Bradbury News on Bradbury’s Birthday 8/22

Bradbury's basement in 1985.

Bradbury’s basement in 1985.

Ray Bradbury would have been 94 today. Although he isn’t here to celebrate, his fans are keeping his name in the news.

(1) There will be a screening of The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit on October 12 to support the Pomona Public Library. Steven Paul Leiva will moderate a panel afterwards with Joe Mantegna, Edward James Olmos, Stuart Gordon, and possibly Sam Weller. John King Tarpinian will provide items from his Bradbury collection to display at the library.

Bradbury receives autographed "Ice Cream Suit."

Bradbury receives autographed “Ice Cream Suit.”

(2) Tim Youd will performance-type Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 next month and then consign his art to the flames:

September 2014: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 on a Royal KMM at the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University/IUPUI. This performance will take place as part of the 2014 Banned Books Week. Upon completion, Youd will burn the finished diptych at the Vonnegut Memorial Library as part of their annual Banned Books celebration.

How does performance-typing work? The Huffington Post described the process when Youd performance-typed The Right Stuff last year:

Youd uses the very same make and model of typewriter that the original author did, and types the entire novel on a single sheet of paper, backed by a stronger supporting sheet. He often has to tape the paper back together with its ghost image in order to feed it into the typewriter over and over again. Youd realizes a marathon of typewriting: he vocalizes the words of the book as he hunts and pecks the words in it, resulting in a unique combination of spoken and written – - rather, typed — word.

The finished artwork is a framed diptych, one page a mass of black ink in an indecipherable but visceral representation of the arduous work of the writer and a ghost image next to it that is mostly white but retains some spillover of the ink and imagery the original paper couldn’t handle.

(3) This may have been the best reason to be in Indiana in the middle of summer. On August 20 the Indianapolis Public Library inaugurated an annual Ray Bradbury Lecture in conjunction with Indiana University’s Center for Ray Bradbury Studies.

Professor Jonathan Eller, director of the Center, spoke about “Ray Bradbury in the Twenty-First Century”, answering the questions “How did Ray Bradbury, a child of the Great Depression who never attended college, become one of the best-known American writers of his time?” and “Why does this master storyteller of the 20th century remain a powerful cultural influence today?”

(4) Ray Bradbury Unbound, the second volume of Eller’s three-volume study of Bradbury’s life and career, will be published by the University of Illinois Press in early September. At the same time, Kent State University Press will publish volume two of the Bradbury Center’s Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury, a series that recovers the seldom-seen original versions of Bradbury’s earliest published stories.

(5) Over 400 items from the Bradbury estate will be auctioned by Nate D. Sanders Fine Autographs & Memorabilia at the end of September, including paintings by Charles Addams and Hannes Bok that hung on his walls, and items from his collections of Disney animation cels, comic strips and original illustration art.

(6) John King Tarpinian suggests the two of us meet on August 30 in downtown LA at Ray Bradbury Square, to mark the day that the Library of Congress hosts the annual National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

Joe Mantegna and Sam Weller at the Ray Bradbury Square dedication on December 6, 2012.

Joe Mantegna and Sam Weller at the Ray Bradbury Square dedication on December 6, 2012.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for these items.]

Thanking Francis Hamit

A tangible way to thank Francis Hamit for his many Loncon 3 posts and photo galleries – and get to read some entertaining stories – is to purchase one of his Civil War novels or “security procedurals.”

And the most fitting transition between these topics would be Hamit’s short story “The Tragedy of the Goats” (Amazon Kindle, $2.99), which takes place at a science fiction convention where the committee’s head of security and hotel relations tries to keep everybody safe as problems arise with hotel management, evangelicals, and his own checkered past. It’s a long weekend.

I first came up with the term “security procedural” to describe Sunday In The Park With George  (Amazon Kindle, $2.99), one of Hamit’s stories that illustrates in a dramatic way the variety of threats and situations handled by professional security services.

MeltdownCover-004_2076x2771A different type of security force – the guards at a nuclear power plant – are among the main characters in Hamit’s novel The Meltdown (Amazon Kindle, $3.99).

