Pixel Scroll 7/11/16 The Coal Equations

(1) OH, PUH-LEEZE. Hoping to prove his superiority to his critics, Simon Pegg resorts to the Quantum Defense as he justifies a gay Sulu, in “A Word About Canon”

The main thrust for those who aren’t keen on our LGBT Sulu, seems to come down to two things. Firstly, why Sulu? It’s a good point, I mean it could have been anybody: Kirk is a pansexual fun seeker; who knows why Bones got divorced? Nobody said Spock and Uhura were exclusive; Chekov is just permanently horny and let’s face it, there’s more to Scotty and Keenser than meets the eye. The fact is, we chose Sulu because of George, there was something sweet and poetic about it. Introducing a new gay character had its own set of problems, as I mentioned before, the sexuality of that character would have to be addressed immediately and pointedly and the new characters in Star Trek Beyond have enough on their plate, without stopping to give us the intimate details of their personal lives. We were concerned it might seem clumsy, tokenistic or worse, too little too late, raising and exasperated, “finally!” from those who’ve been waiting for representation for the last 50 years.

So why persist when George Takei wasn’t keen? The thinking behind embracing an existing character was that it felt as though it retroactively put right something that had long been wrong. By the time, we mentioned it to GT, the idea had taken shape, it felt good, interesting and worthy of thought and conversation. We were disappointed that George didn’t see it that way but, truth be told, Sulu Prime seemed to be missing a very important point. With galaxies of respect to the great man, this is not his Sulu. John Cho does not play a young George Takei, nor does he play the same character George Takei played in the original series. He is a different Sulu. This brings me to the second point of contention, Canon.

With the Kelvin timeline, we are not entirely beholden to existing canon, this is an alternate reality and, as such is full of new and alternate possibilities. “BUT WAIT!” I hear you brilliant and beautiful super Trekkies cry, “Canon tells us, Hikaru Sulu was born before the Kelvin incident, so how could his fundamental humanity be altered? Well, the explanation comes down to something very Star Treky; theoretical, quantum physics and the less than simple fact that time is not linear…..

Wouldn’t he have done better to skip that part and go right to his closing argument?

…I know in my heart, that Gene Roddenberry would be proud of us for keeping his ideals alive. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations, this was his dream, that is our dream, it should be everybody’s.Ultimately, if we love Star Trek, we are all on the same page, we all want Gene’s idea of a tolerant inclusive, diplomatic and loving Universe to become a reality.

(2) BIG BOOK LANDS TOMORROW. Jeff and Ann VanderMeer’s Big Book of Science Fiction will be released July 12, 750,000 words and 1,216 pages.

(3) THE PACE OF FEAR. At the Horror Writers Association blog, Mac Childs begins his series “And the Clock Strikes Midnight: Time and Timing in Terror, Part I” with this advice —

Whether it’s the beeping of an alarm clock marking a night over too soon, a school buzzer announcing the start of a test period, or the chime of a grandfather clock in an old house declaring the start of the witching hour, there are lots of ways that time can provoke dread. So, when writers look no further than flashbacks and verb tenses, they miss out on timely tension opportunities.

With a little attention towards the timing of the horrors in your story—pacing as well as narratively—you can save yourself time in revisions, time better spent dreaming up new nightmares to implant in the fertile minds of your young readers.

First, you’ve got to figure out the best times for your horrors to strike. For this, you need to keep two axes (plural of axis, not axe) in mind: the external, physical timeline of pages experienced by the reader between scares, and the in-story time passage experienced by the characters. While it’s great when these two lines meet and overlap (e.g. during a tense scene when the protagonist experiences time in slow motion, with a reader savoring the moment), too much intersection becomes narratively unsustainable easily, or for some audiences unfeasible, because of the need to maintain the suspension of disbelief.

(4) IT COULD BE VERSE. Bertie MacAvoy discusses ”Poetry and Song”.

I don’t think that, prior to the wide use of the printing press, there was any distinction between poetry and song. It was only when a person could buy an edition of someone’s poems, and read them – not knowing at all how the writer had meant them to sound aloud – that a branch of poetry that consisted of interesting mind pictures could exist.

