(1) SPFBO #7 WINNER. J. D. Evans won Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off #7 with her novel Reign & Ruin.
SPFBO 8 is expected to open for contestants at 1 p.m. BST on May 14.
(2) A PEJORATIVE RECLAIMED. In “The Space Opera Sci-Fi Subgenre, Explained”, Joshua Kristian McCoy brings the GameRant audience up to speed.
…Space opera refers to large-scale sci-fi which concerns itself with massive interplanetary battles, dashing heroes, old-fashioned romance, and general classic adventure stories, but in space. The term has its origin, not in opera theater, but in the soap opera genre. That dramatic subgenre, best known for The Young and the Restless and a thousand other endlessly serialized TV series, is actually inspired by the even earlier term horse opera. This term refers to a massive pile of formulaic westerns which largely followed the identical plot and narrative trappings. Space opera was coined in 1941 by author Wilson Tucker in a sci-fi fanzine, who famously noticed that a fair amount of recent sci-fi narratives were bare-bones horse operas, but set in space. The term was an insult for the first few decades of its existence, but it evolved from there….
…Before and during the Star Wars phenomenon came Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, which, like much of the subgenre, was partially inspired by TV westerns. These are two of the most important properties in sci-fi history, and despite some debate, both often fit comfortably into the space opera subgenre. Star Wars and Star Trek spawned new eras of space opera, transforming what was once an insult into a substantial audience draw….
(3) THEY WHO BECAME PROFILED IN THE NEWSPAPER. [Item by Olav Rokne.] The Sydney Morning Herald profiled Shelley Parker-Chan, noting that they’re the first Australian author to be shortlisted for the Best Novel Hugo. (I’d add that they’re actually only the fourth Australian author shortlisted for any prose Hugo award. The other three being Greg Egan, Margo Lanagan, and Sean McMullen). It’s a really good piece that sheds some light into the sources of inspiration behind this quite remarkable book. “She Who Became the Sun becomes first Australian novel nominated for Hugo Award”.
The author is quoted: “there is something fundamentally radical about science fiction and fantasy that makes it a great place for people to work when they want to explore that intersection between race, gender, culture and colonialism.”
(4) THE PLACE TO LEARN. Clarion West released their 2020-21 Annual Report today. There are messages from the board, staff, and students; financial and donor information; and a roundup of achievements by Clarion alumni. There is also this report on how they’ve addressed accessibility issues raised about past workshops.
Over the last two years, Clarion West has cemented its commitment to providing accessible programming. We are making adjustments to lower the barriers affecting people from a variety of backgrounds and abilities, and we will continue to address needs on an ongoing basis.
Here is an update of the work we’ve done to date and what we will be focusing on moving forward:
The Clarion West website
We’ve added the User Way accessibility widget to assist with visual adaptations for our website as an interim measure toward ensuring a greater variety of access to our site. We understand that this app alone is not a long-term solution and we are planning to work with consultants to ensure ongoing improvements, including better content, video, and image descriptions.
We have added an accessible information page and attempt to link to it on almost every class and workshop page.
Online classes and events
We have invested in closed captioning features for online classes and events, with live captioning or ASL interpreters upon request. With instructor permission, class recordings are available after each class for students to review at their own pace. Slides and other materials are provided as far in advance of each class as possible.
Clarion West has made a commitment to only partner with facilities that provide ADA accessible spaces and other accommodations. Whenever possible, we seek to partner with other nonprofit organizations to maximize these efforts, share resources, and ensure the best possible experiences for all participants.
The 2022 workshop will be held in accessible housing located a short distance from the Highline College campus in Des Moines, WA.
As we look toward the future, we will be looking into additional adaptive devices, opportunities to improve services, and feedback for all of our programming. If you see a need for increased accessibility that we have not yet identified, please let us know the issue as well as any suggestions you have to reduce barriers to accessibility
(5) DRIVERS OF CHANGE. In Vauhini Vara’s debut novel, a boy from rural India becomes a tech mogul in a world consumed by Big Tech. “She Wrote a Dystopian Novel. Now Her Fiction Is Crossing Into Reality.” The New York Times tells how.
Vauhini Vara started writing her debut novel 13 years ago, when she was working as a technology journalist and meeting chief executives like Larry Ellison of Oracle and Mark Zuckerberg of what was then a very young Facebook.
The lack of South Asian leaders in the industry sparked an idea: Her main character, an Indian, would become a tech C.E.O. in the United States. By making her protagonist a man from the Dalit community, which ranks lowest in the Hindu hierarchical caste system, she was simply incorporating what she had a connection to, she said; her father is Dalit, and grew up on a coconut grove in rural India.
