By John King Tarpinian: My daily walk around town today consisted of visiting my local framing store, Frame Of Mind Pictures in Glendale, CA. They specialize in movie posters and artwork, doing a lot of entertainment industry work. They have decorated their main room in honor of the works of Stanley Kubrick, on occasion of the 50th Anniversary of A Clockwork Orange. Framed original works from posters and stills are on display and for sale. That Space Odyssey movie of his is also featured and is The Shining.
My Stanley Kubrick story goes back to 1971. I was working at the Los Angeles Zoo, with the annual fundraiser being Zoobilee. This was a time before paparazzi so many famous people could attend without fear of being harassed. Ed McMahon would be the master of ceremonies. The event would kick off with Jimmy Stewart coming in riding on an elephant to the music of Animal Walk. The likes of Henry Fonda and Betty White would join in the festivities, plus many more.
But I digress. Stanley Kubrick was in town, and he was also in attendance. The event was held in the Theme Building, in the middle of the zoo with the administration offices being at the entrance. SK gets an emergency phone call from England. I had the honor of taking one of the electric golf carts and driving him down to the office so he could take the call. They were filming A Clockwork Orange and the still film photographer had run out of film and he was seeking permission to go to the local drugstore to purchase a few rolls of film. As SK put it to the man on the other end of the phone, that phone call cost more than a dozen rolls of film. I guess the photographer wanted to make sure he would be reimbursed for a couple rolls of film.
(1) INTERNATIONAL SERIES AWARD TAKING ENTRIES. The Sara Douglass Book Series Award judging panel welcomes entries for the 2021 award. The deadline to enter is September 30. See full guidelines at the link.
The third iteration of the Sara is underway in 2021, covering series ending (in original publication anywhere in the world) between January 2018 and December 2020.
The current judging year is deliberately excluded. This permits an earlier submissions deadline to allow adequate time for the judges to consider all works entered….
(2) REMEMBERING LOSS. In “The Grief in Memories”, a guest post at Stone Soup, TJ Klune frankly discusses personal experiences with death and grief and how they informed his new novel Under the Whispering Door.
… I know grief. I do. Chances are you do too. If you live long enough to learn what love is, you’ll know loss. Though no two people will grieve the same way, there’s still something universal about it, the way it changes us. It makes us feel like our hearts are being torn from our chests. It makes us furious, ranting and raving at the unfairness of it all. It’s all-consuming, this great thing that wraps itself around us and refuses to let go….
(3) FANAC.ORG. One of the fanzines now available at Fanac.org is a rarity mentioned in Ed Meskys’ obituary a few weeks ago. (“Peggy Rae McKnight (later Sapienza) began publishing Etwas in 1960; ‘We traded fanzines at the time, her Etwas (German for something) for my Niekas (Lithuanian for nothing).’”)
Etwas, Peggy Rae McKnight. Added the full 7 issue run of this early 1960s fanzine by Peggy Rae. Peggy Rae McKnight of course is Peggy Rae McKnight Pavlat Sapienza. Contributors include Harry Warner, Jr., Les Gerber, Ozzie Train, and others. The shorter issues may be more like perzines.
(4) PARTY LIKE IT’S 2010 AGAIN. As part of the Bradbury birthday commemoration, Phil Nichols produced a bonus episode of Bradbury 100 LIVE!In the 90th birthday video clip you can see all kinds of people, like the late George Clayton Johnson, Marc Scott Zicree, and John King Tarpinian (even though he’s trying to be invisible.)
On the eve of Ray Bradbury’s 101st birthday, I ran Bradbury 100 LIVE – a livestream version of my Bradbury 100 podcast. Joing me via Zoom was Steven Paul Leiva: novelist, friend of Ray Bradbury, and former Hollywood animation producer. This live show includes never-before-seen photos and video from Ray’s 90th birthday party, held in Glendale California in 2010. And we talk at length about one of Ray’s “lost” films, Little Nemo In Slumberland. We also discuss legendary animator Chuck Jones, who was a friend of Ray’s, and who was significant to the origin of The Halloween Tree and the abandoned Nemo project.
British comedy legend John Cleese will be exploring cancel culture in a new documentary series for Channel 4.
The series – which is to be titled John Cleese: Cancel Me – will see the Monty Python and Fawlty Towers star “explore why a new ‘woke’ generation is trying to rewrite the rules on what can and can’t be said”.
Throughout the series, the comedian will talk to a variety of people – including some famous faces who claim to have been ‘cancelled’ and others who have campaigned against comedians and programmes – to ask if it is possible to create comedy without causing offence….
The motion was filed to Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday afternoon by Disney attorney Daniel Petrocelli. In documents obtained by USA TODAY, Petrocelli argued that the contract between Disney and Periwinkle Entertainment Inc., the company representing Johansson, included an agreement to settle any disputes through “binding arbitration” in New York City.
Disney’s request for arbitration is the company’s first filing in the case since Johansson filed suit on July 29, alleging her contract with Marvel was breached when “Black Widow” was released on the Disney+ streaming service at the same time as in theaters.
In Friday’s filing, Disney argued the complaint put forth by Johansson and Periwinkle Entertainment has “no merit.”
“There is nothing in the Agreement requiring that a ‘wide theatrical release’ also be an ‘exclusive’ theatrical release,” Petrocelli wrote.
Petrocelli cited box office numbers, noting that the combined opening weekend revenue from ticket sales in theaters and Disney + Premiere Access receipts totaled more than $135 million. That surpassed other Marvel Cinematic Universe films that were released before the pandemic, including “Thor: The Dark World,”“Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Petrocelli wrote.
“Disney is now, predictably, trying to hide its misconduct in a confidential arbitration,” Johansson’s attorney John Berlinski told USA TODAY in a statement. “Why is Disney so afraid of litigating this case in public?”…
…SF authors have noticed this and written books about planets/planetesimals with different day lengths. Consider these five vintage works.
Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement (1953)
61 Cygni’s world Mesklin is sixteen times more massive than Jupiter. A day less than twenty minutes long means that the gravity at the equator is a measly three gravities. Thus, human starfarer Charles Lackland is able to briefly set down near the equator, where he is subjected to extreme discomfort (rather than immediate death). Too bad for Lackland that the object of his quest, a lost probe, is near one of Mesklin’s poles, where gravity is high enough to reduce a human to paste.
Conveniently for Lackland, Mesklin is not only life-bearing—it has natives. Rational self-interest being universal in Clement’s universe, Lackland strikes a deal with local trader Barlennan: retrieve the probe in exchange for services only someone with space flight can provide the trader. What follows is a glorious expedition through conditions quite alien to the human reader….
(8) MEMORY LANE.
1989 – Thirty-two years ago at Noreascon 3 where the Toastmaster was Frederik Pohl, C. J. Cherryh wins the Hugo for Best Novel for Cyteen. It had been published by Warner Books the previous year. Other nominated works that year were Red Prophet by Orson Scott Card, Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold, Islands in the Net by Bruce Sterling and Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson. Andrew Porter’s Science Fiction Chronicle would give it their SF Chronicle Award and Locus would award it their Best SF Novel Award. It was nominated for a BSFA as well.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 23, 1927 — Peter Wyngarde. Not one who was a lead actor in any genre series save Department S where he was Jason King but interesting none-the-less. For instance, he shows up in the two Sherlock Holmes series, one with Peter Cushing and one with Jeremy Brett. He’s in a series of Doctor Who with the Fifth Doctor, and he faces off against the classic Avenger pairing of Steed and Peel. He shows up as Number Two in The Prisoner as well. (Died 2018.)
Born August 23, 1929 — Vera Miles, 92. Lila Crane in Psycho which she reprised in Psycho II. On a much more family friendly note, she’s Silly Hardy in Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle, the very last of the twelve, count ‘em twelve, Tarzan pictures released by RKO. She has done one-offs on Buck Rogers in Twentieth Century, Fantasy Island, The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, I Spy and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Born August 23, 1931 — Barbara Eden, 90. Jeannie on I Dream of Jeannie. Her first genre role however was on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Lt. Cathy Connors, and she’d show up a few years later as Greta Heinrich on The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. She was Angela Benedict in The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, the wonderful film version of Charles Finney’s novel, The Circus of Dr. Lao. Some thirty-five years after I Dream of Jeannie went off the air, she had a recurring role as Aunt Irma on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Her latest genre was just two years ago, Mrs. Claus in My Adventures with Santa.
Born August 23, 1944 — Karl Alexander. Author of Time after Time which was filmed as Time after Time as directed and written by Nicholas Meyer. Cast includes Malcolm McDowell, Mary Steenburgen and David Warner. (A thirteen-episode series would happen in 2017.) His sequel of Jaclyn the Ripper is not as well known, nor is his Time-Crossed Lovers novel. Time after Time was nominated for a Hugo at Noreascon II, the year Alien won. (Died 2015.)
Born August 23, 1965 — Chris Bachalo, 56, Illustrator well known for his work on DC Comics’ Shade, the Changing Man and Gaiman’s two Death series, Death: The High Cost of Living and Death: The Time of Your Life.
Born August 23, 1966 — Charley Boorman, 55. He played a young Mordred in Excalibur which was directed by his father (and he was joined by his older sister Katrine Boorman who played Ygraine, Mordred’s grandmother) He was Tommy Markham in The Emerald Forest, and had an uncredited role in Alien.
Born August 23, 1990 — Jessica Lee Keller, 31. Lauren, Elise’s Best Friend, in The Adjustment Bureau from Philip K. Dick’s “Adjustment Team” story. She also shows up in Lucifer, Terror Birds and 12-24.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Tom Gauld shows it’s not paranoia, if you’re actually being watched.
(11) OUT OF COSTUME. Comics writer Tom King, while signing at Awesome Con in Washington DC over the weekend, had to deal with a fan who refused to wear a mask. Fascinatingly, the fan was dressed as Rorschach. Thread starts here. The fan was removed by the concom.
…Mayim Bialik, who earlier this month was announced as host of the Jeopardy! primetime and spinoff series, will fill in as host of the mothership syndicated program following the abrupt exit of Mike Richards as host after one day of tapings. (He remains an executive producer of the franchise.)
Bialik, who guest hosted earlier this year in the wake of Alex Trebek’s death, is currently scheduled to tape three weeks of episodes (15 episodes) when production resumes this week. Additional guest hosts will be announced as search for a permanent host of the Sony Pictures Television program resumes.
(13) SCI-FI FOR STRINGS. CBS Sunday Morning did a piece on John Williams, with the news that he is rearranging some of his film scores for violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter.
John Williams is one of America’s most celebrated musical talents – the best-known creator of music for films. He has written the scores for such revered classics as “Jaws,” “Star Wars,” “Superman” and “Schindler’s List.” In a story originally broadcast September 22, 2019, Correspondent Tracy Smith talks with Williams, and with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, who collaborated with the composer on an album of works for violin and orchestra adapted from his film scores, “Across the Stars.”
…McDowell’s character sings the iconic 1952 musical number during one of the most disturbing and graphic scenes in the 1971 Kubrick classic. Talking to the same room of fans, McDowell said the song was not in the script, the idea just came to him during a take and Kubrick loved it. “It was just instinctive,” he added.
It would not be until 40 years later when McDowell would learn why Kelly was so mad about the situation.
“I am telling this story to the Academy, and afterward this lady came up and said, ‘I’m Gene’s widow. Gene wasn’t upset with you, Malcolm. He was really upset with Stanley Kubrick because he hadn’t been paid.’ And I went, ‘My God, there’s quite a gang of us who haven’t been paid!’” he said to laughs.
…Star Trek Wines has just announced the addition of two more bottles to its now six-bottle lineup.
To recap, Star Trek Wines launched with two options — Chateau Picard Cru Bordeaux and United Federation of Planets Old Vine Zinfandel — produced in partnership with Wines That Rock. (If that name sounds familiar, it’s because they also make wines for The Hallmark Channel, NPR, and Downton Abbey, along with their namesake rock band-themed products.) A year later, in 2020, two more wines joined the mix: Klingon Bloodwine and United Federation of Planets Sauvignon Blanc.
