Journey Planet’s Star Wars Issue

[May the Fourth is a date for celebrating Star Wars and James Bacon’s birthday, and connecting the two, is the release date for a special issue marking 10 years of Journey Planet.]

By James Bacon: May the Fourth be with you – we offer you Journey Planet:The Star Wars issue

With a stunning cover by Sarah Wilkinson, this issue of Journey Planet sets out to explore the Galaxy Far Far away. Edited by Chris Garcia, James Bacon and John Coxon, we’ve interviews with Tom Vietch, Timothy Zahn, Ruairí Coleman, Sean Williams and Will Sliney.

Andrea Swinsco and Jeannette Ng have very different views on The Last Jedi.

Craig Miller offers considerable insight to his times working with Star Wars, and also provides an obituary remembering Carrie Fisher.

We have  An Islamic Perspective of Star Wars by Irfan Rydhan and a consideration of contemporary cultural narratives in Imperfect Worlds by Charlotte Cleo Wolf, while Micheal Carroll shares his scrap-book clippings.

James Mason looks at visual concepts, David Ferguson looks at characters and Juan Sanmiguel looks at  Star Wars on the Radio and we have a Holiday Special survival guide by Helena Nash

Dr Anthony Roche reviews  Alan Moore’s Star Wars comics, James Shields sources input about Star Wars Lego, from Hoth to Millennium Falcons and Will Frank considers the Lucasflm Buy and Fanwork.

We also have articles on the female pilots who never made it on screen, and those who did, Irish Connections in Star Wars, The Five Greatest Star Wars Games of All Time and Hardware Wars the latter two by editor Chris Garcia.

This has been a tough issue for one of the editors, Chris Garcia noted: ‘I am writing this from a tiny nook in Santa Clara’s Kaiser hospital. Vanessa, my loving wife, is having a ten hour surgery upstairs. I am downstairs. I’ve had my coffee, some tater-tots, a couple of pieces of bacon, and an orange juice. I’m listening to podcasts, specifically Last Podcast on the Left about the late, great Art Bell. I am more scared at this moment than any other in my entire life.’

“Hope.” — Leia Organa

We hope you join us in celebrating Star Wars today, and even if you are not a fan, enjoying reading views and opinions and thoughts on this wide-ranging universe that so many love so much. And if that fails, we offer you in desperation, the raising of a pint as one of our editors celebrates their birthday today and this issue marks ten years of Journey Planet.

Cheers Nerf Herders!

The zine can be found here:

http://journeyplanet.weebly.com/journey-planet/a-fanzine-far-far-away-journey-planet-star-wars

Happy St. Patrick’s Day – Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Dave Lally and James Bacon.

By James Bacon: St Patrick’s day in Dublin is about the parade, enjoying the festivities and watching the floats, full of costumes, colour and hours of effort.

This year in Dublin, to mark the celebrations, Mark Hamill has been asked to be a special guest, joining the dignitaries in the President’s stand on O’Connell St.

Hamill has traced some of his Irish heritage, his great-grandmother Elizabeth Keating from Kilkenny, his grandparents John Keating married Margaret Foley in Carlow Cathedral in 1822 and Mary Harvey was his great-great-grandmother, from a Famine immigrant family that settled in America.

Mark Hamill encourages people to visit Ireland, and this week, I hope Dublin 2019 has done that too, and especially to join us at Dublin 2019 An Irish Worldcon.

Our prices are increasing on the 3rd of April, and that is also an important cutoff date for those who supported the bid, Bid backers and Bid pre-supporters, as their discount ends. Further details here. https://dublin2019.com/join-us/upgrade-options/

We are acutely aware that for some members the Dublin Worldcon will be more than a Bus, Dart or Luas into town, or a Train or Coach up to Dublin, and so we have initiated an instalment plan this week, to help everyone who wants to, to come along by spreading the membership cost over a number of payments.

Details on the instalment plan are here: https://dublin2019.com/instalment-plan/

We also have a ‘First Worldcon rate’ for fans who have never been to Worldcon, and we are pleased to be welcoming over 100 of those fans already. If this is you, do get your ‘First Worldcon’ membership at the cheapest it will be, it too will rise on the 3rd of April.

We will also be launching a family rate, before the price rise. Do watch our social media for that.

As ever, it is helpful to Worldcons that people sign up, join up, indeed the more people that join earlier, the better we can plan, and be more effective with your money.

There are plans and preparations that can be made: checking the Passport is in date, or indeed ordering one; thin?k?ing about how the trip to the Dublin Worldcon in Ireland, in August 2019 can be part of a larger adventure, going around the country,

Do join us –  https://dublin2019.com/join-us/

Once the parade is over, I will be joining our Dublin 2019 treasurer amongst other fans, for a few pints watching Ireland play England in the six nations rugby championship and hopefully have another reason to keep my Irish eyes smiling. I hope you have a great day, whereever you are.

Very best and I hope you have a wonderful day.

Pixel Scroll 3/15/18 Yon Pixel Has A Lean And Hungry Look

(1) LUCAS MUSEUM. NBC Los Angeles was there for Wednesday’s ceremony: “George Lucas’ $1 Billion Museum Breaks Ground in Exposition Park”.

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts in Exposition Park is beginning to take shape in Los Angeles’ Exposition Park area.

Filmmaker George Lucas and wife Mellody Hobson were at a groundbreaking Wednesday for the $1 billion museum. The museum will house works by painters such as Edgar Degas, Winslow Homer and Pierre-Auguste Renoir; illustrations, comic art and photography by artists such as Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish and N.C. Wyeth; as well as storyboards, props and other items from popular films. It will be a “barrier-free museum” where “artificial divisions between `high’ art and `popular’ art are absent,” according to the museum’s website.

“It will be beautiful. It will be 11 acres of new parkland here,” Hobson said. “Everyone always wonders why we are doing so much to make this building stand out. George said, ‘I want an iconic building. I want a child to look at this building and say I want to see what is inside of that building.’ The building itself is a piece of art that will be in this park that we’re creating for this entire community and the world.”

The museum plans to feature a five-story building with 300,000 square feet of floor area for a cafe and restaurant, theaters, office space, lecture halls, a library, classrooms, exhibition space and landscaped open space.

Lucas told a CBS News interviewer:

Movies, including the “Star Wars” series, will be featured in exhibits showing what it takes to make a film, from set designs to character and costume sketches. There will be film storyboards and comic art. But the museum will also display paintings by Renoir, N.C. Wyeth, Winslow Homer, Maxfield Parrish and Norman Rockwell – all from Lucas’ private collection.

“I think more people will come in for Rockwell than will come in for ‘Star Wars,'” Lucas said.

“Norman Rockwell can tell a whole story in one picture,” Lucas said.

“When were you captivated by Rockwell?” Blackstone asked.

“When I was 8 years old… I wanted to be an illustrator. I wanted to be able to do that,” Lucas said. “I wanted to be able to do pictures that have a message that appeals to a lot of people.”

Art that tells a story inspired him to tell stories. That narrative art is what Lucas will share in his museum.

(2) ANNIHILATION. Camestros Felapton has eyeballed the evidence and delivered his verdict: “Review: Annihilation (movie 2018 – Netflix)”.

The film (which had a very limited cinema release in the US and then a Netflix release internationally) is a different creature than the book. Events have been changed, plot elements removed, characters adjusted and the structure of the story altered. All of which seems to have been a good idea. The film carries the same sense of paranoia and wonder as the book and the same theme of people trying to cope when confronted with the incomprehensible. However, it has been remade into its own thing – a story with its own structure and characters that shares DNA with the book but which follows its own course.

(3) HELP WANTED. Journey Planet wants contributors for a Star Wars theme issue —

Regular Editors Chris Garcia and James Bacon, joined by Will Frank, have set out to create an issue of Journey Planet dedicated to the legendary Star Wars Universe. The issue, set for a May 4th release, will look at the films, the universe, the fans, the books, the comics, the toys, the Irish Connection and the meaning of the greatest of all science fiction franchises!

