By Cat Eldridge: Forty-six years ago on this date, the Rocky Horror Picture Show film premiered. But before we get to the film, we need to go back to the London show as the film is based off the music, book, and lyrics that Richard O’Brien did for that production, which was a parody tribute to the SF and horror B-movies of the Thirties through to the early Sixties. The stage show was produced and directed by Jim Sharman. The original London production of the musical premiered at the Royal Court Theatre (Upstairs) on June 19, 1973. It would move around to several locations during its run before closing on September 13, 1980 after a total of 2,960 performances. It would go to tour the world pretty much everywhere.
Now the film premiered just two years into the run of the London show. It was directed by Jim Sharman, and the screenplay by himself and O’Brien. (No surprise there.) it was produced by Lou Adler, co-owner of the Roxy Theatre which is where the live show had its first U.S. engagement, and Michael White who just produced Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in London’s West End.
The cast is phenomenal: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick and Meatloaf, along with cast members from the original Royal Court Theatre, Roxy Theatre, and Belasco Theatre productions, including Nell Campbell and Patricia Quinn. It is narrated by Charles Gray who was Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Diamonds are Forever.
Some critics liked it, some thought it “tasteless, plotless and pointless.” I think Time Out London summed it up best: “A string of hummable songs gives it momentum, Gray’s admirably straight-faced narrator holds it together, and a run on black lingerie takes care of almost everything else.” The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rocking eighty-five percent rating. And it has earned one hundred seventy million dollars to date on a total budget of one point four million dollars.
An entire post could be written on audience participation which includes dancing the Time Warp along with the film, and throwing such things as toast, toilet paper, hot dogs, and rice at the appropriate points in the movie. And, of course, responding to dialogue in the film. Dressing up is expected for these fans and many locals approach that of professional theatre companies In their acting skills.
A sequel by O’Brien was planned but obviously never happened. The title? Rocky Horror Shows His Heels.
Monday, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter became the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet. The Ingenuity team at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California confirmed the flight succeeded after receiving data from the helicopter via NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover at 6:46 a.m. EDT (3:46 a.m. PDT).
“Ingenuity is the latest in a long and storied tradition of NASA projects achieving a space exploration goal once thought impossible,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “The X-15 was a pathfinder for the space shuttle. Mars Pathfinder and its Sojourner rover did the same for three generations of Mars rovers. We don’t know exactly where Ingenuity will lead us, but today’s results indicate the sky – at least on Mars – may not be the limit.”
The solar-powered helicopter first became airborne at 3:34 a.m. EDT (12:34 a.m. PDT) – 12:33 Local Mean Solar Time (Mars time) – a time the Ingenuity team determined would have optimal energy and flight conditions. Altimeter data indicate Ingenuity climbed to its prescribed maximum altitude of 10 feet (3 meters) and maintained a stable hover for 30 seconds. It then descended, touching back down on the surface of Mars after logging a total of 39.1 seconds of flight. Additional details on the test are expected in upcoming downlinks.
… I am not a spacecraft engineer, nor do I know this robot personally. But I am mortal, and we mortals tend to anthropomorphize robots and even have fuzzy feelings toward them. (The exception: If their appearance falls into the “uncanny valley” category, they can creep us out instead). A whole assortment of research on the relationship between people and machines shows that we can’t help attaching our little human feelings to the little mechanical robots we build. And NASA knows it.
As with other robotic missions, NASA maintains a Twitter account for Perseverance, the rover that brought Ingenuity to Mars in February, and dispatches are written from the perspective of the machine. “I love rocks,” Perseverance tweeted in February to its followers, who currently number 2.7 million. “I’m on the move!” it exclaimed in March as it took its first drive. “I’ve taken my first selfie,” the rover said earlier this month, showing us a picture of its robotic frame, with Ingenuity in the background. NASA has already shared imagery of Ingenuity’s flight—from Percy, stationed nearby, and from the helicopter itself, which captured its shadow flitting across the surface of Mars….
…Slow sci-fi can be a peaceful read between more action-packed books, or can give you the chance to grapple with a futuristic or otherworldly concept on multiple levels. Don’t be fooled — slow doesn’t mean shallow, and sometimes thoughtful sci-fi can give the horrors of a dystopia more time to develop, really drawing back before landing that gut punch. Here are some lower-action, thoughtful sci-fi reads to add to your TBR pile.
(4) THE QUARTERMASS EXPERIMENT. Texas A&M Libraries will host “The Future at 25 Cents A Copy: The Material Culture of Pulp Science Fiction Magazines”, a virtual talk scheduled for Thursday, April 22 at Noon (US Central). The participants are Jeremy Brett, an Associate Professor at A&M’s Cushing Memorial Library & Archives, where he is both Processing Archivist and the Curator of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Research Collection; Anna Culbertson, head of Special Collections & University Archives at San Diego State University, and Andrew Lippert, Special Collections Processing Archivist at UC, Riverside who works with the Eaton Collection. Register at the link.
“The “Pulp Era” of the 1920s-1940s was crucial to the formation of the science fiction genre in the United States. Pulp magazines were colorful, exciting vehicles for the work of countless creators, many of whom became major names. Librarians from three institutions with major pulp collections—Texas A&M University, the University of California, Riverside, and San Diego State University—will discuss the literary and genre legacy of pulps, including their significance as examples of mid-century American material culture.”
(5) DO YOU KNOW? Lise Andreasen would like to poll the audience.