He also has published two Civil War espionage novels.

Shenandoah Spy coverThe Shenandoah Spy (Amazon Kindle, $3.99) is based on the true story of Belle Boyd, a young woman who became one of the most famous personalities of the U.S. Civil War. A scout and spy for Turner Ashby’s 7th Virginia Cavalry, she was instrumental in the success of Stonewall Jackson’s famous Valley Campaign of 1862. At the Battle of Front Royal on May 23, 1862, Belle ran across the battlefield under fire to deliver her vital intelligence. She became the first woman in American history to be commissioned an Army officer.

A novel based on the life of a second female Confederate spy, The Queen of Washington (Amazon Kindle, $3.99), shows how the Confederate Secret Service gained one of its most effective agents, Rose Greenhow.

I’ve enjoyed all these stories and as pitchmen say – they’re priced to move!

NYRSF Readings Feature Mosley and di Filippo on 9/9

The 24th season of New York Review of Science Fiction readings kicks off September 9 with a mystery writer who has crossed the genre border to write science fiction, and a science fiction writer who has written mysteries.

Walter-Mosley1_credit-c-David-BurnettWalter Mosley is the author of the bestselling mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins, as well as numerous other works, from literary fiction and science fiction to a young adult novel and political monographs. Mosley is the winner of numerous awards, including an O. Henry Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, a Grammy, and PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He lives in New York City.

Paul_Di_Filippo_2009 CROPPaul di Filippo has published over thirty books. Perhaps his most well-known are The Steampunk Trilogy and Ribofunk, but he’s very proud of them all, even his Creature From The Black Lagoon sharecrop novel, Time’s Black Lagoon. He lives in Lovecraft’s burg, Providence, Rhode Island, with his mate of nearly forty years, Deborah Newton. He has been working — or not working — on a new novel Up Around The Bend for way too long. He hopes he is at the midpoint of his career.

This session of the Readings will venture to The Commons Brooklyn at 388 Atlantic Avenue (between Hoyt & Bond St.), Brooklyn NY.

Directions and the full press release follow the jump.

Continue reading

Operacon Celebrates Milwaukee Performance of New Work By Sucharitkul


Somtow conducting orchestra in 2013.

Operacon, an unusual relaxacon, is scheduled to coincide with the performance of Somtow Sucharitkul’s new work “The Snow Dragon” in Milwaukee. Rendezvous for this cultural event at the Hilton Milwaukee Center the weekend of March 12-15, 2015.

“The Snow Dragon” is the Thai-American composer and author’s seventh opera, based on his 1982 short story, “The Fallen Country.”

The opera’s plot centers on young Billy Binder, who escapes from his painful life to a fantastic world of eternal snow, where he rides a dragon, fights monsters and rescues princesses. Yet the world is ruled by the evil and omnipresent Ringmaster. Defeating the Ringmaster in the fantasy kingdom is key to overcoming Billy’s real-world problems, but that’s easier said than done.

After its Milwaukee world premiere, the opera will head to Thailand for a special performance in honor of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Memberships: $90 (includes opera ticket); $50 (without opera ticket); $25 supporting, until November 1, 2014.

The organizers are composer Somtow Sucharitkul, hotel liaison Dina Krause, and “everything else” Dick & Leah Smith.

Somtow says this will be his first con in 20 years.

[Thanks to Leah Smith for the story.]

You’ve Got Mail

Corporate giants Amazon and book publisher Hachette have been wrestling for dollars — and many authors who believe those dollars are coming out of their pockets blame Amazon’s tactics. Over 900 writers signed Authors United’s public letter of August 7 asking to be taken out the line of fire.

Amazon is involved in a commercial dispute with the book publisher Hachette , which owns Little, Brown, Grand Central Publishing, and other familiar imprints. These sorts of disputes happen all the time between companies and they are usually resolved in a corporate back room.

But in this case, Amazon has done something unusual. It has directly targeted Hachette’s authors in an effort to force their publisher to agree to its terms.

For the past several months, Amazon has been:

Boycotting Hachette authors, by refusing to accept pre-orders on Hachette authors’ books and eBooks, claiming they are “unavailable.”