We want to hear from you if you are interested in contributing. We have an instant fanzine and are soliciting pieces, from short pieces on the first time you saw the films, about your massive collection of Star Wars figures (Mint-on-Card, of course)

We already have a beautiful cover by Sarah Wilkinson.

Please contact — journeyplanet@gmail.com

Tell us what you’d like to write about. Then content submission Deadline is April 17th

And may the Force be with you!

 

(4) HAL/ALEXA. So how is this invention supposed to parallel the workings of HAL-9000 – by preventing people from getting back into their homes? The Verge tells us “This replica of HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey comes with Amazon’s Alexa built in”.

HAL-9000, the malevolent supercomputer at the heart of Stanley Kubrick’s classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, is an icon of science fiction cinema. So much so, that if you ask any one of the virtual assistants to “Open the pod bay doors,” they’ll dutifully parrot HAL’s lines from the movie back at you. Now, Master Replicas Group wants to take that step a bit further, turning HAL into a virtual assistant that can control your home.

The company name might be familiar to prop and costume fans: the original Master Replicas produced a range of high-quality props from franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek before going out of business a decade ago. If you’ve seen someone swinging around a lightsaber, there’s a good chance it’s one of Master Replicas’ props, or based off of their models. The new company is made up of several former employees, who are getting back into the prop replica business with a new range of products, including an interactive replica of HAL.

This isn’t the first time that someone’s thought about putting HAL into your home’s smart devices: a couple of years ago, fan prop-maker GoldenArmor made its own version that allows someone to mount it over their Nest thermostat. MRG’s prop goes a bit beyond that. It recently obtained the license from Warner Bros. to create an exact replica of the iconic computer, and while most prop replicas are static recreations of a movie or film prop, this version is designed to be interactive, using Amazon’s smart assistant, Alexa.

A humorous video simulating “If HAL9000 was Amazon.com’s Alexa” has already gone viral —

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 15, 1956 Forbidden Planet premiered.
  • March 15, 1967 Frankenstein Created Woman stitched together a story for the theaters.
  • March 15, 1972 Slaughterhouse Five was first released theatrically.

(6) IS IT VINTAGE? Mark Kelly considers the sequel to Dandelion Wine in “Ray Bradbury: FAREWELL SUMMER”.

RB provides an afterword to this book, also, in which he explains where this book came from. In the mid 1950s (several years after the successes of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES and THE ILLUSTRATED MAN)  he submitted a manuscript to his publisher, Doubleday, for the book that became DW. But that original manuscript was too long and his editor suggested cutting it. RB quotes his reply (p210 in FS): “ ‘Why don’t we published the first 90,000 words as a novel and keep the second part for some future year when you feel it is ready to be published.’ At the time, I called the full, primitive version The Blue Remembered Hills. The original title for what would become Dandelion Wine was Summer, Morning, Summer Night. Even all those years ago, I had a title ready for this unborn book: Farewell Summer.”

With DANDELION WINE such an entrenched classic, it’s difficult to imagine how the content of FAREWELL SUMMER could have been incorporated into it. That would have been a completely different book. As it came to be, DW has a perfect story arc, across one summer in the life of a 12-year-old. Yet even as a leftover, on its own, FS is a quite different, a rather oddly amazing and moving, book.

(7) WHEATON MEETS SHATNER. In this video, Wil Wheaton acts out meeting William Bleeping Shatner when ST:TNG was in its second season.

The filming of Star Trek 5 happened only a few doors away from Star Trek The Next Generation, Giving Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) the chance to meet his idol William Shatner, it didn’t go as well as he had hoped…

 

(8) LAST-MINUTE CAMPAIGNING. We’re annually snowed under by award eligibility posts, but it’s strange to see them still arriving with less than 24 hours left to nominate, when voters no longer have time to read/listen to the person’s recommended body of work.

Lawrence Schoen urges consideration of his Eating Authors blog:

Every Monday morning*, since June of 2011, I’ve put out a blog post featuring authors and their most memorable meals. That’s more than 350 stories of incredible food, amazing dinning companions, astonishing circumstances, and remarkable settings.

And Crystal Huff points to a year’s worth of tweets:

(9) POOP HAPPENS. From Pitchfork we learn: “Neil Young Writing a Sci-Fi Novel Called Canary”.

Neil Young recently sat down with Rolling Stone’s Patrick Doyle to discuss his role in the upcoming film Paradox. In the midst of the interview, he opened up about the sci-fi novel he’s been writing. It’s called Canary, and Young said it focused on a power company employee who gets caught exposing the corruption at his workplace. “He discovers the solar company he works for is a hoax,” he explained. “And they’re not really using solar. They’re using this shit—the guy who’s doing this has come up with a way to make bad fuel, the bad energy, this really ugly terrible stuff, and he’s figured out a way to genetically create these animals that shit that gives the energy to make the [fuel]. So he’s created this new species. But the species escapes. So it’s a fuckin’ mess. It’s a long story.”

Young said he already has a New York agent on board with the project, but didn’t share a possible publication date. He also got candid when it came to the topic of retirement tours. “When I retire, people will know, because I’ll be dead,” he said. “I’m not gonna say, ‘I’m not coming back.’ What kind of bullshit is that? I could go out and play if I felt like it, but I don’t feel like it.”

(10) SHETTERLY. Are Will Shetterly’s and Jon Del Arroz’ situations alike? JDA evidently thinks so.

(11) YO HO NO. Fraser Sherman is teed off: “Books are too expensive, so it’s okay to pirate them. Oh, really?”

I have no sympathy for this crap. In the many years I did the struggling-writer shtick, I saw lots of books I couldn’t afford. I didn’t steal copies. I wouldn’t do it if I were still struggling. If it was a paper copy, would they shoplift it from Barnes & Noble if they thought it was overpriced? Or how about a restaurant — if the service takes too long (the “they don’t release it fast enough” argument), does that mean they’re entitled to steal food from the salad bar? Soft drinks cost a fraction of what they sell for, does that make it okay to steal them? Or movie tickets — lord knows those are outrageously priced, but does that justify sneaking in without paying?

(12) THE JEOPARDY BEAT. Rich Lynch says tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! included this answer:

A contestant got it right.

(13) GOT OBSIDIAN? “Changing environment influenced human evolution”: a site in Kenya is “the earliest known example of such long distance [25-95km] transport, and possibly of trade.”

Early humans were in the area for about 700,000 years, making large hand axes from nearby stone, explained Dr Potts.

“[Technologically], things changed very slowly, if at all, over hundreds of thousands of years,” he said.

Then, roughly 500,000 years ago, something did change.

A period of tectonic upheaval and erratic climate conditions swept across the region, and there is a 180,000 year interruption in the geological record due to erosion.

It was not only the landscape that altered, but also the plant and animal life in the region – transforming the resources available to our early ancestors….

(14) STORAGE WARS. That stuff sure looked familiar…. “Police: Marvel fan spotted his $1.4M collection for sale online”.

Police in California said two men were arrested on burglary charges after a man discovered his $1.4 million collection of Marvel super hero memorabilia for sale online.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office said the Rancho Cucamonga Police Department responded Feb. 22 to a storage facility where a man discovered his collection of Marvel collectibles had been stolen after he was made aware that some of his items were listed for sale online.

(15) LATE NIGHT NERDS. Joel Zakem spotted this TV highlight: “Steven Colbert talks to Paul Giamatti about Science Fiction and used book stores during the first 5 minutes of this interview from yesterday’s Late Show. It’s probably the only time you will hear Henry Kuttner and Avram Davidson mentioned on late night TV.” — “Paul Giamatti And Stephen Are Science Fiction Nerds”

‘Billions’ star Paul Giamatti gets some gifts or reading assignments from Stephen, depending on how you look at them.

