Pixel Scroll 10/23 Gilligan’s File

(1) A sweet new image for science fiction loving dogs!

Cool Corgi Dresses Up As All 13 Doctors From ‘Doctor Who’ —

(2) What brand of cigarettes did Godzilla smoke? I never wondered before. See behind-the-scenes photos from the Japanese movie productions, including the fellow who wore the monster suit taking a smoke break. At Dangerous Minds.

Actor Haruo Nakajima (pictured above) spent nearly 25 years inside the rubber Godzilla suit that he gleefully trampled over mini-Tokyo in for various Godzilla or monster-themed films from the early 50s through the 1970s.

(3) James Lileks’ satire for National Review, “The Twitterverse Strikes Back against the Phantom Menace of Anti-Star Wars Racists!”, begins –

According to my Twitter feed, gullible people are complaining –

I should just stop right there and wrap it up, right? After breaking news like that, where could I possibly go?

…Anyway. If Luke comes out in the new film wearing the Leia slave bikini; if Chewie marries Groot; if Han makes a big speech about how the end of the Empire means they can rebuild the galaxy along the lines of, say, Denmark; if the main villain is named Ben-Ghazi — then you might complain that you’re being Force-fed some political drivel. Even then it wouldn’t matter.

(4) A pretty fancy bookmark. A map of Middle-Earth annotated by J.R.R. Tolkien for illustrator Pauline Baynes is being sold by Blackwell’s for 60,000 reports the Guardian.

A recently discovered map of Middle-earth annotated by JRR Tolkien reveals The Lord of the Rings author’s observation that Hobbiton is on the same latitude as Oxford, and implies that the Italian city of Ravenna could be the inspiration behind the fictional city of Minas Tirith.

The map was found loose in a copy of the acclaimed illustrator Pauline Baynes’ copy of The Lord of the Rings. Baynes had removed the map from another edition of the novel as she began work on her own colour Map of Middle-earth for Tolkien, which would go on to be published by Allen & Unwin in 1970. Tolkien himself had then copiously annotated it in green ink and pencil, with Baynes adding her own notes to the document while she worked.

Blackwell’s, which is currently exhibiting the map in Oxford and selling it for £60,000, called it “an important document, and perhaps the finest piece of Tolkien ephemera to emerge in the last 20 years at least”.

It shows what Blackwell’s called “the exacting nature” of Tolkien’s creative vision: he corrects place names, provides extra ones, and gives Baynes a host of suggestions about the map’s various flora and fauna. Hobbiton, he notes, “ is assumed to be approx at latitude of Oxford”; Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University.

David Doering argues, “I feel that such artifacts need to be in public, not private, hands. This is a critical piece of our cultural history and is of immense value. It should not allowed to disappear into private hands.”

(Fifth 4) John C. Wright explains how “My Elves are Different; Or, Erlkoenig and Appendix N”.

When calculating how to portray the elves in my current writing project (tentatively titled Moths and Cobwebs) I was thinking about Erlkoenig and Appendix N, and (of course!) about GK Chesterton. There is a connected train of thought here, but it meanders through some ox-bows and digressions, so I hope the patient reader enjoys the scenic route of thought.

First, Erlkoenig. I had noticed for some time that there was many a younger reader whose mental picture of the elves (those inhabitants of the Perilous Realm, the Otherworld, whose ways are not our ways) was formed entirely by JRR Tolkien and his imitators. They are basically prelapsarian men: like us in stature and passions, but nobler, older, and not suffering our post-Edenic divorce from the natural world. This is not alien to the older themes and material on which Tolkien drew, but there is alongside this an older and darker version.

(5) Nancy Fulda outlines “What To Expect When You Start An Internet Kerfuffle” for the SFWA Blog.

And so you write a blog post.

It is the most difficult and most magnificent thing you’ve ever written, pure words of truth sucked directly out of your soul. You feel triumphant. Liberated. (Terrified, too, but that doesn’t matter now.) You have said the Thing That Must Be Said, and you have done so with courage and clarity. You click a button, and send your words winging toward humanity.

And then, of course, the internet does what the internet does best.

It starts kerfluffling….

Day 2: Negative feedback.

Your post has reached people with opposing viewpoints. Many of them. Blog posts pop up across the internet, criticizing and often misrepresenting your stance. Angry comments multiply like weeds. Email conversations ensue. You become embroiled in a number of difficult and confrontational exchanges, often with people who seem incapable of understanding what you’re trying to say.

You may get hate mail. Depending on what you’ve said and who you’ve said it to, the content of those emails may be very, very ugly indeed. Your hands are trembling by the time you click the delete button.

By the end of the day, you’re afraid to check your email. Comments are still rolling in, and somehow, even the positive messages only make you more aware of the bad ones. You wonder whether this was all a mistake. At the same time, you can’t stop refreshing your screen. The rest of your life has ground to a screeching halt; deadlines missed, meals skipped, loved ones neglected. Even when you’re not online, your thoughts are spiraling around what’s happened there.

And people are still retweeting your post.

(6) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • October 23, 1942 – Michael Crichton

(7) Last weekend the Iron Hill brewery chain in Pennsylvania offered Harry Potter-themed fare reports Philly.com.

