(1) SURE AS SHOOTIN’. Days of the Year says this is “Talk Like a Grizzled Old Prospector Day”.
“Well hooooooo-wee! Ah reckon we’ve found ourselves some bona fide golden nuggets right here in this ol’ mound o’ grit! Yessiree, Momma’s gonna be marty proud when she discov’rs we can afford fresh beans ‘n’ biscuits for the winnertarm, an’ there’s gonna be three more weeks uvvit if mah old aching knee is t’be rckoned with.”
Yes. Well, anyway. Today is Talk Like a Grizzled Old Prospector Day, which can be a lot of fun, unless of course you already are a grizzled old prospector, in which case just carry on as normal. For the rest of us it’s an opportunity to use terms like “consarn it” when we spill our coffee at work, and “Who-Hit-John” when referring to whiskey (although unless you work in a bar or a liquor store, you should probably leave the latter until you get home).
Now go on, get out there and call somebody a varmint!
Here’s your training video, featuring prospector Gabby Johnson from Blazing Saddles:
(2) THE MAGIC GOES AWAY. Kameron Hurley tells the whole truth and nothing but the truth in “Let’s Talk About Writing and Disappointment”.
There was a huge amount of buzz around the release of The Geek Feminist Revolution last year. More buzz than I’d seen for any book I’d ever written. People were telling me on Twitter that they’d bought three or four copies and were making all their friends read it. I heard from booksellers that the books were flying off the shelves. We went into a second printing almost immediately. I did a book signing in Chicago that sold a bunch of books. The reader response at BEA was surreal. It was magical.
This, I thought, is what it must feel like to have a book that’s about to hit it big. This was it. This was going to be the big one. It was going to take off. I gnawed on my nails and watched as big magazines picked up articles from it and it got reviewed favorably in The New York Times, and I waited for first week sales numbers.
I expected to see at least twice the number of first week sales for this book as I had for any previous book. The buzz alone was two or three times what I was used to. This had to be it….
But when the numbers came in, they weren’t twice what I usually did in week one. They were about the same as the first week numbers for The Mirror Empire. And… that was…. fine. I mean, it would keep me getting book contracts.
But… it wasn’t a breakout. It was a good book, but It wasn’t a book that would change my life, financially.
Reader, I cried….
(3) THE HORIZON EVENT. Strange Horizons has announced the results of its 2016 Readers Poll.
- First equal: “This is a Real Place, Even Though it’s Invented: An Interview with Garth Nix” by Aishwarya Subramanian
- First equal: “Boucher, Backbone, and Blake—the Legacy of Blakes 7” by Erin Horáková
- First place: Vajra Chandrasekera
- First place: “black gay ordinary: scenes” by Keguro Macharia
- First place: Galen Dara, art for “The Right Sort of Monsters“
(4) O, CAPTAINS MY CAPTAINS. Whoopi Goldberg hosted a Star Trek Captains Summit with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes in 2009. Now the feature is part of the Blu-Ray Movie Box Set. Among the revelations from the discussion:
- William Shatner confesses he’s never watched an episode of Next Generation.
- Patrick Stewart admits he was a pain in the *** to his castmates during the first season.
- Whoopi Goldberg reveals she has never been invited to a convention.
- Jonathan Frakes attended an informal “Paramount university” for 2 years to earn his stripes as a director.
- A fan asked Leonard Nimoy to take a picture of him with Tom Hanks.
You may not know what Larry did to promote Capclave, which was the revival of Disclave (after a three-year hiatus with no Washington D.C. SF convention). Larry promised to show up every year so that there would be a good Dealer’s Room at Capclave. And he did, even though it was a tiny convention compared to many of the others he would set up at.
(6) URBAN SPACEMAN. Jeff Foust reviews Richard Garriott’s autobiography Explore/Create: My Life in Pursuit of New Frontiers, Hidden Worlds, and the Creative Spark at The Space Review.
Growing up in Houston, he thought it was obvious that one day he would go into space himself. But he was told at age 13 his eyesight was too poor to qualify as a NASA astronaut. His dreams of spaceflight put on the back burner—but not forgotten—he soon rose to prominence as an early computer game developer, best known for the Ultima series. Much of the book delves into the accomplishments and challenges he faced in that career.
Garriott returns to the topic of space later in the book. While best known for flying on a Soyuz to the International Space Station in 2008, he had been trying to find a non-NASA way into space for two decades. In the book, he describes how he and his father established a company called Extended Flights for Research and Development, or EFFORT, around 1987 to develop a pallet for the shuttle’s cargo bay that would allow the shuttle to remain in orbit for more than a month. NASA was not interested. He was an early investor in Spacehab, the company that developed pressured modules for the shuttle with visions, ultimately unrealized, of some day carrying people commercially.
