The six animated episodes were produced by BBC Studios last year using audio tracks from the original installments starring Patrick Troughton as The Doctor. (The original 1968 versions are among the classic “Doctor Who” episodes that are famously missing from the BBC archives.) The updated animated versions, which aired in the U.K. back in September, will get their U.S. debut on BBC America on Sunday, March 21.
(2) MORE PREVIOUSLY-UNHEARD WHO. Now no longer muted!
(3) ALSO SAVED FROM THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR. It’s the Wonder Woman 1984 gag reel! You didn’t know WW84 was a comedy. And a musical. And a mime show.
Today, we’re announcing that we are postponing Gen Con 2021 as originally planned for August 5-8 in Indianapolis and announcing plans for a hybrid slate of concurrent in-person and online experiences, including the rescheduled Indy convention, this September 16-19, 2021. We believe this is the best approach both to meet the many challenges of the moment and to explore possibilities for the future.
…After the success of Gen Con Online last year, we know that the magic feeling of Gen Con can translate to a virtual format. It’s not a substitute for the in-person experience, but rather an extension of it. Just as many of us have learned how to run our RPG games over video chat or play board games on one of the incredible virtual tabletop platforms that have been developed, we’re learning how to adapt the convention experience to flexible conditions.
Gaming is changing, and so are we. This will be a Gen Con unlike any other, and the way we emerge from this period of tragedy will carry us into a new future for Gen Con and the hobby we share and love….
(5) WELL, EXCUSE US! Christopher Mark Rose takes a high overview of “Writing About Robots” at From the Earth to the Stars, the Asimov’s SF blog.
There will be a long, difficult appraisal of speculative fiction when artificial intelligences begin to read it critically. I think about this a lot.
Firstly, I find the expression “artificial intelligence” pejorative, and I’m sure that later, electronic voices will join me in objecting to it. What exactly is “artificial” about it?…
… Our writings are like scars we humans make on one another, or recordings of our own scars, encoded, obliquely or not-so, for the future to guess at. But robots are our future, and in the end we can hide nothing from them. It’s too late to stuff all those robot-hunter comic books under the bunkbed, it’s too late to burn all the copies of “I Have No Mouth.” It’s too late now, to rewrite Asimov’s Three Laws.
In a major victory for morally conflicted extraterrestrials posing as human doctors everywhere, Syfy has renewed Resident Alien for a second season. The pickup comes just days after TVLine bestowed upon the series’ titular star, Alan Tudyk, its coveted Performer of the Week title. Coincidence? You be the judge!
… In most productions of The Robbers, the actors wear 18th century garb, which Karl complements with the slouch hat of the romantic highwayman. In Bremen, however, Karl (portrayed by Vadim Glowna whose mother-in-law Ada Tschechowa was one of the victims of the Lufthansa flight 005 crash in January) dresses in a Superman inspired costume, which looks striking, though it doesn’t provide much camouflage in the deep dark woods of Bohemia. Franz is dressed up like a monkey with a tail, a hunchback and huge fake ears, probably because Franz is supposed to be ugly and the talented 25-year-old Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, who portrays him on stage, is rather handsome. Amalia (Edith Clever), meanwhile, emphasises her virginal purity by wandering about in a white nightgown. Again, you would not think that this is particularly shocking, but the furious boos and walk-outs from parts of the audience suggest otherwise….
WWAC (pronounced “Wuh-Whack, according to the poll results) is an Eisner Award-winning online journal that offers diverse insight into the world of comic book culture and the comic book industry at large by amplifying the voices of women and people of marginalized genders. We’re committed to giving our readers diverse, interesting, critical, and fun content on comic books, the comic industry, books, comic book culture, and a look into differing geeky lifestyles.
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
March 17, 2006 — On this day in 2006 in the United States Doctor Who aired “Rose”, the first episode of the new Doctor Who. It starred Christopher Ecclestone as The Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler. “Rose” was the first Doctor Who episode to air since the Doctor Who television film in 1996. The story was written by Russell T Davies. Most critics and Whovians generally liked the new series.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born March 17, 1906 — Brigitte Helm. German actress, Metropolis. In her first appearance as an actress she played two roles, Maria and her double, the Maschinenmensch, plus several uncredited roles as well. She’s got some other genre credits including L’Atlantide (The Mistress of Atlantis) and Alraune (Unholy Love). Her later films would be strictly in keeping with the policies of the Nazis with all films being fiercely anti-capitalist and in particular attacking Jewish financial speculators. (Died 1996.) (CE)
Born March 17, 1917 – Charles L. Fontenay. A score of novels, twoscore shorter stories. Outside our field, editor of the Nashville Tennessean; biography of Estes Kefauver. (Died 2007) [JH]
Born March 17, 1933 – Ken Barr. A hundred twenty covers, a hundred thirty interiors. Here is the Dec 58 Nebula. Here is Tom Swift and His Rocket Ship. Here is Lord of Thunder. Here is his poster for The Terminal Man. (Died 2016) [JH]
Born March 17, 1933 – Laurence M. Janifer. A score of novels, fourscore shorter stories, various pseudonyms, co-authors e.g. Randall Garrett, Terry Carr. Anthology Masters’ Choice with 18 choosing e.g. Asimov, Bradbury, Davidson, Kornbluth, Lafferty, Moore. Pianist. (Died 2002) [JH]
Born March 17, 1947 — James K. Morrow, 74. I’m very fond of the Godhead trilogy in which God is Dead and very, very present. Shambling Towards Hiroshima is a lot of satisfying satirical fun as is The Madonna and the Starship which is also is a wonderful homage to pulp writers. (CE)
Born March 17, 1948 — William Gibson, 73. I’ve read the Sprawl trilogy more times than I can remember and likewise the Bridge trilogy and The Difference Engine. The works I struggled with are Pattern Recognition, Spook Country and Zero History. I’ve tried all of them, none were as appealing. (CE)
Born March 17, 1949 — Patrick Duffy, 72. Surely you’ve seen him on Man from Atlantis? No? Oh, you missed a strange, short-lived show. His other genre credits are a delightfully mixed bag of such things as voicing a Goat on Alice in Wonderland, appearing on The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne as Duke Angelo Rimini in the “Rockets of the Dead” episode and voicing Steve Trevor in the incredibly excellent “The Savage Time” three-parter on Justice League. (CE)
Born March 17, 1951 — Kurt Russell, 70. I know I saw Escape from New York on a rainy summer night in a now century-old Art Deco theatre which wasn’t the one I later saw Blade Runner in. I think it’s much better than Escape from L.A. was. Of course there’s Big Trouble in Little China, my favorite film with him in it. And let’s not forget Tombstone. Not genre, you say. Maybe not, but it’s damn good and he’s fantastic in it. (CE)
Born March 17, 1951 – Lian Tanner, age 70. Eight novels. Two Aurealis Awards. She has been dynamited while SCUBA diving and arrested while busking. “I get some of my best ideas while walking on the beach, which is just three houses away at the end of my street…. I recently worked out that I have read more than 10,000 books.” [JH]
Born March 17, 1958 — Christian Clemenson, 63. Though I’m reasonably sure his first genre appearance was on the Beauty and The Beast series, his first memorable appearance on the BtVS episode “Bad Girls” as a obscenely obese demon named Balthazar. Lots of practical effects were used. His other significant genre role was on The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. as fish-way-out-of-the-water Eastern lawyer Socrates Poole. And yes I loved that series! (CE)
Born March 17, 1970 – Patrice Nganang, Ph.D., age 51. Temps de chien won the Marguerite Yourcenar prize and Grand Prix littéraire d’Afrique noir, tr. Dog Days; eight other novels; essays. Taught German at Vassar, now Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature at State Univ. NY, Stony Brook. “What compels me to write is the feeling that the complexity of an African life has not been told yet” (he is Cameroonian); see this 2009 interview. [JH]
Born March 17, 1971 – Sherri Smith, age 50. Two novels for us; five others and Who Were the Tuskegee Airmen? Nine years at Bongo Comics, six Simpsons titles. Flygirl (outside our field) an Am. Lib’y Ass’n Best Book for Young Adults and Calif. Book Awards Gold Medalist. Teaches at Hamline Univ. and Goddard. [JH]
Lately, cartoonist and animator Aminder Dhaliwal has been drawing monsters. “It might have been a result of drawing women for so long,” she says, referring to her acclaimed debut graphic novel, Woman World, “but I started drawing more grotesque things. It slowly segued into the idea of sexualizing monsters.” Dhaliwal drew a cartoon of a cyclops woman with a single breast and posted it on Instagram to delighted responses. This became the seed of her latest funny, socially-aware, fantasy graphic novel, Cyclopedia Exotica, to be published by Drawn & Quarterly in April.
Cyclopedia Exotica takes place in a world where one-eyed cyclopes-folks live alongside two-eyed people and are treated as a minority group. The book opens as an encyclopedia of cyclops history, biology, and culture before a cyclops interrupts the columns of facts to say, “Blegh! What a dull way to learn about a minority.” From that point, the cyclopes take over the story….
(13) FREE READ. Cora Buhlert’s “Cold Equations” rebuttal story “The Cold Crowdfunding Campaign,” posted on her blog in 2020, is now also available as a free e-book with a neat cover in the format of your choice here.
…Syal asks directly if Gill thinks an actress of colour will ever play the Doctor, to which she says, “Yeah, I do. I think there’s a long way to go but there’s definitely room for change. And actually I think at the BBC and at Doctor Who they are very open and forward-thinking, so yes.”
Of course Jo Martin became the first woman of colour to play an incarnation of the Doctor last year, appearing in two episodes of the show’s 12th series, but Doctor Who has never had a BAME star play the Doctor as the show’s lead. Yet.
Syal also asks Gill if she is aware that she inspires young girls in her role as Yaz, to which she says, “I am very, very aware there are little people who are watching.”
Gill, who appears alongside actress Josette Simon on the show, also reflects on how excited she was to be cast in Doctor Who in the first place. “I couldn’t believe my luck. I’d filmed Casualty the January before and that was in the same building,” she says.
‘We were at the top of the hallway and when I finished Casualty, they walked us to the canteen and they were like, ‘Don’t go in that door, that’s for the Doctor Who people!’. There and then I thought I’d never be in Doctor Who… Cut to six, seven months later and you know what? I’m like ‘Don’t go up there… that’s for Casualty!’”
(17) MORE ANTIKYTHERA NEWS. In “The Antikythera Cosmos” on Vimeo, Martin Freeth shows how researchers at University College (London) have come up with new ideas about the front of the Antikythera mechanism, showing that we completely misunderstood how the front of the mechanism works.
[Thanks to JJ, Nancy Sauer, Mike Kennedy, N., Hampus Eckerman, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Cora Buhlert, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
By Steven Vertlieb: As ever, I am proud to be a voting member of The International Film Music Critics Association. Here are this year’s most worthy winners. I am particularly proud to announce that Tadlow’s stunning new recording of Samuel Bronston’s epic “King of Kings,” composed by Miklos Rozsa, produced by James Fitzpatrick, and conducted by Nic Raine, as well as the most remarkable visualization ever produced of a live John Williams concert, Deutche Grammophon’s “John Williams In Vienna”, have each won in their respective categories.
Also, winning recognition as Best Original Score For A Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror Film was the Wonder Woman 1984 music by Hans Zimmer.
Sincere congratulations to all of this year well deserved winners.
…2. ‘Canceling’ is certain people discovering that capitalism doesn’t love them as much anymore. I don’t want to say that capitalism is value-neutral, because, whoooooo boy, it is not, buuuuuuut it is pretty much 100% percent accurate that capitalism will always, always, follow the money. And where is the money? Well, in America two decades into the 21st century, the large capitalist structures have decided that the money will be multicultural* and socially inclusive* and politically liberal*, and all those asterisks are there because it should be understood that the capitalist take on each of these concepts is heavily modified and strained through the “to the extent we can make money off this” filter, i.e., don’t expect capitalism to lead us to a multicultural American utopia, just expect it to be happy to rent-seek inclusively on the way there….
(3) ANCESTORS. Ann Leckie is interested in genealogy. Look who fell out of her family tree —
(4) IT’S NOT BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND. At Vector, Paul Kincaid tries to deduce the elusive answer to “When Was Westworld?”
There is no particular issue with the timeline of the original 1973 film, Westworld, written and directed by Michael Crichton. It is set in the then near future, 1983, and the linear action takes place entirely within the Delos theme park. But when the film became the basis for the television series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, Westworld (2016-present), time became a complex and confusing issue.
Nolan had already displayed a rather cavalier attitude towards time in his earlier television series, Person of Interest (2011-2016). The first series, first broadcast in the autumn of 2011, was set in 2012, but contained multiple flashbacks to events over the previous decade. Although these flashbacks are often dated, it can be difficult to construct a coherent timeline for the two principal characters, Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) and John Reese (Jim Caviezel). But when it came to Westworld, that tendency to play fast and loose with chronology became an often understated but defining characteristic of the series.
To date there have been three series of Westworld (it has subsequently been renewed for a fourth season)…each of which presents time in a different way, even though theoretically each is a direct sequel to the series before….
(5) GOONAN MEMORIAL SCHEDULED. There’ll be a Zoom memorial held for Kathleen Ann Goonan on March 7 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Register here. Those who wish to speak should reach out to Kathy.firstname.lastname@example.org.
