(1) THE ROCKETS’ GREEN LIGHT. Early this morning in Los Angeles the last of two Space Shuttle Rocket Launch Motors made their way through Exposition Park to the California Science Center. Each is 116 feet long and around 12 feet in diameter.
“Go for Stack” is the complex process of moving and lifting each of the space shuttle components into place for Endeavour’s upcoming, awe-inspiring 20-story vertical display in the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, which is currently under construction. This technically challenging feat has never been done outside of a NASA facility.
(2) ROBIN REID GUESTS ON TOLKIEN PODCAST. Episode 16 of Queer Lodgings: A Tolkien Podcast is a “Queer Anthology Interview with Robin Reid, Chris Vaccaro, Steven Yandell”.
We have a special treat for you this month – Leah, Alicia, and Grace welcome not one… not two… but three guests! They are the editors of the forthcoming edited anthology ‘”There Are Many Paths to Tread”: Queer Approaches to Tolkien’s Middle-earth’ from McFarland (due to release in 2025), and each is a well-known Tolkien scholar in their own right – Robin Reid, Chris Vaccaro, and Steve Yandell. Join us as we discuss the landscape of Queer and Intersectional Tolkien studies, why they’re important, and what these important and fresh outlooks can contribute to Tolkien scholarship.
(3) MALINDA LO ON BOOK SUPPRESSION. “My Books Have Been Banned or Challenged in 16 States” says Malinda Lo, and in this thoroughly-researched post the author explores many ways that has been done.
In the last two years, my books have been banned, challenged, or restricted in 44 cases in 40 communities across 16 states. Last Night at the Telegraph Club receives the most attention, but Ash, Huntress, A Line in the Dark and A Scatter of Light have also been targeted by book banners. The book bans have increased over time, and in the last couple of months I’ve learned about a new one almost every week…
In the spreadsheet, I’ve recorded 44 cases in which my books were targeted by right-wing activists. Those cases include:
- Book bans, in which books are removed from school libraries and/or classrooms (either during an investigation of the challenge or completely);
- book challenges, in which a community member makes a complaint about a book to a school district or library (this may not lead to an outright ban);
- restrictions, in which a book is placed in a restricted section of the library or requires parental permission for access; and
- instances in which a book published as young adult was moved to the adult section of a library.
I have chosen to count more than straightforward book bans, and I include the challenges I have found even if the book is not ultimately banned, because I’m interested in tracking all the ways my books are targeted. This is a personal analysis of how book banning has affected my work, not a broader analysis of book bans in America….
Here’s an example of Lo’s detailed analysis:
…. When asked if they had read the entire book, the challenger wrote, “I read a summary and it told me everything I need to know.” What concerns them? “This book promoting a sexual agenda to young people.”
Since they didn’t read the book, you may be wondering where they found these summaries or sections that they object to. While I don’t know where these specific two challengers found their summaries, I suspect they may have used conservative book banning Facebook groups or websites like Book Looks (created by Florida-based Moms for Liberty) or Rated Books (affiliated with the Utah-based Laverna in the Library). I think that whoever made the entries about Telegraph Club for these websites has in fact read the book, or at least they have combed through it line by line hunting for excerpts that they believe prove their allegations of a book’s offensive nature….
(4) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [By Ersatz Culture.]
New Worldcon logo
2023 Chengdu has changed its logo just before the con.
Chinese-language article about the WSFS Business Meeting
The con posted an article to weixin.qq.com entitled (via Google Translate) “Everyone, please check the introduction of the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference Business Meeting!”. Most File 770 readers are likely to be already familiar with material about the WSFS Business Meeting – the article even has a section summarizing Robert’s Rules of Order – but there are a couple of interesting bits near the bottom of the page, as follows…
Who’s sponsoring the WorldCon? Some answers
The October 9th Scroll pointed out that the list of Chengdu Worldcon sponsors in the Business Meeting Agenda did not match announcements at a June Brand Conference. At the bottom of the page, there is what I believe is the first official confirmation of any sponsors on any of the Worldcon’s platforms. There are four levels or types of sponsor, the information I’ve been able to glean so far is:
“2023 Chengdu Worldcon Starseeker”
- China Telecom (the only sponsor confirmed at the aforementioned Brand Conference)
- ICBC – Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
“2023 Chengdu Worldcon Stargazer”
- Das Security – cybersecurity firm, apparently also known as DBAppSecurity, according to this article which states they were also a sponsor of the recent Asian Games alongside China Telecom and ICBC.
