Improving the Real World while Building Imaginary Ones – James L. Sutter and the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers co-sponsor fundraiser for reproductive rights
Across the country, creatives are working to protect besieged reproductive rights. When co-creator of Pathfinder and StarfinderJames L. Sutter proposed donating the proceeds from his online workshop to the cause, Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers founder Cat Rambo said yes immediately – and offered to match his offer.
“Like a lot of folks,” Sutter said, “I was gutted by the recent SCOTUS news, and looking for ways to help. Turning the worldbuilding class into a fundraiser felt like a natural choice. Students can improve their writing and game-design skills while also supporting organizations fighting for justice. Everybody wins.”
All of the proceeds from the upcoming online workshop, “High-Speed Worldbuilding for Games and Fiction” will be split between Planned Parenthood and NARAL. The two-part workshop happens May 14 and 15, 2022, in two two-hour sessions, from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Pacific. Sign-up details can be found at here. The cost is $199. Several free need-based scholarships are available.
Easy tricks and tips to help you build unique worlds, cultures, and creatures for your games and stories—all in just a few minutes!
As co-creator of the Pathfinder and Starfinder Roleplaying Games, James L. Sutter has created countless award-winning fantasy and science fiction settings for games and fiction, ranging from monster-haunted metropolises to entire solar systems. But building worlds on a deadline means you can’t sit around waiting for inspiration. In this two-session, hands-on workshop, James will reveal everything he’s learned over 14 years in the game industry about how to quickly and easily generate compelling settings for your stories or games—even when you’re out of ideas. Learn his secrets for creating unique, fantastical new worlds that surprise and inspire your players, your readers—and yourself!
The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers has been in existence for over a decade under the leadership of award-winning fantasy and science fiction writer Cat Rambo, serving up live and on-demand online workshops from F&SF luminaries such as Ann Leckie, Henry Lien, Seanan McGuire, and Fran Wilde along with a virtual campus hosting events, discussion, and a lively and supportive community of writers. More information is available at the website.
Want to move from promising rejections to actual acceptances? The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers offers live and on-demand classes as well as a virtual campus featuring daily co-working sessions, weekly story discussion, and other Zoom-based social events and a Discord server for chatting with other writers and exchanging story critiques.
After 13 years and numerous delays, 20th Century Studios has finally released a glimpse into James Cameron’s “Avatar 2,” due Dec. 16. This marks the long-awaited sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time. The sequel’s official title is “Avatar: The Way of Water.”…
(3) CORA BUHLERT NEWS. Best Fan Writer nominee Cora Buhlert’s Hugo Voter Packet submission is now online as a free download for those who want to check it out or get a headstart on their Hugo reading: 2022 Hugo Voter Packet.
(4) A RIVERDALE UPDATE. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] BEWARE SPOILERS. Riverdale is currently under the control of Percival Pickens, an evil British person who became mayor with the aid of Betty’s mother, Alice Cooper. Pickens has decided he wants Archie and the gang to return overdue library books, and if the characters don’t return an exact copy of the book they checked out decades ago they will have to pay thousands of dollars in fines and possibly serve prison time. He asks all of the characters to give him something personal as collateral–Archie’s guitar, Betty’s diary. Jughead offers to give up his signed copy of Don DeLillo’s Underworld, but instead gives a copy of a book written by his grandfather.
Pickens is a sorcerer who uses these personal treasures as tools to control Archie and his friends. Luckily Jughead uses his internet skills, and fans of Manhattan’s Strand Bookstore will find the Strand is namechecked here. Jughead finds copies of the overdue books, and Pickens returns the items. Cheryl Blossom says the only way to break the spell is for everyone to throw the possessed items in a fire and burn them.
Jughead doesn’t want to burn his grandfather’s book. “It’s a book and I won’t burn it,” he says. “What would Ray Bradbury say?”
(5) MERRIL COLLECTION PODCAST. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The new season of the Unknown Worlds of the Merril Collection podcast kicks off with host Oliver Brackenbury discussing sword and sorcery with Brian Murphy: “Sword & Sorcery”.
Upcoming subjects on the Unknown Worlds of the Merril Collection podcast are:
Folklore and the Four Winds Storytellers Library
New episodes drop every two weeks.
(6) LAUNCHING A MAGAZINE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] On his personal podcast So I’m Writing a Novel, Oliver Brackenbury interviews Nat Webb, who just started a new fantasy magazine: “Founding a Literary Magazine, with Nat Webb”.
Returning champion Nat Webb joins us to discuss his recent founding of a literary magazine, Wyngraf!
Their discussion covers alternate titles for the magazine, defining cozy fantasy & backpack fantasy, conflict in stories and other things that can drive story, writing delicious food scenes, the cozy fantasy scene on Reddit and elsewhere, getting into short stories, his first submission and rejection and what he learned from it all, self-publishing a novel, discovering a love for the technical side of publishing, taking submissions in for the first time, putting one of your own stories in your own magazine, being transparent about the numbers behind your business, paying forward all the writing advice you’ve been given, working with an artist on a cover commission, choosing to pay authors and how much, deciding how often to release new issues, the importance of actually finishing a project, knowing when to stop with a project, Legends and Lattes and other reading recs, refreshing sincerity vs ironic distance, “coffee shop AU” explained, “numbies” explained, how sometimes the thing you bang out quickly resonates with people far more than the thing you slaved over forever, ins and outs of the Kindle Select program, the merits of publishing flash fiction, and more!
(7) JEWISH HERITAGE IN HORROR. The Horror Writers Association blog has posted two more Q&As in one of its thematic interview series:
What has writing taught you about how to express your Jewishness or the experiences you’ve had as someone who is Jewish?
I have been writing about stories for as long as I can remember. As a student, I took many courses analyzing literature, and one thing that always came up was applying a “Jesus” lens to stories. As a kid who grew up in the Jewish tradition, spending 2 days a week at Hebrew school, and having most of my family’s social life revolve around the synagogue, I had to teach myself about Jesus in order to keep up in these classes and add to the discussion. Interestingly, I never thought of this as problematic; it was just the way things had to be, I thought. This is a common issue for those with marginalized identities; systemic oppression means we must conform, and yet we don’t question that we have to.
Do you make a conscious effort to include Jewish characters and themes in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
The book I wrote immediately after Bird Box is called Bring Me the Map, and with that one I was thinking in terms of “Jewish horror story.” I was thinking lofty then, that I might write the essential Jewish horror novel, as The Exorcist seems to be that for Catholics. But the book changed organically as it went, and became less about Judaism and more about this family affair, but still, Jewish characters, all. And one of my more recent books, Forever Since Breakfast, is absolutely Jewish-centric. I’m hoping both these books come out soon. And, yes, it was a conscious effort to highlight Jewish characters in both. No doubt. And it felt good to do so. I should probably examine what that means and do it more often.
(8) DELANY IN NYT. [Item by Steven Johnson.] “Samuel R. Delany’s Life in Books” is a feature/interview on Samuel Delany in the New York Times T Magazine, April 24. The quote I liked best: “My library makes me comfortable.” And I do not recall the anecdote about reading Bob Kane Batman comics at a critical age.
…Mr. Pérez was also at the helm of the 1986 reboot of Wonder Woman, which presented the character, who had originally appeared in 1941, as a new superheroine. His version was younger, and he leaned into the Greek mythology rooted in her origin story.
“Wonder Woman had to rise or fall based on me,” Mr. Pérez said in a telephone interview in December. “It was a great success that gave me an incredible sense of fulfillment.”
His editor on the series, Karen Berger, said in an email, “What set George apart on Wonder Woman was that he really approached the character from a woman’s perspective — I found her relatable and authentic.” Patty Jenkins, the director of the “Wonder Woman” films, cited this version of the character as an influence…
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1973 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-nine years ago, Soylent Green was in general distribution in the States. (It had premieres earlier in LA and NYC, respectively, on April 18th and April 19th.)
The film was directed by Richard Fleischer who had previously directed Fantastic Voyage and Doctor Doolittle, and, yes, the latter is genre. Rather loosely based off of Harry Harrison’s Make Room! Make Room! Novel, it starred Joseph Cotten, Chuck Connors, Charlton Heston, Brock Peters, Edward G. Robinson in his final film role, and Leigh Taylor-Young.
The term soylent green is not in the novel though the term soylent steaks is. The title of the novel wasn’t used according to the studio on the grounds that it might have confused audiences into thinking it a big-screen version of Make Room for Daddy. Huh? It’s worth noting that Harrison was not involved at all in the film and indeed was was contractually denied control over the screenplay.
So how was reception at the time? Definitely mixed though Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Tribune liked it: “Richard Fleischer’s ‘Soylent Green’ is a good, solid science-fiction movie, and a little more. It tells the story of New York in the year 2022, when the population has swollen to an unbelievable 80 million, and people live in the streets and line up for their rations of water and Soylent Green.”
Other were less kind. A.H. Weiler of the New York Times summed it up this way: “We won’t reveal that ingredient but it must be noted that Richard Fleischer’s direction stresses action, not nuances of meaning or characterization. Mr. Robinson is pitiably natural as the realistic, sensitive oldster facing the futility of living in dying surroundings. But Mr. Heston is simply a rough cop chasing standard bad guys. Their 21st-century New York occasionally is frightening but it is rarely convincingly real.“
Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a sixty percent rating. It was nominated for a Hugo at DisCon II, the year Sleeper won.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 9, 1920 — William Tenn. Clute says in ESF that “From the first, Tenn was one of the genre’s very few genuinely comic, genuinely incisive writers of short fiction, sharper and more mature than Fredric Brown and less self-indulgent in his Satirical take on the modern world than Robert Sheckley.” That pretty sums him up I think. All of his fiction is collected in two volumes from NESFA Press, Immodest Proposals: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume I and Here Comes Civilization: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume II. He’s very, very well stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 2010.)