 

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

Journey Planet’s Tribute to Judge Dredd

The Journey Planet team of Chris Garcia, Mike Carroll and James Bacon report –

We’ve been exceptionally lucky with this issue of Journey Planet on Judge Dredd, getting permission to publish a comic story, and also interview the creators of Judge Dredd, John Wagner and Pat Mills who brought Judge Dredd to the comic book pages of 2000AD forty-one years ago

We felt we wanted to show readers some of Judge Dredd. All text about a comic is hard, we wanted fans to get the chance at experiencing the best that the comic has to offer currently.

Chris and James felt that the standalone story, ”The Third Person” was one of the best comic stories last year, and we are all grateful to Mike Molcher and Rebellion for allowing us to reprint this Judge Dredd story in full.

The story covers interesting elements such as neuro-diversity and a unique approach to pre-determinism, as well a cultural reference.

James and Chris wanted to do a feature on it, but reckoned that while a diverse and varied set of views and reviews might be interesting, our own thoughts potentially were dangerously sycophantic. We got a range of voices to share their thoughts, professional games developer Helena Nash, author Anton Marks, academic Jack Fennell, fan Kelly Beuhler, Irish Comic News Blog Editor David Ferguson and comics scholar Lisa Macklem among others to offer insight and comment on this fabulous ten-page story.

We introduce the art, character and historical elements to new readers, have features on related publications, as well as articles that are firmly tongue in cheek as well as serious pieces considering the character and stories.

We wanted something for the new reader as well as for the fans who know the lore of Dredd, but would like to read fresh angles and perspectives.

We also take a look at other Judge Dredd fanzines, with special features on the long-running Zarjaz and the brand-new Belfast-based zine Sector 13.

We are grateful to all our contributors, and Mike Molcher of Rebellion.

Journey Planet 39: Judge Dredd is available at the link.

Have scarf will travel. Part three.

Cap-bosk run in six parsecs

Dublin 2019 chair James Bacon and scarf.

By James Bacon. I’m a bit rough around the edges. Coffee is trying to sharpen my state of mind and indeed it tastes good but I’m tired, that good tired where I cannot stop, the convention tired where you want to keep going, I’ve no headache or hangover but the body knows it’s been a punishing time, it’s been so much fun. A bit more sleep, that’s it. No. Wait. Not that much!

I’ve had a mighty time. I am farewelled in the lobby and I leap into the taxi with the delicacy of a well used wet bath towel hitting the bathroom floor. I get to O’Hare and am working on this piece as I go. It’s been great fun.

What is fun though? Why am I asking that question, how long before this piece goes a bit gonzo?

Fun is so subjective.

I’m not sure if the debate about what makes a con fun would match the passion that I saw demonstrated during the Last Jedi panel where it was clear that some wanted to debate really hard whether Rey, growing up on the streets, would have more or less skills than a whiney farm boy or whether the film was good or not and whether it’s now ruined the next instalment. There was earnestness there, an energy that manifested in thoughtful challenging opinions, held strongly and by people well able to put their argument forward clearly with fine examples. Did I ruin the fun by finding the intransigence of some entrenched views wonderful, pulling myself from the mired muddy débâcle to observe the melee, noting that watching on as opinions are sharpened and objections raised the blood obviously flowing more strongly as people care about the concepts and interpretations that they have taken from a film animate them into a position where it’s clear how there is no changing this viewpoint, and I’m not arguing, rather watching on impressed that a film can create such discussion and loving it. It was a fabulous panel, and Timothy Zahn was very good on it.

I saw people enjoying themselves, could mean anything.

I have to elucidate a little more coherently. Why did it feel good. It’s true I’m welcome here but from the reg desk through to the way people are applauded for their first Capricon, I hope they feel welcomed, but it sure looks like it.

Rey’s staff

By Friday over 1,000 people were members, every child that walked into kids programme to make Rey’s staff was greeted warmly even when they were drifting between ambivalence, shy driven distaste, but all came along onward and all got the crafting going and soon the dejected few were finding that a multi coloured staff of their own design with their favourite colours was really desirable. All are then shouting CAP-RI-CON with a room full of kids where it’s all very organised but only a heart beat from chaos, and a good time while taking a five foot foam and pipe staff home was not all that bad. ‘Who doesn’t know Rey, any one need to be patronised about how awesome she is?’ I ask. They are smart and brutally honest, patient but happy to voice and act on immediate feelings and if you aren’t doing a good job, they will let you know. Fannish feedback that is not so much sharp, incisive and cutting here, but a brutal hack and slash instantaneous style that means one implores ‘no blasters no blasters’ and dive behind the table for cover.

My flight has gone astray. A bit. My plans today are changing shape. An hour for the dealers room to see the awesome Art Exhibit at Boskone, is now going to be lost. Indeed as I write this I’ve no idea if I’ll make the Craig Miller GOH item that has excited me so much. I was sure I’d miss it, then when the schedule came out it worked perfectly and now it’s in the air. Literally. I may turn up late. Sneaking in down the back and pretending I was there all the time could be a plan but it’s imbued with a rake of potential pitfalls, creaky doors, noises clumsiness, worse the entrance of shame with an annoyed welcome from the top, it’s all a bit exciting.

Damnit can this fecking plane not belt down the runway any faster. Maybe if I play some Ramstein it will quicken the pace. Faster. Come on. It’s not working. I flick the fingers over the glass and choose ‘Into the trap’ by John Williams, oh yeah, this is more like it, I’m pushed back into the seat, and soon we rotate, and hit some awesome turbulence just as I hear and imagine the falcon swooping through the fleet, the orchestra rising in tempo and quickening like my heart as we rise and jet skyward towards Boston.

Last night at Capricon; ‘Are you British?’ washes past me, was that a question, was it humour, was it rhetorical, can I spell rhetorical, I’m unsure, but the question fails to even raise a pithy, abusive and sarcastic ‘bloody septic’, and as I see there’s a response required I smile calmly, ‘no Irish’ which oddly leaves everyone else more worried than anything, is my smile menacing,  I try to smile more, it doesn’t help, is it now a bit demented looking, it’s easy to go astray with accents, and smiles, and aren’t we all fans, but this is awkward and doesn’t my Train Driving Licence have the Union Flag on it,’ I’m an immigrant living in London.’ I helpfully say. Did that help? I dunno. Everyone’s friendly, fall back to a trope or as I heard it described this weekend, a story device that frequently works well. ‘Where’s the beer?’ I smile as I ask, everyone smiles and points

Who’d nationalise individuals, isn’t that dreadful, aren’t we are all fans in this happy borderless bliss. British Fan Dermot Dobson careens around the corridor corner and I greet him, he is exceptionally well-known in these north westwards Chicago parts, and he is soon brandishing his new Irish ID at me, we embrace long and warmly and cheer and whoop and he smiles and gesticulates and I, in an instantaneous semi-official self-appointed capacity welcome him to his newly found fannish family and he describes the joy of his receiving his new passport and I’m pleased like he’s joined Dublin 2019 but a version that is infinite. Irish fan Dermot Dobson. Many are envious. I ponder if we can import all the fans and make them Irish and whether Octocon chair Janet O’Sullivan would string me up, strike me down or send me some extra membership forms.

There’s a Star Wars vibe at Capricon but it’s not overpowering. Sarah Wilkinson and Timothy Zahn are show stealers, both are so erudite and enthusiastic but also love the world they have a place in and it shows. I meet four Princess Leia’s, although I admit I wish there was a Jyn here, there’s a couple of Sith and a few Jedi, I’d like more rebels really. I cosplay up myself, doing a personal interpretation of The Bombshells Batgirl in a Baseball uniform but adjusting it as you do and switching up to Batwoman. I meet Michigan fans in Star Wars cosplay, and an excellent local family, with superhero and star wars cosplay on.

