Pixel Scroll 11/5 The Scrolls of His Face, The Pixels of His Mouth

Leia SW poster

(1) Star Wars: The Force Awakens character posters are out.

(2) The WTF Bad Science Fiction Covers took a detour to Canadian sci-fi and comics.

Batman and Robin fail to prevent yet another Mountie murder due to their fondness for midnight, off-piste jaunts.

(3) Speaking of the Dynamic Duo, Batmobile designer George Barris passed away this morning at the age of 89.

In the ’60s TV show “Batman,” the Batmobile was powered by atomic batteries, equipped with a radar scope and “bat beam,” and slowed by parachutes. The latter really worked — Barris was once pulled over on the Hollywood Freeway for using them.

For many years, Barris’ handiwork was all over the television screen. He created the Munsters Koach — a combination of three Ford Model T’s — for “The Munsters”; the surfboard-topped, flower-decaled Barris Boogaloo for “The Bugaloos”; and the convertible version of KITT from “Knight Rider,” among many.

(4) Kalimac researches a Worldcon tradition.

The San Jose Worldcon bid wants to crowdsource suggestions for Guests of Honor. It says that among “the traditional criteria for Worldcon Guest of Honor consideration” is “an established career, usually considered to be 30 years from entry into the field.”

And I wondered, how long has it been 30 years? In the early days, the SF field hadn’t been around very long, and because it was small, new names could easily make a big impact. I remembered that Robert Heinlein was GoH at the third Worldcon in 1941, only two years after he sold his first story. That would be highly unlikely to happen today, even for another Heinlein.

So I made a list of all the professional fiction writers who’ve been Worldcon GoH over the years. Just the authors, because the SF Encyclopedia is conscientious about listing first published stories, but it’s not so rigorous with the entry dates of artists or other categories of pros. Making a quick chart, I found that less than 30 years was the rule up until about 1970, and, that among authors, only Hugo Gernsback (1952, 41 years since his first published SF story, but he was really honored as an editor, and it was only 26 years since he’d founded Amazing), Murray Leinster (1963, 44 years), and Edmond Hamilton (1964, 38 years) exceeded it, though a few others came close.

Since 1970, under-30s have been less common, though for many years they still occurred frequently (Zelazny, 1974, 12 years; Le Guin, 1975, 13 years; Ellison, 1978, 22 years; Haldeman, 1990, 21 years; and some others). But since 2001, there have only been two authors with less than 25 years: Bujold in 2008 (23 years), and 2017’s Nalo Hopkinson (who will be 21 years at that point).

(4) Amy Sterling Casil’s engaging and substantial new post for Medium has a satirical title, but here’s what it’s really about —

This article is about 3 fantastic women artists whose work was sold or misidentified as painted by a man. This is only connected to Tim Burton in the sense his film Big Eyes about Margaret Keane (Medium readers may know the film as featuring Bond villain Christoph Waltz) introduced me to the concept that rather than my personal problem, I might just be one of the more recent members of a long line of women whose creative work had been literally misappropriated by men. As in “sold for profit under male names” like Frank Keane did to “Big Eyes” artist Margaret Keane until she fought back in court and won.

(5) Like anyone, Joe Vasicek sometimes bounces off books, and not necessarily the ones you’d predict (Brandon Sanderson!).

He discussed several examples in a post on One Thousand and One Parsecs“Books I haven’t been able to finish”.

The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman

On this I have to plead guilty of letting my own personal sentiments get in the way of enjoying the story. I read The Golden Compass and LOVED it… right up to the last five pages. I HATED the ending of that book—SO dissatisfying, as if the author had stuck out his tongue at me and said “neener neener neener! I’m not going to give you the ending you want—better read the next book!”

UGH. I hate that.

So I came at this book a little prejudiced. I read the first page with a judgmental eye, thinking “nope, no hook on the first page. Oh, and there’s an unnecessary adverb, and there’s a said bookism, and there’s a…” etc.

Still, I didn’t let that stop me from reading on, and after the first chapter, I was interested in the story. I just wasn’t… I don’t know, interested enough. The book stayed in my car, I got busy with other things, and eventually just dropped it.

(6) More people don’t bounce off Philip Pullman, whose epic fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials is going to be produced as a drama series for BBC One.

To be made in Wales, the series, which will be told across “many episodes and series” has been commissioned by Charlotte Moore, controller BBC One and Polly Hill, controller BBC Drama Commissioning, and will be produced by Bad Wolf and New Line Cinema.

Hill said: “It is an honour to be bringing Philip Pullman’s extraordinary novels to BBC One. His Dark Materials is a stunning trilogy, and a drama event for young and old – a real family treat, that shows our commitment to original and ambitious storytelling.”

His Dark Materials consists of the Northern Lights, first published in 1995, which introduces Lyra, an orphan, who lives in a parallel universe in which science, theology and magic are entwined. Lyra’s search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children and turns into a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. In  second novel, The Subtle Knife, she is joined on her journey by Will, a boy who possesses a knife that can cut windows between worlds. As Lyra learns the truth about her parents and her prophesied destiny, the two young people are caught up in a war against celestial powers that ranges across many worlds and leads to a thrilling conclusion in the third novel, The Amber Spyglass.

