Pixel Scroll 3/8/18 Stay Tuned For Pixels As They Break

(1) ELVES FOREVER. Olga Polomoshnova explores Elves’ immortality in “Who wants to live forever?” at Middle-Earth Reflections.

By their nature the Elves are bound to Arda, with their bodies being made of  “the stuff of Earth”. They live as long as the world endures….

What Men crave for and desire with all their hearts is, in fact, a burden. More accurately, this serial longevity becomes a burden with time. The Elves age very slowly, but during the course of their long lives they know death of wounds or grief, though not, like Men, of old age, and they fear death, too. Elvish ageing shows in their ever-growing weariness of the world. One of the best descriptions of this state was provided by the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins, who experienced such longevity due to his possession of the One Ring. He compared his unnaturally long life with being “all thin, sort of stretched, […] like butter that has been scraped over too much bread” (Fellowship of the Ring, p. 42). So probably that is exactly how the Elves could feel many thousand years into their lives.

(2) HAMILL’S WALK OF FAME STAR DEDICATED. Star Wars icon Mark Hamill is now a star in the Hollywood firmament: “Mark Hamill Gets ‘Overwhelming’ Support From Harrison Ford & George Lucas at Walk of Fame Ceremony”.

On Thursday, some of the actor’s closest friends and colleagues came out to honor him as he was immortalized in Hollywood with the recognition befitting a cultural icon like himself.

Hamill got some sweet support from his former Star Wars co-star Harrison Ford, Star Wars creator George Lucas, recent Last Jedi co-star Kelly Marie Tran, as well as a pair of Storm Troopers and the iconic droid R2-D2. His wife of nearly 40 years, Marilou York, was also to celebrate the honor.

(3) CROWDFUNDING WILL REVIVE AMAZING. Steve Davidson has launched a Kickstarter to hasten “The Return of Amazing Stories Magazine!”

Amazing Stories is an institution. It is an icon of the field. Over the years it has represented both the best and the worst that this genre has to offer. It has inspired the careers of authors, artists, editors, academics, scientists and engineers. Its presence proved that there was a viable market for this kind of literature, a fact not lost on other publishers who quickly followed suit. By 1930 there were four magazines in the field, eventually many more. And the fans? They bought every single one of them.

Amazing Stories deserves to be an ongoing part of our community. It may be a bit worn around the edges, the spine may be cracked a little and it may shed bits of pulp here and there, but those are love scars. Amazing Stories is not just our progenitor, it is the embodiment of the heart and soul of the genre.

We love it. We love what it’s done for us, what it represents, what it created. How can we not, when we love Science Fiction?

We know you share that love. Please show that love. It’s time for Amazing Stories to live again.

On the first day Steve’s appeal brought in $5,079 of its $30,000 goal.

Here’s how the money will be used. (Experimenter Publishing is Steve’s company.)

Experimenter plans to publish its first new issue for a Fall 2018 release and will be distributing the magazine at Worldcon 76 in San Jose CA. Professional, SFWA qualifying rates of 6 cents per word will be paid and Experimenter intends to become a fully SFWA qualifying market within its first year of operation. Several stories by well known authors have already been contracted, as has cover art by a highly respected artist.

Following five years of growth and development as an online multi-author blog serving the interests of science fiction, fantasy and horror fans, the publication of well-regarded articles produced by over 175 contributors, read by over 40,000 registered members, and following the publication of three special editions, a comic book and a growing selection of anthologies, classic novels and facsimile reprints, Experimenter believes the time is right to launch the quarterly magazine.

(4) ABOUT THE BARKLEY PROPOSAL. What were signers of Chris Barkley’s YA Award name proposal told? One of them, Shawna McCarthy, wrote in a comment on Facebook:

I was a signatory and do not feel misrepresented to other than not knowing the name of the award had already been decided. It’s possible the sponsor thought I was more up on the state of WC business committee work than I was.

(5) COMIC-CON’S QUASI-MUSEUM. Kinsee Morlan, in “Don’t Call Comic-Con’s Balboa Park Digs A museum–At Least Not Yet” for Voice of San Diego, says that Comic-Con International is upholding its nonprofit status by building a museum in San Diego’s Balboa Park (which will replace the San Diego Hall of Champions) and is hiring British museum designer Adam Smith to create it.

