Over the February 4-5 weekend water pipes in the MIT Student Center in Boston froze and burst, causing significant damage throughout the building including to the fourth floor where the MIT Science Fiction Society club library is housed. The MITSFS Library, the world’s largest public open-shelf collection of science fiction, had an inch of water in it. Students initially were denied access to the area to rescue books for several weeks, and unable to assess how much mold damage was occurring.
MITSFS’ Kat Allen told NESFA’s Rick Kovalcik that when the initial MITSFS team got into the building in late February there was water on the floor in the entire library. While the books on shelves were mostly safe, anything in boxes was exposed to water. The books in boxes molded, and were almost a total loss. Some of the books in boxes were near shelves, and the books on those shelves including, unfortunately, in “Damnation Alley” where the bound magazines are shelved, have visible black mold.
The team removed everything obviously moldy, trashing over 1000 volumes, mostly paperbacks and unbound magazines. They isolated the bound magazines with desiccant and hope to save them.
Rick Kovalcik says since then NESFA has been in touch with MITSFS on an ongoing basis. And what’s more, NESFA just found in their dead storage an archive of multiple copies of old magazines including Astounding/Analog in remarkably good condition (given that they were stored in an unheated storage area.) They have mentioned this to MITSFS as a possible replacement for some of their damaged collection.
Over the February 4-5 weekend water pipes in the MIT Student Center in Boston froze and burst, causing significant damage throughout the building including to the fourth floor where the MIT Science Fiction Society club library is housed. The MITSFS Library, the world’s largest public open-shelf collection of science fiction, had an inch of water in it. The administration/staff made no effort to rescue books, and some were soaked. Students were denied access to the area to rescue books for several weeks, unable to assess how much mold damage was occurring.
Today MITSFS leadership emailed an update about the condition of the library and its operations. “After 2 weeks we were finally successful and discovered that while the majority of the library survived just fine, we did have some significant damage to some books – largely boxed duplicates and donations.”
The message says the library has been open for limited hours, however, the 4th floor, where MITSFS is, remains closed today and likely will remain closed until September. And due to renovations which were already scheduled to begin in April, MIT is currently planning to move MITSFS out of that space and then move them back in during the late summer or fall.
Therefore MITSFS has put out an urgent call for volunteers:
We NEED HELP! If you are located in the Boston area and have availability during the work week, work hours, we desperately need hands to help us with continued mitigation of the damage as well as with potentially packing up MITSFS. We have over 40,000 unique volumes of science fiction and fantasy – some of which of irreplaceable historical value. This means we could use as much help as we can get in protecting this unique legacy and resource. Please email [email protected] if you can help.
Former Librarian George Phillies adds that the MITSFS Library’s 40,000-plus items, “include complete runs of Amazing, Astounding/Analog, Weird Tales except for the first two years, and many other magazines, all in bound volumes, enough so that the missing magazines were the likes of Kapitan Mors und sein lenkbares Luftschiff. (Pre-WWI, including interplanetary flight), really obscure stuff. Hopefully a large part of it is intact.”
You have edited many of Tolkien’s own manuscripts, such as The Story of Kullervo, On Fairy-Stories, Smith of Wootton Major, and The Lay of Aotrou & Itroun. What must an editor be ready to deal with when facing a Tolkien’s manuscript?
His handwriting first of all. Tolkien used several scripts, ranging from a beautiful, calligraphic hand (when he was making a fair copy), to an undecipherable scribble when the ideas were coming thick and fast and he was hurrying to catch up with them. There have been words and sometimes whole sentences, especially in the drafts of “On Fairy-stories” that I simply could not read.
…In the last weeks of 2021 I attempted to write just one more chapter of the Debarkle series. It was poor timing and that additional chapter quickly spun out of control. So I put it aside and decided to return to it later on.
The reason for the chapter was twofold. The initiating issue was the surprise sponsorship of the 2021 Worldcon by the infamous arms manufacture/aerospace company Raytheon. There are many unanswered questions about this sponsorship including what the financial arrangement was and the timing of the decision. The program book of the convention did not list Raytheon as a sponsor and while there was (apparently) a Raytheon booth at the convention, the primary publicity given to the company (specifically the Raytheon Intelligence & Space division) was at the start of the live-streamed Hugo Award ceremony.
The subsequent controversy embroiled not just the Washington DC-based convention but the Hugo Awards and the Hugo finalists as well…
Over the past 40 years, Vladimir Sorokin’s work has punctured nearly every imaginable political and social taboo in Russia.
