The award is given annually for the best fictional representation “of human and machine intelligence forming and thriving in a cooperative peer relationship.”
Previously, Wake, the first volume in Sawyer’s trilogy, was nominated for the Hugo Award (2010), and all three volumes in the trilogy separately won Canada’s top SF award, the Aurora, for Best Novel of the Year (2010-2012).
The WWW trilogy deals with the World Wide Web gaining consciousness, a fact that first becomes apparent to blind teenage math prodigy Caitlin Decter.
“Traditionally,” says Sawyer, “science fiction only offered three scenarios for how the advent of artificial intelligence might go. There was the Terminator scenario, in which the machines eliminate us; the Matrix scenario, in which they subjugate us; and Star Trek’s ‘Borg’ scenario, in which they absorb us. I felt it was important to portray a fresh, win-win version in which humanity survives the coming Singularity with our liberty, individuality, and dignity intact.”
In announcing this year’s win, David Miller, president and co-founder of MIFRE, said, “The WWW trilogy was exactly what we had hoped to find: a story that demonstrated the positive cooperation between humans and conscious machines, for the benefit of all. We enjoyed what was a fascinating possible origin story for machine intelligence, and particularly appreciated how it demonstrated that its relationship with the human race could become a mutually beneficial partnership. We feel that the future depends on our ability as a civilization to be welcoming and respectful as the existence of conscious machines looms as a near certainty.”
Robert J. Sawyer, who lives in Mississauga, Ontario, has previously won all three of the world’s top science-fiction prizes for best novel of the year: the Hugo Award, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s Nebula Award, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Sawyer is a member of the Order of Canada, the highest honor given by the Canadian government. He will be a Guest of Honor at the Chengdu Worldcon in 2023.
What if there was no one new Doctor? With a quick narrative device to produce an unstable regeneration, you could have a new high-profile Doctor every week. Suddenly it’s possible to hire Hugh Grant, Judi Dench or Riz Ahmed at the Tardis controls, when you only need to persuade them to do a few weeks’ filming – rather than a three-series commitment. Plus, you get all the publicity of the reveal of a new Doctor, over and over again.
(2) LET’S YOU AND HIM FIGHT. Rosemary Jenkinson is missing the old verbal slapfights between literary writers: “A Room with a Feud” in The Critic Magazine. Well, we still have plenty in genre, but if they stopped would you miss them?
Oh, where to find the fabulous spats that used to enliven every writers’ circle? It’s no coincidence that the drab rise of cancel culture has contributed to the demise of colourful literary disagreements. In my own case, my publisher, Doire Press, rescinded their offer to publish my debut novel after I wrote an article contending that Northern Irish authors should focus on contemporary matters rather than the Troubles. As the Sunday Independent rightly questioned in the aftermath, “Is the Irish literary world really so fragile and full of itself that it can’t cope with the odd dose of healthy impertinence?”
Many of the writing greats enhanced their reputations with a critical bon mot. As the poet and critic Dorothy Parker vaunted, “The first thing I do every morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue,”…
…Naturally, no one wants to see hatchet jobs on writers, but one can’t help wondering where the entertainment is in a bland anodyne literary world. Many writers don’t have the robust constitution to engage in the art of the literary skirmish, but the difficulty for the few who do is that those they write about are likely to claim victim status….
(3) SAWYER HEALTH UPDATE. Robert J. Sawyer told Facebook followers in a public post today that he tested positive for Covid-19, but has “no symptoms to speak of.” Best wishes for him to continue feeling well.
…”Russian warship, f***k you…!” was the response to demands to surrender given to Russian naval forces by Ukrainian border guards stationed on Snake Island early in the war. The Ukrainian marine who uttered the phrase, Roman Grybov, was present at a ceremony issuing the postage stamp along with the illustrator….
Acclaimed screenwriter Damon Lindelof learns that several members of his family tree died in the Bialystok ghetto during the Holocaust on Tuesday night’s episode of the celebrity genealogy show “Finding Your Roots.”
With help from the archives at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum, the “Finding Your Roots” team found six pages of testimony detailing the fate of a branch of Lindelof’s family.
Lindelof, who created HBO’s 2019 “Watchmen” series and co-created “Lost,” reads from the show’s compiled pages about his family tree, repeating “circumstances of death: ghetto Bialystok” after several relatives: his great-granduncle — the brother of his great-grandmother — and his wife and their four children.
I’ve always been a fan of ghost stories. As a kid, I loved horror movies and the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, and H. P. Lovecraft; later on, I discovered movies like The Innocents (based on Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw) and The Haunting (adapted from Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House). As a ghost historian and editor, I’ve discovered dozens of brilliant tales from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; these are stories that remain relevant, entertaining, and frightening….
Future Tense is asking Sec. Pete Buttigieg what role imagination plays in managing a federal department as sprawling and impactful as the Department of Transportation. We’re also asking three of our accomplished Future Tense Fiction authors to talk about how they see their work inspiring visions of futures that might come to pass.
Tochi Onyebuchi, @TochiTrueStory; Author, How to Pay Reparations: A Documentary, Future Tense Fiction Author, Goliath
Moderators: Paul Butler, President, New America; Ed Finn, @zonal; Founding Director, Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University
(8) MORE ABOUT CHRISTINE ASHBY. [Item by David Grigg.] Christine Ashby, long-time Australian fan, died at home on Tuesday 29 March 2022. She was 70 years of age. She is survived by her husband Derrick Ashby.
Christine was a member of the Monash University SF Association, alongside such well-known names as John Foyster and Carey Handfield. After graduating as a lawyer she began work as a solicitor and developed considerable expertise in legal costings.
She was involved in organising and running several Melbourne SF conventions in the 1970s and 80s and was the Guest of Honour at Q-Con in Brisbane in 1973. She and Derrick were members of ANZAPA for many years.
Christine was Treasurer of two Worldcons: Aussiecon in 1975 and Aussiecon Two in 1985.
Outside of fandom, Christine served for several years on the board of the Paraplegics and Quadriplegics Association of Victoria and for a short while was its Chairperson.
(9) MEMORY LANE.
2007 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Fifteen years ago, a special citation went to Ray Bradbury from the Pulitzer Board for his distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.
But the Pulitzer Board doesn’t give out such an Award without picking a specific work and this is the full language of their announcement:
Bradbury came of age as a writer before the postwar ascendancy of the paperback book as a publishing medium. Instead, during the Golden Age of Science Fiction, short stories published in pulp magazines like Astounding Science-Fiction, Thrilling Wonder Stories and Amazing Stories stood at the forefront of the field. As such, many of his novels are actually “fixups”—a term coined by SF legend A.E. van Vogt to describe novels assembled from previously published short stories that were buttressed with new interlinking material.
Culled from Bradbury’s late 1940s output, The Martian Chronicles is a sweeping account of the colonization of Mars amid nuclear war on Earth. Its literary structure (patterned after Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio) earned plaudits from such notable critics like Christopher Isherwood, who read the book after a fortuitous encounter with the younger writer (and fellow Angeleno) at a bookstore. In his review, Isherwood deemed Bradbury “a very great and unusual talent,” a tastemaking assessment that charted the course of the rest of his career.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 16, 1905 — Charles G. Finney. Writer and Editor. It’s rare that I pick writers whose main accomplishment is one work which has defined them, but his one such work is, well, phenomenal. His first novel and most famous work, The Circus of Dr. Lao, was a Hugo finalist at Loncon II and won one of the inaugural National Book Awards, the Most Original Book of 1935; it is most decidedly fantasy. Ray Bradbury liked the novel so much that he included it as the headline story in his anthology The Circus of Dr. Laoand Other Improbable Stories; it is said that the carnival in his Something Wicked This Way Comes is modelled upon The Circus of Dr. Lao. (Died 1984.)
Born April 16, 1917 — William “Billy” Benedict. Singled out for birthday honors as he was Whitey Murphy in Adventures of Captain Marvel. Yes, that Captain Marvel. Back in 1942, it was a 12-chapter black-and-white movie serial from Republic Pictures based off the Fawcett Comics strip. You can watch the first chapter, “Curse of The Scorpion,” here. (Died 1999.)
Born April 16, 1921 — Peter Ustinov. I’ve done his Birthday in the past and profiled his extensive genre work there but I’m going to limit this write-up to just one role he did. In half a dozen films, he played Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot, first in Death on the Nile and then in Evil Under the Sun, Thirteen at Dinner (a television film), Dead Man’s Folly (another television movie), Murder in Three Acts (yet another television movie), and finally in Appointment with Death. An impressive take on that role indeed! (Died 2004.)
Born April 16, 1922 — Kingsley Amis. So have you read The Green Man? I’m still not convinced that anything actually happened, or that rather everything including the hauntings were really in Maurice Allington’s decayed brain. I’m not seeing that he did much else for genre work other outside of The Anti-Death League and The Alteration but he did write Colonel Sun: A James Bond Adventure under the pseudonym of Robert Markham and his New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science Fiction which was published in the late Fifties sounds fascinating as he shares his views on the genre and makes some predictions as there’ll never be a SF series on the boob tube despite there already being so. (Died 1995.)
Born April 16, 1922 — John Christopher. Author of The Tripods, an alien invasion series which was adapted into both a excellent radio and a superb television series. He wrote a lot of genre fiction including the Fireball series in which Rome never fell, and The Death of Grass which I mention because it was one of the many YA post-apocalyptic novels that he wrote in the Fifties and Sixties that sold extremely well in the U.K. The film version would be nominated for a Hugo at Noreascon I, a year where No Award was given. (Died 2012.)
Born April 16, 1962 — Kathryn Cramer, 60. Writer, editor, literary critic. She co-founded The New York Review of Science Fiction in 1988 with David G. Hartwell and others, and was its co-editor until 1991 and again since 1996. She edited with her husband David G. Hartwell Year’s Best Fantasy one through nine, and Year’s Best SF seven through seventeen with him as well. They did a number of anthologies of which I’ll single out The Hard SF Renaissance and The Space Opera Renaissance as particularly superb. She has a most excellent website Kathryncramer.com.
Born April 16, 1975 — Sean Maher, 47. Doctor Simon Tam In the Firefly ‘verse. And Dick Grayson (Nightwing) in a staggering number of animated DCU films, to wit Son of Batman, Batman vs. Robin, Batman: Bad Blood, Justice League vs. Teen Titans, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, Batman: Hush and Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans. He showed up on Arrow as Shrapnel in the “Blast Radius” and “Suicide Squad” episodes. He also had a one-off on Warehouse 13 as Sheldon in the “Mild Mannered” episode.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
The Flying McCoys illustrates a problem caused by something you can easily understand Superman wouldn’t know he was doing.
(12) A FAN FUND AUCTION OF YESTERYEAR. Fanac.org’s video time machine has returned from 1976 with a clip from the first MidAmeriCon.
MidAmeriCon, the 34th World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Kansas City in 1976. In this very short video excerpt from the Fan Funds Auction at Big Mac, auctioneer Rusty Hevelin shows just how far fans will go to be supportive of the Fan Funds. In this clip, it’s not books or vegemite up for bid, but currency. The second item is the one to watch, with Rusty skillfully extracting bids from the crowd. You’ll also see fellow auctioneer jan howard finder making a brief appearance…
This video is brought to you by the FANAC Fan History Project, with video from the Video Archeology project (coordinated by Geri Sullivan, with technical work by David Dyer-Bennet).
… Was it strange to go from being the only child on the set of Temple of Doom to being constantly around other young actors while making The Goonies?
It was weird, because coming off of Indiana Jones … I got all the attention versus being on a set with six other kids, and honestly they were all hams! [Laughs] They really knew what they were doing. So I found myself constantly having to fight for attention. But that was very familiar to me, because I grew up in a big family and that’s what my home was like. I got some great friendships out of that movie, including Jeff Cohen, aka Chunk. He’s my entertainment lawyer and we’re great friends, as I am with Sean [Astin] and Corey [Feldman]. We’re Goonies for life…
(14) NOSFERATU. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Nigel Andrews reflects on the centennial of F.W. Murnau’s great horror film Nosferatu.
The film’s poetry of terror comes from real locations, mostly shot in daytime. Cityscapes: the unforgettable, hollowed-out tenement building (filmed in Lübeck) in which the vampire finds his last-act townhouse. Nature: dark monuments and bristling forests. castles: the stone arches and beetling walls of Nosferatu’s Carpathian home. Those arches become a master touch. In shot after shot, Max Shreck’s hideous Count, dressd to kill and made up likewise, emerges from the inverted U of dark tunnels or from frame-fitting Gothic doorways, like a creature serially birthed or rebirthed from vertical coffin-wombs.
Schreck was a distinguished stage actor made out for the movie. The nightmarishly thin body (for which he dieted), with long arms and extended fingers,is crowned with a rat-toothed bat-eared head, bald and cadaverously thin. The dark, hollowed eyes are a premonitory rhyme with the Lübeck buildings. The frock coat is like a sartorial shroud, which seems sewn straight on to the skin. Sometimes he wears a skewy turban-style nightcap: a touch of bleak farce among the grand guignol.
The lunar dust that sold today is a rare exception to the rule, a quirk due in part to a combination of fraud, mistaken identity, and a series of legal disputes….
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Jurassic World Dominion, two generations of cast members unite for the first time. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are joined by Oscar-winner Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill.
