(1) BALTICON 57 COVID REPORT. The Balticon 57 committee has learned two attendees came down with Covid. They sent this report to their mailing list:
While we did our best to mitigate the risks, we did not come through unscathed. Yesterday we received a report of 2 COVID cases. Everyone is now home and recovering.
Cases A and B – Henderson Books named with permission:
– Started feeling bad Monday during breakdown
– Tested positive after the close of the convention
– They were the book vendors at the first booth to the right, just when you walked in the door
When to test:
CDC defines day of known or expected exposure as Day 0. An exposure is close or extended contact without respiratory protection with a person known or suspected of having covid. The earliest that one may show positive test results if they contract Covid is 48-72 hours after exposure; CDC recommends testing no earlier than day 5 (120 hours after exposure) or upon developing symptoms.
What to do if exposed:
If you are up to date on vaccinations, you do not need to isolate, but should wear a well-fitting mask around others for the next 10 days.
If you are not up to date, they recommend isolating for 5 days, and then wearing a mask around others for the following 5.
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/quarantine-isolation.html (last updated May 11, 2023)
(2) BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS. Lisa Tuttle’s “The best recent science fiction, fantasy and horror – reviews roundup” in the Guardian covers: Perilous Times by Thomas D Lee; The Grief Nurse by Angie Spoto; Airside by Christopher Priest; Hokey Pokey by Kate Mascarenhas; and The Shadow Cabinet by Juno Dawson.
(3) CULTURE WAR INTIMIDATION. “Abuse has led Sathnam Sanghera to ‘more or less stop’ doing book events in UK” he told the Guardian.
The writer Sathnam Sanghera has said he barely ever does public events in the UK because of a fear of being attacked amid a culture war-fuelled backlash over his views on Britain’s imperial past, saying he feared a Florida-style push towards the banning of books.
Sanghera, a journalist and author whose bestselling book Empireland assessed how the UK’s colonial territories still infect contemporary politics and discourse, said he had begun to dread holding book events here.
Speaking to the Intelligence Squared podcast, Sanghera, who also explored the legacy of empire in a Channel 4 series, said he had “more or less stopped doing events in Britain”.
He said: “Because actually, the trolling online is … I’m so used to it, it doesn’t really feel real. Although it does get to you when it’s relentless for days at a time when you get targeted.
“But it’s the way it translates into real life … It’s people coming to my events, and shouting at me. And you know, when that happens, it always makes for a good event in the sense that other people stand up for me – it feels like the whole event matters. I sell out my books.
“It’s good – I mean, it probably makes my publisher happy. But it comes at a personal cost to me. I realised I started dreading the moment. I was waiting to be attacked. And I just stopped doing those events. And I just did international ones.”…
(4) THE SEVENTIES. Even if you were an sf reader in the Seventies this person’s writing career could be news to you. Joachim Boaz “Short Story Reviews” series looks back on “Russell Bates’ ‘Legion’ (1971), ‘Get With the Program’ (1972), and ‘A Modest Proposal’ (1973)” at Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations.
… Born in Lawton, Oklahoma (I’ve also seen Anadarko, OK implied as a birthplace), [Russell] Bates was an enrolled member of the Kiowa tribe. After he finished high school, he entered the U.S. Air Force. While injured after an explosion at a missile assembly building, he was encouraged to take up a hobby. He began writing science fiction stories–including Star Trek fanfiction (discussed in more detail below) .
Interested in honing his craft, Bates attended the famous Clarion workshop in 1969, and his first story, “Legion” (1971), hit print two years later . He published six science fiction short stories between 1971-1977. A seventh–“Search Cycle: Beginning and Ending 1. The Last Quest; 2. Fifth and Last Horseman”–was scheduled to appear in Harlan Ellison’s infamous Last Dangerous Visions, originally slated for 1973. It hasn’t been published elsewhere….
(5) STARS OF STAR WARS. A compilation of many well-known Star Wars celebrity media moments, and quite entertaining, even the familiar ones: “40+ ‘Star Wars’ Cast Member Interview Moments That R2-Die For” at Illumeably. Here’s an example:
On the road
Get ready to be amazed by the legendary James Earl Jones, the voice behind some of the most iconic characters in cinematic history. His rich and velvety voice is the perfect fit for the commanding roles of Mufasa and Darth Vader. But it’s not all business for this Hollywood heavyweight. Despite the weight of his fame, Jones isn’t afraid to let loose and have some fun, even if it means using his powers for mischief. In fact, he once took to the airwaves on his CB radio as Darth Vader, much to the delight of his fans. Who knew this talented actor had such a great sense of humor?
