(1) OKORAFOR RECRUITED TO INTERPLANETARY INITIATIVE. Nnedi Okorafor will join the faculty at Arizona State University:
I’ve just accepted an appointment at Arizona State University as a Professor of Practice as part of the Interplanetary Initiative and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. I’m a professor again! This time, on MY terms and in a way that accommodates and compliments my heavy and active life as a published author and screenwriter (I won’t be teaching classes, but I will show up in some).
A small fact that makes me smile: They based my contract on those of an astronaut and a senator who hold the same type of position at the university.
The Interplanetary Initiative webpage says it “is a leading space center, creating private-public partnerships and driving our positive human space future for exploration by finding the key needs and filling them with interdisciplinary teams.”
(2) DINING ON ANOTHER PLANET. Esquire tells the “Planet Hollywood Origin Story – How Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and More Celebs Started Planet Hollywood”.
…This was opening night of the Planet Hollywood on Rodeo Drive. Every celebrity you could imagine was there. It was the hottest ticket in town. ABC aired a special event, Planet Hollywood Comes Home. The cops shut down the street. All this for a chain restaurant that served chicken coated in Cap’n Crunch. And not just a chain restaurant but a theme restaurant. A Rainforest Cafe with celebrities. It seems unfathomable now that stars would go along with this.
But they appeared to be having a ball. For a few years in the nineties, these stars dropped any pretense of hauteur, while everyone else succumbed to their love of celebrity by paying ten dollars to eat a burger under the Terminator’s leather jacket. Cheesy? Yes. A massive—but fleeting—success unlike anything before it? A resounding yes.
By the start of the next decade, the enterprise would collapse, falling into bankruptcy twice, and the bold-faced names who reveled there would begin to walk away. Today, there’s a tendency among the stars involved to be overcome with sudden amnesia. It seems they’d rather we all just forget about the whole thing.
…They needed an action star, someone with appeal in the U. S. and overseas, so they started with a moon shot: Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom Barish had worked with on The Running Man. It didn’t get much bigger than Schwarzenegger in the late eighties, early nineties. He was hot off The Terminator and Total Recall. On Valentine’s Day, after the actor wrapped a scene for Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Barish told him about the plan for a Hollywood restaurant. He accepted immediately. Barish left the set with his first star locked in as Schwarzenegger’s family arrived with Valentine’s Day balloons for him…
…Todd went to the studios to ask for donations—some would only lend items, demanding the right to get them back whenever they wanted. And he bought items that went up for auction, bidding against private collectors. He dug around in musty attics, damp garages, secondhand shops. He found the ships from Ben-Hur in the middle of a Nebraska cornfield. The ax Jack Nicholson wielded in The Shining, still caked in fake blood, was buried in the back of the garden shed of a guy who worked on the film.
“We asked what he wanted for it,” Todd told the Los Angeles Times in 1995, “and he said, ‘Well, I’ll need another ax.’ That was an easy deal.”…
(3) STRACZYNSKI’S NEW COMICS. You can’t read his mind but you can read his comics. J. Michael Straczynski told Facebook readers about his upcoming project:
“When are you going to tell another story about telepaths?” I’ve been asked at conventions over the years. (The second most frequent question I get asked is, “Where is the restroom?”) Having explored the subject area a fair bit in both #Babylon5 and #Sense8, it’s something I have a great interest in given all of the societal implications.
I waited until I had a story worth telling, one that would let me dive deep into the subject matter…which became TELEPATHS, a new 6 issue comic miniseries from AWA. Details and sample art by the amazing Steve Epting can be found at the link below.
SYFY Wire has some of the art: “J. Michael Straczynski shares a first look at his new comic series ‘Telepaths’”.
…“I’ve always been fascinated by questions of privacy and what defines the self,” he continues. “And the fact that so often we are defined by our secrets, by the things that we don’t tell anyone and what happens when suddenly all of that is out in the open and there’s nowhere to hide. That to me is the most interesting part. And I started thinking about this for a long, long time. I thought I have more things to say about this. I want to get it out in another story.”
This led to Telepaths, a book that is very much an ensemble that includes police officers, White House staff members, MIT professors, and even convicted murderers. Everyone has their secrets they are hiding, but once the incident happens, many of those secrets are no longer kept hidden. “That’s a larger application of this story is, maybe you’re having an affair and your partner has that power, so that person’s going to know,” he explains. “There’s no such thing as having a secret life or dreams or goals or ambitions. It’s all going to be on display.”
