My partner Juli and I set out on a beautiful morning for Chicago. One of our favorite sights is the immense Meadow Lake Wind Farm (which generates 801.25 megawatts of electricity) consisting of 301 turbines, just northwest of Lafayette, Indiana. I have always been in awe of the size and scope of this modern marvel of engineering.
We arrived at dusk and were treated to the enchanting vista of Chicago at night by the river…
Since I was going to be dwelling in the hometown of the Blues Brothers, I thought it would be appropriate to be attired properly.
One of the first people Juli and I met at Chicon 8 was Galaxy’s Edge Editor and Arc Manor Assistant Publisher Robyn Lezli, who was a large display of books and magazines with her benevolent (and generous) boss, Shahid Mahmud.
On my way to the Press Office, Christopher Garcia threw a copy of Journey Planet (paperboy style) as we passed each other. Here is a photo of it in mid-flight…
One of the first things I unpacked for the Press Office was this item. When the staff assembled that first morning, I told them in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that if they stepped out of line, I would not hesitate to blow the Illuminated Death Star Beach Ball up! Needless to say, it remained deflated during the duration of the convention.
After several delays (and escapades) involving the United States Department of State and airline hijinks, Nigeria’s rising literary star (and double Hugo Finalist), Oghenechowe Donald Ekpeki finally arrived at Chicon 8. I greeted him at the Galaxy’s Edge table in the Dealer’s Room with two facemasks and an envelope with some valuable personal papers. Needless to say, everyone was overjoyed to see him…
Also on hand were my daughter, Laura, her husband Charlie (not pictured, unfortunately) and my granddaughter, Navia. They were here to witness my (possible) Hugo Award acceptance speech on Sunday. I may have felt the sting of disappointment by not winning but I was so incredibly happy they were all there.
Chicago By Day…
So here are my Press Office mates, Dan Berger, Juli Marr and Sooshe Blat Harkins, pondering where we should go for dinner along the Chicago Riverwalk. Rest assured, we did eat that evening…
Chicago After Dark…
Day Three of Chicon 3, another beautiful morning.
On my way to the Press office, I made some time Saturday morning to stop by the Exhibit Hall and check out this year’s Hugo Award trophy. This magnificent award was handcrafted by the renowned Chicago artist and business entrepreneur Brian Keith Ellison of BKE Designs.
Ah, FINALLY, a photo from a Chicon 8 panel. Here are the panelists of “Movie Year in Review: A Curated Look at Genre Films (2021–2022)” moderated by yours truly. From left to right are: Matthew S. Rotundo, Daryll Mansel, Joshua Bilmes and Deirdre Crimmins. We had fun. You should have been there.
I was checking up on how Mr. Ekpeki was getting along in the Dealer’s Room when up ZOOMED fellow Hugo Award Finalist Seanan Maguire on her scooter. They both knew of a photo opportunity when they saw it…
It’s Saturday Night so you know it’s time for another magnificent appearance by fandom’s favorite, and most regal, Masquerade Judge, John Hertz!
And here is a wide shot of all the Chicon 8 Masquerade contestants. I apologize for it being out of focus; I BLAME the three apparitions lighting up in the middle of the photo. I don’t recall who they are but let’s face it, they lit up the joint that evening.
It’s THE BIG DAY! And that calls for a BIG BREAKFAST, courtesy of the Chicon 8 Staff Lounge. I hadn’t had a bowl of Rice Chex in AGES. (As a kid, I used to inhale whole boxes in a single sitting. Ah, those were the days…). Anyway, kudos to everyone who helped kept us fed during the convention.
Juli and I are very sneaky. We knew in advance that Sunday was Lezli Robyn’s birthday so we planned something a little special for her. The day before we left, we packed and wrapped her gift specially for her. We have both known for years that Lezli is a bit, uh, accident prone. After the fifth or sixth incident we started threatening to just roll her in bubble wrap, for her own safety and protection. Well at Chicon 8, we decided on this preemptive strike before disaster struck again. As you can see, a nice birthday card was placed on top of the package. And you can see Lezli’s reaction as she realized that bubble wrap was all that was left in the box. All for her. We were later informed by sources that she used the bubble wrap as a pillow (in an appropriate place, mind you) when she needed to nap. You’re welcome, Lezli, anytime.
After delivering Ms. Robyn’s gift, I stole a few minutes from my Press Office duties to have a novel by Catherynne M. Valente signed. We met before when she had a signing at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati where I worked for many years. She remembered me and enthusiastically remarked that she had a great time and would love to return for a visit someday. I told her I would pass the word along.
As the day wore on, the more nervous I became. Since there wasn’t much going on that afternoon, I turned my attention to writing a Hugo Award acceptance speech and a concession speech (which was published on File 770 that very evening). Everyone wished me luck but deep down, I knew that I was long shot to actually win. (And, as it turned out, I was right, finishing second in the nomination count and fifth overall in the vote standings.)
At the Chicon 8 Hugo Award Reception, Mr. Ekpeki and I were recessed to the nines!
Your 2022 Hugo Award Finalists in the Fan Writing Category; from left to right, Jason Sanford, myself, Paul Weimer and Bitter Karella.
The Crowd gathers for the start of the Hugo Awards Ceremony.
My Date, My Love and My Partner, the lovely and vivacious Juli Marr.
My Fellow 2022 Hugo Award Finalist Steven H Silver and his partner, Elaine Silver.
My Fellow 2022 Hugo Award Finalist Chuck Serface.
Our 2022 Hugo Award Ceremony Hosts, Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders.
Two Hugo Losers commiserating, Olav Rokne and myself (being subtly photobombed by Vincent Docherty) at the Chengdu Hugo Reception.
My daughter Laura and I at the Glasgow Bid Party.
My daughter Laura is seen here holding the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form for Dune (Part 1). The award was offered for photos by Chicon 8 Advisor Dave McCarty, whom we thank profusely for the opportunity.
SEPTEMBER 5TH AND 6TH
And it’s all over but the shouting. Here John Hertz and I are watching the proceedings, counting down until the dead dog parties start…
After Closing Ceremonies, Juli and I met author Col.Jonathan P. Brazee and Hugo Award Finalist (Best Professional Artist) Maurizio Manzieri outside the hotel on their way to an early dinner.
As we wind down a day after Chicon 8 has officially ended, we shared a final meal with Dan Berger, Terry Berger and Sooshe Blat Harkins, who were a tremendous help in the Chicon 8 Press Office.
A final portrait from Chicago of your humble correspondents, myself and Juli Marr. Until next time, Goodbye and Good Luck…
People writing about the issues they care about is what keeps this community going. It’s a gift and privilege for me to be continually allowed to publish so many entertaining posts rich in creativity, humor, and shared adventures. Thanks to all of you who contributed to File 770 in 2022!
…Thinking about Jules Verne, with the new TV version of Around the World in Eighty Days about to start, I just bought the Wesleyan edition of Five Weeks in a Balloon, translated by Frederick Paul Walter – after researching what the good modern translations of Verne are. Verne has been abysmally translated into English over the years, but there’s been a push to correct that….
… It was on FaceBook where I first saw friends’ posting about Opening Ceremonies. According to what was posted, some of the musical selections performed by students from the Duke Ellington School spotlighted the religious aspects of the Christmas holiday.
My immediate reaction was that this was not an appropriate part of Opening Ceremonies, especially since, as far as I know, the religious aspect of the performance was not contained in the descriptions in any convention publication. The online description of Opening Ceremonies says, in its entirety: “Welcome to the convention. We will present the First Fandom and Big Heart awards, as well as remarks from the Chair.” The December 9, 2021, news release about the choir’s participation did not mention that there would be a religious component to the performance….
Whew! We made it. We made it to Issue 100 of the Grantville Gazette. This is an incredible feat by a large group of stakeholders. Thank you, everyone.
I don’t think Eric Flint had any idea what he’d created when he sent Jim Baen the manuscript for 1632. In the intervening two-plus decades, the book he intended to be a one-shot novel has grown like the marshmallow man in Ghostbusters to encompass books from two publishing houses, a magazine (this one, that you are holding in your metaphorical hands) and allowed over 165 new authors to see their first published story in print. The Ring of Fire Universe, or the 1632 Universe, has more than twelve million words published….
This message was written by a fan in Moscow 48 hours ago. It is unsigned but was relayed by a trustworthy source who confirms the writer is happy for it to be published by File 770. It’s a fan’s perspective, a voice we may not hear much….
Right now, when I’m sitting at my desktop and writing this text, a cannonade nearby doesn’t stop. The previous night was scary in Kyiv. Evidently, Russians are going to start demolishing Ukrainian capital like they are doing with Kharkiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, Mariupol.
The Ukrainian SFF Community joined the efforts to isolate Russia, the nazi-country of the 21st century, to force them to stop the war. The boycott by American authors we asked for is also doing the job. Many leading writers and artists of the great United States already joined the campaign.
We appealed to SFWA to also join the campaign, and here is what they replied…
Fortunately, comic-carrying newspapers are, of course, all (also or only) online these days, but even then, some require subscriptions (fair enough), and to get all the ones you want. For example, online, the Washington Post, has about 90, while the Boston Globe is just shy of a paltry one-score-and-ten. And (at least in Firefox), they don’t seem to be visible in all-on-one-page mode, much less customize-a-page-of.
So, for several years now, I’ve been going to the source — two “syndicates” that sell/redistribute many popular strips to newspapers….
There’s been a lot of excitement about Squid Game. Everybody’s talking about how clever, original, and utterly skiffy it is. I watched it, too, eagerly and faithfully. But I wasn’t as surprised by it as some. I expected it to be good. I’ve been watching Korean video for ten years, and have only grown more addicted every year. And yet I just can’t convince many people to watch it with me….
Let me tell you about my favorite building in Washington, D.C. It’s the staid old Arts and Industries Building, the second-oldest of all the Smithsonian Institution buildings, which dates back to the very early 1880s and owes its existence to the Smithsonian’s then urgent need for a place where parts of its collection could go on public display….
When we last left the Heinleins (“What the Heinleins Told the 1940 Census”), a woman answering the door at 8777 Lookout Mountain – Leslyn Heinlein, presumably — had just finished telling the 1940 census taker a breathtaking raft of misinformation. Including that her name was Sigred, her husband’s was Richard, that the couple had been born in Germany, and they had a young son named Rolf.
Ten years have passed since then, and the archives of the 1950 U.S. Census were opened to the public on April 1. There’s a new Mrs. Heinlein – Virginia. The 8777 Lookout Mountain house in L.A. has been sold. They’re living in Colorado Springs. What did the Heinleins tell the census taker this time?…
“In the future, there was a nuclear war. And because of all the radiation, cats developed the ability to shoot lasers out of their mouths.”
On this dubious premise, Laser Cats was founded. By its seventh and final episode, the great action stars and directors of the day had contributed their considerable talents to this highly entertaining, yet frankly ridiculous enterprise. From James Cameron to Lindsey Lohan, Josh Brolin to Steve Martin, Laser Cats attracted the best in the business.
Being part of Saturday Night Live undoubtedly helped….
The Emeka Walter Dinjos Memorial Award For Disability In Speculative Fiction aims to award disability in speculative fiction in two ways. One, by awarding a writer of speculative fiction for their representation or portrayal of disability in a world of speculative fiction, whatever their health status; and two, by awarding a disabled writer for a work of speculative fiction in general, whatever the focus of the work may be….
Robert Osband, Florida fan, really loves space. All his life he has been learning about spaceflight. And reading stories about spaceflight, in science fiction.
So after NASA’s Apollo program was over, the company that made Apollo space suits held a garage sale, and Ozzie showed up. He bought a “training liner” from ILC Dover, a coverall-like portion of a pressure suit, with rings at the wrists and neck to attach gloves and helmet.
And another time, in 1976, when one of his favorite authors, Robert A. Heinlein, was going to be Guest of Honor at a World Science Fiction Convention, Mr. Osband journeyed to Kansas City.
In his suitcase was his copy of Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel—a novel about a teenager who wins a secondhand space suit in a contest—and his ILC Dover suit.
Because if you wanted to get your copy of Have Space Suit, Will Travel autographed, and you happened to own a secondhand space suit, it would be a shame NOT to wear it, right?…
… I’m sure that our first face-to-face meeting was in 1979, when my job in industry took me from Chattanooga all the way out to Los Angeles for some much-needed training in electrochemistry. I didn’t really know anybody in L.A. fandom back then but I did know the address of the LASFS clubhouse, so on my next-to-last evening in town I dropped in on a meeting. And it was there that I found Bruce mostly surrounded by other fans while they all expounded on fandom as it existed back then and what it might be like a few years down the road. It was like a jazz jam session, but all words and no music. I settled back into the periphery, enjoying all the back-and-forth, and when there eventually came a lull in the conversations I took the opportunity to introduce myself. And then Bruce said something to me that I found very surprising: “Dick Lynch! I’ve heard of you!”…
It was back in 2014 that a student filmmaker at Stephen F. Austin State University, Ricky Kennedy, created an extraordinary short movie titled The History of Time Travel. Exploration of “what ifs” is central to good storytelling in the science fiction genre and this little production is one of the better examples of how to do it the right way.
… It is through Joy and Cassimer’s eyes we experience S.A. Tholin’s Iron Truth, a finalist of the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition. If there was ever a case of the cream rising to the top this book is one….
In T. A. Bruno’s In the Orbit of Sirens, a Self-Published Science Fiction Competition finalist, the remnants of the human race have fled the solar system ahead of an alien culture that is assimilating everyone in reach. Loaded aboard a vast colony ship they’re headed for a distant refuge, prepared to pioneer a new world, but unprepared to meet new threats there to human survival that are as great as the ones they left behind.
On the morning of Carmen Grey’s sixth birthday an armed team arrives to take her from her parents and remove her to the underground facility where Clairvoyants — like her — are held captive and trained for years to access their abilities. So begins Monster of the Dark by K. T. Belt, a finalist in the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition….
G.M. Nair begins Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire by making a surprising choice. His introductory scene explicitly reveals to readers the true nature of the mysterious events that the protagonists themselves uncover only very slowly throughout the first half of the book. The introduction might even be the penultimate scene in the book — which would make sense in a story that is partly about time travel loops. Good idea or bad idea?…
… What sounds like Firefly also describes the SPSFC finalist novel Captain Wu: Starship Nameless #1, a space opera by authors Patrice Fitzgerald and Jack Lyster. I love Firefly so it wasn’t a big leap to climb aboard this vessel….
…. It would be exceptionally embarrassing for a Worldcon to have to explain why a finalist would have won the Hugo except for — oops! — this bit of outdated fine print. The best course of action is to eliminate that fine print before such a circumstance arises….
