(1) COMING TO ANOTHER PLANET NEAR YOU. Science News posted the winning name in NASA’s contest to name the new Mars rover.
Meet Perseverance, NASA’s next ambassador to the Red Planet.
The Mars rover’s new name was announced March 5, after a six-month “Name the Rover” competition that drew more than 28,000 entries from students in kindergarten through high school. Students were asked to make their name suggestions in essays.
The winning entry came from 7th grader Alex Mather, who became interested in becoming a NASA engineer after he attended the space agency’s Space Camp at age 11.
(2) WORLDCON STATEMENT ON CORONAVIRUS. CoNZealand’s chairs Norman Cates and Kelly Buehlermade this public statement:
Although New Zealand has not been affected by Covid-19 to the extent of the rest of the world, our government and the NZ Ministry of Health have extensive civil defence plans. We are monitoring the situation and will be prepared for what the future brings.
As usual, we strongly advise all members purchase their own comprehensive travel insurance for any foreign travel, including cancellation insurance. If you have already purchased insurance for your journey to New Zealand, we recommend that you check the full terms with your insurance provider.
We are in touch with the Ministry of Health as well as with our venue planning managers. We want everyone to have a safe and healthy convention, and we will be following best practices.
(3) OTHER EVENTS MAKING DECISIONS DRIVEN BY CORONAVIRUS. A Seattle convention due to start on March 12 has announced a refund option: “As coronavirus concerns loom, Emerald City Comic Con exhibitors wrestle with the question: to con or not to con” – the Seattle Times has the story:
Emerald City Comic Con organizers Reedpop announced a refund option on Wednesday for fans who choose not to attend this year’s four-day pop-culture celebration, still scheduled for March 12-15 at the Washington State Convention Center, due to coronavirus concerns. The decision was made public shortly before city and county officials announced they were advising community groups against holding gatherings that would draw more than 10 people.
Organizers acknowledged that not everybody would agree with the decision, but “we feel we owe it to the customer to grant you the personal choice whether or not to attend,” they said in a statement.
However, Publishers Lunch says Book Expo in New York plans to carry on: “Book Expo Knows You’re Already Worried About Their Show (and Maybe Mad At Reed), So Issues Update, While Staying On Track”.
Book Expo officials are moving to get in front of community concerns about COVID-19, following the London Book Fair’s reluctant cancellation of their show. (Both shows are part of Reed Exhibitions.) Event director Jenny Martin writes in a statement, “The effect of the COVID-19 virus on the publishing business and our people is significant and difficult to navigate. Many industry events outside of the United States, have had to make difficult decisions about proceeding with their events. We understand the impact that has on the publishing industry and we want to be proactive and transparent about BookExpo.”
For now: “BookExpo & BookCon will proceed as planned May 27-31. We do not anticipate any changes or delays to our event. Our mission is to serve our customers as best we can, and we plan to provide a place for you to conduct business in these difficult times…. We will continue to be take necessary precautions to facilitate an environment for the entire community to unite, make meaningful new connections, and discover new titles.”
(4) FANHISTORY. The Washington Post’s Michael Dirda praises a thoroughly illustrated tribute to sf fandom: “‘The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom’ beautifully demonstrates the evolution of a genre”. In his article, Dirda explains a great deal about early fandom and explains Bob Madle’s importance and how Madle will turn 100 this June.
In “The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom — Volume One: The 1930s,” David and Daniel Ritter — a father-and-son team — show us, through words and pictures, how a passion for science fiction evolved into a way of life for young people who couldn’t get enough of that crazy Buck Rogers stuff. The result is a sumptuous scrapbook of photographs, magazine covers, artwork and hundreds of articles, letters and typescripts, everything beautifully held together by the Ritters’ concise but enthralling text. The physical book is expensive but, given the amount of material in it and the high quality of the printing, one doubts that First Fandom Experience is doing more than breaking even. Happily, there is a less costly digital version available for e-readers.
(5) FAN NAME USAGE. Fanlore, a project by the Organization of Transformative Works, has announced “Upcoming Changes to Fanlore’s Pre-1995 Fan Name Use Policy”.
In the days prior to the Internet, some fans who wrote in zines (or contributed to other fanworks) used their real names as opposed to a fan name. The expectation at that time was that fanworks would remain within the fairly closed community of fandom. With respect to this different environment and in order to protect the identity of fans, Fanlore created a policy stating that fanwork authors credited in zines and other fannish publications prior to 1995 should be identified with a first name and last initial (e.g. Mary R. as opposed to Mary Richards).
