Abrams to Direct Next Star Wars Movie

J. J. Abrams will direct the first post-Lucas Star Wars movie, Episode VII, reports Geeks of Doom (and every other sf blog, now including mine…)

What studio doesn’t want Abrams’ golden touch for its franchise after all he’s done for Star Trek and Mission: Impossible?

What’s more, he has great history with Disney, Star Wars’ new owner and owner of ABC which aired Abrams’ series Alias and Lost.

Looking into the far future, I wonder if Abrams will someday team with another super-multiple-franchise director like Spielberg and Lucas teamed to make Indiana Jones? What would we get if Abrams and Peter Jackson ever joined forces?

A Century of Snapshots

Here are 9 developments of interest to fans:

(1) The original Batmobile sold for $4.6 million over the weekend, quashing all doubters:

Others pointed out, though, that many imitation Batmobiles had been built over the years, a good number of them virtually indistinguishable from the original. That raised the question of whether collectors would be willing to pay a huge sum for this Batmobile simply because it was the first.

Rick Champagne, who owns a logistics company in Tempe, Ariz., was very willing. He identified himself as the buyer in an interview with Speed TV immediately after the sale, and his name was confirmed by a representative for Barrett-Jackson.

He told Speed that the car would go in his living room.

(2) Libraries remain important for a variety of reasons according to “Library Services in the Digital Age,” a report by the Pew ResearchCenter’s Internet & American Life Project:

Based on “a survey of 2,252 Americans ages 16 and above” conducted between October 15 and November 10 of last year, the Pew report assures us that, even in the digital age, libraries continue to serve a variety of functions, with nearly 60% of respondents having had some kind of interaction with a library in the last 12 months, and 91% saying that “public libraries are important to their communities.”

As for the way these numbers break down, the vast majority of patrons (73%) still visit libraries to browse the shelves and borrow print books. In contrast, only 26% use library computers or WiFi connections to go online.

That’s not to say that digital services are insignificant; 77% of those surveyed by Pew said it was “very important” for libraries to provide free access to computers and the Internet, numbers that go up considerably in black (92%) and Latino (86%) communities.

(3) Here’s a nostalgic collection of photos of Robert Bloch at Wisconsin in History.

(4) A Kickstarter fundraiser is collecting donations to restore Paramount’s duplicate Enterprise D bridge and “make it a Fully Interactive, Simulator available for Display, Parties, Movie Showings, Fundraising, Charities like HABITAT FOR HUMANITY and MAKE A WISH, Fan Films, as well as newly created interactive education ‘Missions’ so entire classrooms of students can steer the Enterprise to other planets, galaxies and more!”

(5) Some people have a gift. David Levine stars in a 15-minute YouTube video of his story "Letter to the Editor"

He’s Dr. Talon, Evil Genius and implacable foe of Ultimate Man (“who is, by the way, an illegal immigrant!”). The story is part of John Joseph Adams’s forthcoming anthology The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination due out on February 19, and available for pre-order in hardcover, trade paperback, ebook, and audio formats.

And don’t forget to visit David’s new website.

(6) If there are a few issues of Omni you never got around to reading, like maybe all of them, note that the entire run of the magazine is posted at the Internet Archive. (Via Giant Freakin Robot.)

(7) We demand the spotlight and also the power to remain invisible. Alexandra Petri in the Washington Post comments on this human paradox:

There is a difference between privacy and obscurity. No one wants obscurity. This is why we complain to Wikipedia about their unfair treatment of us. “But there’s no article on you at all,” Wikipedia says. “Precisely!” we bellow. Obscurity is easy enough to cultivate. People do not care to see pictures of us or our trip to Guam, no matter how vigorously we share them. We are not seen, even when we want to be. They stay off our lawn because of their total and wondrous indifference to our lives. But we want both: we want people to know who we are and care about us and the wonderful things we do and exciting contributions we make to charities, but not trample through our lawns and ruin our parties. That is what we mean by privacy: the ability to be seen only when we want to be seen, at the angles that flatter. That is why privacy is much rarer than obscurity.

(8) Ed Green is not the star of this video project.