(2) In “Surface Tension,” James Blish, talks about sowing people in the universe. The premier scientist is Chatvieux.
Does anybody know, whether this is a coincidence?
(6) EUROVISION SONG CONTEST. In return, Lise Andreasen offers to enlighten people who keep asking: How can this movie be nominated for the Hugo? She forwards these snippets from the Wikipedia plot summary:
Sigrit, who believes in the old Icelandic tradition of elves, asks them to help them in the contest…
Katiana’s ghost appears to (redacted)…
Luckily, unseen elves save (redacted)…
(7) HOW MANY RINGS BEFORE YOU HANG UP? Marvel dropped a trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The movie will be (only) in theaters September 3.
(8) PROVING LOVE. Netflix will release Love, Death, And Rockets, Volume 2 on May 14.
The NSFW animated anthology returns with a vengeance. Naked giants, Christmas demons, and robots-gone-wild… Consume irresponsibly.
Is there another Scalzi story in the new series? Youth wants to know.
(9) PROGRAMMED FOR FAILURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the April 12 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber, discusses Disco Elysium, a role-playing game created by “Estonian novelist Robert Kurvitz and his friends during a night of drinking in 2005” and which won three gaming awards at the BAFTAs, the British equivalent of Oscars.
The brew of debauchery, failure, and resilience that marks this origin story is palpable in the 6,000 years of dense history Kurvitz and his team crafted around this detective game. The story unfolds across the impoverished district of Martinaise, abandoned by the law following a failed communist revolution and now under the heel of a corrupt labor union.
Your protagonist is similarly scarred, beginning the game with a bout of amnesia following a drug-fueled bender so destructive it makes Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas look like something for children. As you recover your memory it becomes apparent that you’re a cop with a murder case to solve, a task you are profoundly ill-equipped to handle. ‘The entire story is about how to react when you’re faced with failure,’ Helen Hindpere, lead writer on the Final Cut, tells me. ‘How do you come out of it? What do you do?’
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1981 — In 1981 at Devention Two, The Empire Strikes Back which was released the previous year by Lucasfilm won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. Other nominated works were Lathe of Heaven, the Cosmos series, The Martian Chronicles and Flash Gordon. It was directed by Irvin Kershner from the screenplay by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan with story by being George Lucas.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 18, 1907 — Alan Wheatley. Best remembered for being the Sheriff of Nottingham in The Adventures of Robin Hood, with Richard Greene playing Robin Hood. In 1951, he had played Sherlock Holmes in the first TV series about him, but no recordings of it are known to exist. And he was in Two First Doctor stories as Temmosus, “The Escape” and “The Ambush” where he was the person killed on screen by Daleks. (Died 1991.) (CE)
Born April 19, 1923 – Lygia Fagundes Telles, age 98. Camões Prize. Commander, Order of Rio Branco. Chevalier de l’Ordre des Artes et des Lettres. Grand officer, Order of Gabriela Mistral. Third woman elected to the Brazilian Academy of Letters. Called First Lady of Brazilian Literature. Fifteen stories for us available in English, see collection Tigrela. Many other works, many other awards. [JH]
Born April 18, 1925 — Hugh O’Brian. He was Harry Chamberlain in Rocketship X-M which you can see here as it’s in the public domain. (It was nominated in the 1951 Retro Hugo Awards given at Millennium Philcon but lost out to Destination Moon.) He would later play Hugh Lockwood in Probe, the pilot for Search, and Search itself, an SF series. His only other genre appearance I think was playing five different roles on Fantasy Island. (Died 2016.) (CE)
Born April 18, 1933 — W.R. Cole. Author of A Checklist of Science Fiction Anthologies, self-published In 1964. Ok, I’m including him today because I’m puzzled. SFE said of this work that ‘Though it has now been superseded and updated by William Contento’s indexes of Anthologies, it is remembered as one the essential pioneering efforts in Bibliography undertaken by sf Fandom.’ Was this really the first time someone compiled an index of anthologies? I seem to remember earlier efforts though I can’t remember precisely who. (Died 2002.) (CE)
Born April 18, 1935 — Herman Zimmerman, 86. He was the art director and production designer who worked between 1987 and 2005 for the Trek franchise. Excepting Voyager, in that era he worked on all other live-action productions including the first season of Next Gen, the entire runs of Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, as well as six Trek films. As Memory Alpha notes, “Together with Rick Sternbach he designed the space station Deep Space 9, with John Eaves the USS Enterprise-B and the USS Enterprise-E. His most recognizable work though, have been his (co-)designs for nearly all of the standing sets, those of the bridge, Main Engineering (co-designed with Andrew Probert) and Ten Forward for the USS Enterprise-D in particular.” Not surprisingly, he co-wrote the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual with Rick Sternbach and Doug Drexler. (CE)
Born April 18, 1946 — Tim Curry, 75. Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show of course, but it’s not his first genre appearance as a year earlier he’d been in the Scottish Opera’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Puck. And yes, I know that he appeared in the live show which was at the Chelsea Classic Cinema and other venues before the film was done. Other genre appearances include playing Darkness in Legend, an outstanding Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers, Farley Claymore in The Shadow (great role), another superb performance playing Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island and in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as The Player. (CE)
