Pixel Scroll 5/2/19 Good Night, Scroll

(1) FRAZETTA ON THE BLOCK. Bids are being taken for another 13 days on Frank Frazettas’s Egyptian Queen painting (1969). The price is already up to $2.2M, and Heritage Auctions thinks it could ultimately go for $5M.

For a man known for his exquisite paintings, this is quite possibly his single most famous piece… the artist’s “Mona Lisa”… the enigmatic, beloved, and often imitated “Egyptian Queen” herself, a haunting image that legions of admirers have returned to time and time again…

(2) FREE COMIC BOOK DAY IS MAY 4. Free Comic Book Day is just around the corner, and Marvel is ready —

Free Comic Book Day 2019 is the perfect chance to dive deep into the Marvel Universe with new stories and exciting adventures alongside some of Marvel’s most acclaimed creators – and this year, Marvel is bringing you the biggest and boldest stories yet!

In FCBD Avengers #1, industry superstars Jason Aaron and Stefano Caselli spin in all-new tale for Marvel’s main Avengers series, while Savage Avengers, from Gerry Duggan and Mike Deodato, creates one of the most dynamic, and deadly versions of the Avengers ever!

In FCBD Spider-Man #1, creators Tom Taylor, Saladin Ahmed, and Cory Smith take the superstar heroes of the Spider-Verse in a shocking new direction, with a story that will build to one of Marvel’s most fantastic and epic tales! Meanwhile, Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman remind us that “everyone is a target” by bringing absolute terror to the pages of this year’s FCBD with a prelude to Absolute Carnage – the most fearsome event in the Marvel Universe!

Both FCBD Avengers #1 and FCBD Spider-Man #1 are available in comic stores everywhere on May 4th. In addition to the comic, select retailers will receive FREE Avengers promo buttons highlighting the dynamic and stunning cover art from FCBD Avengers #1 by Ed McGuinness, available while supplies last!

(3) POST-APOCALYPTIC OPS. Lorraine Berry, in “The Power and The Pain of Post-Apocalyptic Detective Fiction” on CrimeReads, looks at novels by Ben H. Winters, Hanna Jameson, and Tom Sweterlisch to see how detectives would function in a post-apocalpyptic world.

…While Winters and Jameson’s characters already know the cause of the apocalypse, such a search combined with a detective story is contained in Tom Sweterlitsch’s The Gone World. His detective is Shannon Moss, an investigator with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) who, in order to solve the 1997 murder of the entire family of a Navy SEAL, travels through time to find an answer. But what Moss and other time travelers discover, however, is that the earth will face complete destruction in several centuries. What becomes gradually worse is that with each trip into the future, the date of earth’s destruction moves closer in time until in 1997, that destruction has become imminent. Moss must solve the murders while also solving the problem of the encroaching apocalypse.

(4) VOCATIONAL TRAINING. BBC offers to teach you “How to make an Avengers film in 11 steps”.

…But Marvel’s Cinematic Universe will continue – with new instalments of Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy already confirmed; and a new configuration of The Avengers almost a certainty.

If you somehow end up in the directors’ chair, how should you prepare? Here are 11 key lessons from the people who made the originals.

This article does not contain spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, but will discuss plot details from the preceding films.

1) Start out on a TV show

All three directors of The Avengers made their names in TV. Joss Whedon created Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Firefly; while the Russo brothers worked on cult comedies Community and Arrested Development.

Those experiences were invaluable when it came to wrangling a cast of more than 20 characters, “because they are all ensemble shows,” says Joe Russo.

“Those were shows that had to be executed in 21 minutes, they had to be funny, and they had to have a plot. And sometimes, like in an episode of Community, you’d have 30 speaking parts – so that’s an exercise that certainly trained you in trying to contain as many characters as we do in two hours.”

“We’re drawn to multiple points of view and group dynamics, because we grew up in a very large Italian-American family,” adds Anthony, “so we’ve always loved working with ensembles.”

(5) #OWNVOICES. Mary E. Roach relates the background that made it hard to answer an agent’s question, “Are You Gay Like Your Character?”.

…So now we come back to the issue of querying. In the publishing world, we’re eager to read stories with the #OwnVoices label—this means that these stories are written about marginalized people by a person who shares that marginalization. Because of the choices I made, I do specify that one of my characters is queer, but I do not claim that it is an #OwnVoices story.

