Pixel Scroll 1/2/21 You Put The Mime In The Tesseract And Drink Them Both Together

(1) DAVID WEBER STATUS. Word of this alarming news went out last night:

After the Turtledove tweet was reposted to David Weber’s author page on Facebook, his wife, Sharon Rice-Weber commented:

He’s doing better right now. I’ll try and keep everyone updated

Best wishes for a full recovery.

(2) NEW YEAR’S WHO. Camestros Felapton combines the features of a review and a complete script rewrite in his analysis of yesterday’s special: “Review: Doctor Who – Revolution of the Daleks”. BEWARE SPOILERS! BEWARE IMPROVEMENTS!

The New Year’s special provides a hit of Doctor Who but that is about all. The episode is inoffensive, it plays around with one interesting idea about the theatre of policing and the aesthetics of fascism but doesn’t know what to do with that. Above all, it exemplifies the frustrating aspects of the Chibnall era. There is always a feeling of a better episode, that is almost exactly the same, lurking around the same pieces….

On the other hand, this fellow found one part of the special to be exceptionally thrilling —

(3) IN BAD TIMES TO COME. Future Tense presents “The Vastation” by Paul Theroux, “a new short story about a future pandemic that makes COVID-19 look simple.”

Steering to his assigned slot in the out-going convoy behind a bulky bomb-proof escort truck, Father said, “We’re going to Greenville,” and looked for my reaction to this surprising announcement. Surprising, not just because Greenville was far away, and where my Mother had been living, but also because I had never been taken outside the perimeter of Chicago….

There is a response essay to the story by physician Allison Bond: “In a pandemic, what do doctors owe, and to whom?”

…Today—as in this story—we fight a deadly contagious disease that has hit some communities much harder than others, and through which xenophobia and racism have been allowed to fester. In Theroux’s story, people are segregated into camps by nationality, into “island[s] of ethnicity, renewed country-of-origin pride and defiance in the enormous sea of rural America.” Perhaps these stemmed from viewing people who are different from oneself as the enemy, and then working to avoid them—something that is already increasingly prevalent in our society, in part thanks to social media.

(4) TRAVEL SAFETY PROPOSAL. “What are COVID-19 digital immunity passports?”Slate explains.

This week, the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the U.S.
With the FDA expected to approve Moderna’s vaccine imminently, people are already looking forward to a world where travel and gatherings are possible. But for those activities to be maximally safe, the country will either need to reach herd immunity—unlikely until mid-2021 at the earliest, assuming essentially flawless vaccine roll-out and widespread adoption—or to find ways to verify people’s negative tests or vaccination status in advance.

Some companies are looking to digital solutions. Airlines like JetBlue, United, and Virgin Atlantic have begun using CommonPass, an app developed by the Commons Project and the World Economic Forum that shows whether users have tested negative for COVID-19 for international travel. Ticketmaster, too, told Billboard that its “post-pandemic fan safety” plans include digital health passes that verify event-goers’ COVID-19 negative test results or vaccination status. While these digital health passes could become a prerequisite for some activities, widespread adoption of so-called immunity passports would require a level of coordination and organization uncharacteristic of the country’s response to COVID-19 so far….

(5) MEMORY WHOLE. The Guardian tries to answer its own question: “George Orwell is out of copyright. What happens now?” The situation resonates with Orwell’s pigs — some works are more out of copyright than others.

Much of the author’s work may have fallen into public ownership in the UK, but there are more restrictions on its use remaining than you might expect, explains his biographer.

George Orwell died at University College Hospital, London, on 21 January 1950 at the early age of 46. This means that unlike such long-lived contemporaries as Graham Greene (died 1991) or Anthony Powell (died 2000), the vast majority of his compendious output (21 volumes to date) is newly out of copyright as of 1 January. 

…As is so often the way of copyright cut-offs, none of this amounts to a free-for-all. Any US publisher other than Houghton Mifflin that itches to embark on an Orwell spree will have to wait until 2030, when Burmese Days, the first of Orwell’s books to be published in the US, breaks the 95-year barrier. And eager UK publishers will have to exercise a certain amount of care. The distinguished Orwell scholar Professor Peter Davison fathered new editions of the six novels back in the mid-1980s. No one can reproduce these as the copyright in them is currently held by Penguin Random House. Aspiring reissuers, including myself, have had to go back to the texts of the standard editions published in the late 1940s, or in the case of A Clergyman’s Daughter and Keep the Aspidistra Flying, both of which Orwell detested so much – he described the former as “bollox” – that he refused to have them reprinted in his lifetime, to the originals of, respectively, 1935 and 1936.

