Pixel Scroll 12/15 Mother Pixel’s Littul Scrolls

(1) STAR WARS PREMIERE. Photographer Al Ortega has posted 105 photos taken at last night’s Hollywood premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Facebook.

And Craig Miller has an account of attending the premiere on Facebook too. Both are public.

(2) ON THE CARPET. CNN has Big Media’s coverage of celebrities’ responses to seeing the movie. I didn’t spot any spoilers, but caveat emptor.

Finally, the most hilarious comment comes from Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford. Talking about how much he possibly enjoys red carpet events, he remarked: “I can’t think of anything better to do! I do these in my backyard on Wednesdays.”

(3) WINDING UP THE REWATCH. Michael J. Martinez completed his Star Wars rewatch in the nick of time — Star Wars wayback machine: Return of the Jedi.

I think the Luke/Vader scenes work much better, especially when the Emperor is in the mix. Ian McDiarmid plays Palpatine with relish and Evil and it’s pretty awesome. Luke’s character goes through the wringer, and the performance is pretty damn good. And of course, we see Vader return to the Light. That wasn’t too horribly predictable going into the movie, and it worked. The one thing that the prequels did well (or didn’t mess up) was to show the beginning of Vader’s arc and how he ended up tossing the Emperor down a well and being the good guy he always wanted to be.

Martinez says, “I’ll be seeing the new one Thursday night, and will post a non-spoiler review on Friday. Thanks yet again for having me on File 770!”

(4) TAKE NO CHANCES. Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader claims “This Chrome Extension Will Protect You from Seeing Star Wars Spoilers”.

And that’s why I’m thrilled I found Force Block. This simple Chrome extension saves me from seeing any unwanted spoilers. After it’s installed, any webpage that reveals details about the new Star Wars movie will look like this screenshot from movies.com…

(5) HO HO HO. Reason thinks Star Wars I-VI needs a parody collection of trigger warnings.

(6) MAGNUM OPUS. Whereas The Slipper works for its audience share with a rundown on how the original movies were handled in comics — “Something about that Space Wars thing everyone’s talking about”.

The Slipper knows how to leave them wanting more, as it ends by reproducing a series of Bloom County strips about Star Wars from the late Nineties.

(7) REEPICHEEP’S TAILOR? A Calgary metal artist crafts suits of armor for mice and cats.

Tiny helmets, shields and weapons could (theoretically) protect rodents and felines in battle…

It takes anywhere from 10 to 40 hours for de Boer to complete one suit of mouse armour. Cat armour takes much longer — 50 to 500 hours per piece

The link leads to a photo gallery of his work.

(8) LIVING COLOR. At Harry Bell – Fine Artist you can see glorious work like his oil painting of the London Millennium Bridge.

London Millennium Bridge by Harry Bell

Harry is a past Hugo nominee (1979), Rotsler Award winner (2004), and two-time FAAn Award winner (1977, 2014).

(9) ADDITIONAL NOTES. Deborah J. Ross tells more about “My Love Affair with the Music of The Lord of the Rings” in today’s installment at Book View Café.

Playing

When The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released, I bought the easy piano/voice version of “The Song of the Lonely Mountain,” from the closing credits of the movie. By this time, I was on my own, without my teacher, but the piece was comfortably within my skill level. I knew how to drill fiddly fingering passages and such like. The key as written was a little low for my voice, but manageable. I even figured out how to use paper clips to grab on to so I could turn the pages without breaking the flow of the song.

Of course, I wanted more. The song was so much fun, how I could I not want more? But I also wanted to challenge myself.

(10) MAKING SPACE. John Dodd’s talks about letting go (how un-collector-like!) in “The Great Collection in the Sky” for Amazing Stories.

But, after wiping away the tears, I moved on. Later, my massive collection of comics and graphic novels had to go – sold at rock bottom price to a comics shop. There had been mint first editions in there, I thought, how dare he insult me with that price? But in the end, I relented. The collection was holding me back from moving on (quite literally – the new place wasn’t big enough for all that paper and cardboard).

So, do I regret the letting go? Actually no, I don’t. I made space for some truly amazing new things in my life…less “things” and more “experiences”.

