, the world’s largest and best-known comic book and cult entertainment retail chain, is throwing itself a 42nd birthday party — Forbidden Planet 42 – an online event featuring many genre and other celebrities.
On Saturday August 29th 2020, ForbiddenPlanet.com will play host to a huge range of celebrity interviews, as alumni from the worlds of science fiction, comics & popular culture come together to help the store celebrate 42 years of pop-culture addiction – and ponder the answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everythingwith an all-star cast of our oldest friends & customers!
This star-studded online event will feature new, exclusive interviews with some of Forbidden Planet’s most celebrated customers including William Shatner, DMC, Neil Gaiman, Alice Cooper, Jonathan Ross, Gerard Way, Garth Ennis, Kevin Smith, Michael Moorcock, Simon Pegg, Mark Millar, Dan Slott, V.E. Schwab, Dave Gibbons, Brian Bolland, Dirk Maggs, Chris Claremont & Ben Aaronovich amongst others, hosted by Forbidden Planet’s Andrew Sumner.
As part of the Forbidden Planet 42 celebrations, this online extravaganza will also host a tribute to Forbidden Planet’s old friend – the late, great Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) in the shape of a rare, never-before-heard interview with Douglas (recently discovered in the Forbidden Planet vaults) conducted by another old pal, celebrated author Neil Gaiman.
[Thanks to Kathryn Sullivan, John King Tarpinian, JJ, John Hertz, Rose Embolism, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Gordon Van Gelder, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of the ridiculous number of stories in today’s Scroll. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]
(1) MAKE ROOM, MAKE ROOM! The 2020 Hugo voting report, which begins with a short list of works that got enough votes to be finalists but were disqualified or withdrawn by the author, showed that Ann Leckie declined her nomination for The Raven Tower. In a blog entry today she explained why: “The Hugos and The Raven Tower”.
…I’ve had a taste of that cookie quite a few times now. It is, let me tell you, one delicious cookie. And when the email came telling me that The Raven Tower was a finalist for the Hugo Award, I thought of the books in that longlist, how often I’d had a bite of this cookie, and how many of the amazing books from 2019 were debuts, and/or were books that, when I’d read them, my first thought was, Oh, this should be on the Hugo ballot. More books than there were spots, for sure. And I realized that I could do something about that, at least in a small way.
And so I withdrew The Raven Tower from consideration.
Let me be perfectly clear–I was overwhelmed at the thought that so many readers felt The Raven Tower deserved to be a Hugo finalist. I have been treasuring that for months. And as I’m sure we all know, these have been months during which such treasures have become extremely important.
I also want to be clear that this is not any sort of permanent decision on my part. I make no promises about withdrawing anything in the future. If I am ever so fortunate as to have a work reach the shortlist again, and I see what seems to me a good reason to withdraw, I will. If I don’t, I won’t. It is, after all, one of the sweetest, most delicious cookies around!
(2) A WEE JOKE. From the August issue of Ansible:
The Retro Hugo Statistics reveal that a single Fan Writer nomination for 1944 work (it took three to get on the final ballot and no one had more than six) went to some chap called David Langford. Ho ho, very satirical….
(3) WHO BENEFITS. Much truth in this.
(4) NOW PLAYING. “The Ballad of Ursula K. Le Guin.”
John Boyne, the award-winning author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, has acknowledged that a cursory Google led to him accidentally including monsters from the popular video game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in his new novel.
Boyne’s A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom opens in AD1 and ends 2,000 years later, following a narrator and his family. In one section, the narrator sets out to poison Attila the Hun, using ingredients including an “Octorok eyeball” and “the tail of the red lizalfos and four Hylian shrooms”….
Dana Schwartz rounded up some graphics to support the story. Thread starts here.
…Personally, I am delighted that we are suffering from the challenges of success instead of the problems of failure. The level of mediocrity has risen and the level of excellence has truly surpassed the past. So the challenges in front of any author must look insurmountable, even to the long-time practitioners.
As difficult as all this may seem to anyone who writes, it’s still a good thing. Because it’s no longer about the awards — in fact, it never was about the awards. It has always been about the quality of the work.
That there is so much good work being created these days is a victory for the field, and especially for the readers.
I just wish I had enough time to keep up with it all.
…But let me elucidate one category of Martin’s microaggressions that cut across the entire spectrum of humanity by subtly excluding anyone not part of his old guard: his use of nicknames for writers and editors whose prominence was in days gone by, signaling that no matter who you might be, if you weren’t part of the inner circle back in the day, you’ll never really be a true fan (or pro) now.
In Martin’s very, very long commentaries during yesterday’s Hugo Awards ceremony, Robert Silverberg was “Silverbob,” George Alec Effinger was “Piglet,” and the editor Robert A.W. Lowndes was “Doc.” I think Martin also called Isaac Asimov “Ike” during his trips down memory lane, although I’m not going to sift through the hour and forty-five minutes of his rambling again (fully half of the total running time of the Hugo ceremony) to be sure.
You see? Even someone like me — 40 years a selling author in this field, and now 60 years of age — was never part of that ancient, early prodom. I’ve known Robert Silverberg since 1989 and knew Asimov and Effinger, too, but was never close enough to call them by cutesy nicknames.
And if someone like me feels left out after all these decades in the field, imagine how the newer writers, or the writers whose literary background wasn’t the American SF magazines, felt during the Hugo ceremony.
… Yes, it’s a small thing — that’s why it’s called a MICROaggression — and it’s usually done without consciously intending to exclude or put down someone else, but microaggressions ARE pervasive and exclusionary in effect. We’d all do well to guard against committing them.
(8) JOIN THE BOB & DOUG SHOW. Back in their home theater after taking their show on a bit of a road trip, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will discuss their flight to the International Space Station and back aboard the inaugural crewed voyage of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon craft. This press release — “NASA Astronauts to Discuss Historic SpaceX Crew Dragon Test Flight” – tells how to access their news conference.
NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will discuss their recently completed SpaceX Demo-2 test flight mission to the International Space Station during a news conference at 4:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 4.
The news conference from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will be broadcast live on NASA Television and on the agency’s website.
This will be a virtual event with no media present, due to the safety restrictions related to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Reporters who wish to participate by telephone must call Johnson’s newsroom at 281-483-5111 to RSVP no later than 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4. Those following the briefing on social media may ask questions using the hashtag #AskNASA.
The 1960 Worldcon, known as Pittcon (Pittsburgh, PA) promoted their masquerade as a “Costume Cabaret”. Following the show, there would be a glee club performance, a “minstrel show of science fiction flavor”, and then a dance (music provided by a “hi-fi”, rather than a live band like some past years)…
(10) ROBERTA POURNELLE OBIT. Roberta Pournelle, widow of Jerry, passed away last night at the age of 85. Her son Frank Pournelle announced services are planned in the coming week. The Chaos Manor page on Facebook saluted her:
An educator for 30 years at the Dorothy Kirby Center in Commerce, Mother of 4, Grandmother, a friend to many; she made order out of Chaos.
Born Roberta Jane Isdell, she married Jerry Pournelle in 1959. ISFDB shows she wrote a nonfiction piece for Analog in 1988, “High-Tech for the Little Red Schoolhouse.”
(11) SUSAN ELLISON OBIT. HarlanEllisonBooks.com announced today that Susan Ellison (1960-2020) died over the weekend at home, the “Lost Aztec Temple of Mars.” No other details were given. Susan and Harlan married in 1986 and were together 32 years until his death in 2018.
Patricia Anne Buard. Patricia was a person of several interests, including theater and theology. In addition to having created works of both original fantasy and historical recreations, her short story “Devil’s Advocate” was published in the Marion Zimmer Bradley anthology book “Red Sun of Darkover”, released in 1987.
David was a Michigan area costumer. His best known creations were Krakatoa, the Volcano God, and St. Helen. Krakatoa appeared at several venues, including Worldcon: Chicon V, in 1991 (photo below). It was quite innovative for its time, featuring several special effects.
August 3, 1951 — The Tales of Tomorrow series premiered with “Verdict From Space”. The series was performed and broadcast live on ABC from 1951 to 1953. There were eighty-five episodes, each twenty-five minutes in length. The series came about through the efforts of Theodore Sturgeon and Mort Abrahams, together with the membership of the Science Fiction League of America. The League who included Theodore Sturgeon, Anthony Boucher, and Isaac Asimov made their work available to the producers. The screenplay was written by Sturgeon and is based on his own story “The Sky Was Full of Ships” first published in the June 1947 issue of Thrilling Wonder. You can watch it here.
