By Steve Vertlieb: While I’ve spent much of my seventy-six years purchasing and perusing TV Guide Magazine, and subscribing to their editorial opinions as “industry gospel,” I must vehemently part company with the opinions of their editorial board and take issue with their condemnation of the third season premiere of The Orville. Having been on hiatus for several years, moving from Fox to Hulu and laboriously filming new episodes of the series for the popular streaming service, the editorial writers for the venerable television publication condemned the premiere episode of The Orville: New Horizons for its “joyless season opener.”
It is true that Seth MacFarlane, the veteran satirist who both created and stars in the science fiction series, originally envisioned the program as a semi-comedic tribute to Gene Roddenberry’s venerable Star Trek. However, the show grew more dramatic in its second season on Fox, while it became obvious that MacFarlane wished to grow outside the satirical box and expand his dimensional horizons and ambitions.
Consequently, the long awaited third season of The Orville opened its premiere episode with a heartfelt salute to comic Norm Macdonald who had played the voice of a gelatinous member of the ship’s crew, and had sadly passed away from cancer during the show’s hiatus.
MacFarlane has long aspired to escape the self imposed boundaries of his satiric origin, and tackle more serious issues, much as his science fiction series has gradually escaped the limitations of time and space. Its season premier, “Electric Sheep,” dealt with the theological morality of an artificial intelligence deciding to take its own life for the imagined betterment of the ship’s crew, and of mankind. Mark Jackson as “Isaac” had betrayed his fellow crew members in the second season finale and gone, if you will, to “The Dark Side.” His suicidal redemption was, in a sense, an act of nobility and self sacrifice on behalf of his betrayed crew mates.
Seth MacFarlane has shown his adaptability as a creator and performer, as well as his growth and maturity as an artist. This remarkably talented writer, director, comedian, actor, and voice-over artist is also a wonderfully gifted interpreter of “The Great American Songbook.” In a delightful two hour concert at The Mann Music Center in Philadelphia during the Summer of 2014, he performed a heartfelt selection of classic Nelson Riddle/Frank Sinatra charts with amazing grace and definitive vocal prowess, leaving the packed outdoor theater’s audience screaming for more. He literally came back for something like six encores, all to the delight of everyone fortunate enough to have been in attendance.
I first encountered Seth’s beautiful voice and charming performance skills a year earlier when he appeared as the featured vocalist during a splendid John Williams concert at The Hollywood Bowl where I was honored to actually meet and speak with him back-stage after the performance. In a multi-national musical climate where mediocrity is passionately applauded and embraced, Seth MacFarlane (whose adoration of Francis Albert Sinatra, and his legacy is clearly and joyfully evident), along with his deeply personal musical persona, and sublime transformation, is like a swirling, exhilarating breath of fresh air. This was fine wine waiting to be tasted, savored, and cherished well into the gentle conclusion of a warm, romantic Summer’s evening.
In much the same spirit as his maturity has grown as a popular singer, MacFarlane’s aspirations as a serious writer and actor seem to have blossomed on his popular science fiction series. Its third season opener provided a somber, sobering look at suicide and the consequences of life taken both willingly and prematurely. The Orville has grown and matured beyond its humble, satiric beginnings and evolved into a more daring, provocative journey to worlds beyond imagining. For this valiant journey and adventure, Seth MacFarlane and his crew must be applauded.
We’re very sorry to have to announce that Titan Con is cancelled this year.
I don’t need to tell you that the past few years have been enormously challenging for everyone and many of us are still processing our experiences. While finances are good, the humans and human resources needed to make Titan Con viable have been impacted.
In recent weeks, a number of committee members, including my co-chair, have had to step away due to personal reasons. I’m sorry to lose them, and am extremely grateful for their hard work, but understand it’s the best decision.
After taking stock of the situation with the committee and advisers, it’s clear we do not have the resources for this year’s already smaller con, and unfortunately have to cancel it. This was a very difficult decision and one the committee wished could be avoided, but there was simply no alternative.
A fresh start is called for.
We need to cancel, regroup, and consider our way forward carefully.
We’ll be recruiting some people to help us look at delivering a Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror convention with the best elements of our legacy events, while considering how to become sustainable going forward.
All current members will receive a full refund.
Thank you for your support and patience, and we hope to see you in the future to celebrate the wonderful media we are all fans of.
Juliette Wade is a novelist … and after listening to this interview, you’ll understand why it’s a hard-earned and well-deserved title for this masterclass worldbuilder.
Her background is impressive. She is fluent in French and Japanese, has degrees in linguistics and anthropology, and also boasts a Ph.D. in education.
Juliette started writing fiction in 1999, and her short stories have been featured in Analog, Clarkesworld, and Fantasy & Science Fiction magazines. But she is perhaps best known for her projected five-volume Broken Trust series, whose latest volume, Inheritors of Power, was published earlier this year by DAW. Juliette’s specialty is sociological science-fiction, of which Broken Trust is one of our finest contemporary examples. Each stratum of Broken Trust’s complex caste system has its own vocation, ideals, manners, and culture, and naturally, they come into a devastating conflict. There’s a lot to discuss, so let’s dive in!
(4) JO FLETCHER NEWS. Publishers Lunch reports, “Publisher Jo Fletcher will leave the Quercus sci-fi, fantasy and horror imprint she founded 11 years ago on September 30. She will continue to edit some of her long-standing authors for the line.”
Netflix is adding a warning card to the “Stranger Things 4” premiere in light of the shooting on Tuesday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which left 21 people dead — including 19 children and two teachers.
The warning card, which will show up for viewers in the U.S. when the episodes launch on Friday, reads: “We filmed this season of ‘Stranger Things’ a year ago. But given the recent tragic shooting at a school in Texas, viewers may find the opening scene of episode 1 distressing. We are deeply saddened by this unspeakable violence, and our hearts go out to every family mourning a loved one.”
This warning will appear before the prior season recap that auto-plays at the beginning of “Stranger Things 4” Episode 1 for viewers in the U.S. only. Additionally, Netflix has also edited the description for the premiere to include the note, “Warning: Contains graphic violence involving children,” and added “disturbing images” to the show rating advisories….
In February, when it was cold and wet in New York, I rode a jitney under blue skies from the Orlando airport into Disney World. Before reaching the Magic Kingdom, the bus passed a range of gray crags perched on scaffolding—a sliver of Black Spire Outpost, which, in the “Star Wars” universe, is a settlement on a planet called Batuu. Nearby, the Millennium Falcon rested below a control tower built into the rock; Stormtrooper helmets were for sale at a sun-bleached military-surplus garage. Black Spire is also the destination of the Galactic Starcruiser, a spaceship that carries hundreds of interstellar tourists to and from the outpost, on what Disney calls an “immersive adventure.” The Starcruiser begins its journey floating in space, light-years from Batuu and Black Spire. In reality, the spacecraft is a massive brutalist building that sits beside a highway….