The social media of the 30th century doesn’t seem so different: teenagers anonymously perform acts of civil disobedience and vandalism to score points and raise their ranking in an internet app. That’s where Aster Vale leads a secret life as the Wildflower, a street artist and tagger, in A Star Named Vega by Benjamin J. Roberts, a Self-Published Science Fiction competition finalist…..
R F Kuang’s Babel is an audacious and unrelenting look at colonialism, seen through the lens of an alternate 19th century Britain where translation is the key to magic. Kuang’s novel is as sharp and perceptive as it is well written, deep, and bears reflection upon, after reading, for today’s world….
Paul Weimer went to donate some books at Don Blyly’s new location for Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores. While he was inside Paul shot these photographs of the bookshelves being stocked and other work in progress.
… Another contributor to the Afrofuturist tradition is Nicole Mitchell, a noted avant-jazz composer and flutist. She chose to take on Octavia Butler’s most challenging works, the Xenogenesis Trilogy, and create the Xenogenesis Suite, a collection of dark and disturbing compositions that reflect the trilogy’s turbulent and complicated spirit….
Anna carefully arranged the necessary objects around her desktop computer into a pentagon: sharpened pencils, a legal pad, a half-empty coffee cup, and a copy of Science Without Sorcery, with the chair at the fifth point. This done, she intoned the spell that would open the channel to her muse for long enough to write the final pages of her work-in-progress. Then she could get ready for the convention….
… In the last five years, the [Hugo Awards Study Committee] [HASC] has changed precisely two words of the Constitution. (Since you asked: adding the words “or Comic” to the title of the “Best Graphic Story” category.) The HASC’s defenders will complain that we had two years of pandemic, and that the committee switched to Discord rather than email only this year, and that there are lots of proposals this year. But the fact remains that so far the practical impact has been slower than I imagined when I first proposed the Committee…..
In Michaele Jordan’s overview, she comments on the novellas by Aliette de Bodard, Becky Chambers, Alix E. Harrow, Seanan McGuire, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Catherynne M. Valente that are up for the 2022 Hugo.
… Once we had a lot of science fiction, little fantasy; lately we’ve had a lot of fantasy; so Powers’ writing fantasy does not seem particularly defiant.
His fantasy has generally been — to use a word which may provoke defiance — rigorous. Supernatural phenomena occur, may be predicted, aroused, avoided, as meticulously — a word whose root means fear — as we in our world start an automobile engine or put up an umbrella. Some say this has made his writing distinctive….
The day of reckoning is here for E Pluribus Hugo. The change in the way Hugo Awards nominations are counted was passed in 2015 and ratified in 2016 to counter how Sad and Rabid Puppies’ slates dictated most of finalists on the Hugo ballots in those years. It came with a 2022 sunset clause attached, and E Pluribus Hugo must be re-ratified this year in order to remain part of the WSFS Constitution….
… His name is Joel Nydahl, and back about the time of that Chicon he was a 14-year-old neofan who lived with his parents on a farm near Marquette, Michigan. He was an avid science fiction reader and at some point in 1952 decided to publish a fanzine. It was a good one….
… Abigail Kamara, younger cousin of police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant, has been left largely unsupervised while he’s off in the sticks on a case. This leaves Abigail making her own decisions when she notices that kids roughly her age are disappearing–but not staying missing long enough for the police to care….
Friends, let me tell you about one of my favorite TV shows. But I must admit to you up front that it’s not SF/F. Extraordinary Attorney Woo is, as I assume you’ve deduced from the title, a lawyer show. But it’s a KOREAN lawyer show, which should indicate that is NOT run of the mill….
… The Phantom Empire, a twelve-chapter Mascot serial, was originally released in February, 1935. A strange concoction for a serial, it is at once science fiction film, a Western, and strangely enough, a musical. It was the first real science fiction sound serial and its popularity soon inspired other serials about fantastic worlds….
… I find myself explaining the changes to membership in the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) and the conditions for attending the World Science Fiction Convention that were ratified this year in Chicago (and thus are now in effect, because this was the second vote on the changes)…
Chicon 8’s Chicago Worldcon Community Fund (CWCF) program offered both memberships and financial stipends. It was established with the goal of helping defray the expenses of attending Chicon 8 for the following groups of people:
Non-white fans or program participants • LGBTQIA+ fans or program participants • Local Chicago area fans of limited means…
As environmental problems caused by industrialisation and post-industrialisation continue to increase, the public is looking for ecological solutions. As pandemics, economic crises, and wars plague our society in different ways, thoughts turn to the good old times. But were they really all that good? People are escaping increasingly into fantastical stories in order to find a quantum of solace. But at what point was there a utopia in our society. If so, at what or whose cost did it exist? Whether or not we ever experience living in a utopia, the idea of finally finding one drives us to continue seeking ideal living conditions….
… Capclave appeared to be equally star-crossed in its next iteration. It was held over the weekend of October 18-20, 2002, and once again the attendees were brought closer together by an event taking place in the outside world. The word had spread quickly through all the Saturday night room parties: “There’s been another shooting.” Another victim of the D.C. Sniper….
… In Fairy Tale, his newest novel, Stephen King delivers a, cough, grimm contemporary story, explicitly incorporating horror in the, cough, spirit of Lovecraft (King also explicitly namedrops, in the text, August Derleth, and Henry Kuttner), in which high-schooler Charlie Reade becomes involved in things — and challenges — that, as the book and plot progress, stray beyond the mundane….
The idea of an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories about the Beatles seems like a natural. I’ve been told the two editors, each unbeknownst to the other, both presented the idea to the publisher around the same time…
The Science Museum (that’s the world famous one in Kensington, London) has just launched a new exhibit on what Carl Sagan once mused (though not mentioned in the exhibit itself) science fiction and science’s ‘dance’. SF2 Concatenation reprographic supremo Tony Bailey and I were invited by the Museum to have a look on the exhibition’s first day. (The exhibition runs to Star Wars day 2023, May the Fourth.) Having braved Dalek extermination at the Museum’s entrance, we made our way to the exhibition’s foyer – decorated with adverts to travel to Gallifrey – to board our shuttle….
I was at the 2022 F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival in Rockville, MD today. If you’re wondering why the festival is there, that’s where Fitzgerald and his wife are buried. Now, I’d never read any of Fitzgerald`s writing, so I spent the evening before reading the first three chapters of The Great Gatsby (copyright having expired last year, it’s online). So far, I’ve yet to find anyone in it that I want to spend any time with, including the narrator.
However, the reason I attended was to see Kim Stanley Robinson, who was the special guest at the Festival. The end of the morning’s big event was a conversation between Stan and Richard Powers. Then there was lunch, and a keynote speaker, then Stan introducing Powers to receive an award from the society that throws the annual Festival….
…As a child, I kept a notebook filled with my favorite quotes. (How did I not know I was going to be an author?) The first quote? “Not all who wander are lost.” There was everything from 90s rom com lines to Wordsworth poems in that notebook, but Tolkien filled the most pages….
There is a fundamental implausibility to easy manned interstellar (or even interplanetary) space travel that nonetheless remains a seductive idea even in our wiser and more cynical and weary 21st century. …
Alif is a young man, a “gray hat” hacker, selling his skills to provide cybersecurity to anyone who needs that protection from the government. He lives in an unnamed city-state in the Middle East, referred to throughout simply as the City. He’s nonideological; he’ll sell his services to Islamists, communists, anyone….
Journalist, author, genre historian (and fan, certainly, from the 1940s and on!) Bertil Falk is acclaimed for performing the “impossible” task of translating Finnegans Wake to Swedish, the modernist classic by James Joyce, under the title Finnegans likvaka….
The protagonist of the first short novel in this omnibus — which is in fact Eye of Cat — is William Blackhorse Singer, a Navajo born in the 20th century, and still alive, and fit and healthy, almost two centuries later….
One fine Monday morning, Peter Grant is summoned to Baker Street Station on the London Underground, to assess whether there was anything “odd,” i.e., involving magic, about the death of a young man on the tracks….
…If you’re not a fan, then there’s a real chance you have no idea how much range animé encompasses. And I’m not even talking about the entire range of kid shows, sit-coms and drama. (I’m aware there may be limits to your tolerance. I’m talking about the range within SF/F. Let’s consider just three examples….
While I subscribe to the practice that, as a rule, reviews and review-like write-ups, if not intended as a piece of critical/criticism, should stick to books the reviewer feels are worth the readers reading, sometimes (I) want to, like Jerry Pournelle’s “We makes these mistakes and do this stuff so you dont have to” techno-wrangling Chaos Manor columns, give a maybe-not-your-cup-of-paint-remover head’s-up. This is one of those….
It’s been 30 years since the passing of my friend Roger Weddall. I doubt very many of you reading this had ever met him and I wouldn’t be surprised, actually, if most of you haven’t even heard of him. Thirty years is a long time and the demographics of fandom has changed a lot. So let me tell you a little bit about him….
I expect a lot of File 770’s readers watched, as we did, as the Orion capsule returned to Terra. I’m older than some of you, and it’s been decades since I watched a capsule re-entry and landing in the ocean. What had me in tears is that finally, after fifty years, we’re planning to go back… and stay….
Poul Anderson began writing his own “future history” in the 1950s, with its starting point being that there would be a limited nuclear war at some point in the 1950s. From that point would develop a secret effort to build a new social structure that could permanently prevent war….
…As with Avatar, Avatar: The Way of Water is a visual feast. Unlike the first film, there aren’t long sweeping pans lingering over beautiful, otherworldly vistas. The “beautiful” and the “otherworldly” are still there, but we’re seeing them incorporated into the action and storytelling….
… When I was growing up, children like myself were taught, no, more like indoctrinated, to think the United States was the BEST place to grow up, that our country was ALWAYS in the right and that our institutions were, for the most part, unassailable and impervious to criticism from anyone, especially foreigners.
I grew up in Ohio in the 1960’s and despite what I was being taught in a parochial Catholic grade school (at great expense, I might add, by my hard-working parents), certain things I was experiencing did not add up. News of the violence and casualties during the Vietnam War was inescapable. I remember watching the evening network news broadcasts and being horrified by the number of people (on all sides of the conflict) being wounded or killed on a daily basis.
As the years went on, it became harder to reconcile all of the violence, terrorism, public assassinations and the racism I was experiencing with the education I was receiving. The Pentagon Papers and the Watergate break-ins coincided with my high school years and the beginnings of my political awakening.
When I look back on those formative days of my life, I see myself as a small child, set out upon a sea of prejudice and whiteness, in a boat of hetero-normaltity, destination unknown….
… After I introduced myself to Mr. Weir and Mr. Bell, I said, “You and I have something in common.”
“Oh really? What’s that?”
“You and I are the only 2022 Hugo Award nominees within a hundred-mile radius of this bookstore.” (I stated that because I know that our fellow nominee, Jason Sanford, lives in Columbus, Ohio, hence the reference to the mileage.)…
Despite some very harsh comments from Dmitry Rogozin, the director general of Roscosmos, threatening that “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe?” spacefarers seem to have a different perspective and understanding of the importance of international cooperation, respect and solidarity. This appears to have been demonstrated today when three cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station….
Forty-five years ago or thereabouts, on February 26, 1977, the first ‘prog’ of 2000AD was released by IPC magazines. The second issue dated March 5 a week later saw the debut of Judge Dredd. Since then, Rogue Trooper, Nemesis the Warlock, Halo Jones, Sláine, Judge Anderson, Strontium Dog, Roxy and Skizz, The ABC Warriors, Bad Company and Proteus Vex are just some of the characters and stories that have emanated from the comic that was started by Pat Mills and John Wagner. Some have gone on to be in computer games, especially as the comic was purchased by Rebellion developments in 2000, and Judge Dredd has been brought to the silver screen twice.
Addictive and enjoyable stories of the fantastic, written and drawn by some of the greatest comic creators of the latter part of the 20th century, they often related to the current, utilizing Science Fiction to obscure issues about violence or subversiveness, but reflecting metaphorically about the now of the time….
Traditionally, the start of a new year is a time when film critics begin assembling their lists of the best films, actors, writers, composers, and directors of the past year. What follows, then, while honoring that long-held tradition, is a comprehensive compilation and deeply personal look at the finest film scores of the past nearly one hundred years….
The frenzy of joyous controversy swirling over director Adam McKay’s new film Don’t Look Up has stirred a healthy, if frenetic debate over the meaning and symbology of this bonkers dramedy. On its surface a cautionary satire about the impending destruction of the planet, Don’t Look Up is a deceptively simplistic tale of moronic leadership refusing to accept a grim, unpleasant reality smacking it in its face.
What follows is truly one of the most personally heartfelt, poignant, and heartbreaking remembrances that I’ve ever felt compelled to write.
Veronica Carlson was a dear, close, cherished friend for over thirty years. I learned just now that this dear sweet soul passed away today. I am shocked and saddened beyond words. May God rest her beautiful soul.
After interviewing William Shatner for the British magazine L’Incroyable Cinema during the torrid Summer of 1969 at “The Playhouse In The Park,” just outside of Philadelphia, while Star Trek was still in the final days of its original network run on NBC, my old friend Allan Asherman, who joined my brother Erwin and I for this once-in-a-lifetime meeting with Captain James Tiberius Kirk, astutely commented that I had now met and befriended all three of our legendary boyhood “Captains,” which included Jim Kirk (William Shatner), Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers (Larry “Buster” Crabbe), and Buzz Corry (Edward Kemmer), Commander of the Space Patrol….
… The first of the most important music modernists, however, in the post war era and “Silver Age” of film composers was Elmer Bernstein who would, had he lived, be turning one hundred years old on April 4th, 2022. Although he would subsequently prove himself as able as classic “Golden Age” composers of writing traditional big screen symphonic scores, with his gloriously triumphant music for Cecil B De Mille’s 1956 extravaganza, The Ten Commandments….
… She was just four days into her maiden voyage from Southhampton to New York City when this “Unsinkable” vessel met disaster and finality, sailing into history, unspeakable tragedy, and maritime immortality. May God Rest Her Eternal Soul … the souls of the men, women, and children who sailed and perished during those nightmarish hours, and to all those who go courageously “Down to The Sea in Ships.” This horrifying remembrance remains among the most profoundly significant of my own seventy-six years….
… It is true that Seth MacFarlane, the veteran satirist who both created and stars in the science fiction series, originally envisioned [The Orville] as a semi-comedic tribute to Gene Roddenberry’s venerable Star Trek. However, the show grew more dramatic in its second season on Fox, while it became obvious that MacFarlane wished to grow outside the satirical box and expand his dimensional horizons and ambitions….
