By Craig Miller: [Reprinted from Facebook with permission. Craig and Genny Dazzo visited the new Museum on September 27.]
In, I believe, 1927, the Academy of Motion Pictures was founded.
In 1929, they decided there should be a museum of motion picture history and memorabilia.
In three days, a little shy of a hundred years later, the Academy Museum will open to the public.
We’re just back from a preview tour of the Museum.
They’ve done a pretty great job of redesigning and remodeling the existing building (the former May Co. Department Store, which I remember my mother taking me to when I was a little kid). And they added what has been dubbed by at least the local press as “The Death Star”, a giant ball of a building housing a 1,000 seat theater.
The theater building wasn’t open for us to tour so I don’t know what else, if anything, is in there besides the big theater. (There’s also a smaller, 280 theater somewhere in the complex. Not sure which building.)
What was open was most of the main building. The fifth floor was closed. Apparently in preparation for the Big Opening Events but the exhibits we toured on the other four floors were pretty swell.
As with all museums, some are special, limited duration exhibits. Others are more-or-less permanent. And a few areas were well marked as a permanent exhibit which would have on-going changes. One such area showcased five different feature films with clips and behind the scenes information, photos, etc. Over time, the films showcased will change. (I’m guessing that’s in part to give a full view of the history of films and part political – “hey, how come you aren’t showing one of our films?” with varying definitions of “our”.) One of the films currently showcased is Citizen Kane. As part of the exhibit, they have the one remaining Rosebud sled (on loan from Steven Spielberg).
The current special exhibit, occupying much of the fourth floor, is on Hayao Miyazaki and his films. Lots of clips being shown on many different screens in the several rooms of the exhibit. Lots of production art, character designs, cels, storyboards, etc. Quite an elaborate exhibit.
I confess I enjoyed that there were quite a number of items on display in the museum or talked about that are from films I worked on or I have some kind of relationship to. An R2-D2 and a C-3PO costume were on display (though an R2 from a more recent period than the one I used to operate). Several things from The Dark Crystal. And in the animation exhibit (different from the special Miyazaki exhibit), there is an animation drawing from Gertie the Dinosaur that’s just a few frames away from one of the Gertie drawings on my office wall.
There’s also what they’re calling an “installation”. It’s basically a round room showing “Behold”, a 26-minute long film created by Ben Burtt. It’s sort of like Disney’s old Circle-Vision 360, in that the images are projected all around you. It’s lots of clips from science fiction films ranging from A Trip to the Moon to Star Wars and more recent films. It’s shown sort of as a triptych (though occasionally a “quadtych”) with related and counterpoint scenes playing all at once. It was swell. And while there’s a big seating area in the center of the room, I recommend standing by the door. That’s the only way you can see what’s on all sides.
There was also a large and very good exhibit on the 1939 The Wizard of Oz. In addition to all the photos, behind the scenes information, etc. are what was described as a screen-used pair of ruby slippers.
We spent four hours touring the museum and we could have spent a lot more time there. (And will, in future trips.) There are a lot of great exhibits and we just ran out of time and energy.
…In late 2020 and early 2021, someone seems to have decided that it was Korean SF’s turn, with several major works receiving English-language editions (in particular, check out UK-based publisher Honford Star, who have put out handsome editions of several books). At the vacation house where I recently stayed with some friends, these books were available for reading, and today I’d like to talk about one them. Tower by Bae Myung-hoon was originally published in 2009 (the English translation is by Sung Ryu), and its concerns connect with conversations we’ve had on this blog about urbanism, vertical construction, and most importantly, the relationship between capital and citizens….
(2) PRIX AURORA. Aurora Awards voting is now open for members of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, who have until September 4 to complete their online ballots. See the list of nominees here.
(3) DRAGON AWARDS. And, of course, Dragon Awards voting has started and will continue until September 4. To vote, fans must first register on the Dragon Awards website: Register Here. Ballots are then emailed in batches every few days through August.
Fans have until Friday, September 3 at 11:59 p.m., Eastern, to register. Voting ends 24-hours later on Saturday, Septenber. 4 at 11:59 p.m., also Eastern.
Winners will be announced on Sept. 5 at Dragon Con
TV animation writer and WGAW Animation Writers Caucus Chair Craig Miller (The Smurfs, Curious George, Pocket Dragon Adventures) will receive the Writers Guild of America West’s 2020 Animation Writers Caucus Animation Writing Award at November 24’s virtual AWC awards ceremony.
Comic book writer and Miller collaborator Marv Wolfman will present the Guild’s AWC career achievement award to Miller in recognition of his distinguished career and contributions to the animation field….
T. S. Eliot rejects George Orwell, again: Animal Farm
T. S. Eliot to George Orwell Esq., 13 July 1944:
“I know that you wanted a quick decision about Animal Farm; but the minimum is two directors’ opinions, and that can’t be done under a week. But for the importance of speed, I should have asked the Chairman to look at it as well. But the other director is in agreement with me on the main points. We agree that it is a distinguished piece of writing; that the fable is very skilfully handled, and that the narrative keeps one’s interest on its own plane – and that is something very few authors have achieved since Gulliver.
“On the other hand, we have no conviction (and I am sure none of the other directors would have) that this is the right point of view from which to criticise the political situation at the present time.[. . .]
“I am very sorry, because whoever publishes this, will naturally have the opportunity of publishing your future work: and I have a regard for your work, because it is good writing of fundamental integrity.”
It is that last paragraph that particularly strikes me: in turning down Animal Farm—essentially because it was being rude about our Soviet allies—Eliot was also turning down the unwritten 1984.
A three-way fight over Nichols’ fate involves her only child, Kyle Johnson, who is also her conservator; her former manager Gilbert Bell; and a concerned friend, Angelique Fawcette.
In 2018, Johnson filed a petition for conservatorship, arguing that his mother’s dementia made her susceptible to exploitation. In 2019, Bell filed a lawsuit against Johnson, alleging attempts to remove him from Nichols’ guest home, where he has lived since 2010, and “aggressive and combative behavior.”
Bell says that while living in close proximity to Nichols, he helped to restore her career and financial well-being. According to Johnson, who filed a countersuit against Bell in 2020, Nichols’ home was the place where her former manager “exerted his undue influence and took control over Ms. Nichols’ assets and personal affairs,” misappropriating the star’s income as her health deteriorated and memory faded.
Fawcette, a producer and actress who met Nichols in 2012, entered the legal fight opposing Johnson’s conservatorship petition. Fawcette pushed for visitation rights to spend time with her friend, and she argued for Nichols to stay in Woodland Hills — a scenario that has looked increasingly improbable.
At 88, Nichols no longer occupies the house. Last year, Johnson moved her to New Mexico, where he and his wife live. Johnson declined The Times’ requests to speak with Nichols directly.
Against the backdrop of the #FreeBritney movement around Britney Spears raising public consciousness about conservatorships, Nichols’ former agent and friend have launched court battles to intervene, they said in interviews. Their fear: Nichols is being denied a chance to live out her remaining years as she wants….
(8) REDEEMING FEATURES. But Cora also sent this link, saying “Because Lin Carter was actually a good editor, even if he was a terrible writer, here is Filer Fraser Sherman’s appreciation for the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series of the 1970s, which Carter edited” – “Lin Carter and the Ballantines Changed My Life” at Atomic Junk Shop.
…Thanks to Carter and the Ballantines, I could read George MacDonald’s allegorical Lilith. Clark Ashton Smith’s stylized dark fantasy short stories, collected in Poseidonis, Xiccarph, Hyperborea and more. James Branch Cabell’s cynical tales of less-than-noble knights, with a healthy serving of sex. New authors such as Evangeline Walton, with her retelling of the Welsh Mabinogion and Saunders Anne Laubenthal’s remarkable Alabama Grail quest, Excalibur (some of the covers are in this old post of mine).
It would be a satisfying ending if I could say reading these books shaped my own fantasy-writing style, but I don’t think they did. I did try to write some Dunsanian stories when I started out, but like most writers who imitate a distinctive stylist, the results were … not good (I’m not even going to mention my efforts at imitating Lovecraft — crap, I just did). They did, however, do a marvelous job broadening my taste beyond Conan and Frodo Baggins….
(9) ONWARD AND DURWARD. Adam Roberts analyzes how J.R.R. Tolkien was influenced by Sir Walter Scott in “Black Riders: a Note on Scott and Tolkien” at Sibilant Fricative. For example, Roberts finds significant parallels between Tolkien’s work and Scott’s Quentin Durward, such as —
…Schwarz Reiters, Black Riders. It seems to me likely that Tolkien, reading Scott’s adventure story, retained a memory of this episode and reworked it for Fellowship of the Ring: not just men riding black horses, but black men riding black horses, at the behest of a terrible malevolent master, pursuing our heroes across a spacious, late medieval landscape of field, stream and woodland.
One of Scott’s footnotes makes plain that the Schwarz Reiters were historical; but that seems to me only to reinforce the aptitude of the Tolkienian appropriation….
Months ago I decided to make a program about foreign writers living in Finland, and finally here it is. The name is Scriptor in Fabula and is a different kind of interview.
Three of the writers included are science fiction and fantasy ones, so I decided is a good idea to present them also here, at Amazing Stories.
The first one is Edmund Schluessel a PhD physicist with PGCE teaching qualification that also writes good science fiction. But there is more: An avid socialist activist, he helped organize Finland’s largest demonstration against Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.
(11) UNA STUBBS (1937-2021). British actress Una Stubbs died August 12 at the age of 84. US viewers will mainly know her as Mrs. Hudson in Sherlock, but she had several genre roles as well. Here’s an obituary from The Guardian as well as a photo overview of her memorable roles.
(12) MEMORY LANE.
1986 – Thirty-five years ago, the second version of The Fly premiered. This version was directed and co-written by David Cronenberg along with Charles Edward Pogue. It was based on “The Fly” by George Langelaan which first ran in the June 1957 issue of Playboy. The principal cast was Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and John Getz. Reception was universally positive for the film with the performance by Goldblum being singled out as the highlight of the film. It grossed over sixty million dollars at the box office against its nine million dollar budget becoming the largest commercial success of Cronenberg’s career. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a rather excellent rating of eighty-three percent. It was nominated for a Hugo at Conspiracy ’87, the year Aliens won.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 15, 1917 — John Joseph McGuire. Best remembered as a co-writer with H. Beam Piper of A Planet for Texans, Hunter Patrol, Crisis in 2140 and The Return, all of which I’ve read and really liked. His solo fiction was a bare handful and I don’t think I’ve encountered it. The works with Piper are available from the usual digital suspects as is a novella of his called The Reason Prisoner. It’s listed as being public domain, so’s free there. (Died 1981.)
Born August 15, 1932 — Robert L. Forward. Physicist and SF writer whose eleven novels I find are often quite great on ideas and quite thin on character development. Dragon’s Egg is fascinating as a first contact novel, and Saturn Rukh is another first contact novel that’s just as interesting. (Died 2002.)
Born August 15, 1933 — Bjo Trimble, 88. Her intro to fandom was TASFiC, the 1952 Worldcon. She would be active in LASFS in the late 1950s onward and has been involved in more fanzines than I can comfortably list here. Of course, many of us know her from Trek especially the successful campaign for a third season. She’s responsible for the Star Trek Concordance, an amazing work even by today’s standards. And yes, I read it and loved it. She’s shows up (uncredited) as a crew member in the Recreation Deck scene in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Bjo and her husband John Trimble were the Fan Guests of Honor at the 60th Worldcon, ConJose. She was nominated at Seacon for Best Fanzine for Shangri L’Affaires, and two years later at DisCon 1 for the same under the Best Amateur Magazine category.
Born August 15, 1943 — Barbara Bouchet, 78. Yes, I’ve a weakness for performers who’ve shown up on the original Trek. She plays Kelinda in “By Any Other Name”. She also appeared in Casino Royale as Miss Moneypenny, and is Ava Vestok in Agent for H.A.R.M. which sounds like someone was rather unsuccessfully emulating The Man from U.N.C.L.E. It will be commented upon by Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Born August 15, 1945 — Nigel Terry. His first role was John in A Lion in Winter which is at least genre adjacent as it’s alternate history, with his first genre role being King Arthur in Excalibur. Now there’s a bloody telling of the Arthurian myth. He’s General Cobb in the Tenth Doctor story, “The Doctor’s Daughter”, and on the Highlander series as Gabriel Piton in the “Eye of the Beholder” episode. He even played Harold Latimer in “The Greek Interpreter” on Sherlock Holmes. (Died 2015.)
Born August 15, 1952 — Louise Marley, 69. Winner of two Endeavour Awards for The Glass Harmonica and The Child Goddess. Before becoming a writer, she was an opera singer with the Seattle Opera, and so her works often feature musical themes.
Born August 15, 1972 — Matthew Wood, 49. He started out as, and still is, a sound engineer but he also became a voice actor with his best known role being that of General Grievous in The Revenge of the Sith and The Clone Wars. He often does both at the same time as on 2013 Star Trek Into Darkness where he was the lead sound editor and provided the ever so vague additional voices. If you’ve been watching The Mandalorian, he was Bib Fortuna in “The Rescue” episode.
Born August 15, 1972 — Ben Affleck, 49. Did you know his first genre role is in Buffy the Vampire Slayer? He’s a basketball player in it. He’s Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. IMDB claims he shows up in a uncredited spot in Suicide Squad as well. He’s reprising his role as Batman in forthcoming Flash. He’s Matt Murdock / Daredevil in Daredevil which I have seen. He’s actually in Field of Dreams too as a fan on the stands in Fenway though he’s not credited. Can I nominate Shakespeare in Love as genre? If so, he’s Ned Alleyn in it.
(14) BURTON’S BATMAN IS BACK. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt discusses Batman 89, a six-issue miniseries designed to recreate the world of the 1989 Tim Burton movie, written by Sam Hamm (who wrote Burton’s film) and designed to include storylines that weren’t in Burton’s movie (such as having a Black Robin, because Robin wasn’t in the Burton film). “Tim Burton never got to make more Batman movies. ‘Batman 89’ is the next best thing”.
…[Artist Joe] Quinones ended up suggesting something that now seems obvious: Why not just ask the person who wrote those Batman movies?Veteran Hollywood writer Sam Hamm is that person.And the result is “Batman 89,” a newsix-issue monthly miniseries featuring a Batman inspired by the performance of Michael Keaton — and a nostalgic joyride for the many hardcore fans of Burton’s two iconic trips to Gotham City.
Quinones sent Hamm a direct message on Twitter and was surprised not only to get a response but to find out Hamm is a fan of his artwork.