(6) SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE. HBO Max released a new trailer for The Snyder Cut of Justice League which includes new footage of Jared Leto as the Joker.
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
February 14, 1988 — On this date in 1988 on BBC 2, the Red Dwarf series premiered. It was created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor and it aired on BBC Two between 1988 and 1999, and on Dave since 2009. It is a sort of a SF comedy. We think. It’s based off Dave Hollins: Space Cadet, a BBC Radio 4 series. The official website explains the convoluted cast changes over three decades far better than we could. The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an excellent rating of eighty percent. (CE)
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 14, 1906 – John Gould. Three hundred interiors for us; much else in a long career for the pulps (so called because printed on cheap wood-pulp paper) and others e.g. Redbook, The Saturday Evening Post. Advertising and fine art too. Here is a cover for The Spider (no, not that one). Here is an interior from the Jan 31 Astounding (illustrating C.D. Willard, “The Eye of Allah”). Here is a 1948 toucan. Here is a 1960 page for General Electric’s celestial-guidance system. (Died 1996) [JH]
Born February 14, 1919 – Dave Kyle.A Pictorial History of SF and The Illustrated Book of SF Ideas and Dreams – a title which is like him. Three novels, ten shorter stories. A dozen anecdotes of “The Worldcon from the Beginning” (1939, 1956-57, 1962-63, 1969, 1974, 1977, 1982, 1986-88) in the souvenir book for Noreascon Three the 47th Worldcon; chaired NYCon II the 14th, was Fan Guest of Honor at ConStellation the 41st; by 2011 had attended more Worldcons than anyone else fan or pro. Two dozen fanhistory articles in Mimosa; see here. Big Heart (our highest service award; later administered it, 2000-16; after his death, named for him). Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here. Notes by me here. (Died 2016) [JH]
Born February 14, 1925 – J.T. McIntosh. A score of novels, a hundred shorter stories. Journalist under another name. I wish I could tell you that “Men Like Mules” was about Bel Riose, or even that “200 Years to Christmas” was about Eratosthenes, but it’s not so. Nevertheless his early work warrants revival. (Died 2008) [JH]
Born February 14, 1942 — Andrew Robinson, 79. Elim Garak on Deep Space Nine. He wrote a novel based on his character, A Stitch in Time and a novella, “The Calling” which can be found in Prophecy and Change, a DS9 anthology edited by Marco Palmieri. Other genre credits include Larry Cotton in Hellraiser, appearing in The Puppet Masters as Hawthorne and playing John F. Kennedy on the The New Twilight Zone. (CE)
Born February 14, 1951 — John Vornholt, 70. I was musing on the difference between fanfic and profic (if such a word exists) when I ran across this writer. He’s written in a number of media properties with the most extensive being the Trek verse where he’s written several dozen works, but he’s penned works also in the Babylon 5, Buffyverse, Dinotopia, Earth 2, Marvel metaverse… Well you get the idea. All authorized, but really no different than fanfic on the end, are they? Other than they pay a lot better. (CE)
Born February 14, 1952 — Gwyneth Jones, 69. Interesting person that she is, let’s start with her thoughts on chestnuts she did when she was Winter Queen at Green Man. Just because I can. Now regarding her fiction, I’d strongly recommend her Bold As Love series of a Britain that went to pieces as it now certainly is, and her twenty year-old Deconstructing the Starships: Science, Fiction and Reality polemic is still worth reading. (CE)
Born February 14, 1954 – Jeff Easley, age 67. A hundred covers, two dozen interiors. Here is the Jul 84 Amazing. Here is the Dec 98 Dragon. Here is Legions of Space. Here is Empire of Imagination. [JH]
Born February 14, 1963 — Enrico Colantoni, 58. Any excuse to mention Galaxy Quest is one I’ll gladly take. He played a delightful Mathesar on that film and that was his first genre role, lucky bastard. Up next for him was A.I. Artificial Intelligence as The Murderer followed by appearing in the most excellent animated Justice League Dark as the voice of Felix Faust where his fate was very, very bad. He had an amazing role on Person of Interest as Charlie Burton / Carl Elias. Not genre, but his acting as Sgt. Gregory Parker on Flashpoint, a Canadian police drama television series is worth noting as it that excellent series. (CE)
Born February 14, 1970 — Simon Pegg, 51. Best known for playing Montgomery Scott in the new Star Trek franchise. His first foray into genre was Shaun of the Dead which he co-wrote and had an acting role in. Late gernre roles include Land of the Dead where he’s a Photo Booth Zombie, Diary of the Dead where he has a cameo as a Newsreader, and he portrays Benji Dunn in the ongoing Mission: Impossible franchise. (CE)
Born February 14, 1972 – Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, age 49. A novel (won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize) and two shorter stories for us; another novel, eight other shorter stories. “I’m always looking and hoping for the swerve [alluding to Joan Retallack].” [JH]
Born February 14, 1975 — M. Darusha Wehm, 46. New Zealand resident writer who was nominated for the Nebula Award and won the New Zealand Sir Julius Vogel Award for The Martian Job novel. They say it’s interactive fiction. You can read the standalone prequel novella, Retaking Elysium, on their website which can be found here. (CE)
Born February 14, 1991 – Roshani Chokshi, age 30. Nine novels (three NY Times Best-Sellers), half a dozen shorter stories; two poems in Strange Horizons and Uncanny. Top of her class in law school, so dropped out and wrote. Greek and Hindu myth, magic in 19th Century Paris. Has read Emma, Frankenstein, Ivanhoe, Lolita, Moby-Dick, M. Tatar’s Annotated Grimm, Complete Stories & Poems of Lewis Carroll. [JH]
During a recent appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Musk commented that he’d love to have upcoming Tesla Roadster hover “like a meter above the ground.” Musk always makes the most of his visits to Rogan’s online program and it’s usually a treasure of interesting antics and sound bites.
“Maybe it can hover like a meter above the ground, or something like that,” he explained to the popular comedian and host. “If you plummet, it’ll blow out the suspension, but you’re not gonna die.”
Clearly not completely satisfied with the Roadster’s current roster of options, Musk has previously claimed that a next-generation version might be offered with a SpaceX package with rocket-like thrusters employing pressurized air to assist in acceleration, deceleration, and handling.
American and Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed what could be the oldest known beer factory at one of the most prominent archaeological sites of ancient Egypt, a top antiquities official said on Saturday.
Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the factory was found in Abydos, an ancient burial ground located in the desert west of the Nile River, more than 280 miles south of Cairo.
He said the factory apparently dates back to the region of King Narmer, who is widely known for his unification of ancient Egypt at the beginning of the First Dynastic Period (3150BC-2613BC)….
[Thanks to John Hertz, Scott Edelman, JJ, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) LOCUS LIST’S UNEXPECTED TREND. Dave Truesdale on Facebook wonders why so few of the listed stories come from Analog,Asimov’s, and F&SF. It is rather surprising.
Over at Locus Online the February Locus Magazine Recommended Reading List for 2020 has been posted. Granting my total count of novellas, novelettes, and short stories might be off by one, it makes no difference to the statistic I am about to reveal.
Of the novellas there are Zero stories from Analog, Asimov’s, or F&SF.
Of the novelettes there are Zero stories from Analog, One story from Asimov’s, and Two stories from F&SF.
Of the short stories there are Zero from Analog, Asimov’s, or F&SF.
Out of 124 stories in three fiction length categories selected by Locus reviewers and a few other outsider recommenders, there are exactly 3 stories selected from what has been traditionally known as the Big Three SF magazines. Offer your own theories as to why this has occurred–and has been occurring with a steady downward slide for a number of years now. They don’t give their fiction away for free is one guess and only a few review copies are sent out to review sites, thus accounting for perhaps fewer number of short fiction recommenders, and although other zines posting online do charge a little bit they are in the distinct minority. So are Locus recommenders reading primarily free magazines, or is there some other reason, maybe one having to do with content? This picture isn’t hanging quite straight and I’d like to know why so miserably few short fiction recommendations coming from Locus have appeared in the pages of Analog, Asimov’s, and F&SF. I’m sure their editors and authors would like to know, too. So if you have any ideas…
(2) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Matthew Kressel and Ellen Datlow will host livestream readings with this month’s authors, Kathleen Jennings and Shveta Thakrar, on YouTube, Wednesday, February 17 at 7 p.m. Eastern. The link will is posted later.
Kathleen Jennings is a writer and illustrator from Australia. In 2020, her debut (illustrated) novella Flyaway was published by Tor.com, and her debut poetry collection Travelogues: Vignettes from Trains in Motion by Brain Jar Press. Her short stories have been published by Tor.com, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and Strange Horizons, among others. She’s currently working on a PhD about contracts in fantasy novels.
Shveta Thakrar is a fantasy writer and full-time believer in magic. Her work has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies including Enchanted Living, Uncanny Magazine, A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, and Toil & Trouble. Her debut young adult fantasy novel, Star Daughter, is out now, and her second novel will follow in 2022.
“A couple festivals have DMed me and said they’re pulling the film, and the main actor in the film also told me he wasn’t aware that it was plagiarized and he never would’ve signed on if he knew,” Ellis told Newsweek. “It’s hard to know what festivals they submitted to, since the filmmakers haven’t been in contact with me.”
Ellis said that he was not currently pursuing litigation against the filmmakers.
“I’ve also had some lawyers reach out, and I’m keeping my options open, but I’m not interested in legal action at the moment,” Ellis said. “I don’t think it would ultimately lead anywhere, but we’ll see what happens. Mostly I just want the film to be pulled. The story is personal to me and I’m protective of it!”
…Nielsen says Wonder Woman 1984 racked up huge audiences on its opening weekend, becoming the biggest feature film in Nielsen’s rankings—and one of the biggest streaming titles of any kind since Nielsen launched its streaming measurement. (THR / Live Feed)
The movie amassed nearly 2.3 billion minutes viewed among U.S. viewers, about 35 percent more than Soul. Previously, Nielsen had said Pixar’s Soul was the most-viewed on its Top 10 streaming ranking for Dec. 21-27, 2020. (Variety)…
(6) BRIEF INTERZONE UPDATE. [Item by PhilRM.] This addendum was posted today on the TTA Press – Interzone page:
UPDATE 1ST FEB: Please be assured that we are addressing the concerns expressed by some subscribers and are seeking confirmation of certain matters. We’ll update again asap. Assuring you of our best efforts at all times…
(7) WE INTERRUPT THIS WANDAVISION. An intriguing mid-season trailer has dropped for Marvel Studios’ WandaVision. John King Tarpinian says of the show, “Really well done, each episode keeps you on your toes.”
(8) BURNS OBIT. Producer and screenwriter Allan Burns died January 30. Deadline’s tribute begins with some of his genre credits:
Allan Burns, a television producer and screenwriter best known for cocreating and cowriting for the television sitcoms The Munsters, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Rhoda, died Saturday at home. He was 85….
His first venture included working in animation for Jay Ward on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Dudley Do-Right, and George of the Jungle. Among his other accomplishments in his early days was creating the Cap’n Crunch cartoon character for Quaker Oats.
