(1) THE GULF BETWEEN. [Item by Jim Janney.] Pat Bagley’s editorial cartoon in today’s Salt Lake Tribune references a famous cover from the October 1953 Astounding. (Note how it’s signed “With apologies to Frank Kelly Freas.”)
(2) KEEP CALM. No matter what you may have heard – like in an email from the World Fantasy Convention committee itself – the WFC 2022 Covid policy remains the same.
The convention’s website adds these details: “COVID-19 Policy”.
Our safety protocols for WFC 2022 are as follows:
– Attending members must be fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination will be required upon check-in at the convention.
– Masks will be required in all public places. Masks must be worn properly, covering the nose and mouth. If a member appears at any WFC 2022 event without a mask, they will be asked to put one on. If they refuse, their membership will be revoked, their badge confiscated, and they will be required to leave the convention.
– Safe social distances will be observed at all times.
– We will have hand sanitizer easily accessible throughout the convention.
If you are not fully vaccinated for any reason, please do not purchase an attending membership. We invite you to purchase a virtual membership and participate in the convention remotely.
James Van Pelt addressed on Facebook that a similar policy at the recent MileHiCon was not always followed by panelists, with the attendant social pressure on those who would rather it be followed.
(3) YOU DON’T NEED A WEATHERMAN TO KNOW WHICH WAY THE WINDROSE. Can it be that John C. Wright thieved a diagram created by Camestros Felapton without giving credit? Survey says – “Bow wow!” However, according to Camestros, “It’s nice to be appreciated”.
In 2016 I was going to write a post about John C. Wright’s near incomprehensible scheme for categorising ideologies on two axes (original Wright post archived here). However, vanity and vainglorious aspiration required me to furnish the post with a better graphic. Having laboured on the graphic I realised I had very little to say, leaving the post as little more than my drawing of Wright’s windrose: https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2016/01/30/john-c-wrights-windrose-of-political-heresy/
Now Mr Wright recently reposted his essay on his scheme, and as with his previous essay, there was a graphic to accompany it…which looks more than a little familiar…
(4) THE HOUSE OF COMMONS NEEDS YOU. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] AI is sort of SFnal. Do any Filers have knowledge of AI and wish to contribute to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into the “Governance of Artificial Intelligence (AI)”? The call for evidence is here. The deadline is November 25. HAL lives! (but does not give 42 as the answer.)
MPs to examine regulating AI in new inquiry
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee launches an inquiry into the governance of artificial intelligence (AI). In July, the UK Government set out its emerging thinking on how it would regulate the use of AI. It is expected to publish proposals in a White Paper later this year, which the Committee would examine in its inquiry.
Used to spot patterns in large datasets, make predictions, and automate processes, AI’s role in the UK economy and society is growing. However, there are concerns around its use. MPs will examine the potential impacts of biased algorithms in the public and private sectors. A lack of transparency on how AI is applied and how automated decisions can be challenged will also be investigated.
In the inquiry, MPs will explore how risks posed to the public by the improper use of AI should be addressed, and how the Government can ensure AI is used in an ethical and responsible way. The Committee seeks evidence on the current governance of AI, whether the Government’s proposed approach is the right one, and how their plans compare with other countries.
(5) NOT FOREVER STAMPS. The UK’s Royal Mail, which added barcodes to its stamps this year, soon will no longer honor previous issues. The Guardian’s Dale Berning Sawa asks “My stash of old stamps is beautiful. Why make them unnecessarily obsolete?”
After introducing barcodes to our regular sticker stamps in February, Royal Mail has now given us 100 days to use up our old stamps. Come February 2023, only those barcoded will be valid. To swap out any remaining oldies, we will have to fill out a request form and send it, for free, to a depot in Edinburgh.
The ironic loop-the-loop of freeposting postage to receive same-value postage in the post – in order to, in the beleaguered company’s own words, “connect physical stamps to the digital world” – is not lost on me. It’s more than curmudgeonly irritation, though, I feel bewildered. Why does one stamp having the ability to play you Shaun the Sheep videos mean that all those other beauties have to go? Does the Royal Mail not realise how great, how quietly subversive, how steadfast its one defining product has been all these years?…
(6) SWEDISH SHORTS SFF COMPETITION. [Item by Ahrvid Engholm.] The Result of the 23rd Fantastiknovelltävlingen (approx “Fantastic Short Story Competition”; Fantastic as in Fantastic Literatur, often here called Fantastik.) I translate the story titles, but skip the 6 “honorary mentions”:
- 1st prize “Fyrmästarens dotter” by Camilla Linde (999 kr) [“Daughter of the Lighthouse Keeper”]
- 2nd prize “En glimt av oändlighet” by Sunna Andersson (600 kr) [“A Glimpse of Eternity”]
- 3rd prize “God Granne” by Tobias Robinson (400 kr) [“Good Neighbour”]
The prize sums are in Kr=kronor; 10 kr is around 1 USD/Eur. Winners also get a diploma.
