Anniversary: Rocky Horror Picture Show

By Cat Eldridge: Forty-six years ago on this date, the Rocky Horror Picture Show film premiered. But before we get to the film, we need to go back to the London show as the film is based off the music, book, and lyrics that Richard O’Brien did for that production, which was a parody tribute to the SF and horror B-movies of the Thirties through to the early Sixties. The stage show was produced and directed by Jim Sharman. The original London production of the musical premiered at the Royal Court Theatre (Upstairs) on June 19, 1973. It would move around to several locations during its run before closing on September 13, 1980 after a total of 2,960 performances. It would go to tour the world pretty much everywhere. 

Now the film premiered just two years into the run of the London show. It was directed by Jim Sharman, and the screenplay by himself and O’Brien. (No surprise there.) it was produced by Lou Adler, co-owner of the Roxy Theatre which is where the live show had its first U.S. engagement, and Michael White who just produced Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in London’s West End.

The cast is phenomenal: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick and Meatloaf, along with cast members from the original Royal Court Theatre, Roxy Theatre, and Belasco Theatre productions, including Nell Campbell and Patricia Quinn. It is narrated by Charles Gray who was Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Diamonds are Forever.

Some critics liked it, some thought it “tasteless, plotless and pointless.” I think Time Out London summed it up best: “A string of hummable songs gives it momentum, Gray’s admirably straight-faced narrator holds it together, and a run on black lingerie takes care of almost everything else.” The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rocking eighty-five percent rating. And it has earned one hundred seventy million dollars to date on a total budget of one point four million dollars. 

An entire post could be written on audience participation which includes dancing the Time Warp along with the film, and throwing such things as toast, toilet paper, hot dogs, and rice at the appropriate points in the movie. And, of course, responding to dialogue in the film. Dressing up is expected for these fans and many locals approach that of professional theatre companies In their acting skills. 

A sequel by O’Brien was planned but obviously never happened. The title? Rocky Horror Shows His Heels

The Iron Giant Premiere: 1999

By Cat Eldridge: Twenty two years ago this weekend, on August 6, The Iron Giant premiered. Directed by Brad Bird who would later be responsible for the Incredibles franchise and two Mission: Impossible films as well, it was produced by Allison Abbate and Des McAnuff.  Bird wrote the story off The Iron Man: A Children’s Story in Five Nights, a SF novel by Ted Hughes. It had a most amazing voice cast of Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., Vin Diesel, James Gammon, Cloris Leachman, John Mahoney, Eli Marienthal, Christopher McDonald and M. Emmet Walsh.

Yes, critical reception for it was wonderful. Roger Ebert compared it to the work of acclaimed Japanese artiste Hayao Miyazaki, and nary a negative comment was to found outside of the Washington Post whose reviewer — rather oddly — thought that it had “the annoyance of incredible smugness.” Huh?  Alas, the box office didn’t follow the lead of the majority of critics — it grossed a little over thirty million against its fifty million dollar budget not counting advertising.  

Lorenzo di Bonaventura, president of Warner Bros. at the time, explained, “People always say to me, ‘Why don’t you make smarter family movies?’ The lesson is, Every time you do, you get slaughtered.” But let it be noted audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes do like smart films as it has a rather stellar ninety percent rating. So there. 

If you venture into the toy market, there are some rather cool Iron Giants to be had at prices ranging from almost reasonable to, well, not so reasonable. Here’s one of them here. 

Anniversary: A Game of Thrones (Novel)

By Cat Eldridge: ?Twenty five years ago this week, George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones was published. It’s the first novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. It was published simultaneously by Bantam Spectra (US) and Voyager Books (UK). 

The novel won the Locus Award and was nominated for both the Nebula and the World Fantasy Awards, but was only on the long list for the Hugos. It was a preliminary nominee for the BFA August Derleth Fantasy Award. A Game of Thrones has received critical acclaim with several reviewers comparing it to A Wheel of Time for its epic sweep. 

The “Blood of the Dragon” novella taken from the Daenerys Targaryen chapters from A Game of Thrones would win a Hugo Award for Best Novella at LoneStarCon 2. 

