Octocon 2022

Michael Carroll, Pippa and Helen Ryder, GOHs; Raissa Perez, Chair Octocon 2022. Photos by Dave McConnell

By James Bacon: Octocon 2022, the Irish National SF convention, emerged from the pandemic to successfully present a hybrid event in a new venue and it went very well.

It was so nice to be home amongst fans in Dublin enjoying catching up, hearing about new projects, new works, new ideas all the time within easy reach of chairs and tables, relaxing with a pint and looking over the green of the pitch of the legendary Croke Park.  

I had my nieces for some of the time on Saturday, kids could go free, so that was kind, and they got into the swing of things coming in cosplay and immediately joining the Lego session and making some fascinating space ships to a story.   Octocon feels young, be it attendees or organisers. I am on the team but am possibly the oldest, and the energy and enthusiasm of the fans present while shared is great to see.  

Photo by Dave McConnell

Younger engagement was a key aspect of the programme, kids and teens programme was highlighted, the youngest attendee was 15 months old, she was issued her own badge which was given to her parents for safekeeping while the youngest panelist was 12 years old, and was delighted to proudly wear her panelist ribbon.

Raissa Perez the Octocon chair who has successfully steered the team through three conventions, was visibly ecstatic to be in Croke Park, a venue she was familiar with. Raissa’s ability to pivot to virtual with a fabulous team saw Octocon grow its virtual presence with 600 online members last year and now to dynamically go hybrid demonstrated a skilful approach by all involved., requiring commitment and determination from all the volunteers as this further change brought fresh challenges.

Running a hybrid convention, in the sense that there was an online programme, streaming of programme in person and social space online, is without doubt very tasking on convention running teams. Here success was achieved well, the volunteers all working very hard, in person and online.  The strengths of the online aspect was utilised bringing new guests to members while allowing those unable to travel to enjoy the range of discussions and a lively, amusing and educational watch party of Nosferatu also took place.

The venue was ample in size, the conference facilities seemed to work well for attendees and the Croke Park staff were welcoming, a workshop room, main programme, dealers, secondary programme, fan chats and ample socialising space with a bar ran on the same floor. As experience grows with the venue, I expect some aspects will be refined and adjusted to suit the convention, but there is ample space for expansion and growth. 

As well as bringing us safely to Croke Park, Raissa helped bring back aspects of Octocon that had slipped away. Costuming had been a strong aspect of Octocons early years and it returned in strength this year with a dedicated Cosplay team and competition a surprisingly large amount of entries.  Kids and juniors also got involved and it was impressive to see so many people looking fabulous.

Photo by Dave McConnell

This year’s guests of honour were Michael Carroll, Philippa and Helen Ryder. All three are fans, while Michael and Philippa have received much fame and respect for their professional writing. The three of them have been an integral part of Irish Fandom, conventions, publications, meetings, all fan activities that they have spent vast amounts of time and energy bringing to fruition. All three have worked and chaired Octocons.  

This meant the History of Irish Fandom panel was definitely a history! Pippa could speak to the Irish contingent that went to the Brighton Worldccon in 1979 and the nature of the 1970’s Irish Science Fiction Association and the first SF conventions, ISFAcon in the Eighties. Legendary and Brian Nisbet were able to speak to gaming conventions, which mostly emanated from universities. Social Media is such that as this conversation was ongoing, a pal of mine, now lost to us, Mick O’Connor popped up as a memory at an Octocon ten years previous, such synchronicity.

The ISFA was a nexus for Irish fandom. The association itself had newsletters, fiction magazines, workshops, special events, art shows, and monthly meetings. I recall fondly Clive Barker doing a special interview meeting, and of course the Pub Quiz nights. The three guests on the panel were heavily involved in the association. Out of the ISFA Octocon was born, but so many fans who were members, or attended the monthly pub gatherings went on to do more, there was Timewarp a Star Trek Convention than ran twice in the nineties, Sproutlore, which went on to spawn five conventions of its own, Starbase ireland a Star Trek fanclub, Visicon, Nine P-Con’s, two Eurocons and a Worldcon. In actual fact one can trace a vast amount of Fan Activity back to the ISFA. .  

Mention of course was made of Harry Harrison’s World SF writers conference in 1976 as well as a story about Harry Harrison at Trincon 1, the first of two SF cons at Trinity University. The 1992 Octocon with its 600 attendees was mentioned – boosted past the expected 200 members by the national broadcaster RTE giving coverage in its guide mentioning Star Trek offhandedly and encouraging fans along. Concept a more relaxed convention which was planned to be held at Celtworld in Wexford in 1993 and didn’t come to pass was explored.

History is very subjective, and fans will associate their own entry point strongly, and while the ISFA is without doubt a crucial point in history, it has been extant now for nearly twenty years, and in that time Anime Conventions and Comic Conventions have stormed forth with great success, gaming cons have been consistent while other more specialised events have been very successful as festivals have grown. Fanac.org got a mention as there is now quite a bit of Irish material there, and I think it was Helen Ryder suggested the ISFA makes a return. Brian Nisbet was an encyclopaedia of Irish gaming cons, there really wasn’t enough time, and in retrospect Raissa should have been on this panel to talk about the anime conventions, Eirtikon and Jcon which were impressive, though really a sequence of panels looking at each decade is probably very feasible.

Michael Carroll made mention of something though that is so vital, connecting with fans, and this is more important than ever, while the internet is amazing, one has to find conventions to get to them, he noted that he found the ISFA from a flyer in a shop, and I noted that Mick worked in Phantasia when I met him and others, Padraig in Dandelion books was another source of fans and this year Octocon had a wonderful window display in Hodges Figgis the week of the convention. We still need to reach out, to go to where fans will be, shops and libraries, and Comic Cons, where also this year a team from Octocon had a table.

I was sitting down the back, as one does with fellow previous Octocon Chair Maura McHugh and I said how interesting it is to see the little different recollections of the same thing with a bit at variance with my own memories. 

Philippa and Helen Ryder had produced a fanzine Through Space and Time a personal journey in Irish Science Fiction, Part 1, 1970 – 90 and this was picked up eagerly by fans, and I understand soon to be available on efanzines.com and Fanac.   

Maura McHugh had been on a panel about Irish Horror Films with Jon O Sullivan, amongst others from which I took some excellent recommendations.  Dead Meat by Dubliner Eddie King seems to be the starting point of a new epoch of Irish Horror Films in 2006. Based on my notes, here were a list of films recommended, Dark Song, Grabbers, The Lodgers, Hole in the ground, Byzantium,  Boys from County Hell, Mad God, Hellbender, You are not my mother and Sea Fever.  Ygraine Hackett-Cantabranna who was also on the panel had written a Fangoria article earlier in the year which was the source of inspiration for the panel and I was pleased at how knowledgeable some of the panelists were.  

I picked up The Elementals and Spyfunk, different anthologies as they had stories by Russell A. Smith stories which I was interested in reading, and Russell is a supporter and participant of Octocon and it was nice to be able to pick up his stories in these books. Spyfunk is an anthology of Spy Stories with characters who are from Africa or of African heritage and it’s a cracking selection edited by Milton J Davis. As well as Russell’s story, which I read first and was well impressed with, I thought Eugene Bacon’s story was quite wonderful with a fantastical element to it, but they were all quite quick reads which really delivered, entertaining while being fresh and fun. Russell’s story in The Elementals was a different prospect, set in London, it felt very real and very current, albeit with a magically abled protagonist, a young witch who is able to manipulate water and air and whose plans for a nice weekend gets complex both with real life problems, her cousin gets arrested and then the fantastical. A nice read, it feels very honest and genuine in its London setting, giving a strong sense of place and another quick read. 

Russell A. Smith and James Bacon. Photo by Dave McConnell

Overall, it was a smashing weekend. It was interesting to see how people adjusted to the return, with a total of 409 members, 283 people attended the convention in person, 49 of whom joined on the door, 185 members attended virtually and the programme was excellent, both online and in person. The con worked well. They sought support from Dublin and Fingal Libraries, Unesco City of Literature, Glasgow 2024 and Dublin 2019, and it was nice to see Libraries present where readers could actually borrow books.

Too soon it was over. Next year’s Octocon awaits a date confirmation, but fans are already signing up here

Photo by Dave McConnell

Pixel Scroll 10/23/22 The Scrolls Of The Prophets Are Written In The Pixel Files

(1) THE LIBRARY OF RAY’S YOUTH. “Work begins on renovation of Carnegie Library building” in Waukegan, IL reports the Chicago Tribune in a paywalled story.

Janet Kilkelly, the president of the Waukegan Park District’s Board of Commissioners and the city clerk, remembers spending time in her youth at the Carnegie Library, built in 1903 at the northeast corner of Washington Street and Sheridan Road.

“The children’s room was there,” Kilkelly said, pointing to the room to the left as people walk in the door thinking about how it will soon be the home of the Waukegan History Museum. “It was a magical place. I like books. This was nirvana.”

