The organizing entity is World Fantasy Convention 2023, a Kansas not-for-profit incorporated earlier this year by Ruth Lichtwardt and Rosemary Williams. Lichtwardt’s experience includes chairing the 2016 Worldcon in Kansas City, and Williams is a conrunner and published author.
The WFC 2023 Guests of Honor are:
Kij Johnson writes fantasy and science fiction including the novels The Fox Woman and Fudoki; the short story collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees; the novella, The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe; and more than fifty stories. She’s won the Hugo, World Fantasy, Nebula, and Sturgeon Awards, as well as the Grand prix de l’imaginaire and others. She’s worked in publishing, comics, games and miscellaneous tech companies; currently she teaches creative writing at the University of Kansas, where she was associate director for the J. Wayne and Elsie M. Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction and currently serves in the same capacity for The Ad Astra Center. She teaches novel masterclasses and short fiction workshops online and in person. She lives in Kansas.
Vincent Villafranca has been sculpting since childhood. In 1991, while working on a degree in history, he took an elective art course and was introduced to bronze-casting. Vincent instantly became fascinated with the idea of preserving his small sculptures in metal. After graduating, he worked in a bronze foundry just outside of Austin, Texas where he further developed his sculpting, mold-making and bronze-casting skills. He continues to make a wide array of sculptures, from tiny, intricate dragons to large-scale futuristic robots. Vincent is a lifelong fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy, thus, he was quite honored to design the World Fantasy Award, the 2013 Hugo Award and the Ray Bradbury Nebula Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation. He lives in north Texas with his ecologist wife and an assortment of animals.
Elizabeth Leggett is a two time fan artist Hugo winner, gold award winner in the digital category in Infected By Art 10 and bronze winner overall. She is a gallery artist, and science fiction and fantasy novel cover designer. Her clients include KEEP Contemporary gallery in Santa Fe, NM, Prince of Cats Literary Productions, Melinda Snodgrass, DreamForge Magazine, Uproar Books, Houghton, Mifflin and Harcourt, Walter Jon Williams and more. Her work can be seen in Spectrum Volumes 22, 24, 26, and 27 and the premiere issue of Spectrum Art Quarterly. She can also be found in Infected By Art Volumes 3-10. She is a five time Chesley nominee.
Jonathan Strahan (www.jonathanstrahan.com.au) is a Hugo and World Fantasy Award award-winning editor, anthologist, and podcaster. He has edited more than 90 books, is reviews editor for Locus, a consulting editor for Tor.com, and the co-host and producer of the Hugo-winning Coode Street Podcast.
…Kim Stanley Robinson, who described himself as a science fiction writer, asked how Buddhism can help science. His Holiness told him that scientists have been interested to discuss ways to achieve peace of mind because they recognise that if the mind is disturbed people won’t be happy. He emphasised the benefits of discovering more about mental consciousness and learning to train it on the basis of reasoning…
(2) VERTLIEB MEDICAL UPDATE. Steve Vertlieb returned to Facebook as he begins his long recovery from major heart surgery.
… My time on Facebook will, for the present, be limited, I fear, in the days ahead, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ve survived. I came home from the hospital yesterday (Thursday) after a ten day stay following major open-heart surgery. The procedure lasted approximately six hours, during which my surgeons replaced one heart valve, repaired another, stitched back together the hole in my heart, and stopped my internal bleeding.
This procedure was far more involved and life threatening than I ever imagined or was advised. The second time, it seems, is not the charm, but the entire bracelet. They had to cut through an already existing incision, breaking once healed bones protecting my heart cavity yet again, in order to reach and operate upon the newly troubled areas. My recovery, consequently, will also be far more difficult than my original transition back to health, healing, and wholeness twelve years ago.
The good news, however, is that when I asked my surgeon the chances for a complete recovery, he responded “ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.” Doing anything beyond menial movement and chores over the next several months will be severely limited. My brother Erwin is here with me for the next month or so, and he’ll be taking care of me….
(3) LOWREY ARRIVES. Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate “Orange Mike” Lowrey has returned. “As of 5 p.m. Milwaukee (11 p.m. GMT), I’m off the plane and have already been put back to work here at the bookstore. (Yes, the gout’s still painful.)” Welcome back! Sorry about the gout…
In the meantime, since I’m not currently editing a year’s best anthology series for anyone, I’ll try to note some of the best short fiction I’m reading about the place. My favourite story of the moment is Maureen McHugh’s wonderful “The Goldfish Man“, from Uncanny 45. Because it’s online and shareable, you should go read it if you see this. It would be in my year’s best.
Sadly, those were not successful and they opted not to proceed. I have been looking for new publisher for the series, but to no avail so far.
It was news to me.
(5) I’M WORKING, REALLY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Anne Helen Petersen explains how remote workers can show the home office they’re busy by turning work into a LARP: “LARPing your job” at Culture Study.
…The compulsion to LARP is for those who have to feel accountable to some larger salary god, one who takes earthly shape in the form of our manager, our manager’s manager, and/or our coworkers, all of whom are constantly deciding whether or not we deserve the salaried, privileged position in which we’ve found ourselves. This is largely bullshit, of course: yes, our managers do think about how much we’re producing, but only the worst of them are clocking how many hours our green dot is showing up on Slack. Most of our coworkers are too worried about LARPing their own jobs to worry about how much you’re LARPing yours.
We’re performing, in other words, largely for ourselves. Justifying to ourselves that we deserve the place that we’ve found ourselves. Justifying to ourselves that writing for the internet is a vocation that deserves steady payment. At heart, this is a manifestation of a general undervaluing of our own work: we still navigate the workplace as if getting paid to produce knowledge means we’re getting away with something, and have to do everything possible to make sure no one realizes they’ve made a massive mistake.
Of course, there are myriad cultural and societal forces that have led us to this point of disbelief. Every time someone made fun of my undergrad degree, or my dissertation, or my Ph.D. Every time someone made fun of BuzzFeed, or denigrated writing about celebrities or pop culture generally. Every time someone at a family gathering said something like “must be fun to get paid to go to the movies?” All of those messages come together to tell me that my work is either easy or pointless. No wonder I spend so much time trying to communicate how hard I work…
(6) LOUD AND CLEAR. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is a documentary that Penguin Random House UK putout in late April about the new Discworld audiobooks. This is corporate promotion but still worth 20 minutes in part because you get a sense of how an audiobook is made and also because you get to hear some of the actors who are narrating, as well as Pratchett’s literary executor, Rob Wilkins. One important point is that these books have been called “full cast” audiobooks and they’re not; a single actor narrates each one of the Discworld subseries, with the great Bill Nighy providing the footnotes. Of the narrators I thought Andy Serkis (who now has a pompadour) was the most interesting. “Turning Terry Pratchett’s Discworld into Audiobooks”.
This documentary follows Penguin Audio’s ambitious project of turning the entire Discworld catalog into audiobook format. Click here to find out more: https://linktr.ee/Discworld This is Discworld like you’ve never heard it before. With an incredible cast of names from British stage and screen, including Bill Nighy, Peter Serafinowicz, Indira Varma, Colin Morgan, Andy Serkis and Sian Clifford. This ambitious project, taking 40 unabridged books, containing nearly 4 million words, recording over 135 days and featuring over 420 hours of audio is being produced and directed by Neil Gardner – the multiple award-winning radio writer & director – who is a life-long Terry Pratchett superfan.
… When I looked at very different libraries all across the country, I saw the same low supply of science fiction that I had observed in that first elementary school library, but I also saw a high demand for it. In each library, only about 3% of the books were science fiction. I expected to see a corresponding low number of checkouts. Instead, the records showed that science fiction books were getting checked out more often per book than other genres. While realistic fiction books were checked out, on average, one to three times per book and fantasy books were checked out three to four times per book, science fiction books’ checkout numbers were as high as six times per book. These libraries may not have many science fiction books available, but the children seem to compensate by collectively checking out the available books more often.
The librarians were just as surprised as I was. Library software doesn’t keep track of each book’s genre, and so librarians have no easy way of knowing that science fiction books are being checked out so often. Librarians are, however, aware that there isn’t much science fiction available. There just aren’t as many choices as there are for other genres…
Nearly 30 years since the Scott Bakula-led original series signed off after a five-season run on NBC, the broadcast network has handed out a formal series order to the sequel series starring Raymond Lee.
The drama, which was formally picked up to pilot in January, recently wrapped production and is one of a handful of comedies and dramas that is expected to be in formal consideration for the 2022-23 fall schedule.
Written by God Friended Me and Alcatraz duo Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt — who will now have two shows on NBC with rookie La Brea having already been renewed — the new Quantum Leap follows a new team that has been assembled to restart the Quantum Leap project in the hopes of understanding the mysteries behind the machine and the man who created it 30 years since Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the accelerator and vanished….
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1960 – [By Cat Eldridge.]
This is Gart Williams, age thirty-eight, a man protected by a suit of armor all held together by one bolt. Just a moment ago, someone removed the bolt, and Mr. Williams’ protection fell away from him, and left him a naked target. He’s been cannonaded this afternoon by all the enemies of his life. His insecurity has shelled him, his sensitivity has straddled him with humiliation, his deep-rooted disquiet about his own worth has zeroed in on him, landed on target, and blown him apart. Mr. Gart Williams, ad agency exec, who in just a moment, will move into the Twilight Zone—in a desperate search for survival. — opening narration of “A Stop at Willoughby”
Sixty-two years ago this evening CBS aired TheTwilight Zone’s “A Stop at Willoughby”. So why am I essaying this Scroll? It is because, although I cannot give you an original source for it, it is said that Rod Serling cited this as his favorite story from the first season of the series. This being a story of the Twilight Zone, I’m willing to accept that as a true story.