Now, it’s 2021, and as any serialized TV show knows, you need fresh content, so say hello to your latest season of Star Trek Wines: United Federation of Planets Special Reserve Andorian Blue Chardonnay (at $50 per bottle) and Cardassian Kanar Red Wine Blend (at $60 per bottle)….
(16) ON THE STAGE. Michael Toman pointed out a couple of the latest sort-of-genre items available from Playscripts.
When a narrator displeased with her part tries to ruin the happy endings of five Grimm’s fairy tales, a talking lobster must save the day. A charming comedy full of enterprising animals and classic storytelling magic.
When Archer finds herself a captive audience for her dad’s latest masterpiece, it seems pretty familiar for a fantasy adventure screenplay at first. Wars, in the stars. Brides, of the princess variety. This story’s got such an incredibly absurd array of heroes, villains, robots, and romances, it’s total chaos. But once Archer gets pulled in to the mashup tale of a princess with a secret agenda and some space wizards destined for greatness, she starts to wonder: Could this be so much chaos it’s actually… genius? With all the special effects achieved by one actor hurling models and puppets, plus a flexible cast, an epic quest can come to any stage in this hilarious satire of beloved fantasy adventures.
(17) MIMEO MAKERS. In the Forties, when a couple of fans couldn’t afford a mimeograph, they figured out how to DIY – they made one from a paint can. Now that mimeos practically don’t exist anymore, this technique might come in handy again.
Join Olson Graduate Rich Dana and Curator of Science Fiction and Popular Culture Collections Peter Balestrieri as they explore the techniques created by Dale and Anita Tarr back in the 1940s of printing zines with a paint can.
[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Dann, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]
(1) RAY BRADBURY’S 101ST. John King Tarpinian commemorated Ray Bradbury’s birthday, as he does each year, with a visit to the writer’s burial place:
Left Ray some Montag typing paper & a Faber pencil. Plus a half-bottle of Dandelion Wine & a skate key from the Chicago Roller Skate Company.
(2) CHICAGO HONORS WOLFE. The late Gene Wolfe will be among those inducted to the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame on September 19. As a former Fuller Award honoree he gained automatic induction upon his death. (Via Locus Online.)
(3) THE PLANETS OF SWEDEN. Ingvar livetweeted his latest tour of the inner planets of Sweden’s Solar System model . Ingvar’s thread starts here. Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are in Stockholm. The rest of the model is spread across the country.
(4) AUSSIE NATCON CANCELED. Conflux, the annual Canberra convention which was also designated this year’s Australian national convention, won’t be held due to COVID concerns: “Conflux 2021 Cancelled” reports SFFANZ. See the announcement at the Conflux website.
Conflux is a speculative fiction convention held annually in Canberra. Like many conventions, Conflux in 2020 and 2021 have had to be cancelled due to the global pandemic.
We will refund all registrations in the coming weeks, and the Rydges Hotel cancellation policy includes a full refund as long as you cancel more than 24 hours in advance.
We are currently working on how we can host the Ditmars and will advise further once we have everything in place for that.
…If the impact of the Puppies was more ambiguous in 2016 it was still no less visible. There had been hope that the huge numbers of people who had joined Worldcon and voted against the Puppies in 2015 would translate into overwhelming numbers at the nomination phase. However, without a coordinated slate, a large number of people voting for a wide range of different things will not necessarily out vote a much smaller number voting for a slate. Over four thousand nomination ballots had been cast and of those maybe less than 10% were people following the Rabid Puppy slate but in more popular categories, Day included more “hostages” on his slate and concentrated his more controversial picks on down-ballot categories….
With the Sad Puppies largely absent from the fight and with most of the substantive arguments having already played out in 2015, the 2016 award season was less riven with feuding disputes. There was a degree of pressure on some finalist who had been on the Rabid Puppy slate to withdraw but few did. Included in those who had been asked to withdraw was erotic humorist Chuck Tingle whose short story Space Raptor Butt Invasion had been slated by Vox Day in an attempt to mock the Hugo Awards. Tingle didn’t withdraw but instead turned his attention to mocking Vox Day and rolling the whole process of being nominated into his bizarre metafictional book titles….
We all know that feeling. You finish a movie, and you can’t believe you just wasted two hours of your life that you’ll never get back…
8. The Emoji Movie
“It was a soulless corporate husk of a movie built on ads. Literally, ads the movie. There is absolutely nothing redeeming about the movie. It’s morally, creatively, and ethically bankrupt. I’m actually angry remembering I wasted two hours of my life watching that fucking movie.”
(7) RAIN ON YOUR ALIEN PARADE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post Magazine, Joel Achenbach, who wrote a book (Captured By Aliens) about “the search for extraterrestrial life,” takes a deep dive into the evidence for space aliens and conclude we’re alone in the universe and should work on problems we can solve instead of daydreaming about space aliens. “It’s time to stop UFO mania”.
…I’m wary of returning to that strange universe, because anything I write is guaranteed to be unsatisfying for everyone involved. My strong suspicion is that the number of UFO sightings that involve actual alien beings, from deep space, with the tentacles and the antennae and so on, is zero. I would put the likelihood at 0.0000 and then add some more zeros, before eventually, begrudgingly — because I’m so intellectually flexible — putting in a little 1 out there somewhere to the right, a lonely sentinel, because who knows? (Yes, I’m saying there’s a chance.)
This skeptical take, however,is the boring take. A better story would be that, after all these decades as a skeptic, I’ve converted, because the recent rash of UFO sightings has persuaded me that these are, in actual fact, spaceships from somewhere else in the universe, or perhaps from the future, and could even be future humans, such as grad students getting their PhDs in paleoanthropology. Much better story.
Science journalists regularly disappoint people by refusing to confirm really cool things like UFOs, past-life recall, astral projection, telekinesis, clairvoyance and so on. When I wrote my aliens book I made a disastrous marketing mistake by not including any aliens in the story, focusing instead on people who believe in aliens. Thus it was a major disappointment for readers who bought a copy after finding it in the “Occult” section at Barnes & Noble….
(8) ELLISON ON THE AIR. J. Michael Straczynski has made available, in a now-unlocked Patreon post, a recording of one of the Harlan Ellison-hosted episodes of Hour 25 aired in 1986 by LA radio station KPFK.
Meanwhile, here’s an exclusive treat for Patrons who are/were fans of Harlan Ellison: his HOUR 25 interview with best-selling horror author Clive Barker. (Harlan copyrighted the shows he hosted under the Kilimanjaro Corporation and I don’t believe this has been heard anywhere since its initial airing.) It’s vastly entertaining, educational for writers, and very funny in places. This is the broadcast exactly as it went out on at 10 p.m PST, August 30th, 1986, with roughly 90 minutes of the most engaging conversation you’re apt to hear this month.
(9) MEMORY LANE.
2001 – On this day twenty years ago, the Legend series ended its very brief run on UPN. A sort of steampunk Western, it was developed by Michael Piller, who is best known for his contributions to the Star Trek franchise, and Bill Dail who is responsible for Sliders. It really had only two primary characters in the form of Ernest Pratt / Nicodemus Legend as played by Richard Dean Anderson and Janos Bartok as played by John de Lancie. It would run for the briefest of times as I noted, just twelve episodes before being cancelled. Every critic compared it to The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., some favorably and some not. The New York Post critic called it “a gorgeous amalgam of science fiction and old-fashioned Western”. It, like so many short run series, has no Rotten Tomatoes rating. Nor does it exist on any of the streaming services.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 22, 1907 — Oliver McGowan. He played The Caretaker in the “Shore Leave” episode of the original Trek. It must be decades since I’ve seen that episode but I still remember liking it a lot, silly though it be. It’s kind of the ancestor to the holodeck, isn’t it? McGowan has one-offs on One Step Beyond, Wild Wild West, I Dream of Jeannie, The Twilight Zone and Bewitched. (Died 1971.)
Born August 22, 1919 — Douglas W F Mayer. A British fan who was editor for three issues of Amateur Science Stories published by the Science Fiction Association of Leeds, England. He was thereby the publisher of Arthur C. Clarke’s very first short story, “Travel by Wire”, which appeared in the second issue in December 1937. He would later edit the Tomorrow fanzine which would be nominated for the 1939 Best Fanzine Retro Hugo. (Died 1976.)
Born August 22, 1920 — Ray Bradbury. So what’s your favorite work by him? I have three. Something Wicked This Way Comes is the one I reread quite a bit, with The Illustrated Man and The Martian Chronicles being my other go to works by him. Though he won no Hugos as his best work predated them, he’s won six Retro Hugos for a best novel, two best short stories, twice for fan writer and one for best fanzine. The Martian Chronicles film was nominated for a Hugo at Denvention Two, the year The Empire Strikes Back won; Something Wicked This Way Comes would go up against the Return of The Jedi which won at L.A. Con II. (Died 2012.)
Born August 22, 1925 — Honor Blackman. Best known for the roles of Cathy Gale in The Avengers, Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger and Hera in Jason and the Argonauts. She was also Professor Lasky in “Terror of the Vervoids” in the Sixth Doctor’s “The Trial of a Time Lord”. Genre adjacent, she was in the film of Agatha Christie’s The Secret Adversary as Rita Vandemeyer. (Died 2020.)
Born August 22, 1931 — Douglas Cramer. He produced twenty-four episodes of the original Trek, and he was Executive Producer of Wonder Woman. His only writing credit was for The Cat People. (Died 2021.)
Born August 22, 1945 — David Chase, 76. He’s here today mainly because he wrote nine episodes including the “Kolchak: Demon and the Mummy” telefilm of Kolchak: The Night Stalker. He also wrote the screenplay for The Grave of The Vampire, and one for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, “Enough Rope fur Two”, which he also directed. And yes, he wrote many of the scripts for Northern Exposure which is at least genre adjacent.
Born August 22, 1955 — Will Shetterly, 66. Of his novels, I recommend his two Borderland novels, Elsewhere and Nevernever, which were both nominees for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature , and his sort of biographical Dogland. Married to Emma Bull, they did a trailer for her War for The Oaks novel which is worth seeing as you’ll spot Minnesota fans in it. Emma as the Elf Queen is definitely something to behold!
Born August 22, 1963 — Tori Amos, 58. One of Gaiman’s favorite musicians, so it’s appropriate that she penned two essays, the afterword to “Death” in Sandman: Book of Dreams, and the Introduction to “Death” in The High Cost of Living. Although created before they ever met, Delirium from The Sandman series is based on her.
With dark fiction from J.A.W. McCarthy, Avra Margariti, Marisca Pichette, Stephanie Ellis, Christina Wilder, Donna Lynch, Katie Young, Scott J. Moses, Angela Sylvaine, tom reed, Cheri Kamei, Shane Douglas Keene, J.V. Gachs, Tim McGregor, Emma E. Murray, Nick Younker, Jennifer Crow, Joanna Koch, Lex Vranick, Laurel Hightower, Eric Raglin, Eric LaRocca, Daniel Barnett, Bob Johnson, Simone le Roux, Hailey Piper, Bryson Richard, Jena Brown, and Christi Nogle.
Not an imitation Groot conjured with video or those clunky virtual reality goggles. The Walt Disney Company’s secretive research and development division, Imagineering, had promised a walking, talking, emoting Groot, as if the arboreal “Avengers” character had jumped off the screen and was living among us.
But first I had to find him. GPS had guided me to a warehouse on a dead-end street in Glendale, a Los Angeles suburb. The place seemed deserted. As soon as I parked, however, a man warily appeared from behind a jacaranda tree. Yes, I had an appointment. No, I was not hiding any recording devices. He made a phone call, and I was escorted into the warehouse through an unmarked door behind a dumpster.
In the back near a black curtain a little wrinkled hand waved hello.
It was Groot.
He was about three feet tall and ambled toward me with wide eyes, as if he had discovered a mysterious new life form. He looked me up and down and introduced himself….
…The development of Groot — code-named Project Kiwi — is the latest example. He is a prototype for a small-scale, free-roaming robotic actor that can take on the role of any similarly sized Disney character. In other words, Disney does not want a one-off. It wants a technology platform for a new class of animatronics….
