(1) DOES THE GENRE HAVE A CORE? Charles Payseur, whose reviews of short sff fiction now appear in a column for Locus, questions what is the “core” of the genre in the context of noting that he doesn’t cover Clarkesworld, Asimov’s or Analog. “Quick Sips 06/24/2022”.
…I do always encourage people to just find venues that you like and then otherwise read what you feel like. The field of short SFF is too big to take on comprehensively, and even trying can quickly lead to burnout and frustration (just ask…most short SFF reviewers who try). As a reviewer and now as an editor, though, does there arise some sort of obligation to try? It’s a decent question, and one that I’m not sure anyone can answer because…what would trying look like, if not doing exactly what I’m doing now? Could I fit Clarkesworld into my reading? I’m actually unsure. Probably if I could I would have. It’s not like I have suddenly opened up a bunch of free time in my life. And yet I feel that some would think this omission a failing, as some have found my lack of coverage of Asimov’s and Analog a failing. And…I don’t have much to offer to that. All of those are very large publications and take a big commitment to get through every month. Were they smaller I’d probably be more tempted. As is…
There are some arguments one could make about how to determine where the “core” should be. By what pays best, maybe? Or by what has a long tradition of award nominations. By the prestige of the editor. However the lines of the “core” are drawn, though, many will feel excluded for being on the outside of it. It’s a problem that really can only be overcome by engagement. If more people were engaged in drawing their personal cores, then what gets engaged with critically might greatly expand. If reviewers all are moved not by proximity to some sort of “required reading” but rather are pulled in the direction of their personal taste, then as long as the field of reviewers were diverse and acting in good faith, then the largest possible coverage would be achieved….
Brenda W. Clough and her husband moved from Reston, Va., to Portland, Ore., early in 2020. Brenda, a novelist, shared their experience and what they love about their new home in an email. The following was edited for length and clarity.
“My husband and I sold our big house in Reston, Va., when we retired in early 2020. What good timing we had, because both of our offices closed down later that year. We moved to his hometown, Portland, Ore., where we bought a condo downtown.
… I also wanted modern architecture. The D.C. suburbs are almost purely Colonial in style, a Mid-Atlantic thing. Now I have become a fan of poured concrete and Brutalism. My current home has plate-glass windows that go from floor to ceiling. There are no steps at all. I can’t hear my neighbors, and I don’t have screens on the windows. There aren’t many bugs downtown.
Because I am a novelist, I also needed a place that could accommodate our 10 tall bookcases full of books. I dragged the ones in the picture all the way from the East Coast to the West, the tools of my trade: a science fiction and fantasy collection that spans 70 years and historical volumes focusing on Antarctica or Victorian England. And these are only the survivors of a major cull. I weeded out half of the books and gave them to Reston’s Used Book Shop in Lake Anne, which has been enabling my book shopping for decades. It costs roughly a dollar a pound to move stuff coast to coast, a price that powerfully focuses the mind. Moving like this is the opportunity to prune all the possessions back. It has been liberating to get rid of stuff from the basement, garage and attic….
Gwendolyn Clare’s debut novel, Ink, Iron, and Glass, and its sequel, Mist, Metal, and Ash, compose a duology published in 2018 and 2019 about a young mad scientist with the ability to write new worlds into existence. Coming up in November is In the City of Time, the first book in a duology about three science prodigies on a time-traveling adventure to save the Earth. Her short stories have appeared in Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, Analog, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, among others, and her poetry has been nominated for the Rhysling Award.
Her short story “Tasting Notes on the Varietals of the Southern Coast” was reprinted in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018. She holds a BA in Ecology, a BS in Geophysics, and a PhD in Mycology — the last of those making me wish I got around to asking her to assuage my fears about a relative of mine who picks and eats wild mushrooms … but hey, that will have to be dealt with at a future meal during a different con.
We discussed the important lesson COVID taught her about her career, whether her most famous short story reads differently during these pandemic times, the identity of the science fiction writer I was startled to learn had been her high school geometry teacher, what the novels of Elizabeth Bear taught her about writing, the short story concept she decided to instead turn into what became her first published novel, how she gets into the mindset to write in the Young Adult genre, the amazing cleanliness of her first drafts, the pantsing fingerprints she sees on Stephen King, the many iterations recent writers have made to John W. Campbell’s “Who Goes There?,” and much more.
(4) WJW AND THE THREE R’S. The Speculative Literature Foundation’s Portolan Project conducted “An Interview with Walter Jon Williams” about the three R’s of writing craft: Raising the stakes, Reveals, and Reversals.
“Reveals keep the narrative from plodding directly from one point to another, and often sends it off in another direction entirely. This comes from theater in which there’s a curtain, you don’t know what’s behind the curtain. Action goes on, the curtain is pulled back and suddenly you’re in another place that is very different from where you were before.”
Watch or read our interview with Walter Jon Williams on the three R’s of writing craft and how they could make our stories more engaging.
Incidentally, the Portolan Writing Project: Phase 1 recently completed a successful Kickstarter that raised over $5,000. The initiative seeks “to provide a wealth of exceptional creative writing courses and resources, free to the public.”
My debut mystery, What Jonah Knew, has been described many different ways: Magical. Mystical. Paranormal. Supernatural. And though in one way the labels fit, in another way they raise questions about where the otherworldly stops and reality begins.
Some background. I was working as a journalist when I was assigned to write a magazine article on past-life regression therapy. As part of my research, I scheduled an appointment with a well-known Jungian analyst who specialized in this work and had published books on the subject. To be honest, I didn’t expect anything to happen. I knew these sessions involved hypnotic suggestion and I—an admitted control freak—believed myself to be immune to trance-induced states. What’s more, the whole business struck me as unreliable at best, fraudulent at worst. Nearly everyone I’d read about who claimed to recall a past life under hypnosis seemed to remember being someone famous—Napoleon, Nefertiti, Abraham Lincoln—never your average serf or working stiff….
Do you make a conscious effort to include LGBTQ material in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
Being part of a marginalized group creates a hyperawareness of how members are represented in the media, including in fiction. To paraphrase an apocryphal quote: First they ignore you, then they scorn you, then they laugh at you, etc. When LGBTQ writers tell stories, there can be pressure to create “good representation” and to avoid portrayals that are complicated or nuanced especially if they touch on stereotypes. Writing horror is doubly tricky because we have to navigate creating characters and plots based on real fears and injustices, which can blur into inflicting pain on readers and calling up their trauma.
In my writing, I aim to include shades of dark and light, to explore the complications, inconsistencies, and dilemmas that shape every character, and to reach a queer audience with stories that expand the boundaries of queer pop culture.
How do you feel the LGBTQ community has been represented thus far in the genre and what hopes do you have for representation in the genre going forward?
I must admit I am fascinated with essays utilizing queer theory to explore works of horror that most readers would consider “very straight” classic works of horror. A number of academics have applied this to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde as well as Stoker’s Dracula. I feel that such examinations are perfectly valid as I bring my own perspective (a very gay one) to everything I read or watch or hear.
While the number of queer-themed contemporary horror fiction has grown over the years so it is very possible to fill several bookshelves with just new releases, I do wish more LGBTQ readers would familiarize themselves with older works—I’m frustrated with tweets and posts that present and celebrate queer horror as a twenty-first-century phenomenon, ignoring the great efforts of of many authors. Before there was Clive Barker and Poppy Z. Brite, horror fans could delve into the Gothic storytelling of Francis Lathom or Forrest Reid, the Southern macabre of Michael McDowell, or the vampires of Jewelle Gomez and Jeffrey McMahan. To deny their existence is wrong.
Since the dissolution of the Motion Picture Production Code, also known as the Hays Code, in the late 1960s, film censorship has been relatively uncommon in the United States. However, several other countries still actively ban films. Though science fiction is less of a target than other genres, there are still many notable examples of sci-fi films that ran afoul of censors, and behind each case lies a deeper story. Ironically, these bans end up revealing more about the perpetrators and their politics than any sci-fi film ever could.
First on the list:
The Matrix: Reloaded
“The Matrix” sparked backlash when it was first released in Egypt. As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports, several Islamic publications interpreted the film as supporting Zionism. Naturally, Egypt promptly banned its follow-up, “The Matrix: Reloaded,” as well, but the reasoning behind that decision is somewhat murkier.
According to Variety, the country’s Department of Monitoring Artistic Products partially attributed the ban to “scenes of excessive violence,” which is a common red flag in Middle Eastern countries. However, the larger reason requires more digging. The committee also noted that the film “deals explicitly with issues of creation and existence,” including “the Creator and the created, the origins of creation, [and] free will and predestination.”
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1950 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Seventy-two years ago on this day, the radio version of Robert Heinlein’s Destination Moon aired on the Dimension X radio show. It was episode twelve of the series.
Despite common belief that it based off the film version of Heinlein’s novel, it was not. It was instead based on Heinlein’s final draft of the film’s shooting script. During the broadcast on June 24, 1950, the program was interrupted by a news bulletin announcing that North Korea had declared war on South Korea, marking the beginning of the Korean War.
A shortened version of this Destination Moon radio program was adapted by Charles Palmer and was released by Capitol Records for children.