(16) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 3, 1841 – Juliana Ewing. Thirty short stories for us; a score of books with our and other stories, plays, book-length fiction, for children. Roger G. Lancelyn Green (1918-1987), one of the Inklings, who suggested the name Chronicles of Narnia to C.S. Lewis, called JE’s the first outstanding child-novels in English literature. Kipling said he knew her novels Jan of the Windmill and Six to Sixteen almost by heart; of Six “here was a history of real people and real things.” From her novelette “The Brownies” (1865) the Baden-Powells got the idea and name for junior Girl Guides. Here is a Caldecott cover for Jackanapes (1884). (Died 1885) [JH]
Born August 3, 1904 — Clifford Simak. I was trying to remember the first novel by him I read. I’m reasonably sure it was Way Station though it could’ve been City which just won a well-deserved Retro Hugo. I’m fond of Cemetery World and A Choice of Gods as well. By the way I’m puzzled by the Horror Writers Association making him one of their three inaugural winners of the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. What of his is truly horror? (Died 1988.) (CE)
Born August 3, 1920 — P. D. James. Author of The Children of Men which she wrote to answer the question “If there were no future, how would we behave?” Made into a film which she said she really liked despite it being substantially different than her novel. (Died 2014.) (CE)
Born August 3, 1922 – Ron Turner. Some sources say his birthday is the 22nd. Twelve dozen covers (I’d say “one gross”, but look what trouble that made for Bilbo Baggins), more if you count posthumous uses. Tit-Bits SF Comics, Space Ace, Rick Random, Stingray, The Daleks, Thunderbirds. Here is Operation Venus. Here is a John Russell Fearn collection. Here is Rick Random and the Terror from Space; here is its opening interior. (Died 1998) [JH]
Born August 3, 1926 — John Gardner. Author of more Bond novels that one would think possible. He’d write fourteen original James Bond novels, more than Fleming wrote, and the novelized versions of two Bond films. He also dip into the Sherlock universe, writing three novels around the character of Professor Moriarty. Rights to film them were optioned but never developed. (Died 2007.) (CE)
Born August 3, 1940 — Martin Sheen, 80. So that was who that was! On Babylon 5: The River of Souls, there’s a Soul Hunter but the film originally didn’t credit an actor who turns out to be Sheen. Amazing performance. He’s been in a number of other genre roles but that’s the ones I like most. Though I will single him out for voicing Arthur Square in Flatland: The Movie. (CE)
Born August 3, 1946 – John DeChancie, 74. Best known for nine Castle Perilous and three Skyway books, he’s published ten besides, two dozen shorter stories; if you know he has written as Raul Cabeza de Vaca, and entitled a poem “The Refusal to Mourn the Rejection, by Printed Form, of a Hopeful Writer in Pittsburgh, February, 1992”, you’ll know he can read, and smile, and has been with SF a while. Some fans become pros; some pros become fans, as he did; some are both, as he has been. Plays piano, likes the American Songbook and Rachmaninoff; paints, including a portrait of Rachmaninoff. See this, which includes portraits of Marty Cantor and Chip Hitchcock. [JH]
Born August 3, 1950 — John Landis, 70. He’d make this if all he’d done was An American Werewolf in London, but he was also Director / Producer / Writer of the Twilight Zone movie. And wrote Clue which was the best Tim Curry role ever. And Executive Produced one of the best SF comedies ever, Amazon Women on the Moon. (CE)
Born August 3, 1953 – Margaret Bechard, 67. Reed College woman (as an Antioch boy, I think of these things). Children’s fiction, translated into French, Korean, Swedish. Two novels, one shorter story for us; Star Hatchling about first contact won a Golden Duck. Six other novels. [JH]
Born August 3, 1971 – Yoshitoshi ABe, 49. Graphic artist. Usually writes his name in Roman letters, with B capitalized for the sake of early works he signed “AB”. Known to sketch with just his finger and an iPad. Thirty self-published books; artbooks; covers; half a dozen each of animé and manga. Here is his cover for Sakurazaka’s All You Need Is Kill (A. Smith tr. 2009; hello, Pete Young). Here is Walking the Dragon from YA’s artbook Gaisokyu (“Palace”; 2007). [JH]
Born August 3, 1972 — Brigid Brannagh, 48. Also credited as Brigid Brannagh, Brigid Brannah, Brigid Brannaugh, Brigid Walsh, and Brigid Conley Walsh. Need an Irish redheaded colleen in a genre role? Well she apparently would do. She shows up in Kindred: The Embrace, American Gothic, Sliders, Enterprise (as a bartender), Roar, Touched by an Angel, Charmed, Early Edition, Angel (as Virginia Bryce in a recurring role), Grimm, Supernatural and currently on Runaways in the main role of Stacey Yorkes. (CE)
Born August 3, 1979 – Evangeline Lilly, 41. Actress, author. She was in Lost, Real Steel, two Peter Jackson hobbit films, three Marvel superhero films – to misquote Winston Churchill, who said a Wasp couldn’t sting thrice? So far two Squickerwonker short stories for children have appeared, one translated into Portuguese. [JH]
(17) A TOTAL SURPRISE. After Hastings author Steven H Silver tells Lawrence Shoen about eating reindeer steak in Stockholm as part of “Eating Authors: Steven H Silver”. However, the cuisine is overshadowed in this great anecdote about something that happened at dinner —
SHS: Honestly, there are a lot of things I don’t remember about my most memorable meal because it sticks out not because of the food or the company or even the location, but rather because of an incident that occurred during the meal….
He’s starred in over 30 movies but how many of those has Godzilla actually died in? The first movie is a somber monster movie with the title creature is intended to be a walking metaphor for nuclear weapons. The movie’s huge success led to a franchise that is still running nearly 70 years later, with the monster appearing in sequels, reboots and remakes, in addition to comics, novels and video games where he’s battled against all sorts of creative monsters.
(19) MAD, I SAY. Could it be that Dave Freer’s message in “F-IW” at Mad Genius Club is “When you’re in your time machine on the way back to kill baby Hitler, don’t forget to stop off in the Sixties and take over traditional publishing”?
…Both of these [old] books had a huge effect on my young mind. Yes, I can see the Woke and modern left rubbing their hands (and other parts, never mentioned) in glee, saying ‘Yes! We were RIGHT that we had to capture publishing and exclude any badthink. Just think if we’d had the dominance we have now over traditional publishing, back in 1960, even evil people like Freer would have been won (Hi: I’m Dave the Divider. If it wasn’t for me, so we are told by the self-elected authorities, sf/fantasy would be united and singing Kumbaya. See what a fate I saved you from!).
(20) CANON FIRED. Meg Elison says you’re excused from reading the SFF “canon.”
The radio show “Washington Goes to the Moon” two decades ago shed new light on the political battles around the Apollo program, and provided a wealth of material for later historians. Dwayne Day interviews the man who wrote and produced the show.
(22) FANTASY NETWORK FREEBIES. Some of us encountered The Fantasy Network for the first time watching CoNZealand events. They also have lots of free content. For example, the 2017 movie Magellan:
When NASA picks up three signals of extraterrestrial origin coming from within our own solar system, the space agency expedites a mission to investigate the sources. As Earth’s lone emissary, they send Commander Roger Nelson, the test pilot for an experimental spacecraft call the Magellan, assisted by an onboard A.I. named Ferdinand.
Many books function perfectly as standalones; many series end well. Plots are resolved, characters are given their reward or punishment. But there are also books that seem to cry out for a sequel and series that are never finished, leaving readers frustrated. We want more!
Alexis Gilliland’s Rosinante series is on this list —
… I discovered the series is funnier than one would expect from plotlines that feature banking crises, union negotiations, and the sudden collapse of the dominant government in North America. There were just three books in the series—Revolution from Rosinante (1981), Long Shot for Rosinante (1981), The Pirates of Rosinante (1982)—but the setting was expansive and interesting enough that more stories were possible, perhaps elsewhere in Gilliland’s Solar System. Thus far, none have materialized.
It’s no exaggeration to say this year feels like a horror movie. And now, a few filmmakers are making it official.
All over YouTube, you can find inventive homemade horror shorts taking the pandemic as inspiration. (They come from Brazil, from Canada and from, well, Funny or Die.) And a new movie Host, filmed over twelve weeks in quarantine and entirely on Zoom, debuted on the horror channel Shudder last week.
Call it “quar-horror.”
Among the most chilling of the YouTube offerings is Stay At Home, part horror movie and part PSA from a filmmaker in New Orleans.
“I literally just grabbed a box, and I set up the camera on a tripod and gave myself a scenario,” says Kenneth Brown, a former Uber driver turned horror auteur. “And the story started to build and build and build.”
Brown went to film school, and you can tell. Based on the myth of Pandora’s Box and the evening news, Stay At Home is elegantly lit and crafted. As of this writing, it’s racked up nearly 200,000 views on YouTube.
