You know that phrase “putting the world in Worldcon”? The first step toward that utopian goal was the London Worldcon of 1957. You can learn all about the con and the kerfuffles in Rob Hansen’s 1957: The First UK Worldcon, the latest addition to TAFF’s library of free downloads.
The 65,000-word book, compiled from contemporaneous participants’ own words, is available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they also hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund. Find it here.
From Rob Hansen’s Foreword
So why the 1957 Worldcon? Because it was a singularly significant and important event in the history of fandom. Not only was it the first Worldcon to be held outside North America, it was in many ways the first true world convention, pulling in as it did fans from more countries than had ever attended a single convention before. It was also the first time that UK and US fans met en masse. Yes, a handful of US and Canadian fans had been posted to the UK while serving in their armed forces during WW2, contacting local fans while over here, but these meetings had been individual and sporadic. And in terms of legacy, LONCON started the tradition of there being a British Worldcon once every calendar decade (1957, 1965, 1979, 1987, 1995, 2005, 2014, 2024). That’s three in London, three in Glasgow, and two in Brighton, with the longest gap between Worldcons being fourteen years, and the shortest being eight.
As well as firsts, the 1957 Worldcon is also notable as a last, being the final SF convention held before the start of the Space Age: Sputnik launched a few weeks afterwards.
And when it was over, as readers will learn, the outcome was less like utopia and more like fandom: some Americans stiffed the con hotel, the committee lost money, and the U.S. charter flight organizer sued his fannish creditors for defamation. I’m sorry, was this half-a-century ago or yesterday?
(1) FREE COMIC BOOK DAY DRAWS NEAR. May 7 is Free Comic Book Day, a single day when participating comic book specialty shops across North America and around the world give away comic books to anyone who comes in. Check out the Free Comic Book Day Catalog and see what’s available. Different shops have policies on how many free comics you can receive, but you will receive at least one free comic if you enter a participating shop location. Use the Store Locator tool to find the shop near you.
(2) TAFF DELEGATE COMING HOME. Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate Michael “Orange Mike” Lowrey made it through the Covid protocol and is scheduled to return to the U.S. from the U.K. tomorrow.
(3) FLAME ON. The House of the Dragon official teaser trailer is live.
History does not remember blood. It remembers names. August 21.
(4) OPERATION FANTAST LEGACY BUSINESS ENDING. [Item by Andrew Porter.] Susie Haynes, owner of Fantast Three, will close the business after importing and distributing the July/August issues of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Analog SF, and Asimov’s SF, the US SF magazines she imports. She has already sold off her remaining stock of science fiction books.
It was originally begun as “Operation Fantast” by British SF fan Ken Slater, who played a major role in restarting British science fiction fandom after World War II.
He created Operation Fantast to get around British post-WW II import and currency restrictions. This was turned into the bookseller Fantast (Medway) Ltd. in 1955. When Slater died in 2008 his daughter took over the business. Between them, the business had existed for 75 years.
(5) OVERCOMER HONORED. The American Library Association announces: “Martha Hickson receives the 2022 Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity”. The award was established in 2014 by the American Library Association in partnership with Snicket series author Daniel Handler. The prize, which is co-administered by ALA’s Governance Office and the Office for Intellectual Freedom, annually recognizes and honors a librarian who has faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact. The prize is $10,000, a certificate and “an odd, symbolic object.”
Martha Hickson, media specialist at North Hunterdon High School in Annandale, New Jersey, has been selected as the recipient of the 2022 Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity. Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snicket, will present Hickson with the award—a cash prize and an object from Handler’s private collection—during the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference & Exhibition on Sunday, June 26, 2022 in Washington DC.
There has been no shortage of high-profile censorship challenges infesting school libraries across the United States since students returned from pandemic confinement in the Fall of 2021, but it was a fight that Hickson had already been fighting, tooth and nail. In fact, she has persevered through several book challenges since she began as a high school librarian in 2005. In 2021, however, the battle reached a new peak.
When a community group attended the Board of Education (BOE) meeting and demanded that two award-winning books with LGBTQ+ themes—Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison (and later three additional LGBTQ+ titles)—be pulled from the library shelves, their allegations not only attacked the books but Hickson herself, labeling her by name as a pornographer and pedophile for providing children with access to the titles in question. In the following weeks, she endured personal attacks from the community, hate mail, threats, nuisance vandalism, and even questions about her judgment and integrity from her administration. In fact, the open adversity became so pervasive and extreme that her blood pressure and anxiety rose to the dangerous point where her physician removed her from her workplace.
Despite this adversity, however, Hickson persisted and persevered in her unwavering defense of her students’ right to intellectual freedom and right to read, including galvanizing a group of community allies to attend the BOE meetings, gathering testimonies from LGBTQ+ students, recruiting local author David Levithan to write a statement of support, and even consulting and offering advice on censorship battles to the library community at large. At the January BOE meeting, the resolution to ban the five books in question was effectively voted down, and all challenged books remain proudly on the North Hunterdon High School library shelf….
A fraudster has been impersonating a HarperCollins editorial director and sending out messages offering book contracts.
Phoebe Morgan, editorial director at HarperFiction, revealed on Twitter that someone has been using a fake HarperCollins account and claiming to be her. She said the impersonator has been using her photo and background information, but could be identified as a fraud by the email address, which replaced the two “l’ letters in HarperCollins with the number “1”.
She tweeted: “If someone says they’re a crime editor wanting to offer a contract please flag as suspicious. HC would never contact you in that way”.
The tactic is similar to the one said to be used by Filippo Bernardini, a former rights assistant at S&S UK who was arrested and charged by the FBI with allegedly stealing hundreds of book manuscripts over several years….
Kimmel’s crew asked random people on Hollywood Boulevard questions about the space opera franchise and U.S. history.
(8) HAVE YOU RED? [Item by Joey Eschrich.] On June 1, Future Tense is cohosting the latest in our Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club series, discussing All Systems Red by Martha Wells. Here are the details. I should note that the author won’t be joining us—for this book club series, we want to focus on discussion and deliberation, rather than on getting the behind-the-scenes. RSVP here.
The novel explores a spacefaring future in which corporate-driven exploratory missions rely heavily on security androids. In Wells’ engaging – at times funny – tale, one such android hacks its own system to attain more autonomy from the humans he is accompanying. The result is a thought-provoking inquiry into the evolving nature of potential human-robot relations.
Join Future Tense and Issues in Science and Technology at 6pm ET on Wednesday, June 1 to discuss the novel and its real-world implications. The book club will feature breakout rooms (they’re fun and stress-free, we promise) where we can all compare notes and share reactions, even if we didn’t finish the book (though we picked a short one this time!).
(9) AND BEYOND. This promo for Lightyear dropped today.
…Like all good Belgian comics fans, I’m fascinated by the adventures of Tintin and by their creator. This is a really interesting biographical study, by a writer who met Hergé an interviewed him a couple of times, and has now lived long enough to absorb the mass of critical commentary on Hergé’s work that has emerged over the decades.
I learned a lot from it. In particular, I learned that it’s very difficult to navigate exactly how close Hergé came to collaboration with the occupying Germans during the war…
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1992 — [By Cat Eldridge.]Forever Knight, a vampire detective series, premiered thirty years ago, and concluded with the third-season finale just over three years later. This series was filmed and set in Toronto.
It was created by Barney Cohen who wrote Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, and James D. Parriott, who was responsible for Misfits of Science.
It starred Geraint Wyn Davies, Catherine Disher, Nigel Bennett, Ben Bass, Deborah Duchêne and Blu Mankuma. It is considered the predecessor to such series as Angel.
It managed in its short span to run on CBS (the first season), first-run syndication (the second season) and the USA Network (the third and final season).
So what was its reception? Well the Canadian TV industry loved it but I suspect that was because it was providing a lot of jobs. Seriously it wasn’t for the quality of the scripts. I watched it enough to see that it was really badly written. Forever Knight was nominated for thirteen industry Gemini Awards, and won once in 1996.
It was as one reviewer at the time noted a soap opera: “The acting in this one is decent but there was more time than I can count where I was rolling my eyes by how much the cast was hamming it up. The characters are fun but they often slip away into the cliched void of day time soaps.”
I don’t think it is streaming anywhere currently.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 5, 1908 — Pat Frank. Author of Alas, Babylon who also wrote a 160-page non-fiction book, How To Survive the H Bomb And Why (1962). (Insert irony here if you want.) Forbidden Area, another novel, he wrote, was adapted by Rod Serling for the 1957 debut episode of Playhouse 90. (Died 1964.)
Born May 5, 1922 — Joseph Stefano. Screenwriter who adapted Bloch’s novel as the script for Hitchcock’s Psycho. He was also a producer for the first season of Outer Limits and wrote a total of twelve episodes. He also the screenwriter for the very horrifying Eye of The Cat. He wrote Next Generation’s “Skin of Evil” episode. And he was producer on the original Swamp Thing. (Died 2006.)
Born May 5, 1942 — Lee Killough, 80. Author of two series, the Brill and Maxwell series which I read a very long time ago and remember immensely enjoying, and the Bloodwalk series which doesn’t ring even a faint bell. I see she’s written a number of stand-alone novels as well – who’s read deeply of her? Her only Hugo nomination was at Aussiecon Two for her short story, “Symphony for a Lost Traveler”. And in the early Eighties, she wrote an interesting essay called “Checking On Culture: A Checklist for Culture Building”. Who’s read it?
Born May 5, 1943 — Michael Palin, 79. Monty Python of course. I’ll single him out for writing the BFA-winning Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and co-writing the BSFA-winning Time Bandits with Terry Gilliam. He and the rest of the troupe were Hugo finalists in 1976 for Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And it might be at least genre adjacent, so I’m going to single him out for being in A Fish Called Wanda for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
Born May 5, 1944 — John Rhys-Davies, 78. He’s known for his portrayal of Gimli and the voice of Treebeard in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, General Leonid Pushkin in The Living Daylights, King Richard I in Robin of Sherwood, Professor Maximillian Arturo in Sliders, a most excellent Hades in the animated Justice League Unlimted series, Hades in Justice League and Sallah in the Indiana Jones films. Oh, and voicing Macbeth in the exemplary Gargoyles animated series too. He’s getting his action figure shortly of Macbeth from NECA!
Born May 5, 1957 — Richard E. Grant, 64. He first shows up in our world as Giles Redferne in Warlock, begore going on to be Jack Seward in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. On a lighter note, he’s Frederick Sackville-Bagg in The Little Vampire, and the voice of Lord Barkis Bittern in Corpse Bride. He breaks into the MCU as Xander Rice in Logan, and the Star Wars universe by being Allegiant General Enric Pryde in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Now I had forgotten that he’s in the Whoverse twice, once seriously and once very not. The first appearance was the latter as he in Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death as The Conceited Doctor. And then he plays the Great Intelligence in three episodes of Doctor Who.
Born May 5, 1979 — Catherynne Valente, 43. I personally think her best work is The Orphan’s Tales which The Night Garden got Otherwise and Mythopoeic Awards, while the second work, In The Cities of Coin and Spice, garnered the latter Award as well. Palimpsest which is one weird novel picked up, not at all surprisingly a Lambda and was nominated for a Hugo at Aussiecon 4. The first novel in the incredibly neat Fairyland series, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, picked up a coveted Norton. (Well I think it’s coveted.) Next up is “Fade to White,” novelette nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 3, and a favorite of mine, the “Six-Gun Snow White” novella, was a nominee at LonCon 3. Let’s finish by noting that she was part of SF Squeecast which won two Hugos, the first at Chicon 7 then at LoneStarCon 3.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Garfield requires your imagination to fill in the horrific vision.
…The sale starts with flourish: lot 1 is the best available copy of the signed limited edition of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (NY: 1953), bound in ‘Johns-Manville Quinterra an asbestos material with exceptional resistance to pyrolysis’ it is estimated at $13000 to 18000, but has a reserve at just $10,000. This is accompanied by 14 other lots of similar works, including 2 others from Bradbury (Dark Carnival [Sauk City: Arkham, 1947], and an excellent copy of the 1st paperback edition of 451 [NY: Ballantine; 1953]).
During February 2022, I challenged 3D artists with the Infinite Journeys 3D challenge, where I provided artists with a simple animation of a moving “vehicle” and they built out their own customs scenes. Of the 2,448 entires, the top 100 were chosen for this montage, and 5 of them walked away with insane prizes from Maxon, Rokoko, Camp Mograph, Wacom, Looking Glass Factory, and mograph.com.
