Snapshots 79 Vesuvius

Here are 11 developments of interest to fans:

(1) What makes Ray Bradbury unhappy? Nothing. He simply doesn’t permit it. Or so he told People magazine in a 1980 interview:

“It’s terrible to be a happy author,” he sighs. “Everyone expects you to go around grim and long-faced.” The secret of his serenity, he reveals in the introduction to his book, is avoiding confrontation. “I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas,” Bradbury declares, adding, appropriately, “When such occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”

(2) Mark Leeper led off issue #1695 of the MT VOID with this stunning announcement:

I am very sorry to say that after publishing the MT VOID since 1978, almost all of that time as a weekly notice, this will be our last issue. We have enjoyed writing the VOID over the years. Thank you for all the quality readership.

As I say, this will be our last issue and will remain so for a week. On April 6 our next issue will become our last issue and the April 13 issue will become next issue. And so forth. That’s the way it works.

Hey, did you notice that April has a Friday the 13th as well as an April Fools Day?

You bastards, I fell for this! Until the second paragraph, anyway.

I wasn’t deceived by Locus Online’s April 1 announcement that Margaret Atwood started a new SF magazine, or another site’s fake report that all the Clarke Award judges resigned. Yet, for some reason I was perfectly ready to believe another long-lived fanzine had bit the dust. Bleepity bleep!

(3) In contrast, I want to believe Lawrence Watt-Evans’ April 1 announcement of his revolutionary plan for publishing The Sorcerer’s Widow:

Okay, folks, I’m trying something new with the next Ethshar serial. Instead of posting chapters on the web where anyone can read them for free, I’ll be distributing the story on mugs, one page per mug, a new page every day….

To read the entire story, you’ll need to collect the complete set of 233 mugs — 250 if you include the illustrations I’m commissioning — and when it’s complete, the cover will be on a T-shirt.

(3) Silent Age Star Wars reformats the climactic ending of The Empire Strikes Back as a silent movie. Kind of cool, even if it is neither funny nor so terribly different than the original despite the scratchy black-and-white video, title cards in place of James Earl Jones’ dialog, replacement of the John Williams score with… Well okay, it is a lot different.

And I’m inspired to make an alternative Star Wars cast list. Pearl White as Princess Leia? Charlie Chaplin as C3PO? Erich von Stroheim as Darth Vader? (Yes, I mainly remember von Stroheim from Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard but a little research proved my instincts are right — in The Heart of Humanity his character, disturbed by a crying baby, throws it out of a window.)

(4) An even stronger argument for a silent version of Star Wars is Darth Vader In A Kilt On A Unicycle Playing Bagpipes [YouTube].

(5) Bud Webster’s work finding and sharing the information displayed on the SFWA Estates Page earned him a SFWA service award. He wants to see even more people using the resource:

There’s a page with the names of agencies that rep estates listed after the authors’ names, or that link directly to me (those estates handled by family members, heirs or private individuals), and another page which lists those estates we’re looking for.

Please feel free to spread this link to editors, publishers, or those who blog primarily to Da Biz.  We would very much like to see people use this as a resource, not that I mind in the least answering queries.

(6) Did you think it would take decades for Tricorders to start rolling off the assembly line? Wake up, Rip Van Fan, those decades have passed! A researcher has published his specs for a Linux-powered Star Trek tricorder on Ars Technica:

Unlike the Star Trek device that it is modeled after, Jansen’s tricorder can’t detect spatial anomalies or identify alien biology. If you are hoping to locate Klingon spies, you will still need to carry around a tribble. The device packs quite a bit of functionality, however, considering the limitations of 21st century technology.

(7) Amazon.com is not the first place I would have gone shopping for the Renovation Masquerade video DVD. And I guess it’s still not, since the item is flagged “currently unavailable.”

(8) Fans of a certain vintage got cranky when Soapbox Cincinnati called Millennicon “the Tri-State’s oldest science fiction convention”. (Of the many “tri-state” designations in the U.S., in this case they have in mind Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.) Those fans demanded, what about Midwestcon, now in its 62nd year?

Good point. Yet I’m sure if a Midwestcon committee ever set about seeking fame, fortune and huge attendance, five minutes later a band of defectors would start another unknown relaxacon to replace it. So be happy that Millennicon stepped up and took that bullet for ya.

(9) Visual Radio means a video of a guy interviewing somebody over a speakerphone. Lights! Camera! Inaction!

There can be redeeming qualities, though, if the interview is with Jonathan Eller on his book Becoming Ray Bradbury.

(10) I believe a couple readers of this blog work for a publisher in the Flatiron Building. Not the one making the news, fortunately:

Two shipments of marijuana destined for the New York City offices of a major book publisher were intercepted this month by federal agents after postal workers detected a “suspicious odor” emanating from the Express Mail parcels, according to court records.

The packages, containing a total of more than 11 pounds of pot, were bound for St. Martin’s Press, which is headquatered in the landmark Flatiron Building on lower Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

The pot parcels, mailed from San Diego, never made it out of California, however. A post office employee contacted postal inspectors after alerting to the distinctive scent of the two packages. According to mailing labels, the boxes were purportedly sent by “ABT Books,” a San Diego firm that listed a return address that investigators determined to be fictitious.

(11) And this just in…a year ago. I was stunned to belatedly discover that Seattle’s EMP had replaced the SF Museum with an Avatar exhibit in June 2011. Wow.

[Thanks for these links goes out to John King Tarpinian, Dan Goodman, Andrew Porter, David Klaus, Ulrika O’Brien and Eva Whitley.]

3 thoughts on “Snapshots 79 Vesuvius

  1. Well, when the SF Museum was originally opened because the Experience Music Project wasn’t making enough money, I remember thinking, “So science fiction is going to attract more people than rock’n’roll?” Still, it was nice while it lasted.

  2. The Renovation Masquerade DVD situation is… complicated.

    Because of music licensing issues, Renovation can’t sell the DVD to just anyone. It can be made available to members of the convention for archival purposes. Yeah, annoying legal maneuvering.

    DVD fulfillment is through CreateSpace, an easy DVD publishing service. This saves our tech crew from the responsibility of being salesdrones too. CreateSpace happens to be owned by Amazon. Which results in some weirdness. Drop me a note at attrembl@bovil.com and I can get you the real ordering URL.

  3. When the late Donn Brazier was Director of the old St. Louis Museum of Science and Natural History at its original location (before his retirement and the museum changing to the St. Louis Science Center at its current site, he had a small exhibit of early Gernsbach publications — radio magazines and some early issues of Amazing Stories, along with some debunking of the Shaver Mystery (although he included some “rock pictures” that Mr. Shaver had sent him). Later on the St. Louis Planetarium had a lower level exhibit about science fiction, dealing mostly with sf on tv and sf toys through the years, put together by Planetarium show producer and Doctor Who fan Laura Kyro.

    In these you had fans who happened to be in places where they could put examples of fannish materials because they were employed there.

    But a science fiction museum underneath the Space Needle failing? If it couldn’t succeed there, where could it succeed?

    (The planetarium portion of the Science Center is designed on the same hyperbolic curve design as the top of the Space Needle, by the way. From the air flying directly overhead it looks like a coat button.)

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