The five 2020 finalists for the Prometheus Hall of Fame award for Best Classic Fiction have been released by the Libertarian Futurist Society judging committee:
“Sam Hall,” a 1953
novelette by Poul Anderson
“As Easy as A.B.C.,” a
1912 novelette by Rudyard Kipling
“The Trees,” a 1978
song by the Canadian rock group Rush (recorded as part of the group’s 1978
A Time of Changes, a 1971 novel by Robert
“Lipidleggin,” a 1979
short story by F. Paul Wilson
LFS members will receive a Prometheus Awards ballot in May.
The Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus Awards ceremony will be a centerpiece of the 2020 North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC) scheduled for August 20-23 in Columbus, OH.
LFS and NASFiC also are cooperating to bring in F. Paul Wilson (An Enemy of the State, Wheels within Wheels, Sims, the Repairman Jack series, etc.), one of only four LFS Special Prometheus Award-winners for Lifetime Achievement, as a joint guest of honor.
(1) INTERSTELLAR TBR. [Item by Olav Rokne.] In response to comet Borisov streaking
through the solar system, the Guardian invited Alastair Reynolds to talk
about his favorite books about interstellar objects. Alongside some obvious
choices, he gives shout-outs to some lesser known gems. It’s a nice little
article: “Space invaders: the best books about interstellar
… A significant triumph in recent astronomy has been the detection of gravitational waves, finally achieved by an international consortium using immensely precise (and huge) laser interferometers. But the work to reach this discovery began a century ago, and encompasses a huge cast of heroes and dreamers – and its share of failure. InBlack Hole Blues astrophysicist Janna Levin has written the definitive account of this grand quest, and it’s as insightful about the human protagonists in this story as it is about the mind-bending physics of black holes and warped spacetime….
If you’re an author, be aware of the limitations in what BookScan captures. A good publisher or agent will know BookScan numbers are useful for analyzing overall sales trends but do not reflect total sales. Be sure to point out your correct sales numbers when approaching publishers and agents.
You can also try pointing out any important sales not captured by BookScan, such as with e-books. If you’ve hit a Kindle Bestseller list, definitely mention that because it won’t be reflected in BookScan. If you’ve likewise sold a large number of books at conventions and other appearances, mention that.
And if you’re an author where BookScan captures a much lower percentage of your print sales than the 45 to 50% mentioned above, point that out. The BookScan numbers for one of the ChiZine authors represented only 20% of their total print sales in the USA. If I was this author I’d mention that to any publisher or agent I worked with. Otherwise people may assume your sales are extremely low when they aren’t.
…I am currently safe and surrounded by friends every day. Suffice to say that I am devastated beyond words; even typing all of this feels trite and artificial. I don’t think there’s a person in this community in the last five years who doesn’t know how intensely I loved him or how instrumental he was in my life, in my work, and in my happiness. 2019 has been truly one of the worst in my life, as I unfortunately separated from him in the beginning of the year, a choice I knew was necessary but yet still regret and have regretted for a long time. Love is fucking awful like that, and there is no person on this Earth I have ever loved so completely and painfully as Baize.
…Baize’s mother started a fundraiser to pay for the astronomical costs of not just the funeral, but sending his body back home to Los Angeles for the funeral. It is most important that if you decide to help out, you start here. If you are not able, a simple boost on social media is very much appreciated.
… In 2003, the Broadcast Film Critics Association took a step in that direction, creating the category “best digital acting performance” for its Critics Choice Awards. Gollum won the inaugural award, for his part in “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.” Serkis accepted the award, along with New Zealand’s Weta Digital team, which animated the character. Among nominees, Gollum beat out Yoda for “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” and Dobby from “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” But the category was a bit controversial, and didn’t return the following year — or in any future Critics Choice Awards after that.
The MTV Movie Awards also went tongue-in-cheek with its Lifetime Achievement award for a period of time, handing out the prize to characters such as Chewbacca, John Shaft, Godzilla and Jason Voorhees — but that was in the telecast’s early, 1990s life.
On The Expanse, every choice has weight. Sometimes literally. Early in the show’s compelling fourth season, a character decides to leave her spaceship home and go planetside. It’s a decision her crewmates have made multiple times before, but in Naomi Nagata’s (Dominique Tipper) case, there are special circumstances. As a Belter, Naomi was born and raised in low-gravity environments, which means that her body hasn’t built up the necessary muscle mass to endure planetary gravity. The series hasn’t lost its sense of scope since it left the SyFy channel for Amazon Prime. If anything, it’s broadened its horizons, taking in new worlds and the political strife of multiple systems. Yet a small but meaningful amount of tension is generated out of wondering if a person can walk across level ground without collapsing.