(7) Mark Lawrence answers the question “Do author blogs matter? One million hits”

Very soon this blog of mine will pass 1,000,000 hits – it has 994,396 at the time of posting and averages around 1,400 hits a day.

I blog when I feel like it and generally don’t feel under pressure to come up with something to ‘fill the space’.

The high traffic author blogs tend to be political, championing the causes beloved of the more extreme left or right. I don’t go there. I’m more about curiosities of the genre, the business of writing, info graphics, and random shit.

I do get a lot of authors asking me whether blogging is ‘worth it’. Mostly they’re people who don’t want to blog, find it a chore to come up with regular posts, but worry that they’re somehow letting themselves down if they don’t – missing out on book sales that would otherwise be theirs.

So, is blogging ‘worth it’?

I tend to tell the authors who ask me this question that they can probably relax. If they enjoy blogging, go for it. It might help a little. But if they don’t enjoy it, just don’t. My feeling is that the difference between bestseller and getting pulped isn’t ever going to swing on whether you blogged.

(8) Kate Paulk ostentatiously pays no attention to Ancillary Felapton’s “An open letter to Kate Paulk” in “That Moment When” at Mad Genius Club.

Seriously, folks, when the best you can manage in so-called critique is to claim that something I wrote was poorly written (without evidence of my alleged poor writing – which means it’s probably a case of either “oooh, my feelz” or “I don’t get it, it must be horrible”) and then go on to repeat every single tactic I dissected with hardly any variations, you’re doing it wrong. You’re also kind of amusing, in a train-wreck kind of way.

I’m not going to bother dissecting this rather shallow bit of hurt feelings – I’d spend more time on it than it deserves and hand the so-called author more page views and it really isn’t worth that (yes, it. Since this particular author is using a handle that’s not obviously male or female, and is clearly so far in the non-binary-gender camp it’s through the other side or something, I can’t default to “he” or “she”. I’m writing in English, which leaves “it” as the sole option for the non-binary-gender sort.)

(9) Brad R. Torgersen wonders, could this be “The Year Without Politics?”

My Facebook friends have also noticed that I am dialed up extra-cranky about the cultural Chekist infestation that’s plaguing social media right now. I was prepared to launch into a lengthy tirade about the whole schizophrenic mess, but (irony of ironies) Bill Maher did it for me!

Now, nobody can accuse me of fondness for Maher; he’s far too much of a raging anti-theist. But I think he nailed it right between the eyes with his Halloween 2015 commentary. It really says something when a chap like Maher is going off on the Politically Correct. His point at the end is especially apt. It’s something I’ve been saying for awhile now: the cheap “virtue” of internet slacktivism, is no virtue at all. It’s just self-righteous no-effort self-huggies for people who don’t want to break a sweat, nor get their hands dirty. You want to make the world better? Get off the damned internet and go do something that takes work. Otherwise, you’re not helping anyone, or anything.

Which takes me to Sad Puppies — or, rather, the people who fought against Sad Puppies with every fiber of their being. Because when the Hugo awards went off-script, it was literally a catastrophe so terrible and great that the Puppy-kickers pulled out all the stops to challenge Lord Vox in the Ritual of Desecration.

(10) Kermit is in trouble with more than just Miss Piggy –  “’The Muppets’ Showrunner Exits ABC Series”.

Bob Kushell is exiting ABC’s “The Muppets” as showrunner, TheWrap has learned.

Kushell’s exit comes amid reports that the executive producer clashed with co-creator Bill Prady on the creative direction of the series. No official replacement showrunner has yet been named.

The news comes after the network gave the freshman comedy an additional three episode order last week, bringing the total number of episodes for the first season to 16. The show’s most recent outing scored a 1.4 rating among adults 18-49 and an average of 4.5 million viewers during its half-hour run.

(11) This Week In History

(12) In NASA news, “Researchers Catch Comet Lovejoy Giving Away Alcohol”.

Comet Lovejoy lived up to its name by releasing large amounts of alcohol as well as a type of sugar into space, according to new observations by an international team. The discovery marks the first time ethyl alcohol, the same type in alcoholic beverages, has been observed in a comet. The finding adds to the evidence that comets could have been a source of the complex organic molecules necessary for the emergence of life.

Poul Anderson would have enjoyed this discovery – and perhaps used it as an excuse for a sequel to his short story “A Bicycle Built For Brew”.

(13) Alastair Reynolds reviews ”Asimov’s April/May 2015 double issue” on Approaching Pavonis Mons by balloon.

Unfortunately – for me, anyway – the lead story in this issue, “The New Mother” by Eugene Fischer, was one of those pieces I couldn’t finish. I did try. It’s an extremely lengthy account of the emergence of a strange new sexually transmitted pandemic that gives rise to diploid eggs, allowing for “virgin” births. It’s competently told – there’s nothing clumsy about it on a line by line or even page by page level – but the net result is, to my eyes, dull, diagrammatic storytelling, propped up by lengthy infodumps in the form of article excerpts. If you’ve ever wondered how the American medical system would respond to the kind of pandemic outlined in the story, it’s probably accurate enough in its imagined details, but despite two goes I couldn’t get more than a few dozen pages into it. I wasn’t engaged by the journalist protagonist, her situation, her travels, the dull-but-credible dialogue. The stuff I want from short science fiction – colour, pace, weirdness, estrangement, invention, language, mood … it’s all absent here. Sorry.