Smith said specifics are still hazy, but a few things are starting to become clear. For starters, he’s not ready to dub the new space a museum just yet. He’s toying with calling it a center or something else that better communicates its mission of showcasing contemporary exhibits that focus on what’s happening now or in the future — think virtual reality demos or participatory immersive television experiences (yeah, that’s a thing).

Smith also obliterated the traditional curator-led exhibition model. Instead of experts organizing most of the shows, he said, super fans will be likely be generating exhibitions and events. That’s a move taken from Comic-Con’s convention playbook, where fan-generated panels have always been a big part of the offerings.

David Glanzer, Comic-Con’s director of communications who’s been with the nonprofit for decades, fielded some of my questions, too.

Civic leaders are perpetually terrified that Comic-Con will pack up its bag and head to Los Angeles or another city if San Diego doesn’t expand its Convention Center soon. Glanzer said folks should not assume that won’t happen now that Comic-Con’s new center is opening in Balboa Park. He said they’re two separate projects and the convention could still relocate in the future if its space problems start impacting the quality of the convention.

(6) LOVED THE BOOK, HATED THE FILM. LitHub list of “20 Literary Adaptations Disavowed by Their Original Authors” has plenty of sff:

  • Earthsea (2004) – Based on: Ursula K. Le Guin, Earthsea cycle (1968-2001)

Le Guin hated the Sci-Fi Channel’s adaptation of her books, and she had quite a lot to say on the subject, but the biggest problem was that the miniseries completely whitewashed the original text. Early on, she was consulted (somewhat) but when she raised objections, they told her that shooting had already begun. “I had been cut out of the process,” she wrote at Slate.

Also:

  • Mary Poppins (1964) – Based on: P. L. Travers’s Mary Poppins (1934)
  • Hellraiser: Revelations (2011) – Based on: Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart (1986)
  • A Wrinkle in Time (2003) – Based on: Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (1962)
  • Charlotte’s Web (1973) – Based on: E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web (1952)
  • Solaris (1972, 2002) – Based on: Stanis?aw Lem’s Solaris (1961)
  • The Last Man on Earth (1964) – Based on: Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend (1954)
  • A Clockwork Orange (1971) – Based on: Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange (1962)
  • The Shining (1980) – Based on: Stephen King’s The Shining (1977)
  • The NeverEnding Story (1984) – Based on: Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story (1979)
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) – Based on: Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)

(7) LOPATA OBIT. Steve Lopata’s daughter announced that he passed away March 5, peacefully, at the hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. Sammi Owens said:

…I deeply regret to inform you that his heart was failing and Worldcon 75 Helsinki was his last trip. He had heart surgery and despite valiant efforts he succumbed to his heart disease on March 5, 2018…. My mom Frances and I want the scifi community and all his friends to know how much he dearly loved you all. His all time favorite activities were working Ops for Worldcons and having an audience for his tales- umm, I mean true stories…. Peace be with you all and thank you for your friendship to our beloved man.

Patrick Maher was one of many fans who worked Ops with Steve with good words about him:

I didn’t know Steve very long, only since he walked into Shamrokon in 2014 and offered to help out. We didn’t know who he was but, as he said he had just come from Loncon III, we asked James Bacon who he was. James described him as Steve ‘Awesome Ops Guy’ Lopata. He sat in Ops all weekend and offered sage advice. When I took over Ops for Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, he was the first person I went to for advice.

Lopata also did volunteer work with big cats, as he explained in an article for Mimosa in 2001.

One of the first questions I am asked when I tell people about working with lions and tigers is, “How did you get involved?” There are two answers. First the short, “I like kitties;” and the longer one, “I was at a convention and saw this guy walking a tiger on a leash. I asked if I could pet the tiger and about half an hour later, I was a volunteer at the breeding park.”

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Chip Hitchcock calls this too bad not to share: Arlo and Janis.
  • And here’s an International Women’s Day item from Bizarro.

