Remembering James H. Burns

James H. Burns and Steve Vertlieb at Sardi’s.

By Steve Vertlieb: With my dear pal and cherished friend, Jim Burns, over dinner at Sardi’s Restaurant in New York at Christmas, 2014. Jimmy was one of my closest buddies. He could always make me laugh. Jim was a gifted writer and actor, and could charm the ladies with just a mischievous smile. He was one of my greatest supporters and champions, and had pushed for years to get me a lifetime achievement award at the annual Rondo competition. He finally succeeded in his quest, and woke me from a sound sleep only a year ago to tell me that I’d finally been elected to the prestigious Rondo Award Hall of Fame. That was last April, 2016. Two months later Jimmy was gone. He died far, far too early, and too young on Thursday, June 3rd, 2016. Today would have been his birthday. I miss you every day, Jimmy. I miss the sound of your voice. I miss your incessant telephone calls from New York. I miss your terrible jokes, and I miss the sound of your laughter. I miss you. Happy Birthday in Heaven, Jim.

James H. Burns with Steve Vertlieb at Vertlieb’s 70th birthday party.

Together with one of my best pals at my 70th birthday bash here in Philadelphia on December 15th, 2015. James H. Burns was the picture of health when this photograph was taken. Jimmy was loved by men and by women alike. He was charming, and handsome. He was a gifted writer, film historian, and actor, and was one of the funniest men I ever knew. Just four months after this picture was taken, Jim grew ill. On June 3rd of last year, Jimmy passed away. He was a young man with everything to live for. Today would have been his birthday. I’m thinking of my friend, Jim Burns in Heaven just now. Happy Birthday, Jimmy. I’ll never forget you.

[Editor’s note: That image of a light shining brightest just before it goes out comes immediately to mind when I list all the posts Jim wrote here in his last six months.]

JAMES H. BURNS POSTS

OBITUARY

James H. Burns Has Died

A Close Encounter With John Wayne

By Steve Vertlieb: My brother Erwin and I had been listening to the “Red” Benson Show late one night in 1962 over WPEN Radio here in Philadelphia when Paramount Pictures was promoting its then new release from director Howard Hawks, Hatari. Red’s guests on that quite memorable radio program were “Red” Buttons (it was a scarlet evening), Bruce Cabot (King Kong leading man, Jack Driscoll), and a fella named Marion Michael Morrison…or John Wayne. It was a delightful interview with the cast of the newly-released summer escapist family adventure film which was to premiere locally the next morning at The Stanton Theater in downtown Philadelphia.

Erwin and I desperately wanted to see the new Wayne film, but wanted even more to see John Wayne in person. I determined that we could see the film at our local movie “palace,” The Benner Theater, but that this might be our only opportunity to ever see the “Duke” in person. So, rather than sit at the back of a packed movie house and catch merely a brief glimpse of the cast on a tiny distant stage, we resolved to go to the back of the movie theater and see them as they re-emerged from their special appearance.

At the outer entrance to the theater in the waiting alley was a tiny fleet of zebra striped jeeps awaiting their occupants return. As the door flew open, Red Buttons appeared, followed in quick succession by Bruce Cabot…and, at last, The “Duke” himself. I asked both Red Buttons and Bruce Cabot to sign my little autograph book. As the outer door to the movie theater swung open once more, I gasped…for there in front of me stood John Wayne, a giant mountain of a man literally towering over me. I was much too much in awe of this amazing super star and motion picture icon to do much of anything but watch him move gracefully from the theater to his jeep, but we did race to Independence Square on this July 4th holiday to watch him deliver his keynote address at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall that morning.

Some years later I wrote Wayne at his production company, “Batjac” Films (taken from the name of Luther Adler’s shipping company in Wayne’s Wake of the Red Witch), of that quite remarkable day, and of my lifelong love for both the man and his movies. This, then, is the letter that he was kind enough to write me in response.

The “Duke,” John Wayne, in his Oscar-winning characterization as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. I’d written of my affection for this wonderful actor to his production entity, “Batjac” Productions in Hollywood, and he was kind enough to respond with both a personally inscribed photograph and a lovely letter which I shall also post. While his politics may have been diametrically opposite from mine, both Erwin and I have maintained a lifelong love, admiration, and respect for the “Duke,” whose body of work in motion pictures places him easily, along with Gable, Cooper, Tracy, and Stewart, among the greatest stars in motion picture history. There will never be another John Wayne, nor shall we ever see his like again. He belongs to an era of Hollywood, sadly, “Gone With The Wind.”

