The nation’s largest publisher and several bestselling authors, including novelists John Green and Jodi Picoult, are part of a lawsuit filed Thursday challenging Iowa’s new law that bans public school libraries and classrooms from having practically any book that depicts sexual activity….
…The law also bans books containing references to sexual orientation and gender identity for students through sixth grade, which the lawsuit says is a violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.
The lawsuit seeks a court order declaring the law unconstitutional, Novack said, adding that government can’t violate free speech rights “by pretending that school grounds are constitutional no-fly zones.”
The lawsuit does not seek monetary damages….
…Asked for comment on the lawsuit, Reynold’s office referred to her statement issued earlier this week in response to a separate lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal on behalf of several families challenging the entirety of the new law. In that statement, Reynolds defended the law as “protecting children from pornography and sexually explicit content.”
Plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit took issue with that characterization, noting that among books that have been banned in Iowa schools are such critically acclaimed and classic works as “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker, “Native Son” by Richard Wright and “1984” by George Orwell, showing that under the law, “no great American novel can survive,” [said Dan Novack, an attorney for and vice president of Penguin Random House]….
(3) DAWN OF CYBERPUNK. The Mirrorshades anthology edited by Bruce Sterling (1986) is now available as a free download (or can be read at the link).
(4) IMAGINARY PAPERS. ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination has published the sixteenth issue of Imaginary Papers, a quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination.
In this issue, David K. Seitz writes about “Sanctuary,” a 1993 episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with timely insights about the abandonment and exclusion of refugees; Katherine Buse and Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal write about the 2019 video game Hypnospace Outlaw and its alternate-history vision of the 1990s internet; and we share two recent academic publications by our colleague Malka Older, the sociologist and science fiction author.
The full archive of Imaginary Papers is available to read here.
How did you get involved with the science fiction community?
…On July 23, 2020, I founded the sci-fi fanzine also called Zero Gravity. My hope is that Zero Gravity can let zero gravity sci-fi fans have access to more information, and that they can use this publication to combine the power of Chinese fans. (China has not had an official fanzine, so sci-fi fans did not have a centralized platform for expression.) Now those scattered, but high-quality, sci-fi review articles can be seen by more people. In 2023, we started contacting foreign writers and translating their introductions to the history of sci-fi in their own country as well!
(6) LUKYANENKO’S DECEMBER 1ST EVENTS IN CHENGDU. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] The Weibo account of publisher 8 Light Minutes posted this covering the Friday morning event where Lukyanenko visited a university. I’m far from certain about this, but I think the guy sitting third from left in the photo of the audience is Chen Shi, aka Raistlin Chen, one of the Worldcon co-chairs.
The afternoon visit to the SF Museum was covered in this Weibo post, which seems to come from the media relations account for the Pidu district of Chengdu, and is a short video with minimal information. If my recollection of the layout of the museum is correct, the opening shot shows that the big “Hugo Award” rocket mounted on the wall has now been removed.
(7) DOUBLING DOWN ON DOUBLING UP. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] A comment on Blue Sky led to this amusing news piece about a legal motion to impose Microsoft Word standards (28 points) over regular standards (24 points) when double-spacing in legal documents.
Reminded me of the Formatting Foofaraws that regularly erupted in fanzine fandom and still do in writing circles. But this particular one used sixty-six pages of argument and citations in its motion, which feels excessive, even if it was a fannish foofaraw.
…The brief backs up the vagaries over time point by noting that Microsoft even expanded its spacing before the 2007 version release and that the company’s “double spacing” is not even consistent across fonts.
There’s not been a historical account of typography this thrilling since that Helvetica movie!
Not content to leave well enough alone, plaintiffs pile on with policy arguments for their interpretation of double spacing….
(8) READY FOR YOUR CLOSE-UP? In this 1966 commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee, viewers were enlisted to interact with Boris Karloff, delivering the subtitled lines. (Why are you trembling? Maybe you’ve already had too much caffeine…)
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.
[Written by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 1, 1942 — John Crowley, 81. What a splendiferous Little, Big is! Full of quiet charms that invite second and third readings. It won a Mythoepoeic Award and World Fantasy Award, and was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon IV. It also picked up Balrog, BSFA and Nebula nominations as well. Oh, and it deservedly makes David Pringle’s Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels.
For a treat, you should listen to Crowley read it. He takes great pleasure in doing so. It’s available on Audible.
Next up is the Ægypt cycle as it’s called that, huh, Harold Bloom declared part of American canon of books. I thought they were good but unlike Little, Big, I’ll freely admit that I’ve not gone back to them since the first reading of them.
And there’s Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land in which the author in loving detail envisions the novel the Lord Byron never penned but very well might have. An extraordinary work indeed.
Finally my last novel that I like by him is Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr. As Crowley says on his stellar site, “Dar Oakley, the main character and storyteller in the novel, is really a Crow.” It’s hard to bring off making a narrator that it’s animal feel like an animal but he does so it here. Fascinating tale indeed which also has a telling narrated by him. Crowley being his crow. Cool indeed. It won a Mythopoeic Award and garnered a World Fantasy Award nomination as well.
I’ve not read enough short fiction by him to reach a firm opinion of him as a teller of tales at that length, so your opinion please as to which collection I should delve into. The newest one is And Go Like This: Stories. Will that do?
China is detaining 2 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other ethnic populations in concentration camps in the East Turkestan region. Meanwhile, the regime seeks to avoid accountability and improve its image through reputation laundering, such as taking advantage of voting irregularities to become the host of the prestigious Winter 2022 Olympics. Or to buy Worldcon….
People spend one-third of their lives asleep. What if employees could work during that time … in their dreams? Prophetic, a venture-backed startup founded earlier this year, wants to help workers do just that. Using a headpiece the company calls the “Halo,” Prophetic says consumers can induce a lucid dream state, which occurs when the person having a dream is aware they are sleeping. The goal is to give people control over their dreams, so they can use that time productively. A CEO could practice for an upcoming board meeting, an athlete could run through plays, a web designer could create new templates — “the limiting factor is your imagination,” founder and CEO Eric Wollberg told Fortune.
VD: As a parent, I have to ask what makes a stuffed rabbit so captivating to a child? There have been numerous children’s stories featuring a young rabbit and my daughter has about 50 stuffed rabbits of her own that she can’t bear to part with. Why do these creatures mean so much to children and lend themselves so well to children’s storytelling?
TB: Rabbits are wonderful, unthreatening animals with brilliantly expressive faces and ears. Maybe that’s what draws children to them. But we think what really captivates children is the imaginative idea that their toy rabbits, and other toys they may possess, are real, that they can come alive, and that toys feel emotions and understand the children themselves. Children feel the imaginative world is “real” and they know their toys understand that.
Boldly Going Nowhere, a proposed comedy science fiction series based on Star Trek ultimately went nowhere, but the original pilot episode can now be seen below. The series came from the showrunners, stars and co-creators of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, and Rob McElhenney, with Adam Stein, who pitched the idea to the trio. Stein was a writer’s assistant on the series at the time…
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Steven French, John King Tarpinian, Orange Mike Lowrey, Joey Eschrich, Ersatz Culture, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Not sure if he’s at the Worldcon – the post says it came from Sichuan province, so quite possibly he was – but Best Short Story finalist Lu Ban posted these photos to Weibo. Rather more stylish than your typical author attire, I think?
Three Short Story finalists appear on TV show
Lu Ban also reposted this 11 minute video clip. It’s a fair bit beyond my Chinese language skills, but it seems to be him and fellow finalists Jiang Bo and Ren Qing appearing on a Friday night TV show, possibly aimed at teenagers or young adults judging by the shots of the audience.
Once you get past the opening comedy (?) skit, at around 01:07 the speaker references the 81st Worldcon and the three Hugo Award finalists just before they come on stage. They then talk about the SFnal topics shown on the board on the left of the stage.
Two more somewhat mysterious announcements
I wasn’t able to watch the closing ceremony due to a failure to connect to the stream (again), but Japanese author Taiyo Fujii posted on Mastodon this image of the “Establishment of Chengdu Worldcon Brand Promotion Center”. I’m puzzled why you would need a centre to promote the brand of a con that’s just finished. Google search for that English text didn’t find anything, and I couldn’t make out all the hanzi due to the firework graphics on the screen to be able to search for the Chinese name. It looks like Ben Yalow and other Western VIPs were on stage for this announcement, so I’m sure they’ll all be able to tell us what exactly it’s about.
According to the relevant person in charge, the alliance aims to empower the development of Chinese science fiction, create a high-quality science fiction ecosystem, and jointly promote the development and innovation of China’s science fiction cause and science fiction industry through the alliance platform and linking all-round resources of government, industry, academia and research.
So far, the alliance has received support from more than 70 domestic and foreign university societies such as Stanford University, University College London, Oxford University, Paris-Sorbonne University, Peking University, Renmin University of China, Zhejiang University, Harbin Institute of Technology, Fudan University, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
At first glance, I don’t see any crossover with the names associated with the Tianwen Program, but I think there are members of the Chengdu concom named as being involved in both of these organizations.
Zimozi also said that, as the former president of the Zhejiang University SF society, no-one had contacted him or that association prior to this announcement yesterday afternoon, so the nature of the support the named universities are providing is unclear to say the least.
I’ve not had as much time today to trawl Bilibili, Xiaohongshu or Weibo as I’d have liked, but here are a few:
As far as I could tell, there’s nothing on YouTube as yet, but these Bilibili videos appear to be official releases of the Hugo Ceremony, as the uploader is listed as “Hugo X”: English, Chinese.
Chengdu Plus posted a bilingual compilation of a bilingual compilation of clips summarizing the events of the con. Much of the footage has been seen before, but there’s footage of what I assume is the Hugo party, with some recognizable faces.
A three-and-a-half-minute clip video of a Chinese fan wandering around the con – nothing earth-shattering, but gives a better idea of what the con was like for regular attendees than the glitzy official promos, none of which show the lengthy snaking line of metal barriers that open this video.
(2) HUGO, GIRL! ACCEPTS. The Hugo, Girl! team posted video of their Best Fancast Hugo acceptance remarks here. However, the tweet is locked except for those who are approved to follow the account.
(3) BLACK TO THE FUTURE. An Afro-Futurist celebration of outstanding Black artists, Black To The Future, a space for visionary imaginings to thrive, launches October 24. See the schedule of events and exhibitions at the link.
BTTF begins as British Black History month ends; launching late October and running until US Black History Month in February 2024, to accompany the British Library’s upcoming major exhibition: Fantasy: Realms of Imagination.
Curated, founded and directed by Irenosen Okojie MBE, in collaboration with the Royal Society of Literature and the British Library.
FANTASY: REALMS OF IMAGINATION
BTTF will accompany the upcoming major British Library exhibition – Fantasy: Realms of Imagination – one of the largest of its kind – showing everything from the original Beowulf and Alice in Wonderland manuscripts to a wide range of contemporary writing and everything in between – plus maps, interactives, sound fan perspectives and so on.
The display will ask why we need Fantasy, or how it reflects the social issues of the day, and where it is going, with an advisory panel including Neil Gaiman.
… Raise the subject of Gumby during a casual conversation. Okay, that’s not always easy to do—so bring a toy Gumby with you to various events.
Then watch how people react.
Gumby will evoke powerful feelings—both positive and negative—in everybody he encounters. Some people will grab your Gumby and caress him lovingly. Others will sneer and mock. But nobody will be indifferent.
This is simply not the case with other figures of children’s TV. Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Mister Rogers, all three Stooges—these we may like or dislike, tolerate or dismiss, but none reaches as deeply into our psyches as Gumby.
The key to solving the mystery of the Gumby Syndrome (I’m going to become renowned for naming it thus) can be found in the writings of French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Towards the end of Sartre’s monumental work Being and Nothingness, he reflects that viscous substance have the rare effect of both attracting us and disgusting us at the same time.
Mud, glue, and all the various types of goo and stickum which we encounter day to day are often things we openly despise, but with an undercurrent of fascination….
From certain corners of Commercial Street in East London, a busy thoroughfare that runs through the heart of where Jack the Ripper killed five women more than a century ago, the city can look like it did in 1888, with narrow alleys snaking their way between Victorian-era buildings.
Go down the street, though, and the views turn unmistakably modern: skyscrapers, glassy office buildings lit up with workers eating dinner at their desks, a Peloton store and expensive apartments.
The changed landscape and tall buildings do not deter hundreds of people on most nights from taking guided tours that follow the killer’s footsteps through the neighborhood known as Whitechapel. And much like the city around them, the stories they’re told in 2023 about those murders can feel at turns modern, and unchanged since 1888….
… These days, the Ripper economy is still flourishing in Whitechapel. There’s a barbershop called Jack the Clipper. A fish and chips restaurant called Jack the Chipper. And, night after night, the tours, most of which cost around $20 and run up to two hours. Interest is especially high during late summer and fall, with mild, dark nights and Halloween around the corner….
(6) ART OF GENRE INTEREST IN HUNTSVILLE. [Item by Marc Criley.] An art exhibition integrating sculpture and AR (Augmented Reality) has opened at the Huntsville Museum of Art in Huntsville, Alabama.
In Reforestation of the Imagination, artists Ginny Ruffner and Grant Kirkpatrick “[use] technology to overlay digital information onto sculptural objects, [portraying] two disparate environments.”
Ginny Ruffner: Reforestation of the Imagination combines traditional sculpture with augmented reality (AR). By using technology to overlay digital information onto sculptural objects, two disparate environments are portrayed. The setting is an apocalyptic landscape far in the future. The initial environment consists of five landmasses, which support the glass stumps. Except for the painted shelf mushrooms and tree rings on the stumps and logs, the scene is colorless. The landmasses surround a sixth rocky outcropping that features a large fiberglass stump. The central stump sprouts beautifully grotesque bronze, then glass appendages. This improbable growth has survived the devastation to create a new botany.
“Other than the central stump, the landscape appears at first glance to be barren. Yet, upon viewing the tree rings aided by AR technology a second environment is revealed. Plants appear (both fruit and flowers) which have evolved from existing flora. They have developed dramatic appendages and the skills necessary to adapt and flourish in this radically different environment. From accessing nutrients in ways that symbiotically improve their surrounding conditions, to cultivating protections from new threats, these adaptations are unexpected, beautiful, and optimistic. This is nature reimagining itself. The imagination cannot be exterminated. It just recreates itself.” —Ginny Ruffner
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 22, 1919 — Doris Lessing. The five novels collectively known as Canopus in Argos: Archives certainly established her genre creds. I personally would add her Cat Tales, three volumes of stories and nonfiction (Particularly Cats, Rufus the Survivor and The Old Age of El Magnifico) to your reading list. A winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature – and a Worldcon guest of honor in 1987. (Died 2013.)
Born October 22, 1927 — Lee Jacobs. Fan who lived in LA in the last years of his life. I’m mentioning him here because he’s credited with the word filk which was his entirely unintentional creation. He typoed folk in a contribution to the Spectator Amateur Press Society in the 1950s: “The Influence of Science Fiction on Modern American Filk Music.” Yes I know that its first documented intentional use was by Karen Anderson in Die Zeitschrift für vollständigen Unsinn (The Journal for Utter Nonsense) #774 (June 1953), for a song written by her husband Poul. (Died 1968.)
Born October 22, 1939 — Suzy McKee Charnas. I’d say The Holdfast Chronicles are her best work to date. “Boobs” won the Best Story Hugo at ConFiction. It was written over a forty year period as the first novel, Walk to the End of the World was published in 1974, and the last novel, The Conqueror’s Child was published in 1999. Her Beauty and the Opéra or The Phantom Beast novelette was a nominee at LoneStarCon 2. She’s also won the Otherwise, Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature, Nebula, Gaylactic Spectrum, and Lambda Literary Awards. Any of you read her Sorcery Hall series? (Died 2023.)
Born October 22, 1943 — Jim Baen. Editor of Galaxy and If for three years. He edited the sf line at Ace ad then Tor before starting his own namesake company in 1983. In late 1999, he started Webscriptions, now called Baen Ebooks, which is considered to be the first profitable e-book service. He also was the editor of Destinies and New Destinies which I remember fondly. He was nominated for Best Editor Hugo five times between 1975 and 1981 but never won. At Nippon 2007, he’d be nominated for Best Editor, Long Form. (Died 2006.)
