Here are 10 developments of interest to fans.
(1) Is it steampunk? Restoration Hardware now features (expensive!) furniture that looks like it was made from old steamer trunks.
(2) The work is deadly but never dull. A doctor has made a career of researching human diseases by dissecting mummies:
As a pathologist, Michael Zimmerman was familiar with dead bodies, but when he was asked to autopsy a mummy for the first time, he wasn’t sure what to expect. There were a dozen layers of wrapping, which he peeled off one at a time, “like Chinese boxes,” he said. When he finished, he found the body was dark brown and hard. “It smelled like old books.”
And Ray Bradbury would have been pleased to learn Dr. Zimmerman is a believer in the Nefertiti-Tut railway myth —
It’s not hard to find mummies, he said. When modern Egyptians built railroads, so many mummies turned up during the digging that workers burned them for warmth.
— despite Mark Twain casting doubt on the story after he repeated it inThe Innocents Abroad.
(3) Who had the One Ring when? This infographic from the LotrProject Blog tracks all the ringbearers. And answers a tricky question as a bonus.
(4) I hit the replay button again and again! Nic Farey’s “Werewolves of Fandom” –
You hear him howling about your colophon
Or that your page count is too thin
He could spindle, fold or mutilate you anytime
Werewolves of Fandom again
Ah-ooooo, Werewolves of Fandom….
Starring your favorite Vegas werewolves.
(5) This may be news to U.S. readers. Next week the Canadian penny starts its long march to extinction:
On February 4, the Canadian Mint will stop circulating pennies to financial institutions and will also be encouraging them to send back any pennies that they have on hand.
The decision to phase out the penny was due to its excessive and rising cost of production relative to face value, the increased accumulation of pennies by Canadians in their households, environmental considerations, and the significant handling costs the penny imposes on retailers, financial institutions and the economy in general.
The estimated savings for taxpayers from phasing out the penny is $11 million a year.
…It is important to note that the issue of rounding will only apply to cash transactions (not debit or credit) and that there is no legal requirement to round, as the penny is still legal tender.
(6) At AbeBooks, Richard Davies offers a list of the 50 essential science fiction books.
Here are the criteria I used. One book per author, so that was hard on the big three of science fiction – Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, who each have multiple classic titles to their name. Attempt to show as many subgenres of science fiction and plot themes as possible. Include early stories that influenced the genre as a whole and launched popular themes, even if those books appear a bit dated today.
He skips alternate reality novels as not having much science in them. That’s fine, his list after all. But it’s much harder to explain how someone who’s focusing on hard and soft science stories fails to include anything by Poul Anderson. The comments section is overrun with similar complaints. I assume this bothers Davies not at all because while we’re at the AbeBooks site throwing our brickbats he’s showcasing their merchandise.
(7) Once upon a time Ray Bradbury and Gene Roddenberry did a talk at the 1968 World Science Fiction Convention.
(8) Hobnob with your fellow convention runners at Con Com 20, slated for the Seattle area on June 7-9. The event is run the Seattle WesterCon Organizing Committee (SWOC). Its program will be posted in the spring.
(9) SDSU alumnus Edward Marsh, who lives in Escondido and made his fortune in real estate, has donated a collection of science fiction books, letters and manuscripts valued at $2 million to the university. According to KPBS, “He got into science fiction working for the Church of Scientology, whose founder, L. Ron Hubbard, wrote pulp fiction in the 1930s and 1940s. SDSU hopes, one day, to become custodian of Marsh’s entire book collection, valued at over $10 million.”
(10) A movie is being made about the genesis of the Doctor Who tv series. Entertainment Weekly reports:
Hogwarts will meet Who in the forthcoming TV movie An Adventure in Space and Time, which details the creation of the 50-year-old British science-fiction show Doctor Who. It has been announced that Harry Potter actor David Bradley, who played Hogwarts caretaker Argus Filch in the beloved film series, will portray “First Doctor” William Hartnell in the TV movie.
Meanwhile, Brian Cox (The Bourne Identity) is set to portray BBC Head of Drama Sydney Newman and Jessica Raine has been cast as Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert. BBC America — which is co-producing the film with BBC Cymru Wales — will premiere the movie in the U.S. later this year.
[Thanks for these links goes out to John Mansfield, James Hay, Isaac Alexander, David Klaus, Nancy Hay, Andrew Porter, Michael J. Walsh and John King Tarpinian.]