(11) RAIN OBITUARY. Author David Rain, who wrote sf as Tom Arden, died December 15 reports Locus Online.

Arden is best known for the five-book Orokon epic fantasy series, beginning with The Harlequin’s Dance (1997). He also wrote standalone novels Shadow Black (2002) and The Translation of Bastian Test (2005), as well as Doctor Who novella Nightdreamers (2002), and numerous stories, reviews, and critical articles. As David Rains he published The Heat of the Sun (2012)….

(12) 3…2…1…BOOM! On December 15, 1960 The Traveler at Galactic Journey witnessed the nadir of America’s space program, a fourth consecutive disaster — “Booby Prize (Pioneer Atlas Able #4)”.

Today, NASA made a record–just not one it wanted to.

For the first time, a space program has been a complete failure.  Sure, we’ve had explosions and flopniks and rockets that veered too high or too low.  We’ve had capsules that popped their tops and capsules that got lost in the snow.  But never has there been a clean streak of bad missions.

(13) APPENDIX N. Jeffro Johnson closes out his series with “Appendix N Matters”, a summary of his views about fantasy and its readers.

The retiring of Lovecraft’s bust from the World Fantasy Awards is therefore not so much reminiscent of statues of Stalin being pulled down in post-Soviet Russia. It’s more a reflection of the Berlin wall… going up. It used to be that reading centuries old books was almost universally considered to be a very good thing, to the point of being the very definition of an education. Now, looking into works that are merely decades old are increasingly beyond the pale. People with this attitude will even go so far as to object to having to read Ovid at university– and college administrators– far from standing up to this– seem instead to be on the lookout to accommodate this sort of thing.

In the not too distant past, though, the “dangerous visions” of the day could be enjoyed side by side with classic fiction by Lord Dunsany and A. Merritt. Professionals with highly divergent views on politics and religion could coexist within the pages of the same magazines. And people that were keen on challenging every imaginable taboo could get on within the same market where more traditional approaches to science fiction and fantasy were still practiced. People were free then in a way that’s hard to even imagine now. Political correctness and its legions of freelance thought police were only just beginning to gain a foothold, and remnants old ways and attitudes could be taken for granted.

The Appendix N list preserves therefore not just a list of books that are of especial interests to fans of classic Dungeons & Dragons. It’s also a snapshot of what fantasy fandom was into in the seventies. And don’t let anyone tell you different. While the list is not without its idiosyncrasies, it is nevertheless a representative sample of the authors that would have been translated into foreign languages when other countries finally got around to importing the fantasy and science fiction phenomenon for themselves.

(14) ABIGAIL ON ANCILLARY. Abigail Nussbaum’s review Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie” does a lot of what used to be called “praising with faint damns.”

For example:

That Ancillary Justice is as much fun as it is feels all the more remarkable when you consider that it is, essentially, a book-long infodump.

Or:

…By this point, we’ve learned enough about the Radch and its stratified, class-conscious society to view the popularity of these kinds of stories with distrust–their narrative of virtue triumphing over social convention is intended to paper over the real issues of class prejudice that hinder most capable lower class citizens from climbing the social ladder (or the pitfalls that trip them up even once they’ve achieved a higher status, as in the case of Lieutenant Awn).  It’s less clear whether we’re meant to notice that Ancillary Justice is also one of these stories–Breq isn’t just lower class, by the standards of the Radchaai she isn’t even human, and yet by the end of the novel her courage and devotion to Lieutenant Awn have not only gained her the respect of several high-ranking Radch officials, but she has been granted citizenship and the command of her own ship.  All that’s missing is the love story with a high-born Radchaai (and I’m betting rather heavily on that for the sequels).  Is it even possible to question the very idea of empire through what is essentially a Horatio Hornblower story?

(15) CORREIA. Don’t just ask any professional, “Ask Correia #18: Creating ‘Offensive’ Characters” at Monster Hunter Nation.

That whole Bechdel Test thing? Where they ask are there two females in a scene who talk about something other than a man? Okay, first off, you shouldn’t have to “test” your story for anything beyond is it readable and entertaining enough to sell it to somebody, but second WHO CARES? (well, a legion of Twitter feminists and gender studies professors obviously) Right off the bat most of the mega-selling romance genre fails the test, and most of those books are written by female authors for a female audience (and the romance genre makes serious bank compared to the rest of us).