[YouTube]

But he’s in there. Don’t blink.

(9) John Scalzi apparently has no plans to start writing in 19th-century Russian or starve in a garret just to please critics of his literary prowess:

Occasionally I’ve had people gripe that my books are explicitly commercial, which they don’t like, and that’s fine. But I’ve also had people gripe that I’m a sell out because of that aspect of the books. Those people I look at like they’ve turned into a farting fungus. Dudes: I intentionally write approachable books designed to sell in large numbers, constructed to make that goal as easy to achieve as possible. That’s not selling out, that’s the actual plan.

[Thanks for these links goes out to David Klaus, Andrew Porter and John King Tarpinian.]

2013 BSFA Award Nominees

The British Science Fiction Association has released the 2013 shortlist for the BSFA Awards.

Best Novel
Dark Eden by Chris Beckett (Corvus)
Empty Space: a Haunting by M. John Harrison (Gollancz)
Intrusion by Ken Macleod (Orbit)
Jack Glass by Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)

Best Short Story
Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld #69)
“The Flight of the Ravens” by Chris Butler (Immersion Press)
Song of the body Cartographer” by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (Phillipines Genre Stories)
“Limited Edition” by Tim Maughan (1.3, Arc Magazine)
Three Moments of an Explosion” by China Mieville (Rejectamentalist Manifesto)
“Adrift on the Sea of Rains” by Ian Sales (Whippleshield Books)

Best Artwork
Ben Baldwin for the cover of Dark Currents (Newcon Press)
Blacksheep for the cover of Adam Roberts’s Jack Glass (Gollancz)
Dominic Harman for the cover of Eric Brown’s Helix Wars (Rebellion)
Joey Hifi for the cover of Simon Morden’s Thy Kingdom Come (Jurassic London)
Si Scott for the cover artwork for Chris Beckett’s Dark Eden (Corvus)

Best Non-Fiction
“The Complexity of the Humble Space Suit” by Karen Burnham (Rocket Science, Mutation Press)
The Widening Gyre” by Paul Kincaid (Los Angeles Review of Books)
The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature by Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn (Cambridge University Press)
The Shortlist Project by Maureen Kincaid Speller
The World SF Blog, Chief Editor Lavie Tidhar

The winners will be announced at EightSquared, the 2013 Eastercon.

Michael Winner (1935-2013)

Michael Winner: film director, writer and producer; died January 21, aged 77. He directed two genre movies: The Nightcomers (1971, a prequel to Henry James’ novel Turn of the Screw) and The Sentinel (1977).

[Thanks to Steve Green for the story.]

Ed Kramer Petitions CT Supreme Court

Although Ed Kramer lost an appeal in December to block his extradition to Georgia, he’s found a way to extend the contest one more round. Kramer petitioned Connecticut’s Supreme Court for certification, asking it to review the lower court’s decision.

That document was filed Dec. 19 and alleges that “the extradition documents provided by the demanding state of Georgia were facially insufficient, where those documents do not state an express finding of ‘probable cause,’ but instead are based on ‘sufficient cause.'”

Filed by attorney Susan M. Hankins, it posits that the appellate court erred in deeming Kramer a fugitive in the first place.

Due to Kramer’s “medical issues,” it said, “the court in (Gwinnett) accorded the petitioner unilateral control over further proceedings in the demanding state.”

A Connecticut assistant attorney general has filed in opposition, and requested an expedited proceeding.

Dragon*Con founder Kramer is accused of molesting three boys in Gwinnett, GA between 1996 and 2000. He was apprehended in Connecticut in 2011 in circumstances which resulted in his Georgia bond being revoked. The Gwinett County District Attorney has been trying to bring him back ever since.

Amazing Stories Launches Blog

Steve Davidson, The Crotchety Old Fan and impresario of the revived Amazing Stories, unveiled the new Amazing Stories blog on January 21.

Sixty fans, authors, artists, editors and bloggers will be contributing articles on science fiction, fantasy and horror literature and its presence in all media.

All contents of Amazing Stories are free. Membership is also free: members may participate in the discussion, share information and engage in many other familiar social networking activities.

