(1) WRESTLING OVER MEANING. Steven Erikson’s essay asserts a changing relationship between authors and literary criticism. “The Author as the Living Dead (Barthes’ Death of the Author: Zombie Horror and Literary Criticism)”.
… Death of the Author by Barthes is postmodernist. It has absorbed the essence of postmodernist thought which seeks to question the most basic assumptions of reality. It seeks to separate the author from the work for purposes of analysis. The faculty office door must remain closed to allow for the fullest purity of the endeavour that is literary analysis. With the author excised, and with an argument presented to bolster the assertion of non-contextuality in the work to be examined, the scholar is given free rein to invent whatever pleases them, provided the thesis is properly assembled.
Under the vast umbrella of postmodernism, personal interpretations have egalitarian virtue. The text is neutered of intention at its source (the author), to be dismantled and reassembled at leisure. If the author writes: “The shirt was blue,” the literary critic can now assert that line to mean the shirt was red, or there was no shirt at all, but a shirtless person made blue by the fierce winter wind. And if that sentence was not anchored to any character’s point of view, but rather to that of an unseen omniscient narrator, well, clearly that narrator wasn’t the actual author, but a voice generated by the novel itself, which sprang into creation like a toadstool on a pile of dung in the basement.
As with all art, in other words, the creator ceases to be relevant and the audience is made eminent.
You might think I’d be fine with that. By this means am I divested of all responsibility for what I write. What a relief. Just as I no longer have any say in how a reader interprets (or feels) about anything I write, the only thing that binds me to their expectations leaves the field of literary criticism behind and ventures into the crass world of consumerism, popularity, and publishing, since these market forces will decide if I am or am not a successful writer. When I wrote “The shirt was blue” I could not possibly have expected a reader to interpret the shirt as being red, or no shirt at all, and even if I had an expectation that a reader would read that sentence in one way and one way only, that’s no longer relevant.
De-contextualizing a work of art is the gentle injection that puts it to eternal sleep. No longer any risky vivisection awaiting the examiner. Just flat out, stiff-as-a-board-body dissection. Here the limits can be decided upon, the parameters clearly defined, the self-as-audience raised on the highest pedestal. It’s a postmodernist’s wet dream….
(2) BISHOP MEDICAL UPDATE. Michael Bishop gave readers a frank report about his cancer in a public Facebook post.
“What’s on your mind?” the cue on an unwritten Facebook post always reads, and today what’s on my mind is the fact that the cancer in my right thigh (twice removed: the cancer, let me stress, not my thigh) has returned and spread.
Its spread complicates treatment options, as do the lingering effects of earlier surgeries, and so, for now, excision is out and chemotherapy looms as the safest if not the fastest approach to returning me to healthy-featherless-biped status.
I won’t be coy: I’m posting this message because many of you are not only FB friends but also beloved friends, and you may want or deserve to know what’s happening now in Jeri’s and my conjoined life.
My second reason is selfish: I covet your prayers, good wishes, positive vibes, unalloyed sympathy, etc., if not your visits (in this time of pandemic) or any cards requiring answers (in my time of highly unfixed focus).
Forgive these prohibitions, my obvious inability to suffer in silence, and my fear-deflecting facetiousness. And bless you all.
(3) HINES HAS HAND SURGERY. Jim C. Hines tells how things have been going since the operation on his hand in “Surgery and Recovery”.
It’s been six days since the surgeon opened up my hand to try to restore movement to the pinky. At that point, the Dupuytren’s contracture had progressed to where I only had about 30° of movement. (Click the link for a lovely photo.)
This was causing trouble with things like reaching into a pocket or putting on a glove. It was also messing with my typing. When I finally met with the surgeon, he said I should have come in before it got to this point. Earlier on in the progression, they can do less invasive procedures to help. At this point, there wasn’t much to try except for surgery.
The surgeon said things went pretty well. He was able to get the fingers pretty much straight, though they may not stay perfectly straight as they heal. I was bandaged up and put in a splint to try to hold the finger straight as much as possible….
(4) TURNING THE PAGES. Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus is navigating the winds of change: “[October 18, 1965] Turn, Turn, Turn (November 1965 Fantasy & Science Fiction)”.
…As the 60s dawned, the genre had become anemic. Almost all of the monthly digests had gone out of print. The old stalwart, Astounding, had changed its name to Analog, but is fiction remained stolidly fixed in an older mode. Gold retired from Galaxy and Fred Pohl struggled to keep it and its sister mags fresh as its reliable stable of authors left for greener (as in the color of money) pastures. F&SF‘s helm passed on to Avram Davidson, whose whimsical style did the magazine few favors.
