(1) NEW VONDA MCINTYRE COLLECTION. Clarion West has announced that Little Sisters and Other Stories, a collection of short fiction by Clarion West founder and life-long supporter, Vonda N. McIntyre, will be released April 23, 2024 and is available for preorder now.
With story notes by Una McCormack, this collection spans the whole of McIntyre’s career, showing the broad range of her interests and her voice, taking us from bleak dystopian worlds on the verge of environmental collapse to baroque intergalactic civilizations populated by genetically modified humans; from cries for freedom to sharp-eyed satire to meditations on aging.
Published by Gold SF, an imprint of Goldsmiths Press dedicated to discovering and publishing new intersectional feminist science fiction, the collection captures McIntyre’s distinctive themes of gender and power dynamics, human and species diversity, and a pragmatic utopianism that emphasizes our mutual dependency.
Featuring previously uncollected stories from McIntyre’s earlier career, including her first published piece, “Breaking Point” (1970), as well as McIntyre’s last two vivid and provocative pieces, the award-nominated “Little Faces” (2005) and “Little Sisters” (2015). One story, “XYY,” was intended for The Last Dangerous Visions edited by Harlan Ellison, and we are pleased to present it here for the first time.
The ten stories in this collection include:
A Story for Eilonwy
The Adventure of the Field Theorems
Clarion West is also actively seeking a publisher for The Curve of the World, Vonda’s last manuscript. Direct inquiries about that work and Vonda’s other stories to Jennifer Goloboy with the Donald Maass Literary Agency.
(2) AND WHEN IT ENDS, NO ONE CATCHES IT. The Westercon business meeting held at last weekend’s Loscon voted “None of the Above” when asked to pick a 2025 site, for reasons explained in Kevin Standlee’s post “Westercon 77 Site Selection Detailed Results”. Then they authorized a Caretaker Committee of Kevin and Lisa Hayes to consider proposals that may be made to host the con.
No bids filed to host the 2025 West Coast Science Fantasy Conference (Westercon 77). Nineteen voting fees were paid to vote in the election at Westercon 75 (Loscon 49) In Los Angeles on November 24, 2023, and nineteen ballots were cast. The detailed results were reported to the Westercon 75 Business Meeting on November 25. As there were no filed bids, none of the write-in votes were for valid candidates, and consequently None of the Above won, referring the selection to the Business Meeting.
The Westercon 75 Business Meeting awarded Westercon 77 to a “Caretaker Committee” consisting of Kevin Standlee and Lisa Hayes, with the understanding that this committee will entertain proposals from groups that want to host the 2025 Westercon and select from among them, then transferring the right host Westercon 77 to one of those groups. The Caretaker Committee will announce additional details on how they will proceed before the end of 2023.
…There was nothing in Drew Ortiz’s author biography at Sports Illustrated to suggest that he was anything other than human.
“Drew has spent much of his life outdoors, and is excited to guide you through his never-ending list of the best products to keep you from falling to the perils of nature,” it read. “Nowadays, there is rarely a weekend that goes by where Drew isn’t out camping, hiking, or just back on his parents’ farm.”
The only problem? Outside of Sports Illustrated, Drew Ortiz doesn’t seem to exist. He has no social media presence and no publishing history. And even more strangely, his profile photo on Sports Illustrated is for sale on a website that sells AI-generated headshots, where he’s described as “neutral white young-adult male with short brown hair and blue eyes.”
Ortiz isn’t the only AI-generated author published by SportsIllustrated, according to a person involved with the creation of the content who asked to be kept anonymous to protect them from professional repercussions.
“There’s a lot,” they told us of the fake authors. “I was like, what are they? This is ridiculous. This person does not exist.”…
… After we reached out with questions to the magazine’s publisher, The Arena Group, all the AI-generated authors disappeared from Sports Illustrated‘s site without explanation.
Initially, our questions received no response. But after we published this story, an Arena Group spokesperson provided the following statement that blamed a contractor for the content…
A disclaimer has been added to the pages noting that “a 3rd party” created the content and that Sports Illustrated editorial staff were not involved.
However, the article includes examples of the same issue with The Arena Group’s other publications.
…Though Sports Illustrated‘s AI-generated authors and their articles disappeared after we asked about them, similar operations appear to be alive and well elsewhere in The Arena Group’s portfolio.
Take TheStreet, a financial publication cofounded by Jim Cramer in 1996 that The Arena Group bought for $16.5 million in 2019. Like at Sports Illustrated, we found authors at TheStreet with highly specific biographies detailing seemingly flesh-and-blood humans with specific areas of expertise — but with profile photos traceable to that same AI face website. And like at Sports Illustrated, these fake writers are periodically wiped from existence and their articles reattributed to new names, with no disclosure about the use of AI….
And there are further examples of other companies that have been detected running AI-generated content.
…Shortly after noon today, the Sports Illustrated Union, which bills itself as a the publication’s “united editorial staff” organized under the New Guild of New York, issued a response on social media….
Michael Connelly is one of several authors suing the tech company OpenAI for “theft” of his work. Nicola Solomon, outgoing Society of Authors CEO, and Sean Michaels, one of the first novelists to use AI, discuss the challenges and opportunities facing writers on the cusp of a new technological era.
…In 1996’s Excession, the fourth of Banks’s sci-fi novels set in the symbiotic human/machine intergalactic utopia of the Culture, artificial intelligence clever-clogs known as Minds entertain themselves by experimenting with the options sliders on virgin galaxies to analyse the pinballing ways in which they might evolve. This God Mode mucking about is interrupted when an inscrutable but all-powerful onyx sphere appears on the edge of Culture space. In interviews at the time Banks likened that plot development to the stomach-dropping sensation in Civilization of seeing a fleet of AI-controlled ironclad warships on the horizon when your fledgling society has barely mastered clay pots and raffia mats….
(6) A YEAR FROM NOW. Loscon 50 “Celebrating 50 Loscons” will be held next Thanksgiving Weekend at the LAX Hilton. Congratulations to the GoHs!
Guests of Honor Writer: SPIDER ROBINSON Musical Artist: KATHY MAR Artist: DR. LAURA BRODIAN FREAS BERAHA Ghost Artist: FRANK KELLY FREAS Fan: GENNY DAZZO AND CRAIG MILLER
…“It’s a compulsion,” Snyder admits on a balmy November day at his compound in the hills above Pasadena. He’s sitting in his home office, a modernist cube that also contains a screening room, an editing bay and a gym. Steps away is the pottery studio Snyder recently constructed on the property for his new hobby. Not far from that, near the pickleball court, is his family’s sprawling dwelling, a midcentury glass-and-concrete structure that bears more than a passing resemblance to Bruce Wayne’s house in Snyder’s 2016 film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Snyder’s compulsion to mold — and pull apart — has made him one of the most argued-about directors of the past couple of decades. To some, he was the savior of the DC superhero universe. To others, he was its destroyer. But his latest film, Rebel Moon, is something of a departure from his career trajectory up till now, a shift in genres, if not necessarily in tone or ambition, and perhaps a refreshing change of pace from the controversy magnets he was making in the 2010s. For one thing, his new film contains not a single comic book character for him to darkly reimagine. Instead, it’s a big-budget space epic about a group of outlaw rebels on a remote planetoid who battle an evil empire. Think Star Wars, only grittier, more violent, sexier and R-rated (at least in the negotiated director’s cut, but more on that later).
Ironically, Rebel Moon arrives on Netflix on Dec. 22, the very same date that Snyder’s former home, Warner Bros., will be releasing Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Snyder had nothing to do with that sequel, but technically it’s the final film in the so-called SnyderVerse, the constellation of DC comic book-inspired pictures — some of which Snyder directed, some of which he produced, most featuring actors he initially cast, like Henry Cavill in 2013’s Man of Steel, and Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa in the original 2016 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice — that all carry Snyder’s inimitable underglaze….
The news comes on the 35th anniversary of the DC comic book series on which the show is based. Neil Gaiman, who wrote the comics and developed the TV series, celebrated the occasion with a letter to fans promising that “good things are coming.” Netflix also shared a new photo that shows Tom Sturridge, who plays Dream, and Mason Alexander Park, who plays Desire, on set….
… It was always clear that Compton was a major writer who never found a mass audience. And so he received two awards that were aimed at bringing deserved attention to neglected writers: the SFWA Author Emeritus in 2007, and the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award in 2021….
(10) TAKING A BITE OUT OF COLLECTORS. The Wikipedia article on “Vampire killing kit” buries the lede, which I suppose is fitting to the subject, but gets there eventually.
…The items within vampire killing kits often date to the 19th century, although they may be combined with items such as paper labels that are significantly more recent.
Born November 29, — Madeleine L’Engle. (Died 2007.) I first encountered her not as a genre writer but through her more literary work in the form of her Katherine Forrester Vigneras series, A Small Rain and A Severed Wasp which tell the tale of a woman who’s a pianist, first in her teens and then when she’s in her seventies. Most decidedly worth reading.
Then came the Time Quintet of A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet and Many Waters. Truly extraordinary novels. I see that A Wrinkle in Time won a Newberry Award which it richly deserved.
I did not know until I was writing this up that there was a second series of four novels set a generation after these novels. Who’s read them?
There’s serious amounts of her writing that I’ve not touched upon as I’ve not read them, her in-depth Christian writings, her Children’s books, her non-fiction, her poetry and her more literature undertakings. Even a play was done by her.
I did see the 2003 four miniseries version of A Wrinkle in Time that Disney did and I share what L’Engle told Time: “I have glimpsed it. I expected it to be bad, and it is.” And we will not talk about the Disney 2018 A Wrinkle in Time film as polite company doesn’t do that.
She would receive a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
(13) WHERE BEAR? THERE CASTLE. The New York Times finds that “With an Artist’s Help, Paddington Can Go Anywhere”. “For nearly 1,000 straight days, Jason Chou has inserted Paddington, the anthropomorphized bear, into absurd situations. He has no plans to stop.”
(14) VIRTUAL MONUMENTS. [Item by Andrew (not Werdna).] Reminds me of something from William Gibson – the “locational art” from “Spook Country”, “The Statue Wars Turn to Cyberspace” in The New Yorker.
…Brewster is a co-founder of the Kinfolk Foundation, an organization attempting to remake the city’s streetscape with an app. In 2017, Brewster was working at Google, and he was among the many local activists who tried and failed to persuade lawmakers to remove the towering statue of Christopher Columbus on Fifty-ninth Street. “We were, like, ‘All right, we lost that one,’ ” Brewster recalled. “So we started creating monuments.”
Each was fashioned not from bronze or marble but from bits and bytes in the cloud, visible only on screens using augmented reality. “You can build hundreds of digital monuments for the price of one physical one,” he said.
He believes that in a nation where there are ten times as many monuments honoring mermaids as honoring U.S. congresswomen, and where statues of Robert E. Lee outnumber those of Frederick Douglass, having more diverse monuments makes more sense….
… This week, without permission from the city’s bureaucrats, Kinfolk is placing four new statues around town. The installations were created in collaboration with the Black artists Hank Willis Thomas, Pamela Council, Derrick Adams, and Tourmaline. Thomas’s piece is a three-hundred-foot Afro pick in the East River, looming over the Brooklyn Bridge. Adams designed two huge statues representing Alma and Victor Hugo Green, who, in the nineteen-thirties, began publishing the “Green Book” travel guide, which identified businesses around the U.S. that welcomed Black customers. Tourmaline explained, of Kinfolk, “It’s kind of like Pokémon Go. You didn’t know it was there—until you did.”…
(15) DON’T LET THE SOUND OF YOUR OWN MEALS DRIVE YOU CRAZY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Scientist believe they have found a pattern of brain activity that helps explain misophonia—an abnormal reaction to sounds that may include anger, disgust, panic, and other strong emotions or physical reactions. Triggers may include eating sounds (chewing, slurping, smacking, etc.), repetitive clicking or tapping sounds (e.g., clock ticks), and more. “What is misophonia? Causes and why the sound of chewing angers some” at USA Today.
Noises such as chewing, slurping, sniffing and heavy breathing are common triggers, as well as clicking, tapping and other repetitive noises that come from objects like clocks and fans….
…“People without misophonia struggle to understand it because they also don’t like certain sounds, in the same way that people don’t understand ADHD because they relate to having trouble concentrating,” said Jane Gregory, a clinical psychologist with the University of Oxford who studies the disorder. “It’s not that people with misophonia don’t like the sound — it’s that their body is reacting as if that sound is somehow dangerous or harmful.”…
At first it was just one flower, but Emmanuel Mendoza, an undergraduate student at Texas A&M University, had worked hard to help it bloom. When this five-petaled thing burst forth from his English pea plant collection in late October, and then more flowers and even pea pods followed, he could also see, a little better, the future it might foretell on another world millions of miles from Earth.
These weren’t just any pea plants. Some were grown in soil meant to mimic Mars’s inhospitable regolith, the mixture of grainy, eroded rocks and minerals that covers the planet’s surface. To that simulated regolith, Mr. Mendoza had added fertilizer called frass — the waste left after black soldier fly larvae are finished eating and digesting. Essentially, bug manure.
The goal for Mr. Mendoza and his collaborators was to investigate whether frass and the bugs that created it might someday help astronauts grow food and manage waste on Mars. Black soldier fly larvae could consume astronauts’ organic waste and process it into frass, which could be used as fertilizer to coax plants out of alien soil. Humans could eat the plants, and even food made from the larvae, producing more waste for the cycle to continue.
While that might not ultimately be the way astronauts grow food on Mars, they will have to grow food. “We can’t take everything with us,” said Lisa Carnell, director for NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences Division.
But gardening doesn’t just require a plot of land, a bit of water, a beam of sunlight. It also requires very animate ingredients: the insects, like black soldier flies, and microorganisms that keep these ecological systems in working order. A trip to Mars for a long-term stay, then, won’t just involve humans. It will also involve creeping, crawling carry-ons most people don’t think about when they envision brave explorers stepping foot on new worlds….
…The recipe, roughly: Pancake mix, puffed rice, Grape-Nuts and instant coffee, with water in the mixture. The chocolate chips are made using hot glue sticks — essentially colored gobs of glue.
The cookies do not have oils, fats or sugars. Those would stain Cookie Monster. They’re edible, but barely.
“Kind of like a dog treat,” MacLean said in an interview.
Before MacLean reinvented the recipe in the 2000s, the creative team behind “Sesame Street” used versions of rice crackers and foams to make the cookies. The challenge was that the rice crackers would make more of a mess and get stuck in Cookie’s fur. And the foams didn’t look like cookies once they broke apart.
For a given episode, depending on the script, MacLean will bake, on average, two dozen cookies. There’s no oven large enough at Sesame’s New York workplace, so MacLean does almost everything at home….
… Using a novel AI process to decode ancient cuneiform tablets, they leveraged a sophisticated AI model based on the Region-based Convolutional Neural Network (R-CNN) architecture, a specialized system designed for object recognition. The study utilized a unique dataset consisting of 3D models of 1,977 cuneiform tablets, with detailed annotations of 21,000 cuneiform signs and 4,700 wedges.
The AI’s methodology entailed a two-part pipeline: initially, a sign detector, built on a RepPoints model with a ResNet18 backbone, identified cuneiform characters on the tablets. In simple terms, the RepPoints model combs through the ResNet18 collection of images connected to the Mesopotamian languages and then combines the patterns to ‘see’ the text. This step was crucial for locating the signs accurately. Subsequently, the wedge detector, using Point R-CNN with advanced features like Feature Pyramid Network (FPN) and RoI Align, classified and predicted the wedges’ positions, which forms the basis of the cuneiform script’s fundamental elements, allowing the AI, in effect, to ‘read.’…
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew (not Werdna), Lise Andreasen, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]
(1) PLAY ALONG AT HOME. [Item by Dann.] One of those question/surveys was running around on X the other day. This one seemed a bit more interesting to me. Filers might find this an interesting game to play as well.
Omitting collected works, who are the top 5 authors in your library by number of books on your shelves?
Stephen King ~15 E.E. Knight ~12 Christopher Nuttall 11 Dave Duncan 11 Miles Cameron 9
I included both physical and ebooks in my count. Most of my Stephen King and E.E. Knight books were physical, so I don’t have an accurate count close to hand.
After considering it a little longer, I would probably have to include Piers Anthony on the list. I owned a whole stack of his books before I figured out that some of his content was a little…erm…troubling. And I wouldn’t want to drop Miles Cameron off of the list in favor of Piers.
If shared universes with multiple authors are included, then Dragonlance would easily make it into the top five. Sorry, Miles. That one would bump you off.
What are your top 5 authors of books you own?
(2) EYEWITNESS TO THE ENDEAVOUR AWARD. Thanks to Ruth Sachter for sharing this photo of Sara A. Mueller accepting the Endeavour Award at OryCon on November 10.
(3) THE SHAPE OF WESTERCON TO COME. Kevin Standlee has written up two very different proposals for dealing with “The Future of Westercon” – one is a clean death, the other continues the con in a changed format.
As I hope most people following me know, Westercon has fallen on hard times. While Tonopah was successful and fun for most of the 158 people who attended, it was affected by COVID and by BayCon moving its dates onto the 4th of July Weekend, apparently just ignoring that Tonopah’s Westercon existing. The 2021 SeaTac and 2023 Anaheim Westercons dissolved, handing in their franchises to LASFS (which owns the Westercon service mark), and LASFS held both Westercons 73 and 75 in conjunction with Loscon. We once again this year have no bids filed to host the two-years-hence Westercon, although anyone could show up before the voting ends on the Friday evening of Loscon 49/Westercon 75. Assuming that doesn’t happen, the Westercon 75 Business Meeting at Loscon 49 will have to decide what to do about site selection. However, I tend to think that before that, the meeting needs to give some thought to the future of Westercon.