And that explains my preference over the poetry of Yeats to that of Eliot….

(5) ERRATA. Lee Gold sent me a link to Jack Bennett’s poem “Ben Ali the Egyptian” which appeared in 1893 in St. Nicholas Magazine, having just learned the authorship was misattributed to Randall Garrett in the collection Takeoff Too, which was assembled when his medical condition did not allow him to be consulted. I see the Internet Science Fiction Database already captured that information. Though as long as I had the link I took a look at the poem and now I understand its fannish appeal.

(6) DEFINING ACTIVISM. John Scalzi answers another writer’s question in “Activism, and Whether I Do It”.

My answer to her was no, I don’t really consider myself an activist. The reason I gave her was pretty straightforward: I’m too lazy. Which is to say that while I have my beliefs and principles and largely follow them (sometimes imperfectly), and will happily tell others what those beliefs and principles are, the sort of committed action that to me defines activism — and the continued proselytization for a belief that activism often requires, including the desire to inspire others to take moral action — is not something I usually undertake.

There are other reasons for this besides laziness, including work and the desire to have other interests in my life, but laziness really is a large part of it. Activism is work. I’m glad other people do it, and admire their effort. But it’s not something I put much effort in.

But you write here all the time on political and social topics! Yes I do. But this is not a blog for activism, it’s a blog for whatever I feel like writing — or, when I’m writing a book as I am now, what I have time for writing. The blog is like me; all over the place and a bit pixelated….

Good Lord, it’s contagious!

(7) GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA PEOPLES. National Geographic reports on the unique discovery of a Philistine cemetery at the site of ancient Ashkelon in Israel.

An unrivaled discovery on the southern coast of Israel may enable archaeologists to finally unravel the origins of one of the most notorious and enigmatic peoples of the Hebrew Bible: the Philistines.

The discovery of a large cemetery outside the walls of ancient Ashkelon, a major city of the Philistines between the 12th and 7th centuries B.C., is the first of its kind in the history of archaeological investigation in the region. (Read more about ancient Ashkelon.)

While more than a century of scholarship has identified the five major cities of the Philistines and artifacts distinctive to their culture, only a handful of burials have been tentatively identified.

Simply put, archaeologists have found plenty of pots, but very few people.

(8) LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR POLISH WRITER. Piotrek celebrates “Andrzej Sapkowski with World Fantasy Award” at Re-enchantment of the World.

Andrzej Sapkowski is a big guy in Polish fantasy. The big one. Was big long before The Witcher games. Well, some young people might disagree. There are some more popular authors now. But he is… GRRM of our fantasy? Terrible movie/tv series adaptation of Witcher being as good Game of Thrones as our tv is capable of delivering … At a first glance a bit of Tolkien in him as well, adapting folklore for his stories. But if you read it – definitely a post-tolkienite.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • July 11, 1913 – Cordwainer Smith

(10) OH YES JOHN RINGO. Ringo told his Facebook followers —

It got announced at closing ceremonies that I’m to be the LibertyCon guest of Honor for LibertyCon 30. (I was in a meeting at the time so couldn’t make it to closing) They are calling it XXX. I hope there is no connection implied.

Here is the link to LibertyCon.

(11) 2016 LIBERTYCON REPORT. Jeb Kinnison has a gallery of photos to go with his account of attending his first LibertyCon.

…One obvious difference at LibertyCon — it’s a Red Tribe con, meaning most attendees are in the liberty-loving, military-respecting, rural-BBQ-and gun-loving population typical of the US away from the coastal urban enclaves. Since I grew up with those people and understand them well, I’m not frightened by guns, blades, military uniforms, seared meat, or the occasional less-than-sensitive remark….

(12) EATING THE FANTASTIC, DONUT EDITION. Scott Edelman found it was easy to get more than a dozen authors at Readercon to participate in his podcast, with an assist from Dunkin’ Donuts.

I planted myself in the lobby (as captured in the photo below by Ellen Kushner), where I offered free donuts to the first 12 random passersby willing to give brief interviews about their favorite Readercon memories.