Born May 9, 1920 — Richard Adams. I really loved Watership Down when I read it long ago so will not read it again so the Suck Fairy may not visit it. Are any of the various Watership animated affairs worth seeing? Reasonably sure I’ve read Shardik once but it made no impression one way or the the other. I have heard good things about Tales from Watership Down and should add it my TBR pile. (Died 2016.)
Born May 9, 1925 — Kris Ottman Neville. His most famous work, the novella Bettyann, is considered a classic of science fiction by no less than Barry Malzberg who wrote a detailed remembrance in Locus. He wrote four novels according to ISFDB over a rather short period of a decade and a number of short story stories over a longer period. Clute at EoSF says that “He was one of the potentially major writers of Genre SF who never came to speak in his full voice.” (Died 1980.)
Born May 9, 1926 — Richard Cowper. The Whit Bird of Kinship series is what he’s best remembered for and I’d certainly recommend it as being worth reading. It appears that all of here are available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 2002.)
Born May 9, 1936 — Albert Finney. His first genre performance is as Ebenezer Scrooge in Scrooge. That’s followed by being Dewey Wilson in Wolfen, a really deeply disturbing film. He plays Edward Bloom, Sr. In the wonderful Big Fish and voices Finis Everglot in Corpse Bride. He was Kincade in Skyfall. He was Maurice Allington in The Green Man based on Kingsley Amis’ novel of the same name. A deeply strange affair. Oh, and he played Prince Hamlet in Hamlet at the Royal National Theatre way back in the Seventies! (Died 2019.)
Born May 9, 1951 — Geoff Ryman, 71. His first novel, The Unconquered Country, was winner of the World Fantasy Award and British Science Fiction Association Award. I’m really intrigued that The King’s Last Song is set during the Angkor Wat era and the time after Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, grim times indeed for an SF novel. And let’s not overlook that The Child Garden which bears the variant title of The Child Garden or A Low Comedy would win the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best SF Novel.
Born May 9, 1979 — Rosario Dawson, 43. First shows as Laura Vasquez in MiB II. Appearances thereafter are myriad with my faves including being the voice of Wonder Woman in the DC animated films, Persephone in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and her take as Claire Temple across the entire Netflix Marvel universe. She played Ahsoka Tano on The Book of Boba Fett on Disney + in “From the Desert Comes a Stranger” which has led to her being the lead in upcoming Ahsoka Tano series on the same streaming service. (Editorial comment: I wish I liked the Star Wars universe well enough to subscribe to Disney + to see all of this stuff but I really don’t.)
… The initial response to The Fifth Element, which celebrates its 25th anniversary on May 7th, was divisive. It was recognized just as much at Cannes and the Oscars as it was the Razzies. Even those who appeared in its gleefully insane world have contrasting opinions, with Milla Jovovich hailing it as “one of the last hurrahs of epic filmmaking” and Gary Oldman admitting he “can’t bear it” and only signed up for the paycheck….
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In which SNL host Benedict Cumberbatch discovers the multiverse is real. At least in TV Land. “The Understudy”.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Steve Johnson, Cat Rambo, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]
…When aggregate storytelling is done unofficially, we call it “transformative work,” of which fan fiction is a major part.
An especially intriguing example of modern-day aggregate storytelling — from both an official and unofficial standpoint — is the TV show Supernatural, about two monster-hunting brothers and the found-family they make along the way. The show has enjoyed a voracious fanbase, which kept the series alive for fifteen seasons and spawned thousands and thousands of fan works (as of this writing, there are 243,690 entries related to Supernatural on Archive of Our Own alone. This is to say nothing of Tumblr, Twitter, etc.).
Starting with the season four episode “The Monster at the End of this Book,” the show began engaging with fan reactions through self-referential stories. Sam and Dean literally read fan fiction about themselves on screen, and the characters used vernacular created by the Supernatural fanbase throughout.
The fans didn’t simply consume the story. They changed the way the story was told. It would be difficult to argue that the author(s) should be considered as good as dead in terms of critical consideration when the author(s) were still actively creating in tandem with the audience’s reception…
Escape Pod is pleased to announce a new special project for 2021: Black Future Month, a month-long celebration of Black voices in science fiction, guest edited by Brent Lambert of FIYAH Magazine. Episodes will air in the month of October and feature two original works of short fiction as well as two reprints.
NOTE: For this special event, we are only accepting submission from authors of the African diaspora and the African continent. This is an intersectional definition of Blackness, and we strongly encourage submissions from women, members of the LGBTQIA community, and members from other underrepresented communities within the African diaspora.
Pay rate, format, and content will follow Escape Pod’s regular guidelines, with two exceptions:
Manuscripts do not need to be anonymized for this submissions portal.
Stories must be between 1,500 – 5,000 words.
(3) SFF POSTAGE STAMPS COMING. The UK’s Royal Mail has announced that on March 16 the Legend of King Arthur stamps will be released. This set will be followed by an April 15 issue celebrating classic science fiction. As of today, no images from either set have been posted. Norvic Philatelics speculates what might be commemorated in the Classic Science Fiction set:
This issue consists of pairs of 1st class, £1.70 and £2.55 stamps – with the usual additions of a presentation pack first day cover, and postcards.
Some research reveals that this is the 75th anniversary of the death of the author H G Wells, and the 70th anniversary of the publication of John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids”, so it seems likely that one of Wells’ books will feature on one stamp and Wyndham’s will appear on another.
(4) GOODBYE, MR. CHIP. The trailer dropped for HBO Max’s Made for Love. It’s sf, right? At least for another few minutes.
The classic story of boy meets girl, boy implants high-tech surveillance chip in girl’s brain… Featuring Cristin Milioti, Ray Romano, Noma Dumezweni, and Billy Magnussen, Made for Love is coming to HBO Max this April.
…. Before I dive deep into Willis’s construction of parallel characters, I want to speak more generally about the potential for parallels — echoes — inside a book, when that book takes place in multiple timelines. Many books do take place in more than one timeline, of course, whether or not they involve time travel! And there’s so much you can do with that kind of structure. As you can imagine, life in Oxfordshire in 1348 is dramatically different from life in Oxford in 2054. But Willis weaves so many parallels into these two stories, big and small things, connecting them deftly, and showing us that some things never really change. I suppose the most obvious parallel in this particular book is the rise of disease. The less obvious is some of the fallout that follows the rise of disease, no matter the era: denial; fanaticism; racism and other prejudices; isolationism; depression and despair; depletion of supplies (yes, they are running out of toilet paper in 2054). She also sets these timelines in the same physical location, the Oxfords and Oxfordshires of 1348 and 2054 — the same towns, the same churches. Some of the physical objects from 1348 still exist in 2054. She sets both stories at Christmas, and we see that some of the traditions are the same. She also weaves the most beautiful web between timelines using bells, bellringers, and the significance of the sound of bells tolling.
Simply by creating two timelines, then establishing that some objects, structures, and activities are the same and that some human behaviors are the same across the timelines, she can go on and tell two divergent plots, yet create echoes between them. These echoes give the book an internal resonance….
Lisa and I have been getting increasingly antsy and wanting to get out of the house and go see things, but with no sign of a vaccine being available for us mere under-65s, we wanted something that would be away from other people and was close enough to be able to get back home the same day. So we decided to go see the site of the atomic test in our backyard….
I know it’s unlikely that anyone else will come visit this spot, but if somehow your travels take you across “The Loneliest Road,” you might consider a relatively short side trip to one of the few atomic bomb test sites you can visit on your own.
(7) FREE HWA ONLINE PANEL. The Horror Writers Association will present a free Zoom webinar, “Skeleton Hour 7: Writing Horror in a Post-Covid World” on Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 6 p.m. Pacific. Panelists will include: Richard Thomas (moderator), Sarah Langan, Usman T. Malik, Josh Malerman, A.C. Wise, and Lucy A. Snyder. Register here.
The Krakau found an Earth that has been overrun by the bestial survivors of a planetary plague. Still, better half a glass than an empty glass. The benevolent aliens retrieved suitable candidates from the raving hordes and applied suitable cognitive corrective measures. Lo and behold, humans were transformed from wandering monsters to trustworthy subordinates. Although perhaps not all that trustworthy. Humans are relegated to menial tasks.
Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos is in charge of Earth Mercenary Corps Ship Pufferfish’s Shipboard Hygiene and Sanitation team. Chief janitor, in other words. Not command crew. Except that an unexpected attack eliminates her Krakau commanders while most of Pufferfish’s humans revert into beasts. Mops has no choice but to take command of a ship neither she nor the remaining non-bestial humans know how to operate.
Tell, don’t show. Dump your information. Write in second person. Write in passive voice. Use adverbs. To heck with suspense. Rules mark what’s difficult, not what’s impossible. There’s a whole range of exciting storytelling possibilities beyond them. Not every story needs to be in second person, but when it’s the right voice for the right story, it can be magic. The right information dump, written perfectly, can become a dazzling gymnastic feat of beauty, fascination, or humor. “Break the Rules” will teach you inspirations and techniques for rowing upstream of common knowledge. You can break any rule–if you do it right.
Join award-winning speculative fiction writer Rachel Swirsky for a workshop in which she teaches you how and why to break the rules. Next class date: Sunday, April 4, 2021, 1:00-3:00 PM Pacific Time.
