Pixel Scroll 7/5/20 Voyage To The Bottom of the Wonderful Mushroom Planet

(1) LAST NIGHT IN MY HOMETOWN. LA County banned cities from hosting the usual Fourth of July public fireworks displays. But as you know, nature abhors a vacuum.

(2) LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS FEN. Camestros Felapton is firing up a new series of posts about the Best Fan Writer Hugo finalists. First on deck is: “Hugo Fan Writer: Why you should vote for…Cora Buhlert”.

… Cora has been doing the hard working of promoting self-published and small press SF&F for years. While sections of fandom have been trying to reframe publishing mode as some kind of partisan ideological battle, Cora has been writing, publishing and promoting indie sci-fi consistently and in a way designed to enhance science fiction writing….

(3) FOLLOW THE MONEY. NPR takes “A Look Into The Wild Economy Of Tabletop Board Game Funding”.

Long before the coronavirus pandemic, tabletop board games were having something of a renaissance, with popular games like The Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride becoming mainstream additions to family game nights.

Then, COVID-19 hit and, as Quartz reported, it changed how many hobbyist board game creators approached the industry. But for many people who suddenly found themselves stuck at home under lockdown, the pandemic also spurred newfound interest in strategy games that require creativity and concentration. Board game hobbyists had more time to spend learning about new games coming out, while newbies to the scene were discovering a world beyond classics like Monopoly and Clue.

Then, on March 30, the board game Frosthaven — the dungeon crawling, highly-anticipated sequel to the hit game Gloomhaven — surpassed its funding goal of $500,000 on Kickstarter in mere hours. Today, it is the most-funded board game on the site ever, with nearly $13 million pledged toward funding the game’s development. Only two projects have ever crowdsourced more funding on the site.

Frosthaven’s success seemed to exemplify a shift that has been happening in the tabletop gaming community for years: toward games that are not only focused on strategy and adventure, but also a new type of funding model where fans have more say than ever in which games move from the idea stage to their living rooms. And hobbyist tabletop games are a different breed of entertainment altogether.

“You have mass market games, which are Monopoly and everything that you find at Target or Toys “R” Us, and you have hobbyist games, which you typically find at your FLGS — your friendly local gaming store,” said Cree Wilson, the programming and tabletop gaming manager for Comicpalooza. “Then there’s this blurry line of stuff in between, which I’ve heard sometimes called entertainment gaming, and it’s games selling tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of copies, but isn’t selling millions yet.”

For many of these smaller games, funding from fans has proved essential. Hasbro, the company that makes games like Monopoly and Connect 4, earns hundreds of millions each year through everything from game sales and licensing deals to its TV and film business. But funding models are far different for newer or smaller game makers. These makers have become part of one of the country’s most popular quarantine hobbies, but they’ve done so through a mini-economy that relies on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter.

(4) AI-YI-YI! “Star Trek’s Robert Picardo Sings About Not Being Brent Spiner in New Music Video”  – Comicbook.com sets the stage.

… “A few weeks ago, my friend and colleague Brent Spiner tweeted a hilarious musical spoof of himself that inspired me to do something in my characteristically more sophisticated manner, as an homage,” Picardo says in a statement about his new video. “My good friend James Marlowe (The Marlowe-Pugnetti Company) directed a crack mini-crew. Legendary event planner and TV personality Edward Perotti does a great cameo.”

And by popular demand, the Brent Spiner video he is reacting to:

(5) LAYING THE FOUNDATION. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] WIRED talked to one of the principals on the upcoming Apple TV+ adaptation of the Foundation series: “The Producer of ‘Foundation’ on Asimov, Covid-19, and Race in Sci-Fi”.

The Covid-19 pandemic all but halted Hollywood. Production on most movies and television shows (except for a handful of  animated programs) became too risky, and ceased. It’s only in the last few weeks that organizations like SAG-AFTRA and the Directors Guild of America have begun publishing guidelines for how cast and crew members might safely return to work. In this lull, however, studios are still cobbling together their stockpiled footage and releasing tantalizing trailers for upcoming projects. The most recent to ricochet around the internet? A first look at Apple TV+’s adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s beloved Foundation series.