But the genre seems to have found its feet and is stomping off in a new direction. Propelled by a “New Wave,” again largely based in Britain, the science fiction I’ve been reading these days no longer feels like retreads of familiar stories. They have the stamp of a modern era, an indisputable sense of 1960s. And no single issue of a single magazine has represented this renaissance in SF better than the latest issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
(5) NARNIA ON EARTH. Travel wrter Chris Leadbeater speculates about “Where to find Narnia in the real world, as the CS Lewis classic turns 70” in The Telegraph.
The Mourne Mountains
Lewis’s love of Northern Ireland also extended to the Mourne Mountains – the coastal range which spreads out some 40 miles south of Belfast in County Down, and includes the mighty bluff that is Slieve Donard (2,790ft/850m). He would draw directly on these granite peaks and grassy troughs for the landscape of Narnia. In his essay collection On Stories (posthumously released in 2002), he would explain that “I have seen landscapes in the Mourne Mountains and southwards which, under a particular light, made me feel that, at any moment, a giant might raise his head over the next ridge”. And in a letter to his brother Warren, he once explained that “that part of Rostrevor [a village at the foot of Slieve Martin] which overlooks [the sea inlet] Carlingford Lough is my idea of Narnia”.
How much comparison you draw between this rocky realm and the pages of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is perhaps a matter of personal perspective. But the range is happy to play up the association (see visitmournemountains.co.uk/ChroniclesofNarnia) – and is home to two walking routes which tie in with the book.
The Narnia Trail is the shorter of the pair (see walkni.com/walks/the-narnia-trail) – a half-mile loop through Kilbroney Park, which sits right next to the waterline in Rostrevor. Lewis spent happy childhood holidays in the village, and the trail attempts to communicate some of this innocent joy to visitors. The path begins with a wardrobe door – and, as with C.S. Lewis Square in the city, Narnia-related statues (Aslan, Mr Tumnus, thrones) decorate the setting. As does a lamp-post akin to the one beneath which Lucy first espies Mr Tumnus.
The Cloughmore Trail – also in Kilbroney Park – requires slightly more effort, ebbing for 2.5 miles above the Lough (see walkni.com/mourne-mountains/cloughmore-trail-via-fiddlers-green). It features a large rounded boulder which, according to local legend, represents the stone table on which (spoiler alert!) Aslan is sacrificed by the White Witch….
(6) THE SISKO KID. We Got This Covered teases a second source that claims “CBS Reportedly Considering Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Revival”.
…Last weekend, We Got This Covered reported that the network is thinking about doing something with Avery Brooks as Benjamin Sisko, the chief of the space station throughout DS9‘s seven seasons (1993-99). Now, Geekosity’s Mikey Sutton is reporting that his own intel says much the same thing. According to the insider, CBS is considering reviving DS9 in some form for Paramount+, the rebranded and expanded CBS All Access that’s launching in 2021.
Sutton teases that other Deep Space Nine stars could return alongside him, too. He can’t say which ones as yet, but this news only doubles our chances of seeing Michael Dorn as Worf again, given that he would fit in with both this project and Picard.
(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
- October 2012 — Eight years ago this month, Arkady Martine started off her genre career with “Lace Downstairs” published in Abyss & Apex, 4th Quarter. Though she was only one novel, her Hugo winning A Memory Called Empire with her second A Desolation Called Peace out early next year, she’s been quite prolific in writing short works with seventeen stories, two poems and one essay by the title of “Everyone’s World Is Ending All the Time: Notes on Becoming a Climate Resilience Planner at the Edge of the Anthropocene”. Her website is worth visiting. (CE)
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born October 18, 1925 – Voltaire Molesworth. Led a revival of the Sydney Futurians after World War II. Fanzines Luna, Cosmos. Vital to the three natcons (natcon = nat’l SF con; nearest thing for U.S. fans is the NASFiC = North America SF Con, held since 1975 when the Worldcon is overseas, although that’s a continental not a national convention) in Sydney during the 1950s. Mathematician, amateur radio operator, managed the Univ. New South Wales radio station. Wrote A History of Australian Fandom 1935-1963. (Died 1964) [JH]