Garriott was also an early investor in space tourism company Space Adventures, and funded out of his own pocket a $300,000 study by the Russian space agency Roscosmos to determine if it was feasible for private citizens to fly on Soyuz spacecraft. When the answer came back in the affirmative, “I immediately booked my flight,” he wrote. However, the dot-com crash wiped out much of his net worth, including the money he planned to use for the flight. Dennis Tito instead got to fly in the seat Garriott planned to buy.
Garriott rebuilt his wealth and got another opportunity to fly in 2008….
(7) NEXT. Sam Adams reviews The Discovery for the BBC — “What would happen if we knew the afterlife was real?”
The Discovery, which, like McDowell’s debut, The One I Love, he co-wrote with Justin Lader, opens with a jarring but gimmicky prologue. Thomas Harbor (Robert Redford), the scientist who has provided proof that there is some form of life after death, is in the midst of defending his findings to a TV interviewer (a far-too-brief appearance by Mary Steenburgen), when a member of her crew interrupts to blow his brains out on the air. But in contrast with last year’s twin Sundance entries about the on-camera suicide of Florida newscaster Christine Chubbuck, his action isn’t a protest so much as an invitation: if there’s another world, it can’t be worse than this one, so why not get there as soon as you can?…
The question of whether an afterlife exists is as much epistemological as metaphysical: if not necessarily all, at least a significant percentage of the world’s religious faithful have long had all the proof they need. Thomas Harbor’s discovery would seem to overwhelmingly settle the question, but as his son argues, “Proof shouldn’t be overwhelming; it should be definitive.” (The extent to which that statement sounds either profound or sophomoric is a good indication of how much you’ll get out of The Discovery.)
(8) SKY HIGH DEFINITION. Praise for photos from a new weather satellite orbited in December — “’Like High-Definition From The Heavens’; NOAA Releases New Images Of Earth”.
The satellite, known as GOES-16, is in geostationary orbit, meaning its location does not move relative to the ground below it. It is 22,300 miles above Earth. Its imaging device measures 16 different “spectral bands,” including two that are visible to the human eye and 14 that we experience as heat.
It is significantly more advanced than the current GOES satellite, which measures only five spectral bands.
(9) A TV SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS. NPR says the TV series gets the books better than the movie did: “’A Series of Unfortunate Events’ Is All About Olaf”.
It’s the Netflix series that comes closest to achieving that tone, for two reasons.
One, it foregrounds Lemony Snicket. Jude Law played him in the movie, but chiefly in voice-over. The Netflix series turns him into a kind of omnipresent, lachrymose host played with deadpan, note-perfect solemnity by Patrick Warburton.
In the series, Snicket is constantly stepping into the shot to impart some new nugget of depressing information, or express concern at something that has just happened, will soon happen, or is happening. He’s like Rod Serling at the beginning of The Twilight Zone, if an episode ever featured Neil Patrick Harris in drag.
Snicket’s physical presence turns out to be important. In the movie, Law’s voice-over did much of the same work, or tried to, but having Snicket literally step into the proceedings to warn us about what we’re about to see next feels exactly like those moments in the books when Snicket’s narrator would admonish us for reading him.
But the big reason it all works? Neil Patrick Harris’ evil Count Olaf.
(10) BONUS ROUND. The author of the Lemony Snicket books, Daniel Handler, appeared on NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me over the weekend. NPR has posted a transcript of the show.
HANDLER: I have one son, yes.
SAGAL: And how old is he?
HANDLER: He’s 13.
SAGAL: Right. And did he read the “Series Of Unfortunate Events?”
HANDLER: He’s actually reading them now. He was quite reluctant to read them for a long time. And for many years, about every six months, he would say to me, what are these books about again? And I would say, they’re about three children whose parents are killed in a terrible fire and then they’re forced to live with a monstrous villain. And he and I would, you know, have that sad look that passes between children and their parents a lot about the inheritance of a confusing and brutal world. And then he would go read something else.
(11) FOR INCURABLE CUMBERBATCH FANS. Have a Benedict Cumberbatch addiction? Check out this 2008 BBC science fiction miniseries, The Last Enemy, available on YouTube. Cumberbatch was nominated for a Satellite Award for his role as a lead character. The story combines pandemic and big brother technology premises.
(12) NOW WITH MORE BABY GROOT. New proof that science fiction movie trailers are much more fun with Japanese-language titles – Guardians of the Galaxy international trailer #2 (followed in this video by the original English-only traler):
[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]