Refusing to discount the prices of many of Hachette authors’ books.

Slowing the delivery of thousands of Hachette authors’ books to Amazon customers, indicating that delivery will take as long as several weeks on most titles.

–Suggesting on some Hachette authors’ pages that readers might prefer a book from a non-Hachette author instead.

As writers–most of us not published by Hachette–we feel strongly that no bookseller should block the sale of books or otherwise prevent or discourage customers from ordering or receiving the books they want. It is not right for Amazon to single out a group of authors, who are not involved in the dispute, for selective retaliation.

The Authors United statement, which will be published as an ad in this weekend’s New York Times, included Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s e-mail address and asked people to “call on Amazon to resolve its dispute with Hachette without further hurting authors and without blocking or otherwise delaying the sale of books to its customers.”

Amazon countered on August 9 with a public answer from ”Readers United”:

Amazon and Hachette — a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate — are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market — e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.

Amazon also argues that when books are priced lower more people buy them, yielding more total sales overall.

And, tit for tat, Amazon provided the e-mail of Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch, recommending readers ask him for lower ebook prices and an end to the dispute.

A Word From The Sponsor

When a zany manager tries to liven up the office, Ed Green’s grumpy face helps keep it real in this Tic-Tac commercial on Funny or Die.

Viewing Ed’s performance also leads to inspires a Deeply Philosophical Question: Did it take more acting chops for Ed to wear this expression in the commercial, or never wear it when he was LASFS President?

(P.S. Someone tell that manager to return Doctor Who’s outfit immediately!)

Apex Magazine #63 Contents

ApexMag63 compApex Magazine #63’s headliners are Foz Meadows, Amanda Forrest, John Moran, Erik Amundsen, Duane de Four, and Bogi Takacs.

The table of contents below includes links to all the original short fiction, poetry, and nonfiction available free online. EBook editions, available as a subscription or purchased individually, also include a reprint by Nene Ormes and an excerpt from Zombies & Calculus by Colin Adams.

Table of Contents

Ten Days’ Grace” by Foz Meadows
Sister of Mercy” by Amanda Forrest
The Sandbirds of Mirelle” by John Moran
Jupiter and Gentian” by Erik Amundsen
“The Good Matter” by Nene Ormes (eBook/subscriber exclusive)
“Zombies & Calculus — Excerpt” by Colin Adams (eBook/subscriber exclusive)

A User Guide to the Application of Gem-Flowers” by Bogi Takács
Conservation of Energy” by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

Resolute: Notes from the Editor-in-Chief” by Sigrid Ellis
The Testosterone Injection That Could Ruin Orphan Black…And how to make sure it doesn’t” by Duane de Four
Apex Author Interview with John Moran” by Andrea Johnson
Apex Cover Artist Interview with Cyril Rolando” by Loraine Sammy
Clavis Aurea: A Review of Short Fiction” by Charlotte Ashley

Podcast Fiction
Download Podcast #14 (“Jupiter and Gentian” by Erik Amundsen) or listen using the player below. (19:00 in length)

‘Tolkien & Lewis’ Due Next Easter

Tolkien & Lewis posterTolkien and Lewis from Attractive Films looks to be leading the horse race to release a biopic about the creator of Middle-Earth and his friend, the inventor of Narnia.

Attractive just signed Simon West to direct (Expendables 2), who is being co-credited as a producer with  Wernher Pramschufer. The movie, written by Jacqueline Cook, has a budget of $18M.

The Hollywood Reporter outlined the film in a recent article:

The story centers on Tolkien’s relationship with his University of Oxford colleague C.S. Lewis, whom Tolkien, a devout Catholic, converted to Christianity. The formerly agnostic Lewis’ newfound faith infused his most popular books, including The Chronicles of Narnia series, while Lewis in turn encouraged Tolkien to finish his The Lord of the Rings volumes, which were decades in the making. Much of the movie takes place at the beginning of World War II, when Tolkien, a veteran of World War I, is haunted by memories of his fallen friends. Meanwhile, Lewis’ growing fame as an untrained theologian strains his relationship with Tolkien and his university job.