There isn’t some arbitrary test that if you pass you’re good, and if you fail you’re sexist. Because you see what they call me, and I wrote Grimnoir, where the single most important, pivotal, critical, essential dialog scene in the entire trilogy was two young women talking about origami on top of a blimp. Test passed, and I’m the International Lord of Hate.

The real test for every scene should be asking yourself, is this scene good? Is this entertaining? Does this advance the story? Does this scene expand the characters or the universe? But that should be every scene, not just the one with two female characters in it.

(16) EMPATHY. I wonder if Larry knows the subject in the neverbeenmad comic ”2015 Voight Kampff Empathy Test”?

(17) Today In History

Peter Boyle Young Frankenstein

  • December 15, 1974Young Frankenstein was released.
  • December 15, 1978Superman with Christopher Reeve premiered.

(18) BRIN REMEMBERS CLARKE. Coinciding with the Syfy show’s premiere, David Brin has penned a tribute “Childhood’s End and Remembering Arthur C. Clarke”.

And yet, what most intrigues me about Arthur’s work is something else – his ongoing fascination with human destiny – a term seemingly at odds with the scientific worldview.

True, a great many of his stories have focused on problem-solving, in the face of some intractable riddle. His characters, confronted with something mysterious, aren’t daunted. They gather resources, pool knowledge, argue, experiment, and then – often – transform the enigmatic into something that’s wondrously known. This part of the human adventure has always shown us at our best. Peeling away layers. Penetrating darkness. Looking back at the wizard, standing behind the curtain.

(19) WHAT WILL BE IN TWO YEAR’S BEST COLLECTIONS . Through SF Signal I found

“Table of Contents: The Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 1 Edited by Neil Clarke” (31 stories)

and

“Table of Contents: The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016 Edited by Rich Horton” (30 stories).

Somebody with more time than I have just now should see if there is any overlap…

(20) WALK ON THE WILD SIDE. James Bacon took “A Superhero Stroll Around New York City” when he was in town, and wrote it up on Forbidden Planet. Lots of photos too!

Paul Lepelletier is our guide for this superhero walk around New York City, and at two pm he gathers us all outside. This is a friendly group, and soon we all know where everyone is from, four from England, four from Boston, two locals from Manhattan, two from Scotland, two from New Jersey, and four other New Yorkers, it is a decent crowd..

Paul has worked for DC comics; he drew comics at one stage of his varied career, worked in the licensing division, and indeed, is an award winning graphic designer and marketer, but his love of comics, and his appreciation for having been involved with them, is quite clear.

His knowledge is strong, and soon we are hearing about Fleicher’s Rotoscope technique and additions they made to the Superman ouevre, such as the famous Phone Booth as we stand outside their offices.

Soon we are on Park Avenue, looking at a building that housed Will Eisner’s studio, and hearing about the relationship between Will Eisner and Bob Kane, about how Batman was sold, and how Bob Kane’s own career developed and again looking at the building that housed his studio back in the day.

Paul’s knowledge of comic characters and their history, especially on TV and Radio, is new ground to me. As well as Batman, he talks about the rise of marvel in the 1960s, the old movie serials and the germination of TV series.

(21) HWA LA SIGNING. On January 16, 2016 members of the Horror Writers Association LA will sign Winter Horror Days edited by David Lucarelli at a Burbank bookstore.

Winter Horror Days COMP

Join us Sunday January 10th 2-4 pm as members of HWA LA sign Winter Horror Days at Dark Delicacies, 3512 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, James Bacon, Hampus Eckerman, Will R., Brian Z., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jonathan Edelstein.]

Craig Miller’s Middle Eastern Project

Majid Kids TV is a new channel from the United Arab Emirates, and Craig Miller has developed two animated series for them, supervising the writing, and he wrote a half-hour special they used to announce the channel.

A sample video from Majid, about a teenage boy who travels around the world and solves mysteries, has been posted to YouTube.

