(This was posted to his personal account, not the official Baen account.)
Kevin Smith is the showrunner of Masters of the Universe: Revelation. The post attracted the attention of a great many Kevin Smith fans, maybe even Smith himself since he’s quite active on Twitter. At any rate, some people tagged Smith in their replies.
Shortly thereafter Korsgaard’s account disappeared, suspended for violating Twitter rules.
Although the original tweet is gone, the replies and the thread itself are still online here. Note that the first response by Declan Finn (who else?) registered over 13.5K views, which shows how active the thread became. [Click for larger image.]
In August Korsgaard opened a brand new Twitter account (@SeanCWKorsgaard) where so far he has made only a couple of posts, the earliest dated August 1. His original account (@SCWKorsgaard) remains suspended.
It may come as a surprise to learn Twitter will still ban accounts if enough users complain. But considering Korsgaard fantasized about killing two directors with big fan bases, there’s no telling how many people may have reported him.
(1) COVER ART. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.]Literary Hub featured a long list of “Best Book Covers of 2022” which included several of genre interest. But the most surprising to see was the final selection, Chuck Tingle’s Bisexually Stuffed by an Orgy of Sentient Thanksgiving Foods. “The 103 Best Book Covers of 2022”.
It’s December, and so according to the tradition we invented this time last year, we go back into the past and review an old science fiction magazine – to see how the field has changed over time, and to see if those old stories still hold up. This year, we tackle the December 1962 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. If you’d like to skim the pages with us, you can find the entire issue online here.
We also have a science fiction cat quiz, believe it or not….
(3) MEDICAL UPDATE. Adam-Troy Castro tweeted about his surgery:
WBD CEO David Zaslav has spoken about his plan to enter the burgeoning FAST channel space, so Westworld and The Nevers would likely be offered in that form, I hear.
The removal of Westworld is a surprise as it remains one of the most recognizable HBO dramas of the last decade. The sci-fi serieswas recently canceled after four seasons so some of its fans may not have caught up on all episodes before it’s removed.
This marks the formal cancellation for the Joss Whedon-created The Nevers, whose six-episode Season 1A aired back in 2021, with the second part of the season yet to be scheduled. It will now end up in the show’s new home whatever that is. The storyline has been crafted in a way that it concludes with Season 1B, sources said….
…There was always a nagging caveat, however. In all of the efforts by scientists to control the unruly power of fusion, their experiments consumed more energy than the fusion reactions generated.
That changed on the morning of Dec. 5, just over a week ago, when 192 giant lasers at the laboratory’s National Ignition Facility blasted a small cylinder about the size of a pencil eraser that contained a frozen nubbin of hydrogen encased in diamond.
The laser beams entered at the top and bottom of the cylinder, vaporizing it. That generated an inward onslaught of X-rays that compresses a BB-size fuel pellet of deuterium and tritium, the heavier forms of hydrogen.
In a brief moment lasting less than 100 trillionths of a second, 2.05 megajoules of energy — roughly the equivalent of a pound of TNT — bombarded the hydrogen pellet. Out flowed a flood of neutron particles — the product of fusion — which carried the energy equivalent of about 1.5 pounds of TNT, or an energy gain of about 1.5.
This crossed the threshold that laser fusion scientists call ignition, the dividing line where the energy generated by fusion equals the energy of the incoming lasers that start the reaction….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
2000 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Paddington Bear
One of the cutest bears in literature, alongside Winnie the Pooh is Paddington Bear. I hereby submit nominations for other extremely cute bears in fiction.
Michael Bond first unveiled him to the world in 1958. He came up with him after he purchased a teddy bear as a Christmas present for his wife, and named the bear Paddington as the couple was living near Paddington Station, so he imagined the arrival of a real bear at the station in his first novel, A Bear Called Paddington.
The sculpture was created by Marcus Cornish in 2000. Cast in bronze, the statue stands on Platform 1 under the station clock and was unveiled by Michael Bond on February 24, 2000. Interestingly the statue is owned by the Paddington Bear shop at the station.
Its present location is the second within the station, the statue having been moved from its original position at the foot of the escalators due to renovation work. He had been unceremoniously… oh let’s let journalist Marin Roberts tell the tale, “To my horror, a few months ago I discovered the Paddington Bear statue had been moved to a really dark, dingy corner on the other side of the station.”
He enlisted the help of a lot of people including Hugh Bonneville, who played Mr Brown in the Paddington Bear films, and that’s he got moved to where he is. He’s supposed to have (eventually) a place in center court.
Bond’s obituary in The Guardian described the statue as “one of the few memorials in London to inspire real affect.”
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 13, 1925 — Dick Van Dyke, 97. Seriously you think I wouldn’t write him up? Bert/Mr. Dawes Sr. in Mary Poppins followed shortly by being Caractacus Pott in the film adaptation in Ian Fleming’s novel Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. (No it’s not the same character as he is in the book.) He voices the lead character in the animated Tubby the Tuba film and plays D.A. Fletcher in Dick Tracy. He narrates Walt: The Man Behind the Myth whose subject matter you can guess. Played Commissioner Gordon in Batman: New Times as well. Shows up in both of the Night at the Museum films which sort of interest me. And yes he has a role as Mr.Dawes Jr. in Mary Poppins Returns.
Born December 13, 1929 — Christopher Plummer. Let’s see… Does Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King count? If not, The Return of the Pink Panther does. That was followed by Starcrash, a space opera I suspect hardly anyone saw which was also the case with Somewhere in Time. Now Dreamscape was fun and well received. Skipping to General Chang in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Opinions everyone? I know I’ve mixed feelings on Chang. I saw he’s was in Twelve Monkeys but I think I’ve deliberately forgotten that film and I’ve not seen The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus yet. (Died 2021.)
Born December 13, 1949 — R. A. MacAvoy, 73. Winner of the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. I’m very, very fond of her Black Dragon series, Tea with the Black Dragon and Twisting the Rope. (Tea with the Black Dragon was nominated for a Hugo at L.A. Con II, the year David Brin’s Startide Rising won.) The only other thing I’ve read of hers is The Book of Kells, so do tell me about her other works. (OGH begins: there’s “R. A. MacAvoy’s Bear Stories”, half-a-dozen true life nature encounters collected here at File 770 in 2017.)
Born December 13, 1954 — Emma Bull, 68. Writer of three of the best genre novels ever, Bone Dance: A Fantasy for Technophiles, Finder: A Novel of The Borderlands and War for The Oaks. Yes, I’ve personally acquired signed copies of each. Will Shetterly, her husband and author of a lot of really cool genre works, decided to make a trailer which you can download if you want here. She’s also been in a number of neat bands, one that has genre significance that being Cats Laughing which has Stephen Brust, Adam Stemple, son of Jane Yolen, and John M. Ford either as musicians or lyricists. They came back together after a long hiatus at MiniCon 50. Again just ask me and I’ll make this music available along with that of Flash Girls which she was also in. And she’s on the dark chocolate gifting list.
Born December 13, 1954 — Tamora Pierce, 68. Her first book series, The Song of the Lioness, about her character Alanna going through the trials of training as a knight, sold very well and was well received by readers. That series is set in Tortall, a world akin to the European Middle Ages. What I’ve read of it I like a lot. She won the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction in 2005, a rare honor indeed.
Born December 13, 1984 — Amal El-Mohtar, 38. Canadian editor and writer. She won Hugo Awards for Best Short Story for “Seasons of Glass and Iron” at WorldCon 75 and Best Novella for “This Is How You Lose the Time War” at CoNZealand (with Max Gladstone). (The latter got a BSFA, an Aurora and a Nebula as well.) She’s also garnered a Nebula Award for “Madeleine“, a World Fantasy Award for “Pockets” and a World Fantasy Award for “Seasons of Glass and Iron”. Very impressive. She has edited the fantastic poetry quarterly Goblin Fruit magazine for the past five years.
Drenching us with a disappointment that can hardly be admitted out loud, James Cameron’s soggy new digitised film has beached like a massive, pointless whale. The story, which might fill a 30-minute cartoon, is stretched as if by some AI program into a three-hour movie of epic tweeness….
…“Kindred” is finally coming to the screen, 43 years after its publication, not as a movie or a mini-series but as an eight-episode season meant to be the first in a series. (Made for FX, it premieres Tuesday on Hulu.) The ingenious premise is still there: Dana James (Mallori Johnson), now an aspiring television writer in 2016 Los Angeles, finds herself being zapped to 1815 Maryland whenever Rufus Weylin (David Alexander Kaplan), the young son of a plantation owner, feels his life is in danger and he needs saving. Only minutes or hours have elapsed in the present when she returns home, sometimes after perilous weeks or months in the past. Like other involuntary-time-travel stories, it is inherently suspenseful, generating cliffhangers at regular intervals, and the show takes full advantage.
The other side of Butler’s storytelling equation has gone missing, however. It is hard to believe much of anything that happens in FX’s “Kindred,” in either the skimpy, cardboard depiction of plantation life or in the clichéd presentation of modern city life. (The present-day plot has, unfortunately, been significantly expanded.) Butler grounded her speculation in historical and, crucially, psychological reality; the series takes her story elements and slices, dices and pads them in a way that keeps us from believing or becoming invested in the characters Butler worked so hard to build….
(11) REMEMBERING CARRIE FISHER. [Item by Dann.] Carrie Fisher is well known for her acting career. Hello Star Wars! She is somewhat less known as a Hollywood script doctor. Her editing/writing skills were frequently employed in improving the character development and dialog of female characters.
Ms. Fisher edited scripts for a wide variety of films including Sister Act and Lethal Weapon 3. Her work on one script in particular resulted in a very brief cameo. The movie was Hook. In the cameo, she is one of a couple enjoying a romantic kiss on the bridge as Tinkerbell flies by carrying Peter Banning/Pan. After being sprinkled with a bit of pixie dust, the couple gently floats in the air above the bridge. The other half of the snogging pair? George Lucas. “George Lucas & Carrie Fisher’s Cameos In Hook Explained” at ScreenRant.
Space-faring ships that turn out to be alive are nothing new in science fiction. There’s more entries every year, but the leviathans often have similarities to previous versions. Many of them are whale-like, with interior corridors that look like the belly of the beast. Some even sing like whales. But while there’s plenty of overdone tropes in science fiction, what exactly constitutes life and sentience is one that is still interesting. As humanity’s understanding of non-human sentient life deepens over time, we continue to explore this concept in our entertainment as well. Here’s some of our favorite living “ships” from TV and film.
First example —
Jean Jacket (Nope)
Nope is the latest sci-fi movie to introduce a living ship. The flying saucer turns out to be an animal rather than a typical UFO. Technically it does carry passengers, for a little while at least. Then it eats them. If only we humans weren’t so delicious and nutritious. The real animals that inspired Jean Jacket’s design—urchins, cuttlefish, squid, and other ocean life— are not really a threat to us. But when a large alien shows those same unfamiliar behaviors, it’s a lot more scary.
Jordan Peele consulted scientists to make his predator more realistic and comment on the dangers of trying to control nature. That’s a tale many of the sentient ship stories that came before tell, and will likely remain a sci-fi theme for years to come since humanity hasn’t yet taken it to heart.
More than 40 years since the fax machine became an office mainstay, it seems the party is finally over. With telecom providers no longer required to offer fax services, these machines may soon be consigned to the dusty attic of bygone tech. But for the TikTok generation, who’ve never known life without wifi, concepts such as fax, dial-up internet and Friday night trips to Blockbuster Video aren’t just outdated, they’re completely alien. Even so, not everyone has forgotten about the charms of older technology. From the clattering keys of an old typewriter to the nostalgic joy of a chunky Walkman, some people have never left their favourite tech behind….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Bruce D. Arthurs, Danny Sichel, Rick Moen, Dann, Steven French, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern (offered with apologies to Peter S Beagle’s opening sentence in his A Fine And Private Place.)]
You’ve written that fantasy involves images “bubbling up” from the writer’s unconscious mind. As you’ve thought about the “Dark Is Rising” novels and spoken about them, have you come to understand that unconscious bubbling in new ways?
I was a child of World War ll England, and if people are dropping bombs on you from the age of four to 10, you grow up with a powerful sense of threat, enmity, Them versus Us, the Dark and the Light. This is also, of course, the stuff of myth and legend, which I read thirstily when young. Ideas come from the imagination, but this unconscious mass is the soil in which it grows.
…Things began to sour just months after the 2020 Disney Investor Day presentation. [Tomi] Adeyemi, according to sources, grew disenchanted with the pace of the project and began pushing for a stronger voice at the table for the adaptation of her book. The author made the case that she should be the one writing the script, a request Lucasfilm was unwilling to accommodate, sources say.
The sides remained at loggerheads until the project was quietly put into turnaround in the fall of 2021. The bidding and winning of Blood and Bone took a couple of months, and when it landed at Paramount in early January with its original producers, Adeyemi now had what she had asked for: creative influence and the right to pen the screenplay.
In the meantime, Lucasfilm, according to sources, has decidedly shifted away from developing projects that are new and is leaning even more toward those already under its umbrella. Those include a series based on the 1988 fantasy Willow, Indiana Jones 5 and, yes, many, many Star Wars movies and shows….
(4) ERIC FLINT MEDICAL UPDATE. Eric Flint told Facebook readers yesterday he has been hospitalized with a staph infection.
Well, I have some bad news, I’m afraid. I’ve been in the hospital for two with a staff infection. Staphylococcus aureus, to be precise. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear to be MRSA or any other especially virulent form of the disease.
That said, staph is nothing to fool with. If it’s a blood infection, as it is in my case, it travels to every part of the body. Little problems become big problems and you’re soon in a world of hurt. So far things are looking good. Once they got me on antibiotics everything started improving. StIll, this take time. The doctors tell me a full treatment takes about two weeks and you can’t stint on it. Unfortunately, that’s going to bring us very close to Superstars Writing Seminar, which I may have to miss. We won’t know for awhile yet, I will keep you informed.