… The story follows Charlie Hall, a reformed con artist and thief who used to work adjacent to the shady (ha) world of the gloamists, who work magic on shadows, but she’s now trying to keep on the straight and narrow. She’s working a normal job bartending at a dive bar, dating a reliable boyfriend about whom she’s having some doubts and trying to help her little sister get into college. Obviously, this doesn’t last, and she gets pulled back into the world she tried to leave behind. Much like Black’s YA books, the plotting isn’t desperately original, but that’s also not what it’s aiming for, really.
What it is aiming for, and succeeds at, is a fun, dark, enthralling bit of world building, something that the reader can immediately get sucked into and get the feel of, while still with plenty of mileage to build throughout the story. And her gloamists are absolutely that. There’s sexy crime – daring heists of secret magical books – as well as secrecy, hidden arts, a potential pedigree stretching way back into history – the secret magical tomes to be stolen have to come from somewhere, right? – and plenty of scope for there being downtrodden people who can use their wits to outfox the powerful….
…That all said, however, as much as Wade can prepare a reader new to the world to the complexities of the Varin and their very alien human society, this is a novel that really relies on knowledge of the previous two books, both on a high worldbuilding and also on a character level to really succeed. With the basis of that two novels, though, it is clear to me here, that this is a rich and deep and complex story that I get the feeling Wade has wanted to tell from the beginning, and from this point.
There is a theory in writing that one of the keys to writing any work of fiction is to know where the story begins and to start the story at that point,. In some ways, the rich story of this novel, of which I will speak shortly, seems to be the story that Wade has wanted to tell since the beginning of Mazes of Power. In Wade’s case, however, and for the readers, this story only really can work as a story if you have the background of the first two novels in order to get the full force and impact of what happens here….
…“At 6,500 ft, Rocket Lab’s Sikorsky S-92 helicopter rendezvoused with the returning stage and used a hook on a long line to capture the parachute line,” Rocket Lab said in a release. “After the catch, the helicopter pilot detected different load characteristics than previously experienced in testing and offloaded the stage for a successful splashdown.”
For this specific launch, the catch ended up being more of a catch-and-release, but that attempt still went an important way to demonstrating the viability of the option. Knowing that the release worked—that the helicopter crew was able to snag the rocket and then determine they needed to jettison the booster—is a key part of proving viability. A method that involves helicopters but jeopardizes them pairs reusability with risk to the human crew….
(19) FLY ME TO THE MOON. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Well, OK, not to the Moon. Not even to low Earth orbit. But almost 5 miles is still fairly high. For the first time, SpinLaunch put a camera onboard one of the projectiles for their suborbital centrifugal launch test platform. Choosing a camera for the payload was probably a good idea, since I don’t think even fruit flies would have enjoyed the ride.
…Such tests are becoming routine for SpinLaunch, with the first demonstration of the kinetic launch system occurring last October. This time, however, the company did something new by strapping a camera, or “optical payload,” onto the 10-foot-long (3-meter) projectile.
Footage from the onboard camera shows the projectile hurtling upwards from the kinetic launch system at speeds in excess of 1,000 miles per hour (1,600 kilometers per hour). The flight lasted for 82 seconds, during which time the test vehicle reached an altitude of over 25,000 feet (7,620 meters), according to David Wrenn, vice president of technology at SpinLaunch….
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says the fourth Harry Potter film brings back many familiar plot points, including the speech from Dumbledore about the many ways Hgwarts students can die. The producer,being told of a test where several characters nearly drown, says “wizards are not OK people.” Trivia lovers will note this film was Robert Pattinson’s debut.
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Jennifer Hawthorne, Lise Andreasen, Joey Eschrich, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian, for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Danny Sichel.]
Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey reported today, “I have tested positive for COVID-19. The UK advises that I self-isolate for five days, at which point I should not be contagious; which means a single room somewhere, not the hostel I’m in now.”
“One of the Danes with whom I met on the 24th has tested positive; I may have gotten it from him,” says Lowrey, who visited Swedish fans in Uppsala and Malmö last week after attending Eastercon. “I do not feel ill. I’m hoarse, but I’ve credited that to talking to people almost non-stop for four weeks.”
He had recently returned to the UK before wrapping up his trip. TAFF administrator Johan Anglemark confirmed the fund will underwrite the costs of a hotel room etc. while Orange Mike is stranded by Covid protocols.
I’ve been dissatisfied with Blogger for a while now. I’m not a web developer, but I’m not helpless, either; I maintain the Writer Beware website on the SFWA site, and I built and maintain two additional websites, my own and another for an organization my husband is part of. But every time I thought about moving to a new platform, the size of the challenge just seemed too daunting. How would I transfer hundreds of posts, not to mention the thousands of comments and images that go with them? What about all the non-working inbound links the move would create? Links wouldn’t be a problem if I just started fresh on a brand-new WordPress site–but then the blog would exist on two platforms, with two different web addresses. And what about WB’s thousands of followers and subscribers?
The turning point came last summer, when the only email subscription widget supported by Blogger discontinued service. If people couldn’t subscribe to the WB blog, there was just no reason to remain on Blogger….
I read Maurice Broaddus’s “Black Joy and Afrofuturism for Young Readers,” which heartens us to be present, fully and joyfully, not just for ourselves but for our children, our new adults, and our future generations. He dares that we find unapology for being, that ours becomes an everyday commitment to a joyful resistance against carefully charted devices of oppression.
That reading nudged an inward gaze at my own writing, and I saw its trajectory:
(5) TAFF ITINERARY TENTATIVELY JELLING. Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey will finally get his Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund trip this year. This is what he’s mapped out so far:
It looks like (unlike the “lost voyage” of 2020) Spain will not be part of my 2020/2022 TAFF delegate voyage. So:
Starting at the Eurocon/Luxcon, popping over to Poland for visits in a couple of places (Warsaw and Silesia), to England for Eastercon/Reclamation, from there to visit Sverifans in Uppsala and Malmö. If I haven’t overstayed my welcome in the U.K., I could return from Sweden and spend a few days in the U.K., maybe actually SEE Scotland and Scotfen in their native habitat? I don’t HAVE to be back in the States until 6 a.m. May 2….
(6) AIDING UKRAINE. Sales of Building a Better Future, edited by David Flin, will help raise money for charity. Contributing author Alex Wallace explains: “I am proud to say that a group of online alternate history fans (myself included) came together to put together an anthology, Building a Better Future, all proceeds of which go the British charity Disaster Emergency Commission’s Ukraine Humanitarian Aid Appeal. My short story Our Lady of Guidance, is among the stories therein.”
Following the start of the tragic events in Ukraine, a group of historical writers on an Internet forum discussed what they could do to help. The feeling of helplessness in the face of the man-made tragedy was palpable. We considered many options, each less practical than the previous one.
Then, someone had an idea. We were writers. We should write a book, an anthology, with proceeds going to help with the rebuilding of Ukraine.
From that, things flowed quickly. The theme of rebuilding became adopted: “Building a Better Future.”
That’s what you’re holding in your hands. The product of a group of historical writers trying to do something to help the people of Ukraine.
Who among us has not been betrayed by the failure of a simple plan that should have worked? One sets out to collect firewood, only to be suddenly concussed; one tries to kill time with a round of cards, only to crush four of one’s own phalanges; one seeks the comfort of restful sleep, only wake with a mysterious deep incision down one’s abdomen. It’s not just me—this seems to be a perverse tendency of the universe: I see it in the news and I see it in what I read. Consider these five SFF tales in which plans are thwarted, foiled, and frustrated by circumstance…
… Unfortunately, Braga was largely on his own when it came to the second most difficult thing about writing the episode: The briefing room scene. Here, Geordi (LeVar Burton) explains to his shipmates that they are caught in a very Trek-ian “temporal causality loop.” Ironically, Braga found himself in a time loop of his own, rewriting the scene over and over again.
“It was my first big ‘technobabble’ scene, so it couldn’t just sound cool. It had to sound plausible. It had to resolve all the clues that had been accumulating,” says Braga. “In addition to all the explaining, you have to bring your own voice to it, too. You try to pepper in some cool or shocking moments, like when Picard asks how long we have been in the loop and Geordi responds with something like ‘it could be years.’ But Piller had me rewrite that scene so many times. I remember over Christmas break of that year, I was working on that scene.”…
…Stories about the American West have always been rife with scares and horrors sure to delight and repulse even the most hardened of horror fans, from pulpy matinee fare like Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula to literary classics like Blood Meridian, but by taking what works and leaving what doesn’t, writers today are riding into the sunset with some of the most breathtaking and terrifying fiction in recent memory….
(10) WILLIAM A. JOHNSON (1956-2022.) Writing as Bill Johnson, he won a Hugo Award in 1998 for his novella, “We Will Drink a Fish Together” which was also a Nebula nominee. His stories were published in The Year’s Best Science Fiction several times. The family obituary is here.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1995 – [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-seven years ago on FOX, the Sliders series first aired on this evening. Created by Tracy Tormé and Robert K. Weiss, it would air on that network for three years before moving to Sci Fi for another two years. As a consequence of that it was first produced in Vancouver before being finally being so done in Los Angeles.
Befitting a cross-time series, it had an expansive cast led by the brothers of Jerry and Charlie O’Connell along with Cleavant Derricks, Sabrina Lloyd, John Rhys-Davies, Kari Wuhrer, Robert Floyd and Tembi Locke with Derricks being the only cast member to stay with the series throughout its entire run.
There has also been gossip among Martin fans that this series was inspired by George R.R. Martin’s 1992 ABC pilot Doorways but everyone involved said that was not true.
So how was the reception at the time? Not good. The Los Angeles Time was typical when it said “Now comes ‘Sliders,’ a banal bore of a mishmash adventure series starring Jerry O’Connell as a genius grad student named Quinn Mallory, who discovers a way to visit parallel Earths by whooshing himself through a space portal known as a ‘wormhole.’ It beats studying.”
It does get a rather excellent sixty-four percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 22, 1911 — Raymond Z. Gallun. An early SF pulp writer who helped the genre to become popular. “Old Faithful” published in Astounding (December 1934) was his first story and led to a series of that name. “The Menace from Mercury,” a story published in the Summer 1932 issue of Wonder Stories Quarterly, was penned from a suggestion by Futurian John Michel and is considered famous among fans. His first published novel, People Minus X, didn’t appeared until 1957, followed by The Planet Strappers four years later. You can get all of his fiction at the usual suspects. (Died 1994.)
Born March 22, 1930 — Stephen Sondheim. Several of his works were of a fantastical nature including Into The Woods which mines deeply both Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault for its source material. And there’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street which is damn fun even if it isn’t genre. (Died 2021.)
Born March 22, 1931 — William Shatner, 91. Happy Birthday Bill! Ok that was short. We all know he was Captain Kirk, but how many of us watched him as Jeff Cable on the rather fun Barbary Coast series? I did. It was really, really bad acting on his part though. Or that he was The Storyteller in children’s series called A Twist of The Tale? I was I surprised to discover that T.J. Hooker ran for ninety episodes!
Born March 22, 1946 — Rudy Rucker, 76. He’s certainly best known for the Ware Tetralogy, the first two of which, Software and Wetware, each won the Philip K. Dick Award. Though not genre, I do recommend As Above, So Below: A Novel of Peter Bruegel.
Born March 22, 1950 — Mary Tamm. She’s remembered for her role as Romana as the Companion to the Fourth Doctor in “The Key to Time” storyline. It seemed liked she was there longer only because another actress, Lalla Ward, played her in the following season and she looked a lot like her. Ward was soon to be married to Tom Baker. She also appears briefly in the 20th Anniversary special The Five Doctors through the reuse of footage from the uncompleted story Shada that Douglas Adams wrote. Tamm had only one other genre gig as Ginny in the “Luau” story part of the Tales That Witness Madness film. (Died 2012.)
Born March 22, 1969 — Alex Irvine, 53. I strongly recommend One King, One Soldier, his offbeat Arthurian novel, and The Narrows, about a WW II Detroit golem factory where fantasy tropes get a severe trouncing. A Scattering of Jades, which won a International Horror Guild Award, is well worth reading. He also wrote The Vertigo Encyclopedia which was an in-house project so, as he told me back then, DC delivered him one copy of every Vertigo title they had sitting in the warehouse which was a lot. For research purposes, of course. It came in a very, very large crate. And he’s written a fair number of comics, major and minor houses alike. His newest novel, Anthropocene Rag, sounds very intriguing. Has anyone read it?
