(1) THE NEW NUMBER ONE. The ever-widening circle of people who are hearing about the death of beloved sf author Greg Bear has resulted in File 770’s obituary notice “Greg Bear (1951-2022)” becoming the site’s most-read post ever. It passed 55,000 hits today.
Astrid Bear’s own comment on Facebook details what was in her glass:
I sit here near Seattle WA as the skies darken. It’s been an overcast day with occasional rain, so there is no hope of a golden sunset here at ground level. In my glass is a wee dram of Zaya rum from Trinidad and Tobago, one of Greg’s favorites. I am hearted to consider this toast rolling along the globe as sunset travels westward. I know people will be toasting in Australia, Europe, and the Americas, as each in their turn see the shadows draw long.
The memories of Greg will remain with those of us who knew and loved him for many years to come. His books will live on for many more years, even centuries. And that is a grand thing.
Tasting notes: a lot of caramel and vanilla. Almost crème brulee in a glass. The label says “Trinidad and Tobago/Land of the Hummingbird.” Greg loved watching the hummingbirds that come to our flowers and feeders, and he managed to get some very good photographs of them.
(3) BUTLER’S EARLY DAYS. E. Alex Jung chronicles “The Spectacular Life of Octavia E. Butler” at Vulture.
…In her family, Butler went by Junie, short for Junior, and in the world, she went by Estelle or Estella to avoid confusion for people looking for her mother. As a girl, she was shy. She broke down in tears when she had to speak in front of the class. Her youth was filled with drudgery and torment. The first time she remembered someone calling her “ugly” was in the first grade — bullying that continued through her adolescence. “I wanted to disappear,” she said. “Instead, I grew six feet tall.” The boys resented her growth spurt, and sometimes she would get mistaken for a friend’s mother or chased out of the women’s bathroom. She was called slurs. It was the only time in her life she really considered suicide.
She kept her own company. In her elementary-school progress reports, one teacher wrote that “she dreams a lot and has poor concentration.” That was true. She did dream a lot, and she began to write her dreams down in a large pink notebook she carried around with her. “I usually had very few friends, and I was lonely,” Butler said. “But when I wrote, I wasn’t.” By the time she was 10, she was writing her own worlds. At first, they were inspired by animals. She loved horses like those in The Black Stallion. When she saw an old pony at a carnival with festering sores swarmed by flies, she realized the sores had come from the other kids kicking the animal to make it go faster. Children’s capacity for cruelty stayed with her. She went home and wrote stories of wild horses that could shape-shift and that “made fools of the men who came to catch them.”…
(4) BRINGING THEM BACK TO LIGHT. Cora Buhlert’s new “Fancast Spotlight” is “Tales from the Trunk”.
Tell us about your podcast or channel.
Tales from the Trunk is a podcast about the stories that we, as writers, have had to give up on for one reason or another. Every episode, an author comes on to read a story out of their trunk, or in the case of book tour episodes to read an excerpt from a new or forthcoming release, and chat about the writing life, the reasons that some stories just don’t make it, and why every word you write is its own victory. Episodes come out on the first and third Friday of every month.
Who are the people behind your podcast or channel?
Tales from the Trunk is hosted and produced by author Hilary B. Bisenieks (that’s me). I’m joined each episode by a guest author who works in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and beyond….
(5) GOING HOG WILD. Cora Buhlert has also debuted another “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Pig Invasion’”.
… Now I have a soft spot for pigs in general and the villain Pig-Head is a delightfully goofy character, a pig with a Samurai-style helmet in the most mid 1980s colour scheme ever. So once I spotted him for a good price, I bought him.
Since I like taking photos of new arrivals, I made a short photo story to post on Twitter before Twitter goes belly-up altogether, something which is looking increasingly likely.
So let’s see what happens when Pig-Head invades Eternia….
(6) CLOUDS OF PUNK WITNESS. New Lines Magazine appears to have a -punk suffix movement issue, since they published articles about cyberpunk and solarpunk.
Twenty minutes into the future, the transformative effects of computers and networks necessitate that misfits, outcasts and dissenters living on the fringes rebel against the abuse of cutting-edge science and tech for pleasure, profit and power.
That may seem extreme, but if “Star Trek” and its ilk were the summations of the optimism of the Atomic Age, this is the logical conclusion to the nihilism of the Information Age — one where technology won’t usher in the world of tomorrow. One where the solutions of yesterday will be our undoing; one where we wish we had dismantled the system we now live in before it was too late.