Part of what makes Stay At Home so effective — and heartfelt — is the insistent drone of news anchors discussing the mounting carnage. “That’s everything I need to say as far as reaching African Americans, which is the population most vulnerable to this virus,” says Brown, who is Black himself.
But escapism is also the point, say Nathan Crooker and James Gannon. Their upcoming quar-horror, called Isolation, just wrapped principal photography. The two produced the film; Crooker is also its director. Isolation is an anthology; nine interconnected shorts by different directors who filmed their movies using only resources immediately available to them.
Saving the giant panda is one of the big success stories of conservation.
Decades of efforts to create protected habitat for the iconic mammal has pulled it back from the brink of extinction.
But, according to a new study, while many other animals in the same landscape have benefited from this conservation work, some have lost out.
Leopards, snow leopards, wolves and Asian wild dogs have almost disappeared from the majority of protected areas.
Driven to near extinction by logging, poaching and disease, their loss could lead to “major shifts, even collapse, in ecosystems”, said researchers in China.
Without the likes of leopards and wolves, deer and livestock can roam unchecked, causing damage to natural habitats, with knock-on effects for other wildlife, including pandas themselves.
By protecting the panda’s forests, conservationists believed they would be protecting not only the charismatic black-and-white animal, but the many other species roaming the same habitat.
But while that has worked for some other wildlife, the efforts do not appear to have worked for large carnivores, such as the leopard and wolf.
A team of researchers now says a broader – holistic – approach is needed to manage the ecosystem in which the panda lives – one that ensures key species don’t lose out.
(26) SHORT LEAPS FORWARD. In the Washington Post, Bethonie Butler interviews Catherine Hardwicke, whose new Quibi series “Don’t Look Deeper” is set “15 minutes into the future” and has a teenage girl as a protagonist who may or may not be an android. Hardwicke discusses what it was like to direct a story delivered in 10-minute chunks and why star Helena Howard is a “strong and vulnerable” actor Hardwicke enjoyed working with. “Can Catherine Hardwicke get you to watch Quibi?”
Why Quibi? Were the shorter episodes appealing?
Actually, the script was written for short episodes. It was written in chapters. I thought that was quite interesting when I first read the script. I was like, “Wow, that’s fascinating,” because the short format does tie in — it weaves in directly with what’s going on with [Aisha’s] memory. We tell the story in a non-linear way as her memories are being erased and restored. The technology that we’re exploring, showing it on a new technological platform with the vertical and horizontal, it all seemed to kind of work together in an interesting way. So this leap of faith — that [Quibi founder Jeffrey] Katzenberg said let’s try this format — I thought that was an interesting challenge to dive into it and see what happens.
(27) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Dragonball Evolution Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that when the hero of the film has to collect seven dragonballs to make a wish that dragonballs are as powerful as “blowing out candles on a birthday cake.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, Cliff, Madame Hardy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
(1) WORLDCON ENDS: FILM AT ELEVEN. Watching CoNZealand’s Closing Ceremonies brought back a memory —
When Winnipeg started its bid for the 1994 Worldcon, chair John Mansfield had everybody on the committee fill out a questionnaire about their interests. On the last day of the convention he returned these forms to everyone saying, “Okay. Here’s your life back.”
At today’s Closing Ceremonies the gavel passed to DisCon III’s Bill Lawhorn and Colette H. Fozard.
(2) TABLE SERVICE. Camestros Felapton illustrates an aspect of the 2020 Hugo Award nomination process in “EPH Fan Writer”.
… As each person is eliminated, the points get redistributed. By looking at the change in points for each surviving nominee, you can calculate the proportion of points that the survivor gets from the eliminated.
(3) THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW. There are several good rundowns on the problems with last night’s Hugo Awards ceremony, including this one from Sean Reads Sci-Fi, “Uh-Oh, the Hugos Were a Hot Mess!”, which includes some good excerpts from the acceptance speeches.
…Some of the history was admittedly interesting, but I kept waiting for Martin to catch up to the present day, to illustrate how the long arc of the Hugos has bent toward justice, how the field continues to evolve to this day. He never did. He stayed rooted firmly in the past, and as the night wore on his stubborn refusal to acknowledge current movements in SF/F began to feel pointedly exclusionary rather than just incidentally so.
And I haven’t even mentioned the names! To mispronounce someone’s name live is one thing. As a teacher, I can attest to the fact that you will occasionally get someone’s name wrong on the first day. But (a) they had plenty of time to practice, (b) they almost certainly were given pronunciation guides by most authors, and (c) this doesn’t excuse the constant mispronunciations during pre-recoded segments, unless, of course, Martin refused to re-record them, which is its own set of problems. The folks behind the scenes should have done more to vet these segments, and should have pushed back harder when it became clear what Martin was doing.
What’s fascinating to me, though, is how the awards themselves drew such a sharp contrast to the nostalgic navel-gazing of the toastmaster. It really felt like the past and the future colliding – and the future won. Literally! The winners often talked about systemic problems within the industry, about the fights that we still have to fight, about the hard work that women, people of color, queer folks, and others have to do in order to even be considered alongside the white/cis/het fuddy-duddies running last night’s show. It was such a welcome breath of fresh air, for instance, when R.F. Kuang, one of the first winners, emphasized the barriers that she faced getting into the field:
If I were talking to a new writer coming to the genre in 2020, I would tell them, well, if you are an author of color, you will very likely be paid only a fraction of the advance that white writers are getting. You will be pigeon-holed, you will be miscategorized, you will be lumped in with other authors of color whose work doesn’t remotely resemble yours. Chances are very high that you will be sexually harassed at conventions or the target of racist micro-aggressions or very often just overt racism. People will mispronounce your name, repeatedly, and in public, even people who are on your publishing team. Your cover art will be racist, and the way people talk about you and your literature will be tied to identity and your personal trauma instead of the stories you are actually trying to tell. If I had known all of that when I went into the industry, I don’t know if I would have done it, so I think that the best way we can celebrate new writers is to make this industry more welcoming for everyone.
R.F. KUANG, ASTOUNDING AWARD FOR THE BEST NEW SF WRITER
This was refreshing precisely because it’s an aspect of the history of the awards and of the fandom in general that George R.R. Martin, in his endless panegyrics to days gone by, refused to even acknowledge. Pointing out the deep-rooted, structural, and personal racism and sexism at the heart of the industry isn’t a sign of ingratitude – it’s a sign of strength and resolve in the face of tough barriers. As Ng put it in her speech:
Pulling down memorials to dead racists is not the erasing of history, it is how we make history … It would be irresponsible for me to stand here and congratulate us as a community without reminding us that the fight isn’t over and that it extends well beyond the pages of our books … Let us be better than the legacies that have been left us. Let them not be prophecies. Let there be a revolution in our time.
JEANNETTE NG, BEST RELATED WORK
That revolution was in strong form last night, as most winners took the time to celebrate marginalized voices and denounce the forces that marginalized them in the first place. I keep coming back to Martine’s speech, as well – to the knife that hurts all the more because you loved it before it cut you. A trenchant description of an industry and a genre that many loved but were excluded from for so long. That is, thankfully, changing. Not fast enough to prevent last night’s debacle – but fast enough to allow for last night’s inspiring wins
Whoever is circulating the story that I was asked to re-record portions of my Hugo hosting to correct mispronounced names, and that I refused, is (1) mistaken, or (2) lying. Never happened.
CoNZealand did ask me to re-record three of my videos, all for reasons for quality control: poor lighting, poor sound, wobbly camera. I complied with their request on two of the videos, the two that opened the evening; I re-did those live from the JCC. (The originals had been done in my cabin on an iPhone, when we were just trying to get the hang of this thing). The third segment they wanted re-recorded was the bit about the Hugo trophy, where I had some fun with the juicer, the Alfie, and the like. In that case, we decided to stay with the first take, since I no longer had the props on hand and could not easily have reproduced what I’d done at the cabin, which everyone seemed to like.
There is also a story out there that I was provided with the correct phonetic pronunciations of all the names. That too is completely untrue….
(5) YOUR NEW HUGO LOSERS HOSTS. Who wouldn’t sign up for that?
(6) GROWING PAINS. Scott Edelman stirred up some memories that were called out by his sister-in-law in service of an anti-Vietnam War protest.
…You wouldn’t think that the 4-foot-wide by 8-foot-tall space, approximately the same shape as an iPhone screen, would be big enough for a play, let alone an avant-garde company. Yet the closet, only 2 feet deep, is one of the stars of Gelb’s Theater in Quarantine series, which since late March has produced, on a biweekly schedule, some of the new medium’s most imaginative work from some of its simplest materials. As in silent movies, clowning, movement and mime are usually part of the mix.
Lem’s story is a satire of the infinite human capacity for self-defeat, with the various Egon incarnations bickering and undermining one another as the gyrations of space-time bend them into conflict. When “a meteor no bigger than a pea” pierces the ship’s hull, destroying the rudder, everyone has ideas about fixing it — but since it’s a two-man job, making cooperation essential, nothing actually gets done.
