Pixel Scroll 3/15/17 I’m Scrolling On My Knees Looking For The Answer

(1) NO FLY ZONE. John Brunner in The Shockwave Rider said that ‘The future arrives too soon and in the wrong order.’ And here’s proof of that — “French hoverboard inventor banned from flying in France”.

The man who invented the Flyboard Air has been barred from flying his jet-powered hoverboard in France, sparking a debate over the country’s policies on innovation. In a Facebook post on March 10th, Franky Zapata, founder of the company that bears his name, said there is a “strong probability that the Flyboard Air will never fly again in France,” after officials from the French air gendarmerie told him he would be placed under criminal investigation if he continued to pilot the craft. Zapata added that he will now be “obliged to leave France” in order to continue his work.

“That is how innovators are treated in our country,” Zapata wrote in a French-language post. “I leave you [to] imagine my disgust after having produced more than 10,000 ‘made in France’ Flyboards.”

(2) DO YOU DIG IT? A road that is too close to Stonehenge will probably be buried, but there are many issues with the proposed tunnel.

It’s one of the world’s most famous ancient monuments: an instantly recognisable icon from a forgotten world, a place for quiet wonder and contemplation.

And yet for many people, the first and perhaps only glimpse they get of Stonehenge is from a traffic jam on the A303, one of the main routes between London and southwest England.

This could be about to change. A bold £1.4bn plan proposes ripping up much of the existing road and replacing it with a new route that includes a 2.9km (1.8 miles), deep-bored tunnel just a few hundred metres south of Stonehenge….

A far bigger priority is ensuring that the context of the wider landscape is preserved, such as that the sightlines between the area’s various monuments and barrows – thought to have been deliberately designed by the Neolithic engineers of ancient Britain – are left intact.

For instance, a key area of concern with the current proposal, and something that McMahon and others hope to be able to persuade Highways England to address, is the positioning of the western entrance. “It’s too close to one of the major funerary monuments in the landscape called the Normanton down barrow cemetery,” says McMahon, “and the road coming out also sits for part of its route on the same astronomical alignment as the midwinter setting Sun.”

(3) GRAMMAR’S SLAMMERS. Walter Jon Williams declares “Victory for the Oxford Comma”:

I stand proudly with the Oxford comma, as it stands for reason, clarity, and mitigates against incertitude.  (Try reading that sentence without the Oxford comma and see where it gets you.)

I am pleased to know that the US Court of Appeals agrees with me, insofar as they ruled that a missing Oxford comma was the deciding factor in the case of Kevin O’Connor v. the Oakhurst Dairy….

(4) 10-SIDED DICE YES, BLACK HELICOPTERS NO. An Ars Technica writer at SXSW found “The CIA uses board games to train officers – and I got to play them”.

Clopper recalls one day in 2008 when his “boss’s boss” called him into a meeting and asked him to develop new internal training exercises. Normally, these exercises test whether recent lessons and seminars have been absorbed by officers, and they usually involve “teams, flip charts, and briefings,” Clopper says. “Incredibly boring.” But Clopper had now been at the CIA long enough to reshape its exercises, his boss said, and he got excited: “I’m a gamer. I enjoy games, video games, tabletop games. Could we bring games into learning?”

He used SXSW to present three board games made for his training exercises over the span of a four-year period, one of which is still in development. The first is the one we got the most hands-on time with during SXSW: Collection. If that dry-as-a-desert name isn’t a good indicator, rest assured—this is not a game meant for retail or for the highest ratings at BoardGameGeek.

Collection compares favorably to the popular cooperative game Pandemic. In Clopper’s game, a group of players must work together to resolve three major crises across the globe. The object is for players, who each represent different types of CIA officers, to collect enough relevant intel to resolve all three crises. If any one of the three impending disasters boils over (as represented by three increasing “fire” meters), the team loses. Every game must have at least three players to fill the roles of “political analyst,” “military analyst,” and “economic analyst.” Those three are only able to collect intel in their specific fields, while additional players (up to seven on a team) have their own specialties.

The difficulty comes from the low number of actions each player can do per turn, along with how quickly the fire meter ratchets up.

(5) WIZARDRY. Bradbury biographer Sam Weller tells why you should “Pay Close Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain: 8 Things I Learned About Writing from Ray Bradbury”.