In one of the games —
In Calculations, written by Caro Murphy, a veteran larper with a side-swept cyberpunk haircut, Sinking Ship customers play a spaceship pilot delivering medicine to Mars, where colonists have been dying from an illness that causes “shortness of breath.” Murphy adapted the game from a nineteen-fifties sci-fi story by Tom Godwin.
Stephen Hawking famously said sending messages from Earth into deep space could get human civilization destroyed: “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”
Hawking’s words have often been used to discourage the practice of METI, which is Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence. But how many “malicious” alien civilizations are there? And what are the chances any message we sent into our own galaxy would be received by an evil alien civilization? There is precious little research on this topic, and very few scientists have even posited a guess.
A new thought experiment attempts to at least venture a guess in hopes that other scientists will begin to take METI more seriously, and will try to determine how dangerous it actually is to try to contact alien civilizations.
According to this paper, which the author admits has “some limitations,” there are roughly four “malicious extraterrestrial civilizations” in the Milky Way, and we could likely send out 18,000 interstellar messages to different exoplanets in our galaxy and the probability of ensuring our own destruction would still be about the same as Earth being hit by a “global catastrophe asteroid.”
It must have been fate. Born eleven days apart on opposite coasts, Leo and Diane met, competed artistically, and eventually fell in love while attending Parsons School of Design, each aspiring to a life of art. After their marriage in 1957, the artists initially pursued separate careers in illustration before recognizing their strengths were collaborative in nature. In an effort to work in a particular style that they both could master, they symbiotically and seamlessly melded their personalities and styles, employing pastels, colored pencil, watercolor, acrylic, stencils, typography, woodcut, pochoir, found-object assemblage, collage, and sculpture into an entity/partnership that they came to refer to as “the artist.”
Noted Leo on the gorgeously striking complexity of their distinctive decorative realism and unconventional techniques: “People often comment on the ‘Dillon style.’ I think that someplace, the two of us made a pact with each other. We both decided that we would give up the essence of ourselves, that part that made the art each of us did our own. And I think that in doing that we opened the door to everything.”…
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1998 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Warning: there are lots of SPOILERS here. Go away now if you’ve not watched Babylon 5. Really I do mean it!
Twenty-four years ago in the last season of Babylon 5, the “Meditations on the Abyss” episode aired. It has three story lines: a mission to the edge of Centauri space, Lennier both teaches and learns; John Sheridan struggles to keep the Interstellar Alliance together; a Drazi agents plant a bug in Londo Mollari’s quarters and faces the wrath of Vir Cotto which happens after Londo Mollari tells Vir Cotto he will have to be more careful if he wishes to be worthy of his new job as Centauri Ambassador to Babylon 5.
Vir fascinates me. This episode, like so many involving him, upends the apparent light hearted nature of the character and show him to be something much more complex, more dangerous but good for the Empire in fact than Londo is as Londo has no sense of community and Vir does. Vir cares about the Centauri people in a way Londo doesn’t.
“I’d like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike, as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I want to look up into your lifeless eyes and wave like this.” – Vir telling Mr Morden what he wants.
And he gets to do just that. Wasn’t that absolutely thrilling to see Vir looking up at the head of Mr Morden on a stake in the capital city of a devastated Centauri Prime and waving at it?
And he will become the Emperor of an Empire almost completely shattered after Londo is strangled by the blind G’Kar. It not known how the Empire fares under him but it has to be better than it did under under previous Emperors.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 27, 1894 — Dashiell Hammett. Yes, I know he’s written some genre fiction but I’m interested this time in his mysteries. He wrote The Maltese Falcon which was turned into the film you remember and another film a decade earlier. And of course there are Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man series that got turned in a six film series. Now my favorite character by him is the Continental Op in Red Harvest and The Dain Curse. And let’s not forget the Secret Agent X-9 comic strip which I think is genre, which artist Alex Raymond of Flash Gordon fame illustrated. (Died 1961.)
Born May 27, 1911 — Vincent Price. Ok, what’s popping into my head is him on The Muppets in “House of Horrors” sketch they did in which he and Kermit sport impressive fangs. If I had to single out his best work, it’d be in such films as House on Haunted Hill, House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum. Yes, I know the latter two are Roger Corman productions. He also did a lot of series work including being Egghead on Batman, appearing in the Fifties Science Fiction Theater, having a recurring role as Jason Winters on the Time Express and so forth. (Died 1993.)
Born May 27, 1922 — Christopher Lee. He first became famous for his role as Count Dracula in a series of Hammer Horror films. His other film roles include The Creature in The Curse of Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace, Kharis the Mummy in The Mummy, Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun, Lord Summerisle In The Wicker Man, Saruman in The Lord of the Rings films and The Hobbit film trilogy, and Count Dooku in the second and third films of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Now interestingly enough, ISFDB lists him as being the co-editor in the Seventies with Michael Parry with a number of horror anthologies such as Christopher Lee’s ‘X’ Certificate No. 1, From the Archives of Evil and The Great Villains. (Died 2015.)
Born May 27, 1929 — Burnett Toskey, 93. A Seattle fan who was a member of the Nameless Ones and served them in various offices from the early Fifties to the mid Sixties. He was also the official editor of Spectator Amateur Press Society. His work on Cry of the Nameless won the Best Fanzine Hugo at Pitcon, a honor he shared with F. M. Busby, Elinor Busby and Wally Weber.
Born May 27, 1934 — Harlan Ellison. Setting aside the “The City on the Edge of Forever” episode”, I think I best remember him for the two Dangerous Vision anthologies which were amazing reading. His awards are far, far too numerous to recount here so I’ll need to do an essay on them. His Hugos alone are legion and that’s hardly all of the awards that he was honored with. (Died 2018.)
Born May 27, 1935 — Lee Meriwether, 87. Catwoman on Batman. (And if you have to ask which Batman, you’re in the wrong conversation.) Also she had a turn as a rather sexy Lily Munster on The Munsters Today. And of course she had a co-starring role as Dr. Ann MacGregor on The Time Tunnel as well. And yes, I know I’m not touching upon her many other genre roles including her Trek appearance as I know you will.
Born May 27, 1951 — StepanChapman. He wrote but one novel, The Trioka, a most excellent steampunk affair that won that the Philip K. Dick Award. He’s written a lot of short fiction, some of it collected in Danger Music and Dossier. The Trioka is available for a reasonable price at the usual suspects. (Died 2014.)
Born May 27, 1967 — Eddie McClintock, 55. Best known no doubt as Secret Service agent Pete Lattimer on Warehouse 13, a series I loved. He’s also in Warehouse 13: Of Monsters and Men which is listed separately and has the plot of ‘the Warehouse 13 operatives uncover a mysterious comic book artifact and must work together to free themselves from its power.’ He’s had one-off appearances in Witches of East End, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Supergirl, but no other major genre roles to date.
