(1) MUNROE DOCTRINE. “Moon dust may not burn you, but it’s no picnic.” In his debut “Good Question” column for The New York Times, “If I Touched the Moon, What Would It Feel Like?”, science author Randall Munroe explores what would happen if a person directly touched the moon.
(2) SKYWALKER PROMO. Complex supplies an introduction as “Disney Shares First Clip From ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'”.
Set on a Tatooine-like planet complete with speeder bike-style vehicles, the clip shows the trio alongside Chewbacca, C3PO, and BB-8 as they escape enroaching stormtroopers. Director and co-writer J.J Abrams recently teased that the ambition for the first entry of the sequel trilogy is at an all-time high. “What we set out to do was far more challenging,” he told Entertainment Weekly of the movie, which he admitted they had more “story adjustments” on than the previous entry he worked on, The Force Awakens.
(3) ICONIC SIXTIES COSTUMES ON THE BLOCK. Profiles in History will auction the Azarian Collection on December 17. Genre stuff galore!
John Azarian is the founder and curator of the Azarian Collection, which you can see at theazariancollection.com. As a child of the 60s and a fan of nostalgia, John began collecting iconic items from the shows and movies he loved in his youth. Some of his favorite childhood memories include the superb television shows of the 1960s, like his favorite TV show, Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward.
…The highlight of the collection just so happens to be the first items he ever purchased, coincidentally, from Profiles in History.
- The only known pair of complete costumes from The Dynamic Duo, Adam West’s “Batman” and Burt Ward’s “Robin” from the original 1960s TV series, Batman.
- Adam West’s “Bruce Wayne” Shakespeare bust with hidden switch that opens the entrance to the Batcave from Batman.
- Adam West’s “Batman” hero working Batmobile Batphone from Batman.
- William Shatner’s “Captain James T. Kirk” wraparound tunic from Star Trek: The Original Series.
- William Shatner’s “Alternate Universe Cpt. James T. Kirk” tunic from Star Trek: The Original Series, episode “Mirror, Mirror”.
- Leonard Nimoy’s “Evil Spock” tunic from Star Trek: The Original Series, episode: “Mirror, Mirror”.
- The I Dream of Jeannie signature Genie bottle.
- “Jupiter 2” spaceship filming miniature from Lost in Space.
- “Space Pod” filming miniature Lost in Space.
- Henry Winkler’s “Arthur ‘Fonzie’ Fonzarelli” signature leather jacket from Happy Days.
- Jeff Conaway’s “Kenicki” signature “T-Birds” jacket from the “Greased Lightnin’” musical number in Grease
- Lynda Carter’s “Wonder Woman” signature superhero ensemble from Wonder Woman.
- Barbara Eden’s “Jeannie” signature pink harem costume from I Dream of Jeannie.
(4) LOADING THE CANON. Library of America interviews editor Gary K. Wolfe about his selections for American Science Fiction: Eight Classic Novels of the 1960s — The High Crusade, Poul Anderson; Way Station, Clifford D. Simak; Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes; . . . And Call Me Conrad [This Immortal], Roger Zelazny; Past Master, R. A. Lafferty; Picnic on Paradise, Joanna Russ; Nova, Samuel R. Delany; and Emphyrio, Jack Vance. “Gary K. Wolfe: Reinvention and revolution in 1960s science fiction”.
LOA: Appreciations of Delany’s Nova regularly note that it has roots in old-fashioned space opera, and in the next sentence mention how it anticipates cyberpunk. How does Nova simultaneously evoke science fiction’s past and anticipate its future?
Wolfe: As his own critical and autobiographical works make clear, Delany was a sophisticated and critical reader of science fiction from an early age, so it’s not surprising he would make use of his knowledge of the genre’s classic space opera tropes, just as he had made use of the post-nuclear apocalypse theme in The Jewels of Aptor or the generation starship theme in The Ballad of Beta-2. So while the huge planet-hopping canvas and the economic and corporate rivalries suggest classic space opera, the characters are quite different. While there are human-machine interfaces and implants in Nova, I think the more important way in which it anticipates cyberpunk has to do with these characters: racially diverse, often alienated outsiders like The Mouse or drifters like Dan.
Nova is set in a much more distant future—the thirty-second century—than novels like William Gibson’s Neuromancer, set in the reasonably near future, probably sometime in the twenty-first century. And while Nova does touch upon themes like body modifications and virtual reality, it’s less concerned with information technology, urbanization, and other earmarks of cyberpunk. But I’ve always felt that, despite the remarkable futuristic insights of Gibson, Sterling, Rucker, and others, the “punk” aspect of cyberpunk is what really gave rise to all the later variations like steampunk, dieselpunk, etc.—and that streetwise “punk” sensibility was certainly prefigured by Nova, along with a few other important works of the ’50s through the ’70s.
