(1) A DAY FOR VISIBILITY. On International Transgender Day of Visibility, one fan talks about the way Star Trek fandom helped her feel safe and seen as her full self: “Coming Out to My Star Trek Family”.
In October 2012, I stepped into a room full of people who’d known me for years, but most of them were about to truly meet me for the first time. I was scared out of my mind. At a science-fiction convention in Chicago, they were busy turning a hotel suite into a tiny nightclub, and I had arrived to step up my DJ gear, a now-familiar ritual. Only this time, I was wearing a full face of makeup and a dress… and an announcement needed to be made. I had new pronouns. And a new name. This was not some ultra-liberal organization of party throwers, either. It’s an organization known as Barfleet, whose only real ethos is “throw the best, safest convention parties”. And I was about to their first out, visibly transgender member….
(2) COSTUMER PHOTO HISTORY RETURNS. The International Costumers Gallery, the largest collection of costume photos in the world, includes photos from science fiction and fantasy conventions, masquerade competitions, fashion shows, historical dress competitions and other events and displays. The Gallery is returning online, featuring new software and new features at a new location: ICG Pat and Peggy Kennedy Memorial Archives.
The International Costumers’ Guild (ICG), founded in 1985, is an affiliation of hobbyist and professional costumers from around the world, dedicated to the promotion and education of costuming as an art form in all its aspects, and to fostering local educational and social costume events…
(3) BARDING PARTY. James Davis Nicoll acquaints Tor.com readers with “Five SFF Works That Put Bards Center Stage”.
If there is one lesson Tolkien intended us to take from The Lord of the Rings, it is that NPC (non-player-character) bards are extraordinarily dangerous beings. Not because they might kill you (although some might) but because by their nature, they are adept at upstaging other characters. It’s probably only due to the merciful brevity of his appearance on stage that Tom Bombadil didn’t manage to transform LOTR into Tom Bombadil Saves Middle-Earth with the Power of Verse (also there were some hobbits).
First on the list is Manly Wade Wellman’s collection John the Balladeer. (If you don’t mess around with Jim, you certainly don’t mess around with John.)
(4) AFTERMATH. Following yesterday’s announcement by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society – “BSFS Shares Outcome of Investigation Into Harassment Complaints” — Keith R.A. DeCandido has posted “An open letter to Balticon, which I am not attending”.
I’m afraid that I must decline the invitation to be an author guest/program participant at Balticon 55, and have no plans to return to the convention any time soon.
The convention’s handling of the multiple harassment complaints against convention chair Eric Gasior is disappointing. All the more so because my wife Wrenn Simms and I were witnesses to the incident spelled out in one of those complaints. We were at Arisia 2016, and we observed Eric’s behavior toward one of the complainants. At the time, we thought it was an isolated incident due to a particular set of circumstances. We have since learned that there were at least three other complaints against Eric of a similar nature to that of the one we were privy to. Our names were passed on to the investigator that Balticon hired to look into the allegations, but we were never contacted. Now the investigation is said to be complete and finished, even though Wrenn and I were not questioned, despite being witnesses to Eric’s harassment in January 2016.
This is massively unacceptable and I cannot in good conscience support the con. Balticon is a favorite convention of ours, and I am disappointed to not be attending, but to attend now would be to give my tacit support to a convention committee that has proven to not care about the safety of its attendees.
(5) WELL, HARDLY EVERS. “HBO drops full trailer for new sci-fi period drama The Nevers” – Ars Technica sets the frame:
An inexplicable event confers supernatural powers on a select group of people in Victorian London, who must battle prejudice and those who would exploit their abilities in The Nevers, a new original series coming to HBO next month.
(6) HE CAN DIG IT. [Item by rcade.] Not many actors would do as much preparation for a role as Alexander Skarsgard did to portray geologist Nathan Lind in the movie Godzilla vs. Kong, if this Uproxx interview is to be believed: “Alexander Skarsgard Knows You Don’t Care About Him In Godzilla Vs Kong”.
Alexander Skarsgard: Even though I play a very peripheral character and no one cares, I still take my craft seriously. And that means a decade of studying geology and living, breathing the character. Just to give the audience that sublime performance that I give in the movie.
Uproxx: When you’re giving the technical jargon during the movie, viewers can rest assured that you know exactly what you’re talking about, because you studied for so long with trained geologists.
Skarsgard: Exactly. And they can see that in my eyes, that I’m not lying. I’m not pretending. I’m not acting. I’m not playing a geologist. I am a geologist.
(7) ATTACK THE MOCK. The Mitchells vs.The Machines comes to Netflix on April 30.
A quirky, dysfunctional family’s road trip is upended when they find themselves in the middle of the robot apocalypse and suddenly become humanity’s unlikeliest last hope!