The members of the Amazing Stories Blog Team are: Cenobyte, Karen G. Anderson, Mike Brotherton, Ricky L. Brown, Michael A. Burstein, Catherine Coker, Johne Cook, Paul Cook, Gary Dalkin, Jane Frank, Adria K. Fraser,  Jim Freund, Fran Friel, Adam Gaffen, Chris Garcia, Chris Gerwel, Tommy Hancock, Liz Henderson, Samantha Henry, M.D. Jackson, Monique Jacob, Geoffrey James, J. Jay Jones, Daniel M. Kimmel, Peggy Kolm, Justin Landon, Andrew Liptak, Bob Lock, Melissa Lowery, Barry Malzberg, C. E. Martin, Farrell J. McGovern, Steve Miller, Matt Mitrovich, Aidan Moher, Kevin Murray, Ken Neth, Astrid Nielsch, D. Nicklin-Dunbar, James Palmer, John Purcell, James Rogers, Felicity Savage, Diane Severson, Steve H Silver, J. Simpson, Douglas Smith, Lesley Smith, Bill Spangler, Duane Spurlock, Michael J. Sullivan, G. W. Thomas, Erin Underwood, Stephan Van Velzen, Cynthia Ward, Michael Webb, Keith West, John M. Whalen, Karlo Yeager, and Leah A. Zeldes.

Snapshots 99 Bottles of Beer
on the Wall

Here are 8 developments of interest to fans.

(1) If not for Dr. Martin Luther King, Nichelle Nichols would have abandoned Star Trek and the role of Uhura. Her reminiscence about their encounter is quoted on Dangerous Minds:

“Yes, Ms. Nichols, I am that fan. I am your best fan, your greatest fan, and my family are your greatest fans…. We admire you greatly ….And the manner in which you’ve created this role has dignity….”

I said “Dr. King, thank you so much. I really am going to miss my co-stars.” He said, dead serious, “What are you talking about?” I said, “I’m leaving Star Trek,” He said, “You cannot. You cannot!”

I was taken aback. He said, “Don’t you understand what this man has achieved? For the first time on television we will be seen as we should be seen every day – as intelligent, quality, beautiful people who can sing, dance, but who can also go into space, who can be lawyers, who can be teachers, who can be professors, and yet you don’t see it on television – until now….”

(2) The Locus opinion survey of the best short sf of the 20th  and 21st Centuries (asking voters to rank the top novellas, novelettes, and short stories of each) certainly puts Ted Chiang in the spotlight. His fiction came in at the top of the poll in 3 of the 6 categories.

I never expected the results to match my preferences, so I was pleasantly surprised by the Best Novelette (20th Century) category where I agreed with almost everything that finished in the top 10. Though I’d dump “Bicentennial Man” for sure.

10 Best Novelettes from the 20th Century:

  1. Daniel Keyes, “Flowers for Algernon” (1959)
  2. Isaac Asimov, “Nightfall” (1941)
  3. Roger Zelazny, “A Rose for Ecclesiastes” (1963)
  4. Isaac Asimov, “The Bicentennial Man” (1976)
  5. George R. R. Martin, “Sandkings” (1979)
  6. Alfred Bester, “Fondly Fahrenheit” (1954)
  7. Harlan Ellison, “A Boy and His Dog” (1969)
  8. Greg Bear, “Blood Music” (1983)
  9. Octavia E. Butler, “Bloodchild” (1984)
  10. Tom Godwin, “The Cold Equations” (1954)

(3) David Klaus reports, “Fans are building a full-sized, you-could-walk-in-it model (which even George Lucas himself never built for any film or theme-park attraction) of the Millennium Falcon.”

As Chris Lee explains his project:

This is a quest to build the ultimate Star Wars prop: a 1:1 scale ESB/ANH hybrid Millennium Falcon with complete, correctly scaled interior. Yes, I have completely lost my mind, just like most of my friends and family say. Except for those close Star Wars fan friends, who say “cool, can I help?”.