(6) SNAPPING THE SUSPENDERS OF DISBELIEF. You will not be surprised to hear there are “8 Sci-Fi Movies That Break Their Own Time Travel Rules”. Maybe there are more – but ScreenRant came up with these.
… Fans’ love for these films transcends what could be seen as splitting hairs, getting bogged down in plot holes. Indeed, even the most lauded time travel sci-fi movies are guilty of breaking their own rules, yet the captivating stories and characters can eclipse any disobedience. However, though the very concept of time travel is implausible, some sci-fi films fare better than others at convincing their audience of their realism by avoiding flouting their rules, rendering them meaningless. These eight sci-fi movies have broken their own time travel rules, prioritizing their plot and impactful scenes over time travel mechanics and rule observation.
One of their offenders is Avengers: Endgame. Beware spoilers.
Time travel in Avengers: Endgame faces no risk of the Grandfather paradox because you can’t change the past since it has already happened. Nonetheless, the film seems to establish this rule to preserve the events of previous movies but break it when it becomes inconvenient. The film’s time travel follows Novikov’s self-consistency principle which states that it is impossible to create time paradoxes; the time traveler can only do in the past what does not change history, elucidated in the film by Bruce Banner.
“If you travel back into your own past, that destination becomes your future, and your former present becomes the past, which can’t now be changed by your new future.”
Avengers: Endgame’s finale reveals that instead of Captain America promptly returning to the Sacred Timeline after replacing the infinity stones and Mjolnir to their respective timelines he stays in the past to grow old with Peggy Carter and shows up as an old man to pass on his shield. This breaks the film’s rules, changing history and the present, leaving the time loop open. By the film’s logic Steve Rogers has done the impossible and changed his future, something Avengers: Endgame doesn’t justify nor explain.
(7) MEMORY LANE.
2007 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
I was truly sad when Kathleen Ann Goonan passed on from bone cancer at the relatively young age of sixty-nine years as she was one of my favorite writers. Her first novel, Queen City Jazz, which was published twenty years ago was the first novel I read by her.
It was the beginning of the Nanotech Quartet which I enjoyed immensely.
I also enjoyed her WW II alternative history novel from which our Beginning comes, In War Times: An Alternate Universe Novel of a Different Present published by Tor sixteen years ago. It would win John W. Campbell Memorial Award.
And here’s that Beginning…
DR. ELIANI HADNTZ was only five foot three, though she had seemed taller in the classroom, and Sam had not suspected that her tightly pulled-back hair was a mass of wild black curls until the evening she sat on the edge of his narrow boardinghouse bed. A streetlamp threw a glow onto her pale breasts, she reached behind her head and yanked out the combs, made crooked by the intensity of their lovemaking.
Her loosened hair cascaded down her back and hid her face. She took a deep, shuddering breath, and sat with her elbows on her knees, staring out the window.
When Sam reached out and ran a finger up her spine, she flinched. He had no idea why she was here.
Sam Dance was an uncoordinated soldier. To someone less good-natured, his last name, chosen by an immigration officer on Ellis Island a few generations back, might have seemed like a cruel joke. Because of his poor eyesight, the Army had not accepted him when he first volunteered in 1940, even with almost three years of chemical engineering classes at the University of Dayton under his belt. But while working as an inspector at a Milan, Tennessee, ordnance polant, he heard of an outfit in Indiana recruiting at a used car dealership trying to reach an enlistment quota. He hastened to their office, and was finally allowed to join the Army and serve his country.
Sam stood out because of his height. His intelligence was less visible, but must have been noticed by someone in the Army. Plucked from daily twenty-mile marches through inclement weather in North Carolina, he was sent to D.C. for an intensive course on a potpourri of esoteric subjects. The class met in a hastily assembled temporary structure on the roof of a War Department building.
The subjects, up to now, had been curiously disparate. Codebreaking, mechanical engineering, advanced calculus, and now theoretical physics rushed past taught by an odd assortment of flamboyant Europeans with heavy accents and accompanied at the end of each week by a test.