Science fiction was once a niche TV commodity, but March brought three major live-action genre projects. Star Trek: Picard finished its debut season on CBS All Access. FX shared Devs with Hulu, pitching the miniseries as prestige bait for the chattering class. Season 3 of Westworld was HBO’s new hope for a buzzy, sexy-violent epic. And they were all terrible….
I get it: We are all scared of phones, and bots, and the Algorithm. Yet by demonizing technology, these projects oddly exonerate the people behind that technology. CEOs with tragic origin stories in Westworld or Devs are puppets for machines they can’t control. Higher-tech powers in Brave New World and “You May Also Like” control whole civilizations comprised of unaware humans.
[Intro] Editors Note: In a nearly 3,000 word opinion piece published on July 25 in ‘The Globe and Mail’ Kenneth Whyte, publisher of Toronto-based indie Sutherland House Books, pinned the troubles of Canada’s independent bookstores and publishers on the work of public libraries….
Publishers Weekly reprinted the Canadian Urban Libraries Council’s response:
… It is otherwise hard to understand why public libraries are to blame when bookstores and libraries have coexisted harmoniously and supported each other for decades.
August 1, 1986 — Howard The Duck premiered. Directed by Water Huyck and produced by Gloria Katz who were also the screenplay writers. George Lucas was executive producer. Its human stars were Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones and Tim Robbins. Howard The Duck was Ed Gale in the suit with the voice being Chip Zien. Critics almost unanimously hated it, it bombed at the box office, and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 38% rating. It would be the last Marvel Film until Captain American twenty-one years later. (CE)
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 1, 1819 – Herman Melville. Without debating – though some do – how far Moby-Dick is fantasy, we can claim some more clearly – hmm, maybe not the best word with this writer – anyway, “Bartleby”, “The Tartarus of Maids”, “The Encantadas”, let’s say nine or ten. John Clute would includeThe Confidence-Man. (Died 1891) [JH]
Born August 1, 1898 – William Ziff. I mean Ziff Sr., though Ziff Jr. is noteworthy too. The elder was the Ziff in Ziff-Davis Publishing, which took over Amazing from Hugo Gernsback, added Fantastic Adventures, comics with art director Jerry Siegel and e.g. John Buscema. I happen to think this cover for Weird Adventures 10 is feminist – look how the man is fascinated while the woman with him knows they should fear – but then I think Glory Road is feminist, and how many see that? (Died 1953) [JH]
Born August 1, 1910 — Raymond A. Palmer. Editor of Amazing Stories from 1938 through 1949. He’s credited, along with Walter Dennis, with editing the first fanzine, The Comet, in May, 1930. The secret identity of DC character the Atom as created by genre writer Gardner Fox is named after Palmer. Very little of his fiction is available in digital form. (Died 1977.) (CE)
Born August 1, 1914 – Edd Cartier. Oh, how great he was. Eventually we put him on two Retrospective Hugo ballots. We think of him as a comedian; true enough, but see this cover for Foundation and Empire. Vince Di Fate knew; see his treatment of EC in Infinite Worlds. World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award. (Died 2008) [JH]
Born August 1, 1923 — Alan Yates. Though better known under the Carter Brown name where he wrote some one hundred and fifty mystery novels, I’m noting him here for Booty for a Babe, a Fifties mystery novel published under that name as it’s was set at a SF Convention. (Available from the Kindle store.) And as Paul Valdez, he wrote a baker’s dozen genre stories. (Died 1985.) (CE)
Born August 1, 1930 — Geoffrey Holder. Best-remembered for his performance as Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die but he’s also the narrator in Tim Burton’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. He was also Willie Shakespeare in Doctor Doolittle but it’s been so long since I saw the film that I can’t picture his character. And he was The Cheshire Cat in the Alice in Wonderland that had Richard Burton as The White Knight. (Died 2014.) (CE)
Born August 1, 1945 – Yvonne Rousseau, 75. Author, editor, critic, long-time fan. Australian SF Review, 2nd Series with J. & R. Blackford, Foyster, Sussex, Webb. Three short stories and a novelette. Contributor to Banana Wings, Chunga, Flag, Foundation, Journey Planet, The Metaphysical Review, Riverside Quarterly, SF Commentary, SF Eye. Fan Guest of Honour at ConFictionary, where the fire alarm went off and the hotel actually was on fire. [JH]
Born August 1, 1954 — James Gleick, 66. Author of, among many other books, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman and What Just Happened: A Chronicle from the Electronic Frontier, and he is one of us in that he writes genre reviews which are collected in Time Travel: A History. Among the works he’s reviewed are Le Guin’s “Another Story or A Fisherman of the Inland Sea” and Heinlein ‘s “By His Bootstraps”. (CE)
Born August 1, 1955 — Annabel Jankel, 65. Director who was first a music video director and then the co-creator and director of Max Headroom. She and her partner Rocky Morton first created and directed The Max Talking Headroom Show, a mix of interviews and music vids which aired on Channel 4 and HBO. Jankel and Morton would go on to direct Super Mario Bros. And they’re both responsible for the Max Headroom movie and series. (CE)
Born August 1, 1969 – Dirk Berger, 51. Five dozen covers, a score of interiors. Here is Sucker Punch. Here is Empire Dreams. Here is Nova 23. Here is his Website. [JH]
Born August 1, 1979 — Jason Momoa, 41. I knew I’d seen him before he showed up as Aquaman in the DC film franchise and I was right as he was Ronon Dex on Stargate Atlantis for its entire run. He was also Khal Drogo in the first season of A Game of Thrones. And not surprisingly, he was the title character in Conan the Barbarian. (CE)
Born August 1, 1993 – Tomi Adeyemi, 27. Children of Blood and Bone, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, both NY Times Best Sellers. Norton Award, Waterstones Book Prize, Lodestar Award. Parents thought she’d be better off if they didn’t teach her their native tongue (they’re Yoruba), so with an honors degree from Harvard she got a fellowship to study it in Brazil. Website here. [JH]
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Non Sequitur offers a suggestion on how to get started on that post-apocalyptic novel.
(13) BE PREPARED. A Public Service Announcement from the Dread Pirate Roberts channeling Inigo Montoya.
(14) ADVICE FOR SFF POETS. Veteran editor of Star*Line and Mobius: A Journal for Social Change “gives some surprising insights on submissions” in this interview conducted by Melane Stormm at SPECPO.
A must watch for any writer, but especially if you identify as female or if you’re feeling hesitant to submit your work someplace.
(15) ON BRADBURY’S SHELVES. The second installment of Phil Nichols’ Bradbury 100 podcast had dropped.
My guest is Jason Aukerman, Managing Director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. The “Bradbury Center”, as it’s known for short, is the place where Ray’s working papers are held in archive, along with the contents of Ray’s personal library, and many of his professional and personal artefacts such as awards, videotapes and film prints.
A library curator at the University of Iowa will join “Star Trek” actor William Shatner and a list of other celebrities, authors and science fiction experts in a Ray Bradbury Read-a-thon next month. The event on August 22nd will mark what would have been the famed author’s 100th birthday.
Peter Balestrieri, curator of science fiction and popular culture collections at the UI Libraries, says he’s thrilled to be taking part.
“The Read-a-thon will be about 40 people reading segments of Ray Bradbury’s famous novel, ‘Fahrenheit 451,’” Balestrieri says. “All of the clips from all of the different readers will be put together into one seamless audio-visual book.”
Balestrieri will read a six-minute portion of the book as part of the roughly-four-hour event. Top sci-fi authors who will also read aloud include Neil Gaiman, Marjorie Liu and Steven Barnes, as well as former NASA administrator Charles Bolden.
Nasa‘s Marsspacecraft is experiencing technical problems and has sent itself into hibernation, the space agency has said.
The spacecraft was sent to space Thursday in a launch that had no technical problems – even despite an earthquake that struck just before liftoff, and a preparation period that came during the coronavirus outbreak. Shortly after it was launched, Nasa announced that it had received its first signal from the spacecraft.
But soon after it was in space and headed towards Mars, it became apparent that something had gone wrong with the craft. After that initial signal, mission controllers received more detailed telemetry or spacecraft data that showed there had been a problem.
The signal, which arrived on Thursday afternoon, showed that the spacecraft had entered a state known as “safe mode”. That shuts down all but its essential systems, until it receives new messages from ission control.
The hibernation state is intended to allow the spacecraft to protect itself in the case of unexpected conditions, and will be triggered when the onboard computer receives data that shows something is not as expected.
Nasa’s engineers think that the state was triggered because part of the spacecraft was colder than expected while it was still in Earth’s shadow. The spacecraft has now left that shadow and temperatures are now normal, Nasa said in an update.