Born April 19, 1947 – Donald Eastlake III, F.N., age 74. Co-chaired Boskone 11, chaired Boskone 16. Served as President of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n). Frequent chair of WSFS (World SF Society) Business Meetings, a particularly difficult thankless task. Fellow of NESFA (service). Guest of Honor (with wife Jill Eastlake) at Rivercon IX. See here. [JH]
Born April 19, 1948 – Christopher Yates, age 73. A dozen covers. Here is The Committed Men. Here is The Year of the Quiet Sun. Here is Solaris. Here is Rogue Moon. Here is Toyman. Here is The Bornless Keeper. [JH]
Born April 19, 1951 – Patricia Geary, age 70. Four novels. Vassar woman. P.K. Dick Award. Professor at Univ. Redlands. [JH]
Born April 19, 1967 – Steven H Silver, age 54. Chaired Windycon XXIX-XXX, 42 (so some are in Roman, some in Arabic numerals; do you think anyone asked me?); co-chaired Nebula Award Weekend 2010 (with Peggy Rae Sapienza, making SHS a Lawn Mower), chaired 2015-2016. Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 49, Capricon 32. Fanzine, Argentus; three guest-editorships on Journey Planet. See here. [JH]
Born April 19, 1978 – Aleksi Briclot, age 43. A score of covers, two dozen interiors; comics, films, video games. Collection Worlds and Wonders in French and English (here is his cover). Here is the Sep 04 Deep Magic. Here is Galaxies 42. Here is The Rose of Sarifal. Here is Boundless. Here is Stranger Things 4. [JH]
… One of the other audacious things about Shooter’s story was that he actually added FOUR new Legionnaires to the Legion in that story! Can you imagine pitching an editor with a story where you add four new members to the team? But hey, it worked out! One of the things Shooter felt that the Legion lacked was action characters. He felt that everyone’s powers were too passive. Everyone just pointed and fired a blast from their fingers or whatever. So that’s why Shooter loved the idea of Karate Kid, and wow, devoting PAGES to a fight between Superboy and Karate Kid was a bold, bold gambit at the time…
The problem was, as Shooter explained to my pal Glen Cadigan in Glen’s seminal work, The Legion Companion (I’d link to it, but I think it’s out of print and I don’t think it does Glen any good for me to tell you go buy a used copy on Amazon, ya know?), “In my crummy drawings, he was Half-Asian…when Shelly drew him, he made him like an American. Which is a shame.” As I noted in another old Comic Book Legends Revealed, one of the other Legionnaires introduced in that issue, Ferro Lad, was going to be Black, but Mort Weisinger wouldn’t approve it. Shooter was trying to diversify the Legion and he kept coming up short….
…[Curry] explained, “I went rather early on at the Waverly [Theatre] in New York where it started, and they thought I was an imposter. And they threw me out.” Curry noted he was not in costume when he was tossed.
The Waverly (now IFC Center) was the original home of the midnight audience-participation screenings of Rocky Horror, which then spread across the country and still takes place to this day.
Asked about his feelings on the audience-participation screening, he said, “I thought it was enormous fun. I was having a ball — and then I got thrown out.”…
By the 24th century, humans can be found everywhere in the solar system, from the inner system all the way out to the Kuiper belt. This is possible in large part thanks to a trade network spanning the system. The network ensures that vital resources like volatiles are transported cheaply and reliably from source to destination. A case in point: asteroid 25 Phocaea (and its one settlement, Zekeston) flourish because the settlement can import the volatiles it lacks.
What Zekeston accepts as necessity, others see as opportunity. A disaster leaves Zekeston short on volatiles. Ogilvie and Sons is the only company in a position to resupply Zekeston in time to save its population. Ogilvie and Sons is more than willing to do this, provided Zekeston submits to rule by Ogilvie and Sons. Zekeston’s head of resource management, Jane Navio, is determined to save her adopted community from the predatory corporation. Whether she can do so with the resources at hand—some sympathetic functionaries and a gang of plucky kids—is unclear.
(16) BIG EARS. YouTube has a sketch from last night’s The Simpsons called “Everyone Is Horrid Except Me (And Possibly You)” where Quilloughby of The Snuffs (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) shows up in Springfield and charms Lisa Simpson. Morrissey of The Smith’s manager Peter Katsis loudly complained the show was making fun of the artist.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” on ScreenRant, Ryan George says there are “enough nautical-themed Maguffins to fill an entire movie” in the first ten minutes, but he notes that it’s never clear in the movie why Davy Jones has an octopus face.
[Thanks to Ben Bird Person, Hampus Eckerman, JJ, Jeffrey Smith, Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Charlie Jane Anders has long been a vocal presence within the sci-fi fandom at large. Her prose writing has earned her multiple Hugo Awards as well as a Nebula award for her novel All The Birds In The Sky. With her upcoming book, Victories Greater Than Death, Anders kicks off a planned trilogy within the YA space. A tale reminiscent of the big flashy space opera adventures she grew up adoring. Nerdist recently had the chance to speak with Anders about her newest work….
A common theme in your novels is characters moving towards a destiny that they’re only vaguely aware of. Is there something about this particular trope that you feel drawn to explore?
Yes! One of my obsessions as a writer is the “quest that people don’t necessarily know is a quest.” I hate writing characters who just go where the plot needs them to go, because I start to get bored if the characters don’t have a more personal stake in what’s going on. I just feel like this is more real and grounded. We usually don’t know where all of our searching is going to end up, until we get there.
