(1) FIRST FIFTH. Camestros Felapton’s fifth anniversary celebration is in progress and he’s rolling out the party favors, like today’s “Book Launch: How To Science Fictionally“, “a new collection of posts spanning the nearly two-thousand day history of the blog.”
We answer all the important topics! How can you make your space ship travel faster than light? How can you make your teleporter work? How are you going to send a message home and how are you going to style your beard?
(2) ESTATE SALE. Doug Ellis alerted Facebook readers to the availability of a catalog for the Spike MacPhee estate sale of original art, books and other material.
From 1977 to 1989, the Science Fantasy Bookstore operated in Harvard Square in Cambridge. Deb and I hung out there when we were in law school and became friends with the owner, Spike MacPhee. Spike was a member of NESFA and also founded the small press, Paratime Press, which published several checklists in the 1970’s. He was also GoH at the first Arisia convention in 1990.
Besides reading SF, Spike was a devoted science art collector. From the late 1960’s into the 1990’s, Spike attended several SF conventions – among them Boskone, Lunacon, Nycon III, Noreascon, Discon, Torcon and Disclave – where he would often buy art at the art show auction. He also became friends with many SF artists of the 1970’s and bought art directly from them as well. Spike remained a passionate fan until he passed away on November 13, 2019.
The second catalog is now available, and can be downloaded until May 10 as a 30 MB pdf file here.
If you’d like to download actual jpgs of the images, those can be downloaded in a zip file until May 10 directly here.
(3) WHAT KEEPS HIM READING. In “Cosmic Horror: The Worst Possible Discoveries A Detective Could Make”, CrimeReads’ Scott Kenemore ponders why, even if the face of the author and his characters’ failings, he finds Lovecraft’s stories so compelling.
….The answer—I eventually decided—was that Lovecraft’s unlikable, stuffy, racist neuters have a way of stumbling onto things that hint at some of the most dramatic and gripping revelations one could bring to light.
Namely, Lovecraft’s protagonists tend to encounter clues that point to the fact that humans—their hopes and dreams, their institutions and religions, and most certainly their accomplishments—don’t, for lack of a better word, matter. That the universe doesn’t give a damn what we do, and that our opinion of ourselves is a case of vast overestimation.
Crime fiction is full of stories in which a detective seeks to solve one mystery, but his or her digging unintentionally unearths other, deeper, more disturbing secrets. So it is with Lovecraft. . . just to the nth degree….
(4) MR. SMITH GOES TO LAKE-TOWN. Not quite as handsome as Jimmy Stewart, but his heart is in the trim:“Gollum actor Serkis to raise cash by reading entire Hobbit live online”.
Andy Serkis will give a continuous live reading of The Hobbit online, to raise money for charity.
The Gollum actor will read JRR Tolkien’s 1937 novel from start to end, breaking only to nip to the loo.
Money raised from the 56-year-old’s expected 12-hour performance will be split between NHS Charities Together and Best Beginnings.
Serkis played the corrupted character, originally known as Smeagol, in the The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films.
“So many of us are struggling in isolation during the lockdown,” he said.
“While times are tough, I want to take you on one of the greatest fantasy adventures ever written, a 12-hour armchair marathon across Middle Earth whilst raising money for two amazing charities which are doing extraordinary work right now to help those most in need.”
,,,His reading will take place from 10:00 BST on bank holiday Friday, with streaming details to follow via his Hobbitathon Covid-19 Go Fund Me Page.
(5) REMOTE TOUR. BBC tells what it’s like when “Sir Quentin Blake does ‘The Robot'”.
The cartoonist and illustrator Sir Quentin Blake is famous for his collaborations with the writers Roald Dahl and David Walliams.
But now he has stumbled on a story of his own involving a mysterious taxi driver and a robot.
Sir Quentin has created a massive new artwork following a “bizarre” encounter with a taxi driver two years ago.
“We live in worrying times,” the driver had told Sir Quentin, when he picked him up from his home.
“He [the taxi driver] went on to say that he’d seen Picasso’s Guernica a couple of times in Spain. And then he said, ‘what we need is a picture like that for our time and you are the person to do it.'”
Sir Quentin could not resist the challenge and felt: “I must try something.”
…He completed the “narrative picture” in a day. It forms the centrepiece of a new exhibition called We Live in Worrying Times, which was due to open at Hastings Contemporary last month.
But the coronavirus pandemic put paid to that.
At the age of 87, Sir Quentin is self-isolating. And the Museum has been closed to the public since March.
That, though, is where the robot comes in.
A camera, mounted on a thin black pole attached to wheels, is able to tour the gallery and stream pictures back to viewers watching on their computers at home.
Up to five people at a time, plus an operator, can join the tour and explore and examine Sir Quentin’s new work.
