(1) NEWTON’S LAW LAB. From 2010, “William R. Newman on Why Did Isaac Newton Believe in Alchemy.”
Indiana University professor of History and Philosophy of Science, William R. Newman presents his lecture, entitled Why Did Isaac Newton Believe in Alchemy? Through historical documents and experiments that demonstrate alchemical processes, this lecture explains why one of the most insightful scientists in history was convinced that alchemical transformations were scientifically plausible.
(2) IT’S AROUND HERE SOMEWHERE. “Apocalypse Always: On Matthew Wolf-Meyer’s ‘Theory for the World to Come’” – a review by Sean Guynes at LA Review of Books.
…Theory for the World to Come offers short, personal readings of a handful of familiar SF texts, including blockbuster films like RoboCop and novels by Octavia Butler, Orson Scott Card, Stephen Graham Jones, and Kurt Vonnegut. To these quintessentially SF texts he adds more loosely speculative ones, including funk music and Dougal Dixon’s speculative nonfiction book Man After Man. Wolf-Meyer identifies in each text an attempt to deal with a singular apocalypse and argues that in reading them collectively, in imagining their futurities together, we can better respond to the multiplicity inherent in all apocalypse. For Wolf-Meyer, apocalyptic imaginaries “produce models to think about society and how it might recover from devastating — if not ontology shattering — events.” Nothing new to scholars of SF, but Wolf-Meyer contends that these collective imaginings of devastating events offer a titular “theory for the world to come.” Indeed, in the time of ongoing apocalypse, we are already living in need of such theory and have only to produce it through engaging, praxis-oriented readings of speculative fiction.
(3) MULTI-STORY HOMES. Ray Bradbury and other writers are part of The Argonaut’s survey: “The Westside’s Hidden Literary History Is Written In Its Lost Architecture”.
…Bradbury would take advantage of the burgeoning bohemian atmosphere, living on Venice Boulevard — although moving a few blocks closer to the beach in 1947 — until the end of the decade. In 1950, the same year “The Martian Chronicles” was published, he left Venice.
The 670 property stayed in town a while longer, until it was demolished and replaced with a New York-style art gallery. The gallery opened in 2010, held a Bradbury-themed exhibit in 2012 and closed in 2013.
The Cheviot Hills property where Bradbury lived from the 1960s until his death in 2012 suffered a similar fate when it was torn down by the new owner, resulting in a public outcry.
Properties in Los Angeles can be designated Historic-Cultural Monuments, which gives them a protected status. Properties can be nominated for the designation by anyone, and they are often nominated by the owners themselves, Bernstein said. However, there are not as many Historic-Cultural Monuments on the Westside as there are in other parts of Los Angeles.
“Land values are so high and many might envision a land development in their future,” he said.
Of course, not every piece of Westside literary history has vanished. The house where Christopher Isherwood wrote his landmark novel “A Single Man” still privately observes the Santa Monica Canyon from its Ocean Avenue vantage point.
And sometimes, rather than vanish, literary history generates spontaneously. William Faulkner was rumored to have lived on an El Greco Street in Santa Monica — no such street seems to have existed in the city.
Another writer whose Westside presence was slightly overstated was Raymond Chandler. Loren Latker, operator of the Raymond Chandler fan website Shamus Town (www.shamustown.com), started investigating the crime writer’s many Los Angeles area homes and quickly noticed something amiss. Chandler lore had it that the writer lived at 723 Stewart St. in Santa Monica in the early 1920s when he was an executive at the Dabney Oil Syndicate.
“I went there looking around, and the addresses are wrong,” Latker said. “It’s not possible that he lived on Stewart in Santa Monica.”
Old maps of the area backed him up. Stewart did not cross Wilshire, where the 723 address would have been, Latker said. Chandler most likely lived on a Stewart Street in downtown Los Angeles, which was later renamed Witmer, he said. That would be near the Mayfair Hotel, an infamous Chandler haunt where the writer would check in, get drunk, call his office and threaten to kill himself….
(4) GOFUNDME. Steve Perrin has launched a GoFundMe to assist his wife Luise, a member of the SCA and LASFS: “Care for the Phoenix”
My wife Luise Perenne, known as Luise of the Phoenix in the early days of the SCA, an artist in both dance and illustration, is going into hospice care after a very close call from a heart attack and pneumonia. She is extremely weak and at age 76 needs more help than I (at age 74) can provide. She starts hospice care at home on Monday. We need a caretaker to come in a couple of hours a day to help Luise, take care of her personal needs, and so forth. The usual charge is $25.00 an hour. Assuming 2 hours a day for a caretaker, that’s $1500 a 30-day month, and I am asking for more to cover extra time or other emergencies. After the 1st month we will have a better idea of what is needed and I will do another GFM.
Offers to physically help from local friends are always appreciated.
(5) RING ME UP. Looper has made a directory: “Lord of the Rings: Every Ring-bearer in chronological order”. I knew who the first and last ones were – in between it gets busy!