Oh Captain, My Captain – Jim Kirk, Flash Gordon, Buzz Corey

By Steve Vertlieb: William Shatner, the iconic actor who first sailed the Star Ship Enterprise through three intergalactic seasons on NBC Television beginning September 8th, 1966, and starred in six Star Trek feature-length motion pictures, turned eighty-six years young recently. He was the valiant inspiration for millions of young boys and men for decades of thrilling cinematic heroism. I conducted, perhaps, the very first “fan” interview with William Shatner ever published during July, 1969, whilst the series was still being aired over NBC in its final re-runs, for the British magazine, L’Incroyable Cinema. He was both delightfully witty, and warm, sharing a memorable hour of his valuable time with us. Here are Erwin and I together with Captain James Tiberius Kirk outside his dressing room at The Playhouse In The Park where he was starring in a local Philadelphia Summer Stock production of “There’s A Girl In My Soup,” with Exodus star Jill Hayworth.

Together with boyhood hero and cherished friend, Buster Crabbe, here in Philadelphia in 1979. On this particular occasion, Buster and I had dinner together in “Chinatown.” Although Jack Nicholson was nowhere to be found, Buster playfully emptied the remains of some his dinner into my plate, insisting that I “Eat, Eat, Eat.” My Jewish mother would have been proud. Buster, along with Ed Kemmer and William Boyd, was among my earliest childhood heroes. Buster and I were good friends over the last two decades of his life, and I remain honored to think of myself as one of Flash Gordon’s pals. Knowing him personally was a thrill beyond imagining. My affectionate remembrance of Larry “Buster” Crabbe, and “Fantastic” children’s television during the 1950’s, has been nominated as “Best Blog of the Year” under the heading of Better Days, Benner Nights in the annual Rondo Awards.

Steve Vertlieb and Buster Crabbe.

Together with one of my earliest boyhood heroes and role models, Ed Kemmer, who starred as Commander Buzz Corey of the “Space Patrol”, broadcast every Saturday morning on ABC Television in the mid 1950’s. He also co-starred with William Shatner in “Nightmare At 20,000 Feet,” the original classic episode of The Twilight Zone written by Richard Matheson. Shatner’s own Star Trek series was heavily influenced by Ed’s Space Patrol, as well as MGM’s Forbidden Planet. After this initial meeting, Ed and I remained friends through correspondence until his passing. He loved Sinatra, and so I’d periodically record tapes of Francis Albert for him, and send them to his apartment in New York. Ed remained conspicuously among the few stars refusing to accept compensation for posing for pictures or signing autographs. He felt that charging money for his image would be a betrayal of the millions of children who made him so popular during the nineteen fifties. He was not only a tv hero, but a real hero, as well. During the second world war, Ed was a pilot who had been shot down behind enemy lines and imprisoned as a POW. He was quite a remarkable human being, both on screen and off.

Steve Vertlieb with Ed Kemmer, who played Cmdr. Buzz Corey in Space Patrol.

Happy Birthday, William Shatner

By Steven J. Vertlieb: William Shatner, the iconic actor who first sailed the Star Ship Enterprise through three intergalactic seasons on NBC Television beginning September 8, 1966, and starred in six Star Trek feature-length motion pictures, turns eighty-six years young today. He was the valiant inspiration for millions of young boys and men for decades of thrilling cinematic heroism. I conducted, perhaps, the very first “fan” interview with William Shatner ever published during July 1969, whilst the series was still being aired over NBC in its final re-runs, for the British magazine, L’Incroyable Cinema. He was both delightfully witty, and warm, sharing a memorable hour of his valuable time with us. Here are Erwin and I together with Captain James Tiberius Kirk outside his dressing room at The Playhouse In The Park where he was starring in a local Philadelphia Summer Stock production of “There’s A Girl In My Soup,” which co-starred Exodus star Jill Hayworth. Wishing James Tiberius Kirk a joyous, healthy, and especially “spacial” Happy 86th Birthday.

Issue No. 2 of The Monster Times, America’s premiere Creature Feature bi-weekly tabloid” (1972) that featured my cover story and interview with William Shatner (reprinted from my original 1969 L’Incroyable Cinema Magazine article). Quoting Jim Kirk at the conclusion of Nicholas Meyer’s Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, when questioned by “Bones” about how he felt on his birthday, he said…”I Feel…YOUNG.” Wishing the iconic Bill Shatner, A.K.A. Captain Kirk, a spectacular 86th Birthday. May you remain forever young.