Immortal souls (and mortal ones too), rejoice! Christina Ricci has joined the cast of Wednesday, Netflix’s upcoming live-action series based on the beloved Addams Family character.
The actress, who played Wednesday Addams in the 1991 Addams Family film and its 1993 sequel, will portray an “exciting new character” this time around — in other words, not a grown-up Wednesday. Details are being kept under wraps, though we know Ricci will be a series regular….
After spending the last two years mostly staring at the same four walls and continuing to carve out a perfect bottom-shaped dent in my living room couch, there are few things that sound more appealing than getting the opportunity to explore the limitless possibilities of time and space. Starring J.K. Simmons and Sissy Spacek, Prime Video’s “Night Sky” (formerly known as “Lightyears”) features the duo as Franklin and Irene York, a couple who discover a passageway in their backyard that leads to a distant planet. The Yorks have enjoyed their secret for years, but when a mysterious young man (Chai Hansen of “The Newsreader” fame) arrives out of nowhere, the Yorks realize that their unexplainable passageway may be part of an even bigger mystery than they ever thought fathomable.
The new eight-part series will hit the Prime Video streaming platform globally on Friday, May 20, 2022. All eight episodes will be available simultaneously, so we can all spend our weekend binging J.K. Simmons and Sissy Spacek’s adventures through time and space….
… Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh, unstoppable), a Chinese American immigrant/laundromat owner/last hope for all existence, slingshots between realities with the raw kinetic energy of a boulder launched by a trebuchet. Sometimes, she need only open a door to find herself in another iteration of her life, or walk backward through bushes, or tap the Bluetooth-earpiece-looking gizmos an ally gives her. …
(17) ON STAGE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Suzi Feay reviews After The End by Dennis Kelly, a post-apocalyptic play performed at the Stratford East Theatre (“After The End” – Stratford East) through March 26.
“Very strong language, nudity…violence and sexual violence”–since there are only two characters in Dennis Kelly’s After The End, the caveats constitute spoilers. Louise regains consciousness after a nuclear explosion to find herself safe in an underground bunker belonging to Mark, a work colleague. Outside, she was popular and ambitious, and he was the office dolt: dull, friendless, and pedantic. No one more sociable would have built a fallout shelter to begin with. They have two weeks to ensure each other before it’s safe to emerge.
Sweary Louise (a pugnacious Amaka Okafor) has never checked her social privilege; being forced to get along with someone she has hitherto despised may prove character-building. Mark (Nick Blood), thrilled at his unexpected access to the office princess, chivalrously takes the top bunk but his obsequiousness turns sour over a fraught game of Dungeons and Dragons. Locked within four oppressive walls, their makeshift alliance of hobbit and elf disintegrates into a battle for control.
…This year’s SXSW saw space make its way into the film festival as well. Several films screened at SXSW had links to space, from documentaries to movies that took some inspiration from spaceflight.
The most prominent of those movies was Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood, directed by Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise, Boyhood, Dazed and Confused, among others.) The movie is a semi-autobiographical account of Linklater’s own childhood in Houston, not far from NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center) in the summer of 1969. The film uses rotoscope animation, like some of Linklater’s previous movies, making it appear like some hybrid of reality and imagination….
…In 2005 French comedian Sébastien Cauet and French television network TF1 made a deal with The Walt Disney Company which would allow Cauet to write and produce his own version of The Muppet Show, as well as supply the voice of Kermit the Frog for the series. Rather than send the puppeteers to France, the puppets themselves were instead packed up and shipped off, and a team of French puppeteers would perform them instead, later being dubbed by voice actors.
Yeah. They made that. And not just a one episode thing, this abomination lasted TEN EPISODES! That’s way more than the three that Little Muppet Monsters got on the air!
Thanks to YouTube, we have a few clips of Muppets TV available, which I’ll admit I oddly enjoyed, even though I don’t speak the language (besides saying Bonjour and singing the theme song to ‘Madeline’)….
(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Horizon Forbidden West,” Fandom Games, in a spoiler-filled episode, says that gamers have to complete “the usual Excel sheet of objectives” for a game that’s ultimately “a child’s fantasy about robot dinosaurs.” “At least they get robots in their apocalypse,” the narrator complains. “What do we get? Twitter!”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Will R., Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey,Cathy Green,Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
(1) CHENGDU MARATHON LIVESTREAM CONTINUES. The Chengdu Worldcon bid livestream was noted in yesterday’s Scroll. Alison Scott took a look at it and reported in a comment here —
The Chengdu bid has been running a stream each evening (11:00 – 14:00 UTC) on Chinese Youtube/Twitch style site bilibili, featuring SF authors and other celebrities encouraging Chinese SF fans (of whom there are millions of course) to join DisCon III and vote for Chengdu.
The link to the stream is here. Although i couldn’t understand the stream, I used Google Translate to read the chat; full of SF fans, mostly students, talking about their favourite books, movies and tv shows and asking how to set up a local SF club in their area.
(2) TOMORROW PRIZE DEADLINE. There’s less than one week left for Los Angeles County high school students to enter their short sci-fi stories in The Tomorrow Prize and The Green Feather Award competitions. Full details at the Omega Sci-Fi Awards website. Those feeling the pressure should read “5 Things that Inspire” by Clare Hooper.
With the deadline approaching, many find it intimidating to start writing. Writer’s block is the worst. But the best cure for writer’s block is finding a good place to start, and that may mean inspiration. Here are five things that inspired previous winners and honorable mentions of The Tomorrow Prize and The Green Feather Award to write:
The accessibility and popularity of anime has only gotten wider in recent years. With so many shows in dozens of genres, it’s easy to find something you may want to put your own spin on. Omega Sci-Fi Awards Student Ambassador and Tomorrow Prize Finalist, Gwendolyn Lopez found inspiration through Studio Ghibli films. These films usually have a thin line between the mundane and the fantastical, thus inspiring Gwendolyn to give a more introspective feel to her story, Star Sailor. Ethan Kim, an honorable mention for The Tomorrow Prize, took inspiration from a different anime show, Dororo, which features a young man roaming the countryside fighting demons. Dororo inspired the themes of godlike figures and a battlefield setting in his story Cold Ashes….
The Secret to Superhuman Strength (Mariner) by Alison Bechdel lands on the top spot of PW’s annual Graphic Novel Critics Poll, garnering seven votes from a panel of 15 critics. A groundbreaking queer author and a true household name in contemporary comics, Bechdel is best known for her widely acclaimed 2006 graphic family memoir Fun Home.
In The Secret to Superhuman Strength, her long-anticipated third memoir, Bechdel celebrates the fads and fanaticism of fitness culture—including her own obsession with physical self-improvement—using the phenomenon as a lens through which to examine both queer and American culture writ large….
… Therefore, I’m happy to welcome Jordan Douglas Smith of The Dark Crusade to my blog:
Tell us about your podcast or channel.
The Dark Crusade is dedicated to the life and work of writer/editor/publisher Karl Edward Wagner. We are systematically moving through his work, discussing it from a historical and literary lens. In addition to the podcast, we have a companion blog that covers additional facts about the stories, links to scholarship, and overviews of some of the collections Wagner has edited….
(5) TAFF VOTING OPENS TODAY. Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund administrators Johan Anglemark and Geri Sullivan are now accepting ballots for the 2022 TAFF race. It will close on April 19, 2022, after Reclamation (Eastercon) in London.
You can download the fill-in form ballot here (US Letter; A4 will follow shortly). It has the candidates’ platforms, the names of their nominators, and the voting instructions. Voting is open to anyone active in fandom before April 2020 who donates at least £3 (GBP), €3 (EUR), or $4 (USD) to TAFF. Voting is also possible online here.
Competing for the honor are these four great fans: Anders Holmström (Sweden), Fia Karlsson (Sweden), Mikolaj Kowalewski (Poland), and Julie Faith McMurray (UK). One of them will make a TAFF trip to Chicon 8, the 80th World Science Fiction Convention in September, 2022.
(6) CAST A WIDE NET. [Item by Cora Buhlert]The Pulp Net has an article about Fritz Leiber, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser by Don Herron: “Three sought adventure”. What struck me about this is that Herron not only knew Leiber, but also met Harry Otto Fisher, on whom Mouser was based and the resemblance was apparently uncanny.
… “Two Sought Adventure” saw print that August in the pulp Unknown — the first professional sale for Fritz Leiber Jr., who would go on to become one of the most-awarded writers in 20th-century imaginative literature.
The characters introduced, the barbarian Fafhrd and the wily Gray Mouser — the two best thieves in Lankhmar, and the two best swordsmen — would have many more adventures with the author till the end of his life….
(7) I’VE HEARD THAT NAME BEFORE. It appears to be Fritz Leiber month, because Grimdark Magazine also has an article about him by Ryan Howse: “The works of Fritz Leiber”.
… During their adventures, they battled men, magicians, and monsters, were in the power of two bizarre wizards who obviously did not have their best interests at heart, faced down the incarnation of death, survived the poverty of lean times in Lankhmar, climbed the world’s largest mountain on a whim, and plenty more. Their quests were often them following a rumour for fun or profit, with no grander schemes in mind….
Filmmaker Denis Villeneuve is heading from Arrakis to Rama. After he finishes up Dune: Part Two (which was greenlit after Dune: Part One’s commercial success), the director will take on a feature adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama….
In this new literature series, a trio of comedians explode and unravel their most cherished cult books, paying homage to the tone and style of the original text – and blurring and warping the lines between fact and fiction.
“We are what we pretend to be. So we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
So reads the warning at the beginning of the novel Mother Night, in an author’s introduction written by Kurt Vonnegut himself. Yet in this world of unreliable narrators, editor’s “corrections” and weirdly omniscient first-person testimony, nothing is really what it seems.
Purportedly the “confessions of Howard J. Campbell Jr”, an American expat-turned Nazi propagandist-turned Allied spy (allegedly), Vonnegut’s warped collection of bizarre characters and slippery narratives invite us to cast aside our black and white notions of morals and guilt and survey the gazillions of greys in between.
Comedian Daliso Chaponda considers the strange world of people playing versions of themselves in public – comedians, spies, politicians and, to an extent, all of us. How do you deal with people perceiving you differently to your “real” self? And, for that matter, how do you know who you “really” are?
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1974 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-seven years ago, Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein premieres. The screenplay was co-written by Brooks and Gene Wilder who plays the lead role. The rest of the cast was Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, Kenneth Mars and Madeline Kahn.
The film was shot in black and white with the lab equipment there originally used as props for the 1931 film Frankenstein as created by Kenneth Strickfaden.
Brooks has often said that he considers it by far his finest although not his funniest film as a writer-director. Reception for it was generally very good with Roger Ebert saying it was his “most disciplined and visually inventive film (it also happens to be very funny).” It won a Hugo at Aussiecon. It was a fantastic box office success earning eighty-six million on a budget of just three million. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it near perfect rating of ninety-two percent.
Mel Brooks would later adapt this into a musical that would run both off Broadway and on Broadway.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 15, 1923 — Freeman Dyson. Physicist best known in genre circles for the concept he theorized of a Dyson Sphere which would be built by a sufficiently technologically advanced species around a sun to harvest all solar energy. He credited Olaf Stapledon in Star Maker (1937), in which he described “every solar system… surrounded by a gauze of light traps, which focused the escaping solar energy for intelligent use” with first coming up with the concept. (Died 2020.)
Born December 15, 1937 — John Sladek. Weird and ambitious would be ways to describe his work. The Complete Roderick Is quite amazing, as is Tik-Tok, which won a BSFA, and Bugs is as well. He did amazing amounts of short fiction, much of which is collected finally in the ironically named Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek. He is generously stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 2000.)
Born December 15, 1951 — David Bischoff. His “Tin Woodman” which was written with Dennis Bailey and nominated for a Nebula would be adapted into a Next Generation story. He also wrote the Next Gen story “First Contact” (with Dennis Russell Bailey, Joe Menosky, Ronald D. Moore and Michael Piller.) And he continued the Bill the Galactic Hero story with Harry Harrison. He’s also written a kickass excellent Farscape novel, Ship of Ghosts. (Died 2018.)
Born December 15, 1952 — Marta DuBoi. Her first genre role is on the Starman series as Dr. Ellen Dukowin the “Fever” episode though you’ll likely better recognize her as Ardra on the “Devil’s Due” episode of the Next Generation. She also had roles on The Land of The Lost, The Trial of the Incredible Hulk and Tales of the Golden Monkey. (Died 2018.)