Properly appreciative of the warmth into which he had been suddenly deposited, Sam was always in his seat each morning at seven A.M. when Dr. Hadntz opened the door, set her briefcase decisively on the bare metal desk at the front of the room, and draped her coat and scarf over the back of the desk chair. She always began her lecture immediately, chalking formulas on the board which he was sure represented some of the most rudimentary knowledge that she possessed. She was an exiled physicist from Budapest. The Army, of course, had not provided the students with an extensive background, but it was rumored that she had worked with Curie, Wigner, Teller, Fermi. Everyone who was anyone in theoretical physics.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born June 10, 1922 — Judy Garland. She is remembered for her portrayal of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz, and her only genre role in her tragically short life. I will note that she was the first woman to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, which she won for her 1961 live recording titled Judy at Carnegie Hall. (Died 1969.)
- Born June 10, 1937 — Luciana Paluzzi, 86. She’s best known for playing SPECTRE assassin Fiona Volpe in Thunderball. Genre wise, I see she was also in Journey to the Lost City (in the original German, Das indische Grabmal), Hercules, The Green Slime, 1001 Nights, Captain Nemo and the Underwater City and War Goddess.
- Born June 10, 1950 — Ed Naha, 73. Among his many genre credits, he was Editor of both Starlog and Fangoria. An even more astonishing genre credit was that he produced Inside Star Trek in 1976 with Gene Roddenberry, William Shatner, DeForest Kelley and Mark Lenard talking about the series. Fiction wise, he wrote one series as D. B. Drumm, The Traveller series and adapted a number of movies such as Robocop and Robocop 2 under his own name. Way back in the Seventies, he wrote Horrors: From Screen to Scream: An Encyclopedic Guide to the Greatest Horror and Fantasy Films of All Time which alas has not been updated. There are no digital books at iBooks or Kindles for him.
- Born June 10, 1951 — Charles Vess, 72. If you ever need a crash course in learning about his art, go find a copy of Drawing Down the Moon: The Art of Charles Vess which lavishly covers his career up to a decade ago. I’ve got a personally signed copy here along with lots of his artwork. He’s had interesting career including the Spider-Man: Spirits of the Earth graphic novel that he wrote and illustrated. I strongly recommend the illustrated version of Stardust he did with Gaiman as it’s amazing.
- Born June 10, 1952 — Kage Baker. I never met her but we had a decade long conversation via email and once in a while via phone. We were supposed to write a Company Concordance for Golden Gryphon but she got too ill for it to happen. And yes I loved all of The Company series. Harry the Space Raptor is now living with her sister Katheleen. (Died 2010.)
- Born June 10, 1953 — Don Maitz, 70. Winner of the Hugo twice for Best Artist and ten Chesley Awards from the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists. And a World Fantasy Award as well. Yes, I’m impressed. From Asimov to Wolfe, his artwork has adorned the covers of many genre authors. He’s married to Janny Wurtz and their excellent website can be found thisaway.
- Born June 10, 1964 — Andrew M. Niccol, 59. Screenwriter / producer / director who wrote and produced one of my favorite genre films, The Truman Show. The film won him a Hugo at Aussiecon Three. He also involved in Gattaca, The Terminal, In Time, The Host, The Minutes short video and Anon.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Tom Gauld is there when Hell connects to Twitter.
(10) PURSUING TRIVIA. David Goldfarb reports Friday’s LearnedLeague questions included this:
A Wind in the Door (1973), A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978), and Many Waters (1986) continue the story first told by author Madeleine L’Engle in what 1962 novel?
With a 70% get rate, this was by far the easiest question on a tough day (the next easiest question had a 43% get rate).
Then on TV, Friday’s episode of Jeopardy! had quite a bit of SFF-related content. In the first round, the “Pets on Film” category had several:
$200: Miss Gulch takes away this Cairn Terrier early on in a classic film; the heroine calls her a “wicked old witch”
Returning champion Suresh Krishnan: “Who’s Toto?”
$400: Bong Joon-Ho’s 2017 film “Okja” is about a big one of these who has been genetically engineered by an evil corporation
This was a triple stumper. Correct response: “What is a pig?”
$600: In the “DC League of Super-Pets” superego Krypto has an alias; punning on his master, he’s named this “Kent”
Challenger Tim Hagood was right: “What’s ‘Bark’?”
Then in “Quick books”, $200: From 2006 it’s Cormac McCarthy’s title post-apocalyptic byway
Challenger Vickie Cyr: “What’s The Road?”
$800: His “Midnight’s Children” is set in places like Kashmir and Delhi
Suresh: “Who is Salman Rushdie?” (He might be thought to have had an advantage on that one.)