Martin, of course, would go onto to write A Clash of Kings in 1998 and A Storm of Swords in 2000. Then, in November 2005, A Feast for Crows, and in 2011, A Dance with Dragons. A Storm of Swords would finish second to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at Millennium Philcon. A Feast for Crows was a Hugo finalist at L.A.con IV, the year Robert Wilson’s Spin won. A Dance with Dragons was nominated at Chicon 7, which was the year that Jo Walton’s Among Others won. Finally Fire and Blood: 300 Years Before A Game of Thrones (A Targaryen History) was on the long list for Best Novel at Dublin 2019.

As you know, it became a HBO series which deviated from the storyline of the series. At Chicon 7, the first season won the Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. At LoneStarCon 3 the next year, the “Blackwater” episode from season two would win a Hugo as well.

Two prequel series, Bloodmoon and House of Dragons are currently approved at HBO. 

Anniversary: Stargate SG-1 Series

By Cat Eldridge: Fourteen years ago this week, the Stargate SG-1 series ended its decade-long run. Based on the Stargate film by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, it was created by Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner. The former was a writer for Forever Knight and Highlander; the latter was a writer on such series as War of The WorldsTime TraxStar Trek: Voyager and The Outer Limits. Both had worked together on The Outer Limits.

It started off as a Showtime series running there for five seasons before moving to Sci-fi for the last five seasons. The creators were the primary producers. 

The primary cast was Richard Dean Anderson (as Col. Jack O’Neill), Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge and Don S. Davis. Much later on the series, several Farscape alumni would show up as Claudia Black and Ben Browder would join the cast. 

The show would spawn the series Stargate AtlantisStargate Universe, and a Stargate Origins miniseries and two DVD films as well, Stargate: The Ark of Truth and Stargate: Continuum. Wiki lists a series that I wasn’t aware of, an animated television series called Stargate Infinity. There is an audio series as well.

It off course has the usual collectibles — novels, action figures, t-shirts. Some have become quite expensive. The General Jack O’Neill Stargate SG-1 Diamond Select figure mint now fetches several hundred dollars. 

Anniversary: RoboCop

By Cat Eldridge: Thirty-four years ago, RoboCop premiered in American theaters. The film was conceived by Edward Neumeier while working on the set of Blade Runner, and he developed the idea further with Michael Miner who he wrote the script with. They approached Paul Verhoeven who wasn’t at all convinced that he want to direct it until his wife convinced him to do so. 

The Executive Producer was Jon Davison whose previous genre experience was on Twilight Zone: The Movie as associate producer (segment 4) and producer (segment 3). Verhoeven would later use him on RoboCop 2 and Starship Troopers as Producer.

Cast included stars Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Daniel O’Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, and Miguel Ferrer. It’s got a lot of what I’ll call stunt casting: Verhoeven is in it as a dancing nightclub patron, Davison provides the voice of ED-209, and Landis has a cameo in an in-film advert. Smith’s partner Joan Pirkle appears as Dick Jones’s secretary. Talk show hosts Mario Machado and Leeza Gibbons portray, errr, news hosts Casey Wong and Jess Perkins. 

RoboCop’s extreme violent content made it difficult to receive a desired R rating. Verhoeven did cut several scenes including making Murphy’s death scene far less gruesome, but refused to remove the scene of Emil being disintegrated by Boddicker’s car. (Shades of Toxic Avenger?) (Actor Paul McCrane as Emil wore a full prosthesis over his upper body to give the appearance of his skin melting.) 

The RoboCop costume took six month to design going through some fifty versions and there were a number of them used in filming weighing up to eighty pounds. Designers say they were heavily influenced by robots of Metropolis and The Day the Earth Stood Still

The film spawned an entire franchise. There were three original RoboCop films, two with Weller. There would be a reboot. There would be two tv series, RoboCop and RoboCop: Prime Directives, plus two animated series, RoboCop and RoboCop: Alpha Commando. And there’s been many comics including some superb ones by Frank Miller.

It was nominated for a Hugo at Nolacon II which was the year that The Princess Bride won. Cuteness over extreme violence gets the most votes? Who knew? 

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Film Anniversary: Celebrate or Not?

By Cat Eldridge: Eighteen years ago today, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film premiered. It was  bastardized off the first volume of the series of the same name by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. It was produced by committee, I think to keep anyone from being blamed for what happened, and Sean Connery is listed as one of the producers. I doubt he actually did anything. 