(11) HORSING AROUND WITH SHATNER. Tomorrow, May 28, the Hollywood Charity Horse Show is offering “An Evening with William Shatner”. One ticket is $400. Or buy a table for 10 and only pay – eh, $4,000.
6:00pm – 7:00pm Dinner. During Dinner, Mr. Shatner will go around to each table and take a group shot (Due to Covid restrictions individual photos are not possible.)
7:00pm – 8:00pm Mr. Shatner will tell stories and answer your questions
…The last time I was in Brussel in April, I stopped at the Standaard Boekhandel book shop directly across the street from À l’Innovation to pick up the latest comics. The venerable weekly comics magazine Tintin has launched a slew of new strips to keep up with the competition of Spirou and particularly the French comics magazine Pilote….
(13) BOOK REVIEW. Cora Buhlert also appears in The Dark Man: Journal of Robert E. Howard and Pulp Studies (12.2) with a review of The Weird Tales Story: Enhanced and Expanded by Robert Weinberg et al. The publication is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal devoted to the academic study of Howard’s literary works as well as the literary historical and print culture contexts associated with it.
(14) DOZOIS AND ADLER TRANSCRIPT. The Eaton Collection shares a bit of history.
…“I think it’s safe to say that we’re still occupying our own space this year,” MacFarlane told io9 over video chat at a recent Orville press event. “Certainly, the more that’s out there, you do start to become a little concerned that, you know, is it oversaturation? Is there a pocket where our show and only our show exists? And I think that is still very much the case.”
Not wanting to spoil what’s in store, MacFarlane didn’t get too into detail about what specifically sets The Orville apart from Star Trek this season. In more general terms, “It’s this genre that emerged in the 1930s of a ship in space, captained and crewed very much the same way that a sailing ship was,” he said. “It’s something that dates back a lot of decades. Star Trek was really the first to take it and turn it into something that really mattered and was a serious form of storytelling. You know, for us… sci-fi right now is very dark. It’s very dystopian. It’s very grim in a lot of ways. It’s very cautionary. And the optimistic, uplifting part of that genre is something we haven’t really seen in a while. So there was a pretty obvious open pocket for us to kind of slip into when we started. How we fit in now is—it’s really up to the audience, I think—what we’re bringing to the table in tone, in structure, in scope is in a class of its own. But that remains [to be seen], because the verdict [on season three] has not come in yet.”…
(16) GIVE A DOG A BAD NAME. James Davis Nicoll is happy to help.
(17) WE ARE NASA. People sent me links to this 3-year-old NASA video which has been the subject of several posts this week. Take a look.
We’ve taken giant leaps and left our mark in the heavens. Now we’re building the next chapter, returning to the Moon to stay, and preparing to go beyond. We are NASA – and after 60 years, we’re just getting started. Special thanks to Mike Rowe for the voiceover work.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Evil Dead: The Game,” Fandom Games says this move tie-in “fulfills a need you never knew you had: fighting with four Bruce Campbells.” The narrator suggests that someone convince Lucy Lawless to appear in a game with her Xena armor, “a move that would cause a majority of gamers to regress into puberty.”
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Andrew (not Werdna), Cora Buhlert, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]
(1) NASFIC FAN FUND AUCTION. Michael J. Lowrey makes a last-minute appeal: We still need items for auction pretty desperately: books, fanzines, tuckerizations, fannish memorabilia, whatever, for the Virtual FanFund Auction at the virtual NASFIC on Facebook.” Post items there. The auction starts Friday. Lowrey says —
An auction item post should include the following:
Item Name Description Minimum Bid
Please note that if your Fan Fund Auction Donation requires shipping, you are expected to pay for that shipping as an additional donation. If you wish to restrict shipping to your home country, say so up front.
This is a Silent Fan Fund Auction, to be held on behalf of TAFF (the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund, http://taff.org.uk/), GUFF (the Get Up-and-over Fan Fund, https://taff.org.uk/guff.html), DUFF (the Down Under Fan Fund, https://downunderfanfund.wordpress.com/), and LAFF (The Latin American Fan Fund). These funds serve to enable fans to travel to other countries and continents to attend their major conventions and meet the local fans, people they may know only from letter columns, email, or chatty websites. And to get it all done, the funds depend on contributions of fans like you… and, of course, benefit auctions.
This is your chance to pick up any number of interesting things… art, books, fanzines, pulp magazines, t-shirts, things that somehow involve cats… the opportunity to be “Tuckerized” into a work of fiction… or other peculiar or “fannish” stuff.
Donations for the fan fund auction will be accepted via posts to this event, and we also accept monetary donations via paypal to email@example.com. If you would like the proceeds from your auction donation to go to a particular fan fund, indicate that in your post. The proceeds from donations without designations will be evenly split between the fan funds.
Now allegedly suffering from dementia, Nichelle Nichols, 87, who played Uhura on the original “Star Trek” in the late 1960s, is embroiled in an ongoing legal battle involving her manager, Gilbert Bell. Alleging Bell took advantage of Nichols over the last decade, Nichols’ family has taken to GoFundMe to help raise money for the icon’s legal battle.
The most recent court action came earlier this month, when Kyle Johnson, Nichols’ son, filed a cross complaint against Bell. The complaint is in response to a 2019 lawsuit filed by Bell against Johnson, where Bell alleges that it is Johnson’s actions that are harming Nichols — while Bell has always had her best interests in mind.
Johnson has denied Bell’s allegations of wrongdoing against him. Bell has not yet responded in court to Johnson’s allegations. IndieWire has reached out to lawyers for Johnson, Bell, and a representative for Nichols….
…There’s also the contention that Science Fiction is a continuum, an on-going, centuries old dialogue of call and response, writers reacting to published works and offering up variations, counter-arguments, expansions in response. “We stand on the shoulders of giants” is an expression often used to acknowledge that without the work perfomed by previous generations of authors, editors, publishers, artists and fans, contemporary SF would not be where it is today.
That latter is often negatively receieved these days, and it shouldn’t be. Much is made about contemporary SF rejecting the all white heterosexual european male colonialist based SF of the 40s, 50s and 60s – but of course without the existence of such a body of work, there would be nothing to react to or reject. Call it a benign correction as the field expands to incorporate diverse voices or call it a war against patriarchy, in both estimations there is something that is being addressed and re-evaluated (if not pushed back against and excoriated).
Is there an SF Canon? Yes. But is it a moving scale? Is it inviolate? Is it mandatory?
No, no and no.
(4) CASTING THE CANON. And Doris V. Sutherland cannot resist trying to answer the question for another genre, “What is the Horror Canon?”
