Ben Bird Person has a pair of photos showing their cat Joy sleeping on Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation (2014).
Photos of your felines (or whatever you’ve got!) resting on genre works are welcome. Send to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com
Ben Bird Person has a pair of photos showing their cat Joy sleeping on Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation (2014).
Photos of your felines (or whatever you’ve got!) resting on genre works are welcome. Send to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com
(1) HELL(P) WANTED. Brian Keene is bringing back “Jobs In Hell”, the 2001 Bram Stoker Award for Non-Fiction-winning monthly industry newsletter for writers, artists, editors, and other professionals specializing in horror and other speculative and weird fiction genres. Paid subscriptions are being taken at the link.
Jobs In Hell will cost $5 per month to subscribe to. You can sign up for it here. The first issue will go out later this month.
To begin, it will run on a monthly schedule, rather than the weekly schedule of the old Jobs In Hell. I will revisit that schedule regularly, however, and I’m almost certain that at some point we’ll increase frequency.
If you are looking for submissions for your magazine, website, publishing company, etc. please email the details to [email protected]. Your email should contain the following information: Name of publication, name of editor overseeing submissions, guidelines as to what you are looking for, details on how to submit, deadline (if any), and payment (if any).
(2) ONLINE SFF COURSE IN NOVEMBER. Aliette de Bodard and Alastair Reynolds will be teaching an online course in writing SF & Fantasy at the end of the year: ”Teaching SF and F with Aliette” at Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon.
This course, “Sci-Fi & Fantasy”, offered through the Canolfan Ysgrifennu Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre, will be held over four online sessions on the following dates: Tuesday 14 November, Tuesday 21 November, Tuesday 28 November & Tuesday 12 December 2023 from 7.00 – 8.30 pm. Register here.
Over four online sessions, Aliette and Alastair will address the peculiar challenges and opportunities open to anyone wishing to write science fiction, fantasy or their related sub-genres. Drawing on their own experiences across a range of literary styles and formats, from short stories to novels and extended series, they’ll cover the mechanics of crafting a story, from planning and plotting, to the use of voice and viewpoint, setting and mood. They’ll address the unique challenges of worldbuilding within the literatures of the fantastic, from the use of language to evoke a time and a place to the invention of social systems and far-future technologies, and how to make those creations seem real to the reader. They’ll talk about the different stages of writing; from initial drafts to polishing, how to prepare work for submission and how to make the most of the literary marketplace, from traditional venues to the online world and self-publishing. They’ll bring invaluable experience in problem-solving: how to come up with ideas, how to work around creative blocks, how to make a good story better – and, always, how to find fun and fulfilment in your craft, wherever it takes you. The future is wide open!
(3) ZELAZNY AND MORE. Today at Galactic Journey Cora Buhlert reviews the 1968 Hugo winner Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny and the 1968 heist novel Easy Go by John Lange a.k.a. Michael Crichton amongst other reviews. According to Cora, the largely forgotten heist novel got a better review than the Hugo winner: “[March 16, 1968] In Distant Lands (March Galactoscope)”.
Buddha is a Spaceman: Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
Roger Zelazny, of Polish origin himself, is one of the most exciting young authors in our genre and has already won two Nebulas and one Hugo Award, which is remarkable, considering he has only been writing professionally for not quite six years.
My own response to Zelazny’s works has been mixed. I enjoyed some of them very much (the Dilvish the Damned stories from Fantastic or last year’s novella “Damnation Alley” from Galaxy) and could not connect to others at all (the highly lauded “A Rose for Ecclesiastes”). So I opened Zelazny’s latest novel Lord of Light with trepidation, for what would I find within, the Zelazny who wrote the Dilvish the Damned stories or the one who wrote “A Rose for Ecclesiastes”?
The answer is “a little bit of both” and “neither”….
(4) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 79 of Octothorpe, “You Get To Be A Little Cat” —
John Coxon wants new gloves, Alison Scott is foreshadowing, and Liz Batty scrolls past spiders. We discuss a plethora of awards – Hugo Awards, Nebula Awards, BSFA Awards – while also chatting about hot dog finger gloves and Adrian “Spiders” Tchaikovsky. Listen here!
(5) ONE OF OUR CAPTAINS IS MISSING. [Item by Dann.] Chris Gore of Film Threat magazine recently pointed out that the new Paramount graphic being used to promote all of Star Trek has omitted one of the key characters in Star Trek history; the original and one-and-only James Tiberius Kirk (ignore that inconvenient headstone).
The TrekNews Twitter feed was one of the first to note the omission.
William Shatner noted that he didn’t find it surprising.
Various users responded with reimagined graphics that place a greater emphasis on Captain Kirk.
(6) MEMORY LANE.
2001 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Our Beginning this Scroll isn’t the start of this series. That would be Revelation Space, published a year prior to Alastair Reynolds’ Chasm City, which came out on Gollancz twenty-two years ago.
Reynolds uniquely wrote Chasm City as a stand-alone novel so you needn’t be familiar with any of the five Revelation Space Universe that precede it, including the two (and soon to be three) most fascinating Prefect Dreyfus Emergencies. (There’s a seventh novel, Inhibitor Phase, which came out several years back.)
Chasm City appeals to me because to it is the rare SF novel set within a larger universe that, as I said, is intended to allow the reader who hasn’t encountered this series to be introduced to it.
It won the British Science Fiction Association Award.
It’s got great characters, an awesome setting and multiple stories that weave into each other most satisfactorily. It is certainly one of the best SF novels that I’ve ever read.
I’m sure I spotted one character here who shows up in the Prefect Dreyfus Emergencies series which I think was a very impressive piece of writing by him some years on.
And now its Beginning…
Welcome to the Epsilon Eridani system.
Despite all that has happened, we hope your stay here will be a pleasant one. For your information we have compiled this document to explain some of the key events in our recent history. It is intended that this information will ease your transition into a culture which may be markedly different from the one you were expecting to find when you embarked at your point of origin. It is important that you realise that others have come before you. Their experiences have helped us shape this document in a manner designed to minimise the shock of cultural adjustment. We have found that attempts to gloss over or understate the truth of what happened—of what continues to happen—are ultimately harmful; that the best approach—based on a statistical study of cases such as yours—is to present the facts in as open and honest manner as possible.
We are fully aware that your initial response is likely disbelief, quickly followed by anger and then a state of protracted denial.
It is important to grasp that these are normal reactions.
It is equally important to grasp—even at this early stage—that there will come a time when you will adjust to and accept the truth. It might be days from now; it might even be weeks or months, but in all but a minority of cases it will happen. You might even look back upon this time and wish that you could have willed yourself to make the transition to acceptance quicker than you did. You will know that it is only when that process is accomplished that anything resembling happiness becomes possible.
Let us therefore begin the process of adjustment.
Due to the fundamental lightspeed limit for communication within the sphere of colonised space, news from other solar systems is inevitably out of date; often by decades or more. Your perceptions of our system’s main world, Yellowstone, are almost certainly based on outdated information.
It is certainly the case that for more than two centuries—until, in fact, the very recent past—Yellowstone was in thrall to what most contemporary observers chose to term the Belle Epoque. It was an unprecedented social and technological golden age; our ideological template seen by all to be an almost perfect system of governance.
Numerous successful ventures were launched from Yellowstone, including daughter colonies in other solar systems, as well as ambitious scientific expeditions to the edge of human space. Visionary social experiments were conducted within Yellowstone and its Glitter Band, including the controversial but pioneering work of Calvin Sylveste and his disciples. Great artists, philosophers and scientists flourished in Yellowstone’s atmosphere of hothouse innovation. Techniques of neural augmentation were pursued fearlessly. Other human cultures chose to treat the Conjoiners with suspicion, but we Demarchists—unafraid of the positive aspects of mind enhancement methods—established lines of rapport with the Conjoiners which enabled us to exploit their technologies to the full. Their starship drives allowed us to settle many more systems than cultures subscribing to inferior social models.
In truth, it was a glorious time. It was also the likely state of affairs which you were expecting upon your arrival.
This is unfortunately not the case.
Seven years ago something happened to our system. The exact transmission vector remains unclear even now, but it is almost certain that the plague arrived aboard a ship, perhaps in dormant form and unknown to the crew who carried it. It might even have arrived years earlier. It seems unlikely now that the truth will ever be known; too much has been destroyed or forgotten. Vast swathes of our digitally stored planetary history were erased or corrupted by the plague. In many cases only human memory remains intact… and human memory is not without its fallibilities.
The Melding Plague attacked our society at the core.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(8) SPIDER-REX. Marvel brings us “The All-New Spider-Killer Curses the Spider-Verse in Josemaria Casanovas’ ‘Edge of Spider-Verse’ #1 Variant Cover”.
On May 3, the hit comic book series EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE returns for another wild trip through the Spider-Verse, complete with revolutionary new Spider-heroes and further adventures for the series’ biggest breakout stars, all brought to you from an all-star lineup of talent!
…EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE #1 will also feature the roaring return of SPIDER-REX and the daring debut of VENOMSAURUS in a story by writer Karla Pacheco and Pere Pérez.
(9) SCIENTIST FICTION. Several sff books are part of Martin MacInnes’ list of “Top 10 visionary books about scientists: searching for an answer” in the Guardian.
Science, as much as art, is an act of imagination, the pursuit of something new. While novels about scientists often play with this likeness, there are also scientists who write with the ambition and empathy of novelists. Scientists in literature appear in all sorts of guises: as megalomaniacs, heroes, obsessives. It is this last figure – the obsessive – the character who will not stop – that interests me most….
First on the list is Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihlation.
The four women who enter Area X are named only by their profession: biologist; anthropologist; psychologist; surveyor. It is the biologist who is closest to VanderMeer’s heart, clear in the gorgeous accounts of the living world they walk through and in the novel’s concern with ecstatic dissolution and eroded borders, an awful commonality linking all things. The novel is suffused in beauty and grief, as the biologist goes on, determined to find out what it all means.
(10) WATNEYCRETE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.]They tried urine. They tried blood. But it turned out that potato starch worked better.
The University of Manchester has come up with a extraterrestrial concrete mix that uses Mars (or Moon) dust, potato starch, and a pinch of salt (magnesium chloride). Plus, the “StarCrete” is said to have at least twice the compressive strength of standard concrete. “Engineers Built a New Kind of Concrete 2x Stronger Than the Real Thing” at Popular Mechanics.
The University of Manchester’s new “StarCrete” is twice as strong as traditional concrete, making it a potential solution as a building material for Mars. Add in some extraterrestrial dust and potato starch, and you have a potentially revolutionary new material.
In an article published in the journal Open Engineering, the research team showed that potato starch can act as a binder when mixed with simulated Mars dust to produce a concrete-like material reaching a compressive strength of 72 megapascals (MPa), over twice as strong as the 32 MPa seen in ordinary concrete. Of course, mix in moon dust instead and you can get StarCrete to 91 MPa.
This strength makes it a possible solution, according to the researchers, for a building solution on Mars as astronauts mix Martian soil with potato starch—and a pinch of salt, no joke—to give extra-terrestrial-suited concrete.
Earlier recipes from the team didn’t use potato starch, instead offering blood and urine as a binding agent to reach 40 MPa. Not every astronaut would be excited about continually draining their blood to build in space, though….
(11) DRESSED FOR SUCCESS. “Spacesuit for return to the Moon unveiled” at BBC News.
A new generation of spacesuit for humanity’s return trip to the Moon has been unveiled by Nasa.
The novel design comes with specialist features to support astronauts as they conduct scientific experiments on the lunar surface.
The prototype is said to be a better fit for female space travellers.
Nasa hopes to have the updated suit ready for the Artemis III mission to the Moon in 2025….
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Steven French, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cora Buhlert, Dann, John Coxon, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]
(1) HAPPY BIRTHDAY SYFY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Today, September 24, 2022, marks the 30th anniversary of the Sci-Fi Channel (now SYFY). Can you guess what the first movie they ran was? “What was first show on Sci-Fi Channel, now SYFY?”
…The lead-up to the debut of the channel was marked with intriguing, somewhat ominous promos warning of “an invasion” that was “coming for you.” As the date drew closer, a countdown clock ticked down the seconds until the Sci-Fi Channel made its debut on a reported 10 million of the United State’s then-56 million cable-owning households. (In New York City, Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy was the Master of Ceremonies at the launch party, which was held in the Hayden Planetarium.) The first official broadcast of the Sci-Fi Channel was a sad one, dedicating it to Roddenberry and Asimov, both of whom had died before the Sci-Fi Channel launched.
The dedication was followed by a nifty little faux news report from the year 2142….
(2) SOUND DECISION? Deadline reports James Earl Jones may be done as the voice of Darth Vader. “James Earl Jones Signs Over Rights To Voice Of Darth Vader, Signalling Retirement From Legendary Role”.
James Earl Jones – one of the most distinctive voices in the history of film – appears to have made steps to step back from voicing the Star Wars character, Darth Vader, after nearly 40 years in the role.
Vanity Fair reports that the actor, aged 91, has signed over the rights to his voice to filmmakers using new AI, technology, Matthew Wood of Lucasfilm told the magazine that the actor “wished to keep Vader alive”
“He had mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character,” Wood told Vanity Fair. “So how do we move forward?”…
(3) THE HUGO HAS LANDED. It took awhile for Cora Buhlert’s Best Fan Writer Hugo to arrive. So naturally – as fan writers do — she got a good blog post out of it! “2022: A Hugo Odyssey”. However, the ending is not that happy – it arrived with the base broken.
…By Tuesday, there was still no change and no answer to my e-mail either, so I called FedEx Germany customer service and explained my problem.
“Did you order this?” the lady at the other end of the line asked me.
I said, “No, I did not order it, I won it.”
“Are you aware this might be a scam?” the lady asked.
I explained to her that no, it’s not a scam, that the Hugo is a legitimate award and that I won it, that she can google it, if she doesn’t believe me and that I’d really like my trophy now….
(4) TWO STEPS FORWARD, ONE STEP BACK. The new Chengdu Worldcon website, which launched without any reference to who its Guests of Honor are, or even having any, has now progressed to (1) a placeholder graphic and (2) a link to Guests of Honor that only goes to the About page. I think we’re all looking forward to reading what they have to say about Sergey Lukianenko.
(5) TOMB OF DOOM. Galactic Journey’s Jessica Holmes is tuned in as the 1967 season of Doctor Who begins. “[September 24th, 1967] A Really Cool Story (Doctor Who: Tomb Of The Cybermen)”.