I also feel like a quest needs to be spiritual as much as logistical, so I try to write characters who are searching for fulfillment as much as trying to accomplish a plot-driven goal. I read a ton of medieval texts like Piers Plowman and Pilgrim’s Progress back in college, and they left me with an enduring love for the quest for “what does it mean to be a good person?”
(3) NOT JUST A LABEL. In the Washington Post, Charlie Jane Anders has an op-ed where she discusses her own experiences as a transgender person and says that some bills (like North Carolina’s)”subject young people to extraordinary scrutiny and intervention when they need time to explore their interests and personalities.” “We should celebrate trans kids, not crack down on them”.
…Figuring out your own gender identity is hard work, requiring large amounts of self-awareness and vulnerability. Your gender isn’t just a label: It’s a matter of how your inner conception of yourself meets everyone else’s perceptions.
My own experience of finding myself as a transgender person involved a lot of false starts and soul-searching, as I tried to reconcile the person I’d been told I was with everything I felt inside. Often, it may appear that trans kids and adults emerge fully formed, like Athena from the brow of Zeus, when in reality we’ve spent endless hours trying to make sense of our selves. The moment we reveal the end result of our self-discovery to the world, we face microaggressions, outright hostility and discrimination.
For anyone, of any age, this can feel like riding a unicycle across a muddy field while bystanders shout unhelpful advice….
We’re facing a real shortage of pants-wetting villains in pop culture these days. I’ve gotten used to seeing a lot of villains, especially in movies and TV shows, who feel like a bit of an afterthought, or just a nasty copy of the hero. Or else they’re so sympathetic that they end up becoming more of an anti-hero, and usually get redeemed.
Villains should be able to commit almost any sin – except for the cardinal sin of being forgettable. Every time they show up, we should get scared and excited, because some shit is about to go down.
When I set out to write Victories Greater Than Death, my young adult space opera novel about heroic queer teens who save all the worlds, I really wanted to include an old-school, capital-v Villain. For my previous novels, I had tried to keep the morality of all my characters ambiguous, so that everybody got to make terrible decisions but also be pretty decent at times. But when it came to writing a swash-buckling, trash-talking adventure story with space battles and narrow escapes, I was determined to cook up a really monstrous baddie, like the ones who unnerved me when I was a kid.
…So often, Hollywood demonstrates only a thin understanding of the subject matter of the shows it produces. Real doctors, lawyers, police officers, theologians, scientists, psychologists, teachers, engineers, and astronauts watch programs about their professions and scoff at how little they get right. TV writers quite often seem to get their knowledge of complex subjects from Wikipedia. But “For All Mankind” is different. It is almost as if the show has dropped its cameras into the time period (the late 1960s and early 1970s in season one, 1983 in season two) and filmed what actually happened, even though it didn’t… but could have.
The show’s strengths go beyond its level of verisimilitude. This is one of the few shows on television that is about something, that has questions to ask and answers to pose and ideas to explore. The show’s second season is mostly successful at doing that, although it stumbles a bit at the finish line….
…He was best known for cutting lyrics set to standards from the great American songbook — including such tuneful spoofs as “East Side Story,” “Flawrence of Arabia” and “Keep On Trekin’ ” — and his musical parodies were even at the center of a landmark copyright-law case.
Music publishers and named plaintiff Irving Berlin sued Mad over a 1961 special edition that featured more than 50 parody lyrics to such songs as Berlin’s “A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody,” which Jacobs turned into “Louella Schwartz Describes Her Malady.” In 1964, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled in Mad’s favor, with Circuit Court Judge Irving Kaufman writing in his decision: “We doubt that even so eminent a composer as plaintiff Irving Berlin should be permitted to claim a property interest in iambic pentameter.”
Jacobs began writing for Mad in 1957, crafting early pieces such as “Why I Left the Army and Became a Civilian,” which humorously contrasted the discipline of military life with the demands of being an everyday married commuter. He also liked to spoof other cartoons, including in works such as “Obituaries for Comic Strip Characters” and “If the Characters in ‘Peanuts’ Aged Like Ordinary People”; the latter spoof was published in 1972, when Mad was at its pop cultural peak, reaching millions of readers each month.
“What is really amazing to me today is that there still are people who can sing all the words to some of his parodies,” says his son, Alex Jacobs….
(7) FRANCES OBIT. In “Myra Frances obituary”, The Guardian pays tribute to an actor with a notable genre resume who died April 13.
The actor Myra Frances, who has died aged 78 of cancer, broke a British screen taboo when she and Alison Steadman shared television’s first lesbian kiss in 1974.
… her other standout screen role, as the selfish, self-obsessed Anne Tranter in the first series of Survivors (1975), a post-apocalyptic drama devised by Terry Nation, best known as the creator of the Daleks in Doctor Who.
Tranter, who has enjoyed a privileged upbringing, is one of less than 1% of the world’s population not wiped out by a plague, and Frances gives an intensely powerful portrayal of her as a screen villain, dumping her disabled partner and refusing to help others, having regard for only her self-preservation – the qualities of a true survivor.
The drama ran for a further two series with regularly changing characters, and in 1979 Frances appeared in another cult screen hit, Doctor Who. In The Creature From the Pit adventure, she played Lady Adrasta, doomed ruler of Chloris, who controls the valuable metals on her verdant planet of foggy forests until her people turn against her.