(6) STRANGER THAN FICTION. L. Jagi Lamplighter is interviewed by ManyBooks about her work with “A Magic School Like No Other”.

What inspired you to create the Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts?

The original game that the books are based upon took place at a popular magic school from another series. When I sat down to write this series, I had to invent a whole new magic school—and I had to make it something

My son, who was then about nine or ten, had come up with the idea that the colony on the Island of Roanoke had disappeared because the whole island vanished and that there was a school of magic upon it.

I loved this idea, but I didn’t really know much about the area of the country where Roanoke Island is. So I decided it was a floating island that could wander. Then I put it in the Hudson River, near Storm King Mountain, because that is a place I happen to love. I found out there was a small island in that spot that actually has a ruin of a castle on it. I made that island (Bannerman or Pollepel Island) the part of the island that was visible to the mundane world of the Unwary (us.)

I spent hours on the internet looking at photos of all sorts of places—forests, buildings—that I loved. Then I put those photos together to create the island and the school. So Roanoke Island has many things I think are beautiful, paper birch forests, boardwalks by a river, Oriental gardens.

Then I needed to design the school itself. I noted that there were series where the magic school is like a British boarding school and series where the school is like an American boarding school. I wanted something different. So I decided to model Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts after the college I attended. St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland is quite different from most other colleges. Students sit around one large table. They have core groups, other students who are in all your classes. They have tutors instead of professors. They have an unusual system of intramural sports—so strange that every time I put part of it in the book, my editor tags it as too extraordinary to be believable.

I took my experience at St. John’s and spun it into the world of the Hudson Highlands, creating a marvelous place that is delightful to write about and, God willing, a joy for the reader, too.

(7) PULLING CABLE. FirstShowing.net introduces the trailer for “Intriguing Gig Economy Quantum Sci-Fi Film ‘Lapsis’”.

… Struggling to support himself and his ailing younger brother, delivery man Ray takes a strange job as a “cabler” in a strange new realm of the gig economy. This film is set in an alternate reality where the quantum computing revolution has begun, but they need to hire people to connect the cables for miles between huge magnetic cubes. 

(8) BOLLING OBIT. Pianist, composer, and bandleader Claude Bolling died December 29. The Guardian’s tribute notes —

…He wrote music for over one hundred films …  such as The Hands of Orlac (1960), … The Passengers (1977) [released in the US as The Intruder, based on Dean Koontz’s 1973 novel Shattered], The Awakening, a 1980 British horror film [third film version of Bram Stoker’s 1903 novel The Jewel of Seven Stars]. Bolling also composed the music for the Lucky Luke animated features Daisy Town (1971) and La Ballade des Dalton (1978).

(9) DOMINGUEZ OBIT. “Disney Legend” Ron Dominguez died January 1 at 85.

In 1957, Dominguez became the assistant supervisor of Frontierland, moving up to the manager of Tomorrowland in 1962. He became the manager of the west side of Disneyland and in 1974, was named vice president of Disneyland and chairman of the park operating committee.

In 1990, Dominguez became Executive Vice President Walt Disney Attractions, West Coast.

(10) VOYAGER DOCUMENTARY ASKS FOR FUNDS. Comicbook.com gives fans a head’s up: “Star Trek: Voyager Documentary Announces Crowdfunding Campaign”.

The upcoming Star Trek: Voyager documentary is ready to begin crowdfunding. The new documentary would have commemorated Voyager‘s 25th anniversary in 2020, but the coronavirus dashed most of those celebration plans. David Zappone of 455 Studios, the production company behind previous Star Trek documentaries like For the Love of SpockChaos on the Bridge, and What We Left Behind, confirmed that filming for the documentary resumed in August. Now it seems the production has reached the point where it’s ready to raise funds from fans. As Voyager star Garrett Wang (Ensign Harry Kim) explains in the announcement video below, fans will be able to donate to the campaign and pre-order the documentary beginning on March 1st.

Click to see the “Special Announcement From Garrett Wang”.

