Kickstarter Tags Amazing Stories Campaign as “A Project We Love”

With just 19 hours remaining in the “Return of Amazing Stories as a Print Magazine” campaign, Kickstarter has selected it as a “Project We Love,” a notable project to be promoted to Kickstarter Followers.

It’s a welcome, last-minute push because at this writing Steve Davison’s appeal has raised only $18,492 of its $30,000 goal.

Visit the Amazing Stories campaign here to find out why it was selected, and help Amazing Stories reach its goals.

Below is Kickstarter’s message:

Congratulations!

We’re huge fans of your project and it’s now being featured as a Project We Love on Kickstarter. Don’t worry about creating any badges or banners (seriously), we’ve added a neat little one right on your project image and project page.

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #28

Martin Luther King and 2001: A Space Odyssey, Plus 50

By Chris M. Barkley:

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967

If anyone understands it on the first viewing, we’ve failed in our intention.
Director Stanley Kubrick on 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968.

Fifty years ago today, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, while attempting to support the city’s sanitation workers’ strike for better wages and working conditions.

Two days earlier, the world premiere of Stanley Kubrick’s visionary science fiction film, 2001: A Space Odyssey was held at the Uptown Theatre in Washington, D.C.

One event nearly shattered the United States and the other marked a seismic occurrence in film history. Both still continue to resonate and shape our lives to this day.

April 4, 1968 was a Thursday. I was in the sixth grade, attending a Catholic parochial school, St. Francis de Sales. I don’t remember seeing any ads about 2001 during that period of time. The main news of that day, that week, as a matter of fact, was the assassination of Dr. King. President Lyndon Johnson urged the populace remain calm.

That Saturday, the Cincinnati Reds announced that the Opening Day parade and game were postponed. The mayor declared a sunset to sunup curfew for all citizens. Rioting erupted in urban areas all over the country, including Cincinnati. In Avondale, a neighborhood a few miles away from our home, the entire shopping district was destroyed. Two were killed. Ironically, the only thing left standing was a bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln nearby.

In the meantime, 2001 opened across the country a few weeks later to mixed reviews. Variety’s Robert B. Frederik proclaimed that it was not a cinematic landmark, claiming, “2001 lacks dramatic appeal to a large degree and only conveys suspense after the halfway mark. Despite the enormous technical staff involved in making the film, it is almost entirely one man’s conception and Kubrick must receive all the praise – and take all the blame.”

Pauline Kael, one of the premiere film critics of the mid-20th century, said, “It has the dreamy somewhere-over-the-rainbow appeal of a new vision of heaven. 2001 is a celebration of cop-out. It says man is just a tiny nothing on the stairway to paradise, something better is coming, and it’s all out of your hands anyway. There’s an intelligence out there in space controlling your destiny from ape to angel, so just follow the slab. Drop up.”

Roger Ebert, an up and coming film reviewer at the Chicago Sun-Times (and ardent, die-hard sf fan as it turned out), was tad more perceptive when he stated, in a five-star review, “The fascinating thing about this film is that it fails on the human level but succeeds magnificently on a cosmic scale. Kubrick’s universe, and the space ships he constructed to explore it, are simply out of scale with human concerns. The ships are perfect, impersonal machines which venture from one planet to another, and if men are tucked away somewhere inside them, then they get there too.”

In the spring of 1968, I was mostly oblivious to 2001. I was mainly more concerned with surviving the seventh-grade landscape, in which dodging bullies, doing homework, baseball, meeting my parent’s expectations reading and watching as many movies and consume as much television as possible.. I was also being outfitted with a series of glasses as my myopia decreased the acuity of my eyesight.

Doctor King’s message of non-violence was a sound theory to me at the time. The problem was that the other children I went to school with or were living in my neighborhood were more interested in acting like typical adolescent kids than pondering the philosophical mysteries of being a better person.

Eventually, film was a welcome diversion. Although I missed 2001 on its first theatrical release, I was more than ready in 1974, when it came back to theaters for a limited run in its original 70MM form.

