Swarovski Crystal Star Wars Figures

John King Tarpinian snapped this photo of Swarovski’s window display at his local mall.

Just won the lottery and need the right holiday gift for the Star Wars fan in your life? That’s the price level we’re talking about, for the big guy, anyway…


Star Wars – Darth Vader, Limited Edition 2017

$ 10,250.00

Limited to 300 pieces worldwide, this unique masterpiece is only crafted on demand and comes with a certificate of authenticity. An exclusive design showing Darth Vader, one of the most popular and iconic characters from the Star Wars movie series, with over 29’000 hand-set crystals. Authentic and detailed, this stunning Limited Edition showcases Swarovski’s expertise in the Pointiage® technique, and each piece takes over 120 hours to complete. Each one is engraved with its own edition number on the granite base, and delivered in a premium blue suitcase. The shipping procedure includes insurance and a delivery notice. Find out more about this procedure under Online Shop Assistant – Order Process. Decoration object. Not a toy. Not suitable for children under 15.

  • Size: 10 3/4 x 5 1/2 x 3 7/8 inches

Star Wars – R2-D2

$ 239.00

Fans of Star Wars: The Force Awakens can find a home for iconic droid R2-D2. The lovable character has been expertly crafted in crystal and features 446 luminous facets and detailed prints. Sure to amuse and impress, it’s a must-have for any aficionado. Decoration object. Not a toy. Not suitable for children under 15.

  • Size: 2 5/8 x 1 3/4 x 1 5/8 inches

Star Wars – C-3PO

$ 325.00

From a galaxy far, far away to your own home, with this stunning depiction of C-3PO. Exquisitely crafted in golden and red crystal, it boasts black detailing and a white crystal base. In all, the ever-helpful droid, which featured in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, features 537 sparkling facets. The perfect present for those who follow the Star Wars franchise. Decoration object. Not a toy. Not suitable for children under 15.

  • Size: 4 3/8 x 2 1/8 x 1 7/8 inches

Star Wars – BB-8

$ 129.00

Bring the excitement of Star Wars into your home with this exquisite depiction of BB-8. Instantly recognizable from his turn in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, everyone’s new favorite droid has been expertly crafted in crystal with 226 sparkling facets and detailed prints. A must for any Star Wars fan. Decoration object. Not a toy. Not suitable for children under 15.

  • Size: 1 7/8 x 1 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Bryan Talbot Exhibit at Orbital Comics in London

By James Bacon: I took the opportunity to visit the Grandville Art Exhibition at Orbital Comics, near to Leicester Square Tube Station, with fans Ian Stockdale and Andrea Carney. As Andrea commented a ‘very cool place’ and indeed, the shop is worthy of its Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer accolade, which it won last year.

The shop itself holds considerable stock, new comics adorn the walls as one enters, collected editions are stacked, and as ever what sets a comic shop apart from its peers is the unusual Orbital Comics has an annex full of international and local works, small press from near and afar, while the back issues are substantial, and to ensure that every quarter of comics is represented, they have a delightful selection of second-hand stock. This combined with in house comic art and framed posters of previous events, gives one the feeling that this is a genuine place where comics are loved.

Another annex is where the exhibits are shown with regularity, and we were lucky to visit at the opening of the current show, Grandville Force Majeure, by Bryan Talbot.

Without doubt, one of the finest comics of the year is about to be released. The fifth story in the series by Bryan Talbot, is incredible. I first saw images shown by Bryan for Grandville at Eastercon in 2008, and I was immediately intrigued. Comic artist and writer Bryan Talbot had just come down from the huge wave of appreciation for his previous work, Alice in Sunderland, and yet here he was showing eager fans his next project.

An anthropomorphic steampunk story. I saw a badger in detective’s clothing toting huge revolvers and in an obvious altered metropolitan setting of Paris and was excited. The official word was ‘Two hundred years ago, Britain lost the Napoleonic War and fell under the thumb of French domination. Gaining independence after decades of civil disobedience and anarchist bombings, the Socialist Republic of Britain is now a small, unimportant backwater connected by a railway bridge, steam-powered dirigible, and mutual suspicion to France. When a British diplomat’s murder is made to look like suicide, ferocious Detective-Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard stalks a ruthless murder squad through the heart of a Belle Epoque Paris, the center of the greatest empire in a world of steam-driven hansom cabs, automatons, and flying machines. LeBrock’s relentless quest can lead only to death, truth . . . or war.’. When I saw that it was stated that on the cover that the story is ‘Scientific Romance Thriller’ I was impressed. It spoke to me.

Nine years later the fifth story in the Grandville Series by Bryan Talbot is about to be released and it is one of the finest comics of the year and is incredible. We are at a point where Bryan Talbot has clearly signalled that for us fans the series is now coming to an end. Each book is a beautiful edition and Grandville Force Majeure is a lovely finishing point for this fantastical intelligent alternative history series with anthropomorphic characters.