(5) LIVE FOREVER. The New Yorker’s Joan Acocella critiques a new book’s strategies for “How to Read ‘Gilgamesh’”.
… The poet and scholar Michael Schmidt has just published a wonderful book, “Gilgamesh: The Life of a Poem” (Princeton), which is a kind of journey through the work, an account of its origins and discovery, of the fragmentary state of the text, and of the many scholars and translators who have grappled with its meaning. Schmidt encourages us to see “Gilgamesh” not as a finished, polished composition—a literary epic, like the Aeneid, which is what many people would like it to be—but, rather, something more like life, untidy, ambiguous. Only by reading it that way, he thinks, will we get close to its hard, nubbly heart.
(6) REFERENCE OF THE DAY. Now that you mention it….
(7) JURY DUTY. The Australian Science Fiction Foundation has put out a call for jurors for the 2020 Norma K Hemming Award – “eminent individuals in the Australian speculative fiction field.”
The award is designed to recognise excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, sexuality, class or disability in a published speculative fiction work. Jury members are generally appointed for a two year period, and no juror may judge the same category for more than four years. Expressions of interest are to be submitted via the online form by COB Friday December 6, 2019.
(8) DOUBLE TAKE. A DCU streamer will get a second airing on a network: “DC Universe’s ‘Stargirl’ to Air on The CW” – details in The Hollywood Reporter.
In a rare streaming-to-linear deal, the Greg Berlanti-produced superhero drama will air on The CW the day after episodes debut on WarnerMedia-backed subscription service DC Universe. Additionally, the Brec Bassinger-led drama will also be available to stream on The CW’s free digital platforms the day after their linear debut. The series will launch on DC Universe in the second quarter of 2020 with new episodes released weekly.
This is the latest effort to give a signal boost to a scripted original from the nice streaming service. In July, DC Universe renewed drama Doom Patrol for a second season with the sophomore order set to run on both DCU and WarnerMedia’s forthcoming subscription streaming service, HBO Max.
Stargirl follows high school sophomore Courtney Whitmore (Bassinger), who inspires an unlikely group of young heroes to stop the villains of the past. The project reimagines Stargirl and the very first superhero team, the Justice Society of America, in a fun, exciting and unpredictable series. Geoff Johns and Lee Moder created the character, who was named after the former’s sister, Courtney, who died in the 1996 explosion of TWA Flight 800. The character made her first appearance in July 1999’s Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #1.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- November 25, 1915 — Albert Einstein formulated his general theory of relativity.
- November 25, 1964 — Voyage To The End Of The Universe premiered. The feature starred Zdenek Stepánek and Frantisek Smolík. It’s actually a 1963 Czechoslovak called Ikarie XB-1 is and directed by Jind?ich Polák. The Americanized version has a very different end that the Czech version does.
- November 25, 1983 — I predatori di Atlantide (The Atlantis Interceptors) premiered in Italy. Starring Tony King, Christopher Connelly, Gioia Scola, Michele Soavi and George Hilton. Directed by Ruggero Deodato who also directed the widely banned Cannibal Holocaust and Phantom of Death.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born November 25, 1920 — Ricardo Montalbán. Khan Noonien Singh and Mr. Rourke. Armando and Grandpa Valentin Avellan. I’m picking those as four most memorable roles he’s played and they just happen to all be genre in nature. Oh, and is Khan Noonien Singh the only occurrence of a non-crew character carrying over from the original series into the films? I suspect not but I can’t think of anyone other. (Died 2009.)
- Born November 25, 1926 — Poul Anderson. My favorite ones by him? Orion Shall Rise for the mix of personal scale story with his usual grand political stories, and all of the Flandry and van Rijn stories. I also enjoy his Time Patrol stories as well, and the two Operation Luna are quite fun. He was quite honored with seven Hugo Awards and three Nebula Awards. (Died 2001.)
- Born November 25, 1926 — Jeffrey Hunter. Best known for his role as Capt. Christopher Pike in the original pilot episode of Star Trek and the later use of that material in “The Menagerie” episode. Other genre work included Dimension 5, A Witch Without A Broom, Strange Portrait (never released, no print is known to exists), Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Journey into Fear and The Green Hornet. (Died 1969.)