Born December 15, 1953 — Robert Charles Wilson, 68. He’s got a Hugo Award for Spin, a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for The Chronoliths, a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the “The Cartesian Theater” novelette and Prix Aurora Awards for the Blind Lake and Darwinia novels. He also garnered a Philip K. Dick Award for Mysterium. Very, very mpressive indeed.
Born December 15, 1954 — Alex Cox, 67. Ahhh, the Director who back in the early Eighties gave us Repo Man. And that he got a co-writer credit for the screenplay of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas before it was completely rewritten by Gilliam. As you know he directed a student film version of Harry Harrison’s Bill, the Galactic Hero at University of Colorado Boulder just a few years ago!
Born December 15, 1963 — Helen Slater, 58. She was Supergirl in the film of that name, and returned to the 2015 Supergirl TV series as Supergirl’s adoptive mother. Also within the DC Universe, she voiced Talia al Ghul in in Batman: The Animated Series. Recently she also voiced Martha Kent in DC Super Hero Girls: Hero of the Year. And Lara in Smallville… And Eliza Danvers on the Supergirl series.. Her other genre appearences include being on Supernatural, Eleventh Hour, Toothless, Drop Dead Diva and the very short-lived Agent X.
Born December 15, 1970 — Michael Shanks, 51. Best known for playing Dr. Daniel Jackson in the very long-running Stargate SG-1 franchise. His first genre appearance was in the Highlander series and he’s been in a lot of genre properties including the Outer Limits, Escape from Mars, Andromeda (formally titled Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda and there’s a juicy story there), Swarmed, Mega Snake, Eureka, Sanctuary, Smallville, Supernatural and Elysium. Wow!
(13) TIME TO CROW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Death’s Door, a game he feels is strongly influenced by Legend Of Zelda, Dark Souls, and Hollow Knight.
Coming from tastemaking indie publisher Devolver Digital, I should have known better than to judge the game harshly. Its mechanics are familiar but the plot is original and compelling, told with an economy that threads through every element of the game’s design. You play a fledgling crow who is a new employee at a supernatural bureau of avatar grim reapers. Your job is to collect the souls of those who have passed on. Yet when a soul you have collected is stolen, your immortality (a handsome job perk) is compromised, meaning you will age and ultimately die if you cannot recover it….
…Death’s Door is a game about being a small, fragile thing in a mysterious, dangerous world. This is deftly constructed with certain characters and safe spaces scattered across the map which are colourful and memorable: the interminable bureaucracy of the celestial reaper’s office; your companion Pothead, whose skull has been replaced with a vat of soup; the gravedigger who gives touching elegies for those enemies you slay. The spare lines of dialogue tinkle with humour and specificity, helping you empathise with the mute reaper crow on his lonely journey to understand the meaning of death.
‘The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories: Volume 5,’ edited by Christopher Philippo (Valancourt)
This latest in an annual series again demonstrates that chills and frights still linger in the browning pages of old magazines and Christmas albums. Philippo reprints two fine tales I’ve read elsewhere — Amelia B. Edwards’s “My Brother’s Ghost Story” and Barry Pain’s “The Undying Thing” — but all his other choices were unfamiliar to me. Since James Skipp Borlase is represented by two stories, I decided to read them first….
… To me, this is the great intrigue of a genre-bending thriller. There should always be, without fail, a human face behind the mystery or the bloodshed, just like there is in No Beauties or Monsters [her new book]. But whether or not there is a shadowy, inexplicable, perhaps unbelievable force also wielding terror… well, that’s why we read on till the very end. Here are some other genre-bending young adult novels with speculative elements that kept me reading till the very end too….
(17) LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS HOBBITS. GameRant’s Alice Rose Dodds delves into the books to help fans of the LOTR movies answer the question “What Exactly Is Shire Reckoning?” — “What exactly is this measurement of time, and how does It differ from others in Middle Earth?”
…It is little known that there was a vast long period of time before which any hobbits ever came to rest in The Shire. Hobbits, being of a homely nature and loving their beautiful holes beyond all else, dislike to remember this fact, for they see those days as terrible days, before the comfort of a simple life was discovered…
Watching classic holiday movies is a journey through the technology used to create yuletide joy in different generations. We once used asbestos as movie snow — now the technology ranges from computer graphics to a special type of paper.
In the early days of film, Hollywood “snowmen” would take anything that could be seen as white and flaky and put it to use, author and Atlas Obscura editor April White told LAist. Those sources of flaky whiteness included bleached cornflakes, gypsum, salt, concrete dust, asbestos, and even chicken feathers….
…Well, to be fair, Spider-Man was always a Marvel property; he just lives at Sony because of deals that long predate Kevin Feige’s Disney-backed conquest of the content cosmos. In that sense, No Way Home is mostly just a triumph of studio executives agreeing on things and actors making their schedules work. A feat unto itself, I suppose…
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Rob Thornton, Cora Buhlert, Jeffrey Smith, Johan Anglemark, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson, part of “The Hugo Pixel Scroll Winners” series.]
Did “Shangri-LA” or Ah! Sweet Idiocy! best describe the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society of the 1940s? The answer is – Yes! – as readers of Rob Hansen’s new fannish ebook will discover. Bixelstrasse: The SF Fan Community of 1940s Los Angeles is the latest addition to TAFF’s library of free downloads.
The story emerges from the participants’ own words – famous and notorious figures like Forrest J Ackerman, Charles Burbee, Claude Degler, Francis Towner Laney, “Tigrina” and “Morojo”, as well as pros of the day including Ray Bradbury, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Harryhausen, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, Fritz Lang, Fritz Leiber and A.E. van Vogt.
It’s another huge compilation — 193,000 words — and available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they also hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund. Find it here.
From Rob Hansen’s Foreword:
The Bixel Street era of LASFS has fascinated me since I first read about it in Harry Warner Jr’s All Our Yesterdays. Yes, there have been other occasions on which fans have shared premises in varying degrees, but to have a community of fans centred around a clubroom and living in nearby rooming houses on the same street gave rise to all-week, around-the-clock fanning of a sort not seen before or since. […]
This set-up, the whole “fannish village” they established, was immensely appealing to me in my twenties (though seeing so much of each other inevitably exacerbated personality clashes, of course). Add in the large numbers of fans from around the country who passed through Los Angeles thanks to the war, many of them processed via the Induction Center at nearby Fort MacArthur before being sent off to fight, and you have something unique in the history of fandom, a saga featuring fans and pros, communists and homosexuals, madmen and mystics, Hollywood stars and spies.
Within the confines of mundane South Bixel Street lay the Bixelstrasse, a name that describes the tight cluster of dwellings on that street that housed its fannish community….
(1) NEW PANEL FOR CORDWAINER SMITH REDISCOVERY AWARD. [Item by Steven H Silver.] Robert J. Sawyer and Barry Malzberg have retired as judges for the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award. A new panel has been created to select the honorees. The new panel includes Rich Horton, Steven H Silver, and Grant Thiessen. The new panel’s first selection will be announced at Readercon the weekend of August 13-15.
Over the past year, you joined me as I’ve baked and shared homemade scones and pizza, or ordered takeout weiner schnitzel and sushi, my guests and I doing our best to seize those moments of community COVID-19 tried to steal from us. In this case, John Wiswell and I pretended we were sitting across the table from each other during the Nebula Awards weekend.
John Wiswell won a Nebula Award earlier this month for the short story “Open House on Haunted Hill,” which had been published last year by Diabolical Plots. He’s also appeared in Nature, Uncanny, Weird Tales, Fireside, Daily Science Fiction, Flash Fiction Online, Cast of Wonders, Podcastle, and Pseudopod. In an astonishing show of prolificacy, he managed to posted fiction on his blog every day for six straight years, which I find astonishing. I found his Nebula acceptance speech astonishing as well; it was one of the best I’ve ever heard.
John and I were supposed to enjoy specialty hamburgers together this time around, only … something went wrong, as you shall hear. Why did I end up eating a chuck roast, brisket, and short rib burger while John only got to nibble on ice cream and carrots? For the answer to that question, well … you’ll have to listen.
We discussed his motivation for giving one of the greatest acceptance speeches ever, how he learned to build meaning out of strangeness, the way writing novels taught him to make his short stories better, his dual story generation modes of confrontation vs. escape, why what we think we know about the Marshmallow Test is wrong, the reason we’re both open online about our rejections, how the love of wallpaper led to him becoming a writer, why we’ve each destroyed our early writing from time to time, what he learned writing a story a day for six years, and much more.
(3) GARCIA APPEARANCES. Chris Garcia will be doing presentations at two Mystical Minds convention gatherings in the coming year.
Mystical Minds is a new Pagan, Paranormal, and Metaphysical convention created to expand our minds as well as our networks!
Witches, Pagans, Paranormal investigators, psychics, mediums, metaphysical practitioners, UFO experts, cryptozoologists, mystics, and other free-thinking spiritual seekers will come together in person this fall and spring for two conventions in the beautiful Bay area of Northern California!
Before Ghost Hunters, Most Haunted, or even Ghostbusters, San Francisco and the Bay has been home to research into the unknown. From occultists and de-bunkers in the early 20th century, to TV personalities in the 70s and 80s, to hard core particle physicists, research into the paranormal has happened here! Join Chris Garcia as he tells their stories!
An architectural marvel, containing a story of American eccentricity, and a debate over the potential paranormal aspects. We will look at the history of the House, the stories surrounding its building, the recounting of what people have experienced, and how development in the area may have something to do with all the fuss… both before and after Sarah Winchester showed up!
(4) HARD DRIVES OF IF. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Financial Times Reader.] In the July 16 Financial Times, Tom Faber discusses “interactive fiction” or IF, a genre between a video game and a novel.
After a few wilderness years (around 2000), IF re-emerged among a niche community of writers and intellectuals who organised around the annual Interactive Fiction Competition, founded in1995. This renaissance as partially triggered by progress in technology. Writers developed methods for inactivity such as multiple choice as an alternative to the intimidating grammar rules of the text parser. New tools such as Twine, ChoiceScript and Inklewriter empowered those without coding skills to create their own games. This contributed to a diversification of the creator pool, particularly encouraging queer writers who have broached provocative topics not tackled in the gaming mainstream, ranging from gender dysphoria to clinical depression to unconventional kinks…
…One of the most remarkable IF writers is Porpentine, author of the vivid story With Those We Love Alive. On this tale of an artist enslaved by an insectoid empress, you roam an alien world of ‘glass flowers on iron stalks. Canopy of leafbone. Statues sunk into the earth.’ Porpentine asks you to swap words out, wipe them away, and — most intimately — to draw symbols on your arm which represent emotional responses to the narrative.
(5) FREE DOWNLOAD FROM TAFF. Willis Discovers America and other fan fiction by Walt Willis is the latest addition to the selection of free ebook downloads at David Langford’s unofficial Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund site, where they hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please. Here’s the download page.
The title piece is a wildly silly imagining of Walt’s first trip to the USA in 1952, written and serialized in multiple fanzines before he actually began the journey; the text used here is from the collected edition of 1955, which included a new preface and annotations explaining some of the more arcane in-jokes. Further items range from scripts for two recorded “taperas” or tape operas that had fans rolling in the aisles at 1950s conventions, to a 1987 recasting of The Enchanted Duplicator as a computer text-Adventure game. Most of this material has never before been collected.
Edited by David Langford, who has added a few more explanatory notes; research work by Rob Hansen and others; proofreading by Pat Charnock. Cover artwork by Bob Shaw, drawn on to stencil for the collected Willis Discovers America (1955). 45,000 words.
(6) YOU COULD LOOK IT UP. John Scalzi tweeted this response to an item screencapped here the other day:
(7) ELVISH. The On fairy-stories website interviews Elvish linguistic scholar Carl F. Hostetter, editor of The Nature of Middle-Earth, a new J.R.R. Tolkien book: “From Linguistics to Metaphysics”. The book proposal with many of the edited texts was seen and approved by Christopher Tolkien, who passed away last year.
In your opinion, why did Tolkien not develop completely the Elvish languages?
For much the same reason that he never completed The Silmarillion: at first, because things grew and changed in his imagination and their expression on paper, and then, after the intervention and completion of The Lord of the Rings, because he had to revise everything to make it consistent with the published book and the thousands of years of “new history” that the introduction of the Second and Third Ages required, a task he was never able to achieve. With the languages, this was because whenever he attempted to make “definitive” decision on some point of phonology or grammar, he would almost inevitably start revising the whole system, which makes sense since any language is a complexly intertwined system, such that a change in one feature or detail can and almost always does affect other aspects. Nor, I think, was it ever Tolkien’s intention to make the Elvish languages “complete” or “finished”: they were primarily an expression of his linguistic aesthetic, and its changes over time. Unlike, say, with Zamenhof and Esperanto, Tolkien had no utilitarian purpose in mind for his languages.