King Kong: The Evolution, History, and Cultural Significance of a Legendary Motion Picture

By Steve Vertlieb: Here’s my look back at the three major motion picture productions of King Kong, encompassing the beloved original 1933 RKO classic, a primeval variation of “Beauty and the Beast” created by Merian C. Cooper; John Guillermin’s ill-fated 1976 remake from Paramount Pictures; and Peter Jackson’s massive, spectacular 2005 release. As Kong: Skull Island commences its own singular assault on movie theaters across the world, let’s take another affectionate look back at the evolution and history of…”Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World.”

My article “’A Triple Life’ – King Kong’s Trinity of Reincarnation on Film” was a Rondo Award nominee. More than dry cinema history, it’s an energetic multi-media feast incl. film and music clips from the 1933, 1976 and 2005 films; audio commentary by Ray Harryhausen & Ken Ralston; archival video interviews, photos and more.

The GIRL in the HAIRY PAW
art by Dave Willardson
copyright Richard H. Childers Productions

“The Girl In The Hairy Paw,” edited by Ronald Gottesman and Harry M. Geduld, published by Avon Books in 1976, was actually the very first book ever devoted in its entirety to Merian C. Cooper’s immortal 1933 motion picture “King Kong.” “The Making of King Kong” by Orville Goldner and George Turner preceded it to the marketplace, but “The Girl In The Hairy Paw” had been in production and development since 1972 when it had originally been scheduled for release by Prentice Hall. A change in management at the publisher scrapped the then imminent release, and sent the book’s editors looking for a new publisher. Both Harry and Ron had seen my own series of articles concerning the evolution and production of King Kong in the premiere issue of the New York tabloid The Monster Times, and visited my home in Philadelphia to talk with me about adapting my work for a more formal inclusion in their forthcoming volume, which was to be the first book ever devoted exclusively to the immortal fantasy adventure thriller. Finally, Avon Books in New York City purchased the rights to publish the book with exclusive pictorial content largely derived my own collection of King Kong memorabilia, and the beloved volume reached book shelves at last in 1976.

The Monster Times Magazine #1 [1972] Monster Times Publishing corp. KING KONG COVER. The World’s First Newspaper of Horror, Sci-Fi and Fantasy! This issue: The Men Who Saved Kong! Mushroom Monsters! The End of the World! Bonus – Monster-Sized Color Poster Inside! Cover art by Gray Morrow. Cover price $1.00.

This was my first professional gig, writing the cover story for the premiere issue of The Monster Times, a then experimental bi-weekly tabloid newspaper, published in New York City by Larry Brill and Les Waldstein, edited by Chuck McNaughton, and devoted exclusively to horror, sci-fi, fantasy films. This was Gray Morrow’s spectacular cover art for the 1972 debut of the beloved tabloid, featuring the beginning of my series of articles (“The Men Who Saved King Kong”) chronicling the making and production of the greatest “Monster” movie of all time…the original 1933 King Kong. I later formalized and polished my essays on “Kong,” which became the lead chapter for Avon Books’ groundbreaking 1976 volume, The Girl InThe Hairy Paw.

Spent a delightful afternoon with Fay Wray in her Century City, California apartment in the summer of 1975, during which time we talked about everything related to her most cherished film, the magnificent King Kong. She delighted in recounting tales of the filming of her most famous motion picture and signature performance, and was quite willing to discuss both Merian C. Cooper and Robert Armstrong, but declined to talk about her romantic lead in “Kong,” Bruce Cabot. On a related note, Cabot was the only member of the starring team of performers not mentioned at the conclusion of the end credits for Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake of “King Kong.”

One of the giants of cinema, and founders of early filmdom…the head of RKO Studios upon the departure of David O Selznick…Brigadier General in the United States Airforce…war hero…reporter for the New York Times…co-founder of Pan American Airlines…adventurer/documentary film maker…co-producer and partner of John Ford…and the creator, producer, author, and co-director of the original King Kong… Merian C. Cooper. “Coop” and I maintained an intense, intimate correspondence for the last eight years of his life. After his death, I shared a memorable afternoon with his widow, Dorothy Jordan, and son Richard Cooper, looking over rare “Kong” memorabilia, including his original shooting script for the picture cluttered with his handwritten notes and instructions, and the famous illustration given to “Coop” at Christmas, 1932, by the cast and crew showing the director in caricature yelling “Make It Bigger…Make It Bigger.”

A personal inscription from the creator, co-producer and co-director of the original King Kong in which he amusingly relates that he was, in fact, the “Old Arabian” who authored the legendary proverb which so tantalizingly opens the film…”And the beast looked upon the face of beauty, and stayed its hand from killing, and from that day forth was as one dead.”

A personally inscribed autograph from the great Merian C. Cooper, the creator of King Kong.