It appears to me that there are two scenarios: Retire Westercon or make some changes to given a chance to restart, perhaps in a different form. I therefore have prepared a Google doc with two scenarios. You should be able to read this document without needing a Google account.
Scenario 1 is to Retire Westercon, and is simply a motion to repeal the Westercon bylaws.
Scenario 2 makes five separate changes to the Westercon Bylaws to disconnect it from the US Independence Day Weekend (even loosely), removes the Westercon zone restrictions (but retains the 104°W longitude eastern boundary in North America), and changes all of the hard-coded dates to dates relative to the date of the administering Westercon. This would at least allow in theory Westercon to be awarded to various conventions in Western North America who wanted to host it, or also allow “independent” Westercons to be organized.
(4) ZOOMING INTO FANHISTORY. Fanac.org has announced four upcoming Fan History Zoom sessions coordinated by webmaster Edie Stern. The first session on the list is:
Fred Lerner, Christina Lake, Amy Thomson and Tom Whitmore
December 9, 2023 – 2PM EST, 11AM PST and 7PM London GMT
Since the first FAPA mailing in 1937, APAs have been a part of fannish life. There are topic specific apas, local apas, general interest apas, convention committee apas, letter substitutes and doubtless many more. Our panelists, all long time APA members, talk about their experiences with APA life: Why did you join the APA(s)? Did you APA live up to your expectations and why? Tell us about the APAs you’ve been part of, and tell us what makes them unique. (You can tell us about APAs you weren’t part of too!) Talk about the way the members of the APA related to each other, and the nature of that community. Compare the experience of an online community like LiveJournal or Facebook with your APA experience. The Cult was called the “13 Nastiest Bastards in Fandom”. Was it? What feels different about womens’ APAs? Are APAs now obsolete? Would you join a new APA today?
Price, who won an original score Oscar for Warner Bros. tentpole Gravity in 2014 took to X to say “Had a lot of fun scoring Coyote Vs Acme. As no-one will be able to hear it now, due to bizarre anti-art studio financial shenanigans I will never understand, here is a bit of behind the scenes footage of our “Meep Meep” Roadrunner choir, with apologies to Tchaikovsky…
(6) PICK SIX. Guardian critic Lisa Tuttle’s “The best recent science fiction, fantasy and horror – reviews roundup” is devoted to The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennet, Witch by Melinda Taub; Mothtown by Caroline Hardaker; Saturnalia by Stephanie Feldman; Writing the Future, edited by Dan Coxon and Richard V Hirst; and She’s a Killer by Kirsten McDougall.
(7) GOLDSMITHS PRIZE. The winner of the 2023 Goldsmiths Prize is Benjamin Myers’ Cuddy, a novel that incorporates poetry, prose, play, diary and real historical accounts, to retell the story of the hermit St. Cuthbert, the unofficial patron saint of the North of England. The Goldsmiths Prize “celebrates fiction at its most novel.”
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 12, 1917 — Dahlov Ipcar. Though primarily an artist and you really should go visit her website, she wrote three amazing young adult novels between 1969 and 1978 which are The Warlock of Night, The Queen of Spells and A Dark Horn Blowing. She lived but thirty miles north of here and I was privileged to meet her a few times. Lovely lady! (Died 2017.)
Born November 12, 1929 — Michael Ende. German author best known for The Neverending Story which is far better than the film. Momo, or the strange story of the time-thieves is a charming if strange novel worth your time. The rest of his children’s literature has been translated from German into English mostly by small specialist presses down the years. Unlike TheNeverending Story and Momo, which I’ve encountered, I’ve not read any of these. (Died 1995.)
Born November 12, 1943 — Wallace Shawn, 80. Probably best remembered as the ferengi Grand Nagus Zek on Deep Space Nine, a role he only played seven times. He was also Vizzini in the beloved Princess Bride, and he played Dr. Elliott Coleye in the My Favorite Martian film. He also was the voice of Rex in the Toy Story franchise. SFE notes that all of his plays were at least loosely genre and one of them, “The Fever”, was filmed. So yes, he’s a writer as well.
Born November 12, 1945 — Michael Bishop, 78 . David Pringle included his Who Made Stevie Crye? novel in Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels, An English-Language Selection, 1946-1987, high praise indeed. Though slightly dated feeling now, I’m fond of his Urban Nucleus of Atlanta series. And Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas is simply amazing.
Born November 12, 1964 — Eric Nylund, 59. His best work I think is Jack Potter/Signal sequence of Signal to Noise and A Signal Shattered, though the Gods Quintet in my humble opinion tries but fails to venture into Amber Chronicles greatness.
Born November 12, 1976 — Richelle Mead, 47. Best known for her Georgina Kincaid series, the Vampire Academy franchise and its spin-off series Bloodlines, and the Dark Swan series. I’ve only read Succubus Blues by her but it’s a truly great read and I recommend it strongly. Spirit Bound won a Good Reads Award.
…No, The Marvels meltdown isn’t about superhero fatigue. It’s about Disney’s overexposure of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brand on Disney+, and those moth holes are beginning to show: Keep what’s meant for the cinema in cinemas, and keep what’s meant for in-homes in the home. Meaning, this whole crossover streaming-into-film master plan isn’t working, nor is it really connected in a jaw-dropping way, and with Ms. Marvel not being one of the OTT services better series (ala WandaVision and Loki season one), there’s a whole quad of fans who either didn’t catch Ms Marvel, or who were too turned off by it that they sure as heck don’t want to see The Marvels.
But more to the point, Marvel Studios, The Marvels — with its crossover streaming series blah-blah — looks like it was built to be seen in homes, not to get audiences off the couch….
Captain Marvel was dead, to begin with. More than one Captain Marvel, if we want to be perfectly accurate about it. By 2012, the Marvel Comics hero that bore the company name had been relaunched in no fewer than six different series, and seen a total of three separate characters take on the name. More than three decades in, it seemed increasingly that Captain Marvel was the flagship character who just couldn’t manage to hoist a flag—and the Marvel powers that be were determined to change things once and for all.
What followed was a strange saga of missteps, false starts, and roads not taken, that finally landed on one of the most unexpected heroes of all: a neglected, half-appreciated, and similarly unsuccessful character called Carol Danvers. This is the inside story of how an ambitious first-time writer, a bullheaded editor, and a stylish designer created the most unexpected Marvel success of their era.
To understand why Captain Marvel was in need of saving, we need to understand something about why the character existed in the first place. Put indelicately, Captain Marvel was born as a trademark in need of a character. In 1967, Marvel Comics and its owner, a company called Magazine Management, realized that the name Captain Marvel—once held by the venerable Fawcett Comics character now known as Shazam!—had lapsed into disuse over the course of the decade. Fearing that another enterprising publisher would scoop up a name that should, by all rights, be identified with Marvel, a character was hastily rushed out by management fiat. Cobbled together by Stan Lee and artist Gene Colan (the latter of whom hated the character, and claimed no involvement in his conception), the good Captain was an alien spy of the Kree race, creatively named Mar-Vell, who turned traitor to his people to fight as a costumed defender of Earth. In such ways are great ideas born….
Campaigners have saved the birthplace of the Brontë sisters and are now fundraising to turn the building into a cultural and education centre – helped by a man with a link to the literary family.
Nigel West, who traces a family connection to Charlotte Brontë’s husband, made a “significant donation” to the crowdfunding appeal, which aims to transform 72-74 Market Street in Thornton, Bradford, into a tourist destination.
Around a million visitors a year travel to Haworth, to visit the house that writers Charlotte, Anne and Emily shared with their father, church minister Patrick, and their wayward brother, Branwell, and campaigners hope to transform the Thornton house, which went on sale this year, into a similar attraction….
You might think Greta Gerwig an unusual choice to take on CS Lewis’s Narnia stories for Netflix. And at first glance, few would argue with you. Beginning her career as an actor in mumblecore movies such as Baghead, Hannah Takes the Stairs and Greenberg before transitioning into indie cinema as a film-maker with Lady Bird, Gerwig became a household name with this year’s $1.4bn-grossing, conservative-baiting, slyly subversive comedy fantasy Barbie, a movie that will be remembered as the most topically adroit cinematic event of 2023, despite ostensibly being about a child’s plastic toy.
So what on earth might Gerwig do with Aslan, Eustace Grubb and Mr Tumnus the faun? Gerwig is down to make at least two from Lewis’s seven-book series for Netflix, and the streamer’s chairman Scott Stuber hinted to Variety this week that the films might be more traditional than we might think. “She grew up in a Christian background,” Stuber said. “The CS Lewis books are very much based in Christianity. And so we just started talking about it. We don’t have IP, so when we had the opportunity [to license] those books or the [Roald Dahl stories] we’ve jumped at it, to have stories that people recognise and the ability to tell those stories.” Stuber said Gerwig was currently working out the “narrative arc” of the films, but implied heavily that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would be a central focus.
This is pretty much expected, but the idea that Gerwig might zero in on the traditional religious imagery, when she’s known for a movie that went against the grain with such impish if warm-hearted attitude, is less predictable….
[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Ruth Sachter, Lise Andreasen, Dann, Steven French, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]
After an entire decade of not playing the role of the Doctor, David Tennantis back in Doctor Who, the classic BBCshow about an alien who travels across time and space in a blue police box called the TARDIS. A new behind-the-scenes featurette released by the network shows how the team behind the series collaborated to film Tennant’s return to the titular role. Since a different crew was in charge of filming Jodie Whittaker‘s departure from the story, the team working with Tennant had to coordinate with the footage that had already been shot…
(2) 2023 WSFS BUSINESS MEETING VIDEOS. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] The video from the 2023 WSFS Business Meeting is now uploaded to YouTube.
The room was under-lit. I tried to compensate in the camera settings and in post-production, but the videos still came out darker than I would have liked.
The meeting was conducted in English and Chinese, with simultaneous translation through headsets. There was no mechanism for combining those translation feeds with this video.
There was CART transcription in both English and Chinese, but it was computer generated and computer translated, which means it was not all that accurate. In some cases, we tried to swing the camera around to pick up the approximate English translation, but we did not manage to do so in all cases, especially when I wasn’t operating the camera, which I was unable to do when I was presiding over the meeting as the deputy presiding officer.
These videos are CC-attribution licensed, so if anyone wants to create translations, they are welcomed to give it a try as long as they apply the same CC licensing.
(3) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]
I seemed to meet with non-Anglophone writers whilst at Chengdu. This was because the hotels were separated.
Guests stayed in separate hotels. One was the Sheraton which was close to the Chengdu Science (SF) Museum, and the other was the Wyndham, which was 30 mins from the venue.
The WSFS committee, exhibitors, foreign nominees, members from the USA and UK, and elderly visitors stayed in the first one, whereas others stayed at the latter.
[At the latter] I met many Chinese people, and writers from Asia, Europe, South America and other regions.
Note: Chinese laws require hotels to register foreign guests with the authorities, and a number of smaller locations won’t accept such guests, not through xenophobia (probably), but because they don’t have the systems or trained staff to handle the bureaucratic aspects. I don’t think that’s too relevant here – I assume all of the hotels associated with the con would be set up to handle foreigners – but may be a partial explanation as to why the con organizers were so involved in accommodation for invited attendees, to avoid potential bad press if attendees were turned away from a hotel.
Me and West China Metropolis Daily reporter Zhang Jie chatted very happily. This passage really basically sums up my main feelings about attending the Worldcon this time. Of course, the “multi-layered” conference is bound to have various conflicts, contradictions, and inconsistencies. I also heard and experienced a lot. The main problem is that the needs of science fiction fans are not a high priority, which lead to some misplaced expectations and reality. Anyway, we thank Chengdu for hosting this event! Looking forward to the next meeting.
Photos from the other SF con that took place in Chengdu last weekend
(Via SF Light Year/Adaoli) I think these are the events that took place at the Sheraton, rather than the SF museum, under the banner of the 6th China (Chengdu) International SF Convention, that was originally scheduled for 2021, but got cancelled due to COVID. (If you remember the item last month about a bean paste tie-in, it was technically connected to this event, rather than the Worldcon proper.)
An Oxford pub that was frequented by authors CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien has been bought by a research institution building a campus in the city.
The Ellison Institute of Technology (EIT), founded by US tech billionaire Larry Ellison, said it had bought the Eagle and Child, which shut in 2020.
The pub in St Giles’ dates back to 1650 and has a plaque inside commemorating the writers’ get-togethers.
EIT said it would “refurbish and reopen the iconic venue”….
…. The company’s founding director and CEO, Dr David Agus, said: “The Eagle and Child pub is a truly historic venue that has hosted some of the greatest minds Oxford has had to offer for over 300 years.
“We are humbled and proud to be able to safeguard this treasured pub’s future and continue its legacy as a place for brilliant people to come together, including for our Ellison scholars.”
(6) FIVE BY FIVE. Charlie Jane Anders names “Five sci-fi and fantasy novels to read now” in the Washington Post. Thanks to a gift link you can read it there. Authors of these books are Cassandra Clare, Samit Basu, micha cárdenas, B. Pladek and Alix E. Harrow.
One theme animates many recent science fiction and fantasy books: What happens when an outsider enters the corridors of power? Not every orphan with special powers ends up saving the world. The heroes of these new books make their way into rarefied circles and encounter the snares of politics. In the process, they give us new insights into what happens when an ordinary person rises to greatness….
This time around my guest is Michael Marano, winner of both the Bram Stoker Award and the International Horror Guild Award for Best First Novel for Dawn Song, published by Tor Books in 1998. His short fiction has appeared in the anthologies Outsiders: 22 All New Stories from the Edge, Dark Fusions: Where Monsters Lurk, The Outer Limits, Volume Two, Peter S. Beagle’s Immortal Unicorn, and others. His novella “Displacement” was nominated for a 2011 Shirley Jackson Award. Some of his short fiction has been gathered in the collection Stories from the Plague Years from Cemetery Dance Publications.
Michael’s also a journalist who went on many junkets for me back when I edited science fiction media magazines. His non-fiction has appeared in alternative newspapers such as The Independent Weekly, The Boston Phoenix, and The Weekly Dig, plus his column “MediaDrome” has been a popular feature in Cemetery Dance magazine since 2001. He’s a writing teacher as well, which you’ll hear all about in this episode. Plus, he’s an aerialist who’s done performances inspired by a variety of science fiction greats. That’s an art form I’ve never had the chance to discuss before, so that’s where our conversation began.
We discussed how his love of science fiction storytelling led him to explore wrestling and roller derby, the lessons we each learned from our early rejections, his preference for old school Dungeons & Dragons, how his crush on Linda Blair affected his first celebrity interview, whether writers ever really retire regardless of what they claim, what his career as a film critic taught him about the possible arc of his fiction writing career, and much, much more.
Known as the pope’s astronomer, Vatican Observatory director and author Brother Guy Consolmagno considered how the art of storytelling can illuminate both astronomy and religious faith. Friends of the North Hollywood Library in Los Angeles hosted this program.
(9) MEMORY LANE.
2007 — [Written by Cat Eldridge from a suggestion by Mike Glyer.]
Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is the source of our Beginning for this Autumnal Scroll. But let’s talk about the writer now.
I first encountered him by way of his Summerland novel, possibly the best fantasy ever written about baseball. It won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature though I think that it is a book for individuals of all ages.
From there I then moved unto The Gentlemen of the Road which is genre by virtue of being alternate history. The only long work that I’ve not read by him that I probably should is The Final Solution: A Story of Detection, a Sherlock Holmes novella or short novel depending on your viewpoint. Anyone here that has read it?
Yes, I’m skipping a lot of his work here obviously including being a scriptwriter for genre series and films as that’d take more space here than is really warranted. Do feel free to take me to task for what I should’ve mentioned here that I didn’t.
And that brings me to The Yiddish Policemen’s Union which had its first English language publication by HarperCollins sixteen years ago. It actually had its first publication in Dutch as De Jiddische politiebond on Manteau previously the same year
It would win a Hugo at Devention 3 along with a Nebula and a Sidewise, very impressive indeed.
See no spoilers? Now here’s the Beginning…
Nine months Landsman’s been flopping at the Hotel Zamenhof without any of his fellow residents managing to get themselves murdered. Now somebody has put a bullet in the brain of the occupant of 208, a yid who was calling himself Emanuel Lasker.
“He didn’t answer the phone, he wouldn’t open his door,” says Tenenboym the night manager when he comes to roust Landsman. Landsman lives in 505, with a view of the neon sign on the hotel across Max Nordau Street. That one is called the Blackpool, a word that figures in Landsman’s nightmares. “I had to let myself into his room.”
The night manager is a former U.S. Marine who kicked a heroin habit of his own back in the sixties, after coming home from the shambles of the Cuban war. He takes a motherly interest in the userpopulation of the Zamenhof. He extends credit to them and sees that they are left alone when that is what they need.
“Did you touch anything in the room?” Landsman says.
Tenenboym says, “Only the cash and jewelry.”
Landsman puts on his trousers and shoes and hitches up his suspenders. Then he and Tenenboym turn to look at the doorknob, where a necktie hangs, red with a fat maroon stripe, already knotted to save time. Landsman has eight hours to go until his next shift. Eight rat hours, sucking at his bottle, in his glass tank lined with wood shavings. Landsman sighs and goes for the tie. He slides it over his head and pushes up the knot to his collar. He puts on his jacket, feels for the wallet and shield in the breast pocket, pats the sholem he wears in a holster under his arm, a chopped Smith & Wesson Model 39.
“I hate to wake you, Detective,” Tenenboym says. “Only I noticed that you don’t really sleep.”