(11) TODAY’S DAY.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • January 2, 1978 Blake’s 7 premiered on BBC. It was created by Terry Nation of Doctor Who fame, who also wrote the first series, and produced by David Maloney (series 1–3) and Vere Lorrimer (series 4), with  the script editor throughout its run being Chris Boucher. Terry has said Star Trek was one of his main inspirations. It would would run for a total of fifty-two episodes. Principal cast was Gareth Thomas, Michael Keating, Sally Knyvette, Paul Darrow and David Jackson. Critics at the times were decidedly mixed with their reaction which is not true of audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes who give an amazing ninety one percent rating! 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 2, 1814 – Luise Mühlbach.  A score of historical-fiction novels; you can read Old Fritz and the New Era here (Fritz is a nickname for Friedrich; she means Frederick II of Prussia); it has fantastic elements.  She says “To investigate and explain … is the task of historical romance….  poesy… illuminated by historic truth….  Show me from history that it could not be so; that it is not in accordance with the character of the persons represented … then have I … presented only a caricature, faulty as a work of art.”  (Died 1873) [JH]
  • Born January 2, 1871 – Nora Hopper.  Journalist and poet in the 1890s Irish literary movement; Yeats said her Ballads in Prose “haunted me as few books have ever haunted me, for it spoke in strange wayward stories and birdlike little verses of things and persons I remember or had dreamed of.”  There’s a 2017 Trieste reprint.  (Died 1906) [JH]
  • Born January 2, 1920 Isaac Asimov. I can’t possibly summarize him here so I won’t. My favorite novels by him are the original Foundation novels followed very closely by his Galactic Empire series and I, Robot. I know I’ve read a lot of his short fiction but I’ll be damn if I can recall any of it specifically right now. And I can’t possibly list all his Hugos here. (Died 1992.)  (CE) 
  • Born January 2, 1932 – Minagawa Hiroko, age 92.  (Personal name last, Japanese style.)  Three of her stories are in English, two in Speculative Japan 3-4.  Shibata Prize.  More famous for detective fiction; Honkaku Award for The Resurrection Fireplace (in Japanese Hirakasete itadaki kôei desu, roughly “I am honored to open it”), set in 18th Century London; Mystery Writers of Japan Award, Japan Mystery Literature Award for lifetime achievement.  [JH]
  • Born January 2, 1948 Deborah Watling. Best known for her role as Victoria Waterfield, a companion of the Second Doctor. She was also in Downtime, playing the same character, a one-off sequel to a sequel to the Second Doctor stories, The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear. No Doctors were to be seen. If you’ve seen the English language dubbed version of Viaje al centro de la Tierra (Where Time Began, based off Verne’s Journey to the Center of The Earth), she’s doing the lines of Ivonne Sentis as Glauben. (Died 2017.) (CE) 
  • Born January 2, 1954 – Ertugrul Edirne, age 67.  Twoscore covers in German SF.  Here is Galactic Trade.  Here is On the Great River.  Here is Kushiel’s Dart (German title In den Händen der Feinde, “In the Hands of the Enemy”).  Here is Not From This World.  [JH]
  • Born January 2, 1959 – Patrick Nielsen Hayden, age 62.  Long-time fan, also guitarist (lead guitar in Whisperado).  TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate with wife Teresa Nielsen Hayden, both wrote “TAFF in Thirteen Paragraphs”, fanzines e.g. IzzardTelos, Fan Guests of Honor at MidAmeriCon II the 74th Worldcon where at Closing Ceremonies PNH said “I can’t count the conversations I’ve had with total strangers”, see my con report (at the end, with a poem for each).  Meanwhile also active as a pro; now VP, Assoc. Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief at Tor.  [JH]
  • Born January 2, 1967 Tia Carrere, 54. Best remembered for her three season run as Sydney Fox, rogue archaeologist on Relic Hunter. She’s been in a number of one-offs on genre series including Quantum LeapHerculesTales from The Crypt, AirwolfFriday the 13th and played Agent Katie Logan for two episodes on Warehouse 13. (CE) 
  • Born January 2, 1971 Renée Elise Goldsberry, 50. Best known for appearing on Altered Carbon as Quellcrist Falconer. She also performed the Johnny Cash song “Ain’t No Grave” for the end credits in the final episode of that series. Genre wise, she’s had one-offs on EnterpriseLife on MarsEvil and voice work on DreamWorks Dragons: Rescue Riders, an all too cute series.  She was Selena Izard in The House with a Clock in Its Walls. And she appeared on Broadway in The Lion King as Nala.   (CE) 
  • Born January 2, 1979 Tobias S. Buckell, 42. I read and enjoyed a lot his Xenowealth series which he managed to wrap up rather nicely. The collection he edited, The Stories We Tell: Bermuda Anthology of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, is well worth reading, as is his own Tides from a New World collection. And his Tangled Lands collection which won the World Fantasy Award is amazing reading as well. (CE) 
  • Born January 2, 1982 – Aníbal J. Rosario Planas, age 39.  (In this Hispanic style two surnames are given, the father’s Rosario then the mother’s Planas.)  Drummer and author.  Here are a photo, a 150-word teaser from his story Pólvora y vapor (“powder and steam”; in Spanish), and links to his talk (in Spanish and English) about Steampunk Writers Around the World.  [JH]
  • Born January 2, 1983 Kate Bosworth, 38. She’s Barbara Barga in the SS-GB series done off the superb Len Deighton novel  which is definitely genre. She’s both a producer and a performer on The I-Land series where she’s KC, a decidedly not nice person. For a much more positive character, she portrayed Lois Lane in Superman Returns. (CE) 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna notes that Calvin and Hobbes’s last strip was on December 31, 1995, which gives him a chance to praise Bill Watterson and explain why his strip is timeless comedy.  In a sidebar, Cavna notes two other important comic strips ended in 1995:  Gary Larson’s “The Far Side” and Berkeley Breathed’s “Bloom County” spinoff “Outland.”  But he notes that Bill Watterson praised Richard Thompson’s “Cul de Sac” as showing that “the launch of great comics was still possible” and interviews Breathed, who revived “Bloom County” as an online venture in 2015. “’Calvin and Hobbes’ said goodbye 25 years ago. Here’s why Bill Watterson’s masterwork enchants us still.”