Naomi’s struggles, and the attention paid to those struggles, is emblematic of what makes The Expanse so effective. The show’s canny use of consequences ensures that its wilder sci-fi concepts exist in a context that grounds them without diminishing their impact….
Narrators: Clare Corbett, Roy McMillan, Tom Bateman, Shaheen Khan, Kristin Atherton, Patience Tomlinson
Run time: 11 hours and 39 minutes
John Marrs’ The Passengers, which follows strangers from the near-future who are locked in their self-driving cars by a murderous hacker, might be your new favorite thriller. As read by a quintet of narrators—all British, for you American listeners looking for your next pond-hopping aural hit—and scored by tempered sound effects, this novel reads as a multi-dimensional nightmare. Do we need another reason to mistrust both technology and the government? Obviously not. Do we still plan to obsessively listen? Of course! If you’re the type of reader who enjoys a truly harrowing story, Marrs’ chilling book is for you.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 9, 1960 — The Twilight Zone First aired “The Trouble with Templeton”. Written by Ernest Jack Neuman (1921 – 1998) who was an Edgar and Peabody award-winning writer and producer, it had an amazing cast as well including Brian Aherne as Booth Templeton, Pippa Scott as Laura Templeton and Sydney Pollack as Arthur Willis. The Twilight Museum has an great essay on this episode here.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 9, 1848 — Joel Chandler Harris. American journalist, fiction writer, and folklorist who is best known for his collection of Uncle Remus stories. Yes, he’s white and the stories are about the ‘Brer Rabbit’ stories from the African-American oral tradition but he’s widely accepted by all about having done these stories justice. James Weldon Johnson called them “the greatest body of folklore America has produced.” (Died 1908.)
Born December 9, 1900 — Margaret Brundage. An illustrator and painter who’s now remembered chiefly for having illustrated Weird Tales. She’s responsible for most of the covers for between 1933 and 1938. Wiki notes that L. Sprague de Camp and Clark Ashton Smith we’re several of the writers not fond of her style of illustration though other writers were. (Died 1976.)
Born December 9, 1902 — Margaret Hamilton. Most likely you’ll remember her best as The Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. She would appear later in The Invisible Woman, along with much later being in 13 Ghosts, a horror film, and a minor role in The Night Strangler, a film sequel to The Night Stalker. (Died 1985.)
Born December 9, 1911 — Don Ward. Author of H. Rider Haggard’s She: The Story Retold. More intriguingly, he ghost-wrote works credited according to ESF to both Alfred Hitchcock (Bar the Doors: Terror Stories) and Orson Welles (Invasion from Mars: Interplanetary Stories). He also worked with Theodore Sturgeon on Sturgeon’s West. (Died 1984.)
Born December 9, 1916 — Jerome M. Beatty Jr. His best-read fiction is the Matthew and Maria Looney books, a SF series for children. They were a brother and sister who live on the Moon, part of an alien civilization resident there. ISFDB lists seven novels in total across two series, one for each child. Nothing of his books including The Tunnel to Yesterday, a time travel novel, is available digitally, nor does it appear that anything is in print currently. (Died 2002.)
Born December 9, 1934 — Judi Dench, 85. M in a lot of Bond films. Aereon in The Chronicles of Riddick, Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love which is at genre adjacent, Society Lady in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Miss Avocet in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Her very first genre film in the late Sixties, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was poorly received by critics and I recall her role being a mostly nude faerie.
Born December 9, 1937 – Fandom. Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says “Fandom’s Thursday meetings in London begin, 1937 – then weekly in a teashop, now in a pub on the first Thursday of the month.”
Born December 9, 1952 — Nicki Lynch, 68. She and her husband Rich Lynch edited Mimosa which won six Best Fanzine Hugos and was nominated a total of 14 times. She and her husband have been members of WSFA, the Southern Fandom Confederation, the Chattanooga Science Fiction Association. She has also been a member of SAPS, SFPA, Myriad (Galactic Hitch Hiker), and LASFAPA. Nth Degree has a neat conversation with her and her husband about Mimosahere.
Born December 9, 1952 — Michael Dorn, 67. Best known for his role as the Klingon Worf in the Trek franchise. Dorn has appeared on-screen in more Star Trek episodes and movies as the same character than anyone else.