As students across the country are saying goodbye to the summer and the new school year is kicking off, NASA is gearing up to engage students in exciting activities and thought-provoking challenges throughout the year ahead. The agency offers many resources to inspire the next generation of explorers, and help educators and students stay involved in its missions.
“Back-to-school season is a really exciting time for NASA. It represents the beginning of a new year of opportunities to connect with students, and the families and teachers who support them,” said Mike Kincaid, associate administrator for NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement. “We’re thrilled to be able to offer this variety of activities and options for students from K-12 to the collegiate level, whether they’re returning to a brick-and-mortar school or a virtual classroom at home.”
Below, NASA has prepared a long list of mission-related resources and opportunities for students, educators, and families to utilize during the 2021-2022 school year. Follow NASA STEM on Twitter and Facebook social media channels using the hashtags #BacktoSchool and #NASASTEM for additional content and updates….
Share Your Earth-Inspired Art – For 50 years, Landsat satellites have collected images of Earth from space. On Sept. 16, Landsat 9 is scheduled to launch and continue this legacy. Crafters of all ages are invited to share Landsat-inspired art creations.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
…But in the hands of an author like Ursula Le Guin, science fiction ‘isn’t really about the future’, as she put it in The Last Interview. ‘It’s about the present.’ It changes one or two structuring facts about the world as it is and asks: ‘What would humans do if this and this were true?’ The questions Le Guin asked were big, and her answers to them were subtle. Half a century ago she wondered: ‘What if people were gender-neutral most of the time, but changed between male and female at random when they came on heat, so that you could write sentences like “The King was pregnant”?’ (as in her Left Hand of Darkness). Or, ‘what if a capitalist planet had a moon on which there was a society with no laws and no private ownership?’ (as in her Dispossessed). Alongside these large questions her fiction also poses less visible challenges to its readers. Are you so unconsciously racist that you didn’t notice this woman or this wizard was brown-skinned? Didn’t you realise that the person you thought was an alien is actually from Earth?
For Le Guin these questions almost always led back to one core idea about people. They get stuff wrong even when they want to get it right, and the more they think they’re in control the worse the mistakes they’re likely to make. In The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction (first published in 1988 and now reissued with a thoughtful introduction by Donna Haraway), she described her writing as a ‘great heavy sack of stuff, my carrier bag full of wimps and klutzes … full of beginnings without ends … full of space ships that get stuck, missions that fail and people who don’t understand’. Her modesty downplays how deeply her fiction gets inside the darker parts of the human mind….
Amazon.com and the “Big Five” publishers – Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster – have been accused of colluding to fix ebook prices, in a class action filed by the law firm that successfully sued Apple and the Big Five on the same charge 10 years ago.
The lawsuit, filed in district court in New York on Thursday by Seattle firm Hagens Berman, on behalf of consumers in several US states, names the retail giant as the sole defendant but labels the publishers “co-conspirators”. It alleges Amazon and the publishers use a clause known as “Most Favored Nations” (MFN) to keep ebook prices artificially high, by agreeing to price restraints that force consumers to pay more for ebooks purchased on retail platforms that are not Amazon.com.
The lawsuit claims that almost 90% of all ebooks sold in the US are sold on Amazon, in addition to over 50% of all print books. The suit alleges that ebook prices dropped in 2013 and 2014 after Apple and major publishers were successfully sued for conspiring to set ebook prices, but rose again after Amazon renegotiated their contracts in 2015….
(3) URSA MAJOR AWARDS. [Item by N.] The furries are at it again. No virus can hold them down. I mean this as a positive. Nominations for the 2020 Ursa Major Awards have opened and will continue until February 13. Click here to participate.
…We are primed for an genre mash-up of superheroes, sit-com pastiche and surreal horror. On the one hand, that is a bold move and on the other hand what we have is essentially a kind of “holodeck episode” in which familiar characters are placed in a contrasting genre for sci-fi or fantasy reasons. Your tolerance for holodeck episodes may vary but they can be fun — the bold choice here is making it the premise of the series and centring two characters who have limited time to develop their characters in the movie…
At some point in time we are going to either recast or totally CGI parts of actors if you ever want to see them younger or a prequel of a movie they were in or unfortunately great actors we have lost, maybe to ever see them again. In this specific video everyone voted to see who would play a good Princess Leia Organa in a possibly TV series/prequel in the Star Wars universe and you all picked Millie Bobby Brown from “Stranger Things” fame as well as being in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and other things. What do you all think of her as playing the part?
Tread carefully with torch in hand, because there’s a new Dungeons & Dragons TV series reportedly around the corner — and it’s coming from a creative mind with a whiplash action pedigree.
John Wick creator and screenwriter Derek Kolstad is reportedly rolling the 20-sided dice as the newly-recruited writer for a live-action D&D series from Hasbro & eOne, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Kolstad, who helped propel Keanu Reeves to new levels of action stardom as the mind behind John Wick’s fast-paced brand of slick secret-society infighting, will reportedly write and develop a pitch for the as-yet unnamed D&D series.
…”It’s a fabulous script,” Allen said in an interview with EW, “but it had a hiccup because the wonderful Alan Rickman passed. So it all got very sad and dark because [the script] was all about [Lazrus] and Taggart. It was all about their story. It doesn’t mean they can’t reboot the idea, and the underlying story was hysterical and fun….I haven’t reached out to anybody in the last week, but we talk about it all the time. There is constantly a little flicker of a butane torch that we could reboot it with. Without giving too much away, a member of Alan’s Galaxy Quest family could step in and the idea would still work.”
Allen also maintained that the years between the film and now, or five years from now, wouldn’t have any huge effect on their ability to make the sequel either, adding: “[The sequel] could happen now or in five years and it doesn’t matter at all because when you travel at light speed, when you come back it can be like only 20 minutes, but 20 years have passed, right? That part is wonderful for the sci-fi freak in me. But right now it’s in a holding pattern.”
(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
2001 — Twenty years ago, Greg Bear’s Darwin’s Radio wins the Nebula Award and would also win the Endeavour Award. It was nominated for the Locus and Campbell Awards as well the same year. It was followed by a sequel, Darwin’s Children which would receive nominations for the Arthur C. Clarke, Locus, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
January 16, 1895 – Nat Schachner. Chemist, lawyer, author. President of American Rocket Society. Director of public relations, Nat’l Council of Jewish Women. History and historical fiction e.g. The Mediaeval Universities, biographies of Burr, Hamilton, Jefferson, The Wanderer about Dante and Beatrice. For us two novels, a hundred shorter stories. (Died 1955) [JH]
Born January 16, 1905 — Festus Pragnell. Ok, he’s here not because he had all that a distinguished a career as a writer or illustrator, but because of the charming story one fan left us of his encounter with him which you can read here. Festus himself wrote but three novels (The Green Man of Kilsona, The Green Man of Graypec, and The Terror from Timorkal), plus he wrote a series of stories about Don Hargreaves’ adventures on Mars. Be prepared to pay dearly if you want to read him as he’s not made it into the digital age and exists mostly in the original Amazing Stories only. (Died 1977.) (CE)
Born January 16, 1943 — Michael Atwell. He appeared in Doctor Who twice, first in a Second Doctor story, “The Ice Warriors”, and later in the in the Sixth Doctor story, “Attack of the Cybermen.” He also voiced Goblin in the Labyrinth film, and had a recurring role in Dinotopia. (Died 2006.) (CE)
Born January 16, 1945 – Russell Letson, age 76. Journalist and technical writer. Plays acoustic guitar, wrote about Hawaiian slack-key (Aloha Guitar, 2014). Taught English awhile. Book reviewer for Locus since 1990. Introduced the Gregg Press edition of Leiber’s Wanderer. Filer. [JH]
Born January 16, 1946 – Mike Horvat, age 75. Printer by trade. Co-founder of Slanapa (the Slanderous Amateur Press Ass’n). Donated his fanzine collection to Univ. Iowa, see here. Active in apas outside our field, a decades-longer tradition; founded the American Private Press Ass’n, was its Librarian until 2005. Also amateur radio, postage stamps. [JH]
Born January 16, 1948 — John Carpenter, 73. My favorite films by him? Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from New York. His gems include the Halloween franchise, The Thing, Starman (simply wonderful), The Philadelphia Experiment, Ghosts of Mars and many other films. What do you consider him to done that you like, or don’t like for that matter? I’m not fond of Escape from L.A. as I keep comparing to the stellar popcorn film that the previous Escape film is. (CE)
Born January 16, 1952 – Cy Chauvin, age 69. Fan Guest of Honor at Fan Fair III, at Lunacon 27, see here. Edited the Wayne Third Foundation’s clubzine. Co-founded MISHAP. Stippler. Reviewed for Amazing. Anthologies A Multitude of Visions (criticism), The Tale That Wags the God (Blish’s only). Letters, essays, fanart, in Algol, Janus, Matrix, NY Rev SF, Riverside Quarterly, SF Commentary, Vector. [JH]
Born January 16, 1958 – Marla Frazee, age 63. Illustrated It Takes a Village, three dozen more including eight Borrowers, wrote some of them. Two Caldecott Honors, Boston Globe – Horn Book Award. “Study the genre and the best books of the time. Read all the time. Read everything you can. Be passionate and honest about what you are doing and why you are doing it.” Has a little Free Library in her front yard. Here is The Planetoid of Amazement. Here is Bed-Knob and Broomstick. Here is The Farmer and the Monkey. [JH]
Born January 16, 1961 – Karen McQuestion, age 60. Eight novels for us, a dozen others, sold a million copies. “I believe in almost everything, which makes the world seem both miraculous & terrifying.” Her home-office has a mahogany desk, a recliner, bookcases, framed prints from one of her illustrators, and an electric fireplace “which some of my family think is tacky, but I don’t care.” [JH]
Born January 16, 1968 – Rebecca Stead, age 53. Lawyer, married another; spent a few years as a public defender. Vassar woman (as was my grandmother). Newbery Medal; The Guardian prize (first winner outside the Commonwealth). For us, four novels including both of those prizewinners, one shorter story. [JH]
Born January 16, 1970 — Garth Ennis, 51. Comic writer who’s no doubt best known for Preacher which he did with illustrator Steve Dillon, and his stellar nine-year run on the Punisher franchise. I’m very fond of his work on Judge Dredd which is extensive, and his time spent scripting Etrigan the Demon For DC back in the mid Nineties. What by him should I be reading? (CE)
Born January 16, 1974 — Kate Moss, 47. Yes, she’s done SF. To be precise Black Adder which we discussed a bit earlier. She played Maid Marian in “Blackadder Back & Forth” in which as IMDB puts it “At a New Millennium Eve party, Blackadder and Baldrick test their new time machine and ping pong through history encountering famous characters and changing events rather alarmingly.” You can watch it here. (CE)
Born January 16, 1976 — Eva Habermann, 45. She is best known for playing the role of Zev Bellringer on Lexx. She was succeeded in her role by Xenia Seeberg. Ok, I’ll confess that I’ve never seen the series which I know exists in both R and not so R versions. Who here has seen it in either form? She was also Ens. Johanna Pressler in Star Command, a pilot that wasn’t to be a series that was written by Melinda Snodgrass. And she had a role in the Code Name: Eternity series as Dr. Rosalind Steiner. (CE)
Editor’s note: This advisory was updated Jan. 16 to update the window for the hot fire test, as well as start time for NASA TV coverage. Because test preparation is running ahead of schedule, NASA TV coverage will begin at 3:20 p.m. EST for a test start time of 4 p.m.
NASA is targeting a two-hour test window that opens at 4 p.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 16, for the hot fire test of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage at the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Live coverage will begin at 3:20 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website, followed by a post-test briefing approximately two hours after the test concludes.
(11) JEOPARDY! John King Tarpinian proudly snapped this while watching Jeopardy! on Friday night.
(12) LOCAL CHOW. BBC Sounds has audio of The Food Chain episode “The arctic eating adventure”. Andrew Porter urges everyone to listen to the show and watch the linked video.