…Stephan Pastis, creator of “Pearls Before Swine,” views Calvin as an expression of pure childlike id, yet thinks there is a whole other dynamic that makes many of Calvin’s acts of imagination so appealing.

Watterson “accurately captured how put-upon you feel as a kid — how limited you are by your parents, by your babysitter, by [schoolteacher] Miss Wormwood. You’re really boxed in and all you have is individual expression,” says Pastis, who collaborated with the “Calvin and Hobbes” creator on a week of “Pearls” strips in 2014, marking Watterson’s only public return to the comics page since 1995.

“I think that’s why to this day, some people get [Calvin] tattooed on their bodies,” Pastis continues. “He stands for that rebellious spirit in the fact of a world that kind of holds you down. You get into adulthood, you get held down by your various responsibilities. Calvin rebels against that, therefore he always remains a hero.”

(16) FOR POETS. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) is taking nominations from members for two 2021 awards.

  • Rhysling Award Nominations: The 2021 Rhysling Chair is Alessandro Manzetti. Nominations are open until February 15 for the Rhysling Awards for the best poems published in 2020. Only SFPA members may nominate one short poem and/or one long poem for the award. Poets may not nominate their own work. All genres of speculative poetry are eligible. Short poems must be under 50 lines (no more than 500 words for prose poems); Long poems are 50+ lines, not including title or stanza breaks, and first published in 2020; include publication and issue, or press if from a book or anthology. Online nomination form here. Or nominate by mail to SFPA secretary: Brian Garrison, SFPA, PO Box 1563, Alameda CA 94501, USA.
  • Elgin Award Nominations: The 2021 Elgin Chair is Jordan Hirsch. Nominations due by May 15; more info will come by MailChimp. Send title, author, and publisher of speculative Star*Line 8 Winter 2021 poetry books and chapbooks published in 2019 or 2020 to elgin@sfpoetry.com or by mail to the SFPA secretary: Brian Garrison, SFPA, PO Box 1563, Alameda CA 94501, USA. Only SFPA members may nominate; there is no limit to nominations, but you may not nominate your own work.

(17) OFF THE MARKET. Such is the draw of iconic movie locations. The LA Times explains the attraction of “Jim Brandon’s South Pasadena home”.

Jim Brandon better get used to unexpected visitors. The writer-producer, whose credits include “Arrested Development” and “Mixed-ish,” just paid about $2.2 million for a South Pasadena home with a special place in “Back to the Future” lore.

The 1985 hit doubles as a tour of L.A. County in many ways, with landmarks such as Griffith Park and the Gamble House popping up throughout the film. Another pivotal scene is set in Brandon’s new yard, where Marty McFly stumbles upon his father being a peeping Tom in the tree out front.

According to the home’s previous owner, filmmaker John McDonald, fans of the movie regularly make the trek to South Pasadena to pay homage — and climb up the now-famous tree to re-create the scene….