Even if you’ve never read the Asimov novels, which were first published in the 1950s, every science fiction fan has felt their influence, especially in genre classics like Star Wars. Much of the plot concerns the fall of a certain Galactic Empire (ahem), and a desperate, surprisingly math-heavy attempt to save human civilization from a vast, bleak dark age. Apple’s adaptation, which is due to hit the tech giant’s streaming platform sometime in 2021, features stars like Jared Harris (Chernobyl) and Lee Pace (Halt and Catch Fire) and, based on the first teaser, looks epic. One of the people behind that epic-ness is Leigh Dana Jackson, Foundation’s co-executive producer. He can’t talk much about his new show yet, but WIRED still picked his brain about Asimov, Covid-19, and genre fiction’s unique capacity to capture revolution.

(6) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

Published fifty-nine years ago as a novel by Ace Books, Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time started out as a two-part serial in Galaxy Magazine‘s March and April 1958 issues. It would win the Hugo Award for Best Novel or Novelette at Solacon. In general, it was well-received with Algis Budrys liking it but noting it was more of a play than an actual novel. In 2012, it was selected for inclusion in the Library of America’s two-volume compilation American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s. (CE)

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 5, 1878 – Howard Brown.  A hundred covers for us, forty interiors; only a small part of his prodigious work.  Cover artist for Scientific American 1913-1931.  ArgosyRadio NewsScience and Invention.  Main cover artist for Astounding while Tremaine was editor.  Also Startling and Thrilling Wonder.  Here is the January 1934 Astounding.  Here is the November 1938.  Here is the May 1940 Startling.  Here is an interior for At the Mountains of Madness (April 1934 Astounding).  Here is HB’s cover for the April 1934 Astounding and a more detailed biography.  (Died 1945) [JH]
  • Born July 5, 1935 – John Schoenherr.  Two hundred covers, seven hundred interiors.  Here is Starship Troopers.  Here is The Tomorrow People.  Here is the August 1980 Analog.  Here is the March 1965 Analog with the beginning of Dune that made JS famous for illustrating this story.  Here is an interior for Children of Dune.  Here is his cover for Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon (1987) for which JS won the Caldecott Medal.  See also “The Role of the Artist in Science Fiction” (with Kelly Freas, Jack Gaughan, Eddie Jones, Karel Thole), Noreascon I Proceedings (29th Worldcon).  Here is Kurt Snavely’s treatment of JS.  Here is Ian Schoenherr’s.  Hugo for Best Pro Artist, 1965.  Guest of Honor at Boskone 14, Lunacon 25.  SF Hall of Fame.  (Died 2010) [JH]
  • Born July 5, 1941 Garry Kilworth, 79. The Ragthorn, a novella co-authored with Robert Holdstock, which won the World Fantasy Award. It’s an excellent read and it makes me wish I’d read other fiction by him. Anyone familiar with his work? (CE)
  • Born July 5, 1944 – Cathy Hill, 76.  Known in particular for drawing raccoons – cartoon raccoons.  Here is “Raccoons on the Moon”; here is “The Lisping Asteroid”, which was used for the cover of The “Rowrbrazzle” Sampler.  The raccoons even got involved with Cerebus the Aardvark; and CH published Mad Raccoons.  Here is an index of her comic-book work.  She’s done more, in and out of our field: here is Locus 52 from its fanzine days, with her logograph (note that her puzzled aliens get it wrong); here is her cover for the 1979 printing of The Blue Worldhere is her cover for the original Keep Watching the Skies! (note propeller beanie).  Here is a dinosaur she drew for Don Glut.  Her oil paintings will have to wait for another time.  [JH]
  • Born July 5, 1948 — William Hootkins. One of these rare performers who showed up playing secondary roles in a number of major film franchises. He was the Rebel pilot Jek Tono Porkins in Star Wars, he played Munson in the Flash Gordon film, he was Major Eaton, one of the two officers who gave Indy his orders in Raiders of The Lost Ark, and he was Lt Eckhardt in the 1989 Batman. (Died 2005.) (CE)
  • Born July 5, 1957 Jody Lynn Nye, 63. She’s best-known for collaborating with Robert Asprin on the ever so excellent MythAdventures series.  Since his death, she has continued that series and she is now also writing sequels to his Griffen McCandle series as well. She’s got a space opera series, The Imperium, out now which sounds intriguing. (CE)
  • Born July 5, 1958 Nancy Springer, 62. May I recommend her Tales of Rowan Hood series of which her Rowan Hood: Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest is a most splendid revisionist telling of that legend? And her Enola Holmes Mysteries are a nice riffing off of the Holmsiean mythos. (CE)
  • Born July 5, 1963 Alma Alexander, 57. Sixteen novels, a dozen shorter stories, for us; more outside our field.  The Secrets of Jin-Shei has been translated into fourteen languages; three sequels.  God of the Unmage has Nikola Tesla.  Of writing The Second Star, just released a few days ago, she says “dream fragments … wash up tantalizingly as flotsam and jetsam on the shores of coming awake.  One such fragment lay glittering on that shore one morning – a single sentence … a soul is like a starfish”; this proves to bear on interstellar travel.  She likes coffee, cherries, and sonnets.  [JH]
  • Born July 5, 1964 Ronald D. Moore, 56. Screenwriter and producer who’s best-remembered  for his work on Star Trek: The Next Generation where he fleshed out the Klingon race and culture, on the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, and Outlander. He’s the creator and writer of For All Mankind. (CE) 
  • Born July 5, 1985 – Meagan Spooner, 35.  Ten novels (five with Amy Kaufman).  Shadowlark had a Booklist starred review; Hunted, a Kirkus starred review.  These Broken Stars (with AK) was a New York Times Best-Seller and won an Aurealis Award.  Here’s how she ranks some books I know: Euripedes, Electra, The Phoenician Women, The Bacchae (4.21); Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest (4.18); Austen, Persuasion (4.14); Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac (4.07); Adams, Watership Down (4.06).  She plays guitar, video games, and with her cat.  [JH]

