(1) FACES IN THE NEWS. A long, detailed infographic has been posted here by Chengdu Association for Science and Technology (Chengdushi Kexue Jishu Xiehui), which Zimozi Natsuco says, “is always considered as the upper guidance institution of Chengdu Science Fiction Association”. It is translated:
Understand Worldcon by 1 picture: All you want to know about 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention is here!
It opens with a six-pack of guests:
Shown in addition to GoHs Robert J. Sawyer and Liu Cixin are new guests Michael Swanwick, David Wesley Hill, Touya Tachihara and Kim Bo-young.
(2) TWO BEAUTIES. In two minutes James Bacon tells the story of two copies of X-Men 28, featuring the debut of Banshee, one with fanhistorical significance.
I share here two issues of X-Men 28, videoed in the basement of Sub-City in Dublin. The very nice high grade copy on the left belongs to the store, the one on the right is of Irish fanhistorical significance. Both are very beautiful.
(3) SEANAN MCGUIRE VIRTUAL AND LIVE APPEARANCES. Join urban fantasy author Seanan McGuire as she celebrates the two new additions to the October Daye series — Sleep No More and The Innocent Sleep— with a series of events.
October 30 — Seanan McGuire in Conversation at University Book Store in Seattle, WA
(4) JUST ADD WATER. Radio Times reports “Doctor Who lost story The Underwater Menace to be animated”.
The partially missing Doctor Who adventure The Underwater Menace is set to be restored with new animated visuals.
Out of 253 episodes from the show’s first six years, 97 remain lost in their original form, due to the BBC’s policy of junking archive programming between 1967 and 1978.
However, audio recordings of all episodes exist, with The Underwater Menace – a 1967 serial starring Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor – being the latest story to be given new life by way of animation….
All four episodes will be animated in colour for a new DVD and Blu-ray release – though the second and third episodes do exist in their original live-action form and these will also be available on the set, along with the option to watch the animated episodes in black-and-white.
(5) OCTOTHORPE. John Coxon, Alison Scott and Liz Batty read Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty. They they talked about it, and recorded it, and now you can listen to it: “Resolutely Alison All the Time”. You can also play the fun game, ”Who was away during the recording time leading to the release of a bonus episode”, which is always a hoot, eh?
(6) BARBIE’S INFERNO. Fanac.org has posted the audio recording from Minicon 23 (1988) of Jeanne Gomoll reading her fanzine article “Barbie’s Inferno”. (There’s a YouTube transcript available.)
Minicon 23 was held April 1-3, 1988. On Saturday afternoon, David Emerson hosted a program of fanzine readings, including Jeanne Gomoll’s reading of her hysterical short piece, “Barbie’s Inferno.” This 18 minute audio recording, enhanced with images, is a delightful visit both to that program in 1988, and to the subject matter – Jeanne Gomoll’s childhood experiences with Barbie…Jeanne is an outstanding writer, as well as an excellent reader. This short recording provides an empathetic glimpse into what many fans have experienced — what it’s like to grow up in a family where you and your parents have very different ideas of who you should be. Plus you learn about waxers.
Thanks to Geri Sullivan for recording, preserving, digitizing and providing this program.
Originally published in Harlot (edited by Anne-Laurie Logan and Avedon Carol, 1983), a newly revised version of “Barbie’s Inferno” is contained in Pretending, the first volume of Jeanne’s two volume memoir, Pretending and Becoming (to be released).
(7) PROMETHEUS AWARDS CEREMONY AUGUST 19. Sarah Hoyt (Darkship Thieves) and Dave Freer (Cloud-Castles) will participate in the 43rd annual Prometheus Awards live Zoom ceremony Saturday, August 19, along with leaders from The Heinlein Society and Heinlein Trust.
The Libertarian Futurist Society’s half-hour awards show is free and open to the public, including all interested sf/fantasy fans, and will begin at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. The Zoom link is here.
This Prometheus Blog post also has the Zoom link and more details about the speakers.