From Jurassic World architect and director Colin Trevorrow, Dominion takes place four years after Isla Nublar has been destroyed. Dinosaurs now live—and hunt—alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, David Grigg, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]
(1) I’M JUST A POE BOY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Andrea Sachs writes about the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, which opened in April 1922. The museum has as official greeters two black cats, Edgar and Pluto. The museum will celebrate its centennial on April 28 with an UnHappy Hour, where guests will cosplay characters from the 1920s, with music by “local surfrock band The Embalmers.” And if your kids are bored, they can leap into a coffin! “Why you should visit the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond”.
… From “The Raven,” Edgar Allan Poe’s acclaimed poem, we know that birds can speak. If the Enchanted Garden at the Poe Museum in Richmond, which celebrates its centennial this year, had a voice, it might have a choice word to say as well.
“Evermore,” the bricks from the Southern Literary Messenger building, the writer’s former office, would utter. “Evermore,” the ivy clipped from his mother’s grave would whisper. “Evermore,” the copy of the bust of Poe would intone, before asking after the original plaster statue of his head. (Rest easy, Mr. Poe. After police recovered the stolen object from the bar at the Raven Inn in 1987, it has been living safely and soberly inside the museum’s reading room.)To be sure, 100 years is not forever, but for a museum dedicated to a 19th-century American author who wades in the dark recesses of the human psyche, it comes close….
It only took THIRTY-FOUR YEARS, but SFWA is FINALLY changing its name to The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (instead of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America). Text of a letter I sent to the SFWA FORUM on February 25, 1988:
At the SFWA meeting during the Brighton WorldCon [in August 1987), Charles Sheffield proposed changing the name of our organization from the Science Fiction Writers of America to the Science Fiction Writers Association. Why? He said the current name was insulting to overseas members. I agree, but, as I pointed out at that meeting, you don’t have to be separated from the United States by an ocean to feel excluded by the present name.
Now Joel Rosenberg has written to the FORUM (Number 104, page 33), again talking about American vs. overseas members. Let’s put this to rest. Canadians do not live overseas from the States, and they certainly do not consider themselves Americans, any more than the other non-U.S.-residents of North and South America do.
There are 21 Canadians in SFWA, making us by far the largest non-American nationality. I can’t speak for my compatriots, but I dislike SFWA’s current name and I object to having my country fall between the cracks of this debate….
(3) UNMET TWAIN. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Here’s a very good article on Ukraine and Russia and why both countries are different by Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov: “Ukranians Will Never Be Russians” in The Sunday Times.
… Ukrainians are individualists, egoists, anarchists who do not like government or authority. They think they know how to organise their lives, regardless of which party or force is in power in the country. If they do not like the actions of the authorities, they go out to protest. Therefore, any government in Ukraine is afraid of the street; afraid of its people.
Russians loyal to their authority are afraid to protest and are willing to obey any rules the Kremlin creates. Now they are cut off from information, from Facebook and Twitter. But even before they believed the official TV channels more than the news from the internet.
In Ukraine, about 400 political parties are registered with the Ministry of Justice. This only once again proves the individualism of Ukrainians. Not a single nationalist party is represented in the Ukrainian parliament. Ukrainians do not like to vote for either the extreme left or the extreme right. Basically, they are liberals at heart.
In the 1920s and 1930s peasants were sent to Siberia and the Far East as a punishment for not wanting to join collective farms. Ukrainians are not collective, everyone wants to be the owner of his own land, his own cow, his own crop. Looking at this history, they can safely say: “We and the Russians are two different peoples!”…
(4) MOORCOCK. “Dangerous Visions: Final Programmes and New Fixes: A conversation with Michael Moorcock” is a conversation between Michael Moorcock and Mike Stax from the symposium presented by City Lights in conjunction with PM Press on February 26 and 27, exploring the radical currents of sf. It happened during the celebration of the US launch of the book Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985 edited by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre.
Rogues in the House, as the title may suggest, is a sword-and-sorcery focused podcast. We explore everything from Conan the Cimmerian to Elric of Melnibone, and we aren’t afraid to dive into adjacent genres and topics. Masters of the Universe, Willow, and the Witcher tend to simmer in our soup as well.
We call ourselves half-baked experts and usually place fun in front of fidelity, though we do do our homework.
Tomorrow’s World visits the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, a studio dedicated to the production of cutting edge electronic sound effects, soundscapes and electronic music for use in BBC television and radio programmes. Pioneering sound engineer Delia Derbyshire – who, along with colleague Dick Mills, realised Ron Grainer’s famous Doctor Who Theme at the Radiophonic Workshop – shows how electronic sounds are produced, and demonstrates some of the processes and techniques used in the workshop to build these sounds into otherworldly scores for the likes of Quatermass and the Pit
(7) END OF AN ERA. The Tellers of Weird Tales blog pays tribute to the late Marvin Kaye, who edited the magazine from 2012 to 2019: “Marvin Kaye (1938-2021)”.
…Marvin Kaye was certainly multitalented. He had an admirable career, the kind that few men or women born in later decades have been able to attain. We should be thankful to him–and his wife–for bringing so much back from the past and placing it before us so that we might all enjoy it once again.…
(8) WILLIAM HURT (1950-2022) Actor William Hurt, whose first film was Altered States, and who gained fame in non-genre roles such as his Oscar-winning performance in Kiss of the Spider Woman, died March 13. Variety’s tribute includes Hurt’s late-career genre work.
…More recently, Hurt became well known to a younger generation of movie lovers with his portrayal of the no-nonsense General Thaddeus Ross in 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk.” He later reprised the role in “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Avengers: Endgame” and “Black Widow.”
…After appearing on stage, Hurt secured a lead role in “Altered States,” playing a troubled scientist in Ken Russell’s offbeat film, a notable entry in the body horror genre.
… A rare attempt at popcorn entertainment with 1998’s big-screen adaptation of “Lost in Space” was a modest hit, but didn’t earn enough money to spawn a franchise and Hurt looked miserable throughout the movie.
He also appeared in the TV mini-series version of “Dune,” in Steven Spielberg’s “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” and in M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village.”…
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1987 — [Item by Cat Eldridge] The history of Roger Zelazny’s Hugos is quite fascinating, both ones he actually won and the ones that he got nominated for but didn’t win.
His first was a nomination at Pacificon II at “A Rose for Ecclesiastes” which was followed by a nomination at Tricon for “The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth” and a win for …And Call Me Conrad (also known as This Immortal) in a tie with Dune.
At NyCon 3 the next year, two of his novelettes woulde to get nominated, “For a Breath I Tarry” and “This Moment of the Storm” as did his “Comes Now the Power” short story.
Baycon would see him win the Hugo for Best Novel for Lord of Light and get a nomination for the “Damnation Alley” novella. The novel version of Damnation Alley would come after Baycon.
Jack of Shadows would get nominated at the first L.A. Con. Doorways in the Sand got that honor in MidAmeriCon where his “Home is The Hangman” novella won a Hugo.
At Chicon IV, “Unicorn Variation” wins the Best Novelette and at ConFederation, “24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai” would win Best Novella. The next year at Conspiracy ’87, “Permafrost” would get a Hugo for Best Novelette, his final Hugo.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 13, 1928 — Douglas Rain. Though most of his work was as a stage actor, he was the voice of the HAL 9000 for 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequel. He’s in Sleeper a few years later as the voices of the Evil Computer and Various Robot Butlers. (Died 2018.)
Born March 13, 1933 — Diane Dillon, 89. With husband Leo Dillon (1933 – 2012), illustrators of children’s books, and paperback book and magazine covers. Over fifty years they created more than a hundred genre book and magazine covers together as well as considerable interior art. They were nominated for Best Professional Artist at St.Louis Con and Heicon ’70 before winning it at the first Noreascon, and The Art of Leo & Diane Dillon was nominated at Chicon IV for Best Related Non-Fiction Book. She and her husband would get a much deserved World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Born March 13, 1951 — William F. Wu, 71. Nominated for two Hugos, the first being at L.A. Con II for his short story, “Wong’s Lost and Found Emporium”; the second two years later at ConFederation for another short story, “Hong’s Bluff”. The former work was adapted into a Twilight Zone episode of the same name. He’s contributed more than once to the Wild Card universe, the latest being a story in the most excellent Texas Hold’Em anthology five years back. Though definitely not genre in general, The Yellow Peril: Chinese Americans in American Fiction, 1850-1940 is decidedly worth reading.
Born March 13, 1956 — Dana Delany, 66. I’ve come today to praise her work as a voice actress. She was in a number of DCU animated films, first as Andrea Beaumont in Batman: The Mask of The Phantasm, then as Lois Lane in Superman: The Animated Series, Superman: Brainiac Attacks and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. (That’s not a complete listing.) Remember that Wing Commander film? Well there was an animated series, Wing Commander Academy, in which she was Gwen Archer Bowman. And though definitely not genre or even genre related, I must single out her role in Tombstone as it is a most excellent film indeed.
Born March 13, 1966 — Alastair Reynolds, 56, As depressing as they are given what they lead up to, the Prefect Dreyfus novels are my favorites of his novels. That said, Chasm City is absolutely fascinating. His present novel in the Revelation Space series, Inhibitor Phase, was damn great.
Born March 13, 1968 — Jen Gunnels, 54. Writer and genre theater critic, the latter a rare thing indeed. She does her reviews for Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction and New York Review of Science Fiction. With Erin Underwood, she has edited Geek Theater: Anthology of Science Fiction and Fantasy Plays. She’s also an editor at Tor these days where her writers are L. E. Modesitt, Jr., Richard Baker, Kit Reed, Emily Devenport, and F. Paul Wilson.
… But I also believe what he said implies that fantasy would not have mattered without Tolkien. If so, this deserves rebuttal. So here goes.
The modern fantasy genre does NOT all come from Tolkien, and it would have arrived even without him. In fact, it already had. And pre-Tolkien fantasy matters.
To set the stage, early fantasists Lord Dunsany, William Morris, George MacDonald, and H. Rider Haggard were writing long before Tolkien. Tolkien himself read and loved many of these authors and his work bears their influence. As it should; much of their work is great.
Sword-and-sorcery existed long before The Lord of the Rings (1954) and even The Hobbit (1939). Starting in the late 20s and early 30s, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, C.L. Moore, and Fritz Leiber produced an amazing body of work that attracted fanbases in pulp magazines Weird Tales and Unknown….
(12) ABOUT OUR PARTNERS. In the Washington Post, Homer Hickam says we will have to work with the Russians at the International Space Station for now, but we should “proceed on our own to carefully resolutely work to decommission” the station. “Our space partnership with Russia can’t go on”.
…In nearly every arena, the Biden administration has imposed harsh sanctions on Russia. The space station should not be immune. It’s time to end our well-intentioned partnership with Russia — even if, as seems almost certain, it would mean the early closing and decommissioning of the space station.
The realpolitik of the International Space Station is that it is not only a symbol of cooperation between us and the Russians, but it also provides a certain amount of diplomatic leverage. The fact is, Russia needs the ISS a lot more than we do.
When the space station began continuous occupancy in 2000, we wanted to learn how to build large structures in space and get experience with lengthy spaceflight. These goals have been accomplished, and now the station is approaching obsolescence, its recently planned life extension to 2030 notwithstanding. With our flourishing commercial space companies, who are already cutting metal on their own future space stations, plus our federal government’s Artemis moon program, the United States is entering a new golden age of space exploration. The Russians, meanwhile, are stuck in the past with antiquated spacecraft and nowhere to go except the ISS.
If we are truly determined to stop Putin’s brutal war, we have to use every lever we’ve got. Unhappily, that includes the space station….
However, a comment from “BilTheGalacticHero” challenges some of Hickam’s facts:
This is a shockingly ignorant and contradictory opinion piece by Homer Hickam. The US commercial spaceflight industry is almost wholly dependent on the ISS for business. No companies are “cutting metal” on commercial space stations. Studies are just now starting. Axiom is creating a module for the ISS but obviously that’s different. On one hand Hickam says we should ditch the station and on the other he says we should keep the station and ditch the Russians. Which is it? Ditching the station is the worst option by far. With proper planning the other ISS partners could operate the station without the Russian segment but that’s not something that can happen overnight. In addition, the Cygness rebost hasn’t happened yet and Cygness alone cannot maintain long term ISS attitude control.
(13) HELLO MY BABY. Saturday Night Live explains why The Princess and the Frog was so bad it ended up on Disney Minus.
Native women have been hyper-sexualized throughout American history, and the consequences have been devastating. Recently, Marvel Comics introduced a new character named Princess Matoaka. Instead of taking the opportunity to show a brave strong Native women, they really let us all down.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, John A Arkansawyer, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day David Shallcross.]
Canadian sf author J. Brian Clarke (1928-2022) has passed away at the age of 93 reports Robert J. Sawyer, who received the news from Clarke’s son James.
Clarke was the author of 20 published short stories, many of them published in Analog. His first two sales – “Artifact” and “The Ambassadors” were to John W. Campbell and appeared in 1969. Most of the others were sold to Stanley Schmidt, including the stories in Clarke’s popular “Expediter” series. The second story in the series, “Earthgate,” was selected for The 1986 Annual World’s Best SF edited by Wollheim and Saha. The last of nine published stories in the series, “Flaw on Serendip” was nominated for the Aurora Awards in 1990.