Princess Leia

There’s a solid programme at Capricon and it creates that conflict of annoyance that there is too many good things to go to. There’s over 200 programme items and that doesn’t include screenings, games and all the parties. Items of interest vary from discussing Mary Shelly at 200 to the diversity backlash. I consider listing my top 10 programme items, but rather, I shall cover my favourites in more detail later. It has been a great programme.

I’ve missed a cracking party at Boskone. Erin Underwood arranged a Dublin 2019 late night meet up. I’m envious although at the same time I’m dancing at a party, my feet flying across the floor like a rhino on ice. I am not the only one dancing, and across in Boston, I hear reports that Geri Sullivan is leading the dance there. Erin reports that great chat is happening as fans sit around and are joined by Dublin GOH Ginjer Buchanan and the dancing is fun and there are lots of green lights. Meanwhile, the Dublin 2019 team in Dublin may be sleeping after an excellent day at Leprecon. I get sent a lovely set of photos, one in Scrabble’s letters, really makes me smile.

Message from Leprecon

Back at Capricon, Tammy has set up a ‘Pop-Up’ cocktail spread at Lance’s party, and Deanna is doling out fabulous ciders. Cows are having a fun session, and I cannot believe that Dr Zhivago nails it. (Fannish Family Feud) Barfleet are here in strength with two party suites, providing a disco, Friday was awesome 90’s music, now there is a great mix, decent rock and well-known anthems. They really know how to party. The Barfleet team show everyone a great time, and indeed very warm welcome. The UBS Abandon, the Chicago Chapter of Barfleet is celebrating its tenth anniversary, and they really throw one hell of a party, while it is lovely how they recognise their volunteers so well, and indeed, recognise fan achievment. I am impressed.

Ten Years

The plane, which has formed my writing desk, is descending. ETA is 12.50 it’s early. John Williams has worked, the Cap-bosk run in six parcecs! It’s 12.20. OK, so we did it in less time, and the distance is 4.694e-11 in parsecs, but don’t ruin the flow of a good story with hard science.

We land. We taxi…Why has the plane stopped?  This is not good. This is not a jetty this is somewhere in Logan but not where I need to be. That’s it. Move to the jet bridge. Unload you feckers. Luggage. I have all the luggage, it’s 1240 now. Jackie Kamlot is waiting, the car is not revving, but soon it is. Crikey we are going.

12.48 I can see the Westin on the horizon, the car skews around and we gain traction. Engine still running as I get out. 12.54 I am walking into the Westin, badge on, say hello to the Dublin fan table team, and beg grace to go see an item, and then walk into the Harbour III room just as Craig finishes ensuring the presentation is set up right. Craig starts. Made it. Done it.

Done it Mike.

Have Scarf Will Travel – Party Time at Capricon

Dublin 2019 chair James Bacon and scarf.

By James Bacon: The party scene is big part of Capricon.

Although I first encountered parties at Worldcon in 1995, the idea of a 1,000-person con having two floors of suites with large rooms, some much bigger than places I have lived, all hosting parties was mind-blowing.

Friendly and welcoming, going from room to room enjoying the hospitality and of course refreshments, I have yet to attend a convention where the party scene was better. Although I have heard amazing things about Norwescon and have loved great parties at both Arisia and Boskone.

Thursday night may be a quieter night, but it doesn’t feel quiet, and there are a number of parties taking place. I end up helping a couple of them prepare, moving furniture around and so on.

Tammys cocktails

Tammy Coxen is doing an amazing Tammy cocktail party with a series of drinks representing Worldcons and Worldcon bids.

Dublin 2019 is well represented here with a fresh take on the traditional whiskey and red lemonade. Tammy is serving the Whiskey with lemon juice, grenadine and club soda.

I have managed to bring some red lemonade from Europe, this uniquely Irish soft drink goes very well with Whiskey, so fans enjoy it, and we have some regular whiskeys, Bushmills, Red Bush, Powers to taste it with. I tell everyone it is the most popular way to have whiskey in Ireland, although I admit I read that online, but Red Lemonade is always available in Irish Pubs and in Dublin a Jammie and Red is very common drink.

The range of regular whiskey  is bolstered with the locally bought ‘Clontarf’ whiskey which I call ‘Clondalkin’ whiskey, which while very affordable at $18 a litre and possibly frowned upon by the connoisseur, is quite smooth with a stronger bourbon or caramel hint from it. It is great with the Red Lemonade.

DC in 2021 has a vermouth-based drink on Tammy’s menu, but Bill Lawhorn, Co-Chair of the bid, like myself deviates from the menu and produces a ‘DC Neapolitan,’  consisting of Baileys, chocolate liqueur and tequila rosa, incredibly tasty sweet creamy alcoholic shots that go down well.

Although unrepresented on the menu due to no bid, I have a Down East Cider from Boston.

Dave, Helen, and an Irish hand.

Helen Montgomery and Dave McCarthy are throwing a party for the Chicago 2022 bid. They have some great food, a creamy meatball thing, and a space theme to their drinks. ‘Take it to the Stars’ is their tag line, and I am offered a vodka and orange tang cocktail mix. I soon learn that the orange drink is the stuff of astronauts, and it goes down easy along with that other well know space drink, Earl Grey tea with scotch and honey. Also a few cases of Space Station Middle Finger, an American pale ale, from the Three Flyodds Brewing Company. The space theme is really nice, and there is a lot of buzz here for 2022.

I head to Rook Books, where Deanna Sjolander and Blake Hausladen are hosting an excellent Books and Beer party, where there is a wide variety of very interesting drinks. I go to the Rock Band party, and engine room parties, and eventually have a short snooze on a couch at around 2 a.m. in Tammys. It has slightly caught up with me, but it is a good night, and I eventually get to the bed by 4 a.m. after causing some consternation by drinking Balvenie 12-year-old single malt scotch, with red lemonade.

Books and Beer

Friday and Saturday will have a range of other parties. Barfleet are having a UBS Abandon 10-year celebration, there will be a ‘For the Love of Comics’ party, Minneapolis in 2073, more Books and Beer and a list of others, all to look forward to.

I admit that I am a bit conflicted as Erin Underwood has arranged a Dublin 2019 meet up at Boskone on Saturday night, in the Galleria at from 10:30 p.m.-12:00 midnight, with Irish snacks, drinks, and some Irish music and one of our GOH’s. Meanwhile over in Ireland, members of the Dublin 2019 team have also been making their way to Leprecon 39 at Goldsmith Hall in Trinity College Dublin. https://leprecon.ie/

Panels start at 10 a.m. for me, so time for sleep.

Have Scarf Will Travel. Part 1.

Dublin 2019 chair James Bacon and scarf.

By James Bacon: Two cons one weekend.

I have undertaken to do two conventions in one weekend. It is quite the endeavour and I am excited and petrified. Mike has kindly agreed to publish some words as we proceed.  I have arrived in Chicago via Boston, travelling over from London.

CAPRICON. The Westin North Shore in Wheeling, IL, home of Capricon, offers me a warm embrace, greeting me like a friend; distant enough that I don’t see them that often, but familiar enough that when we meet, it’s just the same as ever. A comfortable and familiar space, its large lobby is full of fans while the long high-ceilinged bright glass corridor, stretching the length of the front of the hotel, is abuzz with people setting up tables and going in and out of the many function rooms.

It’s a similar feeling I get when I walk into the Camden Court Hotel in Dublin, home of Octocon, or the Westin Boston Waterfront, home of Arisia and Boskone ,or the imperial College Student Bar in London, for Picocon. Relaxed, amongst friends, some yet to be made. Excitement, anticipation, and indeed expectancy of a good science fictional weekend to come.

Dealers Room

Doctor Who books

I feel I don’t deserve to that warmth. Why should I benefit, while so many here work so hard and have worked so hard? Con chair Terrence Miltner has been everpresent in my Facebook feed and at tables promoting the con. But then, isn’t that why he, and the con committee, and the volunteers, have worked so hard? They want to welcome people. Terrence greets me in the lobby in person.

I could never have imagined, in the late years of the 20th century, that I would be an irregular visitor Chicago for a February convention. And here I am for Capricorn 38.

