(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]
Hai Ya TV interviews
CGTN posted a 3½-minute subtitled interview on YouTube with the Best Novelette winner.
Jiang Bo also mentioned on Weibo that he’d been interviewed by a TV station in Chengdu, but I’ve not come across any online copy of it.
Robert J. Sawyer speaking at Shanghai bookshop
Per his Facebook, post-Worldcon Robert J. Sawyer embarked on a short signing tour of China. From Bilibili, here’s a short clip from an event at a Shanghai bookshop, where the aforementioned Hugo finalist Jiang Bo also spoke.
Con reports and commentary
(All of the following quotes/extracts are via Google Translate, with minor manual edits.)
In fact, I think this science fiction conference is very similar to Chinese society at this moment, really. Officials are trying to use high-tech digitization and high costs and manpower to create a beautiful, orderly, lively and technologically advanced conference that can bring business benefits and long-term development. However, when it is actually held, various unexpected events and problems will always occur…
But can I put it it? My thoughts are very similar to those of many science fiction writers. No matter how many shortcomings this World Science Fiction Convention has, and how many things are worthy of repeated complaints, after it is over, you will still feel like it was a grand and fantastical event when you think about it again. It’s a sweet dream that you still want to relive over and over again. You still hope that China will have the opportunity to do it again, and you firmly believe that it will be better than this time next time.
(Including La Zi [aka Hugo finalist Latssep], who complained to me during the convention that he was too tired and never wants to hold it again. I believe he must be thinking about this convention again and again. Of course, I also believe that he will not want to be an organizer next time it is held. He just wants to be a guest.)
SF Light Year’s Weibo posts, covered in detail in yesterday’s Scroll, prompted a number of replies, including:
In a “quote tweet”, Baoshu, writer of a Three-Body Problem sequel, and also translator of Olaf Stapledon’s Star Maker, talked about the hotel situation
In fact, if you can’t [get all con attendees] in one hotel, it’s normal to split it between several hotels. You would need to split it up anywhere. But the problem was the location. There was only one hotel nearby, and the others were seven or eight kilometers away. The round-trip time difference was one hour.
He also “quote tweeted” to make a more general observation:
It is reasonable to say that as this was the first time to hold this convention, so some problems were inevitable, but the problems were so deep that they are indeed a little more than “inevitable”… [laughing and crying emoji]
In another “quote tweet” of an SF Light Year post, Ling Shizhen, who also accepted the Best Fanzine Hugo for Zero Gravity News, said:
As one of the finalists for this year’s Hugo Awards I did not receive any active invitation from the organizers until September 21st this year, after I had asked the relevant people for help to inform the organizers.
Fan Bessie-Gu in turn “quote-tweeted” that Baoshu “QT”, but said that
You can click on SF Light Year’s Weibo to read his first two articles, but my personal experience was still very happy
When I came back from Chengdu on the 22nd, I went directly from the airport to my workplace, and stayed in the office. I took my first bath in six days today. When the hot water soaked my body, I felt that I was alive. I couldn’t help but be pleasantly surprised. This past week has been intense, even thrilling. And I also had a premonition that I didn’t dare to go home. As a science fiction writer, I see history happening in the future, and as a journalist, I witness history happening now. Here lies the humbleness of human beings and the fragility of life. Reading Jiang Bo’s new work “Sky Sail” and Mo Xiong’s new work “Sequence of Destiny”, I lament the mystery of the universe and the elusiveness of the truth. Last night I dreamed that the science fiction convention was held again, and I gave a speech at the opening ceremony, but I couldn’t remember the content. After waking up, I couldn’t tell which one was more science fictional, reality or science fiction.
The Puppies controversy mentioned in a news item about the Hugos
A Chinese-language video compiling a variety of news stories posted to Weibo on Saturday 28th included as its final item a piece on the Hugos (from around 10:00 onwards). It initially covers Hai Ya, but goes on to talk about Cixin Liu’s win for The Three-Body Problem, and then the background with the Sad and Rabid Puppies, and Marko Kloos recusing himself, opening up a slot for Three-Body Problem to become a Hugo finalist and then a winner.
(2) FIVE NIGHTS DELIVERS BOFFO B.O. The New York Times declares “Film Based on Horror-Survival Video Game Is Surprise Box Office Hit”.
