South Pasadena Library Honors Ray Bradbury with Free Screening of “It Came From Outer Space”

By Steve Fjeldsted, South Pasadena Library Director: The Fifties sci-fi classic It Came From Outer Space will be screened on Thursday, October 18 at 7 p.m. in the South Pasadena Library Community Room.  The remarkable, highly influential film, Ray Bradbury’s first, was released in the brand new 3-D technology to theaters in 1953.

The Library will be screening the flat, non 3-D version,’ but it will be projected onto a giant film festival type screen and professional sound equipment will be used.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for the event which will also showcase a mini-exhibit of Bradbury-related artwork., courtesy of Ray’s friends and associates Robert Kerr, Dave Marchant, and John King Tarpinian who will also offer brief, insightful introductory remarks before the film that was released in 1953 when the iconic author had just burst into public adulation with his The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451.

The Library Community Room is located at 1115 El Centro Street in South Pasadena.

No tickets or reservations are necessary and refreshments will be served.  An opportunity drawing for door prizes including Bradbury paperbacks and Mars and Milky Way candy bars will be conducted.

The event is presented by the South Pasadena Public Library and the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library with special thanks to 210eastsound, Videotheque, and Movie Licensing USA. For more information, please call 626 403-7350 or check www.southpasadenaca.gov/library.

It Came from Outer Space marked Bradbury’s initial foray into writing for movies. Ray wrote a story treatment entitled “The Meteor” and submitted it to Universal which hired him to expand it and he delivered a finished screenplay. According to Bradbury in his anthology They Came from Outer Space, he wrote it for the “grand sum of $3000.”

Portrait of Ray Bradbury, taken September 10, 2009

The success of It Came from Outer Space, Universal’s first 3-D film, led Bradbury to pen other screenplays, including Moby Dick –co-written with John Huston and an Oscar®-winner in 1956, as well as film versions of his own works. The South Pasadena Library has screened many of these and has been continuously developing its Bradbury collection since his passing. It now consists of more than 100 checkout books and DVDs and the special ‘reference only’ collection for the Ray Bradbury Conference Room has received about 200 very special donations that are starting to appear in its locked cases.

Dave Marchant of Alhambra, a friend and associate of Bradbury’s, once a resident in South Pasadena, met the author at a library more than 20 years ago. Marchant was already an avid sci-fi fan who knew and admired Forrest Ackerman and George Clayton Johnson. Dave had attended Cal State LA and was writing stories that eventually were inspired by Bradbury’s encouragement. Marchant at times “chauffeured” Bradbury to his appearances at bookstores and libraries, becoming a serious Bradbury collector in the process. Today, Dave Marchant is a frequent user of the South Pasadena Library and has donated more than 100 rare books, DVDs, audios, press kits, posters, and more to the library in honor his friend and mentor.

Free parking is available at the Mission-Meridian Parking Garage, located at 805 Meridian Avenue after noon adjacent to the Metro Gold Line Station, only one block from the Library.

Today’s Birthdays 10/4

Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ:

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

Born October 4, 1904 – Eando Binder is a pen name used by writers Earl Andrew Binder (1904–1965) and his brother Otto Binder (1911–1974). The name is derived from their first initials. Under that name, they wrote many genre fiction stories, some of which featured a heroic robot named Adam Link; the first of these stories, published in 1939, was “I, Robot”. Although Isaac Asimov was heavily influenced by the Binder stories, a story collection of his in 1950 would be published with that name against his wishes. By 1939, Otto had taken over all of the writing, leaving his brother as his agent. Under his own name, Otto wrote for the Captain Marvel books published by Fawcett Comics in the 40s and early 50s, and the Superman comics for DC Comics for twenty years starting in the late 40s.

Born October 4, 1909 – Samuel Mines, Writer and Editor, who published a handful of his own short stories in the late 40s before going on to edit numerous genre magazines in the first half of the 1950s, including Fantastic Story Magazine, Space Stories (these had complete novels in them!), Startling Stories in both the US and UK, Thrilling Wonder Stories in both the US and UK, and Wonder Story Annual.