I am looking forward to this con. I have packed books to be signed, booze to be imbibed and odd looking biscuits to be tasted. Books, Booze and Biscuits.

Capricon is an amazing convention. It fuses what I would consider to be a fun con with an excellently thought-out, engaging programme unafraid to discuss any subject, with an incredible guest line up and potentially the best party scene I have come across.

Today I have a lighter schedule: only four commitments, three of which are Dublin 2019 related. Meetings flood on my schedule, and I do want to get to the Blade Runner 2049 discussion and  Artist Guest of Honor Sarah Wilkinson’s live art session. In true con style, I get roped into helping, first with setup and then with some party prep, and I manage to miss both of them–although my first Dublin meeting goes exceptionally well, so one has to be grateful.

I visit the dealers room. It’s packed with the variety of dealers that one would hope for at a con. I take some time at Greg and Dave R’s book tables, checking out what are in my mind great bargains for classic works. The dealers room is full: new authors, clothing, games, vintage paperbacks, amazing T-Shirts from Off World.

I meet Author Guest of Honor Timothy Zahn at his table. He has a wide selection of books for sale, and it is lovely to chat to him and his wife Anna. Both are exceptionally welcoming and pleasant.

Timothy Zahn

Sarah Wilkinson, like Zahn, has already been on programme by the time I see her outstanding table with her partner Nigel Sade, and their fellow artist Sin. Sarah has done a picture of Princess Leia as part of her live art programming. It is beyond beautiful, and so cleanly done.  I am stunned.

Artist GoH Sarah Wilkinson

I help Tammy Coxen, the Head of Programming, set up her party, and make my way to Opening Ceremonies. It’s great fun. Terrence shares the stage with a pair of goats, who in true Star Trek fashion swing from side to side and keep the packed house laughing. Then the Guests of Honor are introduced, and we all head out to enjoy the evening.

Terence Miltner

Next: the parties.

[Extra credit to Will Frank, who stepped in as copy editor, and to Pablo MA Vazquez as “special drinks holder.”]

Pixel Scroll 2/14/18 Do Not Scroll, Bend, Fold, or Pixelate

(1) DIANE DUANE’S GOOD NEWS. An appeal signal-boosted here yielded enough book sales to save the Duane/Morwood home. As she wrote in a comment

Hi folks! Diane Duane here.

I noted this morning that visitors have been arriving at the Ebooks Direct store from here. I just wanted to let everyone know that the astonishing generosity of customers and donors has meant that our problem has been completely solved in A SINGLE DAY. To say that Peter and I are gobsmacked — not to mention amazed and overwhelmed and unutterably relieved by the sudden removal of a difficulty that’s been hanging albatross-like around our creative lives for what seems like forever — would be putting if mildly. If you were involved in assisting with this… THANK YOU! (And meanwhile we’re leaving the sale running, because what the heck, everybody likes a sale…) Best! D.

(2) A DIFFERENT TONGUE. CNET’s Bonnie Burton advises: “This Valentine’s Day, woo your crush like a Wookiee or Klingon”.

Who needs boring English? Once you discover how to flirt in sci-fi speak, you’ll be making out to the Star Wars or Star Trek theme song in no time. Well, that’s the idea….

My love of speaking sci-fi goes way back. As a kid, I thought I could talk droid like R2-D2 and began to randomly beep at my classmates in elementary school — until a confused teacher pulled me aside to ask if I was OK. Later, when I worked as a senior editor for the Lucasfilm site StarWars.com, part of my job was to become familiar with phrases spoken by characters like Chewbacca, Jabba the Hutt, Greedo, Wicket the Ewok and Jawas.

While I did end up marrying R2-D2, it’s not as easy to master a sci-fi language as it looks. It took awhile just to decipher the difference between the high-pitched sounds of Jawas and Ewoks and the deeper, guttural utterances of Jabba the Hutt and Chewbacca. But with patience, and the help of repeat Star Wars film viewings and books like the “Star Wars Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide,” I got there.

(3) HAVE SCARF, WILL TRAVEL. James Bacon is visiting this side of the pond. He snapped a selfie on the plane:

I’m on my way to Boston.

Tomorrow I fly to Chicago for Capricon

Then early on Sunday back to Boskone.

(4) DOWN THESE MEAN TWEETS. Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston released an internal DC Comics memo in his post “‘Mean Spirited’ Tweets Against Company Policy – DC Comics’ Social Media and Press Guidelines to Comic Creators”.

…While I understand that this kind of thing has been an increasing concern in recent years, I understand that this is happening right now as a result of the actions and internal company employee reactions and concerns reported by Bleeding Cool over artist Ethan Van Sciver‘s social media activity. Concern has been expressed from the top, from President Diane Nelson, down to fellow freelance creators….

DC’s memo begins:

Dear DC Talent Community –

The comic book industry is a very special creative community dedicated to telling epic and legendary stories of action, heroism and intrigue with a rich and diverse portfolio of characters. Both DC’s employees, as well as its extended family of freelance talent, contribute to our success and are direct reflections of our company, characters and comics.

As such, DC expects that its employees and freelance talent community maintain a high level of professionalism as well as reasonable and respectful behavior when engaging in online activities. Comments that may be considered defamatory, libelous, discriminatory, harassing, hateful, or that incite violence are unacceptable and may result in civil or criminal action.

In addition, comments that may be considered insulting, cruel, rude, crass and mean spirited are against company policy and guidelines. We ask, and expect, that you will help to create an online environment that is inclusive, supportive and safe.

Below you will find the most current version of the company’s social media guidelines. If you have any questions, please contact DC Talent Relations department so that we can be of assistance.

The full text of the guidelines can be read at the Bleeding Cool link.

(5) TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS FOR TEENS: The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA),  announced its list of 2018 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, with 115 titles. The list is presented annually at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. The books, recommended for those ages 12-18, meet the criteria of both good quality literature and appealing reading for teens. The cumulative list can be viewed at www.ala.org/yalsa/great-graphic-novels.

In addition to the full 2018 list, the committee chose the following titles as its top ten:

  • The Backstagers. By James Tynion IV. Illus. by Rian Sygh. 2017. BOOM! Studios. (9781608869930).
  • Black Hammer, Volume 1: Secret Origins. By Jeff Lemire. Illus. by Dean Ormston. 2017. Dark Horse. (9781616557867).
  • Brave. By Svetlana Chmakova. Illus. by the author. 2017. Yen Press. (9780316363189).
  • I Am Alfonso Jones. By Tony Medina. Illus. by Stacey Robison and John Jennings. 2017. Tu Books. (9781620142639).
  • Jonesy. By Sam Humprhies. Illus. by Caitlin Rose Boyle.
    • v.1. 2016. BOOM! Studios. (9781608868834).
    • v.2. BOOM! Studios. (9781608869992).
    • v.3. BOOM! Studios. (9781684150168).
  • Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation. By Damian Duffy and Octavia E. Butler. Illus. by John Jennings. 2017. Abrams ComicArts. (9781419709470).
  • Lighter than My Shadow. By Katie Green. Illus. by the author. 2017. Lion Forge. (9781941302415).
  • My Brother’s Husband. By Gengoroh Tagame. Illus. by Gengoroh Tagame. 2017. Pantheon Books. (9781101871515).
  • Pashmina. By Nidhi Chanani. Illus. by Nidhi Chanani. 2017. First Second. (9781626720879).
  • Spill Zone. By Scott Westerfeld. Illus. by Alex Puvilland. 2017. First Second. (9781596439368).

(6) THEY WANT A LITTLE LIST. Graphic novels are a theme of the day – The Daily Dot reports: “Comics creators want the New York Times to bring back the graphic novel bestseller list”.

The New York Times killed its graphic novel bestseller list last year, and comics creators want it back. Over the past few days, hundreds have signed an open letter asking for the list to be reinstated, claiming the Times is causing damage to their industry.

