It shows Michael Bishop’s “On the Street of the Serpents or, The Assassination of Chairman Mao, as Effected by the Author in Seville, Spain, in the Spring of 1992, a Year of No Certain Historicity” as #1, with 31 words.
My story is also 31 words … but his is 169 characters to my 161.
When I sold the story to Lightspeed, I asked on social media for input on long titles since the time that list was assembled, and no one came up with anything longer.
Edelman appeals to File 770 readers, “With your vast intellects… do you know of any?”
The gallery below contains the three-page list – click for larger images.
…In the October 2022 StatShot report, total revenues across all categories were listed as being down 9.3 percent over October 2021. As has happened throughout 2022, of course, observers look at year-over-year comparisons carefully, mindful that 2021 was the second year of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic‘s effects on the marketplace, both in the States and abroad….
(3) IRRESISTABLE TARGET. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] Slate’s book critic Laura Miller did something rather unfair(-ish) and did a review of the first chapter of a fantasy book that Ross Douthat, conservative NY Times columnist, is writing. I thought it contained some interesting points about how NOT to start a fantasy novel. “Ross Douthat’s fantasy novel: first chapter of The Falcon’s Children, reviewed.”
New York Times opinion columnist Ross Douthat recently revealed that he has written the first volume in a trilogy of fantasy novels. Titled The Falcon’s Children, it has not been a hit with the “reasonable list of reputable publishing houses” Douthat says he’s submitted it to. In an end-of-year what-the-hell mood, the author posted the prologue and first chapter to his otherwise dormant Substack. “Why,” New York magazine’s Choire Sicha asked on Twitter, “are publishers not desperate for Ross Douthat’s fantasy novel? History tells us this the one thing you actually do want a tortured moralizing Christian to write!” In keeping with Douthat’s good-faith request for feedback, here’s a good-faith critique that might help answer Sicha’s question…..
(4) FAAN VOTING BEGINS. Nic Farey today distributed The Incompleat Register 2022, the voters’ guide and pro forma ballot for the 2023 FAAn awards. Voting is open and continues until midnight (Pacific time) Friday March 10, 2023. The award recognizes work in fanzines.
The awards will be announced at Corflu Craic in Belfast, Northern Ireland on April 2 2023.
Voting is open to anyone with an interest in fanzines, membership in Corflu is not required.
…He likened the mechanics inside puppet heads to components of a Swiss watch. “Those heads are not much bigger than a ping-pong ball or a walnut,” he said, explaining that the animator moves the gears by putting a tiny tool into the character’s ear or the top of its head. “The gears are linked to the puppet’s silicone skin, enabling the animator to create the nuances you see on a big cinema screen,” he said.
The introduction of geared heads was part of a series of overlapping waves of innovation in stop-motion that brought visuals to the screen that had never been possible. Nick Park and the artists at the British Aardman Animations sculpted new subtleties into clay animation in “Creature Comforts” (1989) and “The Wrong Trousers” (1993). Meanwhile, Disney’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993) showcased the new technology of facial replacement. A library of three-dimensional expressions was sculpted and molded for each character; an animator snapped out one section of the face and replaced it with a slightly different one between exposures. Then the Portland, Ore.-based Laika Studios pushed this technique further, using 3-D printing to create faces, beginning with “Coraline” (2009).
For “Pinocchio,” which debuted on Netflix a few months after Disney released Robert Zemeckis’s partly animated version of the story, most of the puppets were built at ShadowMachine in Portland, where most of the film was shot. Candlewick, the human boy Pinocchio befriends in the film, “has threads set into the corners of his mouth which are attached to a double-barreled gear system,” explained Georgina Hayns, an alumna of Mackinnon and Saunders who was director of character fabrication at ShadowMachine. “If you turn the gear inside the ear clockwise, it pulls the upper thread and creates a smile. If you turn it anticlockwise, it pulls a lower thread which produces a frown. It really is amazing.”…
…The first wave of the mob breaks into the Capitol and ascends the stairs from the first floor to the second. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman backs up to the top of the steps to try and divert the marauders. Goodman tries to get the crowd to go left. Instead they go right, overrunning him, and happen upon Vice President Mike Pence, who’s just off the Senate Floor. It’s a disaster.
This a nearly-real scene from new, four-part comic series “1/6“ from Harvard law professor Alan Jenkins and author and activist Gan Golan. It’s a speculative telling of the January 6 insurrection and coup attempt in an oppressive and authoritarian world where the mob, and Donald Trump, succeeded. (You’ll be able to find it on Amazon, in comic shops and in book stores starting on Jan. 8.) …
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 6, 1905 — Eric Frank Russell. He won the first Hugo Award given for Best Short Story at Clevention in 1955 with “Allamagoosa”, published in the May 1955 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. Sinister Barrier, his first novel, appeared in Unknown in 1939, the first novel to appear there. What’s your favorite work by him? (Died 1978.)
Born January 6, 1954 — Anthony Minghella. He adapted his Jim Henson’s The Storyteller scripts into story form which were published in his Jim Henson’s The Storyteller collection. They’re quite excellent actually. Genre adjacent, well not really, but he did write an episodes of the excellent Inspector Morse series, “Driven To Distraction”. (Died 2008.)
Born January 6, 1955 — Rowan Atkinson, 68. An unlikely Birthday perhaps except for that he was the lead in Doctor Who and The Curse of Fatal Deathwhich I know did not give him the dubious distinction of the shortest lived Doctor as that goes to another actor although who I’ve not a clue. Other genre appearances were scant I think (clause inserted for the nitpickers here) though he did play Nigel Small-Fawcett in Never Say Never Again and Mr. Stringer in The Witches which I really like even if the author hates.
Born January 6, 1959 — Ahrvid Engholm, 64. Swedish conrunning and fanzine fan who worked on many Nasacons as well as on Swecons. Founder of the long running Baltcon. He has many fanzines including Vheckans Avfentyr, Fanytt, Multum Est and others. He was a member of Lund Fantasy Fan Society in the University of Lund.
Born January 6, 1960 — Andrea Thompson, 63. Her noted genre work was as the telepath Talia Winters on Babylon 5. Her first genre role was in Nightmare Weekend which I’ll say was definitely a schlock film. Next up was playing a monster in the short-lived Monsters anthology series. She had a one-off on Quantum Leap before landing the Talia Winters gig. Then came Captain Simian & The Space Monkeys. Really. Truly I’m not kidding. Her last genre role to date appears to be in the Heroes: Destiny web series.
Born January 6, 1969 — Aron Eisenberg. Nog on Deep Space 9. Way after DS9, he’d show up in Renegades, a might-be Trek series loaded with Trek alumni including Nichelle Nichols, Robert Beltran, Koenig and Terry Farrell. It lasted two episodes. Lifelong suffer of kidney disease, he died from it at just age fifty. (Died 2019.)
Born January 6, 1976 — Guy Adams, 47. If you’ve listened to a Big Finish audio-work, it’s likely that you are familiar with his writing as he’s done scripts for their Doctor, UNIT and Torchwood series among his many endeavors there. Not surprisingly, he’s also written novels on Doctor Who, Torchwood, Sherlock Holmes and so forth. I’ve read some of his Torchwood novels — they’re good popcorn literature.
(8) SHE-HULK. Marvel announces the next arc in author Rainbow Rowell’s run on She-Hulk will take things to the next level for the character’s 175th issue issue in April.
In the pages of her latest solo series, Jennifer Walters has reopened her law practice, took on some of her most intense cases yet, defeated a duo of new villains, and even found time for a new romance! But this April in SHE-HULK #12, She-Hulk’s promising new super hero journey will be threatened by a dangerous new archnemesis known as THE SCOUNDREL! Just in time for her 175th solo issue, She-Hulk will meet her match in a wild showdown that will have all her fans talking!
“Every issue that I get to write She-Hulk is a delight — but I’m especially honored to escort her to her 175th issue,” Rowell said. “One of things we’ve focused on is building up Jen’s narrative support structure… Giving her friends, colleagues, a love interest and her very own antagonists. The Scoundrel is an adversary tailor-made for Jennifer Walters. A lot of things come easily for Jen. Nothing about the Scoundrel is easy.”
…In a headier movie, there might be some misdirection. But M3gan (performed by Amie Donald) is clearly pure evil from the start. She’s a great heavy: stylish, archly wry, intensely watchful. Her wanton violence never gets graphic enough to lose a PG-13 rating. In early January, when prestige holiday fare tends to give way to trashier pleasures, a good monster and a sense of humor can be enough. This movie has both, and it makes up for a slow start, some absurd dialogue (“You didn’t code in parental controls?”) and a by-the-book conclusion….
(10) UK TOP BOX OFFICE TOP TEN FILMS OF 2022. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]SF2 Concatenation has just tweeted an advance post ahead of its Spring seasonal edition of its regular meta-analysis of 52 weekly top ten British Isles box office rankings: “Top Science Fiction Films – 2022”.
This is a box office analysis and so reflects the broader public interest in SF film and not that of SF fans. Scroll down the page on the latter link to see other (non-top ten) SF films of the year. Links to trailers are included.
…The play’s creators are Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, who also wrote “The Play That Goes Wrong”; the three will again star in their production. “Peter Pan Goes Wrong” features the same slapstick sensibility as the earlier play, but has a bit more character development, and an even crazier set.
“The fictional theater company is taking on a much more ambitious production, with flying, crocodiles and a revolving stage, and they put on the play with the same disastrous results,” Lewis said. “You get more behind the scenes into what’s going on with the characters, as well as all the farce and the madcap comedy.”…
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Michael J. Walsh, Nic Farey, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]
(1) LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] After a long drought, we get our second and third in the space of two days!
LL95 match day 22 Q3: What 1898 novel, famous in its own right, is also famous for its presentation in the October 30, 1938 installment of the CBS radio series “Mercury Theater on the Air”?
Filers no doubt will readily identify this as The War of the Worlds, and LLamas knew it too, with an 83% get rate.
Same match day, question 5: “SDCIWC” is an initialism common to many players of the roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons. Per the game’s original 1974 rules, the first four letters stand for Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Intelligence. What do either of the final two letters stand for?
This was Wisdom or Charisma. Get rate was 65%, with 6% of players giving the most common wrong answer “Courage”.
The Federal Trade Commission, in one of the most aggressive actions taken by federal regulators in decades to check the power of the tech industry’s giants, on Thursday sued to block Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of the video game maker Activision Blizzard.
The F.T.C. said that the deal would harm consumers because Microsoft could use Activision’s blockbuster games like Call of Duty to lure gamers from rivals. The agency’s commissioners voted 3to 1 to approve filing the suit.
The decision is a blow to the expansion of Microsoft’s video game business, which has become its most important consumer unit and topped $16 billion in annual sales during the most recent fiscal year. For the F.T.C. chair, Lina Khan, a legal scholar who rocketed to fame after she wrote an article criticizing Amazon, the lawsuit will test whether her aggressive plan to rein in the power of Big Tech can survive in the courts….
(3) YOUNG WOLVES. Wolf Pack, the newest release by Edo van Belkom, is the inspiration behind a new TV series coming to Paramount+ on January 26, 2023.
Nothing gets between a wolf and its pack…
Most of the time, Noble, Argus, Harlan and Tora are like any other teenagers. Prowling the halls of their high school in search of new crushes and true friendships, all while trying to keep up their grades. Except these teens are anything but ordinary…
Discovered as wolf cubs in the wilderness of Redstone Forest, the pack knows their adoptive parents are the only humans they can trust with their shape-shifting secret. So whenever the siblings want to wolf around, they race to the forest to run—and relish their special bond. Until the terrible day a TV crew films their shocking transformation—and Tora is captured by a scientist determined to reveal her supernatural abilities to the world.
Now the brothers will do anything to get their sister back. Even if it means taking their powers to a whole new level by becoming werewolves for the very first time–something their parents warned them never to attempt. But once the teens go to the dark side, will they ever make it back to the only life they’ve ever known?
Bram Stoker and Aurora Award-winner Edo van Belkom is the author of over 200 stories of horror, science fiction, fantasy, and mystery. As an editor, he has four anthologies to his credit that include two books for young adults, Be Afraid! (A Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book of the Year finalist) and Be Very Afraid! (An Aurora Award winner — Best Work in English).
Teenagers have always found ways around doing the hard work of actual learning. CliffsNotes date back to the 1950s, “No Fear Shakespeare” puts the playwright into modern English, YouTube offers literary analysis and historical explication from numerous amateurs and professionals, and so on. For as long as those shortcuts have existed, however, one big part of education has remained inescapable: writing. Barring outright plagiarism, students have always arrived at that moment when they’re on their own with a blank page, staring down a blinking cursor, the essay waiting to be written.
Now that might be about to change. The arrival of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, a program that generates sophisticated text in response to any prompt you can imagine, may signal the end of writing assignments altogether—and maybe even the end of writing as a gatekeeper, a metric for intelligence, a teachable skill.
If you’re looking for historical analogues, this would be like the printing press, the steam drill, and the light bulb having a baby, and that baby having access to the entire corpus of human knowledge and understanding. My life—and the lives of thousands of other teachers and professors, tutors and administrators—is about to drastically change….
Two major Pinocchio films premiered this year, but it isn’t too difficult to tell them apart. One of them is Robert Zemeckis’s live-action remake of the 1940 Walt Disney cartoon, with Tom Hanks as a cuddly Geppetto, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt providing the voice of Jiminy Cricket. The other, directed by Guillermo del Toro, has Geppetto’s flesh-and-blood son being killed by a World War Two bomb, Geppetto (David Bradley) carving a wooden boy in a drunken fury, and Mussolini’s fascists ruling over Italy. And then there are the deaths, plural, of the title character. “Pinocchio dies in our film three or four times,” del Toro tells BBC Culture, “and has a dialogue with Death, and Death teaches him that the only way you can really have a human existence is if you have death at the end of it. There are roughly 60 versions of Pinocchio on film, and I would bet hard money that that doesn’t exist in any of the other 60.”…
(6) GARY FRIEDKIN (1952-2022). Actor Gary Friedkin, who made his film debut as a four-foot-tall Munchkin in the 1981 comedy Under the Rainbow, died December 2 of Covid complications. His other genre appearances include, uncredited, in Blade Runner and as an Ewok in Return of the Jedi.
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1994 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Dorothy L Sayers
Now we have a statue of a mystery writer which you will notice includes her SJW credential.