With beloved King Kong historian and American Cinematographer journalist George Turner when George and I were the invited guest speakers at the sixtieth anniversary King Kong retrospective held at The Gateway Theater in Chicago during the Winter of 1993. Co-sponsored by Turner Entertainment, the well-publicized event drew some five hundred fans to the anniversary screening and presentation. George was a truly lovely man, and brilliant film historian. We shared the stage that day so very long ago in 1993, answering questions about “Kong” from the enthusiastic audience, and screening a wonderful print of the movie on the giant Gateway Theater screen. George and I stayed at The Chicago Hilton over that memorable weekend, just days after Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, and the crew of The Fugitive had departed the hotel.

With the new big budget re-imagining of King Kong opening across the country, here’s an early drawing by artist Tim Johnson which accompanied an article I’d written for a 1977 issue of George Stover’s Black Oracle Magazine, concerning Paramount’s disastrous 1976 Dino De Laurentiis remake of “Kong.” Tim was kind enough to illustrate the striking cover art for my tongue in cheek critique of the ill-advised film, which I so aptly titled “Twas Dino Killed The Beast.” Tim’s stunning portrait, specially commissioned for our magazine those forty years ago, was a spectacular precursor of the talent and career that this gifted artist would become recognized for over the ensuing four decades.

 

Pixel Scroll 3/9/17 ‘Is There Anyone There?’ Said The Pixeler, Knocking On The Moonlit Scroll.

(1) DINOS DOUBLE DOWN. Jurassic Park 2, planned for release in 2018, is starting to crank up its publicity machinery 

(2) BLOGGERS STICK TOGETHER. Steve Vertlieb reminds me his blog Better Days, Benner Nights, is up for a Rondo Award as Best Blog of 2016.

It’s an affectionate remembrance of the Saturday Matinee and 1950’s television when classic cliffhanger serials thrilled and excited “children of all ages”… when careening spaceships and thundering hooves echoed through the revered imaginations and hallowed corridors of time and memory…and when Buster Crabbe lovingly brought “Flash Gordon,” “Buck Rogers,” and “Captain Gallant Of The Foreign Legion” to life in darkened movie palaces all over the world. Return with us now to “those thrilling days of yesteryear” when Zorro, “Space Patrol,” Ming, The Merciless, and Larry “Buster” Crabbe lit the early days of television, and Saturday afternoon motion picture screens, with magical imagery and unforgettable excitement.

Anyone can vote in the Rondos – see the nominees here —  just send your selection (along with your name and E-Mail address) to David Colton whose voting address is taraco@aol.com prior to Sunday night, April 16th, 2017, at midnight.

(3) TO THE MOON. A Business Insider writer says we’re getting close to having a Google Lunar XPrize winner.

A real lunar race that has been in the making for years is now in the final stretch.

The Google Lunar XPrize Foundation recently announced five final teams that will compete for the honor of being the first private group to land on the moon — and a $20 million prize.

The Google Lunar XPrize is more than pronouncements by Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. It will prove the utility of commercial lunar exploration.

Sometime before the end of 2017, one or more of the final five groups will shoot for the moon. The Final Five are Moon Express, SpaceIl, Synergy Moon, Team Indus, and Team Hakuto.

All the winning team has to do to gain the prize is to cross a quarter of a million miles of space, soft land on the lunar surface, return high resolution videos and images to Earth, and move 500 meters from the landing site.

(4) UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. Cat Rambo is grieving the loss of her cat Raven.

I record the notes of my grief: my eyes feeling as though filled with hot sand, the tired and lonely ache inside my heart, the way my throat hardens,  my vision blurring more at the bottom than the top when tears well. The wet tremble as they linger on my cheeks. It’s the only thing I can think to do.

(5) IT’S COMPLICATED. Paul La Farge writes about “The Complicated Friendship of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert Barlow, One of His Biggest Fans” in The New Yorker.

On June 18, 1931, a young man named Robert Barlow mailed a letter to the horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft’s stories about monstrous beings from beyond the stars were appearing regularly in the pulp magazine Weird Tales, and Barlow was a fan. He wanted to know when Lovecraft had started writing, what he was working on now, and whether the Necronomicon—a tome of forbidden knowledge that appears in several Lovecraft tales—was a real book. A week later, Lovecraft wrote back, as he nearly always did. It’s estimated that he wrote more than fifty thousand letters in his relatively short lifetime (he died at the age of forty-six). This particular letter was the beginning of a curious friendship, which changed the course of Barlow’s life, and Lovecraft’s, too—though almost no one who reads Lovecraft these days knows anything about it. Who keeps track of the lives of fans?

Raises hand.

(6) CARNEGIE AND GREENAWAY LONGLISTS. The longlists for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medals have been announced.