(4) CENSORSHIP HITS HONG KONG CINEMA. “China’s Censorship Widens to Hong Kong’s Vaunted Film Industry, With Global Implications” reports the New York Times.
…The city’s [Hong Kong’s] government on Friday said it would begin blocking the distribution of films that are deemed to undermine national security, marking the official arrival of mainland Chinese-style censorship in one of Asia’s most celebrated filmmaking hubs.
The new guidelines, which apply to both domestically produced and foreign films, come as a sharp slap to the artistic spirit of Hong Kong, where government-protected freedoms of expression and an irreverent local culture had imbued the city with a cultural vibrancy that set it apart from mainland megacities.
…The updated rules announced Friday require Hong Kong censors considering a film for distribution to look out not only for violent, sexual and vulgar content, but also for how the film portrays acts “which may amount to an offense endangering national security.”
Anything that is “objectively and reasonably capable of being perceived as endorsing, supporting, promoting, glorifying, encouraging or inciting” such acts is potential grounds for deeming a film unfit for exhibition, the rules now say.
The new rules do not limit the scope of a censor’s verdict to a film’s content alone.
“When considering the effect of the film as a whole and its likely effect on the persons likely to view the film,” the guidelines say, “the censor should have regard to the duties to prevent and suppress act or activity endangering national security.”
(5) PUBLISHER TAKES CAPTAIN JACK COMIC OFF WEBSITE. Radio Times reports more consequences of the Barrowman allegations: “Doctor Who graphic novel centred around Captain Jack Harkness on hold”.
Plans for a Doctor Who graphic novel centring around Captain Jack Harkness are on hold following allegations that John Barrowman had frequently exposed himself on the sets of Doctor Who and Torchwood.
All mentions of the graphic novel, referred to as ‘Doctor Who 2021 Event’, have been removed from the Penguin Random House website.
The now-deleted synopsis for the novel revealed that the story tied-in “directly with episode two of the hotly-anticipated series 13,” suggesting Barrowman may have filmed scenes for the upcoming 13th series….
(6) GET ACQUAINTED WITH WINNIPEG BIDDERS. The Winnipeg in ’23 Worldcon bidders got me this last night:
Join the “Winnipeg in ‘23” Worldcon bid committee movers and shakers at one of our Zoom socials, where you can hear the latest news, ask questions, and get to know our crew better. We’re dedicated to bringing you an absolutely stellar 81st World Science Fiction Convention in 2023. Winnipeg has lots of cool plans in the works, which we’d love to share with you! Sign up links and more information are here.
We will also stream our socials to our YouTube channel here.
Sign up here for June 12 at 8:00pm CDT
Sign up here for June 13 at 1:00pm CDT
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- June 12, 1987 — On this date in 1987, Predator premiered. The first in the franchise, it was directed by John McTiernan and written by Jim and John Thomas. It was produced by Lawrence Gordon, Joel Silver and John Davis. As you know, it starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers. There would be four Predator films including one currently in production plus three Alien cross-over films as well. With the exception of Roger Ebert, critics generally hated it which didn’t stop it from being very successful at the box office. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an eighty-eight percent rating.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born June 12, 1856 – Georges Le Faure. Among a dozen popular swashbuckling novels, War Under Water against Germany; The Extraordinary Adventures of a Russian Scientist (with Henry de Graffigny, 4 vols.; tr. in 2 vols. 2009) with an explosive that could destroy the world, a Space-ship faster than light, visits to other planets, aliens. Verne was first but not alone. (Died 1953) [JH]
- Born June 12, 1921 – James Houston. Canadian Volunteer Service Medal in World War II. Drew and painted in the Eastern Arctic; civil administrator of western Baffin Island. Brought Inuit carvings to Montreal, where Canadian Handicrafts Guild held autumn sales with queues stretching out the door and down the block; introduced printmaking to the Inuit with similar success. Master designer for Steuben Glass. Thirty books for children & adults, some ours. Producer & director of documentaries. Four honorary doctorates. Inuit Kuavati Award, Metcalf Award (twice), Massey Medal. Acrylic & aluminium – I said he was Canadian – sculpture Aurora Borealis 70 ft (20 m) high at Glenbow Museum, Calgary. Memoirs, Confessions of an Igloo Dweller and Zigzag. See here. (Died 2005) [JH]