- Born October 18, 1934 – Kir Bulychev. Author, scriptwriter, translator. Best known for Alisa Selezneva series, fifty novellas and other short stories, animation, tie-ins, videogames; also Village of Gusliar and Doctor Pavlysh. Reporter for Locus from Moscow. Ph.D. under another name, two nonfiction books. (Died 2003) [JH]
- Born October 18,1935 — Peter Boyle. The monster in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein. He won an Emmy Award for a guest-starring role on The X-Files episode, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”. He also played Bill Church Sr. in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. One of his final roles was in the “Rosewell” episode of Tripping the Rift. (Died 2006.) (CE)
- Born October 18, 1938 — Dawn Wells, 82. Mary Ann Summers on Gilligan’s Island which y’all decided last year was genre. She and Tina Louise are the last surviving regular cast members from that series. She had genre one-offs on The Invaders, Wild Wild West, Fantasy Island and Alf. She reprised her role on the animated Gilligan’s Planet and, I kid you not, The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island. (CE)
- Born October 18, 1944 — Katherine Kurtz, 76. Known for the Deryni series which started with Deryni Rising in 1970, and the most recent, The King’s Deryni, the final volume of The Childe Morgan Trilogy, was published several years back. As medieval historical fantasy goes, they’re damn great. (CE)
- Born October 18, 1947 — Joe Morton, 73. Best remembered as Henry Deacon on Eureka in which he appeared in all but one of the seventy-seven episodes. He has other genre appearances including in Curse of the Pink Panther as Charlie, The Brother from Another Planet as The Brother, Terminator 2: Judgment Day as Dr. Miles Bennett Dyson, The Walking Dead as Sergeant Barkley, and in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League as Silas Stone, father Victor Stone aka Cyborg. (CE)
- Born October 18, 1950 – Tony Roberts, 70. A hundred eighty covers, thirty interiors. Here is Macroscope. Here is a Best of A.E. Van Vogt and here is a Best of Fritz Leiber. Here is A World Out of Time. Here is To Live Forever. Here is Xanadu 3. See his Website. [JH]
- Born October 18, 1951 – Jeff Schalles, 69. Pittsburgh fan working on PgHLANGE III-IV, moved to Minneapolis and its local club, or something, Minn-stf (stf, pronounced and sometimes spelled stef, a remnant of Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction). Con reports for SF Chronicle and Locus. Stalwart in the last three issues of Science Fiction Five-Yearly, also Idea, Rune. Fanartist including photographs; did these fine photos of Bob Bloch, Chuch Harris and Avedon Carol, Harlan Ellison, Steve Stiles, Geri Sullivan (note allusion to The Harp That Once or Twice). [JH]
- Born October 18, 1958 – Elissa Malcohn, 62. Edited Star*Line 1985-1988 and 2011 (some with co-editors), three covers for it (2007), half a dozen interiors (1986-1988). Six novels, a dozen shorter stories; forty poems in Aboriginal, Amazing, Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Tales of the Unanticipated. [JH]
- Born October 18, 1964 — Charles Stross, 56. I’ve read a lot of him down the years with I think his best being the rejiggered Merchant Princes series especially the recent Empire Games and Dark State novels. Other favored works include the early Laundry Files novels and both of the Halting State novels though the second makes me cringe. (CE)
- Born October 18, 1965 – Sergey Poyarkov, 55. Artist emerging to us in the 1990s. Exhibited at some of our cons. Artbooks Balance of Contradictions, Flawless Imperfection. This was in a show at Odessa. This sold at auction in 2013 for a five-figure sum. [JH]
- Born October 18, 1968 — Lisa Irene Chappell, 52. New Zealand actress here for making a number of appearances on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys after first appearing in the a pre-series film, Hercules and the Circle of Fire. Curiously according to IMDB one of her roles was as Melissa Blake, Robert Tapert’s Assistant. Quite meta that. (CE)
- Born October 18, 1974 – Amish Tripathi, 46. Eight books sold 5.5 million copies on the Indian subcontinent. First author in Indian publishing history to have six fiction books simultaneously in the top 10 of the HT-Nielsen Bookscan national bestseller list 4 weeks in a row. Honorary doctorate from Jharkhand Rai Univ. Grandfather a Sanskrit scholar and a Pandit in Uttar Pradesh. Just announced (Sep 2020) he’ll do a feature film of his Legend of Suheldev. See his Website. [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Bizarro shows tourism is still alive. Or is that after-alive?
(10) A GORN IN TIME SAVES NINE. “Star Trek: Discovery Season 3’s Gorn Reference Creates A TOS Plot Hole” – ScreenRant seems concerned, but Doctor Who gets along fine with a complete lack of internal consistency, so as the bard say, “What, Me Worry?”
