The U.S. Postal Service today announced additions to the 2022 stamp program, including a stamp that celebrates the James Webb Space Telescope, and a sheet of stamps of various Peanuts characters to commemorate the centennial of Charles M. Schulz’ birth.
Shown below are preliminary designs. Issue dates and locations will be announced later.
James Webb Space Telescope
Celebrate NASA’s remarkable James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most complex telescope ever deployed in space—capable of peering directly into the early cosmos and studying every phase of cosmic history. Launched on Dec. 25, 2021, Webb now orbits the Sun about a million miles away from Earth.
The image on the stamp is an artist’s digitally created depiction of the telescope against a dazzling starscape. The selvage photograph of a star and distant space was taken by Webb early in its mission, brilliantly confirming the perfect alignment of the telescope’s 18 mirror segments.
Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamp using existing art by James Vaughan and an image provided by NASA/Space Telescope Science Institute.
Charles M. Schulz
U.S. Postal Service Reveals More Stamps for 2022. Peanuts, Holidays and Space Exploration Featured.
New stamps salute the centennial of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz (1922–2000) whose “Peanuts” characters are some of the best known and most beloved in all of American culture. For five decades, Schulz alone wrote and drew nearly 18,000 strips, the last one published the day after he died. Each character reflects Schulz’s rich imagination and great humanity. His resonant stories found humor in life’s painful realities including rejection, insecurity and unrequited love.
In a celebratory mode, characters from “Peanuts” adorn 10 designs on this pane of 20 stamps and form a frame around a 1987 photograph of Schulz.
Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps from Schulz’s artwork and an existing photograph by Douglas Kirkland.
What if there was no one new Doctor? With a quick narrative device to produce an unstable regeneration, you could have a new high-profile Doctor every week. Suddenly it’s possible to hire Hugh Grant, Judi Dench or Riz Ahmed at the Tardis controls, when you only need to persuade them to do a few weeks’ filming – rather than a three-series commitment. Plus, you get all the publicity of the reveal of a new Doctor, over and over again.
(2) LET’S YOU AND HIM FIGHT. Rosemary Jenkinson is missing the old verbal slapfights between literary writers: “A Room with a Feud” in The Critic Magazine. Well, we still have plenty in genre, but if they stopped would you miss them?
Oh, where to find the fabulous spats that used to enliven every writers’ circle? It’s no coincidence that the drab rise of cancel culture has contributed to the demise of colourful literary disagreements. In my own case, my publisher, Doire Press, rescinded their offer to publish my debut novel after I wrote an article contending that Northern Irish authors should focus on contemporary matters rather than the Troubles. As the Sunday Independent rightly questioned in the aftermath, “Is the Irish literary world really so fragile and full of itself that it can’t cope with the odd dose of healthy impertinence?”
Many of the writing greats enhanced their reputations with a critical bon mot. As the poet and critic Dorothy Parker vaunted, “The first thing I do every morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue,”…
…Naturally, no one wants to see hatchet jobs on writers, but one can’t help wondering where the entertainment is in a bland anodyne literary world. Many writers don’t have the robust constitution to engage in the art of the literary skirmish, but the difficulty for the few who do is that those they write about are likely to claim victim status….
(3) SAWYER HEALTH UPDATE. Robert J. Sawyer told Facebook followers in a public post today that he tested positive for Covid-19, but has “no symptoms to speak of.” Best wishes for him to continue feeling well.
…”Russian warship, f***k you…!” was the response to demands to surrender given to Russian naval forces by Ukrainian border guards stationed on Snake Island early in the war. The Ukrainian marine who uttered the phrase, Roman Grybov, was present at a ceremony issuing the postage stamp along with the illustrator….
Acclaimed screenwriter Damon Lindelof learns that several members of his family tree died in the Bialystok ghetto during the Holocaust on Tuesday night’s episode of the celebrity genealogy show “Finding Your Roots.”
With help from the archives at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum, the “Finding Your Roots” team found six pages of testimony detailing the fate of a branch of Lindelof’s family.
Lindelof, who created HBO’s 2019 “Watchmen” series and co-created “Lost,” reads from the show’s compiled pages about his family tree, repeating “circumstances of death: ghetto Bialystok” after several relatives: his great-granduncle — the brother of his great-grandmother — and his wife and their four children.
I’ve always been a fan of ghost stories. As a kid, I loved horror movies and the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, and H. P. Lovecraft; later on, I discovered movies like The Innocents (based on Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw) and The Haunting (adapted from Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House). As a ghost historian and editor, I’ve discovered dozens of brilliant tales from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; these are stories that remain relevant, entertaining, and frightening….
Future Tense is asking Sec. Pete Buttigieg what role imagination plays in managing a federal department as sprawling and impactful as the Department of Transportation. We’re also asking three of our accomplished Future Tense Fiction authors to talk about how they see their work inspiring visions of futures that might come to pass.
Tochi Onyebuchi, @TochiTrueStory; Author, How to Pay Reparations: A Documentary, Future Tense Fiction Author, Goliath
Moderators: Paul Butler, President, New America; Ed Finn, @zonal; Founding Director, Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University
(8) MORE ABOUT CHRISTINE ASHBY. [Item by David Grigg.] Christine Ashby, long-time Australian fan, died at home on Tuesday 29 March 2022. She was 70 years of age. She is survived by her husband Derrick Ashby.
Christine was a member of the Monash University SF Association, alongside such well-known names as John Foyster and Carey Handfield. After graduating as a lawyer she began work as a solicitor and developed considerable expertise in legal costings.
She was involved in organising and running several Melbourne SF conventions in the 1970s and 80s and was the Guest of Honour at Q-Con in Brisbane in 1973. She and Derrick were members of ANZAPA for many years.
Christine was Treasurer of two Worldcons: Aussiecon in 1975 and Aussiecon Two in 1985.
Outside of fandom, Christine served for several years on the board of the Paraplegics and Quadriplegics Association of Victoria and for a short while was its Chairperson.
(9) MEMORY LANE.
2007 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Fifteen years ago, a special citation went to Ray Bradbury from the Pulitzer Board for his distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.
But the Pulitzer Board doesn’t give out such an Award without picking a specific work and this is the full language of their announcement:
Bradbury came of age as a writer before the postwar ascendancy of the paperback book as a publishing medium. Instead, during the Golden Age of Science Fiction, short stories published in pulp magazines like Astounding Science-Fiction, Thrilling Wonder Stories and Amazing Stories stood at the forefront of the field. As such, many of his novels are actually “fixups”—a term coined by SF legend A.E. van Vogt to describe novels assembled from previously published short stories that were buttressed with new interlinking material.
Culled from Bradbury’s late 1940s output, The Martian Chronicles is a sweeping account of the colonization of Mars amid nuclear war on Earth. Its literary structure (patterned after Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio) earned plaudits from such notable critics like Christopher Isherwood, who read the book after a fortuitous encounter with the younger writer (and fellow Angeleno) at a bookstore. In his review, Isherwood deemed Bradbury “a very great and unusual talent,” a tastemaking assessment that charted the course of the rest of his career.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 16, 1905 — Charles G. Finney. Writer and Editor. It’s rare that I pick writers whose main accomplishment is one work which has defined them, but his one such work is, well, phenomenal. His first novel and most famous work, The Circus of Dr. Lao, was a Hugo finalist at Loncon II and won one of the inaugural National Book Awards, the Most Original Book of 1935; it is most decidedly fantasy. Ray Bradbury liked the novel so much that he included it as the headline story in his anthology The Circus of Dr. Laoand Other Improbable Stories; it is said that the carnival in his Something Wicked This Way Comes is modelled upon The Circus of Dr. Lao. (Died 1984.)
Born April 16, 1917 — William “Billy” Benedict. Singled out for birthday honors as he was Whitey Murphy in Adventures of Captain Marvel. Yes, that Captain Marvel. Back in 1942, it was a 12-chapter black-and-white movie serial from Republic Pictures based off the Fawcett Comics strip. You can watch the first chapter, “Curse of The Scorpion,” here. (Died 1999.)
Born April 16, 1921 — Peter Ustinov. I’ve done his Birthday in the past and profiled his extensive genre work there but I’m going to limit this write-up to just one role he did. In half a dozen films, he played Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot, first in Death on the Nile and then in Evil Under the Sun, Thirteen at Dinner (a television film), Dead Man’s Folly (another television movie), Murder in Three Acts (yet another television movie), and finally in Appointment with Death. An impressive take on that role indeed! (Died 2004.)
Born April 16, 1922 — Kingsley Amis. So have you read The Green Man? I’m still not convinced that anything actually happened, or that rather everything including the hauntings were really in Maurice Allington’s decayed brain. I’m not seeing that he did much else for genre work other outside of The Anti-Death League and The Alteration but he did write Colonel Sun: A James Bond Adventure under the pseudonym of Robert Markham and his New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science Fiction which was published in the late Fifties sounds fascinating as he shares his views on the genre and makes some predictions as there’ll never be a SF series on the boob tube despite there already being so. (Died 1995.)
Born April 16, 1922 — John Christopher. Author of The Tripods, an alien invasion series which was adapted into both a excellent radio and a superb television series. He wrote a lot of genre fiction including the Fireball series in which Rome never fell, and The Death of Grass which I mention because it was one of the many YA post-apocalyptic novels that he wrote in the Fifties and Sixties that sold extremely well in the U.K. The film version would be nominated for a Hugo at Noreascon I, a year where No Award was given. (Died 2012.)
Born April 16, 1962 — Kathryn Cramer, 60. Writer, editor, literary critic. She co-founded The New York Review of Science Fiction in 1988 with David G. Hartwell and others, and was its co-editor until 1991 and again since 1996. She edited with her husband David G. Hartwell Year’s Best Fantasy one through nine, and Year’s Best SF seven through seventeen with him as well. They did a number of anthologies of which I’ll single out The Hard SF Renaissance and The Space Opera Renaissance as particularly superb. She has a most excellent website Kathryncramer.com.
Born April 16, 1975 — Sean Maher, 47. Doctor Simon Tam In the Firefly ‘verse. And Dick Grayson (Nightwing) in a staggering number of animated DCU films, to wit Son of Batman, Batman vs. Robin, Batman: Bad Blood, Justice League vs. Teen Titans, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, Batman: Hush and Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans. He showed up on Arrow as Shrapnel in the “Blast Radius” and “Suicide Squad” episodes. He also had a one-off on Warehouse 13 as Sheldon in the “Mild Mannered” episode.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
The Flying McCoys illustrates a problem caused by something you can easily understand Superman wouldn’t know he was doing.
(12) A FAN FUND AUCTION OF YESTERYEAR. Fanac.org’s video time machine has returned from 1976 with a clip from the first MidAmeriCon.
MidAmeriCon, the 34th World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Kansas City in 1976. In this very short video excerpt from the Fan Funds Auction at Big Mac, auctioneer Rusty Hevelin shows just how far fans will go to be supportive of the Fan Funds. In this clip, it’s not books or vegemite up for bid, but currency. The second item is the one to watch, with Rusty skillfully extracting bids from the crowd. You’ll also see fellow auctioneer jan howard finder making a brief appearance…
This video is brought to you by the FANAC Fan History Project, with video from the Video Archeology project (coordinated by Geri Sullivan, with technical work by David Dyer-Bennet).
… Was it strange to go from being the only child on the set of Temple of Doom to being constantly around other young actors while making The Goonies?
It was weird, because coming off of Indiana Jones … I got all the attention versus being on a set with six other kids, and honestly they were all hams! [Laughs] They really knew what they were doing. So I found myself constantly having to fight for attention. But that was very familiar to me, because I grew up in a big family and that’s what my home was like. I got some great friendships out of that movie, including Jeff Cohen, aka Chunk. He’s my entertainment lawyer and we’re great friends, as I am with Sean [Astin] and Corey [Feldman]. We’re Goonies for life…
(14) NOSFERATU. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Nigel Andrews reflects on the centennial of F.W. Murnau’s great horror film Nosferatu.
The film’s poetry of terror comes from real locations, mostly shot in daytime. Cityscapes: the unforgettable, hollowed-out tenement building (filmed in Lübeck) in which the vampire finds his last-act townhouse. Nature: dark monuments and bristling forests. castles: the stone arches and beetling walls of Nosferatu’s Carpathian home. Those arches become a master touch. In shot after shot, Max Shreck’s hideous Count, dressd to kill and made up likewise, emerges from the inverted U of dark tunnels or from frame-fitting Gothic doorways, like a creature serially birthed or rebirthed from vertical coffin-wombs.
Schreck was a distinguished stage actor made out for the movie. The nightmarishly thin body (for which he dieted), with long arms and extended fingers,is crowned with a rat-toothed bat-eared head, bald and cadaverously thin. The dark, hollowed eyes are a premonitory rhyme with the Lübeck buildings. The frock coat is like a sartorial shroud, which seems sewn straight on to the skin. Sometimes he wears a skewy turban-style nightcap: a touch of bleak farce among the grand guignol.
The lunar dust that sold today is a rare exception to the rule, a quirk due in part to a combination of fraud, mistaken identity, and a series of legal disputes….