The actor playing Harry Potter has been fired from the Broadway production of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” following a complaint by a co-star about his conduct.
Producers said Sunday night that, after an independent investigation of the incident, they decided to terminate the contract of James Snyder. The exact nature of his conduct was not specified. Snyder did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Producers said in a statement that they received a complaint against Snyder from a female co-star in November and immediately suspended Snyder. The female co-star has decided to take a leave of action from the Broadway show.
The play, which picks up 19 years from where J.K. Rowling’s last novel left off, portrays Potter and his friends as grown-ups. It won the Tony Award for best new play in 2018….
I’ve been connected to Whedon’s worlds both as a fan and as a pro since the late 1990s. I was a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly, and I wrote four Buffy books (a novelization, two novels, and I worked on one of the official reference books) and novelized Serenity and wrote a Firefly role-playing game adventure. As a result, I was always heavily plugged into the intense fandom that grew up around his creations.
And I found myself concerned about the near-deification that went on surrounding him. The “Joss Whedon is My Master Now” T-shirts and the “trust in Joss” mantras — and just generally, referring to him as “Joss” as if he was their friend.
…The interview is the first time Whedon has spoken publicly since he was all but hung in effigy by the entire universe, and he didn’t waste any time inserting his foot once he opened his mouth. At no point does he take responsibility, and he spends lots of time making excuses. He unconvincingly denies many of the allegations, or tries to downplay them….
The untimely death of Robert E. Howard thirty years ago is one of the great tragedies of our genre. The lifelong Texan Howard had his first story, the prehistoric adventure “Spear and Fang” published in Weird Tales in 1925, when he was only nineteen years old. In the following eleven years, Howard published dozens of stories in Weird Tales as well as in long forgotten pulp magazines such as Oriental Stories, Fight Stories, Action Stories, Magic Carpet Magazine or Spicy Mystery. In the introduction to Conan the Adventurer, editor L. Sprague de Camp calls Howard “a natural story-teller, whose tales are unsurpassed for vivid, colorful, headlong, gripping action.”
In 1936, tragedy struck, when Howard’s beloved mother was about to succumb to tuberculosis. Overcome with grief, Howard took his own life. He was only thirty years old….
(8) GOULART REMEMBERED. Frances Goulart, widow of Ron, sent a kind note about File 770’sRon Goulart obituary.
Thank you so much for the tribute to my husband. He would be so pleased with all the attention and love he’s getting. Hope he can read it all wherever he is. We are planning a memorial in June. Please stay in touch for details.
Jean-Claude Mézières, cult comic book author, especially SF, died at the age of 83, on the night of January 22 to 23.
Born in 1938 in Paris, Jean-Claude Mézières is considered a figure of Franco-Belgian comics. He is mainly known for the adventures of Valerian and Laureline, two space-time agents. He worked on these characters alongside screenwriter Pierre Christin, his childhood friend.
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1947 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Seventy-five years ago today in New York City, the Lady in The Lake film opened. Based on the Raymond Chandler novel of the same name. It was the directing debut of Robert Montgomery who also played Phillip Marlowe. The rest of the cast is Audrey Totter, Lloyd Nolan, Tom Tully, Leon Ames and Jayne Meadows.
Steve Fisher, a pulp writer, who published in far too many pulps too list here but I’ll note that wrote some of The Shadow stories, wrote the screenplay. His most significant stories, however, would be published in Black Mask.
Montgomery’s desire was to recreate the first-person narrative style of the Marlowe novels. As the film is up legitimately on YouTube as part of their film series, you can judge yourself if he succeeded in that.
So how was the reception? Well critics didn’t like it. Really they didn’t it at all. As BBC critic George Perry much later put it: “This is the only mainstream feature ever to have been shot in its entirety with the subjective camera. Which means that you, the viewer, sees everything just as the hero Philip Marlowe does. Every so often the camera pauses by a mirror and looking at you in the reflection is Robert Montgomery, who also directed, for it is he who is playing Marlowe.” And I think that’s reflected in the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes who give an ambivalent rating of fifty percent.
He would play Marlowe once more in Robert Montgomery Presents The Big Sleep, a hour long version of that novel that aired on September 25th, 1950. Robert Montgomery Presents for eight seasons.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 23, 1923 — Walter M. Miller Jr. He’s best remembered for A Canticle for Leibowitz, the only novel he published in his lifetime. Terry Bisson would finish off the completed draft that he left of Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, a sequel of sorts to the first novel. He did a fair amount of short fiction as well. He’s poorly represented both from the usual suspects and in the dead tree sense as well beyond A Canticle for Leibowitz. (Died 1996.)
Born January 23, 1932 — Bart LaRue. He was the voice of The Guardian of Forever in the “City on the Edge of Forever” episode of Trek as well as doing voice roles in “Bread and Circuses” (on-screen too) “The Gamesters of Triskelion” as Provider 1 (uncredited) “Patterns of Force” as an Ekosian newscaster (Both voice and on-screen) and “The Savage Curtain” as Yarnek. He did similar work for Time Tunnel, Mission Impossible, Voyage to The Bottom of The Sea, The Andromeda Strain, Wild Wild West, Land of Giants and Lost in Space. (Died 1990.)
Born January 23, 1933 — Emily Banks, 89. She played Yeoman Tonia Barrows in the absolutely splendid “Shore Leave”. Though her acting career was brief, ending twenty years later, she shows up on Mr. Terrific, a series I’ve never heard of, Fantasy Island, TheWild Wild West, Bewitched, the original Knight Rider, Highway to Heaven and Air Wolf.
Born January 23, 1939 – Greg Hildebrandt, 83, and Tim Hildebrandt (died 2006). I’d say best remembered for their very popular and ubiquitous Lord of the Rings calendar illustrations, also for illustrating comics for Marvel Comics and DC Comics. They also did a lot of genre covers so I went to ISFDB and checked to see if I recognized any. I certainly did. There was Zelazny’s cover of My Name is Legion, Tolkien’s Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham and Poul Anderson’s A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows. V’nice.
Born January 23, 1943 — Gil Gerard, 79. Captain William “Buck” Rogers in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century which I fondly remember as a really a truly great SF series even if it really wasn’t that great. He also shows up in the very short lived E.A.R.T.H. Force as Dr. John Harding, and he’s General Morgenstern in Reptisaurus, a movie title that proves someone had a serious lack of imagination regarding titles that day. In Bone Eater, a monster film that Bruce Boxleitner also shows up in as Sheriff Steve Evans, he plays Big Jim Burns, the Big Bad. Lastly, I’d like to note that he got to play Admiral Sheehan in the “Kitumba” episode of fan-created Star Trek: New Voyage
Born January 23, 1944 — Rutger Hauer. Roy Batty in Blade Runner, of course, but did you know he was Lothos In Buffy the Vampire Slayer film? That I’d forgotten. He’s also William Earle in Batman Begins, Count Dracula himself in Dracula III: Legacy, Captain Etienne Navarre in Ladyhawke, the very evil John Ryder in The Hitcher, Abraham Van Helsing in Dracula 3D, King Zakour in, and no I didn’t know they’d done this film, The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power and finally let’s note his involvement in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets as President of the World State Federation. (Died 2019.)
Born January 23, 1950 — Richard Dean Anderson, 72. Unless you count MacGyver as genre like I do, his main and rather enduring genre role was as Jack O’Neill in the many Stargate Universe series. Well, Stargate SG-1 really as he only briefly showed up on Stargate Universe and Stargate Atlantis whereas he did one hundred seventy-three episodes of SG-1. Wow. Now his only other SF role lasted, err, twelve episodes in which he played Enerst Pratt alias Nicodemus Legend in the most excellent Legend which co-starred John de Lancie. Yeah, I really liked it. And damn it should’ve caught on.
Born January 23, 1964 — Mariska Hargitay, 58. Did you know she’s the daughter of Jayne Mansfield? I certainly didn’t. Her first film appearance was as Donna in Ghoulies which is a seriously fun film. Later genre creds are limited but include playing Marsha Wildmon in the Freddy’s Nightmares – A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Series. She also plays Myra Okubo in the Lake Placid film and voices Tenar in Tales from Earthsea. She is by the way in her twenty-third season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit of portraying Captain Olivia Benson which is now over five hundred episodes in length.
(13) A COMICS HISTORY MISFIRE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In today’s NFL playoff game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Rams, NBC broadcaster Al Michaels referred to an electronic gizmo around Buccaneers Coach Bruce Arians’s neck as “a Rube Goldberg machine.”
“I’m sorry,” said Michaels’s colleague, Cris Collinsworth, “Rube Goldberg?”
“It was a long, long, long time ago,” said Michaels.
Al Michaels was born in 1944 and Cris Collinsworth was born in 1959.
We have jetpacks and we do not care. An Australian named David Mayman has invented a functioning jetpack and has flown it all over the world – once in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty – yet few people know his name. His jetpacks can be bought but no one is clamouring for one. For decades, humans have said they want jetpacks, and for thousands of years we have said we want to fly, but do we really? Look up. The sky is empty.
Airlines are dealing with pilot shortages, and this promises to get far worse. A recent study found that, by 2025, we can expect a worldwide shortfall of 34,000 commercial pilots. With smaller aircraft, the trends are similar. Hang-gliding has all but disappeared. Ultralight aircraft makers are barely staying afloat. (One manufacturer, Air Création, sold only one vehicle in the US last year.) With every successive year, we have more passengers and fewer pilots. Meanwhile, one of the most dreamed of forms of flight – jetpacks – exists, but Mayman can’t get anyone’s attention.
“I did a flight around Sydney harbour a few years ago,” he tells me. “I still remember flying around close enough to see the joggers and the people walking around the botanical area, and some of them did not look up. The jetpack is loud, so I promise you they heard me. But there I was, flying by on a jetpack, and they did not look up.”
(15) GAME GETS TV SERIES. This retro cartoon show is coming to Netflix.
Based on the award-winning video game, THE CUPHEAD SHOW! follows the unique misadventures of loveable, impulsive scamp Cuphead and his cautious but easily swayed brother Mugman.
Current science and cosmology tell us the Universe will slowly die and ebb away countless trillions of trillions of years from now, but another model – the Big Rip – says that end may come far sooner, ripped apart by dark energy. Could civilizations survive the Universe itself being torn apart at the atomic scale?
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Bruce D. Arthurs, Chris Barkley, Jen Hawthorne, Cora Buhlert, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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 Camestros Felapton.]
(1) KEEPING THE RR IN GRRM. Thanks to checks from George R.R. Martin and his fellow investors, a moribund Santa Fe, NM railroad is being revived as the Sky Railway, open to riders on December 3. Martin told readers of Not a Blog:
On December 3, right here in New Mexico, we will be opening the Sky between Santa Fe and Lamy.
Sky Railway, to be precise.
That’s the new name of the old Santa Fe Southern, the historic short-haul railroad originally build by the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe back in the nineteenth century. Largely moribund since 2012, the railway was acquired in 2020 by a group that included me, Bill Banowsky (founder of Magnolia Films and Violet Crown Cinemas), bestselling mystery author Douglas Preston, and five other prominent Santa Feans (Margaritas may have had something to do with our decision). We’ve been busy ever since restoring and refurbishing the cars, repairing the tracks and tressels, replacing old seats, fixing broken windows, even installing a new engine into one of our old locomotives. All of which took longer and cost more than we had originally anticipated… but hey, that’s pretty much always the case….
DAC: What is your mood on climate politics in fall 2021? What developments are keeping you up at night? What developments are making you optimistic that we can avoid the worst?
KSR: I’m scared by the latest IPCC report, which confirms that we are in terrible trouble — on the edge of catastrophe. And we need to act fast.
I’m encouraged by the discoveries that I’ve made since writing The Ministry for the Future. I wrote that book mostly in 2019. That’s like a previous geological era now, because of the pandemic. Certainly the timeline that I portrayed in Ministry for the Future, which was vague and notional anyway, is shot, because things are happening faster in the mitigation front.
The catastrophes are coming faster than scientists predicted, but within the range of their predictions. The response is picking up, because the pandemic was a slap in the face. I didn’t know about the Network for Greening the Financial System: 89 of the biggest central banks trying to figure out how to tweak finance towards green work.
I didn’t know that there were actual papers in Nature quantifying the possibilities of pumping water out from under the big glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland. I wrote about them in Ministry for the Future, but I wrote about them as if they were not yet in existence — when they already had been for a few years. So I was behind the curve in some ways.
The Road might go “ever on and on” for Bilbo Baggins, but it has come to a sharp end for the developer of a cryptocurrency called JRR Token, after the estate of JRR Tolkien took legal action to block it.
The Lord of the Rings-themed cryptocurrency, with the tagline “The One Token That Rules Them All”, launched in August. It came with a video endorsement from Billy Boyd, the actor who played Pippin in the films, and the head-scratching claim that “Saruman was trying to unify Middle Earth under centralised rule whereas the fellowship wanted decentralisation. Cryptocurrency is literally a decentralised network.”
The Tolkien estate was not convinced. It took action almost immediately via the World Intellectual Property Organization’s arbitration procedure, where it argued that the product infringed its trademark rights to JRR Tolkien’s name, and that the domain name was “specifically designed to mislead internet users into believing that it and the website to which it resolves have some legitimate commercial connection” with Tolkien….
See, the estate might not have minded if these fellows had started the relationship off right, by paying them a bunch of money (not cryptocurrency, of course.)
The storyboards for the doomed 1970s film version of sci-fi classic Dune have sold for €2.66m ($3m) at auction, about 100 times the expected price.
Long considered a mythical object by sci-fi fans, the notebook of drawings for the film by Franco-Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky triggered a bidding war at Christie’s in Paris.
The film project was supposed to bring together some major stars of the period, including Salvador Dalí, Mick Jagger and Pink Floyd – but fell apart after four years of preparation due to lack of funding.
The auction went down to two determined bidders, with an American eventually emerging victorious.
