Pixel Scroll 11/25/17 In The Scrolling, The Mighty Scrolling, The Pixel Scrolls Tonight

(1) A-WEEMA-WEH. Derek Kunsken, one of the guests of honor, tells Black Gate readers about “The 4th International Science Fiction Conference, Chengdu, China, November 2017”.

Among the international guests were authors Michael Swanwick and Ted Komsatska from the USA, Taiyo Fujii from Japan, Robert J Sawyer and I from Canada, and editors Neil Clarke from the USA, Francesco Verso from Italy, con organizer Crystal Huff from the USA, and a few others. A few of us got to visit the Panda breeding facility the day before the conference started.

…Incidentally, China is interested in hosting a WorldCon, and some of my expedia searching has shown me that flights from Ottawa to Chengdu were in the neighborhood of $900 Canadian, and the hotel they got us in downtown Chengdu was about $110 Canadian a night. I don’t know how much more or less expensive that is compared to Helsinki or Dublin, but I would vote for a Chinese bid on a WorldCon!

Black Gate adds this background about the author —

Derek Künsken writes science fiction and fantasy in Gatineau, Québec. His first novel, The Quantum Magician, is being serialized right now in China in the magazine SFWorld before its publication in book form in the spring.

(2) ALL BRADBURY, ALL THE TIME. Hillsdale College historian Bradley J. Birzer, in “Out of the Shire:  Life Beyond Tolkien” in The American Conservative, recommends several writers for Tolkien fans, but “of all 20th century fabulists, Ray Bradbury comes closest to equaling Tolkien’s literary and imaginative powers.”

If you look at what’s playing on your television, at what’s showing at the local cinema, at what video games your children are playing, or at what is selling in the young adult section of your neighborhood Barnes & Noble, you’ll see something that is at once deeply cultural and deeply countercultural at the exact same moment: Romanticism.

It’s difficult to know exactly where the movement started, though most historians and literary scholars would give the nod to Edmund Burke and his second great work, On the Sublime and the Beautiful. From Burke’s treatise, almost all modern Romantic thought arose. Burke’s presence is, at times, implicit, and, at times, blatant in the works of such critical figures as Wordsworth and Coleridge, but it can be found throughout most of the romantic poetry and art of the early 19th century. It’s not hard even to imagine Burke’s shadow lingering over Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, the Pastoral. In his own writings on Western civilization, Christopher Dawson argued that the rise of Romanticism, whatever its excesses and failings, was as important to Western civilization, as the re-discovery of Hellenic thought in the Renaissance. Whatever its original and essential intent, Romanticism successfully saved Christianity from the utilitarianism and rationalism of the 18th century, Dawson continued. In its recovery of medieval Christianity in the early 19th century, the Anglo-Welsh Roman Catholic scholar asserted, the Romantics actually discovered “a new kind of beauty.”

From its earliest origins, one can trace Romanticism’s history through the 19th century and into the early 20th century through figures as diverse as Friedrich Nietzsche, G.K. Chesterton, and Willa Cather. Perhaps most importantly for Western culture, however, was its manifestation in the vast mythology of J.R.R. Tolkien….

(3) TOP LGBT SFF. Rocket Stack Rank has consulted the ratings for excellent stories and come up with the “Best LGBT Science Fiction & Fantasy of 2015-2016”.

Greg Hullender sent the link with a note: “We’ve been talking about doing this for a while, but we finally got it put together. Note that this is just 2015-2016. Because we depend on scores from other reviewers (including the 4 annual anthologies plus Hugo and Nebula nominations), the earliest we could do anything like it for 2017 would be April 2018, so our current plan is to do 2017 in June for Gay Pride Month and try to make that a regular thing.”

In addition to regular monthly ratings we’re going to start publishing occasional lists of excellent stories from particular subsets of Science Fiction and Fantasy (SFF). We’ve previously done this for Hard Science Fiction, and this month we’re doing it for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) stories.

As always, our focus is on the stories, not the authors. These are stories with memorable LGBT characters—not necessarily stories by noted LGBT authors. These include excellent stories in which a key character merely happens to be an LGBT person as well as stories where the LGBT angle is crucial to the plot.

Also, these are stories that had at least one recommendation from a “prolific reviewer” (that is, any reviewer who reads at least 500 stories a year from major print and online sources); no single reviewer can really capture the tastes of all readers, so drawing from a pool of reviewers makes it more likely that we haven’t omitted anything.

(4) BLACK FRIDAY. New Zealand’s Weta Workshops is running a Black Friday sale through Monday. All kinds of figures and paraphernalia from Lord of the Rings and other films they’re associated with.