Hamm was hesitant about returning to super-heroic tales.He’d written two Batman films (the first with Warren Skaaren, and he was replac
ed on the second by Daniel Waters) along with the first movie script for Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s legendary “Watchmen” comic. He’d even worked with Chris Columbus on a Fantastic Four movie that was never made.
“I had a long stretch where I just didn’t want to do comic book [stories]. I had been very much typed as the comic book guy,” Hamm said. Still, he added, “I thought about it for like a day, and I said, I think I can have some fun with this.”
Part of the fun for Hamm and Quinones would be exploring potential plotlines that were ripe for the taking but never used in the first two Batman films. Both agreed that classic Batman villain Two-Face should be this series’ main antagonist. Hamm had included Harvey Dent — played by Billy Dee Williams — in his “Batman” script with the intent of the character eventually transitioning into Two-Face. But Williams never returned to the role, and when Two-Face debuted in Schumacher’s “Batman Forever,” the character was played by Tommy Lee Jones….
A downtown Mount Clemens event Saturday sought to break the world record for the number of dinosaur costumes in one place. The record, which stands at 252, was too large to overcome. But that didn’t mean attendees didn’t have fun.
(16) CLIPPING SERVICE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from a humor piece by Hallie Cantor in the July 30, 2018 New Yorker in which Elon Musk is dealing wiith public relations executives.
MUSK: “Guys, guys, guys, c’mon. I’m a socialist in the manner of Iain Banks.”
P.R. EXECUTIVE 2: “But Iain Banks was pro-union!”
(A large hole opens in the floor beneath Executive 2’s seat, and he disappears into a Hyperloop tube headed for O’Hare International Airport.”
(17) EAR CANDY. Cora Buhlert has a story called “We need to talk…” in episode 42 of the Simultaneous Times podcast presented by Space Cowboy Books.
…Unsurprisingly, there’s also a huge number of potential DC movies that have been announced or put into development that never made it to the screen. Some of these were new spins of the company’s biggest heroes, developed by big names like JJ Abrams, Joss Whedon, and Tim Burton. Others were attempts to make movies based on lesser-known figures that for various reasons never got as far as production. Some were literally a few weeks away from shooting, while others never made it past the script stage.
We’ve picked some of the highest-profile and most interesting examples of these. It’s fascinating to think of how the course of DC’s cinematic journey would’ve been affected had they made it to the screen–Nicolas Cage might have forever been associated with the role of Superman, while we might never have seen Christian Bale and Chris Nolan’s take on Batman. So here’s 9 big DC films that we’ll never see….
9. Justice League Dark
In terms of DC movies that seem like a perfect match of subject and director, it’s hard to think of a better one than Gullermo Del Toro’s Justice League Dark. The Pacific Rim and Shape of Water director was attached to a movie version of the supernatural superhero team for several years and recently confirmed that he wrote a full screenplay for the potential movie. But he left the project in 2015, and although Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow) was also briefly attached, it remains unmade.
However, while a full Justice League Dark movie doesn’t seem likely any time soon, that doesn’t mean we won’t see some of the characters. Last year it was reported that JJ Abrams is developing several Justice League Dark projects, with a John Constantine series and Zatanna movie both in the works.
… I am honored to announce I will be speaking next week at the Mordor Summit in Barad-dur at the invitation of Dark Lord Sauron! This is the future of conservatism, and I’m excited to throw open the Overton Window and let in the nazguls.
It was wonderful to spend time in Hungary, a country Freedom House describes as “sliding into authoritarian rule” — but why stop there when I could be in a land Freedom House describes as “under authoritarian rule for two-and-a-half thousand years”? That’s two-and-a-half thousand times more aspirational! That’s 10 times longer than the United States has been a country at all, and hundreds of times longer than we’ve been deliberately sliding away from at least theoretically embracing representative democracy….
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Alan Baumler, Will R., John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
(1) BIAS IN REVIEW SPACES. In a series of Twitter threads, Silvia Moreno-Garcia has tackled issues of bias in review spaces against marginalized authors, such as through the misuse of trigger warnings.
Some of your work has been described as Lovecraftian horror. What draws you to the genre? How do you create such an atmosphere in your stories?
Cosmic horror is already entrenched so much in genre, it’s hard to not be drawn to it. When I use it in my own stories, I’m often attempting to convey a sense of the strange, the otherworldly, and at times inconceivable. That might be done by translating a bit of folklore through a cosmic horror lens, drawing on a favorite trope but finding a new way to present it, or by adding some well-placed tentacles. You can never go wrong with tentacles.
…Nearly 50 years ago. And I was 16 or 17. I was a science fiction fan and a film fan. And I lived just a few miles from the 20th Century-Fox lot.
I no longer remember what prompted me to try this but, for some reason, one evening I decided to drive to the studio. I parked in the studio lot and walked through the gate. It was long before 9/11. Long before security theater took over. You could walk onto any studio lot in town, right past the security guards, as long as you looked like you were meant to be there. And so I did.
What was shooting on the lot that evening were scenes from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. These were outdoor scenes, not on a sound stage. Not having to sneak into a sound stage, it was especially easy to approach and watch….
… Of the nine stories in this anthology, four are written by women. If we count Jane Rice and her collaborator Ruth Allison separately, we have five male and five female authors. Of course, women make up fifty-one percent of the Earth’s population, so an anthology with fifty percent male and fifty percent female contributors shouldn’t be anything unusual. However, in practice there are still way too many magazine issues and anthologies that don’t have a single female contributor, so an anthology where half the authors are women is truly remarkable.
…German science fiction, pulp magazines, morbid beauty, vampire flower women, Jirel of Joiry, the Dark Eye, foreshadowing, Gary Gygax’s exclusion of Clark Ashton Smith from the Appendix N, Alphonse Mucha, doomed protagonists, the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention, and much more!
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 1973 — On this month in 1973, Robert Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love was first published by Putnam. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama would beat it out for the Hugo for Best Novel at Discon II. It was later given a Prometheus Hall of Fame Award. It’s the life of Lazarus Long told in exhaustive detail. Really exhaustive detail. Critics including Theodore Sturgeon loved it, and John Leonard writing for the NYT called it “great entertainment”. It’s currently priced at just six dollars and ninety-nine cents at the usual suspects.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 14, 1908 — Stephen Tall. His first published work was “The Lights on Precipice Peak“ in Galaxy, October 1955. Not a prolific writer, he’d do about twenty stories over the next quarter of a century and two novels as well, The Ramsgate Paradox and The People Beyond the Wall. “The Bear with the Knot on His Tail” was nominated for a Hugo. He has not yet made into the digital realm other than “The Lights on Precipice Peak“ being available at the usual suspects. (Died 1981.)
Born June 14, 1914 — Ruthven Todd. He’s here for his delightful children’s illustrated trio of Space Cat books — Space Cat Visits Venus, Space Cat Meets Mars and Space Cat and the Kittens. I’m please to say they’re available at all the usual digital suspects. He also wrote Over the Mountain and The Lost Traveller which are respectively a lost world novel and a dystopian novel. (Died 1978.)
Born June 14, 1919 — Gene Barry. His first genre role was in The War of the Worlds as Dr. Clayton Forrester. He’d have a number of later genre appearances including several appearances on Science Fiction Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Devil and Miss Sarah, The Girl, the Gold Watch & Dynamite, multiple appearances on Fantasy Island and The Twilight Zone. He’d appear in the ‘05 War of The Worlds credited simply as “Grandfather”. (Died 2009.)
Born June 14, 1921 — William Hamling. Author and editor who was active as an sf fan in the late 1930s and early 1940s. His first story “War with Jupiter”, written with Mark Reinsberg, appeared in Amazing Stories in May 1939. He’d write only short stories, some nineteen of them, over the next twenty years. Genre adjacent, his Shadow of the Sphinx is a horror novel about an ancient Egyptian sorceress. He would be the Editor of two genre zines, Imagination for most of the Fifties, and Imaginative Tales during the Fifties as well. He published four issues of the Stardust fanzine in 1940, and contributed to the 1940 Worldcon program. (Died 2017.)
Born June 14, 1939 — Penelope Farmer, 82. English writer best known for children’s fantasy novels. Her best-known novel is Charlotte Sometimes, a boarding-school story that features a multiple time slip. There’s two more novels in this, the Emma / Charlotte series, The Summer Birds and Emma in Winter. Another children’s fantasy by her, A Castle of Bone, concerns a portal in a magic shop.
Born June 14, 1949 — Harry Turtledove, 72. I wouldn’t know where to begin with him considering how many series he’s done. I’m fairly sure I first read novels in his Agent of Byzantium series and I know his Crosstime Traffic series was definitely fun reading. He’s won two Sidewise Awards for How Few Remain and Ruled Britannia, and a Prometheus for The Gladiator.
Born June 14, 1958 — James Gurney, 63. Artist and author best known for his illustrated Dinotopia book series. He won a Hugo for Best Original Artwork at L.A. Con III for Dinotopia: The World Beneath, and was twice nominated for a Hugo for Best Professional Artist. The dinosaur Torvosaurus gurneyi was named in honor of him.
Born June 14, 1972 — Adrian Tchaikovsky, 49. He is best known for his Shadows of the Apt series, and for Children of Time which won an Arthur C. Clarke Award. (He’s also won a BFA for The Tiger and the Wolf, and a BSFA for Children of Ruin.) The After War series is multi author. He wrote the first, Redemption’s Blade, and Justina Robson wrote the second, Salvation’s Fire.
It’s a formula that has been repeated over and over for about as long as there has been science fiction on television—starting with the likes of Star Trek and Blake’s 7, through the boom in “planet of the week” style TV in the 90s and 00s with Farscape and Firefly, to more recent stories like Dark Matter, The Expanse, Killjoys, and the Guardians of the Galaxy films. Most recently Sky’s Intergalactic, and the Korean movie Space Sweepers have been carrying the standard, while last month saw people diving back into the world of Mass Effect with Mass Effect Legendary Edition. While Commander Sheppard is ostensibly the protagonist of the video game trilogy, few would argue that it’s anything other than the ensemble of the Normandy crew that keeps people coming back.
As science fiction author Charlie Jane Anders points out, it’s not hard to see the appeal of a family of likeable characters, kept in close quarters by the confines of their ship, and sent into stories of adventure.
“I love how fun this particular strand of space opera is, and how much warmth and humour the characters tend to have,” Anders says. “These stories have in common a kind of swashbuckling adventure spirit and a love of problem-solving and resourcefulness. And I think the ‘found family’ element is a big part of it, since these characters are always cooped up on a tiny ship together and having to rely on each other.”…
(10) HYPERTEXT PETS. “HTTP Status Dogs” is a collection of photos about “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Response status codes. And dogs.”
Bryson Kliemann loves his Pokémon card collection, but when he found out his beloved puppy Bruce was sick and might not survive, the 8-year-old did what he could to save his best friend. He set up a stand on the side of the road in Lebanon, Virginia, with a sign: “4 Sale Pokémon.”
…”I’m a realist with my kids,” Woodruff said. “I told him Bruce was sick and said ‘When you get home today from school, he may be at the vet’s office or in heaven.”
When Bryson got off the school bus that day, he showed his mother and stepfather a business plan he created to sell his Pokémon cards and snacks to help raise money to get Bruce the best possible care.
“I told him no, we’ve got this,” Woodruff said. “And then he later asked my husband and we decided to say yes, because this was also an opportunity to teach him responsibility.”
Bryson set up his stand on the side of the road, complete with a colorful umbrella and handmade signed, and started serving customers.
The first day he made $65. Within two afternoons, Woodruff said her son had made $400 and even received some Pokémon cards from kind strangers who wanted to help….
(12) ETCH-A-SKETCH. Wow! Princess Etch (Jane Labowitch) made an Etch-A-Sketch of the ship that blocked the Suez Canal.
The new update is called “Black Panther: War for Wakanda”. You’ll face off against classic Marvel villain Ulysses Klaue in what seems to be a fight over vibranium. That’s the rare metal in the world of Marvel that can only be found in Wakanda.
This will be the first time that the Black Panther has appeared in the Marvel’s Avengers game, so it’s great to see him finally team up with the Avengers.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Ben Bird Person, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) STAR WARS AT 44. On the “realio trulio” Star Wars Day, Craig Miller posted two excerpts from his book, Star Wars Memories, on Facebook. Here’s a quote from the first part:
SAYING YES TO “STAR WARS” (FOX’S MARKET RESEARCH)
It wasn’t an easy sell to get a studio to okay production on “Star Wars”. George Lucas had made the extremely successful “American Graffiti” for Universal Studios. He had a three-picture deal with them. “American Graffiti” was the first. They wanted him to make more films for their studio. The whole purpose of a multi-picture deal, of providing on-going office space and services, is because the studio is betting that the films you make will be profitable and they want you to make those movies for them.
They turned “Star Wars” down.
The Readers Report, while generally favorable, included the phrase “Do we have faith that Mr. Lucas can pull this off?”. Obviously, Universal didn’t….
(2) TUCKERIZED TITANS. A new Teen Titans Go! episode titled ”Marv Wolfman and George Perez” will air this Saturday at 9 a.m. Pacific, featuring animated versions of their namesakes voiced by themselves. Marv and George were the co-creators of Raven, Starfire, and Cyborg, who were added to Robin and the other Titans.
In this episode of ‘Notes On A Scene,’ Director Zack Snyder breaks down a zombie heist scene from ‘Army of the Dead.’ Zack guides us through the nuances and challenges of working with CGI zombies, and explains how he was able to edit Tig Notaro into his ‘Army of the Dead’ universe.
Many months ago I found myself on r/fanfiction explaining the history of the AO3 tag “Serious Human Male/Handsome Gay Living Archive”, and made a mental note that it would make a good HobbyDrama post if I wrote it up more comprehensively….
— and ends a mere 2700 words later with a link to the Tingle-esque work involved.
(6) REAR GUARD ACTION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Asimov, in his autobiography In Joy Still Felt, discusses a Star Trek convention he went to in New York City in 1975.
The climax of the convention came on Sunday the twelfth (January 12, 1975), when William Shatner (Captain Kirk) spoke before a superenthusiastic audience of more than four thousand, who filled the seats and aisles to capacity. Shatner answered all questions with good humor and unpretentiousness and had everyone enthralled. When it was time to leave, he explained to everyone there was no way he could sign autographs for such huge a crowd and made ready to get off the stage.
At this point, the young man who organized the convention whispered in my ear, ‘Quick! Get on the stage and hold the audience so that Shatner can get away.’
