(1) GRRM ON STRIKE. George R.R. Martin has written two persuasive and informative posts about the WGA strike for Not A Blog which are excerpted here.
In the waning hours of May 1, the Writers Guild of America declared a strike. The action began on May 2. There are pickets in front of every studio lot and sound stage in LA, and many in other cities as well. Get used to them. I expect they will be there for a long time.
I am not in LA, so I cannot walk a picket line as I did in 1988, but I want to go on the record with my full and complete and unequivocal support of my Guild….
(Many of you will be wondering, rightfully, about the impact of the strike on my own shows. The second season of DARK WINDS wrapped several months ago. Post production has been completed on five of the six episodes, and will soon be done on the last. The show will likely air sometime this summer on AMC. No decision on the third season will be made until after the strike. Peacock has passed on WILD CARDS, alas. A pity. We will try to place it elsewhere, but not until the strike is over. The writer’s room on A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS: THE HEDGE KNIGHT has closed for the duration. Ira Parker and his incredible staff of young talents are on the picket lines. Across the ocean, the second season of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON started filming April 11 and will continue in London and Wales. The scripts for the eight s2 episodes were all finished months ago, long before the strike began, Every episode has gone through four or five drafts and numerous rounds of revisions, to address HBO notes, my notes, budget concerns, etc. There will be no further revisions. The writers have done their jobs; the rest is in the hands of the directors, cast and crew… and of course the dragons)….
I want to say a few words about what I think is THE most important issue in the current writers’ strike: the so-called “mini rooms” that the Guild is hoping to abolish, and the terrible impact they are having on writers at the start of their careers.
A look at my own career may be instructive. For the first fourteen years of my career, I wrote only prose; a few novels, and lots of stories for ANALOG, ASIMOV’S, and various other SF magazines and anthologies. Much as I enjoyed television, I never dreamt of writing for it until 1985, when CBS decided to launch a new version of THE TWLIGHT ZONE, and executive producer Phil DeGuere invited me to write an episode for them. A freelance script; that was how you began back then. I decided to give it a shot… and Phil and his team liked what I did. So much so that within days of delivery, I got an offer to come on staff. Before I quite knew what had happened, I was on my way to LA with a six-week deal as a Staff Writer, at the Guild minimum salary, scripts against. (In the 80s, Staff Writer was the lowest rung on the ladder. You could tell, because it was the only job with “writer” in the title).
…There is no film school in the world that could have taught me as much about television production as I learned on TWILIGHT ZONE during that season and a half. When TZ was renewed for a second season, I was promoted from Staff Writer to Story Editor. (More money, and now scripts were plus and not against). Started sitting in on freelance pitches… and now I was allowed to talk and give notes. Sadly, the show was cancelled halfway through the second season, but by that time I had learned so much that I was able to go on to further work in television. I did a couple stories for MAX HEADROOM, but my next staff job was BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. They brought me on as Executive Story Editor, one bump up from my TZ rank. Over the next three years, I climbed the ladder, rung by rung: Co-Producer, Producer, Co-Supervising Producer, Supervising Producer, Co-Executive Producer. When B&B finished its run, I started writing features and pitching pilots, landed an overall deal at Columbia, created and scripted STARPORT and THE SURVIVORS and FADEOUT… and DOORWAYS, which we filmed for ABC. I was Showrunner (along with Jim Crocker) and Executive Producer on that one.
That was my first ten years in television; 1985-1995, more or less, long before HBO and GAME OF THRONES.
NONE OF IT would have been possible, if not for the things I learned on TWILIGHT ZONE as a Staff Writer and Story Editor. I was the most junior of junior writers, maybe a hot(ish) young writer in the world of SF, but in TV I was so green that I would have been invisible against a green screen. And that, in my opinion, is the most important of the things that the Guild is fighting for. The right to have that kind of career path. To enable new writers, young writers, and yes, prose writers, to climb the same ladder.
Right now, they can’t. Streamers and shortened seasons have blown the ladder to splinters….
