(1) DOCTOR WHO AT DUBLIN 2019 BLOG. Nicholas Whyte explains why it’s a challenge to write about “Doctor Who in Ireland”, then fannishly does so anyway —
23 November 2018 marks the 55th anniversary of the first episode of Doctor Who. It is a sad fact that not a single second of TV screen time on the show, or any of its spinoffs, has been set in Ireland. Indeed, the Doctor has spent more televised time in Hungary than on the Emerald Isle (special prize if you know what story I am referring to). A couple of confused characters do wonder if Gallifrey, the home planet of the Time Lords, may be in Ireland, but that’s as close as we get.
(2) A SHURI THING. Issue 2 of Nnedi Okorafor’s Shuri comics for Marvel was released November 21. This is one of the variant covers, by Afua Richardson.
— Nnedi Okorafor, PhD (@Nnedi) November 18, 2018
(3) BUBBLES POPPIN’. Julie Andrews has reportedly performed a voice role in Aquaman (Entertainment Weekly: “Julie Andrews has a secret role in Aquaman”). Aquaman opens theatrically 21 December. Amazon Prime members will get a chance to buy tickets to advance screenings 15 December.
A member of Hollywood royalty has a secret role in Warner Bros.’ upcoming Aquaman.
None other than Oscar-winner Julie Andrews has a previously unannounced part to play in the superhero adventure, EW has learned exclusively.
The Sound of Music actress voices the mythic Karathen, an undersea creature that holds the key to Arthur Curry’s (Jason Momoa) quest to unite the Atlantean and surface worlds.
The casting is particularly interesting as Aquaman is going head-to-head at the box office next month against Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns[…]
Andrews hasn’t appeared in a film in nearly a decade, but has lent her unmistakable voice to other big screen projects over the last decade (such as Despicable Me 3 and Shrek Forever After) and appeared in the Netflix series Julie’s Greenroom.
(4) COUNTLESS BRICKS. Arrives in theaters February 8 — The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. Here’s Official Trailer 2.
The much-anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed, global box office phenomenon that started it all, “The LEGO® Movie 2: The Second Part,” reunites the heroes of Bricksburg in an all new action-packed adventure to save their beloved city. It’s been five years since everything was awesome and the citizens are facing a huge new threat: LEGO DUPLO® invaders from outer space, wrecking everything faster than they can rebuild. The battle to defeat them and restore harmony to the LEGO universe will take Emmet, Lucy, Batman and their friends to faraway, unexplored worlds, including a strange galaxy where everything is a musical. It will test their courage, creativity and Master Building skills, and reveal just how special they really are.
(5) CHINA STRENGTHENS PENALTIES ON BANNED CONTENT. Reuters news service reports “Ten years’ jail term for Chinese author of homoerotic novel sparks outcry”.
A Chinese court’s 10-year jail term for an author of a homoerotic book found guilty of profiting from selling “obscene” literature has been met with disbelief among some internet users who question how the crime could warrant so severe a punishment.
The author, surnamed Liu, was found guilty on Oct. 31 by Wuhu county court in eastern Anhui province after she self-published a book that “obscenely and in detail described gay male-male acts”, according to state media.
The court ruled that the strict sentence was enforced due to her having made 150,000 yuan ($21,600) by selling over 7,000 copies, the article said.
…Pornography has long been illegal in China, but in recent years, the Communist Party has intensified efforts to clear away what it sees as inappropriate content, introducing new legislation, rewards and punishments to help its aims.
Authorities on Saturday launched a campaign to “eradicate pornography and illegal publications” by offering heightened rewards of up to 600,000 yuan for reporting banned content to the police, starting from December.
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) is an independent agency of the U.S. government which monitors human rights and rule of law developments in the People’s Republic of China. It was created in October 2001. Their post on the topic asserts “Freedom of Expression in China: A Privilege, Not a Right”:
Chinese officials have stated that anyone wanting to publish their opinions may submit their article or book to a government-licensed publisher, but if they are unable to find a licensed publisher, then the only way they can legally exercise their constitutional right to freedom of publication is to “enjoy their works themselves, or give copies to friends and family.”