I said, ‘They’ll tear me limb from limb.’
But he was physically pushing me onto the stage while one of his henchmen was busily announcing me.
I started talking–babbling, rather.I waited for a mad, furious rush on the part of disappointed ‘Star Trek’ fanatics, but it didn’t come. They seemed to be enjoying me, actually, and I was just beginning to relax and settle down when the organizer approached and said, ‘Shatner’s safely away. Get off, so we can get on with the program.’ So I got off.
All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka (Trans. Alexander O. Smith) (2004)
The aliens who dispatched the engineered lifeforms humans call Mimics did stop to consider the morality of xenoforming a world that might well be inhabited. But they concluded that xenoforming would be as ethically neutral as killing insects to make way for housing construction. No need to examine Earth before reshaping it.
Keiji Kiriya, human, thinks human needs are more important than alien schemes. Thus, his brief, glorious career in Earth’s defence forces. Thus his inevitable death the first time he encounters Mimics. His resurrection in the past—on the morning before the first battle—comes as an unexpected surprise. Alas, the results of the rerun battle are little better than the first. The same is true of the second. And the third…but by death 157, Keiji is getting the hang of the time loop in which he is trapped and well on his way to figuring out how he might save the Earth for humans.
In March, literary heavyweights Kazuo Ishiguro and Neil Gaiman — a Nobel laureate, and the beloved author of “American Gods,” “Sandman,” and “Good Omens,” respectively — convened at an independent bookstore event to discuss genre and science fiction.
They arrived at twin conclusions: one, that rigid genre distinctions between literary works promote an unproductive and false hierarchy of worth, and two, that the 21st century is a very tricky time to attempt to define “science fiction” at all. Gaiman said that he increasingly feels genre “slippage where science fiction is concerned” because, he says, “the world has become science fiction.” The hacking exploits in William Gibson’s novel “Neuromancer” or the sequencing of an entire genome overnight no longer belong to the realm of fantasy.
For MIT students, the permeable relationship between reality and science fiction is often familiar territory. In their labs and research projects, students and faculty experience personally the process by which imaginative ideas turn into new techniques, possibilities, medicines, tools, and technologies. (And they learn that many such new realities actually have had their origins in speculative literature.)
Students in the MIT Literature course 21L.434 (21st Century Science Fiction), taught by Assistant Professor Laura Finch, also discover that science fiction is a powerful, useful way to think about and understand the world we currently inhabit….
It felt good to love again, in that big empty house. Virginia Kellner got the cat last November, around her ninety-second birthday, and now it’s always nearby. It keeps her company as she moves, bent over her walker, from the couch to the bathroom and back again. The walker has a pair of orange scissors hanging from the handlebar, for opening mail. Virginia likes the pet’s green eyes. She likes that it’s there in the morning, when she wakes up. Sometimes, on days when she feels sad, she sits in her soft armchair and rests the cat on her soft stomach and just lets it do its thing. Nuzzle. Stretch. Vibrate. Virginia knows that the cat is programmed to move this way; there is a motor somewhere, controlling things. Still, she can almost forget. “It makes you feel like it’s real,” Virginia told me, the first time we spoke. “I mean, mentally, I know it’s not. But—oh, it meowed again!”
She named the cat Jennie, for one of the nice ladies who work at the local Department of the Aging in Cattaraugus County, a rural area in upstate New York, bordering Pennsylvania. It was Jennie (the person) who told her that the county was giving robot pets to old people like her. Did she want one? She could have a dog or a cat. A Meals on Wheels driver brought Virginia the pet, along with her daily lunch delivery. He was so eager to show it to her that he opened the box himself, instead of letting Virginia do it. The Joy for All Companion pet was orange with a white chest and tapered whiskers. Nobody mentioned that it was part of a statewide loneliness intervention….
(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
May 25, 1977 — On this day in 1977, Star Wars premiered. Later retitled as Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, it was written and directed by George Lucas. You know who the cast is so we’ll not list all of them here. Lucas envisioned the film as being in the tradition of Buck Rogers which he originally intended to remake but couldn’t get the rights to. Reception by critics and fans alike alike was fantastic with IguanaCon II voting it the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo over Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It holds a stellar ninety-six percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 25, 1915 – DeeDee Lavender. Four decades an active fan with husband Roy Lavender. Together served a term as Secretary-Treasurer of the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n). They’re in Harlan Ellison’s forewords to his collections I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream and Angry Candy; they knew Leigh Brackett & Edmond Hamilton, and were guests at the B&H homes in Ohio and California. They were part of a Southern California fannish social group called the Petards, named by one of Rick Sneary’s famous misspellings, hoist for host. Here she is with Roy at a Petards meeting in 1983, and thirty years earlier in New York (L to R, Bea Mahaffey, Hannes Bok, DeeDee, Roy, Stan Skirvin). (Died 1986) [JH]
Born May 25, 1916 – Charles Hornig. Published his fanzine The Fantasy Fan in 1933, thus First Fandom (i.e. active by at least the first Worldcon, 1939), and hired, age 17, by Hugo Gernsback to edit Wonder Stories. Founded the SF League with HG; later edited Fantasy; also Future and Science Fiction (they eventually combined); SF Quarterly. See his notes on Nycon I, the first Worldcon, here. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born May 25, 1926 – Phyllis Gotlieb. Prix Aurora for A Judgement of Dragons (note spelling; she was Canadian). The Sunburst Award is named for her first novel. A dozen SF novels, a score of shorter stories, eight poetry collections – the first being Who Knows One? Among her husband’s Physics students was Cory Doctorow’s father. (Died 2009) [JH]
Born May 25, 1935 — W. P. Kinsella. Best I’d say known for his novel Shoeless Joe which was adapted into the movie Field of Dreams, one of the few films that Kevin Costner is a decent actor in, ironic as the other is Bull Durham. Kinsella’s other genre novel is The Iowa Baseball Confederacy and it’s rather less well known than Shoeless Joe is but it’s excellent as well. He also edited Baseball Fantastic, an anthology of just what the title says they are. Given that he’s got eighteen collections of short stories listed on his wiki page, I’m reasonably sure his ISFDB page doesn’t come close to listing all his short stories. (Died 2016.) (CE)
Born May 25, 1939 — Ian McKellen, 82. Best known for being Magneto in the X-Men films, and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. I’m fairly sure his first genre role was as Dr. Faustus in an Edinburgh production of that play in the early Seventies. He also played Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre during that period. He’d played Captain Hook in Peter Pan at The Royal National Theatre, and was the voice of the Demon in The Exorcist in the UK tour of that production. Of course he was Dr. Reinhardt Lane in The Shadow, The Narrator in Stardust, Sherlock Holmes in Mr. Holmes, Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast and finally he’s the Gus the Theatre Cat in the best forgotten Cats. (CE)
Born May 25, 1946 — Frank Oz, 75. Actor, director including The Dark Crystal, Little Shop of Horrors and the second version of The Stepford Wives, producer and puppeteer. His career began as a puppeteer, where he performed the Muppet characters of Animal, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and oh-so-patriotic Sam Eagle in The Muppet Show, and Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street. Genre wise, he’s also known for the role of Yoda in the Star Wars franchise. An interesting Trivia note: he’s in the Blues Brothers as a Corrections Officer, and is the Warden in Blues Brothers 2000. (CE)
Born May 25, 1949 — Barry Windsor-Smith, 72. Illustrator and painter, mostly for Marvel Comics. Oh, his work on Conan the Barbarian in the early Seventies was amazing, truly amazing! And then there was the original Weapon X story arc involving Wolverine which still ranks among the best stories told largely because of his artwork. And let’s not forget that he and writer Roy Thomas created Red Sonja as partially based on Howard’s characters Red Sonya of Rogatino and Dark Agnes de Chastillon. (CE)
Born May 25, 1950 – Kathryn Daugherty. Engineer. Married four decades to James Stanley Daugherty. At Bucconeer the 56th Worldcon, headed Contents of Tables; a typo made it “Contests of Tables”: in each newsletter I announced “Today’s winner is the Picnic”, “Today’s winner is the Periodic”. Chaired Westercon LIII, a hard one: it was at Honolulu, see my report here [PDF; p. 11]. Luckily not exhausted; she and JSD were Fan Guests of Honor at Baycon 2001, Loscon 36. OGH’s appreciation here. (Died 2012) [JH]
Born May 25, 1953 – Stan Sakai, age 68. Lettered Groo the Wanderer comics; since 1984, author of Usagi Yôjinbô comics about samurai rabbit Miyamoto Usagi, who has (wouldn’t you know it) crossed paths with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The rônin life is hard. During the most recent Year of the Rabbit (2011), the Japanese-American Nat’l Museum in Los Angeles had an Usagi Yôjinbô exhibit. Parents’ Choice award, an Inkpot, six Eisners, an Inkwell, two Harveys, two Haxturs (Spain), a Plumilla de Plata (Mexico), a Cultural Ambassador award, and a Nat’l Cartoonists Society award. [JH]
Born May 25, 1966 — Vera Nazarian, 55. To date, she has written ten novels including Dreams of the Compass Rose, what I’d called a mosaic novel structured as a series of interlinked stories similar in tone to The One Thousand and One Nights that reminds me more than a bit of Valente’s The Orphans Tales. She’s the publisherof Norilana Books which publishes such works as Catherynne M. Valente’s Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress anthologies,and Tabitha Lee’s Lee’s Sounds and Furies. (CE)
Born May 25, 1982 – Bertrand Bonnet, age 39. Six dozen reviews in Bifrost (French-language prozine; European SF Society award for Best Magazine, 2016), of Blish, Herbert, Le Guin, Pohl (with and without Kornbluth), Resnick, Strugatsky, Tolkien (including the Letters, yay). [JH]
What is it like being a Marvel Comics artist? For Malaysian artist Alan Quah, it is nothing short of having a wish granted.
“It is a dream come true, because I collected Marvel Comics when I was really really young. When I became a teenager I drew comics for a living, then I left the [comics] industry for 15 years to venture into advertising. Then I came back and tried my luck drawing comics for the American market again,” said Alan Quah, who became a cover artist for Marvel Comics in late January this year.
The Petaling Jaya-based artist mainly does comic book covers for Marvel Comics in a work-for-hire agreement. In the United States, comics retailers may sometimes commission a cover for an issue of a comic. These covers are known as retailer exclusive variant covers. Comics retailers will liaise with Marvel Comics to determine the requirements and specifications of the cover art. Marvel Comics will then get in touch with Quah to create the artwork, along with all the relevant stakeholders.
Since joining Marvel Comics, he has worked on covers for the following titles: Alien, The Spider’s Shadow, Venom, and The Marvels (not related to the 1994 series Marvels, which was told from the perspective of man-on-the-street Phil Sheldon)….
(13) I KNOW — YOU’RE FROM THE SIXTIES! A teaser trailer forLast Night in Soho has dropped. Opens in theaters this October.
Edgar Wright’s psychological thriller about a young girl, passionate in fashion design, who is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer. But 1960s London is not what it appears, and time seems to fall apart with shady consequences…
(14) FASHION SHOW. Someone on eBay is selling thisUFO-themed “Space Shopping” Hermes scarf. They want $629 – but you can pay on monthly installments! This is not something to blow your nose on.
Spanish police are investigating the death of a 39-year-old man whose body was found inside a dinosaur statue.
Authorities were alerted on Saturday after a father and his son noticed a smell emanating from the papier-mâché figure in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, a suburb of Barcelona.
The father then saw the corpse through a crack in the Stegosaurus’ hollow leg.
Police said the man had been reported missing by his family, and no foul play is suspected.
Three fire brigade teams were called to scene after the body was discovered, and firefighters cut open the dinosaur leg to retrieve it.
Local media report the man – who has not been named – was trying to retrieve a mobile phone he dropped inside the statue. He then fell inside the decorative figure and was left trapped upside down, unable to call for help.
Rachel Bloom’s performance at Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention. She was at the convention because her song “Fuck Me Ray Bradbury” was nominated for a Hugo award. Sorry about the poor lighting. The room was set up for a disco, and Rachel gave a short performance.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Pokémon Snap”, Fandom Games says that this Pokémon movie where you take photos instead of shooting people, is the gaming equivalent of “a little amusement park ride and some photos at the end.”
[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, N., Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Tom Galloway, Cora Buhlert, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Cat Rambo.]
This novella has everything to do with the dead: the dead lost, the dead loved, and the dead by the wider world forgotten. These are the first dead people we meet, and it was important to me that they be nameless, rendered useful through some indifferent court sorcerer’s work decades ago. This is all we get of them, and they are far less glamorous than the ghost who shows up just a few paragraphs later, the one who has a name, a family line, and a title (the title of this novella, as a matter of fact).
Nino Cipri is on both the Nebula and Hugo Awards ballots for their novella Finna. Its sequel, Defekt, was released last month. Their 2019 story collection Homesick won the Dzanc Short Fiction Collection Prize, was a finalist for the World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson awards, and was chosen as one of the top 10 books on the ALA’s Over the Rainbow Reading List. Their fiction has been published in Tordotcom, Fireside, Nightmare, Daily Science Fiction, and other places. Their YA horror debut, Burned and Buried, will be published by Holt Young Readers in 2022.
We discussed how they made peace with the heat death of the universe, the way their favorite endings also feel like beginnings, the false assumption things will always get better, how their award-nominated novella started out as a screenplay, their trouble with titles and fascination with trees, the many pleasures of ambiguity, how we almost lost them to mortuary science, why they’ve been called a verbal terrorist, and much more.
(3) GREENLIGHT. Hugh Howey tells how “The WOOL TV show” finally made it over the event horizon.
WOOL is coming to Apple TV in partnership with AMC.
I’ve written about the origin of the WOOL novels in the past, so I won’t bore you with that. But the road to adapting the trilogy for the screen has been just as wild and twisty. It started back when I was still working in a bookstore, watching my sales take off, and I had to violate my boss’s policy of having cell phones at our desk because I was expecting a call from Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian.
It was around this time that I put in my two-weeks notice. Not because I was fielding calls from legends of cinema, but I was starting to earn more from my book sales than I was from selling other people’s books. It was going to be a better use of my time to write more stories. Back then, all I wanted was to support myself with my art, rather than doing it on the side. I didn’t take the film deal seriously, because I knew that these projects don’t actually get made. I wrote a Twitter thread about this recently. Nothing ever gets made.
