(1) FUTURE UNIONS. “Workers of All Worlds Unite,” a public talk about labor unions in science fiction with Olav Rokne, is a free Zoom event happening Thursday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m. Mountain time. Join the Zoom free here. Or you could also support the event by getting tickets here.
Workers Of All Worlds Unite!
Science fiction is filled with depictions of standard capitalist employment relationships, but little thought seems to have been given to how workers in the future will assert their rights. Join Olav Rokne as he explores the troubled history of labour unions in science fiction, and makes an argument as to why this history matters.
(2) ELLISON TRUST VICTORY. Two weeks ago J. Michael Straczynski, Executor of the Harlan and Susan Ellison Trust, updated fans about a successful action to fight off opportunistic banks.
(3) EXTREMELY HONEST. Ian Moore takes the first step in his Hugo finalist Mt. Tsundoku 12-step program by admitting powerlessness:
(4) HE’LL BE IN SCOTLAND AFORE YE. Recorded April 15, Shoreline of Infinity brings you “Ken MacLeod’s Road Trip”.
Ken MacLeod’s Road Trip takes us from Scotland through the north of England and London to the far side of the Earth. Three talkative passengers – Charles Stross, Justina Robson and Tasha Suri – read from their work, and over the car radio Hannah and Sam Bennett play drive-time music live from the wonderful world of tomorrow. Hosted by Shoreline of Infinity – science fiction magazine and publisher based in Scotland for the world to enjoy.
(5) WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE WAR? People have been trying to answer that question about these familiar names for years.“L. Ron Hubbard, Robert Heinlein and the Kamikaze Group Think Tank – Not So ‘Nothing’ After All?” at The McClaughry’s Blog is a 2017 post, but it’s news to me!
… Not that Hubbard was some kind of White Knight or anything, far from it. Even a brief perusal of our work here at the blog would tell you very quickly that we don’t go easy on Mr. Hubbard. But, I don’t think that we need to discredit his actual bad acts by throwing out wrong characterizations and outright lies about him either.
Hubbard has two big holes in his Navy history that none of the so-called ‘experts’ ever noticed that I documented in my post. Either one of which could easily have been this Aleutians business, and I’m guessing it was the second “hole” from November 3 to November 25, 1944.
It actually fits well with then being tasked with Heinlein to deal with anti-Kamikaze tactics. Heinlein details that two assignments came to him from Naval Intelligence, practically back to back. The problem is, people have put wrong times for when these were. Times that don’t fit with KNOWN dates and events.
Heinlein and other science fiction writers were utilized several times for Naval Intelligence projects…
Right on the back of that is when Heinlein formed his Think Tank on Kamikazes with Hubbard etc. which was also called a “crash” project.
In 1944, Heinlein recruited Hubbard, Sturgeon and others for a project: “Op-Nav-23, a brainstorming job on antikamikaze measures.”  The Bradbury Chronicles by Sam Weller, p. 12
I had been ordered to round up science fiction writers for this crash project-the wildest brains I could find, so Ted was a welcome recruit. Some of the others were George O. Smith, John W. Campbell Jr., Murray Leinster, L. Ron Hubbard, Sprague de Camp, and Fletcher Pratt…
– Stephen Dedman in May the Armed Forces Be with You
Ok, first question would be when were these kamikaze attacks?
Although there had been spotty “kamikaze” actions by Japanese fighter pilots with engine troubles etc. earlier in WWII, the first inklings of an actual program appears to have been decided upon by August 1944 but not acted upon until Vice-Admiral Takijiro Onishi, took command of the 1st Air Fleet in the Philippines on October 17, 1944. Onishi had initially opposed the idea, but changed his mind when he took command.
Three days later kamikaze attacks – kamikaze means “Divine Wind” – were introduced October 20 of 1944 and on October 25 the first formal (and mass) kamikaze attacks launched in the Phillippines….
(6) MEMORY LANE.