(5) UNICORN ANTIDOTE. This will cure your post-ceramic stress — JJ calls it “Brain bleach for the wine caddy.” If you need that explained, consider yourself lucky.

(6) TIMEY-WIMEY. Holiday shipping has run amok:

(7) XL5. Galactic Journey’s Ashley R. Pollard turned on the TV and found this new show on channel 1962 — “[November 25, 1962] Great Balls of Fire!  (Gerry Anderson’s new series, Fireball XL5)”

I’ve mentioned in a past article that Britain has Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future.  Now we also have Colonel Steve Zodiac of the World Space Patrol.  Not the hero of a comic strip, but rather of a children’s television show from Anderson Provis Films (APF), which you may all remember from when I talked about their production last year, Supercar.

Gerry and Sylvia Anderson are back with another Supermarionation series, Fireball XL5.  Supermarionation is their term to describe puppets that speak using electronic synchronization, and the Andersons have used it to great effect, creating a brand new medium for SF.

(8) KIT SHIRT. Francis Hamit, whose movie script has been winning prizes, offers the “Christopher Marlowe fan T-shirt” through Zazzle.

Check out the CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE fan t-shirt that I designed at Zazzle.co.uk. We did this because we have about 1,400 Facebook friends in London and we need to sell something to prove that we are actually in business. Zazzle seemed like the easiest way to do this and we already own the art. We also have a similar product. on CafePress.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) THE SLEUTH’S BOSS. The Financial Times’ Henry Mance profiled Mark Gatiss, a writer for Doctor Who and the showrunner for Sherlock, where he also plays Mycroft Holmes: “‘We will all be dust soon’: Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss on death, despair and drama”. (Usually these are behind a paywall, but I was able to see this one. Caveat non-emptor.)

When asked if Sherlock Holmes has Asperger’s, Gatiss says, “I don’t think it (Asperger’s) is a disorder.  You can read Conan Doyle and think he is–you can diagnose him. Clearly that is based on people who have manic mood swings.  We made Mycroft the Niles to Holmes’s Frasier, who apparently feels nothing–though of course he does, he just keeps it under control.”

When asked if there will be more episodes of “Sherlock,” Gattis says, “Dunno.  Honestly.  It’s the first time we haven’t had to make plans for 18 months down the line.  The last episode of Sherlock was both “a possible natural ending, and a possible place for them to do another one.”

Gattiss’s next project, with Mark Moffat, is a version of “Dracula” which will appear on the BBC in 2019.

(11) WORTHY OF THE VOGONS. History.com found a by-product of its cipher-cracking project: “This Supercomputer Was Programmed to Think Like the Zodiac Killer. No Wonder Its Poetry is So Creepy”.

Now Knight, CARMEL and a team of code-breaking researchers are working with the HISTORY Channel to try and crack the Z340, the Zodiac killer’s most impenetrable cipher. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the self-named murderer terrorized Northern California with a succession of random killings and taunting letters to the police and newspapers. Four of those communiqués contained ciphers filled with perplexing letters and abstract symbols. Cryptologists consider the Zodiac’s 340-character cipher, sent to The San Francisco Chronicle in November 1969, a holy grail of sorts.

As part of Knight’s research into what computers can do with language, CARMEL can churn out complex verse on any given topic within a matter of seconds.

(12) PARTS OF SPEECH. Fast Company explains why “John Waters Doesn’t Need To Make Movies To Make Trouble”.

Despite the fact that he has “never graduated from anything,” John Waters was invited by the Rhode Island School of Design to deliver its 2015 commencement address. In his speech, Waters urged the graduating class to cause trouble. “Go out in the world and fuck it up beautifully,” he advised. “Design clothes so hideous they can’t be worn ironically. Horrify us with new ideas. Outrage outdated critics. Use technology for transgression, not lazy social living. Make me nervous.”

Understandably, the speech went viral, or as Waters puts it, “it had a little trip.” In April of this year, the speech was turned into a book called, Make Trouble. Now, that book has been turned into a vinyl record of the same name, released by Jack White’s Third Man Records. Waters recorded the audio at his dining room table in his New York apartment in an afternoon. “But it took me three days to write it,” he says in mock defensiveness.

(13) SCORING THE COVERS. Camestros Felapton has started the ball rolling with “The Book Cover Thing 2017: Draft Long List”. Jump over and add your suggestions.

A reminder of how this works. There is no eligibility period.

  1. A draft long list is made from finalist from the Hugos, Nebulas and Clarke Awards, as well as the winners of book categories from the Dragons.
  2. To the long list we add book covers suggested in the comments by anybody (and yes that includes Phantom as per last year). Also I may add additional covers to keep it interesting.
  3. The covers are then scored on a set of criteria (see below).
  4. Points are totaled and the highest scoring cover(s) are the winners.
  5. Winning artist/designer gets a JPEG of Timothy.

