(1) COSINE COMMUNITY. COSine 2023, the Colorado Springs Science Fiction Convention, will be held January 20-22. Guests of honor include author Martha Wells, science guests Drs. Louise & James Gunderson, Experts in Robotics & Artificial Intelligence, artist Kyle Crutcher, a Retro-Futurist Potter, and special guests Connie Willis and Courtney Willis.
Their latest news letter also calls attention to the needs of their Artist Guest of Honor from 2020, Peri Charlifu, who is having some health issues. Although he (and his amazing pottery) will still be at COSine this year, it looks like he is going to be dealing with a lot in 2023. There is a GoFundMe running for those who’d like to help out: “Peri’s Medical Support Fund ~ Stage Four”.
In late December 2022, Peri shared with us that “I have been dealing with kidney failure for a while now. My last trip to the nephrologist was not a great one. She’s moved me into stage four renal failure and I’m looking at dialysis soon, maybe as soon as next year. I have some options, but in any case, it will mean a pretty big change to my life. Whatever kind of dialysis I elect to pursue, I will need some sort of surgery, and if I can get a transplant, I will also need major surgery. This will critically impact my work schedule, I will be unable to work in my studio and I will not be able to throw or do any type of kiln or glaze work. So I need to make as much inventory now as I can, so I have something to send to shows while I’m convalescing. Because of this, I will not be as active at conventions, in programming or in running the art shows. I hope you all understand. Thank you, I’m optimistic that I’ll eventually be OK.”
(2) ADVICE FROM THE STARS. The LA Review of Books says “Hurray for Inventing New Genres or Whatever: On Dr. Moiya McTier’s ‘The Milky Way’”.
LOOKING FOR a New Year’s resolution? According to Dr. Moiya McTier, the Milky Way galaxy has a few for you: “Ask questions about the world around you and find real answers to them. Decide you deserve better and fight to clean your sky of all kinds of pollution — trust me, I’m worth it. Or make beautiful art that people can talk about long after you’ve shuffled off your particular mortal coil.”
If that seems like a lot for one year, don’t worry. The Milky Way is on a tight schedule, so it has condensed a galactic lifetime of advice and insight into a compact book entitled The Milky Way: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy. “My telling you this story — my story — is a gift,” the Milky Way reminds its readers, “[i]t’s like Beyoncé taking time out of her ‘busy’ schedule to personally give you singing lessons.” But who is the Milky Way galaxy to invoke Beyoncé, tell us how to live, or, for that matter, talk at all? And why is it speaking out now?
…McTier, the author behind the Milky Way’s voice, became the first Black woman to earn her PhD in astronomy at Columbia after majoring in astrophysics along with folklore and mythology at Harvard. She has since built a career in science communication and storytelling that includes collaborations with PBS and Disney. In an interview for this publication, McTier described the Milky Way as a “larger-than-life character” who “looks at us and sees a homogeneous group.” She elaborated that “the idea that there are different types of humans is absurd to the galaxies,” but to McTier, who grew up in a log cabin in rural Pennsylvania, this idea was a formative influence. The autobiography’s foreword reveals how, in a community that “had only ever seen a Black person on TV,” McTier looked to the sun and moon as her imaginary parents and emotional support system. …
(3) UPHILL ALL THE WAY. The Washington Post looks at “Why it took 43 years to bring ‘Kindred’ to TV”.
Fans and critics can’t yet decide on the success of FX’s take on Octavia E. Butler’s “Kindred,” calling it “thrilling” but “uneven,” “provocative” yet “skimpy.” But there’s one thing they do agree on.
“It’s about damn time,” said author and film historian Tananarive Due, echoing the long-bottled frustration of Butlerphiles who have been waiting patiently (and somewhat hesitantly) for one of her most popular stories to make the leap from page to screen. Nearly 43 years after the novel’s publication and 16 years after Butler’s untimely death at 58, “Kindred’s” arrival on Hulu last month was a result of political movements, box-office trends, and a bit of luck.