Born December 9, 1953 — John Malkovich, 66. I was pondering if I was going to include him then decided that Being John Malkovich which won him a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor was enough for me to include him. What a strange role that is! He also shows up in the dreadful Jonah Hex film and played Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach in the Crossbones series which is at genre adjacent. He also appeared in Mutant Chronicles, though, and there was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as well.
Born December 9, 1970 — Kevin Hearne, 49. I’ve really, really enjoyed the Iron Druid Chronicles. Though I’ll confess that I’ve not yet read the spin-off series, Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries.
…In the original film, Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman, Dan Aykroyd’s Ray Stantz, and the late Harold Ramis’ Egon Spengler investigated a spirit in the New York Public Library, where they found a similar tower in one of the basement corridors. “Symmetrical book stacking!” Ray exclaimed, like a kid opening a birthday present. “Just like the Philadelphia Mass Turbulence of 1947!”
“You’re right,” Peter replied, drolly. “No human being would stack books like this.”
In that original scene, we hear a haunting, three-note piano trill on Elmer Bernstein’s score as the three men proceed deeper into the library. Those same three notes play in the Afterlife trailer when Mr. Grooberson examines a real-life ghost trap….
… Droll, chilled out, and scarily articulate, Gibson talked about the future on television. (“It doesn’t matter how fast your modem is if you’re being shelled by ethnic separatists,” he told the BBC.) He appeared on the cover of Wired, did some corporate consulting, and met David Bowie and Debbie Harry. For a time, U2, which had based its album “Zooropa” in part on Gibson’s work, planned to scroll the entirety of “Neuromancer” on a screen above the stage during its Zoo TV tour. The plan never came to fruition, but Gibson got to know the band; the Edge showed him how to telnet. During this period, Gibson was often credited with having “predicted” the Internet. He pointed out that his noir vision of online life had little in common with the early Web. Still, he had captured a feeling—a sense of post-everything information-driven transformation—that, by the nineties, seemed to be everywhere.
As the Internet became more accessible, Gibson discovered that he wasn’t terribly interested in spending time online himself. He was fascinated, though, by the people who did. They seemed to grow hungrier for the Web the more of it they consumed. It wasn’t just the Internet; his friends seemed to be paying more attention to media in general. When new television shows premièred, they actually cared. One of them showed him an episode of “Cops,” the pioneering reality series in which camera crews sprinted alongside police officers as they apprehended suspects. Policing, as performance, could be monetized. He could feel the world’s F.Q. drifting upward….
(12) HOLODECK QUALITY
EXPERIENCE. Olav Rokne says, “Anytime
I see an article about Douglas Trumbull in the news, I’m going to read it
because the guy created the most important visuals of my childhood. I still
think the best Enterprise is the one from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”
— “‘Star Trek’ special effects expert gives talk in
… MAGI projects regular and 3D images at a rate of 120 frames per second. The standard rate at modern theaters is 24 frames per second.
Trumbull has been working on the MAGI technology for years at his home studio, where he has constructed a prototype of the MAGI Pods he hopes to one day install at public venues and movie theaters across the globe. These pods are fully enclosed, small-theater experiences featuring a hemispherical screen and cutting edge projection and sound technology.
“It’s so much like a holodeck, you wouldn’t believe it if you actually saw what we have,” Trumbull said. “In this hemispherical screen, with laser projection, and an extremely wide field of view and my frame rate, it’s like a window onto reality. It’s as close to a holodeck as we are going to get, and we could do it tomorrow, right now.”…
(13) PROPOSED INTERVENTION. A spammer is offering to help Paul Weimer fix everything wrong with File 770. Which apparently is a lot — (click for larger image)
Some of my titles are too long? (Said in the same tone as Rick in Casablanca
when he looks up from his dossier and asks, “Are my eyes really blue?”)
Meanwhile Paul wonders, why him?
There actually have been days when this blog has been run by a non-male person (like when I was hospitalized, or needed a couple days away). Did the spammers not notice, or just treat the sudden, short-lived improvement as a statistical outlier? 🙂
(14) LEARNING ABOUT FACIAL RECOGNITION. Don’t be put off by
the Harvard Gazette’s headline: “Who’s That Girl?”
Our ability to recognize faces is a complex interplay of environment, neurobiology, and contextual cues. Now a study from Harvard Medical School suggests that country-to-country variations in sociocultural dynamics — notably the degree of gender equality in each — can yield marked differences in men’s and women’s ability to recognize famous faces.