(18) MEMORY LANE.

In 1953, the International Fantasy Award was given to Clifford M. Simak for City, his first Award. This collection is sometimes presented as a novel which it is decidedly not as it is a fix-up of the stories “City”, “Huddling Place”, “Census”, “Paradise”, “Hobbies”, “Aesop” and “Trouble with Ants …”. The other nominations were Takeoff by C. M. Kornbluth and Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.  A  Retro Hugo Award at CoNZealand in 2020 would be awarded to it as well. 

(19) NOTHING HAPPENING HERE, MOVE ALONG. In December someone pointed out that John C. Wright’s website was displaying an “Account Suspended” sign. My social media searches found no protests or grievances about this – or even that anyone else was aware of it. Wright subsequently explained the cause in “Account Not Suspended”.

My loyal webgoblin called the hosting company and reports that they said that the server was migrated this morning and that various changes are still propagating through their system. The “account suspended” message was a default one. The hosting company confirmed that there’s nothing wrong with the account and that the site hasn’t been pulled offline due to excessive bandwidth or any sort of legal action

(20) EXPANDING UNIVERSE. More Star Wars properties are on the way.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch is an all-new animated series from Lucasfilm Animation coming soon to Disney+.

In another new Disney+ series, Star Wars: Andor, Diego Luna will reprise his role as Cassian Andor.

(21) FUTURE FORSEEN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “What Will Future Homes Look Like?  Filmed In the 1960s” on YouTube is an episode of the CBS News show 21st Century (which ran between 1967-70) called “At Home, 2001” narrated by Walter Cronkite, which tried to predict from the viewpoint of 1967 what homes in the 21st century would look like.  Among the predictions:  3-D televisions twice as large as the largest current flat screen, plastic plates that would be molded for each use and then put into a vat to be printed again for the next use, and dinners that were programmed and cooked via computer.  The show also saw that computers at home could teach kids and enable people to work at home, and there’s a prediction of something like cable TV.  What they got wrong:  there is no internet or YouTube.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Michael Toman, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Sam. And that came from Sam’s first-ever comment here!]

41 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/2/21 You Put The Mime In The Tesseract And Drink Them Both Together

  1. 1) Best wishes for a quick recovery

    13) My favorite Asimov are his demon short stories. Not as well known, but I love humor.

  2. 13) One of these years I need to reread at least the original Foundation trilogy.

    Tia Carrere was also in the execrable movie Kull the Conqueror, which I mention mostly as an excuse to use the word “execrable”.

  3. Joe H. says Tia Carrere was also in the execrable movie Kull the Conqueror, which I mention mostly as an excuse to use the word “execrable”.

    Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give that film a resounding rating of twenty five percent. I think they’re being generous.

  4. OK, I’ve finished Mexican Gothic and I’ve read a bunch of books this year but I’ve lost track (although to name two Harrow the Ninth and the City we Became).

    I need a good audio book. What should I read next?

  5. I actually like Asimov’s non-fiction better than his fiction. There have been decent science popularizers since, but none, for my money, can match both his volume and quality. As far as his fiction goes, I’ve been trying not to re-read it, after having seen clear signs of suck fairy visits the last couple of times I tried, but I think my favorite would still be the R. Daneel Olivaw novels.

    I’ve never really been a big fan of the Foundation books. Interesting ideas, but the execution didn’t do it for me.

    ETA: I should say that I have re-read some of his non-fiction fairly recently, and, while the information is increasingly dated, I still found the writing quite enjoyable.

  6. Camestros Felapton says OK, I’ve finished Mexican Gothic and I’ve read a bunch of books this year but I’ve lost track (although to name two Harrow the Ninth and the City we Became).

    I need a good audio book. What should I read next?

    I’d strongly recommend Lavie Tidhar’s Unholy Land which is a nice riff off multiple universes, governmental conspiracies and lots of other neat stuff. If you have not experienced his earlier Central Station, that too is well worth your time as well.

  7. 1) Best wishes for David Weber.

    As the pandemic gallops on, the incidence of Covid-19 striking people I know (or know of) sure seems to have sped up in frequency and numbers.

    7) The “Lapsis: trailer looks like it might be an interesting variation on the John Henry folktale.

    16) Hey, one of my published pieces in 2020 was actually a poem! Which, since I can generally go years between poems, and I’ve only had 3 or 4 I’ve thought merited marketing, is kind of pleasing for me.