The statue of Dorothy L Sayers and stands in Newland Street, Witham, opposite the Witham Library, and also opposite her house.
The statue was cast in bronze, about six and feet tall tall, by the Ardbronze Foundry and designed by John Doubleday, the sculptor who did the Sherlock Holmes sculptures we talked about in the Scroll last night. It was erected in 1994.
An amusing note: several commenters online say that you can see that quite a few children and even adults like to pet Blitz, Sayer’s feline companion — he is now quite shiny on top!
A very, very not amusing note: it was privately funded through sale of much smaller statues as the British government didn’t think she was worthy of have a statue and wouldn’t fund it saying that she lacked literary worth. Fans of Ngaio Marsh need not apply.
The plinth bears the inscription: Dorothy L. Sayers 1893 – 1957 and the name John Doubleday, Sculptor with the foundry name.
Witham Library holds a reference collection of all of her works, press-clippings, all of her reviews and letters in the Dorothy L Sayers Centre, which is jointly managed by Essex Libraries and the Dorothy L Sayers Society, and which is held in a specially outfitted room on the upper floor.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 10, 1815 — Ada Lovelace. English mathematician and writer, principally known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Genre usage includes William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine and S.M. Stirling’s The Peshawar Lancers. (Died 1852.)
Born December 10, 1824 — George MacDonald. Scottish author I think best known for Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women and The Princess and The Goblin. His writings have been cited as a major literary influence by many notable authors including C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, G. K. Chesterton and Madeleine L’Engle to name but a few who mention him. The Waterboys titled their Room to Roam album after a passage in Phantastes. (Died 1905.)
Born December 10, 1903 — Mary Norton. Author of The Borrowers which won the 1952 Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognizing the novel as the year’s outstanding children’s book by a British author. She would continue to write these novels for three decades with Hallmark turning it into a film in the early seventies. Her novels The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons and Bonfires and Broomsticks would be adapted into the Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks in the same period. (Died 1992.)
Born December 10, 1907 — Graves Gladney. An illustrator known for his cover paintings for Street & Smith pulp magazines, especially The Shadow. He produced all the covers from April 1939 to the end of 1941, and here’s one of his covers from June 1st, 1939. It’s worth noting that when he replaced The Shadow‘s cover artist George Rozen who did a more fantastical approach to the covers, Gladney depicted an actual scene that Walter Gibson had written in a story inside. (Died 1976.)
Born December 10, 1927 — Anthony Coburn. Australian writer and producer who spent most of his career living and working in the U.K. He was closely involved in the earliest days of Who to the extent that it’s believed it was his idea for the Doctor’s travelling companion, Susan, to be The Doctor’s granddaughter. He wrote four scripts for the show, of which only An Unearthly Child was used. (Died 1977.)
Born December 10, 1953 — Janny Wurts, 69. Illustrator and writer. She’s won three Chesley Awards, plus a HOMer Award for her Servant of the Empire novel. I strongly recommend the Empire trilogy that she co-authored with Raymond E. Feist, and her excellent That Way Lies Camelot collection was nominated for a BFA.
Born December 10, 1984 — Helen Oyeyemi, 38. I like it when a Birthday results in my adding to my audiobook listening list. She’s resident in Prague now and her take on European folktales that surround her there is particularly sharp in Mr. Fox, which was nominated for an Otherwise Award, off that well known tale. And White is for Witching has all the makings of a damn fine haunted house story. Now one should not overlook her Icarus Girl, her first novel, which is fascinating. I’ve not encountered Gingerbread, her latest novel.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
The Flying McCoys shows a 20th Century answer to a 19th predicament that may not end as well for Tiny Tim.
Tom Gauld gives season’s greetings to a UFO.
In another cartoon, Tom Gauld renders a brutal translation of a familiar academic conversation.
The Perseverance rover has investigated the floor of Jezero crater on Mars, finding that it consists of igneous rocks that were modified by reactions with liquid water (aqueous alteration). Scheller et al. used the rover to perform Raman and fluorescence spectroscopy of rocks at two locations within the crater. They identified the presence of organic molecules, including aromatics with one and two benzene rings. The presence of perchlorates allowed the authors to set a limit of more than 2 billion years for the last time water filled the crater. Carbonates and sulphates were also found. The results demonstrate that the rocks in Jezero crater contain a record of ancient organic geochemistry.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, David Goldfarb, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
(1) DRACULA DAILY. AudioFile’s Audiobook Break podcast has been sharing Dracula with audiobook listeners over the last weeks.
Embrace spine-tingling chills and vampiric horrors with AudioFile’s Audiobook Break podcast! In October, narrator Gildart Jackson and Dracula Daily’s Matt Kirkland joined AudioFile’s Michele Cobb to chat about the lasting impact of Bram Stoker’s DRACULA in pop culture, why they both loved serializing the timeless vampire story for their audiences, and more. Watch their discussion below—and start listening to DRACULA today.
Gildart Jackson narrates hisFireside Reading of Dracula with undisguised delight, letting listeners enjoy a masterpiece of horror on audio. Gildart has narrated more than 300 audiobooks and won multiple awards, and since Covid lockdowns began, he has been offering free daily Fireside Readings of classic books on Instagram and YouTube. Gildart’s entire family works on Fireside Readings—Gildart reads, Melora directs, Rory draws the illustrations, and Piper writes and performs the songs. It’s a true family affair.
Matt Kirkland’s Dracula Daily email newsletter has become “the internet’s biggest book club.” Matt shares how during the early days of Covid, he and his daughter realized how Bram Stoker’s epistolary tale is told through letters and diary entries throughout a summer and fall, and Dracula Daily was born. Now fans check their email messages with bated breath hoping for missives from all of Dracula’s characters, reordered as they occur chronologically in the novel.
The audiobook will be ending on the podcast mid-month, but will stay up for people to listen to all the way through the end of the year. Listeners can follow along with DRACULA on our FREE Audiobook Break podcast now, with new chapters arriving every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Subscribe here.
(2) GUNN CENTER VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB. The Gunn Center for the Study of SF’s (CSSF) monthly virtual book club will meet on November 18. For Native American Heritage Month, the Center has chosen Rebecca Roanhorse’s Black Sun, the first of the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, a high fantasy epic inspired from histories and civilizations from pre-Columbian America.
To join their virtual meeting on November 18th at noon (Central Time), register here. This programming is running all year, click here to see what’s in the Book Club’s future.
(3) RECREATIONAL POETRY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times, behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Poetry Games, an exhibition at the National Poetry Library (nationalpoetrylibraryorg.uk) through January 15.
Writers have long experimented with games as part of their practice, notably the Francophone Oulipo group, whose member Georges Perec wrote his 300-page 1969 novel La Disparition without using the letter ‘e’. Now, however, everyone can participate in the playfulness of writing. There’s a poetic spin on Jenga by Astra Papachristodoulou, where you pull out blocks bearing words to construct a poem. And Jn Stone and Abigail Parry’s Adversary, which asks players to build poems out of word cards. Just try to avoid the Writer’s Block’ card which says, sympathetically, ‘It happens to all of us.’
There are also digital games such as Gemma Mahadeo and Ian McLarry’s If We Were Allowed To Visit, a navigable 3D space where every object is made of words, poetic fragments that shift as you move. Philippe Grenon’s Émile Et Moi is a simple platformer in which you jump between words to build a poem. After hopping around for a while, I had made, ‘another day swells air-bridged and downy/golden the night and glittering my works/dream rai sways alongside.’ Not bad, but perhaps not great poetry.
(4) MANCHESTER ENGLAND ENGLAND. Rob Hansen has added a section on “SUPERMANCON (1954)”, the British National SF Convention, to his fanhistory website THEN with a lot of old photos.
The 1954 British National SF Convention was held at the Grosvenor Hotel in Manchester, over the Whitsun weekend, Saturday 5th – Sunday 6th June (after this, the national convention would be held over Easter weekends).
(5) THE VERY “SPACIAL” FRIENDSHIP OF BUSTER CRABBE. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] When I was a little kid, prior to the Civil War, I had an imagination as fertile and as wide as my large brown eyes, dreamily filled with awe and wonder. My dad brought home our first television set in 1950.
Here is an affectionate remembrance of the Saturday Matinee and 1950’s Philadelphia television when classic cliffhanger serials thrilled and excited “children of all ages”… when careening spaceships and thundering hooves echoed through the revered imaginations and hallowed corridors of time and memory…and when Buster Crabbe lovingly brought “Flash Gordon,” “Buck Rogers,” “Red Barry,” and “Captain Gallant Of The Foreign Legion” to life in darkened movie palaces, and on television screens, all over the world.
… He started working in the comics industry at age 16, first as an office assistant for children’s humor comic Buster. He eventually made his way to publisher 2000 AD, where he was both a writer and illustrator. Its stable of titles includes Judge Dredd and Nemesis the Warlock, which O’Neill created with Mills.
The British artist worked as a Disney Comics colorist among other jobs before joining DC Comics. It was at DC that he began getting recognition with a stint on “The Omega Men.” He also worked on Alan Moore’s stories for the “Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual” in 1986….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
2008 — [By Cat Eldridge.]Doctor Who’s “The Unicorn and The Wasp”
Ok, this is simply my look at a favorite episode of Doctor Who which aired in May of 2008.
If you haven’t seen this episode, go away now. Really. Truly. Everything that follows is spoilers in the extreme.
SPOILERS ALL THE WAY DOWN
One of my favorites of the newer episodes of this series is a country house mystery, “The Unicorn and The Wasp”, featuring a number of murders and, to add an aspect of meta-narrative to the story, writer Agatha Christie at the beginning of her career. It would riff off her disappearance for ten days which occurred just after she found her husband in bed with another woman. Her disappearance is a mystery that has never been satisfactorily answered to this day. Or it has depending on your viewpoint.
Needless to say, the Doctor and Donna Noble arrived in the TARDIS at the grounds of the country house just before afternoon cocktails. The Doctor (David Tennant, my favorite of the new Doctors) uses his psychic power to convince The Lady of The Manor that she has met them previously and invited them for the weekend.
A murder will soon happen when Professor Plum is killed in The Library with a lead pipe. Yes, a Clue board game reference which his plucky companion (Catherine Tate) gleefully notes. And so it goes for the entire episode in a rather delightful manner. It’s silly, it’s fast-paced, and it’s one of the most British episodes that the new Who does. And it’s one that shows how clearly this series is fantasy, not SF.
The Unicorn of the title is simply the code name of an infamous jewel thief, but The Wasp of the title is a wasp, a bloody big one on that. A wasp that’s the love child of a shape shifting alien who made Her Ladyship pregnant in India forty years ago. A wasp that’s so big that it couldn’t survive in Earth’s gravity, but this is fantasy after all. (I firmly believe that almost all science fiction is fantasy — some are just more blatant about it.) And do keep an ear out for the many, many references to the novels Christie wrote.
A delightful romp which fits very nicely into the genre of Manor House mysteries which of course the future Dame Agatha would write a few herself. Oh and Agatha Christie was played by Fanella Woolgar, who was cast at the urging of Tennant who may or may not have known that the actress had appeared in the Poirot series several years previously.
Unfortunately it is now streaming only on Disney +, isn’t it?
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 9, 1921 — Alfred Coppel. Have I ever mentioned how much I love pulp? Of course I have. Everything from the writers to the artwork to the magazines themselves are so, so cool. And this writer was one of the most prolific such authors of the Fifties and Sixties. That he was also a SF writer is an added bonus. Indeed, his first science fiction story was “Age of Unreason” in a 1947 Amazing Stories. Under the pseudonym of Robert Cham Gilman, he wrote the Rhada sequence of galactic space opera novels aimed at a young adult market. Wiki claims he wrote under the A.C. Marin name as well but I cannot find any record of this. (Died 2004.)
Born November 9, 1924 — Larry Shaw. A Hugo Award-winning fan, author, editor and literary agent. In the Forties and Fifties, Larry Shaw edited Nebula, Infinity Science Fiction and Science Fiction Adventures. He received a Special Committee Award during the 1984 Worldcon for lifetime achievement as an editor. (Died 1985.)
Born November 9, 1938 — Carol Carr. Fan and writer of note. Her participation in the so-called secret APA Lilapa, and articles in the Innuendo, Lighthouse and Trap Door fanzines is notable. She wrote a handful of genre fiction, collected in Carol Carr: The Collected Writings. Mike has an obit here. (Died 2021.)
Born November 9, 1947 — Robert David Hall, 75. Best known as coroner Dr. Albert Robbins M.D. on CSI, but he has quite as few genre credits. He voiced Dinky Little in the animated Here Come the Littles, both the film and the series, the cyborg Recruiting Sargent in Starship Troopers, voice of Colonel Sharp in the G.I. Joe series, Abraham in The Gene Generation, a biopunk film, and numerous voice roles in myriad DCU animated series. He was the voice of Colonel Sharp in the G.I. Joe series, Abraham in The Gene Generation, a biopunk film, and numerous voice roles in myriad DCU animated series. Interesting note: in Starship Troopers he has no right arm, but in real life he lost both of his legs at age thirty-one when they had to be amputated as a result of an accident in which an 18-wheeler truck crushed his car.
Born November 9, 1954 — Rob Hansen, 68. British fan, active since the Seventies who has edited and co-edited numerous fanzines including his debut production Epsilon. And he was the 1984 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate. His nonfiction works such as Then: Science Fiction Fandom in the UK: 1930-1980, last updated just a few years ago, are invaluable, as is his fanhistory website.
Born November 9, 1971 — Jamie Bishop. The son of Michael Bishop, he was among those killed in the Virginia Tech shooting. He did the cover illustrations for a number of genre undertakings including Subterranean Online, Winter 2008 and Aberrant Dreams, #9Autumn 2006. The annual “Jamie Bishop Memorial Award for an Essay Not in English” was established as a memorial by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. (Died 2007.)
Born November 9, 1988 — Tahereh Mafi, 34. Iranian-American whose Furthermore is a YA novel about a pale girl living in a world of both color and magic of which she has neither; I highly recommend it. Whichwood is a companion novel to this work. She also has a young adult dystopian thriller series.
Born November 9, 1989 — Alix E Harrow, 33. May I note that her short story with one of the coolest titles ever, “Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”, won a Hugo at Dublin 2019. Well I will. And of course her latest novel, The Once and Future Witches, has an equally cool title. It won the BFA Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel.