This week, though, I got an email reply to one of my queries in a day. Here’s what it said:

“Hi,

Are you gay, like your character?”

And then his email signature.

Um.

I had actually never been asked that before, and I didn’t know how to respond. My queer characters are two preteens from the turn of the century in Ireland, so our experiences are definitely not the same. But the timespan from writing the first line of my book I’m querying to now has been a full 15 months, and I am ready to get out of the querying trenches. So instead of ignoring him, or telling him to go fly a kite, like I probably should have, I answered, taking a chance that he’d understand. I told him I was bisexual, and so was someone else in my life whom I really loved, and that seeing more LGBTQ+ characters in media, I believe would have really helped both of us growing up. I was honest about being married to a man. I told him that I’d had a sensitivity reader, an openly gay man, go though certain passages to make sure I wasn’t being unintentionally insensitive. Everything else I kept guarded, because I didn’t really want to recount my entire queer resume, nor answer for the choices I made almost a decade ago.

He responded in about an hour:

“Thanks for the clarification. Publishing culture is in such a PC time right now, so I really think this should be #ownvoices. Hope another agent feels differently.

His email signature again.

Cue up that existential crisis.

I’m very fortunate in that I have access to an incredible group of querying and agented authors to talk me through it, queer friends to be angry for me, and a book that I’m genuinely proud of. My first thought was in gratitude for these things: if this was going to happen to anyone, I figured, it might as well have happened to me. But then I realized: if the publishing world is policing my #ownvocies story (even though I don’t claim that label) they’re policing others, too.

There are many of us who walk the line between orientation, races, nationalities, religions, cultures, and more. You wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell just by looking at their (perfect!) website photos and reading a bio. I like #OwnVoices stories, and I pride myself on reading them and promoting them, but what if an unintended consequence of this label is stopping genuine stories from being read? Are unrepresented authors really supposed to parade around our pain just for the sake of getting published?

(6) POP TALENT. In “Castellucci to Publish Graphic Memoir ‘Girl on Film’ in November”, Publishers Weekly interviews Cecil Castellucci.

How did you move between theater, music, and writing?

For a long time I thought that I had to choose one. I even had people in my life say to me, you have to choose a direction. But after a while, I realized that they were all the same thing. They were all different modes of telling a story. I always felt a little jealous that visual artists could choose the tool, pencil, pastel, water color, oils, ink, etc, to draw their picture. But it struck me at some point in my thirties that a song, a comic, a play, a movie, a novel, a libretto are also tools. And whichever one you use to tell your story colors the way that it’s told.

Why do you find writing more satisfactory than the other things you have done?

Writing is more satisfying because it’s the spark that can billow out into any other art form. It’s the big bang….

(7) LAST WISH GRANTED. The Providence Journal has the story of a special request and how it was fulfilled (“‘Game of Thrones’ cast members send video greetings to R.I. woman in hospice care”).

The nurses attending to an 88-year-old hospice patient regarded her request as her last wish: she wanted to watch the third episode of the current season of “Game of Thrones,” on Sunday, and maybe even meet a character from the show.

Claire Walton’s caretakers at HopeHealth in Providence tapped their network to make contact with members of the cast, who sent thoughtful greetings and best wishes to the lifelong Rhode Island resident.

[…] A total of 10 actors, including Liam Cunningham, who plays a lead character, Ser Davos, sent along good tidings, according to a spokeswoman for HopeHealth, Victoria Vichroski.

The story was picked up by CNN affiliate WJAR (“‘Game of Thrones’ actors send 88-year-old RI hospice patient video messages”) and ultimately by CNN itself (“A hospice patient’s final request was to watch the Battle of Winterfell. The ‘Game of Thrones’ cast did her one better”). She did get to see the episode as well as the video greetings from the cast members. Ms Walton died the day after the episode aired.