… I was born in the closing weeks of 1945, and grasped at my tentative surroundings with uncertain hands. It wasn’t until 1950 when I was four years old that my father purchased a strange magical box that would transform and define my life. The box sat in our living room and waited to come alive. Three letters seemed to identify its persona and bring definition to its existence. Its name appeared to be RCA, and its identity was known as television….
He was a kindly, gentle soul who lived among us for a seeming eternity. But even eternity is finite. He was justifiably numbered among the most influential writers of the twentieth century. Among the limitless vistas of science fiction and fantasy he was, perhaps, second only in literary significance to H.G. Wells who briefly shared the last century with him. Ray Bradbury was, above all else, the poet laureate of speculative fiction….
On June 11, 1982, America and the world received the joyous gift of one of the screen’s most beloved fantasy film classics and, during that memorable Summer, a young aspiring television film critic reviewed a new film from director Steven Spielberg called E.T….
…Before I realized it, tables and chairs were being moved and I felt the hands of paramedics lifting me to the floor of the restaurant. Les was attempting to perform CPR on me, and I was drifting off into unconciousness. I awoke to find myself in an ambulance with assorted paramedics pounding my chest, while attempting to verbally communicate with me. I was aware of their presence, but found myself unable to speak….
After nearly dying a little more than a decade ago during and just after major open heart surgery, I fulfilled one of the major dreams of my life…meeting the man who would become my last living life long hero. I’d adored him as far back as 1959 when first hearing the dramatic strains of the theme from Checkmate on CBS Television. That feeling solidified a year later in 1960 with the rich, sweet strains of ABC Television’s Alcoa Premiere, hosted by Fred Astaire, followed by Wide Country on NBC….
…When Jack Warner was casting the film version of the smash hit, he considered performers such as Cary Grant, James Cagney, or Frank Sinatra for the lead. Meredith Willson, the show’s composer, however, demanded that Robert Preston star in the movie version of his play, or he’d withdraw the contracts and licensing. The film version of The Music Man, produced for Warner Brothers, and starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones, opened to rave reviews on movie screens across the country in 1962. Robert Preston, like Rex Harrison in Lerner and Lowe’s My Fair Lady, had proven that older, seasoned film stars could propel both Broadway and big screen musicals to enormous artistic success….
On the evening of May 14, 1998, following the airing over NBC Television of the series finale of Seinfeld, the world and I received the terrible news of the passing of the most beloved entertainer of the twentieth century. It has been twenty-four years since he left this mortal realm, but the joy, the music, and the memories are as fresh and as vital today as when they were born….
Very exciting news. The long awaited CD soundtrack release of 12 O’Clock High is now available for purchase through La-La Land Records and is a major restoration of precious original tracks from Quinn Martin’s beloved television series….
That terrible day in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 remains one of the most significantly traumatic days of my life. I was just seventeen years old. I was nearing the end of my high school classes at Northeast High School in Philadelphia when word started spreading through the hallways and corridors that JFK had been shot. I listened in disbelief, praying that it wasn’t true … but it was….
I recently watched a somber new three part documentary by film maker Ken Burns that is among the most sobering, heartbreaking, and horrifying indictments of humanity that I have ever encountered. It was extremely difficult to watch but, as an American Jew, I remain struck by the similarities between the rise in Fascism in the early nineteen thirties, leading to the beginnings of Nazism in Germany, and the attempted decimation of the Jewish people in Europe and throughout the world, with the repellant echoes of both racial and religious intolerance, and the mounting hatred and suspicion of the Jewish communities and population residing presently in my own country of birth, these United States….
I’ve read with interest some of the recent discussions concerning the measure of Hugo Friedhofer’s importance as a composer, and it set my memory sailing back to another time in a musical galaxy long ago and far away. I have always considered Maestro Friedhofer among the most important, if underrated, composers of Hollywood’s golden era….
…Steven Spielberg’s reverent semi-autobiographical story of youthful dreams and aspirations is, for me, the finest, most emotionally enriching film of the year, filled with photographic memories, and indelible recollections shared both by myself and by the film maker….
My friend Adam Spector tells me that when Ernest Lehman was asked to write the script for North by Northwest, he tried to turn out the most “Hotchcocky” script he could, with all of Hitchcock’s obsessions in one great motion picture.
Moonfall is the most “Emmerichian” film Roland Emmerich is made. Like his earlier films, it has flatulent melodrama interlaced with completely daft science. But everything here is much more intense than his earlier work. But the only sense of wonder you’ll get from this film is wondering why the script got greenlit….
… Having a long career in Hollywood is a lot harder than in other forms of publishing; you’ve got to have the relentless drive to pursue your vision and keep making sales. To an outsider, what is astonishing about J. Michael Straczynski’s career is that it has had a third act and may well be in the middle of a fourth. His career could have faded after Babylon 5. The roars that greeted him at the 1996 Los Angeles Worldcon (where, it seemed, every conversation had to include the words, “Where’s JMS?”) would have faded and he could have scratched out a living signing autographs at media conventions….
When I read in the Financial Times about how Britain’s National Theatre was adapting Sir Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage, the first volume of his Book of Dust trilogy, I told myself, “That’s a play for me! I’ll just fly over to London and see it! OGH is made of money, and he’ll happily pay my expenses!”
Fortunately, I didn’t have to go to London, because the theatre came to me, with a screening of the National Theatre Live production playing at the American Film Institute. So, I spent a pleasant Saturday afternoon seeing it….
… Stories matter more in the theatre than in film because far more of a play is in our imagination than in a film. Stripped of CGI and rewrites by multiple people, what plays offer at their best is one person’s offering us something where, if it works, we tell ourselves, “Yes, that was a good evening in the theatre,” and if it doesn’t, we gnash our teeth and feel miserable until we get home…
As Anton Ego told us in Ratatouille, the goal of a critic today is to be the first person to offer praise to a rising artist. It’s not the tenth novel that deserves our attention but the first or second. In the theatre, the people who need the most attention are the ones who are being established, not the ones that build on earlier successes.
So I’m happy to report that Matthew Aldwin McGee, author, star, and chief puppeteer of Under the Sea with Dredgie McGee is a talented guy who has a great deal of potential. You should be watching him….
I once read an article about a guy who was determined to live life in 1912. He lived in a shack in the woods, bought a lot of old clothes, a Victrola, and a slew of old books and magazines. I don’t remember how he made a living, but the article made clear that he was happy….
By Chris Garcia: Hugo-winning fanzine Journey Planet tackles the intersection of climate change and science fiction with their 67th issue now available here.
The issue — titled “Anthropocene Ruminations” — features articles, fiction, and art from more than a dozen creators from across the fandom community. Amanda Wakaruk and Olav Rokne were brought on as guest editors for the issue, which delves into everything from geoengineering to how climate change affects parasites in changing environments.
“Climate change is the defining crisis of our age. We might suggest that climate change fiction — or cli-fi — is quickly becoming the defining subgenre of our time,” Wakaruk and Rokne explain. “People all across the globe are grappling with climate change — some more directly than others. Rising oceans, disappearing fresh water, massive heat waves, displacements, and droughts are all factors in this massive event, and it’s important to understand how that is being reflected in the stories that we tell each other.”
The issue kicks off with a three-page interview with America’s most prominent author of climate change fiction Kim Stanley Robinson, followed by commentary and analysis of the subgenre from authors from across the globe:
The Roadmap to Drought by Victoria Paterson
The Lies They Will Tell You by Camestros Felapton
The Loaner by A. L. Yakimchuk
Where The World May Wind Up by Juan Sanmiguel
Songs of a Disposable Earth by Jason Sanford
Disco and the Rising Tide of Cli-Fi Paul Weimer
Ponderings by Victoria Carter
Parasites in Peril by Collin Horn
Massive Moment for Cli-Fi by James Bacon
Apocalyptic Radio by Nicolas Pallaris
Choosing Van Gogh by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki
Things Fall Apart, It’s Scientific by Chris Garcia
Is Geoengineering by The New Denial? by Stephen Griffith & Marshall Boyd
Dwelling in the Anthropocene by Cora Buhlert
Blowing Up The Ministry For The Future by Gautam Bhatia
Unionized employees at HarperCollins went on strike Thursday, saying they planned to stop working until they reached an agreement on a new contract.
The HarperCollins union represents about 250 employees in editorial, publicity, sales, marketing, legal and design. In a statement, the union said its members, who have been working without a contract since April, wanted better family leave benefits and higher pay.
Olga Brudastova, the president of Local 2110 of the U.A.W., which represents unionized HarperCollins employees, said that the union had decided to go on an indefinite strike after negotiations with the company stalled. The union is proposing that HarperCollins raise the minimum starting salary to $50,000, from $45,000. It has also demanded that the company address the lack of diversity in its work force.
Publishing has long been a low paying industry with long hours for its entry and midlevel employees, and it is based in New York, a very expensive city. It is also an overwhelmingly white industry, and many in the industry feel the low pay is part of what makes diversifying the industry difficult.
A recent report from PEN America, a free speech organization, said that according to company data, 74 percent of employees at Penguin Random House were white last of year, as were more than 70 percent of employees at Macmillan and about 65 percent of employees at Hachette. Those concentrations were even higher among senior managers.
Some employees joining the strike said that they hoped their collective action would also drive changes across the industry.
… Asked whether he just upended the entire Senate election from his basement for less than the price of a used car, Oliver casually agreed.
“Yeah, you could say that,” he said. “And, good on me, I guess. You, too, can do this.”
Oliver racked up over 81,000 votes, according to the official tally. That’s more than twice the gap between the two main candidates. Warnock led on Wednesday afternoon with about 1,941,000 votes, compared to roughly 1,906,000 for Walker.
That wafer-thin margin means Oliver’s supporters could swing the runoff, too, if they all get behind one candidate. Their choice will be Warnock, a pastor at the church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached; or Walker, a football star with a stormy personal life, endorsed by former President Donald Trump….
Chase Oliver loves to dress up for Dragon Con, the fantasy and science-fiction convention held over Labor Day weekend in Atlanta. He prefers villains. One year he came as the Riddler; another as the Norse god Loki.
But this year, Oliver, 37, is playing a different role altogether on a much different stage. As the Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, he may be the spoiler.
In the neck-and-neck contest between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker, Oliver might peel off enough votes to send the nationally watched race into a runoff. That would translate into four more weeks of campaigning and millions more dollars in spending for a contest already expected to be among the costliest and most consequential in the nation.
Oliver is OK with that.
“The voters send this to a runoff. I don’t,” he said in an interview. “If one of the candidates can’t get 50% plus one of the vote, they don’t deserve to win.”
(3) DEPARTURE LOUNGE. There are probably many such announcements being made, I just happened to see this one.
(4) EKPEKI’S WFC ACCEPTANCE SPEECH. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki has posted on Facebook and his YouTube channel two videos of his World Fantasy Award, Best Anthology, acceptance speech. The first from the WFC has audience reactions muted. A second one taken from the audience is slightly less clear but has audible audience reactions.
…And then there is the “Mind-Meld Experience,” the day that Jimi, a renowned traveler through space, time and dimension, encountered Nimoy, another astral musical voyager.
Here, then, is WKYC Radio disc jockey Chuck Dunaway’s fascinating account of a wild night with Jimi and Leonard Nimoy in Cleveland on March 25, 1968. It is Chuck D.’s story of that day, illustrated with a few rare artifacts, some of which I published in the March 1988 Guitar World [Special Collectors’ Edition: Hendrix Lives! Tribute to a Genius] and others from Chuck’s personal archives….
(6) DAW’S TAD WILLIAMS ACQUISITIONS. Betsy Wollheim, Publisher at DAW Books, has acquired North American rights to two fantasy books by Tad Williams, represented by Matt Bialer at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates.
The first of the two books, scheduled for Fall 2024, is The Splintered Sun. Set in Williams’ beloved and well-known fantasy world of Osten Ard, The Splintered Sun follows the adventures of Robin Hood-esque figure Flann Alderwood and his band of misfit rebels in one of Osten Ard’s oldest and strangest cities, Crannhyr.
The Splintered Sun is a fast-moving adventure that will thrill newcomers diving into the world of Osten Ard for the first time, while weaving together many parts of previously unrevealed Osten Ard history for all the readers who are eager to delve into the pre-Dragonbone Chair history of Hernystir and Erkynland.
The Splintered Sun will be published by DAW Books in Fall 2024.
(7) THEY’RE FASH, AND I’M FURIOUS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] A few of us at the Hugo Book Club Blog have been musing about what the depiction of fascist empires in space-based science fiction tells us about the popular conception of what it means to be “nazi.” There’s often a lack of engagement in pop culture with the question of what “fascism” actually means, which unfortunately probably makes it easier for real-world fascists to peddle their wretched ideology. (The blog post title is a reference to a classic 1987 Trauma movie about neo-nazis on surfboards.) “Space Nazis Must Die”.
Nazis should be opposed wherever they exist: on the battlefield, at the ballot box, in the streets, and across the tenebrous depths of interstellar space. As such, depicting villains as Nazis — and therefore Nazism as villainous — has value. But depiction without engaging with the premises of motivation is lacking.
(8) GILLER PRIZE. The 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner was announced November 7. The Prize is a celebration of Canadian literary talent. It went to the non-genre novel The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr.
There had been two works of genre interest on the shortlist, Kim Fu’s story collection Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, and Sheila Heti’s Pure Colour.
(9) GOODREADS CHOICE. The opening round for the 2022 Goodreads Choice Awards begins November 15.
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1932 — [By Cat Eldridge.] One of the earlier Sherlock Holmes films is Conan Doyle’s Master Detective Sherlock Holmes which it’s ninetieth anniversary this year. It came sixteen years after the first such film, Sherlock Holmes, was released.
It was an American pre-Code film starring Clive Brook as the eponymous London detective. It was not based directly off the writings of Doyle but on the very successful Sherlock Holmes stage play by William Gillette.
Gillette was a manager of actors, a playwright, and stage-manager in that era. He is best remembered for portraying Sherlock Holmes on stage and in a 1916 silent film thought to be lost until it was rediscovered in 2014 which I essayed about here.
The 1932 film was directed by William K. Howard for the Fox Film Corporation. Brook had played Holmes previously in The Return of Sherlock Holmes and the “Murder Will Out” segment of Paramount on Parade.
The story here in brief is that Holmes is pulled away from retirement with his fiancée when the condemned Moriarty escapes from prison and swears vengeance.
Interestingly Reginald Owen plays Dr. Watson, and Ernest Torrence is Holmes’s arch-rival, Professor Moriarty. Reginald Owen played Sherlock Holmes the following year in A Study in Scarlet.
Owen is but a very one of a small number of performers ever that have performed the roles of Holmes and Watson.
