Harry Potter Today and Tomorrow in History

The May Day story is that research shows Harry Potter readers become more tolerant toward minority groups:

Research published this week in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found that kids who read J.K. Rowling’s wildly popular wizarding series are more likely to reduce their prejudices toward minority groups, reports Pacific Standard. The researchers from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy noted that the books provide plenty of examples of bigotry, on which children can then form an opinion. From Harry’s defense of “mudbloods” like his friend Hermione, to Voldemort’s obsession with “pure-blood” witches and wizards, kids were able to recognize the unfairness in these instances and subsequently attach them to real-world examples of prejudice.

Tomorrow, May 2, we’ll be celebrating the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts

[Thanks to Orange Mike Lowrey and John King Tarpinian for the story.]

J. K. Rowling Explains
It All To You

Fairy godmothers are not a thing in Harry Potter, but J.K. Rowling sometimes plays one on her Twitter account.

Today she answered three readers’ questions about magical loose ends in her famous series.

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Rowling To Pen New Fantasy Movie

8C8959729-130912-ent-fantasticbeasts-vmed_blocks_desktop_smallIt would be a sin to leave money on the table and that’s one sin Warner Bros. will never be accused of when it comes to exploiting the Harry Potter franchise. So the studio has set J.K. Rowling to work writing the screenplay for a new series of movies based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a fictitious textbook used at Hogwart’s.

The story will be set in New York 70 years before the beginning of the Harry Potter series, and focus on Newt Scamander, the textbook’s author. It is not a prequel, says Rowling, “but an extension of the wizarding world.”

Rowling said the idea for a “Fantastic Beasts” film had come from Warner Bros., and she soon realized she could not entrust another writer with her creation.

“Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it,” she said. “I already knew a lot about Newt.”

“As I considered Warner’s proposal, an idea took shape that I couldn’t dislodge. That is how I ended up pitching my own idea for a film to Warner Bros.”

George R.R. Martin Makes TIME 100

George R.R. Martin

The 2011 TIME 100 is a list of “the most influential people in the world.” While I’d have expected a full slate of politicians, generals, religious figures, tech geniuses and leaders of protest movements, it’s a more wide-ranging list and George R.R. Martin is on it.

The TIME 100 runs the length of Pennsylvania Avenue (Barack Obama and John Boehner), features real and imitation royalty (Prince William and Kate Middleton, actor Colin Firth of The King’s Speech), and has room left over for Dharma Master Cheng Yen, Buddhist leader of an international relief organization. There is a cricket player, a couple of rap stars and a comedienne.

J.K. Rowling was on the list several times in the past decade, though Martin’s appearance may be the first for an author of epic fantasy.

Time assigned a humorist to write Martin’s brief bio, a decision at odds with such a portentous list but resonant with George’s own droll attitude towards professional writing:

Martin, 62, is as fine a researcher as he is a storyteller, and he packs in enough miserable fact about the meanness of medieval life that it occasionally echoes Baltimore in its harshness.

Besides, won’t the humorous approach help us all feel better about seeing George on a list with one of Qaddafi’s sons and the head of Pakistani military intelligence?

The complete TIME 100 is here.

[Thanks to Moshe Feder and Michael Walsh for the story.]

Fantasies Among UK’s Most Stolen Books

UK bookshops suffer an estimated 100 million book thefts a year, feeding a black market worth about £750 million. While London A-Zs: London Street Atlas leads the list of Ten Most Stolen Books, it’s joined on the list by several fantasy novels, with #3 being Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic, #4 J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and #6 Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, specifically, the 50th Anniversary Edition of the trilogy.

Tamer library customers are no less passionate about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and have made it Britain’s most borrowed book according to the UK’s Public Lending Right, a government-funded group that arranges payment to the authors of books stocked in public libraries.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the link.]

Stephen King Has Opinions

Lorrie Lynch’s USA Today blog has Stephen King in the crosshairs:

King, whose Stephen King Goes to the Movies collection came out last week, doesn’t know how much of an influence he had on [Stephanie] Meyer, but he does know that Rowling read his stuff when she was younger. “I think that has some kind of formative influence the same way reading Richard Matheson had an influence on me,” King explains.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the link.]

Snapshots 14

Five developments of interest to fans.

(1) If you habla Español, Roberto De Antuñano’s Ultralinea science fiction podcast may be for you. Roberto is the Entertainment editor for MSN Mexico (www.prodigy.msn.com), and he’s been a sci-fi fan since the golden age of 12. “Ultralìnea” takes its name from the Spanish version of Dan Simmon’s “Fatline.” The first podcast discussed Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan series. The latest argues whether Star Wars is science fiction or not – a familiar ploy that is just as successful in translation, judging by Roberto’s claim that the podcast has exceeded 200,000 downloads. (If the Crotchety Old Fan hasn’t already tried that one, I guarantee he will before next week.)

(2) Orbit is offering dollar e-books to readers on a rotating basis. The dollar titles are available at onedollarorbit.com. The January book is Brent Weeks’ epic fantasy, The Way of Shadows. Next month they’ll be offering Iain M. Banks’ Use of Weapons.

Kirk makes gunpowder(3) Using the gunpowder formula from the Star Trek episode “Arena”, a blogger takes the makings past TSA inspectors who have apparently never seen the episode. Her only trouble comes from inspectors who want to confiscate her dangerous bamboo flutes.

(4) I’d hate to be J.K. Rowling, hearing that my productivity determines whether British booksellers have jobs. As the Guardian sees it:

Not just one era came to an end this year, but two – and as a result publishers and booksellers will have to do without the main life-supporting drugs they’ve recently relied on.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard (currently number two, but after only 10 days on sale) looks likely to be JK Rowling ‘s last magical offering for some time, ending a series of roughly biennial mega-sellers that began with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire smashing records in 2000.