(8) PETER MAYHEW OBIT. Actor Peter Mayhew, who gained fame playing Chewbacca in Star Wars movies, died April 30 at the age of 74. Jason Joiner of the Kurtz Joiner Archive paid tribute —

…Peter loved playing Chewbacca as he could put away his shyness and become a roaring Wookiee when he needed to be. Meeting fans and especially the children that were into Star Wars and seeing the magic in their eyes when they got to meet Peter was something that drove him to attend public events and Comic Cons across the globe, which he continued to do up until last week. As time went on Peter was finding it harder to take on the filming commitments of Chewbacca and even though you could never replace Peter he saw Chewie live on in the way that actor Ian Whyte played the character as Peter’s Stunt Double in The Force Awakens. Ian cared about how Peter portrayed Chewie and understood that Chewie was Peter and so he watched him and learned to become Peter as Chewie. Peter felt that the character was safe for future generations of Star Wars fans with Ian’s insight and care. At 74 Peter lived to a great age for someone of his stature and this was down to the people that loved and helped him so much day to day as he grew older. Peter married his wife Angie in 1999 and from that time Peter has had a partner in life that he could share his amazing adventures and travel with. Later on Katie and Ryan, his children, also helped to enable Peter to keep on the road and attend the events he so loved to visit. In 2016 Peter set up The Peter Mayhew Foundation, a non-profit organisation devoted to the alleviation of disease, pain, suffering and the financial toll brought on by lives traumatic events. By providing its available resources directly to deserving children and adults in need, the foundation assist numerous charitable organisations in order to promote and boost their effectiveness and provide support where needed. On a personal note Peter was a wonderful and kind hearted friend.

Joiner asks fans to “take a look at the wonderful work Peter and his family are doing to help others — http://petermayhewfoundation.org If you feel like saying goodbye to Peter then please don’t buy flowers or gifts but instead make a difference and donate something and go here: http://petermayhewfoundation.org/make-a-donation.php.”

(9) MARK GREYLAND OBIT. Mark Greyland, son of Marion Zimmer Bradley, died unexpectedly on May 1 reports Diana Paxson. He was a well-regarded artist who specialized in computer-generated fractal designs. He made news in 2014 when he corroborated his sister Moira’s account of their abuse by Bradley and her husband Walter Breen in an interview published by Starfire Studio.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 2, 2008Iron Man premiered on this day

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 2, 1890 E. E. “Doc” Smith. Best known for the Lensman and Skylark series. I note that multiple sources say he is called the father of space opera. Is he indeed that?  Another author I know I’ve read but would be hard pressed to say exactly what I’ve read of. (Died 1965.)
  • Born May 2, 1921 Satyajit Ray. His Professor Trilokeshwar Shonku stories , throughly throughly Hindi, is based on a character created by Arthur Conan Doyle,  Professor Challenger. You can find most of his fiction translated into English in Exploits of Professor Shonku: The Diary of a Space Traveller and Other Stories (Satyajit Ray and Gopa Majumdar). (Died 1992)
  • Born May 2, 1924 Theodore Bikel. He was on Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s fourth season in order to play the foster parent to Worf in the “Family” episode, as CPO Sergey Rozhenko, ret.. That and playing Lenonn in Babylon 5: In the Beginning are the roles I want to note. Well there is one minor other role he did — he voiced Aragon in a certain The Return of the King. (Died 2015.)
  • Born May 2, 1925 John Neville. I’ve mentioned before that Kage considered Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen to be one of her favourite films and John Neville was one of the reasons that she did so. You can read her review here. Among his other genre roles, Neville had a prominent recurring role in The X-Files as The Well Manicured Man. And he showed up playing Sir Isaac Newton on The Next Generation in the “Descent” episode. (Died 2011.)
  • Born May 2, 1946 Leslie S. Klinger, 73. He is a noted literary editor and annotator of classic genre fiction. He is the editor of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, a three-volume edition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes fiction with extensive annotations, and an introduction by John le Carré. I’d also like to single out him for his The Annotated Sandman, Vol. 1, The New Annotated Frankenstein and The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft
  • Born May 2, 1972 Dwayne Johnson, 47. Ok I wasn’t going to include him until stumbled across the the fact that he’d been on Star Trek: Voyager as The Champion in the “Tsunkatse” episode. Who saw him there? Of course, it’s not his only genre role as he was the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns, played Agent 23 in Get Smart, voiced Captain Charles T. Baker In Planet 51, was the tooth fairy in, errr, the Tooth Fairy, was Hank Parsons in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, was Roadblock in G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Anyone watch these?), was a very buff Hercules in Hercules, voiced Maui in Moana, was Dr. Smolder Bravestone in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (not on my bucket list) and was one of the Executive Producers of Shazam! which gets a Huh from me.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio waters a garden of unearthly delights.

(13) TERMINAL TRAVAIL. Ursula Vernon tweets the last stages of her international travels. One thread starts here.

Another thread starts here.