I was right, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The folks at Fox produced two excellent scripts and attached a few directors, and we nearly crested the hill once or twice. But I kept my expectations low the entire time. I’ve watched others go through development hell over the years and knew how easily the wheels can come off. …
The long and short of it is that this isn’t a normal “hey this thing got optioned” announcement. It’s a “people are building sets and going over their lines” announcement. Sound stages are booked. Travel plans are being made. We might just be over the hill….
Last week, I went over some elements of your draft that are easy to fix up in subsequent drafts; as a result, it is often more beneficial to just get words on the page for these elements, instead of fretting about them and letting them slow your progress down. On the flipside of the coin, there are a few story elements that are important to get right in your first draft. If they need changes down the line, they can be significantly more time-consuming to fix later on.
In Northfield, a large portion of my time into editing went into fixing logical inconsistencies and continuity errors. For instance, if characters went from A to B, the reasoning would sometimes be unclear, or there would be a more sensible option sitting right in my face. I then either had to clarify the reasoning, or I had to change the characters’ journey to follow a different route. Even minor changes were incredibly time consuming. Rewriting a passage is the least of it. Because something about the plot changed, I would often have to go and rewrite multiple other passages that referenced the plot point I changed. From there, I would have to re-read through the novel, to make sure every dialogue and narrative passage incorporated the change.
Because of this, I would highly suggest having a solid grasp of your plot. Not only on the bullet points of what happens, but the reasoning of WHY for each element….
Four-time Oscar winner Ben Burtt has crafted and created sounds we all know—from the heavy-breathing of Darth Vader to the pops and squeaks of R2D2, not to mention the voices of WALL-E and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. He’s been obsessed with sounds since he was a boy and has never lost that passion, which comes through in everything he does—including this interview with two of his biggest fans, Leonard and Jessie. (Did someone say Wilhelm?)
Today is May 21st, known to many as Empire Day, the anniversary of when The Empire Strikes Back opened in theaters.
Here’s an excerpt from my book, “Star Wars Memories”, about what happened that night.
Opening Night for The Empire Strikes Back
Officially, The Empire Strikes Back was opening on Wednesday evening, May 21st. But there were theaters which would have their first showings earlier that day. Mid-afternoon. Maybe even in the morning.
But the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood was going to be having its first showing at one minute after midnight Tuesday night. Technically very, very early Wednesday morning.
This was, of course, the theater that the fans were standing in line in front of on Monday morning.
A few of us from the publicity department went down early, to meet and mingle with the people in line. Or I should say “lines”. There were people in line for the 12:01 am screening. The 2:30 am screening. And the 5:00 am screening. The lines wrapped all the way around the block….
That’s just the beginning of the story. Some others claim today is —
Yoda, talk like. Simple, it is. Add verb and subject at the end of your sentence in the order of object-subject-verb.
(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
May 21, 1985 — Ray Bradbury Theater premiered on HBO. It ran for two seasons on there from 1985 to 1986, and then for four additional seasons on USA Network from 1988 to 1992. All 65 episodes were written by Bradbury and many were based on works he had previously written. The Ray Bradbury Theater site has the best look at the series. You can watch the first episode, “Marionettes, Inc.“ here.
Born May 21, 1688 – Alexander Pope. Secondmost quoted author in English (after Shakespeare); e.g. “damning with faint praise”. Mock-heroic epic The Rape of the Lock (“lock” i.e. of hair; “rape” meaning “carry away by force”, same root as “raptor”) has sylphs. Superb translations – if you are mainly looking for what wonderful English poetry AP could make, not accuracy, because you know enough Greek to read the original, as Sam Johnson did, or don’t care – of Homer’s Iliad and (with collaborators) Odyssey. (Died 1744) [JH]
Born May 21, 1889 — Arthur Hohl. He’s Mr. Montgomery, the man who helps Richard Arlen and Leila Hyams to make their final escape in Island of Lost Souls, the 1932 adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau which is considered the first such filming of that novel. Gene adjacent, he’ll show later in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Three Musketeers and The Devil-Doll. (Died 1964.) (CE)
Born May 21, 1903 — Manly Wade Wellman. I remember reading the John the Balladeer collection Karl E. Wagner did and then seeking out the rest of those stories. Amazing stuff! I liked the Complete John Thunstone when I read it a few years back. — strongly recommended. What else by him should I read? (Died 1986.) (CE)
Born May 21, 1911 – Virginia Haviland. Librarian, author, folklorist, student of children’s literature. Reviewed for The Horn Book thirty years. Sixteen volumes of Favorite Fairy Tales, one each for Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Sweden. Founded Center for Children’s Literature, U.S. Lib’y of Congress. Kate Greenaway Medal for The Mother Goose Treasury. Regina Medal. Grolier Award. Simmons Univ. gives a Virginia Haviland scholarship. (Died 1988) [JH]
Born May 21, 1915 — Bill Williams. He appeared on Science Fiction Theater in five different roles, and played The Millionaire on Batman in “Fine Finny Fiends” and “ Batman Makes the Scenes”. He also made an appearance on The Wild Wild West in “Night of the Casual Killer“ as Marshal Kirby. He also did a lot of seriously pulpish SF films such as Space Master X-7. (Died 1992) (CE)
Born May 21, 1918 — Jeanne Bates. She’s Diana Palmer in the Forties The Phantom serial, possibly the first one done. Her first genre was as Miss Norcutt in The Return of the Vampire, an unauthorized sequel to Lugosi’s 1931 Universal Studios film Dracula. Most of the films she’s known for are such horror films such as The Soul of a Monster and Back from the Dead. (Died 2007.) (CE)
Born May 21, 1945 — Richard Hatch. He’s best known for his role as Captain Apollo in Battlestar Galactica. He is also widely known for his role as Tom Zarek in the second Battlestar Galactica series. He also wrote a series of Battlestar Galactica franchise novels co-authored with Christopher Golden, Stan Timmons, Alan Rodgers and Brad Linaweaver. (Died 2017.) (CE)
Born May 21, 1951 – Broeck Steadman, age70. Eighty covers, two hundred sixty interiors, for Analog, Asimov’s (see here), Realms of Fantasy, SF Age; books, see here, here; postage stamps, see here, here; murals, see here, here. Keeps bees. Twenty years running an art school with up to forty students a week. Has done art for liquor bottles, soda cans, cars, jet planes, computers, toothpaste, chocolate. [JH]
Born May 21, 1953 — Trevor Cooper, 68. He plays Takis in the Sixth Doctor story, “Revelation of the Daleks“, and then will show up as Friar Tuck in a Twelfth Doctor story, “Robot of Sherwood”. He’s currently playing Colin Devis in Star Cops, and he was Simeon in the Wizards vs. Aliens series before that.(CE)
Born May 21, 1958 – Jeff Canfield. Photographer, system-software specialist, Formula Vee racer (he drove a Viper, which ought to count). Recruited Kevin Standlee. One of four founding directors, San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc. Deputy vice-chair of 51st Worldcon, editor of its Program Book, timekeeper of its Preliminary Business Meeting, and its Speaker to Dr. Evil. See here. (Died 2014) [JH]
Born May 21, 1984 – Jackson Pearce, age 37.As You Wish, young-adult urban fantasy; four books based on Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel & Gretel, The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen. With Maggie Stiefvater, Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures, two more. Tsarina (as by J. Nelle Patrick), historical fantasy. YouTube channel with 200 videos, 12,000 subscribers. Her Website says “Young Adult 58%, Middle Grade 42%, Baked Goods 85%, Glitter 100%”. [JH]
(10) PEACH MOMOKO. Titan Comics is bringing out a portfolio that showcases the covers of Peach Momoko from the best-selling Horizon Zero Dawn comic. Each cover is removable to display as a high-quality poster. Goes on sale September 7.
PEACH MOMOKO is a Japanese illustrator who began exhibiting at US comic conventions back in 2014 and saw American publication with a couple of stories picked up by Grant Morrison when he was EIC of Heavy Metal Magazine. Since then, she has become the hottest cover art variant creator in the business, increasingly in demand, drawing over a dozen covers for American publishers every month.
Here is the portfolio cover and two interior pages.
…WHEN MARVEL STUDIOS announced Shang-Chi in 2018, Liu uttered the same “WTF” as every other comic-book fan. He remembers staying up late and scouring the Marvel web to learn about the character, and the more he uncovered, the more he grew disenchanted. Instead of raiding the comics for an ultrastrong hero (like Amadeus Cho, the Korean Hulk) or superhero royalty (like Namor, Marvel’s version of Aquaman), Marvel found its first Asian lead in?.?.?.?a Bruce Lee clone. Shang-Chi was created in the 1970s because Marvel wanted a version of Lee, and he’s the son of Fu Manchu, perhaps the worst Chinese stereotype. Early stories had him speaking in broken-English phrases. His superpower? Kung fu. “I was almost disappointed,” Liu says. “I was like, how many opportunities do we have for Asian superheroes, and this one guy is, like, just a kung fu master? It just felt kind of reductive and, you know, not true to life and not anything that I could relate to.”
It seemed like another misstep from Marvel, which had repeatedly slighted Asians. Twice in the studio’s first decade, MCU films rewrote iconic Asian characters onscreen, first whitewashing the villainous Mandarin into Ben Kingsley in 2013’s Iron Man 3, then casting Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in 2016’s Doctor Strange. Swinton’s casting, after ten years of films with next to no Asian representation, was especially vexing, since the film still placed her character in Nepal, a South Asian country. Marvel initially claimed it had chosen Swinton to prevent the character from fulfilling an Asian stereotype. Fans called bullshit. Five years later, Marvel head Kevin Feige doesn’t argue. “We thought we were being so smart and so cutting-edge,” he told me in a Zoom interview. “We’re not going to do the cliché of the wizened, old, wise Asian man. But it was a wake-up call to say, ‘Well, wait a minute, is there any other way to figure it out? Is there any other way to both not fall into the cliché and cast an Asian actor?’ And the answer to that, of course, is yes.”
Since Marvel Studios’ inception, Feige says, the studio has had a binder of “great characters who could make great movies regardless of how famous they were.” Shang-Chi was in that binder, because stereotypes aside, it’s a very Disney story: In the comics, the character discovers his father’s true nature, fakes his own death, and runs away. “You break through that and become a hero,” says Feige. “It was always a really, really great story.” Because of the character’s obscurity, Marvel could reinvent Shang-Chi in ways it couldn’t alter Spider-Man or Captain America. The MCU version can (and will) fight, but his new origin story cuts deeper. “It’s about having a foot in both worlds,” says Feige, “in the North American world and in China. And Simu fits that quite well.”
Before you blast off to Walt Disney World to stay in its Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel when it opens in 2022, there’s a little something you should know first: you’re not allowed to leave after check-in.
Yup, the Disney Star Wars Hotel is an immersive three-day, two-night experience that involves operating a spaceship, going to battle, and much more. The hotel is anything but a vacation – in fact, you’re even given a space communicator that resembles a cell phone for “resistance meetings.” Similar to an escape room, you have to stay until the experience is complete (you’ll be in space, after all), so prepare for a fun (and perhaps exhausting) 60 hours. The good news is that the hotel has a lounge called the “Silver C” where you can sip on strong adult beverages from around the world and play a few rounds of Sabaac to unwind….
If all the eldritch things that lurk at the bottom of the sea, crinoids, many of which appear to be submerged lilies from an alien world, have to be some of the weirdest. They only get weirder if they have many-tentacled corals sticking to them.
These creatures only sound fictional. Some 273 million years ago, any evidence of a symbiotic relationship between Metacrinus rotundus crinoids and non-skeletal coral species Abyssoanthus and Metridioidea hexacorals vanished from the fossil record. Now they have resurfaced out of nowhere (unless some intervention with the Great Old Ones was involved) — and not as fossils. These life-forms still exist in symbiosis (shown above), with the hexacoral catching an easy meal from whatever might come the crinoid’s way as it sways back and forth….
(14) EARLY SENDAK. Publishers Weekly reports:
Through July 10, readers of Maurice Sendak will have the opportunity to view original drawings by the acclaimed children’s book author and illustrator that have not previously been shown to the public at the exhibit and sale “Maurice Sendak: Genius of American Picture Books,” now open at the Society of Illustrators headquarters in New York and available via a virtual tour and catalogue on the Society’s website. Pictured here is one of the exhibit’s highlights: Sendak’s first published book illustration, created for his science teacher in 1946 as a high school project, titled ‘Seven Boys Pulling on a Horse.’
Sometimes a movie is objectively good and sometimes it’s subjectively amazing because you saw it at the right time and were the target audience. It ignited your imagination, shook you with possibilities. As far as I’m concerned, Flight of the Navigator is such a film.
It’s a classic tale. You know: a boy has a crush on a girl, gets kidnapped by an AI spaceship from another galaxy, returns eight years later having not aged a day, becomes the subject of intense study by the all-powerful… NASA, manages to escape their clutches, reunites with the spaceship, which needs navigation data it stored in his brain, and goes on a joyride around the world, never even thinking about his crush again!
If that doesn’t sound awesome, then you weren’t a kid in 1986. And that’s on you.
But as a… kind of adult now, I admit, the unusual tone of the movie may have partly been an accident, a result of two companies pulling in two different directions. For the American audience, Disney wanted heart-warming family drama. For the international market, PSO needed less dialogue, more action-driven spectacle.
And somehow, against all odds, despite a bunch of similar genre movies failing at the box office the previous year, the director, Randal Kleiser, pulled it off. He made a film that leaps effortlessly from wild flying chases to heart-to-heart chats, to moody musical interludes, composed by Alan Silvestri…
[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, N., Will R., Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Joe H.]
… The movie posters used to promote the movies have sometimes become as iconic as some of the movie moments themselves. These are 25 of the iconic works of art that have become some of the most memorable Star Wars images over the years….
1. The Phantom Menace teaser poster
After a decade and a half without a new Star Wars movie coming to theaters, The Phantom Menace was announced. We would all finally get to experience the first chapter of the saga.
There were rumors as to what we would get to see and more than a few images released of the movie being worked on, but this was the first official image we got advertising the upcoming movie — and really the trilogy as a whole. The image of a 9-year-old Anakin casting a Darth Vader shadow on the wall hit the world with a bang…
The second movie in the original trilogy is the one Bradbury almost co-wrote.
In the early 1940s, the writer studied with Leigh Brackett, a pioneer for women and the melodramatic space opera in science fiction. That gave way to a collaboration with “Lorelei of the Red Mist,” a novella about a powerful, siren-like woman who controls the strong, barbarian body that a convict has recently been transplanted in.Brackett went on to become a screenwriter and was a co-writer with Larry Kasdan on the “Empire” script. But she was in failing health, so the producer asked Bradbury whether he was familiar enough with her work to finish it if she couldn’t.