Soon, the two writers’ friendship is poisoned by jealousy, paranoia and creative and religious differences. “Lewis becoming the poster boy for Christianity upset Tolkien,” says Attractive principal Wernher Pramschufer. “And obsessive genius Tolkien is blocked, terrified of finishing The Fellowship of the Ring, for fear of the strange, psychotic visions which torture him.”

Attractive Films is aiming for an Easter release.

The other movie about the pair  in production is Fox Searchlight’s Tolkien, developed by Chernin Entertainment from a script by David Gleeson. It’s described as “a more straightforward biopic about the author’s life, depicting his time in World War I and his time as a professor.”

The Perpetually Overflowing Cornucopia of Ellison News

Harlan Ellison’s short story ”He Who Grew Up Reading Sherlock Holmes” is a free read on the Subterranean Press site. (It’s dedicated to “the memory of my friend Ray Bradbury.”)

A bad thing had happened. No, a “Bad Thing” had happened. A man in Fremont, Nebraska cheated an honest old lady, and no one seemed able to make him retract his deed to set things right. It went on helplessly for the old lady for more than forty years. Then, one day, she told a friend. Now I will tell you a story. Or a true anecdote. For those who wish this to be “a story I never wrote,” have at it; for those who choose to believe that I am recounting a Real Life Anecdote, I’m down with that, equally: your choice.

The Archive of American Television features a large suite of short videos from its Ellison interview:

In these selections from his Archive interview, writer Harlan Ellison recalls some of his earliest television assignments. He discusses writing for Ripcord, The Twilight Zone, and The Flying Nun, and talks about his pseudonym, Cordwainer Bird. He speaks of working with the Writers Guild of America, shares how he writes scripts, and tells the tale of walking off his first directing job. Ellison also touches on his review of the 2013 film “Saving Mr. Banks,”comments on his mantra, and explains what his epitaph will be. Nat Segaloff conducted the interview on February 2, 2013 in Sherman Oaks, CA. This interview is a co-production between the Writers Guild of America and the Archive of American Television.

Another perspective on the Koenig/Ellison session at last weekend’s Trek con in Las Vegas:

The last day of the convention was a combination of weary participants, all of whom seemed to be more than capable of keeping a very cheerful “stiff upper lip,” and last day exuberance. There were still lots of things going on. Walter Koenig sat with Harlan Ellison and chatted about the old days and despite Mr. Koenig’s frail appearance yesterday evening, this 77 year-old actor sounds a good 20 years younger when he speaks and shows those sparkling eyes.

Mr. Ellison, who is not only an award-winning author but a prolific one as well, is a crowd pleaser and popular with fans. The writer was at the event each and every day and when he showed up in the vendor’s room to sign autographs for fans, the queue, aka line, stretched around the room. This 80 year-old creative genius has a reputation for being vitriolic and not suffering fools gladly, both of which almost guarantee a place in most fan’s hearts.

(And here’s a link to a Las Vegas blogger’s Q&A with Walter Koenig.)

Bradbury Advised On Rocky

Rocky_posterRocky doesn’t end with a knockout, but its ending is a knockout – thanks to Ray Bradbury. Sound unlikely? Film editor Richard Halsey says it’s true.

Few can forget Rocky’s emotional ending and Halsey recalls that a step toward that classic scene occurred at a screening held for United Artists executives. “We had an ending where Rocky walks off through a turnstile with Adrian, and we had this folk tune about Rocky. It was bad,” says Halsey. “I remember the writer, Ray Bradbury, saying, ‘Just get rid of that song and that walking down the turnstile, and you have got a hell of a picture.’

“So [director John Avildsen], the producers, Scott Conrad, and I looked at the movie in the cutting room and we constructed a new ending in the ring. And we did the pick-up shots with Adrian listening to the fight backstage, and then she and Paulie coming into the ring.”

While focusing on Bradbury’s fiction, people can forget he also had a lucrative career as a script doctor.

And although they changed Rocky’s ending, I wonder if the image used in the theatrical poster comes from the original concept?