(1) MARS WANTS A REMATCH. BBC’s The War of the Worlds premiered September 29.
This is the original alien invasion story. Staring Eleanor Tomlinson, Rafe Spall and Robert Carlyle, this tense and thrilling drama follows a young couple’s race for survival against escalating terror of an alien enemy beyond their comprehension. The War of the Worlds is a major adaptation by Peter Harness of H.G. Wells’ classic sci-fi title. This major new three-part drama is produced by Mammoth Screen for BBC One, and directed by award-winning director Craig Viveiros Set in Edwardian England, this new adaptation of H.G. Wells’ seminal tale – the first alien invasion story in literature – follows George (played by Rafe Spall) and his partner Amy (Eleanor Tomlinson) as they attempt to defy society and start a life together. Rupert Graves is Frederick, George’s elder brother, and Robert Carlyle plays Ogilvy, an astronomer and scientist. The War of the Worlds tells their story as they face the escalating terror of an alien invasion, fighting for their lives against an enemy beyond their comprehension.
(2) CRAFTS FOR CONS. Constanze Hofmann, who was head of display at WorldCon 77 and organized the Raksura Colony Tree project, muses about organizing community art and crafts project for future WorldCons in “What next?”
Worldcon has been over for more than a month now. I’ve had time to reflect on the things that we did in the run-up to Dublin 2019, and am still marveling at everything that happened at the convention itself. The Raksura Colony Tree turned out to be much better than I had imagined, and brought together a community of crafters. As the convention neared its end, I talked with a lot of people inside that community as well as others who enjoyed what we did. We discussed what it is that makes craft opportunities so important at a huge event like a Worldcon. There’s many good reasons I’ll discuss in a future post, but one thing we were all agreeing on is that we want projects like this to be part of future Worldcons as well.
(3) FIRST SNOWMAN OF THE FALL. The Hollywood Reporter declares “Box Office: ‘Abominable’ Scales the Chart With $21M”.
Marking the first studio animated pic of the fall season, DreamWorks Animation’s Abominable easily scaled the box office chart over the weekend with a winning $20.9 million from 4,242 theaters.
Abominable is from filmmaker Jill Culton, the first woman to be credited as the lead director and writer of an animated Hollywood studio pic (Todd Wilderman is credited as a co-director). It’s also the first co-production between DWA and China’s Pearl Studios. The movie is set to open Tuesday in China.
(4) UNBIND THE HANDS OF THE CLOCK. Annalee Newitz’ “Yes, We’re in the Wrong Timeline” at Slate tells “How time-travel stories explain our uncanny era.”
Sometimes you find a profound political statement in the middle of a goofy adventure story. In Season 2 of the superhero show DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, our team of superpowered misfits use their badass time ship to correct historical “aberrations” during the Civil War. Jax, one of the team’s black characters, is shocked when he meets slaves for the first time. Not because of how horribly they are treated—he already knew about that—but because they still have so much hope for the future, even when they’ve been beaten and tied up for disobedience.
Jax is there to prevent a malicious time-traveler from changing the course of the war, but he decides to make his own unauthorized changes. Untying the slaves so they can escape, he realizes he’s creating new potential historical aberrations. But Jax welcomes this possibility. “Slavery is the aberration,” he says. With that one line, he explains both the lure of time-travel fiction and the reason why it feels so vital during periods of dramatic political instability like our own….
(5) GENDER INCLUSIVE DOLLS. “Mattel Launches Gender Inclusive Doll Line Inviting All Kids to Play” — Business Wire has the story.
“Toys are a reflection of culture and as the world continues to celebrate the positive impact of inclusivity, we felt it was time to create a doll line free of labels,” said Kim Culmone, Senior Vice President of Mattel Fashion Doll Design. “Through research, we heard that kids don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms. This line allows all kids to express themselves freely which is why it resonates so strongly with them. We’re hopeful Creatable World will encourage people to think more broadly about how all kids can benefit from doll play.”
Mattel worked alongside a dedicated team of experts, parents, physicians and most importantly, kids, to create this one-of-a-kind play experience.
