(1) FIVE-STAR FRAUD. “Amazon Fake Reviews Scam Exposed in Data Breach” reports The Passive Voice.
The SafetyDetectives cybersecurity team uncovered an open ElasticSearch database exposing an organized fake reviews scam affecting Amazon.
The server contained a treasure trove of direct messages between Amazon vendors and customers willing to provide fake reviews in exchange for free products. In total, 13,124,962 of these records (or 7 GB of data) have been exposed in the breach, potentially implicating more than 200,000 people in unethical activities.
Sellers would tell prospective reviewers they bought an item from Amazon and gave them a 5-star review, the seller would refund the purchase price and let the customer keep the item. The refund was actioned through PayPal and not directly through Amazon’s platform, which made the five-star review look legitimate to Amazon moderators.
(2) MOVERS AND SHAKERS. K. W. Colyard contends these are “The Most Influential Sci-Fi Books Of All Time” in a Book Riot post. By my count it has 73 books. Notwithstanding the title, its work is more along the lines of advising people if-you-like-this-book-you’ll-like-these-other-books.
…The most influential sci-fi books of all time have shaped not just science fiction and its myriad sub-genres, but horror, fantasy, and manga, as well. Filmmakers have drawn inspiration for the stories between their covers, and real-world STEM developments have been made in their names. Without these books, for better or worse, our world would not be what it is today….
I was delighted to see this title in the list, though perhaps I shouldn’t say that too loudly since my past enthusiasm for its Hugo win so annoyed Jo Walton she wrote a whole book about the award:
DOOMSDAY BOOK BY CONNIE WILLIS (1992)
A Hugo and Nebula winner, Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book follows a time-traveling historian to 14th century Oxford, where she becomes stranded in the midst of the Black Death, thanks to a global influenza outbreak spreading in her home time. A treat for all readers, Doomsday Book will particularly tickle fans of other stories about time-traveling academics, such as Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair and Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library.
(3) OFF SOCIAL MEDIA. Julie Poole, a poet and nonfiction author, has an opinion piece on Publishers Weekly: “A Writer Says Goodbye to the Twittersphere”.
…I recognized that my unwillingness to create accounts and slowly but surely amass a following could be a deal breaker for agents, editors, and publishers alike. My response is this: does anyone remember Myspace? People are already leaving Facebook in droves. While Twitter and Instagram are holding strong, Gen Z has found TikTok and Snapchat, hinting that they might be reluctant to type or read 280 characters or view images that don’t move. Or maybe Gen Z will give up social for good, having seen the sort of harm it can do.
Culture is always shifting. The market is saturated with writers who want to reach readers. I want readers, too; however, I’ve decided to put my health and well-being first. No one needs to see the paranoid stuff I’d post—about hidden cameras and tracking devices—amid a manic episode. And I don’t need to feel addicted, anxious, depressed, or numbed out by platforms that are designed to sell ads.
In the end, it’s all about the words. And the best thing I can do for my career is just write.
FOUNDATION BITE OF THE APPLE. SYFY Wire has the story: “AppleTV+ renews Foundation for Season 2, Goyer celebrates more Asimov stories”.
The ambitious screen adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s award-winning classic book series has paid off at Apple TV+, with Apple revealing today that Foundation — only into its fourth week at the premium streamer — already has been renewed for a second season….
(5) METROPOLIS ON THE BLOCK. Bidding ends October 14 on The Gary Munson Collection of Horror and Fantasy Rare Books Auction at Heritage Auctions. Many nice copies and first editions of important SF/Horror/Fantasy works. Among them are three different early editions of Metropolis by Thea von Harbou, a work better remembered for its film adaptation by the author’s husband, Fritz Lang, in 1927. The auction notes say —
The film was written by von Harbou in collaboration with her husband, Fritz Lang, who also directed the movie adaptation. Indeed, the book itself was intended to be something of a treatment prior to the final screenplay and filming actually began before the book was published.
There’s a signed limited edition, a regular first edition, and a second photoplay edition, which HA all dates to 1926.
(6) RAND REPORT. Watching the latest (in 1966) episode of Star Trek, Galactic Journey’s Janice L. Newman notices a disturbing trend: “[October 12, 1966] Inside Out (Star Trek’s ‘The Enemy Within’)”.
… The episode begins with the transporter being used to ‘beam up’ one of the ubiquitous extras from a planet which, we are told, gets very cold at night. There’s some sort of malfunction with the transporter, and when Captain Kirk is beamed up next, he sways as though faint. Scotty escorts him to sick bay, leaving the transporter room empty when it activates again and beams in…another Captain Kirk?