Burns formed a writing partnership with Chris Hayward, and the team created The Munsters (1964) and My Mother The Car (1965). They also teamed as story editors for the classic Get Smart.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 1, 1874 – Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Two of this gifted poet’s short stories for us are available in English. He worked closely with another strange gifted man, Richard Strauss, writing the words of two fantastic Strauss operas, The Woman without a Shadow and The Egyptian Helen. More about HH here. (Died 1929) [JH]
Born February 1, 1884 – Yevgeny Zamyatin. Had he only written We it would have been enough for us – maybe; others have taken it as a springboard. Three of his shorter stories and an essay on Wells are in English; We has been Englished nine times. Z’s life was so complicated you might want to look here. (Died 1937) [JH]
Born February 1, 1908 — George Pal. Let’s see… Producer of Destination Moon (Retro Hugo at Millennium Philcon), When Worlds Collide, The War of the Worlds (which I love), Conquest of Space (anyone heard of this one?), The Time Machine, Atlantis, the Lost Continent, Tom Thumb, The Time Machine, Atlantis, the Lost Continent, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (another I love)and his last film being Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze which is not so great. Can we hold a George Pal film fest, pretty please? (Died 1980.) (CE)
Born February 1, 1936 – Paul Turner. Rooted in Los Angeles, knew and reached many. Promoted a LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Society) building fund, kept at it till the spark caught; LASFS with luckily finite improbability bought a clubhouse; few have. Served a term as Director (as it then was), later President; earned the Evans-Freehafer Award (service); thirty years later, Fan Guest of Honor at Loscon 20. Also promoted conversation. Particular friend of Bill Rotsler. My appreciation here. (Died 2019) [JH]
Born February 1, 1942 — Terry Jones. Member of Monty Python who was considered the originator of the program’s structure in which sketches flowed from one to the next without the use of punchlines. He made his directorial debut with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which he co-directed with Gilliam, and also directed Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. He also wrote an early draft of Jim Henson’s 1986 film Labyrinth, though little of that draft remains in the final version. (Died 2020.) (CE)
Born February 1, 1946 — Elisabeth Sladen. Certainly best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who, the most loved of all the Companions among fans. She was a regular cast member from 1973 to 1976, alongside the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), and reprised her role down the years, both on the series and on its spin-offs, K-9 and Company (truly awfully done including K-9 himself) and The Sarah Jane Adventures (not bad at all). It’s not her actual first SF appearance, that honor goes to her being a character called Sarah Collins in an episode of the Doomwatch series called “Say Knife, Fat Man”. The creators behind this series had created the cybermen concept for Doctor Who. (Died 2011.) (CE)
Born February 1, 1954 — Bill Mumy, 67. Well I’ll be damned. He’s had a much longer career in the genre than even I knew. His first genre roles were at age seven on Twilight Zone, two episodes in the same season (Billy Bayles In “Long Distance Call” and Anthony Fremont in “Its A Good Life”). He makes make it a trifecta appearing a few years later again as Young Pip Phillips in “In Praise of Pip”. Witches are next for him. First he plays an orphaned boy in an episode of Bewitched called “A Vision of Sugar Plums” and then it’s Custer In “Whatever Became of Baby Custer?” on I Dream of Jeannie, a show he shows he revisits a few years as Darrin the Boy in “Junior Executive”. Ahhh his most famous role is up next as Will Robinson in Lost in Space. It’s got to be thirty years since I’ve seen it but I still remember and like it quite a bit. He manages to show up next on The Munsters as Googie Miller in “Come Back Little Googie” and in Twilight Zone: The Movie In one of the bits as Tim. I saw the film but don’t remember him. He’s got a bunch of DC Comics roles as well — Young General Fleming in Captain America, Roger Braintree on The Flash series and Tommy Puck on Superboy. Ahhh Lennier. One of the most fascinating and annoying characters in all of the Babylon 5 Universe. Enough said. I hadn’t realized it but he showed up on Deep Space Nine as Kellin in the “The Siege of AR-558” episode. Lastly, and before our gracious Host starts grinding his teeth at the length of this Birthday entry, I see he’s got a cameo as Dr. Z. Smith in the new Lost in Space series. (CE)
Born February 1, 1962 – Maryrose Wood, age 59. Ten books for us, two of them with the Duchess of Northumberland (I am not making this up). Was in the original cast of Merrily We Roll Along (the musical, not the Kaufman & Hart play – nor was it with that Prince; another one). Three Richard Rodgers Awards. [JH]
Born February 1, 1965 — Sherilyn Fenn, 56. Best known for playing as Audrey Horne on Twin Peaks. Her first genre work was in The Wraith as Keri Johnson followed by being Suzi in Zombie High (also known charmingly not as The School That Ate My Brain). Her latest work is Etta in The Magicians series. (CE)
Born February 1, 1965 — Brandon Lee. Lee started his career with a supporting role in Kung Fu: The Movie, but is obviously known for his breakthrough and unfortunate fatal acting role as Eric Draven in The Crow, based on James O’Barr’s series. Y’ll know what happened to him so I’ll not go into that here. (Died 1993.) (CE)
Born February 1, 1967 – Meg Cabot, age 54. (Rhymes with “habit”.) Two dozen novels for us, half a dozen shorter stories; eighty books all told. Princess Diaries became two Disney films. Many awards, NY Times top best-sellers, 25 million copies of her books in print worldwide. Married on April Fool’s Day, possibly to spoof her husband, anyway they’re still at it. Works with charities e.g. Make-a-Wish Fdn, United Nations Refugee Agency, Reading is Fundamental, NY Public Libraries. Blogs abut her cats. [JH]
Born February 1, 1972 – Cristina Jurado, age 49. Editor and translator, SuperSonic. A dozen short stories, half available in English; so are anthologies Spanish Women of Wonder (not its Spanish title) and The Apex Book of World SF vol. 5. “Fandom in Spain” for the Worldcon 75 Souvenir Book, thanks Jukka, Curtis, Charlotte, Vesa. Interviewed (in English) in Three Crows. [JH]
A tiny new species of chameleon has been discovered, and it seems to be the smallest reptile in the world. Known as Brookesia nana, or the nano-chameleon, the petite species can perch on a fingertip and may have the smallest adult males of any vertebrate….
Daniel P. Dern notes, “I’m sure that, at least with this group, I’m not the only person who instantly thought of the classic Bob & Ray ‘The Komodo Dragon’ bit.”
Abstract: Long before photocopiers and on-line blogs became the tools of fandom, science-fiction fans mastered the art of mimeography and other methods of amateur publishing. Since the late 19th century, amateur printers had grouped together in so-called “amateur press associations” (or “apas”) to distribute their home-made magazines to each other in bundles. The “apa” was a key feature of science fiction fandom by the 1940s. By the 1950s, critics were wondering whether the back-and-forth exchanges which went on inside “apas”, as members used their own magazines to respond to others, was producing unprecedented levels of infighting and souring the atmosphere in science fiction fandom. In the early 1960s, a move to block an accused pedophile from attending the World Science Fiction Convention split science fiction fandom into warring factions, and the heated discursive environment of the amateur press association was seen as one cause of this atmosphere of intense polemic. Drawing on my new research into mimeography, pre-media fandoms and the amateur press association, I will show how systems for the distribution and circulation of fanzines shaped particular climates of dissension.
A Maine company that’s developing a rocket to propel small satellites into space passed its first major test on Sunday.
Brunswick-based bluShift Aerospace launched a 20-foot (6-meter) prototype rocket, hitting an altitude of a little more than 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) in a first run designed to test the rocket’s propulsion and control systems.
It carried a science project by Falmouth High School students that will measure flight metrics such as barometric pressure, a special alloy that’s being tested by a New Hampshire company — and a Dutch dessert called stroopwafel, in an homage to its Amsterdam-based parent company. Organizers of the launch said the items were included to demonstrate the inclusion of a small payload.
The company, which launched from the northern Maine town of Limestone, the site of the former Loring Air Force Base, is one of dozens racing to find affordable ways to launch so-called nano satellites. Some of them, called Cube-Sats, can be as small as 10 centimeters by 10 centimeters….
(14) COLORING INSIDE THE LINES. The Schickele.com Site Map is the best ever says Daniel Dern. It helps that it’s an actual map. The site promotes the performer known as PDQ Bach. And that’s not all he’s known for.
Turns out the entire universe is a product of the number 42, specifically 42 times the collection of lm/2t, such that l, m and t are the Planck Units. In a newly published paper, Measurement Quantization Describes the Physical Constants, both the constants and laws of nature are resolved from a simple geometry between two frames of reference, the non-discrete Target Frame of the universe and the discrete Measurement Frame of the observer. Its only and primary connection to our physical reality is a scalar, 42. Forty-two is what defines our universe from say any other version of our universe. So, while Douglas Adams may have just been picking numbers out of the sky when writing Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it turns out he picked the right number, the one that defines … well … everything.
In addition to presenting new descriptions for most of the physical constants (descriptions that don’t reference other physical constants), the paper is also noted for presenting a classical unification of gravity and electromagnetism.
On Friday, missing alerts for the Texas Department of Public Safety included the murderous doll, Chucky, and his son, Glen Ray. Glen is described as having a blue shirt and black collar while Chucky is said to be wearing “blue denim overalls with multi-colored striped long sleeve shirt” and “wielding a huge kitchen knife.”
The local NBC affiliate learned that this was actually the result of a test gone wrong. The Department of Public Safety was testing out its server when it accidentally made these faux alerts public.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Hunger Games Sequels Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George takes on the three sequels to The Hunger Games, noting †he capitol is guarded by “really mean Power Rangers” and the plot of the third movie can be summarized as “The rebels compensate for Katniss’s poor acting abilities.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, David Doering, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, PhilRM, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John Hertz, Danny Sichel, Daniel Dern, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
(1) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB virtual reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Lauren Beukes and Usman T. Malik on Wednesday, January 20 at 7 p.m. Eastern. Check back at their website or social media to get the link when it drops.
Lauren Beukes is a South African novelist, ex-journalist and sometime documentary maker who has written five novels, a pop history, a short story collection and New York Times best-selling comics. Her novel Zoo City won the Arthur C Clarke Award, The Shining Girls is soon to be a tv show for Apple with Elisabeth Moss, and won the University of Johannesburg Prize and the Strands Critics Choice Award among others. Her new book Afterland, about a world (almost) without men, is currently in development. She lives in Cape Town with her daughter.
Usman T. Malik
Usman T. Malik is a Pakistani-American writer and doctor. His fiction has been reprinted in several year’s best anthologies, including The Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy series, and has won the Bram Stoker Award and the British Fantasy Award. Usman’s debut collection, Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan, will be out in early 2021.
(2) COULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER. In search of prospects to nominate for the video game Hugo, Camestros Felapton explores another game he hopes will meet his criteria of “look[ing] like they might be interesting/notable from the perspective of science fiction & fantasy as a broad genre” — “Review: Spiritfarer (Nintendo Switch)”.
…However, the game I will nominate in this category isn’t Hades but a game set in a quite different afterlife: Spiritfarer. The two games couldn’t be more different and yet both borrow Charon the Ferryman and Hades as characters from Greek mythology and both use (different) genres of game play to lead you to interact with a series of characters from whom you learn about their lives (and deaths) and your own characters back story. Spiritfarer has fewer murderous, laser firing crystal things though.
The genre of gameplay is resource management and exploration. You have a ship with a small number of passengers and you sail between islands collecting resources and improving your ship. It’s all presented as 2D animation largely moving horizontally.
…Alternately called cosmic horror or Lovecraftian horror, this brand of story is focused on unknowable and ancient terrors. While the genre’s most iconic monster, Cthulhu, slumbers in a lost underwater city, cosmic horror just as often directly lives up to its name and comes from the cold of space or is lurking in isolated areas like Antarctica. The genre has few real heroes, mostly focusing on people who are already deeply flawed or struggling before they confront these horrors. While they may be killed, the protagonists are just as likely to be rendered insane or somehow fundamentally transformed into something as equally unknowable and terrible as the unspeakable creatures they have encountered.
But how did cosmic horror seep into the mainstream of movies, TV, and games? Let’s trace that history from D&D to True Detective to Nicolas Cage and beyond…
Speaking of hell, a study in the August 3 issue of the journal CurrentBiology revealed that the vast majority of members of a species of beetle, Regimbartia attenuata, perform a literally death-defying feat after being swallowed by various species of frogs. The beetle apparently swims its little heart out till it pops out of the frog’s derriere. Because, as another axiom has it, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
To find out whether the insect’s passage was active or passive, researchers immobilized some beetles by coating them with wax before going into the mouth of hell, or rather, frog. None of these beetles survived. To paraphrase science-fiction legend Harlan Ellison (who definitely would have come up with this experimental protocol if he’d lived long enough): they really don’t want to open their mouths, and they must scream.
…The Milky Way has been around for billions of years. In that time, life has not only had had plenty of time to evolve to an advanced level and achieve heights of technology even our wildest sci-fi dreams couldn’t fathom, but also to destroy itself.
“We found [self-annihilation of complex life] to be the most influential parameter determining the quantity and age of galactic intelligent life,” the physicists said in a study recently published in Astrophysics of Galaxies.
There were three types of limitations for the existence of aliens that the team studied. They considered the possibilities of abiogenesis, how long it might have taken (or be taking) for an intelligent civilization to evolve, and chances of such a civilization crushing itself. Abiogenesis is the idea of life spawning from things that are definitely not alive.
…Loeb says there are two big details that suggest Oumuamua wasn’t just a comet, but rather a piece of alien technology. The first detail is the object’s dimensions, as it was determined to be “five to 10 times longer than it was wide.” Loeb argues the cigar-like shape isn’t typical for a natural space object.
But the theoretical physicist says the biggest detail that supports his theory is Oumuamua’s movement.
“The excess push away from the sun, that was the thing that broke the camel’s back,” he said.
Loeb explains that the sun’s gravitational force would cause a natural object to move faster as it approaches, and eventually push the object back, causing it to move slower as it moves away. Loeb points out that this didn’t occur with Oumuamua, which accelerated “slightly, but to a highly statistically significant extent” as it moved further and further away.
“If we are not alone, are we the smartest kids on the block?” Loeb asked. “If there was a species that eliminated itself through war or changing the climate, we can get our act together and behave better. Instead, we are wasting a lot of resources on Earth fighting each other and other negative things that are a big waste.”
(7) HEADLONG RETREAT. R.S. Benedict has posted a new episode of the Rite Gud podcast.”I talk to writer/artist Sloane Leong about SFF’s retreat into childhood nostalgia, and the beauty of mature fiction.” Listen here.
As the world looks grimmer and grimmer, Millennials and Gen Xers retreat deeper and deeper into childhood nostalgia. Adults dominate fandoms meant for children, like Steven Universe, Young Adult fiction, and My Little Pony. Within SFF, many writers, readers and editors have begun to treat all media as though it were meant for children: It must be didactic and escapist and safe. But there are still some of us who want art to treat us like adults.
In this episode, writer and artist Sloane Leong joins us to talk about the power of embracing your inner grownup.
(8) ROBERTS STILL ALIVE. People sent links to articles reporting the actress death, however, actress Tanya Roberts is still alive at this writing according to TMZ.
(9) JAEL OBIT. Artist Jael died November 17 reports Locus Online — Jael (1937-2020). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says Jael did covers for Baen and DAW, as well as magazines. Jael’s work received eight Chesley Award nominations between 1995 and 2002.
She also appeared in the Doctor Who episode Planet Of Fire, starring Peter Davison as the fifth Doctor.
Her agent, Thomas Bowington, said: “She really was Hammer’s number one leading lady and the technicolour queen of Hammer.