Mission controllers will now conduct a “full health assessment”, the space agency said, and are “working to return the spacecraft to a nominal configuration for its journey to Mars”.
“‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’” —The Fellowship of the Ring
(19) NAVIGATING ON VIRTUAL SEAS. Mlex reports on the Cyberpunk Culture Con (July 9-10), with some commentary on other virtual cons (BaltiCon, ConZealand, Fantastikon): “Cyberpunk Culture Conference”.
…I want to report on the recent virtual con, the Cyberpunk Culture Conference (Jul 9-10, 2020), which managed to swim perfectly through the fantastic milieu of the future that has already become the past, and floated out from the wreckage on that frenzied ouroboros of possibility waves as easily as a swimmer takes to an inflated tire inner tube on a summer pond.
The conference sprang up around recent books published by Routledge, which are quite excellent, I should add…
The Belgian racing team Heli had an engine problem. Specifically, under race conditions, the manifold of the four-cylinder turbo diesel in its BMW 1-series exploded, bursting along an ultrasonically welded seam that held together the manifold’s two halves.
…In 2018 Heli took the problem to ZiggZagg, a Belgian company that fabricates parts using an HP 3-D printer. ZiggZagg made a digital scan of the two-piece manifold and after 10 hours had a digital blueprint for a stronger, lighter, one-piece manifold. In its first race with the new manifold, printed using what is known as PA 12 nylon, the part held up and Heli took third. That same manifold lasted until the car was retired earlier this year.
The two astronauts that blasted off in the first private space vehicle to take people to the International Space Station are about to return to Earth — by splashing down in the waters around Florida.
This will be the first planned splashdown for space travelers since 1975, although a Russian Soyuz capsule did have to do an emergency lake landing in 1976.
NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley says that he and his crewmate Robert Behnken are prepared for the possibility of seasickness.
“Just like on an airliner, there are bags if you need them. And we’ll have those handy,” Hurley said in a press conference held on Friday, while on board the station. “And if that needs to happen, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that that’s happened in a space vehicle. It will be the first time in this particular vehicle, if we do.”
The astronauts will come home in the same SpaceX Dragon capsule that took them up on May 30. Their flight marked the first time people had been launched to orbit from U. S. soil since NASA retired its space shuttles in 2011.
The success of their trip in the SpaceX vehicle has been a major milestone for commercial space travel, and a vindication of NASA’s long-term plan to rely on space taxis for routine flights to and from the orbiting outpost—while the government agency focuses on developing vehicles for a return to the moon.
The current plan is for the Dragon “Endeavour” capsule to undock from the International Space Station on Saturday at 7:34 p.m. ET, with scheduled splashdown at 2:42 p.m. ET on Sunday. There are potential splashdown zones both in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. With a hurricane headed towards Florida, however, it’s unclear if the weather will cooperate with the plan.
(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Virtual Viewing: Disney’s Cruise Line’s Tangled, The Musical” on YouTube is an hour-long musical, with three songs composed by Alan Menken, that was performed on Disney’s Cruise Line and is worth seeing for people who need a Disney musical fix. (Hat tip to Mark Evanier.)
[Thanks to Darrah Chavey, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, Mlex, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]
(1) 2019 WORLD FANTASY AWARDS PHOTO. Lee Whiteside took
this picture of the winners and accepters at Sunday’s World Fantasy Awards
Left to right: Kathleen Jennings (accepting for Best Novella winner Kij Johnson), Emma Törzs (Best Short Fiction co-winner as well as accepting for co-winner Mel Kassel), C. L. Polk (Best Novel), Tobias S. Buckell (Best Collection with Paolo Bacigalupi), Reiko Murakami (accepting for Best Artist winner Rovina Cai), Irene Gallo (Best Anthology) and Rajan Khanna (accepting for Scott H. Andrews, Special Award – Nonprofessional)
The Official Watchmen Podcast launches after the third episode of the series airs on November 3rd. Over three episodes, host Craig Mazin (HBO and Sky’s Chernobyl) discusses Watchmen with its Executive Producer and Writer, Damon Lindelof. Join Mazin and Lindelof as they divulge narrative choices, explore the show’s connection with the groundbreaking graphic novel, and how it reflects our modern times. Make sure to watch episodes one through three of Watchmen before listening. The Official Watchmen Podcast is produced by HBO in conjunction with Pineapple Street Studios.
(3) MAKE ROOM. If Marie Kondo didn’t get you started
decluttering, maybe this post by Wil Wheaton will do it: “The Purge”. This excerpt
is followed by a moving account of the emotional work he went through in the
…As I was cleaning up my emotional baggage, working on strategies to protect myself from my abusers, and practicing mindfulness daily, I realized that I had a ton of STUFF just sitting around my house, cluttering up my physical living space the way my emotional trauma and pain was cluttering up my emotional space. So I made a call, and hired a professional organizer to come to my house, go through all my bullshit with me, and help me get rid of all the things I didn’t need any more.
This process was, in many ways, a metaphor.
We spent several days going through my closets, my game room, my storage spaces in my attic and shed, and eventually ended up with FIVE TRUCKLOADS of stuff I didn’t need. Most of it was clothes and books and things that we donated to shelters, which was really easy to unload. I acquire T-shirts so much, I regularly go through my wardrobe and unload half of what I have, so it’s easy to get rid of stuff without any emotional attachments.
But there were some things that were more difficult to get rid of, things that represented opportunities I once had but didn’t pursue, things that represented ideas that I was really into for a minute, but didn’t see through to completion, things that seemed like a good idea at the time but didn’t really fit into my life, etc….
The death of Yahoo Groups is a particular blow to text-based fan communities, which thrived on the platform in the 2000s. Yahoo message boards and email lists were crucial to the early days of fandom, both as a publishing platform and as a semi-private meeting place in the days before social media sites like Tumblr, Twitter, and Reddit. Yahoo Groups were particularly integral to Harry Potter and English-language anime fandoms, overlapping with the rise of Livejournal in the early 2000s. These fannish mailing lists were home to reams of fanfiction and in-depth commentary on pop culture, and spawned lifelong friendships (and, OK, the occasional deathly feud) within their communities.
AO3 has offered sanctuary to fanworks that are at risk because of
the Yahoo Groups shutdown:
We have two processes in place — one to move fanworks from Yahoo Groups onto the Archive Of Our Own, and one to download and preserve messages and other content from Yahoo Groups in file systems so moderators and Yahoo Groups users have more than nine weeks to figure out how to preserve and possibly share that content.
Open Doors can only import fanworks archived in Yahoo Groups onto the Archive of Our Own with the consent of the moderator(s). If you are a moderator and would like to import fanworks from your Yahoo Group(s) to AO3, you are welcome to contact Open Doors via our contact form.
…If you’re a moderator who’d like to potentially import your group to the AO3, contact Open Doors and we’ll talk to you about options. For more updates on what’s happening, see announcements or check back on this page.
If you’d like to directly help rescue teams and you want to save only fandom groups, you can use this form to nominate fandom groups OR you can go directly to the public spreadsheet to find nominated groups that still need downloading. (General downloading instructions are here.) If you want to help save fandom groups and many other non-fandom groups, see Archive Team’s chrome extension. Both are worthy efforts and both face a hard deadline of Dec 14.
(5) CONZEALAND MINORS POLICY. Here are some features of
Onsite Policy” for the 2020 Wordcon,
A minor is anyone under the age of 18. In New Zealand, the law requires that no minor under the age of 14 be left unattended. …
All Kid-in-tow and Child memberships must be tied to an adult membership. All minors under 16 should have a sticker on the back of their badge detailing up to two adults (over 18) who are responsible for them.
Due to the nature of licensing and regulation in regards to child care in New Zealand, it will not be possible for us to provide child care at CoNZealand. Please refer to the links to nanny and babysitting services at the end of this document.
There are three types of memberships for minors at CoNZealand:
Kid-in-tow (no charge)—born in or after 2015 (generally 5 and under)
Child ($105)—born in or after 2005 (generally 5-15)
Young Adult ($250)—born in or after 2000 (generally 15-20)
These age groups do not exactly align with the differing expectations for supervision of minors. New Zealand law requires that no child under the age of 14 be left unattended.
At the Hugo Awards ceremony at this summer’s Dublin Worldcon, Jeannette Ng was presented with the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Ng gave an outstanding and brave acceptance speech in which she called Campbell – the award’s namesake and one of the field’s most influential editors – a “fascist” and expressed solidarity with the Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.
I am a past recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (2000) as well as a recipient of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (2009). I believe I’m the only person to have won both of the Campbells, which, I think, gives me unique license to comment on Ng’s remarks, which have been met with a mixed reception from the field.
