The next edition of Marvel’s Voices acclaimed anthology series, Marvel’s Voices: Wakanda Forever, a special Black History Month one-shot, hits stands on February 15. Marvel’s Voices: Wakanda Forever #1 will feature five all-new stories spotlighting the iconic heroes of Wakanda as they are brought to life by an incredible lineup of Black creators, including fresh talent making their exciting Marvel Comics debuts. Today, fans can get a sneak peek at the stories that await and check out all four Marvel’s Voices: Wakanda Forever #1 variant covers.
Here are the tales of myth, adventure, strife, and more that readers can look forward to, each one expanding the inimitable world of Wakanda in fascinating new ways!
T’Challa’s grandfather, Azzuri, learns a lesson as a teenager that will have a dramatic impact on Wakanda’s present in a moving story by writer Adam Serwer (Wakanda) and Marvel Studios storyboard artist Todd Harris!
It’s the debut of the LAST Black Panther in the far future of Wakanda in a revelatory tale written and drawn by Juni Ba (Black Panther, Image Comics’ Monkey Meat)
T’Challa must grapple with a crisis of faith and goes through surprising lengths to get through it in a thrilling tale by writer Karama Horne, author of the recent Black Panther: Protectors of Wakanda book, and artist Alitha E. Martinez, known for her work on Black Panther and Miles Morales: Spider-Man
Learn what length Shuri will go to in order to protect Wakanda from a devastating attack from a dangerous new foe in an action-packed story by Murewa Ayodele and Dotun Akanda, the team behind the recently announced I Am Iron Man limited series
A new Dora Milaje trainee must accomplish one last thing to earn her place: defeat Okoye in combat! Witness this breathtaking battle in this story by Eisner Award-winning writer Sheena Howard and artist Marcus Williams (Tuskegee Heirs)
Plus all-new essays, interviews, and bonus material about all things Wakanda!
Hear from some of the creators and join Marvel Comics’ Black History Month celebration at Marvel.com.
MARVEL’S VOICES – WAKANDA FOREVER #1
Written by JUNI BA, MUREWA AYODELE, ADAM SERWE, SHEENA HOWARD & KARAMA HORNE!; Art by JUNI BA, DOTUN AKANDE, TODD HARRIS, MARCUS WILLIAMS & ALITHA E. MARTINEZ!
And WhoCulture will be happy to tell you the meaning of every scene. They take 13 times longer than the trailer itself, but to be fair a picture is worth a thousand words only if you already know the words.
Sure, there are other “must-read” lists. The Hugos. The Nebulas. But no other list is as comprehensive, so thoroughly vetted, so absolutely certain to be filled with excellent material than the Galactic Stars.
Thus, without further ado, here are the Galactic Stars for 1967! Results are in order of voting for the winners, alphabetical order by author for the honorable mentions.
Here’s the result in one prestigious category:
Samuel R. Delany
The winner is the prince of the New Wave, while the runner ups include a scion of the new hard sf and a distinguished gentleman of the genre. A nice balance, I think!
(3) HEAR THE DARK. BBC Radio 4’s 12-part adaptation of Susan Cooper’s cult novel had its world premiere on December 19, 2022, and drops daily from December 21. When the dark comes rising, who will hold it back?
Fighting against evil in a time-travelling midwinter family drama. A gripping journey through a frozen landscape… and an unending epic battle against the forces of “the Dark”. On midwinter’s eve, 11-year-old Will Stanton discovers he is an ancient being and guardian of “the Light”. This eerie drama is best experienced on headphones for a unique, immersive ‘binaural’ experience.
A boy’s 11th birthday and an unusual gift mark the beginning of a great test of character, as young Will Stanton is drawn into an ancient struggle between Light and Dark. He is told his task: to find the six Signs of the Light before the Dark destroys them. Realising he has supernatural powers, Will learns he is an ‘Old One’, whose duty is to fight the rising strength of the Dark across the centuries. #TheDarkIsRising
This version, edited for BBC Radio 4, of the BBC World Service serialisation of Susan Cooper’s classic, written and recorded to take place across the Christmas holidays.
… As an indie author, you may have a way to get a librarian’s attention that is not available to the traditionally published author—letting the library acquire the book in the way that suits them best. If they would like a library hardback edition, you can do that. If they buy from a certain eBook or audiobook catalog, you can make sure your book is available there.
Key phrase: get the librarian’s attention. Librarians, like most readers, want more books that they can afford to buy, so they have to prioritize according to their patrons’ desires and interests….
…In the initial draft of the script, before Chadwick’s death, how were you looking at the story? What were the challenges?
COOGLER It was, “What are we going to do about the Blip?” [In Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” T’Challa is one of billions of people who suddenly vanish, only to be brought back by the Avengers five years later.] That was the challenge. It was absolutely nothing like what we made. It was going to be a father-son story from the perspective of a father, because the first movie had been a father-son story from the perspective of the sons.
In the script, T’Challa was a dad who’d had this forced five-year absence from his son’s life…
(7) DREDDING CHANGE.[Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The Judge Dredd Megazine has just changed its format. For some years now, this monthly comic came in a bag together with a mini-graphic novel of old strips and had a saddle stitch (staples). From this month on it will now be perfect bound with a flat spine and the min-graphic novel will be incorporated into the Megazine proper.
And while your attention is here, if you are not familiar with the Galaxy’s greatest comic then there is a new graphic anthology now out, The Best of 2000AD volume 1 (£14.99 / US$22.99 ISBN 978-1-786-18706-2). It is the ultimate 2000AD mix tape and an excellent introductory taster for those not yet familiar with the comic which remains the only guaranteed cure for lesser spotted thrill-sucker infections. Zarjaz. Available from all good thrill merchants on both sides of the Pond (but not Russia or China).
In this volume: Judge Dredd battles Mutie Block anarchy; Halo Jones escapes in Alan Moore’s first masterpiece; humanity is on the Brink in the space murder mystery from Dan Abnett and INJ Culbard; Judge Anderson takes centre stage in the search for Sham.
(8) STEPHEN GREIF (1944-2022). Actor Stephen Greif, whose genre resume includes Blake’s 7 and Doctor Who, died at age 78 on December 23.
… After starring in numerous stage productions throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, he made the transition to screen – landing the role of space commander Travis in Blake’s 7.
The show ran from 1978 to 1981, with Greif starring alongside Gareth Thomas, Paul Darrow, Michael Keating and Sally Knyvette….
(9) MEMORY LANE.
[By Cat Eldridge.] Dr. Seuss and Cat in the Hat sculpture at UCSD
Who doesn’t love Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat? Or Dr. Seuss himself? Well if you don’t, you can leave right now as we are going to look at a very stellar sculpture of both of them that is located the University of California at San Diego. It was in 2004, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Seuss, that the Theodor Seuss Geisel Memorial statue made its debut outside the Geisel Library at UC San Diego.
Geisel lived over forty years in La Jolla and died there, in a home not far from that university. Indeed, University of California San Diego’s main library, the Geisel Library, is now home of the Dr. Seuss Collection, as he dedicated all of his papers and other memorabilia there.
The sculpture on the plaza outside the library is by Lark Grey Dimond-Cates. The Cat in the Hat stands at Dr. Seuss’ shoulder holding an umbrella.
This is not the original casting as that is to be found at the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden at the Springfield Museums’ Quadrangle in Springfield, Massachusetts, the birthplace of Theodor Seuss Geisel, which we’ve discussed here previously.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 26, 1791 — Charles Babbage. Y’ll likely best know him as creator of the Babbage Machine which shows up in Perdido Street Station, The Peshawar Lancers, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage webcomic, and there’s “Georgia on My Mind”, a novelette by Charles Sheffield which involves a search for a lost Babbage device. The latter won both a Nebula and a Hugo Award for Best Novelette. (Died 1871.)
Born December 26, 1903 — Elisha Cook, Jr. On the Trek side, he shows up as playing lawyer Samuel T. Cogley in the “Court Martial” episode. Elsewhere he had long association with the genre starting with Voodoo Island and including House on a Haunted Hill, Rosemary’s Baby, Wild Wild West, The Night Stalker and Twilight Zone. (Died 1995.)
Born December 26, 1911 — Milton Luros. Illustrator during the Golden Age of pulp magazines from 1942 to 1954 (yes I’m expansive on what I consider to be to the Golden Age). His work graced Science Fiction Quarterly, Astounding Stories, Future Combined with Science Fiction Stories, Future Science Fiction Stories, Dynamic Science Fiction and Science Fiction Quarterly. He had an amazing ability to illustrate women in outfits in hostile environments that simply were impractical such as one for Science Fiction Quarterly (UK), October 1952 cover had a cut out in her spacesuit so her décolletage was bare. (Died 1999.)
Born December 26, 1951 — Priscilla Olson, 71. She and her husband have been involved with NESFA Press’s efforts to put neglected SF writers back into print and she has edited myriad works by such as Chad Oliver and Charles Harness, plus better-known ones like Jane Yolen. She’s chaired a number of Boskones.
Born December 26, 1953 — Clayton Emery, 69. Somewhere there’s a bookstore with nothing but the novels and collections that exist within a given franchise. This author has novels in the Forgotten Realms, Magic: The Gathering and Runesworld franchise, plus several genre works including surprisingly Tales of Robin Hood on Baen Books. Must not be your granddaddy’s Hood.
Born December 26, 1970 — Danielle Cormack, 52. If it’s fantasy and it was produced in New Zealand, she might have been in it. Performer of New Zealander status so you can guess what that means — Ephiny on Xena: Warrior Princess, a one shot as Lady Marie DeValle on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Ephiny on the same series, Katherine on Jack of All Trades (which I’ve mentioned before was one of Kage Baker’s fav shows) as, well, Bruce was the lead. She was Raina on Cleopatra 2525 and Shota on the Legend of the Seeker. Genre television has been very, very good for the New Zealand economy!
The first thing that Dr. Seuss and I did, therefore, was to endeavor to trace Santa Claus’s beard back through the ages to the dawn of history. In order to accomplish this effectively, we each seized a separate strand of beard, and followed it independently to its source. The strand that Dr. Seuss chose led him a merry chase, up hill and down dale, all the way back to ancient Greek mythology, where he discovered a fabulous creature known as the Santaur (see illustration), which he claims is the origin of the whole legend of Kris Kringle. On the other hand, my own strand eventually brought me to a source known as the chin of Frank J. Swartfigure, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, who claimed he had come to New York as a boy to make his fortune, and had been standing ever since on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 47th Street, waiting for the lights to change. …
(12) A NOSE WHERE IT DOESN’T BELONG. If you think of Die Hard as Christmastime entertainment – which my nephew Bradley does – you will appreciate the nuanced humor of Eize Basa’s Twitter thread (which starts here.)
(13) GETTING WISER AS THEY GO. Tom Gauld has his own version of the wisdom of the Magi.
(14) VIDEO OF THE PREVIOUS DAY. Santa Claus appeared on Batman in 1966.
In a window cameo that makes their encounter with Col. Klink seem plausible, Batman and Robin meet Ol’ Saint Nick (played by the great character actor Andy Devine.) The Caped Crusader even directly addresses the audience
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Peer, Alexander Case, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Fiona Moore, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]
WE APOLOGIZE IN advance for all the TV theme songs we are about to lodge back into your heads. Or maybe we should preemptively accept your thanks?
Despite periodic attempts to contract or outright eliminate them, theme songs are a crucial part of the TV-watching experience. The best ones put you in the right mindset to watch each episode of your favorite, and can be just as entertaining in their own right as any great joke, monologue, or action sequence. So we’ve decided to pick the 100 best theme songs of all time — technically 101, since there are two as inextricably linked as peanut butter and jelly — and attempted to rank them in order of greatness….
John King Tarpinian has scouted ahead and says these numbers are genre: 77, 75, 65, 54, 42, 39, 33, 29, 24, 18, 17, 11, 06.
The highest sf TV show theme is from The Twilight Zone. It lodges at number six between the themes from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. (Speaking of number six – I’m shocked to learn that the theme from The Prisoner is not on the list at all.)
P.S. I’m sure John would want me to mention that the theme from Rachel Bloom’s TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is even higher, at number four.
DANIELLE HAYDEN: So, could you please tell me a little more about the upcoming comic series, Stuff of Nightmares? And I know some of your earliest work was comics. So how does that feel?
R. L. STINE: Well, yeah, when I was nine, I did comics.
Well, yes, I just mean, like, kind of, full circle now.
You know, I’m having a lot of fun. I’m working with BOOM! Studios in Los Angeles. And I did a series of comic books for them called Just Beyond, which was sort of Twilight Zone for kids. And it became a Disney+ series. We had eight episodes. That was fun. Now I’m doing this for adults; I’m actually writing something for grown-ups. And it’s really gruesome stuff. It’s like my version of Frankenstein. And so, I’m having fun with it. Comic books are fun to write. Forces me to be more visual, you know?…
(3) CSSF VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB. The next title in the Gunn Center for the Study of SF’s (CSSF) monthly virtual book club is Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria.This debut novel about a merchant’s journey to the distant land of Olondria where he finds himself haunted by a mysterious force is the 2014 winner of the World Fantasy Award.
…We hope it’ll be a wonderful read for folks who have ever been “the new person,” or experience homesickness or wanderlust.
Join them on December 16 at noon (Central Time) for our virtual meeting. Register here. Also, this programming is running all year, click here to see what’s in the Book Club’s future.