Kilkelly led a group of federal, state and local officials at the groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday in front of the Carnegie as a prelude to the start of construction for the renovation of the former library into the permanent home of the museum.

…“It will be a chance for them to learn about the history of Waukegan,” Kilkelly said. “Perhaps one of them will be inspired like the young Ray Bradbury when he spent his days here,” she added, referring to the Waukegan native and world-renowned author.

Ty Rohrer, the Park District’s manager of cultural affairs, the chair of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission and a historian by profession, said the onetime children’s reading room will be redone to look as it did in Bradbury’s youth.

When complete, Rohrer said the room will contain the collection of papers, books and other memorabilia Bradbury willed to the Waukegan Public Library. The collection will be there on a long-term loan from the library to the museum….

(2) SPOILERY DOCTOR WHO NEWS. Don’t even hover your cursor over the link to Deadline’s coverage of Jodie Whittaker’s last Doctor Who episode if you want to preserve all surprises til you can view it yourself. On the other hand, if you want to know what happened, click through.  

(3) CORFLU AWARDS. Corflu today adopted Tom Becker’s proposal that fwa, the “fan writers of America”, be changed to mean “fan writers association”, with the proviso that “writer” stands in for any creative fannish endeavor. Subsequently, Claire Brialey was elected “past president of fwa” for 2021.

Also, Geri Sullivan was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

(4) IRISH NATIONAL SF CON COVID REPORT. [Item by Edmund Schluessel.] Octocon 2022 returned to in-person in its new venue of Croke Park, Dublin and, with 283 warm bodies present, reports NO cases of COVID-19 one week after the convention wrapped.

Octocon had a policy of mandatory masks (exemptions were available) and requested all in-person members take self-tests before attending.

From the post-Octocon edition of the members’ newsletter: “Thank you to everyone for complying with our mask requirements. We would like to remind people to let us know if they have tested positive following Octocon, either by using our #covid-safety channel on Discord, which has a ticketing bot to create a private message thread visible only to the committee, or by contacting [email protected]. We’re happy to report that we’ve had no reports of positive tests so far.”

(5) FINLAY ART OFFERED. Doug Ellis has been asked to raise some money quickly for Virgil Finlay’s granddaughter, Brien, and so rather than putting together his usual type of catalog, Ellis has taken pictures of 42 pieces of Finlay art that have not appeared in any of his catalogs and posted the images here on Dropbox.

All of this art is on consignment from Brien.  All of the files have an identifying number in the image together with the price, and that info also is included in the file name (except for the one Word file, which contains info on the size of each piece). The prices do NOT include shipping.

If you’d like to purchase any of these, please email Doug Ellis at [email protected] 

(6) FLY FREE. The SFWA Blog series “The Indie Files” continues with Anthony W. Eichenlaub’s advice about “An Indie Approach to Series”.

…Fixing a Series After Publication

You’ve crunched the numbers. Readers who get through the second book in your series tend to read every book after that. You expect a dropoff from the first to the second, but the numbers are terrible, and you know why:

The first book isn’t good.

You’ve grown as a writer, and now that book’s flaws are painfully obvious. The later books in your series are fantastic. Reviews are great. People who get that far are turning into your best fans. The problem is that most of them just aren’t getting that far.

A traditionally published author would likely be stuck. They could either work on a new series or, if their publisher allowed it, continue to crank out books hoping to overcome the weak start with rave reviews for later entries.

An indie author has the power to fix a bad Book 1. You can go in and tweak a few things, send it through another round of edits, or even in extreme circumstances, give it a complete rewrite. You can make the imperfect first book a prequel or even remove it entirely, promoting Book 2 to the first spot….

(7) JUSTIN E.A. BUSCH DIES. [Item by George Phillies.] Justin Edwin Anton Busch, editor of the N3F zine Films Fantastic and monthly fanzine review column “Fanfaronade”, died peacefully in his sleep in the early evening of Friday, October 21, 2022. His death, while untimely, was not unexpected.

Justin E. A. Busch, a long-time fan from St. Paul, Minnesota authored the nonfiction work The Utopian Vision of H.G. Wells, published by McFarland Company in 2009.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1962 [By Cat Eldridge.] Bradbury wrote one of the shortest opening narrations that Serling gave in the series:

They make a fairly convincing pitch here. It doesn’t seem possible, though, to find a woman who must be ten times better than mother in order to seem half as good, except, of course, in the Twilight Zone. — “I Sing the Body Electric”

Though I didn’t know that Bradbury had a script produced for the one and true Twilight Zone, it doesn’t at all surprise me that he did. I had assumed Serling wrote all of the episodes. Not true as it turns out, to my delight, as we get the “I Sing the Body Electric”. It is said that he contributed several scripts to The Twilight Zone, but this was the only one produced. He certainly was no stranger to tv script writing with five scripts for the Alfred Hitchcock Presents series alone. 

This would air as the thirtieth-fifth episode of the third season on May 18, 1962. This was one of six Twilight Zones episodes directed by James Sheldon and his co-director William Clazton who did four. 

LOOK, GO EAT A CANDY APPLE FOR A MINUTE PLEASE. 

Just three words this time— sweet robotic grandmothers. Ok, a few more. My god, this episode drips with cloyness, it does. A recent widower, needing care for his three young children, orders a robotic “grandmother”. Two of the children accept her, but one of his daughters adamantly rejects her, with what might be near fatal consequences. 

DID YOU ENJOY THAT CANDY APPLE? 

You can see it on Paramount +

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 23, 1880 Una O’Connor. Actress who appeared in the 1930s The Invisible Man as Jenny Hall. She had a bit part in Bride of Frankenstein, and a supporting role in the genre-adjacent The Adventures of Robin Hood. Though not even genre adjacent, she was Mrs. Peters in the film adaptation of Graham Greene’s Stamboul. Great novel, I’ll need to see if I can find this film. She’s in The Canterville Ghost, and shows up twice in TV’s Tales of Tomorrow anthology series. And that’s it. (Died 1959.)
  • Born October 23, 1918 James Daly. He was Mr. Flint in Trek‘s “Requiem for Methuselah” episode. He also showed up on The Twilight ZoneMission:Impossible and The Invaders. He was Honorious in The Planet of The Apes, and Dr. Redding in The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler.  (Died 1978.)
  • Born October 23, 1935 Bruce Mars, 87. Here for his most excellent role on Star Trek in the “Shore Leave” episode as Finnegan. Earlier he had been brought in to audition for the role of Junior Navigations Officer Dave Bailey in episode “The Corbomite Maneuver” but someone else got that part, but he did come back for a part in “Assignment Earth” where he was listed as First Policeman.  He had one-offs in Time TunnelVoyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Mission: Impossible. He is now Brother Paramananda with the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles which he joined shortly after ending his acting career in 1969. 
  • Born October 23, 1948 Brian Catling. Author of The Vorrh trilogy whose first novel, The Vorrh, has an introduction by Alan Moore. Writing was just one facet of his work life as he was a sculptor, poet, novelist, film maker and performance. And artist. Impressively he held Professor of Fine Art at the [John] Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford and was a fellow of Linacre College. Yeah that John Ruskin. (Died 2022.)
  • Born October 23, 1953 Ira Steven Behr, 69. Best remembered for his work on the Trek franchise, particularly Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, on which he served as showrunner and executive producer. As writer and or producer, he has been in involved in Beyond RealityDark AngelThe Twilight ZoneThe 4400Alphas, and Outlander
  • Born October 23, 1959 Sam Raimi, 63. Responsible for, and this is not a complete listing, the Darkman franchise, M.A.N.T.I.S., the Jack of All Trades series that Kage loved, the Cleopatra 2525 series, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess series and the Spider-Man trilogy. 
  • Born October 23, 1969 Trudi Canavan, 53. Australian writer who’s won two Ditmars for her Thief’s Magic and A Room for Improvement novels and two Aurealis Awards as well, one for her “Whispers of the Mist Children” short story, and one for The Magician’s Apprentice novel.  It’s worth noting that she’s picked up two Ditmar nominations for her artwork as well. 
  • Born October 23, 1974 Naomi Alderman, 48. English novelist and game writer. The Power with its premise being the women suddenly the ability to release electrical waves from their hands, thus leading them to become the dominant sex. The novel is set to be turned an Amazon Prime Video television series, but what isn’t? She’s also written two Doctor Who novels set in the new series, Borrowed Time and Time Lapse, and some short fiction there as well.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) COSTUME PARTY. Lis Carey’s dog Cider went to a Howloween party at the dog park today.

(12) HIDE THAT BOOK! To enrich your Colleen Hoover knowledge, we bring you Mayi H.S. Hughes’ article “In Defense of Colleen Hoover: Intellectual Snobbery at Harvard” from The Harvard Crimson.

