(1) FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. August 14 is Free Comic Book Day. Here are Marvel’s contributions to the event.
Readers can stop by their local comic shop for Free Comic Book Day 2021: Avengers/Hulk and Free Comic Book Day 2021: Spider-Man/Venom, featuring new stories that kick off the upcoming eras of fan-favorite heroes and lay the groundwork for major new storylines.
The new creative team behind Amazing Spider-Man is about to take the Spider-Man mythos beyond your wildest expectations! Get a first look at Ben Reilly as the new Spider-Man in a story by writer Zeb Wells and artist Patrick Gleason. Then, see what’s in store for Venom when Ram V., Al Ewing, and Bryan Hitch take over in a glimpse that will show you just how twisted their upcoming run will be!
(2) BLOGGER’S VERDICT ON VOX DAY. Blogger has elevated the threat level to Defcon 2. Yesterday this was the message users were getting when they tried to reach Vox Popoli: “This blog is under review due to possible Blogger Terms of Service violations and is open to authors only.” Today Blogger says flat out —
(3) LEM 100. In “A Century in Stanislaw Lem’s Cosmos”, the New York Times salutes those who are celebrating the author’s centenary.
In “The Eighth Voyage,” a short story by Stanislaw Lem, aliens from across the universe convene at the General Assembly of the United Planets. Lem’s hero, the space traveler Ijon Tichy, watches as an uninformed but overconfident creature steps forward and makes the case to admit Earth to the organization’s ranks. The planet — which he mispronounces as “Arrth” — is home to “elegant, amiable mammals” with “a deep faith in jergundery, though not devoid of ambifribbis,” the alien tells the delegates.
His sentimental appeal is well-received, until a second extraterrestrial stands up and begins to list humanity’s wrongdoings, which include meat-eating, war and genocide. Tichy listens as the aliens belittle us and label us misguided and corrupt, our planet a blip on their intergalactic radar.
This cosmic perspective — mischievous yet melancholy, and far beyond a human point of view — is a signature with Lem, an icon of science fiction best known to English-speaking readers as the author of the 1961 novel “Solaris.” Throughout a career spanning six decades that produced more translated works than any other Polish writer, he adopted the viewpoints of aliens, robots, a conscious supercomputer and a sentient planet, using these voices to reckon with philosophical quandaries….
(4) BRIEF REMINDER. Readercon 31, online only, takes place this weekend, August 13–15, 2021, with Guests of Honor: Jeffrey Ford & Ursula Vernon. Also “Memorial Guest of Honor” Vonda N. McIntyre. As they say:
Although Readercon is modeled on “science fiction conventions,” we have no art show, no costumes, no gaming, and almost no media. Instead, Readercon features a near-total focus on the written word.
Registration is $25, and “grants you access to the Discord server and recordings of all program items for six full months following the convention. After that time is up, most recordings will be made public, but some may be taken down.”
(5) ALTERNATE WHO. Radio Times says the Doctor Who “archeologists” have found more material: “Doctor Who’s Tom Baker to return for audio adaptation of lost scripts”.
Tom Baker is set to reprise his role as the Fourth Doctor in Big Finish’s upcoming adaptations of lost Doctor Who episodes.
The two episodes – Doctor Who and the Ark and Daleks! Genesis of Terror – were written by screenwriter John Lucarotti and Terry Nation, creator of the Daleks, respectively and are set for release in March 2023.
Big Finish recently rediscovered the episodes’ original scripts and initial story outlines and will be adapting them into audio adventures as part of their series, Doctor Who – The Lost Stories.
… producer Simon Guerrier said in a statement.
“The Ark in Space and Genesis of the Daleks are among the best-loved TV stories ever. We’ve uncovered first draft scripts by John Lucarotti and Terry Nation that are exciting, surprising and very different.”
(6) AUREALIS AWARDS JUDGES WANTED. The Aurealis Awards have put out a call for judges. The positions are open to Australian residents only. See complete guidelines at the link.
Judges are volunteers and are drawn from the Australian speculative fiction community, from diverse professions and backgrounds, including academics, booksellers, librarians, published authors, publishing industry professionals, reviewers and enthusiasts.
The only qualification necessary is a demonstrated knowledge of and interest in their chosen category (good time management skills and an ability to work in a team in an online environment are also essential).