… “A Russian writer has two options: Either you are afraid, or you write,” he said in an interview last month. “I write.”
Sorokin is widely regarded as one of Russia’s most inventive writers, an iconoclast who has chronicled the country’s slide toward authoritarianism, with subversive fables that satirize bleak chapters of Soviet history, and futuristic tales that capture the creeping repression of 21st-century Russia. But despite his reputation as both a gifted postmodern stylist and an unrepentant troublemaker, he remains relatively unknown in the West. Until recently, just a handful of his works had been published in English, in part because his writing can be so challenging to translate, and so hard to stomach. Now, four decades into his scandal-scorched career, publishers are preparing to release eight new English-language translations of his books.
… He is a master of mimicry and subverting genre tropes, veering from arch postmodern political satire (“The Queue”) to esoteric science fiction (“The Ice Trilogy”) to alternate histories and futuristic cyberpunk fantasies (“Telluria”).
Disney and the MCU have fallen foul of Gulf censors once more.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Marvel’s long-awaited follow-up to the hit 2016 superhero film starring Benedict Cumberbatch, has been banned in Saudi Arabia. Rumors began emerging online early on Friday, with The Hollywood Reporter now officially confirming the decision. THR has heard that the ban also applies to Kuwait, although this hasn’t yet been confirmed.
While the film is yet to be released and also hasn’t yet been reviewed, the decision is once again said to be related to LGBTQ issues, according to Middle East sources, with the new sequel introducing the character America Chavez (played by Xochitl Gomez) who, as per her portrayal in the comics, is gay. With homosexuality officially illegal across the Gulf, films that feature any LGBTQ references or issues often fail to get past censors….
… The film follows on the heels of Chloé Zhao’s Eternals, which was banned across much of the Gulf in November following the inclusion of a same-gender couple in the film and the MCU’s first gay superhero. At the time, THR understood that censors had requested a series of edits to be made that Disney was not willing to make. An edited version did screen in the U.A.E., however….
…So far, everything discovered at the LHC – including the Higgs – has fallen in line with the so-called standard model. This has been the guiding theory of particle physics since the 1970s but is known to be incomplete because it fails to explain some of the deepest mysteries in physics, such as the nature of dark matter.
However, data collected in the LHCb experiment, one of four huge particle detectors at Cern in Switzerland, appeared to show particles behaving in a way that could not be explained by the standard model.
The experiment looked at the decay of particles called beauty quarks, which are predicted to decay at an equal rate into electrons and their heavier cousins, muons. However, the beauty quarks appeared to be turning into muons 15% less often, suggesting that an unknown factor – potentially a new force – was tipping the scales. Two of the top candidates include hypothetical force-carrying particles called leptoquarks or Z primes.
“The stakes are extremely high,” Patel said. “If we confirm this, it will be a revolution of the kind we’ve not seen – certainly in my lifetime. You don’t want to mess it up.”…
… Spielberg told [Ben] Mankiewicz that he started working on a script focused specifically on his parents’ split in 1976, around the time he was filming another alien-themed project, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. “We were shooting the scene in Mobile, Alabama, where the extraterrestrial comes down from the ship and does the hand signs with Francois Truffaut,” he detailed. “I suddenly thought, wait a second, what if that little creature never went back to the ship?”
The idea took some years to develop, eventually leading him to Mathison. Spielberg recalled that the pair worked on the script while he was editing Raiders of the Lost Ark in Marina del Rey with editor Michael Kahn. “We would spend two hours a day for five days and she would go off and write pages and come back,” Spielberg continued of their process, crediting the late scribe with coming up with memorable moments, like E.T.’s telekinesis. “There were so many details for character that Melissa brought into my world from her world.”…
Comics and cartoons often are the best teaching tools. Not just because pictures are worth a thousand complicated and confounding words, but with a combo of drawings and words you get the picture—see what I mean?! This concept is no better illustrated than in this gem of a training booklet illustrated by none other than the creator of “The Spirit” comics, Will Eisner. Produced by the U.S. Army in 1944, it’s an instruction pamphlet for young pilots to master the basics of safe flying, complete with two quizzes and two pages of “Slanguage” at the end….
(8) FANHISTORY IN NEW ENGLAND. Fanac.org has made available video of a panel from the sixth FanHistoriCon in 1997, “From MITSFS to NESFA to MCFI” with Ed Meskys, Richard Harter, Tony Lewis and Hal Clement.