(14) Lis Carey’s review of “The New Mother” was rather more enthusiastic, though she also identifies a serious flaw (not quoted here).

I was totally caught up in it. This is in many ways a very American story, with the issues surrounding HCP  very tied up with American culture wars issues. That’s not a weakness, but it is a reason this story may be less accessible to non-Americans.

(15) Today In History

  • November 5, 1605 – Guy Fawkes is caught guarding a cache of explosives beneath the House of Lords, foiling the Gunpowder Plot. The date is set aside by Parliament for thanksgiving. Guy Fawkes Day comes to be celebrated with bonfires and fireworks. (The photo comes from an old issue of Tops.)

Tops 2

(16) Tammy Oler’s review of Ancillary Mercy at Slate, “Oh, the humanity”. SPOILER WARNING.

Central to Leckie’s trilogy is how important it is to feel a sense of control over one’s identity and how being recognized is a precondition for having power. These themes are not exclusive to one particular time or place, of course, but Leckie taps acutely into the feelings (and fears) that drive current American politics and movements for change. One of the chief pleasures of the trilogy is just how many wrongs Breq tries to make right and how committed she is to making incremental progress even when problems become fraught and complicated. Breq’s actions are underscored by her profound grief, anger, and shame that give way, even if just a little bit, to the solace and hope she finds in her crew and her makeshift family of A.I.s. The end of Ancillary Mercy is satisfying because it is so very un-Radchaai: diverse, messy, and honest. “In the end,” Breq realizes, “it’s only ever been one step, and then the next.”

(17) Famous Monsters’ Caroline Stephenson reviews Tamashii Nations’ samurai-inspired Ashigaru Stormtrooper.

(18) Today’s Scroll closes with this 30 for 30-style documentary remembering the magical season chronicled by Angels in the Outfield….

No one will ever forget the incredible run the 1994 California Angels made on the back of Mel Clark. It was a team in disarray, managed by former cop Roger Murtagh, beloved by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and starring Rust Cohle in centerfield. Despite the early season disaster, somehow, the team turned things around and went on to win the pennant.

ESPN’s 30 for 30 didn’t remember this improbable run in baseball history, probably because it’s from a movie, but College Humor did. The result is a five-minute mockumentary of pure perfection.

 

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh, Will R., Hampus Eckerman, Susan de Guardiola, John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 10/19 Asterix and the Missing Scroll

(1) The stars came out for White House Astronomy Night.

(2) New interview with Liu Cixin conducted by Yang Yang for China Daily.

When, in a telephone interview, China Daily reminds him of that comment, he replies: “It’s not a joke. Aliens may arrive at any time. When it happens, everything, social and economic reform, educational problems, international conflicts or poverty, will become much less important, compared with the alien crisis.”

Big countries such as China and international organizations such as the United Nations need to be ready for such an eventuality, he says.

“It does not necessarily involve a lot of money and human resources. But we should prepare, in the fields of politics, military, society and so on. The government should organize some people to do related research and preparations for the long term.”

Unfortunately, he says, “no country seems to have done this kind of thing”.

In the postscript for the English version of The Three-Body Problem, translated by Ken Liu, Liu Cixin says: “I’ve always felt that extraterrestrial intelligence will be the greatest source of uncertainty for humanity’s future. Other great shifts, such as and ecological disasters, have a certain progression and built-in adjustment periods, but contact between mankind and aliens can occur at any time. Perhaps in 10,000 years the starry sky that mankind gazes upon will remain empty and silent, but perhaps tomorrow we’ll wake up and find an alien spaceship the size of the Moon parked in orbit. … The appearance of this Other, or mere knowledge of its existence, will impact our civilization in unpredictable ways.”

(3) Bob Byrne’s “The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Tying in the BBC Sherlock Special” at Black Gate has a lot of good information.

Back in July, what seems to be the most popular ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ post appeared here at Black Gate. I looked at what I think went wrong with season three of the BBC’s Sherlock. I included the just-released ninety-second, ‘first look’ video for the upcoming Special, to be aired around Christmas. And I pointed out it seemed to be full of the “Look how clever we are” bits that I lamented in my post.

Now, just about everyone, including myself, loves that the Special is set in Victorian times; unlike the episodes in the first three seasons. Cumberbatch and Freeman would be given their first (and quite likely, only) opportunities to play Holmes and Watson in the Doyle mold. I view it as a chance for the show to get back on track and reclaim the multitude of fans it lost during season three.

(4) Brad Torgersen, in a comment on Kevin Trainor’s blog, now says:

I had multiple conduits for suggestions, and the comments section was just one conduit.

But he doesn’t identify what those sources for the majority of slated Sad Puppy 3 fiction were.

