(1) US IN FLUX. The latest story from the Center for Science and the Imagination’s Us in Flux project launched today: “The Wandering City,” a story about temporal anomalies, public spaces, and a new global consciousness by Usman T. Malik.
On Monday, 7/13 at 4pm Eastern, they’ll have another virtual event on Zoom with Usman in conversation with James Graham, an architect and historian and director of the great series Columbia Books on Architecture and the City. Register at the link.
(2) AURORA AWARDS VOTING. Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association members can now vote online for the Aurora Awards through July 25. You must be logged in with an active CSFFA membership in order to access the voting page.
In addition, our Nominee’s Page is now live.
This page provides informatin on this year’s Aurora nominees.
The Voter Package Downloads also give you access to many of the works up for the awards this year. Like with voting, you need to be logged in to the website with an active membership to access these downloads.
(3) OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN. [Item by Olav Rokne.] The Manchester Guardian newspaper pays tribute to Star Trek icon Sir Patrick Stewart on the advent of his 80th birthday today, printing reminiscences from numerous of Stewart’s friends, colleagues, and co-stars. It’s a delightful piece to read,and paints a picture of someone who is not only iconic, but warmly human. My favorite bit is from his X-Men co-star Ian McKellen: “He’s long forgiven me my advice not to risk a solid career on the British stage by falling for an uncertain future in Star Trek.” “‘He’s so strapping and virile’: Patrick Stewart at 80 – by Shatner, McKellen, Tennant and more”
‘I said: “Wear silk stockings to avoid chafing”’
He’s a love and he is an intellectual in an athlete’s body. We had a long horse scene to do together once, and I recommended him wearing women’s silk stockings to avoid chafing and he nodded his head as a thank you. When he came out of his dressing room, he was wearing the lace stockings outside of his costume. “No, no, Patrick, underneath your costume!” We laughed, as we ordinarily did. I didn’t know he was so old.
(4) BRIDGE PLAYER. In his own way. “Hugo Fan Writer: Why you should vote for…Paul Weimer” – fifth entry in Camestros Felapton’s series.
… It can’t be true that Paul Weimer knows everybody in science fiction but if we were to draw a huge network graph, I think Paul would be at on of those nodes that helps joins multiple groups together. A regular columnist and pod-casting panellist in multiple venues, Paul is an insightful observer of the wider landscape of science fiction and fantasy. Paul is a bridge that links communities and people (exemplified by his revival of the popular mind-meld posts (http://www.nerds-feather.com/2019/09/the-hugo-initiative-mind-meld-favorite.html ).
(5) CHILLING OUT. “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina to end with Part 4″ reports Entertainment Weekly.
…On Wednesday, Netflix announced that Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will conclude with Part 4 of the series, meaning that the final eight episodes will be the series’ last. Those eight episodes are set to air in late 2020 and will explore what happens when The Eldritch Terrors descend upon Greendale. (Odds are it won’t be good.)
(6) FANTASTIKA (SWECON 2020) NEWS. Even a postponement til October won’t work, so this year’s con is off. Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf told Facebook followers:
We had a committee meeting last Monday. We decided not to have Fantastika in October. We do not know when the restriction about having a max attendance of 50 persons is going to end. What we are thinking of is organising a smaller event for local fans in October with some items that are web based. We are also planning to move Fantastika to spring.
(7) THE PEOPLE SPEAK. Inverse ran a poll: “The Best Netflix Science Fiction Show, According To 1,200 Inverse Readers”. The winner is not a surprise, but I thought #2 was.
In an effort to decide which Netflix sci-fi show is actually the best, Inverse asked our readers to fill out an online poll and over 1,200 of you did (1,234 to be exact). Here are the results, presented from worst (or least popular) to best science fiction series.
In first place —
1. STRANGER THINGS
We always knew it would end this way. Stranger Things is Netflix’s biggest original anything ever, and it gets bigger with each new season. With 377 votes, it’s also the winner of our poll by a huge margin. And with Stranger Things Season 4 delayed indefinitely due to Covid-19, there’s never been a better time to rewatch the entire series, right?
(8) RETIRING, BUT NOT FROM READING. Shelf Awareness’ news item “Nan A. Talese Retiring at End of Year” ends with this quote from a major genre figure:
Margaret Atwood commented: “No editor has seen so many changes and done so much in publishing as the legendary and much beloved Nan Talese, known fondly to some as ‘the Nanster.’ She first came into my life at Simon & Schuster, then dragged me behind her troika as she galloped through the wilderness to Houghton Mifflin–where she acquired The Handmaid’s Tale sight unseen, in a preemptive bid–and then sashayed over to Doubleday. ‘Nanster, what are you doing?’ I cried in dismay. ‘I like a challenge,’ she said calmly, adjusting her white beret and trademark pearls. I can’t imagine her actually ‘retiring.’ It’s a figure of speech. She will continue reading, and reading my work, I hope, and offering commentary: ‘None of these people are very nice.’ “
(9) THE WRONG FUTURE. Megan Garber contends “Americans Are Living in an Alternate History” in The Atlantic.