When the Times canceled the bestseller list in January 2017, the decision was met with immediate criticism. Comics and graphic novels are more culturally relevant than ever, but the industry still relies on mainstream media outlets like the Times to find new readers. And as Polygon pointed out, the paper continued to publish much more specific lists like “Children’s Young Adult Hardcover Chapter Books” and “Advice Miscellaneous.”

In the words of the open letter, creators and publishers have “watched their readership decline” since the list was removed.

(7) CONGRATULATIONS. Heather Rose Jones announced she has an Alpennia story in Deborah J. Ross’ newly-released anthology Lace and Blade 4.

The important contents, of course, is my new Alpennia story “Gifts Tell Truth”, but here’s the full table of contents:

Lace and Blade is an anthology series featuring stories with a particular look-and-feel — a flavor of romantic, elegant, swashbuckling sword and sorcery, across a wide array of eras and cultures. (Alpennia is a perfect setting for this sort of tale.) If you want an collection of stories that’s perfect for Valentine’s day (or any day of the year, for that matter), check it out!

(8) CYBILS AWARDS. SF Site News reports the 2017 Cybils Award winners of genre interest

The winners for the 2017 Cybils Literary Award for Elementary and Middle Grade Speculative Fiction have been announced. The awards recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. Categories with winners of genre interest are listed below.

  • Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels: Where’s Halmoni?, by Julie Kim
  • Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction: The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, by Stephanie Burgis
  • Young Adult Graphic Novels: Spill Zone, by Scott Westerfeld
  • Young Adult Speculative Fiction: Scythe, by Neal Shusterman

(9) VICTOR MILAN. George R.R. Martin posted a tribute to his late friend and colleague – Another Ace Falls.

Our writing community here in New Mexico, and the world of SF and fantasy in general, took a blow this afternoon when our friend Victor Milan died after two months of suffering and struggle in a series of Albuquerque hospitals.

I first met Vic not long after I moved to Santa Fe in 1979. Outgoing, funny, friendly, and incredibly bright, he was one of the cornerstones of the New Mexico SF crowd for decades, a regular at Bubonicon in Albuquerque, the perennial masquerade host at Archon in St. Louis, a fan, a lover of ferrets and collector of guns, a gamer (I can’t tell you how many times we stayed up till dawn playing Superworld, Call of Cthulhu, and other RPGs with Vic, and laughing at the outrageous antics of the characters he created). But above all, he was a writer.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 14, 1959Journey to the Center of the Earth premiered.
  • February 14, 1976The Bionic Woman aired its first episode on TV.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 14, 1919 – David A. Kyle

(12) FRANK HERBERT HONORED. The late author of Dune has been commemorated by the town where he spent his childhood: “Metro Parks Tacoma board honors author Frank Herbert and Judge Jack Tanner”.

Dune Peninsula

The process of naming a new public gathering space carved from the remnants of the former ASARCO smelting operation has sparked the parallel recognition of a pioneering African-American jurist, the late U.S. District Court Judge Jack Tanner.

On Monday, Feb. 12, the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners concluded a lengthy public process by naming the 11-acre waterfront site on the breakwater peninsula in honor of science fiction writer Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel “Dune” and its five sequels.

The board approved the name Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park for the highly anticipated space that’s still under construction around the Tacoma Yacht Club boat basin. In addition, a winding, paved pedestrian loop also being built on the site has been named Frank Herbert Trail. Both are tentatively scheduled to open to the public later this year.

… The chosen names for the breakwater peninsula area were recommended by a Metro Parks committee of staff members who reviewed more than 500 recommendations submitted by the public last summer. Of those, about 300 were related to Herbert or “Dune.” Tanner’s name also was highly rated among the publicly submitted recommendations.

(13) SHORT FICTION REVIEWS. Charles Payseur is back with “Quick Sips – GigaNotoSaurus February 2018”

Perhaps appropriate for the month, GigaNotoSaurus brings a rather romantic piece for its February release. Or, at least, a story very interested in love and trust, hope and freedom. It’s a story that features two very different characters finding a common language, a common purpose, and staying true to each other in order to do something they couldn’t do alone. It’s a touching and beautiful piece, for all that it’s dominated by the weight of captivity and the desire for release. But before I spoil everything, let’s get to the review!

(14) MEET ANOTHER SHARKE. Another new Shadow Clarke juror meets the publilc: “Introducing Foz Meadows”.

My Shattersnipe blog turns ten years old in May this year, which is a genuinely startling milestone to contemplate. The idea of my one day being invited to participate in something like the Shadow Clarke jury wouldn’t have occurred to me a decade ago. Though my first novel was years from being accepted and published when I started Shattersnipe, my aim was still to become a fantasy author, which is why I opted to blog under my own name. Even so, I had no sense that I might end up being paid or known for my essays there: it was just an extension of what I’d always done, a way to keep myself occupied. I’ve changed a lot since I started it, as has my writing; as, for that matter, have my opinions about writing. My taste in things has never been static, and while there’s something to be said for consistency, it’s my belief that critical practice, like any other discipline, should always be a sort of Theseus’s ship, willing and able to improve or change while still remaining coherent and functional.

At base, my approach to criticism is that total objectivity is impossible. Everyone has a bias, which is another way of saying that everyone has their own tastes, opinions, and context, and that rather than trying to feign objectivity by generalising those biases into an inherently limited concept of what is Normal or Traditional and therefore Good, the more honest, productive approach is to acknowledge them openly. In this way, I believe, our literary yardsticks become both more varied in terms of scope and more individually useful to the audience. Knowing that a critic dislikes steampunk, for example, gives their potential enthusiasm for a steampunk novel far more positive weight than if that dislike had hitherto been presented, not as an individual preference, but as a blanket, universalised declaration that steampunk is fundamentally Bad. In the latter case, such a critic’s praise of a book that their readership would reasonably have expected them to shun reads as a total alteration of judgement and worldview, like a political flip-flop, and is therefore made somewhat suspect. In the former case, it becomes a genuinely intriguing recommendation, that such a story was good enough to overcome their usual inclinations.

The new juror received an immediate endorsement from a Becky Chambers fan –

(15) IT’S THE RIGHT TIME. At SciFiNow, “Guillermo del Toro talks The Shape Of Water, Sally Hawkins and making an adult fairytale”.

Was the 1962 setting always a key element?

I knew I wanted to make it about now, not about then, but most of the time the fairytale needs “Once Upon A Time”. So, I thought, “What is the most cherished time in American history, recent American History?” I thought of 1962 because it’s when everybody is talking about the future, the space race is on and you have beautiful jet fin cars, suburban life, a TV in every house, Kennedy in the White House and Vietnam is starting to escalate, and then Kennedy’s shot, Vietnam escalates and everything kind of dies and scepticism is born. But when people say “Let’s make America great again” they’re thinking of ’62, I think. But this is if you were a WASP. If you were a minority the problems were horrible.

(16) CALL AND RESPONSE. Liz Bourke devoted her latest Sleeps With Monsters column to asking “Where Are the SFF Stories About Pregnancy and Child-rearing?” It begins:

The literature of the fantastic is a fruitful place in which to examine gendered questions of power. People have been using it to talk about women’s place in society (and the place of gender in society) pretty much for as long as science fiction has been a recognisable genre. Joanna Russ and Ursula Le Guin are only two of the most instantly recognisable names whose work directly engaged these themes. But for all that, science fiction and fantasy—especially the pulpishly fun kind—is strangely reluctant to acknowledge a challenge to participation in demanding public life (or a physically ass-kicking one) faced primarily (though not only) by women.

Pretty sure you’ve already guessed what it is. But just to be sure—

Pregnancy. And the frequent result, parenting small children.

Judith Tarr felt the title was not a rhetorical question and answered it this way —

(17) HARASSMENT SURVEY. Here are the responses to Anne Ursu’s survey about “Sexual Harassment in the Children’s Book Industry”.