Bryan Talbot himself, as previously mentioned, is a regular at many science fiction events, a Guest of Honour at Loncon 3, he was an early member of the Tolkien Society who he provided illustrations to and did the very first cover for Dark Horizons, the fanzine of the British Weird Fantasy Society, which was a breakaway from the BSFA, and came to be The British Fantasy Society. I consider him to be a real supporter of many events, and a fine elegant speaker with vast knowledge of comics.

Grandville Force Majeure is longer than its predecessors and this adds depth and delightfully it has a spoiler-proof sealed section, to prevent eager readers unwittingly flicking through and destroying what is a wonderful story. One can assume there must be twists and turns, but to say more about the details, is to defy what Bryan Talbot has worked to do, and spoil what is a story that is captivating and compelling. It is a fabulous ending, drawing in a whole new aspect to LeBrock, our anthropomorphic Badger Detective of the Yard. I was very pleased with how this comic gives a lovely amount of back story to our protagonist and how that links to what is occurring and also presented us with a lot more detail and for me a wonderful pastiche nod in the form of LeBrock’s mentor, Hawksmoor.

Grandville has won the Prix SNCF award for best crime graphic novel and the books have been nominated twice as finalists for the Hugo Awards, and given how good this one is, I would not at all be surprised of it also receives a finalist Hugo nomination next year. This is a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging read, so I was particularly looking forward to seeing the original art on display. I had hoped that there’d be a decent amount of artwork of the latest Force Majeure on display, what I didn’t anticipate was a whole retrospective of all five graphic novels, which surpassed my expectations.

The four walls of the exhibition space in Orbital Comics were filled with some twenty-five pages of artwork, with some from all five comics in the series. This was good.

Straightaway, one is looking at the action page from page four of Grandville. The whole four-panel sequence captures so much movement and conveys the story so brilliantly.

It’s really really clean. The black and white artwork is spotless, and indeed I have to say I did not find the lack of colour in any way impacting my appreciation of the art. Movement and action are also portrayed on page ninety, where a fight is taking place, and then with page forty-nine, one sees how detailed and accurate the architecture of a back street can look, while the rain falling adds an energizing dimension to the art, the droplets and water are depicted perfectly.

Again architecture and Bryan’s amazing penmanship was on display, with page seven of Grandville Mon Amour. We see Roderick near Big Ben, and the street scene busy, with the city scene expertly and accurately drawn. A juxtaposition with page twenty, where the twelve-panel layout and close-up work is a joy. Seeing the work up close from the hairs on the cat to the detail of Paris in the distance or the ornate door and its crumbling surround next to a character, demonstrates how much effort and work Bryan puts in here, and how dynamic an artist he is.

There are three pages from Grandvile Noel and page one captures such a serious scene. The uniforms, the setting the farmland architecture in the distance, all so important to setting the scene. While obvious elements, clothing, flags and so on give an immediate sense of location, it is the grain silo and the windmill in the distance that real give it a sense of place, solidly and accurately portraying an element that could jar and extract the reader from the immersion of the story. This is very important, and something that is occasionally forgotten, although not by the reader, I always will recall an issue of Hellblazer with yellow cabs, US Postal Service post boxes and other American street furniture, when the setting was London, an unfortunate misunderstanding perhaps some twenty-five years ago. While current alternative history comics which portray military uniforms and equipment inaccurately, or even in a distorted fashion undermines and in some cases rends the story apart or useless, such is the importance of cohesiveness between the sequential art and the script.

Bryan Talbot being a master of everything with these comics provides an impeccable standard that one gets to enjoy, and is without doubt able to capture items of pure imagination and conjecture with a sense of realness that is perfect, and believable in this fantastical world. His attention to detail continually shows through, and this works very well in invented elements that are pure science fiction, although I hope some ideas have had an interesting conceptual influence.

There are two pages from Grandville Bete Noir and page ninety-three is such an amazingly lovely view, and a fantastic one to see up close.

The final wall has seven pieces from Grandville Force Majeure. There’s a refinement to the art that I normally don’t expect in its raw form. Minimal pencil work is in view, does Bryan just get it the first time, every time. There is some light blue and light pencil in view, but this is to do with the positioning, lining up and framing of the panels. With that, one can see the thought and accuracy of vision that is being given to the readers.

This is something with Bryan Talbot’s work that appeals so much, intrigues and excites. There is often much more to it all than at first one realises. In fairness to Force Majuere, once I realised that there would be other anthropomorphic characters, as in those from other works in the story, just as cameos, I had a great time working out which references, names and of course likenesses were which, and then pondering if I had speculated incorrectly. I smiled widely when I saw Blacksad. This is just one example of his attention to detail, his appreciation for the art, and of course, something I spotted, I am certain there are many secrets in these pages, notions and ideas that exist but that are not immediately clear, or indeed, need and welcome explanation or enlightenment and I love that.