“I sleep,” Landsman says. He picks up the shot glass that he is currently dating, a souvenir of the World’s Fair of 1977. “It’s just I do it in my underpants and shirt.” He lifts the glass and toasts the thirty years gone since the Sitka World’s Fair. A pinnacle of Jewish civilization in the north, people say, and who is he to argue? Meyer Landsman was fourteen that summer, and just discovering the glories of Jewish women, for whom 1977 must have been some kind of a pinnacle. “Sitting up in a chair.” He drains the glass. “Wearing a sholem.”
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 25, 1939 — Fred Marcellino. Among all our writers this time, we have an illustrator. And what an illustrator he was. He did the Antheum cover of McCaffrey’s Dragonsong and several other Pern covers as well, along with Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale, Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory and Rat Bradbury’s Death Is A Lonely Business to name but a few of the covers that he’s illustrated. (Died 2001.)
Born October 25, 1940 — Janet Fox. Author whose stories appeared in countless genre zines and anthologies between the Seventies and mid-Nineties. Her long fiction, mostly the Scorpio Rising series, was done as Alex McDonough. She’s also known for the Scavenger’s Newsletter which featured a number of noted writers during its long including Linda Sherman, Jeff VanderMeer and Jim Lee. (Died 2009.)
Born October 25, 1963 — John Gregory Betancourt, 60. Writer best known most likely for his work In Zelazny’s Amber universe but who has written quite a bit of other franchise fiction including works in the Star Trek, Hercules, Robert Silverberg’s Time Tours, Dr. Bones and The New Adventures of Superman. Most of his original fiction was early in his career. He’s also edited in a number of magazines including Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror, Adventure Tales and Cat Tales. He even co-edited with Anne McCaffrey, Serve It Forth: Cooking with Anne McCaffrey. His Wildpress Press has been nominated three times for World Fantasy Awards.
Born October 25, 1969 — Cecil Castellucci, 54. Canadian rock musician who performs under the name of Cecil Seaskull. I’m giving her a Birthday shout-out for two very different works, the first being The Year of the Beasts co-written with Nate Powell which used the Medusa myth as its story basis, and Tin Star, a romance tinged space opera set on a remote space station. All of work is YA in nature.
Born October 25, 1971 — Marko Kloos, 52. Author of two MilSF series, Frontlines and The Palladium Wards. His Lines of Departure was nominated for Hugo Award for Best Novel at Sasquan on a slate organized by the Sad Puppies. In reaction to this, Kloos withdrew the novel from consideration for the award. He was subsequently honored by George R. R. Martin for this decision. And that gets him Birthday Honors. Four of his books have been Dragon Awards nominees in the Best Military SF or Fantasy category.
Born October 25, 1971 — Elif Safak, 52. Turkish writer of three genre novels, one written originally in Turkish (Mahrem), The Gaze in its English translation, and two written in English, The Architect’s Apprentice (which was translated into Turkish as Ustam ve Ben) and 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World.
Born October 25, 1979 — Kristian Bruun, 44. Canadian actor best known for his long-running role as Donnie Hendrix on the Hugo- and Emmy-winning SF drama Orphan Black, where he was one of the main sources of (usually dark) comic relief. He also starred in the SF Rom-Com Red Rover opposite The Expanse regular Cara Gee, had minor recurring roles in A Handmaid’s Tale and Snowpiercer, and appeared in the Inuit SF film Slash/Back, among other genre roles. (Xtifr.)
Publisher Penguin Random House has launched a new writing award in the US celebrating freedom of expression in response to a rise in book bans across the country.
The Freedom of Expression award invites applicants to write about one banned book that changed their life and why. The $10,000 (£8,168) prize will be awarded to a high-school student planning to attend university in 2024.
“In the midst of censorship efforts, it’s crucial that we protect and celebrate freedom of expression, especially for young people whose voices we need and want to lift up now more than ever,” said Claire von Schilling, director of corporate communications and social responsibility at Penguin Random House.
Book bans in US public schools increased by 33% over the last school year according to a September report by Pen America. It found that the authors whose books were targeted were most frequently women, people of colour and LGBTQ+ individuals.
Some of the books banned in more than 20 districts include The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas, Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. This report followed an American Library Association study which found that attempts to censor materials in school, academic and public libraries reached a record high in the first eight months of 2023….
The entire collection of Geoffrey Chaucer’s works held by the British Library is being made available in digital format after the completion of a two and a half year project to upload 25,000 images of the often elaborately illustrated medieval manuscripts.
In a “major milestone” for the library, which holds the world’s largest surviving collection of Chaucer, it is hoped the digital platform will enable new research into the 14th-century poet, courtier, soldier, diplomat, and MP who is most famous for his Middle English epic, The Canterbury Tales.
Chaucer, who died in about 1400, was proclaimed by his contemporary poet Thomas Hoccleve as the “firste fyndere of our fair language” and is widely regarded as the father of English poetry. He was, in essence, the first poet laureate, being rewarded by Edward III with a gallon of wine daily for an unspecified task, thought to be for poetic work or works. He was also the first to be buried in what became Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.
The British Library holds more than 60 items related to his works and life, and has now digitised them all….
Mystery Science Theater 3000, the little puppet-based movie commentary show that could, turns 35 this year (not counting the KTMA years), and The Mads are preparing another round of underseen crappy movies for our heroes to laugh at. But, aside from Tom Servo’s inevitable but unannounced presidential campaign next year, the Gigzmoplex has more surprises in store.
Earlier today, host and creator Joel Hodgson announced that financing for season 14 has begun. As anyone clicking on an article about MST3K knows by now, the show is a crowdfunded endeavor these days, a business decision that has paid dividends for MSTies. Following two revival seasons on Netflix, Mystery Science Theater took its future into its own hands and launched the Gizmoplex, an online viewing and community hub that hosted the crowdfunded season 13, which raised a staggering $6.5 million. What can we say? People really like Crow….
(15) IT’S LIFE JIM. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] 30 years ago research was published that a space probe detected life on a planet and there were also the signs of a technological civilization!
The journal Nature has just looked back on this groundbreaking experiment in an editorial and also an essay.
One of the researchers’ lead scientists was the legendary Carl Sagan, and the space probe that detected the life and techno-signs was NASA’s 1989-launched Galileo that, having been taken into Earth orbit by the space shuttle Challenger, was heading off to Jupiter. However, to get there it would need gravitational assists from both Venus and the Earth to acrue the necessary velocity to get to Jupiter in 1995.
As it was getting its gravitational assists from the Solar system’s inner planets, it passed 960 kilometres of Earth and Carl Sagan convinced NASA to use the probe’s instruments to look for signs of life on Earth.
The probe detected both methane and oxygen in the Earth’s atmospheres, a chemical mix that was in disequilibrium due to life. It also detected, in the red part of the spectrum, absorption characteristics of oxygenic photosynthesis. Finally, it detected modulated radio signals.
The reason this research is worth remembering today is that though 30 years ago no exoplanet had yet been discovered; today we have over 5,500 and counting. Today, we are also about to get data from the James Webb Space Telescope on the atmospheric composition of some of these exoplanets and it may be one of more exhibits disequilibrium.
As Nature notes, at the time the journal’s editors were in two minds as to whether to publish Sagan’s research – after all, we already knew that there was life on Earth. However, as a proof-of-capability and as a controlled experiment, the Sagan team’s work underpins that which will inform the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope data.
[Thanks to Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Mark Roth-Whitworth, Lise Andreasen, Kevin Standlee, Jennifer Hawthorne, Steven French, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) LUKYANENKO NOT AT WORLDCON. There’s no sign of the Chengdu Worldcon’s Russian GoH Sergey Lukyanenko in social media coverage of the con. And the latest posts to his blog on his official website (devoted to anti-Israel remarks, and a report that his wife rescued a migrating woodcock in the backyard) suggest he’s at home. Although he made two other professional visits to the Far East earlier in 2023 he hasn’t mentioned Chengdu on his blog this year.
(2) 2023 HUGO BASE. This year’s Hugo base was debuted at the Chengdu Worldcon Opening Ceremonies by Hugo Administrator Dave McCarty. Here’s a screencap from the video. There are much better closeup photos of the base at his Facebook page.
(3) CHENGDU WORLDCON SOUVENIR BOOK. The “Member Guidebook” Member Guidebook for 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention has been released. It’s a publicly available download here (PDF).
The member guidebook for the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention is available online. The guidebook consists of the welcome message from the co-chairs, an introduction to the main venue, notes for participants, an introduction to theme activities, a brief introduction of Chengdu, and an appendix.
(4) UYGHURS REMEMBERED. Andrew Gillsmith moderated a pre-Worldcon panel for the “World Uyghur Congress” which can be viewed on X.
(5) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]
Unofficial (?) Bilibili video of the opening ceremony
This seems to have been ripped from the stream, as it has a jump near the start where the video froze for me and others and audio glitches later on. It is mostly in Chinese.
I don’t think that opening ceremony video is complete; there was a section at the end where a bunch of the VIPs came up on stage to declare the con open. Most of that is in this 2-minute video, but it also has bits chopped out for some reason.
Donald Eastlake, Kevin Standlee, Chris M. Barkley and Nicholas Whyte are amongst several Western fandom figures pictured in this Xiaohongshu photo gallery.
Longer fannish reports on Weibo
(Note: in the last couple of weeks or so, Weibo has added a “Translate content” link to posts, similar to what you get for foreign language tweets on Twitter. However, for long-form posts like these, it tends to time out, so you might instead want to use any translation tools built into browsers such as Chrome to read the following links.)
For those not keen on the more commercial or “mainstream” stuff in some of the prior links, Best Fan Writer and Fanzine finalist RiverFlow has a long Weibo post going over his activities today, which included meeting various fans and pros, and being on a panel about university SF societies.
SF Light Year aka Adaoli, who has commented here on File 770, has also posted some long reports on Weibo, such as this one.
English language promo video from Chengdu Museum
This 6-minute English language video is for the most part covers things that are more likely to appeal to general tourists, but is framed within a time-travel story featuring the Kormo mascot, and ends with the SF museum.
Xiaohongshu videos and photo galleries
As is to be expected with the con now underway, there are loads of these out there, and there’s a lot of repetition of material. These are a fairly arbitrary selection of the ones that showed up in search results:
Various panels, with a nice text summary of the poster’s impressions if you push it through browser translation tools
(6) LE GUIN VIDEOS. Available for viewing on Literary Hub, The Journey That Matters is a series of six short videos from Arwen Curry, the director and producer of Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, a Hugo Award-nominated 2018 feature documentary about the iconic author. Here are the fifth and sixth installments.
In the fifth of the series, Theo Downes-Le Guin introduces “Where I Write,” an intimate peek into Ursula’s study and her writing process.
…Recently I viewed an online video titled “I Tried Ursula K. Le Guin’s Writing Schedule,” one of many such links. The production was snappy and well-intentioned, but the writer-presenter lost me when she described preparation of a “fancy breakfast.” The fried egg, tomato, and rocket sandwich bore no resemblance to mornings in my childhood home. Note to content creators: if you geek out on someone’s routine, do your research. Ursula wrote an entire essay about how to properly soft-boil an egg. That’s what she ate for breakfast. Not fancy.
In the final installment of the series, Julie Phillips reflects on “He’s My First Reader,” in which Ursula and her husband, Charles, discuss how their division of household labor helped Ursula thrive.
…When Ursula Kroeber met and fell in love with Charles Le Guin, their meeting, on a ship bound for France, seemed to her almost magically improbable. “Obviously this sort of thing doesn’t happen,” she wrote him six weeks after they met. “I mean, conceivably you might exist, but you would never sit at Table 30 at 2nd sitting for dinner in tourist class on the Queen Mary on Sept 23rd 1953; I ask you, now would you?”
Charles felt the same, though he didn’t recognize true love quite as quickly as she. “I thought she was awfully snooty and shy the first meals; and she thought that I was British and very reserved. But after those first misapprehensions were displaced, we have scarcely been apart at all the last month,” he wrote his parents. “How do I tell you all this without it seeming silly or impossible? It is neither—not impossible because it has happened; not silly because it is too deep and too wonderful. Ursula and I are going to be married.”…
Lately I feel like everyone is talking about masculinity and what it means to be a good dude. The other day, I was on a panel at the Pride on the Page book festival with Jacob Tobia (Sissy) who was saying that we’ve spent decades expanding gender roles for women in mainstream society — women won the right to wear pants in the workplace (for now) — but meanwhile, most men remain trapped, unable to express healthy emotions or process all of their trauma.
As someone who was so successful at being a man that I actually graduated, I want to help!
So it’s a really good thing that science fiction and fantasy offer us so many excellent examples of guys who are secure in their masculinity and ready to do the right thing, even when it’s tough….
Take for example —
11) Henry Deacon (Eureka)
In a “town full of geniuses,” Henry Deacon might just be the smartest of them all — but when this underrated show begins, he’s working as a mechanic because he has ethical objections to the work that Global Dynamics is doing. Henry isn’t just the guy who steps in and fixes things when all the out-of-control science goes off the rails, he’s also the town’s moral center. (And eventually, he becomes its mayor.) Emmy-winning actor Joe Morton, who plays Henry, also plays a resourceful, kind alien refugee in the movie The Brother From Another Planet.
(8) LARA PARKER (1938-2023). Actress Lara Parker, age 28 when she was cast as Dark Shadows’ beautiful and evil witch Angelique Bouchard Collins, died October 12. She was 84. The Deadline tribute also mentions her writing career:
…In her later years, Parker turned to writing and teaching — her novels include Angelique’s Descent (1998), The Salem Branch (2006), Wolf Moon Rising (2013) and Heiress of Collinwood (2016). The books proved popular among Dark Shadows‘ still-devoted, conventions-attending fan base, as well as devotees of romance and horror genre novels.
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1992 — [Written by Cat Eldridge from a suggestion by Mike Glyer.]
So let’s talk about Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book which is where our Beginning is from this Scroll.
It’s a novel in her series about Oxford time-traveling historians, which consists of Fire Watch, Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, or How We Found the Bishop’s Bird Stump and Blackout/All Clear.
It was published thirty-one years ago by Bantam Spectra with the cover art being by Tim Jacobus.
The series has an extraordinary history when it comes to awards. Fire Watch started off with a Best Novelette Hugo at ConStellation, along with winning a Nebula and being nominated for Balrog. Next up was a BSFA nomination for this novel followed by a Hugo win (a tie with with Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep) at ConFrancisco and a Nebula as well as picking up Clarke and Mythopoeic nominations.
To Say Nothing of the Dog, or How We Found the Bishop’s Bird Stump at Last won a Hugo at Aussiecon Three and also picked a Nebula nomination too.
Blackout/All Clear got a Hugo at Renovation and Nebula, plus a Campbell Memorial nomination.
So now that we’ve got those out of the way, let’s turned to the Beginning….
Mr. Dunworthy opened the door to the laboratory and his spectacles promptly steamed up.
“Am I too late?” he said, yanking them off and squinting at Mary.
“Shut the door,” she said. “I can’t hear you over the sound of those ghastly carols.”
Dunworthy closed the door, but it didn’t completely shut out the sound of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” wafting in from the quad. “Am I too late?” he said again.
Mary shook her head. “All you’ve missed is Gilchrist’s speech.” She leaned back in her chair to let Dunworthy squeeze past her into the narrow observation area. She had taken off her coat and wool hat and set them on the only other chair, along with a large shopping bag full of parcels. Her gray hair was in disarray, as if she had tried to fluff it up after taking her hat off. “A very long speech about Mediaeval’s maiden voyage in time,” she said, “and the college of Brasenose taking its rightful place as the jewel in history’s crown. Is it still raining?”
“Yes,” he said, wiping his spectacles on his muffler. He hooked the wire rims over his ears and went up to the thin-glass partition to look at the net. In the center of the laboratory was a smashed-up wagon surrounded by overturned trunks and wooden boxes. Above them hung the protective shields of the net, draped like a gauzy parachute.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 18, 1917 — Reynold Brown. Artist responsible for many SF film posters. His first poster was Creature from the Black Lagoon with other notable ones being Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, I Was a Teenage Werewolf and Mothra vs. Godzilla. (Died 1991.)
Born October 18, 1925 — Walter Harris. He wrote a New Avengers novel, To Catch a Rat, and novelized Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Werewolf of London. ISFDB lists four more genre novels by him, The Mistress of Downing Street, The Day I Died, The Fifth Horseman and Salvia. (Died 2019.)
Born October 18, 1944 — Katherine Kurtz, 78. Known for the Deryni series which started with Deryni Rising in 1970, and the most recent, The King’s Deryni, the final volume of The Childe Morgan Trilogy, was published several years back. As medieval historical fantasy goes, they’re damn great.
Born October 18, 1951 — Jeff Schalles, 72. Minnesota area fan who’s making the Birthday Honors because he was the camera man for Cats Laughing’s A Long Time Gone: Reunion at Minicon 50concert DVD. Cats Laughing is a band deep in genre as you can read in the Green Man review here.
Born October 18, 1964 — Charles Stross, 59. I’ve read a lot of him down the years with I think his best being the rejiggered Merchant Princes series especially the recent Empire Games and Dark State novels. Other favored works include the early Laundry Files novels and both of the Halting State novels though the second makes me cringe.
Born October 18, 1965– Kristen Britain, 58. She is writing the Green Rider series of which Green Rider was nominated for the Crawford Award and Blackveil was nominated for the David Gemmell Legend Award. It’s now a dozen novels deep.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
The Far Side — This is mainly about Mrs. Frankenstein’s monster?
The final selections were Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall, both delightfully great… but I would still love to have seen Radner’s take on Ms. Oil, particularly playing opposite Robin Williams.
(13) DOWNLOAD VECTOR’S “CHINESE SF” ISSUE. The British Science Fiction Association opens issues of Vector to the public after about two years. The 2021 issue on Chinese SF is now available to download here.