I had no idea who might wander over, but knew that something entertaining would surely come out of this sugary experiment. And it did! I ended up with 15 guests digging into those 12 donuts—the differential being because there were three who eschewed—in a “lightning round” 13th episode I’ve decided to call the Readercon Donut Spectacular. Surprise visitors included Greer Gilman, Maria Dahvana Headley, Rajan Khanna, plus a dozen more.

Guests—some of whom had attended nearly every Readercon, and some for whom this was their first—shared their peak Readercon moments, many of which revolved around Samuel R. Delany.

 

(13) BUSIEK PRAISED. At Black Gate, Nick Ozment pays tribute to Kurt Busiek’s Astro City. Also Joyce, Hemingway, Faulkner, and a tangent on Modernism”.

Kurt Busiek’s Astro City is one of my favorite superhero comics. It consistently delivers brilliant, funny, poignant, human stories in a colorful, wonderfully idiosyncratic comic-book world. It is Busiek’s magnum opus — like Bendis’s Powers, it towers above his other work for the big publishers using their branded characters. He brings the sensibilities he honed in the groundbreaking Marvel miniseries Marvels to his own universe and, beneath all the ZAP! BANG! POW!, weaves tales you will never forget.

What Marvels did that was so fresh in 1994 is it “lowered the camera” from the god-like supers knocking each other through buildings and focused in on the ordinary humans down here at street level, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, watching it happen. What impact did the existence of such powers have on their day-to-day lives?

(14) TOIL, TEARS, AND SWEAT NOT ON OFFER. “Finally, you can buy Richard Garriott’s blood” reports Ars Technica.

Richard Garriott selling vials of his blood for thousands of dollars is one of those stunts.

Yes, Lord British himself, the 55-year-old creator of the Ultima series and noted space tourist, is auctioning off samples of his actual blood to raise money for his new fantasy RPG, Shroud of the Avatar. The six reliquaries—which we’ll note again are full of Richard Garriott’s actual blood—are being marketed as limited-run art pieces, “made of bakelite, copper, nails, glass, and mirrored glass that can be hung on your wall.”

…Bidding for the vials starts at $5,000.

The items originally were offered on eBay, then were removed, speculates Ars Technica “ quite possibly because it’s a violation of eBay’s policy against selling human remains and body parts.”

The listings have been moved to Shroud of the Avatar‘s own Make a Difference store, where two reliquaries have already sold for $6,000 and $8,000 each, and another is still available for $11,000.

(15) ACCEPTING FOR. While researching the Geffen Award, I came across these humorous tweets from a 2015 accepter –

(16) MAGIC MAKEOVER. The Sun interviewed a family that’s redone its dining room Harry Potter-style. (I was charmed all to heck by the replica of Dobby, looking like a mummy that’s seen better days…)

Charlotte, 31, her husband Andrew, 39, and kids Eleni, three, Max, four and Kiri, six, are all massive fans of the magical movies.

After visiting Warner Bros. Studios: The Making of Harry Potter, the family decided to splash out on some renovations to their home.

It wasn’t a quick turnaround though – the family spent 18 months perfecting the room, which now boasts a sorting hat, props from the films, wooden panelling and a large table…..

“We have a lot of replica props and two original props from the films.

“We have one of the letters thrown through the fire place which we bought from a dealer, which cost us about £200.

“We also have a witch in a jar which was from Professor Lupin’s office in the third film. That cost £350.”

One of the most exciting items are the ‘moving pictures’ – which show the kids riding broomsticks and were cunningly created using an iPad.

In all, the Harry Potter dining room has cost the family a whopping £13,004.72.

(17) TOY DEPARTMENT. On sale soon, Game of Thrones stuffed direwolves:

With this year’s Comic-Con right around the corner, details are spilling out as to what goodies you’ll find down in San Diego this year. Factory Entertainment has just revealed some of their OMG products for this year’s line-up, and our favorite product is by far the collection of direvolves. ALL SIX OF THEM! FOR ALL SIX STARK CHILDREN!