- Born June 12, 1924 — Frank Kelly. All of his short fiction was written in the Thirties for Astounding Science Fiction and Wonder Stories. The stories remained uncollected until they were published as Starship Invincible: Science Fiction Stories of the 30s. He continues to be remembered in Fandom and was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1996. Starship Invincible is not available in digital form. (Died 2010.) (CE)
- Born June 12, 1927 — Henry Slesar. He had but one genre novel,Twenty Million Miles to Earth, but starting in the Fifties and for nearly a half century, he would write one hundred sixty short stories of a genre nature, with his first short story, “The Brat” being published in Imaginative Tales in September 1955. He also wrote scripts for television — CBS Radio Mystery Theater (which, yes, did SF), Tales Of The Unexpected, the revival version of the Twilight Zone, Batman, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and genre adjacent, lots of scripts for series Alfred Hitchcock did. (Died 2002.) (CE)
- Born June 12, 1930 — Jim Nabors. Fum on The Lost Saucer, a mid sixties series that lasted sixteen episodes about two friendly time-travelling androids from the year 2369 named Fi (Ruth Buzzi) and Fum (Jim Nabors) who land their UFO on Earth. (Died 2017.) (CE)
- Born June 12, 1940 — Mary A. Turzillo, 81. She won the Nebula Award for Best Novelette for her “Mars is No Place for Children” story, published first in Science Fiction Age. Her first novel, An Old Fashioned Martian Girl was serialized in Analog, and a revised version, Mars Girls was later released. Her first collection to polish her SWJ creds is named Your cat & other space aliens. Mars Girls which I highly recommend is available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)
- Born June 12, 1946 – Sue Anderson. Fannish musicals with Mark Keller, performed at 1970s Boskones: Rivets, Rivets Redux, Mik Ado about Nothing (i.e. alluding to both Gilbert & Sullivan, and Shakespeare), The Decomposers. George Flynn, Anne McCaffrey, Elliot Shorter are gone, but Chip Hitchcock was in some or all and may yet explain what really happened. Three short stories (one posthumously in Dark Horizons 50); this cover with Stevan Arnold for Vertex. (Died 2004) [JH]
- Born June 12, 1948 — Len Wein. Writer and editor best known for co-creating (with Bernie Wrightson) Swamp Thing and co-creating Wolverine (with Roy Thomas and John Romita Sr.) and for helping revive the X-Men. He edited Watchmen which must have been interesting dealing with Alan Moore on that. He’s a member of the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 2017.) (CE)
- Born June 12, 1953 — Tess Gerritsen, 68. ISFDB lists her as genre so I’ll include her even though I’m ambivalent on her being so. They’ve got one novel from the Jane Rizzoli series, The Mephisto Club, and three stand alone novels (Gravity, Playing with Fire and The Bone Garden). All save Gravity couldbe considered conventional thrillers devoid of genre elements. (CE)
- Born June 12, 1963 – Franz Miklis, age 58. Austrian artist active for decades in fanart (see here and here) and otherwise (see here and here). Edited Galacto-Celtic Newsflash. A hundred covers, three hundred interiors for e.g. Future Magic, LoneStarCon 3 the 71st Worldcon, Jupiter Jump, The Nat’l Fantasy Fan, Opuntia, Visions of Paradise. Artbooks Vance World (part 1, paintings; part 2, crystal cities & flying palaces); Behind the Event Horizon. Website here. [JH]
- Born June 12, 1964 — Dave Stone, 57. Writer of media tie-ins, including quite a few in the Doctor Who universe which contains the Professor Bernice Summerfield stories, and Judge Dredd as well. He has only the Pandora Delbane series ongoing plus the Golgotha Run novel, and a handful of short fiction. (CE)
- Born June 12, 1970 – Claudia Gray, age 51. A score of novels, a few shorter stories. Website here (“Bianca, Tess, Nadia, Skye, Marguerite, and Noemi aren’t that much like me. For example, they all have better hair”; also “Read as much as you can…. Read the stuff you love. Read the stuff you never thought you’d love”). [JH]
- Born June 12, 1985 – Madeleine Roux, age 36. A dozen novels (some NY Times Best-Sellers), half a dozen shorter stories. Fiction Weblogs (for some of us, blog is a drink) Allison Hewitt Is Trapped, Sadie Walker Is Stranded. Has read Pride & Prejudice, Frankenstein, Lolita, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Slaughterhouse-Five. [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
(10) FABLES TO CONTINUE. DC Comics announced that Bill Willingham’s Fables series will resume in September with Batman vs. Bigby! A Wolf in Gotham: “Fables Returns!”