Born October 4, 1917 – Donn P. Brazier, Writer, Editor, and Fan. As the ever-useful Fancyclopedia 3 says, “St. Louis faned Donn Paul Brazier published the well-known fanzine Title from 1972-1977 and Farrago from 1975 to 1978. He also published Frontier, Googol, Reverb Howl, and Natterings.” The same source goes on to say that he “was among the earliest fans to use a photocopier for publishing his fanzine instead of the then-usual mimeograph. He was director of the Museum of Science and Natural History in St. Louis. The museum contracted for photocopying service with a specific number of copies each month, and Brazier used the surplus left after museum business to pub his ish, which made a tight limit to the number of copies he could publish.”

Born October 4, 1923 – Charlton Heston, Actor, Writer, and Director known to older genre fans as the errant astronaut from the Planet of the Apes movies (with a cameo in the reboot), the main character from The Omega Man, which was based on Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, a role in John Carpenter’s Lovecraftian In the Mouth of Madness, and of course, as the person who revealed the truth about Soylent Green in the Hugo finalist movie based on Harry Harrison’s novel Make Room! Make Room!. Lesser-known genre films in which he appeared include The Awakening, based on Bram Stoker’s 1903 novel The Jewel of Seven Stars, and the clunker Solar Crisis.

Born October 4, 1928 – Alvin Toffler, Writer and Futurist, best known for his non-fiction essays and predictions on the effects of technology, the most famous of which is Future Shock, which I’ve heard John Brunner used as the inspiration for The Shockwave Rider. Also wrote The Third Wave and myriad other works which almost no one has read or remembers. He offered commentary on Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy in a special edition of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, December 1982.

Born October 4, 1941 – Anne Rice, 77, Writer whose fame derives from her more than a dozen Vampire Chronicles novels, starting with Interview with the Vampire in 1976, which was nominated for a British Fantasy Award and later made into a movie which was a finalist for Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo. She has a number of other series ranging from The Mummy, which has also been made into films, the Mayfair Witches Saga, Songs of the Seraphim, and the Wolf Gift Chronicles. Let’s not overlook her Sleeping Beauty erotic series originally published under the pseudonyms A.N. Roquelaure and Anne Rampling during the early 80s. (JJ, who holds Rice personally responsible for the current regrettable glut of vampire novels and movies, says no, really, it’s okay if we overlook those.)

Born October 4, 1945 – Harry Andruschak, 73, Writer, Editor, and Fan. He wrote and self-published (as near as I can tell) The Seniority of the Fannish APAs thirty six years ago. He is a member of LASFS and has been an Original Editor of FAPA. His fanzines and apazines include but most likely are not limited to Bah! Humbug!, Intermediate Vector, Bosons, Last of the Spirit Duplicators and South of the Moon.

Born October 4, 1946 – Susan Sarandon, 72, Actor and Producer who is famous – dammit! – for playing Janet in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Other genre appearances include The Witches of Eastwick, Enchanted, Cloud Atlas, the TV miniseries Children of Dune, and numerous voice roles in animated features and TV series such as Cats & Dogs and Skylanders Academy.

Born October 4, 1946 – Val Ontell, 72, San Diego resident con-running fan who joined fandom in the mid-70s and has since worked on myriad regionals and Worldcons. She chaired Lunacon 29, Lunacon 32, and World Fantasy Convention 2011, and has been a member of the Lunarians, LASFS and NESFA. She and her husband Ron were Fan Guests of Honor at Lunacon 45 in 2002 and Conalope (aka Westercon 70) in 2017. They are known for running tourist trips based around Worldcons, which are open to interested fans, and have one planned for Ireland next year.

Born October 4, 1953 – Tchéky Karyo, 65, Actor born in Turkey and raised in France, who has appeared in many French- and English-language genre films including the upcoming Black Angel and JJ’s craptastic favorite The Core, as well as playing science fiction film pioneer Georges Méliès in the TV miniseries From the Earth to the Moon.

Born October 4, 1964 – Gary Couzens, 54, Writer, Critic, and Editor from England who has had many short stories published, including two collections. He has edited several anthologies, including Extended Play: The Elastic Book of Music, which won a British Fantasy Award, and his film review column Blood Spectrum, for the semiprozine Black Static, was nominated for a BFA for Nonfiction last year.

Born October 4, 1967 – Liev Schreiber, 51, Actor and Producer who played The Manchurian Candidate in the remake, and has had roles in Sphere, Phantoms, Kate and Leopold, The Last Days on Mars, and the Scream movies, as well as providing voices for various animated features.