- Starry Dome – I assume that this is the same company as 上海瀚海星穹网络科技 / Shanghai Hanhai Xingqiong Network Technology, but I’m still a bit unclear what exactly they do; websites that provide company data mention both technology and marketing. This listing states (via Google Translate) that “Shanghai Hanhai Xingqiong Network Co., Ltd. was established in 2023. It is a technology company dedicated to brand management, game distribution, omni-channel operation and entertainment innovation. At the beginning of its establishment, the company determined that the derivative incubation of the “Wandering Earth” IP would be its main business direction, and it has actively explored and developed in this field.”
“2023 Chengdu Worldcon Specially Supporting Brands”
- 成都蜀都川菜产业投资发展有限公司 / Chengdu Shudu Sichuan Cuisine Industry Investment and Development Co., Ltd. is the sponsor I’m least clear about. They seem to be headquartered in the same Pidu district of Chengdu as the con.
- Infinite Lagrange is a space strategy video game, available in a number of languages and platforms.
- Trumpchi (aka GAC Motor in international markets) is a car company.
“2023 Chengdu Worldcon IP Cooperative Partner”
- Three-Body Universe is a name I’ve seen a few times, but I never looked into. Per a recent Reddit thread, “Three Body Universe is the Chinese company behind most Three Body Problem IP like the Zhang Beihai season of the Three Body Minecraft animation, the TBP animation, the radio drama, etc…”
Note that the above list(s) include neither of the organizations named as sponsors in the Business Meeting Agenda document.
(5) ON WORLDCON WEEKEND PUTIN WILL BE IN CHINA, BUT NOT CHENGDU. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Reuters News reports “China to host Belt and Road forum in Beijing Oct 17-18” on the same weekend as the Worldcon – and guess who will be there.
China will host its third Belt and Road Forum next week, its foreign ministry said on Wednesday, a President Xi Jinping signature event that President Vladimir Putin is due to attend on a rare trip abroad….
…Putin attended the two previous forums, in 2017 and 2019, and the Kremlin said in September he had accepted an invitation to the forum and for talks with Xi.
The Russian leader is not known to have gone abroad since the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for him in March over the deportation of children from Ukraine….
Overlaps Worldcon in time, but not in space by a few provinces and about 1800 km by road. It might inform someone’s decisions on when and where to sightsee.
(6) TOLKIEN SOCIETY SEMINAR. The Tolkien Society Online Seminar 2023 will be happening November 26, 2023 with the theme “Tolkien and Religion in the Twenty-First Century.” Complete information at the link, including a schedule of paper presentations.
… Although J.R.R. Tolkien deliberately excluded explicit religious references from his legendarium and rejected narrow allegorical readings of The Lord of the Rings, he made no secret of his devout Roman Catholicism and its importance to his sub-creative endeavor. From the creation myth of the “Ainulindalë” to the eucatastrophic destruction of the One Ring, Túrin Turambar’s doomed warrior courage to Frodo Baggins’s self-sacrificial humility, scholars have long examined the influence of Tolkien’s Christian faith and his abiding admiration for pre-Christian legends on the nature and history of Arda. Explorations of the legendarium from other religious perspectives or explicitly nonreligious perspectives have received less attention, however, as have studies of the reception of Tolkien’s work among (non)religious readers and communities….
(7) MYTHOPOEIC ONLINE EVENT. “Something Mighty Queer” is the theme of the Mythopoeic Society’s Online Midwinter Seminar 2024, to be held next year on February 17-18. The call for papers is at the link. The deadline to submit is November 30.
