Space Cowboy Books today announced that the 2022 Space Cowboy Award goes to Rachel Cordasco. Rachel Cordasco is the author of Out of This World: Speculative Fiction in Translation from the Cold War to the New Millennium, translator, and host of the amazing website SF in Translation.
The Space Cowboy Award is given annually for supportive endeavors and excellence in the field of science fiction. Each year a committee composed of Space Cowboy Bookstore owners Jean-Paul L. Garnier and Zara Kand, and the prior Space Cowboy Award recipients nominate several potential awardees, then vote to determine the year’s winner. Past award winners include Gideon & Janice Marcus (2020), and Cora Buhlert (2021).
“Star Trek” actor George Takei’s tweet asking Americans to endure paying a little more for food and gasoline as a result of sanctions President Biden imposed on Russia since its invasion of Ukraine caught fire on Twitter Saturday — and that fire is as hot-headed as you probably suspected.
“Americans: We can endure higher prices for food and gas if it means putting the screws to Putin,” Takei tweeted Friday. “Consider it a patriotic donation in the fight for freedom over tyranny.”
Twitter users flocked to Takei’s tweet to express their opinion of his suggestion, with many bashing his perceived wealth in a “HE can endure higher prices” but the average working-class American cannot kind of way. On the opposite side of the argument, Takei’s supporters pointed out that he and his family were sent to Japanese internment camps in Arkansas and California during WWII, so he knows the repercussion of people remaining silent when they should be speaking up…
(2) EXQUISITE TIMING FOR CROWDFUNDING. It’s a good week to launch a Kickstarter, don’t you think? Not that Edward Willett is any newcomer to the idea, with a track record of two previous successes. Willett opens his latest Kickstarter campaign at noon Eastern on March 8 to fund Shapers of Worlds Volume III, the third annual anthology featuring top writers of science fiction and fantasy who have been guests on his podcast, The Worldshapers (www.theworldshapers.com).
Shapers of Worlds Volume III will feature new fiction from Griffin Barber, Gerald Brandt, Miles Cameron, Sebastien de Castell, Kristi Charish, David Ebenbach, Mark Everglade, Frank J. Fleming, Violette Malan, Anna Mocikat, James Morrow, Jess E. Owen, Robert G. Penner, Cat Rambo, K.M. Rice, and Edward Willett; poetry from Jane Yolen; and additional stories by Cory Doctorow, K. Eason, Walter Jon Williams, and F. Paul Wilson.
Backers’ rewards offered by the authors include numerous e-books, signed paperback and hardcover books (including limited editions), Tuckerizations (a backer’s name used as a character name), commissioned artwork, original poetry (from Jane Yolen), audiobooks, opportunities for online chats with authors, short-story critiques, and more.
The Kickstarter campaign can be found here. The campaign goal is $12,000 CDN.
Most of those funds will go to pay the authors, with the rest going to reward fulfillment, primarily the editing, layout, and printing of the book, which will be published in both ebook and trade paperback formats by Willett’s publishing company, Shadowpaw Press (www.shadowpawpress.com). The special Kickstarter edition for backers will be followed by a commercial release this fall. Stretch goals are simple: for every $5,000 over the goal the campaign raises, the authors will be paid one cent a word more.
(3) BREAKING UP ISS HARD TO DO. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The head of Roscosmos is, as seems usual for him, talking loudly and carrying a big shtick. The Russian space agency has released a video showing cosmonauts waving goodbye to astronauts and splitting the Russian part of the International Space Station from the rest. They then “set sail” and depart from the ISS’s orbit with an impressive (and equally improbable) delta V for such a large mass. “Russia Releases Bizarre Video of Space Station Breaking Apart” at Futurism.
We’re not exactly sure what Russia’s space agency head Dmitry Rogozin is threatening the US with, but he certainly seems to be alluding to… something. A bizarre new video posted by state controlled media RIA Novosti showed the International Space Station breaking apart in an artist rendering after Russian cosmonauts bid adieu.
… Why should SFF fans in general and Hugo voters in particular read this book?
This book isn’t necessarily the kind of thing you’d read in one sitting by the fire (though you definitely could!). Rather, it’s the kind of book that you’d read to learn about SF from different source languages. You might read the Finnish chapter if you’re interested in Sinisalo or Krohn. Then, if you’ve picked up a work of Japanese space opera at a bookstore, you could turn to the relevant section to learn about that language’s wide variety of hard-science-fiction subgenres. You could even use the index to find themes that span the different SFTs and compose reading lists for your book club. Also, that cover is gorgeous (the people at UIP picked it), so it would be a lovely display for your coffee table….
… While many of the novels are good, it’s in the two short story collections, Spell of the Witch World (1972) and Lore of the Witch World (1980) that Norton really kills it. The stories range from straight sword-and-sorcery to horror to the aforementioned fairy tales. Her writing in these is tighter and often even darker than in the seven novels I’ve read. Several of them dig into a regular theme of the series; the place of women in a pre-industrial world. Where physical strength is the determinant of power, Norton makes it clear that women will often be at the mercy of men. It’s not easy and finding some sort of agency, whether with sword or spell, is an often brutal task. I cannot recommend these two collections enough….
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1992 — [Item by Cat Eldridge] Thirty years ago, The Lawnmower Man premiered. It is not based off the story by Stephen King by that name and King sued successfully to get paid damages and his name removed from any association with the film. He won further damages when his name was included in the title of the home video release. Some production companies never learn their lesson, do they?
The film is from an original screenplay called “CyberGod” written by Brett Leonard and Gimel Everett. The latter would later be involved in Virtuosity which like this film was lauded for its groundbreaking computer animation and visual effects.
It had a rather decent cast in Jeff Fahey, Pierce Brosnan, Jenny Wright and Geoffrey Lewis. None of which would be back for the sequel, Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace which is probably good as no one, and I mean no one, liked that sequel.
So how was the reception for it? Well it made thirty million against costs of ten million, so quite good there. (The sequel bombed at box office. Really bombed.) Now however most, though not all, critics hated it. The Spectator summed it up succinctly as “Gratuitously offensive” and the Washington Post reporter didn’t update his review later: “So loosely based on a Stephen King short story as to constitute fraud, The Lawnmower Man goes right to the bottom of a growing list of failed King adaptations.”
Now it is worth noting that audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes really, really didn’t like it as they gave it a quite poor thirty-one percent rating.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 6, 1918 — Marjii Ellers. Longtime L.A. fan who was active in the LASFS. Her offices in the LASFS included Registrar and Scribe. She was known for her costumes at cons. Indeed, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990 from the International Costumers’ Guild. An avid fanzine publisher and writer, some of the fanzines she edited were Masqueraders’ Guide, More Lives Than One, Nexterday, One Equal Temper, Thousands of Thursdays, and Judges’ Guide. (Died 1999.)
Born March 6, 1928 — William F. Nolan. Author of the long running Logan’s Run series (only the first was written with George Clayton Johnson). He started out in fandom in the Fifties publishing several zines including one dedicated to Bradbury. In May 2014, Nolan was presented with another Bram Stoker Award, for Superior Achievement in Nonfiction; this was for his collection about his late friend Ray Bradbury, called Nolan on Bradbury: Sixty Years of Writing about the Master of Science Fiction. He’s done far too much writing-wise for me to sum it him up. He was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. (Died 2021.)
Born March 6, 1937 — Edward L. Ferman, 85. Son of Joseph W. Ferman, the publisher and sometime editor who established F&SF in 1949. He took over as editor in 1964 and continued until 1991. For one year (1969), he edited and published a related magazine called Venture Science Fiction Magazine. Winner of a stellar eight Hugos mostly for Best Professional Magazine.
Born March 6, 1942 — Dorothy Hoobler, 80. Author with her husband, Thomas Hoobler, of the Samurai Detective series which is at least genre adjacent. More interestingly, they wrote a biography of Mary Shelley and her family called The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein which sounds absolutely fascinating. Note to ISFDB: no, it’s not a novel. Kindle has everything by them, alas Apple Books has only the biography.
Born March 6, 1942 — Christina Scull, 80. Tolkien researcher and married to fellow Tolkien researcher Wayne Hammond who all her books are co-authored with. Their first was J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, and I’ll single out just The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide and The Art of The Lord of the Rings as being worth your time seeking out.
Born March 6, 1957 — Ann VanderMeer, 65. Publisher and editor, and the second female editor of Weird Tales. At Anticipation, Weird Tales, edited by her and Stephen H. Segal, won the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine. She is also the founder of The Silver Web magazine, a periodical devoted to experimental and avant-garde fantasy literature. Her TheBig Book of Modern Fantasy (with Jeff VanderMeer) won a World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology.
Born March 6, 1972 — K J Bishop, 50. Australian writer who I really like, author of The Etched City which was nominated for the Aurelias, the International Horror Guild Award and World Fantasy while winning the Ditmar Award. Impressive. She also won the latter for Best New Talent. She’s also written a double handful of short stories, many collected in the Ditmar-winning That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote.
Born March 6, 1979 — Rufus Hound, 43. Ok, I admit it was his name that got him here. He’s also had the good fortune to appear as Sam Swift in “The Woman Who Lived”, easily one of the best Twelfth Doctor stories. He’s also played Toad twice in The Wind In The Willows, a musical written by Julian Fellowes, first in an out-of-town premiere in 2016, then in the West End in 2017.
My Super Hero Is Black will trace how these and other characters moved from the margins to the mainstream thanks to the work of creators like Billy Graham, Christopher Priest, Reginald Hudlin, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, among others. The book will also feature accounts from prominent Black creators and luminaries about their personal relationships with Marvel heroes….
(10) NOW AT BAT. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna and David Betancourt rank the six actors who have played Batman in films, saying that in their view Robert Pattinson does a good job but Michael Keaton remains the best Batman. (And I guess no spoiler warning is required when they put the result in the headline) “Best Batman actors ranked, from Robert Pattinson to Michael Keaton”.
… The comic-book Bat-world first created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane in the ’30s has spawned an entire tireless industry of screen adaptations, from mid-century movie serials to ’60s TV camp to animated titles — with Kevin Conroy and Will “Lego” Arnett especially shining as the voice of Gotham’s odd nocturnal knight.But for the sake of fair comparison, let’s rank the actors who have portrayed a live-action Batman in Warner Bros./DC’s modern film franchise since 1989. Without getting so serious, here is our freewheeling assessment of the Dirty Half-Dozen…
Interestingly, both surveys came up with the same number one.
(11) KSR NON-SFF. Publishers Weekly interviews Kim Stanley Robinson about his book The High Sierra: A Love Story in which he shares his admiration of the Sierras.
…What was the hardest part of putting your decades of experience hiking the Sierras into a book?
Memoir. I’ve never done it. I think it’s suspect, and hard in and of itself. It’s a fiction, memoir. You make your past self into a character, and you summarize things that took years, and you’re judging your earlier self. So that was hard.
You’re best known for your science fiction. What impact did the Sierras have on your novels?
My Sierra experience has been crucial to my science fiction because I’ve written science fiction that is aware that we are part of a biosphere, and that planets are actors in the story. They determine societies and individuals and consciousness. I felt that in myself because of my Sierra experiences. I’ve always been writing about planets changing, and my Mars trilogy could be seen as a gigantic climate change novel. So my work hangs together, intellectually, and also emotionally by way of this Sierra anchoring point….
(12) BAUM’S AWAY. A contestant on Friday night’s episode of Jeopardy! guessed wrong. If it hadn’t been about a work of fantasy, Andrew Porter would have let it slide. However….!
Category: The Elements of Literature
Answer: In a work by L. Frank Baum, the Scarecrow & this character are captured by a female giant & turned into a bear & an owl
Wrong question: What is the Cowardly Lion?
Correct question: What is the Tin Man?
(13) OVER HERE. While looking for articles about the claim of lunar ownership registered by the Bay Area’s Elves’, Gnomes’ and Little Men’s Science Fiction, Chowder, and Marching Society, Bill found this Oakland Tribune clipping about their meeting with Arthur C. Clarke during his first visit to America. In July 1952 the club held a banquet where they presented Clarke with the Invisible Little Man award – “a trophy which consists of the base of a statue with no statue, just a pair of mysterious footprints above the inscription…” The newspaper interview quotes Clarke’s hopes for a chain of communications satellites in geosynchronous orbits.
(14) PAWS FOR REFLECTION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Saturday Night Live explains that it’s a really bad idea to fire your police and fire fighters and replace them with the Paw Patrol!
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This Austin McConnell video is about the fake 1956 novel I, Libertine which was turned into a real novel by Theodore Sturgeon. I didn’t realize that the broadcasts of Jean Shepherd survive. “This Best-Selling Novel Was A Total Hoax!”.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Bill, Jeffrey Smith, Cora Buhlert, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]
Safe to assume that all WandaVision reviews are spoiler filled. Before the fold, I’ll say that in terms of TV history, the town of Westview (huh…only just noticed that’s WV) has lurched not so much to the 1990s as the 2000’s. I guess the sitcoms of the 1990s are tougher to fit into the model. Roseanne would be the most iconic family-orientated sitcom other than The Simpsons (oh, but a nod to The Simpsons with a Halloween episode and I would have loved a cartoon episode of WandaVision). When I think of 1990s US sitcoms, Friends is the most obvious but that wouldn’t make any sense. Instead the vibe is a bit closer to Malcolm in the Middle with some fourth wall breaking asides to the camera from the kids….
(2) ALTERNATE MOON. A featurette has dropped for Season 2 of For All Mankind.
Leap into the alternate universe of 1983. Go behind the scenes of For All Mankind Season 2. Premieres February 19 on the Apple TV app with an Apple TV+ subscription.
“Infinite Jest.” I’m on a mission to read everything David Foster Wallace wrote, and I’m slowly working my way through everything else before I get to that one. I’ve also got a copy of “The Three-Body Problem,” by Liu Cixin, which I’ve been meaning to read for a while.
What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?
I’ve always liked getting recommendations from other people, even when I was a little kid. I used to ask my teachers what their favorite books were and make my way through the lists they gave me. Our school librarian used to suggest things for me to read, too. She’d often give me books that were supposed to be for kids older than I was, which was very exciting for me. The book I probably read the most growing up was “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress,” a great science fiction book by Robert Heinlein.
How have your reading tastes changed over time?
I used to read a lot of science fiction when I was a kid, but not so much as an adult (although I rediscovered my love for the genre through Neal Stephenson’s incredible “Seveneves” a few years ago). …
(4) COSMOTECHNICS. In “From Tech Critique to Ways of Living” at The New Atlantis, Alan Jacobs, a humanities professor at Baylor University, analyzes Ursula Le Guin’s Always Coming Home about two-thirds of the way through the piece as part of his essay-review of books critiquing technology.
…Always Coming Home illustrates cosmotechnics in a hundred ways. Consider, for instance, information storage and retrieval. At one point we meet the archivist of the Library of the Madrone Lodge in the village of Wakwaha-na. A visitor from our world is horrified to learn that while the library gives certain texts and recordings to the City of Mind, some of their documents they simply destroy. “But that’s the point of information storage and retrieval systems! The material is kept for anyone who wants or needs it. Information is passed on — the central act of human culture.” But that is not how the librarian thinks about it. “Tangible or intangible, either you keep a thing or you give it. We find it safer to give it” — to practice “unhoarding.” She continues,
Giving involves a good deal of discrimination; as a business it requires a more disciplined intelligence than keeping, perhaps. Disciplined people come here … historians, learned people, scribes and reciters and writers, they’re always here, like those four, you see, going through the books, copying out what they want, annotating. Books no one reads go; books people read go after a while. But they all go. Books are mortal. They die. A book is an act; it takes place in time, not just in space. It is not information, but relation.
It is not information, but relation. This too is cosmotechnics….
It may not be the least bit spooky, but it’s true. The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, the non-profit founded by King and his wife to support community projects in Maine, is funding the publication of a manuscript written by group of young students enrolled in the Farwell Elementary School’s Author Studies Program.
The students initially planned to fund their project through a Kickstarter campaign, but when King’s foundation caught wind of it, they stepped in to cover the $6,500 cost of publishing the 290-page manuscript….
After 25 years at SF Site, my website has moved to a new url, including Silver Reviews, the Harry Turtledove website, the Murray Leinster website, my various bibliographies (Pluto, Chicago, Baseball, and Jewish SF). The new url is http://www.stevenhsilver.com. If people have links to any pages on my old website, they can replace the string sfsite.com/~silverag with stevenhsilver.com and the new link should work.