I think she was right – and seemly – to make her remarks….
From the escapades of an intern-turned-spy in Turkey’s capital to the tale of a priest in 15th Century Somerset, there might not be an obvious connection between the novels shortlisted for this year’s Staunch Book Prize.
But they have one thing in common: none of them involve physical or sexual violence towards women.
The prize, which is in its second year, recognises thrillers in which “no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered”.
But while some commend it for challenging stereotypes, others accuse it of ignoring social realities.
Speaking to the BBC, shortlisted authors and other writers share their views on why female characters are so often the victims of violence – and whether that needs to change.
…The concept of the Moon as a strategic base apparently dates at least back to 1948 and an article by Robert S. Richardson titled “Rocket Blitz From the Moon” in the mass-market Collier’s magazine. The article was beautifully illustrated by famed space artist Chesley Bonestell. In one Bonestell painting a bullet-shaped rocket (illogically equipped with large aerodynamic fins) is blasting off from a lunar crater. Another rocket stands prepped in the background and a lunar base is tucked into the side of a mountain. In the next illustration—probably Bonestell’s most dramatic painting ever—Manhattan has been blasted with at least three atomic bombs.
Richardson’s article focused primarily on the physics of the Moon: the low gravity, the lack of air, the trajectory and velocity calculations for firing rockets at the Earth. Rather than advocate that the United States should build a lunar rocket base, Richardson warned that another country could undertake a secret project to develop a lunar base and achieve strategic surprise against the United States. He did not clearly explain why the Moon would be a good place for basing missiles other than its presumed safety from Earth observation, and he noted that it would take at least a day for a rocket to reach Earth with its warhead. Considering that there were other means of basing long-range strategic weapons that did not involve the massive cost of a space program and a lunar base, Richardson’s idea was fanciful at best. But Collier’s was a large circulation magazine, not a science fiction pulp, and this short article certainly reached a big audience and probably fired some imaginations.
Richardson was not the only person writing about the possibilities of using space as a platform for attacking Earth. Robert Heinlein co-wrote a non-fiction article in August 1947, also for Collier’s, called “Flight into the Future.” Heinlein and his co-author, US Navy Captain Caleb Laning, suggested basing atomic weapons in orbit, and Heinlein later used this idea in his book Space Cadet. The 1950 movie Destination Moon, which Heinlein co-wrote, also echoed a similar theme (see “Heinlein’s ghost (part 1)”, The Space Review, April 9, 2007). One of the characters in the movie explains why a lunar base is necessary: “There is absolutely no way to stop an attack from outer space. The first country that can use the Moon for the launching of missiles will control the Earth. That, gentlemen, is the most important military fact of this century.”…
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 5, 1938 — Jim Steranko, 81. His breakthough series was the Sixties “Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” feature in Marvel Comics’ Strange Tales and in the subsequent debut series. His design sensibility is widespread within and without the comics industry effecting even Raiders of the Lost Ark and Bram Stoker’s Dracula as he created the conceptual art and character designs for them. He was inducted into the comic-book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2006.
Born November 5, 1942 — Frank Gasperik. Tuckerized in as a character in several novels including Lucifer’s Hammer as Mark Czescu, and into Footfall as Harry Reddington aka Hairy Red, and in Fallen Angels, all by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. He was a close friend of both and assisted Pournelle on his Byte column. To my knowledge, he has but two writing credits which are he co-wrote a story, “Janesfort War”, with Leslie Fish that was published in Pournelle’s War World collection, CoDominium: Revolt on War World, and “To Win the Peace” co-written with Leslie Fish which was published in John F. Carr’s War World: Takeover. He was a filk singer including here doing “The Green Hills of Earth”. (Died 2007.)
Born November 5, 1944 — Carol Anne Douglas, 75. Although she has two inarguably genre series In the Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator and the Sword and Circlet novels, I’m here to pitch to you her Social Justice Warrior credential series instead (and dissenters can now go elsewhere) in the form of her Midnight Louie series. Each novel is told in part from the point of view of Midnight Louie, the cat himself in a style some say is like that of a Damon Runyon character.
Born November 5, 1949 — Armin Shimerman, 70. Quark on Deep Space Nine. And Principal Snyder on Buffy the Vampire Slayer who if I remember correctly came to a very bad end. He had the recurring role of Pascal on Beauty and the Beast. He also played Professor George Edward Challenger in the later Nineties Lost World film.
Born November 5, 1960 — ?Tilda Swinton, 59. Her take as Rosetta/Ruby/Marinne/Olive in Teknolust might be the most weird genre role she’s done but I like her take as The White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as her best role to date. Mind you her Gabriel in Constantinewas frelling strange…
Born November 5, 1961 — Sam Rockwell, 58. First in our area of interest as the Head Thug in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’ve got him next being Francis Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, not a role I knew. Ahhh, Guy Fleegman on Galaxy Quest. And lastly, he was Zaphod Beeblebroxin The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Born November 5, 1964 — Famke Janssen, 55. Her first genre role was Xenia Onatopp in the Bond film GoldenEye and her longest running genre role was as Jean Grey / Phoenix (Dark Phoenix) in the X-Men film series. Counting horror which I do, she’s got a number of genre appearance including Lord of Illusions, The Wolverine, House on Haunted Hill, Deep Rising and Star Trek: The Next Generation,
Born November 5, 1970 — Tamzin Outhwaite, 49. She was Detective Inspector Rebecca Flint on Paradox, a SF police series that ran for just five episodes and received really harsh reviews. Her only other SF role was as the Captain in an Eleventh Doctor story, “Nightmare in Silver” which was scripted by Neil Gaiman.
“Just by word of mouth and also on the library’s social media pages like Facebook, we saw a lot of patrons say, ‘Oh my God. This is so great. I’m gonna bring back my books. I’ve been hesitant to come back to the library because I owe these fines,'” Telli said.
Chicago became the nation’s first major city to forgo overdue fines, which went into effect Oct. 1 and erased all outstanding fees. Mayor Lori Lightfoot framed the policy change as her latest attempt to remove barriers that deter youth and low-income patrons.
Lightfoot is also making an effort to open libraries on Sundays. The mayor’s 2020 budget includes an $18 million property tax increase to honor her promise to establish Sunday hours at Chicago’s 81 libraries. Currently, the Harold Washington central library and three regional libraries are open 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
(11) NEVER? WELL, HARDLY EVER. Even Book View Café’s Madeleine E. Robins will sometimes “RTFM*”.
I am, by nature, a dive-in-and-figure-it-out sort of technology user. This may come from my early days as a computer user, when my then room-mate and sometime business partner dropped a box on my desk and said “we’re doing a user’s manual for X Corp. Can you learn this” — this being PageMaker, the forerunner of InDesign, a page layout program–“by next week? I should have copy for you then.”
Reader, I did not rise up and slay him; I learned the program, eventually well enough that I taught classes in it. I still use those skills: one of the things I do at my day job is to use InDesign to produce the posters, ads, and other marketing materials that the museum I work at needs for promotion….
…In the past 20 years, as we all know, the movie business has changed on all fronts. But the most ominous change has happened stealthily and under cover of night: the gradual but steady elimination of risk. Many films today are perfect products manufactured for immediate consumption. Many of them are well made by teams of talented individuals. All the same, they lack something essential to cinema: the unifying vision of an individual artist. Because, of course, the individual artist is the riskiest factor of all.
I’m certainly not implying that movies should be a subsidized art form, or that they ever were. When the Hollywood studio system was still alive and well, the tension between the artists and the people who ran the business was constant and intense, but it was a productive tension that gave us some of the greatest films ever made — in the words of Bob Dylan, the best of them were “heroic and visionary.”
Today, that tension is gone, and there are some in the business with absolute indifference to the very question of art and an attitude toward the history of cinema that is both dismissive and proprietary — a lethal combination. The situation, sadly, is that we now have two separate fields: There’s worldwide audiovisual entertainment, and there’s cinema. They still overlap from time to time, but that’s becoming increasingly rare. And I fear that the financial dominance of one is being used to marginalize and even belittle the existence of the other….
(13) ELRIC MEETS DUNGEON SYNTH. A Moorcock-obsessed United Kingdom musician who goes by the name Elric is working in the “dungeon synth” genre (an eerie combination of goth, classical, and folk tunes played on 80s synths). The releases are on Bandcamp and are named “Antihero”, “Stormbringer”, and “Elric of Melnibone”. They are all “name your price.” As Bandcamp said about one of the releases:
It’s safe to say that fantasy literature and role-playing games (the tabletop and the video variety) loom large in the world of Dungeon Synth, and Elric expertly combines both of them. Inspired by the chiptune soundtracks of games like Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana as well as (obviously) the fantasy novels of Michael Moorcock, Elric’s music is the perfect soundtrack to crawling through (16-bit) alcoves, searching for abandoned potions and treasure while trying to avoid the hungry ghouls hidden in the shadows.”