We invite submissions for an online conference that focuses on queerness in fantasy, science fiction, speculative fiction or other mythopoeic work. This can be queer representation within the work or engaging with mythopoeia through queer theory. “Queerness” is an intentionally ambiguous term, demonstrating the diversity of queer experiences, and the necessity of situating queerness as a liminal, complex paradigm. Queer theory is wider than the study of gender identity or sexuality, extending to taking positions against normativity and dominant modes of thought, and engaging with the indefinite….
(8) FIVE-YEAR MISSIONARY. In an NPR interview “Patrick Stewart says his time on ‘Star Trek’ felt like a ministry”.
… Martin: I talk to a lot of people about spirituality and about the value of spiritual communities, which I think are when people who have similar values gather together and have or seek transcendent experiences. And I think Star Trek, in all of its incarnations, represents that to a lot of fans. It is a spiritual world. They treat it with religious reverence. Have you encountered that? Do you get it?
Stewart: Yes. I see it very, very clearly and very strongly. It was about truth and fairness and honesty and respect for others, no matter who they were or what strange alien creature they looked like. That was immaterial. They were alive. And if they needed help, Jean Luc Picard and his crew, his team, were there to give it.
In a sense, we were ministers. And I have heard now so many times from individuals who have been honest enough and brave enough to tell me aspects of their life, of their health, of their mental health. And how it was all saved and improved by watching every week….
(9) SIGNATURE MYSTERY. [Item by Danny Sichel.] From the collection of the late Sylvain St-Pierre, Montreal fan, comes this autograph page from the souvenir program book for Nolacon II (Worldcon 1988). The top autograph is obviously from George Alec Effinger, but does anyone have any idea who the bottom one is from?
(10) MEMORY LANE.
2004 — [Written by Cat Eldridge.]
Charles de Lint’s Medicine Road which is where our Beginning is from has an interesting backstory, or at least the lead characters do. Now mind you, we won’t be meeting either of them in the Beginning. Well sort of we won’t.
There’s a minor spoiler here. Very minor.
There’s a number of stories that he did that are set within a place, a very rural Appalachian setting, roughly now though the year is never known to the reader. A children book, A Circle of Cats which Lis will be reviewing is where these stories began followed by The Cats of Tanglewood Forest which she has already reviewed here.
There’s a single story in this set of stories “Somewhere in My Mind There Is a Painting Box”. And now we get to the YA Seven Wild Sisters where Laurel and Bess, musical twins, younger here than they will be in the adult Medicine Road where they are a folk singing duo, will get involved in the fey world of the region. Both of these will also be reviewed by her.
And here’s our Beginning…
CHANGING DOG AND CORN HAIR
One night, not so long ago, Changing Dog and Corn Hair met up in Sedona, Arizona, to have a talk about an old bargain they’d made with Coyote Woman. It’s funny, thinking of the two of them together like that; I can imagine them doing pretty much anything except getting along. Most times they’ll argue the colour of the moon, or the taste of water, if they can’t find something better to disagree on. There’s nothing much they ever seem to settle on, except that the other’s wrong.
But this night Corn Hair wasn’t aiming for an argument. She had herself a camp there by Oak Creek, on the south bank where the water runs below Cathedral Rock. It wasn’t much, just her bedroll laid out in the sand under the sycamores, with her pack doubling as a pillow. Close by, she’d built a small fire on which she was boiling water in a tin coffee pot, the bottom blackened from all its years of use. She ground some coffee beans using a flat rock and another the size of her fist for a mortar and pestle, scooping them into the now-boiling water when they were ground to her satisfaction. By the time Changing Dog came ambling down from the red rock scars skirting the solitary butte that towered above the creek, the coffee was thick and black, ready to drink.
Changing Dog nodded hello and sat cross-legged near the fire. He was a rangy, copper-skinned man with a narrow face and long, chestnut hair that streaked to a dark tan at his temples and was kept tied back with a thin strip of leather. You hardly ever saw him dressing up. That night he was wearing a white T-shirt and jeans, dusty tooled-leather cowboy boots and an old brown leather jacket going thin at the elbows. He wasn’t a homely man and he wasn’t particularly handsome, but he had these eyes that would grab anybody’s attention, especially a woman’s. They were a vivid cornflower blue that looked violet in the right light, and there was always a promise in them–not that he’d necessarily deliver, but that whatever might come, it would at least be interesting.
