(1) KEN LIU ON THE SCROLL. Ken Liu notes that we’re back to scrolling, in “The Grand Evolution of Books” at the Powell’s Books blog.
A similar shift may be happening today as we go from reading on paper codices back to endless (electronic) scrolls in the form of Web pages. Hyperlinks and sophisticated search functions have allowed scrolls to catch up to and even surpass the advantages of codices in random access and ease of reference, and electronic texts offer many more advantages: user-controlled text formatting and flow, instant access to encyclopedias and dictionaries, ease of note-taking and quote-sharing, community-based discussions, and so on.
Yet, we persist in pretending that the scroll is not authoritative.
(2) SCIENCE FICTION LEAGUE IN CHICAGO. Doug Ellis chronicles “Jack Binder and the Early Chicago SF Fan Club” at Black Gate.
Back in the mid-1930’s, one of the most active science fiction fan clubs was the Chicago Science Fiction Club, which had among its members such fans as Jack Darrow (among fandom’s most prolific writers of letters of comment to the SF pulps), Earl and Otto Binder (the Eando Binder writing team), Jack Binder (their brother, an artist), Walter Dennis and Paul McDermott (both of who had started the Science Correspondence Club in 1929 and later published The Comet, edited by Ray Palmer and arguably the first SF fanzine), William Dellenback, Allen Kline (brother of author Otis Adelbert Kline) and Howard Funk. The Chicago Club had formed as the Chicago Chapter of the Science Fiction League, the nationwide fan organization created and promoted by Wonder Stories. The Chicago Chapter’s activities were prominent in the pages of Wonder Stories, and in Sam Moskowitz’ words, it was “the outstanding chapter of the time.”
(3) DINING WITH DOYLE. Episode 4 of Scott Edelman’s Eating the Fantastic with Tom Doyle is now live —
Writer Tom Doyle and I recorded Episode 4 of Eating the Fantastic at Ethiopic Ethiopian restaurant nearby the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and Union Station in Washington D.C.—which unless I’m mistaken has the largest Ethiopian population outside of Ethiopia after so many resettled here during the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Tom’s the author of a contemporary fantasy series from Tor which began in 2014 with American Craftsmen, returned in 2015 with The Left Hand Way, and continues in the third installment War and Craft—the manuscript of which he handed in to his editor mere days before we met.
Edelman’s next guest will be Carolyn Ives Gilman.
(4) HAMILTON PHONES ADAMS. “The Legacy of 1776: A Conversation with William Daniels and Lin-Manuel Miranda” on New York City Center.
CITY CENTER: Before we get too deeply into ticketing, I want to talk a bit about 1776. Today we think of it as being in the pantheon of great musicals, but in the 1960s, the show was so unconventional that Sherman Edwards had a hard time getting it produced. “Some of the biggest [names] in the theater,” he recalled, “looked at me and said, ‘What, a costume musical? A costume, historical musical?’” Mr. Daniels, do you remember your initial reaction to the idea?
WD: I read the script with a bunch of people at somebody’s apartment. Sherman Edwards was a former schoolteacher from New Jersey, and he had written not just the songs, but the script. It was a little stiff; I remember thinking, We’re in the middle of Vietnam, for Christ’s sake, and they’re waving the flag? I really had to be talked into doing it. At any rate, when the script came back to me, Peter Stone had taken ahold of it, and he’d gone back to the actual conversations in the Second Continental Congress. He had written them out on little cards and injected them into the script, and it made all the difference in the world. It added humor and conciseness and truth.
LM: I love that anecdote, because it gets at something that I discovered in writing Hamilton: the truth is invariably more interesting than anything a writer could make up. That Peter Stone went back to the texts written by these guys, who were petty, brilliant, compromised—that’s more interesting than any marble saints or plaster heroes you can create. And the picture you all painted together of John Adams was so powerful; in the opening scene, he calls himself “obnoxious and disliked,” which is a real quote. We don’t have a John Adams in our show, but we can just refer to him, and everyone just pictures you, Mr. Daniels.
(5) SOVIET MOON LANDER. “Giant steps are what you take, walking on the Moon”, from The Space Review.
If there is an infinite number of universes, then certainly in one of them Alexei Leonov climbed down the ladder of the Soviet Lunniy Korabl (“lunar ship”) and put his bootprint on the surface of the Moon. But Leonov did not take such a step in our universe and, as a result, the Soviet effort to beat the Americans to the Moon is largely forgotten. Had the Soviets ever gotten that far, had they ever sent Leonov to the Moon, he would have died rather than eventually become a genial geriatric cosmonaut, ambassador of the Soviet space program, and living legend. That was my thought when looking at the ungainly and rickety LK-3 test article on display at London’s Science Museum a few weeks ago. It is the second time that a lunar landing craft has ever ventured outside of Russia (one was displayed at EuroDisney in Paris in the 1990s), and will probably be the last time for many, many years to come.