… The series resonated with readers of all backgrounds, but especially the artists. Indeed, before Bad Taste was a twinkle in Jackson’s eye, bands were springing up all over the globe who drew on Tolkien’s books for inspiration. By the ’70s, rockers like Led Zeppelin and Rush, jazz musicians like John Sangster, and folkies like Sally Oldfield had all composed music directly inspired by The Lord of the Rings. Ever since, bands have continued to spring up who root their iconography in Tolkien’s works, especially in heavy metal, where acts like Blind Guardian and Summoning have made long careers singing about the trials and tribulations of hobbits and dwarves.
A rigorous exploration of all those bands could fill the Book of Mazarbul, so this piece will have a slightly narrower—and less serious—focus. Consider this a Bandcamp Fellowship of the Bands, made up of artists who take their names from the nine members of the fellowship. How well do these projects line up with their namesakes, and can they complement each other as well as Tolkien’s nine did in ultimately destroying the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom? Settle down in your hobbit hole with a nice cup of tea and find out….
(8) EYEWITNESS MEMORIES. Cora Buhlert has another article up at Galactic Journey. “This one is about a plane crash that happened in January 1966 approx. 5 kilometres from my home. My Dad actually was an eye witness at the time and I used his memories as well as reports from other witnesses and first responders as the basis for this article. I also Googled every single name on the memorial to find out more about the people who died, because most reports only focus on the celebrity passengers/” “[February 2, 1966] Death in the Fields: The Lufthansa Flight 005 Crash”.
… By daylight, the sight was so horrible that even hardened veteran fire fighters who had lived through World War II were shocked. But the grim work was particularly hard on the young fire fighters and the teenaged volunteers of the West German federal disaster relief organisation THW who had been tasked with recovering the bodies. Even the ladies of the Delmenhorst Red Cross station who had been sent to Bremen to provide the helpers with coffee and sandwiches were not spared the horrible sights, because they had to pass through the makeshift morgue to deliver food to the helpers….
(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
February 13, 2002 — Special Unit 2 ends its run. Special Unit 2 was a Chicago-based unit charged with policing the city’s large population of mythological beings which were known as Links. It ran on UPN for two seasons and nineteen episodes. It was created by Evan Katz, and starring Michael Landes, Alexondra Lee and Danny Woodburn. If you’re interested, the first episode is watchable here. (CE)
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 13,1908 — Patrick Barr. He appeared in Doctor Who as Hobson in the Second Doctor story, “The Moonbase”, in the Seventies Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) “You Can Always Find a Fall Guy” episode and also in The Avengers as Stonehouse in the “Take me to Your Leader” episode. His last genre role was as the British Ambassador in Octopussy. (Died 1985.) (CE)
Born February 13, 1933 — Patrick Godfrey, 88. His very first acting was as Tor in a First Doctor story, “The Savages. He’d be in a Third Doctor story, “Mind of Evil”, as Major Cotsworth. His last two acting roles have both been genre — one being the voice of a Wolf Elder in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle; the other Butler in His Dark Materials. (CE)
Born February 13, 1935 – John Holmes. Twoscore covers for us; thousands of images all told. Here is The Door Into Summer. Here is The Man Who Had No Idea. Here is Nabokov’s Despair. The Guardian noted his “visual puns … intellectual debates … disturbing, provocative, witty or lyrical … layered with meaning…. art director at … Ogilvy & Mather…. Detective novels, drama, sociology, astrology books and women’s liberation [“I don’t know if my insensitivity is any worse than their iconoclasm”]…. humming-birds fill the red halo of Beethoven’s deafness…. Laurel and Hardy, together or singly, were favourite subjects.” (Died 2011) [JH]
Born February 13, 1938 — Oliver Reed. He first shows up in a genre film uncredited in The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll. His first credited role is Leon in The Curse of the Werewolf. He was King in The Damned, an SF despite its title, and Z.P.G. saw him cast as Russ McNeil. Next up was him as Athos in the very charming Three Musketeers, a role he reprised in Four Musketeers and Return of the Musketeers. And can we skip past him as Sarm in Gor please? Does Royal Flash count as genre? Kage Baker loved that rogue. Kage also loved The Adventures of Baron Munchausen in which he played Vulcan. Orpheus & Eurydice has him as Narrator, his final film role. (Died 1999.) (CE)
Born February 13, 1938 – Joanne Burger. Active in the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n), reviewed fanzines for TNFF (The Nat’l Fantasy Fan), then edited it; produced annual SF Published in – 1967-1979. Kaymar Award. Fan Guest of Honor at LoneStarCon the 3rd NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas; LSC II and LSC III were Worldcons). More here. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born February 13, 1943 — Leo Frankowski. Probably best known for his Conrad Stargard series featuring the Polish time travelling engineer Conrad Schwartz, but I’m more fond of his stand-alone novels Fata Morgana and Copernick’s Rebellion. (Died 2008.) (CE)
Born February 13, 1954 – Mary GrandPré, age 67. Two dozen covers, a dozen interiors, for us, many Harry Potter, where she’s most known; this one made the cover of Newsweek. Here is Fair Peril. Here is The Eye of the Heron. Here is A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans. Fine-art paintings too, like this. Website here. [JH]
Born February 13, 1958 – Alexandra Honigsberg, age 63. Thomist, violist. Nine short stories, five poems. Here she is at MagiCon the 50th Worldcon (Lenny Provenzano photo). Here she is in 2007 (Scott Edelman photo). Here is her 2009 review of Logicomix (A. Doxiades, C. Papadimitriou, A. Papadatos, A. DiDonna). Here (p. 7) she is in 2017 for the Long Island Philosophical Society. Here are ratings of a 2020 course she taught at St. John’s Univ., Jamaica, NY. [JH]
Born February 13, 1959 — Maureen F. McHugh, 62. Her first novel, China Mountain Zhang was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula Award, and won the Otherwise Award, impressive indeed. Her other novels are Half the Day Is Night, Mission Child and Nekropolis. Both her novel and impressive short story collections are readily available at the usual digital sources. (CE)
Born February 13, 1960 — Matt Salinger, 61. ?Captain America in the 1990 Yugoslavian film of that name which was directed by Albert Pyun as written by Stephen Tolkin and Lawrence J. Block. It’s got a 16% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes which matches what critics thought of it. As near as I can tell this is only genre role. You can watch the film here.
Born February 13, 1960 – Kate Banks, age 61. Twoscore books, many for us – opinions differ about books said to be children’s. Boston Globe – Horn Book Award. Zolotow Award. Wellesley woman. Likes “the way in which words and illustrations … create a whole new world in which sometimes real and other times magical and unexpected things … happen.” [JH]
Born February 13, 1972 – Jarvis Sheffield, age 49. Active with the Black SF Society and Genesis (i.e. the prozine). Edited the Genesis anthology with Milton Davis; one story of his own in it; here is his cover for G11. Game design, animation. Director of the Diversity track at Dragon*Con. Media Center Co-ordinator at Tennessee State Univ. One of this year’s winners of SFWA’s Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. [JH]
…The drama, based on DC characters created by Joëlle Jones, centered on Yara Flor, a Latina Dreamer who was born of an Amazonian Warrior and a Brazilian River God, learns that she is Wonder Girl. With her newfound power must fight the evil forces that would seek to destroy the world…
(13) A TED TALK THAT TURNS INTO AN INTERACTIVE ADVENTURE. “Chaos Theory – A digital experience” will be performed by the Curious Theatre Company in a special two-week digital run Feb. 25 through March 7. Tickets sold at the link.
CHAOS THEORY is a comedic, immersive experience exploring the underlying chaos in our lives. A lecture about chaos theory devolves into a series of interactive games inspired by the science of chaos theory, reality dating shows, middle school crushes, and the butterfly effect to end all butterfly effects: COVID-19. The audience is guided by mathematical scientist, Dr. Genevieve Saoch, whose personal life continually interferes with her ability to be objective about her research as a Chaologist. Through a series of participatory experiments, audience members are invited to embrace their inner chaos agent as they embody facets of chaos theory including deterministic chaos, fractals, self-organization, and strange attractors.
I started SFinTranslation.com in 2016 when I couldn’t find any websites that focused on tracking speculative fiction in English translation. Having reviewed a few works of SFT for SF Signal (before it closed a few years ago), I decided to learn more about the science fiction, fantasy, and horror that was being written around the world and then translated for Anglophone readers. Since 2016, I’ve reviewed several dozen works of short- and long-form SFT (both for my site and for World Literature Today, Strange Horizons, and other publications), written essays spotlighting regional SFT, and used social media to bring SFT to the attention of more readers. Among other things, I publish a regular “Out this Month” post to help readers find new SFT releases and I update a linked list of SFT that’s freely-available on the web.
… Unlike its genius namesake, einsteinium has a difficult temperament. Nuclear reactors can only produce microscopic amounts. Artificially created and at the edge of the periodic table, the 99th element is extremely radioactive and has a half-life (the time it takes for half of it to decay) of barely over 20 days. Getting a better look at it has always been just out of reach. Scientists from UC Berkeley and Georgetown University were finally able to create a more stable isotope of it, which stuck around long enough to demystify some of its hidden properties.
Einsteinium is invisible without a microscope, but one of the heaviest elements that exists — or at least can be made to exist. It is an actinide, part of a group of elements that includes uranium, though anything heavier than uranium is not naturally occurring. It’s also the type of radioactive poison that is often portrayed as glowing green sludge in comics and movies. So what would anyone want with this stuff? While it can’t be put to much use outside a research lab yet, it could eventually be used to make advances in technology and radiopharmaceuticals….
One of last year’s astronomical highlights occurred on the winter solstice 2020, when Jupiter and Saturn appeared exceptionally close in a historic conjunction. Just a few months after that event, Jupiter will be getting cozy with a different planet in the night sky. Here’s everything you need to know about the conjunction of Jupiter and Mercury on March 5, 2021.
WHAT IS THE JUPITER-MERCURY CONJUNCTION?
A conjunction happens when two celestial bodies appear close together when viewed from Earth. On the morning of March 5, the largest planet in the solar system and the smallest (at least as of 2006) will come within 19.4 arcminutes of each other in the sky’s dome. That distance is roughly two-thirds the width of the moon….
…After a month-long online (tax-funded) poll conducted by Massachusetts officials, over 60% of concerned, participating citizens opted for Podokesaurus holyokensis over Anchisaurus polyzelus to be ratified as the commonwealth’s official dinosaur. Last week, stalwart patriot and Massachusetts House Representative, Jack Patrick Lewis, introduced a pair of bills to certify the fair and democratic election of P. holyokensis to join the other dozen dinosaurs on record as official state ambassadors….
(18) ROAMING CHARGES. In “Animal Planet” in the January 17 New York Times Magazine, Sonia Shah notes that ICARUS, developed by the Germans space agency DLR, tracks the movement of thousands of animals through receivers they carry that transmit signals to the International Space Station. The study shows that animals migrate far more than has been commonly believed.
… By doing so, ICARUS could fundamentally reshape the way we understand the role of mobility on our changing planet. The scale and meaning of animal movements has been underestimated for decades. Although we share the landscape with wild species, their movements are mostly obscure to us, glimpsed episodically if at all. They leave behind only faint physical traces — a few paw prints in the hardening mud of a jungle path, a quickly fading arc of displaced air in the sky, a dissipating ripple under the water’s surface. But unlike, say, the sequence of the human genome, or the nature of black holes, our lack of knowledge about where our fellow creatures go has not historically been regarded as a particularly pressing gap in scientific understanding. The assumption that animal movements are circumscribed and rare tended to limit scientific interest in the question. The 18th-century Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus, imagining nature as an expression of God’s perfection, presumed each species belonged in its own singular locale, a notion embedded in his taxonomic system, which forms the foundation of a wide array of biological sciences to this day. Two centuries later, the zoologist Charles Elton, hailed as the “father of animal ecology,” fixed species into place with his theory that each species nestles into its own peculiar “niche,” like a pearl in a shell. Such concepts, like modern notions of “home ranges” and “territories,” presumed an underlying stationariness in undisturbed ecosystems.
But over the last few decades, new evidence has emerged suggesting that animals move farther, more readily and in more complex ways than previously imagined….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, Martin Morse Wooster, Steven H Silver, Cora Buhlert, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John Hertz, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Acoustic Rob.]
Actor and comedian John Bishop will be joining the Thirteenteenth Doctor and Yaz on the TARDIS on the upcoming 13th season of BBC America’sDoctor Who. Season 13 began filming in November and is expected to premiere later in 2021.
Bishop will play Dan in the new season. As he becomes embroiled in the Doctor’s adventures, Dan will quickly learn there’s more to the Universe(s) than he could ever believe. Traveling through space and time alongside the Doctor and Yaz, he’ll face evil alien races beyond his wildest nightmares.
… 1925 was the year of heralded novels by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Virginia Woolf, seminal works by Sinclair Lewis, Franz Kafka, Gertrude Stein, Agatha Christie, Theodore Dreiser, Edith Wharton, Aldous Huxley … and a banner year for musicians, too. Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, the Gershwins, Duke Ellington and Fats Waller, among hundreds of others, made important recordings. And 1925 marked the release of canonical movies from silent film comedians Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd.
As of today, every single one of those works has entered the public domain. “That means that copyright has expired,” explains Jennifer Jenkins, a law professor at Duke University who directs its Center for the Study of the Public Domain. “And all of the works are free for anyone to use, reuse, build upon for anyone — without paying a fee.”
On January 1 every year, a new batch of published works is liberated from the constraints of copyright. (For a long time, copyright expired after 75 years, but in 1998, Congress extended the date of copyright expiration for works published between 1923 and 1977 to 95 years.)…
NPR’s named some of the works entering public domain – the first four on their list are:
Ian — who may be the person with whom I’ve appeared on more panels than any other — is currently the owner, publisher, and editor-in-chief of Gray Rabbit Publications and its speculative fiction imprint, Fantastic Books. He began his genre career by working at both Analog and Asimov’s magazines for six years, starting out as an editorial assistant, and rising to be Associate Editor.
He left to launch his own magazine of science fiction and science fact Artemis, which he edited and published for four years. He’s twice won the Analog Readers Poll — both for his short fiction and a science fact article. He’s also quite a history buff, having published The Presidential Book of Lists, Ranking the Vice Presidents, and other political titles.
We discussed what he said upon meeting Isaac Asimov which caused the Grand Master to refuse to write him a limerick, why he prefers The Princess Bride novel to the movie, the reason his father advised him not to name his publishing company after himself, why the 1,000-word short story is his natural length, the question editor Stan Schmidt asked before purchasing his first story for Analog, the essay which so thrilled him he felt compelled to start his own magazine, the most difficult aspect of running your own publishing company, why ending a story too late isn’t as great a sin as starting one too early, how his fascination with presidential trivia began in the bathroom, and much more.
(5) ANIME OF THE YEAR. Anime News Network is running a series of posts under the heading The Best Anime of 2020. The first four are:
… As I said in my previous post, there was quite a bit of competition for the Fictional Parent of the Year Award in 2020, more than for the Darth Vader Parenthood Award in fact, which suggests that popular culture is moving towards portraying more loving parents, which is a very good thing.
So let’s take a look at the potential candidates…
(7) SFF’S TOP SHORT STORIES WEIGHED AND MEASURED. Mark Kelly, creator of the Science Fiction Awards Database, has devised a way to use his data to rank the all-time “Top SF/F/H Short Stories”. Will your mileage vary? The ranked stories are at the first link. Kelly’s explanation of how the numbers are crunched is here: Short Fiction Scoring Methodology.
… In Los Angeles, Taaq Kirksey was lost in a fog of grief, compounded by the nightmare reality that his dear friend lay in an unmarked grave thousands of kilometres away.
“The first few minutes, I literally had to remind myself of my own name and my age. ‘I’m Taaq Kirksey. I’ve got two kids and a wife and this is where I work and what I do.’ Because Imaro had been all I had known and all I had thought about really since 2002.”
He worked with a group of Saunders’s friends and collaborators in the U.S. and Canada, including several journalists at CBC, to right the wrong.
The group set up a fundraiser and within 24 hours, hundreds of people had donated thousands of dollars. The group ordered a tombstone for Saunders. They also created a stone monument to Imaro that will feature original artwork from Mshindo, a celebrated American artist of Afro-futurism who created iconic covers for the Imaro books. It will stand facing his grave.