- The article about Solarpunk is titled: “What if We Cancel the Apocalypse?”
…Enter Solarpunk. By its simplest definition, Solarpunk is a literary and art movement which imagines what the future could look like if the human species were actually to succeed in solving the major challenges associated with global warming, from reducing global emissions to overcoming capitalist economic growth as the primary motor of human society. These seemingly titanic tasks are actually pragmatic necessities dictated by scientific knowledge. We know, for example, that it is simply impossible to have infinite economic growth on a finite planet. And yet, this impossibility is exactly where we are still heading towards as a species…
(7) THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. Inverse speculates, “If Neanderthals had survived, this is what the world might look like now”.
For 99 percent of the last million years of our existence, people rarely came across other humans. There were only around 10,000 Neanderthals living at any one time. Today, there are around 800,000 people in the same space that was occupied by one Neanderthal. What’s more, since humans live in social groups, the next nearest Neanderthal group was probably well over 100 kilometers away. Finding a mate outside your own family was a challenge.
Neanderthals were more inclined to stay in their family groups and were wary of new people. If they had outcompeted our species (Homo sapiens), the population density would likely be far lower. It’s hard to imagine them building cities, for example, because they were genetically disposed to be less friendly to those beyond their immediate family…
(8) MEMORY LANE.
1968 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Charly
So let’s talk about the film that was based off a Hugo Award winning story.
Charly premiered fifty-four years ago on this date. It was based off “Flowers for Algernon” which is a short story and a novel by Daniel Keyes. The short story, written in 1958 and first published in the April 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, would win the Hugo Award for Best Short Story at Pittcon. The novel was published in 1966 and was the joint winner of that year’s Nebula Award for Best Novel with Samuel R. Delany’s Babel-17.
The scriptwriter for this film was Stirling Silliphant who is best remembered for his screenplay for In the Heat of the Night for which he won an Academy Award the previous year. Not genre but worth noting is he created the Perry Mason series.
The movie had an outstanding cast of Cliff Robertson, Claire Bloom, Leon Janney, Lilia Skala and Dick Van Patten.
I’m not going to detail the film here as I’m assuming y’all have seen, so no spoilers this time. May I say I found it a terribly depressing film and leave it at that?
It’s worth noting that the short story became “The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon”, a 1961 television adaptation for The United States Steel Hour in which Robertson had also starred. The UCLA Film & Television Archive has it legally up on YouTube so you can watch that version here.
William Goldman was to write the screenplay on the strength of his No Way to Treat a Lady novel and got $30,000 to write a screenplay. However, Cliff Robertson was pissed off with Goldman’s work and he hired to Silliphant write a draft which he found most satisfactory.
It was a hit by the studio, making eight times its budget of just a million dollars.
I think Vincent Canby, critic for the New York Times, summed it up best in saying that it is a: “self-conscious contemporary drama, the first ever to exploit mental retardation for…the bittersweet romance of it.” It is still way too depressing and ethically questionable for me, but that’s me. I’ll entertain other opinions of course.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born November 26, 1897 — Naomi Mary Margaret Mitchison, Baroness Mitchison, CBE (née Haldane). Author of many historical novels with genre trappings such as The Corn King and the Spring Queen and The Bull Calves but also new wave SF such as Memoirs of a Spacewoman, pure fantasy Graeme and the Dragon and an Arthurian novel in Chapel Perilous. (Died 1999.)
- Born November 26, 1919 — Frederik Pohl. Writer, editor, and fan who was active for more seventy-five years from his first published work, the 1937 poem “Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna” to his final novel All the Lives He Led. That he was great and that he was honored for being great is beyond doubt — If I’m counting correctly, magazines he edited won three Hugos, fiction he wrote won three Hugos and two Nebula Awards, and at the end of his career he circled back around and won the 2010 Best Fan Writer Hugo. His 1979 novel Jem, Pohl won a U.S. National Book Award in the one-off category Science Fiction. SWFA made him the 12th recipient of its Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 1993, and he was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998. OK, setting aside Awards which are fucking impressive, there’s the matter of him editing Astonishing Stories, Galaxy Science Fiction, Worlds of If, and Super Science Stories which were a companion to Astonishing Stories, plus the Star Science Fiction anthologies – and well let’s just say the list goes on. I’m sure I’ve not listed something that y’all like here. As writer, he was amazing. My favorite was the Heechee series though I confess some novels were far better than others. Gateway won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 1978 Locus Award for Best Novel, the 1977 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the 1978 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Very impressive. Man Plus I think is phenomenal, the sequel less so. Your opinion of course will no doubt vary. The Space Merchants co-written with Cyril M. Kornbluth in 1952 is, I think, damn fun. (Died 2013.)