(8) FREE READ. Grist shares new climate fiction from Imagine 2200 in “When We Are Ruins, Dance On Us”.
A revolution has moved society off of fossil fuels. In Singapore, the former Supreme Court building, long abandoned and newly haunted, bemoans what it has lost. Through the building’s musings, we hear about how the world has changed, and how hard it can be for the privileged to let go of an unjust past that benefited them.
(9) HOW FI IS CLI-FI? Ann-Marie Cahill asks “How Accurate is Climate Fiction? (And Does Is Matter?)” at Book Riot.
Here’s a great question to kick off your next book club meeting: How Accurate is Climate Fiction? To be clear, I am not questioning the Climate Crisis, nor any of the far-more-educated-than-me climate scientists who feel like they have been screaming into the void for eons. Unfortunately, you are more likely to elicit action out of people with an Aerosmith song and Bruce Willis brooding in space than reading the latest World Meteorological Organization report (it’s here, in case you’re interested).
The follow-up to this great opener is, naturally: Do We Even Want Cli-Fi to be Accurate? And there lies the problem. Science Fiction has always been the go-to genre for exploring our options. Climate Fiction (or cli-fi) fits in this perfectly, giving us a literary platform to test our worst-case scenarios and come up with some inspiration to make it better. Or at least that’s the theory. Cli-fi has been a fairly popular sub-genre for science fiction, with a recent surge in the last five years — not a surprise when you consider the growing need to do something about the Climate Crisis. For many climate scientists, it may be the best way to impart much-needed information to the general public. Of course, there is a fine line between accurate and “based on sound scientific principle.” One sells the hard science message, and the other sells the books. The difference is a question of how much accuracy we, as the reader, can handle in our climate fiction. And if it’s not accurate, why don’t we feel any better about our future? …
…In short, Climate Fiction is as accurate as the author wants it to be. Whether the book passes your mental benchmark for accuracy, reasonable scientific principle, or an acceptable suspension of disbelief is completely up to you. If you don’t like it, you can always close the book. Life’s too short to spite-read….
(10) SCOFFER. Unlike the previous writer, Sergey Lukyanenko thinks what the West calls climate change is very overrated. Here’s a quote from the transcript of his appearance at VK Fest 2023, “The Image of the Future in Russian Science Fiction”.
What dangers await humanity? What do you see today from the key for the next 50 years?
SERGEY LUKYANENKO: I’m not going to talk about environmental problems, which are very fond of being raised in the West, because these problems, in fact, are much less terrible than they are trying to show us. This is a slightly invented problem from the finger, so that there is something to fight with and how to fill heads. I may say a sad thing for people, but on the scale of planet Earth, humanity, in general, is such a trifle that can be completely compressed into cubes and drowned in a small lake. They say that if all of humanity is collected and placed in Lake Baikal, the water level there will rise by only a couple of millimeters. That’s all you need to know about us and our impact on nature.
Of course, we do a lot of harm to nature, but some serious exploding volcano will release carbon dioxide and other dust into the atmosphere in a couple of days much more than humanity does in a year. Remember, there was such an Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull. As soon as he “baited” a little there in Iceland, and all over Europe, the planes stopped flying, because it became dangerous to fly. Ecology is not such a big problem, in my opinion.
(By the way, why is Lukyanenko’s picture missing from item #1?)
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born August 17, 1930 — Harve Bennett. The individual who gave us Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Really he did. He would then serve as Producer on the next three Trek films, The Search for Spock, The Voyage Home and The Final Frontier. Bennett also wrote Star Trek III, co-wrote the story and screenplay for Star Trek IV, and co-wrote the story for Star Trek V. His only on scene appearance is in the latter as the Starfleet Chief of Staff. He’s the voice of the Battle simulator computer in Wrath of Khan, and the Flight Recorder in the Search for Spock. (Died 2015.)