“He had such community there to pick up the slack and say, ‘No, this has to get rectified,'” Kirksey says. “Charles’s life was so rich. He had a literary life that might have been global, but he was also a luminary in Nova Scotia, certainly a Black cultural luminary in Nova Scotia, and that was just as much a part as his literary pedigree.”
(9) STROUT OBIT. Urban fantasy author Anton Strout died suddenly and unexpectedly on December 30. Kij Johnson said on Facebook, “He was one of the most charismatic and funniest people I have ever known, and he will be missed by us all.” There’s a tribute at Tor.com.
… Strout was born in 1970, grew up Dalton, Massachusetts, and worked at Penguin Random House. His debut novel arrived in 2008 from Ace Books, an urban fantasy novel titled Dead to Me, which went on to spawn three sequels in the Simon Canderous series. The Once and Future Podcast launched in 2014, a passion project where readers and writers could enjoy book-centered content and discussion. The podcast has run for over 200 episodes….
(10) HOSSEIN OBIT. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] French actor, director and writer Robert Hossein died aged 93 of complications from COVID-19. Hossein’s lengthy career is at the very least genre-adjacent, because he worked at the famous Theatre de Grand Guignol and is probably best remembered for playing Jeoffrey de Peyrac in the Angelique movies of the 1960s. The Angelique novels by Anne Golon and their film adaptations were huge successes in 1960s Europe. I devoured the novels and movies as a teen. The novels and movies are historical adventure, but they are at the very least genre-adjacent, because the plots are so wild. Jeoffrey de Peyrac, the character played by Hossein, is a French count and alchemist who is executed for heresy and later becomes a pirate who rescues slaves from the Mediterranean slave trade. The protagonist of the movies and novels is his young wife Angelique. Like I said, it’s wild stuff.
He made his TV debut in Quatermass And The Pit (1958), and had roles in episodes of One Step Beyond, Dimensions Of Fear, Doctor Who (as “Marco Polo”), Out Of The Unknown, The Prisoner (as Number One Hundred, 1967), The Rivals Of Sherlock Holmes, the 1973 mini-series Jack The Ripper and Mark Gattiss’ Doctor Who tribute, An Adventure In Space And Time (2013). Eden co-starred with Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, Barbara Steele and Michael Gough in Curse Of The Crimson Altar (1968).
(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
January 1, 2007 — The Sarah Jane Adventures premiered on BBC. (It was originally going to be called Sarah Jane Investigates.) A spin-off of Doctor Who, focusing on Sarah Jane Smith as played by Elizabeth Sladen who was the Companion to the Fourth Doctor. She’s frequently voted the most popular Who companion by both Who fans and members of the general public. It would run for five series and fifty-three episodes before ending when Sladen passed on. A spin-off of the spin-off, Sarah Jane’s Alien Files, aired right after that series.
(13) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
1981 — Forty years ago, Robert Holdstock’s “Mythago Wood”, not the first volume of the Ryhope Wood series, but the novella of the same name that appeared in the September 1981 edition of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction wins the BSFA Award for Best Short Fiction, and three years later Mythago Wood will get the the BSFA Award for Best Novel. It would also win the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel the next year.
(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born January 1, 1888 – Chesley Bonestell. Designed the Chrysler and U.S. Supreme Court buildings. Applying what he knew to astronomy he got paintings of Saturn into Life Magazine – here is his Saturn as Seen from Titan – which led to The Conquest of Space with Willy Ley, The Art of Chesley Bonestell, six dozen covers for Astounding & Analog, Galaxy, Boys’ Life, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, five dozen interiors, a Hugo for Special Achievement, the SF Hall of Fame, and eponymity of the ASFA (Ass’n of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists) Chesley Awards. (Died 1986) [JH]
Born January 1, 1918 – Ella Parker. The Parker Pond Fund brought her to Seacon the 19th Worldcon; she chaired Loncon II the 23rd. Her Orion won Best Fanzine in the Skyrack Readers Poll (which, incidentally, is Skyr-Ack the Shire Oak, ha ha Ron Bennett; read it here); she won again with The AtomAnthology and a third time as Fan Personality of the Year. (Died 1993) [JH]
Born January 1, 1926 — Zena Marshall. She’s Miss Taro in Dr. No, the very first Bond film. The Terrornauts in which she’s Sandy Lund would be her last film. (The Terrornauts is based off Murray Leinster‘s The Wailing Asteroid screenplay apparently by John Brunner.) She had one-offs in Danger Man, The Invisible Man and Ghost Squad. She played Giselle in Helter Skelter, a 1949 film where the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, played Charles the Second. (Died 2009.) (CE)
Born January 1, 1935 – Kadono Eiko, age 86. (Personal name last, Japanese style.) Famous for Kiki’s Delivery Service (Kiki is a witch in training). Six sequels. Three other books. Hans Christian Andersen Award; judges called her female characters “singularly self-determining and enterprising”. [JH]
Born January 1, 1935 – Bernard Kliban. “Extremely bizarre cartoons that find their humor in their utter strangeness and unlikeliness”, which shows that truth can be found even in Wikipedia. Michelle Urry, cartoon editor for Playboy, Good Housekeeping, and Modern Maturity – it’s stranger than fiction, too – got BK to a publisher for Cat, which led to Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head, Two Guys Fooling Around with the Moon, The Biggest Tongue in Tunisia, and like that. (Died 1990) [JH]
Born January 1, 1954 — Midori Snyder, 67. I was most impressed with The Flight of Michael McBride, the Old West meets Irish myth novel of hers and hannah’s garden, a creepy tale of the fey and folk music. She won the Mythopoeic Award for The Innamorati which I’ve not read. With Yolen, Snyder co-authored the novel Except the Queen which I do recommend. (Yolen is one of my dark chocolate recipients.) She’s seems to have been inactive for a decade now. I will say that she has a most brilliant website: https://www.midorisnyder.com/ (CE)
Born January 1, 1957 — Christopher Moore, 64. One early novel by him, Coyote Blue, is my favorite, but anything by him is always a weirdly entertaining read. I’ve not heard anything about Shakespeare for Squirrels: A Novel, his newest work. Has anyone read it? (CE)
Born January 1, 1962 – Geoffrey McSkimming, age 59. Of course he’s interested in archeology. A score of Cairo Jim books, some including Jocelyn Osgood; half a dozen of Phyllis Wong, recently PW and the Crumpled Stranger. Married to the magician Sue-Anne Webster. Also poetry. [JH]
Born January 1, 1971 — Navin Chowdhry, 50. He’s Indra Ganesh in a Ninth Doctor story, “Aliens of London“. I also found him playing Mr. Watson in Skellig, a film that sounds really interesting. He was also Prince Munodi in the BBC Gulliver’s Travels series, and oh, and I almost forgot to mention that he was Nodin Chavdri in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. (CE)
Born January 1, 1972 — Jennifer Hale, 49. She’s a voice actor primarily showing up on such series as Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Star Trek: Lower Decks and all over the Star Wars universe. She played Killer Frost in Batman: Assault on Arkham, the animated Suicide Squad film that was infinitely better than the live ones were. (CE)
Born January 1, 1976 — Sean Wallace, 45. Anthologist, editor, and publisher known for his work on Prime Books and for co-editing three magazines, Clarkesworld Magazine which I love, The Dark which I’ve never encountered, and Fantasy Magazine which is another fav read of mine. He has won a very, very impressive three Hugo Awards and two World Fantasy Awards. His People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy co-edited with Rachel Swirsky is highly recommended by me. He’s finally beginning to be well represented at the usual digital suspects as an editor. (CE)
Born January 1, 1984 – Briony Stewart, age 37. Auraelis Award for Kumiko and the Dragon, inspired by the author’s grandmother – remember dragons are the good guys in Japan. Queensland Literary Award for Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers. One more Kumiko book, two others, illustrated three. Website. [JH]
(16) VIRTUAL BOSKONE. It’s not that far away — Boskone 58. a 3-day virtual convention, will be held February 12-14, 2021. Get full details here.
(17) SFF IN TRANSLATION. Rachel Cordasco announced a new theme – “Romanian SFT Month” – at her Speculative Fiction in Translation website.
Anglophone readers might think that Romanian speculative fiction in English is rare, but they’re wrong. In fact, if you start looking for it, you’ll find it everywhere….
(18) ON AN EMISSION MISSION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Dalvin Brown has a piece in the Washington Post about how researchers at Oxford have discovered a process whereby planes could take carbon dioxide from the air, mix it with catalysts and hydrogen, and turn the result into jet fuel, making flying carbon neutral. I don’t know if this is relevant but it seems like gosh-wow science to me. “Oxford researchers hope to convert carbon dioxide into jet fuel”.
… “We need to reuse the carbon dioxide rather than simply burying or trying to replace it in the aviation industry,” said Peter Edwards, a professor of inorganic chemistry at Oxford and a lead researcher on the project. “This is about a new and exciting, climate-conscious, circular aviation economy.”
Typically, jet fuel is derived from crude oil. It is a hydrocarbon, or nonrenewable organic compound consisting solely of hydrogen and carbon atoms. Jet fuel is similar to gasoline in that both come from fossil fuels. However, they go through different refining processes, which results in jet fuel being heavier, with a lower freezing point and more carbon atoms.
When the fuel is burned during travel, the hydrocarbons are released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Oxford researchers investigated to reverse-engineer that process, turning the gas back into a usable liquid via “organic combustion.”…
… Owned by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), the Arecibo Observatory went into service in 1963, and for nearly 60 years collected radio data used to make a variety of observations that included the world’s first evidence of the existence of exoplanets. The telescope also became integral to NASA’s search for near-Earth objects.
In her order, [Puerto Rica Governor] Vázquez Garced said that the $8 million would be used to fund debris disposal for the remnants of the collapsed telescope, as well as the design of a new radio telescope to replace it. That leaves funding to construct an actual replacement — a far more costly proposition than $8 million — a matter of future budgeting priorities from the NSF, which receives its research allocations from Congress.
….Books by the Foot, a service run by the Maryland-based bookseller Wonder Book, has become a go-to curator of Washington bookshelves, offering precisely what its name sounds like it does. As retro as a shelf of books might seem in an era of flat-panel screens, Books by the Foot has thrived through Democratic and Republican administrations, including that of the book-averse Donald Trump. And this year, the company has seen a twist: When the coronavirus pandemic arrived, Books by the Foot had to adapt to a downturn in office- and hotel-decor business—and an uptick in home-office Zoom backdrops for the talking-head class.
The Wonder Book staff doesn’t pry too much into which objective a particular client is after. If an order were to come in for, say, 12 feet of books about politics, specifically with a progressive or liberal tilt—as one did in August—Wonder Book’s manager, Jessica Bowman, would simply send one of her more politics-savvy staffers to the enormous box labeled “Politically Incorrect” (the name of Books by the Foot’s politics package) to select about 120 books by authors like Hillary Clinton, Bill Maher, Al Franken and Bob Woodward. The books would then be “staged,” or arranged with the same care a florist might extend to a bouquet of flowers, on a library cart; double-checked by a second staffer; and then shipped off to the residence or commercial space where they would eventually be shelved and displayed (or shelved and taken down to read).
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, Martin Morse Wooster, Lise Andreasen, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of New Year’s Day Jack Lint.]
…After some back and forth—and plenty of discussion with the editor acting as mediator—we determined that by elegant, they likely meant more stylized human forms in more sophisticated poses, as well as a textural or brushy quality to the art (as there had been on the Parable books), that lent an air of being hand-drawn rather than machine-made. As for dynamic, we soon understood that the symmetry of the earliest comps was what the agent and estate were reacting against. By simply breaking the vertical axis and giving each cover a certain degree of asymmetry—even as the figures revolved around a central “moon” shape that remained static—they felt much more alive. The designer came back with revisions and, in relatively quick succession, Wild Seed and Mind of My Mind had approved covers…
The origins of this piece lie in an annoyed Twitter thread I posted, in response to a tweet (possibly joking, I don’t know) to the effect of “movies shouldn’t have sex scenes in them, we’re past that now”.
The origins of my annoyance go back a lot further.
I’ve been writing explicit sex pretty much since I began writing. Like many of us, I got my start in fanfiction, and while fanfiction’s reputation for being heavily smut-focused isn’t entirely deserved, it isn’t entirely undeserved, either. Which is rather the point, because given that I started out writing a lot of explicit sex, I learned quite early just how much story-work one can do with a well-written sex scene. Especially a very explicit one, without a judicious fade-to-black or Vaseline on the camera lens.
I want to be clear about something: I am not claiming ultimate authority over what a “good” sex scene consists of. Sex scenes, like sex itself, are highly subjective and personal, and different people will find that different things resonate.
That said, my opinion is that a good sex scene is usually sexy, and one of the best ways to be sexy is to go deep into not only the physical descriptions of what’s happening, but also what’s going through these characters’ heads as they’re doing the sex.
Which is one of the places where we get into the work explicit sex can do in a story, and in a way really no other kind of scene can manage in precisely this way….
…Marketing is easy. Effective marketing that actually sells books, however, is hard. My son works for Facebook, so he helped me with an advertising campaign on the platform. We had a $250 budget for one of my collections, The Experience Arcade and Other Stories. One of the ads reached 1,900 readers. 103 people clicked on it. We did sell books, but not enough to pay back our investment. We found the same pattern to be true on the other books we promoted on Facebook….
… There are in fact enough award systems to warrant the effort of analysis to help decide which awards are worth paying attention to. Of course, dichotomous and divisive “success or failure” judgments are less useful than comparing how they’re organized and speculating about what might contribute to a robust and respected award. Examining the growing pains of recently created awards and thinking about why several smaller awards have managed to establish long-term relevance can also be helpful….
(5) SFRA. The Fall 2020 issue of the Science Fiction Research Association’s SFRA Review is available to download. Many articles and reviews, including an update from Rachel Cordasco about SF in Translation.
Attacks from floating pirate states and hackers on soldiers with neural implants are just two scenarios dreamed up by a “Red Team” of 10 leading science fiction writers tasked with helping the French army anticipate future threats to national security.
“Astonish us, shake us up, take us out of our habits and comfort zone,” Florence Parly, the French defence minister, told the writers at a Defence Innovation Forum this month.
Many of the “scenarios of disruption” that they have been asked to imagine to challenge military planners are to remain top secret to avoid giving ideas to potential enemies. They were asked to stick to potential threats between 2030 and 2060….
(7) SWATTING A NEW FIREFLY. [Item by Olav Rokne.] One for the “wishful thinking” file. Questionably sourced rumors are bouncing around the internet about a Disney+ Firefly reboot. As much as I would love to believe this, I gotta express significant skepticism. Adam Whitehead does a pretty good job of analyzing why this rumour likely ain’t true at The Wertzone: “RUMOUR: FIREFLY reboot under consideration for Disney+”.
… I find this rumour dubious for multiple reasons. The first is that Firefly‘s fanbase remains, despite the passage of almost twenty years, both voluble and passionate. Rebooting the show from scratch and dropping the previous actors and continuity would go down very badly. The second is that Firefly‘s universe was designed from scratch to be slightly more morally murky and complex, and that’s part of the show’s appeal. Making it more PG (or PG-13, if you’re in the USA) seems pointless. …
As 2020 draws to a close, we’re feeling pretty confident that we will be able to hold our show in 2021. However, given the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic and the timing on the various vaccines, we became increasingly concerned that it would not be feasible or prudent to hold our show as originally scheduled from April 15-18, 2021.
We can now announce that we’ve reached an agreement with our hotel (the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard, Illinois) to reschedule the convention to September 9-12, 2021. The location of the convention remains the same….