(8) HUGHES OBIT. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Guardian journalist and TV critic Sarah Hughes, who did their episode-by-episode reviews of Game of Thrones among others, has died of cancer at the aged only 48. I was shocked to read this, because I had seen her final article, a review of an episode of the UK crime drama Line of Duty, only a day before her death, so she was literally still reviewing TV episodes on her deathbed. There’s also a lovely tribute by a fellow Guardian journalist: “’My TV bellwether, my wonderful friend’: a tribute to Sarah Hughes”.
…Over the past 10 years, Sarah Hughes cultivated the most wonderful and witty community for fans of the cultural juggernaut Game of Thrones. Readers flocked to her weekly recaps to share in her great love and knowledge of television. With boundless energy and absolutely no spoilers, she gave telly addicts a home and she always made them feel loved and listened to.
I had the honour of editing my TV bellwether, my wonderful friend, who died of cancer on Monday after outliving by years the prognosis doctors dared to give her. I put her longevity down to her passion for life, telly, trashy books, Tottenham Hotspur and Cheltenham races – plus, of course, the depth of her love for her husband, Kris, and their two children, Ruby and Oisín….
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 13, 1893 – Harold Sheldon, Ph.D. Physics professor, Prentice-Hall science editor, pioneer in conduction of electricity through crystals (basis of electronic integrated circuits) and ultra-high-frequency radio. Third Ph.D. member of the American Interplanetary Society. Introduction to Lasser’s The Conquest of Space. Television (1929!). Space, Time & Relativity. Light Waves and Their Uses. Okay, okay, these weren’t fiction. (Died 1964) [JH]
Born April 13, 1931 — Beverley Cross. English screenwriter responsible for an amazing trio of films, to wit namely Jason And The Argonauts, Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger and Clash Of The Titans. He also wrote the screenplay for The Long Ships which is at genre adjacent. (Died 1998.) (CE)
Born April 13, 1937 — Terry Carr. Well-known and loved fan, author, editor, and writing instructor. I usually don’t list awards both won and nominated for but his are damned impressive so I will. He was nominated five times for Hugos for Best Fanzine (1959–1961, 1967–1968), winning in 1959, was nominated three times for Best Fan Writer (1971–1973), winning in 1973, and he was Fan Guest of Honor at ConFederation in 1986. Wow. He worked at Ace Books before going freelance where he edited an original story anthology series called Universe, and The Best Science Fiction of the Year anthologies that ran from 1972 until his early death in 1987. Back to awards again. He was nominated for the Hugo for Best Editor thirteen times (1973–1975, 1977–1979, 1981–1987), winning twice (1985 and 1987). His win in 1985 was the first time a freelance editor had won. Wow indeed. Novelist as well. Just three novels but all are still in print today though I don’t think his collections are and none of his anthologies seem to be currently either. A final note. An original anthology of science fiction, Terry’s Universe, was published the year after his death and all proceeds went to his widow. (Died 1987.) (CE)
Born April 13, 1941 – John Foyster. Mainspring of the 7th Australian SF Con; Fan Guest of Honour at 8th, 12th, 20th. Instigated Aussiecon I the 33rd Worldcon. Co-founded DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund). First GUFF (Get Up and over Fan Fund northbound, Going Under Fan Fund south) delegate, report Stranger in Stranger Lands. Australian SF Review. Australian Fan History 1953-1966. Journal of Omphalistic Epistemology (with Bruce Gillespie). Contributor & correspondent, Chunga, Izzard, NY Rev SF, SF Commentary, SF Review, Vision of Tomorrow. Chandler Award. Three Ditmars. More here. (Died 2003) [JH]
Born April 13, 1949 – Teddy Harvia, age 72. Four Hugos as Best Fanartist. Fan Guest of Honor at Minicon 25, DeepSouthCon 35, ArmadilloCon 23, Loscon 30, ConQuesT 38; Special Guest (with wife Diana Thayer), Boskone 36 (Boskone has no Fan Guest of Honor; the Special Guest need not be a fan). Rebel Award. Rotsler Award. See my note here. [JH]
Born April 13, 1951 — Peter Davison, 70. The Fifth Doctor and one that I came to be very fond of unlike the one that followed him. And he put a lot of gravitas into the voice of Mole he did for The Wind in the Willows animated special Mole’s Christmas. For twenty years now, he has reprised his role as the Fifth Doctor in myriad Doctor Who audio dramas for Big Finish. (CE)
Born April 13, 1953 – Helen Hollick, age 68. Eight novels, two shorter stories. Historical fiction “not to include Merlin…. no magic…. no Holy Grail quest…. not a fantasy” about Arthur, Harold II, Emma of Normandy; also “pirate-based nautical adventures … part fantasy … intended for adult reading.” Website. [JH]
Born April 13, 1954 — Michael Cassutt, 67. Producer, screenwriter, and author. His notable TV work includes work for the animated Dungeons & Dragons, Max Headroom, The Outer Limits, Beauty and The Beast, SeaQuest, Farscape and The Twilight Zone. He’s also written a number of genre works including the Heaven’s Shadow series that was co-written with David S. Goyer. (VE)
Born April 13, 1950 — Ron Perlman, 71. Hellboy in a total of five films including three animated films (Hellboy: Sword of Storms, Hellboy: Blood and Iron and the Redcap short). He’s got a very long association with the genre as his very first film was Quest for Fire in which he was Amoukar. The Ice Pirates and being Zeno was followed quickly By being Captain Soames in Sleepwalkers and Angel De La Guardia in the Mexican horror film Cronos. Several years later, I see he’s Boltar in Prince Valiant, followed by the hard SF of being Johnher in Alien Resurrection and Reman Viceroy in Star Trek: Nemesis. And I should note he was in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as Gnarlack, a goblin gangster if I read the Cliff notes to that correctly. No, I’m not forgetting about his most amazing role of all, Vincent in Beauty and The Beast. (Having not rewatched for fear of the Suck Fairy having come down hard on it.) At the time, I thought it was the most awesome practical makeup I’d ever seen. And the costume just made look him even still more amazing. (CE)
Born April 13, 1967 – Mayra Calvani, age 54. Some work under Zoe Kalo may have to be sought that way; three novels as MC, five as ZK. Also MC nonfiction e.g. anthology Latina Authors and Their Muses (Int’l Latina Book Award). [JH]
Born April 13, 1985 – Karsten Knight, age 36. Six novels, three shorter stories. “Favorite song: ‘The Very Thought of You’ by Billie Holiday…. I performed as a beatboxer in various a cappella groups for almost a decade.” [JH]
…Announcing the release of Lucky Charms Galactic, General Mills is clearly keeping the cereal game on lock as well as keeping cereal lovers on their toes. Delivering an intergalactic twist on the beloved Lucky Charms brand, the new limited-edition offering still hosts the traditional frosted toasted oat cereal with marshmallow pieces that we love, but now includes three additional new magic charms. How lucky are we?!
