(1) 328305 JACKMCDEVITT. SF writer Jack McDevitt has been honored with an asteroid. Here’s the chart –
(2) HUMAN COST IGNORED. Will Slocombe protests that “Militaries Plunder Science Fiction for Technology Ideas, But Turn a Blind Eye to the Genre’s Social Commentary” at Activist Post.
One of the most interesting tools for thinking about future defence technology isn’t big data forecasting and the use of synthetic training environments, but narrative and imagination. And we get this from science fiction.
That might sound fanciful, but many militaries are already engaging with the genre. The US military and the French army use science fiction writers to generate future threat scenarios. The Australian Defence College advocates for the reading of science fiction and, in Germany, Project Cassandra uses novels to predict the world’s next conflict. The Sigma Forum, a science fiction think tank, has been offering forecasting services to US officials for years.
But while science fiction provides military planners with a tantalising glimpse of future weaponry, from exoskeletons to mind-machine interfaces, the genre is always about more than flashy new gadgets. It’s about anticipating the unforeseen ways in which these technologies could affect humans and society – and this extra context is often overlooked by the officials deciding which technologies to invest in for future conflicts….
(3) GET READY FOR BLUECON. [Item by Florrie Frederiksen.] BlueCon, the 48th French national science-fiction convention, takes place August 19-22. The in-person event will be held on the international campus of the Valbonne University near Nice and the French Riviera. Ugo Bellagamba, president of this project, waxed poetical in his introduction: “Blue is the primary color of imagination, which may be painted in shades of azure, deep blue, or the morning blue which lightens and opens, the color of the skies, of the sea, which both invite to explore the realms beyond the horizon… ”
It is still possible to join the 105 attendees already committed to make this convention a success; panels and meetings and many tables are already being readied. Although the rooms in the center are already filled, the website lists other possibilities for accommodation nearby. Nice is easily reached by train and there is a good sized airport not far away.
(Warnings: this convention does not plan to have virtual elements. All attendees must make sure to have the compulsory valid “passe sanitaire” i.e. QR code proof of full vaccination or at least a negative PCR test dated after August 17. Even then, both vaccinated or non vaccinated people should be wearing masks and some measures of distance and hygiene will be necessary).
The program of the convention has been posted here.
(4) GHOSTBUSTERS AFTERLIFE TRAILER. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is coming to theaters in November.
In Ghostbusters: Afterlife, when a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.
(5) TERRIFICON LINEUP. Joe Stuber interviews David Gerrold for his Comic Book Central podcast: “David Gerrold on Star Trek & Land of the Lost!” Gerrold is on his way to be a guest at Terrificon.
TerrifiCon Week continues with legendary Star Trek writer and creator of Land of the Lost, David Gerrold! David drops by to talk about the origin of his fascination with sci-fi, crafting the most memorable episode of Trek, tackling tales of Tarzan and Superboy, and developing the complex mythology for the 70s Saturday morning sensation, Land of the Lost!
(6) DOOMSDAY BOOKS. James Davis Nicoll homes in on the trouble of that green and ancient land at Tor.com: “Five Speculative Visions of Britain in Chaos”.
The Star Fraction by Ken MacLeod (1995)
Rescued by US/UN intervention from the perils of the United Republic’s radical democracy, Britain is home to a patchwork of micro-states under the umbrella of the restored Hanoverian monarchy. Within sensible limits, each micro-state is free to govern itself as it sees fit, with heavily armed, remotely piloted war robots providing gentle rebukes should anyone overstep the US/UN guidelines.
Although the peace process can be trying from the perspective of the common person in the street, the system provides something the US/UN treasures: stability. However, stability is a chimera. An unseen enemy has been waiting patiently to bring the US/UN regime down. Now, thanks to a mercenary, a fundamentalist teen, and a scientist, the revolution has come.
(7) HAMIT MEDICAL UPDATE. Longtime File 770 contributor Francis Hamit has had two surgeries this week to deal with spinal stenosis. His partner Leigh Strother-Vien reports:
Francis had his first surgery on Friday, the 23rd, and his second yesterday, the 26th. Everything went well; in fact, they decided Friday’s went so well that they combined the second and the planned third surgeries together yesterday, fixing his spine down to the T2. He is in the ICU for at least one more day just to be extra careful, and he’s getting plenty of pain management. He said to let you know that it’s ok to put something in File 770 if you wish.
Before the surgeries Hamit sent me a note which ended:
…So I am going to be out of action and Leigh will be taking care of me. … I will be “just the writer” for some time to come. Fortunately that’s part of my therapy. So I’m not going anywhere. Just completed that long novel and my memoir and have other work in progress. (Also need a literary agent).
…Thoughts, prayers, good wishes etc are welcome of course. Buying, reading and reviewing my books and stories, (Amazon.com) or dramatic work (Stageplays.com) is also very helpful since it helps out with expenses. No time left for a fundraiser and too much else to do….