(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY
1984 — The Winter 1984 issue of the Missouri Review which was undated had Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Trouble with the Cotton People”, the very first of her Kesh stories that would become part of her Always Coming Home novel which was first published by Harper & Row the following year. Nominated for the Mythopoetic Fantasy Award, it would lose out to Barry Hugart’s Bridge of Birds. Library of America published the Always Coming Home: Author’s Expanded Edition last year.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 15, 1923 — Freeman Dyson. Physicist best known in genre circles for the concept he theorized of a Dyson Sphere which would be built by a sufficiently technologically advanced species around a sun to harvest all solar energy. He credited Olaf Stapledon in Star Maker (1937), in which he described “every solar system… surrounded by a gauze of light traps, which focused the escaping solar energy for intelligent use” with first coming up with the concept. (Died 2020.) (CE)
Born December 15, 1935 – Alma Jo Williams. Five dozen reviews in SF Review. Raised horses; earned a washin-ryu black belt; forty years at Cornell in the Baker Institute for Animal Health. Of the 1984 Dune movie she said “The photography is gorgeous, the music appropriate, the special effects … well integrated…. The metamorphosed Guild navigators are laughable…. the evil of the Harkonnens was caricatured…. Only Sting, as Feyd, projected … subtle nastiness”. (Died 2010) [JH]
Born December 15, 1937 — John Sladek. Weird and ambitious would be ways to describe his work. The Complete Roderick Is quite amazing as is Tik-Tok which won a BSFA and Bugs as well. He did amazing amounts of short fiction, much of which is collected finally in the ironically named Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek. (Died 2000.) (CE)
Born December 15, 1944 – Ru Emerson, age 76. Two dozen novels, a dozen shorter stories. Under another name she has two recipes in Serve It Forth. Sings, plays guitar, flies stunt kites, a little Irish hardshoe. [JH]
Born December 15, 1944 – John Guidry, age 76. Chaired DeepSouthCon 9 & 11, Nolacon II the 46th Worldcon. Founded ERB-apa (Edgar Rice Burroughs fans). Rebel Award. Fan Guest of Honor at DSC 53. [JH]
Born December 15, 1945 – Steve Vertlieb, age 75. Often seen here. Mr. James H. Burns gave him this tribute on his 70th, with photos and links. [JH]
Born December 15, 1951 — David Bischoff. He actually started his career writing out for Perry Rhodan. His “Tin Woodman” which was written with Dennis Bailey and nominated for a Nebula would be adapted into a Next Generation story, and he’s continued the Bill the Galactic Hero story with Harry Harrison. He’s also written a kickass excellent Farscape novel, Ship of Ghosts. (Died 2018.) (CE)
Born December 15, 1953 — Robert Charles Wilson, 67. He won the Hugo Award for Best Novel for Spin, a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for The Chronoliths, a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the novelette “The Cartesian Theater” and Prix Aurora Awards for the novels Blind Lake and Darwinia. Impressive indeed. He also garnered a Philip K. Dick Award for Mysterium. (CE)
Born December 15, 1953 – J.M. DeMatteis, age 67. Like many comics stars, has done substantial work for both DC and Marvel, including television. Eisner Award. Wrote Abadazad for CrossGen, then when Disney acquired it, three Abadazad books. One novel. One album from his years as a musician. [JH]
Born December 15, 1954 — Alex Cox, 66. Ahhh the Director who back in the early Eighties gave us Repo Man. And did you know that he got a co-writer credit for the screenplay of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas before it was completely rewritten by Gilliam? And as we know he directed a student film version of Harry Harrison’s Bill, the Galactic Hero at University of Colorado Boulder just a few years ago! (CE)
Born December 15, 1958 – Leslie Smith, age 62. Co-chaired Ditto 7 (fanziners’ con; named for a brand of spirit-duplicator machine). Fanzine, Duprass (see Cat’s Cradle) with Linda Bushyager. [JH]
Born December 15, 1981 — Krysten Ritter, 39. She played Jessica Jones on the series of that name and was in The Defenders as well. She had a recurring role in the Veronica Mars series which a lot of a lot is us adore (it’s one of the series that Charles de Lint and his wife MaryAnn Hartis are avid followers of, and they contributed to the film Kickstarter) and I supposed it’s sort of genre adjacent, isn’t it? (Do not analyze that sentence.) She’s been in a number of horror flicks as well, but nothing I groked. (CE)
Born December 15, 1982 — Charlie Cox, 38. He played the role of Matt Murdock / Daredevil in Netflix’s Daredevil and The Defenders, was Tristan Thorn Thorn in Stardust based off the Gaiman novel and Dennis Bridger in the remake of A for Andromeda. (CE)
(12) SF AND WORKERS’ RIGHTS. FutureCon will stream a panel about “Capitalism and workers’ rights on Science Fiction” on Saturday, December 19 at 12 p.m. (noon US Eastern Time). Participants will be Alec Nevala-Lee (USA), Alexey Dodsworth, (Brazil) Fabio Fernandes (Brazil, host), Jorge Baradit (Chile), Marie Vibbert (USA), and Olav Rokne (Canada).
It’s hard to pen a story in which the lines are blurred but the narrative is always clear. Ambiguity and warring perspectives can hurricane into incomprehensible pandemonium. However, When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain manages to have characters who not only inhabit both the bodies of animals and humans, but have characters performing oral storytelling that’s just as fluid. What kept me engaged wasn’t rigidity and linearity, but a narrative voice that always had control with a grip greater than any rigidity….
(14) A SFF LOOK AT POLICING. No Police = Know Future edited by James Beamon is available in both print and electronic formats from publisher Amazing Stories and online book outlets.
When the concept of defunding the police (a concept we believe really means re-examining and reforming the concept of policing), arose during this year’s protests, we saw a perfect opportunity to put those beliefs into practice.
James Beamon, our editor, put it this way in his solicitation:
“After the brutal murder of George Floyd by the police, the world responded in righteous protest, with cries of “Black Lives Matter.” The police responded to these calls in large part with even more brutality, with video after video emerging that showed an assault on the public. And more cries came forth, with calls to defund the police.
But what’s that mean?
Science Fiction writers, this is your call to arms. Give us your potential (and hopefully positive) futures that involve alternatives to modern day policing. We want stories that replace the police entirely, dramatically reform them, or create parallel systems to refocus policing. We’re also seeking alternate concepts of rehabilitation and punishment as well, more emphasis on the carrot. In a world where police are perpetually brandishing their batons, I think we’ve all seen enough sticks.”
The stories collected in this volume –
Ryan Priest – Pro Bono Detectives
Lettie Prell – Justice Systems in Quantum Parallel Probabilities
Jared Oliver Adams – All the Mister Rogerses From Bethel A.M.E.
P.T. MacKim – Well Regulated
Minister Faust – Freeze Police
Stewart C. Baker – Maricourt’s Waters Quiet and Deep
Ira Naymen – When the Call Comes In
Holly Schofield – One Bad Apple
Brontë Christopher Wieland – Apogee, Effigy, Storm
… Bear calls out in the acknowledgements the inspiration for Core General that was to me delightfully obvious but perhaps newer readers to SF might not be aware of. James White’s Sector General stories and novels describe the adventures of a hospital in space, and Bear’s Core General is clearly a spiritual successor and heir to White’s ideas. Bear of course brings her own sensibilities and ideas to a Hospital in Space but the bones of the homage are there, and the social mores and ideas of White’s novels are updated for modern sensibilities. This is also done a bit explicitly within the novel itself, as corpsicles found on Big Rock Candy Mountain have some rather archaic, primitive, frankly offensive and un-Synarchy-like ideas about many things. There is a culture clash and some real conflict between Jens and the rest of the Synarchy with Helen, the AI of Big Rock Candy Mountain, and the crew of the ship that they manage to unfreeze and revive….
NASA has selected 18 astronauts from its corps to form the Artemis Team and help pave the way for the next astronaut missions on and around the Moon as part of the Artemis program.
…The astronauts on the Artemis Team come from a diverse range of backgrounds, expertise, and experience. The agency’s modern lunar exploration program will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024 and establish a sustainable human lunar presence by the end of the decade.
NASA will announce flight assignments for astronauts later, pulling from the Artemis Team. Additional Artemis Team members, including international partner astronauts, will join this group, as needed….
(17) ROCKING THE MARKET. In “Making A Point With Moon Rocks” on National Review Online, Texas Tech economist Alexander William Salter says that NASA’s contracts to acquire moon rocks (or what is technically “lunar regolith”) is “a clever strategy to nudge space policy in a pro-commerce direction” since the purchases would show that private property can be created on the Moon, a position left ambiguous in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.
.. NASA’s purchase of moon dirt is a clever strategic move to nudge space policy in a pro-commerce direction. The United States government isn’t violating Article II [of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty], because it’s not appropriating real estate. And it’s not violating Article VI, since it’s up to Congress to determine the extent of monitoring and policing duties. What the NASA program does is create a test case for first harvesting, and then selling, outer-space resources. As David Henderson and I have argued, “Given the vagueness of international space law on property rights, the precedents created by national space law will have a decisive role in shaping the future space environment. Hence, NASA’s actions can support a pro-business turn not just for the United States, but also for the international community as a whole.” …
… What if those predictions actually ended up affecting how the future unfolds, like self-fulfilling prophecies? It’s a question plaguing futurists, and now a project is trying to illustrate the problem by showing how things created in the past have colored the present. The simplest examples—items that truly shape the minds of our next generations—come in the form of children’s toys.
The Museum of Future History’s first exhibition, Toying With Tomorrow: Playthings That Anticipated the Here and Now, is curated by experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats and timed to debut at the UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) High-Level Futures Literacy Summit.
The idea was sparked by a growing concern among futurists, Keats says, that we have been “colonizing the future” with visions and predictions of what it will bring, and that those visions limit the opportunities or possibilities of those future generations. But this can be an abstract concept to grasp.
“What we needed was some way in which people could recognize the phenomenon in their own lives, and they could use that as a means by which to consider what sorts of predictions they make, what sort of impact those predictions might have going forward—individually as well as collectively in a society,” Keats explains. “Toys have a very direct way in which they influence the future through the children who play with them.”…
It’s one thing to watch Diana grow up slowly — something Wonder Woman fans delighting in witnessing as star Gal Gadot lassoed a new generation of hearts in director Patty Jenkins’ 2017 blockbuster. But it’s something else entirely to watch our Amazon hero surge from past to present at lightning speed — leaping out of her idyllic childhood and into the mean city streets — in the butt-kickin’ romp that welcomes viewers to the opening moments of Wonder Woman 1984….
Invisible structures generated by gravitational interactions in the Solar System have created a “space superhighway” network, astronomers have discovered. ScienceAlert reports:By applying analyses to both observational and simulation data, a team of researchers led by Natasa Todorovic of Belgrade Astronomical Observatory in Serbia observed that these superhighways consist of a series of connected arches inside these invisible structures, called space manifolds — and each planet generates its own manifolds, together creating what the researchers have called “a true celestial autobahn.” This network can transport objects from Jupiter to Neptune in a matter of decades, rather than the much longer timescales, on the order of hundreds of thousands to millions of years, normally found in the Solar System….
(21) MORE ABOUT BEN BOVA. The New York Times ran Ben Bova’s obituary. To accompany that note, here are a couple of Andrew Porter’s photos of Bova (sent direct to 770, not from the NYT.)
…Ben Bova was a hard-science guy — and a passionate space program booster — and his visions of the future encompassed a dizzying array of technological advances (and resulting horrors or delights), including cloning, sex in space, climate change, the nuclear arms race, Martian colonies and the search for extraterrestrials. In newspaper articles, short stories and more than 100 books, he explored these and other knotty human problems….
… John M. Ford’s first professionally published story was “This, Too, We Reconcile,” published in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, May 1976. In it, a telepath is hired to read the mind of a martyr to determine if the dead man saw anything of the afterlife as he died and if so, what that afterlife is like. Rather alarmingly, the telepath is the second person hired for the job, his predecessor having committed suicide immediately after reading the martyr’s mind. This has all the earmarks of a task from which one should flee posthaste, but unluckily for our protagonist, his diligence outweighs his prudence.
This is admittedly a minor Ford, which may explain why it was never collected in either of the two Ford collections, From the End of the Twentieth Century (1997), and Heat of Fusion and Other Stories (2004). Nor has it been included in any anthology of which I am aware. Still, Bova saw enough in the story to help launch a career that lasted until Ford’s untimely death in 2006.
(23) HONESTY IS THE FUNNIEST POLICY. [By Martin Morse Wooster.]In “Honest Game Trailers: Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales” on YouTube, Fandom Games says even though you’re not playing Peter Parker, you can still fly through a very well-detailed New York City and (virtually) cause billions in property damage!
Also dropping today: In “Honest Trailers: Lost” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies sum up the six-season series by saying the characters asked so many questions in the show “The creators got tired of answering them” and that there was so much psychodrama “the writers room needed therapy.”
Fun fact: the reason why the flight that crashed in show was Oceanic Airlines Flight 646 was that was the flight in the action film Executive Decision.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Cat Eldridge, James Davis Nicoll, Michael J. Walsh, Daniel Dern, Olav Rokne, Steve Davidson, Doug Ellis, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]
Being a Tolkien fan for so long, and someone who has been studying his works, one of my desires was to participate in one of the most important Tolkien fandom (and scholars) events created and organized by the Tolkien Society based in the UK. As I live far away, in Chile, and travelling is not cheap, I always thought that I would have to wait until being a granny (almost) to attend the event. But this year, despite covid bring us tragedy around the world, it also brought some great things. The Oxomoot had to be online, and allowed many more Tolkien fans and scholars from around the world, like me, to attend. This was the first Oxonmoot online ever, and it is estimated that it will be the only one for the others are expected to combine physical activities with online ones. The Oxonmoot has existed since 1974, a year later J. R. R. Tolkien left this world to reunite with Edith.
…I truly hope that next year I will be able to join again. It was such a great time and a beautiful opportunity to share the love for J.R.R. Tolkien, whose works join so many people and have given us hope and strength in the most difficult times, reminding us that not all is lost as we might think it is. Tolkien’s works have created a fellowship who unites readers from all over the world.
We’ve got panels from all over the world, a bunch of ceremonies, newly added workshops, even a GAME SHOW planned for your interactive viewing pleasure.
(3) INFINITE DIVERSITY EVOLVES. [Item by Olav Rokne.] At StarTrek.com, Carlos Miranda writes about the importance of diversity that reflects not only skin tone, but cultural signifiers. In a heartfelt article, “The Importance of Cristóbal Rios”, he praises Star Trek: Picard’s inclusion of not only a Latinx character, but one who speaks Spanish, and who is more nuanced than previous depictions.
I can’t quite describe the smile I had when we first heard Rios speak Spanish on camera — 9-year-old and 38-year-old me beamed enthusiastically. Rios curses (appropriately one might add) in Spanish, his ship is named La Sirena (Spanish for mermaid), one of his emergency holograms, Emmet, (the Emergency Tactical Hologram) also speaks and curses in Spanish, and he uses a classic Spanish nursery rhyme (one that most Spanish speakers would recognize, Arroz con Leche) to override La Sirena’s controls. This is a character whose cultural heritage and background is not simply window dressing, but in fact central to who they are as a person.
Polish SFT is a wonderful mix of science fiction and surrealism, fantasy and horror, cyberpunk and fairy tale. Since the 1960s, when Stanis?aw Lem, Witold Gombrowicz, and Stefan Grabi?ski were first translated and introduced to Anglophone audiences; to the present day, when Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher universe is available in English across various media; Polish SFT has shown us the richly imaginative worlds explored by the language’s most creative writers. Here you’ll find nanobot swarms on alien planets, occult practices, timeless villages, professional space travelers, clones, elves, ghost trains, and much more. So enjoy this month of Polish SFT and tell us your favorite stories/novels/collections/anthologies in the comments!
The Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table (GNCRT) of ALA and the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation are pleased to announce the opening of the 2021 Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants for Libraries grant cycle. These grants recognizes libraries for their role in the growth of graphic literature and awards funds and resources for graphic novel collection development and programming.
Through these grants the GNCRT and the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation seek to continue to extend graphic novels into new realms by encouraging public awareness about the rise and importance of graphic literature and honoring the legacy and creative excellence of Will Eisner. For a career that spanned nearly eight decades — from the dawn of the comic book to the advent of digital comics — Will Eisner is recognized as the “Champion of the Graphic Novel.”
Three grants will be awarded: two recipients will receive the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Growth Grants which provides support to libraries that would like to expand their existing graphic novel collection, services and programs; and one recipient will receive the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Innovation Grant which provides support to a library for the initiation of a new graphic novel service or program. Recipients each receive a $4,000 programming and collection development grant plus a collection of Will Eisner’s works and biographies as well as a selection of the winners of the 2021 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards at Comic-Con International. The grant also includes a travel stipend for a library representative to travel to the 2021 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, IL to receive recognition from the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation. An applying librarian or their institution must be an ALA Member to be eligible and the grants are now open to libraries across North America, including Canada and Mexico….
…Recently I put out a request on social media for readers to suggest authors and works now obscure that deserve mention. To my surprise, someone suggested Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales from the White Hart.
…How on Earth could Tales from the White Hart be considered obscure? Well…for one thing, the author has been dead for over a decade. The collection is an astounding ten twenty thirty forty fiftysixty-three years old, which is to say it’s as ancient to a new SF reader in 2020 as H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine was for the new SF reader in 1957, when Tales first came out.