An evil pizzeria mascot, Freddy Fazbear, became a surprise box office sensation over the weekend, reinforcing a message that moviegoers have been sending to Hollywood all year: Give us something new.
“Five Nights at Freddy’s” sold an estimated $78 million in tickets at theaters in the United States and Canada from Thursday night to Sunday — a total that prompted double-takes in Hollywood because the movie did not play exclusively in theaters. “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” which was based on a popular horror-survival video game, also arrived on the Peacock streaming service on Thursday.
“This is more confirmation that moviegoers are looking for something new or, to be precise, getting the chance to see something they love already appear in a movie theater for the first time,” said Bruce Nash, founder of the Numbers, a box office tracking and analytics site.
In contrast, “The Exorcist: Believer,” an effort to revive a 50-year-old horror franchise, flopped in exclusive release in theaters earlier this month, collecting just $26.5 million over its first three days….
(3) NEW BERTH. “Captain Nemo Series ‘Nautilus’ To Air On AMC After Disney+ Cancelation” reports Deadline.
Nautilus, the ten-part series inspired by Jules Verne’s beloved Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, has found a new home.
The series has landed at AMC, where it will air in 2024 as well as on AMC+. The move comes after the Disney+ UK commission was axed by the streamer earlier this summer as part of its content removal plan.
Nautilus tells the origin story of Captain Nemo: an Indian Prince robbed of his birthright and family, a prisoner of the East India Mercantile Company and a man bent on revenge against the forces that have taken everything from him….
(4) SENSITIVITY EDITING FOR HEYER. “‘You Can’t Hide It’: Georgette Heyer and the Perils of Posthumous Revision” in the New York Times.
…Among her ardent fans, though, she remains revered as the Queen of Regency Romance, a subgenre she essentially created and popularized. Her intricately researched historical narratives are still widely read nearly 50 years after her death; Julia Quinn, whose Regency romance series “Bridgerton” spawned the hit Netflix series, called her “the original.”
To date, Heyer’s books have sold around 20 million copies. But some readers have questioned her enduring popularity in light of offensive ethnic and antisemitic stereotypes that occasionally appeared in her work.
Most troubling to readers is her 1950 Regency romance “The Grand Sophy.” In a pivotal scene, the novel’s heroine confronts a greedy, villainous moneylender named Goldhanger, who is described as a “swarthy individual, with long, greasy curls, a semitic nose, and an ingratiating leer.”
“It’s not a stray comment, it’s a whole antisemitic scene,” said the romance novelist Cat Sebastian, who has read all of Heyer’s romances. “If I recommend her books, it’s with a lot of caveats.”
When Heyer’s American publisher, Sourcebooks, decided to release new editions of her romances this year, they had to strike a precarious balance. Leaving the original scene could repel some readers. But changing it risked provoking a backlash from fans and scholars who see posthumous revisions as a form of literary reputation laundering, or censorship.
After a lengthy back and forth with the Heyer estate, Sourcebooks made small but significant changes to “The Grand Sophy.” In the new version, the moneylender’s name has been changed to Grimpstone. References to his Jewish identity and appearance have been deleted, along with other negative generalizations about Jews.
Acknowledgment of the changes appears on the copyright page, which says “this edition has been edited from the original with permission of the Georgette Heyer Estate.”…
(5) SPHERES FOR FEARS. Christopher Cokinos tells LA Times readers that “’The War of the Worlds’ is much more than scary sci-fi”.
…Today, worries about an attack from the sky reach beyond fiction. No less than physicist Stephen Hawking has warned against humans advertising our presence in the cosmos because our messages could alert hostile beings. The U.S. government now takes seriously reports of UFOs or, in current parlance, “unidentified anomalous phenomena.” (In a twist, some say that if sightings of fast-moving, physics-defying objects are real, the best case would be that they are extraterrestrial. If not, it means other governments have technology America does not.)
Since “The War of the Worlds,” we’ve taken extraterrestrial hostility for granted. We didn’t always.