…Shelley was also known for TV roles in series including The Saint, The Avengers, The Borgias, Blake’s 7 and Crown Court, and later played Hester Samuels in EastEnders.
Robert J. Sawyer praised Shelley’s performance in Quatermass and the Pit (1967) on Facebook in which she”played a completely professional scientist, paleontologist Barbara Judd, the female lead, in one of the best science-fiction films ever made.”He also posted a great quote from Shelly:
“I adored science fiction. When I was a very little girl my father used to have all these science fiction magazines and we used to go through them together. My mind had been opened up to science fiction by my father so when I got these scripts it wasn’t `What’s this rubbish?’ It was ‘that’s interesting.'”
(11) MEMORY LANE.
1971 — Fifty years ago, Larry Niven’s Ringworld would win the Hugo for Best Novel at Noreascon I over Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero, Robert Silverberg’s Tower of Glass, Wilson Tucker‘s The Year of the Quiet Sun and Hal Clement’s Star Light. It would also win the Locus, Nebula and Ditmar Awards, and Locus would later include it on its list of All-Time Best SF Novels before 1990. It would spawn three sequel novels and a prequel series as well which was co-written with Edward M. Lerner. One film and three series have been announced down the decades but none to date have been produced.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born January 4, 1882 – P.J. Monahan. Newspaper cartoonist, illustrator in the “pulp” days (when our and other magazines were printed on cheap pulp paper). Thirty covers, twenty interiors. Here is Semi Dual, the Occult Detector. Here is Thuvia. Here is the 26 Jun 20 All-Story Weekly – weekly! How’d you like to be the editor of that? To show PJM’s range, here is the 1 Sep 12 Leslie’s, and here is a portrait of Pope Pius X. (Died 1931) [JH]
Born January 4, 1882 – Violet Van der Elst. Twoscore short stories, half a dozen collections, for us. Starting as a scullery maid, she developed cosmetics including the first brushless shaving cream – don’t say we’ve made no progress – and grew rich; fought against the death penalty, threw her money and her mind into it, lost both, barely lived to see it abolished. (Died 1966) [JH]
Born January 4, 1890 — Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. Creator of the modern comic book by publishing original material in the early Thirties instead of reprints of newspaper comic strips. Some years later, he founded Wheeler-Nicholson’s National Allied Publications which would eventually become DC Comics. (Died 1965.) (CE)
Born January 4, 1904 – Dale Ulrey. Four covers, a dozen interiors. Also a comic-strip artist, notably Apple Mary, famous during the Depression, still running today as Mary Worth. Here is her Wizard of Oz. Here is an interior for Jaglon and the Tiger Fairies. (Died 1989) [JH]
Born January 4, 1927 — Barbara Rush, 94. She won a Golden Globe Award as the most promising female newcomer for being Ellen Fields in It Came From Outer Space. She portrayed Nora Clavicle in Batman, and was found in other genre programs such as the revival version of Outer Limits, Night Gallery, The Bionic Woman and The Twilight Zone. (CE)
Born January 4, 1930 – Ruth Kyle. Founding member of the Lunarians (New York club, famous in song and story). Hard-working Secretary of NYCon II the 14th Worldcon; married its chairman Dave Kyle; his tale of their honeymoon flight to Loncon I the 15th is here. Good cook, gracious hostess. Part of an adventure I had with Dave, see here (bottom of three). (Died 2011) [JH]
Born January 4, 1933 – Phyllis Naylor, age 88. A dozen novels for us; a hundred thirty all told; some 2,000 articles. Newbery Medal. Sequoyah Children’s Book Award. Mark Twain Readers Award. William Allen White Children’s Book Award. Kerlan Award. “What spare time? If I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing.” [JH]
Born January 4, 1946 — Ramsey Campbell, 75. My favorite novel by him is without doubt The Darkest Part of the Woods which has a quietly building horror to it. I know he’s better known for his sprawling (pun full intended) Cthulhu mythology writings but I never got into those preferring his other novels such as his Solomon Kane movie novelization which is quite superb. (CE)
Born January 4, 1958 — Matt Frewer, 63. His greatest role has to be as Max Headroom on the short-lived series of the same name. Amazingly I think it still stands thirty-five years later as SF well crafted. Just a taste of his later series SF appearances include playing Jim Taggart, scientist and dog catcher on Eureka, Pestilence in Supernatural, Dr. Kirschner in 12 Monkeys and Carnage in Altered Carbon. His film genre appearance list is just as impressive but I’ll single out Supergirl, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Stand, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (oh do guess where he is in it) and lastly Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, a series of films that I really like. (CE)
Born January 4, 1960 — Michael Stipe, 61. Lead singer of R.E.M. which has done a few songs that I could argue are genre adjacent such as “Losing My Religion”. But no, I’ve got him here for being involved in a delightful project called Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films. Lots of great songs given interesting new recordings. His contribution was “Little April Shower” from Bambi which he covered along with Natalie Merchant, Michael Stipe, Mark Bingham and The Roches. Fun stuff indeed! (CE)
Born January 4, 1981 – Sarah Crossan, age 40. Two books for us, seven others. Has read four each by Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf, two by George Eliot. [JH]
Born January 4, 1985 — Lenora Crichlow, 36. She played Cheen on “Gridlock”, a Tenth Doctor story. She also played Annie Sawyer on the BBC version of Being Human from 2009 to 2012, and she appeared as Victoria Skillane in the “White Bear” episode of Black Mirror. (CE)
Born January 4, 1985 – Lorenz Hideyoshi Ruwwe, age 36. A dozen covers. Here is Desert Stars. Here is The Sentinel. Here is Omni. Here is his page at ArtStation. [JH]
(13) THE SIGN OF THE Z. In the Washington Post, Michael Sragow notes the centennial of THE MARK OF ZORRO, the first Zorro movie. He notes that both Batman creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger and Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster say that Zorro’s twin identity as the masked crimefighter and the foppish Don Diego as a precursor to Batman and Bruce Wayne and Superman and Clark Kent. In addition, Sragow sees Zorro’s secret lair as a precursor of the Batcave and Lolita Pulido’s ditching Don Diego for Zorro as Lois Lane favoring Superman over Clark Kent. “On Zorro’s 100th birthday, the father of swashbucklers and superhero movies is still relevant”
…Like Tennyson’s Sir Galahad, Zorro has the strength of 10 because his heart is pure. He’s also irreverent and mischievous. His sparkle exudes hipness: He embraces the New World’s egalitarian ethos while his enemies defend the feudal past.
Zorro lifted spirits in the 1920s. In the 2020s, his ebullience can generate ecstatic highs.
During Fairbanks’s previous run as the parody hero of contemporary action comedies like “His Picture in the Papers,” fans came to think of him as “Doug,” a tribute to his offhand elegance — like Fred Astaire’s, a triumph of talent and willpower. Doug transports this knockabout grace into “The Mark of Zorro.” With his light heart and “can-do” demeanor — qualities the world embraced as quintessentially American — Zorro soon dominated action-film iconography. Cinema would never be the same.
(14) ZOOMIN’ DOWN THE ROAD. “Movin’ Right Along With Kermit The Frog and Fozzie Bear” on YouTube has Kermit and Fozzie welcoming the new year with dreams of a road trip and showing they know how to use Zoom.
Canada! Perhaps best known to fans of British soap operas, for whom it serves as that mysterious land to the west to which characters vanish after their purpose on the show has been served. Of course, all that is needed to learn far more about Canada than you would ever need or want to know is to get trapped in a conversation with a Canadian, uninvited exposition concerning their homeland being as natural to the average Canadian as it is any given inhabitant of a fictional utopia confronted by a woken sleeper from the pre-utopian past.
One might reasonably expect that most SF touching on Canada was written by Canadians and the Canadian-adjacent. Perhaps it is. Quite a lot of it is not. Here are five examples of Canada and Canadians in science fiction, as seen by foreign eyes.
First on the list is Bob Shaw, who’s challenging because he lived and worked in Canada for a period.
(16) HOPE HE GETS HIS MD. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The first baby of 2021 in one Alabama town has a possibly-unique name, Anakyn Gene Strange. Yeah, they changed the spelling of the first name a bit, but wouldn’t it be lovely if the young lad went into medicine. Think of it — Dr. Anakyn Strange. “‘The Force is Strong’ with Florence’s first baby in 2021”
Star Wars fans immediately know the reference when hearing the name Anakyn.
While it may not be spelled the same as it was in the series, Hope and Dusty Strange used the name on Florence’s first birth of 2021. Anakyn Gene Strange was born at 1:04 a.m. on January 1 at North Alabama Medical Center.
“There actually was a feeling of relief because 2020 was a horrible and challenging year,” she said. “It was the most pure way to start out the year.”…
(17) RAVENCON ANTHOLOGY KICKSTARTER. Michael D. Pederson, RavenCon 2022 chair, explains:
Being an April convention, we were forced to announce this year’s  cancellation three weeks before the convention. Needless to say, after having spent 11 months buying supplies and paying fees for the con we didn’t have much (read: any) capital left after refunding the vendors. And we still needed to refund about a third of our attendees that wanted money. And now that we’ve had to cancel for 2021 as well, we’re really stuck for funds. So, we created an anthology, with story donations coming from many of our regular programming guests as well as a few of my old Nth Degree contributors. We’re using the anthology to raise funds through Kickstarter. We funded the entire project on our first day and hit our first stretch goal a week later. We’re working on a second stretch goal and expect to announce a third stretch goal later this week.
Who would have thought that “cologne” is such a complicated word to spell correctly? Or it just might be that many people really are enjoying the smell of large intestine…
(19) LONG PLAYING. And long ago. This interesting discovery is available at Archive.org – “A Child’s Introduction To Outer Space: Jim Timmens” (1959) – with songs performed by The Satellite Singers, and dramatic readings, and a credit on the album cover to Scientific Advisor Willy Ley who won one of the first Hugos in 1953.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Wonder Woman 1984 Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says that the reasons why Steve Trevor appears in Wonder Woman 1984 have really creepy implications and that it’s highly unlikely that Wonder Woman could make an escape from the Smithsonian by stealing a fully fueled airplane from the Air and Space Museum.
[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Jeff Smith, Darrah Chavey, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
Lin Qi, the chairman and CEO of Yoozoo Group who was hospitalized after having been poisoned on Dec. 16, has died. The Chinese company confirmed that Lin died on Christmas Day. He was 39.
On Wednesday evening in China, the Shanghai Public Security Bureau had announced that Lin was receiving treatment after being poisoned and that a Yoozoo coworker of Lin’s, surnamed Xu, had been apprehended amid an investigation.
The statement read: “At 5 p.m. on Dec. 17, 2020, the police received a call from a hospital regarding a patient surnamed Lin. During the patient’s treatment, the hospital said it had determined that the patient had been poisoned. Following the call, the police began an investigation. According to investigations on site and further interviews, the police found that a suspect surnamed Xu, who is a coworker of the victim Lin, was the most likely the perpetrator. The suspect Xu has been arrested and investigations continue.”
The Hollywood Reporterreported that local media have said a dispute among the Chinese entertainment company’s executive ranks preceded the assault on Lin, which was allegedly carried out via a cup of poisoned pu-erh tea.
The geniuses at Pixar had a problem, and this time, they would need to look beyond the walls of their esteemed studio for help.
The movie in question was “Soul,” a tuneful jazz tale that somehow didn’t quite swing. Rather ironically, the movie’s main character was lacking in texture and truth and, well, any depth of soul. What to do about a lead role that, in the words of Pixar chief and “Soul” director Pete Docter, “was kind of an empty shell”?The call went out to Kemp Powers, a rising playwright and “Star Trek: Discovery” TV writer who headed to Pixar’s Bay Area headquarters with much more than notes. He had a lifetime of relevant insights.
The character in question was Joe Gardner, Pixar’s first leading Black character and the heart of “Soul,” which will be released on Disney Plus on Christmas Day after bypassing domestic theaters because of the pandemic. Powers will compete against himself that day when the film adaptation of his play “One Night in Miami,” directed by Regina King, will land in theaters (ahead of its Jan. 15 release on Amazon Prime)….… And Daveed Diggs, who voices Joe’s trash-talking rival Paul, says Powers brought a humanity and a fearlessness to the tale. “There’s a strength and level of conviction in the storytelling,” says Diggs, no easy task because with its supernatural spaces and existential themes, “Soul” is “a weird movie.”
(3) CONTINUE CELEBRATING. Filer Cora Buhlert has assembled “A Holiday Story Bonanza” in her newly-released book A Christmas Collection. Full details and options to purchase in various formats at the link.
Romance, cozy fantasy, murder mysteries, pulp thrillers, science fiction, horror and humor – we have all that and more.
Watch young people find love in the pre-holiday shopping rush at Hickory Ridge Mall, at a Christmas tree lot, on the parking lot of a shuttered outlet mall and at the one bar in town that’s open on Christmas Eve.
Experience Christmas in Hallowind Cove, the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town, where strange things keep happening.
Watch as Santa’s various helpers unite to depose him.
Follow Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team as they investigate the death of a robber dressed as Santa Claus as well as a wave of thefts at a Christmas market.
Meet Richard Blakemore, hardworking pulp author by day and the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer by night, as he fights to save an orphanage from demolition in Depression era New York City.
Watch Alfred and Bertha, an ordinary married couple, as they decorate the Christmas tree and live their marvellous twenty-first century life.