Soviet moon lander.
(6) ENTER STAGE LEFT. M. J. Herbert has a long, intensively researched piece about the earliest days of Doctor Who in “Doctor Who and the Communist: The art and politics of Malcolm Hulke” at Fantasies of Possibility.
The origins of Doctor Who Sydney Newman’s success on ITV led him to being poached by the BBC, who offered a job as Head of Drama: he started work in January 1963. Looking back 20 years later, when interviewed for a BBC oral history project, he described what he found at the BBC.
The material didn’t really cater to what I assumed to be the mass British audience. It was still the attitude that BBC drama was still catering to the highly educated, cultured class rather than the mass audience which was not aware of culture as such . But above all I felt that the dramas really weren’t speaking about common everyday things…”
They needed to come up with a new series for was the late afternoon slot at 5:15 between the end of the afternoon sports programme Grandstand and the start of Juke Box Jury. At a number of meetings in the spring of 1963 Newman and his staff evolved the notion of a mysterious Doctor who could travel in time and space. The aim of the series were educational, similar to Pathfinders in Space, with the remit of teaching its young audience in an enjoyable way about space and history. In its first years the serials alternated between a science fiction adventure and an adventure set during a dramatic historical event such as the travels of Marco Polo, the Crusades, and the St Bartholomew’s Eve Massacre of 1572 (an extraordinary subject for a tea-time children’s serial, although no actual killings were shown).
Newman brought in as producer a young woman he had worked with at ABC, Verity Lambert, which caused a stir as the BBC was then a very male world. Verity persuaded the veteran actor William Hartnell to take on the role of the Doctor. Hartnell had been working as an actor since the 1930s, but was frustrated by the limited roles he was being offered, often as an army sergeant. Verity had been impressed by his part in a recent British film This Sporting Life.
(7) TREK IN CONCERT. STAR TREK: The Ultimate Voyage visits the Hollywood Pantages Theatre on April 1-2.
Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage brings five decades of Star Trek to concert halls for the first time in this galaxy or any other.
This lavish production includes an impressive live symphony orchestra and international solo instruments. People of all ages and backgrounds will experience the franchise’s groundbreaking and wildly popular musical achievements while the most iconic Star Trek film and TV footage is simultaneously beamed in high definition to a 40-foot wide screen.
The concert will feature some of the greatest music written for the franchise including music from Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek: Insurrection, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Starfleet Academy and much more. This never-before-seen concert event is perfect for music lovers, filmgoers, science-fiction fans and anyone looking for an exciting and unique concert experience.
(8) SUPPLEMENTAL CHAOS. Brandon Kempner returns with an alternative set of rankings, “Final Best of 2015 SFF Critics Meta-List” at Chaos Horizon.
To supplement the mainstream’s view of SFF, I also collate 10 different lists by SFF critics. Rules are the same: appear on a list, get 1 point.
For this list, I’ve been looking for SFF critics who are likely to reflect the tastes of the Hugo award voters. That way, my list will be as predictive as possible. I’m currently using some of the biggest SFF review websites, under the theory that they’re so widely read they’ll reflect broad voting tastes. These were Tor.com, the Barnes and Noble SF Blog, and io9.com.
For the other 7 sources on my list, I included semiprozines, fanzines, and podcasts that have recently been nominated for the Hugo award. The theory here is that if these websites/magazines were well enough liked to get Hugo noms, they likely reflect the tastes of the Hugo audience. Ergo, collating them will be predictive. This year, I used the magazines Locus Magazine and Strange Horizons, the fan websites Book Smugglers, Elitist Book Reviews, and Nerds of a Feather (to replace the closing Dribble of Ink; Nerds didn’t get a Hugo nom last year, but was close, and I need another website), and fancasts Coode Street Podcast and SF Signal Podcast.
(9) LOCAL APES MEETUP. The Damn Dirty Geeks’ second annual Planet of the Apes Day gathering to celebrate the classic 1968 film Planet of the Apes and “all its sequels, remakes and re-imaginings”takes place April 2 at the Idle Hour Cafe in North Hollywood, CA (map below) beginning at 5 p.m.
The organizers ask those planning to attend to RSVP on the Facebook event page and note that you plan to be there in person. Space is limited.
(10) IRISH ORIGINS DEBATED. According to the Washington Post, “A man’s discovery of bones under his pub could forever change what we know about the Irish”. (Tolkien is quoted in the article.)
From as far back as the 16th century, historians taught that the Irish are the descendants of the Celts, an Iron Age people who originated in the middle of Europe and invaded Ireland somewhere between 1000 B.C. and 500 B.C.
