Doctor Who Stamps Coming in 2013

Britain’s Royal Mail will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who with stamps featuring all 11 Doctors — plus selected villains.

According to the Royal Mail’s 2013 stamp calendar [PDF file], this Classic TV issue will be available March 26.

The Doctors all will be on first-class British postage stamps. But a certain postal logic has relegated the Daleks, the Ood, the Weeping Angels and the Cybermen to second-class stamps.

Collectors will be able to get the villain stamps on a sheet that also includes a first-class stamp featuring the TARDIS.

Before The Hobbit

As a reminder of the day, and possibly inspired by the story of the Indiana Jones packet with its fake stamps, John King Tarpinian pointed me to the Wikipedia entry on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Father Christmas letters:

The letters themselves were written over a period of over 20 years to entertain Tolkien’s children each Christmas. Starting in 1920 when Tolkien’s oldest son was aged three, each Christmas Tolkien would write a letter from Father Christmas about his travels and adventures. Each letter was delivered in an envelope, including North Pole stamps and postage marks as designed by Tolkien.

And the characters and doings in the letters have been said to prefigure elements of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth adventures.

Snapshots 97 Ho Ho Ho

Here are 11 developments of interest to fans.

(1) Lucy used to tease Schroeder about Beethoven’s greatness by demanding, “Did he ever get on a bubblegum card?” Now George R. R. Martin’s followers can inflict the same feelings of inadequacy on fans of other writers by asking, “Did he ever get his own brand of beer?”:

Ommegang announced this week that it is partnering with HBO to launch beers inspired by the channel’s critically acclaimed drama Game of Thrones. The first beer will be called Iron Throne Blonde Ale, and it will be launched on March 31 to coincide with the beginning of the show’s third season, the brewery announced in a statement.

(2) The year-end roundups are coming thick and fast. I’m sure you want to know what old science fiction book you should have held onto if you wanted to rake in the money this year. AbeBooks’ list of 2012’s most expensive sales lists this autographed sf novel in the top 25 —

21. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham – $14,500
First impression of the first British edition published in 1951 and inscribed ‘Yours, John Wyndham / (John Benyon Harris) 22-8-51.’ Presented in a custom clamshell case designed by binder James Tapley.

(3) The beginning of Tim Folger’s article “Crazy Far” in National Geographic sounds a bit discouraging: 

“This is not a model,” NASA physicist Les Johnson says as we gaze at the 35-foot-tall assemblage of pipes, nozzles, and shielding. “This is an honest-to-goodness nuclear rocket engine.” Once upon a time, NASA proposed to send a dozen astronauts to Mars in two spaceships, each powered by three of these engines. Marshall director Wernher von Braun presented that plan in August 1969, just two weeks after his Saturn V rocket delivered the first astronauts to the moon. He suggested November 12, 1981, as a departure date for Mars. The nuclear engines had already passed every test on the ground. They were ready to fly.

But he goes on to tout the 21st Century as the beginning of a new Age of Exploration. (Stephan Martiniere did the accompanying artwork.)

(4) And the next wave of space explorers dreams of eventually visiting places like ”The most exciting alien planets of 2012”:

We’ve got massive bodies, the tiniest solar systems ever seen and double-star systems…

(5) This item made me realize how long it’s been since I read Archie comics – I was in the barber shop waiting to get a boy’s haircut…

Archie and Jughead and George Takei … oh my!

The former Star Trek star and pop-culture fan favorite is coming to Riverdale in the pages of Archie Comics’ Kevin Keller No. 6, out today. Kevin Keller, the company’s popular gay character, is a Takei fan and the catalyst that brings the actor and his husband, Brad, into the comic.

As an advocate for LGBT affairs, just like Kevin in his comic, Takei felt his appearance would be a wonderful way to reach young people who may be isolated because of their family beliefs and communities.

(6) Grantland’s contributors have rendered their verdict on the overlooked movies of 2012, among them four sf epics which had poor — or zero — word of mouth:

Mark Lisanti knows why you didn’t see Dredd, and says that was a mistake:

It’s possible — no, likely — you missed it, that you weren’t even aware of its existence, that you wrote it off because of the vague memory of a scowling Sylvester Stallone in a nice helmet.