(14) CULTURE WARRIORS. And while you’re visiting Camestros’ blog, check out the full-length edition of Doris V. Sutherland’s lyrical comment:

Jason Rennie was ill
When the Hugos stood still
But Superversive’s where he stands
And Chuck Tingle was there
While lacking underwear
Dec Finn was the most Pius man
But something’s not right
With Vox Day and John Wright
They got caught in a No Award jam
Then at a deadly pace
It was in cyberspace
And here’s how the message ran…

(15) IT’S WEIRD. Bookmunch recommends this compilation of 2016 weird fiction: “We are living in an apocalyptic moment and we have a duty to be witnesses” – Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume Four ed. Helen Marshall

Helen Marshall is the guest editor for this year’s book. An award winning writer and creative writing lecturer, she comes at weird fiction from a very different angle to last year’s editor Simon Strantzas. This is no bad thing. The key to weird fiction is its malleability. Last year, Strantzas put together a very horror centric anthology, with weird fiction’s key players such as Robert Aickman, Rob Shearman (who will be guest editing volume five) and Ramsey Campbell at the forefront. Marshall instead has assembled a vastly different kind of anthology, which demonstrates the vastness of the genre. Yes, there are horror stories in here, most notably Usman T Malik’s ‘In the Ruins of Mohenjo-Daro’, but then there are also stories like Irenosen Okojie’s magnificent ‘Outtakes’, or Aki Schilz’s ‘Beating the Bounds’, both of which are highlights of a brilliant book.

(16) LOOKING AHEAD. Paul Kincaid, whose book about Iain M. Banks came out earlier this year, talks about his next book in “A Priest chronology”.

So, my next book will be about Christopher Priest and will be published by Gylphi, which is something that makes me inordinately pleased. I’ve started the reading and note taking that inevitably accompanies such a task. But I’ve also put together a chronology of his books and short stories, just as a way of keeping everything straight in my mind.

(17) CHOW TIME. Aaron Pound continues cooking his way through Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook — “Ad Astra Review – C3PO by Ef Deal”

Review: C3PO is a pretty simple recipe. It more or less consists of a can of crushed pineapple with chopped bell pepper, onion, and pecans all mixed into a pile of cream cheese. That is basically it. The only change I made from the text of the recipe was that I used a red bell pepper instead of a green bell pepper, mostly because I had a red bell pepper on hand. The end result is a spread than can be used on crackers or fresh vegetables. The end result is also delicious.

(18) AN ETHNIC FIRST. The Washington Post’s Noah Berlatsky, in “With ‘Justice League,’ now there’s a Jewish superhero played by a Jewish actor on the big screen”, notes that The Flash is the first movie superhero to be Jewish, and he looks at other Jewish superheroes in the comics, including The Thing, who was revealed to be Jewish in the early 2000s.

I’m sure this statement will provoke some disagreement among people who pay attention to firsts in films. Depending on how you look at it, you could argue that the first superhero was also the first Jewish superhero. Superman, after all, was created by two Jews, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and fans have found some (often overstated) traces of Jewish cultural influence in his creation.

There’s also Thing of “The Fantastic Four,” who wasn’t officially declared Jewish in the comics until the 2000s, and hasn’t been identified as Jewish in the films. But he was often seen by fans as a working-class ethnic stand-in for his creator, working-class ethnic Jew, Jack Kirby. The X-Man Kitty Pryde was Jewish in the 1980s, and the X-Man villain Magneto was retconned into a Holocaust survivor at about the same time.

Flash, though, is the first character in our ongoing superhero film frenzy who is identified specifically as Jewish — he mentions he’s Jewish quickly, offhand, when he first meets Batman (Ben Affleck).

(19) SCORCHED PLASTIC. The Lego Millennium Falcon – if you haven’t already ordered, you’re screwed: “What’s $800 And Already Sold Out? This Lego Star Wars Ship”.

It made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. But a new buildable version of Han Solo’s famous Millennium Falcon is currently stalled.

Those hoping to snag one of Lego’s new Star Wars sets for the 2017 holidays will likely be disappointed. It’s currently sold out online. After a September release only to its VIP list, the company promises it’s working as fast as it can to “make more sets available and keep our LEGO builders happy.” At a cool $799.99 and more than 7,500 pieces, it’s the expensive, easy-to-lose gift that keeps on giving.

Dang, these went faster than Worldcon 76 hotel rooms.