(9) INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY. Headstuff’s Aoife Martin celebrated the day by analyzing “Author Pseudonyms” used by women. A couple of instances came from sff —

Closer to modern times we have the case of Alice Bradley Sheldon who wrote science fiction under the pen name of James Tiptree Jr. In an interview she said that she chose a male name because it “seemed like good camouflage. I had the feeling that a man would slip by less observed. I’ve had too many experiences in my life of being the first woman in some damn occupation.” It’s interesting that Sheldon should have felt the need to do this but she was a successful science fiction writer – so much so that she won several awards including a Hugo for her 1974 novella, The Girl Who Was Plugged In and several Nebula awards. Her secret wasn’t discovered until 1976 when she was 61. Throughout her career she was referred to as an unusually macho male and as an unusually feminist writer (for a male). Indeed, fellow writer Robert Silverberg once argued that Tiptree could not possibly be a woman while Harlan Ellison, when introducing Tiptree’s story for his anthology Again, Dangerous Visions wrote that “[Kate] Wilhelm is the woman to beat this year, but Tiptree is the man.” Suitably, the James Tiptree Jr. Award is given annually in her honour to works of science fiction and fantasy that expand or explore one’s understanding of gender.

(10) A NEW KIND OF BARBIE. The Huffington Post reports Mattel is honoring a few living legends this International Women’s Day: “Frida Kahlo And Other Historic Women Are Being Made Into Barbies”. Genre-related figures include Katherine Johnson and Patty Jenkins.

Kids around the world will soon be able to own a Barbie doll bearing the likeness of Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart or Katherine Johnson.

All three women made herstory in different industries: Earhart was the first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic Ocean; Mexican artist Kahlo was known for her unique painting style and feminist activism; and Johnson, who was highlighted in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures,” broke boundaries for black women in mathematics and calculated dozens of trajectories for NASA, including the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the moon.

The dolls, which are part of Mattel’s new series called “Inspiring Women,” will be
mass produced and sold in stores….

(11) ANOTHER STAR WARS SERIES. A well-known name in superhero movies will be responsible for a Star Wars series to appear on Disney’s new streaming platform: “Jon Favreau hired for ‘Star Wars’ series: Why fans have mixed feelings”.

The director whose film launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe is coming to a galaxy far, far away. Jon Favreau, the filmmaker behind Iron Man, Elf, and Disney’s live-action Jungle Book and Lion King, will write and executive-produce a live-action Star Wars series for Disney’s new streaming platform. Lucasfilm announced today that Favreau, who is also an actor with roles in the Clone Wars animated series and the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story,  will helm the new show. While Favreau has a strong fanbase (going all the way back to his 1996 debut film Swingers), many on social media are wondering why Lucasfilm has hired yet another white man to steer the diverse Star Wars universe — and announced it on International Women’s Day, no less.

(12) STORYBUNDLE. Cat Rambo curated The Feminist Futures Bundle, which will be available for the next three weeks.

In time for Women’s History Month, here’s a celebration of some of the best science fiction being written by women today. This bundle gathers a wide range of outlooks and possibilities, including an anthology that gives you a smorgasbord of other authors you may enjoy.

I used to work in the tech industry, and there I saw how diversity could enhance a team and expand its skillset. Women understand that marketing to women is something other than coming up with a lady-version of a potato chip designed not to crunch or a pink pen sized for our dainty hands. Diversity means more perspectives, and this applies to science fiction as well. I am more pleased with this bundle than any I’ve curated so far.

In her feminist literary theory classic How to Suppress Women’s Writing, science fiction author Joanna Russ talked about the forces working against the works of women (and minority) writers. A counter to that is making a point of reading and celebrating such work, and for me this bundle is part of that personal effort, introducing you to some of my favorites. – Cat Rambo

The initial titles in the Feminist Futures Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

  • Happy Snak by Nicole Kimberling
  • Alanya to Alanya by L. Timmel Duchamp
  • Code of Conduct by Kristine Smith
  • The Birthday Problem by Caren Gussoff

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular titles, plus SIX more!

  • Starfarers Quartet Omnibus – Books 1-4 by Vonda N. McIntyre
  • The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein
  • Spots the Space Marine by M.C.A. Hogarth
  • The Terrorists of Irustan by Louise Marley
  • Queen & Commander by Janine A. Southard
  • To Shape the Dark by Athena Andreadis

(13) FAIL HYDRA. Cory Doctorow updated BoingBoing readers about a publisher accused of questionable practices: “Random House responds to SFWA on its Hydra ebook imprint”

Allison R. Dobson, Digital Publishing Director of Random House, has written an open letter to the Science Fiction Writers of America responding to the warning it published about Hydra, a new imprint with a no-advance, author-pays-expenses contract that SFWA (and I) characterize as being totally unacceptable. Dobson’s letter doesn’t do much to change my view on that:

(14) BEARING WITNESS. Lavie Tidhar has tweeted a noir Pooh adventure. Jump on the thread here:

(15) ANDROIDS AT 50. Here’s a clipping from Nature: “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Ananyo Bhattacharya toasts Philip K. Dick’s prescient science-fiction classic as it turns 50.” [PDF file.]