The exhibit space with benches, and a huge banner of the cover of Force Majeure is just right, and I spent considerable time looking, and re-looking at the art, while next door the gentle bustle of comic browsing took place, but separate momentarily as one considered the beauty of this art.

So as I was in Orbital Comics, I got chatting to Karl who manages the shop and took some quick notes. Karl  seemed to share many of my own feelings on Grandville, and I was interested and asked what he liked and he responded, ‘the clear lines, a definite development in Bryan’s style, the fun of the anthropomorphic characters and the humorous and emotional beats thus offered to the tales.’.

I wondered how it was for him working with Bryan and how it made him feel.  Karl had a good experience and said ‘Bryan is a consummate professional, and always a pleasure to work with! Plus I have been a fan since back in the day, probably his Luther Arkwright and Nemesis works first, although subsequently discovering the  Brainstorm Comix, and the adventures of Chester P. Hackenbush was an eye opener! To see that storytelling develop, through to Alice in Sunderland, and of course the beautiful books created with Mary up to now, the Grandville finale, is a pleasure, and to host this exhibition and launch, an honour.’

An honour, I thought, as a fan it is a pleasure to see this artwork here on display, I feel lucky that I can see this, and grateful that the art is here. There is an appreciation amongst comic people I think, of things that are good. Is that simplified, that the aesthetics of a shop, the experience we have at conventions, or the pleasure we gain from art displayed and comics read is incredibly subjective and personal, yet I find amongst fans and professionals, one can – generally- engage positively and share that appreciation. Karl is one of those people, but I am still impressed with this approach ‘ I do love comic art, we are very lucky to have the space to be able to share an incredible variety of styles, genres, workshops, group shows, and to simply proclaim ” comics are art ” without fuss. ‘

That is quite wonderful I thought, as I considered the artwork that I have viewed there, in Orbital Comics, and how much effort goes into such an endeavour, and wasn’t it not that long ago that they started here with Watchmen Artwork ‘We have been exhibiting for 8 years now, one of the first shows featured the original artwork for page 1 of Watchmen, the smiley face falling in the rain, which sold shortly afterwards for a pitiful $30K.’ said Karl. Crikey, I thought, eight years, that is some amount of work.

Some of the exhibits have been especially good, although I pressed Karl about what he had enjoyed, and he said ‘the Image Duplicator show in May 2012, comic artists responding to the then current Lichtenstein show at Tate Modern. That felt a little bit like ” sticking it to the art establishment “! and the ” In Orbit ” show this time last year, which was artwork by the Orbital staff, past and current – a formidable and wildly eclectic group!’

This exhibit runs now until December 5, and then coming up, immediately following Bryan’s Grandville show, Orbital Comics have a ‘”Kirby Consciousness” exhibit, a turn of phrase coined by Shaky Kane, which features a huge number of artists paying tribute to Jack Kirby in this, his centennial.’ said Karl who mentioned that they will be teasing it on their site although Karl was very keen to praise the variety of people who participate in the exhibits. The Kirby Consciousness exhibition runs from December 9 to January 14, with a special private view event after hours on Friday December 8.

As I walked away with Andrea and Ian, and on our path to meet Russell Smith, there was mutual agreement that this was a destination worth visiting and that seeing artwork in its original state in a fine yet unassuming gallery amongst comics was brilliant.

Royal Mail Issuing Star Wars: The Last Jedi Stamps

Britain’s Royal Mail will issue a set of Star Wars: The Last Jedi commemorative stamps on October 12.

STAR WARS:THE LAST JEDI, is blasting its way onto cinema screens from 14 December 2017. To celebrate, we’re proud to announce eight new STAR WARS stamps, limited-edition collectibles and gifts, packed with friendly (and not so friendly) characters.

Beautifully illustrated by UK digital artist, Malcolm Tween, some of the stamps feature secret details, revealed only by UV light.

The iconic stamps, first day covers, and related souvenirs can be pre-ordered now.

“Scared To Death: The Thrill of Horror Film” Coming to Museum of Pop Culture 9/30

Pages from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (Book of the Dead) from Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, 1987

Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) will open a new exhibition, Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film, on September 30. This original exhibit takes an in-depth look at more than a century of horror cinema, from blood-thirsty vampires and unrelenting zombies to fiendish slashers.

The exhibit presents the broad range of iconic horror villains and the stories over the generations that have brought them to life. It features a macabre display of more than 50 props and costumes from film and television including The Walking Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blade, Bride of Frankenstein, The Thing, Dawn of the Dead, Hostel, Jeepers Creepers, Pet Sematary, and more.