It begins with a montage of scenes from scripts by Shaene Siders and Jeremiah Smith, and a full episode written by Genny Dazzo.

All the dialog is in Arabic.

A Martian Potato

Martian potato

Craig Miller’s postman just delivered his promotional tie-in potato from The Martian.

To promote the movie “The Martian”, 20th-Century Fox made a deal with Mail a Spud (an actual company, surprisingly) to send out potatoes.

With notes written on them — “Potatoes from Mars! And you thought only candy came from there.”

And because you can now print personalized postage stamps, the stamp on the potato (yes, stuck directly on the potato, just as the message is written in Sharpie-style marker directly on the spud) shows a photo of Matt Damon in costume as Mark Watney overlaid with the words “Bring Him Home”.

The Mail A Spud website is appropriately tongue-in-cheek:

  • Why would I spend $10 on a stinkin potato? Can’t I do this myself for half the price?

Of course you can! We’re here for the people who love the idea but don’t feel like going through the hassle of mailing it themselves. Mailing a potato isn’t so cheap either. Postage can come in at over 4 dollars per spud.

  • How much do the potatoes weigh?

Our Russet potatoes vary in weight but expect them to come in at around 10 – 12 ounces.

  • Can I eat the potato when it gets here?

We do not recommend you consume the potato after it has traveled across the country inside of trucks, planes, and postal service bags. It has touched a lot of germs by the time it arrives to the recipient.

  • Aren’t you wasting food?

No! Well yes, but each spud shipped is bringing more awareness to the beauty of the potato.

Time to rewrite the filksong —

Martian potatos, Martian potatos

Will you send a Martian potato to me….

Evil Signs

Craig Miller was invited to speak at the Animayo Animation & VFX Festival on the island of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands earlier this month on the subject of Star Wars. Craig worked for Lucasfilm in the 1970s as Director of Fan Relations and started the Official Star Wars Fan Club.

When he got back Craig repeated several anecdotes from his talk for Facebook friends.

One of the things I was prompted to mention during my talk was that, if, during the years I was at Lucasfilm, someone wrote to us asking for an autographed photo of James Earl Jones or David Prowse, the letter went to the actors (or their reps). If they asked for Darth Vader’s autograph, the photo came to me and *I* signed Darth Vader’s name on the photos. So, of course, some of the people who came up for an autograph, asked me to sign both my name and Darth’s. It took me a few moments to remember what “Darth’s” signature looked like but after I did, I’d sign that, too.

That struck me as funny, and it also set me to thinking about people who collect the signatures of famous fictional villains rather than the actors who play them.

Well, of course they do. Didn’t my daughter collect all the autographs of the Disney princesses? Same thing. Except evil, of course.

Naturally, Google has a lot of examples of Darth Vader photos autographed by Jones, who performed Darth’s lines, and Prowse, who did the physical acting.

There are also a bunch of websites with unrelated Vader autographs, many obtained by people in their childhood from random actors making “personal appearances” in costume at shopping malls.

Next I wondered, does somebody sign for Sauron, too?

The actor who played Sauron (while he still had a body) in head-to-toe armor in the first Lord of the Rings movie by Peter Jackson, Sala Baker, has signed his share of trading cards.

Sala Baker as Sauron

And now I like to think that fans who write directly to Sauron at the studio (and not to the actor) have their requests filled by Craig Miller’s counterpart, who has practiced signing the Dark Lord’s name with a flourish.

Today’s Birthday Boy 9/24

Born September 24, 1936: Jim Henson

Jim Henson was the beloved creator of the Muppets. However, an entirely different universe and collection of characters led him to attend his first World Science Fiction Convention.

The Dark Crystal, which Henson co-directed with Frank Oz and co-wrote, was released in 1982. The movie’s creatures and characters were based on the conceptual artwork of Brian Froud.

Jim Henson and producer Gary Kurtz promoted the film at Chicon IV, the Worldcon held in Chicago in September 1982.

Curiously, what is misidentified on The Dark Crystal “Making of” page as a photo from the 1982 Worldcon (below), actually is from a 1983 ceremony in France. Craig Miller, who worked on the film’s convention PR, verified that Froud did not attend Chicon IV. The correct identification (repeated below) comes from an entry at Jim Henson’s Red Book.