When science-fiction writer Peter Watts first opened Philip K. Dick’s 1968 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, a word caught his eye. It was “friendlily”. How had Dick got that past an editor? As Watts told me: “I knew at that point that Dick had to be some kind of sick genius.”

(16) CURRENT EVENTS. This sounds like a job for Doctor Who: “A Political Dispute Puts A Wrinkle In Time, Slowing Millions Of European Clocks”.

For the past few weeks, something strange has been happening in Europe. Instead of time marching relentlessly forward, it has been slowing down imperceptibly, yet with cumulatively noticeable results, so that millions of clocks the Continent-over are now running behind.

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity released a statement Tuesday saying that since mid-January, Europe’s standard electrical frequency of 50 hertz has fallen ever so slightly to 49.996 hertz.

For electric clocks that rely on the frequency of the power system — typically radio, oven and heating-panel clocks — the cumulative effect was “close to six minutes,” according to the agency.

(17) TAINT FUNNY MCGEE. The BBC says “Amazon promises fix for creepy Alexa laugh”.

Amazon’s Alexa has been letting out an unprompted, creepy cackle – startling users of the best-selling voice assistant.

The laugh, described by some as “witch like” was reported to sometimes happen without the device being “woken” up.

Others reported the laugh occurring when they asked Alexa to perform a different task, such as playing music.

“We’re aware of this and working to fix it,” Amazon said.

(18) CUBE ROUTER. Meanwhile, at MIT, they’re wasting their time saving time: “Rubik’s robot solves puzzle in 0.38 seconds”.

Ben Katz, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, collaborated with Jared Di Carlo to create the robot.

“We noticed that all of the fast Rubik’s Cube solvers were using stepper motors and thought that we could do better if we used better motors,” said Mr Di Carlo in a blog post.

Mr Katz said in his blog the 0.38 seconds included “image capture and computation time, as well as actually moving the cube”.

Their contraption used two PlayStation Eye cameras from the old PS3 console to identify the configuration of the cube.

However, mistakes often resulted in a cube being destroyed.

(19) DARK MATTER. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination released a video of a recent guest presentation: “Sir Roger Penrose: New Cosmological View of Dark Matter, which Strangely and Slowly Decays”.

Sir Roger Penrose joined the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination on January 19, 2018, to give a talk on his latest research and provide an insight into the thinking of a modern day theoretical physicist. Is the Universe destined to collapse, ending in a big crunch or to expand indefinitely until it homogenizes in a heat death? Roger explains a third alternative, the cosmological conformal cyclic cosmology (CCC) scheme—where the Universe evolves through eons, each ending in the decay of mass and beginning again with new Big Bang. The equations governing the crossover from each aeon to the next demand the creation of a dominant new scalar material, postulated to be dark matter. In order that this material does not build up from aeon to aeon, it is taken to decay away completely over the history of each aeon. The dark matter particles (erebons) may be expected to behave almost as classical particles, though with bosonic properties; they would probably be of about a Planck mass, and interacting only gravitationally. Their decay would produce gravitational signals, and be responsible for the approximately scale invariant temperature fluctuations in the CMB of the succeeding aeon. In our own aeon, erebon decay might well show up in signals discernable by gravitational wave detectors.

 

(20) HANDY HINTS. And in case you ever have this problem: “Here’s How You Could Survive Being Sucked Into a Black Hole”. The article is honestly kind of useless, but I love the clickbait title.

OK, so maybe you aren’t going to get sucked into a black hole tomorrow. Or ever. Maybe even trying to imagine being in such a situation feels like writing yourself into a Doctor Who episode. But, for mathematicians, physicists, and other scientists attempting to understand cosmic strangeness in practical terms, these thought experiments are actually very useful. And they may be more practical in and of themselves than we’d realized.