Those deeply personal decisions turned out to be prescient. Now, as she prepares for the publication of her novel, “The Immortal King Rao,” on May 3, six of the world’s largest technology companies — Adobe, Alphabet, IBM, Microsoft, Google and Twitter — are being led by men of Indian descent.
(6) SCI-FI FEEDBACK LOOP. Everyone is invited to “The Sci-Fi Feedback Loop: Mapping Fiction’s Influence on Real-World Tech”, a webinar taking place Thursday, May 12, from 2-3 p.m. Eastern. Panelists include science fiction authors Cory Doctorow and Malka Older, SF scholars Sherryl Vint and Michael G. Bennett, investor Tim Chang, and tech policy researcher Kevin Bankston.
This event is the first in a series for the Applied Sci-Fi Project at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, which seeks to understand the influence of science fiction on technology and the people who build it, and to study the ways that sci-fi storytelling can be used as a tool for innovation and foresight.
The event is free and open to everyone. Here is the registration link.
There’s little question that the imaginary futures of science fiction have influenced the development of real-world technologies, from space travel to cyberspace. Join Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination for a virtual conversation among sci-fi authors, scholars, and technologists, examining this feedback loop between science fiction and technical innovation. We’ll dive into the history of sci-fi’s influence, and consider its impact on the direction of technology development today.
(7) THE C3 IN HERO. Helen Lowe analyzes “What Makes A Hero? #3: Commitment” at Supernatural Underground.
On 1 March, I asked the question, “What Makes A Hero?” and looked at “the Call”, the first of three C’s that inform my thinking on the subject.
Last month, on 1 April, I checked out C number two: Circumstance.
This month, it’s time for Commitment. (I know, I know, you got that from the title already, but hey — unfolding logic and everything in its proper order, ok? OK!)
…One of the most famous instances of commitment in Fantasy is when Frodo volunteers to take the One Ring to Mordor:
(8) FLOUNCING FROM ORBIT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Will they follow through this time? Who knows. “Russia Will Quit International Space Station Over Sanctions” reports Bloomberg.
The head of Russia’s space program said Moscow will pull out of the International Space Station, state media reported, a move it has blamed on sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine.
“The decision has been taken already, we’re not obliged to talk about it publicly,” Tass and RIA Novosti reported Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin as saying in an interview with state TV on Saturday. “I can say this only — in accordance with our obligations, we’ll inform our partners about the end of our work on the ISS with a year’s notice.”
Rogozin earlier this month threatened to end Russia’s mission unless the U.S., European Union and Canada lifted sanctions against enterprises involved in the Russian space industry.
The orbital research space station had until the war remained a rare area of cooperation between Russia and the U.S. and its allies despite steadily worsening relations. But Russia’s unprecedented international isolation since it invaded Ukraine in February has marked the demise of this symbol of joint space exploration.
Three Americans and an Italian astronaut docked at the space station on Wednesday, joining three other Americans, three Russians and a German already on the ISS.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1952 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Seventy years ago this even ion ABC, Tales Of Tomorrow aired its “Red Dust” episode. As the copy provided by the network said, “The first human mission to another solar system loses 2 crew on a red dust-covered planet, which once had an advanced civilization. Due to allergies, neither of the shipmates got anti-radiation shots, so the remaining crew aren’t concerned about their own return to Earth. But then the red dust starts to appear everywhere on the space ship.”
It was directed by Don Medford from a script by Irving Elman from the play by noted SF writer Theodore Cogswell, a member of the First Fandom Hall of Fame. It was an original work by him and not based off anything that he’d previously done. Cogswell was nominated at ConAdian for his PITFCS: Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies as a Best Non-Fiction Related Book, and he had a Retro Hugo nomination at Noreascon 4 for his “The Wall Around the World” novelette.
The cast was Fred Stewart, Lex Barker, Skedge Miller and Robert Patten. You can watch it here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 2, 1921 — Satyajit Ray. Bengali filmmaker, screenwriter, graphic artist, lyricist, music composer and writer who is here for his genre fiction which fortunately has been translated into English as most of us don’t read Bengali. Over a decade recently, three collections came in English The Diary of a Space Traveller and Other Stories, Classic Satyajit Ray and The Collected Short Stories) with most of his genre work in the collection. There are nine stories involving Professor Shonku, his most popular SF character. (Died 1992.)
- Born May 2, 1924 — Theodore Bikel. He was on Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s fourth season in order to play one of the foster parents to Worf in the “Family” episode as CPO Sergey Rozhenko, retired. That and playing Lenonn in Babylon 5: In the Beginning are the roles I want to note. Well there is one minor other role he did — he voiced Aragon in a certain The Return of the King. (Died 2015.)
- Born May 2, 1925 — John Neville. I’ve mentioned before that Kage considered Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen to be one of her favorite films and John Neville was one of the reasons that she did. You can read her review here. Among his other genre roles, Neville had a prominent recurring role in The X-Files as The Well Manicured Man. And he showed up playing Sir Isaac Newton on The Next Generation in the “Descent” episode. (Died 2011.)
