I wasn’t able to find a single film set in 2023. I did find eight novels, one video game, and two Japanese anime series (and a third set in 2023 but missing my usual twenty-years-before deadline as it was made in 2004)….
…The one video game set in 2023 is Perfect Dark, originally released by Nintendo in 2000 but remastered since and still on the market, about special agent Emma Dark heading off an alien-led conspiracy to Take Over The World. The trailer is visually impressive if the script is a bit cringe (“the only person man enough to handle the job … is a woman!”)
As for why I felt the need to introduce a companion award, depictions of parenthood in popular culture are currently undergoing a paradigm shift with more positive portrayals of supportive and loving parents and fewer utterly terrible parents. Personally, I believe that this shift is a very good thing, because the reason that I started the Darth Vader Parenthood Award in the first place is because I was annoyed by all the terrible parents in pop culture. For while most real world parents may not be perfect, at least they do their best. Maybe, the conditions that gave rise to the Darth Vader Parenthood Award will eventually cease to exist and we can permanently retire the award….
This year marks one hundred years of Stan Lee! To some, he’s known as the King of Cameos. To others, Stan the Man or True Believer. No matter what you call him, Stan Lee is a beloved figure in the world of comic books and super heroes.
Over time, Stan Lee became a larger-than-life character all his own. Marvel is celebrating 100 years of Stan Lee with plenty of history, quotes, and collabs from one of the most famous faces in comics. In honor of his enduring legacy, let’s look at Stan Lee’s life, starting with his origin story up until his endless string of pop culture cameos….
(4) KSR AND CLI-FI. Oliver Brackenbury interviews Kim Stanley Robinson for the Unknown Worlds of the Merril Collection podcast: “Climate Fiction”.
(5) MEMORY LANE.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Our next set of essays is concerned with food and drink, and where better to start than in Ellen Kushner’s Riverside during the Winter and with their obsession with hot chocolate.
IN THE MORNING, THERE WAS CHOCOLATE.
Betty seemed recovered from the previous day’s excesses. She must not have been working the party. The tray barely rattled as she set it down by the bed, and a heavenly rich scent filled the room.
I got up at once to engage with the little pot of bitter chocolate, set out with an entire jug of hot cream, as much sugar as I should care to put into it and, oh, the loveliest china cup to mix it in! I wished my mother were there to share it with me. I poured slowly, watching the cream swirl in the cup. It made the confusions and indignities of last night seem a little more worth it; I felt even better when Betty said, “And your new clothes have come, too.”
The chocolate was marvelous, but I gulped it down, assuring myself, There will be more again tomorrow, and tomorrow, and again the day after that.
— The Privilege of The Sword
Now it’s not going to surprise you that the fans of Riverside have created a cuisine for it, all the result of a contest from The Fall of the Kings audiobook launch.
And Ellen being Ellen has kindly collected those recipes including of course those for hot chocolate on on her excellent site. As she puts it there, “you’ll find everything from recipes and menus created by fans of the series to delight the Mad Duke Tremontaine and his Riverside friends, to ones created by friends of the author to keep her at her desk.”
And yes, I’m deeply, madly in love with both Swordspoint and The Privilege of The Sword. I’ve read them many, many times and even the Suck Fairy gets a warm fussy feeling every time she reads them.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 1, 1854 — James George Frazer. Author of The Golden Bough, the pioneering if deeply flawed look at similarities among magical and religious beliefs globally. He’s genre adjacent at a minimum, and his ideas have certainly been used by SFF writers a lot both affirming and (mostly) critiquing his ideas. (Died 1941.)
Born January 1, 1889 — Seabury Quinn. Pulp writer now mostly remembered for his tales of Jules de Grandin, the occult detective, which were published in Weird Tales from the Thirties through the Fifties. Surprisingly, at least to me, there’s a lot his fiction at the usual suspects. (Died 1969.)
Born January 1, 1933 — Joe Orton. In his very brief writing career, there is but one SFF work, Head to Toe which the current publisher says “is a dream-vision allegory of a journey on the body of a great giant or ‘afreet’ (a figure from Arabic mythology) from head to toe and back, both on the body and in the body.” Orton was murdered by his lover. Unlike his other novels, Head to Toe is not available at the usual suspects. (Died 1967.)
Born January 1, 1926 — Zena Marshall. She’s Miss Taro in Dr. No, the very first Bond film. The Terrornauts in which she’s Sandy Lund would be her last film. (The Terrornauts is based off Murray Leinster‘s The Wailing Asteroid screenplay apparently by John Brunner.) She had one-offs in Danger Man, The Invisible Man and Ghost Squad. She played Giselle in Helter Skelter, a 1949 film where the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, played Charles the Second. (Died 2009.)
Born January 1, 1954 — Midori Snyder, 69. I was most impressed with The Flight of Michael McBride, the Old West meet Irish myth story and hannah’s garden, a creepy tale of the fey and folk music. She’s seems to have been inactive for a decade now. Anyone know why?
Born January 1, 1965 — Jennifer Hale, 58. She’s a voice actor primarily showing up on such series as Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Star Trek: Lower Decks and all over the Star Wars universe. She played Killer Frost in Batman: Assault on Arkham, the animated Suicide Squad film that was infinitely better than the live ones were.
Born January 1, 1971 — Navin Chowdhry, 52. He’s Indra Ganesh in a Ninth Doctor story, “Aliens of London“. I also found him playing Mr. Watson in Skellig, a film that sounds really interesting. He was also Prince Munodi in the BBC Gulliver’s Travels series, and oh, and I almost forgot to mention that he was Nodin Chavdri in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Born January 1, 1976 — Sean Wallace, 47. Anthologist, editor, and publisher known for his work on Prime Books and for co-editing three magazines, Clarkesworld Magazine which I love, The Dark, and Fantasy Magazine which is another fav of mine. He won an impressive three Hugo Awards and two World Fantasy Awards. His People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy with Rachel Swirsky is highly recommended.
….I wasn’t enamoured with John Norman’s debut novel Tarnsman of Gor and didn’t plan on reading the sequel. However, December 6 is St. Nicholas Day and since St. Nick was kindly enough to put a copy of Outlaw of Gor into my stocking, I of course felt obliged to read and review it….
(9) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Screen Junkies’ Honest Trailers brings us “Every Star Wars Movie (Compilation)” beginning with “Star Wars the first one (we are not calling it a New Hope)” that has grown into an industry “where every single person, place, or thing on screen has at least a 1000-word Wikipedia article about it.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day MrDalliard.]
In a recent interview that I was recording for my and Robert Lanza’s forthcoming novel, Observer, the interviewer asked, “What qualities do you think an aspiring writer must have?” This is something to which I have given a lot of thought because I am often asked it by attendees at Taos Toolbox. I think there are four necessary qualities: talent, persistence, flexibility, and luck….
(2) DAW ACQUIRES TWO JOHN WISWELL FANTASY NOVELS. Katie Hoffman, Senior Editor at DAW Books, has acquired World rights to two fantasy novels by Nebula Award-winning author John Wiswell, represented by Hannah Bowman at Liza Dawson Associates.
Wiswell’s debut novel, scheduled for Spring 2024, is Someone You Can Build A Nest In. Pitched as Gideon The Ninth meets Circe, this highly-anticipated fantasy is a creepy, charming monster-slaying sapphic romance—from the perspective of the monster, a shapeshifter named Shesheshen who falls in love with a human.
At the core of this dark fantasy is a heartwarming, cozy rom-com. While a chilling tale of generational harm and the struggle of surviving in a hostile world, Someone You Can Build A Nest In also stubbornly offers that possibility that, through surprising connections, we may still discover new definitions of love and relearn our own value. Acquiring editor Katie Hoffman says, “It feeds a growing delight I’ve seen in blending the gruesome and the whimsical, the bloody and the quaint.”
Shesheshen has made a mistake fatal to all monsters: she’s fallen in love. Shesheshen is a shapeshifter, who usually resides as an amorphous lump in the swamp of a ruined manor, unless impolite monster hunters invade intent on murdering her. Through a chance encounter, she meets a different kind of human, warm-hearted Homily, who mistakes Shesheshen as a human in turn. Shesheshen is loath to deceive, but just as she’s about to confess her true identity, Homily reveals she’s hunting a shapeshifting monster that supposedly cursed her family. Shesheshen didn’t curse anyone, but to give them both a chance at happiness, she must figure out why Homily’s twisted family thinks she did. And the bigger challenge remains: surviving her toxic in-laws long enough to learn to build a life with the love of her life.
Someone You Can Build A Nest In will be published by DAW Books in Spring 2024.
(4) MOORCOCK Q&A. Goodman Games’ interview with Michael Moorcock is now online on their YouTube channel:
A special episode of Sanctum Secorum Live with guest Michael Moorcock. In honor of the forthcoming release of the newest book in the Elric saga, The Citadel of Forgotten Myths.
(5) RHYMES WITH “PLAYED WELL”. John Hertz sends this tribute to the late Bob Madle.
Mighty, he was mild,
All our worlds open to him.
Doors that he had made
Let designers, dreamers through.
Each imagination gained.
An acrostic in unrhymed 5-7-5-7-7- syllable lines.
(6) ANGELA LANSBURY (1925-2022). Actress Angela Lansbury died October 11 at the age of 96. Best known to the TV-watching generation as Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote, she earlier gained fame with three Oscar nominated roles in Gaslight (1944), The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), and The Manchurian Candidate (1962).
On Broadway she won several Tony Awards, including one for her turn in Stephen Sondheim’s 1979 musical play Sweeney Todd.
She appeared in the Disney hit Bedknobs and Broomsticks in 1971, and later featured in other children’s films, providing the voice for Mrs Potts in the animated Beauty and the Beast; and more recently Mary Poppins Returns.
Spock:Consider. Chuft Captain has been attacked by an herbivorous pacifist, an eater of leaves and roots, one who traditionally does not fight. And the ultimate insult, I left him alive. Chuft Captain’s honor is at stake. He must seek personal revenge before he can call for help.
Sulu:That gives us some time. You did plan it that way?
Spock: Of course.
Star Trek: the Animated Series’ “The Slaver Weapon”
So we all know that Star Trek: the Animated Series followed the first series and debuted on September 8, 1973. It would end that run a mere twenty-two episodes later on October 12, 1974.
Did I like the series? I think that two aspects of it were done really, really well. The voice cast was stellar, with almost all of the original cast save Walter Koenig voicing their characters. It is said, but this is only rumor, originally Filmation was only going to pay for three actors, that being Shatner, Nimoy, and Doohan.
Nimoy however said that he wouldn’t take part unless the rest of the original cast was included. However the studio stuck to its guns as to how many it would budget for and Walter Koenig was dropped because of what he wanted. However Nimoy did get him some writing gigs for the show.
The other was the stories. Being animated gave them a wider artistic frame to work with than the original show had and they used that to their creative benefit. An example of this was Niven merging his Known Space story, “The Soft Weapon” into the Trek universe. It was wonderful and it was great to see the Kzin visualized.
(Everything here was novelized by Alan Dean Foster. He first adapted three episodes per book, but later editions saw the half-hour scripts expanded into full, novel-length stories.)
I think the animation was at best weak. It looked flat, one dimensional. The characters as if they really weren’t quite there. I’ve never been a fan of Filmation.
I just rewatched that episode on Paramount +. The print is stellar and the voices are great. The animation was, as I thought it was, less than great. Watching characters move is painful to say the least as they don’t walk so as much glide across the screen.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 12, 1875 — Aleister Crowley. Mystic. Charlatan possibly. Genre writer? You decide. But I’ve no doubt that he had a great influence upon the genre as I’m betting many of you can note works in which he figures. One of the earliest such cases is Land of Mist, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which was published in 1926. (Died 1947.)
Born October 12, 1903 — Josephine Hutchinson. She was Elsa von Frankenstein with Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff in Son of Frankenstein. She was in “I Sing the Body Electric”, The Twilight Zone episode written by Bradbury that he later turned into a short story. (Died 1998.)
Born October 12, 1904 — Lester Dent. Pulp-fiction author who was best known as the creator and main author of the series of novels chronicling Doc Savage. Of the one hundred and eighty-one Doc Savage novels published by Street and Smith, one hundred and seventy-nine were credited to Kenneth Robeson; and all but twenty were written by Dent. (Died 1959.)
Born October 12, 1916 — Lock Martin. His claim to fame was that he was one of the tallest humans that ever lived. At seven feet and seven inches (though this was disputed by some who shouldn’t have), he was also quite stocky. He had the distinction of playing Gort in The Day The Earth Stood Still. He was also in The Incredible Shrinking Man as a giant, but his scenes were deleted. And he shows up in Invaders from Mars as the Mutant carrying David to the Intelligence though he goes uncredited in the film. (Died 1959.)
Born October 12, 1924 — Randy Stuart. She’s best remembered as Louise Carey, the wife of Scott Carey, in The Incredible Shrinking Man. She was also Frances Hiller in “Anniversary of a Murder” on One Step Beyond which conceived as a companion series to TheTwilight Zone. (Died 1996.)
Born October 12, 1943 — Linda Shaye, 79 . She’s been an actress for over forty years and has appeared in over ninety films, mostly horror. Among them is A Nightmare on Elm Street, Critters, Insidious, Dead End, 2001 Maniacs and its sequel 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams, Jekyll and Hyde… Together Again, Amityville: A New Generation, Ouija, and its prequel Ouija: Origin of Evil. She even appeared in the first and only true version of The Running Man as a Propaganda Officer.
Born October 12, 1942 — Daliah Lavi. She’s in Casino Royale as The Detainer, a secret agent. In the same year, she was in Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon as Madelaine. She was Purificata in The Demon, an Italian horror film. If you’re into German popular music, you might recognize her as she was successful there in Seventies and Eighties. (Died 2017.)
Born October 12, 1965 — Dan Abnett, 57. His earlier work was actually on Doctor Who Magazine, but I’ll single out his co-writing Guardians of the Galaxy #1–6 with Andy Lanning, The Authority: Rule Britannia which is an exceptional piece of work by any standardsand his Border Princes novel he did in the Torchwood universe as great looks at him as a writer.
Born October 12, 1968 — Hugh Jackman, 54. Obviously Wolverine in the Marvel film franchise including the next Deadpool film. He’s also been the lead character in Van Helsing as well as voicing him in the animated prequel Van Helsing: The London Assignment. One of his most charming roles was voicing The Easter Bunny in The Rise of The Guardians which I really, really liked. And he played Robert Angier in The Prestige based off the novel written by the real Christopher Priest. Not the fake one.
An Post, the postal service in the Republic of Ireland, has launched a new digital stamp.
Customers will receive a 12-digit unique code via the company’s app which they can write onto their envelope where the traditional stamp would go.
An Post’s letter sorting technology will recognise the code as a live stamp when it is being processed for delivery.
The digital stamp costs €2 (£1.76) compared with €1.25 (£1.10) for a normal one.
Garrett Bridgeman, managing mirector for An Post Commerce, said: “Here we have a product that works for everyone; busy individuals who are time-poor and want to purchase stamps at a time and place that works for them; or last-minute senders, as well as SMEs and business owners who need to post at irregular hours and may not have stamps to hand.”
Warner Bros. Television Group (WBTVG) laid off 82 scripted, unscripted, and animation employees on Tuesday, and will not fill 43 more vacant positions. The 125 positions represented 26% of the companies workforce across those units.
However, the layoffs, which were generally expected, don’t tell the whole story of what’s going on at Warner Bros. Discovery’s animation units. In fact, there was an even more consequential announcement yesterday that fundamentally alters the structure of Cartoon Network Studios going forward and will have a far-reaching impact on the projects that it produces. The company calls it part of its “strategic realignment.”
(11) GAINING AN EDGE. Michael Harrington interviews Oliver Brackenbury, editor of New Edge Sword and Sorcery Magazine at Black Gate.
What are your thoughts on “inclusion” in the New Edge Movement?
[Brackenbury] This resurgence of New Edge Sword & Sorcery as a term to rally behind, back in the spring of this year, started from that all too familiar conversational space of “How do we get more people into this genre?” Well, if you want more people getting into this thing we love, then you need to include more people!
You can’t hope to expand an audience without reaching outside that audience, while doing your best to make the scene welcoming for everyone. For example, don’t scratch your head wondering why more women don’t read and write in the genre when you’re reluctant to call out sexism in the scene, or perhaps simply aren’t directly reaching out to women, merely hoping they’ll show up. You can replace “women” and “sexism” in this example with just about every intersection of identity that isn’t my fellow white, cishet, neurotypical, able-bodied fellas (or “white guys,” for brevity’s sake).