It’s immediately apparent that something is off about the second Kirk. He rushes over to Sick Bay to demand alcohol from Doctor McCoy, yells at crewmates, and in a deeply disturbing scene, menaces and attacks Yeoman Rand. (Is it just me, or does it feel like Yeoman Rand’s only purpose aboard the ship is to be menaced and attacked? We’ve seen it happen in the past three episodes: Charlie in “Charlie X”, a random infected crewperson in “The Naked Time”, and now the captain himself.)…
(7) RUTHIE TOMPSON (1910-2021). Ruthie Tompson, named a Disney Legend in 2000, died October 10 reports the New York Times: “Ruthie Tompson Dies at 111; Breathed Animated Life Into Disney Films”.
If Snow White looked suitably snowy in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” Disney’s first animated feature; if Pinocchio’s nose grew at just the right rate; if Dumbo was the correct shade of elephantine gray; all that is due in part to the largely unheralded work of Ruthie Tompson.
One of a cadre of women who in the 1930s and ’40s worked at Disney in indispensable anonymity — and one of its longest-lived members — Ms. Tompson, who died on Sunday at 111, spent four decades at the studio. Over time, she worked on nearly every one of Disney’s animated features, from “Snow White” to “The Rescuers,” released in 1977.
A Disney spokesman, Howard Green, said she died at the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s retirement community in Woodland Hills, Calif., where she had been a longtime resident.
Ms. Tompson joined Disney as an inker and painter. She later trained her eye on the thousands of drawings that make up an animated feature, checking them for continuity of color and line. Still later, as a member of the studio’s scene planning department, she devised exacting ways for its film cameras to bring those flat, static drawings to vivid animated life.
“She made the fantasies come real,” John Canemaker, an Oscar-winning animator and a historian of animation, said in an interview for this obituary in 2017. “The whole setup then was predigital, so everything was paper, camera, film and paint.”…
(8) MEMORY LANE.
- 1988 – Thirty three years ago, Jane Yolen’s Sister Light, Sister Dark was first published by Tor. It was nominated for a Nebula Award. It’s the first novel of her Great Alta Saga which is continued in White Jenna and would be concluded in The One-Armed Queen in which a character named Cat Eldridge appears as an ethnomusicologist. (I found her a century old folktale collection she wanted. It was a fair exchange. She’s now on the list of folk who get chocolate from me regularly.) The series would be nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award but that would go to Ellen Kushner’s Thomas the Rhymer that year. The Great Alta Saga is available at a very reasonable price from the usual digital suspects.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born October 12, 1904 — Lester Dent. Pulp-fiction author who was best known as the creator and main author of the series of novels chronicling Doc Savage. Of the one hundred eighty-one Doc Savage novels published by Street and Smith, one hundred seventy-nine were credited to Kenneth Robeson; and all but twenty were written by Dent. Several writers of late have featured him as a character in their novels. (Died 1959.)
- Born October 12, 1916 — Lock Martin. His claim to fame was that he was one of the tallest humans that ever lived. At seven feet and seven inches (though this was disputed by some as everything is, isn’t it?), he was also quite stocky. He had the distinction of playing Gort in The Day The Earth Stood Still. He was also in The Incredible Shrinking Man as a giant, but his scenes were deleted. (I suspect those deleted scenes for The Incredible Shrinking Man are now available given our present reality.) He shows up in Invaders from Mars as the Mutant carrying David to the Intelligence though he goes uncredited in the film. And lastly he’s a yeti in The Snow Man which he is credited for. (Died 1959.)
- Born October 12, 1942 — Daliah Lavi. She’s in Casino Royale as The Detainer, a secret agent. In the same year, she was in Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon as Madelaine. She was Purificata in The Demon, an Italian horror film. If you’re into German popular music, you might recognize her as she was quite successful there in Seventies and Eighties. (Died 2017.)
- Born October 12, 1956 — Storm Constantine. Writer with her longest running series being the Wraeththu Universe which had at least four separate series within it, all of which are known for their themes of alternative sexuality and gender. She had also written a number of non-fiction (I think they are) works such as Sekhem Heka: A Natural Healing and Self Development System and The Grimoire of Deharan Magick: Kaimana. (Died 2021.)
- Born October 12, 1963 — David Legeno. He’s best remembered as Fenrir Greyback both of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows films. His first genre role was in Batman Begins as League of Warriors villain, and he had a role as Borch in the quite excellent Snow White and the Huntsman. Mike reported on his tragic death here. (Died 2014.)