Christie’s admitted their initial valuation for the drawings – between €25,000 and €35,000 – had failed to account for the spike in interest triggered by the new version of the film starring Timothée Chalamet, which has topped box offices around the world.
(5) MAZE BRUNNER. The New Yorker tells “How the World’s Foremost Maze-Maker Leads People Astray”. “Adrian Fisher has devoted the past four decades to bringing back mazes, long regarded as historical curiosities. He has created more than seven hundred—including one on a skyscraper in Dubai and another that’s now reproduced on Britain’s five-pound note.”
…[Archbishop] Runcie’s dream gave him an idea: Fisher wrote to the letters page of the London Times, briefly outlining the maze’s long history as a Christian symbol and noting that, as in the Archbishop’s dream, a maze’s goal is typically reached not by “pressing toward the center” but, rather, by “returning almost to the edge,” in order to find the proper path. In his signature, Fisher styled himself a “Maze Consultant,” and, before long, this stealth marketing had reeled in a customer, and Minotaur’s first public commission. Lady Elizabeth Brunner, a former actress who was married to a chemical magnate, invited Fisher to tea. Over scones and jam, she wondered aloud whether he might create an Archbishop’s Maze, inspired by Runcie’s words, in her garden at Greys Court, a Tudor manor house in Oxfordshire….
(6) WARHAMMER AGAINST HATE GROUPS. It is unknown what the inciting incident (if any) was for this, but Games Workshop put out a very strong statement about not wanting any real-life hate groups represented at their events and stores: “The Imperium Is Driven by Hate. Warhammer Is Not.” The full statement is at the link.
…That said, certain real-world hate groups – and adherents of historical ideologies better left in the past – sometimes seek to claim intellectual properties for their own enjoyment, and to co-opt them for their own agendas.
We’ve said it before, but a reminder about what we believe in:
“We believe in and support a community united by shared values of mutual kindness and respect. Our fantasy settings are grim and dark, but that is not a reflection of who we are or how we feel the real world should be. We will never accept nor condone any form of prejudice, hatred, or abuse in our company, or in the Warhammer hobby.”
If you come to a Games Workshop event or store and behave to the contrary, including wearing the symbols of real-world hate groups, you will be asked to leave. We won’t let you participate. We don’t want your money. We don’t want you in the Warhammer community….
What happens when fans of Joss Whedon grow up and start working in television and movies? Netflix’s remake of Cowboy Bebop.
I can’t say for sure if the writers and showrunners on Bebop were, like I once was, huge fans of Buffy or Angel, the two shows that put Whedon on the map. Based on the way the characters speak, it sure sounds like it, though. Over the years, I’ve begun to notice more and more “Whedonspeak,” as the phenomenon used to be called, in mainstream television and movies. Describing the qualities that make dialogue sound Whedonesque is now difficult though, because those qualities are ubiquitous.
….Characters in Whedon’s shows talk a lot, and they talk in very particular ways. Characters are often imprecise in their language, letting sentences trail off as they struggle to articulate themselves. They turn nouns into verbs and vice versa. They say “thing” or “thingy” or “stuff” in place of more descriptive terms. Often these characters metatextually comment on their surroundings or the environments they’re in, usually in a sarcastic or snarky way. The tone of this is pretty “wink wink, nudge nudge,” as if the writers are speaking through the characters to the audience, rather than the characters commenting on the situation they are in….
When Buffy Summers says, “Well, if this guy wants to fight with weapons, I’ve got it covered from A to Z, from axe to… zee other axe,” that’s a prime example of Whedonspeak. When, in long-running BBC show Doctor Who, the titular Doctor says, “This is my timey-wimey detector. It goes ding when there’s stuff,” that is also Whedonspeak. This clip, where the lead characters of Star Wars movie The Rise of Skywalker say “They fly now? They fly now!” to each other shows you how far the phenomenon of Whedonspeak has spread….
…Fans have been waiting for it since 2014, when Written in My Own Heart’s Blood left them hanging, but Gabaldon has been somewhat delayed by the television adaptation of her series, which kicked off that year and on which she is a consultant. Go Tell the Bees, in which Jamie and Claire have finally been reunited with their time-travelling daughter Brianna and her family in 1779 North Carolina, only for the American revolution to cast its shadow over their lives, also runs to more than 900 pages.
I feel sorry for George RR Martin – his show caught up with him. But they’ll never catch me
“It was definitely more of a challenge to write, mostly because of the chronology, which was very complicated,” she says. In any event, seven years is less time than fans of George RR Martin have been holding on for the sixth Game of Thrones novel; Gabaldon has, incidentally, included a chapter in her latest doorstopper called The Winds of Winter – a “nod or a dig, depending on how you want to interpret it” at Martin’s writing speed.
“Poor George, I feel very sorry for him,” she says. “What happened is that his show caught up with him, and he then met with the showrunners and he told them what he was planning to do in that book, so that they could then write accordingly. Only they didn’t write accordingly, they took his stuff, and distorted it and wrote their own ending, which wasn’t at all what he had in mind but used all the elements that he told them.”
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1963 — Fifty-eight years ago, “An Unearthly Child”, the very first Doctor Who story, began airing on the BBC. Scripted by Australian writer Anthony Coburn, the serial introduced William Hartnell as the First Doctor and his original companions of Carole Ann Ford, the Doctor’s granddaughter, Susan Foreman, with Jacqueline Hill and William Russell as school teachers Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton.
Reception was mixed with The Mail, Daily Worker and Television Today liking it very much while the Guardian was rather unimpressed by it. Current critics think it’s fine if a bit long in the latter two parts. There’s a story that it was cancelled after this series due to quite poor ratings before being revived a month later but that makes no sense give the short turn-around time between the two series. It has a sixty-eight percent rating currently among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. You can watch it here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 23, 1887 — Boris Karloff. Where do I start? Well, consider the Thirties. He portrayed Frankenstein’s monster in Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein, and Imhotep in The Mummy. And he played a great pulp character in Dr. Fu Manchu in The Mask of Fu Manchu too! Now let’s jump forward to the Sixties and the matter of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! which featured him as both the voice of The Grinch and the narrator of the story as well. I know I’ve skipped four decades of that means not a word about such as Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde where he was the latter. (Died 1969.)
Born November 23, 1914 — Wilson Tucker. Author and very well known member of fandom. I’m going to just direct you here to “A Century of Tucker” by Mike as I couldn’t say anything about him that was this good. (Died 2006.)
Born November 23, 1916 — Michael Gough. Best known for his roles in the Hammer Horror Films from the late Fifities and for his recurring role as Alfred Pennyworth in all four films of the Tim Burton / Joel Schumacher Batman series. His Hammer Horror Films saw him cast usually as the evil, and I mean EVIL! not to mention SLIMY, villain in such films as Horrors of the Black Museum, The Phantom of the Opera, The Corpse and Horror Hospital, not to overlook Satan’s Slave. Speaking of Doctor Who, Gough appeared there, as the villain in “The Celestial Toymaker” (1966) and then again as Councillor Hedin in “Arc of Infinity” (1983). He also played Dr. Armstrong in “The Cybernauts” in The Avengers (1965) returning the very next season as the Russian spymaster Nutski in “The Correct Way to Kill”. Gough worked for Burton again in 1999’s Sleepy Hollow and later voice Elder Gutknecht in Corpse Bride. He would mostly retire that year from performing though he would voice later that Corpse Bride role and the Dodo in Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. (Died 2011.)
Born November 23, 1951 — David Rappaport. I remember him best as Randall, the leader of the gang of comically inept dwarves in Time Bandits who steal the map to the Universe. I’m reasonably sure that it’s the only thing he’ll be remembered for of a genre nature having looked up his other works and found them to be decidedly minor in nature. Most of them such as The Bride, a low budget horror film, were artistic and commercial disasters. It is said that his death by suicide in 1990 is one of the reasons cited by Gilliam for there not being a sequel to Time Bandits. (Died 1990.)
Born November 23, 1955 — Steven Brust, 66. Of Hungarian descendant, something that figures into his fiction which he says is neither fantasy nor SF. He is perhaps best known for his novels about the assassin Vlad Taltos, one of a scorned group of humans living on a world called Dragaera. All are great reads. His recent novels also include The Incrementalists and its sequel The Skill of Our Hands, with co-author Skyler White. Both are superb. His finest novel? Brokedown Palace. Oh, just go read it. It’s amazing. And no, I don’t love everything he’s done. I wrote a scathing reviewing of Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille that he told us at Green Man that he might be the only person who liked the novel. Freedom & Necessity with Emma Bull is decidedly different but good none the less and his Firefly novel, My Own Kind of Freedom, is stays true to that series. He’s quite the musician too with two albums with Cats Laughing, a band that includes Emma Bull, Jane Yolen (lyrics) and others. The band in turn shows up in Marvel comics. A Rose For Iconoclastes is his solo album and “The title, for those who don’t know, is a play off the brilliant story by Roger Zelazny, “A Rose For Ecclesiastes,” which you should read if you haven’t yet.” Quoting him again, ““Songs From The Gypsy” is the recording of a cycle of songs I wrote with ex-Boiled-in-Lead guitarist Adam Stemple, which cycle turned into a novel I wrote with Megan Lindholm, one of my favorite writers.” The album and book are quite amazing!
Born November 23, 1966 — Michelle Gomez, 55. Best known genre role is Missy, a female version of The Master on Doctor Who from 2014 to 2017, for which she was nominated for the 2016 BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress. I admit having grown up with Roger Delgado as The Master so later performers playing this role took a bit of getting used but she made a fine one. She is also Mary Wardwell in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. She plays Talia Bauerin in Highlander: The Raven which apparently is a very short-live spinoff from the Highlander series. And she shows up in the Gotham series for two episodes simply as The Lady. She is now playing Madame Rouge on the Doom Patrol.
Born November 23, 1967 — Salli Richardson-Whitfield, 54. Best known genre role is as Dr. Allison Blake on Eureka which apparently in syndication is now called A Town Called Eureka. H’h? I’m reasonably sure her first genre role was as Fenna / Nidell in the “Second Sight” of Deep Space Nine but she charmingly voiced Eliza Mazda, the main human character, on the Gargoyles series! She shows up as the character named Dray’auc in “Bloodlines” on Stargate Sg-1 and had a role on a series called Secret Agent Man that may or may have existed. She was Maggie Baptiste in Stitchers, a series that lasted longer than I expected it would.
Born November 23, 1970 — Oded Fehr, 51. Actor from Israel whose most well-known genre roles are as the mysterious warrior Ardeth Bay in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, and as Carlos Oliveira (or his clone) in three of the Resident Evil films: Apocalypse, Extinction, and Retribution. (His Mummy roles no doubt led to his casting in voice roles in Scooby-Doo in Where’s My Mummy? and as The Living Mummy in the animated Ultimate Spider-Man and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.) On Charmed, he played the demon Zankou, the main villain of the show’s seventh season. He’s had an impressively long list of appearances on TV series, including recurring roles on Once Upon A Time, Stitchers, V, and The First, a series about the first mission to Mars. He has also voiced characters on numerous other animated features and series. He appeared in the third season of Discovery as Fleet Admiral Charles Vance.
(11) BIRTHDAY P.S. — CELEBRATING BORIS KARLOFF’S BIRTHDAY![Item by Steve Vertlieb.] Born November 23rd, 1887, Boris Karloff would have celebrated his birthday today.
He was a gentle giant who charmed children of all ages, while thrilling their parents in beloved tales of classic terror. The wonderful Boris Karloff was born on November 23rd, 1887, and is the subject of a new, full length, screen documentary, written and produced by Ronald Maccloskey, entitled “Boris Karloff: The Man Behind The “Monster.”
“Karloff, The Uncanny” became Frankenstein’s “Monster” to generations of adoring movie goers but, at his core, was a cultured gentleman, loving father, and hard working performer who co-created the legendary Screen Actor’s Guild in his quest for equal rights for actors all over the world.
His cinematic legacy is incalculable. William Henry Pratt was a cultured, lovely soul whose presence enriched the timeless fabric of motion pictures, television, radio, and the Broadway stage, and became the most enduringly beloved actor in the checkered history of classic “Horror Films.” Here is my affectionate remembrance of this gentle giant … the undisputed “King of Horror” …the one and only Boris Karloff. “The Thunder Child: Vertlieb’s Views: The Life of Boris Karloff”.
…But on Nov. 1, staffers from Image Comics — home to Spawn, The Walking Dead and Savage Dragon franchises — formed a union called Comic Book Workers United (CBWU), with 10 of the 12 eligible staffers voting to organize and go public. The employees were assisted by organizers from the Communications Workers of America, a labor giant organizing workers across multiple industries.
…While unions are a long-standing reality for the movie-making parent companies of publishers like DC and Marvel, the comic book industry has historically been resistant, with publishers having fired creators discussing the possibility in the past. No creative guild exists solely for comic book freelancers; the Writers Guild of America’s minimum basic agreement is based upon work developed for broadcast rather than print, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America only recently voted to admit comic writers and graphic novelists. “We’re crafting membership requirements for this new group of creators,” SFWA president Jeffe Kennedy says of the organization’s current position.
Of the nine goals the CBWU lists on its website, there is an obvious through-line, visible via repeated requests for transparency in terms of workload and employer expectations; the group asks for the opportunity to provide “white glove attention for all the books we publish … in reasonable proportion to the actual quantity of output we generate.”…
(13) SIGHTED BY SOCIAL MEDIA’S HUBBLE TELESCOPE. John Scalzi explains the growth on his 2008 Best Fan Writer Hugo Award.
(14) STAR TREK MAKES HISTORY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I saw an episode of “The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek” on the History Channel. The episode, narrated by Gates McFadden, was about the animated series of 1973-74. The show’s creators were proud that it is the only version of Star Trek to win an Emmy for writing (others have won for makeup) and that it was the first version of Star Trek to feature Native American mythology. Larry Niven and David Gerrold were both interviewed about their scripts for the series; Niven’s was the rare episode where a character died on Saturday morning cartoon television.