(4) THE WORDS THAT MAKE THE WHOLE WORLD SING. Today I learned that Chris Weber published Sentient Chili and Stranger Filk: Lyrics to 107 Songs of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Fandom this summer. Good work!
“Filk” is the term applied to the fan music of science fiction and fantasy. Readers and viewers of the genre will find familiar faces and tales. These lyrics cover topics from movies and television to books and original stories. Much of the collection leans towards humor, while touching other emotional chords as well. The stanzas have the feel of ’80s nostalgia but are not exclusively from that era.
The collection is like the contents of the proverbial box of chocolates, bite-sized and filled with surprises.
DANIEL A. OLIVAS:The hero (or antihero, if you will) of The Devil Takes You Home is a man who has suffered unspeakable personal loss, not to mention a self-inflicted rupture in his marriage. He feels deep remorse and guilt, yet he is hopeful that one big score will restore some of what he’s lost. Could you talk about how you created Mario and what you wanted to explore through his journey?
GABINO IGLESIAS: One of the things I love the most about horror and crime fiction is that both genres share a heart: at their core are good people who are thrown into bad situations. Mario is all of us — far from perfect but not bad. He’s desperate and the system doesn’t offer him many options. Most people know what that feels like. I wrote about 45,000 words of The Devil Takes You Home while writing for various venues, teaching high school full-time, and teaching an MFA course at SNHU at night. Then I lost the high school teaching gig and my health insurance along with it, and this happened in June 2020, just as the pandemic was raging. I would read about people getting sick and then receiving astronomical medical bills. I was angry and worried, and I injected all of that into Mario. Hopefully that will make him resonate with people, especially with those who understand that good people sometimes do awful things for all the right reasons.
…The film has clearly touched a chord with audiences. It’s already earned more than $300 million in the U.S. and is expected to top the Thanksgiving weekend box office. So we wanted to talk with director and co-writer Ryan Coogler. He says the film, although about grief, shows the sort of rebirth that occurs in the face of insurmountable loss. And he began by telling me what it was like to reimagine the film’s story, which had already been written before Boseman died.
RYAN COOGLER: It was really complicated. It was difficult technically, because Joe and I had a lot of work to do to figure out what this new movie would be without him and without the character. But it was also complicated because me and everybody involved were navigating our own emotional journey, how to deal with losing our friend. So it was admittedly like the most difficult professional thing I’ve ever done and probably the most difficult personally as well….
African-Australian writer Eugen Bacon is clearly a rising star in our genre. Yet the first time I heard of her was, when I was asked to feature her novel Claiming T-Mo, published by Meerkat Press, at the Speculative Fiction Showcase back in 2019.
Eugen Bacon’s latest release is Mage of Fools, also published by the good folks of Meerkat Press. Mage of Fools is a unique science fantasy tale set in the dystopian world of Mafinga, a polluted hellhole where books, reading and imagination are forbidden by law. Protagonist Jasmin is a widowed mother of two young children as well as the owner of a forbidden story machine. Possessing such a machine is punishable by death and when Jasmin’s story machine is discovered, she faces execution. However, she gets a temporary reprieve… for a terrible price. Because the queen of Mafinga, who cannot have children of her own, wants Jasmin’s children…
Mage of Fools is a great SFF novel, that manages to be both grim and hopeful at the same time. And since Eugen Bacon is also a poet, the novel is beautifully written as well.
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1994 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Emma Bull’s Finder: A Novel of The Borderland
I sliced strawberries with all my attention. They were particularly fine ones, large and white clear through without a hint of pink. (Wild Borderland strawberries are one of the Border’s little jokes. They form bright red, and fade as they ripen. No strawberry has ever been so sweet.) — Orient in Emma Bull’s Finder: A Novel of The Borderlands
One of my frequently re-read novels is this one. It’s a comfort read in every meaning of that word. And yes, I do have a personally signed as I do of Bone Dance as well. Of course they’re on the chocolate gifting list.
Emma released this novel on Tor twenty-eight years ago. It’s one of three novels done on the shared world created by Terri Windling, a ruined city sharing a Border with the Fey. Most of the fiction here is short stories, novellas and poetry. This novel and two done by her husband, Will Shetterly, Elsewhere and Nevernever, are the only novels done. His are also excellent.
So why do I like her novel so much that I’ve read it at least a dozen times?
MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW. REALLY THEY DO. GO GET A DRINK IN THE DANCING FERRET.
First, it has a first-person narrator in Orient, a young male, who has the psychic ability to find anything if the right question is asked. So when his elf friend, Tick Tock, asks him to find her missing wrench in exchange for supper, little does he know that his life will become the whim of others. There are plenty of characters, all well-fleshed out, and all moving the story along.
Second, it has a compelling story weaving two apparently disparate plots that are here into a single thread that makes perfect sense. And Emma pulls no punches; bad things will happen to folks no matter how central they are to the story including what happens TO Tick Tock which made me cry. A lot of story get packed into its just over three hundred pages and it moves smartly along.
Third, Emma does the best job in this long running series of making the central setting (naturally called Bordertown) feel as if it were an actual place, a neat trick as too many such places feel not quite real. The short stories quite frankly fail at doing this as they focus more on making the characters be Really Cool.
Everything here really does feel as if you could walk down Mock Avenue, have a drink in the Dancing Ferret, and hear the Horn Dance perform as they came down the street on their magic fuelled wheeled motorcycles.
COME BACK NOW, THE HORN DANCE HAS LEFT FOR NOW.
If you like this, I suggest the newest anthology, Welcome to Bordertown: New Stories and Poems of the Borderlands, which Holly Black and Ellen Kushner edited a decade or so back, is well worth your time as are the older anthologies.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 27, 1907 — L. Sprague de Camp. The Tales from Gavagan’s Bar he wrote with Fletcher Pratt are my favorite works by him. Best novel by him? I’d say that’s Lest Darkness Fall. His only Hugo was awarded at LoneStarCon 2 for Time & Chance: An Autobiography. He got voted the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award, and he got World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. His very first Award was an IFA for Lands Beyond that he wrote with Willy Ley. (Died 2000.)
Born November 27, 1935 — Verity Lambert. Founding Producer of Doctor Who. (When she was appointed to Who in 1963, she was BBC Television’s only female drama producer, as well as the youngest.) After leaving BBC, she’d oversee the Quatermass series at Thames. She’d return to BBC to Executive Produce three seasons of So Haunt Me, a supernatural series. Wiki has her script editing and appearing in a fan-made episode of Doctor Who called “A Happy Ending” in 2006, which is notable for the presence of Susan, played by Carole Ann Ford, the granddaughter of the First Doctor. (Died 2007.)
Born November 27, 1940 — Bruce Lee. His only genre role was as Kato in The Green Hornet which to my utter surprise only lasted for twenty-six episodes between 1966 and 1967. He also appeared on Batman in three episodes, “The Spell of Tut”, “Batman’s Satisfaction”, and “A Piece of The Action”. Despite the various weird rumors, including Triad induced curses about his death, it was quite mundane. Donald Teare, an experienced forensic scientist who had been recommended by Scotland Yard was assigned to the Lee case. His conclusion was “death by misadventure” caused by cerebral edema due to a reaction to compounds present in the combination Equagesic medication. (Died 1973.)
Born November 27, 1951 — Melinda M. Snodgrass, 71. She wrote several episodes of Next Generation while serving as the story editor during its second and third seasons. She also wrote scripts for Sliders, Strange Luck, Beyond Reality, Odyssey 5, Outer Limits and SeaQuest DSV. She’s a co-editor of and frequent story contributor to George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series.
Born November 27, 1957 — Michael A. Stackpole, 65. Best known for his myriad Star Wars and BattleTech books, but I’m going to single him out for the excellent Once a Hero which was nominated for a Nebula, his Conan the Barbarian novel, and the two Crown Colonies novels.
Born November 27, 1961 — Samantha Bond, 61. Best known for playing Miss Moneypenny in four James Bond films during the series’ Pierce Brosnan years. She was also Mrs Wormwood in three episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the spin-off of Doctor Who, and played Helga in Erik the Viking which written and directed by Terry Jones.
Born November 27, 1974 — Jennifer O’Dell, 48. Her only meaningful role to date, genre or otherwise, has been that of Veronica on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. She’s had some minor roles such on Charmed and Bones, and appearances on films such as Alien Battlefield but nothing major.
In the original Star Warstrilogy, Luke Skywalker and R2-D2 have several interactions together, but it’s not entirely clear how the Jedi learned to understand what the astromech droid is saying. Droids have always been a key component of the Star Wars franchise, with some of them being so intelligent they can speak multiple languages, such as R2’s companion, protocol droid C-3PO. Artoo, however, has only ever spoken in the default droid language known as “Binary,” which contains a mixture of whistles, chirps, and beeps, both loud and quiet….
The historian, whose new book is “Silent Spring Revolution,” would also invite E.O. Wilson and Rachel Carson: “We could talk about the 11,000 bird species the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is helping to conserve in the face of climate change.”
What’s the last great book you read?
During the pandemic I was transfixed by George R. Stewart’s “Earth Abides,” perhaps the most frightening doomsday thriller of all time. Most of American civilization collapses because of a strange disease, but a Berkeley ecologist is one of the rare survivors of the epidemic. Stewart wrote the book about 75 years ago, but his description of empty cities and the power of nature unleashed seem very contemporary in a world of Covid and climate change. It holds up well, and Kim Stanley Robinson wrote a fine introduction for the 2020 edition.
…As reported by Mission Local, members of the city’s Board of Supervisors Rules Committee have been reviewing the new equipment policy for several weeks. The original version of the draft didn’t include any language surrounding robots’ use of deadly force until Aaron Peskin, the Dean of the city’s Board of Supervisors, initially added that “robots shall not be used as a Use of Force against any person.”
However, the SFPD returned the draft with a red line crossing out Peskin’s addition, replacing it with the line that gives robots the authority to kill suspects. According to Mission Local, Peskin eventually decided to accept the change because “there could be scenarios where deployment of lethal force was the only option.” San Francisco’s rules committee unanimously approved a version of the draft last week, which will face the Board of Supervisors on November 29th….
Gifaanisqatsi is outstanding. Click it and off it goes, grabbing random GIFs and setting them, with a little treatment (such as time-lapse and slow-mo) to Philip Glass’s score to Koyaanisqatsi. The result is comically nihilistic, confirming both the trivial universality of the movie’s sentiments and that the sense of the awe commanded by the filmic tone poem format is now available at zero marginal cost.
Suggestion: a “Qataaniskoysi” option that restricts the GIFs in use to cats.
…On the sixth day of the Artemis I mission, Orion made a close flyby of the Moon, passing about 81 miles (130 km) above the surface. During the close flyby, Orion’s optical navigation camera captured black-and-white images of craters on the Moon below. Orion uses the optical navigation camera to capture imagery of the Earth and the Moon at different phases and distances, providing an enhanced body of data to certify its effectiveness under different lighting conditions as a way to help orient the spacecraft on future missions with crew….
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]
This year’s sci-fi didn’t shy away from heavy, timely topics like climate change, pandemics, and social justice, but even as the subject matter hit close to home, the listening reached to new heights. Several stunning multicast productions make up this list—as well as narrators we can’t hear enough of. In a world that seems increasingly science fictional by the year, the bar is only set higher for creators in this genre—and this year’s list dares it to inch up just a little more….
Audible’s Sci-Fi Audiobook of the Year, 2022 is Upgrade Soul, an adaptation of Ezra Claytan Daniels’s graphic novel.
…Adapting a visual story to an audio medium is a feat in itself, and rather than simply match frame-for-frame, the author took the opportunity to evolve the story by pushing the boundaries of voice and sound. The production value is stunning, and the cast—Marcia Gay Harden, Wendell Pierce—puts on a masterful performance, quite literally transforming their delivery alongside their characters’ journeys. It’s a listen for sci-fi fans, horror fans, and anyone who has ever felt the fear of being left behind….
Ekpeki — who won the Best Novelette Nebula Award earlier this year for “O2 Arena” — was up for two Hugo Awards that weekend. Not only as a writer for “O2 Arena” again — but also in the category of Best Editor, Short Form. Plus earlier this month, he won a World Fantasy Award in the category of Best Anthology for The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction. He has also won the Otherwise, Nommo and British Fantasy Awards, plus has been a finalist for the Locus, British Science Fiction Association, Theodore Sturgeon Memorial, and This Is Horror awards.
His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in or are forthcoming in Tordotcom, Apex Magazine, Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, Galaxy’s Edge, Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, and more. In addition to editing that first ever — and now award-winning — Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology, he also co-edited the award-winning Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora, as well as — most recently — the Africa Risen anthology from Tordotcom, co-edited with Sheree Renée Thomas and Zelda Knight.
We discussed the reason “shocked” seemed an inadequate word to describe his feelings about winning a Nebula Award earlier this year, what he considered the true prize he won over his Worldcon weekend, how growing up next to a library changed his life, how writing fan fiction helped him get where he is today, the way reading the struggles of a certain character in a Patrick Rothfuss novel helped him deal with his own struggles, what caused him to say “the law cannot help you change the law,” when he decided his novella “Ife-Iyoku, Tale of Imadeyunuagbon” deserved to be a trilogy, the way he does his best work when backed into a corner, how it’s possible for three editors to edit an anthology, and much more.