Tales from the White Hart is also an example of a genre once popular that seems to have fallen into comparative obscurity: the barroom tale….
…As some readers may recall, in my first report on reducing my biblio-clutter I mentioned having stored some books in a disused greenhouse. By “some books” you should be picturing two or three thousand. Now keeping any part of a library in a glass building designed to be tropically warm and moist is unquestionably a terrible idea. But I was tired of paying for an expensive storage unit in Kensington and this particular greenhouse allowed air to circulate freely and, really, it would all be okay, wouldn’t it?
Sigh. What would we poor deluded humans do without magical thinking?
(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
Forty years ago, Arthur C. Clarke’s The Fountains of Paradise won the Hugo Award for Best Novel at Noreascon Two. (It would also win the Nebula.) It was simultaneously published the previous year by Gollancz and Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. It would beat out John Varley‘s Titan, Frederik Pohl‘s Jem, Patricia A. McKillip‘s Harpist in the Wind and Thomas M. Disch‘s On Wings of Song. A space elevator is also constructed in the course of Clarke’s final novel, The Last Theorem, which was co-written with Frederik Pohl.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born October 1, 1914 – Donald A. Wollheim.One man deserves the credit, one man deserves the blame, and Donald Allen Wollheim, yes, Don Wollheim is his name! Hey! As Tom Lehrer said explaining the song I allude to, this is not intended as a slur on DAW’s character, but only given for prosodic reasons. DAW, earning praise and otherwise, even in the incident for which he was most blamed also did good. As a fan he among much else was a founder of FAPA and the Futurians, editor of The Phantagraph. As a pro he edited The Pocket Book of SF, first mass-marketed SF anthology; he was editor at Avon and Ace, eventually his own DAW Books, with a creditable yearly World’s Best SF 1971-1990. In publishing an unauthorized U.S. ed’n of The Lord of the Rings, which brought on an authorized one among much else, he has been called responsible for the fantasy boom. First Fandom Hall of Fame. Forry, Gallun, Solstice Awards. Pro Guest of Honor at Nolacon II the 46th Worldcon. I’ve always liked The Secret of the Martian Moons. (Died 1990) [JH]
Born October 1, 1922 – Terry Jeeves. Four short stories, including one in Tomorrow; famed mainly as a fan. Founding member of British SF Ass’n, two years editor of Vector. Three-part Checklist of “Astounding” for 1930-1959. Essays, letters, reviews, in Analog, Asimov’s, Banana Wings, Hyphen, Matrix, SF Commentary, Zenith. His own fanzine Erg. First Fandom Hall of Fame. Fine fanartist; Rotsler Award; see here. (Died 2011) [JH]
Born October 1, 1929 – Martha Beck. Hospitable mainstay and often hostess of All-Night Fandom. Active in the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n). Fan Guest of Honor at ChambanaCon 4, Genuine ConFusion, Archon 12, Windycon XVII. First Fandom Hall of Fame, as Associate Member. (Died 2002) [JH]
Born October 1, 1935 — Dame Julie Andrews, DBE, 85. The original Mary Poppins! I could stop there but I won’t. (Hee.) She had a scene cut in which she was a maid in The Return of the Pink Panther, and she’s uncredited as the singing voice of Ainsley Jarvis in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Yet again she’s uncredited as in a Panther film, this time as chairwoman in Trail of the Pink Panther. (Andrews was married to Pink Panther producer Blake Edwards [d. 2010] which may explain the pattern.) She voices Queen Lillian in Shrek 2, Shrek the Third and Shrek Forever After. And she’s the voice of Karathen in Aquaman. (CE)
Born October 1, 1944 – Rick Katze, F.N., 76. (I’d tell you his name rhymes with Harry Bates, but have you read “Farewell to the Master”?) Diligent fan made a Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service award) decades ago. Discharged various thankless duties. Chaired three Boskones – oh, you say that’s no contradiction? Edited NESFA Press books including TheBest of Poul Anderson. A remark to me at Torcon 3 the 61st Worldcon was a model of discretion. [JH]
Born October 1, 1948 – Mike Ashley, 72. Co-editor of Fusion and Xeron, emerging as anthologist. History of the SF Magazine, originally with reprints, revised without them in four volumes 2000-2016 (through 1990). Thirty volumes so far in The Mammoth Book of — ; a dozen are SF. Half a dozen books on the Matter of Arthur. Several dozen others, some ours, recently Lost Mars (2018; “from the Golden Age of the Red Planet”; Univ. Chicago Press). Pilgrim Award. [JH]
Born October 1, 1953 — John Ridley, 67. Author of Those Who Walk in Darkness and What Fire Cannot Burn novels. Both excellent though high on the violence cringe scale. Writer on the Static Shock and Justice League series. Writer, The Authority : human on the inside graphic novel. And apparently there was the writer for Team Knight Rider, a female version of Knight Rider that lasted but one season in the Nineties. (CE)
Born October 1, 1960 — Elizabeth Dennehy, 60. She played Lt. Commander Shelby in “The Best of Both Worlds,” a two-part story on Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was her second genre role as she was Renata in Recall the previous year. She also showed up on Quantum Leap, Gattaca, Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies, Generation X, a spin-off of the X-Men franchise, Supernova and The Last Man on Planet Earth. (CE)
Born October 1, 1967 — Celine Kiernan, 53. She’s best known for her Moorehawke trilogy set in an alternate renaissance Europe, and she has written two books so far in her Wild Magic trilogy. She reads the first three chapters of her latest novel, Resonance, over at her blog. Being a gothic fiction, I’d say it’s appropriate for this time of year. (CE)
Born October 1, 1973 — Rachel Manija Brown, 47. Co-writer of the Change series with Sherwood Smith; Laura’s Wolf, first volume of the Werewolf Marines series. She wrote an essay entitled “The Golden Age of Fantasy Is Twelve: SF and the Young Adult Novel” which was published in Strange Horizons. The first two Change novels are available at the usual digital suspects. (CE)
Born October 1, 1976 – Angela Woolfe, 44. Seven novels. Also writes for The Guardian and Vogue. Knowing that in SF we can assume little about what we are to expect, she calls a title-role woman scientist Avril Crump whom we are thus not startled to see bald, pink, round, bumbling, lovable. Uses two other names, one for legendary movie stars appearing on a magical sofa with advice to the lovelorn. [JH]
Born October 1, 1979 — Holly Elissa, 41. A Canadian artist, actress, filmmaker and activist who, given that a lot of genre video is produced in Canada, not surprisingly shows up in one-offs on Outer Limits, Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, Voyage of the Unicorn, Battlestar Galactica, Kyle X/Y, Eureka, Supernatural, Fringe, Flash Gordon, Colony, Van Helsing and Arrow. (CE)
Born October 1, 1989 — Brie Larson, 31. Captain Marvel in the Marvel film universe including of course the most excellent Captain Marvel film. She’s also been in Kong: Skull Island as Mason Weaver, and plays Kit in the Unicorn Store which she also directed and produced. Her first genre role was Rachael in the “Into the Fire” of the Touched by an Angel series; she also appeared as Krista Eisenburg in the “Slam” episode of Ghost Whisperer. I just wrote up a review of her Funko Rock Candy figure at Green Man Review. CE)
(11) SAY IT THIS WAY. [Item by rcade.] Podcast producer Jay Hamm writes on Twitter, “COMICS FANS, you’ve been pronouncing creators’ names wrong for far too long. I can’t take it anymore. Here’s a thread to put you right.”
Read the link to learn that Jeff Lemire rhymes with “fear” not “fire”, Mark Millar rhymes with “brr” not “bar”, Chip Zdarsky is “anything goes” and mysterious things are afoot in the name of Frank Quietly.
…Four astronauts — NASA’s Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi — are set to climb aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule on October 31, roar into space aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, then spend a six months aboard the International Space Station.
Their mission, called Crew-1, will be the first of six round-trip flights that NASA has contracted from SpaceX.
The company tested its human spaceflight capabilities this summer, when it launched NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on a test flight called Demo-2. That marked the first time humans had flown aboard a commercial spacecraft, and the first time the US had launched its own astronauts since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011.
Behnken and Hurley named that capsule “Endeavour” after they launched. Now, following that longstanding tradition of naming spacecraft, the astronauts on the upcoming mission gave their new spaceship the name “Resilience” on Tuesday.
(13) SOMETHING BORROWED. [Item by Bill.] The Scroll recently linked to “Loose Ends”, a story made up from the last lines of SFF books. I just today ran across Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen, a feature length film made of clips from 400+ romantic films — but it includes a number of genre films. The very first scene, for example, is from Avatar.
If there’s any bright spot, it’s that October is an excellent month for new book releases — there are a lot of heavy hitters from the likes of Kim Stanley Robinson, Alix E. Harrow, V.E. Schwab, Rebecca Roanhorse, and many others. I’ve rounded up 24 of them that you should check out.
NASA’s first new space potty in decades — a $23 million titanium toilet better suited for women — is getting a not-so-dry run at the International Space Station before eventually flying to the moon.
It’s packed inside a cargo ship set to blast off late Thursday from Wallops Island, Virginia.
Barely 100 pounds (45 kilograms) and just 28 inches (71 centimeters) tall, it’s roughly half as big as the two Russian-built toilets at the space station. It’s more camper-size to fit into the NASA Orion capsules that will carry astronauts to the moon in a few years.
Station residents will test it out for a few months. If the shakedown goes well, the toilet will be open for regular business.
(16) SPAGHETTI ICE CREAM. Not really genre, just sounds weird.
You don’t need a fork to eat this plate of spaghetti. Just a spoon will do. And that’s because it’s not actually spaghetti. It’s Spaghettieis—vanilla ice cream noodles topped with strawberry sauce and white chocolate shavings. Dario Fontanella, the inventor of spaghetti ice cream, invites us into his dessert shop in Mannheim, Germany to sample this ice cold treat. Did we mention it’s served on a bed of whipped cream?
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Think of ST:TNG reimagined as Data, “A wholesome 90s sitcom revolving around the beloved android crewmember of the starship Enterprise-D.”
[Thanks to Sultana Raza, Chris M. Barkley, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Mike Kennedy, rcade, Bill, Jeffrey Smith, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Olav Rokne, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credt goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) ADDING A HUGO CATEGORY. Speculative Fiction in Translation’s Rachel Cordasco renews her appeal that “major Anglophone SFF awards should include a separate translation category” in “SFT And The Awards”.
…Really, all of this comes down to a naming problem. If the Hugos are going to be a “World Award,” logically they should include works from around the world, in any language. Since that doesn’t seem likely any time soon, and Anglophone readers generally don’t learn multiple languages unless they have to, then the award should (again, logically) stop calling itself a “World Award” and start acknowledging that, from the very beginning, it has been and still is an award given to English-language SFF by English-language readers.
….And then there’s the whole set of general arguments opposing, or at least not immediately embracing, a separate translation category. I’ve listed a few below:
We already have too many award categories.
Not enough Anglophone readers read SFT so how could they vote on it?
Creating a separate translation category will send the message that SFT is inferior to Anglophone speculative fiction.
SFT can win and has won awards without any “help.”
But how can we determine if the translation is any good?
Changing award rules is too difficult.
I’m going to address each of these points separately, making sure that I reiterate that I am not involved in any of these awards at the executive level, though I did participate in the most recent Locus Awards voting and was able to bring my knowledge of current SFT to the discussion, which I truly appreciated.
You may also know that I started a “Favorite SFT” poll in 2018, which is open to anyone who would like to vote (once!). This approach has its flaws but it’s the best I can do with the resources I have. Just the fact that the poll exists makes me think that more people are becoming aware that SFT does exist.
To the first point that “we already have too many award categories”: so what? And also, is a translated category somehow less important than the “Young Adult” or “First Novel” category? And to the subpoint that some translated work might win in two categories, can’t that happen with other categories? And aren’t there ways to get around that? I freely admit that I’m not cut out for business meetings and deciding rules about rules- which is one of the reasons why I’m not on these committees. This is just me on a website putting forth my opinions, against which everyone is free to argue. (Just be respectful when you rip me to shreds, ok?)….
…But outside of a stay-at-home crisis, time loops have gained traction in their appeal due to the same themes that made Groundhog Day so popular to begin with. Like the drunken locals that Phil Conners laments to in Punxsutawney, or the fellow wedding guest in the Palm Springs hotel pool talking to Samberg’s Nyles, those existing outside the loop can relate on a visceral level to the experience of feeling like today is the same as yesterday and tomorrow. For Bill Murray, the appeal of Groundhog Day as a script was its representation of people’s fear of change, and how we choose to repeat our daily lives to avoid it. These themes echoed in Russian Doll, which as a bingeable streaming series really allowed audiences to inhabit the repetitive nature of the loops, ironically utilizing the same technologies that have sped our lives up and caused them to feel even more cyclical.
(3) FIYAHCON. I signed up for FIYAHCON (October 17-18) news in time to receive its August Update naming three more guests:
FIYAHCONtweeted additional information: Rebecca Roanhorse: “We suspect you know @RoanhorseBex from all of that constant award-winning she does as a Black + Indigenous writer of many brilliant things.”; Cassie Hart: “is a Maori writer who’s been working intensely behind the scenes to shine a light on SFF from Aotearoa while grinding out an impressive number of works herself.”; Yasser Bahjatt: “chaired the Worldcon bid for Saudi Arabia. And while that didn’t land, we are thrilled to hear more from him about Arabian SFF and other ways we can uplift and celebrate the spec community there.”
The three newcomers join FIYAHCON’s previously announced guests:
She’s boldly going where no one has gone before, but doing so means leaving the people she loves the most. We’ve got the first trailer for Netflix’s Away, a new series that sees Hilary Swank joining the first manned mission to Mars—a three-year journey that will test the limits of its crew, as well as the patience of those who were left behind….
(5) JUST SAYIN’. Jay Blanc tweeted his ideas for improving Hugo administration. Thread starts here. Whether or not he has the solution (and CoNZealand Deputy Hugo Administrator Nicholas Whyte responded skeptically in the thread), I had to agree with Blanc’s last tweet about what one of the problems is.
He’s not alone in marveling at how many times in the past decade the Hugos have been hamstrung because someone was writing code from scratch. That doesn’t always happen for the same reason. We didn’t always need or want, in the past, a system that integrates all aspects of a member’s digital interaction with the convention. That’s what they’re moving toward, therefore it would make sense for that software to be created and stabilized. Funding it, having the work done and vetted, and working out licensing to the committees (which are entities of their own) would all be part of the mission.
… Because they are voted on primarily by people who were born decades after the original publication dates, the Retro Hugos are less likely to recognize work that has not been reprinted. This means that the average Retro Hugo voter inevitably experiences the works they’re voting on through a filter created by the intervening generations. Other than Erle Korshak, Cora Buhlert, and Gideon Marcus, we’d be hard-pressed to name a Hugo voter who is likely to have read a 1945-era pulp magazine cover-to-cover and experienced the works in something like their original context….
No need to be so “hard-pressed.” You have not because you ask not.
…For the Retro Hugos to be relevant and worthwhile awards, we as members of the World Science Fiction Society need to wrestle with why the awards need to exist. Is their intent to reproduce the racist tastes of the past or can they help focus a critical lens on the history of the genre and help us discover works that might have been overlooked?