The Center Seat: 55 Years Of Star Trek is a multi-episode documentary series that takes viewers on the definitive in-depth journey behind the scenes of one of the greatest landmark franchises of all time: Star Trek. Celebrating the show’s 55th anniversary, each episode focuses on a different chapter in the groundbreaking program’s history, starting with its inception at Lucille Ball’s legendary production company Desilu. Interviews with the cast, crew and experts reveal never-before-heard backstage stories and offer fresh insights. No stone is left unturned, including lesser-known aspects of the franchise like The Animated Series and Phase II. Additionally, The Center Seat features one of Leonard Nimoy’s final in-depth Trek interviews. Star Trek is the most iconic television science-fiction saga of all time and remains more popular than ever. The Center Seat details how it began, where it’s been, and how it’s boldly going where no television series has gone before!
(15) DUEL. Artist Will Quinn did this piece based on David Lynch’s Dune (1984):
Plan 9 From Outer Space is often regarded as the worst movie of all time, and the making of it is well documented in the Tim Burton biopic Ed Wood, which is about the titular eccentric writer and director. However, as bad as it is, there are a lot of great ideas in it.
As outrageous as it sounds, the movie’s narrative of extraterrestrials attempting to stop humanity from creating a doomsday device that could destroy the universe is oddly relevant. With so much war and nuclear weapons that could be detonated at any time, a Plan 9 From Outer Space could be shockingly dramatic and could play out like an episode of Black Mirror.
…There’s a medical algorithm that favors white patients over sick or black ones, which is unforgivable in a system that already treats black people like an afterthought. Unfortunately in America getting appropriate health care is a lot like playing chess: when you’re white you always get to go first. That’s why my strategy and either one is to just yell “King me!” and see if i get anything extra…
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Shang-Chi And The Legend of Ten Rings” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say the movie is about “the ultimate power fantasy: Kicking your dad’s ass” and the film combines Jackie Chan comedy, wuxia super action, and “the CGI toilet slurry of a Marvel third act.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Jennifer Hawthorne, N., Ben Bird Person, Chris Barkley, Steve Vertilieb, John A Arkansawyer, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Chris S.]
(1) DR. MAE JEMISON. Dr. Mae Jemison will give a talk in the Oregon State University Provost’s Lecture series on February 4. Free registration here.
Dr. Mae Jemison: the first woman of color in space; a national science literacy ambassador and advocate for radical leaps in knowledge, technology, design and thinking — on Earth and beyond. She also served six years as a NASA astronaut. Join us as we explore the frontiers of science and human potential with Dr. Jemison for the next Provost’s lecture on Thursday, Feb. 4 from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. [Pacific] Free, remote, open to all.
(2) BLASPHEMY, I TELL YOU. Throwing-rocks denier James Davis Nicoll unleashes his skepticism on some of the leading hard science authors of the genre: “Five Books That Get Kinetic Weapons Very Wrong”. Heinlein’s The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress supplies the text for his opening lesson.
… On the surface, this seems plausible. A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation assures one that this would be quite vexing to anyone standing where the rock happens to land: at 11 kilometres per second, each kilogram of rock would have about 60 megajoules of kinetic energy, more than ten times the energy of a kilogram of TNT. Nobody wants more than ten kilograms of TNT exploding on their lap.
But…a moment’s consideration should raise concerns. For example, the rebels are using repurposed cargo vessels. How is it they are able to reach the surface at near-escape velocities without fragmenting on the way down? How did the rebels manage to erase Cheyenne Mountain from existence when (given the numbers in the book) it would take about two hundred thousand impacts to do so? How did the rebels cause a tidal wave in the UK when simple math says the wave would only have been a few centimetres high at Margate?
Heinlein probably relied on a simple but useful technique: he didn’t do the math….
There is something post-apocalyptic about the dust bowl-esque farm featured in this book. Did you pull ideas from history or dystopian literature?
I’m a fan of dystopian literature, but I didn’t have any particular piece in mind as I was writing A Tale Magnolious. Certainly, the desperation of the Dust Bowl years and the Great Depression era were at the forefront of my mind as I wrote. I am an avid student of history and think often about periods, like World War II, where there have been great loss, or evil and tragedy, but where humankind has ultimately overcome these horrors through courage, faith, and love. As I crafted Nitty and Magnolious’s story, I kept returning to the idea of hope blooming in the midst of desolation. Even Neezer Snollygost had the chance to alter his self-serving, destructive path, but he chose not to. In a way, I suppose he resembled Tolkien’s Gollum in that his obsessions robbed him of his better self. But others in Magnolious like Windle Homes, gave up their resentments and anger, and once they did, their hearts reopened to love. People have a way of finding joy and one another in the darkest times through love and hope.
For clarity, we would like to state that Directors Notes was in no way involved with the creation of Keratin nor have we profited from the film’s existence. We are however regretful to have used our platform to help promote the film. Had the full facts of its genesis been made clear to us at the time would have declined to run the interview.
As has been pointed out by many commentators, when asked about Keratin’s inspiration Butler and James’ response: “The original concept was inspired by a short online cartoon we saw which we developed further” fails to credit Ellis as the creator of the original online cartoon, nor does it detail the email conversation the filmmakers had with Ellis or his request that they pull the film from festivals.
…Worldbuilding is hard only if you pay too much attention to it. Less is almost always better than more. Use details sparingly rather than to drown the reader in intricate descriptions and faux exotica; question your first and second thoughts; set out a few basic parameters, find your character and start the story rather than fleshing out every detail of the landscape, drawing maps, and preparing recipe cards and fashion plates before writing the first sentence. Wherever possible, scatter clues and trust the reader to put them together; give them the space to see the world for themselves rather than crowd out their imagination with elaborate and burdensome detail.
Most of the heavy lifting for the worldbuilding of War of the Maps was already done for me in a speculative scientific paper, ‘Dyson Spheres around White Dwarfs’ by Ibrahim Semiz and Selim O?ur. That gave me the basic idea: a very large artificial world wrapped around a dead star, its surface a world ocean in which maps skinned from planets were set. Almost everything else was tipped in as the story progressed. Discovering details essential to the story as it rolls out gives space and flexibility to hint at the kind of random, illogical, crazy beauty of the actual world; the exclusionary scaffolds of rigid logic too often do not….
(6) WINDOW ON A PAST WORLDCON. AbeBooks is offering “The Twelfth World Science Fiction Convention Papers” for a tad under $24,000. I now realize one of the disadvantages of the internet age – all those emails I got from pros while organizing convention programs will never be collectibles! Also, I wonder if there’s anything in the archive explaining why SFCon (1954) decided not to continue the Hugo Awards which had been given for the first time the previous year?
A UNIQUE OFFERING THE TWELFTH WORLD SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTION PAPERS. Held in San Francisco in the summer of 1954 with G.O.H. John Campbell, Jr., this was one of the great early gatherings. Included in this massive archive is everything that one might want to know about running a convention: Hotel rates for rooms, banquets, buffet menus, rentals, carpenters, electricians, etc. There are letters from attendees and those who wished to attend but could not; paid invoices from photo shops, printers, etc.; canceled checks (along with some unused ones as well) and check stubs; Radio scripts from local stations and press clippings and pictures from local papers; letters from major Motion Picture Studios answering requests about film availability; SIGNED letters from advertizers (including all the small presses); the entire convention mailing list; black & white photos picturing singularly or in group Ackerman, Anderson, Boucher, Bloch, Campbell, Clifton, Dick, Ellison, Evans, Gold, Mayne, Ley, Moskowitz, Nourse, E.E. Smith, Williamson, Van Vogt, Vampira, et.al. But of course the major importance of this archive has yet to be mentioned. And that’s simply the great abundance of SIGNED letters, post-cards and notes from authors and artists. To wit: Anderson, Asimov (3), Blaisdell, Blish, Bond, Bonestell (4), Boucher (3), Bradbury (4), Bretnor, F. Brown, Howard Browne, Budrys, Campbell (5), Clement, Clifton (2), Collier, Conklin, DeCamp, DeFord, Dick, Dickson, Dollens (8), Emshwiller (2), Eshbach (2), Evans, Farmer, Freas (3), Greenberg (2), Gunn, Heinlein, Hunter (5), Kuttner, Ley (5), Moskowitz, Neville, Nolan (3), Nourse, Obler, Orban (3), Palmer, Pratt, Simak, E.E. Smith (2), Tucker, Williamson (3), Wylie, et.al. Finally, also included is a set of audio tapes which were taken at this convention. Now for the first time (depending on your age I guess) you can not only be privy to what went on at this convention, but also hear the actual voices of Anthony Boucher, John W. Campbell, E.E. “DOC”Smith and others too numerous to mention. A unique opportunity to snatch a bit of vintage post-war Science Fiction history. (The tapes, while definitely included in this grouping, may not be immediately available.).
(7) A WRITER BEGINS. Read Octavia Butler’s autobiographical article “Positive Obsession”, the Library of America’s “Story of the Week.”
…A decade after she published Kindred, as her standing in the literary world continued to rise, Octavia Butler wrote for Essence magazine a remarkably compelling essay outlining the path of her career, from early childhood in the 1950s to her status as a full-time writer in the 1980s. We present her life story as our Story of the Week selection….
MY MOTHER read me bedtime stories until I was six years old. It was a sneak attack on her part. As soon as I really got to like the stories, she said, “Here’s the book. Now you read.” She didn’t know what she was setting us both up for….
The German-American rocket engineer Dr. Wernher von Braun is famous—or infamous—for his role in the Nazi V-2 rocket program and for his contributions to United States space programs. He was, I have argued, the most influential rocket engineer and space advocate of the twentieth century, but also one whose reputation will be forever tainted by his association with Nazi crimes against humanity in V-2 ballistic missile production. Von Braun certainly was multi-talented—he was a superb engineering manager, an excellent pilot, and a decent pianist. In the U.S., he became a national celebrity while speaking and writing about spaceflight. But we don’t think him as a science-fiction writer. It was not for want of trying. Von Braun wrote a novel, Mars Project, in America in the late 1940s and later exploited his fame to publish a novella about a Moon flight and an excerpt from his failed Mars work.
…The political context for his fictional Mars expedition is equally fascinating. Mars Project opens in 1980, after the United States of Earth, with its capital in Greenwich, Connecticut, conquers and occupies the Soviet bloc, aided by its space station—once again called Lunetta—dropping atomic bombs on Eurasian targets. While von Braun reveals his tendency to naïve technological utopianism in the Martian sections, his opening displays a conservative anti-Communism suited to the Cold War hysteria of 1949. His vision of World War III is, to put it plainly, a fantasy of a successful Blitzkrieg against the Soviet Union….
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
February 2, 1925 — The Lost World enjoyed its very first theatrical exhibition. It was directed by Harry O. Hoyt and featured pioneering stop motion special effects by Willis O’Brien, a forerunner of his work on the original King Kong. It’s the first adaption of A. Conan Doyle’s novel of the same name. It’s considered the first dinosaur film. This silent film starred Bessie Love, Lewis Stone, Wallace Beery and Lloyd Hughes. Because of its age the film is in the public domain, and can be legally downloaded online which is why you can watch it here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 2, 1882 – James Joyce. If I call Ulysses or Finnegans Wake fantasy, someone will answer “He just wrote what he saw”, which leads not only to Our Gracious Host’s days as an SF club secretary, but also to Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Marshall McLuhan said in War and Peace in the Global Village he could explain what FW’s thunder said. Half a dozen short stories for us anyway. (Died 1941) [JH]
Born February 2, 1905 – Ayn Rand.Anthem and Atlas Shrugged are ours – meaning they’re SF; I express no opinion on them or Objectivism philosophically, that being outside the scope of these notes. I did put a Jack Harness drawing of JH’s Objectivist Mutated Mouse Musicians in the L.A.con II (42nd Worldcon) Program Book, but that was ars gratia artis. (Died 1982) [JH]
Born February 2, 1933 — Tony Jay. Oh, I most remember him as Paracelcus in the superb Beauty and the Beast series even though it turns out he was only in for a handful of episodes. Other genre endeavours include, and this is lest OGH strangle me is only the Choice Bits included voicing The Supreme Being In Time Bandits, an appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Third Minister Campio In “Cost of Living”, being in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (and yes I loved the series) as Judge Silot Gato in ”Brisco for the Defense.” (Died 2006.) (CE)
Born February 2, 1940 — Thomas M. Disch. Camp Concentration, The Genocides, 334 and On Wings of Song are among the best New Wave novels ever done. He was a superb poet as well though I don’t think any of it was germane to our community. He won the Nonfiction Hugo for The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of, a critical but loving look on the impact of SF on our culture. (Died 2008.) (CE)
Born February 2, 1947 – Eric Lindsay, age 74. Fan Guest of Honor at Tschaicon the 21st Australian natcon, Danse Macabre the 29th. Fanzine, Gegenschein. GUFF delegate with wife Jean Weber (northbound the Get-Up-and-over Fan Fund, southbound the Going Under Fan Fund); their trip report Jean and Eric ’Avalook at the UK here (PDF). [JH]
Born February 2, 1949 — Jack McGee, 72. Ok, so how many of us remember him as Doc Kreuger on the Space Rangers series we were just discussing? I’ve also got him as Bronto Crane Examiner in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, as a Deputy in Stardust, Mike Lutz in seaQuest, Doug Perren in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a Police Officer Person of Interest to name some of his genre roles. (CE)
Born February 2, 1949 — Brent Spiner, 72. Data on more Trek shows and films than I’ll bother listing here. I’ll leave it up to all of you to list your favorite movements of him as Data. He also played Dr. Brackish Okun in Independence Day, a role he reprised in Independence Day: Resurgence, a film I’ve not seen yet. He also played Dr. Arik Soong/Lt. Commander Data in four episodes of Enterprise. Over the years, he’s had roles in Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Tales from the Darkside, Gargoyles, Young Justice, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Warehouse 13. (CE)
Born February 2, 1957 – Laurie Mann, F.N., age 64. Co-chaired Boskone 25, chaired SMOFcon 30 (SMOF is Secret Master Of Fandom, as Bruce Pelz said a joke-nonjoke-joke, besides the Jefferson Airplane comment). Two short stories. Pittsburgh Bach Choir. Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service). Maintains William Tenn Website. Fan Guest of Honor at Rivercon XII, ArmadilloCon 27 (with husband Jim Mann). Program Division head for Sasquan the 73rd Worldcon, also (with JM) for Millennium Philcon the 59th. You might read her “Everything I Learned About Buying and Renovating Buildings I Learned from Monty Wells”. [JH]
Born February 2, 1966 – Frank Lewecke, age 56. Molecular biologist. Half a dozen covers for German-language editions of Herbert-Anderson Dune books. Here is House Atreides. Here is The Butlerian Jihad. More generally this gallery. [JH]
Born February 2, 1981 – Tara Hudson,age 40. Three novels for us. Says she once drove a blue Camaro, got her lowest grade (B) in law school, and in that profession had a great career and stagnated. Many seem happy with the result. [JH]
Born February 2, 1986 — Gemma Arterton, 35. She’s best known for playing Io in Clash of the Titans, Princess Tamina In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace, and as Gretel in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. She also voiced Clover in the current Watership Down series. (CE)
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Tom Gauld depicts “The Runaway Lobster-Telephone Problem.”