FanHistoriCon 6 was held February 13-16, 1997 in conjunction with Boskone 34 in Framingham, MA. In this 35 minute excerpt of the panel “From MITSFS to NESFA to MCFI”. Ed Meskys, Richard Harter, Tony Lewis and Hal Clement tell us stories of Boston area fandom from the Stranger Club in the 1940s, through area fandom’s evolution by way of conventions, MIT and worldcon bids to NESFA and MCFI in the 90s.
Beginning with the readers’ club of the 40s and giving way to the more active projects of MITSFS and NESFA, the panel fondly remembers the people and pastimes that were the substance of Boston area fandom.
Anecdotes mention well known names such as L. Ron Hubbard and Hugo Gernsback, the price of an interior illo from Amazing Magazine in the 1940s, and the storybook romance of Larry Niven and Fuzzy Pink.
You’ll learn the rules of the MITSFS game “Insanity”, the originally proposed name for NESFA, the origins of Locus and much more. You’ll even get a first hand report of why/how Hal Clement was “fired” from the Noreascon 1 committee.
If you’re interested in 20th century Boston fandom, here’s your chance to listen to four of the folks that made it happen.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1992 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Razul: You are a student of Egypt, but you are not one of its sons. And until you have heard what I have heard and seen what I have seen, I would not expect you to believe that such a thing as a curse could be true, but it is.
Sam: 3500-year-old dead men don’t just get up and walk around.
Thirty years ago this evening, Quantum Leap’s “The Curse of Ptah-Hotep” first aired on NBC. In 1957, Sam leaps into the body of Dale Conway, an American archaeologist at a dig in Egypt just as he and his partner Ginny Will discover the tomb of Ptah-Hotep. A sand storm traps them deep in the tomb’s inner chambers.
You think that they made up this particular Egypt royal person but no, he was quite real. Ptahhotep, sometimes known as Ptahhotep I or Ptahhotpe, was an ancient Egyptian vizier during the late 25th century BC and early 24th century BC Fifth Dynasty of Egypt.
The curse that forms the story here was evidently a real one that affected a number of archeological digs undertaken here. And it is worth definitely worth noting that Sam, throughout the entire series, thoroughly disbelieves in the supernatural, except for the force has him leaping around and that could be science. He frequently tells Al not to be superstitious about anything. But here he certainly seems to take the resurrected mummies in this episode as a given.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 22, 1902 — Philip Latham. Name used by astronomer Robert Shirley Richardson on his genre work. His novels were largely first published in Astounding starting in the Forties, with the exception of his children’s SF novels that were published in Space Science Fiction Magazine. He also wrote a few scripts for Captain Video, the predecessor of Captain Video and his Video Rangers. His Comeback novel starts this way: “When Parkhurst heard the announcement that climaxed the science fiction convention, he found that he’d been right, years ago when he had faith in science-fictionists’ dreams. But, in another way, he’d been wrong . . .: It’s available at the usual digital suspects for a buck. (Died 1981.)
Born April 22, 1934 — Sheldon Jaffery. An editor and bibliographer of pulps whose non-fiction work and genre anthologies are both fascinating. Among the latter are such publications as Sensuous Science Fiction From the Weird and Spicy Pulps and The Weirds: A Facsimile Selection of Fiction From the Era of the Shudder Pulps, and from the former are Future and Fantastic Worlds: Bibliography of DAW Books, The Arkham House Companion: Fifty Years of Arkham House and Collector’s Index to Weird Tales. (Died 2003.)
Born April 22, 1937 — Jack Nicholson, 85. I think my favorite role for him in a genre film was as Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick. Other genre roles include Jack Torrance in The Shining, Wilbur Force in The Little Shop of Horrors, Rexford Bedlo in The Raven, Andre Duvalier in The Terror, (the previous three films are all Roger Corman productions), Will Randall in Wolf, President James Dale / Art Land in Mars Attacks! and Jack Napier aka The Joker in Tim Burton’s The Batman.
Born April 22, 1944 — Damien Broderick, 78. Australian writer of over seventy genre novels. It is said that The Judas Mandala novel by him contains the first appearance of the term “virtual reality”. He’s won five Ditmar Awards, a remarkable achievement. I know I’ve read several novels by him including Godplayers and K-Machines which are quite good. The latter won an Aurealis Award for Excellence in Speculative Fiction
Born April 22, 1959 — Catherine Mary Stewart, 63. Her first genre role was Maggie Gordon in The Last Starfighter followed by beingMiranda Dorlac in Nightflyers and she played Sukie Ridgemont in the TV version of The Witches of Eastwick. She has one-offs in Mr. Merlin, Knight Rider and The Outer Limits.