Speaking of Connery, he one of the cast which also including Naseeruddin Shah, Peta Wilson, Tony Curran, Stuart Townsend, Shane West, Jason Flemyng and Richard Roxburgh. The casting was one of the places where it went awry wrong from the source material as Pet Wilson’s Mina Harker character is a vampire even though in the novel she’s freed from the curse, the second is Shane West as Tom Sawyer, a casting done at the insistence of the studio as they wanted a character American audience would connect with. Apparently the studio had forgotten about the Bond series…

Now back to Connery. The film would leave him with such a bad experience that claimed he the production of the film and the film’s final quality was what he caused his decision to permanently retire from filmmaking, saying in an interview with The Times that, “It was a nightmare. The experience had a great influence on me, it made me think about showbiz. I get fed up dealing with idiots.”

It’s been a cursed film for some involved as director Stephen Norrington and screenwriters Kevin O’Neill and James Dale Robinson have not worked again on a live action feature length film. (In 2020, Robinson was credited as the writer for an episode, “Brainwave Jr.”, of the Stargirl TV series.)

Need I say that the critical response was hostile? Well it was. Ebert for one said it had “inexplicable motivations, causes without effects, effects without causes, and general lunacy.” Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a forty-four percent rating which I think is being generous. 

It actually did well at the box office earning well over two hundred million by the time global earnings were tallied. And it’s been a steady seller on DVD. Maybe a lot of folks like a train wreck. If you’re interested in reading the source material, it’s available from the usual suspects for a reasonable twelve bucks. 

Life Is Strange Blog Tour Visits File 770

File 770 today kicks off a Titan-Comics blog tour for Life is Strange Vol. 4: Partners In Time: Tracks. Enjoy Cat Eldridge’s review and the art highlights that follow.

How far would you go, to get back to the person you love? As Max Caulfield embarks on a road trip across America after coming so close to returning to her own timeline, across the transect Tristan and Chloe follow the same path. But, both Max and Tristan struggle to control their powers and it looks like Max and Chloe may never get their happy ending – unless they can find something, or someone, to help them.

Review by Cat Eldridge: Life is Strange, Volume 4: Partners in Time Tracks

The fourth volume of the comic series based on the BAFTA-winning video game Life is Strange, follows the quite strange tales of multiverse hopping Max Caulfield. Though the premise is that they are time travelers, they actually are altering the multiverse itself and changing what happens to reality itself. 

In this chapter of the series, time-twisting photographer Max has spent the past several years in a reality adjacent to her own. Lately, she realised she was running from her responsibilities… and from the Chloe she left in that reality. So she is determined to get home at all costs.  So there must be a way for her to get home  even with the multiverse  firmly against her, so it’s time for the coast-to-coast road trip of multiple lifetimes to find it –  when she follows the The High Seas band towards an uncertain destiny!

(I’m a sucker for a genre story involving a band and this one is damn good. Charles de Lint had one in his Medicine Road novel, and Terri Windling hand a scene with a band in The Wood Wife.)

So without going into the story in detail, let’s just say that both the characters and the story told here are plausible and well thought with characters that actually make sense. The LGBTQ characters are well-fleshed and make perfect sense here. I will say that it would definitely make more sense to start at the beginning of the story than here at volume four as there’s a lot of backstory doesn’t get detailed.

The artwork is awesome, simply awesome. It’s a soft palate brush effect that fits that setting in the Southwest and California perfectly. I also give points for whoever did the formatting for making work absolutely perfecting with the iPad, something that doesn’t happen all that often alas. 


Life is Strange Vol. 4: Partners In Time: Tracks is published by Titan Comics and is available in bookstores, comic shops and online via AmazonForbidden Planet and digital download.

Five pages of interior art follow the jump.

Continue reading

World Fantasy Con 2020 Report

By Cat Eldridge: I spent four days at the virtual World Fantasy Convention having a really enjoyable time. From my viewpoint, it worked damn near perfect, being homebound because of the multiple knee surgeries, so having lots of time to do digital experiences like this. And it was a spectacular experience! 

The Con experience was built around CrowdCompass, an app and website based portal that allowed them to have the participant access everything from one place from the readings to the art shows and the virtual book bag. All of the actual programming was hosted in Zoom and available from within the WFC based CrowdCompass app. 

(Side-note. The Con had a live tech desk during Con hours that handled any problems quite well. Not sure any of them slept, but I applaud them for their skilled work.) 