(7) TRAILER TIME. This clip explains why vampires shouldn’t learn about chain letters – from What We Do in the Shadows.
(8) LORNA TOOLIS (1952-2021). Lorna Toolis, retired collection head of the Toronto Public Library’s Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, died of cancer on August 11. Toolis, notes Robert J. Sawyer in his tribute was also a 2017 inductee into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.
Earlier in life she was a member of ESFCAS, the Edmonton Science Fiction and Comic Arts Society. Toolis is survived by her husband, the Aurora Award-winning writer Michael Skeet, with whom she co-edited Tesseracts 4: Canadian Science Fiction published in 1992.
Toolis was interviewed last year by the Toronto Public Library blog for “Merril Collection at 50: Stories from the Spaced Out Library” (the latter was the collection’s original name). Among her memories —
The Merril Collection has hosted so many prominent authors/editors/scholars in the world of Speculative Fiction. Have you ever been starstruck?
Lorna: I counted myself amazingly fortunate. Over the years, I had lunch with Margaret Atwood and dinner with Gene Wolfe. Neil Gaiman was our guest three times, as was Cory Doctorow. John Scalzi was a huge hit with the audience and returned to speak several times by request. When Lois Bujold was our guest, her kids were having trouble with their grammar, and I gave her my personal copy of The Transitive Vampire. Robert Jordan was a guest and he was an absolute sweetheart.
(9) NEAL CONAN OBIT. Retired radio host Neal Conan died August 10 at the age of 71. Jim Freund recalled Conan’s science fiction connections from early in his career at WBAI in New York.
…My favorite regular program Bai’ did was “Of Unicorns and Universes,” which he co-produced and was often hosted by Neal Conan. Neal, while primarily a producer of some of our best Public Affairs programming, (at the same time Paul Fischer was our News Director,) was quite the sf fan. He worked with Samuel Delany on the 2-hour adaptation of “The Star Pit,” and some years later, when I was co-host on Thursday and Fridays of Hour of the Wolf with Margot Adler, he was an occasional co-host on Mondays. (I usually engineered.) I was quite surprised at how much of a Heinlein fan he was….
Conan would be hired by NPR and spend 36 years at the network. Robert Siegel paid tribute to his work there in “Neal Conan, Former Host Of NPR’s ‘Talk Of The Nation,’ Has Died”.
…Later at NPR, he held an astonishing variety of jobs. He was at various times the line producer and the executive producer of ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Back in 1987, he ran NPR News for a year. He was a reporter.
… In 1991, while reporting from southern Iraq on the war to liberate Kuwait, Neal was taken captive by the Iraqi Republican Guard, along with New York Times reporter Chris Hedges. It took diplomatic efforts to get them released….
[SIEGEL]: Neal Conan’s most prominent role at NPR was hosting Talk Of The Nation. …He tried out for that job the week that began on Monday, September 10, 2001. Sept. 11 was Neal’s Day 2….
The New York Times has also published an obituary.
(10) MEMORY LANE.
- 1991 – Thirty years ago at Chicon V at which Marta Randall was the Toastmaster, Edward Scissorhands wins the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. Other nominated works for the Con for this Award were Total Recall, Ghost, Back to the Future III and The Witches.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born August 12, 1894 — Dick Calkins. He’s best remembered for being the first artist to draw the Buck Rogers comic strip. He also wrote scripts for the Buck Rogers radio program. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Complete Newspaper Dailies in eight volumes on Hermes Press collects these strips. They’re one hundred fifty dollars a volume. (Died 1962.)
- Born August 12, 1929 — John Bluthal. He was Von Neidel in The Mouse on the Moon which sounds silly and fun. He’s in Casino Royale as both a Casino Doorman and a MI5 Man. (Why pay the Union salaries?) He had roles in films best forgotten such as Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World. (Really. Don’t ask.) And he did play a blind beggar in The Return of the Pink Panther as well, and his last genre role was as Professor Pacoli in the beloved Fifth Element. Lest I forget he voiced Commander Wilbur Zero, Jock Campbell and other characters in Fireball XL5. (Died 2018.)