The Stark direwolves come in three sets, priced depending on how many direwolves you’re getting for your dollar. The first set is $30, and includes Shaggydog, Summer, and Lady. Set two is $40 and now includes GHOST! The last set, and the best set, has all six dogs for a steal at $55. You’ll get Rickon’s Shaggydog, Bran’s Summer, Sansa’s Lady, and now also Arya’s Nymeria, Robb’s Grey Wind, and of course, Jon’s Ghost.

direwolves

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Scott Edelman, Cat Eldridge, and DMS for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.] 

Citations Provided

Isaac Asimov, Randall Garrett, and Harlan Ellison at the 1959 or 1960 Worldcon.

Isaac Asimov, Randall Garrett, and Harlan Ellison at the 1959 or 1960 Worldcon. Photo by Maggie Thompson.

In the 1970s I attended several conventions where Randall Garrett was on the program. I never personally interacted with him. Not even when I was co-chair of the 1978 Westercon, where we had to discourage Garrett from signing drinks to the convention’s master account. Somebody else got to bell that cat.

If I’d called him anything, it probably would have been “Sir” – he was an imposing figure. But I did hear a lot of other people refer to him as Randy in those days, which came to mind when I recently excerpted the Galactic Journey. I used “Randy Garrett” in the subhead, prompting this comment from Xtifr:

Note that Randall Garrett hated to be called “Randy”. Not that it really matters much at this point, but I still feel obliged to point it out.

I’d like to hear more about that. Because an awful lot of people who knew him did it.

Donald Westlake in an essay for Xero in 1960: “About a year ago, Henry Morrison asked Randy Garrett and me to speak at an ESFA meeting over in Jersey… And the last time I saw Randy Garrett (a week ago) he was working on a biography for decent money…”

Lin Carter in Beyond the Gates of Dream (1972): “Two blocks due west of where I lived was a mammoth residence hotel that the New York science fiction community called ‘Idiots’ Castle.’ Therein dwelt, at various times, Bob Silverberg, Randy Garrett, Harlan Ellison, Ron and Cindy Smith (then editing Inside, which had yet to win its fanzine Hugo) and other good people.”

Lawrence Block in Afterthoughts (2011): “He was a very interesting fellow, Randy Garrett…”

H. Beam Piper in a 1962 journal entry quoted in John Carr’s biography: “The next morning, ‘Met Fritz Leiber, Randy Garrett, Judy Merrill at breakfast and immediately became involved in a skit which was to be put on at the end of the convention.’”

Robert Silverberg, speaking at the 1968 Hugo Awards ceremony with Garrett in the audience: “I think it’s rather appropriate, in a way, that I am the one who’s filling in for Tony. For Tony, after all, is science fiction’s outstanding Catholic layman, and I, though I’m not Catholic, am recognized as the Pope by Randall Garrett. No, I’m quite, quite serious – no, Randy does recognize me as Pope. I’m probably the only Jewish boy who set out to become Pope, and ended up as President of the Science Fiction Writers of America. I recognize Randy, incidentally, as my Archbishop of Canterbury Designate.”

Mike Resnick in …Always a Fan, about Noreascon 4: “At 3:00 I moderated the panel that was the most fun of the con… hell, of the last half-dozen cons…. This included the stories of how John Campbell presided at his own funeral; how Ted Sturgeon and his wife, devout nudists, would invite couples over for dinner and greet them in the altogether; how Randy Garrett always stiffed worshipful new writers with huge dinner checks….”

Roger Ebert in a 1957 letter to a prozine: “I can’t understand how a fine writer like Randy Garrett can produce work like he does, then turn around and come up with that ‘Kyvor’ nonsense.”

Buck Coulson in Mimosa #11 (1993): “The con site was changed the next year, but I’ve been told that this was because Randy Garrett was surprised by the house detective in a compromising situation, there were blows exchanged, and the convention was invited to go somewhere else.”

Cory Seidman in her 1966 Worldcon report: “Yet a further refinement was the purchase of four pounds of black licorice jellybeans. One pound was left with Banquet Toast-master Isaac Asimov, in case Harlan got his Hugo. The remainder was divided into small packages and given to various people to be presented at intervals during the weekend. Even Boston’s own mild-mannered Hal Clement/Harry C. Stubbs is said to have sidled up to Ellison, muttering, ‘I believe these are yours.’ Now, the one kind of jellybeans that Harlan Ellison does not like happens to be black licorice. So if he had been bugged out of his mind before, now he was pretty well bugged out of the known universe. Which raised his innate aptitude for Randy Garrett-insulting to a new peak and provided much amusement for the assembled spectators.”