Born April 22, 1977 — Kate Baker, 45. Non-fiction editor, podcast director /narrator for Clarkesworld. She won the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine twice, and the World Fantasy Award’s Special Award: Non Professional in 2014, all alongside the rest of the editorial staff of Clarkesworld. She’s a writer of three short genre stories, the latest of which, “No Matter Where; Of Comfort No One Speak”, you can hear it here. Warning for subject matter: abuse and suicide.
Born April 22, 1978 — Manu Intiraymi, 44. He played the former Borg Icheb on the television series Star Trek: Voyager. A role that he played a remarkable eleven times. And this Birthday research led me to discovering yet another video Trek fanfic, this time in guise of Star Trek: Renegades inwhich he reprised his role. Any Trekkies here watch this?
Born April 22, 1984 — Michelle Ryan, 38. She had the odd honor of being a Companion to the Tenth Doctor as Lady Christina de Souza for just one story, “Planet of the Dead”. She had a somewhat longer genre run as the rebooted Bionic Woman that lasted eight episodes, and early in her career, she appeared as the sorceress Nimueh in BBC’s Merlin. FinallyI’ll note sheplayed Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in BBC’s Learning project, Off By Heart Shakespeare.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Far Side makes a grotesque Peter, Paul & Mary reference.
(12) E. E. SMITH REFERENCE IN THE NEW YORK TIMES(!) [Item by David Goldfarb.] Every two weeks the NYT puts up an acrostic puzzle put together by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon. The one for April 24th has as clue I, 7 letters:
Kind of beam in the 1947 novel “Spacehounds of IPC”
This is a novel I would have thought little-remembered! (Alas, my first guess based on Lensman, PRIMARY, turned out to be incorrect.)
(13) SIGNS OF THE FUTURE. Michael Okuda, the graphic designer known for his work on Star Trek, told Facebook readers how he found the answer to something he wanted to know about the bridge:
I had always wondered: If the famously-unlabeled buttons on the TOS bridge had been labeled, would those labels have been visible? In 2005, I did an experiment during the filming of “In A Mirror, Darkly” (ENT). For this experiment, I had hundreds of small clear labels printed with small numeric codes. I asked Alan Kobayashi to stick them onto most of the backlit “jellybean” buttons on the re-created TOS Enterprise bridge set, thereby labeling each button….
Thanks to an ensemble celebrity cast and lavish location shoots that can take over an entire mall, Stranger Things has always had the feel of a big-budget, Steven Spielberg-inspired show. But the Hawkins arcade would need to collect more than just a truckload of quarters to cover the eye-popping cost of the series’ long-awaited fourth season.
A recent report at The Wall Street Journal reveals that Netflix is turning its wallet Upside Down and inside out to bring Stranger Things 4 to life, spending an average of $30 million on each of the smash hit series’ nine new episodes. That far eclipses the princely $13 million per-episode sum commanded by Season 4 of The Crown, the previously-reported most expensive show in the streamer’s original-series lineup….
… If you’re wondering how HBO managed to keep the cost of “House of the Dragon” Season 1 from rising too much above what it paid for the final season of “Game of Thrones,” especially with even more CGI dragons expected to be flying around, the production insider says HBO is now so adept at these world-building series through years of not just “GoT,” but also producing “Westworld” and “His Dark Materials,” that the team can make a high-quality series as efficiently and effectively as possible….
(16) EVERYTHING AND MORE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the March 20 New York Times Magazine, Alexandra Kleeman profiles Everything Everywhere All At Once star Michelle Yeoh, who explains why doing a multiverse movie (in which she plays a hibachi chef, a laundromat store owner, and a universe where everyone has fingers that look like Twinkies) was a stretch for her in a career that has taken her from Hong Kong super action movies to James Bond to Crazy Rich Asians. “Michelle Yeoh’s Quantum Leaps”.
