Last week, August 26, was Katherine Johnson’s birthday. Johnson was born in 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. She excelled at math from childhood, and eventually found a job with NASA. Johnson’s job was to calculate the routes for the USA’s manned space missions, including 1969’s lunar landing. In the 1950s, in her work at Langley Research Labs (which later became part of NASA), Johnson’s job title was actually “computer.” These short films show Johnson talking about her life in her own words.
Really, there’s more? Yes. Locus Magazine devoted a paragraph or two to the Alfie Awards, created and awarded by George RR Martin, and announced at Martin’s after-the-Hugos party. Martin has traditionally offered a “Hugo Loser” ribbon at every WorldCon and invited those nominated who didn’t win become part of the Hugo Loser Club. Martin wears his own Hugo Loser badge on his name tag. The Alfies, which Martin fashioned himself out of various old hood ornaments, was his reaction to the Hugo controversies this year.
Oliver Sacks passed away on August 30, 2015. He was 82. Sacks was a neurologist and writer who made neurology accessible for lay people. His books include The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings. Sacks was a hero to our own Kat Hooper. She says, “Oliver Sacks has been one of the most influential people in my life. I read his book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat when I was in college. After I finished it, I changed my major to psychology with a concentration in neuroscience. Then I went to grad school and earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology. I love my field and I’ll always be grateful to Oliver Sacks for pointing me in the right direction.”
Movie horror master Wes Craven died on the same day. Craven was 76 and had announced that he had brain cancer. Craven started his movie career with the brutal and terrifying Last House on the Left in 1972, and gained prominence with the Freddy Krueger NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series in the 1980s. Scream and its two sequels provided real shocks and chills while making fun of the teen-horror films, and paid homage to various classic horror films.
Books and Writing:
The Wall Street Journal blog shares an interview with Hugo winner for Best Novel, Cixin Liu. Liu refers to the “receding popularity of science fiction” in China, an interesting comment. I wonder if Chinese writers are having better luck getting published internationally, the way some Mexican and Central American writer in the late 1960s were more popular in Spain and Europe than in their home countries.
IO9 serves up a list of books coming out this fall. Nnedi Okarafor’s leads off Tor’s new novella series with a space opera. I’m eager to read that! Kameron Hurley’s second book in her MIRROR EMPIRE series, a new David Mitchell, a new MISTBORN from Sanderson, and is Jim Butcher offering up a space-pirates novel? I see my book-buying budget draining away like water poured into sand. Find more forthcoming books on our New Releases page.
Barnes and Noble revisits one of my personal favorite hoaxes, the creation of Atlanta Nights. My friend science fiction writer and editor Marta Randall had a set of coffee mugs with Atlanta Nights quotes and blurbs. One of my favorites: “Atlanta Nights is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. On second thought, maybe the stick is better.”
The Guardian uses The Shepherd’s Crown, Sir Terry Pratchett’s final (posthumous) book as the springboard for an essay about the DISCWORLD series and Sir Terry’s legacy. (Warning; the article contains spoilers.)
Movies and TV:
Supernatural is still on the CW. That’s almost supernatural itself. In Season 11, the writers introduce a pre-Biblical adversary, the Darkness, (not to be confused in any way with The First Evil that Buffy the Vampire Slayer faced in her Season Seven). Star Jensen Ackles talks about the Darkness, while Jared Padalecki speculates on who might show up to help in this season.
Here’s the first picture of Michael Fassbender in his getup for Assassin’s Creed.
SyFy’s original series Dark Matter finished up its first season last Friday with a two-hour season finale. Wil Wheaton, who has shown up as a nemesis in SyFy’s Eureka, and one in Big Bang Theory, plays an outright villain who shares a history — only hinted at — with one the show’s main characters. Entertainment Weekly posted a clip of Wil Wheaton going full villain.
NASA recruits practice living in isolation for one year as a dry-run for Martian colonization. So, it’s worse than Big Brother, basically.
And it turns out the Mars Rover Curiosity likes taking selfies as much as everybody else!
Here is an awesome steampunk fashion accessory; the Tesla timepiece. Won’t this look good with your steampunk explorer costume? (H/T to Terry Weyna!)
The site has a few active Giveaways going on; Skye Walker’s post on Liar’s Island, Kat’s post on Back to School, and Kevin’s got a copy of Seth Dickinson’s much-hyped The Traitor Baru Cormorant to give away.
Kate Lechler introduced me to Lauren Dawson’s humorous dragons, the ones who hoard, not treasure, gold or gems, but more unusual things. Lauren’s whimsical work can be found at Iguanamouth.