When the only road into her town was blocked by a landslide, documentary filmmaker Suzanne Crocker was shocked by how quickly supermarket shelves went bare. It set her mind racing; would her remote Canadian town – just 300km from the Arctic circle – be capable of sustaining itself? She decided to undertake a radical experiment: an entire year of eating 100% local.
Emily Thomas hears how she grew, hunted, foraged and negotiated her way through the seasons with a cupboard bare of salt, sugar and caffeine. How did she persuade three hungry teenagers to come on board, and what did a year of eating local do to family dynamics?
Suzanne’s film about the experience is available on FirstWeEat.ca until February 1.
Rob Wolf: The book opens with a heat wave in the Indian province of Uttar Pradesh. We see it unfold through the eyes of a Western aid worker, Frank May. Could you talk about what happens, what this disaster is and how it sets the story in motion?
Kim Stanley Robinson: I began to read about wet-bulb temperatures, which is a heat index that combines heat and humidity. Everybody who watches weather channels is already familiar with heat indexes, and everybody who lives in humid areas knows about the heat and humidity in combination. There’s been discussion amongst a certain portion of the people trying to think about climate change that maybe we just have to adapt to higher global average temperatures. They aren’t so worried about crossing the 2-degree centigrade Celsius rise in global average temperature and all that. We’ll go to three. We’ll go to four. We’ll just adapt.
But the problem is this wet-bulb 35 is only about 95 degrees Fahrenheit, plus 100 percent humidity, and human bodies can’t deal. They die. You would have to be in air conditioning. And in heat waves like that, power systems and grids often fail, in which case there would be mass deaths. There’s been a wet-bulb 34s all over the tropics and even in the Chicago area, and a few wet-bulb 35s have already been seen for an hour or two across the globe. They’re going to be more and more common.
What it suggested to me was that we can’t actually adapt to a three- or four-degree average rise because we’ll be getting these heat waves that will be deadly and power grids will fail and millions will die. So I thought, well, okay, let’s follow that thought into a novel where one of these happens and everything gets radicalized, everything goes crazy. What would that look like? And can I start from that and actually thirty years later come to a better place?
Cohen the Barbarian was angry. Angry that he never died in battle, angry that the world had forgotten him, and angry that his knees were starting to play up in the cold. He was also angry that his faithful mount had been gifted the ability of magical speech. The horse was insisting that they had made a wrong turn back at Slice. He was also angry that the horse was probably right. This was not how it was supposed to end for the barbarian. This was not how the Discworld’s greatest hero imagined it at all.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Godzilla–The Soul of Japan” on YouTube, Kaptain Kristian says the original Japanese version of Godzilla was a powerful anti-nuclear allegory (Godzilla’s head is shaped like a mushroom cloud, and he has no scales so his skin looks like radiation burns) but the film was re-shot and censored for its substantially different American release.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, N., Danny Sichel, Nina Shepardson, John Hertz, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
…DRIVEN BY COST AND CHILDREN — Open Culture has seen fit to remind us all that the classic novel had humble beginnings. Typed on a rental typewriter for $9.80 at a dime per half an hour, the book began as a 25,000-word novella called The Fireman. Over the course of nine days, Bradbury spent 49 hours on this first draft.
His speed was largely driven by the sheer cost (we’re talking mid-century dimes here) and the ticking clock of being a present father. Surely, as more parents have had to attempt working from home while their children are being adorable, you can understand why Bradbury could no longer write from his garage. Unable to afford an office, he turned to rental typewriters in the basement of UCLA’s Powell Library.
THE SKELETONS IN Ray Bradbury’s closet are out in Killer, Come Back to Me, a career-spanning collection of the science fictioneer’s crime stories. These 300 pages present a new side to readers who only know Bradbury from such classics as The Martian Chronicles (1950) and Fahrenheit 451 (1953). Published by Hard Case Crime on the occasion of the author’s centennial, the selections were picked by Hard Case head honcho Charles Ardai, Michael Congdon (Bradbury’s longtime agent), and Jonathan R. Eller (director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University and author of, among other titles, Becoming Ray Bradbury, Ray Bradbury Unbound, and Bradbury Beyond Apollo). Encompassing everything from the early pulp work on which he cut his teeth to a story published two years before his death in 2012, Killer, Come Back to Me offers the full spectrum of Bradbury’s criminal imagination.
… Bradbury’s life of crime spanned seven decades. Unlike Elmore Leonard and Brian Garfield, who started with Westerns, then moved to mysteries and didn’t look back, Bradbury never left the mystery genre for good. His commitment to both crime and SF recalls the career of Fredric Brown, who, while 14 years older, only entered the pulps shortly before Bradbury did and divided his output between the two genres until his death in 1972. Like Brown, Bradbury’s work displays the influence of Weird Tales and Dime Detective (where both authors published), embedding elements of the bizarre and supernatural in murder mysteries. Among Bradbury’s weirdest stories is a Dime yarn called “Corpse Carnival” (July 1945), which begins with one of two conjoined twins witnessing the murder of the other.
…He is half-consciously creating what Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts, in their celebration of the edgelands that characterize the uncertain border between cities and the surrounding countryside, have classified as “desire paths.” These are “lines of footfall worn into the ground” that transform the ordered, centralized spaces of the city into secret pockets; and that, in so doing, offer a “subtle resistance to the dead hand of the planner.”
Once he has decided on a direction, Mead strides off along his desire path, then, at once purposeful and purposeless. “Sometimes he would walk for hours and miles and return only at midnight to his house.” Mead has never encountered another living creature on these nighttime walks. Nor has he so much as glimpsed another pedestrian in the daytime, because people travel exclusively by car. “In ten years of walking by night or day, for thousands of miles, he had never met another person walking, not once in all that time” (569).
The proximate reason for the eerie solitude of the city at night is that everyone else has carefully secluded themselves in their living rooms in order to stare blankly and obediently at television screens. The silence of the city is an effect of what Theodor Adorno once called “the unpeaceful spiritual silence of integral administration.” If there is no political curfew in place in Bradbury’s dystopian society, this is because a kind of cultural or moral curfew renders it superfluous.
Crossing and re-crossing the city at night on foot, aimlessly reclaiming the freedom of its streets from automobiles, Bradbury’s Pedestrian is identifiable as the scion of a distinct tradition of urban rebellion or resistance, the dissident tradition of the nightwalker….
…With the seminal dark fantasy masterpiece Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962) and the latter career work A Graveyard for Lunatics: Another Tale of Two Cities (1990) on either side, The Halloween Tree is the middle installment in a loose Halloween trilogy by the author. Though he had written several other pieces dealing with childhood and growing up in a small town, this is his only novel that is aimed directly at children as its primary audience. Be that as it may, it is enchanting for readers of all ages. It is also well worth mentioning that the illustrations by Joseph Mugnaini, a frequent collaborator of Bradbury’s, are astounding.
In 1993, the Hanna-Barbera company produced an animated special based on the novel for the ABC network written and narrated by Bradbury himself with Leonard Nimoy voicing the mysterious Mr. Moundshroud. So often when it comes to books and the movies based on them, one is clearly superior. In this case, both are so wonderful for different reasons that neither feels extraneous. The basics of the plot remain more or less the same in both, but the details and execution in each make both vital. Because they share most of the same plot points, let us explore both at the same time, reveling in the magic of each.
(5) PAST THE APEX. In “Bradbury in the Afternoon” at the Russell Kirk Center website, James E. Person, Jr. does a lengthy review of Jonathan R. Eller’s bio Bradbury: Beyond Apollo.
…By that time Bradbury was a legend: he was hailed and feted by his writing peers and admiring readers of all ages, his name mentioned in the same breath with H. G. Wells and Jules Verne as a writer of astonishingly imaginative science fiction and fantasy. Within the world of literature he knew everybody that was anybody, and his works were well on their way to becoming staples of middle-school and high-school literature courses. So what did the man do for the remaining fifty years of his life? The answer is hinted at in the title of the third and final volume of Jonathan Eller’s masterful Bradbury biography, by the words “Beyond Apollo.”
Why those words? Their significance lies in that from Bradbury’s perspective, the Apollo moon landings—particularly the initial landing in July, 1969—marked the apex of much that the author had dreamed of, the first step in mankind’s outward journey to Mars and beyond. When Neil Armstrong and Edwin (“Buzz”) Aldrin first set foot on the moon at Tranquility Base, it marked the pinnacle of the U.S. space program’s endeavors at that time. Everything that followed—the subsequent handful of successful moon landings, the space-shuttle initiative, the probes to Mars and beyond, the international space station—were wonderful but somehow a step down. As with Bradbury’s career, there was a sense that there was nothing left to prove. Beyond Apollo, there was a transitional phase of reset and refocus in America’s approach to space exploration and in Bradbury’s career….
(6) HEY, I KNOW THAT GUY. Phil Nichols’s seventeenth episode of his series “Bradbury 100” spotlight’s some events celebrating the milestone birthday. John King Tarpinian restrained his enthusiasm when he sent the link: “Darn it, I am included in this podcast at about 7 minutes in.”
This week’s Bradbury 100 is a bit different: instead of a featured guest interview, I present highlights from two Bradbury Centenary events from recent times, as well as summing up some of the key centenary events of the year so far.
The first of the highlights is a selection from the discussion in the first (and so far, only) Bradbury 100 LIVE episode. This was an event I ran on Facebook Live back in September. In this recording, I talk to John King Tarpinian – a friend of Ray Bradbury’s who often accompanied him to public events – and educator George Jack.
The second is the audio from a public lecture I gave earlier this week, celebrating seventy years of Bradbury’s book The Martian Chronicles.
(7) COVID-19 PUSHES 451 OUT OF THE SYLLABUS. In the Washington Post, Ashley Fetters interviewed teachers about the changes they’ve made as a result of the pandemic. She interviewed Morgan Jackson, a high school English teacher in Philadelphia: “Distance learning is straining parent-teacher relationships”.
…Jackson has made changes to how she teaches. She skipped, for example, a lesson she planned about an overdose scene in Fahrenheit 451. ‘Typically, because Philadelphia is so rife with overdoses and drug issues, I would have had an in-depth discussion and read an article about that. But because it’s such a controversial topic and some parents don’t want their kids knowing about that side of Philly, I kind of cut that out,’ she said. ‘I feel more monitored now than I did when we were in class.’
(8) THAT’S SHAT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from an article by David Cheal in the November 21 Financial Times about Elton John’s 1972 song “Rocket Man.”
Decades before the opening scenes of Ridley Scott’s film Alien (1979) showed astronauts smoking, chatting, and drinking, before John Carpenter’s 1974 sci-fi classic Dark Star depicted a spaceship’s crew bored and listless, science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury had the prescience to realise that one day going ino space would be just a job. His short story ‘The Rocket Man,’ part of his 1951 collection The Illustrated Man, tells of a man who works in space for three months at a time, coming home to an anxious wife and a curious teenage son. Sniffing his father’s space uniform, the son finds it smells of ‘fire and time.”…
…In 1972 Bernie Taupin, Elton John’s lyric-writing partner, was heading home to see his parents. He had read Bradbury’s story and was musing on it when a lyric popped into his head, about a man preparing to head off to his job in space: ‘She packed my bags last night pre-flight, zero hour 9am… Taupin normally used a notebook to jot down ideas but as he was driving he had to spend the day anxiously memorizing the lines before he could finally commit them to paper. He sent the finished lyric to John (they mostly work separately), who set them to music,'”
Cheal notes that when William Shatner sang his version of “Rocket Man” at the Science Fiction Film Awards ceremony, Ray Bradbury was in the audience as he later gave the prize for best film of the year to Star Wars.
I was in seventh grade the first time that I read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. I wasn’t a particular fan of science fiction, nor was I a fan of dystopian fiction. That being said, Fahrenheit 451 didn’t even register as belonging to a genre as I read it.
Bradbury’s language was so rich and real and immediate that I remember being as convinced of the world he built as I was of any “real” setting. I wanted to sink into every sentence. I wanted to wrap myself up in unexpected metaphors and lush allusions. I wanted to be a writer just like Bradbury.