(9) OH NOES! Oh no for the “oh no” comic. Twitter thread about the litigation starts here.
Lin-Manuel Miranda will have a key guest-starring role on Disney+’s upcoming series Percy Jackson and the Olympians, based on Rick Riordan’s bestselling book series. Deadline reported that Miranda, who, along with his son, is a fan of the Percy Jackson books, “will play Hermes, the messenger god who looks out for travelers and thieves, and is a bit of a trickster himself.”
The neighborhood is a wild card, and moving there is bound to be expensive. But one of the best options for shelter when humans finally make it to the red planet will be subterranean caves. These rocky hollows, which exist in droves on both Earth and the moon, are natural buffers against the harsh conditions of Mars.
In a presentation this month at the Geological Society of America Connects 2022 meeting in Denver, researchers pinpointed nine leading cave candidates worthy of future exploration. All of these grottos appear to extend at least some distance underground, and they’re close to landing sites accessible to a lightweight rover.
These structures would offer a respite from the challenging Martian environment, said Nicole Bardabelias, a geoscientist at the University of Arizona. “Everything at the surface is subject to harsh radiation, possible meteorite or micrometeorite bombardment and really large day-to-night temperature swings,” she said.
To home in on Mars’ most sought-after real estate, Ms. Bardabelias and her colleagues consulted the Mars Global Cave Candidate Catalog. This compendium, based on imagery collected by instruments aboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, inventories over 1,000 candidate caves and other peculiar-looking features on Mars. (Think of it as the first Martian multiple listing service.)…
(12) YOU MAY THINK YOU KNOW THIS STORY. So the cricket says. Netflix dropped this trailer for Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio today.
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Hampus Eckerman, Steve Vertlieb, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]
(1) CLARION WEST AUCTION AND GALA. The Clarion West After Dark 2022 Auction is open until October 21 at 9:00 PM Pacific Time. You must register for the event to begin bidding on auction items. Clarion West After Dark is a fundraising event and auction created to help support Clarion West’s year-round speculative program.
Clarion West board member Yang-Yang Wang (Dungeon Scrawlers) will serve as DM for a One Shot Dungeons & Dragons adventure (a single self-contained adventure) with author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart A Doorway, X-Men) and up to 3 of your friends.
Nisi Shawl is an award-winning author of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. They also make delectable, unique, and magical teas. Spend time with Nisi learning how they buy, dry, cut, stir, and steep the best cup of tea. Join Nisi at the home of board member Susan Gossman in Queen Ann.
Includes a signed copy of Nisi’s book Everfair.
There will also be a livestreamed Clarion West After Dark 2022 event on YouTube on October 21 at 7:00 p.m. Pacific with Special Guest Author Daniel J. Abraham. Register at the link.
Join us as we journey across the dark expanse of space for a night of celebration, imagination, and inspiration. Clarion West is all about stories, and our story is like a generation ship: students become instructors and scholarship recipients become donors, powering this journey across time and space as we go boldly into the creation of wild and amazing worlds.
(2) SFBC’S PROMO ART RARITIES. The fourth installment of Doug Ellis’ look at the art from the Science Fiction Book Club’s Things to Come bulletin is now available; this one covers 1964-1966 and includes seldom seen work by Virgil Finlay. “The Art Of Things To Come, Part 4: 1964-1966” at Black Gate.
…As I’ve noted in prior installments, the artists who contributed to these early bulletins are often unidentified. That’s usually the case during this period as well.
The notable exception to that rule is the great Virgil Finlay, who kicks off our tour with his illustration for Fifth Planet by Fred Hoyle and his son, Geoffrey Hoyle (misspelled as Goeffrey) from the Winter and March 1964 issue of the bulletin. The original of this lovely piece still exists in a private collection….
(3) PARAMOUNT PLUS HALF PRICE DEAL. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Paramount Plus, where the new Star Trek shows (and some of the older ones) are available, is having a “temporary promotion” (not clear how that differs functionally from “a sale.” (Note: “Offer ends 11/3/22.”)
In particular (as in, the one I just went for), Paramount Plus’ with-ads version has a half-off year offer ($24.99 instead of $49.99). (And other offers which I ignored, because of lack of interest or frugality. We enjoyed no-ads on a previous promotion, which, when it expired, I cancelled our subscription.)
(1) As HowToGeek cautions, “The only catch is that the subscription auto-renews, and the low price is only for the first year”.
If you don’t want to lose track and accidentally get auto-renewed, at full price, in a year, consider cancellation after, say, a month. (If you were able to get the free trial period, make sure you’re a few days past that.)
Paramount says: “If you cancel your subscription, the cancellation will go into effect at the end of your current subscription period, as applicable. You will have continued access to the Paramount+ Service for the remainder of your paid subscription period.”
However, I didn’t see this offered in the actual subscribing process or the near-immediate confirmations from Paramount. I just did a Chat with Paramount customer service; they said I should have received an email with a PIN (didn’t comment whether that related to the promised Fire Stick), and will cause a new message-with-PIN to get sent to me.)
Even if you don’t need one for everyday use, if you’re actually travelling (within the US), it might be a convenient take-along.
(4) SCHULZ CENTENNIAL. Just to remind you, the new issue of Charles M. Schulz / Peanuts stamps is now available from the USPS.
New stamps salute the centennial of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz (1922–2000) whose “Peanuts” characters are some of the best known and most beloved in all of American culture. For five decades, Schulz alone wrote and drew nearly 18,000 strips, the last one published the day after he died. Each character reflects Schulz’s rich imagination and great humanity. His resonant stories found humor in life’s painful realities including rejection, insecurity and unrequited love.
In a celebratory mode, characters from “Peanuts” adorn 10 designs on this pane of 20 stamps and form a frame around a 1987 photograph of Schulz.
Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps from Schulz’s artwork and an existing photograph by Douglas Kirkland.
(5) DOCTOR WHICH. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Leslie S. Klinger provides background on Robert Louis Stevenson for a new edition of Dr Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.
… While RLS’s fiction never flagged in popularity, he was shunned by the critics for a long period. His work was excluded from major anthologies for much of the twentieth century. Today, however, he is highly regarded by academia as an original voice, an artist with a wide range of interests and insights, no longer to be relegated to the shelves of children’s literature or horror fiction. In 2004, the Journal of Stevenson Studies began publication, with an impressive editorial board and a mission: “The Journal of Stevenson Studies (JSS) is committed to the study and wider consideration of the work of Robert Louis Stevenson as a popular writer with an original and unique insight into the moral, psychological and cultural ambiguities of the modern world. This is the Stevenson admired by authors like Henry James, Graham Greene and Jorge Luis Borges….
N.K. Jemisin is a fantasy and science-fiction writer who won three consecutive Hugo Awards — considered the highest honor in science-fiction writing — for her “Broken Earth” trilogy; she has since won two more Hugos, as well as other awards. But in imagining wild fictional narratives, the beloved sci-fi and fantasy writer has also cultivated a remarkable view of our all-too-real world. In her fiction, Jemisin crafts worlds that resemble ours but get disrupted by major shocks: ecological disasters, invasions by strange, tentacled creatures and more — all of which operate as thought experiments that can help us think through how human beings could and should respond to similar calamities.
Jemisin’s latest series, which includes “The City We Became” and “The World We Make,” takes place in a recognizable version of New York City — the texture of its streets, the distinct character of its five boroughs — that’s also gripped by strange, magical forces. The series, in addition to being a rollicking read, is essentially a meditation on cities: how they come into being, how their very souls get threatened by forces like systemic racism and astronomical inequality and how their energies and cultures have the power to rescue and save those souls.
I invited Jemisin on the show to help me take stock of the political and cultural ferment behind these distressing conditions — and also to remember the magical qualities of cities, systems and human nature. We discuss why multiverse fictions like “Everything Everywhere All at Once” are so popular now, how the culture and politics of New York and San Francisco have homogenized drastically in recent decades, Jemisin’s views on why a coalition of Black and Latinx voters elected a former cop as New York’s mayor, how gentrification causes change that we may not at first recognize, where to draw the line between imposing order and celebrating the disorder of cities, how Donald Trump kept stealing Jemisin’s ideas but is at the root a “badly written character,” whether we should hold people accountable for their choices or acknowledge the way the status quo shapes our decision-making, what excites Jemisin about recent discoveries about outer space, why she thinks we are all “made of exploding stars” and more.
… Compared to the many horrors of the real world, watching a spooky movie in the theatre feels almost cathartic. And so I decided to get away from the real world by watching the new West German horror movie Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (The Snake Pit and the Pendulum) at my local cinema….
Few people have influenced American comics as much as Alex Raymond. While “Jungle Jim” and “Rip Carson” [sic – Rip Kirby] may not be household names, Raymond’s most famous creation, Flash Gordon, is so ingrained into American pop culture that simply his name can be used as shorthand for a specific type of heroic, romantic science fiction. Alex Raymond’s career was short, and his death came far too soon, but his art and influence are immortal….
…The sixth and final book in the Noughts & Crosses series, Endgame, came out last year. How do you feel now that’s over? Mainly: Thank God I lived long enough to finish it! And: Thank God that’s done! OK, to be serious about it, it’s been a hell of a journey, which I’m really grateful for because it’s been 20-odd years. But I really do feel with the end of Endgame that really is it. And anyone who’s read it will know why. If there are more books written in that series, they won’t be by me….
…Welcome to the age of immersion. Dinosaurs and DC barely scratch the surface – this summer also saw the launch of Stranger Things and Tomb Raider “experiences” in London, an I’m A Celebrity Jungle Challenge in Manchester, and an Alice in Wonderland “immersive cocktail experience” in Sheffield.
By September, fans were able to re-enact Netflix’s Squid Game at Immersive Gamebox venues in London, Essex and Manchester. In the coming weeks, London will also host an experience based on the horror franchise Saw, while Cheshire will see thousands visit Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience. And that’s without mentioning the boom in immersive art experiences, the most recent of which – Frameless – has just opened in central London….
…For our first episode, we focus most of our discussion on the class Twilight Zone episode “A Stop at Willoughby” where our protagonist “Mr. Gart Williams, an ad agency exec, who in just a moment, will move into the Twilight Zone—in a desperate search for survival.”
(12) JIM MCDIVITT (1929-2022) Former astronaut Jim McDivitt, who played key roles in making America’s first spacewalk and moon landing possible, died October 17 at the age of 93. NPR paid tribute:
…In 1962, McDivitt was selected by NASA to become an astronaut. He was chosen to pilot Gemini 4 — becoming the first-ever NASA rookie to command a mission.
Considered NASA’s most ambitious flight at the time in 1965, the Gemini 4 mission was the first time the U.S. performed a spacewalk and the longest that a U.S. spaceflight had remained in Earth’s orbit: 4 days.
Four years later, McDivitt commanded Apollo 9 — a 10-day shakeout mission orbiting the Earth in March 1969 that involved testing the lunar landing spacecraft. It paved the way for NASA to successfully land humans on the moon four months later in July 1969.
Apollo 9 was his last trip to space. Despite his instrumental role in propelling NASA’s moon landing, McDivitt himself never reached the moon. Francis French, a spaceflight historian, said McDivitt chose not to command a moon landing mission and decided to take on a management role….
… McDivitt became manager of Lunar Landing Operations in May 1969, and in August of that year became manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program. He was the program manager for Apollo missions 12-16….
(13) MEMORY LANE.
2005 — [By Cat Eldridge.]Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (2005)
Once upon a time, a beloved SF series got cancelled, and yes there is absolutely nothing unusual in that happening, it happens more often than it should. What is extremely unusual is that it got a second chance to have a proper ending in the Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars seventeen years ago.
So let’s tell the tale of how that happened. Farscape arrived here twenty-three ago when Deep Space Nine was just wrapping up and Voyager was well into its seven year run. It started fine and ratings were strong until the fourth season and that, combined with regime change here in the States on who was picking up the tab for the two million dollars per episode led it to end abruptly.
Fans being fans weren’t going to let things end that way, nor should we. (Yes I loved the show. Deeply, unreservedly. I think it was one of the best series ever made, if not the best.) A massive campaign was undertaken with of course emails, letters, phone calls, and phone calls pleading with the network to reverse the cancellation.
Even Bill Amend who created the Fox Trot series had his Jason Fox character direct his ire at SciFi and demand that they change their mind.
Well they did, sort of. A fifth season didn’t happen after all. What did happen in some ways I think was even better though I know that isn’t a popular opinion among those who wanted a full season.
What we got was the two episode, one hundred and eighty minute Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars which I thought splendidly wrapped things up. Every single storyline that wasn’t dealt with during the series was during this film.
SPOLER ALERT HERE.
We got a baby too. Yes, our Peacekeeper gives birth in a fountain in the middle of a firefight, insists she’s married while in labor, carries her baby unscathed through a battle. I assume that the baby was a puppet from the Henson labs. It was terribly cute.
END OF SPOILERS
I’ve watched it at least a half dozen times, probably more, in the last fifteen years. The Suck Fairy in her steel toed boots is obviously scared of those Aussie actors (and the non Aussie one as well) as she slinks away to harass someone else.
Just looked at Rotten Tomatoes — not at all surprisingly, it carries a ninety-two percent rating among audience reviewers there. It’s streaming at Amazon Prime.
(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 18, 1934 — Inger Stevens. She’s here for two appearances on TheTwilight Zone. She had the lead as Nan Adams “The Hitch-Hiker” and she was again the lead, Jana, as the sensitive daughter of a creative genius in “The Late of The Hour”. Her only other genre credit was as Sarah Crandall in the post nuclear Holocaust film The World, the Flesh and the Devil. The coroner ruled her 1970 death a suicide. (Died 1970.)
Born October 18, 1938 — Barbara Baldavin. She was a recurring performer on Trek first as Angela Martine in “Balance of Terror” and “Shore Leave”. She would also appear in the final season’s “Turnabout Intruder” as communications officer Lisa. After that, she had one-offs on Fantasy Island and The Bionic Woman. She retired from the business in 1993.
Born October 18, 1948 — Dawn Wells. Mary Ann Summers on Gilligan’s Island which y’all decided was genre.. She had genre one-offs on The Invaders, Wild Wild West and Alf. (Died 2020.)
Born October 18, 1944 — Katherine Kurtz, 76. Known for the Deryni series which started with Deryni Rising in 1970, and the most recent, The King’s Deryni, was published in 2014. As medieval historical fantasy goes, they’re damn great.