(4) UNPACKING AFTER THE WORLDCON. Read Morgan Hazelwood’s notes about the Chicon 8 panel “Reaching Past Riordan” or view the video commentary at Morgan Hazelwood: Writer in Progress. The panelists are Beth Mitcham, Kathryn Sullivan, Samantha Lane, Marines Alvarez, and Donna JW Munro.
Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series has led to an explosion of YA speculative fiction that explores mythology and folktales through the adventures of modern-day characters. What’s made this subgenre so popular? And who are some authors to pick up after Percy Jackson? And how has the genre expanded to feature non-Western mythologies?
(5) DAW BOOKS ACQUIRES FIVE NEW FANTASY NOVELS FROM MERCEDES LACKEY. Betsy Wollheim, Publisher at DAW Books, has acquired North American rights to five new books by Mercedes Lackey, represented by Russell Galen at Scovil Galen Ghosh Agency, Inc.
Two books will be set in Lackey’s beloved fantasy world of Valdemar, while the other three will continue her long-running Elemental Masters novels. Lackey is a New York Times-bestselling author and was named a Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association in 2022.
The first of the new Valdemar novels, written in collaboration with her partner Larry Dixon, is scheduled for Spring 2024. Lackey’s expansive fantasy world of Valdemar includes over thirty novels that span the history of the kingdom. Her most recent books explore the long-awaited story of the founding of the nation by the legendary Baron Kordas Valdemar.
Elemental Masters #17 is scheduled for Fall 2024, with books #18 and #19 to follow in 2025 and 2026. Set in the Regency era, these novels combine historical fantasy and fairytale retellings with powers of elemental magic.
(6) NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS. The National Book Awards 2022 were announced this week. None of the winners is of genre interest, except that one of the stories in Samantha Schweblin’s collection Seven Empty Houses (Best Translated Literature) involves a ghost. The complete list of winners is at the link.
(7) REALLY MAD. Mad Genius Club’s Karen Myers is irate about “Authors misusing tools they don’t understand”. In particular she’s offended by the misuse of sentence fragments, and says she finds Lee Child’s Reacher series delivers endless bad examples. While I like the Reacher books, I have noticed this tendency myself…
…Men’s Adventure Stories™ have certain conventions. When you read the genre, you expect explosive action, mortal peril, expertise, heroes & villains, suffering, triumph (contingent). One of the methods used to convey some of this (action, peril, expertise, suffering) is the use of short sentences, or even sentence fragments. The reason this works is that it mimics, in rhetorical form, the experience of hyper-focus or shock — the ability or need to concentrate, in whole or in part, on single things that absorb all attention in a moment of importance. It therefore puts the reader into the head of the person telling the story, a head which can only look at things that way in that moment. It is vivid.
At least, when it’s done right….
(8) TODAY’S DAY. Craig Miller reminds Facebook readers that today is “Life Day” in the Star Wars universe, and explains its origins with an excerpt from his book Star Wars Memories:
The holiday around which “The Star Wars Holiday Special” was centered. The celebration date was chosen because it’s the anniversary of when the show aired its one and only time on television.
To mark the occasion, here’s an excerpt from “Star Wars Memories”, talking about the special’s creation.
The Star Wars Holiday Special
I had no real involvement with “The Star Wars Holiday Special”. It wasn’t a project I was assigned. I didn’t work on it. But I was at Lucasfilm while it was happening, received copies of each draft of the script as they came in, and heard about what was going on from some of the people working on it. So I have a few insights about it….
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1963 — [By Cat Eldridge.]The Pink Panther
Fifty-nine years ago — though I’ll admit not even close to this evening — the first of The Pink Panther films came out. I was thinking about Blake Edwards earlier because of Victor/Victoria, hence this essay. Don’t think about that too much.
The first quite naturally was called The Pink Panther.
WARNING SPOILERS THAT WOULD ATTRACT THE ATTENTION OF A CERTAIN PINK PANTHER FOLLOW.
The Pink Panther first shows up in the opening credits which you can see here.
Its story follows inspector Jacques Clouseau as he travels from Rome to Cortina d’Ampezzo to catch a notorious jewel thief known as “The Phantom” before he is able to steal a priceless diamond known as The Pink Panther, so called because one can see a leaping pink panther within it supposedly.
It is held by the heiress to a country now ruled by a military junta. She and the Phantom are at the same resort as is the Inspector. Somehow against all logic the Inspector, played throughout the series by Peter Sellers, is accused of being The Phantom, arrested, and jailed. More amusingly for me, a woman at the resort falls in love with him.
The film ends after the police car carrying the Inspector to prison runs over a traffic warden which again is the Pink Panther. He gets back up as we hear the crash sound that was coming from the police car, holding a card that reads “THEND” and swipes the letters to somehow read “THE END.”
(A lot of comic mayhem happens that I’ve not covered of course.)
THE PINK PANTHER SAYS IN SIGN LANGUAGE THAT YOU CAN COME BACK.
Blake Edwards directed from a screenplay by him and Maurice Richlin. It had a steller cast of David Niven, the aforementioned Peter Sellers, Robert Wagner and Claudia Cardinale.
Niven who played The Phantom here portrayed had previously played Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman, a character closely resembling the Phantom, in the Raffles film of 1939. Apparently this was presented to him as the beginning of a new series of Raffles-style movies. However Peter Sellers stole every scene, and it became a Sellers vehicle instead.
Peter Ustinov was to play Clouseau, with Ava Gardner as his wife. After Gardner backed out because The Mirisch Company would not meet her demands for a personal staff, Ustinov left as well.
Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a most excellent seventy-eight percent rating.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 17, 1915 — Raymond F. Jones. Writer who is best remembered for his novel This Island Earth, which was made into a movie which was then skewered in Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie. However, he produced a significant number of science fiction novels and short stories which were published in magazines such as Thrilling Wonder Stories, Astounding Stories, and Galaxy, including “Rat Race” and “Correspondence Course”, which respectively earned Hugo and Retro Hugo nominations. (Died 1994.)
Born November 17, 1925 — Rock Hudson. Best known genre role was as Col. John Wilder in The Martian Chronicles series. He also played President Thomas McKenna in the World War III miniseries which you may or may not consider SF. That’s it. (Died 1985.)
Born November 17, 1932 — Dennis McHaney. Writer and Critic. Pulp writers in particular seem to attract scholars, both amateur and professional. Robert E. Howard was not an exception. So I give you this individual who, between 1974 and 2008, published The Howard Review and The Robert E. Howard Newsletter. Oh, but that was hardly all he did, as he created reference works such as The Fiction of Robert E. Howard – A Pocket Checklist, Robert E. Howard in Oriental Stories, Magic Carpet and The Souk, and The Fiction of Robert E. Howard: A Quick Reference Guide. A listing of his essays and other works would take an entire page. It has intriguing entries such as Frazetta Trading Cards, The Short, Sweet Life and Slow Agonizing Death of a Fan’s Magazine, and The Films of Steve Reeves. Fascinating… (Died 2011.)
Born November 17, 1936 — John Trimble, 86. Husband of Bjo Trimble. He has assisted her in almost all of her SF work, including Project Art Show. They were GoHs at ConJose, the 2002 Worldcon. He’s a member of LASFS. He’s been involved in far too many fanzines and APAs too list here.
Born November 17, 1956 — Rebecca Moesta Anderson, 66. Wife of Kevin James Anderson with whom she collaborates more often than not. They’ve done dozens of Star Wars novels including the Young Jedi Knights series, and even one in the Buffyverse.
Born November 17, 1966 — Ed Brubaker, 56. Comic book writer and artist. Sandman Presents: Dead Boy Detectives I’d consider his first genre work. Later work for DC and Marvel included The Authority, Batman, Captain America, Daredevil, Catwoman and the Uncanny X-Men. If I may single out but one series, it’d be the one he did with writer Greg Rucka which was the Gotham Central series. It’s Gotham largely without Batman but with the villains so GPD has to deal with them by themselves. Grim and well done. In 2016, he joined the writing staff for the Westworld series where he co-wrote the episode “Dissonance Theory” with Jonathan Nolan.
Born November 17, 1983 — Christopher Paolini, 39. He is the author of the Inheritance Cycle, which consists of the books Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance. A film version of the first novel came out in 2006. The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, the first book in a series called Tales of Alagaësia, was published in 2018.
(11) MARTHA WELLS Q&A. Media Death Cult’s “Sci Fi Spotlight” interviews Martha Wells. Along the way she mentions that Ben Aaronovich’s Rivers of London is one of her favorites, which one of our reviewers will happy to hear.
Martha Wells is a Hugo and Nebula Award winning author from Texas, she won’t mind me saying that she is most well known for Murderbot.
(12) PARADOX FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] 50 years ago the first edition of the H G Wells Society clubzine Paradox came out. The Romanian writer Silviu Genescu reminded Facebook readers it had no issue number as the authorities (the communist regime) said that there would be no other issues.
In fact the regime almost did not allow the HG Wells Society to be so named as H G Wells was a western author. However the student club members of the society pointed out that Wells was a socialist in outlook and so the authorities granted permission.
This weekend the 50th anniversary edition of Paradox is coming out.
I know a number of H G Wells members as we, SF2 Concatenation, ran cultural exchange ventures with Hungarian and Romanian SF fans and authors back in the 1990s following the fall of the Iron Curtain. So I am still in touch with a few of them.
The engine of graphic-novel publishing — fine-tuned to so many demographics and markets — has run on all cylinders in 2022.
Textured memoirs. Throwback superheroes. Chilling fictional thrills and riveting real-life horror. And retrospectives that dazzle in their devotion to the medium’s history.
Our recommendations could easily number in the hundreds, but to distill our picks, here are 10 stellarcomics that represent an array of genres and styles:
The list includes –
‘The Keeper,’ by Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes and artist Marco Finnegan
The acclaimed husband-and-wife horror authors (NAACP Image Award winners both) team with the gifted Finnegan to render a taut and thrilling tale in which an orphaned Detroit girl must come to terms with the titular spirit. The truth lurks in the omnipresent shadows, and revelations reveal themselves with expert pacing and craft.
(14) HOW THEY DID IT. The New York Times’ “Dressing Wakanda” has a detailed commentary by costume designer Ruth E. Carter about five outfits created for Wakanda Forever. Photos at the link.
…Given that Ms. Carter designed “hundreds of character pieces” for the film, working with ateliers and artists in Los Angeles, Paris, India and New Zealand, not to mention brands including Adidas and Iris van Herpen, the choice was not exactly an easy one….
Carter begins with —
Queen Ramonda, in purple dress and crown
Queen Ramonda’s dress, a combination of computer-generated designs and handwork, took four to six months to make.Eli Adé/Marvel Studios
“She wears this to a U.N. meeting in Geneva, and I wanted you to recognize right away that this is the queen, but because of T’Challa’s death, she is now both the queen and the king. The purple dress represents the color of the royal family — color impacts the audience and story enormously — and she has a 3-D printed crown and collar.
The crown is the same style she wore in the first film, which was also 3-D printed to reflect the fact that Wakandans are technologically advanced enough to create wearable art, and modeled on the isicholo, a Zulu married woman’s hat. The collar has additional gemstones that were added by jeweler Douriean Fletcher. So it’s a combination of computer-generated designs by the artist Julia Koerner and handwork. The dress has a series of Wakandan hieroglyphs going down the center and sides and converge at the neckpiece, so she almost becomes a totem. That is her stature now. It probably took four to six months to make.”
Adamantium, bolognium, dilithium. Element Zero, Kryptonite. Mythril, Netherite, Orichalcum, Unobtanium. We love the idea of fictional elements with miraculous properties that science has yet to discover. But is it really possible that new elements exist beyond the periodic table?
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cathy Green, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day BGrandrath.]
(1) DESTINATION FOR THE STARS? The New York Times’ Blake Gopnik reports that last week Christie’s auction house broke records by selling more than $1.5 billion in art from the estate of Paul G. Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft who died in 2018. Although a lot of high art went under the hammer, his pop culture holdings, including sf art, did not and may have a different fate.
… It all made me think of Allen as the kind of person who might have enjoyed buying, and owning, a $15 million Stradivarius violin and a $12 million Mickey Mantle baseball card and a $10 million stamp from British Guiana.
But there was one work in the sale — a real outlier — that meshed with stronger, more focused feelings that I seemed to glimpse when I met with Allen. Hanging among pieces by the certified geniuses of Western “high” art at Christie’s sat a dreamy, sunset scene of teen-girls-in-nature, painted in 1926 by the American Maxfield Parrish, best known for his truly great work in commercial illustration. It called to mind the tremendous excitement that Allen showed, a decade ago, when he had me look at a series of paintings that had been used, sometime in the 1950s or ’60s, I’d guess, for reproduction on the cover of science-fiction novels or magazines: I remember seeing weird Martian landscapes, galactic skies and maybe a rocket ship or two.
I can’t confirm those memories, right off the bat, because none of those pictures ended up at Christie’s. (Even though you could say that Allen’s Botticelli has some extraterrestrial strangeness to it, if only because of its distance from today’s culture, and that his paintings by Salvador Dalí and Jacob Hendrik Pierneef might work with stories by Philip K. Dick.) But I do remember that in our interview Allen’s enthusiasm for those objects from so-called “popular” culture seemed much more intense, and heartfelt, than the feelings he expressed for masterpieces that had cost him thousands of times more.