‘ Vector 293 is a collaboration with guest editors Yen Ooi and Regina Kanyu Wang. Yen Ooi introduces the issue as well as many of its recurring concepts, such as techno-orientalism. Regina Kanyu Wang takes us through the history of women writing SF in China. Artist and curator Angela Chan interviews Beatrice Glow about her work with colonial histories and the ability of science fiction to ‘tell truthful histories and envision just futures together’ through art. The conversation about history, futures, science fiction and art continues in Dan Byrne-Smith’s interview with Gordon Cheung. Chinese SF scholars Mia Chen Ma, Frederike Schneider-Vielsäcker and Mengtian Sun offer glimpses of their recent and ongoing research. Authors Maggie Shen King (An Excess Male) and Chen Qiufan (Waste Tide) interview each other about their recent novels. Feng Zhang introduces us to the SF fandom in China, while Regina Kanuy Wang brings us up to speed with accelerating Chinese SF industry. Dev Agarwal questions the maturity of the Chinese SF blockbuster as can be judged from Shanghai Fortress and The Wandering Earth (both available on Netflix). Virginia L. Conn explores Sinofuturism, while Emily Xueni Jin delves into the implications of translating a growing body of SF work from Chinese into English. We learn about the global perspectives on Chinese SF from an illustrious panel assembled at WorldCon 2019, and about transnational speculative folklore of the Uyghur people from Sandra Unerman. Niall Harrison completes the issue with an illuminating survey of Chinese short SF in the 21st Century.’
(15) TRAILER PARK. Beacon 23 – a series coming on MGM+. The series, based on a book by Hugh Howey, is set to premiere its first two episodes on MGM+ on Sunday, November 12 at 9:00 p.m. EST/PST.
Aster (Lena Headey) and Halan (Stephan James) are drawn to Beacon 23 and face an onslaught of threats. When an object called The Artifact appears, they begin to unravel its mysteries, and develop a deep bond just in time to face a deadly AI.
A special device aboard the satellite called the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) imager took this view of the eclipse from space. According to NASA, the sensor gives scientists frequent views of the Earth. The moon’s shadow, or umbra, is falling across the southeastern coast of Texas, near Corpus Christi….
[Thanks to Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Lise Andreasen, Daniel Dern, Steven French, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter, for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
“She’s not a companion, she’s a wife!” Alex Kingston is quick to correct about her beloved Doctor Who character River Song.
And she’s completely right. River Song is unlike any other Doctor Who character, first introduced in 2008’s Silence in the Library and spanning multiple eras in one of the most complex and glorious timelines to ever grace the show.
“She’s the most incredible character to play, and certainly when the role was offered to me, I had obviously no idea of the journey that both she and I would be undertaking – because obviously in the very first Silence in the Library story, she dies,” Kingston exclusively tells RadioTimes.com….
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will let Texas’s controversial new book rating law, HB 900, take effect while an “expedited” appeals process plays out—despite a district court finding the law to be “a web of unconstitutionally vague requirements.”
But the appeals court also declined to lift an administrative stay placed on Albright’s order…
…Signed by Texas governor Greg Abbott on June 12, HB 900 requires book vendors, at their own expense, to review and rate books for sexual content under a vaguely articulated standard as a condition of doing business with Texas public schools. The law includes both the thousands of books previously sold to schools and any new books. Furthermore, the law gives the state the unchecked power to change the rating on any book, which vendors would then have to accept as their own or be barred from doing business with Texas public schools….
(3) WHERE, OH WHERE IS THE CHENGDU WORLDCON BUSINESS MEETING AGENDA? No link — with less than two weeks until the Chengdu Worldcon business meeting agenda still hasn’t been released.
People want the agenda posted so they can read what business is coming before the meeting and think about the inevitable assortment of proposed rules changes. The rule requiring the agenda to be available 30 days ahead of the meeting is so that the movers don’t have the advantage of being able to organize in favor while depriving potential opposition of the same advantage.
(4) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]
Some of the guests whose accommodation has been arranged by the con have been told they are staying in the “Chengdu Tianfu Hengbang Sheraton”. However, it seems that this is a direct translation of the Chinese name of the hotel near the con venue (成都恒邦天府喜来登酒店), but it actually uses a different English name “Sheraton Chengdu Pidu”. (Compare http://www.sheraton-chengdu.com/ to http://www.sheraton-chengdu.com/en?pc )
Thus when searching Google for the first name, people are getting results for a Sheraton in the Tianfu area, which is roughly the opposite side of Chengdu from the Pidu district where the con is actually taking place, which resulted in this.
Per Kevin’s comments on Mastodon, some people have been told that they’ll be staying at the “Sheraton Lidu Pidu”, which does seem to be a different hotel from either of the two previously mentioned.
Here’s a Xiaohongsu post from a week ago showing views of the con venue from the Sheraton Chengdu Pidu: http://xhslink.com/HINobv
This 90-second video posted by the GoChengdu Weibo account is a week old, but I only came across it today. Content-wise, it has only minimal connection to the Worldcon – it focuses more on the mid-Autumn festival that’s just gone by – but “stars” the Kormo con mascot.
…But by season two in 1987, by which time production of the show itself had moved from New York City to Los Angeles, any number of Pee-wee related products—toys, dolls, bed sheets, sweaters, pajamas, t-shirts, stickers, trading cards—were available for purchase. And like the Playhouse show itself, these products were chiefly designed by a group of young NYC artists under the direction of Gary Panter and Reubens himself. Cartoonists and illustrators working on Playhouse merchandise included Ric Heitzman, Mark Newgarden, Kaz, Charles Burns, J.D. King, Richard McGuire, Stephen Kroninger, Tomas Bunk, Norman Hathaway and others. When Reubens died of acute hypoxic respiratory failure on July 30th of this year, I reached out to a number of people involved in shaping the Pee-wee empire. In Part One of this series, I spoke with a number of artists who designed the visual aesthetic of the successful television program; in this second and final part, the focus will be on the many functional and ridiculous products created in its wake, including some that never made it to stores….
… The cartoonist Kaz, another frequent RAW contributor, was brought in early on.
“I can’t remember what came first for me, but I’d been visiting Gary Panter in his various studios around Brooklyn for quite a while,” Kaz said. “Seeing his paintings, sculptures and sketchbooks was always inspiring, and he was one of the sweetest guys and very generous with his time and ideas. I love the guy! So, at some point he asked me to help out with art on some of the Pee-wee licensing that was coming in hot and hard. I just aped his Pee-wee art style (which was not as easy as it looked). I did all the flat art on the inside of the Playhouse Playset. I did some art when they expanded the Pee-wee Colorforms set by adding two wings, thereby making it ‘Deluxe.’ A keen eye will see my cartoon character, Little Bastard, sitting on Pee-wee’s bed on that art.”
“In 1987, through Gary Panter and Mark Newgarden, I worked with Mark on the Topps Chewing Gum’s ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse Fun Pak’,” Kaz continued. “I remember going into Topps’ offices every day for a few weeks. At the time, Topps was in a grimy industrial waterfront neighborhood in Brooklyn that was not a good place to be after dark. Mark did the bulk of the writing and editing on the “Fun Pak” as well as drawing. I wrote and did a bunch of drawings (in the Panter style). There was a lot to do, so some of the art was freelanced out to other cartoonists. Trivia: I got my full Lithuanian first name [Kazimieras] on the back of one card!”…
Released in 2004 and created by J. J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof, Lost has become not only one of the most popular series of all time, but also a role model for many other shows. Its complicated and mysterious story, along with its constant reinvention and plots full of suspense, provided its viewers with a unique experience. Its unexpected twists and strange elements that appeared without any apparent explanation, turned it a legend.
The series follows the experiences of a group of survivors of a plane crash on what appears to be a deserted island. However, as they struggle to live with each other, it becomes apparent that the island is far from a safe place, and they are not the only ones inhabiting the place.
The pilot episode, directed by Abrams and filmed in Oahu, Hawaii, was at the time the most expensive in history, a title it held for a long time. For this reason, YouTuber and Lost fan kuhpunkt (who’s real name is Stefan Lensa) took the time to collect hours of video content about the making of the show’s pilot, transforming it into a six-part documentary titled 815, the number of the flight where the protagonists were traveling…
(7) NATO IN TIMES TO COME. In 2024, NATO will celebrate its 75th anniversary. The NATO Defence College asks writers, especially science fiction writers, for 1500 words on what NATO will look like in 2099. More details at the link. €500 if you are selected. “NATO 2099: A Graphic Novel”.
…Science fiction, while often discredited by dint of its creative and at times outrageous character, holds real added value for research purposes. Not only does science fiction influence the present by projecting inventions (i.e. headsets, mobile phones and tablets), science fiction can leverage the wisdom of the crowd effect: when several authors “see” a similar future, such a future becomes more likely. As such, science fiction has the power of making ideas acceptable. It can entertain a wider public, which under normal circumstances, might not entertain certain ideas, thereby broadening mindsets and fostering critical thinking. Of course, the precondition to this is that science fiction be not fantastical, but is rooted in evidence. (Hence the term FICINT, fictional intelligence.)
Harnessing these benefits, science fiction has been instrumentalized by military organizations in the United States and France to increase preparedness, train critical thinking, and even spot trends in technology and geopolitics. (For example, the idea of Russia attacking Ukraine appeared in Russian science fiction in the 1990s).
Your mission, should you accept it…
The year is 2099, NATO will be celebrating its 150th anniversary. For this reason, sci-fi and fictional intelligence authors are being asked to contribute about 1500 words on what this future might look like. Authors are asked to describe the end state, i.e. 2099, but are free to describe how we got there.
…The compilation of 32 written pieces will be transformed and published into a graphic novel or comic book that narrates a holistic story entitled, “NATO 2099”.
Michigan defendants accused of participating in a fake elector scheme will not have their charges dropped after the state attorney general said the group was “brainwashed” into believing former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election, a judge ruled Friday morning.
The decision comes after motions to dismiss charges were filed last week by two defendants, Clifford Frost and Mari-Ann Henry. The two defendants are part of a group of 16 Michigan Republicans who investigators say met following the 2020 election and signed a document falsely stating they were the state’s “duly elected and qualified electors.” Each of the 16 faces eight criminal charges, including multiple counts of forgery….
The dying coal town is the fictional setting of Alix E. Harrow’s “Starling House,” and the smog of fading power and bad luck is enough to suffocate its residents, most of whom live in abject poverty.
For Harrow, writing a book about Kentucky was a long time coming.
“This is the first book that I set fully in, like committed to writing about Kentucky,” Harrow says. “One of the reasons that I had found that difficult to do before is because I find it to be a place of very mixed experiences that I love very, very, very much, and which has just an incredible violence and terror to it.”…
…Navigating through this cosmic portrayal, Chris Hadfield, an astronaut with feet firmly planted in both scientific and storytelling worlds, lent his expert gaze to scrutinize a particularly grim depiction of death in the aforementioned series. Hadfield, experienced in the authentic silence of the cosmos, put under the microscope a scene from For All Mankind in a special breakdown for Vanity Fair, where an American astronaut fiercely ends a Soviet astronaut’s lunar expedition—with a gun.
But is the rendering of a bullet speeding through the weightlessness and silence of the moon’s environment precise? Hadfield nods in unsettling agreement.
What permeates this acknowledgment is the recognition of the horrifying reality of how gunfire operates in the vacuum of the moon. Unlike its earthly counterpart, a bullet on the moon, devoid of air and oxygen to disrupt its trajectory, travels with haunting precision, straighter and farther into the abyss. The portrayal of such a scenario in For All Mankind doesn’t simply draw from a well of imagined horrors, but rather bathes in a chilling accuracy that aligns with the physical realities of our universe.
Moreover, the aftermath of such a bullet puncturing a spacesuit, according to Hadfield, is equally petrifying and authentic. A spacesuit, cushioning its inhabitant with a hundred percent oxygen, can turn into an infernal chamber when breached. History has witnessed this, as Hadfield recalls an incident during a test at the Johnson Space Center, where even aluminum, veiled in flames, narrated the horrors of what could transpire inside a suit, albeit thankfully unoccupied by a human during the incident. Oxygen, the life-giving force, transforms into a silent executioner in the blink of an eye when exposed to a spark in such an environment….
Today is Francis Hamit’s Birthday. (Happy Birthday, Francis!) He also informs us that the Kickstarter for his forthcoming “genre experiment” novel – STARMEN – closes on October 10th. As his Birthday gift to all of our readers, he wants to make sure that you know that EVERYONE contributing to the project will be able to purchase the E-book edition of this 190,000-word epic for just one dollar ($1.00)….
“My mixed genre novel STARMEN is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to excerpts. It’s about 190,000 words long and incorporates alternative post Civil War history, quantum mechanics, Apache Indian myths and some rather nasty Aliens. It begins in 1875 El Paso, Texas at the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Some of the detectives are witches. So are some of the Apaches. There are also some romance elements. And politics.”
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 6, 1911 — Flann O’Brien. Irish novelist, playwright and satirist. He wrote three novels, At Swim-Two-Birds, The Dalkey Archive and The Third Policeman. Though The Dalkey Archive was published before The Third Policeman, it was written after that novel, so entire sections of The Third Policeman are recycled almost word for word in it, mostly the atomic theory and the character De Selby. (Died 1966.)
Born October 6, 1950 — David Brin, 73. Author of several series including Existence (which I do not recognize), the Postman novel, and the Uplift series which began with Startide Rising, a most excellent book and a Hugo-winner at L.A. Con II. I’ll admit that the book he co-wrote with Leah Wilson, King Kong Is Back! An Unauthorized Look at One Humongous Ape, tickles me to no end if only for its title. So who’s read Castaways of New Mohave, that he wrote with Jeff Carlson?
Born October 6, 1952 — Lorna Toolis. Librarian, editor, and fan Lorna was the long-time head of the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy at the Toronto Public Library and a significant influence on the Canadian SF community. She founded the SF collection with a donation from Judith Merril. She was a founding member of SFCanada, and won an Aurora Award for co-editing Tesseracts 4 with Michael Skeet. (Died 2021.)
Born October 6, 1955 — Donna White, 68. Academic who has written several works worth you knowing about — Dancing with Dragons: Ursula K. LeGuin and the Critics and Diana Wynne Jones: An Exciting and Exacting Wisdom. She’s also the author of the densely-written but worth reading A Century of Welsh Myth in Children’s Literature.
Born October 6, 1955 — Ellen Kushner, 68. If you’ve not read it, do so now, as her sprawling Riverside series is stellar. And there’s cups of hot chocolate. I’ve read all of it. And during the High Holy Days, do be sure to read The Golden Dreydl as it’s quite wonderful. As it’s Autumn and this being when I read it, I’d be remiss not to recommend her Thomas the Rhymer novel which won both the World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic Award.
Born October 6, 1967 — Joshua Glenn, 56. Publisher who re-issued a lot of the scientific romances from the beginning of last century like J D Beresford’s Goslings, The Edward Shanks’ People of the Runs and E V Odle’s The Clockwork Man. He’s edited two anthologies, Voices from the Radium Age and More Voices from the Radium Age.
About 400 kilometers above the Earth, the International Space Station orbits at 28,000 kilometers an hour. It’s the single largest structure humans have ever put in space and a football-field-size symbol of diplomatic cooperation.
Built over a decade with U.S. and Russian spacecraft, the station has been continuously occupied by an international crew since November 2000. The station isn’t owned by any one nation, but rather operates as a partnership among five space agencies — the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA; the Russian State Space Corporation “Roscosmos”; the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA); the European Space Agency; and the Canadian Space Agency. There are regular crew handovers whereby some astronauts leave and new ones come aboard. Two hundred seventy-three astronauts from 21 countries have worked on the station….
In the popular 1960s television show Star Trek, the starship Enterprise crew members depend on handheld tricorders. The devices seem to magically detect everything from unknown life forms to the nature of a crew member’s illness.
While the TV version seems fantastical, a real — if nascent — tricorder has been developed on the International Space Station. What’s more, the research that built it is already supporting human health here on Earth.
The impetus was NASA’s efforts to sequence DNA. Scientists aimed to simplify the multistep DNA sequencing process so that one device on the space station could handle it, working to move the tricorder from the realm of science fiction to real life.
Today NASA is looking at hand-held devices made by a U.S. company and a U.K.-based company that can amplify and sequence DNA. The devices identify microbes — bacteria, viruses, fungi and other organisms too small to be seen with the naked eye — growing throughout the International Space Station. The crew can monitor what microbes are on board, how the space environment shapes microbial behavior, and how that might affect astronaut health during long missions to the Moon or Mars.
Crew members gather microbes to sequence by rubbing swabs around the space station’s interior. They then process the genetic material by inserting the swabs into a hand-held device called a miniPCR, which makes copies of a targeted microbial DNA sequence. The copies are fed into another hand-held device called the MinION, which sequences the DNA.
China plans to expand its space station to six modules from three in coming years, offering astronauts from other nations an alternative platform for near-Earth missions as the NASA-led International Space Station (ISS) nears the end of its lifespan.
The operational lifetime of the Chinese space station will be more than 15 years, the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), a unit of China’s main space contractor, said at the 74th International Astronautical Congress in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Wednesday….
… China’s self-built space station, also known as Tiangong, or Celestial Palace in Chinese, has been fully operational since late 2022, hosting a maximum of three astronauts at an orbital altitude of up to 450 km (280 miles).
At 180 metric tons after its expansion to six modules, Tiangong is still just 40% of the mass of the ISS, which can hold a crew of seven astronauts. But the ISS, in orbit for more than two decades, is expected to be decommissioned after 2030, about the same time China has said it expects to become “a major space power”.
Chinese state media said last year as Tiangong became fully operational that China would be no “slouch” as the ISS headed toward retirement, adding that “several countries” had asked to send their astronauts to the Chinese station.