Born October 22, 1954 — Graham Joyce.Selecting his best novel is a futile exercise as everything is fantastically good but I’ll single out Some Kind of Fairy Tale and The Tooth Fairy as the ones I found the most interesting reads. No Hugos not even a short list nomination but he’s won quite a few BFAs and one WFA for The Facts of Life novel. (Died 2015.)
Born October 22, 1956 — Gretchen Roper, 67. Long-time member of fandom, filker and con-runner. She co-founded Dodeka Records with her husband, Bill Roper. She received with her husband the Pegasus Award for Best Original Humorous Song, “My Husband The Filker”, and was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame.
Peanuts, a 1954 reprint, shows Charlie Brown sharing a genre idea.
(9) KEEP DRAWING THE SKIES. “When Étienne Trouvelot turned his attention from insects to astronomy, the result was celestial magic,” says the Smithsonian Air and Space Quarterly: “An Artist Sketches the Heavens”. A gallery of art is at the link.
In the chilly early morning hours of November 14, 1868, Étienne Léopold Trouvelot gazed out from an upstairs window in his home at 27 Myrtle Street in Medford, Massachusetts. Trouvelot stationed himself at the window from midnight to 5 am so that he could watch a steady stream of meteors visible in the clear black sky. No doubt thrilled by the astronomical display, he immortalized his observations in a pastel illustration titled November Meteors….
Women writers are taking the Chinese science fiction scene by storm, with their increasing prominence one of the genre’s most noticeable trends, according to participants at a major convention in Chengdu this week.
Worldcon — the world’s oldest and most influential sci-fi gathering — is taking place in China for the first time, drawing hordes of eager local fans of all genders.
China can still be a relatively socially conservative country, and under President Xi Jinping the space for the expression of feminism has shrunk even further over the last decade.
But in science fiction, the number of women authors has rocketed in recent years, said Regina Kanyu Wang, a writer and editor nominated for two prestigious Hugo Awards at Worldcon this year.
More women are now realising “it’s not only this nerdy, geeky style of science fiction that can be published, or that can be regarded as science fiction”, she said.
“Liu Cixin (the author of the world-famous Three-Body series) is great, we all love him. But there’s so much more outside of the Liu Cixin style.”
The good news is that once women do get their start as writers, they do not tend to feel they are treated unequally, according to Wang.
The market and readers are demanding new perspectives, she said.
“Nowadays, a lot of Chinese female sci-fi writers pay attention to the problems women face that men might not feel,” Zhou Danxue, a literature scholar at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, told AFP.
“The writers can use their own methods to reflect uniquely female feelings.”
In the past two years, there have been four anthologies published that were made up of only women or non-binary authors, Wang said, a major breakthrough….
Countless off-the-shelf office chairs, lounge chairs or car seats appeared in Star Trek productions. Here is a list of the models that we found, among them many design classics. Currently identified: 163.
In 2001, a group of Japanese scientists made a startling discovery at a rubbish dump. In trenches packed with dirt and waste, they found a slimy film of bacteria that had been happily chewing through plastic bottles, toys and other bric-a-brac. As they broke down the trash, the bacteria harvested the carbon in the plastic for energy, which they used to grow, move and divide into even more plastic-hungry bacteria. Even if not in quite the hand-to-mouth-to-stomach way we normally understand it, the bacteria were eating the plastic.
The scientists were led by Kohei Oda, a professor at the Kyoto Institute of Technology. His team was looking for substances that could soften synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, which is made from the same kind of plastic used in most beverage bottles. Oda is a microbiologist, and he believes that whatever scientific problem one faces, microbes have probably already worked out a solution. “I say to people, watch this part of nature very carefully. It often has very good ideas,” Oda told me recently.
What Oda and his colleagues found in that rubbish dump had never been seen before. They had hoped to discover some micro-organism that had evolved a simple way to attack the surface of plastic. But these bacteria were doing much more than that – they appeared to be breaking down plastic fully and processing it into basic nutrients. From our vantage point, hyperaware of the scale of plastic pollution, the potential of this discovery seems obvious. But back in 2001 – still three years before the term “microplastic” even came into use – it was “not considered a topic of great interest”, Oda said. The preliminary papers on the bacteria his team put together were never published….
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. It’s time again to practice your imitation of the “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and The Crypt-Kickers.
[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Todd Mason, Brick Barrientos, Marc Criley, Kathy Sullivan, Lise Andreasen, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]
Only 18 programme items will be streamed — not including the online only events that were listed in the previously-published schedule – and several of them run in parallel to each other. Around half look to be very businessy and corporate, and none other than the Hugo Ceremony strike me as fannish in nature.
09:30-12:00 The 81st Worldcon Sci-fi Design Summit
13:00-15:30 “Future is Here”: Multi-dimensional Exploration of a New Pattern of User Experience in the Sci-fi Industry
13:00-15:30 Forum on the Development of Intellectual Property Rights and SF Industry
20:00-21:20 Opening Ceremony
09:30-10:30 Sci-fi Narratives of Advanced Spaceflight
14:30-17:00 “Grasping the Future”: Annual Selection of the Outstanding Performers in Sci-fi Fields
09:30-12:00 First Industry Development Promotion Conference
13:00-15:30 Sci-Fi x Space – Connecting the Past and Future of Humanity and the Universe
16:00-18:30 AIGC: A Creative New World
09:30-12:00 Science Fiction VS Science Facts
09:30-12:00 Science Fiction Film & TV VFX Summit
09:30-12:00 Songs of Space Engineers: A Discussion of Engineering Science Fiction
13:00-14:00 How to Interpret the “Symbiosis Era”: A Conversation with Robert Sawyer
14:00-17:00 Three-Body Global Fan Event
19:00-21:00 Hugo Award Ceremony
09:30-10:30 Launch Event of the Top Ten Future Tech in Science Fiction
09:30-12:00 Believe in the Future: A Conversation Between Rising Sci-fi Stars of Chengdu and Sci-fi Giants
18:00-19:00 Closing Ceremony
The online functionality is accessed via a videogamey 3D environment with avatars, which seems designed for use on a phone or tablet rather than a PC, and seems to have insufficient functionality to justify its existence.
Press conferences and interviews in Chengdu media
On Monday 16th there was a “Press Briefing for Preparations of 2023 Chengdu Worldcon”, with coverage from Red Star News/chengdu.cnhere.
Here’s a short (sub one-minute) video of the Worldcon-branded light rail train in action. Given that it follows tracks that cross a street, I’m wondering if it would be more accurately classed as a tram? I’m sure there will be Filers who are also transport buffs, and can clarify the difference.
Xiaohongshu video. A transliteration of cyberpunk – 赛博朋克 / “Sàibópéngkè” – is indeed how they are described in the text of the Xiaohongshu post.
A dozen new items of merchandise available
Three posts on Xiaohongshu – (1), (2), (3) – show images of twelve new pieces of merchandise. These focus on the Kormo mascot, but a few do have Chengdu Worldcon branding. The images here are the items which either have the Chengdu Worldcon logo and/or strike me as the ones that File 770 readers are most likely to be interested in. They are:
Pillow book (Imust confess I’m not sure exactly what this is)
Unfortunately the posted images aren’t enough to see any details – such as which models of phone the cases are designed for – and there are no links to any online stores.
Silvana’s Twitter thread
Indonesian fan Silvana has arrived on site and has started a Twitter thread, in English and with plenty of photos. So far everything has gone smoothly for her, and she received a warm welcome from the locals.
Three-Body Global Fan Event
The Three-Body Universe licensing company posted on Weibo a series of 3BP-related events to be held at the Worldcon. Robert J. Sawyer is a panelist on one of these events, but it’s unclear to me what his connection is to 3BP.
Also, just following up on a comment in a recent Scroll about the precise name of the con venue, the image in the post gives the Chinese name as “成都科幻馆” (Chengdu Kehuan Guan / Chengdu Science Fiction Museum), but the English name as “Chengdu Science (Science Fiction) Museum”.
A better look at the articles in the Hello Chengdu magazine feature
This was briefly covered in an earlier Scroll, but I belatedly noticed that this Facebook post from the con’s account has images that show the articles are bilingual, and in high enough resolution for them to be readable if you have a big monitor.
New promo video
The Chengdu Plus YouTube and Bilibili accounts posted a new promo video. It shows lots of drone shots inside and outside the museum. A word-of-warning: the English language voiceover is a Caillou-ish adult-pretending-to-be-a-child thing, which I personally find akin to nails-on-a-chalkboard.
Local food options
There have been a few Xiaonhongshu posts about street food catering in the area around the museum; I’m not sure how far away they are though, as the museum isn’t visible in any of the photos. Posts one, two, three. Note: I’m not sure if these are actually from two different locations, maybe someone who is already on site can clarify?
Following on from yesterday’s member badges, here’s a look at a staff badge, with the completed Wandering Earth “Benben” vehicle in the background.
Members of the con team meet up at the SF World offices
Yao Haijun, deputy editor-in-chief of SF World and a Best Editor Long Form finalist, posted a few photos of when Ben Yalow, Helen Montgomery and Carolina Gomez-Lagerlof visited the SF World office a few days ago. He also includes a few historical photos.
Another video of Ben Yalow and Carolina Gomez Lagerlof visiting the Hua-ai school
This Xiaohongshu post shows the visit to the school just over the road from the science museum, covering more of the activities that the students showed to the two visiting members of the con team than the earlier video.
(2) ANOTHER LEARNEDLEAGUE SFF ONE-DAY. [Item by David Goldfarb.] The site just had a quiz about Star Trek: Lower Decks. I’ve never watched it, so didn’t try the questions, but anyone who wants to see them can find them here.
(3) MARINDA DARNELL DIES. Chicon 8 told their Facebook page readers yesterday that fan Marinda Darnell has died.
Marinda was always there for Chicago Fandom, particularly Capricon (which she chaired in 2016) and then Chicon 8. She was so generous with her time and such an important part of our team at C8. She started with a small job, was amazing, and then just kept taking on more things. At the convention she stepped up when one of our area heads was ill and handled IT. She got a Hero of the Convention medal, and was one of the people I gave a shout out to at closing ceremonies. She was a force.
She was fierce and passionate and loved Chicago Fandom. I/We have no words to express how much she will be missed. Our condolences to all who loved her.
(4) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 17, 1914 — Jerry Siegel. His most famous creation was Superman, which he created in collaboration with his friend Joe Shuster. He was inducted (along with the previously deceased Shuster) into the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1993. (Died 1996.)
Born October 17, 1934 — Alan Garner, 89. His best book? That’d be Boneland which technically is the sequel to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath but really isn’t. Oh, and The Owl Service is amazingly superb! There’s a BBC video series of the latter but I’ve not seen it.
Born October 17, 1946 — Bruce McAllister, 77. He’s a superb short story writer as you can see in The Girl Who Loved Animals and Other Stories that Golden Gryphon published originally and which Cemetery Dance has now in an ePub edition along with his three novels. His Dream Baby novel is an interesting if brutal take on the Vietnam War with a definite SF take to it. His Dream Baby novelette was nominated for a Hugo at Nolacon II, and his “Kin” short story was nominated at Nippon 2007.
Born October 17, 1950 — Michael Tolkin, 73. Of genre interest, he directed Deep Impact, and he had uncredited writing in the first Punisher film and the same for Dawn of the Dead. Likewise The Haunting. Is that a form of ghostwriting? EoSF notes, “He also wrote and directed the adaptation of Robert A Heinlein’s ‘Jerry Was a Man’ (October 1947 Thrilling Wonder) for the Television Anthology Series Masters of Science Fiction (2007).”
Born October 17, 1958 — Jo Fletcher, 65. British editor who, after working for Gollancz for 16 years, founded Jo Fletcher Books in 2011. Interestingly ISFDB says she’s done two World Fantasy Convention souvenir books, Gaslight & Ghosts and Secret City: Strange Tales of London, both with Stephen Jones. She also wrote with him the British Report aka The London Report for Science Fiction Chronicle. Appropriately for the approaching holiday is that one of her anthologies is Horror at Halloween.
Born October 17, 1966 — Mark Gatiss, 57. English actor, screenwriter, director, producer and novelist. Writer for Doctor Who; with Steven Moffat, whom Gatiss worked with on Doctor Who and Jekyll, he also co-created and co-produced Sherlock. As an actor, I’ll note he does Vogon voices in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and is Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock.
Born October 17, 1971 — Patrick Ness, 52. Best known for his books for young adults, including the Chaos Walking trilogy and A Monster Calls. He’s also the creator and writer of the Doctor Who spin-off Class series. And he’s written a Doctor Who story, “Tip of the Tongue”, a Fifth Doctor story. He won The Otherwise Award for The Knife of Never Letting Go, and his Monster Calls novel won both a Carnegie and a Kitschie as well being nominated for a Stoker and a Clarke.
In the late 1950s my father, Lloyd Bridges, starred in a TV series called Sea Hunt, about a diver. He played the part so well that people thought he was a real diver. So in the early days of my career, I was always looking for scripts that were unusual. Scripts like Tron feel risky but it’s actually much harder to fail when you’re doing something so innovative. There’s nothing for the film to be compared to.
We shot in 70mm and in black and white. The sets were all made of black duvetyne, a matt, light-blocking fabric, with white adhesive tape to make the lines. Our costumes were black and white, too. Being on set was the oddest feeling – your eyes would adjust to the black and white, then you’d go outside and the colour of the every day would zoom into your eyes. It was amazing. After we shot, the footage went to Korea where women hand-painted every frame. It was very primitive and very advanced all at the same time.
I looked to the director, Steven Lisberger, for inspiration. Since he co-wrote the story, I figured my character, Flynn, was very Steven-like. I can’t remember why, but I decided to curl my hair for the part. For the scenes of me inside the computer, I had to wear these white hockey helmets. My hair had been bleached to get the curl in, and I remember it falling out because of the helmet. The peroxide would get hot and the roots would break.
Steven lined the walls of the soundstages with video games you could play for free – and, man, we studied them big time! I got into one called Battlezone that was very Tron-like. I got some high scores and had this big battle with the makeup man, which he ended up winning. They’d call me for a shot and I’d say: “No way, man! The actor is preparing!” And I’d just be on Battlezone. They’d have to yank me off – but Steven understood….
(7) LAVA LAVA, LAVA LAVA, LAVA LAVA, DUCK[Item by Mike Kennedy.] It’s turning 60, but is the lava lamp from manufacturer Mathmos genre? OK, sure. Or at least it could be. First, there’s the generally rocket shape of many of the lamps. Then, there’s the Doctor Who and The Prisoner connections. Plus you have the Mathmos in Barbarella. Heck, the company is even bringing out a new version developed with pop group Duran Duran—another Barbarella connection.
…When Ringo Starr popped into a shop in Birkenhead in 1963, little did he know that his visit would help change the future of what was to become a celebrated British brand.
The Beatles’ drummer had stopped off to buy a lava lamp, the brightly coloured interior piece that has hypnotised millions over the years with its slow-moving exchange of liquid and warmed wax inside a glass cylinder. After the Birkenhead shop announced its celebrity visit, sales of the lamp rocketed.
Then came lava lamp appearances on episodes of Doctor Who in the Patrick Troughton era and in the 1965 film Dr Who and the Daleks starring Peter Cushing. It also featured in the 1960s/70s TV hit The Prisoner, and soon its role as a cultural mainstay was established.
Now the brand is turning 60, and, against all the challenges of a changing audience, economic downturns, the rise of online shopping and Brexit, sales are still going strong….
(8) SNL MAKES THE ATTEMPT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The writers strike is over. Saturday Night Live is back on TV. And here’s a skit from the first episode of the season, broadcast October 14. (It’s rather meh. Maybe the writers need more practice.)
(9) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Dann.] “Star Trek: The Silent Skies” is a collection of visuals that purport to be a 1920s film era reimagination of Star Trek. Just images and a few scenes. No dialogue.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Dann, Lise Andreasen, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]
Setup for Worldcon
Here’s a photo gallery showing some of the décor created for the Worldcon inside the Chengdu Science Fiction Museum. More at the link: http://xhslink.com/0yicuv
(2) MORE BAD NEWS FROM INTERZONE. Interzone publisher and editor Gareth Jelley has elaborated on the magazine’s switch to a solely electronic format, which was announced to subscribers the other day.