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Jurassic World Dominion, two generations of cast members unite for the first time. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are joined by Oscar-winner Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill.
From Jurassic World architect and director Colin Trevorrow, Dominion takes place four years after Isla Nublar has been destroyed. Dinosaurs now live—and hunt—alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, David Grigg, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]
… This story is gritty as all hell. Focusing largely on Hicks and Bishop after being “rescued” with Ripley and Newt in the Sulaco where they ended up at the conclusion of Aliens, this version of Alien 3 goes from “Ehhh, things might be ok.” to “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” to “Oh yeah, everything is totally screwed.”
We see a whole lot of evolution in the Xenomorphs in this story. Their adaptation and speedy evolution is both terrifying and, for franchise fans, fascinating given the total lore that already exists. These bugs are a total game changer when it comes to their propagation and swarm-like spread….
The U.S. Postal Service will celebrate Message Monsters with the most playful, customizable Forever stamp design ever. The four monster illustrations on this pane of 20 stamps invite interactivity with dozens of self-adhesive accessories on the selvage. The monster-ific accoutrements include cartoony voice balloons and thought bubbles with exclamations and salutations, hats and crowns, hearts, stars, crazy daisies and other fun flair.
Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the pane with original artwork by Elise Gravel, author and illustrator of popular children’s books.
In 1958, a monster magazine intended to be a one-off hit the newsstands – and sold out! This specialty mag was Famous Monsters of Filmland, and would go on to become the longest published, and one of the most influential entertainment periodicals, ever! Throughout the 1960s, publisher James Warren and editor Forrest J Ackerman’s FM did something no other magazine of the era had. It turned the spotlight from the stars in front of the camera to the artists behind the camera. The people who actually made the movie magic that captured the imagination of audiences. Basil Gogos’ vivid cover paintings became the freaky face of and “gateway” to the magazine. A magazine that was a vessel for the exciting, creative world kids dreamed of being a part of. Gogos created hallmarks of the “big bang,” that inspired legendary careers. A Basil Gogos FM cover painting is impossible to find…until now.
Basil Gogos’ (1929-2017) paintings brought black and white monsters to vivid, colorful life….
…Most markets send form-letter rejections. These are typical and acceptable; other options take work, and more work per submission means slower responses. Vague rejection language like “it didn’t work for us” is common, and means exactly what it says. Form rejections can be brief, but the market’s staff should be aware of the emotional impact of words, and write a letter that feels supportive rather than dismissive.
Some markets use “tiered forms,” which means they have a handful of different form letters, and the choice reflects something about the staff’s reaction to your submission….
(5) PRESERVING FANHISTORY. The latest FANAC.org newsletter was distributed today. When it’s online the link will be here — F. A. N. A. C. Inc. (fanac.org). An excerpt:
Behind the Scenes or How the Sausage is Made: Finding Anne Steul: Anne Steul is not a familiar name to most of us. In June, Rob Hansen sent us a scan of Fantum 1, edited by Anne Steul, who he remarked had also organized the first German SF con with some help from Jim and Greg Benford. That led to an expansion of Anne Steul’s Fancyclopedia article, followed by more biographical data on her from Rob Hansen. We asked Thomas Recktenwald if he could tell us more. Thomas provided insight into why she left fandom, and a link to Rainer Eisfield’s book, Zwischen Barsoon und Peenemunde(Between Barsoom and Peenemunde) that had 10 pages on Anne Steul, and German fandom of the time, including bibliographic data and a photo. Next, Joe asked Jim and Greg Benford for additional info and Greg forwarded a few 2013 issues of CounterClock, a fanzine from Wolf von Witting published in Italy, that had articles on early German fandom. So now we have expanded our knowledge, added her Fantum, and added to the Fancyclopedia entry. And that’s how the Fan History sausage is made. As a result, Thomas Recktenwald is helping us add information about German fandom to Fancyclopedia. Thomas is a long-time contributor to The Fan History Project having provided many photos, fanzines and recordings.
(6) DON’T IT JUST FRY YOUR SHORTS? [Item by Rob Thornton.] Here’s another “SF written by a mainstream writer” example. French guy writes a novel about “what if the Incas invaded Europe in the 16th century” and it is getting all the attention, including media deals. “How a French Novelist Turns the Tables on History” in the New York Times. (Registration required.)
…It’s an imaginary scenario — of the Incas of Peru invading 16th-century Europe, not the other way around, which is what happened in 1532 — that haunted and inspired Binet.
“There’s something melancholic in my book,” he said in an interview at his home last month, “because it offers the conquered a revenge that they never really had.”
The reality for the Incas, like many other Indigenous populations, was that they were killed and exploited, Binet added. “That’s what both fascinates and horrifies me: You can think what you like of the past but you can’t change it.”
Binet, 49, has made his name writing historical novels that blur the boundaries between fact and fiction. His debut “HHhH,” which was translated into 34 languages (including English in 2012), melded history, fiction and autobiography to explore the events surrounding the assassination of the Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich. He followed it up in 2015 with “The Seventh Function of Language,” a murder mystery set in the 1980s that poked fun at the posturing of Parisian intellectuals. The French magazine L’Express called it “the most insolent novel of the year.”…
(7) TGIFF FILM FESTIVAL.[Item by Darius Luca Hupov.] The second edition of “The Galactic Imaginarium” Film Festival will take place in hybrid format at location, in Romania and online (TGI Sci-Fi and Fantasy Film Festival), from September 15-19, 2021.
The festival will screen 66 short and feature films, in 4 categories: Science Fiction, Fantasy/Fantastic, Comedy/Parody (SFF) and Animation (SFF). The public will see the films at the local drive-in cinema (due to the pandemic restrictions) and online, at the festival streaming platform. Also, the program of the festival (panels, debates, presentations, workshops, contests, etc.) will be present online, on ZOOM and the Discord channel of the Festival (https://discord.gg/hgDjxCMT).
In the program you can meet our Special Guests:
Josh Malerman, the New York TImes best selling author of Bird Box and Goblin
Naomi Kritzer (won the Hugo Award, Lodestar Award, Edgar Award, and Minnesota Book Award)
John Wiswell, a Nebula winner, and a World Fantasy and Hugo finalist
Representatives from Seed&Spark, Mogul Productions, Storycom…
And many, many more. You can find more details and get an online General Access Ticket here.
(8) N3F’S FRANSON AWARD. Patricia Williams-King’s service to the National Fantasy Fan Federation has been recognized with the Franson Award by N3F President George Phillies:
The Franson Award was originally called the N3F President’s Award. It was renamed in honor of Donald Franson. This award started because past N3F Presidents have wanted to give a show of appreciation to people – even those who may have won the Kaymar Award, which you can only win once. Presidential Statement Patricia Williams-King has faithfully and energetically served the N3F for many years, most recently by maintaining the N3F Round Robin Bureau. Round Robin groups discuss a topic by circulating a papermail letter bundle from one member to the next. If one member of a group gafiates, the group stops functioning. The Bureau Head has the task of restarting groups, so to speak bringing them back to life. Through thick and through thin, in the face of great obstacles, personal and fannish challenges, and other hindrances to smooth operation, Patricia Williams-King gave us an N3F Bureau that largely continued to function. As your President, it is my privilege and honor to give a 2021 Franson Award to Patricia WilliamsKing.
They’re not waiting until next year’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” to open up the multiverse.
In the trailer, Peter Parker accidentally messes up a Doctor Strange spell, creating a rift that brings out elements of previous Spider-Man film eras, which didn’t share much of a timeline… until now…
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1999 – Twenty-two years ago, the Compton Crook Award, Baltcon’s Award for the Best First Novel, went to James Stoddard for The High House. It is the first novel of his Evenmere trilogy that was continued in The False House and which was just completed in 2015 with his Evenmere novel. It had been been published by Warner Aspect the previous year. It would also be nominated for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature in the year the illustrated edition of Stardust would garner that Award. It was also nominated for a Locus Best SF Novel Award. If you’ve not read it, Stoddard has let us put the first chapter up at Green Man and you can read it here.
(11) TODAY’S DAY.
Shed a tear.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 24, 1899 — Gaylord Du Bois. He was a writer of comic book stories and comic strips, as well as Big Little Books. He wrote Tarzan for Dell Comics and Gold Key Comics from the Forties to early Seventies.) He was one of the writers for Space Family Robinson which was the basis for the Lost in Space series. (Died 1993.)
Born August 24, 1899 — Jorge Luis Borges. I’m reasonably sure my first encounter with him was at University with the assignment of The Library of Babel. I’m not deeply read in him but I also loved The Book of Imaginary Beings, and though not genre, recommend The Last Interview and Other Conversations for an excellent look at him as a writer. (Died 1985.)
Born August 24, 1932 — William Morgan Sheppard. Best remembered I think as Blank Reg in Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. Genre wise I’d add him being the Klingon Prison Warden In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Merrit in The Prestige, the rather scary Soul Hunter on Babylon 5 and a Vulcan Science Minister in Star Trek. He appeared in a seventies Broadway production of Sherlock Holmes though I can’t tell you who he played. (Died 2019.)
Born August 24, 1934 — Kenny Baker. Certainly his portrayal of R2-D2 in the Star Wars franchise is what he’s best known for but he’s also been in Circus of Horrors, Wombling Free, Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader series, The Elephant Man, Sleeping Beauty, Time Bandits, Willow, Flash Gordon and Labyrinth. Personally I think his best role was as Fidgit in Time Bandits. (Died 2016.)
Born August 24, 1936 — A. S. Byatt, 85. Author of three genre novels, two of which I’m familiar with, Possession: A Romance which became a rather decent film, and winning the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, and one I’ve never heard of, Ragnarok: The End of the Gods, but I’m actually much, much more fond of her short fiction. I’d start with the Little Black Book of Stories and Angels & Insects collections.
Born August 24, 1951 — Tony Amendola, 70. Prolly best known for being the Jaffa master Bra’tac on Stargate SG-1. He’s also had recurring roles as Edouard Kagame of Liber8 on Continuum and on Once Upon a Time as Pinocchio’s creator, Geppetto. His list of one-off genre appearances is extensive and includes Angel, Charmed, Lois & Clark,Space: Above and Beyond, the Crusade spin-off of Babylon 5, X Files, Voyager, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Alias, She-Wolf of London and Kindred: The Embraced. He’s also been a voice actor in gaming with roles in such games as World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, World of Warcraft: Legion and Workd of Final Fantasy. (CE)
Born August 24, 1957 — Stephen Fry, 64. He’s Gordon Deitrich in V for Vendetta, and he’s the Master of Lakedown in The Hobbit franchise. His best role is as Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows though he made an interesting narrator in the film version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and not to be overlooked is that he’s the narrator for all seven of the Potter novels for the UK audiobook recordings. Interestingly when first commissioned, the eleventh episode of Doctor Who’s second series with David Tennant was to be called “The 1920s”. It was based on a script written by Stephen Fry. It was never produced.
Born August 24, 1958 — Lisa A. Barnett. Wife of Melissa Scott. Some of her works were co-authored with her: The Armor of Light, Point of Hopes: A Novel of Astreiant and Point of Dreams: A Novel of Astreiant. They wrote one short story, “The Carmen Miranda Gambit”. (Died 2006.)
(13) D&D. The Kingfisher & Wombat party resume their adventures. Thread starts here.
Reading the nominations for the Hugo Awards for Best Series takes dedication. I have read at least the first three books of every single one of the series and given the series a grade and review based upon that reading. If I have not read the entire series, I have noted it in my review of the series. I would love to talk about these series with you, dear readers, and want to know what you think about them. Which is your favorite? Have you read them all? This year’s nominations are a pile of excellent books, so it’s worth diving in.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced that it has successfully demonstrated the operation of a “rotating detonation engine” for the first time in space. The novelty of the technologies in question is that such systems obtain a large amount of thrust by using much less fuel compared to conventional rocket engines, which is quite advantageous for space exploration.
…The rotating detonation engine uses a series of controlled explosions that travel around an annular channel in a continuous loop. This process generates a large amount of super-efficient thrust coming from a much smaller engine using significantly less fuel – which also means sending less weight on a space launch. According to JAXA, it has the potential to be a game-changer for deep space exploration.
The rocket began the test demonstrations after the first stage separated, burning the rotating detonation engine for six seconds, while a second pulse detonation engine operated for two seconds on three occasions. The pulse engine uses detonation waves to combust the fuel and oxidizer mixture.
When the rocket was recovered after the demonstration, it was discovered that the rotary engine produced about 500 Newtons of thrust, which is only a fraction of what conventional rocket engines can achieve in space….
…Two years ago, DeJesus became the first umpire in a regular-season game anywhere to use something called the Automated Ball-Strike System. Most players refer to it as the “robo-umpire.” Major League Baseball had designed the system and was testing it in the Atlantic League, where DeJesus works. The term “robo-umpire” conjures a little R2-D2 positioned behind the plate, beeping for strikes and booping for balls. But, for aesthetic and practical reasons, M.L.B. wanted human umpires to announce the calls, as if playacting their former roles. So DeJesus had his calls fed to him through an earpiece, connected to a modified missile-tracking system. The contraption looked like a large black pizza box with one glowing green eye; it was mounted above the press box. When the first pitch came in, a recorded voice told DeJesus it was a strike. He announced it, and no one in the ballpark said anything.