And that may be born out in the future that seems in store for those sci-fi objects, different from the fate of the ones sold into private hands at Christie’s. Last month, a spokesperson for Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture, founded by Allen in 2000 — his sister Jody Allen is its current chair — told The Times that more than 4,000 objects of un-fine art and culture from the Allen estate, valued at some $20 million, were due to end up among its holdings, and I can only hope that the sci-fi paintings will be among them. (A representative from Vulcan, the Allen company in charge of his estate, later weighed in to say that the bequest to MoPOP was not final and that Vulcan could not confirm the exact number or type of objects in it. As when their boss was alive, his Vulcans play their cards close to their chests.)…
Archive of Our Own is probably best known as the place to read fans’ carefully crafted Harry Potter prequels or Lord of the Rings stories millions of words long. But the fanfiction website also has a lesser known, though no less important mission: to save older fanfic that’s at risk of disappearing. A new initiative, the Fanzine Scan Hosting Project, aims to make fan stories and art from physical fanzines accessible through the Archive, preserving pieces of history previously confined to university libraries, scattered eBay sales, and forgotten corners of attics….
Over the last year or so, however, Open Doors’ Fan Culture Preservation Project has expanded, finally giving them room to launch the Fanzine Scan Hosting Project. So far, they’re making their way through the backlog of scans that Zinedom has already accumulated, which Dawn estimates is “a couple thousand.”
These came from various sources, with Dawn doing a lot of outreach herself simply by searching Facebook for names she came across in zines and making phone calls. Janet Quarton, a Scottish Star Trek zine publisher and preservationist, scanned about 500 zines herself in 2013. But even Zinedom’s digital collection is only a fragment of what’s out there. One Zinedom participant has a collection of around 8,000 physical zines from the Star Trek fandom alone, and digs out the appropriate copies if Dawn is contacted by someone looking to save something in particular.
Open Doors is now preparing to post on the Archive those zines from Zinedom’s backlog which they already have permission to share. Some of these overlap with online zine archives that they’ve been previously importing, like the Kirk/Spock archive. But new requests and permissions have also been coming in since the announcement, and it will be an ongoing process, with volunteers working hard to convert and edit each individual zine.
(3) THE RIGHT WORD? Nisi Shawl was still in search of an answer that hits the spot when I looked at Facebook this afternoon:
What’s the word for the kind of apology you get that blames you for what went wrong?
What role, if any, did reading and writing play during your military service?
I still have stacks of my journals from the whole nine-year period sitting on my bookshelf, unread to this day. I had written poetry and journaled most of my teenage years up to that point, but when I got out of the service I stopped journaling and writing almost completely for reasons I haven’t quite grasped. That was over 15 years ago. Reading, on the other hand is something I have never stopped doing. These combat deployments were well before I had anything like an e-reader, so it was physical books all the way. I must have lugged around a ridiculous amount of books with me. The big ones that hit me the hardest while deployed are still some of my favorites: Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo, Epictetus’ The Enchiridion, my first readings of Ender’s Game and that series. I got my first copy of House of Leaves while deployed to Iraq and that copy is scrawled with my own footnotes and reflections, and is falling apart at the seams. And then of course, King finished out The Dark Tower while I was deployed so I had those tomes sent to me and to tote around as well. So, yeah, I filled my spare hours with both reading and writing, quite a bit of both.
(5) BOOKSTORE REBOUNDS FROM ARSON ATTACK. “L.A. book emporium the Iliad recovering from mysterious fire” reports the Los Angeles Times. The bookstore’s GoFundMe has been an enormous success. The owner asked for $5,000 to cover his insurance deductible. “The response has topped $34,000, sparing him the need to file a claim at all.”
…The cause of the blaze remains unknown. Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott said it has been ruled undetermined.
[Iliad owner] Weinstein said he believes an arsonist started the fire. It appeared that books the store leaves outside for the community to browse were stacked in a pyramidal shape next to the entry door and lit, he said.
An inscrutable motive was suggested by 15 to 20 copies of a flyer Weinstein said he found taped to the sides of the building. It was a collage of conspiratorial references — the Irish and South African flags, a photo of the burned-out cabin where policeman-turned-killer Christopher Dorner died, an address of a nearby home, and a handwritten letter attributed to Alex Cox, a deceased figure in a complex family homicide case depicted in a Netflix documentary….
… The cuts, earlier reported by the New York Times, would represent about 3% of Amazon’s corporate staff. The exact number may vary as businesses within Amazon review their priorities, the source told Reuters.
The online retailer plans to eliminate jobs in its devices organization, which makes voice-controlled “Alexa” gadgets and home-security cameras, as well as in its human-resources and retail divisions, the person said. Amazon’s time frame for informing staff remained unclear….
(7) THE ART OF FANHISTORY. Garth Spencer’s name was chosen from the hat to be Corflu Pangloss’ Guest of Honour. He has published the speech he gave “revealing the hideous basic truths of fandom” in Obdurate Eye #21.
…There was a time when I thought every other country seems to have a published fanhistory; why shouldn’t a Canadian fanhistory be published? Maybe I could compile it, from any information I could gather. Then I got strange responses like “Who are you? Why are you asking me questions? Who sent you? I’m not responsible!” So, I learned that There Are Things Fans Must Not Put on Record. More to the point, my search to find out what people can be expected to do, when to expect it, and how to defend yourself, is not the first thing people think of when they think of fanhistory….
In 1891, Christopher Furness, owner of the Furness Line of steamships, and Henry Withy, head of the shipbuilding firm Edward Withy & Co., merged their businesses to form Furness, Withy & Co., Ltd. Starting out with 18 vessels, by the outbreak of World War I, it sailed more than 200–and it was ready for a new New York City branch office building….
Andrew Porter reminds readers that he published Chandler’s autobiographical “Around the World in 23,741 Days” in Algol 31. You can read it here.
…One very early—but remarkably vivid—memory I have is of a Zeppelin raid on London during World War I. can still see the probing searchlights, like the questing antennae of giant insects and, sailing serenely overhead, high in the night sky, that slim, silvery cigar. I can’t remember any bombs; I suppose that none fell anywhere near where I was. It is worth remarking that in those distant days, with aerial warfare in its infancy, civilians had not yet learned to run for cover on the approach of raiders but stood in the streets, with their children, to watch the show….
(9) READ COMPLETE MOORE REMARKS ON KEVIN O’NEILL. [Item by Danny Sichel.] At the request of the New York Times, Alan Moore wrote an obit for Kevin O’Neill which was too long to publish. Jeet Heer posted it to Twitter.(O’Neill did the art for Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.)
…In addition to writing for Philanthropy Daily, Martin was a senior fellow at the Capital Research Center, and contributed significantly to research on philanthropy and especially the issue of donor intent. Martin’s contributions to questions around philanthropy, charity, and donor intent can scarcely be overstated. How Great Philanthropists Failed remains the leading book on donor intent and the history of failed philanthropic legacies.
Martin’s work has appeared everywhere from the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Reason, and numerous other publications.
Martin will be sorely missed by all of us at Philanthropy Daily and countless others who have benefited from his important work.
(11) MEMORY LANE.
1985 — [By Cat Eldridge.]Shadow Chasers
Before we get started on talking about today’s essay, may I note that this was the day fifty-eight years ago that Santa Claus Conquers The Martians premiered was well? It was considered one of the worst genre films ever released, bar none.
Thirty-seven years ago this evening a series premiered on ABC, receiving almost no notice: Shadow Chasers. Let’s talk about the show before we turn to a brief autopsy on its numbers.
LOOK— I SEE BIGFOOT COMING WITH SPOILERS!
British anthropologist Jonathan MacKensie (Trevor Eve who played Peter Boyd in the excellent Waking the Dead forensic series) works for the fictional Georgetown Institute Paranormal Research Unit (PRU). MacKenzie’s department head, Dr. Julianna Moorhouse (Nina Foch), withholds a research grant to force him into investigating what she says is a haunting involving a teenage boy. He is paired with flamboyant tabloid reporter Edgar “Benny” Benedek.
Benny and Jonathan do not get along, but manage to solve the case without killing each other. The episodes continued in this vein, with Jonathan and Benny grudgingly learning to respect and admire each other, in the fashion of American cop shows.
LOOK IT WASN’T REALLY BIGFOOT, WAS IT?
Now for the rating autopsy I promised.
So understand that it was on ABC as I said for just ten episodes of its sad existence with the last four shows being broadcast solely on the Armed Forces network. Just how bad was its existence? It was the lowest-rated of a one hundred and six programs during the 1985-1986 TV season.
Why so, you ask? Well that’s easy. It was broadcast against NBC’s The Cosby Show and Family Ties and CBS’s Magnum P.I. and, later on, Simon & Simon on CBS. It didn’t stand a chance.
Indeed, local ABC affiliates within a few weeks in started preempting the series for other programming.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 14, 1907 — Astrid Lindgren. Creator of the Pippi Longstocking series and, at least in the States, lesser known Emil i Lönneberga, Karlsson-on-the-Roof, and the Six Bullerby Children series as well. In January 2017, she was calculated to be the world’s eighteenth most translated author, and the fourth most translated children’s writer after Enid Blyton, H. C. Andersen and the Brothers Grimm. There have been at least forty video adaptations of her works over the decades mostly in Swedish but Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter was an animated series in Japan recently. (Died 2002.)
Born November 14, 1932 — Alex Ebel. He did the poster for the first Friday the 13th film, and his cover illustration for The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin published by Ace Books in 1975 is considered one of the best such illustrations done. I’m also very impressed with The Dispossessed cover he did as well as his Planet of Exile cover too. His work for magazines includes Heavy Metal, Space Science Fiction and Fantastic Story Magazine. (Died 2013.)
Born November 14, 1950 — Elliot S. Maggin, 72. A writer for DC Comics during the Bronze and early Modern ages of comics where he helped shaped the Superman character. Most of his work was on Action Comics and Superman titles though he did extensive work elsewhere including, of course, on the Batman titles.
Born November 14, 1951 — Beth Meacham, 71. In 1984, she became an editor for Tor Books, where she rose to the position of editor-in-chief. After her 1989 move to the west coast, she continued working for Tor as an executive editor which she just retired from. She does have one novel, co-written with Tappan King, entitled Nightshade Book One: Terror, Inc. and a handful of short fiction. A Reader’s Guide to Fantasy that she co-wrote wrote Michael Franklin and Baird Searles was nominated for a Hugo at L.A. Con II. She has been nominated for six Hugos as Best Professional Editor or Best Editor Long Form.
Born November 14, 1959 — Paul McGann, 63. Yes, he only did one film as the eighth incarnation of the Doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who: The Television Movie, but he has reprised that role in numerous audio dramas, and the 2013 short film entitled The Night of the Doctor. He also appeared in “The Five(ish) Doctors” reboot. Other genre appearances include The Pit and the Pendulum: A Study in Torture, Alien 3, the excellent FairyTale: A True Story, Queen of the Damned and Lesbian Vampire Killers.
Born November 14, 1963 — Cat Rambo, 59 . All around great person. Past President of SFWA. She was editor of Fantasy Magazine for four years which earned her a 2012 nomination in the World Fantasy Special Award: Non-Professional category. Her novelette Carpe Glitter won a 2020 Nebula, and her short story “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain” was a 2013 Nebula Award finalist. Her impressive fantasy Tabat Quartet quartet begins withBeasts of Tabat, Hearts of Tabat, and Exiles of Tabat, and will soon be completed by Gods of Tabat. She also writes amazing short fiction as well. The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers is her long-standing school for writers that provides her excellent assistance in learning proper writing skills through live and on demand classes about a range of topics. You can get details here. Her latest, You Sexy Thing, was a stellar listen indeed and I’m very much looking forward to the sequel.
Born November 14, 1969 — Daniel Abraham, 53. Co-author with Ty Franck of The Expanse series which won a Hugo at CoNZealand. Under the pseudonym M. L. N. Hanover, he is the author of the Black Sun’s Daughter urban fantasy series. Abraham collaborated with George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois to write the Hunter’s Run. Abraham also has adapted several of Martin’s works into comic books and graphic novels, such as A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, and has contributed to Wild Cards anthologies. By himself, he picked up a Hugo nomination at Denvention 3 for his “The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics” novelette.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Speed Bump knows of one effect that’s not special at all!
(14) HAPPY NEW YEAR. Lois McMaster Bujold pointed out to her Goodreads followers that the next Penric book Knot of Shadows garnered a starred review in Publishers Weekly. The Subterranean Press hardcover is due to be released on January 1. [Update: Bujold’s author page shows the Kindle edition of Knot of Shadows came out last year in October, so this will be a new hardcover edition, but not a new release per se.]
Temple sorcerer Penric and demon Desdemona return in this page-turner fantasy mystery from Bujold, the 11th in the series (after The Assassins of Thasalon) and possibly the best yet. Penric and Desdemona, the chaos elemental who shares his body, are joined by Alixtra and her own demon, Arra, to help the healers of the Mother’s Order in Vilnoc with an unusual case: a corpse has revived and is now shouting gibberish. Penric discovers that the victim is not one but two dead people—a man slain by death magic and a ghost that has begun animating his body. Death magic is so rare that even Desdemona has never witnessed it performed. A supplicant offers their own life to ensure that the Bastard, Penric’s god, will kill their target. This ritual opens multiple quandaries: Who is the corpse? Were they the supplicant or the target? And where is the other party to the death prayer? Penric remarks that “this case is bound to get ugly and sad”—and indeed it does, in the most creative of ways. Bujold has her protagonists combine mundane and mystical investigative methods to unravel the questions at hand, creating a truly enticing mystery. Series fans and new readers alike will want to savor this intricate , unusual case.