…So I was unprepared when, watching Sliding Doors again recently, I found myself absolutely wrecked by the viewing. The movie’s perky setup was agonizing; its cheerful toggling between Helen’s two fates felt painful to witness. Because when I watched the movie this time around—in the midst of a global pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 people, with no end in sight—I wasn’t just thinking of Helen’s divergent futures. I was thinking of everyone else’s. To be alive in America right now is to be acutely aware of the paths not taken—to live, essentially, in the Sliding Doors proposition, and in the paradigm of the alternate history. Our news is doubly haunted: by the horror of real loss, and by the shadow of what might have been.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born July 9, 1926 – Murphy Anderson. Drew for Planet and Amazing; after his World War II service, also Fantastic Adventures and Buck Rogers. At DC he drew the Atom, Batman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, the Spectre, Superman; inked Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, Curt Swan; designed the costume of Adam Strange. Drew Wonder Woman for the first cover of Ms. Helped me with the L.A.con II Program Book (42nd Worldcon) when we gave the Forry Award to Julie Schwartz. Seven Alleys; Inkpot; Kirby, Eisner, Sinott Halls of Fame. (Died 2015) [JH]
- Born July 9, 1927 – Robert Goldston. Four novels for us, ten covers for Nebula (as by James Stark), like this (back cover by Ken McIntyre), and this and this (back covers by Atom). Guggenheim Fellowship. Histories, juveniles, many more. (Died 1982) [JH]
- Born July 9, 1927 — Susan Cabot. Her final film appearance was in Roger Corman’s horror feature, The Wasp Woman in which she played the lead role. She played Sybil Carrington in his earlier SF film, War of the Satellites. And in yet a third Corman film, The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent, she was Enger. (Died 1986.) (CE)
- Born July 9, 1938 — Brian Dennehy. He was Walter in the Cocoon films, and, though it’s more genre adjacent than actually genre, Lt. Leo McCarthy in F/X and F/X 2. He also voiced Django in Ratatouille. His very last performance was as Jerome Townsend in the “Sing, Sing, Sing” episode of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels series. (Died 2020.) (CE)
- Born July 9, 1911 — Mervyn Peake. Best remembered for the Gormenghast series which is delightfully weird. Most fans hold that there are but there novels in the series (Titus Groan, Gormenghast and Titus Alone) though there’s a novella, “Boy in Darkness”, that might be part of it. It has been adapted for radio three times and television once, and Gaiman is writing the script for a forthcoming series. (Died 1968.) (CE)
- Born July 9, 1945 – Dean Koontz, 75. A hundred novels, sixty shorter stories; nine pen names; translated into forty languages; 500 million copies sold. Used to look like Gordon Liddy but tired of it and changed. Warns that supposed appearances in fanzines after 1968 are suspect, the tale to be told in his memoirs. His Website is here. [JH]
- Born July 9, 1946 – Lynne Aronson, 74. Recruited by Phyllis Eisenstein. Entered the NyCon 3 Masquerade (25th Worldcon) in a dress made of magazine rejection slips. With husband Mark co-founded Windycon, chaired the first three, Guests of Honor at Windycon XV and XXX (some use Roman numerals, some don’t). Organized, if that word may be used in a fanzine, the Noreascon Two One-Shot Chorale (38th Worldcon). [JH]
- Born July 9, 1957 – Todd Lockwood, 63. A hundred eighty book and magazine covers, a hundred sixty interiors. Here is a cover for Analog. Here is Karavans. Here is Resurgence. Known too for Dungeons & Dragons. Twelve Chesleys, one for Cerberus the Aardvark. Artbook, Transitions. [JH]
- Born July 9, 1971 — Scott Grimes, 49. He’s Lieutenant Gordon Malloy. on The Orville, a show I’ve not watched and so would very much like to hear what y’all think of it. He did show up once in the Trek verse, playing Eric in the “Evolution“ episode Of Star Trek: The Next Generation. (CE)
- Born July 9, 1972 – Rachel Hartman, 48. Three novels; a dozen cartoons in Strange Horizons. Madrigal choir, the QuasiModals. Having shown us the Goreddi religion she takes particular interest in its saints and their dogs. Admits her chief failing as a Canadian is that she is not a hockey person, but she did interview Ngozi Ukazu. [JH]
- Born July 9, 1978 — Linda Park, 42. Best-known for her portrayal of communications officer character Hoshi Sato on the Enterprise. Her first genre role was Hannah in Jurassic Park III, she was Renee Hansen in Spectres which Marina Sirtis is also in. She was in some called Star Trek: Captain Pike three years back as Captain Grace Shintal. It has to be another one of those fan video fictions. (CE)
- Born July 9, 1995 — Georgina Henley, 25. English actress, best remembered for her portrayal of Lucy Pevensie throughout the Chronicles of Narnia film franchise from age ten to age fifteen. She’s listed as having an unspecified role in an untitled Game of Throne prequel series but given the number of those proposed, this may or may not exist. (CE)
(11) LEFTOVER MATERIALS. “Pullman to Publish New Story Set in World of His Dark Materials” — Publishers Weekly has the story.