(14) MORE ANCESTORS. They got there ahead of Ursula Vernon: “Denisovans, A Mysterious Kind Of Ancient Humans, Are Traced To Tibet”.

The jawbone of a little-known form of ancient human has been discovered in western China. Scientists say these people lived as long as 150,000 years ago, and they were part of a group called Denisovans.

The Denisovans are a mystery. Up until now, their only remains — a few bone fragments and teeth — came from a cave called Denisova in Siberia.

In 2010, scientists concluded from those fragments and their DNA that Denisovans were slightly different from us — Homo sapiens — and slightly different from Neanderthals, but that they lived contemporaneously. In short, they were a third kind of human.

What those researchers didn’t know in 2010 was that 30 years earlier, a Tibetan monk had found part of a jawbone in a cave on the Tibetan Plateau, home of the Himalayas. He gave it to the Sixth Living Buddha, a holy man there, who passed it on to scientists. They started studying the piece of bone nine years ago. Now they say that it, too, is Denisovan.

…So apparently, some early Denisovans lived on the Tibetan Plateau a long time ago; the jaw is 160,000 years old. They developed the low-oxygen trait, and then at some point passed it on to humans.

The BBC adds:

…Co-author Jean Jacques Hublin, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, said finding evidence of an ancient – or archaic – species of human living at such high elevations was a surprise.

“When we deal with ‘archaic hominins’ – Neanderthals, Denisovans, early forms of Homo sapiens – it’s clear that these hominins were limited in their capabilities to dwell in extreme environments.

“If you look at the situation in Europe, we have a lot of Neanderthal sites and people have been studying these sites for a century-and-a-half now.

“The highest sites we have are at 2,000m altitude. There are not many, and they are clearly sites where these Neanderthals used to go in summer, probably for special hunts. But otherwise, we don’t have these types of sites.”

(15) NAMES OF THE GAME. People increasingly are giving their kids the names of Game of Thrones characters reports the New York Times: “Hello, Arya! ‘Game of Thrones’ Baby Names Are for Girls”.

…But the most popular baby name associated with “Game of Thrones” appears to be Arya. It’s not clear how much the show has to do with that; variations of Arya have been around long before the book came out (in India, Indonesia and Iran, for example). But Arya did not break into the top 1,000 names in the U.S. until 2010, and instances of the name before then appear to be mostly for boys. Since 2010, Arya has steadily risen in popularity to 135th place, with 2,156 babies born in 2017 taking the name.

…Also cropping up on birth certificates is Daenerys, which is less popular than Khaleesi despite the fact that it is that character’s given name. The year 2017 also saw the arrival of 20 Sansas, 11 Cerseis, 55 Tyrions and 23 Theons in the United States. Pet parents are joining the trend, too, with dogs named “Jorah Mormutt,” Asha and Tyrion, and cats called Lady and Drogo. 

(16) ELF DAHLIA, OLD NORSE LAGUAGE OF WITCHES. “Witch hunts, mystics and race cars: inside the weirdest village in Sweden”The Guardian has the story.

In 1926, the yearbook of the Swedish Tourism Association described the village of Älvdalen as “a community with a dark insular spirit” where locals were “shadowed by distrust and unease”. It was there in 1668 that the Swedish witch-hunts began, resulting in the execution of 19 girls and one man suspected of occult practices. 

Today, Älvdalen, in the west of Sweden, still has its own language, Elfdalian, which has been traced back to Old Norse, the tongue of the Vikings….

(17) GEEK RECOGNITION. Reporters are there when the “Big Bang Theory cements its place in history”.

The cast of The Big-Bang Theory ramped up their farewell celebrations by being immortalised in cement outside Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre.

It’s the first time in the 92-year history of the tradition that any inductees have been honoured in this way solely for TV achievements.

The show will come to an end later this month after 12 years and 279 episodes.

Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco were on hand (and knee) on Wednesday for the ceremony.

They were joined by fellow stars Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch.

(18) WARD DISHES ON BATMAN. Burt Ward helps celebrate Batman 80 at SYFY Wire: “Watch: Batman stories from The Boy Wonder, Burt Ward”.

When Burt Ward landed the role of Robin, the Boy Wonder, on Batman back in 1965, he beat out more than 1100 other actors who’d tried out for the part. But as far as the producers were concerned, Ward, just being himself, was the Boy Wonder….

