(1) BOOK SMUGGLERS AT 10. Happy birthday to The Book Smugglers. They celebrated their tenth anniversary today:
Welcome to Smugglivus 2017: A Year In Review. Today, January 7, 2017, is our bloggoversary–and it’s a big one. Today we officially turn ten years old. To celebrate, we’re looking back at 2017 to document our year, as well as our top 10 moments since starting The Book Smugglers a decade ago.
A lot of interesting achievements and reminiscences in this post.
(2) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Myke Cole and Joseph Helmreich on Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, New York).
Myke Cole is the author of the military fantasy Shadow Ops series and its prequel trilogy, the Reawakening series, both from Ace/Roc. His Sacred Throne series is forthcoming from Tor.com in February. His first nonfiction (military history) book, will be out from Osprey in the fall. Myke appeared on CBS’ hit TV show Hunted, as part of a team of elite investigators tracking fugitives across the southeastern United States.
Joseph Helmreich has contributed writing to Newsweek, NY Daily News, and Tor.com, and is author of the recent sf thriller, The Return (St. Martin’s Press, March 2017) about a physicist who gets abducted by an alien ship on live TV. When not writing, Joe is a ventriloquist, illustrator, voice-over actor and member of alternative folk duo, Honeybrick. He lives in New York City and works in film distribution.
(3) SALAM AWARD. The 2018 jury for the Salam Award will be Elizabeth Hand , E. Lily Yu and Anil Menon. The award promotes imaginative fiction in Pakistan.
Last year’s winner was Firuza Pastakia for her story The Universe is a Conscientious Gardener.
(4) FANTASY MINIATURES. Dangerous Minds showcases some cute miniature models of Fauns, Jackalopes, Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen, and Unicorns. Here’s Exhibit A:
Warning: Cuteness overload ahead
Silvia Minucelli is an engineer and freelance artisan who creates itsy-bitsy, ickle figurines using polymer clay and a toothpick—can you imagine how painstaking and difficult that must be? Minucelli produces and sells her delightful models under the name Mijbil Creatures—named after the famous otter in Gavin Maxwell’s book Ring of Bright Water.
(5) PKD ON TV. The New York Times’ Jonathan Ringer tells how “With ‘Electric Dreams,’ Philip K. Dick Gets the TV Anthology Treatment”.
…The actors attracted to the series included Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” (also one of the show’s executive producers), Steve Buscemi, Maura Tierney and the avant-R&B singer Janelle Monáe. And “Electric Dreams” attracted writers and directors like Dee Rees (“Mudbound”), Peter Horton (“American Odyssey,” “Thirtysomething”) and Alan Taylor (“Game of Thrones”).
Dick’s daughter, Isa Dick Hackett, whose production company Electric Shepherd oversees adaptations of her father’s work, reached out in 2012 to Mr. Dinner, executive producer of FX’s “Justified,” and invited him to look at the short stories. “Michael really had the idea to do it as anthology,” said Mr. Moore, a friend of Mr. Dinner’s who was brought on soon after.
Mr. Dinner, who had a deal with Sony, also recruited Mr. Cranston, who, like the others, is a major Philip K. Dick fan. All four brought in people they’d worked with as well as reaching out to talent they admired. “I sent Janelle Monáe a letter and asked her if she’d want to be a part of it,” Ms. Hackett said. “I knew that she was a big fan of my dad’s.”
David Klaus sent these comments with the link:
There’s an irony in that Star Trek was sold as the first s.f. t.v. series unlike previous s.f. series which had all been anthology shows, to have continuing characters and standing sets, to reduce production costs.
It could also be said another of Robert Heinlein’s great gifts to science fiction was the typewriter he bought and gave to PKD so that he could earn his way out of being so broke he couldn’t pay a library overdue fine.
(6) BLATHER. The New York Times interviewed an expert about “How To Speak Gibberish”. And it wasn’t even a member of Congress.
… In 2014, Sara Maria Forsberg was a recent high-school graduate in Finland when she posted “What Languages Sound Like to Foreigners,” a video* of herself speaking gibberish versions of 15 languages and dialects. Incorporate actual phonology to make a realistic-sounding gibberish. “Expose yourself to lots of different languages,” says Forsberg, now 23, who grew up speaking Finnish, Swedish and English.