…Baseball is a game of waiting and talking. For a hundred and fifty years or so, the strike zone—the imaginary box over home plate, seventeen inches wide, and stretching from the batter’s knees to the middle of his chest—has been the game’s animating force. The argument between manager and umpire is where the important disputes over its boundaries are litigated. The first umpires were volunteers who wore top hats, at whom spectators “hurled curses, bottles and all manner of organic and inorganic debris,” according to a paper by the Society for American Baseball Research. “Organic debris” wasn’t defined, but one wonders. A handful of early umpires were killed….
…Starting tomorrow, your Lyft XL ride may send your jaw dropping to the ground when the driver arrives in… the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.
From August 25 to 27, Oscar Mayer and Lyft will be offering free Wienermobile trips in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Atlanta — which were chosen because they are “the nation’s hottest rideshare cities.” The brand says riders can simply request a Lyft XL and one of Oscar Mayer’s Hotdoggers — the name given to those who drive the Wienermobile — may show up in a 27-foot hot dog on wheels instead. (Assuming it hasn’t been pulled over on the way.)
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In Transformers: Dark of the Moon Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says in the third Transformers movie, Sam Witwicky may be “smelly, whiny, and stinky,” but he’s easily able to find a new supermodel to be his girlfriend and let him live in her apartment rent-free because he can’t find a job. We also learn that Chernobyl happened because of a secret Transformers battle, which leads the producer to say that “the worst nuclear disaster in history was caused by Hasbro products.”
[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Dann, Rob Thornton, Darius Luca Hupov, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
Its appearance will be celebrated by a First-Day-of-Issue Dedication Ceremony on that date in Portland, Oregon. The outdoor ceremony in the Evan H. Roberts Sculpture Mall of the Portland Art Museum will be held “rain or shine” says the USPS. Those planning to attend in person are asked to RSVP here. Alternatively, people can view a short pre-recorded introduction of the stamp on the Postal Service’s Facebook and Twitter pages, available on Tuesday, July 27, 2021 1 p.m. PST.
The 33rd stamp in the Literary Arts series honors Ursula K. Le Guin (1929–2018), who “expanded the scope of literature through novels and short stories that increased critical and popular appreciation of science fiction and fantasy.” The stamp features a portrait of Le Guin based on a 2006 photograph. The background shows a scene from her landmark 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness, in which an envoy from Earth named Genly Ai escapes from a prison camp across the wintry planet of Gethen with Estraven, a disgraced Gethenian politician.
The artist for the stamp is Donato Giancola, a three-time Hugo winner who also was named a Spectrum Awards Grandmaster in 2019.
The stamp is valid for 3-ounce mail, currently costs 95¢, and a sheet of 20 can be pre-ordered here for $19.
How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark. Collectors can get the first-day-of-issue postmark in two ways.
(1) The Postal Service offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the USA Philatelic catalog and online at usps.com/shop.
(2) The USPS gives customers 120 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office™ or at The Postal Store® website at usps.com/shop. They must affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:
FDOI – Ursula K. Le Guin Stamp USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services 8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300 Kansas City, MO 64144-9900
After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. There is a 5-cent charge for each additional postmark over 50. All orders must be postmarked by November 27, 2021.
…The 20-stamp set features ten images that celebrate the science behind NASA’s ongoing exploration of our nearest star. The images display common events on the Sun, such as solar flares, sunspots and coronal loops. SDO has kept a constant eye on the Sun for over a decade. Outfitted with equipment to capture images of the Sun in multiple wavelengths of visible, ultraviolet, and extreme ultraviolet light, SDO has gathered hundreds of millions of images during its tenure to help scientists learn about how our star works and how its constantly churning magnetic fields create the solar activity we see.
“Just don’t stare at them directly,” says Daniel Dern.
How did the idea of The Devourers, your last novel, take shape?During my undergraduate years, I attended a baul mela in Kolkata, and, while intoxicated, had a vision (not quite literally, but almost) while protecting a kitten in the mela ground from a circling pack of dogs, of being in the same spot hundreds of years earlier, listening to minstrels around a campfire in the dark wilderness, while monsters hunted us. When I returned from winter break to college, I turned that into a short story in a Creative Writing class, which eventually turned into the first chapter of The Devourers a while later, when I was in grad school.
…Alone, but not: It’s a theme that courses through King’s sweeping body of work, and it returns for several characters across layers of time and space in “Lisey’s Story,” which begins Friday on Apple TV+. Julianne Moore stars as Lisey Landon, the widow of Scott Landon, a famous novelist (played by Clive Owen) whose childhood traumas drove him to forge a connection to a transdimensional world called Boo’ya Moon.
As vividly depicted in the show, Boo’ya Moon is a place of tranquil beauty, like a Pre-Raphaelite wonderland. But it’s also menacing terrain, where cloaked figures sit silently inside a massive amphitheater awaiting resolutions to earthly traumas…
… Even among the many other King adaptations that have recently emerged or are set to arrive in the near future, the Apple TV+ series based on King’s 2006 novel feels especially important, because King himself has said so. He counts Lisey’s Story among his personal favorite works, and holds it so dear that he took it upon himself to script all eight episodes of the miniseries for director Pablo Larrain (Jackie)….
Hear King himself speak about it on today’s CBS Sunday Morning.
(4) LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE. Hear author of Light of the Stars Adam Frank in a free webinar co-sponsored by the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination – register and maybe win a book: Adam Frank Webinar & Giveaway.
The search for life in the Universe is undergoing a profound renewal. Thanks to the discovery of thousands of planets orbiting other stars, the introduction of new observing technologies, and increased support from both public and private sectors, a new science of searching for “techno-signatures” is emerging.
In this talk Dr. Frank will unpack this frontier area, discussing what counts as a techno-signature; how to be systematic in thinking about exo-civilizations and their evolution; what techno-signatures can tell us about our own future. He believes that within the next few decades we will likely have actual data relevant to the question life, perhaps even the intelligent kind, in the Universe.
Dr. Adam Frank is a leading expert on the final stages in the evolution for stars like the Sun, but his current work also focuses on life in the universe. His research group at the University of Rochester has developed advanced supercomputer tools for studying how stars form and how planets evolve. His most recent book is Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth, which won the 2019 Phi Beta Kappa Award for Science. He has written two other books, The Constant Fire: Beyond the Religion and Science Debate, and About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang. He is the co-founder of the blog 13.8 on BigThink.com and an on-air commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered.
We’re celebrating 5 years tonight of Murray Horwitz as host of The Big Broadcast! Join us for some of our favorites, including Orson Welles, Fred Allen, Lucille Ball and The Whistler — as well as our usual Dragnet, Yours Truly Johnny Dollar and Gunsmoke….
7:30 p.m. Dimension X “Martian Chronicles” (Original air date August 18, 1950. NBC network.) (Running time 30:19)
Can science fiction save the world? Author and filmmaker, Mikel J. Wisler, explores the themes and ideas presented in a wide range of sci-fi movies and books from various time periods. Convinced that sci-fi is the most naturally philosophical genre, Wisler invites everyone from die-hard fans to casual observers to dive into meaningful conversations about how sci-fi helps us think about our future, brings up challenging scenarios, and forces us to ask big questions.
Astounding author Alec Nevala-Lee is interviewed in Episode 25.
(7) NED BEATTY (1937-2021). Actor Ned Beatty died June 13 at the age of 83. Best known for his work in Deliverance and Network, his genre roles included Lex Luthor’s (Gene Hackman) bumbling sidekick Otis in Superman (1978) and its 1980 sequel. He was in Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977). He voiced Lotso in Toy Story 3 (2010) and The Mayor in Rango (2011). And he has another two dozen lesser genre credits.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 13, 1980 — On this date in 1980, The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything premiered in syndication as distributed by Paramount Television. Based on the John D. MacDonald novel of the same name, it was written by George Zateslo and directed by William Wiard. Myrl A. Schreibman Was the producer. It starred Robert Hays, Pam Dawber, Zohra Lampert, Jill Ireland, Ed Nelson and Maurice Evans.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 13, 1892 — Basil Rathbone. He’s best remembered for being Sherlock Holmes in fourteen films made between 1939 and 1946 and in a radio series of the same period. For films other than these, I’ll single out The Adventures of Robin Hood (all Robin Hood is fantasy), Son of Frankenstein and Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet. (Died 1967.)
Born June 13, 1893 — Dorothy Sayers. ISFDB often surprises me, and having her listed as writing four stories in the genre did it again. All of them were written in the Thirties and here they are: “The Cyprian Cat”, “The Cave of Ali Baba”, “Bitter Almonds” and “The Leopard Lady”. So, who here has read them and can comment on them being genre or not? (Died 1957.)
Born June 13, 1903 — Frederick Stephani. Screenwriter and film director who is best remembered for co-writing and directing the 13-chapter Flash Gordon serial in 1936. He directed Johnny Weissmuller‘s Tarzan’s New York Adventure (aka Tarzan Against the World). He was also an uncredited writer on 1932’s Dracula. (Died 1962.)
Born June 13, 1943 — Malcolm McDowell, 78. My favourite role for him was Mr. Roarke on the rebooted Fantasy Island. Of course his most infamous role was Alex in A Clockwork Orange. Scary film that. His characterization of H. G. Wells in Time After Time was I thought rather spot on. And I’d like to single out his voicing Arcady Duvall in the “Showdown” episode of Batman: The Animated Series.
Born June 13, 1949 — Simon Callow, 72. English actor, musician, writer, and theatre director. So what’s he doing here? Well he got to be Charles Dickens twice on Doctor Who, the first being in “The Unquiet Dead” during the time of the Ninth Doctor and then later during “The Wedding of River Song”, an Eleventh Doctor story. He’d also appear, though not as Dickens, on The Sarah Jane Adventures as the voice of Tree Blathereen in “The Gift” episode. I’ve not watched the series. How is this series? He was also The Duke of Sandringham in the first season of Outlander.
Born June 13, 1953 — Tim Allen, 68. Jason Nesmith in the much beloved Galaxy Quest. (Which of course won a much deserved Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation at Chicon 2000.) He actually had a big hit several years previously voicing Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story which would be the first in what would become a long-running film franchise.
Born June 13, 1963 — Audrey Niffenegger, 58. Her first novel was The Time Traveler’s Wife. She has stated in interviews that she will not see the film as only the characters in the novels are hers. Good for her. Raven Girl, her third novel about a couple whose child is a raven trapped in a human body, was turned into performed at the Royal Opera House.
Born June 13, 1969 — Cayetana Guillén Cuervo, 52. She’s got the role of Irene Larra in El Ministerio del Tiempo (The Ministry of Time), a Spanish SF series which sounds fascinating but which I’ve not seen. Anyone here seen it? Not fond of captioning, but I’d put up with it to see this.
…Sojourner “Jo” Mullein’s impact is not defined by the fact that she’s the first Black, queer woman to ever hold the mantle of Green Lantern. Or by the fact that N.K. Jemisin, Jamal Campbell and Deron Bennett are one of the first all-Black creative teams to helm a Green Lantern title. Those are huge factors in just what makes the book special, of course, but what truly makes Far Sector and its hero feel so groundbreaking is the imaginative exploration of what it means to be a Green Lantern and the innate understanding of how that very imagination is at the core of what makes the hero great. Where some Green Lantern stories feel stymied by a lack of the thing that gives the Power Ring its magic, Far Sector pulses with imagination on every page….
The J.R.R. Tolkien franchise is heading back to the big screen in a fresh New Line and Warner Animation anime title The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim. I’m told that the Oscar-winning feature architects Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh are not involved with the project as we speak, but that will be determined down the road. Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings: Return of the King scribe Philippa Boyens will be a consultant on the new project directed by Kenji Kamiyama. The pic is being fast-tracked with animation work done by Sola Entertainment. Voice casting is currently underway. Pic will be distributed around the globe by Warner Bros. Pictures.
The War of the Rohirrim focuses on a character from the book’s appendix, the mighty King of Rohan, Helm Hammerhand, and a legendary battle which helped shaped Middle-earth heading into LOTR. The anime pic will expand the untold story behind the fortress of Helm’s Deep, delving into the life and bloodsoaked times of Hammerhand. Overall, the movie is a companion piece to New Line’s LOTR trilogy and is set roughly 250 years before that movie during the third age (Note Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings mini-series is set during the second age).
Kamiyama has been behind such anime projects as Blade Runner: Black Lotus and the TV series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Joseph Chou (Blade Runner: Black Lotus) will produce. Jeffrey Addiss and Will Matthews (The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance) are writing….
“This will be yet another epic portrayal of J.R.R. Tolkien’s world that has never been told before. We’re honored to partner with much of the incredible talent behind both film trilogies, along with new creative luminaries to tell this story,” said Sam Register, President of Warner Bros. Animation. “And so it begins.”
