(1) IA WILL CONTINUE LITIGATION. The Internet Archive announced they will appeal yesterday’s district court decision in favor of the publishers, ruling that IA cannot make and distribute entire digital copies of works still under copyright. “The Fight Continues” at Internet Archive Blogs.
Today’s lower court decision in Hachette v. Internet Archive is a blow to all libraries and the communities we serve. This decision impacts libraries across the US who rely on controlled digital lending to connect their patrons with books online. It hurts authors by saying that unfair licensing models are the only way their books can be read online. And it holds back access to information in the digital age, harming all readers, everywhere.
But it’s not over—we will keep fighting for the traditional right of libraries to own, lend, and preserve books. We will be appealing the judgment and encourage everyone to come together as a community to support libraries against this attack by corporate publishers….
Statement from Internet Archive founder, Brewster Kahle:
“Libraries are more than the customer service departments for corporate database products. For democracy to thrive at global scale, libraries must be able to sustain their historic role in society—owning, preserving, and lending books.
This ruling is a blow for libraries, readers, and authors and we plan to appeal it.”
(2) HEAD OF THE CLASS. John Garth shares research that will fascinate Tolkien fans: “Making an ass of yourself, with Geoffrey Bache Smith”.
…On the serious side, [Geoffrey Bache] Smith persuaded Tolkien to become a poet and was therefore truly instrumental in turning him into the author we know. Smith sent Tolkien a letter from deepest danger in the trenches of the Great War to declare himself a ‘wild and whole-hearted admirer’ of the first Middle-earth writings, and to urge him to publish them. One of the many ironies of that world war is that although Tolkien could find no publisher for his own poetry, he was able to edit Smith’s poems for publication (A Spring Harvest, 1918). You see, Smith had been killed on the Somme battlefield in 1916, and (as Dr Stuart Lee made clear in his conference paper) there was a demand for good poetry by dead soldiers….
(3) SFF IN THE UKRAINE. Borys Sydiuk shows there was a big turnout for a sff book event in Kyiv today:
Event marketing of the highest level. Max Kidruk, a rising star of Ukrainian Science Fiction, presents his book New Dark Ages: Colony in Kyiv on March 25, 2023.
(4) SUPPORT FOR OUSTING LUKYANENKO AS A CHENGDU GOH. On Facebook, David Gerrold encouraged readers to sign Polish fandom’s petition to remove Sergey Lukyanenko as a GoH of the Chengdu Worldcon: “Open letter to the Board of Worldcon 2023 / List otwarty do Organizatorów Worldconu 2023”. Gerrold’s appeal begins:
…I do not ordinarily share petitions of any kind, and I was reluctant to even share this one.
But, silence equals agreement, so I can’t be silent.
The petition asks the 2023 Worldcon Committee to withdraw their invitation to be a Guest of Honor at the convention to Russian author, Sergei Lukyanenko.
Now, ordinarily, I am against the withdrawal of any invitation. I am skeptical of any campaign anywhere to withdraw an honor, whether it is perceived as deserved or not. That is a situation where everybody looks bad, and I have expressed that thought several times in the past few years, even where I might have neither affection nor respect for the individual in the bullseye.
But there are circumstances where any kind of honor is so out of the question that voices must be raised.
Sergei Lukyanenko has made it clear that he endorses the war crimes that Russia has committed against Ukraine and is willing to endorse further war crimes.
That is so far beyond the normal range of fannish squabbles that I am horrified that the 2023 Worldcon committee has to even think twice on this….
(5) FAKE JOB OFFERS. At Writer Beware, Victoria Strauss issues a warning: “Alert: Scammers Impersonating Video Streaming Services With Fake Job Offers”.
About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post about a job offer scam in which fraudsters impersonated Acorn TV.
The scammers’ M.O.: they messaged writers on Twitter and Instagram, claiming to offer an opportunity to write stories for Acorn TV and earn an improbably large amount of money. If writers expressed interest (and why wouldn’t they), a two-part “texting interview” on Telegram followed, at the end of which the writer was offered a job agreement and description. Although I never heard from anyone who accepted, the presumed goal was to steal personal details, such as Social Security numbers and bank account information.
The same scammers are at it again. This time, they’re impersonating Minno, a Christian streaming service for kids….
(6) WHAT I SAY THREE TIMES IS TRUE. Karen Myers has advice about ways to help readers keep up with the story in “Failures of Memory” at Mad Genius Club.
…There’s no prize to be won by taxing the memory of your suffering readers — they won’t thank you for it. Make it easy on ’em, and you’ll have them in your hand for all the emotional and other effects you want to have, based on what you’ve told them.