…Picture a bookshelf, completely empty and ready to have a tidy set of volumes lined up on it. Now imagine that someone has decided to fill it with the canonical works of horror literature. What would they start with? Frankenstein and Dracula would be obvious choices. These may well be followed with reasonably-sized collections of Poe and Lovecraft stories. Next, let’s add the complete ghost stories of M. R. James.
Now pause for thought. That’s five books – and already we’ve covered a pretty substantial chunk of the most influential horror fiction in the English language. Regardless of what else we put on the shelf – and it’s easy enough to think of further titles, from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to The Exorcist – it’s hard to deny that those above five books will cover a pretty big percentage of whatever horror canon we end up with.
Now try to imagine a bookshelf with the science fiction canon. It’s a taller order: off the top of my head, we’d have at least four books if we wanted to represent Isaac Asimov alone (I, Robot and the Foundation trilogy). When we factor in Verne, Wells, Heinlein, Clarke, Bester, Ellison, Le Guin… well, let’s just say we’re going to end up with more than five books.
So, the horror canon is smaller than the science fiction canon – or, to phrase that differently, more tightly-focused. Thinking about it, this makes sense. Horror is a genre where less is more – look at how many classics of horror fiction are short stories rather than novels, for one. And when I look back at our hypothetical bookshelf of canonical horror, I have to wonder if those books might be better described not as a horror canon, but as a set of horror archetypes.
The dimwitted bigot brigade finally came across my piece about the Science Fiction canon from a couple of weeks ago and had a predictable spasm about it, asserting how it was evidence that (I’m paraphrasing from various sources, here) a) science fiction and fantasy was dying, b) traditional publishing (the sf/f parts of it anyway) is dying too, c) I’m responsible in some measure for a) and b), despite d) the fact that apparently I don’t actually sell and/or only sell through byzantine sleight of hand by the publishing industry for reasons and also e) I suck, f) which is why I don’t want people to read older works because then they would realize that, and while we’re at it g) modern sf/f is infested with terrible work from people who aren’t straight white dudes, h) which I, a straight white dude, am also somehow responsible for, and so in short, i) everything is my fault, and j) I am simultaneously a nobody and also history’s worst monster.
It’s a lot! I think it must be tiring to be a dimwitted bigot, thinking about me….
…Affleck reportedly got the script for The Flash at the end of last week and agreed to board the project.
“He’s a very substantial part of the emotional impact of the movie. The interaction and relationship between Barry and Affleck’s Wayne will bring an emotional level that we haven’t seen before,” Muschietti tells Vanity Fair who broke the news. “It’s Barry’s movie, it’s Barry’s story, but their characters are more related than we think. They both lost their mothers to murder, and that’s one of the emotional vessels of the movie. That’s where the Affleck Batman kicks in.”
Another reason feature mythology-wise why Affleck’s Batman is coming back to The Flash, and that’s that Miller’s Flash considers him to be the original Dark Knight, the guy he fought alongside in Justice League. Hence, per Muschietti, it was necessary to have Affleck’s Batman as a starting point: “He’s the baseline. He’s part of that unaltered state before we jump into Barry’s adventure…There’s a familiarity there,” he further tells Vanity Fair.
2020 has been a scary year. Like some dark fantasy or horror story. Or a dystopian tale about the end of the world.
Why not embrace that spirit? Show this year from hell that you can take whatever it dishes out, because you know what dark fantasies and horror stories are really like. And you’ve seen more ends of the world than 2020 could even dream of.
…Read about curses and ghosts, about Norse gods on the Canadian prairies and what happens after Ragnarök and the end of the world. Read how life on Earth may end if we don’t stop killing our planet. Read twenty-one tales of personal apocalypses (because someone’s world is always ending), and stories from a very special and very strange bookstore. Read about post-human biopunk and day-after-tomorrow climate change adventure. Read about the boy who is either a scrawny, bullied, neglected son of insane parents or the imprisoned leader of a death cult dedicated to the goddess of discord.
…For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of four books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.
Picking Up the Ghost by Tone Milazzo
Wasps at the Speed of Sound by Derryl Murphy
The Door to Lost Pages by Claude Lalumière
Tombstone Blues by Chadwick Ginther
If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular books, plus SEVEN more books, for a total of eleven!
The series will look at the desegregation of the high school and how 14-year-old LaNier and eight other students became the first Black people to attend the all-white school.
In a landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that segregated schools were unconstitutional and called for the integration of all schools.
The nine students, along with Daisy Bates, became civil rights icons as they risked their lives to combat the racist school segregation policies in Arkansas.
(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
This week in 1950, Dimension X aired a story out of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles in which a Martian named Eala dreams of a visitor from a planet, Earth, where they know life is impossible. This episode was unusual in that Bradbury hosted it instead of the usual Dimension X host. The story was later renamed “Ylla” which is considered the canonical title for this story but it was first published as “I’ll Not Ask for Wine” in Maclean’s, January 1, 1950. Listen here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 20, 1883 — Austin Tappan Wright. Did you know that Islandia wasn’t published when he was alive? His widow edited his fifteen hundred page manuscript for publication, and following her own death in 1937 their daughter Sylvia further edited and cut the text yet more; the resulting novel, shorn of Wright’s appendices, was published in 1942, along with a pamphlet by Basil Davenport, An introduction to Islandia; its history, customs, laws, language, and geography, based on the original supplementary material. Is there a full, unedited version? (Died 1931.) (CE)
Born August 20, 1906 – Sheila Hawkins. Wrote and illustrated fifty children’s books in the United Kingdom and Australia, many with animals, many fantastic. Here is The Singing Chameleon. Here is Taliesin. Here is an interior for Long Ears. Here is Wish and the Magic Nut, which won Picture Book of the Year. Also landscapes and abstracts. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born August 20, 1909 — André Morell. Best remembered as Professor Bernard Quatermass in the Quatermass and the Pit series, and as Doctor Watson in the Hammer Film Productions version of The Hound of the Baskervilles which is quite excellent. It’s also worth noting that he played O’Brien in BBC’s 1954 Nineteen Eighty-Four, opposite Peter Cushing as Winston Smith. (Died 1978.) (CE)
Born August 20, 1915 – Arthur Porges. For us a hundred short stories, some under other names; half a dozen posthumous collections. Many more for others e.g. detective fiction. Translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish. Here he is on the cover of the Sep 60 Fantastic (i.e. his story “The Shadowsmith”; cover artwork by John Duillo). This Website is about AP and his brother Irwin. (Died 2006) [JH]