Born October 4, 1971 – Hoyte Van Hoytema, 47, Cinematographer from Switzerland who has made a name for himself with genre movies Interstellar, Her, Let the Right One In, Spectre, and the upcoming Ad Astra.

Born October 4, 1975 – Saladin Ahmed, 43, Writer who was a finalist for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, whose first novel Throne of the Crescent Moon, which is based on Islamic mythology, was a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, British Fantasy, and Gemmell Awards, and won the Locus Award for Best First Novel. His short story “Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela” was a Nebula Finalist. He is also the author of the Hugo-nominated Black Bolt and Exiles from Marvel Comics. An intriguing piece by him entitled “The Messengers, Monsters, and Moral Instructors of Islamic Literature” was published in Fantasy Magazine in August 2011.

Born October 4, 1976 – Alicia Silverstone, 42, Actor and Producer, known to genre fans for playing Batgirl in Batman and Robin and Heather in Scooby Doo 2.

Born October 4, 1979 – Caitriona Balfe, 39, Actor from Ireland who plays the lead in the Outlander TV series based on Diana Gabaldon’s time travel novels of the same name, and had a lead role in the horror thriller Crush.

Born October 4, 1979 – Rachael Leigh Cook, 39, Actor, Writer, and Producer who played the eponymous role in Josie and the Pussycats and has provided character voices for animated features and videogames including Batman Beyond, Robot Chicken, Titan Maximum, Star Wars, and Final Fantasy.

Born October 4, 1980 – Nick Mohammed, 38, Actor and Writer who appeared in The Martian, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, and the TV movie The Last Dragonslayer, has done voices for animated features including Christopher Robin and the upcoming The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, and whose children’s book The Young Magicians and the Thieves’ Almanac was published by Puffin in 2017.

Born October 4, 1988 – Melissa Benoist, 30, Actor, Singer, and Dancer who is currently playing Supergirl in the TV series, with crossover appearances on The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow.

 Born October 4 – Alasdair Stuart, Writer, Critic, Editor and Podcaster from England. His writing about genre works has appeared in numerous venues including The Guardian, Tor.com, Barnes & Noble, SFX, Bleeding Cool, and Sci Fi Now, and he is a tabletop RPG writer who received an ENnie nomination for his work on Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space. He is the head of Escape Artists, the fiction podcasting enterprise behind the Hugo-nominated Escape Pod (science fiction), Pod Castle (fantasy), the BFA-nominated Pseudopod (horror), and Cast of Wonders (YA genre fiction).

Evermore Preview

Despite the striking resemblance to the author, I assure you it’s David Doering

By David Doering:  On September 8, Utah’s long-awaited Evermore Park held a preview to show off its work-in-progress. I was invited to join them and experience this taste of things to come.

Superlatives are inadequate to describe Evermore. It’s like Disneyland with the buildings, but it’s not. It’s like Medieval Times with the characters performing, but it’s different. In fact, we are going to have to come up with a new word to describe this out-of-our-world-and-outside-of-our-time experience. Is it a Fantastic Adventure park? Or maybe an NR-New Reality? ER–Engaging Reality? BR–Better than Reality??

I don’t want to sound like a brochure for Evermore, but its hard not to get totally enthralled by what it is.  Entering the park is like having a time-travel spell cast on you. Yes, it’s kind of like walking down along Disneyland’s Main Street, with buildings and places right out of the Victorian or Medieval times. But unlike Disneyland, there’s nothing in Evermore to break that spell–no contemporary signs, no pitchmen with paraphernalia for sale as souvenirs. One minute you’re in the bedroom community of Pleasant Grove, Utah. The next you are 200 or 300 years ago in a small village on the edge of the Twilight Zone.

Here’s a Lord and Lady greeting you and welcoming you to Evermore. Maidens and mighty men meander the paths as do monsters and mythological creatures. Here’s a shambling horde of the undead coming up a lane, eager to embrace you. (Hey, aren’t us Living also the “Undead”??)

Every detail is exactly correct. There’s real cobblestones for the streets. There’s torch lights burning on the paths. There’s hundreds of trees and shrubs and bushes everywhere. It is all perfect–real stonework, real wood, real metal and real leatherwork. You really believe you are here.