(19) OBSEQUIES. For no particular reason, this might be a good week to remember Saturday Night Live’s sketch “Superman’s Funeral.”

Jimmy Olsen (Rob Schneider) greets superheroes and super villains from DC and Marvel come to mourn Superman at his funeral. But obscure hero Black Lightning (Sinbad) is turned away when no one recognizes him. [Season 18, 1992]

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mlex, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

43 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/2/19 Good Night, Scroll

  1. (15) I remember when Splash vaulted the name Madison into the top 5 names selected for baby girls in 1985. In 30 years, Daenerys may seem as mundane as Madison does to me now.

  2. (15) I don’t think there’s anything strange about cats named Lady. It’s what comes after “Lady” that I’d wonder about.

    (13) I remember that in 1979, coming back after a month in Britain (for Worldcon, among other things), the hot dogs in the Bangor airport were a treat. (If they’d had a pizza parlor, that would have been just as good.)

  3. 15) Theon? Out of all the characters in GOT you choose that name?

  4. Somehow, recently, I’ve been imagining classic Trek with James T. Kirk played by Adam West.

    I file the scroll. The scroll files me.

  5. Daniel Dern: Quite right. I even had plans to link this item to my Free Comic Book Day post, but guess what — I never wrote one! Just now discovered the draft post I put together (and forgot) in December. Time to get to work….

  6. the “Tsunkatse” episode. Who saw him there?

    Good old “Stuntsake”. Yeah, I have the misfortune of having watched that in its first run, and then joined in the evisceration on Usenet the next day.

  7. (16) Today, Älvdalen, in the west of Sweden, still has its own language, Elfdalian, which has been traced back to Old Norse, the tongue of the Vikings….

    The linguist sighs deeply and points out that, in exactly the same sense, Swedish traces back to Old Norse, the tongue of the Vikings. So…what are they trying to say here?

    There is a pseudo-linguistics meme in which one states that “language X traces back to ancient language Y, making it the oldest language”, completely ignoring the fact that every language currently in use (save conlangs like Esperanto) trace back to the same time-depth, one way or another. Often there is a co-claim that language X is somehow relatively unchanged from its roots in language Y. Not only is this pretty much universally untrue, but bragging on a language for being stagnant and unchanging (and therefore most likely very near death) isn’t exactly positive.

    Another contributing factor to these pseudo-linguistic memes is a deep ignorance of the normal dialectal variation in healthy languages. In the first world, nationalist dialectal hegemony has tended to erase (or at least deny) the existence of cousin-dialects of the “official” language. But the survival of noticeable different dialects of a language group (not talking about families like “Slavic” here but dialects that are normally grouped under the same language name) is common and normal. It is their erasure and extinction that is the anomaly.

    Ok, enough of the linguistics rant. It’s just that I tend to be hyper-aware of the underlying memes that claims like this carry.

  8. 16) Haha, what? “The weirdest village in Sweden”? Yes, there are some people that still speak Älvdalska (which is closer to old norse than ordinary swedish), but that also goes for Orsamål, Siljamål and Våmhusmål. And then we have totally different languages like Sami and Tornedalska of course.

    Not really sure why Älvdalen is supposed to be more weird than other places though. They do have the worlds largest crossbow, so that is something.

  9. Also, Älvdalska isn’t that different from ordinary swedish anymore. When I was younger, there were a lot of places where I had trouble understanding what people were saying. Nowadays, all dialects have grown closer to standard swedish. Myself, I have lost most of the Stockholmska I used to have.

    But if we try, all of us can make ourselves incomprehensible to other parts of the country. 😉

  10. @ Hampus Eckerman: Indeed. I once ended up having to do simultaneous translation between skånska and norrländska. That was… really quite weird.

  11. 11) I don’t know if any of ‘Doc’ Smith’s space opera tropes were original to him – my instincts say probably not – but his books are the perfect exemplar of early space opera, for good and ill.

    The young commander clenched his fists and swore a startled deep-space oath as red lights flashed and alarmbells clanged. His screens were leaking like sieves–practically down–needle after needle of force incredible stabbing at and through his wall-shield–four stations gone already and more going!
    “Scrap the plan!” he yelled into his microphone. “Open everything to absolute top–short out all resistors–give ’em everything you can put through the bare bus-bars!”
    (“Galactic Patrol”)

    (I have a tremendous affection for Doc Smith’s better books, but that’s partly because I first read the Lensman series when I was twelve.)