(8) THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE. ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination has published the latest issue of Imaginary Papers, their quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination. Issue 7 features a piece on The Expanse by science, technology, and society scholar Damien P. Williams, and a piece on “Sultana’s Dream,” a 1905 Bengali feminist utopian speculative fiction story, by musicologist and media scholar Nilanjana Bhattacharjya.
One of the most engrossing things about the small-screen adaptation of The Expanse is how viscerally it examines the human costs of life in space. After being exposed to a massive dose of radiation, starship captain James Holden gets a permanent anticancer implant, like a far-future successor of a Port-A-Cath. And from the first episode, we’re made to understand that the Belters—descendants of humans who have worked, lived, and started societies on asteroids or the moons of other planets in our solar system—have different physiologies than the humans who still call Earth home. Gravity weighs heavier on Belters: it constricts their blood vessels, strains their hearts, and cracks their bones….
Author Grady Hendrix (‘Horrorstör’, ‘We Sold Our Souls’ and more!) graciously took time out of his busy schedule for an interview with our very own library staff member Kevin Kennel, to discuss his new book, ‘The Final Girl Support Group’ and his experiences as a writer and author. …Please note: this video contains adult content and is an interview about an adult horror novel.
… But in this world, we are never going to get the chance to start over. This was one of the reasons Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels objected to 19th-century utopias like that of Charles Fourier, the French designer of small communes living in perfect harmony: They were fantasy solutions that served only to distract people from the real work of politics and revolution. They were also in competition with Marx and Engels’s own ideas, so there was the usual left infighting. But it was a legitimate complaint: If utopia isn’t a political program, then what is it for?
The answer should be obvious. Utopias exist to remind us that there could be a better social order than the one we are in. Our present system is the result of a centuries-old power struggle, and it is devastating people and the biosphere. We must change it—and fast. But to what?
Utopias are thought experiments. Imagine if things ran like this: Wouldn’t that be good? Well, maybe…let’s live in it fictionally for a while. What problems crop up in this system? Can we solve them? What if we tweak things this way, or that? Let’s tell this story and then that story, and see how plausible they feel after we spend some imaginative time in them….
(11) STEPHEN HICKMAN (1949-2021). Famed sff artist Stephen Hickman died July 16 reported his friend and colleague Ron Miller on Facebook: “Lost one of my best friends, Steve Hickman, this morning and the world lost one of its best artists and finest human beings.” Hickman had over 350 book and magazine covers to his credit. He won the 1994 Best Original Artwork Hugo for his Space Fantasy Commemorative Stamp Booklet. He was a six-time Chesley Award winner.
The love of my life, Judi Beth Castro, lost her fight for life at 10:50 PM Thursday night. The illness was sudden, and she was always in critical danger, but between Tuesday night and Wednesday evening her numbers were improving at such a steady rate that we thought there was hope. Alas, the decline began on Thursday morning and by afternoon there was no doubt….
Her genre credits include Atlanta Nights (2005; a parody which she contributed to with many other co-authors), and the short fiction “Unfamiliar Gods” co-authored with Adam-Troy Castro.
(13) MEMORY LANE.
1953 – Sixty-eight years ago, Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe premiered as a black-and-white movie serial from Republic Pictures. It was originally going to be a syndicated television series. It was directed by Harry Keller, Franklin Adreon and Fred C. Brannon as written by Ronald Davidson and Barry Shipman. Its cast was Judd Holdren, Aline Towne, Gregory Gaye and Craig Kelly. It would last but one season of twelve twenty-five minute episodes. And yes, it was syndicated to television on NBC in 1955. Some sources say Dave Steven based his Rocketeer character off of Commando Cody. And there’s a clone trooper named Commander Cody who serves under Jedi general Obi-Wan Kenobi, an homage that Lucas has openly acknowledged as he watched the series as a child.
(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 16, 1928 — Robert Sheckley. I knew that his short story “Seventh Victim” was the basis of The 10th Victim film but I hadn’t known ‘til now that Freejack was sort of based of his Immortality, Inc. novel. I’ve read a lot by him with Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming (written with Zelazny) being my favorite work by him. Sheckley is very well stocked on the usual suspects. (Died 2005.)
Born July 16, 1929 — Sheri S. Tepper. Nominated for an Austounding Award way back when, she had a long career, so I’m going to single out Beauty, The Gate to Women’s Country, Six Moon Dance and The Companions as my favorites knowing very well that yours won’t be the same. (Died 2016.)
Born July 16, 1951 — Esther Friesner, 70. She’s won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story twice with “Death and the Librarian” and “A Birthday”. I’m particularly fond of The Sherwood Game and E.Godz which she did with Robert Asprin. She won the 1994 Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction, for lifetime contributions to science fiction, “both through work in the field and by exemplifying the personal qualities which made the late ‘Doc’ Smith well-loved by those who knew him,” presented by the New England Science Fiction Association. She’s well stocked at the usual suspects.
Born July 16, 1956 — Jerry Doyle. Now this one is depressing. Dead of acute alcoholism at sixty, his character Michael Garibaldi was portrayed as an alcoholic, sometimes recovering and sometimes not on Babylon 5. Damn. (Died 2016.)
Born July 16, 1963 — Phoebe Cates, 58. Ok, so her entire genre appearance credit is as Kate Beringer in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Yes, I’ll admit that they’re two films that I have an inordinate fondness for that the Suck Fairy cannot have any effect upon them what-so-ever. Update: I’ve discovered since I last noted her Birthday that she was in Drop Dead Fred, a dark fantasy. She also stopped acting six years ago.
Born July 16, 1965 — Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, 56. Best remembered genre wise as Tommy Webber in the much beloved Galaxy Quest though his longest acting role was Patton Plame on the cancelled NCIS: New Orleans.
Born July 16, 1966 — Scott Derrickson, 55. Director and Writer of Doctor Strange who also had a hand in The Day the Earth Stood Still (as Director), The Exorcism of Emily Rose (Director and Writer), Urban Legends: Final Cut (Director and Producer) and the forthcoming Labyrinth sequel (Director and Writer).
Born July 16, 1967 — Will Ferrell, 54. His last genre film was Holmes & Watson in which he played Holmes. It won Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screen Combo and, my absolute favourite Award, Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel. Wow. He was also in Land of the Lost which, errrr, also got negative reviews. Elf however got a great response from viewers and critics alike. He also was in two of the Austin Powers films as well. Oh, and he voices Ted / The Man with the Yellow Hat, a tour guide at the Bloomsberry Museum in Curious George.
…Facebook is a time suck garbage site that exists as the propaganda arm of the DNC/Corpo-Uni-Party, to spy on you to sell to advertisers, and to steal everyone’s personal information. After bamboozling all the content creators to go over there to build “community” they now hold them hostage because the content creators are scared to leave because they’ll take a financial hit (The Oatmeal’s got a great cartoon about it)….
(17) SUSTAINABLE USE OF SPACE.[Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In this week’s Science:
Last month, at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Cornwall, United Kingdom, the leading industrial nations addressed the sustainable and safe use of space, making space debris a priority and calling on other nations to follow suit. This is good news because space is becoming increasingly congested, and strong political will is needed for the international space community to start using space sustainably and preserve the orbital environment for the space activities of future generations.
There are more than 28,000 routinely tracked objects orbiting Earth. The vast majority (85%) are space debris that no longer serve a purpose. These debris objects are dominated by fragments from the approximately 560 known breakups, explosions, and collisions of satellites or rocket bodies. These have left behind an estimated 900,000 objects larger than 1 cm and a staggering 130 million objects larger than 1 mm in commercially and scientifically valuable Earth orbits.
(18) SUPERPRANKSTERS? Isaac Arthur’s video “Annoying Aliens” contends, “Fictional portrayals of alien invasion or reports of alien sightings and abductions often imply motives which on inspection make little sense… unless perhaps the true purpose was mischief.”
(19) DISCWORLD COMMENTARY. YouTuber Dominic Noble says he has finally overcome his “sense of loss and deep sadness at the tragically too early passing of the author [Terry Pratchett] due to Alzheimer’s disease” and is planning to do videos on the Discworld books. He begins with this overview of Discworld and his appreciation for it and for Pratchett.
It’s been a decade since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two arrived in theaters and brought an end to JK Rowling’s saga of witches and wizards. Like most 90s kids, I too read all the books and saw all the movies as a kid and teenager but have completely left the series behind since. Ten years later, how does Harry Potter hold up? In this video essay, I try to get to the heart of Harry Potter as while as examine my own relationship to the series.
No official works cited for this video, though I imagine my criticisms of Rowling’s transphobia will draw some ire. I have no intention of arguing the ethics or legitimacy of Rowling’s claims….
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Joey Eschrich, Chris M. Barkley, Jennifer Hawthorne, Steven H Silver, StephenfromOttawa, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, N., Daniel Dern, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]
(1) SPECULATIVE LITERATURE FOUNDATION. In the Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans podcast, episode 15, “An Interview with Farah Mendelsohn”, Mary Anne Mohanraj’s icebreaker question opens the way for an exchange with Farah Mendlesohn about the challenges of coming to a country from somewhere else, and some immediate worries for Mendlesohn about the consequence of Brexit. There follows discussion about international science fiction and Mendlesohn’s book The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein.
(2) HARRYHAUSEN AWARDS CREATED. The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation have announced a new film awards program — The Ray Harryhausen Awards — “established in honor of the legendary master of stop-motion animation.’ Beginning January 1, 2022 they will be accepting entries under the following categories:
Best Feature Film Animation
Best Short Film Animation
Best Student Film Animation
Best Commercial Film Animation
Best Online Film Animation
Best Television Animation
Harryhausen Hall of Fame Award
(3) FREE DOWNLOAD FROM TAFF. Rob Hansen collects the rare and esoteric convention reportage of … Rob Hansen! – in American Trips, the latest addition to the selection of free ebook downloads at David Langford’s unofficial Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund site, where they hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please.
Following the 1984 TAFF trip described at length in On the TAFF Trail, Rob Hansen attended a number of other US conventions and wrote further reports collected in this ebook – covering multiple Corflus (1986, 1989, 1990, 2013), two Disclaves (1992, 1995) and the 1997 Boskone/Fanhistoricon at which Rob, as Britain’s leading fan historian, was a special guest.
The cover art is by Rob Hansen. 41,000 words.
Here is a brief extract:
The conversation turned to convention reports and I outlined my conreport writing philosophy for them.
“D. West says they should be ‘the truth, the whole truth, and a few lies to make it interesting’. My reports are the truth,” I explained, “but enhanced. I give the truth a little nip and tuck, and maybe a nose job, but I never go as far as breast implants.”
(4) LGBT PUBLISHING CONTROVERSY IN HUNGARY. AP News that Hungarian authorities have issued a fine over a book featuring ‘rainbow families’. The book in question is by Lawrence Schimel, who started out in the sff genre. His work has received the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Associaton’s Rhysling and Dwarf Stars awards, the Gaylactic Spectrum Award, and also has twice received the Lambda Literary Award for non-genre work.
Hungarian authorities have fined the distributor of a children’s book that features families headed by same-sex parents, relying on a law prohibiting unfair commercial practices and fueling a debate over recent government steps seen as limiting the rights of LGBT people.
The fine comes as Hungary’s government is already under widespread scrutiny over legislation it passed last month that prohibits the depiction of homosexuality or gender reassignment to minors. The law, which is set to take effect on Thursday, was described by rights groups as an attack on the LGBT community, and rebuked by high-ranking European officials as a violation of the European Union’s values.
Speaking to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the law “a disgrace” and warned Hungary that the EU’s executive arm would use all its powers to uphold European law.
It was amid this escalation over Hungary’s policies that a local government fined the distributor of “What a Family” – a combined Hungarian translation of American author Lawrence Schimel’s books “Early One Morning” and “Bedtime, Not Playtime!”— $830. Each of Schimel’s books depicts the daily routines of a child, one with two mothers and one with two fathers.
The fine was imposed by the Pest County Government Office — the local authority responsible for the county surrounding Hungary’s capital, Budapest….
A Pest County official told commercial television station HirTV Tuesday that the book’s Hungarian distributor, the Foundation for Rainbow Families, had violated rules on unfair commercial practices by failing to clearly indicate that “What a Family!” contained “content which deviates from the norm.”