But in a blow to China’s aspirations for space diplomacy, the European Space Agency (ESA) said this year it did not have the budgetary or “political” green light to participate in Tiangong, shelving a years-long plan for a visit by European astronauts.
“Giving up cooperation with China in the manned space domain is clearly short-sighted, which reveals that the U.S.-led camp confrontation has led to a new space race,” the Global Times, a nationalist Chinese tabloid, wrote at the time.
Tiangong has become an emblem of China’s growing clout and confidence in its space endeavours, and a challenger to the United States in the domain after being isolated from the ISS. It is banned by U.S. law from any collaboration, direct or indirect, with NASA….
Imagination is touted as a gift for artists or a vital skill for visionary thinkers and scientists. But what do we mean by the term “imagination,” and what has science revealed about the diversity of ways it shows itself in human minds?
In a conversation with Stephen T. Asma, philosopher and author of The Evolution of Imagination, Erik Viirre and Cassandra Vieten will explore the history of our understanding of imagination, how science has attempted to advance our understanding of it, and what is at stake for the future of imagination studies and the pathways it may open to advancing the imagination’s power for transformative change.
This event will take place at the Great Hall at UC San Diego and is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided. RSVP required.
A small group of people huddled around Mirror Lake on Ohio State University’s campus on a September evening. Their black attire matched the night sky that stretched over the splashing fountain.
Nick Post stood at the center of the group. He leaned in as he told a ghost story about the so-called ‘Lady of the Lake.’
“On cold wintry nights she can sometimes be seen skating across the ice, warming her hands and wearing outdated clothing,” Post said. “Some reports say she wears white, others say she wears pink. But none have gotten close enough to see her face.”
This is just one of many apparitions that supposedly stalk OSU’s dorms and classrooms at night. Its these legends that brought ten members of the Ghost Hunting Gays of Ohio, the state’s newest paranormal investigators, to campus on a Sunday night….
…“I’ve always been obsessed with ghost-hunting shows and all of that good stuff, so I was like, what if we just go check out some haunted places?” he said.
Post said looking to the supernatural was only natural for him, and he thinks that’s true for a lot of queer people. He said the paranormal holds a special appeal to many in the gay community.
“When you are misunderstood your entire life, it intrigues you to understand other things that are misunderstood,” Post said….
When the latest round of publishing industry buyouts and layoffs were announced in mid-July, I was surprised to see a few friends and acquaintances on the hit list. Buyouts are the humane way to let go of employees, and some can be generous. But while many buyouts come at the end of careers, layoffs can particularly sting while in mid-stride.
At Penguin Random House, the biggest book publisher in the United States, veteran editors who have worked with many of the biggest authors in fiction and nonfiction are leaving the company. It is a changing of the guard. The New York Times reported that Penguin Random House lost both its global and U.S. chief executives in the past seven months alone.
Until this latest upheaval, 58 year old Paul Buckley was the longest serving (34 years) design director of Penguin Books. His layoff was a shock to those, like me, who greatly admired his work. If he of all people is this vulnerable, what about others who are not yet ready to take retirement?
Buckley leaves behind an incredible legacy of iconic, smart, clever and damn beautiful work. So upon hearing the sad news, I asked him to select 10 projects out of the thousands he’s created for Penguin that give him the most pride. It’s better to see and read about them now than in a later postmortem/historical reprise….
“All particles known to science fall into one of two categories: bosons or fermions. While bosons cluster in the same quantum state, fermions obey the Pauli exclusion principle, meaning no two fermions can share the same state. This doesn’t matter much at room temperature when particles are flying about at high speeds. Cool those particles down to just shy of absolute zero, though, and the difference becomes vast: the bosons pile into the lowest available energy state, while fermions stack on top of each other in a “ladder” of states. At such low temperatures, a collection of fermions will thus have much more energy than a collection of bosons.”
Until recently that energy difference couldn’t be accessed but in the early 2000s a way was found to form bosons molecules from fermionic atoms which means you could switch from one form of statistics to another. Now researchers have used this to construct a ‘proof-of-principle’ quantum Pauli engine which offers an entirely different way of charging quantum batteries and powering quantum computers.
That may be some years off yet but this is still very cool!
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Nicholas Whyte, JeffWarner, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) BAFTA TV AWARDS. The genre cupboard was practically bare when the winners of the BAFTA TV Awards 2023 were revealed tonight. “Memorable Moment” — the only publicly-voted category – proved the exception, won by “’Platinum Jubilee – Party at the Palace’ – Paddington meets Queen Elizabeth II”.
…Ben Whishaw was a part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Paddington Bear skit – as the voice of Paddington – which won an 2023 BAFTA TV award for most memorable moment, the only prize voted on by the public. The skit beat out Nick and Charlie’s first kiss in “Heartstopper” and the “Running Up That Hill” moment in “Stranger Things,” among other nominees…
“I just love getting out of the palace and enjoying the peace and quiet of the Eternian wilderness in springtime. And the Road Ripper really packs a punch. Too bad it’s only a one-seater, so I can’t take Cringer along. Or Teela…”
“Still, nothing beats racing across the plains of Eternia. No Prince Adam, no royal duties, no He-Man, just me and the unspoiled wilderness and… – Oh, raptor crossing!”
In March, the literary festival asked the public to submit their favourite fiction from any of the 37 countries that take part in the music competition each year. Suggestions could be of any genre and language but they had to have been published in the years since Eurovision began in 1956.
The final selection of one book from each country was chosen by an expert panel, who were aiming to come up with “an ambitious reading list” of books that will “inspire, examine and entertain”.
This also illustrates IMO the issue with that contest. The Perfume was released in 1985, i.e. it’s almost forty years old. The Irish contestant Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes came out in 1998. That Georgian contestant is a novel written in German by a Georgian expat. Two finalists are graphic novels. The selection is just weird.
(4) A CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT. Connie Willis shared her delight in Charles’ coronation with Facebook readers.
“What is the finest sight in the world? A Coronation. What do people talk most about? A Coronation. What is delightful to have passed? A Coronation.” — Horace Walpole
Saturday I got up early to watch Charles III’s coronation. It was the second one I’d seen. The first was Elizabeth II’s which I watched seventy years ago on someone else’s TV because we didn’t own one yet. It was an impossibly grainy image on a tiny screen of a Cinderella-looking carriage drawn by four horses. I was only seven years old, but I have a vivid memory of it, probably because I was so fascinated by fairy tales and princesses and queens and golden coaches made out of pumpkins.
This time my husband and I watched it in color on a much larger screen while talking on the phone to our daughter in California the whole time as she kept us updated with texts from her friends and comments on Tumblr. Now, seventy years later, I am no longer all that fascinated by princess and carriages, but I am fascinated by history, and in terms of historical events, a coronation simply can’t be beat….
…But let’s talk about the more specific ways companies plan to rip off writers with “A.I.” as the excuse.
A strong hint can be found in the current Writers Guild of America strike. A key sticking point is the use of A.I. writing. The writers aren’t asking for Hollywood to ban the use of A.I., rather they are asking that A.I writing not count as “literary material” or “source material.” This is technical Hollywood language related to the realities of how contracts work and how much money writers get. With the hard realities of capitalism and how corporations look to rip off writers.
The concern isn’t that ChatGPT can replace writers, but that studios will get chatbots to produce a crappy script then hire a writer at a lower rate to fix up the script into something usable. Fixing up a mess of ChatGPT vomit could take more work than writing a script from scratch, but cost the corporation less money.
I think this fear is completely justified and one that writers everywhere should take note of. Will websites and magazines start hiring writers or editors to “fix” chatbot outputs for less pay and no credit? Will book publishers decide they can feed an idea into ChatGPT then hire a novelist as a ghostwriter to rewrite it?
Again, the chatbots don’t have to produce good or even usable writing for this to be a threat. The threat is A.I being an excuse to rip off writers. If you hire a screenwriter to rewrite a chatbot script, you can pay them less. If you hire an author to rewrite a chatbot draft, you can avoid royalties. Etc ….
…Season 2 is set more than a century after the finale of the first season, “tension mounts throughout the galaxy in Foundation season two. As the Cleons unravel, a vengeful queen plots to destroy Empire from within. Hari, Gaal, and Salvor discover a colony of Mentalics with psionic abilities that threaten to alter psychohistory itself. The Foundation has entered its religious phase, promulgating the Church of Seldon throughout the Outer Reach and inciting the Second Crisis: war with Empire. Foundation chronicles the stories of four crucial individuals transcending space and time as they overcome deadly crises, shifting loyalties, and complicated relationships that will ultimately determine the fate of humanity.”…
(7) TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS AND WORKING OVERTIME. New Amazing Stories editor Lloyd Penney has been interviewed by Angelique Fawns for The Horror Tree, a website for horror writers and markets.
AF: What personal projects are you working on? What do you do in your spare time?
LP: Spare time? What is this ‘spare time’ you speak of? These days, I go into a publications office in Toronto’s east end twice a week to do the proofreader/copyeditor thing for one print magazine and two e-magazines. Then, I am the occasional editor for a British author’s long-time series of books, D.J. Holmes and his Empire Rising series of space adventures. And, for the past 40 years, I have been a regular correspondent and writer in the Letters Column for a long series of fannish publications, fanzines. I try my best to juggle all of this, and I hope not to drop anything. I have been an editor/copyeditor/proofreader for most of my working life, and I have always been an SF reader, so this is the first time I’ve been able to combine the two, and I have tried my best to run with it. I was told it should be fun, and it has been.
“A long time ago I read a quotation in a book of advice, which held that the hardest thing about being a writer is convincing your spouse that looking out of the window is part of your job. I have never been able to track down the exact wording or the author of that quotation; when I look online the only source I can find for it is me, because I cite it so regularly. This is perhaps fitting, since my wife thinks I made it up.”
…You might have guessed by now that in “Walking Distance,” Serling was telling his own story. He was 35 when the episode appeared, and he had come a long way from a charmed boyhood in Binghamton, New York. Like Martin Sloan, he had good reason to be tired, and good reason, despite his considerable success, to want to go home again. As his success grew, that desire would grow stronger, too.
It’s easy to forget now that television was once regarded as a creative nullity, good only for selling product. In the medium’s early decades, the programming was mostly quiz shows, Westerns, and police procedurals. Corporate sponsors had considerable creative control, and in tone and style, the industry was not unlike Madison Avenue, slick and a bit shameless. At the same time, because the medium was so new, conventions hadn’t yet hardened, and barriers to entry were lower, especially for writers. Serling, with his early work for two important live series, Kraft Television Theatre and Playhouse 90, became one of a handful of creators pushing television forward. Even so, he accepted that it was a second-rate form, inherently inferior to theater and film. Interviewed by Mike Wallace in 1959, shortly before The Twilight Zone debuted, Serling argued that he was writing “serious, adult” scripts, but he didn’t claim the privileges of an artist. “I’m a dramatist for television,” he said, by way of apology. “This is the medium I know.”
By then, Serling was the most recognizable writer in the country. The face he showed to the public was an appealing one, and very much an American face—principled but modest, industrious, courageous. Beneath that there was a different man: vain, self-indulgent, needy. And underneath that there was a sensitive artist, and a traumatized war veteran, and a young man who lost his father too early. The inmost Serling was perhaps ever that eager boy in Binghamton, standing on his tiptoes to be seen. (As an adult, he stood just 5’5”.) As a writer, he sought to integrate these different selves, to find the sense of coherence that evaded him in life. He would never quite feel that he had done so….
(10) GERALD ROSE (1935-2023). Illustrator and teacher Gerald Rose died May 5 at the age of 87 reports the Guardian. He was the youngest winner of the Kate Greenaway medal for children’s book illustration, in 1960.
…As well as the books with [his wife] Elizabeth, Gerald illustrated the work of many other authors, including Ted Hughes’s Nessie the Mannerless Monster (1964), James Joyce’s The Cat and the Devil (1965), Paul Jennings’ The Hopping Basket (1965) and The Great Jelly of London (1967), Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky and Other Poems (1968) and a number of Norman Hunter’s Professor Branestawm titles (1981-83). His own later picturebooks included the award-winning Ahhh! Said Stork (1986) and The Tiger Skin Rug (2011)….
(11) LAST FAREWELL. “RIP John Mansfield”, Kevin Standlee’s tribute to our friend, includes a link to the video of the service.
As most of you who follow me may know, John Mansfield, chair of the 1994 Winnipeg Worldcon and an important figure in Canadian fandom, passed away a few days ago after a long period of decline. His funeral service in Winnipeg was today, and was live streamed and recorded so that people (including me) who could not come to Winnipeg could attend virtually….
(12) MEMORY LANE.
1990 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Charles de Lint’s Drink Down the Moon which is where this Beginning comes from is one of my favorite novels by him. Published by Ace Books in 1990, it is the second novel of his Jack of Kinrowan series, one of his Ottawa set novels.
I like them because they are tighter, less sprawling than the later Newford novels are. They have a simplicity that sometimes gets lost in those novels.
And here’s our beginning, complete with fey music…
He slipped through the darkness in the 4/ 4 tempo of a slow reel, startled an owl in its perch, and crept through the trees to join the quiet murmur of the Rideau River as it quickened by Carleton University. At length, he came to the ears of a young woman who was sitting on the flat stones on the south bank of the river.
The fiddle playing that tune had a mute on its bridge, substantially reducing the volume of the music, but it was still loud enough for the woman to lift her head and smile when she heard it. She knew that tune, if not the fiddler, and yet she had a sense of the fiddler as well. There was something–an echo of familiarity–that let her guess who it was, because she knew from whom he’d learned to play.
Every good fiddler has a distinctive sound. No matter how many play the same tune, each can’t help but play it differently. Some might use an up stroke where another would a down. One might bow a series of quick single notes where another would play them all with one long draw of the bow. Some might play a double stop where others would a single string. If the listener’s ear was good enough, she could tell the difference. But you had to know the tunes, and the players, for the differences were minute.
“There’s still a bit of you plays on, Old Tom,” she whispered to the night as she stood up to follow the music to its source.
She was a small woman with brown hair cropped short to her scalp and a heart-shaped face. Her build was more wiry than slender; her features striking rather than handsome. She wore faded jeans, frayed at the back of the hems, sneakers, and a dark blue sweatshirt that was a size or so too big for her. Slipping through the trees, she moved so quietly that she found the fiddler and stood watching him for some time before he was aware of her presence.
She knew him by sight as soon as she saw him, confirming her earlier guess. It was Old Tom’s grandson, Johnny Faw. He was a head taller than her own four foot eleven, the fiddle tucked under his clean-shaven chin, his head bent down over it as he drew the music from its strings. His hair was a darker brown than her own, an unruly thatch that hung over his shirt collar in back and covered his ears to just above his lobes. He wore a light blue shirt, brown corduroys, and black Chinese rubber-soled slippers. The multi-coloured scarf around his neck and the gold loops glinting in each earlobe gave him the air of a Gypsy. His beat-up black fiddle case lay beside him with a brown quilted-cotton jacket lying next to it.
She waited until the tune was done–”The King of the Fairies” having made way for a Scots reel called “Miss Shepherd’s”–and then stepped out into the little clearing where he sat playing. He looked up, startled at her soft hello and sudden appearance. As she sat down facing him, he took the fiddle from under his chin and held it and the bow on his lap.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 14, 1929 — Kay Elliot. The actress who shows up in “I, Mudd” as the android form of Harry Mudd’s wife Stella Mudd. SPOILER ALERT (I promised our OGH I’d put these in. It’s possible someone here hasn’t seen “I, Mudd”.) Need I say she ends getting the upper hand in the end? She also had appearances in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as Miss Prendergast in “The It’s All Greek to Me Affair” episode and multiple roles on Bewitched. That’s it, but she died young. (Died 1982.)
Born May 14, 1935 — Peter J. Reed. A Vonnegut specialist with a long history starting with Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: The Vonnegut Chronicles: Interviews and Essays that he wrote with Marc Leeds, and Kurt Vonnegut: Images and Representations with Leeds again. He also wrote a handful of essays such as “Hurting ’til It Laughs: The Painful-Comic Science Fiction Stories of Kurt Vonnegut” and “Kurt Vonnegut’s Bitter Fool: Kilgore Trout”. (Died 2018.)
Born May 14, 1944 — George Lucas, 79. For better and worse I suppose, he created the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. (Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are fine. I adore the original Trilogy.) And let’s not forget THX 1138. My fav works that he was involved in? Labyrinth, Raiders of the Lost Ark,The Empire Strikes Back and Willow. Oh, and and The Young Indiana Jones series.
Born May 14, 1945 — Francesca Annis, 78. Lady Jessica in David Lynch’s Dune, Lady Macbeth in Roman Polanski’s Macbeth. I know only two roles, but what a pair of roles they were! She also appeared in Krull as The Widow of The Web but I’ll be damned if I can remember her in that role.
Born May 14, 1947 — Edward James, 76. Winner at Interaction of Best Related Non-Fiction Book for The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction which he did with Farah Mendlesohn. A companion volume, The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, was also edited with Mendlesohn. He was the editor of Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction from 1986 to 2001.
Born May 14, 1952 — Robert Zemeckis, 71. He’s responsible for some of my favorite films including the Back to the Future trilogy, The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Witches, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the savagely funny in a twisted sort of way Death Becomes Her. So what’s your favorite films that’s he had a hand in?
Born May 14, 1952 — Kathleen Ann Goonan. Her Nanotech Quartet is most excellent, particularly the first novel, Queen City Jazz. Her only Award was given for In War Times which garnered a John W. Campbell Memorial Award. She’s wrote an interesting essay on the relationship between sf and music, “Science Fiction and All That Jazz”. (Died 2021.)
Born May 14, 1955 — Rob Tapert, 68. I’d say he’s best known for co-creating Xena: Warrior Princess. He also produced and/or wrote several other television series including Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, M.A.N.T.I.S. and American Gothic. Tapert also co-created the prequel series Young Hercules which I loved more than the adult series. He’s married to actress Lucy Lawless.