A few weeks ago, I did something bizarre. I was sitting in the dining hall, reading a book when my friend approached me from behind and, peering over my shoulder, asked me what I was reading. Almost immediately, I slammed the book shut and spluttered, “Oh, nothing.”.

As the conversation moved on, my eyes turned to the cover of my Colleen Hoover novel, which I had so shamefully hidden. The truth is, I was embarrassed. I had bought the book solely because of a TikTok video, with thousands of likes and comments raving about Hoover’s “It Ends With Us.” Having been up all night ripping through its pages, I had come to several conclusions: It was a terribly written book; it was repulsively predictable ]; and most importantly, I loved it.

My shame of being found reading Colleen Hoover stemmed from a culture of intellectual snobbery — feeling superior and prideful about the type of culture you consume. It’s the person who prides themselves on their knowledge of “classical” literature, listing off the last names of authors such as John Milton, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austen as if they are family friends….

…David M. Levine, a Theater, Dance, and Media professor, described intellectual snobbery as “automatically excluding materials from intellectual consideration because they give immediate pleasure.” Being an intellectual snob means feeling superior to e mass culture, due to the status and inaccessibility of the type of culture you consume, literary and beyond.

Intellectual snobbery can feel especially pervasive at Harvard, where books like Hoover’s are rarely on reading lists. But her work was clearly popular amongst the masses – number one in the New York Times Best Sellers List as of January 2022. It was an easy read with a simple plot….

(13) TITANS MOVE TO THE CITY. That’s The City. HBO Max dropped this trailer for the new season of Titans last week.

Having saved Gotham, the Titans hit the road to head back to San Francisco. But after a stop in Metropolis, they find themselves in the crosshairs of a supernatural cult with powers unlike anything they’ve faced before.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Andy Martin asks if people can stand the titanic genius of Mr. Director.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Lis Carey, Doug Ellis, Jeffrey Smith, Lise Andreasen, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dan’l Danehy-Oakes.]

Pixel Scroll 10/27/21 Just Pixel A Name At Random From Your Scrollodex

(1) THE BUZZ. Disney and Pixar’s Lightyear will be released June 17, 2022. Chris Evans voices Buzz. As Variety ‘explains, “Lightyear doesn’t follow the toy-sized, space-faring exploits of Tim Allen’s iconic character. Rather, the 2022 film introduces the ‘real-life’ human astronaut whose adventures inspired the toy line seen in the ‘Toy Story’ franchise.”

The sci-fi action-adventure presents the definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear—the hero who inspired the toy—introducing the legendary Space Ranger who would win generations of fans.

(2) SHIRLEY JACKSON CONSIDERED. Ellen Datlow along with Laurence Hyman, Nate King, and Bernice Murphy discuss “Shirley Jackson” in episode 12 of the American Writers Museum podcast.

In this episode, we’ll discuss the life and work of multi-dimensional writer Shirley Jackson, perhaps best known for her horror novels and short stories. We’re joined by three guests whose lives and careers have been influenced greatly by Jackson in different ways.

(3) COME ONE, COME ALL. Ringmaster James Davis Nicoll invites Tor.com readers to “Step Right Up! Five Recent Fantasy Stories Set at a Circus”.

Circuses! They seem like such a safe, wholesome source of communal entertainment. Yet, many who’ve ventured under a circus big top have faced unexpected consequences—some quite dangerous for performers in real life. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that the circus provides such a lively—and occasionally treacherous—setting for these five recent fantasies….

(4) GAIA & FRIENDS. Isaac Arthur’s episode on “Sentient Planets & World Consciousnesses” includes examples from films, comics, games and books with authors like Isaac Asimov, Peter Watts and Alastair Reynolds cited.

(5) I’M SORRY I’LL READ THAT AGAIN. Fireside editor Brian J. White found he needed to explain yesterday’s story notification email to recipients:

We’ve gotten a handful of messages about today’s weekly story notification email and wanted to send out a clarification: We made a mistake in not thinking about how that notification for the story “Not Quite What We’re Looking for Right Now” would look in people’s inboxes. The email that went out about and hour and a half ago wasn’t a misdirected story rejection, it’s a short story written in the form of a story rejection, and the blurbs I wrote around it didn’t make that clear. Sorry for the confusion this has caused, and thanks to the folks who let us know about it.

(6) A MODEST GOSPEL-HORROR, UNASKED QUESTION. Virtual convention programmers! Michael Toman has an item to suggest:

It occurred to me ask if anyone out there might be interested in including a “Gospel-Horror” panel and/or performance at a convention this year or maybe sometime safer?

This Interested Listener really enjoyed listening to live choral music from “Game of Thrones” and other shows at the last Loscon I attended.

Sorry, but “names to my mind come there none…”

I would buy a “Zoom Ticket” for something like this to help support fannish musical activity, especially since I’m still “Live Audience Hesitant” about poking my Grizzled, Geezer Guy Snout out of my Own Private, Paper Labyrinth Burrow.

(7) MISSING FIFTH. “Reading with… Cherie Priest” at Shelf Awareness includes this list:

Your top five authors:

In no particular order, Terry Pratchett (especially the Witch novels); Dashiell Hammett (especially the Continental Op stories); Barbara Hambly (her gothics are my comfort reading); Caitlín Kiernan (all of their novels, but Kiernan is also one of the only short story writers I regularly keep up with); and I’m having too much trouble narrowing down another half dozen folks for a fifth. I’d hate to leave anyone out–so let’s call number five a wild card spot, eh?

(8) CASTING CALL. “Bill Murray Has a Role in ‘Ant-Man & the Wasp 3;”. He told a German newspaper that he appears in the upcoming Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania.

I recently made a Marvel movie. I probably can’t tell you about it, but it doesn’t matter. In any case, some people were quite surprised why I decided on such a project of all things. But for me it was very clear: I got to know the director – and I really liked him a lot. He was funny, humble, everything you want from a director. And with the cheerleading story “Bring It On – Girls United” he made a film years ago that I think is damn good. So I accepted, even though I’m not otherwise interested in these huge comic book adaptations as an actor.

(9) BOOK LOVER. In “Why Denis Villeneuve Made ‘Dune’ for Himself”, The Atlantic questions the director about “The Blockbuster That Hollywood Was Afraid to Make.”

When I asked him about his film adaptation of Dune, the writer-director Denis Villeneuve quickly held up his prized copy of Frank Herbert’s book, a French-translation paperback with a particularly striking cover that he’s owned since he was 13. “I keep the book beside me as I’m working,” Villeneuve told me cheerfully over Zoom. “I made this movie for myself. Being a hard-core Dune fan, the first audience member I wanted to please was myself. Everything you receive is there because I love it.”…

(10) HERBERT’S FATHERING ROLE REFLECTED IN DUNE. The New Yorker’s Ed Park seems to have written a more interesting article than the one seen by the headline-writer: “The Enduring Appeal of ‘Dune’ as an Adolescent Power Fantasy”.

…Unlike Lynch or Alejandro Jodorowsky—the Chilean-French filmmaker who planned and failed to make a hallucinogenic twelve-hour version of “Dune” in the seventies—Villeneuve was a “Dune” fan from childhood, having come to the book at age thirteen. His connection to the material shows. The melancholy atmospheres of the alien-contact tale “Arrival” and the dystopian “Blade Runner” sequel are transmuted into a sort of interstellar emo, so that the dreams, fears, and ambitions of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) become as central to the film as the special effects and political skulduggery. Chalamet is twenty-five—the same age that Kyle MacLachlan was when Lynch’s “Dune” came out—but slighter, more vulnerable, closer to the “stringy whipcord of a youth” that Herbert describes….

(11) MEMORY LANE.

1934 – Eighty-seven years ago this day, Los Angeles got its Science Fiction club. The Los Angeles chapter of the Science Fiction League (No. 4) began meeting in 14-year-old Roy Test Jr.’s family garage on October 27, 1934. At LASFS’ 75 anniversary banquet  Roy joked that his mother, Wanda Test, volunteered to be club secretary as a way to come to the meetings “and see what kind of oddballs I was associating with. Maybe it didn’t occur to her I was the oddest one there.” She was the club’s first secretary and her minutes became known as “Thrilling Wanda Stories.” (The prozine Wonder Stories ran an article about the birth of the club in the February 1935 issue.)