After school the day that I finished reading Fahrenheit 451, I sat down to write Bradbury a letter. In this letter, I tried to express how much his book meant to me. I don’t remember now exactly what I wrote; I’m sure it was clumsy. What I do remember is including a small postscript informing him that I had enclosed an original short story, and would he please respond with any comments he might have.
Then I decorated the envelope with red and orange flames and stuck three stamps in the corner because it was so heavy. (It might have been generous to call my short story short.)
The next day, Ray Bradbury passed away. He was 91 years old, and my letter never got to him. I was devastated. Now, at 21 years old, I often wonder where that letter ended up.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, and Michael J. Walsh for these stories.]
The South Pasadena Public Library illuminated its new fused glass Ray Bradbury Windows for the first time on Thursday night.
The public was invited to come – masked and maintaining social distancing – to watch from the West side of Library Park near the cherished Moreton Bay Fig “Library Tree.”
Artist Tim Carey, who made the work at Judson Studios in South Pasadena, was on hand and answered people’s questions.
John King Tarpinian attended and took these photos. “It was a nice little dedication. The head librarian, mayor and artist all said a few words.”
When the project was announced and fundraising done this summer, South Pasadena’s library director Cathy Billings told an interviewer:
“To honor him at the South Pasadena Public Library with an artwork of this caliber would be remarkable… I love to imagine all the kids playing on the Library Tree looking up at the beautiful work shining from the conference room windows, and being inspired to learn, imagine and read.”
Artist Tim Carey drew inspiration to take on the fused glass project after meeting former South Pasadena Librarian Steve Fjeldsted:
“During a tour of the library, he showed me the Ray Bradbury Conference Room. I was immediately drawn to the windows, and the idea was born. Because I knew it was a long shot, I offered to do the design as a donation to the library back in 2018. Steve championed the idea through many meetings and we were able to create some momentum… My kids gather every year outside the Ray Bradbury Conference room on Halloween night to meet up with fellow trick-or-treaters. My hope is that with these windows lit up, it will add light and beauty to what is otherwise a dark area under the big fig tree at night. And the kids might ask who the guy in the window is, and a little piece of Ray Bradbury will live on in South Pasadena’s future generations.”
By John King Tarpinian: I am lucky enough to be able to visit Ray on his birthdays, always leaving him a gift or two. The cake had to be quickly removed because there were ants that appeared to be interested in the cake. And no, I did not eat the cake but gave it to the mortuary staff as a thank you for taking care of Ray.
I left a Clark bar (Ray’s favorite), brass horse (representing his first book, Dark Carnival), & the polished coprolite (dinosaur poop) in honor of The Sound of Thunder. Oh yes, I used a box of Dark Carnival matches to light the candles.
After visiting Ray I always go over to pay my respects to others who had influences in Ray’s life. Truman Capote, who was partly responsible for Ray getting his first story published in a mainstream publication, the October 1946 issue of Colliers Magazine, “The Homecoming.”
Also going over to Hugh Hefner, who as a young publisher, serialized Fahrenheit 451 in March/April/May 1954, in Playboy.
Of course, I also visit someone who I tease as being Ray’s chauffeur, Robert Bloch.
It is a pilgrimage I both enjoy making but wish I’d rather be going to Comic-Con or simply having lunch with Ray.
(1) HUGO VOTING LYRICS. The midnight (Pacific) deadline is imminent, inspiring 770’s reference to “I’m Getting Married in the Morning” in a post today — which Goobergunch celebrated by creating new words for the song.
There’s books and ‘zines all over town And I’ve got to track ’em down In just a few more hours….
I’m Hugo voting in the morning That silver rocket’s gonna shine Put up a racket Download the packet But make sure I go vote online
At the urgings of some of my Patreon supporters, I’ve decided to break bread anyway with some of the creators I’d intended to record with had I made there, only with 16 hours and thousands of miles separating us. So last night, I had dinner with writer Lee Murray, while she had lunch the following day.
Lee is a three-time Bram Stoker Awards finalist, and is also New Zealand’s most awarded writer and editor of fantastic fiction, having won two Australian Shadows and a dozen Sir Julius Vogel Awards. Her novels include The Battle of the Birds (2011), Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse (2019), as well as Into the Mist (2016), Into the Sounds (2018), Into the Ashes (2019), and others. She’s edited fourteen anthologies, including Baby Teeth: Bite-Sized Tales of Terror (2013), Hellhole: An Anthology of Subterranean Terror (2018), and others. Her first collection, Grotesque: Monster Stories, will be published July 24.
We discussed how she crafted her first short story collection, the importance of mentoring our next generation of genre writers, why we’re unlikely to ever go spelunking together, whether she prefers her zombies fast or slow, the unique awards club of which we’re both members, the way her use of New Zealand culture might be perceived differently by readers in and out of her country, the difficulties some seem to have with stories written in the present tense, the thrill of being the first New Zealander to appear in Weird Tales magazine, how the experiences of reading aloud The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings differ, and much more.
I recently had to exorcise, er, fire a client. One I’d been working with for years. I have written three complete novels for this fellow, rewritten a fourth and outlined a fifth. The novel we were working on when we parted company was one we had been at for roughly six years from the time when he turned over a research binder, a long, detailed, Harvard-style outline, and a number of drafted chapters and scenes.
I freely admit that I allowed the situation to go on too long, but I really dislike quitting, and I have first hand evidence of the efficacy of the Golden Rule. I know that if you treat even contrarians with kindness and friendliness, you will end up with a good friend….
(4) BRONY DOCUMENTARY. Jenny Nicholson narrates The Last Bronycon: a fandom autopsy
With this week’s Comic-Con International moving online because of the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a whole world of cosplayers with a lot of creativity to show off. Since they can’t strut their stuff in the Gaslamp District, photographer K.C. Alfred asked them to suit up and show us their powers at various spots around San Diego County….
(6) COMIC CON ALTERNATIVE. John King Tarpinian tells me “We don’t need no stinkin’ San Diego” because this weekend they’re still going to hold the Casper Comic Con. No, it’s not for ghosts – yet, anyway. It’s happening in Casper, Wyoming.
The 2020 Casper Comic Con will be held INSIDE of the Casper Events Center. Mask are highly recommended. Guest appearance by FLASH GORDON Sam J. Jones
(7) SIZEMORE OBIT. Paranormal romance author Susan Sizemore died July 20 at the age of 69. She wrote fan fiction set in the Star Trek universe. She later began writing original romance novels and when she was about 40, she won the 1991 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award, presented to a previously unpublished author. And soon after she sold her debut novel, a time-travel romance called Wings of the Storm. Later in her career, she was asked to write a media tie-in novel Forever Knight: A Stirring of Dust based on the television series. She created two original series about a vampire world, Laws of the Blood, and Primes. According to her friend Jody Lynn Nye, Sizemore was active in the Society for Creative Anachronism, where she was known as Sibeol the Sinister (she was left-handed).
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
July 22, 1959 — Hercules Unchained premiered nation-wide. An Italian-French production, it was directed by Pietro Francisci, and produced by Bruno Vailati. Screenplay was by Ennio De Concini and Pietro Francisci with the latter also writing the story. It is claimed that the story is based off of Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles and Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus. Primary cast was Steve Reeves, Sylva Koscina, Primo Carnera and Sylvia Lopez. Critics in general though it was better than the predecessor film Hercules and it was the third most popular movie at the British box office in 1960. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes really don’t like it and give it a 20% rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 22, 1881 – Margery Williams. Wrote The Velveteen Rabbit. Lovecraft’s “On The Thing in the Woods by Harper Williams” is about one of her books: HW a pseudonym. Another novel, twenty shorter stories, for us, often with James Bowman; many others. Forward, Commandos! (1944) has a black soldier, rare in literature then. Translations from French and from Norwegian (with Dagny Mortensen). Newbery Honor. (Died 1944) [JH]
Born July 22, 1889 — James Whale. He is best remembered for these Thirties horror films: Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, The Invisible Man and Bride of Frankenstein which are all considered classics. He also made during this period, The Man in the Iron Mask, which surely is genre adjacent. (Died 1957.) (CE)
Born July 22, 1898 – Stephen Vincent Benet. “The Devil and Daniel Webster” leaps to mind. Three dozen short stories, seven dozen poems, touching SF. Guggenheim Fellowship. Judged Yale’s Young Poets Competition ten years. Three O. Henry awards (don’t minimize him either). Member, Amer. Acad. Arts & Letters. Fellow, Amer. Acad. Arts & Sciences. Pulitzer Prize. Look for him. (Died 1943) [JH]
Born July 22, 1898 – Alexander Calder.This edition of two Calvino stories has a Calder cover. But AC’s relation to us is higher, or deeper, or something. His mobiles (he invented them) and stabiles show an extraordinary joining of reality and fantasy — and science. Here is Two Moons. Here is Homage to Jerusalem. He worked flat, too; here is a lithograph Black Sun. (Died 1976) [JH]
Born July 22, 1932 — Tom Robbins, 88. Author of such novels as Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and Another Roadside Attraction. ISFDB lists everything he’s done as genre and who am I to argue with them? Now Jitterbug Perfume, that’s genre! (CE)
Born July 22, 1936 — Angus Allan. British comic strip writer responsible for such strips asThe Six Million Dollar Man, Logan’s Run and DangerMouse. As the in-house writer for the Anderson’s TV Century 21, he provided the newspaper “news story” scripts for Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. He also wrote the novelization of Thunderbirds Are Go. (Died 2007.) (CE)
Born July 22, 1939 — Dean McLaughlin, 81. His best-known work is “Hawk Among the Sparrows” which was short-listed for both a Hugo and Nebula Award for Best Novella. He’s also written Dawn, a novel based off of Asimov’s “Nightfall” novelette. He was won for Analog Awards for Best Novella or Novelette. (CE)
Born July 22, 1941 – Vaughn Bodé. The equipment won’t show his name as he wrote it; over the “e” shouldn’t be an accent acute (which is what you see), but a macron (horizontal line), i.e. indicating a long vowel, not emphasis: it doesn’t rhyme with “okay”. I never heard him say it; I spent years thinking it was like body, but maybe it’s like Commando Cody. Anyhow, he gave us Cheech Wizard – and lizards – and much else. Here is a cover for Galaxy. Here is one for Amazing (with Larry Todd). (Died 1975) [JH]
Born July 22, 1944 — Nick Brimble, 76. His first genre role was in Lust for a Vampire as the First Villager. He next shows up in Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound as The Monster. He’s Sir Ectot in A Knight’s Tale which I really like be it genre adjacent or not. His lastest film genre role is as Dr. Zellaby in Soulmate, and he’s the voice of Owsla in the Watership series. (CE)
Born July 22, 1959 – Greg Costikyan, 61. Among us he published the New York Conspiracy’s Hymnal. Later, while staying with SF, he grew famous as a game designer and critic. Many SF reviews in Ares. Four novels (First Contract translated into French), sixteen shorter stories. Five Origins awards. Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design Hall of Fame. Much about his gaming in his Wikipedia entry. [JH]
Born July 22, 1965 – Lee Ann Setzer, 55. Editor (or if you prefer, editrix) for a while of The Leading Edge. Short stories as Lee Ann Layton. Children’s books; Biblical-fiction novels Gathered about Ruth, Hidden about Esther. Her husband said “I had to marry you. You’re the only one who truly understands about the US space program.” While in Japan ate nattô (fermented soybeans), hurrah! [JH]
Born July 22, 1972 — Colin Ferguson, 48. Best known for being Sheriff Jack Carter on Eureka. Damn I miss that series which amazingly won no Hugos. He’s also been in Are You Afraid of the Dark, The Hunger, The X-Files, The Outer Limits, the Eureka “Hide and Seek” webisodes (anyone seen these?) and The Vampire Diaries. (CE)
(10) TWO PLEASE. In Episode 32 of Two Chairs Talking former Aussie Worldcon chairs Perry Middlemiss and David Grigg talk about movies and TV. Which one is the tougher audience?