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
March 8, 1978 — The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was first broadcast forty-three years ago today on BBC Radio 4. It was written by Douglas Adams with some material in the first series provided by John Lloyd. It starred Simon Jones, Geoffrey McGivern, Mark Wing-Davey. Susan Sheridan and Stephen Moore. It was the only radio show ever to be nominated for a Hugo in the ‘Best Dramatic Presentation’ category finishing second that year to Superman at Seacon ‘79. It would spawn theater shows, novels, comic books, a TV series, a video game, and a feature film.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born March 8, 1859 — Kenneth Grahame. Author of The Wind in the Willows 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 the stage 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.) (CE)
Born March 8, 1899 – Eric Linklater. The Wind on the Moon reached the Retro-Hugo ballot; it won the Carnegie Medal. Three more novels, nine shorter stories for us; two dozen novels all told, ten plays, three volumes of stories, two of poetry, three of memoirs, two dozen of essays & history. Served in both World Wars. Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. (Died 1974) [JH]
Born March 8, 1922 – John Burke. Co-edited The Satellite and Moonshine (not Len Moffatt’s fanzine, another one). A score of books including novelizations of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (okay, call it adjacent), fourscore shorter stories, for us; a hundred fifty novels all told. Correspondent of The Fantast, Zenith, and at the end Relapse, which I wish Sir Peter Weston hadn’t retitled from Prolapse, but what do I know? (Died 2011) [JH]
Born March 8, 1928 — Kate Wilhelm. Author of the Hugo–winning Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. She also won a Hugo for Best Related Book and a Locus Award for Best Nonfiction for Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. SFWA renamed their Solstice Award the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. She established the Clarion Workshop with her husband Damon Knight and writer Robin Scott Wilson. (Died 2018,) (CE)
Born March 8, 1932 – Jim Webbert, age 89. Among our better auctioneers – we raise money that way, few would pay what con memberships really cost. Collector of books, other art, model rockets. HO model railroader. Chemist. Three decades in the Army Reserve, often teaching. Often seen at LepreCon. Fan Guest of Honor at TusCon 1, CopperCon 9, Con/Fusion, Kubla Khan 20 (all with wife Doreen). [JH]
Born March 8, 1934 — Kurt Mahr. One of the first writers of the Perry Rhodan series, considered the largest SF series of the world. He also edited a Perry Rhodan magazine, wrote Perry Rhodan chapbooks and yes, wrote many, many short stories about Perry Rhodan. He did write several other SF series. Ok, what’s the appeal of Perry Rhodan? He runs through SF as a genre but I’ve not read anything concerning him. (Died 1993.) (CE)
Born March 8, 1939 — Peter Nicholls. Writer and editor. Creator and co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction with John Clute which won a Hugo twice. He won another Hugo for the Science Fiction Encyclopedia. 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 United Kingdom based Science Fiction Foundation. He was editor of its journal, Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction, from 1974 to 1978. (Died 2018.) (CE)
Born March 8, 1973 – Daniel Griffo, age 48. Lives in La Plata (a Silver Age artist?), Argentina, with wife, son, and two pets named Indiana and Jones. I am not making this up. Comics, lettering, 3-dimensional activity books, My Visit to the Acupuncturist (I’m not; why shouldn’t there be a children’s book about that?), two about Dragon Masters – here’s one of them, Future of the Time Dragon. Website. [JH]
Born March 8, 1976 — Freddie Prinze Jr., 45. 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. (CE)
Born March 8, 1978 – Samanta Schweblin, age 43. Another Argentine, this one living in Berlin, writing in Spanish. Two novels, two shorter stories for us; three collections. Casa de las Americas Award. Juan Rulfo Prize. Tigre Juan Award, Shirley Jackson Award for Distancia de rescate, in English Fever Dream. [JH]
(12) COMICS SECTION.
The Far Side reveals the tragic conclusion of a nursery rhyme.
(14) ON BOARD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the March 3 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber looks at the appeal of board games during the pandemic.
For those who fancy themselves not Victorian engineers or colonial settlers but fantasy warriors and space explorers, games such as Twilight Imperium and Terraforming Mars hold more appeal. You can learn the rules of most within an hour or two, but there are some more elaborate offerings such as dungeon crawler Gloomhaven, which weighs 10kg and currently sits at the top of the ratings on the authoritative site BoardGameGeek. Games have grown in beauty as well as sophistication–see Wingspan, with its 180 gorgeous bird illustrations and pleasing tokens in the shape of pastel-shaded eggs.
As the games themselves have become more desirable, board game cafes such as Draughts in London and Snakes and Lattes in Toronto have sprung up and help legitimise board gaming, At the same time, the internet has facilitated the discovery of new games and willing opponents, as well as enabling the rising trend of board game crowdfunding–Frosthaven, the followup to Gloomhaven, raised almost $13m on Kickstarter.”
After having endured the horrors of Oklahoma and Kentucky, I’ve decided that I should announce my mask policy. I’m not a head of state or a governor, I’m just a guy, so there is no way to enforce my preferences on the world— except, of course, by way of sarcasm and mockery.
Just remember that I’m the guy that came up with several rules for living, including Williams’ First Law: Assholes Always Advertise.
So here goes:
While there is very little scientific data about how effective mask use is in preventing COVID, the wearing of masks in public is (at the very least) a courtesy to others, particularly those most vulnerable to the disease.
So if you’re in public and not wearing a mask, I’m not going to assume that you’re a brave iconoclastic thinker challenging accepted dogma, I’m going to assume that you are a complete asshole. And not only are you an asshole, you’re advertising yourself as such.
…On the positive side, I love the concept of the alien spaceship disintegrating as it enters the solar system. I’m frankly fascinated by the backstory of that, which sadly, in episode one at least, the series shows no signs of exploring, versus the “what does each piece of debris do this week” storytelling. I liked the way the program began, with the tiny shard of debris transporting an unfortunate maid from high up in a hotel to her death in the dining room, without marring any of the ceilings or floors she falls through. Grabbed my attention!
But there was very little about the alien technology or curiosity on anyone’s part about the aliens themselves or what destroyed the ship. No discussion about whether the debris is actually some kind of invasion or what might happen next. No one here seems to care if there was an FTL drive to be had. I frankly wished this was a series about going to explore what’s left of the hulk in space, rather than these cut and dried, solved in an hour individual cases….
(17) A LITTLE LIST. At the Hugo Book Club Blog, Olav Rokne has compiled a list of “Screen adaptations of Hugo-shortlisted works”. There are 47 so far. (The list excludes Retro Hugo awards as well as all Graphic Novels and comic book adaptations.)
The scrutiny also prompted some public libraries to review their Dr. Seuss collections.
A group of librarians across Toronto Public Library’s system will evaluate the titles in question and issue recommendations, according to a spokeswoman.
“Occasionally, children’s books written some time ago are brought to our attention for review,” Ana-Maria Critchley said in an email.
“If the review determines there are racial and cultural representation concerns the committee will recommend to either withdraw the book from our library collections or move the book from children’s collections to another location, such as a reference collection for use by researchers.”
The Vancouver Public Library is also launching reviews of each of the six Dr. Seuss titles.
Scott Fraser, manager of marketing and communications, said this process is usually initiated by a request from a patron, but the library made an exception given the “extremely unusual” decision by a rights holder to suspend publication.
Copies of the books will remain on the shelves while the review is underway, Fraser said, and officials will then decide whether to keep a title in the collection, change its classification or remove it from the stacks.
Vancouver Public Library previously reviewed “If I Ran the Zoo” in 2014 in response to a complaint about stereotypical depictions of Asians. A caption in the book describes three characters as “helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant.”
The library decided to keep the book on the shelves, but stop reading it at storytime, and only promote it as an example of how cultural depictions have changed….
…Prior to this discovery, Zhang and his research group had been pondering the possible existence of space hurricanes for years. The team’s research focus lies in the interactions between the ionosphere, an atmospheric layer that extends some 50 to 600 miles above Earth’s surface, and the magnetosphere, the region shaped by our planet’s protective magnetic field. At the poles, these interactions generate the magical and dazzling auroras that are popularly known as the Northern and Southern Lights.
Tropical hurricanes are driven in part by the movements of heavy air masses that generate strong winds; Zhang and his colleagues suspected a similar mechanism might be at work in the outer space environment close to Earth. In the case of space hurricanes, the solar wind, a stream of charged particles that flows from the Sun, slams into Earth’s upper atmosphere and transfers its energy into the ionosphere, driving the cyclone formation.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “WandaVision Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that Marvel fans will be frustrated by the slow drip of revelations about how WandaVision connects to the MCU that they’ll become really frustrated by the phrase “Please Stand By.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]
There’s still time to host a fan table or fan party at the first ever Virtual Worldcon, and we encourage you to apply- but don’t delay, as the registration deadline is 15th July at midnight NZT. This is to give our tech team time to make the plans they need to.
Fan tables will happen on Discord, and fan parties will be hosted via Zoom.
… The theme that has emerged from the Hugo-voter’s collective intelligence this year is fan writers as connections between worlds. The most apparent aspect of that in James’s work is his Young People Read Old SFF project (http://youngpeoplereadoldsff.com/) which puts classic science fiction stories in front of young people (or sometimes current science fiction in front of old people). As a project it is a fascinating example of how ‘fan writing’ exceed simple definition. The posts show how reading is a conversation with texts and with others reading those texts. James’s role is to facilitate the process but by doing so the whole project turns the process of review into a deeper form of literary criticism.
(3) VIRTUAL MILEHICON. Denver’s MileHiCon 52 has joined the ranks of virtual conventions.
Because we are going Virtual, we will not be able to provide all of the types of programs that we have had in the past. The art show, vendors room, and Authors Row will be available but in a totally different format. Panel discussions, presentations, readings and demonstrations will still be offered. There may also be some totally new types of programming. We will be announcing more information about the program schedule at later dates. Scroll down form more information.
(4) DIVE, DIVE! In “Subplots: What Are They Good For?” Kay Kenyon and Cat Rambo discuss subplots and how to use them. Kenyon will be teaching the “Mapping the Labyrinth: Plotting Your Novel” class on August 2 online at the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers. Registration and scholarship info at the link.