While homosexuality hasn’t been classified as a crime since 1997, same-sex relationships are still banned from the small screen and online streaming platforms. And the government seems to have a bone to pick with pornography, as authorities recently upped the monetary reward given to those who report such “illegal” content to a maximum of more than $86,000 (U.S).
The Hong Kong Free Press, in its story “China ups cash rewards to US$86,000 for citizens who report porn”, provides additional background about the government’s enforcement of internet rules:
… Starting December 1, people can rake in up to 600,000 yuan (US$86,000) for reporting illegal content, online or otherwise, double the 300,000 yuan under previous guidelines.
What counts as “illegal” content in China is broadly defined, but includes work that “endangers national unity”, “leaks state secrets”, and “disturbs social order” — umbrella terms that are also sometimes used when authorities punish or silence Chinese dissidents and rights campaigners.
… Earlier this week the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said it had “cleaned up” 9,800 accounts on Chinese social media platforms which it accused of spreading “politically harmful” information and rumours.
(6) NEGATIVE FEEDBACK. The Independent details the impact of China’s newly-implemented “social credit” system: “China blacklists millions of people from booking flights as ‘social credit’ system introduced”.
Millions of Chinese nationals have been blocked from booking flights or trains as Beijing seeks to implement its controversial “social credit” system, which allows the government to closely monitor and judge each of its 1.3 billion citizens based on their behaviour and activity.
The system, to be rolled out by 2020, aims to make it “difficult to move” for those deemed “untrustworthy”, according to a detailed plan published by the government this week.
It will be used to reward or punish people and organisations for “trustworthiness” across a range of measures.
A key part of the plan not only involves blacklisting people with low social credibility scores, but also “publicly disclosing the records of enterprises and individuals’ untrustworthiness on a regular basis”.
The plan stated: “We will improve the credit blacklist system, publicly disclose the records of enterprises and individuals’ untrustworthiness on a regular basis, and form a pattern of distrust and punishment.”
For those deemed untrustworthy, “everywhere is limited, and it is difficult to move, so that those who violate the law and lose the trust will pay a heavy price”.
The credit system is already being rolled out in some areas and in recent months the Chinese state has blocked millions of people from booking flights and high-speed trains.
According to the state-run news outlet Global Times, as of May this year, the government had blocked 11.14 million people from flights and 4.25 million from taking high-speed train trips.
The state has also begun to clamp down on luxury options: 3 million people are barred from getting business class train tickets, according to Channel News Asia.
(The Global Times is a daily Chinese tabloid newspaper under the auspices of the People’s Daily newspaper, focusing on international issues from the Chinese government’s perspective. Channel News Asia is a pay TV news channel based in Singapore.)
(7) ROEG OBIT. Nicholas Roeg (1928-2018), director of The Man Who Fell to Earth and the Roald Dahl based The Witches; photographer on Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death and Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 — “Nicolas Roeg obituary: From tea-maker to director’s chair”.
‘His breakthrough came in 1964 when he worked as a cinematographer on Roger Corman’s film The Masque of the Red Death, an adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe short story, starring Vincent Price.
Corman was gaining a reputation for spotting and developing new talent and boosted the careers of other future directors including James Cameron and Martin Scorsese.
Interestingly the red-clad figure in the Corman film foreshadowed a similarly dressed character in Roeg’s masterpiece, Don’t Look Now.
He also worked on Francois Truffaut’s Farenheit 451, which was notable for the bright hues in which it was shot, and on John Schlesinger’s 1967 adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel, Far From the Madding Crowd.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]
- Born November 24, 1882 – E.R. Eddison. Writer whose most well-known work by far is The Worm Ouroboros. It’s slightly connected to his lesser-known later Zimiamvian Trilogy. And quite frankly, having never read a word of his works, that’s all I can say. (Died 1945.)