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 10, 1951 — Tales Of Tomorrow first broadcast the “Blunder” in which a scientist is warned his experiment with nuclear fission could destroy the earth. Written by Philip Wylie who wrote the screenplay for When Worlds Collide. The primary cast is Robert Allen and Ann Loring. It was directed by Leonard Valenta who otherwise did soap,operas. The original commercials are here as well. You can watch it here.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 10, 1902 — Curt Siodmak. He is known for his work in the horror and sf films for The Wolf Man and Donovan’s Brain, the latter from his own novel. ISFDB notes the latter was part of his Dr. Patrick Cory series, and he wrote quite a few other genre novels as well. Donovan’s Brain and just a few other works are available in digital form. (Died 2000.) (CE)
Born August 10, 1903 — Ward Moore. Author of Bring the Jubilee which everyone knows about as it’s often added to that mythical genre canon and several more that I’m fairly sure almost no one knows of. More interestingly to me was that he was a keen writer of recipes of which ISFDB documents that four of his appeared in Anne McCaffrey’s Cooking Out of This World: “Kidneys — Like Father Used to Make” and “Pea Soup — Potage Ste. Germaine“ being two of them. (Died 1978.) (CE)
Born August 10, 1913 — Noah Beery Jr. Genre-wise, he’s best remembered as Maj. William Corrigan on the Fifties classic SF film Rocketship X-M, but he showed up in other genre undertakings as well such as 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, The Six Million Dollar Man, Fantasy Island, Beyond Witch Mountain, The Ghost of Cypress Swamp and The Cat Creeps. I think he appeared in one of the earliest Zorro films made where he’s credited just as a boy, he’d be seven then, The Mark of Zorro which had Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and his father, Noah Beery Sr. (Died 1994.) (CE)
Born August 10, 1931 – Alexis Gilliland, 89. Seven novels, six shorter stories and a Feghoot; Campbell (as it then was) for Best New Writer. Chaired six Disclaves. WSFA (Washington, D.C., SF Ass’n) met at his house for decades. One of our finest fanartists. Four Hugos, three FAAn (FAn Activity Achievement) Awards, Rotsler. Letters, perhaps three hundred cartoons in Alexiad, Algol, Amazing, Analog, Asimov’s, Chunga, Fantasy Review, Flag, Janus, Locus, Mimosa, Pulphouse, SF Eye, SF Commentary, SF Review, SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) Bulletin, Star*Line, Worldcon Souvenir Books. Here is a cover for SF Review. See here, here, here. Makes good deviled eggs. [JH]
Born August 10, 1944 — Barbara Erskine, 76. I’m including her because I’ve got a bit of a mystery. ISFDB lists her as writing over a dozen genre novels and her wiki page says she has a fascination with the supernatural but neither indicates what manner of genre fiction she wrote. I’m guessing romance or gothic tinged with the supernatural based on the covers but that’s just a guess. What do y’all know about her? (CE)
Born August 10, 1955 — Eddie Campbell, 65. Best-known as the illustrator and publisher of From Hell (written by Alan Moore), and Bacchus, a most excellent series about the few Greek gods who have made to the present day. Though not genre in the slightest way, I highly recommend The Black Diamond Detective Agency which he did. It’s an adaptation of an as-yet unmade screenplay by C. Gaby Mitchell. (CE)
Born August 10, 1955 – Tom Kidd, 65. Eight Chesleys. Artbooks Kiddography, OtherWorlds, How to Draw & Paint Dragons. Three hundred eighty covers, a hundred forty interiors. Here is Not This August. Here is the Oct 83 Fantasy & Science Fiction. Here is Songs of the Dying Earth. Here is Overruled. [JH]
Born August 10, 1962 – Horia Gâbea, Sc.D., 58. Romanian playwright, poet, essayist, novelist, engineer, popularizer of contract bridge. University of Bilbao prize for poetry. The Serpent performed by the British Royal Court Theatre. Translator of Chekhov, Corneille, John D. MacDonald, Machiavelli. Accused of being “gratuitously bookish…. a pun more important than a murder…. thin and edgy like a razor…. forgives no one no thing.” Worlds and Beings anthology in English. [JH]
Born August 10, 1965 — Claudia Christian, 55. Best-known role is Commander Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5, but she has done other genre roles such as being Brenda Lee Van Buren in The Hidden, Katherine Shelley in Lancelot: Guardian of Time, Quinn in Arena, Lucy in The Haunting of Hell House and Kate Dematti in Meteor Apocalypse. She’s had one-offs on Space Rangers, Highlander, Quantum Leap, Relic Hunter and Grimm. She’s Captain Belinda Blowhard on Starhyke, a six-episode series shot in ‘05 you can on Amazon Prime. (CE)
Born August 10, 1971 – Lara Morgan, 49. Six novels for us. “Her mission is to rid the world of tea, one cup at a time. This is going quite well.” She liked All Our Yesterdays, alas for me not Harry Warner’s but Cristin Terrill’s; ranked Ender’s Game about the same as Lilith’s Brood. Website here. [JH]
Born August 10, 1985 – Andrew Drilon, 35. A dozen short stories; Philippine Speculative Fiction 9 with Charles Tan; four covers, three dozen interiors; comics. Here is Heroes, Villains, and Other Women. Here is WonderLust. Here is a sequence from his own Whapak! [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
The Far Side has one about aliens that really brings this cartoon series’ title to mind.
…Round 1 saw Connery knock out current 007 actor Daniel Craig, coming out on top with 56 per cent of the vote compared to Craig’s 43 per cent, while Pierce Brosnan winning Round 2 with 76 per cent against his opponent George Lazenby’s 24 per cent.
Round 3 saw perhaps the most surprising result yet, as Roger Moore was knocked out of the competition – with 41 per cent of the vote, he lost out to his immediate successor Timothy Dalton, who scored 49 per cent of the vote.
At some point, someone decided that Star Trek fans were fanatical about cutlery and all things fine dining, hence the creations of a series of elegant Next Generation spoons.
The high-quality spoons feature the faces of fan-favorite characters such as Captain Picard and Data on the handle of each implement. While nice its almost impossible to imagine anyone actually using these spoons to eat with and the illogical decisions that led to their creation would no doubt befuddle Spock.
As long as there has been spaceflight, there have been conspiracy theories. There were conspiracy theories about Sputnik in the late 1950s (“their Germans are better than our Germans”) and dead cosmonauts in the early 1960s. Even before some people claimed—on the very day that it happened—that the Moon landing was faked, Apollo had its own conspiracy theories. In those days it was difficult for them to propagate and reach a wide audience, unlike today, when they can spread around the world at the speed of light. One of those Apollo conspiracy theories was about a whistleblower named Thomas Baron, who later died under mysterious circumstances.
Baron worked on the Apollo program in Florida for one of the key contractors. After the Apollo 1 fire in early 1967, Baron testified before a congressional fact-finding delegation that went to Florida. He later died under what some people considered to be mysterious circumstances, fueling speculation that he was killed to shut him up. The transcript of his testimony also could not be found by later researchers, which fueled the speculation that somebody was covering up damaging information.
In 1999, in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, radio station WAMU in Washington, DC, aired a program about the role of Washington politics in the lunar landing. “Washington Goes to the Moon” was written and produced by Richard Paul and featured interviews with a number of key figures in the story. Paul had decided that the Apollo 1 fire and the subsequent investigations into its cause would be a key focus of the program. In the course of researching the fire, he stumbled upon a document that many believed was long-lost: a transcript of an interview with Thomas Baron, who alleged that there were numerous improper actions taken by his employer, North American Aviation, which was building the spacecraft.
From invading animals to a faulty computer chip worth less than a dollar, the alarmingly long list of close calls shows just how easily nuclear war could happen by mistake.
…All told, there have been at least 22 alarmingly narrow misses since nuclear weapons were discovered. So far, we’ve been pushed to the brink of nuclear war by such innocuous events as a group of flying swans, the Moon, minor computer problems and unusual space weather. In 1958, a plane accidentally dropped a nuclear bomb in a family’s back garden; miraculously, no one was killed, though their free-range chickens were vaporised. Mishaps have occurred as recently as 2010, when the United States Air Force temporarily lost the ability to communicate with 50 nuclear missiles, meaning there would have been no way to detect and stop an automatic launch.
(14) BLOCKHOUSE FOR BLOCKHEADS? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Schultz, in “For Sale: A Cold War Bunker and Missile Silo in North Dakota” on Atlas Obscura, says that tomorrow auctioneers will sell a 50-acre site in North Dakota that housed a missile base loaded with Sprint missiles that were supposed to be the last line of defense against Soviet ICBM’s. The missiles are gone but the buildings are still there, and it’s perfect for a slan shack or future Worldcon bid, or would be an ideal place to conduct fan feuds. What better place to launch verbal missiles than a place that housed real missiles? Plus all the former missile silos are guaranteed to be socially distant from each other!
HALF AN HOUR SOUTH OF the Canadian border, in Fairdale, North Dakota, a hulking concrete structure rises up from the flat fields that surround it. The beige buildings are so prominent on an otherwise pastoral landscape that they could be mistaken for a 20th-century Stonehenge.
(15) I WALK TO THE TREES. In “The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George promises a film with “a whole lot of walking. Even the trees walk.”
[Thanks to John Hertz, Lise Andreasen, N., Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, James Davis Nicoll, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michal Toman, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) THE TOP OF THE WORLD. Rachel S. Cordasco is dedicating June to “Nordic SF in Translation” on her SF in Translation site and on FB and Twitter: “SFT From The Nordic Countries” . She’s looking for on-topic contributions, too.
Speculative fiction in English translation from the Nordic countries has been available as far back as the turn of the twentieth century. Since the beginning of the twenty-first, though, we’ve gotten a lot more, especially horror from Sweden and fantasy from Finland.
During the month of June, I’ll be spotlighting this little-known (in the Anglosphere) but important and often brilliant speculative fiction. Several stories listed here are available for free online.
Elizabeth Knox has been named a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature in the Queen’s Birthday honours list announced today. We note that she describes her books as “literary non-realism”, but if you read them you will recognise science fiction and fantasy when you see it.
Taika Waititi picked up an ONZM in the same awards for services to film. He has been involved in many projects which fit in our genre description, although we note that the Stuff article about the awards fails to mention his role in the creation of what we here at SFFANZ news think is the best of them – Wellington Paranormal.
Stuff fills in Knox’s bibliography:
…The first book in the series, Dreamhunter, won the 2006 Esther Glen Award and the 2007 ALA Best Books for Young Adults award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and awarded a ‘White Raven’ by the International Youth Library in 2006.
Her most recent book, published in 2019, The Absolute Book, won the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement.
(3) FELLOWSHIP REUNITED. Josh Gad has posted “One Zoom to Rule Them All | Reunited Apart LORD OF THE RINGS Edition.”
It’s the Return of the KINGS – Josh gathers the Fellowship and then some, to go on a very important mission…. quest…. thing.
FEATURING: Sean Astin, Elijah Wood, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellan, and many more!
(4) CHECKING IN. CoNZealand Fan Guest of Honour Rose Mitchell stays in touch —
(5) SOUTH GATE IN ’58. Fanac.org is adding folders of photos scanned from the collection of Elinor Busby, including today’s packet from the 1958 Worldcon. (Which, incidentally, was held at the Hotel Alexandria, whose marquee was in a helicopter view I saw of Friday night’s protests in downtown LA.)
Thanks to the scanning of Linda Deneroff, we’re putting up photos from Elinor Busby’s collection. Today, we’ve added the first 16 and these are from the 1958 Solacon, and parties thereafter. Find them at http://fanac.org/Fan_Photo_Album/b03-p00.html . There are more to come. Thanks to Linda for scanning and to Elinor for providing the photos. It’s a real treat to see these.
… The text includes long lists of suicidal chess players, war criminals and notable Latvian celebrities, from Mikhail Baryshnikov to Mark Rothko. There are also accounts of victims of the Nazis, from Ban’s uncle’s young love, a violinist, to Joseph Roth’s mentally ill wife, fatally institutionalised in the euthanasia clinic Schloss Hartheim, “the only killing centre in the second world war from which not a single person emerged alive”.
…These issues are as relevant now as they were years ago, if not more so (see, for instance, the ChiZine scandal, where authors accepted all kinds of abuse, including questionable contract language, because of the publisher’s then-stellar reputation). I hear all the time from writers who’ve been offered seriously problematic contracts and are using various rationalizations to convince themselves (sometimes at the publisher’s urging) that bad language or bad terms are not actually so bad, or are unlikely ever to apply.
Here are my suggestions for changing these damaging ways of thinking.
Don’t assume that every single word of your contract won’t apply to you at some point. You may think “Oh, that will never happen” (for instance, the publisher’s right to refuse to publish your manuscript if it thinks that changes in the market may reduce your sales, or its right to terminate the contract if it believes you’ve violated a non-disparagement clause). Or the publisher may tell you “We never actually do that” (for instance, edit at will without consulting you, or impose a termination fee). But if your contract says it can happen, it may well happen…and if it does happen, can you live with it? That’s the question you need to ask yourself when evaluating a contract….
…Muren’s role also expanded with Empire, as he took point on directing the fleet of miniatures that play a major part of the film’s iconic opening set-piece on the ice planet, Hoth. With the advent of digital technology still many years away, Muren and his team brought the Rebel’s herd of tauntauns and the Empire’s squad of AT-AT walkers to life by hand. And through it all, he followed the example established by Harryhausen.
Mr. Hann began selling books and CDs in stores in the Morningside Heights section of Manhattan starting at least in the early 1980s, before settling into his longtime spot on Broadway between 112th and 113th Streets.
To generations of Columbia students, he was part of the streetscape, as much a sidewalk fixture as the parking meter he leaned upon while almost invariably immersed in a sci-fi paperback.
But even when his head was in a galaxy far away, his tennis shoes were planted on New York streets, where life, he would remark, could often be stranger than anything dreamed up by Ray Bradbury or Isaac Asimov….
(10) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
The name of the soft serve ice cream cart on the space force military base is named Meal Armstrong
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.
May 31, 1990 — Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall premiered. It starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, and Michael Ironside. It’s rather loosely based on Philip K. Dick‘s “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” story. Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon and Gary Goldman Wrote the screenplay. It finished second at Chicon V for Best Dramatic Presentation to Edward Scissorhands. Most critics liked it well-enough though a number of feminist critics thought it excessively violent towards women. It currently holds a 78% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 31, 1893 – Elizabeth Coatsworth. Newbery Medal for The Cat Who Went to Heaven (1930). Four “incredible tales” for adults; four books of poetry; ninety in all; memoir Personal Geography. (Died 1986) [JH]
Born May 31, 1895 — George R. Stewart. His 1949 novel Earth Abides won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951. That was a British award and the first one was given at Festivention. Other genre works would include Man, An Autobiography and Storm which is at least genre adjacent. (Died 1980.) (CE)
Born May 31, 1910 – Aubrey MacDermott. Possibly the first fan. He always said he was. Unfortunately, the supporting evidence is thin. He may well have founded the Eastbay Club in the San Francisco Bay area around 1928. Anyway, he was Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon XXXX (Oakland, 1987). Here is his Origin Story as of 1990. (Died 1996) [JH]
Born May 31, 1921 – Arthur Sellings. Six novels, fifty shorter stories, in Fantastic, Galaxy, Imagination, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nebula, New Worlds, New Writing, Worlds of Tomorrow; translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian, Russian. Born in Kent, died in Sussex. Antiquarian, book & art dealer. (Died 1968) [JH]
Born May 31, 1930 — Gary Brandner. Best remembered for his werewolf trilogy, The Howling of which the first was very loosely made into a film. He wrote the script for Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf. The fourth film of the Howling series, Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, is actually almost an accurate adaptation of the first novel. He wrote a lot of other horror and penned the novelisation of Cat People. (Died 2013.) (CE)
Born May 31, 1942 – Brian Burley. Active fan in Ohio and New York. In 1966, co-founder of Marcon. In 1979 he was in FISTFA (Fannish Insurgent Scientifictional Ass’n); here he is (with S.H. Craig and Pat O’Neill) on “Fandom in New York” for the Lunacon XXII Program Book. Co-founded (with John Boardman and Fred Lerner) the Beaker People Libation Front, which Fancyclopedia III mildly calls “not entirely serious”; see here. (Died 2006) [JH]
Born May 31, 1950 — Gregory Harrison,70. I’m always surprised to discover a series didn’t last as long as I thought It had. He was Logan 5 in Logan’s Run which only lasted fourteen episodes. He was also in Dark Skies, twenty episodes before cancellation, as the voice of Old John Loengard, and had one-offs in Dead Man’s Gun (cursed object), Touched by an Angel, Outer Limits and Miracles. (CE)
Born May 31, 1961 — Lea Thompson, 59. She’s obviously best-known for her role as Lorraine Baines in the Back to the Future trilogy though I remember her first as Beverly Switzler in Howard the Duck as I saw Back to the Future after I saw Howard the Duck. Not sure why that was. Her first genre role was actually as Kelly Ann Bukowski in Jaws 3-D, a film I most decidedly did not see. If you accept the Scorpion series as genre, she’s got a recurring role as Veronica Dineen on it. (CE)
Born May 31, 1968 — John Connolly, 52. An Irish writer who is best known for his series of novels starring private detective Charlie Parker. According to ISFDB, these novels are well within the genre as some of the assigned tags are “zombies”, “alien invasion”, “supernatural thriller” and “dark fantasy”. So who has read these? (CE)
Born May 31, 1977 – Cat Hellisen. Fantasy for adults and children; free-lance editing; also archery, aikidô, figure skating. Here is a digital-art sketch of a chaffinch; here in ink are some vines and chrysalides. First novel, When the Sea is Rising Red; four more; a dozen and a half shorter stories. “The Worme Bridge” won the Short Story Day Africa award. More recently in Fife she likes the forests and the fields and the Forth. [JH]
Born May 31, 1979 — Sophia McDougall, 41. She has a very well-crafted alternative history series, the Romanitas series, in which Rome didn’t fall and rules the world today. She has two SF novel — Mars Evacuees is sort of YA alien invasion novel; Space Hostages reminds of a Heinlein YA novel. (CE)
Born May 31, 1995 – Jeremy Szal. Two dozen short stories electronically and on paper, e.g. at Tor.comand in Nature. Fiction editor at StarShipSofa 2014-2020 (Episodes 360-600). First novel Stormblood scheduled for release in early June. See his review of Predestination at Strange Horizons here. [JH]
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Candorville revises a nursery rhyme for greater astrophysical accuracy.
