(1) THE SECOND TIME AROUND? Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki tweeted that he went to a new visa appointment today. He had not posted about the outcome as of this writing.
(2) OFFICIAL SOCIAL MEDIA FOR CHICON 8 – ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES. The Worldcon committee warns that some people are now trying to spoof their social media accounts. Please remember the only official Chicon 8 social media links are @chicagoworldcon — for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
(3) STAR CHART: THE OFFICIAL CHICON 8 NEWSLETTER. The 2022 Worldcon newsletter is primarily online and is now starting to publish things. Find it here: https://chicon.org/star-chart/
(4) FUTURE TENSE. The August 2022 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series, published this past Saturday, is “The Only Innocent Man,” by Julian K. Jarboe (author of the Lambda Award–winning collection Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel), a story about digital communities, privacy, and the ghosts of our online pasts.
It was published along with a response essay, “The plight of the former fanfiction author” by Casey Fiesler, a professor of information science who specializes in ethics, law, and privacy online.
I commonly start a lecture about online privacy by giving a room full of college students a task: In five minutes, who can find the most interesting thing about me on the internet?
Typically this exercise yields precisely what I intend—showcasing the variety of sources of information about all of us online. Someone once found the movie reviews I wrote for my college newspaper; a close family member’s obituary; my recipe for snickerdoodles that apparently once resulted in marriage proposals on Instagram. If it’s been a while since I’ve scrubbed it, my home address might appear on a public data website.
And one year, a student raised his hand and confidently announced, “Dr. Fiesler, I found your fanfiction!”…
(5) MIND TRICK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This “banned book list” fooled Mark Hamill: “Viral list of ‘banned’ books in Florida is satire” explains Politifact.
…Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, tweeted “books we have taught for generations,” alongside the list. She later said she should have “double-checked” before sharing.
“Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill also shared a screenshot of the list on Twitter — amassing more than 100,000 likes and 24,000 retweets.
The Florida Department of Education did not respond to PolitiFact’s request for comment. However, the governor’s office called the list “completely fictitious.”
“The image is fake,” said Bryan Griffin, DeSantis’ press secretary. “There is no banned book list at the state level. The state sets guidelines regarding content, and the local school districts are responsible for enforcing them.”
Griffin also noted that the state’s Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking, or B.E.S.T., standards recommend several of the books included in the “anti-woke” list.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” and Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild” are recommended to eighth graders in Florida. George Orwell’s “1984” is a suggested book for ninth graders, while John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” and William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” is recommended for 10th graders….
(6) SLEAZY PUBLISHER NEWS. A YA fantasy novelist chronicles her encounters with a sleazy publisher for Literary Hub: “What Five Years with a Predatory Vanity Press Taught Me About Art and Success”.
…In truth, I did nothing so wrong, over a decade ago, when I signed the contract with the Oklahoma-based press that promised to fulfill my childhood dream of becoming a published author. It wasn’t my fault that the company went bankrupt after the CEO was discovered embezzling funds from the writers who paid to have their books poorly edited, cheaply bound, and narrowly distributed. It was probably my fault that I hadn’t done thorough research into the industry, but I was seventeen and couldn’t detect a scam tastefully disguised under a pretty contract and alleged Christian values….
(7) WHAT FILERS THRIVE ON. The Millions knows you will be looking for their mistakes after you read “How Many Errorrs Are in This Essay?”, an article about typos.
…A 1562 printing of the sternly doctrinaire translation the Geneva Bible prints Matthew 5:9 as “Blessed are the placemakers” rather than “peacemakers;” an 1823 version of the King James replaced “damsels” in Genesis 24:61 with “camels,” and as late as 1944 a printing of that same translation rendered the “holy women, who trusted God… being in subjection to their own husbands” in 1 Peter 3:5 as referring to those pious ladies listening to their “owl husbands.”…
(8) NECRONOMICON. The New York Times probably doesn’t run a con report very often, I bet. “A Festival That Conjures the Magic of H.P. Lovecraft and Beyond”.
There’s bacon and eggs, and then there’s bacon and eggs at the Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast. Named after the cosmically malevolent and abundantly tentacled entity dreamed up by Howard Phillips Lovecraft, the event, among the most popular at NecronomiCon Providence 2022, filled a vast hotel ballroom at 8 a.m. on a recent Sunday.