- Born November 24, 1907 – Evangeline Walton. Her best-known work, the Mabinogion tetralogy which retells the Welsh Mabinogi, was written during the late 1930s and early 1940s. The first volume came out in 1936 under the publisher’s title of The Virgin and the Swine, which is inarguably a terrible title. Although it receiving glowing praise from John Cowper Powys, the book sold quite awfully, and therefore none of the other novels in the series were published at that time. Granted a second chance by Ballantine’s Adult Fantasy series in 1970, it was reissued, with a much better title of The Island of the Mighty, and sold accordingly. The other three volumes followed quickly. Her Theseus trilogy was produced during the late 1940s. Witch House is an occult horror story set in New England, and She Walks in Darkness – which just came out from Tachyon Publications – is genre as well. I think that is the extent of her genre work, but I’d be delighted to corrected. She has won a number of awards including the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, Best Novel, The Fritz Leiber Fantasy Award, World Fantasy Award, Convention Award and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1996.)
- Born November 24, 1916 – Forrest J Ackerman. It’s no wonder that he got a Hugo Award for #1 Fan Personality in 1953, and equally telling that after he was handed the trophy (at Philcon II by Asimov), he physically declined, saying it should go to Ken Slater, to whom the trophy was later given by the con committee. That’s a nice summation of him. As a literary agent, he represented some two hundred writers, and he served as agent of record for many long-lost authors, thereby allowing their work to be reprinted. Hell, he represented Ed Wood! He was a prolific writer, more than fifty stories to his credit, and he named Vampirella and wrote the origin story for her. Speaking of things pulp, which she assuredly is, he appeared in several hundred films which I’ll not list here, and even wrote lesbian erotica. Eclectic doesn’t begin to describe him. His nonfiction writings are wonderful as well. I’ll just single out Forrest J Ackerman’s Worlds of Science Fiction, A Reference Guide to American Science Fiction Films, and a work he did with Brad Linaweaver, Worlds of Tomorrow: The Amazing Universe of Science Fiction Art. Did I mention he collected everything? Well, he did. Just one location alone contained some three hundred thousand books, film, SF material objects and writings. The other was eighteen rooms in extent. Damn, if anyone needed their own TARDIS, it was him. In his later years, he was a board member of the Seattle Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, which now has possession of many items of his collection. If there was ever anyone who truly was the best in fandom, I believe it was him. So let’s toast him his memory. (Died 2008.)
- Born November 24, 1948 – Spider Robinson. His first story “The Guy with the Eyes” was published in Analog February 1973. It was set in a bar called Callahan’s Place, a setting for much of his later fiction. In 1976, his first published novel, Telempath, was an expansion of his Hugo award-winning novella “By Any Other Name”. The Stardance trilogy was co-written with his wife Jeanne Robinson. In 2004, he began working to expand into a novel a seven-page 1955 outline left by the late Heinlein. The resulting novel would be called Variable Star. Who’s read it? Oh, he’s certainly won awards. John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (1974; Hugo Awards for: Best Novella (1977); “By Any Other Name”; Best Novella (1978); “Stardance”‘ (with Jeanne Robinson); Best short story (1983); “Melancholy Elephants”; Nebula Award for: Best Novella (1977); “Stardance” (with Jeanne Robinson) 2008; Robert A. Heinlein Award (for Lifetime Achievement) 2015; LASFS Forrest J Ackerman Award for Lifetime Achievement; Named a Guest of Honor at the 2018 World Science Fiction Convention.
- Born November 24, 1957 – Jeff Noon, 61. Novel and playwright. Prior to his relocation in 2000 to Brighton, his stories reflected in some way his native though not birth city of Manchester. The Vurt sequence is a very odd riff off Alice in Wonderland that Noon describes as a prequel to those works. Look I’m not sure I’m the right person to explain these books so y’all should do so. Really go ahead, educate me. Same goes for all the other books he’s done such as Needle in the Groove.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Non Sequitur gives an illustration of the term “comparative difficulty.”
- Tom the Dancing Bug turns Marvel comics history into hilarity.