Doctor Who is back for another season, and let me tell you: we’re off to a promising start. The Cybermen are back, we’ve got a new companion, and Patrick Troughton continues to impress in his role. Let’s take a look at Doctor Who in The Tomb Of The Cybermen….
(6) ERIC IDLE IS BACK. Eric Idle told TIME about his experience surviving pancreatic cancer.
About three years ago I was incredibly lucky: I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Lucky? One of the most lethal forms of cancer, how on earth was that lucky? Well, because it was found incredibly early. No, not before lunchtime, but before it had gone anywhere…
The 79-year-old then proved to himself he still has what it takes by participating in costume on The Masked Singer. “The full Monty: Eric Idle talks ‘Masked Singer,’ secret cancer battle, the Rutles, George Harrison, his lost David Bowie/Kate Bush movie, and making Queen Elizabeth II laugh” at Yahoo!
The Hedgehog is among the many absurdist roles that Monty Python’s Eric Idle, who was unmasked this week on The Masked Singer Season 8’s premiere, was perhaps born to play. “The Hedgehog was perfect for me, because I’m prickly, and when I’m attacked, I curl up into a ball,” he jokes to Yahoo Entertainment the day after his big reveal. On the show, Idle actually pointed out that going on The Masked Singer was one of the more normal things he’d ever done in his career, and he tells Yahoo, “Yes, being silly and dressing up in silly animal costumes is not strange to me. When they asked me, and it was out of the blue, I thought, ‘Well, this is in my wheelhouse.’”
But there was a serious reason why the 79-year-old British comedy legend accepted Fox’s invitation: to make a comeback and test himself after his secret, against-all-odds pancreatic cancer battle, and to spread awareness for his new Bright Side Fund partnership with Stand Up to Cancer. Idle revealed the news about his 2019 diagnosis shortly after his Masked Singer episode aired.
Below, Idle discusses his cancer recovery; how he convinced Paul McCartney to let him cover “Love Me Do” on The Masked Singer despite the Beatle’s previous grudge over Idle’s Fab Four parody band the Rutles…
(7) SNAPE SNIPES. “Alan Rickman’s secret showbiz diaries: the late actor on Harry Potter, politics and what he really thought of his co-stars”: the Guardian has excerpts.
HARRY POTTER PREMIERE.
6.30pm The film should only be seen on a big screen. It acquires a scale and depth that matches the hideous score by John Williams. Party afterwards at the Savoy is much more fun….
4pm Harry Potter 3. World Premiere.
Arriving at Radio City was like being a Beatle. Thousands of fans screamed as we got out of cars. Mostly for Daniel Radcliffe but a rush for everyone. Not to mention walking out on to the stage to 6,000.
Alfonso has done an extraordinary job. It is a very grown-up movie, so full of daring that it made me smile and smile. Every frame of it is the work of an artist and storyteller. Stunning effects that are somehow part of the life of the film, not show-off stunts. Later back to the hotel w. Ariel Dorfman, who takes egomania to utterly charming heights. He just loves being him…
[PUBLICATION DAY OF THE LAST HARRY POTTER.]
11.15pm Tunbridge Wells and Waterstones. I had guessed at 20 or 30 people waiting for midnight. Probably 300-400. And a queue moving slowly. One hour in the queue and it was time for action. Went to friendly security man. “Have you read the books?” No. “Have you seen the films?” One of them. “I’m in them.” Oh yes! There will be mayhem if I go into the queue. “I’ll get the manager.”
(Manager arrives.) “Oh! Hello!”
(8) A SLAP IN THE FACE OF OUTER SPACE. Zapf.punkt #15, edited by Filer Mlex, reviews the French science fiction novel, Metro to Hell (1962), by Validimir Volkoff, which features half-human zombies called Necrozones.
Then there’s a brief tour of the British paperback houses: Consul, Corgi, and Compact, in a review of Steve Holland’s Mushroom Jungle: A history of postwar paperback publishing (1993)
(9) LOUISE FLETCHER (1934-2022). Actress Louise Fletcher died September 23. She won an Oscar as Nurse Ratched, but she also played Bajoran religious leader Kai Winn Adami for 14 episodes of Deep Space Nine, and had appearances Invaders from Mars and the Ray Bradbury Theater.
… “I knew from the movies,” she would say, “that I wouldn’t have to stay in Birmingham and be like everyone else.”
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1995 – [By Cat Eldridge.] So what’s the best televised SF series ever done? Max Headroom? Farscape? Babylon 5? The original Trek? May I put in a vote for a series that lasted just one season twenty-seven years ago? That would be of course Space: Above And Beyond. A series with strong overtones of Robert Heinlein in it.
It was created and written by Glen Morgan and James Wong who would collectively write many of the X-Files scripts.
It originally had been planned as a five season story, but only ran for one season, due largely to low ratings. The cast, I submit, of Lanei Chapman, Kristen Cloke, Joel de la Fuente, James Morrison (sexiest actor alive I say), Rodney Rowland and Morgan Weisser was absolutely stunning in their roles as members of the United States Marine Corps 58th Squadron of the Space Aviator Cavalry fighting the methane breathing Chigs.
Trivia: though humanoid, they were named after a species of fleas.
Just in case there’s a soul here who’s not seen it yet though I find that extremely unlikely, I’ll not do spoilers at all. It’s perhaps the best depiction of a military campaign in space that we are likely to see. Think of it as the complete and absolute antithesis of Starship Troopers. No breasts in the showers here. No almost Nazi references. No hotshot pilots.
It ran a mere twenty-three episodes, and depending on your viewpoint, wrapped its storyline, or didn’t. The writers certainly thought they did. I’ve actually heard it argued both ways by its fans.
The producers have said it is not Starship Troopers that was their main influence but rather was The Forever War. (Good choice I say. A stellar book that very much deserved the Hugo it won at MidAmeriCon.)
Interesting note: if the sound effects later sound familiar to you, it was because they were reused on Futurama.
It’s not apparently streaming anywhere.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(12) COMICS SECTION.
(13) BRIDGERTON LITIGATION SETTLED. “Netflix Settles Copyright Suit Over ‘Unofficial Bridgerton Musical’” – Variety has the story.
The streaming service dismissed the suit on Friday against Emily Bear and Abigail Barlow, the creators of the musical. Though the court filing did not say so, a source confirmed that the suit was in fact settled. The pair had earlier canceled a performance of the musical at Royal Albert Hall in London, which was to take place this week.
Netflix sued in July, alleging that Barlow and Bear had infringed on its copyrights by putting on a for-profit stage show at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The service argued that their conduct “stretches ‘fan fiction’ well past its breaking point.”…
(14) ONCE A KNIGHT. Deadline reports “’Star Wars’ Composer John Williams ‘Knighted By Queen’ In Final Honors”.
Star Wars composer John Williams is reported to have been made one of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s very last knights, with the honor one of the final awards approved by the late monarch before her death a fortnight ago.
British press reports that the veteran composer’s name is on the final list of honorary awards for foreign nationals.
Ex-Disney chief executive Robert Iger has also reportedly been awarded an honorary KBE for services to UK-US relations…
(15) REWILDING IN FLORIDA. Jeff VanderMeer is interviewed in Audubon. “Best-Selling Author Jeff VanderMeer Finds That Nature Is Stranger Than Fiction”.
…VanderMeer hoped that, one day, native plants and the insects they supported could sustain birds visiting his backyard. In the meantime, he laid out an avian buffet. This included at least three types of seed feeders (hopper, tube, thistle sock), along with suet cakes in squirrel-proof cages and abundant globs of bark butter. The spread attracted dozens of species. There were Pine Siskins and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Yellow-rumped Warblers, which he called “adorblers.” He learned to recognize their calls. VanderMeer noticed that the Blue Jays uttered a certain warning cry if a cat ambled into the ravine. Whenever he heard it, he ran outside to shoo the cat away. He liked to think they were fighting this predator together. “It’s the least I can do for the community,” VanderMeer deadpanned.
… Even without help from his imagination, ShadowVale could be bracingly strange. One morning a raccoon rang his doorbell at 5 a.m. (The glowing buzzer was unusually low to the ground and paw prints revealed the culprit.) Another time the mailman pleaded with him not to eradicate a patch of invasive grass, calling it “Larry” and arguing “he’s been here 10 years longer than you.” (In the spirit of compromise, VanderMeer gave Larry a haircut instead.) On the east side of the house, he sometimes heard a shriek when he plunged his shovel into the dirt. (The former site of a dog run, it was mined with squeaky toys.)
Apart from such oddities, VanderMeer also had neighbors to contend with. Some doused their lawns with pesticides that could leach into the ravine. Others had solar lamps that ran from dusk till dawn, emitting a constant, low-level light pollution that might disorient nocturnal creatures. He worried about the neighbors’ attitudes toward local wildlife; one insisted, somewhat defensively, that an armadillo had “bared its fangs” at his dog. (Around that time, VanderMeer adds, one of two armadillos frequenting the ravine appeared to go missing.)….
(16) NORDIC LARP. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster/] In WIRED, Jason Anthony discusses “Nordic LARP,” the Scandinavian variant of LARPs which focuses on recreating realistic events rather than engaging in fantasy adventure. Anthony spent $300 to take part in a weekend “gay conversion camp” where psychologists are supposed to make gay people straight. One of the “staff psychologists” in the game is revealed to be Swedish sf writer Karin Tidbeck.
Anthony says that while a weekend of “gay conversion” was not meant to be depressing, there’s a variant of Nordic LARP called “misery LARP” where people spend a weekend in a “concentration camp” or “slave plantation.” “Nordic Larp: My 4 Days in Fake Gay-Conversion Therapy”.
… I’m sharing a silly groove with Walker. The slicked-back bob is gone. The polyester suit is packed away, and now it’s pants and a shirt with a genderqueer pride pin. After a while the two of us duck over to the dining hall, where the group congregates around a few cases of Tuborg beer.
Walker’s transformation is dramatic. They are now Karin Tidbeck, an icon of Swedish science fiction who counts the late Ursula K. Le Guin as a fan. Their novel Amatka described a world constantly created and destroyed through language, and I can’t help but think how much that describes Nordic Larp. Tidbeck looks drained but happy, a beer in their hand….
(17) VERY WEIRD VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I have NO idea what this one by John Butler is about. But there’s a Bradbury reference in it! “The Avant Garde”.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Mlex, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) EYE ON THE PRIZE. Iron Truth author Sofie Tholin, winner of the first Self-Published Science Fiction Competition, has received her trophy from Hugh Howey.
(3) PAWS FOR GENRE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Over on a mailing list, a (so far) brief discussion of “grinning like a Cheshire cat” came up.
In the 150th anniversary version of The Annotated Alice, a page-and-a-half comment discussion on this starts on page 73. (Other CC-related annotations show up a few pages later.) (If you’ve got the original hardcover Annotated Alice, from 1960, like the one I won at summer camp either in 1962 or 1963, there’s a much shorter annotation comment on page 83.)
And out on the Internet:
“The term grin like a Cheshire cat predates the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by at least seventy-five years, if not longer”
along with this suggestion/explanation for the idiom:
“Cheshire is a county in England that is known for its milk and cheese products, surely a reason for Cheshire cats to smile….The most intriguing story may be that at one time a cheese was manufactured in Cheshire county that was shaped like a cat. The cheese was eaten from tail to head, leaving the cat’s smile as the last part of the cheese to be consumed”
“the phrase crops up in English literature as early as 1788, where it appears an entry in a sort of slang dictionary of the time, Francis Grose’s A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.”
Playlist/Lagniappe: And here’s Sammy Davis Jr, who voiced The Cheshire Cat in the 1966 Hanna Barbara ABC-TV animated movie, singing “What’s A Nice Kid Like You Doing In A Place Like This?”
(4) PUBLISHER REBRANDS. Tom Doherty Associates has rebranded itself Tor Publishing Group, effective immediately. Tor president and publisher Devi Pillai said in the announcement, “Although the Tor name has always been associated with science fiction and fantasy, our list has included titles beyond that genre since our inception. With this name change and continued growth, the Tor name will now stand for quality in various types of genre publishing, with each imprint representing a distinct voice.” “Tom Doherty Associates Is Now Tor Publishing Group” at Tor.com.
(5) ALAMAT. [Item by Chris Garcia.] We here at Journey Planet have been working hard as we barrel towards Worldcon where many of us will be seeing one another for the first time since 2019-ish. Chris and James are joined by 2022 Hugo nominees Jean Martin and Chuck Serface for an issue looking at Filipino myth, legend, and folklore, alamat in Tagalog.
Jean provides an excellent introduction to the zine and her journey into myth and legend, and writers Pat M. Yulo, Karl Gaverza, Claire Mercado-Obias, Gerard Galo, Jimuel Villarosa Miraber, and James Bacon provide fine words on the subject.
Art from Franz Lim, Diana Padullo, Leandro Geniston, Clair Mercado-Obias, Alfred Ismael Galaroza, and Jimuel Villarosa Mirabar is also joined by a couple of pieces from the AI art-generator DALL*E 2, and graphic design elements from Chris’ 1960s airline menu collection!
It’s all available at Journey Planet 64 – “Alamat”.
(6) ATOMIC PILES. First Fandom Experience’s latest post in support of the “1946 Project” at Chicon 8 is “The Fan Cave, c1940s”. They’ve reproduced “narrative tours” of the dedicated fan spaces created by Bob Tucker, Harry Warner Jr., and Ron Holmes.
The “experience” component of “First Fandom Experience” conveys our desire to capture what it was like to be an early fan. To date we’ve dedicated the most space to fannish interactions — clubs, correspondence, conventions, conflicts. But fans spent most of their time at home. Those fortunate enough to have even a semi-permanent residence literally papered their walls with the accumulated evidence of their devotion to science fiction….
(7) FREE READ. The Sunday Morning Transport offers Michael Swanwick’s “The Warm Equations”.
Welcome to the first, free-to-read Sunday Morning Transport story for August: science fiction from Michael Swanwick. Concise and epic, “The Warm Equations,” explores a different side of the choices we may make in space. ~ Fran Wilde, August 7, 2022.
(8) PRINCE AND REPRINTS. Jason Sanford has written a follow-up Twitter thread about the SF Insiders post commenting on Best Editor Short Form finalist Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (who they ranked last) and the merits of reprint anthology work. The thread starts here.