Experience Christmas on the space colony of Iago Prime as well as after the end of the world.
Enjoy thirteen novellas, novelettes and short stories in six genres. This is a collection of 118000 words or approx. 390 print pages.
(4) AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME. [Item by Francis Hamit.] The CASE Act, the legislation creating a Copyright Small Claims Court, is becoming law as a part of that massive stimulus bill passed by Congress. I am taking a victory lap on this one. You may recall I was quite active in the early part of this century on Copyright matters, including prosecuting two lawsuits for infringements of magazine articles by database firms. I spent thousands of dollars for filing and legal fees over four years and came out ahead, but dropped four other suits because they would cost more than the maximum possible cash reward. There had to be a better way, I thought, and came up with the idea of a Copyright Small Claims Court, which was published in the September/October 2006 issue of The Columbia Journalism Review. [File 770 previously mentioned Hamit’s advocacy of the idea in 2011: “A Future for Small Copyright Claims?”] So it is done, and small individual creators have a path to legal recourse that wasn’t there before. Very gratifying. Those who would like to thank me can buy one of my books or stories on Amazon,com (Reviews are appreciated too). I have a stage play at Stageplays,com which I’m trying to get produced. I may add others soon. Donations are accepted on Paypal at email@example.com. I’m not a crusader, just a businessman. Support allows me to create new work.
(5) EYES ON THE PRIZE. At the risk of turning into a platform that mainly steers its audience to Camestros Felapton (oops, too late!), there are some good things there this weekend:
(6) WWDC. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins, who explains the reason the film is set in Washington in the 1980s is because it reflects Jenkins’s experiences. For example, there are sequences at the Hirshhorn Museum because Jenkins was an art student there in 1987. “How Patty Jenkins turned ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ into a personal Washington story”.
“First of all, where would Diana go?” Jenkins says of the Amazonian warrior from the isle paradise of Themyscira, who headed to World War I’s European theater in “Wonder Woman.” “She would go to the heart and center of where power is.”
Once Jenkins and co-writer Geoff Johns were settled on setting, the director plunged deep into her own memories of Washington, where she often visited before moving to the area as a teenager in 1987, staying for a bit over a year.
“The style of D.C. is so wonderful” for Wonder Woman, says Jenkins, who shot numerous scenes on the Mall, in Georgetown and in Northern Virginia. “Having her live at the Watergate, the modernity of it, cut against the Reflecting Pool and the Hirshhorn — it just felt elegant and beautiful and intellectual and pop at the same time.”
(7) NPR’S BOOKS OF THE YEAR. [Item by Contrarius.] NPR’s Best Books Of 2020 is out. The sff included on the list are mostly the usual suspects for this year. Sadly, The Vanished Birds isn’t on it. Interestingly, the new translation of Beowulf is.
Evans also was known as Sir Thorgeirr in the Society for Creative Anachronism.
(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
December 26, 1954 — On this day in 1954, the very last episode of The Shadow radio serial aired. This was the program’s 665th installment and its twenty-first season. The serial first appeared on the air on Sept 26, 1937 with Orson Welles as Lamont Cranston and The Shadow and Agnes Moorehead as Margo Lane. It would end its run with Bret Morrison, who took over the lead roles from season twelve onward, and Gertrude Warner, who was Margo Lane from season thirteen onward. The final episode was “Murder by the Sea” which unfortunately is lost to us as the tape was not kept.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 26, 1842 – Laura Gonzenbach. German-Swiss of Sicily. Collected Sicilian fairy tales; her two volumes among few major collections by a woman. Beautiful Angiola (2004) has the title story and sixty more in English. (Died 1878) [JH]
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.) (CE)
Born December 26, 1938 – John Kahionhes Fadden, age 82. (Kahionhes “Long River” is his Mohawk name; he’s Turtle, his mother’s clan.) Maintains the Six Nations Indian Museum (i.e. the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy; see e.g. the 2010 U.S. dollar coin; Haudenosaunee on it is “People of the Long House”, the Iroquois) started by his parents. Four covers for us; here is Native American Animal Stories. More here. [JH]
Born December 26, 1942 – Catherine Coulter, age 78. Six novels, four shorter stories for us; ninety books all told, many NY Times Best-Sellers. Historical romances (“I love in particular Georgette Heyer, a British author who actually invented the Regency Romance – an extraordinary talent”), suspense thrillers (“at least six times as many loose ends that I have to keep searching out and tying up, and they always seem to multiply”). Advice, “READ TO YOUR CHILDREN.” [JH]
Born December 26, 1951 – Priscilla Olson, F.N., age 69. Chaired Boskone 29, 38, 42, 48; introduced Featured Filker. Ran Programming at Noreascon 4 the 62nd Worldcon. Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service). Introductions & essays in NESFA Press books An Ornament to His Profession, Cybele, Rings (Charles Harness); Ingathering (Zenna Henderson); Far From This Earth, From Other Shores (Chad Oliver); Once More With Footnotes (Sir Terry Pratchett); also “…And What We Think It Means”, ConJose Souvenir Book (60th Worldcon). Fan Guest of Honor at Minicon 34, Windycon 33. [JH]
Born December 26, 1953 — T. Jefferson Parker, 67. Author of the rather excellent Charlie Hood mystery series which ISFDB claims is paranormal. Huh. He’s one of the very few writers to win three Edgars. (CE)
Born December 26, 1953 — Clayton Emery, 67. Somewhere there’s a bookstore that consists of nothing but the franchise novel and collections that exist within a given franchise. No original fiction what-so-ever. This author has novels in the Forgotten Realms, Shadow World, The Burning Goddess, City of Assassins,The Secret World of Alex Mack, Magic: The Gathering and Runesworld franchises, plus several genre works including surprisingly Tales of Robin Hood on Baen Books. Must not be your granddaddy’s Hood. (CE)
Born December 26, 1960 — Temuera Morrison, 60. Ahhhh clones. In Attack of the Clones, he plays Jango Fett and a whole bunch of his clone troopers, and in Revenge of the Sith, he came back in the guise of Commander Cody. He goes on to play him in the second season of The Mandalorian. Crossing over, he plays Arthur Curry’s father Thomas in Aquaman. (CE)
Born December 26, 1961 — Tahnee Welch, 59. Yes, the daughter of that actress. She’s in both Cocoon films as well in Sleeping Beauty. Black Light and Johnny 2.0 which she’s in might qualify as genre in the way some horror does. She stopped acting twenty years ago. (CE)
Born December 26, 1968 – Julia Elliott, Ph.D., age 52. Jaffe Foundation award. Amazon Shared-Worlds Residency. A novel (“loopy lyricism … whacked out paranoia … joyous farce”, NY Times Book Review) and a dozen shorter stories. Teaches at Univ. S. Carolina (Columbia). [JH]
Born December 26, 1970 — Danielle Cormack, 50. If it’s fantasy and it was produced in New Zealand, she might have been in it. She was in Xena and Hercules as Ephiny on recurring role, Hercules again as Lady Marie DeValle,in Jack of All Trades, one of Kage Baker’s favorite series because, well, Bruce Campbell was the lead. She was Raina in a recurring role, and Samsara on Xena in another one-off and Margaret Sparrow in Perfect Creature, an alternate universe horror film. (CE)
Born December 26, 1983 – Nicholas Smith, age 37. Thirty novels, half a dozen shorter stories. Ironman tri-athlete. NY Times and USA Today Best-Seller. Has read Custer Died for Your Sins and The Hobbit. “I only leave positive reviews…. If I don’t like a book [and] don’t finish it … I don’t trash it because who knows what I missed.” [JH]
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Close to Home shows how Santa anticipated the current surveillance society.
(13) REVISITING LEMURIA. A news story I couldn’t link here because it’s member-locked turned out not to be all that new – except to me, and perhaps you, too. Here are three updates that appeared between 2015-2018.
Erin Ehmke on hibernation in the fat-tailed dwarf lemur:
It could be an internal genetic trigger for hibernation in the fat-tailed dwarf lemur. Since we share genetic code with the federal dwarf lemur, [the medical community is interested in understanding if] we have that same intrinsic trigger that could be tapped into for long term coma patients to prevent the cell breakdown – deep space travel, could we somehow trigger hibernation in astronauts to help get to deep space travel.
… Those lemurs could hold the key to faster recovery times from injuries and even deep space travel because of hundreds of species of primates, the fat-tailed dwarf lemur is the closest genetic cousin to humans that can hibernate.
“That suspended animation doesn’t occur in primates very often,” explained Duke Lemur Center veterinarian Bobby Schopler. “These are relatives of ours that do this, and it’s a fascinating aspect.”
Scientists have been studying the primates in their natural habitat for 48 years at the Duke Lemur Center. Duke researchers want to find out how some of the lemurs can regulate body temperature, store massive amounts of energy and sleep for 7 months at a time.
… Interest in suspended animation, the ability to set biological processes on hold, peaked in the 1950s as Nasa poured money into biological research. The hope was that sleeping your way to the stars would mean spacecraft could carry far less food, water and oxygen, making long-haul flights to distant planets more practical. It would also save astronauts from years of deep-space boredom.
Nasa’s interest died at the end of the space race, but Mr Vyazovskiy and his team of researchers at the University of Oxford are now exploring ways to put astronauts into stasis, using knowledge gained from mammals, including bears and dwarf lemurs.
(14) PRESERVED IN PUMICE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Archeologists have discovered a 2000-year-old street food stall in Pompeii, complete with illustrations of the food (or rather the animals that provide the food) on offer. I’m amazed how modern the whole thing looks. I can imagine this stall setting up shop at our annual autumn fair without raising any eyebrows: “Pompeii: Ancient snack stall uncovered by archaeologists” at CNN.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Contrarius, Francis Hamit, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Steven H Silver, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Wright.]
…After some back and forth—and plenty of discussion with the editor acting as mediator—we determined that by elegant, they likely meant more stylized human forms in more sophisticated poses, as well as a textural or brushy quality to the art (as there had been on the Parable books), that lent an air of being hand-drawn rather than machine-made. As for dynamic, we soon understood that the symmetry of the earliest comps was what the agent and estate were reacting against. By simply breaking the vertical axis and giving each cover a certain degree of asymmetry—even as the figures revolved around a central “moon” shape that remained static—they felt much more alive. The designer came back with revisions and, in relatively quick succession, Wild Seed and Mind of My Mind had approved covers…
The origins of this piece lie in an annoyed Twitter thread I posted, in response to a tweet (possibly joking, I don’t know) to the effect of “movies shouldn’t have sex scenes in them, we’re past that now”.
The origins of my annoyance go back a lot further.
I’ve been writing explicit sex pretty much since I began writing. Like many of us, I got my start in fanfiction, and while fanfiction’s reputation for being heavily smut-focused isn’t entirely deserved, it isn’t entirely undeserved, either. Which is rather the point, because given that I started out writing a lot of explicit sex, I learned quite early just how much story-work one can do with a well-written sex scene. Especially a very explicit one, without a judicious fade-to-black or Vaseline on the camera lens.
I want to be clear about something: I am not claiming ultimate authority over what a “good” sex scene consists of. Sex scenes, like sex itself, are highly subjective and personal, and different people will find that different things resonate.
That said, my opinion is that a good sex scene is usually sexy, and one of the best ways to be sexy is to go deep into not only the physical descriptions of what’s happening, but also what’s going through these characters’ heads as they’re doing the sex.
Which is one of the places where we get into the work explicit sex can do in a story, and in a way really no other kind of scene can manage in precisely this way….
…Marketing is easy. Effective marketing that actually sells books, however, is hard. My son works for Facebook, so he helped me with an advertising campaign on the platform. We had a $250 budget for one of my collections, The Experience Arcade and Other Stories. One of the ads reached 1,900 readers. 103 people clicked on it. We did sell books, but not enough to pay back our investment. We found the same pattern to be true on the other books we promoted on Facebook….
… There are in fact enough award systems to warrant the effort of analysis to help decide which awards are worth paying attention to. Of course, dichotomous and divisive “success or failure” judgments are less useful than comparing how they’re organized and speculating about what might contribute to a robust and respected award. Examining the growing pains of recently created awards and thinking about why several smaller awards have managed to establish long-term relevance can also be helpful….
(5) SFRA. The Fall 2020 issue of the Science Fiction Research Association’s SFRA Review is available to download. Many articles and reviews, including an update from Rachel Cordasco about SF in Translation.
Attacks from floating pirate states and hackers on soldiers with neural implants are just two scenarios dreamed up by a “Red Team” of 10 leading science fiction writers tasked with helping the French army anticipate future threats to national security.
“Astonish us, shake us up, take us out of our habits and comfort zone,” Florence Parly, the French defence minister, told the writers at a Defence Innovation Forum this month.
Many of the “scenarios of disruption” that they have been asked to imagine to challenge military planners are to remain top secret to avoid giving ideas to potential enemies. They were asked to stick to potential threats between 2030 and 2060….
(7) SWATTING A NEW FIREFLY. [Item by Olav Rokne.] One for the “wishful thinking” file. Questionably sourced rumors are bouncing around the internet about a Disney+ Firefly reboot. As much as I would love to believe this, I gotta express significant skepticism. Adam Whitehead does a pretty good job of analyzing why this rumour likely ain’t true at The Wertzone: “RUMOUR: FIREFLY reboot under consideration for Disney+”.