Clarke also produced a pair of fix-up novels compiled from works in two different series, The Expediter (1990) and Alphanauts (2006).
Alphanauts won the inaugural A. E. Van Vogt Award given by the Winnipeg Science Fiction Association. Robert J. Sawyer, in his introduction to Alphanauts, said of Clarke’s fiction —
He writes about scientists and engineers, about people who think and do, about problems that have to be solved and the men and women who roll up their sleeves and get the work done. His characters are the kinds of scientists-as-heroes that our real world inexplicably lacks but that were the mainstay of the Golden Age of science fiction.
J. Brian Clarke was a member of SFWA, and SF Canada, as well as a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society, and a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson – My review of this novel was decidedly mixed and frustrated, and as I wrote there, I found the actual experience of reading it rather challenging. But as I come to close out the year, I can’t help but appreciate this effort, perhaps the first novel to not only address climate change but imagine how we might go about dealing with it, and what will be required to accomplish this. It’s not a perfect novel, but it might be a necessary one.
(2) ATOP MOUNT TO BE VIEWED. Abigail Nussbaum did a separate “Best TV of 2021” post for Lawyers, Guns & Money.
…I take two lessons from the state of the TV medium in 2021. The first is that this was the year that taught us the difference between “expensive” and “good”. So many shows came out the gate this year with stratospheric production values, huge names before and behind the camera, and stunning locations, but still felt as if little or no thought was given to creating coherent, satisfying stories. The Disney+ MCU shows are exhibit A of this phenomenon: five very different shows with unbelievable budgets and star-studded casts, none of which quite managed to stick the landing. But other streamers fell into the same trap. Apple TV+ produced an eight-episode adaptation of The Mosquito Coast that shot in the desert on the US-Mexican border and in picturesque locations in California and Mexico, but apparently no one involved considered that audiences might be put off if the central family didn’t even reach the Mosquito Coast until the season finale. Netflix poured millions upon millions of dollars into comic books adaptations like Sweet Tooth and Jupiter’s Legacy, while seeming to have skimped on the scripts. (To be fair, Jupiter’s Legacy also looked like ass; I really hope there was some serious money-laundering going on because otherwise I just can’t explain it.)
The short answer is that it’s inspired by other giant balls whose function was to indicate time. I say “was”, because the purpose of a “time ball” is now pragmatically obsolete, and almost all of these are gone. But one of the very earliest time balls, atop the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, has been dropped each and every day since 1833. It is raised halfway up its post a few minutes prior, to give notice, and then it is dropped at exactly the stroke of 1 P.M. Bongggg!
(4) CALMING THE DISCOURSE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] In an excellent, free Patreon post, Hugo-finalist fan writer Jason Sanford examines the troubling trend of targeted harassment campaigns against creators and pundits within the SFF genre, and asks how we as a community can do better. “Genre Grapevine on SF/F Abuse and Harassment Campaigns”.
…I’ve been on the receiving end of these mass harassment and abuse campaigns. When you’re subjected to harassment and abuse your world compresses to a single, painful point, like a black hole that traps you against your will. Nothing you say or do makes a difference. People can tell you the harassment and abuse is unjustified and that you did nothing wrong. But none of that matters.
Because in the end you are merely a convenient target for people who are deliberately refusing to see you as human….
(5) SAWYER Q&A. Host Mary Ito, previously with the CBC and TVOntario, interviews Robert J. Sawyer for The CRAM Podcast ~ Extraordinary Ideas Unleashed.
We all wonder about our future – post pandemic. And it’s something sci-fi writer Robert Sawyer thinks about a lot. His writing has captivated audiences with explorations of alternate worlds. Hear what one of Canada’s most fascinating big thinkers has to say about OUR world, and the transformation it’s undergoing. His audio series “The Downloaded” about a metaphorical post pandemic world will be available Fall 2022 on Audible. Robert Sawyer’s most recent book is “The Oppenheimer Alternative.”
(6) FREE TAFF BOOK. Ah! Sweet Laney! The Writings of a Great Big Man is the latest addition to TAFF’s library of free downloads. The reissue of Robert Lichtman’s and Pat Virzis’s compilation of Francis T. Laney’s other fanwriting (i.e. not Ah! Sweet Idiocy!) That will be a very familiar name if you happen to have just read about 1940s LASFS in Bixelstrasse. The collection is available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they also hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund.
Though best remembered for his infamous 1948 memoir and polemic Ah! Sweet Idiocy! (also in the TAFF ebook library), Francis Towner Laney also published much other notable work in his own and others’ fanzines. In addition to a generous helping of Laney’s best writing other than Ah! Sweet Idiocy!, it includes a new introduction by Robert Lichtman and memoirs of “FTL” by Robert Bloch, Charles Burbee, Terry Carr and Jack Speer.
This first ebook edition is produced with the kind permission of Robert Lichtman and the welcome support of Pat Virzi, who provided the text in PDF format, now also available at Bill Burns’s eFanzines.com. The PDF download button above gives this 10Mb PDF (with all print layout, artwork, photographs etc) rather than the usual quick-and-dirty conversion from ebook format.
(7) SLF NEEDS GRANT JURORS. The Speculative Literature Foundation announced on Facebook they need jurors to read applications for the A.C. Bose Grant.
Ideally, we’re looking for people who are well read in science fiction, fantasy and horror, but we’d also like a mix of readers, writers, librarians, teachers, editors, etc. who are capable of judging literary quality in a work. The honorarium is $25.
Please note: We’d love to have South Asian and South Asian diaspora jurors for the AC Bose Grant, but it’s not a requirement.
Please contact Catherine (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Sir Julius Vogel Award nominations for the 2021 calendar year are now open. The nomination period will close at 11:59pm on 31st March 2022. The SJV awards recognise excellence in science fiction, fantasy, or horror works created by New Zealanders and New Zealand residents, and first published or released in the 2021 calendar year. Anyone can make a nomination and it is free!
(9) TANGLED WEBS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This Spider-Man blooper reel dropped two days ago. I thought what was most interesting was how much of the Spider-Man: No Way Home sets were real and what was CGI.
(10) BETTY WHITE. Actress Betty White died today, a few weeks short of her hundredth birthday. The New York Times obituary is here: “Betty White, a TV Fixture for Seven Decades, Is Dead at 99”. Although White performed a vast number of roles in her long career, only a few were genre. She was a Woman in Window encountered by the Dynamic Duo in Return to the Batcave (2003). She did voice work in several animated Christmas movies, and also on the Hercules TV series (1999), The Simpsons (as herself, 2007), The Lorax (2012), SpongeBob SquarePants (2016), and as a toy tiger named Bitey White in Toy Story 4.
Betty White, who created two of the most memorable characters in sitcom history, the nymphomaniacal Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and the sweet but dim Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls” — and who capped her long career with a comeback that included a triumphant appearance as the host of “Saturday Night Live” at the age of 88 — died on Friday. She was 99.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1931 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Ninety years ago, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a horror film directed by Rouben Mamoulian premiered. The screenplay was by Samuel Hoffenstein and Percy Heath. It starred Starring Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins and Rose Hobart. It was a box office success making on piece three million on a budget of a million dollars. Critics loved it, and March won the award for Best Actor, sharing the award with Wallace Beery for The Champ. It has a most excellent eighty percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 31, 1937 — Anthony Hopkins, 84. I think one of his most impressive roles was as Richard in The Lion in Winter but we can’t even call that genre adjacent, can we? Well, we can as it’s alternate history. He was, during that period, also King Claudius in Hamlet. I’ll say playing Ian McCandless in Freejack is his true genre role, and being Professor Abraham Van Helsing in Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a plum of a genre role. It’s a better role that he as Odin has the MCU film franchise. What else to note? What have I missed that I should note?
Born December 31, 1943 — Ben Kingsley, 78. Speaking of Kipling, he voiced Bagherra in the live action adaptation that Disney did of The Jungle Book. He was also in Iron Man 3 as Trevor Slattery, a casting not well received. He’s The Hood in Thunderbirds (directed by Frakes btw), Charles Hatton in A Sound of Thunder and Merenkahre in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, the third of three great popcorn films.
Born December 31, 1945 — Connie Willis, 76. She has won eleven Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards for her work, a feat that impresses even me! Of her works, I’m most pleased by To Say Nothing of the Dog, Doomsday Book and Bellwether, an offbeat novel look at chaos theory. I’ve not read enough of her shorter work to give an informed opinion of it, so do tell me what’s good there. She’s very well stocked at the usual suspects and a number of her works qualify as Meredith moments.
Born December 31, 1949 — Ellen Datlow, 72. Let’s start this Birthday note by saying I own a complete set of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror which yes, I know it was titled The Year’s Best Fantasy for the first year. And I still read stories from them from time to time. If that was all she had done, she’d have been one of our all-time anthologists but she also, again with Terri Windling, did the Fairy Tale and Mythic Fiction series, both of which I highly recommend. On her own, she has the ongoing Best Horror of Year, now a decade old, and the Tor.com anthologies which I’ve not read but I assume collect the fiction from the site. Speaking of Tor.com, she’s an editor there, something she’s also done at Nightmare Magazine, Omni, the hard copy magazine and online, Sci Fiction webzine and Subterranean Magazine. And yes, she won a number of Hugos for her editing including one this year which she richly deserved.
Born December 31, 1953 — Jane Badler, 68. I first encountered her on the Australian-produced Mission Impossible where she played Shannon Reed for the two seasons of that superb series. She’s apparently best known as Diana, the main antagonist on V, but I never saw any of that series being overseas at the time. She shows up in the classic Fantasy Island, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, Bitch, Popcorn & Blood and Virtual Revolution.
Born December 31, 1958 — Bebe Neuwirth, 63. Ok she’s had but one television SF credit to her name which is playing a character named Lanel in the “First Contact” episode of the Next Gen series during season four, but I found a delightful genre credential for her. From April 2010 to December 2011, she was Morticia Addams in the Broadway production of The Addams Family musical! The show itself was ongoing up until the Pandemic started.
Born December 31, 1959 — Val Kilmer, 62. Lead role in Batman Forever where I thought he did a decent job, Madmartigan in Willow, Montgomery in The Island of Dr. Moreau, voiced both Moses and God in The Prince of Egypt, uncredited role as El Cabillo in George and the Dragon and voiced KITT in the not terribly well-conceived reboot of Knight Rider. Best role? Ahhh that’d be Doc Holliday in Tombstone. Nope, not even genre adjacent but I really, really love that film.
(13) JOINING GENRES. Clarion West will be offering a free online discussion – “Fantastic Intersections: Speculative Fiction and Romance” — on January 29, 2022, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Pacific. The participants will be Zen Cho, S. A. (Austin) Chant, C. L. Polk, KJ Charles, and L. Penelope, moderated by Rashida J. Smith. Register at the link.
From the sublime and magical to the stirring and steamy, storylines centering BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ characters are flourishing in the romance and speculative genres. We’ll tackle the nuance of building romance into the plot vs. romance as the plot, the role of the HEA or HFN in representation, and the future of the fantastic in romance.
…The story drove me on, because I wanted to read it all and find out what really happened. There is a central mystery to it – the opening cinematic sets it up beautifully. Why did the Blessed Isles fall? What is the Harrowing? You get some solid answers by the end. It’s like reading a novel while playing it as well. It was an experience I very much enjoyed. In addition to the main story there were the individual tales of each of our six main characters as well as bits of lore featuring dozens of other characters, some related and some not, that you just find as you explore the world….
… Anchoring the success of these films were the layered human performances amid all the green-screen effects. Here are a dozen actors who especially delivered depth within their superhero universes…
4. Margot Robbie (‘The Suicide Squad’)
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in 2021’s “The Suicide Squad.” (Warner Bros./Everett Collection)
Playing the relentlessly resourceful Harley Quinn,Robbie is reliably the most electric presence in DC’s sprawling team-up movies, dropping coy one-liners with as much force as her violent blows. She again steals entire scenes in James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad,” and with each own-the-screen DC outing, including “Birds of Prey,” she proves that her radiant Harley could carry solo movies in between the “Suicide” squadfests.
(16) WITH SHARP, POINTY TEETH. [Item by Michael Toman.] Have to wonder what, say, Dylan Thomas, (“A Bright Child From Wales!”) would have done with this Late-Breaking Holiday News Update. “Bloodthirsty, ‘Psycho’ Squirrel Attacks 18 in Small Town Christmas Rampage” reports Newsweek. Will there be a movie from some of the Folks at The Asylum, the ones who gifted us with the “Sharknado Franchise?” Or maybe this needs to become an Uncuddly, Unwarm, Unfuzzy Picture Book? “What a world, what a world!”
A Welsh town is being held in the grip of fear by a most unusual source, a grey squirrel that is attacking residents.
Wales Online reported that the serial squirrel has indiscriminately attacked pensioners, pets, and children, jumping at people taking out the garbage, and been chasing after people down streets as they flee.
(17) DIANA GALLAGHER VIDEOS. Fanac.org’s Edie Stern introduces these Eighties recordings of Diana Gallagher singing filksongs.
Diana Gallagher is now known primarily for her science fiction media novels. However, especially early in her fannish career, she also impressed as a filk songwriter/performer, and a fan artist. She received several Pegasus Awards, as well as the 1988 Fan Artist Hugo Award. As her songs often show, Diana was also an avid supporter of the space program. She passed away in December 2021.