It includes Jeremy Brett, who played Watson on stage in the United States and, of course, Holmes later on, Carleton Hobbs, who did both roles in British radio adaptations, and Patrick Macnee, who did both roles in US television movies.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 10, 1889 — Claude Rains. Actor whose first genre role was as Dr. Jack Griffin in the 1933 film The Invisible Man. He would go on to play Jacob Marley in Scrooge, Prince John in The Adventures of Robin Hood, Sir John Talbot in The Wolf Man, and Erique in The Phantom of the Opera. (Died 1967.)
Born November 10, 1924 — Russell Johnson. Best known in what is surely genre for being Professor Roy Hinkley in Gilligan’s Island. His genre career started off with four Fifties films, It Came from Outer Space,This Island Earth, Attack of the Crab Monsters and The Space Children. He would later appear in both the Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. On ALF, he would appear as Professor Roy Hinkley in “Somewhere Over the Rerun”. (Died 2014)
Born November 10, 1943 — Milt Stevens. Today is indeed his Birthday. On the day File 770 announced his unexpected passing OGH did a wonderful post and y’all did splendid commentary about him, so I’ll just send you over there. (Died 2017.)
Born November 10, 1946 — Jack Ketchum. Writer who was mentored by Robert Bloch, horror writer par excellence. Winner of four Bram Stoker Awards, he was given a World Horror Convention Grand Master Award for outstanding contribution to the horror genre. I’ll admit I’m not sure that I’ve read him, so I’ll leave it up to the rest of you to say which works by him are particularly, errr, horrifying. Oh, and he wrote the screenplays for a number of his novels, in all of which he quite naturally performed. (Died 2018.)
Born November 10, 1950 — Wesley Dean Smith, 72. Editor of Pulphouse magazine, about which fortunately Black Gate has provided us with a fascinating history which you can read here. Pulphouse I first encountered when I collected the works of Charles de Lint who was in issue number eight way back in the summer issue of 1990. As a writer, he is known for his use of licensed properties such as StarTrek, Smallville, Aliens, Men in Black, and Quantum Leap. He is also known for a number of his original novels, such as the Tenth Planet series written in collaboration with his wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
Born November 10, 1960 — Neil Gaiman, 62. Where to start? By far, Neverwhere is my favorite work by him followed by the Sandman series and Stardust. And I sort maybe possibly kind of liked American Gods. Coraline is just creepy. By far, I think his best script is Babylon 5’s “Day of The Dead” though his Doctor Who episodes, “The Doctor’s Wife” and “Nightmare in Silver” are interesting, particularly the former.
Born November 10, 1971 — Holly Black, 51. Best known for her Spiderwick Chronicles, which were created with fellow writer and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi, and for the Modern Faerie Tales YA trilogy. Her first novel was Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale. (It’s very, very good.) There have been two sequels set in the same universe. The first, Valiant, won the first Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy. Doll Bones which is really, really creepy was awarded a Newbery Honor and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. Suffice it to say if you like horror, you’ll love her.
Born November 10, 1989 — Aliette de Bodard, 33. Author of the oh-so-excellent Xuya Universe series. Her Xuya Universe novella “The Tea Master and the Detective” won a Nebula Award and a British Fantasy Award, and was nominated for the Hugo and World Fantasy Award. “The Shipmaker”, also set herein, won a BSFA Award for Best Short Fiction. Her other major series is The Dominion of the Fallen which is equally lauded. More Hugos noms? Oh yes indeed. LoneStarCon3 saw her nominated both for her oh so amazing “On a Red Station, Drifting” novella and her “Immersion” short story; Loncon 3 for her “The Waiting Stars” novelette (a Nebula winner); “Children of Thorns, Children of Water” novelette nominated at Worldcon 76; at Dublin2019, In a Vanishers’ Palace was nominated as was the ever so stellar The Tea Master and The Detective novella (a Nebula winner), a favorite of mine ever more; DisCon III saw another novelette, “The Inaccessibility of Heaven”, nominated . And this year, her most excellent Fireheart Tiger novella was up for a Hugo.
(12) MARVEL REVEALS ITS 2023 FREE COMIC BOOK DAY TITLES. In 2023, Free Comic Book Day will lure customers to their local comic shops on May 6. Here are Marvel’s four giveaway titles. For more information, visit Marvel.com.
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2023: AVENGERS/X-MEN #1 features a pair of all-new stories that set the stage for the next evolution in mutant adventures, FALL OF X, and introduces an uncanny new lineup for a new team book launching next year. Plus a preview of Jonathan Hickman and Valerio Schiti’s upcoming mystery project.
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2023: SPIDER-MAN/VENOM #1 will web-sling readers into the exciting developments currently taking place in Zeb Wells and John Romita Jr.’s hit run of Amazing Spider-Man and lay the groundwork for the SUMMER OF SYMBIOTES. Plus a preview of new Marvel epic just on the horizon.
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2023: MARVEL’S VOICES #1 invites readers to the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed Marvel’s Voices series, which spotlights creators and characters across Marvel’s diverse and ever-evolving universe. The book will include a range of stories from previous Marvel’s Voices issues as well a brand-new one!
And last but certainly not least, FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2023: SPIDEY & FRIENDS #1 is back! Swing into adventure with Spidey, Ghost-Spider, and Miles as they face off against Green Goblin, Doc Ock and more in this spectacular special. Filled with easy-to-read comic stories based on the hit Disney Junior show, this book is perfect for the youngest readers aged 5-7. Young fans will even be able to test their wall-crawling skills with thrilling interactive activity pages! Kids will love this not-to-be-missed comic: the perfect primer for the newest generation of Spider-Fans!
(13) OCTOTHORPE. John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty are back with episode 70 of the Octothorpe podcast — “Oh”.
We read your lovely letters before talking about a bunch of news, including the Clarke Awards, Pemmi-Con, the Chengdu Worldcon, World Fantasy Con 2025, and Novacon.
(14) A QUESTION. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Question: Do authors get paid (reasonably) for special-press/signed editions of their books?
(In some Facebook Groups I’m following) I’m seeing special collector/collectible editions of books with a mix of additional content (essays, art, etc.), print quality (nicer paper, leather-bound, bound-by-hand, etc), and limited-edition indicia (numbered, signed-by-author)… priced often in the hundreds of dollars.
I have no doubt that the price reflects the work and materials… my question is, are authors getting a reasonable piece of the action? (Particularly when they’d put in the time to sign.)
Universal Orlando Resort today announced the closing of at least five attractions to make way for what it termed “new family entertainment.” Fievel’s Playland, Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster, Curious George Goes to Town, DreamWorks Destination and Shrek and Donkey’s Meet & Greet will permanently close at end of day on January 15 203, according to an announcement posted to the resort’s Twitter page.
… Universal confirmed in March that its Orlando Resort will be getting a Super Nintendo World sometime after a same-named area opens at the L.A. park,. That is scheduled for early next year. But, according to permit filings reportedly obtained by the Park Stop blog, the Florida Super Nintendo World appears to be a part of the vast new Epic Universe park being built in Orlando.
Some educated guesses about what will fill the space include a possible Pokémon attraction, or concepts based on DreamWorks or Illumination IP such as Trolls or The Secret Life of Pets — Illumination’s Minions already have their own zone coming next year. Universal promised more details “in the months ahead.”
A large section of the destroyed space shuttle Challenger has been found buried in sand at the bottom of the Atlantic, more than three decades after the tragedy that killed a schoolteacher and six others.
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center announced the discovery Thursday.
“Of course, the emotions come back, right?” said Michael Ciannilli, a NASA manager who confirmed the remnant’s authenticity. When he saw the underwater video footage, “My heart skipped a beat, I must say, and it brought me right back to 1986 … and what we all went through as a nation.”
Divers for a TV documentary first spotted the piece in March while looking for wreckage of a World War II plane. NASA verified through video a few months ago that the piece was part of the shuttle that broke apart shortly after liftoff on Jan. 28, 1986. All seven on board were killed, including the first schoolteacher bound for space, Christa McAuliffe….
(18) ASTROCLICKBAIT. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Physicist and professor of particle physics Brian Cox explains whether the big bang theory is wrong. Despite major scientific discoveries that provide strong support for the Big Bang theory, there´s been a viral paper spreading over the Internet lately which says that the James Webb Space Telescope has refuted the theory. This has led many to think that our understanding of the Big Bang may be wrong. Could this really be the case? Is the James Webb telescope rewriting fundamental theories of the cosmos?
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Anne Marble, Olav Rokne, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]
An attempt to make a right-wing superhero movie has ended in disaster, with $1 million missing in China and a participant facing a federal indictment.
“I wouldn’t count on us getting the money back,” Theodore Beale, a far-right blogger known as “Vox Day,” admitted to his fans and investors in a video last week….
Vox Day had raised over a million dollars from his followers to finance a planned movie, Rebel’s Run, about the character Rebel, who often wears a Confederate flag bustier, “fighting a global police force hunting down freethinking conservatives.” That money was transferred to Utah-based Ohana Capital Financial to secure additional millions in funding. However, Ohana “was the creation of James Wolfgramm, a self-described cryptocurrency billionaire” and allegedly the money was used for other purposes.
Unbeknownst to Beale and his supporters, the indictment alleges, Wolfgramm was deeply in debt to one of his business’s other clients. That client had paid Ohana more than $4 million in September 2020, several months into the Covid-19 pandemic, as part of what was meant to be a payment to a Chinese manufacturer of personal protective equipment. Instead of carrying out the transaction, prosecutors allege, Wolfgramm spent the millions on his own unrelated business issues.
Now seven-figures into the hole and with no PPE to show for it, Wolfgramm allegedly used the Rebel’s Run money to buy the Chinese medical equipment. Soon after that, according to a video Beale released to his fans, the blogger and his collaborators became suspicious and contacted the FBI, sparking the investigation into Wolfgramm.
Wolfgramm’s attorney didn’t respond to a request for comment. Beale declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Wolfgramm now faces four counts of wire fraud over the Rebel’s Run money and other aspects of his business. While the film’s investors might someday recoup a portion of their money through the legal system, Beale has given up on funding his superhero movie….
…It’s a pity this didn’t run in the Swiss media, or Will Sommer would quickly find himself being dragged into a police station to face an interrogation. I never had any access to, nor did I transfer, “the $1 million” to anyone, nor have I ever had any contact whatsoever with James Wolfgramm, Ohana, or any of its employees, associates, or principals….
The word of the week at the 2022 Frankfurt Book Fair, at least in the world of young adult books, is “romantasy,” a portmanteau that speaks for itself.
“Fantasy with lots of romance in the YA category seems to be a thing,” said Nicole Eisenbraun, agent and translation rights manager at Ginger Clark Literary. Claudia Galluzzi, a senior rights manager at Rights People who represents U.S. titles in Arabic, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish language markets, says that it’s practically all anyone is asking for in any of her markets.
“Rights to the titles that we had in the newer catalogs have already been snatched immediately,” Galluzzi said. Adding that the trend started with the pandemic but has grown over the past year in particular, she noted: “Obviously, you don’t want to be in the present—you want something to take you to other worlds and other realities.”
It’s a sentiment that applies to this year’s fair as well. In spite of an ever-growing list of global troubles—the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine, protests in Iran (and the Iranian delegation’s last-minute withdrawal from the fair itself), worldwide supply chain issues and skyrocketing inflation—the prevailing mood at Frankfurt is a sort of giddy gratitude: to see old friends and international colleagues in person, to discuss deals over a table instead of a screen, and to party for three nights running, even in a city as oft-maligned as Germany’s financial capital…
Not long ago, a colleague who’s squeamish about horror movies described some of the scariest films she’d been able to make it through. One of the titles she mentioned? Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite. But wait, I thought, that’s not a horror movie. A tense thriller, maybe, a satirical drama with some frightening set pieces, but not something that would’ve been put on the “horror” shelf in video stores, back when video stores existed.
Still, it does belong to a fun category of films that play with suspense, mystery, and creepiness without sowing constant fear; these stories unsettle but aren’t primarily made to distress and disturb viewers. Below are 10 other worthy and fascinating films that I’d consider to be great “scary” movies for people who don’t like horror. Even if you’re easily spooked, like my colleague, you’ll find something on this list to love.
The Novice (2021, directed by Lauren Hadaway)
A brilliant and sadly underseen indie movie from first-time filmmaker Hadaway, The Novice initially presents as a sports drama. A competitive college freshman named Alex Dall (played by Isabelle Fuhrman) takes a rowing class and catches the itch, quickly rising to join her school’s team. As the plot progresses, Alex’s passion turns into obsession, and she becomes particularly fixated on the clockwork consistency demanded of the best rowers. Fuhrman (known for the Orphan horror franchise) gives an intense performance, but Hadaway’s skill at ratcheting the tension to nightmare levels stands out most as Alex’s devotion turns surreal.
(5) JODIE LAWHORNE, 2023 ARISIA CHAIR, DIES. Arisia mourns the loss of their 2023 convention chair, Jodie Lawhorne, who passed away Wednesday of heart failure after a long illness.
Nicholas “phi” Shectman, President, Arisia Inc., writes:
I am heartbroken at the loss of a friend, collaborator, and enthusiastic member of the Arisia community. It’s hard to imagine that he won’t be there to see what we all have created together, but I am buoyed by the work that the community is doing in this sad time to keep Arisia 2023 going forward. I am especially grateful to Alan and Michelle Wexelblat who will be stepping in to chair the convention.
(6) MEMORY LANE.
1987 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-five years ago this month, The Hidden premiered. Directed by Jack Sholder and produced by committee as it had three producers (Michael L. Meltzer, Gerald T. Olson and Robert Shaye).
It was written by Jim Kouf under the pseudonym Bob Hunt. Kouf being an Edgar Award being a screenplay writer apparently decided not to be associated with this film.
It had a cast of Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Nouri, Clu Gulager, Chris Mulkey, Ed O’Ross, Clarence Felder, Claudia Christian and Larry Cedar.
Critics liked it, with Roger Ebert calling it “a surprisingly effective film“. It has gained cult status. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an excellent seventy-three rating. It likely more or less lost at least something even after making ten million as it cost five million to make and figuring in publicity costs that suggests a loss.
A sequel, The Hidden II, came out six years later. It did not have the cast of the original film. Let’s just say that it wasn’t well received and leave it there.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 20, 1905 — Frederic Dannay. Creator and writer, along with Manfred Bennington Lee, of Ellery Queen. Now I wasn’t going to say he was a genre figure but ESF says he was because genre authors such as Sturgeon penned Queen novels like The Player on the Other Side. And I do include mystery writers from time to time here. (Died 1982.)
