(1) GOT THAT RIGHT. Fast Company’s Jeff Beer points out “Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’ is dangerously close to becoming ‘Sponsored Things’”.
We’re mere days away from the Stranger Things season three debut, and it feels like we’ve already hit Peak Brand Tie-In for the show, culminating in this senseless Cubs business. It’s actually a pleasant surprise the team didn’t go full Nostalgia Things and reissue 1985 caps and shirts, since just about every other brand has been using the 1985-ness of it all as the foundation of the entire marketing exercise. Throwback Mongoose BMX bike? Check. Nike Hawkins High School sweats? Check. New Coke? Big time check.
(2) STERLING AND PLATT AND MERCER, OH MY! David Langford has added three more free ebooks to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund site. Download, and feel free to donate something to the fund!
- The Complete Cheap Truth by “Vincent Omniaveritas” (Bruce Sterling)
Bruce Sterling donned his unsecret identity of Vincent Omniaveritas to publish the 1980s “samizdat” fanzine Cheap Truth, whose 18 issues engaged in much shit-kicking denunciation of fuddy-duddy old SF/fantasy and praise of radical new stuff (or sometimes vice-versa) in those days when the genre’s Cyberpunk and Humanist cliques were supposed to be deadly rivals. Subversive and fun, Cheap Truth was explicitly not copyrighted and so has been assembled into an Ansible Editions ebook without any tiresome formality about asking permission.
- The Complete Patchin Review, Charles Platt (editor)
The Patchin Review ran for seven issues from 1981 to 1985 and generated much controversy in the SF community with its no-holds-barred criticism, satire, examination of dubious publishing practices, exuberant “Gabby Snitch” gossip column and numerous polemics – both signed and pseudonymous. As its title indicates, this ebook contains the complete run – plus two bonus articles by Charles Platt that appeared elsewhere.
- The Meadows of Fantasy by Archie Mercer.
The Meadows of Fantasy was first published in traditional duplicated fanzine format in 1965. …Archie Mercer (1925-1998) was a prolific fanzine publisher in the 1950s and 1960s, and the second winner of the UK Doc Weir Award for general contributions to the fan scene. Publications and other achievements are listed in his Fancyclopedia 3 entry.
The Meadows of Fantasy is not a fan allegory like The Enchanted Duplicator but a light humorous novel set against the general background of 1960s British science fiction fandom. One character echoes the author’s fondness for variously excruciating puns. Although Dungeons and Dragons had yet to be launched, role-playing games – in storytelling rather than dice-throwing mode – had considerable popularity in 1960s fandom:
(3) DAY OF RAGE. Sarah Gailey wrote some tweets that caught the eyes of those on the other end of the political spectrum.
(Read “JynErso’s” email to the Hugo Awards here.)
Bounding Into Comics is working hard to make this a kerfuffle: “Tor Books Blogger Sarah Gailey Calls For Violence and Murder After Reporter Andy Ngo Attacked by Antifa”.
Tor Books blogger and the author of Magic for Liars and the American Hippo Sarah Gailey called for violence and murder following the attack on reporter Andy Ngo by members of Antifa.
Gailey in a number of now-deleted tweets called for not only violence against those opposing Antifa, but also called for murder….
(4) HALF OF THE BEST. [Item by Dann.] This is Petrik Leo’s “best of the year so far” lists. I found it interesting as I have read from three of the series listed. I’ve heard of several more. And it includes three self-published works.
I had not had a chance to read any of the books in Mark Lawrence’s Book of the Ancestor series. But I’ve heard consistently good things about it. So I plowed through all three books in the last couple of weeks. It’s a shame that this series isn’t getting more discussion on the awards circuit. The first two books were Goodreads nominees, but that’s about it.
So there you have it. It’s quite crazy that my best book of the year so far was actually the third book that I finished this year. Honestly speaking though, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that The Sword of Kaigen [by M.L. Wang] is my book of the year so far, I don’t even know if I’ll find a book better than it for the remaining of this year. I’ve been praising and shouting about this book non-stop across all my social media platform for the past six months and I will continue to do so.
(5) HAWKING MEDAL. Brian Eno was among those who received the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication in June. Ansible adds, “And asteroid 81948 has been given his full name, Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, but mercifully will be called Eno for short.” (“Brian Eno gets asteroid named after him, receives Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication” at Consequence of Sound.)
On Monday, Eno attended the prestigious science festival Starmus V, where he was presented with the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication. The Here Come the Warm Jets mastermind received the award celebrating popular science at an international level alongside this year’s other recipients: Elon Musk and Todd Douglas Miller’s new documentary film, Apollo 11.
(6) MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRIC. Sarah Lazarus, in “Obituaries for the Recently Canceled” at McSweeney’s, has advice for people who have been cancelled by the Internet. For example —
Following a long battle in defense of a controversial Facebook post, Meredith Van Dorn, 20, finally succumbed to cancellation at her home on Thursday night. Ms. Van Dorn was surrounded by friends and loved ones who, upon her cancellation, insisted they always had kind of a weird feeling about her, actually. Ms. Van Dorn’s parents, Peter and Linda, would like their daughter to be remembered for her sweet smile and love of dancing, rather than her provocative feelings about Japanese toilets.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born July 1, 1891 — Otis Adelbert Kline. Early pulp writer and literary agent whose great claim to fame was a possibly apocryphal feud with fellow author Edgar Rice Burroughs, in which he supposedly raised the latter’s anger by producing close imitations of Burroughs’s Mars novels. Wollheim and Moskowitz would believe in it, Lupoff did not. (Died 1945.)
