Snapshots 33 and a third long play

Here are 10 developments of interest to fans:

(1) What is the scariest horror movie of all time? Surprise! It’s based on a story by Golden Age sf editor John W. Campbell.

(2) After seeing this Montreal Gazette report Andrew Porter says Saturn has a real “lord of the rings”:

Stunned astronomers have discovered that a small, distant moon of Saturn has the largest ring in the Solar System.

Phoebe, a Saturnian satellite measuring only 214 kilometres (133 miles) across, has a circle of dusty debris with a diameter of some 13 million kms (8.12 million miles), they report on Thursday in Nature, the weekly British science journal.

And CNN adds these intriguing details:

The new ring orbits in the opposite direction to Iapetus. And, say researchers, it’s possible that the moon’s dark coloring is a result of the ring’s dust particles splattering against Iapetus like bugs on a windshield.

“Bugs on a windshield.” I love it.

(3) Here’s a question bound to hook a lot of readers: What scares Stephen King? A Canadian paper says the answer is: U.S. television studios:

Mr. King has partnered with Canadian television producer E1 Entertainment Inc. to make his latest creation, a television series titled Haven, based on his best-selling novella The Colorado Kid.

It is a deal that shatters the conventions of big-budget television productions. Rather than take his concept directly to a Hollywood studio, the author has specifically gone outside of the U.S. in order to retain more creative control over how the series is made.

(4) It doesn’t take long for sensational promise to be transformed to crushing disillusionment in the age of the internet. For a breathtaking New York minute Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol was selling more Kindle copies than hardcovers, smashing to flinders the holy “5% rule” — the usual percentage of ebook sales in relation to overall sales.  The Los Angeles Times tells what happened:

When Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol” was released on Sept. 15, Amazon’s rankings revealed that Kindle sales outstripped sales of the hardcover. This led some ebook enthusiasts to herald the dawning of a new era. FastCompany asked, “Could Dan Brown’s new book be heralding the e-book age?” CNet wrote: “The possibility that the Kindle version of ‘The Lost Symbol’ — which follows Brown’s wildly popular ‘Da Vinci Code’ and ‘Angels & Demons’ — is outselling hard copies on Amazon could be a monumental moment in the e-book industry.”

But it was only a moment, one that lasted less than 48 hours. By the time the week was out, with more than 2 million copies sold in the U.S., Britain and Canada — breaking the publisher’s previous one-week record set by Bill Clinton with “My Life” — hardcover sales had easily eclipsed sales of the ebook. Of the 2 million copies sold, only 100,000, or 5%, were electronic versions.

(5) The wildy-hyped release of Brown’s new novel is the kind of thing that naturally attracts scoffers. Strangely enough, Amazon itself hosts the must-read satirical review of The Lost Symbol:

Remember, it’s got to be at least 450 pages – if it doesn’t snap the strap of a Timbuk2 messenger bag, it’s not literature!

Although the review gives away the ending (as well as the beginning and the middle) it’s unlikely anything is spoiled thereby.

(6) And by no means deprive yourself of the pleasure of seeing the “20 Worst Dan Brown Sentences” given the treatment previously reserved for “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses.”

(7) Here’s quite an interesting article from the Boston Globe exploring the reasons why Hollywood screws up children’s classics, titled “Where the Wonder Goes”

Respecting the source, traditionally, is not what Hollywood does to children’s books. The great art of these works (and “Wild Things” is generally acknowledged as among the greatest) is their simplicity: The ways in which they address profound aspects of childhood while seeming to look the other way. It’s that simplicity, a staging ground for a child’s boundless imagination, that is often the first thing to go. Movies, especially ones with massive budgets, usually want to do the imagining for you.

(8) Evelyn C. Leeper hosts her full Denvention 3 (Worldcon 2008) convention report at the new Leeper.us domain. Bandwidth problems are a thing of the past in the Leeper household.

(9) The recent visit from Tor’s goodwill ambassador reminds me that October is Steampunk Month at Tor publications. Especially charming is Irene Gallo’s article “How Stubby, the Tor.com rocket, became the H.M.S. Stubbington,” which traces the logo’s evolution through a series of sketches  by Greg Manchess.

(10) Think there’s much chance George W. Bush will be invited to cut the ribbon when the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” theme park based Rowling’s novels opens in 2010 at Universal Orlando Resort? Here’s what he’ll be missing:

Rides will include the high-tech Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the Dragon Challenge twin roller coaster and the family roller coaster Flight of the Hippogriff, according to Universal. And what’s a theme park without stores to unload your money? Don’t worry, there will be plenty of Potter-themed merchandise, including chocolate frogs and “Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans,” magic wands and Butterbeer.

 [Thanks for these links goes out to Andrew Porter, Janice Gelb, Evelyn Leeper, James Hay, and John Mansfield.]

2 thoughts on “Snapshots 33 and a third long play

  1. The moon Phoebe is itself retrograde, as I recall, so it comes as no surprise that the ring associated with it also orbits in the other direction from Saturn’s other larger moons. Not to contradict the estimabe British science journal, it isn’t the moon itself that has the ring. The moon orbits with the ring around Saturn, and is highly likely to be the source of the ring’s particles. I don’t doubt that the ambiguity arises only because the snippet from Nature was quoted out of context, and that the story in Nature was in no way confused.

    The idea that Iapetus’s dark colouring may be due to accretions from a ring or other moon isn’t new. It was proposed fairly early, when the first photos of the two-toned moon were sent back to us. My theory is that Iapetus was created in the 1950s, and that we should check for tail fins as well.

  2. “Respecting the source, traditionally, is not what Hollywood does to children’s books.”

    Why needlessly include the word “children’s”?

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