So “A Stop at Willoughby” concerns a man so lonely, so unhappy with his life that he starts dreaming as he takes a short nap on the train while commuting home one snowy November day. Waking he finds his dream is real and he is in Willoughby in 1888, which Serling describes as a “peaceful, restful place, where a man can slow down to a walk and live his life full measure.” Even the train, where he’s the only passenger, is eighty years old.
He returns to Willoughby several times where he’s created as if he’s actually resident there but this being the reality of the Twilight Zone, things don’t end as he hopes. I am most definitely not saying what happens as that’d be a major spoiler and there might actually be someone here who hasn’t yet seen it. Though I find that extremely unlikely.
It shows up repeatedly in popular culture with some instances I’ll note here. The For All Time film starring Mark Harmon was based on this episode. An animated Rugrats “Family Reunion” episode has all of the Pickles family taking the train to Willoughby, with the conductor saying, “Next stop Willoughby!” And in Stargate Atlantis’ “The Real World” episode, Dr. Elizabeth Weir awakens in the Acute Care Unit of Willoughby State Hospital.
The Twilight Zone is streaming on Paramount +.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 6, 1914 — Randall Jarrell. Author of the ever so charming The Animal Family which is illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Go read it — you’ll be smiling afterwards. The Anchor Book of Stories has more of his genre friendly stories. (Died 1965.)
Born May 6, 1915 — Orson Welles. Certainly the broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” in 1938 was his pinnacle of genre success, but for the Federal Theatre Project he also did the 1936 adaptation of Macbeth with an entirely African American cast that was absolutely amazing. That was known as the Voodoo Macbeth which might give you an idea of what he did to it. He would later do a more straightforward film of Macbeth. And of course he made a most excellent radio Shadow as well! (Died 1985.)
Born May 6, 1946 — Nancy Kilpatrick, 76. Fangoria called her “Canada’s answer to Anne Rice”. I do recommend the anthology she edited Danse Macabre: Close Encounters with the Reaper as it’s a most excellent horror collection.
Born May 6, 1952 — Michael O’Hare. He was best known for playing Commander Jeffrey Sinclair in the first season of Babylon 5. Other genre appearances were limited — he played Fuller in the 1984 film C.H.U.D, was Jimmy in the “Heretic” episode of Tales from the Darkside and appeared as a thug on the subway train in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. And yes, he’s one of Babylon 5 actors who died well before they should’ve. (Died 2012.)
Born May 6, 1961 — Carlos Lauchu, 61. Anubis, the captain of Ra’s personal guard, in the original Stargate film. His only other genre acting was two appearances in the Monsters anthology series.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro has Superman explaining why you can’t afford to be subtle in comics.
It’s not every day that one can write a sentence that reasonably connects the Fox animated series “Bob’s Burgers,” the House of Terror museum of fascist and communist regimes in Hungary, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe — but in 2022, anything is possible.
Let’s back up. Ever since the Marvel Studios series “Moon Knight” debuted on Disney+ on March 30, eagle-eyed viewers have noticed a series of semi-conspicuous QR codes in the background of scenes in the first, second and fifth episodes of the show. Scanning the codes sends viewers to a special website that contains a weekly free web comic featuring the Moon Knight character through the run of the show, from his first appearance in 1975 through his most recent issue in 2019.
It’s a savvy way to expand viewers’ comic book knowledge for a character even serious Marvel fans may never have read, and it’s been wildly successful: According to Disney, the landing page has been visited over 1.5 million times, leading to over 500,000 full comics read to date…
(13) DOUBLE-CROSSOVER. [Item by Danny Sichel.] in 2004, KC Carlson compiled an Oral History of the JLA/Avengers crossover from the early 80s. The one that was never published. The Oral History wasn’t published either — possibly because it presents a rather unpleasant image of many of the people involved. But now here it is. At Comics Beat:
George Pérez: “It just ended up being one thing after another — accusations both from DC and Marvel towards each other — until I realized there was a lot more private politics that seemed to be going on which were killing the book I really wanted to work on. After a while I became very bitter about the entire thing. It was never more apparent to me that, as much as I love drawing comics, it’s still a business, and politics and petty squabbles can kill a project, even such a potential money-maker.” — Modern Masters Volume 2: George Pérez, 2003
George nailed it. If there ever was a single comics project that embodied company politics, petty squabbles, and flying accusations, it was the original JLA/Avengers crossover, scheduled to be jointly published between Marvel Comics and DC Comics in the summer of 1983 — the fifth in a series of highly successful team-ups. Pairing the legendary Justice League of America (JLA) and the mighty Avengers, this project would include virtually all of the quintessential characters from the two companies’ lineups….
George Pérez: “I had been drawing for two weeks and was already starting page 21, when I received a call from Len Wein saying they needed to find out what changes I was making in the plot. (DC staffer) Joey Cavalieri had to do a piecemeal plot based on things I had changed — ideas, if not actual explanations — since I hadn’t quite worked out everything as I was going along yet.” — Comics Interview #6, August 1983
Gerry Conway, unwilling to do another draft of the plot, leaves the project at this point. Cavalieri, in consultation with Perez and Wein, cobbles together a new plot — draft #3 — and Giordano rushes it into Shooter’s hands….
… The introduction to the collection is a quick summary of the rise of a totalitarian regime, New Dawn, whose control over society was possible because “we accepted their offer that an eye in the sky might protect us from… ourselves.” With the assurance of total visibility, an immediate problem emerged regarding privacy and deviancy, and the regime decided that “what they struggled to see, they began to deem not worthy of being seen—inconsistent, off standard. Began calling it dirty—unfit to be swallowed by their eyes.”
In the backstory that this introduction presents, the new social category of the dirty started being applied to modes of thought and identity that did not fit the rigid standards of the regime. The stories that compose this collection explore various characters’ struggle to reclaim, preserve, and even celebrate the dirty….
Part of the first episode of the new series, titled “Strange New Worlds” itself, sees the Enterprise’s Captain Pike (Anson Mount), Lt. Spock (Ethan Peck), and Lt. Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) beam down to an alien world, Kiley 279, in an attempt to recover missing Starfleet officers in the wake of a First Contact meeting. The trio arrives to find the world a pre-warp civilization being torn apart by a conflict between the planetary government and a local uprising…
…Shortly after the away team lands on Kiley 279, they come across a crowd of civilians watching a news broadcast on an outside monitor, discussing an overnight series of protests taking place across the Kiley civilization. However, the footage shown is from much closer to our home than the world of Star Trek: it’s footage taken during the late 2013-early 2014 civil unrest in Ukraine known as “Euromaidan,” or the Maidan Uprising.
…Footage from the Maidan Uprising is not the only archival protest footage used in the episode—later on in the episode, Captain Pike shows the Kiley 279 government a selection of footage from Earth’s history as a precedent to World War III in Star Trek’s timeline, notably using footage from the January 6th 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol as Pike draws a direct line between a “second Civil War, and then the Eugenics War, and then finally just World War III.”…
…Further, IHOP has a new point-of-sale system that streamlines orders across channels and a franchisee is also testing a robot that can deliver food to guests and bus tables. Robotic servers are starting to pop up across the casual dining segment, including at Denny’s and Chili’s, the latter of which just expanded deployment to 51 more restaurants.
It’s too early to tell if such an approach is worth a broader rollout. Peyton did say, however, that the robot makes servers more productive and efficient and “guests and kids think it’s super cool.”
“Also, borrowing from QSR, we’re testing a robotic arm that can work the fryer station,” he said. “If we have one less cook in the kitchen, this can help them be more efficient and productive.”…
This is ESP_073055_1675 from HiRISE camera onboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Frame height is approximately 1km taken from an orbit height of 250km. Source was denoised, blended, graded, rescaled & animated to create the footage. HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) is the most powerful camera ever sent to another planet, one of six instruments onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The color you see in HiRISE images is not the “true” color human eyes would see on Mars. This is because the HiRISE camera views Mars in a different part of the spectrum than human eyes do. The camera has three different color filtered CCDs: red, blue-green, and near-infrared. False color imagery is extremely valuable because it illuminates the distinction between different materials and textures.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, Andrew (Not Werdna), Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
(1) BIPOC WRITERS INVITED. Editor Jonathan Strahan is reserving up to three spots in his upcoming anthology The Book of Witches for new BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other People of Colour) writers. “Open submission period for BIPOC* writers for The Book of Witches”. He will be taking submissions from March 14-18. Complete guidelines at the link.
Following on from the award-winning success of The Book of Dragons, Harper Voyager will publish an exciting new anthology, The Book of Witches, edited by Jonathan Strahan in the fall of 2023. Like The Book of Dragons, The Book of Witches will be a big, inclusive, illustrated anthology of fiction and poetry, this time looking at “witches”, more specifically your witch and what it means to you.
So far writers who have agreed to contribute to the book include Linda Addison, S.A. Chakraborty, Zen Cho, P. Djèlí Clark, Indrapramit Das, Amal El Mohtar, Andrea Hairston, Millie Ho, Nalo Hopkinson, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Cassandra Khaw, Fonda Lee, Darcie Little Badger, Ken Liu, Karen Lord, Usman T. Malik, Tochi Onyebuchi, C.L. Polk, Rebecca Roanhorse, Kelly Robson, Angela Slatter, Rivers Solomon, Andrea Stewart, Sheree Renée Thomas, and Tade Thompson, and we are reserving up to three spots in the final book for new BIPOC writers.
If you are a BIPOC writer – regardless of whether you’re widely published or just starting out – and would like to see your work appear in a major anthology like The Book of Witches, we’d love to hear from you. Just check out the submissions guidelines below and send us your story.