- Born July 1, 1934 — Jean Marsh, 85. She was married to Jon Pertwee but it was before either were involved in Dr. Who. She first appeared alongside The First Doctor in “The Crusade” as Lady Joanna, the sister of Richard I (The Lionheart). She returned later that year as companion Sara Kingdom in “The Daleks’ Master Plan”. And she’d return yet again during the time of the Seventh Doctor in “Battlefield” as Morgana Le Fay. She’s also in Unearthly Stranger Dark Places, Return to Oz, Willow as Queen Bavmorda and The Changeling.
- Born July 1, 1935 — David Prowse, 84. The physical embodiment of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Ok, it’s been a very long time since I saw Casino Royale but what was Frankenstein’s Creation doing there, the character he played in his first ever role? That he played that role in The Horror of Frankenstein and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Hammer Films a few later surprises me not. He shows up in Gilliam’s Jabberwocky according to IMDB as Red Herring and Black Knights (and no I’ve no idea what that means). Finally he’s the executioner in The People That Time Forgot, a film that’s very loosely based off of several Burroughs novels.
- Born July 1, 1939 — Karen Black. Her first foray into genre was playing three characters in Trilogy of Terror based on short stories by Richard Matheson. Later films were Killer Fish, The Last Horror Film (an uncredited role since credited), Invaders from Mars (really stinker of a film), It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive, The Invisible Kid, Zapped Again!, Evil Spirits, Children of the Night (errr, no), Dark Blood, Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (no, no, no), Dinosaur Valley Girls (it’s a soft core porn film), Teknolust, Light Speed and a lot more. (Died 2013.)
- Born July 1, 1952 — Dan Aykroyd, 67. Though best known as Dr. Raymond Stantz in the original Ghostbusters films (which he wrote with Harold Raimis), he actually shows up a year earlier in his first genre role in Twilight Zone: The Movie as Passenger / Ambulance Driver. He’s reprising his role in Ghostbusters 2020.
- Born July 1, 1955 — Robby the Robot, age, well, sixty four years.Yes this is this official birthday of the robot in Forbidden Planet which debuted a year later. He would later be seen is such films and series as The Invisible Boy,Invasion of the Neptune Men, The Twilight Zone, Lost In Space, The Addams Family, Wonder Woman and Gremlins. He was also featured in a 2006 commercial for AT&T.
- Born July 1, 1962 — Andre Braugher, 57. He’s got the voice of Darkseid in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse which is why he makes the Birthday list. If there’s ever proof that a great voice actor can make an animated role, this is it. It’s also a superb film. His other major genre role is as General George W. Mancheck in The Andromeda Strain series that originally aired on A&E.
- Born July 1, 1964 — Charles Coleman Finlay, 55. Editor for past five years of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The Traitor to the Crown series is best known work.
- Born July 1, 1965 — Kevin J. Maroney, 54. He’s a long-time fan who’s the managing editor of The New York Review of Science Fiction. In the latter capacity, he has received fourteen nominations for the Best Semiprozine Hugo: 1997-2009, 2012.
- Born July 1, 1967 — Pamela Anderson, 52. Yes, she makes the Birthday list for being the character named Barb Wire in the Barb Wire film which in turn was based on a Dark Horse series that never should’ve been filmed. And yes I’ve seen it — she really deserved the Worst New Star Award she got from The Golden Raspberry Awards. Other than appearing on Futurama, that’s it for her genre credits.
- Born July 1, 1981 — Genevieve Valentine, 38. Author of the superb Persona series and also she scripted a Catwoman series, working with artists Garry Brown and David Messina. Her first novel, Mechanique: A tale of the Circus Tresaulti, won the Crawford Award for a first fantasy novel.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Today’s Non Sequitur takes up the issue of anti-science-fiction snobbery.
(9) WAKANDA. “The Goal Is To Feel Strong, Says ‘Black Panther’ Jewelry Designer” – read the NPR interview.
Douriean Fletcher is Marvel Comics’ first licensed jewelry maker. She’s behind the powerful adornments worn by the women of Wakanda in Black Panther, which helped pull audiences into an imagined world where power and societal roles are based on expertise and ability. On Sunday, she’s giving a talk at the National Museum of Women in the Arts about the aesthetics of gender equity in Wakandan society.
On one of her favorite pieces from Black Panther:
It is the piece at the scene at the very end of the film, Black Panther, and then it also makes another appearance at the very end of Avengers which was exciting for me because I didn’t know that it was going to be filmed. When I saw it in the theater, I screamed because I was so excited.
Black Panther costume designer Ruth Carter “really wanted something that was very, very strong,” Fletcher says of the necklace she designed for Angela Bassett’s character, Ramonda.