… I find this rumour dubious for multiple reasons. The first is that Firefly‘s fanbase remains, despite the passage of almost twenty years, both voluble and passionate. Rebooting the show from scratch and dropping the previous actors and continuity would go down very badly. The second is that Firefly‘s universe was designed from scratch to be slightly more morally murky and complex, and that’s part of the show’s appeal. Making it more PG (or PG-13, if you’re in the USA) seems pointless. …
As 2020 draws to a close, we’re feeling pretty confident that we will be able to hold our show in 2021. However, given the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic and the timing on the various vaccines, we became increasingly concerned that it would not be feasible or prudent to hold our show as originally scheduled from April 15-18, 2021.
We can now announce that we’ve reached an agreement with our hotel (the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard, Illinois) to reschedule the convention to September 9-12, 2021. The location of the convention remains the same….
(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY
1984 — The Winter 1984 issue of the Missouri Review which was undated had Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Trouble with the Cotton People”, the very first of her Kesh stories that would become part of her Always Coming Home novel which was first published by Harper & Row the following year. Nominated for the Mythopoetic Fantasy Award, it would lose out to Barry Hugart’s Bridge of Birds. Library of America published the Always Coming Home: Author’s Expanded Edition last year.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 15, 1923 — Freeman Dyson. Physicist best known in genre circles for the concept he theorized of a Dyson Sphere which would be built by a sufficiently technologically advanced species around a sun to harvest all solar energy. He credited Olaf Stapledon in Star Maker (1937), in which he described “every solar system… surrounded by a gauze of light traps, which focused the escaping solar energy for intelligent use” with first coming up with the concept. (Died 2020.) (CE)
Born December 15, 1935 – Alma Jo Williams. Five dozen reviews in SF Review. Raised horses; earned a washin-ryu black belt; forty years at Cornell in the Baker Institute for Animal Health. Of the 1984 Dune movie she said “The photography is gorgeous, the music appropriate, the special effects … well integrated…. The metamorphosed Guild navigators are laughable…. the evil of the Harkonnens was caricatured…. Only Sting, as Feyd, projected … subtle nastiness”. (Died 2010) [JH]
Born December 15, 1937 — John Sladek. Weird and ambitious would be ways to describe his work. The Complete Roderick Is quite amazing as is Tik-Tok which won a BSFA and Bugs as well. He did amazing amounts of short fiction, much of which is collected finally in the ironically named Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek. (Died 2000.) (CE)
Born December 15, 1944 – Ru Emerson, age 76. Two dozen novels, a dozen shorter stories. Under another name she has two recipes in Serve It Forth. Sings, plays guitar, flies stunt kites, a little Irish hardshoe. [JH]
Born December 15, 1944 – John Guidry, age 76. Chaired DeepSouthCon 9 & 11, Nolacon II the 46th Worldcon. Founded ERB-apa (Edgar Rice Burroughs fans). Rebel Award. Fan Guest of Honor at DSC 53. [JH]
Born December 15, 1945 – Steve Vertlieb, age 75. Often seen here. Mr. James H. Burns gave him this tribute on his 70th, with photos and links. [JH]
Born December 15, 1951 — David Bischoff. He actually started his career writing out for Perry Rhodan. His “Tin Woodman” which was written with Dennis Bailey and nominated for a Nebula would be adapted into a Next Generation story, and he’s continued the Bill the Galactic Hero story with Harry Harrison. He’s also written a kickass excellent Farscape novel, Ship of Ghosts. (Died 2018.) (CE)
Born December 15, 1953 — Robert Charles Wilson, 67. He won the Hugo Award for Best Novel for Spin, a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for The Chronoliths, a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the novelette “The Cartesian Theater” and Prix Aurora Awards for the novels Blind Lake and Darwinia. Impressive indeed. He also garnered a Philip K. Dick Award for Mysterium. (CE)
Born December 15, 1953 – J.M. DeMatteis, age 67. Like many comics stars, has done substantial work for both DC and Marvel, including television. Eisner Award. Wrote Abadazad for CrossGen, then when Disney acquired it, three Abadazad books. One novel. One album from his years as a musician. [JH]
Born December 15, 1954 — Alex Cox, 66. Ahhh the Director who back in the early Eighties gave us Repo Man. And did you know that he got a co-writer credit for the screenplay of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas before it was completely rewritten by Gilliam? And as we know he directed a student film version of Harry Harrison’s Bill, the Galactic Hero at University of Colorado Boulder just a few years ago! (CE)
Born December 15, 1958 – Leslie Smith, age 62. Co-chaired Ditto 7 (fanziners’ con; named for a brand of spirit-duplicator machine). Fanzine, Duprass (see Cat’s Cradle) with Linda Bushyager. [JH]
Born December 15, 1981 — Krysten Ritter, 39. She played Jessica Jones on the series of that name and was in The Defenders as well. She had a recurring role in the Veronica Mars series which a lot of a lot is us adore (it’s one of the series that Charles de Lint and his wife MaryAnn Hartis are avid followers of, and they contributed to the film Kickstarter) and I supposed it’s sort of genre adjacent, isn’t it? (Do not analyze that sentence.) She’s been in a number of horror flicks as well, but nothing I groked. (CE)
Born December 15, 1982 — Charlie Cox, 38. He played the role of Matt Murdock / Daredevil in Netflix’s Daredevil and The Defenders, was Tristan Thorn Thorn in Stardust based off the Gaiman novel and Dennis Bridger in the remake of A for Andromeda. (CE)
(12) SF AND WORKERS’ RIGHTS. FutureCon will stream a panel about “Capitalism and workers’ rights on Science Fiction” on Saturday, December 19 at 12 p.m. (noon US Eastern Time). Participants will be Alec Nevala-Lee (USA), Alexey Dodsworth, (Brazil) Fabio Fernandes (Brazil, host), Jorge Baradit (Chile), Marie Vibbert (USA), and Olav Rokne (Canada).
It’s hard to pen a story in which the lines are blurred but the narrative is always clear. Ambiguity and warring perspectives can hurricane into incomprehensible pandemonium. However, When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain manages to have characters who not only inhabit both the bodies of animals and humans, but have characters performing oral storytelling that’s just as fluid. What kept me engaged wasn’t rigidity and linearity, but a narrative voice that always had control with a grip greater than any rigidity….
(14) A SFF LOOK AT POLICING. No Police = Know Future edited by James Beamon is available in both print and electronic formats from publisher Amazing Stories and online book outlets.
When the concept of defunding the police (a concept we believe really means re-examining and reforming the concept of policing), arose during this year’s protests, we saw a perfect opportunity to put those beliefs into practice.
James Beamon, our editor, put it this way in his solicitation:
“After the brutal murder of George Floyd by the police, the world responded in righteous protest, with cries of “Black Lives Matter.” The police responded to these calls in large part with even more brutality, with video after video emerging that showed an assault on the public. And more cries came forth, with calls to defund the police.
But what’s that mean?
Science Fiction writers, this is your call to arms. Give us your potential (and hopefully positive) futures that involve alternatives to modern day policing. We want stories that replace the police entirely, dramatically reform them, or create parallel systems to refocus policing. We’re also seeking alternate concepts of rehabilitation and punishment as well, more emphasis on the carrot. In a world where police are perpetually brandishing their batons, I think we’ve all seen enough sticks.”
The stories collected in this volume –
Ryan Priest – Pro Bono Detectives
Lettie Prell – Justice Systems in Quantum Parallel Probabilities
Jared Oliver Adams – All the Mister Rogerses From Bethel A.M.E.
P.T. MacKim – Well Regulated
Minister Faust – Freeze Police
Stewart C. Baker – Maricourt’s Waters Quiet and Deep
Ira Naymen – When the Call Comes In
Holly Schofield – One Bad Apple
Brontë Christopher Wieland – Apogee, Effigy, Storm
… Bear calls out in the acknowledgements the inspiration for Core General that was to me delightfully obvious but perhaps newer readers to SF might not be aware of. James White’s Sector General stories and novels describe the adventures of a hospital in space, and Bear’s Core General is clearly a spiritual successor and heir to White’s ideas. Bear of course brings her own sensibilities and ideas to a Hospital in Space but the bones of the homage are there, and the social mores and ideas of White’s novels are updated for modern sensibilities. This is also done a bit explicitly within the novel itself, as corpsicles found on Big Rock Candy Mountain have some rather archaic, primitive, frankly offensive and un-Synarchy-like ideas about many things. There is a culture clash and some real conflict between Jens and the rest of the Synarchy with Helen, the AI of Big Rock Candy Mountain, and the crew of the ship that they manage to unfreeze and revive….
NASA has selected 18 astronauts from its corps to form the Artemis Team and help pave the way for the next astronaut missions on and around the Moon as part of the Artemis program.
…The astronauts on the Artemis Team come from a diverse range of backgrounds, expertise, and experience. The agency’s modern lunar exploration program will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024 and establish a sustainable human lunar presence by the end of the decade.
NASA will announce flight assignments for astronauts later, pulling from the Artemis Team. Additional Artemis Team members, including international partner astronauts, will join this group, as needed….
(17) ROCKING THE MARKET. In “Making A Point With Moon Rocks” on National Review Online, Texas Tech economist Alexander William Salter says that NASA’s contracts to acquire moon rocks (or what is technically “lunar regolith”) is “a clever strategy to nudge space policy in a pro-commerce direction” since the purchases would show that private property can be created on the Moon, a position left ambiguous in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.
.. NASA’s purchase of moon dirt is a clever strategic move to nudge space policy in a pro-commerce direction. The United States government isn’t violating Article II [of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty], because it’s not appropriating real estate. And it’s not violating Article VI, since it’s up to Congress to determine the extent of monitoring and policing duties. What the NASA program does is create a test case for first harvesting, and then selling, outer-space resources. As David Henderson and I have argued, “Given the vagueness of international space law on property rights, the precedents created by national space law will have a decisive role in shaping the future space environment. Hence, NASA’s actions can support a pro-business turn not just for the United States, but also for the international community as a whole.” …
… What if those predictions actually ended up affecting how the future unfolds, like self-fulfilling prophecies? It’s a question plaguing futurists, and now a project is trying to illustrate the problem by showing how things created in the past have colored the present. The simplest examples—items that truly shape the minds of our next generations—come in the form of children’s toys.
The Museum of Future History’s first exhibition, Toying With Tomorrow: Playthings That Anticipated the Here and Now, is curated by experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats and timed to debut at the UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) High-Level Futures Literacy Summit.
The idea was sparked by a growing concern among futurists, Keats says, that we have been “colonizing the future” with visions and predictions of what it will bring, and that those visions limit the opportunities or possibilities of those future generations. But this can be an abstract concept to grasp.
“What we needed was some way in which people could recognize the phenomenon in their own lives, and they could use that as a means by which to consider what sorts of predictions they make, what sort of impact those predictions might have going forward—individually as well as collectively in a society,” Keats explains. “Toys have a very direct way in which they influence the future through the children who play with them.”…
It’s one thing to watch Diana grow up slowly — something Wonder Woman fans delighting in witnessing as star Gal Gadot lassoed a new generation of hearts in director Patty Jenkins’ 2017 blockbuster. But it’s something else entirely to watch our Amazon hero surge from past to present at lightning speed — leaping out of her idyllic childhood and into the mean city streets — in the butt-kickin’ romp that welcomes viewers to the opening moments of Wonder Woman 1984….
Invisible structures generated by gravitational interactions in the Solar System have created a “space superhighway” network, astronomers have discovered. ScienceAlert reports:By applying analyses to both observational and simulation data, a team of researchers led by Natasa Todorovic of Belgrade Astronomical Observatory in Serbia observed that these superhighways consist of a series of connected arches inside these invisible structures, called space manifolds — and each planet generates its own manifolds, together creating what the researchers have called “a true celestial autobahn.” This network can transport objects from Jupiter to Neptune in a matter of decades, rather than the much longer timescales, on the order of hundreds of thousands to millions of years, normally found in the Solar System….
(21) MORE ABOUT BEN BOVA. The New York Times ran Ben Bova’s obituary. To accompany that note, here are a couple of Andrew Porter’s photos of Bova (sent direct to 770, not from the NYT.)
…Ben Bova was a hard-science guy — and a passionate space program booster — and his visions of the future encompassed a dizzying array of technological advances (and resulting horrors or delights), including cloning, sex in space, climate change, the nuclear arms race, Martian colonies and the search for extraterrestrials. In newspaper articles, short stories and more than 100 books, he explored these and other knotty human problems….
… John M. Ford’s first professionally published story was “This, Too, We Reconcile,” published in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, May 1976. In it, a telepath is hired to read the mind of a martyr to determine if the dead man saw anything of the afterlife as he died and if so, what that afterlife is like. Rather alarmingly, the telepath is the second person hired for the job, his predecessor having committed suicide immediately after reading the martyr’s mind. This has all the earmarks of a task from which one should flee posthaste, but unluckily for our protagonist, his diligence outweighs his prudence.
This is admittedly a minor Ford, which may explain why it was never collected in either of the two Ford collections, From the End of the Twentieth Century (1997), and Heat of Fusion and Other Stories (2004). Nor has it been included in any anthology of which I am aware. Still, Bova saw enough in the story to help launch a career that lasted until Ford’s untimely death in 2006.