The findings, published Nov. 29 in Scientific Reports, reveal that men living in countries with high gender equality — Scandinavian and certain Northern European nations — accurately identify the faces of female celebrities nearly as well as women. Men living in countries with lower gender equality, such as India or Pakistan, fare worse than both their Scandinavian peers and women in their own country on the same task. U.S. males, the study found, fall somewhere in between, a finding that aligns closely with America’s mid-range score on the United Nations’ Gender Inequality Index.
The results are based on scores from web-based facial recognition tests of nearly 3,000 participants from the U.S. and eight other countries, and suggest that sociocultural factors can shape the ability to discern individual characteristics over broad categories. They suggest that men living in countries with low gender equality are prone to cognitive “lumping” that obscures individual differences when it comes to recognizing female faces.
Walmart Canada is apologizing after several adult-themed “ugly” Christmas sweaters — including one involving Santa and drugs — were posted for sale on its website.
…One sweater shows a bug-eyed Saint Nick and three lines of a white substance that is heavily implied to be cocaine, along with the phrase “let it snow.”
…Another featured an upside-down snowman with its carrot nose and jingle bells suggestive of genitals while another showed Santa roasting his “chestnuts” over a holiday ornamented fireplace.
(18) ON THE AVENUE. HBO dropped a new trailer for Avenue
5 with Hugh Laurie:
(19) A GRAND IDEA. Rich Horton is happy with SFWA’s latest
choice for Grand Master – however, he would be even happier if an exception
could be made to allow the addition of one more woman writer, as he
explained to his Facebook followers.
Lois McMaster Bujuld has just been named the latest SFWA Grand Master, an honor she surely deserves. She is the seventh. The first was Andre Norton, in 1984.
However, in 1983 SFWA wanted to name C. L. Moore Grand Master. Alas, she had Alzheimer’s disease, and her family declined the award in her name, stating that she would find this too confusing. (Some have suggested that her second husband’s dislike of SF contributed to this, but I don’t know that we KNOW this, and, especially after the recent revelations about John M. Ford’s case, I don’t want to make such assumptions without knowing more about it.)
Moore was an entirely deserving recipient, and in fact the list of Grand Masters seems incomplete without her. And an idea occurred to me — would it be possible for SFWA to, even at this late date, posthumously award C. L. Moore the Grand Master title?…
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster,
Olav Rokne, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, N., Michael Tolan, Contrarius, and John
King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA, Inc.) has
named Lois McMaster Bujold the 36th Damon Knight Grand Master for her
contributions to the literature of Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Lois McMaster Bujold was born in 1949, the daughter of an
engineering professor at Ohio State University, from whom she picked up her
early interest in science fiction. She now lives in Minneapolis, and has two
grown children. Her fantasy from HarperCollins includes the award-winning Chalion
series and the Sharing Knife tetralogy; her science fiction from Baen
Books features the perennially bestselling Vorkosigan Saga. Her work has
been translated into over twenty languages and has won seven Hugo Awards and
three Nebula Awards.
SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal commented:
Lois McMaster Bujold has had an undeniable influence on the field of science- fiction and fantasy. From the the Vorkosigan Saga, to the Chalion series and the Sharing Knife series, she finds new ways to explore the genre, mixing and matching everything from regency to science fiction. With dozens of books in multiple languages, while continuing to write, she is one of the most prolific authors working today. Importantly, she also serves as a role model for many writers, including me. In A Civil Campaign, she wrote, “Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself.” There is no doubt about Lois McMaster Bujold’s honor and becoming SFWA’s newest Grand Master only underlines her sterling reputation.
Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award will be presented along with the
Nebula Awards® during the annual SFWA Nebula Conference, which will run from May 28-31
and features seminars and panel discussions on the craft and business of
writing, SFWA’s annual business meeting, and receptions. During that weekend, a
mass autograph session will also take place at the Warner Center Marriott
Woodland Hills and is open to the public.
Nebula Awards®, presented annually, recognize the best works of science fiction
and fantasy published in the United States as selected by members of the
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. The first Nebula Awards® were
presented in 1966.
happens for a reason. Ghostbusters: Afterlife in theaters next summer.
In Ghostbusters: Afterlife, when a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.
HBO’s Watchmen picked up four nominations overall, including Drama Series,
Drama Actress for Regina King, Supporting Drama Actor for Tim Blake Nelson and Supporting
Drama Actress for Jean Smart.