Nothing prepared me for the totally immersive experience of the widescreen presentation. I count seeing 2001 for the first time one of the most influential and best film experiences of my life. From the stunning beauty and grand vistas of the African veldt to the eerily accurate rendering of the lunar surface (15 months before the real deal) to beyond the stargate, I was completely captivated.

What is also remarkable is that all of the makeup, ship models, stunts and special effects were all physical or manmade and not computer generated.

Beyond feeling that I had experienced something transcendental (without the aid of any recreational drugs, mind you), I did not know what to make of my first viewing of 2001. To me, it is completely open to a number of interpretations which is its greatest strength and exactly what Stanley Kubrick in mind.

Kubrick, in an interview with Playboy magazine said, “You’re free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of the film—and such speculation is one indication that it has succeeded in gripping the audience at a deep level—but I don’t want to spell out a verbal road map for 2001 that every viewer will feel obligated to pursue or else fear he’s missed the point.”

When quizzed on the subject, Arthur C. Clarke gleefully recommended people read his novelization (which is still in print, BTW) of the film, which in turn contained substantial changes from the film narrative and further clouded the issue of whose version of the story is more “true”.

Yesterday, I took time out to watch a 2007 dvd reissue of 2001 in a way that I have never attempted before with any other movie I own; with the audio commentary on. The lead actors of the film, Keir Dullea (David Bowman) and Gary Lockwood (Frank Poole) provided a fascinating play-by-play of their involvement with their part in the film and other peripheral views they witnessed firsthand. Since I have seen the movie eight or nine times, I could readily follow the action as they talked. Of particular interest are their descriptions of various scenes such as Lockwood’s jog around the centrifuge of Discovery’s spaceship cabin and Dullea’s rather perilous reentry into the ship after being locked out by HAL.

Another note; Stanley Kubrick showed his true genius in the casting Lockwood and Dullea; the former was a California born athlete and television supporting actor and the latter a film veteran with the attitude of a New York stage actor. Both are approximately the same age (81 as of this column) and remain friends to this day. Although they come from completely different backgrounds and acting styles, they found that each complemented the other perfectly in their roles of astronauts.

Martin Luther King Jr. never had the opportunity to see 2001: A Space Odyssey. Frankly, I can’t see it as being the kind of film he would be interested in seeing. But, if he had done so, I think he would have focused in on one of the most famous moments in the film, the ‘match cut’ as main ape character, Moon-Watcher, learns to wield an animal bone as a weapon and subsequently throws it up in the air, only to come down through the frame and transition four million years later as a nuclear armed satellite orbiting the earth.

Most film critics over the decades have seen interpreted particular moment as the advancement of the human species from its primitive roots to a technological extreme.

Canadian sf novelist Robert J. Sawyer had a different view. Speaking in the Canadian documentary 2001 and Beyond, he saw the film cut from a bone to a nuclear weapons platform as,  “…what we see is not how far we’ve leaped ahead, what we see is that today, ‘2001’, and four million years ago on the African veldt, it’s exactly the same—the power of mankind is the power of its weapons. It’s a continuation, not a discontinuity in that jump.”

I am quite sure that if Doctor King had seen 2001, he would have seen that connection, that our violent past and present might be transcended some day. He might have not agreed with the method, especially if it was implied that it would happen at the hands (or appendages) of extraterrestrial life. He would have preferred that mankind was more than willing and capable of achieving that on our own.

Today, as I reflect back on the past fifty years, I note that people still suffer from classism, voter suppression and widespread profiling and physical violence from the police. That at this point in time, our political system seems to be in total disarray. And that the city of Memphis, the very city Doctor King was in when he was brutally cut down, is still rated by the US Census Bureau as one of the highest rates of poverty in the country.

I prefer to believe the world of 2001, as depicted in the film, is a better place than ours. That, in spite of the apparent tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, we cooperate to the extent that both parties (and more) can operate in space and the moon in relative harmony. And by extension, we may have solved our energy and climate concerns.