(8) COMICS SECTION.

Jan Eliot’s Stone Soup comic strip is winding down:

For those of you who saw this Sunday’s strip, I know you can see that I have decided to retire Stone Soup. I can’t imagine turning the strip, which is so personal to me, over to anyone else, and my syndicate is not planning on running reruns. The last Stone Soup strip will appear on July 26, when I will officially jump off the funny pages.

And the artist has been breaking the news to the characters, within the strips: June 14, June 21, June 28, and July 5.

(9) DESPITE HAMILTON. In the Washington Post, Steven Zeitchik interviews “frequent chronicler of Disney” Josh Spiegel about whether Disney’s business model works any more. “How Disney could be facing a lot more than a lost summer”.

Disney has long been an outfit fueled by nostalgia…But Disney’s little secret is that such nostalgia cannot stand on its own–it needs to be continually fed and reinforced.  New Star Wars offerings drive longing for the ’70s, a Beauty And The Beast remake powers nostalgia for the 1990s.  Marvel movies draft off pleasant feelings of a childhood of comic books (and, 12 years into their run, of themselves).  Disney is a constant interplat between past and present, a continuous bicycle chain between the pieces we once loved and the current releases we see to remind us of them.

And that chain has now been severed.

‘What Disney really needs to do, what they rely on, is creating new nostalgia; they can’t just let the old kind stand for itself,’ Spiegel said.  ‘Because, at some point, the umpteenth time you watch Frozen is the last time you watch Frozen.’

(10) OOPSIE. “Rocket Lab: Latest mission from New Zealand lost in flight” – BBC can’t find it either.

The American launch company that flies its rockets out of New Zealand has lost its latest mission.

Rocket Lab said its Electron vehicle failed late in its ascent from Mahia Peninsula on North Island.

All satellite payloads are assumed to have been destroyed.

These included imaging spacecraft from Canon Electronics of Japan and Planet Labs Inc of California, as well as a technology demonstration platform from a UK start-up called In-Space Missions.

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck apologised to his customers.

“I am incredibly sorry that we failed to deliver our customers’ satellites today. Rest assured we will find the issue, correct it and be back on the pad soon,” he said on Twitter

Rocket Lab has made everyone in the space sector sit up since it debuted its Electron vehicle in 2017. It’s at the head of a wave of new outfits that want to operate compact rockets to service the emerging market for small satellites.

Saturday’s lift-off from New Zealand was the Electron’s 13th outing to date. All prior launches had been a complete success, bar the very first which failed to reach its intended orbit.

(11) BEYOND BURGERS. “Can a BBC reporter make better pizza than a machine?” – video.