However, as time went by, it became apparent that a great deal of zine content containing fans’ full names and/or preferred names had already been online for many years, and on many established websites. Additionally, many fans writing prior to 1995 used “real” sounding pseudonyms that did not need to be abbreviated. The policy of abbreviating fans’ last names has also caused a great deal of confusion over fan authors who share a first name and last initial. Different early print communities (such as science fiction zines) would often use a first initial and last full name to attribute authors, adding to the confusion.
Because of this, the Fanlore Committee has decided to bring the Pre-1995 Fan Name Use policy in line with the wider Fanlore policy on Identity Protection. Author names on fanworks made prior to 1995 will be recorded on Fanlore as they appeared at the time, but if the fan in question wishes to protect their identity, the Fanlore Committee will replace their name with a first name and last initial (e.g. Mary R.), with initials only (e.g. M.R.), or with a pseudonym of the fan’s choice (e.g. Unnamed Fan X). We are happy to work with fans to find an arrangement that they are comfortable with and that sufficiently protects their identity.
(6) YOU DO SAY. Natalie Zutter points out “Twelve SFF Stories Told From Second-Person Perspective” at Tor.com.
Writing in second person—forgoing I or she/he/they of other perspectives in favor of that intensely-close, under-your-skin you—can, ironically, be rather alienating. Often it feels too intimate for the reader, or it distracts them from the story unfolding with questions of who is actually telling it. But when a writer commits to telling a story to you, about you, through you, the result can often be masterful—an extra layer of magic surrounding a sci-fi/fantasy/speculative tale and embedding the reader in the protagonist’s journey more intensely than even the most self-reflective first or closest-third could achieve….
(7) MCLAUGHLIN OBIT. Comics artist Frank McLaughlin (1935-2020) died March 4. His earliest work was for Charlton, and he became the company’s art director in the Sixties. worked throughout the Charlton line, including on the superhero titles Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, and Son of Vulcan, the adventure comic The Fightin’ 5, the supernatural/science-fiction anthologies Strange Suspense Stories and Mysteries of Unexplored Worlds, and the espionage comic Sarge Steel,
In the Seventies he settled into a career as an inker, working for both Marvel (on Captain Marvel, Captain America and The Defenders before becoming primarily a DC inker. He became the regular series inker for Justice League of America, some Batman stories in Detective Comics, and Green Lantern.
In the 1980s McLaughlin was regular inker on penciler Carmine Infantino’s The Flash, Gene Colan’s Wonder Woman, and Dan Jurgens’ Green Arrow, among other assignments.
His books include How to Draw Those Bodacious Bad Babes of Comics (2000) and How to Draw Monsters for Comics (2001), both with Mike Gold.
(8) WISE OBIT. Writer David Wise (1955-2020) died March 3. A graduate of the Clarion Writers Workshop (one of his stories was published in the third Clarion anthology from NAL), he was well-known in the animation field, writing episodes for television series like Star Trek: The Animated Series, the 1984 Transformers cartoon and the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, among dozens of other shows. He’s survived by his wife Audry Taylor.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- March 5, 1943 — The Ape Man premiered. It originally known as The Gorilla Strikes. It was directed by William Beaudine and starred Bela Lugosi and Louise Currie. It was promoted as a sequel to Return of the Ape Man but it wasn’t. Critics at the time generally liked it, but that not true of the audience at Rotten Tomatoes which gives it a 12% rating. See it here.
- March 5, 1980 — The Beyond Westworld series debuted on CBS. It starred Jim McMullan, James Wainwright and Connie Sellecca. It was based on the film but ignored the sequel. It lasted a mere eight episodes. We cannot show you an episode as that’s behind a paywall.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 5, 1853 — Howard Pyle. Author of The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood of Great Renown in Nottinghamshire commonly known as The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood which is in print one hundred and twenty-five years later. He also did a four-volume work on King Arthur. (Died 1911.)
- Born March 5, 1920 — Virginia Christine. Likely best remembered as Wilma Lentz in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but she’s been in a number of other genre films including The Mummy’s Curse, Billy the Kid Versus Dracula, Women in the Night, plus appearances on The Adventures of Superman, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Science Fiction Theatre and The Twilight Zone. She was The Boss on The Time Guardian (Died 1996.)
- Born March 5, 1936 — Dean Stockwell, 84. You’ll no doubt best remember him as Al the hologram on Quantum Leap. He had one-offs on Mission Impossible, The Night Gallery, A Twist in The Tale, Orson Welles’ Great Mysteries and The Twilght Zone.
- Born March 5, 1942 — Mike Resnick. Damn, losing him hurts. It’s worth noting that he’s has been nominated for 37 Hugo Awards which is a record for writers and won five times. Somewhat ironically nothing I’ve really enjoyed by him has won those Hugos. The novels making my list are his John Justin Mallory detective novels, The Red Tape War (with Jack L. Chalker & George Alec Effinger), and, yes it’s not genre, Cat on a Cold Tin Roof. (Died 2020.)