  12. @11 – The Science Fiction Encyclopedia places the earliest space operas as “Doc” Smith’s Skylark stories (begun 1928), Edmond Hamilton’s “Crashing Suns” (1928), Ray Cummings’s Tarrano the Conqueror (begun 1925), Campbell’s Islands of Space (1931), and Williamson’s The Legion of Space (1934). I’ve read some earlier antecedents; there’s a space battle (the first in literature, I think) in Garrett P. Serviss’s Edison’s Conquest of Mars (1898) and Robert William Cole’s The Struggle for Empire: A Story of the Year 2236 (1900) reads like “Doc” Smith ripped it off, though I doubt he ever even heard of it. So if “Doc” Smith is not the father of space opera, he certainly is a father. I read and enjoyed the Lensman novels for their sheer ridiculousness, but I doubt I would ever bother to reread them.

    “Tsunkatse” aired during the period where I totally gave up on Voyager, and I’ve never bothered to go back for it.

  13. Just FYI: Thanks to an automated recommendation (Amazon, cough), I have found out that Linda Nagata released a new novel last month named Edges (beginning of the Inverted Empire series). I’ve never read any Nagata before but I’ve heard good things, and the ebook was on sale so I decided to get it.

  14. Rob Thornton: I have found out that Linda Nagata released a new novel last month named Edges (beginning of the Inverted Empire series). I’ve never read any Nagata before but I’ve heard good things, and the ebook was on sale so I decided to get it.

    I received an eARC of the book, and am working on a review for it. I really enjoyed it. It’s got some Big Ideas and some hard SF in it.

    I didn’t realize until after I read it that it is set in the same universe as (but much later than) the books in the Nanotech Succession, which I had not yet read. However, that series is not required reading for Edges, which stands on its own.

    The series is called The Inverted Frontier because it takes place many eons after humans’ exodus from Earth; in the intervening time, the explorers and their descendants, looking back, saw many planets become occluded by Dyson structures, and later only partially-occluded by fragments of those structures. So a number of them, with stasis and advanced drive technology, decide to go back inward to find out what happened to the very advanced civilizations which rose and then fell after their ancestors’ departure.

  15. @Rob @JJ Indeed. I enjoyed and reviewed it, myself. I am glad she’s returned to the Nanotech verse. The connections to previous novels enrich the novel, but I don’t think you need them to enjoy the book.

  16. Dr. Smolder Bravestone in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (not on my bucket list)

    Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was a much more entertaining movie than I expected it to be, and also a bit smarter. A lot of that is on Johnson (especially since this is getting to be my consistent reaction to many of his roles — and the exceptions were generally in universally bad scripts, rather than reflections of his ability). A bit more is on Jack Black who plays a weirdly perfect self-absorbed teenage beauty queen. I do wish they had done better by their black character (underused and a bit more of a cliche than the others, nothing worse that this white woman noticed), but it was *not* a total waste of 2 hours.

  17. Well, that SNL sketch WAS funny–and boy, do I miss Phil Hartman!

  18. @5: Should this agent consider whether he should bring others in on his decision whether a bi female is qualified to write about a lesbian, rather than assuming he’s qualified to decide?

    @11: I’ve read all 6 of the standard Lensman books (I disagree that Vortex Blasters belongs in the series just through being in the same universe), Spacehounds of IPC, and I think the first Skylark book. They were fun when I was 15; producing parodies of them when I was ~25 was also fun.

    @15: the Arya I know is hardly a baby; she shoots with the adults at the archery range where I marshal. And as @Andrew points out, this is hardly new; the daughter of the manager of one of the choruses I sing in named her daughter after a TV character. (I thought it was from Firefly, but AFAICT there’s no “Aerin” in that series — it was definitely TV rather than The Hero and the Crown

    @18: I’m embarassed now to admit I liked Batman when it was first on (although I hated the split format) — but that clip is fun. He’s wrong that there were no comic books brought to life before, and I’m not sure claiming to be the basis of the fun moments in Marvel films is plausible, but he seems a genuinely nice guy.

    @Steve Mollmann: I wonder how long it took Cummings to get his space opera published? Wikipedia says Smith began the first Skylark novel in 1919 and was trying to sell it in the early 20’s; maybe Cummings opened the way, or maybe it was just railroad time.

    @various: I keep hearing how great Nagata is, but what I’ve read has left me cold; it’s been a while, so maybe I should try again.