A machine which is able to put together about 300 pizzas per hour has been developed by Picnic.

The dough base still has to be prepared by a human but the sauce and toppings are added by machine.

Inside the machine are ingredient modules such as sauce, cheese, vegetables and meat.

A camera takes pictures of each stage of the ingredients being added to the pizza which is then analysed by artificial intelligence software to help it improve the process.

(12) THE THINGIE WITH A DONGLE. “Why Singapore turned to wearable contact-tracing tech”.

Singapore’s TraceTogether Tokens are the latest effort to tackle Covid-19 with tech. But they have also reignited a privacy debate.

The wearable devices complement the island’s existing contact-tracing app, to identify people who might have been infected by those who have tested positive for the virus.

All users have to do is carry one, and the battery lasts up to nine months without needing a recharge – something one expert said had “stunned” him.

The government agency which developed the devices acknowledges that the Tokens – and technology in general – aren’t “a silver bullet”, but should augment human contact-tracers’ efforts.

The first to receive the devices are thousands of vulnerable elderly people who don’t own smartphones.

To do so, they had to provide their national ID and phone numbers – TraceTogether app users recently had to start doing likewise.

If dongle users test positive for the disease, they have to hand their device to the Ministry of Health because – unlike the app – they cannot transmit data over the internet.

(13) HOLLYWOOD ON THE LINE. “A Theater Student Gets Supersized Attention After Superhero Video Goes Viral”NPR story and video.

Julian Bass loves Spider-Man, a trait you can easily glean by scrolling through the videos he posts to his TikTok and Twitter accounts.

“I just think Spider-Man is so fun. It’s so inspiring to me,” Bass told NPR’s Weekend Edition. “Everything, every little aspect that you could possibly think of about Spider-Man is something that I’m aware of, that I know of.”

In one now-viral video, the 20-year-old theater major at Georgia State University morphs into his favorite heroes using his own special-effects — first a Jedi wielding a blue lightsaber, then Ben 10, before his final transition into Spider-Man. He asked his followers to retweet the video “enough times that Disney calls.” Twenty million views later, Disney wasn’t the only one he heard from.

At first, he said his video gained “some small traction with my immediate circle.”

“And then the verified profiles started commenting,” he said. “The first one for me was The Lonely Island. And then I started seeing Josh Gad, Matthew Cherry. I saw Mark Hamill liked it. I mean if Mark Hamill likes it, I’m a Jedi now.”

Bass said these aren’t just retweets — he’s also getting messages from “bigwigs” such as Marvel co-president Louis D’Esposito and people from HBO Max.

(14) NZ LETS IN SOME PRODUCTIONS. Variety reports various genre shows get exemptions for cast and crew to enter NZ: “‘The Lord Of the Rings’, ‘Cowboy Bebop’ Series Among 5 Productions Granted New Zealand Border Exemptions”.

Several more overseas productions will join James Cameron’s Avatar sequels and Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog Netflix film in New Zealand in the coming months.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment has announced that Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings series, Netflix series Cowboy Bebop and Sweet Tooth, Peter Farrelly’s film Greatest Beer Run Ever starring Viggo Mortensen, and Power Rangers Beast Morphers series have been granted border exemptions.

A total of 206 foreign-based cast and crew from those productions, along with 35 family members, will be allowed to enter New Zealand in the next six months, according to MBIE manager immigration policy Sian Roguski, quoted by New Zealand’s Stuff. Additionally, 10 more Avatar crew – in addition to the 31 already in New Zealand – had been granted border exemptions. All new arrivals will be subject to self-quarantine….

(15) BLOWN UP, SIR! In “Independence Day Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that the film’s aliens are very considerate by blowing up monuments that can be put in the trailer.

[Thanks to Daniel Dern, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Errolwi, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

37 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/5/20 Voyage To The Bottom of the Wonderful Mushroom Planet

  1. (4) AI-YI-YI!
    I love this video even on its own terms.

    But I’d love to see the referenced “hilarious musical spoof tweet” that inspired it. Maybe it’s just me (or my browser and/or its plugins) but I’m not seeing it in the comicbook.com link.

  2. 7) Nancy Springer’s Book of Isle is one of my all-time favorite fantasy series. Her prose style is gorgeous and she makes those archetypes ring and shimmer like they are brand new.