In 12 years, as one might imagine, I observed many of Bradbury’s creative secrets. I peered behind the Oz-ian curtain, as it were, and paid close attention. Bradbury was a master storyteller and visionary artist who created across an unprecedented nine decades. Fahrenheit 451. The Martian Chronicles. Dandelion Wine. Something Wicked This Way Comes. Massive collections of poetry. Massive collections of essays. Hundreds of short stories across every conceivable genre. He owned and operated his own theatre company. He wrote episodes of The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. On a whim, he scripted an animated short film that was later nominated for an Oscar. He earned an Emmy for an animated television adaptation of his own YA novel, The Halloween Tree. Bradbury developed architectural concepts for shopping malls, the 1964 World’s Fair and EPCOT. There is a crater on the moon named, by NASA, for Ray Bradbury’s book 1957 novel-in-stories, Dandelion Wine.

The man was a force.

Not surprising then, that much of my own creative ethos is culled from what I learned working alongside Ray Bradbury….

(6) HARRIS OBIT. Jack Harris, producer of the original horror film The Blob (1958) died March 14 at the age of 98. He was also a producer or executive producer of Paradisio (1962), Beware! The Blob (1972), Schlock (1973) and other genre films.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • The Ides of March – Julius Caesar finds out what happens when you keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

(9) TODAY IN BEER HISTORY

  • March 15, 1937 – H.P. Lovecraft joins the choir invisible.

(10) FRANCHISE CROSSOVER. CBS gets its clicks on Route 66 with “19 Star Trek References on The Big Bang Theory”. First is —

“Game over, Moon Pie.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Wil Wheaton is a regular guest star on The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon’s arch nemesis makes his first appearance in “The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary” (Episode 5, Season 3), where he tricks Sheldon into throwing a Mystic Warlords of Ka’a card tournament.

(11) APOCALYPSE IN REVERSE GEAR. The Guardian interrupted the memorial service for paper books with this flash – “Ebook sales continue to fall as younger generations driver appetite for print”.

Readers committed to physical books can give a sigh of relief, as new figures reveal that ebook sales are falling while sales of paper books are growing – and the shift is being driven by younger generations.

More than 360m books were sold in 2016 – a 2% jump in a year that saw UK consumers spend an extra 6%, or £100m, on books in print and ebook formats, according to findings by the industry research group Nielsen in its annual books and consumer survey. The data also revealed good news for bricks-and-mortar bookshops, with a 4% rise in purchases across the UK.

While sales through shops increased 7% in 2016, ebook sales declined by 4%. It is the second year in a row that ebook sales have fallen, and only the second time that annual ebook sales have done so since industry bodies began monitoring sales a decade ago.

(12) PERIODICAL PERFORMANCE. The March ratings are up at Rocket Stack Rank. Sarah Pinsker, Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali, and Michael Flynn have the top-ranked stories.

(13) EQUALS? Natalie Luhrs does her annual slice-and-dice of the Locus Recommended Reading List to show how many listed works are by people of various genders and races.

I wrote yesterday that one problem with pure counting exercises is that they don’t tap into the experience or emotion of the subjects. Today in Luhrs’ report I ran into a further  question – if the goal is diversity, and an analyst is considering numbers in isolation, what number equals winning? This came to mind when I read this passage in her section on race. Luhrs found that works by people of color on the list increased from 15.61% to 26.47% in one year. She commented —

Race Breakout by Year, Percentages

Nearly three quarters of the works are still by white people. Representation of POC has jumped by over 10% and that is a really good thing, but I believe there is still room for improvement.

Does Luhrs have a target number in mind that Locus has yet to reach, or is she failing to put in perspective what seems to be a radical effort to get diverse works listed?

(14) GROWTH IN AFRICAN SFF. This isn’t the first time someone has asked “Why Is science fiction so white?” The news is that the question was posed today by a journalist in Zimbabwe, Mako Muzenda.

The presence of these spaces – websites, magazines and publications – goes a long way in introducing readers to different writers, and getting aspiring authors the visibility they need. Ivor Hartmann has been involved in speculative fiction since 2007, with the release of his first book Earth Rise. After going from publisher to publisher, looking for someone to put his book on the market, Hartmann (a Zimbabwean) was finally able to get his story out with Something Wicked, which at the time was the only science-fiction magazine for the whole of Africa.

“While I did publish it with them (Something Wicked), I was distressed at the lack of publishing venues for speculative fiction in Africa. So rather than moan about it I started up an online weekly magazine,” explains Hartmann. His decision led to the creation of StoryTime, which ran for five years until Hartmann switched to solely publishing anthologies. With enough experience in the industry behind him, Hartmann decided to take the plunge and address the inadequacies in African science fiction head-on with AfroSF, the first Pan-African science fiction anthology.

