(1) NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON TALK SHOW PULLED. Variety’s Michael Schneider, in “Nat Geo Pulls Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s ‘Star Talk’ Amid Misconduct Allegations” says that the National Geographic Channel has suspended Neil deGrasse Tyson’s show StarTalk with only three of its 20 episodes broadcast because of the sexual harassment allegations against Tyson. One of the unaired episodes was an interview with George R.R. Martin. “Cosmos: Possible Worlds,” the sequel to “Cosmos” is still scheduled to air on Fox starting March 4, because Tyson is such an integral part of that show that it would take massive recutting to take him out of it.
(2) BANDERSNATCH FEATURETTE. Netflix has posted an overview of its hit interactive TV production.
(3) THE FAR SIDE. China has announced that their far-side Lunar rover, Chang’e 4, has landed (CNN: “China lunar rover successfully touches down on far side of the moon, state media announces”).
In an historic first, China has successfully landed a rover on the far side of the moon, Chinese state media announced Thursday, a huge milestone for the nation as it attempts to position itself as a leading space power.
China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) landed the Chang’e 4 lunar probe at 10:26 am Beijing time on Thursday, in the South Pole-Aitken Basin which is an impact crater, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.
It made its final descent from a landing orbit 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) above the moon’s surface.
State media reported the rover transmitted back the world’s first close range image of the far side of the moon. No other details were immediately available.
The 6-wheeled rover is fairly small (1.5x1x1 meters, not counting the foldable solar arrays). Communication with Earth is via a satellite put in Lunar orbit earlier in 2018.
(4) A CITY OF COMICS CREATORS. With DC moving its headquarters to LA, and Marvel making movies there in Hollywood, there’s a rationale for caring about “The 10 Best Mainstream Comic Books By LA Creators Right Now” (LAist) even though it’s a thoroughly international industry.
Doomsday Clock goes deep into DC Comics lore, bringing back the legendary Watchmen team who had largely remained untouched since their creation by Alan Moore in the 1980s. L.A.-based writer Geoff Johns has always had a soft spot for the history of DC, bringing back the past to give new life to characters old and new.
He’s doing that again here with frequent teammate Gary Frank. Frank’s intricate style has put Doomsday Clock on an every-other-month schedule, which can make it harder to follow along, but the book looks gorgeous. It’s a meticulous art style combined with a meticulously written book, with little details to capture your imagination. It’s also bringing back other long lost DC characters, integrating them all in a giant blockbuster story that also manages to focus on character.
(5) LOSS OF A HOME LIBRARY EVOKES BOOK MEMORIES. From the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Datebook” — “Revisiting the ruins of a home — and its library of 2,000 books — lost in the Camp Fire” by Jaime O’Neill.
…The public library in Paradise was spared by the fire that leveled that town on Nov. 8. The fire that spared the town library didn’t spare mine, however. Since those books burned, I have spent some time taking a rough inventory of the books I lost, imagining the pages curling in the heat, the shelves that held them collapsing, the smoke from all those books joining with the smoke generated by everything else that was under our roof.
… There were books I’d given my wife for Christmases and birthdays, and books she’d given me on similar occasions. There was a novel I’d read more than four decades ago on a Christmas higher in the mountains, a modern ghost story by Kingsley Amis — “The Green Man” — that offered up its pleasures as I sat by the Franklin stove, snowed in, with nearly 4 feet of snow on the ground outside. There were books half-read, set aside when my fickle attentions were drawn to other books, but books I meant to return to, nonetheless, like a remarkable book about the Teapot Dome scandal by Laton McCartney, a story rich in parallels to our own time, with very rich con men pillaging at will under the stewardship of an incompetent and amoral president….
(6) STAYIN’ ALIVE. John Scalzi got a good post from interacting with points made in Lindsay Ellis’ video about “The Death of the Author” literary theory: “The Death of the Author! Maybe!” (He links to the video in his post.)
4. Authors know more about their worlds than you do, but maybe don’t have all the answers. …as it happens, sometimes writers and readers don’t find the same things important, with regard to the worldbuilding. As a result, readers sometimes think about certain things more than the authors have, and the authors get caught flatfooted when readers want to know more about that particular thing. Alternately sometimes the author kind of bullshits through something because they don’t think it’s important and later it comes back to bite them and has to be explained away. In Old Man’s War, I didn’t do any sort of real worldbuilding for Earth because I knew I was going to leave it in a chapter, and I didn’t think about whether I would ever write any sequels.
And then one day I was asked to write a sequel, and readers were asking why future Earth seemed exactly like now, and I had to recon my way out of my own laziness. It worked out okay (indeed the explanation became a seed for much of the series onward), but the point is, at the time of the original writing, there was no deep-seated reason for doing it other than “it doesn’t matter, so why bother.” Guess what! It mattered.
(7) FERGUSON OBIT. [By Guy H. Lillian III.] Eric Ferguson, Florida fan and onetime member of the Southern Fandom Press Alliance, was found deceased on January 3, 2019 in his home on Merritt Island, Florida. I personally spoke to the officer in charge, who merely told me that the investigation into Eric’s death was ongoing. No cause of death is yet known. He had been known to have suffered from severe intestinal troubles in the past, and hadn’t been active in fandom in some years.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
- Born January 3, 1892 – J.R.R. Tolkien. So what was the first work by him you read? For me, it was The Hobbit which I fell in love and still find terribly engaging in a way that I don’t, and no throwing rocks please, find The Lord of The Rings. I think it’s that it’s far me easier to lose myself in the work and enjoy what happens than struggle through the story of the latter. I’m also fond of The Road Goes Ever On, a song cycle taken from The Lord of The Rings, The Father Christmas Letters which a local Theater group enacted one year, and The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays. (Died 1973.)