This recording was made in our living room in the early 1980s. At that time, she was a member of the local science fiction group, and an avid filker. She was our friend. This recording is excerpted from a longer filk recording, and features her performances of five songs (of which 4 were written by her). Many thanks to our Filk Consultant, Eli Goldberg and to our Sound Editor, Luke Bretscher for their help with this recording.
Here are links to all five videos — 1. Planetbound Lovers (0:05) 2. Following (2:52) 3. Free Fall (5:23) 4. Starsong (7:30) 5. Mary O’Meara (10:12)
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl,” Fandom Games says this Nickleodeon smash compilation is meant for gamers who ask, “Say, what would happen if Garfield fought SpongeBob?” and that Nickelodeon is basically a network for “not so nuanced sex jokes and covering kids in sludge.”
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]
(1) OMENANA. The new issue of Omenana Speculative Fiction Magazine is available to read online. The tri-monthly magazine takes submissions from speculative fiction writers from across Africa and the African Diaspora.
Omenana is the Igbo word for divinity – it also loosely translates as “culture” – and embodies our attempt to recover our wildest stories. We are looking for well-written speculative fiction that bridges the gap between past, present and future through imagination and shakes us out of the corner we have pushed ourselves into.
(2) WINNIPEG WORLDCON BID. The Winnipeg in 2023 Worldcon bid will hold a “Question Time” Zoom session on Sunday, July 25, at 1:00pm CDT. The session will also be streamed live on their YouTube channel.
We will start off with standard questions and then take submitted questions. Questions may be submitted via our social media accounts , Discord server and our “Contact Form“. During the session, questions may be submitted through Zoom and YouTube chat. As with all “Question Time”, moderation will be applied.
(3) SUMMIT MEETING. There’s a photo on the Chicago Worldcon Facebook page showing that Chicon 8 Chair, Helen Montgomery, and DisCon III Chair, Mary Robinette Kowal, “met up in DC yesterday for convention strategizing. They have Plans with a capital P for their attendees!”
Sources say that Outlier Society has hired a writer who is currently working on the script, though we were unable to ascertain their identity. Though it was initially unclear whether the Val-Zod project would be a movie or a limited series, sources have since reached out to clarify that as of right now, it is, in fact, being written as a limited series that Jordan will produce and possibly even star in, though he has yet to officially commit on the latter front.
As previously reported, J.J. Abrams and his company Bad Robot are set to produce a Black Superman movie for Warner Bros. that is expected to follow the Kal-El/Clark Kent version of the character. Though Clark Kent is traditionally depicted as white in the DC comics, the character will be played by a Black actor in the Bad Robot movie, which will likely be directed by a Black filmmaker, as Abrams is simply expected to produce. Author and cultural critic Ta-Nehisi Coates is already hard at work on the script for that project.
While Jordan did work with Warner Bros. on developing a Black Superman movie at one point, he recently shot down rumors that he would star in Abrams’ new film, saying “I’m flattered that people have me in that conversation. It’s definitely a compliment, but I’m just watching on this one.”
The question is, why?
A recent editorial penned by Jamie Broadnax for Black Girl Nerds provides some context and prompted Collider to do some digging, as Broadnax’s sources told her that “Jordan has not wanted to engage in conversations about racebending Kal-El for the same reasons many of the fans are pushing back on the current Warner Bros. re-imagined version of Clark Kent, but that he would be interested in engaging on a Black Superman project centering on the Val-Zod storyline.”
(5) CANADIAN SFF HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES. Stan Hyde, the late Monica Hughes, and Jean-Louis Trudel are the 2021 inductees into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame reports Robert J. Sawyer. He and Carolyn Clink, along with fellow jurors Clint Budd, Marcie Tentchoff, and Chris Sturges, made the selections. Here are excerpts from the citations (full text at the link).
Stan Hyde is an exemplar of passionate, lifelong devotion to SF&F fandom and fan activity, specifically in the areas of club organization, writing, film media, and model kit making, painting, and collecting.
Stan is also noted for the numerous articles he has written for G-Fest, a magazine devoted to the topic of Godzilla, about whom Stan is a world-renowned expert and recognized as such by Toho Studios where he is always welcome. (He visits once every two years on average.)
Monica Hughes (1925-2003), an Officer of the Order of Canada, wrote about 40 books including more than 20 that ISFDB covers as speculative fiction novels. Although she spent a large part of her life writing, she was almost fifty when her first book was published (Gold-Fever Trail: A Klondike Adventure, a Canadian historical novel.) …Invitation to the Game (Toronto: HarperCollins, 1990) won the Hal Clement Award as the year’s best science fiction novel for young adults.
Jean-Louis Trudel holds degrees in physics, astronomy, and the history and philosophy of science. Since 1994, he has authored (alone or in collaboration with Yves Meynard as Laurent McAllister) three science fiction novels published in France, four fiction collections, and twenty-six young adult books published in Canada…. He has received several literary distinctions, including the “Grand Prix de la Science-Fiction et du Fantastique québécois” in 2001 and several Prix Aurora Awards.
Can anyone explain how there’s a hole in the Earth — the kind that supernaturally swallows up hapless Los Angeles residents and spits them out in the frightening primeval past? That’s just the first mystery launching with NBC’sLa Brea, the highly awaited sci-fi series that’s set to make its TV debut this fall….
On the other side of the time warp are Gavin’s wife and son, all while a “disparate group of strangers” work alongside the family’s stranded half to “uncover the mystery of where they are and if there is a way back home,” according to NBC’s earlier series description. Are all these stuck strangers merely the random victims of fate, or might they be connected by something deeper?
Bob Gale is asking fans not to be too hard on Netflix for a censored version of Back to the Future: Part II, which was streaming for a short while.
Fans of the series were irate when they discovered a tiny portion of the 1989 sequel was changed, poorly. It has since been replaced with the standard version. The alteration happened when Marty (Michael J. Fox) finds the Oh La La magazine within the sports almanac dustcover. The moment was cut short, with the cover of the magazine edited out.
Gale, the screenwriter of the beloved trilogy, explained what happened and why it was not Netflix’s fault.
(10) PATRICIA KENNEALY-MORRISON (1946-2021). Author Patricia Kennealy-Morrison died a few days ago reported Liz Williams on Facebook. She wrote eight books and a collection of short stories in her genre series The Keltiad. She also wrote the Rennie Stride mystery series. She was a widely-read rock journalist, and widow of the late Jim Morrison of The Doors.
(11) MEMORY LANE.
2003 – Eighteen years ago at Torcon 3, Neil Gaiman wins a Hugo Novella for Coraline. (Other nominated works were “Bronte’s Egg” by Richard Chwedyk, “Breathmoss” by Ian R. MacLeod, “A Year in the Linear City” by Paul Di Filippo, “The Political Officer” by Charles Coleman Finlay and “In Spirit” by Pat Forde.) It also won a Nebula, a Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book and a BSFA Award for Short Fiction, along with a Stoker for Superior Achievement in a Work for Young Readers. It would become an animated film written and directed by Henry Selick, and both musicals and operas were based off it.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 24, 1878 — Lord Dunsany whose full name and title was a jaw dropping Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany. So ISFDB lists him as genre for the Jorkens body of work among works. H’h. Gary Turner, who some of you will recognize from Golden Gryphon Press and elsewhere, reviewed The Collected Jorkens: Volumes One, Two, and Three for Green Man, so I’ve linked to the review here. They also list The King of Elfland’s Daughter which I’m going to link to another review on Green Man as it’s a audio recording with a very special guest appearance by Christopher Lee. (Died 1957.)
Born July 24, 1916 — John D. MacDonald. Though better known for the Travis McGee series which I really like, he wrote three genre novels of which I think the best by far is The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything. He also wrote some sixty genre short stories, many of them collected in End of The Tiger which is available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 1986.)
Born July 24, 1936 — Mark Goddard, 85. Major Don West, the adversary of Dr. Zachary Smith, on Lost in Space. Other genre appearances were scant. He played an unnamed Detective in the early Eighties Strange Invaders and he showed up on an episode of The Next Step Beyond which investigated supposed hauntings as Larry Hollis in “Sins of Omission”. Oh and he was an unnamed General in the Lost in Space film.
Born July 24, 1951 — Robert Hood, 70. Australian horror writer who won a William Atheling Jr. Award for Criticism or Review for “Weight of Water: Vengeance from Beyond the Grave?” and another Atheling for “Divided Kingdom: King Kong Versus Godzilla”. The latter is included in David Brin and Leah Wilson’s King Kong Is Back! An Unauthorized Look at One Humongous Ape. He won a Ditmar for his Daikaiju! Giant Monster Tales collection, and an Australian Shadows Award for his Peripheral Visions: The Collected Ghost Stories.
Born July 24, 1951 — Lynda Carter, 70. Wonder Woman of course. But also Principal Powers, the headmistress of a school for superheroes in Sky High; Colonel Jessica Weaver in the vampire film Slayer; Moira Sullivan, Chloe Sullivan’s Kryptonite-empowered mother in the “Prodigy” episode of Smallville; and President Olivia Marsdin In Supergirl. She has a mid credit appearance in Wonder Woman 1984 as Asteria.
Born July 24, 1964 — Colleen Doran, 57. Comics artist and writer. The work she’s done includes Warren Ellis’ Orbiter graphic novel, Wonder Woman, Legion of Superheroes, Teen Titans, the “Troll Bridge” by Neil Gaiman and her space opera series, A Distant Soil. She also did portions of The Sandman, the “Dream Country” and “A Game of You”. She’s tuckerized Into Sandman as the character Thessaly.
Born July 24, 1971 — Patty Jenkins, 50. Director of Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman 1984, she appears in Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics as herself in ‘The Truth About Wonder Woman’ episode. She’s the director and producer of the forthcoming Star Wars film, Rogue Squadron. She’ll also be directing Gal Gadot in Cleopatra.
Born July 24, 1981 — Summer Glau, 40. An impressive run in genre roles as she’s was River Tam in the Firefly series and of course the Serenity film, followed by these performances: Tess Doerner in The 4400, as Cameron in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Bennett Halverson in Dollhouse (is this worth seeing seeing?), Skylar Adams in Alphas, and Isabel Rochev who is The Ravager in Arrow. Her latest role is Miss Jones (The Water Wu) on The Wu Assassins series.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Speed Bump introduces a familiar character whose phone asks a well-known question.
Science Fiction was extraordinarily popular in the 1940s and 1950s — and so were books about U.F.O.s. Coverage of mysterious objects in the night sky was plentiful in The Times, too. On July 6, 1947, the front page featured an article headlined “Flying Saucers Mystify Experts; May Be Prank of Nature.” Two days later, a follow-up appeared, also on the front page, with a more provocative headline: “‘Disks’ Soar Over New York, Now Seen Aloft in All Colors.” It should perhaps come as no surprise that those years saw the Book Review filled with ads looking to sate this interest in the extraterrestrial and dystopian.
(16) LOOKS FAMILIAR. [Item by David Doering.] Surely this design is no accident! Whoever designed this high school in PA deserves a medal. (Or at least a Hugo.) I wonder if the school mascot is the Falcon??
(17) NOLAN APPRECIATION. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Scott Zicree, in “Logan’s Run Writer Passes Away”, remembers the help William F. Nolan gave him when Zicree was researching his Twilight Zone book.
…And he was an astonishing man. He was basically — the great thing about Bill Nolan was not only was he very articulate and very enthusiastic but he had kept notes on everything and recordings on everything and so he knew an enormous amount about Charles Beaumont and Ray Bradbury and all of these characters who were central to what i was working on but also central to science fiction…
(18) TALK TO THE DOCTOR. Louis Moorhouse, a blind fan who’s been raising money for Living Paintings, to make a set of Touch to See books about Doctor Who, interviews Tom Baker in this YouTube video.
Blind Doctor Who super fan meets one of his heroes, Tom Baker, thanks to inspirational fundraising campaign. Louis,19, from Bradford, has been blind since he was 18 months old. A few weeks ago, Louis launched a fundraising campaign on Crowd Funder in an attempt to raise £15,000 to make it possible for a charity, Living Paintings, to make a set of Touch to See books which will bring him and other blind and partially sighted people closer to the incredible world of Doctor Who. Having blasted through his first fundraising target Louis is now looking to raise an incredible total £25,000 to support the charity that has helped him since he was two years old. Louis says of his motivation to carry on with the campaign:“Living Paintings has had such a hugely positive impact on my life, from the first time I received a book and found out what Thomas the Tank Engine looks like (until then I had no idea what a train with a face could possibly mean), to helping me learn to read and express myself. I wouldn’t be who I am today without this wonderful charity and I hope people continue to support me on this journey so I can help other children facing the struggles I overcame with their help.” Louis and Living Paintings have been overwhelmed by the support shown by the Doctor Who community and this week he met one of his favourite ever Doctors on Zoom, the wonderful Tom Baker.
(19) MUSIC OF THE SPHERES. This is a NASA video that dropped on July 14 about June flybys of Jupiter and Ganymede.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Jannie Shea, David K.M. Klaus, David Doering, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]
(1) BEYOND “MY BAD”. In this video Cat Rambo offers pro tips about “How to Screw Up”. Which maybe you thought you already knew how to do, right? That’s probably true. Cat’s advice is really about what to do afterwards.