… In Classic Chinese literature, there are a number of canonical novels, core books that are the backbone of a strand of Chinese history, culture and society….
…The Water Margin is set in the Song Dynasty, the last native Chinese Dynasty before the invasion of the Mongols. The Water Margin is a story that in its 50000 foot level will be familiar to Western readers. A group of diversely outlaws in an inaccessible area, fighting against corrupt officials who are oppressing the people? Yes, in the most broad of senses, The Water Margin is the Chinese parallel to the story of Robin Hood. It’s bigger scale, (108 outlaws in all, much larger than Robin’s band), larger stakes–fighting against full imperial armies, and, sadly, ends in a tragedy, the heroism of the outlaws ending not quite in a happily ever after.
And it is The Water Margin that is the story that S. L. Huang retells in The Water Outlaws.
S. L. Huang puts us in a slightly different China right from the get go by giving it a more feminist approach, starting with genderflipping the main character, Lin Chong. In Huang’s slightly alternate China, women have a significantly better role and place in society, but not so much that sexism and oppression of women are still not huge obstacles. But as a guard captain, Lin Chong is certainly in a position she would have not had in our own history. In this way, The Water Outlaws invites for me, comparisons to Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun, which has a genderflipped protagonist, but she is a character who hides her gender. And her story is at the end of the Yuan dynasty, a century or more after the events of The Water Margin. But the queer, feminist lens of Chinese history and the perspective that it brings is strong in both works.
There’s something about the great black void above us that attracts a wide variety of peculiar people. In our world, we have the likes of Elon Musk (who promises settlements on Mars when not driving Twitter to implosion) and other billionaires with god complexes and more money than sense. This is a theme that runs through Poor Man’s Sky Wil McCarthy’s most recent novel, a sequel to 2021’s Rich Man’s Sky….
(18) TINY DANCERS. The New York Times takes readers “Inside the Big World of Small Objects” — “For over 40 years, Tom Bishop’s dollhouse miniatures show has been the gold standard for serious collectors and hobbyists alike.”
Moments before 10 a.m., a security guard thanked the crowd for being cooperative.
When the clock struck the hour, it became clear why: The doors of the Marriott Chicago O’Hare conference center opened, and hundreds of attendees, a majority of whom were over the age of 60, bee-lined as fast as they could to the booths.
Many had studied the color-coded map ahead of time listing each booth’s location and came prepared with a shopping plan — a scene that could easily be mistaken for a Black Friday sale. Instead, it was the Chicago International Miniatures Show.
Despite the gathering touting itself as “the World’s No. 1 Dollhouse Miniatures Show,” there aren’t many actual dollhouses. Attendees instead sift through thousands of tiny objects that fill these tiny homes: miniature sponges, chocolate fondue fountains, rocking chairs, barbecue sets, Tupperware containers or fly swatters.
“The largest miniature dollhouse convention” may sound like a silly distinction to some, but it is no joking matter for the sellers. For many, the Tom Bishop show is where they hope to make the bulk of their annual sales.
The Tom Bishop show, as many attendees call it, is considered by its founder, Mr. Bishop, to be the largest dollhouse miniatures event in the world. Numbers appear to support that claim. This year, over 250 vendors traveled from 21 countries and 35 states.
More than 3,000 people attended, filling three large conference rooms, with hallway spillover. The weeklong event, from April 24 to April 30, included ticketed workshops with themes like “Lobsterfest” (focused on making miniature lobster boil accouterments); trade shows; and three days of ticketed shopping for the public….
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cora Buhlert, Steven French, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]
Chair Arlene Busby notified Westercon 75 members today that the convention has been canceled. The event was to have been held June 30-July 3 in Anaheim. She wrote, “It saddens us to do this, but a cascade of circumstances won’t allow it to happen.”
Loscon 49, scheduled for November 24-26, 2023, at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport Hotel, will assume the mantle of Westercon 75, and will honor the memberships of those members of Westercon 75 who do not request a refund from the Anaheim committee. The Chair of Loscon 49 has agreed to accept members of Westercon 75 as members with the transfer of money.
Westercon 75 members are being offered three options: (1) to receive a refund; (2) to donate their Westercon 75 membership to Aerospace Legacy Foundation (Anaheim’s parent organization) to cover expenses already incurred by Westercon 75; or (3) to retain their existing membership in Westercon 75, including voting and attendance rights where applicable and have the membership transferred to Loscon 49.
The 2023 Westercon Business Meeting will be held at Loscon 49, during which the election to choose the site of the 2025 Westercon (Westercon 77) will occur.
…Westercon 75 [is] …disbanding their committee. They are working with LASFS, owner of the Westercon service mark, to implement Section 1.9 of the Westercon Bylaws regarding a Westercon committee failure. Loscon 49, scheduled for November 24-26, 2023 at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport Hotel, will assume the mantle of Westercon 75, and has said that they will honor the memberships, both attending and supporting, of those members of Westercon 73 who do not request a refund from the Anaheim committee. The 2023 Westercon Business Meeting will thus be held at Loscon 49, as will be the election to choose the site of the 2025 Westercon (Westercon 77). All members of Loscon 49, including those members of Westercon 77 who transfer their memberships to Loscon 49, will be eligible to vote on the 2025 Westercon site selection and at the Westercon 77 business meeting.
[Thanks to Rick Moen for the story.]
Update 05/15/2023: For more information on the Westercon Business Meeting, contact:
People writing about the issues they care about is what keeps this community going. It’s a gift and privilege for me to be continually allowed to publish so many entertaining posts rich in creativity, humor, and shared adventures. Thanks to all of you who contributed to File 770 in 2022!
…Thinking about Jules Verne, with the new TV version of Around the World in Eighty Days about to start, I just bought the Wesleyan edition of Five Weeks in a Balloon, translated by Frederick Paul Walter – after researching what the good modern translations of Verne are. Verne has been abysmally translated into English over the years, but there’s been a push to correct that….
… It was on FaceBook where I first saw friends’ posting about Opening Ceremonies. According to what was posted, some of the musical selections performed by students from the Duke Ellington School spotlighted the religious aspects of the Christmas holiday.
My immediate reaction was that this was not an appropriate part of Opening Ceremonies, especially since, as far as I know, the religious aspect of the performance was not contained in the descriptions in any convention publication. The online description of Opening Ceremonies says, in its entirety: “Welcome to the convention. We will present the First Fandom and Big Heart awards, as well as remarks from the Chair.” The December 9, 2021, news release about the choir’s participation did not mention that there would be a religious component to the performance….
Whew! We made it. We made it to Issue 100 of the Grantville Gazette. This is an incredible feat by a large group of stakeholders. Thank you, everyone.
I don’t think Eric Flint had any idea what he’d created when he sent Jim Baen the manuscript for 1632. In the intervening two-plus decades, the book he intended to be a one-shot novel has grown like the marshmallow man in Ghostbusters to encompass books from two publishing houses, a magazine (this one, that you are holding in your metaphorical hands) and allowed over 165 new authors to see their first published story in print. The Ring of Fire Universe, or the 1632 Universe, has more than twelve million words published….
This message was written by a fan in Moscow 48 hours ago. It is unsigned but was relayed by a trustworthy source who confirms the writer is happy for it to be published by File 770. It’s a fan’s perspective, a voice we may not hear much….
Right now, when I’m sitting at my desktop and writing this text, a cannonade nearby doesn’t stop. The previous night was scary in Kyiv. Evidently, Russians are going to start demolishing Ukrainian capital like they are doing with Kharkiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, Mariupol.
The Ukrainian SFF Community joined the efforts to isolate Russia, the nazi-country of the 21st century, to force them to stop the war. The boycott by American authors we asked for is also doing the job. Many leading writers and artists of the great United States already joined the campaign.
We appealed to SFWA to also join the campaign, and here is what they replied…
Fortunately, comic-carrying newspapers are, of course, all (also or only) online these days, but even then, some require subscriptions (fair enough), and to get all the ones you want. For example, online, the Washington Post, has about 90, while the Boston Globe is just shy of a paltry one-score-and-ten. And (at least in Firefox), they don’t seem to be visible in all-on-one-page mode, much less customize-a-page-of.
So, for several years now, I’ve been going to the source — two “syndicates” that sell/redistribute many popular strips to newspapers….
There’s been a lot of excitement about Squid Game. Everybody’s talking about how clever, original, and utterly skiffy it is. I watched it, too, eagerly and faithfully. But I wasn’t as surprised by it as some. I expected it to be good. I’ve been watching Korean video for ten years, and have only grown more addicted every year. And yet I just can’t convince many people to watch it with me….
Let me tell you about my favorite building in Washington, D.C. It’s the staid old Arts and Industries Building, the second-oldest of all the Smithsonian Institution buildings, which dates back to the very early 1880s and owes its existence to the Smithsonian’s then urgent need for a place where parts of its collection could go on public display….
When we last left the Heinleins (“What the Heinleins Told the 1940 Census”), a woman answering the door at 8777 Lookout Mountain – Leslyn Heinlein, presumably — had just finished telling the 1940 census taker a breathtaking raft of misinformation. Including that her name was Sigred, her husband’s was Richard, that the couple had been born in Germany, and they had a young son named Rolf.
Ten years have passed since then, and the archives of the 1950 U.S. Census were opened to the public on April 1. There’s a new Mrs. Heinlein – Virginia. The 8777 Lookout Mountain house in L.A. has been sold. They’re living in Colorado Springs. What did the Heinleins tell the census taker this time?…
“In the future, there was a nuclear war. And because of all the radiation, cats developed the ability to shoot lasers out of their mouths.”
On this dubious premise, Laser Cats was founded. By its seventh and final episode, the great action stars and directors of the day had contributed their considerable talents to this highly entertaining, yet frankly ridiculous enterprise. From James Cameron to Lindsey Lohan, Josh Brolin to Steve Martin, Laser Cats attracted the best in the business.
Being part of Saturday Night Live undoubtedly helped….
The Emeka Walter Dinjos Memorial Award For Disability In Speculative Fiction aims to award disability in speculative fiction in two ways. One, by awarding a writer of speculative fiction for their representation or portrayal of disability in a world of speculative fiction, whatever their health status; and two, by awarding a disabled writer for a work of speculative fiction in general, whatever the focus of the work may be….
Robert Osband, Florida fan, really loves space. All his life he has been learning about spaceflight. And reading stories about spaceflight, in science fiction.
So after NASA’s Apollo program was over, the company that made Apollo space suits held a garage sale, and Ozzie showed up. He bought a “training liner” from ILC Dover, a coverall-like portion of a pressure suit, with rings at the wrists and neck to attach gloves and helmet.
And another time, in 1976, when one of his favorite authors, Robert A. Heinlein, was going to be Guest of Honor at a World Science Fiction Convention, Mr. Osband journeyed to Kansas City.
In his suitcase was his copy of Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel—a novel about a teenager who wins a secondhand space suit in a contest—and his ILC Dover suit.
Because if you wanted to get your copy of Have Space Suit, Will Travel autographed, and you happened to own a secondhand space suit, it would be a shame NOT to wear it, right?…
… I’m sure that our first face-to-face meeting was in 1979, when my job in industry took me from Chattanooga all the way out to Los Angeles for some much-needed training in electrochemistry. I didn’t really know anybody in L.A. fandom back then but I did know the address of the LASFS clubhouse, so on my next-to-last evening in town I dropped in on a meeting. And it was there that I found Bruce mostly surrounded by other fans while they all expounded on fandom as it existed back then and what it might be like a few years down the road. It was like a jazz jam session, but all words and no music. I settled back into the periphery, enjoying all the back-and-forth, and when there eventually came a lull in the conversations I took the opportunity to introduce myself. And then Bruce said something to me that I found very surprising: “Dick Lynch! I’ve heard of you!”…
It was back in 2014 that a student filmmaker at Stephen F. Austin State University, Ricky Kennedy, created an extraordinary short movie titled The History of Time Travel. Exploration of “what ifs” is central to good storytelling in the science fiction genre and this little production is one of the better examples of how to do it the right way.
… It is through Joy and Cassimer’s eyes we experience S.A. Tholin’s Iron Truth, a finalist of the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition. If there was ever a case of the cream rising to the top this book is one….
In T. A. Bruno’s In the Orbit of Sirens, a Self-Published Science Fiction Competition finalist, the remnants of the human race have fled the solar system ahead of an alien culture that is assimilating everyone in reach. Loaded aboard a vast colony ship they’re headed for a distant refuge, prepared to pioneer a new world, but unprepared to meet new threats there to human survival that are as great as the ones they left behind.
On the morning of Carmen Grey’s sixth birthday an armed team arrives to take her from her parents and remove her to the underground facility where Clairvoyants — like her — are held captive and trained for years to access their abilities. So begins Monster of the Dark by K. T. Belt, a finalist in the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition….
G.M. Nair begins Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire by making a surprising choice. His introductory scene explicitly reveals to readers the true nature of the mysterious events that the protagonists themselves uncover only very slowly throughout the first half of the book. The introduction might even be the penultimate scene in the book — which would make sense in a story that is partly about time travel loops. Good idea or bad idea?…
… What sounds like Firefly also describes the SPSFC finalist novel Captain Wu: Starship Nameless #1, a space opera by authors Patrice Fitzgerald and Jack Lyster. I love Firefly so it wasn’t a big leap to climb aboard this vessel….
…. It would be exceptionally embarrassing for a Worldcon to have to explain why a finalist would have won the Hugo except for — oops! — this bit of outdated fine print. The best course of action is to eliminate that fine print before such a circumstance arises….
The social media of the 30th century doesn’t seem so different: teenagers anonymously perform acts of civil disobedience and vandalism to score points and raise their ranking in an internet app. That’s where Aster Vale leads a secret life as the Wildflower, a street artist and tagger, in A Star Named Vega by Benjamin J. Roberts, a Self-Published Science Fiction competition finalist…..
R F Kuang’s Babel is an audacious and unrelenting look at colonialism, seen through the lens of an alternate 19th century Britain where translation is the key to magic. Kuang’s novel is as sharp and perceptive as it is well written, deep, and bears reflection upon, after reading, for today’s world….
Paul Weimer went to donate some books at Don Blyly’s new location for Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores. While he was inside Paul shot these photographs of the bookshelves being stocked and other work in progress.
… Another contributor to the Afrofuturist tradition is Nicole Mitchell, a noted avant-jazz composer and flutist. She chose to take on Octavia Butler’s most challenging works, the Xenogenesis Trilogy, and create the Xenogenesis Suite, a collection of dark and disturbing compositions that reflect the trilogy’s turbulent and complicated spirit….
Anna carefully arranged the necessary objects around her desktop computer into a pentagon: sharpened pencils, a legal pad, a half-empty coffee cup, and a copy of Science Without Sorcery, with the chair at the fifth point. This done, she intoned the spell that would open the channel to her muse for long enough to write the final pages of her work-in-progress. Then she could get ready for the convention….
… In the last five years, the [Hugo Awards Study Committee] [HASC] has changed precisely two words of the Constitution. (Since you asked: adding the words “or Comic” to the title of the “Best Graphic Story” category.) The HASC’s defenders will complain that we had two years of pandemic, and that the committee switched to Discord rather than email only this year, and that there are lots of proposals this year. But the fact remains that so far the practical impact has been slower than I imagined when I first proposed the Committee…..
In Michaele Jordan’s overview, she comments on the novellas by Aliette de Bodard, Becky Chambers, Alix E. Harrow, Seanan McGuire, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Catherynne M. Valente that are up for the 2022 Hugo.
… Once we had a lot of science fiction, little fantasy; lately we’ve had a lot of fantasy; so Powers’ writing fantasy does not seem particularly defiant.
His fantasy has generally been — to use a word which may provoke defiance — rigorous. Supernatural phenomena occur, may be predicted, aroused, avoided, as meticulously — a word whose root means fear — as we in our world start an automobile engine or put up an umbrella. Some say this has made his writing distinctive….
The day of reckoning is here for E Pluribus Hugo. The change in the way Hugo Awards nominations are counted was passed in 2015 and ratified in 2016 to counter how Sad and Rabid Puppies’ slates dictated most of finalists on the Hugo ballots in those years. It came with a 2022 sunset clause attached, and E Pluribus Hugo must be re-ratified this year in order to remain part of the WSFS Constitution….
… His name is Joel Nydahl, and back about the time of that Chicon he was a 14-year-old neofan who lived with his parents on a farm near Marquette, Michigan. He was an avid science fiction reader and at some point in 1952 decided to publish a fanzine. It was a good one….
… Abigail Kamara, younger cousin of police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant, has been left largely unsupervised while he’s off in the sticks on a case. This leaves Abigail making her own decisions when she notices that kids roughly her age are disappearing–but not staying missing long enough for the police to care….
Friends, let me tell you about one of my favorite TV shows. But I must admit to you up front that it’s not SF/F. Extraordinary Attorney Woo is, as I assume you’ve deduced from the title, a lawyer show. But it’s a KOREAN lawyer show, which should indicate that is NOT run of the mill….
… The Phantom Empire, a twelve-chapter Mascot serial, was originally released in February, 1935. A strange concoction for a serial, it is at once science fiction film, a Western, and strangely enough, a musical. It was the first real science fiction sound serial and its popularity soon inspired other serials about fantastic worlds….