There were five hundred and fifty-seven attendees, says the Chair, from all over the world, an advantage she admitted of the virtual set-up. It was also more diverse than the usual Con had been, being younger and more representative of the global culture she thought because it was virtual than the usual WFC which has tended to be older and mostly white. 

I attended three to five events each day Thursday through Sunday. This meant I encountered a lot of authors that I’d never met before including Charlaine Harris, Madeleine Robins, Greg Bear, C.J. Cherryh, Sharon Shinn, Walter Jon Williams and Marie Brennan. 

Subjects covered were fascinating (alternate history, swordplay, noir fantasy, music in fantasy, and genre fiction in video to name but a few) but it really was the people here that made it. One and all, they appeared to be having a blast being part of this and expressed their delight repeatedly at being at the Con.

David Cherry art used as Souvenir Book cover.

A panel I found absolutely fascinating had C.J. Cherryh, L.E.Modesitt Jr., Anne Groell, Greg Bear, Joe Haldeman and one author I didn’t recognize, Dave Doering, on it. It was called “Fantasy or Not, That Doesn’t Work!” And dealt with the problems of keeping a story logically consistent. 

There were, of course, readings. I delightedly got to hear Joe Haldeman, Walter Jon Williams and S. M. Stirling along with Karen J. Fowler and Sharon Shinn read mostly from their latest work. I must stop and stress that the Zoom-based quality of these readings, like everything else, was excellent with nary a hitch. And, of course, it was fascinating to see the authors in their native habitats! I did ask Walter Jon Williams about the third Metropolitan novel and he said there’s a good chance that it will happen. Yea! 

Note: Recordings of the panel discussions will be only available through CrowdCompass to WFC members (only). 

The digital book bag worked perfectly adding dozens of works to my digital to be read (or at least sampled) list. The printed program guide arrived several days before the event and looks very nice though I’ve just skimmed it so far. 

The Award Ceremony was low key, a pleasant contrast from the Hugos, being hosted by Gordon Van Gelder and Ellen Datlow at her apartment. They simply announced the nominees, then the winner and when possible, had the winner say a few words. Very nice. It was budgeted in the program for two hours and came in I think under that. The recording of the award ceremony is publicly available.

Update 11/06/2020: Corrected statements about availability of recorded program items.

Whovian Review

By Cat Eldridge: Jodi Houser’s Doctor Who: A Tale of Two Time Lords, Vol. 1: A Little Help From My Friends

This graphic novel from Titans Comics involves my two favorite Doctors from the modern era, the Tenth and Thirteen Doctors. Written by Jodi Houser who’s also written Faith for Valiant Comics, Max Ride: Ultimate Flight and Agent May for Marvel Comics, and Orphan Black for IDW, it’s splendidly illustrated by Roberta Ingranata, an Italian artist who’s mainly worked for a European comic publisher I’ve never heard of until now.

Note that Doctor Who: A Tale of Two Time Lords Vol. 1: A Little Help From My Friends is the beginning of a series and not a one-off, so we can expect more delightful tales involving these two Time Lords.

This story ties into the fan-favorite Tenth Doctor “Blink” episode which was written by former showrunner Steven Moffat. With her Companions (Yaz, Ryan and Graham), she battles the Weeping Angels – assisted by the Tenth Doctor! It’s set in the swinging Sixties London, which makes for a good background for a Whovian story.

Ok so how does it read as a Who story? Quite brilliantly, actually. Houser has a deft sense of the Doctors as characters so her script feels right, and Ingranata’s art, though not exactly representative of how I think they look, captures their feel well enough. Tennant’s easy to illustrate as is Whittaker and that helps here. The premise is that during ‘Blink’ the Tenth Doctor and his companion Martha were transported by the Weeping Angels back to 1969 where they will encounter the Thirteenth Doctor. And together they will battle another ancient enemy of the Time Lords.

I’m not going to give anything away but will note that if you like Doctor Who, I think you’ll like this story. Her Doctors  are believable and the story is told very very well with the artwork good enough to carry her story excellently.

Pixel Scroll 9/10/20 The Pixelways Will Scroll

(1) SOUNDING OFF. John Scalzi’s new novella in The Dispatcher series debuted today as an audiobook narrated by Zachary Quinto. You can hear the two of them discuss it via Whatever: “Here’s Me and Zachary Quinto Interviewing Each Other About ‘Murder By Other Means’”.