Taking inspiration from the genre, the 3,000 square foot gallery space is designed to evoke the unsettling sensations associated with cinematic terror. Themed sections include an unholy vampire chapel with walls dripping blood, a zombie containment area with an aquarium wall of submerged zombie heads from The Walking Dead, and a slasher’s den with a thicket of corpses suspended from the ceiling. The exhibit will also feature multi-media experiences including exhibit films, oral history interviews, and interactive photo ops.

Says Jacob McMurray, Senior Curator, MoPOP,  “We are also thrilled to add acclaimed directors Karyn Kusama and Roxanne Benjamin to join our guest curators, Roger Corman, John Landis, and Eli Roth.”

ARTIFACT HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Sweater worn by Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984
  • Severed heads from The Walking Dead, 2012
  • Church the Cat prop from Pet Sematary, 1989
  • Creeper costume worn by Jonathan Breck in Jeepers Creepers, 2001
  • Machete prop from Dawn of the Dead, 1978
  • Costume worn by Wesley Snipes in Blade, 1998
  • Lament Configuration Box from Hellraiser: Inferno, 2000
  • Pamela Voorhees severed head prop, from Friday the 13th, 1980
  • Stunt stake gun used in Fright Night, 2011
  • Hacksaw used by Carey Elwes as Dr. Lawrence Gordon in Saw, 2004
  • Hero functioning repeater crossbow used by Hugh Jackman in Van Helsing, 2004
  • Hi-8 camcorder used onscreen in The Blair Witch Project, 1999
  • “Gill Man” mask from Creature from the Black Lagoon, 1954
  • Mr. Pointy stake used by sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 1998
  • Pages from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (Book of the Dead) from Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, 1987
  • Special effects switchboard used in Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and other films 1930-1965
  • Axe used by Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining, 1980
  • Chainsaw used by the German Surgeon in Hostel, 2005

Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film is included with museum admission. Due to some graphic content, this exhibit is recommended for ages 13 and up.

Pages from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (Book of the Dead) from Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, 1987

LA City Council Approves George Lucas Art Museum

The Los Angeles City Council voted 14-0 to approve an environmental impact report and other requirements needed to clear the way for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art’s construction adjacent to the University of Southern California.

With Tuesday’s approval, plans are to break ground as early as this year and open the museum to the public in 2021. Other than the use of public land, the project is expect to be fully paid for by Lucas and his wife, Mellody Hobson.

Los Angeles Mayor Erik Garcetti said —

People come to Los Angeles from all over the world to be inspired by art, and to see things they have only imagined become real through storytelling. The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will add another world-class institution to our city’s cultural landscape, and bring a breathtaking architectural jewel to Exposition Park. I am proud to have worked with George Lucas and Mellody Hobson to bring this incredible gift to Los Angeles — and I applaud the City Council for voting to approve a gem for South L.A. that will touch the lives of Angelenos and visitors for generations to come.

After failing to win permission to build on the grounds of the Presidio in San Francisco, and being blocked by litigation from accepting a lakefront site in Chicago, Lucas had simultaneously offered the museum to Los Angeles and San Francisco, a competition that depended in part on which city could get the museum through its legal approval process most quickly. LA won out.

Lucas told the press —

I wanted to put it in my hometown. They said no. Mellody wanted to put it in her hometown. They said no. We were both basically heartbroken.

And then we said, ‘All right, let’s clear the boards and find a place that really wants it.’

The museum’s website says the facility “will feature a bold new architectural design and will be a one-of-a-kind gathering place to experience collections, films and exhibitions dedicated to the power of visual storytelling and the evolution of art and moving images.”

The museum collection will began with a large gift from the founders:

  • Traditional paintings by Edgar Degas, Winslow Homer and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, as well as a broad range of original works in popular mediums such as illustration, children’s art, comic art and photography from many periods and cultures. Major holdings include a large number of works by Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, and N.C. Wyeth;
  • An in-depth exploration of all facets of cinematic art and its design processes, including original concept art, storyboards, set design, props, costume and fashion, animation and visual effects;
  • Ground-breaking digital technologies and media used by artists in cinema and other art forms;
  • An expansive art and cinematic research library (print and digital).

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will be in Exposition Park near the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the California Science Center and the California African American Museum.

Likhain’s Artist Guest of Honour Speech at Continuum 13

Likhain’s artwork above was used by Continuum 13 on t-shirts and the programme book.

[Editor’s introduction: Likhain is a Filipina artist and writer from Manila who now lives in rural Australia with her partner. And she is a 2017 Hugo nominee for Best Fan Artist. The guest of honor speech she gave this weekend at the Australian National Convention is posted here by permission.]