That story has inspired innumerable references linking the Irish with Celtic culture. The Nobel-winning Irish poet William Butler Yeats titled a book “Celtic Twilight.” Irish songs are deemed “Celtic” music. Some nationalists embraced the Celtic distinction. And in Boston, arguably the most Irish city in the United States, the owners of the NBA franchise dress their players in green and call them the Celtics.
Yet the bones discovered behind McCuaig’s tell a different story of Irish origins, and it does not include the Celts.
“The DNA evidence based on those bones completely upends the traditional view,” said Barry Cunliffe, an emeritus professor of archaeology at Oxford who has written books on the origins of the people of Ireland.
(11) A DIFFERENT PUPPY DISCUSSION. Sarah Hollowell has a dialogue with Chester the Corgi, in “Put Fat Girls in Your SFF YA” at Fantasy Literature.
Yeah, you’re right. Okay. Okay. Let’s go.
You’re a fat teenage girl, and you love YA. You especially love scifi and fantasy. Space? Hell yeah. Magic schools? Hell yeah. Magic schools in space? Sign you up. And everyone says dystopias are out of style, but you still can’t get enough. Got it?
So you read all these books, as many as you can, and it becomes difficult not to notice a pattern. You realize all the girls in all the books are just different kinds of skinny. You can’t for the life of you find a girl that looks like you. Books are supposed to help us dream and dream big but you’re starting to feel like you’re just too big to dream. You’ve read a couple books where fat girls get to be loved in the real world, and that’s wonderful, but fat girls don’t get whisked away into alternate worlds and told they’re a long lost princess. Fat girls don’t get to see the magical underside of New York City. Fat girls don’t save planets.
(12) DIED ON THIS DATE IN HISTORY
- March 19, 1950 — Edgar Rice Burroughs
- March 19, 2008 — Arthur C. Clarke
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- Born March 19, 1928 – Patrick McGoohan
(14) STARZ PRODUCTION OF GAIMAN NOVEL. In “’American Gods’ Casts Its Laura Moon”, The Hollywood Reporter says A Series of Unfortunate Events alum Emily Browning will take on the role in the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s fantasy novel.
(15) A METAPHOR FOR AN ANALOGY. “It’s Over Gandalf. We Need to Unite Behind Saruman to Save Middle Earth from Sauron!” at Daily Kos.
Gandalf had the crazy idea that some little hobbits could stand up to and defy the power of the billionaire class Dark Lord Sauron. But I guess that was a pipe dream after all.
Gandalf failed. He got his ass locked up atop Saruman’s tower when he foolishly defied the head of the Democratic Party council of wizards. And now that he’s locked up it’s not like some eagle is going to magically appear and rescue him. It’s over. And now Saruman is our only hope against Sauron.
We need to stop saying nasty things about Saruman or it will be difficult to rally the people of Middle Earth to his side. Here are some things we should no longer mention, or if we do, we should put a positive spin on them so people will still see Saruman is our only hope.
- Saruman’s Environmental Record: While it is true that Saruman has supported clear cutting huge ancient forests, and while an old hippie tree hugger like Treebeard might tell you lots of those trees were his friends, we ARE talking about trees here. And sure, Gandalf has a much better record on the environment but he’s done now. It’s time to focus on how much worse Sauron’s environmental record is. I mean, have you seen Mordor?
(16) A TREE FALLS IN THE WOODS. Alastair Reynolds, in “’Slow Bullets’ and Sad Puppies”, says his request to be removed from the SP4 List has not yet been posted in comments at Mad Genius Club.
I was away for a few days without internet access and discovered when I returned that my novella “Slow Bullets” has been included on the “SP4” Sad Puppies list for Hugo nominators. At this point it’s of no concern to me whether this is a slate or a set of recommendations. Given the taint left by last year’s antics, I don’t care for any work of mine to be associated with any list curated by the Sad Puppies. The list was announced at Kate Paulk’s website Madgeniusclub.com. Late last night I left a comment asking – politely, I hope – for the story to be removed, but after I checked the site in the morning I couldn’t find my comment and the story was still listed. I’ve tried to leave another comment to the same effect.
(17) ANTIQUE PREHENSILE. In the event someone wants to run out and buy a fanzine I published in 1973, with a 1973-appropriate Grant Canfield nude on the cover, Prehensile 10 is for sale on eBay. Since the seller doesn’t say what the contents I wondered if I remembered correctly. Checked my file copy — yes, that’s the issue with Jerry Pournelle’s article about how to reform the Worldcon, written the year he was President of SFWA. Lots of good stuff by Richard Wadholm, Bill Warren, Jerry Pournelle, Marc Schirmeister and others.
(18) INSIDE JOKES. A mash-up of references to Bewitched and Star Wars in this Brevity cartoon.
(19) ALL LIT UP. Darth Maul: Apprentice, a Star Wars fan film, is basically 20 minutes of lightsaber fights.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mark-kitteh, Martin Morse Wooster, Will R., and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Gregory N. Hullender.]