Despite everything that has happened since their deaths, the works and words of Doctor Martin Luther King, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke continue to inspire us to do our best for humanity. And hopefully, they will for quite a while.

Bankruptcy Court Allows Beagle To Resume Cochran Lawsuit

Peter Beagle can resume litigation against former manager Connor Cochran and related corporations under a motion granted by U.S. Bankruptcy Court on March 23. The federal court order has lifted the automatic stay that took effect when Connor Cochran and his companies filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 4, one day before trial was scheduled to begin in Peter S. Beagle’s lawsuit against them.

The order allows Beagle to proceed in California state court against Cochran, Avicenna Development Corporation, and Conlan Press, Inc. and obtain a final judgment.

Beagle sued Cochran in 2015 for $52 million in damages, disgorgement of illegal gains and restitution, and dissolution of two corporations he co-owns with Cochran, Avicenna Development Corporation, and Conlan Press, Inc.

The Bankruptcy court order says any judgments obtained in state court may only be executed with its permission. The order also frees Justin Bunnell and Sandbox LLC, a California partnership, to intervene in the Beagle/Cochran state action and pursue its claims for $300,000 invested in The Last Unicorn screening tour launched in 2013.

[Thanks to ULTRAGOTHA for the story.]

A Place, a World

By John Hertz:  Today is World Poetry Day.

I’ve called attention to Hâfez, Homer, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Li Po, and Wallace Stevens, not to mention Elizabeth Barrett Browning – oops, too late.

So here’s something by E. E. Cummings. I found it on a Poetry In Motion bookmark.

love is a place

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

Hoping you are the same.

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #27

The author, enjoying some peach moscato, 26 February 2018

 The State of My Union – An Personal Assessment

By Chris M. Barkley:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

– Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.

– John Allen Paulos

Until recently, I really hadn’t given too much thought to the opening to Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities, which remains one of the most memorable opening lines of any English language novel.

But it became uppermost in my mind when I sat down to write this particular column. I wanted to express my unease at how I look at the world and how it is balanced out by the joy of being alive in this time and place.

I paired Dickens with a quote from eminent mathematician John Allen Paulos because it perfectly summarizes the same point Dickens had made more than a century earlier. While I despair about the condition of our world, I am continuingly amazed at how aware I am and the amazing technology and we have at our fingertips each day.

On the evening of January 31st, my partner Juli and I went to see an excellent historical drama about the Pentagon papers, The Post. Staying home and watching The State of the Union Address was out of the question.

For the most obvious of reasons; the United States is currently led by a vile, anti-intellectual and profoundly stupid man. And by writing that, I want to extend an apology to all stupid people.

As we drove home, I began thinking about what was going to be the subject this column (who is intimately involved with The Post) but as I sat down to write it, I changed my mind.

This column, which is now more than a year old, was intended to be a sounding board for my thoughts and concerns about all things fannish. Looking back, I see that while there were some pretty serious columns, it seems that lately, it has been a little too top-heavy with media related reviews. So, it seems as though I was long overdue for an introspective look at something else. Myself.

My heath is rather nominal. I say rather because while I feel well enough, I have discovered after a discussion with my doctor, that I have been undergoing an extended bout of hyperglycemia brought on by my overuse of Splenda. I know how crazy that sounds but it is true. This is particularly bad news for me because I am a fanatical tea drinker and I like it sweet. Since I have type-2 diabetes, I just assumed it was safe for me to put 4 or five packs of Splendas in a 16 ounce serving. My body had different ideas. The theory is that my body, in the absence of real sugar, has been tricked into producing more sugar and insulin (with a sidecar of dopamine) which, in turn, has thrown everything out of whack.

My doctor has given me eight weeks to get my blood sugars under control or I will be prescribed to undergo insulin injections. Needless to say, my fear of needles is driving my urge to eat properly, walk and exercise on a daily basis.

Officially, I have been unemployed since April 30th of last year. I walked away from my position as the periodicals manager at one of the best independent bookstores in America I felt undervalued by the management and my boss was…well, let’s just say I lost confidence in her and let it go at that.