- Born August 12, 1931 — William Goldman. Writer of The Princess Bride which he adapted for the film. Wrote the original Stepford Wives script and King’s Hearts in Atlantis and Misery as well. He was hired to adapt “Flowers for Algernon“ as a screenplay but the story goes that Cliff Robertson intensely disliked his screenplay and it was discarded for one by Stirling Silliphant that became Charly. (Died 2018.)
- Born August 12, 1947 — John Nathan-Turner. He produced Doctor Who from 1980 until it was cancelled in 1989. He finished as the longest-serving Doctor Who producer. He cast Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors. Other than Who, he had a single production credit, the K-9 and Company: A Girl’s Best Friend film. He wrote two books, Doctor Who – The TARDIS Inside Out and Doctor Who: The Companions. He would die of a massive infection just a year before the announcement the show was being revived. (Died 2002.)
- Born August 12, 1954 — Sam J. Jones, 67. Flash Gordon in the 1980 version of that story. Very, very campy. A few years later, he played the lead role in a TV adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit which I’ve not seen and am now very curious about as the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes don’t have good things to say about it. He also had the lead in The Highwayman (name of his character there) which is described as a mix of Mad Max and Knight Rider. It lasted nine episodes in the late Eighties. Anyone seen it?
- Born August 12, 1960 — Brenda Cooper, 61. Best known for her YA Silver Ship series of which The Silver Ship and the Sea won an Endeavour Award, and her Edge of Dark novel won another such Award. Due co-authored Building Harlequin’s Moon with Larry Niven, and a fair amount of short fiction with him. She has a lot of short fiction, much collected in Beyond the WaterFall Door: Stories of the High Hills and Cracking the Sky. She’s well-stocked at the usual suspects.
- Born August 12, 1966 — Brian Evenson, 55. I consider him a horror writer (go ahead, disagree) and his Song for the Unraveling of the World collection did win a Shirley Jackson Award though it also won a World Fantasy Award. He’s also won an International Horror Guild Award for his Wavering Knife collection. He even co-authored a novel with Rob Zombie, The Lords of Salem.
- Born August 12, 1992 — Cara Jocelyn Delevingne, 29. Her first genre role was as a mermaid in Pan. She then shows up in James Gunn’s Suicide Squad as June Moone / Enchantress, in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets as Laureline. She was in Carnival Row as Vignette Stonemoss. It was a fantasy noir series on Amazon Prime.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
- Frank and Ernest discover the instructions for Excalibur.
(13) I TALK FOR THE TREES. NPR’s Elizabeth Blair says “Dr. Seuss Warned Us 50 Years Ago, But We Didn’t Listen To ‘The Lorax’”.
Call it fate or an unfortunate coincidence that Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax celebrates its 50th anniversary the same week the United Nations releases an urgent report on the dire consequences of human-induced climate change. The conflict between the industrious, polluting Once-ler and the feisty Lorax, who “speaks for the trees,” feels more prescient than ever.
“Once-ler!” he cried with a cruffulous croak.
“Once-ler! You’re making such smogulous smoke!
My poor Swomee-Swans…why, they can’t sing a note!
No one can sing who has smog in his throat.
(14) DON’T SCRY FOR ME ARGENTINA. Romina Garber, in conversation with Dhonielle Clayton, will discuss her new book Cazadora on Thursday, August 19 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register here.
Werewolves. Witches. Romance. Resistance. Enter a world straight out of Argentine folklore…
Following the events of Lobizona, Manu and her friends cross the mystical border into Kerana–a cursed realm in Argentina–searching for allies and a hiding place. As they chase down leads about the Coven–a mythical resistance manada that might not even exist–the Cazadores chase down leads about Manu, setting up traps to capture and arrest her.
Just as it seems the Cazadores have Manu and her friends cornered, the Coven answers their call for help. As Manu catches her breath among these non-conforming Septimus, she discovers they need a revolution as much as she does.
(15) THE LOTTERY. Did you plan to live forever? Don’t. “NASA Says an Asteroid Will Have a Close Brush With Earth. But Not Until the 2100s” says the New York Times.
An asteroid the size of the Empire State Building has a slight chance of hitting Earth.
Don’t worry. You’ll long be dead before that has any chance of happening. So will your children. Probably all of your grandchildren, too.