Born October 18, 1951 — Jeff Schalles, 71. Minnesota area fan who’s making the Birthday Honors because he was the camera man for Cats Laughing’s A Long Time Gone: Reunion at Minicon 50 concert DVD. Cats Laughing is a band deep in genre as you can read in the Green Man review here.
Born October 18, 1952 — Pam Dawber, 71. Mindy McConnell in Mork & Mindy. She did very little other genre work, such as Faerie Tale Theatre and the Twilight Zone. She was however in The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything as Bonny Lee Beaumont which is based off the John D. MacDonald novel of the same name. Go watch it — it’s brilliant!
Born October 18, 1964 — Charles Stross, 58 . I’ve read a lot of him down the years with I think his best being the rejiggered Merchant Princes series. Other favorite works include the early Laundry Files novels and both of the Halting State novels.
(15) FIGURES DON’T LIE. Cora Buhlert posted another “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre” photo story. This one is called “Fake Out”.
…In 2018, the year they opened the family bakery, they made Game of Scones, featuring a White Walker made of bread, next to an iron throne of baguettes.
Encouraged by the positive response from the public, in 2020 they made the “Pain-dough-lorian,” clad in armor made of bread, “Baby Dough-Da” clothed in bread and “floating” in mixing bowls, and “the Pandroid,” made of pans and kitchen tools, all inspired by the television series “The Mandalorian.”
Last year, they created “Dough-ki,” a menacing alligator made of bread, with sharp teeth and curved horns, modeled after “Alligator Loki,” a creature on the Marvel television series “Loki,” starring Tom Hiddleston…..
…Laflin squirmed and flailed around on the floor for 45 minutes that first time. When he could finally sit up, he looked down his torso to inspect himself. Half fish, half man, it was a transformation that turned out to be life-altering.
Ten years after he first tried on the set piece in his apartment, Laflin, 40, is a full-time merman, part of a hub of mermaid enthusiasts in Southern California who inhabit personas that express everything from a yearning for childhood play and entertainment to environmental advocacy and gender identity. Going by the stage name “Merman Jax,” he runs a business that he christened Dark Tide Productions, which employs a team of about 10 men and women who perform at events such as birthday parties, corporate galas, and Renaissance fairs, sometimes in water, sometimes posing by a pool or the entrance of an event.
Mermaids tend to be more in demand, Laflin says, because most clients prefer to go with a performer who is female-presenting. But he loves the moments when he is swimming in a tank or lounging poolsidebecause of the sense of wonder it can inspire….
“I knew it was going to be hard to live down such a strong identification,” West told a TV columnist syndicated in The Newspaper Enterprise Association that year. “But it’s been even harder than I anticipated. And today the series is being widely rerun, so I’m still identified with Batman.”
This was three years past the series end, but the action series maintained a wide fan base, and that year, an idea was floated to use the popular characters of Batgirl, Batman, and Robin to run a public service announcement raising awareness for a movement to secure equal pay for women.
In the PSA, Batman and Robin are tied up, and Batgirl appears.
“Untie us before it’s too late,” Batman commands Batgirl.
“It’s already too late,” Batgirl retorts, refusing to set them free until Batman agrees to give her a raise. “I’ve worked for you a long time, and I’m paid less than Robin!”
The PSA was promoting awareness of the federal equal pay law, and it ends with a cliffhanger to tune in tomorrow to find out if Batman does his duty and gives Batgirl what she’s owed.
West refused to do this PSA, not because of politics, but because he just didn’t want to be Batman anymore….
The possessive claim in the title “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” is a gutsy one. There’s confidence — some would even say arrogance — in filming an oft-told story at least as old as the hills, and suddenly branding it as your own: Even two auteurs as ballsy as Francis Ford Coppola and Baz Luhrmann didn’t slap their own names on “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet,” respectively. Still, you can hardly blame del Toro’s stop-motion spin on Carlo Collodi’s 19th-century chestnut “The Adventures of Pinocchio” for wanting to advertise its distinguishing vision up top: After umpteen tellings of the wooden-boy tale, and coming on the heels of Robert Zemeckis’ wretched Disney remake, Netflix’s rival adaptation has to announce itself as something different. That it is; it’s often delightful too….
…TheStar Trek Cookbook is lightly bound by the conceit that Monroe-Cassel is a “gastrodiplomat” lecturing Starfleet cadets about how to further the Federation’s exploratory and expansionist goals through sharing a meal with representatives of other planets. The dishes themselves are all references I could ID from a lifetime of consuming Star Trek, but each dish’s franchise origin is noted. The book is organized by dish type, and not Star Trekseries, era, or culture. In theory this makes it more usable for its intended purpose, that is, making and eating the food. This is (ugh) logical for a cookbook, and some of the recipes in here are good. Cardassian Regova eggs, for example: I boiled them, cracked the shells, and submerged them in dye diluted in water until they emerged a pretty, webby green. Spiked with some frilly bits of lettuce they looked striking; maybe I’d serve them at a Halloween party. They were also okay devilled eggs, and I learned a new trick:that you can slice off the tops and prepare them vertically.
But they’re also just devilled hen eggs, and nothing in the filling (yogurt, red pepper, garlic) makes them anything other than superficially a little weird. Everything about how the food looks — the plating, the reliance on dyes, the lightly modernist approach — broadcasts alienness, in a sci-fi aesthetic way. But making a traditionally structured cookbook with solid recipes for kinda odd-seeming food falls short of this project’s full potential, since nobody is going to a Star Trek cookbook first and foremost because it’s a cookbook…
…If the name sounds familiar, Jack Wylder does a lot of work with Larry Correia including producing Correia’s podcast. He’s recently produced a book which, unsurprisingly was promoted in former Puppy circles. That’s where I saw it but my interest wasn’t the connection to that particular circle of authors. Rather, I’ve been interested to see how independently published authors would start engaging with machine-learning art generation systems such as Midjourney and Dall-e for producing book covers.
…An Illustrated Guide to AI Prompt Mastery attempts a system-agnostic approach to prompts. It doesn’t suggest a given system or discuss the syntax differences between systems. That is a sensible choice given that new systems are appearing regularly and the details of the syntax are better covered in their own documentation. The downside is that if you are expecting a kind of plug-and-play manual to AI-art syntax you’ll be disappointed….
(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Overwatch 2,” Fandom Games says this comes from Blizzard, which “delivers controversies faster than new titles,” as development of the game led to a lot of the staff quitting and the company releasing a bug-ridden game that included times where 40,000 people were in front of you to play. Overwatch 2 is for “people who fear change so much that you want sequels that are five percent different than the last title,” and that Blizzard should have fixed the bugs in Overwatch rather than come out with a “new” line extension.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Cora Buhlert, Doug Ellis, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]
It strikes me that your previous anthology Dominion was extremely successful. It seems to me like it would be tempting to take the easy route and follow that up with something very similar. One of the things that impresses me about Bridging Worlds is that you’ve taken a risk. Could you speak to that risk? To the fact that you’re tackling new ground here?
[ODE] I consider myself a literary explorer. I want to enjoy and experience things across the entire gamut of the literary, starting with the speculative. That is why I am engaged in a wide range of activities like writing and editing, long and short fiction, non-fiction, slush reading, publishing, conrunning, organizing awards, presses, etc. Even in my fiction, you’ll notice this. O2 Arena my Nebula-winning story is mundane sci-fi as Geoff Ryman coined, where my Nommo-winning “Witching Hour” is fantasyish. “Mother’s Love, Father’s Place” is a historical fantasy and “Destiny Delayed” in Asimov’s and Galaxy’s Edge published this year is a genre blender. My latest story “The Magazine of Horror”, yet unpublished is epistolary, written as a series of letters between magazine editors and a submitter.
My editing is the same. After Dominion, an original fiction anthology, I undertook to do the first-ever Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology, a Hugo, Locus, WFA & BFA finalist. It was a reprint anthology. And next wasBridging Worlds, an original non-fiction anthology, then I edited several collections with Interstellar Flight Press before returning to editing original fiction with Sheree Renée Thomas and Zelda Knight again in Africa Risen. I believe in exploring, charting and discovering new courses, to challenge myself to growth as you cannot find without risk. Rather than stagnating on the capitalist, hollywoodish attitude of being safe and dying on the altar of ‘never change a winning formula.’ The truest wins, are yet undiscovered and continued progress and the ongoing growth of the genre hinges on going outside our comfort zones to find what’s different, new, needed.
(2) NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE. Annie Ernaux is the winner of the 2022 Nobel Prize for Literature, a French author cited “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory.” The summaries of Ernaux’ major works do not indicate that any are genre, but you wanted to know who won, didn’t you?
SFF-related non-fiction is somewhat sidelined by the big genre awards, since the Nebulas have no non-fiction category and the Best Related Work Hugo category has become something of a grab bag of anything that doesn’t fit elsewhere. So why do you think SFF-related non-fiction is important?
[Jim Beard] Because of the width and breadth of SF and Fantasy in pop culture, and how we all as fans have connection points throughout it. I personally love coming across a non-fiction book on a subject I love, whether well-known or obscure, and while I myself am chugging away on doing my own publications, I can’t wait to see what other editors and publishers are doing. We’ve only scratched the surface of what can be discussed, debated, and delivered in SFF non-fiction.
…Tomlinson and his wife have both been the victims of impersonators spoofing their email and social media accounts to send bigoted messages to colleagues and random people, prompting intensive cleanup efforts on the sci-fi writer’s behalf.
All the while, the author continues to receive dozens of insulting texts, voicemails, and emails on a daily basis from his nameless stalkers, some of whom even send pictures indicating they’re just outside his house.
Yet, as Tomlinson told The Daily Beast, the efforts they’ve taken to identify his harassers and potentially bring them to justice have not only come up empty but cost them tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. All because a court recently found that the identity of the anonymous owner of the message board can remain hidden and thus cannot be subpoenaed to provide information about the identities of the users on their site.
Tomlinson’s plight is somewhat similar to that of trans Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti, who has been the focus of a lengthy, vicious, anti-trans harassment campaign by users on the internet message board Kiwi Farms. In fact, Tomlinson himself was the target of a 1,400-page thread on the notoriously toxic online community, whose users single out specific individuals to stalk and harass….
…During this period of time, Tomlinson filed a court action attempting to subpoena Cloudflare in an effort to seek the identity of the anonymous blogger who runs the OnA Forums. Tomlinson’s lawyers argued that he needed the ability to depose the forum owner in order to learn the identities of dozens of anonymous users he sought to sue for posting defamatory statements about him on the site.
In September 2021, a California judge granted John Doe’s order to quash Tomlinson’s petition to subpoena Cloudflare to learn Doe’s identity, citing protections under Section 230 that allows for anonymity for those who passively engage on the internet.
…Besides quashing the subpoena, Judge Ethan P. Schulman also ordered Tomlinson to pay a mandatory amount of $23,739.25 in attorneys’ fees and costs.
(5) CITY TECH SF SYMPOSIUM. The Seventh Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium has put out a “Call for Papers: Science Fiction and the Archive”. The online event, sponsored by the School of Arts and Sciences at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY, will take place Tuesday, December 6, 2022 from 9:00AM-5:00PM Eastern.
Continuing the explorations and conversations of the previous two symposia on “Race” and “Access” respectively, this year’s City Tech Science Fiction Symposium is focused on the idea of the “Archive.” The potential of the SF Archive as an inclusive and celebratory concept is increasing, and we hope this symposium will be a space to facilitate its expansion through our conversations and collegial debate. Of course, an archive (little a) can refer to practical considerations of Library-based Special Collections like those in the City Tech Science Fiction Collection and others, including the collected materials, cataloging, and providing access. However, we are also thinking of the Archive (big A) in terms of canonicity, cultural preservation, reading lists, and bookstore shelfspace. These latter considerations raise questions about what does and doesn’t get included within what we might call the SF Archive as well as who does and doesn’t get a say in those selections. Therefore, the SF Archive is a broadly based concept that encompasses Libraries and Special Collections and the larger cultural space of fandom, social media, and the marketplace, all of which involve the exchange of cultural capital, influence by different forms of gatekeepers, and conversations on many levels by different readers about what SF should be valued, recognized, and saved.
The SF Archive changes over time. Perhaps most exciting for the present are the many initiatives to excavate our shared cultural histories for SF that had been overlooked or forgotten but certainly deserving of inclusion, such those by writers of color, women, and LGBTQ+ persons; and efforts to bring global SF to wider audiences thanks to growing networks of readers and scholars versed in the original language of a text and those wanting to experience those stories through translation.
(6) CROWDSOURCED QUESTIONS FOR KEVIN SMITH. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Readers of the Guardian interview director Kevin Smith. Of his works Dogma and Masters of the Universe: Revelation are explicitly genre, the rest is at the very least genre-adjacent: “Kevin Smith: ‘How are you going to get laid if you look like an old person?’”. The answer to the first question is really sad BTW, because Smith says he received so much harassment from toxic fanboys about Masters of the Universe: Revelation that he wouldn’t even want to do a Star Wars or Marvel movie, because he fears it would be worse.
What was it like working with Alan Rickman in Dogma? CWilliams1955
Bliss. Alan Rickman, it turns out, was my friend. I was such a fan from the moment I saw him in Die Hard. I assumed we were just associates, but he stayed in touch the rest of his life. Whenever I was in England, he would call out of the blue and say – I can’t do the voice: “I know you’re here, it’s time to hang out.” He wasn’t just being professionally courteous because we made a movie together 20 years ago. I still can’t believe Alan Rickman actually liked me.
One of my favourite memories is when he came to one of my shows at the O2 in London and we drove back to town together. He said: “I’ve finally broken and bought an apartment in New York.” I said: “That’s excellent.” He said: “It’s not excellent, it’s in the same building as my friend Ralph.” I said: “Why is that bad?” And he said: “Ralph Fiennes. If the Harry Potter world found out that Snape and Voldemort live in the same building, they’d burn it to the ground!”
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1962 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixty years ago, the very first novel in James White’s most exemplary Sector General series was published, Hospital Station.
Now I wasn’t originally was going to do an essay on this series as I was about to do a UPN series about a human interstellar hospital series (and yes I’ll tell you about it next year) but I remember this series and yes I liked it a lot, so decided to essay it this time. Me, fickle? No.
