(1) THE STARS MY DESTINATION. Galactic Journey gave out the Galactic Stars for 1965 today and Thomas Burnett Swann is a double winner: “[Dec. 22, 1965] Swann Lake (the 1965 Galactic Stars)”.
…Swann is definitely a winner with his myth-inspired tales, Zelazny is hit or miss, but he hit it with Conrad, and Moorcock is a rising star to watch!
(2) ADDRESSEE UNKNOWN. At The Cut, Molly Fischer tries to figure out “Who Did J.K. Rowling Become?”
…“Perplexed” was a common reaction. Rowling had never been a particularly controversial figure. Her books sold hundreds of millions of copies, they inspired films that brought in billions of dollars, and she used the money she made to save children from orphanages. In 2012, she gave enough to charity and paid enough in taxes to knock herself off the Forbes billionaires list. In 2020, she was tweeting links to a store that sold pins that said F*CK YOUR PRONOUNS.
Read another way, though, the latest turn in Rowling’s story looks perhaps less perplexing than inevitable. It is the culmination of a two-decade power struggle for ownership of her fictional world — the right to say what Harry Potter means. The Harry Potter books describe a stark moral universe: Their heroes fight on behalf of all that is good to defeat the forces of absolute evil. Though the struggle may be lonely and hard, right ultimately beats wrong. For fans, when it came to the matter of trans rights, the message of Harry Potter was clear. For Rowling, this was no less the case.
“She absolutely believes that she is right, that she’s on a mission, and that history will eventually bear her out,” Anelli told me. “She thinks she’s doing good work right now.”…
(3) SUM OF THE YEAR’S DIGITS. Sarah Gailey knows that life is more than numbers, though they like to track them, too: “2020 in Review: Writing” at Here’s The Thing.
…This year tried so hard, from so many angles, to take away the things we rely on. At many turns, it succeeded. But here we are: whether we are whole or in pieces, you and I made it to the final days of 2020. We found ways to get each other this far, and that process meant so much more to me than a column of numbers in a notebook. I used to rely on that column of numbers more than I care to admit — but now I have other things to rely on. And it’s so much better this way.
(4) SHE’S BACK. If she’s a bluebird on a telegraph wire I hope she’s happy now. It took long enough! The Guardian celebrates that “Pioneering fairytale author Madame d’Aulnoy back in print after centuries”.
A story by Madame d’Aulnoy, the 17th-century French writer who coined the term “fairytales”, is to be published in English for the first time in more than 300 years, telling of a woman whose beauty is so great it slays her lovers by the hundreds.
Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, known as Madame or Countess d’Aulnoy, invented the term “conte de fée” or fairytale, when she published her major collection of them in 1697-98. Unlike her contemporary Charles Perrault, or later authors such as Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, today her work rarely appears outside anthologies.
Now Princeton University Press will release a new collection of her work in March, The Island of Happiness, featuring illustrations and an essay by the artist Natalie Frank.
(5) LEGISLATION. Publishers Weekly reports a new option for contesting copyright claims will soon be on the books: “CASE Act Set to Pass as Part of Omnibus Bill”.
A four year-old bill that would establish an extra-judicial “small claims court” for copyright disputes is now set to become law after Congressional leaders slipped the measure into the Covid-19 relief and omnibus spending bill now headed to President Trump’s desk. In addition, the bill includes a provision that would make illegal streaming a felony.
First introduced in 2016, the CASE Act (Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement) was re-introduced again in 2019. It passed easily in the House, but failed to get to a vote on the Senate floor and was set to die before being dropped into the omnibus spending bill this week (the CASE Act provisions begin on page 77). Among the bill’s provisions is the establishment of a copyright tribunal within the Copyright Office that would hear infringement claims, with awards for claims less than $30,000. Participation would be voluntary—a party served with a claim could opt not to go before the tribunal.
The legislation has been strongly supported by both the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers. In a statement, AAP president and CEO Maria A. Pallante called the bill’s passage a “big achievement,” and said the CASE Act “represents years of reasoned analysis, public feedback, and bipartisan leadership on Capitol Hill.”…
(6) AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME. Nerdist is ready: “It’s Time for DOCTOR WHO’s First All-Female TARDIS Team”.
…While Ryan and Graham’s relationship was a cornerstone of season 11’s plot, both characters have languished in season 12. Yaz has been a companion for two full seasons, and yet it often seems as though we barely know her. The show has given each big, emotional moments, but fails to do the everyday work that strings them together into real arcs. And that’s a shame.