Thank you all for coming; I’m privileged to be here before you today. To begin I would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation, the traditional custodians and caretakers of the land on which we meet, and to pay my respect to all elders past and present.

Today I’d like to tell you three stories, in the hopes that they speak to you. And this is the first story:

I was sixteen when I learned that I was born to be a villain.

At this point I was a voracious reader of fantasy and science fiction; I’d been scolded several times in class for reading David Eddings instead of taking notes; I’d done the whole “hide novel inside larger textbook” thing. And I was very happy; I had epic stories and interesting characters and amazing worlds to explore. I did not feel any sort of lack.

This began to change on my third — maybe fourth — reread of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I was deep in the third book, I think, reading about the histories of Numenor, with Tolkien’s sonorous phrasing resonating in my mind; these fair and grave lords of men, tall and gray-eyed; the fair elves, with their flawless faces and graceful ways; and my two favorite characters, both surpassingly fair, Eowyn the White Lady of Rohan and Arwen Undomiel the Evenstar.

That time I paused and was struck with the realization that there was no way I could ever be like any of them — not the Numenoreans or elves, not Eowyn or Arwen. I was not one of those who could have joined the Fellowship, or who could have fought with Rohan or Gondor’s armies.

I was on the other side. I was an Easterling. Or I was a Southron, one of the Haradrim. One of the bad guys. The barbarians. One of the nameless, faceless villains in their dark hordes.

It is not only that I was not fair. This went deeper than skin, because it was tied to history, to sociopolitics, to where my country was situated in relation to the rest of the world. To cultural imperialism and language and who got to write stories that would be published and read all over the world. Who got to speak; who got to be heard.

In the books I read, it never was me. I was never one of the heroes. At best I was a sidekick, but most of the time I was an exotic slave or part of the armies of evil. I belonged to the countries that were far away and thus didn’t matter; to places that were uncomprehended and therefore savage and hostile, to cultures defined solely by the oppression or brutality of their people.

I did not stop reading fantasy at this point. I read on, even when Daenerys Targaryen emerged to conquer the lands of Essos and that image of her, pale and silver-haired, elevated above a sea of brown bodies, burned itself into my brain. I tried to believe that these things were coincidences, like my white friends assured me. That they meant nothing to me in the real world. I knew this to be a lie, but I swallowed it so I could keep reading the kinds of books I loved.

I’ll tell you now what it felt like. It was being a beggar outside a feast, nose pressed against the glass, imagining what it must be like to gorge oneself on all that delicious food. It was hunger that would never go away.

It was acceptance that this was how the white West saw me and people like me. It was a sort of cognizance that this was the way that literature, and indeed the rest of the world, worked. And it was, in the end, a kind of resignation. Yes, I was a beggar, but better to be on the outskirts of the feast than to never know that such food existed at all.

Why am I telling you this? I want you to see where I’m coming from. That for me — and for many others — being part of fandom, loving stories of fantasy and science fiction and horror and all the marvelous genres in between, is not a neutral or bloodless act. That this comes with a price more than time or opportunity or money. That some of us pay this price more often or more painfully than others, not by choice but by necessity.

Stories can cause such harm they make one hate one’s skin and people and history; they can justify one’s cruelty to oneself and one’s fellows because you’re all less human, anyway. They can say, with a terrible finality, no. You cannot aspire to respect or dignity, much less heroism. You cannot do great things.

 

My second story is this: I was twenty-four when I learned that my people understood beauty.

I knew very little about my country’s history before the colonizers came. The Philippines was colonized by Spain for three centuries, and during that time the Spanish sought to scour all traces of pre-existing culture from my country. They did a thorough job of it; not much survived, and of what was left most people know very little.

So my history only glanced briefly at what came before the Spanish colonial period. What came before was murky and dark. I have encountered something like that here; the untruth, embedded in so many structures, of terra nullius, where nothing existed before settlers came to birth Australia from this land’s unwilling womb. It’s a prevalent story, and one that’s easy to sell; we started with nothing, we brought civilization here and built this country from the ground up. Look at this arrow of progress.

Because I knew little I grew up with the subconscious belief — and I say subconscious because if you had asked me I would have denied it, for all that it clung to my spine — that my ancestors were primitive savages who knew nothing of literature, or music, or art. That our conquerors had elevated us to a civilized state in exchange for our land, our freedom, and our blood.

Then I went with my partner to an exhibit at Ayala Museum in the Philippines called “Gold of Ancestors”. It featured gold pieces from pre-Hispanic times that had been excavated from all over the Philippines, and it blew everything wide open.