“Ray Bradbury said, ‘Yes, I do. But I want her to have credit,’ ” center director Jon Eller said.As it turned out, Brackett completed her draft before she died in 1978, so Bradbury never had to work on it.
But the script — a fourth revision that doesn’t even contain Darth Vader’s big reveal to Luke because that detail was so secretive — remains part of Bradbury’s collection.
(4) THE LOREMASTER. Craig Miller, author of the superb Star Wars Memories, shared a joke with Facebook readers that got an immediate laugh from George Lucas and Gary Kurtz at the time, and that he needs to explain to the rest of us.
…And now, the story. This is one that appears in my book, Star Wars Memories (available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Walmart). More, and less obscure, stories throughout Star Wars Season.
Suggesting a Title for Film #3
(Warning: This story has a punch line. But it requires deep knowledge of both Star Wars lore and motion picture history in order to get it. I’ll explain it at the end but it won’t be as funny – maybe not funny at all – if I have to explain it you.)…
(5) LOCATING THE LOCATIONS. And Craig has definitely been to some of the places in “The Real Star Wars Universe” charted by Statista. (Click for larger image.)
(6) BIGGS SAVED FROM THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR. “Star Wars: A New Hope – Deleted Scenes” on YouTube is 8 1/2 minutes of footage cut from Star Wars, including several scenes with Garrick Hagon as Biggs Darklighter that never appeared in the final cut of Star Wars.
In an auction house far, far away (well, Bristol actually), the enduring power of the force was clear.
A Darth Vader helmet sold for £2,200, more than five times the top estimate, and a signed picture of Alec Guinness in his Obi-Wan Kenobi robes was snapped up for £3,100, treble what was anticipated.
Someone, somewhere, paid £9,000 for a prototype lightsaber, the weapon of choice of Jedi knights in the Star Wars saga, which the Earthlings at East Bristol Auctions had judged might bring in £80-£120.
Hundreds of items hoarded and collected by David Prowse, the Bristolian who played Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, were sold off in his home city following his death, aged 85, last year.
Naturally the sale took place on May the 4th…
(8) DISSENTING VOICES. Not everybody is attuned to the spirit of the day.
Controversies From this article we learned that Amazon has an executive who serves as director of book content risk and quality, Sarah Castle. It was her job to assess internal complaints from “dozens of Amazon employees” asking the company to stop selling Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, by journalist Abigail Shrier, arguing that the book violates Amazon’s recently stated policy against selling books “that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.” The Seattle Times reports that Castle told employees on an internal message board, “After examining the content of the book in detail and calibrating with senior leadership, we have confirmed that it does not violate our content policy.”
In 1993, Rachel Pollack took over DC/Vertigo’s Doom Patrol following Grant Morrison’s star-making turn on the book. Her run lasted 25 issues, but has never been collected – but has begun making its way to DC digital platforms recently.
Among the memorable stories is the initial ‘Sliding In the Wreckage’ arc, as well as the introduction of Kate Godwin (Coagula) – the first trans superhero for DC or Marvel comic books. Over the course of her run, Pollack touched on concepts of family, fitting in, and making a path for yourself in a world that didn’t have a set path for you.
Newsarama spoke to Pollack earlier this month about her Doom Patrol run, her prose work such as the new novella collection The Fissure King, and her poised return to comic books.
Newsarama: Rachel, what are you working on today?
Rachel Pollack: I’m actually typing up a second draft of a story called ‘Visible Cities.’ I always write everything longhand with fountain pen and then type it up, and that’s my second draft. I’m doing that at the moment. And then I’m preparing for a trip to Scotland.
Two years after announcing that he had retired from comics, Alan Moore, the illustrious author of Watchmen and V for Vendetta, has signed a six-figure deal for a “groundbreaking” five-volume fantasy series as well as a “momentous” collection of short stories.
Bloomsbury, home to the Harry Potter novels, acquired what it described as two “major” projects from the 67-year-old. The first, Illuminations, is a short story collection which will be published in autumn 2022 and which moves from the four horsemen of the apocalypse to the “Boltzmann brains” fashioning the universe. Bloomsbury said it was “dazzlingly original and brimming with energy”, promising a series of “beguiling and elegantly crafted tales that reveal the full power of imagination and magic”.
The second acquisition is a fantasy quintet titled Long London, which will launch in 2024. The series will move from the “shell-shocked and unravelled” London of 1949 to “a version of London just beyond our knowledge”, encompassing murder, magic and madness. Bloomsbury said it “promises to be epic and unforgettable, a tour-de-force of magic and history”….
(12) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
May 4, 1962 — The Twilight Zone‘s “The Dummy”.
“You’re watching a ventriloquist named Jerry Etherson, a voice-thrower par excellence. His alter ego, sitting atop his lap, is a brash stick of kindling with the sobriquet ‘Willie.’ In a moment, Mr. Etherson and his knotty-pine partner will be booked in one of the out-of-the-way bistros, that small, dark, intimate place known as the Twilight Zone.“
On this day in 1962, The Twilight Zone aired “The Dummy”. It was written by: Rod Serling from an unpublished story by Lee Polk. It was directed by Abner Biberman and produced by Buck Houghton. It starred Cliff Robertson, Frank Sutton and George Murdock. An average ventriloquist finds he has a not-so-average and quite horrifying dummy. The plot here would later influence many other series including Batman: The Animated Series with its own terrifying animated apparent dummy.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 4, 1893 – Alfred Pollard. Four novels for us; outside our field, crime and war stories, fiction and non, threescore books all told. Served in World War I, earned the Victoria Cross. (Died 1960) [JH]
Born May 4, 1909 — Ray Quigley. Here solely for the three covers that he did for Weird Tales in the Forties. He didn’t do a lot of pulp work that I can find but these three are amazing. He did the December 1938 cover with the Dracula-like figure, the September 1940 cover with the nightmarish skull-faced Bombers and finally the May 1942 cover with the really scary living ship. The latter issue had Henry Kuttner, Robert Bloch and Dorothy Quick listed on the cover! (Died 1998.) (CE)
Born May 4, 1913 — John Broome. DC writer during the Golden Age. He’s responsible for the creation of an amazing number of characters including The Phantom Stranger, Per Degaton (with artist Irwin Hansen), Captain Comet and Elongated Man (with Carmine Infantino), Atomic Knight and one of my favorite characters, Detective Chimp. The DC UNIVERSE streaming app has his work on The Flash starting on issue #133 and the entire early Fifities run of Mystery in Space that he wrote as well. (Died 1999.) (CE)
Born May 4, 1920 — Phyllis Miller. She co-wrote several children’s books with Andre Norton, House of Shadows and Seven Spells to Sunday. Ride the Green Dragon, a mystery, is at best genre adjacent but it too was done with Norton. (Died 2001.) (CE)
Born May 4, 1940 – Bob Layzell, age 80. Threescore covers, a score of interiors. Here is Farthest Star. Here is Drunkard’s Walk. Here is Dangerous Frontiers. Here is A Trace of Memory. Here is The Grey Prince. [JH]
Born May 4 (year unknown) – Ernie Wheatley. Known as the Dormouse of the LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Soc.) for falling asleep with his head on his arms at table during restaurant after-meetings, raising it to speak aptly, sleeping again. Once after we had adopted “Death will not release you” and someone uttered it on some such occasion EW piped up “Even if you die!” which was promptly added. In 1960 while Westerns were big, also home-made films, and fanfiction meant fiction about fans, Lee Jacobs wrote “The Musquite Kid Rides Again” for SAPS about a transparently-disguised Wrai Ballard; it was filmed; here is EW as “Killer Kemp” i.e. Earl Kemp who by then had won a Hugo for Who Killed SF? [JH]
Born May 4, 1943 — Erwin Strauss, 78. I’m not sure I can do him justice. Uberfan, noted member of the MITSFS, and filk musician. He frequently is known by the nickname “Filthy Pierre” which I’m sure is a story in itself that one of you will no doubt tell me. Created the Voodoo message board system used at a number of early Cons and published an APA, The Connection, that ran for at least thirty years. Do tell me about him. (CE)
Born May 4, 1956 — Murray McArthur, 65. He first shows on Doctor Who in “The Girl Who Died”, a Twelfth Doctor story before being The Broken Man on The Game of Thrones. He also shows up as a stagehand in the historical drama Finding Neverland before playing Snug in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (CE)
Born May 4, 1957 – Nancy Canepa, Ph.D., age 64. Here is Teaching Fairy Tales she edited. Professor at Dartmouth. “My teaching and research centers on early modern Italy (1550-1700). I’m particularly fascinated by the development of new literary forms and languages during this period, in genres that range from the fairy tale to the mock epic to the travelogue.” [JH]
Born May 4, 1960 – Kate Saunders, age 61. A dozen novels, a couple of shorter stories for us; two dozen books all told, some for adults, some for children. Newspapers, magazines, radio, television. Trask Award. Costa Children’s Book Award. [JH]
Born May 4, 1974 – James Bacon, 47. He’s a 14-time Hugo nominee, as a fan writer and as co-editor of The Drink Tank and Journey Planet, and a two-time winner — one Hugo with each fanzine. James was the 2004 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate: download his trip report at the unofficial TAFF website, WorldConNomicon. In addition to working on Irish convention Octocon, he ran his own conventions: Aliens Stole My Handbag, Damn Fine Convention, and They Came and Shaved Us. Ultimately he chaired the Dublin 2019 Worldcon. He ran Sproutlore—the Robert Rankin Fan Club. With fellow fans he established The James White Award, an annual short-story competition. And he often contributes to File 770! (OGH)
Born May 4, 1977 — Gail Carriger, 44. Ahhhh such lovely mannerpunk she writes! I think I first noticed her with the start of the Finishing School series which she started off with Etiquette & Espionage some six years ago. Moirai Cook does a delightful job of the audiobooks so I recommend that you check them out. I also love the two novellas in her Supernatural Society series as well. (CE)
Born May 4, 1978 – Shaenon Garrity, age 43. A score of short stories. Known for Webcomics Narbonic and Skin Horse. Interviewed in Lightspeed. Web Cartoonists’ Choice Award for Outstanding Writing. Lulu of the Year Award. Summa cum laude from Vassar. Website. [JH]
To celebrate May the 4th (aka Star Wars Day), the Mouse House’s theme park division revealed a short video of the potentially patented lightsaber (it works kinda like a high-tech, dual measuring tape) — wielded by a cast member dressed as Rey — in action, and it’s beyond cool.
(16) A SHARPER IMAGE. Jeff Foust reviews the Folio Society Edition of Andrew Chaikin’s famous history of the Apollo missions for The Space Review: “Review: A Man on the Moon”.
…To be clear, the text of the book is unchanged from earlier editions: this is not a revised or expanded version. The only new words in this version is a brief preface by Chaikin, which he uses to explain the other major change of the book: the inclusion of nearly 200 color and black-and-white photos that he curated for the book. As high-quality digital versions of the photos became available in the years after he first wrote the book, he explains, “I was amazed at the details I could now see; I felt they had opened a new portal I could step through to witness what the astronauts had seen and done.”
This is not the first illustrated edition of the book, but this version strikes a better balance between the photos and text than that earlier three volume set, where the images at times drowned out the text. Here the images are better ties to the text, and include a mix of obvious famous pictures as well as less-famous ones from the missions or training for them. The book includes fold-out color plates, such as one that combines several views of the Earth taken by the Apollo 8 mission on its way to the Moon; it illustrates the spacecraft’s journey by showing our home planet get ever smaller.
The real value of A Man on the Moon, though, remains Chaikin’s account of the missions, enabled by his interviews with the Apollo astronauts. At the time he started the book, all but one of the 24 men who went to the Moon on nine Apollo missions were still alive (Apollo 13’s Jack Swigert died of cancer in 1982.) Enough times had passed for the astronauts to reflect on their journeys, but not so long that we would lose the chance to have them recount their experiences….
Every two years, international governmental and space agencies take part in a tabletop scenario as part of the Planetary Defense Conference. In this exercise, a space rock is discovered to be heading toward Earth and members of different agencies have to work out what are the best things to do to try and avoid catastrophe.
… The second day also sees a detailed look at what missions could be sent to deflect such an asteroid. And it’s not good news. The asteroid is too close and too fast (and possibly too big) for a course correction. So you ought to hit it hard. Either a nuclear weapon, among the biggest, ever assembled during the Cold War, or shooting like dozens of rockets at it. With the risk that it would fragment and still crash into Earth.
“If confronted with the 2021 PDC hypothetical scenario in real life we would not be able to launch any spacecraft on such short notice with current capabilities,” members of the group stated….
…So folks, whether you hate the giant squid statue or find it ink-redible, what’s fin-ished is fin-ished.
(20) FLY CASTING. In “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say the series “comes from the military espionage side of the MCU, where the morals are as grey as the visuals” and that the cameo appearance of Julia Louis-Dreyfus leads them to speculate about when the rest of the Seinfeld cast will show up in the MCU. No spoiler warning – but who knows?
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The World Begins With You” on YouTube, Fandom Games says the game is set in “nightmare Tokyo a place where you have to worry about how good you will look when you’re dead” and is so busy that the game “will have you tapping at your screen like a crazed woodpecker.”
[Thanks to Peer, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Rob Thornton, John Hertz, Dann, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Jennifer Hawthorne, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day bill.]
… That leads right into one of my other questions. The central claim of the book is that, rather than being all that interested in the Ideal Face, we actually “love to play with faces, to make them into art.” Why do you think it is so important to emphasize art and play when thinking about the face?
I think that, when you have a very dominant model of something, like the face, you have to undo it not just through examples of things that contravene it — not just through counterexamples — but you have to actually build a positive model. In thinking about what playing with the face gives to us, I needed to present it not just as a kind of denigration or a sacrilegious desecration because we have this deification of the ideal face. So, I started thinking about what playing with faces actually grants us. And I thought, well, it actually starts shifting us to entirely different models of aesthetics and ethics and emotion.
(3) MEDICAL UPDATE. Heather Rose Jones tweeted today —
And later –
Hope she’s getting great care, and our wishes for a speedy return to health.
The idea that a personal literary canon is devised out of only literature has been disproven over and over again in this series of essays. Some people see comics as a key part of their development; others count anime and folktales. The very fact that the personal canon is multifaceted and multi-genre is key to the canon. And so, I want to add a key cornerstone of my canon: the audiobook for Cornelia Funke’s The Dragon Rider, Part 1.