My current job right now is being a primary caretaker of my two-year-old granddaughter, Lily Bug. She is a delight to watch and I am quite privileged watching her growing and learning each day. She learns quickly and has an uncanny knack of showing that she is self-aware and confidently self-assured before she turned a year old, which I found a bit unusual for someone her age.

As the only child (at the moment), Lily is afforded special privileges from her overly indulgent, such as her Christmas gift of a thirteen-foot-diameter trampoline, which she lovingly calls “jumpy-jumpy”.

I’m also looking forward to her being properly potty-trained by her parents REAL SOON NOW because I would really like to put my toxic waste disposal days behind me.

Books are my life. I have sold them for over a quarter of a century and reading them all of my life. I am overwhelmed with books. I have a very bad habit of starting several books at once so my nightstand is rather swamped at the moment:

Tau Zero (1970) by Poul Anderson; this would be a perfect vehicle for a director like Kathryn Bigelow, Alex Garland or Duncan Jones. Someone should send a copy to each of them so there would be a bidding war. If you haven’t read it, it is one of the finest examples of hard adventure sf ever written.

Mary Astor’s Purple Diary (2016) written and illustrated by Edward Sorel – The Great Sex Scandal of 1936; Mary Astor was a revered character actress in the golden Age of Hollywood. Her personal life became fodder for the tabloid press when her affair with playwright George S. Kaufman was revealed because her salacious diary was discovered by her husband, Doctor Franklyn Thorpe. To say that hijinks ensued would be an incredible understatement. Woody Allen, in a rare move into literary criticism, infamously reviewed this tome for the New York Times Review of Books, which led to a backlash of virulent protest against the book editor, Pamela Paul. As Spock would say, fascinating…

The Nashville Chronicles (2000) by Jan Stuart; a lucky find at a library book sale because I had NO IDEA this book existed. Nashville is one of my top ten favorites of all time and I am enjoying this book as much as I adore Aljean Harmetz’s making of Casablanca, Round Up the Usual Suspects.

Will Eisner’s The Spirit: A Celebration of 75 Years (2015); When I started digging into the history of comics back in 1967, the very first book I came across was Jules Feiffer’s The Great Comic Book Heroes. I skipped all of the mumbo jumbo analysis that I could barely understand and dove right into the comics. The most thrilling find was Eisner’s tough talking masked man, a comic strip hero I’d never heard of before. I instantly became a lifelong fan.

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (2017); This is a compilation of the ten short stories that comprise the first season of the Amazon Prime series that dropped in late December.

Of course, once the Hugo nominations are announced, all of the above will be put aside to assess what I will be voting on…

There are some days that some of my most creative writing is done on Facebook. While I find it personally satisfying to get the better of trolls and other malcontents whom I verbally cross swords with, but it is very distracting and very time-consuming. I could be doing research, reading and honing my craft and so I might stand a chance of getting paid for this writing gig some day.

But I am passionate about a few things online; censorship, police relations with the public, political corruption of all stripes and most of all, gun control. The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida two weeks ago [at the time this was written] pointedly illustrated out how polarized and partisan Americans feel about the struggle between those who strive to protect their gun rights against gun control advocates.

I don’t want to confiscate anyone’s guns unless it is absolutely necessary. I have only held an actual firearm in my hands twice in my entire life. I have no problem telling anyone that guns terrify me. I’ve been stopped by police officers over a dozen times and managed to survive all of those encounters. I have no need of a gun and absolutely no desire to own one right now. I sincerely doubt I will change my mind but I remain open to being trained one day, just in case.

But over the past few weeks, I have compulsively and aggressively engaged many people on this issue, especially the overly officious people who would dismiss the survivors of the Parkland Massacre because they do not meet their narrow and dogmatic standards:

R: Yes. I have around 70 years familiarity with weapons of all kinds, weapons history (not talking just firearms, here), and literally 50 years of participation in the FAPOL (Firearms And Politics) arena. I pretty much qualify as an expert.