In time for the 25th anniversary of his beloved fantasy series-starter The Golden Compass, British author Philip Pullman will publish a new standalone short story featuring Lyra Belacqua and her daemon Pan. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers announced today the October 15 release of Serpentine in hardcover and ebook format, featuring illustrations by Tom Duxbury. Listening Library will simultaneously release an audiobook, narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Olivia Colman (The Crown; The Favourite).
(12) IF THERE WERE AIRBNB REVIEWS OF THESE. Riley Sager, in “Don’t Stay In These Famous Literary Haunted Houses!” on CrimeReads, has Airbnb news of haunted houses where you shouldn’t go on vacation, including the house where The Amityville Horror was set “how can you list a place on this site and NOT MENTION THERE’S A DEMON PIG!” and the Overlook Hotel, setting for The Shining (“I’m not sorry the place was destroyed #sorrynotsorry”.)
(13) ON YOUR MARK. Nate Hoffelder’s good work in registering www.cirsova.com and pointing it at Black Lives Matter caught someone’s attention:
Hmm, a search of the US Patent and Trademark Office shows no dead or live attempts to register Cirsova as a trademark. Maybe Nate could do that next?
(14) THEY’RE SO EASILY CONFUSED. Rich Lynch insists “No, I am not trying to buy the New York Mets!” That’s a look-alike making sports news: “Steve Cohen is reportedly back in the running to buy the Mets”. Sort of twins separated at the age of 60?
(15) ON THE SQUARE. The New York Times says the North American Scrabble Players Association has ”agreed to remove all slurs from their word list for Scrabble tournament play.” “Scrabble Tournaments Move Toward Banning Racial and Ethnic Slurs”.
Josephine Flowers became a ranked, competitive Scrabble player more than a dozen years ago, and to commemorate the moment, she inscribed her custom-built game board with one of her favorite sayings: “Never underestimate the power of words.”
The phrase serves as a constant reminder to her that, even when people say that the words formed on a Scrabble board are supposedly divorced of meaning, they can still inflict pain.
That is why Flowers, who is Black, and several other members of the North American Scrabble Players Association, have called on the organization to ban the use of an anti-Black racial slur, and as many as 225 other offensive terms, from its lexicon.
“You could be sitting there for a 45-minute game just looking at that word,” said Flowers, a mental health worker from West Memphis, Ark. “And if you don’t know the person who played it, then you wonder, was it put down as a slight, or was it the first word that came to their mind?”
Needless to say, the article does not include a list of these 226 terms.
(16) QUICKER FIX. “Cathedral’s spire will be restored to 19th Century design”.
The spire of Notre Dame cathedral, which was destroyed in a fire last April, will be restored according to the original Gothic design.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced the decision, putting an end to speculation that the spire would be rebuilt in a modern style.
Mr Macron had previously hinted he was in favour of a “contemporary gesture”.
However he has said he wants the restoration to be completed by 2024, when Paris is hosting the Olympics.
The Elysée said Mr Macron’s main concern was “not delaying the reconstruction and making it complicated – things had to be cleared up quickly”.
It added that the process of designing a modern spire, with an international competition for architects, could have caused unnecessary delays.
(17) RATS LIKE US. “To Come To The Rescue Or Not? Rats, Like People, Take Cues From Bystanders” says NPR.
Rats will enthusiastically work to free a rat caught in a trap — and it turns out that they are especially eager to be a good Samaritan when they’re in the company of other willing helpers.
But that urge to come to the rescue quickly disappears if a potential hero is surrounded by indifferent rat pals that make no move to assist the unfortunate, trapped rodent.
These findings, reported Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, suggest that rats are similar to people in that they’re usually eager to help, but bystanders can affect whether or not they’ll take action in an emergency.
“We are constantly looking at others to see their reactions. And this is not a human thing. This is a mammalian thing,” says Peggy Mason, a neurobiologist at the University of Chicago, adding that it’s something she watches play out in the daily news.
…”With the addition of more and more bystanders, the likelihood of helping goes progressively lower,” Mason explains. “It’s in every textbook. It’s a pillar of modern psychology.”
Until recently, though, the bystander effect had only been tested in humans. And Mason studies rats.
Many people might find it tricky keeping quiet through an entire roller coaster ride, but one Japanese theme park wants you to do that – and more.
Fuji-Q Highland near Tokyo re-opened last month after its virus shutdown.
It asked riders to avoid screaming when they go on its rollercoasters, to minimise spreading droplets, and instead “scream inside your heart”.
And to encourage people to play along, it’s getting riders to put on their most “serious face” for the ride photo.
They can share their photo online in the #KeepASeriousFace challenge, and those who do best will be given free day passes
…The no screaming rule – in addition to the mandatory use of masks – is meant to stop potential virus-carrying droplets from flying out of your mouth at 80mph.
Clearly, it’ll be impossible to enforce this ruling – and according to executives who spoke to the Wall Street Journal, violations will not actually be punished.
But it’s all part of measures being taken by theme parks to give customers the confidence to return after the shutdowns, and assure them their safety is being taken seriously.
[Thanks to Olav Rokne, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]