(5) Francis W. Porreto does not approve – “Really Quickies: From The Garbage Heap” at Bastion of Liberty.

If you’d like a gander at “how the other side emotes,” take a look at this post at this hard-to-describe site, particularly the comments that follow commenter “alauda’s” citation of this bit of dark foreboding. These past two days a fair amount of traffic has come here from there.

Note the complete lack of rational analysis. Note the immediate and unconditional willingness to condemn me, as if the scenario I wrote about were something I actually want to happen.

(6) Alyssa Rosenberg, while commenting on “The downside of cultural fragmentation” in the Washington Post, touches on a familiar topic —

Debates over what kinds of books, movies, television shows, comics and video games get awards are often a proxy way of debating what our cultural values ought to be. The alternative slates that attempted to wrest control of Hugo nominations were based on the idea that awards voters had over-prioritized identity politics over the quality of writing and plotting; GamerGate erroneously asserts that there’s a movement afoot to ban or stop the production of video games with certain themes or images. While I don’t agree with the premises of either of those two cultural movements, I do think left cultural criticism has sometimes asserted political litmus tests for art in recent years, and that elements of the right, spurred by the sometime success of this approach, have fallen into the same patterns (for a good example, see the suggestions that the action movie “Mad Max: Fury Road” was anti-male).

(7) After Steve Davidson of Amazing Stories picked apart the Trek-related fanhistory in Kevin Trainor’s post on Wombat Rampant, Dystopic followed with his own critique of what Davidson had to say about Trainor on Declination.

As my readers probably know already, I consider myself somewhere on the Puppy spectrum of the Science Fiction community. There’s quite a bit of difference between the Sad Puppies, who one might call the reformists, and the Rabid Puppies who are mostly of the opinion that Worldcon and the Hugos should be burnt to the ground and set on fire by their own Left-wing, Social Justice proponents.

Either way, though, both camps agree that the existing community is hopelessly corrupt, cliquish, and prone to a particular animus against Conservatives and Libertarians. This prejudice is such that their works are repeatedly voted down from awards, publishers like Tor Books are run by individuals openly hostile to alternate political affiliations, and backroom deals are made to secure nominations for authors based on political backgrounds and special interests.

Steve Davidson of Amazing Stories confirms this for us in a ridiculous post, so loaded up with Strawmen that he might as well be the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. Let’s allow him to hang himself with his own rope, shall we?

(8) Workaholics actor Blake Anderson appears in the Halloween episode of The Simpsons:

“Well, you know, we kind of feel a little disrespected by Homer and we show up at his doorstep basically looking for revenge,” Anderson explains. “So it turns into a full onPanic Room situation, where he’s kind of stuck in the attic and looking for him. We’re out for blood for sure.”

In the vein of the Treehouse episodes, Anderson says this one is not necessarily “piss your pants” scary, but, he assures, “me and Nick Kroll definitely brought our creepy to the table for sure.”

 

(9) Is this a clue to the future of Game of Thrones?

(10) Today’s Birthday Boys

  • October 19, 1903 — Tor Johnson is born Karl Oscar Tore Johansson in Sweden. Especially known for his appearance in Plan 9 From Outer Space, although he had credits in all kinds of things, from the movie musical Carousel to Walter Cronkite’s You Are There nonfiction TV show.
  • October 19, 1945 — John Lithgow is born. Acted in Twilight Zone, Third Rock from the Sun, Buckaroo Banzai

(11) Today’s Birthday Book

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is 62 years old today. Phil Nichols explains:

Fahrenheit 451

FAHRENHEIT 451 was deposited for copyright at the Library of Congress on October 19, 1953. Both the first edition hardbound and mass market paperback carry this publication date, although the paperbacks actually reached the market a month earlier.

The McCarthy era’s climate of fear lingered beyond 1953, however; in spite of the book’s initial critical success, the first paperback printing took seven years to sell out.

(12) Diana Pavlac Glyer was very pleasantly surprised to find her forthcoming book Bandersnatch mentioned in a recent Publishers Weekly post, “Exploring C.S. Lewis’s Lasting Popularity – 52 Years After His Death”.

Coming in November, Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings (Kent State University Press) by Diana Pavlac Glyer and James A. Owen shows readers how encouragement and criticism made all the difference in books written by the Inklings. A companion coloring book by Owen is expected next spring.

(13) Learn how to make your pumpkin look like a galaxy nebula.

front-view-galaxy-pumpkin

(14) Io9 says “The Glorious Poster For Star Wars The Force Awakens Has A Giant Planet Killer On It”. Almost needless to say, you can also see the full, high resolution poster there.

(15) This collection of “13 Creepy Bits of Bookish Trivia” at BookRiot lives up to its headline. Here’s one of the tamer entries.

  1. J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, is rumored to have been quite the odd character. However, after his brother died in a skating accident, Barrie would routinely dress up in his dead brother’s clothing in order to ease his mother’s grief. The tragedy of his brother’s death would come to inspire the character of Peter Pan.

(16) Tonight was the Terry Gilliam talk at the Alex Theatre. Crusading photojournalist John King Tarpinian snapped a picture of the marquee.