The Creatable World doll line consists of six different doll kits that are available in a variety of skin tones. Each kit includes one doll, two hairstyle options and endless styling possibilities.
(6) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
In 2012, British artist and engineer David Cramner turned a taxidermied badger into a working theremin, a musical instrument patented in the 1920s that makes sounds by waving one’s hand between two metal antennas. The result was the Badgermin, which was sold and used in a recording studio.
Source: Nervous Squirrel
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- September 30, 1959 — Men Into Space premiered on television.
- September 30, 1960 – The Flintstones made its television debut.
- September 30, 1965 — Thunderbirds first aired in the U.K. Created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, this Supermarionation based series ran for thirty episodes over two years before canceled. Gerry Anderson will later be responsible for Space: 1999.
- September 30, 1983 — Manimal debuted. In case you’ve forgotten, the show centered on Dr. Chase, a shapeshifter who can turn himself into any animal he chooses. It lasted eight episodes.
- September 30, 2005 — Serenity premiered. It was the big screen follow up to the Firefly series. It has an 83% rating over at Rotten Tomatoes. And It won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation—Long Form.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born September 30, 1932 — Antoinette Bower, 86. I’ll start off with her being Sylvia in the classic Trek episode of “Catspaw” written by Robert Bloch. She had a previous genre appearances in a Twilight Zone story, “Probe 7, Over and Out” in which she was Eva Nord. It’s a shaggy God story as so termed by Brian Aldiss. She also had one-offs in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible, Get Smart and The Six Million Dollar Man.
- Born September 30, 1946 — Dan O’Bannon. Screenwriter, director, visual effects supervisor, and actor. He wrote the Alien script, directed The Return of the Living Dead, provided special computer effects on Star Wars, writer of two segments of Heavy Metal, Soft Landing and B-17, co-writer with Ronald Shusett and Gary Goldman of the first Total Recall. That’s not complete listing by any stretch! (Died 2009.)
- Born September 30, 1950 — Laura Esquivel, 69. Mexican author of Como agua para chocolate, Like Water for Chocolate in English. Magic realism and cooking with more than a small soupçon of eroticism. Seriously the film is amazing as is the book. ISFDB says she’s also written La ley del amor (The Law of Love) which I’ve not read.
- Born September 30, 1953 — S. M. Stirling, 66. My favorite work by him is The Peshawar Lancers. Other than that, I’ll admit that I’ve not read deep on him beyond In the Courts of the Crimson Kings and The Sky Prople.
- Born September 30, 1959 — Debrah Farentino, 60. She’s been in the cast of Earth 2 (never saw it — how was it?) and the recurring character of Dr. Beverly Barlowe on Eureka (superb, her character and the series). She was also in Son of the Pink Panther, 1994 Baker Street: Sherlock Holmes Returns, and the “Mind over Matter” episode of Outer Limits,
- Born September 30, 1972 — Sheree Thomas, 47. She’s the editor of the Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora anthology and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones, each winners of a World Fantasy Award for Year’s Best Anthology. I highly recommend her Lady Sherlock series which I’m pleased to note is available on iBooks and Kindle. Kindle has her short collections.
- Born September 30, 1982 — Lacey Chabert, 37. Penny Robinson on the Lost in Space film reboot. She’s done mostly voice acting and children’s features at that. She did voice Gwen Stacy on The Spectacular Spider-Man series and does likewise for Zatanna Zatara on the current Young Justice series.
- Born September 30, 1985 — Katrina Law, 34. She’s well-known for playing the roles of Mira on Spartacus: Blood and Sand and Spartacus: Vengeance, and Nyssa al Ghul on Arrow. She co-starred in Darkness Rising, a film two critics noted for its “terminal dullness” and which got a rare rating of 0% at Rotten Tomatoes.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Real Life Adventures uses planetary science to show the relative meaning of “free stuff.”
(10) STAND BY TO BUY. IGN wants you to know “Every Star Wars Toy Announced for Force Friday”.