(3) WOMEN’S PRIZE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The shortlist for the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction, an important UK literary award, has been announced. Piranesi by Susannah Clarke is one of the finalists. Another finalist is at least borderline SF and yet another is a crime novel: “Women’s prize for fiction shortlist entirely first-time nominees” in the Guardian. The winner will be announced July 7, and receive £30,000.
(4) DOCTOR WHO BLOG TOUR. Titan Comics’ Doctor Who: Vol. 1: Alternating Current blog tour will be visiting File 770 on May 24 to share an art preview.
(5) NO STARTING GATE. In “The Art of Worldbuilding In Media Res” on CrimeReads, Nicole Kornher-Stace recommends novels by Lauren Beukes, Hannu Rajanemi, and Stephen Graham Jones for readers who want to start their novels with an action scene without a lot of backstory about how the world you are creating operates.
…Stephen Graham Jones’s The Only Good Indians starts practically in the middle of a parking-lot bar brawl, full of asides about events and characters that will make no sense to you until you get further in, but you’re being reeled into the story one sucker-punch of a sentence at a time. You don’t care that you don’t understand yet. You don’t need to. You’re immersed, and you realize distantly that you have no idea who or what is being referenced in some of these asides, but by that point you’re in it up to the eyeballs, and the only way out is through….
Following the deadly events at home, the Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe) must now face the terrors of the outside world as they continue their fight for survival in silence. Forced to venture into the unknown, they quickly realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.
I don’t remember my dino chronology to know off-hand whether this is era-ologically inaccurate (were they all contemporaneous and in the Jurassic), but do we care?
I have several High Seas shirts already, they’re well made and worth the price.
I’d sent this to Robert J. Sawyer, since he’s a dinophile (or at least knowledgeable about ’em), for interest, along with my comment that I didn’t know enough to be sure whether the shirt was, chronologically, inaccurate/misleading. Here’s his reply, which he OK’d to use:
Robert J. Sawyer: “Very cool! They aren’t all contemporaneous, sadly. Triceratops (lower left) is the very end of the Cretaceous, for instance. But it’s a great-looking shirt!”
(8) NEW ATTITUDE. Here’s an art piece of Guilala, the kaiju in 1967’s The X From Outer Space — as a muppet. The artist is Melanie Scott/
Whatever’s happening underground at Hawkins, it definitely looks sinister… but then again, didn’t it always? Netflix is seemingly hinting that new evils are brewing for Stranger Things 4, and they’re unfolding mostly out of sight, inside the secret government lab that formerly served as Eleven’s supernaturally cold childhood home.
From his time drawing the iconic Milestone Media hero Static Shock while a junior at New York’s School of Visual Arts to his work on the genre-defining EarthX for Marvel in the late 1990s to his recent DC work with writer Kurt Busiek on Batman: Creature of the Night and the upcoming Batman/CatwomanSpecial, Leon brought his unmistakable take to everything that he touched.
DC executives and talent alike shared their thoughts across social media at the news of his passing. DC publisher and chief creative officer Jim Lee offered high praise for Leon, saying, “One of the greatest artists of our generation, he was also one of the nicest and most talented creators one could be lucky enough to have met.”…
(11) MEMORY LANE.
1971 –Fifty years ago, Mary Stewart won the first Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for The Crystal Cave. The other nominated works were The Marvellous Misadventures of Sebastian by Lloyd Alexander, Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz and Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny. She would later win another Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for The Hollow Hills novel. These would be her only genre awards.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 6, 1915 — Orson Welles. Certainly the broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” in 1938 was his pinnacle of genre success but he also did for the Federal Theatre Project the 1936 adaptation of Macbeth with an entirely African American cast. That was known as the Voodoo Macbeth which might give you an idea of what he did to it. He would later do a more straightforward film of Macbeth. And of course he made a most excellent radio Shadow as well! (Died 1985.) (CE)
Born May 6, 1923 – Gordon Davies. Ninety covers for us; some other work e.g. the Eagle Annual. Here is the Nov 52 Authentic. Here is Earthlight. Here is Space Cadet. Here is C. Brown ed., Alien Worlds. Here is M. Ashley ed., The History of the SF Magazine pt. 4. (Died 1994) [JH]
Born May 6, 1927 – Gerard Quinn. Fourscore covers, two hundred eighty interiors. Here is Gateway to Tomorrow. Here is Jack of Eagles. Here is a drawing that appears to have been auctioned at Loncon I the 15th Worldcon. Here is the Nov 61 New Worlds. Here is the Apr/May 82 Extro. Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here. (Died 2015) [JH]
Born May 6, 1946 — Nancy Kilpatrick, 75. Fangoria called her “Canada’s answer to Anne Rice”. I do recommend the anthology she edited Danse Macabre: Close Encounters with the Reaper as it’s a most excellent horror collection. She’s exceptionally well stocked at the usual suspects. (CE)
Born May 6, 1950 – Craig Strete, age 71. Six novels, threescore shorter stories for us; eight other novels. Did this cover for Red Planet Earth 2 while editor. First place in the 1984 Dramatists Guild – CBS New Plays Program. Sometimes uses the name Sovereign Falconer; he is Cherokee. [JH]
Born May 6, 1952 — Michael O’Hare. He was best known for playing Commander Jeffrey Sinclair on Babylon 5. Other genre appearances were limited — he played Fuller in the 1984 film C.H.U.D, was Jimmy in the “ Heretic” episode of Tales from the Darkside and appeared as a thug on the subway train in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. And yes he’s one of many Babylon 5 actors who died well before they should’ve. (Died 2012.) (CE)
Born May 6, 1955 – Barbara McClintock, age 66. Half a dozen covers for us. Here is The Red-Eared Ghosts. Here is a Complete Tales of Uncle Remus (who, I respectfully suggest, deserves study, even with our modern reservations, however late we have been with them, in hand). Various books and prizes; five NY Times Best Books, two Time Best Books. Sets and costumes for the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre Twelve Dancing Princesses. Illustrated for Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock. Website. [JH]
Born May 6, 1962 – Kamil Vojnar, age 59. Threescore covers. Here is Killing Time. Here is Flying in Place. Here is Others of My Kind. [JH]
Born May 6, 1969 — Annalee Newitz, 52. They are the winner of a Hugo Award for Best Fancast At Dublin 2019 for “Our Opinions Are Correct”. And their novel Autonomous was a finalist for the Nebula Award for Best Novel, John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Locus Award for Best First Novel while winning a Lambda Literary Award. They are also the winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short science fiction, ”When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis”. (CE)
Born May 6, 1983 – Ingrid Jonach, age 38. One novel for us; three others. “Once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.” [JH]
While Dilbert has (theoretically) found a cure to racism.
Danish cartoonist Wulffmorgenthaler’sMay 3 has Sauron visiting a construction side. Translation to English: “Hm… Well, I know art deco is beautiful, but we were thinking more like gothic and black for my tower…” Lise Andreasen says, “I love the orc driving The Eye around.)”
Channeling Loki himself, Disney+ decided to pivot without warning by moving the debut of the character’s Marvel Cinematic Universe TV show up two days to Wednesday, June 9. In fact, all episodes of Loki will now premiere on Wednesdays, instead of the usual Friday window that was reserved for WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Tom Hiddleston confirmed the news during a special video announcement that begins with an epic display of famous Marvel props: Iron Man’s helmet, Cap’s shield, and, of course, Thor’s hammer.
“Look, I’m sorry to interrupt,” Hiddleston says, abruptly cutting off the noble montage. “It’s just I’ve noticed that in these long superhero montages, Loki tends to get a bit left out, even though, arguably, he’s incredibly heroic himself [as well as] cunning and charming. I could go on, but maybe … why don’t I just prove it to you? Wednesdays are the new Fridays.”
Take a look at our ultimate trailer for Matt Reeves’ The Batman (2022), the trailer features footage from ‘The Batman Official Trailer’ as well as from previous Batman films and contains scenes that resonates with the actual plot for ‘The Batman’
(16) COMICS/GAME CROSSOVER. Here’s a clip promoting Batman’s entry into Fortnite.
Featured in the new Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point comics, Grab the Batman Zero Outfit in the Fortnite Shop now!
(17) A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY NOT SO FAR AWAY. Mike Dunford, a lawyer who does law streams on Twitch called The Questionable Authority, did a lawstream about the time Star Wars tried to sue the original Battlestar Galactica series for copyright infringement. The discussion of the lawsuit itself is here if people are interested. The stfnal part starts 50 minutes in. He created a cool intro to his talk:
Inspired by the displays of science fiction like the holodeck from Star Trek and the Princess Leia projector from Star Wars, a BYU electrical and computer engineering team is working to develop screenless volumetric display technologies. Led by Dan Smalley, BYU professor of electical engineering, the team uses laser beams to trap and illuminate a particle and then to move the particle and draw an image in mid-air. “Like a 3D printer for light,” these displays appear as physical objects to the viewer and, unlike a screen-based image, can be seen from any angle. In this demonstration of the technology, the team shows how they’ve created tiny animations of battle explosions and other images created completely with laser light. Smalley also provides an update on new research that shows how to simulate virtual images in a volumetric display (research published in the April 6, 2021 issue of Scientific Reports).
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Cat Rambo has lots of other good advice, in this video about “5 Tips for Story Submissions.”
I’ve talked before about sending out fantasy and science fiction story submissions. Here’s five tips (well, four and a half, really) about what to do once you’ve submitted a story.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, John Hertz, Dann, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Lise Andreasen, David Doering, Ben Bird Person, Cat Eldridge, Jennifer Hawthorne, Martin Morse Wooster, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
(1) CHANGING OF THE GUARDIAN. Lisa Tuttle has taken the handoff from The Guardian’s SF/Fantasy reviewer Eric Brown who ended his fifteen-year run in January. Tuttle’s first genre round-up will appear in The Guardian’s books section on Saturday, February 13.
In the wake of Gina Carano’s controversial social media posts, Lucasfilm has released a statement Wednesday night, with a spokesperson saying “Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future. Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”
Carano played bounty hunter Cara Dune on the first two seasons Lucasfilm and Disney+’s The Mandalorian, and it looked like we’d be seeing more of her. It appears not….
Following competitive bidding war, Apple Studios has landed Dolly, a new feature film with Academy Award-nominee Florence Pugh attached to star with Vanessa Taylor and Drew Pearce Penning the script. Insiders close to the project stress the project is not greenlit at this time as the script still needs to penned and a director still needs to be attached. Insiders go on to add that the package caught the interest of a total of four bidders that included multiple studios and another streamer with Apple TV+ emerging as the winner earlier this week.
The film is a sci-fi courtroom drama in which a robotic “companion doll” kills its owner and then shocks the world by claiming that she is not guilty and asking for a lawyer. The film, which is inspired by Elizabeth Bear’s short story of the same name, has elements of both classic courtroom drama and sci-fi….
Time travel is a genre unto itself, one that spans sci-fi, mystery, fantasy, history and more. But there are distinct categories of time travel narratives, each with its own set of rules—and each with a different baked-in outlook.
Getting to a taxonomy of time travel stories, the first question is—who or what is actually time-traveling? Because while the first stories we think of involve spaceships and Deloreans, the oldest time travel stories are stories about…
1. SEEING THE FUTURE
In these stories, it is actually INFORMATION that travels through time. And this might be the most scientifically plausible form of time travel, one that is already happening all the time on the quantum level….
(5) WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN. Robert J. Sawyer tells Facebook readers that 26 years ago Ace Science Fiction thought they were going to land a contract with Lucasfilm to produce a trilogy of novels outlining the origins of the alien races from the Star Wars universe:
Ace editor Ginjer Buchanan approached me to write those books, and before the license was finalized I produced an 11,000-word outline and also the first 11,000 words of the manuscript of volume one. But the deal fell apart — yes, they’d get a Lucasfilm license, but, no, I couldn’t use any of the actual STAR WARS races, and so I walked away. Since I was never paid for the work, I posted the material on my website as fan fiction.
(6) THE WORDS OF SFF. In the February 6 Financial Times, book columnist Nilanjana Roy discusses the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction website.
Skipping from ‘ecotopia’ (first used back in 1975) to ‘Frankenstein complex ‘(coined by Isaac Asimov in 1947 to describe the anxiety and distrust held by humans towards robots), a living history of science fiction began to take shape in my mind. The HDSF records language coined by eminent figures from the realms of literature and science, but also long-forgotten hacks who wrote stories for the pulps…
…The HDSF is full of surprises, even to an unabashed sf fan. Many entries are older than I imagined: ‘teleport’ might seem like a word dreamt up in the 1950s, for instance, but the first recorded instance comes from an 1878 mention in the Times Of India: ‘The teleport,.an apparatus by which men can be reduced to infinitessimal (sic) atoms, transmitted through the wire, and reproduced safe and sound on the other end!’ While “infodump” was first used in a 1978 conference on science.
(7) BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR. Someone who dismissed the Locus Recommended Reading List as “useless” was pointed at the “Tangent Online 2020 Recommended Reading List” which contains these introductory remarks by Dave Truesdale:
… Looking at short fiction over at least the past 10 years, a general observation can be made. It would appear that Woke Culture is as pervasive and cancerous as it has ever been for at least the past 10 years. The dearth of true originality when it comes to political or socially themed short fiction is becoming more and more apparent to those of us who have observed and studied the field for decades. Political Correctness has now infiltrated the field like a metastazing cancer, to the point where long time readers are beginning to voice complaints. The complaints arise not from what is published in the magazines or some of the original anthologies, but what is not being published. Identity Politics and the Cancel Culture have inserted themselves into the field to the extent that not only magazine fiction editors, but other areas of the SF field are bowing to intimidation and peer pressure to conform to the total obeisance the Woke doctrine demands….