Sean Fennessey thinks you should see Prometheus – literally, see for its visuals, and pay no mind to the story:

I have no interest in parsing the philosophical underpinning of this movie. There are some ideas in play, of course, but they are so sloppily gathered, and the plot of the film is so goofily rigged, that it amounts to hot breath in a cold car. My advice, instead, is to buy a 140-inch television, purchase the Blu-ray of this movie, turn up the volume, grab a sodium-attack-sized bag of Rold Gold Honey Wheat Braided Twists Pretzels, and drink in the grandeur. Because Scott, after years spent filming Russell Crowe frolicking through vineyards, still knows how to deliver heart-clutching tension and eye-strafing beauty.

Dan Silver almost skipped Men in Black 3:

But (and I’m honestly still surprised, and a little embarrassed to say this) it was good! The film contained an actual plot. It wasn’t too diluted with gratuitous action set pieces. And it, shockingly, uses the tricky narrative device of time travel effectively.

And Bryan Curtis thought John Carter was OK no matter what anybody else says:

When we go to the multiplex these days, we go with an Internet opinion leader on each shoulder. There is Knowles and there is Finke. One wants us to think like a fan; one like an insurance claims adjustor. One transforms us into a 13-year-old; the other puts us in our late 50s with a raging ulcer. Ideally, there’s an ideological middle ground. But in this case, the latter voice won. When John Carter opened on March 9, it took in $8 million less than The Lorax.

(7) Didn’t get what you wanted for Christmas? Treat yourself to some new collectible books being published next year!

In May 2013 two collections by Harlan Ellison will appear for the first time in hardcover with original cover art by Leo and Diane Dillon, Gentleman Junkie and other stories of the hung-up generation and The Deadly Streets. Subterranean Press will issue both in 750 copy trade editions, and 250 signed, boxed sets.(Note: Ellison is signing just one volume of each set, though both volumes will be numbered.)

(8) Or, Centipede Press will publish Mass for Mixed Voices, a collection of Charles Beaumont stories, 18 with prefaces by top authors of fantasy and suspense, including Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Robert Bloch, Harlan Ellison, William F. Nolan, George Clayton Johnson, Ray Russell, Jerry Sohl, Dennis Etchison, Douglas Heyes, and others. The collection also features a new biographical introduction by editor Roger Anker, new artwork by David Ho, and a foreword by Beaumont’s son, Christopher – and the limited 250 copy edition is signed by editor Roger Anker, Christopher Beaumont, and cover artist David Ho.

(9) An Op-Ed writer in the LA Times says Ray Bradbury deserves to have a Metro station named for him:

We all admired him; he, to my everlasting honor and confoundment, befriended me. He was an immortal, and a generous and brilliant Angeleno. The city named a square at the downtown Central Library in his honor. I think we owe him at least a Metro station that bears the name of this man who famously didn’t drive; all of his energy and brainpower went into his formidable and hugely influential body of work.

There’s a great conversation starter. All great sf writers deserve something named after them! But what?

(10) Jordin Kare appears in a Reuters video report that speculates whether laser beaming could make power lines obsolete. He’s onscreen briefly at about :13.

(11) In the realm of practical jokes here is an unsurpassed work of art. A package was mailed to Professor Henry Jones Jr. – that would be Indiana Jones – at the University of Chicago, containing Abner Ravenwood’s journal. Its mailing label was typed on a manual typewriter, the packet contained handmade period money, and was posted from Egypt using period stamps.

[Thanks for these links goes out to John King Tarpinian, David Klaus, Steven H Silver, Michael J. Walsh and Andrew Porter.]

Seuss Secrets and Rarities

Dr. Seuss was determined some of his interests and artworks should be shared only after his death. In The Cat Behind the Hat, Caroline M. Smith makes them generally known for the first time.

For one, there was the hat collection in his secret closet.