(6) EIZO KAIME OBIT. Special effects modeler Eizo Kaime, who worked on the original Godzilla movie, died of leukemia on April 24. He was 90.
In the 1954 film “Godzilla”, he was in charge of the modeling of special effects costumes based on the prototype created by the sculptor Sadazo Toshimitsu.
Japanese paper and cloth were piled up on the mold made of wire, wire mesh, and bamboo, and the raw material synthetic latex of rubber was used for the hull. It took about two months to make the production.
He then contributed to Godzilla Raids Again (aka Gigantis The Fire Monster), King Kong Vs. Godzilla, Godzilla Vs. The Thing, Ghidorah The Three-Headed Monster and Invasion Of The Astro-Monster, and many other such movies. In 1966 he formed his own company, Kaimai Productions, where he continued working on TV shows, including the Ultra Q and Ultraman, until the early 1980s.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- May 7, 1895 — H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine is first published in book edition by Henry Holt & Co. (after having been serialized.)
- May 7, 1966 — BBC first aired Doctor Who‘s “Don’t Shoot The Pianist”. A First Doctor Story, It involved the TARDIS landing at Tombstone as the Doctor needs a dentist, which results in the Clantons believing the Doctor to be Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp taking him into protective custody while the Companions of course get in danger. It is one of the surviving episodes of that Doctor and despite the fan myth is not the lowest rated story of all time.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge, with an assist from John Hertz.]
- Born May 7, 1912 — Clyde Beck. Fan and critic who wrote what Clute says in EoSF is the first work of criticism devoted to American SF: Hammer and Tongs which waspublished in 1937 by Futile Press. It was assembled from four essays and the reviews Beck wrote for The Science Fiction Critic, a fanzine by his brother Claire P. Beck with a newly written author’s preface by Clyde. He wrote four pieces of genre fiction between the Thirties and Fifties. None of what he wrote is in-print. (Died 1986.)
- Born May 7, 1918 – Walt Liebscher. His fanzine Chanticleer was a finalist for the 1946 Retro-Hugo; Harry Warner said “Liebscher did incredible things with typewriter art. He specialized in little faces with subtle expressions…. the contents page was frequently a dazzling display of inventive borders and separating lines.” His later pro writing was collected in Alien Carnival (1974). He was given the Big Heart, our highest service award, in 1981. (Died 1985)
- Born May 7, 1922 — Darren McGavin. Oh, I loved him being Carl Kolchak on Kolchak: The Night Stalker — How many times have seen it? I’ve lost count. Yes, it was corny, yes, the monsters were low rent, but it was damn fun. And no, I did not watch a minute of the reboot. By the way, I’m reasonably sure that his first genre role was in the Tales of Tomorrow series as Bruce Calvin in “The Duplicates“ episode which you can watch here.
- Born May 7, 1923 — Anne Baxter. The Batman series had a way of attracting the most interesting performers and she was no exception as she ended playing two roles there, first Zelda and then Olga, Queen of the Cossacks. Other genre roles were limited I think to an appearance as Irene Adler in the Peter Cushing Sherlock Holmes film The Masks of Death. (Died 1985.)
- Born May 7, 1931 — Gene Wolfe. He’s best known for his Book of the New Sun series. My list of recommended novels would include Pirate Freedom, The Sorcerer’s House and the Book of the New Sun. He’s won BFA, Nebula, Skylark, BSFA and World Fantasy Awards but to my surprise has never won a Hugo. (Died 2019.)
- Born May 7, 1940 — Angela Carter. She’s best remembered for The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories where she took fairy tales and made them very adult in tone. Personally, I’d recommend The Curious Room insteadas it contains her original screenplays for The Company of Wolves which starred Angela Lansbury and The Magic Toyshop films, both of which were based on her own original stories. (Died 1992.)
- Born May 7, 1951 — Gary Westfahl, 69. SF reviewer for the LA Times, the unfortunately defunct Internet Review of Science Fiction, and Locus Online. Editor of The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works, and Wonders; author of Immortal Engines: Life Extension and Immortality in Science Fiction and Fantasy (with George Slusser) and A Sense-of-Wonderful Century: Explorations of Science Fiction and Fantasy Films.
- Born May 7, 1964 — Craig Hinton. He’s best remembered for his work on various spin-offs from Doctor Who. He wrote six novels set in the Whoverse plus two more in Tomorrow People audio series as produced by Big Finish. (Died 2006.)
- Born May 7, 1968 — Traci Lords, 52. Yes she did a number of reasonably legit genre appearances after her, errr, long adult acting career. She was for example in The Tommyknockers series along with the first Blade film. She’s also in the the SF comedy Plughead Rewired: Circuitry Man II (I know, weird title that.) And finally, I should note she was Dejah Thoris in Princess of Mars. By the way her first post-adult film was a genre undertaking and that was Not of This Earth. Yes, it is a remake of Roger Corman’s 1957 film of the same name.