An outline is one of your best tools for writing a novel, but how do you figure what happens, when, where, and to whom? How do you deal with plots when they go astray and how do you weave multiple plotlines together? With series, what can you leave for future books — and how do you set events up for those books?
… For most of “Starship Troopers,” humanity, in every possible facet, gets its ass kicked. A culture that reveres and communicates exclusively through violence—a culture very much like one that responds to peaceful protests with indiscriminate police brutality, or whose pandemic strategy is to “dominate” an unreasoning virus—keeps running up against its own self-imposed limitations. Once again, the present has caught up to Verhoeven’s acid vision of the future. It’s not a realization that anyone in the film can articulate, or seemingly even process, but the failure is plain: their society has left itself a single solution to every problem, and it doesn’t work….
…But the best monsters in the book aren’t human but rather the megasized fauna of Hella (an old South Park joke carried to its logical conclusion, much like Niven’s Mt. Lookitthat). This is the most joyous part of the story, really evocative of the grand old space opera traditions.
But it also explores territory that, if not exactly new to science fiction, certainly isn’t commonplace, either….
(7) DANIELS OBIT. [Item by Danny Sichel.] Country singer Charlie Daniels — who wrote “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”, which one could very easily argue is a fantasy short story — has died at the age of 83.
There’s also an argument to be made that, golden fiddle or no, Jonny lost his soul the second he agreed to participate in the contest.
…Mr. Morricone scored many popular films of the past 40 years: Édouard Molinaro’s “La Cage aux Folles” (1978), Mr. Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982), Mr. De Palma’s “The Untouchables” (1987), Roman Polanski’s “Frantic” (1988), Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Cinema Paradiso” (1988), Wolfgang Petersen’s “In the Line of Fire” (1993), and Mr. Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” (2015).
In 2016, Mr. Morricone won his first competitive Academy Award for his score for “The Hateful Eight,” an American western mystery thriller for which he also won a Golden Globe. In a career showered with honors, he had previously won an Oscar for lifetime achievement (2007) and was nominated for five other Academy Awards, and had won two Golden Globes, four Grammys and dozens of international awards.
(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
July 1976 — Gordon R. Dickson’s The Dragon and the George was published by the Science Fiction Book Club. It originally appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, the September 1957 issue, as the novella “St. Dragon and the George”. It would be the first in a series that would eventually reach nine titles. The Dragon and the George would win the BFA George August Derleth Fantasy Award, and was loosely adapted into the 1982 animated The Flight of Dragons, a Rankin/Bass production.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 6, 1755 – John Flaxman. Sculptor and draftsman (he wrote draughtsman); began by working for Wedgwood. We can claim his illustrations of Homer, Hesiod, Aeschylus, Dante; some of his sculpture. For our purposes we needn’t care whether angels, or the Greek gods, exist or in what sense: portrayal of them by human beings is fantastic. Here is Homer invoking the Muse. Here is Sleep escaping from the wrath of Jupiter (I wish JF had said Zeus, but he didn’t). Here is Apollo with four Muses. Here is the Archangel Michael overpowering Satan. (Died 1826) [JH]
Born July 6, 1916 — Donald R. Christensen. Animator, cartoonist, illustrator, writer. He worked briefly at Warner Bros. studio, primarily as a storyboard artist for Bob Clampett’s animation unit. After that, he worked for Dell, Gold Key and Western Publishing comic books, as well as Hanna Barbera, Walter Lantz Productions and other cartoon studios. He wrote and provided illustrations for such comic book titles as Magnus, Robot Fighter, Donald Duck, and Uncle Scrooge. (Died 2006.) (CE)
Born July 6, 1927 – Rick Sneary. We liked what we thought his idiosyncratic spelling, and preserved it; few knew, few imagined, he was largely self-taught and wished we’d correct it. One of his fanzines was Gripes & Growns – see? President of the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n), chaired its board of directors; President of FAPA (Fantasy Amateur Press Ass’n) – by mail. Locally, co-founded the Petards, who took turns as Hoist; the Outlanders, who could not always attend LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) meetings. Living in South Gate, he did much for the South Gate in ’58 Worldcon bid; it won; physically it had to be in Los Angeles, but by proclamation of both mayors was technically in South Gate; at the end he carried a sign “South Gate Again in 2010”; this came to pass, see File 770 153 p. 20 (PDF). He won the LASFS Evans-Freehafer service award, wretched health and all. Afterward June & Len Moffatt and I co-edited the memorial fanzine Button-Tack. His name rhymed with very. (Died 1990) [JH]
Born July 6, 1935 – Ditmar, 85. Full name Martin James Ditmar Jenssen. Outstanding and distinctive fanartist, most often seen on covers of Bruce Gillespie zines because BG has the tech to do him justice; see here (The Metaphysical Review), here (Scratch Pad), here (SF Commentary). Others too, like this (PDF). The Australian SF Awards are named Ditmars after him. Won the Rotsler Award. [JH]
Born July 6, 1945 – Rodney Matthews, 75. Illustrator and conceptual designer, famous for record album covers (130 of them), calendars, jigsaw puzzles, snowboards, T-shirts. Lavender Castle, a children’s animation series. Computer games. Lyrics and drums for a Christmas CD. A Michael Moorcock calendar and two of his own. Two RM Portfolios. Five dozen book & magazine covers, six dozen interiors: here is one for Vortex; here is Rocannon’s World (in Serbo-Croatian); here is his vision of Alice in Wonderland. [JH]
Born July 6, 1945 — Burt Ward, 75. Robin in that Batman series. He reprise the role in voicing the character in The New Adventures of Batman and Legends of the Superheroes , and two recent films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. The latter are the last work done by Adam West before his death. (CE)
Born July 6, 1951 — Rick Sternbach, 69. Best-known for his work in the Trek verse starting with ST: TMP where he designed control panel layouts and signage for the Enterprise. He’s next hired for Next Gen where communicator badge, phasers, PADDs and tricorders are all based on his designs. These designs will also be used on DS9 and Voyager. He also pretty much designed every starship during that time from the Cardassian and Klingon to the Voyager itself. He would win the Best Professional Artist Hugo at SunCon and IguanaCon II. (CE)
Born July 6, 1946 — Sylvester Stallone, 74. Although I think Stallone made a far-less-than-perfect Dredd, I think the look and feel of the first film was spot which was something the second film, which had a perfect Dredd in Karl Urban, utterly lacked. And Demolition Man and him as Sergeant John Spartan were just perfect. (CE)
Born July 6, 1966 – Beth Harbison, 54. Writes fiction and cookbooks; twoscore all told. Shoe Addicts Anonymous was a New York Times Best-Seller. If I Could Turn Back Time and Every Time You Go Away are ours. The title Met the Wrong Man, Gave Him the Wrong Finger should give us all, as the French say, furiously to think. [JH]
Born July 6, 1978 – Tamera & Tia Mowry, 42. Identical twins. Together four Twintuition novels for us; two television shows, Sister, Sister (both women won the NAACP Image Award, three Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, Nickelodeon Hall of Fame) and Tia & Tamera. Tamera, the elder (two minutes apart), won a Daytime Emmy and two NAACP Image Awards as a talk-show host on The Real; two films and two dozen other TV shows. Tia has done eight films, thirty other TV shows; is the head coach of the Entertainment Basketball League celebrity team. [JH]
Born July 6, 1980 — Eva Green, 40. First crosses our paths in Casino Royale as Vesper Lynd followed by Serafina Pekkala in The Golden Compass, and then Angelique Bouchard Collins in Dark Shadows. Ava Lord in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (weird films those definitely are) with a decided move sideways into being Miss Alma Peregrine for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. And she was Colette Marchant in Dumbo. She’s got two series roles to her credit, Morgan Pendragon in Camelot and Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful. (CE)
Conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, this study (n = 310) tested whether past and current engagement with thematically relevant media fictions, including horror and pandemic films, was associated with greater preparedness for and psychological resilience toward the pandemic. Since morbid curiosity has previously been associated with horror
At a number of Worldcons and other science fiction conventions, John Hertz has organized a discussion of science fiction classics.
By his definition, “A classic is a story which survives its time which, after the currents change which might have buoyed it, is seen to be valuable in itself.” He explicitly is not interested in the idea of a classic as needing to be either influential or popular. To be fair that definition may not be his personal definition, but it was the guiding principle for the discussion at sasquan in 2015.
This list is for the books that were discussed at Worldcons and other science fiction conventions as picked by John Hertz. If a book that is from that list is missing on this one, please add it. Otherwise books that can’t be substantiated as being part of that process will be removed
…Equitable casting “is being demanded to the point where people are giving up their jobs they’ve had for 20 years,” Baker says. “In a sense, I think it’s a great thing to have opportunity for diversity to come into place and be the norm. Why? Because it reflects the world. The world isn’t just one-sided.”
Baker co-founded the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences as a means of training, mentoring and advocating for her peers. Diversity and inclusion, mentioned in the organization’s mission statement, are central to what Baker refers to as her “journey of a lifetime.” White people continue to run the industry, she says. It’s always been cost-effective to hire actors like Mel Blanc, nicknamed “The Man of a Thousand Voices,” to play multiple characters. The overarching goal isn’t to take away from these talented white actors, but to ensure that equally equipped people of color have a substantial “piece of the pie.”
…Rest assured that, no, Big Boy has not done anything wrong, or been canceled for bad behavior. Rather, the switch to a female face is a pre-planned promotional move tied to an on-trend new menu item.
“We are rolling out a brand-new chicken sandwich,” Frank Alessandrini, Big Boy’s director of training, said according to Michigan’s WOOD TV, based in the company’s home state. “Dolly has been with Big Boy since as far as we can go back with our comic books […] we decided that she’s going to be the star of this sandwich as Big Boy was the star of his double decker sandwich.”