Born June 24, 1842 — Ambrose Bierce. The Devil’s Dictionary is certainly worth reading but it’s not genre. For his best genre work, I’d say it’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” which along with his “The Tail of the Sphinx” gives you range of his talents. Both iBooks and Kindle offer up everything (as near as I can tell) he’s written, much of it free. (Died circa 1914.)
Born June 24, 1925 — Fred Hoyle. Astronomer of course, but also author of a number of SF works including October the First Is Too Late which I think is among the best genre novels done. I’m also fond of Ossian’s Ride which keeps its SF elements hidden until late in the story. Though he won no genre Awards, he won a lot of other Awards, to wit the Mayhew Prize, Smith’s Prize, FRS, Kalinga Prize, RAS Gold Medal, Bruce Medal, Royal Medal, Klumpke-Roberts Award and Crafoord Prize. (Died 2001.)
Born June 24, 1937 — Charles N. Brown. Founder and editor of Locus. I’m going to stop here and turn this over to those of you who knew him far better than I did as my only connection to him is as a reader of Locus for some decades now. Locus won far too many Hugos to list under his time there. He also was nominated at Conspiracy ‘87 for a Hugo for his Science Fiction in Print: 1985 that was co-written by William G. Contento. (Died 2009.)
Born June 24, 1947 — Peter Weller, 75. Robocop, obviously, which was nominated for a Hugo at Nolacon II, with my favorite scene being him pulling out and smashing Cain’s brain in the second film, but let’s see what else he’s done. Well, there’s The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, a film I adore. And then there’s Leviathan which I’m guessing a lot of you never heard of. Or I hope you haven’t. Well, Screamers based on Philip K. Dick’s short story “Second Variety”. And Star Trek Into Darkness certainly qualifies. Hey he even showed up in Star Trek: Enterprise!
Born June 24, 1950 — Nancy Allen, 72. Officer Anne Lewis in the Robocop franchise. (I like all three films for various reasons.) Her first genre role was not in Carrie as Chris Hargensen, but in a best forgotten a film year earlier (Forced Entry) as an unnamed hitchhiker. She shows up in fan favorite The Philadelphia Experiment as Allison Hayes and I see her in Poltergeist III as Patricia Wilson-Gardner (seriously — a third film in this franchise? Oh why?). She’s in the direct to video Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return as Rachel Colby. And she was in an Outer Limits episode, “Valerie 23”, as Rachel Rose.
Born June 24, 1950 — Mercedes Lackey, 72. There’s a line on a wiki page that says she writes nearly six books a year. Very, very impressive. She’s certainly got a lot of really good series out there including the vast number that are set in the Valdemar universe. I like her Bedlam’s Bard series better. She wrote the first few in this series with Ellen Guon and the latter in the series with Rosemary Edghill. The SERRAted Edge series, Elves with race cars, is quite fun too. Larry Dixon, her husband, and Mark Shepherd were co-writers of these.
Born June 24, 1982 — Lotte Verbeek, 40. You most likely know her as Ana Jarvis, the wife of Edwin Jarvis, who befriends Carter on Agent Carter. She’s got an interesting genre history including Geillis Duncan on the Outlander series, Helena in The Last Witch Hunter, Aisha in the dystopian political thriller Division 19 film and a deliberately undefined role in the cross-world Counterpart series.
Born June 24, 1988 — Kasey Lansdale, 34. Daughter of Joe Lansdale. Publicist at Tachyon Books and a really nice person. Really she is. And yes, she’s one of us having written The Cases of Dana Roberts series, and edited two anthologies, Fresh Blood & Old Bones and Impossible Monsters. In her father’s Hap and Leonard collection Of Mice and Minestrone, she has “Good Eats: The Recipes of Hap and Leonard”.
Born June 24, 1994 — Nicole Muñoz, 28. You’ll perhaps best remember her for role as Christie Tarr (née McCawley) in the Defiance series. Her first role was playing a Little Girl in Fantastic Four. Likewise she was A Kid with Braces in The Last Mimzy, and yes, Another Girl, in Hardwired. The latter was written by Michael Hurst, and has apparently nothing to with the Walter Jon Williams novel of the same name.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
The Far Side suggests superheroes are not immune to the problems of aging.
Daniel P. Dern sent the link with a note: “Among other things, as in, (says DPD, based on other comments I’ve seen in past months along with some of my own experience) to un-‘deprove’ recent changes which made by Amazon.
“To be fair (still DPD opining), IMHO, both Marvel and DC have made similar ‘deprovements’ to their streaming digital comic services over the past year. They’re still great deals, money for reading wise, but the UI/UX has gotten unnecessarily more ornery.”
“We’re back! And after thirty years away it is both thrilling and terrifying,” Buckingham said. “Neil and I have had these stories in our heads since 1989 so it is amazing to finally be on the verge of sharing them with our readers.”
The two visionary comic talents will complete their unfinished Miracleman storyline “The Silver Age,” including remastered editions of the first two published issues, complete with new artwork and bonus material. The series will follow the previously announced Miracleman By Gaiman & Buckingham Book 1: The Golden Age TPB, the new collection containing Gaiman and Buckingham’s first Miracleman series. After 30 years, fans will finally see the full incredible story of Young Miracleman with more to come!
Young Miracleman — the lost member of the Miracleman Family — is back! His last memories were of a 1963 world of joy and innocence. Now, he’s been thrust into the 21st century, where his best friends have become gods and monsters. Where can a hero from a simpler time call home in this brave new world?
…Yes, there is a Jon Snow show in development. The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER story was largely correct. And I would expect no less from James Hibberd. I have dealt with a lot of reporters over the past few years, and Hibberd is one of the very best, an actual journalist who does all the things journalists are supposed to do (getting the facts right, talking to sources, respecting requests for “background only” and “off the record,” etc) that most of the clickbait sites never bother with….
But, yes, it is true. This was not an official announcement from HBO, so it seems there was another leak. I did a long interview with James Hibberd last week, for the big HOUSE OF THE DRAGON story that HOLLYWOOD REPORTER is planning. At the end of the call, he asked a few questions about the spinoffs. “Is it possible one of the spinoffs is a sequel rather than a prequel?” he asked. I answered “No comment.” Then he asked “Is it possible a member of the original cast is attached?” And again I answered “No comment.” And that was all. But plainly he found someone more forthcoming than me. Who? I don’t know, and suspect I never will. A good journalist protects his sources.
There’s not much more I can tell you, not until HBO gives me a green light….
Two rubbish bins on Davidshallsbron bridge in Sweden’s southern city of Malmö have been equipped by city authorities with loudspeakers, blaring out sexual phrases like “ooooh, right there yeah” when the lid is opened to encourage passers-by to use the bins to get rid of their rubbish.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Dead By Daylight,” Fandom Games says this multi-player vampire slaughterfest “makes you a little more misanthropic just playing it.” The narrator suggests that after fighting various licensed monsters, the next series should feature Jared Leto. “No. not Morbius, Jared Leto. That would be truly terrifying!
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Michael J. Walsh, Scott Edelman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Contrarius.]
Potential Hugo Awards for 1955 Stories (1956 Hugos)
I admit now — this has become a project for me, to go through most years of the 1950s and figure out what my choices for potential Hugo nominations for fiction might be. I think the years from 1952 to 1957 are interesting years to study, because for a variety of reasons, the Hugo nominations for those years are either unknown, nonexistent, or inconsistent. This is due to three factors — the Hugos were just getting started, and so in some years there were no Hugos, or no fiction Hugos. The Hugo rules were wildly inconsistent, especially as to time of eligibility, so the Hugos (and the nomination list, in the one year it is known) might have first appeared in the year of the Worldcon, the year prior (as is now standard) or even before then. That all adds up to some years with no Hugos, and some with multiple. 1959 was the first year in which the rules were codified as to year of elibigility (the calendar year before the Worldcon) and as to beginning with a list of nominees for the voter to choose from.
…The SFFANZ board has decided to extend voting in this year’s Sir Julius Vogel Awards until June 30 as insufficient votes have been received to date. If there are still insufficient votes received at that time, no awards will be presented this year. The board feels such action is necessary to protect the value and prestige of the awards….
(3) CLARION UPDATES. The Clarion Ghost Class fundraiser closed after having successfully raised $8,366. Why the “Ghost Class”? Here is the explanation that was posted with the Indiegogo appeal.
In 2020, we were all accepted to the prestigious six-week Clarion Writing Workshop in San Diego. It was a dream come true for each of us. Then, the pandemic happened. Clarion UCSD was cancelled — two years in a row. In that time, we’ve changed and lost jobs, cared for and lost family members, graduated and had to start paying back student loans, moved across states, countries, oceans. We’ve even created at least two entirely new human beings. And because Clarion brought us together that fateful spring day in 2020, we’ve become friends online through all of it.
And now, finally, Clarion UCSD is back on! We couldn’t be more excited. But all that life stuff over the past two years means some of us need extra help to get there….
What is a write-a-thon, anyway? Think charity walk-a-thon, where volunteers walk as far as they can in return for pledges. In the Write-a-Thon, our volunteers write instead of walking. Sponsors make donations or pledges to show support for the writer and the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop at UC San Diego.