…It has been a hard call to make, but due to a very significant drop in subscriber numbers over the last three years, and the volatility of the paper market, I have decided that Interzone will be switching to electronic publication — from Interzone #296 onwards, issues of the magazine will be released as ebooks and no print edition will be produced.
When I took Interzone over from Andy Cox, I was determined to get Interzone back onto a bimonthly schedule and I also wanted to keep Interzone going as a print publication. I believed this was possible, and I did everything I could, day in, day out, to keep the print incarnation of IZ alive. Many IZ readers and fans also went above and beyond when I asked for help getting #295 into print.
The reality now is that Interzone subscriber numbers have fallen too far, too quickly, and are not where they need to be to keep Interzone in print and simultaneously back onto a regular, bimonthly publication schedule; and for a zine like IZ, once it is a choice between print and frequency, it is a no-brainer. Anything else is unfair to contributors and frustrating for readers.
Interzone is still not completely out of the woods, financially. I have drained my resources getting Interzone #295 published and it will take a little time to get Interzone #296, in its new electronic form, ready for publication. I am hoping it will not be too long, maybe even before the end of the year. and I will let you know as soon as I can….
(3) NEW YORK REVIEW OF SCIENCE FICTION READINGS. Jane Fancher and C.J. Cherryh make their NYRSF Readings debut on Wednesday, October 18 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Defiance, their latest novel in the Foreigner series, is being released that week
…About two months ago in London at Coyle’s Bookshop, they gave one of their monthly luncheons. This one was in honor of a gentleman I don’t think you are aware of—a music hall performer named Arthur Askey. It was the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday and the publication of his book. Arthur said something which I find strangely apropos at this moment. He looked around the table and said, “This luncheon is not a work of fiction, because everybody at this table is either living or dead.” I have much the same feeling.
This is of course formerly the Arkham Hilton, and probably Mr. Lovecraft did spend a night or two here. I know that last night the sounds I heard could have been the inspiration for “The Rats in the Walls.” I knew I was in the right place when I came here. I walked into the bar and I heard somebody ordering a gin and Miskatonic…
… I honestly don’t remember a time when I didn’t love Star Trek. I do remember when I started to realize that this show, and my father who introduced me to it, built the foundation for my sense of social justice as an astrophysicist of color. The show helped me, and my father, find a place within our culture….
… What I really related to — the show that I anticipated each week and bawled when it ended — was Star Trek: The Next Generation. This was a sequel to the original series that aired in the ’60s, a show that Martin Luther King Jr. loved!
The Next Generation had the young LeVar Burton as the chief engineer Geordi La Forge. He was famous as the lead in the TV cultural phenomena Roots and would later make everyone smile with Reading Rainbow. This new version of Star Trek also had the Shakespearean-trained actor Patrick Stewart playing Captain Jean-Luc Picard, which was the antithesis of the original Captain James T. Kirk. This new crew was more interested in science and tackled issues related to race more head-on! The technical jargon I heard coming from Geordi and others on the ship fueled my love for science….
(6) GO EAST YOUNG MAN. David Gerrold and his son’s family have moved to Vermont. Details on Facebook.
Around a million visitors a year beat a path to Haworth, the small West Yorkshire town nestling in the windy moors of the Worth Valley – mainly to see the home of the Brontë sisters.
The house that writers Charlotte, Anne and Emily shared with their father, church minister Patrick, and their wayward brother Branwell is a major tourist attraction. Visitors wander around the parsonage and surrounding cobbled streets to soak up the atmosphere of just how the Brontës lived two centuries ago.
But there is a site that is equally important to the story of perhaps Britain’s greatest literary family, around six miles or so away in the village of Thornton, on the western edge of the Bradford district: the birthplace of the three sisters.
The premises that takes up 72-74 Market Street has had various uses, from an apartment block to a cafe, but a campaign has been launched to turn it into an attraction that would complement Haworth’s enduring appeal.
It is estimated it will cost about £600,000 to buy the property, which is in a state of disrepair and neglect, and sympathetically renovate the Grade II* listed building into a tourist attraction comprising a cultural and educational centre, a cafe and holiday accommodation….
(8) PIPER LAURIE (1932-2023). Actress Piper Laurie, a three-time Oscar and nine-time Emmy nominee died October 14 at the age of 91. This excerpt from Variety’s obituary covers some of her major genre performances.
…Though she informally retired to raise a family for more than a decade, she returned to film and television in the mid-’70s and racked up an impressive roster of characterizations, including Oscar-nominated turns in “Carrie” and in “Children of a Lesser God,” in which she played Marlee Matlin’s icy mother. Laurie was truly chilling in “Carrie,” as the mother of the shy telekinetic girl of the title who has, in the words of Roger Ebert, “translated her own psychotic fear of sexuality into a twisted personal religion.”
Her performance as the plotting, power-hungry Catherine Martell in David Lynch’s landmark TV series “Twin Peaks” brought her two of her nine Emmy nominations. The actress won her only Emmy for her role in the powerful 1986 “Hallmark Hall of Fame” entry “Promises,” in which James Wood starred as a schizophrenic and James Garner as his brother, with Laurie’s character offering help to the pair.
She scored her last Emmy nomination in 1999 for a guest role on sitcom “Frasier” in which she played the mother of a radio psychologist played by Christine Baranski and clearly modeled after Dr. Laura Schlessinger….
(9) MARK GODDARD (1936-2023). Actor Mark Goddard, who gained fame as Maj. Don West on CBS’ Lost in Space series from 1965 to 1968, died October 10. He was 87. The New York Times obituary notes:
…Don was always the character most annoyed by Dr. Smith, and least sympathetic to him. He could be both hot-tempered and coldhearted, but he dutifully took a spacewalk, against his better judgment, to rescue Smith from the clutches of a seductive alien creature. If it had been up to him alone, he admitted, he would have let Dr. Smith drift through space for eternity.
Major West was a role Mr. Goddard had taken reluctantly, not being a fan of science fiction. In his 2008 memoir, “To Space and Back,” he referred to his space uniform, his wardrobe for the show, as “silver lamé pajamas and my pretty silver ski boots.”…
But he came back in a cameo role for the Lost in Space movie (1998).
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 14, 1927 — Roger Moore. Bond in seven films 1973 to 1985, a long run indeed. And he played Simon Templar in The Saint for most of the Sixties, an amazing one hundred eighteen episodes. Let’s not forget that he was in the Curse of the Pink Panther as Chief Insp. Jacques Clouseau! He even got to play Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes in New York. He wasn’t a bad Sherlock either. (Died 2017.)
Born October 14, 1946 — Katy Manning, 77. She was Jo Grant, companion to the Third Doctor. She also appeared in that role with the Eleventh Doctor on the Sarah Jane Adventures in a two-part story entitled “Death of the Doctor”. She appears as herself in the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
Born October 14, 1949 — Crispin Burnham, 74. And then there are those who just disappear. He was the founder, writer and publisher of Dark Messenger Reader / Eldritch Tales from 1975 to 1995 as the publisher Yith Press. He was also a prolific essayist from 1973 to 1995, his final essay being a reflection on the life and career of Robert Bloch. There’s nothing to show him active after 1998 when the final part of his “People of The Monolith” was published in Cthulhu Cultus #13. Then he vanishes without a trace.
Born October 14, 1953 — Greg Evigan, 70. TekWar, one of Shatner’s better ideas, starred him as Jake Cardigan. I really liked it. Yes, Shatner was in it. And the role he had actually worked fine for him. He also shows up in DeepStar Six as Kevin McBride, as Will South in the horror film Spectre aka The House of The Damned, as Marcus Cutter in Cerberus: The Guardian of Hell, and on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents as David Whitmore in “In the Driver’s Seat”.
Born October 14, 1953 — Richard Christian Matheson, 70. Son of the Richard Matheson that you’re thinking of. A very prolific horror writer, mostly of short stories, he’s also no slouch at script writing as he’s written for Amazing Stories, Masters of Horror, The Powers of Matthew Star, Splatter, Tales from the Crypt, Knight Rider (the original series) and The Incredible Hulk.
Born October 14, 1956 — Arleen Sorkin. She served as the real-life inspiration and voice for Harley Quinn, co-created by her friend Paul Dini on Batman: The Animated Series. Harley was supposed to be a one-off in “Joker’s Wild” but she was so popular that they kept her in the series. The character would appear in the New Batman Adventures, Static Shock, Justice League, Gotham Girls, and in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. She would die at 66 of pneumonia and complications from multiple sclerosis. (Died 2023.)
Born October 14, 1963 — Lori Petty, 60. Rebecca Buck – “Tank Girl” in that film. She was also Dr. Lean Carli in Cryptic, and Dr. Sykes in Dead Awake. She had one-offs in The Hunger, Twilight Zone, Star Trek: Voyager, Brimstone, Freddy’s Nightmares and Alien Nation, and voiced quite well Livewire in the DCU animated shows.
…Vampires have always walked amongst the shadows of the Marvel Universe, but in Spring 2024, the long night arrives and these bloodsucking terrors will endure the spotlight like never before. The main event series will be brought to life by an A-team of Marvel talent: current Avengers scribe Jed MacKay and acclaimed X-Men artists Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia. In classic Marvel fashion, BLOOD HUNT will also spill out into a host of tie-in issues in Marvel’s hottest current series and see the launch of all-new limited series, one-shots, and redefining status quos.
Brimming with unsurmountable stakes, this startling saga will drag the world into darkness as your favorite heroes struggle to ward off the vampire race’s cursed crusade of terror! Fans will have to wait with bated breath for more story details and information. In the meantime, sink your teeth into a special BLOOD HUNT trailer and a viciously visceral promotional image by Leinil Francis Yu and Sunny Gho!
“We have vampires in our books all the time, there’s some bad blood there,” MacKay said. “What happens if the shoe was on the other foot? We’ve got the Avengers, Moon Knight’s Midnight Mission, Doctor Strange, Miles Morales, and of course, Blade, and there’s going to be more vampires you can shake a stick at.”…
American writer Michael Chabon talks about his 2001 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.
From Jewish mysticism to Houdini to the Golden Age of Comic Books and WWII, Chabon’s immersive novel deals with escape and transformation through the lives of two Jewish boys in New York. Josef Kavalier makes an impossible escape from Prague in 1939, leaving his whole family behind but convinced he’s going to find a way to get them out too. He arrives in New York to stay with his cousin Sammy Klayman, and together the boys cook up a superhero to rival Superman – both banking on their comic book creation, The Escapist, to transform their lives and those around them, which in part he does. Their first cover depicts The Escapist punching Hitler in the face, and they wage war on him in their pages, but the personal impact of WWII is painfully inevitable.
The novel touches on the personal scars left by vast political upheaval, and the damaging constraints of being unable to love freely and live a true and authentic life. Chabon’s prose is perfectly crafted – sometimes lyrical, sometimes intensely witty, and occasionally painfully heartbreaking.
The BBC has blocked the artificial intelligence software behind ChatGPT from accessing or using its content.
The move aligns the BBC with Reuters, Getty Images and other content providers that have taken similar steps over copyright and privacy concerns. Artificial intelligence can repurpose content, creating new text, images and more from the data.
Rhodri Talfan Davies, director of nations at the BBC said the BBC was “taking steps to safeguard the interests of licence fee payers as this new technology evolves….
…Halloween is the day that we face that chilling finality. Commune with it. Drape our world in its trappings. Halloween is the day that death becomes the tapestry of our joy. We accept it. We embrace it. Maybe we even learn from it. And few Halloween based books, movies, stories or otherwise capture this idea more absolutely than Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree. Perfectly in line with its multi-layered historical trappings, it’s a tale that went through several iterations on its journey to the hallowed halls of Halloween history and one that seemed destined to become the essential animated classic that it has in the three decades since its release.
Almost 30 years before The Halloween Tree (1993) first aired on ABC, Ray Bradbury sat down to watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown one October evening in 1966. Despite the acclaimed author’s excitement and unabashed love for all things Halloween, he stood up and kicked his television set as the special’s credits rolled. While he had hoped for the equivalent of Halloween’s Santa Claus in the Great Pumpkin, the promised deity never arrived, denying the holiday its mystical spirit and breaking the vow that its title professed….
…A beam of concentrated sunlight could be used to build paved roads on the Moon by melting lunar dust, according to proof-of-concept experiments involving lasers and a substance resembling Moon dust.
Such roads could be useful infrastructure for future lunar missions, say engineer Juan-Carlos Ginés-Palomares and his colleagues, because they could provide areas for spacecraft to land or move around without churning up fine dust that can damage on-board scientific instruments and other equipment.
The Moon will be an important jumping-off point should humans ever want to explore further reaches of the Solar System. But its low gravity means dust doesn’t settle. Paving the lunar surface by melting the regolith — loose rock and dust — could help to address this problem….
(18) NEVER TOO LATE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] With the Chengdu Worldcon coming up, arguably time to — if you haven’t already — check out Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem. Over on YouTube @Bookpilled (part of the YouTube Science Fiction Alliance) recently did so. “This Book Has Sold 8 Million Copies – Is It Good?”.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Nancy Sauer, Steven French, Lise Andreasen, Rich Lynch, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
A two-and-a-half minute video was released today on various platforms, including the official con site. It features animated characters, against imagery based on a variety of SF works, and also references prior Worldcons.
(2) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]
The World Science Fiction Conference is held for the first time in China. This science fiction event brings together the best science fiction writers and industry insiders from the East and the West in Chengdu, where the past and the future are intertwined.
Liu Cixin, Robert Sawyer, Richard Taylor, Lezli Robyn, Michael Swanwick, David Hull, Satoshi Hase, Neil Clarke, Wu Jing, Guo Fan, Wang Jinkang, Han Song, He Xi… these shining names in the science fiction world, these stars who evoke the exciting dreams of countless science fiction fans, will all be unveiled at the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference.
I think this might be the first official mention of Michael Swanwick’s attendance? Also, Japanese novelist Satoshi Hase is a name that I don’t think I’ve previously seen mentioned as a guest.
The linked weixin.qq.com page has an article by a reporter from the Chengdu Business Times org, which is involved in the running of the con. The piece is titled (via Google Translate) “Liu Cixin and Robert Sawyer: Representative figures of hard science fiction from the East and the West will appear together in Chengdu!” Liu and Sawyer are interviewed, and it seems this will be the first in a series of interviews with con guests:
Starting today, we are launching a series of reports called “When Science Fiction Stars Shine” to introduce the science fiction writers, academicians, experts, and industry figures who will appear at this conference, and look forward to and welcome the event with everyone.
There’s also a slightly puzzling statement which says “Robert Sawyer and Liu Cixin will appear together at The 81st World Science Fiction Convention Industrial Development Promotion Conference (WSDF)”, with “WSDF” being an acronym appearing in the Chinese text. Whilst I’ve seen a bit of con-related material that has references to “industry” and “promotion”, this is the first I’ve heard of something called the “WSDF”. This “WSDF” term also appears in Weibo posts today from the HELLOChengdu and GoChengdu accounts, which reference the same news item.
Sawyer/Liu/Lukyanenko anthology published
It is reported that the “Stellar Concerto” Chinese-language anthology featuring stories from the three (ahem) Worldcon GoHs, which was previously covered in the September 28th Scroll, has now been published. The ToC shows that of the 18 stories, 7 are by Sawyer, 6 from Lukyanenko and 5 from Liu.
Special edition coffee packaging
I guess I jinxed things in yesterday’s updates when I said I hadn’t seen any evidence of sponsor branding, because guess what showed up today? Coffee cups and bags adorned with a stylized representation of the con venue. In fairness, they seem to be licensing from the science museum rather than the Worldcon — the text in the photos only mentions the former.
This post has a handful of images, most of which are fairly familiar views of the interior and exterior of the venue, but there are a couple of things I haven’t seen before: a topiary of something that I can’t quite fathom, and what I assume is interior signage for the fan area.
Spaceships have been iconic in science fiction ever since Jules Verne wrote From the Earth to the Moon. There are many features for writers to consider when designing their craft, including microgravity, faster-than-light (FTL) capabilities, journey time, habitation and resources, whether there’s a menacing AI on board, and so much more. In this article, we’ll examine how many published authors designed their sci-fi spaceships, so strap in and get ready for launch!