- Born May 2, 1938 — Bob Null. Very long-time LASFS member who was the Club’s VP for an equally long period. Fancyclopedia 3 say that “He also sat on the Board of Directors, and frequently handled logistics for local conventions including both Loscon and local Worldcons, and was always one of those nearly invisible hard-working people who make fandom work. He is a Patron Saint of LASFS.” (Died 2010.)
- Born May 2, 1942 — Alexis Kanner. His first genre appearance was on The Prisoner where he so impressed McGoohan in the “Living in Harmony” episode that he created a specific role for him in the series finale, “Fall Out” where he stands trial. He also has an uncredited role in “The Girl Who Was Death” in that series. His final known acting role was as Sor in Nightfall based off the Asimov story of the same name. (Died 2003.)
- Born May 2, 1946 — David Suchet, 76. Though rather obviously better remembered as Hercule Poirot, he does show up on in a Twelfth Doctor story, “Knock Knock”, simply called Landlord. Don’t let that deceive you. He’s appeared in some other genre work from time to time including Greystoke — The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, Harry and the Hendersons, Dr. No — The Radio Play, Wing Commander, Tales of the Unexpected and Peter Pan Goes Wrong.
- Born May 2, 1946 — Leslie S. Klinger, 76. He is a noted literary editor and annotator of classic genre fiction. He is the editor of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, a three-volume edition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes fiction with extensive annotations, with an introduction by John le Carré. I’d also like to single out him for his The Annotated Sandman, Vol. 1, The New Annotated Frankenstein and The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft. The Horror Writers of America honored him with their Silver Hammer Award given to a HWA volunteer who has done a truly massive amount of work for the organization, often unsung and behind the scenes.
- Born May 2, 1972 — Dwayne Johnson, 50. Ok I wasn’t going to include him until stumbled across the fact that he’d been on Star Trek: Voyager as The Champion in the “Tsunkatse” episode. Who saw him there? Of course, it’s not his only genre role as he was the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns, played Agent 23 in Get Smart, voiced Captain Charles T. Baker In Planet 51, was the tooth fairy in, errr, the Tooth Fairy, was Hank Parsons in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, was Roadblock in G.I. Joe: Retaliation (anyone watch these?), was a very buff Hercules in Hercules, voiced Maui in Moana, was Dr. Smolder Bravestone in both Jumanji films(not on my bucket list) and was one of the Executive Producers of Shazam! which gets a huh from me where he played Black Adam but the forthcoming Black Adam sounds like it could be damn great.
(11) RESCUED FROM OBSCURITY. Davide Mana profiles the forgotten Italian pulp science fiction writer Nora de Siebert: “The lady writes the pulps: Nora de Siebert” at Karavansara.
…Many of De Siebert’s SF stories were often set against the background of future societies in which women were relegated to a subordinate, “ornamental” roles – usually by design and with the help of mind controlling techniques, as men had found out that women could beat them at their own game if allowed; the main protagonists in these stories usually rebelled against the status quo. Not bad, for stories written in a backwater like Italy, in the 1950s….
(12) A WRITER’S GENESIS. Grimdark Magazine features “An Interview With Ben Aaronovitch”.
[GdM] How did you become a novelist? Can you tell us about Waterstones and how Rivers of London come about?
I started as a script writer but after my first Doctor Who I was offered the chance to novelise my story which is like someone saying they’ll pay you good money to learn how to write prose. Once I’d done a 40,000 word novella I knew I could do a full length book. After a few more tie in novels for Virgin and Big Finish I was confident I could write well to that format. When my career as a scriptwriter fizzled out I found myself working in Waterstones and going slowly bankrupt. Faced with penury or worse- moving out of London, I turned to prose to make my one and only talent, writing, pay. The question was – what kind of novel would I write?
(13) SWIPER, NO SWIPING! The New York Times discovers that “In Echo of Soviet Era, Russia’s Movie Theaters Turn to Pirate Screenings”.
Since the invasion of Ukraine, Hollywood’s biggest studios have stopped releasing movies in Russia, and Netflix has ceased service there. But recently, some of the companies’ films have started appearing in Russian movie theaters — illegally.
The screenings are reminiscent of the Soviet era, when the only way to see most Western films was to get access to a pirated version. Whereas those movies made their way to Russians in the form of smuggled VHS tapes, today, cinemas in the country have a simpler, faster method: the internet. Numerous websites offer bootleg copies of movies that take minutes to download.
