Pixel Scroll 3/3/2017 File Thee More Stately Pixels, O My Scroll…

(1) OKORAFOR. “A Conversation with Nnedi Okorafor” at Weird Fiction Review.

WFR: Binti’s hair, or her tentacle-like okuoko almost becomes a character in its own right. It’s striking that this kind of physical transformation is both by choice but also not by choice; it reflects the physical difference with which Binti already marks herself through her otjize. There are so many layers of cultural and biological meaning wrapped up in Binti’s hair alone. Can you talk a little about this part of the story?

NO: The theme of choice and the power of culture pops up in my stories often. Before Binti, the biggest example of this is in Who Fears Death when Onyesonwu must face the decision of whether or not to go through a ceremony that required cutting off her clitoris. To many readers, the fact that she even has to think about whether or not to do this is shocking. It’s not shocking to me at all, coming from the culture that I come from where the individual is often secondary to the community. I may have been born and raised in the United States, but there are significant parts of me that are VERY Igbo (Nigerian) and I am often in conflict with these parts. This is the plight of many Nigerian Americans. And this is the root of my deep understanding about and experience of African cultures.

The same goes for Binti. Binti is a Himba girl of the future and though many things about her ethnic group change, some things stay the same. Some of those things include a strict adherence to community and culture, and the practice of applying otjize. Culture is very deep, it can’t just be shed just as you can’t shed what is part of your DNA. But culture is also alive and can incorporate things, it blend, shifts…and there are always consequences to change.

(2) EVERY TRUE FAN. At More Words, Deeper Hole, James Davis Nicoll lists “Twenty Core SF Books Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”. Their Billy shelves, presumably.

(3) SOMETIMES THEY DO GET WOOLLY. The BBC shares “DNA clues to why woolly mammoth died out”.

Dr Rebekah Rogers of the University of California, Berkeley, who led the research, said the mammoths’ genomes “were falling apart right before they went extinct”.

This, she said, was the first case of “genomic meltdown” in a single species.

“You had this last refuge of mammoths after everything has gone extinct on the mainland,” she added.

“The mathematical theories that have been developed said that they should accumulate bad mutations because natural selection should become very inefficient.”

The researchers analysed genetic mutations found in the ancient DNA of a mammoth from 4,000 years ago. They used the DNA of a mammoth that lived about 45,000 years ago, when populations were much larger, as a comparison.

(4) KNIGHT CHECKS KING. Brooke Seipel on TheHill.com in “Actor Patrick Stewart Applying for U.S. Citizenship to Help Fight Trump” says that SirPatStew tweeted that he is applying to become an American so he can fight the Trump Administration. She also quotes from his appearance on The View.

(5) SEPARATING PAST FROM PRESENT. “The Past, Present And Future Of Sci Fi With N. K. Jemisin”, an interview with the author on WBEZ.

Johnsen: Recently, friends have asked me for recommendations of things to read or watch. They’re like, “I’ll check out anything, except sci fi.” And that drives me crazy. Because to me, that’s like saying, “Oh, I like anything except imagination.” Can you help me make the sell to the haters? Because that’s ridiculous.

Jemisin: It is ridiculous. It’s because science fiction is terrible at marketing, I think. Science fiction has, for years, allowed a fairly vocal subset of its readership to declare that the only true science fiction is stuff that was written 50 or 60 years ago, that the pulps of the ’40s is what the genre is all about. The plain fact of the matter is that it’s an art form like any other. It has evolved. It has grown. It has expanded in ways that I think it hasn’t done the best job of revealing to the mainstream.

So I would test anybody who says they don’t read science fiction or fantasy. I’d say, “OK, what was the last science fiction or fantasy that you read? Where is this coming from? Did you just watch an episode of old school Star Trek and call it a day, or are you doing this with some real information here?”

And then, there’s multiple places that I would direct them. I would take them to the Nebula list and have them look at a few years’ worth of Nebula nominees and novels. I would show them some current science fiction on television, quite a bit of which is getting critical acclaim. I’m very excited that Stranger Things season two is coming. I just watched the first season of Westworld. I had some questions and thoughts, but it’s an example of something that you can shoot to people to say, “Hey, we’ve moved on a little from Star Trek.”