(20) FOR YOUR TREE. Of course, these are still available — “Holiday Gift Idea: ‘Elvira Christmas Ornament’”. I don’t suppose that comes as a surprise.

Sculpted by artist MATTHEW BLACK and painted by DAVID FISHER, these specialty Mistress of the Dark ornaments come in two versions; Standard has Elvira in black dress, while the Limited Edition has her in red and is limited to 500 pieces.

(21) TURNED DOWN. The news behind Deadline.com’s report “Time Responds To Donald Trump’s “Incorrect” Claims Of Turning Down Person Of The Year — Update” is inspiring things like Will Brown’s tweet —

(22) DUDE. Two compilations of “Super Café” videos from How It Should Have Ended.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

Venus, If You Will

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By James H. Burns: Sylvia Anderson has to be one of the first women I ever had a crush on, even if I didn’t recognize it as such.  And the fact that she was in wooden form makes it all the more unusual!

But Sylvia provided the voice for Doctor Venus, the beautiful blonde astronaut (space adventurer), on the early 1960s’ Fireball XL5, the series she co-produced with her husband, Gerry Anderson.  She’d enact many other gals throughout the 1960s, in their other Supermarionation marionette series; most famously, of course, Lady Penelope in Thunderbirds.

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If the Andersons were never quite able to make a successful transition to live-action, with UFO and Space:1999, it’s become clearer over the last several years how phenomenal an achievement their so-called “kids” series were.

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They had a rather bad marital breakup during the production of Space:1999, which led to a rather tragic development.

Beginning over thirty years ago, reportedly, if you wanted Gerry’s cooperation with any kind of fan project, Sylvia’s contributions to the series could not be mentioned in more than passing. Allegedly, he even insisted she be edited out of a “Making of”/behind-the-scenes documentary on Thunderbirds

There were other successes for Sylvia, as a writer, and as an executive with HBO in Great Britain.

EDITORIAL USE ONLY / NO MERCHANDISING nFor merchandising, please contact James Feltham, james.feltham@itv.comnMandatory Credit: Photo by ITV/REX/Shutterstock (811524hi)n'Fireball XL 5' - Sylvia Anderson with Venus.nGTV ARCHIVEnn

Finally, some years later, Sylvia was able to reclaim some of her fame, and the credit due her. For far too long, Sylvia’s status as a pioneering television producer had remained nearly unacknowledged. She had, of course, also been one of our very first space-women. (Who knows how man future scientists the couple helped inspire!)

Supercar, Stingray, Captain Scarlet and all the rest remain a cherished part of so many futures passed…

Here’s what I wrote, at the end of December, 2012, when Gerry Anderson died.

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One of my favorite memories of the space age, now–

And I may be framing this wrong–

One of my favorite memories of being a kid–

Was rushing home, walking home, from First Grade, to catch Captain Scarlet at 3:30, on WPIX, Channel 11, in suburban New York…

But after all, I had spent my childhood with the creations of Gerry AND Sylvia Anderson, and their so superbly talented collaborators, and puppeteers.

I was born after “Supermarionation” had made its debut, both in Great Britain, and America.

And, when I first saw the TV-news sub-headline, those ridiculous things that run at the bottom of the screen, that I’m pretty sure all of the Tracey boys (from Thunderbirds, of course) would have thought silly, that Anderson had passed:

I immediately reflected on a memory that often plays somewhere in my mind, one of my first solid memories, complete:

Sitting at the edge of my parents’ bed, on a Sunday or Saturday afternoon, with my folks watching along, some space behind, leaning against the headboard, still holding hands, as we enjoyed an episode of Fireball XL5. (It would run, in repeats, on its second go-round, locally following Rin-Tin-Tin.)

There was something magical, to me, about that old ITC logo, that magically emblazoned signage, that also evolved during the 1960s.

I learned to learn, when I saw it, that some enchantment would ensue.

Because the Andersons’ shows, followed me through my early years..

And helped emblazon them!

A year or two later, I’d catch Stingray, on Channel 11. Somehow I knew this was from the same folks who made the space show I had liked. (Hard to remember now, puppetry of all sorts was kind of everywhere in New York in the 1960s, on local kids shows, Captain Kangaroo, broadcasts of the George Pal Puppetoons…)

The mute gal disturbed me, a strange image for the Andersons and company to foster on children, but the imagination–and the great effects (still terrific!), kept me glued.

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And then there was Thunderbirds, early in the morning on WNEW in New York, shown in the half hour format, a lovely way to launch the day, just before heading off to school.

It startles me to realize that I saw all of these shows in black and white, and some episodes, I still haven’t seen as they were originally filmed. Because in my mind’s eye, these programs were always vibrant, brilliant in the aspect of a youngster’s wonder.