(2) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. The American Museum of Natural History will livestream Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Year in Review” on February 26. Purchase tickets at the link.
Find out what’s new in the cosmos as Tyson, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, reviews top stories from 2021, including notable commercial space launches, missions to Mars, visits to asteroids, and sky phenomena.
This program will be presented online. Viewing information will be provided with your purchase confirmation. Only one ticket is needed per household.
(3) APPLY FOR SLF’S BOSE GRANT. The Speculative Literature Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2022 A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature. Applications will be open through January 31. Complete guidelines are here.
The $1,000 A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature, co-sponsored by the SLF and DesiLit, is awarded to a South Asian or South Asian diaspora writer developing speculative fiction.
The grant is named in memory of Ashim Chandra Bose, a lover of books, especially science fiction and fantasy, and was founded by his children, Rupa Bose and Gautam Bose.
(5) NASA’S WEBB TELESCOPE LEADER PROFILED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Courtland Milloy profiles James Webb Space Telescope program administrator Gregory Robinson, who is Black. His parents were tobacco sharecroppers and he began his student days in a segregated school, but after graduating from Virginia Union University and then from Howard University joined NASA in 1989 and worked his way up to his current position. Gregory Robinson, Webb telescope director, has had his own journey – The Washington Post
…“I often reflect on how dedicated, smart, encouraging and supportive they were during that time,” Robinson said of his teachers. “They’d tell us that we could do anything we wanted if we had an education. That appealed to me because I wanted to get out of Danville and have a better life.”
“I wanted to go to college but didn’t know if I could afford it,” he recalled. Fortunately, along with his knack for math, he’d been a pretty good high school quarterback. He earned himself a football scholarship to Virginia Union University in Richmond, packed two bags, and caught a Greyhound bus to the university.
At Virginia Union, he earned a bachelor’s degree in math. Then he transferred to Howard University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He later earned an MBA from Averett College in Danville and attended Harvard University’s Senior Executive Fellows Program at the Kennedy School of Government.
While attending Howard, he met students who had done internships with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. He was intrigued by what he heard. “They were doing really interesting things, unlocking many secrets, mysteries and unknowns about our solar system, our Earth systems,” he said….
…However, the overabundance of certain clichés can be a tad tiresome, especially for fans of sci-fi. This is because the genre insists on recycling the same old symbols and allegories, over and over until all meaning is drained out of the story, leaving behind nothing more than a stale skeleton of something that used to be original at one point….
One of the offenders on their list:
7 Hacking Into Computers Is Easy Enough For Anyone
The process of hacking, particularly methods that rely on brute force, is long, slow, and painfully dull. Most people wouldn’t have the attention span to work out the countless algorithmic permutations required to break into secure computing systems, but sci-fi would have audiences believe that anyone can become a hacking professional.
Even scientist characters aren’t immune to this trope: in Independence Day (1995), they somehow write a virus and inject it into the alien’s computer, despite having no formal knowledge of extraterrestrial tech. Similarly, R2-D2 from Star Wars is capable of hacking practically any computing device with ease, even though his build is relatively ancient.
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1937 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Eighty-five years ago, the German adaptation of The Hound of Baskervilles, Der Hund von Baskerville, as directed by Carl Lamac premiered in Bavaria from the screenplay by Carla von Stackelberg.
Two individuals are credited as playing Holmes, Bruno Güttner doing the physical work and Siegfried Schürenberg doing the voice. The latter dubbed most of Clark Gable’s films into German including Gone with the Wind. Fritz Odemar was Dr. Watson it was the ninth German film adaptation of this story with the first being in 1914. (There’s only been three such adaptations since then.)
This was one of two films that was found in Adolf Hitler’s bunker by the Allies in 1945. The other film was Der Mann, der Sherlock Holmes war (The Man who was Sherlock Holmes), another Thirties film.
If you’re interested, you can see it here with English subtitles.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 12, 1913 — Marc Davis. He was one of Disney’s Nine Old Men who created some of Disney’s most-remembered animated cartoons from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to The Rescuers in the Seventies. He worked on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty and A Hundred and One Dalmantians. (Died 2000.)
Born January 12, 1916 — House Peters Jr. Though he’s best remembered as Mr. Clean in the Procter & Gamble commercials of the Fifties and Sixties, he did appear in a fair amount of SFF including Flash Gordon, Batman and Robin, King of the Rocket Men, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Red Planet Mars, Target Earth and The Twilight Zone. Here’s one of the pre-animated Mr. Clean commercials. (Died 2008.)
Born January 12, 1937 — Shirley Eaton, 85. Bond Girl Jill Masterson in Goldfinger, and yes, she got painted gold in it. She was not nude as is generally thought but was wearing a monokini. She also shows up as the title character in The Million Eyes of Sumuru, the Sax Rohmer based film we discussed last year. Her other significant role would be as Dr. Margaret E. ‘Maggie’ Hanford in Around the World Under the Sea. She retired from acting in the late Sixties.
Born January 12, 1948 — Tim Underwood, 74. Bibliographer with such works as Fantasy and Science Fiction by Jack Vance (done with Jack Miller), Shameless Art: Paintings of Dames, Dolls, Pin-ups, and Bad Girls (genre adjacent at the very least) and Stephen King Spills the Beans: Career-Spanning Interviews with America’s Bestselling Author.
Born January 12, 1951 — Kirstie Alley, 71. She’s here for being Saavik on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, her very first film. It was, errr, interesting reading the various rumors why this was her only Trek film. Her SFF experience otherwise was brief limited to being the villain’s ex-girlfriend in Runaway, an uncredited handmaiden on Quark, and being in the Village of the Damned as Dr. Susan Verner.
Born January 12, 1952 — Walter Mosley, 70. I have read his most excellent Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins series but hadn’t been aware that he wrote SF of which he has four novels to date, Blue Light, Futureland: Nine Stories of an Imminent Future, The Wave, and 47. There’s a Jack Kirby art book called Maximum Fantastic Four that was conceived of and orchestrated by him. Interestingly enough, he’s got a writing credit for episode of Masters of Science Fiction called “Little Brother” where Stephen Hawking was the Host according to IMdB.
Born January 12, 1952 — Rockne S. O’Bannon, 70. He’s the genius behind the rejuvenated Twilight Zone, Amazing Stories, the absolutely frelling fascinating Farscape, the could-have-been-great SeaQuest 2032, the Alien Nation series and Defiance.
Born January 12, 1980 — Kameron Hurley, 42. Winner of a Best Related Work Hugo at London 3 for We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative. Fiction wise, her most excellent God’s War won a BFA and a Kitschie, whereas her The Geek Feminist Revolution won her a BFA for non-fiction. Very impressive indeed. Oh, and she won a Hugo for Best Fan Writer at London 3 as well. Nice.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
The Argyle Sweater follows a little-known development in George Lucas’ career after Star Wars.
(10) THINK AGAIN. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt says Andrew Garfield’s good work in Spider-Man: No Way Home should lead to a reassessment of his two Spider-Man movies, which Betancourt believes are underrated. “Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man deserves redemption”.
…That is not to say Garfield’s Spider-Man never had believers. There are plenty of younger fans who were children when he was sticking to walls on the screen between 2012 and 2014 and who identify him as their Spider-Man. For many, however, Garfield’s Peter Parker was the Spider-Man that couldn’t. A Spider-Man who couldn’t beat the worldwide box office of his predecessor, Tobey Maguire. A Spider-Man who couldn’t make it to trilogy status. And worst of all, a Sony Spider-Man that couldn’t swing on his webs alongside the Avengers over at Marvel Studios because of legalities.
But our spidey-senses failed us. Now we know we were wrong about Garfield….
(11) A PREVIOUS PIXEL. Pat Cadigan is always supplying her Facebook readers with essential facts.
Robert Heinlein told me that one winter day, he and his wife were watching one of their cats go from door to door in their house. The cat would look at each door curiously, meow, and then move on to another door.
Heinlein said to his wife, “I wonder what he’s looking for.”
Virginia Heinlein replied, “He’s looking for the door into summer.”
Heinlein said, “Don’t say another word!”
He ran to his typewriter and finished a first draft of the novel within ten days.
Just because I know you couldn’t go a moment longer without knowing this. You’re welcome.
(12) LOOKALIKE COLLECTIBLE. Space Command showrunner Marc Scott Zicree tells “How I Saved Myself $300,000!” Before Marc gets to the main event he talks about some other Star Trek items.
…Then this could easily be an illustration from that but, no, this is an officially licensed product — the Star Trek Coloring Book. Spock has the wrong color uniforms so he’s a red shirt, so he should probably get killed in this coloring book…
The Solar System floats in the middle of a peculiarly empty region of space.
This region of low-density, high-temperature plasma, about 1,000 light-years across, is surrounded by a shell of cooler, denser neutral gas and dust. It’s called the Local Bubble, and precisely how and why it came to exist, with the Solar System floating in the middle, has been a challenge to explain.
A team of astronomers led by the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) has now mapped the Local Bubble with the highest precision yet – and found that the Local Bubble was likely carved out of the interstellar medium by a series of supernova explosions millions of years ago.