- Born August 17, 1945 — Rachel Pollack. She’s getting a Birthday note for her scripting duties on her run of issues 64–87 (1993-1995) of Doom Patrol. She also assisted in the creation of the Vertigo Tarot Deck with McKean and Gaiman, and she wrote a book to go with it. She won a World Fantasy Award for Godmother Night, and an Arthur C. Clarke Award winner for Unquenchable Fire. She also wrote Salvador Dali’s Tarot, a book-length exposition of Salvador Dalí’s Tarot deck, comprising a full-page color plate for each card, with her commentary on the facing page. (Died 2023.)
- Born August 17, 1956 — John Romita Jr., 67. If you’ve read Spider-Man since the Sixties, it’s very likely that you’ve seen his artwork as he had six stints on it between 1980 and 2009. He find a number of other titles on Marvel and DC including Superman, Ghost Rider, Hulk, All-Star Batman, Eternals, Captain America and Daredevil to name but a few of the titles he illustrated. He also worked with Mark Miller at Image Comics on Kick-Ass, and did the one shot Punisher/Batman: Deadly Knights.
- Born August 17, 1962 — Laura Resnick, 61. Daughter of Mike Resnick. She is a winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. She’s the author of the Esther Diamond series, and I’ve not read her Manhattan Magic series so I’m interested to know what y’all think of it. She’s readily available at the usual.
- Born August 17, 1966 — Neil Clarke, 57. Editor in Chief of Clarkesworld Magazine which has won a impressive number of Best Semiprozine Hugos and a World Fantasy Award before crossing the threshold to become a prozine. He’s a nine-time Best Editor – Short Form nominee. SFWA also gave him a Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. He edits The Best Science Fiction of the Year series for Night Shade Books.
- Born August 17, 1973 — Rae Carson, 50. She’s done ten novels including one in the Star Wars universe. (I’m tempted to say who hasn’t?) Quite impressively, her debut novel, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Award and the Andre Norton Award. And she is married to Charles Coleman Finlay, SF editor and writer.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
- Tom Gauld has it figured out.
(13) MORE SFF IN LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] There’s currently a Mini-League going on, focusing on “Notable Women of Asia”. Match Day 7 had this question:
The Astounding Award for Best New Writer, which is awarded to writers in science fiction or fantasy, was renamed after 2019 winner Jeannette Ng called its previous namesake “a fucking fascist” in her acceptance speech, a speech for which she won a Hugo the following year. In her 2020 acceptance speech for that Hugo, Ng called for the freedom of “my most cyberpunk of cities”, the place where she was born. What city is that?
The answer of course was Hong Kong: this had a 57% get rate, with the most common wrong answer being Hanoi (given by 8% of players).
Also in the recent past there was a One-Day Special quiz about the show Quantum Leap. You can read its questions here.
(14) MARRIAGE IS WHAT BRINGS US TOGETHER. The Marvel press release calls it the moment fans never thought would happen—the wedding of Emma Frost and Tony Stark! Taking place in X-Men #26 (on sale 9/6) and Invincible Iron Man #10 (on sale 9/27), writer Gerry Duggan will deliver this highly-anticipated story alongside X-Men artists Jim Towe and Javier Pina and Invincible Iron Man series artist Juan Frigeri. The Fall Of X era has hit both mutantkind and Iron Man where it hurts and as their enemies grow stronger, Emma and Tony will strengthen their alliance to “till death do they part!”
Witness the shocking proposal and Emma’s even more shocking answer in X-Men #26, and then put on your best Hellfire attire for the introduction of Mrs. and Mr. Emma Frost in Invincible Iron Man #10! The circumstances of the ceremony is riddled with secrets and subterfuge, but fans can get their first inside look at the nuptials in the X-Men / Iron Man: The Wedding of Emma Frost & Tony Stark Trailer, featuring never-before-seen artwork!
“Emma and Tony — I think now people are starting to get a sense of how they work,” Duggan told AiPT Comics in a recent X-Men Monday. “I hope you all check it out. They are getting married. I promise no shenanigans. Beyond that, I don’t know what you’re going to get.”