“Of course, now there are loads of African online magazines but back then it was all new territory for writers and readers. No longer were we held back by the excruciating logistics and heavy capital needed to run a print magazine.”

What had started off as a fringe movement is growing into a vibrant community of people dedicated to letting Africa’s voice be heard in speculative fiction….

(15) IN THE JURY ROOM. The Shadow Clarke Jury has produced three more thoughtful reviews.

The Underground Railroad is, perhaps, the best novel of 2016.

I qualify that statement only because I have not read every novel published in 2016. Nobody has. But I have seen nothing to suggest that I am wrong in this assessment. And I am not alone in this view; the novel has, after all, won America’s National Book Award.

I consider it the best, in part, because it is a novel that speaks to the moment the way that few other books do. It captures the screams of Ferguson, the anger of Black Lives Matter, the despair in the face of the renewed racism that celebrated the last American election. It is a book that places the experience of being black in America today on a trajectory that puts it closer to slavery than we ever like to think. And it does all of this with intelligence, with beauty, with subtlety, with wit and with invention. It uses the tools of the novel the way those tools are meant to be used, but so seldom are.

It is a book that held me with its first sentence, and continued to hold me, with horror and delight, through to its last sentence.

It is a good novel, perhaps the best novel; but does that mean it is the best science fiction novel?

What is Kavenna’s book actually about, though? This question is harder to answer than it first appears, no doubt intentionally so. As suggested above, the outline appears simple: Eliade Jencks, having failed to enter Oxford as a student, takes a job waiting tables in the cafe of the Tradescantian Ark Musuem and continues to conduct her researches in the evenings and weekends. While working at the cafe she makes the acquaintance of a Professor Solete, an eminent don whose magnum opus is the eponymous Field Guide to Reality, a theory of everything that will finally bring together his lifelong researches into the nature of life, death and the origins of the universe. Unfortunately, Professor Solete dies before the book can be published, and when his acolytes enter his rooms in search of the manuscript they find only a locked box, labelled ‘For Eliade’.

I start with Achimwene because he reminds us that one of the central themes of Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station is the telling of stories, and science-fiction stories in particular. Indeed, the narrative itself is an embodiment of a pivotal moment in sf storytelling: the move from short story to novel. The earliest sf novels weren’t novels as such; they were formed from several closely connected short stories, sometimes reworked to strengthen those connections, and were known as ‘fix-ups’. Central Station is a fix-up par excellence, bringing together Tidhar’s various Central Station stories, some of them substantially reworked, with a couple of new stories added to the mix, and a Prologue that introduces the novel as an act of storytelling, while itself participating in the act of storytelling not once but twice.

(16) A (SUIT)CASE OF CONSCIENCE. Is this “the perfect Tyrion Lannister cosplay” as Reddit  says, or in incredibly bad taste? YOU decide!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Merrick Lex, Andrew Porter, JJ, Mark-kitteh, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Clifton’s Hosts Big Read

451

By John King Tarpinian: Last night was the Cultural Affairs Department of the Los Angeles Library celebration of the National Big Read program. Our hosts for the evening were David Kipen and Sam Weller.

David is the founder of Libros Schmibros lending library. He also was on the National Big Read committee that selected Fahrenheit 451 as their first book to read.

Sam Weller is a professor at Columbia College in Chicago, and has written a biography of Ray. The graphic novel version of the anthology, Shadow Show, which Sam edited, just won an Edgar. The written word version of Shadow Show won an Edgar last year.

Also in attendance was Sid Stebel, who will never retire, and his prize winning writer wife Karen Ford (not pictured). Sid spoke about his long-time friendship with Ray. When he asked Ray to review his first novel Ray’s advice was to “Burn it!”

David Kipen, Sid Stebel, and Sam Weller.

David Kipen, Sid Stebel, and Sam Weller.

The current president of LASFS, Gavin Claypool, talked briefly about how Ray and many other luminaries met at Clifton’s in the olden days. For those who did not know, Ray Bradbury would attend with his childhood friend Ray Harryhausen. With others who attended meetings were the likes of Robert Heinlein and when in town Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. Not a bad group to have a chocolate malted and green jell-o with.

Gavin Claypool

Gavin Claypool

Unfortunately, there was a birthday party for a 75-year-old that was being held in the sci-fi room area so I have no pictures of the Ray Bradbury booth to share. Maybe next time.

All Bradbury

(1) Bradbury is the centerpiece of another Big Read in Kansas City. Biographer Sam Weller helps launch the event in ‘Fahrenheit 451’ forever: a literary classic’s uncanny cultural longevity.