(13) TOURISTS, ASSEMBLE! See a replay of the Avengers Campus Opening Ceremony from Disney California Adventure park.
[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Rich Lynch, Darrah Chavey, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
… The movie posters used to promote the movies have sometimes become as iconic as some of the movie moments themselves. These are 25 of the iconic works of art that have become some of the most memorable Star Wars images over the years….
1. The Phantom Menace teaser poster
After a decade and a half without a new Star Wars movie coming to theaters, The Phantom Menace was announced. We would all finally get to experience the first chapter of the saga.
There were rumors as to what we would get to see and more than a few images released of the movie being worked on, but this was the first official image we got advertising the upcoming movie — and really the trilogy as a whole. The image of a 9-year-old Anakin casting a Darth Vader shadow on the wall hit the world with a bang…
The second movie in the original trilogy is the one Bradbury almost co-wrote.
In the early 1940s, the writer studied with Leigh Brackett, a pioneer for women and the melodramatic space opera in science fiction. That gave way to a collaboration with “Lorelei of the Red Mist,” a novella about a powerful, siren-like woman who controls the strong, barbarian body that a convict has recently been transplanted in.Brackett went on to become a screenwriter and was a co-writer with Larry Kasdan on the “Empire” script. But she was in failing health, so the producer asked Bradbury whether he was familiar enough with her work to finish it if she couldn’t.
“Ray Bradbury said, ‘Yes, I do. But I want her to have credit,’ ” center director Jon Eller said.As it turned out, Brackett completed her draft before she died in 1978, so Bradbury never had to work on it.
But the script — a fourth revision that doesn’t even contain Darth Vader’s big reveal to Luke because that detail was so secretive — remains part of Bradbury’s collection.
(4) THE LOREMASTER. Craig Miller, author of the superb Star Wars Memories, shared a joke with Facebook readers that got an immediate laugh from George Lucas and Gary Kurtz at the time, and that he needs to explain to the rest of us.
…And now, the story. This is one that appears in my book, Star Wars Memories (available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Walmart). More, and less obscure, stories throughout Star Wars Season.
Suggesting a Title for Film #3
(Warning: This story has a punch line. But it requires deep knowledge of both Star Wars lore and motion picture history in order to get it. I’ll explain it at the end but it won’t be as funny – maybe not funny at all – if I have to explain it you.)…
(5) LOCATING THE LOCATIONS. And Craig has definitely been to some of the places in “The Real Star Wars Universe” charted by Statista. (Click for larger image.)
(6) BIGGS SAVED FROM THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR. “Star Wars: A New Hope – Deleted Scenes” on YouTube is 8 1/2 minutes of footage cut from Star Wars, including several scenes with Garrick Hagon as Biggs Darklighter that never appeared in the final cut of Star Wars.
In an auction house far, far away (well, Bristol actually), the enduring power of the force was clear.
A Darth Vader helmet sold for £2,200, more than five times the top estimate, and a signed picture of Alec Guinness in his Obi-Wan Kenobi robes was snapped up for £3,100, treble what was anticipated.
Someone, somewhere, paid £9,000 for a prototype lightsaber, the weapon of choice of Jedi knights in the Star Wars saga, which the Earthlings at East Bristol Auctions had judged might bring in £80-£120.
Hundreds of items hoarded and collected by David Prowse, the Bristolian who played Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, were sold off in his home city following his death, aged 85, last year.
Naturally the sale took place on May the 4th…
(8) DISSENTING VOICES. Not everybody is attuned to the spirit of the day.
Controversies From this article we learned that Amazon has an executive who serves as director of book content risk and quality, Sarah Castle. It was her job to assess internal complaints from “dozens of Amazon employees” asking the company to stop selling Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, by journalist Abigail Shrier, arguing that the book violates Amazon’s recently stated policy against selling books “that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.” The Seattle Times reports that Castle told employees on an internal message board, “After examining the content of the book in detail and calibrating with senior leadership, we have confirmed that it does not violate our content policy.”
In 1993, Rachel Pollack took over DC/Vertigo’s Doom Patrol following Grant Morrison’s star-making turn on the book. Her run lasted 25 issues, but has never been collected – but has begun making its way to DC digital platforms recently.
Among the memorable stories is the initial ‘Sliding In the Wreckage’ arc, as well as the introduction of Kate Godwin (Coagula) – the first trans superhero for DC or Marvel comic books. Over the course of her run, Pollack touched on concepts of family, fitting in, and making a path for yourself in a world that didn’t have a set path for you.
Newsarama spoke to Pollack earlier this month about her Doom Patrol run, her prose work such as the new novella collection The Fissure King, and her poised return to comic books.
Newsarama: Rachel, what are you working on today?
Rachel Pollack: I’m actually typing up a second draft of a story called ‘Visible Cities.’ I always write everything longhand with fountain pen and then type it up, and that’s my second draft. I’m doing that at the moment. And then I’m preparing for a trip to Scotland.
Two years after announcing that he had retired from comics, Alan Moore, the illustrious author of Watchmen and V for Vendetta, has signed a six-figure deal for a “groundbreaking” five-volume fantasy series as well as a “momentous” collection of short stories.
Bloomsbury, home to the Harry Potter novels, acquired what it described as two “major” projects from the 67-year-old. The first, Illuminations, is a short story collection which will be published in autumn 2022 and which moves from the four horsemen of the apocalypse to the “Boltzmann brains” fashioning the universe. Bloomsbury said it was “dazzlingly original and brimming with energy”, promising a series of “beguiling and elegantly crafted tales that reveal the full power of imagination and magic”.
The second acquisition is a fantasy quintet titled Long London, which will launch in 2024. The series will move from the “shell-shocked and unravelled” London of 1949 to “a version of London just beyond our knowledge”, encompassing murder, magic and madness. Bloomsbury said it “promises to be epic and unforgettable, a tour-de-force of magic and history”….
(12) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
May 4, 1962 — The Twilight Zone‘s “The Dummy”.
“You’re watching a ventriloquist named Jerry Etherson, a voice-thrower par excellence. His alter ego, sitting atop his lap, is a brash stick of kindling with the sobriquet ‘Willie.’ In a moment, Mr. Etherson and his knotty-pine partner will be booked in one of the out-of-the-way bistros, that small, dark, intimate place known as the Twilight Zone.“
On this day in 1962, The Twilight Zone aired “The Dummy”. It was written by: Rod Serling from an unpublished story by Lee Polk. It was directed by Abner Biberman and produced by Buck Houghton. It starred Cliff Robertson, Frank Sutton and George Murdock. An average ventriloquist finds he has a not-so-average and quite horrifying dummy. The plot here would later influence many other series including Batman: The Animated Series with its own terrifying animated apparent dummy.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 4, 1893 – Alfred Pollard. Four novels for us; outside our field, crime and war stories, fiction and non, threescore books all told. Served in World War I, earned the Victoria Cross. (Died 1960) [JH]
Born May 4, 1909 — Ray Quigley. Here solely for the three covers that he did for Weird Tales in the Forties. He didn’t do a lot of pulp work that I can find but these three are amazing. He did the December 1938 cover with the Dracula-like figure, the September 1940 cover with the nightmarish skull-faced Bombers and finally the May 1942 cover with the really scary living ship. The latter issue had Henry Kuttner, Robert Bloch and Dorothy Quick listed on the cover! (Died 1998.) (CE)
Born May 4, 1913 — John Broome. DC writer during the Golden Age. He’s responsible for the creation of an amazing number of characters including The Phantom Stranger, Per Degaton (with artist Irwin Hansen), Captain Comet and Elongated Man (with Carmine Infantino), Atomic Knight and one of my favorite characters, Detective Chimp. The DC UNIVERSE streaming app has his work on The Flash starting on issue #133 and the entire early Fifities run of Mystery in Space that he wrote as well. (Died 1999.) (CE)
Born May 4, 1920 — Phyllis Miller. She co-wrote several children’s books with Andre Norton, House of Shadows and Seven Spells to Sunday. Ride the Green Dragon, a mystery, is at best genre adjacent but it too was done with Norton. (Died 2001.) (CE)
Born May 4, 1940 – Bob Layzell, age 80. Threescore covers, a score of interiors. Here is Farthest Star. Here is Drunkard’s Walk. Here is Dangerous Frontiers. Here is A Trace of Memory. Here is The Grey Prince. [JH]
Born May 4 (year unknown) – Ernie Wheatley. Known as the Dormouse of the LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Soc.) for falling asleep with his head on his arms at table during restaurant after-meetings, raising it to speak aptly, sleeping again. Once after we had adopted “Death will not release you” and someone uttered it on some such occasion EW piped up “Even if you die!” which was promptly added. In 1960 while Westerns were big, also home-made films, and fanfiction meant fiction about fans, Lee Jacobs wrote “The Musquite Kid Rides Again” for SAPS about a transparently-disguised Wrai Ballard; it was filmed; here is EW as “Killer Kemp” i.e. Earl Kemp who by then had won a Hugo for Who Killed SF? [JH]
Born May 4, 1943 — Erwin Strauss, 78. I’m not sure I can do him justice. Uberfan, noted member of the MITSFS, and filk musician. He frequently is known by the nickname “Filthy Pierre” which I’m sure is a story in itself that one of you will no doubt tell me. Created the Voodoo message board system used at a number of early Cons and published an APA, The Connection, that ran for at least thirty years. Do tell me about him. (CE)
Born May 4, 1956 — Murray McArthur, 65. He first shows on Doctor Who in “The Girl Who Died”, a Twelfth Doctor story before being The Broken Man on The Game of Thrones. He also shows up as a stagehand in the historical drama Finding Neverland before playing Snug in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (CE)
Born May 4, 1957 – Nancy Canepa, Ph.D., age 64. Here is Teaching Fairy Tales she edited. Professor at Dartmouth. “My teaching and research centers on early modern Italy (1550-1700). I’m particularly fascinated by the development of new literary forms and languages during this period, in genres that range from the fairy tale to the mock epic to the travelogue.” [JH]
Born May 4, 1960 – Kate Saunders, age 61. A dozen novels, a couple of shorter stories for us; two dozen books all told, some for adults, some for children. Newspapers, magazines, radio, television. Trask Award. Costa Children’s Book Award. [JH]
Born May 4, 1974 – James Bacon, 47. He’s a 14-time Hugo nominee, as a fan writer and as co-editor of The Drink Tank and Journey Planet, and a two-time winner — one Hugo with each fanzine. James was the 2004 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate: download his trip report at the unofficial TAFF website, WorldConNomicon. In addition to working on Irish convention Octocon, he ran his own conventions: Aliens Stole My Handbag, Damn Fine Convention, and They Came and Shaved Us. Ultimately he chaired the Dublin 2019 Worldcon. He ran Sproutlore—the Robert Rankin Fan Club. With fellow fans he established The James White Award, an annual short-story competition. And he often contributes to File 770! (OGH)
Born May 4, 1977 — Gail Carriger, 44. Ahhhh such lovely mannerpunk she writes! I think I first noticed her with the start of the Finishing School series which she started off with Etiquette & Espionage some six years ago. Moirai Cook does a delightful job of the audiobooks so I recommend that you check them out. I also love the two novellas in her Supernatural Society series as well. (CE)
Born May 4, 1978 – Shaenon Garrity, age 43. A score of short stories. Known for Webcomics Narbonic and Skin Horse. Interviewed in Lightspeed. Web Cartoonists’ Choice Award for Outstanding Writing. Lulu of the Year Award. Summa cum laude from Vassar. Website. [JH]
To celebrate May the 4th (aka Star Wars Day), the Mouse House’s theme park division revealed a short video of the potentially patented lightsaber (it works kinda like a high-tech, dual measuring tape) — wielded by a cast member dressed as Rey — in action, and it’s beyond cool.
(16) A SHARPER IMAGE. Jeff Foust reviews the Folio Society Edition of Andrew Chaikin’s famous history of the Apollo missions for The Space Review: “Review: A Man on the Moon”.
…To be clear, the text of the book is unchanged from earlier editions: this is not a revised or expanded version. The only new words in this version is a brief preface by Chaikin, which he uses to explain the other major change of the book: the inclusion of nearly 200 color and black-and-white photos that he curated for the book. As high-quality digital versions of the photos became available in the years after he first wrote the book, he explains, “I was amazed at the details I could now see; I felt they had opened a new portal I could step through to witness what the astronauts had seen and done.”
This is not the first illustrated edition of the book, but this version strikes a better balance between the photos and text than that earlier three volume set, where the images at times drowned out the text. Here the images are better ties to the text, and include a mix of obvious famous pictures as well as less-famous ones from the missions or training for them. The book includes fold-out color plates, such as one that combines several views of the Earth taken by the Apollo 8 mission on its way to the Moon; it illustrates the spacecraft’s journey by showing our home planet get ever smaller.