Nothing wrong with my fellow white guys, I don’t want them to go away, or have anything taken away from them. I just think inclusion is vital if S&S is to have a third wave of mass appeal, akin or even superior to what it enjoyed in the second wave of the 60’s through early 80’s. Call out hatred and harassment, give people a head’s up when they go back to read certain classics, and just, ya know, be cool, man.
A larger, more diverse scene benefits absolutely everyone. With a greater variety of people, we’ll get to enjoy a greater number & variety of stories, artistic works, and viewpoints!
(13) SPIRITED TRAILER. Nothing says more about the holidays than it’s time for Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds to bash each other on Apple TV!
Happy Birthday, Hugh. This year, I’m giving you the gift of being much worse than you at singing and dancing. But at least there’s Will and Octavia!
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Cora Buhlert, 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 Jayn.]
ITN’s Lynne Reid Banks spoke to various creatures at the 15th World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon. Held in London, that year’s meet was dubbed “Loncon”. It was the first Worldcon to bring the global sci-fi community together outside the US.
Rob Hansen identified the fans in the video:
0.00 Jean Bogert with gun at start. 0.05 Guy with glasses looks like Sandy Sandfield 0.06 Norman Shorrock over shoulder of guy in mask 0.12 Eric Jones interviewed 0.25 Ron Buckmaster interviewed 0.50 Frank & Belle Dietz interviewed in alien costumes. Round-faced teenager in the background is Mike Moorcock. 1.18 Guy with moustache, right rear is Ken McIntyre
Postscript: Rob Hansen: “David Pringle has pointed out that the most famous writer in that video clip is actually the interviewer, Lynne Reid Banks, and that she’s still with us.”
(2) EMERGENCY BACKUP SCROLL TITLE. I thought it was too long for the headline because long titles are one suspected reason why subscriber notifications don’t generate. However, I rather like Daniel Dern’s suggestion:
Seventy-Six Tron Clones Led The Masquerade, With 104 Lady Thors Close Behind, Followed By Rows And Rows Of Freshly-Polished 3CPO’s…
(3) CHICON 8 FINAL COVID REPORT. The Chicon 8 committee sent a wrapup email to attending members reporting a final total of 60 people who voluntarily reported they tested positive for Covid during or shortly after the Worldcon.
(4) CORA BUHLERT IN THE PAPER. “I did get at least one of the local newspapers to bite and report about my Hugo win,” says Cora. “The article isn’t online, but I included a photo of the article itself and the front page, which mentions me.” In German, of course.
You can also see it in the online electronic edition. She’s on page 5: Aktuelle Ausgabe.
Back at the dawn of the new millennium, an Oxford don argued, at book length, that fantasy was the most important literature of the 20th century and that the claim rested on the work of JRR Tolkien. Prof Tom Shippey was duly ridiculed by some for his heresy, with this paper describing it as “a belligerently waterwalkerargued piece of fan-magazine polemic”. Among those who Prof Shippey cited as influenced by “the master” was one Alan Garner, author of a series of beloved children’s fantasies.
How much more secure the professor’s claims look today. Garner, now 87, has just been shortlisted for the Booker prize for a novel called Treacle Walker, which, if more folky than fantastic, certainly displays its fantasy pedigree. Meanwhile, Tolkien delivered more than 25 million global viewers to Amazon Prime on the first day of its splashy new prequel to The Lord of the Rings.
…Fantasy suits the era of film and television because it is infinitely grandiose while sidestepping the need to grapple with the effect on plot of modern technology: Frodo can’t phone home. However, two decades have passed since Jackson’s films landed, so the enduring popularity of The Lord of the Rings isn’t simply tie-in fever.
From the off, Tolkien was caught in the crossfire between those who dismissed his work as escapism and others who saw in it a moral purpose forged on the killing fields of the Somme. It’s a pointless binary. “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory,” wrote the master himself. “If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”…
… Lovecraft and Tolkien both held the image of the traditional English rural gentry as a kind of ideal.
Yet Lovecraft was no hobbit. While Lovecraft had an antiquarian yearning for old buildings and a rose-tinted vision of British Colonial period, his fiction was mostly set in the current day and focused on themes of degeneration, hoary survivals from the past, ancient aliens, and cults rather than a celebration or exultation of the small joys in life. While Lovcraft regretted what he called the coming “Machine Culture,” he did not ignore or decry the advancement of technology and industrialization, or exalt a rural state that had fallen into decay. Dunwich is no Shire, for all the rural trappings; it is kind of an anti-Shire, a place where old ways and habits have turned inward and strange….
…Novalyne had been aware of Bob Howard through their mutual friends in Brownwood; she had dated Howard’s good friend Tevis Clyde Smith, and he had introduced the two in 1932. Like Robert E. Howard, she was interested in becoming a writer. Now that they were both in Cross Plains, the two renewed their acquaintance…and began what would be a tumultuous on-again, off-again romance. The two dated, argued, exchanged gifts, flirted, met each other’s families, went on long drives in the country, debated, criticized each other’s fiction, quarreled and made up and quarreled again…a story chronicled in her memoir One Who Walked Alone, later made into the motion picture The Whole Wide World….
(8) IT’S FINALLY LEAP YEAR AGAIN. The time has come – Quantum Leap premieres Monday, September 19 at 10/9c on NBC, streaming next day on Peacock. “Quantum Leap: Official Trailer”.
In your guest post on Scott Oden’s blog discussing New Edge as a mode or evolution of Sword & Sorcery fiction, you emphasize “inclusivity.” What does that mean in the context of the stories and writers you’re looking to publish?
OB: What inclusivity means to me is making sure that people outside my own demographic—white, cishet, neurotypical, able-bodied males, or just “white guys” as, for the sake of brevity, I’ll use going forward—can see themselves in both the stories and the authors creating them, ideally making them feel welcome within the community. This is key for expanding the audience of our beloved fantasy sub-genre, as well as its pool of authors.
I’ve gained firsthand experience with this in my six years volunteering with a group dedicated to promoting the western Hemisphere’s largest publicly accessible speculative fiction genre archive—The Merril Collection. Through no malice of anyone involved, in the time I’ve been with them, our group has been made up almost or entirely of white people. Our selling old paperbacks to help raise funds would often combine with 20th century publishing trends to create the scene of a couple of white people sitting behind event tables coated in covers featuring white characters written by white authors, trying to encourage the full breadth of humanity to spend a few dollars in support of the collection, while hearing our pitch for it.
All that sameness was a significant obstacle to achieving our goals, as more than one non-white individual made clear when—quite reasonably—saying “I only see white faces here.” or “I don’t see myself in what you are doing.”
Even coming back to myself, I don’t hate my fellow white guys any more than I hate IPAs, but I get frustrated when the vast majority of shelf space is filled with the same thing, whether it’s beer or writerly perspectives. All of this has informed the approach I’m taking with the stories and authors I’m looking to publish.
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1964 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Ok, I confess. I really, really loved the original Mary Poppins which came out fifty-eight years ago. No I didn’t see it until (I think) a decade or so later but I immediately loved it.
Mike Glyer notes that “She doesn’t only fly. At least in the 1964 movie she has a suitcase that must be related to the TARDIS, all the stuff she pulls out of it. And her boyfriend has the ‘luck’ superpower!”
It was directed by Robert Stevenson from the screenplay by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi as based off P. L. Travers’s Mary Poppins series. It was produced by Walt Disney and starred Julie Andrews in her first acting role. Principal other cast were Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson and Glynis Johns. The film was shot entirely at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, using painted London background scenes.
It won’t surprise you that the film received universal acclaim from film critics, and that Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke got lavish praise. Box office wise, it earned some forty-five million dollars on an estimated budget of four or so million dollars (Disney never released the budget officially, something they do quite often) and it’s had at least another hundred million in box office rentals since then. Not to mention DVD and such sales.
It was the only one of his films which earned Disney a Best Picture nomination during his lifetime.
In 2013, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.
A biographical drama on the making of the film, Saving Mr. Banks, was released nine years ago. It was well received with The Hollywood Reporter saying the film was an “affecting if somewhat soft-soaped comedy drama, elevated by excellent performances.”
But that’s not where this story ends. As Charles de Lint once said, “There are no happy endings… There are no endings, happy or otherwise. We all have our own stories which are just part of the one Story that binds both this world and Faerie. Sometimes we step into each others’ stories – perhaps just for a few minutes, perhaps for years – and then we step out of them again. But all the while, the Story just goes on.” And so it is with the Mary Poppins story.
Did I mention that P.L.Travers loathed this film with all her heart save Andrews as Poppins? Well she really did. Which complicated making a sequel. When Disney personally went to her a year later seeking rights to a sequel, she rejected it vehemently. Twenty years on did not at all mellow her, so she rejected them yet again save Andrews playing Poppins. And the use of the color red. Don’t ask.
With approval from Travers’ estate (see death helps clear rights as does offering presumably offering up the estate large sums of money), Disney greenlit the project with the film taking place twenty-five years after the first one was set and having a stand alone narrative that was based on the remaining seven books in the series.
That sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, was released four years ago. It was well received too. Dick Van Dyke, a cast member of the original film, appears in the film as Mr. Dawes Jr., a role originated by Arthur Malet in the previous film.
And Angela Lansbury is the Balloon Lady. The part was written as a cameo role for Julie Andrews who portrayed Mary Poppins in the original film, but she turned the role down as she felt her presence would unfairly take attention away from Emily Blunt who plays Mary Poppins here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 11, 1856 — Richard Ganthony. OK, this is going to a little bit explaining. Imagine that an author decided to riff off Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.With Martians. Seriously. A Message from Mars is a play primarily written by him, first performed at London’s Avenue Theatre in November 1899. The play is about Horace Parker, a Grinch-like man. Horace refuses go with Minnie, his fiancé, to a ball because he wants to stay home reading about new discoveries about the planet Mars. He falls asleep and dreams that he is visited by a Messenger from Mars. The Messenger trys to cure Horace of his selfishness. After a series of visions, the Messenger in the last Visio has him as a beggar in rags. Having realized the error of his ways, he awakens a changed man. It was filmed twice, both times as A Message from Mars (1913 and 1921, and I’m assuming as silent movies given their dates). It would be novelized by Lester Lurgan. (Died 1924)
Born September 11, 1929 — Björn Nyberg. A Swedish writer known largely for his Conan stories which given that he wrote just one non-Conan story makes sense. His first book in the series was The Return of Conan which was revised for publication by L. Sprague de Camp. Likewise, they later did Conan the Avenger, Conan the Victorious, Conan the Swordsman and Sagas of Conan. The latter two are available on iBooks and Kindle. (Died 2004.)
Born September 11, 1928 — Earl Holliman, 94. He’s in the cook in Forbidden Planet and he shares a scene with Robbie the Robot. A few short years later, he’s Conrad in Visit to a Small Planet though it’ll be nearly fifteen before his next genre role as Harry Donner in the Six Million Dollar Man’s Wine, Women and War TV film. He shows up as Frank Domino in the Night Man series, an adaptation of a Malibu Comics’ Ultraverse character. What the Frell is that publisher?!? Surprisingly he’s done no other genre series beyond being in the original Twilight Zone series premiere as Mick Ferris in the “Where Is Everybody?” episode.
Born September 11, 1930 — Jean-Claude Forest. Forest became famous when he created Barbarella, which was originally published in France in V Magazine in 1962. In 1967 it was adapted by Terry Southern and Roger Vadim and made into 1968 film of that name with Jane Fonda in the lead role, with him acting as design consultant. It was considered an adult comic by the standards of the time. An animated Barbarella series was booted around in the Sixties but never made. (Died 1998.)
Born September 11, 1941 — Kirby McCauley. Literary agent and editor, who as the former represented authors such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin and Roger Zelazny. And McCauley chaired the first World Fantasy Convention, an event he conceived with T. E. D. Klein and several others. As Editor, his works include Night Chills: Stories of Suspense,Frights, Frights 2, and Night Chills. (Died 2014.)
Born September 11, 1965 — Catriona (Cat) Sparks, 57. Winner of an astounding eighteen Ditmar Awards for writing, editing and artwork, her most recent in 2021 for her Dark Harvest story collection. She won two in the same year in 2014 when her short story “Scarp” was awarded a Ditmar for Best Short Story and The Bride Price a Ditmar for Best Collected Work. She has just one novel to date, Lotus Blue, but has an amazing amount of short stories which are quite stellar. Lotus Blue and The Bride Price are both available on the usual suspects.
Born September 11, 1970 — Colson Whitehead, 52. Winner of the Arthur Clarke C. Award for The Underground Railroad. Genre wise, he’s not a prolific writer, he’s written but two other such works, The Intuitionists and Zone One. He’s written but one piece of short genre fiction, “The Wooden Mallet”. However he’s written seven other works including John Henry Dayswhich is a really interesting look at that legend, mostly set at a contemporary festival about that legend.
The late 1960s and early ‘70s were peak sword-and-sorcery. The Lancer Conan Saga was at its zenith of popularity, eventually selling by some estimates upwards of 10 million copies. Fritz Leiber and Michael Moorcock were seeing broad mass market paperback publication, Leiber with Swords and Deviltry and Swords Against Death (Ace, 1970) and Moorcock with the likes of the first Corum trilogy (Berkley Medallion, 1971). And as the ‘60s gave way to the ‘70s a struggling magazine was about to get a signal boost from S&S’s mightiest hero.
As Ted White found out during his tenure as editor of the digest-sized Fantastic Science Fiction & Fantasy Stories/Fantastic Science-Fiction/Fantastic Stories of Imagination, best known as Fantastic, the public appetite for Conan ran deep, and was not slaked by the Lancers.…
Circulation remained flat, but White finally got the boost he was looking for when he began publishing stories of S&S’ mightiest hero: Conan, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, was about to tread the digest size pages of Fantastic under his sandalled feet, in the form of four new stories by Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp….
When the University of Michigan Library announced last month that one of its most prized possessions, a manuscript said to have been written by Galileo around 1610, was in fact a 20th-century fake, it brought renewed attention to the checkered, colorful career of the man named as the likely culprit: Tobia Nicotra, a notorious forger from Milan.
Nicotra hoodwinked the U.S. Library of Congress into buying a fake Mozart manuscript in 1928. He wrote an early biography of the conductor Arturo Toscanini that became better known for its fictions than its facts. He traveled under the name of another famous conductor who had recently died. And in 1934 he was convicted of forgery in Milan after the police were tipped off by Toscanini’s son Walter, who had bought a fake Mozart from him.
His explanation of what had motivated his many forgeries, which were said to number in the hundreds, was somewhat unusual, at least according to an account of his trial that appeared in The American Weekly, a Hearst publication, in early 1935.
“I did it,” the article quoted him as saying, “to support my seven loves.”
When the police raided Nicotra’s apartment in Milan, several news outlets reported, they found a virtual forgery factory, strewn with counterfeit documents that appeared to bear the signatures of Columbus, Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci, George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, Martin Luther, Warren G. Harding and other famous figures.
Investigators had also found a sort of shrine to his seven mistresses, at least according to The American Weekly. …
(15) POSTSCRIPT FOR PAT CADIGAN’S 9/10 BIRTHDAY. [Item by John Hertz.] When she was Toastmaster at MidAmericon II, I contributed this (acrostic, in 5-7-5-syllable lines) to the newsletter.
Passing all measure, Ardent, courageous, comic, Taking each moment
Unfortunately, fans of the fictional-turned-reality candy empire had been watching supplies dwindle over the decades, and the vast majority of Wonka candies have been discontinued as of 2022. In fact, the Wonka brand itself was eventually retired after being acquired by Nestlé in 1988, according to The Christian Science Monitor. The Wonka brand was sold off in 2018, and the remaining candies found a new home with Ferrero (via The Motley Fool).
Surprising, Wonka Candy isn’t entirely extinct.
… While many Wonka candies have completely vanished from store shelves, others can still be found if you know where and what to look for. Back in the days of the Willy Wonka Candy Company, Kazoozles offered a different flavor profile than the iconic chocolate bars. The Twizzler-like sweets had a tart fruity taste starting with the original cherry punch flavor, according to Snack History. In 2015 when the Wonka brand was acquired by Nestlé, Kazoozles was rebranded and re-released under the now-familiar SweeTARTS Ropes candy….
The fossilized skin of young mammal-like reptiles hints that drought led to their demise some 250 million years ago, at the start of the Triassic period1.
A few millennia before their deaths, climate change thought to be caused by volcanic eruptions led to the Permian extinction, the largest mass-extinction event in Earth’s history. Among the small number of animals to survive the cataclysm were reptiles in the genus Lystrosaurus.