We work in children’s books, and we like to think we are different, somehow. We value “kindness.” The ranks of publishers are populated with women. And everyone is so nice, right?

But we aren’t different, and before we can do anything about sexual harassment, we need to face that reality. And the reality is that a culture of “kindness” can silence people who have been harassed, that women can be complicit in a culture of sexual harassment and gender discrimination, and that the people who we work alongside, whose books we care about, who we like, can be sexual harassers.

Facing this reality is going to be ugly. But it is far uglier to pretend these problems aren’t here.

In December, I opened a survey about sexual harassment in children’s publishing, inspired by Kelly Jensen’s work on sexual harassment in libraries. I received almost 90 responses, as well as emails and DMs from people who didn’t want to fill out the survey because they felt too ashamed, or were still frightened of reprisal.

This is not intended to be some kind of lurid exposé of children’s publishing. The point of it isn’t to say that our industry is somehow special; the point is simply that we do have problems, that these problems affect people’s careers and mental health, and that we can and should take steps to solve these problems so more people do not get hurt.

(18) SHE BELONGS IN PICTURES. The Thirteenth Doctor heralds a new era for Titan Comics’ Doctor Who.

BBC Worldwide Americas and Titan Comics are excited to announce that, alongside premiering in the Doctor Who season, the Thirteenth Doctor will be debuting in comics this fall!

This brand-new ongoing comic series, written by Eisner-nominated writer Jody Houser (Orphan Black, Star Wars: Rogue One, Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, Faith, Supergirl, Mother Panic) with art by fan-favorite artist Rachael Stott (The Twelfth Doctor, Motherlands) joined by colorist Enrica Angolini (Warhammer 40,000), features the Thirteenth Doctor, as played by Jodie Whittaker. The new Doctor made her first appearance on 2017’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, “Twice Upon A Time,” regenerating from Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor.

(19) A ROLL CALL OF STINKERS. 24/7 Wall St. believes these are the “30 Worst Superhero Movies”. For instance —

  1. “The Phantom” (1996) > Director: Simon Wincer > Starring: Billy Zane, Kristy Swanson, Treat Williams > Domestic box office: $17.30 million > Superpower: Extreme athleticism

(20) SFF FILM FOR VALENTINE’S DAY. “Orbit Ever After” by Jamie Magnus Stone (2013) featuring Love, Actually’s Thomas Brodie-Sangster as a smitten suitor in space.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, DMS, Mark Hepworth, Carl Slaughter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day jayn.]

Bryan Talbot Exhibit at Orbital Comics in London

By James Bacon: I took the opportunity to visit the Grandville Art Exhibition at Orbital Comics, near to Leicester Square Tube Station, with fans Ian Stockdale and Andrea Carney. As Andrea commented a ‘very cool place’ and indeed, the shop is worthy of its Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer accolade, which it won last year.

The shop itself holds considerable stock, new comics adorn the walls as one enters, collected editions are stacked, and as ever what sets a comic shop apart from its peers is the unusual Orbital Comics has an annex full of international and local works, small press from near and afar, while the back issues are substantial, and to ensure that every quarter of comics is represented, they have a delightful selection of second-hand stock. This combined with in house comic art and framed posters of previous events, gives one the feeling that this is a genuine place where comics are loved.

Another annex is where the exhibits are shown with regularity, and we were lucky to visit at the opening of the current show, Grandville Force Majeure, by Bryan Talbot.

Without doubt, one of the finest comics of the year is about to be released. The fifth story in the series by Bryan Talbot, is incredible. I first saw images shown by Bryan for Grandville at Eastercon in 2008, and I was immediately intrigued. Comic artist and writer Bryan Talbot had just come down from the huge wave of appreciation for his previous work, Alice in Sunderland, and yet here he was showing eager fans his next project.

An anthropomorphic steampunk story. I saw a badger in detective’s clothing toting huge revolvers and in an obvious altered metropolitan setting of Paris and was excited. The official word was ‘Two hundred years ago, Britain lost the Napoleonic War and fell under the thumb of French domination. Gaining independence after decades of civil disobedience and anarchist bombings, the Socialist Republic of Britain is now a small, unimportant backwater connected by a railway bridge, steam-powered dirigible, and mutual suspicion to France. When a British diplomat’s murder is made to look like suicide, ferocious Detective-Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard stalks a ruthless murder squad through the heart of a Belle Epoque Paris, the center of the greatest empire in a world of steam-driven hansom cabs, automatons, and flying machines. LeBrock’s relentless quest can lead only to death, truth . . . or war.’. When I saw that it was stated that on the cover that the story is ‘Scientific Romance Thriller’ I was impressed. It spoke to me.

Nine years later the fifth story in the Grandville Series by Bryan Talbot is about to be released and it is one of the finest comics of the year and is incredible. We are at a point where Bryan Talbot has clearly signalled that for us fans the series is now coming to an end. Each book is a beautiful edition and Grandville Force Majeure is a lovely finishing point for this fantastical intelligent alternative history series with anthropomorphic characters.

Bryan Talbot himself, as previously mentioned, is a regular at many science fiction events, a Guest of Honour at Loncon 3, he was an early member of the Tolkien Society who he provided illustrations to and did the very first cover for Dark Horizons, the fanzine of the British Weird Fantasy Society, which was a breakaway from the BSFA, and came to be The British Fantasy Society. I consider him to be a real supporter of many events, and a fine elegant speaker with vast knowledge of comics.

Grandville Force Majeure is longer than its predecessors and this adds depth and delightfully it has a spoiler-proof sealed section, to prevent eager readers unwittingly flicking through and destroying what is a wonderful story. One can assume there must be twists and turns, but to say more about the details, is to defy what Bryan Talbot has worked to do, and spoil what is a story that is captivating and compelling. It is a fabulous ending, drawing in a whole new aspect to LeBrock, our anthropomorphic Badger Detective of the Yard. I was very pleased with how this comic gives a lovely amount of back story to our protagonist and how that links to what is occurring and also presented us with a lot more detail and for me a wonderful pastiche nod in the form of LeBrock’s mentor, Hawksmoor.

Grandville has won the Prix SNCF award for best crime graphic novel and the books have been nominated twice as finalists for the Hugo Awards, and given how good this one is, I would not at all be surprised of it also receives a finalist Hugo nomination next year. This is a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging read, so I was particularly looking forward to seeing the original art on display. I had hoped that there’d be a decent amount of artwork of the latest Force Majeure on display, what I didn’t anticipate was a whole retrospective of all five graphic novels, which surpassed my expectations.

The four walls of the exhibition space in Orbital Comics were filled with some twenty-five pages of artwork, with some from all five comics in the series. This was good.

Straightaway, one is looking at the action page from page four of Grandville. The whole four-panel sequence captures so much movement and conveys the story so brilliantly.

It’s really really clean. The black and white artwork is spotless, and indeed I have to say I did not find the lack of colour in any way impacting my appreciation of the art. Movement and action are also portrayed on page ninety, where a fight is taking place, and then with page forty-nine, one sees how detailed and accurate the architecture of a back street can look, while the rain falling adds an energizing dimension to the art, the droplets and water are depicted perfectly.

Again architecture and Bryan’s amazing penmanship was on display, with page seven of Grandville Mon Amour. We see Roderick near Big Ben, and the street scene busy, with the city scene expertly and accurately drawn. A juxtaposition with page twenty, where the twelve-panel layout and close-up work is a joy. Seeing the work up close from the hairs on the cat to the detail of Paris in the distance or the ornate door and its crumbling surround next to a character, demonstrates how much effort and work Bryan puts in here, and how dynamic an artist he is.