At least, that’s what a team of researchers led by Peter Hintz at the University of California, Berkeley found through their study of black holes, recently published in the journal Physical Review Letters

[Thanks to Standback, Will R., John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, J. Cowie, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]

87 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/8/18 Stay Tuned For Pixels As They Break

  1. @ Lisa Goldstein

    A minority possibly but still not alone! I adore Princess Bride the movie but the book… not so much. Something about the frame story just sucked the soul out of it. And yet, I still want to read Buttercup’s Baby. Contradictory but there it is.

  2. Rear Window is one of my favourite movies. The Cornell Woolrich story it’s based on isn’t particularly memorable in my opinion.

  3. I didn’t see SAVING MR BANKS, because though it seemed fascinating (wit Hanks as Unca Walt), I couldn’t deal with what I was sure would be revisionist history. I’ve just read the summary and article at Wikipedia, and that seems to be borne out. I was happy, though, to learn that I wasn’t just imagining an emphasis on the character of Mr. Banks. I’ve long regarded him as the movie’s real protagonist, at least in the sense that he’s a character who changes over the course of the book, and nobody else seems to do that.

    I have read the story REAR WINDOW came from, and I don’t remember thinking there was anything wrong with it. On the other hand, I don’t remember much else about it, other than that it was in one of the mystery magazines, probably Ellery Queen, so “not particularly memorable” seems like a fair cop. In general, the verdict on Woolrich seems to be that his stories had great plots and some atmosphere, but that they weren’t top of the line.

    Can’t verify it, but in my reading about Hitchcock, I’ve come across the thesis that VERTIGO was better than its source material. For that matter, I think PSYCHO was improved in his hands, and THE BIRDS did more for me as a movie than the source story. It’s true that I read it after I saw the movie, and the same for Psycho, so this could be a bias that I have toward whichever version of a thing I see or hear or read first.

  4. @Msb– My theory on The Black Stallion movie is that Coppola read the books as a kid. Then when he set out to make the movie, he remembered the broad outlines, and how, as a kid, they’d made him feel–and avoided the fatal error of attempting any rereading.

    Rereading the books would have been fatal to the movie.

  5. Agree that Arrival and Predestination were great – as a physics guy, I wish that Arrival included some more about the “principle of least action” business, but still loved it.

    Regarding Princess Bride: a few years after I read it, I had the chance to go to the Argosy bookstore (where, according to the frame story, Goldman got the copy of S. Morgenstern’s “Princess Bride” that he abridged), so I had the delightful experience of visiting a) a wonderful bookstore, and b) feeling like I had stepped into the story.

  6. Hitchcock was clearly very much taken with the specifically cinematic possibilities of the Rear Window situation of the immobilized observer watching the world from his window. It’s an interesting enough plot device for a suspense story, but a perfect vehicle for early 1950s Hitchcock.

  7. The case of The Maltese Falcon seems debatable. Both book and movie are great.

  8. @Stephen having recently consumed both…yeah, I think its not a perfect adaptation but a good one.

  9. StephenfromOttawa: Case? All I said was the movie did justice to the book, and much of the script comes directly from it.

    Also, the hour-long Lux radio version is damn good, with Edward G. Robinson as Spade.

  10. Kip, I wasn’t responding to your comment on The Maltese Falcon, forgot that you had mentioned it. I think the Huston film is wonderful, with all those great Hollywood actors, but the novel is also damn good.

  11. Thanks, Stephen. I was puzzling out a connection between that and my earlier remark, and it hadn’t crossed my mind to consider that there was no connection at all. (What with the universe revolving around me and all.)

  12. @rochrist, I haven’t seen the 2003 Wrinkle in Time. In fact, I wasn’t aware it existed. I just saw the 2018 one and enjoyed it a lot, despite that the caption device only showed me half or less of the dialogue. Grrr. I managed, but it was more work than it should have been.

    I loved the brownness of it, and the variety of people shown. It’s very healing to see that. I thought the visuals were gorgeous, and the parts were well-acted. Storm Reid (as Meg Murry) and Oprah Winfrey (as Mrs. Which) were particularly good.

    There were some bits of the book I particularly loved that didn’t get translated to screen, but they were very in-the-head internal, and of course movies do better with external scenes. Overall I thought it was very well done, but too short.

  13. Witness for the Prosecution is an odd case. The ending of the short story was in violation of the Hays Code, so the movie adds one more twist, which actually is an improvement (or so I judge).