…I experienced Tochi Onyebuchi’s RIOT BABY(Tor.com, 176 pp., $19.99) as one tightly held breath. Moving from South Central Los Angeles to Harlem to Rikers Island to a speculative near-future in short bursts of fierce feeling, “Riot Baby,” Onyebuchi’s first novel for adults, is as much the story of Ella and her brother, Kevin, as it is the story of black pain in America, of the extent and lineage of police brutality, racism and injustice in this country, written in prose as searing and precise as hot diamonds.
Ella has a “Thing,” a power that manifests variably as telepathy, precognition, telekinesis, but isn’t ever described in those terms; she experiences it as overwhelming grief and anger, as explosion and aftermath, and struggles with controlling and deploying it over the course of the book. Kevin, born in 1992 during the Los Angeles riots, grows up in Harlem in the shadow of Ella’s furious, repressed power — but when Ella vanishes after watching reports of the murder of Sean Bell on television, she takes her limited protection of him with her. Kevin’s adolescence consists of being harassed by the police and consistently steered away from education and prospects, before getting arrested on an attempted armed robbery charge and imprisoned on Rikers….
…. For great love, as the Nobel-winning Polish poet Wis?awa Szymborska observed in her splendid meditation on its mystery, is “never justified” but is rather “like the little tree that springs up in some inexplicable fashion on the side of a cliff: where are its roots, what does it feed on, what miracle produces those green leaves?”
That improbable and inexplicable miracle is what Edward Gorey (February 22, 1925–April 15, 2000) celebrates with his signature faux-terse tenderness and soulful oddness in the vintage gem The Osbick Bird (public library).
This week in The Full Lid, Streets of Rage 4 teaches me how to crystallize my love for a good action scene. Louie Stowell’s wonderful The Dragon in the Library is a big-hearted and witty MG fantasy that has a lot for parents too while Doctor Who audio specialists Big Finish head into new SFnal territory with The Human Frontier. We’ve also got a look at some of the best indie tabletop RPGs on the market and a massive Signal Boost section, including several Hugo finalists and their voter packet material. If you’re a finalist and you have your material hosted online already, please get in touch and I’d be happy to link to that too.
The Full Lid is published every Friday at 5pm BST. You can sign up, and find an archive of the last six months of issues, here.
…Back in 2018, Necco—one of America’s oldest candy companies—went out of business, leaving a number of well-known but polarizing products in limbo, including Sweethearts Conversation Hearts, Clark Bars, Mary Janes, and the eponymous Necco Wafers. Nearly all of these brands have been snapped up by someone. For instance, Sweethearts are a Valentine’s Day classic, so Ohio’s Spangler Candy Company has been pushing to get them back into production. The Clark Bar has its roots in Pittsburgh, so Pennsylvania’s Boyer Candy Company decided to bring the bar home. Heck, even Mary Jane—those peanut butter chews that made it easy to decide which houses to T.P. on Halloween—found a new producer, according to CandyIndustry.com.
But what about Necco Wafers? The flavored discs are historically significant, first produced over 150 years ago in 1847, but they are also often unfavorably compared to chalk. Plus, with Necco unable to keep the lights on, was the writing on the wall for the company’s signature wafers?
Imagining your place in the universe can make you feel pretty small and insignificant, and in the midst of a global pandemic? Well, even more so.
“I think this moment that we are living through reminds us how fragile our species is, living on this small rock in the vastness of the cosmos,” says astrophysicist Ray Jayawardhana. But he doesn’t think that the universe should necessarily make you feel alone. It’s inspiring, he says, to remember the “intimate and enduring connections that we have with the rest of the cosmos.”
Jayawardhana, a professor at Cornell University, has written a bedtime story called Child of the Universe which helps parents talk with their children about some of those connections.
“The universe conspired to make you …” a dad tells his daughter as they look up at a full moon. “The iron in your blood, the calcium in your bones, are made up of stars that lived long ago.”
Jayawardhana drew from memories of looking up at the night sky with his father, when he was a child growing up in Sri Lanka. “I remember being awed by constellations of twinkling stars and bright planets like Venus and Jupiter in particular” Jayawardhana says. “One night, my father told me that people had been to the moon. I was just amazed. Suddenly, that bright light up above became a place that one could visit. At that moment, my sense of what’s possible expanded dramatically.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Lise Andreasen, John Hertz, Scott Edelman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
Today is International Women’s Day, and people have been busy celebrating the women in their lives, including their favorite franchise characters. Chewbacca actor Joonas Suotamo wrote a special post in honor of Carrie Fisher, and he’s not the only one to celebrate the women of Star Wars. The official Instagram account for Star Wars also took to social media to share a “Women of the Galaxy” video, which showcases most of the women featured in the original Star Wars trilogy, prequels, sequels, and both live-action and animated series.
It started with my then agent telling me that a Mexican publisher wanted to publish BUG JACK BARRON in a cheap Mexican edition for a small advance. BUG JACK BARRON had been published in Spanish, but not in Mexico, since, like English language rights split between the US and Britain, Spanish language rights are generally split between Spain and Latin America. I shrugged, and said okay, not knowing much more about it, except that it was Paco Taibo, who I knew years ago, was making the deal, and I didn’t think much more about it then.
But then Paco asked me to come to Mexico City for the book launch, which was also going to be the launch of a new collection of the overall publisher, La Fondo de Cultura Economica. What is that ? I asked, and Paco told me the brief version.
La Fondo de Cultura Economica is a non-profit publisher subsidized by the Mexican government which publishes 500 books a year, distributes the books of other publishers in its 140 book stores in Mexico and the rest of Latin America, whose mission is to allow people who otherwise might not be able to afford buy them to buy a wide assortment of books at cut-rate prices.
Lem’s fiction is filled with haunting, prescient landscapes. In these reissued and newly issued translations — some by the pitch-perfect Lem-o-phile, Michael Kandel — each sentence is as hard, gleaming and unpredictable as the next marvelous invention or plot twist. It’s hard to keep up with Lem’s hyper-drive of an imagination but always fun to try.
(5) BAD ACTORS AT GOODREADS. Camestros Felapton notes that Ersatz
Culture “has been doing some deep data-driven detective work on Goodreads
sockpuppet accounts” and rounds up the related Twitter threads here — “Just
some links to Ersatz Culture’s detective work”. Felapton explains why
the abuse is so easy:
To register an account with Goodreads you have to give an email address BUT unlike most websites these days there is no email verification step i.e. you don’t NEED multiple actual email addresses to set up multiple accounts. The system is wide-open for abuse.
Ersatz Culture says the issue is: “Suspicious Goodreads
accounts giving a slate of books 5-star reviews, and potentially getting
them onto the Goodreads Choice Award as write-in nominees.”
* On a Hugo-related list on Goodreads that Contrarius admins, a few months ago I noticed patterns of user rating that were atypical and (IMHO) suspicious
* I spent a load of time this weekend digging into why this happened. Ultimately it came down to 80+ brand new user accounts created in October and November 2019 all giving 5-star ratings to a slate of 25-35 books (plus a few others)
* The November cohort of these accounts were created in the week when the Goodreads Choice Awards were open to write-in candidates. Quite possibly this is coincidence – there’s no way of proving any connection, that I can see – but two of the books on their slate were successful in getting into the nominations; one of them turns out to be a massive outlier compared to the other nominees in its category when you look at metrics of number of Goodreads users who’d read it etc.
The details are in three long Twitter threads: here, here,
(6) THE ROARING THIRTIES. First Fandom Experience is
at work on a project to acquaint people with “The
In honor of the upcoming centenary of Ray Bradbury’s birth (August 22, 2020), we’re digging through our archive of 1930s fan material to find the earliest appearances of Ray’s writings — in any form. We hope to publish a compendium of these in the next several weeks.
We’re not talking about the well-known and oft-reproduced works such as Futuria Fantasia, or even the somewhat-known and occasionally-reproduced “Hollerbachen’s Dilemma.” We’re seeking anything that appeared prior to 1940 that has been rarely if ever surfaced, especially as it was originally printed.
A primary source for Ray’s earliest articles is the Los Angeles Science Fiction League’s organ, Imagination! This zine’s first issue was published in October 1937 — the same month that Ray joined the LASFL. It ran for thirteen issues through October 1938. Through years of ardent questing, we’re fortunate to have assembled a complete run.
See pages from those zines at the link.
DRAMATIZATION ONLINE. Brian
Aldiss’ Hothouse is a 5 part audio book series downloadable from BBC
Radio 4 Extra: “Brian
Aldiss – Hothouse” read by Gareth Thomas.
Millions of years from now, a small tribe battles to stay alive in Earth’s dense jungle.
Congratulations on having three novellas come out this year, including two Cormac & Amelia stories, and “Gremlin,” which came out in Asimov’s Science Fiction, about a gremlin partnering with a WWII fighter pilot. What are some of the challenges in writing novella-length fiction?
Thank you! Novellas have actually reduced some of the challenges I’ve been facing recently, as strange as that sounds. Over the last couple of years, I’d been putting a huge amount of pressure on myself to write a “big” novel. Big ideas, big impact, etc. That wasn’t working out so well for various reasons, and novellas gave me a chance to back up and rediscover my creative well, without as much pressure. Novellas have enough space to tell an in-depth story with lots of detail and character development, but without the commitment of writing a full-length novel. I went into my rough drafts folder and found some stories I had abandoned or not really developed because I thought they were supposed to be novels—but it turns out that maybe they were meant to be novellas. I could finally develop them without the pressure to “go big.” “Gremlin” and “Dark Divide” both came out of that effort. So did “The Ghosts of Sherwood,” which will be coming out in June 2020. I’ve found novellas to be more liberating than challenging.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 8, 1978 — The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was first broadcast 42 years ago today. Tonight BBC Radio 4 Extra has several programs on the Guide starting with Vogon Poetry: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is 42”
To celebrate the 42nd anniversary of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Dan Mersh and Helen Keen put on their dressing gowns and make themselves a nice hot cup of tea as they introduce all 6 episodes of the 1978 radio series alongside archive programmes and especially made H2G2-related features and interviews.
March 8, 1984 — The comedy musical Voyage of the Rock Aliens premiered. It was directed by James Fargo and Rob Giraldi. It starred Pia Zadora, Jermaine Jackson, Tom Nolan, Ruth Gordon and Craig Sheffer. It was conceived as a B-movie spoof, and you can see if that’s true here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 8, 1859 — Kenneth Grahame. Author of The Wind in the Willows of course, which it turns out has had seven film adaptations, not all under the name The Wind in the Willows. Did you know A.A. Milne dramatized it for BBC Radio 4 back in the Seventies as Toad of Toad Hall? Oh, and he did write one other fantasy, The Reluctant Dragon which I’ve never heard of. Have any of y’all read it? (Died 1932.)
Born March 8, 1914 — Priscilla Lawson. In 1936, she was cast in the very first Flash Gordon serial as the daughter of Ming the Merciless. Princess Aura’s rivalry with Dale Arden for Flash Gordon’s affection was one of the main plots of the serial and gained Lawson lasting cult figure status. (Died 1958.)
Born March 8, 1921 — Alan Hale Jr. The Skipper on Gilligan’s Island which y’all decided wasgenre, and he did show up in such films as Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl, The Fifth Musketeer and The Giant Spider Invasion which is most decidedly SF, if of a pulpish variety. Series wise, I see he was on The Wild Wild West and Fantasy Island. (Died 1990.)
Born March 8, 1934 — Kurt Mahr. He’s one of the first authors of the Perry Rhodan series which, according to his German Wiki page, is one of “the largest science fiction series of the world.” I’ve not read any Rhodan fiction, so how is it? (Died 1993.)
Born March 8, 1939 — Peter Nicholls. Writer and editor. creator and co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction with John Clute. His other publications were Science Fiction at Large, The Science in Science Fiction edited by Nicholls and written by him and David Langford, and Fantastic Cinema. He became the first Administrator of the UK’s Science Fiction Foundation. He was editor of its journal, Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction, from 1974 to 1978. (Died 2018.)
Born March 8, 1950 — Peter McCauley, 70. I remember him best from the most excellent Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World series where he played Professor George Challenger. He also showed as Mr. Spilett on Mysterious Island, another series shot in New Zealand and based off Jules Verne’s novel L’Île mystérieuse. Continuing the Verne riff, he was Admiral McCutcheon in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a Nineties TV version of the novel.
Born March 8, 1970 — Jed Rees, 50. Another Galaxy Quest performer, he played Teb, a Thermian. His most recent major genre outing was on Deadpool as Jared / Agent Smith / The Recruiter. He’s had one-offs in Ghost Whisperer, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, The Net, X-Files,Outer Limits,The Sentinel and Sliders.
Born March 8, 1976 — Freddie Prinze Jr., 44. I’m fairly sure his first genre role was in Wing Commander as Lt. Christopher Blair followed by the animated Mass Effect: Paragon Lost in which he voiced Lieutenant James Vega. Speaking of animated endeavors, I’ve got him in Kim Possible: A Sitch In Time voicing Future Jim / Future Tim followed by being in all in all four seasons of the animated Star Wars Rebels as Kanan Jarrus. And that’s a series which I highly recommend as it may well be the best Star Wars fiction ever done.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Foxtrot’s Jason Fox discovers that role-playing the Witchers may be harder than it seems.
…In communication with The Austin Chronicle late on Friday, SXSW co-founder and managing director Roland Swenson told the outlet that the festival does not have an insurance plan to cover this specific reason for cancellation. “We have a lot of insurance (terrorism, injury, property destruction, weather). However bacterial infections, communicable diseases, viruses and pandemics are not covered.”
The cancellation follows many companies choosing not to participate this year as a safety precaution, including Netflix, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, WarnerMedia and Amazon Studios.
In announcing their cancellations, several companies cited concerns over the spread of the virus, which has resulted in 3,000 deaths worldwide and affected over 90,000 people in numerous countries. Though little is known and a vaccine is not currently available, coronavirus causes the virus, which involves flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough and respiratory trouble.
…In an industry not known for its permanence, it is perhaps no surprise that the Great Movie Ride is no more — its replacement, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, opened this week — but Feige’s comments cut to the importance of not only remembering but also safeguarding our past. The value of pop art, and how revered and inspirational it can be to its audience, is arguably directly proportional to the care with which we treat it. At least that’s a core thesis of a new Disney-themed exhibit opening at Orange County’s Bowers Museum, which aims to look not only at Disney’s history but the art of conservancy itself.
For 50 years, the Walt Disney Archives has amassed one of Hollywood’s most extensive corporate histories, a collection that ranges from company memos — the initial contract for the silent 1920s Alice Comedies — to figurines from, yes, the recently retired Great Movie Ride. That Alice Comedies contract, as well as a xenomorph from “Alien,” which was once housed in that Walt Disney World attraction, are part of the expansive “Inside the Walt Disney Archives: 50 Years of Preserving the Magic,” an exhibit opening this weekend and continuing through Aug. 30 at Santa Ana’s Bowers Museum.
[Friday] night, SpaceX launched its first generation Dragon capsule on its twentieth — and final — resupply run to the International Space Station.
The launch marks the Dragon’s last mission as the capsule makes way for SpaceX’s updated and improved Dragon 2 capsule, which will begin making resupply runs to the space station in October.
Alongside cargo to resupply the ISS, the Dragon will be bringing along payloads for experimental research aboard the space station. Including an Adidas experiment to see how it can manufacture midsoles in space; a project from the faucet maker, Delta, to see how water droplets form in zero gravity; and Emulate is sending up an organ-on-a-chip to examine how microgravity affects intestinal immune cells and how heart tissue can be cultured in space.