(13) SPASEBO BOLSHOYA SUPERMAN. You don’t need millions of dollars for special effects anymore if you have a drone with a tiny camera: “Superman With a GoPro”. (Don’t ask me why the closed captions are in Russian.)
Whedon is back with HBO’s “The Nevers,” albeit with a twist. While Whedon created and executive produced the Victorian Era science fiction series, he announced in November he was stepping away from the series. By this point, “The Nevers” had already wrapped production on its six-episode first season. Whedon is no longer involved with “The Nevers,” but HBO’s teaser trailer for the show is peak Whedon with its clashing of genres and super-powered female action heroes.
Society fears what it cannot understand. Experience the power of The Nevers, a new @HBO original series, this April on @HBOmax. In the last years of Victoria’s reign, London is beset by the “Touched”: people — mostly women — who suddenly manifest abnormal abilities, some charming, some very disturbing. Among them are Amalia True (Laura Donnelly), a mysterious, quick-fisted widow, and Penance Adair (Ann Skelly), a brilliant young inventor. They are the champions of this new underclass, making a home for the Touched, while fighting the forces of… well, pretty much all the forces — to make room for those whom history as we know it has no place.
(15) I SAY I’M SPINACH. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] MIT scientists have used nanotechnology to enable spinach to detect components of explosives and other hazardous substances. The spinach plants can also send out an alert via e-mail, so guess what the headline is about. Though automatic e-mail alerts aren’t anything unusual. My furnace regularly e-mails me as well. From Euronews, “Scientists have taught spinach to send emails and it could warn us about climate change”.
…Through nanotechnology, engineers at MIT in the US have transformed spinach into sensors capable of detecting explosive materials. These plants are then able to wirelessly relay this information back to the scientists.
When the spinach roots detect the presence of nitroaromatics in groundwater, a compound often found in explosives like landmines, the carbon nanotubes within the plant leaves emit a signal. This signal is then read by an infrared camera, sending an email alert to the scientists.
This experiment is part of a wider field of research which involves engineering electronic components and systems into plants. The technology is known as “plant nanobionics”, and is effectively the process of giving plants new abilities….
(16) POWER WALK. [Item by Michael Toman.] Just in case Other Mostly Shut-In “At Risk” Filers can use some inspiration for taking a daily 30-minute Masked Walk for exercise toward achieving the goal of 50 miles a month? “Astronauts Wind Down After Spacewalk, Reap Space Harvest” from the NASA Space Station blog.
…NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover completed their second spacewalk together on Monday wrapping up a years-long effort to upgrade the station’s power system. They relaxed Tuesday morning before spending the afternoon on a spacewalk conference and space botany.
The duo joined astronauts Kate Rubins of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of JAXA and called down to spacewalk engineers after lunchtime today. The quartet briefed the specialists on any concerns or issues they had during the Jan. 27 and Feb. 1 spacewalks….
(17) BEWARE REDSHIRT ARMED WITH UKULELE. Howard Tayler tweeted a rediscovered drawing of John Scalzi, eliciting this comment from the subject.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Mandalorian Season 2” on Honest Trailers. the Screen Junkies say the show combines “the world of Star Wars, the feel of old samurai movies, and the emotional core of Reddit’s r/awww community because every time you see Baby Yoda, you want to go “Awwwww!”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Michael Toman, Hampus Eckerman, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, Rob Thornton, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John Hertz, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]
…Mr. Clark was kind enough to talk with me about the music behind his new novella, the novella’s long (and then fast) journey to publication, how the novella got personal, and more. Let’s get to the interview!
NOAF: You mention on your blog that this story was in your head for a long time before you wrote it down. Can you tell us about when and why you decided to write the story down? And while you were drafting it out, did were there any scenes or characters that ended up completely differently than how you had originally imagined them?
P. Djèlí Clark: Yeah, the story was definitely with me for a while—mostly in dreamt up scenes and characters with a smattering of a plot. Visuals or a song could send me daydreaming for a minute. As I’m prone to do, it’s only when I have a full sketch of a story in my head that I start jotting down notes. That was in early August 2016. I sat down and wrote up Ring Shout from start to ending, on the Notes feature on my iPhone. Then I put it down and went and lived the rest of my life. It wasn’t until April of 2019 that it started to become “a thing.” I was sitting in a DC café, on the phone with my editor Diana Pho about a book contract for an unrelated completed full-length novel. The book world being the book world, it probably wouldn’t come out until 2021. My novella The Haunting of Tram Car 015 had just been released and that meant there’d be this big gap before I was next published. Diana asked if I might be interested in doing another novella in between—that is, if I had any ideas. I pitched two concepts, one of which was Ring Shout. It ended up in the contract.
Then came the real trouble. I had nothing written but a set of notes from almost 3 years back and a head full of ideas. I had until about September to turn it into a working story. Planned to get it done that summer. But nope. Academic work and copyedits on the unrelated full-length novel pretty much devoured my writing time. Finally, I got started on August 30, 2019. Two days before it was due. Had to ask for an extension. Then somehow, in the next four weeks, got it written. By that time whole new characters had been added, scenes had changed, and elements of the overall plot had been rewritten—so that it only resembles in passing those original notes from 2016. But hey, that’s the writing process….
Over the past seven months, the Eboard Con Chair Team, along with Assistant Con Chair Vivian Abraham and the Division Heads, have been working hard to determine what we need to recreate the Arisia experience in an online-only convention. Our first step was to make sure that Arisia is squared away with its hotel contract. Hotel liaison Wendy Verschoor, along with Eboard President Nicholas “Phi” Shectman, have been in talks with the Westin Boston Waterfront and Aloft regarding our Arisia 2021 contract. As of September 15, 2020 we were able to come to an agreement. We will not need to have a hotel presence this year, and our continuing contract with the Westin Boston Marriott and Aloft will resume in 2022.
A federal judge presiding over a high-stakes antitrust lawsuit between Apple and Epic Games — maker of the popular video game Fortnite — repeatedly slammed Epic on Monday on its legal theories and tactics in the company’s case against the iOS App Store, a court battle that could reshape the digital economy.
Epic is seeking a temporary court order that would force Apple to unblock Fortnite from its iOS App Store. Apple removed the game in August after Epic pushed a software update to the app that allowed players to circumvent Apple’s proprietary in-app payment system — a move that is contractually prohibited.
…Judge Gonzalez Rogers looked skeptically at many of Epic’s claims, explicitly telling the company several times in the hearing she was not persuaded by its arguments or its strategy.
Epic knew that it was breaching its contract with Apple when it published the update, but did it anyway, she said, accusing the company of dishonesty.
Apple has justified its app store policies partly as a way to protect consumers from security risks and malicious software. Epic has countered that it is a credible business that has been on the iOS App Store for years and poses no security threat. But Gonzalez Rogers said that is not the issue.
“You did something, you lied about it by omission, by not being forthcoming. That’s the security issue. That’s the security issue!” Gonzalez Rogers told Epic. “There are a lot of people in the public who consider you guys heroes for what you guys did, but it’s still not honest.”
Epic’s attorneys acknowledged that the company breached its agreement with Apple but claimed Epic was simply refusing to comply with an anti-competitive contract, and that forcing a legal battle was part of Epic’s plan.
…It also cited Apple’s in-app payment system as an example of illegal tying — when a company bundles two products together for anti-competitive gain.
But there is no tying going on with Apple’s in-app payment system, Gonzalez Rogers observed.
“I’m not particularly persuaded,” she said of the in-app payment mechanism. “I just don’t see this as a separate and distinct product.”
Nor did the judge buy Epic’s argument that Apple has harmed the distribution of Fortnite because of Apple’s exclusive control of the iOS App Store. Fortnite players on iOS have a variety of choices to access the game even if it is no longer available on iOS, she said.
“Walled gardens have existed for decades,” she said. “Nintendo has had a walled garden. Sony has had a walled garden. Microsoft has had a walled garden. What Apple’s doing is not much different… It’s hard to ignore the economics of the industry, which is what you’re asking me to do.”
He writes: “In a skewed way, stopping now and admitting that the Fantastic Beasts franchise was a failed experiment would probably do Warner Media, a publicly-traded company, more harm than just bringing the story to a natural conclusion and taking their commercial licks along the way. Call it sunk-cost fallacy.”
September 30, 2005. The Joss Whedon-written Serenity premiered. The sequel, or perhaps continuation, or perhaps finale of, the short-lived Firefly series, it reunited the entire cast from the series. It would overwhelmingly win the Hugo Best Dramatic Presentation at L.A. Con IV beating out The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Batman Begins and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It holds an excellent eighty two percent rating by audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 30, 1915 – Richard D. Mullen. Founder of Science Fiction Studies; co-editor (with Darko Suvin) 1973-1978; returned as editor, managing editor, and like that, 1991. Two books of selected SFS articles, two more on P.K. Dick (with DS & others); essays, reviews, in SFS, Extrapolation, Foundation, Riverside Quarterly. (Died 1998) [JH]
Born September 30, 1926 – Gillian Avery. Historian of children’s education and literature. The Guardian Children’s Literature prize for Edwardian father-son novel A Likely Lad. For us, Huck and Her Time Machine (note pronoun); a dozen others; nonfiction including a Life of Juliana Ewing and an ed’n of Emily Pepys’ Journal (this branch of the family pronounces their name peppis). (Died 2016) [JH]
Born September 30, 1949 – D Potter. Fanziner, photographer, railroad fan. Fan Guest of Honor at Balticon 16. Active in various apas including APA-Q, FAPA, Myriad. Appreciations by Our Gracious Host and Avedon Carol here. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born September 30, 1950 — Laura Esquivel, 70. Mexican author of Como agua para chocolate, Like Water for Chocolate in English. Magic realism and cooking with more than a small soupçon of eroticism. Seriously the film is amazing as is the book. ISFDB says she’s also written La ley del amor (The Law of Love) which I’ve not read. (CE)
Born September 30, 1951 — Simon Hawke, 69. Author of the quite superb Wizard of 4th Street series as well as the TimeWars series. He has written Battlestar Galactica, Trek, Friday the 13th, Predator and Dungeons & Dragons novels as well as the genre adjacent Shakespeare & Smythe mysteries which bear titles such as Much Ado About Murder. (CE)
Born September 30, 1954 – Sylvia McNicoll, 66. Two dozen children’s novels, of which two for us. Silver Birch; four Hamilton Arts Council awards (Body Swap won 2019 Literary Award for Fiction); several more. Website. [JH]
Born September 30, 1960 — Nicola Griffith, 60. Editor with Stephen Pagel of the genre gender anthologies, Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction, Bending the Landscape: Fantasy (World Fantasy Award and Lambda winner) and Bending the Landscape: Horror. Ammonite won both the Lambda and Otherwise Awards. She also garnered a Lambda and a Nebula for the most excellent Slow River. All of her novels are available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)
Born September 30, 1972 – Sheree Renée Thomas, 48. Dark Matter, a NY Times Notable Book of the Year, won World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology, then Dark Matter, Reading the Bones won another; Fall 2016 Obsidian; Jul 2018 Strange Horizons (with Rasha Abdulhadi, Erin Roberts); Aug 2018 Apex. A dozen short stories, fifty poems, essays, for us; many others; see here (Wikipedia). [JH]
Born September 30, 1975 — Ta-Nehisi Coates, 45. He has also written Black Panther and Captain America stories. Issue number one of the former series sold a quarter million physical copies, very impressive indeed. The Water Dancer contains magic realism elements. (CE)
Born September 30, 1982 — Lacey Chabert, 38. Penny Robinson on the Lost in Space film reboot which I did see in the theater and didn’t think it was too bad. She’s done mostly voice acting and children’s features after that. She voiced Gwen Stacy on The Spectacular Spider-Man series and does likewise for Zatanna Zatara on the current Young Justice series. (CE)
Born September 30, 1983 – Angela Kulig, 37. Seven novels, a dozen shorter stories. “I write books, many of which have been published. I live in Las Vegas, which sounds exciting, but I prefer to pretend I live in books.” Website. [JH]
Born September 30, 1985 — Katrina Law, 35. She’s well-known for playing the roles of Mira on Spartacus: Blood and Sand and Spartacus: Vengeance which are sort of genre, and Nyssa al Ghul on Arrow. (CE)
(9) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter says another Jeopardy! contestant missed their shot with a genre topic.
Category: Playing the part on TV
Answer: Mr. Sulu; His own head on “Futurama”
Wrong question: “Who is DeForest Kelley?”
(10) FORD NOVEL RETURNS. Today is the republication date for John M. Ford’s long out-of-print The Dragon Waiting.
Available for the first time in nearly two decades, with a new introduction by New York Times-bestselling author Scott Lynch, The Dragon Waiting is a masterpiece of blood and magic.