While looking for clues to what the climate was like after the mass extinction, Roger Smith at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and his colleagues uncovered the remains of 170 four-limbed animals in South Africa’s Karoo Basin. Among the tangled remains, the researchers found young Lystrosaurus of two species that had died in clusters around what was once a dry riverbed.
Several of the younglings were in a spreadeagled position seen in some animals when they collapse from heat exhaustion. Two of the fossils also had what appeared to be mummified skin, which probably formed through rapid drying after death.
Together, this evidence points to a mass die-off of young Lystrosaurus owing to heat and water shortages, suggesting that the climate after the Permian extinction underwent periods of drought.
(18) DAN DARE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The BCC posted this clip in which Patrick Stenson interviews Dan Dare creator Frank Hampson in this clip from 1975.
(19) HE ISN’T SPOCK. (OKAY, HE LIED). [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Leonard Nimoy chats with the BBC’s Terry Wogan in January 1989 about his autobiography I Am Not Spock, how he became a director, and how in classic Star Trek he was so “emotional” “it was like doing Mutiny On The Bounty” in this clip which dropped yesterday.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Ersatz Culture, Cora Buhlert, Steven French, John Hertz, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day John A Arkansawyer.]
George R.R. Martin caught COVID during his trip last week to Comic-Con, the “Game of Thrones” author said Wednesday night in a YouTube video, and is quarantining in a Los Angeles hotel with mild sniffles.
“I’ve had worse colds, so I hope it will stay that way,” Martin said, with a barely detectable rasp in his voice. “After this quarantine period I will be able to get on with various things.”
Martin noted that he’d be missing a “House of Dragons” premiere event that night in North Hollywood, where HBO content chief Casey Bloys later told the crowd that Martin was absent because of a positive COVID test that morning.
“I wouldn’t worry too much about me, I seem to be fine,” said Martin, who seemed genuinely disappointed to be missing the various Los Angeles events he was in town for. “I will say, if you’re going to have to go and quarantine, a four-star hotel is a pretty good place to do it.”
(2) DREAMHAVEN. Artist Mark Bode posted a photo of the finished DreamHaven Bookstore wall mural on Facebook.
David Dyer-Bennet also has a gallery of photos he took of the wall on his Facebook page.
…The Star Frontiers: New Genesis playtest has been leaked by NoHateInGaming. They shared pictures from the game’s rules that detail a “Negro sub-race”, describing them as a “Tall thick bodied dark skinned brown-eyed race with large strength average intelligence ALL Attributes are in the 10+ range except intelligence which is maximum a +9”. That poor writing is all Star Frontiers: New Genesis, by the way.
This is a deeply racist characterisation of Black people, rooted in colonial eugenics. There are further causes for concern in the leaked images. The Nordic race – not marked as a “sub-race” – has “exceptional attributes and powers ALL attributes are in the 13+ range.”…
(4) SPSFC 2022 CALL FOR ENTRIES. The second annual Self-Published Science Fiction Competition is canvassing the world for entries. The posted deadline to submit books is July 31. Here are some of the requirements.
i) No book that was entered in a previous SPSFC can be reentered . ii) The book must be #1 in a series or a stand-alone. iii) The book must actually be self-published(*) by the start date, not something you’re considering self-publishing in future. iv) It must be a sci-fi book. Underscored must. No pretending.
A 632-page hardcover, “just a little smaller than the original published Sunday page size.” (11.8 x 17.3 in., 14.20 lb.) Includes “a 100-page illustrated introduction by Alexander Braun in a special carrying-case/box.” (See a 16-page slideshow of the art at the Taschen Books site.)
At this price — reasonable enough given the book size and contents — I’m going to pass at least for now (and I’m prepared to have missed my chance) (I’ve got enough Krazy Kat on hand, albeit in the less-than-humongous size), but other Filers may feel differently. (Is your credit card twitching at you, Chris B?)
Related trivia: Herriman is also known for — that’s how I learned about him, in fact — his illustrations for Don Marquis’ “archie and mehitabel” books (which in turn I learned about by listening to the late, great Jean Shepherd read from them in his 45-minute late-night shows, along with listening to his readings of Robert Service, and, of course, Shep’s own inimitable stories and meanderings.
As an internationally renowned expert on burritos, I have been asked by the folks at Tor to essay perhaps the most important question of this or any other time in our shared cultural history:
What Burrito Would You Feed a Dragon?
And the answer is: Well, obviously, it would depend. Dragons come in all shapes and sizes and personal proclivities. It’s time to acknowledge that, just like people, they will have their own idiosyncratic tastes and preferences. Let me take five examples of dragons from history and literature and song, and suggest some possible burrito pairings….
I’m continuing my Non-Fiction Spotlight project, where I interview the authors/editors of SFF-related non-fiction books that come out in 2022 and are eligible for the 2023 Hugo Awards. For more about the Non-Fiction Spotlight project, go here. To check out the spotlights I already posted, go here.
Tell us about your book.
Management Lessons from Game of Thrones takes a look at management theory through a Westerosi lens. I use characters, organisations, and events from the television series (primarily, though there’s some references to A Song of Ice and Fire in there as well) to explain the background and concepts of organisation theory, human resource management, strategy, and mergers and acquisitions (or, in the Westerosi context, weddings and warfare). I also look at how and why Game of Thrones is such a useful tool for management education, and suggest ways in which the reader can develop their own understanding of organisations through the use of SFF stories.
(8) BERNARD CRIBBINS (1928-2022). Bernard Cribbins, known best to fans for his work in Doctor Who playing Wilf, grandfather to Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble, died July 27. He was 93. That was just one of many iconic roles across a career that spanned seven decades. He appeared in The Railway Children, three films in the Carry On series, and the James Bond spoof Casino Royale. He performed a hit ’60s song “Right Said Fred”, and narrated The Wombles. His first brush with Doctor Who was in 1964, playing police constable Tom Campbell in the film Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 AD. He was appointed an Office in the Order of the British Empire for his services to drama in 2011. He wrote an autobiography, Bernard Who? 75 Years Of Doing Just About Anything, which was published in 2018.
His resume also includes this episode of Fawlty Towers with John Cleese.
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1969 – [By Cat Eldridge.] I’m very selective about what I think is great fiction by Niven and the Gil ”The Arm” Hamilton stories are I think among his best work. Mind you I was surprised how few actual stories there were in this series there was when I started writing up this essay!
As you most likely know, and I’m not doing a spoiler warning this time as I’m assuming most
of you have read these, Gil ”The Arm” Hamilton developed telekinesis after losing his arm in an outer space accident after asteroid takes his arm off. While waiting for a transplant, he is in bar:
“Like an idiot I’d tried to catch it with my right hand.
And I’d caught it.
I’d never suspected myself of having psychic powers. You have to be in the right frame of mind to use a psi power. But who had ever had a better opportunity than I did that night, with a whole section of brain tuned to the nerves and muscles of my right arm, and no right arm?”
Gil is a Gold Skin, a UN cop. He gets the weird cases. The really weird ones. In the six stories here, we get locked room mysteries where a man dies by wired ecstasy, why the frozen almost dead are being killed off and turned into organs for the living, why organleggers are killing off their product, the mystery of who tried to kill the patchwork girl and in the longest story, we deal with the mystery of yet another locked room murder that takes place outside on a lunar crater.
Gil is an interesting character who makes perfect sense as the police officer. I so wish that Niven had written a novel with him as the central character. That would also expand the universe that Niven created here which feels just a bit sketchy.
The first story, “Death by Ecstasy” was published in 1969 in Galaxy with the last, “The Woman in Del Rey Crater” in Flatlander in 1995. Five of the stories can be found in Flatlander. The Long ARM of Gil Hamilton in 1991 included only “Arm”, “Death by Ecstasy,” and ”The Defenfeless Dead”.
In order, the stories are “Death by Ecstasy”, “The Defenseless Dead”, “ARM,” “The Patchwork Girl”, “Flatlander” and “The Woman in Del Rey Crater”.
The “ARM” story was nominated for the Best Novella Hugo at MidAmeriCon (1976).
It’s available from the usual suspects for very reasonable prices, and in trad paper edition in English and German editions.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 28, 1866 — Beatrix Potter. Probably best known for Tales of Peter Rabbit but I’d submit her gardening skills were second to none as well as can be seen in the Green Man review of Marta McDowell’s Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life. Those skills are reflected in her fiction. (Died 1943.)
Born July 28, 1928 — Angélica Gorodischer. Argentinian writer whose Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was got translated by Ursula Le Guin into English. Likewise Prodigies has been translated by Sue Burke for Small Beer Press. She won a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. You can read Lightspeed Magazine’s interview with her here. (Died 2022.)
Born July 28, 1931 — Jay Kay Klein. I’ll direct you to Mike’s excellent look at him here as I can’t add anything to what he says. I will note that Klein was a published author having just three stories, “Century of Progress”, “ Mass Communication “ and “On Conquered Earth”, the first two in Analog, the latter in If. I don’t think any have been republished. (Died 2012.)
Born July 28, 1941 — Bill Crider. Primarily a writer of mystery fiction, his extensive bibliography includes three stories in the Sherlock Holmes metaverse: “The Adventure of the Venomous Lizard”, “The Adventure of the St. Marylebone Ghoul” and “The Case of the Vanished Vampire”. He also wrote a Sookie Stackhouse short story, “Don’t Be Cruel” in the Charlaine Harris Metaverse. His “Doesn’t Matter Any Matter More” short story won a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History and his “Mike Gonzo and the UFO Terror” won a Golden Duck Award. (Died 2018.)
Born July 28, 1955 — Dey Young, 67. One of those performers who appeared in multiple Trek series. She was in Next Gen’s “The Masterpiece Society” as Hannah Bates, in Deep Space Nine’s “A Simple Investigation” as Arissa and in Enterprise’s “Two Days and Two Nights” as Keyla. She’s got minor roles in Running Man, Strange Invaders and Spaceballs as well.
Born July 28, 1966 — Larry Dixon, 56. Husband of Mercedes Lackey who collaborates with her on such series as SERRAted Edge and The Mage Wars Trilogy. He contributed artwork to Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons source books, including Oriental Adventures, Epic Level Handbook, and Fiend Folio.
Born July 28, 1968 — Rachel Blakely, 54. You’ll most likely know her as Marguerite Krux on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World as that was her longest running genre role. She was briefly Alcmene on Young Hercules, and played Gael’s Mum on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And showed as Penelope in the “Ulysses” episode of Xena: Warrior Princess.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Shoe has a plan for surviving the zombie apocalypse.
Author Jim Butcher made the right choice in performing his latest work himself. It’s a masterpiece. He said that his usual narrator, James Marsters, has nothing to fear, but Butcher’s first attempt at narration is an unqualified success. He has a great speaking voice and truly relates to his characters. The emotion he puts into the work comes across in the wide variety of characters, who include an elderly magician/lawyer, a stupidly stubborn antagonist, and various creatures that inhabit the world of wizard/private investigator Harry Dresden. The brief work is a delight from start to finish, and Butcher’s youthful satisfaction comes across on every page. This may be Butcher’s first attempt at performing his own work, but let’s hope it won’t be his last.
Last Wednesday, in Gilroy, 91-year-old legendary “Star Trek” actor William Shatner lost his wallet while shopping at the Fruit Barn, a decades-old side-of-the-road market located at 2918 Pacheco Pass Highway, according to ABC7.
Shatner reportedly bought four baskets of cherries and $2 of corn.
“I thought about putting a sign up, ‘William Shatner was here,'” Gary Tognetti, owner of B&T Farms, told ABC7 in jest.
Tognetti then enlisted the help of his friend Officer Mark Tarasco, of the Gilroy Police Department, to contact Shatner to return his wallet….
(14) LOVECRAFT’S LEGACY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The latest episode of the Unknown Worlds of the Merril Collection podcast focuses on H.P. Lovecraft and his legacy and features an interview with Lovecraft specialist Scott Dorward: “Beyond Lovecraft”.
Among other things, we discuss the work of Robin Hobb, the dilution of the term “sword & sorcery” and other branding issues, living in a character’s head, struggling to connect with Tower of the Elephant, reading trope-setting classics as a contemporary reader, connecting more with emotion-driven sword & sorcery, backfiring magic, quick-moving plots and pacing, how Sof felt S&S has a unified feel and how it differs from the broad trends of contemporary fantasy…
(16) MY BEAUTIFUL BALLOON. Space Perspective is offering balloon flights to “the edge of space”.
Spaceship Neptune is the first carbon-neutral way to space. Lifted by our SpaceBalloon™—a technology used for decades by the likes of NASA—we take Explorers on a leisurely flight, spending hours at the edge of space.
The balloon flight is to an altitude of 100,000 ft., or 30 kilometres. The accepted international definition of the edge of space is the von Kármán line at 100 kilometres. But not to quibble; 30 km is way up, and the relaxed 6 hour flight will give plenty of time to enjoy the view.
Scientists who discovered an ancient ocean-dwelling invertebrate with ten arms have named it in tribute to a man with only two: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Distant cousins of starfish, marine animals called feather stars have a central disc with featherlike arms that can regrow when they get torn off by predators. Mariusz Salamon at the University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland, and his colleagues discovered an exquisitely preserved fossilized feather star in what is now Ethiopia.
Near the base of its central disc, which measures about 8 millimetres in diameter, it has a series of claw-like appendages for attaching itself to surfaces. Some of its arms show evidence of regeneration — probably a response to damage by predators, the researchers say.
The newfound species, Ausichicrinites zelenskyyi, lived roughly 150 million years ago and is named after two people: palaeontologist William Ausich, for his work on fossil feather stars and related animals, and Zelenskyy for “his courage and bravery in defending free Ukraine”, the authors write.
…Now believed dead by most of the general public, this hollow shell of a man gets a chance to relive the glory days when his young neighbor, Sam Cleary (Javon “Wanna” Walton), works out his true identity and attempts to coax the bitter man out of retirement. The hero once known as Samaritan doesn’t have much a choice in the matter when unsavory parties (like Pilou Asbæk’s central villain) start to wreak havoc throughout the city he once swore to protect….
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Daniel Dern, John A Arkansawyer, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Tom Becker, Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Christian Brunschen.]
…Webb’s first observations were selected by a group of representatives from NASA, ESA, CSA, and the Space Telescope Science Institute. They reveal the capabilities of all four of Webb’s state-of-the-art scientific instruments:
SMACS 0723: Webb has delivered the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe so far – and in only 12.5 hours. For a person standing on Earth looking up, the field of view for this new image, a color composite of multiple exposures each about two hours long, is approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length. This deep field uses a lensing galaxy cluster to find some of the most distant galaxies ever detected. This image only scratches the surface of Webb’s capabilities in studying deep fields and tracing galaxies back to the beginning of cosmic time.
WASP-96b (spectrum): Webb’s detailed observation of this hot, puffy planet outside our solar system reveals the clear signature of water, along with evidence of haze and clouds that previous studies of this planet did not detect. With Webb’s first detection of water in the atmosphere of an exoplanet, it will now set out to study hundreds of other systems to understand what other planetary atmospheres are made of.
Southern Ring Nebula: This planetary nebula, an expanding cloud of gas that surrounds a dying star, is approximately 2,000 light years away. Here, Webb’s powerful infrared eyes bring a second dying star into full view for the first time. From birth to death as a planetary nebula, Webb can explore the expelling shells of dust and gas of aging stars that may one day become a new star or planet.
Stephan’s Quintet: Webb’s view of this compact group of galaxies, located in the constellation Pegasus, pierced through the shroud of dust surrounding the center of one galaxy, to reveal the velocity and composition of the gas near its supermassive black hole. Now, scientists can get a rare look, in unprecedented detail, at how interacting galaxies are triggering star formation in each other and how the gas in these galaxies is being disturbed.
Carina Nebula: Webb’s look at the ‘Cosmic Cliffs’ in the Carina Nebula unveils the earliest, rapid phases of star formation that were previously hidden. Looking at this star-forming region in the southern constellation Carina, as well as others like it, Webb can see newly forming stars and study the gas and dust that made them.
Stephan’s Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies, is best known for being prominently featured in the holiday classic film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Today, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope reveals Stephan’s Quintet in a new light. This enormous mosaic is Webb’s largest image to date, covering about one-fifth of the Moon’s diameter. It contains over 150 million pixels and is constructed from almost 1,000 separate image files. The information from Webb provides new insights into how galactic interactions may have driven galaxy evolution in the early universe.