    If anyone wants to take a look, it’s here in the Winter 2020-21 issue of Liminality, a magazine of speculative poetry: “The Child-Eating Forest Speaks Its Mind

    (Worth a Rhysling nomination? Damned if I know. But I’m pretty pleased with it, so I’m doing a bit more self-promotion than I usually do.) (Because self-promotion, ughh, yuck, quivering fantods!)

    20) Anyone else get “series fatigue” from book or movie series & franchises that keep adding and adding and adding new works set in the same universe? Star Wars and Star Trek are both reaching that point for me. (Conversely, what long-running series or franchises manage to retain freshness and originality ?)

  8. Camestros, one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to in the past several years was Maria Dahvana Headley’s modern-day riff on Beowulf, THE MERE WIFE, an excellent book taken to an even higher level by Susan Bennett’s narration.

    (Headley’s new translation of the Beowulf saga is also very good.)

  9. (1) Best wishes for a quick recovery for David Weber.

    I may finally be recovering from my own (definitely non-Covid) illness. No promises, but I feel almost normal now!

    I very much enjoyed The Vanished Birds audiobook.

  10. 13) Asimov, of course, chose to have been born on 01-02. (In the sense that, due to questionable record keeping and the Julian-Gregorian calendar transition, there was considerable uncertainty in what his actual birthday was, so he picked a date and stuck with it.)

    I am looking forward to the (insert Apple symbol here)TV+ adaptation of the Foundation stories.

  11. Bruce Arthurs says Anyone else get “series fatigue” from book or movie series & franchises that keep adding and adding and adding new works set in the same universe? Star Wars and Star Trek are both reaching that point for me. (Conversely, what long-running series or franchises manage to retain freshness and originality ?)

    In the case of Star Wars, most definitely, but I would not say the same for the latter as they actually aren’t adding that many. Disney is essentially building an entire Star Wars network but CBS is creating a handful of series as they go along, few enough that I could actually watch all of them if I was so inclined which I indeed am.

    I want my ability to sleep regularly back, damn it! (I’m due for more brain studies soon.)

  12. Camestros Felapton says Thanks Bruce and Cat! Both authors that I had meant to read but had lost track of.

    Tidhar’s The Bookman trilogy set in an England ruled by a Reptile Royalty from space and where all pulp characters are real is quite wonderful too. The narrator, Jonathon Keebler, is quite superb on those novels.

    Central Station btw picked up a much deserved John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

  13. 12
    I’d go with the critics on Blake’s 7. Too many characters, or not enough ensembling. The tone is right, dark and seeped in futility, but too many of the eps were too goofy to credit. It did improve near the end, once they thinned the cast. I admit being disappointed when I finally watched, although I did binge the whole enchilada. A friend considered B7 the holy grail back in the 80s, but I’d lost contact with them before they had a chance to see any eps. Remember when content was hard to find? And expensive as hell?

    18
    City has aged quite a bit, and is kinda goofy all these years later, but the heart of it is still golden. Simak was–or at least read to me as–a wise and gentle soul. City will stick to your feels.

    Xtifr, I agree with you regarding Asimov. His essays and nonfiction books are incredibly accessible, given their subjects. His fiction is too mannered for my taste. It’s like reading an acrostic.

  14. Brown Robin notes that City has aged quite a bit, and is kinda goofy all these years later, but the heart of it is still golden. Simak was–or at least read to me as–a wise and gentle soul. City will stick to your feels.

    I’d agree that not all that much of his fiction holds up at all well this long on. It’s gentle and warm hearted but is indeed quite dated.

  15. 20) Anyone else get “series fatigue” from book or movie series & franchises that keep adding and adding and adding new works set in the same universe? Star Wars and Star Trek are both reaching that point for me. (Conversely, what long-running series or franchises manage to retain freshness and originality ?)

    I’d say ‘yes’, particularly with Star Wars but I’ve ended up watching the Star Wars-Rebels cartoon when I use my exercise bike and I’m really enjoying it.

  16. Camestros Felapton says I’d say ‘yes’, particularly with Star Wars but I’ve ended up watching the Star Wars-Rebels cartoon when I use my exercise bike and I’m really enjoying it.

    I love that series much more that any of the films. It’s got a sense of fun and humor so often missing in the lives action undertakings. And being just about a half hour long, it’s a perfect length fir those of us with often short attention spans.