- 1976 – Forty-five years ago at MidAmeriCon, the Hugo for Best Novella went to Roger Zelazny for “Home Is the Hangman” which was published in Analog, November 1975. It would also win the Nebula the same year. The other nominated novellas were “The Storms of Windhaven” by George R. R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle [Analog, May 1975] “ARM” by Larry Niven [Epoch, 1975] “The Silent Eyes of Time” by Algis Budrys [F&SF, Nov 1975] and “The Custodians” by Richard Cowper [F&SF, Oct 1975]. It is collected with the other two novellas in this series, “The Eve of RUMOKO“ and “Kjwalll’kje’k’koothaïlll’kje’k“ in My Name in Legion which is available from the usual suspects.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born April 25, 1897 — Fletcher Pratt. He’s best remembered for his fiction written with L. Sprague de Camp, to wit Land of Unreason, The Carnelian Cube and The Complete Compleat Enchanter. I’m rather fond of The Well of the Unicorn and Double Jeopardy. I see that he and Jack Coggins were nominated for International Fantasy Award for their Rockets, Jets, Guided Missiles and Space Ships, a non-fiction work published in 1951. Anyone known about this? (Died 1956.) (CE)
- Born April 25, 1915 — Mort Weisinger. Comic book editor best known for editing Superman during in the Silver Age of comic books. He also served as story editor for the Adventures of Superman series, Before that he was one of the earliest active sf fans, working on fanzines like The Planet (1931) and The Time Traveller (1932) and attending the New York area fan club known as The Scienceers. (Died 1978.) (CE)
- Born April 25, 1915 – Leslie Croutch. Television & radio repairman. Half a dozen stories. Contributor to The Acolyte, Futurian War Digest, Spaceways, Tin Tacks, Voice of the Imagi-Nation, Le Zombie. Various fanzines of his own, notably Light. See here and Harry Warner’s appreciation here (PDF). (Died 1969) [JH]
- Born April 25, 1920 — John Mantley. He wrote but one SF novel, The 27th Day, but it rated a detailed write-up by Bud Webster in The Magazine of F&SF which you can read here. (He wrote the screenplay for the film version of his novel which gets an abysmal score of twenty-five percent among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.) He also produced a number of episodes of The Wild Wild West, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and MacGyver. (Died 2003.) (CE)
- Born April 25, 1925 – Margery Gill. A dozen covers, as many interiors for us; much else. Here is Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds. Here is The Saracen Lamp. Here is Over Sea, Under Stone. Here is English Fairy Tales. Here is an interior from A Little Princess. See this appreciation in the Illustrators Wiki. (Died 2008) [JH]
- Born April 25, 1929 — Robert A. Collins. Edited a number of quite interesting publications including the Fantasy Newsletter in the early Eighties, the IAFA Newsletter in the late Eighties and the early Nineties along with the Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review Annual with Rob Latham at the latter time. He also wrote Thomas Burnett Swann: A Brief Critical Biography & Annotated Bibliography. (Died 2009.) (CE)
- Born April 25, 1941 – Stella Nemeth, age 80. Book reviews and occasional drawings in The Diversifier, Lan’s Lantern, SF Booklog, Zeor Forum; seen in Algol. More recently in Art With a Needle. [JH]
- Born April 25, 1957 – Deborah Chester, age 64. Three dozen novels for us (some under different names); several others. Has a recipe in Anne McCaffrey’s Serve It Forth. Professor at Univ. Oklahoma. [JH]
- Born April 25, 1961 — Gillian Polack, 60. Australian writer and editor. She created the Ceres Universe, a fascinating story setting. And she’s a great short story writer as Datlow demonstrated when she selected “Happy Faces for Happy Families” for her recommended reading section in the ‘04 Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. She’s reasonably stocked at the usual suspects. (CE)
- Born April 25, 1975 – Courtney Schafer, age 46. Three novels, one shorter story. Electrical engineer, worked in aerospace. While at Cal Tech (California Inst. of Technology) she also learned rock climbing, skiing, SCUBA diving; later, figure skating. Favorite series, the Lymond Chronicles; has also read Hidden Figures, The Little Prince, Watership Down. [JH]
- Born April 25, 1979 – Christopher Hopper, age 42. Half a dozen novels, a score more with co-authors; one shorter story. Encouraged by his wife he has two million words published; also plays in her band. He’s breakfasted with Winnie Mandela, kite-surfed in Hawai’i, photographed white rhinos in South Africa, climbed the Great Wall of China. [JH]
- Born April 25, 1981 — Silvia Moreno-Garcia, 40. Canadian of Mexican descent. She’s the publisher of Innmouths Free Press, an imprint devoted to weird fiction. Not surprisingly, she co-edited with Paula R. Stiles for the press, the Historical Lovecraft and Future Lovecraft anthologies. She won a World Fantasy Award for the She Walks in Shadows anthology, also on Innsmouth Free Press. She was a finalist for the Nebula Award 2019 in the Best Novel category for her Gods of Jade and Shadow novel. And finally with Lavie Tidhar, she edits the Jewish Mexican Literary Review. Not genre, but sort of genre adjacent. (CE)
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Bizarro finds something at the window gently tapping.