This year’s Write-a-thon runs from June 19 to July 30. Their goal is to raise $15,000 for student scholarships and workshop operations.
I saw you mentioned a while back when you were trying out for the Jeopardy! job that one of the aspects that inspired you was this feeling that it would be particularly significant for a Black man to take on a public role like that, in a position like the host of Jeopardy! or presumably of the National Spelling Bee. I was hoping you could expand on that a little more.
It’s significant socially and sociologically. Absolutely. Because based on the history of this country, having a Black man occupy that acknowledged position of intellectual standard and ability is huge. It’s huge for the country to acknowledge because this country has spent so much time not acknowledging the worth and value of Black people and people of color and marginalized people when it comes to these very high-profile positions in our society. That’s why it was significant to me on a macro level. On a micro level, I thought I was right for the [Jeopardy!] job.
…One thing all fans of the Caped Crusader can agree on — the 1966 Batmobile is perfection. Today, the Dark Knight of movies rumbles around in a tank. The two-seater that was seen in the Batman television series, on the other hand, had the curves of a classic sports car. Adam West’s Batmobile evoked the finned cruisers of the ’50s, the hot-rods of the ’60s and the potential Jetsons-like future of automobiles. It still had all the nifty gadgets, too, of course.
There is a reason this remains the most immediately recognizable Batmobile. But some things might surprise you about its history. To the Bat-poles!
1. It was not the first Batmobile — not even the first made in the Sixties.
Batman’s Hollywood history dates back to the theatrical serials of the 1940s. In his big-screen debut in 1943, Batman motored around in a black 1939 Cadillac Series 75 convertible. A 1949 Mercury served as the Dynamic Duo’s mode of transport in 1948’s Batman and Robin. Those were regular automobiles, not a “Batmobile.” However, there was a true “Batmobile” in the Sixties — three years before Batman premiered. Forrest Robinson of New Hampshire built a fantastic touring version of “Batman’s Batmobile” from a 1956 Oldsmobile Rocket 88. All Star Dairy Products used it to promote its line of Batman ice cream treats.
(6) TAKE A MOMENT TO REMEMBER. Ray Bradbury died ten years ago today at the age of 91. “All Bradbury, all the time” is one of File 770’s unofficial mottos. You can glean some of the reasons why from these remembrance pieces written immediately following his death.
…At the Oakland-Berkeley Worldcon in 1968 (or so), I was sitting in the coffee shop with some friends when we saw Bradbury enter the hotel. He smiled and waved at me — then, to my surprise, made an abrupt turn and came into the coffee shop to talk to me. He said I always knew where the best stuff was going on, so where should he go? We chatted a bit, and he breezed out of the place. My friends stared at me in shock. Ray fucking BRADBURY? Did I know Bradbury THAT well? I said “Evidently so,” but I was quite puzzled myself — yes, I knew him (thru Forry), but I didn’t think I did know him that well. So later I encountered him in a hallway and asked about it. He was ready for me. He said that at an early convention (I figure this was the post-WWII Worldcon in LA), he was with a bunch of friends when Leigh Brackett came up and chatted with him about his work. He was puzzled; they WERE friends, but it seemed out of character for her to approach him like that. So he asked her about it. She said she was trying to encourage his career as a writer, by treating him as a fellow professional — and did it in front of his friends, to give him egoboo. Bradbury said “Now you have to pass it on.”…
…We’d be at book signings and older men would come up to get Ray to autograph their tattered copy of The Martian Chronicles and say that they were retired from JPL or NASA and became an astrophysicist because they read Ray’s books as a child. People would come up to Ray with tears in their eyes (as I now have) and tell him they became English teachers or librarians because of Ray. He touched people in so many ways….
…He clearly relished an audience, speaking often at libraries, universities and civic events. He spoke at USC during my freshman year, the first time I got his autograph. That was 1970, and Ray had already shaped the basic autobiographical speech that he continued to present til he was 90, about his childhood memories, the art he loved and his successes as a writer. That day he said, “I wanted to become the greatest writer in the world. Aren’t you glad I finally made it?” The audience cheered like mad….
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1998 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Not quite a quarter of a century ago but very close to it, The Truman Show, one of my all-time favorite films, premiered on this date.
It was directed by Peter Weir, the Australian director who previously done the non-genre but really scary Picnic at Hanging Rock. It was produced by committee in the form of Scott Rudin, Andrew Niccol, Edward S. Feldman, and Adam Schroeder.
Unlike the finished product, Niccol’s spec script was more of a SF thriller, with the story set in New York City.
It starred Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Holland Taylor and Ed Harris. I particularly liked the relationship between Carrey and Linney. Actually I loved the film from beginning to end and thought it was perfectly written.
It was costly to make, somewhere over sixty million, but that was OK as it made well over a quarter of a billion in its first run. That’s really impressive, isn’t it?
Critics loved it. Really they did.
Rita Kempley at the Washington Post thoroughly enjoyed it: “’The Truman Show’ is ‘Candid Camera’ run amok, a sugar-spun nightmare of pop paranoia that addresses the end of privacy, the rise of voyeurism and the violation of the individual. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. This show-within-the-show makes for a parody all by itself, but it is couched in an even more subversively entertaining satire. One of the smartest, most inventive movies in memory, it manages to be as endearing as it is provocative.”
Peter Travers at the Rolling Stone enjoyed it as well but noted the cruel streak embedded in it: “’Sayonara’ to Seinfeld and hello to The Truman Show, a movie – and a great movie, by the way – about a television series in which the ‘selfishness, self-absorption, immaturity and greed’ that Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer were slammed for in the last episode don’t exist. Except behind the scenes. Jim Carrey has the role of his career as Truman Burbank, the unwitting star of a TV show that has trained 5,000 hidden cameras on him since his birth thirty years ago. Everyone in Truman’s life – parents, lovers, best friend, wife – is an actor. Truman’s seemingly idyllic world on the island of Seahaven is really a giant, dome-encased studio controlled by Christof (Ed Harris), a beret-wearing director who has made his name as a televisionary by invading Truman’s privacy seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. Thanks to the global audience that hangs on Truman’s every move, his life is a cruel joke, with Truman the only one not in on it.”
The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an eighty-nine percent rating.
Did I mention it won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at Aussiecon Three (1999)? Well it most deservedly did.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 5, 1908 — John Russell Fearn. British author and one of the first British writers to appear in American pulp magazines. A prolific author, he published his novels also as Vargo Statten and with various pseudonyms such as Thornton Ayre, Polton Cross, Geoffrey Armstrong and others. As himself, I see his first story as being The Intelligence Gigantic published in Amazing Stories in 1933. His Golden Amazon series of novels ran to over to two dozen titles, and the Clayton Drew Mars Adventure series that only ran to four novels. (Died 1960.)
Born June 5, 1928 — Robert Lansing. He was secret agent Gary Seven in the “Assignment: Earth” episode of Trek. The episode was a backdoor pilot for a Roddenberry series that would have starred him and Teri Garr, but the series never happened. There is a novel however and it available from the usual suspects for a quite reasonable price. He of course appeared on other genre series such as the Twilight Zone, Journey to the Unknown, Thriller and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. (Died 1994.)
Born June 5, 1931 — Barbara Paul, 91. Writer of mysteries, some twenty or so, and a handful of genre novels. Her novels feature in-jokes such as her Full Frontal Murder mystery novel which uses names from Blake’s 7. Genre wise, she’s written five SF novels including a Original Series Trek novel, The Three-Minute Universe, which is available at the usual suspects.
Born June 5, 1946 — John Bach, 76. Einstein on Farscape (though he was deliberately uncredited for most of the series), the Gondorian Ranger Madril in the second and third movies of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Also a British bodyguard on The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. And he was the body double for shooting Saruman in place of Christopher Lee, who was unable to fly to New Zealand for principal photography on The Hobbit film series.
Born June 5, 1960 — Margo Lanagan, 62. Tender Morsels won a World Fantasy Award for best novel, and Sea-Hearts won the same for Best Novella. (She has won four World Fantasy Awards, very impressive. She’s also won a bonnie bunch of other Awards as well.) She’s an alumna of the Clarion West Writers Workshop In 1999 and returned as a teacher in 2011 and 2013.
Born June 5, 1971 — Susan Lynch, 51. Northern Irish actress whose career in film started off by being a selkie in The Secret of Roan Inish with her next role being an unnamed Paris Vampire in Interview with a Vampire, and she was Liz Stride, a prostitute, in From Hell. Film wise, her last role to date is Aunt Alice in Ready Player One. She’s got one series credit to date playing Angstrom in the Thirteenth Doctor story, “The Ghost Monument”.
Born June 5, 1976 — Lauren Beukes, 46. South African writer and scriptwriter. Moxyland, her first novel, is a cyberpunk novel set in a future Cape Town. Zoo City, a hardboiled thriller with fantasy elements is set in a re-imagined Johannesburg. It won both the Arthur C. Clarke Award and a Kitschies Red Tentacle Award for best novel. (I love the name of the latter award!) And The Shining Girls would win her an August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel. Afterland, her latest genre novel, was on the long list for a NOMMO. Much of short fiction is collected in Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing.