The real value of A Man on the Moon, though, remains Chaikin’s account of the missions, enabled by his interviews with the Apollo astronauts. At the time he started the book, all but one of the 24 men who went to the Moon on nine Apollo missions were still alive (Apollo 13’s Jack Swigert died of cancer in 1982.) Enough times had passed for the astronauts to reflect on their journeys, but not so long that we would lose the chance to have them recount their experiences….
Every two years, international governmental and space agencies take part in a tabletop scenario as part of the Planetary Defense Conference. In this exercise, a space rock is discovered to be heading toward Earth and members of different agencies have to work out what are the best things to do to try and avoid catastrophe.
… The second day also sees a detailed look at what missions could be sent to deflect such an asteroid. And it’s not good news. The asteroid is too close and too fast (and possibly too big) for a course correction. So you ought to hit it hard. Either a nuclear weapon, among the biggest, ever assembled during the Cold War, or shooting like dozens of rockets at it. With the risk that it would fragment and still crash into Earth.
“If confronted with the 2021 PDC hypothetical scenario in real life we would not be able to launch any spacecraft on such short notice with current capabilities,” members of the group stated….
…So folks, whether you hate the giant squid statue or find it ink-redible, what’s fin-ished is fin-ished.
(20) FLY CASTING. In “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say the series “comes from the military espionage side of the MCU, where the morals are as grey as the visuals” and that the cameo appearance of Julia Louis-Dreyfus leads them to speculate about when the rest of the Seinfeld cast will show up in the MCU. No spoiler warning – but who knows?
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The World Begins With You” on YouTube, Fandom Games says the game is set in “nightmare Tokyo a place where you have to worry about how good you will look when you’re dead” and is so busy that the game “will have you tapping at your screen like a crazed woodpecker.”
[Thanks to Peer, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Rob Thornton, John Hertz, Dann, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Jennifer Hawthorne, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day bill.]
(1) FREE COMIC BOOK DAY IS 8/14. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. (Me.) Free Comic Book Day is August 14 — just like it says on the logo! — contrary to the typoed date in my standalone post (which has now been corrected, thanks to eagle-eyed John King Tarpinian.)
(2) MARVEL’S PLAN FOR PRIDE MONTH. This June, Marvel Comics will observe Pride Month with a celebration of LGBTQ+ characters and creators in Marvel’s Voices: Pride #1.
Marvel’s first-ever queer-centered special will get a special Frame Variant cover by artist Luciano Vecchio. An homage to the iconic Marvel 25th Anniversary covers released in 1985, this cover spotlights Marvel’s tapestry of LGBTQ+ characters and will reveal a brand-new hero who is set to make their debut within the upcoming one-shot. Check out this incredible cover below!
(3) C’MON, YOU DROIDS, YOU WANNA POST FOREVER? Your reminder that the USPS Droid Stamps are scheduled for Star Wars Day! (May the Fourth). File 770’s post about them is here. Order them from USPS here.
…Schließlich schreibt sie auf ihrem eigenen Blog über Science-Fiction, Fantasy und Artverwandtes. Seit einiger Zeit außerdem auf der Webseite galacticjourney.org. Sie rezensiert Filme, Serien und Literatur, führt Interviews mit Kollegen. Und zwar immer auf Englisch, aus Fan-Perspektive….
(5) TED TALKS. Lex Berman interviews Ted White about his early writing career contributing to Rogue Magazine in a Diamond Bay Press podcast.
…White’s first sale there was Riot at Newport.
White also discusses his piece on the beatnik riot of Washington Square, Balladeers and Billy Clubs, and the general scene around Greenwich Village and what it was like trying to make a living as a jazz critic in the early 1960s.
“My eyes started to burn. We were on the fringe of a cloud of tear gas that the police had laid down in the center of Newport, where all these kids were “rioting.” When we drove up to Boston, around midnight, there were roadblocks. Police were letting people out, but they weren’t letting anybody in. It was like that.”
This dark fantasy features so much for Shadow and Bone fans to love: an intricate, Slavic-inspired world; a divine young girl tasked with saving her kingdom; an alluring boywith a terrible secret; and a weary prince unsure of his identity off the battlefield. Set amid a centuries-long war between Kalyazin, a devout polytheistic country where only a select few can access the gods’ magic, and Tranavia, a country that cast out the gods and is ruled by ruthless blood mages, Wicked Saints is a seductively brutal tale about power, faith, and agency. It’s also metal as hell, with creatively incorporated elements of cosmic horror. The series’ extensive lore adds a wonderful sense of history to this story, and it features an epic enemies-to-lovers romance that will be sure to resonate with any Darkling fans.
(7) RASCH OBIT. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] In sad news, the Brazilian born (East) German science fiction author Carlos Rasch died on January 7, 2021, aged 88. His death only became known in the German SFF community lately, similar to what happened when Charles Saunders died.
Here is Carlos Rasch’s English-language Wikipedia page updated with his death date: Carlos Rasch.
…At the age of six, he moved with his parents from Brazil to Germany. In 1951 he started working as a reporter for the GDR’s Allgemeiner Deutscher Nachrichtendienst. It was during his days as a reporter that he started writing literature. In 1965 he became a full-time writer. In addition to writing novels, he penned science-fiction short stories and radio dramas as well co-authoring the unproduced thirteen-part GDR television series Raumlotsen. There followed a period in which he was out of favor with the ruling powers and earned his keep through pick-up jobs and writing under pseudonyms. By the mid-80s, he was once again able to publish. From 1990 until he retired in 1997, he worked for the Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung in Potsdam.
I got some of Carlos Rasch’s novels on packages from my East German great-aunt, because “you like space books”. They were fun adventure SF about ancient astronauts and the like. After the fall of the wall, Rasch worked as a journalist, but his SF writing career never really took off again.
Daniel Kaminsky, a security researcher known for his discovery of a fundamental flaw in the fabric of the internet, died on Friday at his home in San Francisco. He was 42.
His aunt, Dr. Toby Maurer, said the cause was diabetes ketoacidosis, a serious diabetic condition that led to his frequent hospitalization in recent years.
In 2008, Mr. Kaminsky was widely hailed as a latter-day, digital Paul Revere after he found a serious flaw in the internet’s basic plumbing that could allow skilled coders to take over websites, siphon off bank credentials or even shut down the internet. Mr. Kaminsky alerted the Department of Homeland Security, executives at Microsoft and Cisco, and other internet security experts to the problem and helped spearhead a patch….
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
April 27, 1963 — On this day in 1963, The Day of the Triffids premiered in the USA. It was produced by George Pitcher and Philip Yordan, as directed by Steve Sekely. It’s rather loosely based on the 1951 novel of the same name by John Wyndham (who was toastmaster at Loncon 1) as scripted by Bernard Gordon and Philip Yordan. It starred Howard Keel, Nicole Maurey, Janette Scott, Kieron Moore and Mervyn Johns. Critics who were familiar with the novel expressed their distaste for the film. It currently has a fifty-one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. Yes, it’s in the public domain, so you can watch it here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 27, 1901 — Frank Belknap Long. John Hertz says that he should be singled out for the “To Follow Knowledge” novelette, lovingly discussed here. I only add as John didn’t note it, that Long received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1994.) (CE)
Born April 27, 1920 — Doris Baumgardt. Well-known and loved fan, illustrator and writer under the name of Leslie Perri. She was a member of the Futurians, and a founding member of FAPA. She was also a member of the CPASF and the Science Fictioneers. She was one of five members of the Futurians allowed into the first World Science Fiction Convention by Sam Moskowitz with the other four were Isaac Asimov, David Kyle, Jack Robinson and Richard Wilson. She wrote three pieces of short fiction that were published in the Forties and Fifties; she contributed artwork to fanzines. (Died 1970.) (CE)
Born April 27, 1920 – Edwin Morgan. Scottish poet and translator. First Glasgow Poet Laureate. First Scottish Nat’l Poet (The Scots Makar). Two SF-chess short stories. Many poems for us. See e.g. collections The Second Life, From Glasgow to Saturn, Star Gate, Sonnets from Scotland. (Died 2010) [JH]
Born April 27, 1922 — Jack Klugman. He was in an amazing four Twilight Zone episodes (“A Passage for Trumpet “, “A Game of Pool, “Death Ship” and “ In Praise of Pip” plus one-offs on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Outer Limits. Does Around the World in Eighty Days count as genre adjacent? He was in the miniseries. (Died 2012.) (CE)
Born April 27, 1936 – John Burningham. Author and illustrator. Two Greenaway Medals. Boston Globe – Horn Book Award. Maschler Award. Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (German youth-literature prize). Five dozen books, some ours. Here is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Here is Come away from the water, Shirley. Here is an ed’n of The Wind in the Willows (showing different illustrations on slipcover and jacket). Here is an interior from Borka (a goose with no feathers; second from right). (Died 2019) [JH]
Born April 27, 1957 — Rachel Caine. She had two series, the Weather Warden series which is most excellent and the superb Great Library series. I can’t speak to the Morganville Vampires series as I don’t do vampires really. And yes, I know she’s got a number of other series, far more than can be detailed here. (Died 2020.) (CE)
Born April 27, 1958 – Caroline Spector, age 63. Three novels, a dozen shorter stories; games; two years Associate Editor at Amazing. She is a Wild Card and has nine stories there. Also plays bass. [JH]
Born April 27, 1963 — Russell T. Davies, 58. Responsible for the 2005 revival on BBC One of Doctor Who. (A Whovian since the very beginning, he thinks “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” has the best dialogue in the entire series, an opinion I concur with.) Of course he’s also responsible for Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures as well. (Need I note that the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot was his idea?) Oh, and a few years back, he produced A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (CE)
Born April 27, 1969 – Dame Darcey Bussell, age 52. Principal dancer of the Royal Ballet at 20. Judged Strictly Come Dancing on British television. President of the Royal Academy of Dance. Two honorary doctorates. Kennedy Center Gold Medal. Arlan Award. Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. For us, a score of novels, half a dozen shorter stories (with, she says, ghostwriters) about magic shoes that turn girls into ballerinas. [JH]
Born April 27, 1970 – Emmanuel Gorinstein, age 51. A dozen covers. Here is The Rest of the Robots (only eight stories in this ed’n). Here is The Caves of Steel. Here is Ender’s Shadow. [JH]
Born April 27, 1977 – Jedidiah Berry, age 44. One novel (The New Yorker said it was like Wes Anderson adapting Kafka), ten shorter stories. “The Family Arcana” was published as a Poker deck. Went to Bard, has taught there. Co-edited an issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. Interactive fiction here. [JH]
Born April 27, 1986 — Jenna Coleman, 35. Clara Oswald, Companion to the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors. She remains the longest serving companion since the series was revived. Genre wise, she was also Connie in Captain America: The First Avenger, and did voice work on the animated reboot of Thunderbirds Are Go. And yes, she showed up in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot which deserves to be annotated. (CE)
(12) ALL ABOARD! They’ve got a full house at the International Space Station.
(13) GROOT TAKES ROOT. Disney Imagineers are developing a free-roaming robotic actor, and the prototype has been decked out as Groot.
Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development is developing a small-scale, free-roaming robotic actor that can take on the role of our similarly-sized Disney characters. Its tightly integrated design provides over 50 degrees of freedom in a compact platform that can walk, gesture, and emote in style. Using custom authoring tools that combine whole-body motion planning and traditional character animation, artists can quickly bring robotic characters to life with expressive motions and interactive behaviors. There are no immediate plans for use in Disney theme parks; however, a prototype in the form of Groot is being used to test unique traits, gaits and capabilities.
An artist turns to his android muse for help when trying to sell his newest paintings, but events take a dark and disturbing turn when the android learns what has inspired the work.
(15) STARTING OUT SUPER. Can you stand this much wholesomeness? Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten on Kartoon Channel.
From the genius mind of the late Stan Lee comes the exciting new animated show for preschoolers, Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten. The school day at Superhero Kindergarten is a lot like that at any other kindergarten…except these six extraordinary students have a secret… They are superheroes! Rather than powers derived from a radioactive spider bite or gamma rays, these special kids’ powers come from common kindergarten items like white glue, putty, building blocks and yes, even farts (yuck!) And thankfully, they have Arnold Armstrong (AKA Captain Fantastic, the greatest superhero to ever live!) as their teacher (voiced by Arnold Schwarzenegger). Superhero Kindergarten brings the very best superhero storytelling to a new generation of preschoolers with action, comedy and heart. Embedded in each episode is a valuable life-lesson about health, exercise, nutrition and anti-bullying!
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Outriders” on YouTube, Fandom Games says the game is a “goofy sci-fi romp” that features the four elements: “earth, fire, space-time, and guns!” (Bonus feature: Gilbert and Sullivan parodies!)
[Thanks to Rob Thornton, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Daniel Dern, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]
The San Diego Convention Center hosted about 135,000 visitors two years ago for Comic-Con, the four-day celebration of comic books and pop culture.
…But even when state restrictions lift, experts acknowledge, it may be a year or more before California convention centers host the kind of mega-crowds that flocked to Comic-Con, NAMM and E3 in past years.