The departure of Ryan and Graham will not only allow Yaz, a criminally underused character, to finally step forward into the spotlight, but it will also change the composition of the show in an unprecedented way. In season 13, the TARDIS will be populated solely by women for the first time in Doctor Who’s 54-year history—a change that feels both extremely necessary and long overdue.
(7) BOBA TIME. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Jill Serjeant, in the Reuters story “Boba Fett to get own Star Wars spin-off TV series” says that Jon Favreau announced on Good Morning America that “The Book of Boba Fett” will be in production, which is a project separate from the third season of The Mandalorian and is different than other previously announced Star Wars projects.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAYS.
- December 22, 1958 — On this day in 1958, the BBC aired the first installment of the Quatermass and the Pit television series. The first episode of the six in total was called the “The Halfmen”. Each episode was thirty one to thirty six minutes in length. It was created by Nigel Kneale, and stared André Morell. Cec Linder. Anthony Bushell, John Stratton and Christine Finn. Special effects were handled by the BBC Visual Effects Department. For the box set release, Quatermass and the Pit was extensively restored.
- December 22, 1967 — On this date in 1967 on NBC, Star Trek’s “Wolf in The Fold” premiered. It was written by Robert Bloch, one of three that he wrote, the others being “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” and “Catspaw”. Bloch played off the Jack the Ripper theme in this second season episode. Charlie Jane Anders at io9, ranked the episode as the seventy-sixth best episode of all the Star Trek series in a list of the top hundred Star Trek episodes. We should note that Baycon the next year would have five Trek episodes on the final Best Dramatic Presentation ballot though not this episode with the Harlan Ellison scripted “The City on the Edge of Forever” winning.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born December 22, 1802 – Sara Coleridge. Daughter of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Knew Latin, Greek, French, German, Italian, Spanish. Her Phantasmion (1837) may have been the first fantasy novel written in English; you can even read an 1874 edition here. (Died 1852) [JH]
- Born December 22, 1869 – E.A. Robinson. Three Pulitzer Prizes. Famous for “Richard Cory”, he gave us a “Merlin”, a “Lancelot”, two more. (He hated “Edwin” and used this form of his name. Died 1935) [JH]
- Born December 22, 1917 — Frankie Darro. What I’m most interested that it was he inside Robbie the Robot in Forbidden Planet. Other roles: showing up on Batman as a Newsman in two episodes, and The Addams Family as a Delivery Boy in one episode, I don’t think he had any other genre roles at all. Well, he was Lampwick, the boy who turns into a donkey in Pinocchio. That should count too. (Died 1976.) (CE)
- Born December 22, 1951 — Charles de Lint, 69. I’ve personally known him for twenty five years now and have quite a few of his signed Solstice chapbooks in my possession. Listing his fiction would take a full page or two as he’s been a very prolific fantasy writer so let just list some of my favorite novels by him which would be Forests of The Heart, Someplace To Be Flying, Seven Wild Sisters and The Cats of Tanglewood Forest. You’ll find my favorite chapter from Forests of The Heart here. (CE)
- Born December 22, 1939 – Norma Auer Adams, age 81. New York fan who developed a career in visual art. Here is “Goldfish Abstraction”. Here is her book Artfully Told. Here is Inside My Sketchbook. Here is Early Artwork. [JH]
- Born December 22, 1942 – Bea Barrio, age 78. Los Angeles fan who I wish would let her artwork be wider known. Here is her cover for the Bouchercon III Program Book. She did the Two of Swords in Bruce Pelz’ Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (PDF of the whole deck; scroll down, BP’s introduction comes first, then Cups, Pentacles, Swords; credits at the end). There’s a range of style for you. [JH]
- Born December 22, 1962 — Ralph Fiennes, 58. Perhaps best known genre wise as Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter film franchise, he’s also been M in the Bond films starting with Skyfall. His first genre role was as Lenny Nero in Strange Days, one of my favorite SF films. He went on to play John Steed in that Avengers films which is quite frankly merde. If you haven’t seen it, he voices Lord Victor Quartermaine in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Run now and see it! ( CE)
- Born December 22, 1965 — Victoria Alonso, 55. Argentine-born producer, co-producer or executive producer of such films as Iron Man (nominated for a Hugo), Avengers: Endgame (also Hugo nominated), the Guardians of The Galaxy franchise… Well you get the idea. (CE)
- Born December 22, 1966 – Kim Wilkins, Ph.D., age 54. Associate Professor at Univ. Queensland. A dozen novels for us, thirty all told; a score of shorter stories. Two Aurealis Awards for The Infernal. [JH]
- Born December 22, 1967 – Erik L’Homme, age 53. A dozen novels for us. Two and a half million copies sold. All three Book of the Stars volumes available in English (and two dozen other languages). Boxer and medieval historian. Re-read Chrétien de Troyes for research. Has climbed the spire of Notre Dame. “Although there has never been a female knight, I reflected on the women of character I knew and thought to myself that they were part of this new knighthood.” [JH]
- Born December 22, 1968 — Dina Meyer, 52. Of course she’s in Starship Troopers, a film that, oh well, where she’s best known for a scene we have discussed here. She actually gets to act in Dragonheart, bless the producer! And there might have been something good come out up of her role as Barbara Gordon/Oracle/Batgirl on Birds of Prey but we’ll never know. (CE)
- Born December 22, 1978 — George Mann , 42. Writer and editor. He’s edited a number of anthologies including the first three volumes of Solaris Book of New Science Fiction. Among my favourite books by him are his Newbury & Hobbes series, plus his excellent Doctor Who work. (CE)
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Close to Home makes the cure sound mundane, if not worse than the malady.