Born October 20, 1913 — Barney Phillips. Though he’s best remembered as Sgt. Ed Jacobs on the Dragnet series and yes, I remember him well from it, he did do some genre work of which his most notable being was one on The Twilight Zone, in which he played a Venusian hiding out on Earth as Haley, the short-order cook in “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” episode. Remember you can see it on Paramount+. I just did and he’s amazing. I’m not forgetting his other three appearances there, the first being in “The Purple Testament” as Captain E. L. Gunther, next in “A Thing about Machines” as television repairman which is also a brilliant role for him, followed by the Venusian role, and in “Miniature” as Diemel. Quite a feat that many appearances! He also appeared on The Invaders, Shazzan, Three Musketeers where he was voice of Porthos for all 18 episodes of the animated series, Get Smart! and The Funky Phantom, the latter being a clone of Scooby-Doo! that was set in the American Revolution. Really, I’m not kidding. (Died 1983.)
Born October 20, 1923 — Erle Korshak.He’s a reminder of how old fandom is. He discovered SF in 1934 with the August Astounding magazine and became a very serious collector in 1937 according to several sources. By 1939 he was a well-known fan and one of the leaders of the Moonstruck Press publishing house which was created to publish a bibliography of all fantasy books. He was part of the leadership triumvirate of Chicon 1, the 1940 Worldcon. He later co-founded the Shasta publishing house whose first major work was Everett F. Bleiler’s The Checklist of Fantastic Literature in the late Forties, a pioneering work of SF bibliography. This was followed by major works by Heinlein, Bester, Fredric Brown and other SF authors. He was absent from fandom from the late 50s for thirty years, then rejoined fandom and was attending cons with his children. He was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1996, and won the Barry R. Levin Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Lifetime Collectors Award in 2001. (Died 2022.)
Born October 20, 1934 — Michael Dunn. He’s best remembered for his recurring role on the Wild Wild West as Dr. Miguelito Loveless, attempting to defeat our heroes over and over, but he has had other appearances in genre television. He would be Alexander, a court jester, in the Trek “Plato’s Stepchildren” episode, and a killer clown in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’s “The Wax Men” episode. He was even in the Get Smart! pilot as Mr. Big. (Died 1973.)
Born October 20, 1937 — Emma Tennant. To the manor born but proudly a lifelong supporter of Labour, ISFDB lists nine of her novels as being as SFF. As the Literary Encyclopedia says “Her work is feminist, magical and wicked, and uses the fantastic and the Gothic to interpret and explore everyday women’s roles.“ I’ve not read her, so do tell me about her please if you’ve read her! (Died 2017.)
Born October 20, 1955 — Magdalena Tulli, 67. Polish writer of many, many novels, a few of which are fantastic tales. Some were translated into English and available are from the usual suspects. The one work by her that I wish to single out is Tryby, published in translation as Moving Parts, as it is a metafiction in which the novel in question takes over from its author.
Born October 20, 1966 — Diana Rowland, 56. New Orleans writer with a fascinating job history that includes cop, a crime scene investigator, and a morgue assistant. She’s best known for her Kara Gillian series and White Trash Zombie series. Her only award is a Phoenix Award, a lifetime achievement award for a science fiction professional who has done a great deal for Southern Fandom, given by DeepSouthCon.
(8) RING TONE. As always, in honor of Bela Lugosi’s birthday on October 20, John King Tarpinian dons the Dracula ring which Lugosi wore in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), once part of Forry Ackerman’s collection.
(9) THE ROAD TO HALL. The Saturday Evening Post assembles the “Night of the Horror Hosts”. Did you know there is a Horror Host Hall of Fame, administered by HorrorHound Magazine?
…If you lived in Indianapolis in the 1960s, ’70s, or ’80s, your parents would have been aghast at Sammy Terry (shown above), a ghoul with the face of Death from The Seventh Seal and a voice that invoked Vincent Price with a touch of Liberace. Parents in New Orleans would have shaken their heads sadly at the bizarre laboratory experiments of Morgus the Magnificent — a psycho mix of Mr. Wizard and Dr. Frankenstein — whose “lectures” bookended vintage horror flicks. And they most certainly would not have approved of the sexy scares offered by San Diego’s Moona Lisa, who lounged about in a slinky cat suit and often had a live python draped around her neck. “Hello, earthlings!” was her weekly greeting. At sign-off, she sent her audience of 10-year-old boys off to bed by purring, “Happy hallucinations, honeys.”…
…Why did Neil Gaiman need a horde of armed (“Well, not exactly armed,” he assiduously corrects) Klingons to help him through a particularly aggressive crowd of fans at Comic-Con one year? What was it like for the Russo Bros to first greet the overwhelmingly massive audience in Hall H and announce their debut Marvel film? Why are edible costumes no longer allowed at conventions of any kind?…
(11) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Space Cowboy Books has released episode 56 of the Simultaneous Times science fiction podcast featuring stories by Eric Fomley & Jean-Paul L. Garnier.
Dry Run – by Eric Fomley Phrogger – by Jean-Paul L. Garnier
Simultaneous Times is produced by Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA.
A star system containing two Mercury-like bodies could give clues to how small, dense planets form. Susana Barros at the University of Porto in Portugal and her colleagues studied tiny movements of the star HD 23472 that were caused by the gravitational pull of its planets. This allowed the team to infer the masses of the star’s five known planets, including the two innermost bodies, which seem to be smaller and lighter than Earth.
Combining their data with previous observations, the researchers estimated the five bodies’ compositions. They found that the inner two are likely to be heavier, denser versions of Mercury, with large iron cores; the outer planets, which have larger diameters than Earth, contain more water and gas.
(14) CRIMESTOPPERS TEXTBOOK. Although it seems Vox Day went right to the FBI after getting ripped off, knowing Vox’s views about the government prompted someone to remember Tom O’Donnell’s 2014 satire for The New Yorker: “L.P.D.: Libertarian Police Department”.
…”Somebody just stole four hundred and forty-seven million dollars’ worth of bitcoins.”
The heroin needle practically fell out of my arm. “What kind of monster would do something like that? Bitcoins are the ultimate currency: virtual, anonymous, stateless. They represent true economic freedom, not subject to arbitrary manipulation by any government. Do we have any leads?”
“Not yet. But mark my words: we’re going to figure out who did this and we’re going to take them down … provided someone pays us a fair market rate to do so.”
“Easy, chief,” I said. “Any rate the market offers is, by definition, fair.”
He laughed. “That’s why you’re the best I got, Lisowski. Now you get out there and find those bitcoins.”…
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Splatoon 3,” Fandom Games says Splatoon 3, like the two earlier games, gives gamers an opportunity to blast paint at each other. There are new weapons like a “splatana,” a paint-filled katana, but the game is basically an excuse for gamers to replay a simple game they liked. “I’ll pay you $60” for Splatoon 3, says the gamer, “as long as you don’t put any NFTs in it.”
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Danny Sichel, Jennifer Hawthorne, Scott Edelman, James Reynolds, protonpattycake1, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
(1) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB FUNDRAISER. Fantastic Fiction at KGB is a monthly speculative-fiction reading series held on the second Wednesday of every month at the KGB Bar in Manhattan, hosted by Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel. Admission is always free. To cover the next round of guest expenses, they have launched their first fundraiser in three years, with a $6,000 goal: “Fantastic Fiction reading series at the KGB Bar Gofundme”.
The monthly series, which has been running since the late 1990s , serves as a salon, where writers, editors, agents, and fans of science fiction, fantasy, and horror can co-mingle in a shared event space. The series also served a vital social function during multiple Covid lockdown periods, when we featured authors from all over the globe on our live YouTube channel, and people who were isolated due to the lockdown could keep in contact with the writing community. We also release a free podcast, where we post audio recordings of the monthly readings.
Running the series costs us money. We pay a stipend to our guests, we pay for their drinks at the bar, and we also take them out to dinner after the readings. At present, the series costs about $2,000 per year to run. Unfortunately, we are almost out of money from our last fundraiser three years ago. We hope to raise at least $6,000, which will fund the series for three more years. It would be great if we could raise more.
(2) BLACK PANTHER. “Show them who we are.” A new trailer for Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever dropped today. See it only in theaters beginning November 11.
(3) CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS — JOURNEY PLANET: ANTHROPOCENE RUMINATIONS. [Item by Olav Rokne and Amanda Wakaruk.] When Chris Garcia and James Bacon approached us to guest edit an edition of their Hugo-winning fanzine Journey Planet, they asked us “what subject would you most like to tackle?”
The answer was easy: climate fiction.
Climate change is the defining crisis of our age. Given that the causes of climate change are rooted in technological transformations celebrated by the past century of science fiction, enthusiasts like us have some responsibility to grapple with what it means.
The upcoming “Anthropocene Ruminations” will contain some of the various ways in which SFF fans are grappling with a rapidly heating and chaotic planet: through fiction, through art, through poetry, and through critical discourse.
We’re hoping to have reviews of books depicting climate change, discussions of historical trends, and examinations of aspects of climate change that may have been neglected by genre fiction.
We’d love to hear article and art pitches from across the fandom community (that means all y’all). Send us your ideas before October 15 (email BOTH of us at amanda.wakaruk at gmail dot com and olavrokne at gmail dot com). We’re aiming to have the finished works submitted by November 15.
Will “Anthropocene Ruminations” singlehandedly solve climate change? It’s too early to say for certain. What it’s not too early to say is that it will contain some pieces by Hugo-finalist and Hugo-winning fanwriters.
Drop us a line. Amanda & Olav. Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog co-editors
(4) KEEPING UP WITH CORA BUHLERT. The alumni newsletter of Bremen University, Kurzmeldungen, listed Cora Buhlert’s Hugo win.
Issue Zero of New Edge Sword & Sorcery Magazine published Cora’s article about C.L. Moore and Jirel of Joiry, as well as fiction and non-fiction by Howard Andrew Jones, Brian Murphy, Milton J. Davis, Nicole Emmelhainz, David C. Smith, Dariel R.A. Quiogue, Remco van Strane and Angeline B. Adams, Bryn Hammond, J.M. Clarke, T.K. Rex, Robin Marx and editor Oliver Brackebury. The digital edition is free, the print editions are fairly cheap.
In these pages you will find glowing memories of flights of fancy such as Ultraman, Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot, Astro Boy, Battle of the Planets, Space Giants, Speed Racer, Robotech, and many, many more—including a few you may never even heard of!
The Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine awarded the field’s top prize on Monday to Svante Pääbo, a Swedish geneticist who determined how to extract and analyze DNA from 40,000-year-old Neanderthal bones. Pääbo’s decades of research have made it possible for scientists to begin probing differences between today’s modern humans and their ancient ancestors.
Pääbo, who is 67, has spent decades pioneering and perfecting new methods of extracting Neanderthal DNA, an extremely complex and challenging process. Over time, very old DNA degrades and can become polluted with the DNA of bacteria, and modern scientists can also easily contaminate it with their own genetic material.
But time and again, Pääbo found ways around these and other issues. In 2010, after years of painstaking work, Pääbo and his team published the sequenced Neanderthal genome, a feat that at one time was considered impossible, reports the New York Times’ Benjamin Mueller. As Elizabeth Kolbert wrote in her book The Sixth Extinction, the process was like trying to reconstruct a “Manhattan telephone book from pages that have been put through a shredder, mixed with yesterday’s trash, and left to rot in a landfill.”
…On Monday morning, Pääbo was just finishing a cup of tea when he got a call from Sweden. He assumed the call was bad news about his family’s summer home in Sweden and was instead surprised to learn he’d won the Nobel Prize. When asked whether he ever envisioned winning science’s most prestigious prize, Pääbo humbly replied that he “somehow did not think that this really would… qualify for a Nobel Prize,” per an interview posted on the Nobel Prize website….
…AS: Your work is of course on the sequencing of these early hominins. What does our knowledge, your knowledge of the genetic makeup of those species tell us about our relationship with them.
SP: Well, it does tell us that we are very closely related, first of all, and we’re actually so closely related that they have contributed quite directly, 50, 60 thousand years ago, DNA to the ancestors of most people today, those who have their roots outside Africa. And that variation that, sort of, those variants do have an influence, and influence many things in our physiology today.
AS: Do you think that changes our view of ourselves, knowing that?
SP: In some sense, I do think it does so, the sort of realisation that until quite recently, maybe 14 hundred generations or so ago there were other forms of humans around and they mixed with our ancestors and have contributed to us today. The fact that the last 40 thousand years is quite unique in human history, in that we are the only form of humans around. Until that time, there were almost always other types of humans that existed.
In October 1982, the first issue of FANTASTYKA, Polish science fiction monthly reached its first readers. This was the first real science fiction magazine in the former Soviet bloc! And it had an enormous impact on science fiction in other neighbouring countries as the situation in Eastern Europe was significantly different than in Western Europe as all publishing business in Soviet bloc was under strict control of each state and its leading (often Communist) party. The publishing houses were operated and owned predominantely by state ministries or its subsidiaries, controlled more or less visibly by various types of censorship bodies and though in some Soviet bloc countries in different times publishing was allowed greater freedom (e. g. Yugoslavia, Hungary and/or 1980s Poland), there was never allowed a free press.
And thus even publishing SF fanzines was a sort of risky adventure…
Thank you late Adam Hollanek, late Maciej Parowski, late Andrzej Krzepkowski, Jacek Rodek, Andrzej Wójcik and many many others, who gave us Fantastyka, and who helped us to open the window to science fiction in the West and internationalize science fiction – something then a real novelty….
(7) MICKEY MOUSE CAPITALISM. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Elaine Moore discusses how Disney CEO Bob Chapek is concerned that people who show up at a Disney park every week are crowding out the occasional visitor who will spend a lot of money on stuff.
The problem is that super fans don’t spend as much per visit as occasional park visitors. There are only so many Minnie Mouse headbands a person can wear. For some, the annual pass that allows buyers to visit Disney parks throughout the year is extremely good value too. A one day trip to Disney World in Florida is $109. The annual Incredi Pass is $1,299 plus tax. Visit once a month and you break even. Go every week and you’d save over $4,000. The mismatch has shades of the MoviePass debacle, in which subscribers paid less than $10 per month for multiple cinema trips. MoviePass guessed they might visit once or twice a month. But their willingness to go day after day left the company bankrupt…
…At the recent D23 Expo there were complaints that passes were still suspended. Unluckily for them, Chapek used to run the parks division. He knows that demand is far higher than supply and is sufficiently unsentimental to take advantage. Prices would double and visitors would pay them. Disney fans may moan but they will still keep coming back.”
…For decades, India’s Hindi film industry, known as Bollywood, has been one of the country’s most popular products, for Indians themselves and the world at large. But the consolidation of Hindu nationalism under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has marked a cultural shift.