Have you ever stood in the middle of a museum floor, hands pressed to your face, trying not to weep aloud? I have. My assumptions of primitive savagery shattered all around me; the depth of my ignorance hit me like a blow. How could I have thought that my ancestors had no imagination or skill? That they had no artistry or the faintest concept of beauty? How could I have bought into the terrible idea that they were savage? How could I have believed that before, there was nothing? In that exhibit I saw jewelry from the 14th century that was so intricately detailed I couldn’t imagine how anyone could have done it by hand. And yet my people had.

This was where my art truly began. Until this moment I worked on ink drawings inspired by Japanese kimono textiles and Baroque and Rococo styles, heavily flavored with the fairy tale aesthetic of illustrators like Arthur Rackham. I did my art that way because this is what I admired and knew, while being conscious that it wasn’t fully mine. It didn’t emerge out of my roots or history; but that was understood because my culture didn’t have anything of our own that wasn’t externally imposed.

But this– this was something that belonged fully to me and to which I belonged fully. This, too, was a story, because everything in that exhibit was part of a narrative that spoke of artistry where I thought I’d find clumsy handiwork; glorious existence where I’d only known void. This was a story that gave me a foundation I could build upon.

And so I did.

Stories can also heal us. They can close up gaping wounds we don’t even know we bear. They can lift us up and say, Yes. Move forward. Through stories we can reclaim histories that have been stolen from us, even if the theft happened centuries ago. And through that reclamation we can begin to confront the trauma of generations of war and colonization and say: yes, we’ve inherited all this darkness. But we’ve inherited light, too.

 

My third story is not actually a single story, but a multitude of stories. And so I can only tell you about a few of them, and you can discover the others on your own.

Because my third telling is one about stories of revolution. In my country’s history our revolutions have been fueled by stories; I think all momentous changes are, but especially uprisings against entrenched power. Because how can you persuade people to fight against the current balance of power, if not by telling them a story? That the world doesn’t have to be this way; that the world can change.

Towards the end of the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines, two people told two stories. One, the artist Juan Luna, painted Spoliarium, which won the highest honor in the Madrid Exposition of 1884. This story told people that Filipinos — indios, barbarians, who didn’t know how to create anything before their colonial masters came to their land — were capable of art that surpassed their colonizers.

The second, the polymath Jose Rizal, wrote two novels: Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Rizal was killed for these novels; these stories so inflamed Filipinos and so angered Spanish authorities that their author faced execution by firing squad. When I first read these books I was a grumpy high schooler who didn’t see why these books were so incendiary. (Spoiler alert, except it’s not really a spoiler because there are no good endings in Philippine colonial history–) They both end badly, with the Filipino heroes either dying, being defeated, or being imprisoned in a tortuous rapehouse. The second book does involve an attempt at a revolution, but it fails horribly.

I grew to understand, though, that succeeding in the fictional revolution wasn’t the point. The point was that Rizal held up a mirror to the Philippines of his time, and showed people their true faces. He showed the greed and cruelty of the Spanish friars; he showed the arrogance of the Spanish ruling class; he showed the indifference and incompetence of officials both in the government and in the academe; he showed the injustice of the systems of society, damned if you do and damned if you don’t, you’ll be crushed under the machine; he showed the thousand slow deaths — by madness, by starvation, by bullets, by imprisonment, by suicide — that countless Filipinos died under Spanish rule. He showed the sheer impossibility of continuing to live in that world.

This is why this story fanned the flames of revolution. This story told people the truth, and the sheer force of this truth drove people to act. If this is the world we live in, I will fight until this world changes.

For isn’t that the power of stories, at their core? They change worlds. We’re all here because we recognize that. We have all been transformed and shaped and molded by stories. Stories have saved us. They have made us laugh and weep; they have moved us to the depths of our being; they have driven us to make difficult choices and they have fortified us through our darkest times. For many of us, they have affirmed our existence and our right to live. We here are all children of stories.

And we hold on to this — now, more than ever. These are terrible times for so many people all around the world. In my country over seven thousand people have been killed in the past nine months, all in the name of a war on drugs. You don’t need me to tell you about how terrible Australia is right now for so many, especially refugees, Indigenous people, and homeless people; or the wars and killings and terrorism attacks all over the world, with countless people forced to flee for their lives, or having to try to fight politicians who are determined to legislate them to their deaths.

And it’s hard to think about what we can do in the face of so much darkness and horror. But we can act. For this is the world we live in — fight until it changes.

We can take back the stories. Refute the narrative of hatred and despair. In our actions, in our speech, in our connections with others — we can write our own stories. We can overwrite xenophobia and racism with the truer story, that is compassion and a shared humanity. We can shout back at the blaring tale of hateful patriarchy with our defiant resolve to own our agency. We can drown out bigotry and the countless false stories that seek to divide us from each other with our collective story, that stitched together tale-within-a-tale of a community whose members believe that we are not free until we are all free. We can speak up and speak out for the stories stifled by oppressive structures and imbalances of power; we can say these stories have a right to be heard. We can tell, in our daily lives, the story of the person who planted themselves like a tree by the river of truth and told the overwhelming tide of falseness, “No, you move.”