When Marvel Comics first launched the character of Black Panther, it was in the July 1966 issue of “Fantastic Four.” As explained in this exclusive clip from the upcoming Disney Plus documentary “Marvel’s Behind the Mask,” premiering Feb. 12, the character of T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, was presented just like any other Marvel superhero — attention wasn’t paid to the color of his skin, but rather to the supreme quality of his abilities.
“The first Black superhero, Black Panther, comes out perfect,” says writer-director Reginald Hudlin, who wrote a run of Black Panther comics in the 2000s. “He’s this cool, elegant, handsome guy who’s just got it on lock.”
But as the clip also demonstrates, there’s one essential element of Black Panther that was glaringly incorrect: His skin is grey, not brown.
…Rather than shy away from its less than admirable history, the “Behind the Mask” filmmakers say Marvel’s executives were on board with a warts-and-all look at the company’s efforts with representation. “They were complete partners,” says Gary. “They accepted the fact that we were going to make some things uncomfortable.” The company even opened up its vault so the filmmakers could access the full range of its history.
“There were certain things that we needed to scan that weren’t part of the digital history, that were important to the storytelling,” says Simon. “We needed to get that older imagery out of the vault.”…
1971 — Fifty years ago at Noreascon I, Fritz Leiber wins the Hugo for Best Novella with “Ill Met in Lankhmar”, one of his Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser tales. It was originally published in the April issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction. The other nominees were “The Thing in the Stone” by Clifford D. Simak, “The Region Between” by Harlan Ellison. “The World Outside” by Robert Silverberg and “Beastchild” by Dean R. Koontz.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 11, 1898 – Leo Szilard. Vital in the Manhattan Project; first to connect thermodynamics and information theory; filed earliest known patent applications for the electron microscope, the linear accelerator, and the cyclotron (but did not build all these, nor publish in scientific journals, so credit went to others; Lawrence had the Nobel Prize for the cyclotron, Ruska for the electron microscope). Present when the first man-made self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was achieved in the first nuclear reactor; shook Fermi’s hand. Credited with coining the term “breeder reactor”. Half a dozen short stories for us. To him is attributed “We are among you. We call ourselves Hungarians.” (Died 1964) [JH]
Born February 11, 1910 — L. T. C. Rolt. English writer whose enthusiasm for heritage railways is writ large in his 1948 Sleep No More collection of supernatural horror stories which tend to be set in rural railways. (Simon R. Green may be influenced by him in his Ghost Finders series which often uses these railways as a setting.) Some of these stories were adapted as radio dramas. Sleep No More isavailable from the usual digital suspects. (Died 1974.) (CE)
Born February 11, 1915 – Mabel Allan. Four novels, one shorter story for us; a hundred seventy books all told, some under other names; some in series e.g. a dozen about Drina Adams who at age 10 wants to be a ballerina and finally is. Here is the Mabel Project for reading MA’s books in chronological order. (Died 1998) [JH]
Born February 11, 1920 – Daniel Galouye. (“Ga-lou-ey”) Navy pilot during World War II; journalist; New Orleans fan who developed a pro career. Half a dozen novels, five dozen shorter stories. Guest of Honor at Consolacon, DeepSouthCon 6. Interviewed in Speculation. Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award. (Died 1976) [JH]
Born February 11, 1926 — Leslie Nielsen. I know the comic, bumbling fool who delighted generations of film goers. But his first starring role was as Commander John J. Adams in one of the finest SF films of all time Forbidden Planet. I am most decidedly not a fan of his later films but I think he’s brilliant here. (Died 2010.) (CE)
Born February 11, 1939 — Jane Yolen, 82. She loves dark chocolate so I send her some from time to time. She wrote me into a novel as a character, an ethnomusicologist in One-Armed Queen to be precise in exchange for finding her a fairytale collection she wanted. Don’t remember now what it was other than it was very old and very rare. My favorite book by her is The Wild Hunt which she’s signing a copy for me now, and I love that she financed the production of Boiled of Lead’s Antler Dance which her son Adam Stemple was lead vocalist on. (CE)
Born February 11, 1948 — Robert Reginald. He’s here because of two Phantom Detective novels he wrote late in his career which are most popcorn literature. (The Phantom Detective series started in 1936 so he used the Robert Wallace house name.) He has two series of some length, the Nova Europa Fantasy Saga and War of Two Worlds. Much of what he wrote is available from the usual digital sources. (Died 2013.) (CE)
Born February 11, 1950 — Alain Bergeron, 70. He received an Aurora Award for Best Short Story for “Les Crabes de Vénus regardent le ciel” published In Solaris number 73, and a Sideways Award for Alternate History for “Le huitième registre” (translated in English as “The Eighth Register” by Howard Scott). (CE)
Born February 11, 1953 — Wayne Hammond, 68. He’s married to fellow Tolkien scholar Christina Scull. Together they’ve done some of the finest work on him that’s been done including J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book and The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide. (CE)
Born February 11, 1965 – John Zeleznik, age 56. A dozen covers, a score of interiors. Here is Find Your Own Truth. Here is The Heart of Sparrill. Here is his Rifts Coloring Book. Here is a Magic: the Gathering card. Ten years in Spectrum anthologies. Website. [JH]
Born February 11, 1970 – Reinhard Kleist, age 51. Half a dozen covers, as many interiors. Here is Asimov’s collection Azazel. Here is Das Böse kommt auf leisen Sohlen (German, “Evil comes on quiet feet” – more literally Sohlen are soles – tr. Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes). [JH]
Born February 11, 1975 – Kathy McMillan, age 46. Two novels for us, four others (one got an Indies Award); eight resource books for educators, librarians, parents. ASL (American Sign Language) Interpreter. Website says Author & Language Geek. [JH]
When I was a kid, my mother used to tell me Chinese folktales before bedtime. My mother is an immigrant. She was born in mainland China and eventually made her way to the United States for graduate school.
She told me those stories so that I wouldn’t forget the culture that she had left. Even though I hadn’t ever experienced that culture firsthand, she wanted me to remember it.
Of all her stories, my favorites by far were about Sun Wukong, the monkey king. Here was a monkey who was so good at kung fu that his fighting skills leveled up to superpowers. He could call a cloud down from the sky and ride it like a surfboard. He could change his shape into anything he wanted. He could grow and shrink with the slightest thought. And he could clone himself by plucking hairs from his head and then breathing on them. How cool was that?…
…Turns out, my mother was pretty faithful. As I read it, I realized that American superheroes hadn’t replaced Sun Wukong in my heart after all. Superman, Spider?Man, and Captain America were simply Western expressions of everything I loved about the monkey king….
(14) THE MILLENNIUM HAS ARRIVED. The thousandth book by a woman reviewed on James Nicoll Reviews: “Just Keep Listening”.
K.B. Spangler’s 2021 coming-of-age space opera The Blackwing War is the first book in her Deep Witches Trilogy. It is set in the same universe as Spangler’s 2017 Stoneskin .
Tembi Stoneskin was rescued from abject poverty when the Deep, the vast, enigmatic entity that facilitates transgalactic teleportation, took a shine to her. As long as the Deep retains its affection for Tembi, she will be an ageless Witch, stepping from world to world as it pleases her. There is little chance Tembi will alienate the Deep.
There is, however, every chance she will alienate her superiors in the Witch hierarchy. Youthful Tembi is that most dreaded of beings, an idealist….
(15) YOU DON’T HAVE TO DIAL M ANYMORE. In “The Rise of the Digital Gothic” on CrimeReads, Katie Lowe says many of today’s Gothic novelists are coming up with plots that involve apparitions or other supernatural phenomena coming out of characters’ smartphones.
…But for all that this new technology gives, there’s also the sense of our personal spaces—the physical homes we inhabit—seeming always invaded by others, both strangers and not. They wander through, startling us with questions as we brew our morning coffee; scanning our living rooms while we’re on Zoom; liking our family photos as we crawl into bed. Our daily lives are interrupted constantly by apparitions: by the voices and figures of people who simply are not there.
This is not, however, a state of being sprung entirely from the pandemic—nor is it unique to fiction. In her 2014 essay “Return of the Gothic: Digital Anxiety in the Domestic Sphere,” critic Melissa Gronlund observed similarities between recent work in the visual arts. She suggests that artists using “the Gothic tropes of the uncanny, the undead, and intrusions into the home” in their work are searching for “a way to wrestle with daunting, ongoing questions prompted by current technological shifts: How has the internet affected our sense of self? Our interaction with others? The structures of family and kinship?”
(16) MARS MERCH. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum told people on its mailing list that the limited edition Mars Perseverance merchandise collection will only be available until February 21. (Click for larger images.)
… Forbes reports that there are two methods of creating transparent aluminum in common use today. The first method involves taking a powdered aluminum-magnesium compound that is subjected to high pressure and heated, a method used by the US Military, specifically the US Naval Laboratory. This method produces a somewhat cloudy material that needs to be polished prior to use. An alternative method, which creates a slightly stronger and much clearer material, also exists. This end-product is called aluminium oxynitride, sold under the name ALON.
People accept that fantasy creatures like unicorns and dragons do not really exist, and it was that kind of categorical thinking that led many Looney Tunes fans around the world to assume that a Tasmanian devil is not a real animal.
They’d never seen one before. They’d never heard of one before. It must be a made-up animal!
When the cartoon devil called “Taz” was introduced in cartoons in the 1950s, creator Robert McKinson had no idea he would be creating so much confusion with his brand-new character, which he never foresaw becoming such an icon….
(19) THAT’S CAT. They’re everywhere – on these altered versions of book covers – like the ferocious feline on the front of Arkady Martine’s A Desolation Called Peace.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Mask Up America” on YouTube is a PSA from WarnerMedia in which Wonder Woman, Harry Potter, and Humphrey Bogart urge you to wear masks.
[Thanks to Joel Zakem, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, Iphinome, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
… I have been appointed the new Division Head of the WSFS Division, which is the part of the Worldcon that admininsters the Hugo Awards, the Business Meeting which reviews the rules, and the Site Selection process for the 2023 Worldcon (currently contested between Chengdu, China and Memphis, Tennessee) – the three obligatory things that every Worldcon must do.
I was previously the Administrator of the Hugo Awards in 2017 and 2019, and one of the deputy administrators last year; and also Division Head for Promotions at the London Worldcon in 2014. I had not anticipated having any executive role this year, but life does not always work out as we expect.
The Hugos have had some reputational issues to deal with. Having fought off direct assault by ill-wishers in 2015 and 2016, some pretty significant mistakes were made more recently. Many of those were outside the immediate responsibility of the Hugo Administrators, including most notably the awful botching of last year’s Hugo ceremony and the Hugo Losers Party in 2019, and the hostile response from some in the community to the winners of the award for Best Related Work in both of those years (cases where I very much stand by the eligibility decisions that were made by teams that I was a part of).
I have made mistakes as well, and I hope that I have learned from them. In particular, it’s clear, not least from the problems that arose in the last few days, that the Hugos as a whole need to be less siloed and need to improve communication in both directions with the rest of the Worldcon and with the wider stakeholder community (as my work colleagues would put it). DisCon III had already started putting structures in place that would improve this side of things, and I look forward to working with those and building on them.
In the summer of 1982, Margaret Atwood walked into Bakka Books looking for a copy of “The Hobbit.” Robert J. Sawyer, the celebrated Canadian science-fiction writer who was then working behind the counter, couldn’t believe his luck.
“It was pretty amazing — she knew all about the store and how we specialized in fantasy and science fiction,” Sawyer recalls of his encounter at the bookstore when it was in its first home on Queen Street near John Street.
Atwood’s visit to pick up some Tolkien was a testament to the role the bookstore (now named Bakka-Phoenix Science Fiction and Fantasy Bookstore) plays in the literary community — not just in Toronto but beyond city borders too. On the cusp of celebrating its 50th anniversary, Bakka-Phoenix is the oldest sci-fi and fantasy specialty bookstore in the world. It’s long been a hub for aficionados of a genre that is rarely awarded more than a couple of shelves at most big-box bookstores. It’s the kind of bookstore that’s for fans of space operas and dystopian fiction, for readers hungry for the latest William Gibson saga and for those on the prowl for a rare Harlan Ellison story collection. “Bakka has always been a mecca to me,” says Sawyer.
Actor John Barrowman, who portrayed Captain Jack Harkness on Torchwood, has set off a Twitter frenzy with a post depicting a visit to a show landmark in Cardiff, Wales.
Barrowman posted a selfie in front of a shrine to the show’s Ianto Jones, who was Capt. Jack’s lover on the show and tragically died in his arms in a mini-series episode, Children of Earth.
On Friday, Barrowman paid an incognito visit to the impromptu shrine set up to honor the Ianto character in Cardiff, a site near where the series was filmed. The shrine is still very popular with fans 11 years after the television series death….
(4) EVERMORE PARK ALSO A COVID CASUALTY. [Item by David Doering.] As of yesterday, Evermore Park has cancelled any future performances at the park and has let the creative team go. Basically, the park will only be open for event rentals and strolling through. A sad loss due to Covid. Had it opened one year before or one year later, it might well have made it. “Evermore Park cancels winter production, dozens of employees laid off” at Yahoo!