(2) THE SOUND AND THE FURRY. Maria Poletta, in the Arizona Republic story “On Cameo, Joe Arpaio welcomed a furry convention to Arizona. Hours later, he learned what it was”, says that Sheriff Joe Arpaio (famously pardoned by President Trump) recorded a message on Cameo welcoming a furry convention to Arizona although it’s not clear he knew what furries were(he pronounced furry “fury.”)

It seems former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has found a new gig after another unsuccessful bid for public office.

Unsurprisingly, it’s in front of the camera. 

For $30.99, users of Cameo — an app where singers, actors and other public figures record custom video messages for a fee — can request a personalized clip of the divisive figure saying whatever they want.

And supporters and critics alike are seizing the opportunity. 

Most of Arpaio’s Cameo videos appear to be standard fare, such as birthday greetings, thank-you messages, congratulatory comments. But one that began circulating on social media on Tuesday evening, an encouraging message for the organizers of an upcoming event, raised eyebrows. 

“Hey, good luck organizing the Arizona Furry convention,” Arpaio begins, though he pronounces it “Fury,” suggesting he’s not totally certain what he’s been asked to talk about. It’s “for animal lovers,” he adds by way of explanation.

“I’ve always loved animals, fought those that abused animals and will continue to do so,” he continues. “In any event, have a great convention.”

…Many members of the subculture have defined it as one dedicated to artistic expression and helping people come out of their shells, but they’ve long had to endure jokes from people who mock “fur-suiting” as a sexual fetish. 

Judging by the requester listed on Arpaio’s Cameo, the person who ordered the video may be one of them. The username: Sir Yiffs A Lot.

“Yiff” refers to furry-related sexual content or activity, which made Arpaio’s sign-off all the more cringeworthy. 

“As far as what animal I would like to be, I’m kind of partial to dogs,” he says after a pause, as if responding to a question included in the video request. “But I love all animals. Thanks.”

(3) LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR MOSLEY. Walter Mosley will be presented the  National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, presented by Edwidge Danticat. Winners of the award receive $10,000 and a solid brass medal.

“Mosley is a master of craft and narrative, and through his incredibly vibrant and diverse body of work, our literary heritage has truly been enriched,” said David Steinberger, chair of the NBA board of directors, in the release. “From mysteries to literary fiction to nonfiction, Mosley’s talent and memorable characters have captivated readers everywhere, and the Foundation is proud to honor such an illustrious voice whose work will be enjoyed for years to come.”

(4) MORE ROCK THAN ROLL. “Lafawndah’s The Fifth Season by Lily Sperry” profiles an album that draws on N.K. Jemisin’s trilogy.

At first glance, what surprises about Lafawndah’s new album, The Fifth Season, is the absence of her image on the cover. Instead of the regal, sometimes confrontational gazes adorning past works, such as Ancestor Boy (2019) and “Tan” (2016), here the listener is greeted with the empty eyes of an amorphous stone figure, kneeling, palms extended, on what seems to be the edge of the Earth. It’s unclear if this character is meant to represent Lafawndah herself, or something else entirely—but upon listening to the album, it almost doesn’t matter. As an artist who self-identifies as a “creative orphan,” shapeshifting is written into Lafawndah’s DNA. It’s only appropriate that her latest release takes it as its central mode.

Its core subject, however, marks a decisive break from past projects. Rather than looking inward, Lafawndah instead extends outward, drawing on the emotionally charged myths of N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy to guide her. Set in a far-future Earth rife with conflict and periodic disasters (“Seasons”) that threaten to destroy all human life, Jemisin’s Afrofuturist series tells tales of heartbreak, strife, and conflict from the perspectives of three different women. It’s only at the end the reader realizes that each character is the same person, at different points in her life….

(5) SUGGESTIONS NEEDED. “So what should do I with a half dozen signed limited edition posters by Charles Vess? Can you think of a worthy fan cause?” Cat Eldridge looks to Filers for suggestions.

“No, I don’t know why he sent them.” says Cat. “I think they’re twenty years old now but they’re in excellent shape.”

(6) VIBRANT VAMPIRES. “There Are Real Vampires in Texas. We Interviewed Them.” Fodors has the story.

The best little vampire court in Texas.

