(1) NOT TODAY’S TITLE. “ONCE UPON a time there was a Martian with a wooden leg named Valentine Michael Smith. What its other two legs were named, nobody knows.”
(2) EXFOLIATE! The Baltimore Science Fiction Society has seasonally decorated the club’s Dalek. Michael J. Walsh snapped a photo —
(3) ICON RECOGNITION. The Guardian’s “Picture quiz: how well do you know your sci-fi and fantasy?” is really an elaborate ad for The Folio Society.
Calling all Tolkien heads and sci-fi savants: can you match the illustration to the book? Each one has a clue to help you out.
In theory you should be able to guess from the artwork. Although I scored 7/8, without the clues I don’t know if I’d gotten any of them right.
(4) THE ROOTS OF BABY GROOT. Skeptics have been put on notice that this was something done only for wholesome artistic reasons – I’m sorry, did my nose just grow? “Guardians of the Galaxy 2 director says Baby Groot was a ‘creative change,’ not a marketing ploy”.
Despite what some may believe, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 director James Gunn insists Baby Groot is not a ploy to sell more Marvel merchandise.
Responding to a fan inquiry on Twitter, Gunn wrote, “I’m sure some people think that but for me keeping him Baby Groot throughout the film was the creative change that opened the film up for me. I was less confident the studio was going to buy in on Baby Groot than I was they were going to buy in on Ego the Living Planet” — the latter being Kurt Russell’s character and Star-Lord’s father.
(5) DYLAN’S NOBEL. The New Yorker’s Amanda Petrusich covered the ceremony — “A Transcendant Patti Smith Accepts Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize”.
That Dylan ultimately accepted the Nobel with a folk song (and this specific folk song, performed by a surrogate, a peer) seemed to communicate something significant about how and what he considers his own work (musical, chiefly), and the fluid, unsteady nature of balladry itself—both the ways in which old songs are fairly reclaimed by new performers, and how their meanings change with time. Before Smith took the stage, Horace Engdahl, a literary historian and critic, dismissed any controversy over Dylan’s win, saying the decision “seemed daring only beforehand, and already seems obvious.” He spoke of Dylan’s “sweet nothings and cruel jokes,” and his capacity for fusing “the languages of the streets and the Bible.” In the past, he reminded us, all poetry was song.
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY
- December 11, 1972 — Apollo 17 landed on the moon. It was the final Apollo lunar landing. Ron Evans was the command module pilot and Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt walked on the surface during the mission. Cernan was the last to re-enter their lunar module — the last man on the moon.
- December 11, 1991 — Amblin’s Hook opens in wide release after its LA premiere days earlier.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL
- Born December 11, 1922 — Vampira, (aka Maila Nurmi).
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- Born December 11, 1781 — Scottish physicist and kaleidoscope inventor David Brewster
(9) WHAT’S A GOOD INTRODUCTION TO SF? Jason Sanford returns to controversy he wrote about last year in “Let Us Now Praise ‘Famous’ Authors”.
A few years ago I was on a SF/F convention panel about bringing new readers into our genre. I mentioned that science fiction needed more gateway novels, which are novels new genre readers find both approachable and understandable (a type of novel the fantasy genre is filled with but which are more rare in the science fiction genre).
As I stated this another author on the panel snorted and said we don’t need new gateway SF novels because the juvenile novels written by Heinlein in the 1950s are still perfect. This author believed the first exposure kids have to science fiction should be novels from the 1950s. And that this should never change.
That is the attitude people should fear because, in the long run, it will kill our genre.
This brings me back to my earlier point about the “famous” people our world holds up to acclaim. Yes, many famous authors helped build our genre, but so did the work and love of countless forgotten people.
(10) ROGUE SCIENCE. Neil deGrasse Tyson only needs a minute to explain why he is a Death Star skeptic in a video on Business Insider.
Owning a Death Star comes with some serious risk, especially when it was constructed with a serious design flaw. But astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has a more practical reason why the ‘Star Wars’ Death Star didn’t quite make sense.
(11) DIGITAL COMICS POLL. You have until December 23 to vote for Digital Comic of The Year 2016 at Pipedream Comics.
