All posts by monsffa

Who Are We? MonSFFA is the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, a club for fans of the science fiction and fantasy genres. We are your connection to the SF/F community, local, national and international. We have been active since 1987. What Are We Into? Our areas of interest span the full spectrum of the SF/F universe: literature, movies, television, comics, gaming, art, animation, scale-model building, costuming, memorabilia collecting, film/video production and more!

ComicMix Gains Partial Victory in Dr. Seuss Lawsuit Over Literary Mash-Up

If you followed the Axanar debates, you will also be interested in this court case, Dr Seuss vs David Gerrold.

Last November, during a Kickstarter campaign to fund Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go!, featuring the writing of David Gerrold, the art of Ty Templeton, and the editorial skills of ComicMix’s Glenn Hauman, Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) filed suit for damages claiming the project infringed their copyright and trademark on Dr. Seuss’ Oh the Places You’ll Go!

ComicMix LLC moved to dismiss the lawsuit, and the motion was partially granted on June 9. U.S. District Court Judge Janis L. Sammartino dismissed the trademark infringement claims, but allowed the copyright claim to proceed, awaiting proof of any harm to the Dr. Seuss estate’s licensing opportunities. The estate has been given two weeks to amend its copyright infringement claims.

Read the rest of the article by Mike Glyer on File 770

 

Long Range Sensors Detect…

  1. Jupiter’s moons
  2. Rosetta Finds Clues to Earth’s “Xenon Paradox”
  3. Mini-Flares Might Threaten Life Around Red Dwarf Stars
  4. The Curious Case of Tabby’s Star

Jupiter’s moons: Two new moons have been discovered and 5 lost ones found again by researchers looking for Planet X.   READ MORE

Rosetta Finds Clues to Earth’s “Xenon Paradox” :  Xenon measured by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft has shed light on a long-standing mystery about the role comets played in Earth’s formation. READ MORE

Comet 67P

The alien surface of Comet 67P seen from Rosetta’s OSIRIS wide-angle camera on May 17th from 9 kilometers away.
ESA/Rosetta/OSIRIS Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mini-Flares Might Threaten Life Around Red Dwarf Stars: The interesting aspect of this article is that fan writers with astronomical knowledge have long considered Star Trek’s Vulcan to be a planet orbiting a red dwarf. This would explain the 3rd eyelid to protect against sudden blinding light.  READ MORE

Mini-Flares Might Threaten Life Around Red Dwarf Stars

The Curious Case of Tabby’s Star:  Three new ideas have emerged to explain Tabby’s Star, officially known as KIC 8462852, but the jury’s still out on what’s really causing the weird behavior of our galaxy’s most mysterious star.

Comet swarm around Tabby's Star

This artist’s concept shows a swarm of comets passing before a star.
NASA / JPL-Caltech

The star KIC 8462852, also called Tabby’s Star, has been the subject of intense debate since May’s announcement that this unusual F-type star, located in the constellation of Cygnus, was dimming once again.

Observations at Fairborn Observatory detected a 2% drop in brightness between May 19th and 21st, and a host of ground- and space-based telescopes jumped in on the action.

Ever since the first public report of the mysterious star in 2015, numerous theories have been proposed to explain its bizarre behavior — sometimes the star’s brightness dims by a couple percent, like last May, but sometimes it dips by as much as 20%, and for days to weeks at a time. Not to mention the long-term fade that appears to be plaguing the star. So it’s no surprise, perhaps, that many proposed explanations have failed in their attempts to explain what’s going on.   READ MORE

Star Trek Discovery to premiere in fall

ST : Discovery will debut on September 24th.

We’ve been waiting a long time for a premiere date for ST : Discovery.  It was announced in today’s Montreal Gazette that Discovery will debut September 24th 8:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. CT on both CTV and Space. The season will then run on Space in two parts: September 24 to November 5 and then resuming in January.

I hopped over to the Space website, but the dates for the second part of the season are not specified-it just says it will restart in January 2018.

There is a teaser and a poster on the site.