“We anticipate that shows will be smaller starting off and getting back up to speed hopefully next year,” said Ellen Schwartz, general manager of the Los Angeles Convention Center. “As we get into the last quarter of this calendar year and start the new year, we’re hopeful that the business will come back to closer to where it was before the pandemic.”
Among the reasons for the smaller events: State officials say COVID-19 protocols for large-scale indoor events will still require testing or vaccination verifications, which could exclude some would-be attendees. The state has yet to release details of those requirements.
Also, surveys show that many business travelers still don’t feel safe meeting face to face indoors with thousands of strangers. Some elements of future events are likely to be conducted via streaming video, accommodating virus-cautious attendees who want to stay home.
Rachel “Kiko” Guntermann, a professional costume maker who previously attended five or six conventions a year, including Comic-Con, said she would not feel safe returning to a large convention even though she has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Conventions were a center of my life for a while, and now the idea of being in a vendor hall with that many people makes me want to dry heave,” she said….
(2) FRANKENSTAMP AND FRIENDS. A set of Classic Science Fiction stamps will be issued by Great Britain’s Royal Mail on April 15. Preorders are being taken now.
A collection of six Special Stamps celebrating the imagination and artistic legacy of classic science fiction.
The issue coincides with the 75th anniversary of the death of HG Wells and the 70th anniversary of the publication of The Day of the Triffids.
Each stamp features a unique interpretation by a different artist illustrating a seminal work by a classic British science fiction author
Two First Class, two £1.70 and two £2.55 stamps presented as three horizontal se-tenant pairs.
A. T. Greenblatt’s short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Uncanny, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld, Fireside, Lightspeed, and other magazines. She won the 2019 Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “Give the Family My Love,” and is also on the current Nebula Awards ballot for her novelette “Burn or The Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super.” She was also a Nebula finalist for 2018. She has also been a Theodore Sturgeon Award finalist as well as a Parsec Award finalist. She is a graduate of the Viable Paradise and Clarion West workshops, and has been an editorial assistant at the flash fiction magazines Every Day Fiction and Flash Fiction Online.
We discussed the writing workshop-induced panic which caused her to begin writing her latest Nebula Award-nominated story, how the Viable Paradise workshop helped kick her writing up a notch, why she prefers Batman to Superman, the importance of revisions, critique groups, and community, what’s to be learned from rereading one’s older work, why she’s a total pantser, her love of Roald Dahl, something she wishes she’d known earlier about the endings of stories, how much of writing is being able to keep secrets and not explode, and much more.
(4) 2021 SFPA POETRY CONTEST AND JUDGE ANNOUNCED. The 2021 Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) Speculative Poetry Contest will be open for entries from June 1 through August 31, with Sheree Renée Thomas serving as guest judge of the contest. Full guidelines here.
Sheree Renée Thomas is an award-winning fiction writer, poet, and editor. Her work is inspired by myth and folklore, natural science and Mississippi Delta conjure. Nine Bar Blues: Stories from an Ancient Future (Third Man Books) is her first all prose collection. She is also the author of two multigenre/hybrid collections, Sleeping Under the Tree of LIfe and Shotgun Lullabies (Aqueduct Press) and edited the World Fantasy-winning groundbreaking black speculative fiction Dark Matter anthologies (Hachette/Grand Central).
Sheree is the associate editor of the historic Black arts literary journal, Obsidian: Literature & the Arts in the African Diaspora and editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
The 2021 SFPA Speculative Poetry Contest is open to all poets, including non-SFPA-members. Prizes will be awarded for best unpublished poem in three categories: Dwarf (poems 1–10 lines [prose poems 0–100 words]); Short (11–49 lines [prose poems 101–499 words]); Long (50 lines and more [prose 500 words and up]). Line count does not include title or stanza breaks. All sub-genres of speculative poetry allowed in any form.
Prizes in each category (Dwarf, Short, Long) will be $150 First Prize, $75 Second Prize, $25 Third Prize. Publication on the SFPA website for first through third places. Winners will be announced and posted on the site October 1.
Wrath James White is a former World Class Heavyweight Kickboxer, a professional Kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts trainer, distance runner, performance artist, and former street brawler, who is now known for creating some of the most disturbing works of fiction in print. His books include The Resurrectionist, Succulent Prey, and The Teratologist with Edward Lee.
(6) PLUCKED OFF THE SLUSHPILE. [Item by rcade.] Though many novelists would tell the story of how they first became published as a heroic triumph of talent and perseverance over rejection and adversity, the science fiction author Stephen Palmer credits something else entirely in a new interview with SFFWorld: “Interview with Stephen Palmer”.
My route to publication was the one too few people talk about – pure chance. Random luck is a far larger player in getting published than most people realize, partly because writers don’t want to believe they have little or no agency in their own success, and partly because the odds against success are so huge nobody wants to face them. I was plucked off the slush pile because I sent in the right novel at the right time. Tim Holman remembered it when he and Colin Murray were seeking new British writers, and he contacted me. But it could have been so different. In December 1993 me and my then wife were about to move house, and for reasons too unpleasant to detail here we weren’t going to leave a forwarding address. A few days before we departed a letter popped through the letterbox. It was from Tim Holman, writing back to me a full year after I’d sent him an extract of Memory Seed, telling me he wanted to read more. If I’d moved a week earlier I might not be an author now…
Palmer’s debut novel Memory Seed is being republished by Infinity Plus. He got the rights back from Orbit for that book and Glass nine years ago but the original files were lost. He bought copies, removed the pages and did the OCR scanning himself.
This has been one of the longest running legal battles in anime and I never thought I would see it resolved in my lifetime….
As to the details of what this agreement entails, this is what the official press statement has to say:
“Tokyo based BIGWEST CO.,LTD. and Los Angeles based Harmony Gold U.S.A. announced an agreement regarding the worldwide rights for the legendary Macross and Robotech franchises. This expansive agreement signed by both companies on March 1, 2021, ends two decades of disagreements and will allow Bigwest and Harmony Gold to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential of both the Macross and Robotech franchises worldwide. The landmark agreement immediately permits worldwide distribution of most of the Macross films and television sequels worldwide, and also confirms that Bigwest will not oppose the Japanese release of an anticipated upcoming live-action Robotech film. The agreement also recognizes Harmony Gold’s longstanding exclusive license with Tatsunoko for the use of the 41 Macross characters and mecha in the Robotech television series and related merchandise throughout the world excluding Japan. Moving forward, both parties will cooperate on distribution regarding future Macross and Robotech projects for the benefit of both franchises.”
French police say they are building a case against an international gang of toy thieves specialising in stealing Lego – and they have warned specialist shops and even parents to be aware of a global trade in the bricks.
The alert comes after officers arrested three people – a woman and two men – in the process of stealing boxes of Lego from a toy shop in Yvelines, outside Paris, last June. Under questioning, the suspects, all from Poland, reportedly admitted they were part of a team specialising in stealing Lego sought by collectors.
“The Lego community isn’t just made up of children,” one investigator told Le Parisien newspaper. “There are numerous adults who play with it; there are swaps and sales on the internet. We’ve also had people complaining their homes have been broken into and Lego stolen.”
Van Ijken cited a Cafe Corner Lego set that cost €150 when it was released to shops in 2007 selling in its original box for €2,500 last year.
Lego looting appears to be a global business, according to reports in the US, Canada and Australia, where numerous thefts have been reported over the last five years. In 2005, San Diego police arrested a group of women found to have €200,000 worth of Lego.
(9) THE UNKINDEST CUT. [Item by rcade.] The acclaimed weird fiction author Jeff VanderMeer is sickened by the actions of one of his new neighbors in Tallahassee, Florida:
Someone bought a house a few streets down and just cut down 30 mature pine trees — in the spring. I wonder if they know there’s little they could do in their lives to make up for the wildlife they just slaughtered. I know we’ll be getting survivors in the yard for weeks to come.
I’m planting two sycamores and some river birch, mayhaw next week and then also seeking out some of the pine saplings to protect them. We have 8 mature pines in the yard and not a damn one is getting cut down. …
Developers are trying to eat this city alive and we have, purportedly 55% canopy, although I imagine it’s a lower percentage after the predation of the past few years.
A Florida law enacted in 2019 made it much harder for cities and counties to stop property owners from removing trees. Tallahassee and the surrounding county have 78 miles of roads shaded by oak, hickory, sweet gum and pine trees and the city’s tree canopy coverage is among the largest in the U.S.
[From the Introduction] A scroll through Jeff VanderMeer’s Twitter account yields all manner of birds, flowers, trees, bird feeders, backyard wildlife, and the occasional portrait of his housecat, Neo. By and large, it seems such joyous, benevolent content that it’s surprising it comes from the same hands as one of the most subversive, experimental, apocalyptic, and politically daring fiction writers at work in America today.
…Another of his passions involves his ongoing project of “rewilding” his half-acre yard on the edge of Tallahassee. In order to combat natural-habitat destruction, VanderMeer has reintroduced native plants and trees to encourage the return of local wildlife. The fruits of VanderMeer’s tweets spring directly from the myriad animals, insects, organisms, and flowering flora that have returned to his homegrown micro nature-preserve. (“Right now, during migration season,” he reports, “we have about 300 yellow-rumped warblers in the yard and another 400 pine siskins, along with ruby-crowned kinglets, Baltimore orioles, orange-crowned warblers, hermit thrushes, cedar waxwings, etc.”) Will VanderMeer save our planet? Can it even be saved at this point? These are the real mysteries of our era….
MACHADO: It’s a bit like watching this pandemic unfold. We’re botching it all up, and you can’t help but feel like it doesn’t have to be this way. Do you think you’re a cynic about wildlife and the climate crisis?
VANDERMEER: I think that fixing the climate crisis should be more ingrained in our discussions and it’s not. Even in fiction, I see a lot of green-tech solutions that are totally divorced from actually dealing with what’s going on in the landscape. The other day I saw that Elon Musk had gone from chastising the oil industry to being like, “We need to mine for our SpaceX platform so that we have energy for our rockets.” Those are the kinds of things that get to me. One reason I push so hard for wildlife and for habitat is that I just don’t think we can make it through without them. We can’t just green-tech our way into some kind of solution. We have to change how we actually interact. And I do think we can all make small changes in how we do things that can really help us. In that way, I’m not cynical. People ask about hope all the time, which in a very absurdist way cracks me up because there’s always this question of, “Is it too late?” And it’s like,
“Well, what are you going to do if it’s too late? You really have no choice but to try to do the best things possible to get out of this.” Next cheery question!
We received some truly incredible stories from 60 different countries this season.
Make sure to save the date for May 22 if you want to experience exciting new sci-fi stories, chat with competition participants from around the world, and hear our celebrity guest readers!
(12) HUMMEL OBIT. The Washington Post has an obituary for Joye Hummel by Harrison Smith. Hummel was hired by William Moulton Marston as a secretary and then went on to write Wonder Woman scripts until 1947. Historians credit her as being the first woman to write scripts for Wonder Woman. She died April 5. “Joye Hummel, first woman hired to write Wonder Woman comics, dies at 97”.
In March 1944, shortly before Joye Hummel graduated from the Katharine Gibbs secretarial school in Manhattan, she was invited to meet with one of her instructors, a charismatic psychologist who had been impressed by her essays on a take-home test.
Over tea at the Harvard Club, professor William Moulton Marston offered her a job — not in the classroom or psych lab, but in the office of his 43rd Street art studio. He wanted Ms. Hummel to help him write scripts for Wonder Woman, the Amazonian superhero he had created three years earlier and endowed with a magic lasso, indestructible bracelets, an eye-catching red bustier and a feminist sensibility.Ms. Hummel, then 19, had never read Wonder Woman; she had never even read a comic book. But Marston needed an assistant. His character, brought to life on the page by artist H.G. Peter, was appearing in four comic books and was about to star in a syndicated newspaper strip. He was looking for someone young who could write slang and who, perhaps most importantly, shared his philosophy and vision for the character. “You understand that I want women to feel they have the right to go out, to study, to find something they love to do and get out in the world and do it,” Ms. Hummel recalled his saying. She was “astonished and delighted” by the job offer, according to historian Jill Lepore’s book, “The Secret History of Wonder Woman,” and soon began writing for the comic. “I always did have a big imagination,” she said.
Ms. Hummel worked as a Wonder Woman ghostwriter for the next three years, long before any woman was publicly credited as a writer for the series. As invisible to readers as Wonder Woman’s transparent jet plane, she was increasingly recognized after Lepore interviewed her in 2014. Four years later, she received the Bill Finger Award, given to overlooked or underappreciated comic book writers at the Eisner Awards….
(13) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
April 9, 1955 — On this date in 1955, Science Fiction Theatre first aired in syndication. It was produced by Ivan Tors and Maurice Ziv. It ran for seventy eight episodes over two years and was hosted by Truman Bradley who was the announcer for Red Skelton’s program. The first episode “Beyond” had the story of a test pilot travelling at much faster than the speed of sound who bails out and tells his superiors that another craft was about to collide with his. It starred William Lundigan, Ellen Drew and Bruce Bennett. You can watch it here.