What happens when an African grey parrot goes head-to-head with 21 Harvard students in a test measuring a type of visual memory? Put simply: The parrot moves to the head of the class.
Harvard researchers compared how 21 human adults and 21 6- to 8-year-old children stacked up against an African grey parrot named Griffin in a complex version of the classic shell game.
It worked like this: Tiny colored pom-poms were covered with cups and then shuffled, so participants had to track which object was under which cup. The experimenter then showed them a pom-pom that matched one of the same color hidden under one of the cups and asked them to point at the cup. (Griffin, of course, used his beak to point.) The participants were tested on tracking two, three, and four different-colored pom-poms. The position of the cups were swapped zero to four times for each of those combinations. Griffin and the students did 120 trials; the children did 36.
The game tests the brain’s ability to retain memory of items that are no longer in view, and then updating when faced with new information, like a change in location. This cognitive system is known as visual working memory and is the one of the foundations for intelligent behavior.
So how did the parrot fare? Griffin outperformed the 6- to 8-year-olds across all levels on average, and he performed either as well as or slightly better than the 21 Harvard undergraduates on 12 of the 14 of trial types.
That’s not bad at all for a so-called bird brain.
(18) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. Uh, yeah, that sounds logical.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. On the off chance that you have 22 minutes to spare, you might also appreciate the opportunity to see excerpts from a 1977 interview with Philip K. Dick in Metz, France.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Danny SIchel, Todd Mason, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]
NOMINATIONS OPEN. Nominations
for the 2020 Australian SF (“Ditmar”) awards are open until one minute before
midnight Perth time on Sunday, March 1, 2020 (ie. 11.59 p.m., GMT+8). The
current rules, including Award categories can be found at: here.
…Despite receiving zero nominations at the 92nd Academy Awards, the Peele-directed horror flick also managed to win big elsewhere this awards season. Peele won Best Director at this summer’s Saturn Awards while Nyong’o won Best Actress with the Hollywood Critics Association and more. As a whole, the movie’s biggest award came during the Critics’ Choice Awards, where it won Best Sci-fi/Horror movie.
John Romita Sr.Amazing Spider-Man#51 Cover Kingpin Original Art (Marvel, 1967). One of the finest Amazing Spider-Man covers we have ever had! It was the Kingpin’s very first cover appearance, and it set the image of the character in many fan’s heads for decades to come….
(4) SEND THE TARDIS TO DUBLIN. Nicholas Whyte wishes Doctor
Who spent more time in Ireland – like any at all. He has written a rundown
on the Irishness of the TV show, book adaptations, audio dramas, and comics. You
might say there is more green in Tom Baker’s trademark scarf than the rest of
the show combined.
It is a sad fact that up to the present day (choosing my words *very* carefully here), not a single second of TV screen time on the show, or any of its spinoffs, has been set in Ireland. Indeed, hitherto the Doctor spent more televised time in Hungary than on the Emerald Isle (special prize if you know what story I am referring to). A couple of confused characters do wonder if Gallifrey, the home planet of the Time Lords, may be in Ireland, but that’s as close as we get.
However, the real life relationship between Doctor Who and Ireland is much stronger. Tenth Doctor David Tennant’s grandmother was from Northern Ireland – his grandfather was a professional footballer, whose record of 57 goals for Derry City in a single season still stands. Lalla Ward, who played the second incarnation of Romana and was briefly married to Fourth Doctor Tom Baker, is the daughter of the 7th Viscount Bangor; their family home was Castle Ward in County Down, better known to Game of Thrones fans as Winterfell.
And lucky kids in Belfast and Derry were thrilled one day in 1978 when the Fourth Doctor himself turned up at their school…
…The hack has to be done like an old video game cheat code. You need to make certain inputs by a certain time in order to bring “Chewie mode” online. Here is a video and written instruction from the FreshBaked YouTube Channel, which specializes in Disneyland tips and tricks:
Chalk this one up to fun scientific papers we inexplicably missed last year. A group of undergraduates at the University of Leicester in the UK calculated the growth rate of the fictional Star Trek critters known as tribbles. They published their results in a short paper in the university’s undergraduate-centric Journal of Physics Special Topics, estimating just how long it would take for there to be enough tribbles to fill up the USS Enterprise….
…Imagine a world hot enough to turn lead into a puddle, where the atmospheric pressure can crush a nuclear-powered submarine. Now imagine sending a rover to explore that world.
Venus, ancient sister of Earth with a planetary environment just this side of hellish, has been visited by a handful of probes since the early days of space flight. Of the many missions to our celestial neighbor, only about a dozen have made contact with the surface of the planet. The longest-lived landers only managed to function for a couple of hours before succumbing to the relentlessly oppressive heat and pressure.
… Current, state-of-the-art, military-grade electronics fail at approximately 125°C, so mission scientists at JPL have taken their design cues from a different source: automatons and clockwork operations. Powered by wind, the AREE mission concept is intended to spend months, not minutes, exploring the landscape of our sister world. Built of advanced alloys, AREE will be able to collect valuable long-term longitudinal scientific data utilizing both indirect and direct sensors.
As the rover explores the surface of Venus, collecting and relaying data to an orbiter overhead, it must also detect obstacles in its path like rocks, crevices, and steep terrain. To assist AREE on its groundbreaking mission concept, JPL needs an equally groundbreaking obstacle avoidance sensor, one that does not rely on vulnerable electronic systems. For that reason, JPL is turning to the global community of innovators and inventors to design this novel avoidance sensor for AREE. JPL is interested in all approaches, regardless of technical maturity.
This sensor will be the primary mechanism by which the potential rover would detect and navigates through dangerous situations during its operational life. By sensing obstacles such as rocks, crevices, and inclines, the rover would then navigate around the obstruction, enabling the rover to continue to explore the surface of Venus and collect more observational data.
February 23, 1935 — The Phantom Empire premiered. It was a Western serial film with elements of SF and musical theater as well. It was directed by Otto Brower and B. Reeves Eason. It starred the singing cowboy himself Gene Autry along with Frankie Darro and Betsy King Ross. In 1940, a feature film edited from the serial was released as either Radio Ranch or Men with Steel Faces. It was a box office success earning back its seventy-five thousand dollar budget. The very few audience members who gave it a rating at Rotten Tomatoes didn’t like it hence the 27% rating there. You can see the first chapter here.
February 23, 1954 — Rocky Jones, Space Ranger premiered. This was the first science fiction television show to be entirely pre-filmed (instead of being televised live as was the case with Captain Video, Buck Rogers and Tom Corbett.) It was also the first to use sets of unusual good quality, live location shoots, and rather decent special effects. Rocky Jones was played by Richard Crane. It was created by Roland D. Reed and written by Warren Wilson, Arthur Hoerl and Marianne Mosner, with Hollingsworth Morse being the director. It lasted but two seasons as it never really caught on with the public. Story wise, it actually had a great deal of continuity built into it, unlike almost all of the other series at the time. Its thirty-nine episodes, each twenty-five minutes in length, aired originally between February 23rd and November 16th, 1954. You can see the first episode here.
February 23, 1978 — Quark was slotted in on NBC as a mid-season replacement series. Yes, the pilot aired on May 7, 1977, so technically that it’s birthday but let’s skip past that please. It was created by Buck Henry, co-creator of Get Smart. The series starred Richard Benjamin, Tim Thomerson, Richard Kelton, Tricia Barnstable and Cyb Barnstable. It specialized in satirizing popular SF series and films — the Wiki article states that three episodes were based upon actualTrek episodes, though that can’t be confirmed. It lasted but eight episodes beating Space Rangers by two episodes in longevity. You can see the first episode here. here.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 23, 1564 — Christopher Marlowe. Author of Doctor Faustus (or The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus. Elizabeth Bear made him a character in her Stratford Man series which is Ink and Steel and Hell and Earth novels which I highly recommend. If you’ve not read them, the Green Man review is here. (Died 1593.)
Born February 23, 1915 — Jon Hall. Frank Raymond in Invisible Agent and The Invisible Man’s Revenge. He was also the creator and star of the Ramar of the Jungle series. And he directed and starred in The Beach Girls and the Monster and The Navy vs. the Night Monsters. (Died 1979.)
Born February 23, 1930 — Gerry Davis. Mid-Sixties story editor on Doctor Who where he created companion Jamie McCrimmon and co-created the Cybermen along with unofficial scientific adviser Dr. Kit Pedler. They would create the Doomwatch series that ran in the Sixties on BBC. Davis briefly returned to writing for the series, penning the first script for Revenge of the Cybermen, though his script was largely abandoned by editor Robert Holmes. In 1989 he and Terry Nation, who created the Daleks, made a failed bid to take over production of the series and reformat it for the American market. (Died 1991.)
Born February 23, 1932 — Majel Barrett. No doubt best remembered for being Nurse Christine Chapel and Lwaxana Troi as well as for being the voice of most of the ship computer interfaces throughout the series. I’ll note that she was originally cast as Number One in the unused Pilot but the male studio heads hated the idea of a female in that role. Early Puppies obviously. (Died 2008.)
Born February 23, 1965 — Jacob Weisman, 55. Founder, Tachyon Publications, which you really should go look at as they’ve published every great author I’d care to read. Seriously Tidhar, Beagle and Yolen are among their newest releases! He also edited (with Beagle) The New Voices of Fantasy which I highly recommend as most excellent reading.
Born February 23, 1983 — Emily Blunt, 37. Her most direct connection to the genre is as Elise Sellas in the Adjustment Bureau film based off Dick’s “Adjustment Team” story. Mind, she’s been in quite a number of other genre films including The Wolfman, Gulliver’s Travels, Gnomeo & Juliet, The Muppets, Looper, Edge of Tomorrow, Into the Woods, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, The Strange Case of Sherlock Holmes & Arthur Conan Doyle, and Mary Poppins Returns.