The Wait Is Over—Star Trek: Discovery Finally Has A Release Date

Notice from the CSFFA regarding the Aurora Awards Ballot.

Membership in the CSFFA is only 10$ and gives you the right to download a small fortune’s worth of literature! I highly recommend getting involved. Besides the joy of all that summer reading, you get to vote for the winners of the award and thereby encourage our authors.  –Cathy

Notice from the CSFFA regarding the Aurora Awards Ballot.

This email is being sent out to CSFFA account holders who have requested notices but currently do not have a paid CSFFA membership.  If you have paid and your account does not reflect that please contact me ASAP and we will look into it.  Please remember, once you have paid your account should automatically be updated.  There should be no delay.

Aurora Awards:  If you had not heard, the 2017 Aurora Awards ballot is out.
A notice and the ballot are on our website,
http://www.prixaurorawards.ca/wp3/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/2017-Aurora-Awa
rds-Ballot.pdf .  Congratulations to this year’s nominees.

There are two important things to take notice of.  This year we have a special new category, Best of the Decade.  This category is only given out once every ten years.  Full details about this can be found on this year’s ballot.  The other item is that due to a lack of eligible nominations in the Best Poem/Song category there will not be an award for it this year.  To be eligible a work must receive at least 5 (five) nominations.

Voters’ Package:  The package is open to all paid account holders.  The first release of this year’s voters’ package is out.  Please note the Best of the Decade and the Fan Organizational downloads are located above the other categories on the download page.  They work the same as the others by clicking on them you will start the download process.  Please be patient and wait for each download to complete before you start the next one.

Here is a link to what is in our package:
http://www.prixaurorawards.ca/wp3/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Whats-on-the-2017-Aurora-Award-voter-package-Version-1.pdf

Once you have paid for this year’s membership can go to our “Voters Package Download” page from the “Join/Nominate/Vote” menu item or use this link:
http://www.prixaurorawards.ca/aurora-awards/voter-package-download/

We want to thank the nominees and their publishers for their generous donation of these works.  Remember, these downloads are for CSFFA members and only CSFFA members.  We request you do not share them with others.  The voters’ package will be available to download until voting closes on September 2nd, 2017.

This year’s awards will be presented at Hal-Con in Halifax (www.hal-con.com) on the weekend of September 22-24, 2017.

Happy reading.

Clifford Samuels
Aurora Awards administrator
www.prixaurorawards.ca

Montreal’s Element AI to boost projects with $102M financing deal

Montreal Gazette  BERTRAND MAROTTE

Element CEO Jean-François Gagné, centre, speaks with staff in Montreal. His firm said new funding will allow it to hire hundreds of top researchers and expand worldwide with AI-based solutions. JOHN MAHONEY

Montreal-based Element AI, a key player in the city’s burgeoning artificial-intelligence sector, has clinched a major financing deal to fund future growth and job creation.

Element is set to announce on Wednesday that it has raised US$102-million from a group of investors led by San Francisco venture capital fund Data Collective (DCVC).

The deal is the largest Series A funding round for an AI company in history, according to Element.

The investment will allow Element to “accelerate its capabilities and invest in large-scale AI projects internationally, solidifying its position as the largest global AI company in Canada and creating 250 jobs in the Canadian high-tech sector by January 2018,” it said in a news release.

Element was founded last year by tech entrepreneurs Jean-François Gagné and Nicolas Chapados, Montreal venture capital fund Real Ventures, and Université de Montréal AI scientist Yoshua Bengio.

The company aims to make cutting-edge AI research and innovation available to other companies seeking to tap into AI and also help develop new firms in the rapidly growing field.

“Artificial intelligence is a ‘must have’ capability for global companies,” Element chief executive Gagné said. “Without it, they are competitively impaired if not at grave risk of being obseleted in place.

“Seasoned AI investors at DCVC understood this, and supported us to democratize the AI firepower reserved today for only the largest of tech corporations.”

The new funding will allow Element to hire hundreds of top researchers as well as expand internationally with AI-based solutions

for customers in such areas as cybersecurity, fintech, manufacturing, logistics, transportation and robotics, the company said.