(6) THIRTY BUT NOT #30#. Scott Edelman is amazed – “Hard to believe I’ve made it this far!” – to have reached Episode 30 in his series of podcasts Eating the Fantastic. This time Scott joins Richard Bowes to eat Italian in Greenwich Village.

The venue was suggested by this episode’s guest, who happens to be a long-time resident of Greenwich Village—science fiction and fantasy writer Richard Bowes, who’s a two-time winner of the World Fantasy Award, and who has also won the International Horror Guild Award as well as the Lambda Award. That photo of him below is not from Café Reggio, however, but rather from the nearby New York Frost Factory, where we went in search of something sweet after the recording.

We discussed his early career as a designer of board games for clients like National Lampoon, why “going to conventions sober is beyond me,” the political transformation of Li’l Abner creator Al Capp, why everyone during the old folk scene days loathed Bob Dylan, what attracts him about writing mosaic novels, and more.

(7) HUGHES OBIT. Hugh Zachary (1928-2016), who wrote as Zach Hughes, died September 5, 2016.The news is just now circulating in fandom, having been learned by William G. Contento.

He wrote over two dozen sf novels as Zach Hughes, and the America 2040 series as Evan Innes. He also wrote westerns, romance, and erotica. As he put it, “I’ve written in every field except bestseller.” If he never made the New York Times list, the books he wrote under a house name for “The White Indian” series of westerns did in fact sell millions of copies over the years.

Zachary gave a very entertaining interview to a UNCW oral historian in 1998 which is still online:

Hayes: So even during the radio/TV days, writing still was kind of a driving force?

Hugh Zachary: That’s what I wanted to be, yes. And I have 375 rejections before I ever sold one single thing; I was persistent if nothing else.

Hayes: Well, talk about some of those rejections. What was the, what were you writing early on then that you were trying to get in?

Hayes: That is hard.

Hugh Zachary: Some of those were poems and at that time there was a much bigger market for poetry if you could call it that. The first thing I ever sold was a poem to a magazine called, “Drift Word” and they sent me a check for $10 and they went out of business before it was published (laughs).

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 3, 1915 — The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the predecessor of NASA, was founded.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • March 3, 1920 – James Doohan

(10) TODAY’S DAY

I have it on good authority from Jack Lint that this is “I cannae change the laws of physics!” Day celebrated on March 3 in honor of James Doohan’s birthday

(11) THE FANBOY DEFENSE. “3D guns accused manufacturer was a ‘science fiction fanboy’, court hears”. The ABC in Australia has the story.

A man accused of manufacturing 3D printed guns is a fan of science fiction who let his hobby get “out of hand”, a Sydney court has heard.

Sicen Sun, 27, an account manager for an advertising agency, was arrested yesterday when detectives searched his Waverley unit in Sydney’s east, following a tip-off.

Officers found four imitation pistols, including 3D-manufactured semi-automatic Glock pistols and a 3D-manufactured Sig pistol, two air pistols, computer equipment and two 3D printers.

Sun was arrested and charged with various offences relating to the manufacture of firearms using a 3D printer.

At a bail hearing at Waverley Local Court this morning Sun’s solicitor, Jason Keane, said his client was a science fiction fan who got carried away with his hobby and wanted to imitate the weapons from police shows such as NCIS and video games like Call of Duty.

(12) RUMBLINGS. While hawking t-shirts, Vox Day indicated that this year’s Rabid Puppies action is about to begin.

And here’s a hint: if you like the awesome Rabid Puppies 2016 shirt, you should probably pick one up soon, as the Rabid Puppies 2017 logo is almost ready to make its debut.

(13) BRADBURY’S PIVOTAL YEAR. Now available for pre-order, The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury: A Critical Edition, Volume 3, 1944-1945 edited by Jonathan Eller.