Since its debut in 1979, Kindred has been “optioned” — industry parlance for the nascent stage of adaptation — in one form or another. Almost 20 years later, celebrated playwright Branden Jacob Jenkins discovered the novel as a tween on a shelf at Sister Space, a D.C. indie bookstore centering Black female authors and stories. It’d be another two decades before Jacob Jenkins, the series creator, would see his interpretation of Butler’s work available to binge on Hulu. The process wasn’t just long, it was Sisyphean.
“I like to say it’s a miracle whenever a Black property makes it to the screen because Hollywood is very risk adverse,” explained Due, who has firsthand knowledge of the improbability of the book-to-TV pipeline. Back in the mid-2000s, Due pitched an adaptation of her novel “The Good House,” about family history entwined with a haunted house. During one such meeting, an executive asked if the Black characters centered in her story “had to be Black.”
“That’s what Octavia was up against,” Due said. “No matter how much her work was beloved, the gatekeepers were not looking for stories in the speculative realm featuring Black characters. No one was asking for that. Hollywood was always an uphill climb and a hard sell.”
(4) SPELL CHECKING. It’s a big trend — “Spellbound: why ‘witch lit’ is the hottest new genre on our bookshelves” — and the Guardian looks for answers.
Someone, or something, shadowy has put a strong spell on popular literature aimed at women, once cheekily labelled “chick lit”. This perky genre, packaged in bright covers, jauntily titled and so long a mainstay of the publishing industry, has been slowly transforming into something darker and rich with sorcery, with 2023 set to be a new high point in a growing “witch lit” trend.
“Witches are definitely a big thing, which is exciting and fun,” said Phoebe Morgan, a publisher at Hodder Fiction, “but it also has something to do with a sense that women’s rights are in danger of being stripped away again, with things like the overturning of Roe v Wade in America. These books are often concerned with pregnancy, abortion and abuse, as well as magic.”
Several big forthcoming titles in the adult women’s market are concerned with witches and witchcraft, with female persecution developing as a main theme. Next month, Emilia Hart’s much-heralded Weyward will hit bookshops, telling an epic story of three generations of women entangled with magic. But space around the bubbling cauldron is already crowded. Kirsty Logan’s Now She Is Witch will already have staked its place, with publication this week….
(5) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport offers a free story by Sarah Rees Brennan, “Tears Waiting to Be Diamonds: Part One”.
… “Make haste, my prince,” warned Hrim. “Your uncle has risen against your father and usurped the throne. Your father and brothers met axe blades in the dark, wielded by the lovers your uncle placed by their sides. Your sisters’ nurses were bribed, their defenses are breached. You’re the last hope.”…
(6) DOT’S ALL, FOLKS! Clive Thompson discusses “What I Learned About My Writing By Seeing Only The Punctuation” at Medium, and shared an online gadget where you can run your own tests — just the punctuation. (An item via Steven H Silver that dates to 2021.)
…I love this concept! And he’s right — when you look at those writers’ punctuation, you can see, in a quick glance, how different they are.
They’re also gorgeous graphics — you want to print them up, hang them on your wall, tweet them out. Calhoun himself was originally inspired by a series of posters that stripped out the punctuation of famous novels and arrayed them in a spiral. When I tweeted about Calhoun’s project last month it quickly spread far and wide — I realized that a lot of people find punctuation-analysis both revealing and beautiful….
Here’s what was distilled from a couple pages of my own fanwriting.
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1907 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] L. Frank Baum’s Ozma of Oz
Today’s essay is upon an extended quote from L. Frank Baum’s Ozma of Oz: A Record of Her Adventures with Dorothy Gale of Kansas, Billina the Yellow Hen, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger; Besides Other Good People Too Numerous to Mention Faithfully Recorded Herein. Yes, that is the actual title. Forty words I believe. Somebody tell Scott Edelman.
It was published on July 30, 1907 by Reilly & Britton who published all of the Oz novels. It was officially the third book of Baum’s Oz series. It was the first in which Baum was indicated that there would be a series of Oz novels of which there would eventually be fourteen.
The book was illustrated lavishly in color by John R. Neill.
Did you know Reilly & Lee, the American publisher who was very desperate to keep the series going, selected Ruth Plumly Thompson to continue the series? So she wrote another nineteen, followed by three Oz books written by John R. Neill, two by Jack Snow and one each by Rachel Cosgrove Payes and by Eloise Jarvis McGraw & her daughter. Wow.