(That series, Mercy Point, was considered influenced by White’s series. It lasted seven episodes. No, I’ve not seen it.)
I think I was in University when I discovered the Ballantine Books paperback of the first novel in a wonderful bookstore near the public library in the town near the University. (It had four used bookstores. Bliss!) I won’t say it was it was the cover that it attracted me as it wasn’t at all appealing, but the tag line of “the fabulous story of a hospital in the sky” did get my attention.
It certainly didn’t disappoint. Hospital Station was quite amazing from beginning to end. It was the home of many strange creatures, including humans!
As one reviewer so aptly put it, “Good-natured, high quality, pacifist SF that is ideal comfort food when looking to elevate your mood into the upper range of the happy scale.” It was the antithesis of all the military SF in existence and I loved deeply it for being so. Humans and aliens not attacking each other, but working together instead. Oh how so very wonderful!
White was very good at envisioning both how humans would handle dealing with various aliens and those aliens themselves. One of the lasting advantages of text fiction over video fiction is it is easier to create in the mind’s eye an alien for the reader. And damn cheaper too!
Some reviewers and readers have criticized the twelve novel series saying that as it went along its way that it got weaker, less interesting. Not for me, as I think it was perfectly fine right to the end, even the sometimes far too jokey The Galactic Gourmet.
Okay, food in genre fiction is a tricky thing to do. Just look at Steven Brust’s Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille which is the only novel by him that I deeply loathe with all my heart. (Don’t worry, he knows that. He gets dark chocolate from me.)
One critic compared the setting to that of Deep Space Nine which I must say makes me go WTF? Yes it’s a station in outer space but that’s the only resemblance. A pacifist hospital versus a heavily armed station? Huh?
I’ve re-read some of the novels several times such as Hospital Station forty years on and the steel booted Suck Fairy stubbed her toe on the way to it and broke her leg. It’s just as fine now as it was way back then.
The first three novels, Hospital Station, Star Surgeon and Major Operation are really a Meredith Moment from the usual suspects at twelve bucks.
White was a Guest of Honor of the L.A.con III Worldcon that Our Ever So Gracious Host chaired in 1996.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 6, 1942 — Britt Ekland, 80. She starred in The Wicker Man as Willow MacGregor, and appeared as a Bond girl, Goodnight, in The Man with the Golden Gun. She was also Queen Nyleptha in King Solomon’s Treasure based off the H. Rider Haggard novels.
Born October 6, 1946 — John C. Tibbetts, 76. A film critic, historian, author. He’s written such articles as “The Illustrating Man: The Screenplays of Ray Bradbury” and “Time on His Hands: The Fantasy Fiction of Jack Finney”. One of his two books is The Gothic Imagination: Conversations on Fantasy, Horror, and Science Fiction in the Media, the other being The Gothic Worlds of Peter Straub.
Born October 6, 1950 — David Brin, 72. Author of several series including Existence, the Postman novel, and the Uplift series which began with Sundiver, followed by Startide Rising, a most excellent book and a Hugo-winner at L.A. Con II (1984). I’ll admit that the book he co-wrote with Leah Wilson, King Kong Is Back! An Unauthorized Look at One Humongous Ape, tickles me to no end.
Born October 6, 1955 — Ellen Kushner, 67. If you’ve not read it, do so as her now sprawling Riverside series is amazing. I’m quite sure that I’ve read all of it. And during the High Holy Days, do be sure to read The Golden Dreydl as it’s quite wonderful. As it’s Autumn and this being when I read it, I’d be remiss not to recommend her Thomas the Rhymer novel which won both the World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic Award.
Born October 6, 1952 — Lorna Toolis. Librarian, editor, and fan Lorna was the head of the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy at the Toronto Public Library from 1986-2017, a collection started in 1970 with a donation from Judith Merril. Toolis was a significant influence on the Canadian SF community, a founding member of SFCanada, who won an Aurora Award for co-editing Tesseracts 4 with Michael Skeet. (Died 2021.)
Born October 6, 1963 — Elisabeth Shue, 59. Best known as Jennifer, Marty McFly’s girlfriend, in Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III, she also had roles in Hollow Man and Piranha 3D. Really Piranha 3D? Let’s look that up on Rotten Tomatoes… The audience reviewers there gave it a twenty-two percent rating.
Ewan McGregor revealed earlier this year that he spent virtually the entirety of filming for 2002’s Star Wars: Attack of the Clones wandering round a blue-screen studio talking to inanimate objects while portraying the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, an experience he clearly found disgruntling. “I spent a lot of time off on my own and on this planet with tall aliens, and of course, none of that was there,” he said during interviews for the recent Disney+ show that revived the Jedi knight. “For me, it was, like, a long time walking around blue sets speaking to tennis balls and sticks and it was just not what I was used to, and it was hard to make. Hopefully, we made it realistic and we did the best we could.”
In the early days of CGI film-making, actors regularly reported similar unease, but in recent years the problem seems to have diminished. This is probably down to the increased use of motion capture where actors can bounce off their fellow cast members in a more organic fashion….
(11) STAR POWER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Timmy Fisher discusses “When You Wish Upon A Star” from Pinocchio.
…The song was penned for Walt Disney’s original animated feature, with in-house composer Leigh Harline setting words by ex-Broadway lyricist Ned Washington. That wistful version–a homage to the nursery rhyme ‘Star Light, Star Bright’–was perfectly suited for the crooning falsetto of Cliff Edwards, aka Ukulele Ike, a vaudeville star who voiced Jiminy Cricket and recorded abridged versions for the opening credits and the final scene….
Though Pinocchio initially struggled at the box office. ‘When You Wish’ was an instant hit: a re-recording with Edwards and the Victor Young Orchestra jostled for attention among covers by Glenn Miller, Kate Smith, and Vera Lynn, as well as the movie soundtrack release. Foreign-language versions such as the Swedish “Ser du Stjärnan I Det Blå” (“Do you see the star in blue”) soon popped up. Even Nazi Germany succumbed. According to Albert Speer, Hitler whistled it at the Palais de Chaillot overlooking a conquered Paris.
Having premiered just over 25 years ago to a mixed reception, the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie has slowly garnered an appreciation alongside a strong fandom for Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor, who made a brief return appearance as part of the show’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2013….
…While best known for his iconic role as Spock in Star Trek, Nimoy is no stranger to directing, having helmed Star Trek III and IV as well as Three Men and a Baby, which went on to become the highest-grossing film of 1987.
With an impressive track record not only with sci-fi fans but also at the box office, Nimoy might have seemed like a no-brainer to come on to direct. So, what happened?
“FOX did not want him to do it. They were concerned it looked very kitsch to go, ‘Aren’t we clever? We’ve got Spock from Star Trek directing.’”…
(13) YOU GOT TROUBLE, MY FRIEND. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna says newspapers are slashing the space given to comic strips, with Lee Enterprises saying in its 77 dailies the comic strips will be cut to half a page. Comic strip creators are scrambling to replace the lost income. “Is the print newspaper comics page in trouble?”
…And Patrick McDonnell, creator of the strip “Mutts,” which he says lost dozens of clients, underscores why comics are a popular staple of the newspaper, with readers developing long-term relationships with their favorite strips: “Over time, the characters are like family. Newspapers should consider this bond before they decide to make drastic changes.”…
(14) BOO! Alasdair Beckett-King sums up all haunted house movies in this clip from 2021.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Metal: Hellsinger,” Fandom Games says this game combines the thrill of blasting creatures with the throbbing beats of metal, with a different headbanging song on every level. They say “We wonder what these guys could do with an actual budget,” but adds the key to success here is “just don’t expect to use any part of your brain that you can’t find on a lizard. But sometimes smooth brain fun is the best kind of fun.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, mark, Cora Buhlert, Francis Hamit, 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 Daniel Dern & Sullivan.]
…I write climate fiction and it took me a while to realize how saying that in a declarative sentence made publishing professionals recoil like I’d asked them to smell my skunk. I put it proudly in my pitches and query letters. Climate! Fiction!… Smell! My! Skunk! I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to say the c-word in polite company. I’m still not sure why that is, why it’s not something people are actively “looking for” in fiction. Because for me, stories are ideal places to work out the tangles of complicated issues—especially the “what are we not talking about when we refuse to talk about the climate crisis?” questions….
(2) BAIKONUR BOOGIE. Today I learned there is also a Russian Space Forces (they use the plural). And I’m told this is their anthem. You can dance to it!
Giorgia Meloni, the hard-right leader who is likely to be the next prime minister of Italy, used to dress up as a hobbit.
As a youth activist in the post-Fascist Italian Social Movement, she and her fellowship of militants, with nicknames like Frodo and Hobbit, revered “The Lord of the Rings” and other works by the British writer J.R.R. Tolkien. They visited schools in character. They gathered at the “sounding of the horn of Boromir” for cultural chats. She attended “Hobbit Camp” and sang along with the extremist folk band Compagnia dell’Anello, or Fellowship of the Ring.
All of that might seem some youthful infatuation with a work usually associated with fantasy-fiction and big-budget epics rather than political militancy. But in Italy, “The Lord of the Rings” has for a half-century been a central pillar upon which descendants of post-Fascism reconstructed a hard-right identity, looking to a traditionalist mythic age for symbols, heroes and creation myths free of Fascist taboos.
“I think that Tolkien could say better than us what conservatives believe in,” said Ms. Meloni, 45. More than just her favorite book series, “The Lord of the Rings” was also a sacred text. “I don’t consider ‘The Lord of the Rings’ fantasy,” she said….
(5) HORROR FILM MAGAZINE INTERVIEWS VERTLIEB. The new issue of We Belong Dead Magazine, the prestigious British horror film magazine, includes a twelve-page interview and color layout on the life and times of Steve Vertlieb. It’s issue No. 31, and is available now at Barnes and Noble, and wherever good books and magazines are sold throughout the globe. Get your copy now!
1997 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Time Travel series aren’t exactly rare, are they? A quarter of a century ago on this evening one such series, Timecop, premiered on ABC. It was based on the much more successful Jean-Claude Van Damme Timecop film. Yes, I liked that film a lot.
If you blinked you missed this series as it lasted just nine episodes before the cancellation blues played out.
Mark Verheiden who later co-produced the more successful Falling Skies series for TNT created this series.
It starred Ted King as the Timecop, Officer Jack Logan. You may remember him as Andy Trudeau on Charmed during its first season. There is only one character, Captain Eugene Matuzek, carried over from the film, but the premise is the same.
And yes, the beautiful female character trope held true here.
I wouldn’t say its originality quota was high as here’s the story for the pilot: “A time traveler from the twenty-first century kills Jack the Ripper and takes his place.” That Jack becomes the main antagonist.
Nine of the thirteen episodes ordered were televised. No, there’s not four unaired episodes out there as they were never produced.
A trilogy continuing the story was published by Del Rey Books: The Scavenger, Viper’s Spawn and Blood Ties.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 22, 1917 — Samuel A. Peeples. Memory Alpha says that he’s the person that gave Roddenberry the catch phrase he used to sell Star Trek to the network: “[As] fellow writer Harlan Ellison has credited him with the creation of one of the most famous catch phrases in Star Trek lore, “[Gene Roddenberry] got ‘Wagon Train to the stars’ from Sam Peeples. That’s what Gene said to me. They were at dinner and Sam Peeples, of course, was a fount of ideas, and Gene said something or other about wanting to do a space show and Sam said, ‘Yeah? Why don’t you do Wagon Train to the stars?’” (Died 1997.)
Born September 22, 1939 — Edward A. Byers. Due to his early death, he has but two published novels, both space operas, The Log Forgetting and The Babylon Gate. EOFSF says “Byers was not an innovative writer, but his genuine competence raised expectations over his short active career.” There’s no sign his double handful of stories was collected, though his two novels are in-print. (Died 1989.)
Born September 22, 1952 — Paul Kincaid, 70. A British science fiction critic. He stepped down as chairman of the Arthur C. Clarke Award in April 2006 after twenty years. He is the co-editor with Andrew M. Butler of The Arthur C. Clarke Award: A Critical Anthology. He’s also written A Very British Genre: A Short History of British Fantasy and Science Fiction and What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction. His latest publication is The Unstable Realities of Christopher Priest.
Born September 22, 1954 — Shari Belafonte, 68. Daughter of Harry Belafonte, I first spotted her on Beyond Reality, a Canadian series that showed up when I was living in upstate Vermont. You most likely saw her as Elizabeth Trent in Babylon 5: Thirdspace as that’s her most well known genre performance. Bet hardly of you saw her as Linda Flores in Time Walker, an Eighties SF horror film, or the Mars SF film in which she played Doc Halliday.
Born September 22, 1957 — Jerry Oltion, 65. His Nebula Award winning Abandon in Place novella is the beginning of the Cheap Hyperdrive sequence, a really fun Space Opera undertaking. Abandon in Place was nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2 (2013). The Astronaut from Wyoming was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000.
Born September 22, 1971 — Elizabeth Bear, 51. I’m only going to note the series that I really like but of course you will course add the ones that you like. First is her White Space series, Ancestral Space and Machine, which I’ve read or listened to each least three times. Next up is the sprawling Promethean Age series which is utterly fascinating, and finally The Jenny Casey trilogy which just came out at the usual suspects.
Born September 22, 1982 — Billie Piper, 40. Best remembered as the companion of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, she also played the dual roles Brona Croft and Lily Frankenstein in Penny Dreadful. She played Veronica Beatrice “Sally” Lockhart in the BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in The North.
Born September 22, 1985 — Tatiana Maslany, 37. Best known for her superb versatility in playing more than a dozen different clones in the Orphan Black which won a Hugo for Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) at the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention for its “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried“ episode. She received a Best Actress Emmy and more than two dozen other nominations and awards. She is Jennifer Walters / She-Hulk in the new Marvel She-Hulk series.
The definition of “dystopia” in the Oxford English Dictionary is bald and to the point: “An imaginary place in which everything is as bad as possible.”
Literature is full of examples. In “The Time Machine,” the Morlocks feed and clothe the Eloi, then eat them. “The Handmaid’s Tale” deals with state-sanctioned rape. The firefighters in “Fahrenheit 451” incinerate books instead of saving them. In “1984”’s infamous Room 101, Winston Smith is finally broken when a cage filled with rats is dumped over his head. In “Our Missing Hearts,” Celeste Ng’s dystopian America is milder, which makes it more believable — and hence, more upsetting.…
(11) MORE HORRIFYING THAN PUMPKIN SPICE. “Demonic Doll ‘Chucky’ Gets Pumpkin Beer for Halloween”. The official collaboration between Elysian Brewing and NBCUniversal has been launched to celebrate the second season of Chucky’s eponymous TV show. (That red color comes from the added cranberry juice.)