After discussing the current state of COVID-19 restrictions, Perry pans the movie Ad Astra, but cheers The Mandalorian series on Disney+, and the Netflix movie The Old Guard. David waxes enthusiastic about the Amazon series Tales from the Loop, and the movie Yesterday.
For the academic, scientist, collector, or hobbyist with an interest in the building blocks of the natural world, obtaining pure, representative samples of elements can be a challenge. Since our inception, we started off as an oddball but fun sideline as the Lucite furniture company which then became, Luciteria Science. Today, we serve the discerning collector with Lucite acrylic displays of the elements in their raw forms, functional calibration reference cubes, hand- and machine-polished mirror cubes, and much more!
…Yezin Al-Qaysi says haute hazmats are just the thing to make flying feel safe again. In mid-April the co-founder of VYZR Technologies, a Toronto-based company specializing in personal protective gear, launched a new product called the BioVYZR via crowdfunding site Indiegogo. The $250, futuristic-looking outer layer resembles the top half of an astronaut’s uniform, with anti-fogging “windows” and a built-in hospital-grade air-purifying device. Paranoid flyers were quick to scoop it up, pre-ordering about 50,000 suits and raising $400,000 for the nascent company. The first batch is set to be delivered by the end of July.
Andrew Porter points out that sff got there first! Photo from 1936 film Things to Come:
If playing Disney Villainousis like being in the fifth grade,Marvel Villainous is the first day of middle school. It feels the same, but it’s totally not. There are rules and norms you had no idea existed but are now the most important things in the world—and there’s a chance the classmates you came along with may not be your friends by the end of it. But that kinda makes Ravensburger’s board game a blast.
The latest board and card game release from Ravensburger (in a partnership with Prospero Hall) is a departure from the Disney Villainous series, which pitted different Disney villains against each other in a race to complete goals from their movies. This version ventures into the Marvel Universe to focus on the exploits of classic comic book baddies (they’re technically not the MCU versions but they have very similar designs and goals, so they’re pretty much the same thing).
The starting edition of this game, Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power, features five villains: Hela, Killmonger, Ultron, Thanos, and Taskmaster.
(14) THIS IS THE CITY. Andrew Porter passed along links to two overviews of Los Angeles right after City Hall was built – terrain that will look familiar to those of you who have seen the Fifties monster movie THEM! (Or the original Dragnet series.)
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Sharknado Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that all the “science” in Sharknado was “pier-reviewed” because “some drunk guy on the pier reviewed it.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, Jennifer Hawthorne, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]
There are the really obvious ways to torch your career — rudeness to editors, for instance. And then there are the hidden trap doors. The one I am going to reveal today is truly obscure. It could be broadly described as meddling with the publication process. More specifically, you can enrage the publisher’s sales reps. Kill your book dead in one easy step! …
(2) AND DON’T BE THAT POET. F.J. Bergmann wrote and Melanie Stormm designed “How To Piss Off A Poetry Editor” for readers of SPECPO, the blog of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. Here’s the header —
(3) KGB READINGS ONLINE. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Benjamin Rosenbaum and Mike Allen Wednesday, July 15 in a YouTube livestream event. Starts at 7 p.m. Eastern.
Benjamin Rosenbaum’s short fiction has been nominated for the Nebula, Hugo, BSFA, Sturgeon, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards, and collected in The Ant King and Other Stories. His first novel, The Unraveling, a far-future comedy of manners and social unrest, comes out this October from Erewhon Books. His tabletop roleplaying game of Jewish historical fantasy in the shtetl, Dream Apart, was nominated for an Ennie Award. He lives near Basel, Switzerland with his family.
Mike Allen has twice been a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. His horror tales are gathered in the Shirley Jackson Award-nominated collection Unseaming, and in his newest book, Aftermath of an Industrial Accident. His novella The Comforter, sequel to his Nebula Award-nominated story “The Button Bin,” just appeared in the anthology A Sinister Quartet. By day, he writes the arts column for The Roanoke (Va.) Times.
Transmitted herewith are excerpts from statements provided by members of the Barsky family regarding the incident with Hayden Barsky, age 11.
The true origins of KHAOS remain unknown….
It was published along with a response essay, “How Not to Optimize Parenthood” by Brigid Schulte, director of the Better Life Lab and author of the book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, & Play When No One Has the Time.
Most parents are well-intentioned. We try to do the right thing, hoping to spare our children at least a measure of the pain or heartache we muddled through, to smooth the rough edges of life and give them every advantage to make it in an uncertain and often cruel world.
That’s at least the hope. In practice, no one really knows how to do that. So, particularly in America, where “winning” and the self-improvement dictate to “beat yesterday” are akin to sacred commandments, we have always turned to the experts for help. What does the science say? What are the neighbors doing? What book or podcast or shiny gadget will instantly make my child’s life easier? More joyful? Miraculous? And, perhaps most importantly, better than your kid’s?…
(5) LOCKDOWN MOVIE. “Quarantine Without Ever Meeting” – Vanity Fair profiles the filmmakers. Tagline: “The actors set up lights, did their own makeup, and ran the cameras. The filmmakers advised on Zoom. Somehow…it worked.”
…While Hollywood is struggling to figure out if it’s possible to make a feature-length movie in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, this group of independent filmmakers and actors have already done it. “The whole movie has been written, produced, packaged, shot within quarantine. Now we’re in postproduction, and I had a first cut of the whole film done on Friday,” said director and cowriter Simon. As The Untitled Horror Movie nears completion, its producers are finally announcing the secret project and seeking a distributor. It appears to be the first movie created entirely within the parameters of the lockdown.
The horror comedy is about a group of needy and desperate young stars from a once-popular TV series who learn, via video conference, that their show has just been canceled. Fearing obscurity, they decide to stay in the spotlight by making a quickie horror film—but while shooting it, they perform a ritual that accidentally invokes an actual demonic spirit. Mayhem follows. “We kind of described it going into it as Scream meets For Your Consideration,” Simon said.
The card had been around since 1994, tagged “Invoke Prejudice” by the world’s most popular trading card game. It showed figures in white robes and pointed hoods — an image that evoked the Ku Klux Klan for many people.This month, the company behind “Magic: The Gathering” permanently banned that card and six others carrying labels like “Jihad” and “Pradesh Gypsies.” Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of toy giant Hasbro, acknowledged the images were “racist or culturally offensive.”
“There’s no place for racism in our game, nor anywhere else,” the company said in a statement announcing its action.
With the country roiled by tensions and protests over African Americans’ deaths at the hands of police, the issues entangling Magic and its creators are unlikely to subside soon. The fantasy game of goblins, elves, spells and more boasts some 20 million players, and in pre-pandemic times, thousands flocked to elite international tournaments with hefty prizes. Players of color say they have long felt excluded in the white- and male-dominated community from the game’s top echelons, as well as employment at the company….
(7) WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN. “A Better World ?” seems to be a kind of text-based game letting players choose among “Uchronies,” a French term that partakes of alternate history but is more fantastic in nature. I racked up a lot of karma in a hurry, sad to say.
I am monolingual, which limits me to reading works in English. One of the joys of this modern, interconnected world in which we’re living is that any speculative fiction work written in another language could (in theory) be translated into English. One of my frustrations is that, generally speaking, they haven’t been. Here are five works about which I know enough to know that I’d read them if only they were translated….
(9) I’M READY FOR MY CLOSE-UP. Olav Rokne says, “Sometimes, you just want to ask the question nobody wants.” He passed along some of the hilarious responses.
(10) CARL REINER OBIT. The creator of The Dick Van Dyke Show and straight man to Mel Brooks’ “2000 Year Old Man,” died June 29 at the age of 98. The duo won a Grammy in 1998 for their The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000. (The New York Times eulogy is here.)
He shared the lead in The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming and appeared in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. He directed numerous movies, including several starring Steve Martin. In recent years he voiced characters in several genre animated TV shows — and Carl Reineroceros in Toy Story 4.
John King Tarpinian remembers:
He is not genre but his passing reminds me of the good old days. Back in the 80s, I was president of the largest Atari club consortium in the US. One of the members owned the Vine Street Bar & Grill. It was between Hollywood & Sunset. The first Wednesday of the month the guest jazz singer was Estelle Reiner. Ron Berinstein, club member and club owner invited me to come on Estelle’s nights to make sure the club was always full. The first time I went her husband, Carl, was also there. I learned that he always came…and that he’d have friends join them. Over the years everybody from Sid Caesar, Buck Henry, Neil Simon, Dick Van Dyke, Mel Brooks & more.
During Estelle’s break between sets Carl & whomever was also there would get up and entertain. Carl & Mel would do their 2000 Year Old Man routine but not the Ed Sullivan version but the version they’d do a parties. My ribs would be sore the next morning from laughing so hard.