(2) PULITZER PRIZE. The Pulitzer Prize winners were announced yesterday. Nothing I recognized as being of genre interest. The complete list is at Publishers Weekly: “’Demon Copperhead,’ ‘Trust,’ ‘His Name Is George Floyd’ Among 2023 Pulitzer Prize Winners”. (In case you wonder, Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead borrows its narrative structure from the Charles Dickens novel David Copperfield, and the blurb doesn’t indicate there is anything supernatural in the story.)
(3) THINKING IS NOT HIS STRENGTH. “Kevin Sorbo’s Bonkers Take On Assault Weapons Gets Instant Fact-Check On Twitter” at HuffPost Entertainment. “The star of the 1990s‘Hercules’TV series hears it from his critics.”
The star of TV’s “Hercules” in the 1990s but who now focuses on Christian films and right-wing conspiracy theories wrote on Twitter:
Sorbo’s tweet came one day after a gunman killed eight people and wounded seven others at an outlet mall in Texas, and as a recent wave of mass shootings is leading to renewed calls for increased gun control….
(4) HOME ON THE MARTIAN RANGE. “To Live on Mars, Human Architecture Has to Combine Science and Sci-Fi” and Inverse presents a gallery of ideas for doing so.
…In the late 1990s, American architect Constance Adams worked with NASA to design TransHab, a large-scale inflatable spacecraft that would have increased the crew’s living space. While there are many advantages to using lightweight inflatable habitats, Adams once noted that before her creation, the biggest challenges facing space inflatable tech were strength, safety, and their need for a firm structure to maintain the form. With a soft inflatable shell, hard inner structural core, and three roomy levels, TransHab was the first hybrid structure that could be used for a pre-deployable Mars habitat. Although NASA did create a prototype, the project never received the funding it needed to get off the ground….
(5) SPEED READING. The New York Times says “A Faster Delivery for Fans of Manga” is on the horizon.
VIZ Media, a publisher devoted to manga and anime, on Tuesday will begin offering translated chapters of popular manga to audiences in North America on the same day they are released in Japan.
The simultaneous publication of titles through the company’s VIZ Manga app is part of an effort to get manga more quickly into the hands of fans at a time of booming readership, the company said. And it may also help fight pervasive piracy.
“In the last few years, manga became so much bigger,” said Ken Sasaki, the chief executive of VIZ Media, which is based in San Francisco and is a subsidiary of the Japanese publisher Hitotsubashi Group. “I think readers are finally aware that there are so many other genres.”
Manga sales hit $550 million in 2021, said Milton Griepp, the chief executive of ICv2, an online pop culture trade publication, last year at New York Comic Con. Sales jumped 9 percent in 2022, ICv2 reported in March….
(6) MEMORY LANE.
1991 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
So Mike is picking our Beginnings (for the most part) and I get the great delight of doing the research and writing them up. (Yes, they are written from my viewpoint. How else would I write them up?) His Beginning this Scroll is Nancy Kress’ “Beggars in Spain” novella. (Not the novel of the same name.)
It was published by Axolotl Press thirty-two years ago with a cover illustration by George Barr.
It won a Hugo at MagiCon as well as Asimov’s Readers, Nebula and SF Chronicle Awards while being nominated for HOMer and Locus awards. The expanded novel that came out under the same title won no Awards.
And now our Beginning…
They sat stiffly on his antique Eames chairs, two people who didn’t want to be here, or one person who didn’t want to and one who resented the other’s reluctance. Dr. Ong had seen this before. Within two minutes he was sure: the woman was the silently furious resister. She would lose. The man would pay for it later, in little ways, for a long time.
“I presume you’ve performed the necessary credit checks already,” Roger Camden said pleasantly, “so let’s get right on to details, shall we, Doctor?”
“Certainly,” Ong said. “Why don’t we start by your telling me all the genetic modifications you’re interested in for the baby.”
The woman shifted suddenly on her chair. She was in her late twenties—clearly a second wife—but already had a faded look, as if keeping up with Roger Camden was wearing her out. Ong could easily believe that. Mrs. Camden’s hair was brown, her eyes were brown, her skin had a brown tinge that might have been pretty if her cheeks had had any color. She wore a brown coat, neither fashionable nor cheap, and shoes that looked vaguely orthopedic. Ong glanced at his records for her name: Elizabeth. He would bet people forgot it often.