The Economist(5) Robert Sawyer pointed out on his blog that, in November, The Economist’s “World in 2009″ issue included a “Calendar for 2009″ whose first entry for August reads “Montreal hosts the World Science Fiction Convention, where an author’s fantasy can lead to a Hugo Award.”

[Thanks to David Klaus, Andrew Porter and John Mansfield for some of the items included in this post.]

Snapshots 9

Here are six developments of interest to fans.

(1) There are lots of reasons you should know that Sandy Meschkow has started a blog. Let him tell you a few:

Hey, I helped collate one of the early issues of that great newszine, LOCUS , before Charles N. Brown moved it to the West Coast. I helped several fans move belongings out of James Blish’s apartment when he was moving to England. I was president of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society early in the 1970s when I invited Keith Laumer to be our Principal Speaker and had Kelly Freas do a portrait of him for the program book. (I hope one of his kids still has it — it was great!) I have my very own Harlan Ellison story. And I remember when Star Trek fans tore the world of SF fandom in two! Yes, I saw a little fannish history and it might be of some interest to some of you.

(2) George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones has sold to HBO.

(3) The next Star Trek movie is due out in 2009, and the trailers have hit the internet.

The brief “Under Construction” trailer for J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek debuted with the release of Quantum of Solace, and was promptly bootlegged online.

A second, full-length trailer has, by now, been posted at the Star Trek movie site. And David Klaus immediately wondered about “the thousand-foot cliff at the edge of the Colorado-river-sized canyon…in Iowa?!? And fourteen-year-old Kirk’s 23rd century 1966 Corvette, which he James-Dean-drives into the canyon.”

Someone also has created a visual comparison of three versions of the Enterprise.

(4) Tennessee state Rep. Jason Mumpower has a big comics collection. How big?

When state Rep. Jason Mumpower neglected to report his comics collection to the Tennessee Ethics Commission, somebody dropped a dime. Or, rather, an email.

Mumpower needn’t worry, though: His 17,000 comics apparently don’t qualify as a financial investment that must be disclosed to the commission.

“My common sense tells me that isn’t something that should be reported,” Bruce Androphy, the commission’s executive director, tells the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Mumpower, the 35-year-old House Republican Leader, says he’s been collecting comics since he was 12, and has no idea of their value.

He notes that President-Elect Barack Obama also is a comics fan. (He reportedly likes Conan and Spider-Man.)

“There are two things Barack Obama and I have in common: We both collect comic books, and we both have big ears,” Mumpower told the newspaper.

(5) Is it so hard to meet JK Rowling that it’s newsworthy when a Harry Potter fan is lucky enough to meet the author?

YOUNG Harry Potter fan went to Edinburgh to see where her favourite book was written … and bumped in to JK Rowling in a cafe.

Dulcie Horn, 15, travelled all the way from her home in Devon to the Scots capital to tour the spots where JK wrote the first Potter book.

She and her godmother were on the way to the famous Nicolson’s cafe, where JK would go to write while she was struggling on benefits, when they stopped off at another cafe, Florentines.

And just as they left their table after their meal, JK walked in and sat down at it….

JK used several cafes while writing Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone but Nicolson’s, now called the Buffet King, is the most famous.

The cafe even has a plaque on the wall to mark its connection to the millionaire author.

(6) Yes, Rowling has such a following in Scotland that the top ten most often stolen books from Scottish libraries include her Harry Potter series. Other sf, fantasy and horror titles favored by Scotland’s thieves are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Discworld series, and The Stand

[Thanks to David Klaus, Andrew Porter and John Mansfield who sent links included in this post.]

Update 11/21/2008: Fixed attribution of David Klaus’ take on the Star Trek trailer.

Rowling Wins Fair Use Case

Steven Vander Ark

J. K. Rowling has won her copyright action against a small Michigan publisher. A U.S. District Court ordered RDR Books not to publish Steven Vander Ark‘s The Harry Potter Lexicon, and punished it for copyright infringement by awarding Rowling $750 for each of the seven Harry Potter novels and for the two books she has written about the Harry Potter universe a total of $6,750. What little silver lining there may be comes from the fact that…

Fair use cases tend to be considered on a case-by-case basis, something that heartened the lawyers from the Stanford Fair Use Project, who were encouraged “by the fact the Court recognized that as a general matter authors do not have the right to stop the publication of reference guides and companion books about literary works.”

The Guardian tracked down Steven Vander Ark in England and discovered he is hard to discourage. He thought the court’s judgment appeared to leave “a lot of leeway” for a revised edition of The Harry Potter Lexicon, but said there were no immediate plans to produce one. And his reason for being in England? To research his next Potter-themed book, about real places that have made their way into Rowling’s fiction. “Obviously I do a lot of research on Harry Potter. And the more research I did the more I realised that the places in the books were places in the world, particularly those in the west country, because she went to university in Exeter.”

[Via CBA News and John Mansfield.]

Potter Prequel Sold at Auction

Potter Prequel at auctionThe BBC reports an 800-word mini-prequel to the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling was sold today at auction for $49,323/ £ 25,000.

“That’s $59/ £ 30 per word,” explains David Klaus, who sent me this story. “Jack Williamson, who got 1/4 cent/word for his first story from Hugo Gernsback after threatening a lawsuit to get his money, must be a veritable whirligig in his grave.”

The auction raised money for English PEN, which promotes understanding through literature, and Dyslexia Action. Organizers asked 13 authors, including Rowling, Nick Hornby and Doris Lessing, to create work for the sale.