(1) DOZOIS FINALE. At Flogging Babel, Michael Swanwick reviews “Gardner Dozois’ Last Story”, “Homecoming” (Fantasy & Science Fiction, Sep/Oct 2019).
Chance plays such a major role in our lives! It was chance that killed Gardner Dozois. He died not of a lingering illness but from a fortuitous disease picked up in a hospital whose staff chanced not to be competent enough to take care of his original complaint in a reasonable lenth of time. So when he wrote “Homecoming,” he had no idea how close he was to death.
Nevertheless, it is hard to read this story as anything but his farewell….
(2) TIPTREE AWARD HOSTS COMMENT. The organizers of WisCon have made a “Statement of Support in Renaming the Tiptree Award”.
Since the creation of the Tiptree Award was first announced by Guest of Honor Pat Murphy at WisCon 15 in 1991, WisCon has been proud to host the award winners and to support the award by hosting fundraisers at-con. Making big changes can be difficult, but listening to the voices of our community members exemplifies the values that our con continues to strive towards. We fully support the Motherboard in their decision to rename the award, and we look forward to celebrating the award under its new name at WisCon 44 in 2020.
(3) REPLAY. From BBC we learn “Original Jurassic Park cast to return in next movie”.
The original stars of Jurassic Park are to reunite for the next instalment of the dinosaur film franchise.
Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum will reprise their roles in the upcoming Jurassic World 3.
The actors led the cast of the 1993 hit, directed by Steven Spielberg, and have appeared separately in subsequent instalments.
…It is believed the trio will appear alongside Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, the stars of 2015’s Jurassic World and 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
The latter release saw Goldblum reprise his role as Dr Ian Malcolm, having previously done so in 1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
Neill and Dern reprised their roles as Dr Alan Grant and Dr Ellie Sattler in 2001 film Jurassic Park III.
(4) IN AND OUT OF FANDOM. Rob Hansen announces some additions to his fanhistory site THEN:
- Now that T. Bruce Yerke’s memoir of 1930s LA fandom is online I was able to expand my page on “The LASFS Clubroom” accordingly.
In the late 1930s the Los Angeles Science Fiction League – as they were then known – were meeting in Clifton’s Cafeteria, a downtown eatery located at 648 South Broadway after initially meeting at members’ homes and the like. T.Bruce Yerke recalled those LASFL days in his MEMOIRS OF A SUPERFLUOUS FAN (1943):
The great difference between the Chapter #4 of the SFL and the present LASFS is a subject of many ramifications, the product of an evolution of some years’ length, and a very interesting study. Perhaps it may be summed up in brief by the observation that the club in l937 had no social life to speak of. The chapter centered about meetings held roughly every other Thursday. Otherwise the members contented themselves with occasional Sunday gatherings of a highly informal and unofficial nature. Often groups of three or four attended shows together or went book hunting en masse, but that was virtually the sum of it. For the most part, members saw nothing of each other between alternate Thursdays, save the vicarious mediums of post and telephone….
- And a couple of weeks back I added a bunch of correspondence relating to Vince Clarke’s 1960 departure from, and 1981 return to, fandom: “Vince Clarke: The Return (1981)”
Prominent among those dissidents were the trio – Vince Clarke, Joy Clarke, and Sandy Sanderson – known as ‘Inchmery’ after Inchmery Road in South London where they all shared a house together. Vince Clarke was not at all happy with fandom and was on the point of quitting it, as can be seen in this letter to him from George Locke dated 7 April 60…
(5) HUGO WANK. At Archive of Our Own, “Stanley Cup — What it Means” by Anonymous. Looks like this has been online for over a week, but it’s news to me!
…“What? No, the Oviraptors won fair and square. But the fans are saying they won.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Here, I’ll read you this tweet. Someone called PuckerUp wrote, “I can’t believe we won the Stanley Cup! I’m so excited you guys!” And there’s more like that. They really think they won it. So we want you to tell them that it was the Oviraptors team that won, not them. They can say they supported the actual winners.”
“Uh, are you sh—“ the spokesperson quickly changed course mid-sentence. “Are you sure someone saying “we won” instead of “my favorite team won” is a problem? I think everyone knows it was the athletes who actually won…”
“It dilutes what winning the Stanley Cup means, if just anyone can go around saying they won it. I mean, listen to this: HockeyLuvver63 tweeted, “Oviraptors won because I was the MVP and saved Darcy from rolling off the couch.” And then there’s a picture of this woman catching a Boston Terrier in a puck costume as it slides off a sofa. If people keep saying things like that, other people might start thinking the real winners and MVPs are just making it up too, and sneer at them for it.”…
(6) WILD IN THE STREETS. Although we covered this performance, I haven’t previously linked to The New Yorker story. In the magazine’s December 11, 2017 issue Alex Ross reviews War of the Worlds, an opera by Annie Gosfield based on the Orson Welles radio broadcast of 1938 and performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic collaborating with the experimental opera company The Industry.