(9) CHIVALRY EXHIBIT. The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco presents “Chivalry: The Art of Colleen Doran”, an exhibition of original artwork from the Dark Horse graphic novel Chivalry as illustrated by Doran and written by Neil Gaiman. It continues through September 18.
This exhibition features Doran’s beautiful cover painting and twenty original pages personally selected by the artist. The graphic novel is an adaptation of a short story written by Gaiman in which an elderly British widow buys what turns out to be the Holy Grail from a second-hand shop. This chance purchase sets her off on an epic adventure when she begins receiving visits from an ancient knight who lures her with ancient relics in hope for winning the cup.
… This exhibition of Doran’s fully-painted original artwork will be on display at the Cartoon Art Museum from April 23 through September 18, 2022, and will be accompanied by a selection of chivalrous artwork from the Cartoon Art Museum’s permanent collection. An online discussion with Colleen Doran is planned for this summer, and details regarding that program will be announced soon.
After two decades of research and experimentation, Israeli defense officials now say they have a working prototype of a high-powered laser gun that can intercept rockets, mortar shells, drones and anti-tank missiles in flight.
Officials said that the system performed successfully in a recent series of live fire tests in the southern Israeli desert, destroying a rocket, a mortar shell and a drone, and prompting a standing ovation from officials watching the action onscreen.
The government has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to develop the weapon, which Prime Minister Naftali Bennett described this week as a “strategic game changer.” He has pledged “to surround Israel with a laser wall.”
Professionals involved in developing the system say it is still several years away from being fully operational in the field, and experts caution that even then it may initially be of limited use in protecting Israel from heavy incoming rocket fire. Israeli officials have not said whether it would be effective against the precision-guided missiles that Israel says Hezbollah is developing in Lebanon…
… This is the third crewed mission during the construction of the space station, which China plans to have fully crewed and operational by December 2022. The first crewed mission, a three-month stay by three other astronauts, was completed in September 2021. The second, Shenzhou-13, saw three astronauts spend six months in space for the first time.
Six months is the standard mission duration for many countries – but it is an important opportunity for Chinese astronauts to become accustomed to a long-term stay in space and help prepare future astronauts to do the same.
Six space missions have been scheduled before the end of the year, including another crewed mission, two laboratory modules and two cargo missions….
(12) BEE PICTURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Shouldn’t we regard any series with Rowan Atkinson as fandom-adjacent?
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Queen and Paddington Bear get the Platinum Party at the Palace rocking. “Ma’amalade sandwich Your Majesty?”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson – My review of this novel was decidedly mixed and frustrated, and as I wrote there, I found the actual experience of reading it rather challenging. But as I come to close out the year, I can’t help but appreciate this effort, perhaps the first novel to not only address climate change but imagine how we might go about dealing with it, and what will be required to accomplish this. It’s not a perfect novel, but it might be a necessary one.
(2) ATOP MOUNT TO BE VIEWED. Abigail Nussbaum did a separate “Best TV of 2021” post for Lawyers, Guns & Money.
…I take two lessons from the state of the TV medium in 2021. The first is that this was the year that taught us the difference between “expensive” and “good”. So many shows came out the gate this year with stratospheric production values, huge names before and behind the camera, and stunning locations, but still felt as if little or no thought was given to creating coherent, satisfying stories. The Disney+ MCU shows are exhibit A of this phenomenon: five very different shows with unbelievable budgets and star-studded casts, none of which quite managed to stick the landing. But other streamers fell into the same trap. Apple TV+ produced an eight-episode adaptation of The Mosquito Coast that shot in the desert on the US-Mexican border and in picturesque locations in California and Mexico, but apparently no one involved considered that audiences might be put off if the central family didn’t even reach the Mosquito Coast until the season finale. Netflix poured millions upon millions of dollars into comic books adaptations like Sweet Tooth and Jupiter’s Legacy, while seeming to have skimped on the scripts. (To be fair, Jupiter’s Legacy also looked like ass; I really hope there was some serious money-laundering going on because otherwise I just can’t explain it.)
The short answer is that it’s inspired by other giant balls whose function was to indicate time. I say “was”, because the purpose of a “time ball” is now pragmatically obsolete, and almost all of these are gone. But one of the very earliest time balls, atop the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, has been dropped each and every day since 1833. It is raised halfway up its post a few minutes prior, to give notice, and then it is dropped at exactly the stroke of 1 P.M. Bongggg!
(4) CALMING THE DISCOURSE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] In an excellent, free Patreon post, Hugo-finalist fan writer Jason Sanford examines the troubling trend of targeted harassment campaigns against creators and pundits within the SFF genre, and asks how we as a community can do better. “Genre Grapevine on SF/F Abuse and Harassment Campaigns”.
…I’ve been on the receiving end of these mass harassment and abuse campaigns. When you’re subjected to harassment and abuse your world compresses to a single, painful point, like a black hole that traps you against your will. Nothing you say or do makes a difference. People can tell you the harassment and abuse is unjustified and that you did nothing wrong. But none of that matters.
Because in the end you are merely a convenient target for people who are deliberately refusing to see you as human….
(5) SAWYER Q&A. Host Mary Ito, previously with the CBC and TVOntario, interviews Robert J. Sawyer for The CRAM Podcast ~ Extraordinary Ideas Unleashed.
We all wonder about our future – post pandemic. And it’s something sci-fi writer Robert Sawyer thinks about a lot. His writing has captivated audiences with explorations of alternate worlds. Hear what one of Canada’s most fascinating big thinkers has to say about OUR world, and the transformation it’s undergoing. His audio series “The Downloaded” about a metaphorical post pandemic world will be available Fall 2022 on Audible. Robert Sawyer’s most recent book is “The Oppenheimer Alternative.”
(6) FREE TAFF BOOK. Ah! Sweet Laney! The Writings of a Great Big Man is the latest addition to TAFF’s library of free downloads. The reissue of Robert Lichtman’s and Pat Virzis’s compilation of Francis T. Laney’s other fanwriting (i.e. not Ah! Sweet Idiocy!) That will be a very familiar name if you happen to have just read about 1940s LASFS in Bixelstrasse. The collection is available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they also hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund.
Though best remembered for his infamous 1948 memoir and polemic Ah! Sweet Idiocy! (also in the TAFF ebook library), Francis Towner Laney also published much other notable work in his own and others’ fanzines. In addition to a generous helping of Laney’s best writing other than Ah! Sweet Idiocy!, it includes a new introduction by Robert Lichtman and memoirs of “FTL” by Robert Bloch, Charles Burbee, Terry Carr and Jack Speer.
This first ebook edition is produced with the kind permission of Robert Lichtman and the welcome support of Pat Virzi, who provided the text in PDF format, now also available at Bill Burns’s eFanzines.com. The PDF download button above gives this 10Mb PDF (with all print layout, artwork, photographs etc) rather than the usual quick-and-dirty conversion from ebook format.
(7) SLF NEEDS GRANT JURORS. The Speculative Literature Foundation announced on Facebook they need jurors to read applications for the A.C. Bose Grant.
Ideally, we’re looking for people who are well read in science fiction, fantasy and horror, but we’d also like a mix of readers, writers, librarians, teachers, editors, etc. who are capable of judging literary quality in a work. The honorarium is $25.
Please note: We’d love to have South Asian and South Asian diaspora jurors for the AC Bose Grant, but it’s not a requirement.
Sir Julius Vogel Award nominations for the 2021 calendar year are now open. The nomination period will close at 11:59pm on 31st March 2022. The SJV awards recognise excellence in science fiction, fantasy, or horror works created by New Zealanders and New Zealand residents, and first published or released in the 2021 calendar year. Anyone can make a nomination and it is free!
(9) TANGLED WEBS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This Spider-Man blooper reel dropped two days ago. I thought what was most interesting was how much of the Spider-Man: No Way Home sets were real and what was CGI.
(10) BETTY WHITE. Actress Betty White died today, a few weeks short of her hundredth birthday. The New York Times obituary is here: “Betty White, a TV Fixture for Seven Decades, Is Dead at 99”. Although White performed a vast number of roles in her long career, only a few were genre. She was a Woman in Window encountered by the Dynamic Duo in Return to the Batcave (2003). She did voice work in several animated Christmas movies, and also on the Hercules TV series (1999), The Simpsons (as herself, 2007), The Lorax (2012), SpongeBob SquarePants (2016), and as a toy tiger named Bitey White in Toy Story 4.
Betty White, who created two of the most memorable characters in sitcom history, the nymphomaniacal Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and the sweet but dim Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls” — and who capped her long career with a comeback that included a triumphant appearance as the host of “Saturday Night Live” at the age of 88 — died on Friday. She was 99.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1931 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Ninety years ago, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a horror film directed by Rouben Mamoulian premiered. The screenplay was by Samuel Hoffenstein and Percy Heath. It starred Starring Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins and Rose Hobart. It was a box office success making on piece three million on a budget of a million dollars. Critics loved it, and March won the award for Best Actor, sharing the award with Wallace Beery for The Champ. It has a most excellent eighty percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 31, 1937 — Anthony Hopkins, 84. I think one of his most impressive roles was as Richard in The Lion in Winter but we can’t even call that genre adjacent, can we? Well, we can as it’s alternate history. He was, during that period, also King Claudius in Hamlet. I’ll say playing Ian McCandless in Freejack is his true genre role, and being Professor Abraham Van Helsing in Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a plum of a genre role. It’s a better role that he as Odin has the MCU film franchise. What else to note? What have I missed that I should note?