Wells wrote at the tail end of what was called the “plurality of worlds” debate. Once Galileo showed that Earth’s moon was a physical place and that Jupiter had multiple moons, a theological and philosophical question emerged: Would God waste other worlds by leaving them empty of life? The answer then was probably not. Instead, the expectation was that they’d be populated by beings more intelligent and more rational than Earthlings. There were utopias in the sky! Secular angels!
Wells turned that assumption on its head and used it to convey harsh truths about colonialism and to illustrate fears of war. “The War of the Worlds” explicitly referenced how European colonists waged a near-genocidal campaign against the Indigenous inhabitants of Tasmania. The story also played off worries that a belligerent Germany, even in the late 19th century, could invade England….
(6) NEW FED AI REGS COMING. “Biden to Issue First Regulations on Artificial Intelligence Systems” reports the New York Times.
President Biden will issue an executive order on Monday outlining the federal government’s first regulations on artificial intelligence systems. They include requirements that the most advanced A.I. products be tested to assure that they cannot be used to produce biological or nuclear weapons, with the findings from those tests reported to the federal government.
The testing requirements are a small but central part of what Mr. Biden, in a speech scheduled for Monday afternoon, is expected to describe as the most sweeping government action to protect Americans from the potential risks brought by the huge leaps in A.I. over the past several years.
The regulations will include recommendations, but not requirements, that photos, videos and audio developed by such systems be watermarked to make clear that they were created by A.I. That reflects a rising fear that A.I. will make it far easier to create “deep fakes” and convincing disinformation, especially as the 2024 presidential campaign accelerates….
(7) A GOOD DEAL OF DRAGONS. “’Fourth Wing’ TV Show Coming to Amazon, ‘Iron Flame’ Sequel Rights” – Variety reports the option.
A “Fourth Wing” TV show based on Rebecca Yarros’ best-selling fantasy book series is in the works at Amazon MGM Studios.
Amazon and Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society, which has an overall deal with the studio, have acquired the rights to not only “Fourth Wing,” but its follow-up “Iron Flame,” which will be released Nov. 7, and the three remaining planned books in Yarros’ “Fourth Wing”-universe, “The Empyrean” book series, from Entangled Publishing….
(8) HIROAKI IKE DIES. Translator Hiroaki Ike passed away on October 27, 2023 the Science Fiction Writers of Japan announced today.
…He was 83 years old. The genres are wide-ranging, and in science fiction, works such as J.P. Hogan’s “Star of the Giants” series (Tokyo Sogensha) and Carl Sagan’s “Contact” (Shincho Bunko) (starting with “Heir to the Stars”) It is known for.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born October 30, 1896 — Ruth Gordon. You’ll likely best remember her as Minnie Castevet in Rosemary’s Baby. (Trust me, you don’t need to see Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby.) She’s quite excellent as Cecilia Weiss in The Great Houdini, and that pretty much sums up her genre work save Voyage of the Rock Aliens which keeps giving me giggles. Serious giggles. (Died 1985.)
- Born October 30, 1923 — William Campbell. In “The Squire of Gothos” on Trek — a proper Halloween episode even if it wasn’t broadcast then — he was Trelane, and in “The Trouble With Tribbles” he played the Klingon Koloth, a role revisited on Deep Space Nine in “Blood Oath”. He appeared in several horror films including Blood Bath, Night of Evil, and Dementia 13. He started a fan convention which ran for several years, Fantasticon, which celebrated the achievements of production staffers in genre films and TV shows and raised funds for the Motion Picture & Television Fund, a charitable organization which provides assistance and care to those in the motion picture industry with limited or no resources, when struck with infirmity and/or in retirement age. (Died 2011.)
- Born October 30, 1939 — Grace Slick, 84. Initially performing with the Great Society, Slick achieved fame as the lead singer and front woman of Jefferson Airplane and then with Jefferson. “Hyperdrive” off their Dragonfly album was used at the MidAmeriCon opening ceremonies. And Blows Against the Empire was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation at Noreascon 1, a year that had no winner.
- Born October 30, 1947 — Tim Kirk, 76. His senior thesis would be mostly published by Ballantine Books as the 1975 Tolkien Calendar. Impressive. Even more impressive, he won Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist at Heicon ’70, L.A. Con I, Torcon II, Discon II and again at MidAmeriCon. With Ken Keller, he co-designed the first cold-cast resin base used at MidAmeriCon. He also won a Balrog and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award as well.