It bears this dedication: “To all the boys and girls who read my stories – and especially to the Dorothys – this book is lovingly dedicated.”
And here’s the quote I selected which is a delightful look at lunch box trees:
One was quite full of square paper boxes, which grew in clusters on all the limbs, and upon the biggest and ripest boxes the word “Lunch” could be read, in neat raised letters. This tree seemed to bear all the year around, for there were lunch-box blossoms on some of the branches, and on others tiny little lunch-boxes that were as yet quite green, and evidently not fit to eat until they had grown bigger.
The leaves of this tree were all paper napkins, and it presented a very pleasing appearance to the hungry little girl.
But the tree next to the lunch-box tree was even more wonderful, for it bore quantities of tin dinner-pails, which were so full and heavy that the stout branches bent underneath their weight. Some were small and dark-brown in color; those larger were of a dull tin color; but the really ripe ones were pails of bright tin that shone and glistened beautifully in the rays of sunshine that touched them.
Dorothy was delighted, and even the yellow hen acknowledged that she was surprised.
The little girl stood on tip-toe and picked one of the nicest and biggest lunch-boxes, and then she sat down upon the ground and eagerly opened it. Inside she found, nicely wrapped in white papers, a ham sandwich, a piece of sponge-cake, a pickle, a slice of new cheese and an apple. Each thing had a separate stem, and so had to be picked off the side of the box; but Dorothy found them all to be delicious, and she ate every bit of luncheon in the box before she had finished.
“A lunch isn’t zactly breakfast,” she said to Billina, who sat beside her curiously watching. “But when one is hungry one can eat even supper in the morning, and not complain.”
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born January 8, 1908 — William Hartnell. The very first Doctor who appeared when Doctor Who originally aired on November 23rd, 1963. He would be the Doctor for three years leaving when a new Showrunner came on. He played The Doctor once more during the tenth anniversary story The Three Doctors (aired 1972–73) which was the last thing he filmed before his death. I scanned through the usual sources but didn’t find any other genre listing for him. Is that correct? (Died 1975.)
- Born January 8, 1925 — Steve Holland. Did you know there was a short lived Flash Gordon series, thirty-one episodes in 1954 – 1955 to be precise? I didn’t until I discovered the Birthday for the lead in this show today. Except for four minor roles, this was his entire TV career. Biography in “Flash Gordon: Journey to Greatness” would devote an entire show to him and this series. (Died 1997.)
- Born January 8, 1941 — Boris Vallejo, 82. Illustrator whose artwork has appeared on myriad genre publications. Subjects of his paintings were gods, hideous monsters, well-muscled male swordsmen and scantily clad females. Early illustrations of Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian and Doc Savage established him as an illustrator.
- Born January 8, 1942 — Stephen Hawking. Y’all know who he is, but did you know that Nimoy was responsible for his appearance as a holographic representation of himself in the “Descent” episode on Next Gen? He also guest starred in Futuruma and had a recurring role on The Big Bang Theory. Just before his death, he was the voice of The Book on the new version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series. (Died 2018.)
- Born January 8, 1947 — David Bowie. First SF role was as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth. He plays The Shark in Yellowbeard, a film that Monty Python should have produced but didn’t. Next up is the superb Labyrinth where he was Jareth the Goblin King, a role perfect for him. There’s a sixty scale figure from Hot Toys that is stellar. He shows up again in The Hunger later on as The Host. From that role, he went on to being Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ, an amazing role by the way. He was in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me as FBI Agent Phillip Jeffries, a role which was his last role when he appeared later in the Twin Peaks series. He also played Nikola Tesla in The Prestige from Christopher Priest’s novel of the same name. (Died 2016.)
- Born January 8, 1977 — Amber Benson, 46. Best known for her role as Tara Maclay on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her post-BtVS genre credits are scant with a bit of work on Supernatural, a Sci-fi Channel film called Gryphon, a web series called The Morganville Vampires and, I kid you not, a film called One-Eyed Monster which is about an adult film crew encountering monsters. She is by the way a rather good writer. She’s written a number of books, some with Christopher Golden such as the Ghosts of Albion series and The Seven Whistlers novel which I read when Subterranean Press sent it to Green Man for review. Her Calliope Reaper-Jones series is quite excellent too.