Now, this takes some subtlety. The setting of the reminders has to feel natural rather than repetitive, worked casually into the general flow…
(7) FUTURE TENSE. Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination continue their series of short stories about how technology and science will change our lives: “The Preschool,” by Jonathan Parks-Ramage.
Amanda sat at her desk, picking at the same $30 Little Gem salad she ordered daily, suffering a small burning sensation in her gut that was triggered either by acid reflux or the dying embers of her rapidly expiring conscience. Of course, it was standard procedure for her husband to demand that the security firm Dark Metal surveil potential new hires for any of his multibillion-dollar companies, but this was the first time Amanda had been involved in contracting the private intelligence agency herself. Seedlings is your venture, Reid had promised her, even though he’d named himself CEO. I want you to take the lead on this. Amanda was COO of Seedlings and reported to her husband, who dismissed Amanda’s concerns about the legal ramifications of their actions. Worrying about the law was something poor people did, Reid insisted. Besides, she’d never seen Reid do anything that nefarious with this type of information. He was a nice guy. Really….
Theo Zanto, a neuroscience researcher, follows with a response essay, “What can brain-computer interface technologies actually do?”
… Unlike time travel, cybernetics (which refers to the integration of our biology with machines) is one science fiction theme that is part of our experiential reality. We can already control machines with our thoughts—but only with simple commands, like those needed to move a wheelchair or play Pong. Cybernetic devices available today include (but are not limited to) pacemakers, cochlear implants, retinal prostheses, deep brain stimulators, and prosthetic limbs. Current brain-computer interface—or BCI—technologies have enabled us to use computers to decode information from our brains, such as what we have seen or heard, what we intend to say, and what we would like a prosthetic limb to do. With the continual integration of these technologies into our lives, 20th-century sci-fi writers would be surprised at how quickly humans are taking the evolutionary leap from primate to cyborg….
(8) PRETTY BATS ALL IN A ROW. The Guardian made me realize that somewhere not far from me is a movie history treasure house: “Batmobiles, Bugs Bunny and James Dean’s jeans: a day inside the Warner Bros top-secret archive”.
There is an actual Batcave in Los Angeles, where all the old Batmen live. I can’t tell you where: I signed an NDA. But in the most unlikely neighbourhood, in the most obscure location, lies a giant warehouse where Warner Bros keeps a century’s worth of treasures, including the best vehicles from its Batman films going back to 1989.
On a tour of this warehouse, which Warner Bros calls, with a slightly villainous air, the “Corporate Archive”, I saw nine Batmobiles, in a row, gleaming. Each one is a functioning vehicle with an engine, not just an elaborate prop. The most expensive cost close to $1m. It has wing-shaped treads on the tires, so it leaves little bats in its wake.
… Warner Bros, one of the original big five studios from Hollywood’s Golden Age, turns 100 on 4 April 2023, and as part of its centennial celebrations it’s letting reporters inside its secret treasure house. (You can search for the archive on Google: it’s not there.) Warner Bros has produced film or TV classics in every decade – from The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca and 42nd Street, to 2001: A Space Odyssey, to the Looney Tunes and Friends. The corporate archive is where its most infamous props, costumes and set pieces go to die – or rather, to achieve eternal life, watched over in chilled rooms by a team of dedicated archivists….
(9) MEMORY LANE.
2014 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Charles de Lint’s Seven Wild Sisters: A Modern Fairy Tale is part of his Appalachian stories. It was published by Little, Brown in 2014 as a sequel to The Cats of Tanglewood Forest with illustrations by Charles Vess. It was later done in a limited diction by Subterranean Press with illustrations by again by Charles Vess, this time in black in white. Both are wonderful.
The series started off in A Circle of Cats, a sparkling affair of a children’s book. Two of the characters in these books will show up in Medicine Road.
I’m writing this under a Vess signed limited edition print of fifty for the cover art for A Circle of Cats.
Though Canadian, de Lint does a very nice job of capturing the feel of the Appalachian region. I know he’s a very good friend of Vess who lives in the Appalachian region, so I expect that at least part of his knowledge comes from him.
I’ve read all of the works, no surprise as I love his fiction deeply. I think as books that they are more warm, more comfortable than anything else he’s done. And there’s nothing wrong with that sort of genre fiction once in a while, is there?
And now our Beginning…
There’s those that call it ginseng, but ’round here we just call it ’sang. Don’t know which is right. All I know for sure is that bees and ’sang don’t mix, leastways not in these hills.
Their rivalry’s got something to do with sweetness and light and wildflower pollen set against dark rooty things that live deep in the forest dirt. That’s why bee spirits’ll lead the ’sang poachers to those hidden ’sang beds. It’s an unkindness you’d expect more from the Mean Fairy—you know, the way he shows up at parties after the work’s all done.