Interstellar travel: To FTL or not to FTL. In general, books that describe interstellar travel write about ships with FTL capability. In The Indranan War series, K.B. Wagers uses the Alcubierre drive, a concept developed by theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre to enable interstellar travel. Other books use wormhole technology. In John Scalzi’s The Interdependency series, ships penetrate a network of wormholes called the Flow to travel to other star systems. Since the Flow is a natural phenomenon, it’s also subject to cosmic events that can change the nature of its location, culminating in a great plot point. In Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, the Galactic Commons uses artificial gates that tunnel through the fabric of subspace, built by scrappy crews like that of the Wayfarer….
Beyond the anthology itself, we’ve got all sorts of fantastic rewards, add-ons, and stretch goals included in this Kickstarter. Ai Jiang has contributed a beautiful handmade planner as an add-on, and there are five slots available for 15-minute Zoom calls with Brian Keene. A little ways down the line, we’ll have a few surprises from co-editor Lesley Conner, and maybe one or two other things up our sleeves….
Lesley and Apex Magazine managing editor Rebecca Treasure are also offering critiques on up to 7,500 words. Additionally, we have ten explorer care packages available, which will include items to keep you safe on your travels: a train ticket, holy water, a book of protective phrases…visit the Kickstarter page to find out more! Stretch goals include excitements like more open call slots, a new dark microfiction anthology from Marissa van Uden, art for the interior of the Map of Lost Places anthology, and an introduction written by Linda D. Addison.
“Simply put, KOSA as currently written would allow (Texas Attorney General) Ken Paxton and other red-state attorney generals to bring frivolous lawsuits against any content they believe is harmful to kids — which includes LGBTQIA+ content in their view. The states are already passing state laws to censor the internet, but a federal law would give them much more leeway,” said writer and commentator Charlie Jane Anders in an email interview with The Bee.
With two episodes under its belt, the third season of Star Trek has both disappointed and elated. The general reaction to “Spock’s Brain” amongst the fan population (beyond the Journey) was universally negative. Buck Coulson of Yandro has even called for this season’s producer Fred Freiberger to be ridden out on a rail. On the other hand, “The Enterprise Incident” wowed everyone. And so, we waited eagerly for Trek at 9:59 PM on a Friday night, a night when we could have been out drinking and carousing (who are we kidding—we’re probably the only group for whom the Friday night “death slot” is actually perfect timing).
What we got was…well, closer to “Spock’s Brain” in terms of quality….
Something strange happened to both Star Wars and Star Trek around twenty-five years ago: both franchises suddenly became disillusioned with their spiritual, selfless bands of heroes.
The Jedi knights and the Vulcans had been an essential part of these iconic universes from the very beginning, and twentieth century viewers would have come away with a mostly positive impression of them. That changed drastically in the late 1990s, when both Trek and Wars started portraying their respective bands of detached, disciplined seekers of truth as uptight jerks. It was a jarring transformation, and I’m still wondering what exactly happened….
(8) THERE IS ANOTHER. And what about Battlestar Galactica? To find out what Charlie Jane Anders thinks you’ll need to listen to episode 138 of Our Opinions Are Correct – “Battlestar Galactica, 20 Years Later”.
One of the greatest science fiction shows on TV debuted twenty years ago: the rebooted version of Battlestar Galactica. This show broke new ground in depicting realistic politics — and a nuanced view of a society of artificial people. How does it hold up? To find out, Charlie Jane went back and watched the entire series — here’s what she found.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 10, 1924 — Ed Wood, Jr. Best remembered for Plan 9 from Outer Space which inexplicably has a sixty-eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. Really how could they? He did a lot of terribly bad genre films including Night of the Monster and Bride of The Ghouls. (Died 1978.)
Born October 10, 1927 — Dana Elcar. Most of you will remember him as Peter Thornton on MacGyver which I submit is possibly genre, but he has a long genre history including Russ in Condorman which was inspired by Robert Sheckley’s The Game of X. He also played Sheriff George Paterson in Dark Shadows, and showed up in 2010 as Dimitri Moisevitch. (Died 2005.)
Born October 10, 1931 — Victor Pemberton. Writer of the script for the the “Fury from the Deep”, a Second Doctor story in which he created the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. He had appeared as an actor in the series, in a non-speaking role as a scientist in “The Moonbase” story. In 1976, he wrote the BBC audio drama Doctor Who and the Pescatons which I remember hearing. Quite good it was. (Died 2017.)
Born October 10, 1931 — Jack Jardine. A long-time L.A. fan who was present at many West Coast cons and who shared the dais on panels with some of the major names in SF. He attended his last convention, in a wheelchair, assisted by his daughter Sabra, after a debilitating stroke at the age of 70. His health continued to get worse until he died from heart failure. File 770 has more here. (Died 2009.)
Born October 10, 1941 — Peter Coyote, 82. He actually did two genre films in 1982 with the first being Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann in which he appeared as Porter Reese and the second being E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial which he’s Keys, the Agent hunting E.T. down. Sphere in which he’s Captain Harold C. Barnes is his next SF outing followed by The 4400 and FlashForward series being his next major genre involvement.
Born October 10, 1947 — Laura Brodian Freas Beraha, 76. While married to Kelly Freas, she wrote Frank Kelly Freas: As He Sees It with him along with quite a few essays such as “On the Painting of Beautiful Women or Ayesha, She Who Must Be Obeyed” and “Some of My Best Critics are Friends – or Vice Versa”. She’s credited for the cover art for New Eves: Science Fiction About the Extraordinary Women of Today and Tomorrow.
Born October 10, 1966 — Bai Ling, 57. She’s Miss West in that wretched Wild West West and the Mysterious Women in the exemplary Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, she has a major role as Guanyin in The Monkey King which aired on Syfy. Nope, not seen that one. Her last genre role was Zillia in Conjuring: The Book of the Dead, a horror film riffing off Alastair Crowley.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Pearls Before Swine – “I’ll just say — it hits pretty close to home even with my minimal experience at autographings!” says Rich Horton.
The Dublin Comics Art Festival, held this year over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday 7th and 8th of October, has been connecting comics and comic fans for years and I got the opportunity to go to their new venue, Richmond Barracks, which is now repurposed as a community cultural centre and library.
I depart Octocon, the National SF convention taking place at the Gibson Hotel and jump onto a Luas (tram), which terminates outside the hotel door and get off at Golden Bridge and its a very short walk to this excellent venue.
This gathering is in a lovely open and airy hall, filled with excitement and art, it’s a welcoming space and it’s busy.
… In many respects I found DCAF as rewarding as Thought Bubble when it comes to small press, entry level publications, zines and art. It’s a good show, with a wide and desirable selection of vendors. I also liked how relaxed everyone was. It was friendly but there is no hard sell. An occasional “feel free to browse” or “happy to answer questions” and I have to bite my tongue and not ask “why haven’t Marvel hired you for covers” because actually, the creative art of writing and drawing ones own unique story, for me as a reader, is hugely rewarding. I’ll take this, thanks….
(12) HE MADE A LITTLE MISTAKE. The New York Times reports “Unity Chief Resigns After Pricing Backlash” “John Riccitiello angered video game developers who use Unity’s software when he announced a new fee structure that could have significantly increased their costs.”
John Riccitiello, the chief executive of Unity Technologies, abruptly stepped down on Monday, less than a month after a change to the company’s pricing structure infuriated thousands of software developers who rely on the video game company’s tools.
Unity, which makes the underlying software that powers video games, has long imposed an annual licensing fee on developers. But in September, the company said it would begin charging developers additional money each time someone downloaded one of their video games. That meant developers would pay more as their games increased in popularity. Mr. Riccitiello was one of the main proponents of the change….
…His swift exit underscored the precarious position Mr. Riccitiello found himself in after an attempt to fix a corporate balance sheet awash in red ink. But the abrupt shift in the company’s financial model angered many programmers who rely on Unity for their own businesses….
“In His Image” follows an android man named Alan, created by Walter Ryder to be a perfect version of himself. However, as the ending reveals, Alan has unexplained flaws that cause him to want to kill others. Walter takes over his life at the end of the episode, realizing he is actually a perfect version of Alan. The episode’s quote, “There may be easier ways to self-improvement, but sometimes it happens that the shortest distance between two points is a crooked line.”
The common phrase says the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but The Twilight Zone turns this on its head. The quote is saying the bizarre scenario in which Walter created a robot version of himself was the quickest way for him to realize that he is actually the best version of himself. There may have been an easier way, but this is the fastest way he came up with. This could be applied to various areas in life, as sometimes unusual circumstances can be the most effective way to realize or accomplish something.
…This long overdue evolutionary account is the pre-history to Caroline Criado Perez’s Invisible Women(2019), showing how wrong it is to think of women as just men with breasts and wombs bolted on. Over hundreds of thousands of years, women have developed more sensitive noses (particularly around ovulation and pregnancy), finer hearing at high frequencies, extended colour vision, and longer life expectancy than men by an impressive half decade. Forget plasma exchange and supplementation – entrepreneurs trying to extend human life should be studying women, who comprise around 80% of today’s centenarians.
American academic and author Cat Bohannon asks how this came to be, tracing defining female features back to our “presumed true ancestors”, our Eves as she calls them. The story starts more than 200m years ago in the Jurassic period with a rodent, Morganucodon,nicknamed Morgie, which still laid eggs but also had glands on its tummy that began secreting milk. It was perhaps the first breastfeeder….
… There is no fossil record of brains or wombs. Where any organ once was becomes a cavity of uncertainty. Bohannon finds the gaps “incredibly fun”, excavating possibilities from silence. She revises the opening of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001:A Space Odyssey, for example, replacing the testosterone-filled scene of early man as the “primordial inventor” of weapons, with women who were sharpening the tools while also making the babies…
(15) IS STEPHEN KING ‘KING’? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Moid over at Media Death Cult channel on YouTube is teasing us as to whether Stephen King the horror writer is a king of SF????
The Science Fiction Of Stephen King Filmed in a haunted forest in the pouring rain.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Steven French, Rich Horton, James Bacon, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
Upwards of 175 actors, musicians, authors, comedians, reality stars, models, media personalities, academics, activists and more have signed the open letter spearheaded by Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton and published Tuesday via public advocacy organization and political action committee MoveOn Political Action….
The letter’s release coincides with National Banned Books Month and comes amid a corresponding public petition from MoveOn, which will connect signatories with future advocacy opportunities around book bans. Such opportunities include methods of support or events related to MoveOn’s Banned Bookmobile, which launched a multicity tour this summer after measures touted and supported by Gov. Ron DeSantis resulted in an increase in banned and restricted books in Florida schools, according to The Associated Press.
In October, the bookmobile will once again distribute free banned books, in addition to hosting events held in conjunction with Crooked Media’s live Pod Save America and Lovett or Leave It podcasts, and author readings in Georgia, Virginia and South Carolina as part of a broader “Read Banned Books” initiative….
Here is the full text of the letter from Moveon.org.
As artists, creators, entertainers, and activists, we recognize and are horrified by the threat of censorship in the form of book bans.
This restrictive behavior is not just antithetical to free speech and expression but has a chilling effect on the broader creative field. The government cannot and should not create any interference or dictate what people can produce, write, generate, read, listen to, or consume.
We cannot stress enough how these censorious efforts will not end with book bans. It’s only a matter of time before regressive, suppressive ideologues will shift their focus toward other forms of art and entertainment, to further their attacks and efforts to scapegoat marginalized communities, particularly BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks.
We refuse to remain silent as one creative field is subjected to oppressive bans. As artists, we must band together, because a threat to one form of art is a threat to us all.
We are calling on everyone to join us in pushing back against these book bans, support free and open creative industries—regardless of personal or ideological disagreements—and use their voice at the local level to stop these bans in their school districts. There is power in artistic freedom, and we refuse to allow draconian politicians to take that from us.
(2) CHENGDU VENUE PROGRESS PHOTOS. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] Here from a Weibo post are a couple more photos of the interior of the Chengdu Worldcon venue. It looks quite different to my eyes from the earlier images, not sure if it’s the lighting, angle, or if they’ve applied some coating – the Google Translated hashtags include “#金molstone# #石 CrystalWallboard#”, whatever those might be.
“Long Ago, Not Far Away” was a really good episode of Foundation. Well, at least ninety-five percent of it were really good. Unfortunately, the last five minutes or so not only ruined the episode, but the entire series….
Signed by Texas governor Greg Abbott on June 12, HB 900 would have required book vendors to review and rate books for sexual content under a vaguely articulated standard as a condition of doing business with Texas public schools. Under the law, books rated “sexually explicit” (if the book includes material deemed “patently offensive” by unspecified community standards) would be banned from Texas schools. Books rated “sexually relevant” (books with any representation of sexual conduct) would have required written parental permission for students to access them. Furthermore, the law would have given the state the ultimate power to change the rating on any book, and would have forced vendors to accept the state’s designated rating as their own, or be barred from selling to Texas public schools….
…“The Court does not dispute that the state has a strong interest in what children are able to learn and access in schools. And the Court surely agrees that children should be protected from obscene content in the school setting,” Albright concluded. “That said, [the law] misses the mark on obscenity with a web of unconstitutionally vague requirements. And the state, in abdicating its responsibility to protect children, forces private individuals and corporations into compliance with an unconstitutional law that violates the First Amendment.”
In defending the law, Texas attorneys had moved to dismiss the suit, arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the law, and that the state has the right to regulate vendors who wish to do business with Texas public schools—essentially asserting that rating books would simply be part of the cost of doing business in Texas. Albright demolished those arguments in his opinion, and harshly criticized the ill-conceived law in denying the motion to dismiss.
At one point, Albright observed that the burden placed on vendors by the law are “so numerous and onerous as to call into question whether the legislature believed any third party could possibly comply.” And he called out state attorneys for their inability to answer basic questions over the course of two hearings. “Generally, the government was confused and unaware of how the law would actually function in practice,” Albright observed, citing “approximately 40 instances during the August 18th hearing (‘Hearing 1’) where the government either did not know how the law would function or did not have an answer as to what the effects of certain provisions were.”…
Greg Jein was a giant among the Hollywood illusionists who created small things to fill big screens. The model- and miniature-maker never left his hometown of Los Angeles. Yet he was never earthbound: Jein spent decades introducing us to aliens who brought their motherships to Earth, and he sent us soaring time and again into space, the final frontier.
Jein, who died at 76 last year, was nominated for Academy Awards and Emmys, hailed as a magician and beloved as a mentor. Among Hollywood’s special effects wizards, Jein was heartbeat and historian, craftsman and custodian. His life’s story might have made the perfect film.
A fan first, foremost and forever, he made models when he was little. By the time Jein reached his mid-30s, he was a twice-Oscar-nominated maker of motherships, airplanes, city blocks and other models for Close Encounters of the Third Kindand 1941, both directed by Steven Spielberg.
“Greg loved what he did, creating things with his hands,” says Jerry Chang, Jein’s first cousin. “He could see in his mind things other people couldn’t.”
(6) NEW SOPHIE BURNHAM TRILOGY. DAW Books has acquired Sargassa, the first book in a trilogy from debut author Sophie Burnham. Set in an alternate North America called Roma Sargassa, where the Roman Empire never fell, readers will plunge into a landscape of political intrigue, queer romance, and impending revolution. The acquisition encompassed three books with World English rights and was agented by Maria Napolitano at the Jane Rotrosen Agency.
…Executive Editor Navah Wolfe expressed immense enthusiasm about the acquisition, stating, “Sophie’s impressive worldbuilding, compelling characters, and insightful social commentary make Sargassa an exceptional addition to DAW’s repertoire. We are immensely excited to introduce their work to the world.”
In the book, North America has always been under Roman rule, and the death of the Imperial Historian thrusts his children, Selah and Arran, into the heart of a conspiracy. An underground rebel faction seeks to obtain the Iveroa Stone and use its secrets to reveal the empire’s obscured past and dethrone its dominion. As Selah works to unlock the Stone’s enigmas, she faces a monumental decision: to uphold or challenge the historical narratives of the Roman rule in Sargassa…
Sophie Burnham is a queer nonbinary novelist and screenwriter, backed by an Acting BFA and a concentration in Playwriting from Syracuse University. Honored with a We Need Diverse Books writing grant and a placement in ScreenCraft’s 2020 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Screenplay competition, Burnham’s debut novel promises to enthrall and enlighten readers. Follow them on Twitter at @sophielburnham.