Dozens of employees at Evermore Park in Pleasant Grove were laid off this week after it was decided there would be no winter-themed production, as well as other financial issues largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(5) A REAL FANNISH TED TALK.FANAC.orgwill host a fannish TED talk on Saturday, January 23 when author, editor, and past Worldcon chair Ted White will be interviewed by John D. Berry via Zoom. Time: 4 pm EST. Participants are limited. To get the Zoom log-in, please RSVP to email@example.com .
Ted White will be talking about his long history in fandom and some of the interesting people he has encountered along the way. Ted is considered by many to be the current patriarch of fannish fandom. He has been active since the very early 1950s, both publishing fanzines and in clubs from Virginia to New York. We have more different fanzine titles of Ted’s on FANAC.org than any other faned. In addition to the many titles he edited on his own, he has published many collaborative fanzines going back to the 1950s.
Ted has also chaired several conventions, including the 1967 Worldcon – the last Worldcon in New York. As a professional in the science fiction field, he has written stories, articles, and novels. He was the editor of Amazing Stories and Fantastic magazines, and has written extensively about the music industry.
John D. Berry has known and worked with Ted for over 50 years so he knows the questions to ask. And Ted has said that no topic is off the table.
You didn’t need to be a pubescent boy (or his father) to fully appreciate the charms of Maila Nurmi — a.k.a. Vampira — when she first appeared on late-night KABC-TV in the spring of 1954. But it didn’t hurt. She was tall, beautiful and frightening and she screamed like a banshee, climaxing each howl with a lewd lick of her full lips, which even in black-and-white glistened bloodily. Her pale body was almost a caricature of an hourglass figure, like one of those inexplicably bountiful women featured in the pinups of Joaquin Alberto Vargas, for whom Nurmi had modeled only a few years earlier. But what made Vampira most memorable was the jokes she slyly delivered at machine-gun speed: pop, pop, pop. She came heavily armed with oodles of sexy, macabre puns and she wasn’t afraid to use them.
In the early days, Vampira was asked by a Los Angeles Tribune columnist to tell a little bit about herself.
“There isn’t much to tell,” she said. “I was born in Lapland. … I have an owl for a house pet. I have a 19-inch waist, 38-inch bust and 36-inch hips. My earliest recollection as a child is that I always wanted to play with mice. I’m very anti-social. I simply detest people. I don’t like snakes; they eat spiders, and I’m very fond of spiders.” Asked how she felt about children, she didn’t miss a beat: “Oh yes … delicious.”…
Last year, Javicia Leslie was asked on a podcast what she wanted her next acting role to be.
“I said I wanted to be a superhero,” Leslie recalled recently toThe Washington Post.
In July, just two months after stating her desire, the star of “God Friended Me” and “The Family Business”answered the call to a bat-signal put up in the sky just for her — finding out she was the new star of the CW’s “Batwoman.” The announcement instantly made her the new face of the network’s successful tradition of televised superheroes….
… One norm going away is the trademark black eye makeup that every on-screen bat-hero since Keaton has worn under the mask — Rose eventually parted with itand Leslie will also decline.
“Being a woman of color, it was important that we didn’t black out my eyes,” Leslie said. “We wanted to play with light instead of playing with darkness to help accentuate me being a black woman in playing this role.”
Bob Suryan has passed away today. He was very active in the Seattle Astronomical Society, and Norwescon (including chairing a couple of the conventions). He loved history and folks enjoyed chatting with him about all sorts of things. He had his ups and downs with health over the years and about a week and half ago was admitted to the hospital due to lots of pain. Sadly this turned out to be stage four lung cancer.
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
January 17, 1992 — Freejack premiered. It starred Emilio Estevez, Mick Jagger, Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins. The screenplay was written by Steven Pressfield, Ronald Shusett (who was also the producer) and Dan Gilroy. We consider it to be very loosely adapted from Robert Sheckley’s Immortality, Inc. (Great work. The serialised version as “Time Killer” in Galaxy was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel.) It was not at the time well-liked by either critics or reviewers, not is it currently liked among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes as it is carrying a 25% rating and there’s a lot who have expressed an opinion — over fourteen thousand so far. (CE)
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
January 17, 1899 — Nevil Shute. Nevil Shute. Author of On the Beach. It originally appeared as a four-part series, The Last Days on Earth, in the London weekly Sunday Graphic in April 1957. It was twice a film. He has other SF novels including An Old Captivity which involves time travel and No Highway which gets a review by Pohl in Super Science Stories, April 1949. There’s In the Wet and Vinland the Good as well. (Died 1960.) (CE)
Born January 17, 1923 – Alva Rogers. Changing the name of the prozine Astounding to Analog has been applauded by some; AR wrote a Requiem. Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon XV. Co-chaired Baycon, the combined Westercon XXI and 26th Worldcon, famous in song and story. Co-edited Rhodomagnetic Digest 62, its last issue; AR’s wife Sidonie wrote a profile of Al haLevy and AR drew one. After SR died, AR married Andi Shechter, famous in song and story. (Died 1982) [JH]
January 17, 1927 — Eartha Kitt. Though you’ll have lots of folks remembering her as Catwoman from the original Batman, she appeared in but four episodes there. Genre wise, she was in such series as I-Spy, Mission: Impossible, Matrix, the animated Space Ghost Coast to Coast and the animated My Life as a Teenage Robot. Film wise, she played Freya in Erik the Viking, voiced Bagheera in The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story and was Madame Zeroni In Holes. (Died 2008.) (CE)
January 17, 1931 — James Earl Jones, 90. His first SF appearance was in Dr. Strangelove as Lt. Lothar Zogg. And I think I need not list all his appearances as Darth Vader here. Some genre appearances include Exorcist II: The Heretic, The Flight of Dragons, Conan the Barbarian as Thulsa Doom and I actually remember him in that role, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, did you know the 1995 Judge Dredd had a Narrator? Well he’s listed as doing it, and Fantasia 2000 as well. (CE)
January 17, 1935 — Paul O. Williams. A poet who won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer for The Breaking of Northwall and The Ends of the Circle which are the first two novels of his Pelbar Cycle. I’ve not read these, so be interested in your opinions, of course. (Died 2009.) (CE)
Born January 17, 1952 – Tom Deitz. A score of novels. Guest of Honor at Phoenixcon 8. Gainesville State College faculty member of the year, 2008. Phoenix Award. Co-founded local SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) barony. (Died 2009) [JH]
January 17, 1962 — Jim Carrey, 59. His first genre film is Once Bitten whose content is obvious from its name and which get a mere thirty-nine percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. The ‘dorable Earth Girls Are Easy was next followed up by Batman Forever in which he played a manic Riddler that I rather liked, then there’s the The Truman Show which was way cool. So may we not talk about How the Grinch Stole Christmas? (SHUDDER!) We settled last year that we think that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is genre. And I think that I’ll stop there this time. (CE)
Born January 17, 1967 – Wendy Mass, Litt.D., age 54. Ray Bradbury volume for Authors Teens Love. Of course I put that first, what Website do you think this is? A score of novels for us, half as many others; nonfiction e.g. Stonehenge, John Cabot. Schneider Award for A Mango-Shaped Space. Has read The Phantom Tollbooth and The Secret Garden. [JH]
January 17, 1970 — Genndy Tartakovsky, 50. Like Romulan Ale, animation style is a matter of taste. So while I like his work on Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars, I can understand why many SW fans don’t as it’s definitely an acquired taste. He also is responsible for directing the animated Hotel Transylvania franchise. (CE)
Born January 17, 1971 – Nomi Burstein, age 50. Technical writer, freelance editor. Collects neologisms, e.g. jan howard finder’s “bytelock”. Fanzine, Burstzine (with husband Michael Burstein). Years of patiently fielding questions about Jewish observance. Co-founder (with MB) of the Society for the Preservation of Pluto as a Planet. [JH]
Born January 17, 1981 – Rachelle Rosenberg, age 40. Color artist for Marvel, e.g. this and this and this. [JH]
What was the difference between what you did the ’50s, versus when you were in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s?
The ’70s women were allowed — it was almost like there is was a relaxation of women and social behavior, and so that would affect their voices and the tone that they can take. Instead of it being kind of a higher and level [like in the ’50s]. The ’70s, even though it’s this really strange “Brady Bunch” aspirational time in sitcom land, women were able to have a bit more control, something that grounded them a bit more in their voice. Then as we got into the ’80s, there were the teachable moments, and how sincere everything was, that was really funny. And then as we move into the arts and into the ’00s and the 2010s, the sitcom becomes really cynical. The humor, like “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Modern Family” becomes incredibly cynical. And that’s what we found comforting for whatever reason as a society.
It was fun when we were in this boot camp to not only chart the physical changes, as tools, but to also [discover] what comedy was for that time. “Rosemary’s Baby” is a film and “Brady Bunch” is on television, it doesn’t make any sense to me. But for whatever reason, that’s what that’s what the consumer was watching at home.
When I set up Wizard’s Tower Press, one of the things I wanted to do was create a semiprozine for non-fiction. It turned out that there wasn’t a market for such a thing at the time, and it closed after 9 issues. Then last year I saw Nicholas Whyte bemoaning the lack of interest in the Fanzine category of the Hugos. I’d already come to the conclusion that I needed some form of discipline to ensure I made time to read and review books, so I decided to relaunch Salon Futura as a fanzine. Thus far it has worked in that I have read a lot more books. I figure that if I ever get on the Hugo ballot again there will be a flood of new people voting in that category to stop me winning, and that will be the other objective achieved.
(15) VINTAGE OPINIONS. Gilbert Seldes lectures on science fiction in this 1953 recording of a WNYC broadcast “Science fiction writing” from The NYPR Archive Collections.
This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Seldes discusses the science fiction genre. He opens with a story about a science fiction story about the atomic bomb preceding the actual bomb, and the government’s response.
He speaks of the symbolism of the extraterrestrial as a symbol for invaders from behind the Iron Curtain.
Seldes notes that there is a lot of science fiction that he does not deem to be of good quality, but does speak very highly of Ray Bradbury and H. G. Wells
(16) CHINESE SFF MOVIE. The Shimmer Program announced “Another Chinese science fiction film, ‘The Soul’ has been released on big screen! The thriller is adapted from Jiang Bo’s story ‘The Soul Transplanting Skill’ and directed by Cheng Wei-hao.” (The Soul is not to be confused with Pixar’s Soul).
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, John Hertz, JJ, David Doering, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Joe Siclari, Olav Rokne, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
(1) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB virtual reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Lauren Beukes and Usman T. Malik on Wednesday, January 20 at 7 p.m. Eastern. Check back at their website or social media to get the link when it drops.
Lauren Beukes is a South African novelist, ex-journalist and sometime documentary maker who has written five novels, a pop history, a short story collection and New York Times best-selling comics. Her novel Zoo City won the Arthur C Clarke Award, The Shining Girls is soon to be a tv show for Apple with Elisabeth Moss, and won the University of Johannesburg Prize and the Strands Critics Choice Award among others. Her new book Afterland, about a world (almost) without men, is currently in development. She lives in Cape Town with her daughter.
Usman T. Malik
Usman T. Malik is a Pakistani-American writer and doctor. His fiction has been reprinted in several year’s best anthologies, including The Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy series, and has won the Bram Stoker Award and the British Fantasy Award. Usman’s debut collection, Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan, will be out in early 2021.
(2) COULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER. In search of prospects to nominate for the video game Hugo, Camestros Felapton explores another game he hopes will meet his criteria of “look[ing] like they might be interesting/notable from the perspective of science fiction & fantasy as a broad genre” — “Review: Spiritfarer (Nintendo Switch)”.
…However, the game I will nominate in this category isn’t Hades but a game set in a quite different afterlife: Spiritfarer. The two games couldn’t be more different and yet both borrow Charon the Ferryman and Hades as characters from Greek mythology and both use (different) genres of game play to lead you to interact with a series of characters from whom you learn about their lives (and deaths) and your own characters back story. Spiritfarer has fewer murderous, laser firing crystal things though.
The genre of gameplay is resource management and exploration. You have a ship with a small number of passengers and you sail between islands collecting resources and improving your ship. It’s all presented as 2D animation largely moving horizontally.
…Alternately called cosmic horror or Lovecraftian horror, this brand of story is focused on unknowable and ancient terrors. While the genre’s most iconic monster, Cthulhu, slumbers in a lost underwater city, cosmic horror just as often directly lives up to its name and comes from the cold of space or is lurking in isolated areas like Antarctica. The genre has few real heroes, mostly focusing on people who are already deeply flawed or struggling before they confront these horrors. While they may be killed, the protagonists are just as likely to be rendered insane or somehow fundamentally transformed into something as equally unknowable and terrible as the unspeakable creatures they have encountered.
But how did cosmic horror seep into the mainstream of movies, TV, and games? Let’s trace that history from D&D to True Detective to Nicolas Cage and beyond…
Speaking of hell, a study in the August 3 issue of the journal CurrentBiology revealed that the vast majority of members of a species of beetle, Regimbartia attenuata, perform a literally death-defying feat after being swallowed by various species of frogs. The beetle apparently swims its little heart out till it pops out of the frog’s derriere. Because, as another axiom has it, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
To find out whether the insect’s passage was active or passive, researchers immobilized some beetles by coating them with wax before going into the mouth of hell, or rather, frog. None of these beetles survived. To paraphrase science-fiction legend Harlan Ellison (who definitely would have come up with this experimental protocol if he’d lived long enough): they really don’t want to open their mouths, and they must scream.