Assemble your raw linguistic materials. Shortly after her YouTube video went viral — it has since been watched more than 19 million times — Lucasfilm contacted Forsberg and asked her to make up a language for one of the alien fighter groups in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The actors were Indonesian, so Forsberg studied online videos in various Austronesian languages including Bahasa Indonesia and Sundanese, a language spoken in western Java. “Listen for repeated syllables,” she says. Write them down phonetically. Note the rhythm of the language. Look at the way a speaker’s lips and tongue give shape to his or her words. You don’t need to be a linguist to get an impression of real syntactic rules, which you can borrow. It helps to love listening to the singsong quality of people talking. For Forsberg, “it’s like music.”…
(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
A friend was watching Queen of Outer Space with Zsa Zsa Gabor and noticed the title stuff did not appear until 17 minutes into the flick.
He then recalled that George Lucas was fined by the Directors Guild for not having the opening credits. George paid the half million dollar fine and quit the Guild — see “How famous Star Wars title sequence survived imperial assaults” at The Conversation.
Star Wars creator George Lucas had to fight to maintain his vision of going straight into the story through the use of his rolling text sequence. He thought that opening credits were nothing to do with making a movie, seeing them as an example of the old-school posturing that he and his new Hollywood contemporaries had spurned. In this he could well have been inspired by George Mélies’ A Trip to the Moon (1902), which is regarded as the first sci-fi film and avoided using any credits because the visual narrative was so strong.
Lucas did end up having to put the studio and Lucasfilm idents at the start of the reel, but he put his own directing and producing credits at the end of the film. He argued that credits would destroy the impact of the opening, and put them at the end of the film instead.
Lucas did the same thing for Empire Strikes Back in 1980, which was directed not by himself but by Irving Kershner. This time the Directors Guild of America objected, even though Kershner didn’t mind. The guild wanted the movie withdrawn from theatres, the opening re-titled with Kershner’s directing credit at a cost of US$500,000 (£1.4m today), and that Lucas pay a $25,000 fine.
Lucas was incensed and took the guild to court. When it countersued, he decided to pay the fine to avoid entangling Kershner in the dispute. It was a pyrrhic victory for the guild, however. Lucas resigned from both the writers’ and directors’ guilds and all future Star Wars opening titles were untouched and consistent with the original.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
- January 7, 1929 — The Buck Rogers in the 25th Century A.D. comic strip debuted. (The character’s first appearance was in a story published by Amazing Stories in 1928.)
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- January 7, 1934 – Flash Gordon. This has been long regarded as his “birthdate” because that was the day Alex Raymond’s strip was first published.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Mike Kennedy and John King Tarpinian both recommended this mashup superhero/cat joke in Off the Mark.
- Pig gets woke in Pearls Before Swine.
(11) WOMBAT ON THE AIR. Information wants to be free —
LIZ: Well, I'm sure there's things where you know a horrible fact and people are just like "Wow…uh…"
ME: Oh, tons. Did you know when you're hanged, your teeth turn pink?
ME: I put that in a children's book!
LIZ: …Remember thirty seconds ago?
— The Wombat Resists (@UrsulaV) January 7, 2018
(12) REMEMBERING THE GREAT RAY BRADBURY. Steve Vertlieb hopes you will read his piece for AmericanMusicPreservation.com, “A Ray Bradbury Remembrance (Film Music Review 14th Anniversary Special)”.
Here is my affectionate tribute to cherished friend Ray Bradbury, whose loving presence occupied my world and my heart for nearly four decades. Ray was one of the most distinguished writers of the twentieth century and, with H.G. Wells, perhaps the most influential, legendary science fiction writer of the past one hundred years. More importantly, however, Ray was a gentle little boy whose love of imagination, fantasy, and stories of other worlds influenced hundreds of writers and millions of admirers all over the world. His monumental presence upon this planet warmed and inspired all who knew him, and I was honored to call him my friend for thirty-eight years. Here, once more, is my loving remembrance of the life and world of Ray Bradbury, “I SING BRADBURY ELECTRIC.”
Steve’s article begins —
He was a kindly, gentle soul who lived among us for a seeming eternity. But even eternity is finite. He was justifiably numbered among the most influential writers of the twentieth century. Among the limitless vistas of science fiction and fantasy he was, perhaps, second only in literary significance to H.G. Wells who briefly shared the last century with him. Ray Bradbury was, above all else, the poet laureate of speculative fiction.
(13) KARMA. The house directly to the left of what was Ray Bradbury’s is listed on Air BnB and other sites as a party rental You can even search for it by name, Cheviot Wonderland.