‘Course there’s spirits in the hills. How could there not be? You think we’re alone in this world? We have us a very peopled woods, and I’ve seen all kinds in my time, big and small.
The Father of Cats haunts these hills. Most times he’s this big old panther, sleek and black, but the Kickaha say he can look like a handsome, black-haired man, the fancy takes him. I only ever saw him as a panther. Seeing yourself a panther is unusual enough, though I suppose it’s something anybody who spends enough time in these woods can eventually claim. But I heard him talk.
Don’t you smile. I don’t tell lies.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 25, 1916 — Jean Rogers. Rogers is best remembered for playing Dale Arden in the science fiction serials Flash Gordon and Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars, both released in the Thirties. Kage Baker would’ve have loved them as she was a great fan of such cinema and wrote a series of essays for Tor.com that turned into Ancient Rockets: Treasures and Trainwrecks of the Silent Screen. (Died 1991.)
- Born March 25, 1920 — Patrick Troughton. The Second Doctor of who I’ll confess I’m not the most ardent fan of. The Fourth Doctor is my Doctor. Troughton had a long genre resume starting with Hamlet and Treasure Island early on before proceeding to such works as Scars of Dracula and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell later on. Telly-wise, I see him on R.U.R. Radius playing a robot, on a Fifties Robin Hood show being that character, and on The Feathered Serpent. This is children’s series set in pre-Columbian Mexico and starring Patrick Troughton as the scheming High Priest Nasca. H’h. (Died 1987.)
- Born March 25, 1939 — D. C. Fontana. Though best known for her work on the first Trek series, she was a story editor and associate producer on the animated series as well. During the 70s, she was staff for such series as Six Million Dollar Man, Logan’s Run and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. She later wrote for the fanfic Star Trek: New Voyages series. (Died 2019.)
- Born March 25, 1942 — Jacqueline Lichtenberg, 81. She was nominated at the second DisCon for Best Fan Writer, the year Susan Wood won, and Neffy (National Fantasy Fan Federation Speculative Fiction Award) for Fan of the Year thirty-four years later. She’s written a number of Trek works and more fiction in the Sime/Gen ‘verse. If you’re so interested in the latter, she’s extremely well stocked at the usual suspects.
- Born March 25, 1947 — Paul Levinson, 76. “The Copyright Case” novelette would garner him a much deserved Compuserve group HOMer Award. It was the first work in a series of novels and short stories featuring the fascinating NYPD forensic detective Dr. Phil D’Amato who first appeared in Levinson’s “The Chronology Protection Case” novelette. You can purchase it from the usual digital sources.
- Born March 25, 1950 — Robert O’Reilly, 73. Best known I’d say for his appearance in the Trek franchise for a decade in his recurring role on Next Gen and DS9 as Chancellor Gowron, the leader of the Klingon Empire. He made one further appearance in the Trek verse as Kago-Darr in the Enterprise “Bounty” episode. Other genre series he appeared in include Fantasy Island, Knight Rider, Incredible Hulk, MacGyver, Max Headroom and the first version of The Flash. I’ll let y’all tell me what your favorite films with him are.
- Born March 25, 1958 — Amy Pascal, 65. She gets Birthday honors for being responsible for bringing Hugo Award winning Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse to the screen. She also produced Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far from Home. She is producing the forthcoming Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse sequel, Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse, and the Spider-Man: No Way Home as well.
- Born March 25, 1964 — Kate DiCamillo, 59. She is just being one of six people to win two Newbery Medals, noting the wonderfulness of The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses. The first I’ve encountered, the tale of a swords mouse in making, the latter I’ve not. Her Mercy Watson series is about the adventures of a fictional pig, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Pearls Before Swine reveals something that was powerful enough to kill one character’s romance.
- Shoe shows a writer attempting what could be called a kind of reverse engineering.
(12) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] The March 21 episode of Jeopardy! had a whole category in the Double Jeopardy round called “Books: The Future is Now”. The contestants took the category bottom-to-top, so that’s how I’ll give them to you.
$2000: He saw 2024 as a hellish wasteland in his 1969 short story, “A Boy & His Dog”
Nobody was able to respond “Harlan Ellison”.
$1600: Later editions of this author’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” moved the story from 1992 to 2021
Returning champion Melissa Klapper correctly responded “Dick”.
$1200: In 2025, game shows are to the death in “The Running Man”, written by Stephen King under this pseudonym
This was another triple stumper: nobody knew “Richard Bachman”.
$800: This 1925 novel about a futuristic city in 2026 became an art deco sci-fi silent movie by Fritz Lang
Melissa knew “Metropolis”.
$400: In Kim Stanley Robinson’s trilogy about colonizing this planet, humans first visit there in 2020
Brandon Anderson (presumably no relation!) knew this one.