Remember, I wasn’t even seven when I first journeyed to the moon with Captain Scarlet, and Captain Blue.

Friends of mine from Britain are always amazed when they learn I grew up with the Andersons’ marionette shows, that everything from Supercar to before Joe 90 had a regular showcase in Manhattan, and other areas of the United States.

But think, now, what it was like, to have the space age unfolding, while these shows were first occurring!

There was some part of me, I’m pretty sure, that thought these series, and others, were actually preparing me for the future that we could have met, had our leaders had a bit more foresight, and faith in tomorrow.

And there we have it.

Just an inkling of the theme I was trying so hard to avoid, but which it seems is inevitable when thinking of Gerry Anderson:

So many elements of loss, of things that might have been, with what the 1960s partially promised, with what he could have been as a producer, what so many fun things were entirely possible.

It took me a long while to even remember my ancient involvement with covering ITC’s efforts, some years later. (To my surprise, I may well have been the first person to write a history of the Supermarionation shows, here in America, for Fantastic Films magazine, in the late 1970s.)

That was a result of one of my first loves, these shows that still can have so many remarkable moments.

Maybe some part of me was tuned in to what was going on during those last days of December (as Anderson was apparently ailing), although it is far more logical to attribute this to coincidence:

But, just before Christmas, I found myself surfing the net, looking at images of some British Supermarionation toys that I had somehow never seen before.

At times, I think, I am having other people’s childhoods, as I scan remembrances of another nation’s past.

But there was some kind of celluloid ebullience to many of those 1960s programs that simply transcends boundaries, and perhaps time.

Had we gone back to the moon, and built our cities in the stars, these ALWAYS would have been our memories.

Which is why with all the Anderson-associated controversies that are nipping at my brain —

I keep remembering how on a midweek in Autumn, I once bounded along the ranges of Mars, sitting safely besides such wonderful agents of Spectrum…

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[An earlier version of this article appeared at WWW.TVPARTY.COM]

Sylvia Anderson (1927-2016)

Sylvia Anderson and Lady Penelope

Sylvia Anderson and Lady Penelope.

British television and film producer, writer and voice actress Sylvia Anderson passed away March 16 after a short illness. She was known for co-creating numerous television series with Gerry Anderson, her husband between 1960 and 1981. (He died in 2012.)

Many of these series, such as Thunderbirds, featured marionettes as actors. The BBC obituary explains:

They developed a production technique using electronic marionette puppets, called Supermarionation, in which the voices were recorded first, and when the puppets were filmed, the electric signal from the taped dialogue was hooked up to sensors in the puppets’ heads.

That made the puppets’ lips move perfectly in time with the soundtrack.

In 1963, the couple came up with the idea for Thunderbirds, which told the story of the Tracy family who form a secret organisation dedicated to saving human life, set in the future.

As well as co-creating and writing the series, Anderson worked on character development and costume design.

The Thunderbirds character Lady Penelope, a glamorous agent, was modelled on Anderson’s own appearance, and she also voiced the character.

She returned to voice Lady Penelope in a 1994 episode of the sitcom Absolutely Fabulous. And when a new Thunderbirds Are Go series was produced in 2015, she was cast as the voice of Lady Penelope’s elderly Great Aunt Sylvia.

Sylvia leaves a daughter, Dee Anderson, and a son, Gerry Anderson, Jr.

Pixel Scroll 1/23/16 Farmer In The Tunnel In The Dell In The Sky

chronicles-of-narnia-silver-chair-book-cover-357x600(1) BACK TO NARNIA? According to Evangelical Focus, a fourth Narnia movie – The Silver Chair — could be ready in 2016

The story happens decades later. In Narnia, King Caspian is now an old man. Eustace and Jill will be asked to find Caspian’s son, Prince Rilian, with the help of Aslan.

Scriptwriter David Magee (“Life of Pi”, “Finding Neverland”) is writing the film adaptation, which will be released five years after the previous movie, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”

Collider says the next film will be the start of a new franchise entirely – one where The Walden group, makers of the earlier movies, will not be involved.

The rebooted angle doesn’t come as a total surprise. The Mark Gordon Company and The C.S. Lewis Company took over the rights from The Walden Group back in 2013, when they first announced plans for a Silver Chair adaptation, so it’s not surprising that the production companies would want to build something new instead of relying on the foundation of a franchise that was ultimately always a bit of an underperformer.

Collider also asked about casting.

Given the plot of The Silver Chair, the fourth book in the series, which takes places decades in future from where we last saw our heroes in 2010’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I also asked if we would see any of the original cast reprising their roles in the new film. The answer is a hard no.