Yes, for this preview only about 1/4 of the park is open, but what is open is a thrill. Going into the tavern was like a true LARP-experience. There’s a crowd of fantasy characters there, talking with guests and themselves. Unlike the small talk a Disney character might give us on Main Street, the characters here have hours of dialogue memorized and a complete backstory to boot. Talking with them is a hoot and a half. Their costumes (clothing they say to you) is replicated even down to the smallest ornament or tooling. Their makeup (done by the star of SyFy Channel’s FaceOff show Logan Long) is spot-on even close-up. I really am talking to a dwarf or hob-goblin.

Wandering over to the Mausoleum there’s an entrance to the underground catacombs. Egads! This place, even half-finished, is frightening. Rows and rows of mummies and mildewing monsters in the dark and dank halls just creeped me out. I bet there’s going to a few of them that won’t be so still come Halloween.

Further on, there’s outdoor entertainment with performers doing tricks with flaming torches and the like. There’s an archery demonstration going on as well. Plus caves and tunnels–unfilled right now, but sure to have more later on when the park really opens.

Creator Ken Bretschneider has spared no expense, has created every detail to totally envelope you into this world of Medieval and Victorian fantasy. It’s incredible. If fantastic adventure has its Disney, his name is Ken B. The possibilities for this place…what with characters that live in this world, with buildings and all the trimmings as they should be.  I cannot wait for the whole park to be finished. This will be the absolute go-to place for anyone who adores the realms of fantasy, horror, and the supernatural.

Note: The preview event took place after 9 p.m., so many details of the Park are lost in the photos. Be assured I’ll be getting better shots in the future.

Roaming Creature--This is just one of the many meandering monsters in the park. (They will menace you, but not actually come in contact. ) Those are actual stones and timbers in the building behind the beast–which features real antlers too. The detailing on the leather pieces is wonderful.

Tavern barkeepEvermore brauhous is called the Crooked Lantern Tavern. All of the characters have a backstory and a good hour or two worth of gab they will share with you if asked. They also interact with the other NPCs as well.  Those are real antique bottles (but simulated spirits) on the shelves.

Tavern visitors–Wow! I mean, the detailing that goes into the costumes and in the creature makeup is incredible. Notice too how the table is built just as it would have been long ago. Those are real brass and metal ornaments on the mantle–no repurposed plastic! Same with the real stones in the fireplace.

Meet and Greet--It’s cool to meet the creatures. Look at how good the makeup is.

Spooky Atmosphere–Between the building, Ken has made sure both the lighting and the music fits the mood. Eerie fog pours out from hidden ducts…

Ever Boar-ing–I just love this boar’s head in the tavern–eye-popping detail even ten feet up the wall. (I would love to have a copy for Freehafer Hall…)

Tavern Patrons–Just look at the level of detail on these costumes! (That’s “Griffin” to your left, his real name!) Then there’s the old salt with his petrified pet parrot on his shoulder.

Pumpkin Sales-thing–This startled me for a second. I swore this was a real creature lugging all these pumpkins on his back. VERY clever design. The performer made it work perfectly. The barkeep “objected” to it being in there and shooed it out after a yelling and screaming match.

Tavern hostess–The barmaid will sing for you if you ask, or regale you with stories.

Ken B the Hero–Here he is, Ken Bretschneider, guiding some of us friends around the park. Who says that techies can’t turn out to be really, really good guys??

Fire juggling and Fire Performance–At various stations in the park there’s continuous live entertainment. This one was fire juggling, scary, scary.

Fireplace Detail–A shot of the tavern from one end. That’s real stucco, real brickwork, real stone work.

Bar Staff and stock, More tavern visitors–I love the dwarfish fellow, again the detail on his makeup is wonderful.

Tavern at night–there’s real thatch, real trees, real vines…

Giant 20 foot statue –The light on this changes colors. It’s colossal. And just decoration!

Main plaza–When you first enter the park, there’s this open plaza area with concessions on the left. In the background is the gazebo on the small lake where the narrow gauge train will run (sometime next Spring).

Evermore owl–The park has its own live animal collection. This is one of five owls they have on hand, and it is the smallest (!!) of the bunch. That’s my daughter Serena posing.

Creek — This gives you some idea of the complete recreation Evermore is. This is the creek running next to the main entrance with live trees and landscaping. All carefully put together.