Everything’s bigger in Texas—even the vampire scene. Television and film have catapulted vampires into the mainstream, cementing vampirism into pop culture. From the cult classic Interview with the Vampire to FXX series What We Do in the Shadows, there’s no shortage of fictional portrayals of vampire life and the people who crave to be like them. Life can be stranger than fiction, and real-life vampires exist. While they tend to have an affinity for the occult, they’ve sunk their fangs into philanthropy and social good during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Texas is one of many states that boasts of vibrant vampire communities, known as courts. Self-identifying vampires can apply for membership in their city. To an outsider, these vampire courts may sound eerie. For the vampires, the courts are a place they can find belonging….

(7) ON THE FRONT. Lauren Panepinto examines “Book Cover Trends Thru Time (Via Dune)” at Muddy Colors.

…One of my favorite ways to visualize how much book cover design has changed over the years is to track one classic book that tends to get redesigned every few years and see how the designs have evolved. Honestly the entire Penguin Classics imprint survives on this as an entire business model. There have been entire academic studies and books published on the design history of books like Lolita. But this is a SciFi Fantasy Art blog and it just so happens that the new Dune trailer finally came out today, so we’re going to be looking at the last few decades of book cover design through the lens of Dune by Frank Herbert….

PRE-BOOK HISTORY

The stories that would become Dune were first serialized in Analog Magazine starting in December 1963. John Schoenherr was commissioned on August 7, 1963 (great backstory on the blog kept by his son Ian Schoenherr here) to create images for the covers and interiors for “Dune World” 1, 2, and 3.

(8) PARDUE OBIT. Filker Naomi Pardue took her own life reports Tom Smith who said, “She had been very depressed for awhile now, after the death of a close friend.”

(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

September 1990 — The 1991 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction Would go to Neil Gaiman’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” which was published thirty years ago this month in the nineteenth issue of Sandman. It features the beginning of Morpheus’ creative partnership with William Shakespeare, and is the only comic book to date to win a World Fantasy Award. It was drawn by Charles Vess and colored by Steve Oliff. The final issue of Sandman, number seventy five, “The Tempest”,  concerns the second of the two plays commissioned by Morpheus.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born September 10, 1860 – Margaret Armour.  Novelist, poet, translator.  Translated the Nibelungenlied into English prose (1887), then Wagner’s four Nibelungen operas The Rhine Gold and The ValkyrieSiegfried and Twilight of the Gods, illustrated by Arthur Rackham (1912); also Legerlotz’ Gudrun (1932).  Outside our field, tr. Heine with Leland and Brooksbank; and her own works. (Died 1943) [JH]
  • Born September 10, 1905 – Jay Jackson.  A hundred interiors for AmazingFantasticGolden FleeceWeird Tales.  Here is Robert Bloch’s “Secret of the Observatory”.  Here is “The Space Pirate”.  Here is “Planet of the Gods”.  Also outside our field: here is an image for World War II bonds.  He appears to have been the first black SF artist.  See this from the Chicago Defender.  (Died 1954) [JH]
  • Born September 10, 1911 – William Crawford.  Published and edited Fantasy Book (as Garret Ford; with wife Margaret Crawford), Marvel TalesUnusualSpaceway (i.e. not Harry Warner’s fanzine Spaceways).  Early LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) member.  Seven anthologies, some uncredited.  Started SF conventions.  Seen in Locus as late as 1981.  Helped many; received the Big Heart, our highest service award.  (Died 1984) [JH]
  • Born September 10, 1914 Robert Wise. Film director, producer, and editor. Among his accomplishments are directing The Curse of The Cat PeopleThe Day the Earth Stood StillThe HauntingThe Andromeda Strain and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Though not at all genre, he also directed West Side Story and edited Citizen Kane. (Died 2005.) (CE) 
  • Born September 10, 1927 – Betty Levin, 93.  Ten novels for us; several others outside our field e.g. Starshine and Sunglow (“Grace and subtle humor” – Kirkus), Thorn (“Strongly lyrical writing, unusual & provocative themes” – Kirkus).  Judy Lopez Award, Hope Dean Award.  [JH]
  • Born September 10, 1952 Gerry Conway, 68. Writer who’s best known for co-creating with John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru the Punisher character and scripting the death of Gwen Stacy during his long run on The Amazing Spider-Man. I’m also fond of his work on Weird Western Tales at DC. (CE) 
  • Born September 10, 1953 Pat Cadigan, 67. Tea from an Empty Cup and Dervish is Digital are both amazing works. And I’m fascinated that she has co-written with Paul Dini, creator of Batman: The Animated Series, a DCU novel called Harley Quinn: Mad Love. (CE)
  • Born September 10, 1955 Victoria Strauss, 65. Author of the Burning Land trilogy, she should be praised unto high for being founder along with AC Crispin of the Committee on Writing Scams. She maintains the Writer Beware website and blog. (CE) 
  • Born September 10, 1959 Tara Ward, 61. She played Preston in the “Warriors of the Deep”, a Third Doctor story.  After Doctor Who, she shows up in one-offs in Star Cops and Dark Realm, the Eric Roberts as the Host with vampire teeth horror anthology series,beforehaving a very minor role in the Justice League film. (CE)
  • Born September 10, 1959 Nancy A. Collins, 61. Author of the Sonja Blue vampire novels, some of the best of that genre I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. She had a long run on Swamp Thing from issues #110 to #138, and it is generally considered a very good period in that narrative.  She also wrote Vampirella, the Forrest J Ackerman and Trina Robbins creation, for awhile. (CE)
  • Born September 10, 1964 – Chip Kidd, 56.  Some say he does 75 covers a year.  “Designing books is no laughing matter.  Okay, it is.”   Here is Jurassic Park.  Here is Was.  Here is The Elephant Vanishes.  Here is Loop.  Infinity Award for Design (Int’l Center of Photography), Nat’l Design Award for Communication, AIGA (Am. Inst. Graphic Arts) Medal.  “I’m very much against the idea that the cover will sell the book.  Marketing departments of publishing houses tend to latch onto this concept and they can’t let go.  But it’s about whether the book itself really connects with the public, and the cover is only a small part of that.”  [JH]
  • Born September 10, 1977 – Emily Snyder, 43.  Directed eleven Shakespeare plays, performed in twenty-five, including Brutus in Julius Caesar and Prospero in The Tempest.  Love and Death trilogy in blank verse Persephone Rises, The Seduction of Adonis and Cupid and Psyche.  Matter of Arthur plays The Table Round and The Siege Perilous.  Novels for us Niamh and the Hermit, Charming the Moon.  Feminist and Catholic.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) WONDERBEASTS. [Item by N.] Cartoon Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts premieres its third (three seasons in a single year!!) and as of this writing final season on October 12.