“The book was there among other fairytale books and thus committed a violation,” Pest County Commissioner Richard Tarnai said. “There is no way of knowing that this book is about a family that is different than a normal family.”…
(5) MEMORY LANE.
2009 – Twelve years ago this week the Warehouse 13 series premiered on Syfy. It was produced by Jacks Kenny, David Simkibs and Drew Greenberg. It was created by Jane Espenson, writer and producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Brent Mote who had little genre writing experience at all. The original cast was Eddie McClintock, Joanne Kelly and Saul Rubinek. It would run for five seasons and sixty four episodes. Almost all critics really liked it although one who didn’t called it, and I quote, “An unholy cross between The X-Files, Bones, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.” WTF?!? Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently really like it, giving it a rating of eighty eight percent. You can watch it on the Peacock streaming service where I plan on watching it. (CE)
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 8, 1906 — Walter Sande. He’s best remembered for being on Red Planet Mars, The War of the Worlds and Invaders from Mars, but he also showed up playing a heavy in such serials as The Green Hornets Strikes Again! and Sky Raiders, the latter being at least genre adjacent. He’s had a recurring role as Col. Crockett on The Wild Wild West, and one-offs on Voyage to the Bottom of The Sea, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Lost in Space and Bewitched. (Died 1971.)
Born July 8, 1944 — Jeffrey Tambor, 77. I first encountered him on Max Headroom as Murray, Edison’s editor. Later on, he’s Mayor Augustus Maywho in How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Finally I’ll note he was in both of the only true Hellboy films that there was playing Tom Manning, director of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense.
Born July 8, 1953 – Mark Blackman, 68. Mark frequently writes about the Fantastic Fiction at KGB and New York Review of Science Fiction readings series for File 770. He was a member of Lunarians and chaired Lunacon 38 in 1995. He was a member of the New York in 1989 Worldcon bid. (OGH)
Born July 8, 1955 — Susan Price, 66. English author of children’s and YA novels. She has won both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Prize for British children’s books. The Pagan Mars trilogy is her best known work, and The Sterkarm Handshake and its sequel A Sterkarm Kiss, will please Outlander fans.
Born July 8, 1970 — Ekaterina Sedia, 51. Her Heart of Iron novel which was nominated for a Sidewise Award for Alternate History is simply awesome. I’d also recommend The Secret History of Moscow as well. It’s worth noting that both the usual suspects list several collections by her, Willful Impropriety: 13 Tales of Society, Scandal, and Romance and Wilful Impropriety. They’re quite superb it turns out as is Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy anthology she edited which won a World Fantasy Award. I note that’s she not published anything for a half decade now.
Born July 8, 1978 — George Mann, 43. Writer and editor. He’s edited a number of anthologies including the first three volumes of Solaris Book of New Science Fiction. Among my favorite books by him are his Newbury & Hobbes series, plus his excellent Doctor Who work. The Affinity Bridge, the first in the Newbury & Hobbes series, was nominated for a Sidewise Award.
Born July 8, 1988 — Shazad Latif, 33. If you watched Spooks, you’ll remember him as Tariq Masood. (Spooks did become genre.) He was Chief of Security Ash Tyler in Discovery,andDr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in Penny Dreadful. He voiced Kyla in The Dark Crystal: Voice of Resistance. And he was in the Black Mirror episode “The National Anthem” as Mehdi Raboud.
(7) COMIC-CON SCHEDULE. Comic-Con@Home 2021 will run for three days from July 23-25. The online event is free to attend. The Program Schedule dropped today. All panels will be available to stream on the Comic-Con International YouTube page. Most will be pre-recorded.
…Jokingly calling the stuffed alligator a “real diva” on set, Herron explains that the series’ first AD “actually stuck googly eyes on it. It was like a Muppet character on set.” But Alligator Loki wasn’t all just fun and games, as he was useful for the actors who had to interact with him, especially Jack Veal (Kid Loki), who frequently carries Alligator Loki from location to location.
“You put [the stuffed alligator] in there, and the actors can interact with it and get a sense of how heavy or how large the alligator would be,” notes Herron. “[It was filmed] in the world of imagination with our cast because sometimes they were acting to a blade of grass.”
Like all characters, Alligator Loki also went through a few different looks before settling on the version viewers see on-screen.
“We had some early versions when we were doing visual effects that probably were a bit too cute, in the sense of it was a bit more like a cartoony kind of alligator,” Herron explains. “But it just became funnier and funnier the more it looked like a real alligator that just happened to be wearing the horns. That was the sweet spot. Once we landed in that spot where it felt like a real alligator, but with a kind of slightly jaunty horns on, that’s where we were like, ‘Oh, there he is.’”
However, this doesn’t answer the most pressing question: Is Alligator Loki really a Loki?
Enter the multiverse of unlimited possibilities. Watch the exciting trailer for Marvel Studios’ first animated series, What If…? “What If… ?” features fan-favorite characters, including Peggy Carter, T’Challa, Doctor Strange, Killmonger, Thor and more. The new series, directed by Bryan Andrews with AC Bradley as head writer, features signature MCU action with a curious twist. What If…? starts streaming August 11, 2021, with new episodes Wednesdays on Disney+.
“Big week for #BlackAdam shooting my ‘champion’ scenes with my shirt off and showing my body” reads the caption. “Been working extremely hard dieting, training and conditioning unlike any other role of my entire career.” Johnson goes on to explain his training strategy, from manipulating his electrolytes and incorporating more intense cardio to push-and-pull resistance training in order to get the “dense, dry, detailed muscle” definition that he wanted for his role. The new photo comes weeks after Johnson gave fans the tiniest hint of his Black Adam costume in a similar social media post.
…But as the trailer (below) proves, this version of the beloved holiday figure is anything but jolly, and the only gift he’ll be bringing this year is the baseball bat he seems to be wielding. (No word yet if it makes a difference whether you’re naughty or nice.)
(12) TRAILERS AND CLIPS. Recently unveiled, a featurette about King’s Man: Legacy, coming in December, and a trailer for The Addams Family 2, in theaters October 1
As a collection of history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds gather to plot a war to wipe out millions, one man must race against time to stop them. Discover the origins of the very first independent intelligence agency in The King’s Man.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Meredith, Michael J. Walsh, Daniel Dern, David Langford, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Peer.]
We are pleased to share an exciting publication update with everyone who has been looking forward to the release of The Culture: Notes and Drawings by Iain M. Banks and Ken MacLeod.
As fans of Iain M. Banks’ vastly popular Culture series will be aware, Iain painstakingly designed every element of the Culture’s universe long before the novels were first published. From ships to weapons, language to nomenclature, flora to fauna, the whole of the Culture existed in the form of intricate sketches, notes, tables and charts, many years ahead of its appearance in fiction.
This archival material provides a fascinating insight into Iain’s extraordinary mind. It was originally due to be published as a single volume, accompanied by text from the award-winning Ken MacLeod, who was a close friend of Iain’s. However, to ensure that Iain’s exceptionally detailed drawings can be appreciated in their original format and scale, we are delighted to announce that the material will now be published as two separate editions.
The first release will be a beautiful, full-colour, large-format landscape artbook called The Culture: The Drawings, which will present Iain’s drawings exactly as he intended them to be seen.
Following this, we will publish a Culture companion book that celebrates the world of the Culture through Iain’s own writing. With accompanying text from Ken MacLeod, it will include an extensive selection of Iain’s notes, tables and charts relating to the Culture universe, as well as extracts from the novels.
Given these changes in our publication plans, we are now cancelling the single edition entitled The Culture: Notes and Drawings that was scheduled for 14th October 2021. We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who had pre-ordered this single edition, and we’ll soon be announcing the release dates for the two new publications mentioned above
…The search for aliens has reached a stage of technological sophistication and associated risk that it needs strict regulation at national and international levels. Without oversight, even one person — with access to powerful transmitting technology — could take actions affecting the future of the entire planet.
That’s because any aliens we ultimately encounter will likely be far more technologically advanced than we are, for a simple reason: Most stars in our galaxy are much older than the sun. If civilizations arise fairly frequently on some planets, then there ought to be many civilizations in our galaxy millions of years more advanced than our own. Many of these would likely have taken significant steps to begin exploring and possibly colonizing the galaxy….
One of the perks of the digital age is that we have unprecedented access to the thoughts of incredibly powerful people. Never before have we been able to intimately experience the president’s thoughts on Coke or Cher’s thoughts on . . . Coke. Even Chrissy Teigen can’t leave Twitter for more than a few weeks; there’s a sense we might be equal-opportunity addicted. This is fun, sometimes, but also often leads to a powerful person tweeting out something that makes very little sense and then everyone else analyzing it. (Just look at the last four years.) I am part of the problem, because one of Elon Musk’s recent tweets raises a lot of questions I can’t stop myself from asking.
It’s been a rough year for the Mount Wilson Observatory.
First, the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to shut its doors to the public last spring.
Then, in September, flames from the massive Bobcat Fire came within just a few feet of the station, and threatened to destroy its historic array of telescopes and other astronomy equipment. A crowdfunding campaign was later launched to help repair damage.
Next Tuesday, the legendary observatory, which was founded in 1904, is making a comeback — and will reopen its gates to the public.
Sam Hale, chairman of the observatory’s board of trustees, said volunteers have been working tirelessly to maintain the station and its trove of sensitive instruments, despite the challenges of the past year.
“It has been very difficult for us,” Hale said. “First, the pandemic, then the Bobcat Fire — all in one year — was a real near-death experience. But people are feeling absolutely exhilarated.”
The gates will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the summer, according to the observatory’s website. Stargazers will also have an opportunity to book reservations to use the observatory’s 60- and 100-inch telescopes in the evening.
(5) NEWEST TAFF EBOOK. David Langford’s latest addition to the selection of free ebook downloads at the unofficial Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund site is a volume of Forties fan fiction, The Road to Fame by D.R. (Donald Raymond) Smith (25,000 words). Dave explains – “This is an interesting curio rather than one of those huge and newly researched compilations that I like to brag about, and as noted on the page there have been three previous print editions, but it has a certain weird mash-up charm.”
This early example of UK fan fiction – in the modern sense of stories that make free with other authors’ characters – was written in the 1940s and first published as a collected edition in 1953. There have been multiple reprints but no previous ebook.
The expedition team led by cranky Professor Challenger in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World here joins assorted characters from other fantastic fiction – including the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs (John Carter of Mars and Tarzan), John W. Campbell, E.E. “Doc” Smith (the Skylark and Lensman series), H.G. Wells and several others – on a quest for literary immortality. The perils en route are reminiscent of the much earlier The Pilgrim’s Progress and the somewhat later The Enchanted Duplicator:
“On the journey you will have to face such obstacles as the Impassable Precipice of Public Ridicule, the high passes of the Mountains of Contempt through which howls the High Wind of Carping Criticism, the Bog of Apathy in the lowlands beyond, and the vast waterless Plain of Mediocrity where hunt the Wild Wolves of Fierce Competition.”
(6) MICHELLE ZELLICH OBIT. Conrunner and member of the Archon board Michelle Zellich died June 9. The Archon team shared the sad news on Facebook:
Archon is incredibly saddened to say one of our longest serving Board and Committee members, Michelle Zellich, passed away Wednesday, June 9th. On behalf of the Board of Directors, Archon Convention Committee, Staff, and Volunteers, and the greater St. Louis (and national) fandom family, I wish to express our deepest condolences to Rich Zellich and the rest of their families on this devastating loss.
Michelle has been on the Archon Board of Directors since at least 1993 and has been an Archon icon for much longer. She ran the masquerade at Archon 10 (1986), 11, and 13, ran programming for Archon 15-18, and was Pro Liaison for Archon 19 & 20. She was co-chair for Archon 13, and was chair for Archon 12 and 21-30. Michelle was also the co-chair for Archon 31/TuckerCon which was the 9th NASFiC.
Michelle and Rich were Fan Guests of Honor for Archon 32 as a celebration of their efforts, but she wasn’t yet done with us. After a well-deserved year off, Michelle ran the Art Show for Archon 33-42 before her health forced her to step back from running a department.
It was fun at Archon 32 to watch Michelle walk around not knowing what to do with her “free time” and without her binder full of convention information. She was not used to not having to handle something, answer a question, or talk to the Gateway Center about an issue.
We will miss Michelle, her warm smile, her genuine affection for all of you who loved Archon, and her love of all things Donald Duck. I’m sure Wilson “Bob” Tucker was waiting for Michelle and had a shot ready. Smooth!