Ten years after first LASFL meeting, Roy Test, Jr. was an Army Air Corps bomber pilot stationed in England. In 2005, at the age of 83, he could still wear his pink and greens from WWll. (SGVN Staff Photo/Sarah Reingewirtz, SVCITY)

Rob Hansen also points out today is the anniversary of the first meeting of the Ilford Science Literary Circle in 1930 – “If British fandom has a birthday, this is it.” 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 27, 1937 Steve Sandor. He made his first genre appearance on Trek playing Lars in the second season episode “The Gamesters of Triskelion.” He also did one-offs on Knight RiderFantasy Island and The Six-Million Dollar Man. He did a choice bit of horror in The Ninth Configuration. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 27, 1939 John Cleese, 82. Monty Python of course, but also Time BanditsMary Shelley’s Frankenstein, two Bond films as Q and even two Harry Potter films as Nearly Headless Nick. He’s definitely deep into genre film roles. And let’s not forget he shows up as an art lover on the “City of Death” story, a Fourth Doctor story. 
  • Born October 27, 1948 Bernie Wrightson. Artist who with writer Len Wein is known for co-creating Swamp Thing. He did a lot of illustrations from Cemetery Dance magazine to Stephen King graphic novels to DC and Marvel comics. Tell me what you liked about his work.) Some of his horror work at Creepy magazine  is now available as Creepy Presents Bernie Wrightson at the usual digital suspects. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 27, 1950 James L. Conway, 71. Director who has worked on all four on the new Trek franchise series: Next GenerationVoyagerDeep Space Nine and Enterprise.  He’s also done work on CharmedSmallville, Supernatural, the most excellent Magicians and Orville
  • Born October 27, 1953 Robert Picardo, 68. He debuted in genre as Eddie Quist, the serial killer werewolf in The Howling. He’d be in Dante’s ExplorersLooney Tunes: Back in ActionGremlins 2: The New BatchSmall Soldiers and Innerspace. And then of course he played the role of the Emergency Medical Hologram (EMH) on Voyager and on Star Trek: First Contact as well. And he even managed to appear on Stargate SG-1.  Like many Trek performers, he shows up on the Orville series as he played Ildis Kitan in a recurring role.
  • Born October 27, 1963 Deborah Moore, 57. English actress and the daughter of actor Roger Moore and Italian actress Luisa Mattioli. She’s an Air Hostess in Die Another Day, a Pierce Brosnan Bond film. And she was a secretary in Goldeneye: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming. Her very first role was as Princess Sheela in Warriors of the Apocalypse. She was in Top Line an Italian SF film.  
  • Born October 27, 1970 Jonathan Stroud, 51. His djinn-centered Bartimaeus series is most excellent. Though considered children’s novels, I think anyone would enjoy them. I’ve also read the first two in his Lockwood & Co. series as well — very well done.

(13) COMIC STRIP.

  • Bizarro shows the Roman insurance industry at work.
  • Off the Mark shows Dr. Frankenstein’s heartbreak.

(14) VIRTUAL IRISH CONVENTION. Cora Buhlert spent the first October weekend at Octocon, the Irish National Science Fiction Convention, which was virtual this year “for obvious reasons” as she noted: “Cora’s Adventures at the Virtual 2021 Octocon”.

…On Sunday, I was on the panel about “Uncovering the Hidden Treasures of the Past” with Michael Carroll, who was also the Octocon Guest of Honour, Cheryl Morgan, Deirdre Thornton. Ian Moore was the moderator. This panel was recorded and may be watched along with other great content at the Octocon Twitch channel.

Now everybody who knows me should know that I love talking about old SFF and the many great stories and novels of past decades that are not nearly as well known as they should be, so that was exactly the right panel for me. We agreed that reading and discussing older SFF is valuable, because it shows us where the genre came from and how it got where it is now. Besides, actually reading older SFF and not just the few books anointed classics either is also the best antidote against the common claim that women, people of colour, LGBTQ people, [insert minority here] were not writing SFF before the current time, because women, people of colour, LGBTQ people, etc… were always part of the genre, we have just chosen to forget and ignore many of them, denying the writers who follow role models….

(15) HAPPY 125TH ANNIVERSARY TO THE OTHER, OR AT LEAST ANOTHER, TBR. [Item by Daniel Dern.] TBR is, according to the lead essay in “The Very First Cover of the Book Review” in its Sunday October 24, 2021 edition, stands for “The Book Review” — “not to be confused with “to be read,” as the lead paragraph quickly notes. Its fuller non-acronymic initial name is NYTBR, as in, the New York Times Book Review, or, as I (and, I’m sure many others, including no doubt some of you), the Sunday Book Review section. (Possibly fewer these years because you’re reading it online, and so lacking the physical sectionality.)

This 125th-anniversary issue celebrates itself by reprinting reviews, essays, and a few letters, notable and interesting (and in some cases often amusing) from a mix of the book being reviewed, or the author reviewing it, and, in some cases, the letters.

(Since I’m a print-and-digital subscriber, I don’t know how much is visible through the paywall — or rather, how many articles the Times‘ free account offer permits. There does appear to currently be a buck-a-week-for-a-year digital offer, I see… so, assuming that New York Times digital access isn’t like Pringles potato chips (the process of cooking in their stackable format invented, as I’ve only recently learned, by Gene Wolfe, a name that dagnab better be familiar to 97% or greater of File 770 readers), you can enjoy this anniversary section within a week, for a buck, and then cancel. Or borrow a friend’s copy.)

For example (based on what I’ve read so far plus looking at the table of contents):

  • In Letters, Jack London responding to a review of his prizefighting story, “The Game,” that found fault with its realism:

I doubt if this reviewer has had as much experience in such matters as I have. I doubt if he knows what it is to be knocked out, or to knock out another man. I have had these experiences, and it was out of these experiences, plus a fairly intimate knowledge of prizefighting in general, that I wrote “The Game.”… I have just received a letter from Jimmy Britt, lightweight champion of the world, in which he tells me that he particularly enjoyed “The Game” on “account of its trueness to life.”

  • James Baldwin’s review of Alex Haley’s book, Roots
  • Rex Stout (creator of the Nero Wolfe books, of course — which include, along with detecting, many discussions of fine cooking, mostly between Wolfe and in-house chef Fritz Brenner) reviews The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book,
  • Sportswriter Roger Angell reviews “Books About Babe Ruth” (four biographies)
  • Vladimir Nabakov reviews Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Nausea” translated into English… spending a good chunk of the review showing and faulting sample translation inaccuracies.
  • A review of James Joyce’s “Ulysses.”

And with that, I’m going to go back, and finish reading Stout’s review of Toklas’ recipes.

(16) JIM JEFFERIES ON HALLOWEEN. “I Don’t Know About That with Jim Jefferies” devotes an episode to Halloween, discussing the holiday with Lisa Morton, six-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author and host of the “Spine Tinglers with Lisa Morton” podcast.

(17) HAVE SPACE SUITS, NO TRAVELLERS. Futurism.com finds a “Space Tourism Company Cancels Launch Because It Couldn’t Find any Passengers”.

In what could be a serious reality check for the buzz-filled space tourism industry, its most established player says it had to cancel its upcoming launch with SpaceX because it couldn’t find any viable — and sufficiently wealthy — passengers for the journey.

“The mission was marketed to a large number of our prospective customers, but ultimately the mix of price, timing and experience wasn’t right at that particular time and our contract with SpaceX expired,” [Space Adventures] company spokesperson Stacey Tearne told SpaceNews. “We hope to revisit the offering in the future.”…

(18) NOT GONE WITH THE WIND. If, no matter what the mission commander thinks, you want all the “gory details,” the New York Times article supplies them: “SpaceX’s Latest Engineering Challenge: A Leaky Toilet”.

…Jared Isaacman, the Inspiration4 mission commander, told CNN, “Nobody really wants to get into the gory details.”

Crew Dragon has more interior space than a minivan, but less than a studio apartment, and there is no proper bathroom. Instead, it has a device on its ceiling that astronauts use to relieve themselves — remember, there’s no up or down in microgravity. The device creates suction using an internal fan, crucial to ensuring human waste goes in the right direction in the weightlessness of space. Some officials vaguely said the toilet problem involved the fan, prompting even more questions.

A closely held secret no more….

(19) MAJOR EVENT AT THE SEC. Starting this weekend, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) will be held in Glasgow at the SEC, which is also the proposed site for the Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon bid. A reader asks the question, “Will there be any spin-off benefit from this COP event (new facilities, kit etc)? Are the bid team actively keeping an eye on this?”

(20) BLUE MARBLE. This Muppets video dropped earlier in the week and is part of the forthcoming environmental special Dear Earth.

The Muppets perform the 70’s classic Mr. Blue Sky. It’s all part of the Dear Earth special; an epic global celebration of our planet and what we need to do to slow climate change. Sprinkled with musical performances Dear Earth also contains well-known climate activists, creators, and celebs who will all share ways to make our lives more sustainable.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Halloween Kills” the Screen Junkies say that “extra crispy” Michael Myers is lucky because his foes this time fight with hockey sticks, a cricket bat, and an iron.  “Where are all of your guns, people!” the narrator says.  “I thought this was America.  How drunk are you people?”  Also, how did they get someone to look like Donald Pleasance?

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Andrew (not Werdna), Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Jennifer Hawthorne, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Russell Letson.]

Starburst Hero Award Launched

Starburst Magazine has created a new award, The Starburst Hero Award For Literature, “to be given to a member of the genre literature community who has gone above and beyond to serve the genre literature community.”