Next to her, Roger Camden radiated nervous vitality, a man in late middle age whose bullet-shaped head did not match his careful haircut and Italian-silk business suit. Ong did not need to consult his file to recall anything about Camden. A caricature of the bullet-shaped head had been the leading graphic for yesterday’s online edition of the Wall Street Journal: Camden had led a major coup in cross-border data-atoll investment. Ong was not sure what cross-border data-atoll investment was. “A girl,” Elizabeth Camden said. Ong hadn’t expected her to speak first. Her voice was another surprise: upper-class British. “Blonde. Green eyes. Tall. Slender.”
“A girl,” Elizabeth Camden said. Ong hadn’t expected her to speak first. Her voice was another surprise: upper-class British. “Blonde. Green eyes. Tall. Slender.”
Ong smiled. “Appearance factors are the easiest to achieve, as I’m sure you already know. But all we can do about slenderness is give her a genetic disposition in that direction. How you feed the child will naturally—”
“Yes, yes,” Roger Camden said, “that’s obvious. Now: intelligence. High intelligence. And a sense of daring.”
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 9, 1860 — J. M. Barrie. Author of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, which I’ve read a number of times. Of the movie versions, I like Steven Spielberg’s Hook the best. The worst use of the character, well of Wendy to be exact, is in Lost Girls, the sexually explicit graphic novel by Alan Moore (bad script) and Melinda Gebbie (even worse art). If you’ve not read it, don’t bother. If you really must know more about it, here is the Green Man review. (Died 1937.)
- Born May 9, 1913 — Richard McKenna. His short story “The Secret Place” was a Hugo nominee and won the Nebula. “Casey Agonistes” (short story) and “Hunter, Come Home” (novelette) are in many anthologies; “Casey” has been translated into French, German, Italian; “Hunter” into French, German, Italian, Romanian; “Secret” into Dutch, German, Italian, Polish. Cover artist for Volume 3 of the NESFA Press Essential Hal Clement (Variations on a Theme by Sir Isaac Newton). Best known outside our field for The Sand Pebbles which I’ve read and must say is rather excellent. (Died 1964.)
- Born May 9, 1920 — William Tenn. Clute says in ESF that “From the first, Tenn was one of the genre’s very few genuinely comic, genuinely incisive writers of short fiction, sharper and more mature than Fredric Brown and less self-indulgent in his Satirical take on the modern world than Robert Sheckley.” That pretty sums him up I think. All of his fiction is collected in two volumes from NESFA Press, Immodest Proposals: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume I and Here Comes Civilization: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume II. He’s very, very well stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 2010.)
- Born May 9, 1925 — Kris Neville. His most well-remembered work, the “Bettyann” novella, is a classic of science fiction. It would become part of the Bettyann novel, a fix-up of it and “Overture“, a short story of his. He wrote a lot of rather great short fiction, much of which can be in the posthumous The Science Fiction of Kris Neville, edited by Barry N. Malzberg (who greatly admired him) and Martin H. Greenberg, and more (some overlapping with the first collection) Earth Alert! and Other Science Fiction Tales. He’s not alas widely available at the usual suspects. (Died 1980.)
- Born May 9, 1926 — Richard Cowper. The White Bird of Kinship series is what he’s best remembered for and I’d certainly recommend it as being worth reading. It appears that all of them are available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 2002.)
- Born May 9, 1929 — Richard Adams. I really loved Watership Down when I read it long ago — will not read it again so the Suck Fairy may not visit it. Reasonably sure I’ve read Shardik once but it made no impression one way or the other. Heard good things about Tales from Watership Down and should add it my TBR pile. (Died 2016.)
- Born May 9, 1951 — Geoff Ryman, 72. His first novel, The Unconquered Country, was winner of the World Fantasy Award and British Science Fiction Association Award. I’m really intrigued that The King’s Last Song is set during the Angkor Wat era and the time after Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, grim times indeed for an SF novel. And let’s not overlook that The Child Garden which bears the variant title of The Child Garden or A Low Comedy would win the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best SF Novel.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Eek! shows Count Dracula was scarred by childhood.