In 1953, a little-known 33-year-old writer named Ray Bradbury wrote his first novel.

Sixty-two years later, “Fahrenheit 451” is a bona fide international classic.

The masterwork about a dystopian society where books are contraband is a staple of school curricula. It has been translated into more than 30 languages around the world and is, today, one of the most selected titles in community reading programs across the nation (along with Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”).

The Kansas City area this week joins the list of community celebrants. The Mid-Continent Public Library system has kicked off a series of events surrounding the book in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts “Big Read” initiative. Having worked closely with Ray Bradbury for over a decade as his authorized biographer, I am thrilled to participate.

“Fahrenheit 451” is one of those rare books that transcend time and generations. But why? Why does this short 50,000-word novel continue to have such cultural relevance?

Even Ray Bradbury was somewhat vexed by the waxing success of his novel over the decades.

“I was just writing an adventure novel,” he told me on multiple occasions. Bradbury described his book as “a fugitive chase disguised as literature,” in reference to the plotline of a fireman who burns books for a living and one-day decides to take one home to see what all the fuss is about. When Guy Montag discovers the magic, wonder, philosophy and poetry inside books, he leaves his life as a book burner behind and becomes a bibliophilic fugitive in a society where books are illegal.

(2) Adrienne Martini reviews Blythe Woolston’s MARTians at Locus Online.

Like Bradbury, whose work Woolston honors both in the title and as a running theme, this au­thor has a knack for finding just the right details to flesh-out a world without bogging down the action in reams of description. Take, for example, this nugget: ‘‘I won’t have a vote to sell until my eighteenth birthday, and that’s 619 days away.’’ Not only do you learn Zoë’s age but you also learn reams about the world that surrounds her. MARTians is a marvel of linguistic economy.

(3) Bidding is open and lively for the strongest rare book auction Heritage has offered to date, Auction #6155.

Many excellent copies of Bradbury works with personal inscriptions to Bob O’Malley are also present here, such as Dark Carnival (Lot 45014), Fahrenheit 451 (Lot 45016; minimum $1250), The Martian Chronicles (Lot 45021; minimum $1250) and The October Country (Lot 45024; minimum bid $500).

(4) Brigadier Mick Ryan on “Why Reading Science Fiction is Good For Military Officers” at Grounded Curiosity.

And it informs us about bad potential futures.  Reading science fiction allows one to think about a range of bad potential futures.  The dystopian future genre, particularly for younger readers, has been popular of late.  But this is not new.  Whether it is King’s The Stand, Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Matteson’s I am Legend, or Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, science fiction has always dealt with futures where society breaks down or must deal with a far more pessimistic view of the future.  Some even deal with the end of the world, with a recent example being Stephenson’s Seven Eve’s.  It is good that military officers should read such descriptions of alternate futures; it is the first step in us ensuring that they do not come to pass.

Pixel Scroll 11/28 Sympathy For The Devil’s Arithmetic

(1) Connor Johnston opens a different doorway into the commonplace activity of reviewing Doctor Who episodes by “Ranking the Writing Debuts of the Capaldi Era” at Doctor Who TV.

Doctor Who is home to some of the greatest and most confident writers in the history of television, who have each been responsible for some of the most riveting storylines of the last 52 years,  and every great writer must start somewhere. So far in Capaldi’s era, five ambitious personalities have made their first contribution to the show, expanding the already respected list of accomplished Who alumni significantly. With Sarah Dollard’s “Face the Raven” having aired last weekend, she has become the final new addition for the show’s ninth series, as such making this the perfect time to reflect on the newer talent we’ve seen grace our imaginations in the last two years.

(2) Passengers are go! “Airbus proposes new drop-in airplane ‘cabin modules’ to speed up boarding” at ars technical UK.

Today, Airbus has been granted a patent (US 9,193,460) on a method that essentially turns an airplane into an articulated truck. The plane, instead of being a single, contiguous hull, would have a huge hole in the middle where the passengers and luggage would normally be. Instead of boarding the plane directly, passengers and luggage would be loaded into a separate “cabin module.” Then, when the module is ready to go, it’s simply dropped into the airplane. If you ever watched Thunderbirds as a kid, it’s a lot like Thunderbird 2.

The post comes with diagrams.

(3) Sam Weller’s “Where the Hills Are Fog and the Rivers Are Mist” in The Paris Review.

Ray Bradbury’s The October Country turns sixty.