Game of Thrones also registered four appearances on the ballot:
Drama Series, with Kit Harington up for Actor in a Drama Series, Peter Dinklage
for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, and Gwendoline Christie for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
The Critics’ Choice Television
Awards are accolades that are presented annually by the Broadcast Television
Journalists Association. They were established in 2011.
The Critics’ Choice Awards gala will
broadcast live on The CW Television Network on Sunday, January 12.
The full list of 25th Annual Critics’ Choice
Awards television nominations follows the jump.
Genre work was paid little attention in the 35th Annual Critics’ Choice Award movie nominations outside the Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie, Best Action Movie, and Best Visual Effects categories, although Joker popped up in some others, most notably a Best Actor nod for Joaquin Phoenix.
The Critics’ Choice Movie Awards is
an awards show presented annually by the American-Canadian Broadcast Film
Critics Association. Up for Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie are Ad Astra, Avengers: Endgame, Midsommar,
also made a strong showing in the Best Animated Feature category — Abominable, Frozen
II, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, I Lost My Body, Missing Link, and Toy Story
The Irishman, another gangster drama from superhero
disdainer Martin Scorsese, picked up the most film nominations with 14, including
best picture, director, acting ensemble as well as best actor (Robert De Niro)
and supporting actor (Al Pacino and Joe Pesci).
The Critics’ Choice Awards gala will broadcast live on The CW Television
Network on Sunday, January 12.
The full list of film nominations follows the jump.
(1) MCINTYRE BEQUEST. Clarion West announced in
August that they are the recipient of the
literary assets of Vonda N. McIntyre, who wished that the organization manage
her literary copyrights in perpetuity. Locus Online in an
article today reported —
She also left a bequest of $387,129 to the program, the largest single financial gift in the organization’s history: “The bequest will bolster the Clarion West endowment, strengthening our mission and ensuring our financial stability for years. Vonda’s extraordinary generosity will allow Clarion West to continue to support emerging writers for generations to come.” Janna Silverstein has joined as literary contract manager, and will advise Clarion West on how to manage “all copyright materials.”
…And while there are technically an infinite number of copies of digital files, e-books also work differently. When a library wants to buy a physical book, it pays the list price of about $12 to $14, or less if buying in bulk, plus for services like maintenance. An e-book, however, tends to be far more expensive because it’s licensed from a publisher instead of purchased outright, and the higher price typically only covers a set number of years or reads.
That means Prince’s recently released memoir “The Beautiful Ones” recently had a four-week wait for the e-book in San Francisco. Library-goers in Ohio’s Cuyahoga County were waiting 13 weeks to download Jia Tolentino’s book of essays, “Trick Mirror.”
Library e-book waits, now often longer than for hard copies, have prompted some to take their memberships to a new extreme, collecting library cards or card numbers to enable them to find the rarest or most popular books, with the shortest wait.
“We’re excited about developing the next generation of Native superhero, science fiction, and action/adventure stories,” said Rob Schmidt, owner of Blue Corn Creations. “To do that, we also need to develop the next generation of Native writers. This scholarship will help accomplish that.”
Clarion West has helped emerging writers reach for their dreams of professional careers in speculative fiction since 1971. Every summer, aspiring science fiction and fantasy writers attend the Clarion West Writers Workshop, a six-week intensive whose instructors include the best and brightest in the genre. Attendees benefit from the opportunity to hone their craft with the guidance of successful writers.
“Historically the field has reflected the same prejudices found in the culture around it, leading to proportionately fewer successful writers of color,” according to Clarion West’s vision statement. That’s why the Blue Corn Creations scholarship is a great fit with Clarion West’s mission, said Schmidt. “With it the workshop can serve another group with untapped potential: Native Americans.”
The Blue Corn Creations Scholarship for students of Native descent will help cover tuition, fees, and lodging for one student in 2020. The winner will be awarded in a blind judging to those indicating an interest on the application form.
…Blue Corn Creations and Clarion West encourage others to contribute to the scholarship fund. The goal is to establish a permanent full scholarship for students of Native American descent.
(4) BAIZE WHITE MOURNED. Mark Oshiro is going on immediate hiatus while he deals with the sudden death of his partner Baize White.
Sometimes he stood 8 feet 2 inches tall. Sometimes he lived in a garbage can. He often cited numbers and letters of the alphabet, and for nearly a half century on “Sesame Street” he was Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, opening magic doors for children on the secrets of growing up and the gentle arts of friendship.
His name was Caroll Spinney — not that many people would know it — and he was the comfortably anonymous whole-body puppeteer who, since the 1969 inception of the public television show that has nurtured untold millions of children, had portrayed the sweet-natured, canary-yellow giant bird and the misanthropic, furry-green bellyacher in the trash can outside 123 Sesame Street.