As the book’s publisher Bob Chase told public radio listeners:

On the discovery of Geisel’s affinity for collecting hats and where they have been stored for seventy years:
“In an actual secret chamber. And the only thing that’s in that chamber that is really interesting is his hat collection. He collected hats. He traveled to 30 countries in the 1930s, if you can imagine that. Thirty countries in the 1930s. And in those travels, he collected hats. So his private hat collection as well as the artwork was stashed in this closet. It was amazing.”

Shades of Bartholomew Cubbins!

Even more interesting is the revelation of Seuss’ darker, and intensely personal paintings. As explained in the promotional copy on Amazon:

This exquisitely produced collector’s edition holds four exclusive lithographs along with a cloth-covered edition of The Cat Behind the Hat, a beautifully illustrated book that redefines Dr. Seuss as an iconic American artist. Illustrator by day, surrealist by night, Dr. Seuss created a body of little-known work that he called his “Midnight Paintings.” For sixty years, this work allowed Geisel to expand his artistic boundaries outside the confines of commercial influences and deadlines. The book exuberantly juxtaposes Geisel’s “Midnight Paintings” with his best -loved children’s books. Though he fiercely protected his “Midnight Paintings” from criticism during his lifetime, his intention all along was for these works to be seen when he was gone. This comprehensive look at the art that he created over his lifetime, along with four frame-able prints, is an eye-opening peek behind the public persona into the real story of the man who was Dr. Seuss.

The book costs a mere $180 – maybe you can work a package deal with someone who will give it to you as your Christmas, birthday and Groundhog’s Day present.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Nausea

KTVI in St. Louis reported ”The Hobbit Making Some Movie-Goers Sick” on opening night, blaming the movie’s novel 48 frames-per-second rate for giving some viewers upset tummies.

David Bratman saw The Hobbit screened in the traditional format – he says it’s the movie itself that made him sick:

I saw it in 2D, 24 fps, and I still feel as if I’ve been bludgeoned by a giant stick.

Nobody who loves the book should be wooed thereby into seeing this movie (unless, poor sods like me, they feel they have to). Nobody.

I doubt I’ll have any more to say until the bruises begin to go down.

I expect to see it in the next couple of days and will report any adverse effects… 

Stu Shiffman Update 12/22/12

Stu Shiffman, after a period of steady improvement while recovering from a stroke suffered in June, was returned to the Neurological ICU at Harborview on December 21 to determine why he was becoming less responsive.

Now doctors have learned the problem – serious, but not life-threatening – is a Methicillin-Resistant Staphlococcus Aureus infection in his throat. MSRA is a bacterium that is resistant to some but not all antibiotics. It’s treatable, localized, and not in any major organs or his brain.

Tom Whitmore also noted in his CaringBridge update, “Knowing what’s going on has given Andi some real relief. The medical team is not particularly worried about this, and that lack of worry means Andi isn’t worried.”

Amazing’s 50 Shades of Blog

Amazing Stories relaunch continues January 2 when over 50 bloggers will begin contributing to its Social Magazine Platform.

Publisher Steve Davidson has lined up personalities from all over the field to stoke discussion of an enormous array of subjects of interest to genre fans.

We’ve got authors and agents, bloggers and editors, podcasters and broadcasters; we’ve got gamers and game designers; artists and art collectors; pulpsters and indie authors; we’ve got Hugo winners, John W. Campbell Memorial Award winners, John W. Campbell Best New Writer winners, Nebula and Hugo Award winners and nominees and winners and nominees of many other awards; people who review films, people who make films; we’ve got fanboys and fangirls; we’ve got former editors of Amazing Stories, writers who’ve become synonymous with the field and writers who are just getting started; comic artists, book reviewers; traditionally published authors, self-pubbed authors and authors who’ve done it all. The response to my request for participation was phenomenal.

They’ll cover 14 principal topics: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, (lit), Film, Television, Gaming, Comics and Graphic Works, the Visual Arts, the Pulps, Audio Works, Anime, the Business of Publishing, Science and Fandom.