(7) A SOLID HONOR. Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, CA will host the “Vroman’s Walk Of Fame Dedication Ceremony Honoring Author Leigh Bardugo” on Saturday, November 19, 2022 at 12:00 p.m. The location is 695 E. Colorado St., Pasadena, CA 91101.
We are very excited to announce author Leigh Bardugo as our next honoree to immortalize her handprints and signature in the Vroman’s Author Walk of Fame! We are so thrilled to honor Leigh with this dedication and to celebrate all of her wonderful books.
Join us on Saturday, November 19th at noon for the dedication. After the dedication please stay for a special conversation between Leigh Bardugo and Sarah Enni, discussing Leigh’s life and career.
We realize that not everyone will get the best view of the dedication ceremony so we will be broadcasting this morning event on Instagram Live. Keep watch for more details and follow up on Instagram! @vromansbookstore
(8) WHERE WOLF? THERE HOME DEPOT. In the Washington Post, Maura Judkis talks to buyers of the 9-1/2 foot audioanimatronic werewolf available at Home Depot for $399. She talked to one anonymous furry who thinks the werewolf is a furry icon. “The Home Depot werewolf is getting howls of approval”.
… She saw him and she had to buy him: A beefy, sinewy wolfman with massive hands (paws?), glowing eyes and, under his shredded buffalo-check shirt, six-pack abs. Best of all, and unlike his skeletal brethren, he talks and moves: With a growl, he opens his mouth to reveal a row of sharp fangs, tilts his head back and … aroooooooooo!
Rush bought the $399 werewolf on “Orange Friday,” which is what the most dedicated of Halloween decorators call the day Home Depot makes its Halloween decorations available online for purchase. This year, that day was July 15, when normal people are, well, what’s normal anymore?…
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1951 — [By Cat Eldridge.] One of the finest works that Bradbury crafted was The Illustrated Man. It was published seventy-one years ago by Doubleday & Company and consists of eighteen stories, of which ISFDB claims three are original to here.
Let’s note that the British edition, published a year later by Hart-Davis, omits “The Rocket Man”, “The Fire Balloons, “The Exiles” and “The Concrete Mixer” and adds “Usher I” from The Martian Chronicles and “The Playground”.
The unrelated stories are weaved together by the framing story of “The Illustrated Man” involving a now wandering member of a carnival freak show with an almost completely tattooed body, save one spot, whom the unnamed narrator and a few other people meet. (My assumption there.) The man’s tattoos, supposedly created by a time-traveling woman, are individually animated, and each tells a different story.
The stories would be adapted elsewhere. Some of the stories, including “The Veldt”, “The Fox and the Forest” (changed to “To the Future”), “Marionettes, Inc.”, and “Zero Hour” were also dramatized for the Fifties X Minus One radio series.
The Ray Bradbury Theater series used “The Concrete Mixer”, “The Long Rain”, “Marionettes Inc.” “The Veldt”, “Zero Hour” whereas “The Fox and the Forest” was adapted for Out of the Unknown series.
Seventeen years after it was published, it would debut as a film. The screenplay was by Howard B. Kreitsek who adapted three of the stories from the collection, “The Veldt”, “The Long Rain” and “The Last Night of the World”, the last one a good choice I think to end the film.
SPOILERS NOW AS WE CONSIDER A BEGINNING AND A POSSIBLE END
The prologue tells of how The Illustrated Man came to be so after he encountered a mysterious woman named Felicia. Our film narrator encounters our The Illustrated Man and watches the three stories play out as animated stories.
The plot comes to a terrifying conclusion when one of the people accompanying The Illustrated Man on his journey looks at the only blank patch of skin on his body and sees an image of his own murder at his hand of The Illustrated Man then attempts to kill The Illustrated Man and then flees into the night, pursued by a still-living Illustrated Man, with the audience left undetermined as to his fate of either.
NOW BACK TO OUR REGULAR PROGRAMMING
Jack Smight, the film director, decided that the carnival sideshow freak who appeared in the collection’s prologue and epilogue made the best primary narrative device.
As for The Illustrated Man, he cast Rod Steiger, whom he had known since the Fifties.
It failed horribly at the Box Office and critics hated it.
It was nominated for a Hugo at the Heicon ’70 Worldcon held in Heidelberg, Germany but did not win.
I will let our writer have the last word here: “Rod was very good in it, but it wasn’t a good film, the script was terrible.”
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born October 29, 1906 — Fredric Brown. Author of Martians, Go Home which was made into a movie of the same name. He received compensation and credit from NBC as their Trek episode “Arena” had more than a passing similarity to his novelette which was nominated for a Retro Hugo at CoNZealand. (Died 1972.)