The Carnegie Medal, established in 1936, is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book for children. The Kate Greenaway Medal has been given since 1955 for distinguished illustration in a book for children.

Locus Online identified the following as titles of genre interest:

Carnegie Medal

  • Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth, Frank Cottrell Boyce (Pan Macmillan)
  • Whisper to Me, Nick Lake (Bloomsbury)
  • Beetle Boy, M.G. Leonard (Chicken House)
  • Beck, Mal Peet & Meg Rosoff (Walker)
  • Railhead, Philip Reeve (Oxford University Press)
  • Orbiting Jupiter, Gary D. Schmidt (Andersen)
  • Island, Nicky Singer (Caboodle)
  • Time Travelling with a Hamster, Ross Welford (HarperCollins)

Greenaway Medal

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay (Bloomsbury)

The shortlists will be announced on March 16, and winners will be announced June 19.

(7) ALETA JACKSON OBIT. Loretta Jackson Delong, known in fandom as Aleta Jackson, died December 4, 2016.

Aleta worked for Xerox for ten years as a repair technician and wrote both science fiction and non-fiction stories. She worked for the L-5 Society, both in Tucson and later in Washington DC. During her stay in DC, Aleta became an aide to General Daniel Graham and helped create the DC-X launch vehicle, later renamed the Clipper Graham. She also edited the Journal of Practical Applications of Space while with Graham’s Strategic Defense Initiative Organization.

As an indefatigable supporter of launch vehicle development, Aleta then became one of Rotary Rocket Company’s first employees, where she was general office manager. When the propulsion group was laid off from Rotary, Aleta was the person who told Jeff Greason, Dan DeLong, and Doug Jones that they had to stick with it, and founded XCOR Aerospace.

I first met her at NOLAcon II in 1988. Years later, when she was at XCOR and I was organizing Loscon program we crossed paths again.

(8) WELCOME ABOARD. “’Star Trek: Discovery’ Finds Its Captain In Jason Isaacs” reports Deadline Hollywood.

Former Awake and Dig star Jason Isaacs has been cast in Star Trek: Discovery for CBS All Access as Captain Lorca, Captain of the Starship Discovery. It is a major role opposite lead Sonequa Martin- Green in the series, which eyes a debut in late summer or fall….

Isaacs’ recently co-starred in the Netflix mystery drama series The OA and will next be seen in Weinstein Co.’s Hotel Mumbai and Armando Iannucci’s Death of Stalin.

(9) FACE THE TRUTH. Wesley Chu, the Edison of digital publishing, has invented a new service for authors.

(10) ANOTHER GAME OF THRONES CASUALTY? The Azure Window of Malta collapsed into the sea after a recent storm. The Azure Window was a backdrop for the wedding of Daenerys Targaryen, a recurring character played by Emilia Clarke, to Khal Drogo, portrayed by Jason Momoa, in the first episode in mid-2011.

(11) TRASH BECOMES TREASURE, AGAIN. Atlas Obscura says they were hidden in a circulation chamber in an old Chicago theater — “Found: A Treasure Trove of Candy Wrappers Dating Back to the Depression”. Pictures over there.

Eric Nordstrom of Urban Remains has been exploring Chicago’s Congress Theater, which was built in 1926 and is currently under renovation. Earlier this year, Nordstrom, whose business reclaims objects from old buildings, started working his way through the old theater, finding newspapers, pipes, tools, and blueprints left there since the 1920s.

Recently, he returned to the theater, and this time, as DNAInfo reports, he found a trove of candy wrappers and matchbooks that date back to the theater’s earliest years.

(12) WHEN MAN PURSUETH. Motherboard says the “Anti-Social ‘Shybot’ Rolls Around the Sonoran Desert, Running Away From Humans”.

We’re all afraid of our future robot overlords, but what if those robots were afraid of us, too?

Over the course of the last week, California’s Coachella Valley hosted a strange, anti-social visitor. Its name was Shybot, a six-wheeled rover whose only purpose in life is to roam the Sonoran desert avoiding humans at all costs.

(13) A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. In “This Land of Mine Revised” on Vimeo, Nina Paley updates the classic song from Exodus to show the bloody history of the Middle East.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Rambo, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]

Pixel Scroll 3/6/17 Holy Pixels, Scrollman!

(1) FAME AND FORTUNE. Mark Lawrence, who contends there is a close correlation between the number of Goodreads reviews a book has and sales, has created a series of graphs that illustrate the number of GR reviews received by various segments of top-selling fantasy books.

The level to which A Game of Thrones outsells the rest of the field is quite staggering, particularly when the publication date means this difference will *increase* significantly when converting figures to a sales estimate.