(9) X-MEN NEWS. Christian Holub, in the Entertainment Weekly story “Marvel reveals the results of X-Men fan election” says Marvel sent out a bunch of mini-comics before deciding whether Banshee, Strong Guy, Boom-Boom, or other rookies got to join the X-Men team. Those Twitter comics are linked at the end of the article.
…Election season is finally over for the X-Men. Back in January, Marvel conducted a public vote for fans to choose a member of the newest X-Men team that is set to debut at the much-anticipated Hellfire Gala in June’s Planet-Sized X-Men #1. As with any election, there can only be one winner, and unfortunately lots of losers. But at least fans get to see how each of the candidates — Banshee, Polaris, Forge, Boom-Boom, Tempo, Cannonball, Sunspot, Strong Guy, Marrow, and Armor — responded to the results in a new series of mini-comics published to Marvel’s social media accounts over the past week.
Written by Zeb Wells (Hellions) and illustrated by a variety of artists (including Rachelle Rosenberg who colored them all), each installment of these Twitter comics featured two candidates each reckoning with their loss. First up was Strong Guy and Forge, illustrated by Mike Henderson. Despite the fact that Forge has used his mutant affinity with technology to develop all kinds of bio-organic resources for the new mutant nation-state on the living island of Krakoa, Strong Guy points out that they’re equal in defeat….
(10) WHY DID YOU DESIGN? There’s a Kickstarter to fund production of “The Prisoner Retro Style Action Figures by Wandering Planet Toys”, with versions of Number 6 as he was attired in different episodes, a boxed pair with Number 6 and his nemesis Number 2, and even a Rover figure.
In 1967 the cult classic TV series, THE PRISONER, came bursting onto the screen. The series, about an unnamed British intelligence agent who awakes to find himself trapped in an idyllic seaside village, was not only an instant hit with viewers at the time, it went on to be watched and re-watched obsessively by fans, quickly gaining cult status.
While there have been several collectables released over the decades, THE PRISONER has never received a line of OFFICIALLY LICENSED ACTION FIGURES… and Wandering Planet Toys is working with our licensing partners at ITV Studios to bring to life 4-inch RETRO STYLE ACTION FIGURES that celebrate Patrick McGoohan’s brilliant series.
… Want to get information about these figures? Good, because by hook or by crook you will!
No discussion of THE PRISONER is complete without mention of the Village’s spherical guardian and menace, ROVER. In order to evoke the iconic moment of NUMBER 6 pushed up against the gelatinous side of the guardian, we’ve created a Limited Edition plastic packaging unit depicting our hero in the belly of the beast. This package is a resealable clamshell so the figure can be removed for display, then reinserted.
(11) SENATOR, YOU’RE NO JACK KENNEDY. But he makes a pretty good John Scalzi.
(12) REDRUM. It’s official! “NASA’s first color photo from the Mars Ingenuity helicopter is… red” reports Mashable. Images at the link.
