Here are 14 developments of interest to fans:
(1) Back issues of Time magazine now are searchable online. Fans immediately homed in on the July 10, 1939 issue of Time with its report of the first World Science Fiction Convention. Craig Miller calls it “perhaps the first instance of ‘science fiction fans are weird’ journalism” —
Having formed, through correspondence, an organization called the New Fandom, some 200 fans gathered in a small Manhattan hall this week from California, New Mexico, the metropolitan area for three days of speeches, pseudo-scientific movies and discussion of stories with their authors. Cried Fan Will S. Sykora, from Astoria, L. I.: “Let us all work to see that the things we read in science fiction become realities.” Said Leo Margulies, managing editor of Standard Magazines (Thrilling Wonder Stories, Startling Stories and Strange Stories): “I am astonished. I didn’t think you boys could be so damn sincere.”
And Ray Cummings – coincidentally, author of the first sf story Bob Tucker ever read – may have been the first pro quoted in mainstream media hyping the genre’s foundations in hard science:
Ray Cummings, a veteran pseudo-fictioneer who once was Thomas Edison’s secretary, claims to have originated in his stories the word Newscaster and the phrase The World of Tomorrow. Says he: “It is astonishing how many things come true.” Chief themes of scientifiction are rocket trips by earth-dwellers to other planets, invasions of the earth by Martians, Mercurians. Authors may be as fantastic as they like in their inventions but publishers warn them not to do violence to the commoner scientific principles lest readers denounce their errors.
(2) Book View Café is now featuring collections from seven of its members. Titles include: Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Super Mouse” comic book, Jay Caselberg’s “Angel on the Beach” stories, Judith Tarr’s instructional memoir, “Writing Horses,” Pati Nagle’s two collections “Coyote Ugly” and “Many Paths,” Syliva Kelso’s “Three Observations and a Dialogue: Round and About SF,” and Sue Lange’s cross-genre stories, “Uncategorized.” Much of the work was already available at Book View Café, but now has been gathered into collections for easy browsing.
(3) A NY Times writer says Mars Needs Moms will be remembered as one of Hollywood’s most spectacular failures:
In the movie business, sometimes a flop is just a flop. Then there are misses so disastrous that they send signals to broad swaths of Hollywood. “Mars Needs Moms” is shaping up as the second type.
Walt Disney Studios spent an estimated $175 million to make and market “Mars Needs Moms,” which sold $6.9 million in tickets at North American theaters in its opening weekend. That grim result puts the 3-D animated adventure on track to become one of the biggest box-office bombs in movie history, on par with such washouts as “The Adventures of Pluto Nash,” “Cutthroat Island” and “The Alamo.”
Wait a minute! I paid to see The Alamo twice. Shocking to see that wasn’t enough to keep it off this list.
(4) Not coming to a theater near you is a thought-provoking source of film commentary. Sam Bett’s and Glenn Heath Jr.’s analysis of Monty Python and the Holy Grail won me over:
Sam Bett: …As professional satirists, Monty Python understood that for irreverent humor to be sound and effective, one must thoroughly understand one’s target. The outrageous accents, costumes, and ornately adorned sets are only some of the details to which Monty Python attended to meticulously, executing the intense care and compassion that distinguishes satire which is insulting from that which is artful and even complementary.
Glenn Heath Jr.: …The following booming musical score segues into the “seriousness” of medieval England, circa 932 AD, and the icon King Arthur traverses the countryside riding an imaginary horse, his manservant making the sound of clacking hooves by smacking two coconuts together. The absurdity of Arthur’s actions is called into question when a castle guard confronts the pair about their preferred mode of transportation. The conversation descends into repetitive chaos, and the entitled earnestness of Arthur and the snarky irony of the guard introduce the core form of banter that will come to define Holy Grail’s keen wit and commentary on the class system in England, both past and present.
There is quite a bit of good stuff here, some of it better than what I quoted but that would suffer from being taken out of context.
(5) I’m also looking forward to reading good stuff from Chunga’s Randy Byers who has launched a film review blog of his own:
I’ve been writing a lot about film in the past few years, and the first impulse behind this blog is to make that writing more widely available — if only to Google. My ideas about what to publish here are still evolving, however, and I’m likely to at least include reviews of the early science fiction that I’ve also been writing about in the past few years. I guess I’ll figure it out as I go along.
