Snapshots 74

Here are 11 developments of interest to fans.

(1) Wired magazine selected UC Riverside’s Eaton Collection as a Hotspot on its list of  “Geeky Destinations and Smart Side Trips.”

The world’s largest nonprivate athenaeum of science fiction, fantasy, and horror includes an original copy of Thomas Moore’s Utopia, more than 500 editions of Philip K. Dick’s writings, Ray Bradbury’s personal letters, and 125,000 superhero comics. Pow!

Wired ranks Eaton number two on the list ahead of many other rival destinations with fannish appeal — New Zealand’s Lord of the Rings shooting locations, the Arecibo Observatory and the Baikonur Cosmodrome, to name just a few. The Paris Sewer Museum comes in at #6 but I skipped over that because it isn’t the image of fandom we’re trying to cultivate here…

(2) The Cat’s Out of the Bag – Greg Ketter let it out personally. He’s closing DreamHaven, one of Minneapolis’ famous SF bookstores, at the end of January 2012. He’ll still be in business, selling by mail order and at conventions. What’s more the store isn’t actually going away. Ketter says, “I’m not planning to move so it’s conceivable that I’ll open the doors once in a while and have a sale or even host some sort of event. But I won’t maintain any regular hours.”

He made the decision because DreamHaven’s walk-in trade “just disappeared” in the first quarter of the year and has improved only slightly since then:

I blame A) The Economy B) Changing Dynamics of Retail (online shopping) C) E-Books. Each one of these could make quite a difference on their own but all together they spell disaster for many retailers. I’ve been hedging my bets for some time and I’ve been buying good used and rare books and collectibles and I’m doing well with them. Ironically, the store is better stocked than ever and I’m more pleased with the overall store “experience” than I’ve ever been….

Sadly, some of those who do come in to enjoy it, abuse it terribly. Theft is up so far it’s almost off the charts. Again, I blame the economy for the rise, but it doesn’t really explain the fact that people seem to not care who gets hurt as long as they get the things they want. I lose in the neighborhood of 5 – 20 THOUSAND dollars a year to theft and have for the last three decades.

(3) That being said, don’t ask me how Salathiel Palland’s Off the Beaten Path Bookstore and Café, a steampunk-themed bookstore in Farmington, MI is able to “project a profit of $60,000 for this year.”

(4) Do you think that in Tarsem Singh’s remake of Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs look like they came straight out of Time Bandits?

(5) Bruce Sterling has geocoded J. G. Ballard for Wired, which means mapping terrestrial references in the author’s stories. It’s good to have a hobby.

(6) In contrast to our elected officials, the cartoonist’s answers to “What Can Your Government Do About the Economy?” are intentionally humorous.

(7) Comics creators in need of financial and medical assistance will find a friend in The SideKick Foundation. Clifford Meth, a former Executive V.P. of IDW Publishing and recent spokesman for Kars4Kids, established Sidekick. Its Board of Advisors includes Neal Adams, Harlan Ellison, Joe Sinnott, Tom Palmer, Herb Trimpe, and Morris Berger (former president of IDT Entertainment and chairman of IDW Publishing).

(8) Andrew Stanton, lead writer of Pixar’s Toy Story trilogy, is branching out with John Carter, a live action film for Walt Disney Studios based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars novels. New Yorker Magazine’s interviewed him in “Second Act Twist.” (To access the article you must subscribe or at least register for a “free trial subscription.”)

For animators, turning to live action is like driving stick in Britain: familiar yet alarmingly strange. At Pixar, production begins only after the company has critiqued a story in reels six or seven times. In live action, you get only a few takes of a given scene and then you must assemble the film from a relatively modest larder of footage.