Mars is often referred to as the “Red Planet” because of the rusty, reddish-orange sandscape blanketing the planet. That comes into sharp focus in our first color photo snapped by the Mars Ingenuity helicopter.
That was taken about 17 feet above the ground. You can clearly see the sandy red-orange Martian surface. And if you look at the bottom of the image, you’ll clearly see Ingenuity’s shadow, with two of its spindly legs visibly jutting out from it’s rectangular body.
Those patterns in the ground that look like tracks are in fact… tracks left by the Perseverance rover, the remote-operated research vehicle that carried Ingenuity safely to Mars. Once it deposited its flying robot friend the Perseverance headed off to a new location, first to monitor the helicopter for a month and then to proceed with its other duties.
Here’s a closer look at those tracks….
(13) JOSH FIGHT. There can be only one… Josh! Wikipedia explains yesterday’s “Josh fight”. Which is sounds a little like a Pennsic Wars where all the combatants have the same first name.
On the chosen day, several hundred people, including many named Josh, congregated at Air Park. Attendees came from as far as New York, Houston, and Washington with some dressed in superhero and Star Wars costumes. The gathering also included a fundraising element for Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, which raised over $8,000 USD, and a food drive that collected over 200 pounds (90 kg) of food for a nearby food bank.
Three ‘fights’ were held – one game of rock paper scissors for those named Josh Swain, a second with pool noodles for all attendees named Josh, and a third and final all-in battle for anyone in possession of a pool noodle willing to participate. Only two Josh Swains were in attendance – Josh Swain, the event’s creator, beat a rival Josh Swain from Omaha in the rock paper scissors event. A local four-year-old boy named Josh Vinson Jr., dubbed ‘Little Josh’, who had been treated at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha for seizures when he was two years old, was declared the winner and crowned with a paper crown from Burger King as well as a replica AEW World Championship belt
(14) WHAT IF MY ‘PARTNER’ HAS A JOB AND I DON’T? In “AI ethicist Kate Darling: ‘Robots can be our partners’” – a Guardian interviewer goes for the jugular:
But companies are trying to develop robots to take humans out of the equation – driverless robot cars, package delivery by drone. Doesn’t an animal analogy conceal what, in fact, is a significant threat?
There is a threat to people’s jobs. But that threat is not the robots – it is company decisions that are driven by a broader economic and political system of corporate capitalism. The animal analogy helps illustrate that we have some options. The different ways that we’ve harnessed animals’ skills in the past shows we could choose to design and use this technology as a supplement to human labour, instead of just trying to automate people away.
(15) DOME IMPROVEMENTS. The New Yorker asks “Do Brain Implants Change Your Identity?”
The first thing that Rita Leggett saw when she regained consciousness was a pair of piercing blue eyes peering curiously into hers. “I know you, don’t I?” she said. The man with the blue eyes replied, “Yes, you do.” But he didn’t say anything else, and for a while Leggett just wondered and stared. Then it came to her: “You’re my surgeon!”
It was November, 2010, and Leggett had just undergone neurosurgery at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. She recalled a surge of loneliness as she waited alone in a hotel room the night before the operation and the fear she felt when she entered the operating room. She’d worried about the surgeon cutting off her waist-length hair. What am I doing in here? she’d thought. But just before the anesthetic took hold, she recalled, she had said to herself, “I deserve this.”
Leggett was forty-nine years old and had suffered from epilepsy since she was born. During the operation, her surgeon, Andrew Morokoff, had placed an experimental device inside her skull, part of a brain-computer interface that, it was hoped, would be able to predict when she was about to have a seizure. The device, developed by a Seattle company called NeuroVista, had entered a trial stage known in medical research as “first in human.” A research team drawn from three prominent epilepsy centers based in Melbourne had selected fifteen patients to test the device. Leggett was Patient 14….
(16) ANIMATION INSPIRATION. “David Letterman Interviews Mel Blanc in 1982” from Late Night.
Even in his 70’s, Mel never lost those little voices. It amazes me how he could go from one to another so quickly and effortlessly.
[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Smith.]