(6) It’s croggling how often news coverage is driven by a predetermined narrative. When the LA Times reported that the National Book Critics Circle honored Jennifer Egan’s novel A Visit From the Goon Squad with its fiction prize, the article was illustrated by a photo of Jonathan Franzen, whose novel, the caption noted, did not win. Readers complained that the Times seemed to think the story was that Franzen lost, not that Egan won. Marjorie Osterhous of Seattle demanded, “Please spend a couple of minutes gazing into your editorial navels today and ask yourselves what happened.”
(7) Bob Levin’s article about the Frazetta family feud in The Comics Journal begins with this intricate and amusing paragraph:
The Frazetta Museum, in Marshalls Creek, Pennsylvania, unlike the Toy Museum of Sciota, the Pocono Indian Museum of North Bushkill, or the Zane Gray Museum of Lackawanna, is not listed in the Monroe County phone book. There is no address posted on its website. It is absent from the full-color “Pocono Mountains Attractions” brochure. It does not join Yuppy Puppy, Tie-Dye Dave’s, or Five Guys Burgers and Fries in the “Official 2010 Cartoonmap” of the region. Driving Route 209 from our motel in its presumed direction, we saw signs for Discount Fireworks, Tenderheart Learning Center, the Pocono Snake, and Animal Farm but not it. The road score was Dead Furry Animals: 6; Espresso Bars: 0. “We’re not in Berkeley anymore, Toto,” Adele said.
However, the author’s subjective wanderings aren’t enough to bring fully alive what is largely a clip article. So your decision whether to click the link should depend on your level of passion for this story.
(8) Craig Ferguson correspondents Chris Hardwick and Bridger visited the 22nd annual Gallifrey One convention on February 19. Here’s a link to their video [YouTube]. Convention chairman Shaun Lyon is on this for a few seconds around the 3:50 mark.
(9) Frank Robinson has sold his renowned pulp collection to a Maryland collector, reports Steve Duin in The Oregonian:
The celebrated author of Pulp Culture and the speech writer for former San Francisco Mayor Harvey Milk, Robinson spent the last 30 years assembling the finest collection of high-grade pulp magazines in the world. The pulps were displayed — gloriously — on the wooden shelves of a floor-to-ceiling wall in the living room of his San Francisco home.
But shortly after he returned from playing himself in Gus van Sant’s “Milk,” Robinson realized the thrill of owning that collection was gone.
“I’m looking at them one day,” Robinson said, “and I realized I hadn’t read a single one. I was collecting magazines in near mint and you don’t read a magazine in near mint and have it stay in near mint. Then I realized I wasn’t even looking at them. If a couple magazines fell off the shelf, I left them there.”
(10) AbeBooks remembers Victor Gollancz:
Gollancz was ahead of this time. He placed full-page adverts for his books in newspapers (very rare for this period) and his designers established a recognizable style featuring powerful typography and yellow dust jackets. Gollancz was creating ‘branding’ 50 years before marketers embraced the buzzword.
(11) Fritz Leiber would have been 100 last December 24. Fogcon’s blog shows the plaque placed in his memory on 811 Geary Street, the building where he wrote Our Lady of Darkness and which figures in the novel.
(12) “Calling all Artists, Crafters and Hoarders!” At Minicon in April they’re running an art materials swap. Most anything is welcome, craft and art supplies, tools, books and patterns, and anything that has costuming potential. Stuff will be out on tables and anything not swapped will be kept for Minicon children’s supply boxes or donated to Art Scraps.
(13) Maybe there will be enough ingredients for someone to make their own Hans Solo in Carbonite Throw Pillow?
(14) However rarely science fiction may be mentioned in The New Yorker’s hallowed pages, Billy Collins, a past Poet Laureate of the United States, has set a good example for the rest of the literary establishment with poems like “Man in Space”. In fact, the poem’s final line references the genre’s most famous visual cliché.
[Thanks for these links goes out to Janice Gelb, David Klaus, Craig Miller, Steven H Silver, Joel Zakem, Lisa Hertel and Andrew Porter.]