The large floor plan with gorgeous floor to ceiling windows overlooking the breathtaking pool area makes entertaining a breeze. With a state of the art chef’s kitchen and dining room that seats 10, tastefully dazzle your guests with a perfect setting for your dinner parties.
Los Angeles architect Thom Mayne razed Bradbury’s longtime Cheviot Hills home and built a place of his own design, which was finished in 2017.
(14) SIMULTANEITY PRINCIPLE. Andrew Porter points out there will be two conventions a few miles apart, same town, same weekend, July 27-29. Confluence is at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport Hotel. And Pulpfest is at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry. He says —
They’re about 8 miles apart, NW of downtown Pittsburgh. You’d think both conventions could do some sort of deal together. Maybe a shuttle between the two. I bet both sets of dealers would be happy with the exposure.
Also, judging from people’s Facebook posts, Confluence will be gaining some writers who have been trimmed from ReaderCon programming (another July convention).
(15) ANOTHER ADDICTIVE GAME. They say literally anybody can play: “China’s Most Popular Mobile Game Charges Into American Market”.
Chinese tech giant Tencent is trying to do something that’s never been done before: take the biggest online mobile game in China global.
Kings Of Glory, sometimes also translated as Honor Of Kings, boasts over 200 million monthly players worldwide. In China, it’s been reported that tens of millions play daily. The game is so popular that Tencent had to implement a daily time restriction for young players to “ensure children’s healthy development.”
(16) JUST IN TIME. The doctor will see you – right after he levels up. “Gaming addiction classified as disorder by WHO”.
Gaming addiction is to be listed as a mental health condition for the first time by the World Health Organisation.
Its 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) will include the condition “gaming disorder”.
The draft document describes it as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour so severe that it takes “precedence over other life interests”.
Some countries had already identified it as a major public health issue….
(17) MORE TRIVIA. Mad Genius Club has 10 times more people who want to read JDA’s blog than we have here. At least. Didn’t we know that already?
Fun Fact: Mad Genius Club got me about 10x the referral clicks to my blog as File 770 does when they link me. File 770 has no readers.
— Jon Del Arroz???? (@jondelarroz) January 8, 2018
(18) ROWLING SITES. The Washington Post’s Tom Shroder tells how to go about “Discovering the magic of Edinburgh” in a travel piece about his visit to the places where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in longhand, and a trip to Greyfriars Graveyard, whose tombs include Thomas Riddle (the real name of Lord Voldemort).
It was the first of what I came to think of as our Edinburgh Harry Potter moments — when the ordinary Muggle reality suddenly parted to reveal something magical. As it turned out, this wasn’t entirely fanciful thinking on my part. I only discovered later that J.K. Rowling herself said, in a 2008 speech accepting the Edinburgh Award, “Edinburgh is very much home for me and is the place where Harry evolved over seven books and many, many hours of writing in its cafes.”
The city’s remarkably consistent buildings of mottled brown stone blocks, the most spectacular of them with sharply peaked roofs and ostentatious turrets, are clear inspiration for the architecture of the Hogwarts School of Wizardry. The tombstones in the fabulously gloomy Greyfriars Kirkyard in the oldest part of the city bear the names of some key Potter characters — McGonagall, Moodie and, most notably, Thomas Riddle, the birth name of Harry’s nemesis, Lord Voldemort. Tourists flock to the cafes where the then-impoverished author wrote out her stories in longhand: the Elephant House, Nicholson’s (now called Spoon), the baroquely gorgeous Balmoral Hotel.
(19) ADDRESSER UNKNOWN. An anonymous piece at write.as summarizes Jon Del Arroz’ track record and concludes —
The most mind-boggling thing of all about Jon is, he insults and harasses people, then wonders why folks don’t want him around. If you call SFWA terrorists, insult women in science fiction related podcasts, insult people in the comic industry, call folks running fandom sites bigots, then openly admit you’re going to break a convention’s rules, why would you be surprised when people start banning you? You are your own worst enemy, Jon Del Arroz. I don’t believe you anymore.
(20) WHAT THOSE TINY HANDS ARE FOR. Thanks to ScienceFiction.com I discovered this artistic triumph — “Colorado Symphony Performs ‘Jurassic Park’ Theme Led By A T-Rex”.
Last March, Colorado Symphony conductor Christopher Dragon donned a T-rex costume to lead the ensemble in a performance of John Williams’ beloved ‘Jurassic Park’ theme song. The hilarious musical moment is getting its 15 minutes of fame after a video from the concert was posted to social media.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Steve Vertlieb, Chris Garcia, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mister Dalliard.]