- Born November 25, 1941 — Sandra Miesel, 78. She has described herself as “the world’s greatest expert” on Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson. She’s written such works as Against Time’s Arrow: The High Crusade of Poul Anderson on Borgo Books and she’s written the front and back matter for many of their books. Oh, and she started out as a serious fan being nominated thrice for Hugos for her writing in zines such as Yandro and Granfalloon. She co-authored The Pied Piper of Atheism: Philip Pullman and Children’s Fantasy with Catholic journalist and canon lawyer Pete Vere.
- Born November 25, 1947 — John Larroquette, 72. I think his best genre role is Jenkins in The Librarians. He’s also had one-offs in Almost Human, The Twilight Zone, Chuck, Batman: The Animated Series and Fantasy Island. He’s uncredited but present in Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight, Doing voice acting in Green Lantern: First Flight, the Klingon Maltz in The Search for Spock and the oddly named K.K.K. in Twilight Zone: The Movie. Did you know he was the narrator of two Texas Chainsaw Massacre films?
- Born November 25, 1951 — Charlaine Harris, 68. She is best known for the Southern Vampire series starring Sookie Stackhouse which was adapted as True Blood. I know I’ve read several of this series and enjoyed them. She has two other series, nether genre or genre adjacent, the Aurora Teagarden and Lily Bard series.
- Born November 25, 1953 — Mark Frost, 66. He’s best known as a writer for Hill Street Blues (I know it’s not genre but superb nonetheless) and as the co-creator with David Lynch of Twin Peaks in which he’s been involved with in other roles as well. He had a hand in writing both of the Fantastic Four films. He was also one of the Executive Producers of the very short lived All Souls series.
- Born November 25, 1968 — Jill Hennessy, 51. Best known for being Dr. Marie Lazarus in RoboCop 3 which did not star Peter Weller despite my not noticing this for several viewings. She pops up elsewhere such as twice in the War of The Worlds series playing two different characters which she also foes in The Hitchhiker series, and amazingly being on Friday the 13th: The Series in four different roles!
- Born November 25, 1974 — Sarah Monette, 45. Under the pen name of Katherine Addison, she published The Goblin Emperor which garnered the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel and was nominated for the Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy Awards. She won the Spectrum Award in 2003 for her short story “Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland”. Her first two novels Mélusine and The Virtu are quite wonderful and I highly recommend her Iskryne series that she co-wrote with Elizabeth Bear.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Tom Gauld has tapped into a theme that brings to mind Lafferty’s “Slow Tuesday Night.”
(12) TURN ON THE BAT FRIGHT. “Bruce Wayne warns wealth tax on billionaires could result in fewer crimes foiled via jet-powered cars” – a facetious headline in The Beaverton.
Gotham’s leading philanthropist has joined other billionaires, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg and hedge-fund billionaire Leon Cooperman, in opposing [Elizabeth] Warren. Wayne has even gone one step further, insisting a wealth tax could curb private spending on items such as hang glider capes, personally-branded boomerangs, and rodent-themed flood lights that illuminate the night sky.
(13) AU REVOIR? French sff news site ActuSF tweeted about the recent conference in China —
“On November 24, Asian science fiction writers announced at the 5th International Science Fiction Conference in China that more international cooperation is expected in the Asian FS sector.”
— Prompting a despairing comment from Olivier Pacquet to another French SF writer, Sylvie Denis:
“We can say goodbye to a Worldcon in France in 2023.”
(14) THEY SLEIGH ME. Trader Joe is selling Grinch-inspired Grump trees for your Yuletide pleasure —
(15) HAPPI CAMPER. Mothership is there when “Pope dons traditional coat with anime image of his face to greet the Japanese”.
Pope Francis was in Japan for a four-day visit on Saturday, Nov. 23 — his second papal visit to the country.
While greeting Catholics and the media on Monday, Nov. 25, the Pope, known for his unconventional background and unorthodox methods and comments, wore a Japanese coat called a “happi”.
…Words in different languages, such as Japanese and Spanish, can be seen on the “happi” as well.
Some of the Japanese phrases read “gratitude”, “let’s pray together”, “may there be peace”, “what can be done to give disaster victims hope”, and “we are glad that you’re the pope”.
A happi is a traditional Japanese straight-sleeved coat. They are usually worn only during festivals. Originally these represented the crest of a family, as happi were worn by house servants. Firefighters in the past also used to wear happi; the symbol on their backs referred to the group with which they were associated.
(16) LET NOTHING STAND IN YOUR WAY. This is wonderfully over the top. A Foot Locker commercial asks people how desperately do they want this shoe? “Would you do whatever it takes to get to the Week of Greatness and get the drop? Even if aliens attacked Earth during a zombie epidemic and a global meteor storm?”
[Thanks to John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, Olav Rokne, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day, our neighbor Jon Meltzer.]