Born August 20, 1942 – Joe Mayhew, F.N. One of our finest fanartists; two Hugos for that. Five short stories published, in Aberrations, Aboriginal, and Tomorrow; a score of reviews in Absolute Magnitude, more in the Washington Post. A hundred seventy drawings in Asimov’s, Flag, FOSFAX, The Frozen Frog, It Goes on the Shelf, Journey Planet, Mimosa, NY Rev. of SF, PLOKTA, Squiggeldy Hoy, Vojo de Vivo; various Worldcon and other con publications. Radio-style plays for Disclaves and Boskones. Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service award). Chaired the 1987 Disclave. Library of Congress Recommending Officer for SF. Fan Guest of Honor at Novacon II, Albacon 3; Ghost of Honor at Capclave 2001, Balticon 49. Here is his cover for the Nov 98 WSFA Journal (Washington, D.C., SF Ass’n). Here is an illustration from Mimosa 17. (Died 2000) [JH]
Born August 20, 1943 — Sylvester McCoy, 77. The Seventh Doctor and the last canon Doctor until the modern era of the official BBC Doctors when they revised canon. He also played Radagast in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films, he’s The Old Man of Hoy in Sense8 and he voices Aezethril the Wizard in the “Endgame” episode of Thunderbirds Are Go. (CE)
Born August 20, 1951 — Greg Bear, 69. Blood Music which won both a Nebula Award for Best Novelette and a Hugo Award at L.A. Con II for Best Novelette is an amazing read. I’m also very fond of the Songs of Earth and Power duology, The Infinity Concerto and The Serpent Mage, and found his Queen of Angels a fascinating mystery. I confess that I’ve not read him over the past few decades. What’s he done as of late that I should consider reading? (CE)
Born August 20, 1961 — Greg Egan, 59. Australian writer who exists though he does his damnedest to avoid a digital footprint. His excellent Permutation City won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and “Oceanic” garnered a Best Novella Hugo at Ausiecon Three. I assume he wasn’t there given his stance against attending Worldcons? (CE)
Born August 20, 1961 – Jim Clemens, 59. Three dozen novels for us, half a dozen shorter stories, some with Rebecca Cantrell; action-adventure books under another name, some with Grant Blackwood; certified SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) diver; Doctor of Veterinary Medicine under yet another name – if he wants to keep these careers separate, why shouldn’t we? Translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian. [JH]
Born August 20, 1962 — Sophie Aldred, 58. She’s Ace, the Seventh Doctor’s Companion. (By the way Doctor Who Magazine: Costume Design: Dressing the Doctor from William Hartnell to Jodie Whittaker is a brilliant read and has a nice look at her costuming.) She’s reprised the role in the Big Finish audio adventures. (CE)
Born August 20, 1969 – Christina Diaz Gonzalez, 51. Three novels for us, three others. Many awards for historical fiction The Red Umbrella (also in Spanish). Born in Florida to Cuban parents. Took a law degree, practiced law awhile. Lives in Miami with husband, sons, a dog that can open doors. [JH]
Born August 2, 1972 – Carolyn Cohagen, 48. Four novels. Conducts Girls With Pens, creative writing for girls 8-14. Earlier, a stand-up comic in New York, Chicago, London, Amsterdam; studied physical theater at École international de théâtre Jacques Lecoq, Paris. Ranks The Phantom Tollbooth about the same as Slaughterhouse-Five. [JH]
(12) HORRIBLE EXAMPLES. Earlier this month Titan Comics was handed a golden opportunity to publicize their collection of The Best of Hägar The Horrible by Dik Browne.
Joe Biden recently announced his choice of Kamala Harris as running mate, and in the official photograph by Adam Schultz also revealed that he keeps a framed cartoon strip on his desk – from Titan’s own Hägar the Horrible!
Bleeding Cool reported on the story, as well as quoting Biden saying that the strip had helped him through personal tragedies by reminding him “a lot of people are going through a lot worse than you’re going through, and the way they get through it is … they have people reach out, touch them, give them solace.”
This is the strip on Biden’s desk:
And here are some other examples Titan shared in its press kit, several with genre jokes.
(13) NINETEEN MINUTES OF FAME. At least, the nineteen-minute mark is where fame summons James Davis Nicoll in Isaac Arthur’s video The Fermi Paradox: Galactic Disasters. James notes, “He mispronounced my name but I am the Nicoll in Nicoll-Dyson Laser, which can reduce an Earth-sized world to vapour in a week at distances of up to a million light years.”
If anything, this video makes Cixin Liu’s Death’s End sound too cheerful.
(14) THE NAME OF MY LAST BAND. Just released on YouTube today — Live From the Space Stage: A HALYX Story is a full-length documentary.
For one glorious summer, an experimental, sci-fi band rocked Disneyland’s space stage. With a bass-playing Wookiee and an acrobatic frog, the band’s existence is nearly unbelievable, and the story behind its creation is just as incredible.
Possibly the most famous of all of the John Carter of Mars covers by Frazetta, the artist actually painted two versions in 1970, with the first being published as a Doubleday hardback dustjacket cover. Fearing that the original art would not be returned from the publisher, Frazetta immediately painted a version for himself – the stellar painting we’re offering – since he was so proud of the image. Frazetta personally related to Joe and Nadia Mannarino (see below), and presumably others, that he loved this second painting even more than the original (which he actually sold in the early 1970s). We’re showing the two paintings side-by-side online for review. Regardless of which version you prefer, both represent the quintessential heroic fantasy image, with the bold, strong hero, the voluptuous female at his legs, and surrounded by a dangerous alien environment.
…When Frankenstein first appeared in print in 1818, anonymously but with a preface by Percy Bysshe Shelley, plenty of readers assumed that the poet was its author. In Mary Shelley’s introduction to the 1831 edition, she wrote that people had asked her “how a young girl, came to think of, and to dilate upon, so very hideous an idea?” In keeping with the story’s eerie origins – the stormy nights and sunless summer days beside Lake Geneva – she put it down to a kind of visitation, the result of “imagination, unbidden, possessed”. Yet as the manuscript reveals, inky-fingered graft played a big role in allowing the doctor’s monster to evolve into the more tragic, nuanced creature that’s haunted our imaginations ever since. In fact, “creature”, Mary’s initial description, is later replaced by “being”, a being who becomes still more uncannily human thanks to other tweaks such as replacing the “fangs” that Victor imagines in his feverish delirium with “fingers” grasping at his neck.
Sadly, the refusal to believe that a woman barely out of girlhood could possibly have authored this transcendent Promethean fable has never quite gone away, and Percy’s notes on the manuscript have been used to bolster the theory that he at least co-authored Mary’s novel. While he’s certainly an astute line editor, the chief revelation here is domestic: the radical Romantic was a supportive, affectionate partner.
The idea of using a public bathroom with see-through walls may sound like the stuff of nightmares. But a famous Japanese architect is hoping to change that view, using vibrant colors and new technology to make restrooms in Tokyo parks more inviting.
“There are two things we worry about when entering a public restroom, especially those located at a park,” according to architect Shigeru Ban’s firm. “The first is cleanliness, and the second is whether anyone is inside.”