Trees at the entrance–This is just the landscaping around the outside walls of Evermore.  That’s the unfinished church in the background.

Church in progress–As this was a preview, there’s various buildings like the church still under construction.

FIYAH Reappears on Goodreads

FIYAH Literary Magazine’s listings have quietly reappeared on Goodreads.

Only last week a Goodreads librarian deleted FIYAH’s Series listing on grounds that Goodreads’ policy is to delete all magazines without an ASIN/ISBN number. FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction is a quarterly literary magazine, and protests were lodged on Twitter and at two Goodreads discussion groups because enforcement of the policy seemed blatantly inconsistent, raising suspicions that racism was involved.

A defense of the librarians, an appeal to change the policy, and the meaning and effects of institutional racism, occupied an extensive discussion in a Goodreads Feedback thread, “Removal of magazines focused on marginalized groups from Goodreads”. It was closed September 21 by “Shaun, Goodreads Expert” —

This thread seems to have run its course and at the original poster’s request, we are closing this thread to further comments. We thank you for sharing your feedback.

I did not locate any discussion of a policy change in either the Goodreads Librarians or Goodreads Feedback groups. I’m not able to tell who created the six new FIYAH issue records. The first is “FIYAH Literary Magazine. Issue 1:Rebirth” and they all have zero ratings and zero reviews. The loss of reviews was one of the things mourned when the Series was deleted:

Fireside Fiction wrote a 10-part Twitter thread about the effects of Goodreads action. The thread starts here.

[Thanks to Dann for the story.]

Update 09/25/2018: The new FIYAH listings reported above now have been deleted.

Goodreads v. FIYAH, Round 2

Brian J. White, founding editor of Fireside Magazine, today pursued Goodreads’ deletion of FIYAH’s Series listing in two different forums on Goodreads. (He screencapped the entire interaction.) Thread starts here.

And there was heightened concern after Anathema Magazine, a “spec fic mag of work by queer POC/Indigenous/Aboriginals,” reported Goodreads has deleted its entry, too.

The discussion surfaced the Goodreads Librarian who deleted Anathema and some issues of FIYAH. A couple of excerpts (note, unfortunately I can’t make WordPress display only the selected tweet, so these come in pairs) —

Responses by Goodreads participants have focused on (1) Goodreads has a policy against listing publications which lack ASIN/ISBN numbers, and (2) denying that the enforcement could be anything besides business as usual, let alone an individual or institutional expression of racism.

Here are links to the discussions –

An important element of the controversy has been that Goodreads deleted these particular spec fic magazines while leaving intact the listings for many others. Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld, in a twitter thread that can be reached via Carrie Cuinn, describes his own encounters with Goodreads librarians, what rules were invoked then, and how decisions were made. Some of his tweets say —

Due to the attention now being paid, a reader contacted Brian J. White to say that an issue of his Fireside Magazine was (at some point) deleted by Goodreads –

Responses to Goodreads’ actions also include —

Bridget of SF Bluestocking wrote a thread which says in part:

Escape Artists says they will be taking down Mothership Zeta’s Goodreads listing in protest:

[Thanks to JJ and Mark Hepworth for the story.]

Changing of the Guard at The Heinlein Society

Minnesota fan Geo Rule is the newly-installed President of The Heinlein Society.

Keith Kato’s term as President ended – “amicably and by my own wishes” he notes — with the adjournment of THS’s online Annual Meeting last Sunday and the announcement of its new Board:

  • President:  Geo Rule of Minnesota.
  • Vice President-Secretary:  Dr. C. Herbert Gilliland (“Herb” to friends) of Maryland, retired Professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy.
  • Treasurer:  John Tilden of Maryland

Other Board members, listed by seniority:

  • SFWA Grandmaster Joe Haldeman of Florida.
  • John Seltzer, of Washington (state).
  • Betsey Wilcox of Texas.
  • Dr. Beatrice Kondo of Maryland (Yoji Kondo’s daughter).
  • Walt Boyes of Missouri (appointed by the Board to fill Jerry Pournelle’s seat; ratified this past election to continue).
  • Mike Sheffield of California (3rd President of THS, re-elected to the Board this past election).