(15) SCIENTISTS LEAVING TWITTER. Nature surveyed scientists to ask their reasons for leaving Twitter. “Thousands of scientists are cutting back on Twitter, seeding angst and uncertainty”.
…Nature obtained the e-mail addresses of thousands of scientists who were identified through a social-media research project as having tweeted about papers on which they were a corresponding author1. The survey from Nature asked whether people had changed their use of Twitter in the past six months and why. The reasons respondents gave varied, but many of those who had markedly reduced or stopped their activity on X mentioned Musk’s management of the platform. Many said that they had noticed an uptick in the amount of fake accounts, trolls and hate speech on the platform.
Žiga Malek, an environmental scientist at the Free University of Amsterdam, mentioned in the survey that he had started seeing a lot of “strange” political far-right accounts espousing science denialism and racism in his feed. He has to block them constantly. “Twitter has always been not so nice let’s say, but it is a mess right now,” he said.
Researchers have found that, contrary to such public claims from Musk, hate speech increased after he took over2. Musk has threatened to sue at least one group studying these trends.
A lot of experts and specialists are leaving the platform, says Timothy Caulfield, a law scholar and science communicator at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. “If that happens, are we just making room for a massive echo chamber that can spread misinformation in a way that is very harmful to society?”
X did not respond to Nature’s request for comments.
Where are they going?
The most popular alternative social-media site that respondents mentioned opening accounts with was the free, open-source software platform Mastodon. Compared with X, Mastodon allows for better community moderation, says Rodrigo Costas, an information scientist at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands, who has been studying scientists’ use of Twitter since 2011. In February, he and Jonathan Dudek, a communications researcher also at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies, examined the Twitter profile information of 400,000 researchers — obtained for a previous research project3 — to see who was broadcasting their movement to other platforms. Roughly 3% of the profiles mention a Mastodon account, according to the researchers’ preliminary analysis.
Although it has been around for some seven years, Mastodon has a much smaller user base than do other social-media platforms. In Nature’s survey, LinkedIn was the second most popular place for respondents to open new accounts, and Instagram, owned by Meta, was third. Threads, also owned by Meta and pitched as an alternative to X, had started just a few days before the survey was launched. It reportedly attracted 100 million users in its first five days, and was the fourth-most-popular platform among survey respondents, with about 1,000 people saying that they had joined (See ‘Signs of dissatisfaction’)….
(16) I SHALL RETURN. The New Yorker tells what it learned about a growing business that parallels online selling: “What Happens to All the Stuff We Return?”
…Steady growth in Internet shopping has been accompanied by steady growth in returns of all kinds. A forest’s worth of artificial Christmas trees goes back every January. Bags of green plastic Easter grass go back every spring. Returns of large-screen TVs surge immediately following the Super Bowl. People who buy portable generators during weather emergencies use them until the emergencies have ended, and then those go back, too. A friend of mine returned so many digital books to Audible that the company now makes her call or e-mail if she wants to return another. People who’ve been invited to fancy parties sometimes buy expensive outfits or accessories, then return them the next day, caviar stains and all—a practice known as “wardrobing.” Brick-and-mortar shoppers also return purchases. “Petco takes back dead fish,” Demer said. “Home Depot and Lowe’s let you return dead plants, for a year. You just have to be shameless enough to stand in line with the thing you killed.” It almost goes without saying that Americans are the world’s leading refund seekers; consumers in Japan seldom return anything….
(17) SFF SALE. [Item by BGrandrath.] So here is another of my favorite BookTubers promoting a Whatnot sale. I recommend her channel; she has a series called Books Without Barcodes where she reviews…well, books published before they had barcodes. She gives a fresh look to books you and I read years ago. This video is titled “Once in a Lifetime Science Fiction Book Haul”.
[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, James Bacon, John Coxon, Michael Grossberg, BGrandrath, Ersatz Culture, Zimozi Natsuco, David Goldfarb, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]