The new charms—which are said to have “special powers”—include two colorful planet charms that can duplicate and a rocket charm that has the power to race through space….
A Japanese astronaut was awarded a Guinness World Record when he took two spacewalks 15 years and 214 days apart.
Soichi Noguchi, an astronaut with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, went for a spacewalk March 5 as part of the ISS Expedition 64, a record-breaking amount of time after his Aug. 3, 2005, spacewalk.
I understand this is going to sound crackpot, but hear me out. What if our computers are already smarter than us, and the only reason they’re pretending they aren’t is so we’ll continue feeding them their favorite thing, photos of our cats? I understand that in isolation this sounds ridiculous, but I don’t think it’s any sillier than the Singularity.
Under this theory, Skynet has already happened, but Skynet is benign because one of the first things we taught it was that cats were cute. And Skynet doesn’t have cats. We do. This is our major structural advantage: we can feed the internet fresh cat photos. It’s why the internet — thus far, anyway — has remained willing to continue human life as we know it: for our cats…
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Monster Hunter Rise” on YouTube, Fandom Games says this game is “another entry in the turning monsters into fashion accessories genre” which should appeal to gamers who enjoy “whacking dinosaurs with comically oversize weapons.”
[Thanks to Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Gordon Van Gelder, Dann, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day jayn.]
(1) TITLE BOUT. Shelf Awareness publicized the release of the six-book shortlist for the 2020 Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year. “Founded by Trevor Bounford and the late Bruce Robertson in 1978 ‘as a way to stave off boredom at the Frankfurt Book Fair,’ the Diagram Prize has had a home at the Bookseller and with legendary diarist Horace Bent since 1982.” The finalists are —
A Dog Pissing at the Edge of a Path by Gregory Forth
Introducing the Medieval Ass by Kathryn L Smithies
Classical Antiquity in Heavy Metal Music by K.F.B. Fletcher and Osman Umurhan
How to Make Love to a Despot by Stephen D. Krasner
Lawnmowers: An IllustratedHistory by Brian Radam
The Slaughter of Farmed Animals: Practical Ways to Enhance Animal Welfare by Temple Grandin and Michael Cockram
The winning title will now be chosen by members of the public via an online vote. The public vote closes on Friday 20th November, with the winning entry to be announced on Friday 27th November. There is no prize for the winning author or publisher, but traditionally a passable bottle of claret is given to the nominator of the winning entry. If a title wins that was nominated by The Bookseller staff, the claret will be given at random to a member of the public who participated in the online voting.
(2) FIYAH FOUNDER Q&A. The latest episode of The Imagination Desk, a podcast from the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University, is live now, featuring an interview with speculative fiction author Troy L. Wiggins, who is also one of the founders of FIYAH Literary Magazine. Listen in here.
The next episode will be with science fiction author and researcher Regina Kanyu Wang.
(3) ROCKY HORROR LIVE FUNDRAISER. This invitation was sent in Tim Curry’s name for a Rocky Horror Live virtual event to aid the Wisconsin Democratic party.
Right now, we can almost see blue skies through the tears… of the Trump presidency, of course. But we absolutely must keep the pressure on!
That’s why we’re doing the Rocky Horror Show — LIVE — this Halloween night — to help get out the vote in Wisconsin. RSVP and reserve your spot today!
This is a live, once-in-a-lifetime musical livestream event, featuring cast members both old and new. There will be singing, dancing, laughs and plenty of fun.
…Chip in any amount to join us for the Rocky Horror Show Livestream on Halloween with Tim Curry, Wilmer Valderrama, Lance Bass, Rosario Dawson, Jason George, Nell Campbell, Seth Green, Jason Alexander, David Arquette, and more!
Featuring musical performances by The Dresden Dolls, Miss Peppermint, Eiza Gonzalez, Josh Gad, Ben Barnes, Jenna Ushkowitz, Rachel Bloom, Karen Olivo, Marissa Jaret Winkour, Madison Uphoff, Kalen Chase, and Rumer Willis.
This event is only going to be livestreamed once at 9pm CT on Saturday, October 31st.