It’s been another bumper year for exciting and innovative digital comics in 2016. From boundary pushing webcomics to crowd-funded sensations to cutting edge apps, we have picked out 10 of the best for you to vote on and declare the best Digital Comic Of The Year 2016. So get involved and make sure your favourite joins the likes of Madefire’s Captain Stone and Mono:Pacific, David Lloyd’s Aces Weekly and last year’s champion Adventures in Pulp, as winner of our prestigious prize. Below is our rundown of the contenders for this year’s prize, and you can cast your vote here. (Polls close at midnight on December 23rd!)
Here are links to some of the contenders, where you can see full comics or samples:
- Aces Weekly: http://www.acesweekly.co.uk/free-sample-1
- Dark Pulsar (Expanded Comics) (iOS app): https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/expanded-comics/id962204800
- Deer Editor (Ryan K Lindsay): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoW2AXVQEhg
- On A Sunbeam (Tillie Walden): http://www.onasunbeam.com
- Phallaina (iOS app): https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/phallaina-1st-scrolling-graphic/id1065519750
- Scurry (Mac Smith): http://www.scurrycomic.com/scurry-comic/2016/1/17/comic-01-00
- Spectrum (Firefly pastiche from Con Man webseries): http://www.madefire.com/motion-books/SPECTRUM-0
- Theatrics (TPub): http://tpub.co.uk/theatrics-webcomic
- These Memories Won’t Last (SutuEatsFlies): http://memories.sutueatsflies.com
- The Walking Dead: The Alien (Panel Syndicate): http://panelsyndicate.com/previews/twd_thealien
(12) DOG SHOW. When Doris V. Sutherland dared to question the quality of Brian Niemeier’s Dragon Award-winning book, the author and another puppy blogger insisted the emperor was so wearing clothes — “Horror Puppies Redux: Is Souldancer Really Horror Fandom’s New Favourite Novel?”.
And while we’re at it, let’s look at the two books that I personally found to be the strongest contenders in the Dragons’ horror category. Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay is at #156,590 in ebooks, and at #561,851 (paperback) and #60,849 (hardback) in books; Alice by Christina Henry is at #156,678 in ebooks and #27,655 in books. I stand by my statement at WWAC: if the Dragon Awards truly honoured the works most popular amongst fans, then the award for Best Horror Novel would not have gone to Souldancer.
Niemeier concluded his post by asking his readers to prove me wrong by posting reviews of Souldancer; he confidently predicted that the book will soon have more than fifty ratings on Amazon. This call to action resulted in Souldancer‘s review count going from eight to twelve, prompting Niemeier’s glass-half-full statement that “Souldancer reviews are up 50%”. A few more reviews have been posted since then – although the more recent ones have been somewhat mixed, as is to be expected from the novel reaching a broader audience following its Dragon Award victory.
(13) LIGHTS, CAMERA, NO MONEY! If Sad Puppies made a sci-fi movie, I bet their promo would sound a lot like the ads for This Giant Papier Mache Boulder is Actually Really Heavy, a New Zealand comedy film.
What happened to the good old days of sci-fi, when spaceships were real models, monsters made of latex and laser guns a curling iron painted silver? Now imagine a universe where everything was just like this for real.
For three ordinary guys Tom, Jeffrey and Gavin, this just became a reality. One minute they were watching an old b-grade movie, the next they’ve been thrust inside the movie itself and at the helm of a rickety old spaceship. Panic ridden they stumble into a space battle. and make a mortal enemy of the evil Lord Froth while unwittingly saving the space princess Lady Emmanor. Then suddenly Jeffrey starts to change into a sci-fi character called Kasimir. They must adapt quickly if they are to survive long enough to find a way home. For all they know they could be next. If that happens they will be lost in this world forever. They embark on a quest to find a cure for Jeffrey and a way back home. This is an action-packed comedy adventure of giant lizards, space battles, robots, aliens, warlords and amazons that has to be seen to be believed.
(14) MR. SCI-FI. Marc Scott Zicree shares his afterword for the new Magic Time audio play he and Elaine directed and wrote that will be released by Skyboat Media. It’s based on his bestselling series of novels from HarperCollins, and stars Armin Shimerman of Deep Space Nine and Buffy and Christina Moses of The Originals and Containment.
(15) EXTRATERRESTRIAL SEASON’S GREETINGS. Another sampling from the sci-fi Christmas catalog.
Barry Gordon – Zoomah the Santa Claus From Mars
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Mark-kitteh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W. “Not Today’s Title” credit goes to File 770 contributing editor Daniel Dern.]