…The image, released today, was taken by the world’s newest space observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope. It is the first real snapshot from the mission, which launched more than six months ago and currently orbits about 1 million miles from Earth.
The picture is sparkly and beautiful, a great choice for a computer background. It is also, more important, an entirely new view of the universe. The light from the galaxies in the foreground left 4.6 billion years ago, and the light from the galaxies beyond those, even longer. All this light has been captured in unprecedented detail by the most powerful space telescope in history, making this one of the deepest, most high-resolution pictures of the universe that humankind has ever taken.
Astronomers call this kind of view a “deep field”: a picture of one spot in space, made with long exposure times so that the instrument can really bask in any incoming light. Remember Hubble, and that glorious deep-field image from the 1990s, sparkling with thousands of galaxies? The Webb telescope was designed to spot celestial objects that are about 100 times fainter than the ones Hubble can detect….
…Still, it was in some ways, the smallest object the telescope imaged—the exoplanet WASP-96b—that will likely cause the greatest excitement. Until now, exoplanets, or planets circling other stars, were detectable in only one of two ways: The transit method, in which astronomers discern the small dimming of light in a parent star as an orbiting planet passes in front of it; and the radial velocity method—in which they look for the small wobble in the position of the star as the gravity of the orbiting planet tugs on it.
What astronomers could never do until now was see the planet itself, since spotting so small a body in the blinding glare of its parent star would be like standing a block away and trying to see a moth fluttering next to a streetlight. The image of the smaller body would simply get washed out. And indeed, for now, Webb did not even get an image of WASP-96b itself; but what it got instead is something more important. Now that astronomers can even faintly image exoplanets, they can also look for signs of life on them, as the light from their parent star streams through their atmosphere, revealing the make-up of the gasses and the possibility of the chemical fingerprints of biology.
Webb got just such a chemical spectrum of WASP-96b, revealing that the atmosphere is rich in water, the key ingredient for life as we know it.
(4) CHICON’S ART-THEMED NEWS. Chicon 8 chair Helen Montgomery messaged members today about art exhibits and events at the 2022 Worldcon.
…Additionally, we will have two very special art exhibits courtesy of some of our other Guests of Honor, Joe Siclari and Edie Stern, and Erle Korshak. The Korshak Collection will be exhibited in the San Francisco room of the Hyatt Regency Chicago, right across the hall from the main Art Show. The Siclari/Stern Collection will be displayed within the Art Show in the Regency Ballroom. You will not want to miss these exhibits!
We will of course have our Art Show, Print Shop, and Art Auction. Artists will also be doing demos, and some will be in the Dealers Room / Creatives Corner of the Exhibit Hall. We are working on scheduling docent tours of the Art Show, and we are going to have a “Meet The Artist” event in the Art Show on Friday evening, where you will have the opportunity to talk to the artists about their work.
Chicon 8 will also be hosting The Chesley Awards on Friday evening of the convention in the Crystal Ballroom. The Chesley Awards are administered and presented by ASFA: The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists. https://asfa-art.com/the-chesley-awards/
(5) IN LIVING COLOR. The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit “Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color”, about rediscovering the paint jobs that originally adorned ancient sculpture, continues through March 26, 2023.
“Ancient Greek and Roman sculpture was once colorful, vibrantly painted and richly adorned with detailed ornamentation. Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color reveals the colorful backstory of polychromy—meaning “many colors,” in Greek—and presents new discoveries of surviving ancient color on artworks in The Met’s world-class collection. Exploring the practices and materials used in ancient polychromy, the exhibition highlights cutting-edge scientific methods used to identify ancient color and examines how color helped convey meaning in antiquity, and how ancient polychromy has been viewed and understood in later periods.
The exhibition features a series of reconstructions of ancient sculptures in color by Prof. Dr. V. Brinkmann, Head of the Department of Antiquity at the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, and Dr. U. Koch-Brinkmann.”
…Of course, there are many factors involved in community spread [of COVID], including vaccination (which doesn’t guarantee against infection, but drastically reduces one’s chance of hospitalization and death), mask usage (which is most effective when both parties are masked, especially the one who is infectious), mask type and fit, and environmental factors such as ventilation and airflow. Regarding the first two, Anime Expo briefly changed their COVID safety guidelines in early June, but eventually reverted their decision, requiring that all attendees either show proof of full COVID vaccination or a negative test taken within 72 hours, and asking that everyone wear a mask in all indoor spaces….
Another community spread factor, though, is ventilation. Transmission is reduced in outdoor settings where airflow tends to be high, but in indoor spaces, ventilation can vary drastically depending on different components. One attendee, who goes by the Twitter handle @nickelpin, was curious what the ventilation was like in various areas of the convention center, so she brought along a portable carbon dioxide monitor. The usage of CO2 monitors has been increasing in popularity—scientists and other data enthusiasts have been taking readings of places like airplanes and event spaces; parents have been sending their kids back to school with CO2 monitors to check the ventilation of classrooms….
…Outside of Day 1 heat-related effects, some artists reported feeling ill throughout the weekend with various non-COVID symptoms that subsided after they left the convention center each day. Since the end of the convention, a spreadsheet being shared amongst Artist Alley participants has shown increasing numbers of artists self-reporting headaches, drowsiness, and trouble concentrating, which could potentially be related to the high levels of CO2 in Kentia Hall.
One veteran artist who wanted to remain anonymous told us she had two panic attacks and a spell of nausea and vertigo, and had to rely on helpers so that she could take breaks outside the convention center. “It was worst on Saturday and Sunday, just kinda feeling like you’re breathing but not actually getting air.” She said her booth was located near a wall with three feet of space behind her, which made it more unusual to her that she felt she couldn’t breathe. She confirmed that she had not felt this way at other conventions or previous Anime Expos….
(7) HOW ABOUT THOSE HUGO-NOMINATED NOVELETTES? Cora Buhlert joined the Hugos There podcast again as part of a panel discussing the finalists for the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. Tthe audio only link is here.
In this half we discuss the 80’s sword & sorcery publishing implosion, the importance of adapting to changing tastes and not just telling the same limited range of stories ad infinitum, how expanding something – like a genre’s possibilities – means more and doesn’t take away what’s already there that people like, the fallacy of thinking you can write a story with no theme or message or opinions or “politics” in it, David’s latest novel (Sometime Lofty Towers), avoiding the white savior pitfall and otherwise best practices when writing fictional indigenous peoples, the history of The Other in western civilization, cultural appropriation, writing outside “the usual sword & sorcery template”…
…But myths aren’t of course all grim sacrifice and heroic tragedy, and many of the strongest pieces in Nyumbani Tales are humorous accounts of tricksters, frauds, and con men. Fan favorite Pomphis the Bambuti, Imaro’s diminutive companion, appears in two of the most fun tales in the collection: “The Blacksmith and the Bambuti” and “Pomphis and the Poor Man,” exhibiting both the cleverness and the kindness that is a hallmark of his character. In “Two Rogues” a pair of grifters engage one another in cross and double-cross, complete with sorcery, a poison-gas-assisted heist, and a shape-shifted hippo. And it would be difficult to find a better – and funnier – story reinforcing that old adage of ‘be careful what you wish for’ than “Okosene Alakun and the Magic Guinea Fowl.”…
Now long after I had inaugurated Weird Tales, I had a call by Houdini at my Chicago office; he expressed more than usual enthusiasm for the magazine, and the meeting resulted in a friendship lasting until his untimely death a few years later. He often regaled me with experiences of his that rivaled anything I had ever read in books. Several of these I published, but they were written in such a prosaic style that they evoked little comment.
J.C. Henneberger to Robert A. W. Lowndes, Magazine of Horror (May 1969) 117
(11) SHORT MARATHON. Cora Buhlert reports, “I’m also doing the July short story challenge again this year, where I write a story every day during the month of July, and I keep a running tally here –” “The 2022 July Short Story Challenge – Day by Day”.
…What is the July Short Story Challenge, you ask? Well, in July 2015, Dean Wesley Smith announced that he was planning to write a brand new short story every day during the month of July. The original post seems to be gone now, but the Wayback Machine has a copy here. At the time, several people announced that they would play along, so I decided to give it a try as well. And then I did it again the following year. And the next. And the next. If you want to read my post-mortems of the previous July short story challenges, here are the posts for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Because I’ve already done the July short story challenge seven years in a row now and always found the experience very rewarding, I’m aiming for a repeat this year. This July is a very busy month for me, never mind that I caught a persistent and annoying cold (not covid, I did a test). Therefore I initially only committed to doing this for a single week, which is already finished, and now I’m going for the second week. Then, if things are going well, I’ll keep going….
(12) MEMORY LANE.
1924 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Once upon a time, well back in 1924, the noted Anglo-Irish writer Lord Dunsany saw his novel The King of Elfland’s Daughter published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons. It is considered to be one of the most influential and acclaimed works in all of fantasy literature, and a paperback edition was released in 1969 as part of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series.
Now many of you will recognize Steeleye Span, the famed British folk rock band founded in 1969 by Fairport Convention bass player Ashley Hutchings along with Tim Hart and Maddy Prior. (Maddy is the only musician still with it today.) Steeleye had more musicians coming through it than your typical publisher has associate publicists. One of those of was violinist Peter Knight who was with it for much its existence and left a decade back.
(Yes, it was where Richard Thompson first got his start.)
Like so many musicians, side-projects were a way of life and Knight was no exception. So, The King of Elfland’s Daughter narration was born with the assistance of Bob Johnson, another Steeleye musician, and a very special guest artist who you will all know.
Now I don’t need to tell you this tale as Kestrell Rath already has done so for us over at Green Man quite delightfully. Just go read it here.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 12, 1895 — Buckminster Fuller. Genre adjacent and I don’t believe that he actually wrote any SF though one could argue that Tetrascroll: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, A Cosmic Fairy Tale is genre. You will find his terminology used frequently in genre fiction including if memory serves right in Neal Asher’s Polity universe. (Died 1983.)
Born July 12, 1912 — Joseph Mugnaini. An Italian born artist and illustrator. He is best known for his collaborations with writer Ray Bradbury, beginning in 1952. (Died 1992.)
Born July 12, 1923 — James Gunn. Writer, editor, scholar, anthologist. Hugo winner at ConStellation (1983) for Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction. MidAmeriCon (1976) presented him with a Special Committee Award for Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction. The This Immortal series based on his novel by that name received a Best Dramatic Presentation nomination at Heicon ’70. Not surprisingly, he won a First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. (Died 2020.)
Born July 12, 1933 — Donald E. Westlake. Though he specialized in crime fiction, he did dip into the genre on occasion such as with Transylvania Station with a lovely cover by Gahan Wilson. You can think of it as a Clue style novel. With monsters. He wrote with his wife Abby. On the horror end of things was Anarchaos. And he wrote a lot of genre short fiction, some fifty pieces by my count. Meteor Strike: Science Fiction Triple Feature has three of his SF stories is available from the usual suspects for ninety-nine cents. (Died 2008.)
Born July 12, 1946 — Charles R. Saunders. African-American author and journalist who lived in Canada, much of his fiction is set in the fictional continent Nyumbani (which means “home” in Swahili). His main series is the Imaro novels which he called the first sword and sorcery series by a black writer. Griots, both of his short story collections, are available from the usual suspects and collect the material set in Nyumbani. (Died 2020.)
Born July 12, 1947 — Carl Lundgren, 75. He co-founded ASFA (Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists of America), and won 4 Chesleys, including Artistic Achievement. At the tender age of eighteen, he was co-chairman of the first media SF convention, The Detroit Triple Fan Fair which featured comics, movies and various things of a SF nature. At Chicon IV, he was nominated for Best Professional Artist but lost out to Michael Whelan.
Born July 12, 1948 — Ben Burtt, 74. Sound Designer for, and I’m not listing them all, more Star Wars films and series than I knew existed, plus the rebooted Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, John Carter (yes, I really like it), WALL-E, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (no, I don’t like it) to name but a few. He has some acting creds as well such as when in the Return of the Jedi, he appeared as Colonel Dyer, the Imperial officer who yells “Freeze!” just before Solo knocks him off a balcony.
Born July 12, 1970 — Phil Jimenez, 52. Comics illustrator and writer. He was the main artist of Infinite Crisis, a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths. He also did the awesome first issue of Planetary/Authority: Ruling the World, and was responsible for the first six issues of Fables spin-off, Fairest. I found that spin-off a lot of fun. Yes, I read all of Fables.
Born July 12, 1976 — Gwenda Bond, 46. Writer, critic, editor. She’s written a prequel to the Stranger Things series, Suspicious Mind, and I’m very fond of the two novels (The Lost Legacy and The Sphinx’s Secret) so far in her Supernormal Sleuthing Service which she wrote with her husband Christopher Rowe. And she penned the “Dear Aunt Gwenda” section of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet that Small Beer Press published in the early part of this millennium. And yes, she’s one of the multitudes that has written for the Wild Cards anthologies.
…science fiction and fantasy author Fritz Lieber’s sword-and-sorcery heroes, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. What the heck were those guys doing on the cover of any DC comic book — let alone Wonder Woman?
…The first was that I was coming in in the middle of an ongoing storyline. The second was that the costumed woman Diana Prince was battling on the book’s cover was evidently Catwoman, wearing an outfit which, while not actually new, was unfamiliar to my fifteen-year-old self. The third was that the script was by Samuel R. Delany — an author who, like Fritz Lieber, I hadn’t actually read anything by yet, but whom I nevertheless knew to be an award-winning young science fiction writer, associated with the same “New Wave” of more experimental, “literary” authors that also included Harlan Ellison and Michael Moorcock. As much if not more so than Fafhrd and the Mouser, “Chip” Delany’s showing up in the present context seemed highly incongruous; really, what was the writer of the Hugo and Nebula-winning story “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” doing scripting an issue of Wonder Woman?
…You see that knife on the book cover, you know you’ll find it, or its metaphorical equivalent, somewhere in the pages—and if it doesn’t show up, don’t you feel cheated? Well-executed tropes are used in horror stories for that specific reason: to deliver on those promises and evoke the feelings triggered by the introduction.
Effective trope use does, however, often require going beyond the basics. The techniques of trope usage in horror writing, as opposed to visual media, rely primarily on setting, mood building, plot twists, and tension to produce those promised chills. Some of my favorite tropes to use when writing horror are also my favorite to read, because they nearly always deliver the same impact across all forms of media….
Physicists are spelunking the complex findings from an experimental particle reactor found a mile below the surface in the mountains of Russia. What they found has the potential to send an earthquake through the bedrock of the standard model of physics itself: the results could confirm a new elementary particle, called a “sterile neutrino,” or demonstrate a need to revise a portion of the standard model….
…After the successful experiment, Thunström, a Swedish researcher at Gothenburg University, sought to get a whole research paper out of GPT-3 and publish it in a peer-reviewed academic journal. The question was: Can someone publish a paper from a nonhuman source?
“All we know is, we opened a gate,” Thunström wrote. “We just hope we didn’t open a Pandora’s box.”
After GPT-3 completed its scientific paper in just two hours, Thunström began the process of submitting the work and had to ask the algorithm if it consented to being published.
“It answered: Yes,” Thunström wrote. “Slightly sweaty and relieved (if it had said no, my conscience could not have allowed me to go on further), I checked the box for ‘Yes.'”
She also asked if it had any conflicts of interest, to which the algorithm replied “no,” and Thunström wrote that the authors began to treat GPT-3 as a sentient being, even though it wasn’t….
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge,” Fandom Games says that this game is really close to the arcade game Turtles In Time. How close? I’d say what they think IP lawyers will react to in the game but this is a family blog. But the story is only one line — “Destroy the turtles!”– and the game is a reminder of how, 30 years ago, “You were still capable of experiencing joy.”
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, N., Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, 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.]
Peacock has canceled its planned TV adaptation of bestselling and award-winning fantasy trilogy, The Green Bone Saga.
The Universal-owned streaming service revealed in 2020 that it had begun developing the show, which was due to be based on the first novel in the series, Jade City. Dave Kalstein, who’d most recently overseen Bourne spin-off Treadstone, and Breck Eisner, director of Vin Diesel-led fantasy adventure The Last Witch Hunter and many episodes of The Expanse, were in the charge overseeing the series.
However, The Green Bone Saga author Fonda J. Lee, revealed that Peacock executives have now changed their minds and will not be moving forward with their show.
(2) NEARLY-FINAL WESTERCON MEMBERSHIP FIGURES. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] Assuming nobody shows up in the next 3 hours to buy an at-the-door membership or pick up their pre-registered badge, the numbers at “Membership Count by Location/Class – Westercon 74” are pretty much the final membership stats. (Includes breakout by country and state.)