- Born March 5, 1952 — Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden, 68. She’s better known by her pen names of Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm. I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read and enjoyed by her was Wizard of the Pigeons, but The Gypsy with Steven Brust was equally enjoyable and had the added bonus of a Boiled in Lead soundtrack. What’s she done recently that I should think of reading?
- Born March 5, 1955 — Penn Jillette, 65. Performed on Babylon 5 in the episode scripted by Neil Gaiman titled “Day of The Dead” as part of Penn & Teller who portrayed comedians Rebo and Zooty. It’s one of my favorite episodes of the series. Also, he had a recurring role on Sabrina the Teenage Witch as Drell, the head of the Witches’ Council. He’s been in Fantasia 2000, Toy Story, Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, VR.5, Space Ghost Coast to Coast and most recently Black Mirror.
- Born March 5, 1971 — David J. Williams, 49. British author that I confess I hadn’t heard of but now I’m intrigued by in Jack Campbell called his debut novel, The Mirrored Heavens, “a 21st century Neuromancer”. He’s written the Autumn Rain trilogy of which this novel is the first book, and Transformers: Retribution in that franchise.
- Born March 5, 1974 — Matt Lucas, 46. He played Nardole, a cyborg, who was a companion to the Twelfth Doctor. He is the only regular companion introduced under Steven Moffat to have never died on screen. He provided the voice of Sparx on Astro Boy, and was Tweedledee and Tweedledum in Alice through the Looking Glass.
- Born March 5, 1986 — Sarah J. Maas, 34. Author of the Throne of Glass series wherein Cinderella is a stone cold assassin. If you’re so inclined, there’s A Court of Thorns and Roses Coloring Book. Really. Truly.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Half Full shows us a vampire’s favorite fruit. Of course it is.
(12) FREE DOWNLOAD. Tor.com invites readers to “Download the Nevertheless, She Persisted Short Fiction Bundle For Free, Starting This International Women’s Day”. It will be available on March 8 from various outlets which are linked here. (I was able to preorder the free download at Amazon today.)
Nevertheless She Persisted: Flash Fiction Project features Charlie Jane Anders, Brooke Bolander, Amal El-Mohtar, Maria Dahvana Headley, Kameron Hurley, Seanan McGuire, Nisi Shawl, Catherynne M. Valente, Carrie Vaughn, Jo Walton, and Alyssa Wong.
March 8th is International Women’s Day, which the United Nations describes as “when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.” More than celebratory, International Women’s Day is aspirational, striving toward a more gender-inclusive world. Speculative fiction has had an impact in fostering this egalitarian dream through creative expression and critique. After all, science fiction in particular was born with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, written in the “Year without a Summer” while tumultuous storms raged over Lake Geneva. This dream was the utopia penned by Muslim feminist Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain in her 1905 story “Sultana’s Dream”, and the same year Charlotte Perkins Gilman published Herland in Forerunner magazine. In the decades since, women have provided some of the most crucial and insightful voices in our community.
(13) QUICK, HENRY, THE FLIT. This is unintentionally hilarious. JDA complaining about people doing to him what he did to everybody else: “The ComicsGate Harassment Business Model” [Archive link].
- They Launch An Attack On A Creator – Mike MIller did this to me last week making a hate youtube stream ranting about me for an hour like a nutjob and riling up his dwindling audience against me.
- They Launch A New Book – Within 24 hours of the clickbait attack on youtube of me, Miller launched his new kickstarter.
- Repeat as necessary.
What do they say – “Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em, And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.”
(14) JDA’S WORLDCON SUIT. Meanwhile, there are signs that Jon Del Arroz’ defamation suit against Worldcon 76 might get a trial date later this year. The case was reassigned to another judge on February 14, and on February 18 the new judge issued a Minute Order indicating a trial setting conference will happen on July 14. The court website explains this is where “The judge sets a trial date for sometime in the next 90 days. Bring your calendar so you can tell the judge when you are available. After you get trial date, get ready to go to trial on that date.”
(15) TONIGHT’S JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter watched Jeopardy! contestants swing and miss on this one –
Final Jeopardy: British Novels
Answer: A laboratory known as the house of pain is on Noble’s Isle, the title setting of this novel.
Wrong questions: “What is Frankenstein?”
“What is ?” (nothing)
“What is Shudder Island?”
Correct question, which none of the contestants got: “What is The Island of Doctor Moreau?”
(16) HEALTH SPY? BBC considers the implications of coronavirus warnings: “Coronavirus privacy: Are South Korea’s alerts too revealing?”