(13) STARFLEET RECRUITING OFFICE. How could anyone ever tire of this story? Don’t answer that question. “William Shatner Explains How He Landed ‘Star Trek’ Role as Captain Kirk”.
William Shatner recalled how he managed to land the role of Captain James T. Kirk on the original 1966 Star Trek series.
During the actor’s keynote interview at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League asked Shatner about how he got his career-changing gig.
“Talent,” Shatner initially deadpanned, to audience applause, but then he told the story.
As all Trek fans know, Jeffrey Hunter was cast in the NBC show’s first attempt at a Star Trek pilot, “The Cage,” as Captain Christopher Pike. “Jeffrey Hunter, good-looking guy, he was quite a name,” Shatner says. “They presented the pilot to NBC and then there’s that moment when the gods — and, in this case, NBC executives — decide to buy or not to buy. To buy, or not to buy, that is the question! They said, ‘No, we’re not going to buy it, because we don’t like it. But we like the idea. So rewrite, recast and we’ll give you the money to do it.’ I’ve never heard of that happening before or since.” (To be fair, it’s actually happened many times since.)
“So they went around looking for a new captain,” Shatner continued. “I was in New York doing some work. They called me and said, ‘Would you come and see the pilot?’ With the idea of me being the captain. And I watched the pilot [and thought], ‘Oh my God, that’s really good. Why didn’t they buy it?’ Yet [the actors] were a little ponderous. Like, [soberly] ‘Helmsman, turn to the Starboard.’ You’ve been out five years in the middle of space, wouldn’t you say, [casually] ‘Hey, George, turn left’? ‘There’s a meteor coming!’… ‘Well, get out of the way!’ So I added a little lightness. Then it sold. And that’s the answer.”…
(14) A CASE OF THE VAPORS. The Guardian reports “Aviation chiefs rejected measures to curb climate impact of jet vapours”.
Airlines and airports opposed measures to combat global warming caused by jet vapour trails that evidence suggests account for more than half of the aviation industry’s climate impact, new documents reveal.
The industry argued in government submissions that the science was not “robust” enough to justify reduction targets for these non-CO2 emissions. Scientists say the climate impact of vapour trails, or contrails, has been known for more than two decades, with one accusing the industry of a “typical climate denialist strategy”.
While carbon emissions from jet engines contribute to global heating, research suggests the contrails formed when water vapour and soot particles form into ice crystals have an even greater impact. These human-made clouds trap heat in the atmosphere that would otherwise escape into space.
… Milan Klöwer, a climate scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said airlines were adopting a “typical climate denialist strategy” by overstating the level of uncertainty about non-CO2 effects. He said: “Even in the best case, they roughly double the effect of CO2 emissions on the climate.”…
(15) LOOK OUT BELOW. Science reports a study showing “Earth at higher risk of big asteroid strike, satellite data suggest”.
Using a new catalog of high-resolution satellite imagery, James Garvin and his colleagues identified large rings around three impact craters and one probable one that are 1 million years old or younger. To Garvin, the rings imply the craters are tens of kilometers wider, and record far more violent events, than researchers had thought.
If Garvin is right—no sure bet—each impact resulted in an explosion some 10 times more violent than the largest nuclear bomb in history, enough to blow part of the planet’s atmosphere into space. Although not as destructive as the impact that killed off the dinosaurs, the strikes would have perturbed the global climate and caused local extinctions.
It’s an extraordinary claim, as Garvin himself admits. “We haven’t proven anything,” he says. Without fieldwork to back up the conclusions, impact researchers are wary of the circles Garvin and his colleagues have drawn on maps—especially because they defy other estimates of impact rates. “I’m skeptical,” says Bill Bottke, a planetary dynamicist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “I want to see a lot more before I believe it.”
Because water and wind quickly erase most impact craters on Earth, researchers estimate impact rates by tallying crater sizes and ages on the Moon. They also study the size of asteroids in orbit near Earth—potential future impactors. Based on those two methods, researchers estimate that an asteroid or comet 1 kilometer wide or larger hits the planet every 600,000 to 700,000 years.
The new study, however, suggests that in the past million years alone, four kilometer-size objects pummeled the continents—and, given that two-thirds of the planet is covered by water, that could mean up to a dozen struck Earth in total, Bottke says. Anna Łosiak, a crater researcher at the Polish Academy of Sciences, doubts the ringlike features identified by Garvin’s team are truly crater rims. If they somehow are, she says, “that would be very scary because it would mean we really don’t understand what’s going on at all—and that there are a lot of space rocks that may come and make a mess.”…
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Rich Horton, Steven French, David Goldfarb, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Randall M.]