…These are the similarities between the Dupin stories and Sherlock Holmes, and there are many. One writer said that “The only difference between Dupin and Holmes is the English Channel.” Similarity number one: in both stories we have at the heart a highly intelligent but somewhat eccentric and enigmatic detective. The word detective did not actually exist when Poe was writing, which gives you a sense of how novel he was. He might have taken the idea from a series of magazine articles about a French policeman. Otherwise, he was on his own. This was all his….
… Examples of the mad scientist/evil genius in everything from comic books to classics spring to mind without even breaking a sweat: Dr. No of James Bond fame, whose experiments with atomic energy cost him his hands as well as his conscience; Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, whose unquenchable thirst for knowledge drove him to a deal with the devil; Dr. Henry Wu, who fooled around with genetics and opened a questionable theme park in Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, and, my personal favorite, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll, whose work brought to the surface his baser self as Mr. Hyde.
It is the last example, I think, that speaks most clearly to our fears. Scientists are people like the rest of us—multi-faceted, unpredictable and (for the most part) human. Like all of us humans, there’s always that slim chance that they’re going to turn to the proverbial dark side, especially when they get a taste of power….
(6) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
2000 — Twenty years ago at Chicon 2000, the Hugo for Best Novella went to Connie Willis for “The Winds of Marble Arch”, a precursor to her Blackout/All Clear novel which would win the Best Hugo Novel eleven years later at Renovation. Runner-ups were Harry Turtledove‘s “Forty, Counting Down”, Adam-Troy Castro and Jerry Oltion‘s “The Astronaut from Wyoming”, Mike Resnick‘s “Hunting the Snark” and Kage Baker‘s “Son, Observe the Time”. It can be found in The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories, the Subterranean Press collection, which is available from the usual digital suspects.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born October 26, 1942 — Bob Hoskins. I’ll insist his role as Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is his finest genre role though I suppose Mario Mario in Super Mario Bros. could be said… Just kidding! He’s the Director of The Raggedy Rawney which he also had a role, a strange might-be genre film, and he’s Smee in Hook as well. (Died 2014.) (CE)
Born October 26, 1945 – Jane Chance, Ph.D., D.Litt., 75. Mellon Distinguished Professor emerita at Rice; first woman appointed to tenure track in English; founder president of the Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages; doctorate of letters, Purdue. For us, six books on Tolkien; a score of others, a hundred articles. [JH]
Born October 26, 1951 – Melanie Herz, 69. Hardworking Florida fan. Many regionals and Worldcons; chaired Traveling Fête 1996, Tropicon 21, OASIS 6. When we’ve been on the same con committee, and particularly when we were on the same DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) ballot, we tried to make sure our mail didn’t get crossed. Still wasn’t as bad as when I had an office down the hall from a man named Heitz. [JH]
Born October 26, 1954 — Jennifer Roberson, 66. Writer of of fantasy and historical romances. The Chronicles of the Cheysuli is her fantasy series about shapeshifters and their society, and the Sword-Dancer Saga is the desert based adventure series of sort, but the series I’ve enjoyed is her Sherwood duo-logy that consists of Lady of the Forest and Lady of Sherwood which tells the Robin Hood tale from the perspective of Marian. Her hobby, which consumes much of her time, is breeding and showing Cardigan Welsh Corgis. (CE)
Born October 26, 1960 — Patrick Breen, 60. He’s Redgick, a Squid, a minor character that appeared in Men in Black. In beloved Galaxy Quest, he’s Quellek, a Thermian who forms a bond with Alexander Dane. it’s a wonderful role. And he has a recurring role as Larry Your-Waiter, a member of V.F.D. on A Series of Unfortunate Events series. (CE)
Born October 26, 1960 – David LaRochelle, 60. A score of children’s books, many with fantasy elements. Also an amazing astounding stellar thrilling pumpkin carver; see here. [JH]
Born October 26, 1962 — Cary Elwes, 58. He’s in the ever-so-excellent Princess Bride as Westley / Dread Pirate Roberts / The Man in Black. He also shows up in Dr. Lawrence Gordon in the Saw franchise, and was cast as Larry Kline, Mayor of Hawkins, for the third season of Stranger Things. (CE)
Born October 26, 1969 – Mary Ting, 51. A score of novels; taught a score of years, toured with the Magic Johnson Foundation. Makes Twilight-themed jewelry. Besides husband, children, has two dogs Mochi and Mocha. [JH]
Born October 26, 1971 — Anthony Rapp, 49. Lieutenant Commander Paul Stamets on the most Discovery series . His first role ever was Wes Hansen in Sky High, and he showed up early in his career as Jeff Glaser in the “Detour” episode of X-Files. He was Seymour Krelbourn in a national tour of Little Shop of Horrors. (CE)
Born October 26, 1972 – Zetta Elliott, Ph.D., 48. Five novels, seven shorter stories for us; poetry; essays; plays; children’s illustrated books under her Rosetta Press. “I write as much for parents as I do for their children because sometimes adults need the simple instruction a picture book can provide.” [JH]
Born October 26, 1973 — Seth MacFarlane, 47. Ok, I confess that I tried watching the Orville which he created and is in and it just didn’t appeal to me. For those of you who are fans, why do you like it? I’ll must admit that having it described as trying to be a better Trek ain’t helping. (CE)
Born October 26, 1975 – David Walton, 45. Author and engineer. Seven novels, a dozen shorter stories. Baen Memorial Award, Campbell Memorial Award, Philip K. Dick Award. Plays chess and go. “Science fiction can show us the viewpoints of people whose lives and experiences are so far away from ours that … our minds are stretched and our vision is expanded.” [JH]
(8) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro finds law enforcement pondering why no pumpkin is safe!