The inaugural award has been created by professional prop-maker Jez Hunt, who has produced armor and props for shows such as Cursed and the movie Tolkien. This year’s award will be a specially-designed shield, a fitting award for a hero.

The award will be announced as part of a ceremony at Octocon 2020, The National Irish Science Fiction Convention. The same ceremony will also announce the winner of Starburst Magazine’s prestigious Brave New Words Award.

The shortlist for the Brave New Words Award (which is an award for works considered Brave and New), is below.

  • Evan Winter — Rage of Dragons (Orbit Books)
  • Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar — This is How You Lose the Time War (Jo Fletcher Books)
  • Tyler Hayes — The Imaginary Corpse (Angry Robot)
  • Sady Doyle — Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers (MHP Books)
  • Nisi Shawl — New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color (Rebellion)
  • Tamsyn Muir — Gideon the Ninth (Tor)

The ceremony will include a panel from the Brave New Words Award judges and the actual award announcements will be made by comedian John Robertson, who is best known for his video game themed comedy show The Dark Room.

For more information on Octocon 2020, which is free and online this year, go here.

Pitch In For Octocon

Octocon, the Irish National Science Fiction Convention, is a week away and finds itself in a bind. The committee has opened a Octocon GoFundMe appeal.

James Bacon encourages people to donate.

This is quite important, Octocon is a week away! and I know many of you have enjoyed Octocon as I have, but this is a tough year for the current team, a venue move out of the city and rising costs. I applaud the committee for asking for help, helping is something the community does. It’s something we can do!

Octocon needs your help taking €5,000. Please do help this altruistic cultural event in its 26th year.

I’ve donated of course!

The Octocon team explains the need –

In its 26 year history, Octocon has faced many challenges, and this year has been no exception. We unexpectedly had to change our location earlier this year, and due to the rising costs of hotel space in Dublin, we’ve ended up with an unforeseen liquidity issue because the hotel requires full payment ahead of the convention.

(In previous years, we’ve been able to pay hotel costs on or after the convention weekend, but this year we need to pay them in advance.)

Therefore, despite the chair’s offer to shoulder the burden personally, the committee has unanimously decided on the unusual step of creating this GoFundMe campaign to ask you, as fans and supporters of Octocon, to help us ensure the smooth running of the convention.

Pixel Scroll 10/22/17 As You From Scrolls Would Pixel’d Be, Let Your Fandom Bring Forth Glee

(1) SUPPORT WANTED. Jim Barker, Rotsler Award-winning fanartist (and 1979 Hugo nominee), is looking for financial support while he deals with health problems. He hasn’t set up a crowdfunding appeal, but you can reach out to him at the email address shown in the illustration below.

My apologies for the continued absence of the Monday Cartoon. As I said last time, I am Not Well. I have had a problem with my liver for a couple of years now and it’s finally got to the point that I need a liver transplant and I need to go into hospital for tests at the beginning of November, just to find out how suitable I am.

The Problem is that it’s been a very slow couple of months and I simply can’t afford to be out of action for the five days needed for the tests. So while I hate the idea of going round with a begging bowl,I’m asking if you could possibly help out financially. Please contact me if you feel you can. Thank you.

(2) DEEP THOUGHT. The Wall Street Journal’s Jack Nicas reports “How Google’s Quantum Computer Could Change the World”. [Behind a paywall.]

Hartmut Neven believes in parallel universes. On a recent morning outside Google’s Los Angeles office, the 53-year-old computer scientist was lecturing me on how quantum mechanics—the physics of atoms and particles—backs the theory of a so-called multiverse. Neven points to the tape recorder between us. What we’re seeing is only one of the device’s “classical configurations,” he says. “But somewhere, not perceived by us right now, there are other versions.”

David Klaus sent the link with a note:

This much computational ability will finally give us fusion power, F-T-L travel, and the stars. I knew about the idea of parallel universes in 1963 when I was 8, because of The Flash.  Heinlein wrote about them (first?), Niven wrote about them, Robert Anton Wilson wrote about them, but there should be statues of Gardner Fox and Jerome Bixby, because if Fox hadn’t created the DC Multiverse and Bixby hadn’t written “Mirror, Mirror” to soak the idea into the popular culture and triggered the minds of the best and the brightest to pursue this, it wouldn’t have happened. In this universe, anyway.

(3) FOR EXAMPLE. Learning from scratch: “Computer Learns To Play Go At Superhuman Levels ‘Without Human Knowledge'”, defeats program that beat world champion:

“In a short space of time, AlphaGo Zero has understood all of the Go knowledge that has been accumulated by humans over thousands of years of playing,” lead researcher David Silver of Google’s DeepMind lab said in remarks on YouTube. “Sometimes it’s actually chosen to go beyond that and discovered something that the humans hadn’t even discovered in this time period.”

(4) NEW AWARD FOR WHITEHEAD. The Washington Post’s DeNeen L. Brown reports “‘The Underground Railroad’ by Colson Whitehead wins 2017 Hurston/Wright award for fiction”, an award given by the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Literary Foundation for significant books by African-Americans.

His award was among those presented Friday by the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation, which was founded in Washington in 1990 with a mission to ensure the survival of black writers and their literature.

Whitehead’s attention to the pain of slavery and “the current state of race in this country is unprecedented,” the judges said. The novel, which was a New York Times bestseller, “confirms Whitehead’s place in the African American canon” of great authors.

The Washington Plaza hotel in Northwest Washington was bustling Friday with literary stars, publishing icons, writers, poets, editors and essayists. More than 200 people attended the annual gala, including Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who won the Ella Baker Award that honors writers and arts activists who advance social justice. Lewis said he was honored to receive the award named after Ella Baker, a civil rights and human rights activist who helped organize the Freedom Movement and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

(5) BORDERLANDS SEEKS PERMANENT HOME. Shelf Awareness reports that the bookstore that needed a crowdfunded incentive to stay in business is now thinking long-term: “Borderlands Seeks $1.9 Million to Buy Building”.

Borderlands, the San Francisco, Calif., science fiction, mystery and horror bookstore that nearly closed two and a half years ago, has made an offer to buy a building and has launched a campaign to raise $1.9 million in loans from customers, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. After eight days, Borderlands has raised $500,000 and another $300,000 “is pending.”

In 2015, owner Alan Beatts had planned to close the store, but after customers rallied in support, Borderlands created a sponsorship program; the $100 annual membership includes a range of benefits. The store has a minimum of 300 sponsors.

There is no rush to move: Borderlands still has three years left on its current bookstore lease and eight years on its café lease.

In a blog post last week, Beatts wrote in part, “The sponsorship program that we started in 2015 caused a major shift in how I viewed the business. Previously I had considered it my personal project; one that I would stop either when I could no longer do it or when I died. But, after so many people were willing to contribute to allow it to continue to operate, I began to see it more as a public trust than something that was solely my possession….”

(6) MYSTERY SOLVED. “Not broccoli,” says that sleuth of sustenance, John King Tarpinian, who can tell you what these really taste like:

I bought a mystery box for a friend who likes Oreos.  We all tasted one and it was a generally agreed, they tasted like stale Fruit Loops.  And I have never eaten Fruit Loops.

We even offered one to the waiter.  He had already had one on his own and without our prodding came up with Fruit Loops as his answer.

(7) FROM ROWLING TO REALITY. “Secretly wish you could be invisible? Science is getting close”Quartz discusses five methods for turning invisible, ranked by the inventor of a real-life invisibility cloak.

  1. Cloaking

The idea of making something invisible by bending light is so captivating that, despite the obstacles, scientists continue their attempts to create the effect. And that includes me.

Our group at Duke University, in collaboration with theoretical physicist Sir John Pendry, suggested and later demonstrated one method using a special type of material called a “metamaterial.” Metamaterials are human-made materials with little circuit-like elements—conducting rings and wires, for example—that mimic the properties of atoms and molecules of conventional materials.

Rather than physically warping space, we can use the idea of warping space to find a recipe for a material that will have the same effect. In this way, we can design an invisibility cloak just by picturing the way we would like waves to circulate around the cloaked object. This is a technique called “transformation optics.”

Light—or, in the case of our experiment, microwaves—are redirected in a metamaterial cloak, appearing to bend or flow around the cloaked object. They are then restored on the other side as if they had passed through empty space. The metamaterial cloak is a real device that forces light to flow exactly as it might around a cloaked Romulan ship, which means this type of invisibility device is plausible.

(8) INTRODUCTION TO A NIGHTMARE. Parade’s Samuel R. Murrian, in “Netflix’s Stranger Things Serves Up Thrills and Chills in Season Two “, tells how co-creator Matt Duffer was told the plot of A Nightmare on Elm Street by his babysitter when he was four.

“My babysitter in preschool told me the story of Freddy Krueger,” says Matt. “I was 4 years old! From then on, I just knew I had to watch A Nightmare on Elm Street. When we were young, we knew we weren’t supposed to be watching horror movies. That made the appeal of them so strong.

