Science Fiction on Sunday Morning

Three new clips of interest to fans have been posted on CBS’ Sunday Morning website.

The first minute of Passages pays tribute to the late Richard Matheson.

And there are two segments of Anthony Mason’s interview of Stephen King. In one, the horror writer and executive producer of Under the Dome takes Mason on a tour of the set.  In the other, King answers questions about his writing and career, and explains why he pulled his novel Rage out of circulation.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

World Book Night U.S. Includes SF & F

World Book Night annually celebrates reading and books and next April 23 thousands of people in the U.S. as well as the U.K. and Ireland will go through their communities giving out free World Book Night paperbacks.

The 30 books chosen for this giveaway include well-known works of sf and fantasy – Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and Stephen King’s The Stand.

World Book Night began last year in the U.K. and will be expanded to additional countries in years to come.

The date, April 23, coincides with UNESCO’s World Book Day, selected due to the anniversary of Cervantes’ death, as well as Shakespeare’s birth and death.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Avast, Digital Mateys!

Ursula Le Guin, Stephen King, Harlan Ellison and Cory Doctorow all had something to say to the New York Times about digital piracy.

“The question is, how much time and energy do I want to spend chasing these guys,” Stephen King wrote in an e-mail message. “And to what end? My sense is that most of them live in basements floored with carpeting remnants, living on Funions and discount beer.”

And we know Cory Doctorow doesn’t follow Harlan Ellison’s policy of eternal vigilance and legal retribution, for this very simple reason:

“I really feel like my problem isn’t piracy,” Mr. Doctorow said. “It’s obscurity.”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter and Gary Farber for the link.]

Snapshots 19

Nine developments of interest to fans:

(1) The UK has academic fanzine collections, too. A BBC story “Fanzines enter pages of history” says “The National Library of Scotland is to embark on the laborious task of tracking down and cataloguing the countless thousands of fanzines published in the UK over the past 70 years.” That includes sf and fantasy zines. And the Beeb interviews Professor Chris Atton, whose fascination with music fanzines goes back decades.

(2) YouTube videos about Ray Bradbury’s play Falling Upward are linked here and here.

(3) Canadians, would you rather have Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, TV cop T.J. Hooker or Boston Legal lawyer Denny Crane running your country? Well this is your lucky day – you get all three if you accept William Shatner’s offer:

“The 77-year-old star said: ‘My intention is to be Prime Minister of Canada, not Governor General, which is mainly a ceremonial position.’”

(4) The Marvel Comics version of Stephen King’s The Stand is being sold only through comics stores, not bookstores. Publishers Weekly reports:

Faced with restrictions on the distribution of its much-anticipated comics adaptation of Stephen King’s post-apocalyptic bestseller, The Stand, Marvel Comics is working to turn them into a plus. After releasing the series in periodical form in the fall of last year, Marvel announced plans to release the hardcover graphic novel, The Stand: Captain Trips, on March 10 exclusively through the comics shop market.

(5) Jennifer Schuessler’s New York Times article asks:

These days, America is menaced by zombie banks and zombie computers. What’s next, a zombie Jane Austen?

In fact, yes. Minor pandemonium ensued in the blogosphere this month after Quirk Books announced the publication of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an edition of Austen’s classic juiced up with “all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem” by a Los Angeles television writer named Seth Grahame-Smith. (First line: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”)

(6) Cheryl Morgan draws an irresistible parallel between the “social grooming” of monkeys and bloggers:

People who study primate behavior apparently recognize a lot of what happens in social networks as “grooming”. And you know, that makes a lot of sense. Link love is essentially a grooming activity. Us low-status monkeys indulge in mutual grooming with people we think of as allies, and we groom high-status monkeys whom we admire and whose troop we wish to belong to. High status monkeys don’t need to groom others, but may do so to reward their followers.

Thanks for pointing that out. A bunch of bananas is on the way…

(7) Your one-stop shop for history and images of Ace Books.

(8) Dave Barnett has written an enoyable and insightful article for the Guardian on the reissue of John Crowley’s Little, Big

Little, Big spans several generations of the Drinkwater family and their relationship with the world of faerie. The concept is rescued from tweeness by author Crowley’s dazzling feats of aerobatics with the English language, which at first – especially in my tightly-typeset Methuen edition – take a bit of getting used to but, ultimately, draw you in and trap you with their beauty, not unlike the fabled world of faery itself.

(9) Artist Joy Alyssa Day, a friend of Diana’s and mine, is hard at work on a solid wood rocket ship:

The fins are finished! They were cut from solid cherry boards with my radial arm saw and trimmed up with my bandsaw. The blade on that could use some replacing…. Cherry is so hard that mostly the bandsaw blade just burns it while it’s trying to cut. Funny, burned cherry wood smells exactly like popcorn. Now I’m hungry!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster and David Klaus for the links they contributed to this article.]

 

Stephen King Has Opinions

Lorrie Lynch’s USA Today blog has Stephen King in the crosshairs:

King, whose Stephen King Goes to the Movies collection came out last week, doesn’t know how much of an influence he had on [Stephanie] Meyer, but he does know that Rowling read his stuff when she was younger. “I think that has some kind of formative influence the same way reading Richard Matheson had an influence on me,” King explains.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the link.]

How Horror Became an Industry

At Publishers Weekly, Rose Fox has some spellbinding things to say about “The Genre Formerly Known as Horror”:

Horror became a publishing category–a genre–sometime after Fred Mustard Stewart and Ira Levin had shown that a horror novel could be both good fiction and hugely best-selling. The cause was a phenomenon named Stephen King.  This is important, this understanding of King as a phenomenon. It’s something that the publishing world didn’t get. They saw the huge sales figures of Mr. King and determined that the well of horror must be bottomless and would make them wildly rich. 

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the link.]

Top 50 Novels of All Time Poll

Telegraph.co.uk has reported the results of Play.com’s poll to select The Greatest Novel of All Time. These things are always good for a laugh and a cry — many thanks to SF Awards Watch for posting the link.

With Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird at the top, Tolkien’s triology second and the first book in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series third, Play.com’s list appeals to my tastes far more strongly than most. But I was surprised to see some other bestselling authors make the list with novels that weren’t what I believed to be their most highly-respected works.

J.K. Rowling got on the board with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — not the Hugo-winning Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Stephen King is represented by It – not what I’d have guessed is his most popular book, and not my favorite (which is either The Stand or Salem’s Lot).

Popular lists tend to be dominated by the favorites of a determined minority of voters. For example, you can still visit Scifi.com’s poll of the 2003 Hugo nominees and see where Plokta outpolled Emerald City in the Best Fanzine category, 10,186 to 643. (Never mind that the eventual 2003 winner was Mimosa.)

There are lists of Greatest Novels all over the internet, but the pair posted by Random House’s Modern Library readily illustrate that every list seems to be the product of an agenda, especially in the internet age.

The Modern Library’s first list, composed by a board, follows canonical lines. James Joyce’s Ulysses and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man are numbers one and three. The rest of the list is dominated by the books English professors were assigning me as required reading when I was in college.

The Readers’ List,” on the other hand, is the result of a 1998 poll of the general public in which 217,520 votes were cast. Two novels by Ayn Rand head the list, two more of the top 10 are by L. Ron Hubbard, and elsewhere appear probably every novel written by Charles de Lint (certainly not a “Who?” but come on now…)

Popularly selected lists of “the greatest” are always a trainwreck. I’ve never forgotten the summer of 1975 when “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas was chosen the Greatest Song in the History of Rock’n'Roll by the listeners of CKLW – relegating to second place the more plausible candidate, “Hey, Jude” by The Beatles.