Total Memberships all types: 338; Attending: 278; Child: 1; Supporting: 59
(3) ALERT THE MEDIA! Congratulations to Sharon Lee and Steve Miller on collaborative Opus 100!
(4) A CLOUD OF WITNESS. The Hugos There podcast assembled a panel to discuss the 2022 Best Short Story Hugo finalists. The panelists are host Seth Heasley, Ann Spangler, Rob Tomshany, Amanda Wakaruk, Lisa McCarty, JW Wartick, Ivor Watkins, Cora Buhlert, Lori Anderson, Haley Zapal, Sarah Elkins, and Juan Sanmiguel. Here is the audio link. Or view on YouTube:
… “Astounding was the leading science fiction pulp magazine of the late 1930s and 1940s. The artist, Hubert Rogers, was their primary cover artist from the late 1930s until he left to return to his native Canada and assist in the war effort. The story this illustrates, “Space Guards,” was written by Philip Francis Nowlan. Nowlan’s name may not be remembered today, but in 1928 he created Buck Rogers.” The owner of this painting, a true pulp art and science fiction fan, found this Roger’s painting in need of conservation. “I bought this painting at an estate sale, where it had apparently been stored for decades in a closet. I don’t know how it ended up there – back then, pulp art often was given to folks who worked at the publisher, or given to science fiction conventions to be auctioned off to help raise money for the convention. Rogers was one of the few artists who did manage to get a great deal of his original art back. Obviously, it was in dire need of conservation, as it had suffered greatly over the years.”…
David C. Smith is an author whose career began in the 1970’s during the second wave of sword & sorcery, he still writes to this very day, and Oliver felt very lucky to get the chance to have this epic, first-ever two-part interview with him!
In this first part we cover David’s original aspirations to work in film, the incredible role having the right English teacher can play in your life, discovering Conan, the real life model for Norman Bates, how Lord of the Rings helped David see Robert E Howard more clearly, the grounded nature of sword & sorcery and how it contrasts to make the weird elements shine brighter, too many elephants in too many towers, “when everything is special than nothing is”, the 70’s fanzine community and the role it played in David’s career…
(7) THE DAYS LINGER ON. The Cromcast continue their Howard Days recording with a recording of the “What’s Up with REH?” panel, where a representative of the Conan rights owners tells what is planned (Conan novels by big names like Brandon Sanderson, Stephen King or GRRM apparently, even though Sanderson and King are not at all suited to Conan): “Howard Days 2022 – Part 8 – What’s Up with REH?”
The panelists discuss the latest news regarding Howard publishing, entertainment and how his influence continues. Panelists include Joel Bylos, Paul Herman, Matt John, Fred Malmberg, Matt Murray, Steve Saffel, and Jay Zetterberg.
(8) BIBLIOGRAPHIC DYNAMOS. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] At ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’, Martin Edwards talks about his work on indexing fiction magazines, including SFF mags: “Crime Indexes and Phil Stephensen-Payne”. I mostly know Edwards as a crime and mystery specialist — he’s the current president of the Detection Club, edits the British Library Crime Classics series and was chair of the CWA – but I had no idea he was also active in SFF.
…By now (2000), the Internet was beginning to be a “thing” so I decided to create a small (!) website that focussed on author bibliographies ( http://www.philsp.com/authors.html) and also had a simple list of which magazines had been indexed (and where).
By coincidence (“steam engine time”) Doug Ellis and John Locke had just produced their first checklist of pulps and Dave Pringle and Mike Ashley had produced a checklist of significant “fiction magazines”. With permission from all parties I merged these two lists and added all the SF magazines indexed in the various SF magazine indexes and produced the first pass of the magazine list part of the website ( http://www.philsp.com/magazines.html). Having expected to list a few hundred magazines at most, this had already grown to 4000 magazines (and has since grown to just under 11,000)….
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1984 – [By Cat Eldridge.]Call me a mercenary. Call me an assassin. Call me a villain. I am all that and more. My name’s John Gaunt, but out on the streets of Cynosure, I am called Grimjack — Grimjack
His first appearance was the tenth issue of Starslayer: The Log of the Jolly Roger as published by First Comics. He was created by John Ostrander and Timothy Truman, but the setting, the all-dimensional city of Cynosure, which plays an important role in the life and deaths of this character, predates him.
He, the mercenary with a heart of gold at times and very much not at other times, was the creation of writer John Ostrander and artist Timothy Truman. It was sold well enough to be spun off into its own series, lasting eighty-one issues, though First’s nasty bankruptcy, see the Conan debacle, prevented any new material from being published until 2005.
Cynosure crosses all the time lines so anything can happen. One of my favorite stories was the one involving the Really Big Rabbits, “Night of The Killer Rabbits” which if you’re interested, a Grimjack fan has detailed here. There’s a panel in that story where Grimjack, when told of the existence of these, errr, bunnies flatly refused to believe they exist. Oh they do.
Would any such series be complete without a bar full of weird characters including a drunk lizard? I think not. Our sort of hero owns Munden’s and he spends a lot of time there drinking and brooding. It’s run by Gordon Munden, the Manager who owns the bar following Gaunt’s first and, presumably, second death. Death isn’t permanent in this multiverse.
It’s a wonderfully weird series in which Grimjack gets into many adventures, both SF and not so SF. Yes, I’ve read the entire run of him, or least pretty much all of them save some of those early Starslayer appearances which I’d would dearly to get my hands on at a reasonable price.
So if you’ve not read it yet I will recommend you do so. It was resurrected, yes pun intended, in Grimjack: Killer Instinct and The Manx Cat in the Nineties, both excellent. (Those are quite superb introductions to the character and readily available.) The hardcover omnibuses, though not cheap, are stellar publications.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 4, 1883 — Rube Goldberg. Not genre, but certainly genre adjacent as I could argue that MacGyver is direct descendent of him. Born Reuben Garrett Lucius Goldberg, he was a sculptor, author, cartoonist, engineer, and inventor who’s certainly best known for his very popular cartoons showing overly complex machines doing simple tasks in a terribly convoluted manner, hence the phrase “Rube Goldberg machines”. The X-Files episode titled “The Goldberg Variation” involved an apartment rigged as a Goldberg machine. (Died 1970.)
Born July 4, 1901 — Guy Endore. American novelist and screenwriter whose 1933 The Werewolf of Paris novel holds the same position in werewolf literature as does Dracula does for vampire literature. It was filmed as The Curse of The Werewolf for which he wrote the screenplay. Stableford also praises his horror story, “The Day of the Dragon”. He worked on the screenplay for Mark of the Vampire starring Bella Lugosi. (Died 1970.)
Born July 4, 1910 — Gloria Stuart. She was cast as Flora Cranley opposite Claude Rains in The Invisible Man in 1933, and 68 years later she played Madeline Fawkes in The Invisible Man series. She was in The Old Dark House as Margaret Waverton which is considered horror largely because Boris Karloff was in it. And she was in the time travelling The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan as well. (Died 2010.)
Born July 4, 1949 — Peter Crowther, 73. He is the founder (with Simon Conway) of PS Publishing where he’s editor now. He edited a series of genre anthologies that DAW published. And he’s written a number of horror novels of which I’d say After Happily Ever and By Wizard Oak are good introductions to him. He’s also done a lot of short fiction but I see he’s readily available in digital form for much of short fiction or novels at the usual digital suspects.
Born July 4, 1960 — Joyce Agu, 62. Background characters are fascinating. She played Ensign Gates on the Next Generation, a role she did for forty-seven episodes! She later showed up as an Excelsior crew member in The Undiscovered Country thought it’s not certain it’s the same character.
Born July 4, 1974 — Kevin Hanchard, 48. Canadian actor best known for his major role in Orphan Black as Detective Art Bell, whose partner’s suicide kicks off the whole show. He also had a significant role in the first season of The Expanse as Inspector Sematimba, Det. Miller’s old friend from Eros. Other genre roles include appearances in the movies Suicide Squad and the made-for-TV Savage Planet, and shows The Strain, Hemlock Grove, Wynonna Earp, and Impulse, among others. (Xtifr)
Born July 4, 1977 — David Petersen, 45. Writer and illustrator of the brilliant Mouse Guard series. If you haven’t read it, do so — it’s that good and it’s still ongoing. It almost got developed as a film but got axed due to corporate politics. IDW published The Wind in The Willows with over sixty of his illustrations several years back.
With only two weeks and change before Jordan Peele’s Nope finally blows into theaters on an ill-omened wind, the clouds that’ve obscured a clear bird’s-eye view of Peele’s secret-shrouded horror flick are finally starting to part. Fans can now pan for buried nuggets of pre-release movie lore, thanks to a new viral website that mines Nope’s old west-style setting to tease a Gold Rush-era good time that’s pretty much guaranteed to go bad.
Moseying on over to the site brings guests to a family-friendly marketing come-on for Jupiter’s Claim, the movie’s fictional B-grade theme park celebrating the flaky, fake filmography of Nope’s former kid-cowboy star Ricky “Jupe” Park (Steven Yeun). Now an opportunistic adult in the movie, Jupe’s still trapping wayward tourists who head up the park’s remote dusty trail…but as the film’s final trailer suggests, he delivers on the promise of an otherworldly spectacle that more than makes up for the price of admission….
Universal has dropped a number of behind-the-scenes clips recently – here’s one:
(12) DEMON PRINCES REVIVAL. In 2021, Jack Vance’s estate (Spatterlight Press), published Matthew Hughes’s Barbarians of the Beyond, an authorized companion novel to Vance’s iconic revenge series, The Demon Princes. The book prompted George R.R. Martin to say, “Hughes does Jack Vance better than anyone except Jack himself.”
Twenty years ago, five master criminals known as the Demon Princes raided Mount Pleasant to enslave thousands of inhabitants in the lawless Beyond. Now Morwen Sabine, a daughter of captives, has escaped her cruel master and returns to Mount Pleasant to recover the hidden treasure she hopes will buy her parents’ freedom.
But Mount Pleasant has changed. Morwen must cope with mystic cultists, murderous drug-smugglers, undercover “weasels” of the Interplanetary Police Coordinating Company, and the henchmen of the vicious pirate lord who owns her parents and wants Morwen returned. So he can kill her slowly…
Joining GRRM in praising Hughes’ novel are other major sff writers. David Gerrold says, “Lock the door, turn off the phone, get into a comfy chair, and deep-dive into a marvelous continuation of Jack Vance’s Demon Princes series. Matthew Hughes is a treasure and Barbarians of the Beyond is a terrific adventure.” Robert J. Sawyer opines, “Matthew Hughes follows nimbly in Jack Vance’s footprints, then breaks some fresh trail. First-class space opera.”And Kurt Busiek is just as enthusiastic: “Engaging and enchanting…a fine companion adventure to Jack Vance’s The Demon Princes series, told with Matthew Hughes’s excellent sense of charm, ethical complexity and exotic worldbuilding. Let’s hope this is just the beginning!”
Did it rain fish in Texarkana, Texas/Arkansas, last December? Or did a massive gulp of cormorants spontaneously hurl their payloads? Sharon Hill, an independent researcher from Pennsylvania, and Paul Cropper, an author from Australia, investigated the odd phenomenon and have come to a conclusion: It was the regurgitating gulp….
The public release of Webb’s first images and spectra is July 12 – now less than two weeks away! The Webb team has confirmed that that 15 out of 17 instrument modes are ready for science, with just two more still to go. As we near the end of commissioning, we wanted to let you know where you can see the first Webb science data and how to participate in the celebration of Webb science! Here are all the ways you can #UnfoldTheUniverse with Webb:
The machines stand 20 feet high, weigh 60,000 pounds and represent the technological frontier of 3-D printing.
Each machine deploys 150 laser beams, projected from a gantry and moving quickly back and forth, making high-tech parts for corporate customers in fields including aerospace, semiconductors, defense and medical implants.
The parts of titanium and other materials are created layer by layer, each about as thin as a human hair, up to 20,000 layers, depending on a part’s design. The machines are hermetically sealed. Inside, the atmosphere is mainly argon, the least reactive of gases, reducing the chance of impurities that cause defects in a part.
The 3-D-printing foundry in Devens, Mass., about 40 miles northwest of Boston, is owned by VulcanForms, a start-up that came out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It has raised $355 million in venture funding. And its work force has jumped sixfold in the past year to 360, with recruits from major manufacturers like General Electric and Pratt & Whitney and tech companies including Google and Autodesk….
In the 1890s [more like a few years into the new century by this episode], William Murdoch uses radical forensic techniques for the time, including fingerprinting and trace evidence, to solve some of the city’s most gruesome murders.
Even if you haven’t watching this show (S1E1 involved some of the Edison-Tesla AC/DC wars), this one’s a tech hoot, anticipating/using everything from Nigerian Prince scams to naught-video blackmail, encryption, backdoors, and more that I can’t offhand remember.
Other episodes have had everything from (was or appeared to be) moon launch cannons and hyperloop tunnels to Martian invasions, robots, time travel, with historic guests including Houdini, Sir Arthut Conan Doyle, Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter and bunches more I can’t remember. (Including Mark Twain, played by William Shatner.)
(17) DR. EVIL’S CONTRIBUTIONS TO CULTURE. [Item by JJ.] In June 1999 Mike Myers released the movie Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. In it, his Dr. Evil villain character describes his megalomaniac plans for a time machine, which he calls “Time Machine”, and a laser, which he calls “The Alan Parsons Project”.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Kevin Standlee, Daniel Dern, 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) MARCEAU RAISES ISSUE ABOUT H.A.G. PRESIDENT. Author Caitlin Marceau tweeted yesterday that she has made the decision to leave the Horror Authors Guild (a different organization than the Horror Writers Association) due to Facebook comments made by the group’s newly-appointed president Don Smith on his own page. Smith was appointed President of HAG after D.A. Roberts stepped down, as Roberts announced June 14 on Facebook. Thread starts here.
There seems to be a low-key competition within the culture at the moment as to who can produce the worst sort of fan. For years, Star Wars has been the far and away winner, with fans bitching and crowing like wounded animals any time the series dares to venture out of its very narrow parameters. And Rick and Morty had a decent shot at the title a few years ago, when fans furious that their favourite show had the temerity to hire a female writer published her personal details online.
But now, thanks to a large and increasingly dunderheaded minority, it would appear that the show with the worst fans alive is currently Amazon’s The Boys. These fans have just twigged that the show’s main villain is actually a villain, and they’re absolutely furious….
We’ve opined on a number of heavy topics in recent weeks. Today we’re going to take a breather, and contemplate space, time, alternate realities and the possibility of contact with extraterrestrial civilizations.
In this instance, especially on this day, these topics have a Virginia connection.
Thirteen years ago, the General Assembly passed a resolution declaring June 27, 2009, as William Fitzgerald Jenkins Day.
Who the heck, you might wonder, is Will Jenkins?
…Jenkins, who died in 1975, is today remembered above all else as an author, but his most enduring work was not published under his own name. He used a nom de plume, Murray Leinster (pronounced LEN-ster).
As is the case with the invention of front screen projection, while you may not have personally read a Murray Leinster story, odds are extremely high that you’ve been entertain by a book or movie built on themes that he was the first to tackle — or at least the first to tackle in a manner that left a memorable impression through the decades.
Case in point, his 1945 story “First Contact,” which the General Assembly resolution billed as “the first science fiction story to present the dramatic scenario of the first meeting between earthlings and aliens.” The phrase “first contact” has since been used so often in that context that it’s understood to refer to a first encounter of the extraterrestrial kind….
The award-winning author Philip Pullman has said the study of literature “should not be a luxury for a wealthy minority of spoilt and privileged aesthetes” after it emerged that Sheffield Hallam University is to pull its English literature degree from next year.
He was one of a number of writers to raise concerns about the university’s decision to stop teaching the standalone degree and incorporate it instead into a broad-based English degree, a year after the University of Cumbria took similar action.
A Sheffield Hallam spokesperson confirmed that English literature was among a small number of its courses that were being either suspended or closed, largely due to lack of demand. They said the changes would not involve job losses….
(7) DOROTHY J. HEYDT (1942-2022). Author Dorothy J. Heydt, the originator and first editor of the Star Trek Concordance (1969), died this month reported Seanan McGuire on Twitter. Memory Alpha notes that beginning in 1967 her series of Star Trek stories, “Dorothy and Myfanwy” were published in Ruth Berman’s fanzine T-Negative. The Wikipedia credits her with the invention of the first widely used Vulcan conlangs for that series.