High up in the Arctic Ocean close to the North Pole, a solitary ship floats in darkness, moored to an expansive piece of ice.
If all goes according to plan the ship will remain with that ice for an entire year, so that scientists on board can study the Arctic system and how it’s responding to climate change.
It’s a project called the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC). But finding a piece of ice thick and stable enough to host the mission’s science and logistics is not easy, and there may be challenges for the ice and the scientists in the months ahead.
…The MOSAiC expedition – about a decade in the planning – is an international collaboration involving hundreds of scientists and almost 20 countries. Their goal is to better understand the changing Arctic and improve how it’s represented in climate models.
“We need this information because the Arctic is changing so rapidly, and it’s a place that we have not observed very well in the past,” says Matthew Shupe, an atmospheric scientist with the University of Colorado and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a co-coordinator for MOSAiC.
The last time scientists looked at the Arctic Ocean system so comprehensively was more than 20 years ago. But the Arctic has been warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, and the picture there has changed dramatically.
That’s why these researchers want a year out in the ice: to get an updated look at how the physics, the chemistry, and the biology of this area work during all four seasons.
In France, climate change is already impacting one of the country’s most emblematic industries — winemaking. French vintners say heat, drought and erratic weather is altering the landscape and their centuries-old way of working.
Brothers Remi and Gregoire Couppé are fourth generation winemakers who craft a top vintage, grand cru St Emilion. In the last few years they’ve been confronted with some new challenges. Forty-four-year-old Remi Couppé says there’s no denying the weather is getting hotter and drier.
“Because of the grapes. They show us the change,” he says. “Especially in alcohol. The alcohol level has been getting higher in the last five years.” These days, the alcohol content by volume can reach 15%, he says; when he was a boy, “it was maximum 12 [% ABV]. It’s causing me some problems when I start the vinification process, because I have to use new yeast to avoid too much alcohol. It’s really new for me.”
The higher alcohol levels come from increased sugar in the grapes due to more sun and heat. What’s also new are some of the plants sprouting up between the vines. Couppé picks a flowery-looking weed, holding it up to the blazing sun. “This plant is from the south of Europe and I never saw it here in my life before four years ago.”
Couppé says you have to be careful when using the mechanized harvester now, because such plants can get mixed in and ad a taste to the grapes.
The brothers say in the past three years they’ve completely stopped a process called “stripping,” where most of the vine leaves are removed just before the harvest. Now they need the leaves’ shade to keep the grapes from burning on the vine. Couppé points to a shriveled, sun-exposed cluster of grapes next to the dark, plump ones still shaded by the leaves.
Data sent back by the two Voyager spacecraft have shed new light on the structure of the Solar System.
Forty-two years after they were launched, the spacecraft are still going strong and exploring the outer reaches of our cosmic neighbourhood.
By analysing data sent back by the probes, scientists have worked out the shape of the vast magnetic bubble that surrounds the Sun.
The two spacecraft are now more than 10 billion miles from Earth.
Researchers detail their findings in six separate studies published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
“We had no good quantitative idea how big this bubble is that the Sun creates around itself with its solar wind – ionised plasma that’s speeding away from the Sun radially in all directions,” said Ed Stone, the longstanding project scientist for the missions.
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, Lee Whiteside, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip
Hitchcock, Rob Thornton, Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse
Wooster, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title
credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]
…Somehow, fans in the audience, most of whom who could never have even read my review, likewise foaming at the mouth, got it into their ignorant peabrain heads that STATE OF THE ART was defending this evil racist facisist who had polluted the vital bodily fluids of science fiction before I was even born. After all, it is well known that Norman Spinrad is an old white male, needing only to be dead to complete their social fascist hat trick.
It got picked up on Twitter, which is really fake news, as even Donald Trump knows, I got trolled, or rather the magazine did. And it just so happened that Penny Press, which publishes both Analog and Asimov’,s also financially supported the Campbell award, which is now going to be called something else, ala the other Campbell award, and academic award for the year’s best novel.
As William Burroughs put it, enough to make an ambulance attendant puke.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that there were enough people who understood the freedom of the press to get STATE OF THE ART back on the Asimov’s website. And I’m not dead yet, sorry about that, stay tuned, motherfuckers.
Then, in a comment, Spinrad lit into Jeannette Ng and jumped onto
the Campbell-couldn’t-have-been-a-fascist train.
(2) THEORY AND PRACTICE. Ann Leckie commented on the recurring effort to place sf and fantasy in opposition. Thread starts here.
Subterranean Press announced that Hugo Award-winning editor Navah Wolfe will be acquiring and editing a number of novellas for the publisher to be released in 2021 and beyond.
“I’ve admired the work Subterranean Press has been doing for years, so it’s an honor to get to work with them to publish original fiction,” said Wolfe. “I’m really looking forward to publishing great novellas in Subterranean’s famously gorgeous editions.”
Managing editor and Chief Operating Officer Yanni Kuznia expressed excitement about this new editorial partnership. “Navah is one of the most exciting editors currently active in genre fiction, and I’m thrilled Subterranean has the opportunity to work directly with her.”
Wolfe parted ways with Saga Press a few weeks ago when they eliminated her position.
(5) IN OP-EDS TO COME. “We Shouldn’t Bother the Feral Scooters of Central
Park” is the latest in the New York Times Op-Eds From the Future series. Author
Dr. Janelle Shane is an optics research scientist and the
author of You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence
Works and Why It’s Making the World a Weirder Place. Contributors to this
series Op-Eds that they imagine might be read 10, 50 or even 200 years
We’ve been safely coexisting with the feral self-driving scooters for over a decade. They’re part of the cityscape now, the last remnants of the scooter craze of 2021, sky-blue scooters that cruise the streets in solitude or cluster around their charging stations on the edge of Central Park, rippling their rainbow LEDs and beeping occasionally.
The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation recently announced a plan to lease the scooter charging spaces to vendors and is calling the feral scooters a menace. It’s true that the scooters have developed survival strategies that may not always prioritize the safety of their riders. But as a behavioral ecologist, I’m convinced that humans and scooters can adapt to each other and that removing the feral scooters from Central Park would be a mistake.
The feral scooters don’t want to harm humans — they’re not nearly intelligent enough to have such a goal (based on the specs I could find, their raw computing power is somewhere around the level of an earthworm’s). They are just another form of life trying to survive, and yet they aren’t life as we know it — they’re something much weirder and less understood. It would be a shame to let a brand-new form of life go extinct.
November 4, 1977 — The Incredible Hulk series premiered on CBS. Starring starred Bill Bixby as Dr. David Bruce Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk, it would run for five seasons and an additional five tv films. It was followed by The Incredible Hulk Returnsfilmwhich was intended to lead to a new series but that never happened.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 4, 1912 — Wendayne Ackerman. Wife of Forrest J Ackerman in the Forties. After eight years of marriage, she and FJA divorced but remained friends and companions. Later she translated the German language Perry Rhodan books he acquired. In addition, he says that she coined the “sci-fi” term that he’s credited with being responsible for. (Died 1990.)
Born November 4, 1918 — Art Carney. Yet another performer on The Star Wars Holiday Special, he playedTrader Saun Dann. Genre wise, he’s otherwise fairly light, showing in Ravagers, a post-nuclear holocaust film, Firestarter, The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Night They Saved Christmas and Last Action Hero. (Died 2003.)
Born November 4, 1930 — Kate Reid. Dr. Ruth Leavitt on The Andromeda Strain. Several years later, she’d be sort of typecast as Dr. Jessica Morgan, Director McNaughton Labs in Plague. Death Ship in which she plays Sylvia Morgan only sounds like typecasting. And I think her last genre appearance was on Friday the 13th: The Series as Lila Lita in the “Femme Fatale” episode. (Died 1993.)
Born November 4, 1950 — Markie Post, 69. Her main genre role was voicing June Darby in the Transformers Prime series but she’s had a decent number of genre one-offs including The Incredible Hulk, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Greatest American Hero, Fantasy Island, VR.5 and Ghost Whisperer.
Born November 4, 1953 — Kara Dalkey, 66. Writer of YA fiction and historical fantasy. She is a member of the Pre-Joycean Fellowship (which if memory serves me right includes both Emma Bull and Stephen Brust) and the Scribblies. Her works include The Sword of Sagamore, Steel Rose, Little Sister and The Nightingale. And her Water trilogy blends together Atlantean and Arthurian mythologies. She’s been nominated for the Mythopoeic and Tiptree Awards.