Jim Henson, Brian Froud, a French official, and Gary Kurtz at the “Exposition de Cristaux Geants” in Paris, 1983. Between the official and Kurtz is a Skeksis, a creature from The Dark Crystal.

Jim Henson, Brian Froud, a French official, and Gary Kurtz at the “Exposition de Cristaux Geants” in Paris, 1983. Between the official and Kurtz is a Skeksis, a creature from The Dark Crystal.

Also released in 1982 was The Dark Crystal computer game by Sierra Online — a re-creation is available for free play here.

(And Taral will appreciate it if I mention that his beloved Fraggle Rock, another Henson project, started shooting that same year in Toronto.)

Henson came to the Worldcon again in 1983, when it was held in Baltimore. Henson made a presentation about The Muppets Take Manhattan, then fielded questions about the Muppets and the world of The Dark Crystal. Henson spent some time wandering around the convention afterwards.

Although Henson did not come to the 1984 Worldcon, his presence was still felt. Two entries in the L.A.Con II masquerade re-created characters from The Dark Crystal. The following year, a participant had the chance to show him a folio documenting the presentations, and got back a nice letter about them.

A Dark Crystal-themed masquerade entry from L.A.con II.

A Dark Crystal-themed masquerade entry from L.A.con II.

Just like those costumers, many creative people were and continue to be inspired by Henson’s artistic vision.

Photos of 1981 NYC Party for James White

Peter de Jong recently found a set of 27 photos taken at a 1981 party for LunaCon GoH James White, the Irish sf writer, and has posted them here.

The party, organized by Moshe Feder, was held at de Jong’s apartment in midtown Manhattan. Feder says he does not know who took the pictures.

James White wears his famous Saint Fantony blazer in photo #1.

Fans identified in the photographs are: Norma Auer Adams, Larry Carmody, Ross Chamberlain, Alina Chu, Eli Cohen, Genny Dazzo, Peter de Jong, Moshe Feder, Chip Hitchcock, Lenny Kaye, Hope Leibowitz, Craig Miller, Andrew Porter, Stu Shiffman, James White, Jonathan White, Peggy White, and Ben Yalow.

(There is also an unnamed fan in photo #4 I recognize. She occasionally looks at this blog and I will happily add her name to this article if she grants permission.)

[Thanks to Moshe Feder and Andrew Porter for the story.]

Jane Yolen on YA Hugo Possibility

Fans are divided over the proposal to add a Hugo category for YA books. No matter your opinion, it’s worth hearing what a leading YA author thinks about the idea.

Jane Yolen has enjoyed success in many literary categories and is renowned among YA audiences. Craig Miller had an opportunity to ask for her views. Here’s what she said about adding a YA book category to the Hugos:

All the YA and children’s book writers I know who do sf and fantasy WANT a Hugo within a designated category and don’t feel it would ghettoize the award at all. It will also make it much easier to “sell” sf/fantasy books to the teachers and librarians. They LOVE to see award stickers and lists of award winners and buy from those lists. It would make a huge difference.

[Thanks to Craig Miller for the story.]

Conrunners React to Cornell Initiative

Paul Cornell and Si Spurrier have called for a 50/50 male/female balance on all convention programs.

I am terribly prone to complacency, therefore, regardless of my initial skeptical reaction to the implied criticism, I think anybody who puts himself out there trying to raise the bar for con runners is doing me a service just by making me think about why I do things the way I do.

Although I don’t believe in being ruled by a canned number, I do believe in getting more women on programming. I was willing to ask — how well am I really doing? (See “Program Participation as Civil Disobedience”.)

Next, I wanted to know how other convention program organizers feel about Cornell’s initiative. Will it make any difference? Should it? How practical is it? I reached out to a dozen experienced conrunners (plus fandom’s best-known program reporter) with these questions:

  • What is your approach is to gender parity on panel programs?
  • Do you think Cornell’s initiative will change or has already changed your approach?
  • Do you have any comments on Paul Cornell’s and Si Spurrier’s actions?