…”Chucky is one of Halloween’s most iconic, beloved characters, and we have found the perfect partner in Elysian Brewing to capture his spirit this season,” Ellen Stone, executive vice president for entertainment consumer engagement and brand strategy at the networks’ parent company NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, stated. “This custom pumpkin beer provides a fresh, unique way for fans and beer fanatics alike to quench their thirst with a taste of Chucky ahead of the season two premiere….
Erik Feig’s Picturestart has obtained adaptive rights and is plotting a franchise around the science fiction premise, with J.C. Lee (of the forthcoming “Bad Genius” remake) set to write the screenplay.
The book is set in the fictional world of Huaxia, where humanity’s only hope against alien invaders are giant transforming robots called Chrysalises, which require a boy-girl pair to pilot….
(13) THE 3-D LAWS OF ROBOTICS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Nature’s cover story is about new robots — move over Asimov… “Builder drones”.
Ground-based robots have potential for helping in the construction industry, but they are limited by their height. In this week’s issue, Mirko Kovac, Robert Stuart-Smith and their colleagues introduce highly manoeuvrable aerial robots that can perform additive 3D construction tasks. Inspired by natural builders such as wasps and bees, the researchers created BuilDrones (as shown on the cover) that can work in an autonomous team to perform 3D printing tasks using foam- or cement-based materials. They also created ScanDrones to assess the quality of the structures being built. The team hopes that this approach of ‘aerial additive manufacturing’ could help to build structures in difficult to access areas.
Aerial-AM allows manufacturing in-flight and offers future possibilities for building in unbounded, at-height or hard-to-access locations.
…Webb also captured seven of Neptune’s 14 known moons. Dominating this Webb portrait of Neptune is a very bright point of light sporting the signature diffraction spikes seen in many of Webb’s images, but this is not a star. Rather, this is Neptune’s large and unusual moon, Triton….
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes you inside the Pitch Meeting that led to Pinocchio (2022)!
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, N., Lise Andreasen, Alan Baumler, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steve Vertlieb, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
This year, as the Hugo Awards come closer, I thought I’d combine my current hobby (throwing weird prompts as Midjourney AI) and a guessing game.
I used the names of each of the Hugo Award finalist novels as prompts for the AI. It drew a quartet of pictures for each. Based on the picture, you have to guess which pictures match which novels…
(2) L, D + R. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with several people associated with Love, Death, and Robots because one episode from the show is up for an Emmy.
Executive producer Tim Miller says he came up with the idea of “reviving Heavy Metal” over a decade ago. He and David Fincher started pitching this idea and Netfix greenlit the series, which is renewed for season 4. Jennifer Yuh Nelson, who directed Kung Fu Panda 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3, says as supervising producer her role is to create the storyboards animators use and “head the quality control department.” Sound editors Brad North and Craig Henigan explain what sound editors do, and we learn that the great sound editor Ben Burtt got part of the voice for Darth Vader from a noisy projector at the University of Southern California film school that is still being used.
Finally, Leonard Maltin said that Alfred Hitchcock once opined that the advantage an animator has over a live action director is “If you don’t like your leading man, you can rip him up.” “Emmy Nominees for Love, Death & Robots” at Maltin on Movies.
…Damo Mac Choiligh: Did Russ retain her perception of SF as a worthwhile literature into later life? I have always been struck by how she was optimistic about its potential, despite the extent to which it is dominated by writers and fans for whom her feminism was anathema or who simply did not understand it.
[Lisa Yaszek:] I’ve always liked Russ’s optimism as well! Russ spoke often about how she began reading science fiction as a teenager because it promised her that “life could be different!” than the stifling world of midcentury America. And then many of her early critical essays were all about why SF is an important genre. And of course, she continued to write both professional SF and amateur “slash” fiction until her death. If her production slowed down in the 1980s and 1990s, it was largely due to health issues. Having said that, Russ did become increasingly disenchanted with certain factions of the SF community as the 1970s unfolded. When Russ started out in the 1960s, she was actually quite well-received by the largely male/male-identified SF community because she wrote about the possibilities of science fiction as the premiere story form of modernity and her first really successful stories—the Alyx tales—followed the adventures of a strong, smart, successful woman living mostly amongst men. But then Russ began to write essays about the patriarchal limits of SF as it was currently practiced (in essays such as “The Image of Women in Science Fiction” and “Amore Vincent Foeminam!”) and more literarily-experimental stories about allfemale futures and the women who would go to war with men to preserve them, such as “When It Changed” (1972), The Female Man (1975), and The Two of Them (1978). This led SF authors and editors including Poul Anderson, Judy Del Rey, and Avram Davidson to publicly turn against Russ, dismissing her as a “second rate academic” masquerading as an author. Even Samuel R. Delany—a queer Black experimental SF author who was friends with Russ and who Russ was careful to include in important gender and SF events, such as the 1974 Khatru symposium on “Women and Science Fiction”—was quite critical of her writing at the time. Little wonder then, that Russ gave up her post as a reviewer for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1980 and began to focus more on writing and publishing in feminist and lesbian venues—even if she never quit writing science fiction itself….
(4) HUGO PICKS. Kristenelle – SFF Reader is a science fiction and fantasy focused booktuber who reads a lot of new releases and does commentary on awards such as the Hugos and Nebulas. Here are her “2022 Hugo Award Predictions”. The whole concept of booktubers fascinates me, I wish I had time to keep up with them.
Despite its history and Loftus’s conclusions, I did not get the sense that Mensa is an unhealthy place to find community. Many of its members think of themselves as outsiders and feel like Mensa is a place where they can be themselves and connect with people who understand and appreciate them. It’s a place where they can find other folks who love to play Set or who have encyclopedic knowledge of minute Disney trivia. This isn’t to say that there aren’t toxic subsections of Mensa, because there are, but that’s true of any group that runs tens of thousands of members deep. And in an era when the internet and the pandemic have scrambled our sense of community and alienation reigns supreme, that’s no small thing.
…This latest trailer opens with a voiceover by Galadriel, telling us that her brother gave his life “hunting the enemy.” She takes up the cause in his stead. She asks for others to stand with her, as we see shots of several central characters who, one presumes, will become her comrades in arms. Or perhaps they will decline the offer. That seems to be the case with Halbrand, who insists, “I am not the hero you seek,” suggesting a dark secret in his past. “Whatever you did, be free of it,” Galadriel tells him.
Galadriel seems to be emerging as the most major protagonist, but we also get new footage of several other characters scattered throughout Middle-earth, including dwarves and hobbits. The latter, while humble, do have their strengths. “One thing we can so better than any creature in all Middle-earth—we stay true to each other, with our hearts even bigger than our feet,” Nori’s dad, Largo Brandyfoot (Dylan Smith), says. It looks like different kinds of struggles and battles will be waged on many different fronts, as befitting a sweeping epic series of this magnitude….
… “Impossible crime” and “locked-room mystery” are two analogous terms referring to mysteries in which how a crime was committed is equally important as who committed it. Crimes which are seemingly impossible, which appear to have been committed in defiance of both physics and logic. As such, these mysteries are often tinged with a hint of the surreal, the sinister, and the uncanny. However—and this is particularly important—the crime always, always has a rational explanation. By its nature, this is a fiendish subgenre, but when done right it’s also one of the most satisfying for both writers and readers. The puzzle and the atmosphere are perfectly intertwined; all the clues are there, but they are so ingeniously disguised as to make it nigh-on impossible for the reader to suss out what is going on….
At the top of his list:
1. The Three Coffins/The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr
Whenever I am asked what is my favorite locked-room mystery or impossible crime story, this is always my answer. The murder of Professor Charles Grimaud by the mysterious “hollow man” who vanishes without trace is a perfect locked-room problem. Meanwhile, the killing of illusionist Pierre Fley in a street carpeted with unmarked snow is an archetypal example of the popular impossible crime variant, the no-footprints puzzle.
As well as one of the most famous examples of the subgenre, this novel remains an indisputable masterpiece. Not only is it a tour-de-force of plotting, prose, and atmosphere, it also happens to contain within it one of the definitive critical overviews of the genre itself: the famous “locked-room lecture,” a perfect piece of meta-fiction in which Dr. Gideon Fell examines the very nature of the impossible crime. It’s a treatise which probes just about every category of impossible crime, providing numerous examples of methods by which they could be achieved. But is the solution to these two murders lurking somewhere in those scant few pages? Or is the locked-room lecture itself just a red herring?
When I first read this book, the brilliance of the solution left me giddy. Reading it again today, it has lost none of its impact. This book is one of the many reasons that John Dickson Carr remains (to borrow a phrase from Agatha Christie) the “supreme conjurer, the King of the Art of Misdirection.”
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1966 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Fifty-six years ago, Fantastic Voyage premiered. It would the next year be nominated for a Hugo at NyCon 3 but Star Trek’s “The Menagerie” won.
It was directed by Richard Fleischer and produced by Saul David. Fleischer had been responsible for the earlier 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and David had produced Our Man Flint. (It is definitely genre.) The screenplay was by Harry Klein off an adaptation by David Duncan (yes, our David Duncan) of the story by Jerome Bixby and Otto Klement which I assume is “Small War” though nowhere is that stated.
The film starred Stephen Boyd, Raquel Welch, Edmond O’Brien, Donald Pleasence, and Arthur Kennedy. Of course it has Welch in it , there had to be one sexy female on the crew, didn’t there?
Klement and Kleiner claimed to the studio that it would be “the most expensive science-fiction film ever made”, a odd thing I think to say to sell anything to a studio. It cost five million dollars which certainly was expensive but not that expensive. It didn’t do that well at the box office returning just twelve million.
I’ll quote but one review from the time, that of Variety: “Fantastic Voyage is just that. The lavish production, boasting some brilliant special effects and superior creative efforts, is an entertaining, enlightening excursion through inner space – the body of a man.”
Asimov wrote the novelization which readers thought the film was based on as it came out well before the film premiered. He was displeased with that take so he wrote another take, Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain, and a third novel would follow written not by him but by Kevin J. Anderson, Fantastic Voyage: Microcosm.
It would spawn a short-lived animated series, Fantastic Voyage, thirteen episodes to be precise, and a Fantastic Voyage comic book, based on the series, published by Gold Key which lasted an amazingly short two issues.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 24, 1899 — Gaylord Du Bois. He was a writer of comic book stories and comic strips, as well as Big Little Books. He wrote Tarzan for Dell Comics and Gold Key Comics from the Forties to early Seventies.) He was one of the writers for Space Family Robinson which was the basis for the Lost in Space series. (Died 1993.)
Born August 24, 1899 — Jorge Luis Borges. I’m reasonably sure my first encounter with him was at University with the assignment of The Library of Babel. I’m not deeply read in him but I loved The Book of Imaginary Beings, and though not genre, recommend The Last Interview and Other Conversations for an excellent look at him as a writer. (Died 1986.)
Born August 24, 1915 — Alice Sheldon. Alice Sheldon who wrote as James Tiptree Jr. was one of our most brilliant short story writers ever. She only wrote two novels, Up the Walls of the World and Brightness Falls from the Air but they too are worth reading even if critics weren’t pleased by them. (Died 1987.)
Born August 24, 1932 — William Morgan Shepard. Best remembered I think as Blank Reg in Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. Genre wise I’d add him being the most believable Klingon Prison Warden In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Merrit in The Prestige (nominated for a Hugo at Nippon 2007),the rather scary Soul Hunter on Babylon 5 and a Vulcan Science Minister in Star Trek. (Died 2019.)
Born August 24, 1934 — Kenny Baker.Certainly his portrayal of R2-D2 in the Star Wars franchise is what he’s best known for but he’s also been in Circus of Horrors, Wombling Free, Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader series, The Elephant Man, Sleeping Beauty, Time Bandits, Willow, Flash Gordon and Labyrinth. Personally I think his best role was as Fidgit in Time Bandits. (Died 2016.)
Born August 24, 1936 — A. S. Byatt, 86. Author of three genre novels, two of which I’m familiar with, Possession: A Romance which became a rather decent film, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature-winning The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, and one I’ve never heard of, Ragnarok: The End of the Gods, but I’m actually much, much more fond of her short fiction. I’d start with the Little Black Book of Stories and Angels & Insects collections.
Born August 24, 1951 — Tony Amendola, 71. Prolly best known for being the Jaffa master Bra’tac on Stargate SG-1. He’s also had recurring roles as Edouard Kagame of Liber8 on Continuum and on Once Upon a Time as Pinocchio’s creator, Geppetto. His list of one-off genre appearances is extensive and includes Angel, Charmed, Lois & Clark,Space: Above and Beyond, the Crusade spin-off of Babylon 5, X Files, Voyager, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Alias, She-Wolf of London and Kindred: The Embraced. He’s also been a voice actor in gaming with roles in such games as World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, World of Warcraft: Legion and World of Final Fantasy.
Born August 24, 1957 — Stephen Fry, 65. He’s Gordon Deitrich in V for Vendetta, and he’s the Master of Laketown in The Hobbit franchise. His best role is as Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (I absolutely adore both films as I noted in my essay on them)though he made an interesting narrator in the film version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and not to be overlooked is that he’s also the narrator for all seven of the Potter novels for the UK audiobook recordings.
Born August 24, 1958 — Lisa A. Barnett. Wife of Melissa Scott. Some of her works were co-authored with her: The Armor of Light, Point of Hopes: A Novel of Astreiant and Point of Dreams: A Novel of Astreiant. They wrote one short story, “The Carmen Miranda Gambit”. (Died 2006.)
The video opens gauzily on an empty New York City streetscape, with sirens echoing in the distance, as a woman dressed in black strolls in with some hypothetically catastrophic news.
“So there’s been a nuclear attack,” she says nonchalantly. “Don’t ask me how or why, just know that the big one has hit.”
The 90-second public service announcement, which instructed New Yorkers about what to do during a nuclear attack, was released by the city’s Department of Emergency Management in July.