“It’s like forbidden fruit. You just want to taste it. I remember wandering into the horror section of the video store and just staring at the covers of these movies, feeling desperate to know what it was.”

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 22, 2134 B.C. – The earliest recorded solar eclipse took China by surprise:

In China, solar eclipses were thought to be associated with the health and success of the emperor, and failing to predict one meant putting him in danger. Legend has it that 2 astrologers, Hsi and Ho, were executed for failing to predict a solar eclipse. Historians and astronomers believe that the eclipse that they failed to forecast occurred on October 22, 2134 BCE, which would make it the oldest solar eclipse ever recorded in human history.

  • October 22, 2006 Torchwood premiered.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born October 22, 1938 – Christopher “Dr. Emmet Brown” Lloyd
  • Born October 22, 1952 – Jeff Goldblum, who appeared in Buckaroo Banzai, Jurassic Park and The Fly.

(11) COMICS SECTION

(12) SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY. Meantime, let the New York Post tell you where the skeletons are buried in Gotham: “The most infamous times Marvel and DC ripped each other off”.

Wonder Man vs. Wonder Woman In a 1964 issue of “The Avengers,” Marvel introduced Wonder Man. DC was not amused, feeling that the new hero sounded too much like its own Wonder Woman. So Marvel honcho Stan Lee agreed to kill him off.

Twelve years later, DC debuted a new female superhero named Power Girl — despite Marvel having introduced Power Man in 1972. Lee felt that DC was perpetrating a double standard and, in a payback bid, decided to resurrect Wonder Man. The hero joined the Avengers in 1977 and is still a major part of the Marvel print universe to this day. Although he’s never appeared in an Avengers film, actor Nathan Fillion did film a cameo as Wonder Man for “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” that got cut in the end.

(13) DEADLY PLAZA. This will be handy for me – I’ll head in the other direction: “The Most Haunted Places in Los Angeles”. (Well, I say that, but for five years I worked a block away from the first place on their list….)

El Pueblo de Los Angeles Supernatural spirits abound where the city of L.A. started: at El Pueblo de Los Angeles and its immediate surrounding area. Because this area was essentially the original town square before moving a few blocks west, it was also the town gallows and the site of public hangings and their hanging trees. Some of them occurred directly in front of City Hall, which seems bedeviled by a ghost or two. Security cameras often pick up an image of someone walking around locked offices at night, but when guards go to investigate, they find nothing. When they return to their night shift station, they frequently hear footsteps following them.

Los Angeles was once a dangerous, violent place to live, filled with gunfire and murder. The lawless and the pious were forced to coexist in the establishment of a new sprawling metropolis. At El Pueblo, early adobes were torn down, and the remains of more than 100 people were improperly excavated and relocated from the first cemetery at El Pueblo, next to La Placita church. The area where Union Station now stands, and directly adjacent to it, was not only the site of Old Chinatown but also the infamous and horrific Chinese Massacre of 1871, the largest mass lynching in American history. For a more lighthearted encounter, take your French Dip to one of the upstairs dining rooms at Philippe The Original, where the ladies of the former bordello are said to linger.

(14) HELP ME HONDA. The co-creator of Godzilla unjustly labored in obscurity. The SyFy Wire tries to remedy that in ”7 revelations about the co-creator of Godzilla”.

Despite his status as one of the most commercially successful Japanese film directors of his day, Ishiro Honda has been somewhat neglected when it comes to discussion within critical circles. His science-fiction classics — which include Godzilla (1954), Rodan (1956), Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), and The War of the Gargantuas (1966) — have reached and dazzled audiences all over the world; and yet his name has only on occasion appeared in serious film studies. But now, from noted kaiju eiga historians Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski comes the biography Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa.

(15) IRISH EYES. Marcin Klak of Fandom Rover chronicles his adventures at “Octocon 2017 – the Irish National SF convention”.

Golden Blasters – the Octocon’s short film festival

There were four “major” events happening during Octocon. The first and the last ones were very modest opening and closing ceremonies, which lasted for a short time. They were serving a rather informative purpose and didn’t include any performances. On Saturday night there was an Octocon’s Monster Ball. I was able to stay only at the beginning, but it started with some music and dancing. I am not sure how long it lasted. The last one of the major events I participated in was the Golden Blasters film festival.

(16) FUSE LIGHTER. WIRED touches base with Ellison biographer Nat Segaloff in “Harlan Ellison Is Sci-Fi’s Most Controversial Figure”.

Harlan Ellison is the enormously talented author of many classic stories, essays, and scripts that helped transform science fiction, but his long history of inappropriate behavior has also made him one of the field’s most controversial figures. Author Nat Segaloff tried to capture both sides of Ellison in his new biography A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison.

“Let’s face it, a lot of people don’t like Harlan,” Segaloff says in Episode 278 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast, “and I wanted to try to get to as many of those people as possible to make a rounded interview.”

(17) LIGO LEVERAGE. NPR tells how “A New Era For Astronomy Has Begun”.

With this kind of precision, astrophysicists will learn more about the size, mass, spin, and internal properties of neutron stars, one of the most exotic forms of matter in the universe. They will also find out whether the final product of the merger is a big neutron star or a black hole, and gain a better idea of how many of such pairs (binaries) exist out there. As a bonus, they will be able to test the properties of gravity at extreme events, and measure different properties of the universe, including how fast it is expanding.

But the truly remarkable discovery, confirming what astrophysicists had predicted years back, is that such violent impacts, which eject something close to 2 percent of the stars’ mass at high speeds, produce loads of chemical elements heavier than iron, including gold, platinum, and heavy radioactive atoms. The collision creates a dense disk of protons and neutrons that circle the remains of the stars; the particles quickly combine into heavy atoms as the cloud grows and cools.

In a million years, the cloud will spread across the whole galaxy, seeding stars and their solar systems with heavy elements. Quite possibly, the gold in your ring or inside your cell phone came from such collisions in the distant past.

(Follow-up to “Astronomers Strike Gravitational Gold In Colliding Neutron Stars”.)

(18) LESS SPLAT PER SCAT. ‘Windshield index’ falls: “Alarm over decline in flying insects”.

It’s known as the windscreen phenomenon. When you stop your car after a drive, there seem to be far fewer squashed insects than there used to be.

Scientists have long suspected that insects are in dramatic decline, but new evidence confirms this.

Research at more than 60 protected areas in Germany suggests flying insects have declined by more than 75% over almost 30 years.

And the causes are unknown.

(19) AWWWW. See Mauricio Abril‘s sweet painting of Carrie Fisher in character as Princess Leia on Facebook.

I started this piece back in January after learning of Carrie Fisher’s passing but never got around to finishing it until recently. In honor of her birthday today here’s my tribute to the unforgettable woman who’ll continue to inspire generation after generation of little Leias.

(20) ROWLING PAPERS ON DISPLAY. The Guardian says, “Swearing, scrapped characters, editors’ notes – JK Rowling’s exhibits are a treasure trove for fans of Hogwarts.” — “Wizard! The magic of Harry Potter at the British Library”.

While some authors would baulk at showing anyone, let alone hundreds of thousands of museum visitors, their “process”, Rowling is entirely unafraid of sharing even her ropiest Potter ideas in public. She does so at talks, on Twitter and on a website, Pottermore, where she publishes all her unexplored, unfinished plots for a starry-eyed audience. Dumbledore is gay! Harry’s grandfather made hair products! Lupin and Tonks got married in a pub in Scotland! Even for a fan, it is easy to feel suspicious of this seemingly endless post-Potter expansion. There is no hidden significance or justifying quality in Rowling’s titbits that explains their publication. No, we now know Harry’s transfiguration teacher Professor McGonagall had two brothers and a husband who died because Rowling and her publishers believe our appetite for Potter is insatiable – and on that, they’re probably right. What luck then, that Rowling has always written with pen on paper and has produced such a treasure trove, and how lucky too that revealing her failed or abandoned ideas is not an embarrassment to her, even when cushioned by such success.

…Harry Potter, a Journey Through the History of Magic, is at the British Library, London NW1, until 28 February, and the New York Historical Society from October 2018. Harry Potter: A History of Magic is on BBC2, on 28 October.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]

Octocon 2017

James, Dublin 2019 GOH Diane Duane, Peter Morwood and Dublin 2019 treasurer JC.

By James Bacon: After the ceol and the craic of Friday night at Irish DiscWorldcon, I slept well and made an early breakfast with Vanessa, before heading to Kent Station, Cork for the 10.40 departure, but as we go we are wished warm and pleasant farewells from Siobhan the Irish DiscWorldcon Chair.

Octocon beckoned and once we arrived in Dublin, the trip from Heuston Station to the Camden Court Hotel, in the City centre, on the south side of the Liffey was quick in a taxi. The warm welcome at Octocon was amazing and as we walked in we are greeted, and soon joined other committee members at the Dublin 2019 table. We were also met by Janet O’Sullivan the chair of a Octocon and Sakura Perez the programme director as we receive our memberships and I hear that membership has hit 350 people, which is a fine figure for Octocon.