Born February 23, 2002 — Emilia Jones, 18. I’m reasonably sure this is the youngest Birthday individual that I’ve done. She shows up on Doctor Who as Merry Gejelh, The Queen of Years, in the “The Rings of Akhaten”, an Eleventh Doctor story. At nine years of age, she’s made her acting debut in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides as an unnamed English Girl. She’s Young Beth in the horror film Ghostland. She’s currently in Residue, an SF horror series you can find on Netflix.
(11) LEAP BEER. On February 29 Ology
Brewing Company in Tallahassee, Florida will combine the debut of their Tropical
Habitat beer – “inspired by the Southern Reach trilogy” – with a book signing
by Jeff VanderMeer.
To honor our friendship with Jeff VanderMeer, Tallahassee resident and author of the Southern Reach Trilogy, we are releasing Tropical Habitat, a tropical, otherworldly Hazy Double IPA at a special Book Signing and Meet & Greet event alongside the release of three other beers (Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, Barrel-Aged American Sour, and Fruit Beer).
A portion of Tropical Habitat sales (both cans and tap pours) will benefit the Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge (The Salamander Project) and honor the setting of the trilogy book series and one of our team’s favorite places – the North Florida Coast.
Uncommon for Leigh Brackett, “The Veil of Astellar” begins with a framing story about a manuscript found inside a message rocket sent to the Interworld Space Authority headquarters on Mars. This manuscript offers an explanation of the space phenomenon called “the Veil” which comes out of nowhere and swallows spaceships in the asteroid belt. The space police officers are initially sceptical about the account, but eventually manage to determine that it is authentic. Furthermore, the much feared Veil has vanished and the message inside the rocket explains why….
(13) HEARTFIELD CLASS. Cat Rambo shared “Highlights from Writing Interactive Fiction,”
taught online by Kate Heartfield. Thread
We’re going through a Harley Quinnaissance at the moment, even if Birds Of Preydidn’t light up the box office, and it looks like DC Universe is eager to keep it going. As announced on Twitter, the streaming service (which still exists and has yet to be swallowed up by HBO Max!) will already be getting a new season of the Harley Quinn animated series in April. The first season just premiered at the end of 2019, so this will be a surprisingly short wait for a chance to hear more DC comic book characters say “fuck” and get beat up in surprisingly violent ways. Also, maybe this time Harley and Poison Ivy will end up together? Or maybe they won’t and that’s okay too? Either way, DC Universe has to hold onto something that fans want to see, or else HBO Max will just quietly roll up and take over. Then Harley Quinn’s going to have to hang out with the Friendsinstead of Poison Ivy, and nobody wants that.
The South Korean dark comedy film Parasite had a historic awards season sweep – and in the process, reignited the debate over whether subtitles or dubbing is the best way to watch a movie that isn’t in your native language.
As director Bong Joon Ho accepted the first-ever best foreign language picture Golden Globe for a South Korean film, he said: “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”
Fast forward a month, and he was making history again, accepting the best picture award once more at the Oscars. Parasite’s Oscar win introduced it to a broad US audience – but not everyone was in favour of watching the award winner in its original language.
Dubbing takes the stress out of enjoying a foreign film, some argued, and performances are meant to be heard, not read. The angered response from subtitle fans ranged from accusations of racism to pointing out the needs of deaf viewers.
How you watch a foreign film is a clearly personal matter, tangled in pet peeves and accessibility. But as foreign flicks are gaining more screen time before American audiences, here’s a deeper dive into how we got here, and where the industry is headed.
In the early days of film, on-screen text was far from a “one-inch barrier” – it was the only way to express dialogue. Title cards were the precursor to subtitles, and they, too, were controversial in a way that mirrors the modern debate.
Stage actors would try to hide their work in silent film as many felt the lack of sound diminished the quality of the performance, Professor Marsha McKeever, academic director of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, told the BBC.
…Although science is Greene’s raw material in this fathoming — its histories, its theories, its triumphs, its blind spots — he emerges, as one inevitably does in contemplating these colossal questions, a testament to Einstein’s conviction that “every true theorist is a kind of tamed metaphysicist.”
I’ve been impressed with my ability to not get sucked into Hasbro’s Transformers’ Siege line. Those figures really look impressive, but I’m trying to keep my Transformers purchases to the Masterpiece line. But now with the release of Netflix’s Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy trailer, I’m thinking my resolve is about to crumble especially given how good this series looks.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike
Kennedy, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, and Michael Toman for some of
these stories. Title credit goes o File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel
Once again I’m running the statistical ruler over the finalists for the Hugos – this year, more than ever. This has not often been a useful guide to which books will win; however I think it does show the extent to which they ave penetrated popular consciousness, at least to within an order of magnitude.
(2) TAKEN ABACK. Best Fan Artist Hugo nominee Ariela Housman (Geek Calligraphy) apparently is getting some official pushback about which of her items are qualifying work, as explained in “Hugo Eligibility Revisited”.
When we published our eligibility post in December, we included the above two works, plus “Lady Astronaut Nouveau” based on The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. The former two were created earlier in 2018 and shown in art shows at Confluence and ICON. We finished “Lady Astronaut Nouveau” late enough in the year that we didn’t have any more art shows booked in which we could show it. We put it all over the interwebs, though.
This is what the Hugo Awards Website gives as the criteria for the Best Fan Artist category (bolding ours):
The final category is also for people. Again note that the work by which artists should be judged is not limited to material published in fanzines. Material for semiprozines or material on public displays (such as in convention art shows) is also eligible. Fan artists can have work published in professional publications as well. You should not consider such professionally-published works when judging this award.
The internet is about as public as it gets, right? It was even included in Mary Robinette’s Pinterest Gallery for Lady Astronaut Fan Art.
Apparently the Hugo Committee disagrees. Per the email I received from the committee member who contacted me prior to the announcement of the ballot:
The first two pieces clearly qualify, so that is fine. I’m afraid that the rules exclude pieces that have only been displayed online.
This, dear reader, is ridiculous.
Hopefully, Hugo Administrator Nicholas Whyte will reconcile all this for us, especially since some of us are under the impression fan artists’ online work was included in the 2017 Hugo Voter Packet.
Co-creator Seth Rogen announced the news in a video teaser posted to his Twitter page. The simple, yet stylized video prominently displays the Preacher title card, followed by an explosion and the declaration, “The end is now.” Then, the title card returns to confirm that the show’s fourth season will mark the end of the series. The teaser also reveals that Preacher Season 4 will debut on Aug. 4.
(4) LUCKY NUMBER. Next
week’s Titan Comics releases include another adventure with the thirteenth Doctor Who. No, it’s not a Prisoner mashup.
DOCTOR WHO: THIRTEENTH DOCTOR #6 – The Thirteenth Doctor’s continue after the season finale, as Eisner nominee Jody Houser brings a fresh new Doctor Who story to fans old and new.
John and Bjo Trimble. For those of you who don’t know John & Bjo, I’m very excited you get to hear their story for the first time. In the late 1960s, they were fans of a little TV show called Star Trek, and when it was announced, during Star Trek’s second season, that the show would not be returning for a third, they sprang into action. John and Bjo knew that TV shows don’t go into syndication unless they have three seasons – that gives you enough episodes strip the show. In other words, you need enough episodes to run five nights a without repeating episodes too quickly. You needed volume. And two seasons was not enough.
In those pre-internet days, John and Bjo started the letter writing campaign that saved Star Trek. Thanks to John and Bjo Trimble, Star Trek had three seasons, which allowed it to be syndicated, which allowed it to catch on, find its audience and become the juggernaut that it is today.
The weekend is two days long, so of course, we have photos of three new Oreo varieties for you.
(7) LEARNING A LOT. Cat
Rambo posted highlights from Catherine Lundoff’s online class, “So You Want To
Put Together An Anthology”. For more information about Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers Classes,
see the website at academy.catrambo.com
(8) POP YOU CAN HEAR IN
SPACE. Star Trek Nitpickers didn’t
find it hard to choose ten, for obvious reasons:
Top 10 funniest uses of pop music in The Orville. There were only 11, so I threw in a runner up. Also–lots of song factoids. This video serves as a loose recap for season one as well. I hope you’ll check out other songs by these great musicians!
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 8, 1887 — Hope Mirrlees. She is best known for the 1926 Lud-in-the-Mist, a fantasy novel apparently beloved by many. (I’m not one of them.) In 1970 an American reprint was published without the author’s permission, as part of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. (Died 1978.)
Born April 8, 1939 — Trina Schart Hyman. An illustrator of children’s books. She illustrated over 150 books, including fairy tales and Arthurian legends. She won the 1985 Caldecott Medal for U.S. picture book illustration, recognizing Saint George and the Dragon, retold by Margaret Hodges. Among the genre works she’s illustrated are Lloyd Alexander’s The Fortune-Tellers, Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. (Died 2004.)
Born April 8, 1942 — Douglas Trumbull, 77. Let’s call him a film genius and leave it at that. He contributed to, or was fully responsible for, the special photographic effects of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Blade Runner, and directed the movies Silent Running and Brainstorm. And Trumbull was executive producer for Starlost.
Born April 8, 1943 — James Herbert. Writer whose work erased the boundaries between horror and sf and the supernatural in a manner that made for mighty fine popcorn reading. None of his work from his first two books, The Rats and The Fog, to his latter work such as Nobody True would be considered Hugo worthy in my opinion (you may of course disagree) but he’s always entertaining. I will note that in 2010 Herbert was greatly honored by receiving the World Horror Convention Grand Master Award which was presented to him by Stephen King. (Died 2013.)