To the delighted worshipers, Cody Goodfellow, here a Most Exalted Hierophant, delivered a sermon that started with growled mentions of “doom-engines, black and red,” “great hammers of the scouring” and so on.
Then the speech took a left turn.
“I must confess myself among those who always trusted that a coven of sexless black-robed liches would change the world for the better,” said Goodfellow, who had flown in from the netherworld known as San Diego, Calif. “But the malignant forces of misplaced morality have regrouped from the backlash that stopped them in the ’80s, and the re-lash is in full swing.”…
(9) HUCK HUCKENPOHLER (1941-2022). [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] J.G. “Huck” Huckenpohler died on August 26 in Washington, D.C. He was born in 1941. He was a major figure in Edgar Rice Burroughs fandom, had a substantial collection of Burroughs material and attended many Burroughs conventions, as well as staffing tables promoting Burroughs fandom at Balticon and Capclave. He was an active member of the Panthans, the Burroughs Bibliophiles chapter in Washington, and the Silver Spring Science Fiction Society.
(10) JOSEPH DELANEY (1945-2022). Author Joseph Delaney died August 16 at the age of 77. The English writer was known for the dark fantasy series Spook’s, which included several arcs, The Wardstone Chronicles, The Starblade Chronicles, and The Spook’s Apprentice: Brother Wolf. And he wrote many other works.
(11) MEMORY LANE.
1947 – [By Cat Eldridge.] All good things must come to an end and thus it was with the Thin Man film series that concluded with its sixth installment, Song of the Thin Man, which premiered this weekend in 1947.
There was of course no Dashiell Hammett novel of the same name as Hammett never wrote a sequel, so everything here was up of made up of whole cloth. Steve Fisher and Noel Perrin were the scriptwriters who based it off a story by Stanley Roberts who had done, to put it mildly, a lot of westerns before this.
William Powell is Nick Charles and Myrna Loy is Nora Charles. The chemistry between the two is quite charming and is befitting what Hammett created in the original novel.
This story is set in the world of nightclub musicians, so naturally we see such performers as Jayne Meadows, Gloria Grahame and Phillip Reed.
Nick and Nora’s son shows up twice in the series. The first time has Richard Hall being credited as Nick Jr.; here an eleven year old Dean Stockwell is Nick Charles Jr. Surprisingly (to me at least) he had done eight films already.
The film cost cost $1,670,000 to make and grossed only $2,305,000. It lost $128,000. Those figures by the way came from Eddie Mannix who had a ledger in which he maintained detailed lists of the costs and revenues of every MGM film produced between 1924 and 1962, an important reference for film historians. Fascinating as a certain Trek officer would’ve said.
(In the next decade, The Thin Man television series aired on NBC from 1957–59, and starred Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk. It ran for seventy episodes.)
The Song of the Thin Man gets a rather stellar seventy one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born August 29, 1854 — Joseph Jacobs. Australian folklorist, translator, literary critic and historian who became a notable collector and publisher of English folklore. Many of our genre writers have use of his material. “Jack the Giant Killer” became Charles de Lint’s Jack Of Kinrowan series, Jack the Giant Killer and Drink Down the Moon, to give an example. (Lecture mode off.) Excellent books by the way. (Died 1916.)
- Born August 29, 1904 — Leslyn M. Heinlein Mocabee. She was born Leslyn MacDonald. She was married to Robert A. Heinlein between 1932 and 1947. Her only genre writing on ISFDB is “Rocket’s Red Glare“ which was published in The Nonfiction of Robert Heinlein: Volume I. There’s an interesting article on her and Heinlein here. (Died 1981.)
- Born August 29, 1942 – Gottfried John. He’s likely best-known as General Arkady Orumov in GoldenEye but I actually best remember him as Colonel Erich Weiss on the extremely short-lived Space Rangers. He was Josef Heim in the “The Hand of Saint Sebastian” episode of the Millennium series, and played König Gustav in the German version of Rumpelstilzchen as written by the Brothers Grimm. (Died 2014.)
- Born August 29, 1942 — Dian Crayne. A member of LASFS, when she and Bruce Pelz divorced the party they threw inspired Larry Niven’s “What Can You Say about Chocolate-Covered Manhole Covers?” She published mystery novels under the name J.D. Crayne. A full remembrance post is here. (Died 2017.)