The original versions of an American master’s best-known tales

Though it highlights just one year of writing, this third volume of The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury represents a crucial moment at the midpoint of his first full decade as a professional writer. The original versions of the 1940s stories recovered for The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury, presented in the order in which they were written and first sent off to find life in the magazine market, suggest that Bradbury’s masks didn’t always appeal to his editors. The Volume 3 stories were all written between March 1944 and March 1945, and the surviving letters of this period reveal the private conflict raging between Bradbury’s efforts to define a distinct style and creative vision at home in Los Angeles and the tyranny of genre requirements imposed by the distant pulp publishing world in New York.

Most of the twenty-two stories composed during this pivotal year in his development reflect the impact of these creative pressures. This period also produced important markers in his maturing creativity with “The Miracles of Jamie,” “Invisible Boy,” and “Ylla,” which were among the first wave of Bradbury tales to reach the mainstream markets.

The early versions of Bradbury’s stories recovered for Volume 3, some emerging from his surviving typescripts and several that restore lost text preserved only in the rare Canadian serial versions, provide an unprecedented snapshot of his writing and his inspirations. Underlying this year of creativity was the expanding world of readings in modern and contemporary literature that would prove to be a crucial factor in his development as a master storyteller.

(14) PILOT PROGRAM. A genius idea, but one that will only succeed once they have an AI to fly the drones — “Rise Of The Robot Bees: Tiny Drones Turned Into Artificial Pollinators”.

With the live-model tests deemed a success, Miyako turned his attention to drones. He settled on a bee-sized, four-propeller drone, commercially available for around $100 each. He and his colleagues found that the gel alone was not enough to hold the pollen, so they added horse hair to mimic the fuzzy exterior of bees and provide an electric charge to keep the grains attached. Using fluorescent microscopy, the team observed pollen glowing in test tubes – offering strong proof that fertilization was successful.

Although artificial pollination is already possible, it’s a tedious, time-consuming process. When done by hand, using a brush to apply the pollen, a person can pollinate five to 10 trees a day, depending on the size of the trees. Tackling thousands of trees takes major manpower and a hefty budget.

But even if cost were no object, an army of pollinating robot bees would face myriad obstacles.

“There are 1 million acres of almond trees in California,” says Marla Spivak, a MacArthur Fellow and entomologist at the University of Minnesota. “Every flower needs to be pollinated to set the nut. Two million colonies of bees are trucked in to pollinate the almonds, and each colony has between ten and twenty thousand foragers. How many robots would be needed?”

(15) SANITY CLAWS. Chris Klimek reviews Logan for NPR: “’Logan’ Is The Best At What it Does – And What It Does Is Gritty”.

Long live Logan, James Mangold’s sad, stirring requiem for the X-Men franchise’s most beloved character. The only problem with calling it the boldest and most affecting superhero flick in many years is that it’s barely a superhero movie at all.

It doesn’t talk like a superhero: too many F-bombs, including its very first word. And it doesn’t walk like a superhero: No computer-generated cities are razed in its finale, no unseen thousands sacrificed. Though with its gnarly R-rated medley of stabbings, slicings, skewerings, and impalings in what has been, Deadpool excepted, a PG-13 franchise, Logan sure feels bloodier than most of its ilk. And feels is the right verb: The deaths have weight. For once. To misquote the 40-year-old tagline of the very first big-budget comic book movie, you will believe a man can cry …

… at a movie about a 200-year-old rage monster with a silly haircut and retractable knives implanted in his knuckles.

Because Logan is unlike any capes-and-tights movie we’ve seen. It does for the creaky X series what Creed did for the Rocky cycle, restoring the integrity and emotion of the earliest installments while introducing talented new blood.

(16) PRESENTING THE BILLS. The new Duck Tales trailer.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Scott Edelman, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

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.]

Reasons to Remember Bradbury

Born today in 1924: Truman Capote

John King Tarpinian tells the story:

Truman Capote was a copyboy (along with Harper Lee who was also known for a book or two and a neighbor in New Orleans of Truman’s) at Mademoiselle magazine in 1946. His job was to take rejected story submissions and return them with the rejection letter. One batch included The Homecoming which Ray Bradbury had submitted for the October 1946 Halloween issue. Truman read the story and loved it so much he took it back to the editor and insisted it be used, which it was. This was the first story of Ray’s in a mainstream publication. Truman and Ray are now resting at the same cemetery.