Incoming President Rule says:

Our previous two presidents have left us a great foundation to build upon. Mike Sheffield was the driving force behind the founding of our very successful Scholarships program, and supported the creation of Heinlein For Heroes during his service as President. Dr. Kato led the Society and ‘Heinlein’s Children’ to the creation and placing of a bronze bust of Robert A. Heinlein in the state capitol building of Missouri in 2016, and leave service as President with membership in the Society, and Society financial assets, at all-time highs in our 20 year history. The membershgip recognized him with a well-earned thank you vote by acclamation at our recent annual meeting.

Rule has served on the Board of Directors of the Society since 2007, and as Vice President-Secretary since 2014. He joined the Society in 2002, and considers himself luck to have had the opportunity to work with Mrs. Virginia (“Ginny”) Heinlein on Society business in the last year of her life.

[Thanks to Keith Kato for the story.]

Real-world Dystopias: Ponte City

By Hampus Eckerman. Johannesburg. When I was going to Ponte City, my taxi driver repeatedly asked me if I knew what I was doing. “It is a dodgy area,” he said. And asked me again if I really wanted to go there. When he asked the fourth time, I managed to explain that there was a tour and I was going inside the building. Then he quieted down and seemed satisfied. Because Ponte City is a building. A building tall enough that it once was almost self-catering, a city with within a city with bars, shops, daycare, barber, bowling alley and more.

According to the owner of my bed-and-breakfast, Ponte City has a kind of legendary aura around it. It is a place everyone knows. It is even a place that was used to scare little children. “If you do not work hard in school, you will end up in Ponte City.” And listening to the telling of my tour guide, in their small bar at floor 51, it is easy to understand. The story of Ponte City and the area around is as if politicians had decided to turn Escape from New York into a reality.

It started as something totally different. In the 70s, the area around Ponte City was the crème de la créme of Johannesburg. The area where the beautiful people lived, the richest. This is where diplomats and Europeans made their home. It was the Beverly Hills of Johannesburg and its most prized jewel was Ponte City. A 55-floor-high building, 173 meters tall and placed on a hill, you could see everywhere from its viewing deck on top. It had a cylindrical shape with a hollow inside which made for a truly SFnal experience to watch inside. If I should describe the view of a Science Fiction-fan, I would say it looked close to the round building at the end of the movie Brazil, only with less diameter. Built in 1975, it was a place where everyone wanted to live.

20 years later it was a place in ruins, a place where no one wanted to go. It was known for its suicides, people travelled to Ponte City only to throw themselves from the top of the building. The inside of the cylinder was filled up with garbage, at the end it reached 14 levels high and there were rats the size of cats. The building with its close to 500 apartments roomed almost 10,000 people, many of them criminals. There was even a discussion of turning the whole building into a prison. Putting locks on the door in the middle of the night and putting guards there to keep its armed residents inside.

So what had happened? The answer is the racial logic of the apartheid system.

As the richest area in Johannesburg, lots of immigrants from the rural areas had moved there to try to find their luck. While the area was designed as white, its inhabitants were often people from European countries and they didn’t care much for the apartheid laws. So slowly, the area started to become more and more mixed. Apartment owners in Ponte City and other buildings took coloured partners and started befriending others.

This could not be tolerated by the apartheid government. At first they tried to stop this by making spot searches, knocking on apartment doors, demanding to see who was inside to make sure no illegal mixing was taking place. This did not work, it was too cumbersome, people were not cooperating and there were too many people living in the area to monitor them all.

So what they did is something that highlights the brutality of the apartheid era

They cut off all services.

They cut of electricity to the buildings, stopped collecting garbage, removed the police from the area. This of course made crime skyrocket. Foreign embassies ordered their diplomats to move to other areas, people took their businesses and moved. With no residents, the building owners put large locks on their buildings and left, hoping for better times.

You would think the better times would come for Ponte City and its neighboring buildings at the end of apartheid. You would think wrong.

Instead, full of immigrants, both from South Africa and from neighboring countries travelled to what they had known as the richest area in Johannesburg, a place where they could find work and wealth. They found empty buildings, seemingly without owners. So first came the squatters. Then the hijackers, gangsters who took control of buildings to by themselves renting out apartments, but without services or care. One of those buildings was Ponte City.

Think of a 55-floor-high building without water or working elevators. Which resident would go down 50 floors to throw their garbage? You guessed it, they threw all their leftovers in the hollow inside of the building. As there was no working water, this included fecal matters. And the garbage piled up. Putrified.