- Born October 30, 1951 — Harry Hamlin, 72. His first role of genre interest was Perseus on Clash of The Titans. He plays himself in Maxie, and briefly shows up in Harper’s Island. He also has two choice voice roles in Batman: the Animated Series, Cameron Kaiser in “Joker’s Wild” and even more impressive as the voice of werewolf Anthony “Tony” Romulus in “Moon of the Wolf”. Since I know a lot of you like the series, I’ll note he plays Aaron Echolls in Veronica Mars. It isn’t genre, is it?
- Born October 30, 1951 — P. Craig Russell, 71. Illustrator whose work has won multiple Harvey and Eisner Awards. His work on Killraven, a future version of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, collaborating with writer Don McGregor, was lauded by readers and critics alike. (Yes, that a page from it below.) Next up was mainstream work at DC with I think his work on Batman, particularly with Jim Starlin. He also inked Mike Mignola’s pencils on the Phantom Stranger series. He would segue into working on several Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné projects. Worth noting is his work on a number of Gaiman projects including a Coraline graphic novel. Wayne Alan Harold Productions published the P. Craig Russell Sketchbook Archives, a 250+-page hardcover art book featuring the best of his personal sketchbooks.
- Born October 30, 1958 — Max McCoy, 65. Here for a quartet of novels (Indiana Jones and the Secret of the Sphinx, Indiana Jones and the Hollow Earth, Indiana Jones and the Dinosaur Eggs and Indiana Jones and the Philosopher’s Stone) which flesh out the back story and immerse him in a pulp reality. He’s also writing Wylde’s West, a paranormal mystery series.
- Born October 30, 1972 — Jessica Hynes, 51. Playing Joan Redfern, she shows up on two of the very best Tenth Doctor stories, “Human Nuture” and “The Family of Blood”. She’d play another character, Verity Newman in a meeting of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, “The End of Time, Part Two”. Her other genre role was as Felia Siderova on Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) in the “Mental Apparition Disorder” and “Drop Dead” episodes. Her last genre adjacent role is Sofie Dahl in Roald & Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse.
(10) A MEETING OF MANLY MEN. Bill Higgins told X readers: “Perhaps the night before Halloween is a good time to retweet the story of The Weirdest Thing That Happened To Me At The American Library Association Conference. A bit spooky, but it has a very happy ending.” The thread starts here.
(11) ORIGINS OF HALLOWEEN. With the help of past Horror Writers Association President Lisa Morton, the “NPR history podcast ‘Throughline’ examines the rise of Halloween’s popularity”.
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
Does this sound familiar? Mid-October, buy Halloween candy. Mid-October, begin eating Halloween candy. October 30, buy more Halloween candy. The holiday is now a multibillion-dollar industry, but Halloween traces its roots back about 2,000 years to the Irish countryside and a spiritual celebration known as Samhain. So how did Halloween get so commercial? We turn to the hosts of NPR’s history podcast, Throughline, Rund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei.
RAMTIN ARABLOUEI, BYLINE: Halloween in early 20th-century America was a holiday just for kids, a night all about mischief and pranks.
LISA MORTON: These pranks are perpetrated mainly by young boys. And the pranks start kind of innocent.
RUND ABDELFATAH, HOST:
That’s Lisa Morton, author of three books on the history of Halloween….
(12) LUGOSI’S LIFE. A biographical profile of an iconic actor: “Behind the Scenes of Dracula: Bela Lugosi’s Journey Into (And Out Of) Stardom” at Audiophix.
…Once Lugosi was 18 years old (in 1900) he knew he was going to pursue a life in the arts. He began his stage work in the early 1900s and found steady work traveling theater companies. This gave him opportunities to take part in plays, operas, and operettas.
But it was in 1913 that he caught his big break at the Budapest-based National Theater of Hungary. The company cast him in over 30 of their shows, in which he played parts like Rosencrantz in Hamlet and Sir Walter Herbert in Richard III. This humble beginning would later take the actor on much bigger career paths….
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Disneyland Unveils Test Droids Roaming The Theme Park – Will This End Well?” Why not? What I see in this video reminds me a lot of the duck parade at the Peabody Hotel.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]