Terry Gilliam on Alex marquee COMP ph by JKT

(17) Chuck Wendig in “About That Dumb Star Wars Boycott” begins…

Let’s imagine that you are, as you are now, a straight white dude. Except, your world features one significant twist — the SFF pop culture you consume is almost never about you. The faces of the characters do not look like yours. The creators of this media look nothing like you, either. Your experiences are not represented. Your voice? Not there. There exist in these universes no straight white dudes. Okay, maybe one or two. Some thrown in to appease. Sidekicks and bad guys and walk-on parts. Token chips flipped to the center of the table just to make you feel like you get to play, too. Oh, all around you in the real world, you are well-represented. Your family, your friends, the city you live in, the job you work — it’s straight white dude faces up and down the block. But on screen? In books? Inside comic panels and as video game characters? Almost none. Too few. Never the main characters.

It feels isolating, and you say so.

And as a response you’re told, “Hey, take what you get.” They say, can’t you have empathy for someone who doesn’t look like you? Something something humanist, something something equalist. And of course you can have that empathy because you have to, because this is all you know, because the only faces and words and experiences on-screen are someone else’s so, really, what else are you going to do?

Then one day, things start to change. A little, not a lot, but shit, it’s a start — you start to see yourself up there on the screen. Sometimes as a main character. Sometimes behind the words on the page, sometimes behind the camera. A video game avatar here, a protagonist there. And it’s like, WOO HOO, hot hurtling hell, someone is actually thinking about you once in a while. And the moment that happens, wham. A backlash. People online start saying, ugh, this is social justice, ugh, this is diversity forced down our throats, yuck, this is just bullshit pandering quota garbage SJW — and you’re like, whoa, what? Sweet crap, everyone else has been represented on screen since the advent of film. They’ve been on the page since some jerk invented the printing press. But the moment you show up — the moment you get more than a postage stamp-sized bit of acreage in this world that has always been yours but never really been yours, people start throwing a shit-fit. They act like you’re unbalancing everything. Like you just moved into the neighborhood and took a dump in everybody’s marigolds just because you exist visibly.

(18) Amy Sterling Casil recommends The Looking Planet.

During the construction of the universe, a young member of the Cosmos Corps of Engineers decides to break some fundamental laws in the name of self expression.

 

[Thanks to Will R., JJ, John King Tarpinian and Amy Sterling Casil for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Snapshots 151 Bacardi

Here are 26 developments of interest to fans.

(1) There’s been a lot of reaction to File 770’s latest motto, including a suggestion that I put it on a badge ribbon for distribution at the Worldcon.

But it’s too long to fit on one ribbon, and it might be a little presumptuous to ask people wear a set — “The 770 Blog, that Wretched Hive” “continued next ribbon” “of Scum and Villainy.” “continued next ribbon” “John C. Wright”…

(2) Meanwhile, Bronycon is pushing the envelope of convention socializing with a set of color-coded bages:

We’ve adapted the color-coded badges popularized by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and made them available for people who want to express their communication preferences quickly and non-verbally. By doing this, you can notify everyone whether you want to be approached for interactions or not.

Here’s what the badges look like and what they mean:

  • “Come Talk To Me!” A person wearing a green badge is actively seeking interaction. They may have trouble initating conversations, but it’s okay to come up and start a conversation with them.
  • “Do I Know You?” A yellow badge means its wearer only wants to talk to people they recognize. Unless you’ve met this person face-to-face before, don’t start a conversation with them. If they start talking to you, you’re welcome to talk back.
  • “Not Right Now.” If a person has a red badge showing, they do not want anyone to talk to them. They may approach others to talk, in which case it’s okay to respond. But unless you’ve been told you’re on someone’s “red list”, don’t start interacting with them.

(3) Lou Antonelli visited Heinlein’s birthplace and blogged about it in a post titled “Pilgrimage to Butler (or how Robert Heinlein’s ghost pranked me)”:

When I drove on Friday Kansas City to attend ConQuest, I noticed that Butler, Missouri – the birthplace of Robert Heinlein – was on the way. I decided that on the way back I would stop and visit the house where he was born in 1907. Monday morning I pulled off southbound Hwy. 71 and drove into Butler. The city has a few small signs noting the direction to the house, and I found it fairly easily. It is located at 805 North Fulton Street; a sign – which apparently once hung from a post – marking the spot (“Birthplace of Robert Heinlein, Dean of Science Fiction writers”) was propped up against the bottom of the porch. I took the obligatory selfie – which was hard to do because the sign was so low to the ground – and then hopped back into my car to continue the journey home. Crank. Grind. It wouldn’t turn over! I was completely shocked, because the car hadn’t given me a lick of trouble all weekend. It sounded fine, but wouldn’t kick in. I said, “Bob, if this is a prank, it’s not funny!”

(4) Adam Nimoy had planned to make a documentary called For The Love of Spock even before his dad, Leonard Nimoy, passed away. He has launched a Kickstarter appeal to help pay for it.