“The Dubliners of American Gothic”—that’s how Stephen King referred to Ray Bradbury’s first book, the little-known 1947 short-story collection, Dark Carnival. There’s good reason few readers, even those well versed in Bradbury’s work, are unfamiliar with Dark Carnival: Arkham House, a small press out of Sauk City, Wisconsin, published the book in a modest run of 3,112 copies; the book went out of print just a few years later. Besides a pricey limited-edition reprint in 2001, Dark Carnival exists as a literary apparition.

And yet many people have read some of Dark Carnival without knowing it

(4) Ryan Britt has a daring demand in “The Ghost of Hayden Christensen: Why Anakin MUST Appear in Episode VII” at Tor.com.

The nice thing about Anakin is that he gets to redeem himself in Return of the Jedi—which, if you’re a kid experiencing the Star Wars movies in the Lucas-order, is a pretty neat arc. Also for contemporary kids, Anakin is the focus of more hours of Star Wars than really any other character, thanks to The Clone Wars. So for better or worse, the prequel-era Anakin defines Star Wars for a big chunk of the viewing public.

If all the actors from the classic trilogy are reprising their roles, the giant space elephant in the room is how old everyone has gotten. Let’s get real, the focus of these new films will doubtlessly be on new characters, but it would be nice to have some existing Star Wars characters in there too, particularly ones who don’t look super old. Luckily, you don’t have to do any Tron: Legacy de-aging CG action on Hayden. He looks good!

(5) N K Jeminsin made the New York Times “100 Notable Books of 2015”. Interestingly, it’s in Fiction. The list does not put sf/fantasy in a separate section.

THE FIFTH SEASON. The Broken Earth: Book One. By N.K. Jemisin. (Orbit, paper, $15.99.) In Jemisin’s fantasy novel, ­civilization faces destruction and the earth itself is a monstrous enemy.

(6) Michael Damien Thomas will work on accessibility at SFWA’s big annual event —

(7) With Carrie Fisher returning in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this 2011 comedy video has a new lease on life —

Kaley Cuoco addresses an important issue affecting cosplay girls across the globe: Slave Leia fatigue. With so many choices available to women who cosplay, there’s no reason everyone needs to be Slave Leia.

 

(8) “Seed bombing to save the bees” at Interesting Engineering.

Seed bombs began as a fun and friendly tactic for greening abandoned lots in urban spaces, but are still a developing idea to be done in large scale. It involves throwing small seed ‘bombs’ from planes onto deserted areas that have suffered deforestation, to gradually begin to recover the ecosystem. This method not only allows the growth of more trees and plants, but helps combat the extinction of bees, indispensable beings for the reproduction of life on Earth….

Each seed capsule is made from biodegradable plastic and functions as a small greenhouse where the seeds grow at first. When they reach the ground, the capsule disintegrates without polluting the environment until it disappears completely, allowing the plant growth to take its natural course.

seed bombs

(9) At Examined Worlds, a philosophical Ethan Mills claims “I’m Thankful For My Regrets”.

Yesterday we celebrated our Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States.  One popular tradition is to enumerate what you’re thankful for.  I’m thankful for lots of things.  Of course, I’m thankful for my family and friends and my cats.  I’m thankful that I have a fulfilling career and no major health issues.  I’m thankful that I have neither the greed nor the need to go “Black Friday” shopping today.  I’m thankful that the new Star Wars movie is coming out soon!

Also, I’m thankful for my regrets.  Like most people, I have plenty.  I regret that I haven’t done more international travel and that I haven’t done more charitable giving and volunteering.  I regret never figuring out this whole physical fitness thing.  I regret that I saw Star Wars: Episode I seven times in the theater.  I regret voting for Ralph Nader in 2000.  I regret that I didn’t spend more time with my mom.

I don’t think regrets have to be the soul-crushing thing they’re made out to be; you don’t have to exterminate them entirely to have a healthy life. I also don’t think you need to go in the direction of some Nietzscheans and existentialists to say that you have to take ownership of regrets and affirm them, because they’ve made you who you are.  There is, as Buddhists would say, a middle way between these extremes.

(10) There’s an app for the Battleship Iowa?

The Battleship IOWA experience is at your fingertips – you’re all aboard for adventure! You will never look at the Navy the same way. The Battleship IOWA Interactive Tour will let you experience, first hand, what it was like to live and serve on this historic ship. You’ll be part of the adventure!

You’ll see and hear the fascinating stories behind the ship, its crew, and the part it played in shaping our world and our country. It is virtually impossible to get a feel for the service and spirit of this historic shp by simply reading a sign or placard. The Battleship IOWA Interactive Tour puts you in control of your experience. Dive deep into the content of the ship and explore the areas that intrigue you most. You’ll find crewmember stories, fun facts, ship service records, videos of her in action all in the palm of your hand. Enjoy content that isn’t available anywhere else in the museum.