It attracted attention: While most of the videos on the department’s YouTube page have recorded fewer than 1,000 views, at last count the nuclear preparedness video had been seen more than 857,000 times.
Still, some questioned whether the city should have prioritized the nuclear preparedness video at a time when emergency officials are grappling with more imminent threats, like extreme heat and catastrophic flooding, and the city is dealing with the monkeypox health crisis.
Mr. Harvin, the former city official, said that emergency management professionals traditionally focus on events that are more likely to occur, including flash floods or mass shootings. New York City has recently experienced both….
Years late and billions over budget, NASA’s new moon rocket makes its debut next week in a high-stakes test flight before astronauts get on top.
The 322-foot (98-meter) rocket will attempt to send an empty crew capsule into a far-flung lunar orbit, 50 years after NASA’s famed Apollo moonshots.
If all goes well, astronauts could strap in as soon as 2024 for a lap around the moon, with NASA aiming to land two people on the lunar surface by the end of 2025.
Liftoff is set for Monday morning from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
The six-week test flight is risky and could be cut short if something fails, NASA officials warn.
“We’re going to stress it and test it. We’re going make it do things that we would never do with a crew on it in order to try to make it as safe as possible,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
It turns out that unrelated doppelgangers may have quite a bit in common beyond just twin faces. New research suggests that lookalikes with incredibly similar faces tend to share many genetic variants—variants that don’t just seem to shape their appearance but general aspects of their life. At the same time, other important influences, such as the microbiome, appear to contribute little to their symmetry.
Study author Manel Esteller, a geneticist and director of the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute (IJC) in Barcelona, Spain, is interested in what makes people the way they are. In 2005, he and his colleagues published research showing that identical twins weren’t as identical as they appear at first glance. While they had the same basic genetic patterns, they differed noticeably in their epigenetics: changes in how our genes express themselves, which are caused by environmental or behavioral factors, such as smoking or age.
In their new research, published Tuesday in Cell Reports, Esteller’s team wanted to look at the other side of the coin—people who look so similar that they could be twins but aren’t actually related…
(13) WOODEN IT BE ROMANTIC. Disney+ dropped their trailer for Pinocchio today (which is not Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio–the Disney version is directed by Robert Zemeckis.)
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Ryan George, in this sketch that dropped four days ago, wonders what the billionaires would do when the apocalypse happens!
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Thomas the Red.]
(1) RUSSIA PUTS SF WRITER ON WANTED LIST. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Popular Russian science fiction author Dmitry Glukhovsky has been put on a list for prosecution based on his anti-war comments. He’s one of the first major figures to be targeted under a new law in Russia that criminalizes opposition to the war in Ukraine. “Russia Adds Popular Sci-Fi Writer to Its Wanted List” on Reuters.
“Stop the war! Admit that this is a war against an entire nation and stop it!” he wrote on Instagram. (The post is here. It’s in Russian.)
Russia on Tuesday placed Dmitry Glukhovsky, a popular science fiction writer, on its wanted list after accusing him of spreading false information about its military intervention in Ukraine.
…The Interior Ministry’s website listed Glukhovsky, best known for the “Metro 2033” sci-fi novel and its sequels, as wanted under an unspecified article of the criminal code.
Russia has already targeted opposition figures and journalists with a law seeking jail terms of up to 15 years for those convicted of intentionally spreading “fake” news about Russia’s military.
Glukhovsky is the first major cultural figure to be put on the wanted list due to the new law, adopted days after Russia sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24….
From 20th Century Studios, the newest installment in the “Predator” saga features a face-off between the alien super-hunter and the Comanche Nation 300 years ago. Throughout the two-minute trailer, viewers get to see the Predator in full apex-hunter mode, murdering bears with ease, showing off its skilled hand-to-hand combat and invisibly chasing down human prey through a field.
“Prey” is set to follow the story of a young Comanche woman, Naru, played by Amber Midthunder. The vicious and deadly warrior sets out to protect her people from the horrifying killing machine, vowing that she can kill the creature. Of course, that task is easier said than done. Nevertheless, Naru must use wit and intense skill to stand a chance against the ancient alien being.
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg of “10 Cloverfield Lane” and “The Boys,” the filmmakers behind “Prey” aimed to create an accurate portrayal of the Comanche. The film thus features numerous Native American identities in front of and behind the camera, including Native Comanche producer Jhane Myers and a cast made up almost entirely of Native and First Nations talent. Joining Midthunder is Dakota Beavers, Michelle Thrush, Stormee Kipp and Julian Black Antelope. Dane DiLiegro plays the Predator….
(3) WOODEN YOU LIKE TO BE A PEPPER TOO? Joan Acocello explores “The Transformations of Pinocchio” in The New Yorker. “How Carlo Collodi’s puppet took on a life of his own.”
Of the half-dozen or so films that turned Walt Disney, in the public’s mind, from the father of Mickey Mouse to the creator of the animated fairy-tale feature—thereby making his work a fixture in the imaginative life of almost every American child—“Pinocchio” (1940) feels like the odd one out. Many people say it is their least favorite. It is surely the most frightening. Go to anyone you know who was in grammar school in the nineteen-forties and fifties and ask, What was the Disney movie that scared you the most? Was it “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937), where the evil queen falls off a cliff to her death? (Dr. Benjamin Spock once wrote that all the seats in the vast auditorium of Radio City Music Hall had to be reupholstered because so many children wet their pants while watching the film.) Well, what about “Dumbo” (1941), where the baby elephant has to watch as his mother is whipped and chained, howling for her child? O.K., what about “Bambi” (1942), where the fawn’s mother is shot to death a few feet away from him? You can’t beat that, can you?
But, for some reason, “Pinocchio” does. Perhaps the answer lies not in any one scene but in the movie’s over-all bleakness….
(4) FREE READ. Issue 5 of Whetstone Magazine of Sword and Sorcery is now available, and Cora Buhlert has a story called “Village of the Unavenged Dead” in it. There also are stories by G.T. Wilcox, Michael Burke, George Jacobs, Dariel Quiogue, T.A. Markitan, Robert O’Leary, Charles Dooley, Jason M. Waltz, Gregory D. Mele, H.R. Laurence, Anthony Perconti, Chuck Clark, Nathaniel Webb, Patrick Groleau, J. Thomas Howard, B. Harlan Crawford, Rev. Joe Kelly, Rett Weissenfels and Scott Oden as well as an evocative cover by Carlos Castilho. And it’s 100% free.
(5) VERTLIEB MEDICAL UPDATE. Steve Vertlieb, who made it through heart surgery, told Facebook friends his recovery from another procedure to fix a pseudoaneurysm and blood clot is not going well and will require more work by the surgeon.
I remain in a weakened and fragile condition due to these latest setbacks. My vital signs for my heart and lungs appear strong, however. Everyone’s continued prayer support would be deeply and most genuinely appreciated. Thanks most sincerely.
(6) OH, YOU RASCAL! John Scalzi will do it his way. Of course!
In the outpouring of grief immediately after the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, posts appeared on Twitter and other social media platforms about a man named “Bernie.” He was a teacher at Robb Elementary School who died sheltering his students from gunfire, the posts said. Many of the posts included a picture of a grinning, bearded man in glasses.
Some commenters piped up, saying they had seen that face, and that name, before.
On that point, they were right. “Bernie” and the photograph had appeared before on some Twitter accounts that looked as if they were from news organizations like CNN, Fox News and the BBC. One of those accounts said the man was a journalist executed in Kabul by the Taliban. A second one said he was an activist killed in Ukraine by a mine planted by Russian-backed separatists. A third said he was murdered in last month’s massacre at a grocery store in Buffalo.
For those inclined toward conspiracy theories, the conclusion was obvious: “Bernie” was a so-called crisis actor, employed by the left to drum up sympathy for causes like gun control. His repeated appearances were used to prop up theories that major tragedies were hoaxes and that the mainstream media was complicit.
On all those points, the conspiracy theorists were wrong. There is no “Bernie,” he’s not a crisis actor, and news organizations are not behind the posts. And the photo? It is of a 36-year-old online gamer, Jordie Jordan. He’s alive, and he had nothing to do with the posts.
Instead, the posts are part of a yearslong harassment campaign against him, taking place on online platforms like Twitter, Reddit and Discord….
…Mr. Jordan, who streams himself playing video games on YouTube under the Wings of Redemption handle, has nearly 440,000 subscribers. He began playing Call of Duty for an online audience in 2008, after losing a job at a steel mill. Before that, he regularly appeared on a podcast, where he attracted some criticism for his statements, including some homophobic and racial slurs, and comments in support of lowering the age of consent. “I have apologized profusely for the error of my juvenile thought process and live with the ramification of that every day,” he said, attributing the comments to his “shock jock” routine.
He said he had first learned of the “Bernie” meme from Reddit posts in 2020. The photo that is used is a selfie he took on his front porch in 2018 and posted on Twitter….
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1997 – [By Cat Eldridge.] If you had HBO back a quarter of a century ago on this night, you might have seen the first episode of the Perversions Of Science series. It is a spin-off of the horror series Tales from the Crypt, another HBO series, and like that series, all of its episodes were based on EC Comics’s Incredible Science Fiction, Weird Fantasy and Weird Science books.
William Gaines, the publisher and co-editor of EC Comics, gets credit as creator of this series.
Perversion of Science is hosted by a computer-generated female robot named Chrome which is voiced by Maureen Teefy. Chrome both introduces the story and adds a coda. Unlike the Crypt Keeper who was decidedly grim, Chrome preferred a light banter with element of sex tossed in.
There was but one season of ten episodes — unlike Tales from the Crypt which lasted seven seasons and eighty-nine episodes. It was supposed to be pure SF with the added elements being HBO of graphic violence, nudity, profanity and sex. I did say it was HBO.
It really had a lot of well-know performers — Will Wheaton, William Shatner, Sean Astin, Jeffery Coombs, Yancy Butler and Keith Carradine are but some of the actors you’ll recognize there.
The stories I remember as being, well, not bad, not great. HBO never did really get the jones for doing true SF. They were more comfortable with horror. A lot more comfortable.
As Chris Varner of Dallas Morning anew summed up neatly: “The formula goes something like this: Take liberties with sex and psychopaths whenever possible and let the plot chips fall where they may. ADVERTISEMENT Unfortunately, they tend to fall in big, ungainly heaps. No one expects Serling-esque profundity from an after-hours HBO fantasy. But with only one of the first four episodes transcending the series’ comic-book source material, the future of Science looks dim.”
It has no rating at Rotten Tomatoes because to my knowledge it was never released on any digital media, and it’s not available anywhere to buy, rent or stream anywhere. I think they put it back in the vault and decided to keep it there.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 7, 1915 — Graham J. Ingels. Illustrator best remembered for his work in EC Comics during the Fifties, most notably on The Haunt of Fear,Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror. He illustrated one genre magazine, Planet Stories cover as you can see here. Though he didn’t do any other covers, he was a regular interior artist for both Planet Stories and Planet Comics. (Died 1991.)
Born June 7, 1932 — Kit Reed. Her first short story, “The Wait” (1958), was published by Anthony Boucher in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. She would write more stories than I care to count over her career for which she was nominated for the James Tiptree Jr. Award three times. I’m not at all familiar with her novels, so do tell me about them please. The usual suspects now have a generous amount of her fiction available which wasn’t true a few years ago. (Died 2017.)
Born June 7, 1937 — Jack Zipes, 85. A truly amazing academic who once royally irritated a friend of mine for having an unrelentingly negative attitude towards Walt Disney whose films, he believes, corrupted the original works of folklorists such as Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm. Disney, according to Zipes, completely distorted those stories. Need I add that friend lived near Disney World and had met Disney more than once? I like him and think that he’s a folklorist of the first order. His Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales is required reading for anyone interested in that subject, and if can accept if his anti-Disney bias, The Enchanted Screen: The Unknown History of Fairy-Tale Films is fascinating reading. Again setting aside that matter of the anti-Disney bias, Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales, Children, and the Culture Industry is really great reading. He did a lot of fairy tale anthologies of which I’ll single out Victorian Fairy Tales: The Revolt of the Fairies and Elves and Beauty and the Beast and Other Classic French Fairy Tales. Both are most excellent reading.
Born June 7, 1952 — Liam Neeson, 70. He first shows up in genre films as Gawain in Excalibur and as Kegan in Krull. He plays Martin Brogan In High Spirits, a film I enjoy immensely. Next up is the title role in Darkman, a film I’ve watched myriad times. He’s Dr. David Marrow In The Haunting which I’d contend is loosely off of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Now we get him as Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace. Followed unfortunately by his horrid take as Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins and as a cameo in The Dark Knight Rises. Now he voiced Aslan with amazing dignity in The Chronicles of Narnia franchise and I hope voiced Zeus as well in the Titans franchise. Recently he showed up on The Orvillle — who hasn’t? — as Jahavus Dorahl in “If the Stars Should Appear” episode. He’s in the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series as Qui-Gon Jinn in two episodes by using archive material and in the Tales of the Jedi series voicing the same character.
Born June 7 1954, — Louise Erdrich, 68. Writer of novels, poetry, and children’s books featuring Native American characters and settings. She is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Her genre work includes according to ISFDB the Ojibwe series of The Antelope Wife, a work which won a World Fantasy Award, and The Painted Drum, plus stand-alone novels of The Crown of Columbus (co-written with her husband Michael Dorris) and Future Home of the Living God. She’s amply stocked at the usual suspects at reasonable prices.
Born June 7, 1955 — Mark Schultz, 67. His best work I think is his own written-and-largely-illustrated-by-him Xenozoic Tales book series about a post-apocalyptic world where dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures coexist with humans. He’s done more mainstream work including Star Wars and Aliens (Dark Horse), The Flash (DC) and Prince Valiant currently at King Features.
Born June 7, 1960 — Bill Prady, 62. Impressively, he’s co-creator with Chuck Lorre of The Big Bang Theory and The Muppets series which he did in 2015 with Bob Kushell. Well maybe not impressively in the case of the second… He wrote one episode of Voyager, “Bliss”. And he’s the writer of a Munsters film I’ve never heard of, Here Come the Munsters.
Born June 7, 1968 — Sarah Parish, 54. In “The Runaway Bride“, a Tenth Doctor story, she got to play, with the assistance of extensive CGI, one of the nastiest Who villains to date, The Empress of the Racnoss, an oversized vicious spider with a human face. Great episode. It’s our introduction to Donna Noble, his Companion for quite some time to come. In a much lighter role, she played Pasiphaë on BBC’s Atlantis series.