Born December 31, 1943 — Ben Kingsley, 78. Speaking of Kipling, he voiced Bagherra in the live action adaptation that Disney did of The Jungle Book. He was also in Iron Man 3 as Trevor Slattery, a casting not well received. He’s The Hood in Thunderbirds (directed by Frakes btw), Charles Hatton in A Sound of Thunder and Merenkahre in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, the third of three great popcorn films.
Born December 31, 1945 — Connie Willis, 76. She has won eleven Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards for her work, a feat that impresses even me! Of her works, I’m most pleased by To Say Nothing of the Dog, Doomsday Book and Bellwether, an offbeat novel look at chaos theory. I’ve not read enough of her shorter work to give an informed opinion of it, so do tell me what’s good there. She’s very well stocked at the usual suspects and a number of her works qualify as Meredith moments.
Born December 31, 1949 — Ellen Datlow, 72. Let’s start this Birthday note by saying I own a complete set of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror which yes, I know it was titled The Year’s Best Fantasy for the first year. And I still read stories from them from time to time. If that was all she had done, she’d have been one of our all-time anthologists but she also, again with Terri Windling, did the Fairy Tale and Mythic Fiction series, both of which I highly recommend. On her own, she has the ongoing Best Horror of Year, now a decade old, and the Tor.com anthologies which I’ve not read but I assume collect the fiction from the site. Speaking of Tor.com, she’s an editor there, something she’s also done at Nightmare Magazine, Omni, the hard copy magazine and online, Sci Fiction webzine and Subterranean Magazine. And yes, she won a number of Hugos for her editing including one this year which she richly deserved.
Born December 31, 1953 — Jane Badler, 68. I first encountered her on the Australian-produced Mission Impossible where she played Shannon Reed for the two seasons of that superb series. She’s apparently best known as Diana, the main antagonist on V, but I never saw any of that series being overseas at the time. She shows up in the classic Fantasy Island, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, Bitch, Popcorn & Blood and Virtual Revolution.
Born December 31, 1958 — Bebe Neuwirth, 63. Ok she’s had but one television SF credit to her name which is playing a character named Lanel in the “First Contact” episode of the Next Gen series during season four, but I found a delightful genre credential for her. From April 2010 to December 2011, she was Morticia Addams in the Broadway production of The Addams Family musical! The show itself was ongoing up until the Pandemic started.
Born December 31, 1959 — Val Kilmer, 62. Lead role in Batman Forever where I thought he did a decent job, Madmartigan in Willow, Montgomery in The Island of Dr. Moreau, voiced both Moses and God in The Prince of Egypt, uncredited role as El Cabillo in George and the Dragon and voiced KITT in the not terribly well-conceived reboot of Knight Rider. Best role? Ahhh that’d be Doc Holliday in Tombstone. Nope, not even genre adjacent but I really, really love that film.
(13) JOINING GENRES. Clarion West will be offering a free online discussion – “Fantastic Intersections: Speculative Fiction and Romance” — on January 29, 2022, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Pacific. The participants will be Zen Cho, S. A. (Austin) Chant, C. L. Polk, KJ Charles, and L. Penelope, moderated by Rashida J. Smith. Register at the link.
From the sublime and magical to the stirring and steamy, storylines centering BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ characters are flourishing in the romance and speculative genres. We’ll tackle the nuance of building romance into the plot vs. romance as the plot, the role of the HEA or HFN in representation, and the future of the fantastic in romance.
…The story drove me on, because I wanted to read it all and find out what really happened. There is a central mystery to it – the opening cinematic sets it up beautifully. Why did the Blessed Isles fall? What is the Harrowing? You get some solid answers by the end. It’s like reading a novel while playing it as well. It was an experience I very much enjoyed. In addition to the main story there were the individual tales of each of our six main characters as well as bits of lore featuring dozens of other characters, some related and some not, that you just find as you explore the world….
… Anchoring the success of these films were the layered human performances amid all the green-screen effects. Here are a dozen actors who especially delivered depth within their superhero universes…
4. Margot Robbie (‘The Suicide Squad’)
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in 2021’s “The Suicide Squad.” (Warner Bros./Everett Collection)
Playing the relentlessly resourceful Harley Quinn,Robbie is reliably the most electric presence in DC’s sprawling team-up movies, dropping coy one-liners with as much force as her violent blows. She again steals entire scenes in James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad,” and with each own-the-screen DC outing, including “Birds of Prey,” she proves that her radiant Harley could carry solo movies in between the “Suicide” squadfests.
(16) WITH SHARP, POINTY TEETH. [Item by Michael Toman.] Have to wonder what, say, Dylan Thomas, (“A Bright Child From Wales!”) would have done with this Late-Breaking Holiday News Update. “Bloodthirsty, ‘Psycho’ Squirrel Attacks 18 in Small Town Christmas Rampage” reports Newsweek. Will there be a movie from some of the Folks at The Asylum, the ones who gifted us with the “Sharknado Franchise?” Or maybe this needs to become an Uncuddly, Unwarm, Unfuzzy Picture Book? “What a world, what a world!”
A Welsh town is being held in the grip of fear by a most unusual source, a grey squirrel that is attacking residents.
Wales Online reported that the serial squirrel has indiscriminately attacked pensioners, pets, and children, jumping at people taking out the garbage, and been chasing after people down streets as they flee.
(17) DIANA GALLAGHER VIDEOS. Fanac.org’s Edie Stern introduces these Eighties recordings of Diana Gallagher singing filksongs.
Diana Gallagher is now known primarily for her science fiction media novels. However, especially early in her fannish career, she also impressed as a filk songwriter/performer, and a fan artist. She received several Pegasus Awards, as well as the 1988 Fan Artist Hugo Award. As her songs often show, Diana was also an avid supporter of the space program. She passed away in December 2021.
This recording was made in our living room in the early 1980s. At that time, she was a member of the local science fiction group, and an avid filker. She was our friend. This recording is excerpted from a longer filk recording, and features her performances of five songs (of which 4 were written by her). Many thanks to our Filk Consultant, Eli Goldberg and to our Sound Editor, Luke Bretscher for their help with this recording.
Here are links to all five videos — 1. Planetbound Lovers (0:05) 2. Following (2:52) 3. Free Fall (5:23) 4. Starsong (7:30) 5. Mary O’Meara (10:12)
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl,” Fandom Games says this Nickleodeon smash compilation is meant for gamers who ask, “Say, what would happen if Garfield fought SpongeBob?” and that Nickelodeon is basically a network for “not so nuanced sex jokes and covering kids in sludge.”
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]
Some of you have been asking about the Hugo voting links so, here’s what’s happening: Hugo voting links won’t appear on your DC3 membership page until voting opens. We’ll let our members and the public know when that happens via email, social media, website, press releases, etc. We’re also working hard to get the Hugo packet of nominated works Worldcon members have come to expect out later this spring.
(2) BEYOND AFROFUTURISM. Clarion West and the Seattle Public Library have two more Beyond Afrofuturism virtual panels happening in May. Register here.
Come talk publishers on Sunday, May 16th, 1 p.m. Pacific with Bill Campbell (Rosarium), Milton Davis (MVmedia), Zelda Knight (AURELIA LEO), and Nicole Givens Kurtz (Mocha Memoirs) for Power in Publishing: Publishers Roundtable.
With major publishers stuck in a cycle of selling the same mainstream stories or tightening their belts when it comes to the work of marginalized communities, how are Black publishers shaping opportunities for BIPOC writers to have their voices heard?
Featuring: Bill Campbell (Rosarium), Zelda Knight (AURELIA LEO), Milton Davis (MVmedia), and Nicole Givens Kurtz (Mocha Memoirs)
Moderated by Clinton R. Fluker, Ph.D. Curator of African American collections at Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Library
The event is presented in partnership with the Seattle Public Library and is supported by The Seattle Public Library Foundation.
(3) U.S. BOOK SHOW. The U.S. Book Show is a new book fair created by Publishers Weekly. The three-day show debuts virtually May 25 – 27. Publishers Weekly says they are focusing “on crafting a meeting place for publishing professionals and book buyers, with an emphasis on serving the interests of librarians and booksellers.”It’s a successor to BookExpo America/
…While at its height ABA and BookExpo America attendance never reached the draw of European book shows such as the Frankfurt Book Fair (286,000 attendees in 2017, according to Wikipedia), BookExpo saw global acceptance from the publishing community. In its 2002 iteration at the Javits Center in New York, BEA saw more than 30,000 attendees, including approximately 7,000 booksellers and librarians. By 2018, BookExpo in the same venue saw 7,800 total attendees.
The demise of the show provided an opening for Publishers Weekly to step in. The U.S. Book Show will be held virtually in 2021 and assessed after the fact for future possibilities.
David Bradley has praised original Doctor Who star William Hartnell as he returns to the role of the First Doctor in much anticipated live event Time Fracture.