And going back to my first story — in our fannish space, as creators and fans, we can change the stories that populate our shared worlds of imagination so that they stop exacting such a toll on people’s lives and hearts and do not perpetuate further harm. We can support and nourish stories of reclamation, as with the gold exhibit: to bring people who have been severed from their cultures back to themselves; to center those who have long been shunted off to the margins; to give people who have long been boxed in by toxic narratives the space and freedom to live full lives instead of stereotypes. We can make more space for stories that say: yes! Go and live. Your life matters.

This isn’t about political correctness or diversity quotas or agendas. This is about justice. Because we live in an unjust world, where only certain people are allowed to tell stories — are allowed to even have stories. Shouldn’t we change that? Shouldn’t everyone be given the chance to believe that they, too, can do great things; that they, too, exist, that they matter?

We know how powerful stories can be. We’ve seen the difference they can make, revealing us to ourselves so that we may act upon those illuminated truths. I ask that we fight, we children of story, to change the stories within us and without us. In our homes and communities and societies and in the quiet spaces of our bodies. We cannot let our stories, these stories of our identities and our histories and our roots, fall silent. Silence is death, and stories support and undergird life.

I’m going to end with a surprise fourth story. This is not mine; it’s by Italo Calvino, towards the end of his beautiful book Invisible Cities, where Kublai Khan is speaking out of despair:

Already the Great Khan was leafing through his atlas, over the maps of the cities that menace in nightmares and maledictions…

He said: “It is all useless, if the last landing place can only be the infernal city, and it is there that, in ever-narrowing circles, the current is drawing us.”

And Polo said: “The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”

That is the core of our work going forward: make them endure, give them space. Hold fast. Uplift our true stories.

Thank you for your time. Maraming salamat po. Mabuhay tayong lahat.

Pasadena Memorial Day Ceremony

By John King Tarpinian: Today was the dedication of the statue created by Christopher Slatoff, known by us as the man who created the Father Electrico bronze inspired by Ray Bradbury.

Here is a close-up of some details of the statute: Razor blade, bullet, matches, and Legos. Baseball not pictured.

This morning was also the annual fly-over of the San Gabriel Valley by WW2 aircraft. This photo was taken looking towards the Pasadena Elks Lodge, with the Rose Bowl being to the left.

Villafranca Comments on Winning WFA Design Competition

Vincent Villafranca reacted to the news that his World Fantasy Award design has won the competition and shared some insights about the imagery he used:

I am thrilled to have had my design selected to be the new World Fantasy Award. This design relies heavily upon the majesty surrounding trees. I have always viewed trees as being magical, mysterious and oftentimes macabre. They have spurred human imagination for millennia and continue to do so. I live in a rural area in north Texas and am surrounded by numerous ancient oaks. I have always felt that the trees are full of stories. Many of the older oaks have witnessed sweeping changes brought on by humans and extreme weather events brought on by nature.

It was my intention to leave the design open-ended so that it could be interpreted by the viewer. However, one personal view of the design that I would like to share is that the tree represents the story written on paper, and it is being depicted as grasping the mind of the reader, which is represented by the disc. The sculpture can be seen in many ways, but what remains constant is that trees are intrinsically powerful and magnificent.

The artist is already hard at work doing all the bronze-casting/welding involved in making the awards.

The Art of Plasma at Museum of Neon Art

By John King Tarpinian: Today I paid a visit to one of my favorite museums, The Museum of Neon Art.   The current exhibition features plasma, not the stuff you get in the ER but of the ionized gas variety.  I have zero artistic abilities but I do appreciate anybody who can draw a straight line without a ruler, something I cannot do.  Went with a friend who works for Disney, so she could really appreciate what was being created.  I highly recommend paying the museum a visit.  This current one is on display thru July.

That Riverside Whelan Exhibit

By John Hertz:  We’ve long known Michael Whelan was among our best.

He was first a Hugo Award finalist in 1979, for Best Pro Artist.  Next year he won that, and since then twelve times more, plus Nonfiction Book for his Works of Wonder (1988) and Original Artwork for The Summer Queen (1992), an unequaled 15 Hugos; 31 times a finalist.

He was Graphic Artist Guest of Honor at the 56th World Science Fiction Convention and (with Amano Yoshitaka) at the 65th.

He’s been voted Best Artist in 31 Locus Polls, most recently in 2016; 44 times a finalist.

He has 13 Chesleys (Ass’n of S-F Artists); 53 times a finalist.  More honors too.