Philip Jose Farmer in an interview: “No, that’s the one I did with Randy Garrett, ‘The Ballad of Hillary Boon.’”

Maggie Thompson in 2010 remembering a panel at the 1959 or 1960 Worldcon: “In any case, I was sitting a couple of rows back at a panel in which the entertainment consisted simply of (left to right) Isaac Asimov, Randy Garrett, and Harlan exchanging banter until the panel was over.”

Harlan Ellison in the Introduction to Again, Dangerous Visions (1971): “Randy Garrett isn’t here because, though he called one frantic November night and tried to hype me into sending him an advance against a story he would write, he never submitted a manuscript.”

He even used the name himself at times — Progress Report #1 of the 1957 Worldcon shows “Randy Garrett” is the name he used when he bought his membership.

Pixel Scroll 12/21 Rudolph the Scroll Nosed Reindeer

(1) SHE WAS ON WHAT KIND OF TRIP? The Mirror knows we can’t resist looking: “Woman ‘photobombed by alien’ during selfie on passenger jet on business trip”.

A woman has posted a selfie taken on a plane in which she claims she was photobombed – by an alien.

Olesya Podkorytov from the city of Kurgan in south-central Russia’s Kurgan Oblast region said she took the picture during the flight on a whim but when she posted it on social media friends pointed out something strange a few seats behind.

(2) BEFORE THERE WERE FOREHEAD CLOTHS. Movie bracket maven Hampus Eckerman pointed to this LA Times story, “’Young Frankenstein’ has new life on 40th anniversary”.

Director Mel Brooks spent a lot of money on white handkerchiefs while making his 1974 tour de farce, “Young Frankenstein.”

“I gave everybody in the crew a white handkerchief,” said the 88-year-old comedy legend during a recent phone interview. “I said, ‘When you feel like laughing, put this in your mouth.’ Every once in a while, I’d turn around and see a sea of white handkerchiefs, and I said, ‘I got a hit.'”

“Young Frankenstein” was more than a hit. It is a comic masterpiece.

(3) ‘TWAS CHITTY. Joined by Conan O’Brian, Dick Van Dyke and his a capella group, The Vantastix, sing the title song from his 1968 movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Van Dyke recently turned 90 but he can still belt out a tune.

(4) THE TRANSOM IS SHUT. Tor.com will no longer consider unsolicited short fiction submissions effective January 7, 2016 reports Locus Online.

(5) C. S. LEWIS. Matthew David Surridge is doing a read-through of C.S. Lewis works at Black Gate. The first two parts are —

“Wandering the Worlds of C.S. Lewis, Part I: Boxen”

I have read some, though far from all, of Lewis’ non-fiction; I intend to talk about it only insofar as I see a bearing on his fiction. I’m interested in seeing what images, tones, ideas, and approaches unite a fairly disparate corpus of writing. I want to see how Lewis’ approach to storytelling developed over his life, and how motifs and themes recurred in his work. I hope that by doing this I’ll better understand his individual books. At any rate, I’ll begin here with a look at Lewis’ published juvenilia…

“Wandering the Worlds of C.S. Lewis, Part II: Spirits in Bondage”

Today, I want to go through Lewis’ first book, a collection of lyric poems called Spirits in Bondage, published in 1919 when Lewis was still an atheist.

Yesterday I quoted Lewis’ judgement in his 1955 autobiography Surprised by Joy that the Boxen tales are novelistic and not poetic. If that’s so, what did the older Lewis think about the poetry he wrote in his youth? Did he find wonder and romance in the verse of Spirits in Bondage and Dymer? Hard to judge. Lewis doesn’t mention either volume in Surprised by Joy. Which strikes me as a little odd.

(6) CAREER GUIDANCE. David Gerrold responded on Facebook to Dr. Mauser (thought not actually by name). Between his very funny lines about being a so-called internet blowhard and his thoroughly serious rebuttal comes good advice for writers about dealing with controversy.