  14. @Kip W I have read the story REAR WINDOW came from, and I don’t remember thinking there was anything wrong with it. On the other hand, I don’t remember much else about it, other than that it was in one of the mystery magazines, probably Ellery Queen, so “not particularly memorable” seems like a fair cop.

    The novel “It Had to be Murder” by Cornell Woolrich in Dime Detective Magazine Feb 1942.

  15. Mary Poppins — I have not read the original book. The movie was pretty good but I can see how it might be a flawed version of a better work.

    The movie is way too sweet and pretty and jolly. The books have this weird, unsettling undertone that suggests that when Mary Poppins gets stern, even God would get nervous. And at the same time, the books are aware that while Mary Poppins is a Force for Good, she’s not really very nice, and vain in the bargain.

    But for all that she’s a collection of rules and faults and Dread Magic from the Dawn of Time, she is loved because that is what children need. And for that matter the adult world could use a fair amount of discipline, too.

    The books have magic to them, and darkness and a sense of the numinous that makes it all ring with wonder. Mary Poppins is a Great Old One in sensible shoes. The movie, by contrast, is music-hall antics.

    The trailer for MARY POPPINS RETURNS actually feels like the books. I don’t think it’ll last, though. But they gave it a little dash of eeriness that really felt appropriate.

  16. Bill, I never saw the 1942 publication. It was reprinted in EQMM in 1969, and I probably saw the magazine at my grandmother’s house around 1975.

    It would have been the same trip where Mom located her stack of Spirit sections from 1942–3, and I read them all in a huge binge, pausing only for meals. As far as I know, they were non-Eisner stories, with great work from the ghost crew (notably Cole), and backup stories by Bob Powell (Mr. Mystic) and Klaus Nordling, later Nick Cardy (Lady Luck).

    (To continue the digression, I’ve been reading ‘new’ Lady Luck stories along with neo-Spirit yarns at Comic Book Plus, in the form of Smash Comics.)

  17. Y’all have convinced me to go read Mary Poppins.

    I agree with Pahlaniuk that the quite faithful movie adaptation of Fight Club ended up better than the book — because as a book I’d seen it before, but as a movie it was new and subversive. The medium was important to the message!

    Also agree with what has been said here about Arrival.

  18. @Kip W Bill, I never saw the 1942 publication. It was reprinted in EQMM in 1969, and I probably saw the magazine at my grandmother’s house around 1975.

    So it was. . . .

  19. Thanks for that reminder, Bill! The main reason I scoured every Ellery Queen magazine and anthology was looking for Stanley Ellin stories, and I see that there was one in that issue. Ellin is a top favorite for me, starting when I read his story “The Question” in a Queen anthology (under the name “The Question My Son Asked”)—still a knockout. Before I managed to find collections of Ellin by himself, I had a regular pile of Queen volumes with his work in them, and I checked the appropriate shelf at the library often to catch anything I may have missed there.

  20. I tried several times to reas Clockwork Orange and failed. At least the movie makes it possible to find out what the story is (in pre-internet times).

    I, robot was a movie that was somewhat entertaining, but had nothing to do with the book. The first part of the sentence is debatable.

  21. Also THE BIGGEST CHARACTER IN THE STORY ISN’T A CHARACTER IN THE FILM – i.e SOLARIS the FLIPPIN PLANET! It’s like making a film of Hamlet and him just being an inaminate object everybody is arguing about.

    To be fair, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is an utterly fantastic piece of filmmaking.

    I liked the Soderbergh Solaris; it focuses on telling the story of how the people in proximity to Solaris are affected by the planet’s alienness rather than the rather boring delineation of the nature of that alienness that characterized both Lem’s novel and Tarkovsky’s film (though Tarkovsky’s film is beautifully shot), and I think that’s a far more effective approach to storytelling, and takes advantage of the particular kind of intimacy film can create that’s different from the kind of intimacy novels can create. Lem’s novel was interesting but dry, and Takovsky’s film was borderline Brechtian in terms of how much it tried to distance itself from the audience. Soderbergh hit the sweet spot, imo.

    Children of Men is another film that was better than the book, and I think I agree with PD James that it’s better for adaptations to be good films than it is for them to faithful to the original material. Films and novels have different needs and different strengths as media, and I think it’s good to adapt to those needs when taking a story from one medium to another.