- Born October 29, 1928 — Benjamin F. Chapman, Jr. He played the Gill-man on the land takes in Creature from the Black Lagoon. (Ricou Browning did the water takes.) His only other genre appearance was in Jungle Moon Men, a Johnny Weissmuller film. (Died 2008.)
- Born October 29, 1928 — Jack Donner. He’s no doubt best known for his role of Romulan Subcommander Tal in the Trek episode “The Enterprise Incident”. He would later return as a Vulcan priest in the “Kir’Shara” and “Home” episodes on Enterprise. He’d also show up in other genre shows including The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mission Impossible (eleven episodes which is the most by any guest star) and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. (Died 2019.)
- Born October 29, 1935 — Sheila Finch, 87. She is best remembered for her stories about the Guild of Xenolinguists, which aptly enough are collected in The Guild of Xenolinguists. She first used the term her 1986 Triad novel, and it would later be used to describe the character Uhura in the rebooted Trek film. Her Reading the Bones novella, part of the Guild of Xenolinguists series, would win a Nebula. These books are available at the usual suspects.
- Born October 29, 1941 — Hal W. Hall, 81. Bibliographer responsible for the Science Fiction Book Review Index (1970 – 1985) and the Science Fiction Research Index (1981 – 1922). He also did a number of reviews including three of H. Beam Piper’s Fuzzy books showing he had excellent taste in fiction.
- Born October 29, 1954 — Paul Di Filippo, 68. He is, I’d say, an acquired taste. I like him. I’d suggest as a first reading if you don’t know him The Steampunk Trilogy and go from there. His “A Year in the Linear City” novella was nominated at Torcon 3 for Best Novella, and won the 2003 World Fantasy Award and the 2003 Theodore Sturgeon Award. Oh, and he’s one of our stellar reviewers having reviewed at one time or another for Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Science Fiction Eye, The New York Review of Science Fiction, Interzone, Nova Express and Science Fiction Weekly.
- Born October 29, 1954 — Kathleen O’Neal Gear, 68. Archaeologist and writer. I highly recommend the three Anasazi Mysteries that she co-wrote with W. Michael Gear. She’s a historian of note so she’s done a lot of interesting work in that area such as Viking Warrior Women: Did ‘Shieldmaidens’ like Lagertha Really Exist? And should you decide you want to keep buffalo, she’s the expert on doing so. Really. Truly, she is.
- Born October 29, 1971 — Winona Ryder, 51. Beetlejuice, of course, but also Edward Scissorhands and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Not to mention Alien Resurrection and Star Trek. Which brings me to Being John Malkovich which might be the coolest genre film of all time.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Junk Drawer has an amusing twist on a familiar bit of horror pedantry.
- Non Sequitur shows the very first “trick or treat” trial run.
(12) READ SJUNNESON STORY. Arizon State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination has posted the final Us in Flux story for 2022. This is the latest in their series of short fiction and virtual events about reimagining and reorganizing communities in the face of transformative change.
The story is “The Island,” by Elsa Sjunneson, about the ability-disability continuum, journalism, and creating adaptable communities.
(13) CLIP SHOW. NPR’s “Fresh Air” “Halloween special, with horror masters Stephen King and Jordan Peele” is a compilation of past interviews.
King talks about what terrified him as a child — and what frightens him as an adult. Peele talks about the fears that inspire his filmmaking. Originally broadcast in 1992, 2013 and 2017.
(14) VISION OF THE FUTURE. “Marvel developing Vision spinoff series with Paul Bettany” – and SYFY Wire assumes readers have seen every MCU movie and freely reveal the previous fates of various characters, so beware spoilers.
Deadline reports the studio is developing a new potential series codenamed Vision Quest, which will star Paul Bettany returning to the role of Vision. The show will reportedly follow Vision as he attempts to “regain his memory and humanity.” This would focus on the White Vision character who ended the first season of WandaVision on the loose in the world after regaining enough of his memories following a face-off with Wanda’s version of Vision (yeah, it’s a bit confusing).
It’s still early, with a writers room reportedly opening for the project next week, but it’s reportedly possible that Elizabeth Olsen could also return as Wanda Maximoff. As fans know, Wanda was last seen buried under a temple in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness….
(15) PLAYING MARS LIKE A DRUM. [SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week’s Science journal has “A seismic meteor strike on Mars”. “A meteor impact and its subsequent seismic waves has revealed the crustal structure of Mars.”
A large meteorite impact on Mars, as recorded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) InSight Mars lander and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and present analysis of the detected surface waves produced by the meteorite impact. Kim et al. also present an updated crustal model of Mars that provides a better understanding of the formation and composition of the martian crust and extends the current knowledge of the geodynamic evolution of Mars.
First primary research paper here. Second paper here here.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is Ryan George’s latest BUT my computer is wonky in that the sound is off so I don’t know what he says! I am sure he has a field day because I saw Black Adam and it’s a stinker. Spoiler alert!
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Jim Janney, Ahrvid Engholm, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]