 

Dr. Jonathan R. Eller

Dr. Jonathan R. Eller

“Miracles of Rare Device: Treasure of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies” reports on the exhibit of art and artifacts from IUPUI’s Bradbury Memorial Archive that ran from August 3 to August 28. Nearly one thousand people visited the exhibit in the university’s Campus Center Cultural Arts Gallery.

Bradbury’s desk, books, magazines, posters and photographs were displayed in the gallery, along with other mementoes the author collected during his lifetime.

Bradbury Center director, Dr. Jonathan R. Eller, narrates a video tour of the exhibit, “Treasures of IUPUI’s Center for Ray Bradbury Studies.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the stories.]

Pixel Scroll 7/22

An auction, eight stories and a tease in today’s Scroll.

(1) Attention collectors! Somebody’s flipping Ray Bradbury’s original caricature from the Brown Derby Restaurant today on eBay. Jack Lane’s portrait once hung on the wall at the famed Hollywood & Vine tourist trap with hundreds more of the artist’s sketches of Hollywood stars.

Ray Bradbury by Jack Lane. Once displayed at the Brown Derby.

Ray Bradbury by Jack Lane. Once displayed at the Brown Derby.

(2) The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will hold three special events next month celebrate Ray Bradbury’s 95th birthday, which is on August 22.

From Aug. 3 to 28, the center will present a free exhibit, “Miracles of Rare Device: Treasures of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies,” in the Cultural Arts Gallery on the first floor of the IUPUI Campus Center…. The exhibit will feature art, artifacts, books and rare magazines from Bradbury’s own collection, gifted to the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI in 2013 by the Bradbury Estate and by Donn Albright, Bradbury’s close friend and bibliographer.

Two related public events will coincide with the exhibition’s run.

On August 19, Jonathan R. Eller, Chancellor’s Professor of English and director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies will deliver the Second Annual Ray Bradbury Memorial Lecture in the Riley Meeting Room at Indianapolis Public Library’s Central Library.

The lecture, “Ray Bradbury’s October Country,” reveals the timeless creativity and somewhat controversial publishing history of one of Bradbury’s most popular story collections on the 60th anniversary of its original publication.

On August 27, the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies will host a reception followed by another Eller lecture, on the collection’s amazing journey from California to IUPUI and the importance of Bradbury’s legacy in the 21st century. Both the lecture and reception are free and open to the public.

(3) James Artimus Owen is offering for sale his illustrations for Diana Pavlac Glyer’s forthcoming book about the Inklings, Bandersnatch, and has posted the images on Facebook. [Note: Despite being set to “Public”, the material can only be viewed if you have a Facebook account.]

Each illustration is drawn on 11″ x 14″ Bristol board, and includes an appearance by the Bandersnatch somewhere in the picture. Prices are as listed, ranging from $450 to $750, although I am willing to entertain offers from people I like. First request, first choice. Message me to reserve your favorite and to arrange payment and shipping.

Sharkado 3

(4) Everybody knows Sharknado 3 airs today on SyFy. But it came as a surprise for me to read that George R.R. Martin plans to show the movie at his Jean Cocteau Theatre in August.

“Check it out,” writes Martin. “Next year’s Hugo favorite, for sure.”

William Reichard says in honor of that crack, the movie should be renamed, “Snarknado 3.”

(5) SF Signal’s latest Mind Meld proposes this interesting premise —

A recent Guardian article about Tokyo awarding Japanese Citzenship to Godzilla got me to wondering: If you could pick a genre fictional character, from any media, and offer them honorary citizenship and residence in your city, county, state, country, who would it be, and why?

Responses from — Kelly Robson, Jenny Goloboy, Galen Dara, Anne Leonard, Patrick Tomlinson, Julie Czerneda, Alyx Dellamonica, Django Wexler, Jesse Willis, Diana Pharoah Francis, Mikaela Lind, Rhonda Eudaly, Gillian Philip, Ardi Alspach, and Laura Anne Gilman.