It should come as no surprise that the first person to bear the One Ring is none other than the Dark Lord himself. After all, it’s Sauron who forges the overpowered loop of metal in the first place, right smack dab in the middle of the Second Age of Middle-earth history.
Of course, Sauron was around for a very long time before he made the One Ring. He started out as an angelic being that predated time itself. Eventually, the world was created, and he joined forces with the original Dark Lord, Morgoth. When Morgoth was defeated at the end of the First Age, Sauron stepped into his shoes and became the new Dark Lord.
(6) MALKIN GREY REMEMBERED. Now online, Pippin Macdonald’s tribute to her mother, Debra Doyle
…As a member of the SCA, she was known as Malkin Grey. She was chronicaler for the Barony of BhaKail, and later Tir-y-Don, and as such claimed she needed to be unbiased in any feuds that may crop up, so she could properly report on them. Really, it was her way of staying out of their drama.
While in the SCA she wrote, with her best friend Peregrynne Windrider, “The Song of the Shield Wall.” Mom said it might have been the most wide reaching thing she ever wrote. Stanzas of it have ended up written on the walls of army outposts in Iraq. When my brother, Brendan, went to Pensic one year, when he told the bards his mom was Malkin Grey, it was as if he told them he was Mick Jagger’s kid. She earned numerous awards for her service to the SCA, including Mistress of the Pelican. …
(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
- November 7, 1997 — Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers premiered. It’s based loosely off Robert Heinlein’s Hugo Award winning novel of the same name. It had a cast of Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards Jake Busey, Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Muldoon and Michael Ironside, and it received a mixed reception by critics ranging from utterly loathing it to really, really loving it and a generally negative one by most SF fans; it currently garners a seventy percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes among the quarter million audience reviewers who’ve given an opinion, and has long since earned back its modest budget. It would spawn a number of sequels, mostly bad, and one rather excellent animated series.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born November 7, 1910 — Pearl Argyle. Catherine CabalI in the 1936 Things to Come as written by H.G. Wells based off his “The Shape of Things to Come” story. Being a dancer, she also appeared in 1926 in The Fairy Queen opera by Henry Purcell, with dances by Marie Rambert and Frederick Ashton. Her roles were Dance of the Followers of Night, an attendant on Summer, and Chaconne. (Died 1946.) (CE)
- Born November 7, 1914 – R.A. Lafferty. One of our most original and strange. A score of novels, two hundred thirty shorter stories, three dozen poems. Outside our field, see particularly The Fall of Rome; Okla Hannali. His name and Sir Arthur Clarke’s saying “One of the few writers who have made me laugh aloud” gave rise to LaffCons (here in 2019 even Darrell Schweitzer, 2nd from L, is almost at a loss); they and RAL’s East of Laughter gave rise to Feast of Laughter, 5 vols. so far; but while RAL is indeed comic, remember that the difference between comic significance and cosmic significance is a single sibilant. One Hugo; Phoenix Award, World Fantasy Award, for life achievement. Even the titles are strange (“Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne”, “Maybe Jones and the City”, “Or Little Ducks Each Day”). Past Master may be the best start. (Died 2002) [JH]
- Born November 7, 1917 – Mike Rosenblum. Pioneer British fan. Attended the 1937 Leeds convention. Leading collector. Doc Weir Award (for U.K. service). Famous for Futurian War Digest; also in FAPA, Vector. (Died 1978) [JH]
- Born November 7, 1923 – Blanche Howard. One novel for us; five others of which one was co-authored and then adapted for stage, a dozen shorter stories, correspondence with co-author. Last novel at 87. (Died 2014) [JH]
- Born November 7, 1934 — Wendy Williams. You know I’ll work a Doctor Who reference in and she was in a Fourth Doctor story, “The Ark in Space” as Vira. Other genre appearances include Danger Man, Jack the Ripper, Leap in the Dark and The Further Adventures of the Musketeers. (Died 2019.) (CE)
- Born November 7, 1947 – Margaret Ball, Ph.D., 73. Three novels with Anne McCaffrey, two dozen more, a dozen shorter stories. Fulbright scholar. Univ. Cal. Los Angeles professor. Now retired in favor of fabric arts, see here. [JH]
- Born November 7, 1950 — Lindsay Duncan, 70. Adelaide Brooke in the Tenth Doctor‘s “The Waters of Mars” story and the recurring role of Lady Smallwood on Sherlock in “His Last Vow”, “The Six Thatchers” and “The Lying Detective”. She’s also been in Black Mirror, A Discovery of Witches, Frankenstein, The Storyteller: Greek Myths, Mission: 2110 and one of my favorite series, The New Avengers. (CE)