Sid Caesar would come to Ray Bradbury’s plays. Imagine somebody being able to upstage Ray…who also would be laughing so hard.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 30, 1971 — Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory premiered. Based on Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory novel, it was directed by Mel Stuart, and produced by Stan Margulies and David L. Wolper. The screenplay was by Roald Dahl and David Seltzer. It featured Gene Wilder as Willie Wonka with a supporting cast of Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Roy Kinnear, Julie Dawn Cole, Leonard Stone and Denise Nickerson. Some critics truly loved it while others loathed it. It currently holds an 87% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. (CE)
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 30, 1905 — Nestor Paiva. Sometimes it only takes one film or series for a performer to get a Birthday write-up from me. Paiva makes it for Lucas the boat captain in The Creature from the Black Lagoon and its oft forgotten sequel Revenge of the Creature. Though that was hardly his only genre role as his first role was in the early Forties as an uncredited prison guard in Tarzan’s Desert Mystery and he’d be in many a genre film and series over the decades as Prof. Etienne Lafarge in The Mole People, as the saloon owner in (I kid you not!) Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, Felicity’s Father in The Spirit Is Willing, Captain Grimby in “The Great Treasure Hunt” of The Adamms Family and a Doorman in the “Our Man in Leotards” episode of Get Smart. (Died 1966.) (CE)
Born June 30, 1920 — Sam Moskowitz. SF writer, critic, and historian. Chair of the very first World Science Fiction Convention held in NYC in 1939. He barred several Futurians from the con in what was later called the Great Exclusion Act. In the Fifties, he edited Science-Fiction Plus, a short-lived genre magazine owned by Hugo Gernsback, and would edit several dozen anthologies, and a few single-author collections, most published in the Sixties and early Seventies. His most enduring legacy was as a historian of the genre with such works as Under the Moons of Mars: A History and Anthology of “The Scientific Romance” in the Munsey Magazines, 1912–1920 and Hugo Gernsback: Father of Science Fiction. (Died 1997.) (CE)
Born June 30, 1929 – Anie Linard, 91. Active from France, herself and with Jean Linard, in the 1950s and 1960s; fanzines Innavigable Mouth, Meuh, Vintkat, X-trap. Voted in the 1958 TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) campaign. She was, like many of us, a correspondent of Ned Brooks. I have not traced her more recently than June 1962. Anie, if you see this, salut! [JH]
Born June 30, 1935 – Jon Stopa, 85. Active with Advent publishing house, half a dozen covers including In Search of Wonder, The Eighth Stage of Fandom, and The Issue at Hand. Three stories in Astounding. Program Book for Chicon III the 20th Worldcon, and cover for its Proceedings; with wife Joni, Fan Guests of Honor at Chicon V the 49th, where I think they were in some of the Madeira tastings I assembled when I found four or five D’Oliveiras in the hotel bar. The Stopas were (Joni has left the stage) also great costumers, both as entrants and judges; there’s a YouTube of their work here. [JH]
Born June 30, 1959 — Vincent D’Onofrio, 61. Kingpin in that not terribly good or bad Daredevil film, Edgar the Bug in the only truly great Men in Black film and Vic Hoskins in Jurassic World. He also was Jason Whitney / Jerry Ashton in The Thirteenth Floor, loosely based upon Simulacron-3, a early Sixties novel by Daniel F. Galouye. (CE)
Born June 30, 1961 — Diane Purkiss, 59. I’ve not read her Corydon Trilogy she wrote with Michael Dowling, her son, but I can say that At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Nymphs, and Other Troublesome Things is as splendid as the title suggests it is. She’s also written Fairies and Fairy Stories: A History. (CE)
Born June 30, 1961 – Nigel Rowe, 59. Published Timeless Sands history of New Zealand fandom, then moved to Chicago. Here is a 1994 photo of him with Russell Chauvenet (who coined the word fanzine) at Corflu 11 in Virginia. A 2019 photo of him is on p. 47 of Random Jottings 20 (PDF), the Proceedings of Corflu 36 in Maryland; he’s also on the cover (back right; you may be able to make out his badge “Nigel”). Very helpful relaying paper fanzines across the seas. [JH]
Born June 30, 1961 – carl juarez, 59. No capital letters in his name. Co-edited the fanzine Apparatchik with Andy Hooper (from Apak 62), later Chunga with Hooper and Randy Byers. Here is his cover for Chunga 8. He’s on the right of the cover for Chunga 17 (PDF). Chunga credited cj as designer, the results being indeed fine. He, Byers, and Hooper were such a tripod that with Byers’ death, Chunga tottered; should it fall, may cj find his feet. [JH]
Born June 30, 1963 — Rupert S. Graves, 57. Here because he played Inspector G. Lestrade on that Sherlock series. He also appeared on Doctor Who as Riddell in the Eleventh Doctor story, “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. He had one-offs in The Nightmare Worlds of H. G. Wells: The Moth, Twelve Monkeys, Krypton and Return of the Saint. (CE)
Born June 30, 1966 – Penny Watson, 54. Degrees in plant taxonomy, horticultural science, biology, and floral design; “there is nothing better than getting up in the morning, heading out to your garden and picking fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, cukes, and arugula greens for breakfast.” Obsessed with dachshunds. Has trained dolphins, coached field hockey and lacrosse. Nat’l Excellence in Romance Fiction Award. Eight novels, five of them and a novella for us. [JH]
Born June 30, 1966 — Peter Outerbridge, 54. Dr. David Sandström in what I think is the underrated ReGenesis series as well as being Henrik “Hank” Johanssen in Orphan Black anda recurring role on Millennium as Special Agent Barry Baldwin. He’s currently in two series, The Umbrella Academy with a recurring role as The Conductor, and as Calix Niklosin in V-Wars, yet another Netflix SF series. (CE)
Born June 30, 1972 — Molly Parker, 48. Maureen Robinson on the current Lost in Space series. One-offs in Nightmare Cafe, The Outer Limits, The Sentinel, Highlander: The Series, Poltergeist: The Legacy, Human Target and she appeared in The Wicker Man asSister Rose / Sister Thorn. (CE)
Born June 30, 1974 – Juli Zeh, 46. A dozen novels so far, three for us. Deutscher Bücherpreis, Solothurner Literaturpreis; doctorate in international law, honorary judge at the Brandenburg constitutional court. About Schilf (“reed”, name of a character – likewise an English surname), translated into English as Dark Matter (London) and In Free Fall (New York), when a Boston Globe interviewer asked “Are you asking the reader to reconsider the nature of reality?” JZ answered “Yes, I want to take the reader on an intellectual journey”; to “Can a novel of ideas be written today, without irony?” JZ answered “As long as mankind doesn’t lose its curiosity to think about the miracles of being.” [JH]
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Non Sequitur shows us the first science fiction writer — and true Hard SF, even as to the medium it’s composed on.
Today’s Bizarro is not an SF comic, but one with good advice for the privileged rich kid starting a literary career.
…With that said, there’s another aspect of it, too, which I think I’ve been minimizing: it’s not just time on social media, it’s engagement when I am on it, and how social media is making me feel when I use it. The term “doomscrolling” refers to how people basically suck down fountains of bad news on their social media thanks to friends (and others) posting things they’re outraged about. It’s gotten to the point for me where, particularly on Twitter, it feels like it’s almost all doomscrolling, all the time, whether I want it to be or not.
…The BLM movement are not terrorists. They are not thugs. They are peaceful protesters, marching against industrial discrimination and system-entrenched bigotry. The demonstrators have actually caught looters and rioters and delivered them to the police.
It doesn’t matter how much the limousine-liberals preach equality if there are no serious efforts to redress the grievances of the disadvantaged.
If we truly are all in this together, then it behooves all of us to reach out to each other and create partnerships and opportunities. This isn’t preferential treatment. It’s a necessary bit of repair work to a damaged genre.
If we don’t talk about it, if we don’t take steps, if we don’t address it, then we are guilty of complicity. If the racism of the past was a product of its time, then let our attempts to redress the situation be a product of our time.
… These sets are up for preorder now from Lego at $59.99 and are set to ship on April 19.
Stormtrooper Buildable Model Helmet ($59.99; lego.com)
Boba Fett Buildable Model Helmet ($59.99; lego.com)
TIE Fighter Pilot Buildable Model Helmet ($59.99; lego.com)
With the Stormtrooper, you’re getting a 647-piece helmet-building set, complete with the blacked-out visor, two nodes on the bottom for speaking and stickers to complete the look. Similarly, the Boba Fett helmet will let you pay homage to the original Mandalorian. This set is 21 centimeters tall (a little over 8 inches) and has 625 pieces. You’ll be constructing each detail of the helmet, including the fold-down viewfinder that lets Boba easily track down his targets. (He is a bounty hunter, after all.)
This in turn reminded me of one of my favorite songs by Chris Smither, “Henry David Thoreau” riffing on (same tune) Berry’s song. Oddly, even incomprehensibly, I find NO mention of it anywhere via DuckDuckGo nor Google, even though I’ve heard Smither sing it numerous times. (I also checked his discography.
It turns out that, while I have heard Chris Smither sing this song, he wasn’t the author. That was Paul Geremia, one of Boston/Cambridge’s wonderful acoustic blues musicians.
The song is on his Self Portrait In Blues album. (And on my ~2,800-song Spotify playlist, which is how, when it came around again this morning on the guitar, as it were, I realized my mistake.)
Flying snakes like Chrysopelea paradisi, the paradise tree snake, normally live in the trees of South and Southeast Asia. There, they cruise along tree branches and, sometimes, to get to the ground or another tree, they’ll launch themselves into the air and glide down at an angle.
They undulate their serpentine bodies as they glide through the air, and it turns out that these special movements are what let these limbless creatures make such remarkable flights.
That’s according to some new research in the journal Nature Physics that involved putting motion-capture tags on seven snakes and then filming them with high-speed cameras as the snakes flew across a giant four-story-high theater.
How far they can go really depends on how high up they are when they jump, says Jake Socha at Virginia Tech, who has studied these snakes for almost a quarter-century. He recalls that one time he watched a snake start from about 30 feet up and then land nearly 70 feet away. “It was really a spectacular glide,” Socha recalls.
Part of the way the snakes do this is by flattening out their bodies, he says. But the snakes’ bodies also make wavelike movements. “The snake looks like it’s swimming in the air,” he says. “And when it’s swimming, it’s undulating.”
The nation’s largest movie theater chain is delaying its U.S. reopening until the end of July because film companies have postponed release dates of two anticipated blockbusters.
AMC Theatres announced that a first round of approximately 450 locations will resume operations two weeks later than initially planned, to coincide with the updated August release dates of Warner Brothers’ Tenet and Disney’s Mulan.
“Our theatre general managers across the U.S. started working full time again today and are back in their theatres gearing up to get their buildings fully ready just a few weeks from now for moviegoers,” CEO Adam Aron said in a June 29 statement. “That happy day, when we can welcome guests back into most of our U.S. theatres, will be Thursday, July 30.”
The company said it expects its more than 600 U.S. theaters to be “essentially to full operation” by early August.
AMC Theatres made headlines earlier this month when it announced patrons will be required to wear masks, reversing course on a controversial reopening plan that had only encouraged them to do so.
For the first time, the familiar marble faces outside the New York Public Library will be obscured by masks.
Patience and Fortitude, the iconic lion sculptures guarding the 42nd Street library, are wearing face coverings to remind New Yorkers to stay safe and stop the spread of COVID-19.
The masks arrived on June 29, and measure three feet wide by two feet tall, according to a library statement.
New York Public Library President Anthony Marx emphasized the symbolism of the aptly named lions, and said New Yorkers are similarly strong and resilient.
(22) NEVERENDING SENDUP. The Screen Junkies continue their look at oldies with an “Honest Trailer” for The Neverending Story, where they show that gloomy Germans created “a world of neverending misery.” They discovered that star Noah Hathaway subsequently played Harry Potter Jr. in Troll (1986) with Michael Moriarty playing Harry Potter Sr.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, JJ, Joey Eschrich, Rich Horton, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Darrah Chavey, Olav Rokne, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to wandering minstrel of the day Cliff.]
Starting on June 6, several of our former employees posted reports on social media about a toxic work environment in our Chicago office. Many of them centered on one of our eight co-founders, Max Temkin, who led that office. We immediately began an internal investigation, and on June 9, we made the following commitments to our staff:
Max Temkin stepped down and no longer has any active role at Cards Against Humanity, effective that day.
We’re hiring a specialist firm to review and improve all HR, hiring, and management practices at the company. Our goal is to make these practices more inclusive, transparent, and equitable.
An outside organization will lead workplace training for all partners and employees of Cards Against Humanity, focusing on communication and unconscious bias at work.
Romano’s Vox article continues with an explanation of the problematic aspects of the game, and why they were not called out earlier –
…CAH’s namesake card game,a self-proclaimed “party game for terrible people,” is an off-color derivative of the family-friendly Apples to Apples, the Mad Libs-style party game. Players use a small handful of words to fill in blanks within loaded phrases for maximum comedic effect, and the appeal lies in the goal of creating a more shocking, provocative one-liner from your hand of cards than your fellow players in order to be dubbed the funniest player in the group. It’s the kind of wordplay silliness that goes over well among a lot of drunk party-goers.
But detractors have argued for years that CAH’s real appeal is, in a word, racism. A 2016 study published in the academic journal Humanity & Society found that a quarter of the cards in the original deck dealt with race, and nearly all of those cards involving minorities seemed to invite the worst readings possible. Consider, for example, the card about indigenous Rwandans, “Stifling a giggle at the mention of Hutus and Tutsis,” later reportedly changed to “Helplessly giggling at the mention …” The phrase implies that something about the names of indigenous tribes is inherently funny, and that even though we all know it’s wrong, we just can’t help but indulge in our racism just a little bit, for a laugh. (CAH removed this card from circulation in 2015.)…
(3) ANOTHER CUCKOO IN THE SLUSHPILE. [Item by Andrew Porter.] Okay, which word in the title would you have changed?
To help people learn about Grenadine, Zoom & Discord & to get practice using these apps leading up to, we will have training sessions & practice sessions over the next few weeks. The schedule, using New Zealand Time, is here: https://conzealand.grenadine.co/en/cnzpreconz/ If you plan to attend any items, don’t forget to log into Grenadine – there’s information about that on the first page of the schedule.
(5) SUMMER SCHOOL. The Clarion West Write-A-Thon has started. The schedule and other nformation is at the links:
(6) DYSON SPHERE OF INFLUENCE. From the March 2018 New York Review of Books: “The Big Bang”. Tagline: The following letters to relatives and the accompanying headnotes are adapted from Freeman Dyson’s Maker of Patterns: An Autobiography Through Letters, published by Liveright. This would be of interest in any case, all the more so to readers of Robert J. Sawyer’s new The Oppenheimer Alternative.