Here’s the starting lineup:

Cenobyte – http://www.cenobyte.ca
Mike Brotherton – http://www.mikebrotherton.com
Ricky L Brown – http://doctorfantastiques.com/author/rickbrown
Michael A Burstein – http://www.mabfan.com , http://www.bursteinbooks.com
Cait Coker – http://www.aggiescifi.wordpress.com
Johne Cook – https://twitter.com/theskypirate
Paul Cook – http://www.paulcook-sci-fi.com
Gary Dalkin – http://www.tothelastword.com
Jane Frank – http://www.wow-art.com
Jim Freund – http://www.hourwolf.com
Adam Gaffen – http://www.thekildaran.blogspot.com
Chris Garcia – http://efanzines.com/DrinkTank
Chris Gerwel – http://elflands2ndcousin.com
Tommy Hancock – http://www.allpulp.blogspot.com , http://www.prosepulp.com
Liz Henderson – http://www.true-blood.net , http://www.onceuponafansite.com , http://www.nicegirlstv.com
Samantha Henry – http://www.scifidramaqueen.com
M. D. Jackson – http://www.michaeldeanjackson.blogspot.com
Monique Jacob – http://www.moniquejacob.com
Geoffrey James – http://www.geoffreyjames.com , http://www.sorcerer.net
J. Jay Jones
Peggy Kolm – http://blog.sciencefictionbiology.com
Justin Landon – http://www.staffersbookreview.com
Andrew Liptak – http://www.andrewliptak.wordpress.com
Meilissa Lowery http://www.true-blood.net , http://www.sidcity.net , http://www.chucktv.net
Barry Malzberg
C. E. Martin – http://www.troglodad.blogspot.com , http://www.mythicaltheseries.blogspot.com
Farrell J. McGovern – http://www.can-con.org
Steve Miller – http://stevemillerreviews.blogspot.com , http://nuelow.blogspot.com/
Matt Mitrovich – http://alternatehistoryweeklyupdate.blogspot.com
Aidan Moher – http://aidanmoher.com/blog
Kevin Murray – www.kevinmurray.ca , http://www.falloutfiles.com
Ken Neth – http://nethspace.blogspot.com
Astrid Nielsch – http://webdesign.asni.net/ , http://www.asni.net , http://www.asni.net/newsletter.php , http://music.asni.net/ , http://conceptart.asni.net/
D. Nicklin-Dunbar –http://mouldysquid.wordpress.com/book-reviews
John Purcell – http://efanzines.com/Prior/index.htm
James Rogers – http://scienceismagic.com/
Diane Severson – www.divadianes.blogspot.com , http://www.starshipsofa.com/category/podcast/fact-articles/poetry-planet/ , http://www.sfpoetry.com
Doug Smith – http://www.smithwriter.com
Lesley Smith
Bill Spangler
Duane Spurlock – http://pulprack.blogspot.com , http://spurandlock.blogspot.com , http://duanespurlock.blogspot.com
Michael J. Sullivan – http://www.riyria.com
G. W. Thomas – http://www.gwthomas.org
Erin Underwood – http://www.underwords.com
Stephan Van Velzen – http://www.rantingdragon.com
Cynthia Ward – http://www.cynthiaward.com , http://www.writingtheother.com
Michael Webb – http://www.martianexpatriate.com/
Keith West – http://www.adventuresfantastic.blogspot.com , http://futurespastandpresent.blogspot.com
John M Whalen – http://johnmwhalen.wordpress.com
Ann Wilkes – http://sciencefictionmusings.blogspot.com
Karlo Yeager
Leah Zeldes – http://www.zeldes.com , http://www.thewaythefutureblogs.com , http://www.diningchicago.com/blog

The full press release follows the jump.

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Postnonapocalyptic Freebies from Nightshade

Is Nightshade Books celebrating prematurely?

Well, we can add the Mayan end of the world prophecy to the long list of things that didn’t happen. And while it’s probably no surprise to most of us that we woke up as per usual, we think it’s still worth celebrating!

Just in case, you’d better hurry to take advantage of their free ebooks giveaway:

Email StillHere@nightshadebooks.com and you’ll receive an auto response from us with a username, password and link to our download site where you’ll be able to download the .epub or .mobi files of some of our most exciting and appropriately apocalyptic titles.