… The challenge, Göransson says, was to find a new sound for the African kingdom of Wakanda and its grief-stricken people while also trying to imagine the sound of Prince Namor’s undersea kingdom of Talokan, whose origins lay in Mexico’s ancient Mayan civilization.
Göransson consulted musical archaeologists and spent two weeks in Mexico City collaborating with Mexican musicians. He auditioned “hundreds of ancient instruments,” from clay flutes to unusual percussion instruments, and saw paintings of Mayans playing on turtle shells, among dozens of similar musically inspirational moments. He discovered the “flute of truth,” a high-pitched whistle-like woodwind instrument, and vowed to incorporate the “death whistle,” which has a piecing sound like a human scream.
By day, Göransson recorded with Mexican musicians, and by night, he was recording with Mexican singers and rappers. “I was using the morning sessions to put together beats and songs that we would use later that day with the artists,” the composer reports….
(16) ON THE GRIPPING HAND. Leaflock™ The Ent™ from WETA Workshop is only fifteen hundred dollars… The image of this veteran of the attack on Isengard “Contains two (and a half) Orcs, squashed, pinned and/or crushed by the Ent’s wrath.”
…But for every icon of the macabre, there are a much larger number of deranged dentists, serial-killing Santa Clauses, and sorority house murderers who don’t quite rank as highly in the frightening food chain. In fact, it’s been a while since a character came along and asserted his or herself as the next count of the Carpathians or chainsaw-wielding maniac. Whoever steps up next has some big shoes to fill, because these are the crème de la crème when it comes to history-making evildoers….
Dracula is the most influential horror villain of all time. The Count stalks like a slasher, murders in droves like a serial killer, and is the inspiration for every single vampire movie made after 1931. Dracula’s vast powers, and his immortality, make him the most formidable of any killer on this list, and while Bela Lugosi is most often associated with the character, it was Sir Christopher Lee who made the Count the vile, sadistic creature of the night.
Lee gave the character a grandiose feel thanks to his imposing height, and there was a sexuality the villain exuded which made him irresistible to women. Unlike his colleague and friend, Peter Cushing, Lee loathed reprising the role because Hammer wasn’t faithful to Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel. “I wanted to play Stoker’s character,” Lee explained. “It wasn’t remotely like the book.”
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Danny Sichel, David Doering, Andrew (not Werdna), 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 Andrew (not Werdna).]
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, A (Spoiler Free) Review
By Chris M. Barkley: (Author’s Note: I wish to state for the record that I, like many others, would have preferred that the role of T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, had been recast for this film. Alas, he was not. But, we do have THIS film to review and I do so gladly and without (too much) bias or reservation. I hope you enjoy it.)
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (4/4 stars) with Angela Bassett, Letitia Wright, Tenoch Huerta, Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Screenplay by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, Directed by Ryan Coogler.
Bechdel Test Rating: OFF THE CHARTS!
Since the turn of the current century, I can personally account for only a few films that have transcended being “only a movie” and have been genuine, world changing, cultural events. And most of them have been either genre, or genre-adjacent, films.
My own personal list includes Casino Royale (2006), The Dark Knight (2008), Avatar (2009), The Avengers (2012), Frozen (2013) Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), the Academy Award winning (for Best Original Screenplay) Get Out (2017) and Crazy Rich Asians (2018).
But the last culturally significant film on my list, Black Panther (also released in 2018), was also one of the best. Not only was it the very first superhero film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, it was also honored with six other nominations (and winning three, for Costume Design, Production Design and Original Score) and earned almost 1.35 billion dollars at the box office.
But, beyond its many accolades and numerous semi-trailers full of cash, it was a moment where the spotlight shone brightly on creative people of color in the motion picture industry.
And much of the success of Black Panther was due to the efforts of writer/director Ryan Coogler, screenwriter Joe Robert Cole and an astounding supporting cast featuring Andy Serkis, Forest Whitaker, Winston Duke, Dani Guriria, Daniel Kauuya, Angela Bassett, Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan.
But above all the others, Black Panther was carried on the magnificent shoulders of the late Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer in August of 2020.
The cast and crew of the film and the whole world at large mourned his passing.
Now Coogler and Cole had a big problem; how could they proceed with expanding the story of Wakanda without its emotional and charismatic north star.
But bravely, and with many, MANY trepidations between themselves and studio executives at Marvel and Disney, they did.
According to Ryan Coogler, the original plan was to have King T’Challa, who was dusted along with half the universe with Thanos’ snap (in Avengers: Infinity War) had returned to Wakanda, trying to make up for the lost time away from his kingdom for five years. Because while he was gone, a new threat had arisen…
In the opening moments of Wakanda Forever, King T’Challa’s absence is dealt in a swift and devastating manner; Shuri (Letitia Wright) is in her laboratory, fervently trying to come up with a treatment for her severely ailing brother. But moments later, her mother, the Sovereign Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), sadly announces that the King has joined the ancestors.
A year later, there is still no successor to T’Challa’s Black Panther to protect Wakanda. The Dora Milaje forces, headed up by General Okoye (Dani Gurira) are holding their own against powerful nations, including the United States, who are eager to obtain and exploit the mysterious extraterrestrial mineral vibranium, the source of Wakanda’s strength and security.
But it turn out that Wakanda is not the only nation state with vibranium; a mysterious flying stranger named Namor (Tenoch Heurta) appears before Ramonda and Shuri, demanding that they help him keep his underwater kingdom of Talokan a secret and their sworn fealty to assist him in case they engage in a war against the surface dwellers he hates and fears.
And, as he amply, and violently demonstrates throughout the film, Namor will do anything AND everything to protect his people…
Namor, also known as the Sub-Mariner of Atlantis to generations of comics fans, was created by writer/artist Bill Everett, appeared in Marvel Comics #1 in August of 1939, was THE first comic book anti-hero. “Namor’s goal wasn’t to rescue kittens or punch criminals — it was to lead an Atlantean army against the air-breathers of America,” stated veteran comics writer Mark Waid to the New York Times in 2019.
As such, Namor was the prototype of many of the conflicted villains that would be created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and a host of other Marvel writers and artist creators a generation later.
But Coogler and Cole have repurposed Namor’s origin and those of his people as descendants from the Yucatan region off the coast of Mexico instead of the mythic realm of Atlantis. His fears, of discovery and the threat of exploration and colonization by the surface dwellers, are highly relatable under the circumstances, even more so than Killmonger’s nationalistic motives were in Black Panther.
Of particular interest is the introduction of a new character in the MCU, Riri Willams (Dominique Thorne), an M.I.T. student and engineering genius who is a target of Namor’s attention. She’s paired with Shuri for a great deal of the film and although she seems to be in over her head most of the time, she handles herself well and her great chemistry in her scenes with Wright make her the perfect foil to Shuri’s all too sure scientist. (And, rest assured, Williams will be back in her own Disney + show next year!)
Also lurking along the edges of the action are Wakanda’s C.I.A. ally Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) who is saddled with his all too nosy boss, Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a quasi-villainous character who was last seen recruiting disgraced the ex-Captain America/U.S. Agent John Walker (Wyatt Russell) for nefarious purposes in the Marvel +’s tv production of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. But this all too brief appearance by Fontaine is actually an easter egg that promises a MCU payoff somewhere down the line as well.
And, I can guarantee that there are a few other narrative surprises that will take your breath away.
But of all of the performances in Wakanda Forever, I would be very disappointed if Angela Bassett is not given any consideration by the Screen Actors Guild, the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards next year. Her dual portrait of a grief stricken mother and a political force to be reckoned with is a wonder to behold and should be rewarded as such. She is the heart of Wakanda Forever.
It is my belief that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is not only the best MCU movie since the first Black Panther, it is also one of the outstanding and entertaining films of 2022.
I went in not knowing what to expect and came out not only pleasantly surprised but immensely pleased that this was not only a brilliant, stand alone sequel but a tearful and loving tribute to the memory of Chadwick Boseman as well.
This Marvel film has a single, mid-credits scene. And I am not exaggerating when I tell you that it is one of the most unexpected and touching things I have ever seen committed on film.
Excelsior, Marvel and movie fans.
Dedicated to the
Chadwick Aaron Boseman (November 29,1976 – August 28, 2020)
Kevin Conroy (November 30, 1955 – November 10, 2022)
…These days it takes a feat of imagination to convey the surrealism of the Black interviewers’ situation. Historian-novelist P. Djèlí Clark conjures that experience in his 2018 dark fantasy short story “Night Doctors,” which begins by quoting a WPA interviewee in Virginia, Cornelius Garner, and his story of “Ku Kluxers” posing as doctors. Clark, while researching a master’s thesis in history, immersed himself in the interviews at the Library of Congress. “People always ask me, ‘Where did you get that idea of the Klan as monsters?’ I say, ‘The WPA archive,’ ” Clark told me in a phone interview….
(2) LEADING AT THE QUARTER POLE. Brian Attebery, author of Fantasy: How It Works, picks the “Top 10 21st-century fantasy novels” for the Guardian. I’ve read two – I’d better get busy.
… However, in this century, a new wave of fantasy challenges that European dominance. Writers of colour and writers from indigenous cultures use magical narratives to depict experiences and express viewpoints difficult to convey within the constraints of realism. One of the effects of fantasy is the way it forces us to consider the categories of the real, the possible and the ordinary – all the norms that fantasy violates. And, in particular, the new fantasy reveals how culture-bound those norms are. Non-European traditions mark off boundaries differently and include as natural entities things we might think of as supernatural. Out of those different ways of setting the limits of the possible and assigning meaning to the impossible come different versions of the fantastic.
The works I list here not only tell engaging stories set in vividly imagined worlds, they are also worth reading for the way their versions challenge our sense of the ordinary and the limits of the real…
In March 1904, the Book Review ran a short appreciation of Henry James’s “The Turn of the Screw,” calling it “one of the best ghost stories ever written” and lamenting that it had been “generally neglected by the public.” Perhaps, the Book Review speculated, it was because “there are periods when tales of the imagination burdened with supernatural horror are more popular than cheerful tales of love and adventure” and times when such stories do not sell at all.
Several days later, “Librarian” wrote a letter concurring with the Book Review’s assessment of the James novella: “It is the best ghost story I have ever read, and the only one that ever made me afraid of the dark.” “Librarian” then requested more recommendations, preferably ones featuring “some old-time ghost dragging chains through corridors or showing his cut throat.”
For months, fellow readers obliged, flooding the Book Review letters page with their favorite tales of terror — “The Severed Hand,” “What Did Mrs. Harrington See?,” “The Watcher,” “The Middle Toe of the Right Foot,” “Witch of Prague,” “The Damned Thing” and “The Monkey’s Paw,” to name just a few….
(7) SPANDEX IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. So says the voice of experience in the new trailer for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. Were they stretching the truth? The series begins streaming August 17 on Disney+.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1952 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Seventy years ago on this date, The Miraculous Blackhawk: Freedom’s Champion first aired. It was a fifteen-chapter adventure with definite sf underpinnings. Columbia Pictures was very prolific with these reels, this being their forty-ninth such endeavor.
The Blackhawks had been created by Chuck Cuidera, Bob Powell and Will Eisner for Quality Comics, which went defunct in 1956. Many of Quality’s character and title trademarks were sold to National Comics Publications (now DC Comics). Characters such as Plastic Man started at Quality.
Primarily created by Chuck Cuidera with input from both Bob Powell and Will Eisner, the Blackhawk characters first appeared in Military Comics #1 in August 1941.
The film was produced and directed by Spencer Gordo, who was as the “King of Serial Directors” as he directed more film serials than any other director. It was written by George H. Plympton, Royal K. Cole and Sherman L. Lowe. The only important one there is Plympton who I’ve mentioned before as he’s responsible for the scripts for Flash Gordon (1936), The Green Hornet (1940), Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940), Superman (1948) and Batman and Robin (1949).
I can’t establish it’s in the public domain, so please don’t offer links to it.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 24, 1802 — Alexandre Dumas. The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After. Are they genre? Good question. I’d say yes as the France they take place in is a fantasy. (Died 1870.)
Born July 24, 1878 — Lord Dunsany whose full name and title was a jaw dropping Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany. So ISFDB lists him as genre for the Jorkens body of work among works. H’h. Gary Turner, who some of you will recognize from Golden Gryphon Press and elsewhere, reviewed The Collected Jorkens: Volumes One, Two, and Three, for Green Man, so I’ve linked to the reviews here. They also list The King of Elfland’s Daughter which I reviewed here as it’s a audio recording with a very special guest appearance by Christopher Lee. (Died 1957.)
Born July 24, 1895 — Robert Graves. Poet, mythologist, historical novelist, critic. Author of, among other works, The White Goddess (a very strange book which Yolen quotes from in The Wild Hunt), two volumes called TheGreek Myths, Seven Days in New Crete which Pringle has on his Best Hundred Fantasy Novels list, and more short fiction that really bears thinking about. (Died 1985.)
Born July 24, 1916 — John D. MacDonald. Though better known for the Travis McGee series which I really like, he wrote three genre novels of which I think the best by far is The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything which was made into a film.He also wrote some sixty genre short stories, many collected in Other Times, Other Worlds. (Died 1986.)
Born July 24, 1936 — Mark Goddard, 86. Major Don West, the adversary of Dr. Zachary Smith, on Lost in Space. Other genre appearances were scant. He played an unnamed Detective in the early Eighties Strange Invaders and he showed up on an episode of The Next Step Beyond which investigated supposed hauntings as Larry Hollis in “Sins of Omission”. Oh, and he was an unnamed General in the Lost in Space film.