Isaac Butler has all kinds of reasons you should read it:
Incendiary is the first in a new Young Adult Fantasy trilogy by author Zoraida Córdova, with the setting inspired by Inquisitorial Spain. Córdova is a prolific YA writer whose work I hadn’t gotten to previously, but one I was hoping to get to at some point, so I requested this novel via inter-library loan once my library reopened.
And well, Incendiary is a really interesting YA fantasy novel, with a compelling protagonist….but also one that feels not quite sure what it wants to do with her….
A Utah man is behind bars after he stole a pickup truck out of a 7-Eleven parking lot.
The victim left the keys in the truck and the vehicle unlocked when he went in to the convience store for a quick stop.
That’s when Bryce Jerald Dixon hopped into the vehicle and took off.
KUTV reports that Dixon took the truck in order to drive all the way to the “Colosseum to get on a flight with alien diplomats.”
Unfortunately, before Dixon could get to the Colosseum, which was some 6,000 miles away across the ocean, he started feeling bad, and decided to return the red pickup truck to the parking lot and its owner, where the police were waiting….
(13) CHEESE FROM OUTER SPACE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Mamie Van Doren On The Red Skelton Show S09E30 (5/24/60” on YouTube is a sketch from a 1960 episode of The Red Skelton Show where Mamie Van Doren is the Queen of Outer Space and Peter Lorre is the Galactic Emperor. They want to destroy the Earth — and the only person who can stop them is Red Skelton’s goofball character Clem Kadiddlehopper! Special cameo by Rod Serling.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Among Us” Fandom Games reviews a mindless phone game from 2018 that’s for “the attention-deficit gaming community” that “searches for something to keep them busy in this time of isolation.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Michael Toman, JJ, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]
The Horror Writers Association is very happy to announce that the 2020 StokerCon™ will be held April 16-19 at the historic Royal and Grand Hotels in Scarborough, England. For the first time, HWA’s annual gathering will be held outside of the USA, but will continue to incorporate such popular StokerCon programming as Horror University, the Final Frame Short Film Competition, the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference and the presentation of the iconic Bram Stoker Awards®. HWA’s President Lisa Morton noted: “HWA is committed to celebrating horror around the world, so I’m especially pleased that our fifth annual StokerCon will be held in the UK, where we have such a committed, strong chapter.” More information on StokerCon UK, including website and ticket sales portal, will be announced soon.
The little boy wore white-framed sunglasses, his stance confident as he stared into the sun.
Everett Reynolds, a 23-year-old Waukegan resident, stood on a stepladder, adding detail and depth to one of the boy’s hands.
The boy, wearing a homemade astronaut suit with a matching backpack made with two-liter bottles, was the center of Reynolds’ original concept for the mural, which he’s been painting on the side of the Zuniga Automotive Service and Towing building on Belvidere Road.
“I wanted to put up something that symbolized forward thinking and to dream big,” he said….
Everett Reynolds, a Waukegan artist, paints a mural Thursday, July 12, on the Zuniga Automotive Service and Towing building on Belvidere Road. The mural aims to inspire kids “to dream big” and pays tribute to Waukegan native Ray Bradbury. (Emily K. Coleman / News-Sun)
Whether you write horror for young people, or want to share more horror stories with the kids in your life, check in every Monday for Young Horror Writing Prompts and every other Thursday for new articles and interviews. Managing members Ally Russell, Mac Childs, and Shanna Heath have each graduated from Children’s Literature professional programs, and are eager to let you pick (not eat) their brains about Young Horror.
Future Young Horror feature topics include: weekly writing prompts; best horror picture/board books; author Q&A’s and podcast episodes; diseases in horror tips and tricks; secrets of a horror-loving children’s librarian; why write short-form horror for kids and teens; and more.
For the second entry in Old People Read New SFF, I chose Xia Jia’s Tongtong’s Summer. I selected it because of the authors in Ken Liu’s exemplary anthology Invisible Planets, Xia Jia’s skillful combination of fantasy and science fiction—what the author called porridge fiction—was the fiction I liked best. Of the three Xia Jia works on offer in Invisible Planets,Tongtong’s Summer (available here) was by far my favourite. I grant “I liked it so surely my readers will too,” generally blew up in my face over on the Young People of the project but if there’s anything experiences teaches me, it is that I don’t learn from experience! Surely the Old People will like this example of recent speculative fiction! After all, I did.
(5) LESSONS FROM SPACE. As part of their One Strange Rock series, National Geographic has published an interview with Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who holds the record for most cumulative days (879) spent in space.
Q: What can we learn from the way the space station is run?
A: During the last 20 years, I’ve been working in an international project. I visited the U.S. several times per year. Canada, Europe, Japan—all the countries that participated in this project. I have lots of friends. And being in space, flying above, we knew that whatever the situation is, we knew that the life of your friend depends upon you, too.
The major thing, actually, that I have gained during space training was friendship. I started it in 1989, the end of Cold War, and our first project was the Mir shuttle project. We started to meet with the Americans and European space people. And then ISS project, it has brought us even closer to each other. And we are tied up so tightly that we can’t live in space without each other.
This is probably my best discovery, that the people of different nations, from different countries, under very severe conditions, can work very successfully, can be friendly all the time, understand each other, though their situations are sometimes really stressful.
But there’s something wrong in the fact that only such difficulties as I’ve just mentioned unite people. This is wrong. There should be something else.
Just across the California border from Yuma, Arizona, lies the town of Felicity, established in 1986 by now 89-year-old Jacques André-Istel. Pretty much the only reason you’d ever visit the town is to see another creation of his, the Museum of History in Granite.
The outdoor museum is made up of a series of 100 foot-long granite panels engraved with a history of civilization as a record for future generations, sorted into categories like History of California and History of Humanity. According to Istel, they’re designed to last for 4,000 years, to serve as a record of our time for future beings, whether from Earth or elsewhere.
In the last year or so, I found a genre that hadn’t previously been on my radar, but which I really enjoy: furry fiction. Kyell Gold had put up his novel Black Angel on the SFWA member forums, where members post their fiction so other members have access to it when reading for awards, and I enjoyed it tremendously. The novel, which is part of a trilogy about three friends, each haunted in their own way, showed me the emotional depth furry fiction is capable of and got me hooked. Accordingly, when I started reviewing for Green Man Review, I put out a Twitter call and have been working my way through the offerings from several presses.
Notable among the piles are the multiplicity by T. Kingfisher, aka Ursula Vernon, and two appear in this armload. Clockwork Boys, Clocktaur War Book One (Argyll Productions, 2017) is the promising start to a fantasy trilogy featuring a lovely understated romance between a female forger and a paladin, while Summer in Orcus (Sofawolf Press, cover and interior art by Lauren Henderson) is aimed at younger readers and will undoubtedly become one of those magical books many kids will return to again and again, until Vernon is worshipped by generations and prepared to conquer the world. Honestly, I will read anything Kingfisher/Vernon writes, and highly recommend following her on Twitter, where she is @UrsulaV….
George Jenson, an Oscar-nominated visual effects artist, illustrator and art director who worked on such films as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Return of the Jedi and Everybody’s All-American, has died. He was 87.
Jenson died May 25 in Henderson, Nevada, of complications from melanoma, publicist Rick Markovitz announced.
A native of Canada who specialized in science fiction, Jenson received his Oscar nomination for his visual effects efforts on the 1984 film 2010, Peter Hyams’ sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Jenson was hired by Steven Spielberg and served as the director’s production illustrator on Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and 1941 (1979), then worked on such films as 9 to 5 (1980), Looker (1981), Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi (1983), Christine (1983), Romancing the Stone (1984) and Red Dawn (1984).
Also, on a 1965 episode of CBS’ The Munsters, Perry played a young man with admirable intentions who’s out to rescue the beautiful niece Marilyn (Pat Priest) from a band of ghouls. However, they are, of course, members of her loving family.
On the big screen, Perry appeared in not one but two Count Yorga movies; was a doctor in the infamous Ray Milland and Rosey Grier classic, The Thing With Two Heads (1972); and played the father of Linda Blair’s flautist character in the musical drama Roller Boogie (1979).
On the first-season Star Trek episode “Tomorrow Is Yesterday,” which debuted in January 1967, Perry starred as Capt. John Christopher, an Air Force pilot in the 1960s who is suddenly transported aboard the Enterprise in the future.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
Born July 14 – Joel Silver, 66. Producer of, among many projects, Weird Science, Streets Of Fire, Predator and Predator 2, Demolition Man, Tales from the Cryptkeeper and Tales from the Crypt animated series, The Matrix and Sherlock Holmes franchises, V for Vendetta and an apparent forthcoming reboot of Logan’s Run.
Born July 14 – Scott Rudin, 60. Producer of the forthcoming Justice League Dark live action film (this being Warner, there’s already a splendid animated one) plus Annihilation, TheAddams Family Values, Jennifer 8, The Truman Show, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs to name some of his work.
Born July 14 – Jackie Earle Haley, 57. Roles in RoboCop, Watchmen and A Nightmare on Elm Street; series work in The Planet Of The Apes,The Tick, Human Target, Valley of the Dinosaurs and Preacher.
Born July 14 – Matthew Fox, 52. Lost and Lost: Missing Pieces, other genre work includes World War Z, Speed Racer and the Haunted series.
Born July 14 – Scott Porter, 39. Roles in Scorpion and Caprica, the X-Men and Ultimate Spider-Man animated series and myriad genre video games.
Born July 14 – Sara Canning, 31. Major roles in A Series of Unfortunate Events, Primeval: New World and The Vampire Dairies, also appeared in Once Upon a Time, War for the Planet Of The Apes, Android Employed, Supernatural and Smallville to name some of her other genre work.
Few people in Hollywood have more history with comic books adaptations than Michael Uslan, who began writing comic books in the 1970s and used that expertise as an executive producer on Tim Burton’s “Batman,” the 1989 hit that launched a new generation of superhero movies. Uslan recalled recently that top Marvel Comics executives treated him to a lavish Manhattan meal after the movie stirred fan interest in all comics and gave Marvel a hefty spike in sales.
“That was the case for years, big superhero movies brought new fans to comics, but it’s not the case now,” Uslan said. “The biggest comic book movies now have little or zero impact on the comics sales. The movies aren’t rescuing the comics; they’re replacing them. So now I really worry about comics. Any entertainment medium that can’t connect with new generations, doesn’t it have one foot in the grave?”
I really wish I had been able to be there. Fortunately my friend in San Diego came through again, and I’ve been drooling over the prints and tape she sent. She was at the commencement ceremonies on the 6th of June at San Diego State College (SDSC) when President John F. Kennedy was presented with an honorary doctorate in the Aztec Bowl. Kennedy is one of my favorite people, and I look forward to voting for him when I vote in my first presidential election next year….
At one point, the future of Geoffrey — about as tall as a real male giraffe — was in doubt as the 70-year-old company filed for bankruptcy and liquidated operations, including its corporate headquarters in Wayne, New Jersey. Because of Geoffrey’s size and the cost associated with transportation and installation, the company struggled to find someone to buy him.
No one made a bid.
As the June 30 deadline to clear out and clean up drew closer, the Toys R Us liquidation adviser, Joseph Malfitano of Boulder, Colorado, bought the giraffe and paid $10,000 to have Geoffrey packed and shipped the 50 miles here to Bristol-Meyers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Malfitano thought a children’s hospital would be an appropriate home for the beloved mascot.
A drone flight and a lingering dry spell have exposed a previously unknown monument in Ireland’s Boyne Valley, forgotten for thousands of years and long covered by crops — which, struggling to cope with a lengthy drought, finally revealed the ancient footprint.
Photographer and author Anthony Murphy discovered the site. He was flying a drone near Newgrange, a famous prehistoric stone monument in County Meath, on Tuesday, taking pictures of the known archaeological attractions. Then he saw something strange — a perfect circle, etched in the color of the crops, in an otherwise unremarkable field.
Murphy runs the website Mythical Ireland (also the name of his latest book), which focuses on the megalithic monuments of the Boyne Valley. He knew the local sites well — every passage tomb, every banked enclosure, every archaeological dig. And he’d been flying drones here for months.
It all starts with IceCube, a highly sensitive detector buried about two kilometres beneath the Antarctic ice, near the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.
“In order to get a measurable signal from the tiny fraction of neutrinos that do interact, neutrino physicists need to build extremely large detectors,” explains Dr Susan Cartwright, a particle physicist at the University of Sheffield.
Measuring cosmic neutrinos against those created closer to home is, she told BBC News, “like trying to count fireflies in the middle of a firework display”.
HBO has given a series order to “The Nevers,” a science-fiction drama from Joss Whedon. The series is described as a sci-fi epic about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world.
Whedon will serve as writer, director, executive producer, and showrunner.
(19) MAN OF THE CLOTH. In Don Glut’s new Frankenstein film, Edward L. Green plays a Priest. Ed says, “While not as cool as a trading card, I guess ‘Father Florescu’ is worth his own postcard.” Order them from Pecosborn Press — “Tales Of Frankenstein Postcards (package Of 8)”.
In the game you can play as one of six infamous Disney villains: Captain Hook, Ursula, Maleficent, Jafar, Prince John, or the Queen of Hearts. The actual gameplay and goals mirror the events each character experienced in their corresponding movies: Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin, Robin Hood, and Alice in Wonderland.
There aren’t any interactions between the various villains; each player remains on their own “realm” gameboard so it’s not like Captain Hook and Maleficent could team up to vanquish Robin Hood. […] But board games are really only fun when you can frustrate your fellow players, so Villainous includes hero cards featuring the protagonists that, at least in the original movies, foiled these villains’ plans. The hero cards allow other players to make it more difficult for your villain’s scheme to come to fruition […]
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Edward L. Green, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]
…Del and Sofia Samatar are siblings, and MONSTER PORTRAITS (Rose Metal, paper, $14.95) is a dialogue between Del’s art and Sofia’s words that is equal parts exploration, investigation and meditation about monsters and monstrosity. From the title I expected something like a bestiary, where the text would build fictions out of the art to pen (as it were) the creatures into a mythology — but this book is nothing so simple or straightforward; it is, if anything, an anti-bestiary, organized around the systems that produce bestiaries. Most of the portraits describe an author’s encounters with the creatures depicted, encounters that spark real-world musings on race and diaspora, framing the often contradictory ways in which we represent, consume or reject monstrosity. It’s a book of discomfort, of itching beneath the skin — which dovetails beautifully with the fact that Del Samatar works as a tattoo artist, and that many of the images in this book are easily imagined inked onto bodies….