[Mark Gordon] No, it’s all going to be a brand new franchise. All original. All original characters, different directors, and an entire new team that this is coming from.

If the phrase “original characters” causes your hair to bristle, don’t worry, I asked him to clarify if these were entirely new character creations or existing characters in the Narnia mythology that have yet to get the movie treatment, and he confirmed the later. The new characters will come “from the world” of Narnia.

The IMDB FAQ has more information about what characters will be included:

Will we see characters from earlier Narnia films?

Not necessarily. We should see Eustace Scrubb as a main character, along with Aslan. But Silver Chair, the novel, does not include his Pevensie cousins, Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter. Other returning characters who may or may not be included are Trumpkin (PC), King Caspian (PC, VDT), Ramandu’s Daughter (VDT), and Lord Drinian (VDT).

(2) IDEA TO HONOR GERRY ANDERSON. Some of his admirers have launched a “Campaign for blue plaques in honour of Kilburn creator of Thunderbirds”. (via Ansible Links.)

Gerry Anderson, who attended Kingsgate Primary School, is most famous for the cult 1960s series Thunderbirds, which featured iconic characters including Scott Tracey, Lady Penelope and Parker.

The Historic Kilburn Plaque Scheme (HKPS) is looking to raise £2,500 to mark his contribution with two plaques: one on his old school in Kingsgate Road, and one on the Sidney Boyd Court estate, on the corner of West End Lane and Woodchurch Road, where he used to live.

Mr Anderson lived with his parents in a large detached house on the site of the estate from 1929 to 1935 before the area was bombed in the war.

(3) AND WE’RE STILL MAD. “Seven TV Finales That Went Out of Their Way to Anger Fans” at Cracked. Number six is Quantum Leap.

In the last episode, Sam somehow leaps into his own body in some kind of odd purgatory-like dimension that looks like a bar — which, as far as purgatory dimensions go, ain’t half-bad. Also, a guy who is implied to be God is there, working as a bartender. If the fact that even God had to have a part-time job in the early ’90s doesn’t disprove Reaganomics, what will?

(4) IS THIS CHARACTER THAT POPULAR? Suvudu’s Matt Staggs reports “Poe Dameron to Have Monthly Comic Book”.

He was only on screen for a few minutes, but Star Wars: The Force Awakens Resistance pilot Poe Dameron turned out to be one of the film’s biggest breakout characters. (Well, maybe next to TR-8R.) This week, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Marvel Entertainment announced that he’ll be the star of his own comic book: Star Wars: Poe Dameron. The new ongoing series will be written by Charles Soule (Lando, Obi-Wan and Anakin) and illustrated by Phil Noto (Chewbacca).

(5) UNDER-REMEMBERED AUTHORS. David Brin, in a post that begins with a tribute to the late David Hartwell, also names some forgotten authors – who should not be.

A fun little conversation-starter? On Quora I was asked to name “forgotten” sci fiauthors.  Other respondents were citing Roger Zelazny, L. Sprague de Camp, Ursuala Le Guin, Lester del Rey, A.E. VanVogt, Fritz Lieber, Clifford Simak, Harlan Ellison and Theodore Sturgeon. Well, of course Zelazny and Farmer and Ursula and those others should never be forgotten.  But would any reasonably well-read person say they are?  Or Walter Miller or Iain Banks?  No, not yet on any such list!  And I hope never.

For my own answer I dug deeper. From Robert Sheckley and Alice Sheldon (James Tiptree Jr.) and William Tenn, the greatest of all short story writers to lamented classics like John Boyd’s “The Last Starship From Earth.”

(6) CALL FOR PAPERS. The MLA 2017 session “Dangerous Visions: Science Fiction’s Countercultures” seeks papers that probe the following topic –

In the introduction to the chapter on “Countercultures” in his edited volume The Oxford Handbook of Science Fiction (2014), Rob Latham asserts that “Science fiction has always had a close relationship with countercultural movements” (383). The alternative worldmaking capacities of SF&F, in other words, has long had resonances in the sub- and countercultural movements of the past few centuries, “especially,” as Latham qualifies and expands, “if the allied genre of the literary utopia [and, we might add, the dystopia] is included within” the orbit of SF.

The convention will be held in January 2017 in Philadelphia. Papers proposed to the panel … might address the countercultural forces of the following topics, broadly conceived, or take their own unique direction:

  • pulp magazines
  • SF and the Literary Left
  • the New Wave (American or British)
  • cyberpunk
  • British Boom
  • contemporary/world SF
  • postcolonial SF
  • (critical) utopias/dystopias
  • SF as counterculture
  • SF beyond “science fiction”
  • SF comics, films, television

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 23, 1957 – Machines at the Wham-O toy company roll out the first batch of their aerodynamic plastic discs–now known to millions of fans all over the world as Frisbees.