- Born November 7, 1954 — Guy Gavriel Kay, 66. The story goes that when Christopher Tolkien needed an assistant to edit his father J. R. R. Tolkien’s unpublished work, he chose Kay who was being a student of philosophy at the University of Manitoba. And Kay moved to Oxford in 1974 to assist Tolkien in editing The Silmarillion. Cool, eh? The Finovar trilogy which I love is the retelling of the legends of King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere which is why much of his fiction is considered historical fantasy. Tigana likewise which is wonderful somewhat resembles renaissance Italy. My favorite work by him is Ysabel which strangely enough is called am urban fantasy when it isn’t. It won a World Fantasy Award. Let’s not forget that he was the Toastmaster at ConFrancisco. (CE)
- Born November 7, 1960 — Linda Nagata, 60. Her novella “Goddesses” was the first online publication to win the Nebula Award. She writes largely in the Nanopunk genre which is not be confused with the Biopunk genre. To date, she has three series out, to wit The Nanotech Succession, Stories of the Puzzle Lands (as Trey Shiels) and The Red. She has won a Locus Award for Best First Novel for The Bohr Maker which the first novel in The Nanotech Succession. Her 2013 story “Nahiku West” was runner-up for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and The Red: First Light was nominated for both the Nebula Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Her site is here. (CE)
- Born November 7, 1963 – Robh Ruppel, 57. A score of covers, threescore interiors, trading cards, for us; here is Dragon 232, here is Earth Hour, here is Passage to Dawn. Among other things, here is his book Aspect Ratio, here is a review of his book Graphic L.A. [JH]
- Born November 7, 1974 — Carl Steven. He appeared in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock as a young Spock, thereby becoming the first actor other than Leonard Nimoy to play the role in a live action setting. Genre one-offs included Weird Science, Teen Wolf and Superman. He provided the voice of a young Fred Jones for four seasons worth of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo which can be construed as genre. (Died 2011.) (CE)
- Born November 7, 1982 – Zhang Yueran, 38. Won Mengya magazine’s 2001 New Concept writing competition. Her 2004 collection Ten Loves tr. Engl. 2013, see particularly “The Ghost of Sushui City” tr. Engl. as “A Sushui Ghost Story”. Int’l Writing Program Fall Residency 2011, Univ. Iowa. [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Pearls Before Swine offers bad advice about ending a novel.
(10) FACETIME. “Star Wars: Why Tusken Raiders Wear Masks”. ScreenRant wants to explain, but heck, doesn’t everybody now?
…Star Wars: A New Hope also introduced the audience to some of the creatures and alien species that inhabit this vast universe, though many of them weren’t fully identified until many years later when George Lucas brought the prequel trilogy. Such is the case of the Tusken Raiders, who made their first appearance in A New Hope but weren’t identified as such until Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, where viewers spent a lot of time in Tatooine, following a young Anakin Skywalker. After that, Tusken Raiders were absent for the rest of the Star Wars saga, but they recently returned in Disney+’s The Mandalorian, which has brought back some questions about them, such as why they wear masks and why they never take them off.
(11) GET YOUR CANDLES READY. November 13 is the day — “‘Fantasia’ Turns 80: Why Its Technological Achievements Can’t Salvage Its Shortcomings” Or so says Christian Blauvelt.
…We’re not here to bury “Fantasia.” A lot of it is impressive, even absorbing: the “Toccata and Fugue” sequence that opens this unique anthology plays like an experimental film, and the “Rite of Spring” transplants Stravinsky’s inflammatory ballet to the beginning of life on Earth before delivering the best dinosaur epic pre-“Jurassic Park.” But “Fantasia” is also the ultimate example of “white elephant art” in film, to borrow critic Manny Farber’s label. This is a case of Walt Disney being so committed to making an “important” film, a “breakthrough” film — one he felt would make critics take animation that much more seriously — that he ends up with a work of just intermittent artistry.
(12) ALFRED BESTER’S MARINER SCRIPT. “Eight Months to Mars” on YouTube is a 1965 documentary, done for the U.S. Information Agency and narrated by John Fitch, about the Mariner IV mission to Mars. It includes copies of covers from Amazing and Galaxy, an argument that the Martian atmosphere could be made of sugar, the first photos of craters on Mars, and a prediction that human spaceflight to Mars would begin in 1980. The script for this documentary is by Alfred Bester.
(13) WHO YA GONNA CALL? AutoBlog promises “Lego’s 18.5-inch Ghostbusters Ecto-1 will make you feel like bustin'”.
…The set is comprised of a whopping 2,352 Lego pieces and when completed, will measure 18.5 inches long. It’s one of the more accurate Lego vehicles the company has created, and features a steering box connecting the steering wheel to the front wheels, hinged doors and an opening hood with replica V8 engine inside.
Like the movie car, it’s packed with ghost-fighting gadgetry….
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Mokapzu Park on Vimeo, Art and Graft shows what a park would be like after all the plants and animals died and scientists have to create new animals from discarded plastic bottles.
[Thanks to Rob Thornton, Lis Riba, Will R., JJ, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]