    13) Whoh. That TicToc clip was incredible.

  3. Daniel Dern: That really should be part of the item…. and now it is! Spiner’s tweet is here.

  4. (1) It was 2.5 hours of bangs in booms in my neighborhood. (They’ve been shooting off some every night for the last 6 weeks.)
    I’m looking forward to people running out of pyrotechnics.

  5. (4) AI-YI-YI!
    Mike, thanks. BTW to Filers, if you’re going to watch the Picardo, be sure to watch to the end, when he briefly riffs on a different song. (Reminder, Picardo was recently scroll-cited for his opera singing during a Star Trek episode.

  6. @6: Algis Budrys liking it but noting it was more of a play than an actual novel. Well, duh; Leiber was always into stagecraft and wrote about it a number of times (“Four Ghosts in Hamlet”, “237 Talking Statues, Etc.”) , so choosing to write a novel that could also be a play (and has been done as such) is hardly surprising. It may not have the temporal scope of Who?, but it had plenty of mental and emotional scope instead.

    @7: My first encounter with Cathy Hill’s work was her redrawing of a few bars of the score of the “1812 Overture” finale, with the notes dressed up as French and Russian soldiers or reacting to the music or each other. I still have this and seven others she did on those lines in the later-mid 1970’s; I didn’t realize she was already in her 30’s when she did these — there’s a sense of fun in them that feels very fresh.

  7. (7) It’s Bill Waterson’s birthday. Many of the Calvin and Hobbes strips had genre themes. He’s also proof that it’s OK to quit when you’re on top and live quietly in retirement. Something some other celebs might wish to consider.

    Also Jean Cocteau. I remember being scared to death by La Belle et la Bête as a child. (I think I saw Orphée at the same time, but can only remember the scene where they pass through the mirror.)

    (1) Last night people were showing the LA firework footage with the view of the city in Blade Runner which is set in 2020. I still don’t have my electric snake. (The lack of flying car goes without saying.)

    I’ve been getting a lot of ads for face masks when I look at instagram. One that’s been popping up is for a mask from Litographs with a design of a shelf full of science fiction books. They’re not the real book designs, but it was interesting. You can see it here. Only a matter of time until we’re as selective of our face masks as we are of our T-shirts.

  8. Just saw some sad news on Twitter. Nick Cordero, the Broadway musical performer who had a leg amputated in April from COVID-19 complications, has passed away from further complications. Hollywood Reporter article with the news.

    He had a genre connection: Cordero played the title character in the 2009 off-Broadway musical version of The Toxic Avenger.

  9. John Hertz responds by carrier pigeon:

    In fact we discussed both Who? and The Big Time in our Classics of SF set at Denvention 3 the 66th Worldcon.

    Being in a golden anniversary we called the set Wonders of 1958.

    We took up six books in five talks (gosh), all from that golden year.

    You can see my notes from the con Website here: http://www.fanac.org/Denvention3/programming/bookdiscussions.html.

  10. adding to (1), video shot by a drone:
    ht tps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIvdcdogC6k
    It’s almost 3 minutes of fireworks, thousands of them across many square miles.
    (URL broken to keep page loading faster)

  11. Gary Kilworth is also known for the time travel story “Let’s Go to Golgotha!”

    Meredith Moment – False Value (book 8 in the Rivers of London series) is 99p on Amazon UK

  12. (6) Coincidentally, I have a copy of The Big Time in a pile of material awaiting my attention in my bedside bookcase. That copy appears to be a first edition (G-627), so perhaps someone more knowledgeable could confirm if the ‘Ace double’ shown above (D-491) appeared simultaneously or later?

  13. (9) This is complete nonsense. What chain does he imagine has been severed? The last time you’ll watch Frozen? Because the studio that created Frozen isn’t capable of doing something equally compelling? Not to mention Pixar. Or the next round of Marvel movies. I, for one, am anxiously awaiting the Black Widow movie. This reminds me of the guys pronouncing the death of Apple in the late 90s.

  14. @Steve Green — No, the Double appeared first, in 1961. G-627 is from 1967. If nothing else, the price (35 cents vs. 50 cents) indicates that the Double is the earlier edition.