Ponte City turned into a nexus of criminality. Sex, drugs, stolen goods, weapons. Everything could be bought. With no repairs or care-taking, the building started to fall apart. This is when police started to discuss turning the whole building with its 10,000 citizens into a prison.

So how is Ponte City today? Like a miracle, it has turned around. A temporary owner managed to empty the building of all its criminal residents, exactly how this happened is unknown. Perhaps the gangsters were bribed. Perhaps the police. What we know is that the building was empty and renovations were started. In 2012, people could start to move in again.

When you go to Ponte City, you directly notice that it is not a building like others. There are signs warning you that it is your responsibility if you should be hit by anything thrown from a window. Others tell you that you visit on your own risk and that the owners are not responsible for damages caused by theft, fire or any other cause. You have to register to pass a security gate. No visitors are allowed after 22:00 and you will have to give three days advance warning if you want someone to stay the night.

But Ponte City is on its way up. There is even a queue for people who want to move on. Sometimes dystopias have happy endings.


Ponte City has been used for filming in several SF-movies, among them Resident Evil 6, Chappie, District 9 and Dredd.

Brianna Wu Loses Massachusetts Congressional Primary Race

The New York Times has picked incumbent Stephen Lynch to win the Democratic primary race for Massachusetts’ Eighth Congressional District and keep his seat, overcoming a challenge by Brianna Wu.

With 31% of the ballots counted as this is written, Lynch has received 71.7%, Wu 21.5%, and a third candidate 5.8% of the vote.

Wu has announced she plans to run again in 2020.

Wu tweeted an analysis of her campaign’s strengths and weaknesses. Thread starts here. Some of her comments follow:

A Filer in Heaven


By Hampus Eckerman: Johannesburg. A dodgy part of town, graffiti on the walls, people hanging around street corners, waiting for an opportunity. A sign proclaiming “Collectors Treasury”. But not in a place where you want to bring up your camera or phone to take picture. No open invitation to step inside, first you have to ring the bell for the security gate to open.

Inside is heaven.

This is not an exaggeration. Inside is heaven. Directly after you enter you see the first pile of books. And they never end. They never, ever end.

It is like walking into a giant cave with winding tunnels, shelf after shelf, stack after stack. There were books of the most strange and obscure variations. I noted one book on the building of Viking ships, another on the history of dentistry. Works on all subjects, old or new. It was quite staggering. I had absolutely no idea where or even how to start.

One of the owners, I was too shocked, happy and stupefied to remember to ask his name, met me in the entrance corridor, books surrounding us at both sides.

“You’re here for books, I guess”, he said while I was trying to catch my breath.

“This is a wonderful place”, I said. “It is beautiful, it is magical, I LOVE IT!”

“And you have only just entered”, he said with a satisfied smile.

I told him that I mostly read Science Fiction and Fantasy and he said that he had some vintage stuff on the top floor, but that I perhaps should start in the cellar. So I did.

This isn’t really true. I didn’t come even halfway down the stairs before I found a large volume called The Pictorial History of Science Fiction hidden in a stack of totally randomized fiction books. Scanning all shelves and books by the stair, I then found a small pocket book of Heinlein’s The Door Into Summer, a book I had only read from my Father’s library. Then I managed to get down the stairs.

And thought I would faint.

I can only describe it as a maze. A labyrinth of books, in stacks and on shelves, alcoves and small side rooms. Sometimes in order, sometimes on total chaos. I haphazardly walked into one side room and a few books down in a pile I found the first edition of Leslie Charteris The Saint Goes West. Happy with my find, I looked to the left. Where there were five filled bookshelves with first editions.

I can talk forever how I wandered around (wondered around might be a better wording) in this amazing bookstore, but it would take me forever. Let me just add that to get to the top floor you would have to take an elevator filled with… you guessed it. Pile after pile with books.

In the end I was saved only by the fact that I had a limit to how many books I could bring back on a plane and by having booked a tour of a brewery. Otherwise I would still have wandered around looking at books, perhaps starved to death in the process. Let it be known that beer saves lives.

For more information about Collectors Treasury, read Atlas Obscura: ”Collectors Treasury”.

These are the books Hampus bought.