  17. If anyone wants it, I’ve got an extra copy of the hardcover edition of Jane Yolen’s The Wild Hunt that I’ll post out. Email me thisaway if you’d like it. It’s of course free, all I need is your postal address. Though if you want, I’ll give you Yolen’s postal address and you can send her a dark chocolate bar and a note in appreciation!

  18. (15) “Cul de Sac” ended too soon (due to medical problems for the creator, Richard Thompson, which led to his death in 2016)

    (13) I got into trouble in school for reading Asimov non-fiction under my desk during class…

    (1) Wishing David Weber a quick recovery.

  19. Andrew (not Werdna) says I got into trouble in school for reading Asimov non-fiction under my desk during class…

    I like his non-fiction which has held up rather well. His first of many Hugos is amusingly noted in the Hugo database as “Adding Science to Science Fiction” in his F&SF articles.

  20. @Andrew (not Werdna) — I’m still sad about Richard Thompson & Cul de Sac, which I think was genuinely the best comic strip at least since Calvin & Hobbes.

    12) One of the things I did after getting my first region-free DVD player was order all four seasons of Blake’s 7 from amazon.co.uk but while I can at least appreciate it, I admit it never grabbed me the way other things have, and I’m still midway through S2 in my watch. I wish it would’ve been syndicated on one of my local PBS stations when I was growing up — I would’ve eaten it up with a spoon back then.

  21. Joe H. says One of the things I did after getting my first region-free DVD player was order all four seasons of Blake’s 7 from amazon.co.uk but while I can at least appreciate it, I admit it never grabbed me the way other things have, and I’m still midway through S2 in my watch. I wish it would’ve been syndicated on one of my local PBS stations when I was growing up — I would’ve eaten it up with a spoon back then.

    I’ll admit that outside of the Doctor Who multiverse that I’ve skipped a lot of the British SF series down the decades not quite grasping the charms of them. Now admittedly I’m not really a fanatical video person, so I’ve skipped a lot of the American series as well too, ie though I’ve watched Farscape, I’ve still not really watched Stargate. I really, really like the shorter seasons of the Trek series.

    Now listening to: Joel Shepherd’s Qalea Drop, Book Seven of The Spiral War series

  22. Farscape is another series that I haven’t ever quite made it all the way through, but it’s for a very specific reason — every few years, it gets rereleased in a different format, I buy the new release and then I get bogged down in S1, which has a fair number of episodes that are … not good. Someday I’ll finish it.

    Currently reading Child of Flame, #4 in Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars series; and I expect that series will carry me at least through the month of January.

  23. I was 11 growing up in the UK when Blake’s 7 was broadcast. The Christmas season of 1977-1978 was a great one for SF fans: Star Wars hype was everywhere; the BBC broadcast Flash Gordon episodes every morning throughout the school holidays; The Christmas Lectures showed experiments with mag-lev technology; serious SF movies such as Silent Running were broadcast in the evenings; and Blake 7 debuted. remember reading in the Radio Times how it was going to be better than Star Wars because they had much more time to develop the story etc etc. I thought I was going to lap it up. I was terribly disappointed. Which didn’t stop me watching pretty much all of it, of course.

  24. Thanks for spotlighting the 21st Century episode. Growing up, I was devoted to that series, which was an outgrowth of Cronkite’s 20th Century series. I wish it could be issued on DVD to own.

  25. Cat Eldridge on January 3, 2021 at 6:01 am said:
    Joe H. says One of the things I did after getting my first region-free DVD player was order all four seasons of Blake’s 7 from amazon.co.uk but while I can at least appreciate it, I admit it never grabbed me the way other things have, and I’m still midway through S2 in my watch. I wish it would’ve been syndicated on one of my local PBS stations when I was growing up — I would’ve eaten it up with a spoon back then.
    It all depended on the local PBS station. Back in the day, we wrote to our local stations (in St Paul, MN and La Crosse, WI), asking them to carry the show, and they did. Probably helped that they were both airing Doctor Who and knew there was an audience.

  26. Simak was–or at least read to me as–a wise and gentle soul.

    I’ve only read City and Way Station but I love both, especially because of their gentleness. It’s an underrated quality in fiction.

  27. Shao Ping says I’ve only read City and Way Station but I love both, especially because of their gentleness. It’s an underrated quality in fiction.

    All of his fiction was like that no matter how minor. I remember Cemetery World being a piece of popcorn literature but it had that same gentleness to it.