Goodbye Michelle and thanks for everything you did for Archon, the St. Louis area fandom, and the greater science fiction and fantasy world.
(7) DAMARIS HAYMAN (1929-2021). Damaris Hayman, noted for her many comedy performances, died June 3 at the age of 91. The Guardian’s tribute spotlighted this bit of genre fame:
…Her best television role came in the 1971 Doctor Who serial The Daemons, one of the most fondly remembered adventures featuring the third Doctor, Jon Pertwee. As Miss Hawthorne, the white witch of the village of Devil’s End (in reality Aldbourne, Wiltshire) she gamely stands up to Roger Delgado’s villainous Master and whacks a homicidal Morris dancer on the head with her handbag (rendering him unconscious due to her always carrying a crystal ball around in it). The character was popular enough for her to recreate the role in a 2017 direct-to-DVD sequel series from Reeltime Pictures, The White Witch of Devil’s End….
(8) BEN ROBERTS (1950-2021). Actor Ben Roberts, best known for his role on The Bill, died June 7 reports The Guardian, which also noted his genre work: .
…He was also seen as a villain in Tales of Sherwood (1989), but frequently had to convince Doctor Who fans that he was not the Ben Roberts who reportedly appeared uncredited as a Dalek trooper in the 1984 story Resurrection of the Daleks.
His later screen appearances [included] working with the director Tim Burton on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)….
(9) BANES OBIT. Actress Lisa Banes, whose many movie and TV appearances included The Orville, died June 14 at the age of 65 ten days after being hit by a motor scooter in a New York crosswalk.
“I am deeply saddened at the news of Lisa Banes’ passing,” wrote Seth MacFarlane. “We had the good fortune to work with her on The Orville this past year. Her stage presence, magnetism, skill and talent were matched only by her unwavering kindness and graciousness toward all of us. A tremendous loss…”
(10) MOSES GINSBERG (1935-2021). Called an “unconventional filmmaker” by the New York Times, Moses Ginsberg died May 23. His two notable films involved “the meltdown of a psychiatrist”and “a press aide in a Nixon-like administration who becomes a murderous werewolf.”
…He followed “Coming Apart” in 1973 with another low-budget film: “The Werewolf of Washington,” a campy political parody inspired by the classic horror film “The Wolf Man” (1941), which terrified Mr. Ginsberg as a boy, and by President Richard M. Nixon, who terrified him as a man.
In Mr. Ginsberg’s film, released more than a year into the Watergate scandal, Dean Stockwell plays an assistant White House press secretary who turns into a werewolf at inopportune moments and murders characters based on Katharine Graham, the publisher of The Washington Post, and Martha Mitchell, the outspoken wife of Attorney General John N. Mitchell….
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 1991 – On this month in 1991, Ian MacDonald’s King of Morning, Queen of Day was first published. It would win the the Philip K. Dick Award for best original science fiction paperback published in the U.S. in 1992, and it would win the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire Award for its French translation in the same year. It had but one physical printing in English in paperback but was printed in French and German hardcopy editions. It’s currently available at all the usual digital suspects.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 15, 1910 — Harold Lawlor. April 1942 saw “The Eternal Priestess” published in Fantastic Adventures, his first sale. His first story for Weird Tales was “Specter in the Steel”, May 1943. Over the next decade, twenty-nine stories by him would appear in Weird Tales. “Mayaya’s Little Green Men” in Weird Tales, November 1946 is of interest as it’s considered the earliest genre appearance of that phrase. Alas, I don’t believe his stories were ever collected and published. (Died 1992.)
Born June 15, 1939 — Brian Jacques. British author who surprisingly is not on the ISFDB list today. Writer of the exceedingly popular Redwall series of novels and also of the Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series. He also wrote two collections of Alan Garner style fiction, Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales and The Ribbajack & Other Curious Yarns. (Died 2012.)
Born June 15, 1941 — Neal Adams, 80. Comic book artist who worked for both DC and Marvel. Among his achievements was the creation with writer Dennis O’Neil of Ra’s al Ghul. I’m a DC fan so I can’t speak for his work on Marvel but he did amazing work on Deadman, Batman, Green Lantern and Green Arrow. All of this work is now available on the DC Universe app. It should be noted he was instrumental in the efforts that resulted in Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster receiving long overdue credit and financial remuneration from DC.
Born June 15, 1942 — Sondra Marshak, 79. Author of multiple Trek novels including The Price of the Phoenix and The Fate of the Phoenix, both co-written with Myrna Culbreath. She also wrote, again with Myrna Culbreath, Shatner: Where No Man…: The Authorized Biography of William Shatner which of course naturally lists Shatner as the third co-author. She also wrote the fandom reference book Star Trek Lives! which was co-written with Jacqueline Lichtenberg, and television producer Joan Winston. She was an important early promoter of Star Trek fan culture, and a publisher of fan fiction.
Born June 15, 1947 — David S Garnett, 74. Not to be confused with the David Garnett without an S. Author of the Bikini Planet novels (Stargonauts, Bikini Planet and Space Wasters) which should be taken as seriously as the names suggests. Revived with the blessing of Michael Moorcock a new version of New Worlds as an anthology this time. Last work was writing Warhammer novels.
Born June 15, 1960 — Sabrina Vourvoulias, 61. Thai-born author, an American citizen from birth brought up in Guatemala, but here since her teens. Her novel, Ink, deals with immigrants who are tattooed with biometric implants that are used to keep track of them no matter where they are. I’m assuming that the “Skin in the Game” story which appeared first on Tor.com is set in the future. Fair guess that “The Ways of Walls and Words” which also appeared on Tor.com is also set there. The Readercon 25 panel she was on, “East, West and Everything Between: A Roundtable on Latin@ Speculative Fiction” is available from the usual suspects, as is all of her fiction.
Born June 15, 1963 — Mark Morris, 58. English author known for his horror novels, although he has also written several novels based on Doctor Who and Torchwood. Given his horror background, these tend to be darker than many similar novels are, I recommend Forever Autumn and Bay of the Dead if you like a good chill.
Born June 15, 1973 — Neil Patrick Harris, 48. His first genre role was not Carl Jenkins in Starships Troopers, but rather Billy Johnson in Purple People Eater, an SF comedy best forgotten I suspect. Post-Starship Troopers, I’ve got him voicing Barry Allen / The Flash in Justice League: The New Frontier and Dick Grayson / Nightwing in Batman: Under the Red Hood. He also voiced Peter Parker and her superhero alias in Spider-Man: The New Animated Series. Finally he’s Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events which he also produces.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
The D&D player’s in Jason’s game (at FoxTrot) are almost cautious enough.
(14) NINETIES COLLECTIBLES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The Toy Zone’s article “The ‘90s Toys That Are Now Worth a Fortune” includes an interactive table of valuable toys. I’m sure it’s unnecessary to tell you that market fluctuations and condition of the item will make the large majority of toys worth far less than the prices quoted herein.
The most expensive 1990s toy sold is a Rainbow The Chameleon Beanie Baby from 1997 ($50,000).
Nine of the top 10 most valuable ‘90s toys are Beanie Babies.
The only top 10 toy not to be a Beanie Baby is a copy of Goldeneye 007 for Nintendo 64 ($14,999).
The most expensive action figure is Scratch from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Playmates ($5,850).
1. Spielberg’s commitment to practical effects was anything but practical.
Black-and-white serials like “Tarzan” and “Jungle Jim” couldn’t electrify their thrills with C.G.I. Neither would “Raiders.” The film’s set pieces, from locations to traps, are temples of old Hollywood craftsmanship. Indy’s seaplane departure, the snowbound Nepalese saloon and the plummeting cliffs of Cairo were all handmade matte paintings. On average, a matte painting has only a few seconds before the audience catches on to the trick. Yet, the sprawling warehouse in the film’s final shot had to command the screen for nearly half a minute and took the artist Michael Pangrazio three months to complete. For the opening boulder chase, Spielberg commissioned a 12-foot fiberglass and plaster rock mounted at the top of a 40-yard track. Even at a mere 300 pounds — mere, that is, relative to 80 tons of genuine granite — the fake behemoth shattered the prop stalagmites in its path and they had to be replaced between each take. And the boulder might have crushed the star Harrison Ford if he hadn’t outrun it all 10 times. “He was lucky,” Spielberg said in American Cinematographer magazine, “and I was an idiot for letting him try it.”
Virgil Finlay was an American pulp fantasy, science fiction and horror illustrator. While he worked in a range of media, from gouache to oils, Finlay specialized in detailed pen-and-ink drawings accomplished with abundant stippling, cross-hatching, and scratchboard techniques. This calendar showcases 12 such intricate and atmospheric line pen and ink drawings in all their glory. Informative text accompanies each work and the datepad features previous and next month’s views.
… A treasure trove of archive papers and personal objects belonging to the late Professor Stephen Hawking – from personalised wheelchairs and scientific bets signed with Hawking’s thumbprint to his seminal papers on theoretical physics and his scripts from The Simpsons – have been acquired by the Science Museum Group and Cambridge University Library….
Selected highlights from Hawking’s office will go on public view for the first time in a new display at the Science Museum in early 2022. Later next year, global audiences will be able to explore hundreds of remarkable items from Hawking’s working life when this significant acquisition is catalogued, photographed and published to the Science Museum Group’s popular online collection.
For something that was to have been done and thrown away three years ago, NASA’s Juno spacecraft has a busy schedule ahead exploring Jupiter and its big moons.
The spacecraft entered orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016, and has survived bombardment from intense radiation at the largest of the solar system’s planets. It is now finishing its primary mission, but NASA has granted it a four-year extension and 42 more orbits. Last week, it zipped past Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon.
“Basically, we designed and built an armored tank,” said Scott J. Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, who is the mission’s principal investigator. “And it’s worked.”
Jupiter is essentially a big ball of mostly hydrogen, but it has turned out to be a pretty complicated ball. The mission’s discoveries include lightning higher up than thought possible, rings of stable storms at the north and south poles, and winds extending so deep into the interior that they might push around the planet’s magnetic fields.
“I think this has been a revelation,” said David J. Stevenson, a professor of planetary science at the California Institute of Technology and a co-investigator on the mission.
Juno’s highly elliptical path, pitched up at almost a 90-degree angle to the orbits of Jupiter’s moons, passes over the planet’s north and south poles. On each orbit, Juno swoops in, reaching a top speed of 130,000 miles per hour as it passes within a few thousand miles of Jupiter’s clouds….
Juno also has or will visit Jovian moons Ganymede, Io and Europa.
…At Europa, JunoCam will be pointed at the dividing line between day and night. In recent years, observations by the Hubble Space Telescope have indicated eruptions of water vapor from the ocean breaking through the icy surface. The hope is that JunoCam might fortuitously capture a water plume, backlit by sunlight…
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Cruella” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say that Cruella is in the mode of “quasi-redemptive villain origin stories” similar to the prequels for Darth Vader, Norman Bates, the Joker, the Wizard of Oz, the apes from the Planet of the Apes, and the Minions, but Cruella is a “vil-quil” that is “the world’s first reimagined satirical coming-of-age revenge heist comedy drama” that’s basically “an excuse for two fashionistas to dress-fight one another.” But how does Cruella manage to have a chase scene in 1970s London with a car with a right-hand drive?
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Will R., Darrah Chavey, Fred Brooks, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) HANSEN BOOK FREE FROM TAFF. Another ebook is available from the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, #60 in the free library, Rob Hansen’s Faan Fiction 1930-2020: an exploration. Cover artwork adapted from Rob Hansen’s cover for his fanzine Epsilon #7, July 1981. Approximately 61,000 words. (TAFF hopes you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please.)
In this combined critique and anthology, Rob Hansen discusses the phenomenon of fan fiction (in the fannish fanzine sense) with a particular focus on the UK. His commentary is interspersed with many examples from such diverse fan writers as John Berry, C.S. Youd (John Christopher), Leroy Kettle, David Langford, Mark Plummer, Bob Shaw, Ian Sorensen, James White, Walt Willis – and Rob Hansen himself, including previously unpublished work. There are several surprises.
From Rob Hansen’s Foreword:
One aspect of fandom only lightly touched on by me in Then was fan fiction. By which, of course, I mean fiction about fans and/or fandom. This is a thread that has been woven through SF fandom since it began, enduring almost to the present day, and so is worthy of consideration in that light. I’ll be looking at the people who wrote it and all its various forms and the purposes to which they were put. Inevitably, the quality of the writing varies wildly, with that of those who later went on to write professionally usually being a cut above the rest.