Jeff VanderMeer also drew on his experience in a comment to Sanford:
(9) ORVILLE MOURNS. “’The Orville’ Honors Norm Macdonald in Yaphit Tribute Video” at The Wrap.
“The Orville” honored Norm Macdonald in a tribute video posted Friday showcasing the late comedian and actor’s moments on the show as lovable Gelatin Lieutenant Yaphit….
(10) OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN (1948-2022). Actress and singer Olivia Newton-John died August 8 at the age of 73. Her husband made the announcement on Facebook. Her genre credits include the movies Xanadu and Sharknado 5: Global Swarming.
(11) MEMORY LANE.
2009 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Ravens in the Library: Magic in the Bard’s Name (2009)
I get a lot of personally signed books and Ravens in The Library showed up in the post some thirteen years ago with a note asking if Green Man would review it. I already knew of SJ Tucker, a singer-songwriter who does a lot of filk, sort of filk and of course straight singer-songwriter material. You can hear her doing Catherynne Valente’s “A Girl in The Garden” here, riffing The Orphan’s Garden as she gave it to Green Man.
She also writes children’s books and we reviewed one here, Rabbit’s Song, she wrote with Trudy Herring.
Sadly she got a severe illness starting in 2008 caused her to have a very long hospital stay and related surgery, and left her to recover under the weight of massive medical bills. As you well know, independent musicians don’t have deep pockets, so her friends launched a number of projects to generate the needed monies.
So what did they do? Well the most successful project is sitting on my desk, The Ravens in the Library anthology. Three hundred and seventy pages of ballads, poems, songs and stories amply illustrated by far too many stellar artists too note here. The great cover which you can see below is James A. Owen
The writers here are, well, let’s just say I was gobsmacked. Charles de Lint, and Terri Winding, and Neil Gaiman. Ari Berk usually known for his illustrations does a story too, as does Catherynne Valente, Holly Black, and, of course, S.J. Tucker contribute excellent work too. It would be wrong to overlook the work by writers that I’ve never heard of, most likely from the fan community, who are just as great.
So how successful was it? This anthology in less than a week paid off all of her considerable medical bills. Very impressive!
I’d be remiss not to mention the excellent editing work of Phil Brucato and Sandra Buskirk.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(13) COMICS SECTION.
(14) SUPERCANCELLATION. They are dropping like flies. “Another Huge DC Superhero Movie Is Dead” reports Giant Freakin Robot.
…Now, Rolling Stone Australia reports that another DC superhero movie is dead, this time, it is Supergirl who will fly no more.
…insiders at Warner Bros. have also said the currently in-development Supergirl film is next to be canceled. The film was planned as a spin-off from the upcoming The Flash, starring Ezra Miller. Supergirl is set to be introduced in The Flash when it is released in 2023, with actress Sasha Calle portraying the blue-suited heroine.
It should come as no surprise that Supergirl is the next DC superhero project to be retired by the newly cutthroat Warner Bros. Discovery regime and it is likely that it has nothing to do with Batgirl. So far, The Flash has constantly been suffering bad press thanks to its lead actor Ezra Miller. Miller has been embroiled in several criminal charges and allegations over the past year and Warner Bros. has already stated the actor no longer has a future in the DC franchise beyond The Flash. With Miller out of the picture, it is safe to assume any spin-offs related to their lead role will follow suit. It’s worth mentioning that Michael Keaton’s return as Batman in The Flash was also set to be complemented by his appearance as the iconic character in Batgirl….
(15) SAFE TO COME OUT NOW. [Item by Soon Lee.] (Yet) Another “Sandman” Review, but it does capture why this adaptation works. NPR’s Glen Weldon says “Netflix’s ‘The Sandman’ is a long-awaited dream come true”.
First, to the many nervous fans of The Sandman among you:
Relax. They nailed it.
Yeah, it took forever, and a slew of assorted aborted attempts, but the Netflix adaptation of the landmark comic book series just … works.
It succeeds as a faithful presentation of the look, feel and story of the Lord of Dreams as presented in the comics, which was written by Neil Gaiman, with art by Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg and many other pencilers and inkers over the years.
Far more importantly, however, it succeeds as a work of adaptation.
Where recent audiobook versions strictly adhered to every infinitesimal detail of the 1989-1995 comic run (and as a result ended up feeling both dated and overwritten), the Netflix series’ grip on the source text is gratifyingly looser. It breathes.
Changes, big and small, have been made to characters and storylines that streamline, update and focus the narrative, now honed to fit the specific propulsive demands of serialized television….
(16) BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD. In “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: How Starship Enterprise was Redesigned” Variety interviews production designer Jonathan Lee.
…Those elements started with the Bridge, which already made its debut during the second season of “Star Trek: Discovery.” But now that Pike’s Enterprise was getting its own show — one that will hopefully (and boldly) go the distance with a five-year mission — that called for significant revisions to the nerve center of the Enterprise.
“We’ve taken the set that we’ve inherited, but we did a great deal of work,” Lee said. “[Executive Producer] Akiva Goldsman briefed me to bring it back to ‘The Original Series.’ We had to move things around a little bit. We moved the captain’s chair around so that Captain Pike could throw a look to helm and navigations really easily, and that would work with the camera.” And since the viewscreen that was seen in “Discovery” was depicted using visual effects, a physical representation of the viewscreen was designed and added to the Bridge set for “Strange New Worlds.”
Lee also changed the color language from the “Discovery” version of the Enterprise. “It was quite cool with blues and greens and cool yellows. I said, the Bridge must feel warmer, particularly the motion graphics on all the monitors. When you see the before and after, it’s pretty dramatically different, but it’s much more intimate, and it feels more like our show.”
(17) DEEP-SIX IT. Gregory Benford has an idea for removing atmospheric carbon dioxide: “Addressing climate change: plants instead of plants?” in UCI News.
Growing up in Fairhope, Alabama, in the mid-20th century, Gregory Benford engaged in more than his share of character-building employment. In sun-parched farm fields, he chopped sugar cane and bagged potatoes. On shrimping and fishing boats operating out of Mobile Bay, he hauled in nets laden with the ocean’s produce.
Those years of toil on the land and water planted a seed in Benford’s young brain that would, decades later, sprout into CROPS, a nascent commercial enterprise he co-founded that may prove to be one of the most practicable and effective approaches to solving climate change ever devised.
Crops Residue Oceanic Permanent Sequestration is a method of atmospheric carbon dioxide removal that’s simple, straightforward and globally scalable. It relies on the seasonally regulated natural processes of our planet combined with readily available farm labor and unremarkable, centuries-old equipment such as baling wire, trucks and barges. Essentially, CROPS involves bundling agricultural waste into half-ton cubes and transporting them out to the deep sea, where gravity will take them to the ocean floor. Here, the carbon that was once in the air will sit unperturbed for millennia…
(18) JWST NEWS. In the Washington Post, Joel Achenbach gives an overview of the James Webb Space Telescope and the discoveries astronomers have already made with it. “The Webb telescope is astonishing. But the universe is even more so.”.
…Jane Rigby patiently walked me through what the Webb can and can’t do. One thing I learned: Even a million miles from Earth, with that sun shield providing the equivalent of SPF 1 million, the Webb isn’t in total darkness. The heavens glow in the infrared part of the spectrum because of sunlight bouncing off dust.
“It’s our stupid solar system,” Rigby said. “It’s the zodiacal cloud. It’s the light from our own solar system. We’re stuck in our solar system, and we can’t get out of it.”
The Webb probably won’t be able to see the very first stars, she said, “unless they’re kind enough to blow up for us.” But already, the Webb has detected a galaxy that emitted its light just 300 million years after the big bang — easily a record. The instruments on the telescope can do spectroscopy on that light to see what elements are present….
(19) STATE OF THE ART! ATARI 800. Paul Daniels discuses how he programmed an Atari 800 to create a computer game in this 1983 clip from the BBC that dropped today.
“The massive problem with all of this is that it’s not written for ordinary people, and it’s a shame. The magazines and the manuals are completely non-understandable, it’s gobbledygook.” – Paul Daniels Micro Live takes a trip to Blackpool, where magician, presenter and self-taught computer programmer Paul Daniels is hard at work coding his first computer game – Paul Daniels’ Magic Adventure – on the Atari 800. Will you like it? Daniels feels that the unnatural language surrounding computers and their associated literature is a huge barrier to entry for many potential users.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Emory Allen asks, “What if you could change your head as easily as you change your clothes? “Detached”.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Soon Lee, Cath Jackel, Arnie Fenner, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]
(1) ANOTHER BURKE CO-PANELIST MAKES A STATEMENT. Shahid Mahmud, Arc Manor Books publisher, who was one of the panelists on “Diversity Readers and Why You Need Them” at Balticon 56, today told Facebook readers that he and Stephanie Burke “got into a heated discussion” but that Burke did “nothing that warranted her treatment” or expulsion from program afterwards.
…One of the panels that keeps getting referred to is a panel I was on with Stephanie, the one on Sensitivity Readers. Not only that, but I was also the one who got into a heated discussion with her on the panel.
As a fellow panelist (particularly one who got into that that discussion with her) I would like to, in no uncertain terms, make it clear that Stephanie NEVER crossed the ‘line.’ I found her charming, informative, and forceful (in a good way).
At one point I did turn to the audience and apologized for us having hijacked the discussion for the last few minutes and several of them pointed out how refreshing it was to hear different sides of the issue (a couple of them reiterating it after the panel as well).
After the panel ended, Stephanie and I did chat briefly and both of us indicated to the other how much we had enjoyed the discussion even though we disagreed with each other.
So, imagine my shock when I found out that she had been kicked off panels. Even more so, since no from Balticon bothered to contact me about the panel (and no one still has).
Anyway, as a fellow panelist on the panel that is being cited as the reason for her expulsion, I want to make it absolutely clear that Stephanie did nothing that warranted her treatment.
What I find incredulous is that someone at Balticon took it upon themselves to treat another person like that without even bothering to find out what happened or having any investigation of a any kind. Escorting someone out of a panel is pretty extreme. I do think Yakira (the Balticon Chair) is trying to set it right to the extent she can (she has publicly apologized and is now leading an investigation into the incident). I hope the investigation also focuses on Lisa Adler-Golden (the program chair, and I believe the person behind the expulsion) and her actions, motivations and suitability for participation in future Balticons.
…I’m waiting to see how this all works out, and I hope the con chair is able (and willing) to tell the world what really happened and issue a very sincere and public apology (if appropriate) based on the results of her investigation.
If, as I suspect from all I have heard so far, an apology IS appropriate, I think it should be accompanied with an invitation to return as a special guest and, particularly, for a panel on just how destructive this sort of thing is for the fan community as a whole, and not just for the pros/guests immediately affected by it. It’s an issue that needs to be dragged out into the daylight and confronted, without accepting it as long as it only happens to people WE don’t like, and without degenerating into fruitless rounds of whataboutism. This is goring ALL our oxen. It needs to stop, and I hope one response to this fiasco is that Balticon will tell us how IT intends to prevent it going forward….
(2) THE MESSAGE RECEIVED VARIES WITH THE READER. Jeff VanderMeer addresses the question if “Le Guin’s ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ is a classic for its portrayal of gender, but is it also sometimes, for the modern reader, a climate change parable?” in “Landscape, Change, and the Long Road Ahead” at Orion Magazine.
…Le Guin, in creating both this world and this situation, meant to interrogate the politics and logic of countries, and how societies deal with the outsider. Even the long, harrowing journey by Genly and his erstwhile friend from Winter, Estraven, across barren ice can be interpreted as a traditional Jack Londonesque extreme wilderness survival tale, rather than anything more modern.
Yet, the reader changes a book because the world changes, and so when I read of the “facts” of Genly being disputed in Orgoreyn, I could not help but think about the “disputed” facts and proofs of the climate crisis.
Climate crisis is about extremes, and in The Left Hand of Darkness cultures are shaped by an immeasurably hostile physical environment. The coldness of the place, which forces adaptation to its conditions and discourages certain kinds of risk. The fact the nations of Winter do not engage in war constitutes one unique manifestation of this adaptation to an extreme environment. Full-scale conflict, as opposed to minor sorties, skirmishes, individual feuds, simply seems alien to the nations of Winter….
Genly describes war as “the opposite of civilization,” and this is literally true on Winter—if not on our Earth. The planet’s inhabitants cannot afford the destructiveness of war or risk Death by Planet, by diverting or destroying resources needed for survival. They do not have the luxury of surviving both the climate and war….
(3) ALMOST BREAKING EVEN. Despite having cancelled Arisia 2022 due to Covid and the small number planning to attend or be on the program, Arisia, Inc. reports they have made up their annual expenses from grants and donations.
…We have heard back from the grants from this cycle, and we’ve gotten quite a few of them. A few were contingent on holding a convention and I’ll get into the disposition of each of those.
The big news is that we got $15,000 from the City of Boston! This is $10,000 for COVID relief and $5,000 in general operating support. We can use this money to pay organizational expenses such as rent, which comes to $15.600 per year.
We got a grant for $2,275 from SFWA for convention expenses and we can use this for expenses the convention had even though it didn’t actually happen. We have easily enough eligible expenses to get the access grant and $2500 for organizations that did. This appears to be what happened, as we were approved for $2500 for training. We have heard back from the grants from this cycle, and we’ve gotten quite a few of them. A few were contingent on holding a convention and I’ll get into the disposition of each of those.
…We proposed to use this general staff anti-racism training, and I also requested in the application to be able to use the money for board training, in case we get other funding for anti-racism trainings. I believe the Anti-Racism Committee is working on specifics for this training.
We got $3000 for CART from the Universal Participation Fund and the expenses didn’t happen. This is the grant that we qualify for because of Card to Culture. I don’t know if the money can be repurposed, or if so how.
Speaking of Card to Culture, we had 12 people registered for A22 via Card to Culture, vs. 3 in 2021. I am hopeful that we get even more in 2023.
Finally, we have gotten about $4,000 in donations, with one large donation pending in an unknown amount.
This is a total of almost $24,000 not including the access grant. Our annual expenses are a little over $19,000 and the convention had $6,000 in expenses that can’t be passed on to Arisia 2023, plus one of the grants obliges us to spend money on training that we might not have spent otherwise. So we aren’t quite square, but we’re pretty close….
(4) LAWSUIT GOING FORWARD. “Freedom to Read Advocates Sound Alarm as Obscenity Lawsuit Advances in Virginia” reports Publishers Weekly.