- Born January 8, 1979 — Sarah Polley, 44. H’h what did I first see her in? Ahhhh she was in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen! Let’s see what else she’s done… She’s been in the animated Babar: The Movie, Existenz, No Such Thing (which is based very loosely on Beowulf), Dawn of the Dead, Beowulf & Grendel (well sort of based on the poem but, errr, artistic license was taken) and Mr. Nobody.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- That’s Doctor to you — Eek!
(10) APES THAT PULL RUGS. “Mutant Ape Planet NFT developer charged with fraud in Brooklyn federal court”, and the Brooklyn Eagle is there.
A developer of the NFT known as Mutant Ape Planet was charged in the Eastern District of New York for allegedly defrauding investors of $2.9 million. Aurelien Michel, a 24-year-old, French national who lives in Dubai, was charged with defrauding purchasers of his non-fungible token (NFT), a type of digital asset, of more than $2.9 million. Michel was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday night and appeared before Magistrate Judge James Cho on Thursday.
… Rug pulls have become a common scheme for sellers of NFTs, but this would be one of the biggest ever as it would potentially be bigger than the Big Daddy Ape Club, that allegedly cost investors $1.3 million at the time, the Baller Ape Club, that allegedly cost investors $2.6 million….
(11) IT’S NOT PRINCE SPAGHETTI DAY. No matter how saucy it gets. Vulture is delighted to report, “’Wednesday’ Season 2 Renewed at Netflix: What We Know”.
Get ready to dance, dance, dance with your hands above your head, Wednesday fans. The Jenna Ortega–led show has officially escaped Netflix’s one-and-done cancellation curse and been renewed for a second season. “It’s been incredible to create a show that has connected with people across the world. Thrilled to continue Wednesday’s tortuous journey into season two,” showrunners and executive producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar confirmed to Tudum.com. “We can’t wait to dive head first into another season and explore the kooky spooky world of Nevermore. Just need to make sure Wednesday hasn’t emptied the pool first.” Below, what we know about the goth girl’s next semester at Nevermore Academy, straight from Enid’s gossip blog….
(12) ON SF CONS. [Item by David Doering.] A question to muse: are the decades of cons and the resulting con-fostered SR/F community why we won the culture war?
In terms of global culture, SF cons are a rather unique expression–amateur-run, passion driven–over other fields of interest. Yes, there’s been fraternities and clubs for all kinds of interests. But none seem to have had such an impact with what you and I have seen over the last 50-60 years.
Going from the despised and avoided, con-energized fans now are the drivers of culture worldwide. Interesting, no?
(13) REVEALED FIGURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Scientific American weighs in on the true meaning of 42. “For Math Fans: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Number 42”.
… The author’s choice of the number 42 has become a fixture of geek culture. It’s at the origin of a multitude of jokes and winks exchanged between initiates. If, for example, you ask your search engine variations of the question “What is the answer to everything?” it will most likely answer “42.” Try it in French or German. You’ll often get the same answer whether you use Google, Qwant, Wolfram Alpha (which specializes in calculating mathematical problems) or the chat bot Web app Cleverbot.
Since the first such school was created in France in 2013 there has been a proliferation of private computer-training institutions in the “42 Network,” whose name is a clear allusion to Adams’s novels. Today the founding company counts more than 15 campuses in its global network. The number 42 also appears in different forms in the film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Many other references and allusions to it can be found, for example, in the Wikipedia entry for “42 (number).”
The number 42 also turns up in a whole string of curious coincidences whose significance is probably not worth the effort to figure out. For example:
In ancient Egyptian mythology, during the judgment of souls, the dead had to declare before 42 judges that they had not committed any of 42 sins.
The marathon distance of 42.195 kilometers corresponds to the legend of how far the ancient Greek messenger Pheidippides traveled between Marathon and Athens to announce victory over the Persians in 490 B.C. (The fact that the kilometer had not yet been defined at that time only makes the connection all the more astonishing.)…
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes us inside the “Clash of the Titans Pitch Meeting” – which begins by straightening out the boss about the fact that there are no Titans in the movie.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Todd Mason, Jennifer Hawthorne, David Doering, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]