(10) MYTHCON 50. Book ‘em, Danno.
The second Progress Report for Mythcon 50 is now live on the website; it includes essential updates and reminders, especially the July 15 deadline for purchasing Room & Board packages for those staying on campus, the Commuter Dinner Package for those staying elsewhere but who would like to join us for Friday & Saturday night dinner and the Sunday evening banquet, and stand-alone banquet tickets for those not resident on campus who don’t want the Friday & Saturday cafeteria dinners.
(11) ONE LAST LANDING. The July/August 2019 issue of MIT Technology Review magazine is all about space — missions, methods and more, including tether and catapult launchers. One of the articles is provocatively titled “What Neil Armstrong got wrong”.
Fifty years after Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, it’s hard not to conclude that he got things backwards. The moon landing was a giant leap for a man—Armstrong’s life was forever changed—but, in hindsight, only a small step for mankind….
(12) WRITER AT WORK. Who’s in charge of the book, you or the kaiju? Show the monster whenever you want! Max Florschutz says that and much more in “’Being a Better Writer: Summer of Cliche Writing Advice!’ Announcement” at Unusual Things.
Simply put, have you ever heard any cliche writing advice? Something that’s short and pithy and sort of correct but not entirely? Like “always show the monster last” or “show, don’t tell?”
You know, the kind of thing that comes out of the woodwork the moment anyone says they’re thinking of writing a book or working on a short story. The kind of stuff people who are not writers can repeat in quick sound bites to sound knowledgeable.
There’s a plethora of this stuff out there. In fact, that’s what gave me the idea of doing a themed BaBW series for the summer. A writing chat I hang out on was discussing how a lot of this advice is fairly pithy and usually weak … but contained a grain of truth.
“Show the monster last” for example. There are actually some circumstances where this statement makes sense. There’s a line of logic to it. But the problem is that, like many sayings, the actual context around it has been lost over time, and what we’re left with is a single, short line that doesn’t have any of that context and suddenly can be just as unhelpful as it is helpful. After all, there are plenty of instances where you won’t want to show the monster last.
(13) BREAK’S OVER. Mad Genius Club’s Dave Freer is back from hiatus, and he’s not wearing those spurs for no reason – listen to him tell you about the books he wants to write: “Back in the saddle”.
Another was a somewhat satirical take on SJW and the inevitable collision with real life that happens when those of genuine conviction go and try actually help the people they believe need it (and these people exist, and always have – my grandmother was a missionary’s daughter, and I read a few of the letters her father wrote. I’ve also had a fair bit to do with the volunteers clearing a particularly nasty invasive thorn from the outer island. It’s physical, often painful and involves lots of ‘evil’ modern machinery and poisons. They may be batty… but they’re each worth fifty of the typical upper-middle class urban white woman who rants about the cause de jour on twitter. They are a very different beast to the current virtue-signaling herd-follower who never ACTUALLY physically did anything to help the designated victims). The ‘victims’ of course are also nothing like the straw-man poor little usually brown people patronized to your standard issue SJW.
(14) SJWCS VS AI. Meanwhile, if you don’t really want your cat bringing you little gifts of dead things — “Cat flap uses AI to punish pet’s killer instincts”.
A cat flap that automatically bars entry to a pet if it tries to enter with prey in its jaws has been built as a DIY project by an Amazon employee.
Ben Hamm used machine-learning software to train a system to recognise when his cat Metric was approaching with a rodent or bird in its mouth.
When it detected such an attack, he said, a computer attached to the flap’s lock triggered a 15-minute shut-out.
…The process took advantage of a technique called supervised learning, in which a computer is trained to recognise patterns in images or other supplied data via labels given to the examples. The idea is that once the system has enough examples to work off, it can apply the same labels itself to new cases.
One of the limitations of the technique is that hundreds of thousands or even millions of examples are sometimes needed to make such systems trustworthy.
Mr Hamm acknowledged that in this case the results were not 100% accurate.
Over a five-week period, he recalled, Metric was unfairly locked out once. In addition, the cat was also able to gain entry once out of the seven times it had caught a victim.
(15) FANDOM CIRCA 1940. Someone’s doing her research:
(16) WARM UP THE POPCORN. ScreenRant invites you to step inside the “Avengers: Endgame Re-Release Pitch Meeting.”
Avengers Endgame had one of the best theatrical runs in the history of cinema. But not quite… THE best. In a pretty transparent attempt to dethrone James Cameron’s Avatar as the highest grossing movie of all time, Marvel decided to re-release Endgame in theatres with a little bonus content to try and entice people to see it again. But is an intro from the director enough to get people to come out? What about a deleted Hulk scene? Did they include a Stan Lee tribute just to try and tug us by the heartstrings all the way to the movies? Do they really think people will pay for a movie ticket just to see a few minutes from Spider-Man: Far From Home which is set for release a week after the Endgame re-release? To answer all these questions and more, step inside the pitch meeting that led to the Avengers Endgame Re-release! It’s super easy, barely an inconvenience!
[Thanks to Dann, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Rich Horton, Andrew Porter, Own Whiteoak, John King Tarpinian, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Carl Slaughter. Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]