Yes. Only Part 1….
(5) CRAIG MILLER WINS ANIMATION WRITING AWARD. Writers Guild of America gives an award, through its Animation Writers Caucus, that the Guild’s website calls the Animation Writing Award, informally a life-career award. Congratulations to Craig Miller, this year’s winner.
The official description says it’s “given to that member of the Animation Writers Caucus and/or the Guild who, in the opinion of the Board of Directors, has advanced the literature of animation in film and/or television through the years and who has made outstanding contributions to the profession of the animation writer”.
And this year, in an act of madness, they decided the recipient will be me.
I’m truly honored to get this award and hope I have and can continue to live up to it.
The Radiophonic Workshop has always broken new sonic ground, from the Doctor Who theme to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Now they’re at it again – this time using the internet as a musical instrument.
A performance of Latency will take place at a special online event on 22 November using a technique inspired by lockdown Zoom calls. The band includes composers from the original BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which created soundtracks for most BBC shows from the 60s to the 90s and influenced generations of musicians from Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfield to Aphex Twin, Orbital and Mary Epworth.
“The idea [of playing the internet] reflected our time,” said workshop member Peter Howell. “We’re all subject to the internet now in a way that we never thought we would be. And Bob and Paddy came up with an idea that is literally using what we’re all relying on for a creative purpose, using something that we’ve all taken for granted but in an artistic way.”
…The Only Good Indians, which received a starred review from PW and was recently named one of Time magazine’s 100 must-read books of 2020, tracks the lives of four young men who, during a hunt, commit a crime against an elk and their own Blackfeet Nation tribe. After walking away from the incident, they find themselves haunted by a mysterious entity bent on revenge, and realize that there are just some things one can’t take back.
What intrigued Monti about Jones’s novel was how it addressed reviving the horror genre. After seeing Jordan Peele’s Get Out, Monti said, he realized that “this is the way we’re gonna be able to talk about race and class and culture with a level of immediacy that other genres can’t”—and he believed Jones’s book nailed it. But Monti wasn’t the only one from Saga who saw the connection. Jackson was hooked from the prologue, going on to read the book in the course of a few days and immediately dubbing it “the Jordan Peele of Horror Literature.”
Johnson argues that Jones’s book is one of a number of recent releases to have proven that the horror genre isn’t as narrow as its reputation. Horror is a “statement about identity” in her view: “there are layers to these tropes, and if you really look deep, it’s saying a lot about who people are and what the world is like,” Johnson said, adding that “the tropes have a function [and] there’s something behind them.”…
… Over the Moon is, like any animated feature, the work of many people but everyone I interviewed took inspiration from its director, master animator Glen Keane.
Glen spent 37 years at the Disney studio and brought to life some of the modern era’s most indelible characters: Ariel in The Little Mermaid, the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, the young hero in Aladdin, the title characters in Pocahontas and Tarzan, and Rapunzel in Tangled, among others. Several years ago he won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Subject for Dear Basketball, a collaboration with the late Kobe Bryant.
This is officially his feature directing debut and as you would expect, he chose his team with care. That’s why Over the Moon looks so striking and its characters are so vivid….
(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
1975 — Forty five years ago at Aussiecon One which had John Bangsund as Toastmaster, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia by Ursula K. Le Guin wins the Best Novel Hugo. Runner-ups were Poul Anderson’s Fire Time, Philip K. Dick’s Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye andChristopher Priest’s Inverted World. First published by Harper & Row the previous year with cover art by Fred Winkowski, it would also win the Locus and Nebula Awards for Best SF Novel and be nominated for the Campbell Memorial, Ditmar and multiple Prometheus Awards being eventually voted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born November 15, 1877 — William Hope Hodgson. By far, his best known character is Thomas Carnacki, featured in several of his most famous stories and at least partly based upon Algernon Blackwood’s occult detective John Silence. (Simon R. Green will make use of him in his Ghost Finders series.) Two of his later novels, The House on the Borderland and The Night Land would be lavishly praised by H.P. Lovecraft. It is said that his horror writing influenced many later writers such as China Miéville, Tim Lebbon and Greg Bear but I cannot find a definitive source for that claim. (Died 1918.) (CE)
Born November 15, 1929 — Ed Asner, 91. Genre work includes roles on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Outer Limits, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., The Invaders, The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible, Shelley Duvall’s Tall Tales & Legends, Batman: The Animated Series and I’ll stop there as the list goes on for quite some while. (CE)
Born November 15, 1930 — J. G. Ballard. I’ll frankly admit that I’ve not read enough of him to render a coherent opinion of him as writer. What I’ve read such as The Drowned World is more than a bit depressing. Well yes, but really depressing. So tell me what you think of him. (Died 2009.) (CE)
Born November 15, 1939 — Yaphet Kotto, 81. As we count the Bond films as genre and I do, his first genre performance was as Dr. Kananga / Mr. Big in Live and Let Die. Later performances included Parker in Alien, William Laughlin in The Running Man, Doc in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, Ressler in The Puppet Masters adapted from Heinlein’s 1951 novel of the same name and he played a character named Captain Jack Clayton on SeaQuest DSV. (CE)
Born November 15, 1941 – Daniel Pinkwater, 79. The Golux (in The Thirteen Clocks, J. Thurber 1950) wears an indescribable hat; DP is almost indescribable. You may know he wrote The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death; seven dozen more; a dozen shorter stories. Sometimes he draws his own covers. He deserves fuller treatment – no – more rounded – no – expansive – anyhow, his Website is here (hint: if you want to know about the Semper admirare melongenum eggplant, find out about the talking pineapple: I can say no more). [JH]
Born November 15, 1942 – Ruth Berman, 78. Rhysling Award, Short Poem for “Potherb Gardening” (Asimov’s, Dec 02); Dwarf Stars Award for “Knowledge Of” (repr. 2008 Nebula Awards Showcase). Minnesota Fantasy Award. Two novels, thirty shorter stories, a hundred thirty poems. Nonfiction Patterns of Unification in “Sylvie and Bruno” (Lewis Carroll’s last novel, 1893); Who’s Who in the Borderlands of Oz. Guest of Honor at Minicon 6, MarsCon 2016. More here. Often seen in the letter column of Lofgeornost. [JH]
Born November 15, 1952 – Catherine Wells, 68. Five novels, a dozen shorter stories. “Builders of Leaf Houses” won the Analog 2015 AnLab award for Best Novella. Outside our field a novel Stones of Destiny about Macbeth (re-issued as Macbeatha). Plays in a jazz trio at church with her husband on drums, rides tandem bicycle with him. Thirty in her high school (Robinson, North Dakota); she was top in a class of five; when asked “Are you in the top 20% of your class?” she answered “I am the top 20% of my class.” Guest of Honor at TusCon 27. [JH]
Born November 15, 1958 – Scott Lefton, 62. Built the Hugo base for Noreascon 4 (62nd Worldcon). For the Hugo presentation at Sasquan (73rd Worldcon) by Kjell Lindgren from the Int’l Space Station via videoconference, SL made the Hugo rocket. SL’s Pitcher-Plant Lamp won Popular Choice – Best 3-Dimensional in the Arisia 2017 Art Show. [JH]
Born November 15, 1972 – Vadim Panov, 48. Aircraft radio engineer who started writing. Losers Launch Wars began an urban-fantasy series “The Secret City”, fourteen so far; Club Moscow began a cyberpunk series “The Enclaves”, five so far. [JH]
Born November 15, 1972 — Jonny Lee Miller, 48. British actor and director who played Sherlock Holmes on the exemplary Elementary series, but his first genre role was as a nine year-old with the Fifth Doctor, “Kinda”. While he’s had a fairly steady stage, film, and TV career across the pond since then, it’s only in the last decade that he’s become well-known in the States – unless, like JJ, you remember that 23 years ago he appeared in a shoddy technothriller called Hackers, with another unknown young actor named Angelina Jolie (to whom he ended up married, until they separated 18 months later). Other genre appearances include a trio of vampire films, Dracula 2000, Dark Shadows, and Byzantium, the live-action Æon Flux movie, and the lead in the pseudo-fantasy TV series Eli Stone. (CE)
Born November 15, 1977 – Ashley Knight, 43. Loves horses, has been a Rodeo Queen. Thereafter she became the Mermaid Lady and properly wrote a Fins trilogy; three more novels. [JH]
Since it premiered in 2019 on Disney+, the first ever live-action Star Wars TV series, The Mandalorian, has thrilled a galaxy of fans with its action-packed adventures. But how closely did you watch, and how well do you know the bounty of details? Strap on your jetpack and launch into our trivia quiz to test your knowledge and target an expert-level score.
If you ever want to put things in perspective, consider this: Less time separates human beings in history from Tyrannosaurus rex than T. rex from Stegosaurus. That’s right. While T. rex went extinct about 66 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous Period, the Jurassic Period’s stegosaurus roamed the Earth 83 million years before T. rex had even evolved. All told, dinosaurs ruled the planet for some 180 million years, while homo sapiens emerged a paltry 200,000 years ago.
That’s just one of many reasons our fascination with the terrible lizards is wholly justified. We’ve curated this Brachiosaurus-sized collection of 20 great articles all about dinosaurs and the people who obsess over them, including what dinosaurs looked like, what it’s like to be a paleontologist hunting for dinosaur fossils, and whether Jurassic Park could actually happen.
(15) TIME FOR A SITDOWN. In Episode 40 of Two Chairs Talking, “Lost in the labyrinth of words”, Perry Middlemiss and David Grigg discuss their recent reading across a variety of genres and spend quite a bit of time on Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, her first book in 14 years.
Now take a look at a few adorable behind the scenes shots featuring The Child Life-Size Figure during the filming of the promo. In the charming video narrated by actor Giancarlo Esposito, the Child Life-Size Figure featured alongside a young boy with ambitions of becoming a hero like the Mandalorian.
On November 24 at 6:00 PM PDT join NASA astronaut and International Space Station commander Colonel Terry Virts in conversation with Dr. Erik Viirre of UCSD Departments of Neurosciences, Surgery and Cognitive Science and the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination. How to Astronaut covers everything from training through launch, orbit, spacewalking, deep space, and re-entry. Colonel Virts and Dr. Viirre will discuss the science, emotions, and philosophies that an off-the-planet perspective can grant.
Colonel Terry Virts earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from the United States Air Force Academy in 1989, and a master of aeronautical science degree in aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Selected by NASA in 2000, he was the pilot of STS-130 mission aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour. In March 2015, Virts assumed command of the International Space Station, and spent over 200 days on it. Virts is one of the stars (and photographers) of the IMAX film, A Beautiful Planet, released in April 2016. He is also the author of View from Above. He lives near Houston.
Dr. Viirre has done research for the National Institutes of Health, the United States Navy’s Office of Naval Research, DARPA and NASA. He is a consultant for groups such as the National Academy of Science and a variety of Virtual Reality technology companies.
(18) HONEST GAME TRAILER. In “Honest Game Trailers: Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time,” Fandom Games says Crash Bandicoot is “gaming’s equivalent of a C-list celebrity” and dusting off this “mutated marsupial” is like having an “HD remake” of a popular ’90s franchise. The game features a Peter Lorre joke “that was ancient in the ’90s.”
[Thanks to Rose Embolism, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Ellen Datlow has been editing horror, fantasy, and science fiction short stories and novellas for over forty years. She’s won numerous awards and accolades for her work and has edited numerous best of anthologies along with short stories for magazine and book publishers. Subterranean Press is releasing a book on some of the best stories she’s edited. I spoke to Ellen about her work as an editor, about genre fiction, and about the business in general.
0:32: Ellen talks about how she got into editing and editing anthologies….
For the last couple of years, I’ve been visiting Steve Saling in Chelsea, Massachusetts, where he lives in a residence he designed for himself and a couple dozen other people, a mix of stunning “smart home” technology and human care that he created to arrive in time for his body’s big changes. Steve got a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in his late 30s. He’s 51 now. More than a dozen years into his condition, he has said repeatedly that his life is worth living—and that technology, in the absence of medicine, is “the cure.” Maybe that sounds like one more instance of overhyped claims for Silicon Valley—I would have thought so upon first hearing—but, over time, I came to understand what he meant.
In the architecture of the life that Steve created, I saw a kind of “anticipatory design”—to repurpose a term of Buckminster Fuller’s. At Saling House, the residence that bears Steve’s name, there are impressive digital devices that act, in one sense, as treatment: a whole array of ingenious software and hardware made to maximize his independence even as his body gradually changes. The sheer novelty of the engineering is impressive. But more impressive by far are the ideas packed into all his designed gear and services for life with little mobility—ideas about help, about needfulness. About assistance itself in every life. On my afternoons with him, my perspective and my vocabulary about giving and receiving help changed. Steve taught me to think differently about the plain fact of human needfulness and its role in a desirable life….
I enjoyed Bill & Ted Face the Music quite a bit, which is utterly unsurprising as I am both Gen-X, i.e., the generation of Bill and/or Ted, and also I used to live in San Dimas, home of Bill and Ted and the town in which almost all of this film takes place (fictionally; it doesn’t look like they did a whole lot of filming in actual San Dimas this time around). Also I am the fan of the first two films, particularly Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, the first film in history to successfully reference both Ingmar Bergman and the glam band Poison. What was surprising to me was that I teared up a bit at the end of this one. I know why, and I’ll tell you in a bit.
…In Dungeons & Dragons,everything pretty much goes as planned.
In the real world, the pressing themes—pandemic, climate change, state-sanctioned brutality, the government’s emphatic disinterest in functioning properly—lend themselves to a darker, more surreal plot. It is serious. We’re holed up in our homes. The absence of bars, physical workspaces, and cheap baseball tickets from our lives creates a sense of confused inertia. Are we a tenth of the way through the pandemic or halfway? Are we actually getting anywhere, or are we stuck in the last season of Lost? There is endless horizon in every direction—we’re measuring our time in hair growth, if at all.
D&D, on the other hand, is full of clear lines and brighter absurdities. I’m on my 18th session; I live in a tower on the outskirts of a village called Goosetown. Like real life, much of what goes on isn’t scripted. But, unlike reality, it’s safely self-contained. In a session of D&D, the cocktail of youth nostalgia and fantasy otherworldliness could give rise to almost anything—as long as it abides by the game’s few rules. It isn’t the leap into unbounded fantasy that appeals; it’s the lines, the structure, the finitude (with a sort of community working within them).
(5) DON’T FIRE THE RETROS. Cora Buhlert takes up the challenge of explaining “Why the Retro Hugos Have Value” – of which this excerpt is just part of the introduction.
