Star Wars Rebels Trailer

Star Wars Rebels tracks an uprising against imperial tyranny and the Inquisitor tasked to hunt down the few remaining Jedi knights.

On the small planet of Lothal a big change is looming. A group of rebels meet a 14-year-old con artist named Ezra and soon it’s clear their destinies are linked. Aboard their ship, the Ghost, Ezra and the rebels embark on an adventure to ignite a rebellion and strike back against the Empire.

Here’s the latest extended trailer.

Aldrin Signs Tonight

Someday it may be easier to get an autograph from someone who’s been to the Moon but until then — here are two rare opportunities.

Buzz Aldrin is signing Mission To Mars at the Barnes & Noble in Santa Monica tonight at 7:00 p.m.

And on Monday, July 28 he’ll be in Glendale at the Americana Barnes & Noble at 7:00 p.m.

In between, you’ll find Aldrin at the San Diego Comic-Con.

Buzz Aldrin signing for fans young and old in London last March.

Buzz Aldrin signing for fans young and old in London last March.

Bratman Reviews “Geeks! The Musical”

Geeks The Musical LogoBy David Bratman: File 770 sent me to the theater, so I ought to owe it a review.

Back in May, Mike blogged about an upcoming production in San Diego of a show called Geeks!: The Musical. Hey, I thought, Berni and I plan to be in San Diego while this is on, it might be fun to go.

Finding tickets was not the easiest thing. Mike’s main link was to a casting call on the site of the theater company that was hosting the show but not producing it, so they posted no further information. Fortunately the show had a separate website which was eventually updated with a ticket-purchase link to the San Diego production. It’s at http://www.geeksthemusical.com/. The story is set at Comic-Con, and it’s running through the real-life con and on to August 16.

We knew we were in for a low-rent job when we could hardly find the tiny theater, tucked behind a dry cleaner in the Hillcrest District, and when the door didn’t open to the waiting ticketholders until the supposed showtime, despite the flood of production personnel and cast members rushing in and out. On the other hand, once the door opened the show then got started in ten minutes, which you can do in a sixty-seat theater on a slow Thursday when it’s only half-full.

Let’s say what we can for it. The music, by LASFS’s own Ruth Judkowitz, was lively and tuneful. The accompaniment, prerecorded on keyboard by one of the cast members, worked functionally – there was only one minor production slipup in this performance – but it was overloud and sometimes drowned out the singers. The script and lyrics, by Thomas J. Misuraca, were very clever and often tickled my fancy.

The story takes place over several days at a Comic-Con, though it could be any large generic media-oriented SF con – the coincidence of running into somebody and the difficulty of finding them when you’re looking for them plays some role in the plot. It’s the story of three pairs of friends who come to the convention, one set specifically in hopes of selling the avant-garde comic they’re working on, the others to buy collectibles or to attend programming or just to people-watch. They interact, and romantic pairings, both straight and gay, ensue.

There’s lots and lots of references to media favorites, frequently in the form of metaphors, so even if you don’t know the referent you’ll probably get the point. But I got almost all the referents, so I’ve no doubt that most F770 readers minded to go will have no trouble. There’s a whole song in which one enthusiast tries to teach the rest of the characters the sequence of Doctors Who, but the rest of the songs are not quite that doggedly educational.

I was particularly caught by a couple of true geekish interactions in songs. One character makes a reference to Harry Potter’s cape and another actually interrupts the song to point out that it was a cloak, to which the first snaps, “Poetic license.” In another song, two characters are trading names of shows and authors to see if they have any mutual likes; when Tolkien comes up, the exchange is “Have you ever actually read him?” “No, but I saw the movies.” I’ve previously come across the claim that The Lord of the Rings is too hard a book to read, and I’d like to know to what extent that assumption is actually a thing in geek culture.