(23) HONESTY IS THE FUNNIEST POLICY. [By Martin Morse Wooster.]In “Honest Game Trailers: Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales” on YouTube, Fandom Games says even though you’re not playing Peter Parker, you can still fly through a very well-detailed New York City and (virtually) cause billions in property damage!
Also dropping today: In “Honest Trailers: Lost” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies sum up the six-season series by saying the characters asked so many questions in the show “The creators got tired of answering them” and that there was so much psychodrama “the writers room needed therapy.”
Fun fact: the reason why the flight that crashed in show was Oceanic Airlines Flight 646 was that was the flight in the action film Executive Decision.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Cat Eldridge, James Davis Nicoll, Michael J. Walsh, Daniel Dern, Olav Rokne, Steve Davidson, Doug Ellis, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]
At the end of July, the Board of Directors issued a proclamation suspending most inperson SCA activities in North America until January 31, 2021, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. In November, we asked the Kingdom Seneschals and Crowns of the known world to give us their counsel on how to proceed in the first part of 2021. We received very thoughtful responses from nearly all Crowns and Kingdom Seneschals as well as many other concerned people. We wish to thank everyone who responded for taking the time to do so, and for putting such effort into your responses. After reading and discussing the feedback received, the Board decided at their conference call meeting on 12/01/2020 to continue the suspension of in-person activities in North America through May 31, 2021….
(3) FILER ASKS YOU OPINION. Cora Buhlert says, “I’m considering starting a Patreon next year and have created a survey to gauge interest.”
…Science fiction set in the future is often as much about the time it was written in as it is about prognostications. Diving into both world and family history, we can tease out some of the threads that came together to make this story of the subversion of an authoritarian regime from within its record-keeping arm, and how that inspired revolution.
In 1953, we were less than 10 years from the end of World War II. Senator Joe McCarthy was busy investigating citizens for wrongful thoughts and potential treason. The early main-frame computer, UNIVAC, correctly predicted the winner of the 1952 presidential election. Dad’s brother, my Uncle John, was turned down for the US Foreign Service because of his Danish Communist aunt. And Dad wrote “Sam Hall.”
Computer-savvy folk of today will likely snicker a bit at the electromechanical whirs and buzzes of the government’s Central Records computer, nicknamed Matilda the Machine. Matilda holds detailed information on all citizens, tracking all transactions, travel, education, contacts, relationships. The “Matildas” of today know a tremendous amount about us and our shopping habits, travel plans, and private emails.
For although Dad did a good job of thinking about the power of computers held by the government as data gathering machines, in 1953 he didn’t seem to have thought much about computers as gatherers of data for private enterprise.
The America of “Sam Hall” has closed its borders to immigration, gives its citizens loyalty ratings, assigns them each a unique ID number and demands that it is tattooed on the shoulder. There is an underground movement, but, as our protagonist, Thornberg muses, “It was supported by foreign countries who didn’t like an American-dominated world – at least not one dominated by today’s kind of America, though once ‘USA’ had meant ‘hope.’”…
The are violent ghosts, flying whales, and dead people with mouthfuls of saltwater hundreds of miles from the ocean in Sam J. Miller’s The Blade Between, but it all makes sense. It all makes sense because the story takes place in Hudson, New York, a place built on the remains of slaughtered whales, where their unused parts were buried underground and the scraps were fed to animals later used to feed people. Hudson is full of angry spirits, but now a different monster is destroying it: gentrification.
… The Blade Between is a book about broken people. The creepy atmosphere and ghosts make it horror, but the drug abuse, evictions, cheating, and destroyed lives make it noir. Also, Miller’s writing and vivid imagery, especially when describing dreams, make it poetry. The mix of genres, much like the mix of elements, makes no sense, but it works.
… What is less known is that Tolkien and Lewis also designed and established the curriculum for Oxford’s developing English School, and through it educated a second generation of important children’s fantasy authors in their own intellectual image. Put in place in 1931, this curriculum focused on the medieval period to the near-exclusion of other eras; it guided students’ reading and examinations until 1970, and some aspects of it remain today. Though there has been relatively little attention paid to the connection until now, these activities – fantasy-writing, often for children, and curricular design in England’s oldest and most prestigious university – were intimately related. Tolkien and Lewis’s fiction regularly alludes to works in the syllabus that they created, and their Oxford-educated successors likewise draw upon these medieval sources when they set out to write their own children’s fantasy in later decades. In this way, Tolkien and Lewis were able to make a two-pronged attack, both within and outside the academy, on the disenchantment, relativism, ambiguity and progressivism that they saw and detested in 20th-century modernity.
…The Oxford School’s medievalist approach radiated outward, influencing many more children’s fantasy authors and readers, and helping to turn Anglophilic fascination with early Britain and its medieval legends into a globally recognisable setting for children’s adventures, world-saving deeds and magical possibility.
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
December 6, 1991 — Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country premiered. It would be the last Trek film to feature the entire original cast from the series, and was released just after Roddenberry passed on. Directed by Nicholas Meyers and produced by Ralph Winter Steven-Charles Jaffe, the screenplay was by Nicholas Meyer and Denny Martin Flinn from a story from Leonard Nimoy, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal. It would lose out to Terminator 2: Judgement Day at MagiCon for Best Hugo, Long Form Presentation. The film received a much warmer reception from critics and audiences alike than The Final Frontier did, and it was a box office success. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a most exemplary rating of eighty three percent.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 6, 1881 – Helen Knipe. Illustrator (also rendered stage plays into novels). Here is The Magical Man of Mirth. Here is The Land of Never Was. Here is an interior for The Queen of the City of Mirth. (Died 1959) [JH]
Born December 6, 1909 — Arthur K. Barnes. Pulp magazine writer in mostly the Thirties and Forties. He wrote a series of stories about interplanetary hunters Tommy Strike and Gerry Carlyle which are collected in Interplanetary Hunter and Interplanetary Huntress. Some of these were co-written with Henry Kuttner. His Pete Manx, Time Troubler collection featuring Pete Manx is a lot of fun too. Both series are available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 1979.) (CE)
Born December 6, 1911 — Ejler Jakobsson. Finnish-born Editor who worked on Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories butbriefly as they were shut down due to paper shortages. When Super Science Stories was revived in 1949, Jakobson was named editor until it ceased publication two years later. Twenty years later, he took over Galaxy and If, succeeding Frederik Pohl. His first credited publications were The Octopus and The Scorpion in 1939, co-edited with his wife, Edith Jakobsson. (Died 1984.) (CE)
Born December 6, 1957 — Arabella Weir, 63. A performer with two Who appearances, the first being as Billis in “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe”, a superb Eleventh Doctor story, before being The Doctor Herself in “Exile”, a Big Audio production. She’s had one-offs on genre and genre adjacent series such as Shades of Darkness, Genie in the House, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and even a genre adjacent Midsomer Murders. (CE)
Born December 6, 1962 — Colin Salmon, 58. Definitely best known for his role as Charles Robinson in the Bond films Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. He played Dr. Moon in “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, Tenth Doctor stories, and was Walter Steele on Arrow. He most recently played General Zod on Krypton He was, alas, Ben in the clunker of films, Mortal Engines. (CE)
Born December 6, 1942 – Ted Pauls. A hundred reviews in Locus, SF Commentary, SF Review, The WSFA (Washington, DC, SF Ass’n) Journal. His T-K Graphics was a leading mail-order bookshop. Fanzine, Kipple. Co-chaired Balticon 5-8. Part of the Baltimore SF Forum (hello, Ted White). (Died 1997) [JH]
Born December 6, 1946 – Ana Lydia Vega, Ph.D., age 74. Seven collections, one children’s book. Casa de las Américas prize, Juan Rulfo prize. Puerto Rico Society of Authors’ Author of the Year. Professor at Univ. Puerto Rico (retired). [JH]
Born December 6, 1960 – Julie Dean Smith, age 60. Four novels “done with panache and a happy skill” — hey, I’m quoting Clute, it must be St. Nicholas’ Day. [JH]
Born December 6, 1962 — Janine Turner, 58. Maggie O’Connell on Northern Exposure which we’ve accepted as genre adjacent. She was also Linda Aikman in Monkey Shines, a horror film not for the squeamish, and had one-offs in Knight-Rider, Quantum Leap and Mr. Merlin. (CE)
Born December 6, 1969 — Torri Higginson, 51. I had forgotten that she had a role in the TekWar movies and series as Beth Kittridge. I like that series a lot. Of course, she portrayed Dr. Elizabeth Weir in one episode of Stargate SG-1 and the entire Stargate Atlantis series. Her most recent genre roles was as Dr. Michelle Kessler in Inhuman Condition, where she plays a therapist who focuses on supernatural patients, and Commander Delaney Truffault in the Dark Matter series. (CE)
Born December 6, 1972 – Kevin Brockmeier, age 48. Fifteen novels for us, thirty shorter stories. “A Proustian Reverie” in the NY Times Book Review. Three O. Henry prizes (take that, Arthur Hawke), several others. Interviewed in Lightspeed. [JH]
Born December 6, 1981 – Ben White, age 39. Confessedly Aotearoan pâkehâ. Three novels. Twenty-six games here. Has read The Sirens of Titan, The Phantom Tollbooth, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Thirteen Clocks. [JH]
There is nothing quite like a good-bad movie. Sometimes the title alone is enough to let us know what we’re in for: think Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958). Sometimes the good-badness might be about knowing we are guaranteed an over-ripe performance from a particular star: think Nicolas Cage from around 2010 onwards. Sometimes a lurid or ridiculous premise promises a good time all by itself (see: Night of the Lepus, AKA the killer rabbit movie). But whether or not the creative minds behind these kinds of cultural landmarks were in on the joke is sometimes less self-evident.
…The godfather of wonderfully terrible films is Plan 9 from Outer Space, Ed Wood’s 1959 effort about aliens attacking the Earth. Hubcaps on strings are pressed into service as interstellar spacecraft, wobbling their way to our planet. When we get our first glimpse of the alien beings within, the hubcaps start to look pretty cosmic by contrast; the aliens bear a resemblance to inexpensive actors sporting off-the-rack medieval fayre costumes. Horror veteran Bela Lugosi, appearing as the villain, passed away before filming; his character’s scenes are constructed from screen-test footage he’d shot with Wood, plus additional material featuring another, far taller guy with a cape draped over his face. Throughout the film, scenery has a habit of wobbling alarmingly, particularly the gravestones.
(11) WHAT’S UP CHUCK? Checking in on the latest wisdom from the Tingleverse.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ. John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Dany Sichel, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
…The Martian Chronicles is not a child’s book, but it is an excellent book to give to a child—or to give to the right child, which I flatter myself that I was—because it is a book that is full of awakening. Which means, simply, that when you read it, you can feel parts of your brain clicking on, becoming sensitized to the fact that something is happening here, in this book, with these words, even if you can’t actually communicate to anyone outside of your own head just what that something is. I certainly couldn’t have, in the sixth grade—I simply didn’t have the words. As I recall, I didn’t much try: I just sat there staring down at the final line of the book, with the Martians staring back at me, simply trying to process what I had just read.
The fifth episode of my podcast Bradbury 100 drops today. The theme of the episode is biographies, as my interview guest is Jonathan R. Eller, author of three biographical volumes on Ray: Becoming Ray Bradbury, Ray Bradbury Unbound, and Bradbury Beyond Apollo.
Jon is also the Director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, and has done more than anyone to explore Bradbury’s thinking and authorship.
… Bradbury’s poetic, metaphor-filled prose was not easy to adapt to the screen, which is perhaps why there have been far fewer screen versions of his work than that of, say, Stephen King. But there were still a number of significant adaptations of Bradbury’s work for both the small and big screen, including some that he was directly involved in as a screenwriter….
01 – It Came from Outer Space (1953)
With the exception of a handful of short stories adapted for various early 1950s anthology TV shows, this was the first relatively major film based on Bradbury’s work and still remains one of the finest. Oddly, it wasn’t adapted from a published story but an original screen treatment he developed for director Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon).
In the film (the first sci-fi movie to use a 3D filming process), an alien ship crashes on Earth and its crew makes copies of the local townspeople to gather what they need to effect repairs. The aliens are not hostile, but merely want to fix their ship and leave peacefully. This was an unusual idea for the time — the extraterrestrials in most films from the era were decidedly dangerous — and sets It Came from Outer Space apart as a thoughtful yet still suspenseful piece.
…Bradbury, intoning gravely over shots of the artefacts: People ask, Where do you get your ideas? Well, right here. As the camera pans, Bradbury says, Somewhere in this room is an African veldt. Beyond that, the small Illinois town where I grew up. He sits at a typewriter and the keys clatter. One night, watching these credits, my grandmother said to me, “You know, he’s from here.” She meant, of course, from Waukegan, “that small Illinois town” where he grew up and where we sat now in her neighborhood of tiny homes called The Gardens. But I, at age seven, thought she meant here, here in the house we sat in, that he had grown up in the house, perhaps even still lived in the basement which resembled, in its murk and books and clutter, the same office Bradbury sat down to write in during the opening credits of his tv show.
It wouldn’t be a bad premise for a Bradbury story: a young girl, bookish and morbid, discovers an author living in her grandmother’s musty basement. And in a way, he was there. My father’s old room was part of that basement, still set up the way it had been when he lived there, commuting to college and working part-time at a bookstore. One room was floor to ceiling bookshelves and by the time I was in junior high school, I would go down there regularly and pick something out to read. Most of the books were yellowed and falling apart, their covers marked with their original prices: fifteen cents. Among these were a few volumes of Bradbury’s short stories. I would pick one, often The Illustrated Man, and take it back upstairs to the velour armchair and settle in.