 

Mike Glyer and Sierra visit the USS Iowa in 2013.

Mike Glyer and Sierra visit the USS Iowa in 2013.

(11) Tom Knighton’s “Review of Jessica Jones Season 1”:

…The show stars Kristen Ritter as Jones, a private investigator who got super powers after an auto accident that killed her family.  She’s not the typical hero.  An encounter prior to the show with a mind controller named Kilgrave (played by David Tennant) leaves her with a healthy dose of PTSD and a penchant for whiskey.

Early on, she meets a bar owner who she’s been following for a reason explained later in the series.  The bar owner is a large black man named Luke Cage.

Yeah, baby.

Ritter is solid as Jones, nailing the smart mouth and feigned apathy the script called for.  Her natural thinness might not normally fit a super strong hero, but personally I think it fits the character nicely.  Not only does it make it more impressive when she lifts a car’s back wheels without straining, but it fits the alcoholic aspect of the character pretty well….

(12) Den of Geek’s spoiler-filled review of Jessica Jones focuses on the question, “Is Kilgrave Marvel’s Creepiest Villain?”

The casting of David Tennant makes Kilgrave’s grim demands seem ever more shocking, and this must be deliberate from the showrunners. At points, when Kilgrave’s enthusiasm levels rise a little, he really does resemble a twisted version of the Tenth Doctor. His charisma – combined with his creepiness and callousness – makes for unsettling viewing.

(13) Black Gate’s John ONeill knows why it continually costs more to be a fan who’s passionate about “Collecting Philip K. Dick”.

I have a lot of experience selling vintage paperbacks at conventions and other places, and nobody — but nobody — has skyrocketed in value like Philip K. Dick. The only authors who even come close are George R.R. Martin, James Tiptree, Jr, Robert E. Howard, and maybe Samuel R. Delany.

A big part of the reason, of course, is that virtually all of Dick’s novels were originally published in paperback, which means that — nearly unique among highly collectible authors — the coveted first editions of his novels are all paperbacks.

(14) Not all of CheatSheet’s “10 Sci-Fi Cult Classics That Everyone Should See” are as surprising as Snowpiercer (at #4) – who knew it had been around long enough to be a classic? Some might even agree with its strong preference for remakes — John Carpenter’s version of The Thing, David Cronenberg’s The Fly (#10) and Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (#5).

  1. The Thing

Audiences in 1982 were more interested in cuddly aliens like Steven Spielberg’s ET than they were in monstrous, shape-shifting ones, which explains the critical and commercial failure of John Carpenter’s The Thing. Thankfully, viewers have rediscovered the film, which stands as one of the greatest horror films and one of the greatest science fiction films. An Antarctic outpost of men struggles to identify and destroy an alien that can assume the form and personality of any living thing it consumes. The men, led by a never-better Kurt Russell, act competently in facing the threat, making it all the more terrifying when they can’t stop it. There’s mounds of existential tension and paranoid distrust to go around in the icy and isolated setting. Carpenter knows how to play off the tension brilliantly, using some of the most tactile and creatively terrifying practical effects in cinema history, courtesy of Rob Bottin.

(15) How Attack of the Clones Should Have Ended!

(16) After reading about Ridley Scott’s plans for more Prometheus movies I look forward to a future video series telling How It Should Have Begun.

Ridley Scott has confirmed that ‘Alien: Covenant’ will be the first of three films that will then link up to the story from the original 1979 ‘Alien’.

The second movie in his ‘Prometheus’ series is in its pre-production stage in Sydney, Australia, at the moment, where Scott confirmed the plans in a press conference.

He said that the newly-named ‘Covenant’ and the next two films will answer the ‘very basic questions posed in Alien: why the alien, who might have made it and where did it come from?’.

Covenant will tell the story of the crew of a colony ship which discovers what it believes to be an ‘uncharted paradise’ world, but is in fact a ‘dark and dangerous’ place, inhabited solely by David, Michael Fassbender’s android character from the first ‘Prometheus’ movie.

 [Thanks to Michael J. Walsh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

The Bradbury Extra

451 shoes(1) Through an Etsy store you can get Fahreheit 451 Shoes (Classics Collection) in matte or glossy finish. And that’s just one of the titles available.