The funding of this film through Kickstarter will enable us to continue with production — which will mostly take the form of filming interviews of Dad’s friends, colleagues and family members. It will also enable us to license the hundreds of film clips and still photographs of Mr. Spock as he has appeared on television and in feature films over the last fifty years. Funding will then buy us time in the editing room, where I will be poring over the film clips and photographs and never-before-seen home movies as well as Star Trek artifacts — some of which have not seen the light of day for nearly fifty years!

As of this writing there has been $400,448 pledged of the $600,000 goal.

(5) Actor Lon Chaney Jr. is the only person to play all of the classic Hollywood movie monsters — the Wolf Man (“The Wolf Man”), Frankenstein’s monster (“The Ghost of Frankenstein”), Kharis, The Mummy (“The Mummy’s Tomb”) and Count Anthony Alucard, Dracula’s son (“Son of Dracula”).

(6) Alex Pappademas on Grantland makes some novel comparisons between pop and high culture in his review “’Mad Max’ As Hell: The Masterful, Maniacal, Surprisingly Feminist ‘Fury Road’”

J.G. Ballard — who knew a thing or two about speed, wastelands, the human death drive, and the mortification of flesh by flying auto parts — once described 1981’s The Road Warrior, the second of George Miller’s Mad Max movies, as “punk’s Sistine Chapel.” Ballard was not as big a fan of 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. But even Michelangelo wasn’t immune to the impulse to sequelize, returning to the Apostolic Palace after nearly 25 years (and the Sack of Rome) to paint The Last Judgment above the chapel’s altar. It features a buff, wrathful Jesus, tons of un-fig-leafed full-frontal nudity, chaotic composition that rejected all notions of universal hierarchy, two-fisted angels clobbering wretched sinners, demons dragging the condemned down into hellfire, a likeness of one of Michelangelo’s critics with a snake’s jaws clamped on his nuts, and a cameo by the artist himself as a face on some flayed skin. The lesson here: If you have to come back, it’s best to come back hard-core.

(7) Trek-themed garden gnomes from ThinkGeek will give the Little People a laugh

Did you realize there’s a whole subculture of Star Trek horticulturists? There are daylilies named after Trek, a handful of hostas, and even a Star Trek begonia.

The perfect statuary to go with your newly-acquired Star Trek plants? Why, that would be the Star Trek Garden Gnomes, of course! They come in four flavors. Here’s how the base reads on each:

  • Kirk – To boldly go where no man has gone before
  • Kirk & Gorn – I shall be merciful and quick – Gorn
  • Redshirt – Join Starfleet they said. It’d be fun they said
  • Spock – Live long and prosper

hujt_trek_garden_gnomes(8) The star of Hannibal is a huge draw at the Shanghai Comic Convention?

Unlike many of her counterparts at the first Shanghai Comic Convention, she had decided to forgo a costume. But the 23-year-old automotive quality-control clerk nevertheless was living out her personal fantasy, plunking down $115 — 20% of her monthly salary — for a fleeting meeting with her idol, Mads Mikkelsen of the NBC show “Hannibal.”

Bashfully clutching photographic proof of her star encounter (“I look terrible next to him,” she lamented), Yang struggled to compose herself. She seemed unsure of whether she had just made the best decision of her life — or the worst.

“All fans are idiots, in a way,” she said, laughing at her profligate ways. “We will do anything to meet him, to talk to him, even for a few seconds.”

(9) Very amusing artwork by Murray Groat showing what it would be like if the adventures of Hergé’s classic comic character Tintin took place in a universe created by H.P. Lovecraft.

(10) Who ya gonna call? The firehouse from Ghostbusters will close for renovation,

The  Ladder 8  company firehouse at  14 North Moore Street  in Tribeca is about to be closed for a three-year gut renovation, despite having a received a perfectly good renovation circa 1984 from Drs. Venkman, Stanz, and Spengler,  in the movie Ghostbusters . A  Fire Department spokesperson claims  that the renovation is being done so that the house will be better able to accommodate modern firetrucks, which are larger and heavier than they used to be.

But we know the real reason:  Walter Peck from the Environmental Protection Agency  tipped somebody off to the fact that there are dangerous and possibly hazardous waste chemicals, in the form of liquified ghosts, being stored in the basement.

(11) Anne Lamott, the writer’s writer, turned 61 and decided to share everything she’s learned with her Facebook followers:

  1. Chocolate with 70% cacao is not actually a food. It’s best use is as bait in snake traps.
  2. Writing: shitty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart–your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it’s why you were born

(12) Amy Sterling Casil’s business is perfecting a system for producing fixed format and flowable ePubs and perfect print books. Here’s her argument why it matters:

I just happened to buy the Stephen Jay Gould book not long after finishing the Bone Music ePub, and we spent plenty of time on that. I knew exactly what was wrong with the Gould book (W.W. Norton) and could tell the exact errors they made in producing it. Errors they would have seen immediately if they’d spent 1 second testing it on an actual device! And there are editing errors like typos etc. For $9.99. A disgrace.

(13) Doug Faunt, who was among those rescued when the HMS Bounty went down in a storm in 2012, is back at sea aboard a new tall ship.