“Startlingly smart,” “remarkable,” “endlessly interesting,” “delicious.” Such are the adulatory adjectives scattered through the pages of the book review section in one of America’s leading newspapers. The praise is poignant, particularly if one happens to be the author, hoping for the kind of testimonial that will drive sales. Waiting for the critic’s verdict used to be a moment of high anxiety, but there’s not so much to worry about anymore. The general tone and tenor of the contemporary book review is an advertisement-style frippery. And, if a rave isn’t in order, the reviewer will give a stylized summary of sorts, bookended with non-conclusions as to the book’s content. Absent in either is any critical engagement, let alone any excavation of the book’s umbilical connection to the world in which it is born. Only the longest-serving critics, if they are lucky enough to be ensconced in the handful of newspapers that still have them, paw at the possibility of a negative review. And even they, embarking on that journey of a polemical book review, temper their taunts and defang their dissection. In essence they bow to the premise that every book is a gem, and every reviewer a professional gift-wrapper who appears during the holidays.
It is a pitiable present, this one that celebrates the enfeebling of literary criticism, but we were warned of it.
I don’t know which meal you’re getting ready for wherever you happen to be, but here at Eating the Fantastic world headquarters, it’s time for lunch at the Mountain Branch Grille & Pub with Thomas F. Monteleone, a five-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award, who’s published more than 100 stories since his first one appeared in Amazing back in 1972.
My first fictional encounter with him, though, wasn’t until 1975, when his first novel, Seeds of Change, became the debut title for the famed (or infamous, depending on how you look at it) Laser Books science fiction line, and in this episode you’ll get to hear all about the serendipity which made that sale happen.
He’s accomplished so much since those early sales that last year, the Horror Writers Association honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award. He’s also a highly opinionated guy, as is proven by his ongoing no-holds-barred column The Mothers And Fathers Italian Association, a collection of which won the 2003 Bram Stoker Award for Non-Fiction …and is also proven by this episode.
We discussed the tricks he teaches to transform writers at his famed Borderlands Bootcamp, the 200+ rejections he received before he finally made his first fiction sale, how Theodore Sturgeon helped him realize it was possible for him to become a writer, why he ended up as a horror icon after his big start in science fiction, which horror writers you want on your team when you’re choosing sides for softball, the reason his live readings have become legendary, how Peter Straub reacted when Tom put him on his list of most overrated writers, how a challenge from Damon Knight changed his life, and much more.
JV: . . . But with regard to the monster [in Annihilation], I think what I was after in the books was to destabilize the usual reveal. The reason it’s gradual is to kind of acclimate you so when you actually finally see it you notice more than just the horror and surprise of it but the beauty and the strangeness of it as well. And I think Garland [the director of the Annihilation adaptation] gets there a different way. He’s still thinking about the same things, and in many ways, it’s a very loose translation of the book. But you can see many points where he is translating, where he is reacting to something in the book, and so I do think that in the third act of the movie where you do see the crawler—and you don’t see it before that—he somehow manages visually to get the horror and beauty of it by being very precise.
The thing I found fascinating is on the set visit they had what I would call a three-act structure of the visual imagination. Like, literally on the walls all around this building they had just pasted photographs and pictures, some of which they found and some of which they created as, like, what is the tone and texture of this part. And for the third act, several of the images they had that were inspiration for the monster were the same things that I’d come up with during my research, but we had not communicated about this. They had just come to it through parallel evolution. So, I think that the depiction of the crawler is very accurate in some ways. And very horrific and beautiful at the same time. There’s another monster too in there because there’s the moaning creature in the books, and the moaning creature he translated into this strange bear that also combines aspects of the boar that’s in the book. So, there’s another translation of the monster where someone may see it and say, “That’s not from the book,” but in actual fact it kind of is, you know
(5) COMICS SECTION.
John King Tarpinian and I are old enough to get the visual references in Heathcliff. Maybe you are, too.
And this Dracula joke in Speedbump is pretty dumb, but I laughed.
Joss Whedon has stepped down from scripting duties on a proposed BATGIRL movie, saying he just couldn’t come up with a story.
I suspect he had some other reasons, some of which speak well of him and some of which don’t, but that’s a boring subject. (So is whether there should be a Batgirl movie, period. Let’s just say that my personal enthusiasm at this point, is limited. We have more than enough movies in this genre, thank you.)
But let us talk of his stated reason for having so much trouble with the character: paraphrased, he couldn’t think of a reason why this girl’s head would be so messed up she would start doing this thing.
And instantly you know that he doesn’t get the character at all and that stepping away was a good thing.
You see, the premise that a person’s head must be “messed up” in some way to become a hero in this genre is based on only a very few examples.
(7) DEATH OF THE MIGHTY THOR. Jane Foster’s time as The Mighty Thor may be coming to an end. And in this case I don’t think that’s a spoiler.
For more than three years, Jason Aaron has been building Jane Foster’s story to its epic conclusion – and it all comes together in Mighty Thor #705! This March, don’t miss the final chapter of Thor’s journey, written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Russell Dauterman, as Mangog’s rampage threatens to bring about the end of Asgard as we know it – and the Goddess of Thunder herself.
It’s not completely digital—you still have to go and physically collect your orders from your local store, after all, so if you’re looking to avoid the potentially intimidating act of heading into a comics store, Pullbox isn’t the solution.
Dern comments: “I’d like to think that not all comic stores are intimidating, e.g., certainly not <shoutout>The Outer Limits, in Waltham MA</shoutout> (where I’ve been a customer since it opened back in 1983). A larger concern, I’d guess, would be the decreasing # of comic shops, as in, (not) having one near (enough). Yeah, you can mail-order, but not the same experience.
“I’m happy that it sounds like this new service isn’t trying to disintermediate the stores, but rather work with and within them.”
(9) CREATIVE TEAM BEHIND BLACK PANTHER. Calgary comic book scholar Michael Hoskin offers a roundup of all the comic book creators who had a hand in the Black Panther movie. He makes a compelling case that Christopher Priest (the first full-time black writer at Marvel comics) should be getting more credit for what was seen on screen: “Black Panther (2018) creator credits”.
(10) EXPANSE. Syfy dropped The Expanse Season 3 teaser trailer.
The maps show the most intense fishing activity along the coasts of heavily populated areas like Europe and China. But fishing also covers much of the high seas. According to the researchers, commercial fishing operations covered at least 55 percent of the world’s oceans. That area, it calculates, is four times larger than the area devoted to agriculture on land.
The researchers also were able to distinguish between fishing vessels from different countries. According to the study, five countries — China, Spain, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea — accounted for 85 percent of all high-seas fishing.
(12) TOUGH TO KILL Jurassic Dead is coming to theaters. Run away!
PLOT: A cracked scientist aligns with the Axis of Evil to bring down the US of A with EMP blasts, toxic zombification gas and an unleashing of the ultimate undead killing monstrosity — the Z-REX. When a hot-wired militia squad and a crew of college hipsters are thrown together to do something about it, chaotic Predator-Thunder action runs amok.
Lots of people are actually talking about and also investing a lot of money in this idea of convergence of the machine and humans. What are your thoughts on this?
That convergence will not happen, because the ambition is basically metaphysical. It will recede over the horizon like a heat mirage. We are never going to get there. It works like this: first, far-fetched metaphysical propositions. Then an academic computer scientist will try and build one in the lab. Some aspect of that can actually be commercialized, distributed and sold.
This is the history of artificial intelligence. We do not have Artificial Intelligence today, but we do have other stuff like computer vision systems, robotic abilities to move around, gripper systems. We have bits and pieces of the grand idea, but those pieces are big industries. They do not fit together to form one super thing. Siri can talk, but she cannot grip things. There are machines that grip and manipulate, but they do not talk. You end up with this unbundling of the metaphysical ideas and their replacement by actual products and services. Those products exist in the marketplace like most other artifacts that we have: like potato chips, bags, shoes, Hollywood products, games.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The (End) of History Illusion)–Miu Miu Women’s Tales” on Vimeo, Celia Rowlson-Hall describes the fabulous future after atomic attack, where you can live in a bunker wearing swell clothes from the 1950s and eat all the canned carrots you want!
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Olav Rokne, Carl Slaughter, Daniel P. Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]
Batman/Elmer Fudd Special #1 was written by Tom King (The Vision, The Sheriff of Babylon) with cover and interior art by Lee Weeks (Daredevil) while color was provided by Lovern Kindzierski (Marvel) and lettering by Deron Bennett (DC, Vault).
This unique crossover is part of a six issue DC Universe / Looney Tunes One-Shot collection. In addition to the Batman Fudd combo, the list of other comics includes: Legion of Super-Heroes/Bugs Bunny Special #1 written by Sam Humphries with art by Tom Grummett and Scott Hanna (June 14, 2017); Martian Manhunter/Marvin the Martian Special #1 written by Steve Orlando and Frank Barberi with art by Aaron Lopresti (June 14, 2017); Lobo/Road Runner Special #1 written by Bill Morrison with art by Kelley Jones (June 21, 2017); Wonder Woman/Tazmanian Devil Special #1 written by Tony Bedard with art by Barry Kitson (June 21, 2017); Jonah Hex/Yosemite Sam Special #1 written by Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Mark Texeira (June 28, 2017). Though these are billed as “one-shot” issues which are typical stand-alone stories, we can only hope/assume that DC Comics has left the window open for many more installments down the line seeing that they chose to include ”#1” in the title designations on their website. Just sayin’.
(4) POD PEOPLE. Fandompodden interviewed current and future Worldcon organizers for its first podcast in English. (They’re usually in Swedish.)
This is our very first English speaking podcast aiming new and old international fandom friends. We have three amazing interviews from the recent Worldcon 75 in Helsinki. Jukka Halme, supreme overlord of the finnish Worldcon. Dave Clark of the San Jose organisation and finaly Steve Cooper and Emmy England of Dublin 2019. Your host for the show is Håkan Wester and Patrick Edlund. Enjoy
“Nowadays, there’s so many private ventures that when I wrote the War Dogs series, I made the private ventures face forward, and called the Martian colonists Muskies, as a tribute to Elon’s dreams, if not to what the reality is going to be,” he said.
Seattle is a hotbed of science fiction thinking in all these corporations.
As a “hard” science fiction writer who does extensive research, Bear has dived into everything from nanotechnology (his 1983 novel Blood Music is credited by some as being its first use in science fiction) to planetary science. A current fascination, in part because it’s a key setting in the War Dogs trilogy, is Titan. “It’s got a hazy orange layer,” he explained. “It’s full of plastics, and waxes, and organic chemistry. Then, it turns out, it’s actually got a water ocean underneath.”
Access the podcast directly here. (parts of it will also air on KIRO-FM Seattle, as well as be available for streaming).
Some of the top films, TV shows and books today are what was once called “genre fiction,” like sci-fi and fantasy. So is it a golden age for the geeky arts? Or is this mainstream-ization of geek culture more ominous? We explore that question with renowned sci-fi author Gret Bear in the first episode of our special pop-culture podcast series, hosted by Frank Catalano.
Catalano says, “Upcoming episodes will include interviewing SFWA President Cat Rambo about the relevance of awards in science fiction and fantasy and the role of diversity, and curators at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) about the challenges in preserving science fiction and fantasy artifacts from film and TV that were never designed to last. More episodes to come after that, probably at the rate of one or two a month (as my day job allows).”
(7) MORE ON ALDISS. Christopher Priest writes a remembrance of Brian Aldiss on his blog that’s much more personal than the literary obit he wrote for The Guardian: “Here it began, here it ends”.
In fact, I was too hard up and too shy to go the SF convention, and did not meet Brian Aldiss in person until about 1965. Then, when he found out my name, he said, ‘I remember you — you wrote me that intelligent letter! Come and have a drink!’ It was the first moment of a friendship that was to last, with the usual ups and downs of any friendship between two difficult men, for more than half a century.
This is a photograph taken in June 1970, by Margaret, Brian Aldiss’s second wife. Brian had generously invited me down to their house in Oxfordshire to celebrate the publication of my first novel Indoctrinaire. Also there was Charles Monteith, who was not only my editor at the publishers Faber & Faber, he was Brian’s too. He had been responsible for buying and publishing all the early Aldiss books, including those short stories I had admired so much, and the fabulous bravura of Non-Stop.
(8) HENDRIX AND ALDISS. John Picacio posted this photo of Jimi Hendrix reading a Penguin sf collection edited by Brian Aldiss. Hendrix reading sf was actually a regular thing, as this 2010 Galley Cat article reminds: “Jimi Hendrix and His Science Fiction Bookshelf”.
Photograph by Petra Niemeier of Jimi Hendrix in 1967 reading Penguin Science Fiction
Most people don’t remember anymore, but rock legend Jimi Hendrix was a science fiction book junkie. We caught up with one the guitarist’s biographers to find out more about his science fiction bookshelf.
In the new book, Becoming Jimi Hendrix: From Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic London, the Untold Story of a Musical Genius, authors Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber take a deeper look at the guitarist…
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
Ray Bradbury’s 88th birthday cake
Born August 22, 1920 – Ray Bradbury
Born August 22, 1978 – Late-night talk show host James Cordon, who also was in some episodes of Doctor Who.
(10) BIRTHDAY GIFT APPEAL. Money is being raised to preserve books and other items donated to IUPUI by Ray Bradbury.