The renowned actor first played the role in 2013’s An Adventure in Space and Time, which explored the creation of the long-running series, in which he portrayed both Hartnell and the late actor’s incarnation of the Doctor.
Bradley made such a strong impression on fans that he was invited back by writer Steven Moffat to play the First Doctor in two episodes of Doctor Who, both of which aired as part of Peter Capaldi’s stint on the show.
As he prepares to return to the role once again for Time Fracture, Bradley has hailed Hartnell’s “total dedication” to Doctor Who in an interview on the show’s official YouTube channel.
“He laid the template,” Bradley said. “All of the other subsequent doctors, they all owe a lot to William Hartnell. As it was, it started this phenomenon.”
…Bradley will co-star opposite John Barrowman in upcoming live event Time Fracture, billed as an “immersive experience”, which he believes could convert even non-believers.
…For over 35 years, Clarion West has held strictly to the Milford peer workshop model, assuming it to be the superior workshop method for all writers.
This belief was shaken a year ago, when we had to postpone the Summer Workshop for the first time in our history. In discussions with our instructors, we heard something new. A quiet criticism of the unchanging. A gentle push to consider that not every writer has been involved in the conversations around — and represented in — the design of our workshops.
Over the course of the last year, Clarion West has begun the process of exploring where our assumptions about key components of the workshop, including critiquing methods and social interactions, have limited the experiences of writers from a broad range of underrepresented communities. Communities whose voices are still emerging in prominent speculative fiction outlets.
And as we started looking for answers, we have found that a serious examination of traditional peer critique methods has been happening in the broader writing and workshopping field. See below for a recommended reading list.
As a result of this self reflection, Clarion West recognizes that changes need to be made within the workshop model. Our staff, alumni, faculty, and participants will help evolve our workshop culture and create protocols towards equity, empowerment, and innovation.
Clarion West seeks to make the structural changes needed to ensure that our workshops and classes are places where all participants will feel welcome and safe….
(6) HARRYHAUSEN EXHIBITION. The Ray Harryhausen, Titan of Cinema Exhibition just opened at National Galleries Scotland in Edinburgh and continues through February 2022. Quite a bit of material at the link — video, images, articles.
Film special effects superstar Ray Harryhausen helped elevate stop motion animation to an art. His innovative and inspiring films, from the 1950s onwards, changed the face of modern movie making forever.?This is the largest and widest-ranging exhibition of Ray Harryhausen’s work ever seen, with newly restored and previously unseen material from his incredible archive.
Ray Harryhausen’s work included the films Jason and the Argonauts, the Sinbad films of the 1950s and 1970s, One Million Years B.C. and Mighty Joe Young. He inspired a generation of filmmakers such as Peter Jackson, Aardman Animations, Tim Burton, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg, and his influence on blockbuster cinema can be felt to this day.
Titan of Cinema traces Harryhausen’s career as a special effects guru, whose only limits was his boundless imagination. Titan of Cinema shows his creative processes: from embryonic preparatory sketches, through to model making and bringing characters to life who went onto terrorise and delight audiences in equal measure on the cinema screen.
Two years after aliens land on Earth, survivors from Sydney, Aus., fight in a desperate war as the number of casualties continue to grow. It’s described as “Avatar meets Star Wars meets Independence Day,”
(8) DUKAKIS OBIT. Actress Olympia Dukakis died May 1 reports NPR. She was 89. An Oscar-winner, she was famous for non-genre roles in Moonstruck and Steel Magnolias. Her claims to genre fame are a role in the TV movie The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines and, if movies with talking dogs count as genre, Look Who’s Talking and its sequels Look Who’s Talking Too and Look Who’s Talking Now.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
May 1, 1981 –On this day in 1981 in Canada, Outland premiered. Directed by Peter Hyams and produced by Richard A. Roth and Stanley O’Toole, it starred Sean Connery, Peter Boyle, Frances Sternhagen, James B. Sikking and Kika Markham. It made the final list of nominees for a Hugo at Chicon IV the next year. Most critics liked its high noon in space plot but the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes gave it a mediocre fifty percent rating. The box office barely beat out the cost of making the film.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 1, 1905 – E. Mayne Hull. One novel, a dozen shorter stories. Some when re-issued also bore the name of her husband A.E. Van Vogt; for attempts to give credit where due, see here. (Died 1975) [JH]
Born May 1, 1924 — Terry Southern. Screenwriter and author of greatest interest for the screenplay from Peter George’s original novel, Two Hours to Doom (as by Peter Bryant) of Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb directed (and in part written) by Stanley Kubrick. He was also involved in scripting Barbarella. Though uncredited, he did work on the script of Casino Royale as well. (Died 1995.) (CE)
Born May 1, 1937 – Suzanne Vick. Two fanzines credited to both her and her husband Shelby Vick, one of our greats; much activity names him, careful fanhistory may discover her part more explicitly. Three daughters, of whom I have learned little. (Died 2002) [JH]
Born May 1, 1946 — Joanna Lumley, 75. No, she was no Emma Peel, but she was definitely more than a bit appealing (pun fully intended) in the New Avengers as Purdey. All twenty-six episodes are out on DVD. Her next genre outing was In Sapphire & Steel whichstarred David McCallum as Steel and her as Sapphire. If you skip forward nearly near twenty years, you’ll find her playing The Thirteenth Doctor in The Curse of Fatal Death in a Comic Relief special. Yes, she played the first version of a female Thirteenth Doctor.
Born May 1, 1952 — Andy Sawyer, 69. Member of fandom who managed the Science Fiction Foundation library in Liverpool for 25 years up to last year. For his work and commitment to the SF community, the Science Fiction Research Association awarded him their Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service. The paper he wrote that I want to get and read is “The Shadows out of Time: H. P. Lovecraftian Echoes in Babylon 5” as I’ve always thought The Shadows were Lovecraftian! And his fanpublication list is impressive, editing some or all issues of &, Another Earth Matrix, Paperback Inferno and Acnestis. (CE)
Born May 1, 1954 – Joel Rosenberg. A score of novels, as many shorter stories. Correspondent of Asimov’s, the Patchin Review, SF Chronicle, SF Review. Interviewed in Thrust. Early author of gamers-transported-into-the-gameworld-which-may-not-be-what-they-thought fiction. (Died 2011) [JH]
Born May 1, 1956 – Phil Foglio, age 65. Colorful, comical graphic artist. Illustrated R. Asprin’s MythAdventures, drew comic books from them, worked for DC, Marvel. Magic: the Gathering cards. Some of this, and more particularly Buck Godot and Agatha Heterodyne, Girl Genius, with wife Kaja Foglio (who coined gaslamp fantasy: “we have no punk, and we have more than just steam”). Two Hugos for P as Best Fanartist; three for K & P with Girl Genius as Best Graphic Story. Website. [JH]
Born May 1, 1955 — J. R. Pournelle, 66. Some years ago, I got an email from a J. R. Pournelle about some SF novel they wanted Green Man to review. I of course thought it was that Pournelle. No, it was his daughter, Jennifer. And that’s how I came to find out there was a third Motie novel called Outies. It’s much better than The Gripping Hand. (CE)
Born May 1, 1957 — Steve Meretzky, 64. He co-designed the early Eighties version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy video game with the full participation of Douglas Adams. ESF also says that he did also a space opera themed game, Planetfall and its sequel A Mind Forever Voyaging in the Eighties as well. He also did the definitely more erotic Leather Goddesses of Phobos as well. CE)
Born May 1, 1984 – Lindsay Smith, age 37. Six novels, a dozen shorter stories; also comics, serials. She & Max Gladstone created, and she is showrunner & lead writer for, The Witch Who Came in From the Cold. [JH]
Born May 1, 1985 – Catherine Cheek, age 36. Three novels, as many shorter stories. Interviewed in Fantasy. Clarion San Diego graduate. Brown belts in two martial arts. Taught English two years in Japan. Throws pots, binds books, plays with molten glass. Has read Moby-Dick, Lolita, The Grand Sophy, Watership Down. [JH]
…Officials announced the flight extension Friday, following three short flights in under two weeks for the $85 million tech demo. Soon afterward, there was more good news: Ingenuity — the first powered aircraft to soar at another planet — had aced its fourth flight at Mars.
For Friday’s trip, Ingenuity traveled 872 feet (266 meters) at a height of 16 feet (5 meters) for two minutes — considerably farther and longer than before. An attempt Thursday had failed because of a known software error.
On its fifth flight in another week or so, the 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) chopper will move to a new airfield on Mars, allowing the rover to finally start focusing on its own rock-sampling mission. The rover is seeking signs of ancient life at Jezero Crater, home to a lush lakebed and river delta billions of years ago….
It’s a balancing act that has to do with the individual person’s talents. I happened to have this already in place, and have the right layering to find something useful. Other writers are different in finding their way in. I’m always trying to write something that hopefully applies to the current moment, but if you read it down the line, it has something that’s meaningful, too.
In the press notes, you said this novel was the result of realizing that “we were living in a dystopia for some time.” Are you a pessimist? Are we getting out of this dystopia any time soon?
The pessimism/optimism thing boils down to me being pessimistic when we’re not dealing with the full issue and full facts in front of us. When we try to deflect. In Florida, we have these solar farms coming in, but which are destroying natural habitats. Green tech is being delinked from environmental issues in distressing ways. That’s the kind of thing that worries me more than, say, a climate-change denier, who isn’t going to help in the first place.
