(1) COURTING FATE. At The Millions, B.J. Hollars remembers “Ray Bradbury’s Keys to the Universe”.
I marvel at such miracles; in particular, Ray’s ability to forge his own fate as the opportunities presented themselves. But I marvel, too, at his refusal to leave anything to chance. Perhaps his stick-to-itiveness is best illustrated by way of a story he shared with me during my visit to his home all those years ago. How, as a young, broke, telephone-less writer in L.A., he’d given editors the telephone number of the gas station payphone across the street. His bedroom window flung wide, whenever that phone rang he’d leap out the window and sprint across the street. Then, as casually as possible, he’d answer, “Hello?”
Now that’s how it’s done, I remember thinking. That’s how you become a writer.
(2) WWWWD? Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot wants Warner Bros. to pull the plug on accused harasser Brett Ratner. Page Six broke the story: “Gal Gadot will only be ‘Wonder Woman’ again if Brett Ratner is out”.
“Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot is continuing to battle accused Hollywood sexual harasser Brett Ratner by refusing to sign for a superhero sequel unless the movie-maker is completely killed from the franchise.
A Hollywood source tells Page Six that Gadot — who last month backed out of a dinner honoring Ratner, where she was due to present him with an award — is taking a strong stance on sexual harassment in Hollywood and doesn’t want her hit “Wonder Woman” franchise to benefit a man accused of sexual misconduct.
Ratner’s production company RatPac-Dune Entertainment helped produce “Wonder Woman” as part of its co-financing deal with Warner Bros. The movie has grossed more than $400 million internationally, and Ratner’s company will take a healthy share of the profits. A Warner Bros. insider explained, “Brett made a lot of money from the success of ‘Wonder Woman,’ thanks to his company having helped finance the first movie. Now Gadot is saying she won’t sign for the sequel unless Warner Bros. buys Brett out [of his financing deal] and gets rid of him.”
(3) MORE HOLLYWOOD HARASSMENT. Classic Trek’s Mr. Sulu, actor George Takei, is one of the latest Hollywood figures to be accused of harassment. The Guardian has his denial — “George Takei responds to accusation he sexually assaulted a young actor”.
The Star Trek actor and gay rights activist George Takei responded on Saturday to an accusation that he sexually assaulted a young actor nearly 40 years ago. The alleged event “simply did not occur”, Takei said.
On Friday, Scott R Brunton told the Hollywood Reporter that in 1981, when he was 23, he was invited into Takei’s condo in Los Angeles. Brunton implied his drink may have been spiked, saying he passed out and awoke to find Takei trying to strip him and groping his genitals.
(4) SHOULDN’T BE A MYSTERY. On Friday night, the Jeopardy! game show had a “Science Fiction” category during the “Double Jeopardy” round. How did the contestants handle it? Andrew Porter supplied this narrative:
The category was in Double Jeopardy. I guess no one reads SF.
$400: This “Dune” author’s first published sci-fi tale appeared in Startling Stories Magazine in 1952.
No one answered.
$800: In John Wyndham’s 1951 novel “The Day of” these, “these” are carnivorous plants that can walk and kill a man.
No one answered.
$1200: Like “World War Z”, “Robopocalypse” is labeled this kind of history; it’s told by those who survived a robot war.
Wrong answer: “What is an alternate history?”
Correct answer: “What is an oral history?”
$1600: In “A Princess of Mars”, this fictional Civil War vet is transported to Mars & meets the beautiful Dejah Thoris.
No one answered.
$2000: The cover of this Isaac Asimov novel claimed, “four men and one woman journey into the living body of a man.”
Again, no one answered.
The final Jeopardy question, under “Awards & Honors”, was: “The Victoria Cross is for military bravery; this ross first given in 1940 & named for Victoria’s Great-grandson is for civilian bravery.”
Answers: “What is the Edward Cross?” – wrong; “What is the George’s Cross?” also wrong; “What is the George Cross?” – correct.