(14) DEATH WILL NOT RELEASE YOU. Netflix previews a Korean series about zombies taking over a high school. “All of Us Are Dead”. Gore warning.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Nghi Vo (Tor.com)
Two Truths and a Lie, Sarah Pinsker (Tor.com)
BEST SHORT STORY
“Metal Like Blood in the Dark”, T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine, September/October 2020)
The Murderbot Diaries, Martha Wells (Tor.com)
BEST RELATED WORK
Beowulf: A New Translation, Maria Dahvana Headley (FSG)
BEST GRAPHIC STORY OR COMIC
Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation, written by Octavia Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy, illustrated by John Jennings (Harry N. Abrams)
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM
The Old Guard, written by Greg Rucka, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Netflix / Skydance Media)
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM
The Good Place: Whenever You’re Ready, written and directed by Michael Schur (Fremulon / 3 Arts Entertainment / Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group)
BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORM
BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM
Diana M. Pho
BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST
FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction, publisher Troy L. Wiggins, executive editor DaVaun Sanders, managing editor Eboni Dunbar, poetry editor Brandon O’Brien, reviews and social media Brent Lambert, art director L. D. Lewis, and the FIYAH Team.
nerds of a feather, flock together, ed. Adri Joy, Joe Sherry, The G, and Vance Kotrla
The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe, Jonathan Strahan, producer
BEST FAN WRITER
BEST FAN ARTIST
BEST VIDEO GAME
Hades (Publisher and Developer: Supergiant Games)
LODESTAR AWARD FOR BEST YOUNG ADULT BOOK (not a Hugo)
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, T. Kingfisher (Argyll Productions)
ASTOUNDING AWARD FOR THE BEST NEW WRITER, SPONSORED BY DELL MAGAZINES (not a Hugo)
Tor.com has revealed the cover and table of contents for editor Jonathan Strahan’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction Vol. 2 (Gallery / Saga Press) with stories from 2020. The 608-page collection will be released September 14, 2021.
It’s official – Captain Jack is back for the Doctor Who Christmas special, with John Barrowman’s immortal Time Agent set to join the TARDIS team in Revolution of the Daleks.
Of course, this isn’t as big a shock as it might have been. Jack Harkness already popped up once after a decade away from Doctor Who in series 12’s Fugitive of the Judoon, and fans had long suspected this could be followed by a larger onscreen return. After all, he hasn’t even met Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor yet!
But now that his festive presence has been confirmed, we have to wonder… is this just the start of Jack’s new era in the TARDIS? Does John Barrowman already have a key cut for Roath Lock Studios in Cardiff? Is Jack’s coat currently being dusted off for another adventure?
Bertelsmann, owner of Penguin Random House, is buying Simon & Schuster from ViacomCBS and will make it part of PRH, the company announced. The deal should close in the second half of next year, subject to the usual closing procedures as well as regulatory approval. The deal is reportedly for more than $2 billion. PRH is the largest trade book publisher in the world, and both it and S&S have substantial distribution operations.
ViacomCBS had put S&S up for sale in March, saying the publisher was “not a core asset.” At the time, ViacomCBS was reportedly asking at least $1.2 billion for S&S. Bertelsmann publicly expressed interest in September; News Corp., owner of HarperCollins, was also interested in the company.
In a memo to staff, PRH CEO Markus Dohle said in part, “I have long admired the team at Simon & Schuster and the books they publish, and I am incredibly excited to welcome our new colleagues to Penguin Random House. Simon & Schuster’s distinguished legacy of publishing notable authors, perennial bestsellers, and culture-shaping blockbusters is a natural complement to our publishing programs and catalogs around the world.”
Referring to the merger of Penguin and Random House and other PRH acquisitions, he said, “As we have demonstrated, we can successfully unite company cultures and prestigious publishing teams while preserving each imprint’s identity and independence. Simon & Schuster aligns completely with the creative and entrepreneurial culture that we nurture by providing editorial autonomy to our publishers, funding their pursuit of new stories, ideas, and voices, and maximizing reach for our authors….”
(3) 100 MORE TBR. The New York Times’ “100 Notable Books of 2020” has plenty of good reading even if there are just a few titles that register as genre — and of those, none I’ve heard of. Mind you, I’m generally not impressed to see the dismissive phrase, “Well, I never heard of it,” and I’m counting on you to remain equally unmoved when I say it; I’m just reporting. Besides, some of you probably have heard of them and can say something on their behalf.
The SFWA Airship Nebula will be returning in June 2021… Captaining the ship this year, SFWA is also very pleased to announce that L.D. Lewis is joining the Nebula Conference team.
Lewis is an award-winning SF/F writer and editor, and serves as a founding creator, Art Director, and Project Manager for the World Fantasy Award-winning and Hugo Award-nominated FIYAH Literary Magazine. She primarily writes stories of ordinary Black women and femmes with extraordinary powers in equally extraordinary worlds.
Coming off the success of helming FIYAHCON last month, L.D. will be acting as the project manager for all of the exciting year-round events associated with the Nebula Conference. We hope you join us in welcoming L.D. aboard.
With smaller events leading up to our main conference, the team is working on elevating our content and offerings again this year, and celebrating the best that science fiction and fantasy have to offer with our annual Nebula Awards ceremony.
So, please join us for another weekend full of professional development, workshops, and opportunities to network in one of the coolest virtual spaces there is. There will be more dance parties, karaoke, and social meet-ups around special interests. We’ll also be bringing back our conference-specific mentorship program and office hours.
…Diversity is about getting the most differently informed points of view on a panel because that is a valuable thing. Because it means we all get a chance to learn new and interesting aspects to a topic. And sometimes it is about making sure that the voices that have not been able to contribute in the past for one reason or another get a chance to take part in the conversation by reaching out to them.
We need to rethink the ways we create [convention] programming. Consider this art form, the quilt. A practical item made beautiful, and often a way to use up excess fabric or recycled rags. One variant is the “crazy quilt,” which uses up odds and ends in irregularly shaped patches, sometimes with embroidered details. Crazy quilts can be beautiful, but not by nature. When they are it is the result of serendipitous accident or the creation of someone experienced and talented at putting those scraps together. Programming should not be a crazy quilt made up of the varied scraps of material different participants pull out of their pockets.
Quilts with deliberately created patterns can be extraordinarily beautiful, and this is where our programming metaphor comes in. The Multiverse [Con in Atlanta] was such a quilt, pulling from those eight tracks and interspersing them in a rhythm that made the convention’s quilt far greater than the sum of its yardage. Partially because they realized the world is not binary—a thing that’s hard to do sometimes in America in a political scene which doesn’t acknowledge that people can agree on one thing and not another.
The democratisation of conventions created by the move online has been heartening, because conventions have previously been limited to the people of means and those who the first group was willing to club together and help. The Hugos are voted on by people who have the money to afford the membership fee; the Nebulas, while voted on by F&SF writers, are still limited to those writers with the money for a membership fee. (One reason why I worked to find ways to reduce or ameliorate that fee when holding SFWA office.) One of the things that has come out of 2020, in fact, has been this democratisation, which has made the conventions available to people who historically and geographically were barred from them due to factors over which they had no control….
…Charles Coleman Finlay, who for more than five years has carried on the grand tradition of editing The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Sheree Renée Thomas, who picks up the mantle as new editor beginning with the March/April 2021 issue. We talk about the magazine’s distinguished history, the challenges of maintaining an iconic magazine in a radically changing short fiction field, and their own experiences as SF readers, writers, and editors.
(7) BE A MEDIEVAL SURVIVALIST. In “A Survival Guide to Medieval Fairy Tales” at Medievalists.net, Marta Cobb looks at great medieval romances such as Sir Orfeo and Sir Gawain And The Green Knight to discover the moral lessons these romances convey, particularly in dealing with the supernatural.
Rule 1: Know the signs
The border between the supernatural world and our own can be extremely permeable. Sometimes it’s easy to tell when the supernatural has intruded upon more normal life, such as when the Green Knight barges into a holiday feast (it is not that the Green Knight wears green clothing but that his skin and hair and even his horse are completely green). Sometimes, however, the signs are more subtle, such as a deer that leads a knight away from his friends and into the unknown or a boat that sails away in the absence of sailors. In the case of Sir Lanval, it can be a mysterious woman in an opulent tent….
(8) KOBAYASHI OBIT. Japanese author Yasumi Kobayashi (1962-2020) died November 23 at the age of 58. His short story “The Man Who Watched the Sea” won the Hayakawa Award for best short story in 1998.Two more were nominated for the Seiun Award for best short story in 2003 and 2004. He was nominated as “Best Foreign Author” in the Chinese-language Galaxy Awards in 2009.