At a news conference on Wednesday, NASA scientists said there was a 1-in-1,750 chance that an asteroid named Bennu, which is a bit wider than the Empire State Building is tall, could collide with Earth between now and 2300.
That is actually slightly higher than an earlier estimate of 1 in 2,700 over a shorter period, between now and 2200….
(16) MARK YOUR CALENDAR. On the other hand, if you are going to be around for at least another century, Gizmodo has a suggestion for your bucket list: “John Malkovich and Robert Rodriguez Have Made A Movie No One Will See For 100 Years”.
Think the secrecy around the biggest Hollywood blockbusters is crazy? They don’t come close to what John Malkovich and Robert Rodriguez are doing. The pair has collaborated for a film that no one will see for 100 years. Literally.
This isn’t some joke. They’ve made a film, called 100 Years, which is being placed in a special time-locked safe that won’t open again until November 18, 2115. Why? Well, because it’s promotion for Louis XIII Cognac, an ultra-luxury liquor that is aged 100 years. Bottles currently on shelves were made in 1915 so they decided a piece of art that speaks to their commitment to quality was something worth doing….
Gizmodo links to three teasers: 100 Years: The Movie You’ll Never See Nature Teaser”, “100 Years: The Movie You’ll Never See Retro Teaser”, and “100 Years: The Movie You’ll Never See Future Teaser”.
(17) FILL IN THE BLANC. Gabriel Iglesias was on Colbert last night to talk about Space Jam 2.
Comedian Gabriel Iglesias is the voice of Speedy Gonzales in “Space Jam 2” and he was very excited to get the role without even auditioning.
(18) MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Nerdist says you will finally have a chance to see it: “Cult Sci-Fi Favorite BLAKE’S 7 Is Coming to BritBox”. Get your money ready.
For fans of classic British science fiction, there are a few names that always pop up. Doctor Who, naturally, stands head and shoulders above everything else. Other favorites like Sapphire & Steel, The Prisoner, and the shows of Gerry Anderson pop up as well. But for a certain age of fan, the cream of the crop is Blake’s 7. The show was the BBC’s direct attempt to capitalize on the success of Star Wars. Blake’s 7 ran for four seasons from 1978 to 1981 and has been pretty hard to find in North America lately. That is, until now. The entire series will debut on BritBox beginning August 13….
(19) TOSSED IN SPACE. The latest issue of Nature warns: “World must work to avoid a catastrophic space collision”.
Governments and companies urgently need to share data on the mounting volume of satellites and debris orbiting Earth.
There’s an awful lot of stuff orbiting Earth, with more arriving all the time. More than 29,000 satellites, pieces of rockets and other bits of debris large enough to track from the ground are circling the planet. Smaller items number in the millions. The Californian company SpaceX alone has launched some 1,700 satellites over the past 2 years as part of its Starlink network, which provides broadband Internet, with thousands more planned. Other companies are also planning such megaconstellations, and more and
more nations are launching or plan to launch satellites. This growing congestion is drastically increasing the risk of collisions in space….
(20) SHORT SUIT. In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport says NASA’s Artemis mission to the Moon could be delayed because the program to design a new spacesuit has spent $1 billion but delays have meant they will only have two flight-ready spacesuits prepared by fiscal year 2025. “NASA IG says 2024 moon landing won’t happen, blames space suit delays”.
Ever since the White House directed NASA to return astronauts to the moon by 2024 as part of its Artemis program, there have been all sorts of daunting challenges: The rocket the space agency would use has suffered setbacks and delays; the spacecraft that would land astronauts on the surface is not yet completed and was held up by the losing bidders; and Congress hasn’t come through with the funding NASA says is necessary.But another reason the 2024 goal may not be met is that the spacesuits needed by the astronauts to walk on the lunar surface won’t be ready in time and the total development program, which ultimately will produce just two flight-ready suits, could cost more than $1 billion…
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Loki” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say that Loki “has a Comic-Con’s worth of alternate Lokis” including Richard E Grant, who “can make you love anything he does, even if he’s dressed like Kermit The Frog and talks nonsense for 30 minutes straight.” Bonus: they send up Tom Hiddleston’s Chinese vitamin commercial!
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Richard Horton, Lloyd Penney, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]