Lucasfilm has announced all the toys and products you’ll be able to purchase on Force Friday next week. Not only are there action figures and collectibles, but socks and underwear too for good measure. You know, for the true Star Wars fans.
(11) HAVE YE SEEN THE GREAT BLANK PAGE. I’m nearly always a sucker for another “making of Moby Dick“ article as long as it mentions Ray Bradbury. Nick Rowan’s “Reviving John Huston’s Moby Dick” for The Spectator qualifies. Tagline: “On Melville’s death day, reviewing the film reincarnations of a Leviathan that still threatens all who pursue him. Just ask Gregory Peck.”
… At an awards ceremony in 1983, where Huston was presented a lifetime achievement award in filmmaking, his longtime friend Orson Welles — whose brief appearance in the film as a preacher earned him enough money to stage his own theatrical production of Moby Dick — recalled the whale incidents and laughed, joking that Huston had always been “a Renaissance Prince, a Regency rake, a Mississippi gambler, an epicurean, and an amiable Count Dracula.”
(12) LIGHTS, CAMERA, ANNIHLATION. At Tor.com, James Davis Nicoll is ready to screen “5 Atomic War Films That Are Fun for the Whole Family”.
…Stanley Kramer’s adaptation of the 1957 Nevil Shute’s novel of the same title, 1959’s On the Beach features an all star cast (Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, and Anthony Perkins). Nuclear proliferation put an end to all conflict in the northern hemisphere: those spared immediate death by nuclear blast were treated to death by enhanced fallout, courtesy of cobalt bombs. Australia and the other nations of the Southern Hemisphere were too insignificant to die in the exchange. Unfortunately, fallout is spreading slowly, inexorably south. The question is not how can the characters survive but rather how they will face their inevitable demise in a world without hope.
(13) FROM THE JAWS OF DEFEAT. It depends on how you spin it: “Chandrayaan-2: Was India’s Moon mission actually a success?”
India’s Moon lander, which lost contact with scientists seconds before it was to touch down on the lunar surface, is yet to be located. But scientists tell BBC Hindi’s Imran Qureshi why the ambitious mission cannot be dismissed as a failure.
…Chandrayaan-2 was the most complex mission ever attempted by India’s space agency, Isro. Its chairman K Sivan – who had earlier described the final descent as “15 minutes of terror” – has since said the mission was “98% successful”, based on the findings of an official committee.
Mr Sivan’s remarks have been met with criticism from scientists who said it was too early for Isro to term the mission a success, especially since its most important goal – to land a rover on the Moon’s surface that can gather crucial data – remains unrealised.
…Some former and current Isro scientists have however, supported Dr Sivan, and said it is unfair to call the mission a failure.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an Isro scientist told BBC Hindi that the success of a space mission has to be measured in terms of “the returns you get”.
“We had a precise launch, the orbiter was manoeuvred as anticipated which is a major part of the success and even the lander passed through all the three phases except that in the last phase it did not function as per our expectations,” he added.
He pointed out that they would now rely on data they received from the orbiter. “The life of the orbiter got enhanced from one year to seven years because a lot of fuel was not consumed. We were lucky. If you are getting data for seven years from orbiter, it means many technologies have worked.”
(14) A BITER BIT. He’s got the blarney going for him: “Limerick student tricks scammer to give him money”.
A student from County Kilkenny in the Republic of Ireland has managed to scam money out of an internet scammer.
The scammer transferred £25 to the student’s account, which he subsequently donated to charity.
This is the third time that Ross Walsh, a 22-year-old student at the University of Limerick, has extracted a small sum from online scammers for charity.
“I want to waste their time so they’re not wasting anyone else’s time,” he said.
(15) WORTH A LAUGH. If you were waiting to see Harley Quinn’s with one of her pet hyenas, let CinemaBlend show you the new Birds of Prey poster.
Harley Quinn debuted in Batman: The Animated Series, followed by a long tenure in comics. In most versions, the femme fatale has a pair of pet Hyenas named Bud and Lou. And it looks like they’ll make their live-action debut with Birds of Prey.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]