Born July 24, 1945 — Gordon Eklund, 77. He won the Nebula for Best Novelette for “If the Stars Are Gods”, co-written with Gregory Benford. They expanded it into a novel which was quite good as my memory says. So would anyone care to tell the story of how he came to write the Lord Tedric series which was inspired by an E.E. Doc Smith novelette? If the Stars Are God is available at the usual suspect as well as Cosmic Fusion, which according to Amazon “was originally written between January 1973 and September 1982, a mammoth 300,000-word epic novel of ‘science fiction, sex, and death.’”
Born July 24, 1951 — Lynda Carter, 71. Wonder Woman of course. But also Principal Powers, the headmistress of a school for superheroes in Sky High; Colonel Jessica Weaver in the vampire film Slayer; Moira Sullivan, Chloe Sullivan’s Kryptonite-empowered mother in the “Prodigy” episode of Smallville; and President Olivia Marsdin in Supergirl. She has an appearance in Wonder Woman 1984 as Asteria.
Born July 24, 1964 — Colleen Doran, 58. Comics artist and writer. The work she’s done includes Warren Ellis’ Orbiter graphic novel, Wonder Woman, Legion of Superheroes, Teen Titans, the “Troll Bridge”:by Neil Gaiman and her space opera series, A Distant Soil. She also did portions of The Sandman, the “Dream Country” and “A Game of You”. She’s tuckerized into Sandman as the character Thessaly. Her work has received the Eisner, Harvey, Bram Stoker, and International Horror Guild Awards.
Born July 24, 1981 — Summer Glau, 41. An impressive run of genre roles as she was River Tam in the Firefly franchise, followed by these performances: Tess Doerner in The 4400, Cameron in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Bennett Halverson in Dollhouse (is this worth seeing seeing?), Skylar Adams in Alphas and lastly Isabel Rochev who is The Ravager in Arrow. And she appears as herself on The Big Bang Theory in “The Terminator Decoupling” episode. Another series I’ve not seen.
Played by humans, chess is a game of strategic thinking, calm concentration and patient intellectual endeavour. Violence does not usually come into it. The same, it seems, cannot always be said of machines.
Last week, according to Russian media outlets, a chess-playing robot, apparently unsettled by the quick responses of a seven-year-old boy, unceremoniously grabbed and broke his finger during a match at the Moscow Open.
“The robot broke the child’s finger,” Sergey Lazarev, president of the Moscow Chess Federation, told the TASS news agency after the incident, adding that the machine had played many previous exhibitions without upset. “This is of course bad.”
(12) TRUE GRIT. Comic-Con week is turning this Scroll into a trailer park! “The Sandman” comes to Netflix on August 5.
Afterwards, Neil Gaiman discussed the Netflix Sandman by dissecting the trailer for Vanity Fair.
(13) D&D FLICK. This trailer for Dungeons and Dragons dropped at Comic-Con.
(14) EATS SHOOTS AND LEAVES. Or maybe there should be some commas in there – this isn’t about superhero cannibalism. I Am Groot, a collection of five original shorts, starts streaming August 10 on Disney+.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Cora Buhlert, Francis Hamit, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bruce D. Arthurs.]
As noted elsewhere, I cut a good chunk of material from my autobiography Becoming Superman because there was just too much stuff for one book and I didn’t want to do this in two volumes. It was already almost too long.
This is actually one of the better, and in part most heartfelt chapters in the whole book, but it was also one that could be cut without damaging the structure of the book because it was for all intents and purposes unconnected from what came before and what followed. It also marks one the first times that something I’d done earned me death threats (yes, there were others).
So I present this to you, good patrons, seen here for the first time anywhere, ever.
(4) LOVE IS BLUE. Somtow Sucharitkul is creating “Terrestrial Passions: a Regency Romance with Aliens” on Kindle Vella. The wry titles of the first four installments set the tone — “A Most Peculiar Frenchman”, “Universally Acknowledged”, “Dissuasion”, and “Incense and Insensibility”.
The widowed Mrs. Dorrit lives a marginal existence with her brother, a vicar, and twin daughters in a cottage on the estate of her wealthy cousin, Lord Chuzzlewit, in the West London village of Little Chiswick. As the season dawns and a rakish Earl takes up residence in the once-abandoned Flanders House nearby, their lives, and the marital prospects of Emma’s daughters, become immeasurably complicated when a starship lands in her apple orchard. By World Fantasy Award winning author S.P. Somtow
Where did this art come from? Somtow says, “Hilarious cover created for my Vella Serial by an Austrian designer on Fiverr.” No name given.
(5) VERTLIEB HONORED. Steve Vertlieb shared today that he has been honored “for his dedication and tireless activity to keep Miklos Rozsa’s memory alive,” by the Hungarian Hollywood Council. Congratulations, Steve!
In a move that has alarmed library supporters, a new law in Kentucky will give politicians control over local library boards in the state. According to a report in the Lexington Herald Leader,SB 167—which came back from the dead last week with a dramatic veto override—will empower local politicians to “appoint whomever they want to library boards and block major library spending.”
Last week, the bill appeared to be killed after Kentucky governor Andy Beshear vetoed it, and the Kentucky House of Representatives fell short of the necessary votes to override. But in a surprise maneuver, supporters of the bill were able to revive the bill for another override vote—and this time, four representatives who had not voted in the previous effort voted to override Beshear’s veto, carrying the measure into law. The law is scheduled to take effect in January 2023.
According to the Lexington Herald Leader, Kentucky Republicans say the issue is “accountability,” pointing out that most of Kentucky’s public library boards can levy taxes and should therefore “answer to someone elected by voters.” But critics say the bill is in fact a thinly veiled effort to “politicize” library boards, and give unprecedented control over library operations to politicians….
(7) CAN IT BE THEY DON’T LOVE US? Lise Andreasen sends “A warm hug to everybody who feels physical pain at ‘it’s not science fiction’ and ‘it’s science fiction but’” in her roundup of critics’ slighting comments about the sff genre in “They Bellow… Dune edition”.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1955 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Sixty-seven years ago, George Pal’s fourth genre film premiered. It was the Conquest of Space and it had two firsts, our first trip to Mars and our first space station, a marvel in itself. It was based off The Conquest of Space by Willy Ley and Chesley Bonestell. The former author has a crater on the far side of the moon named after him. Later in life he became a believer In cryptozoology. Ohhh well. (I’ve actually met Loren Coleman, the prime proponent of that fake science. Don’t get me started on that subject.)
Ley and Bonestell would win an International Fantasy Award for the book. Bonestell would be recognized with Special Award for Beautiful and Scientifically Accurate Illustrations at DisCon II (1974). He later won a Hugo for Best Related Work for The Art of Chesley Bonestell at ConJosé (2002). He’d also pick up a Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4 (2004) for Best Professional Artist.
(Pal had hired Bonestall to the technical adviser on Destination Moon buthe bought the book’s film rights at the urging of Ley.)
The screenplay was by James O’Hanlon from an adaptation by Barre Lyndon, Phil Yordan and George Worthing Yates. O’Hanlon had done the Destination Moon screenplay which won a Retro Hugo at the Millennium Philcon.
It was directed by Byron Haskin who is best remembered for directing The War of the Worlds, one of many films where he teamed with producer George Pal. Bonestell who is known for his photorealistic paintings of outer space, provided the film’s space matte paintings.
So what did critics think about when it was released?
The Variety said of it that, “When Byron Haskin’s direction has a chance at action and thrills they come over well, but most of the time the pacing is slowed by the talky script fashioned from the adaptation of the Chesley Bonestell-Willy Ley book by Philip Yordan, Barre Lyndon and George Worthington Yates.”
The New York Times likewise liked it: “THERE is very little doubt about who should receive a generous amount of credit and praise for ‘Conquest of Space,’ yesterday’s science-fiction entry at the Palace. They are the special effects artists, John P. Fulton, Irmin Roberts, Paul Lerpae, Ivyle Burks and Jan Domela. In telling the fanciful tale of man’s first trip to Mars, they created top-flight effects such as ‘the wheel,’ a self-contained station orbiting about earth, rocket flights in space and a horrendous near-collision with an asteroid. These facets of the Paramount production—and fortunately they are many and frequent—are much to marvel at. But then there is a story. As plots go in this type of unearthly entertainment—and it is nothing more than broad, undemanding entertainment—it is not offensive.”
Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes do not like it at all giving at just a twenty percent rating. Damned if I know why this is so.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 20, 1908 — Donald Wandrei. Writer who had sixteen stories in Astounding Stories and fourteen stories in Weird Tales, plus a smattering elsewhere, all in the Twenties and Thirties. The Web of Easter Island is his only novel. He was the co-founder with August Derleth of Arkham House. He received the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, and he’s a member of First Fandom Hall of Fame. Only his “Raiders of The Universe“ short story and his story in Famous Fantastic Mysteries (October 1939 issue) are available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1987.)
Born April 20, 1937 — George Takei, 85. Hikaru Sulu on the original Trek. And yes, I know that Vonda McIntyre wouldn’t coin the first name until a decade later in her Entropy Effect novel. Is it canon? Post-Trek, he would write Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe with Robert Asprin. By the way, I’m reasonably sure that his first genre roles were actually dubbing the English voices of Professor Kashiwagi of Rodan! The Flying Monster and the same of the Commander of Landing Craft of Godzilla Raids Again. Oh, and it won’t surprise you he played Sulu again in the fan fic video Star Trek: Phase II episode, “World Enough and Time.”
Born April 20, 1939 — Peter S. Beagle, 83. I’ve known him for about twenty years now I realize, met him but once in that time. He’s quite charming. (I had dinner with him here once several years back. His former agent is not so charming.) My favorite works? A Fine and Private Place, The Folk of The Air, Tamsin, Summerlong and In Calabria. He won the Novelette Hugo at L.A. Con IV for “Two Hearts”. And he has the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. He is working on a new novel now I’m told by his editor Deborah Grabien, another friend of mine.
Born April 20, 1949 — Jessica Lange, 73. Her very first role was Dwan in the remake of King Kong. Later genre roles are Sandra Bloom Sr. in Big Fish, Katherine Pierson in Neverwas, and the amazing run of Constance Langdon / Elsa Mars / Fiona Goode / Sister Jude Martin in American Horror Story.
Born April 20, 1949 — John Ostrander, 73. Writer of comic books, including Grimjack, Suicide Squad and Star Wars: Legacy. Well those are the titles he most frequently gets noted for but I’ll add in The Spectre, Martian Manhunter and the late Eighties Manhunter as well. His run on the Suicide Squad is available on the DC Universe app as is his absolutely amazing work on The Spectre.
Born April 20, 1951 — Louise Jameson, 71. Leela of the Sevateem, companion to the Fourth Doctor. Appeared in nine stories of which my favorite was “The Talons of Weng Chiang” which I reviewed over at Green Man. She segued from Dr. Who to The Omega Factor where she was in the regular cast as Dr. Anne Reynolds. These appear to her only meaningful genre roles. And she like so many Who performers has reprised her role for Big Finish.
Born April 20, 1964 — Sean A. Moore. He wrote three Conan pastiches, Conan the Hunter, Conan and the Grim Grey God and Conan and the Shaman’s Curse. He also wrote the screenplay for Kull the Conqueror, and the novelization of it. All were published by Tor. He was active in Colorado fandom. He died in car crash in Boulder. (Died 1998.)
Born April 20, 1964 — Andy Serkis, 58. I will freely admit that the list of characters that he has helped create is amazing: Gollum in The Lord of the Rings films and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, King Kong in that film, Caesar in the Planet of the Apes reboot series, Captain Haddock / Sir Francis Haddock in The Adventures of Tintin (great film that was), and even Supreme Leader Snoke in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Last year, he portrayed the character of Baloo in his self-directed film, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. His readings of The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings are truly amazing as well.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro reports a shocking defection from a well-known superhero team.
(11) PANTHER CHOW. In the Washington Post, Emily Heil interviews Nyanyika Banda, author of The Official Wakanda Cookbook, who explains how they tried to come up with a cuisine that wasn’t just pan-African but actually might have recipes that would come from that imaginary country. “Wakanda cookbook brings Black Panther food lore to life”.
The fictional worlds spun in many TV shows, movies and video games can feel as real and as meaningful to fans as places with actual Zip codes. Think of Hogwarts, the magic-filled, honey-lit boarding school in the world of Harry Potter books and movies; the faraway galaxy of “Star Wars”; or even the lovably quirky small town of Stars Hollow in “Gilmore Girls.”
Wakanda, the wealthy, technologically advanced, mountain-ringed land of the “Black Panther” comics and blockbuster 2018 movie, though, occupies an even more rarefied role. It’s not just the setting for the action in a beloved franchise; it has become a symbol of African greatness, a mythical place that feels like an actual homeland to many people, and not just to comics geeks with posters of King T’Challa on their bedroom walls.
This week, the mythical country is seeing its culture expand with “The Official Wakanda Cookbook,” a collection of recipes sanctioned by “Black Panther” publisher Marvel….