  19. There was definitely a Batman serial on film in the 1940s. I know because it is a Retro-Hugo nominee that I’ve been watching. Batman and Robin are primarily doing fisticuffs and acrobatics, with no particular gadgets. On the other hand the villain is a Japanese spy/saboteur who has a mind-control device and a radium-powered blaster gun.

  20. I also was a fan of Lensman. They are somewhere between Star Trek and a superhero movie, but I found them much better than Flash Gordon. For what’s Thats worth…

  21. @Chip Hitchcock, David Shallcross:
    And 1941 had The Adventures of Captain Marvel as a Republic serial, based on the pre-existing Fawcett Comics book. The Wikipedia page claims that was the first live-action comic-book superhero film adaptation. Granted, they’d originally wanted to do a Superman serial, but couldn’t get the rights because Paramount already had the rights and had subcontracted the work to Fleischer.

    (I honestly hadn’t realized that particular serial existed until doing some research on Republic Pictures for a short story I was working on set on a movie set around that time. Fascinating history. Republic was what you got when, during the Great Depression, a film processing lab bought out several of its bankrupt customers in order to guarantee a steady supply of work.)

  22. Smith was hugely successful in his time (there were quite a number of spin-off works written by others after his death – with his name prominently on the cover). I get the impression that he was very influential, too.

    I think that the Lensman series stands up pretty well, allowing for it’s age. The Skylark books, not so much.

  23. Smith is one of those guys that I wish I had encountered when I was younger — I first found out about him via Heinlein’s essay in … was it Expanded Universe?, but I wasn’t able to lay hands on his books until a good few years later, and I’ve always kind of stalled out somewhere in Triplanetary or shortly thereafter.

  24. I also didn’t get to Lensman until I was a little too old for it – I have read most of them, but they didn’t quite sing to me. Fortunately I did get to read Campbell’s Arcot, Morey and Wade books when I was a teenager (for some reason, my high school library had those books as an omnibus), so I can at least imagine who I would have reacted to Lensman if I had read them at the right time.

  25. May 2nd is Roscoe Lee Browne’s birthday. One of my favorite voices of all time. He did some genre voice work, but the first thing I thought of was the robot Box in Logan’s Run.

    I’d also be remiss if I didn’t point out that it’s Engelbert Humperdinck’s birthday. (The singer and not the composer.)

    Files, Scrolls, Pixels from the Sea!

  26. @Joe H.: Word around Usenet is that Triplanetary a) wasn’t originally written as a Lensman story and was shoehorned into that ‘verse later and b) isn’t all that good, and prospective readers are often advised to skip straight to Galactic Patrol.

  27. The Vortex Blaster was written in the Lensman ‘verse, but years after all the other stories and only tangentially connectedly. I read the titular short story for a class as an undergraduate and was not particularly whelmed.

  28. @Patrick Morris Miller. Thanks! Maybe I’ll try skipping ahead sometime — when I first did lay hands on the books, I didn’t know the history of Triplanetary (and, given my series-must-be-read-in-chronological-order OCD at the time, it might not have made a difference).

  29. The Captain Marvel serial looked pretty good, as far as costuming and casting. They seem to have missed the gentle tone of the original comics, though.

    Proctor and Bergman (of the Firesign Theatre) made a feature by editing Republic serials and other old movies and laying in new dialog, with hilariously close matching of lip movements. Captain Marvel is called “Caped Madman,” which fits his psycho over-the-top violence. If you can find it, I recommend it: J-MEN FOREVER. I first saw it on “Night Flight” on the old USA network (back in its hipper days) and almost injured myself laughing.

  30. @Patrick Morris Miller: Wikipedia’s article on Doc Smith says that Galactic Patrol in magazine form wasn’t written to the same universe as Triplanetary, but was altered to fit when it came out in book form. It has been about half a century since I read any of them so I can’t argue about quality; I remember that the book version of Triplanetary covered several separate bits of the Arisia era, where later books happened in relatively short times; some may prefer the latter.

  31. Triplanetary Is still a less-than-perfect fit. And it has a scene that I found very problematic. The idea of starting with Galactic Patrol isn’t bad. The “preceding” books are more historical background than a part of the main narrative.

    I’m not going to claim that any of them are great as literature. If they have “classic” status it’s more due to influence than quality. But last time I read them, the suck fairy had mostly stayed away and I didn’t regret it.

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