What they saw was horrible, but has absolutely no relevance to what they say about guns, gun owners, or gun laws – I haven’t heard one speak yet who wasn’t absolutely clueless on the subject.

When people insist on vague – or specific but ridiculous – changes to something they don’t know anything about and get wrong every time they open their mouths, it leaves people who do know something about the subject staring at them like they have their heads on backwards.

The fact that they, and other people like them, refuse to listen when you try to educate them, or correct their misstatements, doesn’t buy them any credit whatsoever – it subtracts from whatever credit they started with, and ultimately it gets them ignored as irrelevant.

ME: R, I am ten years younger than you. I have seen plenty myself. I have no problem telling you that you are dead wrong. As wrong as Johnson and Nixon were about the protesters of the Vietnam war. I could cite other examples, but you should keep that one primarily in mind. Historical movements have been started with less provocation. The kids who survived that ordeal on Valentine’s Day are now the spokespersons for an ENTIRE GENERATION who have had enough of the proliferation of guns, enough of the platitudes of politicians who have been paid off in money and influence by the NRA to do their bidding, enough of attitudes like yours, R., that weapons and the right to own and carry them are more important than their rights and their lives.

It’s all going to change R, whether you like it or not.

Change is hard. You can sit on the sidelines harping about these kids all you want.

You can’t stop them. You won’t stop them.

With their help, am I hoping they will be the vanguard of a range of social changes, and that sir, will bloody well include gun control in various forms.

Now, either you or your friends can continue to be part if the problem or you can be part of the solution. I intend to be in the right of history.

I’m supporting these kids.

Mind you, R. was at a distinct disadvantage because I was watching the recent Winston Churchill biopic Darkest Hour and I felt as though I was directly channeling him as I was tapping out this reply.

And there was this exchange:

V.L.: I believe in liberty and the constitution. The 2cond amendment and the individual right to bear arms is guaranteed by our constitution and upheld by the Supreme Court in the Heller case. As a reasonable person I’m open to some of the ideas being discussed; raising the age to 21 for purchase of certain weapons, universal background checks, banning bump stocks ect. The ‘assault weapons’ ban has zero merit. There’s nothing about guns made with black polymer that look like military weapons that make them more deadly than ordinary wooden semi-automatic rifles. It’s really magazine capacity, not the gun, that makes mass shootings more deadly. My issue with many on the left is they don’t believe people should own guns at all, or they say everyone should be allowed to own a musket because that’s what was available when the founding fathers penned the Constitution. The rationale of the 2cond amendment was a well armed militia to defend the country from a tyrannical government (which had just occurred) so the weapons of the militia should be equivalent to those of the government. I’m not advocating that citizens have access to tanks and rockets, but at the same time the 2cond amendment never had to do with hunting which is now what the left uses as the ‘need’ for guns. “I don’t want to take away Uncle John’s hunting gun”… This was never the basis for the second amendment. Murder is already illegal. Guns shouldn’t be the main focus; hardening school security should be.

To V.L.: ”Hardening school security”? What are you suggesting? Because it sounds like you’re suggesting more of a settling for a prison than school.

And, for the record, those of us who are level-headed folks who believe in some changes in the gun laws want law abiding gun owners to STOP acting like the 2nd Amendment, as written, is the most important thing in your lives. Your “gun rights” are not more vital than any human life.

We want to live in a world where guns are just as hard to buy as houses, cars and a Lear jet. That would include licensing, insurance for each weapon and regular recertification. Anyone caught without those accreditations should be prosecuted to within an inch of their lives and jailed.

THAT’S what we want. Some ideas in your post are a good start. But they don’t go far enough. Either you’re part of the problem or you’re part of the solution.

Choose.

Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado stated in an interview on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition on February 27 that on the whole, we are terrorizing ourself over what to do about gun violence in America. When he was asked by host Rachel Martin whether or not the country had reached a tipping point on gun control with the Parkland tragedy, he said, “Well, there’s an accumulation of sorrow. And I think people’s hearts are just breaking, and there is a frustration now. For the first time, I keep hearing people talking about, you know, long-term Republican funders saying they’re going to fund people based on how they respond to gun safety, the introduction of gun safety laws, and that’s new. I mean, I haven’t heard that before where Republicans, who historically have been fighting for, you know, more traditional Republican goals, right? Lower taxes, smaller government, that kind of thing. Now they’re looking at gun safety as a large enough issue that it will define who they donate money to and who they vote for.”

I plan on working on posting a Gun Safety Manifesto to Change.org in the next month or so. The emphasis of the petition will be on gun safety, not “gun rights. Gun culture, either through the machinations of the National Rifle Association or other gun rights groups have had their day. Repealing or changing the Second Amendment will be on the table one day soon.

The sooner the better I think.

“Those who never change their minds never change anything.”
-Winston Churchill

Dedicated to the students, faculty and administrators of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

2018 Recommended SF/F List

By JJ: This thread is for posts about 2018-published works, which people have read and recommend to other Filers.

There will be no tallying of recommendations done in this thread; its purpose is to provide a source of recommendations for people who want to find something to read which will be Hugo-eligible next year.

You don’t have to stop recommending works in Pixel Scrolls, please don’t! But it would be nice if you also post here, to capture the information for other readers.

The Suggested Format for posts is:

  • Title, Author, Published by / Published in (Anthology, Collection, Website, or Magazine + Issue)
  • Hugo Category: (Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Related Work, Graphic Novel, etc)
  • link (if available to read/view online)
  • optional “Brief, spoiler-free description of story premise:”
  • optional “What I liked and didn’t like about it:”
  • (Please rot-13 any spoilers.)

There is a permalink to this thread in the blog header.

It’s A Wonder Filled Life: An Inspirational, Eighth Year Anniversary

Steve Vertlieb in 2010.

By Steve Vertlieb: It was eight years ago, on March 8, 2010, that I entered The University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia to undergo major open heart surgery. I had no expectation whatsoever of surviving the required surgery. I was told by my surgical cardiologist, Dr. Michael Acker, that I’d live only another several weeks without the operation. On the morning of the surgery, I turned affectionately to the apartment living room that I was leaving, along with its countless collectibles and, as the door closed behind me to the world that I had called home, I uttered an emotional farewell to everything that I loved.

They worked on me for five and a half hours as I lay on the surgical table. I had double bypass surgery, as well as Mitral Valve replacement. This photograph of me in my hospital room was taken just a couple of days after my operation. After nine days at The University of Pennsylvania Hospital, I returned home. A comforting, healthy recovery process was not in the cards, however.

As I lay in my own bed for the first time since the operation, I found myself gasping for breath. Terrified, I sat up quickly. Just nerves, I thought. After a moment, I laid down again. I couldn’t breathe. Anxious and afraid, I sat up in bed once more. It must be anxiety, I reasoned. I spent the rest of the day sitting on my couch, watching television with my brother. That night, as I prepared for bed, I laid my head down upon the pillow, and found myself gasping frantically for breath once more. Fearful for my mortality, I spent the remainder of the long night sitting up in bed, fighting sleep, afraid of lying down … and dying. I did this for the next four days until, yearning for sleep and frightened that this was truly the end, I told my brother “I’m dying…take me to the emergency room.”

Early on a Sunday morning, Erwin drove me to the emergency room at Holy Redeemer Hospital where I was immediately admitted. I had fluid filling my lungs, cardiac insufficiency or heart failure, and the beginnings of a blood clot in my leg. After four more interminable days in the second hospital, I was finally sent home. From that day to this, I have been fine.