  15. @ rochrist – I totally agree. The vast majority of Disney’s recent output has been fresh ideas: Tangled, Big Hero 5, Zootopia, Frozen, Moana and now Frozen 2.

    15) That was fun. I worked with another guy on some custom physics simulation software to help a robot destroy a pyramid in Transformers II. The trailer featured a Parisienne tower being destroyed. We ran tests for that with our software, but didn’t have it ready in time for the trailer shot.

  16. Jack Lint says I’ve been getting a lot of ads for face masks when I look at instagram. One that’s been popping up is for a mask from Litographs with a design of a shelf full of science fiction books. They’re not the real book designs, but it was interesting. You can see it here. Only a matter of time until we’re as selective of our face masks as we are of our T-shirts

    In-hospital, everyone is wearing the standard blue mask. Indeed MaineMedical prohibits any other mask from being worn. I get a fresh one every morning marked with the date. I’m lucky that I’ve got a private room so I don’t have to wear mine all the time though I put it on when when any medical care staff are in room.

  17. @Steve Green: as usual, ISFDB has the data. I don’t know how often Ace broke out half of an early double as a later single, but my recollection (from MITSFS later — I wasn’t buying that far back) is that the early doubles were substantial enough to support this occasionally, while the later ones weren’t. Thinness wasn’t necessarily a bar — ISTR a lot of Lafferty and Reynolds novellas from the 1970’s (at least) that were published as individual books — but for some publishers it was a floor.

    John Hertz via @OGH — I’m sorry I missed that discussion; it looks like it would have been interesting, but that was the weekend of my father-in-law’s 75th birthday party (with some interesting logistics) so I didn’t get to the convention at all.

  18. Meredith Moment: The ebook version of Our Esteemed Wombat’s The Seventh Bride is available for $0.99 at Amazon and possibly other sources.

  19. (6) A couple of years ago, as part of an effort to read all the Hugo-winning novels, I read “The Big Time” and “The Wanderer,” and I didn’t like either one. They both had memorable elements, but they felt unfinished–as though he’d managed to get his first draft published, leaving both stories full of loose ends.

    As a very young man, I read and enjoyed “Our Lady of Darkness” and just about all the Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories. Maybe I’ve just gotten more critical as I got older–I don’t want to do the experiment of rereading those stories now!

  20. I like Leiber. I have a copy of the Night Shade “Selected Stories” that I read fairly recently, and I’ve also recently reread a couple of volumes of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories. I used to have a copy of a “Best From F&SF” collection that included “Four Ghosts in Hamlet”, reread the story a number times and considered it a favourite. My recollection is that I read “The Big Time” in an Ace paperback that looked like the original Ace Double edition, that I borrowed from the library. But I don’t remember it being an Ace Double. My memory must be confused. I have the Library of America “Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s” so I’ll reread it one of these days.

  21. (3) The thing I’ve noticed about tabletop kick-starting is that it’s pushing the price of games up and up. Even apart from things like Gloom/Frosthaven, that weigh half a tonne and could sustain there years of gameplay, there’s a tendency to push towards not a $40 game but a $90 game and weight expansions, which in practice no-one ever plays.

  22. Greg Hullender states A couple of years ago, as part of an effort to read all the Hugo-winning novels, I read “The Big Time” and “The Wanderer,” and I didn’t like either one. They both had memorable elements, but they felt unfinished–as though he’d managed to get his first draft published, leaving both stories full of loose ends.

    I’ve always treated The Big Time as one act theatre play. And for me, it works best as a listening experience. Audible did a production maybe fifteen years ago that was narrated by Suzanne Toren. That’s the one I suggest folks listen to.

  23. John Hertz replies by carrier pigeon:

    In fact we discussed The Wanderer in our Classics of SF set at Renovation the 69th Worldcon.

    Evidently the con’s Website is no longer accessible, but OGH reproduced the short book notes in my announcement here: http://file770.com/ah-the-classics/.

    You can read my 3,700-word con report here (report starts at p. 15): https://efanzines.com/File770/File770-162.pdf.