(14) Larry Correia has a good cover story:

People ask me how much say an author has over their cover. At first? Zip. And by the time you are successful enough that your opinion actually does count, that means you’ve sold enough books that you trust the people who sell them for you.

(15) In Kenneth Turan’s coverage of the Cannes Film Festival includes interesting observations about the host city.

It’s not just the films that change here from year to year here, it’s the city as well.

The oldest gay bar in the south of France is now a gelato emporium. The once-spacious post office is now a luxury hotel. And the Cannes English Bookshop, a landmark for three decades, is going to be sold and possibly go out of business.

(16) Nick Mamatas on Storify shares some wisdom about short stories:

I’ve been reading a few short stories from students lately, and this is what I have noticed about them.

(17) Murray Leinster’s “Runaway Skyscraper” is coming back as a fancy hotel. Andrew Porter observes, “Rooms starting at $500 a night, so maybe not a good venue for an SF convention.”

(The Wikipedia can fill you in about the original 1919 Murray Leinster story.)

(18) Daniel Dern sends along a brief rumination on Neal Stephenson’s new book Seveneves. (The title of which, a friend pointed out, is a palindrome.)

I
have been reading Seveneves,
The new big book from Neal Stephes[1]:
The moon
breaks in seven peaze,
Each piece has seven paths,
Each path has seven maths.
Some maths are delta-Vs, and
The plot has many keys[2].
Characters,
sub-plots and lots of peaze,
Many pages is Seveneves.
[1] Stephenson, that is, of course
[2] Including hams doing Morse code, and some, cough, paper pads

(19) John J. Miller would like to tag some newly discovered planetoids with Lovecraftian names:

I’m starting to think of the places we haven’t reconnoitered. Last year, when astronomers announced the existence of 2012 VP113 — a tiny planetoid well beyond the orbit of Pluto — I took to the website of National Review and made a suggestion: “Its name should be Yuggoth, in tribute to the writer H. P. Lovecraft.” I e-mailed the idea to Leslie S. Klinger, editor of The New Annotated Lovecraft. He replied that this wasn’t quite right, because Lovecraft clearly defined Yuggoth as Pluto, rather than as another thing. Then he mentioned an overlooked line from a fevered passage in “The Haunter of the Dark,” the last story Lovecraft ever wrote: “I remember Yuggoth, and more distant Shaggai, and the ultimate void of the black planets.” It recalled something that the astronomer Gerard P. Kuiper (of Kuiper-belt fame) once said to Clyde Tombaugh: “The finding of Pluto was an important discovery, but what you did not find out there is even more important.” Pluto may come into the clutches of our scientists and engineers, but the rest of us can always dream of Shaggai — a permanently undiscovered country.

(20) Alastair Reynolds may yet get the hang of writing filksongs.

(21) A Canadian library has documentary evidence that Han Solo shot first.

According to CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), while trying to digitize the University of New Brunswick Library’s science fiction collection, librarian Kristian Brown stumbled upon an early draft of the “Star Wars” script.

The script, which is marked as a “fourth draft,” is dated March 15, 1976, well ahead of the film’s eventual 1977 release.

The most striking revelation centers around one of the most famous scenes in the film.

While at the Cantina Bar, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is confronted by Jabba the Hutt’s henchman Greedo, who demands Han finally pay Jabba the money he owes him. The two of them come to blows, and Han Solo emerges as victorious. While that isn’t disputed, the real debate lies in whether Han or Gredo shot first.

 

(22) CBS Sunday Morning did a nice profile of the person who sat-in for Ray at the last Ray Bradbury Creativity Award — Bo Derek.  Bo gave the award to Kirk Douglas.  Bo and Ray were lifelong friends, who met in France.

By the way, Bo Derek will be in Sharknado 3. (So added to the Ray Bradbury reference this paragraph counts as a score for two File 770 narratives… )

(23) The LA Weekly enthusiastically reviewed Universal Studios’ new Simpsons-themed Springfield Area

Built to surround and enhance the Simpsons Ride, which opened in 2008, the fully-immersive environment includes over a hogshead’s worth of living references. Some of them as huge and obvious as the Duff Brewery, Moe’s Tavern and Krusty Burger. Others are smaller and subtler, the kind of nerdy nuggets that give us geeks an extra special spring in our steps (Smilin’ Joe Fission!? Stools around Moe’s pool table in a nod to Uncle Moe’s Family Feedbag!? Yes.)

….Things just went full bizarro from there. We walked into a perfectly recreated Moe’s Tavern behind producer/animator/director David Silverman and the theme-park bartender asked him if he wanted a Duff…and he had one.  All we could think was, “It’s the local lug who fills your mug with the drug you chug! And the guy who conceived it….drinking it….in it…b-b-but what about the dank? If Uncle Moe threatens ya, do you get a free steak?” Words can’t describe the feeling of self-referential meltdown that happened in that moment — so we won’t even try.