…Big Bird appeared in “The Muppet Movie” (1979) and “The Muppets Take Manhattan” (1984), and in 1985 starred in “Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird,” in which a meddlesome social worker sends him to live with “his own kind,” a family of dodos in “darkest Illinois.” He runs away, and has a cross-country adventure.
…With the impending 50th anniversary of “Sesame Street” in October 2018, Mr. Spinney left the show after his own remarkable half-century run as the embodiment of two of the most beloved characters on television and one of the last surviving staff members who had been with the show from its beginning.
Auberjonois was a prolific television actor, appearing as Paul Lewiston in 71 episodes of “Boston Legal” and as Clayton Runnymede Endicott III in ABC’s long-running sitcom “Benson” — a role that earned him an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor in a comedy in 1984. He played shape-shifter Changeling Odo in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and carried that role into video games, voicing Odo in “Harbinger” and “The Fallen.” His appearance as Judge Mantz in ABC’s “The Practice” earned him another Emmy nod for guest actor in a drama in 2001.
… Other film credits include Roy Bagley in 1976’s “King Kong” and Reverend Oliver in “The Patriot,” as well as parts in “Batman Forever,” “Eyes of Laura Mars” and “Walker.”
…Auberjonois was also known for his voice roles, particularly in 1989’s Disney Renaissance hit “The Little Mermaid,” in which he voices Chef Louis and sang the memorable “Les Poissons.” Fans of “The Princess Diaries” would recognize him as the voice of Mia Thermopolis’ father, Prince Philippe Renaldi, in an uncredited role.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 8, 1954 — The Atomic Kid premiered. It was produced by Maurice Duke and Mickey Rooney, and directed by Leslie H. Martinson. It stars Mickey Rooney, Elaine Devry and Robert Strauss. This is the film showing in 1955 at the Town Theater in Back to the Future.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 8, 1861 — Georges Méliès. Best known as a film director for A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) which he said was influenced by sources including Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon. (Died 1938.)
Born December 8, 1894 — E. C Segar. Best known as the creator of Popeye who first appeared in 1929 in Segar’s comic strip Thimble Theatre. Popeye’s first line in the strip, upon being asked if he was a sailor, was “Ja think I’m a cowboy?” J. Wellington Wimpy was another character in this strip that I’m fond of. (Died 1938.)
Born December 8, 1916 — Richard Fleischer. Starting in the early Fifties, he’s got he an impressive string of genre films as a Director — 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Fantastic Voyage (which came in second to Star Trek’s “The Menagerie” at NyCon 3 in that Hugo category), Doctor Doolittle, Soylent Green (placed third in Hugo voting), Conan The Destroyer and Red Sonja during the thirty year run of his career. (Died 2006.)
Born December 8, 1939 — Jennie Linden, 80. She’s here for being Barbara in Dr. Who and the Daleks, the 1965 non-canon film. Her next genre forays were both horror comedies, she was in A Severed Head as Georgie Hands, and she’d later be in Vampira as Angela. She’d show up in Sherlock Holmes and The Saint as well.
Born December 8, 1950 — Rick Baker, 69. Baker won the Academy Award for Best Makeup a record seven times from a record eleven nominations, beginning when he won the first award given for An American Werewolf in London. So what else is he known for? Oh, I’m not listing everything, but his first was The Thing with Two Heads and I’ll single out The Exorcist, Star Wars, The Howling which I quite love, Starman for the Starman transformation, Beast design on the Beauty and the Beast series and the first Hellboy film version.
Born December 8, 1951 — Brian Attebery, 68. If I was putting together a library of reference works right now, Attebery would be high on the list of authors at the center of my shopping list. I think The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature: From Irving to Le Guin is still essential reading and Parabolas of Science Fiction with Veronica Hollinger is very close to a Grand Unification Theory of the Genre.
Born December 8, 1953 — Kim Basinger, 66. She was the of Bond girl Domino Petachi in Never Say Never Again. After that, it’s Vicki Vale in Burton’s Batman as far as we’re tracking her. (We’re pretending My Stepmother Is an Alien never happened.) Ahhhh, Holli Would In Cool World… there’s an odd film.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Non Sequitur has Alexa working on helping you to become a better writer.