…“I’ve wanted to do this since the very first year of Fables,” says writer Bill Willingham. “Why? Because Batman is a detective, and Bigby is a detective, and I love a well-crafted story crossing over characters from two different fictional worlds. It’s automatically a fish-out-of-water story for at least one of the main characters, and that sort of story always works. Plus, I knew from the very beginning of Fables that my fictional universe would allow for many ways to get Bigby Wolf into the DCU and Gotham City. Even though those cosmic story structures wouldn’t be introduced in the Fables books for a year or more, they were baked in from the very beginning.”
Then, on sale the first week of May 2022, the main story line continues with Fables #151—just in time for the 20th anniversary of Fables #1. Fables #151 is the first installment of “The Black Forest,” a 12-issue arc that picks up where the story left off in Fables #150, and is also a perfect jumping-on point for new readers. The series also reunites the core creative team, with pencils by Mark Buckingham, inks by Steve Leialoha, colors by Lee Loughridge, and letters by Todd Klein….
(11) WANTED TO GROW UP TO BE RUMPOLE. The author of the Phryne Fisher series tells CrimeReads about her days practicing law: “Kerry Greenwood’s Life In Crime”.
…My practice was far more colorful than most. Rumpole never prosecutes, and neither did Greenwood. I worked for the Legal Aid Commission and gave free advice and legal representation to anyone who needed it. Because appearing in court seemed to me the most important thing I could do with my life, I volunteered. I didn’t want to sit in a cosy office anyway. I wanted to be doing Rumpole things, and be an advocate for those who had no voice of their own. At the height of my career I was appearing in three different courts every week. ‘Anyone for Legal Aid?’ I would ask. Oh yes. Word got around about me. As my writing career blossomed I reduced my hours. By the end I was paid for five hours a week (around $A130), and for this trifling sum I would represent my twenty-odd clients in court and out of it; and stagger home knowing that whatever I was doing this for, it certainly wasn’t for the money….
(12) SAIL, HO. The Guardian comments on prospects for another film based on the work of Patrick O’Brian: “Avast and furious: will it be a triumphant return for Master and Commander?” Not sff, but didn’t you want to know?
If the 2003 naval epic Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World teaches us anything about life on a 19th-century British frigate, it is that even the most prolonged period of deck-scrubbing doldrums can suddenly erupt into thrilling action. Long-standing admirers of Peter Weir’s film experienced a similar adrenaline jolt this past weekend when news broke that the long-becalmed franchise based on Patrick O’Brian’s swashbuckling novel series was preparing to sail on to the big screen again. Ship just got real.
Patrick Ness, the author and screenwriter tasked with creating this new adaptation, confirmed his involvement by posting a bookshelf on Instagram of cherished O’Brian volumes. “This is a cache of riches,” he wrote, “with so much left to be explored.”…
(13) SHUTE IN COMICS. Clark J. Holloway has posted some installments of the On The Beach graphic adaptation on his website.
I first read Nevil Shute’s best-selling 1957 cautionary novel of nuclear holocaust when I was in my early teens. It scared the bejabbers out of me. Sometime later I saw the 1959 movie with Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Fred Astaire on late-night TV, and whatever bejabbers that may have been left in me fled to join their departed comrades. The story had a powerful impact on my young mind. However, as the years rolled by and the Cold War wound down the fear of imminent nuclear destruction faded from my mind and On the Beach became little more than a distant memory.
…In searching the Internet for reviews of Shute’s 1957 novel and the 1959 film I found that a closed-end comic strip adaptation of the novel had run in a number of the nation’s newspapers beginning on November 4, 1957. The story has been condensed down so that it could be told in five weeks worth of daily installments, excluding Sundays, and was drawn by cartoonist Ralph Lane. Since reprints of the comic are apparently rather rare, I’ve posted copies of them found on newspapers.com. Following the story are some examples of beautifully drawn original art from the strip that I’ve been able to acquire for my collection….
(14) WOULD YOU LIKE SOME SF IN YOUR POLITICS? [Item by Daniel Dern.] Daily Kos told how “Rep. Dan Crenshaw asks soldiers to report ‘wokeness’ in military ranks, is trolled into oblivion”.
…Continuing the Republican tradition of pretending at maximum manly toughness while thumping through life with shows of oddly weaponized gutlessness, it’s Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw and Arkansaw’s Sen. Tom Cotton leading a new charge against Rampant Theoretical Wokeness in our nation’s tough manly military. Crenshaw announced it on Twitter with suitable turgidity: “We won’t let our military fall to woke ideology,” he puffed. The Crenshaw-Cotton response is a new “whistleblower webpage” where you can “submit your story” of being, um, exposed to Wokeness….
Twitter was flooded with reports. (You’ll probably have to click on the tweet to see the full text,)
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day David Shallcross.]