He accepted the tin coffee mug that Corn Hair handed him and took an appreciative sip. Setting the mug in the sand, he pulled a tobacco pouch from his pocket and rolled them each a cigarette, lighting them with a twig from the fire. He left one hanging from his lips, offering the other to Corn Hair.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born October 11, 1949 — Sharman DiVono, 74. She was the primary writer of the Star Trek comic strip from a year in the early Eighties. She’s written a number of other strips such as Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, The Man from Planet X and Tarzan. She has written for three animated series — G.I. Joe, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures and Star Wars: Droids. She’s written one genre novel, Blood Moon.
- Born October 11, 1960 — Nicola Bryant, 63. Well known for her role as Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown, a companion to both the Fifth and Sixth Doctors. She also worked in “The Two Doctors” story so she appeared with the Second Doctor as well. Of course she’s done Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas. Like so many, many genre performers, she shows up in the video Trek fan fiction playing Lana in Star Trek Continues.
- Born October 11, 1964 — Michael J. Nelson, 59. Best known for his work on Mystery Science Theater. He was the head writer of the series for most of the show’s original eleven-year run, and spent half of that time as the on-air host. Bad genre films were a favorite target of him and his companions. Not that they don’t deserve it.
- Born October 11, 1965 — Sean Patrick Flanery, 58. I really do think that his best work was on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and the films that followed. It certainly wasn’t as Bobby Dagen in Saw: The Final Chapter, a film best forgotten. (It gets a forty-one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, much better than I expected.) He appeared as Jake Greyman in Demon Hunter, another low budget horror film, and as John in The Evil Within. I see a pattern…
- Born October 11, 1972 — Nir Yaniv, 51. Author, editor, musician, and filmmaker. He founded a webzine for the Israeli Society for Science Fiction & Fantasy. Currently, he’s the chief editor of Chalomot Be’aspamia, Israel’s only professionally printed genre magazine. His short fiction has appeared in Weird Tales, Apex Magazine and The Best of World SF. He co-wrote The Tel Aviv Dossier with Lavie Tidhar.
- Born October 11, 1972 — Claudia Black, 51. Best known for being Aeryn Sun in Farscape, arguably the best SF video series ever done, Vala Mal Doran in Stargate SG-1 and Sharon “Shazza” Montgomery in Pitch Black. She also had a recurring role as Dahlia in The Originals and starred as Dr. Sabine Lommers in The CW’s Containment series.
- Born October 11, 1976 — Emily Deschanel, 47. Temperance “Bones” Brennan in Bones which crossed over with Sleepy Hollow twice (she visited the latter once) and she had a bit part on Spider-Man 2. More notably she was Pam Asbury in Stephen King’s Rose Red series. Actually the forensic science on Bones is genre, isn’t it?
(12) COMICS SECTION.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Yes, this is exactly what will happen to chatbots.
- Tom Gauld understands a coded message.
(13) PRODIGY COMES IN FOR SAFE LANDING. So says The Hollywood Reporter: “’Star Trek: Prodigy’ Moves to Netflix After Paramount+ Cancellation”.
Netflix has scooped up both the previously aired first season and has committed to airing the sophomore run once that completes production. Season one will stream later this year, with the second batch due in 2024.
The Paramount Global-backed Paramount+ axed Prodigy in June when it became the latest streamer to take advantage of tax write-offs.
Prodigy, though, was a particular surprise given the series is produced in-house by CBS Studios, where Star Trek captain Alex Kurtzman is based with a nine-figure overall deal….
(14) DISNEY SOLVES FOR X. At CBR.com,“Disney Celebrates the X-Men and Avengers’ 60th Anniversary With What If…? Variant Covers”.
The Disney What If…? variant cover series will be a monthly program adorning select issues of Amazing Spider-Man. There are twelve covers, and they will be released monthly throughout 2024. They will feature Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and other classic Disney characters in milestone moments from Avengers and X-Men history. Marvel revealed the first three covers, one recreating Avengers #1 with Peg Leg Pete as Loki, another with Mickey and friends as the original X-Men, and the third showing the iconic Disney characters assembling as the Avengers, even giving Goofy Captain America‘s shield and Pluto Thor’s hammer.