Berni was particularly pleased with a song in which the two female characters, a fangirl played by Sarah LeClair and a goth wanna-be writer played by Lorina Alfaro, extol female heroes. (That there aren’t a lot of women at the con is one aspect of the plot that’s perhaps a little unrealistic today.) I was equally taken by the solo song from a flamboyantly gay snob, played by James P. Darvas, whose refrain was “I Hate It” – “it” being just about any work you could mention. As a snooty critic myself, I could identify with that part. Many of the songs were appealing, though we could have done with less blatantly in-your-face declarations of sexuality.

Cast quality was mixed. LeClair as the romantic female lead was a good singer and a perky actress; she was also responsible for the pre-recorded accompaniment. Darvas is a very strong actor and dominated the stage whenever he was on. Probably the best in both singing and acting was the oldest member of the cast, Ed Hollingsworth as the seventh main character, a washed-up actor who’d once starred in a popular SF tv show decades ago, and who’s come to the con to make a few bucks selling autographs and in hopes of finding that he still has a few fans. His duet with LeClair was the most professional number. Unfortunately it’s not a good sign for a show when the male romantic lead is the worst singer, not even ready for a high-school show, let alone prime time, so let’s just pass over him anonymously.

So there were places where we winced, but a lot was also enjoyable. Thumb down from Berni, but thumb up from me as long as you expect what you’re getting.

Fiction For A Cure on Second Life

Kat Klaybourne and Michael Stackpole are leading a Fiction for a Cure event to raise funds for cancer research and Relay For Life of Second Life.

Over 30 authors are participating in Fiction for a Cure, which runs July 11-18 on the American Caner Society island in Second Life.

Over 40 auction items– signed books, games, graphic novels and collectibles – are available. Also Tuckerizations.

Authors supporting the event include Dana Stabenow, Diana Gabaldon, Tracy & Laura Hickman, R. A. Salvatore, Michael A. Stackpole, Claudia Christian, Kevin J. Anderson, Alan Dean Foster, Brian Pulido, John Kovalic, Patrick Rothfuss, Stephen R. Donaldson, Robert E. Vardeman and more.

The list of live auction items can be found here. Silent auction items can be found here. There are also raffle packages

A schedule of events can be found here. The remaining events are:

July 14th, 6pm SLT,  21 Days to a Novel writing class by Michael A. Stackpole.  Suggested donation: L$2,000 (approximately 2 hours)

July 15th, 3pm SLT, Introduction to Intellectual Property Presentation by Kat Alderson and Michael A. Stackpole. Suggested donation: L$1,000 (approximately 1 hour, Q&A to follow.  Note: There will be no discussion of, nor questions entertained about, the LL ToS.)

July 16th: 6pm SLT, Jed & The Titanium Turtle.  Reading of an original short story by Michael A. Stackpole. Suggest donation: L$500. (Q&A after, approximately 90 minutes)

July 17th, 2pm SLT: Pride and Prejudice Chapters 5 & 6 (Jane Austen) .  Reading by Kat Alderson. Suggested donation L$500 (approximately 60 minutes)

July 17th, 6pm SLT – Silent Auction ends.

July 18th 6pm SLT, Live Auction hosted by Michael A. Stackpole. Suggested donation: L$500. (approximately 2 hours, excluding intermission for announcements.)

July 18th 7pm SLT, Raffle Drawing and Announcements, hosted by Kat Alderson

Multiverse at Clarke Center 7/29

how big is the worldThe Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination will host “How Big is the World?”, a discussion about the multiverse in modern astrophysics, cosmology, and beyond, Tuesday, July 29 at 5:00 pm.  

Participants in the discussion will be Brian Keating (Physics, UC San Diego), Andrew Friedman (MIT, Astronomy), and David Brin (Hugo and Nebula winning author).

The event takes place on the UCSD campus in Atkinson Auditorium, first floor of Atkinson Hall. The event is free and open to the public, however, it is necessary to RSVP for admission.

At 4:30 p.m. David Brin will do a signing; books will be available for purchase.

Apex Book of World SF 3 Released

Apex World SF 3 coverThe Apex World of SF 3, Lavie Tidhar’s selection of 16 fantastic stories from authors worldwide, promises to “bring the richness and diversity of speculative fiction to the forefront.”