Library groups this week joined with booksellers, publishers, and public advocacy groups in sounding the alarm over a lawsuit in Virginia in which two popular authors and their publishers have been ordered to defend their works against obscenity charges.
The legal action was filed last month by Virginia Beach lawyer and delegate in the Virginia Assembly Tim Anderson (on behalf of local plaintiff and congressional candidate Tommy Altman), citing an obscure state obscenity law. It alleges that two books for sale in a Virginia Beach Barnes & Noble—Maia Kobabe’s popular graphic memoir Gender Queer (Oni Press) and A Court of Mist and Fury (Bloomsbury) by bestselling author Sarah J. Maas—are “obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors.”
…According to the Virginia Mercury, “the little-utilized state law allows ‘any citizen’ to ask a court to weigh in on books alleged to be obscene.” And in a development that has shocked observers, a local judge on May 18 found there was probable cause the books could be deemed obscene and ordered the authors and publishers to defend the books later this month.
According to the Mercury, the judge who issued the order, Pamela Baskervill, is “a retired Petersburg-area judge,” who is handling the case because “all other judges in Virginia Beach recused themselves.”
The court’s order raises the possibility that the court could issue a restraining order barring the books from public display and restraining booksellers and libraries from selling or loaning the books to minors without parental consent. In a Facebook post, Anderson hailed the judge’s order as “a major legal victory” and laid out the playbook for those seeking to restrict access to materials they find objectionable: “Suits like this can be filed all over Virginia,” Anderson wrote. “There are dozens of books. Hundreds of schools.”…
(5) HEAR FROM EUGEN BACON. Space Cowboy Books will host a free “Online Reading & Interview with Eugen Bacon” on Thursday, July 7 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Get tickets at the link.
(6) INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN. “Can a book change a young woman’s life?” Hear The Conversation with Nnedi Okorafor and Mel Mazman on BBC Sounds.
Can a book change a young woman’s life? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women in the publishing world about the importance of writing stories that inspire and empower girls.
Nnedi Okorafor is an award-winning Nigerian-American writer of fantasy and science fiction for both children and adults. Her books have strong female leads and draw inspiration from her Nigerian roots. Nnedi has also written comics for Marvel: she was the first woman to write the character of T’challa, the Black Panther, and she wrote a series about his tech loving sister, Shuri. She is a recipient of the World Fantasy, Hugo and Nebula Awards.
Mel Mazman is the chief product officer at Rebel Girls, a franchise publishing books and digital content aimed at empowering young women. The company started in 2016, with a crowdfunding campaign for Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, a book featuring the stories of 100 inspirational women. Since then, they sold 7.5 million books in over 100 countries. Mel shares her insights on how the publishing industry is changing to cater for the needs and interests of younger generations of readers.
(7) BREAKFAST WITH TIFFANYS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Jo Walton talks to Helen Zaltzman about what she calls “The Tiffany Problem, or how do you tell readers that the “anachronisms” they find in novels aren’t actually anachronistic. “Tiffany” is an authentic 12th century name (ultmately derived from “Epiphany”) but use it in a historical novel and readers complain, Walton discusses how she handles this problem in her novels. “The Tiffany Problem” at The Allusionist podcast.
(8) KEN KELLY (1946-2022). Prolific genre and album artist Ken Kelly died June 3 at the age of 76. He was particularly known for his sword & sorcery cover art. He depicted Conan the Barbarian, Tarzan and the rock acts KISS, Manowar, Sleepy Hollow, Rainbow, and Ace Frehley.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1982 – [By Cat Eldridge.] On this day forty years ago, my favorite Trek film by far, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, premiered. As I noted yesterday in my essay on the ending of the original series, there have been thirteen films so far — the good, the bad and the just plan forgettable. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is in my opinion stellar.
Now I’ll admit that the episode that spawned it, “Space Seed”, isn’t one of my favorite episodes, but the screenwriter for this film, Jack B. Sowards, who based it off a story by him and Harve Bennett, created a story here that is fantastic. Neither had any genre background so Bennett watched all of the original series after being hired by Paramount and decided to do a film off the “Space Seed” story.
Damn, they did a great job. From the Kobayashi Maru simulation (named after Soward’s neighbor) to the over-the-top villain that Ricardo Montalbán is here (far more than he was in “Space Seed”), there is nothing that is not completely entertaining here. Most of these Trek films have a spot or two where I want to say to the editor why is that scene in here, but not in this film. I loved it from beginning to end unreservedly.
(Roger Ebert in his review had an interesting point about Khan: “Khan is played as a cauldron of resentment by Ricardo Montalban, and his performance is so strong that he helps illustrate a general principle involving not only Star Trek but ‘Star Wars’ (1977) and all the epic serials, especially the ‘James Bond’ movies: Each film is only as good as its villain.”)
(Some of them are entirely like that.)
They were given a lousy budget, just twelve million, as Paramount really didn’t believe the film was going to do crap. It did as it made ninety million.
What did the critics think? If they were Trekkies, they liked it. If they weren’t, they didn’t.
Kevin Thomas of the L.A. Times definitely liked it: “In this new film there’s no feeling that its makers are straining to compete with ‘Star Wars’ and other special-effects spectaculars, instead, they’re attempting to recapture the spirit of the beloved TV series. (It is, in fact, probably a plus that the film actually began production intended for TV.) The result is a brisk, handsomely designed film in which its hardware, sturdy as it is, never overwhelms its humanity.”
Whereas David Khmer of the Chicago Reader wasn’t impressed: “In this second Star Trek feature (1982), the crew of the Enterprise confronts middle age in a plot that makes very little literal sense but is packed with pertinent life-out-of-death, Waste Land imagery: a 200-year-old heavy (Ricardo Montalban) living on a barren planet, a secret project code-named ‘Genesis’ that can turn deserts into tropical jungles, Captain Kirk wearing specs and rediscovering his long-lost family. If only director Nicholas Meyer had grasped the implications of his tale more fully and enthusiastically, this might have become a classic piece of cornball SF poetry, but as it stands the tepid acting and one-set claustrophobia take a heavy toll.”
It was nominated for a Hugo at ConStellation losing out to Blade Runner. Rotten Tomatoes reviewers really like giving a ninety percent rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(10) COMICS SECTION.
(11) COWL SCOWL. In “What Is Batman” the Pretty Much Pop podcast shares its taxonomical theories.
In light of the recent release of Matt Reeves’ film The Batman, we consider the strange alternation of darkness and camp that is Batman. Is he even a super hero? What’s with his rogues’ gallery? What’s with DC’s anti-world-building?
Your Pretty Much Pop host Mark Linsenmayer is joined by philosophy prof/NY Times entertainment writer Lawrence Ware, improv comedian/educator Anthony LeBlanc, and Marketing Over Coffee host John J. Wall, all of whom are deeply immersed in the comics, and we touch on other recent shows in the Batman universe.
(12) HUMOR IN THE DARKNESS. Death’s Intern by D.C. Gomez is the debut novel in the Intern Diaries series launched in 2017.
A talking cat, a boy genius, missing people, and an untrained Intern for Death. What could possibly go wrong?
Did that really happen?
There’s no way Death offered me a job. I’m a musician that makes her living as a waitress, with absolutely no training in the supernatural world. This is all a very bad dream.
But Bob has been kidnapped, and I can’t possibly lose the only friend I have.
Bob, you’d better be alive. Because if I just gave my soul to Death for nothing, I will personally kill you. Not to mention, it seems Death’s Interns have fairly short life expectancies.
God, don’t let me die.
D. C. Gomez was born in the Dominican Republic, and grew up in Salem, Massachusetts. She study film and television at New York University. After college she joined the US Army, and proudly served for four years. Those experiences shaped her quirky sense of humor. D.C. has a love for those who served and the families that support them. She currently lives in the quaint city of Wake Village, Texas, with her furry roommate, Chincha.
One of D. C.’s passions is helping those around her overcome their self-limiting beliefs. She writes both non-fiction and fiction books, ranging from Urban Fantasy to Children’s Books. To learn more about her books and her passion, you can find her at www.dcgomez-author.com.
(13) SCIENCE TAKES A HOLIDAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] You don’t know what it has been like the past few days as you are a citizen living in a flawed democracy, conversely, I am a subject living in a full democracy kingdom. Anyway, our Queen has ruled that we must have four days celebrating 70 years of her reign. So it has been street parties, barbecue, coronation chicken and a right old national knees-up this side of the Pond. It is a tough life, but we Brits are used to it.
It has also meant that, with the exception of this morning, the library cybercafés have been closed, hence no science news until now.
More than fifteen months after landing in Jezero Crater on Mars, NASA’s Perseverance rover has finally begun its hunt for ancient life in earnest.
On 28 May, Perseverance ground a 5-centimetre-wide circular patch into a rock at the base of what was once a river delta in the crater. This delta formed billions of years ago, when a long-vanished river deposited layers of sediment into Jezero, and it is the main reason that NASA sent the rover here. On Earth, river sediment is usually teeming with life.
Images of the freshly ground spot show small sediment grains, which scientists are hoping will contain chemical or other traces of life. Poet William Blake’s “‘To see a world in a grain of sand’ comes to mind,” wrote Sanjeev Gupta, a planetary geologist at Imperial College London, on Twitter….
Meanwhile, the journal Science has been looking at Mayan astronomy and this features on their cover: “The Stargazers”.
The historic Maya oriented their lives by the heavens. Today, their descendants and Western scholars team up to understand their sophisticated astronomy
In the past few years, slowly converging lines of evidence have been restoring the clearest picture yet of the stargazing knowledge European colonizers fought so hard to scrub away…
(14) SHADOWPAW PRESS MAKES DUOTERO AVAILABLE AGAIN. Duatero by Vancouver author Brad C. Anderson, a searing far-future science fiction novel about the struggles of an abandoned human colony to survive on a hostile alien world, is back in print in a new edition from Shadowpaw Press after being orphaned by the closing of its original publisher, Bundoran Press.
Majstro Falchilo Kredo has devoted his life to protecting the abandoned Earth colony of Duatero from Malamiko, the indigenous ecosystem that makes their crops fail and whose contamination turns humans into mindless monsters.
But Malimiko is changing, becoming more dangerous, more aware, even as the ancient technology the humans use to combat it fails piece by precious piece. Kredo and his fellow soldiers must risk everything or see all they hold precious wiped away and forgotten.
Kredo is prepared to sacrifice himself—and anyone around him—to do his duty. But what if the price demanded is even higher?
“Duatero is a powerful work of science fiction that confronts issues of morality and survival head-on in a carefully thought-out and terrifying alien world,” said Edward Willett, editor and publisher of Shadowpaw Press. “It deserves to find many new readers, and I’m thrilled to be able to give it that opportunity.”
Duatero can be bought directly from the publisher or from most online bookstores in both ebook and print and can also be ordered through any brick-and-mortar bookstore. This handy URL provides links to multiple online sources: https://books2read.com/duatero/
(15) SPELL TREK. “Harini Logan is the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion after a historic spell-off” reports CNN.
…This year’s host was LeVar Burton. The Emmy and Grammy-award winner hosted the semifinal and the final round of the event.
In a statement in December, Burton called the position “an honor.”
“Like a lot of folks, I look forward to the competition every year and am excited to be a part of this wonderful tradition that celebrates excellence,” he said….
(16) IT’S ALMOST TIME. Suspension by Andrea Faye Christians – “a time travel tale of epic proportions” — is Book One of the Time Binder Series.
When Carla Thompson falls asleep and doesn’t wake up, she is shocked to discover what destiny has in store for her. Suspended between two worlds, she meets Isambard Brunel, the legendary eighteenth-century civil engineer, who built the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, England, and who now serves as guardian of its secrets. Historical events intertwine with Carla’s current reality and along the way she discovers a murder, encounters a host of characters including Jamaican psychic, Matilda, and engages in verbal banter with literary legend, Ernest Hemingway. Her adventures lead her to a startling revelation about why she was chosen for her strange new role. In death Carla realises she has never felt more alive.
Andrea Faye Christians was born and raised in Swansea, South Wales. Following a successful career in British radio including the BBC, she moved to the southern Mediterranean island of Malta to pursue her dream of becoming a freelance writer. A decade later she bought a farm in the Madonie Mountains of Sicily where a menagerie of rescue animals found their way to her. With a son in Malta and a daughter in Sicily, Andrea has a home and her heart in both places, and she now divides her time between the neighboring islands.
(17) PHILIP K. DICK WILL BE SORRY HE MISSED THIS SHOW. Matt O’Dowd on PBS Space Time dares to ask,“What If Physics IS NOT Describing Reality?”
Neils Bohr said, “It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how Nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about Nature.” Well it turns out that if we pay attention to this subtle difference, some of the most mysterious aspects of nature make a lot more sense.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]
(1) FAHRENHEIT – NEVER MIND. The Associated Press reports: “Burn-proof edition of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ up for auction”.
Margaret Atwood has imagined apocalyptic disaster, Dystopian government and an author faking her own death. But until recently she had spared herself the nightmare of trying to burn one of her own books.
With a flamethrower, no less.
She failed, and that was the point.
On Monday night, timed for PEN America’s annual gala, Atwood and Penguin Random House announced that a one-off, unburnable edition of “The Handmaid’s Tale” would be auctioned through Sotheby’s New York. They launched the initiative with a brief video that shows Atwood attempting in vain to incinerate her classic novel about a totalitarian patriarchy, the Republic of Gilead. Proceeds will be donated to PEN, which advocates for free expression around the world…
…The Gas Company’s principal owner, Doug Laxdal, told the AP that instead of paper, he and his colleagues used Cinefoil, a specially treated aluminum product. The 384-page text, which can be read like an ordinary novel, took more than two months to complete. The Gas Company needed days just to print out the manuscript; the Cinefoil sheets were so thin that some would fall through cracks in the printer and become damaged beyond repair. The manuscript was then sewed together by hand, using nickel copper wire….
(2) THE NEXT UNICORN. “Peter S. Beagle Returns to the World of The Last Unicorn With The Way Home” reports Molly Templeton at Tor.com.
…The Way Home, according to a press release, “continues the story of beloved characters unicorn, Molly Grue, and Schmendrick the Magician from the point of view of a young girl named Sooz.” The two works included in the collection are Two Hearts, which won the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novelette in 2006, and Sooz, which has not been previously published. It’s described as “a lyrical story of childhood left behind, dedicated to the love of Beagle’s life, who passed away before it could be published.”