- Born May 7, 1972 — Jennifer Yuh Nelson, 48. She is the director of Kung Fu Panda 2, Kung Fu Panda 3, and The Darkest Minds. Yuh is the first woman to solely direct an animated feature from a major Hollywood studio. The Darkest Minds is a dystopian SF film which Rotten Tomatoes gives a rating of 17% to. Ouch.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Danish artist Striber’s political cartoon translates: “And the award for best Representation of Bats in media this year goes to…”
(10) CAP. “Finding Space for Art in Dark Times” at LitHub is about “Megan Margulies on Her Grandfather [Joe Simon], Captain America, and the Purpose of Creation.”
…My grandfather worked for Fox Publications at the time, but he and fellow artist Jack Kirby rented an art studio where they worked after-hours. Hunched over their desks all night, they brainstormed new character ideas and worked on freelance assignments that offered needed extra income. It was here in this studio, their own bubble of imagination, that Captain America was created. While the newspapers reported the horrors overseas, as the city buzzed with fear and heated debate over whether the United States should enter the war, my grandfather put his pencil to paper.
While writing, there are moments when I stop typing, my eyes lose focus, and I’m gone. It’s as though I’ve entered another dimension where I take pieces of the world, rearrange and jostle, until I can understand what it is I’m trying to put on the page. I’m grateful for the escape, even if it’s only for a few minutes. I picture my grandfather in this dimension, leaving the buzz of the city, the photos of war in the newspapers, his hand frozen over the blank sheet of paper.
I often study his artwork that hangs on my walls. If you look closely enough, you can see the ghost of an erased line where his hand worked, moving—rearranging and jostling—the shapes and movements of a character. Sometimes it’s the letters that were erased, the words that he reconsidered. He was a writer as well, his mind always spinning tales of adventure and humor.
(11) JAILBREAK. Matt Patches, in “The post-disaster artist” on Polygon, has a profile of Josh Trank, whose new film Capone is the first effort of his since his widely-panned Fantastic Four film in 2015. Trank says he was offered a Boba Fett film what was never made, but which eventually became The Mandalorian.
…“If Josh Trank is not in Movie Jail,” one critic tweeted after the announcement of Capone, “does Movie Jail even exist anymore?” Trank doesn’t believe it does. Hollywood has sentenced directors to careers in TV or general obscurity, but to Trank, escaping the metaphorical lockup is about writing and directing one’s way out of it, doing the work. There’s undeniable privilege to the perspective, considering the struggle marginalized groups face in breaking into the industry, yet little to argue with, logically — the best way to get a movie made, if all you want to do in the world is make movies, is to write a movie to make and go get it made.
I spoke to Trank off and on for four years as he reeled from Fantastic Four and set out to make Capone. And while he sidestepped Movie Jail, there may be no escape from the larger requirements of the industry and his own personal hang-ups. There are costs to every step of the process, and some personalities are more susceptible than others.
“Whatever I’m sacrificing just has to be sacrificed,” he said. “It’s worth it for me […] I’m just here to do this.”
(12) RIVERDALE EPISODE RECAP – BEWARE SPOILERS. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] Last night on Riverdale Archie and the gang were getting their acceptances to college, and Jughead Jones was admitted to the Iowa Writer’s Workshop — a highly unusual move, because while the workshop has undergraduate courses, nearly everyone there is working on their M.F.A.’s. But Jughead has to write an additional story to be admitted, so he spends much of the episode writing a story about killing their enemy, Mr. Honey the principal. and the fantasy of Mr. Honey’s death is dramatized along with what really happened to Mr. Honey.
Also, a character named Chuck is introduced just so a character can say, “What’s up, Chuck?”
(13) A MARTIAN ODYSSEY. The American Museum of Natural History in New York City invites you to come along for “Field Trip Mars” this Friday, May 8 at 1:30 pm ET on YouTube.
Are volcanoes still active on Mars? What does Mars smell like? Where did the water that was once on Mars go? Get answers to these questions—and ask your own! Join the Museum’s Director of Astrovisualization Carter Emmart and astrophysicist Jackie Faherty during a real-time flyover across the Martian landscape on the Museum’s YouTube channel
(14) PLANTING A FIELD OF DREAMS. Todd Zaleski, in “Harper joins Phillie Phanatic for bedtime story” on MLB.com, says that Phillies slugger Bryce Harper decided to read The Phillie Phanatic’s Bedtime Story on Instagram, a tale that turns out to be sf, because the notorious green blob dons a virtual reality helmet and time-travels to the Colonial era, where he flies a kite with Ben Franklin and cracks the Liberty Bell!
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Lise Andreasen, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus who was inspired by Xtifr’s comment.]