The latest video from First Fandom Experience brings to life a three-page screed by a young Ray Bradbury addressing the issue of the incongruous and annoying ads in pulp magazines.
The piece appeared in the Spring 1940 issue of Sweetness and Light, an edgy, satirical fanzine from a faction of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. A full reading of the piece is presented along with historical context and a selection of the offending advertisements. Enjoy!
1. To begin, they look pretty cool. Like the first generation, they come in their own little charging case, and when they’re nestled in there and the top is flipped open (which is a solidly satisfying tactile experience, by the way), it looks for all the world like a cute little robot with bug eyes (at least in the orange variant).
According to the complaint, filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, Mike The Pike Productions was granted an option to the film rights of Martin’s novella in 2009. The company subsequently assigned the option to Blackstone Manor, LLC., the named defendants.
Described as a “werewolf noir,” “The Skin Trade” was originally published in 1988 as part of “Night Visions 5,” a horror anthology that also included stories by Stephen King and Dan Simmons. The story follows Randi Wade, a private investigator who is looking into a series of brutal killings in her small town, which eventually leads to her learning about werewolves and other demons. The story won a World Fantasy Award in 1989.
According to the complaint, Blackstone exercised the option on Sept. 2, 2014, and, per the 2009 agreement, it had five years to start principal photography before the rights reverted to Martin.
The complaint alleges that Blackstone “hastily assembl[ed] a barebones cast and crew” a day before the 2019 deadline “to shoot a handful of scenes” for no other reason than to maintain the appearance that it was making the progress necessary to retain the rights. Martin says the “token” production was “insufficient,” comparing the move to a contractor hurriedly building a gazebo in lieu of the agreed-upon skyscraper when faced with a deadline…
(6) WW84. DC dropped a new trailer for WonderWoman 1984 at the DC Fandome event.
Fast forward to the 1980s as Wonder Woman’s next big screen adventure finds her facing two all-new foes: Max Lord and The Cheetah. With director Patty Jenkins back at the helm and Gal Gadot returning in the title role, “Wonder Woman 1984” is Warner Bros. Pictures’ follow up to the DC Super Hero’s first outing, 2017’s record-breaking “Wonder Woman,” which took in $822 million at the worldwide box office. The film also stars Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Kristen Wiig as The Cheetah, Pedro Pascal as Max Lord, Robin Wright as Antiope, and Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta.
(7) LEFT IN THE SILO. Nicholas Whyte, CoNZealand’s Deputy Hugo Administrator, in “The 1945 Retros that weren’t”, runs the numbers to show why various categories did not make the final ballot.
We didn’t publish the full stats for the 1945 Retro Hugo categories that weren’t put to the final ballot this year, mainly because voting ended only seven days before the Retro ceremony and we had to prioritise fairly ruthlessly.
But after internal discussion, we are publishing them here….
What are the numbers again? This time we received over 600 works from hopeful contributors. At a guess, over 2 million words of fiction.
The majority of those writers really tried to send us something they thought we could use. For instance, we’re not a horror magazine. People knew that and sent very little horror. We didn’t get much in the way of apocalyptic dystopia either. Sex and swearing were at a minimum, yet people also recognized we’re not a children’s magazine nor specifically aimed at the young adult market.
By and large, the stories contained hopeful themes, big ideas and presented worlds filled with diversity, empathy, heroism, and hope.
I don’t have the exact numbers, but we read a lot of good stories. Let’s say 25% were “good to excellent.” It could be more. Conservatively, that would be over half a million words.
At $0.06/word, that’s over $30,000 (if we were able to buy all those good stories). While we do a good job of making DreamForge look big-time, that’s more than our annual budget for everything related to the magazine. And if we could somehow invest in all those stories, they would fill our pages for the next 3-4 years.
… Second, creating an issue of a magazine is not just about selecting great stories. It’s about creating a reading experience. Think of it as a variety show. If all the stories are literary, philosophical, message pieces with troubled characters navigating complex plots, our readers aren’t going to make it through the whole issue.
Some stories are challenging, and they require a clear head and concentration before delivering a payoff in emotion or thoughtful meaning. And honestly, I don’t want to read those at 11:30 pm after a long day when I open a magazine for a few minutes of relaxation. I check the Table of Contents for a short story that looks light and easy to get through…
(9) ANGUS BUCHANAN OBITUARY. Industrial archaeologist and biographer Angus Buchanan died June 17. He is profiled in The Guardian. There’s a kind of steampunk sensibility to the topic.
Engineers shape economies, landscapes and how people work and live in them. Yet in the past their achievements were little celebrated. Angus Buchanan, who has died aged 90, did much to increase awareness of their endeavours and breakthroughs.
The appearance of his book Industrial Archaeology in Britain as a Pelican Original in 1972 marked a significant step forward for an emerging discipline. It supplied the crucial link between the development of industrial archaeology at regional and national levels in Britain, leading to the conservation, restoration and reuse of buildings, sites and engineering that might otherwise have been lost.
…The culmination of Buchanan’s research came with Brunel: The Life and Times of Isambard Kingdom Brunel (2002). In building the Great Western Railway and important bridges, tunnels and dockyards, the great Victorian engineer changed the face of the British landscape. Innovations at sea included the SS Great Britain, the first screw-driven iron transatlantic steamship, and his designs revolutionised modern engineering.
The biography provided the first fully documented and objective account, placing Brunel’s significance in a historical context. The desire to avoid concentrating on familiar incidents and the legends surrounding them led Buchanan to a thematic approach rather than a chronology, covering Brunel’s overseas projects and professional practices, and the politics and society within which he functioned, as well as familiar subjects, among them his other major ship, the SS Great Eastern.
The [Bristol Industrial Archeology Society] BIAS had a major influence on the preservation of Bristol’s city docks, thwarting traffic planners who wished to build a major road complex across them. In 1970 the Great Britain was returned from the Falklands to the dry dock where it had been built in 1843, and it is now a popular tourist attraction; nearby is another of Brunel’s masterpieces, the Clifton suspension bridge.
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 22, 1957 — X Minus One’s “Drop Dead” first aired. Based off of Clifford D. Simak‘s story of that name which was first published in Galaxy Science Fiction in July of 1956, it’s a superb tale about a planet with a very obliging inhabitant called The Critter and how it serves the astronauts who land there. The radio script was by Ernest Kinoy with the cast being Lawson Zerbe, Ralph Camargo and Joseph Bell. You can listen to it here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 22, 1880 – George Herriman. Wrote the immortal and so far unique comic strip Krazy Kat; also illustrated Don Marquis’ poetical tales of Archy and Mehitabel a cockroach and another cat. Krazy sometimes seems male, sometimes female, which hardly matters; is endlessly the target of bricks thrown by Ignatz Mouse, taking them as a sign of affection; is the subject of protection by Officer Pupp, to whom they are merely illegal. Other characters, equally unlikely, are also animals (including birds), whom anthropomorphic is equally inadequate for. Nor does dialectal justly describe the language, nor surreal the landscape. Here is the theme. Here is a variation. Here is an elaboration. (Died 1944) [JH]
Born August 22, 1919 — Douglas W F Mayer. A British fan who was editor for three issues of Amateur Science Stories published by the Science Fiction Association of Leeds, England. He was thereby the publisher of Arthur C. Clarke’s very first short story, “Travel by Wire”, which appeared in the second issue in December 1937. He would later edit the Tomorrow fanzine which would be nominated for the 1939 Best Fanzine Retro Hugo. (Died 1976.) (CE)
Born August 22, 1920 — Ray Bradbury. So what’s your favorite work by him? I have three. Something Wicked This Way Comes is the one I reread quite a bit with The Illustrated Man and The Martian Chronicles being my other go to regularly works by him. (Died 2012.) (CE)
Born August 22, 1925 — Honor Blackman. Best known for the roles of Cathy Gale in The Avengers, Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger and Hera in Jason and the Argonauts. She was also Professor Lasky in “Terror of the Vervoids” in the Sixth Doctor’s “The Trial of a Time Lord”. Genre adjacent, she was in the film of Agatha Christie’s The Secret Adversary as Rita Vandemeyer. (Died 2020.) (CE)
Born August 22, 1945 — David Chase, 75. He’s here today mainly because he wrote nine episodes including the “Kolchak: Demon and the Mummy” telefilm of Kolchak: The Night Stalker. He also wrote the screenplay for The Grave of The Vampire, and one for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, “Enough Rope fur Two”, which he also directed. (CE)
Born August 22, 1946 – Rafi Zabor, 74. Seldom does work from outside our field wholly engage with our spirit. But The Bear Comes Home is superb. Naturally we ignore it. It does have explicit sexual activity, not gratuitous. In a year when Earthquake Weather could not reach the ballot, of course The Bear could not muster even 5% of the nominations. Don’t let that stop you now. [JH]
Born August 22, 1948 – Susan Wood. Her we do recognize. Met Mike Glicksohn at Boskone 4, 1969; Energumen together to 1973, Hugo as Best Fanzine its last year; both Fan Guests of Honour at Aussiecon (in retrospect Aussiecon One) the 33rd Worldcon though marriage gone. Three Hugos for SW as Best Fanwriter; Best of SW (J. Kaufman ed.) 1982. Taught at U. British Columbia; Vancouver editor, Pac. NW Rev. Books. Atheling Award, Aurora Award for Lifetime Achievement, Canadian SF Hall of Fame. One Ditmar. (Died 1980) [JH]
Born August 22, 1954 – Gavin Claypool, 66. Los Angeles area actifan. LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Society) Librarian. Won LASFS Evans-Freehafer service award twice; only five people have ever done so. Reliably helpful to others e.g. at SF cons. [JH]
Born August 22, 1955 — Will Shetterly, 65. Of his novels, I recommend his two Borderland novels, Elsewhere and Nevernever, which were both nominees for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature, and his sort of biographical Dogland. Married to Emma Bull, they did a trailer for her War for The Oaks novel which is worth seeing as you’ll spot Minnesota fans in it. And Emma as the Elf Queen is definitely something to behold! (CE)
Born August 22, 1963 — Tori Amos, 57. One of Gaiman’s favorite musicians, so it’s appropriate that she penned two essays, the afterword to “Death” in Sandman: Book of Dreams, and the Introduction to “Death” in The High Cost of Living. Although created before they ever met, Delirium from The Sandman series is based on her. (CE)
Born August 22, 1964 – Diane Setterfield, Ph.D., 56. Three novels. The Thirteenth Tale sold three million copies (NY Times Best Seller), televised on BBC2. “A reader first, a writer second…. The practice of weekly translation from my undergraduate years [her Ph.D., from U. Bristol, was on André Gide] has become an everyday working tool for me: when a sentence doesn’t run the way I want it to, I habitually translate it into French and retranslate it back into English. It’s like switching a light on in a dim room: suddenly I can see what’s not working and why.” [JH]
(13) SUICIDE SQUAD ROLL CALL. Adam B. Vary, in the Variety story “‘The Suicide Squad’ First Look, Full Cast Revealed by Director James Gunn at DC FanDome” says that director James Gunn revealed at DC Fandome that the cast of The Suicide Squad, coming out in April 2021, includes Margot Robbie and Viola Davis from the 2016 film Suicide Squad but also Nathan Fillion, John Cena, and Peter Capaldi as “The Thinker,” a DC villain from the 1940s. Principal photography was completed before the pandemic hit and the film is completed and ready to go.
… Among the new cast, Gunn said that he reached deep into the DC Comics canon to find a motley crew of villains to populate the movie, and it appears he brought some invention of his own to the project as well.
Distant cosmic objects such as planets, galaxies, and nebulae are sometimes referred to by the scientific community with unofficial nicknames. As the scientific community works to identify and address systemic discrimination and inequality in all aspects of the field, it has become clear that certain cosmic nicknames are not only insensitive, but can be actively harmful. NASA is examining its use of unofficial terminology for cosmic objects as part of its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
As an initial step, NASA will no longer refer to planetary nebula NGC 2392, the glowing remains of a Sun-like star that is blowing off its outer layers at the end of its life, as the “Eskimo Nebula.” “Eskimo” is widely viewed as a colonial term with a racist history, imposed on the indigenous people of Arctic regions. Most official documents have moved away from its use. NASA will also no longer use the term “Siamese Twins Galaxy” to refer to NGC 4567 and NGC 4568, a pair of spiral galaxies found in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster. Moving forward, NASA will use only the official, International Astronomical Union designations in cases where nicknames are inappropriate.
…Nicknames are often more approachable and public-friendly than official names for cosmic objects, such as Barnard 33, whose nickname “the Horsehead Nebula” invokes its appearance. But often seemingly innocuous nicknames can be harmful and detract from the science.
The Agency will be working with diversity, inclusion, and equity experts in the astronomical and physical sciences to provide guidance and recommendations for other nicknames and terms for review….
(16) HONEST GAME TRAILERS.[Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Fandom Games asks in this Honest Game Trailer, “Destroy All Humans”, since alien invasion is “the only box left on the 2020 bingo card” why not enjoy this 2005 game where you’re an alien mowing down humans and giving bad Jack Nicholson impressions?
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]