(13) CAN YOU DIG IT? An archeology-inspired adventure is the big idea at Whatever today: “The Big Idea: Dan Hanks”.

“It belongs in a museum.”

That’s the quote we all know and love, uttered as the bad guys try to steal the priceless artifact away from Indiana Jones. And when he says it, the audience is usually cheering him on. He’s the scientist with the archaeological smarts after all. He knows how much these artifacts could benefit the world, so he’s going to risk his life to give us the chance to see them. Pretty damn noble if you ask me.

Except.

That’s not really the whole story, is it? 

Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire, was always meant to be a fast, fun, action-packed adventure in the Indiana Jones style. An entertaining beach read (or, I guess, ‘pandemic read’ now). However, it was also important to me to address some serious archaeological issues, in particular the colonial elements of these types of stories. I wanted to pull that aspect into the torch light and inspect it properly (while hoping it didn’t set off a trap). 

The big idea here is that the famous “it belongs in a museum” line is only half complete. In a world where archaeologists and museums are being nudged to move beyond their colonial past, it deserves a follow-up: 

Whose?

(14) ANGER BENEATH THE WHIMSY. In an essay for the New York Times, James Traub contends “Doctor Dolittle’s Talking Animals Still Have Much to Say”.

…No one could say that the books have grown quaint or stale; just ask my third graders. Nor was Walpole indulging in hyperbole. Doctor Dolittle is a wonderful creation: a Victorian eccentric from the pages of Dickens; a perpetual bachelor who drives conventional humans from his life but is much loved by the poor and the marginal; a gentleman whose exquisite politesse never falters, even before sharks and pirates; a peace-loving naturalist prepared to wage war to defend his friends from evil depredations. Only by the standards of the world of grown-ups does he “do little.”