- Born October 12, 1965 — Dan Abnett, 56. His earlier work was actually on Doctor Who Magazine, but I’ll single out his co-writing Guardians of the Galaxy #1–6 with Andy Lanning, The Authority: Rule Britannia and his Border Princes novel he did in the Torchwood universe as great looks at him as a writer. And let’s not forget his script for DC’s The New Deadwardians.
- Born October 12, 1966 — Sandra McDonald, 55. Author of some sixty genre short stories, some of which are collected in Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories (which won a Lambda Award for LGBT SF, Fantasy and Horror Works) and Lovely Little Planet: Stories of the Apocalypse. Outback Stars is her space opera-ish trilogy. All three of her novels are available from the usual suspects but neither of her short story collections are.
- Born October 12, 1968 — Hugh Jackman, 53. Obviously Wolverine in the Marvel film franchise. He’s also been the lead character in Van Helsing as well as voicing him in the animated prequel Van Helsing: The London Assignment. One of his most charming roles was voicing The Easter Bunny in The Rise of The Guardians, one of my favorite films. And he played Robert Angier in Nippon 2007 Hugo-nominated The Prestige based off the World Fantasy Award winning novel written by the real Christopher Priest, not that pretender.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Bizarro follows a house hunting genie.
(11) SUPERMAN JR.’S LOVE LIFE. “The New Superman Is Officially Bisexual” – Yahoo! has details.
DC’s league of queer superheroes (or queeroes, if you will) just added another character to its ranks: none other than the Man of Steel himself, Superman. Or, to be more specific, Superman Jr.
Jon Kent, the half-human, half-Kryptonian son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, is the newest hero to wear the iconic “S” and take on the mantle of Superman within the sprawling continuity of DC Comics. And on November 9, in Superman: Son of Kal-El #5, he will come out as bisexual.
The story, which was written by Tom Tayler and drawn by Jon Timms, includes a scene in which an exhausted Jon opens up to his friend Jay Nakamura, leading to the two characters sharing a kiss. And the apple doesn’t appear to have fallen too far from the tree: just like his dad, Jon has developed feelings for a reporter….
This development for the newest Superman of Earth marks the latest in a series of inclusive creative decisions at DC. Last year, Kid Quick was introduced as a gender-non-conforming successor to The Flash, while Young Justice‘s next-generation Aquaman is currently an openly gay young man. Most recently, the current comic book version of Robin discovered he was attracted to men. They join a long lineage of DC characters who have become more inclusive of LGBTQ+ representation, including Batwoman, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Midnighter and The Aerie….
Comicsgate’s Jon Del Arroz was quick to throw shade on these developments in a YouTube video:
Today Superman, the strongest hero on the planet, comes out as bisexual. Oh my God it’s just super cringe and this is exactly what they do. The whole point of this exercise by Tom Taylor is to get a New York Times article, to get an IGN article, to get on the front page of whatever. What used to happen in comics in the early 2000s is they found out that via gimmicks — actually this started in the back 90s with the Death of Superman — they found out that through gimmicks of killing off major characters and all that and doing things like killing Captain America, and Civil War and all that they could get mainstream attention to their comic book. They could get a buzz in the media. And so the comic industry shifted from one of telling interesting stories one of really keeping readers engaged based on continuity, based on love of the characters, based on great heroic battles, it shifted to what gimmick can we get out so that the mainstream industry media industry picks up our stories so that we can sell a couple extra short-term books. And it really is that cynical. It really is that lame. And once that stopped working, because they overused the death of everybody — I mean at this point I think they’re doing the death of Doctor Strange, it’s like he’s going to come back next week or whatever so like who cares….
Actor Dean Cain was critical, too, but as someone who used to play Superman he got to complain on Fox: “Dean Cain Slams Superman Coming Out as Bisexual” says The Hollywood Reporter story.
Former Superman actor Dean Cain has criticized DC Comics’ decision to have the current Superman come out as bisexual.
“They said it’s a bold new direction, I say they’re bandwagoning,” the 55-year-old actor told Fox & Friends on Tuesday. “Robin just came out as bi — who’s really shocked about that one? The new Captain America is gay. My daughter in [The CW series] Supergirl, where I played the father, was gay. So I don’t think it’s bold or brave or some crazy new direction. If they had done this 20 years ago, perhaps that would be bold or brave.
“Brave would be having him fighting for the rights of gay people in Iran where they’ll throw you off a building for the offense of being gay,” Cain continued. “They’re talking about having him fight climate change and the deportation of refugees, and he’s dating a hacktivist — whatever a hactivist is. Why don’t they have him fight the injustices that created the refugees whose deportation he’s protesting? That would be brave, I’d read that. Or fighting for the rights of women to attend school and have the ability to work and live and boys not to be raped by men under the new warm and fuzzy Taliban — that would be brave. There’s real evil in this world today, real corruption and government overreach, plenty of things to fight against. Human trafficking — real and actual slavery going on. … It’d be great to tackle those issues.”