Where would Superman be without the red flutter of his cape, the yellow light of Earth’s sun—and the green screen behind him? The green screen never makes it into the movies, of course; it’s replaced by a sky full of stars, or the skyline of Metropolis. For more than a century, filmmakers have been using the “green screen” technique—or, to be precise, chroma key compositing—to allow us to believe that their actors are doing the impossible. That they’re soaring above the Earth, or investigating a crime in Toontown, or assembling the Avengers, or encountering a T. rex.
In fact, green-screen filmmaking is so easy—and, studio execs will admit thankfully, so cheap—that it’s even used for less fantastic scenes. Men getting out of a car near a motel in David Fincher’s series Mindhunter? Green screen: there was no motel, just a sign on a studio set in front of a big ol’ screen of green. Man explaining the cold front on the nightly news? Green screen. It’s gotten to the point where not using green screens, as in the recently released (and box office smash) Top Gun: Maverick, is a matter of sweaty, hard-working pride.
So where did the green screen come from? And why is it so popular? And most importantly: why is it green?….
(12) QUEEN’S PLATINUM JUBILEE. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie found a video of the “Platinum Party at the Palace” that is watchable outside the UK. He advises, “For optimal viewing include one large mug of builders tea and/or pint real ale served at cellar temperature (4 – 5’C) and commence viewing 1 hour 50 minutes before sunset (to get a feel of the live experience).”
(13) YIKES. Meanwhile, Cliff photographed this off-trail celebration of the Jubilee: “Imagine my wife and I’s surprise when, during a hospital visit, we stumbled upon the lair of the Lich Queen of Chelsea And Westminster!”
…A collaboration between MoMA and LEGO, the set reinterprets Van Gogh’s thick impasto brushwork in 2316 tiny plastic bricks, including a mini figure of the artist, equipped with paintbrush, palette, easel, and an adjustable arm for positioning him at sufficient distance to gain perspective on his world famous work.
… The set is the winning entry in a LEGO Ideas competition. Designer Truman Cheng, a 25-year-old LEGO fan and PhD candidate focusing on medical robotics and magnetic controlled surgical endoscopes. He had long wanted to render The Starry Night in LEGO, but its execution required a lightbulb moment…
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” the Screen Junkies say the film has “magic politics” and “Magic black-site prisons and execution chambers” that “bleeds the child-like wonder from this franchise like a necromancer’s jacuzzi.” But what glop is in this film that reminds the narrator of “The Mexican pizza at Taco Bell?”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Jan Vaněk jr,Olav Rokne, Cora Buhlert, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cliff, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
This year Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki became the first African writer to win the Nebula Award for Best Novelette for his story “O2 Arena ,” with that story also making him the first African writer to be a finalist for the Hugo Award in the same category. In addition, he became the first person from Africa to be a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Editor, Short Form, for his work on the groundbreaking anthology Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction.
This fundraiser is to allow Ekpeki to travel from Nigeria to attend Chicon 8, the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Chicago. In addition to allowing Ekpeki to attend the Worldcon where he is a finalist for two Hugo Awards, the fundraiser will also enable him to work on building in-person connections at Worldcon between genre fans and professionals from Africa and around the world….
(2) 2024 NASFIC BID. The Buffalo in 2024 NASFiC bid chair Wayne Brown answered File 770’s question about who is on the committee. Says Brown:
We have a small group right now but are looking to add more committee members. Right now the committee consists of:
The next day we had a parade through central London and even the Daleks were well behaved.
(5) PULP FOREVER. Cora Buhlert has an essay about Harald Harst, a forgotten German pulp detective of the Weimar Republic era, in The Drink Tank #439 on page 10:
So-called dime novels or penny dreadfuls are a child of the industrial revolution, when the invention of the rotary printing press made it possible to publish cheap literature for the masses. The dime novel was born in the mid-nineteenth century and in the United States gave way to pulp magazines at the turn of the twentieth century. But in Germany, the dime novel never died….
(6) HE’S BACK. Netflix announced The Sandman will begin airing August 5.
There is another world that waits for all of us when we close our eyes and sleep — a place called the Dreaming, where The Sandman, Master of Dreams (Tom Sturridge), gives shape to all of our deepest fears and fantasies. But when Dream is unexpectedly captured and held prisoner for a century, his absence sets off a series of events that will change both the dreaming and waking worlds forever. To restore order, Dream must journey across different worlds and timelines to mend the mistakes he’s made during his vast existence, revisiting old friends and foes, and meeting new entities — both cosmic and human — along the way. Based on the beloved award-winning DC comic series written by Neil Gaiman, THE SANDMAN is a rich, character-driven blend of myth and dark fantasy woven together over the course of ten epic chapters following Dream’s many adventures.
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1980 – [By Cat Eldridge.] It’s been forty-two years since this film came out and I can’t remember if I’ve seen it. It certainly sounds familiar but that doesn’t mean anything. So let’s get to it.
It was both directed and written by William Sachs who previously had done Secrets of the Gods (re-released in theatres as The Force Beyond in 1977) and The Incredible Melting Man. It was produced by Marilyn Jacobs Tenser who had absolutely no genre background though she did produce Superchick and The Pom Pom Girls.
The cast consisted of Stephen Macht, Avery Schreiber. James David, Hinton Lionel and Mark Smith. And one more individual — Dorothy Stratten. Now let’s be honest, Dorothy Stratten was Galaxina. Literally. And as she was a Playboy Playmate, she was the only draw for this R-rated SF film which also had a triple breasted alien in it a decade before Total Recall had its triple-breasted Mars whore.
As Jeffrey Anderson said in his review, “Unfortunately, the actual movie isn’t much. Stratten in fact plays a robot and doesn’t do or say much for at least the first half of the movie; and, despite her Playboy status, she keeps her clothes on. Then we’ve got the rest of the movie to deal with: it’s a lazy attempt to spoof the popular sci-fi movies of the day, including Star Wars, Alien, and many others, but the jokes are little more than references and they simply don’t work.”
It was made in less than three weeks on a shoestring budget of about five million and the box office was somewhat less than that. It was never released outside of the States.
No, the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes do not like it, giving it just a twenty-three percent rating.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 6, 1918 — Richard Crane. In the Fifties, he would be cast in two of the series that largely defined the look and feel of televised SF for a decade. First, he was the dashing lead in Rocky Jones, Space Ranger which lasted for thirty-nine thrilling episodes; second, he’s Dick Preston in nine of the twelve episodes of the wonderfully titled Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe. He was also the lead in the fifteen-chapter serial Mysterious Island which was a very loose adaption of the Jules Verne novel. He died far too young died of a heart attack at the age of fifty. (Died 1969.)
Born June 6, 1931 — Joan Marshall. She played Lt. Areel Shaw in Star Trek‘s “Court Martial”, a rather excellent affair. Her other major genre other was as Wilma in The Twilight Zone‘s “Dead Man’s Shoes”. She also had roles in Men in Space, The Outer Limits, The Munsters and I-Spy. The Munsters appearance was in My Fair Munster, the Unaired Pilot as Phoebe Munster. (Died 1992.)
Born June 6, 1936 — Levi Stubbs. Remember the voice of Audrey in The Little Shop of Horrors film? (It was nominated for a Hugo at Conspiracy ’87 the year Aliens won.) Well that was this individual who was the lead vocalist of the Four Tops. Cool, very cool. On the film soundtrack, he performs “Feed Me (Git It)”, “Suppertime” and “Mean Green Mother From Outer Space”. (Died 2008.)
Born June 6, 1947 — Robert Englund, 75. I think his best performance was as Blackie on the very short-lived Nightmare Cafe. Short-lived as in just six episodes. Of course most will remember him playing Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. He actually appeared in a couple of now forgotten horror films, Dead & Buried and Galaxy of Terror, before landing that role. And he’s continued to do myriad horror films down to the years ranging from CHUD to Strippers vs Werewolves. (Really. Truly. He did.) Versatile man, our Robert. So versatile in fact that he’s on Stranger Things as Victor Creel in a recurring role.
Born June 6, 1951 — Geraldine McCaughrean, 71. Fifteen years ago, she wrote Peter Pan in Scarlet, the official sequel to Peter Pan commissioned by Great Ormond Street Hospital, the holder of Peter Pan’s copyright which J.M. Barrie granted them. So has anyone here read it? By the way, she’s extremely prolific having now written over one hundred and eighty books!
Born June 6, 1959 — Amanda Pays, 63. I first encountered her as Thero Jones on Max Headroom, a series I think should be considered one of the best SF series ever made. She appeared as Dawn in the Spacejacked film. She also had a guest role as Phoebe Green in the episode “Fire” of The X-Files, and was cast as Christina “Tina” McGee in The Flash of the 1990 series, and she has a recurring role on the present Flash series as the same character.
Born June 6, 1963 — Jason Isaacs, 59. Captain Gabriel Lorca, the commanding officer of the USS Discovery in the first season of Discovery and also provided the voice of The Inquisitor, Sentinel, in Star Wars Rebels, and Admiral Zhao in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Oh, and the role of Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter film franchise.
Born June 6, 1964 — Jay Lake. Another one who died far too young. If you read nothing else by him, read his brilliant Mainspring Universe series. Though his Green Universe is also extremely entertaining. He won an Astounding Award for Best New Writer and an Endeavour Award for Last Plane to Heaven: The Final Collection which collects a lot of his most excellent short fiction. He has two Hugo nominations, one at Noreascon 4 for his “Into the Gardens of Sweet Night” novelette and one at LoneStarCon3 for his “The Stars Do Not Lie” novella. (Died 2014.)
… On June 2, the Shah and his wife were due to visit West Berlin. Therefore, the student parliament of the Free University organised a panel discussion about the Iranian regime on the day before. Among those invited to speak at the meeting was Bahman Nirumand. The Iranian embassy in West Germany was incensed and demanded that the panel discussion be cancelled. However, the chancellor of the Free University refused, citing the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. This is not the first time that the Iranian government has tried to suppress criticism in West Germany, by the way. They have also repeatedly invoked a lese-majeste law dating from the days of the Second German Empire (which ended fifty years ago) in order to have unfavourable news articles retracted….
… I have a hard time writing about artists because their images speak so much louder and more potently than words. Just spend a minute looking at the covers of the Berkley Medallion Conans, and your tribute to Kelly’s passing is paid. Maybe you are lucky enough to have copies with the foldout posters intact. Kelly’s iconic images of Conan alone make him an S&S immortal, and of course they only scratch the surface of his epic 50 year career….
(11) LOVECRAFT: IT’S COMPLICATED. At Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein, Serbian horror author and scholar Dejan Ognjanović explains what the works of H.P. Lovecraft mean to him: “A Serbian Looks At Lovecraft”.
… In my childhood, in the early 1980s, during my initial investigations into the scarce horror fiction then available in Serbian, Lovecraft was literally unknown. Not a single story by him had been translated by my late teens, i.e. by 1989. Thus my first encounter with him was indirect – it was through the ideaof Lovecraft, as re-imagined in an Italian comic series Martin Mystere, the episode “The House at the Edge of the World” (“La Casa ai confini di mundo”, 1982), which I read in the summer of 1986, when I was 13. It was love at first sight: for the first time I encountered the concept of houses haunted not by ghosts or any traditional monster, but by unnamable inter-dimensional entities; it also involved places serving as portals into non-Euclidean spaces, nameless cosmic vistas, alien temples and weird-looking gods/demons…
A ‘Witcher school’ located in Poland has been forced to close after its licence was abruptly pulled by the game’s publisher.
The reasons for which are currently unclear but organisers have claimed that the decision was due to a staff member’s involvement with an ultra-conservative political group, according to Eurogamer.
[CD Projekt Red pulled the license because of a staff member’s involvement with the ultra-conservative Polish Catholic organization Ordo Iuris, which is anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ+, and rejects the idea of gender equality.]
The Witcher School ran live-action role-playing (LARP) events in Poland themed around the popular videogame series with 40 editions of the event and over 3000 “Witchers” taking part.
But after 7 years, the publisher of the hit videogame series, CD Projekt Red, officially ended the contract with the school in February 2022 with a three-month notice, effectively ending their use of The Witcher’s characters, setting and storylines.
It’s been forty years since Spock put the needs of the many ahead of the needs of the few — or the one — in the final moments of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. With the U.S.S. Enterprise‘s warp drive inoperable thanks to a devastating attack launched by Khan Noonien Singh (Richardo Montalban), Starfleet’s most popular Vulcan officer descends into the starship’s engine room and absorbs a lethal dose of radiation, surviving just long enough to save the day and say goodbye to his closest companion, James T. Kirk. And no matter how many times you’ve seen Wrath of Khan in the four decades since the movie’s June 4, 1982 release, Spock’s passing never fails to trigger tears, whether you’re human, Klingon… or Gorn.
The tears were certainly flowing on the Wrath of Khan set when William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy — who had been part of each other’s lives since the 1966 premiere of the original Star Trek TV series — played what was intended to be their final scene together. In his 2010 memoir, The View From the Bridge, Wrath of Khan director, Nicholas Meyer, described members of the crew weeping as Spock told Kirk: “I have been, and always shall be, your friend.”…
The Webb’s two other instruments, the Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) and the Fine Guidance Sensor/Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS/NIRISS) don’t capture photo-like images of the universe. Instead, they sort incoming light from distant objects into distinct wavelengths. Scientists can then use these data to measure the temperature and chemical makeup of those objects.
“We will release the scientific data from those observations as well — not just the color JPGs, but also the actual quantitative data — to the astronomical community,” Pontoppidan explains.
What can we expect to see in those first images and data? The Webb team is keeping specific spoilers under wraps, but they’ve offered a few (very broad) hints…
(16) NOSE FOR NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is the first trailer for Disney’s Pinocchio remake, which is not Guillermo del Toro’s version (That’s a Netflix project.)
This reminds me of the version of Pinocchio that sank Roberto Benigni’s career because he stupidly played Pinocchio instead of Geppetto. “Call the vice squad!” warned Washington Post critic Stephen Hunter. “It’s a 50-year-old man wearing jammies!”
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] David Sproxton and Peter Lord, creators of Aardman Animations, explain how stop-motion animation is done in this excerpt from a 1981 episode of Blue Peter.
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Jason Sanford, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kaboobie.]