-See Basic Shoe Guide or Upgrade to Brand of your choice* -Book Covers
-Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury) Mathew Owen & Adam Maida Cover Versions +
-The Catcher in the Rye (J.D Salinger)
-To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
-The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
-Animal Farm or 1984 (George Orwell)
-The Time Machine (H.G Wells)
-Others Available upon request

(2) Rachel Bloom was on Last Call With Carson Daly November 18, and voiced some comments about Ray Bradbury and inspiration.

(3) Bradley J. Birzer’s review at The Imaginative Conservative“Driving Across Mars: Ray Bradbury at the End”, discusses Ray Bradbury: The Last Interview and Other Conversations, edited by Sam Weller.

With Ray Bradbury, the problem is not too little information, but too much. And, not just “too much,” but an avalanche, a tidal wave, a flood, an F5 tornado just having passed through the feed lot. . . well, you get the idea. And, yet, with Bradbury, more is never enough. Amazing that God just makes a few of those in His image so endlessly fascinating. Bradbury is one of those. What was God thinking when he made Ray? The man just overflowed with creativity, life, imagination, and everything else that matters in our whirligig of existence.

Melville House, a publisher on the move, has recently published a series of “Last Interviews” with great authors. Thus far, the series includes Kurt Vonnegut, Jacques Derrida, Hannah Arendt, and a few others. Sam Weller, who spent that last dozen years with Bradbury, put together this book. Mr. Weller, it should be noted, does incredible work, and he does not take the trust that Bradbury showed in him lightly. At the very end of his life, Bradbury admitted that Mr. Weller probably understood him better than he himself did. And, very touchingly, during their very last meeting, Bradbury admitted that he considered Mr. Weller the son he had never had.

(4) “Credo – Ray Bradbury”, quoted on Annie’s Writing Challenge.

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” – Ray Bradbury

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the best of these stories.]

A Half Dozen About Ray Bradbury

Our favorite newsmaker, Ray Bradbury, generated all six of these stories.

Art by Gris Grimly for The Halloween Tree.

Art by Gris Grimly for The Halloween Tree.

(1) Creature Features in Burbank gets a head start on the season of the witch with an August 2 showcase of Gus Grimly’s artwork for the latest adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree.

Grimly casts his unique spell over this fantastical tale of a daring group of trick ‘r treaters embarking on the ultimate Halloween adventure, led by the mysterious Mr. Moundshroud. The show opens August 2nd with Grimly on hand to display his original art and sign the new hardbound edition from Knopf Books. Limited edition prints will also be offered exclusively through the gallery.

Runs Sunday, August 2, 2:00pm – 4:00pm at Creature Features, 2904 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank CA 91506.

(2) See Ralph Steadman’s Rare and Rapturous Illustrations for Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the whole beautiful color portfolio.

In his magnificent 2013 monograph, Proud Too Be Weirrd (public library), Steadman admits to having grown jaded with illustrating other people’s prose — “not much more than shameless self-indulgence” — but writes of having gladly completed the Bradbury project due to its “vitally important theme — the burning of all books.”

 

Ralph Steadman art for Fahrenheit 451.

Ralph Steadman art for Fahrenheit 451.

(3) Author Sarah Beach recently paid tribute to Bradbury’s influence:

I am trying to hold onto that love of my stories, that love of the craft.  It’s so easy in the regular beat of trying to get on with life to lose track of loving your stories. It’s so easy to just be focused on getting the next patch written for the paycheck. I want to keep Ray’s words in my soul, so that even the “work-a-day” writing jobs are filled with that love that comes from the core of me.

(4) John King Tarpinian was sitting in the front row when Ray Bradbury and Hugh Hefner discussed the origins of Fahrenheit 451 for this video.

Iconic author Ray Bradbury and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner talk with LATimes.com blogger Geoff Boucher (Hero Complex) about how TV and radio inspired Fahrenheit 451, the connection between the novel and Playboy magazine and why Bradbury thinks of himself as a “pomegranate.”

(5) The FBI spied on Bradbury and his children:

Ray Bradbury’s biographer, Sam Weller, says he was shocked by the FBI’s incompetence and perfidy.

First, they got Bradbury’s name wrong in their documents, consistently calling him “Raymond,” when his given name was “Ray.” And the FBI reported that Bradbury made repeated trips to Cuba, when he never went there in his life.

But the Red File, which Weller obtained through a Freedom of Information Request, also shows that FBI agents were parking their cars at night on Bradbury’s street in Cheviot Hills, watching his children.

Bradbury, Weller says, “was quite startled by that. He was a pack rat, so he took that file out of my hand immediately and said, ‘Mine! Mine!’ He wanted to keep it.”