The pub will serve Dumbledore’s Dubbel, a sweet Belgian ale; and Voldermort’s Wrath, a West-Coast style IPA with an intense bitter hop flavor. In addition to the limited brews, a Harry Potter-themed menu will be served for those hungry wizards. Items include:

  • Aunt Petunia’s Mulligatawny Soup
  • Slytherin Smoky Pumpkin Salad
  • Ron’s Corned Beef Toasts
  • Hogwart’s Express Pumpkin Pastry
  • Dumbledore’s Cauldron Beef Stew
  • Butterbeer-Braised Pork Loin
  • Pan-Seared Chinese Fireball (salmon)
  • Mrs. Weasley’s English Toffee Crumble

For the non-beer drinker: Butterbeer and autumn-themed mixed drinks will be available.

(9) Details about J.K. Rowling’s new Harry Potter play are online. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will pick up 19 years after the seventh book, and it will focus on Harry and his youngest son, Albus. Here’s a brief about the plot play’s website:

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

(10) Here’s some artwork from the forthcoming production.

Here's a sneak peek at our brand new artwork for Harry Potter and the #CursedChild!

A post shared by HarryPotterAndTheCursedChild (@hpplayldn) on

(11) The pilot and second episode of Amazon’s original series The Man In The High Castle can be viewed for no-charge here through  11:59 PM PST on Sunday, October 25 in the U.S. and UK.

The season launch of all episodes will be November 20.

(12) Andrew Liptak recalls the history of science fiction in Playboy magazine at Kirkus Reviews.

(13) Alastair Reynolds covers his trip to Russia on Approaching Pavonis Mons.

My wife and I are big on art, and we’d long wanted to visit the Hermitage. I can safely say that it was everything we’d hoped it would be, times about ten, and although we went back for a second day, you could cheerfully spend a month in the place and not see enough.

(14) Zombie George R.R. Martin will soon be on the air:

For all you Z NATION fans out there, and those who aren’t (yet) too, my long-anticipated guest starring role as a rotting corpse is scheduled for the October 30 episode, “The Collector.”

(15) At Teleread Chris Meadows pays tribute to prolific Amazon reviewer Harriet Klausner, who was an important part of the growth of online book sales via Amazon.

Harriet Klausner, at one time one of the most recognizable names on Amazon, passed away on October 15, at the age of 63. Klausner was a speed-reader who was one of the most prolific customer reviewers on Amazon, with over 31,000 reviews to her credit at the time of her death. According to a 2006 Time profile of her, she read an average of 4 to 6 books per day. Although the details of her death were not disclosed, it must have happened fairly quickly—the last review on her Amazon.com reviewer page is dated October 12.

(16) Jonathan R. Eller speaks about Fahrenheit 451 at Wisconsin Lutheran College on October 26.

Eller at wisc luth coll

(17) The wisdom of the Fred!

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Robotech Master, Phil Nichols, Steven H Silver, David Doering, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day the indefatigable Will R.]

Always Call It, “Research”

Huge sales of the Chinese children’s novel The Adventurous Prince by Zhou Yiwen are anticipated when it’s released at the end of June because school children gave the 100,000 copies distributed in test marketing an enthusiastic reception. And why not? They love the Harry Potter series, and Chinese meda claim Zhou has plagiarized from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:  

“We are confident our book and its content are totally original. It has been thoroughly checked by our editors,” [the Chinese publisher’s spokesperson] said.

Chinese media alleged Tuesday that Zhou lifted 18 specific details from the Harry Potter series and that Rowling is preparing to file lawsuits. If found guilty, Zhou and his publishers could face a fine of around US$138 million, the reports claimed.

It’s ironic that at the same time the Chinese plagiarism story was making news it was revealed that Rowling has been accused of copying “substantial parts” of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire from deceased fellow British writer Adrian Jacobs.

Whoever it was, somewhere along the line somebody wrote a heckuva story.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Top 50 Novels of All Time Poll

Telegraph.co.uk has reported the results of Play.com’s poll to select The Greatest Novel of All Time. These things are always good for a laugh and a cry — many thanks to SF Awards Watch for posting the link.

With Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird at the top, Tolkien’s triology second and the first book in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series third, Play.com’s list appeals to my tastes far more strongly than most. But I was surprised to see some other bestselling authors make the list with novels that weren’t what I believed to be their most highly-respected works.

J.K. Rowling got on the board with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — not the Hugo-winning Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Stephen King is represented by It – not what I’d have guessed is his most popular book, and not my favorite (which is either The Stand or Salem’s Lot).

Popular lists tend to be dominated by the favorites of a determined minority of voters. For example, you can still visit Scifi.com’s poll of the 2003 Hugo nominees and see where Plokta outpolled Emerald City in the Best Fanzine category, 10,186 to 643. (Never mind that the eventual 2003 winner was Mimosa.)

There are lists of Greatest Novels all over the internet, but the pair posted by Random House’s Modern Library readily illustrate that every list seems to be the product of an agenda, especially in the internet age.

The Modern Library’s first list, composed by a board, follows canonical lines. James Joyce’s Ulysses and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man are numbers one and three. The rest of the list is dominated by the books English professors were assigning me as required reading when I was in college.

The Readers’ List,” on the other hand, is the result of a 1998 poll of the general public in which 217,520 votes were cast. Two novels by Ayn Rand head the list, two more of the top 10 are by L. Ron Hubbard, and elsewhere appear probably every novel written by Charles de Lint (certainly not a “Who?” but come on now…)

Popularly selected lists of “the greatest” are always a trainwreck. I’ve never forgotten the summer of 1975 when “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas was chosen the Greatest Song in the History of Rock’n’Roll by the listeners of CKLW – relegating to second place the more plausible candidate, “Hey, Jude” by The Beatles.