He later continues, “The Worldcon code of conduct should not be used to shut down a legitimate critique of a genre issue,” leaving untouched the issue actually raised here of whether the Worldcon should adhere to its own Code of Conduct and not broadcast the insulting title. A title Sanford himself is strangely reluctant to repeat, changing the “u” in “Fuck” to an asterisk.
(15) VIVO. Netflix dropped a trailer for Vivo, an animated musical with Lin-Manuel Miranda.
An animated musical adventure that follows VIVO, a one-of-kind kinkajou (aka a rainforest “honey bear,” voiced by Miranda), who must find his way from Havana to Miami in order to deliver a song on behalf of his beloved owner and mentor Andres (Buena Vista Social Club’s Juan de Marcos Gonzáles). The film features original songs by Miranda, a score by Alex Lacamoire, and a screenplay by Quiara Alegría Hudes and director Kirk DeMicco (The Croods)….
Voice talent includes three-time Grammy-winning Latin pop legend Gloria Estefan as Marta, the love of Andres’ life, newcomer Ynairaly Simo as Gabi, Andres’ grand-niece, Zoe Saldana as Rosa, Gabi’s mother, Michael Rooker as Lutador, a villainous Everglades python, Brian Tyree Henry and Nicole Byer as a pair of star-crossed spoonbills, Leslie David Baker as a Florida bus driver, and Katie Lowes, Olivia Trujillo, and Lidya Jewett as a trio of well-meaning but overzealous scout troopers. VIVO is an exhilarating story about gathering your courage, finding family in unlikely friends, and the belief that music can open you to new worlds.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Bizarre World of Fan Edits and Restorations” on YouTube, the Royal Ocean Film Society begins with fan edits we’ve all heard about (the mostly Jar Jar Binks-free version of The Phantom Menace) goes on to very strange edits (Planet Of The Apes reduced to a Twilight Zone episode, or Star Wars turned into silent films) and the historically important, such as a fan edit that presents a version of Richard Williams’s unfinished masterpiece The Thief And The Cobbler. As a bonus, you can find out which fan edit of a Brian De Palma film was so good that De Palma turned it into the director’s cut!
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]
If you missed out on the Sir Julius Vogel Award voting packet the first time, we are pleased to announce that it is now available again. This time you can access it from the CoNZealand Members' website. It is available until mid September. Access it here: https://t.co/8S8Z27BEKQpic.twitter.com/RDXFPBh6GR
If you missed out on the Sir Julius Vogel Award voting packet the first time, we are pleased to announce that it is now available again. This time you can access it from the CoNZealand Members’ website. It is available until mid September. Access it here.
(1) NEW NINTH DOCTOR STORIES COMING FROM BIG FINISH. Christopher Eccleston has finally come around to playing the Doctor again announces BBC Studios.
Big Finish Productions, in association with BBC Studios announces the long-awaited return of Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor.
First seen on screen in 2005, Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor introduced a whole new generation of fans to Doctor Who.
Now he’s back, with a brand-new series of twelve fantastic full-cast audio adventures in space and time, due to be released across four box sets, starting with volume one in May 2021.
Christopher Eccleston said: “After 15 years it will be exciting to revisit the Ninth Doctor’s world, bringing back to life a character I love playing.”
Big Finish’s own press release hints at how Eccleston was won over (even after turning down Steven Moffat’s attempt to get him for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who).
Big Finish’s Chairman, Jason Haigh-Ellery said: “I first talked to Christopher about returning to the role of the Doctor at the Gallifrey One convention in February this year. Christopher said he was enjoying meeting the fans and was pleased that his Doctor was remembered so fondly. He indicated he would be open to discussing a project with Big Finish.
“And then the pandemic happened and time moved both quickly and very slowly. Over recent months, ideas have been exchanged and discussions had. I am so pleased that Christopher has decided to return to the role with us – and I’m excited to welcome him to the Big Finish family as we discover the new adventures of the Ninth Doctor.”
(3) WHERE TO FIND THEM. James W. Harris has been working on analysis and comparison of lists of the “great works” of SFF for several years. This week, while everyone else is busy damning the canon, he posted about the optimal solution for acquiring all the greatest sff stories in as few anthologies as possible. “The SF Anthology Problem – Solved” at Classics of Science Fiction.
Two years ago when we completed version 1 of The Classics of Science Fiction Short Story list I proposed a math challenge. Version 1 came up with 275 stories. I asked if there was any mathematically way to decide what were the fewest anthologies that contained all 275 stories using ISFDB.org as a reference database. Version 1 was generated using .csv files. Since then we updated the process to a database for version 2 of the list, which produced 101 stories — we believe that was a more practical reading list.
A science fiction fan could read the entire list over the summer by reading one story a day, or in a year by reading one story every three days, but where would they get the 101 science fiction short stories?…
…To all the CoNZealand volunteers: I see you. I see your hard work. Thank you.
The issues being raised by our community this week are with the structure you inherited and were bound by. None of that is the fault of volunteers, acting with minimal resources, time, communication and support.
My intention here is to report my own experiences and do so honestly. There are things that have to be done to make this experience better for everyone. My hope is my experiences can help with that.
It includes a segment evaluating the successes and criticisms of CoNZealand Fringe.
(5) A THING OF BEAUTY. The Astounding Award.
(6) RESTART TREK. All those Star Trek movies you’ve read about being developed in the past couple of years? You might not be hearing about some of them any more. Mike Fleming Jr., in the Deadline story “Emma Watts’ Top Priority At Paramount: Figure Out ‘Star Trek’ Reboot” says that Paramount CEO Watts has shelved all existing scripts for the fourth Star Trek movie, including one with Noah Hawley as writer/director, one with Mark L. Smith as writer and Quentin Tarantino as director, and one with S.J. Clarkson as director that would have had Chris Hemsworth play Chris Pine’s father. But since Star Trek is a “monster franchise” for Paramount so Star Trek 4 will get made.
…What we’re hearing is that both the [Noah] Hawley pic — which calls for a new cast and might be about a deadly virus which might feel awkward given current circumstance — and the [Mark L.] Smith version — [Quentin] Tarantino dropped out as director, but the project is still viable based on an episode of the classic Star Trek series that takes place largely earthbound in a 30s gangster setting — might serve the franchise best as Logan-like spinoffs when the core franchise has been revitalized. But that the other one might have the cleanest path toward a relaunch, with an emphasis on boosting overseas gross numbers which have never been the franchise’s strong suit. These decisions will take place over the next few weeks.
… But just because The Silmarillion could be turned into a feature-length film, that doesn’t necessary mean it should be. The book offers a fascinating insight into Middle-earth’s long history, adding context to the events of The Lord of the Rings and widening the lore in fascinating and organic ways. Arguably, there are events in The Silmarillion that eclipse anything in Tolkien’s more famous books in terms of importance. However, The Silmarillion is not a conventional novel in the same style as The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings. There is no central protagonist, while the narrative spans many eras of time and vast expanses of geography. Moreover, The Silmarillion reads more like a religious text or a history textbook (albeit an infinitely more interesting one) than a story with a clear beginning, middle and end. Telling the same sort of heroic tale movie fans are used to would be a tough ask from The Silmarillion‘s source material, as would constructing one complete start-to-finish narrative suitable for mainstream cinema.
(8) BEYOND THE PANDEMIC. ConTamination2020, “An online convention using Science Fiction & Science to explore pandemics and the long-term future of humanity,” will be held September 12-13, 2020, between 1p.m.-9p.m. GMT+1. The con is being organized by a small group of volunteers interested in using speculative fiction to explore the future of humanity after COVID-19, led by Vivienne Raper, Kat Kourbeti, and Catrin Osborne. Follow them on Twitter here.
To avoid stepping on any toes, we’ve narrowed the focus of ConTamination to be a science-meets-speculative-fiction convention. Our aim is to tackle the big questions that many of us are asking about the future, and our place as science fiction and fantasy fans within it.
In a time of social distancing and home isolation, how about we all get together to talk books, pandemics, and the social impact this current evolving crisis will have worldwide, in both science and literature?