(11) BUYER’S REMORSE. For this critic it’s thumbs down: “Most Disappointing Car Reveal Of 2020: The New Batmobile”.
…As one of the most popular superheroes of all time and an iconic symbol, people understandably are pretty critical of how Batman is portrayed. If you’re also a gearhead like us, you’re especially focused on what the Dark Knight drives. Everyone has their favorite Batmobile, but there’s a strong possibility that not many people will put this latest big screen version of Batman’s ride on their top ten list, even though it’s more muscle car than before.
… This thing looks jankier than a high school auto shop class project. It’s a cobbled-together mess with no clearly-defined design theme.
(12) WW84 Q&A. The New York Times inteviews “Patty Jenkins on ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ and the Future of Theaters”.
… It’s been reported that you made around $8 million or $9 million for this movie, which would be a record for a female filmmaker.
It feels great. It really does. The weirdest part about it is that you can’t even quite wrap your head around the money, as somebody who’s never made huge amounts of money before. Really, I was so distracted with why it had to be that way that I wasn’t even able to absorb it.
What made you decide to set this film in the 1980s?
I wanted to do a full-blown “Wonder Woman” movie, but what I really wanted to talk about was what I was feeling is happening in the world. Not to get too heavy about it — I don’t want people to even know it’s about climate change — but we’re about to lose this world. What are we, when we’re at our most excessive, when we can’t stop wanting more? We all have a hard time changing our lives, but if we don’t, we’re going to lose everything. So what better time than the ’80s, before we knew any of the costs of these things?
(13) WONDER OVERDOSE. People who have seen the movie too many times this season will be fascinated by these “Dark and Twisted Interpretations of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’” at Mental Floss. The third scenario agrees —
3. BEDFORD FALLS WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER OFF WITHOUT GEORGE BAILEY.
George’s plea to his guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers) is to have never been born, and the Scrooge-esque vision Clarence grants him shows the tragedy of his family and the town. But Pottersville—the town that would have been Bedford Falls had George not stood in the way of greedy Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore)—is actually pretty great. It’s got bars and theaters and all the big-city excitement George had been dreaming of his entire life.
That’s why, in 2008, The New York Times writer Wendell Jamieson suggested that maybe things would have been better had George Bailey never been born. Or at the very least, he should have left the town to Mr. Potter’s devices.
(14) TENTACLE TAPS. I thought this kind of thing only happened in cartoons: “Octopuses Have Been Observed ‘Punching’ Fish Silly”.
Other times, octopuses will get what they want using cruder methods. Like punching a fish right in the face.
In a new study published in the journal Ecology, researcher Eduardo Sampaio at the University of Lisbon in Portugal detailed a collaborative arrangement between octopuses and different species of fish, in which the fish and cephalopods hunt for food in pairs and therefore cover a wider search area.
Observing this dynamic in the Red Sea, researchers noted that octopuses establish control of the pairing by striking at their fish partners using an arm to get them to move to a preferred position, to avoid eating the prey, or to deter them from the search entirely. They referred to this as a “swift, explosive motion with one arm,” otherwise known as “punching.”
You can watch an octopus smack the gills right off a fish in the video below….
(15) TOTAL WARRIORS. The Fabulous Fifties scanned an old Argosy article from December 1948: “How To Survive An Atomic War”. Here are a couple of frames.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: TENET” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say the new Christopher Nolan film is so complicated that stars John David Washington, Kenneth Branagh, and Robert Pattinson can’t explain what’s going on and the villain’s name, Sator, is evidence that TENET is “the movie equivalent of a crossword puzzle” (look up “Sator square” on Wikipedia).
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Contrarius, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day BGrandrath.]