(5) BOOK RECS. Ann Leckie praises some “Things I’ve Read” beginning with —
I got an advance copy of Emergence, the next volume in C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series. Look, I’m a longtime fan of these, and I enjoyed the heck out of this one. If you’ve read the previous volumes, you’ll enjoy this one. If you haven’t, DO NOT START THE SERIES HERE. Give Foreigner a go–that’s the first volume–and see what you think.
(6) ALL IN BLACK AND WHITE FOR A DIME. Field Notes, a quarterly publication, will be doing a Dime Novel edition.
Inspiration for Field Notes Quarterly Editions can strike anytime, from anywhere. For our Fall 2017 edition, it struck from all the way back in 1860 in New York City and a pair of brothers: Erastus and Irwin Beadle. The Beadles had published a variety of inexpensive paperback books on subjects ranging from the tax code to baseball, but when they released Ann S. Stephens’ frontier tale Malaeska as the first of their orange-covered “Dime Novel” series, it sold more than sixty thousand copies and started a trend for cheap pocket-sized genre fiction.
Beadle’s Dime Novels eventually topped 300 titles, each selling 35–80,000 copies, and inspired countless other publishers to imitate (or often steal outright) the Dime Novel’s format, style, characters, and content. Along with imitators came an epic brotherly feud and a long series of lawsuits. It’s a complicated story, but in the end, a fair argument can be made that the Beadles created the mass-market American paperback
There’s also a four-minute video at the link.
(7) BRADBURY FOREVER. J. W. Ocker showed highlights of his Ray Bradbury artifact collection on his website in “Collecting Ray”.
Obviously, I wear my Ray Bradbury fandom on my [straightjacket] sleeve, but I’m also a Ray Bradbury collector, too. And I don’t mean his books, although that is part of it. I’m talking artifacts. Pieces of his life, his works, and those works inspired by him. They range from a brick from his now-demolished Los Angeles house to a test sketch by artist Joe Mugnaini for one of the illustrations for The Halloween Tree to a particularly disturbing prop from the movie version of his Something Wicked This Way Comes. Next time you come over to my house, I’ll show it all to you.
… See that wiry, coppery mass in the lower right corner? That’s actually the top of an award given to Bradbury in 2010 for “contribution to world peace through literature.” And it now sits on my shelf about a foot away from my desk, like I was the one who win it or something.
Ocker’s new book just came out, Death and Douglas. Here’s the front cover blurb:
“Spooky! Hilarious! And beautifully written. Ocker’s Death and Douglas now joins Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree as an annual autumn read.” — Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why and Piper.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
- November 12, 1982 – Creepshow premiered in theaters.
(9) YOUR DIGITAL SJW CREDENTIAL. The internet has a cat. Its name is Purrli.
— Purrli (@purrlipurrs) July 6, 2017
(10) $PACE COMMAND. Marc Scott Zicree’s Kickstarter to fund Space Command: Redemption hit its basic $39,000 goal in the first three days and now is ticking off its stretch goals.
They’ve raised $45,434 as of this writing. Should they hit $80,000, there will be enough to pay for Part Two of Space Command: Redemption.
(11) PULP REVOLUTIONARY. Galactic Journey tells readers what they have to look forward to in the December (1962) issue of Amazing — “[November 12, 1962] HEADS ABOVE THE CLOUDS (the December 1962 Amazing)”.
Roger Zelazny’s Moonless in Byzantium—his second Amazing story, fourth published—might have a broader appeal. It’s a surreal riff on one of the more familiar plots in the warehouse, the lone rebel face to face with an oppressive regime, in this case the Robotic Overseeing Unit. In this dystopia, machines are in charge, people are mostly machines, and our protagonist is charged with writing Sailing to Byzantium on a washroom wall. He is also charged with illegal possession of a name—William Butler Yeats, which he appended to Yeats’s poem. This is the world of Cutgab, in which language itself is drastically restricted and simplified, and writing forbidden. ROU accuses: “You write without purpose or utility, which is why writing itself has been abolished—men always lie when they write or speak.” The outcome is inevitable save for the accused’s final and futile defiance. This is one that succeeds on sheer power of writing; in theme and style, it suggests Bradbury with sharper teeth. Four stars for bravura execution of a stock idea.