1) Never never never never never get into feuds. Whatever credibility you might have, you are automatically lending it to anyone you feud with because you are implying they are of equal validity, when most of the time they are not. People who enjoy feuds are automatically downgrading their credibility.

2) If you must respond, focus solely on the issue. Do not get into any personal remarks of any kind. Discuss issues only, not personalities. (This is because everyone has issues, not everyone has a personality.)

3) Never vilify a whole class or group of people — this generalization assumes that everyone in that class or group thinks and acts alike, that they are a monolithic army of clones. They are not. (I have stumbled here, more than once, and have now learned this lesson very well.)

And finally,

4) Always demand evidence.

(7) COMICS HUGO. George R.R. Martin has “More Hugo Ruminations” at Not A Blog.

I really don’t think we needed to add a Graphic Story category to the Hugo Awards. Comics have their own awards, the Eisners, they don’t need the Hugo too. Besides, most SF fans do not follow comics closely enough to make informed judgements in this area.

That being said, however, I have to concede that the fans did pretty damned well nominating in this category last year. SAGA was the only one of the finalists that I had actually heard of before Sasquan announced last year’s ballot… but I dutifully read all the others before I voted, and for the most part, I was impressed (okay, not by the Puppy nominee, which was several notches below the other four)… especially by MS. MARVEL, a whole new take on the character (actually a whole new character with an old name), a charming new addition to the Marvel universe, and the eventual winner.

So… I still don’t love Graphic Novel as a Hugo category, but it exists, and those who follow the field more closely than me should nominate Good Stuff here again, and maybe I’ll have more comic books to discover and delight in when the final ballot comes out.

Meanwhile, I do have one truly outstanding graphic novel to suggest… I am not totally disconnected from the world of comics, y’see… and that’s a book called THE SCULPTOR, by Scott McCloud….

(8) TOWERING TRAILER. The movie High-Rise is based on a J.G. Ballard novel.

(9) Today In History

Doctor Who fans may not be surprised to discover that those forceful characters the Daleks appear to be the only one of the Doctor’s enemies to have been given their own celebratory day. Dalek Day is held on 21st December each year. This date was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the Daleks because they made their first TV appearance in Doctor Who on 21st December 1963. The official title of Dalek Day is the International Dalek Remembrance Day. There does not appear to be any regular organised celebrations each year to commemorate Dalek Day and it is unclear whether Dalek supporters meet or actually even dress up in Dalek costumes. Many of their fans appear to celebrate Dalek Day at home by having a Doctor Who marathon and watching again their favourite episodes with the Daleks battling against the Doctor.

  • December 21, 1937 — Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length animated feature film, opened in Los Angeles.
  • December 21, 1984Don’t Open ‘Till Christmas opens slightly before Christmas.

(10) NO ROOM IN THE FUTURE FOR RANDY GARRETT. The Traveler at Galactic Journey reviews the January 1961 Analog in a manner that makes a reader wonder if this blog theme is a good fit for somebody who hates a prolific author for the most popular prozine of its time. Not because The Traveler ought to like something he doesn’t, but who’s going to want to hear about it every month?

Thus, it is too early to tell whether or not Analog is ever going to pull itself out of its literary doldrums.  I had such high hopes after December’s issue; January’s has dashed them.

It doesn’t help that Randall Garrett is still one of Campbell’s favorite writers.  I’m not sure if Garrett’s stories are lousy because Campbell tells Garrett what he should write, or if they’re lousy because Garrett writes what he knows Campbell will take.  Or maybe Garrett and Campbell independently share awful taste.  In any event, the long long lead novella, The Highest Treason, is a one-star drek-fest if ever there was one.

(11) TIX FOR RADIO PERFORMANCE OF WYNDHAM. Tickets are available to attend a live recording of John Wyndham’s The Kraken Wakes by BBC4 with the BBC Philharmonic. The event will be Friday, January 8, 2016 at MediaCityUK in Salford. Ticket applications are open until December 27.

Join the BBC Philharmonic and BBC Radio 4 for radio drama, The Kraken Wakes. This modern retelling of John Wyndham’s 1953 apocalyptic novel, is adapted by crime writer and dramatist Val McDermid and stars Tamsin Greig, Paul Higgins and Richard Harrington.