(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
November 25, 1998 — Babylon 5 ended its five year run with the “Sleeping in the Light” finale. In the year 2281, twenty years since Sheridan died on Z’ha’dum and twenty years since the Interstellar Alliance was formed, Sheridan realises his time is running out and calls his old friends for one last get-together before embarking on one final journey. In the process, he learns that his fate and that of Babylon 5 remain interconnected. Trivia note: The worker who throws the final switch to shut down the station is played by Straczynski.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born November 25, 1904 – Amelia Reynolds Long. Pioneer female SF author; one novel, a score of short stories for us. “Reverse Phylogeny” is in Conklin’s fine SF Adventures in Dimension. Also detective fiction, poetry. Here is a tribute site. (Died 1978) [JH]
Born November 25, 1920 — Ricardo Montalbán. Khan Noonien Singh and the first Mr. Rourke. Armando and Grandpa Valentin Avellan as well. I’m picking those as four most memorable roles he’s played and they just happen to all be genre in nature. Oh, and is Khan Noonien Singh the only occurrence of a non-crew character carrying over from the original series into the films? I suspect not but I can’t think of anyone other. If there is, I’m sure one of you will tell me. (Died 2009.) (CE)
Born November 25, 1926 — Poul Anderson. My favorite ones by him? Orion Shall Rise for the mix of personal scale story with his usual grand political stories, and all of the Flandry and van Rijn stories. I also enjoy his Time Patrol stories as well, and the two Operation Luna tales are quite fun. He was quite honored with seven Hugo Awards and three Nebula Awards. I’m currently reading the first two volumes of his NESFA short fiction series which I will review here soon. (Died 2001.) (CE)
Born November 25, 1926 — Jeffrey Hunter. Best known for his role as the first Captain Christopher Pike in the original pilot episode of Star Trek and the later use of that material in “The Menagerie” episode. Other genre work included Dimension 5, A Witch Without A Broom, Strange Portrait (never released, no print is known to exists), Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Journey into Fear and The Green Hornet. (Died 1969.) (CE)
Born November 25, 1941 – Sandra Miesel, 79. Two novels, half a dozen shorter stories; anthologies; Myth, Symbol, and Religion in “The Lord of the Rings”; Against Time’s Arrow (Poul Anderson); more than a hundred essays, forewords and afterwords, letters, reviews; collection of fanwriting, Sweetmeats (Jerry Kaufman, ed.); much other work outside our field. Guest of Honor at Rivercon III. [JH]
Born November 25, 1953 – Michael “Orange Mike” Lowrey, 67. Why orange? So he dresses – inside and out: he has sixty pairs of orange underwear. Fanzine, Vojo de Vivo; he is also an Esperantist. Fan Guest of Honor at ICON 25. Elected the 2020 TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate. Often seen here. In case you wonder, he doesn’t wear orange on St. Patrick’s Day – but only then. [JH]
Born November 25, 1953 — Mark Frost, 67. He’s best known as a writer for Hill Street Blues (I know it’s not genre but superb nonetheless) and as the co-creator with David Lynch of Twin Peaks in which he’s been involved with in other roles as well. He had a hand in writing both of the not well regarded Fantastic Four films. He was also one of the Executive Producers of the very short lived All Souls series. (CE)
Born November 25, 1963 – Tony Daniel, 57. A dozen novels, forty shorter stories, a dozen poems. “The Infuence of ‘The Song of the South’ on Lucius Shepard” in NY Review of SF. Interviewed in Lightspeed. “Life on the Moon” was a Readers’ Choice in Asimov’s. [JH]
Born November 25, 1972 – D.A. Adams, 48. Five books about the Brotherhood of Dwarves; others outside our field. Likes C.S. Lewis and Toni Morrison. Has read The Glass Bead Game and Absalom, Absalom! [JH]
Born November 25, 1974 — Sarah Monette, 46. Under the pen name of Katherine Addison, she published The Goblin Emperor which garnered the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel and was nominated for the Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy Awards. She won the Spectrum Award in 2003 for her short story “Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland”. Her first two novels Mélusine and The Virtu are quite wonderful and I highly recommend her Iskryne series that she co-wrote with Elizabeth Bear. (CE)
Born November 25, 1980 – Licia Troisi, 40. Astrophysicist; she is currently the best-selling Italian fantasy author. Fifteen novels. “If you don’t read, you cannot write. Read everything, not only your favorite genre.” [JH]
Born November 25, 1986 — Katie Cassidy, 34. Best remembered as Laurel Lance / Black Canary in the Arrowverse, primarily on Arrow but also Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. She was also Ruby on Supernatural, Patricia “Trish” Washington on Harper’s Island and Kris Fowles on A Nightmare on Elm Street. (CE)
…My favorite memory of Buster making his hat is when we were in Germany in 1962 to promote the screenings of The General. He needed a new hat. Buster went to a little hat shop next to our hotel in Frankfurt and pointed out the hat he wanted to the little elderly man who ran the shop. Buster pantomimed everything, as he did not speak German and the shopkeeper did not speak English. Buster tried on the fedora and liked it. He then pantomimed scissors, and the shopkeeper handed Buster a pair of shears. Buster proceeded to tear the entire hat lining out, fold down the crown and cut the brim. The old man looked like he was about to have a stroke because Buster had not yet paid for the hat. When Buster finished and placed the hat on his head to test it, the old man recognized who Buster was and what was taking place in his hat shop.
Never underestimate the popularity of Pocket Monsters. A box of unopened, first edition base set Pokémon trading cards recently sold for a whopping $360,000 at Heritage Auctions’ Comics & Comic Art Auction. The item, which is over 20-years-old, was purchased by Thomas Fish, president of Blowoutcards.com. “I am thrilled to purchase this pedigree box,” Fish said in a statement.
His winning bid shattered the previous world record, also held by Heritage Auctions, which sold a similar set last September for $198,000. Demand for the still-shrink wrapped box was reportedly so heated, that online offers broke the record before bidding even officially began.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: The New Mutants” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say that the final X-Men movie “looks like a long pilot episode for a series the CW passed on” and where the producers saved money by not having a dialect coach and by having the mutants rarely use their powers.”
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Bill, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John A Arkansawyer, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Stuart told File 770, “The letter was workshopped by the entire group, and wasn’t published before they gave express approval so it very much is a group of co-signees.”
The group includes: Charles Payseur, Benjamin C. Kinney, Jennifer Mace, SL Huang, Shiv Ramdas, SB Divya, Jenn Lyons, Sarah Gailey, Paul Weimer, Sarah Pinsker, Claire Rousseau, Maria Haskins, Tasha Suri, Marguerite Kenner, Alasdair Stuart, Jonathan Strahan, Pablo Defendini, Elsa Sjunneson, Brent Lambert, Freya Marske, Julia Rios, Alix Harrow, Gideon Marcus, Janice Marcus, Lorelei Marcus, James Davis Nicoll, Neil Clarke, Cora Buhlert, Charlie Jane Anders, Brandon O’Brien, Erica Frank, Jen Zink, Adri Joy, Fran Wilde, Suzanne Walker, Chimedum Ohaegbu, Navah Wolfe, John Picacio, and Max Gladstone.
The letter says:
We applaud the courage and conviction of the CoNZealand organisers in pivoting to a virtual Worldcon during an unprecedented global event. Their work has been admirable and — in many aspects — both innovative and successful.
We are a group of Hugo Award finalists who identified concerns with our programming when we received our “final schedules” this week, and came together to help CoNZealand recognize and address these issues.
In brief, our key concerns are:
Many Hugo finalists have not been offered programming and panels relevant to their nomination.
We believe that many of our panels cannot be adequately performed without more diverse participants and/or a reframing of the topic.
Communication with Hugo finalists about the financial requirements for participation has been inconsistent or absent, with contradictory information on whether or not we were able to participate in programming without a full attending membership. This issue particularly impacted Black, Indigenous and people of color (“BIPOC”), leaving them more likely than other finalists to receive no programming.
We present our concerns in the hope that these issues represent not intentional choices on the convention’s part but the unavoidable consequences of Worldcon’s discontinuous structure, and the necessary prioritization CoNZealand has had to undertake in order to pivot successfully to a virtual event.
We have tried to be brief and targeted in our recommendations so as to remain sensitive to the time pressure CoNZealand is under. Accompanying this letter is a spreadsheet containing specific examples of the issues above. We have listed (1) which panel topics we are missing; (2) which panels have problematic design or membership; (3) which panels we finalists want off or are willing to leave to create space; and (4) finalists that were deterred from participation due to lack of membership.
Our data are incomplete because we could only recruit a limited number of Hugo finalists to provide input without further delaying the process. Among our group of finalists, about 25% entirely lack relevant panels, and about 45% are dissatisfied with the fit of the programming they have.
We recognize there is a difficult balance to strike when raising concerns to an overtaxed team less than two weeks before an event, however many of us have repeatedly raised these issues or volunteered only to receive no response. We have intentionally not sought to assume ownership of programming items, but we are committed to assisting where possible and desired by CoNZealand. However, we emphasize that our bringing awareness to these issues does not obligate us to single-handedly resolve them.
As part of our offer to assist, we have begun identifying additional and replacement panelists who could add necessary diversity. If CoNZealand lacks sufficient BIPOC attendees, we hope you will provide free attendance to needed panelists who aren’t members. Moreover, there remain issues we cannot address on our own, especially (1) communicating with all finalists whether paid membership is required for programming; and (2) making sure all finalists with memberships are on relevant programming.
We are not united in what actions we intend to take if our concerns are not addressed. Many have already begun the process of asking to be removed from programming in its entirety, while others are actively working to locate replacements for the programming items they feel need improvement. Our focus at this stage remains taking action to make our concerns known, and to support CoNZealand addressing them in the combined spirit of fostering an environment for all to share in the celebration of our genre.
We appreciate your volunteerism in contacting all those people for us. As you know, due to privacy regulations, we cannot contact people more than once without a response from them. We hope they will get in touch with us directly and soon, to see if we can fit them in.
All the best, Jannie
Shea points to CoNZealand’s inclusion initiative in answer to the letter’s question “whether paid membership is required for programming.” Typically, only people who have bought attending memberships become Worldcon program participants. The introduction to the inclusion initiative explains what help is available:
Marginalised communities are overrepresented in the group suffering the greatest fallout from this pandemic, and as such, we want to ensure that our community does not suffer a loss of its hard-won diversity. We want to lower the barriers for participation for those from underrepresented communities.
We want the convention to be a global one, where all communities and viewpoints are represented, and this fund is intended to help those who would otherwise not be able to participate fully in the activities of the Worldcon.
The initiative upgrades eligible members from supporting to attending memberships. …There are a small number of attending passes available.
CoNZealand is especially challenged in its efforts to answer these needs because, as a virtual convention, it isn’t limited to programming people who can afford to come to Wellington, as would have been the case before the pandemic — it could draw people from everywhere. But like most non-U.S. Worldcons it has a smaller membership base from which to draw the financial support needed to make its budget.
Following the jump is a roundup of Twitter comments from participants.
(2) MIDSOUTHCON CANCELLED. MidSouthCon has been “postponed until 2021”, which is to say cancelled. The administrator of the Darrell Awards gave an update now that the presentation can’t take place there.
What About the 2020 Darrell Awards?
First, they will be given.