- Born August 29, 1951 — Janeen Webb, 71. Dreaming Down-Under which she co-edited with Jack Dann is an amazing anthology of Australian genre fiction which won a World Fantasy Award. If you’ve not read it, go do so. The Silken Road to Samarkand by her is a wonderful novel that I also wholeheartedly recommend. Death at the Blue Elephant, the first collection of her ever so excellent short stories, is available at iBooks and Kindle though Dreaming Down-Under is alas not.
- Born August 29, 1953 — Nancy Holder, 69. She’s an impressive four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award. I’m not much of a horror fan so I can’t judge her horror novels for you but I’ve read a number of her Buffyverse novels and I must say that she’s captured the feel of the series quite well. If you are to read but one, make it Halloween Rain.
- Born August 29, 1954 — Michael P. Kube-McDowell, 68. A filker, which gets major points in my book. And yes, I’m stalling while I try to remember what of his I’ve read. I’m reasonably sure I’ve read both of his Isaac Asimov’s Robot City novels, and now I can recall reading Alternities as well which was most excellent. God, it’s been twenty years since I read him. I’m getting old.
- Born August 29, 1959 — Rebecca de Mornay, 63. May I note she made a deliciously evil Milady de Winter in The Three Musketeers (1993)? She’s Clair Dupin in The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Wendy Torrance in The Shining miniseries (no, I never heard of it) and Penelope Decker in several episodes of Lucifer. Oh, and she was Dorothy Walker in Marvel’s Jessica Jones series
(13) ROBOSECURITY. [Item by Francis Hamit.] Any resemblance to a certain Dr. Who character is unintended. You note it does not have arms. I’ve owned shares in this company since 2017 and will security jobs going begging I think the company has a great future. Knightscope is listed on the NASDAQ as KSCP. Right now the shares are at an all-time low. They won’t be for long. Full disclosure: Finding new accounts is my side hustle. “Robot helps Northeast Portland hotel cut down on vandalism” reports KATU.
…General Manager Mike Daley says they got him because they were having a lot of issues with vandalism from homeless encampments in the area.
They tried hiring human security but had a lot of staffing issues, so they explored the robot as an option and say it’s work out really well.
Daley says that while the robot isn’t cheap, he provides a lot of security 24 hours a day for less money than it would cost to pay a human to do the same job.
“He patrols a lot, constantly, as you’ve seen,” he said. “He’s got 360-degree cameras, scans license plates. He’s got thermal imaging, so if he sees a guest or somebody that’s at a car, he will gravitate over to that person to check them out. He’s got a noise factor, so people know where he is and know he’s coming.”
Anytime he encounters someone, he immediately alerts the front desk. That person can then see what the robot sees, talk through the robot to anyone in the parking lot and can determine if further action is needed, such as calling 911.
He’s also popular among hotel guests. Daley says people like to get their picture taken with him.
(14) PIGS IN SPACE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport explains why the politics of funding NASA ensured that Artemis was incredibly difficult to build, with “SLS” standing for “Senate Launching System” because NASA projects have to have pork for every district. “NASA SLS moon rocket readied for first launch as Artemis program begins”.
The rocket was late, again. The initial launch date, the end of 2016, was long gone. And in the spring of 2019, Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator at the time, was told it’d be another year or more before NASA’s Space Launch System would be ready.
He was furious and threatened to replace the rocket with one built by the fast-growing private space sector, such as SpaceX. But Bridenstine’s attempt to bench NASA’s rocketwas quickly rebuffed by the powerful interests, including Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), the chairman of the appropriations committee. Those interests had shepherded the SLS through thickets of controversy since its inception more than a decade ago.
Now, after years of cost overruns and delays, damning reports by government watchdogs and criticisms from space enthusiasts and even parts of NASA’s own leadership, the SLS endures, as only a rocket built by Congress could….
(15) ONE HELL OF A PICTURE. “An AI Was Asked To Draw What Hell Looks Like — The Results Are Naturally Disturbing” warns MSN.com
Come on, folks, what do you expect when you ask an artificial intelligence to draw what hell looks like?
That’s right, you get some seriously disturbing stuff to look at. In fact, one of the images riffs on classic paintings of Satan that somehow look even scarier now.
This is the link to the video: “AI generated image of hell” on TikTok.
(16) PLAYING IN THE SANDBOX. This trailer for a new Dune game dropped last week at gamescom: Dune: Awakening.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Joey Eschrich, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]