… Aside from the challenges posed by satisfying an avid fan base and respecting a cultural touchstone, Banda faced another, more practical task. Often, a cookbook author writing about a region of the world is concerned about staying true to the dishes, the ingredients, the people and the history of the land. But what does it mean to be faithful to something that doesn’t actually exist?…
(12) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was tuned into Monday night’s episode of Jeopardy! and watched as contestants drew blanks on several items about the fantasy genre:
Category: Fantasy Fiction
Answer: In George R.R. Martin’s saga of Westeros, this blustery & bloody volume follows “A Game of Thrones” & “A Clash of Kings”
No one could ask, What is “A Storm of Swords?”
Answer: Set in ancient China, “A Hero Born” by Jin Yong takes place in a world where this martial art is practiced magically.
Wrong question What is Karate?
Right question: What is Kung-Fu?
Answer: Victor LaValle’s “The Changeling” tells the tale of a human baby switched at birth with one of these Nordic creatures.
No one could ask, What is troll?
(13) FUTURE IS NOW FOR SJW CREDENTIALS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Maria Luisa Paul discusses ViaGen Pets, which will clone your dead cat for $25,000. But while the clone may look like the original cat, it won’t have the personality of the original feline. “A woman cloned her pet after it died. But it’s not a copycat.”
… When the beloved 5-year-old cat died in 2017, there was nothing her owner, Kelly Anderson, could do — or so she thought.
Chai’s body had not yet turned cold when Anderson remembered a conversation with her roommate about the Texas-based ViaGen Pets, one of just a few companies worldwide that clones pets. The next morning, she called them.
Some $25,000 and five years later, Anderson — a 32-year-old dog trainer from Austin — has a 6-month-old carbon copy of Chai curled up in her lap. Belle is nearly identical to Chai, down to her deep-blue eyes and fluffy white coat. The two cats share a couple of quirks, like sleeping with their bodies stretched out against Anderson’s back. But that’s where the similarities end, Anderson said….
(14) PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER. What could be more wholesome? Mecha Builders is coming from the makers of Sesame Street.
Catch a sneak peek of an all-new series from Sesame Street in this official Mecha Builders Trailer! Together Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Abby are the Mecha Builders! The Mecha Builders are always ready to save the day, and while they may not get it right the first time, they won’t give up until they do! There’s no problem too big or too small for this super team to solve … all before snack time. New series coming to Cartoonito! Watch on Cartoon Network May 9th and stream the next day on HBO Max!
(15) SUMMERTIME, AND THE CONCATENATING IS EASY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The SF² Concatenation summer* edition is now up, which is a few days later than usual so as to capture news announced over Easter. This edition has its full news page, articles and convention reports, including: Film News; Television News; Publishing News; General Science News and Forthcoming SF Books from major imprints for the season, among much else. Plus there is a tranche of stand-alone book reviews. Something for everyone.
* ‘Summer’ season here being the northern hemisphere, academic year summer.
v32(3) 2022.4.20 — New Columns & Articles for the Summer 2022
“That was the first day on the set and I’m sitting in this really high director’s chair,” Wallace, 73, recalled of a photo of the two of them. “And Drew comes up to me and she says, ‘Hi, I’m going to sit on your lap now.’ And I said, ‘Well, come on up Drew.'”
“I mean, I knew you were going to be a director/producer back then,” she told Barrymore.
Barrymore raved about how “sexy” Wallace looked in the cheetah costume her character wore for the Halloween scene. “I still fit in it too,” Wallace proclaimed….
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Michael J. Walsh, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) BIAS IN REVIEW SPACES. In a series of Twitter threads, Silvia Moreno-Garcia has tackled issues of bias in review spaces against marginalized authors, such as through the misuse of trigger warnings.
Some of your work has been described as Lovecraftian horror. What draws you to the genre? How do you create such an atmosphere in your stories?
Cosmic horror is already entrenched so much in genre, it’s hard to not be drawn to it. When I use it in my own stories, I’m often attempting to convey a sense of the strange, the otherworldly, and at times inconceivable. That might be done by translating a bit of folklore through a cosmic horror lens, drawing on a favorite trope but finding a new way to present it, or by adding some well-placed tentacles. You can never go wrong with tentacles.
…Nearly 50 years ago. And I was 16 or 17. I was a science fiction fan and a film fan. And I lived just a few miles from the 20th Century-Fox lot.
I no longer remember what prompted me to try this but, for some reason, one evening I decided to drive to the studio. I parked in the studio lot and walked through the gate. It was long before 9/11. Long before security theater took over. You could walk onto any studio lot in town, right past the security guards, as long as you looked like you were meant to be there. And so I did.
What was shooting on the lot that evening were scenes from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. These were outdoor scenes, not on a sound stage. Not having to sneak into a sound stage, it was especially easy to approach and watch….
… Of the nine stories in this anthology, four are written by women. If we count Jane Rice and her collaborator Ruth Allison separately, we have five male and five female authors. Of course, women make up fifty-one percent of the Earth’s population, so an anthology with fifty percent male and fifty percent female contributors shouldn’t be anything unusual. However, in practice there are still way too many magazine issues and anthologies that don’t have a single female contributor, so an anthology where half the authors are women is truly remarkable.
…German science fiction, pulp magazines, morbid beauty, vampire flower women, Jirel of Joiry, the Dark Eye, foreshadowing, Gary Gygax’s exclusion of Clark Ashton Smith from the Appendix N, Alphonse Mucha, doomed protagonists, the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention, and much more!
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 1973 — On this month in 1973, Robert Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love was first published by Putnam. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama would beat it out for the Hugo for Best Novel at Discon II. It was later given a Prometheus Hall of Fame Award. It’s the life of Lazarus Long told in exhaustive detail. Really exhaustive detail. Critics including Theodore Sturgeon loved it, and John Leonard writing for the NYT called it “great entertainment”. It’s currently priced at just six dollars and ninety-nine cents at the usual suspects.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 14, 1908 — Stephen Tall. His first published work was “The Lights on Precipice Peak“ in Galaxy, October 1955. Not a prolific writer, he’d do about twenty stories over the next quarter of a century and two novels as well, The Ramsgate Paradox and The People Beyond the Wall. “The Bear with the Knot on His Tail” was nominated for a Hugo. He has not yet made into the digital realm other than “The Lights on Precipice Peak“ being available at the usual suspects. (Died 1981.)
Born June 14, 1914 — Ruthven Todd. He’s here for his delightful children’s illustrated trio of Space Cat books — Space Cat Visits Venus, Space Cat Meets Mars and Space Cat and the Kittens. I’m please to say they’re available at all the usual digital suspects. He also wrote Over the Mountain and The Lost Traveller which are respectively a lost world novel and a dystopian novel. (Died 1978.)
Born June 14, 1919 — Gene Barry. His first genre role was in The War of the Worlds as Dr. Clayton Forrester. He’d have a number of later genre appearances including several appearances on Science Fiction Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Devil and Miss Sarah, The Girl, the Gold Watch & Dynamite, multiple appearances on Fantasy Island and The Twilight Zone. He’d appear in the ‘05 War of The Worlds credited simply as “Grandfather”. (Died 2009.)
Born June 14, 1921 — William Hamling. Author and editor who was active as an sf fan in the late 1930s and early 1940s. His first story “War with Jupiter”, written with Mark Reinsberg, appeared in Amazing Stories in May 1939. He’d write only short stories, some nineteen of them, over the next twenty years. Genre adjacent, his Shadow of the Sphinx is a horror novel about an ancient Egyptian sorceress. He would be the Editor of two genre zines, Imagination for most of the Fifties, and Imaginative Tales during the Fifties as well. He published four issues of the Stardust fanzine in 1940, and contributed to the 1940 Worldcon program. (Died 2017.)
Born June 14, 1939 — Penelope Farmer, 82. English writer best known for children’s fantasy novels. Her best-known novel is Charlotte Sometimes, a boarding-school story that features a multiple time slip. There’s two more novels in this, the Emma / Charlotte series, The Summer Birds and Emma in Winter. Another children’s fantasy by her, A Castle of Bone, concerns a portal in a magic shop.
Born June 14, 1949 — Harry Turtledove, 72. I wouldn’t know where to begin with him considering how many series he’s done. I’m fairly sure I first read novels in his Agent of Byzantium series and I know his Crosstime Traffic series was definitely fun reading. He’s won two Sidewise Awards for How Few Remain and Ruled Britannia, and a Prometheus for The Gladiator.
Born June 14, 1958 — James Gurney, 63. Artist and author best known for his illustrated Dinotopia book series. He won a Hugo for Best Original Artwork at L.A. Con III for Dinotopia: The World Beneath, and was twice nominated for a Hugo for Best Professional Artist. The dinosaur Torvosaurus gurneyi was named in honor of him.
Born June 14, 1972 — Adrian Tchaikovsky, 49. He is best known for his Shadows of the Apt series, and for Children of Time which won an Arthur C. Clarke Award. (He’s also won a BFA for The Tiger and the Wolf, and a BSFA for Children of Ruin.) The After War series is multi author. He wrote the first, Redemption’s Blade, and Justina Robson wrote the second, Salvation’s Fire.
It’s a formula that has been repeated over and over for about as long as there has been science fiction on television—starting with the likes of Star Trek and Blake’s 7, through the boom in “planet of the week” style TV in the 90s and 00s with Farscape and Firefly, to more recent stories like Dark Matter, The Expanse, Killjoys, and the Guardians of the Galaxy films. Most recently Sky’s Intergalactic, and the Korean movie Space Sweepers have been carrying the standard, while last month saw people diving back into the world of Mass Effect with Mass Effect Legendary Edition. While Commander Sheppard is ostensibly the protagonist of the video game trilogy, few would argue that it’s anything other than the ensemble of the Normandy crew that keeps people coming back.
As science fiction author Charlie Jane Anders points out, it’s not hard to see the appeal of a family of likeable characters, kept in close quarters by the confines of their ship, and sent into stories of adventure.
“I love how fun this particular strand of space opera is, and how much warmth and humour the characters tend to have,” Anders says. “These stories have in common a kind of swashbuckling adventure spirit and a love of problem-solving and resourcefulness. And I think the ‘found family’ element is a big part of it, since these characters are always cooped up on a tiny ship together and having to rely on each other.”…
(10) HYPERTEXT PETS. “HTTP Status Dogs” is a collection of photos about “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Response status codes. And dogs.”
Bryson Kliemann loves his Pokémon card collection, but when he found out his beloved puppy Bruce was sick and might not survive, the 8-year-old did what he could to save his best friend. He set up a stand on the side of the road in Lebanon, Virginia, with a sign: “4 Sale Pokémon.”
…”I’m a realist with my kids,” Woodruff said. “I told him Bruce was sick and said ‘When you get home today from school, he may be at the vet’s office or in heaven.”
When Bryson got off the school bus that day, he showed his mother and stepfather a business plan he created to sell his Pokémon cards and snacks to help raise money to get Bruce the best possible care.
“I told him no, we’ve got this,” Woodruff said. “And then he later asked my husband and we decided to say yes, because this was also an opportunity to teach him responsibility.”
Bryson set up his stand on the side of the road, complete with a colorful umbrella and handmade signed, and started serving customers.
The first day he made $65. Within two afternoons, Woodruff said her son had made $400 and even received some Pokémon cards from kind strangers who wanted to help….
(12) ETCH-A-SKETCH. Wow! Princess Etch (Jane Labowitch) made an Etch-A-Sketch of the ship that blocked the Suez Canal.
The new update is called “Black Panther: War for Wakanda”. You’ll face off against classic Marvel villain Ulysses Klaue in what seems to be a fight over vibranium. That’s the rare metal in the world of Marvel that can only be found in Wakanda.
This will be the first time that the Black Panther has appeared in the Marvel’s Avengers game, so it’s great to see him finally team up with the Avengers.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Ben Bird Person, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
“We updated the Model Trade Book Contract last year right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. We never could have predicted just how deleterious the crisis would be on working writers, with 71.4 percent of authors reporting losing, on average, 49 percent of their regular pre-pandemic income, based on our latest member survey,” said Mary Rasenberger, CEO of the Authors Guild. “Given this situation, we have been exploring various ways to help ease the lives and careers of professional writers, which is why the Authors Guild Council recently voted to remove the Model Trade Book Contract from behind our member paywall and make it freely accessible for all writers, publishers and anyone interested in book contracts. We hope that publishers will look to its terms in creating their own or adopt it, and we want authors around the globe to have access to it so they can understand what terms and issues they should be aware of before signing any book deal.”
(2) THEY’RE BACK. “Wakandans Featurette/Marvel Studio’s The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” on YouTube is a trailer from Disney+ that announces that Wakandans have shown up in The Falcon And The Winter Soldier.
(3) SPFBO. Mark Lawrence has announced that he will be starting the next Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off on June 1st. They need another blogger/reviewer.
… When the Best Series Hugo was proposed, the argument was that a lot of popular and long-running series are overlooked by the Hugos – or the Nebulas for that matter – because the individual novels don’t stand alone very well and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
However in practice, such series, no matter how popular, are rarely nominated. Particularly The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher is notable by its absence, even though the Best Series Hugo seems tailor-made for this series.
Instead, the Best Series ballot tends to consist of trilogies by authors Hugo voters like and where individual volumes have often made the ballot before as well as of works set in the same wold that form a series if you squint really hard. I guess most Hugo voters simply aren’t series readers.
That said, the actual Best Series ballot looks pretty good this year. The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells is a hugely popular series where prettty much every installment has either been a finalist or would have been, if Martha Wells hadn’t withdrawn two Murderbot novellas from consideration in 2019. It’s also a great series….