(4) Corey Kilgannon’s excellent article for the New York Times about bookseller Ben McFall points out that a fine bookstore is about relationships as much as inventory:

Mr. McFall is the dean of the clerks and the institutional memory of the fiction section, where he sorts, prices and shelves hundreds of books a day. And he is often the one pulling books off the shelves for customers….

Back at his stall, he resumed his incessant sorting and culling of books that are carted over nonstop from the buying counter in the rear of the store.

There, the buyers — headed by the Strand’s owner, Fred Bass, 84, whose father, Benjamin Bass, opened the store in 1927 — acquire books all day long and pass all the fiction to Mr. McFall’s book-strewn nook a few shelves away.

“I like this spot because I can hear Fred but he can’t hear me,” the soft-spoken and unflappable Mr. McFall said. “That’s how I like it, because I like to say what I think.” …

Mr. McFall said he had spurned offers to manage other bookstores, and added, “I’m perfectly willing to sell low-end dresses here if it means keeping the Strand in business.”

(5) Thunder Child’s Steve Vertlieb reports recent Rondo Award “Monster Kid Hall Of Fame” recipient George Stover has been has been hospitalized with a life threatening blood clot. “He was admitted to the intensive care unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Baltimore with a blood clot that began in his leg, and then progressed to his lungs. He’s on blood thinners, and is being closely monitored by the hospital staff. George is one of the nicest, most gentle souls you’d ever want to meet. Prayers on his behalf from his friends and admirers around the country would be deeply appreciated.” Vertlieb is running updates on Facebook.

(6) Everyone is sending me the link to the BBC news magazine article about Jim C. Hines. Yes, plenty of sf book covers feature striking or provoctive images of women. And yes, when a bald, pasty-faced, middle-aged white guy assumes the poses one sees women depicted in on some of those book covers, they do look ridiculous. But if he was posing as Miles Vorkosigan or Conan the Barbarian he would look ridiculous, too. So I don’t know that I’d depend on that as a true test of whether the covers are sexist. What has certainly been proved is that he’s a genius at getting people to look at his blog.

(7) James Bacon criticizes the removal of Alan Moore’s Neonomicon comic book series from a North Carolina county library system in a post for Forbidden Planet, a controversy documented by The Guardian in a December article:

“She (my 14-year-old) came into my living room and asked me what a certain word meant, and I said, ‘Honey, where did you hear that word?’ I said, ‘That’s a nasty word. We don’t use that in the house,” mother Carrie Gaske told local news broadcaster WSPA in June. Gaske went on to file a challenge to the novel over its “sexually graphic” images.

Her daughter had borrowed the book from the adult section of the library, using an adult card, according to WSPA. A committee then voted to keep the book on shelves, WSPA reported, but their decision has been overruled by the library’s executive director Beverly James, who “did not feel the book’s content was appropriate for the library system’s collection”.

[Thanks for these links goes out to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter and David Klaus.]

Roger Waddington Passing Noted

Roger Waddington died July 23, 2012 at York Hospital in the U.K at the age of 66.

Roger was an active fanzine fan for nearly forty years. I first encountered his name in the lettercolumn of Ed Connor’s SF Echo, published in the 1970s. He wrote some locs to my own zines as well.

Roger remained in touch with fanzine fandom through the 1990s and later via Mimosa and Bento.

[Thanks to Dave Rowe for the story.]

Rowe: Appreciation for Tolkien Society Founder

By Dave Rowe: Keith Armstrong-Bridges died on Friday January 11th.

He’d had an operation for a new heart valve which was working perfectly but the tissue round it was dying. The family were told he could die at any moment with no idea when.  He finally got back home on the 10th and was tired but very happy.

To know Keith was to love him.  A large, rotund fellow, he was always smiling and a laugh was never far from him. The fannish histories will show he was responsible for starting The Tolkien Society. At the start-up meeting at Loncon in 1970 he didn’t say “this is what the society is going to do,” instead he asked those present what sort of society they wanted.

But what will always be a great memory was the once-a-month get-togethers at the Armstrong-Bridges’ home. Just talking, eating and playing board games overnight. Beautiful friendships, all accommodated by Keith and Jill.