… Lofting really was a genius of children’s literature. But he was also a product of the British Empire. When Doctor Dolittle goes to Africa to cure the monkeys, he stumbles into the Kingdom of Jolliginki. Prince Bumpo, the heir to the throne, is a mooncalf who mistakes fairy tales for real life, speaks in Elizabethan periphrasis and murmurs to himself: “If only I were a white prince!” In the pencil sketches with which Lofting illustrates his texts, Prince Bumpo looks like the missing link between man and ape. Lofting’s biographer, Gary D. Schmidt, defensively notes that Doctor Dolittle himself rarely utters a bigoted word. But the doctor is only a character; the narrator and the illustrator are none other than our author. While Lofting never fails to give his Africans a measure of nobility, he is also quite certain of their savagery.

… The edition I read was probably published in 1950, three years after Lofting’s death. By the 1970s, he had gone into eclipse. Over the years, new editions appeared that attempted to address the racism, including one in 1988 from which all pictures of Prince Bumpo and his parents had been removed, along with all references to their skin color, not to mention their wish to change it. “If this verbal and visual caution occasionally seems almost craven,” a reviewer for The New York Times Book Review wrote, the blind spots for which it sought to compensate were real.

(15) SET DECORATION BY NATURE. Yeah, this is how San Francisco looked yesterday.

(16) BOOKS ON TAP. Baen Books authors will make two livestreaming appearances Publishers Weekly’s Books on Tap LIVE series in the coming months.  The authors will be interviewed with the opportunity to answer questions at the end of the segment.

The first, featuring Larry Correia, will air on Wednesday, September 23rd at 4:00 PM EDT. Larry Correia is the bestselling author of the Monster Hunter International urban fantasy series, the Grimnoir trilogy, and the Saga of the Forgotten Warrior military epic fantasy series with the latest novel Destroyer of Worlds, on sale September 1st.

David Weber & Jacob Holo will be teaming up for an event on Wednesday, October 7th at 4:00 PM EDT to celebrate the release of The Valkyrie Protocol, the second book in their Gordian Division time travel adventure series. David Weber is a multiple New York Times best-selling author, the creator of the Honor Harrington military science fiction series, as well as Path of the Fury, the Hell’s Gate multiverse series, the Dahak Saga, and many more. The Valkyrie Protocol is on sale October 6th.

The authors are known for lively dialogue, interesting backstories, and enjoying interaction with guests.  These events are free to the public.  To sign up for these special events go here September 23rd at 4:00 for Larry Correia; and a link will be forthcoming for the event on October 7th at 4:00 for David Weber and Jacob Holo.

(17) MALTIN ON MOVIES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to a 2019 podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Phil Lord and Chris Miller.

Lord and Miller met at Dartmouth, where they wrote a comic strip about a chain-smoking squirrel that was turned into a feature in the Dartmouth alumni magazine.  That magazine ended up on Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s corporate jet, which led to a phone call the undergraduates got asking them to come to Hollywood and take a meeting, which they declined because they were doing mid-term exams. 

After they were graduated, Disney hired them but their first great success came with the MTV series “Clone High,” which was banned in India because Gandhi was one of the clones.  Most of the podcast includes discussion of the Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs movies and The Lego Movie.  The podcast was produced before The Lego Movie 2 came out.  There is much discussion about why it’s so much harder to come up with a good script for an animated film than for a feature film, with Leonard Maltin noting that Walt Disney threw out six months’ work on Pinocchio.

There was one question about SOLO, the Star Wars project that Lord and Miller were sacked from.

(18) RICK AND MORTY CUISINE. “Pringles Has Brought Back Its Pickle Rick Chips, and Launched Two New ‘Rick and Morty’ Flavors” – let Yahoo! Life tell you all about it.

Earlier this year, we were introduced to the Pringles and Rick and Morty collaboration that resulted in Pickle Rick pickle-flavored chips. Not only are the chips — which were released in honor of the Super Bowl — available again, but there are two new varieties that were inspired by the Adult Swim series.

The special-edition Pickle Rick flavor is joined by Honey Mustard Morty and Look at Me! I’m Cheddar & Sour Cream. While the flavors are self-explanatory (hello, honey mustard-flavored and cheddar-and-sour-cream-flavored chips!), there’s a reason these three were chosen. Stacking Pringles flavors, which fit so perfectly together, has been gaining popularity over the past couple of years, according to the brand. The idea here is that you take one of each chip and eat them together for an insane flavor combination….

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