Some theaters in Russia are now openly screening pirated movies; others are being more careful, allowing private individuals to rent out spaces to show films, free or for a fee. One group, for example, rented out several screening rooms at a movie theater in Yekaterinburg, then used social media to invite people to buy tickets to watch “The Batman.”…
(14) THE GREEN HILLS OF SOFTWARE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Vice tells us that Californian and Green Hills Software owner Dan O’Dowd has exactly one plank in the platform for his Senate run: “All he will talk about is how much he hates Tesla’s self-driving cars and the existential threat computers pose to humanity.”
See the story at “The Billionaire Running for US Senate to Ban Elon Musk’s Self-Driving Cars” for the full interview.
California Senate candidate Dan O’Dowd will not talk about taxes. Or homelessness. Or climate change. Or inflation. Or housing. Or jobs. All he will talk about is how much he hates Tesla’s self-driving cars and the existential threat computers pose to humanity.
“My issue is more important than all of them, because it’s basically about survival,” he told Motherboard. “When cyber Armageddon hits, and everything goes down, I don’t think anybody’s gonna care about taxes.”
It’s not an exaggeration to say that O’Dowd has become obsessed with Tesla’s full self-driving cars. He owns three Teslas and claims to have driven nothing else for over a decade, but believes the full self-driving cars have become so dangerous that they need to be banned immediately….
(15) I’LL BE D****ED. Andrew Porter tuned into tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! and witnessed contestants draw a blank about this one.
Category: From Book to Movie with a Different Title
Answer: “The Midwich Cuckoos” inspired this “Damned” 1960 film about children with frightening powers in a small town.
No one could ask, “What is “Village of the Damned”?
(16) CELEBRITY FOSSIL TO AUCTION. “Christie’s to Sell a Dinosaur That Inspired the ‘Jurassic Park’ Raptor” reports the New York Times. The auction house says this is the first-ever sale of a Deinonychus, the species on which the ‘velociraptor’ in the 1993 movie was based.
Many people know them as agile bipedal dinosaurs with menacing claws and scrunched-up arms, hunting children through a kitchen in “Jurassic Park.”
In the 1993 movie, they’re called velociraptors, but those creatures were more like a different, related species, Deinonychus antirrhopus — a name that the author of the novel “Jurassic Park,” Michael Crichton, considered a less dramatic choice.
The movie helped turn velociraptors (well, technically Deinonychuses) into one of the most recognizable dinosaurs, alongside the T. rex. And now, dinosaur enthusiasts can bid on one of their own.
The auction house Christie’s announced on Friday that it would be selling a Deinonychus skeleton it calls Hector, which was excavated from Montana several years ago. The company said it would be the first public sale of such a specimen. The estimated price tag is $4 million to $6 million, likely prompting most “Jurassic Park” fans to put their paddles down…
(17) TREKKING FOR PEACE. The book launch for José-Antonio Orosco’s recently published Star Trek and the Philosophy of Peace and Justice included this Zoom discussion between him and a few others. The author wears a DS9 uniform for the event and uses its OPS center as a Zoom background.
In coordination with the Concerned Philosophers for Peace, the Anarres Project presents a discussion with the author (and co-director of the Anarres Project) Jose-Antonio Orosco about his new book “Star Trek and the Philosophy of Peace and Justice: A Global, Anti-Racist Approach”. (London: Bloomsbury, 2022) The dialogue is moderated by Dr. Greg Moses (Texas State University), editor of The Acorn Journal: Philosophical Studies in Pacifism and Nonviolence and Communications Director for the Concerned Philosophers for Peace. They are joined by panelists from CPP including Dr. Andrew Fiala (California State University, Fresno) and Dr. Jennifer Kling (University of Colorado, Colorado Springs).
(18) OR WOULD YOU LIKE TO SWING ON A VINE? The Library of America’s Story of the Week is “Cloudland Revisited: Rock-a-Bye, Viscount, in the Treetop” by S. J. Perelman.
. . . Insofar as the topography of Rhode Island and my physique permitted, I modelled myself so closely on Tarzan that I drove the community to the brink of collapse. I flung spears at the neighbors’ laundry, exacerbated their watchdogs, swung around their piazzas gibbering and thumping my chest, made reply only in half-human grunts interspersed with unearthly howls, and took great pains generally to qualify as a stench in the civic nostril. The hallucination passed as abruptly as it had set in; one morning I awoke with an overwhelming ennui for everything related to Africa, weak but lucid. My kinsfolk were distrustful for a while, but as soon as they saw me constructing a catamaran in which to explore the Everglades, they knew I was rational again.
Curious as to why Tarzan had enraptured two generations and begotten so many sequels, movie serials, and comics, I commandeered my son’s copy of the novel and my wife’s chaise longue and staged a reunion…
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Honest Trailers gang comes up with new frontiers for honesty in their take on The Batman. “Honest Theme Songs (‘Kiss From A Bat’)”.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Nick Hudson, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Maytree.]