Element boasts that it has “pioneered a unique, non-exploitative model of academic co-operation” whose talent and advanced research “matches or exceeds even the largest tech corporations’ reach and budgets.”

“The most serious problems facing global industry and government today involve too much complex and rapidly changing data for the cognitive capacity of even large numbers of human experts working together,” said DCVC managing partner Matt Ocko.

A central aspect of AI is machine learning, which involves the creation of computer neural networks that mimic human brain activity and can program themselves to solve complex problems rather than having to be programmed.

Sometimes you don’t need SF

National Geographic has posted an album of 26 incredible images from photographer Thomas Peschak.

For photographer Thomas Peschak, whose job it is to capture images of the unique and the unexplored, the concept of adventure can almost become routine. Yet Namibia is a destination that he considers unrivalled in its mystery. He calls it “Planet Namibia” and says is the closest he might get to space travel.

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2017/06/namibia-desert-expedition-animals/

Adam West has passed away

Posted by Variety, June 10, 2017 | 08:19AM PT

Adam West — an actor defined and also constrained by his role in the 1960s series “Batman” — died Friday night in Los Angeles. He was 88. A rep said that he died after a short battle with leukemia.

“Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight, and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero,” his family said in a statement.

With its “Wham! Pow!” onscreen exclamations, flamboyant villains and cheeky tone, “Batman” became a surprise hit with its premiere on ABC in 1966, a virtual symbol of ’60s kitsch. Yet West’s portrayal of the superhero and his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, ultimately made it hard for him to get other roles, and while he continued to work throughout his career, options remained limited because of his association with the character.

Read More

Summer movies

Today’s Gazette had a couple of articles that would interest MonSFFen. There was  a review of the Mummy that was a little more positive than most, and a look at the summer offerings. I’ve copied the movies that looked most appealing to our membership.  The review of the Mummy movie follows.  There are trailers on Youtube, I linked to the most recent ones.

SUMMER MOVIE SAMPLER

We give you the elevator pitches

SONY Young British actor Tom Holland stars in the latest superhero remake in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Beyond a rebooted (again) webslinger, this summer is lighter than usual on superhero fare. But as usual there are lively animated movies, some crime stories and a few R-rated ladies-night-out parties. Also in the mix are some sequels, remakes, comedies and an epic escape yarn. Release dates are subject to change:

CARS 3 (JUNE 16)

The pitch: Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) gears up for a new challenge with encouragement from slickster sponsor Mr. Sterling (Canadian Nathan Fillion).

Hit or miss: More animated fun for fans of the anthropomorphic speedy riders.

TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (JUNE 23)

The pitch: More of the same — meaning another special effects clatter and clash of the robot titans once best known as toys.

Hit or miss: The fifth in the Michael Bay series confirms that nothing succeeds like another international success.

DESPICABLE ME 3 (JUNE 30)

The pitch: Gru (Steve Carell) discovers long-lost brother Dru (also voiced by Carell) as new villain Balthazar Bratt (South Park’s Trey Parker) tries to overshadow Minions everywhere.

Hit or miss: Surrender to the cute.

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (JULY 7)

The pitch: Tom Holland impressed with his Spider-Man introduction in Captain America: Civil War. Now he’s a standalone with able assistance from Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.)

Hit or miss: Spidey’s slinging for the fences.

A GHOST STORY (JULY 7)

The pitch: Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara play a couple getting by in a secluded home when spooky things start going bump in the night.

Hit or miss: Most enjoy a good “Boo!”

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (JULY 14)

The pitch: As special effects get better, the story veers as Caesar (Andy Serkis) is on a path of revenge. Hit or miss: The appeal continues.

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (JULY 21)

The pitch: Based on the French sci-fi comic series Valérian and Laureline, the film version stars Dane DeHaan as Valerian and Cara Delevingne as Laureline. They are operatives trying save the City of a Thousand Planets, and the universe, from a dark force.

Hit or miss: Director Luc Besson happily returns to sci-fi fantasy after the success of 1997’s The Fifth Element.

 THE DARK TOWER (AUG. 4)

The pitch: Stephen King’s horror fantasy makes it to the big screen with Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey surrounded by fancy scare tactics.

Hit or miss: How can it miss?

THE MUMMY’S BAD RAP HAS BEEN UNDESERVED

 Dark Universe saga looks to be off to a solid start

THE MUMMY

★★★ 1/2 out of five Cast: Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe Director: Alex Kurtzman Duration: 1 h 50 m

UNIVERSAL PICTURES
Sofia Boutella, left, stars with Tom Cruise in The Mummy. As Princess Ahmanet, she has powers others can barely understand, including the ability to learn English and figure out 21st-century technology.

Already, The Mummy is getting a bad rap. As soon as the studio embargo dropped, the critics’ gloves came off: By Thursday morning the score at rottentomatoes.com was 23 per cent and falling.

But I’m here to tell you it’s not all bad. The Mummy is more coherent than Suicide Squad, less grim than Batman v Superman, and easily 16 times better than Fantastic Four.

That may sound like faint praise, but Universal’s first chapter in its so-called Dark Universe franchise of gods and monsters is off to a fair start. Whether it can better the DC or Marvel series remains to be seen.

The movie opens on a dour note, with an ancient prayer of resurrection, followed by a lengthy Egyptology lesson from Russell Crowe, who plays Henry, a doctor with some severe angermanagement issues. Among the information he doles out: Several thousand years ago Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) made a pact with the god of death and was mummified alive for her troubles. Pay attention: There may be a test later.

Cut (at last!) to the present day, where Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) are hoping to relieve Iraq of some of her valuable antiquities. There’s more than a little Raiders of the Lost Ark in their escapades — even Brian Tyler’s score nods to it — but if you recall that franchise you’ll realize that Cruise’s character is more Belloq than Indy.

When the lads uncover a mummy, scientist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) shows up to study it. But this is where things start to go bad. First, the plane transporting the sarcophagus — “the chick in the box,” according to the decidedly lowbrow Nick — crashes in England.

Nick goes down with the aircraft, mysteriously surviving but suddenly able to see and even converse with Chris’s chatty ghost. In another throwback moment, their interactions have a very American Werewolf in London vibe.

He’s now in a race against time to figure out why he’s still alive, whether Ahmanet has something to do with it, and what she might want from him. Henry, who looks like he might become the Nick Fury of this franchise, has managed to capture the mummy in his underground lair, but she has powers he can barely understand, including a remarkably quick ability to learn English and figure out 21st-century technology.

One of the complaints critics have with The Mummy is that it’s not nearly as terrifying as a monster movie could (or should) be. This is true — there are jump scares and a few scenes of mummies face-sucking the life out of others, but it’s all pretty bloodless. On the plus side, while Cruise continues to do his own falling-aircraft and underwater stunts, at no point does he jump on a motorcycle.

Boutella, meanwhile, is creepy and intense as Princess Ahmanet, with extra irises (don’t call her “four eyes”) and a plethora of facial markings, as if she’d walked into a New Kingdom tattoo parlour and told them to give her the Heliopolis phone book. Though I have to wonder which of The Mummy’s six writers thought it would be a good idea to have Cruise “dump” her with an it’snot-me-it’s-you speech? And wouldn’t a better line have been: “You had me at hello, but you lost me at hell”?

One of those writers is director Alex Kurtzman, whose only previous movie was 2012’s People Like Us, though he does have producing credits on everything from Star Trek to Spider-Man. He manages the pacing of this one nicely, keeping the whole thing down to a manageable hour and 50 minutes so you won’t feel you’ve been buried for millennia.

Mind you, things get a little wonky at the end, when the screenplay scrambles to set up its endless sequels. There’s a quick glimpse of a skull that would seem to suggest the Wolfman, or maybe Dracula, while another character lopes off into the sunset all but promising to return. There may even have been an Invisible Man reference, but I didn’t see it.

And to all those reviewers warning you away, I ask: How are you going to follow this franchise if you don’t sit through the compulsory Mummies 101?

2017 Mythopoeic Awards Finalists

The annual Mythopoeic Awards were first presented at Mythcon II in 1971. They came in two categories: one for fantasy fiction and one for scholarship. In 1992 the categories were increased to four: fiction was split into adult and juvenile categories, and the original scholarship category in Inklings studies was joined by one for general myth and fantasy studies, reflecting the broadening basis of Society scholarship. Fiction awards go to a work published during the previous year that best exemplifies “the spirit of the Inklings”. The scholarship awards go to books published in the previous three years. Each year the Awards are chosen by volunteer juries of Society members, then announced and presented in a ceremony at the Mythcon banquet. The actual award is a reproduction of one of the lion statues that rest outside the entrance of the New York Public Library. Inevitably, it became known as the “Aslan.”

The Mythopoeic Society has announced the finalists for the 2017 Mythopoeic Awards.

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature

  • Andrea Hairston, Will Do Magic For Small Change (Aqueduct Press, 2016)
  • Mary Robinette Kowal, Ghost Talkers (Tor, 2016)
  • Patricia A. McKillip, Kingfisher (Ace, 2016)
  • Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven Cycle: The Raven Boys (Scholastic, 2012); The Dream Thieves (Scholastic, 2013); Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Scholastic, 2014); and The Raven King (Scholastic, 2016)
  • Jo Walton, Thessaly Trilogy: The Just City (Tor, 2015); The Philosopher Kings (Tor, 2015); Necessity (Tor, 2016)

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature

  • Adam Gidwitz, The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and their Holy Dog (Dutton, 2016)
  • S. E. Grove, The Mapmakers Trilogy: The Class Sentence (Viking 2014); The Golden Specific (Viking, 2015); The Crimson Skew (Viking, 2015)
  • Bridget Hodder, The Rat Prince (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2016)
  • Grace Lin, When the Sea Turned to Silver (Little, Brown, 2016)
  • Delia Sherman, The Evil Wizard Smallbone (Candlewick, 2016)

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies

  • Lisa Coutras, Tolkien’s Theology of Beauty: Majesty, Splendor, and Transcendence in Middle Earth (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2016)
  • Sørina Higgins, ed. The Chapel of the Thorn by Charles Williams (Apocryphile Press, 2015)
  • Leslie Donovan, ed. Approaches to Teaching Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Other Works (Modern Language Association, 2015)
  • Christopher Tolkien, ed. Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, together with Sellic Spell by J.R.R. Tolkien (Houghton Mifflin, 2014)
  • Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015)

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies

  • Aisling Byrne, Otherworlds: Fantasy and History in Medieval Literature (Oxford University Press, 2015)
  • Richard Firth Green, Elf Queens and Holy Friars: Fairy Beliefs and the Medieval Church (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016)
  • Michael Levy and Farah Mendlesohn, Children’s Fantasy Literature: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2016)
  • Gabrielle Lissauer, The Tropes of Fantasy Fiction (McFarland, 2015)
  • Jack Zipes, Grimm Legacies: The Magic Spell of the Grimms’ Folk and Fairy Tales (Princeton University Press, 2014)

The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature is given to the fantasy novel, multi-volume, or single-author story collection for adults that best exemplifies the spirit of the Inklings. Books are eligible for two years after publication if not selected as a finalist during the first year of eligibility.

The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature honors books for beginning readers to age thirteen, in the tradition of The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia. Rules for eligibility are otherwise the same as for the Adult literature award.

The Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies is given to books on Tolkien, Lewis, and/or Williams that make significant contributions to Inklings scholarship. For this award, books first published during the last three years are eligible, including finalists for previous years. The Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies is given to scholarly books on other specific authors in the Inklings tradition, or to more general works on the genres of myth and fantasy. The period of eligibility is three years, as for the Inklings Studies award.

The winners will be announced during Mythcon 48, to be held from July 28-31, 2017.