(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 9, 1906 – Victor Vasarely. Grandfather of op art, like this, and this (Supernovae, 1961). Here is The Space Merchants using some of VV’s Folklore Planetario for the cover. (Died 1997) [JH]
Born April 9, 1911 — George O. Smith. His early prolific writings on Astounding Science Fiction in the 1940s ended when Campbell’s wife left him for Smith whom she married. Later stories were on Thrilling Wonder Stories, Galaxy, Super Science Stories and Fantastic to name but four such outlets. He was given First Fandom Hall of Fame Award just before he passed on. Interestingly his novels are available from the usual digital sources but his short stories are not. (Died 1981.) (CE)
Born April 9, 1913 — George F. Lowther. He was writer, producer, director in the earliest days of radio and television. He wrote scripts for both Captain Video and His Video Rangers and Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. You can see “The Birth of The Galaxy” which he scripted for the first show here as it is in the public domain. (Died 1975.) (CE)
Born April 9, 1915 – Charles Burbee. One of our best fanwriters, of the brilliant but biting type (if you like that, as well as admiring it, you can change but to and). Fanzine, Burblings; co-edited Shangri L’Affaires awhile. Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon 27. You can see The Incompleat Burbee here (part 1) and here (part 2). Burbeeisms still circulate, like AKICIF (All Knowledge Is Contained In Fanzines) – sometimes without his mocking tone, a neglect he would have mocked. (Died 1996) [JH]
Born April 9, 1937 – Barrington Bayley. A dozen novels, fourscore shorter stories, some under other names (“Michael Barrington” for work with Michael Moorcock). Two collections. Interviewed in Interzone, Vector; on the cover of V223 for a Mark Greener article. (Died 2008) [JH]
Born April 9, 1937 — Marty Krofft, 84. Along with Sid, his brother, are a Canadian sibling team of television creators and puppeteers. Through Sid & Marty Krofft Pictures, they have made numerous series including the superb H.R. Pufnstuf which I still remember fondly all these years later not to forget Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Land of the Lost and Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. (CE)
Born April 9, 1949 — Stephen Hickman, 72. Illustrator who has done over three hundred and fifty genre covers such as Manly Wade Wellman’s John the Balladeer and Nancy Springer’s Rowan Hood, Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest. His most widely known effort is his space fantasy postage stamps done for the U.S. Postal Service which won a Hugo for Best Original Art Work at ConAndian in 1994. (CE)
Born April 9, 1954 — Dennis Quaid, 67. I’m reasonably sure that he first genre role was in Dreamscape as Alex Gardner followed immediately by the superb role of Willis Davidge in Enemy Mine followed by completing a trifecta with Innerspace and the character of Lt. Tuck Pendleton. And then there’s the sweet film of Dragonheart and him as Bowen. Anyone hear of The Day After Tomorrow in which he was Jack Hall? I hadn’t a clue about it. (CE)
Born April 9, 1972 — Neve McIntosh, 49. During time of the Eleventh Doctor, She plays Alaya and Restac, two Silurian reptilian sisters who have been disturbed under the earth, one captured by humans and the other demanding vengeance. Her second appearance on Doctor Who is Madame Vastra in “A Good Man Goes to War”. Also a Silurian, she’s a Victorian crime fighter. She’s back in the 2012 Christmas special, and in the episodes “The Crimson Horror” and “The Name of the Doctor”. She’s Madame Vastra, who along with her wife, Jenny Flint, and Strax, a former Sontaran warrior, who together form a private investigator team. Big Finish gave them their own line of audio adventures. (CE)
Born April 9, 1980 – Jill Hathaway, age 41. Two novels. Teaches high-school English, bless her. Has read Cat’s Cradle, Tender Is the Night, Native Son. [JH]
Born April 9, 1981 – Vincent Chong, age 40. Two hundred twenty covers, sixty interiors. Artbook Altered Visions. Here is Shine.Here is the Gollancz ed’n of Dangerous Visions. Here is G’s Left Hand of Darkness.Here is Ghost Story. [JH]
Born April 9, 1990 – Megan Bannen, age 31. Two novels, one just last year. “An avid coffee drinker and mediocre ukulele player…. in her spare time, she collects graduate degrees from Kansas colleges and universities.” Or so she says. [JH]
Grant Snider’s “Hopscotch” is not genre. You might like it anyway – we did!
(16) PRINCE PHILIP RIP. The Cartoon Museum in London noted the passing of its Patron HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh has been Patron of The Cartoon Museum in London for over 20 years. In 1949 he and the young Princess Elizabeth attended the Royal Society of Arts and listened to a speech by the great British cartoonist H. M. Bateman, calling for a national museum of cartoons.
He has given the museum continuous support and with his great love of humour he admired the genre of British cartooning. In 1994 he opened the museum’s exhibition on Giles, who drew for the Daily and Sunday Express from 1943 – 1991. The Duke of Edinburgh owned several Giles cartoons in his private collection; Giles was his favourite cartoonist – he admired his social observations, gentle humour, and depictions of the Royal Family.
The monarchy have been a persistent (and easy) target of cartoonists and caricaturists for 300 years, from Gillray and Beerbohm to Scarfe, Bell, Rowson and Peter Brookes – but the Duke of Edinburgh could always see the funny side in any situation, and took humorous depictions of himself in his stride. In 2002 Prince Philip opened an exhibition of cartoons on the Kings and Queens (300 Years of Cartoons about the Monarchy), and in 2006 he opened London’s first museum of cartoons.
The Cartoon Museum, its Trustees, Staff, and the cartooning community are saddened to hear Prince Philip has passed away, and send their deepest condolences to H. M. The Queen and his family.
Star Trek is bolding coming back to the big screen… two years from now. Paramount Pictures confirmed Friday that a brand-new Trek film will hit theaters on June 8, 2023. While the project is currently untitled and plot details are non-existent, we suspect this is the movie currently being written by The Walking Dead alum, Kalinda Vasquez.
…Written and illustrated by the Locke & Key creative team of writer Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez, with the blessing of The Sandman co-creator Neil Gaiman, Hell and Gone is set in 1927, during the opening sequence of The Sandman in which Morpheus, the King of Dreams, is held captive by the human sorcerer Roderick Burgess. Mary Locke, an ancestor of the Locke children who populate the main Locke & Key story, reaches out to Burgess to see if his occult society can help her save her brother’s soul from hell….
GABRIEL RODRIGUEZ: I started buying Sandman from the newspaper stand near my house once they started selling the Spanish edition here in Chile. They started publishing from the eighth issue, in which they introduce Death, and from then on they did the entire run. I remember reading that very first issue and was immediately hooked by the storytelling. And then when we get into the Doll’s House story line, I immediately realized it was going to be something really big and cool, and I ended up collecting the entire series. At the time I was reading Sandman, I was just daydreaming about eventually making a comic book myself, but living in such a small country where we don’t have a huge publishing industry, especially back then, it felt impossible.
(19) UNSOUND EFFECTS. “2021 Oscar-Nominated Short: “Yes-People'” on YouTube is an Icelandic animated film, directed by Gisli Darri Hallsdottir, that is an nominee for best short animated film, and is presented by The New Yorker.
“Yes-People” follows several Icelanders as they navigate minor daily conflicts—on their way to work, or to school, or while grocery shopping.
…The gastroliths were found in Jurassic-aged mudstones in a rock formation called the Morisson. A rainbow of pinks and reds, the Morisson formation brims with dinosaur fossils, including those of sauropods, such as Barosaurus and Diplodocus, as well as meat-eaters such as Allosaurus.
But the rocks, which are similar to gastroliths dug up elsewhere, were found on their own without any dinosaur remnants. To get a clue as to how they had ended up in modern-day Wyoming, the team crushed the rocks to retrieve and date the zircon crystals contained inside, a bit like studying ancient fingerprints.
“What we found was that the zircon ages inside these gastroliths have distinct age spectra that matched what the ages were in the rocks in southern Wisconsin,” said Malone, now a doctoral student studying geology at the University of Texas at Austin. “We used that to hypothesize that these rocks were ingested somewhere in southern Wisconsin and then transported to Wyoming in the belly of a dinosaur.
“There hasn’t really been a study like this before that suggests long-distance dinosaur migration using this technique, so it was a really exciting moment for us.”
A fossil of a skunk-like mammal that lived during the age of dinosaurs has been discovered in Chilean Patagonia, adding further proof to recent evidence that mammals roamed that part of South America a lot earlier than previously thought.
A part of the creature’s fossilized jawbone with five teeth attached were discovered close to the famous Torres del Paine national park.
Christened Orretherium tzen, meaning ‘Beast of Five Teeth’ in an amalgam of Greek and a local indigenous language, the animal is thought to have lived between 72 and 74 million years ago during the Upper Cretaceous period, at the end of the Mesozoic era, and been a herbivore…
(22) JUST IN TIME. The sixth season of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow premieres Sunday, May 2.
The Legends continue their new mission to protect the timeline from temporal aberrations – unusual changes to history that spawn potentially catastrophic consequences. When Nate, the grandson of J.S.A. member Commander Steel, unexpectedly finds himself with powers, he must overcome his own insecurities and find the hero within himself. Ultimately, the Legends will clash with foes both past and present, to save the world from a mysterious new threat.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael J. Walsh, Frank Olynyk, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, rcade, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, James Bacon, Scott Edelman, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Greg Hullender, with an assist from rcade.]
…When aggregate storytelling is done unofficially, we call it “transformative work,” of which fan fiction is a major part.
An especially intriguing example of modern-day aggregate storytelling — from both an official and unofficial standpoint — is the TV show Supernatural, about two monster-hunting brothers and the found-family they make along the way. The show has enjoyed a voracious fanbase, which kept the series alive for fifteen seasons and spawned thousands and thousands of fan works (as of this writing, there are 243,690 entries related to Supernatural on Archive of Our Own alone. This is to say nothing of Tumblr, Twitter, etc.).
Starting with the season four episode “The Monster at the End of this Book,” the show began engaging with fan reactions through self-referential stories. Sam and Dean literally read fan fiction about themselves on screen, and the characters used vernacular created by the Supernatural fanbase throughout.
The fans didn’t simply consume the story. They changed the way the story was told. It would be difficult to argue that the author(s) should be considered as good as dead in terms of critical consideration when the author(s) were still actively creating in tandem with the audience’s reception…
Escape Pod is pleased to announce a new special project for 2021: Black Future Month, a month-long celebration of Black voices in science fiction, guest edited by Brent Lambert of FIYAH Magazine. Episodes will air in the month of October and feature two original works of short fiction as well as two reprints.
NOTE: For this special event, we are only accepting submission from authors of the African diaspora and the African continent. This is an intersectional definition of Blackness, and we strongly encourage submissions from women, members of the LGBTQIA community, and members from other underrepresented communities within the African diaspora.
Pay rate, format, and content will follow Escape Pod’s regular guidelines, with two exceptions:
Manuscripts do not need to be anonymized for this submissions portal.
Stories must be between 1,500 – 5,000 words.
(3) SFF POSTAGE STAMPS COMING. The UK’s Royal Mail has announced that on March 16 the Legend of King Arthur stamps will be released. This set will be followed by an April 15 issue celebrating classic science fiction. As of today, no images from either set have been posted. Norvic Philatelics speculates what might be commemorated in the Classic Science Fiction set:
This issue consists of pairs of 1st class, £1.70 and £2.55 stamps – with the usual additions of a presentation pack first day cover, and postcards.
Some research reveals that this is the 75th anniversary of the death of the author H G Wells, and the 70th anniversary of the publication of John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids”, so it seems likely that one of Wells’ books will feature on one stamp and Wyndham’s will appear on another.
(4) GOODBYE, MR. CHIP. The trailer dropped for HBO Max’s Made for Love. It’s sf, right? At least for another few minutes.
The classic story of boy meets girl, boy implants high-tech surveillance chip in girl’s brain… Featuring Cristin Milioti, Ray Romano, Noma Dumezweni, and Billy Magnussen, Made for Love is coming to HBO Max this April.
…. Before I dive deep into Willis’s construction of parallel characters, I want to speak more generally about the potential for parallels — echoes — inside a book, when that book takes place in multiple timelines. Many books do take place in more than one timeline, of course, whether or not they involve time travel! And there’s so much you can do with that kind of structure. As you can imagine, life in Oxfordshire in 1348 is dramatically different from life in Oxford in 2054. But Willis weaves so many parallels into these two stories, big and small things, connecting them deftly, and showing us that some things never really change. I suppose the most obvious parallel in this particular book is the rise of disease. The less obvious is some of the fallout that follows the rise of disease, no matter the era: denial; fanaticism; racism and other prejudices; isolationism; depression and despair; depletion of supplies (yes, they are running out of toilet paper in 2054). She also sets these timelines in the same physical location, the Oxfords and Oxfordshires of 1348 and 2054 — the same towns, the same churches. Some of the physical objects from 1348 still exist in 2054. She sets both stories at Christmas, and we see that some of the traditions are the same. She also weaves the most beautiful web between timelines using bells, bellringers, and the significance of the sound of bells tolling.