But when we widen the field of that fantasy lens still further to include urban fantasy, paranormal romance fantasy, YA fantasy, literary fantasy and fantasy written for children… even the mighty GRRM is dwarfed.

(2) BAD NEIGHBORS. In The Australian, James Bradley reviews Stephen Baxter’s Massacre of Mankind, where H.G. Wells’s Martians come again.

As before, the attack begins in England. This time the Martians arrive in greater numbers, establishing a beachhead and overwhelming Britain’s armed forces. But this is only the first phase. With England secured, a second wave arrives, attacking cities around the world with ruthless and terrifying efficiency.

At his best Baxter produces big-picture Clarkean science fiction of a very high order. And while he could never be accused of being a high stylist, novels such as his Xeelee sequence or his recent Flood/Ark and Proxima/Ultima duologies are exhilaratingly accomplished exercises in hard science fiction. The Massacre of Mankind is a more intimate creation, and perhaps because of that takes obvious pleasure not just in pastiching Wells’s style, but the science and technology of the original novel’s setting.

Baxter has huge fun imagining a solar system informed by the theories of the “discoverer” of the Martian canals, Percival Lowell, and others about planetary evolution.

The narrative structure of the original, in particular the extended prelude to the actual attack, lends it a gorgeous elegiac power. While the decision to reproduce that here makes The Massacre of Mankind overlong, the intertextuality is frequently surprisingly entertaining. This is most evident in flourishes such as the complaints of several characters about the inaccuracy of Walter’s original account (and the almost-cameos by the “man of the future”, Wells himself), but it has its serious side as well.

(3) REBOOT. Dean Wesley Smith says Pulphouse Fiction Magazine is coming back.

As you can see from the pictures, we are doing an Issue Zero again this time that will be limited and part of a Kickstarter later in the summer. First issue comes out in January 2018 and the magazine will be quarterly, with about 70,000 words of short fiction every issue. It will be the size and shape of Smith’s Monthly.

I will be mixing some of the stories from the old Pulphouse days along with brand new fiction. I figured most of those older stories have long been forgotten and they need a new life. For each story we will push the author information and be clear to the reader if the story is new or if a reprint, where the story was originally published.

The magazine will have an attitude, as did the first run. No genre limitations, but high quality writing and strangeness.

(3) THE BOOK IS CLOSED. I reported yesterday that three actors are leading the wagering as favorites to become the next Doctor Who. Now Den of Geek says one has become such a popular choice that one UK bookmaker has stopped taking bets on him.

Peter Capaldi is leaving Doctor Who at the end of the year, and incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall is the man tasked with finding his replacement in the TARDIS.

As ever, it’s tough to put much stock in what bookies say on the matter. But, nonetheless, the latest story to emerge from Ladbrokes is an interesting one: they’ve stopped taking bets on Kris Marshall landing the gig.

The My Family, BT adverts and Death In Paradise star, who recently left his role in the latter, has become such a favourite with punters that Ladbrokes have decided to pull the plug and stop accepting bets.

“A surge of punters have backed Marshall so we’ve had no choice but to close the book,” Ladbrokes’ Alex Donohue told the – sigh – Daily Mail. (You really don’t have to click that link and show them any support.)

“If he does get the gig,” Donohue added, “the bookies will be exterminated first.”

…The bets-being-suspended-on-Kris-Marshall story in no way confirms that he, or anyone, has got the part.

(4) DATLOW BOUND FOR ANTIPODES. Every year Canberra-based SFF fans “get together to celebrate everything creepy, geeky and fantastical” at Conflux, and the lucky International Guest of Honour at Conflux 13 will be Ellen Datlow.

We have to keep pinching ourselves to make sure this is real, but (deep breath) Conflux 13 is bringing none other than Ellen Datlow to Australia!!!

Ellen Datlow has been editing science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction for over thirty-five years as fiction editor of OMNI Magazine and editor of Event Horizon and SCIFICTION. She currently acquires short fiction for Tor.com. In addition, she has edited more than ninety science fiction, fantasy, and horror anthologies, including the annual The Best Horror of the Year, Lovecraft’s Monsters, Fearful Symmetries, The Doll Collection, The Monstrous, Children of Lovecraft, Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror, and Black Feathers.  Forthcoming are, Hallows’ Eve (with Lisa Morton), and Mad Hatters and March Hares (stories inspired by Alice’s Adventures in in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There).

Conflux 13 will be held September 29-Ocober 2 in Canberra.

(5) FIGHT TO THE FINISH. Unbound Worlds brings back Cage Match. Mark-kitteh comments: “SF character cage matches. I think the Dune sandworm is a bit of a ringer though – how would they even get it in the cage?”