In 1907, the gloriously named Horace Newte published The master beast : being a true account of the ruthless tyranny inflicted on the British people by socialism A. D. 1888-2020, republished in 1919 as The Red Fury: Britain Under Bolshevism. Unlike the other two, Bellamy isn’t mentioned explicitly but it’s clearly a response all the same. Newte’s hero is dismayed to see socialists come to power in Britain at the start of the twentieth century, followed of course by a successful German invasion. He then sleeps from 1911 to 2020, and awakes to find a morally degenerate country where women behave with dreadful freedom. But England is then invaded again, this time by African and Chinese forces, and he escapes to France. It’s online here.
(11) A SEASON FOR GIVING. Nerds
of a Feather helps fans with their holiday shopping in a series of posts about
gift suggestions, such as — “Holiday Gift Guide: Games (All Kinds!)”. Adri
Joy’s enthusiasm about the Goose Game is contagious.
It will come as a surprise to nobody that Untitled Goose Game is my pick for a video game gift this year. This year’s most memeable game, from indie developer House House, combines elaborate stealth-based mechanics with the aesthetics of a rural English village, and puts you in the shoes (well, the webbed feet) of a horrible goose completing a number of tasks to mess with a series of villagers. Featuring four main areas for mischief which open up into an increasingly elaborate world, its a game whose puzzles are satisfying and unrepentantly sadistic, with a great flow through the “level-based” tasks and into more elaborate post-game tests. There’s also plenty of fun to be have in tasks which serve no in-game purpose apart from the pure-hearted joy of being a goose, and while this isn’t quite Breath of the Wild levels of “exploring the world because its there” content, it’s still a diversion that can be returned to even once your goose to-do is all crossed off.
Once you started writing seriously, how long did it take you to sell your first piece? What were you doing wrong in your writing in those early days?
I started writing fiction in 2004, but prior to that I had been writing non-fiction for a long time. Laboratory manuals and procedures, business documents, etc. Then I got a part-time gig writing elementary school test preparation guides for The Princeton Review. That required writing fictional reading passages. I found I liked it, and here’s where real serendipity enters the equation. Makes you wonder if Fate really exists. I wanted to write horror and sci-fi, so I attended a convention (LunaCon) in New York, where I met Odyssey Director Jeanne Cavelos. We talked, and she said I should submit something to an anthology she was working on. I had two days before the deadline. I went home and wrote like a fiend. Finished my first-ever short story and sent it to her, unedited, unproofed.
It got rejected, of course.
But she sent it back with a note saying I almost made it in, I had real talent, and I should keep writing. So I did. And a year later I made my first professional sale, a short story. The year after that, it was two pieces of flash fiction and some poems. Then another couple of short stories. I went on like that for five years, all while also working on my first novel, which was published in 2010.
In those days, I’d have to say I was doing EVERYTHING wrong! I didn’t know about using editors or beta readers. I thought you just proofed your work and the publishers edited it. I didn’t know about first or third drafts. I didn’t know how to write a cover letter. I didn’t know anyone in the business except Jeanne. Over time, I attended more conventions. Met people. Joined the Horror Writers Association and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Took some classes. Learned how to edit properly.
Is They’d Rather Be Right the worst Hugo Award winning novel of all time? I’m in the minority of readers who hated The Three-Body Problem, so that will always be in contention for my personal Worst Hugo Winner of All Time category.
(14) BONES. The New York Review of Books’ Verlyn
Klinkenborg dismisses their own question “What
Were Dinosaurs For?” while covering a selection of dino books.
…As I was reading some recent books on dinosaurs, I kept wondering, “What were dinosaurs for?” It’s a ridiculous question, and I wondered why I was wondering it. After all, dinosaurs were “for” exactly what we are “for,” what every organism has been “for” since life began. Every species that has ever lived is a successful experiment in the enterprise of living, and every species is closely kinned at the genetic level with all other species. This is harder to grasp than it seems, partly because the logic of that Satanic preposition—“for”—is so insidious, so woven through the problem of time. Teleology is the moralizing of chronology, and nowadays science tries to keep watch for even the slightest trace of it, any suggestion that evolution has a direction tending to culminate in us or in what we like to call intelligence or in any other presumably desirable end point.
PopHorror: Are you still touring with Ray Bradbury Forever (Live)?
Bill Oberst, Jr.: Yes. I’ve got a show in Atlanta next year and then I’m going to Walla Walla, Washington. I wanted to go there just so I could say Walla Walla. It’s fun. And then I’ll be performing at some libraries next year because it will be the 100th anniversary of Ray’s birth. We did it on Broadway, and we did it in Los Angeles. We did about ten performances last year, so I learned what worked and what didn’t work. My goal is to get it to the point where people who know nothing at all about Ray Bradbury, people who have never read a word of his, can say, “Wow, I got something out of that.” I’m not interested in the Wikipedia info, where he was born and what he wrote and all that.