Dream Foundry’s Con or Bust program issues cash grants to fans and creatives of color to help connect them with SFFH genre events and resources. Con or Bust sends folks to conventions, workshops, classes, and other networking or professional opportunities. Grants can be used toward travel, registration, food, equipment, and other expenses associated with attending the event.
Con or Bust’s fall fundraiser is in full swing! We have lots of bookish prizes, including a 1 year subscription to Apex Magazine, two $50 Weightless Books gift certificates, libro.fm credits, and more. Oh yeah, and there’s a PS5, too.
The Sweepstakes is open only to the following individuals (each, an “Eligible Participant”):
Individual legal residents of, and physically located within, the United States or Canada, and who are 18 (except 19 in Alabama and Nebraska and 21 in Mississippi) years of age as of the date of entry or of legal age of majority or older in their country of residence…
(8) DOING TIE-IN RESEARCH. David Mack gives a detailed example of the kind of research he needed to do for a Star Trek media tie-in novel. Thread begins here.
(9) FREE READ. The 2023 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award-winning story, “The Hitchhiker on Souls’ Road” by A. A. Nour, is currently available to read at the Baen website.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 19, 1922 — Damon Knight. Author, editor, critic. Kate Wilhelm who was his wife is also regrettably no longer with us. His 1950 short story, “To Serve Man” was adapted for The Twilight Zone. His first story, “The Itching Hour,” appeared in the Summer 1940 number of Futuria Fantasia which was edited and published by Ray Bradbury. It’s hard to briefly sum up his amazing genre career but let me note he was a member of the Futurians and a reviewer as well as a writer. Novels of his I’ll single out are Hell’s Pavement, The Observers and Special Delivery but don’t think I’m overlooking his brilliant short stories. The Encyclopedia of SF notes that “In 1995, he was granted the SFWA Grand Master Award – which from 2002 became formally known, in his honour, as the Damon Knight Grand Master Award. He was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2003.” (Died 2002.)
Born September 19, 1928 — Adam West. Best known as Batman on that classic Sixties series, he also had a short role in 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars as Colonel Dan McReady. He last played the role of Batman by voicing him in two animated films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. He also most excellently voiced The Gray Ghost in an episode of the Kevin Conroy voiced B:TAS, “Beware the Gray Ghost”. (Died 2017.)
Born September 19, 1928 — Robin Scott Wilson. Founder, with Damon Knight and others, of the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop. He edited Clarion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction and Criticism from the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, Clarion II and Clarion III. He wrote one genre novel, To the Sound of Freedom (with Richard W. Shryock) and a lot of short fiction. He’s not in stock at all at the usual suspects. (Died 2013.)
Born September 19, 1933 — David McCallum, 90. His longest running, though not genre, role is pathologist Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on NCIS where he appeared in every episode of the first fifteen seasons. (With series lead Mark Harmon’s departure from the show in the fall of 2021 (Season 19), McCallum became the last remaining member of the original NCIS cast.) Genre wise, he was Illya Nickovitch Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and the British series Sapphire & Steel where he was Steel and Joanna Lumley was Sapphire. He played the lead in a short-lived U.S. version of The Invisible Man. He was Dr. Vance Hendricks on Babylon 5’s “Infection” episode.
Born September 19, 1947 — Tanith Lee. I hadn’t realized that she wrote more than ninety novels and three hundred short stories in her career. Ninety novels! She even wrote two of the Blake’s 7 episodes as well. I am more fond of her work for children such as The Dragon Hoard and The Unicorn Series than I am of her adult work. She has garnered well-deserved Stoker and World Fantasy Awards for Lifetime Achievement. (Died 2015.)
Born September 19, 1952 — Laurie R. King, 71. She’s on the Birthday Honors list for the Mary Russell series of historical mysteries, featuring Sherlock Holmes as her mentor and later partner. Hey it’s at least genre adjacent. She’s also written at least one genre novel, Califia’s Daughters.
Born September 19, 1972 — N. K. Jemisin, 51. Her most excellent BrokenEarth series has made her the only author to have won the Hugo for Best Novel in three consecutive years. Her “Non-Zero Probabilities” was nominated for the Best Short Story losing out to Will McIntosh‘s “Bridesicle” at Aussiecon 4. “Emergency Skin” I’m pleased to note won the Best Novelette Hugo at CoNZealand. Yeah I voted for it. And at Chicon 8 she won a Best Graphic Story or Comic Hugo for Far Sector, written by her, with art by Jamal Campbell.
(11) FANHISTORY ZOOM. The next FANAC Fan History Zoom session will be about “Boston Fandom in the 60s” with Tony Lewis, Leslie Turek and Mike Ward, moderated by Mark Olson. It will happen September 23,2023 at Time: 4PM EDT, 1PM PDT, 9PM BST (UK), Sept 24 at 6AM Melbourne, AU. If you want access, please send a note to [email protected]
(12) COVER REVEAL. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Theory podcast Acid Horizon announced on Twitter/X the new cover for the upcoming Zer0 Books release Against the Vortex: Degrowth Utopias in the Seventies and Today by Anthony Galluzzo.
Disney World guests were just treated to a new kind of Country Bear Jamboree.
EW can confirm that a wild bear was found inside the park Monday morning, prompting the closure of at least 10 attractions inside the Frontierland, Adventureland, and Liberty Square areas. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tells EW that biologists with FWC’s Bear Management Program, as well as FWC Law Enforcement officers, are “working on capturing and relocating the bear,” who they say was likely moving through the park in search of food….
(14) CHANGE THE TITLE, CHANGE THE GENRE. Lincoln Michel had fun with this idea – you can too.
Whether we’re living in the age of Peak TV or Trough TV, one thing is clear: There’s too much TV. Thankfully, not every show has to be watched in its entirety. One of the best things about television is its serialized nature, the continuous thread that strings viewers along from one episode to the next. It’s a cliché that prestige television is the new novel precisely because of the way that many dramas develop their characters and plots over many hours of storytelling. But an older virtue of TV is its brevity—the way a scenario can be introduced and resolved within the space of an hour, or half that—and some of the best episodes are less like chapters in a long-running novel than like short stories or short films. These are stand-alone episodes….
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Ersatz Culture, Ben Bird Person, Nina Shepardson, Joe Siclari, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]
This is the last half of the article’s passage about Ellison and Sinatra:
…“Truman Capote thought he had total recall,” Talese chuckled again, “But I don’t have total recall, but I recall pretty well, and then I go over it later with the person I’m interviewing. I called Harlan Ellison the next day, confirmed that I heard what I heard as to the confrontation, and Harlan added a few things.”
As the late Harlan Ellison later verified on a YouTube video, “I told him what happened and Talese says, ‘Yeah, that’s what happened,’ I said, ‘But how do you know I’m telling the truth?’ And he said, ‘Because I was there.’ Whaaaat?”
Cut-up shirt carboards is why Gay Talese can write such extraordinary paragraphs, like this one that concludes “Frank Sinatra Has A Cold”:
“It was the morning after. It was the beginning of another nervous day for Sinatra’s press agent, Jim Mahoney. Mahoney had a headache, and he was worried but not over the Sinatra-Ellison incident of the night before. At the time Mahoney had been with his wife at a table in the other room, and possibly he had not even been aware of the little drama. The whole thing had lasted only about three minutes. And three minutes after it was over, Frank Sinatra had probably forgotten about it for the rest of his life—as Ellison will probably remember it for the rest of his life: he had had, as hundreds of others before him, at an unexpected moment between darkness and dawn, a scene with Sinatra.”…
…If it works, a capsule containing bits of Bennu will fall from the heavens to Utah on Sept. 24.
In the meantime, you could say NASA has called upon the Vatican for a Hail Mary.
Brother Robert J. Macke, curator of the Vatican’s meteorite collection, has designed a custom device that will fit inside the glovebox where scientists will handle the sample. Within days of OSIRIS-Rex’s arrival, the Jesuit will leave Castel Gandolfo, where the pope sometimes summers, and head for Johnson Space Center in Houston. There he will don a protective coverall over his Roman collar and help scientists use his pycnometer, an instrument for measuring the density of tiny grains of gravel. Through these measurements, NASA hopes to get to the bottom of Bennu’s mysterious boulders….
In 1977, the novelist Diana Wynne Jones finished a children’s fantasy novel and posted off the manuscript of the final draft to her publishers. There, an editor asked her to make further changes to the book – which she had no intention of doing. But rather than say so, Jones took her carbon copy of the draft and chopped some of the pages up into sections, pasting them back together – exactly the same words in the same order – to look as though the book had been heavily revised. She sent it back to her publishers; the book was now perfect, they declared. That was the thing: it had been all along. The book was Charmed Life, one of the wittiest, sharpest children’s fantasies ever written. There are some writers whose voices are so vividly their own that you can detect the distinctive ring of it 10 miles off in a headwind: Jones is one of them.
Jones, who died in 2011, was a true original. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Wilkins’ Tooth, her first children’s book: it would be a good year to begin reading her….
On the latest episode of Saturday Cinema, Lynne Warfel celebrates the much more than five-year mission of Star Trek on its 57th anniversary with a survey of the fine music composed for the original TV series and later incarnations.
…In The Blob, teenagers battle an alien blob that’s consuming a small town. Infamously, Steve is played by Steve McQueen in his first major movie, billed here as Steven McQueen, although if you’re looking to start your McQueen cinematic education, you should probably go straight to 1968’s perfect action flick, Bullitt. The pacing of The Blob isn’t just bad for its time; other monster movies from the 1950s were far more thrilling. Even the blob chasing teenagers through a grocery store near the end feels less exciting than it should be. The Blob is a monster movie that often seems to forget it’s a monster movie, which is a large part of why the film has such a mixed reputation.
However, the idea of The Blob is fantastic. The blob is a perfect sci-fi monster. It doesn’t have a goal, it doesn’t look like a monster-ish take on any kind of animal. It can — and will — eat anything. When the movie begins, Steve and Jane observe a meteorite crashing, which is how the blob gets to our planet. What kind of horrifying sci-fi critter could survive on a freaking meteor?…
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 17, 1908 — John Creasey. English crime and SF writer who wrote well over than six hundred novels using twenty-eight different names. His SF writings were mostly in the Dr. Palfrey series, a British secret service agent named Dr. Stanislaus Alexander Palfrey, who forms Z5. There’s a lot of his novels available from the usual suspects. And I do many really a lot, so I’m going to ask all of you where to start reading his SF novels as I am curious as to how they are. (Died 1973.)
Born September 17, 1915 — Art Widner. Fanzine editor. He was a founding member of The Stranger Club which created Boston fandom. He chaired Boskone I and Boskone II which were held in 1941 and 1942, they being the very first two Boston cons. Fancyclopedia 3 has a very detailed look at him here. (Died 2017.)
Born September 17, 1928 — Roddy McDowall. He is best known for portraying Cornelius and Caesar in the original Planet of the Apes film franchise, as well as Galen in the television series. He’s Sam Conrad in The Twilight Zone episode “People Are Alike All Over” and he superbly voices Jervis Tetch / The Mad Hatter in Batman: The Animated Series. (Died 1998.)
Born September 17, 1939 — Sandra Lee Gimpel, 84. In Trek’s “The Cage”, she played a Talosian. That led her to being cast as the M-113 creature in “The Man Trap”, another first season episode. She actually had a much larger work history as student double, though uncredited, showing up in sixty eight episodes of Lost in Space and fifty seven of The Bionic Woman plus myriad such genre work elsewhere including They Come from Outer Space where she was the stunt coordinator
Born September 17, 1950 — Roger Stern, 73. Comics writer who’s most noted work who was on Avengers, Captain America, Doctor Strange, and Starman. I’m very, very impressed of his work on the first twenty-eight issues of Starman, which were published from 1988 to 1990.
Born September 17, 1951 — Cassandra Peterson, 72. Definitely best remembered as Elvira, Mistress of The Darkness, a character she played on TV and in movies before becoming the host of Elvira’s Movie Macabre, a weekly horror movie presentation in LA in 1981. She’s a showgirl in Diamonds Are Forever which was her debut film, and is Sorais in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold.
Born September 17, 1979 — Neill Blomkamp, 44. South African born Canadian filmmaker of District 9 which was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Aussiecon 4. EofSF says also, “Of particular note were Tetra Vaal (2004), a RoboCop-inspired advertisement for a fictional range of third-world law-enforcement drones; Alive in Joburg (2005), about an influx of Alien immigrants from a Spaceship stalled over Johannesburg; and Tempbot (2006), about a Robot office worker attempting to parse cubicle culture.” Other genre films include Elysium and Chappie.
…The New York Times got hold of his paper and decided he was an idiot because rockets don’t work in space. They dubbed him the “moon man”.
“That professor Goddard, with his ‘chair’ in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution [from which Goddard held a grant to research rocket flight], does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react — to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.”
Goddard responded to a reporter’s question.
“Every vision is a joke until the first man accomplishes it; once realised, it becomes commonplace.”
Goddard became very famous, but not in a particularly good way. He was sent insulting letters for years, and started to operate in secrecy….
… Forty-nine years after the New York Times’s editorial, they issued an apology to Goddard — rockets clearly worked in space.
How did they know this? Because one was on its way to the Moon, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on board.
Aldrin’s father, Edwin Aldrin Sr, studied rocketry under Goddard as an undergraduate.…
…For many years, the i4is has been working through Project Lyra to find optimal ways to explore nearby star systems using fleets (1000 or more) of gram-scale spacecraft. Like Starshot, these efforts began with Project Dragonfly (a feasibility study hosted by i4is in 2015) for small, lightweight, distributed spacecraft propelled primarily by laser sails. Per the study’s specifications, these spacecraft would need to be realizable using technology and space infrastructure available in the coming decades and capable of reaching nearby stars within a century.
Among astrophysicists, gram-scale craft and laser sails are considered the only viable means for mounting interstellar exploration in the foreseeable future. But whereas some mission architectures envision sending a single mission with a large lightsail, Project Lyra envisions using a power laser array to send swarms of spacecraft that could explore distant star systems and exoplanets collectively….
(10) MEDIA DEATH CULT. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] For those that have been following Moid Moidelhoff’s Media Death Cult on YouTube, he hasn’t moved home yet… However, given the frequency of his posts is down, things may well be afoot… Also Media Death Cult regulars will also know that over the past few years he and his regulars have been working through Phil Dick’s major SF novels. His latest post looks at a few of these… The Zap Gun, Three Early Novels: The Man Who Japed – Dr Futurity – Vulcan’s Hammer. “Philip K. Dick – The Perfect Amount Of Weirdness”.
…The movie is titled Postcard From Earth and it’s a “part sci-fi story, part nature documentary” and it was specially commissioned to screen at the MSG Sphere, which opened in April 2023. This project is an “Immersive and innovative exploration of planet Earth through eyes of two human beings.”…
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Kathy Sullivan, Lise Andreasen, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Smith.]
The Journey That Matters, a series of six short films about Ursula K. Le Guin’s life and work that will be serialized on Literary Hub, based on outtakes from the feature documentary you all helped me to create. Spending time with Ursula meant having access to her warm, wise perceptions about all kinds of questions in literature and life. With these little films, I hope to share some more of that abundance.
It starts today with “What it Was Like,” in which Ursula reads her powerful essay about the illegal abortion she had as a senior at Radcliffe in 1950, which she credits with allowing her to pursue her career as a writer and to build her family. It’s a chilling reminder of what we’ve lost since Roe fell — and how women’s success and happiness is predicated on our bodily autonomy….
As young women growing up under the protection of Roe, we never really talked with our mother about her abortion. Elisabeth [Le Guin] learned that it had occurred when she went through several abortions of her own in the 1980s; but what we know about the story of Ursula’s necessarily different experience comes to us through her written words, as it does to you. “The Princess” was her keynote address to NARAL Pro-Choice America in 1982 when Roe was not even a decade old, and this piece, “What It Was Like,” was a talk for Oregon’s NARAL chapter in 2004. These stories are public statements, performances of Ursula’s own life material as a means to inspire and transform. The second of them, which you are about to hear, is also a rather extraordinary public love letter to her own family.