(8) ST-PIERRE OBIT. Montreal club member Sylvain St-Pierre died March 25 of Covid reports MonSFFA’s Cathy Palmer-Lister: “Sad news: Sylvain St-Pierre”.
I am so sorry to have to inform you that Sylvain St-Pierre and his mom have both passed away from Covid. His brother, Marc, is in quarantine as a precautionary measure.
We are in shock. Sylvain was one of the rocks on which this club was founded, and a best friend to so many of us in fandom.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- March 31, 1987 — On this day in 1987, the Max Headroom series premiered on ABC. This is the America version of Max Headroom as the British version was Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future which is essentially identical to the initial origin episode of the American series. Matt Frewer as Max Headroom and Edison Carter, Amanda Pays as Theora Jones and W. Morgan Sheppard as Blank Reg would reprise their characters from the British film. It ran from April of 1985 to March of 1987. A spin-off series, a talk show featuring Max was recorded, The Original Max Talking Headroom Show, this time in New York. It aired on Cinemax between the two seasons and lasted six episodes. And yes, Max had a lucrative gig shilling Coca Cola and other products here and in the United Kingdom.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born March 31, 1844 — Andrew Lang. To say that he is best known as a collector of folk and fairy tales is a bit of understatement. He collected enough tales that twenty five volumes of Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books for children was published between 1889 and 1913. That’s 798 stories. If you’re interested in seeing these stories, you can find them here. (Died 1912.) (CE)
- Born March 31, 1918 – Beth Krush. Illustrator, mostly with husband Joe Krush, who survived her. Both did Mary Norton’s Borrowers books. BK did Eudora Welty’s only children’s book The Shoe Bird and sixteen with Sally Scott. Here is The Borrowers Afield. Here is A Spell Is Cast. Here is Countdown at 37 Pinecrest Drive. (Died 2009) [JH]
- Born March 31, 1932 — John Jakes, 89. Author of a number of genre series including the Brak the Barbarian series. The novels seem to fix-ups from works published in such venues as Fantastic. Dark Gate and Dragonard are his other two series. As Robert Hart Davis, he wrote a number of The Man From UNCLE novellas that were published in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine. The magazine apparently only existed from 1966 to 1968. (CE)
- Born March 31, 1934 — Richard Chamberlain, 87. His first dive into our end of reality was in The Three Musketeers as Aramis, a role he reprised in The Return of Three Musketeers. (I consider all Musketeer films to be genre.) Some of you being cantankerous may argue it was actually when he played the title character in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold which he did some years later. He listed as voicing the Jack Kirby created character Highfather on the superb Justice League: Gods and Monsters but that was but a few lines of dialogue I believe. He was in the Blackbeard series as Governor Charles Eden, and series wise has done the usual one-offs on such shows as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Boris Karloff’s Thriller, Chuck and Twin Peaks. (CE)
- Born March 31, 1936 — Marge Piercy, 85. Author of He, She and It which garnered the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction novel. Of course she also wrote Woman on the Edge of Time doomed to be called a “classic of utopian speculative sf”. Woman on the Edge of Time was nominated for a Tiptree Award. (CE)
- Born March 31, 1955 – Janice Gelb, age 66. Co-founded the Israel SF Ass’n and the Filk Foundation. Ran the Hugo Ceremony at L.A.con IV the 64th Worldcon, has run Program Ops at eight. Fan Guest of Honor at Concave 22, Baycon 2003; Capricon 31 (with husband Stephen Boucher). Big Heart (our highest service award; with Boucher). DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegate; her campaignzine is here; trip report not available electronically so far as I know: try E-mail to either of the DUFF Administrators as given here; or send paper mail to me, 236 S. Coronado St., No. 409, Los Angeles, CA 90057, U.S.A., and we’ll arrange something. [JH]
- Born March 31, 1957 – David Bratman, age 64. Librarian. Classical-music reviewer. Tolkien scholar; a dozen entries in the Tolkien Encyclopedia; edited Mythprint; edits & contributes to Tolkien Studies and Mythlore (about the Inklings). See here. Administered the Hugo Awards at three Worldcons, the Retrospective Hugos at one. Although he once said “We liked dancing ‘The Black Nag’ to annoy John Hertz”, my answer to the question of the day is yes. [JH]
- Born March 31, 1957 – Gary Louie. Hard-working, much-missed Los Angeles fan. Evans-Freehafer Award (service to LASFS, L.A. Science Fantasy Society). Labored on nearly every Worldcon for years. When he arrived in L.A. fandom the mah jongg fad had begun (for which I bear some responsibility), and as he said, being Chinese he mixed right in. (Died 1999) [JH]
- Born March 31, 1960 — Ian McDonald, 61. I see looking him up for this Birthday note that one of my favorite novels by him, Desolation Road, was his very first one. Ares Express which was the sort of sequel was just as splendid. Now the Chaga saga was, errr, weird. The Everness saga was fun but ultimately shallow. Strongly recommend both Devish House and River of Gods. Luna series just didn’t impress me me, so other opinions are sought on it. (CE)
- Born March 31, 1971 — Ewan McGregor, 50. Nightwatch, a horror film, with him as lead Martin Bell is his first true genre film. That was followed by The Phantom Menace with him as Obi-Wan Kenobi, a role repeated in Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens. His latest role of interest, well to me if to nobody else, is as Christopher Robin in the film of the same name. (CE)
- Born March 31, 1982 – Alaya Dawn Johnson, age 39. Seven novels, a dozen shorter stories. Won a Nebula and an Andre Norton. Interviewed in Fantasy, Lightspeed. Guest of Honor at WisCon 39, ConFusion 42 (not its real name, which was “Life, the Universe, and ConFusion”). [JH]
- Born March 31, 2010 – João Paulo Guerra Barrera, age 11. Two short stories in Portuguese and English. Won the NASA Ames Space Settlement Contest. And that ain’t the half of it. [JH]
(11) MANGA NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the March 22 Financial Times, Leo Lewis reports that Japan’s Financial Services Agency has “turned to a scatological cartoon character to teach children about money.” The character, “Unko Doriru” (“poo exercises”) was introduced by publisher Bunkyosha in 2017 to help children deal with all the memorization that it takes to learn to read and write Japanese.