(8) SOME GOOD OLD DAYS. The Traveler at Galactic Journey in “20,000 Leagues Over The Air!” is among the very first in 1961 to review Vincent Price’s performance in Master of the World.

Every once in a while, my faith is restored in Hollywood, and I remember why I sit through the schlock to get to the gold.

My daughter and I sat through 90 minutes of the execrable, so bad it’s bad Konga because we had been lured in by the exciting posters for Master of the World.  It promised to be a sumptuous Jules Verne classic a la Journey to the Center of the Earth, and it starred the inimitable Vincent Price to boot.

It was worth the wait–the movie is an absolute delight….

(9) TIME TRAVELING IN STONE. On Book View Café, Steven Popkes tells about a road trip that combined “Fossils and Atomic Testing in Nevada”.

It was also a different perspective to see how people in Nevada viewed such things. I was living in California most of that time. We ducked and covered in the classrooms in case war came. But, in Las Vegas, people saw the flash. There were hundreds of tests in Nevada, many above ground. Every time an above ground test happened, it was seen across much of the state. In California, we were scared of something amorphous. In Nevada, they saw it every few months.

Then, back to the hills and looking for rocks and fossils.

We ended up with about 100 pounds of rock holding down every counter in the hotel room. Fifty pounds were our addition to the adjacent rock garden but the remaining 50 pounds needed to be shipped. We ended up purchasing a sturdy suitcase in Walmart and paying $25 for a check on. We heard, “what do you have in here? Rocks?” more than once. We just smiled and gave them our credit card.

(10) TROUBLE MAGNET. Lela E. Buis shares her ideas about “The dangers of Internet activism”.

However, some of these activists have run afoul of public opinion and suffered for it. Jenny Trout was dropped by her publisher after the Fionna Man episode. Ann Rice, Kevin Weinberg and Marvin Kaye suffered from their efforts to counter some of these attacks. Sarah Wendell received a lot of negative attention after Vox Day featured her comments on his conservative blog. And Day is a prime example himself. Everyone in the SFF community should know his name after last year’s Hugo debacle, but most of the press is so negative that it leads people to discount his viewpoints.

(11) TERMS WITHOUT ENDEARMENT. Did Steve Davidson just refuse John C. Wright’s surrender?

[Davidson] Response: “Publicly repudiate slates and campaigning. Don’t participate; let your readers know that you don’t endorse slates and have requested that your works not be included on them.”

[Writer left unnamed in article] “Done! I accept your offer, I have posted a notice on my blog eschewing slate voting, and you must now perform your part of the deal, and forswear putting my works, should any be nominated, below ‘No Award.’”

[Davidson continues] And now for the analysis.

First, note that in the first quote from PP we have this “assuming it wins the nomination”.

This whole thing is about the nominating process and the final voting, not just the final vote.  PP has very carefully tried to thread a needle here by entirely ignoring the fact that slates and campaigning are pretty much a done deal by the time we get to the final ballot.

So, PP.  No.  Your assumption about what you’ve agreed to do is meaningless because the assumption is wrong – and I think deliberately so.

Moving on:  We’ve been through this in detail for over two years now.  You may have made a statement on your blog – but I see no requests you’ve made to have your works removed from slates.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

SPECTRUM is Grieved: Francis Matthews Passes

Captain Scarlet and Francis Matthews.

Captain Scarlet and Francis Matthews.

By James H. Burns: Captain Scarlet looks out to me across time and space.

…In my home office, I have a Scarlet figurine, perched somewhere near Captain Action, Alvin, and a Babe Ruth baseball card….

But in the Autumn of 1968, I’d rush home from first grade, to catch Captain Scarlet,  the astonishing science fiction-adventure Supermarionation (marionettes) series from Great Britain’s Gerry and Sylvia Anderson (Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds). As I wrote about in “My Heart Is Like A Fireball”.

I bounded along the dunes of Mars, and the plains of Luna with an exhilaration I still long for, in an era when I thought all these spectacles would be but a prelude to our actually being there.

And I can still hear actor Francis Matthews, talking like CARY GRANT, as the superbly steadfast hero.

Matthews has passed away at the age of 86.

He also appeared in Revenge of Frankenstein, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, Corridors of Blood, The Hellfire Club and Rasputin: The Mad Monk. Beginning in 1969, he also starred in over fifty episodes of Paul Temple, as Francis Durbridge’s crime writer turned private eye, and guest-starred in such shows as The Avengers, and Morecambe and Wise.