  28. I bounced pretty hard off City, when I first read it as a teenager. Because as a kid growing up in a small village, where no busses went after 8 PM, I dreamt of living in the City, the bigger the better. When I read about Trantor in the Foundation and Galactic Empire novels by Isaac Asimov, I immediately wanted to move there.

    Therefore, a world without cities seemed like a terrible dystopia to me, except that I wasn’t sure if Simak was aware he was writing a terrible dystopia.

    When I reread the City stories for the Retro Hugos last year, my impression was completely different. Because for starters, Simak was an excellent writer, much better than most of his golden age compatriots. And the City stories have a gentle and humane quality that you rarely find in the SF of the period. Simak was also quite prescient, predicting the trend towards suburbification in the US after WW2, even if much of the City stories seems dated now. Furthermore, the most accurate prediction in all of the SF stories of 1944 I read (and I read a lot of them) was the automatic lawnmower which harasses Gramps Stevens in the first City story.

    Regarding Asimov, I found him very early in SF reading career, when I bought the then new Prelude to Foundation during an endless delay at Athens airport and then proceeded to read everything by him I could find.Teen me had her mind blown by the sheer scope of the Foundation stories. Adult me can see the flaws in fiction – Asimov developed more slowly as a writer than his almost contemporaries Ray Bradbury and Frederik Pohl – but I still have a soft spot for his works.

  29. Unlike Cora, I loved City from minute one, though I believe I picked it up in college. What I recall best about City was Simak’s description of transcendence and the implication that it was the enemy of humanity, then in turn that humanity would have been an enemy of the dog civilization. I agree that City has survived better than its counterparts, even Way Station, which tends to be more talky and less show-y.

    And I agree that Asimov’s early writing style was not the best. I have no plans to revisit Foundation and its ilk. But he did work at it over time, and Bicentennial Man is a vast leap over his earlier I, Robot stories.

  30. I thought if you put the mime in the tesseract you had no idea where it would wind up.

  31. I’m currently rereading Foundation (it’s been 50 years) because an online friend reviewed it and I didn’t want to rely on memory to discuss it. I am enjoying it more than I thought I would. It doesn’t hurt that I just finished the Traders section since I still want to be a Star Trader when I grow up.
    The only jarring thing is too much smoking and too few women.

  32. BGrandrath says I’m currently rereading Foundation (it’s been 50 years) because an online friend reviewed it and I didn’t want to rely on memory to discuss it. I am enjoying it more than I thought I would. It doesn’t hurt that I just finished the Traders section since I still want to be a Star Trader when I grow up. The only jarring thing is too much smoking and too few women.

    It’s been at least forty years since I’ve read the novels so I’ve pretty much much forgotten them. My re-listen right now is Dune which I’ve not encountered in decades.

  33. There’s a marked improvement between the stories in Foundation and the later two books (as I recall).

  34. 6) I wonder if she’s aware that Bannerman Castle is actually an abandoned munitions warehouse. It was abandoned after Bannerman died and a bit later, a large amount of munitions exploded.

  35. @Andrew (not Werdna)
    Did you mean the later two books as being (4) & (5) Foundation’s Edge and Foundation and Earth. Or (6) & (7) or (-2) & (-1) Prelude to Foundation and Forward The Foundation? I read them as a teen when they first came out (except [7]/[-1] came out in my twenties and i still have {and just reread this year} the hardback yellowing copy i bought new) and i am unobjective about them. Similar to Cora, they imprinted on me as classic sf in 1983/1984 and i don’t recognise any suck fairy visiting them(if anything they are too short and need extending past Foundation and Earth(?), but i never read the Second Foundation trilogy by the killer bees. I did read the volume honoring Asimov with one or a few Foundation homages & loved it at the time but almost cant stand to reread it now. It just reminds me there wont be any new Asimov stories.

    I also liked Azazel, the fantasy collection (of aforementioned demon short stories) but they got repetitive the further they went on. I much preferred the Black Widowers books, where new quests/mysteries didn’t repeat as much and the regulars weren’t as one-dimensional as the narrator of Azazel (purportedly Asimov himself) and the subject(s) of each story. Still mostly single-faceted but with 6 or 7 regulars plus guest, it was more interesting to me; and it got me into non-science fiction -ie mystery/thriller books which i still read but in limited quantities, not the noir-ish private dick, at least mostly not but Lee Child/Kathy Reichs and only a few others. May be no connection whatsoever but they got me started when i found the then new Black Widowers book and devoured it.

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