Responses came back from Emily Coombs, Janice Gelb, Evelyn Leeper, Jim Mann, Craig Miller, Priscilla Olson, Arlene Satin and two fans preferring to remain unnamed. Most of their comments were so deeply thoughtful I decided to run them in full. That makes for a long post, of course, so I have placed their views after the jump.

Continue reading

All Bradbury All the Time

Moto Hagio with Ray Bradbury at Comic-Con 2010.

Time to refresh Taral’s screen with these links (courtesy of John King Tarpinian)….

(1) Artist Moto Hagio, who did a manga adaptation of R Is for Rocket, got to meet Ray for the first time at Comic-Con:

For me, and even more so for Hagio, the most moving moment was a very private one, in which Hagio was introduced to the great Ray Bradbury in a quiet room in the convention center. Mr. Bradbury has difficulty hearing and speaking, but the two of them were able to communicate quite well without words. (No interpreter required.) Ms. Hagio had tears in her eyes at the end of the meeting. For her it was a dream come true.

(2) Ray Bradbury’s play 2116, previewed in South Pasadena last December, gets its world premiere at the Fringe in Edinburgh on August 22. Claire Prentice interviewed Ray for the Scotsman:  

Relaxing in the study of his Los Angeles home, sandwiched between a Tiffany lamp and a large plastic dinosaur, Bradbury says: “To have it performed is a gift. When I saw it here in LA, I wept with joy.” While 2116 is on in Edinburgh on 22 August, Bradbury will be celebrating his 90th birthday with his four daughters and his grandchildren.

The man charged with resurrecting the piece was Steve Josephson, the multi-award winning artistic director of Gallimaufry Performing Arts. By the time Bradbury dug out the original script of 2116 to show Josephson, the musical was missing numerous pages, the original score and an entire second act. “All I got was pages and pages of lyrics with character names and no music,” recalls Josephson, sitting next to Bradbury in his study….

(3) FX Feeney’s Comic-Con report “Young Hearts Versus the Undead” offered a long quote from Ray Bradbury’s talk:

“The man you see here is in reality a twelve-year-old boy,” iconic sci-fi author Ray Bradbury thundered before a capacity crowd of a thousand or so who’d gathered to hear him speak. Bradbury’s hearing and eyesight may be at full fathom-five these days, but his mind is as sharp as Captain Nemo’s at the console of his submarine. “How do I do it, you ask? By exploding, every day! If you are dynamic, you remain a child. I’ve remained a boy because I’ve never looked back. That’s me—The Running Boy.”

As a bonus, several photos of Comic-Con panels accompany the article, and LASFSian Craig Miller appears in one of them.

(4) CNN ran a story on Ray’s approaching 90th birthday:

Ray Bradbury lives in a rambling Los Angeles home full of stuffed dinosaurs, a tin robot pushing an ice cream cart, and a life-sized Bullwinkle the Moose doll lounging in a cushioned chair.

The 89-year-old science fiction author watches Fox News Channel by day, Turner Classic Movies by night. He spends the rest of his time summoning “the monsters and angels” of his imagination for his enchanting tales.

(5) John King Tarpinian promises this is a link to a Classical Birthday Card for Ray on YouTube.

Help Rebuild Len Wein’s Comic Collection

Rebuild Len Wein's Comic Collection

When Len Wein and Christine Valada’s home burned on April 6, as Craig Miller explained, “The master bedroom and bath were burned out. The walls still stand but everything inside, including the ceiling, is gone. Nearby rooms had extreme heat and smoke damage and smoke damage runs throughout. DVDs, artwork, awards, etc. are gone forever.”

Wein’s friend Mark Evanier realized that even though insurance should provide the money to restore the house, many things, including Wein’s comics, were not covered.  Evanier thought it was a particular shame that Wein had lost the collection of comics he himself had worked on – and Evanier knew that, at least, could be fixed:

Some of us thought it would be grand if his friends and fans pitched in to help him recreate those shelves of the comic books he’s worked on.

So the crusade as been launched. At the “Let’s Rebuild Len Wein’s Comic Book Collection Project” site there is a frequently-updated PDF list of what they want, with lineouts of what’s been received. It looks as if half of the needed titles have already been secured, but dozens more are still being sought.

[Thanks to David Klaus for the link.]