What the hell is Cage Match?

Great question. A long time ago, on an internet far, far away, there was a website called Suvudu, which had been founded by some editors at Del Rey as a place to nerd out about sci-fi and fantasy. In the barely remembered year 2010, those editors decided it’d be a real kick to pit their favorite SF/F characters against each other in a fight to the death, and it’d be even MORE of a kick if they brought in some authors to write short scenes illustrating how they thought those fights might play out. And on top of that, they invited users to come vote on the outcome of those fights.

And apparently you all liked it, because we’re still doing it seven years later.

(6) OSBORNE OBIT. TCM’s Robert Osborne is mourned by Steve Vertlieb:

Robert Osborne passed away this morning at age 84. He’d been in ill health for some time. Robert was the face of Turner Classic Movies since its inception, and was a wonderful fountain of enthusiasm, sincerity, and palpable adoration of classic cinema. Those of us who watched the cable movie channel these countless years came to look upon Robert as a friend, a tireless champion of the arts, and as the very definition of integrity. We all knew that he’d been ill, but were afraid to ask about his telling absence of late from the network. A true motion picture historian, Osborne’s warmth and passion for films and their creators will be sorely missed by movie lovers everywhere. Rest In Peace, Robert. Your own star shall shine ever brightly among a luminescent galaxy of stars.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • March 6, 1928 — William F. Nolan

(8) CREATED IN 7 DAYS. Skyboat Media wants to raise $7,000 via Kickstarter to create an 11-hour audiobook of Queers Destroy Science Fiction.

With your help, if we can fund in 7 days, Skyboat will be able to produce an 11 hour digital audiobook for you of the short story and flash fiction portions of Lightspeed Magazine‘s QUEERS DESTROY SCIENCE FICTION! It will be a glorious vocal celebration of inclusivity, diversity and all things science fiction-y!

KICKSTARTER’S ALL in 1: We are doing this for only one week. Our project is aligned with Kickstarter’s theme of 1s and 0s; this means we are offering only digital rewards.

The book was published by Hugo winning anthologist John Joseph Adams and guest edited by Seanan McGuire.

So far they have raised $1,263 of the $7,000 goal.

(9) CASTING CLASH. At ComicsBeat Heidi MacDonald tracks the issue — “Finn Jones leaves Twitter after trying to explain why a white Iron Fist isn’t problematic to an Asian person”.

Don’t get me wrong, Jones has a right to talk about his show, but when he explained to an Asian person, Geeks of Color’s Creative Director, Asyiqin Haron, how to feel about race…he got busted whitesplaining. Then, when the heat got too much for him, Jones just deleted his twitter account.

Pretty much the same thing happened when Tilda Swinton and Margaret Cho had a tense email exchange over the Ancient One

(10) FAUX-MEN COMICS. Trae Dorn at Nerd & Tie says “The Fake X-Men Comics From ‘Logan’ Are Incredible”.

When Logan director James Mangold asked Marvel comics if he could include X-Men comics in the final Hugh Jackman Wolverine installment, he was told he could as long as they weren’t any real comic books. To create the old-school style books for the movie then, Mangold reached out to Joe Quesada and Dan Panosian to create the pages of the books for the movie….

They’re all, frankly, fantastic, and really capture the feel of the X-Men books from the 1980s. I love the way they look just close enough while retaining a slightly off aesthetic letting you know this is another world. It just adds to the fabric of a world which just feels lived in.

There’s a gallery with the post.

(11) THE FLAW IN THE OINTMENT. It’s a hell of a lot more entertaining when somebody else is on the receiving end of these pleonasms. Jonathan McCalmont unleashes “Rabid Cuddlers” at Ruthless Culture.

…Unfortunately for the puppies, while it must have been comically easy to convince a bunch of teenaged nihilists to troll the Hugo awards, it was never going to be easy to convince basement-dwelling trolls to set aside their Japanese pornography long enough to read a bunch of over-written Catholic fantasy novels. The fact that Gamergaters turned up to harass liberals but didn’t stick around to spend money explains why prominent puppies have  downplayed their involvement, decreased their ambitions, and failed to step back from the movement in time and wound up being forced to repeatedly beg for financial support from their dwindling fanbase…

…The puppies’ experiences as nerd-fuhrers may well come to define their adult lives but their flirtations with moral entrepreneurship failed to secure them the kind of following that might provide access to the lucrative world of conservative cultural commentary. Even worse, their attempts to cultivate a right-wing alternative to the stuttering multiculturalism of mainstream genre spaces appears to have resulted in little more than a handful of underwhelming blogs supporting the work of a few self-publishing authors….