This is a hard essay to read or listen to, and it’s meant to be. Clearly, it was hard to write; watching Ursula in her 80s read her own words aloud, more than a decade after she wrote them, the emotion is palpable—and that shy little shrug at the end, that letting go. For us, it’s hard to watch. It’s a hard thing to think about your mother having an abortion, and an illegal one at that—to do so takes you to an exquisitely painful, vulnerable place, imagining what she went through: the shame, the grief, the sense of loss she must have experienced, the lingering, corrosive doubt. A hard thought exercise, but necessary to fully honor the fact that she could later choose to carry you to term, bring you into the world, into her world, to love and mother you the way she wanted to mother….
(2) NEW SFWA PROGRAM SEEKS INTERNS. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) received a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) to support a new program they’re launching: Publishing Taught Me. This program will be shepherded by Nisi Shawl, an accomplished and multiple award-winning author, editor, instructor, and Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award recipient. It will take place over the coming year. And the press release adds that “Publishing Taught Me Launches with an Intern Search”.
…Publishing Taught Me will produce an online essay series, to be collated into an anthology, and a symposium aimed at promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. This will be done by inviting publishing professionals of color to describe their journeys and to provide advice and motivation to writers entering the field via their essays and participation in a Publishing Taught Me symposium. These goals will be accomplished with the support of two paid interns, who will serve as assistant editors for the essay series, symposium, and resultant anthology.
As managing editor for the project, Shawl will oversee the operational aspects of putting together an online essay series and anthology, and will work with SFWA staff to coordinate and execute their publication and the associated events. They will also provide mentorship to the two assistant editor interns, who should be early in their professional publishing careers.
We are now recruiting for the assistant editor internship positions for this program. Interested individuals must be at least at 18 years of age, and should have at least three months previous editing experience, preferably within the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres, and a firsthand knowledge of the challenges facing people of color in the current publishing environment. Familiarity with Google Docs, Zoom, WordPress, and Canva is a plus.
Responsibilities include soliciting and editing project essays, overseeing contributor agreement completion, assisting with arranging the essays within the final publication, helping to establish and supporting project participant communication protocols, and preparing marketing materials for the project. The term “editing” includes developmental editing, line editing, and copyediting.
The editorial assistants’ work on the project begins November 1, 2023 and will be completed in November 2024. Hours worked will vary from week to week, but the anticipated time commitment will be up to 50 hours per month per person. A flat $2,000 stipend will be provided to each intern for their participation in the program.
If you are interested in applying, please complete the application hereby September 30, 2023. We encourage you to share this opportunity with anyone who qualifies and would benefit from learning about the science fiction, fantasy, and horror publishing industry as they fill this important role.
…This program will deliver invaluable insight into our industry that will benefit current and future genre storytellers, and we’re excited to bring it into existence. For questions about Publishing Taught Me, please contact [email protected].
(3) STURGEON SYMPOSIUM NEXT WEEK. Katie Conrad, Interim Director of the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction shared the schedule for the Second Annual Sturgeon Symposium being held at the University of Kansas from September 20-22. Full details at the link.
The Symposium theme this year, “Fantastic Worlds, Fraught Futures,” was inspired by this year’s KU Common Book, Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. The festivities start Tuesday night (9/19) with a co-sponsored Feminist Futures Forum, and continue through Friday (9/20-9/22) with a three-day academic conference open to all and events including a zine workshop (Wednesday afternoon), an open-to-all young adult creative writing workshop with YA author L.L. McKinney (Thursday afternoon), the reception and presentation of the annual Sturgeon Award with a reading by author Samantha Mills (Thursday evening), a closing reception in the gallery with the KU Common Work of Art (Friday afternoon), and a free showing of the movie The Host (Friday evening).
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice blocked Penguin Random House, owned by the German media giant Bertelsmann, from acquiring Simon & Schuster. The big five publishers—HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Hachette, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster—already control about 80 percent of the book market. The literary class was relieved.
Less than a year later, the private-equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts announced that it would buy Simon & Schuster. Because the firm doesn’t already own a competing publisher, the deal is unlikely to trigger another antitrust probe. But KKR, infamous as Wall Street’s “barbarians at the gate” since the 1980s, may leave Simon & Schuster employees and authors yearning for a third choice beyond a multinational conglomerate or a powerful financial firm.
“It may be a stay of execution, but we should all be worried about how things will look at Simon & Schuster in five years,” says Ellen Adler, the publisher at the New Press, a nonprofit focused on public-interest books….
…In their recent book about private equity, These Are the Plunderers, Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner recount maddening stories about KKR: how it bankrupted Toys “R” Us; gouged residents of Bayonne, New Jersey, for water and sewage; and, very recently, ran a vital provider of emergency services into the ground. If KKR’s latest deal follows a similar trajectory, Morgenson and Rosner might have a harder time documenting it. Their publisher is Simon & Schuster….
(5) DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE 2023. Noah Hawley’s Anthem is a work of genre interest among the six fiction finalists for the 2023 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Given for both fiction and nonfiction, the prize honors writers whose work uses the power of literature to foster peace, social justice, and global understanding. Each winner receives a $10,000 cash prize.
2023 Dayton Literary Peace Prize Finalists
Anthem by Noah Hawley (Grand Central Publishing)
Something grave is happening to teenagers across America. Recovering from his sister’s tragic passing, Simon breaks out of a treatment facility to join a man called “The Prophet” on a quest as urgent as it is enigmatic. Their journey becomes a rescue mission when they set off to save a woman being held captive by a man who goes by “The Wizard” in this freewheeling adventure that finds unquenchable light in the dark corners of society.
Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta by James Hannaham (Little, Brown and Company)
A trans woman, Carlotta Mercedes, reenters life on the outside after more than twenty years in a men’s prison. Set over the course of a whirlwind Fourth of July weekend, Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta follows her struggles to reconcile with the son she left behind, to reunite with a family reluctant to accept her true identity, and to avoid anything that might send her back to lockup.
Horse by Geraldine Brooks (Viking)
A discarded painting in a junk pile, a skeleton in an attic, and the greatest racehorse in American history: from these strands, a Pulitzer Prize winner braids a sweeping story of spirit, obsession, and injustice across American history. Based on the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, Horse is a novel of art and science, love and obsession, and our unfinished reckoning with racism.
Mecca by Susan Straight (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
From the National Book Award finalist Susan Straight, Mecca is a stunning epic tracing the intertwined lives of native Californians fighting for life and land. The author crafts an unforgettable American epic, examining race, history, family, and destiny. With sensitivity, furor, and a cinematic scope that captures California in all its injustice, history, and glory, she tells a story of the American West through the eyes of the people who built it—and continue to sustain it.
The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara (W. W. Norton & Company)
In an Indian village in the 1950s, a precocious child is born into a family of Dalit coconut farmers. King Rao will grow up to be the world’s most accomplished tech CEO and lead a global corporate government. King’s daughter, Athena, must reckon with his legacy—literally, for he has given her access to his memories. The Immortal King Rao obliterates the boundaries between literary and speculative fiction, the historical and the dystopian, to confront our age of technological capitalism.
The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton (Grand Central Publishing)
As devastating weather patterns wreak gradual havoc on Florida’s infrastructure, a powerful hurricane approaches a small town on the southeastern coast. Wanda, named for the terrible storm she was born into, grows up in a landscape abandoned by civilization. Moving from childhood to adulthood, Wanda loses family, gains community, and ultimately, seeks adventure, love, and purpose in a place remade by nature.
The World Uyghur Congress will host an online panel discussion featuring several award-winning and bestselling authors on Tuesday, October 17th, 2023. The date, one day before the opening of the Worldcon science fiction convention in Chengdu, China, was selected deliberately in order to draw attention to ongoing human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in East Turkistan. The United States, along with 11 parliaments and senates around the world and the independent Uyghur Tribunal have officially recognized the abuses as a genocide and a crime against humanity.
“The Chinese government wants to use Worldcon as a sort of Potemkin Village in order to showcase how futuristic and technologically advanced the country has become,” said Andrew Gillsmith, author of the bestselling novel Our Lady of the Artilects and organizer of the #WritersSupportUyghurs campaign. “Meanwhile, they are interning people in concentration camps, forcibly separating children from their families, conscripting Uyghurs into slave labour schemes, and implementing the most comprehensive and technologically sophisticated surveillance regime in history. Science fiction writers and fans have a longstanding tradition of standing for human rights. This is in the spirit of that tradition.”
The event in October will broadcast live worldwide and is expected to last 90 minutes….
“We are grateful for this support from the science fiction and literary communities,” said Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress. “Our goal is not to disrupt Worldcon but to ensure that coverage of the event includes the facts about an ongoing genocide being perpetrated by the host country.”…
Alan Moore, the comic book visionary best known for writing such revered works as “Watchmen,” “V for Vendetta” and “Batman: The Killing Joke,” revealed to The Telegraph that he is longer accepting royalty checks from DC Comics for films and television series based on his works. He’s asked the company to instead reroute these checks to Black Lives Matter.
The Telegraph asked Moore if reports were true about him taking all of the money he makes from film and TV series and dividing it among the writers and other creatives, to which the writer answered: “I no longer wish it to even be shared with them. I don’t really feel, with the recent films, that they have stood by what I assumed were their original principles. So I asked for DC Comics to send all of the money from any future TV series or films to Black Lives Matter.”…
A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to raise funds for a dedicated documentary focusing specifically on the design and development of the iconic Eagle transport spacecraft from the epic 70s sci-fi TV show “Space: 1999.” The documentary feature is called “The Eagle Has Landed” and will showcase never-before-seen archival footage. It’s set to be released in time for the 50th Anniversary of “Space: 1999” in 2025.
“‘Space: 1999’ appeared on TV a few short years after the world watched Neil Armstrong take the first steps on the moon. The show’s unforgettable Eagle inspired a generation to envision a future in space and is still doing so decades later. The question we explore is why?” said writer, director Jeffrey Morris and founder FutureDude Entertainment, the production company behind the project….
…The Eagle Has Landed explores a passionate and ongoing nostalgia for a future that never happened. This intriguing feature-length documentary follows Jeffrey Morris—a Minnesota-based filmmaker and lifelong science-fiction aficionado—as he examines the fascinating connections between art, science, culture, and the iconic Eagle spacecraft. …
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1964 — [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
So let’s talk about the publishing of Keith Laumer’s A Plague of Demons which is our Beginning this time as it’s fascinating. Especially when it got entangled with Baen Books later on.
It first was published in If in the November and December 1964 issues as The Hounds of Hells. This is not the later version known as A Plague of Demons but a shorter version.
It got its first book publication as a paperback from Berkley Medallion the next year. The cover illustration is by Richard Powers.
Penguin, Paperback Library and then Warner Paperback Library (yes Warner bought Paperback Library), then Warner Books (such for Paperback Library) and finally Pocket Books before we get to Baen Books.
And there’s Baen Books. They did three paperback editions of it and then printed it as part of A Plague of Demons and Other Stories which collected a lot of his shorter fiction, mostly novelettes. It was then offered up as part of the Baen Free Library. ISFDB says it was included as part of The 1634: The Baltic War Disk and The 1635: The Eastern Front CD-ROMs.
Now let’s not overlook as you see in a few moments that A Plague of Demons is a most amazing novel. I’ve only included the first paragraph but it’s all you need as it’s most excellent.
So here is it. Do enjoy it.
It was ten minutes past high noon when I paid off my helicab, ducked under the air blast from the caged high-speed rotors as they whined back to speed, and looked around at the sun-scalded, dust-white, mob-noisy bazaar of the trucial camp-city of Tamboula, Republic of Free Algeria. Merchants’ stalls were a slash of garish fabrics, the pastels of heaped fruit, the glitter of oriental gold thread and beadwork, the glint of polished Japanese lenses and finely-machined Swiss chromalloy, the subtle gleam of hand-rubbed wood, the brittle complexity of Hong Kong plastic – islands in the tide of humanity that elbowed, sauntered, bargained with shrill voices and waving hands, or stood idly in patches of black shadow under rigged awnings all across the wide square. I made my way through the press, shouted at by hucksters, solicited by whining beggars and tattooed drabs, jostled by UN Security Police escorting officials of a dozen nations.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 13, 1931 — Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, 92. An American author. Anthropologist, author of both fiction and non-fiction books on animal behavior, Paleolithic life, and the !Kung Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert. She was written three works of fiction two genre, Reindeer Moon and The Animal Wife and one, Certain Poor Shepherds: A Christmas Tale, a Christmas story, a folk tale and therefore at least genre adjacent.
Born September 13, 1933 — Warren Murphy. Ok, I’ll admit that I’m most likely stretching the definition of genre just a bit by including him as he’s best known for writing along with Richard Sapir the pulp Destroyer series that ran to some seventy novels and was (making it possibly genre) the basis of Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. He did a number of other series that were more definitely genre. (Died 2015.)
Born September 13, 1947 — Mike Grell, 76. He’s best known for his work on books such as Green Lantern/Green Arrow, The Warlord, and Jon Sable Freelance. The Warlord featuring Travis Morgan is a hollow Earth adventure series set in Skartaris which is a homage to Jules Verne as Grell points out “the name comes from the mountain peak Scartaris that points the way to the passage to the earth’s core in Journey to the Center of the Earth. It would be adapted by Matt Wayne for Justice League Unlimited’s “Chaos at the Earth’s Core”.
Born September 13, 1960 — Bob Eggleton, 63. He’s has been honored with the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist eight times! He was guest of honor at Chicon 2000. There’s a reasonably up to date look at his artwork, Primal Darkness: The Gothic & Horror Art of Bob Eggleton which he put together in 2010 and was published by Cartouche Press.
Born September 13, 1961 — Tom Holt, 62. Assuming you like comical fantasy, I’d recommend both Faust Among Equals and Who Afraid of Beowulf? as being well worth time. If you madly, deeply into Wagner, you’ll love Expecting Someone Taller; if not, skip it. His only two Awards are a pair of World Fantasy Awards, both for novellas, “A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong” and “Let’s Maps to Others”. And yes, I know that he also publishes under the K. J. Parker name as well but I won’t go into the works he publishes here.
Born September 13, 1974 — Fiona Avery, 49. Comic book and genre series scriptwriter. While being a reference editor on the final season of Babylon 5, she wrote “The Well of Forever” and “Patterns of the Soul” as well as two that were not produced, “Value Judgements” and “Tried and True”. After work on the Crusade series ended, she turned to comic book writing, working for Marvel and Top Cow with three spin-offs of J. Michael Straczynski’s Rising Stars being another place where her scripts were used. She created the Marvel character Anya Sofia Corazon later named Spider-girl. She did work on Tomb Raider, Spider-Man, X-Men and Witchblade as well.
…This year, the Committee has invited famous sci-fi activists such as Ben Yalow and Dave McCarty, as well as sci-fi litterateurs such as Robert Sawyer and Liu Cixin to bring a sci-fi literature feast to sci-fi fans. Meanwhile, Richard Taylor, the founder of Weta Workshop founder, who has won five Oscars for Best Visual Effects, and prominent figures in the Chinese sci-fi industry such as directors Guo Fan and Yang Lei, will attend the convention. They will engage in in-depth discussions on topics related to the fusion and development of science and technology innovation, culture, cultural tourism, and cultural creativity.
According to Liang Xiaolan, the full-time chairman of the 2023 Chengdu Worldcon and the vice president of the Chengdu Science Fiction Association, the convention will hold about 260 themed salons and parties, which are divided into eight categories: Science Fiction and Literature, Science Fiction and Art, Science Fiction and Film and TV, Science Fiction and Games (Animation), Science Fiction and Academics, Science Fiction and Technology, Science Fiction and Future, and Science Fiction and Industry. “For example, in the Science Fiction and literature section, there will be salons like Liu Cixin’s ‘A Sci-fi Reunion After 10 Years’, and Robert Sawyer’s ‘The Past, Present, and Future of Science Fiction’; In the Science Fiction and Technology section, we will discuss ‘How Far Are We From Space Travel?’ In the Science Fiction and Film and TV section, there will be a ’Sci-fi Film Special Effects Summit’; In the Science Fiction and Art section, there will be a ‘Three-Body Themed Concert’; In the Science Fiction and Games section, we will release the International Sci-fi Gaming Ranking,” Liang said….