The third installment of Apex Publications’ World SF includes offers sf, fantasy and horror. Some stories are translations (from German, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Swedish), and some were written in English. The authors come from Asia and Europe, Africa and Latin America.

One story from the anthology, the novelette “Courtship in the Country of Machine-Gods” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew, was featured in the July issue of Apex Magazine and can be read online here.

Free Reading: Finnish Weird

By Crystal Huff: The Finns have put together a free ebook publication, Finnish Weird, which is an introduction (entirely in English) of Finnish rising authors and some of their short stories done in the style of suomikumma, or Finnish Weird.  It’s online at http://www.finnishweird.net/. Paper copies will also be available at Loncon 3 next month, while supplies last.

The Finnish Weird publication was my first introduction to Emmi Itäranta’s brand new novel, Memory of Water, which I’ve just begun reading. It’s incredibly lyrical, captivating, and distressing, all at once. She wrote it simultaneously in Finnish and English, so neither is a translation of the other (although when you buy the novel, you have to choose which language to read it in).

Barron Tribute Anthology

cool-cov300 COMPMany of the brightest lights in dark fiction to pay homage to one of horror’s masters in The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron from WordHorde, edited by Ross E. Lockhart and Justin Steele.

Laird Barron is a three-time winner of the Shirley Jackson Award. Earlier this year he won a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Fiction Collection with The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and Other Stories.

Co-editor Justin Steele says –

Barron’s fiction has long been an inspiration to his peers. The interwoven stories and novels create a rich tapestry of noir-infused cosmic horror. This mythology makes for an excellent backdrop for the weird tales within.

Lockhart and Steele allowed Barron’s fans, colleagues and friends a unique opportunity to play in what Publishers Weekly calls Barron’s “worm-riddled literary playground.”

Table of Contents

Introduction: Of Whisky and Doppelgängers – Justin Steele
The Harrow – Gemma Files
Pale Apostle – Jesse Bullington and J. T. Glover
Walpurgisnacht – Orrin Grey
Learn to Kill – Michael Cisco
Good Lord, Show Me the Way – Molly Tanzer
Snake Wine – Jeffrey Thomas
Love Songs from the Hydrogen Jukebox – T.E. Grau
The Old Pageant – Richard Gavin
Notes for “The Barn in the Wild” – Paul Tremblay
Firedancing – Michael Griffin
The Golden Stars at Night – Allyson Bird
The Last Crossroads on a Calendar of Yesterdays – Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
The Woman in the Wood – Daniel Mills
Brushdogs – Stephen Graham Jones
Ymir – John Langan
Of a Thousand Cuts – Cody Goodfellow
Tenebrionidae – Scott Nicolay and Jesse James Douthit-Nicolay
Afterword – Ross E. Lockhart

On July 15, Word Horde will commemorate the book’s official release with a virtual toast to Old Leech himself via social media, where all are encouraged to share their thoughts about the anthology and its inspiration, Laird Barron, using the hashtag #TCoOL.

This Day In History 7/2

On July 2, 1959 Plan 9 from Outer Space opened in theaters. Plan 9 is considered by many critics, including Michael Medved, to be the worst film in Hollywood’s history.

Plan_9_Alternative_posterHarlan Ellison recently asked readers of his forum to pick the worst movie ever made, and he warned, “Plan 9 From Outer Space is a true no-brainer, so no one gets any props for throwing THAT ‘usual suspect’ into a competition requiring REAL CHOICES.”

Plan 9‘s popularity as the worst movie ever made actually has prevented it from ranking anywhere near the bottom of quality metrics. For example, Rotten Tomatoes reports that 66% of critics gave the film positive reviews.

In honor of this historic occasion I offer the following four question trivia quiz.

(1)  What did Ed Wood originally intend to be the title of the movie?

(2) Is it true that Bela Lugosi died on the second day of filming?

(3)  What popular TV psychic provided Plan 9’s introductory narrative?

(4) Plan 9 had cheap, horrible special effects. Was its iconic flying saucer a –

(a) Paper plate

(b) Hubcap

(c) A commercially available toy

Answers appear after the jump.

Continue reading