(1) MILLIONS STAYED HOME. The Force Awakens made plenty of money in China, but it did not blow up the way it did in the U.S. Inverse ponders “Why Chinese Audiences Skipped The Force Awakens”. BEWARE SPOILERS.
But Zhen, also the director of NYU’s Asian Film and Media Initiative, says there’s another simple reason why Star Wars isn’t as successful in China.
“Chinese audiences are not as familiar with the series and franchise as a whole,” she says. “There is much less knowledge of it or a cult following, but the curiosity is there.”
It makes perfect sense. The Chinese market is blooming so quickly that it’s easy to forget it’s Hollywood’s youngest sibling. The first Star Wars film to be released in China was The Phantom Menace in 1999, making both the rapid proliferation of Hollywood blockbusters in China in recent years impressive, but also the extreme newness of Star Wars as a phenomenon that much more apparent.
China’s primary moviegoing audience is made up of 17-to-31 year-olds who didn’t get the same embedded, multi-generational cultural significance as American audiences that came of age when Star Wars debuted in 1977.
(2) EYE CANDY. Terra Utopische Romane 1957-68 on the Retro-Futurism LiveJournal.
“These old covers are like candy,” says Will R. And Planet X makes an appearance.
(3) FANDOM’S CLOSER. A pitcher for the Oakland Athletics doubles as a trivia maven — “Watch Sean Doolittle answer your deepest, most important Star Wars Questions”. Cut4 warns there could be SPOILERS – at least there could be if any of the stuff he says is true.
— Sean Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) December 18, 2015
If you’re a nerd like us, chances are you also love coffee. Those things tend to go hand-in-hand, and today’s app combines coffee nerdiness with space action gaming nerdiness, and it’s called Super Barista.
The premise behind Super Barista is that you serve a very specific, yet broad clientele in your coffee shop. The trick is, that coffee shop is set in space, and your clientele is an assortment of strange, interesting, and sometimes dangerous alien beings. Your shop will take you across the galaxy to five different unique planets where you’ll have to manage your resources, build your staff and crew, and serve your delicious drinks in a timely and efficient manner.
(5) IN MEMORIAM. Steven H Silver has posted his annual In Memoriam list at SF Site.
(6) PEN HONORS ROWLING. “PEN America to Honor J.K. Rowling, Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch at Annual Literary Gala”.
Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling will receive the 2016 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award at PEN America’s annual Literary Gala on May 16 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. PEN America, the country’s largest writer-driven free expression advocacy organization, presents the award annual to a critically acclaimed author whose work embodies its mission to oppose repression in any form and to champion the best of humanity….
Since her rise from single mother to literary superstar, J.K. Rowling has used her talents and stature as a writer to fight inequality on both a local and global level. Her charitable trust, Volant, supports causes in the United Kingdom and abroad that alleviate social exclusion, with particular emphasis on women and children. In 2005 she founded Lumos, a nonprofit organization that works to help eight million children institutionalized around the world regain their right to a family life. Herself the frequent object of censorship in schools and libraries across the globe, as well as online targeting, Rowling has emerged as a vocal proponent of free expression and access to literature and ideas for children as well as incarcerated people, the learning -disables, and women and girls worldwide….
(7) MORE ON FANFIC. Sharrukin at Sharrukin’s Palace tells what he finds helpful about writing fanfic. His is set in the universe of the Mass Effect game.
First advantage of writing fan-fiction: You will immediately start to build an audience, and get feedback for your work.
By the end of that month, I had posted thirteen chapters, about 40,000 words of new material, and I was still going strong. I finished that entire first novel in a little over four months.
Memoirs was followed by a second novel, composed of substantially original work since most of it was set during a period when Liara and Shepard are not on stage together. I took the opportunity to flesh out Liara’s character arc, introduce a bunch of new supporting characters, and start patching the big plot holes I saw in the games. By the time I got to my novelization of the third game, I was working almost entirely without a net, openly rewriting the story from the ground up.
The experience was tremendously valuable. I learned more about my craft from writing a fan-fiction trilogy than I had learned in decades of on-again, off-again dabbling. I even broke my long-standing aversion to the shorter forms, writing several short stories and a novella along the way.
Some pro authors are a little disdainful of fan-fiction. I believe George R. R. Martin has compared it to paint-by-numbers, something that doesn’t rank with original work as a creative endeavor. I’m not going to dispute that. There are several reasons why I’m working hard now to move away from fan-fiction, and one of them is the desire to create something worthwhile that’s really mine. But as an exercise in improving your craft so that you can survive as a genre author, there’s a lot to recommend it.
You won’t have to do all the work yourself. The source material provides a framework on which you can build and experiment. Your audience will already be familiar with it. Still, you will have to work on the mechanics: prose style, description, exposition, dialogue, point of view, characterization and voice. You will end up taking the original material apart and analyzing it, seeing what worked and what didn’t, in the process of putting together your own version. You will get practice in the simple art of sitting down and cranking out word count, week after week, so that your audience doesn’t get bored and wander away.