Now the Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, California, is holding an exhibit of his work, as announced (with links) here.  It opened on February 11th and runs through May 25th.

That’s news.  In the wide wide world our graphic art is not well-known.  People familiar with Chen Ju-Yuan or Salvador Dalí or Tamara de Lempicka or Paula Rego or Andrew Wyeth aren’t acquainted with Michael Whelan.  He is not in the New York Museum of Modern Art, or the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.

Vincent Di Fate’s superb and still indispensable survey Infinite Worlds is not on curators’ shelves.

The Riverside Art Museum is a pioneer in staging an exhibit of a leading S-F artist.

I went to the opening-night reception.  Here’s the banner outside the front door.  You’ll recognize the striking 1984 cover illustration for Asimov’s Robots of Dawn.

Whelan seems to have adopted the term alternative realism; see it on the banner.  It suits him.  It may be a good name for the mode of which he is such a master.  The greater the reality, the better the fantasy is elemental to S-F.

I found him surrounded by admirers – which was as it should be – wearing a Revolver necktie and answering questions.  When I remarked on the tie, a man said “Oh yes, old Beatles.”  I said “Old-fashioned is old-fashioned.”

The Museum has done well by him.  A gallery of 1,560 square feet (146 square meters) displays 54 pieces, some time-honored, some new.

The exhibit, and a Kickstarter commemorative book, are called Beyond Science Fiction.  This may be wise.

Before I went, I winced.  Did we need another apology?  Another variation on Robert Conquest’s theme “‘S-F’s no good,’ they bellow till we’re deaf.  ‘But this is good.’  ‘Well, then, it’s not S-F”?

Looking at the pictures I saw a different perspective.

Most of them were book covers (I’ll get to “palette gremlins” in a moment).  They were, they had to be, indeed they were proudly illustrations.  Whelan is an illustrator.

Kelly Freas would never let himself be named anything else; he declined artist (over my protest, among others), and viewed with suspicion what he more or less privately called “easel painters”.

Of course an illustration has to illustrate – which means shed light on.  It had better be good art – but what’s that? not that it means nothing: we’d not keep using it if we thought it meant nothing: but it’s fiendishly difficult to get a grip on.  Kelly Freas (that was his surname, folks) used to say an illustration has to make you want to read the story.

Superficial?  Maybe so, in a way.  If you think it’s only superficial, think again.

The best illustration (1) satisfies the illustrator (2) satisfies the author (3) sheds light on the story (4) makes people want to read the story – and, if you will, (5) makes the publisher think it will make people want to read the story.

Down that road is the possibility that the very best illustration, in addition to and without in the least failing (1-4) or (1-5), may also reach people who run into it apart from the story, have never heard of the story, don’t know there is a story, don’t know the picture they’re looking at is an illustration.

Does that necessarily follow?  I don’t know.  Ask again later.  But it came to me from pictures at an exhibition.

Of course read and story needn’t be literal.  A Kelly Freas picture was used by the band Queen.  Whelan pictures have been used by the Jacksons and by Meat Loaf.

In that sense I applaud the title Beyond Science Fiction.  Yes, maybe it’s a lure, maybe a needed lure to draw people who might not otherwise – I’ll say it – dare to come here and look.  Also I think it says These images are science fiction; certainly they are; we don’t hesitate [I hope] to say so; in addition to which and not failing it in the least they reach farther and are worthy for themselves.

That’s why they’re in the Riverside Art Museum.

I said I’d get to “palette gremlins”.  They are – I’ll quote Whelan,

small creations found in random shapes … errant fingerprints and paint smears … usually on a palette or the mat board I use to protect my drawing table….  I added a touch here and a brush stroke there until the abstract elements began to resolve….  Passage: The Red Step was suggested by shapes in the over-spray left from a complex airbrushing session….  when they spark an idea that leads to a larger work, it feels like a gift from my Muse!…  The point of it all, however, is to play with some paint – and see what happens.

One wall has a dozen.  One of them, Amethyst Fantasy, I saw was lent by Shaun Tan.

You know some of the pictures.  You have books they cover, or prints, or Infinite Worlds or one of Whelan’s own books – which I recommend – or you can summon them from Electronicland.  See the originals.  See them often and long.  Each medium is different.

Study originals.  Go to this exhibit if you can.  Bring what you have with you and compare.  Bring a sketchbook and copy them, or an easel (in a good cause, Kelly) and a paintbox; get permission.  Beethoven wrote out a Mozart string quartet; he was perfectly able to read the score, and he intended to write his own music, but he wanted to get into his fingers what Mozart had done.

And if you ask “What has Whelan done for us lately?” cast a Cottleston on this, “In a World of Her Own” from 2016.

Cottleston pie, that’s your eye – no, wrong slang – wait, I’ll have it in a minute – wait –