    I’m reminded of a (probably apocryphal) story I heard about a translator who was taking a novel from French into English. In the original, a male character switches from vous to tu when speaking to a woman he his not on close terms with; the move is intended as a sexual power play, and French audiences would have immediately recognized it as an affront. How to render that in English in a way that Anglo readers would understand viscerally rather than just intellectually? Explaining the switch is a method that many translators would use, but that doesn’t trigger an emotional reaction for Anglo readers, since it’s not a move our language makes anymore. This translator instead opted to have the man put his hand on the woman’s thigh during the conversation. It’s not the same kind of sexual power move, but Anglo readers would immediately recognize it as an affront, and it would ultimately achieve the same reaction, without being exactly the same thing. I feel like that is both a reasonable and insightful approach when adapting books into movies.

    (Fight Club was also a better movie than book, even if it was less effective as a satire.)

  22. I don’t know where this saying originated, but I heard it in college from a professor who acknowledged its sexism:

    Translation is like a woman. When beautiful, it’s rarely faithful, and when faithful, it’s rarely beautiful.

    It may be totally offbase regarding women, but seems pretty spot-on when it comes to film adaptations of books.
    When I try to think of movie adaptations that manage to be both beautiful and faithful… The Princess Bride comes to mind, but (a) the author was a screenwriter and adapted the script himself, and (b) there are quite a few changes (the frame story, details from Morgenstern on other beautiful women, Buttercup’s parents…). The heart of the story was preserved because Golding knew which details could be streamlined.

  23. It would have been the same trip where Mom located her stack of Spirit sections from 1942–3, and I read them all in a huge binge, pausing only for meals. As far as I know, they were non-Eisner stories, with great work from the ghost crew (notably Cole), and backup stories by Bob Powell (Mr. Mystic) and Klaus Nordling, later Nick Cardy (Lady Luck).

    A lot of 1942 is still Eisner, working mostly with Lou Fine. Most of 1943 is Lou Fine pencils, a variety of inkers, and Manly Wade Wellman, Bill Woolfolk or Joseph Millard scripting.

    I don’t think Cole starts working on The Spirit until 1944. You can find a list of credits here, that’s probably mostly-accurate: https://www.comics.org/series/10295/

  24. Re translation to dcreen being beautiful vs faithful:

    Well, I thought Peter Beagle did a pretty good job translating the heart of his book The Last Unicorn into an excellent script, and the voice actors excelled. Whether the movie lives up to the book is more a question of whether one liked the animation style (I thought it was well animated within the chosen style, but was never totally sold on the style. I really hope you know what I mean) or the music, which I thought ranged from nice enough to ridiculously bad.

    And knowing as I do several cult fans of the movie who never read the book, it certainly does seem to have hit the right nerve with many.

    (And I will never forgive Cochran for ruining the experience of it for so many, when the movie tour should have been a point of joy.)

  25. Thanks for that, Kurt! I used to tell people they were Lou Fine, and in recent years I’d started thinking Cole was in there. These are out of order, but a quick browse shows that I have more of 1942 than I thought, so woo-hoo! Real Eisner! Or at least he was on the scene. I will go bookmark the link now.

  26. Oh, hey, Pixel Scrolls are kind of like an open thread, right? So here’s this sonnet I wrote today. Twitter readers might notice I’ve already changed some of a line:

    THE NEW OZYMANDIAS

    I met a farer from a far-off strand
    Who said, “Two giant feet of bronze, gone green,
    In water sit, bedecked with broken chains
    That show their maker well did understand
    That marks of former slavery yet seen
    Suggest defeated servitude’s remains.

    Near by, a broken torch lies, dead and dark
    In grimy water’s tide that, fitful, passes,
    And on the base, these words my eyes did mark:
    ‘Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses
    Yearning to breathe free.’ Here ends the poem,
    The rest is eaten by the restless water.
    Along the shore, starved, feral humans roam
    Whose brandished weapons offered naught but slaughter.”

  27. The heart of the story was preserved because Golding knew which details could be streamlined.

    William Golding’s THE PRINCESS BRIDE would be quite a thing indeed. Quite a…thing.

  28. @Lenora Rose: Tammy Grimes’ delivery of, “How dare you come to me now, when I am this!” moves me to tears.

    @Kip: Wow. Strong stuff.