Transparent walls can address both of those worries, Ban says, by showing people what awaits them inside. After users enter the restroom and lock the door, the powder room’s walls turn a powdery pastel shade — and are no longer see-through.
“Using a new technology, we made the outer walls with glass that becomes opaque when the lock is closed, so that a person can check inside before entering,” the Nippon Foundation says.
The group is behind the Tokyo Toilet project, enlisting world-famous architects to create toilets “like you’ve never seen.”
A ninja museum has been raided in Japan, with thieves making off with more than a million yen (£7,100).
The Iga-ryu Ninja Museum in central Japan is dedicated to the history of the famous Iga clan of ninja.
Police were called after an alarm was set off at 01:30 local time on Monday (16:30 GMT on Sunday), the museum said on Thursday.
Officers found the office door had been forced with what is thought to be a crowbar and the 150kg safe was missing.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Someone with time on their hands turns 2001 into 2020.
2020: an isolation odyssey is a reenactment of the iconic finale of 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968). Restaged in the context of home quarantine, the journey through time adapts to the mundane dramas of self-isolation–poking fun at the navel-gazing saga of life alone and indoors.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, N., Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Andrew Porter, Michael J. Walsh, Linda Deneroff, Chip Hitchcock, Paul DiFilippo, John A Arkansawyer, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Simon Bisson.]
Wall to wall carpet, wood, leather, house plants. “It looked like a really plush corporate office. That makes it the most realistic portrayal what it’s like in space. If you’re out there for years and years, you’d go crazy if you were in something that looks like a submarine.” Pre-Discovery and pre-Orville interview with Seth MacFarlane.
“When I look at the television shows that I responded to, if I watch a cop show, if I watch a medical show, I’m going to see the murder of the week, I’m going to see the disease of the week. Growing up, I liked things like ‘The Twilight Zone.’ I was a ‘Star Trek’ fan because I didn’t know if I was going to see and adventure story, or a quiet relationship story, or a story involving some sort of social and political commentary. To turn on a show and not have any idea what it is you’re going to see.” Plus Seth MacFarlane’s imitation of Captain Kirk. Also pre-Discovery and pre-Orville.
Patrick Stewart didn’t think Next Generation would last
Patrick Stewart on the moment he knew he was finished playing Professor X
Patrick Stewart: “Warning: Unknown British Shaekespearian Actor”
SFWA’s excellent Executive Director Kate Baker said a few years back, “I want to make the Nebula weekend -the- premiere conference for professional F&SF writers” and I said, “Tell me what you need to do it.” This year’s Nebulas were fantastic; next year’s will be even more, including having Data Guy there to present on the industry, an effort that’s taken a couple of years to get in place.
The SFWA Storybundle had its first year and was wildly successful, as was the Nebula-focused HumbleBundle. The Storybundle program will grow 150% in size in 2017, which sounds really impressive but just means 3 bundles instead of 2. Plus – SFWA’s Self-Publishing Committee has taken that effort over, so no work for me! (Last year I read a bajillion books for it.)
A long, slow revamp of Emergency Medical Fund stuff driven by Jennifer Brozek, Oz Drummond, and Bud Sparhawk is coming to its final stages. I just saw the EMF stewards in action: they received an appeal, evaluated it within 24 hours, and within a week, if I am correct, funds had been disbursed. The Grants Committee just wrapped up its 2017 work; next year it’ll have even more money to play with, thanks to the aforementioned Nebula HumbleBundle.
With its last issue of the year, Beneath Ceaseless Skies delivers two very dark fantasy stories about expectations and rules, curses and sacrifices. In both characters find themselves playing out roles that have been laid out for them, having to find ways to exist in stifling situations. In both, the main characters must contend with the weight of tradition and expectation. In both, the main characters are faced with strong willed women who want to change things. Who want to break the Rules. And in both stories the main characters have to face what the world is like, what their life might be like, should those Rules shatter. It’s an interesting issue that asks some very difficult questions and reveals some visceral hurts. To the reviews! …
Alfie Curtis, the British actor who earned a place in the Star Wars pantheon for playing the menacing Mos Eisley Cantina scofflaw with the “death sentence on 12 systems,” has died, according to the BBC. He was 87. News of Curtis’s death was first reported by the fan site Elite Signatures.
ALFIE CURTIS made the #StarWars Mos Eisley Cantina scene (one of the most memorable I've ever been a part of) even MORE memorable. As horrific as he was on-camera, off-camera he was funny, kind & a real gentleman. Thanks Alf- you'll be missed. #RIP ??- mh pic.twitter.com/laxKvbGmrd
December 27, 1904 — J. M. Barrie’s play Peter Pan premiered in London
December 27, 1951 — Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere premiered.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY STARGAZER
Born December 27, 1571 — Johannes Kepler
(8) YOUNG SETH MACFARLANE’S STAR TREK VIDEO. David Klaus sent this video and made these comments about it on Facebook:
I presume this is only an excerpt of a longer fan film Seth MacFarlane made as a teen, a far better film than I could have made when I had thoughts about trying to do when I was a teen many years before this.
His space background is an artist’s conception of gases spiraling into the event horizon of a black hole, pretty cool, along with what appears to be an AMT model of the refit Enterprise. His voice occasional verges into sounding like Shatner’s instead of his own, and he uses sound effects and music from the original series. I’d get a kick out of seeing the whole thing.
To make his models, he drove 1,300 miles to Los Alamos, N.M., the birthplace of the atomic bombs. The museum there has accurate, full-scale replicas of Little Boy and Fat Man that he could work from. As he designed his models, he decided he’d write a brochure to go with them.
“The brochure turned into a 431-page book,” he says.
Coster-Mullen never sold a single model, but he has been adding to his bomb brochure ever since, building up what are basically complete specs for America’s first nuclear weapons. He has traveled the country, and the world, to glean all sorts of supposedly secret details.
“Nobody leaked anything to me,”he says. “I found all this information was hiding in plain sight.”
(10) SOI DISANT DISNEY PRINCESS. She’s willing to take the promotion!
Disney buying Fox has resurged the whole people asking me if there will be a season 2 of Firefly, but all I’m thinking is that this finally makes me a Disney princess sort of ??
Battlestar did it’s level best to depict a society that was different from ours, even though it had points in common. Everything from the ranks and uniforms to the games and terminology smacked of an alternate universe, not men and women who could have walked off a modern day aircraft carrier. It wasn’t that far from America, I admit, but it was different – again, unlike the remake. It’s really a pity they didn’t put quite so much thought into their FTL drive concepts, as the exact nature of ‘light-speed’ is never really addressed.