The new edition of The Last Unicorn will be available in July; The Way Home publishes in spring 2023.
(3) THE LONG AND WINDING FILM. “‘Stranger Things’ Is Back, and the Duffer Brothers Made It Big” – and the New York Times knows just how big.
…During the two days I observed them, the Duffers, who continue to direct, write and oversee “Stranger Things,” had enough on their plates just getting things manageable. The pandemic had already caused significant delays, and the new season is five hours longer than any previous one. That was the main reason they had decided to release it in two chunks, Ross said. There was just so much material to get through. Demogorgons needed animating. Run times needed tightening.
“How long is the episode right now?” Ross asked their editor Dean Zimmerman about the episode on the screen. Zimmerman glanced my way.
“You want me to say it out loud?” he asked.
“Two and a half hours.”
With episodes like short movies (three of the first four are 75 minutes or more), one might worry that the Duffers have succumbed to excess. For now, they seem content to let the fans decide; Netflix has proved willing to support their expanding vision. Meanwhile, the tone is decidedly shifting this season (think “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Hellraiser”), and its young cast has been shaving for at least a few years. (Want to feel old? Caleb McLaughlin and Sadie Sink are 20.) Plenty can change in three years, including viewer attention. Will fans still flock to “Stranger Things”?
(4) TOMORROW THROUGH THE PAST. Jeff VanderMeer needs no predictive powers to speak about “The Annihilation of Florida: An Overlooked National Tragedy” in Current Affairs.
…In his 1944 book That Vanishing Eden: A Naturalist’s Florida, Thomas Barbour bemoaned the environmental damage caused by development to the Miami area and wrote, “Florida … must cease to be purely a region to be exploited and flung aside, having been sucked dry, or a recreation area visited by people who … feel no sense of responsibility and have no desire to aid and improve the land.”
Even then, a dark vision of Florida’s future was clear.
Most of this harm has been inflicted in the service of unlimited and poorly planned growth, sparked by greed and short-term profit. This murder of the natural world has accelerated in the last decade to depths unheard of. The process has been deliberate, often systemic, and conducted from on-high to down-low, with special interests flooding the state with dark money, given to both state and local politicians in support of projects that bear no relationship to best management of natural resources. These projects typically reinforce income inequality and divert attention and money away from traditionally disadvantaged communities.1
Consider this: several football fields-worth of forest and other valuable habitat is cleared per day2 in Florida, with 26 percent of our canopy cut down in the past twenty years. According to one study, an average of 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation worldwide.
The ecocide happening here is comparable for our size to the destruction of the Amazon, but much less remarked upon. Few of the perpetrators understand how they hurt the quality of life for people living in Florida and hamstring any possibility of climate crisis resiliency. Prodevelopment flacks like to pull out the estimates of the millions who will continue to flock to Florida by 2030 or 2040 to justify rampant development. Even some Florida economists ignore the effects of the climate crisis in their projects for 2049, expecting continued economic growth. but these estimates are just a grim joke, and some of those regurgitating them know that. By 2050, the world likely will be grappling with the fallout from 1.5- to 2-degree temperature rise and it’s unlikely people will be flocking to a state quickly dissolving around all of its edges….
(5) WALDEN WITH AN ELECTRIC SOCKET. And if you need cheering up after that last excerpt – surprisingly, Kim Stanley Robinson is the one about to help you out. “Q&A with Sci-Fi Author Kim Stanley Robinson” in Sactown Magzine.
I hear birds singing in the background. Where are you right now?
I’m outside. My office is my front courtyard on the north side of the house. I’ve got a tarp slung up so that I can be in the shade all the time and see my laptop screen. I also work outside in the rain. I’ve got a waterproof power cord and it powers the laptop and sometimes a little heating pad like you use for your lower back that I throw over my feet. I work all the days of the year out here. In the cold, I wear my winter backpacking gear, including a down hood and [fingerless] wool gloves. I feel like I’m on a little backpacking trip.
My work life has turned into an outdoor adventure. I did this about 15-20 years ago, and it was a great move. I thought I was burning out on writing, but what I was really burning out on was staying indoors all day. When I moved out to this courtyard, the first day that it rained and I slung a tarp up, that was it for me. I have never written a single word of my novels indoors since. I’m looking at white-crowned sparrows now. That’s probably what you’re hearing. And the scrub jays, these are my office mates. I’ve got a couple bird feeders around in this courtyard, and because I’m just sitting here for hours every day, I’m just part of the landscape as far as they’re concerned. I’ve had a scrub jay land on my boot at the end of my footstool and just stare at me like, “Are you alive or dead?”
(6) ACTIVISM. “Workers at an Activision studio vote to unionize, a first for the gaming industry.” The New York Times has the details.
A group of workers at a video game studio that is part of Activision Blizzard has voted to form a union, a first for a major North American video game company.
The vote, which passed 19 to 3, affects 28 quality-assurance employees at Raven Software, the Wisconsin studio that helps to develop the popular Call of Duty game. The workers voted over the past several weeks, and the results were tallied by the National Labor Relations Board on Monday. Activision has one week to formally object if it finds grounds for complaint.
The new union, the Game Workers Alliance, is the culmination of months of labor organizing at Activision, which has faced increasing pressure from employees to improve working conditions after a lawsuit accused the company of having a sexist culture in which women were routinely harassed.
Organizing at Raven in particular increased in intensity in December, when quality-assurance, or Q.A., workers walked out to protest the ending of about a dozen workers’ contracts. The Communications Workers of America, a prominent tech, media and communications union, helped lead the unionization effort….
(7) BRING THE HAMMER. The trailer for Marvel Studios’ Thor: Love and Thunder dropped today.
“Let me tell you the story of the space viking, Thor Odinson…”
(8) HE MORPHED THOSE CHECKS. The New York Times tells why “A former ‘Power Rangers’ actor is charged with helping steal millions in Covid relief funds.”
The actor who led a team of teenage superheroes on “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” has been accused of helping steal millions of dollars from the government’s Paycheck Protection Program pandemic relief fund.
Jason Lawrence Geiger, 47, who played the Red Ranger under the stage name Austin St. John, and 17 others were charged with fraud this week in a Texas federal court over what prosecutors described as a conspiracy to illicitly obtain $3.5 million in P.P.P. loans.
Mr. Geiger and the others he is said to have worked in coordination with used a mix of genuine and sham businesses to obtain loans from the relief program, prosecutors said. According to court filings, they fabricated documents and made false claims about sales and payroll to obtain inflated loans, then spent the cash on jewelry, precious metals and cars.
Mr. Geiger received a loan of $225,754 in June 2020 for his company St. John Enterprises, which sells Power Rangers memorabilia, such as $60 autographed photos and $100 personalized video messages. Instead of using the money to pay workers — the relief program’s intended purpose — Mr. Geiger funneled most of the money to two of his co-defendants, prosecutors said in court filings….
(9) DENIS MEIKLE (1947-2022). In the Guardian, Jasper Sharp pays tribute to his late friend, film historian Denis Meikle.
…In 1996 Denis’s first book, A History of Horrors: The Rise and Fall of the House of Hammer, was published, after almost six years of writing and intensive research during which time he developed a close friendship with Michael Carreras, the head of the studio in its later years. It is considered the definitive history of Hammer Films.
This was followed by Jack the Ripper: The Murders and the Movies (2001), Vincent Price: The Art of Fear (2003), Johnny Depp: A Kind of Illusion (2004), The Ring Companion (2005) and Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out (2006).
With Jane, in 2007 he founded Hemlock Books, specialising in non-fiction publications on film, horror, mystery and the macabre and actor and director biographies, through which he edited and published the journals The Fantastic Fifties, The Sensational Sixties and The Age of Thrills (1930s and 40s), and published his final work, Mr Murder: The Life and Times of Tod Slaughter (2019), jointly researched with Kip Xool and Doug Young.
This recent Tod Slaughter biography encapsulates Denis’s approach to film writing perfectly: scholarly, fact-driven and intensively researched without being dry, and writerly and critical without thrusting his role as the writer to the fore….
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1964 – [By Cat Eldridge.] This is the month that saw the publication of John D. MacDonald’s The Deep Blue Good-by, the first of the Travis McGee novels. (Warning: there’s nothing genre or genre adjacent here. So go away if that’s what you were expecting.) In my opinion, the Travis McGee novels are among the finest mystery series ever done.
I’m listening to them now because Audible dropped the price way, way down on each work. And it’s been at least twenty years since I read them all. So it’s an excellent time to re-experience them. The narrator, Robert Perkoff, is quite excellent, capturing the first person voice of Travis as well as I expect him to.
This novel was only accepted by in 1964 by Fawcett Publications editor Knox Burger after MacDonald says in a later interview with Ed Gorman: “At the request of Knox Burger, then at Fawcett, I attempted a series character. I took three shots at it to get one book with a character I could stay with. That was in 1964. Once I had the first McGee book, The Deep Blue Good-by, they held it up until I had finished two more, Nightmare in Pink and A Purple Place for Dying, then released one a month for three months. That launched the series.”
McGee is of an uncertain background, he’s ex-military, but that may be the Korean War or it might be just out of the very early Vietnam War, as MacDonald hints at both. He is a big man and knows how to fight, has a temper, but controls it. He won the Busted Flush, his house boat, in a card game. Was it a honest game? Who knows?
The novels really should be read in the order written as both McGee and the America that he’s part of change in a very chronological fashion. Travis has definite strong political opinions and I won’t say I always agree with them, but that’s the character. And no, I won’t say that this character is altogether pleasant as he isn’t as in this novel and in every novel in the series, he will do things that make me cringe.
If you haven’t read The Deep Blue Good-by, go ahead and read it — if you like it, you’ll like the whole series. The Deep Blue Good-by is reasonably price at the usual suspects for six dollars.
A film version of The Deep Blue Good-by, directed by Oliver Stone, was optioned a decade ago. Christian Bale who is six feet tall to Travis McGee’s stated six feet four was going to the lead. The film was never developed. There’s one film based off a later novel in this series, Darker Than Amber starring Rod Taylor, and one, Travis McGee: The Empty Copper Sea that starred Sam Elliott but which moved McGee to sunny California. McDonald vetoed a television series in the Sixties on the grounds that if it was popular no one would read his novels.
See? Not a single spoiler!
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(12) KAMALA KHAN. Marvel Studios’ Ms. Marvel starts streaming June 8 on Disney+.
Good is not a thing you are, it’s a thing you do.
(13) MADE (UP) MAN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this podcast that Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Ron Perlman. Perlman is of interest to us because nearly all of his work has been genre-related, beginning with his debut in Quest For Fire. Perlman says he got his job in the first Beauty and the Beast because makeup artist Rick Baker said Perlman worked well with prosthetics. Perlman also discusses his long-running collaboration with Guillermo del Toro; Perlman worked on del Toro’s first film, Cronos, and has collaborated with Del Toro on seven other projects, including the forthcoming Pinocchio. Perlman also discusses what actors do during a daily four-hour stint in the makeup chair and his extensive voice work, including playing Optimus Prime in two Transformers movies. “Maltin on Movies: Ron Perlman”.
In his earliest screen appearances (remember Quest for Fire?) Ron Perlman was buried under a ton of makeup and prosthetics. That’s also how he became the Emmy-winning star of television’s Beauty and the Beast. Since then he’s shown his versatility, especially in his collaborations with the gifted filmmaker Guillermo del Toro like Hellboy and the forthcoming Pinocchio. His new film The Last Victim, casts him as a weary sheriff in the modern-day West. As Leonard and Jessie quickly discovered, Ron has the soul of a poet and the heart of a movie buff. Wait till you hear him singing the praises of Gary Cooper!
(14) I GUESS WE DO TALK ABOUT HIM. Tonight Andrew Porter witnessed another item that stumped Jeopardy! contestants.
Answer: “Sylvie and Bruno” was a dreamy 1889 children’s book by this Brit who was comfortable with fantasy worlds.
Wrong questions: “Who was Barrie?” and “Who was Tolkien?”
Right question: “Who was Lewis Carroll?”
(15) GENUINE TRIVIA. It doesn’t get much more obscure than this: “10 actors from The Andy Griffith Show who voiced major cartoon characters” at MeTV.
The Andy Griffith Show hired a sprawling cast to play all the quirky citizens of Mayberry. Many of those actors were skilled at performing in amusing voices. No wonder they tended to have careers in cartoons, too.
Many of the faces from Mayberry were notable animation voice-over artists. Here are some of our favorite that might surprise you.
1. Arlene Gorlonka
Speed Buggy was one of several successful Hanna-Barbera clones of its hit Scooby-Doo. Substitute the Great Dane with a talking anthropomorphic dune buggy and it’s essentially the same show. “Tinker” looked and acted a whole lot like Shaggy. And then there was Debbie, the Daphne, if you will. The mystery-solving teen was voiced by none other than Howard Sprague’s girlfriend, Millie!
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Morbius,” the Screen Junkies say that “Michael Morbius is a doctor living a serious challenge: being Jared Leto.” Dr. Morbius chugs enough blood at blood banks that the narrator says it reminds him “of the time at camp when we found the Capri Suns.” Also Matt Smith (speaking of doctors) “acts with the freedom of someone who knows he’s in a train wreck.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Christian Brunschen, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]
(1) BAFTA TV. Today’s BAFTA TV Awards 2022 winners predictably had almost no genre presence because there were very few sff nominees. (Even the new Doctor Who, Ncuti Gatwa, lost – as a nominee in the Male Performance in a Comedy Programme for his role in the non-genre series Sex Education.) The one oasis in this desert, however, is that the International category winner was The Underground Railroad. (The complete list of award recipients is here.)
(2) 1977. Connie Willis recounted her experience seeing Star Wars for the first time in a post for Facebook readers.
…And the story was pure science-fiction, with its brave, naive young hero and feisty heroine, who were straight out of Robert A. Heinlein, to the tough but heart-of-gold mercenary Han Solo who was straight out of The Three Musketeers. And the garbage compactor and the Millennium Falcon and the Death Star and that great tie-fighter battle, which was straight out of every war movie I’d ever seen. And Chewbacca and Obi Wan Kenobi and the tie-fighters and the Sand People and the great lines which promptly became part of my family’s language and still are to this day: “Use the Force, Luke,” and “Don’t get cocky, kid,” and “I’d sooner kiss a wookie,” and “Aren’t you a little short to be a stormtrooper.”…
(3) 1982. The end of the first Star Wars trilogy is not nearly as romantic in retrospective: “How the California forest that starred as Endor in ‘Star Wars’ was obliterated” at SFGate.