Second, the Winners and Runners-up and other Finalists will be announced here and on other social media.
Third, the details of how and when for the above will be decided by the Jury shortly.
As you may be aware, Governor Charlie Baker recently announced a ban on all gatherings of 250 people or more in Massachusetts. This ban is set with no current end date, until the governor announces otherwise. With Anime Boston 2020 scheduled for less than four weeks from now, it is highly likely this ban will still be in place. Given the uncertainty around these new circumstances, we have no choice but to cancel Anime Boston 2020….
(4) PLAN FOR LEFTY AWARDS. The Left Coast Crime mystery convention was brought to an abrupt end on Thursday when the coronavirus outbreak caused local San Diego health officials to restrict gatherings. The event’s Lefty Awards would have been voted on by members at the con. Now con committee member Stan Ulrich says they’re working on an alternative plan.
As you may know, we vote with paper ballots, and of course the voting period was unexpectedly cut short within a 2-hour period, due to conflicting and poorly-worded San Diego edicts.
We told the assembled folks at the last event, where about 200 attendees were in the room, that we will not be counting the paper ballots that had been cast, but rather would conduct an online vote by all registrants to this convention.
I don’t know when that will take place, but I’d hope we can do it very soon. We have many issues to deal with, ones we don’t even know about yet, so it will depend on when I can find the time to concentrate on getting it done right. But for now, my intention is to get the e-ballots out in the next few days, after we get home to Santa Fe, and set the system up.
Early this week, before it occurred to me that leaving the house to break bread might not be the wisest thing to do considering the times in which we live, I headed to Silver Spring, Maryland for lunch with Michael Dirda at All Set restaurant. Luckily, you won’t have to risk contagion from the coronavirus to take a seat at the table and eavesdrop on our conversation.
Michael is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post Book World with a special love for genre fiction. He’s the author of the memoir An Open Book, plus four collections of essays: Readings, Bound to Please, Book by Book and Classics for Pleasure. Since 2002, he’s been a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, and his book On Conan Doyle was awarded the 2012 Edgar Award in the Best Critical/Biographical category. He’s currently at work on The Great Age of Storytelling, an appreciation of British popular fiction of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
We discussed the convention at which he thought he was about to be punched out by Harlan Ellison, the book he wants to write but which he realizes he could probably never publish, how discovering E. F. Bleiler’s Guide to Supernatural Fiction opened a whole new world for him, whether he faced judgment from his peers for believing Georgette Heyer is as important as George Eliot, why he wants to be buried with a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo, how Beverly Cleary’s Henry Huggins is like a Proustian madeleine, the way he navigates the tricky act of reviewing the fiction of friends, the word he used which annoyed Gene Wolfe, and much more.
Hockey-masked Jason has been creeping into everyone’s nightmares since making his killing debut in the ’80s, and later resurfacing for some more bloodshed in the early 21st century as well. While he’s been keeping a curiously low profile recently, this year Jason appeared in Japan in the lead-up to Friday the 13th, giving a surprise press conference to inform everyone that the coronavirus would be impinging on this year’s activities.
It started out as a project in an online forum and turned into the best-selling video game of all time, but now Minecraft is being used for something even its creator would not have dreamt of.
The iconic game based around placing Lego-like blocks with more than 145 million players each month has been turned into a hub of free speech.
A virtual library has been meticulously created to host articles written by journalists which were censored online.
Work by Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist killed by Saudi agents in 2018, can be read among the plethora of books in the library.
Minecraft has declined to comment.
The project was created by non-profit organisation Reporters Without Borders, which seeks to defend the freedom of information worldwide, and the Minecraft library itself was built by design studio Blockworks.
Christian Mihr, executive director of Reporters Without Borders Germany, told the BBC that Minecraft was good for the project as he believes it is not seen as a threat by governments which censor their media.
“We chose Minecraft because of its reach,” he said. “It is available in every country. The game is not censored like some other games which are under suspicion of being political.
(8) WE DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ BABIES. [Item by Mike
Kennedy.] GeekMom isn’t shy about sharing this opinion. My advice is to not
click through to the article unless you’re prepared to read about several major
bummer outcomes for these fictional tykes. “Stop With the Superhero Babies! It Never Works”.
This is going to sound callous, but I wish creators would stop adding superhero babies to their stories.
Because I hate it when the big two superhero comic companies introduce babies and young children into their stories.
Do I have anything against little kids and babies? No.
Do I think good stories of superhero parents can be told? Yes.
Do I think that’s ever been done on a consistent basis at DC and Marvel?
There are only a few fates available for babies or little kids with superhero parents in comics.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 14, 1994 — Robocop: The Series premiered. It stars Richard Eden as the title character. A Canadian produced and directed series, it lacks the graphic violence and intent of Robocop and Robocop 2 that preceded it, and adds a lot more humor. You can see the two-hour pilot episode here. It was adapted from the unused RoboCop 2 script, Corporate Wars which was from the writers of the first RoboCop film, Edward and Michael Miner.
March 14, 1995 — Cyborg Cop II premiered. It’s directed by Sam Firstenberg as written by Jon Stevens and Firstenberg. It’s obviously the sequel to Cyborg Cop, and stars David Bradley, Morgan Hunter, Jill Pierce, and Victor Melleney. Needless to say, a Cyborg Cop IIII film followed. You can see it here. Unlike Robocop: The Series, it is R rated, so you’ll need to sign in to prove you of an an appropriate age.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 14, 1869 — Algernon Blackwood. Writer of some of the best of the best horror and ghost stories ever done according to the research I just did. Most critics including Joshi say his two best stories are “The Willows” and “The Wendigo”. The novel that gets recommended is The Centaur. If you’re interested in reading him, he’s readily available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1951.)
Born March 14, 1918 — Mildred Clingerman. Most of her stories were published in the Fifties in F&SF whenBoucher was Editor. Boucher included “The Wild Wood” by her in the seventh volume of The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction and dedicated the book to her, calling her the “most serendipitous of discoveries.” A Cupful of Space and The Clingerman Files, neither available as a digital publication, contain all of her stories. (Died 1997.)
Born March 14, 1948 — Valerie Martin, 72. Her novel Mary Reilly is the retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from the point of view of a servant in the doctor’s house. It is a film of the same name with John Malkovich in the lead role. It was nominated for Nebula and World Fantasy Awards.
Born March 14, 1957 — Tad Williams, 63. Author of the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, Otherland series, and Shadowmarch series as well as the most excellent Tailchaser’s Song and The War of the Flowers.
Born March 14, 1964 — Julia Ecklar, 56. She’s the Astounding Award–winning author for The Kobayashi Maru which is available in English and German ebook editions. She’s also a filk musician who recorded numerous albums in the Off Centaur label in the early 1980s, including Horse-Tamer’s Daughter, Minus Ten and Counting, and Genesis.
Born March 14, 1971 — Rebecca Roanhorse, 49. Her “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™“ which was first published in the August 2017 of Apex Magazine won both a Nebula and a Hugo as best short story. She also won the 2018 Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Her novel Trail of Lightning was also a Nebula and Hugo nominee.
Born March 14, 1974 — Grace Park, 46. Boomer on the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. She’s been on a fair amount of genre over the years with her first acting role being the Virtual Avatar in the “Bits of Love” episode of Outer Limits. After that, she shows up on Secret Agent Man, This Immortal, The Outer Limits again, Star Gate SG-1, Andromeda, and oddly enough, Battlestar Galactica in a number roles other than her main one. I’m sure one of you can explain the latter.
Born March 14, 1978 — Butcher Billy, 42. Brazilian artist and graphic designer known for his art pieces and illustration series based on popular culture. Though ISFDB only lists his Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decade Sci-Fi Exploded and Jurassic Park piece, he’s active right to the present as he did artwork based on Black Mirrior which in turn led him to being commissioned to do work for the series by series creator Charlie Brooker.
(12) HIGH CAPACITY. Alasdair Stuart’s “The Full Lid 13th March 2020” has a
report from planet-forming vessel The Future about their
recent…Dalek…unpleasantness. Plus —
We’ve also got a detailed look at new James Bond sourcebook Bond Vs Bond, an offer of help for anyone whose projects are marooned due to the ever receding tide of events, an update on where I’m at right now and my favorite Kids in the Hall sketches! Which may not be the ones you think…
Elsewhere, Kat Kourbeti is one of my favorite people and she’s just started a writing/commentary/media newsletter. If you like The Lid you’ll love Honest to Blog. Finally, Liberty is a constellation of podcasts and comics. It’s one of my personal high watermarks for cyberpunk/urban SF and they’ve just lost some listeners due to a server migration. Treat yourself and go check them out.
Harry Connolly’s Twenty Palaces series protagonist Ray Lilly would have been right at home in a hardboiled crime novel. In the weird horror setting in which he lives, Ray’s combination of criminal smarts, blind loyalty, and diminished executive function led him to dabble in the Dark Arts. Unlike most fools who flirt with inadvertently letting extradimensional predators into our world, Ray is given a chance to make amends for his bad judgement. Indeed, he’s not given any choice: Ray will spend the rest of his life fighting the horrors he enabled.
The novel coronavirus has assailed more than 100 countries, infecting over 121,000 people and causing over 4,300 deaths. And while the outbreak sparked in China, Europe has not been spared: Italy is on lockdown, cases are escalating in Spain and France, and German leaders are bracing for nearly 70% of the country’s population to contract the illness. Tourist haunts, shops, universities, and entire towns are deserted.
But the mounting fear of this contagion didn’t stop people in western France from setting a Guinness World Record on March 7.
Some 3,500 people dressed up as Smurfs — in blue and white outfits, with painted faces, and toting the characters’ trademark pointed hats — gathered in the town of Landerneau. Their goal was to set a record for the largest-ever gathering of the blue, human-like Belgian comic characters.