…Now no one is obliged to care about the Retro Hugos. However, if you didn’t nominate and vote, you don’t get complain about the results. I also understand the frustration that Retro Hugo voters keep voting for familiar names like John W. Campbell and weak early stories by future stars of the genre over better works, because I share it. However, unlike many other folks, I didn’t complain, but decided to do something about it, so I started the Retro Hugo Recommendation Spreadsheet and Retro Science Fiction Reviews to help potential Retro Hugo nominators and voters make more informed choices. Because I believe that it’s better to try and fix something than destroy or abolish something that some people enjoy.
And while I understand why Worldcons are reluctant to give out Retro Hugos due to the work and expense involved, I really don’t understand the intense hatred they engender in some fans. There are a lot of things going on at Worldcons that I personally don’t care about, but that doesn’t mean I want to take those things away from the people who do enjoy them. I simply focus on the things that give me joy and ignore the rest.
However, the current campaign against the Retro Hugos is part of a larger trend to dismiss the past of our genre as racist, sexist and irrelevant. Also witness the recent debate about the SFF canon, what it is and whether it is relevant with contributions by John Scalzi (here and here), Nina Allan, Camestros Felapton (here and here), the Hugo Book Club, Font Folly, Steve Davidson,Doris V. Sutherland, Aidan Moher and others. The canon discussion is mostly civil (and the only uncivil are the usual idiots I haven’t linked here) and also makes a lot of good points, such as that there is no one fixed SFF canon, but that individual people have different works which are important to them, that canons can be abused as a form of gatekeeping, that it’s not necessary to read classic SFF works, unless you enjoy them or want to write an academic work about SFF. However, pretty much everybody who is interested in older SFF has experienced hostility about this interest, even if we don’t go around and tell people that they’re not “real fans” (TM), unless they have read the entire output of Heinlein, Asimov, Lovecraft, etc… (and in that case, I wouldn’t be a “real fan” (TM) either). Witness Jason Sanford saying that the Retro Hugo voters are “a small group of people stuck in the past giving today’s genre the middle finger”, never mind that most Retro Hugo voters are Hugo voters as well. Or the person who called me a Nazi on Twitter for tweeting about the Retro Hugo winners, until I blocked them.
As I said before, no one has to care about older SFF and no one has to read it, if they don’t want to. But attacking people for being interested in older SFF and enjoying the Retro Hugos is not okay. Nor is everybody who’s interested in older SFF a reactionary fascist, even if received wisdom claims that the SFF of the golden age was all racist and sexist stories about straight white American men in space, lorded over by the twin spectres of Campbell and Lovecraft.
… It appears that we are now entering into a new phase of celebrity signature products, one that combines the scarcity of a limited-edition booze or sneaker, with the massive scale of something everybody loves.
Welcome to celebrity ice cream.
This week two very different arbiters of cool dropped their very own frozen treat collaborations. First up was pop star Selena Gomez, who managed a double dip collaboration, first on a song called . . . yep . . . “Ice Cream” made with K-pop stars Blackpink, and spinning that into her very own flavor for specialty ice-cream brand and chain Serendipity. It’s called Cookies & Cream Remix, and it’s pink vanilla ice cream with crunchy cookie bites and fudge bits.
(7) GARCIAGATE GOFUNDME. The “GarciaGatePenguins Fire Relief” GoFundMe has raised $11,115 (the original goal was $10K) and is still taking donations. Chris Garcia, Vanessa Applegate and the boys had to evacuate from their Northern California home because of the fires. So far their house has survived, but there’s no telling when they will be able to return. Til then, they’re in hotels.
(8) BOSEMAN OBIT. Actor Chadwick Boseman died August 28 reports Yahoo! News.
Chadwick Boseman, who played Black American icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown with searing intensity before inspiring audiences worldwide as the regal Black Panther in Marvel’s blockbuster movie franchise, died Friday of cancer. He was 43.
…Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago, his family said in a statement.
“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” his family said. “From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more – all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.”
Boseman had not spoken publicly about his diagnosis. He is survived by his wife and a parent and had no children, Fioravante said.
(9) TODAY’S DAY.
John Hertz celebrates it.
The sun’s risen on Independent Bookstores Day. May they earn still more.
August 29, 1957 — X Minus One’s “Volpla” was first broadcast. Based on a story by Wyman Guin who first gained noticed with his “Beyond Bedlam” novella in Galaxy Science Fiction in August 1951. (In 2013, he would receive the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award.) His story in “Volpla” is that an individual creates small creatures and teaches them to say they are aliens. Ernest Kinoy as usual wrote the radio script. Nelson Olmstead, Adele Newton and Sarah Fussell were the cast. You can listen to it here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 29, 1905 – Don Wilcox. Five novels for us, ninety shorter stories; detective and Western stories; plays; paintings. Some Captain Video for television. For a while with Amazing and Fantastic under Palmer, averaged 40,000 words a month. Best of DW vol. 1 appeared 2016; vol. 2, 2017. (Died 2000) [JH]
Born August 29, 1926 – Thomas N. Scortia. Chemist. Worked in aerospace. Six novels for us (some with Frank Robinson), fifty shorter stories. The Glass Inferno (with FR) became The Towering Inferno (I. Allen dir. 1974). With Dalton Trumbo, The Endangered Species. Collection Caution! Inflammable! has an introduction by Theodore Sturgeon. (Died 1986) [JH]
Born August 29, 1942 – Dian Crayne. Three novels, eight shorter stories (one with Larry Niven), a few interiors; The Game of Fandom. Married to Bruce Pelz 1964-1970 (their divorce party inspired LN’s “What Can You Say About Chocolate-Covered Manhole Covers?”; a chocolate-covered manhole cover has been part of the L.A. Science Fantasy Soc, Gift Exchange every December since), to Chuck Crayne 1972-2009 (he and BP co-chaired L.A.Con the 30th Worldcon, co-founded the North America SF Con held when the Worldcon is overseas). Here she is at Pacificon II (22nd Worldcon) as Thuvia, Maid of Mars, BP at her left. (Died 2017) [JH]
August 29, 1942 — Gottfried John. He’s likely best-known as General Arkady Orumov on GoldenEye but I actually best remember him as Colonel Erich Weiss on the extremely short-lived Space Rangers. He was Josef Heim in the “The Hand of Saint Sebastian” episode of the Millennium series, and played König Gustav in the German version of Rumpelstilzchen as written by the Brothers Grimm. (Died 2014.) (CE)
Born August 29, 1946 – Robert Weinberg. A dozen novels, fifty shorter stories; five dozen anthologies; Biographical Dictionary of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists; The Art of the Pulps (with D. Ellis, H. Hulse), The Collectors’ Book of Virgil Finlay (with D. Ellis, R. Garcia). Letters, essays, editorials in Collecting Fantasy, The Diversifier, ERB-dom (E.R. Burroughs), Fantasy Newsletter, Horrorstruck, The “Weird Tales” Collector, Windy City Pulp Stories. Co-chaired Chicago Comiccon 1976-1996; 9th and 16th World Fantasy Cons. Sam Moskowitz Archive Award (excellence in collecting). Chicon 7 (70th Worldcon) Special Award for service. (Died 2016). [JH]
August 29, 1951 — Janeen Webb, 69. Dreaming Down-Under which she co-edited with Jack Dann is an amazing anthology of Australian genre fiction which won a World Fantasy Award. If you’ve not read it, go do so. The Silken Road to Samarkand by her is a wonderful novel that I also wholeheartedly recommend. Death at the Blue Elephant, the first collection of her ever so excellent short stories, is available at iBooks and Kindle though Dreaming Down-Under is alas not. (CE)
August 29, 1953 — Nancy Holder, 67. She’s an impressive four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award. I’m not much of a horror fan so I can’t judge her horror novels for you but I’ve read a number of her Buffyverse novels and I must say that she’s captured the feel of the series quite well. If you are to read but one, make it Halloween Rain. (CE)
August 29, 1954 — Michael P. Kube-McDowell, 66. A filker which gets major points in my book (filker link: “Back in Black” .) And yes, I’m stalling while I try to remember what of his I’ve read. I’m reasonably sure I’ve read both of his Isaac Asimov’s Robot City novels, and now I can recall reading Alternities as well. God, it’s been twenty years since I read him. I’m getting old. (CE)
August 29, 1959 — Rebecca de Mornay, 61. May I note she made a deliciously evil Milady de Winter in The Three Musketeers? She’s Clair Dupin in The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Wendy Torrance in The Shining miniseries (no, I never heard of it) and Penelope Decker in several episodes of Lucifer. Oh, and she was Dorothy Walker in Marvel’s Jessica Jones series. (CE)
Born August 29, 1970 – Jenn Reese, 50. Five novels; Tales of the Chinese Zodiac, twelve shorter stories 2005 adding in 2006 a carp, a mantis, an owl; Alphabet Quartet perhaps inevitably became 26 flash-fiction stories “Arthur” – “Zoom” (with G. van Eekhout, T. Pratt, H. Shaw); two dozen other short stories; nine covers. Here is Mitigated Futures. Here is Do Better. Currently a graphic designer in Portland where she can revel in the rain. [JH]
Born August 29, 1977 – Renée Carter Hall, 43. One novel, thirty shorter stories. Limestone Circle (poetry) 1999-2002. Cóyotl Award. Co-authored a story in 8th Grade with two friends which reached Steven Spielberg and was used in Tiny Toon Adventures with all three friends as cartoon characters. Website here. [JH]
August 29, 1989 — Charlotte Ritchie, 31. Like so many British performers, she’s had a role on Doctor Who playing Lin in the Thirteenth Doctor story, “Resolution “. Her first genre role was an uncredited one in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and I see she was Alison in the first season of Dead Pixels, and another Alison in Ghosts, a truly haunting series. (CE)
… Kalima Desuze, owner of Cafe con Libros in Brooklyn, New York, describes recent business as both “lucrative” and “bittersweet.”
“Many folks are buying books, but may not have a home to dialogue about it,” she says. “This work cannot be done in isolation; we all need community. I’m tired of solidarity with Black folks only coming after death when some of us have spent our lives talking about and organizing against systemic racism… So, while I definitely appreciate the support, it’s been hard to profit off the bodies of fictive kin.”
“The stories have always been there, and the experiences have always been there, but not everybody was comfortable talking about them,” says La’Nae Robinson, who co-owns Bliss Books & Wine in Kansas City with her sister, La’Nesha Frazier. “So I think now that it’s more in the spotlight, it’s creating more conversations, and people are open to having conversations—and they’re actually holding them in their hands and educating themselves on topics that they just didn’t think about.”
Joining us on the 5th of September will be those who plan and execute the marketing of legends. – Dave Farland will join us to discuss his plan with Scholastic for making Harry Potter big. – Ed Elbert will discuss the advertising of Star Wars. – Craig Miller will share the stories of fandom and community outreach for Star Wars. – Brian Meeks will bring us to 2020 with a discussion of self-publishing.
One pen to rule them all. Our tribute to J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved trilogy is made with a level of craftsmanship to rival the great Elven-smiths of Eregion. The Lord of the Rings Limited Edition is a magical creation of lostwax casting that celebrates imagination, creativity and heroic journeys at their finest.
…Armaments and regalia belonging to the Fellowship of the Ring make up the elements of the barrel. Gandalf’s staff, Aragorn’s sword and Gimli’s axe are just some of the icons contained within a structure crowned by a cubic zirconia set in the emblem of the White Tree of Gondor.
The cap’s major features are a hand-enamelled Eye of Sauron suspended in the Tower of Barad-dûr, and a clip resembling Frodo’s Elvish blade, Sting. In place of a conventional capband sits a removable replica of the One Ring, inscribed with Tengwar script and plated in gold.
A sci-fi legend is making the case for the new U.S. Space Force to use naval ranks. In an Military Times op-ed, Star Trek‘s William Shatner argues—with prodigious use of emoji—the long history of naval ranks in science fiction makes it appropriate for the burgeoning Space Force to follow suit.
Although Shatner’s argument is tongue in cheek, there’s actually a more practical reason why the Space Force might emulate the U.S. Navy—not the U.S. Air Force.
“Star Trek” has borrowed so much of its iconic rank symbols from the U.S. military and NASA. When you unveiled the Space Force logo, many immediately saw it as an homage to “Star Trek” (even though our Delta was an homage to the previous military space insignias). Why not borrow back from “Star Trek” and adopt our ranks as well? We took them from the Navy for good reason, even though Gene Roddenberry was a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corps. They made better sense when talking about a (space) ship.
In a practical sense, there is some rationale for using naval ranks. Spaceships are a lot like submarines: enclosed vessels traveling through a void-like medium on long treks. Like subs, spaceships handle hull pressures, though they must deal with pressure on the inside and outside.
Naval forces have deep experience with planning and conducting voyages that could take weeks or months, while most Air Force missions last several hours at the most. When the Space Force finally operates spaceships, it might find itself more culturally aligned with the Navy than the Air Force….
…Sure, we know as well as you do that the transition to online events has been 50 shades of awkward for most organizations. But if any group should be prepared for a transition to the digital plane, it’s fans of speculative fiction, who have been immersed in synthetic lifeforms, alien worlds, next-wave tech, and cyber-realms for years. No need to be skeptical about ArmadilloCon 42’s virtual nature; these folks are hardwired for it.
More importantly, the ArmadilloCon team is still inspired by the same spirit of community and love of the genre that was shared by the 300 or so fans who gathered at the Villa Capri Hotel in May of 1979 for the first con. That means not just celebrating the futures of the past – those imagined by Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Dick, and their peers – but also the futures of the future: those being conjured by writers breaking into the field. The con’s 42-year mission, to borrow a phrase, has always been to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new writers and new speculative fiction, to boldly go with them where no fan has gone before. You can count on ArmadilloCon to continue that mission online in the same way it always has IRL.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Bill, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John Hertz, Gadi Evron, Cat Eldridge, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to contributing editor of the day Peer.]
…A relative handful of science fiction/fantasy/horror conventions are considered “professional” and it is expected that people who work in publishing will travel cross-country or even internationally to make an appearance. In the mystery and romance genres, a greater percentage of conventions are “professional” and relatively fewer are run by and for fans. Regardless of whether the convention is fannish or professional, published writers are essentially zoo animals to be gawked at for the weekend. You can tell the writers from the other attendees because they are always clutching a drink in their hands like it was only accidentally given to them for free.