(6) Interested in stories read aloud? Open Culture has found another seam of the motherlode, 88 hours of free audio fiction original aired on Wisconsin public radio.

Listen to enough episodes of Mind Webs, and you may get hooked on the voice and reading style of its host Michael Hanson, a fixture on Wisconsin public radio for something like forty years. Back in 2001, just after wrapping up his career in that sector, Hanson wrote in to the New York Times lamenting the state of public radio, especially its program directors turned into “sycophantic bean counters” and a “pronounced dumbing down of program content.” Mind Webs, which kept on going from the 70s through the 90s, came from a time before all that, and now its smart storytelling has come available for all of us to enjoy.

The playlist above will let you stream all of the stories — roughly 88 hours worth — from start to finish. Or you can access the audio at Archive.org here.

(7) Of course they knew those comic books were stolen! The Verge has the goods on the great Texas comic book heist.

Whoever was after the Sub-Mariners and All Star Comics at the Heritage Auction wasn’t a collector. Their bids were too erratic, they didn’t know the market, and chances were, they weren’t terribly smart. It was also clear that they had a lot of money on their hands — too much money, maybe — and they were eager to spend it. Through months of interviews and hundreds of pages of public documents, The Verge reconstructed what they were seeing: a multi-million-dollar embezzlement scheme that would ensnare a crooked lawyer, a multinational corporation, and some of the most sought-out comics in the world….

$40,000 split between nine checks. The investigator said he was going through a nasty divorce, and was worried his ex-wife might raise trouble over any checks for more than $10,000.

But what about that foxing? When the buyers took their comics home, they noticed something strange: the All Star #3 that had sold in February had the same imperfections. In fact, it was the same book. But that book was slabbed — it had a barcode and provenance, sold to a private buyer who wouldn’t have deslabbed it without a reason. Had they bought stolen property?

It was worse. They had bought stolen evidence. The book had come direct from Chiofalo’s storage unit, smuggled out under the nose of the Harris County DA — and according to prosecutors, Blevins and Deutsch worked together to smuggle them out. More than $150,000 in comics had disappeared from the storage unit, and Blevins had spent the summer selling them at comics conventions across the country. The books were deslabbed to throw investigators off the trail, but even without the barcode, the cover gave it away. Collectors search for flawless comics, but it’s the imperfections that give them an identity, and this imperfection placed Blevins at the scene of a crime.

(8) Did Tolkien visit the Bouzincourt caves while on Army service during the Battle of the Somme?

In 1916, a 24-year-old British soldier named J.R.R. Tolkien went off to fight in World War I. He was stationed near the village of Bouzincourt, took part in the nearby Battle of the Somme and writes about the area in his diaries.

Jeff Gusky, an explorer and photographer who maintains a site called “The Hidden World of World War I,” believes Tolkien may have visited Bouzincourt’s caves, places where hundreds of soldiers took refuge during the Somme — and that some of his impressions ended up in “The Lord of the Rings.”

“I feel that this is the place,” Gusky said. “It’s so raw and unchanged from a hundred years ago.”

Tolkien scholar John Garth isn’t so sure.

“On the Somme, he certainly spent time in deep trench dugouts, and he would have been aware of the subterranean world of the army tunnelers — all of which would, I believe, have given his descriptions of Moria and other Middle-earth underworlds some of their vitality,” Garth, the author of “Tolkien and the Great War,” wrote in an email….

Regardless of whether Tolkien knew of the caves, there’s no question that the author’s experience at the Somme influenced “The Lord of the Rings.”

“The Dead marshes and the approaches to the Morannon owe something to Northern France after the Battle of the Somme,” he wrote in a letter, according to a story on the Green Books portion of TheOneRing.net.

(9) “Stick a fork in the pup’s Tor boycott because their hushpuppy is done” says Jason Sanford.

Earlier this month I tracked the sales of a sample of ten book titles published by Tor Books. My desire was to see if the puppies’ boycott of Tor was having any effect on the publisher’s sales.

You can see the titles I tracked, and how I tracked the sales, in my original post or by looking at the endnote below.