The main audience was seated at Disney Hall, where the orchestra was ostensibly performing a new suit, by Gosfield, modelled on Holst’s The Planets. The actress Sigourney Weaver, who has a history with aliens, assumed the pose of an unctuous gala host. Halfway through the “Mercury” movement, she broke in with the first of many news bulletins. As the concert faltered–we never got past “Earth”–Weaver elicited live reports from three nearby parking lots, each of which had its own performers and audience. The auxiliary sites were placed near antiquated air-raid sirens that still stand throughout the city; they hummed with extraterrestrial transmissions. Scientists jabbered technicalities; a TV reporter interviewed eyewitnesses; a military honcho tried to impose order. Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, had a cameo, appearing onstage at Disney with a reassuring message: “Please don’t attempt to leave this building. Just outside these walls is utter chaos. A climactic ray-gun assault on Disney was repelled by the metal shield that Frank Gehry had presciently installed on the exterior. Weaver exclaimed, ‘The power of music has redeemed humanity once again!’
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- September 25, 1924 — Opened on this date in Moscow, Aelita: Queen of Mars. A silent film by Soviet filmmaker Yakov Protazanov. In the United States, Aelita was edited and titled by Benjamin De Casseres for release in 1929 as Aelita: Revolt of the Robots. The 2004 DVD has a musical score based on the music of Scriabin, Stravinsky, and Glazunov.
- September 25, 1976 — Holmes & Yoyo debuted. A heavy on the comedy police show where Detective Alexander Holmes keeps injuring his partners so he’s given an android partner which is John Schuck as Gregory “Yoyo” Yoyonovich in his first genre role. It lasted thirteen episodes. The reviews were not kind. Nor were the ratings.
- September 25, 2006 — On NBC, Heroes aired its first episode, “Genesis”. It would last four seasons and remarkably would actually not be cancelled before it wraps up its story.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born September 25, 1862 — Henry McNeil. Though he wrote two Lost Race novels, he’s here because he was a member of the Kalem Club circle that centered around Lovecraft. He played an important role in the career of Lovecraft as he was the first to urge that writer to submit his fiction to Weird Tales in the early Twenties. (Died 1929.)
- Born September 25, 1919 — Betty Ballantine. With her husband Ian, she created Bantam Books in 1945 and established Ballantine Books seven years later. They won one special World Fantasy Award for professional work in 1975 and another one shared with Joy Chant et al for The High Kings which is indeed an amazing work. ISFDB list one novel for her, The Secret Oceans, which I’ve not read. Anyone here done so? (Died 2019.)
- Born September 25, 1930 — Shel Silverstein. Not sure how he is SFF but ISFDB lists him as such and I’m more than thrilled to list him under Birthday Honors. I’m fond of his poetry collection Where the Sidewalk Ends and also note here A Light in the Attic if only because it’s been on “oh my we must ban it now attempts” all too often. (Died 1999.)
- Born September 25, 1951 — Mark Hamill, 68. Ok, I’ll confess that my favorite role of his is when he voices The Joker in the DC Universe. He started doing this way back on Batman: The Animated Series and has even doing on other such series as well. Pure comic genius! Oh, and did you know he voices Chucky in the new Child’s Play film? Now that’s creepy.
- Born September 25, 1952 — Christopher Reeve. Superman in the Superman film franchise. He appeared in the Smallville series as Dr. Swann in the episodes “Rosetta” and “Legacy”. His Muppet Show appearance has him denying to Miss Piggy that he’s Superman though he displays those superpowers throughout that entire episode. (Died 2004.)
- Born September 25, 1962 — Beth Toussaint, 57. She was Ishara Yar in the “Legacy” episode of Next Gen and she’s been in a lot of genre series and films including Berserker, Babylon 5, the Monsters anthology series, Nightmare Cafe, Mann & Machine, Project Shadowchaser II, Legend and Fortress 2: Re-Entry.
- Born September 25, 1968 — Will Smith, 51. Despite the vile stinkers that are Wild Wild West and Suicide Squad, he’s done some brilliant work — the first Men in Black film is quite superb as is Independence Day and Aladdin.
- Born September 25, 1969 — Catherine Zeta-Jones, 50. Her first role ever was as in Scheherazade in French short 1001 Nights. Her next role was Sala in The Phantom. Does Zorro count as genre? If go, she appeared as Eléna Montero in The Mask of Zorro and Eléna De La Vega in The Legend of Zorro. She was Theodorain The Haunting, a riff off The Haunting of Hill House. And finally, she was in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles as Maya in “Palestine, October 1917”.