(12) SECRET SHARER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from a Washington Post article by Devlin Barrett and Moriah Balingit about Jonathan Toebbe, who was arrested and charged with passing on nuclear submarine secrets to a foreign power. “Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, accused spies, due in federal court Tuesday”.
…Toebbe’s Facebook page indicated that one of his favorite books is Cryptonomicon–a thick science fiction novel popular with math and computer science geeks. One of the protagonists is Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse, a mathematical genius and young Navy captain, whose grandson becomes a ‘crypto-hacker’ on a mission to build a ‘futuristic data haven…where encrypted data can be stored and exchanged free of oppression and scrutiny….
(13) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter did not touch that dial! So he was tuned in when Jeopardy! contestants hit some bumps in tonight’s episode.
Final Jeopardy: category, Publishing
Answer: Last name of brothers James, John, Joseph & Fletcher, whose company published magazines with their name as well as books.
Wrong question: Who is Penguin?
Correct question: What is Harper?
In another category, “Making a short story long,” the answer was: “This sci-fi great teamed with Robert Silverberg to expand his classic 1941 short story ‘Nightfall’ into a 1990 novel.”
The contestant correctly asked, “Who is Isaac Asimov?”
(14) USER GUIDANCE REFRESHED AT A WELL-KNOWN PLATFORM. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Daily Kos updated its “Rules of the Road,” which seems (to me) a lot like what [us] fans call CoC (Code of Conduct). I have NOT read their full document, so I am not (here) endorsing, advocating, criticizing or otherwise opining on the document nor suggesting that SF cons, etc be looking for lembas-for-thought. I am (simply) noting the document, in case either of you might find it worth perusing. “Introducing the new-and-improved Rules of the Road”. Here’s an example of one of the changes:
- The next difference in this updated version is we added a new entry, #13, to our DO list about avoiding microaggressions:
DO recognize and avoid microaggressions. Microaggressions are subtle slights, comments, gestures, and behaviors that convey implicit biases against marginalized groups and people. Microaggressive comments and behavior are often unintentional but that does not mitigate the harm to the recipient. Examples include making a comment that perpetuates stereotypes, denying or rejecting someone’s reported experience because yours is different, singling out an individual to speak on behalf of an entire marginalized group, targeting marginalized people with disproportionate criticism, and denying or minimizing the existence and extent of discriminatory beliefs, practices, and structures. Understand the detrimental impacts of microaggressive comments and behaviors and accept responsibility for taking self-corrective actions.
We have always had Rules about bigoted language, but microaggressions are actually much more common on our platform, and they are an area where we must improve. If you’re interested in reading more on this topic, please read this post on microaggressions where we first introduced this as a new entry into the Rules of the Road and gave guidelines on how to respond to them if you see them on site.
(15) HEY ANDROIDS — THESE ARE THE ELECTRIC SHEEP YOU ARE LOOKING FOR! Another Daily Kos article touts this advance in sheepherding: “Agrovoltaics = Agriculture + Solar Photovoltaics = Win For Everyone”.
I have often heard anti-solar energy voices talk about solar installations taking farm land out of production in an attempt to create a food vs green energy conflict. Forward thinking farmers have tried mixing solar with agriculture and, happy surprise, the two go together like peanut butter and chocolate.
Farmers are trying out mixing agriculture with solar panels and the results are awesome. Sheep, like those shown above, love the nice shady spots to rest between grass grazing. The land owners love it because they don’t have to mow around the solar panels. The solar energy companies love it because it opens up huge amounts of land to potential solar production….
(16) DRESSED FOR EXCESS. Everybody is passing around Newsthump’s gag, “Blue Origin crew concerned by new uniforms ahead of Shatner space flight. You’ll get it immediately when you see the photo.
… Until now, flight suits and uniforms have been a standard blue colour, and the sudden change has left crewmembers – none of whom have a first name – questioning what the unexpected change could mean….
(17) YOUR BRIGHT PALS. In “Honest Game Trailers: Tales of Arise,” Fandom Games says this anime-derived adventure will take lonely players to a world “where you not only have actual friends but they all have glowing swords.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Rob Thornton, Jumana Aumir, Bill, Daniel Dern, (via) Amanda S. Green, Jeffrey Smith, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day @JacksonPeril.]