SpaceX launched another cargo mission to the International Space Station Friday, successfully landing the flight’s rocket booster for the 50th time in the last five years, the Associated Press reported.
The rocket lifted off to a countdown and cheers from an audience at SpaceX’s headquarters in California, but the largest cheers came for the successful landing of the rocket’s first-stage booster. After falling away from the Dragon capsule, the “Falcon 9” touched back down on the landing pad, amid flashes of bright light and smoke.
“And the Falcon has landed for the 50th time in SpaceX history!” announced lead engineer Jessica Anderson on a livestream from SpaceX HQ.
A peckish pig who swallowed a pedometer ended up sparking a fire in its pen.
Fire crews were called to a farm near Bramham, Leeds, at about 14:00 GMT on Saturday after copper from the pedometer’s batteries apparently reacted with the pig’s excrement and dry bedding.
The pedometers were being used on pigs to prove they were free-range. No pigs or people were hurt in the fire.
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had gone to “save the bacon”.
(17) THE BAT CAPITAL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] And here everybody thought Gotham was a stand in for NYC.
Turns out it was London all along. ComicBook.com is there when “Epic Batman Statue Debuts in London”
DC Comics just debuted an epic new Batman statue in Leicester Square. They posted about the monument to the superhero on Facebook with an image of the Caped Crusader looking down on the populace. The detailing on this piece looks very intricate with the muscle work, utility belt, and cowl deserving special shout outs. The post also calls back to Batman Day when the company made Bat-Signals all across the world in different cities. London was on the list of places that got the light show…
A lot of fans have big hopes for Matt Reeves’ The Batman next year. They believe it could give them a fresh take on the character that will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the other movie version of the hero.
“It’s very much a point of view-driven, noir Batman tale. It’s told very squarely on his shoulders, and I hope it’s going to be a story that will be thrilling but also emotional,” Reeves said to THR. “It’s more Batman in his detective mode than we’ve seen in the films. The comics have a history of that. He’s supposed to be the world’s greatest detective, and that’s not necessarily been a part of what the movies have been. I’d love this to be one where when we go on that journey of tracking down the criminals and trying to solve a crime, it’s going to allow his character to have an arc so that he can go through a transformation.”
(18) 007 VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse
Wooster.] Saturday Night Live host Daniel Craig of course talked about playing James Bond in the opening
monologue. He also played a purported clip from No Time To Die.
It’s really funny!
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Darrah Chavey, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
In general, speculative fiction in translation (SFT) accounts for a very small fraction of the fiction published in English each year. This past year was no exception: 50 books (novels, collections, and anthologies) and 80 short (standalone) works of SFT made their way to Anglophone readers. While this may not sound like much, it does signify a slow but steady increase in non-Anglophone speculative fiction since the turn of the century. Not since the 1960s and ’70s have we seen such an increase, and while I can’t point to any one factor as an explanation, I imagine that the unprecedented worldwide connectivity brought about by the internet at the end of the last century, coupled with the increase in small and micro-presses and magazines that regularly publish speculative fiction, may offer a partial answer. Perhaps another factor is the growing interest of speculative fiction fans in stories that are written from a non-Anglophone perspective…
(2) LONDON’S OFF THE HOOK. Yesterday, the London Book Fair planned
to carry on, even in the face of businesses dropping out because of coronavirus
fears. Today, The Guardian reports
it’s been cancelled.
One of the world’s biggest international literary events, the London book fair, has been cancelled over coronavirus fears, amid growing anger that the delay in calling it off was putting people’s health at risk and an unfair financial strain on publishers.
Organiser Reed Exhibitions announced on Wednesday that the escalation of the illness meant the fair, scheduled to run from 10 to 12 March, would be called off. Around 25,000 publishers, authors and agents from around the world had been due to attend the event, where deals for the hottest new books are struck.
But the event was already set to be a ghost town when it opened its doors, after publishers and rights agencies began withdrawing en masse over the last week. Some of the world’s biggest, including Penguin Random House, HarperCollins and Hachette had already pulled out, as had Amazon and a host of literary agencies including Curtis Brown.
(3) NO TIME TO DEBUT. Another British institution, Agent
007, has also been affected by fears of the spread
of the COVID-19 flu: “No
Time to Die’s Release Is Delayed Seven Months Because of Coronavirus”.
The 25th James Bond movie was
supposed to premiere in April, but GQ reports it now will open in
November. The date has been pushed back so the film can make money in Asian countries
whose movie theatres are currently in trouble because of the coronavirus.
Now there are reports that the spread of the illness—and subsequent quarantines and travel restrictions in China—will likely impact the arrival of Baby Yoda toys.
Hasbro, which has the license for several Star Wars toys, including some dolls and figures of The Mandalorian’s breakout star, is very concerned about the potential for the coronavirus to disrupt its toy-making supply chains. CNN Business spoke to toy-industry expert Jim Silver, who said that the first batch of Baby Yoda toys, which are supposed to arrive later this month, are mostly in the clear so far. However, if things don’t return to normal by the start of the summer, Silver predicts “shortages on a litany of toys.”
In a filing released on Thursday, Hasbro admitted that it was experiencing coronavirus-related production difficulties in China, where more than 80,000 people have been infected. The company added that the flu “could have a significant negative impact on our revenues, profitability, and business.”
(5) NEXT YEAR IN HORROR. The StokerCon 2021 website has gone live. Next
year’s Horror Writers Association gathering will take place in Denver, CO from May
20-23. Memberships go on sale April 20 for $150 (Early Bird Special). The next rate
hike is June 30, 2020.
(6) TURNOVER ON THE MASTHEAD. Sean Wallace, Publisher of The Dark Magazine, told
followers about some recent and upcoming personnel changes.
Just before the start of the new year, our reprint editor Michael Kelly stepped back from his duties to put more time and energy in his small press company, Undertow Publications, and we wish him all the best in his endeavours. And then in other somewhat-related sad news, Silvia Moreno-Garcia is also soon leaving The Dark Magazine to focus on her writing career, which is really taking off, and rightfully so. As such, her last month will be with the July 2020 issue, which we are putting together the original lineup as we type this out.
Beyond that, we have no immediate plans to hire a new co-editor, at least for the remainder of 2020, but I will be sending out a further update on this closer to the end of the year.
OBIT. Aly Parsons (1952-2020) died February 9, reports Locus
Online. With her husband Paul Parsons (d. 2008), she hosted the Potomac
River Science Fiction Society for 12 years, and worked on Unicons and the 2003
World Fantasy Convention. She cofounded a Washington DC writers’ group that met
for decades. Her pro sales included a short story published in Marion Zimmer
Bradley’s Darkover anthology Sword of Chaos (1982).
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 4, 1956 — The Atomic Man premiered. If you saw it in the U.K., it was Tinmeslip. It was directed by Ken Hughes, and produced by Alec C. Snowden from The Isotope Man by Charles Eric Maine, who also wrote the screenplay. It starred Gene Nelson and Faith Domergue. You’ll need to watch it for yourself here to see how it is as there’s no Rotten Tomatoes ratings for it.
March 4, 1958 — Cosmic Monsters (The Strange World of Planet X in the U.K.) premiered. It was produced by George Maynard and John Bash, directed by Gilbert Gunn. It starred Forrest Tucker and Gaby André. It was a double bill with The Crawling Eye. It bombed at the Box Office, critics at the time hated it and it currently has a 6% rating among the audience at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see it here.
March 4, 1977 — Man From Atlantis premiered. Created by Mayo Simon and Herbert Solow, the pilot was written by Leo Katzin. It starred Patrick Duffy, Belinda Montgomery, Alan Fudge and Victor Bruno. It ran for thirteen episodes that followed four films. It was not renewed for a full season. We cannot offer you a look at it as it’s behind a paywall at YouTube.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 4, 1905 — Frank Utpatel. Artist who may have done some interior illustrations for Weird Tales, he’s remembered for his Arkham House book covers that began with Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth novel in 1936. He would do covers for Ashton, Howard, Derleth, and Lovecraft. (Died 1980.)
Born March 4, 1923 — Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore CBE HonFRS FRAS. Astronomer who liked Trek and Who early on but said later that he stopped watching when “they went PC – making women commanders, that kind of thing of thing.” Despite that, he’s here because, he shows up in the debut Eleventh Doctor story, “The Eleventh Hour.“ And he was in the radio version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as well. (Died 2012.)
Born March 4, 1933 — Bernie Zuber. A fan artist who was the original vice president of the Mythopoeic Society. He was also a long-time member of LASFS who joined in the Fifties. He served as one of the first editors of Mythlore, but leftafter a falling out with the Mythopoeic Society, and became the founder and president of the Tolkien Fellowships. He published Butterbur’s Woodshed, Germinal and The Westmarch Chronicle. (Died 2005.)
Born March 4, 1938 — Paula Prentiss, 82. One of the wives of the original Stepford Wives, she also appears as Sonia Dracula in the second Mr. and Mrs. Dracula pilot in 1981 after the first pilot was deemed not workable by the network. That pilot was also not brought to series either.
Born March 4, 1958 — James Ellroy, 72. Ok Filers. ISFDB lists two novels by him as being genre, Blood Moon and American Tabloid. I’ve read neither but nothing that I can find on the web suggests that either is even remotely genre adjacent. Who’s read them?
Born March 4, 1965 — Paul W. S. Anderson, 55. If there be modern pulp films, he’s the director of them. He’s responsible for the Resident Evil franchise plus Event Horizon, Alien V. Predator, Pandorum and even the forthcoming Monster Hunter which no, isn’t based off the work of a certain Sad Puppy.
Born March 4, 1966 — Daniela Amavia, 54. She appeared as Alia Atreides in the Children of Dune series.usually I wouldn’t include a performer fir just one genre credit, but she made a most perfect Alia that I will make an exception and do so in her case.
…But sometimes, Doctor Who’s willingness to play fast and loose with things we previously knew to be true just makes its stories unnecessarily complicated without adding anything of value to them. (See also: Clara’s status as the Impossible Girl, Melody Pond growing up to be River Song or the Hybrid mystery.) It certainly feels like that’s the case in the Season 12 finale, an episode which gives the Doctor an entirely new origin story, destroys her race (again!) and creates what feels like an almost limitless number of incarnations of the character that we, as viewers, will likely never meet.
Because the question at the end of all this is: So what?
After promising a game-changing finale that would upend everything we, as viewers, understood about the show, “The Timeless Children” didn’t really live up to that promise. It actually changes very little. By the time the closing credits roll, the entire series’ universe is supposed to be different. The problem is, it’s not. Not really. There are new pieces to the story, sure. But largely those pieces exist in the same places the old ones did. So, it’s hard to tell precisely why this story matters….
Because you can’t have it both ways: Either existing Doctor Who lore is important enough that shaking it up and turning it inside out and fighting strangers on the internet about it matters, or it doesn’t. If we change the rules, those changes need to mean something, and the story that comes out of those has to be worth rewriting the things that have come before. (And you have to respect that there were rules that existed in the first place.) It’s not clear that this episode does that, regardless of whether we’re talking about the Master’s characterization, the Doctor’s past, or the apparent erasure of Rassilon from existence. If nothing is truly different in the aftermath of stories that supposedly change everything, then what’s the point of telling them? Sure, “The Timeless Children” dropped the bombshell that the Doctor is functionally immortal, but we all sort of knew that already, since she was given a new set of regenerations back when she was Eleven.
(12) FRAUD, HE SAYS. While Paste Magazine is dubious,
John C. Wright is absolutely outraged (as one might expect) and calls the season-ending
Death of Doctor Who”. Again, BEWARE SPOILERS.
…So the Doctor turns out to be, not an eccentric Time Lord who stole a broken TARDIS to flee into time and space for madcap adventures helping the helpless, nay.
He is in fact a foundling, a poor little black girl, who is the sole source of the regenerative ability of the Time Lords, hence the true founder of their society, not Rassilon.
…The point of message fiction is twofold.
The first, like Aesop, attempts to convey a moral maxim or lesson in a palatable fashion to influence young minds.
This can be done well or poorly, depending on whether the story rules the message, or the message rules the story.
The message itself, like any sermon, can also be well written or poorly written.
But if the message derails the story, that is fraud. The author who promises an entertainment, but delivers a lecture instead, is just as much a cheat as a bartender who charges for a mug of beer but puts a glass of buttermilk before you. Buttermilk may be better for your health, but, honestly, the bartender is not your mother, and he is not doing the job you paid him for.
Wright proceeds to condemn all of this in the strongest terms. I can only imagine how upset he might have been if he had actually watched the show, but he assures his readers —
I have not seen the episode, nor, indeed, the season, nor ever will I.
(13) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter watched tonight’s Jeopardy!
contestants strike out on this one:
Category: America’s Richest Self-Made Women
Answer: Part of this author’s nearly $400 million fortune came from books she wrote under the J.D. Robb pseudonym.
For the first time, scientists have used the gene-editing technique CRISPR to try to edit a gene while the DNA is still inside a person’s body.
The groundbreaking procedure involved injecting the microscopic gene-editing tool into the eye of a patient blinded by a rare genetic disorder, in hopes of enabling the volunteer to see. They hope to know within weeks whether the approach is working and, if so, to know within two or three months how much vision will be restored.
“We’re really excited about this,” Dr. Eric Pierce, a professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, who is leading a study that the procedure launched, tells NPR.
“We’re helping open, potentially, an era of gene-editing for therapeutic use that could have impact in many aspects of medicine,” Pierce says.
The CRISPR gene-editing technique has been revolutionizing scientific research by making it much easier to rewrite the genetic code. It’s also raising high hopes of curing many diseases.
Before this step, doctors had only used CRISPR to try to treat a small number of patients who have cancer, or the rare blood disorders sickle cell anemia or beta-thalassemia. While some of the initial results have been promising, it’s still too soon to know whether the strategy is working.
In those other cases, doctors removed cells from patients’ bodies, edited genes in the cells with CRISPR in the lab and then infused the modified cells back into the volunteers’ bodies to either attack their cancer or produce a protein their bodies are missing.
A filmmaker says social media rules to prevent extremist material going online are thwarting his attempts to tackle hatred and extremism.
Rizwan Wadan said algorithms used by Facebook and TikTok were making it hard to promote his films.
Mr Wadan, 38, of Luton, said automatic filtering of words such as “jihad” and “terror,” forced users underground to learn about and discuss the issues.
Facebook said his trailer broke its ban on “sensational content” in adverts.
Mr Wadan, based at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, developed camera stabilisation systems and has worked on films including Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
He set up a £1.2m project called The Error in Terror to “give Muslims a voice,” and made films intended to deter acts of terrorism and challenge people to rethink their views.
But he said trailers for his work have been “restricted” on Facebook and said TikTok removed the content because it was deemed to break its guidelines.
“If we have algorithms that pick up words like ‘terrorism’ and ‘jihad,’ if we’re not allowed to discuss these things on social media platforms, then people who need to learn about this get pushed underground,” he said.
“They might start to learn about these things from people abroad where jihad is applied very differently and it could encourage individuals to get into revenge and retaliation, and this is very dangerous for us.
“It’s the responsibility of social media platforms to allow this kind of discussion to take place.”
11-year-old Star Wars fan Isabella Tadlock was born with a nub on the end of her left arm and no fingers on her right hand. Actor Mark Hamill saw her story on Twitter and helped her get a R2-D2 bionic arm.
(18) BOOKSHOPPING LEADS TO BOOKHOPPING. Powell’s Books
Blog presents “Portrait
of a Bookseller: Dana P.”, who recommends V.E. Schwab and Neil Gaiman,
and confesses a habit that will probably sound familiar to some of you.
Do you have any odd reading habits? I definitely have a bad habit of hoarding books and then starting too many of them at once. I love the feeling of just starting a book, when it holds so much potential, so I’ll often have about six books I’m in the middle of — but I’ll bounce back and forth between them so none of them feel neglected.
(19) THE INTERNET OF REBELLIOUS THINGS. Connected is about —
…an everyday family’s struggle to relate while technology rises up around the world! When nature-loving dad Rick… determines the whole family should drive Katie to school together and bond as a family one last time…. the Mitchells’ plans are interrupted by a tech uprising: all around the world, the electronic devices people love – from phones, to appliances, to an innovative new line of personal robots – decide it’s time to take over. With the help of two friendly malfunctioning robots, the Mitchells will have to get past their problems and work together to save each other and the world!
It arrives in theaters September 18.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ,
Mike Kennedy, Michal Tolan, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of
these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack