Galaxy Quest’s 15th Anniversary

Galaxy Quest came out in December 1999 and MTV is celebrating the fifteenth anniversary with an “oral history” quoting everyone involved — really funny stuff about how the cast was chosen and the nonstop joking between the actors.

Tim Allen as the obnoxious Captain; Alan Rickman as the humiliated thespian relegated to rubber makeup; Sigourney Weaver, an actress given nothing to do but show her cleavage; Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, the former child star. Tony Shalhoub, playing a stoner who is supposed to be the sharp chief engineer; Sam Rockwell as some guy named Guy; and many, many more. What we came away with is, in the cast and crew’s own words, the story of how the crew of the Protector came together – and how things changed as the movie grew to be the phenomenon it is today.

Justin Long, who played the nerd who knew all the inside trivia, remembers his climactic scene:

Long: It was my first film. I really didn’t know how movies were made. The shot where the ship crashes was this big crane shot. The camera was following me running through this crowd of background actors. It’s a pretty involved shot, there was smoke and all of these guys are stumbling out of the ship, and I remember Dean told me exactly where to go. We rehearsed it and then after rehearsal some of the extras could smell that I was really green. So one of them said to me, “Hey, maybe we’re buddies and when you pass by me you can give me a high five.” I had just done plays where the actors collaborate and figure things out, and I was like, “OK, yeah, high five.” So then they all saw me and descended upon on me, and we created this whole elaborate collection of handshakes and stuff. Dean calls action and the crane is going up, and I start running through and I’m high fiving, doing my business with everybody and I get up to the stage, completely missing my mark, ruining the shot. Dean, who has a very good temperament, didn’t yell, but he was like, “What the heck was that all about?” I turn around and all the extras are gone.

I was taken by friends to see the movie a week or two after it had been out. I was an immediate convert to the cause.

(Galaxy Quest managed to stay in theaters for weeks on the strength of word-of-mouth marketing. Jeffrey Katzenberg later apologized to director Dean Parisot for not advertising it properly.)

When the movie made the Hugo ballot it still wasn’t getting the respect I thought it deserved, partly because it was a good year for genre movies, but mainly because it was competing with The Matrix, the 500-lb. gorilla of sf movies. I wrote at the time –

Why are we even bothering to have an election for the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo this year? Don’t you think everyone already voted for The Matrix?

Everyone but me and you. And Brett Achorn voted for Iron Giant – after all, he worked on it. And Chris Barkley said his wife voted for Being John Malkovitch. But that’s only four of us. The Matrix already destroyed the competition at one polling place: the box office. So I’m sure the rest of the Hugo voters picked The Matrix. All the cool people, anyway. Besides, my voting for Galaxy Quest undoubtedly guaranteed another nominee will win.

Does this sort of “anticipatory rejection” sound familiar to your fannish ears? As if I thought the universe was built around me, except I’m stuck at the point farthest from the center?

However, on the night the Hugos were presented at Chicon 2000, I got the first hint things might be going my way.

[At the Hugo nominees reception] I sat down with Glen Boettcher and Nancy Mildebrandt. Glen was buoyant because Jeff Walker had designated him to accept the Hugo if The Matrix, Iron Giant or Sixth Sense won. Ten seconds after he explained that to me word passed through the room that the script writer and producer of Galaxy Quest had arrived in person, and Glen started to worry that pair would beat his three aces.

And that’s what happened. Galaxy Quest defeated the box office champions to win the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo. Writer Robert Gordon and director Dean Parisot accepted the award. Gordon spoke for what felt like five minutes – saying all the right things – before leaving the floor to Parisot who simply remarked, “This is the oddest but most entertaining event I’ve ever been to,” then walked offstage leaving the Hugo on the podium. I’m convinced that was a deliberate bit of humorous improvisation on his part. Either way, after allowing the audience to roar for a moment he came back and reclaimed his hardware.

Cosplayer’s Injuries Were From Fall

A hospitalized cosplayer sustained her injuries in a fall rather than from an attack say San Diego Harbor Police. However, the case of a 29-year-old man they arrested on unrelated charges of having sexual contact with a minor and providing her with alcohol will still be referred to the district attorney’s office.

Their findings are based on a review of surveillance camera recordings and physical evidence at the scene. The press release issued by police reports:

BACKGROUND: Shortly after 1 a.m. on Sunday, July 27, 2014, a juvenile female was found with significant injuries in the pool area of a hotel at 333 West Harbor Drive in San Diego. The juvenile female had attended Comic Con earlier in the day and still had her costume on. She was transported to a hospital for evaluation and treatment.

In connection with the case, Harbor Police arrested a 29-year-old man early Sunday morning, July 27 at the hotel. He was booked into San Diego County Jail at 11:20 a.m. on charges of sexual contact with a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The Harbor Police Investigations Unit has been investigating the incident, including the cause of the injuries to the victim.

INVESTIGATION RESULTS: After the incident, Police began a thorough investigation of the facts, including a review of footage from multiple surveillance cameras, as well as the assistance of community members and Comic Con attendees who provided extensive information and sent photographs for review. The investigation concluded with a finding that the juvenile female’s injuries were not the result of a criminal assault, and were likely the result of a fall. Her injuries, and physical evidence at the scene, were consistent with a fall from the distance of approximately six feet.

This finding does not affect the charges against the 29-year-old male, which will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office. Because this case involves a minor, no further information will be released about this incident.

According to the NBC report:

Police said the girl was climbing a gate at the Marriott Hotel after an altercation with an older man.

Police were initially hampered in their investigation by the girl’s inability to remember what happened.

[Thanks to Nancy Collins for the story.]

Top 10 Posts for July 2014

Crime and punishment could be the title of this post, though each word relates to a different event.

Cosplayer assault was a deadly serious concern at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, with parents asking the public for help in learning what happened to their hospitalized daughter, and police arresting a suspect the same day.

Unresolved charges of harassment against Jim Frenkel from last year’s WisCon proved to be a time bomb. Frenkel returned this year and in the aftermath the committee announced a ban, but under terms that provoked an uproar about the decision making process.

There was barely room to squeeze in lighter material, such as the July 4 story about three fans who skipped the last day of the first Worldcon and ended up seeing Lou Gehrig make his retirement speech.

1. Jim Frenkel Banned By WisCon
2. The Comic-Con Police Blotter
3. Tor.com Yanks MZB Birthday Tribute
4. Nominee Withdraws From 2014 World Fantasy Award
5. Today’s Birthday Boy 7/7
6. Are You A Kefuffleholic?
7. Breendoggle History Wiki
8. On This Day In History 7/4
9. Elise Matthesen Speaks Out About WisCon
10. SF’s Second Best Novels

Makeup Wizard Dick Smith Dies

Dick SmithOscar-winning makeup artist Dick Smith died July 31 at the age of 92. Best known for realistically aging Marlon Brando in The Godfather and F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus (sharing an Academy Award for the latter) he also worked on genre features such as The Exorcist, Scanners, Altered States and The Hunger , and on several episodes of the Dark Shadows TV series.

Smith received an honorary Governor’s Academy Award for his contributions to the field in 2012, which was presented by his protégé Rick Baker. This year he received the Makeup Artists Lifetime Achievement Award.

Earlier in his career he scored a Primetime Emmy for his work on Hal Holbrook’s Mark Twain Tonight! (1967).

Warner Bros. Options McCaffrey’s Dragonriders

Cover of 1968 edition of Dragonflight.

Cover of 1968 edition of Dragonflight.

Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonrider stories may finally reach the big screen now that Warner Bros. has optioned the film rights for the 22-book series.

As you know, Bob

The first book was published in 1968, and the focus is on an elite group of warriors who take to the skies on the backs of giant, fire-breathing dragons with telepathic powers.

Reportedly behind the deal is Warner production executive Drew Crevello, who came to the studio from Fox two months ago.

It has been three years since the last major announcement about the series’ movie prospects, when a scriptwriter was named for a Copperheart Studios production.

[Thanks to Robert Whitaker Sirignano for the story.]

Paris in 2023 Worldcon Bid Announced

Paris in 2023

Paris in 2023

It’s official: a committee of French and UK fans are bidding to host the 2023 Worldcon in Paris.

Interest in the idea of a Worldcon in France has been growing since 2009 and last year its proponents started sending up trial balloons in social media, hints that a bid was on the way.

Now the chair of the bidding committee, Cécile Reyer, has sent a press release saying they intend to launch at Loncon 3, just two weeks away:

I am pleased to announce the formation of Paris in 2023, a Worldcon bid to host the 81st World Science Fiction Convention in Paris, France in 2023. We will be launching our bid at this year’s Worldcon, Loncon3 in London, where we will have information table in the Fan Village.

We strongly believe that Europe has the fannish resources and facilities to host more Worldcons, and with Loncon 3 being held in London this year together with bids for Helsinki in 2017, and Dublin in 2019 we feel that France would be an ideal location for 2023.

Our vision is to run a family friendly Worldcon and we have chosen the dates of Thursday 3rd August to Monday 7th August 2023, and have preliminarily selected the convention  facilities at Disneyland Paris as a possible venue to host the convention.

At this early stage in our bid the committee comprises a small group of Anglo-French fans, but as time goes on we wish to grow and add international expertise from fans from all over Europe, the USA and the rest of the world.

Paris in 2023 will be voted on at the 2021 Worldcon, the location of which has yet to be determined. Further information about our bid can be found on our website at:  http://parisin2023.org/

The members of the bid committee are: Chair: Cécile Reyer (France); General Committee: Léandre Boulez (France); Clarisse Lamarque (France); Pierre Messiaen (France); Jonjo (Wales); and Sharon Lewis-Jones (England).

There’s precedent for the idea of holding a Worldcon at Disneyland Paris, mixing Mickey Mouse and Hugo Gernsback. Three worldcons have been held across the street from Disneyland (L.A.con II, III and IV), and the Orlando in 2015 bid wanted to host the con in a DisneyWorld hotel.

I suppose the only obvious misstep in this launch is that the French language webpage is “still under construction.”

The bid also has a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.

How I’m Voting in the Best Novella Category

All five of the 2014 Best Novella Nominees rank above No Award on my Hugo ballot, which is saying something this year. Nearly all of them succeed on their own terms and it’s easy to see why each story has its fans.

(5) “Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)

This is the first of the Bob Howard “Laundry” adventures I’ve ever read. Stross has written many stories in this series, including several novels, and it’s quite popular. So why would a yarn with that pedigree land fifth on my ballot? Because I don’t vote Hugos to stories that make me want to throw up.

In the middle of this Lovecraftian parody/espionage tale there’s a confrontation with a monster that details a hideously graphic sexual violation.

Ordinarily I would have clocked out of the story at that point. I abandoned Paolo Bacigalupi’s Windup Girl when a scene struck me as outside the bounds of entertainment, and it was far less offensive. Yet I couldn’t shake off the fanzine fan ethic that says – don’t review stuff you haven’t read. So I finished “Equoid.”

Even apart from that dealbreaker, Stross’ sustained cleverness is almost overwhelming. It’s like being on a panel with David Brin, a constant flow of truly inventive ideas that nevertheless focus attention on the author more than the subject. However, there was one thing I truly enjoyed — the parallels drawn between bureaucratic infighting and action in the field. That definitely qualified as a “truth said in jest.”

(4) “The Chaplain’s Legacy” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)

The science fiction field tends to be hostile to religious faith, so it’s rare to find a good exploration of that topic in the genre. Torgersen’s characters begin at several different points on the topography of belief. He draws each one to a resolution that feels genuine, which is not easy to do. Otherwise, this is a linear, action-driven space opera that would have fit comfortably in Astounding (and evidently still fits in Analog today). Only fourth place for this effort because the writing style is rather basic.

(3) The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells (Privateer Press)

Dan Wells’ story has an even higher body count than “Equoid” but confines itself to regular barroom and battlefield morbidity. The protagonist has a technology-related superpower that leads to a great military career though with many a pitfall. His life story is told out of chronological order, something Wells carries off very well – and the choice for the last segment is completely satisfying. A professionally impressive work, though one that isn’t much fun because the protagonist is psychotic.

(2) Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press)

The other day I read an editor promising her readers “gorgeous prose,” and Valente is an author who supplies that in abundance. In this novella she reweaves the traditional Snow White fairy tale as the life story of a child of a wealthy miner and a Crow woman, told in frontier diction — perhaps not the same as Charles Portis’ True Grit, though it came to mind, and absolutely without a trace of humor. The protagonist is an abused child inevitably trapped by a desire to please her parents. Throughout her life she copes with all the racism and sexism the 19th century has to offer. The historical realism (indeed, some of these details come from the Hearst family) makes the story feel like a duty to read.

The story is essentially a series of episodes that hold together because the reader knows the fairy tale. Otherwise the experience would be comparable to reading Harlan Ellison’s “The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore.” But that’s a short story. When I reached the point in Six-Gun Snow White of asking “Will this be over soon?” there were 80 more pages to go.

(1) “Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013)

“Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages is by far the most entertaining and slickest written story nominated in this category. The cleverness, use of dialect and diction, and the awareness of social issues noted in the competition are all present here but remain in balance with storytelling and characterization.

There is one drawback. It’s not science fiction, and it’s only fantasy in a very general sense. Now when I was a lad I might have felt obligated to defend the purity of the Hugo Award against incursions of popular mainstream fiction. But this year, when so many games were played to get things on the final ballot, I refuse to be stopped from voting for what I regard as the best story in the category.

Cosplayer Assault Update

Police are continuing to investigate the July 28 attack that left a teen cosplayer unconscious by the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina pool on Harbor Drive. The San Diego Union-Tribune’s story names the person arrested but says police are still trying to determine who inflicted her injuries.

Police determined she had been with a man she knew most of the day, and was with him until about 11 p.m. when a party they went to in one of the hotel’s rooms was broken up after a noise complaint, Rakos said. That man, identified as Justin Kalior, was later arrested at the hotel.

He was booked into jail on suspicion of sexual contact with a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was not arrested on assault charges.

“We really want to determine who is responsible for her injuries and we are still investigating,” Rakos said.

The San Diego NBC affiliate also has a video report with quotes from the cosplayer’s mother, here.