There are three pages from Grandvile Noel and page one captures such a serious scene. The uniforms, the setting the farmland architecture in the distance, all so important to setting the scene. While obvious elements, clothing, flags and so on give an immediate sense of location, it is the grain silo and the windmill in the distance that real give it a sense of place, solidly and accurately portraying an element that could jar and extract the reader from the immersion of the story. This is very important, and something that is occasionally forgotten, although not by the reader, I always will recall an issue of Hellblazer with yellow cabs, US Postal Service post boxes and other American street furniture, when the setting was London, an unfortunate misunderstanding perhaps some twenty-five years ago. While current alternative history comics which portray military uniforms and equipment inaccurately, or even in a distorted fashion undermines and in some cases rends the story apart or useless, such is the importance of cohesiveness between the sequential art and the script.

Bryan Talbot being a master of everything with these comics provides an impeccable standard that one gets to enjoy, and is without doubt able to capture items of pure imagination and conjecture with a sense of realness that is perfect, and believable in this fantastical world. His attention to detail continually shows through, and this works very well in invented elements that are pure science fiction, although I hope some ideas have had an interesting conceptual influence.

There are two pages from Grandville Bete Noir and page ninety-three is such an amazingly lovely view, and a fantastic one to see up close.

The final wall has seven pieces from Grandville Force Majeure. There’s a refinement to the art that I normally don’t expect in its raw form. Minimal pencil work is in view, does Bryan just get it the first time, every time. There is some light blue and light pencil in view, but this is to do with the positioning, lining up and framing of the panels. With that, one can see the thought and accuracy of vision that is being given to the readers.

This is something with Bryan Talbot’s work that appeals so much, intrigues and excites. There is often much more to it all than at first one realises. In fairness to Force Majuere, once I realised that there would be other anthropomorphic characters, as in those from other works in the story, just as cameos, I had a great time working out which references, names and of course likenesses were which, and then pondering if I had speculated incorrectly. I smiled widely when I saw Blacksad. This is just one example of his attention to detail, his appreciation for the art, and of course, something I spotted, I am certain there are many secrets in these pages, notions and ideas that exist but that are not immediately clear, or indeed, need and welcome explanation or enlightenment and I love that.

The exhibit space with benches, and a huge banner of the cover of Force Majeure is just right, and I spent considerable time looking, and re-looking at the art, while next door the gentle bustle of comic browsing took place, but separate momentarily as one considered the beauty of this art.

So as I was in Orbital Comics, I got chatting to Karl who manages the shop and took some quick notes. Karl  seemed to share many of my own feelings on Grandville, and I was interested and asked what he liked and he responded, ‘the clear lines, a definite development in Bryan’s style, the fun of the anthropomorphic characters and the humorous and emotional beats thus offered to the tales.’.

I wondered how it was for him working with Bryan and how it made him feel.  Karl had a good experience and said ‘Bryan is a consummate professional, and always a pleasure to work with! Plus I have been a fan since back in the day, probably his Luther Arkwright and Nemesis works first, although subsequently discovering the  Brainstorm Comix, and the adventures of Chester P. Hackenbush was an eye opener! To see that storytelling develop, through to Alice in Sunderland, and of course the beautiful books created with Mary up to now, the Grandville finale, is a pleasure, and to host this exhibition and launch, an honour.’

An honour, I thought, as a fan it is a pleasure to see this artwork here on display, I feel lucky that I can see this, and grateful that the art is here. There is an appreciation amongst comic people I think, of things that are good. Is that simplified, that the aesthetics of a shop, the experience we have at conventions, or the pleasure we gain from art displayed and comics read is incredibly subjective and personal, yet I find amongst fans and professionals, one can – generally- engage positively and share that appreciation. Karl is one of those people, but I am still impressed with this approach ‘ I do love comic art, we are very lucky to have the space to be able to share an incredible variety of styles, genres, workshops, group shows, and to simply proclaim ” comics are art ” without fuss. ‘

That is quite wonderful I thought, as I considered the artwork that I have viewed there, in Orbital Comics, and how much effort goes into such an endeavour, and wasn’t it not that long ago that they started here with Watchmen Artwork ‘We have been exhibiting for 8 years now, one of the first shows featured the original artwork for page 1 of Watchmen, the smiley face falling in the rain, which sold shortly afterwards for a pitiful $30K.’ said Karl. Crikey, I thought, eight years, that is some amount of work.

Some of the exhibits have been especially good, although I pressed Karl about what he had enjoyed, and he said ‘the Image Duplicator show in May 2012, comic artists responding to the then current Lichtenstein show at Tate Modern. That felt a little bit like ” sticking it to the art establishment “! and the ” In Orbit ” show this time last year, which was artwork by the Orbital staff, past and current – a formidable and wildly eclectic group!’

This exhibit runs now until December 5, and then coming up, immediately following Bryan’s Grandville show, Orbital Comics have a ‘”Kirby Consciousness” exhibit, a turn of phrase coined by Shaky Kane, which features a huge number of artists paying tribute to Jack Kirby in this, his centennial.’ said Karl who mentioned that they will be teasing it on their site although Karl was very keen to praise the variety of people who participate in the exhibits. The Kirby Consciousness exhibition runs from December 9 to January 14, with a special private view event after hours on Friday December 8.

As I walked away with Andrea and Ian, and on our path to meet Russell Smith, there was mutual agreement that this was a destination worth visiting and that seeing artwork in its original state in a fine yet unassuming gallery amongst comics was brilliant.

Journey Planet’s “Disney on Rails” Issue

“Yes, in one way or another I have always loved trains.” Walter E. Disney.

By James Bacon: Here at Journey Planet we are pleased to announce that we have released a whole issue entitled and about “Mapping Disney’s Railways”. In fairness, we have not gotten our cartographers kit out, but rather focused on Walt Disney’s love of trains.

Download it directly here [PDF file].

Starting with Walt Disney as a youth in Marceline, where his Uncle would drive trains and he himself was a “Train Butcher” through to his live steam model railway, The Carolwood Pacific Railroad, surrounding his home in Los Angeles, we have tried to capture in the fanzine many the many railway elements that intersected with Walt Disney.

From there, the fanzine looks at the trains that were built and bought for Disneyland, from the Steam Trains, to Monorails, to Viewliner Train of tomorrow. Looking at the engines that exist in a variety of Parks, and discussing historical questions, the zine has drawn on many sources, including Michael Broggies’ Walt Disney’s Railroad Story which captivated me.

This is the seminal work, indeed it is more than that, it was inspirational to me, and I started to try and figure out parts that the book touched on, or that I had read elsewhere, and match up the stories, and it was just so much fun.

This book is fabulous. Although I have read many, and went down many routes of fun research, and picked up articles and magazines, it was perfect to read as it was like marrying all the pieces of Disney together. It is a definitive history, not just because of the details, but because Broggie was there, he was on the footplate of the train with Walt, he was working the Carolwood Pacific Railway empty stock movements, he was shown the workings and allowed to drive Lilly Belle, he is a Disney Historian and offers brilliant insight. His ability then to translate all this information into a four-hundred page book is sublime. I bought the 2nd edition and the 4th is awaiting me in Boston, which I will visit for Smofcon.

The book, is available at The Carolwood Society Website.

Some sources proved very elusive, The Railroad Magazine from  October 1965, has an amazing article called “I Have Always Loved Trains” by Walt Disney and is a vital piece of testimony, which I wanted to find.

The Irish Railway Record Society Library had many Railroad Magazines from 1965 but not October, while The Boston Public Library’s issue was also missing from the shelves. Finding a copy via my local library was impossible and COPAC mostly failed me, and that is a system that searches the catalogues of some 90 major libraries across Ireland and the UK. Although it did have The Railroad Man’s Magazine listed. Fortunately a photocopy of the article emanated from the USA.

As well as the Railways at the Parks, which have fascinating technologies, there is the Carolwood Society’s “Walt’s Barn” at the LA Live Steamers in Griffith Park there is the Lilly Belle parlour car, which is exceptionally exclusive at Disneyland, and a Carolwood Pacific Room at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World.

Many fans and professionals contributed on the subject as part of the ‘instant fanzine’ section, from Michael Marshall Smith to Kerry Kyle.