Born April 8, 1966 — Robin Wright, 53. Buttercup! Need I say more? I think not. She next pops in in Robin William’s Toys as Gwen Tyler and I see she was in M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable as Audrey Dunn. The animated Neil Gaiman Beowulf has her voicing Queen Wealtheow. Blade Runner 2049 is next for her where she has the role of Lieutenant Joshi. The DC Universe is where we finish off with her playing General Antiope in three films, to wit Justice League, Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman 1984.
Born April 8, 1967 — Cecilia Tan, 52. Editor, writer and founder of Circlet Press, which she says is the first press devoted primarily to erotic science fiction and fantasy. It has published well over a hundred digital book to date with such titles as Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords and Other Stories from the Erotic Edge of SF/Fantasy. (Wouldn’t Bester be surprised to learn that. I digress), Sex in the System: Stories of Erotic Futures, Technological Stimulation, and the Sensual Life of Machines and Genderflex: Sexy Stories on the Edge and In-Between. She was two series, Magic University and The Prince’s Boy.
Born April 8, 1968 — Patricia Arquette, 51. She made her genre debut as Kristen Parker in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. That and the horror film Nightwatch in which she was Katherine are, I think, her only genre gigs other than a Tales from the Crypt episode called “Four-Sided Triangle” episode in which she was Mary Jo.
Born April 8, 1974 — Nnedi Okorafor, 45. Who Fears Death won the 2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. Lagoon which is an Afrofututurist novel was followed by her amazing Binti trilogy. Binti which led it off that trilogy won both the 2016 Nebula Award and 2016 Hugo Award for best novella. Several of her works are being adapted for video, both in Africa and in North America.
Born April 8, 1980 — Katee Sackhoff, 39. Being noted here for playing Lieutenant Kara “Starbuck” Thrace on the rebooted Battlestar Galactica though I must confess I’ve only seen in her role as Deputy Sheriff Victoria “Vic” Moretti on Longmire. She also played Amunet Black, a recurring character who showed up on the fourth season of The Flash. To my pleasant surprise, I see her on Star Wars: The Clone Wars In a recurring role of voicing Bo-Katan Kryze.
Born April 8, 1981 — Taylor Kitsch, 38. The lead in John Carter, a film I’ll be damn if I can figure out how anything can have such great digital effects and such truly bad acting. No mind you he went on next to be Lt. Alex Hopper In Battleship, a film based on, yes, the board game. Earlier in his career is did play Gambit (Remy Etienne LeBeau) in X-Men Origins: Wolverine which, errr, wasn’t received well either.
It is striking how much fear shadows the novels: for all the sunshine and picnics, menace lurks behind every bush: like a skater on ice, Jansson is always aware of the murky darkness just inches below. Of her success Jansson wrote: “Daydreams, monsters and all the horrible symbols of the subconscious that stimulate me … I wonder if the nursery and the chamber of horrors are as far apart as people think.” As Huckerby observes, the novels “go to some very dark places” and they have tried to reflect this in their adaptation. “It is being billed as prime time drama for all the family,” Ostler says. “It’s not a kids’ show.”
(12) YOU’RE THE TOP! To
mix a metaphor, John Scalzi scaled Amazon’s Mt. Everest yesterday.
He also wrote a Twitter thread explaining that this good thing could not be improved by knocking other writers. Thread starts here.
George Mason University looks like any other big college campus with its tall buildings, student housing, and manicured green lawns – except for the robots.
…”We were amazed by the volume of orders that we had when we turned the service on,” Starship Technologies executive Ryan Tuohy says. “But what’s really touching is how the students on the campus have embraced the robots.”
Up to 1 billion birds die from building collisions each year in the United States, and according to a new study, bright lights in big cities are making the problem worse.
The study, published this month in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, examined two-decades of satellite data and weather radar technology to determine which cities are the most dangerous for birds. The study focused on light pollution levels, because wherever birds can become attracted to and disoriented by lights, the more likely they are to crash into buildings.
The study found that the most fatal bird strikes are happening in Chicago. Houston and Dallas are the next cities to top the list as the most lethal. One of the study’s authors, Kyle Horton, a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University, called the cities a “hotspot of migratory action,” adding, “they are sitting in this primary central corridor that most birds are moving through spring and fall.”
WEAPONS CHECK. Somebody thinks Voyager’s photon
torpedo account was overdrawn. Because they counted. (A 2011 post.)
The enthusiasm of these scavengers is totally understandable. Deep-sea bottom feeders are immensely dependent upon “food falls,” in which deceased aquatic animals from above settle on the ocean floor. This typically involves whales, dolphins, sea lions, and large fish like tuna, sharks, and rays, but it can also involve stuff from the land, such as plant material, wood, and, as the new video shows, alligators dropped by scientists.
After a seasonal break, the Jacobite steam train (a.k.a. the train used as a stand-in for the actual Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films) is back in business, People reports. And no, you won’t have to pass through Platform 9 3/4 to get there.
The Jacobite steam train has been in operation for over 100 years. Known originally for its scenic views of the Scottish Highlands, the old rail line only got attached the Harry Potter-verse after it was featured as the Hogwarts Express in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and every other Potter film going forward.
The arsenal of instruments Ramin Djawadi has used to score Game of Thrones includes mournful strings, mighty horns, and the Armenian double-reed woodwind known as a duduk. During the series’ first five seasons, however, he left one common weapon untouched: the piano. Early on, the showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, decided that the ivories were too delicate for the show;s brutal realms, where even weddings tend to involve some stabbing. They also banned the flute, for fear that Thrones would sound like a Renaissance fair.
(19) LIVE FROM NEW YORK. Kit Harington Saturday Night Live monologue is full of Game of Thrones jokes, and the sketch “Graphics Department” makes D and D jokes.
JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, Martin
Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, Darren Garrison, and Andrew Porter
for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of
the day Rob Thornton.]
(1) OBERST FROM COAST TO COAST. As reported the other day, Bill Oberst Jr.’s Ray Bradbury Live (forever) will launch with a performance at the South Pasadena Public Library on March 2. The show’s website says the next performances will be in Indianapolis, IN from May 3-5, then in Charleston, SC on dates to be announced.
Writing a series can be a long, strange journey. How do you best prepare for it, and where do you stop to refuel? And how do you do know when to keep going and when to bring things to an end? Join Seanan McGuire, Hugo-winning author of multiple series, as she shares secrets of not get lost along the way when undertaking such a trip.
(4) SHRINK RAP. Larry
Correia talks about “getting paid” all the time, and Harlan Ellison extolled
the importance of a writer’s work being acknowledged by a “check of money.” How
to explain everyone else who keeps pulling the handle on their typewriter? Camestros
Felapton searches for parallels between writing and an addiction in “Writing
One of the notable features of gambling (and a factor that can lead to it becoming a problem for some people) is that people still gain pleasure from it even when they are losing. The phenomenon called “loss chasing”…
Do you mind if authors read and/or comment on your review of their book?
“I don’t want them to comment on negative reviews, but I’m fine if they comment on positive reviews!” +12 with the same sentiment +11 same sentiment, also specifying that they would not tag an author in a negative review
“What I don’t like is when an author comments on my reviews to defend themselves or to try and guilt me into changing my opinions.” +6
“I don’t mind if they read, and a quick thanks for reading my book comment is fine— but nothing else.” +3
(paraphrased) Authors are not obligated to read reviews, but I’d like them to know that someone’s enjoyed it, and it would make me happy if they read my (positive tagged) review! +1
“I don’t mind though I’d rather have them contact me in private if they want to discuss it.”
“…would depend on the relationship you have with that specific author.”
“…from anyone with more power than me, NO.”
“…I wouldn’t mind them BOOSTING blog posts involving their books.”
“I don’t mind them commenting on my review in a tweet…but no comments on my actual blog.”
Though there seems to be a tendency to nominate debut novels for the Nebula in recent year—more than half of the nominees for the last three years have been first novels—there is a clear precedent for established novelists to actually take home the Nebula. The preference for books from established writers makes sense: not only have they had time to hone their craft, but, as and industry award, connections within the industry factor.
1. Like the movie’s human heroine, Goose comes straight from the comic books.
She’s named Chewie in the pages of the “Captain Marvel” series (named for the “Star Wars” Wookiee co-pilot), while the movie uses Anthony Edwards’ “Top Gun” sidekick as inspiration. But a lot of the hidden abilities Goose unleashes later in the film mirror the comic character’s cosmic connections as an alien Flerken.
Before they had a script, directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck had a room with a whiteboard where they wrote a wish list of everything from the comics that they wanted to see in the movie, including the cat. After figuring out Goose’s role, Boden remembers giving an initial script outline to executive producer Kevin Feige “and him being like, ‘Yep, we’re going to need about 200 percent more (Goose) in the story.’ And he was right. It was so fun to find all the ways that she could participate in the film.”
‘Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi has signed on to co-write and direct the pilot for a series based on the 1981 Terry Gilliam film ‘Time Bandits’ for Apple‘s upcoming streaming service. Waititi will also serve as executive producer along with Gilliam and Dan Halstead (‘People of Earth’). This will be just one of many shows that Apple plans to offer for free to owners of its various devices, including Apple TV, iPhones, iPads and Macs. ‘Time Bandits’ will be co-produced by Anonymous Content, Paramount Television and Media Rights Capital.