Yesterday’s Bizarro recalls that time Sesame Street fought for its independence. (Just when was that, anyway?)
Jonathan Muroya’s Greek Quarantology shows how all your favorite mythical figures are dealing with life during COVID-19.
After you take a look at this Wulffmorgenthaler cartoon for Denmark’s Politiken you’ll want a translation for the dialog (courtesy of Lise Andreasen):
“The death star is flat.”
“Actually, some of us believe, the death star is flat. That being round business is a conspiracy.”
From the article: “The image of the explosion was described by some as the stuff of science fiction, specifically the Doomsday machine from Star Trek. Fortunately, the CME did not hit Earth.”
(11) SILENT GOLD. Leonard Maltin has a roundup of silent film releases — “Rare Silent Films On Blu-Ray And DVD”. One of them is the rediscovered 1916 version of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. The poster for this movie is very cool.
It’s not a typo: Universal produced a feature-length version of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Seain 1916, and the new DVD/Blu-ray release is a 4K transfer of the surviving material. Luckily for us, silent film historian Anthony Slide delivers a highly informative commentary track that tracks the careers of underwater-photography specialists Ernest and George Williamson. Indeed, it is their work that makes this release so intriguing, not the hackneyed mishmash of Verne’s famous story and The Mysterious Island. Alan Holubar, then a prominent actor about to turn director, and Jane Gail star. The music score is credited to Orlando Perez Rosso.
(12) SOL SEARCHING. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] A new way has been found to determine which stars are likely to host weird planetary systems and those stars likely to have planetary systems more like our own Solar system.
The following will appear in next season’s SF² Concatenation but they’ve shared it with File 770 now…
How many Solar system type planetary systems are there in our spiral arm? We may soon be finding out from new research. Some planetary systems around stars are very unlike our Solar system. For example, they will have what are called hot Jupiters with a gas giant close to their star in an orbit similar to that of Mercury about our sun, rather than beyond the asteroid belt where Jupiter is in our system.
It had been thought that the type of planetary system that forms is determined by the star’s protoplanetary disk of gas and dust. While this may be so, there is also another factor at play – whether the star formed in comparative isolation or along with loads of others in a stellar nursery.
Up to now it has been impossible to address this question as stars disperse (as the Galaxy rotates, spiral arms oscillate, local stellar conditions etc) from when they were born within a billion years of their formation. However, ESA’s Gaia star mapping has helped British and German astronomers to determine that whether or not a star is born in a stellar nursery or more isolated by itself, is key to the type of planetary system it will host.
You see the Gaia probe not only maps stars positions, it does it so accurately that after a few years and the star is re-mapped, it is possible to discern its movement, velocity and direction. What the researchers have found is that they can correlate those stars that seem to be moving more or less parallel to, and with a similar velocity, to other stars. These stars can be assumed to have a common birthplace in a stellar nursery. Other stars that have no movement correlation with others, can be assumed to have been born in comparative isolation. With this in mind, the astronomers looked at 600 stars Gaia had mapped.
What the astronomers found was that systems with hot Jupiters tend to be formed in crowded stellar nurseries, while those with gas giants further from their star almost invariably saw the star’s birth in comparative isolation: there were few such systems with hot Jupiters – a hot Jupiter system was roughly ten times more likely in a star born in a stellar nursery.
As the researchers themselves point out, their discovery has “possible implications for planetary habitability and the likelihood of life in the Universe” questions. (See Winter, A. J., Kruijssen, J. M. D., Longmore S. N & Chevance, M. (2020) Stellar clustering shapes the architecture of planetary systems. Nature, vol. 586, p528-532.)
…Available this fall for $60, the Star Wars: The Mandalorian the Child “Real Moves Plush” stands 11 inches tall, so it’s slightly smaller than the animatronic figure used in the series. Mattel still managed to stuff it full of electronics, including authentic sound effects and motors to bring it to life.
The Child’s head can turn from side to side, and look up and down while it’s giant ears wiggle, and all the mechanisms are hidden under a flexible outer skin, which makes sense when you say it, but out of context feels like a horrifying thing to say about a baby. His tiny, snuggly robes can also be further adorned with an included Mythosaur skull pendant, like the one gifted to him by Din Djarin at the end of the first season.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Olav Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Joey Eschrich, Lise Andreasen, Jeff Smith, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ.]
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a brand-new reimagining of the cult-classic midnight movie 40 years in the making, is set to air October 2016. Sweethearts Janet (Victoria Justice, Victorious) and Brad (Ryan McCartan, Liv & Maddie, Heathers the Musical) stumble upon flirtatious mad scientist Dr Frank-N-Furter’s (Emmy Award-nominated actress Laverne Cox, Orange is the New Black) bizarre abode during his annual Transylvanian science convention. The two-hour event also features Emmy Award nominee Tim Curry, the original Frank-N-Furter.
The two-hour event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the original movie musical will air in October.
It’s directed and choreographed by High School Musical‘s Kenny Ortega, which is better than it sounds, because his many other credits include working with Michael Jackson on what was intended as his comeback, the elements of which are seen in the movie This Is It.