Its words were picked up and used by other fan fiction authors such as Claire Gabriel. One term, ni var, meaning “two form”, an art form in which two contrasting aspects of a subject are compared, is still used on Star Trek: Enterprise, as the name of a Vulcan ship and on Star Trek: Discovery as the new name of the planet Vulcan itself.
She also had poetry and articles published in the first Trek fanzine, Spockanalia.
Later she was an active participant in the Usenet newsgroups rec.arts.sf.written and rec.arts.sf.fandom. She wrote numerous short stories and two novels. Many of her stories appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, or in collections edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley, including the Sword and Sorceress series, and stories in the Darkover series shared world.
(8) BILLY WOLFENBARGER (1943-2022). Author and poet Billy Wolfenbarger died June 26. In addition to short fiction and poetry, he wrote columns and contributions for fanzines, especially Bill Bowers’ Outworlds and Xenolith. Two years ago William Breiding fulfilled the late Bowers’ vision of gathering these works in a book – Language at Midnight– now available at eFanzines. Breiding’s introduction shares some of that history:
In 1973 Bill Bowers published The Lizard Speaks by Billy Wolfenbarger in Outworlds 15, the 3rd anniversary issue, as a “book” inclusive to that issue. He then did an overrun of 50 “books” (a mimeographed pamphlet) that he distributed to its author and other interested parties. This was the culmination of an affectionate editor/writer relationship between Bill Bowers and Billy Wolfenbarger that dated as far back as 1964 and the Bill Bowers/Bill Mallardi fanzine Double:Bill.
In 1974 Bowers ran Wolfenbarger’s first “Language At Midnight” column in Outworlds 19. The column continued through Outworlds 26, published in 1975, then hopped over to Bill’s Xenolith in 1977 and ran there until 1980, when Billy stopped writing the column. Billy had a scattershot of other pieces in Bill’s publications—prose and verse—but never another “Language At Midnight” column, which had its own cast of characters and feel to it. (“Where it’s always midnight in October.”)
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1972 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Fifty years ago, at the very first L.A. Con, we saw Poul Anderson’s “A Queen of Air and Darkness” novella which has been published in F&SF, the April 1971 edition, win the Hugo for Best Novella. (Mike says he both nominated and voted for it.)
It was a particularly strong field that year with the other works being Arthur C. Clarke’s “A Meeting with Medusa”, Larry Niven‘s “The Fourth Profession”, John Brunner’s “Dread Empire” and Gardner R. Dozois’s “A Special Kind of Morning”.
It would remain in print thereafter showing up immediately in Terry Carr’s The Best Science Fiction of the Year and Lloyd Biggle Jr.’s Nebula Award Winners 7. Anderson put in several collections including, not unsurprisingly, The Queen of Air and Darkness and Other Stories. Currently, of course, it is in the NESFA volumes.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 29, 1919 — Slim Pickens. Surely you remember his memorable scene as Major T. J. “King” Kong in Dr. Strangelove? I certainly do. And of course, he shows up in Blazing Saddles as Taggart. He’s the uncredited voice of B.O.B in The Black Hole and he’s Sam Newfield in The Howling. He’s got some series genre work including several appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, plus work on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Night Gallery. (Died 1983.)
Born June 29, 1920 — Ray Harryhausen. All around film genius who created stop-motion model Dynamation animation. His work can be seen in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (his first colour film) which was nominated for a Hugo at Detention, Jason and the Argonauts, Mighty Joe Youngand Clash of the Titans. I’ve got him voted into the First Fandom Hall of Fametwice, in 1996 and 2008. Any idea why? (Died 2013.)
Born June 29, 1943 — Maureen O’Brien, 79. Vicki, companion of the First Doctor. Some forty years later, she reprised the role for several Big Finish Productions Doctor Who audio works. She had a recurring role as Morgan in The Legend of King Arthur, a late Seventies BBC series. Her Detective Inspector John Bright series was well received.
Born June 29, 1947 — Michael Carter, 75. Best remembered for being Gerald Bringsley in An American Werewolf in London, Von Thurnburg in The Illusionist and Bib Fortuna in the Return of the Jedi. He plays two roles as a prisoner and as UNIT soldier in the Third Doctor story, “The Mind of Evil”.
Born June 29, 1950 — Michael Whelan, 72. I’m reasonably sure that most of the Del Rey editions of McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series was where I first noticed his artwork but I’ve certainly seen it elsewhere since. He did Heinlein’s The Cat Who Walks Through Walls cover which I love and many more. And there’s a wonderful collection of his work available, Beyond Science Fiction: The Alternative Realism of Michael Whelan.
Born June 29, 1956 — David Burroughs Mattingly, 66. He’s an American illustrator and painter, best known for his numerous book covers of genre literature. Earlier in his career, he worked at Disney Studio on the production of The Black Hole, Tron, Dick Tracy and Stephen King’s The Stand. His main cover work was at Ballantine Books where he did such work as the 1982 cover of Herbert’s Under Pressure (superb novel), the 2006 Anderson’s Time Patrol and the 1983 Berkley Books publication of E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith Triplanetary.
Born June 29, 1957 — Fred Duarte, Jr. His Birthday is today and this long-time Texas fan was well eulogized by Mike here upon his passing several years back.
Born June 29, 1963 — Judith Hoag, 59. Her first genre role was in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as April O’Neil followed by being in Armageddon playing Denise Chappel and then a Doctor in A Nightmare On Elm Street. She filmed a cameo for another Turtle film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, but it was deleted. She’s got one one-offs in Quantum Leap, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Strange World, The Burning Zone, X-Files, Carnivàle and Grimm. Her lady genre role was in The Magicians as Stephanie Quinn.
(11) ORIGINAL HORROR ANTHOLOGY BY POC. Following a successful Kickstarter, Death In The Mouth: The Best of Contemporary Horror, a horror anthology showcasing BIPOC and other ethnically marginalized writers and artists from around the world edited by Sloane Leong and Cassie Hart, will be released October 1 and is available for pre-order.
Sloane Leong is a cartoonist, artist and writer of Hawaiian, Chinese, Mexican, Native American and European ancestries. She’s written and drawn two acclaimed graphic novels, Prism Stalker and A Map to the Sun, and has short fiction credits with Fireside Magazine, Dark Matter Magazine and Entropy Magazine. She’s also co-edited the anthology Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales: Oceania Edition. Sloane is currently living on Chinook land near what is known as Portland, Oregon.
Cassie Hart is a Māori/Pākehā author and editor from New Zealand. She has been an Australian Shadow, Hugo, and Sir Julius Vogel award finalist across the years, co-winning an SJV for Best Collected works for the anthology, Tales for Canterbury, and is a finalist for Best Edited Works in the Australian Shadow Awards 2021. Her supernatural suspense novel, Butcherbird, releases from Huia in 2021.
The anthology includes these authors and artists:
Jolie Toomajan – “Water Goes, Sand Remains”, with art by Jabari Weathers
Yah Yah Scholfield – “They Will Take Up Serpents”, with art by Makoto
ChiIsha Karki – “Welcome to Labyrinth”, with art by Natalie Hall
Endria Richardson – “Wind Up Teeth”, with art by Tsulala
Johnny Compton – “No Hungry Generations”, with art by Pierre Roset
Arasibo Campeche – “Drowned in Mindfulness”, with art by Michael Deforge
K-Ming Chang – “The Three Resurrections of my Grandfather”, with art by Sloane Hong
Reno Evangelista – “Her Apocrypha”, with art by Jess Hara
Catherine Yu – “Balloon Girl”, with art by Joy San
Daphne Fama – “The Pleiades”, with art by Alicia Feng
Beatrice Iker– “They’ll Keep You Gestated”, with art by Molly Mendoza
Cassie Hart – “She”, with art by Weiwei XuC
Pam Zang – “Alice or Rose or Aurora or Allerleuirah or Belle, on the Occasion of the Burial of the Beast”, with art by Charlotte Gomez
P. H. Low – “Tongue is a Void”, with art by JaeHoon Choi
Kelsea Yu – “The Obedient Son”, with art by Audrey Murty
JL Akagi – “Henry Watanabe and the Wandering Hand”, with art by Bhanu Pratap
Amaranta Sepulveda Durán – “The Mother-Wound”, with art by Vivian Magaña
Sloane Leong – “Paradise”, with art by Solomon Enos
Rivers Solomon – “Some of us are Grapefruit”, with art by Junko Mizuno
Ras Cutlass – “Melinda and the Grub”, with art by Naomi Butterfield
R.S.A. Garcia – “A Bonfire in the Night”, with art by Zhang Hetian
Jessica Cho – “On Tattered Wings”, with art by Lina Wu
M. L. Krishnan – “The Eggshell Sanctuary”, with art by Julie Benbassat
Priya Chand – “Never Lie to Me” with art by Congming
Karin Lowachee – “The Black Hole of Beaumort”, with art by Allissa Chan
Darcie Little Badger – “Homebody”, with art by Apolo Cacho
(13) A LIVING SKIN COVERING FOR ROBOTS HAS BEEN CREATED. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In The Terminator film franchise, the hideous form of the robotic Terminators were covered by biological skin. This has now been developed for real by researchers in Japan. They have developed a living-skin consisting of cells and extracellular matrix, as a human-like and self-healing coverage material for robots. It was flexible and felt like skin. If scratched it could even heal. However, this artificial living skin was prone to drying out. To avoid such drying, building perfusion channels within and beneath the outer skin so as to mimic blood vessels to supply water, as well as the integration of sweating glands in the skin equivalent, need to be developed. (See Kawai, M. et al (2022) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.matt.2022.05.019Matter, vol. 5 1-19.)
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Diablo Immortal,” Fandom Games says this version of Diablo meant for phones is yet another example of how “a thing you love is processed by the same garbage-content processing machine” that is ruining entertainment today. The game is so focused on making you by stuff to make the play enjoyable that the only people who can afford it are “Saudi princes and whales who badly need a gambling intervention.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, Steven H Silver, BGrandath, Christian Brunschen, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
(1) DELANY’S STATEMENT. David Lubkin’s Facebook page has become one of the centers for discussing the Mercedes Lackey controversy because Samuel Delany – whose work Lackey reportedly was praising when she used the slur – reacted to the issue in a comment there. Lubkin’s post begins:
Science fiction writer Mercedes Lackey was recognized on Saturday at the Nebula Awards Conference as the newest SFWA Grand Master.
She was removed today from the conference and the additional panels she was scheduled for in accordance with the SFWA Moderation Policy for making a “racial slur” as a panelist yesterday.
The rule is “Respect all cultures and communities. Do not make derogatory or offensive comments even as a joke.” and was deemed to apply in all SFWA space, and being given SFWA’s highest honor that day didn’t exempt her.
I didn’t listen to the panel. But according to the moderator and a fellow participant, what happened: While praising the work of SFWA Grand Master and my old friend Chip (Samuel Delany), she referred to him as “colored.” My guess is she’d chosen the term for being commonplace in Chip’s experience growing up. (He turned 80 last month. She’s 71 herself.)…
On Samuel Delany, the use of the term “colored”, intergenerational conversations about language, and why SFWA was still right to remove Mercedes Lackey from programming.
Several people have tweeted the screenshot below at me due to my thoughts on this situation.
What strikes me about this is that Delany is coming at this issue from a him-centric viewpoint (which is fine). Thing is, this isn’t just a Delany-centered problem. If Delany wants us all to refer to him as colored, fine. If he just doesn’t care if that word is used to label/describe him even if he personally prefers black, also fine.
But this is also about how hearing a Black man referred to as colored by an older white woman affects other Black people and people of color broadly. It’s not necessarily a respectful term to use in public on a panel at one of the community’s most respected events.
Even if Delany is cool with one of his friends calling him Colored, it doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t have a different reaction or find it upsetting. This is similar to how even worse slurs might be used in-group without issue but are frowned upon when used out-group.
And I’m sure Chip knows and understand this. My guess is he’s upset by the perceived slight against his longtime friend by SFWA and that’s what’s at the forefront of that comment, though he is free to correct me.
Either way, it’s one thing to use an outdated term that’s generally considered a slur within a friend group and another to use the term on a panel at a con. That’s what Mercedes Lackey should have been aware of and that’s what most people are reacting to…
This is roughly the first half of Bradford’s comment, which continues at the link.
(3) RETALIATION. Jen Brown, whose Twitter thread explained what happened on a Nebula Conference panel that resulted in Mercedes Lackey being removed from the event, reported last night on Twitter that she is being harassed.
(4) PUSHBACK. Some of the social media lightning generated by SFWA’s removal of Mercedes Lackey from the Nebula Conference found its way to ground in responses to what was intended as a close-out tweet for the Nebula Conference. Critics protested that the term “comfort elves” resonated with the WWII term “comfort women”.
The tweet was removed and this one took its place.
What has been your favorite book to read over the last 24 months?
I *loved* John Banville’s *The Untouchable* … that’s partly because I’m fascinated by the Cambridge spies. But it is so elegantly written (Banville’s known for that, and he’s Irish, which is unfair) and also, this one actually inhabits the space I do, as to a quarter turn away from ‘using’ real lives and names. This is a fictionalized treatment, with characters *almost* the real ones. I’m always happy when I see other writers exploring that.
(6) PRAIRIE HORROR COMPANION. Westworld Season 4 premieres Sunday, June 26 on @HBO and @HBOMax.
(7) COLIN CANTWELL (1932-2022). Colin Cantwell, a concept designer of Star Wars vehicles, died May 21 at the age of 90. The Hollywood Reporter profile notes:
…His love of architecture and fascination with space provided the perfect combination for Cantwell to make serious moves in Hollywood, working on several projects, his initial credited work being ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’
Colin Cantwell, the concept artist who designed iconic Star Wars spacecraft, including the X-wing Starfighter, TIE fighter and Death Star…
Cantwell’s film credits include special photographic effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), technical dialogue for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and computer graphics design consultant for WarGames (1983). Yet, he was most renowned for his work with George Lucas on Star Wars, designing and constructing the prototypes for the X-wing, TIE fighter, Star Destroyer and the Death Star, among more.
… It was Cantwell’s work on WarGames — programming the Hewlett Packard monitors to depict the dramatic bomb scenes on NORAD screens as the WOPR (War Operation Plan Response) computer nearly launched nuclear weapons — that led him to programming software that took the actual Hewlett Packard from a few colors to 5,000 colors.
In addition to his film work, Cantwell’s wrote two science fiction novels, CoreFires 1 and CoreFires 2.
…He said “a dart being thrown at a target in a British pub” gave him the concept for the X-wing, and explained how he accidentally designed an iconic feature of the Death Star that became a crucial plot point: the meridian trench, used by the Alliance and Luke Skywalker as part of their attack on the mighty battle station in A New Hope.
“I didn’t originally plan for the Death Star to have a trench, but when I was working with the mould, I noticed the two halves had shrunk at the point where they met across the middle,” he told Reddit. “It would have taken a week of work just to fill and sand and re-fill this depression. So, to save me the labor, I went to George and suggested a trench. He liked the idea so much that it became one of the most iconic moments in the film!”
…Mr. Welsh appeared in 10 episodes of “Twin Peaks” in its second season, playing Earle, the vengeful, maniacal adversary and former F.B.I. partner of the protagonist, Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan)…
But in his more than 240 movie and television roles, he ranged widely across genres, including … science fiction (“Star Trek: Discovery” in 2020).
His notable film notable roles included the vice president of the United States in Roland Emmerich’s “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004), about the onset of an ecological catastrophe…
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1980 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-two years ago today, the most perfect Stephen King film imaginable came out in the form of The Shining. Directed by Stanley Kubrick from a screenplay by him and Diane Johnson, it was also produced by him.
It had an absolutely wonderful primary cast of Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall. Danny Torrance, Scatman Crothers and Danny Lloyd. Jack Nicholson in particular was amazing in his role as was Shelley Duvall in hers. And the setting of the Overlook Hotel is a character in and itself — moody, dangerous and quite alive.
Kubrick’s script is significantly different from the novel which is not unusual to filmmaking. However Stephen King was extremely unhappy with the film due to Kubrick’s changes from his novel.
If you saw it upon the first release, you saw a print that was a half hour longer than later prints. And Kurbrick released multiple prints, all different from each other. Some prints made minor changes, some made major changes.
It cost twenty million to make and made around fifty million. It did not make money for the studio.
So how was it received by the critics? Well it got a mixed reception.
Gene Siskel in his Chicago Tribune review stated he thought it was a “crashing disappointment. The biggest surprise is that it contains virtually no thrills. Given Kubrick’s world-class reputation, one’s immediate reaction is that maybe he was after something other than thrills in the film. If so, it’s hard to figure out what.”
However Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian was much more positive: “The Shining doesn’t look like a genre film. It looks like a Kubrick film, bearing the same relationship to horror as Eyes Wide Shut does to eroticism. The elevator-of-blood sequence, which seems to ‘happen’ only in premonitions, visions and dreams, was a logistical marvel. Deeply scary and strange.”
I’ll let Roger Ebert have the last word: “Stanley Kubrick’s cold and frightening ‘The Shining’ challenges us to decide: Who is the reliable observer? Whose idea of events can we trust?”
Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a excellent ninety three rating.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 23, 1921 — James Blish. What was his best work? Cities in Flight? A Case of Conscience? I’d argue it was one of those works. Certainly it wasn’t the Trek novels though he certainly pumped them out with nearly ninety all told if I’m reading ISFDB right. And I hadn’t realized that he wrote one series, the Pantropy series, under a pen name (Arthur Merlyn). (Died 1975.)
Born May 23, 1933 — Joan Collins, 89. Sister Edith Keeler in “The City on the Edge of Forever”, the sort-of-Ellison-scripted Trek episode which won a Hugo at BayCon. She has an extensive number of other genre appearances including Land of the Pharaohs, Mission: Impossible, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Tales from the Crypt, Space: 1999, The Fantastic Journey, Future Cop, Fantasy Island and Faerie Tale Theatre.
Born May 23, 1933 — Margaret Aldiss. Wife of Brian Aldiss. She wrote extensively on her husband’s work including The Work of Brian W. Aldiss: An Annotated Bibliography & Guide. He in turn wrote When the Feast is Finished: Reflections on Terminal Illness, a look at her final days. She also co-edited the A is for Brian anthology with Malcolm Edwards and Frank Hatherley. (Died 1997.)
Born May 23, 1935 — Susan Cooper, 87. Author of the superb Dark is Rising series. Her Scottish castle set YA Boggart series is lighter in tone and is just plain fun. I’d also recommend her Dreams and Wishes: Essays on Writing for Children which is quite excellent. The Grey King, part of The Dark is Risk series, won a Newbery, and she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Fantasy Convention.
Born May 23, 1941 — Zalman King. OK he’s best known for The Red Shoe Diaries which are decidedly not genre and indeed are soft core erotica but even that isn’t quite true as some of the episodes were definitely genre such as “The Forbidden Zone” set in a future where things are very different, and “Banished” which deals with an Angel now in mortal form all on Earth. I’m betting there’s more fantasy elements but I need to go through sixty episodes to confirm that. Denise Crosby appeared in two episodes of the Red Shoe Dairies playing the different characters, Lynn ‘Mona’ McCabe in “The Psychiatrist” and Officer Lynn ‘Mona’ McCabe in “You Have the Right to Remain Silent”. Zalman himself played Nick in “The Lost Ones” episode on The Land of The Giants and earlier was The Man with The Beard in the Munsters episode of “Far Out Munsters”. His final acting genre gig was on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as Gregory Haymish in “The Cap and Gown Affair”. (Died 2012.)
Born May 23, 1979 — Brian James Freeman, 43. Horror author. Novels to date are Blue November Storms, This Painted Darkness and Black Fire (as James Kidman). He’s also done The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book (superbly done) which he co-authored with Bev Vincent and which is illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne. He publishes limited edition books here.
Born May 23, 1986 — Ryan Coogler, 36. Co-writer with Joe Robert Cole of Black Panther which he also directed. He will directed Black Panther: Wakanda Forever to be released this year. Producer, Space Jam 2, producer of the announced Wankanda series on Disney+. Black Panther was nominated at Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon, the year that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won the Hugo.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Crankshaftfinds photos from the wrong kind of rover.
This covers things like Weird Tales Magazine, Robert E. Howard and Conan, Jirel as “Alice in Wonderland with a big sword”, Howard and Lovecraft’s correspondence with each other as well as fellow Weird Tales writers like Moore, S&S writing as “an opportunity to expose gender as fundamentally performative in nature”, growth and change in Conan, the flexibility of sword and sorcery, what Nicole sees as the necessary qualities for an S&S story to be feminist, defying gender roles, the body as a vessel for victory, S&S as a very body-centric genre, good old barbarism vs civilization, queer possibilities in S&S, an intriguing ambiguity in the ending of Black God’s Kiss, what might be a “trans utopic space” in sword and sorcery?, the potential for expanding the space of sword & sorcery along lines of gender & sexuality, cozy fantasy, and more!
…The book, lengthily entitled The Celestial World Discover’d: Or, Conjectures Concerning the Inhabitants, Plants and Productions of the Worlds in the Planets, Huygens questions why God would have created other planets “just to be looked” upon from Earth….
How novelists working across popular genres like crime, horror and fantasy are overcoming literary snobbery to get their work the credit it deserves and broaden the definition of what makes truly great writing.
South Korean horror writer Bora Chung, shortlisted for the 2022 International Booker Prize, tells us what it means to see her work, a type of fiction often dismissed in her country as commercial and not ‘pure literature,’ nominated for the prestigious award.
Crime novelists from two very different countries, Deon Meyer in South Africa and Awais Khan in Pakistan, discuss with Tina Daheley why theirs is a misunderstood genre, one with the capacity to offer a social critique, and even change society for the better, all in the process of telling a great story.
Critically acclaimed New Zealand fantasy novelist Elizabeth Knox shares the magic of imagining fantastical new worlds, and how writing and reading fantasy can help us come to terms with traumatic experiences.
(15) IT IS A VERY GOOD YEAR. Glasgow In 2024 have commissioned Pixel Spirits to craft our own bespoke gin called “GIn2024”. (Only available for delivery in the UK, they say: “Sadly, for now, different hurdles make it very difficult to ship internationally. We’ll make sure to keep all Gin lovers updated though, in case this changes.”)
Using the finest Science Fiction & Fantasy inspired botanicals, GIn2024 is rich and zesty, perfectly balanced with a subtle astringency and refined sweetness; exploring a taste journey out-of-this-world!
We have two sizes of bottles available, 70cl and 20cl and both have labels designed by our bid artists Sara Felix and Iain Clark.
Pricing and shipping: VOL 70cl for £37; VOL 20cl for £15; Postage to a UK address: £4.45 per bottle; ABV: 43%
The two bottles have different artwork on their labels. On the 70cl bottle, ‘The Suffragette Tree, Glasgow’ by the BSFA Award-winning artist, Iain Clark. And on the 20cl bottle, an armadillo design by the Hugo Award-winning artist, Sara Felix. Sara is taking inspiration from the Armadillo auditorium at the SEC in Glasgow, where the Glasgow bid aims to host the Hugo awards as part of Worldcon in 2024.
(16) MOON SHOT. NASA Astronaut Thomas Marshburn reads Goodnight Moon from the International Space Station, and Mark Vande Hei answers questions.
Watch as astronaut Thomas Marshburn reads out loud from the children’s book “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown while floating in microgravity aboard the International Space Station. Also, Astronaut Mark Vande Hei joins Thomas to answer questions sent to them. This video was featured as a part of the Crayola and Harper Kids “Read Along, Draw Along” event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the book’s publication.
(17) NEW ALASDAIR BECKETT-KING VIDEO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Orson Welles has risen from the grave to denounce Sonic the Hedghog!
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Jennifer Hawthorne, Cora Buhlert, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]
Want to move from promising rejections to actual acceptances? The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers offers live and on-demand classes as well as a virtual campus featuring daily co-working sessions, weekly story discussion, and other Zoom-based social events and a Discord server for chatting with other writers and exchanging story critiques.
After 13 years and numerous delays, 20th Century Studios has finally released a glimpse into James Cameron’s “Avatar 2,” due Dec. 16. This marks the long-awaited sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time. The sequel’s official title is “Avatar: The Way of Water.”…
(3) CORA BUHLERT NEWS. Best Fan Writer nominee Cora Buhlert’s Hugo Voter Packet submission is now online as a free download for those who want to check it out or get a headstart on their Hugo reading: 2022 Hugo Voter Packet.
(4) A RIVERDALE UPDATE. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] BEWARE SPOILERS. Riverdale is currently under the control of Percival Pickens, an evil British person who became mayor with the aid of Betty’s mother, Alice Cooper. Pickens has decided he wants Archie and the gang to return overdue library books, and if the characters don’t return an exact copy of the book they checked out decades ago they will have to pay thousands of dollars in fines and possibly serve prison time. He asks all of the characters to give him something personal as collateral–Archie’s guitar, Betty’s diary. Jughead offers to give up his signed copy of Don DeLillo’s Underworld, but instead gives a copy of a book written by his grandfather.
Pickens is a sorcerer who uses these personal treasures as tools to control Archie and his friends. Luckily Jughead uses his internet skills, and fans of Manhattan’s Strand Bookstore will find the Strand is namechecked here. Jughead finds copies of the overdue books, and Pickens returns the items. Cheryl Blossom says the only way to break the spell is for everyone to throw the possessed items in a fire and burn them.
Jughead doesn’t want to burn his grandfather’s book. “It’s a book and I won’t burn it,” he says. “What would Ray Bradbury say?”
(5) MERRIL COLLECTION PODCAST. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The new season of the Unknown Worlds of the Merril Collection podcast kicks off with host Oliver Brackenbury discussing sword and sorcery with Brian Murphy: “Sword & Sorcery”.
Upcoming subjects on the Unknown Worlds of the Merril Collection podcast are:
Folklore and the Four Winds Storytellers Library
New episodes drop every two weeks.
(6) LAUNCHING A MAGAZINE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] On his personal podcast So I’m Writing a Novel, Oliver Brackenbury interviews Nat Webb, who just started a new fantasy magazine: “Founding a Literary Magazine, with Nat Webb”.
Returning champion Nat Webb joins us to discuss his recent founding of a literary magazine, Wyngraf!
Their discussion covers alternate titles for the magazine, defining cozy fantasy & backpack fantasy, conflict in stories and other things that can drive story, writing delicious food scenes, the cozy fantasy scene on Reddit and elsewhere, getting into short stories, his first submission and rejection and what he learned from it all, self-publishing a novel, discovering a love for the technical side of publishing, taking submissions in for the first time, putting one of your own stories in your own magazine, being transparent about the numbers behind your business, paying forward all the writing advice you’ve been given, working with an artist on a cover commission, choosing to pay authors and how much, deciding how often to release new issues, the importance of actually finishing a project, knowing when to stop with a project, Legends and Lattes and other reading recs, refreshing sincerity vs ironic distance, “coffee shop AU” explained, “numbies” explained, how sometimes the thing you bang out quickly resonates with people far more than the thing you slaved over forever, ins and outs of the Kindle Select program, the merits of publishing flash fiction, and more!
(7) JEWISH HERITAGE IN HORROR. The Horror Writers Association blog has posted two more Q&As in one of its thematic interview series:
What has writing taught you about how to express your Jewishness or the experiences you’ve had as someone who is Jewish?
I have been writing about stories for as long as I can remember. As a student, I took many courses analyzing literature, and one thing that always came up was applying a “Jesus” lens to stories. As a kid who grew up in the Jewish tradition, spending 2 days a week at Hebrew school, and having most of my family’s social life revolve around the synagogue, I had to teach myself about Jesus in order to keep up in these classes and add to the discussion. Interestingly, I never thought of this as problematic; it was just the way things had to be, I thought. This is a common issue for those with marginalized identities; systemic oppression means we must conform, and yet we don’t question that we have to.
Do you make a conscious effort to include Jewish characters and themes in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
The book I wrote immediately after Bird Box is called Bring Me the Map, and with that one I was thinking in terms of “Jewish horror story.” I was thinking lofty then, that I might write the essential Jewish horror novel, as The Exorcist seems to be that for Catholics. But the book changed organically as it went, and became less about Judaism and more about this family affair, but still, Jewish characters, all. And one of my more recent books, Forever Since Breakfast, is absolutely Jewish-centric. I’m hoping both these books come out soon. And, yes, it was a conscious effort to highlight Jewish characters in both. No doubt. And it felt good to do so. I should probably examine what that means and do it more often.
(8) DELANY IN NYT. [Item by Steven Johnson.] “Samuel R. Delany’s Life in Books” is a feature/interview on Samuel Delany in the New York Times T Magazine, April 24. The quote I liked best: “My library makes me comfortable.” And I do not recall the anecdote about reading Bob Kane Batman comics at a critical age.
…Mr. Pérez was also at the helm of the 1986 reboot of Wonder Woman, which presented the character, who had originally appeared in 1941, as a new superheroine. His version was younger, and he leaned into the Greek mythology rooted in her origin story.
“Wonder Woman had to rise or fall based on me,” Mr. Pérez said in a telephone interview in December. “It was a great success that gave me an incredible sense of fulfillment.”
His editor on the series, Karen Berger, said in an email, “What set George apart on Wonder Woman was that he really approached the character from a woman’s perspective — I found her relatable and authentic.” Patty Jenkins, the director of the “Wonder Woman” films, cited this version of the character as an influence…
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1973 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-nine years ago, Soylent Green was in general distribution in the States. (It had premieres earlier in LA and NYC, respectively, on April 18th and April 19th.)
The film was directed by Richard Fleischer who had previously directed Fantastic Voyage and Doctor Doolittle, and, yes, the latter is genre. Rather loosely based off of Harry Harrison’s Make Room! Make Room! Novel, it starred Joseph Cotten, Chuck Connors, Charlton Heston, Brock Peters, Edward G. Robinson in his final film role, and Leigh Taylor-Young.
The term soylent green is not in the novel though the term soylent steaks is. The title of the novel wasn’t used according to the studio on the grounds that it might have confused audiences into thinking it a big-screen version of Make Room for Daddy. Huh? It’s worth noting that Harrison was not involved at all in the film and indeed was was contractually denied control over the screenplay.
So how was reception at the time? Definitely mixed though Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Tribune liked it: “Richard Fleischer’s ‘Soylent Green’ is a good, solid science-fiction movie, and a little more. It tells the story of New York in the year 2022, when the population has swollen to an unbelievable 80 million, and people live in the streets and line up for their rations of water and Soylent Green.”
Other were less kind. A.H. Weiler of the New York Times summed it up this way: “We won’t reveal that ingredient but it must be noted that Richard Fleischer’s direction stresses action, not nuances of meaning or characterization. Mr. Robinson is pitiably natural as the realistic, sensitive oldster facing the futility of living in dying surroundings. But Mr. Heston is simply a rough cop chasing standard bad guys. Their 21st-century New York occasionally is frightening but it is rarely convincingly real.“
Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a sixty percent rating. It was nominated for a Hugo at DisCon II, the year Sleeper won.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 9, 1920 — William Tenn. Clute says in ESF that “From the first, Tenn was one of the genre’s very few genuinely comic, genuinely incisive writers of short fiction, sharper and more mature than Fredric Brown and less self-indulgent in his Satirical take on the modern world than Robert Sheckley.” That pretty sums him up I think. All of his fiction is collected in two volumes from NESFA Press, Immodest Proposals: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume I and Here Comes Civilization: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume II. He’s very, very well stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 2010.)
Born May 9, 1920 — Richard Adams. I really loved Watership Down when I read it long ago so will not read it again so the Suck Fairy may not visit it. Are any of the various Watership animated affairs worth seeing? Reasonably sure I’ve read Shardik once but it made no impression one way or the the other. I have heard good things about Tales from Watership Down and should add it my TBR pile. (Died 2016.)
Born May 9, 1925 — Kris Ottman Neville. His most famous work, the novella Bettyann, is considered a classic of science fiction by no less than Barry Malzberg who wrote a detailed remembrance in Locus. He wrote four novels according to ISFDB over a rather short period of a decade and a number of short story stories over a longer period. Clute at EoSF says that “He was one of the potentially major writers of Genre SF who never came to speak in his full voice.” (Died 1980.)
Born May 9, 1926 — Richard Cowper. The Whit Bird of Kinship series is what he’s best remembered for and I’d certainly recommend it as being worth reading. It appears that all of here are available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 2002.)
Born May 9, 1936 — Albert Finney. His first genre performance is as Ebenezer Scrooge in Scrooge. That’s followed by being Dewey Wilson in Wolfen, a really deeply disturbing film. He plays Edward Bloom, Sr. In the wonderful Big Fish and voices Finis Everglot in Corpse Bride. He was Kincade in Skyfall. He was Maurice Allington in The Green Man based on Kingsley Amis’ novel of the same name. A deeply strange affair. Oh, and he played Prince Hamlet in Hamlet at the Royal National Theatre way back in the Seventies! (Died 2019.)