From a British commercial for Kellogg’s cereal:

Original Cast Member Signs for Thunderbirds

Lady Penelope and Parker from Thunderbirds.

Lady Penelope and Parker from Thunderbirds.

David Graham will be the only original cast member returning in the new production of Thunderbirds Are Go!

He’ll be the voice of Parker, chauffeur of Lady Penelope’s pink Rolls Royce. Rosamund Pike will be Lady Penelope.

ITV will air 26 episodes in 2015. The show will use a mix of CGI animation and live-action miniature sets. ITV first aired the original series in 1965.

Graham, besides collaborating on several other Gerry Anderson series, was one of the first voices of the Daleks in Doctor Who. In the “1984” TV advertisement made to introduce the Apple Macintosh, he played the role of Big Brother.

A curious coincidence is that 2013 happens to be the character Parker’s year of birth.

Burns: A Fun Robert Vaughn SF Story

The_Protectors_titlescreen

By James H. Burns: Seeing U.N.C.L.E. mentioned at File 770 today reminded me of a great story Robert Vaughn once told to me and which, oddly, is not in his autobiography!

We were at a tribute to Vaughn at the Players Club in Manhattan, and were chatting amiably afterwards:

Vaughn was I think I bit surprised and happy that there was someone to talk with who knew a bit about various aspects of his career… (Plus, I had just explained the ending of Bullitt  to him, something which had apparently eluded the both of us, for years!)

We had just met, but suddenly there were a wealth of neat tales, as we stood near the passage to the actor club’s great hall…

In the early ’70s. Vaughn had signed to star in The Protectors, a syndicated, half-hour action adventure series about international detectives, from ITC and producers Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. The Andersons, of course, are well known to TV buffs and science fiction fans of a certain age for Supercar, Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet — all marionette shows, and the live-action series UFO, and Space: 1999.

(Intriguingly, in a move probably unknown to him, William Shatner was a finalist to be offered The Protectors‘ lead, which may have serious altered the trajectory of his career, starring in a major internationally distributed TV show, as a CONTEMPORARY “man-of-action.”)

The Andersons’ puppet shows were always a much greater success in Europe than in the United States, and UFO (filmed a couple of years earlier), had yet to be seen here.

The Protectors was a big deal for Anderson, his first major (and, as it turned out, last) mainstream–non-fantasy–endeavor.

The Andersons invited Vaughn and his then business partner to their London home for dinner, for a celebratory meal.

Vaughn and his business manager/pal had drinks in the living room, and then Gerry and Sylvia led them into the formal dining room…

It was only this small group, but the huge table was set for MANY:

And seated at each gilded chair was one of the Andersons’ famous Supermarionation figures!

But Vaughn and company had NO IDEA about the marionette shows…

And suddenly wondered —

And for a moment were perhaps just a tad worried —

At what exactly they had gotten themselves into!

Gerry Anderson Dies

Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson died December 26 at the age of 83. He was diagnosed with mixed dementia two years ago and his condition “worsened dramatically over the past six months” said his son to Time Magazine.

Anderson was a guest of honor at Intersection, the 1995 Worldcon in Glasgow.

He was famous for “supermarionation,” using puppets to act out science fiction TV adventures, and it was an affectionately bestowed, enduring fame — just last year the Royal Mail set FAB: The Genius of Gerry Anderson as the theme of its first issue of 2011, featuring his shows Stingray, Joe 90, and Captain Scarlett on postage stamps.

Anderson was also notable for Space: 1999, a live action sci-fi adventure that reportedly was the most expensive tv show made up to that time. Its not-especially-scientific premise was that the Moon had been hurtled into interstellar space by a thermonuclear explosion of nuclear waste dumped on the lunar surface. It starred Mission: Impossible vets Martin Landau and Barbara Bain.

Gerry Anderson was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2001.

Gerry Anderson Goes Postal

The Royal Mail has made FAB: The Genius of Gerry Anderson the theme of its first stamp issue of 2011.  

Stingray, Joe 90, and Captain Scarlett are among the Sixties television shows featured on stamps.

The stamps went on sale January 11.

Gerry Anderson is a past Worldcon Guest of Honor (1995).

Maybe I will be lucky and Langford will use one of the new stamps when he sends my copy of Ansible. That’s one of the fringe benefits of continuing to trade paper editions of our fanzines. I still have the envelope from his November issue with a stamp bearing a drawing of Pooh and Eeyore.

I must remember to return the favor by using some colorful commemoratives next time I mail him File 770. Which means I better publish another issue, so I will have something to put in the envelope.

But dang, I see I missed the Royal Mail’s Christmas 2010 issue of Wallace and Gromit stamps. Of course, who would mail such lovely things?

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]