… I find myself explaining the changes to membership in the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) and the conditions for attending the World Science Fiction Convention that were ratified this year in Chicago (and thus are now in effect, because this was the second vote on the changes)…
Chicon 8’s Chicago Worldcon Community Fund (CWCF) program offered both memberships and financial stipends. It was established with the goal of helping defray the expenses of attending Chicon 8 for the following groups of people:
Non-white fans or program participants • LGBTQIA+ fans or program participants • Local Chicago area fans of limited means…
As environmental problems caused by industrialisation and post-industrialisation continue to increase, the public is looking for ecological solutions. As pandemics, economic crises, and wars plague our society in different ways, thoughts turn to the good old times. But were they really all that good? People are escaping increasingly into fantastical stories in order to find a quantum of solace. But at what point was there a utopia in our society. If so, at what or whose cost did it exist? Whether or not we ever experience living in a utopia, the idea of finally finding one drives us to continue seeking ideal living conditions….
… Capclave appeared to be equally star-crossed in its next iteration. It was held over the weekend of October 18-20, 2002, and once again the attendees were brought closer together by an event taking place in the outside world. The word had spread quickly through all the Saturday night room parties: “There’s been another shooting.” Another victim of the D.C. Sniper….
… In Fairy Tale, his newest novel, Stephen King delivers a, cough, grimm contemporary story, explicitly incorporating horror in the, cough, spirit of Lovecraft (King also explicitly namedrops, in the text, August Derleth, and Henry Kuttner), in which high-schooler Charlie Reade becomes involved in things — and challenges — that, as the book and plot progress, stray beyond the mundane….
The idea of an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories about the Beatles seems like a natural. I’ve been told the two editors, each unbeknownst to the other, both presented the idea to the publisher around the same time…
The Science Museum (that’s the world famous one in Kensington, London) has just launched a new exhibit on what Carl Sagan once mused (though not mentioned in the exhibit itself) science fiction and science’s ‘dance’. SF2 Concatenation reprographic supremo Tony Bailey and I were invited by the Museum to have a look on the exhibition’s first day. (The exhibition runs to Star Wars day 2023, May the Fourth.) Having braved Dalek extermination at the Museum’s entrance, we made our way to the exhibition’s foyer – decorated with adverts to travel to Gallifrey – to board our shuttle….
I was at the 2022 F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival in Rockville, MD today. If you’re wondering why the festival is there, that’s where Fitzgerald and his wife are buried. Now, I’d never read any of Fitzgerald`s writing, so I spent the evening before reading the first three chapters of The Great Gatsby (copyright having expired last year, it’s online). So far, I’ve yet to find anyone in it that I want to spend any time with, including the narrator.
However, the reason I attended was to see Kim Stanley Robinson, who was the special guest at the Festival. The end of the morning’s big event was a conversation between Stan and Richard Powers. Then there was lunch, and a keynote speaker, then Stan introducing Powers to receive an award from the society that throws the annual Festival….
…As a child, I kept a notebook filled with my favorite quotes. (How did I not know I was going to be an author?) The first quote? “Not all who wander are lost.” There was everything from 90s rom com lines to Wordsworth poems in that notebook, but Tolkien filled the most pages….
There is a fundamental implausibility to easy manned interstellar (or even interplanetary) space travel that nonetheless remains a seductive idea even in our wiser and more cynical and weary 21st century. …
Alif is a young man, a “gray hat” hacker, selling his skills to provide cybersecurity to anyone who needs that protection from the government. He lives in an unnamed city-state in the Middle East, referred to throughout simply as the City. He’s nonideological; he’ll sell his services to Islamists, communists, anyone….
Journalist, author, genre historian (and fan, certainly, from the 1940s and on!) Bertil Falk is acclaimed for performing the “impossible” task of translating Finnegans Wake to Swedish, the modernist classic by James Joyce, under the title Finnegans likvaka….
The protagonist of the first short novel in this omnibus — which is in fact Eye of Cat — is William Blackhorse Singer, a Navajo born in the 20th century, and still alive, and fit and healthy, almost two centuries later….
One fine Monday morning, Peter Grant is summoned to Baker Street Station on the London Underground, to assess whether there was anything “odd,” i.e., involving magic, about the death of a young man on the tracks….
…If you’re not a fan, then there’s a real chance you have no idea how much range animé encompasses. And I’m not even talking about the entire range of kid shows, sit-coms and drama. (I’m aware there may be limits to your tolerance. I’m talking about the range within SF/F. Let’s consider just three examples….
While I subscribe to the practice that, as a rule, reviews and review-like write-ups, if not intended as a piece of critical/criticism, should stick to books the reviewer feels are worth the readers reading, sometimes (I) want to, like Jerry Pournelle’s “We makes these mistakes and do this stuff so you dont have to” techno-wrangling Chaos Manor columns, give a maybe-not-your-cup-of-paint-remover head’s-up. This is one of those….
It’s been 30 years since the passing of my friend Roger Weddall. I doubt very many of you reading this had ever met him and I wouldn’t be surprised, actually, if most of you haven’t even heard of him. Thirty years is a long time and the demographics of fandom has changed a lot. So let me tell you a little bit about him….
I expect a lot of File 770’s readers watched, as we did, as the Orion capsule returned to Terra. I’m older than some of you, and it’s been decades since I watched a capsule re-entry and landing in the ocean. What had me in tears is that finally, after fifty years, we’re planning to go back… and stay….
Poul Anderson began writing his own “future history” in the 1950s, with its starting point being that there would be a limited nuclear war at some point in the 1950s. From that point would develop a secret effort to build a new social structure that could permanently prevent war….
…As with Avatar, Avatar: The Way of Water is a visual feast. Unlike the first film, there aren’t long sweeping pans lingering over beautiful, otherworldly vistas. The “beautiful” and the “otherworldly” are still there, but we’re seeing them incorporated into the action and storytelling….
… When I was growing up, children like myself were taught, no, more like indoctrinated, to think the United States was the BEST place to grow up, that our country was ALWAYS in the right and that our institutions were, for the most part, unassailable and impervious to criticism from anyone, especially foreigners.
I grew up in Ohio in the 1960’s and despite what I was being taught in a parochial Catholic grade school (at great expense, I might add, by my hard-working parents), certain things I was experiencing did not add up. News of the violence and casualties during the Vietnam War was inescapable. I remember watching the evening network news broadcasts and being horrified by the number of people (on all sides of the conflict) being wounded or killed on a daily basis.
As the years went on, it became harder to reconcile all of the violence, terrorism, public assassinations and the racism I was experiencing with the education I was receiving. The Pentagon Papers and the Watergate break-ins coincided with my high school years and the beginnings of my political awakening.
When I look back on those formative days of my life, I see myself as a small child, set out upon a sea of prejudice and whiteness, in a boat of hetero-normaltity, destination unknown….
… After I introduced myself to Mr. Weir and Mr. Bell, I said, “You and I have something in common.”
“Oh really? What’s that?”
“You and I are the only 2022 Hugo Award nominees within a hundred-mile radius of this bookstore.” (I stated that because I know that our fellow nominee, Jason Sanford, lives in Columbus, Ohio, hence the reference to the mileage.)…
Despite some very harsh comments from Dmitry Rogozin, the director general of Roscosmos, threatening that “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe?” spacefarers seem to have a different perspective and understanding of the importance of international cooperation, respect and solidarity. This appears to have been demonstrated today when three cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station….
Forty-five years ago or thereabouts, on February 26, 1977, the first ‘prog’ of 2000AD was released by IPC magazines. The second issue dated March 5 a week later saw the debut of Judge Dredd. Since then, Rogue Trooper, Nemesis the Warlock, Halo Jones, Sláine, Judge Anderson, Strontium Dog, Roxy and Skizz, The ABC Warriors, Bad Company and Proteus Vex are just some of the characters and stories that have emanated from the comic that was started by Pat Mills and John Wagner. Some have gone on to be in computer games, especially as the comic was purchased by Rebellion developments in 2000, and Judge Dredd has been brought to the silver screen twice.
Addictive and enjoyable stories of the fantastic, written and drawn by some of the greatest comic creators of the latter part of the 20th century, they often related to the current, utilizing Science Fiction to obscure issues about violence or subversiveness, but reflecting metaphorically about the now of the time….
Traditionally, the start of a new year is a time when film critics begin assembling their lists of the best films, actors, writers, composers, and directors of the past year. What follows, then, while honoring that long-held tradition, is a comprehensive compilation and deeply personal look at the finest film scores of the past nearly one hundred years….
The frenzy of joyous controversy swirling over director Adam McKay’s new film Don’t Look Up has stirred a healthy, if frenetic debate over the meaning and symbology of this bonkers dramedy. On its surface a cautionary satire about the impending destruction of the planet, Don’t Look Up is a deceptively simplistic tale of moronic leadership refusing to accept a grim, unpleasant reality smacking it in its face.
What follows is truly one of the most personally heartfelt, poignant, and heartbreaking remembrances that I’ve ever felt compelled to write.
Veronica Carlson was a dear, close, cherished friend for over thirty years. I learned just now that this dear sweet soul passed away today. I am shocked and saddened beyond words. May God rest her beautiful soul.
After interviewing William Shatner for the British magazine L’Incroyable Cinema during the torrid Summer of 1969 at “The Playhouse In The Park,” just outside of Philadelphia, while Star Trek was still in the final days of its original network run on NBC, my old friend Allan Asherman, who joined my brother Erwin and I for this once-in-a-lifetime meeting with Captain James Tiberius Kirk, astutely commented that I had now met and befriended all three of our legendary boyhood “Captains,” which included Jim Kirk (William Shatner), Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers (Larry “Buster” Crabbe), and Buzz Corry (Edward Kemmer), Commander of the Space Patrol….
… The first of the most important music modernists, however, in the post war era and “Silver Age” of film composers was Elmer Bernstein who would, had he lived, be turning one hundred years old on April 4th, 2022. Although he would subsequently prove himself as able as classic “Golden Age” composers of writing traditional big screen symphonic scores, with his gloriously triumphant music for Cecil B De Mille’s 1956 extravaganza, The Ten Commandments….
… She was just four days into her maiden voyage from Southhampton to New York City when this “Unsinkable” vessel met disaster and finality, sailing into history, unspeakable tragedy, and maritime immortality. May God Rest Her Eternal Soul … the souls of the men, women, and children who sailed and perished during those nightmarish hours, and to all those who go courageously “Down to The Sea in Ships.” This horrifying remembrance remains among the most profoundly significant of my own seventy-six years….
… It is true that Seth MacFarlane, the veteran satirist who both created and stars in the science fiction series, originally envisioned [The Orville] as a semi-comedic tribute to Gene Roddenberry’s venerable Star Trek. However, the show grew more dramatic in its second season on Fox, while it became obvious that MacFarlane wished to grow outside the satirical box and expand his dimensional horizons and ambitions….
… I was born in the closing weeks of 1945, and grasped at my tentative surroundings with uncertain hands. It wasn’t until 1950 when I was four years old that my father purchased a strange magical box that would transform and define my life. The box sat in our living room and waited to come alive. Three letters seemed to identify its persona and bring definition to its existence. Its name appeared to be RCA, and its identity was known as television….
He was a kindly, gentle soul who lived among us for a seeming eternity. But even eternity is finite. He was justifiably numbered among the most influential writers of the twentieth century. Among the limitless vistas of science fiction and fantasy he was, perhaps, second only in literary significance to H.G. Wells who briefly shared the last century with him. Ray Bradbury was, above all else, the poet laureate of speculative fiction….
On June 11, 1982, America and the world received the joyous gift of one of the screen’s most beloved fantasy film classics and, during that memorable Summer, a young aspiring television film critic reviewed a new film from director Steven Spielberg called E.T….
…Before I realized it, tables and chairs were being moved and I felt the hands of paramedics lifting me to the floor of the restaurant. Les was attempting to perform CPR on me, and I was drifting off into unconciousness. I awoke to find myself in an ambulance with assorted paramedics pounding my chest, while attempting to verbally communicate with me. I was aware of their presence, but found myself unable to speak….
After nearly dying a little more than a decade ago during and just after major open heart surgery, I fulfilled one of the major dreams of my life…meeting the man who would become my last living life long hero. I’d adored him as far back as 1959 when first hearing the dramatic strains of the theme from Checkmate on CBS Television. That feeling solidified a year later in 1960 with the rich, sweet strains of ABC Television’s Alcoa Premiere, hosted by Fred Astaire, followed by Wide Country on NBC….
…When Jack Warner was casting the film version of the smash hit, he considered performers such as Cary Grant, James Cagney, or Frank Sinatra for the lead. Meredith Willson, the show’s composer, however, demanded that Robert Preston star in the movie version of his play, or he’d withdraw the contracts and licensing. The film version of The Music Man, produced for Warner Brothers, and starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones, opened to rave reviews on movie screens across the country in 1962. Robert Preston, like Rex Harrison in Lerner and Lowe’s My Fair Lady, had proven that older, seasoned film stars could propel both Broadway and big screen musicals to enormous artistic success….
On the evening of May 14, 1998, following the airing over NBC Television of the series finale of Seinfeld, the world and I received the terrible news of the passing of the most beloved entertainer of the twentieth century. It has been twenty-four years since he left this mortal realm, but the joy, the music, and the memories are as fresh and as vital today as when they were born….
Very exciting news. The long awaited CD soundtrack release of 12 O’Clock High is now available for purchase through La-La Land Records and is a major restoration of precious original tracks from Quinn Martin’s beloved television series….
That terrible day in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 remains one of the most significantly traumatic days of my life. I was just seventeen years old. I was nearing the end of my high school classes at Northeast High School in Philadelphia when word started spreading through the hallways and corridors that JFK had been shot. I listened in disbelief, praying that it wasn’t true … but it was….
I recently watched a somber new three part documentary by film maker Ken Burns that is among the most sobering, heartbreaking, and horrifying indictments of humanity that I have ever encountered. It was extremely difficult to watch but, as an American Jew, I remain struck by the similarities between the rise in Fascism in the early nineteen thirties, leading to the beginnings of Nazism in Germany, and the attempted decimation of the Jewish people in Europe and throughout the world, with the repellant echoes of both racial and religious intolerance, and the mounting hatred and suspicion of the Jewish communities and population residing presently in my own country of birth, these United States….
I’ve read with interest some of the recent discussions concerning the measure of Hugo Friedhofer’s importance as a composer, and it set my memory sailing back to another time in a musical galaxy long ago and far away. I have always considered Maestro Friedhofer among the most important, if underrated, composers of Hollywood’s golden era….
…Steven Spielberg’s reverent semi-autobiographical story of youthful dreams and aspirations is, for me, the finest, most emotionally enriching film of the year, filled with photographic memories, and indelible recollections shared both by myself and by the film maker….
My friend Adam Spector tells me that when Ernest Lehman was asked to write the script for North by Northwest, he tried to turn out the most “Hotchcocky” script he could, with all of Hitchcock’s obsessions in one great motion picture.
Moonfall is the most “Emmerichian” film Roland Emmerich is made. Like his earlier films, it has flatulent melodrama interlaced with completely daft science. But everything here is much more intense than his earlier work. But the only sense of wonder you’ll get from this film is wondering why the script got greenlit….
… Having a long career in Hollywood is a lot harder than in other forms of publishing; you’ve got to have the relentless drive to pursue your vision and keep making sales. To an outsider, what is astonishing about J. Michael Straczynski’s career is that it has had a third act and may well be in the middle of a fourth. His career could have faded after Babylon 5. The roars that greeted him at the 1996 Los Angeles Worldcon (where, it seemed, every conversation had to include the words, “Where’s JMS?”) would have faded and he could have scratched out a living signing autographs at media conventions….
When I read in the Financial Times about how Britain’s National Theatre was adapting Sir Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage, the first volume of his Book of Dust trilogy, I told myself, “That’s a play for me! I’ll just fly over to London and see it! OGH is made of money, and he’ll happily pay my expenses!”
Fortunately, I didn’t have to go to London, because the theatre came to me, with a screening of the National Theatre Live production playing at the American Film Institute. So, I spent a pleasant Saturday afternoon seeing it….
… Stories matter more in the theatre than in film because far more of a play is in our imagination than in a film. Stripped of CGI and rewrites by multiple people, what plays offer at their best is one person’s offering us something where, if it works, we tell ourselves, “Yes, that was a good evening in the theatre,” and if it doesn’t, we gnash our teeth and feel miserable until we get home…
As Anton Ego told us in Ratatouille, the goal of a critic today is to be the first person to offer praise to a rising artist. It’s not the tenth novel that deserves our attention but the first or second. In the theatre, the people who need the most attention are the ones who are being established, not the ones that build on earlier successes.
So I’m happy to report that Matthew Aldwin McGee, author, star, and chief puppeteer of Under the Sea with Dredgie McGee is a talented guy who has a great deal of potential. You should be watching him….
I once read an article about a guy who was determined to live life in 1912. He lived in a shack in the woods, bought a lot of old clothes, a Victrola, and a slew of old books and magazines. I don’t remember how he made a living, but the article made clear that he was happy….
(1) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Meg Elison and Clay McLeod Chapman on Wednesday, October 12, 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
Meg Elison is a Philip K. Dick and Locus award winning author, as well as a Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, and Otherwise finalist. A prolific short story writer and essayist, Elison has been published in Slate, McSweeney’s, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Fangoria, Uncanny, Lightspeed, Nightmare, and many other places. Elison is a high school dropout and a graduate of UC Berkeley.
Clay McLeod Chapman
Clay McLeod Chapman writes books, comic books, children’s books, and for film and television. His upcoming novel Ghost Eaters hit shelves on September 20th, from Quirk Books. He lives in Brooklyn.
Masks welcome at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003. (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).
(2) THE U.S. AND THE HOLOCAUST. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] This somber new three part documentary by film maker Ken Burns is among the most sobering, heartbreaking, and horrifying indictments of humanity that I have ever encountered. It was extremely difficult to watch but, as an American Jew, mere hours away from the start of Yom Kippur, I remain struck by the similarities between the rise in Fascism in the early nineteen thirties, leading to the beginnings of Nazism in Germany, and the attempted decimation of the Jewish people in Europe and throughout the world, with the repellant echoes of both racial and religious intolerance, and the mounting hatred and suspicion of the Jewish communities and population residing presently in my own country of birth, these United States.