Time Bandits is a dark, irreverent adventure about imagination, bravery and the nature of our dreams. It follows the time-traveling adventures of an 11-year-old history buff named Kevin who, one night, stumbles on six dwarfs who emerge from his closet. They are former workers of the Supreme Being who have stolen a map that charts all the holes in the space-time fabric, using it to hop from one historical era to the next in order to steal riches. Throughout the movie, they meet various historical and fictional characters, including Napoleon Bonaparte and Robin Hood, while the Supreme Being simultaneously tries to catch up to them and retrieve the map.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 11, 1921 — F. M. Busby. Together with his wife and others he published a fan magazine named Cry of the Nameless which won the Hugo award in 1960. Heinlein was a great fan of him and his wife — The Cat Who Walks Through Walls in part dedicated to Busby and Friday in part to his wife Elinor. He was a very busy writer from the early Seventies to the late Nineties writing some nineteen published novels and myriad short stories before he blamed the Thor Power Tools decision for forcing his retirement. (Died 2005.)
Born March 11, 1952 — Douglas Adams. I’ve read and listened to the full cast production the BBC did of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but have absolutely no desire to see the film. Wait, wasn’t there a TV series as well? Yes, there was. Shudder! The Dirk Gently series is, errr, odd and its charms escape my understanding. He and Mark Carwardine also wrote the most excellent Last Chance to See, their travels to various locations in the hope of encountering species on the brink of extinction. It’s more silly than it sounds. (Died 2001.)
Born March 11, 1962 — Elias Koteas, 57. Genre appearances include the very first (and I think best of the many that came out) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, One Magic Christmas, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (I did warn you, didn’t I?), Cyborg 2 (just don’t), Gattaca, Skinwalkers, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Haunting in Connecticut.
Born March 11, 1963 — Alex Kingston, 56. River Song in Doctor Who. She’s in a number of different stories with a number of different Doctors and was the eventual wife of the Eleventh Doctor. (I don’t believe in spoilers.) I don’t see a lot of other genre work from her but she was in Ghost Phone: Phone Calls from the Dead, as Sheila and she was Lady Macbeth in the National Theatre Live of Macbeth. Oh, and she’s in the Arrowverse as Dinah Lance, in FlashForward as Fiona Banks and recently shows up as Sara Bishop on A Discovery of Witches, a series based off the Deborah Harkness novel of the same name. Great series, All Souls Trilogy, by the way.
Born March 11, 1967 — John Barrowman, 52. Best genre without doubt is as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and Torchwood. He reprised the role for Big Finish audiobooks and there’s one that I highly recommend which is the full cast Golden Age production with all the original cast. You’ll find a link to my review here. I see he’s been busy in the Arrowverse playing three different characters (I think as I confess I’m not watching it currently) in the form of Malcolm Merlyn / Dark Archer / Ra’s al Ghul. He’s also had a long history in theatre, so he’s been in Beauty and the Beast as The Beast / The Prince, Jack and The Bean Stalk as Jack, Aladdinas, well, Aladdinand Cinderella as, errrr, Buttons.
Born March 11, 1982 —Thora Birch, 37. A very, very extensive genre history so I’ll just list her appearances: Purple People Eater, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Hocus Pocus, Dungeons & Dragons, The Hole, Dark Corners, Train, Deadline, Dark Avenger series, The Outer Limits, Night Visions series, My Life as a Teenage Robot and a recurring role on the Colony series.
Born March 11, 1989 — Anton Yelchin. Best known for playing played Pavel Chekov in Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond. He also was in Terminator Salvation as Kyle Reese, in the Zombie comedy Burying the Ex as Max and voiced Clumsy Smurf in a series of Smurf films. Really, he did. (Died 2016.)
(11) SO, DOES LOTUS TASTE
GOOD? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Some science fiction has imagined a future where automation
of one sort or another replaces most or all jobs. Thinking about that sort of
future is slowly becoming mainstream but even if this leads to some version of
utopia, there will be a difficult transition period. An installment of an AI
series on The Verge (The Real-World AI Issue) looks at “How to protect humans in a
fully automated society” and asks the question “What happens when
every job is replaced by a machine?” It doesn’t get to an answer, but that
doesn’t make the question any less important.
People have been worried about machines taking jobs for a very long time. As early as 1930, John Maynard Keynes was warning about the new scourge of technological unemployment, which he termed as “unemployment due to our discovery of means of economizing the use of labor outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labor.” In short, automating ourselves out of a paycheck.
Mexican archaeologists announced last week that they discovered a trove of more than 200 Maya artifacts beneath the ancient city of Chichén Itzá in Mexico.
The discovery of the Yucatán Peninsula cave – and the artifacts, which appear to date back to 1,000 A.D. – was not the team’s original goal, National Geographic Explorer Guillermo de Anda, who helped lead the team, told NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro for Weekend Edition.
A local resident told the archeologists about the secret cave, known as Balamku or “Jaguar God.” It had been known to locals for decades and about 50 years ago some of them told archeologist Víctor Segovia Pinto about the cave, but he ordered it sealed for unknown reasons, causing it to be forgotten. This time, the explorers decided to search the cave chambers, which involved crawling on their stomachs for hours to reach the coveted artifacts.
Anthem is a mess. There’s no nicer way of putting it. I can’t recommend it in any form today. The good(?) news is that it’s essentially unfinished but it’s a part of EA’s games-as-a-service strategy. Like so many other games-as-a-service shlooters (that’s loot-shooters, games like Destiny and The Division), it’s being patched frequently with new features, quality of life improvements, and bug fixes. The outstanding questions are can they fix this game post-release and do they have the will to keep working on this game?
Is there an efficient way to tinker with the genes of plants? Being able to do that would make breeding new varieties of crop plants faster and easier, but figuring out exactly how to do it has stumped plant scientists for decades.
Now researchers may have cracked it.
Modifying the genetics of a plant requires getting DNA into its cells. That’s fairly easy to do with animal cells, but with plants it’s a different matter.
“Plants have not just a cell membrane, but also a cell wall,” says Markita Landry, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.
Scientists have tried different ways to get DNA and other important biological molecules through the cell wall – by shooting microscopic gold bullets coated with DNA into the cell using a gene gun or by hiding DNA inside bacteria that can infect plant cells.
Both methods have limitations. Gene guns aren’t very efficient, and some plants are hard, if not impossible, to infect with bacteria.
UC Berkeley researchers have found a way to do it using something called carbon nanotubes, long stiff tubes of carbon that are really small. Landry came up with the idea, and the curious thing is she’s neither a nanotechnology engineer nor a plant biologist.
BACKWARD. Remember in Armageddon where
Bruce Willis’ character says to the NASA manager, “You’re the
guys that’re thinking shit up! I’m sure you got a team of men sitting around
somewhere right now just thinking shit up and somebody backing them up!” Same
answer here – they’re looking for help from the public:
“It’s 2050 And This Is How We Stopped Climate Change”.
When NPR interviewed Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes in February about her Green New Deal, she said that her goal was bigger than just passing some new laws. “What I hope we’re able to do is rediscover the power of public imagination,” she said.
Well, we’re unleashing our imagination and exploring a dream, a possible future in which we’re bringing global warming to a halt. It’s a world in which greenhouse emissions have ended.
(Editor’s note: Each story has two sections, the first reflecting the present and the second imagining the world of 2050.)
Published in February 2019. Britain, the not-too-distant future. Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test. He wants his family to belong. Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress. When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death. How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice?
Extensive cellars of the world’s best wines. Pristine slopes with no other skiers, the lifts at your disposal. A hotel kitchen with an endless supply of food that never spoils. The penthouse room available day in and day out for sleeping and leisure. Paradise calls, such is the tragedy of Graham Joyce’s touching 2010 The Silent Land.
“Captain America” found out he had a big fan in Congress after his mission to the US Capitol this week.
Chris Evans, known for playing the superhero in the Marvel movies, met up with Rep. Dan Crenshaw on a visit to Washington, and the two seemed to hit it off.
Crenshaw, who represents Texas’ 2nd Congressional District, lifted his eye patch to show off a Captain America-inspired glass eye to Evans. In a picture posted to Twitter on Friday, the eye resembles Captain America’s shield, with a five-point, white star in the middle surrounded by circles.
The BGR story talks about the possibility of Russian
fighters using drones (that fly with an AI assist) as a force multiplier.
Well, it seems Russian military officials don’t want to just stop with that fearsome new hypersonic intercontinental ballistic missile that was tested last month, which we told you about and which Russia claims there’s no defense against. It would appear the country’s military forces have also been testing the feasibility of having AI-powered wingmen fly alongside Russian fighter pilots, executing commands issued by the human pilot an inaugurating a scary new chapter in aerial military combat.
News accounts of Russia’s efforts here are the result of images spotted on social media of a drone called Hunter, an unmanned combat vehicle, along with images of a jet called the Sukhoi Su-57. Of particular interest is that fighter jet’s tail. As you can see below, on the tail you can see the shape of a jet as well as an image that seems to be the “Hunter” drone, along with the image of a lightning bolt.
Meanwhile, PopSci takes a look at using big data and machine
learning to keep aging aircraft in the air instead of grounded.
Late in 2018, the Air Force (with help from Delta) retrofitted its aging C-5 and B-1 fleets to perform predictive maintenance. “It’s already doing amazing work, telling us things that we need to look at before they become critical,” Will Roper [(USAF assistant secretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics)] says. “The data is there but it’s not in a discoverable format that you can layer in machine learning on top of it. A lot of what we had to do was reverse engineering, so that that data can be exposed in an algorithm friendly way.”
He says there are more than 100 algorithms running on the C-5 systems, and more than 40 examining the B-1. Each algorithm parses the information generated by specific systems, like the landing gear, wheels, temperature sensors, and anything that is deemed mission-critical.
So far, the A.I. found three maintenance actions on the C-5 “that we wouldn’t have found through traditional processes, that affect 36 different aircraft,” Roper says. Maintainers also removed 17 parts that were showing subtle signs of wear well before those parts had issues.
(20) WHAT’S THAT SMELL?
It’s D&D night at Ursula Vernon’s place. The thread starts here.
JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Rich Lynch, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John King
Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these
stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Adam