Think about it: after we’re all gone and all the people who have known us are gone, what’s left of Tracy and Bill? What were our lives lived for? What did we stand for? What is it about us that future people can say, “Well, I don’t know anything about Tracy or Bill, but this thing they did could apply to my life.” That’s the test. In 100 years, who is going to remember you unless you have some legacy, some mark.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Darrah Chavey, Chip
Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, Nicholas Whyte, Michael
Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File
770 contributing editor of the day David Shallcross.]
The trailer dropped today for Wonder Woman 1984. In theaters
June 5, 2020.
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.
Martin Morse Wooster: Washington’s Shakespeare Theatre
has two stages to fill and produces about six plays a year on their own, so
they’re happy to stage worthwhile travelling productions from Great
Britain. Last year, they were the home
for An Inspector Calls, a play by
J.B. Priestley that has been running in London for around 20 years but was
making its first American tour.
December, the Shakespeare Theatre hosted a travelling production of The Woman in Black by Stephen
Mallatratt, based on a novel by Susan Hill. This play has been performed in London since
June 1989, and is the second longest running show in the West End (behind The Mousetrap). The American production was in Pasadena in
November and will be in New York in January, performed in a pub with beer and
pub snacks available.
There’s a reason why The Woman in Black is so popular.
It’s a highly effective and entertaining play that I was glad made its
way to Washington.
play had its origins in the late 1980s.
Robin Herford was running a small theater in a small town in England,
and had 5,000 pounds in grant money he wanted to use by the end of the year. Herford wanted a holiday production that
wasn’t A Christmas Carol or a
pantomime, and asked Stephen Mallatratt, the theatre’s resident playwright, to
come up with something that had a ghost in it and could be performed by no more
than four actors, which was the limit of the theater’s budget. Mallatratt proposed adapting The Woman inBlack, and beat the budget limitations by boiling down four
characters to two.
surprised us was that this play actually scared people,” Herford said in an
interview with the Washington Post, “Long-running
play ‘The Woman in Black’ comes to the Shakespeare Theatre Company”, “We
had thought people would like it much as they enjoy Halloween, without really
believing it. I didn’t expect people to
take a ghost story seriously, because it’s notoriously difficult to scare
people in a theater. We weren’t looking
to do that; it just sort of happened.”
story tells about Mr. Kipps, who shows up at a theater with a play based on his
experiences. The other character, who is
called “The Actor,” flips through the manuscript and says it will take five
hours to perform—longer than King Lear.
So he tells Kipps they’ll read through the manuscript; he’ll play Kipps, and
Kipps can take over all the other parts.
He shows Kipps a basket and explains how the basket can be used to stand
in for all sorts of things.
begins by bumbling and stumbling and we get several good acting jokes. Then about 15 minutes into the production we
leave our world and enter Kipps’s story.
story is that Kipps, sometime in the past, is a lawyer who is probating a will
of an old woman who lives on a huge mansion on an island that’s so remote that
it can only be reached by a causeway that floods at high tide. Kipps spends several nights on this remote
island, and learns that the island is haunted.
But who is the ghost, and what does the ghost want?
The Woman in Black
is theatre of the mind, which is very easy to do badly. This fall I saw a production by the
Washington Stage Guild of an adaptation of Charles Dickens’s Hard Times, in which we were promised
four actors would play dozens of parts.
They indeed did this but the production droned. It was an audiobook, and not a good one.
The Woman in Black
uses all the tools theatre has, including excellent use of sound. I couldn’t find a sound credit, but Kevin
Sleep did the lighting, and he was very good.
the production I saw, Daniel Easton played The Actor and Robert Goodale played
Kipps. Both were fine in their parts.
final note. If you are a novelist who is
thinking of having her books turned into audiobooks, you need to see this show.
In particular, pay close attention to the scenes involving Spider, a dog who
serves as Kipps’s companion and who doesn’t exist. The scenes with Spider were the tensest of
the evening. If you see this, think
about why the scenes with Spider were so exciting—and you might come up with
ways to make your readers more involved in the story you’re telling.
The Woman in Black is highly entertaining and I heartily recommend it.
The Woman in Black has also been the
basis for two films, most recently a 2012 production starring Daniel Radcliffe.