The conference, by way of contrast, has different roots. Literary conferences are often organized like other academic conferences—the focus is on writers who work in academe and the concerns of pedagogy and craft, though the keynote speakers are almost inevitably prominent writers who don’t need to grade term papers for a living. Panels at conferences are only occasionally roundtable discussions; more often the panelists read from essays, bits of memoir about the struggles of trying to either publish or teach their dumb-ass students, or their critical work. There are also lots of poets who constantly declare their identity as poets: “Oh, I don’t know how to organize my receipts to get reimbursed by my department! I’m a poet.” “I can’t be expected to know which button to press in this hotel elevator, I’m a poet!” In the sales room, university presses and university-backed literary journals that demand writers pay to submit and that have an organic audience somewhere in the low teens predominate, while at conventions you can buy ratty old magazines, leather corsets, and insipid badges with phrases such as “Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup” on them. So clearly, attending either kind of gathering is a fate worse than death.
AR: It was Gerry Anderson’s birthday a couple of days ago (he’d have been 91) so given that we’ve both watched Thunderbird Six recently -and have a shared enthusiasm for his shows – I thought it would be fun to talk about the film, as well as the puppet series more generally. Perhaps we could start by covering our introductions to the worlds of GA? I know you go back at least as far as Stingray, the series which preceded Thunderbirds – was that the first exposure to Supermarionation for you, or are we looking at the even earlier shows like Fireball XL-5, Supercar and so on? Any really early memories of the shows or even the merchandise surrounding them?
SB: As it happens I was born on the day Anderson’s first show was first broadcast, The Adventures of Twizzle. An omen! But the first show I remember properly was Fireball, which was launched when I was nearly 5. Supercar was around but as repeats, I guess. Fireball was the one. It wasn’t the stories that struck me I think as much as the background world. The fantastic huge ship, and it looked huge thanks to good effects work, luxurious inside – Professor Matic lived on it, and how I envied him! And this was no fantasy, we were given one-century-ahead dates, 2062 and so on. Authentic SF, and I was lost forever.
…NBC’s The Blacklist will close out its seventh season with a twist: After production on the drama was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, the show turned to animation to help complete the season finale.
The hybrid episode is set to air May 15 and will serve as the season finale for The Blacklist (it has already been renewed for 2020-21).
The episode, titled “The Kazanjian Brothers,” was midway through filming in New York when production stopped in mid-March due to the pandemic. The show’s producers looked for outside-the-box ways to complete the installment and settled on graphic novel-style animation (as shown above) to be incorporated with scenes that had already been filmed.
Actors recorded dialogue from their homes for the animated scenes, and all animation and editing was done remotely. As The Hollywood Reporter has reported, production on a number of animated series has continued largely uninterrupted during the pandemic as studios and producers have adapted to working remotely.
(4) REFERENCE DIRECTOR! Lorie Shaull explains — “I assure you we’re not open,” a reference to the movie Clerks, and “You’re Still here? It’s over. Go home. Go,” from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, seen on the Uptown Theatre marquee in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
DC Comics is battling a tire company that is using the SWAMPTHING mark in association with its monster tires.
Transamerica Tire, Co widely distributes its “Swampthing” tires which figure some “monster” treads that allow added traction thru sand, gravel, dirt, mud or…swamps.
…In July 2019, Transamerica filed a trademark registration to protect the name SWAMPTHING for its tires. But there is a big green guy who has something to say about that.
(6) SECOND FIFTH. Craig Miller prefers the “Revenge of the Sixth” as a reference, and in honor of the date he’s shared a couple more things he’s remembered since his book Star Wars Memories was released.
…But I’d completely forgotten that I’d also gotten a character’s name changed. A document in my files reminded me….
Since writer Hanna Flint’s grandmother died from Covid-19 complications, she has found solace in superheroes. Here she explains why the films are great for processing tough emotions.
…After my parents called me that Friday night to tell me the news, I cried myself to sleep. But the next morning, I woke up with the strongest urge to escape into the fantastical world of Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Steve Rogers, Thor and the rest of these Marvel heroes – so I camped out on my sofa and binge-watched MCU movies for the remainder of the Easter Weekend.
I’ve spent more than a decade being invested in this film franchise, so it’s no wonder that it’s become the cinematic equivalent of an emotional support dog for me in my time of need. There’s a familiarity that I have with these heroic characters and their fist-pumping adventures that must cause a release of serotonin in my brain, because with each film I watched anew, I felt the thrum of grief lessen, allowing in moments of joy that lifted my spirit.
…Alongside the gags, the series has also deepened as time has gone on, with the MCU opening itself up to a broader range of stories and sensibilities. No longer is the focus only on white male heroes and villains – instead there is a diverse range of characters for a wider audience to connect with. Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man films, James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel from Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, are all brilliant examples of Marvel Studios allowing the filmmakers’ voices to shine, while still staying true to the unifying structure and webbed narrative of the franchise. Ragnarok is probably the most distinctive individual Marvel offering so far – Waititi’s deadpan, self-referential humour keeps things especially grounded and accessible, despite the out-of-this-world setting. The Kiwi filmmaker flips your expectations of certain characters – as when Korg, a member of the rock alien Kronan race, turns out to be far more mild-mannered and intellectual than his previously-seen peers – but also uses comedy to make space for a deeper cultural commentary on issues like refugees, slavery and the white-washing of history.
Police in southern Alberta are being investigated after a restaurant worker in a Star Wars stormtrooper costume who was carrying a plastic gun was forced to the ground and ended up with a bloody nose.
…The Lethbridge Police Service said officers were called to the restaurant Monday morning for reports of a person in a stormtrooper costume carrying a firearm. A news release Tuesday said when officers arrived, the person dropped the weapon but didn’t initially comply with directions to get down on the ground.
Whalen disputes the account that his employee didn’t obey police commands. When officers arrived, she immediately dropped the weapon and put her hands up, he said.
But Whalen said that the stormtrooper helmet makes it hard to hear and to be heard. It also makes it difficult to move, let alone to kneel or get down on your stomach. Whalen said this may have caused a delay in the employee getting on the ground.
“It’s not the easiest thing to kneel down in. You can’t even sit down in it. It takes 20 minutes to put on.”
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
May 6, 1956 — Dimension X’s “Knock” aired. It was based on Fredric Brown’s story of the same name, first published in the December 1948 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories. It was the first of three adaptations of his story, with the latter ones being X Minus One and Sci Fi Channel’s Seeing Ear Theatre. This version was adapted was by Ernest Kinroy. Fred Wiehe and Edward King were the directors. Norman Rose was heard as both announcer and narrator. The entire script can be summed up as “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…” Frederic Brown is the running for two Retro Hugos this year, one for Best Novelette for “Arena” and another for Best Short Story for “And the Gods Laughed“. You can hear “Knock” here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 6, 1914 — Randall Jarrell. Author of the ever so charming The Animal Family which is illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Go read it – you’ll be smiling afterwards. The Anchor Book of Stories has more of his genre friendly stories. (Died 1965.)
Born May 6, 1915 — Orson Welles. Certainly the broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” in 1938 was his pinnacle of genre success. But for the Federal Theatre Project he did a 1936 adaptation of Macbeth with an entirely African American cast. That it was known as the Voodoo Macbeth might give you an idea of what he did with it. He would later do a more straightforward film of Macbeth. And, of course, he made a most excellent radio Shadow as well! (Died 1985.)
Born May 6, 1946 — Nancy Kilpatrick, 74. Fangoria called her “Canada’s answer to Anne Rice.” I know that I’ve read something of her fiction but I’ll be damned if I remember what it was. I do recommend the anthology she edited Danse Macabre: Close Encounters with the Reaper as it’s a most excellent horror collection.
Born May 6, 1952 — Michael O’Hare. He was best known for playing Commander Jeffrey Sinclair on Babylon 5. Other genre appearances were limited — he played Fuller in the 1984 film C.H.U.D, was Jimmy in the “Heretic” episode of Tales from the Darkside and appeared as a thug on the subway train in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. (Died 2012.)
Born May 6, — Carlos Lauchu, 59. Anubis, the captain of Ra’s personal guard, in the original Stargate film. His only other genre acting was two appearances in the Monsters anthology series.
Born May 6, 1969 — Annalee Newitz, 51. They are the winner of 2019 Hugo Award for Best Fancast at Dublin 2019 for “Our Opinions Are Correct”. And their novel Autonomous was a finalist for the Nebula Award for Best Novel, John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Locus Award for Best First Novel while winning a Lambda Literary Award. They are also the winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short science fiction, ”When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis”.
…So what do you see, when you look at a work of Minimalist art? You’ll see simple patterns, geometric shapes, hard edges, primary colours and monochromatic palettes. The so-called “Black Paintings” by the above mentioned Frank Stella consist of concentric stripes painted on raw canvas in the black wall paint that Stella uses in his day job as a house painter. Canadian artist Agnes Martin paints grids and stripes in pastel watercolours. Meanwhile, Dan Flavin eschews paint altogether and instead creates artworks from tubes of neon lights arranged in various geometric patterns.
Facebook has announced who will sit on an independent board, set up to have ultimate say over what controversial content should be taken down.
Former Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt will co-chair the panel with three others.
The panel said they will judge some of the “hardest cases out there.”
One expert said it was a bold experiment, but others were more cynical about how much difference they would make.
In a blog announcing the oversight board, Facebook said it “represented a new model of content moderation”
Initially consisting of 16 members, there are plans to expand numbers to 40. It will begin hearing cases later this year.
At first this will just be deliberating on content that individuals feel has been wrongfully removed but, in following months, it will also look at appeals from users who want Facebook to remove content.
…In April, an anonymous Twitter account, Bookcase Credibility, emerged to keep an eye on the trend and quickly accumulated more than 30,000 followers. Its tagline is “What you say is not as important as the bookcase behind you,” and it offers arch commentary on the rapidly solidifying tropes of the genre as well as genuine respect for a well-executed specimen. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki appears before “a standard credibility wallpaper presentation in the unthreatening homely style.” The migrants’ rights activist Minnie Rahman’s Encyclopaedia Britannica collection “is a lazy hand wafted at convention.” And the British politician Liam Fox’s “bold grab at credibility is somewhat undermined by the hardback copy of The Da Vinci Code.”
…As expected from a nation with one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, the Portuguese rallied behind the Bookshelf Championship. All of a sudden, book-related opinions were all over social media. “He’s stacking books horizontally to fit more,” a Twitter user said of his preferred contestant, journalist Nuno Rogeiro, whose all-embracing bookshelf featured books wedged into every available cranny. Some contemplated the definition of a bookshelf: Should a shelf full of binders be disqualified, or was it a “spectacular variation” on the theme? Others called for the “immediate resignation” of the Minister of Education, Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, on the grounds that his video conference set-up featured zero books. It didn’t take long for the debate to make it, in an apt twist, onto the evening news. Ricardo Araújo Pereira, one of Portugal’s top comedians, submitted his formal entry by taking a conference call from a deserted university library, where he sat flanked by tidy bookshelves in perfect social isolation. Twitter deemed his entry “extremely strong.”
I’m hearing that Tom Cruise and Elon Musk’s Space X are working on a project with NASA that would be the first narrative feature film – an action adventure – to be shot in outer space. It’s not a Mission: Impossible film and no studio is in the mix at this stage but look for more news as I get it. But this is real, albeit in the early stages of liftoff.
Mission: Impossible Fallout took a break, literally when he broke his ankle in a leap from one rooftop to the other and he also hung from a helicopter; he hung from the side of a jet plane during takeoff in Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, and in Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol he scaled the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai skyscraper, and executed stunts 123 floors up. He is meticulous in preparing these stunts he does, which are frightening just to watch.
There has never been a leading man (Jackie Chan might dispute this) who puts himself at risk as often as does Cruise, in the name of the most realistic action sequences possible. If he is successful shooting a project in Musk’s space ship, he will be alone in the Hollywood record books. Stay tuned.
… NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed by tweet that “NASA is excited to work with @TomCruise on a film aboard the @Space_Station! We need popular media to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists to make @NASA’s ambitious plans a reality.”
At 57, the actor is a good deal older than the run-of-the-mill astronaut (if there is such a thing) though a number “spaceflight participants” (the official NASA and Roscosmos — the Russian space agency — designation for non-astronauts) have flown before.
Cruise is demonstrably in excellent shape, and evidently fearless when it comes to doing his own stunts. That’s fortunate, as up to this point, Space X has launched only unmanned missions of its Dragon 2 craft, which is designed to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. Its first launch with a human crew is scheduled for later this month.
“It’s our 30th anniversary. We had some really great stuff planned to celebrate with you guys, and then the pandemic hit,” Hoag said. “It would be great to have a virtual pizza party with you guys, our fans […] We want to get together, hang out with you, and eat some pizza. I personally will probably be having a martini while I’m doing it.”
As of this writing, there aren’t any additional details about the Zoom event, but the TMNT Movie 1990 Facebook page says that it will post more information for online attendees in the days ahead….
…Giving yourself a temporary tongue tattoo from a sticky fruit roll-up is an inexplicable joy. Why is it so fun to have a blue outline of a character on your tongue? Who knows, but it’s about to get a whole lot more exciting. Star Wars-themed Fruit Roll-Ups with The Mandalorian tongue tattoos are expected to come out this fall, which means you can take your Baby Yoda obsession even further that you thought.
The Fruit Roll-Ups by General Mills are expected to be released this September, according to Nerdist. The package features two Mandalorian-themed tattoos: one of Baby Yoda with a frog in his mouth and the other of the Mandalorian’s helmet.
Derek Künsken’s series, The Quantum Evolution, so far consisting of two novels (The Quantum Magician and The Quantum Garden) is a brilliant space opera that probes the depths of a future human nature engineered to produce new subspecies. And they are wild, at times repulsive, at times capable of incredible breakthroughs in knowledge or massive deception and theft, at times mired in twisted love of false gods.I’ve rarely been so intellectually engaged by the idea of a quantum evolution of humankind and so drawn to a set of fascinating characters as they fight and con their way across various star systems.
… But in the central Chubu region, these insects — sometimes called “murder hornets” — are known for more than their aggression and excruciating sting. They are seen as a pleasant snack and an invigorating ingredient in drinks….
(22) STEPHEN KING ON THE LATE SHOW. The legendary master of horror covers a lot of ground in this talk with Stephen Colbert, including how he would fare in quarantine with his most feared characters, some things he learned about pandemics when doing research for “The Stand,” and the many reasons he recommends reading The Lord of the Rings.
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, StephenfromOttawa, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Lise Andreasen, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Susan de Guardiola, Olav Rokne, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]