Pair of chairs. Janet O’Sullivan and James Bacon

I thought that I’d get into some programme but suddenly I’m catching up with so many folk that over two hours passes by, our table is strategically placed near the bar and I encounter many friends and new fans, and also pleased to listen and hear the excitement for the Dublin 2019. I look to hand out some ribbons, which are popular here, but new, and so any are well accepted, I have a variety of old ones, and they are eagerly received.

Mike Carroll busy signing comics.

I take a moment to catch up on a presentation, one by Michael Carroll. Mike is a writer and long-time fan here in Dublin, who has written prose, script and comic. He has written over 100 episodes of Judge Dredd for 2000AD, amongst a wide variety of work. After talking a little bit about one of his recent stories in that comic, he begins an incredible motivational and pragmatic presentation about writing. I am fascinated, his sound bites and ideas, make so much sense. Simple things like “Finish the work” and  “No one cares what you’re ‘going to write’ only what you have written” — the point being that the thing you’ve not yet written doesn’t actually exist, so people can’t evaluate it. “Start,” it all makes such wonderful sense.  His positive encouragement and forthright honesty is quite fantastic. His sensible and achievable down to earth advice is amazing and he has the whole room enrapt, and indeed it is compelling, I am wondering myself about the idea of a story, and how, well, I haven’t actually followed his rules and sure isn’t it a wonder that I am nowhere near writing it. He offers five rules of writing which somehow seem very basic, but with consideration filled with crucial points.

It is a wonderful programme item, and I really enjoyed it. Overall feedback at Octocon is that the programme is exciting and interesting and indeed, I note that I am challenged for choices. The programme booklet is visible here.

I get to meet Paul Trimble who runs Enniskillen Comic Fest [Facebook link].  I am looking forward to this event next year, and really enjoyed it this year and it is vital for the Dublin 2019 team that we connect across the country here, and Vanessa from promotions is chatting with Paul, as well as the team from WexWorlds.

The chat and laughter never stops, and it is just brilliant to be home. This is home you know, my science fiction fannish home, my first convention, my first piece of purchased artwork, my first book signed, so many firsts happened at Octocon for me, and it is a vital part of my makeup and I love it. It has had many venues, shapes, committees and guests, and now in its twenty-seventh year, it is an amazingly well spirited and friendly convention. The attendance includes a lot of new fans. Indeed, I smiled when Janet pleasantly informed me that they ran out of ‘first time attendee’ ribbons when they gave out their 42nd, such a science fictional significance.

The feeling of celebration continues as the Dublin 2019, An Irish Worldcon promotions team of Vanessa May, Marguerite Smith and Sara Felix have worked closely with Janet O’Sullivan chair of Octocon and the team and so have sponsored the nights entertainment here. The promotions team have a new Iain Clarke poster, which I really like, and magic green wands that are multi-functional, and so the evening’s  entertainment has a theme.

Vanessa, James, Marguerite, Esther and Ruth

As the dancing continues, the Octocon arrange Guerilla DJ Phil Dyson to extend the disco into the early hours, alleging that a ‘post party, party’ is occurring during clean up and so dancing continues, and indeed the music by Phil is excellent.

Dance floor shenanigans. (Fia doing the peace sign)

I attended a Fan Fund discussion and was well pleased to engage with Fia Karlsson the current NOFF delegate from Sweden. The Nordic Fan Fund happily sending Fia here to Dublin. Previous fan fund winners Tobes Valois and James Shields engaged with loser Douglas Spencer under the keen moderation of Fiona O’Sullivan. I made good mention of bursaries and other elements that are out there to help fans.

Listing off future cons is a thing at Octocon, and David Ferguson of Irish Comic News and Carol Connolly listed all the events that would be taking place in the next twelve months and beyond. Much mention was made of many cons including the Dublin Comic Con which got a lot of positive comment and was nice, I had to miss this years one, Dublin 2019 had a strong presence with other cons, handing out thousands of free books and comics as part of an outreach initiative.(http://forbiddenplanet.blog/2016/dublin-comic-con-report/). There is quite a lot going on in Ireland right now.

Future vista of conventions and events in Ireland is positive but it was a special moment as Carol skipped forward a little bit to August 2019.

I was courteously allowed some time to speak at the closing ceremony, and thanked the Octocon Committee and previous committees, as well as the members. They, a huge amount of people have been collectively hugely supportive. It was five years ago that I stood up, and the chair asked for recording devices to be turned off, and shared the secret that a Irish bid for a Worldcon was in the offing. Now to thank everyone as we are a seated Worldcon was an amazing thing. I made mention of our ‘First Worldcon’ rate of €100 and also of the Fantastic Dublin Fund, which is there to help people who need some help. I said that it would pain me greatly to work on something like this for many years, to find that some regular fan, just could not get to it. My sentiments were noted, and as I finished off by thanking everyone, my brief moment at the top of the room ended with ripping applause and cheering. A good bunch here, the noise from the closing ceremony was rapturous at the right times, that is for sure.

I’ll be heading to the con next year of course, although a venue change is on the cards, and dates will need to be confirmed, but at the end of the closing ceremony, after Janet had announced this news, the queue to join up for next year, was as long as ever, if not longer.

The evening continued, and later I found myself introducing many foreign fans to a ‘Spice Bag’ later at my Mom’s up the road on Black Horse Ave, ending the evening with a unique Dublin dish, and more talk, everyone having loved the con. Seven Spice bags please!

I admit it, I missed so much, The Blasters, the Vault of Horror, the amazing Guests of Honour, Dan Abnett and Nik Abnett, the variety of guests, the wondrousness of home-made foods in the dealer’s room, next to great books and comics. There was so much, and all the while the spirit was fantastic.

Dublin street furniture.

Pixel Scroll 10/26/16 The Tick Against the Box

(1) CAN’T STOP LOOKING. CinemaBlend’s Gregory Wakeman waited to finish his post about this Jar Jar Binks movie poster before gouging out his eyes…

(2) ADD THIS WORLDCON BID TO YOUR SCORECARD. Kevin Standlee reports that, at the request of this bid, he has added UK in 2024 to the Worldcon.org list of bids. The link is a Facebook page. Kevin notes, “They did say to me when they contacted worldcon.org that they plan to have an actual web site eventually as well, not just a Facebook page.”

(3) PREDICTING THE PRESENT. In “The Celebrity Campaign” on National Review Online, Kevin D. Williamson summarizes William Gibson’s Idoru and explains why Gibson’s work is important for understanding the vapid, celebrity-driven campaign we have this year.

(4) OCTOCON. Forbidden Planet bookstore’s correspondent James Bacon easily mixes dance with journalism: “Science Fiction in Ireland: James Reports from Octocon”.

Even though I finished work at 5.30AM in London on a mild autumnal Saturday morning, within a few hours I was in the Camden Court Hotel in Dublin’s city centre, amongst friends and fans at Octocon. The enthusiasm and excitement then carried me through until I hit the sheets at 4.30AM on Sunday morning, fed by the energy of the convention, dancing well past midnight and imbibing great cheer.

This year’s committee is youthful, bucking a trend with similar conventions in the UK, and possess a dynamism that brought together a nice programme, good fun social elements and of course overall a very enjoyable convention. The Guests of Honour, Diane Duaine and Peter Morward and Rhianna Pratchett, allowed much ground to be covered and attracted great audiences. With over two hundred people in attendance, the five-stream programme was busy.

(5) SETTING THE STUPID AFLAME. This Bradbury-related tweet went viral.

Here’s the text:

I love this letter! What a wonderful way to introduce students to the theme of Fahrenheit 451 that books are so dangerous that the institutions of society — schools and parents — might be willing to team up against children to prevent them from reading one. It’s easy enough to read the book and say, ‘This is crazy. It could never really happen,’ but pretending to present students at the start with what seems like a totally reasonable ‘first step’ is a really immersive way to teach them how insidious censorship can be I’m sure that when the book club is over and the students realize the true intent of this letter they’ll be shocked at how many of them accepted it as an actual permission slip. In addition, Milo’s concern that allowing me to add this note will make him stand out as a troublemaker really brings home why most of the characters find it easier to accept the world they live in rather than challenge it. I assured him that his teacher would have his back.

(6) REMAINS OF THAT DAY. The demolition of Ray Bradbury’s house inspired Joshua Sky’s Omni story “The House Had Eyes”.

The exterior was yellow with a brown triangle thatched roof and a thin brick chimney. The windows had been destroyed—the frames, like the living room, were gutted. Their remains tossed into a large blue dumpster resting on a hillside covered in dying grass. All that was left were two large cragged square shaped holes that bore inward yet outward all at once. Inward, laid the wisps of soot polished ruin. Hardwood floors, a mantle, masonry, some shelves and dust. Outward—the structure telepathically transmuted its emotions of loss and sorrow. She knew she was dying.