The astronauts and cosmonauts on board the International Space Station have brought with them a host of bacteria from Earth. How do they keep them from creating havoc?
By 1998, after 12 years in orbit, Russian space station Mir was showing its age. Power cuts were frequent, the computers unreliable and the climate control system was leaking. But when the crew began a study to assess the types of microbes they were sharing their living space with, even they were surprised at what they found.
Opening an inspection panel, they discovered several globules of murky water – each around the size of a football. Later analysis revealed the water was teeming with bacteria, fungi and mites. Even more concerning were the colonies of organisms attacking the rubberised seals around the space station windows and the acid-excreting bugs slowly eating the electrical cabling.
When each Mir module launched from Earth it was near-pristine, assembled in clean rooms by engineers wearing masks and protective clothing. All the unwanted life now living on the station had been carried into orbit by the multinational group of men and women who subsequently occupied the orbiting laboratory.
We share our lives, and bodies, with microbes. From the bacteria lining our gut, to the microscopic mites nibbling at our dead skin, it’s estimated that more than half the cells in our body aren’t human. Most of these microbes are not only harmless but essential, enabling us to digest food and fend off disease. Everywhere we go, we take our microbiome with us and – just like humans – it’s learning to adapt to life in space….
Her research is timely. By November this year, the ISS will have been occupied continuously for 20 years. After the experience of Mir, biologists have been concerned about what else might be living on board and particularly any microbes that might endanger the station, or worse, the astronauts.
(16) SOUL TRAILER. Disney and Pixar’s Soul, in
theaters June 19.
Joe Gardner is a middle-school band teacher who gets the chance of a lifetime to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before – a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to Earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22, who has never understood the appeal of the human experience. As Joe desperately tries to show 22 what’s great about living, he may just discover the answers to some of life’s most important questions.
With little in the way of excitement with the box office delay of Mulan and likely Black Widow, Disney decided to give fans something to be exciting about by releasing Frozen 2 to Disney+ three months ahead of schedule starting Sunday. It was originally set to release June 26.
The film will also arrive on Disney Plus in Canada, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand on Tuesday, March 17.
In a statement, new Disney CEO Bob Chapek said “the themes of perseverance and the importance of family are messages that are incredibly relevant during this time, and we are pleased to be able to share this heartwarming story early with our Disney+ subscribers to enjoy at home on any device.”
(18) MAN TROUBLE. Andrew Porter was tuned into Jeopardy!
the other night when contestants collided with this topic:
Category: Male Writers
Answer: “Me, Alex. Him, this serial novelist who oldest WWII correspondent in South Pacific theatre at age 66”
Wrong question: “Who is Michener?”
Right question: “Who is Edgar Rice Burroughs?”
(19) BETTER THAN JURASSIC PARK. “Blood
sucking insect stuck in amber with dinosaur DNA is nothing. Whole dinosaur
skull preserved in Amber – now you’re talking.” — John Hammond.
In this week’s Nature: “Tiny fossil sheds light on miniaturization of birds”. Tagline “A tiny skull trapped in 99-million-year-old amber suggests that some of the earliest birds evolved to become miniature. The fossil illustrates how ancient amber can act as a window into the distant past.”
Dinosaurs were big, whereas birds — which evolved from dinosaurs — are small. This variation is of great importance, because body size affects lifespan, food requirements, sensory capabilities and many other fundamental aspects of biology. The smallest dinosaurs weighed hundreds of grams, but the smallest living bird, the bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae), weighs only 2 grams. How did this difference come about, and why? In a paper in Nature, Xing et al. describe the tiny, fossilized, bird-like skull of a previously unknown species, which they name Oculudentavis khaungraae. The discovery suggests that miniature body sizes in birds evolved earlier than previously recognized, and might provide insights into the evolutionary process of miniaturization.
(20) STARGIRL. Here’s the extended version of the Stargirl
trailer. Stargirl debuts Monday, May
11 on DC Universe. It will debut on The CW the next day, Tuesday, May 12.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Eric Wong, Chip Hitchcock, John King
Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, SF
Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.
Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]
…I’m tired of cancel culture, just as I was dully tired of everything that preceded it and will doubtless grow tired of everything that comes after it in turn, until our fundamental sense of what the internet is and how it should be managed finally changes. Like it or not, the internet both is and is of the world, and that is too much for any one person to sensibly try and curate at an individual level. Where nothing is moderated for us, everything must be moderated by us; and wherever people form communities, those communities will grow cultures, which will develop rules and customs that spill over into neighbouring communities, both digitally and offline, with mixed and ever-changing results. Cancel culture is particularly tricky in this regard, as the ease with which we block someone online can seldom be replicated offline, which makes it all the more intoxicating a power to wield when possible: we can’t do anything about the awful coworker who rants at us in the breakroom, but by God, we can block every person who reminds us of them on Twitter.
(3) A WARRIOR HANGS UP HIS SHIELD. Fulk Beauxarmes’ protests against the growing influence of white supremacists in the Society for Creative Anachronism, and use of their symbols in its heraldry, inspired me to nominate him for Best Fanwriter. In a new post he decries the continued inaction of the Society’s leadership and also announces that he’s “Leaving the SCA”.
On February 15th a post that Ronan Blackmoor had recently made was brought to my attention. He’d apparently posted to his Facebook page a triumphant announcement that he and Balder had been “completely cleared” of all accusations of wrongdoing and that there would be “consequences” for all the “leftists”, “SJWs” and “SCAntifa” who had brought “fake charges” against him.
…That was the last straw for me….
(4) AIRBNB ISSUE. Do
you need to check your reservations?
…I’ve come to realize that I have to pay if I want certain things in this world to exist, even if I don’t use them.
I subscribe to four SF magazines that I seldom read. I read when I can, or when I see a story recommended, or when a friend tells me about a story. I subscribe because I want them to exist. I subscribe because I want a place for new SF writers to get published. I subscribe because one day if I can ever get back into writing fiction I’ll have a place to submit my stories.
We have to realize that free content on the internet isn’t free. We’ve got to come up with revenue systems that work. I think the internet needs to remain free, so we can always have instant access to content, but we need to find ways to pay publishers who present free content on the web.
(6) THE KISS OF SOMETHING.
Chuck Tingle mingles praise and profitmaking in his response to Archive of Our Own’s Hugo nomination.
(7) GHOST OF A MACHINE. In “A
Crime Novel for Future Urban Planners” on
CrimeReads, Benjamin Samuel
interviews Seth Fried, author of The
Municipalists, a near future novel in which detective Henry Thompson solves
a cyberattack with the aid of OWEN, “an experimental, highly intelligent
hologram…who’s developed his own protocol for day drinking.”
Despite being a holographic projection of a supercomputer, OWEN can sometimes feel more human than Henry—or at least OWEN seems to enjoy life a little more. But ultimately, there are limitations to what he can do. What were some of challenges of having an AI character?
OWEN was a lot of fun to write. Since he’s a shape-shifting light projection, he’s essentially a superhero who can’t physically interact with anyone. So anything he wants to accomplish has to come through trickery or convincing Henry to give some life-threatening strategem the old college try.
(8) FRENCH ADDRESSING. Some authors had fun responding to this idea – Seanan McGuire and John Chu among them – but one took offense (see the thread).
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 5, 1900 — Spencer Tracy. Yes, he did some genre, to wit he was in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde where he played Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr Edward Hyde! The film even featured Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner. (Died 1967.)
Born April 5, 1908 — Bette Davis. She’s in Burnt Offerings, am Eighties horror film that did well with the audience and not so well with the critics; I also see she’s in Madame Sin which I think is SF given the premise. (Died 1989.)
Born April 5, 1909 — Albert Broccoli. He’s mostly known as the producer of many of the James Bond films, and his heirs continue to produce new Bond films. With Harry Saltzman, he produced the first eight Bond films including From Russia with Love which is still my favorite Bond film though You Only Live Twice with a screenplay by Roald Dahl comes close. (Died 1996.)
Born April 5, 1917 — Robert Bloch. His Wiki page says he’s best known as the writer of Psycho, but I’ll guarantee that only film geeks and many of y’all know that. I know him best as the writer of the Trek “Wolf in the Fold” episode. His Night of the Ripper novel is highly recommend. And I know that “That Hellbound Train” which won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story is the piece of fiction by him I’ve read the most. (Died 1994.)
Born April 5, 1926 — Roger Corman, 93. Ahhhh, popcorn films! (See popcorn literature for what I mean.) Monster from the Ocean Floor in the early Fifties was his film and Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf on Syfy just a few years back was another such film. He’s a man who even produced such a film called, errr, Munchies. A Worldcon guest of honor in 1996.
Born April 5, 1920 — A.C. Crispin. She wrote several Trek and Star Wars novelizations and created her series called Starbridge which was heavily influenced by Trek. She also co-wrote several Witch World novels, Gryphon’s Eyrie and Songsmith, with Andre Norton. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom was her last novel prior to her death from bladder cancer while in hospice care. (Died 2013.)
Born April 5, 1965 — Deborah Harkness, 54. She’s the author of the All Souls Trilogy, which consists of A Discovery of Witches and its sequels Shadow of Night and The Book of Life. I listened to the Jennifer Ikeda-narrated audiobooks which was an amazing experience. Highly recommended as Harkness tells a remarkable story here. I’m not even fond ’tall of vampires in any form and hers actually are both appealing and make sense.
Born April 5, 1982 – Hayley Atwell, 37. Agent Carter with her as Peggy Carter I’ll freely admit has been the only series or film in the MCU repertoire that I’ve flat enjoyed so far. Even the misogyny of the males though irritating in that setting made sense. Oh, and I’m interested to see her in Christopher Robin as Evelyn Robin.