    …but my cold nitpicker’s heart insists on noting that “…your poor, your tired…” should be “…your tired, your poor…”

    (Also, in the last line, shouldn’t it be “offer” rather than “offered”? The rest of the narration is present tense.)

  29. David, thanks much! I made your correction to the text, and found that I had already implemented your second suggestion. I wrote a draft while having a bagel, and should have checked the phrasing when I got home and made everything rhyme and scan. (Current version at New Pals incorporates these, and other, changes.)

  30. John A. Arkansawyer:

    Have you read Sometimes A Great Notion? It’s probably my favorite novel. Beautifully written and an even better story. Warning: It sprawls.

    A good friend of mine gave me a copy of that when I was an undergrad, and I read it completely in about two sittings, though the last half I didn’t remember reading when I reread it a couple of decades later. Which I reread because a hardcover reprint was on deep discount at the new-book bookstore down the block from the used bookstore I was a clerk at.

    In any case, after I bought it, one of my professors came in with her daughter, who was going on her first Peace Corps trip, and they were loading up on the three or four large doorstops you always meant to read that Peace Corps volunteers so often lug with them on their trip overseas. They asked me for recommendations, and our old mass market edition of SAGN was one I recommended. I said I liked it a lot when I was younger and it had some great characters, so she bought it.

    Later I myself went overseas for a year-long research trip, and my copy of SAGN was one of the books I took with me, another being The Cryptonomicon. After I returned from my trip, I encountered the professor and told her to give her daughter my apologies for recommending the book, because while it had some great male characters, on reread I realized that the female characters were almost uniformly distasteful, offensive, and repulsively drawn. I said it was very much a young man’s book of a certain type, but very much not a young woman’s book. (This turned out to be my opinion of Cryptonomicon as well.) She replied, “Actually, I think she liked it okay, but I’ll pass on your apology anyway.” I never did hear back what her considered opinion of it was.

  31. @Kip – Damn! Excellent reworking.

    @Ferret – I get that criticism of SAGN, and think there are other issues with it, as well. It may just be that I read it very young, or that I’m inured to its problems due to my privileged status, but it still speaks to me today, dated nastiness aside. I wouldn’t blame anyone for DNFing it, though.

  32. Kathodus:

    I get that criticism of SAGN, and think there are other issues with it, as well. It may just be that I read it very young, or that I’m inured to its problems due to my privileged status, but it still speaks to me today, dated nastiness aside.

    Oh, I fully agree. It’s a novel I consider both quite fine and quite problematic. I think both of the main male characters are well drawn, especially Hank Stamper. He is a truly memorable fellow. Also, what I said about the female characters is not true of Viv Stamper, though I didn’t find her as vivid or as fleshed out as Hank or Leland. (Which reflects her position in the household and the constraints she experienced as a woman in that place and time, I might add–I’m sure Kesey meant her to be largely symbolic to both main male characters.) And while it’s not as if the other male characters are a far sight better than the female characters, they still struck me as a bit better rounded in their mediocrity and debasement than the female ones.

  33. Lis, msb, just a nit-pick: it was Carroll Ballard, not Coppola, that directed “The Black Stallion”. He also made “Never Cry Wolf” among others.

  34. Kip W: here’s this sonnet I wrote today

    That’s a powerful piece. It perfectly encapsulates my broken heart over what the country has become. 🙁

    Thank you for sharing it.

  35. @Rebecca Lilienfeld–

    Lis, msb, just a nit-pick: it was Carroll Ballard, not Coppola, that directed “The Black Stallion”. He also made “Never Cry Wolf” among others.

    What?! Why do I so clearly remember it as Coppola? (scurries off to Google to see if it can tell me if I’ve slipped timelines)

  36. Back from my expedition to Google, and thence to Wikipedia, which told me:

    The film is adapted by Melissa Mathison, Jeanne Rosenberg and William D. Wittliff. It is directed by Carroll Ballard. The movie stars Kelly Reno, Mickey Rooney, Teri Garr, Hoyt Axton, and the Arabian horse Cass Ole. The film features music by Carmine Coppola, the father of Hollywood producer Francis Ford Coppola, who was the executive producer of the film.

    So directed by Ballard, but both Francis Ford Coppola and his father Carmine associated with it. And it was made in 1979, 39 years ago, so not shocking that my mind dropped out less familiar names and compressed information.

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