His collection of books, literary works, artifacts, correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, and so much more is housed at IUPUI in the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. The Center is led by Professor Jon Eller, a personal friend of Bradbury’s for over 23 years and noted scholar of the author’s works.
Without Bradbury, the world wouldn’t be the same. Preserving these assets will help ensure that generations of fans, scholars, authors, filmmakers, and historians are able to pay tribute to the October Man.
Help us preserve the books of the man who knew what society would be without them.
Your generous gift to this campaign will provide general support to the Center and assist in the preservation of the vast collection. DONATE NOW and help us reach our $5000 goal.
(11) FAMILY TREE. And Bradbury’s family tree includes a Salem woman convicted as a witch. There’s some kind of lesson to be learned about the genetics of sf writers here – if I only knew what it was.
One of my great uncles was the greatest Shakespearian actor of his era. And his brother shot Lincoln, so there's that. https://t.co/zlM5WlxEy7
As noted, The Hike is a fast-moving work, despite coming in at just under 400 pages. I read it in a single sitting of just a few hours. Magary keeps things moving apace, save for a few sections that carry on perhaps a little too long. His fluid prose carries the reader along smoothly and easily even if they won’t find themselves lingering over it for its lyricism or startling nature. The humor is another reason it goes down so easily, most of it coming from that crab, who is, well, kinda crabby. The crab is given a run for its comic money, though, by Fermona the giant, who runs a kind of Thunder Dome Buffet for herself. The book isn’t all lightness and humor, however. Magary’s portrait of Ben’s suburban family life is a bit thin, but does strike some emotional chords in scenes where Ben is with or thinking of his children.
(15) VAMPIRE HUNTER. Next year the Stephen Haffner press will bring out The Vampire Stories of Robert Bloch. Right now, Stephen is crowdsourcing help in tracking down the original artwork for his cover.
Robert Bloch (1917-1994) is one of the most fondly remembered and collected authors of crime, horror, fantasy, and science fiction of the 20th Century. Noted by many as the author of Psycho, Bloch wrote hundreds of short stories and over 30 novels. He was a member of the Lovecraft Circle and began his career by emulating H.P. Lovecraft’s brand of “cosmic horror.” He later specialized in crime and horror stories dealing with a more psychological approach.
While we have secured permission from the rights-handlers for Gahan Wilson‘s artwork for the cover image, we have been unable to locate the original “Parkbench Vampire” painting.
The image originally appeared on the cover of the humor digest, FOR LAUGHING OUT LOUD #33 (Dell Magazines, October, 1964) promising a “Hilarious Monster Issue!”.
As shown above and to the right, someone—somewhere—had access to the original artwork and placed a low-res image on the internet.
We have sent queries to several Gahan Wilson-collectors as well as many collectors of SF-art-in-general asking for the whereabouts of the original artwork, but nothing has surfaced yet.
So, if you, or someone you know, has a lead on where the original artwork resides, or can assist in supplying a high-resolution scan of the painting, please contact us ASAP at [email protected].
The Silent Shield, the fifth main book in Jeff Wheeler’s Kingfountain series, is proof positive that creative consistency makes for a good read. I feel like a bit of a broken record at this point, but Wheeler has once again crafted a short, engaging novel that manages to not only advance the overall narrative but succeeds in expanding the thematic scope of the series. The Silent Shield marks a new high point in a story that has been consistently excellent, and proves once again that one can craft a mature, emotionally resonant and accessible tale without relying upon the grim, the dark or the explicit.
The Berlin Project tells the story of Karl Cohen, an actual scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project and father-in-law to the author. In our timeline, he devised a way of using centrifuges to make weapons grade uranium for a nuclear bomb. Now in our timeline, this method was rejected in favor of a gaseous diffusion method which cost billions and delayed the project significantly while the engineering problems were worked out. Benford proposes, however, that Karl is more assertive and has a little luck early on by getting private investors on board who hope to use nuclear power for civilians in the future. Thus a nuclear bomb is built a year earlier in time for the Normandy invasion. As the title suggests, the target for America’s first nuclear strike is Berlin, but the city’s destruction doesn’t necessarily give the Allies the outcome they were hoping for….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Kevin J. Maroney, Frank Catalano, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]
Nobody likes layovers, but the first astronauts heading to Mars will get to experience one of the longest such experiences of their lives. They’ll have to spend one year going around the moon, which will probably be a very annoying wait for the first people heading to the red planet. It’s not all bad news, however, as they won’t just wait for time to pass by. NASA actually wants to make sure that the round trip to Mars, a 1,000-day endeavor, is carefully planned during the time.
NASA’s Greg Williams, revealed that the agency’s Phase 2 of its plan to send humans to Mars includes a one-year layover in orbit around the moon in the late 2020s, Space reports..
Williams, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for policy and plans at the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, revealed that NASA wants to build a “deep-space gateway” around the moon that would serve as the testing ground for the first Mars missions.
(2) ZUBRIN’S MARTIAN KERFUFFLE. Joel Achenbach’s article for the Washington Post, “Mars Society founder blasts NASA for ‘worst plan yet’”, reports on a space exploration conference sponsored by The Atlantic in which Robert Zubrin said NASA’s plan to build a space station orbiting the moon is a giant waste of money because no one before this suggested Mars expeditions needed to have a midway stop before.
Until recently, NASA branded virtually everything it was doing as part of a “Journey to Mars,”and Mars remains the horizon goal. The destination was even mandated in a recent congressional authorization act for NASA that was signed by President Trump.
In the meantime, NASA has more modest plans — and these plans don’t please Zubrin, for one.
NASA wants to put a “spaceport”in orbit around the moon. It would be a habitat for astronauts on long-duration missions. You could call it a “space station”if you wanted, though it wouldn’t be nearly as big as the one that’s circling the Earth right now. NASA refers to it as the Deep Space Gateway and describes it as “a crew tended spaceport in lunar orbit.“
…After the presentations, Zubrin gave The Post some additional thoughts on what he perceives as NASA’s failure to come up with a bold and coherent plan. He said that in the long history of NASA studies on the future of human spaceflight — and there is a long list of these lengthy reports — no one ever suggested that an orbital lunar outpost was a necessary part of an exploration program. Part of the problem, as he sees it, is the agency’s recent announcement that the first, uncrewed flight of the Space Launch System rocket will be delayed again, to 2019: “The tragedy of SLS is not that it is being delayed. The tragedy is that it doesn’t matter that it’s being delayed, because there’s nothing for it to launch anyway.”
(3) BACK IN ACTION. After an 8-year break, Elizabeth Moon relaunched her Vatta’s War series in April with Cold Welcome.
Zack Snyder, who has acted as DC Comics’ directorial visionary on a number of its most ambitious film projects, is stepping down from Justice League due to a family tragedy. The news, announced in an interview published today by The Hollywood Reporter, means Snyder will be handing the reins over to Avengers director and writer Joss Whedon, who will ferry the project through its remaining post-production stage before its November 17th release later this year.
‘Justice League’ is now in Joss Whedon’s hands
Snyder, whose daughter committed suicide in March at the age of 20, admits that he originally misjudged how the loss would affect his work. “In my mind, I thought it was a cathartic thing to go back to work, to just bury myself and see if that was way through it,”Snyder told The Hollywood Reporter. “The demands of this job are pretty intense. It is all consuming. And in the last two months I’ve come to the realization…I’ve decided to take a step back from the movie to be with my family, be with my kids, who really need me. They are all having a hard time. I’m having a hard time.”
(5) DANCING IN THE SAND. A ballet adaptation of Dune will be performed August 4-6 by the Vaught Contemporary Ballet at the Baltimore Theater Project (45 West Preston Street, Baltimore, MD 21201):
Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, Dune, is widely recognized as the best selling science fiction novel of all time. It’s exploration of politics, religion, sexism and ecology set against an interstellar backdrop allows the reader a reflection on the human condition in the modern era. Herbert’s Fremen of Arrakis provide a counterpoint to a culture consumed by avarice — the desire for melange.
Join us as we depict Herbert’s illustrative words through the art of ballet. Movement will be on full display in its varied definitions as we follow Paul Atreides in his rise to power as both royalty and the prophet of the Fremen.
Google’s AI AlphaGo has done it again: it’s defeated Ke Jie, the world’s number one Go player, in the first game of a three-part match. AlphaGo shot to prominence a little over a year ago after beating Korean legend Lee Se-dol 4-1 in one of the most potent demonstrations of the power of artificial intelligence to date. And its defeat of Ke shows that it was only getting started.
“I think everyone recognizes that Ke Jie is the strongest human player,”9th-dan professional and commentator Michael Redmond said before the match. And despite defeat, Ke’s strategy suggested that the 19-year-old Chinese prodigy has actually learned from AlphaGo’s often unorthodox approach. “This is Master’s move,”said Redmond of one of Ke’s earliest plays, referring to the pseudonym that AlphaGo used for a recent series of online matches in which it racked up a 60-game winning streak.
(7) COMIC SECTION. A commenter seeing yesterday’s news item about someone in a T-rex costume scaring horses in Charleston aptly contrasted the episode with the comic “Menace” at Hyperbole and a Half.
(8) THE PHENOMENON. Carl Slaughter has an update about prolific YA author Bella Forrest:
The first real-life tractor beams were made of photons. It is easy to imagine a stream of photons carrying a particle of matter along like a river picking up a leaf and carrying it downstream. What is astounding about tractor beams is that by skilfully manipulating the transfer of momentum from the beam, physicists do not have to rely only on pushing particles, but can make light pull particles of matter, like a tractor. Beams made of sound waves have also been demonstrated in the lab.
I once wrote jokingly here that there are only three plots, and they are Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, and Belisarius, because those are the ones everyone keeps on reusing.
There is a conference in Uppsala in Sweden the weekend before the Helsinki Worldcon called “Reception Histories of the Future“which is about the use of Byzantium in science fiction. The moment I heard of it, I immediately started thinking about our obsessive reuse of the story of Belisarius. (I’m going. Lots of other writers are going. If you’re heading to Helsinki, it’s on your way, and you should come too!)
It’s strange that science fiction and fantasy are obsessed with retelling the story of Belisarius, when the mainstream world isn’t particularly interested. Robert Graves wrote a historical novel about him in 1938, Count Belisarius, and there’s Gillian Bradshaw’s The Bearkeeper’s Daughter (1987), but not much else. Whereas in genre, we’ve had the story of Belisarius retold by Guy Gavriel Kay, David Drake (twice) and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and used by L. Sprague de Camp, John M. Ford, Jerry Pournelle, Robert Silverberg, and Isaac Asimov. So what is it about this bit of history that makes everyone from Asimov to Yarbro use it? And how is it that the only place you’re likely to have come across it is SF?…
After six conventions, Chicago based anime convention Kollision Con€˜s organizers have decided to call it quits. They made the announcement on the con’s official Facebook page late last week, citing venue issues and an overcrowded Anime con scene as their primary reasons for ending the show.
The organizers aren’t giving up on running conventions though, as in that same post they announced the GEM Expo Chicago, a gaming convention that will occupy the dates originally reserved for Kollision Con 2017.
Year-round “Star Wars” hype is giving a boost to Hollywood’s merchandising business.
Licensed goods based on movies and other entertainment properties generated $118 billion in global retail sales last year, up 5% from 2015, according to a new report.
Toys, apparel and other wares tied to movies such as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” helped propel the increase, the Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Assn. said Monday.
The year benefited from two “Star Wars” installments as bookends: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which was released in December 2015, and “Rogue One,” which came out a year later, said Marty Brochstein, senior vice president of the association.
“In 2016, you had a full year of sales of ‘Star Wars’ merchandise,” Brochstein said. “Obviously that helped on the entertainment side.”
(13) DON’T STIFF THE STAFF. Are you a bad tipper? You’re a science fiction fan, of course you’re a bad tipper. Okay, maybe not you personally. But ever been out to dinner with a group of fans? It can be excruciating! Here’s one commentator’s advice about “How to Tip in All Situations”.
Tipping has been known to divide families, ruin relationships, and even start wars. Not really. But tipping is an issue that brings out all sorts of passionate opinions.
Who should you tip? How much should you tip? When is it appropriate to leave a bad tip? And is the whole idea of tipping flawed in the first place?
If you’ve ever asked those questions, then we’re here to provide a little clarity on the all-important subject of tipping etiquette.
When in doubt about whether or not to leave a tip, always err on the side of generosity. Remember, your tip says more about you than the person you’re leaving a tip for.
So let’s take a look at some of the people you should tip. Then we’ll give you a general idea of how much to tip them.
A huge range of organisations and companies around the world have been affected by the WannaCry ransomware cyberattack, described by the EU’s law enforcement agency as “unprecedented”.
From “cyberwar” to “hacktivism”, here are some of the major cyberattacks over the past 10 years: …
…In November 2014, Sony Pictures Entertainment became the target of the biggest cyberattack in US corporate history, linked to its North Korea satire “The Interview”.
The hackers — a group calling itself Guardians of Peace — released a trove of embarrassing emails, film scripts and other internal communications, including information about salaries and employee health records…
(15) STATE OF THE ART. Carrie Vaughn’s Amaryllis and Other Stories was named winner of the Colorado Book Award in the Genre Fiction category on May 21. [Via Locus Online.] (See, proper attribution can be done. It hardly hurts at all.)
Deadly mite infestations considered a leading cause of the continuing collapse of the global commercial honey-bee industry are being abetted by modern bee-keeping practices, new research suggests.
The research, published in the journal Environmental Entomology, points the finger at the practices of siting commercial hives too close to each other, and of thwarting the bees’ swarming behavior, for creating conditions ideal for the rapid growth and spread of the parasitic Varroa mite.
The mite (Varroa destructor) is a text-book example of zoonosis — a predatory or parasitic species that has “spilled over” from its traditional host into a new species which, not being adapted to it, suffers catastrophic consequences.
Varroa’s natural host in the Asian honey-bee (Apis cerana). Co-evolution has resulted in the two species being able to live in balance.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, John King Tarpinian, Kreiri, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]