(8) A TRIBUTE TO ANDERSSON. The death of horror writer C. Dean Andersson a.k.a. Asa Drake was reported here the other day. Here is a tribute by his friend Christopher Fulbright: “Rest in Peace Dean Andersson”.
… Looking through old pictures is a little bittersweet. We had such great times together, but you never think about having to say goodbye for the last time. You seldom know what conversation will be your last. If I had to pick a last conversation, the one we had was as close to perfect as one might get—we talked about everything from the meaning of life to God himself. We talked a lot about God. I brought him a book of Robert E. Howard’s Kull stories and a Bible, which I promised had heroes and heroines, swords and sorceresses, dragons, pagan gods, epic battles, and the living dead. He was so grateful, and it was such a good talk. I left Dean’s hospital room a week and a half ago with a promise that I would bring lunch by his house and hang out in a couple of weeks, after he’d had a chance to get settled in again at home. Well … I know I’ll see him again someday, it’s just going to be a longer wait. In the meantime, the world is a bit poorer without him. He would no doubt have some subtle quip to make at that, but I insist it’s true….
(9) LESNIAK OBIT. Jim Lesniak of Voodoo Comics died over the weekend while manning his dealers table at the Gem City Comic Con in Dayton, OH according to numerous reports. No more details are known at this writing.
(10) HENRI VERNES (1918-2021). [Item by Florrie Frederiksen:] Henri Vernes (pen-name of Belgian author Charles-Henri-Jean Dewisme, born in 1918) passed away on July 25 at the age of 102.
He is best remembered for the over 200 French language novels of action, fantasy and science-fiction revolving around the BOB MORANE character, that he published continuously since 1953. Bob Morane also appeared in a 1965 television series, a 1996 animated movie, and a number of comics albums with art by well-known French artists.
The character has been made famous by a line in the 1982 song L’Aventurier by French rock group Indochine (“Et soudain surgit face au vent le vrai héros de tous les temps, Bob Morane contre tout chacal, l’aventurier contre tout guerrier.” Tranlsation: “And suddenly, against the wind appeared the real all time hero: Bob Morane fighting any jackal, the adventurer fighting all warriors…”)
A French science-fiction award has been named for Bob Morane (see here).
(11) MEMORY LANE.
- July 27, 2001 – Twenty years ago, the Planet of the Apes reboot premiered. Directed by Tim Burton and produced by Richard D. Zanuck, it was the sixth film in the Planet of the Apes franchise, very loosely adapted from Pierre Boulle’s novel and the 1968 film version. The screenplay was by William Broyles Jr., Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal. The primary cast was Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Kris Kristofferson, Estella Warren and Paul Giamatti. The critics mostly liked it though Ebert noted the original was much better, and it did very well at the box office ranking among the top ten films of the year. Currently at Rotten Tomatoes, audience reviewers really don’t like it and give it a twenty-seven percent rating.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born July 27, 1874 — Frank Shannon. He’s best remembered now as the scientist Dr. Alexis Zarkov in the three Flash Gordon serials starring Buster Crabbe between 1936 and 1940. The serials themselves were Flash Gordon, Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars and Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe. He does show in the Forties Batman serial as Dr. Hayden and The Phantom serial of the era as Professor Davidson. (Died 1959.)
- Born July 27, 1938 — Pierre Christin, 83. French comics creator and writer. In the mid Sixties, collaborated with Jean-Claude Mézières to create the science-fiction series Valérian and Laureline for Pilote. Time Jam: Valerian & Laureline, a French animated series was released, and a feature film directed by Luc Besson, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, was released as well. A compilation of the Valerian & Laureline series is on YouTube here.
- Born July 27, 1938 — Gary Gygax. Game designer and author best known for co-creating Dungeons & Dragons with Dave Arneson. In addition to the almost beyond counting gaming modules he wrote, he wrote the Greyhawk Adventure series and the Dangerous Journeys novels, none of which is currently in print. I’ll admit that I’ve not read any of the many novels listed at ISFDB, so I’ve no idea how he is as a genre writer.(Died 2008.)
- Born July 27, 1939 — Sydney J. van Scyoc, 82. Her first published story was “Shatter the Wall” in Galaxy in 1962. She continued to write short stories throughout the Sixties and Seventies, and published Saltflower, her first novel in the early Seventies. Assignment Nor’Dyren is one of her better novels. Over the next twenty years, she published a dozen novels and likewise number of short stories.
- Born July 27, 1940 — Gary Kurtz. Producer whose genre credits include Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Crystal and Return to Oz. He did a late Eighties SF film Slipstream, which reunited him with Mark Hamill. He was the original producer on The Spirit. He was executive producer on Chandler, a PI film which isn’t genre adjacent but worth noting here. (Died 2018.)
- Born July 27, 1949 — Robert Rankin, 72. Writer of what I’d call serious comic genre fiction. Best book by him? I’d single out The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse as the best work he ever did bar none. Hell, even the name is absolutely frelling great.