- Born September 25, 1980 — Benedict Jacka, 39. Though I’ll admit I’ve fallen behind in my reading of his Alex Verusseries, what I’ve read of it has been quite excellent — superb protagonist, interesting story and a quirky setting. Good popcorn literature!
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Speed Bump has aliens with inappropriate gifts.
- Then, Frank and Ernest have to explain something to an alien visitor.
- Whereas Argyle Sweater’s joke might just creep you right out.
(10) REPRESENTATION ON TV. [Item by Olav Rokne.] In advance of The Good Place’s return this week, Kwame Opam of the New York Times profiles the show’s understated convention-breaking character Chidi Anagonye, and what the positive depiction of a character like him means for nerds of color: “The Good Place”. Opam writes:
Chidi is the sort of character who, in past generations, might have been the butt of the joke more often than not. Instead, he’s a romantic lead on one of television’s most beloved shows.
(11) JOKER FILM VIOLENCE PROTESTED. “Batman shooting victim’s family ‘horrified’ by Joker film’s violence” – BBC has the story.
Families of those killed while watching a Batman film in 2012 have written to Warner Bros with concerns about the new Joker film and urging the studio to join action against gun violence.
Twelve people died in a cinema showing The Dark Knight Rises in Colorado.
They included Jessica Ghawi, 24, whose mother Sandy Phillips told BBC News she was “horrified” by the Joker trailers.
Warner Bros said the film – which stars Joaquin Phoenix – was not an endorsement of real-world violence.
Phoenix walked out of a recent interview when asked about the issue.
Sandy Phillips and her husband, Lonnie, who run Survivors Empowered, an anti-gun violence group, wrote to Warner Bros along with three others whose relatives were killed, injured or caught up in the 2012 shooting.
Speaking to BBC News, Mrs Phillips said: “When I first saw the trailers of the movie, I was absolutely horrified.
“And then when I dug a little deeper and found out that it had such unnecessary violence in the movie, it just chilled me to my bones.
“It just makes me angry that a major motion picture company isn’t taking responsibility and doesn’t have the concern of the public at all.”
(12) PLAY AT WORK? [Item by Chip Htchcock.] Student tells reporter: “My degree is not just riding roller coasters”.
Staffordshire University might be one of the smallest in the UK, but it has some quirky degree courses.
One is theme park management. Undergraduates spend half of their time at Alton Towers whose owner Merlin Entertainments helped design the course.
Amusing genre note: Wikipedia says the teaching site’s new wooden roller coaster (first woodie in the UK in 20 years, and first ever to include fire) is called the Wicker Man.
(13) WITHOUT A NET. “Boston Dynamics Atlas robot twists and somersaults” – BBC video.
US robotics firm Boston Dynamics has developed new techniques to let its Atlas robot blend together the movements of gymnastic routines more smoothly.
(14) YOUR METAL PAL WHO’S FUN TO BE WITH. “Boston Dynamics robot dog Spot goes on sale”.
A robotics company whose creations have amassed millions of views on YouTube, is renting out one of its stars, Spot.
Anyone wishing to lease the quadruped dog-like robot could do so for “less than the price of a car,” Boston Dynamics told IEEE Spectrum.
It suggested Spot could be useful in construction, the oil and gas industry and for those working in public safety.
One expert said its appeal may be limited by its price, which will be determined by demand.
Noel Sharkey, robotics experts and professor of computer science at Sheffield University, said “Spot is possibly the world’s finest example of a quadruped robot and since the addition of a robot arm, it seems a little more practical – but will it be practical enough at that price?
(15) RANSOMWARE. BBC says the evidence shows they’re back: “Notorious GandCrab hacker group ‘returns from retirement’”.
An infamous hacker group that was thought to have disbanded appears to be behind a wave of new attacks being carried out across the world.
Researchers at cyber-security company Secureworks say they reached their conclusion after analysing a new strain of computer virus.
They claim the culprits are the GandCrab crew.
The gang is thought to be Russian and previously sold customised ransomware to other criminals.
Their code had scrambled data on victims’ computers and demanded blackmail payments to decrypt it. It is estimated to have affected more than 1.5 million machines, with hospitals among those affected.
In May, the group had surprised many in the security industry when it announced it was “retiring” after earning more than $2bn (£1.6bn) from the trade.
Someone claiming to be part of the group claimed it had “cashed out” its earnings and quit the business.
It had been active since about January 2018.
But Secureworks has linked the group to a new strain of ransomware called REvil or Sondinokibi.
The malware has caused major disruption to hundreds of dental practices in the US as well as 22 Texas municipalities.
Researchers say not only is the code similar to that of the earlier attacks but that it contains similar mistakes.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Rob Hansen, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cat Eldridge, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Acoustic Rob.]