Born November 4, 1953 — Stephen Jones, 66. Editor, and that is putting quite mildly, as he went well over the century mark in edited anthologies quoted sometime ago. The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror accounts for seventeen volumes by itself and The Mammoth Book of (Pick A Title) runs for at least another for another dozen. He also, no surprise, to me, has authored a number of horror reference works such as The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustrated History, Basil Copper: A Life in Books and H. P. Lovecraft in Britain. He also done hundreds of essays, con reports, obituaries and such showing up, well, just about everywhere.
Born November 4, 1955 — Lani Tupu, 64. He’d be here just for being Crais and the voice of the Pilot on the Farscape series but he’s actually been in several other genre undertakings including the 1989 Punisher as Laccone, and Gordon Standish in Robotropolis. He also roles in Tales of the South Seas, Time Trax and The Lost World. All of which we can guess were filmed in Australia. Lastly, he appears in the Australian remake of the Mission: Impossible series which if you haven’t seen it is quite excellent. I just found it in DVD format sometime in the past year.
Born November 4, 1960 — John Vickery, 59. In Babylon 5, he played Neroon which is where I remember him from as he was a Right Bastard there. His major Trek universe role was as Rusot, a member of Damar’s Cardassian resistance group, appearing in the DS9 episodes “The Changing Face of Evil”, “When It Rains…” and “Tacking Into the Wind”. He also played a Betazoid in Next Gen’s “Night Terrors” and a Klingon in Enterprise‘s “Judgment” episode.
Darnell “SuperChef” Ferguson finds himself is a trademark cook-off with DC Comics over the name of his new restaurants chain, “Superhero Chefs”.
Darnell “SuperChef” Ferguson is known for winning the “Ultimate Thanksgiving Challenge” hosted on The Food Network and has also appeared on The “TODAY” Show, “The Rachael Ray Show,” and a whole bunch of other shows. Ferguson opened up three restaurants in Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky called “Superhero Chefs” and using the above logo. Ferguson filed the trademark in his own name and not a company that owns the restaurants, not a smart move because Superman and company came a knockin’….
…Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy, during a discussion of the company’s second-quarter results, pointed to generating interest in midlist books as one of the biggest challenges facing all publishers.
Though the hits-driven nature of publishing has not changed in recent years, the nature of those hits has. Due to a number of coalescing factors—including a shrinking physical retail market and an increase in competing entertainment driven by the proliferation of streaming TV platforms—book publishing has watched as a handful of megaselling titles have begun to command an ever-larger share of its sales.
According to NPD BookScan, which tracks an estimated 80% of unit sales of print books, sales of the 100 bestselling adult titles increased 23% in 2018 compared to 2017. All other titles ranked below that top tier either fell or remained flat. On a 52-week rolling basis through Oct. 5, 2019, the sales of the top 100 books rose another 6% over the comparable 52-week period ending in 2018, while, again, all other sales levels either fared worse or stayed flat. Taken together, sales of the 100 bestselling print books rose nearly 30% over a period of about two years, while books that ranked between 101 and 10,000 saw their total print unit sales fall 16%. Books that ranked below 10,000 remained flat in the period.
I fell in love with Adrian Tchaikovsky’s space opera novel Children of Time, a phenomenal story about uplifted spiders deep in space. His next is a novella that’s a return to usual territory for him: fantasy. Made Things is set in Fountains Parish, a rough neighborhood where crime is rampant. Coppelia is a thief who has some extra help: some puppet-like “friends” that she’s made. They don’t entirely trust her, but they have a relationship that works. But a new discovery changes her entire world, and they all must reexamine how they understood the world, and save their city from disaster. Civilian Reader says that it’s an “excellent short fantasy novella, one that introduces us to a new world, with interesting magic and politics.”
(14) LAND OF THE MIDNIGHT STUN. Vanity Fair’s Mark Seal offers his version of an Icelandic saga: “The Big Bitcoin Heist” – a crime where you can’t “follow the money.”
…While he was sleeping, someone had broken into the data center and stolen 550 Bitcoin computers, along with motherboards, graphics cards, and power accessories—a haul worth $500,000 for the hardware alone. It was the fifth cryptocurrency data center in Iceland to be hit in two months. The total take: $2 million in tech gear.
But the true value of the computers was far greater. If the thieves knew how to operate them, the machines could be used to mine Bitcoins—an operation that would churn out a continuous stream of virtual money for the burglars, all of it encrypted and completely untraceable. The criminals weren’t robbing banks, or even Fort Knox. They were stealing the digital presses used to print money in the age of cryptocurrency.
In the spot by AMV BBDO, Carey is seen belting out the timeless classic amid a stereotypical Christmas setting but things go off script when the star becomes embroiled in a tug of war with a hungry elf for the last bag of Walkers Pigs in Blankets on set.
What was it like for a young actor in his first movie to be on the set with big stars?
RW: There’s a deleted scene with me and Tony Shalhoub in the engine room, and I knew the lines coming in, but it was my first movie. I had done a couple little things on camera before, but seeing all of those stars—Sigourney Weaver from Alien; Tim Allen, who was huge at the time; Alan Rickman, Sam Rockwell, all of them—they were all standing behind me and I was so intimidated I couldn’t remember my lines. Maybe the first and last time I would do that.
And a really complex line like, “The iron capacitor and the valence protector don’t synchronize when rerouting the surveillance monitors,” or whatever I’m saying, I just couldn’t for the life of me get my lines out. It was humiliating. I kept fumbling. And I really was a theater actor, so I prided myself on knowing my lines and being able to come in and deliver. But I was sweating I was so nervous. And if you see it, if you watch the scene, you can kind of see on my face that I’m pretty intimidated and overwhelmed there. Watch it for the sheer terror on my face. Probably it fit the character.
[Thanks to Xtifr, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King
Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Liptak, and Andrew Porter
for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of
the day Daniel Dern.]
Engholm posted the full text of Dublin 2019’s letter to him along with his own comments in response here.
Dublin 2019’s letter says:
Thank you again for reaching out, and apologies for the time it took to get this response to you.
We do not consider Jeannette Ng’s speech to be a breach of our Code of Conduct.
From our perspective Ng was speaking to Campbell’s part in shaping the sci-fi landscape, which was notably exclusionary of minorities, people of colour and women at the time during which he was a part of it and which has had knock on effects to this day. Our Code of Conduct was, in a large part, designed to ensure people who have previously been excluded from fandom were safe and included at our convention – not to punish people who speak out against its exclusionary past.
We do not believe her words were targeted at anyone other than Campbell and his actions. There is no issue with being male or white, and unless a person also identified with Campbell’s more problematic beliefs and actions, they have no reason to feel attacked. Additionally, being a fan of Campbell’s work does not mean you need to stand by his beliefs; it is possible to appreciate his contribution to the community whilst also understanding some of his viewpoints were problematic.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact us with your concerns – I hope this helps clarify our position on the situation.
Sarah Brennan, Listener and Code of Conduct Area Head Dublin 2019
Engholm, in his commentary, says he believes the Code of Conduct has been applied inequitably, whether judged by past precedents, or on its own terms.
Thanks for a reply, even if it took two months…
But the reply is not very satisfying, and I’ll explain why. A basic principle for acceptable ethics is that it applies equally to all. If not, it’s unethical, immoral – in crass terms, evil.
In 2016 Dave Truesdale was kicked out from the Worldcon for talking about “snowflakes” – a rather mild expression – not pointing to any person or ethnic or social group. But in 2019 it seems perfectly OK to accuse a named person for being a follower of one of history’s most evil ideologies, on the worldcon’s biggest stage.
It becomes clear that this does not apply equally to all. You – ie all responsible for the CoC – even openly admit that not being applied equally was what “Our Code of Conduct was…designed to ensure”. Thus the CoC loses its legitimacy. It’s a set of made-up private laws that allows the intimidation it pretends to protect from.
Engholm disagrees with Sarah Brennan’s evaluation of Ng’s speech (“There is no issue with being male or white…”)
As for Ng’s racist slurs, you seem to simply ignore them, the charges about “whites” being “sterile” and “haunt” the genre. You just falsely claim it’s “no issue” – but it is. You can’t even follow your own instructions that “We do not tolerate harassment of convention attendees in ANY FORM”. That’s what it says, but obviously you do tolerate harassment if it is in the form certain people like. People have reason to feel attacked!
“I certainly did. As a white male writer who goes back to the Campbell era I felt directly under attack, as well as being angered by the inaccurate slander being directed at Campbell, and I was so upset by her statements and the obvious audience approval of them that I left the ceremony as soon as I could appropriately get out the door “
That was a a testimony from a well-known longtime sf professional whom I shall not name.
Engholm asserts that what people complain about in Campbell is the byproduct of his “intentionally provoking intellectual style.” He also tells why in his view (and that of Harry Harrison) Campbell was not, politically, a fascist, therefore Ng was mistaken in calling him one. The complete text of Engholm’s commentary is here.