As South Korea battles a snowballing number of Covid-19 cases, the government is letting people know if they were in the vicinity of a patient. But the volume of information has led to some awkward moments and now there is as much fear of social stigma as of illness, as Hyung Eun Kim of BBC News Korean reports.
As I sit at home, my phone beeps alarmingly with emergency alerts.
“A 43-year-old man, resident of Nowon district, tested positive for coronavirus,” it says.
“He was at his work in Mapo district attending a sexual harassment class. He contracted the virus from the instructor of the class.”
A series of alerts then chronicle where the men had been, including a bar in the area until 11:03 at night.
These alerts arrive all day, every day, telling you where an infected person has been – and when. You can also look up the information on the Ministry of Health and Welfare website.
No names or addresses are given, but some people are still managing to connect the dots and identify people. The public has even decided two of the infected were having an affair.
And, even if patients are not outright identified, they’re facing judgement – or ridicule – online.
When you search online for a virus patient’s case number, related queries include “personal details”, “face”, “photo”, “family” – or even “adultery”.
Some online users are commenting that “I had no idea so many people go to love motels” – the by-the-hour hotels popular with couples.
They are also joking that people cheating on their spouses are known to be keeping a low profile these days.
(17) THE SPILLOVER CONTINUES. “Ted conference to go virtual or be postponed”
The annual Ted (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference will not go ahead as planned, amid growing concerns about coronavirus.
Instead, attendees are being asked to vote on whether to postpone the Vancouver-based event until July or hold a virtual one.
A decision will be made next week.
Ted curator Chris Anderson said: “We are not cancelling. We have two compelling options for how to outwit this virus”.
In an email to attendees, he said: “As you know, the Covid-19 virus is spreading around the world, causing many challenges.
“We’ve heard from many of you asking whether we intend to press ahead with Ted 2020 – and the consensus of expert advice is that it would indeed be unwise to press ahead with the event in its current form in April.”
(18) ARGUS IN THE SKY. BBC reports a “UK firm plans ultra-high definition space videos”.
A UK company says it’s building a constellation of satellites to gather ultra-high definition (UHD) video of Earth’s surface.
London-based Sen hopes to have the first microwave oven-sized spacecraft in orbit by the middle of next year.
The idea is to provide real-time, or at least very timely, video of events unfolding on the planet, such as natural disasters.
Sen already has some UHD cameras in orbit, hosted on a Russian satellite.
These are primarily for inspection purposes, but they’re also steerable to look down and so give a sense of what the company’s future “EarthTV” concept might look like.
“Each of the satellites will have four cameras to put imagery into context, because that’s sort of the way the human brain works,” explained Charles Black, founder and CEO of Sen.
“So there’ll be wide-angle imagery, from about 250m a pixel to give that country-wide view, all the way down to our highest-resolution imager which is a small telescope that will be able to do 1.5m per pixel,” he told BBC News.
…”We actually compress the high-definition video onboard satellite, which means we can stream it back to the ground and don’t need a huge amount of bandwidth.
“We’re actually using the same algorithm as Netflix to do the compression. Because we do all that in space, we can get back really high-definition videos just using flight-proven X-band transmitter.”
(19) MOORE, PLEASE! Cora Buhlert assesses a Retro-Hugo-eligible story in “Retro Review: ‘No Woman Born’ by C.L. Moore”. BEWARE SPOILERS.
“No Woman Born” is a novelette by C.L. Moore, which was first published in the December 1944 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and is therefore eligible for the 1945 Retro Hugos. The magazine version may be found online here.
(20) NEW TODAY. An interesting, nuanced review of FX on Hulu’s DEVS, created by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation) which premieres today on Hulu. The Ringer’s Alison Herman says “‘Devs’ Is a TV Show—but It Feels Like Something Completely Different”. BEWARE SPOILERS.
There’s not much I can tell you about Devs. I can’t disclose, for instance, the precise nature of the show’s namesake, the top-secret research division of a Silicon Valley tech company named Amaya. I can’t reveal what Amaya’s gnomic founder, Forest (Nick Offerman), plans to do with Devs once its quantum computing system is perfected, nor the theoretical breakthroughs that lead to its perfection later in the limited series’ eight-episode season. I also can’t say why Devs was commissioned and paid for by FX but is available exclusively on Hulu in the latest wrinkle of the ongoing Disney-Fox merger, though that has more to do with reasons of personal comprehension than spoiler-dictated secrecy.
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Exploring the Surreal With Peter Capaldi” on YouTube is an introduction to surrealism, written by Jessica Lack, as part of the Tate Museum’s “Unlock Art” series. And hey, it’s Peter Capaldi!
[Thanks to Meredith, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, N., Daniel Dern, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Elton Jack Lint.]