“In the original books,” Lewis writes, “each new character is introduced with an excrement-based sentence by Unko-sensei, a smartly-dressed, bespectacled and mustachioed pedagogue whose head is a stylized stool. The author’s bet on the inexhaustible powers of faeces to entertain children has seen the series expand to mathematics, science, and other usually soberly-taught realms of Japanese education.”
The Financial Services Agency’s use of the character is an online multiple-choice quiz, “asking children how they would respond to various financial realities, such as having insufficient funds (to buy video games), sudden seasonal gluts of capital (gift money) and the appropriate evaluation of rendered services (washing up.) In each case, one of the available answers involves faeces.”
(12) YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHO’S WRITTEN A BOOK. That’s what the email said. Even when it revealed that the subject was newly-released novel The Eighth Key by Laura Weyr I still needed the next clue – that Laura Weyr is the nom de plume of Janice Marcus, of the Galactic Journey Marcuses. Here’s the pitch for her new book:
The magic is gone…or is it?
Lucian is a jaded flirt and professional bard who knows all the old songs about sorcery. When he meets Corwin, a shy mage who can still use magic despite the Drought, Lucian finds his desire growing with each passing day—not just for answers, but for Corwin himself.
Sparks fly as they find themselves passionately entangled in adventure and each other. But learning the true origin of the Drought and the Key to ending it comes at a price that their bond may not survive…
(13) A PEEK INTO THE FUTURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] 60 Minutes had a segment about Boston Dynamics. They went behind the scenes and had many interesting shots of company headquarters and some robots we’ve never seen. The most interesting fact in Anderson Cooper’s piece is that the humanoid robot that does all the leaping is only five feet tall. “Robots of the future at Boston Dynamics”.
(14) GETTING PHYSICAL. But are they going anywhere? “New Warp Drive Model Requires No ‘Exotic Matter,’ Scientists Say We Can Build It” – maybe you’ll understand The Debrief’s explanation.
…“If you read any publications that claim we have figured out how to break the speed of light, they are mistaken,” said one of the researchers, Gianni Martire, in an email to The Debrief. “We [instead] show that a class of subluminal, spherically symmetric warp drive spacetimes, can be constructed based on the physical principles known to humanity today.”
… So, with the team assembled, Martire described how they first looked at the classical warp designs before trying to tackle the problem themselves. “[Harold] White’s paper makes heavy use of extra non-physical dimensions,” he said, “which, as you know, is incompatible with the current understanding of general relativity. Thus, the work is not usable in our reality. No warp metric was.
Hence, why they were all unphysical.”
With this limitation in mind, Martire and his co-author, Lund University Astrophysicist Alexey Bobrick, set out to design an entirely new type of Warp drive, a design they term a physical warp drive. “Our paper covers all the existing warp drives and all their possible modifications (i.e., Alcubierre),” Martire said in the email, “but the APL metric stands on its own, hence why it’s the first physical class of warp.”
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: Zack Snyder’s Justice League” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies note that the Snyder Cut is 2 1/2 times longer than Casablanca, which gives him plenty of room for many, many slo-mo scenes (including a slo-mo shot of Lois Lane’s coffee cup) and scenes where “the grey CGI villain reports in excruciating detail to his grey CGI boss and his boss’s grey CGI executive assistant.”
[Thanks to N., Lloyd Penney, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Pierre and Sandy Pettinger, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Dann, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]