- Born January 3, 1940 – Kinuko Y. Craft, 79. She is a Japanese-born American painter, illustrator and fantasy artist. True enough. So why is she here? Because she had an amazing run of illustrating the covers of the Patricia McKillip novels until quite recently. I’m linking here to our review at Green Man of The Bards of Bone Plain for a favorite cover she did. There’s a slim volume on Imaginosis called Drawings & Paintings which collects some of her work.
- Born January 3, 1956 – Mel Gibson, 63. I know the first thing I saw was genre wise involving him was The Road Warrior in a cinema which would some forty years ago. Likewise I saw Mad Max 2 and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in cinemas, but I admit have mixed feelings about both of those films. And I never even knew Mad Max: Fury Road existed until now, so it missed its released. He’s in FairyTale: A True Story, a look at the the Cottingley Fairy photographs of the 1920s, and voices John Smith in Pocahontas. He plays Hamlet in Hamlet but I really don’t think I can call that genre…
- Born January 3, 1973 – Dan Harmon, 46. Aside from being the creator of the hit animated series Rick and Morty, his series HarmonQuest has helped to bring Dungeons and Dragons to a new audience. Other credits include Community, Heat Vision and Jack, and Monster House. His work as a writer and executive producer for Channel 101 and Acceptable.tv has inspired many filmmakers that comedy and sci-fi/fantasy don’t have to be separate.
- Born January 3, 1975 – Danica McKellar, 44. From 2010–2013 and since 2018, she’s voiced Miss Martian in Young Justice. It’s starting its third season on the fourth of this month on the DC Universe service and it’s most excellent! She’s done far, far more voice work than I can list here, so if you’ve got something you like that she’s done, do mention it.
- Born January 3, 1984 — Brooke Williams, 35. For recurring roles, she’s been Catania in The Shannara Chronicles and Hannah in 12 Monkeys. She had a recurring also as Jennsen Rahl on Legend of the Seeker which is off novels by Terry Goodkind. She also played Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe Theatre In London. Remember we agreed this was fantasy. Indeed she’s been in Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk, both in New Zealand productions!
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Candorville titles this strip “The Captain Pike Series Lemont Always Wanted.”
(10) FANZINE ON JEOPARDY! It happened January 1, and Andrew Porter, supplied a picture of this epic moment:
Answer: “Zine” is a short form of “Fanzine”, first associated with this genre; the Hugo Awards have honored zines since 1955.
Correct question: “What is Sci-Fi”?
And here’s the image off my TV:
(11) NO HUGOS, PLEASE. Camestros Felapton does his best to let us down easy – but he doesn’t want to be nominated for Best Fan Writer again: “So, I’m not doing an eligibility list this year…sort of…”
Put another way: the nomination etc WAS fun and nice but it made writing the blog less fun and less nice. Not in any terrible angsty torture like way but enough that I’ll skip the experience for 2019. That’s not a ‘NEVER AGAIN!’ just a ‘the view is lovely but I’m a bit puffed out from walking up this hill and tomorrow I’d like to stay in the pub and look at the next big hill from below in the beer garden, thanks’. It was also a bit like eating celery but that analogy requires more explanation and really doesn’t help get the point across.
(12) MORE NOT CHEERY STUFF. Trailer for season 2 of Marvel’s The Punisher
He isn’t the one who dies. He’s the one that does the killing. Season 2 of Marvel’s The Punisher debuts exclusively on Netflix January 18.
(13) LET’S GET THAT CLEARED UP. Snopes.com, in their “Daily Debunker” for Jan. 2nd writes:
“Did CBS Report That ‘Elites Are Lining Up to Ingest the Blood of Children’?”
A report that went viral after supposedly appearing on CBS News says that “world leaders and elite businessmen” routinely ingest the blood of human children to achieve “eternal youth.” … We feel absurd having to point this out, but no one outside of characters from mythology and vampire fiction consumes blood to keep from aging.
(14) ONE OF THE GREATEST ARGUMENTS IN POP CULTURE? SYFY Wire: “Debate Club: The 5 best sci-fi/horror remakes”:
Welcome to Debate Club, where Tim Grierson and Will Leitch, the hosts of the Grierson & Leitch podcast, tackle the greatest arguments in pop culture.
[…] this week for Debate Club, we look at the best sci-fi and horror remakes, movies that did their own thing in their own way by working with something we already knew.
The five movies they chose are:
5. I Am Legend (2007)
4. War of the Worlds (2005)
3. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
2. The Fly (1986)
1. The Thing (1982)
The article includes a rationale for each choice. Let your debates begin.
(15) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. The newest exotic Oreos flavor has arrived says Delish: “Carrot Cake Oreos Are Here So Much Earlier Than We Thought They’d Be!”
It’s a 2019 miracle! After Carrot Cake Oreos were rumored to be dropping this spring, some shoppers have taken to Instagram to share that the newest sandwich cookie flavor is already on shelves.
If we’re to take the Instagrammers’ words for fact, it’s looking like these babies are available at both Targets and Walmarts—though no word on whether they’ve hit every store yet.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Funny or Die asks what would it be like “If The Lord Of The Rings Was A Sitcom.” For one thing, it would be called Northern Expo-Shire. For another, it would have a laugh track. Of course. And, it would be on at 8PM Mondays.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Darrah Chavey,and Andrew Porter for some of the stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]