    If both this pigeon’s leg-cylinders arrive, or if OGH can get at his own records, my report of the discussion will be here:

    The Wanderer. From the audience: is it dated? timeless? It’s certainly full of ironies and questionable narrators. Another: how “hard s-f” it is. Another: from a man we hold a fantasy author. All the more striking in this book which is so romantic – and anti-romantic – and emotional – and critical (not mere fault- finding) of emotions – and whose emotions? Another: how advanced can Tigerishka be if she thinks an Earth cat is sapient? Nor did only she among the Wanderer’s catfolk; and the Wanderer proves to be a multitude of sapient species. Paul Cook in the audience said he listened to an audio version on his Stairmaster. Another: how often have we been shown a wandering planet? Another: compare Lucifer’s Hammer. Or the poetry to Bradbury’s. As with Lolita it is helpful that the scathing of men’s sex fantasy is written by a man. Another: could the police be the good guys?

  24. We’ve seen that Robert Picardo has a pretty good voice, and he shows it off in his video which I thought was entertaining.

  25. In fact we discussed The Wanderer in our Classics of SF set at Renovation the 69th Worldcon.
    Evidently the con’s Website is no longer accessible…

    I keep trying to get it resurrected. It will be back…someday.

  26. I for one, am anxiously awaiting the Black Widow movie.

    My sympathies. The lack of summer movies is one of the bigger drawbacks of the Covid19 shut down. Was hoping theaters would open next week, but given the spike in cases, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.

  27. @Greg —

    As a very young man, I read and enjoyed “Our Lady of Darkness” and just about all the Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories. Maybe I’ve just gotten more critical as I got older–I don’t want to do the experiment of rereading those stories now!

    IMHO the Fafhrd/Mouser stories hold up just fine. And in audio they are ably narrated by Jonathan Davis. 🙂

  28. I like The Big Time quite a bit, though I found The Wanderer underwhelming. When we did the 1965 Hugo discussion at The Journey Show, we were all baffled by The Wanderer and preferred the other finalists.

    That said, the best of Fritz Leiber’s many Hugo winners IMO is “Ill Met in Lankhmar”

  29. IMHO the Fafhrd/Mouser stories hold up just fine. And in audio they are ably narrated by Jonathan Davis.

    Seconding this, except for the audio bit, for which you’ll have to take Contrarius’ word.

    I reread the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories last year. I wanted to reread just the one that was up for a Retro Hugo and wound up rereading the entire collection. There are some things which are dated, oddly enough in the later ones, but otherwise they’re still as delightful as they ever were.

  30. Cora Buhlert says I reread the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories last year. I wanted to reread just the one that was up for a Retro Hugo and wound up rereading the entire collection. There are some things which are dated, oddly enough in the later ones, but otherwise they’re still as delightful as they ever were.

    I think that the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories overall are the best writing that he did. Years ago, Nightshade (I think) released all of them in very nice hardcover editions which we reviewed.

  31. I have only vague memories of The Big Time and The Wanderer, but I know I wasn’t super-impressed with either one. On the other hand, the Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser series was a huge favorite of mine–in fact, my decision to drop the final vowel from my fandom name/internet nick was in homage to Fafhrd. And I did re-read them fairly recently, and they did indeed hold up fairly well, all things considered. I mean, they are works of their time, and it shows, but they did not have anywhere near as many suck fairy droppings as I was afraid they might.

    (The last ones, written in the sixties, were a little cringe-y in their attempt to be a bit “groovy” and “swinging”, but that was true even back in the day.)

  32. Leiber’s Gather, Darkness and You’re All Alone are ones I enjoyed; I also liked his short piece “The Creature from the Cleveland Depths” which is one of those cases where a satirical take proved surprisingly prescient (people dominated by the little electronic devices that remind them when to do things – written in 1962.

  33. @Cat Eldredge: I’ve always treated The Big Time as one act theatre play. I’ve heard of performances but not seen any, so I don’t know how it has been done, but to me it’s definitely full-length in two acts: the narration stops right after a curtain-dropping surprise and then picks up two(?) hours later, and that (except for an undefined span before the epilog) is the only break in the action. I’d estimate reading it aloud to take 3-4 hours, so it would still run ~2 if all the narration were acted instead of described.

  34. The Night Shade Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser books were lovely, most especially the Mike Mignola artwork, but in the hardcover Farewell to Lankhmar (their retitling of Knight & Knave of Swords), one of the stories was actually missing its last several chapters, although they did correct it for the paperback reissue.

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