In the years that followed my brush with death, I have embraced the beauty of life and of living ever more passionately, finding beauty, joy, and love in every imaginable nook and cranny of this, my mortal, all too precarious journey through existence…and yet, in the eight years since my near death encounter with the infinite, I’ve enjoyed some of the most precious, life affirming encounters of my fragile seventy two years. Months after I nearly died on the surgical table, I met my last life-long hero, composer John Williams, in his dressing room at The Hollywood Bowl … a local film maker announced his intention to make a documentary motion picture about my life and career … I was awarded a coveted Rondo “Hall Of Fame” Life Achievement Award for half a century of journalistic endeavor and achievement … and, most importantly, I met the woman that I love, Rochelle (Shelly) Trust. Despite brief appearances to the contrary and a singular flirtation with finality, I’ve discovered meaning, value, and beauty in the richness of living, and in the wonder and fullness of a life well lived. To quote George Bailey in Frank Capra’s inspirational film of the same name, it really has been “A Wonderful Life.”

SFF Exhibit Opens at Pasadena History Museum

By John King Tarpinian:

“Dreaming the Universe: The Intersection of Science, Fiction and Southern California” explores the history of science fiction in Southern California from the 1930s to the 1980s, and how it interacted with the advances of science, the changes in technology, and shifts in American society. Curated by Nick Smith, former president of Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, the exhibition brings together an unusual range of artifacts, fine and graphic arts, books, ephemera, and photographs.

Exhibit curator Nick Smith, left, views displays with Larry Niven, right.

Today (March 3) was the grand opening of this exhibition highlighting Science Fiction and Southern California’s relationship with same.  Some early rocket tests were just a few blocks away from this museum so the history goes back to the beginning of the rocket age and the inspirations for SF.

I am not sure which of the bazillion photos I sent Mike that he will have the time and bandwidth to display.

  • Of course, there was a display honoring Ray Bradbury, with the 3’ statue (sorry it was too dark) showing the reliefs inspired by his work.  Also a pair of Ray’s eyeglasses, preserved by the family and other items of interest.
  • A Kelly Freas sketch of J.R.R. Tolkien that, if I understand correctly, was done as a way of Freas’ introducing himself to Tolkein.

  • Costumes from Superman to Space Cadet.
  • Toys on display that many of us wish our mother did not throw away.

This is a brief highlight of the exhibition which runs through September.  There will be a few rotating displays during the run.   Highly recommended.

U.S. Black History Month

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1289) Lena Horne (1917-2010) was in the Cotton Club chorus line at sixteen; she replaced Dinah Shore (1916-1994) as the featured vocalist on NBC Radio’s Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street — which was jazz, and a spoof – and had made Shore’s career – but after six months was hired away for a club on Sunset Strip.  She sang the title song in Stormy Weather (A. Stine dir. 1943) in a role invented for her.  Back in nightclubs she sang at the Sands(Las Vegas), the Cocoanut Grove (L.A.), the Waldorf Astoria (New York); her 1957 live Lena Horne at the Waldorf-Astoria was RCA Victor’s best-selling record by a woman artist up to that time (LOC 1028; now e.g. Hallmark B00DI4HSPK 2013); see its fine review in W. Friedwald, The Great Jazz & Pop Vocal Albums pp. 184-89 (2017).  During World War II she wouldn’t sing for segregated audiences, famously leaving a stage for the row where the black troops were.  She was in the 1963 March on Washington. Tom Lehrer put her in “National Brotherhood Week” (1965) – which, incidentally, it is, just now.  In 1980 she said she was retiring, then mounted a one-woman show The Lady and Her Music that ran three hundred performances on Broadway, toured the United States and Canada, played a month in London, and ended in Stockholm.  She won four Grammys (two for The Lady and Her Music, one for Lifetime Achievement), a Tony, and the Spingarn Medal. She was on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show; she was Glinda in The Wiz (S. Lumet dir. 1978) – in case you were waiting to hear what particular interest all this had for us.  She is on the 2018 U.S. Postal Service Black  Heritage stamp. In fact she never was retiring.

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #24

File 770’s Black History Month, Part One: Black Panther

By Chris M. Barkley:

Black Panther (2018, ****) with Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Winston Duke, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman. Written by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, based on characters created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Directed by Ryan Coogler.