Laal Singh Chaddha stars, and is produced by, Aamir Khan, one of Hindi cinema’s trio of superstar Khans (Shahrukh and Salman are the other two, all unrelated). On its release, social-media platforms witnessed a tidal wave of targeted attacks calling for a boycott of the movie. The resurfacing of remarks made by Khan on the rise of “intolerance” in India in 2015, as well as clips from his 2014 film PK (which criticised blind-faith belief) were coupled with targeted tweets. Laal Singh Chaddha has fared poorly at the box office, but the calls for a boycott have not stopped. Other movies, such as Vikram Vedha, Dobaara, Shamshera and Brahmastra, are also in the line of fire, the last two owing to the recirculation of 11-year-old remarks by the lead actor, Ranbir Kapoor, on eating beef….
(9) SALES FIGURES. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt looks at the process that Hasbro uses to make 32-inch action figures that cost $399,99. (The latest, Galactus, will be “a towering 32-inch monstrosity of plastic articulation.”) Betancourt says Hasbro uses a crowdfunding method of deciding which giant action figures to make; they greenlit the huge Galactus last summer after 14,000 people agreed to buy it.) “Would you buy a $400 Marvel action figure? Thousands of people can’t wait.”
In comic books,Galactus is known as the devourer of worlds. When it comes to action figures, Galactus is now the destroyer of wallets.
Hasbro decided that its newest figure depicting the giant planet eater from Marvel’s Fantastic Four wouldn’t be the typical six-inch toy that retails inthe $20 to $30 range and decorates work desks and bookshelves. This Galactus,with a design based on the art of famed Marvel writer-artist John Byrne, would be a towering 32-inch-tall monstrosity of plastic articulation. The figure, scheduled for release some timethis fall, is the biggest toy Hasbro has ever built for its Marvel line, which is fitting, given Galactus’s gigantic stature….
Arch had never been to a ritual of dissolution for someone who mattered.
Of course, there were distant kin who had died. But when they dissolved, it felt like they had moved to the next village: poignant, but not a disaster. The artificiality of the ritual made her more uncomfortable than their loss. Well, perhaps that wasn’t quite true. She had genuinely suffered when her physics teacher had died, and she could no longer ask questions about what lay beyond the village of Slope-Toward-Sea, on the planet Skiff, wrapped in the mottled glow of the eroding firmament. Even when her teacher dissolved, though, the ritual had seemed absurd….
(11) MEMORY LANE.
2016 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Six years ago on NBC the Timeless series debuted. (Yes, I do delve into the recent past on occasion). It would last but two seasons. (Yes, two seasons. Read below for why it was only two seasons, really.)
Not terribly original in concept, it involved a group that attempts to stop a mysterious organization from changing the course of history through time travel.
It was created by Eric Kripke who of Supernatural series fame along with the later The Boys, and Shawn Ryan who’s done nothing else they genre wise but has created S.W.A.T. that I love and Lie to Me, a rather odd crime drama series I also like a lot. Yes, I have odd tastes.
Project Lifeboat, among its members, had a history professor, a Delta forces soldier, a computer programmer and a creator of the Lifeboat time machines. Ok I did say it wasn’t a terribly original concept, didn’t I so guess what? NBC got sued by the Spanish series El ministerio del tiempo (The Ministry of Time), which follows the adventures of a three-person team made up of two men and a woman who travel to the past with a view to preserving past events.
It went to court but eventually “their attorneys of record hereby stipulate that the entire civil action may be and hereby is dismissed with prejudice, with each party bearing that party’s fees and costs of suit.” One assumes that large sums of money were involved. Isn’t there always money involved when such things need to be settled?
Getting back to the series, it was cancelled after the second season but a massive, and I do mean massive, fan campaign sort of saved it, so it got a special two-part finale. It originally didn’t make the cut for the next fall season but when they started getting a pushback from fans, NBC responded saying “And then we woke up the next morning, heard the outcry (from fans). We went back to the drawing board, with our partners at Sony, and we found a way to bring it back. It’s extraordinarily well produced and deserved to come back.”
Unlike many similar series, it was allowed a proper wrap-up. Fandango noted, “A fitting farewell, Timeless wraps with a fun, festive finale that ties up loose ends and provides enough fan service to satisfy.”
It carries a most excellent seventy-seven percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. It does not appear to be streaming for free anywhere.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 3, 1933 — Norman Adams. The SF Encyclopedia says genre wise that “Adams may be best known for his cover for the first edition of Larry’s Niven’s World of Ptavvs” on Ballantine Books in 1966. I must say having looked at his ISFDB listings that their assessment is absolutely right. (Died 2014.)
Born October 3, 1927 — Don Bensen. Best-known for his novel And Having Writ… which is not in print in form digitally or in hard copy — damn it. Indeed, nothing by him is. Huh. (Died 1997.)
Born October 3, 1931 — Ray Nelson, 91. SF writer best known for his short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” which was the basis of John Carpenter’s They Live. He later collaborated with Philip K. Dick on The Ganymede Takeover. In the 1940s Nelson appropriated the propeller beanie as a symbol of science fiction fandom. His fannish cartoons were recognized with the Rotsler Award in 2003. He was inducted to the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2019.
Born October 3, 1935 — Madlyn Rhue. She on Trek’s “Space Seed” as Lt. Marla McGivers, Khan Noonien Singh’s (Ricardo Montalbán) love interest. Other genre appearances included being on the original Fantasy Island as Lillie Langtry in “Legends,” and Maria in the “Firefall” episode of Kolchak: The Night. (Died 2003.)
Born October 3, 1944 – Katharine Kerr, 78. Ok I’m going to confess that I’ve not read her Deverry series so please tell me how they are. Usually I do read such Celtic tinged series so I don’t know how I missed them.
Born October 3, 1964 — Clive Owen, 58. First role I saw him in was the title role of Stephen Crane in the Chancer series. Not genre, but fascinating none the less. He’s been King Arthur in film of the same name where Keira Knightley was Guinevere. He’s also was in Sin City as Dwight McCarthy, and in The Pink Panther (though weirdly uncredited) as Nigel Boswell/Agent 006. I’ll also single him out for being Commander Arun Filitt in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
Born October 3, 1973 — Lena Headey, 49. Many of you will know her as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, but I liked her sociopathic Madeline “Ma-Ma” Madrigal on Dredd better. She was also Angelika in The Brothers Grimm, a film I’m sure I’ve seen but remember nothing about.
(14) SURPRISE BEGINNING. John Grayshaw of the Middletown PA Public Library arranged for questions about Murray Leinster to be answered for his Online Science Fiction Book Club by Steven H Silver and the author’s daughter, Billee Stallings. See the Q&A here: “Interview about Murray Leinster”. Note: Murray Leinster was the pen name of Will Jenkins, but I never knew til now that H.L. Mencken was behind his decision to use one.
Damo Mac Choiligh: A trivial question perhaps, but where did he get the pseudonym ‘Leinster’? The word is the English version of the name of a region of Ireland, well known to any Rugby fans.
Billee: When Will was published in Smart Set magazine in his teens, H. L. Mencken put down the other magazines he was selling to and said he should use a pen name and save his own for the “good stuff” (ie; Smart Set). Dad selected Murray from his mother’s maiden name (Murry. Wyndham Martyn, an English writer for the magazine, suggested Leinster. Martyn (known for the Anthony Trent novels) told him the Fitzgeralds (Dad’s middle name) were descended from the Dukes of Leinster.
(15) A DIFFERENT KIND OF TIMELESS NEWS. In 2020, Alex Ross crafted over 30 extraordinary depictions of Marvel’s most beloved super heroes in a beautiful art piece known as Timeless. This iconic imagery was used to produce a best-selling variant cover program and now… it’s the villains turn.
The legendary artist’s newest art piece deviously unites 37 of Marvel’s classic villains! Capturing the menace, danger, and allure of characters like Green Goblin, Doctor Doom, and Thanos, this stunning group shot represents the definitive takes on Marvel’s deadliest foes straight from one the industry’s most revered talents! Look for this beautifully painted artwork to be used for a new series of variant covers starting in March 2023.
“The passion I held for illustrating many of Marvel’s heroes in a timeless representation was easily matched by the passion I felt for illustrating the villains,” Ross said. “Marvel clearly has some of the greatest concepts in the realm of supervillains as well as heroes.”
Find more information about Alex Ross’ new piece including which titles it’ll grace the covers of at Marvel.com.
The news follows the first official Nielsen ratings being released Thursday for the Prime Video series, showing The Rings of Power topped the streaming charts for its debut week with 1.3 billion minutes viewed (likely an Amazon series record given that only two hours were released).
The first season of the show was filmed in New Zealand over an epic stretch of 18 months during the pandemic. For season two, which will consist of eight episodes, Amazon switched the show’s production to the U.K., which is considered more economical and is also where the company is establishing a multishow hub….
(17) SCREEN TIME. Here are JustWatch’s September’s Sci-Fi Top 10 lists:
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Handmaid’s Tale
Jurassic World Dominion
War of the Worlds
The Twilight Zone
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Crimes of the Future
*Based on JustWatch popularity score. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org
(18) MORE HOLLYWOOD BUZZ. The teaser trailer for the new Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania movie dropped Friday.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, Kate Yeazel, Kathy Sullivan, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
…One aspect of The Sleepless that fascinates me is the way society in the book reacts to what some call a superpower, and what could also be framed as a hypercapitalist disability. Sleeplessness offers a fundamental change to human form and function as it’s typically understood, but it’s a change that allows people to engage more with capitalist productivity culture, consumption, and work. What made you want to explore this particular tension?
This story grew out of a what-if question I asked myself during a particularly busy time in my life. What if I didn’t need to sleep? Would I get more stuff done? How would such a change impact me, personally? The thought experiment was hard to contain to the individual level, and when I expanded the what-if to the world at large, it really raised some interesting questions. That’s when I felt like I needed to write it all out.
We’re living in an interesting time where more and more people are taking more control regarding their place in our capitalistic society. People are “quiet quitting”; it’s the age of “The Great Resignation”; there’s an increasing frequency of success stories in labor organizing, and there’s a record number of socialists in Congress. I wanted this story to be in conversation with what’s going on in the world, to interrogate why and how we participate in capitalism….
(3) HE’S GOT NOTHING. BUT SOMEBODY ELSE HAS SOMETHING. This teaser for Deadpool 3 dropped today. Ryan Reynolds apologizes for missing D23. Oh, and there’s a little casting surprised revealed at the end. “Deadpool Update”.
Or if you want to skip the video and go straight to the surprise, read this article in The Hollywood Reporter.
Ahead of Contact’s 25th anniversary, we spoke to nearly two dozen people involved in its making, including Zemeckis, Foster, McConaughey, Druyan, Sasha Sagan, and veteran producer Lynda Obst. They disagreed on several aspects of Contact’s development saga, but settled on some consensus: Contact was a lightning-in-a-bottle project, the kind of thing big movie studios barely made before and would probably never make again — intellectually challenging, emotionally messy, heavy with metaphor, wherein nobody shoots an alien in the face in front of an American flag. “We used to do that,” said Foster. “We used to make movies that were resonant and were entertaining.”…
Ann Druyan: This is 1978. Carl and I are still working on Cosmos. At the time, it was popular to say things like, “Well, if men are as smart as women, then how come there are no female Leonardos? No female Einsteins?” This made both of us furious. I had just co-written the part of Cosmos about the Great Library of Alexandria and the fact that Hypatia, who was the leader of the library, was a mathematician focusing on the Diophantine equations that Newton would later become interested in. Her reward for being the great intellectual light of the library in 415 AD was to be ripped from her chariot that she was driving herself and carved to bits with abalone shells.
People were throwing everything at Carl then. He was such a phenomenon in the culture, and everybody wanted to do something with him. So we knew we could get a book and a movie contract. We agreed one night, sitting in the pool at our little rented house in West Hollywood, that we were going to tell a story in which not only would a woman be the intellectual hero but, in the great tradition of Gilgamesh, she was going to go on the voyage and the guys would stay home.
(5) UNIONIZING PUBLISHING.UAW Local 2110 (2110uaw.org) – HarperCollins is the only unionized Big 4 publisher. HarperCollins workers are pushing for better compensation, diversity protections, and union security.
(6) KSR TO SPEAK IN MARYLAND. At the 2022 F. Scott Fitzgerald Festival, with the theme “Stories and the More-Than-Human”, will be held over several dates. The main date events are on October 15, 2022 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville, MD. The keynote speaker Kim Stanley Robinson will participate in the “Tribute to Richard Powers” at the Writer’s Center on Friday evening, October 14, and will engage with Richard Powers in a “Conversation about the Art of Fiction” and introduce Richard Powers for the Fitzgerald Award on Saturday, October 15. Festival registration is here.
Witches are powerful women. Like all powerful women, they have been maligned, persecuted, hated, desired, feared. They are eternal, mythical subjects, a source of endless fascination. In American history, they occupy a unique place where folklore blurs the lines of reality; we remember the “witches” of Salem, Massachusetts, who were not actually witches. They have become totemic figures in television, movies, books, and pop culture, and their appeal shows no signs of waning: as of this writing, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem is devoting a full-scale exhibit to the power and imagery of the witch…
I was reading this neat summary of time travel rules in fiction and thinking about a couple of things basically angles and effort. The idea that a small change at one point leads to a big change in the future (aka two different kinds of things both known as a butterfly effect) predates modern science fiction. The proverb of consequences that typically starts with “for want of a nail” dates back to at least the 13th century and describes a causal chain of circumstances where a small issue (the nail in a horseshoe) leads to a major outcome.
Put another way: a small amount of effort in the past can lead to a result that would require a huge amount of effort if you were to attempt the same outcome in the present. I think that gives a neat rationale for fiction where you want time travel that allows changes to the future but where you don’t want an oops-I-stepped-on-a-butterfly-now-Donald-Trump-is-president situation….
…Caring for someone who has dementia is an overwhelmingly vivid experience, full of pain and comedy. There are heartbreaking and funny stories in A Life With Footnotes – started by Pratchett himself but written and completed by his longtime assistant Rob Wilkins – about the things that Pratchett’s shrinking brain made him do. He once accidentally donated £50,000 to Bath Postal Museum, for instance. Moments like that can supplant your memories of what a person was like before; here, Wilkins, who started working for the author in 2000, attempts to recover Pratchett pre-dementia. His closeness to the subject means that the book is sometimes joyfully, sometimes painfully, intimate. The description of the day Pratchett’s daughter, Rhianna, was born, for example, is so animated by love, it’s as if this treasured moment was a jewel that Pratchett placed in Wilkins’s care, to ensure it would not be stolen away by the embuggerance….
(10) CHAN DAVIS (1926-2022). Author Chandler Davis died September 24 reports Olav Rokne, who tweeted an extensive tribute that begins here.