In the Double Jeopardy round:
“TV: Who Said It”, $2000: “We’ve had vicious kings & we’ve had idiot kings, but I don’t know if we’ve ever been cursed with a vicious idiot boy king”
Tim evidently watched Game of Thrones and responded “Who is Tyrion Lannister?”
$1600: “Carl’s dead…Carl went out to help someone and he got bit”
Tim: “Who’s Rick?” (This was Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead)
“Eponymous Science”, $1600: The Drake Equation, which estimates the number of advanced alien civilizations in our galaxy, was created as part of SETI, short for this
Suresh: “What is search for extraterrestrial intelligence?”
“With This Ring”, $2000: Around 1850, Richard Wagner began writing a poem called “The Death of” this heroic character in the “Ring” cycle
Vickie tried “Who is Wotan?” but this was wrong.
Nobody else answered. Correct would have been, “Who is Siegfried?”
$1200: A poetic verse by this man mentions “Three rings for the elven-kings under the sky”
You knew this had to be somewhere in “With This Ring”, right? Suresh got it.
And in Final Jeopardy: “British Novels”: Midway through this 1928 novel, the title character briefly takes “their” instead of his or her
Vickie was correct with “What is Orlando?”. This Virginia Woolf novel about a sex-changing immortal surely counts as genre, for our purposes.
Neither of the other two were right. Tim tried “What is The Importance of Being Earnest?”, and Suresh’s response was “What is Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde?”.
(11) HECK YEAH! “An idea whose time had come a quarter of a century ago,” is what John A Arkansawyer calls The ACME Chocolate Registry.
This is the same idea as a wedding gift registry at a department store. You can register your preference in chocolate, and then your friends and relatives can look it up so they know what to get you.
The link comes from the ACME Laboratories website whose logo art is an anvil in outline.
(12) THE SUPREMES SAY “BAD DOG!” Here’s some cutting-edge legal news for you. “Supreme Court Rules Against Dog Toy Resembling Liquor Bottle” reports the New York Times.
The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the First Amendment did not protect a chew toy for dogs resembling a bottle of Jack Daniel’s from a lawsuit claiming trademark infringement.
The toy, the Bad Spaniels Silly Squeaker, has the shape and other distinctive features of a bottle of Jack Daniel’s but with, as an appeals court judge put it, “lighthearted, dog-related alterations.”
The words “Old No. 7 Brand Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey” on the bottle are replaced on the toy by “the Old No. 2, on your Tennessee carpet.” Where Jack Daniel’s says its product is 40 percent alcohol by volume, Bad Spaniels’ is said to be “43 percent poo.”
A tag attached to the toy says it is “not affiliated with Jack Daniel Distillery.”
Justice Elena Kagan, writing for a unanimous court, seemed amused by the dispute. “This case is about dog toys and whiskey,” she wrote, “two items seldom appearing in the same sentence.”
She added that the characteristics of the whiskey bottle were familiar to almost everyone.
“A bottle of Jack Daniel’s — no, Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey — boasts a fair number of trademarks,” she wrote. “Recall what the bottle looks like (or better yet, retrieve a bottle from wherever you keep liquor; it’s probably there).”
After reproducing a color photograph of the bottle, she continued: “‘Jack Daniel’s’ is a registered trademark, as is ‘Old No. 7.’ So too the arched Jack Daniel’s logo. And the stylized label with filigree (i.e., twirling white lines). Finally, what might be thought of as the platform for all those marks — the whiskey’s distinctive square bottle — is itself registered.”…
(13) YOU’D THINK THIS CAT WAS FROM TRALFAMADORE. Inverse celebrates that “45 Years Ago, Disney Made Its Weirdest Sci-Fi Movie — And Perfected a Classic Formula”.
…The Cat From Outer Space has a pretty self-explanatory premise. What if there was a cat from outer space and it was part of a movie starring two of the cast members of M*A*S*H? The story is almost a moot point — the joy of The Cat From Outer Space is watching a cat who is always staring just off-camera at what is definitely some kind of chew toy or food. But there is indeed a story to The Cat From Outer Space. The movie follows Energy Research Laboratory scientist Frank Wilson (Ken Berry), who is studying a UFO taken into custody by U.S. officials. His unconventional theories get laughed at by his colleagues, but pique the interest of the UFO’s passenger, a cat-like alien named Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7 that Frank decides to call Jake. Jake needs Frank’s help to return to his home planet, and the only thing that can help rebuild his ship is $120,000 worth of solid gold. So, of course, Frank sets about getting this gold by … gambling?
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John A Arkansawyer, David Goldfarb, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]