I am reminded of the disturbing adage that “those who forget the lessons (and atrocities against mankind) of the past are condemned to repeat them. While I have struggled these many years to keep my observations and postings limited to appreciations of films, music, and the arts, I can no longer, in clean conscience, remain silent as the clear signs of domestic and international Fascism are once again on the rise.
Perhaps these concerns have no place in this setting and personalized forum, but I can no longer keep silent as the horrific remnants of Nazism and racial genocide reach out their despicable tentacles from the graves of millions once more, threatening to consume both America and our planet in the decimation of freedom by the frightened zealots of bigotry, stupidity, and arrogance.
The warning signs are unmistakable as fear and hatred threaten enlightenment, while intolerance escalates alarmingly among those broadcasting their supposed patriotism as an end to democracy in what was once proclaimed as “The Land of the Free, and The Home of the Brave.” Intolerance must not be permitted to cloak itself yet again in the guise of patriotism to the detriment of free thought and speech.
We alone are responsible for the course and degree of our own success or failure. No other people or group can truly symbolize or camouflage our personal dissatisfactions. To hide our grievances and individual frailty beneath the cloak of blame is not only dishonest, but cowardly. For America to thrive and endure, freedom of expression, as well as the embrace and cultivation of our differences, is essential if we are, indeed, to survive the smoldering, unforgiving passage of time.
As a lifelong reader of all things folklorish and fantastical, like many of my American contemporaries, I grew up on a diet of European tales and legends—a satisfying but ultimately limited fare. These days readers have an enormous range of stories to delight them as contemporary fantasy engages with an ever-widening pool of cultural sources that encompass the world’s collective mythologies. This season publishers have presented readers with a veritable feast for the imaginative mind….
Illustrator Joseph Namara Hollis has won the 2022 Klaus Flugge Prize for Pierre’s New Hair, illustrator Joseph Namara Hollis, editor Emilia Will, designer Jade Wheaton (Tate Museum).
The book is described as being “about a bear obsessed with looking good but also desperate to show the world his roller-skating flair.”
In accepting the award—which is personally funded by Klaus Flugge rather than by the Andersen Press that Flugge founded—Hollis is quoted, saying, “Winning the Klaus Flugge Prize is invigorating.
… Hollis wins the program’s purse of £5,000 (US$5,555) and helps bring needed attention to the work of illustrators—like translators, far too often overlooked for their critical importance to publishing. …
(5) MIGHTY STEEDS. File 770’s coverage of the National Toy Hall of Fame and the comments from Breyer horse fan Cat Rambo and Masters of the Universe fan Cora Buhlert caught the eye of the Breyer History Diva: “Test Color Bears and Other Dreams”.
…A discussion about Breyer on a Science-Fiction Fandom news web site!?! If some of the names are not familiar to you, Cat Rambo was President of the SFWA from 2015-2019, and Cora Buhlert just won a Hugo for Best Fan Writer….
(6) MEMORY LANE.
1972 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Ngaio Marsh’s Tied Up in Tinsel (1972)
If you’ve been paying attention, you know that I am very fond of British Country House mysteries, be the written form such as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (which yes I know has became several excellent filmed versions including one with the beloved David Suchet) or filmed works such as Robert Altman’s rather good Gosford Park.
Fifty years ago this year, Ngaio Marsh’s Tied in Tinsel was published by the Collins Crime Club. It was the twenty-seventh novel to feature Inspector Roderick Alleyn. It was late in the series, so there would only be five more as she’d live but a decade more.
(Lovely title, eh? Guaranteed to catch the eye of the shopper in a bookstore nigh unto Christmastime when they’re desperately shopping for that mystery lover they’re buying for as you can see from the image below with its excellent design on the Collins Crime Club edition. Very Christmasy I’d say.)
In a brief recapping that really has no spoilers to speak of, his wife Troy Alleyn is at Hilary Bill-Tasman’s manor for Christmas time to paint a portrait of her husband and, while she’s there take part in the Christmas festivities that includes a Pageant along with the other guests who being in a Marsh novel are, to put it mildly, rather eccentric. Troy is enjoying these festivities until one of the Pageant’s players wanders off into the bitterly cold, snowy night. So her husband, Sir Roderick Alleyn is called upon to figure out what happened.
I liked it. It is a light affair I grant you, but it is a perfectly done Christmas Manor House mystery that any fan of Golden Age mysteries will no doubt enjoy very much.
For reasons I’ve never figured out, she is considered a second rate mystery author when compared to Agatha Christie when I think is very, very unfair. (Reviews of her writings are often exceedingly harsh.) She’s just as good a writer as Christie was. I wonder if a large part of that bias was based in her not being properly British as she from New Zealand originally. British readers and critics can be harshly xenophobic.
The Blackstone edition audio version as narrated by Wanda McCaddon is available to Audible members for free. Need I say that’ll I will be listening to it? It’ll be interesting to see how it comes across as an audio drama.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 2, 1911 — Jack Finney. Author of many novels but only a limited number of them genre, to wit The Body Snatchers, Time and Again and From Time to Time. He would publish About Time, a short story collection which has the time stories, “The Third Level” and “I Love Galesburg in the Springtime”. The film version of The Body Snatchers was nominated for a Hugo at Seacon ‘79. He has a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. (Died 1995.)
Born October 2, 1919 — Edward Wellen. Mostly remembered for the most excellent mysteries he wrote in great number that showed up in the Alfred Hitchcock Magazine and other outlets. He’s here because he wrote an ongoing column in Galaxy called Spoofs with first one in July entitled “Origins of Galactic Slang”. It was followed by similar Galactic Origins well call them for lack of a better term spoofs over the following decade. He wrote a fair amount of short fiction, all if it quite good, most, if not all, is collected in two digital Golden Age Metapacks. (Died 2011.)
Born October 2, 1932 — Edmund Crispin. He’s well remembered and definitely still read for his most excellent Gervase Fen mystery series. It turns out that he was the editor of the Best SF anthology series that ran off and on between 1955 and 1972. Writers such as Kuttner, Moore, Blish, Bradbury and Von Vogt had stories there. These anthologies alas to my knowledge are not available digitally or in hard copy. (Died 1978.)
Born October 2, 1944 — Vernor Vinge, 78. Winner of five Hugo Awards, though what I consider his best series, the Realtime/Bobble series, was not one of them. And he won the Robert Heinlein Award in 2020. I’m also very fond of his short fiction, much of which is collected in The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge.
Born October 2, 1948 — Avery Brooks, 74. Obviously he’s got his Birthday write-up for being Benjamin Sisko on Deep Space Nine, but I’m going to note his superb work also as Hawk on Spenser: For Hire and its spinoff A Man Called Hawk which are aren’t even tangentially genre adjacent. He retired from acting after DS9 but is an active tenured theater professor at Rutgers.
Born October 2, 1950 — Ian McNeice, 72. Prime Minister Churchill / Emperor Winston Churchill on Doctor Who in “The Beast Below,” “Victory of the Daleks,” “The Pandorica Opens,” and “The Wedding of River Song,” all Eleventh Doctor stories. He was an absolutely perfect Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in Frank Herbert’s Dune and Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune series. And he voiced Kwaltz in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Born October 2, 1953 – Walter Jon Williams, 69. The last thing I read by him was his most excellent Dagmar Shaw series which I highly recommend. I also like his Metropolitan novels, be that SF or fantasy, as well as his Hardwired series. I’m surprised how few Awards that he’s won, just three with two Nebulas, both for shorter works, “Daddy’s World” and “The Green Leopard Plaque”, plus a Sidewise Award for “Foreign Devils”.
Born October 2, 1954 — Diane Carey, 68. A major contributor to the Trek multiverse of novel. I mean really, really major contributor. I learned there are lines of Trek novels that I never knew existed. She uses three pen names (Lydia Gregory, Diane Carey, and D. L. Carey) which helps when you’re pumping out a lot of product. She has novels in the Original Series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Enterprise. So nothing surprising there you say. Then under Diane Carey, she has the New Earth series and there’s at three other series which extrapolate off the existing series. She also did a novel about Kirk as a cadet at Starfleet Academy.
(8) WESTERCON ARCHIVES. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] The minutes of the 2022 Westercon Business Meeting, the current Westercon Bylaws as of the end of Westercon 74, and links to the video recordings of the Westercon 74 Business Meeting and the Committee of the Whole on 2024 Westercon Site Selection are now posted on the updated Westercon Business page at http://www.westercon.org/organization/business/
In Leni Lauritsch’s gritty sci-fi thriller “Rubikon,” the final frontier could well be humankind’s last refuge.
The film, which stars Julia Franz Richter, Georg Blagden (“Versailles”) and Mark Ivanir, screens in the Zurich Film Festival’s Focus Competition.
Set in a dark future in which a polluted and barely sustainable Earth is plagued by corporate armies battling for depleting resources as the wealthy live in air domes that protect them from the contaminated atmosphere, the story centers on three astronauts aboard the space station Rubikon, where scientists have developed a possible means of survival, a sustainable algae project to provide oxygen and food….
Some historical battle re-enactors in New York are holding their musket fire because of worries over the state’s new gun rules — an unplanned side effect of a law designed to protect the public’s safety.
The law that went into effect this month declares parks, government property and a long list of other “sensitive” places off limits to guns. The rules were geared more for semiautomatic pistols than flintlock weapons, but re-enactors who fear being arrested if they publicly re-stage battles from the colonial era to the Civil War are staying off the field.
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration insists that historical battle re-enactments are still OK, and some have still taken place this month. But persistent skepticism among event organizers and participants has resulted in some cancellations, like an 18th century encampment and battle re-enactment planned for last weekend north of Saratoga Springs.
“We’ve been getting reports from units that were supposed to attend that they don’t feel comfortable transporting muskets or bringing muskets to the site,” said Harold Nicholson, a re-enactor involved in the event at Rogers Island. “And so at that point, we decided that it was probably best not to (go ahead).”
The consternation stems from a law quickly approved after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated New York’s requirement that people must demonstrate an unusual threat to their safety to qualify for a license to carry a handgun outside their homes.
Hochul and her fellow Democrats in control of the state Legislature responded with a law that set strict new licensing criteria and limited where handguns, shotguns and rifles can be carried. Some re-enactors looking at the letter of the law have concluded the old-style weapons they use could place them in the crosshairs of the new rules….
One side depicts the tentacled head of Cthulhu above the sea. Its tentacles are wrapped around a sailing ship, which is tiny in comparison; in the field incuse 2022.
The other side features numerous tangled tentacles, and between them the silhouette-like portrait of H.P. Lovecraft. Legend H. P. LOVECRAFT / 1890 / 1937. Above, the coat of arms of Palau with the circumscription REPUBLIC OF PALAU 20 $.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Kevin Standlee, Steve Vertlieb, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]
By Kevin Standlee.[Note: This was originally posted on my Dreamwidth journal and my Facebook page, as a reaction to debate on other people’s pages and elsewhere. I feel comfortable discussing it because it seems unlikely to me that such a set of changes would be introduced at the 2023 WSFS Business Meeting, where I have been announced as the Deputy Chair. It seems to be that the earliest such proposals could come before the Business Meeting is 2024.]
I find myself explaining the changes to membership in the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) and the conditions for attending the World Science Fiction Convention that were ratified this year in Chicago (and thus are now in effect, because this was the second vote on the changes). I think some people assume that I’m 100% in favor of them or that I even authored them, neither of which are true.
The Non-Transferrability Amendment
The 2022 WSFS Business Meeting ratified a change to the WSFS Constitution that renamed the existing Supporting Membership of Worldcon as a “WSFS membership” and the existing Attending membership as the “Attending supplement.” It was Item E.5 of the 2022 WSFS Business Meeting agenda. This is the proposal that first passed as item F.6 of the 2021 WSFS Business Meeting. (See minutes here. The 2021 minutes includes the makers’ original supporting arguments. Video recordings of the debates in 2021 and 2022 are available from the YouTube Worldcon Events channel.)
The effect of the change is that what was the Supporting membership is now your membership in the World Science Fiction Society, and that WSFS memberships cannot be transferred to other people. What was an Attending Membership is now a WSFS membership + an Attending Supplement. You can transfer an Attending Supplement to someone; however, they can only use it to attend Worldcon if they also have a WSFS membership. Worldcon is the annual meeting of WSFS, and therefore you have to be a member of WSFS to attend it. If you have a WSFS membership, you can use your WSFS voting rights (nominate/vote for the Hugo Awards, participate in Site Selection), and if you have a WSFS membership + Attending Supplement, you can also attend Worldcon and also participate in the WSFS Business Meeting held at Worldcon. If you have an Attending supplement without a WSFS membership, you cannot attend Worldcon because you have to have a WSFS membership as well.
This change has agitated and confused many people. Some people think it is selling a Worldcon admission on its own, which is not quite true because you still have to have a WSFS (old supporting) membership to go with it in order to use it. As Dave Howell put it in debate this year, the Attending Supplement is like an expansion package to an existing game; you can’t play the expansion by itself — you have to have the game.
It seems that this change has caught a lot of people, including people who attend many Worldcons and who have attended the Business Meeting, by surprise. Some appear to consider themselves blindsided by the change, even though it has gone through the full process of two consecutive years’ meetings and is now the rule of WSFS. When it was ratified, I heard many people saying, “Well, we’ll just have to try and vote it down next year,” and they seemed highly surprised that it had already had first passage. Now I think part of this comes from those people who opposed the change not doing a very good job of communicating what the change was. It passed both years, but not overwhelmingly so. First passage passed 35-22, and ratification passed 46-40.
How WSFS is Governed
Every year, after each Worldcon, we hear many people complaining about some action the Business Meeting took, and it seems that every year people start talking about changing how the WSFS rules are changed. Maybe I’m wrong, but most of them seem to be versions of “Let people vote by proxy” or “Have a gigantic zoom call so everyone can participate.”
Personally, I think the governance structure of WSFS is not fit for purpose anymore. Currently, WSFS is governed by the WSFS Business Meeting, a “town meeting” form of government under which any WSFS member who can attend Worldcon may attend, propose changes, debate, and vote on those changes. I think a membership organization that has had upwards of 10,000 members (many of whom cannot attend the annual meeting) is not well served by this system. Indeed, I was not surprised to read that there are people who assume that there is a WSFS Board of Directors that makes all of the Real Decisions anyway.
My preferred solution would be to replace the “town meeting” governance with an elected representative government model that I call the Council of WSFS. I suggest 21 members (roughly the cube root of 10,000; Google “cube root rule” for why I think it’s a good number). All of the members of WSFS, including the non-attending members, could elect members to this Council. We would elect 7 members each year, for three-year terms.
Initially, I would replace all of the “Business Meeting” references with “Council of WSFS.” That is, the Council would meet at Worldcon, and it would be the body that initiates changes to the WSFS Constitution. However, instead of two consecutive years’ Council meetings at Worldcon being necessary to change the Constitution, I would require that changes passed by the Council in Year 1 be put to a vote of members of WSFS of the Worldcon in Year 2, run in parallel with (but not on the same ballot) as the Hugo Awards Final Ballot. The results of ratification votes would be announced in advance of the Worldcon in Year 2. Yes, this does mean that only people who join WSFS before the Hugo/Ratification voting deadline could participate in the election.
This is not WSFS Inc. And even if it was, it wouldn’t run Worldcons.
WSFS WOULD NOT SELECT SITES. WSFS WOULD NOT BE THE LEGAL ENTITY RUNNING WORLDCONS. I stress this because I’ve already seen people assuming that this new governance model would be the World Science Fiction Society, Incorporated., with a full-time professional paid staff, and that it would be the operating entity of all Worldcons. That would be foolish. WSFS doesn’t operate Worldcons now; it (in effect) licenses the right to hold them to operating committees, and I see no reason to change this.
WSFS’s Intellectual Property
The World Science Fiction Society owns service marks (“Worldcon,” “The Hugo Awards,” and others). Technically, WSFS (an unincorporated literary society) owns the marks in the USA only, as that is how it’s registered by the US Patent & Trademark Office.
In places that do not recognize unincorporated associations as entities that can hold title to service marks — in practice, everwhere except the USA — there is a legal entity: Worldcon Intellectual Property (WIP). WIP is a California public benefit non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation whose board of directors is by definition the members of the WSFS Mark Protection Committee, plus when necessary a non-voting member resident of California when none of the MPC members are California residents. (The WIP bylaws require at least one Californian on its board.) This would not change under a Council of WSFS as proposed here. The Council would still elect members to the MPC. Worldcons and NASFiCs would still appoint members to the MPC. The MPC would still continue to manage and protect WSFS’s intellectual property.
Now we could actually shadow-implement part of this soon: Have Worldcons conduct a non-binding poll of their members in parallel with their final Hugo Award voting, with the results published before Worldcon. That doesn’t require any constitutional changes, and would not be binding upon the existing Business Meeting, but would at least give the non-attending members (and those attending Worldcon who can’t/won’t attend hours of Business Meetings a change to express their opinions.
Proxies and Remote Participation
I am deeply opposed to proxy voting, and think that trying to run a remote-participation meeting that could have thousands of attendees is impractical, even if you could conceivably set up a multi-thousand person Zoom call to try and do it. Direct democracy is very difficult to implement when you get that large, and besides, most of the existing members of Worldcon do not want to invest that much of their time into that level of governance anyway. At most, they want to vote on things without being bothered with all of that tedious debate and rules neepery. I think we as a society would be better served by implementing a way for all of our members to have some voice in the process without forcing anyone who really wants to make any difference give up a large proportion of their Worldcon to do so.