…The Milky Way has been around for billions of years. In that time, life has not only had had plenty of time to evolve to an advanced level and achieve heights of technology even our wildest sci-fi dreams couldn’t fathom, but also to destroy itself.
“We found [self-annihilation of complex life] to be the most influential parameter determining the quantity and age of galactic intelligent life,” the physicists said in a study recently published in Astrophysics of Galaxies.
There were three types of limitations for the existence of aliens that the team studied. They considered the possibilities of abiogenesis, how long it might have taken (or be taking) for an intelligent civilization to evolve, and chances of such a civilization crushing itself. Abiogenesis is the idea of life spawning from things that are definitely not alive.
…Loeb says there are two big details that suggest Oumuamua wasn’t just a comet, but rather a piece of alien technology. The first detail is the object’s dimensions, as it was determined to be “five to 10 times longer than it was wide.” Loeb argues the cigar-like shape isn’t typical for a natural space object.
But the theoretical physicist says the biggest detail that supports his theory is Oumuamua’s movement.
“The excess push away from the sun, that was the thing that broke the camel’s back,” he said.
Loeb explains that the sun’s gravitational force would cause a natural object to move faster as it approaches, and eventually push the object back, causing it to move slower as it moves away. Loeb points out that this didn’t occur with Oumuamua, which accelerated “slightly, but to a highly statistically significant extent” as it moved further and further away.
“If we are not alone, are we the smartest kids on the block?” Loeb asked. “If there was a species that eliminated itself through war or changing the climate, we can get our act together and behave better. Instead, we are wasting a lot of resources on Earth fighting each other and other negative things that are a big waste.”
(7) HEADLONG RETREAT. R.S. Benedict has posted a new episode of the Rite Gud podcast.”I talk to writer/artist Sloane Leong about SFF’s retreat into childhood nostalgia, and the beauty of mature fiction.” Listen here.
As the world looks grimmer and grimmer, Millennials and Gen Xers retreat deeper and deeper into childhood nostalgia. Adults dominate fandoms meant for children, like Steven Universe, Young Adult fiction, and My Little Pony. Within SFF, many writers, readers and editors have begun to treat all media as though it were meant for children: It must be didactic and escapist and safe. But there are still some of us who want art to treat us like adults.
In this episode, writer and artist Sloane Leong joins us to talk about the power of embracing your inner grownup.
(8) ROBERTS STILL ALIVE. People sent links to articles reporting the actress death, however, actress Tanya Roberts is still alive at this writing according to TMZ.
(9) JAEL OBIT. Artist Jael died November 17 reports Locus Online — Jael (1937-2020). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says Jael did covers for Baen and DAW, as well as magazines. Jael’s work received eight Chesley Award nominations between 1995 and 2002.
She also appeared in the Doctor Who episode Planet Of Fire, starring Peter Davison as the fifth Doctor.
Her agent, Thomas Bowington, said: “She really was Hammer’s number one leading lady and the technicolour queen of Hammer.
…Shelley was also known for TV roles in series including The Saint, The Avengers, The Borgias, Blake’s 7 and Crown Court, and later played Hester Samuels in EastEnders.
Robert J. Sawyer praised Shelley’s performance in Quatermass and the Pit (1967) on Facebook in which she”played a completely professional scientist, paleontologist Barbara Judd, the female lead, in one of the best science-fiction films ever made.”He also posted a great quote from Shelly:
“I adored science fiction. When I was a very little girl my father used to have all these science fiction magazines and we used to go through them together. My mind had been opened up to science fiction by my father so when I got these scripts it wasn’t `What’s this rubbish?’ It was ‘that’s interesting.'”
(11) MEMORY LANE.
1971 — Fifty years ago, Larry Niven’s Ringworld would win the Hugo for Best Novel at Noreascon I over Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero, Robert Silverberg’s Tower of Glass, Wilson Tucker‘s The Year of the Quiet Sun and Hal Clement’s Star Light. It would also win the Locus, Nebula and Ditmar Awards, and Locus would later include it on its list of All-Time Best SF Novels before 1990. It would spawn three sequel novels and a prequel series as well which was co-written with Edward M. Lerner. One film and three series have been announced down the decades but none to date have been produced.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born January 4, 1882 – P.J. Monahan. Newspaper cartoonist, illustrator in the “pulp” days (when our and other magazines were printed on cheap pulp paper). Thirty covers, twenty interiors. Here is Semi Dual, the Occult Detector. Here is Thuvia. Here is the 26 Jun 20 All-Story Weekly – weekly! How’d you like to be the editor of that? To show PJM’s range, here is the 1 Sep 12 Leslie’s, and here is a portrait of Pope Pius X. (Died 1931) [JH]
Born January 4, 1882 – Violet Van der Elst. Twoscore short stories, half a dozen collections, for us. Starting as a scullery maid, she developed cosmetics including the first brushless shaving cream – don’t say we’ve made no progress – and grew rich; fought against the death penalty, threw her money and her mind into it, lost both, barely lived to see it abolished. (Died 1966) [JH]
Born January 4, 1890 — Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. Creator of the modern comic book by publishing original material in the early Thirties instead of reprints of newspaper comic strips. Some years later, he founded Wheeler-Nicholson’s National Allied Publications which would eventually become DC Comics. (Died 1965.) (CE)
Born January 4, 1904 – Dale Ulrey. Four covers, a dozen interiors. Also a comic-strip artist, notably Apple Mary, famous during the Depression, still running today as Mary Worth. Here is her Wizard of Oz. Here is an interior for Jaglon and the Tiger Fairies. (Died 1989) [JH]
Born January 4, 1927 — Barbara Rush, 94. She won a Golden Globe Award as the most promising female newcomer for being Ellen Fields in It Came From Outer Space. She portrayed Nora Clavicle in Batman, and was found in other genre programs such as the revival version of Outer Limits, Night Gallery, The Bionic Woman and The Twilight Zone. (CE)
Born January 4, 1930 – Ruth Kyle. Founding member of the Lunarians (New York club, famous in song and story). Hard-working Secretary of NYCon II the 14th Worldcon; married its chairman Dave Kyle; his tale of their honeymoon flight to Loncon I the 15th is here. Good cook, gracious hostess. Part of an adventure I had with Dave, see here (bottom of three). (Died 2011) [JH]
Born January 4, 1933 – Phyllis Naylor, age 88. A dozen novels for us; a hundred thirty all told; some 2,000 articles. Newbery Medal. Sequoyah Children’s Book Award. Mark Twain Readers Award. William Allen White Children’s Book Award. Kerlan Award. “What spare time? If I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing.” [JH]
Born January 4, 1946 — Ramsey Campbell, 75. My favorite novel by him is without doubt The Darkest Part of the Woods which has a quietly building horror to it. I know he’s better known for his sprawling (pun full intended) Cthulhu mythology writings but I never got into those preferring his other novels such as his Solomon Kane movie novelization which is quite superb. (CE)
Born January 4, 1958 — Matt Frewer, 63. His greatest role has to be as Max Headroom on the short-lived series of the same name. Amazingly I think it still stands thirty-five years later as SF well crafted. Just a taste of his later series SF appearances include playing Jim Taggart, scientist and dog catcher on Eureka, Pestilence in Supernatural, Dr. Kirschner in 12 Monkeys and Carnage in Altered Carbon. His film genre appearance list is just as impressive but I’ll single out Supergirl, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Stand, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (oh do guess where he is in it) and lastly Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, a series of films that I really like. (CE)
Born January 4, 1960 — Michael Stipe, 61. Lead singer of R.E.M. which has done a few songs that I could argue are genre adjacent such as “Losing My Religion”. But no, I’ve got him here for being involved in a delightful project called Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films. Lots of great songs given interesting new recordings. His contribution was “Little April Shower” from Bambi which he covered along with Natalie Merchant, Michael Stipe, Mark Bingham and The Roches. Fun stuff indeed! (CE)
Born January 4, 1981 – Sarah Crossan, age 40. Two books for us, seven others. Has read four each by Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf, two by George Eliot. [JH]
Born January 4, 1985 — Lenora Crichlow, 36. She played Cheen on “Gridlock”, a Tenth Doctor story. She also played Annie Sawyer on the BBC version of Being Human from 2009 to 2012, and she appeared as Victoria Skillane in the “White Bear” episode of Black Mirror. (CE)
Born January 4, 1985 – Lorenz Hideyoshi Ruwwe, age 36. A dozen covers. Here is Desert Stars. Here is The Sentinel. Here is Omni. Here is his page at ArtStation. [JH]
(13) THE SIGN OF THE Z. In the Washington Post, Michael Sragow notes the centennial of THE MARK OF ZORRO, the first Zorro movie. He notes that both Batman creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger and Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster say that Zorro’s twin identity as the masked crimefighter and the foppish Don Diego as a precursor to Batman and Bruce Wayne and Superman and Clark Kent. In addition, Sragow sees Zorro’s secret lair as a precursor of the Batcave and Lolita Pulido’s ditching Don Diego for Zorro as Lois Lane favoring Superman over Clark Kent. “On Zorro’s 100th birthday, the father of swashbucklers and superhero movies is still relevant”
…Like Tennyson’s Sir Galahad, Zorro has the strength of 10 because his heart is pure. He’s also irreverent and mischievous. His sparkle exudes hipness: He embraces the New World’s egalitarian ethos while his enemies defend the feudal past.
Zorro lifted spirits in the 1920s. In the 2020s, his ebullience can generate ecstatic highs.
During Fairbanks’s previous run as the parody hero of contemporary action comedies like “His Picture in the Papers,” fans came to think of him as “Doug,” a tribute to his offhand elegance — like Fred Astaire’s, a triumph of talent and willpower. Doug transports this knockabout grace into “The Mark of Zorro.” With his light heart and “can-do” demeanor — qualities the world embraced as quintessentially American — Zorro soon dominated action-film iconography. Cinema would never be the same.
(14) ZOOMIN’ DOWN THE ROAD. “Movin’ Right Along With Kermit The Frog and Fozzie Bear” on YouTube has Kermit and Fozzie welcoming the new year with dreams of a road trip and showing they know how to use Zoom.
Canada! Perhaps best known to fans of British soap operas, for whom it serves as that mysterious land to the west to which characters vanish after their purpose on the show has been served. Of course, all that is needed to learn far more about Canada than you would ever need or want to know is to get trapped in a conversation with a Canadian, uninvited exposition concerning their homeland being as natural to the average Canadian as it is any given inhabitant of a fictional utopia confronted by a woken sleeper from the pre-utopian past.
One might reasonably expect that most SF touching on Canada was written by Canadians and the Canadian-adjacent. Perhaps it is. Quite a lot of it is not. Here are five examples of Canada and Canadians in science fiction, as seen by foreign eyes.
First on the list is Bob Shaw, who’s challenging because he lived and worked in Canada for a period.
(16) HOPE HE GETS HIS MD. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The first baby of 2021 in one Alabama town has a possibly-unique name, Anakyn Gene Strange. Yeah, they changed the spelling of the first name a bit, but wouldn’t it be lovely if the young lad went into medicine. Think of it — Dr. Anakyn Strange. “‘The Force is Strong’ with Florence’s first baby in 2021”
Star Wars fans immediately know the reference when hearing the name Anakyn.
While it may not be spelled the same as it was in the series, Hope and Dusty Strange used the name on Florence’s first birth of 2021. Anakyn Gene Strange was born at 1:04 a.m. on January 1 at North Alabama Medical Center.
“There actually was a feeling of relief because 2020 was a horrible and challenging year,” she said. “It was the most pure way to start out the year.”…
(17) RAVENCON ANTHOLOGY KICKSTARTER. Michael D. Pederson, RavenCon 2022 chair, explains:
Being an April convention, we were forced to announce this year’s  cancellation three weeks before the convention. Needless to say, after having spent 11 months buying supplies and paying fees for the con we didn’t have much (read: any) capital left after refunding the vendors. And we still needed to refund about a third of our attendees that wanted money. And now that we’ve had to cancel for 2021 as well, we’re really stuck for funds. So, we created an anthology, with story donations coming from many of our regular programming guests as well as a few of my old Nth Degree contributors. We’re using the anthology to raise funds through Kickstarter. We funded the entire project on our first day and hit our first stretch goal a week later. We’re working on a second stretch goal and expect to announce a third stretch goal later this week.
Who would have thought that “cologne” is such a complicated word to spell correctly? Or it just might be that many people really are enjoying the smell of large intestine…
(19) LONG PLAYING. And long ago. This interesting discovery is available at Archive.org – “A Child’s Introduction To Outer Space: Jim Timmens” (1959) – with songs performed by The Satellite Singers, and dramatic readings, and a credit on the album cover to Scientific Advisor Willy Ley who won one of the first Hugos in 1953.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Wonder Woman 1984 Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says that the reasons why Steve Trevor appears in Wonder Woman 1984 have really creepy implications and that it’s highly unlikely that Wonder Woman could make an escape from the Smithsonian by stealing a fully fueled airplane from the Air and Space Museum.
[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Jeff Smith, Darrah Chavey, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]