…Months after the “Star Wars” shoot was over, the logging company did what it did best and clear-cut the entire area. Endor is no more.
“Except, you can visit the grove where the speeder chase scene was shot,” clarified Nate Adams, deputy director of the Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission.
Protected in perpetuity within a state park in Humboldt County are the remaining shreds of Endor. The Film Commission highlighted the area in its “Map of the Movies” for a self-guided tour through the two northern counties.
“It’s off Highway 36 in Grizzly Creek State Park along the Cheatham Grove path,” Adams said. “When you go there, you’ll recognize some of the fallen trees close to the trailhead. I was there last year to help with the Jeff Goldblum show and immediately recognized trees 40 years later.”
As detailed in its harvesting plan, the logging company had already scheduled to clear-cut the area where Endor once stood and it was set for destruction well before filmmakers expressed an interest to shoot there. Mario D. Vaden, an arborist and longtime photographer of Redwood National Park, thinks this was a missed opportunity.
“Had somebody been able to foresee the popularity and success of ‘Star Wars,’ it would have been crazy not to save the grove where Endor was made and use it as a tourist venue,” he said. “In the same way the Trees of Mystery have their attraction, it would have been world-famous.”
Endor may have been nearly obliterated, but Perry said that its legacy lives on where you least expect it.
“The logging company was in the commercial market and a lot of the Miller Redwood products became decking material in the Bay Area,” he said. “So people could be walking on decks that are made from ‘Star Wars’ sites.”…
(4) TWO HWA INTERVIEW SERIES. The Horror Writers Association is doing two streams of thematic interviews this month, Jewish Heritage in Horror and Asian Heritage in Horror. Here are excerpts of two recent posts.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
Again, I blame my parents. I’m dating myself, but I recall my Dad taking me to see ALIEN and I was just blown away on so many levels. I loved its artistry. I loved its world. I loved its darkness. Been hooked ever since. I recall seeing Stephen King’s NIGHT SHIFT at the bookstore … the one with the hand wrapped in gauze with the eyes poking through … and bought it and stayed up late reading it. I then scoured everything I could find of his. My dad also brought me issues of TWILIGHT ZONE and CEMETERY DANCE that we’d read and talk about. Meanwhile, my mom handed me a hardcover of a then new writer named Anne Rice. INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE opened up so many worlds. I wouldn’t be doing this without my folks. Happy as can be about it, too
What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?
Horror is everywhere, in the fabric of the everyday. Some people don’t want to face what makes them afraid or uneasy, but I’d rather look at it face on. The unknown is always worse than the known.
It’s taken me a long time to realise why I like horror and it’s only through writing it that I understand why. When I write about the painful things in my life, I find horror and the fantastic an easier way of processing them. The reality of suffering is truly terrible. It’s real-life dramas about terrible events or experiences that I struggle to watch or read about. I find them easier to consider when cloaked in the fantastic and horrific than when looked at directly. It abstracts them.
(5) NAMES TO CONJURE WITH. Mashable’s list of “11 incredible women sci-fi authors you need to read” begins with N.K. Jemisin, Kameron Hurley, and Joanna Russ.
…The writers that follow vary widely in subject matter and approach. Some hew closely to reality, while others let their minds take them on theoretical journeys to the ends of time and space. Some deliver gritty action and adventure, while others use a defter, more exploratory touch. They’re all absolute masters, though, and your reading list deserves to have them on it. Without further ado, here are 11 women sci-fi authors you need to read…
(6) DEFENDING SFF. Big Think’s Jonny Thomson unpacks one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s essays: “Tolkien on the importance of fantasy and science fiction”.
The snobbery of those who look down on fantasy has a long pedigree — so much so that, in 1947, J.R.R. Tolkien felt the need to defend the genre in his work, “On Fairy-Stories.” For Tolkien, fantasy and fairy stories are not simply stories about fairies. They are stories that take place in a land of fairies. They exist in their own created land, where any number of wondrous things can happen, but they are always treated with the utmost seriousness by the reader. To enter Faërie is not to enter a world of simple make-believe; instead, we perform an act of “sub-creation,” in which we form a world within our wider “reality.”
This imaginary world we create always will go beyond the words given to describe it. The fantasy realm “cannot be caught in a net of words; for it is indescribable.” Words alone will never be able to conjure up a fully realized land of magic. For this, we need the ability to sub-create. When we sub-create a world, we “make a Secondary World which the mind can enter.” This world has its own internal logic, laws, and systems. We see, feel, and live in this world in a way far beyond the words on a page can alone provide. We color in background details and add sights, smells, and wonders that go beyond the narrow bounds of the words in the book. It is why movie adaptations can feel so hollow, at times.
(7) DAN DECKERT (1952-2022). LASFS member Dan Deckert, who moved with his family from LA to the Midwest decades ago, died May 8. His wife Danise announced that he passed away after several days in the ICU with major health problems. During Dan’s time as an active LASFSian, he served terms as President and on the Board of Directors, and chaired the club’s annual Loscon in 1982. His financial donations to the club were acknowledged by making him a “Patron Saint”, celebrated the twelfth meeting of each year. He produced a couple hundred issues of his fanzine Entropy for the club’s weekly APA-L. He also was a director of the conrunning organization SCIFI which hosted many cons, including the 1996 Worldcon of which he was a division head. Since Dan’s retirement a few years ago he began to volunteer in fandom again, working on a program track for Worldcon 76 in 2018.
(8) MEMORY LANE.
1969 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Sir Harry Paget Flashman VC, KCB, KCIE., 1822 – 1915
I grant he’s not even genre adjacent, but I’ll give you a tale in a minute that makes it relevant to us. Harry Flashman appears in a series of 12 George MacDonald Fraser’s books collectively known as The Flashman Papers. If Flashman had a birthday, the author says it would have been earlier this week, May 5. The first novel, Flashman, was published in 1969 and many readers here in the States thought it was a work of non-fiction.
The books centre on the exploits of Harry Flashman. He is a cowardly British soldier, rake and just generally disreputable character who is placed in a series of real historical incidents between 1839 and 1894. It must be noted that despite his cowardice and his attempts to flee danger whenever possible, he becomes a decorated war hero and rises to the rank of brigadier-general.
Royal Flash, a 1975 British film, is based upon the second Flashman novel of the same name. It stars a thirty-two-year-old Malcolm McDowell as Flashman. It was not well received as The Observer noted it left them “breathless not so much with enchantment as with boredom”. Although audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rating of sixty-four percent which isn’t bad at all.
Kage Baker didn’t actually write a Flashman novel, though we talked several times about her doing so, but the bones of one appeared in one of her novels as her sister Kathleen told me that it ended up elsewhere: “Most of her notes she used in her last novel, Not Less Than Gods, which she wrote while she was sick, and that was published as she was dying. As far as I can tell, Kage and I were the only people in the world who liked it. A lot of it was panned because the reviewers didn’t get most of the satire, or hated Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax, or both. Anyway, even if you personally disliked the book, I think you can see the bones of a Flashman novel there.”
The Green Man reviewer liked it though he had it with a lump in his throat as Kage had just died as he wrote his review.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(10) LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP. The Reinvented Heart, an anthology on the evolution of partnerships by female and nonbinary authors, is co-edited by Cat Rambo and Jennifer Brozek. The ebook version was released March 10, and a hardcover edition is coming May 31.
What happens when emotions like love and friendship span vast distances — in space, in time, and in the heart?
Science fiction often focuses on future technology and science without considering the ways social structures will change as tech changes — or not. What will relationships look like in a complicated future of clones, uploaded intelligences, artificial brains, or body augmentation? What stories emerge when we acknowledge possibilities of new genders and ways of thinking about them?
The Reinvented Heart presents stories that complicate sex and gender by showing how shifting technology may affect social attitudes and practices, stories that include relationships with communities and social groups, stories that reinvent traditional romance tropes and recast them for the 21st century, and above all, stories that experiment, astonish, and entertain.
Each of its three divisions – Hearts, Hands, Minds – begins with a poem by Jane Yolen. There are stories from Seanan McGuire, AnaMaria Curtis, Lisa Morton, Madeline Pine, Sam Fleming, Felicity Drake, Premee Mohamed, Beth Cato, Naomi Kritzer, Sophie Giroir, Maria Dong, Lyda Morehouse, Devin Miller, Aimee Ogden, Anita Ensal, Fran Wilde, Mercedes M. Yardley, Lauren Ring, Xander Odell, Rosemary Claire Smith, and Justina Robson.
(11) A PAIR TO DRAW TO. Powell Books will present Jeff VanderMeer, author of Hummingbird Salamander, in conversation by Hank Green, author of An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor, on May 11. Begins at 12:00 p.m. Pacific. Register here.
(12) BEWARE! [Item by Mike Kennedy.] These baby (and other) dolls are more the stuff of nightmares than of sweet childhood dreams.
A stretch of beach in Texas gets more than its share of detritus washed in from the Gulf of Mexico due to the arrangement of currents. That’s bad enough, but it seems that quite a few of those pieces of trash turn out to be dolls. Dolls that have undergone extremely creepy transformations while at sea.
Just ask Jace Tunnell, director of the Mission-Aransas Reserve at the University of Texas Marine Institute. “Creepy dolls covered in barnacles or missing their limbs keep washing up on Texas beaches” at USA Today. Photos at the link. No photos here!
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]
(1) SOLDIERING ON THROUGH COVID. ConFusion chair Lithie Dubois has written one of the strongest chair communications I have ever read explaining why the Michigan convention is going ahead. “The State of ConFusion – a Transparent Update from the Conchair”.
My name is Lithie Dubois, and I am the 2022 Conchair. I want to update our community and be as transparent as possible with you. This may be long, but if you are a community member, you will want to read this….
First – are we still holding an in-person event? Absolutely. On January 20, 2022 – myself and my team will begin the task of packing in ConFusion gear to the Sheraton Detroit Novi, and setting up.
The entire ConCom is deeply aware of the current state of this pandemic, and the Omicron Wave. We understand our community’s concerns, and even their disbelief in the fact that we’re holding an in-person ConFusion. We share in the community’s concerns and fears, as well as their hopes.
Truth is, we have a contract with our hotel. That contract does have what is called an Impossibility Clause. The short explanation of that is as follows; Should the government, be it Federal, State or Local impose orders or regulations which would prohibit us, or the Sheraton from being able to have, or provide what is needed for the event – then we’d be released from the contract with no penalties. Unfortunately, as of today (Jan 7th, 2022) no such regulations or orders are in place at any level. Thus the Impossibility Clause does not apply.
…Could we cancel the event outright? Legally, yes. Financially – absolutely not. Make no mistake, ConFusion Community – this con and community does not have $80k, – $90k dollars to pay out the entire contract.
Dubois’ message covers in detail their steps to maximize Covid safety, with changes in program, the con suite, etc.
…As a person who has been involved for many many years running not only fan events, but corporate ones, I can say that I have never had to push my team so hard, so fast, and ask for so many pivots than I have had to do this year. There are countless members of my ConCom that have put in hours of work, while always knowing that they themselves can not attend Rising ConFusion. These individuals helped carry the weight and stress of trying our best to do this the safest way we can, while knowing they’d not even be present to reap the benefits. Then there are those members of the Concom who are able to attend, and have also put in countless hours and brain cells to their departments needs. They’re all STILL working at breakneck speeds. They are each amazing. While the community may not have witnessed all they have faced, I have. Truly our community is blessed because of these individuals. Truly.
She also hopes members of the community will help prop up their finances, and suggests two ways to do so:
1) You could purchase a membership – and then not attend. This option will not provide you anything other then the knowledge that you did your best to ensure ConFusion lives on, by supporting the con with your membership. To be clear, we will not be rolling over memberships. If you elect to pre-register a membership and then not attend, that membership will not roll over to 2023, and expires at the end of the 2022 con.
2) You can directly donate to our cost via our Paypal Donation Link….
(2) GIVE READERS WHAT THEY DON’T KNOW THEY WANTED. Clarkesworld hosts “Working Towards Legacy: A Conversation with Ann & Jeff VanderMeer by Arley Sorg” in the January issue.
Ann VanderMeer: …Jeff and I have different skills and talents so that helps make these collaborations work well. He is so good with the bigger picture and the overall concepts; and his instincts are spot-on most of the time. I am a detail-oriented person, so I deal with a lot of the nitty gritty, such as the permissions process (not the most fun, but necessary).
We also made a determination early on that each of us gets one veto (to drop a story) and one selection that cannot be vetoed. Luckily, we hardly ever have to use the veto in either scenario, as we generally agree on all selections before finalizing the table of contents. The bottom line is we have a great deal of respect for one another. This is a key component to our work together….
(3) SLUSH ANALYSIS. Editor Neil Clarke has updated the “Clarkesworld Submissions Funnel 2017-2021”, which breaks down by genre stories submitted and the acceptance rates in each category. Clarke advises against taking it all too much to heart for several reasons, beginning with: “Acceptance rates are fundamentally misleading. They suppose that all stories are equal in quality and we all know that isn’t true.”
…Over the last five years, the percentage of submissions reaching the second round has dropped significantly and the conversion from second round to acceptance has grown from 8% to nearly 35%. These changes are the likely result of our work with the slush team and how we recruit, monitor, and provide feedback to them….
(4) SPRING IS COMING. SF² Concatenation has just tweeted its second advance post ahead of its full spring edition. It’s an article comparing the novel Dune with both its cinematic adaptations.
Frank Herbert himself liked the film script, stating in Starlog in January 1983 that “Believe me, it is good, about two hours, 10 minutes, maybe.”.
The critics were less kind. Critic Roger Ebert’s comment is fairly typical of most. He said, “This movie is a real mess, an incomprehensible, ugly, unstructured, pointless excursion into the murkier realms of one of the most confusing screenplays of all time.”
SF² Concatenation’s full spring edition is slated for mid-month.
(5) HOLMES. Collector Glen S. Miranker will share his passion for Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects, an exhibit at the Grolier Club in New York from January 12-April 16.
Highlights include leaves from The Hound of the Baskervilles; four short story manuscripts; original artwork by the British and American illustrators who created Sherlock’s iconic look for readers; a wealth of holograph letters from Arthur Conan Doyle to friends, colleagues, and well-wishers; a fascinating cache of pirated editions; the only known salesman’s dummy for the US Hound; an “idea book” of Conan Doyle’s private musings in which he (in)famously penned “Killed Holmes” on his calendar for December 1893; and a handwritten speech—never before displayed—with the author’s explanation for killing Holmes:
“I have been much blamed for doing that gentleman to death but I hold that it was not murder but justifiable homicide in self defence [sic] since if I had not killed him he would certainly have killed me.”