(10) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott
Edelman calls on everyone to “bond over bing bread” with Malka Older in Episode
92 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.
This turns out to be a perfectly timed episode of Eating the Fantastic, though I didn’t plan it that way, and had no idea while recording such would be the case. The reason for my feeling of serendipity is because my guest is Malka Older, author of the novels Infomocracy, Null States, and State Tectonics — which comprise the Centenal Cycle — and which just a few days ago was announced as having made the final Hugo Awards ballot in the category of Best Series….
She joined me for lunch at Momofuku CCDC, a restaurant which will be familiar to regular listeners of this podcast, because Rosemary Claire Smith joined me there a little more than two years ago in Episode 32. I try not to be a repeat customer at any of the spots I visit — at least not while recording for the podcast — but a lot has changed since that visit. David Chang installed a new executive chef, Tae Strain, and gave him orders to “destroy” the menu (according to an article in the Washingtonian), which meant ditching the ramen and pork buns for which Momofuku is so famous. But hey, where else am I going to get a chance to try kimchee potato salad?
We discussed why democracy is a radical concept which scares people (and what marriage has to say about the dramatic potential of democracy), the pachinko parlor which helped give birth to her science fictional universe, how what was intended to be a standalone novel turned into a trilogy, her secrets (and role models) when it comes to writing action scenes, which of her characters moves more merchandise, how (and why) editor Carl Engle-Laird helped her add 20,000 words to her first novel, what she learned about herself from the collaborative Serialbox project, the one thing about her background I was embarrassed to admit I’d never realized, and much more.
(11) OVERFLOWING JOY. Alasdair Stuart’s latest issue
of Full Lid includes piece on Mac Rogers’ movie The Horror at Gallery Kay, a look at Us, a detailed look at Project
Blue Book (Stuart says “Turns out you can take the boy out of ufology but
the man keeps watching tv shows about it”) and some Hugos joy.
Project Blue Book was a real thing, the USAF’s probably whitewashed investigation into the UFO phenomena. Doctor J. Allen Hynek was a real person and remains one of the vanishingly small amount of actual scientists to look into UFOlogy as a field and not a snake oil vending machine. His son Joel is a prolific special effects technician who designed the camouflage effect for the Predator by the way. The cases the episodes are based on are real too, the first two episodes dealing with the Gorman (renamed Fuller) Dogfight and the The Flatwoods Monster. In the first, a pilot engaged a UFO in something approximating combat. In the second, a family were first terrified by what they were sure was a downed UFO and second by the enraged townsfolk who refused to believe them.
This sci-fi novel features space battles, espionage, and cute talking robots. Obviously, we see this book being turned into a space opera-esque RPG ala Mass Effect, with a touch of shoot ‘em style space battles. Think Galaga but with interdimensional space politics and dueling. 10/10 would play for days.
Lockheed Martin’s April Fools’ Day joke passed the smell test.
The aerospace company on Monday (April 1) kicked off its prank by announcing a launch, but rather than it being of a rocket or a spacecraft, it was Vector, “the first ever fragrance to capture the aroma of space.” And no sooner did the liftoff occur, than thousands of people came to Lockheed Martin’s website to request a sample.
One might expect that to be the gag, but the company went a step further, not only creating a spot-on ad for the bottled essence of space, but also producing the scent for real, as in actual vials of the unisex (if not also universal) eau de (zero-g) toilette
Auction house Bonhams said the first-edition copy of Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone — known in the United States as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — attracted a high bid of $90,074.
The specific edition is famed in the Potter fandom for containing a handful of typos, including misspelling the word “Philosopher” and the repetition of “1 wand” on the list of items the boy wizard needs to obtain for school.
Think of all the rare typos I make here – I wonder how much Bonhams could get for my blog?
Shazam! wants to be slick and smartassy except when it suddenly chooses to be warm and sincere—like a TV commercial for some medication or life insurance. You can’t have it both ways but this film repeatedly tries to do so. I’ve always loved the character who originated as Captain Marvel in 1940s comic books (and lost that name to Marvel in a famous lawsuit). He was essentially a rip-off of Superman but he had his own style and flavor. This movie, however, is a muddle.
(16) SLAG HEAPER. Vox
Day sneers at this year’s Hugo-nominated novels in “From
pulp to Puppies” [Internet Archive link] at Vox Popoli.
Total nonentities. All six of these novels together won’t sell as many copies as a single Galaxy’s Edge novel. Novik would have been considered a C-level talent at best in the 1980s. And people could be forgiven for thinking that the Rabid Puppies were still dictating the nominees with titles such as “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” on the short list.
Congrats to all the Hugo nominees. I won’t whinge that the best novel category doesn’t, for the most part, reflect my tastes. Nor will I set up a movement of like minded people to ensure it does so in the future….
For about 20 seconds I considered trying to put together an Alternate Hugos Best Novel list, and then I realised (1) there are a lot of those and (2) you can’t have an Alternate Hugo list really. These are the books that fans who nominated *liked* the most. That’s fine and pretty cool.
I thought I knew what to expect, going in to Terra Nullius. I’d seen the book recommended on speculative sites, I’d read enough about it to know that its take on colonisation and extermination of indigineous people was almost but not quite based on the experience of Australia’s indigenous communities following the British invasion in 1788. And yet, by a hundred pages in, I was starting to doubt what everyone and everything (including the book’s own blurb) was telling me. Was I missing clues to a larger mystery? Were there adjectives that I was misreading or apparently historical references that I was misinterpreting? Where, to be blunt, was all the science fiction?
Of course, if you’re paying attention, that’s an intentional feature of Claire G. Coleman’s brilliant debut novel, which offers a perspective on the invasion of Australia which is very much a speculative novel, and yet still inexctricably and uncomfortably intertwined with the real historical treatment of Aboriginal Australians over centuries of white rule. Coleman herself is Noongar, a community from the south coast of what is now Western Australia, and Terra Nullius is the product of a black&write! indigenous writers fellowship. Despite being a first novel, this is a book that’s utterly confident both in its content and its narrative structure, and for very good reason….
He began shovelling off the layers of soil above where he’d found the fish. This “overburden” is typically material that was deposited long after the specimen lived; there’s little in it to interest a paleontologist, and it is usually discarded. But as soon as DePalma started digging he noticed grayish-white specks in the layers which looked like grains of sand but which, under a hand lens, proved to be tiny spheres and elongated droplets. “I think, Holy shit, these look like microtektites!” DePalma recalled. Microtektites are the blobs of glass that form when molten rock is blasted into the air by an asteroid impact and falls back to Earth in a solidifying drizzle. The site appeared to contain microtektites by the million.
As DePalma carefully excavated the upper layers, he began uncovering an extraordinary array of fossils, exceedingly delicate but marvellously well preserved. “There’s amazing plant material in there, all interlaced and interlocked,” he recalled. “There are logjams of wood, fish pressed against cypress-tree root bundles, tree trunks smeared with amber.” Most fossils end up being squashed flat by the pressure of the overlying stone, but here everything was three-dimensional, including the fish, having been encased in sediment all at once, which acted as a support. “You see skin, you see dorsal fins literally sticking straight up in the sediments, species new to science,” he said. As he dug, the momentousness of what he had come across slowly dawned on him. If the site was what he hoped, he had made the most important paleontological discovery of the new century.
The spaceship hurtling away from Earth is staffed with men and women sprung from death row to aid in a mysterious science experiment. The once-condemned crew believe they’ve been given a chance to redeem themselves and do one final good deed for humanity. Only later, as their signals to Earth begin to go unanswered and their true mission comes into focus, do they realize they have in fact been condemned twice.
High Life is strange and wondrous, less a traditional sci-fi film than it is a seductive journey into the long, black night of death. For many Americans it will also be a wormhole into the work of French director Claire Denis, who’s been active in cinephile circles for three decades but has never before helmed a movie entirely in English. Of course, having the hipness cred of A24 and Robert Pattinson providing the rocket fuel doesn’t hurt.
A prologue that wouldn’t be out of place in a Tarkovsky film shows Pattinson’s human guinea pig Monte in the aftermath of something horrible, wandering alone on the deck of this rocket to nowhere, with only a mysterious baby keeping him company. It’s a great hook — what the hell happened here? — shot at Denis’ familiar meandering pace, proving that even lightspeed won’t rush her story. It’s also a mission statement. As he hurtles toward oblivion, Monte’s acts of paternal care exist in a kind of vacuum. Maybe life and love are possible within a universe of infinite cruelty, and it’s up to the individual to determine their worth.
The fossil of a 43-million-year-old whale with four legs, webbed feet and hooves has been discovered in Peru.
Palaeontologists believe the marine mammal’s four-metre-long (13 ft) body was adapted to swim and walk on land.
With four limbs capable of carrying its weight and a powerful tail, the semi-aquatic whale has been compared to an otter or a beaver.
Researchers believe the discovery could shed light on the evolution of the whale and how it spread.
“This is the most complete specimen ever found for a four-legged whale outside of India and Pakistan,” Dr Olivier Lambert, a scientist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and co-author of the study, said.
Call a dog by his name, and his tail wags, he starts panting happily, and he showers you with love and affection.
Call a cat by his name, and… well, cats are a bit harder to read. Does the cat even know what his name is?
So researchers in Japan set out to answer the question: Can a cat understand the difference between its name and any other random word that sounds like it?
Research on cats is slim compared to research on dogs. That may be because cats can’t be bothered to participate in the experiments. But in a study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, the Japanese researchers devised a way to get results whether or not the cats cared to cooperate.
Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Greg Hullender, Michael Toman, ULTRAGOTHA,
Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Daniel Dern.]