(15) 2 ARMS, 2 ARMS! The Heritage Auctions Blog promises “This Piece Will Hook You – T-1000 Arms from Terminator 2”.
When it comes to explosive sequels, few in the industry can make a more bombastic blockbusting entry into a franchise like James Cameron. Having taken audiences on a pulse pounding tour de force with his follow up to the critically acclaimed Alien and made a splash with the cutting-edge special effects technologies which brought to life his memorable creations in The Abyss, one would think that Cameron would be hard pressed to continue his upward trajectory as the king of Blockbusters. Then, on July 3rd, 1991, it happened. Like a nuclear blast from his harrowing future vision of a robotic apocalypse, he unleashed yet another pioneering action film with Terminator 2 . A sequel that not only raised the stakes presented in the original film but proved to be an even bigger critical success. Among the memorable characters and sequences, a particular liquid metal menace played by a then unknown actor, Robert Patrick, captivated audiences and the vast pop-culture consciousness, the T-100.
Flash forward 32 years, and I find myself typing this entry while sitting in a large warehouse. Don’t worry. It might be a little imposing, but a fallout shelter it is not. The world hasn’t been taken over by artificial intelligence (yet), and as a cataloger working on Heritage Auctions’ various upcoming auctions, I continually find myself in a movie memorabilia mecha. And though I’ve held pieces from iconic films spanning the history of Hollywood, very few pieces have made my heart race the way these prop T-1000 hooked arms have….
(16) COULD THIS KSR SCENARIO REALLY WORK? [Item by John A Arkansawyer.] A speculative article from the BBC on climate change uses Kim Stanley Robinson’s Ministry for the Future as a hook. Beware spoilers. “To avert climate disaster, what if one rogue nation dimmed the Sun?” at BBC Future.
…In Robinson’s imagined scenario, India’s rogue deployment of solar geo-engineering turns out to be broadly benign, and buys time to scale-up emissions reductions. But in the real-world, the idea that such a deus ex machina technology could ever be safely deployed remains highly speculative, with many risks and unknowns.
So if one rogue nation did decide to dim the Sun for real, what environmental and geopolitical consequences might unfurl? And is the safe deployment of such a technology even a conceivable goal? …
(17) PLAYING CHICKEN IN SPACE – AND LOSING. [Item by Steven French.] When worlds collide! (It’s kinda pretty…) “Afterglow of cataclysmic collision between two planets seen for first time” reports the Guardian. Photos at the link.
… After a detailed analysis of the observations, the astronomers concluded that the blast of infrared radiation came from a hot new object or “synestia” created by the collision of two planets nearly as large as Neptune. Based on the infrared readings, the vast spinning object had a temperature of more than 700C for about three years. It will eventually cool and form a new planet around the star.
According to details published in Nature, the star began to dim about 2.5 years after the afterglow began as a massive cloud of fine impact debris drifted across the face of the star.
“It’s the first time we’ve seen the afterglow from such an event,” said Simon Lock, another co-lead author at the University of Bristol. “We’ve seen debris and discs before, but we have never seen the afterglow of the planetary body that’s produced.”…
(18) BARBIE HALLOWEEN. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Part of an Utah neighborhood is transforming itself into Barbieland for Halloween. Each homeowner has picked a different theme related to the Barbie movie, Halloween+Barbie, etc. There’s the Barbie Dream House, a Barbie graveyard, Disco Barbie, and many more. Most of the houses are using pink floodlights, making the effect much more vivid at night. “Utah residents transform neighborhood into Barbieland for Halloween” at USA Today.
And the pink passion this season isn’t only in Utah. For instance, an Atlanta-area homeowner has decorated her front yard as the Barbie Scream House.
If you know of more examples of this trend, feel free to add links in the comments.
[Thanks to Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Steven French, Daniel Dern, Bonnie McDaniel, John A Arkansawyer, Lise Andreasen, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]