(10) WHOVIAN COMPLAINT FORM. The popular meme has been given an update to include the latest gripes:
(11) LAST OF THE INKLINGS. Weekly Standard profiles “The Steward of Middle-earth”, Christopher Tolkien.
…Now, after more than 40 years, at the age of 94, Christopher Tolkien has laid down his editor’s pen, having completed a great labor of quiet, scholastic commitment to his father’s vision. It is the concluding public act of a gentleman and scholar, the last member of a club that became a pivotal part of 20th-century literature: the Inklings. It is the end of an era.
All of this would have come as a great surprise to 24-year-old J.R.R. Tolkien as he scrambled down the lice-ridden trenches of the Somme. Catching trench fever removed Tolkien from the front lines and probably saved his life. While on sick leave, he began a draft of The Fall of Gondolin. Now, 102 years later, it sits on the shelves of every Barnes & Noble in the country.
The first draft of The Fall of Gondolin was begun during the Great War; the final incomplete version is dated 1951. Both versions are included in the newly published book, along with fragments and working drafts. While the story itself is good, its true weight is as the final piece of the Tolkien legendarium, a project an entire century in the making.
It is work that has spanned Christopher Tolkien’s life….
(12) HISTORY OF DUDS. This BBC video highlights “The museum that embraces failure” – of mostly-tech ideas that didn’t catch on. My fellow vintage Filers will remember some of them.
(13) EGGSACTLY. Yahoo! Entertainment gets all the free-range references: “From ‘Frozen 2’ to ‘Star Wars’: Here’s your guide to all the Disney Easter eggs in ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet'”. BEWARE SPOILERS.
As the title suggests, the animated sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet finds everyone’s favorite fictional ’80s video game character, Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly), careening through the online world like — what else? — a wrecking ball. But even as the new film lightly satirizes internet giants like eBay and Google, many of its best gags are aimed directly at its parent corporation, the Walt Disney Company.
(14) THE UNITED STATES SPACE PROGRAM CINEMATIC UNIVERSE. If the Marvel and DC Cinematic Universes are by design, there are others you might claim have been created by coincidence. Patrick Willems takes us on an idea-trip through some of “The Original Cinematic Universes.”
(15) FIRST FLIGHT OF ION-DRIVE AIRCRAFT. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] A remarkable machine propelled by ionic wind could signal a future with cleaner aeroplanes. Nature reports on “Flight test for ion drive”:
In February 1904, a short news item in Nature marked a monumental event. It recorded the achievements of the American brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright and the contraption that they had launched from a hill in North Carolina a couple of months earlier. “They now appear to have succeeded in raising themselves from the ground by a motor-driven machine,” Nature stated. It was, “the first successful achievement of artificial flight”. That first trip lasted barely 12 seconds.
Nearly 115 years later, Nature reports on another historic brief flight, which this time lasted 8–9 seconds. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge describe an aviation breakthrough that will draw inevitable comparisons to that wobbly and fragile first journey by air. The aeroplane is powered by a battery connected to a type of engine called an ion drive that has no moving parts.
You can watch the flight here:
Summary of the science at Nature here [PDF file].
Apparently, the inventor was inspired by the Star Trek shuttles.
Full primary research article here (you can access if you are either at an academic/research institution with a Nature subscription or if you are a subscriber yourself, otherwise it costs) — https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0707-9.pdf
(16) TIME’S UP. This item is more fun if you watch the video before reading Slate’s intro:
A project description said that Baas was inspired by “the many faceless men who sweep, clean and work at an airport in their blue overalls.” (Are there no female janitors at the Amsterdam airport?) Baas described the “Schiphol Clock” as “basically a big box hanging from the ceiling in Lounge 2,” adding that he decided to use “the most archetypical form of a clock.”
But he added a ladder and a door to create an imaginary path that his video janitor might have used to access the clock, just to heighten the surrealism. “He has a red bucket and a yellow cleaning cloth and he is cleaning up after the hands of time, after which he creates a new minute, every time again,” Baas said…
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew, John King Tarpinian, Brian Z., Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]