(12) CLAIM JUMPER. Richard Paolinelli is always trying to get mentioned in this space, but making claims like this isn’t a good way to do it. He often tweets about his Dragon Awards finalist Escaping Infinity, but yesterday’s tweet also identified it as a Nebula nominee.
So what is that supposed to mean? Everyone knows his book wasn’t a Nebula finalist. Did someone cast one vote for it? Interestingly, the tweeted honor isn’t even listed on his website’s Awards page.
(13) ASK UMAMI. As usual, everything you know is wrong: “The real truth about whether our tongues have ‘taste zones'”.
You probably remember the diagram from school – a pink tongue with different regions marked for different tastes – bitter across the back, sweet across the front, salty at sides near the front and sour at the sides towards the back. I can remember a biology class where we made sugar and salt solutions and pipetted them onto different parts of our tongues to confirm the map was right.
At the time it all seemed to make sense, but it turns out it’s not quite this simple.
The famous tongue diagram has appeared in hundreds of textbooks over the decades. It’s sometimes blamed on a dissertation from 1901 written by a German scientist called David Pauli Hänig. By dripping salty, sweet, sour and bitter samples onto different parts of people’s tongues, he discovered that the sensitivity of taste buds varies in different areas of the tongue.
…Today we know that different regions of the tongue can detect sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Taste buds are found elsewhere too – in the roof of the mouth and even in the throat. As well as detecting the four main tastes, each taste bud can also detect the most recently discovered taste, umami – the taste that makes savoury foods like parmesan so more-ish.
(14) SUNDAY DRIVER. The BBC reports “US rocket launch aborted after small plane enters airspace”.
A rocket launch in Virginia was aborted at the last moment when a small aircraft flew into restricted airspace.
The unmanned cargo ship was about to be launched en route to the International Space Station (ISS) when mission control called “abort, abort, abort!”.
They had spotted a small aircraft flying in restricted airspace at 500ft (150m) near Wallops Island.
Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment: “As a former lightplane pilot, I don’t know whether this was ignorance (of temporary rules closing the airspace) or deliberate stupidity.” The launch did go on schedule on Sunday morning.
(15) ANDY WEIR ON THE MOON. NPR interview — “In New Novel, ‘Martian’ Author Andy Weir Builds A Colony On The Moon”.
On where he got the idea for Artemis
I wanted to write a story that took place in the first city that was not on Earth. And I thought about Mars, I thought about lower Earth orbit, but the Moon is the obvious place to build it. If you were on a football field and you were standing at one goal line, and if Mars were at the other goal line, the moon would be 4 inches in front of you. So that is the distance scale between them. So, yeah, colonizing Mars before you colonize the moon would be like if the ancient Britons colonized North America before they colonized Wales.
(16) WEIR’S FAVES. Breathe a sigh of relief – for once your TBR pile is safe — you’ve probably read most of “Andy Weir’s 6 favorite science fiction books”. The sixth is —
The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks (Orbit, $16).
A fantastic look at what a post-scarcity society might look like. There’s no hunger, no disease, no war — just benevolent computers that take care of humanity and other beings. How could there be conflict or struggle in such a world? Well, Banks is a genius and spins one hell of a story about what happens when the Culture meets a spacefaring alien race with far less enlightened views. And it doesn’t go how you think it would.
(17) GET READY. Naragansett Brewery’s Lovecraft Whiskey Release Party takes place December 1.
About two years ago, we released the I Am Providence Imperial Red Ale… and we’ve been keeping a deep, dark secret ever since.
While you were busy enjoying our other Lovecraft offerings, I Am Providence was distilled at Sons of Liberty, and has been aging in twisted oak barrels ever since.
Just as Cthulhu patiently waits to rise from the depths to destroy us all, I Am Providence has been waiting for you.
On December 1st, we unleash the madness. Get ready.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Fabrice Mathieu’s HZ Hollywood Zombies, a meteor strikes Hollywood! And all the Movie Stars become… Zombies! Which movie star would you like to be eaten by? Here are a couple of the many choices — Daniel Craig and Natalie Portman.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Bill, Magewolf, Rich Lynch, Andrew Porter, Moshe Feder, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor the day Jon Meltzer.]