(1) CLASSIC KETTLE. True Rat: The Beast of Leroy Kettle collects and preserves the humorous writing of British fan Leroy Kettle. Edited by Rob Hansen, it’s available as a free download in the usual ebook formats plus PDF from Ansible Editions. Over 105,000 words.
Every issue of True Rat is included, plus much more comic autobiography and articles, speeches and scurrilous gossip columns published elsewhere. Only a very few passages that seemed almost funny in the 1970s are here omitted to protect the guilty (Leroy Kettle).
One included item is the transcript of a live interview with our hero by Simone Walsh – with audience participation – at Skycon, the 1978 UK Eastercon. Rob Hansen strongly recommends the audio version, available as an MP3 download from this linked page on his site.
(2) BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. Wil Wheaton remembers his friend Stepto in a touching tribute, “who lives who dies who tells your story”. The excerpt comes from his remarks at the memorial. He follows them with a powerful and poetic vision.
“I want to tell you about the time Stepto and I had cigars in the Caribbean,” I say, “I want to tell you about how he saved my Xbox for me, about how he made me laugh and how much I miss him in my life.” I think, but don’t say, that I want to talk about how sad and angry I am that Stepto successfully kept his alcoholism a secret from me, and from everyone who was closest to him, for the more than ten years we were friends. I want to talk about how angry I am that he got a second chance, when he survived a coma last year. I want to say a lot of swears, because he convinced himself and me that it wasn’t alcohol that put him into a coma, but some kind of genetic thing and a virus and something else that was a bunch of bullshit. But I am coming up on two years of an alcohol-free life, myself, and even though I’m not an alcoholic, and even though I don’t do any recovery programs, I do know that addiction is powerful and all consuming. I know that it’s incredibly easy to convince yourself that you’ve got it under control, and that the rationalizations and justifications come as easily as opening another bottle after adding an empty one to the lie. Huh. I was going to write “line”, but my fingers made the first typo I think I’ve ever made that was more apt than what I intended. I want to be angry, but I can’t be. Stepto was sick, and he couldn’t get well, so he died. But while he was here, he was a good friend, and a magnificent human being. The world is better because he was in it, and the sun is not as warm or as bright as it was, now that he is gone.
(3) BOMBCON. Fanhistorian Rob Hansen has added the story of “Bombcon” (1941) to his THEN website. It happened in London during WWII. He’s assembled the text of two conreports plus supporting photos.
England’s biggest fan reunion for the last year was held over the weekend, September 20/21, when in spite of the manifold difficulties attending such a proposition – far in excess of anything the US fans encounter – a muster of some 14 was managed. At Saturday lunch time a party gathered to welcome Maurice Hanson, ex-editor of “Novae Terrae” who had wangled leave from Somerset. After some bookhunting in Charing X Road, the party saw the film “Fantasia”.
On Sunday, a crowd assembled in Liverpool St. stn. waiting room, and proceeded to convert it, in the approved manner of fan meetings, into a magazine mart. We rolled on to Holborn to meet author John Beynon Harris, nearly got arrested for taking photos of the gang, had tea, & held London’s first open air meeting of fans, in Lincoln’s Inn Fields….
(4) MEANING OF DECLINING NUMBERS OF STARS. John Scalzi’s “Four Views of the Same Short Story” uses reviews of his newly-published short story as the basis for an essay about how different readers perceive the same story differently and what authors should do about that.
…The text of the story is the same regardless of who reads it, but the experience of reading it is unique to the person reading.
This is a very important thing for writers (especially newer writers) to learn and build into their worldview: That everyone’s experience of your work, and any reviews they might then write, are inherently subjective, dependent on the person writing them, and there is nothing in the world you can do about that. That’s just the nature of putting work out into the world. Your job is to write the story as well as you can, and not worry overly much how it will be received. Because, as you can see above, it will be received well, and poorly, and everywhere inbetween.
And yes, learning to be okay with the fact everyone won’t love what you wrote is hard, because everyone has an ego, and everyone likes the validation of people enjoying their work…
(5) JOHN CARTER IS ALIVE! ALIVE! I09, in “John Carter Of Mars Is Getting an Action-Packed Romance RPG”, says –
Disney might have soured a few people on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic scifi saga, but John Carter and the world of Barsoom, Mars have been reborn with a new roleplaying game….
Modiphius Entertainment has announced its latest tabletop game, John Carter of Mars: Adventures on the Dying World of Barsoom. Working in cooperation with Burroughs’ estate, the pulp-action RPG lets players take on iconic roles like John Carter, Dejah Thoris, and Tars Tarkas (or a made-up character) “as they travel, battle, and romance their way across the wondrous and dangerous world known to its natives as Barsoom.” John Carter of Mars launched today on Kickstarter, and it’s already nearly tripled its fundraising goal.
The John Carter of Mars game rules are available on the Kickstarter page.
(6) COMICS SECTION.
- John King Tarpinian liked Bizarro’s take on the Bard of Avon.
- Tarpinian also recommends The Argyle Sweater, where they serve up some Transformer humor.
- And I’m personally a fan of this cat joke at Bizarro.
(7) TRANSFORMATIVE WORK. The Washington Post’s John Kelly looks at the cheesy 1973 horror film Werewolf of Washington which he thinks has resonances with contemporary politics — “What a howl: Here’s the background story to ‘The Werewolf of Washington’”.
A few years later, one of that film’s producers asked Ginsberg whether he had anything else up his sleeve. As scandal was starting to engulf the Nixon White House — but before Watergate had exploded — Ginsberg went to New York’s Fire Island and in 10 days wrote “The Werewolf of Washington.”
Said Ginsberg: “I came back and the [producer] said, ‘Are you out of your mind? This is an attack on the president. The script is yours. Don’t ever show up here again.’?”