Like most other shows from that era, Battlestar needed a good cast – the special effects could not carry the show by themselves. And Battlestar had some very good characters – Commander Adama, Apollo, Starbuck, Tigh and Boomer … and, on the other side, Baltar and Count Iblis. (Notably, Baltar was originally executed by the Cylons after betraying the Twelve Colonies, but he was later brought back because they needed someone as the face of the enemy, a problem the remake sought to solve with ‘skin-jobs.’)
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, David K.M. Klaus, Will R. Cat Eldridge, and Chip Hitchcock. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]
…It started because I was talking to a Tordotcom reviewer. A Hugo Nominated Fanzine writer chimed in to tell me how irrelevant I am by referencing my last novel, how she looked up “Rescue Run” and found that there was “nothing in sci-fi that returned on a google search”.
I corrected, of course, stating not only is there my extremely highly regarded, award nominated and well-reviewed book, but that I chose the title intentionally as an homage to the late great Anne McCaffrey, who wrote a book by the same name. This work was demeaned by her first as “it’s only a short story” (It’s a novella, actually) and this person who is nominated for the Hugo Award for fanzine work, retorted to that by calling Anne Mccaffrey “old and irrelevant.”
… And of Hugos? This fanzine writer who writes self-described “feminist” commentary on science fiction is attacking the first woman ever to win the award! For shame! It boggles my mind to see this kind of lack of reverence for her.
When it comes to protecting the reputation of Anne McCaffrey, I didn’t know Jon had a dog in this fight. Now I know he’s got at least a puppy.
Why do the Imperial Stormtroopers all appear to be left-handed? It’s because their ammunition magazines on their weapons are on the left side, so it’s easier to hold the guns left-handed.
So is this Lego Storm Trooper inaccurately showing a right-hander?
(5) BONUS TRIVIAL TRIVIA
And while we’re on the subject of Star Wars, did you know….? (Via Scifihistory.net.)
(6) BOOTHE OBIT. Powers Boothe, who appeared in Deadwood and Sin City died May 15 at the age of 68. Boothe also played Gideon Malick in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, first in The Avengers (2012), then on TV in ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The starlight dips in an irregular pattern, suggesting that something is intermittently blocking the star. This bizarre behaviour, first reported in autumn 2015 and not seen in any other star, has scientists baffled. Researchers have proposed a myriad of explanations, including black holes, comet swarms, and interstellar clouds. But a conclusive answer remains elusive. And one hypothesis in particular has raised eyebrows: aliens.
Perhaps, researchers have posited, an advanced alien civilisation has constructed a vast structure encircling their star, maybe an enormous power plant that harnesses the star’s energy. When parts of the structure pass in front of the star, it creates dips in the starlight.
Scientists who drilled into the impact crater associated with the demise of the dinosaurs summarise their findings so far in a BBC Two documentary on Monday.
…It is becoming clear that the 15km-wide asteroid could not have hit a worse place on Earth.
The shallow sea covering the target site meant colossal volumes of sulphur (from the mineral gypsum) were injected into the atmosphere, extending the “global winter” period that followed the immediate firestorm.
Had the asteroid struck a different location, the outcome might have been very different.
“This is where we get to the great irony of the story – because in the end it wasn’t the size of the asteroid, the scale of blast, or even its global reach that made dinosaurs extinct – it was where the impact happened,” said Ben Garrod, who presents The Day The Dinosaurs Died with Alice Roberts.
NASA will miss its deadline for the first flight of the Orion capsule and the Space Launch System, with the launch moved from 2018 to 2019.
The agency’s Bill Gerstenmaier also told media in a briefing last Friday that as well as delaying the first flight (designated Exploration Mission One, EM-1), the EM-2 mission that will carry astronauts will probably miss its original 2021 date.
In February, the new Trump administration asked NASA to assess the feasibility of changing the EM-1 mission, planned as an uncrewed jaunt into cislunar space between Earth and Luna, to instead carry human cargo around the moon.
NASA has concluded that it can’t justify the cost of such a change to the schedule.
I am so very honored and pleased to reveal what I’ve been quietly psyched about for a while now:… I am thrilled to go to China for my first ever visit, and meet new friends in Beijing and Shanghai! So thrilled!
Cat Rambo told File 770 she’s more than excited about the trip:
I am super!! stoked!! about it and have been spending the last month and half trying to pick up a little conversational Mandarin. Post Beijing, another Chinese SF organization is taking me to Chengdu for a similar ceremony involving SFF film awards. This trip is – next to being able to tell Carolyn Cherryh she was a SFWA grandmaster — one of the biggest thrills of being SFWA president I’ve experienced so far, and I’m looking forward to getting to know the Chinese publishing scene a bit better in a way that benefits SFWA and its members.
(2) ANIME EXPO HARASSMENT POLICY. Sean O’Hara reported in a comment, “Anime Expo just went hardcore with a new Youth Protection program that requires all employees, volunteers, vendors and panelists to submit to a criminal background check and take an online courses.”
The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA) recognizes the importance of protecting youth participants in SPJA events and activities, including online activities. SPJA has adopted a zero tolerance policy with regard to actions or behaviors that threaten the safety of young people, including violence, bullying, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other inappropriate or potentially harmful actions or behaviors. SPJA views the safety and security of all participants—especially young people— as a top priority.
All participants at SPJA events and activities (including online activities) are encouraged to report any unsafe or inappropriate behaviors, conditions, or circumstances, including any violation of this Youth Protection Policy or violation of any other policy or rule intended to promote a safe environment….
White: They were there. I found them. I mean, I can’t remember what the first comic book I ever saw was but it was probably one that one of the neighborhood kids had and it very likely didn’t even have a cover….We’re talking the war years, the ‘40s, early on [and] comic books just sort of passed from hand-to-hand. It was a long time before I bought my first comic book.
There’s an interesting story involved in all of this….One day, I think it was between the first and second grade, the summer, and…Madison had a swimming program for the summer.
And I would walk over to the school, which was a mile away but it didn’t matter because I used to walk everywhere, at a certain time in the morning and join up with a motley crew of other kids and be taken into Washington, D.C. to 14th and K Streets where there was the Statler Hotel….At the end of that we were brought back to Madison and it was time for me to walk home.
But I didn’t walk directly home. For some strange reason I followed N. Washington Street north…I’m not sure where I was headed to but north of Columbia Street there is a bank that used to be a Safeway, a tiny Safeway…and I’m walking in that direction and I’m almost opposite that Safeway when I meet a friend of mine who is pushing his bicycle up the sidewalk…and in the basket of his bicycle he has several comic books.
And we stopped and we talked and he showed me the comic books and I don’t know how I did it, but I talked him out of them and he gave them to me and one of them was an issue of Wonder Woman.
Now I had never seen Wonder Woman before – this was a brand new comic book to me. And it was strange. The art was strange…it was almost Rococo and the writing was even stranger….I started reading this comic book as I was coming along Columbia Street to Tuckahoe and I’m just sort of very slowly walking, reading intensely. It would be the equivalent of someone obliviously reading their cell phone while walking down a sidewalk….I was about halfway home when I look up and I see my mother rapidly approaching and she does not have a happy look on her face.