Simply by creating two timelines, then establishing that some objects, structures, and activities are the same and that some human behaviors are the same across the timelines, she can go on and tell two divergent plots, yet create echoes between them. These echoes give the book an internal resonance….
Lisa and I have been getting increasingly antsy and wanting to get out of the house and go see things, but with no sign of a vaccine being available for us mere under-65s, we wanted something that would be away from other people and was close enough to be able to get back home the same day. So we decided to go see the site of the atomic test in our backyard….
I know it’s unlikely that anyone else will come visit this spot, but if somehow your travels take you across “The Loneliest Road,” you might consider a relatively short side trip to one of the few atomic bomb test sites you can visit on your own.
(7) FREE HWA ONLINE PANEL. The Horror Writers Association will present a free Zoom webinar, “Skeleton Hour 7: Writing Horror in a Post-Covid World” on Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 6 p.m. Pacific. Panelists will include: Richard Thomas (moderator), Sarah Langan, Usman T. Malik, Josh Malerman, A.C. Wise, and Lucy A. Snyder. Register here.
The Krakau found an Earth that has been overrun by the bestial survivors of a planetary plague. Still, better half a glass than an empty glass. The benevolent aliens retrieved suitable candidates from the raving hordes and applied suitable cognitive corrective measures. Lo and behold, humans were transformed from wandering monsters to trustworthy subordinates. Although perhaps not all that trustworthy. Humans are relegated to menial tasks.
Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos is in charge of Earth Mercenary Corps Ship Pufferfish’s Shipboard Hygiene and Sanitation team. Chief janitor, in other words. Not command crew. Except that an unexpected attack eliminates her Krakau commanders while most of Pufferfish’s humans revert into beasts. Mops has no choice but to take command of a ship neither she nor the remaining non-bestial humans know how to operate.
Tell, don’t show. Dump your information. Write in second person. Write in passive voice. Use adverbs. To heck with suspense. Rules mark what’s difficult, not what’s impossible. There’s a whole range of exciting storytelling possibilities beyond them. Not every story needs to be in second person, but when it’s the right voice for the right story, it can be magic. The right information dump, written perfectly, can become a dazzling gymnastic feat of beauty, fascination, or humor. “Break the Rules” will teach you inspirations and techniques for rowing upstream of common knowledge. You can break any rule–if you do it right.
Join award-winning speculative fiction writer Rachel Swirsky for a workshop in which she teaches you how and why to break the rules. Next class date: Sunday, April 4, 2021, 1:00-3:00 PM Pacific Time.
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
March 8, 1978 — The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was first broadcast forty-three years ago today on BBC Radio 4. It was written by Douglas Adams with some material in the first series provided by John Lloyd. It starred Simon Jones, Geoffrey McGivern, Mark Wing-Davey. Susan Sheridan and Stephen Moore. It was the only radio show ever to be nominated for a Hugo in the ‘Best Dramatic Presentation’ category finishing second that year to Superman at Seacon ‘79. It would spawn theater shows, novels, comic books, a TV series, a video game, and a feature film.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born March 8, 1859 — Kenneth Grahame. Author of The Wind in the Willows which it turns out has had seven film adaptations, not all under the name The Wind in the Willows. (Did you know A.A. Milne dramatized it for the stage as Toad of Toad Hall?) Oh, and he did write one other fantasy, The Reluctant Dragon which I’ve never heard of. Have any of y’all read it? (Died 1932.) (CE)
Born March 8, 1899 – Eric Linklater. The Wind on the Moon reached the Retro-Hugo ballot; it won the Carnegie Medal. Three more novels, nine shorter stories for us; two dozen novels all told, ten plays, three volumes of stories, two of poetry, three of memoirs, two dozen of essays & history. Served in both World Wars. Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. (Died 1974) [JH]
Born March 8, 1922 – John Burke. Co-edited The Satellite and Moonshine (not Len Moffatt’s fanzine, another one). A score of books including novelizations of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (okay, call it adjacent), fourscore shorter stories, for us; a hundred fifty novels all told. Correspondent of The Fantast, Zenith, and at the end Relapse, which I wish Sir Peter Weston hadn’t retitled from Prolapse, but what do I know? (Died 2011) [JH]
Born March 8, 1928 — Kate Wilhelm. Author of the Hugo–winning Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. She also won a Hugo for Best Related Book and a Locus Award for Best Nonfiction for Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. SFWA renamed their Solstice Award the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. She established the Clarion Workshop with her husband Damon Knight and writer Robin Scott Wilson. (Died 2018,) (CE)
Born March 8, 1932 – Jim Webbert, age 89. Among our better auctioneers – we raise money that way, few would pay what con memberships really cost. Collector of books, other art, model rockets. HO model railroader. Chemist. Three decades in the Army Reserve, often teaching. Often seen at LepreCon. Fan Guest of Honor at TusCon 1, CopperCon 9, Con/Fusion, Kubla Khan 20 (all with wife Doreen). [JH]
Born March 8, 1934 — Kurt Mahr. One of the first writers of the Perry Rhodan series, considered the largest SF series of the world. He also edited a Perry Rhodan magazine, wrote Perry Rhodan chapbooks and yes, wrote many, many short stories about Perry Rhodan. He did write several other SF series. Ok, what’s the appeal of Perry Rhodan? He runs through SF as a genre but I’ve not read anything concerning him. (Died 1993.) (CE)
Born March 8, 1939 — Peter Nicholls. Writer and editor. Creator and co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction with John Clute which won a Hugo twice. He won another Hugo for the Science Fiction Encyclopedia. His other publications were Science Fiction at Large, The Science in Science Fiction edited by Nicholls and written by him and David Langford, and Fantastic Cinema. He became the first Administrator of the United Kingdom based Science Fiction Foundation. He was editor of its journal, Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction, from 1974 to 1978. (Died 2018.) (CE)
Born March 8, 1973 – Daniel Griffo, age 48. Lives in La Plata (a Silver Age artist?), Argentina, with wife, son, and two pets named Indiana and Jones. I am not making this up. Comics, lettering, 3-dimensional activity books, My Visit to the Acupuncturist (I’m not; why shouldn’t there be a children’s book about that?), two about Dragon Masters – here’s one of them, Future of the Time Dragon. Website. [JH]
Born March 8, 1976 — Freddie Prinze Jr., 45. I’m fairly sure his first genre role was in Wing Commander as Lt. Christopher Blair followed by the animated Mass Effect: Paragon Lost in which he voiced Lieutenant James Vega. Speaking of animated endeavors, I’ve got him in Kim Possible: A Sitch In Time voicing Future Jim / Future Tim followed by being in all in all four seasons of the animated Star Wars Rebels as Kanan Jarrus. And that’s a series which I highly recommend as it may well be the best Star Wars fiction ever done. (CE)
Born March 8, 1978 – Samanta Schweblin, age 43. Another Argentine, this one living in Berlin, writing in Spanish. Two novels, two shorter stories for us; three collections. Casa de las Americas Award. Juan Rulfo Prize. Tigre Juan Award, Shirley Jackson Award for Distancia de rescate, in English Fever Dream. [JH]
(12) COMICS SECTION.
The Far Side reveals the tragic conclusion of a nursery rhyme.
(14) ON BOARD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the March 3 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber looks at the appeal of board games during the pandemic.
For those who fancy themselves not Victorian engineers or colonial settlers but fantasy warriors and space explorers, games such as Twilight Imperium and Terraforming Mars hold more appeal. You can learn the rules of most within an hour or two, but there are some more elaborate offerings such as dungeon crawler Gloomhaven, which weighs 10kg and currently sits at the top of the ratings on the authoritative site BoardGameGeek. Games have grown in beauty as well as sophistication–see Wingspan, with its 180 gorgeous bird illustrations and pleasing tokens in the shape of pastel-shaded eggs.
As the games themselves have become more desirable, board game cafes such as Draughts in London and Snakes and Lattes in Toronto have sprung up and help legitimise board gaming, At the same time, the internet has facilitated the discovery of new games and willing opponents, as well as enabling the rising trend of board game crowdfunding–Frosthaven, the followup to Gloomhaven, raised almost $13m on Kickstarter.”
After having endured the horrors of Oklahoma and Kentucky, I’ve decided that I should announce my mask policy. I’m not a head of state or a governor, I’m just a guy, so there is no way to enforce my preferences on the world— except, of course, by way of sarcasm and mockery.
Just remember that I’m the guy that came up with several rules for living, including Williams’ First Law: Assholes Always Advertise.
So here goes:
While there is very little scientific data about how effective mask use is in preventing COVID, the wearing of masks in public is (at the very least) a courtesy to others, particularly those most vulnerable to the disease.
So if you’re in public and not wearing a mask, I’m not going to assume that you’re a brave iconoclastic thinker challenging accepted dogma, I’m going to assume that you are a complete asshole. And not only are you an asshole, you’re advertising yourself as such.
…On the positive side, I love the concept of the alien spaceship disintegrating as it enters the solar system. I’m frankly fascinated by the backstory of that, which sadly, in episode one at least, the series shows no signs of exploring, versus the “what does each piece of debris do this week” storytelling. I liked the way the program began, with the tiny shard of debris transporting an unfortunate maid from high up in a hotel to her death in the dining room, without marring any of the ceilings or floors she falls through. Grabbed my attention!
But there was very little about the alien technology or curiosity on anyone’s part about the aliens themselves or what destroyed the ship. No discussion about whether the debris is actually some kind of invasion or what might happen next. No one here seems to care if there was an FTL drive to be had. I frankly wished this was a series about going to explore what’s left of the hulk in space, rather than these cut and dried, solved in an hour individual cases….
(17) A LITTLE LIST. At the Hugo Book Club Blog, Olav Rokne has compiled a list of “Screen adaptations of Hugo-shortlisted works”. There are 47 so far. (The list excludes Retro Hugo awards as well as all Graphic Novels and comic book adaptations.)
The scrutiny also prompted some public libraries to review their Dr. Seuss collections.
A group of librarians across Toronto Public Library’s system will evaluate the titles in question and issue recommendations, according to a spokeswoman.
“Occasionally, children’s books written some time ago are brought to our attention for review,” Ana-Maria Critchley said in an email.
“If the review determines there are racial and cultural representation concerns the committee will recommend to either withdraw the book from our library collections or move the book from children’s collections to another location, such as a reference collection for use by researchers.”
The Vancouver Public Library is also launching reviews of each of the six Dr. Seuss titles.
Scott Fraser, manager of marketing and communications, said this process is usually initiated by a request from a patron, but the library made an exception given the “extremely unusual” decision by a rights holder to suspend publication.
Copies of the books will remain on the shelves while the review is underway, Fraser said, and officials will then decide whether to keep a title in the collection, change its classification or remove it from the stacks.
Vancouver Public Library previously reviewed “If I Ran the Zoo” in 2014 in response to a complaint about stereotypical depictions of Asians. A caption in the book describes three characters as “helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant.”
The library decided to keep the book on the shelves, but stop reading it at storytime, and only promote it as an example of how cultural depictions have changed….
…Prior to this discovery, Zhang and his research group had been pondering the possible existence of space hurricanes for years. The team’s research focus lies in the interactions between the ionosphere, an atmospheric layer that extends some 50 to 600 miles above Earth’s surface, and the magnetosphere, the region shaped by our planet’s protective magnetic field. At the poles, these interactions generate the magical and dazzling auroras that are popularly known as the Northern and Southern Lights.
Tropical hurricanes are driven in part by the movements of heavy air masses that generate strong winds; Zhang and his colleagues suspected a similar mechanism might be at work in the outer space environment close to Earth. In the case of space hurricanes, the solar wind, a stream of charged particles that flows from the Sun, slams into Earth’s upper atmosphere and transfers its energy into the ionosphere, driving the cyclone formation.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “WandaVision Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that Marvel fans will be frustrated by the slow drip of revelations about how WandaVision connects to the MCU that they’ll become really frustrated by the phrase “Please Stand By.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]
The US Postal Service will issue 10 new character-inspired stamps featuring the droids of Star Wars as Lucasfilm celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
The first characters fans meet in the first Star Wars film are C-3PO and R2-D2 — and droids have continued to play pivotal roles throughout the series.
Representing more than four decades of innovation and storytelling, the droids featured in this pane of 20 stamps are IG-11, R2-D2, K-2SO, D-O, L3-37, BB-8, C-3PO, a GNK (or Gonk) power droid, 2-1B surgical droid and C1-10P, commonly known as “Chopper.”
The characters are shown against backgrounds representing settings of memorable adventures. The selvage features a passageway from the floating Cloud City above the planet Bespin, introduced in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
The USPS press release also says —
These set of droids are a nod to Lucasfilm’s, as well as its parent company, Disney’s, commitment to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning and the continued collaboration between “Star Wars: Force for Change” and global pre-K-12 nonprofit organization “FIRST” (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).
“Star Wars: Force for Change” and “FIRST” have joined forces to expand access to STEM learning to more young people around the world, and to help them envision a brighter, more inclusive future.
Greg Breeding was the designer of the stamps and pane. William Gicker was the art director.