(7) EBOOK PRICING. Amanda S. Green compares print book and ebook pricing in “Publishers, You Need To Hear This” at Mad Genius Club.
So, is there a trend — or possibly a clue — here as to why e-book sales for the Big 5 are leveling off?
Some folks were having this discussion yesterday in a private FB group I belong to. The consensus among those taking part in the discussion was that the price point publishers were charging, especially for newly released titles, was more than they were willing to pay. Not just for e-books but for hard covers as well. Those who aren’t big fans of e-books lamented the fact they were turning to used bookstores to buy those hard cover titles they wanted. Not because they were paying less for the book but because they knew authors don’t receive royalties for those sales.
Note, they weren’t worried about the publishers.
And that is something the Big 5 needs to realize. The reading public is starting to look at the prices they pay for their books — whether they are print or digital — and wonder why the prices are so high. They are following their favorite authors, many of whom write for publishers that aren’t the Big 5 or who are indies, and they are paying attention to what the authors are saying. They understand that the life of the writer is closer to struggling author working in a coffee shop than it is to Castle. They are beginning to realize that the majority of the money they pay for that book, the vast majority of it, goes not to the person who created it but to the corporation what distributed it.
(8) STRACZYNSKI INTERVIEW. Lightspeed Magazine has a transcription of the J. Michael Straczynski interview that was originally part of WIRED’s Geeks Guide to the Galaxy podcast.
I was a street rat, had grown up a street rat, I come from nothing, my family has no connection to literature or writing, and in his introductions I found a kindred spirit. Harlan Ellison was a street rat. He had run with gangs; he was considered trouble. I remembered that in one of his introductions, he had given his phone number. “I wonder if that’s real,” thought I, so I dialed the number and waited and it began to ring. There was a click and I heard, “Yeah?”
“Is this Har-har-har-lan Ellison?” says I.
“Yeah, what do you want?”
“My-my-my-my name is Joe,” I say, stammering through the whole thing, “And I’m a writer and my stuff isn’t selling and I thought you might have some advice.” Which is the stupidest thing to ask any writer; it’s like saying to someone, “What are you doing to my wife?” There is no good answer to that question.
So he says, “All right. Here’s what you do: If it’s not selling, it’s shit. My advice to you? Stop writing shit.”
“. . .Thank you, Mr. Ellison.” Years later, I got to LA and we met in bits and pieces and eventually we became friends, and I finally reminded him of that conversation. And he said, “Were you offended?” And I said, “Had you been wrong, I would’ve been offended.” But he wasn’t.
(9) SANDIFER WONDERS ALOUD. It’s funny that some people will think Phil Sandifer was the first person to ask this question, in “An Open Letter to Sad Puppies IV”.
As the science fiction community mutters “I thought MidAmericon said nominations would open in early January” with baited breath, I note that certain fascist pricks have begun to ramp up their performative chortling. So I figured “why not write a mildly trolling open letter to someone else entirely?”
Ms. Paulk et al:
I note with some bemusement your efforts to reform the Sad Puppies movement from its oft-criticized 2015 form, stripping away its overtly conservative trappings, widening it to a ten-item recommendation list, et cetera. By and large, I have to admit, these seem like, if not strictly speaking good things, at least less bad things. So thank you for your efforts to be less odious than your predecessors. It’s genuinely appreciated. That said, there’s one rather large issue that you don’t seem to have addressed, and that I’d like to raise.
Simply put, why are you doing this?
(10) GRRM RESPONDS. For the record, here’s how George R.R. Martin answered John C. Wright’s latest overture.
I agree, death has a way of putting life’s other trials and triumphs in perspective. My own political and social views are very much at odds with yours, Mr. Wright, and our views on literary matters, especially as regards science fiction and fantasy, are far apart as well. But I have always believed that science fiction has room for all, and I am pretty sure that David Hartwell believed that as well. If we want to heal the wounds our community suffered last year, all of us need to stop arguing about the things that divide us, and talk instead about the things that unite us… as writers, as fans, as human beings. Our grief in David’s passing is one of those things. Everyone who ever knew him or worked with him will miss him, I do not doubt. So thank you for your note, and your heartfelt and compassionate words about David.
(11) A DIFFERENT WRIGHT. The home of the late Jack Larson – “Jimmy Olsen” on the original Superman TV series – is up for sale.
Frank Lloyd Wright‘s George Sturges House, owned by actor and playwright Jack Larson, will be auctioned on 21 February, 2016, for an estimated $2.5 million to $3 million. It is among 75 lots from the estate owned by Larson to be sold after the actor passed away in September. The residence, designed in 1939, was the first Usonian house on the West Coast and was acquired by Jack Larson and Jim Bridges in 1967.
(12) DON’T PANIC. Thug Notes has done a summary and analysis of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Got to love the moment our narrator explains, “But Dude don’t know what the question is!”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Will R., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contrbuting editor of the day Ian P.]