… Unlike other sites where NASA has sent rovers and landers — including the landing spot of the new Perseverance rover and its Mars helicopter — powerful gusts of wind have not been sweeping Elysium Planitia. These winds, called “cleaning events,” are needed to blow the red Martian dust off the solar panels of NASA’s robots. Without their help, a thick layer of dust has accumulated on InSight, and it’s struggling to absorb sunlight.InSight’s solar panels were producing just 27% of their energy capacity in February, when winter was arriving in Elysium Planitia. So NASA decided to start incrementally turning off different instruments on the lander. Soon the robot will go into “hibernation mode,” shutting down all functions that aren’t necessary for its survival.
By pausing its scientific operations, the lander should be able to save enough power to keep its systems warm through the frigid Martian nights, when temperatures can drop to negative-130 degrees Fahrenheit.
“The amount of power available over the next few months will really be driven by the weather,” Chuck Scott, InSight’s project manager, said in a statement.
InSight is still in good condition — it’s even using its robotic arm — but an out-of-season storm could cause a power failure. If the lander’s batteries die, it might never recover.
“We would be hopeful that we’d be able to bring it back to life, especially if it’s not asleep or dead for a long period of time,” Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s principal investigator, told Insider. “But that would be a dicey situation.”
This novel long predates the heyday of wormholes; it doesn’t even use the phrase. But it uses spacetime anomalies, which are just like wormholes. With one exception: they don’t just have an entrance and an exit. They can take you all sorts of interesting places if you enter the anomaly with the wrong approach vector. A small error calculating the vector and a hapless ship could find itself light-millennia off-course, with no clear idea how to get home. No prizes for guessing if this happens to the Asgard, the very ship on which the eponymous Starman Jones is serving. Nor is this worst that will happen to the unfortunate castaways.
(8) MCCRORY OBIT. Actress Helen McCrory, OBE, (1968-2021) died April 16 reports GEEKchocolate.
We are hugely saddened to hear of the death of the wonderful Helen McCrory, known to us as Rosanna Calvierri’s in Doctor Who’s Vampires of Venice, but with a resume which stretched from Interview with the Vampire, Charlotte Gray, The Count of Monte Cristo, Skyfall, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, a recurring role in Harry Potter as Narcissa Malfoy, and a long stint as Polly Grey on Peaky Blinders, as well as two appearances as Cherie Blair in The Queen and The Special Relationship.
(9) FELIX SILLIA OBIT. The actor who played Cousin Itt on The Addams Family, Felix Sillia, has died at the age of 84 reports SYFY Wire.
April 16, 1955 –On this day in 1955, Science Fiction Theatre aired “Time Is Just A Place” as the second episode of the first season. It’s from Jack Finey’s “Such Interesting Neighbors” (published in Collier’s, 1951) which would later form the basis of the March 20, 1987 adaptation of the story under its original title for Amazing Stories. The story is that neighbors are increasingly suspicious of the inventions of Mr. Heller, who claims to be an inventor, who uses a robotic vacuum cleaner and a flashlight that beams x-rays. It starred Don DeFore, Warren Stevens and Marie Windsor. You can watch it here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 16, 1891 – Dorothy Lathrop. Illustrator and author. Historically a lot of good fantasy has been written for children; folks who appreciate fantasy know to look there. DL illustrated twoscore books, writing nine herself, also nonfiction. Rachel Field’s Hitty, illustrated by DL, won RF a Newbery Medal; DL’s illustrations for Helen Fish’s Animals of the Bible won DL a Caldecott Medal. Here is DL’s cover for an ed’n of The Little Mermaid. Here is a dandelion soldier. Here is an interior for Mopsa the Fairy. This is from DL’s Fairy Circus. Here is Across the Night Sky. Here is a 2011 appreciation with another score of pictures. (Died 1980) [JH]
Born April 16, 1921 — Peter Ustinov. He had a number of genre appearances such as being in Blackbeard’s Ghost as Captain Blackbeard, in the animated Robin Hood by voicing both Prince John and King Richard, as simply The Old Man In Logan’s Run, Truck Driver In The Great Muppet Caper, and in Alice in Wonderland as The Walrus. He wrote The Old Man and Mr. Smith: A Fable which is clearly genre. Genre adjacent (well sort of), he played Hercule Poirot twice. (Died 2004.) (CE)
Born April 16, 1922 — Kingsley Amis. So have you read The Green Man? I’m still not convinced that anything actually happened, or that rather everything including the hauntings were really in Maurice Allington’s decayed brain. I’m not seeing that he did much else for genre work other outside of The Anti-Death League and The Alteration but he did write Colonel Sun: A James Bond Adventure under the pseudonym of Robert Markham and his New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science Fiction which was published in the late Fifties sounds fascinating as he shares his views on the genre and makes some predictions as there’ll never be a SF series on the boob tube despite there already being some. (Died 1995.) (CE)
Born April 16, 1922 — John Christopher. Author of The Tripods, an alien invasion series which was adapted into both an excellent radio and a superb television series. He wrote a lot of genre fiction including the Fireball series in which Rome never fell, and The Death of Grass which I mention because it was one of the many YA post-apocalyptic novels that he wrote in the Fifties and Sixties that sold extremely well in the U.K. The film version would be nominated for a Hugo finishing sixth in the balloting at Noreascon I, a year where No Award was given. (Died 2012.) (CE)
Born April 16, 1953 – J. Neil Schulman. Four novels, half a dozen shorter stories; collection Nasty, Brutish, and Short Stories (speaking of Hobbes’ Leviathan, I used to joke that the tiger should have been Calvin, and the boy Hobbes because he was nasty, brutish, and short); “Profiles in Silver” for The Twilight Zone; two Prometheus Awards. I can’t remember ever agreeing with him, but I miss him. (Died 2019) [JH]
Born April 16, 1954 — Ellen Barkin, 65. Usually I don’t do a birthday listing for just a few genre appearances but I make an exception for those performers who appeared in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Barking played Penny Priddy in that film and that was her only genre appearance other than playing Kathleen in the Into The West film about Irish Travellers and a very special horse named Tír na nÓg. (CE)
Born April 16, 1962 — Kathryn Cramer, 59. Writer, editor, and literary critic. She co-founded The New York Review of Science Fiction in 1988 with David G. Hartwell and others, and was its co-editor until 1991 and again since 1996. She edited with her husband David G. Hartwell Year’s Best Fantasy one through nine and Year’s Best SF seven through seventeen with him as well. They did a number of anthologies of which I’ll single out The Hard SF Renaissance and The Space Opera Renaissance as particularly superb. She has a most excellent website — Kathryncramer.com. (CE)
Born April 16, 1970 – Brandon McKinney, age 51. Here is a fine cover for John Whitman’s novelization Star Wars. Here is a cover for JW’s Phantom Menace. Interiors for both. Here is Batman, here is Robin. Here is Spider-Man. Here is Bruce Lee in The Dragon Rises. Also Elfquest; see here. [JH]
Born April 16, 1975 — Sean Maher, 46. Doctor Simon Tam In the Firefly verse. And Dick Grayson (Nightwing) in a staggering number of animated DAC films, to wit Son of Batman, Batman vs. Robin,,Batman: Bad Blood, Justice League vs. Teen Titans, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract and Batman: Hush. He showed up on Arrow as Shrapnel in the “Blast Radius” and “Suicide Squad” episodes. (CE)
Born April 16, 1978 – Amy Ruttan, age 43. Four novels for us; two dozen others. “Half the fun of writing historicals and being swept away in a different time period is the research…. let someone else you trust have a look over your work. You’ll be surprised what you as an author won’t pick out.” [JH]
Born April 16, 1983 – Thomas Olde Heuvelt, age 38. Too little (say I) of his work has been translated from Dutch into English. “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” was and won a Hugo, which may be some encouragement. Six novels, sixteen shorter stories; one novel, five shorter stories in English so far. Three Paul Harland prizes. [JH]
Born April 16, 1990 – Kusano Gengen, age 31. (Personal name last, Japanese style.) Only three stories yet translated into English; one is “Last and First Idol” – yes, alluding to Olaf Stapledon – which won a Seiun, and is the lead story in a 2018 collection with the other two. KG drew a thousand words from Jonathan Clements, of which I’ll quote a few about “Idol”: “Described by one of the Hayakawa Sci-Fi Contest [which “Idol” won – JH] panelists as ‘stupid’, and by an employee of his own publisher as ‘abysmal’, Kusano’s work of recursive SF provocatively combines the breathless, vapid prose of a teenage school story with the portentous, epic concerns of Space Opera, turning each into a wry commentary on the pomposity of the other.” Meanwhile Kusano-san went off to Hokkaidô University for a Ph.D. [JH]
(13) IMAGINARY PAPERS ON YOUR DOORSTEP. The Arizona State University Center for Science and the Imagination today published the 6th issue of Imaginary Papers, their quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination.
This issue features writing from media scholar Lisa Yin Han, experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats, and learning sciences researcher Ruth Wylie.
April 17, Saturday – 2pm EDT, 11AM PDT, 7PM London – Early Star Trek Fandom, with Ruth Berman and Devra Langsam.
Stories and anecdotes from Ruth and Devra about their entry into fandom, about the origins of Star Trek fandom, and how they came to publish T-Negative and Spockanallia. For those of us that came into fandom later, here’s a chance to hear how Star Trek was received in general fandom, how Trek fandom got started, who the BNFs were and what they were they like. How did the first Trek fanzines and Trek conventions affect fandom, and how did Trek fandom grow and become its own thing.
April 27, Tuesday – 4pm EDT, 1pm PDT, 9PM London. An Interview with Erle Korshak by Joe Siclari.
Erle Korshak is one of our remaining FIrst Fans (inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1996) and a Guest of Honor at Chicon 8 (2022 Worldcon). Erle was an organizer of the first Chicon, the 1940 Worldcon, and was one of the Worldcon auctioneers for many years. He started Shasta Publishers, one of the first successful specialty SF publishers. He was also involved with early SF movies. In this session, fan historian Joe Siclari will interview Erle and his son Steve about early fandom, early conventions (including Worldcons), Shasta, and both Erle and Steve’s continuing interest in illustration art. Note: this is a midweek session.
May 22, Saturday – 2pm EDT, 11AM PDT, 7PM London – An Interview with Bjo and John Trimble.
Bjo and John Trimble have had an enormous impact on fandom from the 1950s onward. They’ve pubbed their ish, and some of the zines are available on FANAC.org. Bjo created the convention art show as we know it today (pre-pandemic) with Project Art Show, and published PAS-tell to share info with interested fans everywhere. In LASFS, Bjo had a large role in reviving a flagging LASFS in the late 50s. Her most famous contribution was the successful Save Star Trek campaign which resulted in a 3rd year of the original series. Bjo was one of the organziers of Los Angeles fandom’s film making endeavors. John is a co-founder of the LASFS clubzine, De Profundis and an editor of Shangri-L’Affaires. Bjo and John were Fan Guests of Honor at ConJose (2002), and were nominated twice for Best Fanzine Hugos. Bjo was nominated for Best Fan Artist Hugo. In this interview, expect stories and anecdotes of Los Angeles fandom, how the art show came to be, Save Star Trek and more.
(15) BEAMING INTO YOUR HOME. Stay tuned as Galactic Journey boldly goes through 1966!
Amazon Studios’ The Lord of the Rings television show is going to cost all the gold in the Lonely Mountain.
The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Amazon will spend roughly NZ$650 million — $465 million in U.S. dollars — for just the first season of the show.
That’s far above previous reported estimates that pegged the fantasy drama as costing an already record-breaking $500 million for multiple seasons of the show.
“What I can tell you is Amazon is going to spend about $650 million in season one alone,” Stuart Nash, New Zealand minister for economic development and tourism, told Morning Report. “This is fantastic, it really is … this will be the largest television series ever made.”
The figures were released as part of as part of the New Zealand government’s Official Information Act and initially reported by the New Zealand outlet Stuff. The documents also confirmed the studio’s plan to film potentially five seasons in New Zealand — as well as possible, as-yet-unannounced spinoff series.
By comparison, HBO’s Game of Thrones cost roughly $100 million to produce per season, with its per-episode cost starting at around $6 million for season one and eventually rising to around $15 million per episode in season eight….
… However, part of the beauty of Infinity Train has always been its conciseness. The animated series takes on an anthology format. Each season follows a different passenger on the titular train, where each car holds a new world. Passengers are assigned a glowing green number that goes down as they learn more lessons and work to resolve the problems in their life. When their numbers reach zero, they can exit the train. Each season is only 10 episodes long, and at 11 minutes each they pack in an astounding amount of character development and heart. …
(18) KING OF THE MOVIES. There will be an online “Dollar Baby film festival” hosted by Vancouver’s Baker Street Cinema of unreleased Stephen King movies from April 23-25. Full details at the link.
Hosted by Canadian film production company Barker Street Cinema, the virtual festival, called STEPHEN KING RULES, will screen 25 submissions by filmmakers from all over the world, many of which have never been seen by a global audience before.
Since 1977, the Master of Horror – Stephen King – has allowed emerging filmmakers to adapt his previously unproduced short stories into films that may help launch their careers through what is called the Dollar Baby Deal. Barker Street’s STEPHEN KING RULES Dollar Baby Film Festival will showcase an exciting line-up of these independent movies, including interviews and panel discussions with the filmmakers themselves….
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Dann, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, N., Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, James Davis Nicoll, Bill, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day MixMat and Cliff with an assist from Jack Lint and Anna Nimmhaus.]