SIDE NOTE: (I became aware of Chandler Davis as a science fiction author only a couple of years ago because of @gautambhatia88. But by an odd coincidence it turns out I met him several times in the 1980s as he worked on some math papers with my godfather Dr. Peter Lancaster)
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1968 – [By Cat Eldridge.] This, I believe, was truly one of the the classic episodes of the original Star Trek series. Airing fifty-four years ago on NBC, it scripted by D.C. Fontana, one of eleven episodes that she would write including “Catspaw” that I dearly love, and directed by John Meredyth Lucas as the second episode of the final season.
If you’ve forgotten, the story is Kirk violated the neutral zone. The Romulans have a new bit of technology called a “cloaking device” (just go with the idea please). Kirk pretends to be crazy, then pretends to be a Romulan to get to it. Meanwhile, Spock pretends to be in love. But is he pretending? Who knows.
D. C. Fontana says she based her script very loosely upon the Pueblo incident but I’ll be damned I can see this. It’s a Cold War espionage thriller at heart and most excellently played out. You did note the Romulnan commander never gets named? Later novels including Vulcan’s Heart by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz gave her the name of Liviana Charvanek.
Speaking of Vulcans, Fontana deliberately kept the romance between her and Spock low key to the finger games they did. And then there’s Roddenberry’s idea, never done, Spock “raining kisses” on the bare shoulders of the Romulan commander. Oh awful.
Season three had no budget, I repeat, no budget for frills, so this episode suffered several times from that. Kirk was supposed to have surgery done on him after dying but that got deep sixed, and McCoy was supposed to accompany him back to the Romulan ship but my, oh my ears are expensive, aren’t they?
Fontana would co-write with Derek Chester a sequel: Star Trek: Year Four—The Enterprise Experiment, a graphic novel published by IDW Publishing in 2008.
Critics then and now love it.
It’s airing on Paramount + as is everything else in the Trek universe.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 27, 1927 — Roberta Gellis. Though she wrote nearly a dozen novels of her own, you most likely know her writing within the Elves on the Road Universe created by Mercedes Lackey. She co-wrote Serrated Edge Prequels with Lackey, two of which were full novels — Ill Met by Moonlight and And Less Than Kind. (Died 2016.)
Born September 27, 1932 — Roger Charles Carmel. The original Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd who appeared in two episodes of the original Star Trek, “Mudd’s Women” and “I, Mudd”” and one episode of the animated series as well, “Mudd’s Passion”. I say original because Discovery has decided that they have a Harry Mudd. He also had one-offs on I-Spy, Munsters, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Batman. It is rumored but at all not confirmed he was going to reprise his role as Harry Mudd in a first-season episode of Next Gen but died before filming could start. (Died 1986.)
Born September 27, 1934 — Wilford Brimley. His first genre role was as Dr. Blair in John Carpenter’s The Thing. He’s Benjamin ‘Ben’ Luckett in the Cacoon films, and Agency Director Harold Smith in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. He made a rather splendid President Grover Cleveland in The Wild Wild West Revisted. And finally I note that he was Noa in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. (Died 2020.)
Born September 27, 1947 — Meat Loaf. He has a tasty role as Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And I’d argue some of his music videos are genre stories in their own right including “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”. He also has film roles in Wishcraft (horror), Stage Fright (horror) and Urban Decay (yes, more horror). He’s also in BloodRayne which is yes, horror. He’s had one-offs on Tales from the Crypt, The Outer Limits, Monsters, Masters of Horror and was Doug Rennie, a main cast member of Ghost Wars. (Died 2022.)
Born September 27, 1950 — Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, 72. He’d be on the Birthday Honors list if he’d only been Zylyn in Space Rangers which lasted just six episodes. Damn. But he’s also shown up on Babylon 5, the premier of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Superboy, Alien Nation, the Australian version of Mission: Impossible, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Stargate SG-1, Poltergeist: The Legacy, The Librarians, voicing characters on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Wars Rebels. More recently he played Nobusuke Tagomi in The Man in The High Castle (2015-2018), and Hiroki Watanabe in Lost in Space 2018-2021).
Born September 27, 1956 — Sheila Williams, 66. Editor, Asimov’s Science Fiction the last fifteen years. She won the Hugo Award for Best Short Form Editor at Renovation and Chicon 7. With the late Gardner Dozois, she co-edited a bonnie bunch of anthologies such as Isaac Asimov’s Robots, Isaac Asimov’s Christmas and Isaac Asimov’s Cyberdreams. She was also responsible for the Isaac Asimov Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy writing being renamed the Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing.
Born September 27, 1972 — Gwyneth Paltrow, 50. Yes, she is Pepper Potts in the Marvel Universe film franchise but her first genre role was as a young Wendy Darling in Hook. And she shows up in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow as Polly Perkins, a reporter for The Chronicle. And let’s not forget she was in Shakespeare in Love as Viola de Lesseps. Yes, it’s most decidedly and deliciously genre, isn’t it?
Born September 27, 1972 — Andy Briggs, 50. He started out as an uncredited writer working on story developer on the Highlander Series. I’m going to single out his writing of The Tarzan Trilogy which consists of Tarzan: The Greystoke Legacy, Tarzan the Jungle Warrior and Tarzan: The Savage Lands. Most excellent pulp. He’s written eleven scripts including a remake of The Philadelphia Experiment.
(14) MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood will be staged at City Garage Theatre in Santa Monica, CA from November 11 – December 18, 2022. Get tickets here.
City Garage presents the “The Penelopiad” by feminist icon Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” In this remarkable retelling of “The Odyssey,” Atwood transforms both the power and the politics of the classic tale by shifting the point of view to Penelope, Odysseus’s wife, and of her twelve faithful maids unjustly hanged by the returning “hero.” It takes place in Hades, where these thirteen spirits are trapped for all eternity, telling and retelling their story like angry furies, unable to find redress for what they suffered at male hands.
While her husband Odysseus is off fighting pointless wars—for the sake of her beautiful, shameless, aggravating cousin Helen—dallying with nymphs and sirens, and playing the hero, Penelope is holding the kingdom together. All alone, with nothing but her wits, toughness, and strength to rely on, she has to raise her rebellious son, face down dangerous rumors, and keep more than a hundred lustful, brutal suitors at bay. When twenty years later the “hero” finally returns there is indeed hell to pay—but it is Penelope and her twelve faithful maids who pay the tragic price.
Atwood gives Penelope a modern voice, witty, pragmatic, yet still filled with pain as she gets to tell her own story at last, and set the record straight.
…Universal Pictures dropped the final trailer for Halloween Ends Tuesday, giving us one last look at the concluding chapter of this legacy sequel saga ahead of its October 14 premiere, and the stakes of the film are now clearer than ever. It’s been four years since the events of Halloween Kills, which left the town of Haddonfield deeply scarred and left Laurie’s own daughter (Judy Greer) dead at Michael’s hands. After that night, Michael Myers vanished, but of course Laurie’s not convinced he’s gone for good. The boogeyman is coming back for one last night of terror, and this time, Laurie thinks she finally knows how to kill him. The catch, of course, is that she might have to die too….
CHINA landed its first rover on the surface of Mars, called Zhurong, on May 15, 2021. Just ten days later, it began a series of observations that ancient flows of water on the Red Planet could explain.
A new study published Monday in the journal Nature details how Zhurong collected data on Mars’ subterranean sediments with an instrument called the Rover Penetrating Radar (RoPeR). Chinese scientists looked at the radar results Zhurong obtained as it traveled across more than 1,100 meters of flat landscape in a place called Utopia Planitia from May 25 to September 6, 2021. That’s about 102 Mars days, or sols. In the new work, Chinese researchers announced that Mars’ subsurface sediments were organized in a way that could be explained by ancient water flow on Mars….
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: The Sandman,” the Screen Junkies say that Neil Gaiman may “look like a hobbit,” but The Sandman was “one of the greatest comics ever” and the high quality of this $160 million production shows the merits of “creators owning the rights to their creations.” The show is about the power of dreams, “but the concrete linear kind, not the ones where you’re mowing the lawn with your naked dad.” And does Patton Oswalt’s casting mean he “sounds like a talking bird?”
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Justin E. A. Busch, Rich Lynch, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jake.]
Chicon 8, the 2022 Worldcon, has published the initial draft of the Business Meeting agenda. It can be downloaded here. (Subsequent updates will be found on Chicon 8’s Business Meeting page.) This includes the usual spate of new WSFS Constitution proposals with clever titles meant to entertain fellow business meeting regulars and baffle everyone else.
Among the proposals are several from the Hugo Study Committee created at the 2019 Business Meeting.
The full text of the proposals plus supporting statements are at the link.
MOTIONS TO EXTEND HUGO ELIGIBILITY
There are four resolutions to extend the Hugo eligibility of these science fiction films: After Yang, Strawberry Mansion, Neptune Frost, and Mad God; all proposed by Nana Amuah, Olav Rokne, and Cora Buhlert.
BUSINESS PASSED ON FROM DISCON III
Several amendments to the WSFS Constitution ratified in 2016 in connection with the E Pluribus Hugo voting reform that included a 2022 sunset clause must now be re-ratified in order to remain in effect.
Then, there are these new rules changes which received first passage at DisCon III (2021) that are up for ratification.
“30 Days Hath New Business” creates a deadline for submission of new business.
“The Statue of Liberty Play” removes the requirement to pass on to the next Worldcon postal addresses as part of the contact information of people “who have given permission for that data transfer and only for the purposes for which permission to use that data was given.”
“A Matter of Days” adjusts existing rules language from months to a specific number of days.
“Non-transferability of Voting Rights” replaces the supporting/attending Worldcon membership structure with “WSFS memberships” and “attending member supplements”, with the WSFS memberships being non-transferable (e.g., could not be sold on by the owner.)
NEW CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
“The Zero Percent Solution” proposes to repeal Section 3.12.2 of the Constitution which sets conditions for not awarding a Hugo in any category where the total number of valid ballots cast (excluding those cast for “No Award” in first place) is less than twenty-five per cent (25%) of the total number of final Award ballots received. The case for this change is made by Olav Rokne in his File 770 article “Hugo Voting Threshold Reform Proposal”.
The Olav Rokne (and company) proposal is opposed head-on by the Hugo Study Committee’s “To Defuse the Turnout Bomb, Cut the Red Wire…” which moves to preserve the 25% rule but limit its application to circumstances where “the total number of valid ballots cast for that category, excluding those cast for ‘No Award’ in first place, is fewer than 200.”
The Hugo Awards Study Committee has also introduced these other proposals:
“Clearing Up the Artist Categories Forever (No, Really, We Swear It This Time!)” proposes to change the definition of “Best Professional Artist” to “One or more collaborators on a body of work first displayed during the previous calendar year and created as i) work for hire, ii) on paid commission, or iii) for sale (either directly or via a paywall-like structure).” And to change “Best Fan Artist” to “One or more collaborators on a body of work first displayed during the previous calendar year in a fashion that did not qualify for Best Professional Artist – i.e. neither work for hire, nor commissioned for pay, nor for sale.”
“One Rocket Per Customer, Please!” is actually about eligibility for the Best Series category, not how many trophies can be distributed. Previous winners of the Best Series Hugo would be barred from future eligibility in the category (they current are eligible once certain conditions are met). So would any series “containing an individual installment which has won a Hugo Award of any type in its nominated format.” Also, no series would be eligible in the same year as any of its installments makes the final ballot.
“A Work, By Any Other Name…” is a second not-mutually-exclusive amendment regarding Best Series intended to bar “any series from appearing on the final ballot for the Hugo Award for Best Series only in a year where an installment for that series also appears on the final ballot. It was, however, drawn more broadly in order to also restrict (for example) a short story appearing in the same year that a fix-up novel containing such a story was published. Thus, ‘content’ was used in lieu of ‘work’.”
“An Aristotelian Solution to Fan vs Pro” according to the Committee “seeks to establish a uniform set of boundaries between the two general categories of content, as well as to ensure that no ‘gap’ emerges where something is considered Fan in one sense, Professional in another sense, and therefore not eligible in either category.” The proposal replaces the existing language of 3.2.11 with this text:
A professional publication is a publication produced by professional activity. Any category including language pertaining to non-professional or professional activity will be understood to use the definitions in 3.2.X and 3.2.Y.
3.2.X: Professional activity shall be that which was undertaken with the expectation of sale or other direct profit (by the creator or any co-creators), or which can only be accessed after a payment is made (other than incidental fees, e.g. convention membership fees).
3.2.Y: Non-professional activity shall be that which was not undertaken with the expectation of sale or other direct profit (by the creator or any co- creators), and which can be accessed in a full and final version without any payment.
3.2.Z: All activity shall be considered either Professional or Non-Professional. In cases where there is some doubt as to which category applies to a given work or activity, the will of the nominators should be considered, as should the greater need to protect fan (non-professional) activity against professional activity than the reverse.
“If a Tree Falls in The Woods and Nobody Is Around…” creates a mechanism that requires low-voter-participation categories to be considered for removal by the Worldcon Business Meeting:
3.12.3: In the event that the total number of valid ballots cast for a specific category (excluding those cast for No Award in First Place) is fewer than ten per cent (10%) of the total number of final Award ballots received in a non-Retro Hugo vote in two years out of three successive years, an amendment effecting the removal of that category from the list of enumerated Hugo Award categories shall be automatically placed on the agenda for the next Worldcon’s Business Meeting.
The Agenda says the Hugo Awards Study Committee (“HASC”) for 2019-2020 consisted of Cliff Dunn (Chair), Alex Acks, Andrew A. Adams, Ira Alexandre, Paul Cornell, Joni Brill Dashoff, Todd Dashoff, Vincent Docherty, Kathryn Duval, Martin Easterbrook, Lisa Garrison, Helen Gbala, Colin Harris, John Hertz, Kevin Hewett, Tim Illingworth, Kat Jones, Marguerite Kenner, Guy Kovel, Joshua Kronengold, Michael Lee, Perrianne Lurie, Mark J. Meenan, Farah Mendlesohn, Lisa Padol, Hanne Paine, PRK, Martin Pyne, Oskari Rantala, Mark Richards, Claire Rousseau, Ann Marie Rudolph, Kate Secor, Kevin Standlee, Corina Stark, Kelly Strait, Don A. Timm, Kári Tulinius, Jo Van Ekeren, Lew Wolkoff, Betsy Wollheim, and Ben Yalow. The agenda does not state whether any changes were made to the Committee’s membership in subsequent years.
By Olav Rokne: Over the past several weeks, a group of fans has been working on a proposal to abolish WSFS constitution clause 3.12.2, which could result in a Hugo category getting no award even when that is not the express wishes of voters. The group proposing this change to the WSFS constitution includes people who are presently or have recently been finalists in the categories most likely to be affected by 3.12.2 of the constitution.