- Get Fuzzy’s absurd pet humor cannot easily be explained, but I laughed anyway.
- Lio’s elementary school is named for a good friend of Ray Bradbury’s.
(9) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] After a little bit of a drought, today’s episode had a number of SFF-related clues.
In the single Jeopardy round:
Yeet! for $600: In “2001” this computer yeets Frank Poole off into space but still has Dave to contend with
Returning champion Hannah Wilson knew HAL 9000.
Yeet! for $1000: In Greek myth, after he was born lame, his mom yeeted him out of heaven, but he returned & made Hermes’ winged helmet
Juveria Zaheer tried, “What is Vulcan?” but this Roman equivalent was not accepted. Sami Casanova got the money with “Who is Hephaestus?”.
Children’s Lit for $1000: Though he comes from another world, not from France, this diminutive guy appeared on the 50-franc note for many years
This was a Daily Double for Sami and she correctly responded with “The Little Prince”.
In the double Jeopardy round:
Futility for $2000: Harry Potter might have a better chance of turning metals to gold using this medieval substance from alchemy, also called the tincture
A triple stumper: they were looking for the Philosopher’s Stone. Perhaps people in England might have had a better chance with this one.
What Kind of TV Place Do You Live In? for $2000: Commander Sheridan & the gang on “Babylon 5” (an inaccurate question! Sheridan had the rank of captain. It was season 1’s Sinclair who was a commander.)
Hannah tried: “What is a spaceship?”. Mayim Bialik prompted on that, “More specific?”, which surprised me — I would have just called that wrong. After the prompt, Hannah went to “What is a space station?” and was counted right.
Futility for $400: Always armed with the catchphrase no one in the “Star Trek” world wanted to hear, the Borg let it be known that this “is futile”
Juveria responded, “What is resistance?”
(11) DON’T LOOK UP? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A New Jersey homeowner, and his family, returned to find something had broken into the house. Yep, something, not someone. An apparent meteorite had crashed through the roof, broken through an upper floor bedroom ceiling, banged off the floor, and hit the ceiling again before coming to a stop. “Possible meteorite strikes New Jersey home, officials say” at CNN.
What could be a meteorite struck a home in Hopewell Township, New Jersey, authorities said Monday. The metallic object crashed through the roof of a house and ricocheted around a bedroom. No one was in the bedroom at the time of the incident, and no injuries were reported.
Police are still working to determine the precise nature of the object, though officials suspect it is related to the current meteor shower, called the Eta Aquariids, according to a statement from the Hopewell Township Police Department in New Jersey.
The Eta Aquariid meteor shower is an annual phenomenon in which debris from the famous Halley’s Comet rains down into Earth’s atmosphere. The celestial event was expected to peak this past Saturday, according to American Meteor Society predictions, though it will last through May 27.
“I did touch the thing because I just thought it was a random rock,” Suzy Kop, a local resident who said the rock fell through the roof of her father’s bedroom, told CNN affiliate KYW-TV in Philadelphia. “And it was warm.”
“I just thank God that my father was not here. No one was here,” she added. “You know, we weren’t hurt or anything.”…
(12) RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE PUBLIC DOMAIN. At Open Culture, “Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intelligent Person Should Read”. This is a 2011 post, however, it’s not like these books will have been superseded since then – the most recent title is Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.
A Reddit.com user posed the question to Neil deGrasse Tyson: “Which books should be read by every single intelligent person on the planet?”
Below, you will find the book list offered up by the astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium, and popularizer of science….
(13) CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] I found out what all the commotion was about [why the library was closed] — it was Charles (the artist formerly known as Prince) being coronated the next day. Sadly my invite to the abbey appeared to have got lost in the post. That’s the Royal Mail for you….
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Honest Trailers seeks the truth about “The Mandalorian Season 3”. But it’s not easy to find!
…After parting ways with baby Yoda in season two Disney took one look at the toy sales and said, um, no. No. It may not be super clear why they’re still together. Make up your mind whether he’s an actual baby or just a baby they’re forcing to be a Child!
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, David Goldfarb, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]