But the flaw in my analysis was that I could only present two weeks of sales data since the boycott began on June 19. As a result, some people rightly said it was too early to tell if the boycott was failing or succeeding.

After examining two additional weeks of sales data it appears my initial analysis was correct. This new data shows that for the five weeks prior to the boycott starting on June 19, the weekly sales average for these Tor titles was 1652 books sold per week. For those same Tor titles, their weekly average sales for the last four weeks of the boycott has been 1679 books sold per week.

So on average, Tor’s sales for these titles are up slightly since the boycott started.

(10) Vox Day’s “Hugo Recommendations: Best Professional Artist” post is up. Don’t try and kid me, you know you want to read it.

[Thanks for these stories goes out to Dave Doering, Michael J. Walsh, William Reichard, Jim Meadows and John King Tarpinian as the Beaver.]

Bookends Made From Salvaged Bradbury House Lumber Will Be Offered

When Ray Bradbury’s home was torn down in January, apart from mourning the result, fans’ most common plea was to have some fragment of the house as a Bradbury keepsake.

The Los Angeles location of The ReUse People did the deconstruction. They have agreed to convert part of the salvaged lumber to bookends which will be made available for sale, all with the encouragement and blessing of Ray’s family and friends.

Some of the proceeds will go to the Bradbury Center to help fund the re-creation of Ray’s home office.

A recent newsletter from The ReUse People previews their plan. Orders are not yet being taken — the actual sale information will come later.

Coming Soon to a Bookcase Near You!

By Ted Reiff

You’ve heard of promotional teasers—those advance tidbits about upcoming movies, TV shows and hot new products. They’re intended to start a drumroll, whet appetites, build anticipation, and bring people to the edge of their seats.

Well, that’s what this month’s post is — a teaser. I’ll even tell you what it’s for — bookends.

Not exactly fireworks-worthy, I know, but these bookends are special. They not only prop up other people’s stories, they have a story of their very own. Here’s the short version:

In 1937, a three-bedroom, three-bath home was built in the Cheviot Hills area of Los Angeles. For 50 years this house was the home of legendary author Ray Bradbury and his family.

After Ray’s death in 2012 the house was sold to local architect, Thom Mayne, who, with wife Blythe, planned to build a home on the property. A lot of buyers (most, I’m sorry to say) would simply have torn down the old Bradbury house, but Mayne knew better. In 2014, his office asked TRP Regional Manager Arthur Renaud to submit a deconstruction bid. The contract was awarded to TRP, and the house was carefully taken apart by a TRP-certified deconstruction contractor in January, 2015.

In addition to the vintage doors, windows, cabinetry, hardwood flooring, plumbing and electrical fixtures, TRP salvaged 10.7 tons of lumber for reuse.

Upon receipt of the materials, Los Angeles Retail Manager Jeff Cockerell suggested that some of the 2×6 lumber be used to make bookends to sell to the public. I was initially reluctant to take on such a challenge, but became intrigued by the idea of helping to perpetuate the legacy of one of America’s best known authors. Thanks to Jeff‘s persuasiveness, I eventually agreed.

So now, instead of merely promoting the reuse of salvaged lumber (always our biggest seller), we’re reusing some of it ourselves, to create Ray Bradbury bookends.

Several key people have been involved in the planning process, including Ray’s close friend, John King Tarpinian, Marsha LuMetta, trustee of the Bradbury estate, Ray’s daughter Alexandra, and Professor Jonathan Eller, Director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University. A portion of the sale proceeds will be donated to the Bradbury Center to help fund the re-creation of Ray’s home office, a major milestone in the Center’s ongoing efforts to preserve his works and legacy.

A limited edition of the bookends is scheduled for production in the next few weeks. Each set will be branded with a series number and the icon “451 F” to commemorate Ray’s best-seller, Fahrenheit 451. Also included will be a certificate of authenticity and thank you letter from TRP. Sales and shipping are expected to begin on or before June 1, 2015.

TRP will shortly be sending a separate announcement to subscribers with information on pricing and availability. Advance orders will not be accepted. Remember—this is just the teaser.