The New York Times helps build anticipation for the exhibit in “A Sherlock Holmes Mystery at the Grolier Club”.
This has the makings of a detective story with hints of history: Why did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sign a pirate edition of “The Sign of the Four,” the second of the four Sherlock Holmes novels? Conan Doyle hated pirate editions. He was as famous for denouncing pirate publishers as they were infamous for grinding out cheap editions — and not paying royalties to authors like him.
Consider the plot possibilities here. Did someone force Conan Doyle to write words above his name that he could not have meant — “Yours cordially”?
Sherlock Holmes and Watson are not available to tackle this one, but Glen S. Miranker is on the case. He acquired the evidence years ago….
(6) RETURN TO THE ROCK. Fraggle Rock has been revived and is going to be on Apple TV+ starting January 21.
(7) TOLKIEN SOCIETY ADDS TO ARCHIVE. The Tolkien Society has purchased a historic collection of Tolkien photos taken by Pamela Chandler in 1961 and 1966.
In 1961, Pamela Chandler was commissioned to take portraits of Professor Tolkien. The formal black and white portraits were taken in his study at 76 Sandfield Road, Oxford.
At that time she also took informal photographs of the Professor and his wife, Edith, in the garden.
In 1966, when visiting the Tolkiens, she took a further series of less formal colour photographs of them both, in the study and in the garden.
…The 64 original negatives (which includes the copyright) were bought by the Tolkien Society at auction earlier this month for £18,000 (auction listing here), and the Society anticipates generating a modest income from these into the future. The Society also purchased at the same event lot 1470, two hand-written letters by Edith Tolkien, and lot 1465, a letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to Pamela Chandler.
The Society anticipates making these photos available to the Tolkien community for research and academic purposes, as well as generating a modest income from photo libraries and similar agreements. The Society shall be including more information about the photographs, as well as Pamela Chandler, on the website in due course. Until then you can support the Society by purchasing a postcard collection of 8 photographs, or by making a donation to the Society.
(8) JANE HAWKINS (1951-2022). Seattle fan Jane Hawkins died January 7, the day after explaining on Facebook why she was going through Washington State’s Death With Dignity procedures to end her own life. Hawkins had survived multiple cancers, but the latest recurrence came with a terminal diagnosis, and last November she stopped treatment and entered hospice care. “I have gotten to the point where enough drugs to quell pain pretty much renders me unconscious. I can’t focus on a book, a few minutes conversation wears me out completely, and snuggling with my lovely cat is just barely pleasant. Bluntly put, I just don’t want to be doing this anymore.”
Hawkins was a member of Seattle’s Vanguard fan group and hosted its monthly meetings for years. She was a founder of Norwescon, co-chaired three Potlatch conventions, and worked on many other cons including WisCon, Corflu, and Noreascon 3. She wrote one novel, Quantum Gate (1996), and was part of the Pacific Northwest Review of Books
Jeanne Gomoll has written a deep-felt and insightful tribute to her friend Jane here on Facebook.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1989 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-three years ago, Agatha Christie’s Poirot starring David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, the Belgian Detective, the most famous creation of that author, premiered on ITV.
Over the thirteen series and seventy episodes which ranged in length between fifty and a hundred minutes, some ten production companies would be involved in creating what we saw. Each episode was indeed adapted from original material by Christie.
David Suchet is the only actor to appear in the entire series though Hugh Fraser as Captain Arthur Hastings and Philip Jackson as Chief Inspector James Japp appeared in the first eight series. Pauline Moran as Miss Felicity Lemon appeared in most of the first eight series. Their absence reflects the stories of the latter series.
Reception for the series was excellent starting with the family who recommended Suchet for the part. Christie’s grandson Mathew Prichard commented: “Personally, I regret very much that she never saw David Suchet.” It even won an Edgar Award for Best Episode in a TV Series for “The Lost Mine”. It holds a near perfect ninety-nine percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(11) COMICS SECTION.
(12) GET YOUR KICKS FROM 1966. “Batman rewatch: We will never see anything like Adam West’s Batman again, alas” mourns Yahoo!
…By the time Adam West published his memoir in 1994, it was conventional to think of him as a bad actor and his Batman as a travesty. Dark Knights on page and screen were moping through BDSM role-play, getting spine-crunched by philosophical ‘roidheads, and carving steel cleats across Superman’s chin. West’s version looked like a toothless punchline in reruns. Which was, of course, the point. “We were farce,” West explains in Back to the Batcave (co-written by Jeff Rovin). “We were a lampoon.” The book reads defensive. Critics were wrong to call his series “camp.” Comic book fans were wrong to say his silliness ruined the character. The creators of the TV show were wrong not to pay him more money. The mega-grossing 1989 film Batman was wrong, because Michael Keaton‘s moody hero was “psychotic,” “addle-headed,” “shallow,” and “unpleasant.” (West wishes the film had starred West.)
No one reading Back to the Batcave had seen Lookwell, the astounding pilot West filmed a few years earlier. He plays a struggling actor semi-famous for a long-gone, three-season TV show: Hmmm. Former fake TV cop Ty Lookwell tries to solve actual crimes, and still chases hot-young-dude casting calls. He should be adrift in the wrong era, a turtlenecked Gloria Swanson washed up on grunge beach — but his baritone assurance warps the world around him. The script came from two young whoevers, Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel, and they realized West’s stentorian I-Am-So-Normal manners had gotten weirder (and funnier) with age….
(13) SIMULATE KINDNESS. The December 19 New York Times Magazine has an interview with New York University philosopher David J. Chalmers about what life would be like if we were living in a simulated work like The Matrix. “Can We Have a Meaningful Life in a Virtual World?”. [May be paywalled.]
“You can try to think of our own physical universe as being a digital universe with bits at the bottom. That’s not pathological: that’s just a way for the world to be. I want to normalize this idea of simulations; I quite like the recent movie Free Guy where the guy discovers he’s a character in a video game, and instead of totally freaking out— –None of this is real!– –he starts a movement. It’s like, OK, we’re real people, too, and our lives matter and our world matters. That’s thinking of the simulated world not as dystopia but as a place where people can live meaningful lives.”
(14) HARD TRUTH. Try to control your disappointment (yeah, right) – Yahoo! covers the big non-discovery: “Moon Cube Mystery: Chinese Rover Finds It’s Just a Rock”.
…Last November, China’s Yutu-2 lunar rover spotted something curious on the far side of the moon. The image was blurry, but it was unmistakable: The object looked like a cube sitting on the moon’s surface. Its shape looked too precise to be just a moon rock — perhaps something left by visiting aliens like the monolith in Arthur C. Clarke’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
China’s space authorities called it the “mystery hut.” Others called it the “moon cube.” Yutu-2 was sent for a closer look, and at the leisurely speed the rover is capable of traveling, it took weeks to get up close.
On Friday, Our Space, a Chinese language science channel affiliated with China National Space Administration, posted an update. There is no monolith, no secret base on the rim of a lunar crater. Close up, it turns out to be just a rock. The seemingly perfect geometric shape was just a trick of angle, light and shadow….
(15) BIRDSTRIKE. [Item by Michael Toman.] I thought you (and Other Filers’n’Friends in the Lone Star State?) would be interested in this story I found on MSN: “Texas Walmart Overrun by Thousands of Birds Branded Sign of ‘Apocalypse’”.
…Shoppers were seemingly trapped in their cars—and presumably the store—when the flock descended onto the supermarket’s parking lot, off highway 80 in Mesquite.
One man, named Denis Mehic, filmed the “terrifying” spectacle from his car, where he sat with his children as birds swarmed the vehicle, with droppings landing on the windshield….
Will DisneyNature be streaming this “True Life Adventure” soon?
P.S. And here’s a Shout-Out dedicated to ol’ Winston Hibler!
“Now there’s something you don’t see in the sky every day, Woodrow!”
“Now what, Gus?”
“Yonder, over there, past those railroad tracks…”
From Larry McMurtry’s uncut first draft of Lonesome Dove?
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Matthias Pilhede hates wizards especially if they have all-seeing orbs!
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]
The title may be longer than today’s Scroll!
(1) MERRILL’S TRICK. The Paris Review reaches deep in its bag for this 1982 interview with James Merrill: “The Art of Poetry No. 31”.
The Ouija board, now. I gather you use a homemade one, but that doesn’t exactly help me to imagine it or its workings. An overturned teacup is your pointer?
Yes. The commercial boards come with a funny see-through planchette on legs. I find them too cramped. Besides, it’s so easy to make your own—just write out the alphabet, and the numbers, and your yes and no (punctuation marks too, if you’re going all out) on a big sheet of cardboard. Or use brown paper—it travels better. On our Grand Tour, whenever we felt lonely in the hotel room, David and I could just unfold our instant company. He puts his right hand lightly on the cup, I put my left, leaving the right free to transcribe, and away we go. We get, oh, five hundred to six hundred words an hour. Better than gasoline.
(2) VANDERMEER’S TREAT. Jeff VanderMeer celebrates the holiday with “A Short List Of Mistakes Starting With ‘Owl’: A Halloween Story”.
He had a lesson plan for the semester, but I had given him a novel featuring owls that I thought particularly fine and that, as his superior, I had made a strong case for to the exclusion of all else….
(3) VERSE FOR TODAY. A Halloween Poetry link courtesy of the Paris Review: “History”.
(4) KEEP UP WITH YOUR HUGO READING. The Hugos There podcast discusses the 2021 Best Novelette finalists with Cora Buhlert, Sarah Elkins, Olav Rokne of the Hugo Book Club Blog, Juan Sanmiguel and Ivor Watkins. The audio is here. The video is here –
(5) JUST BECAUSE IT’S JUNE. Tawana Watson considers “The Poetic Power of Nostalgia” at SPECPO, the official blog of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association.
…A poet I have found that inspired nostalgia and the subsequent emotional reaction within myself is David C. Kopaska-Merkel with his poem “June Lockhart’s Recurring Nightmare” appearing in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. The first thing that grabbed my attention was the name within the poem, June Lockhart. June Lockhart is an actress that appeared in many television shows that I watched while growing up. Seeing just the name, June Lockhart, brought me back to Saturday morning, sitting on the floor in front of the television with my brother, eating Count Chocula cereal watching Lost in Space, one of June Lockhart’s popular television shows. On the title alone, I wanted to dive into the poem to see what the poet, Kopaska-Merkel, was writing about. The second thing that grabbed my attention was the vivid visuals of the scenery within the poem….
(6) ZOOMING WITH BLACKFORD. SPECPO also presents “An Interview with Jenny Blackford”, 2021 Rhysling Award winner, conducted by Lauren Frosto.
LRF: Can you tell me a little about the poem that won the Rhysling for the Long Form Category, “Eleven Exhibits in a Better Natural History Museum, London.”
JB: It came about because of my husband. My other muse, Felix [Jenny’s cat], is not sufficient as a muse, though he is my “mews”. A couple of years back, my husband Russell and I were in London on our way to the World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin, and our activity for the day was visiting the Natural History Museum, London, which is a wonder of the world. Because it was a public holiday, we were standing in the sun in a line that just snaked around and around going nowhere for hours and we started talking about what we were going to see when we finally got inside. My husband said something like, well there might be an emerald the size of a whale, and it went from there. Since he threw up some possibilities and I elaborated, he gets 10% of my sales for this. You’ve got to reward your muse.
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
2000 – Twenty-one years ago, Gen¹³ premiered. If you’re scratching your head for not remembering this film, relax as it wasn’t one of the major films that year. It was based on the Gen¹³ series that was published by WildStorm Productions, a subsidiary of DC Comics. WildStorm Productions was founded by Jim Lee, currently the Publisher and Chief Creative Officer of DC Comics.
It was directed by Kevin Altieri, and produced by Jim Lee, Karen Kolus and John Nee. The screenplay by Kevin Altieri and Karen Kolus from a story by Jim Lee, Brandon Choi and J. Scott Campbell, the latter better known for his own Danger Girl series. The Gen¹³ series was by the trio who wrote the story.
Voice cast was Alicia Witt, John de Lancie, E.G. Daily, Flea, Cloris Leachman, Lauren Lane and Mark Hamill.
It apparently is not available in the United States because The Mouse considers it an advertisement for DC Comics and won’t release it here. It is available in Europe. That being said, audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rather excellent eighty four percent rating.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
(10) PRESENT AT THE CREATION. Pioneering women horror artists receive their due in the Saturday Evening Post’s “The Women Who Built the Horror Genre”.
…[Margaret] Brundage is just one of a number of women creators who helped develop the horror genre. June Tarpé Mills was another pioneer, but she had to drop her first name when signing her work in order to create a masculine sounding pen name. Best known for creating the early female action hero Miss Fury (who some argue is the first female superhero), she also created “The Purple Zombie,” one of the earliest ongoing horror characters in comics. Mills’s horror resume also includes “The Vampire” and “The Ivy Menace,” two horror tales that appeared during the late 1930s, well before horror comics gained widespread popularity. “The Vampire” even included a twist ending—an uncommon device for comics at the time, but which became a staple of EC horror comics by the 1950s and in cinema decades later….
(11) THE MEANING OF IT ALL. [Item by Joel Zakem.] The Scroll has run a few pieces on Zukerberg’s Meta, so you might be interested that in Hebrew, Meta can apparently be translated as “she is dead.” The Forward elaborates in “Meta means ‘is dead’ in Hebrew. Discuss.”
…On Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the new name for Facebook to mark its transition to what he calls “the metaverse.” The name, which is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Meta, doesn’t translate well. Unless that’s the point.
While the word, now applied to such narratively self-aware works as “Adaptation” and “Deadpool,” derives from the Greek prefix meaning “after” or beyond,” and indicates something that transcends the word it latches onto (think metaphysics), in Hebrew the word “Meta” is the feminine form of “is dead.” Don’t just take my word for it!…
(12) THE FIRST THING WE SHOULD SAY. [Item by JeffWarner.] When Scotty shouted “There Be Whales” this became genre: “Are We on the Verge of Chatting with Whales?” in Hakai Magazine. (“Dolphins as practice for First Contact” is my go-to panel topic.) We should probably apologize…
“I don’t know much about whales. I have never seen a whale in my life,” says Michael Bronstein. The Israeli computer scientist, teaching at Imperial College London, England, might not seem the ideal candidate for a project involving the communication of sperm whales. But his skills as an expert in machine learning could be key to an ambitious endeavor that officially started in March 2020: an interdisciplinary group of scientists wants to use artificial intelligence (AI) to decode the language of these marine mammals. If Project CETI (for Cetacean Translation Initiative) succeeds, it would be the first time that we actually understand what animals are chatting about—and maybe we could even have a conversation with them….