… Yesterday I had a talk with [Hans] Bethe about my future. Bethe told me that unless I raise objections, he will press for me to be given a second year; he said this was “in the interests of science as well as in your own interests.” He said I should spend the second year at Princeton with [J. Robert] Oppenheimer, and that Oppenheimer would be glad to look after me…
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 1982 — Ursula K, Le Guin’s The Compass Rose was published by Pendragon Press, the Welsh publisher. This edition was of only 550 copies, and featured cover art by Tom Canty with interior illustrations by Anne Yvonne Gilbert. It would garner a Best Single Author Collection From the annual Locus Readers Poll. And a Ditmar was also awarded. It’s been in print even since, and has quite a few translations. Most of the stories here are reprinted from elsewhere but some such as the horrific “The Wife’s Story” which is highly reminiscent of work done by Angela Carter is written for here. (CE)
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
Born June 28, 1948 — Kathy Bates, 72. Her performance in Misery based on the King novel was her big Hollywood film. She was soon in Dolores Claiborne, another King derived film. Another genre roles included Mrs. Green in Dick Tracy, Mrs. Miriam Belmont in Dragonfly, voice of the Sea Hag in Popeye’s Voyage: The Quest for Pappy, voice of Bitsy the Cow in Charlotte’s Web and Secretary of Defense Regina Jackson in The Day the Earth Stood Still , a very loose adaption of the Fifties film of the same name. (CE)
Born June 28, 1954 — Deborah Grabien, 66. She makes the Birthday list for her most excellent Haunted Ballads series in which a folk musician and his lover tackle the matter of actual haunted spaces. It leads off with The Weaver and the Factory Maid. You can read the first chapter here. Oh, and she makes truly great dark chocolate fudge. (CE)
Born June 28, 1954 — Alice Krige, 66. I think her first genre role was in the full role of Eva Galli and Alma Mobley in Ghost Story. From there, she plays Mary Shelley (née Godwin) in Haunted Summer before going onto being Mary Brady in Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers. Now Star Trek: First Contact in which she first plays the Borg Queen, a role she’ll repeat in the 2001 finale of Star Trek: Voyager, “Endgame”. She’s had a number of other genre roles but I only note that she was Eir in Thor: The Dark World. (CE)
Born June 28, 1979 — Felicia Day, 41. She was Vi in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dr. Holly Marten in Eureka, and had a recurring role as Charles Bradbury on Supernatural. She also appears as Kinga Forrester in Mystery Science Theater 3000. (CE)
Born June 28, 1957 — Mark Helprin, 73. Author of three works of significance to the genre, Winter’s Tale, A City in Winter which won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novella and The Veil of Snows. The latter two are tastefully illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. I know Winter’s Tale was turned into a film but color me very disinterested in seeing it. (CE)
Born June 27, 1926 — Mel Brooks, 94. Blazing Saddles I’ve watched, oh, at least two dozen times. And Get Smart several times at least wholly or in part. Spaceballs, errr, once was enough. And let’s not mention Robin Hood: Men in Tights, though The Producers (not genre I grant you) was brilliant. So what do you like or dislike by him? (CE)
Born June 27, 1951 — Lalla Ward, 69. She is known for her role as Romana (or Romanadvoratrelundar in full) on Doctor Who during the time of the Fourth Doctor. She has reprised the character in Dimensions in Time, the webcast version of Shada, and in several Doctor Who Big Finish productions. In addition, she played Ophelia to Derek Jacobi’s Hamlet in the BBC television production. And she was Helga in an early horror film called Vampire Circus. (CE)
Born June 27, 1954 — Raffaella De Laurentiis, 66. Yes, she’s related to that De Laurentiis hence she was the producer of the Dune film. She also did Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer, both staring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Kull the Conqueror. She also produced all films in the Dragonheart series. She was the Executive Producer of the Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. (CE)
Born June 28, 1918 – Martin Greenberg. Co-founded Gnome Press with Dave Kyle (Dave’s logograph is here), publishing ninety books in hard covers including Anderson, Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Moore, Norton, Simak. Edited eight anthologies. Lost his shirt to Bob Bloch at poker. First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 2013) [JH]
Born June 28, 1930 – Joe Schaumburger. Active in our two longest-running apas, the Fantasy Amateur Press Ass’n (FAPA) and Spectator Amateur Press Society (SAPS). President of the New Jersey SF Society and the Dickens Fellowship of New York. Founded Wossname (Pratchett fans). (Died 2011) [JH]
Born June 28, 1944 – Peggy Rae Sapienza. Daughter of Jack McKnight who made the first Hugo Award trophies. Active in FAPA. With husband Bob Pavlat was given the Big Heart, our highest service award. Chaired Smofcon 9. Vice-chair of ConFrancisco the 51st Worldcon. After BP’s death, married John Sapienza. Chaired BucConeer the 56th Worldcon, Nebula Awards Weekend 2012 and 2014, World Fantasy Convention 2014. Fan Guest of Honor at Chicon 7 the 70th Worldcon. When Japanese fans bid for and won the right, privilege, or typhoon of holding the 65th Worldcon, she was the North America agent, as probably no one else on the continent could have been. Our Gracious Host’s appreciation is here. (Died 2015) [JH]
Born June 28, 1945 – Jon Gustafson. Co-founded Moscon (Moscow, Idaho) and the Ass’n of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists (ASFA); ASFA Western Region Director until his death. Wrote “The Gimlet Eye” for Science Fiction Review and Pulphouse. Edited the Program Books for Westercon 46 and MagiCon the 50th Worldcon; the 1995 SFWA Handbook (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America); Chroma, the Art of Alex Schomburg. Founded JMG Appraisals, first professional SF art and book appraisal service in North America. Wouldn’t lead Art Show tours but walked around with me so I could lead them better. (Died 2002) [JH]
Born June 28, 1954 – Darcy Pattison, 66. Author and quilter; “Houses and Stars” on the cover of Quilting Today (September 1991); Great Arkansas Quilt Show 2002, 2007-2008. The Wayfinder among a dozen novels for us, a few shorter stories; thirty more books for children and adults. Leads the Novel-Revision Retreat. Five Nat’l Science Teaching Ass’n (NSTA) Outstanding Science Trade Books. Arkansas Governor’s Art Award. Translated into Arabic, Chinese, Danish, German, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish. [JH]
Born June 28, 1983 – Gina Damico, 37.Croak, Wax, and four more novels for us. Grew up under four feet of snow in Syracuse, New York; California now. Hardcore crocheter and knitter. Likes Utz cheese balls. Even she has seized the Iron Throne. Her Website is here. [JH]
(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
On Mel Brooks’ birthday, let John King Tarpinian tell you about attending the premiere of Blazing Saddles. Not the one in the movie, but the real one at the Pickwick Drive-in in Burbank.
“Attending on horseback was encouraged,” says John. “It was a block from what was then called the Pickwick Stables, now the Burbank Equestrian Center. What is now the entrance back then was a grass lawn, which is where George Burns, as God, made his final phone booth call to John Denver.”
Dolphins learn special foraging techniques from their mothers—and it’s now clear that they can learn from their buddies as well. Take the clever trick that some dolphins use to catch fish by trapping them in seashells. It turns out that they learn this skill by watching their pals do the job.
The discovery, reported in the journal Current Biology, helps reveal how groups of wild animals can transmit learned behaviors and develop their own distinct cultures.
“Dolphins are indeed very clever animals. So it makes sense that they are able to learn from others,” says Sonja Wild, a researcher at the University of Konstanz in Germany. She says young dolphins spend years in close association with their mothers and naturally tend to adopt their mothers’ ways, but this study shows that “dolphins are not only capable, but also motivated to learn from their peers.”
The bottlenose dolphins that live in Shark Bay, Western Australia, have been studied for decades, and scientists have identified over a thousand individuals by looking at the unique shape and markings of their dorsal fins. Researchers know what families the dolphins belong to, and keep track of their close associates. These dolphins use a variety ways of finding food—and not every dolphin uses every method.
Some dolphins, for examples, use sponges as tools. The dolphins break a conical sponge off the seafloor, and then wear it almost like a protective cap on their long snout, or beak. This apparently helps them probe into the rough sand of the rocky seafloor and search for buried prey.
Horror isn’t many readers’ first choice during times like these. And while the prospect of wallowing in the murkier end of the emotional spectrum isn’t exactly high on the list of anyone’s self-care regimen right now, there’s a lot to be said for confronting our demons on the printed page as well as in real life. Emma J. Gibbon gets it. The Maine-by-way-of-England author’s debut collection of short stories, Dark Blood Comes from the Feet, is an assortment of seventeen scalding, acidic tales that eat away at society’s thin veneer of normalcy, convention, and even reality. At the same time, these horrific confections leave a sweet aftertaste of humanity.
As with all great horror, Dark Blood puts its characters first. In “Janine,” a reporter interviews a broken, middle-aged woman whose experience during her prom night in the ’80s shattered lives as well as reality. It’s the doom-laden, small-town fable of rich boy romancing a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, as if Stephen King had written Pretty in Pink instead of John Hughes.
“The Tale of Bobby Red Eyes” is more mysterious but no less sympathetic to its titular character. In it, a group of children set out to investigate a local urban legend. The ending isn’t exactly happy. “If you say ‘Bobby Red Eyes’ three times in the mirror on Halloween, he’ll be your reflection,” whispers the story’s narrator, and Gibbon builds that incantatory force until it’s incandescently frightening. And in “The Last Witch in Florida,” Gibbon etches an endearingly weird portrait of an elderly witch who’s retired to the Sunshine State, stirring up magical mischief using pink plastic flamingoes and whatever she can scare up at the corner CVS.
Kazu, the narrator of Tokyo Ueno Station, had hoped that his death would bring him some rest, some sense of closure. The man led a life marked with hard work and intense pain; he spent his final years homeless, living in a makeshift shelter in a Tokyo park. But when he dies, he finds the afterlife — such as it is — is nothing like he expected.
“I thought that once I was dead, I would be reunited with the dead,” he reflects. “I thought something would be resolved by death … But then I realized that I was back in the park. I was not going anywhere, I had not understood anything, I was still stunned by the same numberless doubts, only I was now outside life looking in, as someone who has lost the capacity to exist, now ceaselessly thinking, ceaselessly feeling –“
Kazu’s painful past and ghostly present are the subject of Tokyo Ueno Station, the latest book by Korean-Japanese author Yu Miri to be published in English. It’s a relatively slim novel that packs an enormous emotional punch, thanks to Yu’s gorgeous, haunting writing and Morgan Giles’ wonderful translation.
…The controversial episodes violate a widespread Islamic belief that depictions of Muhammad or any of the other prophets of Islam are forbidden, as they encourage the worship of idols. The prohibitions cover images, drawings, statues and cartoons.
…The episodes not available on HBO Max include season five’s Super Best Friends and season 14’s 200 and 201. Those shows had previously been removed from a streaming deal with Hulu and also were axed on the official South Park website. Also not made available to HBO Max were season 10’s Cartoon Wars Part I and Cartoon Wars Part 2, although those episodes can still be streamed on the South Park website.
South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker were threatened in 2010 for the prior depictions of Muhammad. That prompted Comedy Central to remove voice and visual references in the episodes, and eventually to pull the entire episodes from streaming.
A teaspoon of soil from the Amazon contains as many as 1,800 microscopic life forms, of which 400 are fungi.
Largely invisible and hidden underground, the “dark matter” of life on Earth has “amazing properties”, which we’re just starting to explore, say scientists.
The vast majority of the estimated 3.8 million fungi in the world have yet to be formally classified.
Yet, fungi are surprisingly abundant in soil from Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.
To help protect the Amazon rainforest, which is being lost at an ever-faster rate, it is essential to understand the role of fungi, said a team of researchers led by Prof Alexandre Antonelli, director of science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
…Fungi in soil from tropical countries are particularly poorly understood. To find out about soil from the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, researchers collected samples of soil and leaf litter from four regions.
Genetic analysis revealed hundreds of different fungi, including lichen, fungi living on the roots of plants, and fungal pathogens, most of which are unknown or extremely rare. Most species have yet to be named and investigated.
Areas of naturally open grasslands, known as campinas, were found to be the richest habitat for fungi overall, where they may help the poorer soil take up nutrients.
Understanding soil diversity is critical in conservation actions to preserve the world’s most diverse forest in a changing world, said Dr Camila Ritter of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.
(16) VIDEO OF YESTERDAY. The Locus Awards virtual ceremony video is now available at YouTube.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John Hertz, and Carl Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nina.]