- Born July 27, 1968 — Farah Mendlesohn, 53. She’s an historian and prolific writer on genre literature, and an active fan. Best works by her? I really like her newest work on Heinlein, The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein, whichwon a BSFA. Her Diana Wynne Jones: Children’s Literature and the Fantastic Tradition is also a fascinating read. And I highly recommend her Rhetorics of Fantasy as we don’t get many good theoretical looks at fantasy. Her only Hugo to date was at Interaction for The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction. She’s also garnered a BFA for Children’s Fantasy Literature: An Introduction (shared with co-writer Michael Levy) which also got a Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Myth and Fantasy, and she a Karl Edward Wagner Award winner as well.
- Born July 27, 1973 — Cassandra Clare, 48. I read at least the first three or four volumes of her Mortal Instruments series which I see means I’ve almost completed it. Damn good series. Anyone read her Magnus Bane series? Interestingly she’s been nominated for myriad Goodreads Choice Awards and won two for City of Fallen Angels and City of Heavenly Fire.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
- Frank and Ernest meet a different kind of baseball player.
- The Argyle Sweater delivers a couple of silly jokes from prehistory.
- Half Full is tasteless, but it does involve three supeheroes.
(14) 30 YEARS IN THE MAKING. Here’s a teaser trailer for Mad God, a feature film directed by Phil Tippett, the world’s pre-eminent stop motion animator. Content Warning: Graphic body horror. Tippett’s career credits include Star Wars, RoboCop, and Jurassic Park.
(15) IT’S FROM AN OLD FAMILIAR SCORE. Vintage News shares some “Twisty Turny Facts About The Classic TV Series ‘The Twilight Zone’”.
Check out some mind-boggling behind-the-scenes facts, as we take you on a trip into Serling’s singularly strange universe…
It has a connection to Marty McFly
Does this building look familiar? As Screen Rant points out, the setting was part of The Twilight Zone’s first ever episode: “Where Is Everybody?”
The story concerns a man who appears to be alone in the world. Yet Courthouse Square, part of Universal Studios, has been anything but deserted over the years.
Lightning bolts and streaks of fire turned the area into an exit route for time travelers Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) in Back To The Future (1985)….
(16) FIELDS OF DREAMS. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Since we just discussed Lord Dunsany, the fantasy author, here is a profile of his descendant Randal Plunkett, the current Lord Dunsany, who is an eco hippy organic farmer and film maker. His first movie The Green Sea even appears to be genre: “’There have been many death threats, but I’ll never stop’ – Randal Plunkett, Baron of Dunsany, on rewilding his family estate” in The Independent.
… “After attempting a normal agricultural approach, I stepped back and saw a landscape bleak and exhausted from overgrazing and over-farming,” he explains. “Chemicals injected into the soil and no pause for regeneration or recovery. How does land remain healthy when the cycle of life is ignored?”
The 21st Baron of Dunsany made a radical decision. He removed all grazing animals from the property, gearing towards an overall holistic focus on crops. Pesticides were banned, fertilisers were abandoned and invasive weeds like ragwort and thistle were tackled by hand. “My mum looked at me as if I’d joined a cult.”
Steered by a passionate new advocacy for veganism, Randal — who tradition dictates should be addressed as Lord Dunsany — came upon the concept of ‘rewilding’ seven years ago, a progressive approach to conservation allowing the environment to take care of itself and return to a native natural state. Rather than an experimental litmus test in a quiet corner of the property, he sacrificed 750 acres of a highly profitable 1,700-acre pasture in an unorthodox gamble.
“I wanted to return the land to the wild, not just preserve what little natural habitat remained. So we locked up a huge part of the estate and it was militant. No footfall most of the year, no paths or interference. That’s not to say we abandoned the land, we’re guardians keeping a distant, watchful eye. And the results speak for themselves.”…
(17) FLORIDA MAN. “Florida man washes ashore after trying to ‘walk’ to New York in bubble device” reports The Guardian.
A Florida man startled beachgoers when he washed ashore inside a hybrid bubble-running wheel device.
The man, identified by a local news channel as Reza Baluchi, washed ashore in Flagler county on the east coast of Florida on Saturday.
“The occupant advised he left the St Augustine area yesterday to head to New York,” the sheriff’s office said, “but came across some complications that brought him back to shore”.
…The Sun-Sentinel reported that Baluchi was forced to turn back after he discovered that some of his safety and navigation equipment had been stolen. The equipment has been recovered, and Baluchi plans to resume his journey once the weather improves, the newspaper said.
(18) THE LATEST MEMES OF 2003. In Honest Trailers: Space Jam: A New Legacy, on YouTube, teh Screen Junkies say this movie turns LeBron James into “a joyless grunt who plays boring basketball” and Bugs Bunny into “off-brand Bugs Bunny.”
[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, N., Steve H Silver, Cora Buhlert, Florrie Frederiksen, David K.M. Klaus, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]