…In “That Hope Is You,” Burnham is learning about the travails of the 32nd century from Cleveland “Book” Booker, who crashed into her as the Red Angel suit dropped out of the wormhole. Book recognizes that Burnham’s wormhole was unnatural and chastises her recklessness, not yet realizing she’s a time traveler from the past. According to Book, the Gorn “destroyed two light-years worth of subspace” while attempting to creating artificial wormholes, to which Burnham replies “the Gorn did WHAT?” The biggest curiosity here isn’t whatever mischief the Gorn have been getting up to, but how Burnham has even heard of the species. The aforementioned “Arena” episode marked the moment of first contact between Starfleet and the Gorn, and was set in 2267. The Discovery departed for the far-future in 2258, so its crew should have no idea who the Gorn are, yet Burnham’s line suggests exactly the opposite.
(11) NO FLASH, PLEASE. The Guardian article about recently rediscovered concept designs for a 1979 Flash Gordon movie — “Flesh Gordon? Artwork reveals erotic version that was never made” – suffers from a confusing headline. There was, of course, a Flesh Gordon movie released in 1974. (Bjo Trimble worked on Flesh Gordon as a makeup artist, an experience she described in her book On the Good Ship Enterprise: My 15 Years with Star Trek.) But as for the project that never reached movie screens —
…[Nicolas Roeg’s] Flash Gordon film would have starred Debbie Harry, lead singer of the American band Blondie, as Princess Aura, the seductive daughter of Ming the Merciless, the tyrannical dictator, who would have been played by Hollywood movie star Keith Carradine.
But the production was abandoned before Roeg had cast his superhero after he fell out with its producer, Dino De Laurentiis, the movie mogul who made Barbarella, a 1968 science-fiction comic adaptation that turned Jane Fonda into a sex symbol. De Laurentiis had dreamed of three Flash Gordon films. He only made one, the 1980 version directed by Mike Hodges, which became a cult favourite, with huge conventions worldwide despite disappointing reviews.
… John Walsh, a film-maker and author, has retrieved about 40 designs for the Roeg version from the British Film Institute (BFI) archives: “It’s public knowledge that Roeg worked on the film’s development. What hasn’t been seen is its artwork.”
Walsh will feature the artwork in his forthcoming book, Flash Gordon: The Official Story of the Film, to be published on 20 November.
One image depicts Flash Gordon confronting Ming for a sword fight on top of the emperor’s royal spaceship. “It is a vast sequence that could not have been realised using 1970s technology,” Walsh said. “This image has more of the flourish of the original Raymond comic strips from the 1930s.”
(12) FRANKENSTEIN SETS A RECORD. SYFY Wire has a recommendation for your listening pleasure: “The Bride Of Frankenstein’s Original 1935 Score Hits Vinyl For First Time Ever With Spooky Cool Set”.
Directed by Frankenstein’s legendary filmmaker James Whale and released in 1935 by Universal Pictures, The Bride of Frankenstein is considered by film scholars and cinephiles to represent the pinnacle of Golden Age Hollywood horror, with chilling performances by Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester, and a haunting, majestic musical score composed by the masterful Franz Waxman.
It was chosen by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1998, having been deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”
Now just in time to spice up your Halloween season, New Orleans-based Waxwork Records is presenting The Bride of Frankenstein Original 1935 Motion Picture Soundtrack by Franz Waxman for pre-order on the occasion of its 85th birthday. This marks the very first time the entire score has been delivered onto vinyl, sourced from the original 1935 acetates and masters provided to Waxwork by the Waxman estate and Universal Pictures.
(13) OLD CAT ONLY WINS ONCE A NIGHT. BBC finds the ancients also loved their SJW credentials: “Large 2,000-year-old cat discovered in Peru’s Nazca lines”.
The figure of a relaxing cat has been discovered in the Nazca desert in Peru.
The Nazca lines, a Unesco World Heritage site, is home to designs on the ground – known as geoglyphs – created some 2,000 years ago.
Scientists believe the cat, as with other Nazca animal figures, was created by making depressions in the desert floor, leaving coloured earth exposed…
In a statement, Peru’s culture ministry said: “The figure was scarcely visible and was about to disappear, because it’s situated on quite a steep slope that’s prone to the effects of natural erosion.”
It added that the geoglyph, which is about 37m (120ft) long, has been cleaned and conserved over the past week.
Johny Isla, Peru’s chief archaeologist for the Nazca lines, told Efe news agency that the cat pre-dates the Nazca culture – which created most of the figures from 200 to 700 AD.
The cat, he said, was actually from the late Paracas era, which was from 500 BC to 200 AD.
“We know that from comparing iconographies,” he said. “Paracas textiles, for example, show birds, cats and people that are easily comparable to these geoglyphs.”
(14) CHESLEY AWARDS ON THE CALENDAR. Here are the presenters for the 2020 Chesley Awards. The winners will be revealed on Saturday, October 24 at 7 p.m. EST in conjunction with IX Arts.
[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, Rob Thornton, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]