 

Outside 5 RESIZE

Lumber salvaged from Bradbury house can be seen stacked at the back of the lot in this photo by John King Tarpinian.

 

Jonathan Eller Responds To Coverage of His Statements on Bradbury House Teardown

Jonathan R. Eller, Director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, has made a statement reconciling his comments in the media about the Bradbury house demolition:

I would like to clarify the reporting of recent days concerning the Bradbury Center’s support of Thom Mayne’s plans for Ray Bradbury’s Cheviot Hills home in Los Angeles. I was never in favor of demolishing the Bradbury home; until last week, I had no idea who the new owner was, or what he planned for the home. When I received pictures of the house being torn down, I found out who the new owner was and I learned all I could about his plans. I was impressed by his decision to preserve the fine details of woodwork for charity donation. I was impressed that he was planning to live in the new house, rather than build and sell it. I later learned that he would be building a low-profile, garden-and-wall home that would prominently honor Ray Bradbury’s legacy on that property. I subsequently supported Thom Mayne’s planning going forward, not because he demolished the Bradbury home, but because I knew he planned to honor Ray Bradbury’s memory in a significant and enduring way.

The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies exists on Indiana University’s IUPUI campus to extend the Bradbury legacy, to preserve his writings and books, and to provide extensive research sources and public outreach for scholars, students, and the general public. We are fortunate to have archives and artifacts here at IUPUI in Indianapolis that will allow us to re-create Ray Bradbury’s basement office as it existed for decades in his Cheviot Hills home. It takes the work of many people from all over the country to realize that dream. I’m in the business of building bridges that embrace hope and sadness, loss and recovery, and the celebration of the human imagination. Thom Mayne knows Ray Bradbury’s literary works, and I want the Bradbury Center to be able to help him celebrate and honor the Bradbury legacy in the future. I miss that Old Yellow House more than I care to say publicly, and I never wanted to see it disappear. But it will never be lost, as long as we work together to preserve its memory.

Thank you

Jonathan R. Eller, Chancellor’s Professor of English
Director, Center for Ray Bradbury Studies
Indiana University School of Liberal Arts
902 West New York Street, ES 0010
Indianapolis, IN 46202

http://iat.iupui.edu/bradburycenter
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Center-for-Ray-Bradbury-Studies/766546360037269

 

Bradbury Center “Supportive” of Bradbury Home Teardown

Jonathan Eller, Director of the Bradbury Center at IUPUI is not quite on the same page as fans who are upset that Ray Bradbury’s house has been demolished.

While Eller was commenting here yesterday

I share the feelings expressed by Donovan, Brian, and all the rest of you who are saddened by the loss of the Bradbury home and his enchanting basement office.

— KCRW reports he was writing this to architect Thom Mayne who owns the property:

I wanted to thank you for the care you are taking with some of the “bones” of the Bradbury home, which I understand will be reworked into wood projects in the future. I also want to let you know how pleased I am that you are planning a home for your family on this historic lot. I think Mr. Bradbury would be glad to know that an architect owns the property (he was a lay visionary in urban architecture who occasionally worked with Jon Jerde on projects in the 1970s). He also worked with young writers in much the same way that you have taken time in your distinguished career to teach and encourage young architects. It’s sad to see the Old Yellow House go, but there is also great promise in this new beginning.

I think you might like to know that we are re-creating Mr. Bradbury’s basement office here at the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies on Indiana University’s Indianapolis campus (IUPUI). Through a gracious gift of artifacts by the Bradbury family, we now have the papers, working library, office furniture, and many of the awards and mementos from the Cheviot Drive house. It’s a bit of a logistics and funding challenge, but we make a little progress every day.

In the station’s post “Ray Bradbury Center Supportive of Mayne’s Changes to Bradbury’s Former Home” Eller is further quoted as telling Design & Architecture (DnA) host Frances Anderton, “an abiding interest in the history of this property will carry on with the new owner.”

DnA says an interview with Jonathan Eller, as well as architect Thom Mayne and his wife and partner Blythe Mayne about what they plan to do with the site, will air soon.