- Born November 26, 1936 — Shusei Nagaoka. Artist and Illustrator from Japan who is best known for his music album cover art in the 1970s and 1980s. He designed covers for many of Earth, Wind and Fire’s albums, and many of his covers were very distinctively SFFnal; especially notable are Out of the Blue, by Electric Light Orchestra and When We Rock, We Rock, and When We Roll, We Roll by Deep Purple. His art also graced numerous genre books, including Tepper’s After Long Silence, Attanasio’s The Last Legends of Earth, and Reed’s Down the Bright Way. He helped to design the 1970 Osaka World’s Fair Expo, and had one of the first artworks which was launched into outer space and attained orbit, via the Russian Mir Space Station, in 1991. He won a Seiun Award for Best Artist in 1982. (Died 2015.) (JJ)
- Born November 26, 1940 — Paul J. Nahin, 82. Engineer and Writer of numerous non-fiction works, some of genre interest, and at least 20 SF short fiction works. Time travel is certainly one of the intrinsic tropes of SF, so certainly there should be at least one academic that specializes in studying it. Oh, there is: I present this Professor Emeritus of electrical engineering at the University of New Hampshire who has written not one, but three, works on the subject, to wit: Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction, Time Travel: A Writer’s Guide to the Real Science of Plausible Time Travel, and Time Machine Tales: The Science Fiction Adventures and Philosophical Puzzles of Time Travel. No mere dry academic is he, as he’s also had stories published in genre venues which include Analog, Omni, and Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine. (JJ)
- Born November 26, 1949 — Victoria Poyser-Lisi, 73. Artist, Illustrator, Teacher, and Fan who was inspired at the 1979 World Fantasy Convention to become a genre artist. She did more than a hundred covers and interior illustrations for fanzines, magazines, and books, and won two of her three Hugo Award nominations for Best Fan Artist. She now works in collaborative children’s book illustration and instructional painting books, and teaches drawing and painting courses in Colorado. (JJ)
- Born November 26, 1961 — Steve Macdonald, 61. Musician, Writer, Singer, Filker, and Fan. He served for several years as the Evangelista for the Pegasus Awards (the Filkers’ most prestigious awards, given out by the Ohio Valley Filk Fest), and was responsible for many changes in the award process that led to greater participation among the voting base. In 2001, he attended ten filk conventions around the world and recorded filkers singing “Many Hearts, One Voice”, a song he had composed; the tracks were merged electronically for the WorlDream project to celebrate the new millennium. He has won six Pegasus Awards, for Best Performer, Writer/Composer, Filk Song, Adapted Song, Dorsai Song, and Myth Song. He has been Filk Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2006, after which he emigrated to Germany to marry fellow filker Katy Droge, whom he had met eight years before at OVFF. (JJ)
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Mutts is one of the many comics paying tribute to Charles Schulz today on the 100th anniversary of his birth.
(11) MAKING NEW STAR WARS FANS. The conclusion of Andor has people raving (favorably). Here’s a transcript of NPR’s “Movie Review: ‘Andor’”. Beware spoilers.
…DEL BARCO: Showrunner Tony Gilroy created the show after working on “Rogue One” and having written movies such as “Michael Clayton” and the “Bourne Identity” franchise. For many years, he’s been fascinated with empires and revolutions throughout history.
GILROY: I mean, I have a library downstairs just on the Russian Revolution alone. I can go between the Montagnards and the Haitians and the ANC and the Irgun and the French Resistance and the Continental Congress. And literally, you could drop a needle throughout the last 3,000 years of recorded history, and it’s passion. It’s need. It’s people being swept away by betrayal and their own ability and failure to commit. And, oh, my God, it’s just everything.
DEL BARCO: Gilroy infused that kind of drama into “Andor,” and he’s been pleasantly surprised by the passionate reaction by critics and fans, even those like himself who were not necessarily hardcore “Star Wars” aficionados before….
(12) JPLRON. Space.com introduces listeners to “’Blood, Sweat & Rockets:’ Podcast series looks at colorful founders of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab”. The direct link to the podcast is: Blood, Sweat and Rockets.
The early years of rocketry weren’t all about horn-rimmed glasses and slide rules.
Some of the 20th century’s most important aerospace pioneers were incredibly colorful characters — folks like Jack Parsons, a handsome young chemist who conducted occult rituals with L. Ron Hubbard and sold bootleg nitroglycerine during the Great Depression.