…The social and ideological instabilities of the puppy movement should come as no surprise once you realise the gulf that separates adolescent edge-lords  from a bunch of stupid old men who want fandom to go back to the way it was in 1953. What is surprising is the speed at which a movement whose ruthlessness once made international news has been reduced to bleating about politeness and passing out internet hugs. Liberal genre culture may be ponderous, self-serving, and morally confused but it was never quite that pathetic….

(12) ABOUT. Who doesn’t enjoy a flash of humor at the end of an author bio? Here’s the last line of Kendare Blake’s

She lives and writes in Kent, Washington, with her husband, their two cat sons (Tybalt and Tyrion Cattister) and their red Doberman dog son, Obi Dog Kenobi.

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

Steve Vertlieb Recalls His 2016 Rondo Hall of Fame Award

David Colton and Steve Vertlieb

By Steve Vertlieb: David Colton has announced the nominations for this year’s slate of recipients for the prestigious Rondo Awards, honoring the very best in “fantastic” creativity, comprising imaginative cinema, television, books, magazines, and art.

I shall always remember with both pride and honor the very special moment less than a year ago when, on Saturday evening, June 4th, 2016, I was awarded Rondo’s highest honor…the Rondo “Hall of Fame” in recognition of a lifetime of journalism and publishing. That wondrous evening will always stand out as, perhaps, the most memorable night of my own seventy-one years.

With that thought in mind, I’d like to take a moment to wish all of this year’s worthy nominees the same fortune and good luck that made my own special night so memorable in 2016. Wishing each of this year’s worthy nominees God speed and sublime recognition of your work and inspiration.

 

Remembering Jerry Goldsmith on His Birthday

By Steve Vertlieb: Here’s a personal letter from Jerry Goldsmith in response to an article I’d written about him for Cinemacabre Magazine nearly four decades ago.

I’d left a message with his housekeeper, requesting some photos of him with which to illustrate the article. He telephoned me at home some twelve hours later, and was most gracious and cordial in our conversation, offering to ship out a package of stills once he’d received them from his photographer. I pinch myself to this day, recalling that I’d actually received an intimate telephone call from Jerry.

Our brief association so many years ago remains a cherished memory, and certainly a highlight of my own life and experience. Today, February 10th, would have been Jerry’s 88th Birthday. Remembering a very special man…and a very great composer.

[With apologies to Steve, we’re going to pretend I posted this when I received it from him yesterday, instead of being late, like Goldsmith himself, who passed away in 2004.]

Today’s Birthday Maestro: John Williams Turns 85

Simply one of the greatest moments of my life… Meeting John Williams for the very first time in his dressing room at The Hollywood Bowl in late August, 2010.

By Steve Vertlieb: There’s simply no other way to say it. This is one of the greatest single photographs of my seventy-one years. The time was late August, 2010. The place was inside the dressing rooms at The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California.

I discovered motion picture and television music in the late 1950’s, and had quickly become a passionate proponent of this wondrous art form. It was in 1959 that I’d first heard, or seen the name Johnny Williams. The program was a weekly detective series on CBS Television called Checkmate, and I immediately fell in love with its musical theme. A year later in 1960, I first heard the lilting strains of the music for Alcoa Premiere, a weekly anthology series for ABC Television hosted by Fred Astaire. It wasn’t long after that Wide Country debuted on NBC Television, and it too featured a wonderful accompanying score by Johnny Williams.

Over the next half century, I came to know and love the wonderful music of Johnny…then John Williams. I’d written published articles about him in books, magazines, journals and ultimately online. I’d written him numerous “fan” letters to a variety of locations over the ensuing decades, but to no avail. After the deaths of Ray Harryhausen and Ray Bradbury who both became cherished friends over many years, John Williams was my very last living lifelong hero. I’d finally come to the sad realization that I was never going to find an opportunity to meet him.

John Williams, Juliet Rozsa, and Steve Vertlieb in 2010.

And then, merely five months after life threatening major open heart surgery in March 2010, and due entirely to the efforts and loyalty of cherished friend Juliet Rozsa, I walked backstage to the dressing rooms at The Hollywood Bowl in late August, 2010…a year that I did not expect to survive…and stood next to John Williams for the very first time. When he put his arms around my shoulders, I forced back tears of gratitude, and of joy. It was one of the happiest nights of my life in a year that I didn’t expect to complete. It was wonderful to be alive. Today is John Williams’ birthday. He is eighty-five years young. Happy Birthday, Maestro. God Bless You, both for your wonderful music…and for your even more gracious kindness.