… Approaching a role that bounds gleefully across so many modes and genres put Yeoh to the test. She showed me a photo of her script, dutifully flagged with adhesive tabs that denoted the genre of each scene she appears in (action sequences, comedic scenes, heavy-duty drama): The stack of pages bristled with color, like a wildly blooming flower. She experimented with different kinds of sticky notes. “With the fat ones, they were overlapping so much. So, I had to get the skinny ones,” she told me. “Oh, my God, it was a whole creative process. And then when I finished, I looked at it and go, Oh, my God, I’m in serious trouble.”…
…Sources confirmed to Deadline TMZ‘s report from earlier this week that the investigation was launched after the 84-year-old actor had been accused of sexual harassment, including making inappropriate comments to a female co-star on set during work.
Langella led the cast of The Fall of the House of Usher, which also stars Carla Gugino, Mary McDonnell, Carl Lumbly and Mark Hamill.
The eight-episode series is described as an epic tale of greed, horror and tragedy. Poe’s short story The Fall of the House of Usher, which serves as the basis for the show, features themes of madness, family, isolation and identity.
Roderick Usher, the role previously played by Langella that now is being recast, is the towering patriarch of the Usher dynasty….
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has captured dramatic footage of Phobos, Mars’ potato-shaped moon, crossing the face of the Sun. These observations can help scientists better understand the moon’s orbit and how its gravity pulls on the Martian surface, ultimately shaping the Red Planet’s crust and mantle.
Captured with Perseverance’s next-generation Mastcam-Z camera on April 2, the 397th Martian day, or sol, of the mission, the eclipse lasted a little over 40 seconds – much shorter than a typical solar eclipse involving Earth’s Moon. (Phobos is about 157 times smaller than Earth’s Moon. Mars’ other moon, Deimos, is even smaller.)
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The How It Should Have Ended gang takes on The Batman, answering such questions as, “If he’s The Batman, why does he say his name is vengenance?” and “Why does Superman show up in inappropriate moments?”
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, David Goldfarb, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
Doug Hoylman’s six championships in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament are the exclusive focus of his Washington Post obituary, however, the longtime sf fan, who died on November 2, once was an active fanzine editor.
He grew up in the small town of Kalispell, Montana. He earned a B.A. in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Arizona in 1969.
Hoylman would have been a freshman at M.I.T. when he and Al Kuhfeld, another M.I.T. student, published God Comics #3: The World’s Most Blasphemous Comic Fanzine, with contents that included a Justice League parody called the “God Squad” featuring Thor, Mercury, Mary, Poseidon and Ball. The cover shows Batman removing his mask to reveal Wonder Woman.
Later, while editing the M.I.T. Science Fiction Society’s Twilight Zine, Hoylman advocated a viewpoint that so sharply contrasted with his contemporaries’ he is quoted in Peter Justin Kizilos-Clift’s 2009 dissertation “Humanizing the Cold War Campus: The Battle for Hearts and Minds at MIT, 1945-1965” –
While most science fiction readers were still men, more women were becoming readers, writers, and fans, and were being welcomed as equal participants into the MIT Science Fiction Society and the vast universe of science fiction. “Coeds are welcome in the society,” wrote Twilight Zine editor Doug Hoylman in November 1962, “in fact we have a disproportionate number of them. Our vicepresident and our treasurer are coeds. The views held by V—D— [Voodoo, the notoriously anti-feminist MIT humor magazine] and other forces of evil regarding Tech Coeds are not subscribed to by the Society.”
The Fanzine Control Act of 1971 is a little-known part of the Phase 2 economic program designed to fight fanzine inflation. Fanzines are important to the economy, particularly as regards the manufacturers of duplicating equipment and the United States Postal Service, and it is in the public interest to see that fanzines do not become so inflated that their publishers are unable to maintain them (the recent collapse of Science Fiction Review is a case in point).
The job of the Fanzine Review Board is to see to it that the President’s guidelines are enforced (these include a maximum permissible increase in number of pages of 5.5% per annum; any editor going from mimeograph to offset must have FRB approval).
The Board consists of five fans, five pros, and five large contributors to the Republican Party….
Hoylman also wrote a Holmes pastiche for the NESFA genzine Proper Boskonian, “Moriarty and the Binomial Theorem.”
When Minneapa was founded in the early 1970s he became a member, and was in the famous 1974 Minneapa group photo (as was Al Kuhfeld).
Brother Guy Consolmagno, an astronomer at the Vatican Observatory, will give an acceptance speech for the Carl Sagan Medal at Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon. The award is given annually by the American Astronomical Society.
Brother Guy, an active fan and a member of the MIT Science Fiction Society, will give this speech at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday evening of the convention.
Brother Guy will also be interviewing Guest of Honor Leslie Turek, also a MITSFS member, later in the convention.