(9) Rose Fox at Genrville reports Suzette Haden Elgin’s health seems to have ended her writing for the internet, if not her career altogether:

Elgin is now 75 years old, and I think she has been having health trouble and other difficulties for some time. In early 2009 she combined her three newsletters into one; last December she stopped sending out newsletters altogether. Six months ago she said that she was rewriting her latest novel, start to finish, in longhand, as she recently had to give up her ancient computer and couldn’t get the hang of working in Word. Perhaps it was predictable and inevitable that even brief blog updates would become too difficult for her—but that doesn’t make it any less awful.

Andrew Porter is shocked: “I suddenly feel ancient. I pulled her first short story, ‘For the Sake of Grace’, out of the slushpile when I was assistant editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Ed Ferman published it in 1969. It was subsequently widely reprinted and anthologized. She was one of the few authors I discovered who went on to a wide-ranging and productive career.”

(10) Bram Stoker’s private notebook, discovered by author’s great-grandson, has ‘clear parallels’ with Jonathan Harker’s journal in vampire novel writes Alison Flood in The Guardian:

The notebook was found by the author’s great-grandson, Noel Dobbs. Dobbs sent photographs of pages from the book to his relative, Stoker’s great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker, author of the recent novel Dracula: The Un-Dead, and Stoker has worked to decipher his ancestor’s “terrible” handwriting with Dr Elizabeth Miller of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula. The Lost Journal, complete with annotations, is now lined up for publication by Robson Press next year, marking the centenary of Bram Stoker’s death in 1912…. The notebook opens with an entry entitled Night Fishing – the earliest known example of Stoker’s writing – which Dacre Stoker and Miller said “shows an aspiring writer composing an excessively descriptive passage in flowery prose”.

(11) The prolific Alison Flood has also published an interview with Terry Pratchett in The Guardian:

Narrativia has been beside him all the way. “If you’ve been a good boy and worked at what you’re doing, then the goddess Narrativia will smile on you,” he says, recounting his delight at a particular piece of her work, when he was writing Thief of Time more than a decade ago. He decided to call one of his characters Ronnie Soak. Soak is the fifth horseman of the apocalypse – the one who left before they got famous. His name was picked at random, so Pratchett was astonished when he noticed what it sounded like backwards. Suddenly, he knew of what this particular horseman would be a harbinger. “I thought chaos – yes! Chaos, the oldest,” he says. “Stuff just turns up like that.”

[Thanks for these links goes out to David Klaus, Sam Long, Michael J. Walsh, Charles Tan/SF Signal, Paula Lieberman, Ansible Links (Dave will never miss just one) and Andrew Porter.]

One thought on “Snapshots 74

  1. 2) Perhaps the fate of two bookstores in my neighborhood sheds a little light on the closure of “DreamHaven…” or perhaps not. You decide.

    One is called “A Good Read” and is the collector’s dream. Dark, walls lined with cloth bookspines all the way back into the distant, unseen rear of the store. First editions, signed originals, rare avians and bibliophilia burden very inch of groaning shelves. High prices? You bet. Not for every hardcover Clyde Cussler and Tom Clancy is marked as a collectible, of course, but even those are priced at a respectable $8 to $12. A tired and very depressed-looking proprietor sits reading behind an immense baracade of books piled on the floor and on his desk. The effect is not dissimilar to “Flourish & Blotts” in the Harry Potter books. “A Good Read” seems perpetually on the verge of bankruptcy. In fact… I haven’t been there in a while, so perhaps it’s even gone.

    On the other hand, there’s “The River,” opened a little more than a year ago, which I go to regularly. It’s bright, open, has a cat and dog, and there’s either David, an ex-biker, or his sister on hand and ready to talk with anyone about anything. There are few collectibles. I have seen perhaps five books in those 12 months that might have been worth buying in order to re-sell at a small profit. “The River” mainly stocks books people want to read — from Stieg Larsson to Patrick O’Brien to Neil Stephenson to Anne Rice. And the store sells them at prices ranging from $2 to $4. “The River” is doing splendidly by comparision to “A Good Read.”

    I’m inclined t think there’s a lesson in this, and that its that the traditional collector oriented bookstore may not be as viable a business model.

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