I was transfixed, my eyeballs locked with the house’s. It was like something straight out of a Bradbury story! My hands tightly gripped the fence, chain-links dug into my finger tendons. Focused on the yellow lawn, my mind pictured a phantom montage of Bradbury, time-lapsed: Watering the grass. Reading on the steps. Puttering about. Stalking the sidewalks. Talking to the neighbors. Talking to himself. Writing. Staring at the sky. Staring at the stars. Staring beyond. Marveling in awe. Downright dreaming—of rockets and Martians and technicolored time travelers.

It all felt so cosmically unfair. Why’d they have to tear it down? Why’d they have to piss on a legacy? It felt like we were all losing something—even if we didn’t know it. That our country—the people—the vanishing literate—were losing not only a landmark, but a sense of our collective wonderment. That we were continuing a bad trend that had no hint of ending—swapping our heritage for a buck. That’s the American way some would say. Some—maybe—but not all.

(7) FROM VELOUR TO MONSTER MAROON. With Halloween just around the corner, Atlas Obscura offers guidance to cosplayers: “How to Read The Secret Language of Starfleet Uniforms”.

It’s Halloween time again, and as it has been for the past 50 years, a Star Trek costume is a safe bet for anyone looking to dress up. But do you want to be a Starfleet captain in 2268? A ship’s doctor in 2368? For the uninitiated, deciphering the language of colors and symbols that place you in the show’s universe is a crapshoot.

Luckily, Atlas Obscura is here to help, with a bit of cosplay codebreaking….

The most recent Star Trek television series, 2001’s Enterprise, was actually a prequel, taking place in the mid-2100s, and strangely, their uniforms take cues from every era of the Star Trek franchise. Taking place prior to the formation of the Federation Starfleet seen in later incarnations, the uniforms of the very first space-faring Enterprise, were once again standardized into a purple workman’s jumpsuit (echoing the red-washed uniforms of the later Original Series films). Position on the ship could be determined by the color of a seam that ran along the shoulder of the jumpsuit, with the colors corresponding to the original command gold, science blue-green, and operations red.

And then rank was indicated by the number of silver bars over the right breast, just like the pips used in The Next Generation. While not everyone’s favorite, this suit kind of had it all.

(8) NEXT AT KGB. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series will present John Langan and Matthew Kressel, on Wednesday, November 16, beginning at 7p.m. in New York’s KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.)

John Langan

John Langan is author of two novels, The Fisherman and House of Windows.  He’s also published two collections, The Wide Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies and Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters.  With Paul Tremblay, he co-edited Creatures:  Thirty Years of Monsters.  He is one of the founders of the Shirley Jackson Awards and he currently reviews horror and dark fantasy for Locus magazine.

New and forthcoming are stories in Children of Lovecraft, The Madness of Dr. Caligari, The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu, Swords v. Cthulhu, and Children of Gla’aki.  In February of 2017, his third collection of stories, Sefira and Other Betrayals, will be published by Hippocampus Press.

John Langan lives in New York’s Hudson Valley and teaches classes in creative writing and Gothic literature at SUNY New Paltz.  With his younger son, he’s studying for his black belt in Tang Soo Do.

Matthew Kressel

Matthew Kressel is the author of the novels King of Shards and the forthcoming Queen of Static. His short fiction has been twice nominated for a Nebula Award and has or will soon appear in such markets as Lightspeed, Nightmare, Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, io9.com, Apex Magazine, Interzone, and the anthologies Cyber World, After, Naked City, The People of the Book.

From 2003-2010 he published and edited Sybil’s Garage, an acclaimed SF magazine. He also published the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology Paper Cities and for his publishing work, received a World Fantasy Award nomination for Special Award Non-Professional. He co-hosts the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series alongside Ellen Datlow. When not writing fiction he codes software for companies large and small, studies Yiddish (Nu?), and recites Blade Runner in its entirety from memory.

(9) NEW SF BOARD GAMES. In a piece on arstechnica.com called “Essen 2016: Best board games from the biggest board game convention”, Tom Mendlesohn reports from the International Spieltage convention in Germany, where most of the new board games have sf/fantasy content.

terraforming-mars

Terraforming Mars

FryxGames, 1-5 players, 90-120 mins, 12+

One of the most buzzworthy releases of the whole show, this title sold out by 3pm on the first day—a whole hour before Ars even arrived. The one table that FryxGames ran with a playable copy was booked every day. Fortunately, Ars US staffers already got their grubby little hands on the title and gave it a thorough—and hugely positive—review.

You’re playing as a futuristic global megacorp attempting, as the title suggests, to terraform Mars. Your tools are lots of plastic cubes, which track your resources and which are traded to in for asset cards, which get you more cubes. (The game is a total engine-builder.) Though the art isn’t terribly exciting, this is a terrific thinky Eurogame of interlocking systems and finding the most efficient ways to exchange one set of numbers for a higher set of numbers. 

(10) HE MADE IT SO. In a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle by Mike Moffitt called “The Real James T. Kirk Built the Bridge of the Enterprise – In the Sunset District” profiles a guy named James Theodore Kirk, who was born a month before Star Trek went on the air and who built a replica of the Enterprise in his house.  He also is a Trekker who once won a chance to meet William Shatner, but he was dressed as the villianous reptile Gorn and wouldn’t tell Shatner his name really was James T. Kirk.

Captain’s log, Stardate 21153.7: After straying into a wormhole, the Enterprise has somehow crash-landed on Earth in early 21st-century San Francisco. We are attempting to effect repairs from a location in the city’s Sunset District.

James T. Kirk commands the Starship Enterprise from the captain’s chair of the ship’s bridge, conveniently located in the back of his house in San Francisco’s Outer Sunset.

The bridge is equipped with a wall of computers blinking with colorful lights, a transporter room and the main viewer, which would toggle to show flickering stars, sensor data or the occasional Romulan or Klingon message demanding the Enterprise’s immediate withdrawal from the Neutral Zone.

There is even an “elevator” in the back that makes a “whoosh” just like the one on the classic 1960s show “Star Trek.” Of course, the bridge is not an exact duplicate of the show’s — it’s a smaller area, so the key fixtures are a bit crammed and the helmsmen seats are missing altogether. But the overall impression is clearly Mid-century Modern Starship.

(11) KUTTNER. You can find Stephen Haffner hawking his wares this weekend at World Fantasy Con. Or you can order online today!

Haffner Press does it again! In 2012 we included a newly discovered Henry Kuttner story—”The Interplanetary Limited”—in THUNDER IN THE VOID. Now, with the upcoming release of THE WATCHER AT THE DOOR: THE EARLY KUTTNER, VOLUME TWO, we are pleased as pandas (!) to announce we have discovered ANOTHER unpublished Henry Kuttner story!

MAN’S CONQUEST OF SPACE or UPSIDE-DOWN IN TIME is an early gag-story (featuring pandas) supposedly written for the fanzines of the 1930s. It likely predates Kuttner’s first professional sale in 1936. “And how can I get a copy?” you ask? Well, we made it simple. So simple that it’s FREE* if you place (or have already placed!) a PAID preorder for THE WATCHER AT THE DOOR: THE EARLY KUTTNER, VOLUME TWO. We’re printing a limited quantity of this new Kuttner story, so Do. Not. Delay.

(12) KEEP WATCHING. Martin Morse Wooster recommends an animated short, Borrowed Time.

A weathered Sheriff returns to the remains of an accident he has spent a lifetime trying to forget. With each step forward, the memories come flooding back. Faced with his mistake once again, he must find the strength to carry on.

“Borrowed Time” is an animated short film, directed by Andrew Coats & Lou Hamou-Lhadj, and produced by Amanda Deering Jones. Music by Academy Award winner Gustavo Santaolalla.

 

[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, John King Tarpinian, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

2015 Golden Blasters

The National Irish Science Fiction Film Awards, the Golden Blasters, were presented at Octocon in Dublin on October 11. The winners were selected from entries in the annual film festival dedicated to short science fiction, fantasy and horror stories.

Golden Blasters CROP

Best Film

  • C.T.R.L, directed by Mariana Conde

Silver Blaster Audience Award

  • The Detectives of Noir Town, directed by Andrew Chambers

Best Performance in a Short Film

  • Jamie Pigott, for his performance in Populace

Best Script

  • The Dirty Naturals: Where’s my Bunny, written by Derek Willis

GRRM Octocon 2010 GoH

George R.R. Martin will be Octocon 2010’s guest of honor. The con takes place October 16-17 in Dublin, Ireland.

“Octocon has always been a welcoming relaxed and enjoyable convention for me,” writes James Bacon, “and I expect this year’s will be much more so.”

This will be the 20th Octocon and James says “I will be going for sure.”

[Thanks to James Bacon for the story.]