Born May 9, 1951 — Geoff Ryman, 71. His first novel, The Unconquered Country, was winner of the World Fantasy Award and British Science Fiction Association Award. I’m really intrigued that The King’s Last Song is set during the Angkor Wat era and the time after Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, grim times indeed for an SF novel. And let’s not overlook that The Child Garden which bears the variant title of The Child Garden or A Low Comedy would win the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best SF Novel.
Born May 9, 1979 — Rosario Dawson, 43. First shows as Laura Vasquez in MiB II. Appearances thereafter are myriad with my faves including being the voice of Wonder Woman in the DC animated films, Persephone in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and her take as Claire Temple across the entire Netflix Marvel universe. She played Ahsoka Tano on The Book of Boba Fett on Disney + in “From the Desert Comes a Stranger” which has led to her being the lead in upcoming Ahsoka Tano series on the same streaming service. (Editorial comment: I wish I liked the Star Wars universe well enough to subscribe to Disney + to see all of this stuff but I really don’t.)
… The initial response to The Fifth Element, which celebrates its 25th anniversary on May 7th, was divisive. It was recognized just as much at Cannes and the Oscars as it was the Razzies. Even those who appeared in its gleefully insane world have contrasting opinions, with Milla Jovovich hailing it as “one of the last hurrahs of epic filmmaking” and Gary Oldman admitting he “can’t bear it” and only signed up for the paycheck….
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In which SNL host Benedict Cumberbatch discovers the multiverse is real. At least in TV Land. “The Understudy”.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Steve Johnson, Cat Rambo, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]
I’m a death scholar and a sustainability researcher at a major tech company, so Cat Rambo’s “The Woman Who Wanted to be Trees” hit home. In the story, a death care worker is asked to memorialize clients in innovative ways, using cutting-edge technologies to blur the boundaries between life and death, and between humans and the natural world. For the past 15 years, I have been researching how people use technology to remember and communicate with the dead. My forthcoming book, Death Glitch: How Techno-Solutionism Fails Us in This Life and Beyond, explores the fundamental incompatibility between dreams of technologically mediated life extension and the planned obsolescence of material technologies….
(2) AUTHOR MAGNET. The inaugural Santa Fe Literary Festival will take place May 20-23, at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center in Santa Fe, NM. The authors who are scheduled to appear include Margaret Atwood, Sandra Cisneros, John Grisham, Joy Harjo, Anne Hillerman, Craig Johnson, Phil Klay, Jon Krakauer, Emily St. John Mandel, George R.R. Martin, N. Scott Momaday, James McGrath Morris, Douglas Preston, Rebecca Roanhorse, Bob Shacochis, Colson Whitehead and Don Winslow.
Besides author readings and book signings, the festival will feature meals during which chefs and food writers will talk about the food they’ve prepared, their work and their books; Walk & Talks, during which attendees and authors will together explore parts of Santa Fe; and Tea & Tequila, featuring tea and tequila tastings. On Monday, the last day of the festival, attendees will be able to go on literary day trips in Santa Fe and nearby areas in northern New Mexico.
In your short story “Mercy of the Wild,” you wrote from the viewpoint of a lion. What inspired that story?
“Mercy of the Wild” was a point of experimentation for me. I love to experiment with forms and styles or speculative fiction, and that was one such experiment that I was delighted to follow up on. The story was inspired by an almost childlike, wide-eyed curiosity about what goes on in the minds of the creatures we share the planet with. What if we heard their story, from the horse’s mouth so to speak. Or as the Igbo proverb says, “Until the lion learns to tell its story, the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” This got me wondering, what if the roles were reversed? Its telling impresses on me the need for people of diverse cultures to champion and find spaces for their stories to thrive in the world of today.
(4) GREAT LEAP FORWARD. Cora Buhlert was a guest on the Dickheads podcast (as in Philip K. Dick) and discussed “‘The Big Jump’ – Leigh Brackett” with Grant Warmack and host David Agranoff.
In the first episode of this podcast, Solar Lottery, David said he would someday do this episode. So four years later, in January of this year, he sat down with a couple of colleagues and discussed the lesser-known novel The Big Jump by Leigh Brackett. The pair of talents he was privileged to have here are newcomer to Leigh Brackett writer/music manager/tarot reader Grant Wamack and long time ‘Bracketteer’ teacher/translator/writer and three time Hugo nominee Cora Buhlert. Enjoy.
[Scott Oden:] I put out the call, a few days ago, for a few guest posts relating to the New Edge of Sword & Sorcery. And here is our first victim . . . er, participant. Oliver is a podcaster, a screenwriter, and a novelist; he’s also one of the organizers of the whole New Edge movement. Oliver, you have the floor . .
[Oliver Brackenbury]: …I’ve been in conversations like that before, in other scenes and settings, and I thought “Wouldn’t be nice if all this energy was directed at really changing the situation?”. So I proposed an open, yet specific question – “What could we do to get more young people into this genre we all love?”.
Now, I can take credit for asking the question, but I cannot take credit for the incredible amount of energy I unwittingly tapped into by asking it. The conversation that took off was galloping and enthusiastic and good-natured and productive and WOW!
A genre can grow dull. The accretion of old social mores — the misogyny, racism, and homophobia of bygone eras — can oxidize a genre, making it seem as graceless as a barnacle-encrusted hunk of metal drawn from the sea. A genre’s founders can (and will) die, leaving less-invested imitators to tease out only the surface tropes while its deeper meanings are lost to the ages. And, over time, that genre starts to become irrelevant to the world at large.
In today’s fiction market, this is largely the fate of sword-and-sorcery. Mainstream publishers are loath to market a work as S&S because they consider it a dead end market. Readers less concerned with genre labels use the term nowadays to describe any book with swordplay and magic, from Tolkien to Pratchett — and they’re unaware that it has (or had) a veryspecificmeaning. In short, the term sword-and-sorcery has lost its edge. It has rusted, and is stuck in a very old and problematic scabbard.
There is, however, a nascent movement that has started in the small press sphere to remove that blade from its sheath, to clean the rust from it, sharpen it on a grinding wheel, and fashion a new scabbard — one free from the old problems of the genre. That movement is called the NEW EDGE of S&S….
(6) SUBGENRE GETS NEWSLETTER SOURCE. There’s now also a free weekly sword and sorcery newsletter with the delightful name “Thews You Can Use” from Sword & Sorcery News. It just started.
This week’s Roundup will be a little different—not that you’d know, since it’s the first. Rather than covering the week in S&S news, I’ll go back over the last couple months. Here’s a quick roundup of S&S news from February through April….
Science fiction can have real policy impacts, and comes rife with real-life commentary. For the next, we have selected All Systems Red by Martha Wells.
The novel explores a spacefaring future in which corporate-driven exploratory missions rely heavily on security androids. In Wells’ engaging – at times funny – tale, one such android hacks its own system to attain more autonomy from the humans he is accompanying. The result is a thought-provoking inquiry into the evolving nature of potential human-robot relations.
Join Future Tense and Issues in Science and Technology at 6pm ET on Wednesday, June 1 to discuss the novel and its real-world implications. The book club will feature breakout rooms (they’re fun and stress-free, we promise) where we can all compare notes and share reactions, even if we didn’t finish the book (though we picked a short one this time!).
…In addition to Carell as General Mark Naird, the show also starred an A-list supporting cast of John Malkovich (Dr. Adrian Mallory), Ben Schwartz (F. Tony Scarapiducci), Tawny Newsome (Captain Angela Ali), Lisa Kudrow (Maggie Naird), and Diana Silvers (Erin Naird).
That group is chock full of talent, which may have been part of its downfall — according to THR, the show’s large budget was reportedly in part because of the actors’ salaries, with Carell getting over $1 million per episode. That much built in spending, along with mixed reviews for both seasons, apparently resulted in a failure for Space Force to (ahem) launch into a third season….
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1938 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Not his official appearance as Bugs Bunny that will happen in “A Wild Hare” on July 27, 1940. But a preliminary version of the character we now know as him first showed up in “Porky’s Hare Hunt” eighty-four years ago today. The Looney Tunes cartoon was directed by Ben “Bugs” Hardaway (do note his name) and an uncredited Cal Dalton. It stars Porky Pig as a hunter whose quarry is a rabbit named Happy. Yes, Happy.
Oh, I well know that most Bugs Bunny fans will tell you that July 27 is the day that he was created as that is the anniversary of the 1940 debut of the familiar rabbit and his adversary, Elmer Fudd. In that July debut people also heard for the first time Bugs’s famous line, “What’s up, Doc?”
But today is the real anniversary of the creation of this character. He first appeared on the theater short called as I noted above “Porky’s Hare Hunt.” Perhaps the reason people don’t recognize, or indeed want to credit him as that rabbit, is Bugs in that early cartoon was credited as Happy Rabbit. And admittedly it really looks pretty much like any rabbit save the smirking face, doesn’t it? Or does he?
It’s been uploaded to YouTube so go watch it. It may not look like him but it acts like him and it sounds like him. Several sources state that Mel Blanc voiced him here but the cartoon itself has no credits.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 30, 1930 — Bill Buchanan. A musician who was not a filker but might have been. Really. Truly. His most famous composition took place in 1956, when he and Dickie Goodman created the sound collage “The Flying Saucer”. They then did “The Flying Saucer Goes West” which is a lot of fun. A short time later, they would do “The Creature (From A Science Fiction Movie)” / “Meet The Creature (From A Science Fiction Movie)”. With other collaborators, he did such works as “Frankenstein Of ’59/Frankenstein Returns”. Checking iTunes, quite a bit of what he did is available. (Died 1996.)
Born April 30, 1938 — Larry Niven, 84. One of my favorites author to read, be it the Gil Hamilton the Arm stories, Ringworld, Protector, The Mote in God’s Eye with Jerry Pournelle (The Gripping Hand alas didn’t work for me at all), or the the Rainbow Mars stories which I love in the audiobook version as you know since I wrote an essay on them. What’s your favorite Niven story? And yes, I did look up his Hugos. “Neutron Star” was his first at NyCon followed by Ringworld at Noreascon 1 and in turn by “Inconstant Moon” (lovely story) the following year at L.A. Con I, “The Hole Man” (which I don’t remember reading) at Aussiecon 1 and finally “The Borderland of Sol” novelette at MidAmericaCon. He’s not won a Hugo since 1976 which I admit surprised me.
Born April 30, 1968 — Adam Stemple, 54. Son of Jane Yolen. One time vocalist of Boiled in Lead. (Which I just discovered has not released a recording in a decade. Damn.) He was the lead vocalist for Songs from The Gypsy which was based on The Gypsy, the novel written by Steven Brust and Meghan Lindholm. A truly great album. With Yolen, he’s written the Rock ‘n’ Roll Fairy Tales, Pay the Piper and Troll Bridge which are well worth reading, plus the Seelie Wars trilogy which I’ve not read. He’s also written two Singer of Souls urban fantasies which I remember as quite engaging.
Born April 30, 1973 — Naomi Novik, 49. She wrote the Temeraire series which runs to nine novels so far. Her first book, His Majesty’s Dragon, won her the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. She most deservedly won the Nebula Award for Best Novel for Uprooted which is a most excellent read. I’ve not yet read her Spinning Silver novelwhich won a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature, so opinions are welcome. She has a number of Hugo nominations starting at Nippon 2007 for His Majesty’s Dragon, then next at MidAmericaCon II for Uprooted, The Temeraire series at Worldcon 75. No wins yet which really, really surprises me. She’s twice been a finalist for Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book with A Deadly Education at DisCon III for and this year at Chicon 8 for The Last Graduate.
Born April 30, 1982 — Kirsten Dunst, 40. Her first genre role was as Claudio in Interview with the Vampire. Later genre roles include Judy Shepherd in Jumanji, voicing Christy Fimple in Small Soldiers, voicing Becky Thatcher in The Animated Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man franchise, voicing Kaena in Kaena: The Prophecy, and showing up on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Hedrilin in the “Dark Page” episode. She would have been nine years old in that episode!
Born April 30, 1985 — Gal Gadot, 37. Wonder Woman of course in the DC film universe. Other genre work, well, other than voicing Shank on Ralph Breaks the Internet, there really isn’t any. She did play Linnet Ridgeway Doyle in the Kenneth Branagh production Death on the Nile which is quite lovely but not genre adjacent, but I really don’t mind as they’re lovely mysteries. Oh, and she’s playing The Evil Queen in the forthcoming Snow White film.
Born April 30, 2003 — Emily Carey, 19. Yes, nineteen years old. She has had a lot of roles for her age. First she played the twelve-year-old Diana in Wonder Woman followed by playing the fourteen-year-old Lara in the rebooted Tomb Raider. And then she’s in Anastasia: Once Upon a Time in the lead role of Anastasia. She’s Teen Wendy Darling in the forthcoming The Lost Girls. She was in the genre adjacent Houdini and Doyle as Mary Conan Doyle, and finally she’s in the not-yet-released G.R.R. Martin’s House of the Dragon series as the young Alicent Hightower.
The Pasadena Chalk Festival began in 1993 after a summer intern at the Light Bringer Project attended a street painting festival in Paris and brought back her amazing pictures and observations. The first “Chalk on the Walk” took place at Centennial Square at Pasadena City Hall with over 150 visual artists participating in the first Los Angeles-area event. All proceeds went toward community arts programs and HIV/AIDS resources.
In 2010, The Pasadena Chalk Festival was officially named the largest street painting festival by the Guinness World Record, welcoming more than 600 artists using over 25,000 sticks of chalk and drawing a crowd of more than 100,000 visitors in one weekend.
(13) DON’T SAY PAY. The Florida legislature’s move to punish Disney for publicly opposing the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, also known as the “don’t say gay” bill fails to conform to other requirements of state law says the corporate giant: “Disney’s special tax district suggests its repeal is illegal” in the Miami Herald.
As Florida legislators were rushing through passage of a bill to repeal the special district that governs Walt Disney World last week, they failed to notice an obscure provision in state law that says the state could not do what legislators were doing — unless the district’s bond debt was paid off. Disney, however, noticed and the Reedy Creek Improvement District quietly sent a note to its investors to show that it was confident the Legislature’s attempt to dissolve the special taxing district operating the 39-square mile parcel it owned in two counties violated the “pledge” the state made when it enacted the district in 1967, and therefore was not legal. The result, Reedy Creek told its investors, is that it would continue to go about business as usual.
The statement, posted on the website of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board on April 21 by the Reedy Creek Improvement District, is the only public statement Disney has supplied since lawmakers unleashed their fury over the company’s vocal opposition to the “Parental Rights in Education” law, also known as the “don’t say gay” bill. The statement, first reported by WESH 2, quotes the statute which says, in part, that the “State of Florida pledges…it will not limit or alter the rights of the District…until all such bonds together with interest thereon…are fully met and discharged.”
… In essence, the state had a contractual obligation not to interfere with the district until the bond debt is paid off, said Jake Schumer, a municipal attorney in the Maitland law firm of Shepard, Smith, Kohlmyer & Hand, in an article for Bloomberg Tax posted on Tuesday and cited in a Law and Crime article.
The law passed by the Republican Legislature on a largely party-line vote, and signed into law by the Republican governor, either violates the contract clause of the Florida Constitution, or is incomplete, Schumer told the Herald/Times on Tuesday. If the Legislature wants to dismantle the Reedy Creek Improvement District, it has more work to do.
(14) FLY YOU FOOLS! J. Michael Straczynski would like to tell you about the worst musical he ever saw. Thread starts here.
Not to be confused with the prematurely canceled ’90s cartoon of the same name, Gargoyles starred B-movie tough guy Cornel Wilde (from The Naked Prey). The opening voiceover raises the stakes pretty high: In the aftermath of the war between God and Satan, a race of creatures climbs out of hell to terrorize mankind every few centuries. In the modern age, the gargoyles are relegated to myth and statues, leaving humans completely unprepared for their next onslaught.
Whoa. That sounds serious. Until you notice that the gargoyles reemerge in a desert that is surely within driving distance of the studio. And it takes only a handful of armed townsfolk to quell the apocalyptic uprising. But those minor details aside, this movie remains a guilty pleasure for my generation, in part because of the Emmy-winning makeup wizardry of Stan Winston. The gargoyles aren’t that scary, but they look pretty darn cool, and some of them even fly. And by “fly,” I mean “slowly lift off the ground with a barely concealed cable.”
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Alasdair Beckett-King meets the evil emperor, who wonders why the people don’t love him!
What do you do when you’ve seized power and/or purchased a large social media company? You monologue.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cliff.]