…Where possible the pieces of fan fiction reprinted herein to illustrate various types and forms – all by UK fans – were specifically chosen from those not already available. As a result, most will be things the majority of readers won’t have encountered before.
(2) SF ART COLLECTORS WILL SPEAK. Tomorrow on Comic Art Spotlight Doug Ellis joins a panel with three friends — Glynn Crain, John Davis & Victor Dricks — discussing SF/fantasy art. All four have large collections of vintage SF art. They’ll be highlighting and discussing various artists and pieces in those collections, including creators like Virgil Finlay, Frank Kelly Freas, Ed Emshwiller, Wally Wood, Ed Valigursky, George Barr and many more. The panel kicks off June 1 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern:
John, whose last name is never revealed, is a wandering singer who carries a guitar strung with strings of pure silver. He is a veteran of the Korean War and served in the U.S. Army as a sharpshooter (in the novel After Dark, he mentions that his highest rank was PFC). In his travels, he frequently encounters creatures and superstitions from the folk tales and superstitions of the mountain people. Though John has no formal education, he is self-taught, highly intelligent and widely read; it is implied that his knowledge of occult and folk legendarium is of Ph.D level. This knowledge has granted him competent use of white magic, which he has used on occasion to overcome enemies or obstacles, but it is primarily his courage, wit and essential goodness that always enables him to triumph over supernatural evils (although the silver strings of his guitar and his possession of a copy of The Long Lost Friend are also powerful tools in fighting evil magic), while basic Army training allows him to physically deal with human foes.
Haffner recently posted this photo of artist Tim Kirk’s dropcaps for the book.
Back in March I ended my post on the psychedelia-derived art style that I think of as “the groovy look” with the words “there’s a lot more to be found.” There is indeed, and I’d neglected to include anything in the post by Mike Hinge, a New Zealand-born illustrator whose covers for American SF magazines in the 1970s brought a splash of vivid colour to the groove-deprived world of science fiction. This was a rather belated development for staid titles like Amazing and Analog whose covers in the previous decade wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Gernsback era. Opening the door to someone like Mike Hinge, a graphic designer as well as a general illustrator, was probably a result of both magazines having undergone recent changes of editorship.
(5) HEVELIN COLLECTION UPDATE.[Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.]Just found out the University of Iowa’s “Hevelin Collection” Tumblr account, which posted pics of items from Rusty Hevelin’s collection of fanzine and other SFnal material (but has been inactive for the last several years), announced about ten days ago they’re officially suspending the Tumblr. (But past posts will remain online for the foreseeable future.)
And rather than single pictures like the Tumbler account did, the IDL archive leads to scans of the full contents, so far as I’ve tested it. Probably a fair amount of overlap with Fanac.org and eFanzines.com, but always good to have fannish history backed up in multiple places.
(The IDL archive may, it occurs to me, be old news to those who keep up with fanzines past and and present more than I do. “Slight” is a polite way to describe my level of involvement these days. Still, news to me.)
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
May 31, 1990 — On this day in 1990, Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall premiered. It starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, and Michael Ironside. It’s rather loosely based on Philip K. Dick‘s “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” story. Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon and Gary Goldman wrote the screenplay. It finished second at Chicon V for Best Dramatic Presentation to Edward Scissorhands. Most critics liked it well-enough though a number of feminist critics thought it excessively violent towards women. It currently holds a seventy-eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 31, 1893 – Elizabeth Coatsworth. Newbery Medal for The Cat Who Went to Heaven (1930). Four “incredible tales” for adults; four books of poetry; ninety in all; memoir Personal Geography. (Died 1986) [JH]
Born May 31, 1895 — George R. Stewart. As recently noted in the Scroll, his 1949 novel Earth Abides won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951. They were a British award and the first one, this very one, was given at Festivention. Other genre works would include Man, An Autobiography and Storm which is at least genre adjacent. (Died 1980.) (CE)
Born May 31, 1910 – Aubrey MacDermott. Possibly the first fan. He always said he was. Unfortunately, the supporting evidence is thin. He may well have founded the Eastbay Club in the San Francisco Bay area around 1928. Anyway, he was Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon XXXX (Oakland, 1987). Here is his Origin Story as of 1990. (Died 1996) [JH]
Born May 31, 1921 – Arthur Sellings. Six novels, fifty shorter stories, in Fantastic, Galaxy, Imagination, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nebula, New Worlds, New Writing, Worlds of Tomorrow. Antiquarian, book & art dealer. (Died 1968) [JH]
Born May 31, 1930 — Gary Brandner. Best remembered for his werewolf trilogy of novels, The Howling, of which the first was very loosely made into a film. He wrote the script for Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf. The fourth film of the series, Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, is actually almost an accurate adaptation of the first novel. He wrote a lot of other horror and penned the novelization of Cat People. (Died 2013.) (CE)
Born May 31, 1942 – Brian Burley. Active fan in Ohio and New York. Co-founded Marcon. In 1979 he was in FISTFA (Fannish Insurgent Scientifictional Ass’n); here he is (with S.H. Craig and Pat O’Neill) on “Fandom in New York” for the Lunacon XXII Program Book. Co-founded the Beaker People Libation Front, which Fancyclopedia III mildly calls “not entirely serious”; see here. (Died 2006) [JH]
Born May 31, 1948 — Lynda Bellingham. She was The Inquisitor in the Sixth Doctor Story, “The Trial of The Time Lord”. Other genre appearances include the Landlady in Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairy Tale, and one-offs in Blake’s 7, Robin Hood and Julia Jekyll and Harriet Hyde. (Died 2014.) (CE)
Born May 31, 1950 — Gregory Harrison, 71. I’m always surprised to discover a series didn’t last as long as I thought it has. He was Logan 5 in the Logan’s Run TV series which only lasted fourteen episodes. He was also in Dark Skies, twenty episodes before cancellation, as the voice of Old John Loengard, and had one-offs in Dead Man’s Gun (cursed object and that series actually lasted awhile), Touched by an Angel, Outer Limits and Miracles. (CE)
Born May 31, 1961 — Lea Thompson, 60. She’s obviously best known for her role as Lorraine Baines in the Back to the Future trilogy though I remember her first as Beverly Switzler in Howard the Duck as I saw Back to the Future after I saw Howard the Duck. Not sure why that was. Her first genre role was actually as Kelly Ann Bukowski in Jaws 3-D, a film I most decidedly did not see. If you accept the Scorpion series as genre, she’s got a recurring role as Veronica Dineen on it. (CE)
Born May 31, 1977 – Cat Hellisen, age 44. Fantasy for adults and children; free-lance editing; also archery, aikidô, figure skating. Six novels, a score of shorter stories. “The Worme Bridge” won the Short Story Day Africa award. More recently in Fife she likes the forests and the fields and the Forth. Has read Giovanni’s Room, Flatland, Herland, five plays by Aeschylus, Peter Pan, both Alice books, Les liasons dangereuses, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. [JH]
Born May 31, 1979 — Sophia McDougall, 42. She has a very well crafted alternative history series, the Romanitas series, In which Rome did not fall and rules the world today. She has two SF novels —Mars Evacuees is sort of YA alien invasion novel; Space Hostages reminds of a Heinlein YA novel. (CE)
Born May 31, 1995 – Jeremy Szal, age 26. One novel, thirty shorter stories. Fiction editor at StarShipSofa 2014-2020 (Episodes 360-600). Collects boutique gins. See his review of Predestination at Strange Horizons here. [JH]
(8) COMICS SECTION.
Half Fullcould be making a combined Alice in Wonderland and Simon & Garfunkel joke. Or not.
(10) SHAVER MYSTERY MAGAZINE ADDED BY FANAC. “If you’ve been hearing the words ‘Shaver Mysteries’ bruited about, now’s your chance to see what all the fuss is over,” says Fanac.org’s Joe Siclari. Check here: Shaver Mystery Magazine, by Richard S. Shaver. There are 7 issues of this semi-pro, related zine.
Siclari further says, “Some might not consider this a fanzine because rumor has it that it was paid for by Ray Palmer and Ziff-Davis. However the Shaver Mystery stories were a subject of great controversy in fanzines. So it is of related interest. It definitely was not a money-maker. It seems to fit into the category we later called a semi-prozine. And the art! McCauley, Finlay…”
To Furie, the NFT realm is about more than coin. During the era of Donald Trump, extremist social media users adapted Pepe so often that the Anti-Defamation League deemed it a hate symbol. But the exploding world of crypto-art is allowing the cartoonist to reclaim a character who was never meant to stand for much beyond love, peace, hedonism and altered-state chillaxin’.
“The NFT world is new, and there are a lot of optimistic people creating cool things,” Furie says of his interest in exploring non-fungible tokens — unique digital files whose origins and ownership can be verified.“Pepe does not have the baggage here that he does in the ‘real world,’ and I like working with utopians and optimistic freethinkers. There are so many possibilities.”
These rare curiosities intrigue and baffle even the experts. “They’re a puzzle to me,” says Jean Schulz, wife of the late cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, who drew them.
They are the seven black-and-white works of comic art from the mid-’50s collectively called the “Hagemeyer” strips. Four of them have appeared in books. The three other “lost” strips were found and purchased at auction in May 2020— but have never been widely published, according to the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center.
SF is full of exotic substances from Cavorite to Corbomite. Now it has been discovered that the world’s first nuclear bomb test created ‘impossible’ quasicrystals.
The previously unknown structure, made of iron, silicon, copper and calcium, probably formed from the fusion of vaporised desert sand and copper cables. Quasicrystals contain building blocks made up of arrangements of atoms that — unlike those in ordinary crystals — do not repeat in a regular, brickwork-like pattern. They have symmetries that were once considered impossible.
Materials scientist Daniel Shechtman first discovered such an impossible symmetry in a synthetic alloy in 1982. He won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery. In subsequent years, materials scientists synthesised many types of quasicrystal, expanding the range of possible symmetries. In the aftermath of the Trinity test — the first detonation of a nuclear bomb in 1945 researchers found a field of greenish glassy material that had formed from the liquefaction of desert sand. They dubbed this trinitite. The bomb had been detonated on top of a 30-metre-high tower laden with sensors and their cables. As a result, some of the trinitite had reddish inclusions: it was a fusion of natural material with copper from the transmission lines. The quasicrystal recently found from this trinitite has the same kind of icosahedral symmetry as the one in Shechtman’s original discovery.
A survey of the southern sky has reconstructed how mass is spread across space and time, in the biggest study of its kind. The data provide striking evidence that dark energy, the force that appears to be pushing the Universe to accelerate its expansion, has been constant throughout cosmic history.
…The researchers grouped the galaxies by colour, to get a rough indication of each galaxy’s distance from our own: as the Universe expands, galaxies that are further away appear redder because their light waves have stretched out to longer wavelengths. That way, the team was able to add a third dimension to its map.
Looking further away also corresponds to looking to the past, so a 3D cosmic map provides a record of the Universe’s history. By tracking how galaxies spread out over time, cosmologists can then indirectly measure the forces at play. These include the gravitational pull of dark matter, the invisible stuff that constitutes some 80% of the Universe’s mass and dominates the formation of galaxies and clusters of galaxies.
…“The lethal autonomous weapons systems were programmed to attack targets without requiring data connectivity between the operator and the munition: in effect, a true ‘fire, forget and find’ capability,” the UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Libya wrote in the report.
It remains unconfirmed whether any soldiers were killed in the attack, although the UN experts imply as much. The drone, which can be directed to self-destruct on impact, was “highly effective” during the conflict in question when used in combination with unmanned combat aerial vehicles, according to the panel. The battle resulted in “significant casualties,” it continued, noting that Haftar’s forces had virtually no defense against remote aerial attacks.
The Kargu-2 is a so-called loitering drone that uses machine learning algorithms and real-time image processing to autonomously track and engage targets. According to Turkish weapons manufacturer STM, it’s specifically designed for asymmetric warfare and anti-terrorist operations and has two operating modes, autonomous and manual. Several can also be linked together to create a swarm of kamikaze drones.
Breaking the bonds of time has been a timeless pursuit in science fiction stories and movies. Will it ever become science fact? Correspondent Faith Salie explores the possibilities of taking a journey to the future, or the past, even without a souped-up DeLorean.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Cruella Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George, in a spolier-filled episode, says that the only way to get viewers interested in Cruelle DeVil’s backstory–“How does she become the person who wants to skin puppies?”–is to have her work for a boss even more evil than her. Also the screenwriter warns the producer that if he wants all those groovy hits of the 1970s in the movie, he’d better have plenty of money for the rights.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, David Langford, Jennifer Hawthorne, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little.]