Universal’s food folks took their best shot at the artery-clogging victuals of Springfield (“The World’s Fattest Town”) with Krusty Burgers, Ribwiches, donuts and even Cletus’ Chicken Shack. Cletus’ employees didn’t know if they had anything that could flash-fry a buffalo in forty seconds, and that’s ok. All the food was awesomely outrageous (and full of secret hobo spices). Just don’t get on that gut-buggering jumble of a ride right afterward, you’ll probably regret it.

Besides the food, the gallons of Duff and the non-alcoholic (and presumably cough syrup-free) Flaming Moe’s, they packed the place with all sorts of crazy crap, a further immersive Krustyland, a Kwik-e-Mart and, yes, even a Disco Stu’s Disco (facade only, sadly). For the folks who might not get everything, or for those folks who need the reassurance, screens throughout the are played carefully curated snippets of Simpsons episodes. Satire piled upon satire, surrounded by hints and attribution…wrapped in riddles…wrapped in unexplained bacon.

On our way out, we were invited to take one of the larger-than-life-but-actually-real giant iconic pink donuts. To keep us in the spirit, and as if on cue, some slack-jawed yokel asked if these donuts, branded as Lard Lad, came in a “gluten free form.” No. No they do not. Where’s a good satirist when you need one?

(24) On the opposite coast, Anthony Bourdain plans to open a giant Blade Runner-themed food market in NYC.

Hidden throughout New York City are bustling food halls like Gansevoort Market or Smorgasburg. But for those who ever said, “I had in mind something a little more radical,” Anthony Bourdain has the solution. The celebrity chef will soon open a 100,000-square-foot International Food Market at the newly renovated SuperPier on Pier 57. Oh, and did I mention it’s inspired by Blade Runner?

Yes, the chaos and clamor of the market place from Ridley Scott’s dystopian masterpiece will be coming to Manhattan’s West Side. “It is meant to be crowded and chaotic because that’s what hawker centres should be,” said Bourdain’s partner Stephen Wether at the 2015 World Street Food Congress in Singapore. “It should activate all of your senses.”

Plans for the space, which eats up pretty much all of the SuperPier’s retail allotment, include a farmers market, hawker-style street food stalls, a 1,500-square-foot oyster bar, a bakery, butchers, a tapas bar, a tea shop, a pastry shop, and potentially even an outdoor Asian-themed beer garden. As Bourdain put it, foodies will be able to enjoy “expertly sliced Iberico ham and some Cava or Kuching-style laksa [soup], Chinese lamb noodles, Vietnamese pho or a decent barbecue brisket all in one place.”

(25) Whatever happened to “No shirt, no pants, no service”?

I guess the rules are different for Spartans:

Fortunately, during this unusual detachment no one fought and all survived. In the subway, “Spartans” advertised access to DVD movie “300: Dawn of empire.”

(26) Harlan Ellison was interviewed by The Jewish Advocate on the occasion of his 81st birthday.

Like any good Jewish son, Ellison had a Jewish mother. Serita Ellison survived her husband by 27 years, all of which were spent trying to figure out her increasingly famous author-screenwriterlecturer son.

“If something happened that was adventurous,” he says, “I would tell my mother. My mother would be very pleased, but I’m not quite sure she realized what it meant. She was more concerned with ‘Was I healthy? Was I working? Was I happily married? Was I unhappily married?’ She would come and visit me and tidy up the house. She was a regular Jewish mama.”

An autodidact, Ellison took pleasure in lecturing at hundreds of colleges that he never attended. The only person happier at his countless college appearances was Serita. “The moment I made my mother proud of me was when she came up from Florida in the middle of winter and was sitting in when I spoke at Yale. People would come up and present one of my books to her and would say, ‘Would you sign my book?’ My mother was in heaven. Afterward, we walked in the snow to a luncheon with a group of eminent scientists and she said, ‘I’m very proud of you.’ I swelled twelve times my size. I had made my mother proud.”

[Credit for these links goes out to Andrew Porter, Amy Sterling Casil, David K.M. Klaus,Martin Morse Wooster,  and John King Tarpinian.]

Alan Rodgers’ Books Will Be Re-Released

Alan Rodgers in 1990.Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter.

Alan Rodgers in 1990.Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter.

Plans are in the works to re-release the horror novels of Alan Rodgers, who died March 8. Amy Sterling Casil, founder of Chameleon Media, of which Alan Rodgers Books is now a part, says the new publishing company will bring them out as ebooks and in print editions. She adds:

We will also be doing his two short fiction collections [New Life for the Dead and Ghosts Who Cannot Sleep], and at least three books he wrote prior to his death, including two young adult horror books and Smoke, a previously unpublished adult supernatural horror book that is similar to, and we think even stronger than Bone Music, his highly-acclaimed novel. We also discovered a sequel story to “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead,” his Bram Stoker Award story and are working on publishing that as well.

bonemusicChameleon Media’s associates include Laurie DeGange, Alan’s sister, and Scott Rodgers, Alan’s younger brother.

In addition to the works already mentioned, Rodgers was known for Blood of the Children, a 1990 Bram Stoker nominee for Best First Novel, Pandora, Fire, Night, The Bear Who Found Christmas, Her Misbegotten Son, Alien Love, The River of Our Destiny, Angel of Our Mercy, and Light.