There are scenes in both Three Rocks and The Buildings are Barking that converge for me. Toward the end of the Diane book, there’s a haunting scene where she appears to you on a sort of “ghost ferry,” and she’s beckoning to you, in a dream sequence, to come join her. It’s very powerful, very sad, very beautifully rendered, and it’s heartbreaking. And toward the end of Three Rocks you have Ernie—toward the end of his life—snoozing on his chair, and Nancy, in another dream sequence, is in some ways doing the same thing to Ernie. Calling on him to follow her.
So that’s me recognizing that parallel– or, under the reality that we’re all experiencing together, there is another reality. It’s just there. It’s there to find. Or create. In that dream sequence in Three Rocks, the conceit is that Nancy is doing this. I’m not doing this. Ernie is not. Nancy is doing this. So, I am saying something that I have said throughout the book, which is that Nancy is a powerful figure. She both represents and controls the world she is in. And Ernie’s world as well. Some people thought she was a child that Ernie and Abbie never had. That’s a little sentimentalized, but possible. And before that dream sequence, I’ve used Nancy in these transitional sections throughout the book where Nancy is taking you from the previous chapter, in effect, to the next chapter. Once again, it’s Nancy, physically, the drawing. Yes, I’m writing it, but it’s Nancy [who is doing it].
In the dream sequence, she’s just pure Nancy. To me, because there’s no writing going on until the very end. It came out of a conversation I had with [Nancy collector and producer/writer for The Simpsons] Tom Gammill, and I’ve also heard the same thing from Mark [Newgarden]. That Ernie would always say that he’s looking for “the perfect gag.” There’s always a more perfect gag that he can’t quite find. The most perfect gag ever. [Laughs] Which I think is a little bit… romanticizing. Either people who heard Ernie say it, or they themselves, romanticized it. It seems a little bit like false humility. In other words, “I’m not all that funny, I’m still looking for the perfect gag. If I ever find it, I’ll let you know.” It’s like a way of deflecting, that he’s a great cartoonist or a funny guy….
…To trace the roots of Star Trek’s replicator, it is necessary to understand that it is essentially a repurposed form of the transporter—the teleportation or matter transmission device that “beams” the crew between starship and planet surface. According to legend, the transporter was invented only because the original series lacked the budget to film special, effect-heavy scenes of planetary landing shuttles, but Star Trek did not invent the concept of matter transmission. Its first appearance in science fiction dates back at least as far as 1877, in Edward Page Mitchell’s story “The Man Without a Body,” which prefigures George Langelaan’s much better-known 1957 story “The Fly,” by having a scientist experience a teleportation mishap when his batteries die while he is only partway through a transmission, so that only his head rematerializes.
The replicator uses the same basic principle as the transporter, in which the atomic structure of a physical object is scanned and the information is used to reconstruct the object at the “receiving” end through energy-matter conversion. In practice, all transporters are replicators and matter “transmission” is a misnomer, because matter itself is not transmitted, only information. Every time Captain Kirk steps out of the transporter having “beamed up” from a planet’s surface, it is, in fact, a copy of him—the original has been disintegrated during the initial phase of the operation.
This was precisely the mechanism of teleportation explored in one of the earliest stories on this theme. In Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1910 story “Remote Projection,” an inventor finds that his teleporter is actually a replicator and ends up with 841 identical copies of himself scattered around the world. This idea anticipated the well-known Teletransporter philosophy thought experiment by British philosopher Derek Parfit, which explored questions of continuity of identity. If a transporter is actually a replicator, is the Captain Kirk that steps off the transporter pad the same as the one that was “beamed up” from the planet? If the planet-side Kirk is not disintegrated in the process, and survives the process, which of the two Kirks is the “real” one? Star Trek TNG explored this precise scenario as an ongoing story line, after an episode (“Second Chances,” 1993) featuring a transporter malfunction that results in two copies of the character Will Riker—one who materializes on board his ship and the other who is stranded on a planet. The planet-side copy eventually chooses to be known as Tom Riker….
…However, the formula for creating monumental battle scenes saw a paradigm shift as we moved into the digital age. It was no longer just about recruiting an army of extras and meticulously planning every combat move. Instead, the magic started happening in the digital realm, thanks to pioneering technology developed by New Zealand-based Weta Digital.
Enter Peter Jackson’s acclaimed Lord of the Rings trilogy, released from 2001 to 2003. With the assistance of Weta Digital’s specialised crowd-simulation software, the movies shattered all previous records by featuring battles with an unprecedented 200,000 characters. The program, sensibly named Massive, fused digital animation with early artificial intelligence to govern individual character interactions, creating a spectacle of unparalleled scale and complexity.
What sets Massive apart is its innovative use of AI, allowing each digitally-created soldier to act and react in ways that mimic real-life human behaviour – not just this, but to do it ‘independently’. By allowing the program to govern the movements, animators were spared from tailoring the movements of each of the 200,000 figures. This leap in technology generated battle scenes that were vast in scale and eerily realistic. The technology altered the very foundations of what directors considered possible, raising the bar for epic cinema to an entirely new level….
While the James Webb Space Telescope observed the atmosphere of an alien world 120 light-years away, it picked up hints of a substance only made by living things — at least, that is, on Earth.
This molecule, known as dimethyl sulfide, is primarily produced by phytoplankton, microscopic plant-like organisms in salty seas as well as freshwater.
The detection by Webb, a powerful infrared telescope in space run by NASA and the European and Canadian space agencies, is part of a new investigation into K2-18 b, an exoplanet almost nine times Earth’s mass in the constellation Leo. The study also found an abundance of carbon-bearing molecules, such as methane and carbon dioxide. This discovery bolsters previous work suggesting the distant world has a hydrogen-rich atmosphere hanging over an ocean.
Such planets believed to exist in the universe are called Hycean, combining the words “hydrogen” and “ocean.”
“This (dimethyl sulfide) molecule is unique to life on Earth: There is no other way this molecule is produced on Earth,” said astronomer Nikku Madhusudhan in a University of Cambridge video. “So it has been predicted to be a very good biosignature in exoplanets and habitable exoplanets, including Hycean worlds.”…
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The new miniseries of Star Trek: Very Short Treks continues with “Holiday Party” about a “blooper reel” that’s mostly not actually funny, which is the point.
It’s a First Contact Day celebration and Spock is in charge of the entertainment.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, JJ, Lise Andreasen, Mark Roth-Whitroth, Andrew Gillsmith, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lou.]
Michael Chabon and other decorated writers of books and screenplays sued Meta on Tuesday in California federal court in a lawsuit accusing the company of copyright infringement for harvesting mass quantities of books across the web, which were then used to produce infringing works that allegedly violate their copyrights. OpenAI was sued on Sept. 8 in an identical class action alleging the firms “benefit commercially and profit handsomely from their unauthorized and illegal” collection of the authors’ books. They seek a court order that would require the companies to destroy AI systems that were trained on copyright-protected works.
…As evidence that AI systems were fed authors’ books, the suit points to ChatGPT generating summaries and in-depth analyses of the themes in the novels when prompted. It says that’s “only possible if the underlying GPT model was trained using” their works.
“If ChatGPT is prompted to generate a writing in the style of a certain author, GPT would generate content based on patterns and connections it learned from analysis of that author’s work within its training dataset,” states the complaint, which largely borrows from the suit filed by [Paul] Tremblay.
And because the large language models can’t operate without the information extracted from the copyright-protected material, the answers that ChatGPT produces are “themselves infringing derivative works,” the lawsuit against Meta says….
(2) CHENGDU PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS. File 770 asked Chengdu Worldcon committee member Joe Yao for a list of the people who have been added as Worldcon guests since the recent offer of help went out. No names were provided, however, Yao made this statement:
We kept inviting guests from both China and abroad, and now we have about 500 guests confirmed to come. They will attend some key events including the opening ceremony, Hugo ceremony and the closing ceremony, and they will also participate in programs as either guests or speakers. My team is working closely with the overseas team on programs and we have drafted a mastersheet of the programs. It will be confirmed and released soon.
(3) BARRIERS TO TRAVEL. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki commented on Facebook about the challenges of getting a visa.
Nigerian passport & visa issues. Recently found out the Italian visa app has more requirements than US. Then I thought maybe China’s. Someone just told me that’s harder than the US’s. Germany might not give you visa even on their chancellor’s request. Is there any one that’s easy (possible) for a Nigerian?
When I was in the US, anytime Africans saw I was on a b1-b2 visa they used to be shocked out of their skulls. Like you find someone with the complete infinity gauntlet and stones. So for all these to be harder, Lol.
It’s really something to be a Nigerian that isn’t chained down and utterly grounded. Meanwhile what it took to get my US visa & the price I had to and still pay for it gifted me PTSD and damage I might never be able to afford treatment for. But hey, na me wan dream. Lol
(4) NASFIC MINUTES AVAILABLE. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] The minutes of the NASFiC WSFS Business Meeting at Pemmi-Con are now published on the WSFS Rules page here. (Scroll down to “MINUTES of the 2023 WSFS Business Meeting of the 15th NASFiC”.)
As expected, the Internet Archive this week submitted its appeal in Hachette v. Internet Archive, the closely watched copyright case involving the scanning and digital lending of library books.
In a brief notice filed with the court, IA lawyers are seeking review by the Second Circuit court of appeals in New York of the “August 11, 2023 Judgment and Permanent Injunction; the March 24, 2023 Opinion and Order Granting Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment and Denying Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment; and from any and all orders, rulings, findings, and/or conclusions adverse to Defendant Internet Archive.”
The notice of appeal comes right at the 30-day deadline—a month to the day after judge John G. Koeltl approved and entered a negotiated consent judgment in the case which declared the IA’s scanning and lending program to be copyright infringement, as well as a permanent injunction that, among its provisions, bars the IA from lending unauthorized scans of the plaintiffs’ in-copyright, commercially available books that are available in digital editions.
“As we stated when the decision was handed down in March, we believe the lower court made errors in facts and law, so we are fighting on in the face of great challenges,” reads a statement announcing the appeal on the Internet Archive website. “We know this won’t be easy, but it’s a necessary fight if we want library collections to survive in the digital age.”…
As many today try to imagine the future of our world with artificial intelligence, MIT Technology Review’s senior editor of AI, Melissa Heikkilä, speaks with Gareth Edwards, director of the upcoming sci-fi epic “The Creator,” about the current state of AI and the pitfalls and possibilities ahead as this technology marches toward sentience. The film, releasing September 29th and starring John David Washington and Gemma Chan, imagines a futuristic world where humans and AI are at war and fundamentally explores humanity’s relationship with AI, what it means to be human, and what it means to be alive.
The Board of the Society voted [September 11] for its new leadership & Executive Committee effective immediately:
President & Chairman: Ken Walters
Vice President: Walt Boyes
Treasurer: Geo Rule
Secretary: Betsey Wilcox
Congratulations to all of them!
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 12, 1897 — Walter B. Gibson. Writer and professional magician who’s best known for his work creating and being the first and main writer of the pulp character The Shadow with The Living Shadow published by Street & Smith Publications in 1933 being the first one. Using the pen-name Maxwell Grant, he wrote 285 of the 325 Shadow stories published by Street & Smith in The Shadow magazine of the Thirties and Forties. He also wrote a Batman prose story which appeared in Detective Comics #500 and was drawn by Thomas Yeates. (Died 1985.)
Born September 12, 1921 — Stanisław Lem. He’s best known for Solaris, which has been made into a film three times. The latest film made off a work of his is the 2018 His Master’s Voice (Glos Pana In Polish). The usual suspects have generous collections of his translated into English works at quite reasonable prices. (Died 2006.)
Born September 12, 1940 — John Clute, 83. Critic, one of the founders of Interzone (which I avidly read) and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (with Peter Nicholls) and of the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (with John Grant) as well as writing the Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction. All of these publications won Hugo Awards for Best Non-Fiction. And I’d be remiss not to single out for praise The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror which is simply a superb work.
Born September 12, 1942 — Charles L. Grant. A writer who said he was best at what he called “dark fantasy” and “quiet horror”. Nightmare Seasons, a collection of novellas, won a World Fantasy Award, while the “A Crowd of Shadows” short garnered a Nebula as did “A Glow of Candles, a Unicorn’s Eye” novella. “Temperature Days on Hawthorne Street” story would become the Tales from the Darkside episode “The Milkman Cometh”. Both iBooks and Kindle have decent but not outstanding selections of his works including a few works of Oxrun Station, his core horror series. (Died 2006.)
Born September 12, 1952 — Kathryn Anne Ptacek, 71. Widow of Charles L. Grant. She has won two Stoker Awards. If you’re into horror. Her Gila! novel is a classic of that genre, and No Birds Sings is an excellent collection of her short stories. Both are available from the usual suspects. She is the editor and publisher of the writers-market magazine The Gila Queen’s Guide to Markets.
Born September 12, 1952 — Neil Peart. Drummer and primary lyricist for the prog-rock, power-trio band Rush. Neil incorporated science fiction and fantasy elements into many of Rush’s songs. An early example is “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” from the Album “Fly By Night”. The entire first side of the 2112 album (back when albums had sides) was the 2112 suite telling the dystopian story of a man living in a society where individualism and creativity are outlawed. Neil is a genre author having co-written The Clockwork Angels series with Kevin J. Anderson. (Died of glioblastoma, 2020.) (Dann Todd)
Born September 12, 1965 — Robert T. Jeschonek, 58. Writer for my purposes of both genre and mysteries. He’s written short fiction set in the Trek universe. He’s also written fiction set in the Battletech, Captain Midnight, Deathlands, Doctor Who, Starbarian Saga and Tannhauser universes. We really need a concordance to all these media universes. Really we do.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Candorvilleis where an author claims to focus on the positive. But does he?
(11) WESTERCON 75 ANNOUNCEMENT. Arlene Busby, chair of the cancelled Westercon 75, announced today that all membership refunds have been issued. Also, the transfers have been completed for all those members who requested that their membership monies be transfer to Loscon 49.
Similarly, refunds have been issued to all Dealers who requested them. And transfers have been completed for Dealers who requested their fees be transferred to Loscon 49.
Busby adds, “We thank everyone for their support and patience in getting all these transactions processed. If you have any questions please contact me at [email protected].”
(12) TREK THEME PERFORMED IN CHINA. From the Beijing Star Trek Day event mentioned in the September 9 Scroll comes this a video of the Michael Giacchino Star Trek theme performed on traditional Chinese instruments – see it on Weibo
Beginning with the 2025 awards, which opens for submissions in spring 2024, the Pulitzer Prize board has changed the eligibility requirements for the books, drama and music awards to include “US citizens, permanent residents of the United States,” and authors for whom “the United States has been their longtime primary home.” Previously, only US citizens were eligible for the awards, with the exception of authors of history books, who could be of any nationality if their book was about US history. “For the sake of consistency,” the prize board said, history books must be written by US authors according to the new guidelines.
Books still must be “originally published in English in the United States.”
…The intricately made starfighter brought millions of people along for the ride as a group of plucky Rebel pilots assaulted the Death Star. Now the Star Wars scale model is being sold at auction, with bids starting at $400,000.
The “Red Leader” (Red One) X-wing Starfighter from 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope is “the pinnacle of Star Wars artifacts to ever reach the market,” says Heritage Auctions, which is handling the sale as part of a trove of science fiction props, miniatures and memorabilia.
The X-wing tops the auction list, but it’s far, far from alone: It was found in the expansive collection of Greg Jein, an expert craftsman who was as skilled at bringing futuristic stories to life as he was devoted to preserving the models and props used to bring strange new worlds to TV and film.
…More than 550 items from Jein’s collection are now heading to auction, from Nichelle Nichols’ iconic knee-high boots and red tunic as Lt. Uhura to Leonard Nimoy’s pointy ears as Spock. A hairpiece for William Shatner’s Captain Kirk and Lt. Sulu’s golden tunic are also up for sale….
(15) IN THE SPIRIT OF PHILIP K. DICK. A discussion with 81st Worldcon Chair He Xi and multidisciplinary sci-fi artist Yin Guang, “HUGO X: 2”, a Chengdu Worldcon Talkshow, closes with the jolly speculation that carbon-based life will be the scaffolding for silicon-based life – artificial intelligence – and when that building is built, “you’ll be torn down.”