Parsons’ many interests also extended to the nascent field of rocket science: He helped establish the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, which eventually became NASA’s lead center for robotic exploration.
…A new podcast called “Blood, Sweat & Rockets (opens in new tab)” delves into the lives and work of Parsons and his circle, which included fellow JPL co-founders Frank Malina and Theodore von Kármán. Some of these ambitious engineers, Parsons and Malina among them, were part of a group called the Suicide Squad. The name came from their aggressive approach to rocket research, as the podcast will doubtless detail….
(13) SHADES OF WEIRD TALES. Cora Buhlert has done a “Retro Review” for “’The Hanging of Alfred Wadham’ by E.F. Benson”, which she feels is “a not very good ghost story” that appeared in Weird Tales in 1929.
…In addition to satirical novels about upper class people being jerks, Benson also wrote a lot of ghost stories and this is what brought him to the attention of H.P. Lovecraft, who wrote admiringly about Benson’s work in “Supernatural Horror in Literature”, and finally to Weird Tales….
(14) SF SCREENPLAY CONTEST. The Geneva International Science in Fiction Screenplay Awards are taking entries through December 2. Full details at the link.
GISFSA is a science related and Sci-Fi screenplay contest based out of Geneva, Switzerland, sponsored by the local production company, Turbulence Films, and CineGlobe the film festival of the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research).
Our roots in scientific research and connections makes GISFSA the premiere science and sci-fi screenplay contest. We connect winners with the most reputable scientists in the world, who regularly advise on sci-fi pictures.
When submitting a screenplay, all content is analyzed through our sponsors at Scriptmatix, the industry’s leading content evaluation technology company.
For Screenplay Contests:
CONTEST ENTRIES receive analytics on their screenplay’s execution across multiple categories.
ENTRIES + ANALYSIS receive full analytics and evaluative write-ups….
(15) CAST(ING) OF HUNDREDS. “’The sheer scale is extraordinary’: meet the titanosaur that dwarfs Dippy the diplodocus” in the Guardian.
It will be one of the largest exhibits to grace a British museum. In spring, the Natural History Museum in London will display the skeleton of a titanosaur, a creature so vast it will have to be shoehorned into the 9-metre-high Waterhouse gallery.
One of the most massive creatures ever to have walked on Earth, Patagotitan mayorum was a 57-tonne behemoth that would have shaken the ground as it stomped over homelands which now form modern Patagonia. Its skeleton is 37 metres long, and 5 metres in height – significantly larger than the museum’s most famous dinosaur, Dippy the diplodocus, which used to loom over its main gallery.
…The remains of Patagotitan mayorum were uncovered in 2010 when a ranch owner in Patagonia came across a gigantic thigh bone sticking out of the ground. Argentinian fossil experts later dug up more than 200 pieces of skeleton, the remains of at least six individual animals.
Casts have been made of these bones by the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio in Trelew, Patagonia, and these form the skeleton that will go on display in London in March.
“The number of bones uncovered represents a treasure trove of material,” said Sinead Marron, the exhibition’s lead curator. “It means we now know a lot more about this species than we do about many other dinosaurs.”…
(16) GOOD NIGHT OPPY REVIEW. The New York Times shows why “This Mars Documentary Required Many Sols”.
Early in the documentary “Good Night Oppy,” footage from late 2002 shows Steve Squyres, clad in scrubs, staring down in quiet awe, his eyes welling up as he shakes his head in disbelief. Squyres, the principal investigator for NASA’s first Mars rover mission, is watching his babies take their first steps.
That at least is the sense one gets from the improbably sentimental journey at the core of this movie (which begins streaming Wednesday on Amazon Prime Video) about the Mars exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity (a.k.a. Oppy). Squyres vividly remembers experiencing this exact moment from the film.
“The first time it sort of came to life, it was a very, very moving experience,” he said recently over Zoom.
Squyres had long awaited the moment. A former geologist, he had worked on Mars exploration proposals for 10 years, including three failed submissions to NASA, before spending another six years, including three cancellations and revivals of the mission, building the machines.
As much as “Good Night Oppy” chronicles the depth of the human achievement behind the Mars rover mission — which was initially planned for a roughly 90-day stretch but instead lasted 15 years — the film is anchored most of all by a kind of pure devotion and connection to the rovers.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. How It Should Have Ended says this is “How Top Gun Maverick Should Have Ended”.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Francis Hamit, Jack William Bell, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lis Carey.]