Another producer and some of Ginsberg’s friends stepped in to fund the movie, shot on a shoestring budget of $100,000. Somehow, they were able to get veteran actor [Dean] Stockwell to star. His career, Ginsberg said, “had fallen into eclipse at that time. He loved the script.”
(8) GAME CHANGER. NPR discusses “Fighting Bias With Board Games” — like Buffalo.
This is where Buffalo — a card game designed by Dartmouth College’s Tiltfactor Lab — comes in. The rules are simple. You start with two decks of cards. One deck contains adjectives like Chinese, tall or enigmatic; the other contains nouns like wizard or dancer.
Draw one card from each deck, and place them face up. And then all the players race to shout out a real person or fictional character who fits the description….
It’s the sort of game you’d pull out at dinner parties when the conversation lulls. But the game’s creators says it’s good for something else — reducing prejudice. By forcing players to think of people that buck stereotypes, Buffalo subliminally challenges those stereotypes.
“So it starts to work on a conscious level of reminding us that we don’t really know a lot of things we might want to know about the world around us,” explains Mary Flanagan, who leads Dartmouth College’s Tiltfactor Lab, which makes games designed for social change and studies their effects.
Buffalo might nudge us to get better acquainted with the work of female physicists, “but it also unconsciously starts to open up stereotypical patterns in the way we think,” Flanagan says.
In one of many tests she conducted, Flanagan rounded up about 200 college students and assigned half to play Buffalo. After one game, the Buffalo players were slightly more likely than their peers to strongly agree with statements like, “There is potential for good and evil in all of us,” and, “I can see myself fitting into many groups.”
(9) ALL GOOD THINGS. “End signalled for European Ariane 5 rocket” says the BBC — 82 straight successes, but Ariane 6 will be cheaper.
A final order for a batch of 10 Ariane 5 rockets has been raised.
The vehicle, which has been the mainstay of European launcher activity for the past 20 years, will be phased out once its successor is in place.
ArianeGroup, the French-led industrial consortium, expects its new Ariane 6 to be flying no later than mid-2020, and in full operational service in 2023.
At that point, Ariane 5 can be retired. The last order ensures sufficient rockets are available for the handover.
(10) BIGGER. How do you take away a crashed helicopter? With a bigger helicopter: “US Marines rescue their helicopter… with a bigger one” (video)
US Marines have rescued one of their helicopters after it made an emergency landing on a beach in Okinawa, Japan. The aircraft was airlifted back to base using an even bigger helicopter.
The US presence on Okinawa in southern Japan is a key part of the security alliance between the two countries. The base houses about 26,000 US troops.
(11) WITH FACTS UNCHECKED. It’s fascinating to see JDA start his post “I’m in Good Company” with the rhetorical fillip “I was wrong,” then grandiosely “correct” himself by citing more misinformation.
It turns out I was wrong in saying WorldCon made an unprecedented move in banning someone over politics. It has happened — one time before. Today on the blog we’re going to take you all the way back to 1939, where WorldCon was, like in this year, all too proud of blackballing someone over their dangerous visionary ideas for science fiction. A reader wrote to me:
The Futurians were kicked out of the first Worldcon because organizers feared that they would distribute communist propaganda. The group included a number of luminaries including Asimov and Pohl.
Because of their fear of not Asimov hurting anyone (no one fears me hurting anyone by the evidence of how I’ve conducted myself at dozens of conventions in the past) — but spreading political ideas that they found too dangerous for the times — WorldCon banned Isaac Asimov.
The implication is clear. The elites in science fiction believe I have the potential to be the next Asimov…
Asimov wasn’t kicked out of the first Worldcon. There are a lot of places you can learn who was (like this Fancyclopedia entry.) Asimov wasn’t one of them — a fact he himself referenced when speaking at “Science Fiction’s 50th Anniversary Family Reunion” in 1989 (Noreascon 3), where he sounded less embarrassed than proud that he had not been turned back at the door with the six other Futurians.
(12) WHAT’S A MAP? Meanwhile, blogger The Phantom, determined to force a connection between the Worldcon and James Damore’s lawsuit against Google, performs this geographic sleight-of-hand:
What does this have to do with WorldCon? Well, this year’s WorldCon and Hugo award ceremony will be held in San Francisco. That’s where Google’s headquarters is, and where all the computer nerds who work at Google live.
Of course, Google’s headquarters is in Mountain View, and the Worldcon is in San Jose. Neither is in San Francisco.
(13) KING KONG. Steve Vertlieb’s 2014 Rondo-nominated article ”A Triple Life: King Kong’s Trinity of Reincarnation on Film” is “A published celebration of the enduring legacy, and profound cultural significance of Merian C. Cooper’s immortal 1933 motion picture masterpiece, King Kong, as well as its numerous cinematic incarnations, influences, and tributes throughout the past eighty five years.”
KING KONG related the remarkable tale of a giant beast, an impossible ape-ike creature whose imposing, horrifying shadow would follow the intrepid explorers whose heroic exploits had led them to its discovery. Released by RKO Studios during the winter of 1933, the picture reunited Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong with Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack for yet another thrilling adventure in the lurid jungles of a primordial world. They were joined by Bruce Cabot in, perhaps, the pivotal performance of his career.
(14) ADVERTISING ART. Andrew Liptak at The Verge recommended a documentary about a very rare collection:
The Collection is a short documentary (via Kottke) by Adam Roffman that chronicles a unique piece of Hollywood history: tens of thousands of plates and blocks used to create the newspaper advertisements used for nearly every film that hit theaters before the 1980s.
…The collection includes blocks used for films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Star Wars, Planet Of The Apes, and many others.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]