[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Kevin Standlee, Ersatz Culture, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]
(1) USE THESE EMAILS FOR SUBMISSIONS TO WSFS BUSINESS MEETING. Donald Eastlake III, Presiding Officer of the 2023 WSFS Business Meeting, announced that if anyone is having trouble sending email to businessmeeting (at) chengduworldcon.com, there is an alternative email address available for the submission of new business: ChengduNewBusiness (at) pobox.com.
The general deadline for new business is September 19, Chengdu time.
(2) GET IA TO TAKE DOWN YOUR BOOKS. From the Authors Guild: “Update: How to Tell Internet Archive to Remove Your Books”. “The court’s decision in the Open Library lawsuit made it clear that making full-text copyrighted books available for free without permission is copyright infringement. Here’s how any author can demand the Internet Archive take down any titles that are still on its website.”
In March, four major publishers scored a resounding victory in their copyright lawsuit against Internet Archive and its so-called Open Library program. The court decisively ruled that Internet Archive’s practice of scanning books and making them freely available on its website is copyright infringement and does not constitute fair use. While the Authors Guild was not a party to the lawsuit, we supported the publishers throughout the litigation and welcomed the court’s clear rejection of Internet Archive’s “Controlled Digital Lending” theory.
Following the decision, the court directed the parties to propose specific steps that Internet Archive must take to remedy its infringement. The parties agreed, in a proposed consent judgment, that Internet Archive should be subject to a permanent court-ordered injunction barring it from making the publishers’ books available online. We have heard from some authors who are concerned that the injunction is limited to books in which the four publisher plaintiffs hold copyrights and does not cover books whose copyrights are owned by the author or a smaller publisher. Unfortunately, this case was not a class action, and therefore only the actual parties in the case can be bound by the court’s order. We were surprised and disappointed, however, that the court adopted Internet Archive’s proposal to limit the injunction to books that the publishers have made available in electronic form. As we explained, limiting the injunction in this way fails to recognize that the author has the right to decide in what formats they wish to make their books available, and that the market for a print book can be harmed by an unauthorized electronic edition as easily as the market for an ebook can.
But regardless of the scope of the injunction, the court’s decision on the main legal issue remains in place: Making full-text copyrighted books available for free on the open internet without permission is copyright infringement. That is just as true for books owned by self-published authors and micro publishers as it is for the books owned by the publishers in this case.
We therefore expect Internet Archive to comply with demands by authors who hold copyrights in their books (e.g., self-published authors and where rights are reverted) to take down any titles that are still on its website….
A model takedown letter and full directions are at the link.
Singer, story teller and seven-times Radio 2 Folk Awards winner, Karine Polwart brings together her love of science, history and the natural world.
Karine looks up into the dark for a story of discovery, diversity and the righting of a historical wrong.
When young geologist turned planetary scientist Annie Lennox surveyed the night sky of her Aberdeenshire home, little did she realise that one day she’d be giving names to landmarks on our closest neighbours in the solar system. In 2021, while studying for her PhD, Annie discovered an enormous 50km wide crater near Mercury’s southern pole. An area that had never been seen in sunlight until until the Messenger mission of 2015.
The crater’s distinctive spectral colour and shape caught her eye. As the first person to see it, Annie has the honour of naming it. An accomplished singer and harpist, Annie named it ‘Nairne’ after the 17th-century Scottish poet and songwriter Lady Carolina Nairne.
All the craters of Mercury are named after famous artists, Burns and Pushkin are there along with Bach and Boccaccio. And it was this dominance of white men that Annie wanted to challenge. The International Atstonomical Union’s naming conventions around new discoveries have proven themselves inherently sexist and exclusionary and Annie felt compelled to do waht she could to rebalance it. In her lifetime, Lady Carolina Nairne was responsible for such staples of Scottish folk singing as ‘Charlie is my darlin’ and ‘Caller Herrin’, yet she’s largely unknown, publishing much of her work anonymously or under pseudonyms. Now there is a corner of the universe that will forever be a testament to her talents.
…A bugaboo I discovered when I began collecting the books published by the otherwise exemplary Haikasoru imprint has to do with the orientation of the book’s title on the spine of the book with respect to the text inside the book. In short, if the title on the spine is right way up, I expect the words on the page to be right way up when I open the book. Opening the text to discover I am holding it upside down kicks me out of the reading experience. Haikasoru eventually stopped orienting their titles in an idiosyncratic way, yay…but until then it was a distraction.
Don’t let that stop you from running out and buying every book in the Haikasoru line. The works themselves earned their places on my shelves….
Award-winning indie publisher Levine Querido is hosting an auction to stay open as book banning takes a toll on publishers. Unfortunately, Levine Querido is exactly the type of publisher most likely to be badly impacted by the rise of book banning across the United States. This isn’t only because it’s an independent publisher with less support and resources than major publishers like HarperCollins or Penguin Random House. It also has to do with the kinds of books LQ specializes in, which feature marginalized writers and artists….
…Now the government is proposing amendments to a law that could result in detention and fines for “wearing clothing or bearing symbols in public that are detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese people and hurt the feelings of Chinese people.” What could be construed as an offense wasn’t specified.
The plan has been widely criticized, with Chinese legal scholars, journalists and businesspeople voicing their concerns over the past week. If it goes into effect, they argue, it could give the authorities the power to police anything they dislike. It would also be a big step backward in the public’s relationship with the government.
Under the rule of China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, the government has been fixated on control — how people think, what they say online and now, what they wear.
In July, an older man on a bus berated a young woman, on her way to a cosplay exposition — where people dress up as a characters from movies, books, TV shows and video games — for wearing a costume that could be considered Japanese style. A security guard at a shopping mall last month turned away a man who was dressed like a samurai. Last year, the police in the eastern city of Suzhou temporarily detained a woman for wearing a kimono.
These episodes were related to anti-Japanese sentiment instigated by the Chinese government. But the confrontations go beyond that.
Last month in Beijing, security guards cracking down on expressions of gay pride stopped people dressed in rainbow-themed clothes from entering a concert featuring the Taiwanese singer Zhang Huimei, better known as A-Mei. Also in August, people filed complaints about a concert by the Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai because her fans displayed rainbow lights and some of the male fans dressed in what was described as “flamboyant” female clothing. Just last week the police in Shenzhen scolded a man who was livestreaming in a miniskirt. “A man wearing a skirt in public, do you think you’re positive energy?!” the police yelled at the man.
If the proposed amendments, which are open to public comment until Sept. 30, are approved by the national legislature, such incidents could result in fines of up to $680 and up to 15 days in police custody.
“The morality police is on the verge of coming out,” a lawyer named Guo Hui wrote on Weibo. “Do you think you can still make fun of Iran and Afghanistan?” People posted photos last week of Iranian and Afghan women wearing miniskirts and other Western-style clothes in the 1970s, before their countries were taken over by autocratic religious rulers.
Many people are concerned that the proposal doesn’t specify what would constitute an offense. The language it uses — clothing or symbols that are “detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese nation and hurt the feelings of the Chinese people” — tracks expressions the foreign ministry and official media use to voice their displeasure at Western countries and people. No one knows exactly what they mean.
Without a clear definition, enforcement of the law would be subject to the interpretation of individual officers….
(7) LOSCON 49 SPECIAL GUEST. Loscon 49 welcomes Robert J Sawyer as a Special Guest. The convention will be held at the LAX Marriott from November 24-26.
Rob is one of only eight writers in history — and the only Canadian — to win all three of the world’s top Science Fiction awards for best novel of the year: the Hugo, the Nebula, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. A prolific author, his most recent release is The Oppenheimer Alternative.
(8) DISNEY’S LATEST WAY TO EMPTY YOUR WALLET (OR MAYBE YOUR BANK ACCOUNT). [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Disney has announced they are releasing a Blu-ray + digital box set of 100 films. What’s the price, you ask? Well, if you ask, maybe you can’t afford it. Pre-orders start at Walmart.com later this month at a cool $1,500. “Disney will release a 100-film Blu-ray collection that includes Pixar movies” at The Verge.
Disney is releasing a 100-film Blu-ray collection on November 14th called the Disney Legacy Animated Film Collection (via The Wrap). Preorders will start on September 18th at Walmart.com, and we regret to inform you it will cost $1,500, according to The Wrap.
The collection includes movies from both Disney and Pixar, all crammed into three volumes of discs that span Disney’s entire feature film history from 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to this year’s Elemental.
What’s really impressive is how little filler this package seems to have. Scrolling through the list that The Wrap published, it has every single movie I’d have wanted to see, like all of the Toy Story movies, both of The Incredibles, The Black Cauldron, Frankenweenie, and Robin Hood, but very few of the mediocre direct-to-video snoozers the company produced so many of over the years…
Born September 11, 1856 — Richard Ganthony. Playwright of A Message from Mars: A Story Founded on the Popular Play by Richard Ganthony which is a genre version of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. Really, it is. Published in 1912, it was filmed twice, both times as A Message from Mars (1913 and 1921) and I’m assuming as silent movies given their dates. It would be novelized by Lester Lurgan. (Died 1924.)
Born September 11, 1929 — Björn Nyberg. A Swedish writer known largely for his Conan stories which given that he wrote just one non-Conan story makes sense. His first book in the series was The Return of Conan which was revised for publication by L. Sprague de Camp. Likewise, they later did Conan the Avenger, Conan the Victorious, Conan the Swordsman and Sagas of Conan. The latter two are available at the usual suspects. (Died 2009.)
Born September 11, 1930 — Jean-Claude Forest. He became famous when he created Barbarella, which was originally published in France in V Magazine in 1962. In 1967 it was adapted by Terry Southern and Roger Vadim and made into 1968 film of that name featuring Jane Fonda, with him acting as design consultant. It was considered an adult comic by the standards of the time. (Died 1998.)
Born September 11, 1941 — Kirby McCauley. Literary agent and editor, who as the former who represented authors such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin and Roger Zelazny. And McCauley chaired the first World Fantasy Convention, an event he conceived with T. E. D. Klein and several others. As Editor, his works include Night Chills: Stories of Suspense,Frights, Frights 2, and Night Chills. (Died 2014.)
Born September 11, 1951 — Michael Goodwin, 72. Ahhh — Alan Dean Foster’s Commonwealth series. I know that I’ve read at least a half dozen of the novels there and really enjoyed them, so it doesn’t surprise that someone wrote a guide to it which is how we have Goodwin’s (with Robert Teague) A Guide to the Commonwealth: The Official Guide to Alan Dean Foster’s Humanx Commonwealth Universe. Unfortunately, like so many of these guides, it was done once and never updated.
Born September 11, 1952 — Sharon Lee, 71. She is the co-author with Steve Miller of the Liaden universe novels and stories which are quite excellent reading with the latest being Neogenesis. The authors have won Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for lifetime contributions to science fiction, and The Golden Duck (the Hal Clement Young Adult Award) for their Balance of Trade novel. They are deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects.
Born September 11, 1965 — Catriona (Cat) Sparks, 58. She’s manager and editor of Agog! Press with her partner, Australian horror writer Rob Hood. Winner of an astounding sixteen Ditmar Awards for writing, editing and artwork, her most recent in 2021 for Best Collected Work for Dark Harvest. She also collected one for The 21st Century Catastrophe: Hyper-capitalism and Severe Climate Change in Science Fiction. She has just one novel to date, Lotus Blue, but has an amazing amount of short stories which are quite stellar. Lotus Blue and The Bride Price are both available at the usual suspects.
Born September 11, 1970 — Colson Whitehead, 53. Winner of the Arthur Clarke C. Award for The Underground Railroad. Genre wise, he’s not a prolific writer, he’s written but two other such works, The Intuitionists and Zone One. He’s written but one piece of short genre fiction, “The Wooden Mallet”. However he’s written seven other works including John Henry Dayswhich is a really interesting look at that legend, mostly set at a contemporary festival.
(10) IT PAYS TO PAY ATTENTION. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Even when it’s not something plot-essential, a lot can go by if you aren’t listening carefully (and know the territory).
Here’s an addition to the two callouts I caught in the final two episodes of The Flash (see Item 10 in the June 17, 2023 scroll)…
In the trailer for Gen V, the upcoming spinoff of The Boys, as potential supers (in a looks-like-Professor X’s School for Mutants) suggest power-related names, one student suggests “Coagula”. Which is the cape-name (or whatever we call these) of one of the late Rachel Pollack’s characters for her run on DC’s The Doom Patrol comics (after Grant Morrison’s run). (Here’s Coagula’s Wikipedia entry.)
In celebration of “Star Trek Day,” Scott Mescudi, AKA Kid Cudi, is joining forces with Star Trek in a one-of-a-kind collaboration reflecting the “optimistic and inclusive spirit of adventure, discovery, imagination, and most importantly, hope, at the heart of the cultural phenomenon.” The collaboration will launch Star Trek’s new “Boldly Be” campaign.
Mescudi lends his lens to music with an original song inspired by Star Trek, an interactive gaming component, and a bold fashion collaboration that will launch in October. More details will be announced later….
It’s not often that the jaws of Wall Street analysts drop to the floor but late last month it happened: Nvidia, a company that makes computer chips, issued sales figures that blew the street’s collective mind. It had pulled in $13.5bn in revenue in the last quarter, which was at least $2bn more than the aforementioned financial geniuses had predicted. Suddenly, the surge in the company’s share price in May that had turned it into a trillion-dollar company made sense.
Well, up to a point, anyway. But how had a company that since 1998 – when it released the revolutionary Riva TNT video and graphics accelerator chip – had been the lodestone of gamers become worth a trillion dollars, almost overnight? The answer, oddly enough, can be found in the folk wisdom that emerged in the California gold rush of the mid-19th century, when it became clear that while few prospectors made fortunes panning for gold, the suppliers who sold them picks and shovels prospered nicely.
We’re now in another gold rush – this time centred on artificial intelligence (AI) – and Nvidia’s A100 and H100 graphical processing units (GPUs) are the picks and shovels. Immediately, everyone wants them – not just tech companies but also petro states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Thus demand wildly exceeds supply. And just to make the squeeze really exquisite, Nvidia had astutely prebooked scarce (4-nanometre) production capacity at the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the only chip-fabrication outfit in the world that can make them, when demand was slack during the Covid-19 pandemic. So, for the time being at least, if you want to get into the AI business, you need Nvidia GPUs….
…“They had AI do my versions of Disney characters!” he exclaimed in response. “I can’t describe the feeling it gives you. It reminded me of when other cultures say, ‘Don’t take my picture because it is taking away your soul.’”
Some of the AI-generated examples included Elsa from Frozen with a pale white face and wearing a black dress while standing in what appeared to be a haunted forest, as well as Aurora from Sleeping Beauty with a similar colored face but with stitches across her cheeks and lying in a long, dark dress.
While Burton acknowledged that some of the creations were “very good,” it didn’t take away from the less-than-enjoyable feeling he got from seeing his creative style imitated.
“What it does is it sucks something from you,” he explained. “It takes something from your soul or psyche; that is very disturbing, especially if it has to do with you. It’s like a robot taking your humanity, your soul.”…
Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro isn’t much worried about artificial intelligence and its impact on making entertainment content.
It’s people that keep him up at night, evidently. “People ask if I’m worried about artificial intelligence, I say I’m worried about natural stupidity. It’s just a tool, right?” the Pinocchio and Shape of Water director said during a keynote address at the Toronto Film Festival on Friday.
“If anyone wants movies made by AI, let them get it immediately. I don’t care about people who want to be fulfilled and get something shitty, quickly,” he said, arguing that AI would succeed or die based on what people did with it creatively to bring a personal vision to a screen.
“Otherwise, why not buy a printer, print the Mona Lisa and say you made it,” del Toro said during his appearance in Toronto, which was part of the TIFF Visionaries program sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter….
(15) A GIF TO HUMANITY. Here’s a Godzilla teaser. You can watch the complete commercial on Facebook.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. J. Michael Straczynski pointed Facebook followers to this is a dramatization of the Amazing Spider-man #36 that is about the terrorist attacks in New York on 9/11/2001: The Black Issue 9/11.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Steven French, William S. Higgins, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]