It would be exceptionally embarrassing for a Worldcon to have to explain why a finalist would have won the Hugo except for — oops! — this bit of outdated fine print. The best course of action is to eliminate that fine print before such a circumstance arises.
The list of people who have been working on this proposal includes Olav Rokne, Amanda Wakaruk, Paul Weimer, Jason Sanford, Cora Buhlert, Camestros Felapton, Christopher J Garcia, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Joe Sherry, Adri Joy, Gideon Marcus, Lori Anderson, Kevin Anderson, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Haley Zapal, Amy Salley, Chris M. Barkley, Mike Glyer, and Alasdair Stuart.
Here is the current draft of the proposal that we intend to present to the business meeting:
Hugo Voting Threshold Reform Proposal for the 2022 Business Meeting
Over the past several years, several Hugo Award categories have come close to not being awarded due the current wording of, but not the original intent of, 3.12.2 of the constitution.
The current text of 3.12.2
“No Award” shall be given whenever the total number of valid ballots cast for a specific category (excluding those cast for “No Award” in first place) is less than twenty-five per cent (25%) of the total number of final Award ballots received.
While this clause was designed to guard against categories in which there was a lack of interest, there has not been a significant decline in the categories most at risk of being affected by 3.12.2. Rather there has been a significant uptick in interest in other categories.
Since 2,362 final Award ballots were cast in 2021, if any category received fewer than 591 votes in the final count, then a result of “No Award” would have been declared. Fancast received 632 votes, barely scraping past that 25 per cent threshold. Fanzine (643 votes), Editor – Long Form (667 votes), and Fan Writer (680 votes) were all poised near the abyss.
Worldcon has grown since the 1960s to the point at which this threshold is no longer relevant, and could even be harmful.
The fact that this threshold is based on the overall number of ballots cast in more high-profile categories (like Best Novel or Best Dramatic Presentation), it risks punishing these important and community-oriented categories (like Fancast and Fanzine) – despite the existence of substantial and sustained interest in these categories.
In an era of superhero franchises and a true renaissance of SF/F television worldwide, it is unwieldy to expect community-oriented categories to pull the same interest as multi-million dollar franchises. We do a disservice to the diversity of our community when we establish the latter as the threshold of popularity for the former.
To address this unanticipated problem, we would propose decoupling the viability threshold from the total number of final award ballots with the following proposal:
PROPOSAL – Eliminate 3.12.2
Strike the following words from the WSFS constitution:
3.12.2: “No Award” shall be given whenever the total number of valid ballots cast for a specific category (excluding those cast for “No Award” in first place) is less than twenty-five percent (25%) of the total number of final Award ballots received.
Several other options for reform of this section have been discussed, such as changing the percentage, moving the threshold to an absolute value, or creating other metrics. However, eliminating this viability test altogether is the simplest action that would solve the immediate problems faced in an era of disproportionate increases of interest in some Hugo categories.
Science fiction author Charlie Jane Anders (Victories Greater Than Death) brought abundant charisma to the stage for her Ci10 keynote. Her hot-pink bob, matching Doc Martens, and neon-confetti-dotted black dress reinforced her energy. She delivered her talk, “Magical Portals Are Real, and I Can Prove It!,” in a conversational and confiding tone, to booksellers who know and recommend her LGBTQ+ fiction.
Alluding to Frank Herbert’s Dune dictum that “the universe is full of doors,” Anders said that we encounter portals in our lives. “I’ve jumped universes three or four times,” she said, acknowledging how she came to recognize her authorial persona and trans identity. “This is definitely not the universe I was born in.”…
After more than six decades of making bicycles soar, sending panicked swimmers to the shore and other spellbinding close encounters, John Williams is putting the final notes on what may be his last film score.
“At the moment I’m working on ‘Indiana Jones 5,’ which Harrison Ford — who’s quite a bit younger than I am — I think has announced will be his last film,” Williams says. “So, I thought: If Harrison can do it, then perhaps I can, also.”
Ford, for the record, hasn’t said that publicly. And Williams, who turned 90 in February, isn’t absolutely certain he’s ready to, either.
“I don’t want to be seen as categorically eliminating any activity,” Williams says with a chuckle, speaking by phone from his home in Los Angeles. “I can’t play tennis, but I like to be able to believe that maybe one day I will.”
Right now, though, there are other ways Williams wants to be spending his time. A “Star Wars” film demands six months of work, which he notes, “at this point in life is a long commitment to me.” Instead, Williams is devoting himself to composing concert music, including a piano concerto he’s writing for Emanuel Ax….
…But why, in reality, are bounty hunters so distinctly American? Like many things, once you dig beyond the fiction you run straight into the depressing inevitabilities of US history. There is a complex history behind bounty hunters in the US but looming large in that history are slave catchers. People employed to catch fugitive slaves were not a US invention but the size of the US slave economy (until the Civil War and emancipation) meant that “slave catcher” was both casual work and a profession for some. The powers of slave catchers was further enhanced prior to the Civil War with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fugitive_Slave_Act_of_1850) which codified the ability of slave catchers to act beyond the borders of slave states. Slavery is not the only defining element in the US bounty hunting history but it is such a substantial example in the formative years of the nation that it is hard to imagine that it isn’t key to the lasting influence of the idea in the US.
The attraction of the bounty hunter concept to quasi-libertarian SFF is apparent. The bounty hunter as a character can be simultaneously running a private business and be an arm of law enforcement. As a legitimised vigilante, the bounty hunter as a character can sit in a kind of Lagrange point between the pull of the heroic individualist and the pull of authoritarian imposition of order….
(4) SPACEHOUNDS OF THE WSFS, And when Camestros Felapton is finished with the topic above, he chronicles the work of another set of adventurers who are hard at work to disarm “The Hugo Kill Switch”.
The people at The Hugo Book Club Blog (Olav Rokne & Amanda Wakaruk) are on a high-stakes mission to defuse a time bomb. Deep within the WSFS constitution is a hidden switch that is creeping ever closer to hitting some beloved Hugo Award categories. Can a rag-tag team save the Fan categories before the timer reaches zero?!
(5) TO THE EGRESS, AND BEYOND. Arturo Serrano analyzes the special challenges inherent in the audience’s complicated history with the Toy Story franchise and the Buzz Lightyear character and tells why “Lightyear doesn’t fly, but it falls with style” at Nerds of a Feather.
…The quest for continued relevance is a preoccupation that the movie assigns to both Buzz and itself. It tries to evoke the feel of the Flash Gordon serials and, of course, both of the big Star franchises. But instead of the now-common practice of attempting to recapture an old moment of wonder via repetition and allusion, this movie gave itself the harder task of pretending to be that first experience. Although the villain’s big plan involves the return to an idealized past, Lightyear is not a case of nostalgia (because anything it could try to revisit is supposed to be provided by this story for the first time), but of pastiche. It may be unfair to cast Pixar as a victim of its own spectacular successes, but Lightyear is certainly not the best that the studio is capable of, and at times it’s a stretch to imagine small Andy being blown away by it….
(6) YES, THE END IS NEAR! The inaugural winner of the first Self-Published Science Fiction Competition will be announced in three weeks.
…However, Subotsky revealed that a second deal was negotiated following production of 1965’s Dr. Who and the Daleks which would indeed have allowed for a third film. “There was a further agreement that was entered into, to give the rights to make a third movie, which of course was never done,” he explained. “It was on the same terms as the original films, so my feeling is… the option lapsed.”
Though a third movie never materialised, Subotsky further revealed that his father did in fact produce a screenplay for the proposed sequel that remains in his family’s possession and was also displayed at the BFI event – this script, however, was not an adaptation of any existing Doctor Who television serial.
“Many years later, maybe 15 years later, it was clearly still on his mind, because he had prepared a script called ‘Doctor Who’s Greatest Adventure’ which actually was a repurposed script of a horror film entitled ‘King Crab’… the original title was even worse, it was ‘Night of the Crabs’!
“It was with two Doctors – a young Doctor and an old Doctor – which is an idea that has been returned to.”…
… Across its brief six-episode run, Obi-Wan stopped the spectacle to focus on people — and it mostly resonates as a contrast to how much I’ve missed them in other Star Wars stories.
At the heart of this are Obi-Wan’s two central performances. As Obi-Wan, Ewan McGregor plays a broken man in exile, a soldier who knows he lost the war but is still being asked to fight it, keeping constant vigil from afar over the young Luke Skywalker. As befits the character that shares the series’ name, every note of Obi-Wan’s journey rings true, largely thanks to McGregor’s performance….
Space is pretty deadly. But is it so deadly that we’re effectively imprisoned in our solar system forever? Many have said so, but a few have actually figured it out.
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1983 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-nine years ago, the follow-up film to the Twilight Zone series premiered this week. Produced by Steven Spielberg and John Landis, Twilight Zone: The Movie certainly carried high expectations. This film features four stories directed by Landis, Spielberg, Joe Dante, and George Miller.
Landis’ segment is the only original story created for the film, while the segments by Spielberg, Dante, and Miller are remakes or more precisely reworkings of episodes from the original series.
The screenplay is not surprisingly jointly done by a committee of John Landis, George Clayton, Johnson Richard Matheson and Melissa Mathison as is the story which is by Landis, Matheson, Johnson and Jerome Bixby.
The principal cast was surprisingly small given that there were four stories, just Dan Aykroyd, Albert Brooks, Scatman Crothers, John Lithgow, Vic Morrow and Kathleen Quinlan.
It did quite well at the box office, making over forty million against a budget of under ten million. Some critics like Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Tribune like some of it though he noted that, “the surprising thing is, the two superstar directors are thoroughly routed by two less-known directors” while others such as Vincent Canby at the New York Times hated all of it calling the movie a “flabby, mini-minded behemoth”.
It was enough of a financial success that the suits at CBS gave the approval to the Twilight Zone series.
Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a not great fifty-five percent rating.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 23, 1908 — Sloan Nibley. Writer who worked on a number of genre series including Science Fiction Theater, Addams Family, The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, Shazan, and the New Addams Family. (Died 1990.)
Born June 23, 1945 — Eileen Gunn, 77. Her story “Coming to Terms” based on her friendship with Avram Davidson won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story. Her stories are in Stable Strategies and Others, Steampunk Quartet and Questionable Practices. With L. Timmel Duchamp, she penned The WisCon Chronicles, Vol. 2: Provocative Essays on Feminism, Race, Revolution, and the Future. Her ”Stable Strategies for Middle Management” story picked up a nomination at Noreascon 3 (1989), and “Computer Friendly” garnered a nomination the next year in the same category at ConFiction (1990). She’s well stocked at the usual digital suspects.
Born June 23, 1957 — Frances McDormand, 65. She’s God. Well at least The Voice of God in Good Omens. Which is on Amazon Prime y’all. Her first genre role was in the “Need to Know” episode of Twilight Zone followed shortly thereafter by being Julie Hastings in Sam Raimi’s excellent Dark Man. She’s The Handler in Æon Flux and that’s pretty much everything worth noting.
Born June 23, 1963 – Liu Cixin, 59. He won the Best Novel Hugo at Saquan (2015) for his Three Body Problem novel, translated into English by Ken Liu. It was nominated for the Campbell Memorial, Nebula, Canopus and Prometheus Awards as well. He picked up a Hugo novel nomination at Worldcon 75 (2017) for Death’s End also translated by Liu.
Born June 23, 1972 — Selma Blair, 50. Liz Sherman in Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. She also voiced the character in the animated Hellboy: Sword of Storms and Hellboy: Blood and Iron as well which are quite excellent. She’s Stevie Wayne in The Fog, a slasher film a few years later and was Cyane on the “Lifeblood” episode of Xena: Warrior Princess. Later on, she’d be Jessica Harris in the “Infestation” episode of Lost in Space.
Born June 23, 1980 — Melissa Rauch, 42. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory which is at least genre adjacent if not genre. She gets to be really genre in voicing Harley Quinn in Batman and Harley Quinn which Bruce Timm considers “a spiritual successor to Batman: The Animated Series”. Having watched a few episodes on HBO when I was subscribed to that streaming service, I vehemently disagree.
Born June 23, 2000 — Caitlin Blackwood, 22. She was the young Amelia Pond in these Doctor Who episodes; “The Eleventh Hour”, “The Big Bang”, “Let’s Kill Hitler” and “The God Complex”. She had a cameo in “The Angels Take Manhattan”. She’s the cousin of Karen Gillan who plays the adult Pond. I can’t find anything online that talks about how she was cast in the role but it was brilliantly inspired casting!
…While the first volume had Orban explicitly say that he was not telling the whole truth in the end, here from the beginning we have a professional telling us right from the get go about the power of stories, lies, shading the truth and more in order to tell his story. The first novel was Parker geeking out about engineering and siegecraft and how a determined engineer could frustrate the greatest army the world has assembled. By contrast, this second novel does have concerns regarding the siege and defending it, because Parker does really like to go down his rabbit holes and show it off. (In some ways, I think of him very much like Herman Melville, just enjoying sharing what he has learned and shown off about all sorts of abstruse subjects, interwoven masterfully into the story)….
John Coxon is going to brunch, Alison Scott watched a film, and Liz Batty is critical. We discuss what we’d do if we were king of The Hugo Awards for the day, and then we talk about ABBA and other science fiction. And Monster Munch – you love to hear it.
Waititi shared, “When I did What We Do in the Shadows, when Jemaine [Clement, the film’s co-writer and star] and I were shooting that, we didn’t have much money to do that film, and The Hobbit had just wrapped. And, so, our production designer — man, I don’t know if I should tell this. OK, but I will. Our production designer, in the dead of night, took his crew to The Hobbitstudios and stole all of the dismantled, broken-down green screens and took all of the timber, and we built a house.”…
Marvel’s latest movie is bringing with it an Asgard Tours boat-load of weird and wonderful merchandise.
(18) REVISITING FILMATION. [Item by Bill.] The 1973-1974 Star Trek: The Animated Series was produced by Filmation. Recently, Gazelle Animations has done some clips from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager in the Filmation style:
The animator gives background. And note the Most Important Device in the Universe!
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Lightyear Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George, in a spoiler-packed episode, the producer learns that the premise of Lightyear–that it’s an action movie Andy saw in 1995 that made him want to buy a Buzz Lightyear toy–he gets excited because that means a producer in the Toy Story universe made money on the film. But even though it’s supposed to be “a 1990s movie,” fans of 1990s movies that featured “a lot of over the top action and cheese” will be cruelly disappointed. Toy Story fans who remember that the villain Zurg is Buzz Lightyear’s father will also be very disappointed.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, N., Bill, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]