I am hours late because I’ve been spending all my time dawdling, reading comic books. And my mother took the comic books out of my hand and took the ratty dozen or so that I already had, most of them coverless, and took them out to our incinerator and burned them all.
This profoundly upset me but it also changed me. I was six or seven then, and I decided two things which I was happy to share with my mother. One of them was that she was never ever going to destroy anything of mine again and she never did….and the other thing it did was make me into a collector…from that point on I became a comic book collector…and by time I was in high school…I was written up in a newspaper called the Washington News as the boy with 10,000 comic books.
Between Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show, prolific writer/producer/voice actor Seth MacFarlane has voiced a lot of characters on television and created even more, but now he’s heading into the live-action realm for his next TV series.
Fox announced today that MacFarlane is developing a new, though still untitled comedic drama for the network for which he’ll executive produce and star based off a script he wrote. Here’s what we know: the series will consist of 13 hourlong episodes and takes place 300 years in the future where the crew of the Orville, “a not-so-top-of-the-line exploratory ship in Earth’s interstellar Fleet,” deal with cosmic challenges on their adventures.
Submissions for fiction and poetry are open until June 4th. Submissions for line art and coloring pages are open until June 30th.
We want this anthology to reach outside Western and Anglophone traditions of speculative fiction, showcasing the way environment and environmental issues are talked about and perceived in all parts of the world. We encourage and welcome submissions from diverse voices and under-represented populations, including, but not limited to, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, those with disabilities, and the elderly. Authors of all walks of life should feel encouraged to send us stories and poems celebrating these diverse characters and settings all around us.
Just in time for the upcoming Manticon (where I will be Guest of Honor), I present to you the first Frontlines-themed cocktail: the Shockfrost.
Those of you who have read ANGLES OF ATTACK will know that the Shockfrost is featured in the novel as the specialty of the bars on the ice moon New Svalbard, and that it’s supposed to pack quite a punch. Andrew mentions the look (blue) and the flavors of the drink when he tries one for the first time (notes of licorice, mint, and God-knows-what-else). So I made a trip to the liquor store for ingredients and experimented with the flavors a bit to create a real-world replica….
…Is it art for the ages? Absolutely not. Though there is some morality tacked on, mostly of the “humanity mustn’t think itself the master of nature” sort of thing, it’s an afterthought. Characterization is similarly abandoned around the halfway mark. This is no Godzilla — it is knocking over of toy cities for the fun of it.
At that, it succeeds quite well. Gorgo makes liberal and reasonably facile use of stock footage (though the planes all inexplicably bear United States markings!) The cinematography is well composed, the color bright, the screen wide. The acting is serviceable, and for anyone who wants to see what London looks like in this modern year of 1961, there are lots of great shots, both pre and post-destruction…
…In her piece, “Captain America’s a douchey libertarian now: Why did Marvel have to ruin Steve Rogers?”, Marcotte is upset because the Cap didn’t knuckle under to “reasonable, common-sense” restrictions on his freedom to act for good. It’s not worth a detailed fisking — generating clickbait articles for a living doesn’t allow much time for careful writing — but she does reveal the mindset of those who believe every decision should be made by a committee of the select. The “unregulated” and “uncontrolled” are too dangerous to tolerate. Some key bits:
Steve Rogers is an icon of liberal patriotism, and his newest movie turns him into an Ayn Rand acolyte…
Most corporate blockbuster movies would cave into the temptation to make the character some kind of generic, apolitical “patriot,” abandoning the comic tradition that has painted him as a New Deal Democrat standing up consistently for liberal values. Instead, in both the first movie and in “Captain America: Winter Soldier,” we get Steve the liberal: Anti-racist, anti-sexist, valuing transparency in government and his belief that we the people should hold power instead of some unaccountable tyrants who believe might makes right.
Steve is All-American, so he is classically liberal: believing in the rule of law, equality of opportunity, and freedom to do anything that doesn’t step on someone else’s rights and freedoms. Amanda does not believe in individual freedom — she believes in “freedom,” approved by committee, with individual achievement subordinated to identity politics aiming at equality of outcome. No one should be free to judge the morality of a situation and act without lobbying others to achieve a majority and gaining approval of people like her….
His career took off in earnest in the early 1940s, initially while he was still in the Army. He taught wounded airmen how to do figure drawing at a hospital in Coral Gables, Florida, then was recruited by the Pentagon to create posters, illustrated pamphlets, and exercise pieces for soldiers in hospitals around the country. Once he was discharged, he worked at Timely Comics and Atlas Comics (precursors of Marvel Comics) with his first boss, Stan Lee. “He had been discharged from the military and took over from a substitute editor,” Jaffee said. “He said, ‘Oh, come ahead.’ He even wrote a letter to tell them that I had a job to go to so they favored my release. That’s how my career really got going.”
Jaffee explained his unusual working relationship with Lee, whom he first met when he was just 20 years old: “Usually in the comic book business, someone writes a script, an artist is called in, the artist shows pencils, and if the pencils are approved, the artist is told to finish with ink,” he said. “Each step is edited by the editor who approves of each stage. I didn’t have that with Stan Lee. He and I apparently hit it off so well that he just told me, ‘Go ahead and write it, pencil it, and ink it and bring it in.’ It was never rejected. I was very fortunate because it was so smooth working and we enjoyed each other’s company and he was a very, very bubbling with ideas kind of guy.”
That loose set-up turned out to be the norm for Jaffee throughout his career, even as he left Lee and ventured out into the uncertain world of freelancing: “We were responsible for our own income and upkeep. What you do is you wake up every Monday morning and you say, ‘What am I going to produce now to make a buck?'”
(12) AUDIO TINGLES. Starburst’s The BookWorm Podcast hosted by Ed Fortune enters the Hugos debate. Mostly by laughing: “Enter the Voxman”.
Ed reviews Star Wars Bloodline by Claudia Gray and Ninfa returns to review Victoria Avayard’s The Glass Sword. Extended chatter about the awards season and the usual silliness.
(13) SHORT SF VIDEO. Hampus Eckerman says, “This nice little gem became available on Youtube just a few days ago:”
The Nostalgist A Sci-fi Short Based on a Story From the Author of Robopocalypse
In the futuristic city of Vanille, with properly tuned ImmerSyst Eyes & Ears the world can look and sound like a paradise. But the life of a father and his young son threatens to disintegrate when the father’s device begins to fail. Desperate to avoid facing his traumatic reality, the man must venture outside to find a replacement, into a city where violence and danger lurk beneath a beautiful but fragile veneer…
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Sean O’Hara, Paul Weimer, Michael J. Walsh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Doctor Science.]