(6) One time Ray was doing a signing/fundraiser for the Beverly Hills Library.  Docents would bring batches of books for Ray to sign.  Santiago, Ray’s nurse, asked one of the docents if anybody had ever told him he looked a lot like Tom Hanks.  The docent was Colin Hanks.

Ray Bradbury, Architect

The city of Los Angeles is criticized for many things, among them having no center. Over 50 years ago Ray Bradbury began writing down his remedies for that problem. Today his influence apparent in the Glendale Galleria, Century City and the redesign of key parts of Hollywood.

Bradbury biographer Sam Weller knows how important that legacy was to the author, who tried to summarize it in an essay they reworked many times in his final years though never finished.

Weller published that work in Ray Bradbury: The Last Interview and Other Conversations, and has allowed it to be excerpted as “The Pomegranate Architect” in The Paris Review.

As I look back over the last fifty years of my work in architecture, I can’t help but think about the time I visited the Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago in 1933. I was twelve, and as I wandered about that incredible city they had constructed, I fell in love with the future. And after I left the fair, I went home to the small Illinois town where I lived and in the backyard of my parents’ home, I constructed buildings out of paper and cardboard, not knowing that thirty years forward, in my own future, I would start my architectural work helping to build another World’s Fair, the 1964 New York World’s Fair, thus beginning my career as the world’s only accidental architect.

Bradbury House Lives On
In Shadow Show #3

Shadow-03Ray Bradbury’s yellow bungalow is beautifully recreated in IDW’s Shadow Show #3, which was published January 7 at about the same time the wreckers started taking down the original. This is the third in a series of five comics paying tribute to Bradbury and his work.

Tour Ray’s home in this preview from the comic.

As Dave MacPhail summarizes in his post about Shadow Show #3 on The Big Glasgow Comic Page:

The first story featured is “Weariness,” written by Harlan Ellison, which gives us a look at the end of the universe as we know it. The next story, “Live Forever!” by Bradbury biographer Sam Weller and Mark Sexton, brings Ray Bradbury himself into the story, as a young reporter unveils the master storyteller’s secrets.

Bradbury Tribute in Pomona 10/12

Bradbury Display PomonaActors Joe Mantegna, Edward James Olmos and Liza Torres, plus director Stuart Gordon, will participate in a panel discussion at A Tribute to Ray Bradbury where their film The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit will be screened to benefit the Pomona Public Library. Official Bradbury biographer Sam Weller also will be on hand, and the event will be moderated by Steven Paul Leiva, author of Searching for Ray Bradbury.

The event takes place Sunday, October 12 at 3:00 p.m. at Pomona’s Western University of Health Sciences in the Health Education Center. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

Tarpinian: A Wonderful Day
in the Neighborhood

Susan Bradbury Nixon (at dais).

By John King Tarpinian: Today, December 6th, the City of Los Angeles dedicated the intersection of 5th & Flower as Ray Bradbury Square. The area is just behind the main branch library, where Ray spent many hours in his teens all the way thru adulthood and beyond.

This event was spearheaded by Steven Paul Levia, who was responsible for Ray Bradbury Week for Ray’s 90th birthday. City Councilman Jose Huizar, representing the area of the dedication, also grew up in Boyle Heights where Ray and his family briefly lived in the early 1930s. That is where Ray was inspired to write The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, and where it was filmed. The other City Councilman present was Paul Koretz, who represents where Ray lived and also went to school with Ray’s daughters. Another city representative was John Szabo, who is the head librarian.

Sci-fi writer/futurist David Brin spoke about the time he took his children to meet Ray and he briefly gained respect beyond that of a mortal parent. Sam Weller, a Bradbury biographer, gave a lovely speech and ended by vocalizing as Ray: “You are wondering why I called you here today…”

Ray’s eldest daughter and bookseller Susan Bradbury Nixon said a few words about her dad, which brought out more than a few hankies.

Last up was Joe Mantegna who first worked for Ray in 1972 in a Chicago production of The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit and went on to play the same role in the Disney movie. He told of his last meeting with Ray at the house, which choked him up a wee bit.

As much as I hate driving downtown, I now have a place to stop and sit in a shaded park while I read a few passages from one of Ray’s stories and to remember the joy he has brought so many of us with his stories.

Joe Mantegna and Sam Weller.

LA City Councilman Jose Huizar.

David Brin.

LA City Councilman Paul Koretz.

John Szabo, City Librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library.

Ray Bradbury and Joe Mantegna.