Bechdel Test: PASS!!!!!

Ever since Marvel Studios first announced in 2014 it was developing a film version of the iconic black superhero, Black Panther, a great deal of hype and anticipation has surrounded its production. And now, I can tell you, without any hesitation, that this film has exceeded all my expectations.

Set shortly after the assassination of the King T’Chaka of Wakanda in Captain America: Civil War, heir apparent Prince T’Challa (a magnificently ripped Chadwick Boseman) is to be crowned the new King. But although T’Challa has trained and studied for this moment for a majority of his life, he feels as though he is unready and can never be the equal of his father.

T’Challa has bigger problems; the path to the crown does not go unchallenged. M’Baku (Winston Duke), the powerful leader of the agrarian northern tribe tries to depose him, a master criminal, Ulyssess Klaue (Andy Serkis) is at large peddling vibranium, the precious metal that fuels Wakanda’s existence and is distracted by his ex-lover by his concern over the safety of (Lupita Nyong’o), who spends most of her time outside the kingdom as a secret service agent.

But the sudden emergence of Erik Stevens (Michael B. Jordan), a previously unknown heir to the throne suddenly appears to pose the biggest threat to T’Challa and his kingdom. A trained killer, he aids Klaue’s activities and seeks to take Wakandan weapons and technology to “liberate” the oppressed minorities of the world in order to dominate the world for himself.

The Black Panther debuted June 1966 in Fantastic Four # 52 and 53 by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. It is only natural to expect Marvel Comics, the innovative group of creators that gave us angst driven teenage heroes (Spider-Man and the X-Men) heroes and villains with anger issues (The Hulk, Namor, the Sub-Mariner and Doctor Doom) and physical disabilities (Daredevil) would bring the world the very first, true black superhero. I personally believe that they created the Black Panther out of their observations of the civil rights movement and seeing the potential of building bridges to the youthful African-American audience hungry for heroes they can identify with.

(In October of that year, Bobby Seale and Huey Newton created the influential revolutionary group, The Black Panthers for Self Defense as a reactionary counterpart of Martin Luther King’s non-violent movement. Neither man confirmed that the group was named after Marvel’s hero but just calling it merely a coincidence is a bit of stretch.)

I have had the privilege of watching the character of the Black Panther evolve over the decades to come to this particular moment in black cultural history.

There are several reasons why this particular film is important right now:

A) As the 17th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, writer-director Ryan Coogler has assembled of the largest and most diverse casts of black actors, both of American and international origins, in recent memory.

B) The story provides a different, but important slice of the Marvel Universe that many readers of comics were familiar with but most moviegoers were probably unaware of.

C) It also shows a fictionalized region of Africa that has never been colonized, despoiled or exploited by any outside forces, an idealized place where love of country goes hand in hand with advanced technology.

But beneath there are clearly cracks in Wakanda’s utopian vision here; much of the country’s internal success has come from a traditional intense sense of secrecy that does not allow any other points of view. When Erik “Killmonger” Stevens arrives to make his play for Wankandan crown, he finds a fertile ground to sow his nefarious plot. And what should be nagging in the back of every viewer’s mind is could there be a kernel of truth in what he’s seeking.

T’Challa may have a suit of vibranium and advanced weapons at his disposal but he knows he cannot prevail on his own. He is blessed with some serious backup; covert operator Nakia, the fearsome Okoye (Danai Gurira), the head of his all female special forces unit, his beloved mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett), a frenemy CIA agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and his spunky and techno-genius sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) who steals practically every scene she’s in.

Ryan Coogler and co-writer Joe Robert Cole deserve an enormous amount of credit in balancing everyone’s role so the movie feels like a beautifully infectious fever dream of action, adventure and personal tragedy.

The advanced ticket sales of Black Panther have ensured its financial success, both here in America and overseas. But its cultural impact can only be measured by the number of new projects featuring racially and sexually diverse cast will made in the near future. I, along with you and many others, can only watch and wait.

ONWARD, WAKANDA!