(13) WHAT MUSIC THEY MAKE. In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri has suggestions for your Halloween music playlist. “The 50 best Halloween songs for your party playlist”. There’s a reason this is on the bottom of her list:
50. “The Wobblin’ Goblin,” by Rosemary Clooney: I am only sorry that by virtue of mentioning this song for this list, I may have made people aware of this song who previously weren’t. Your life may be going well; it may be going poorly; one thing I will guarantee is that hearing “The Wobblin’ Goblin” will make it worse. I hesitate to throw around phrases like “a crime against all reason and civilization,” but this song has no redeeming characteristics whatsoever yet still immediately gets stuck in your head. The universe it sets up makes no sense, one in which goblins are riding around on broomsticks but also responsive to air-traffic control, and buying an airplane is a logical solution to having a broken broom. Why wouldn’t the goblin just buy another broom that wasn’t broken? Was this sponsored by Big Air Travel?
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Joel Zakem, JeffWarner, Cora Buhlert, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]
(1) WILD TALLAHASSEE. At the link, access six months of Jeff VanderMeer’s “Wild Tallahassee” urban wilderness columns for the Tallahassee Democrat. VanderMeer says, “I also hope that if you like my rewilding posts on twitter (hashtag #VanderWild) or these columns that you’ll consider buying one of my novels from Midtown Reader.”
The first column in the list is: “Adventure begins with a raccoon at the door”.
I knew we’d bought the right house in Tallahassee when, two years ago, a raccoon rang our doorbell at four in the morning. Granted, the doorbell glows blue at night and, for some reason, is at waist height. But, still, this seemed like something that belonged in the Guinness Book of World Records for urban wildlife.
Dear reader, I hope you understand that we did not answer the door and it was only from the muddy pawprints we saw when we ventured out at a more reasonable hour…that we understood who had visited us….
(2) SCIENCE FICTION STATE OF MIND. “The Realism of Our Times: Kim Stanley Robinson on How Science Fiction Works” is an interview conducted by John Plotz for Public Books last September.
John Plotz (JP): You have said that science fiction is the realism of our times. How do people hear that statement today? Do they just hear the word COVID and automatically start thinking about dystopia?
Kim Stanley Robinson (KSR): People sometimes think that science fiction is about predicting the future, but that isn’t true. Since predicting the future is impossible, that would be a high bar for science fiction to have to get over. It would always be failing. And in that sense it always is failing. But science fiction is more of a modeling exercise, or a way of thinking.
Another thing I’ve been saying for a long time is something slightly different: We’re in a science fiction novel now, which we are all cowriting together. What do I mean? That we’re all science fiction writers because of a mental habit everybody has that has nothing to do with the genre. Instead, it has to do with planning and decision making, and how people feel about their life projects. For example, you have hopes and then you plan to fulfill them by doing things in the present: that’s utopian thinking. Meanwhile, you have middle-of-the-night fears that everything is falling apart, that it’s not going to work. And that’s dystopian thinking.
So there’s nothing special going on in science fiction thinking. It’s something that we’re all doing all the time.
And world civilization right now is teetering on the brink: it could go well, but it also could go badly. That’s a felt reality for everybody. So in that sense also, science fiction is the realism of our time. Utopia and dystopia are both possible, and both staring us in the face.
(3) THE TRANSOM IS OPEN. The Dark Magazine is accepting submissions. Do you have what editors Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Michael Kelly, and Sean Wallace are looking for?
(4) DUNE TRAILER. Warner Bros. has dropped the main trailer for Dune, set for an October 22 release. Here’s the story they’re telling:
A mythic and emotionally charged hero’s journey, “Dune” tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence—a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential—only those who can conquer their fear will survive.
(5) PATTEN IN HUMBLE BUNDLE. The late Fred Patten’s essay collection Watching Anime, Reading Manga is part of Humble Bundle’s new Japanese Culture bundle: Humble Book Bundle: Japanese Culture & Language by Stone Bridge Press. The entire 26-item bundle includes four books about anime and manga. Pay at least $18 to get all of them, pay less to get fewer items, or pay extra to give more to publishers, Humble, and charity.
Discover the rich history and culture of Japan!
There are thousands of years of rich history and culture to be found in Japan, and Stone Bridge Press wants to help you discover plenty of it with books like Crazy for Kanji: A Student’s Guide to the Wonderful World of Japanese Characters, Family Crests of Japan, and Japaneseness: A Guide to Values and Virtues. Plus, your purchase helps support the Book Industry Charitable Foundation and a charity of your choice!
(6) 2021 SEIUN AWARDS. Locus Online’s 2021 Seiun Awards post has translations into English of all the titles up for Best Japanese Novel and Best Japanese Story, as well as the correct English titles of the works nominated for Best Translated Novel and Best Translated Story (i.e. of works into the Japanese language.) And I don’t! So hie thee hence.
The award’s own official website also lists the Multimedia, Comic, Artist, Non-Fiction, and “Free” (other) categories winners.
The awards will be presented at SF60, the 60th Japan SF Convention, scheduled for August 21-22, 2021 in Takamatsu city, Kagawa prefecture.
(7) THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY. The Astounding Analog Companion conducted a “Q&A with Rosemary Claire Smith”.
AE: How much or little do current events impact your writing?
RCS: Looking back, it strikes me that “The Next Frontier” was born of a desire to live in a world with greater cooperation between nations on important projects requiring global efforts. I took international cooperation much more for granted in the 1990s and 2000s than I do now.
(8) MEMORIES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the July 17 Financial Times, Henry Mance interviews Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber and his wife, Lady Madeleine Lloyd Webber.
‘Do we mention the other lowest of the low moments?’ says Madeleine. “The Cats film. I’ve never seen Andrew so upset.’ He had sold the rights and was sidelined. ‘I’ve never known anything so ghastly. It was disgraceful, the whole process,” he (Andrew Lloyd Webber) says. ‘I wrote a letter to the head of Universal Pictures, Donna Langley, which I didn’t even get (a response to) and I said, ‘this will be a car crash beyond belief if you don’t listen to me.’
He blames the director Tom Hooper. ‘You’ve got to have somebody who understands the rhythm of music…I had right of approval over some of the musical elements. But they really rode roughshod over everything.’ Things were so bad that he had to console himself by buying a Havanese puppy.
(9) LUCKY SEVEN. Cora Buhlert was interviewed by Stars End, a podcast about the works of Isaac Asimov in general and Foundation in particular: Episode 7 – Stars End: A Foundation Podcast.
…Cora is an amazingly prolific and eclectic writer. So prolific that Jon joked about her owning “Asimov’s Typewriter” and we suddenly had a new imaginary episode of Warehouse 13 in our heads. So eclectic that no matter your tastes there’s a good chance that she’s written something that you’d enjoy. If you like stories about galactic empires like Foundation, she’s written two full series you might like, In Love and War and Shattered Empire. She’s also a two-time Hugo Finalist for Best Fan Writer.
(10) MARS IN CULTURE. “Exploring the Red Planet through History and Culture” with Nick Smith (past President of LASFS) is hosted by the Pasadena Museum of History. The free virtual presentation* is available for viewing Thursday, July 22 through Sunday, July 25.
The planet Mars has long been connected to humankind through religions, literature, and science. Join Nick Smith, guest curator of PMH’s 2018 exhibition Dreaming the Universe, to explore our fascination with Earth’s neighboring planet, and discover some of the many ways Mars is part of our culture.
*Pre-recorded presentation from Spring ArtNight 2021.
(11) HAPPY BIRTHDAY ARNIE KATZ. Alan White posted a photo on Facebook of his wife, DeDee, presenting Arnie Katz, 76, with a fanboy cake.
(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(14) COMICS SECTION.
(15) MORE MCU ON DISNEY+. Slashfilm talks about “Ms. Marvel and Hawkeye Premiere Set for This Year on Disney+”.
Marvel’s Vice President of film production, Victoria Alonso, recently gave us the news of the studio’s grand ambitions for expanding into the world of animation…and she’s not stopping there….
According to Variety, Alonso confirmed that both Hawkeye and Ms. Marvel will be appearing on Disney+ for subscribers before the year is out….
Hawkeye sees the return of Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton. Similar to Black Widow, however, a younger star in Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop will also be co-starring and appears set to take the reins from the much more established bow-wielding Avenger. And don’t forget, Florence Pugh’s Yelena is also set as a recurring character in the series, making the connections between the two productions even more apparent.
Ms. Marvel, meanwhile, will serve as the debut for Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) and strengthen ties between Disney+ and the Captain Marvel movies. Brie Larson is sure to be a mainstay in the MCU for years and years to come, of course, so this will likely resemble some Miles Morales and Peter Parker mentor/mentee storylines rather than a straightforward passing of the torch.
(16) REVIVING SWORD & SORCERY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Brian Murphy, who’s written a non-fiction book about sword and sorcery, which was on my Hugo ballot this year and which won the Robert E. Howard Foundation Award, muses about what sword and sorcery needs to experience a revival: “What sword-and-sorcery needs” at The Silver Key.
3. A cohesive community, perhaps organized around a fanzine. Guys like Jason Ray Carney are building this right now, with the likes of Whetstone, an amateur magazine that also has a Discord group. I belong to several good Facebook groups, and there are some reasonably well-trafficked Reddit groups and the like. You’ve got the Swords of REH Proboards and a few other hangouts for the diehards. But it all feels very disparate. Sword-and-sorcery lacks a common gathering space and watering hole, like Amra used to serve. Leo Grin’s now defunct Cimmerian journal is the type of publication I’m thinking of.
(17) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 36 of the Octothorpe podcast is now available, titled: “Worldcon Fire Service”.
We answer two letters of comment before we do a deep dive into convention communications. We plug Fantasy Book Swap and chat about books we loved as kids before wrapping up.
Here’s a neat patch to go with it.
(18) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter witness this item trip up a contestant on tonight’s Jeopardy!
Final Jeopardy: category: 1970s Movie Scenes
Answer: Dan O’Bannon based a scene in the film on his own Crohn’s Disease, which felt like things inside him fighting to get out.
Wrong question: What is ‘The Exorcist”?
Right question: What is “Alien”?
(19) TAKING THE MICKEY. “The National Labor Relations Board grants a reprieve to inflatable rats” reports the New York Times.
On Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that unions can position large synthetic props like rats, often used to communicate displeasure over employment practices, near a work site even when the targeted company is not directly involved in a labor dispute.
While picketing companies that deal with employers involved in labor disputes — known as a secondary boycott — is illegal under labor law, the board ruled that the use of oversized rats, which are typically portrayed as ominous creatures with red eyes and fangs, is not a picket but a permissible effort to persuade bystanders.
Union officials had stationed the rat in question, a 12-foot-tall specimen, close to the entrance of a trade show in Elkhart, Ind., in 2018, along with two banners. One banner accused a company showcasing products there, Lippert Components, of “harboring rat contractors” — that is, doing business with contractors that do not use union labor.
Lippert argued that the rat’s use was illegal coercion because the creature was menacing and was intended to discourage people from entering the trade show. But the board found that the rat was a protected form of expression.
“Courts have consistently deemed banners and inflatable rats to fall within the realm of protected speech, rather than that of intimidation and the like,” the ruling said.
The rise of the rodents, often known as “Scabby the Rat,” dates to the early 1990s, when an Illinois-based company began manufacturing them for local unions intent on drawing attention to what they considered suspect practices, such as using nonunion labor. The company later began making other inflatable totems, like fat cats and greedy pigs, for the same purpose….
(20) DULCET TONES. Add this to your font of trivia knowledge: “Mark Hamill says he’s secretly been in every Star Wars movie since 2015” at Yahoo!
Everybody knows that Mark Hamill is in Star Wars, unless you only know him from the credits of Batman: The Animated Series and have just had your mind blown, but did you know that he’s also in a lot of Star Wars movies? Like, almost all of them? Okay, yeah, you probably knew that as well, but we’re not talking about Luke Skywalker. We’re talking about an untold number of droids and aliens and other puppets who shared the distinct pleasure of having Mark Hamill’s voice come out of their mouth holes….
(21) CHAIR PAIR. In Episode 57 of the Two Chairs Talking podcast, “From a skewed perspective”, just out, David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss discuss the nominees for Best Novella at this year’s Hugo Awards, then talk about some more recent reading.
(22) POOCH UNSCREWED. Air & Space says “New Evidence Shows That Gus Grissom Did Not Accidentally Sink His Own Spacecraft 60 Years Ago”. This is a brand new article, although I saw one pundit say this info has been out for years. Be that as it may – it is news to me!
It’s one of the great mysteries of the early space age. How did Mercury astronaut Gus Grissom, after a near-perfect flight on just the second U.S. space mission, inadvertently “blow” the escape hatch prematurely on his Liberty Bell 7 capsule, causing it to fill with water and sink in the Atlantic? In fact, did Grissom blow the hatch? Or was some technical glitch to blame?
Grissom himself insisted he hadn’t accidentally triggered the explosive bolts designed to open the hatch during his ocean recovery. His NASA colleagues, by and large, believed him. Years later, Apollo flight director Gene Kranz told historians Francis French and Colin Burgess, “If Gus says he didn’t do it, he didn’t do it.”…
(23) OUT ON A LIMB. Do you know Lego has come out with a LEGO Bonsai Tree and a Lego flower arrangement for Lego lovers who aren’t good at dealing with plants? But they better be good at assembling Legos – this item has 878 pieces!
(24) FROM PITCH MEETING. This video from Ryan George has him playing Chim Ontario, a seven-time Oscar winner who specializes in crotch composition because “you have to specialize in something.” His eighteen-hour days don’t leave him time for relationships or children, but he sold one of his Oscars on eBay and got a nice sleeping bag! — “THE Movie Special Effects Tutorial | Pro Tips by Pitch Meeting”.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, Bruce D. Arthurs, David K.M. Klaus, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jamoche.]