This is a rare chance to see a radio drama recorded for Radio 4 with a live orchestral accompaniment from the BBC Philharmonic.

Composer Alan Edward Williams has created a brand new orchestral score that will ‘play the part’ of the great sea monster during the performance.

The Kraken Wakes will be recorded as a live performance in two parts. The drama will then be broadcast later in the year on BBC Radio 4.

(12) CLASSIC RADIO SF. Open Culture helps you “Hear 6 Classic Philip K. Dick Stories Adapted as Vintage Radio Plays”.

As you can probably tell if you’ve interacted with any of his hard-core fans, the science fiction of Philip K. Dick has a way of getting into readers’ heads. What better way to adapt it, then, than in the medium of radio drama, with its direct route into the head through the ears? Science fiction in general provided radio drama with a good deal of bread-and-butter subject matter since pretty much its inception, and suitably so: its producers didn’t have to bother designing distant worlds, alien races and elaborately futuristic technologies when, with the right sound design, the listeners would design it all themselves in their imaginations.

From the series Mind Webs, which ran on Wisconsin public radio, “The Preserving Machine,” “Impostor,” and “The Builder.” From X Minus One, “Colony” and “The Defenders.”From Sci-Fi Radio, “Sales Pitch.”

(13) FRANCHISE SF. The Documentary, on BBC’s World Service, has posted its 56-minute feature “Homer, Hagrid and the Incredible Hulk”.

Ben Hammersley meets creators and fans to investigate how extended fictional universes, from Star Wars and Harry Potter to Game of Thrones, took over global culture. He examines the huge financial success of the world’s biggest franchises, and argues that their stories – the identity of Luke Skywalker’s father, for example – have become common cultural touchstones around the world.

To understand how these expansive fictional universes are created and maintained, Ben visits professor Dumbledore’s office to talk to Stuart Craig, production designer on the Harry Potter films. He goes to Los Angeles to meet Lauren Faust, creator of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. And, he travels to San Diego Comic Con where he discusses a number of different universes with Marc Zicree, writer on numerous film and TV series, including Star Trek.

Ben also speaks to authors Robin Hobb and Warren Ellis, and to Axel Alonso and Ryan Penagos from Marvel. He hears from numerous fans, including Game of Thrones super-fans Linda Antonsson and Elio Garcia about the joys of fandom.

(14) NON-REALISTIC SF ART. Joachim Boaz’ “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Jack Gaughan’s Covers For Walker & Co. (1969-1970)” revisits covers of books I remember borrowing from the library when I was in high school.

Some famous novels are graced by his covers: James Blish’s A Case of Conscience (1958), Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris (1961), Silverberg’s Nightwings (1968), Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), and Norman Spinrad’s Bug Jack Barron (1969).

Stainless Steel Rat cover Gaughan

Titles in this art sequence without suitable images online: A Gift from Earth (1968), Re-Birth (1955), All Judgement Fled (1968), Trouble with Lichen (1960), The Midwich Cuckoos (1957).

(15) MAGIC NUMBER. Obviously I must mention something titled “Five for 2015: 5 TV Characters of the Year”, Jon Morgan’s post on Pornokitsch. Under discussion are Agent Carter, Phyrne Fisher, Jessica Jones, Kimmy Schmidt and Cat Grant.

(16) HE SLEIGHS ME. At Whatever, John Scalzi has an “Interview With Santa’s Reindeer Wrangler”.

Q: We could talk about that. I mean, the general violation of physics that goes on around the whole Santa’s sleigh thing.

A: Look, I don’t pretend to know the science of the flying sleigh thing, okay? That’s not my job. You can ask Santa’s physicists about it if you want.

Q: Santa has physicists on staff?

A: Of course he does. He’s one of the largest recruiters of physicists outside of NASA. What, you thought all this happened because of magic?

Q: Well, now that you mention it, yes. Yes, I did.

(17) MALCONTENT WARNING. Darth Santa…. Great production values for a video whose humor may leave you a little ill. Or laughing your ass off, depending on what meds you’ve taken today.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Nigel, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day redheadedfemme.]