We still have open slots for panels so if you are interested in speaking and have a topic in mind that relates to any of the theme strands of the convention (science, fiction, or social change – where it relates to pandemics and the way we are dealing with the current pandemic), however remotely, do reach out and let us know your thoughts.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 9, 1996 — John Carpenter’s Escape from L.A. as it was stylized on screen premiered. The sequel to Escape from New York, it was co-written, co-scored, and directed by John Carpenter, co-written and produced by Debra Hill and Kurt Russell, with Russell again starring as Snake Plissken. It also co-stars Steve Buscemi, Stacy Keach, Bruce Campbell, and Pam Grier. Reception was definitely mixed. With most critics thinking the script was uneven, the film bombed at the box office, and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 39% rating. Carpenter has said that, “Escape from L.A. is better than the first movie. Ten times better.” (CE)
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 9, 1899 – P.L. Travers. Four novels, two shorter stories and a cookbook about Mary Poppins; other novels, poetry, nonfiction. Also had a career as an actress; parents disapproved, thus “Pamela Travers”. First two MP books unsurpassed, perhaps unequaled. Translated into Italian, Japanese, Polish, Romanian, Russian. Never happy with the Disney version though it made her rich; “It’s glamourous and a good film on its own level, but I don’t think it’s very like my books.” (Died 1996) [JH]
Born August 9, 1908 – Joan Kiddell-Monroe. Author and illustrator, famous for children’s books. Oxford Myths & Legends (i.e. Oxf. Univ. Press). Muriel Levy’s six Adventures of Wonk. Four of her own In His Little Black Waistcoat about a panda. Aesop’s Fables. Arabian Nights. Here is “The Exploits of Hanuman”. Here is Queen Amata singing of Turnus and Lavinia from The Aeneid. Here is a cover for The Magic Bed-Knob. (Died 1972) [JH]
Born August 9, 1914 — Tove Jansson. Swedish-speaking Finnish artist wrote the Moomin books for children, starting in 1945 with Småtrollen och den stora översvämninge (The Moomins and the Great Flood). Over the next decades, there would a total of nineteen books. Currently Moominvalley, the new animated series is playing, on Netflix. And Terry Pratchett in “My family and other Moomins: Rhianna Pratchett on her father’s love for Tove Jansson” credits her for him becoming a fiction writer. (Died 2001.) (CE)
Born August 9, 1920 – Jack Speer. Pioneer of fanhistory with Up to Now (1939) and what we now know as Fancyclopedia I (1944). Introduced mailing comments, i.e. on others’ contributions in mailings, or distributions, of amateur publishing associations, thus ancestor of blog postings. His SF Song Sheet at Chicon I (2nd Worldcon) was the ancestor of filk music; the costume party he and Milt Rothman suggested was the ancestor of the spectacular on-stage contest we call the Masquerade. Fancestral Voices collects his fanwriting. When in my fanzine Vanamonde I misspelled the famous typo poctsarcd he promptly wrote back “Nothing is sacrd.” (Died 2008) [JH]
Born August 9, 1941 – Jamila Gavin, F.R.S.L., 79. Her Indian father and English mother met in Iran; she calls herself half and half. The Wheel of Surya, two sequels, follow two generations of Indian Sikhs; The Magic Orange Tree, Three Indian Goddesses and Three Indian Princesses are short stories from Indian legends; she is also a patroness of the Shakespeare Schools Festival. Two novels, a score of shorter stories, for us; twoscore more books (e.g. Coram Boy about the 18th Century foundling hospital established by Thomas Coram; Whitbread Prize). Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. [JH]
Born August 9, 1944 — Sam Elliott, 76. Weirdly the source for this Birthday thought he’d only been in one genre role, General Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross in the 2003 Hulk film, but he’s got many other roles as well. His first was Duke in Westworld followed by being Luke Peck in Time Bandits, Flik Whistler in The Thing and Lock in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. He’s the Phantom Rider in Ghost Rider and Lee Scoresby in The Golden Compass. His latest genre is as the lead in The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot. (CE)
Born August 9, 1947 — John Varley, 73. One of those authors that I’ve been meaning to read more of. I read both The Ophiuchi Hotline and Titan, the first novels respectively in his Eight Worlds and the Gaea Trilogy series, but didn’t go further. (See books, too many to read.) If you’ve read beyond the first novels, how are they as series? Worth pursuing now? (CE)
Born August 9, 1949 — Jonathan Kellerman, 71. Author of two novels so far in the Jacob Lev series (co-authored with Jesse Kellerman), The Golem of Hollywood and The Golem of Paris. I’ve read the first — it was quite excellent with superb characters and an original premise. Not for the squeamish mind you. (CE)
Born August 9, 1953 – Jim Theis. To him is attributed The Eye of Argon, said to be from 1970 when the author was 17 (maybe 16 when he wrote it). For two decades he has been subject to De mortuis nil nisi bonum (Latin, “Of the dead, say nothing but good”, various reasons e.g. they cannot defend themselves), to which the reply may be that we are speaking not of him but of his Eye, or that it’s so bad it’s — anyway, see here. (Died 2002) [JH]
Born August 9, 1956 — Adam Nimoy, 64. Son of the Leonard Nimoy and the actress Sandra Zober. His wife is Terry Farrell. He’s directed episodes of Babylon 5, Next Generation, The Outer Limits (he directed his father in the “I, Robot” episode, and Sliders. He’s responsible for For the Love of Spock, the documentary about his father. (CE)
Born August 9, 1970 – Thomas Lennon, 50. Actor, screenwriter, producer-director, guitarist. Played Eddie the Shipboard Computer in the 2005 film of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Mr. Mxyzptlk in Supergirl on CW television this year. Two novels for us; the first, Ronan Boyle and the Bridge of Riddles, was a NY Times Best Seller. [JH]
Non Sequitur says these complaints have been valid for a long while.
Another Non Sequitur has the “true reason” these species missed Noah’s Ark.
(12) THE UPSIDE OF THE PANDEMIC. Sir Julius Vogel Best Novel winner Sascha Stronach thinks, “One of the few saving graces of this year’s worldcon is that we didn’t end up having to host all these very important writers in TSB Arena, the worst events venue in New Zealand.” Thread starts here.
Linden A. Lewis’s debut novel The First Sister (book one in a trilogy of the same name) is a lot of fun, as stylish as it is substantial. Would you like your space opera with the social commentary and swaggery cool of Alexandre Dumas, with a dash of Cowboy Bebop and some awesome queer characters? Are you interested in political maneuverings and space economics, fantastically rich worldbuilding and sneaky spy stories? Read on. First Sister might be just the book you’ve been waiting for.
(14) IT’S IN THE CARDS. In The Washington Post Magazine, Gavin Edwards went to the 2019 Magic: The Gathering Mythic Championship in Richmond to profile players able to compete at a level where they can win serious money. He note that nearly all of the top Magic: The Gathering players are men, but Jessica Estephan, the first woman to win a Magic Grand Prix tournament, says that rather than two or three women at a big tournament, “I need more than two hands” to count the women competing, “and that just blows my mind and I love it.” “Strange Magic”.
The best Magic players have their games broadcast on Twitch with up to 30,000 people watching at once and up to 750,000 sampling the tournament at some point.
…After Lee gathered his cards and departed, Nettles told me quietly, “He’s a high-profile player, a Hall of Fame guy. I’m a tier below.” (Magic does have an official Hall of Fame, honoring 48 of its greatest competitors.) Nettles had played enough matches against the world’s best Magic players to assess his abilities vs. theirs: “I make a mistake in three percent of the games, they might make a mistake in one percent, and that’s the difference in a tournament.” One minute you’re a hero; the next minute, you’re a goat. Or in this case, an elk.
In 2019, Wizards provided 32 top players with sponsorship contracts worth $75,000 and, almost as important, gave them automatic invitations to major tournaments. Nettles wasn’t in that tier, but he had played well enough at Magic tournaments to get a sponsorship from a company that makes protective card sleeves, allowing him to play the game for a living.
In a rented home on a sunny street in Los Angeles, a team of professional gamers sat hunched over in swivel chairs while a pair of ergonomic specialists observed their posture, asked questions and took notes.
The gamers reported pain in their necks, their lower backs, their hips, wrists and shoulders. Carpal tunnel was a common complaint. Most of them were not yet 20.
Over several days in May 2018, specialists who had come from Herman Miller, the modern furniture company, and Logitech, the computer accessory and software manufacturer, watched professional teams practice in their training facilities (often large homes they shared with teammates) and play in a tournament.
They noticed how the gamers gripped their toes on the bases of their chairs to support their bodies, how they would incline forward when they played and how, in their downtime, they would exhibit what Herman Miller personnel dubbed “the teenage slouch.”
“We’re over 50, we don’t know anything about gaming,” said John Aldrich, the vice president of advanced engineering at Herman Miller, which is best known for its Eames lounge chair and mid-century modern furniture. “Watching multimillionaire 19-year-olds playing games was not what I expected to do with my career.”
Perhaps not, but Mr. Aldrich has devoted much of his professional life to ergonomic design, an area of relevance to anyone who sits for extended periods of time, as gamers do. And many players gravitate toward models that resemble chunkier, aggressively colorful office chairs….
(16) DON”T FORGET TO CONSERVE YOUR ENERGY. Fanac.org has posted a recording of a talk given at Boskone 5 (1968): “Larry Niven: The Theory and Practice of Teleportation.” We didn’t have YouTube in Ye Olde Days, so this material was still all new to me when Niven reprised it at a convention I attended a few years later.
In this audio recording (illustrated with dozens of images), Larry Niven gives a delightful talk on the effects of teleportation on a society. Five years before his “Flash Crowd” was published, this recording is a grand exposition of what goes on in this author’s mind as he works out the impact of new technology. “The limitations you assume for your teleportation are going to define your society.” Isaac Asimov (and a number of other audience members) challenge Larry with questions and suggestions. There’s even a chalkboard talk (which you can follow from the audio). The program provides a very entertaining and complete logical framework for thinking about the problems and advantages of different implementations of mechanical teleportation, with the eager participation of the engineers in the audience.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, John Hertz, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]