(1) NAME THAT FAHRENHEIT TEMP. “Chinese Govt. Burns Call of Cthulhu Supplement” claims Lovecraftian news site Yog-Sothoth. The main content is in the video at the link, but the intro sums up the problem this way:
For many years, various publishers in the Americas and Europe have had their books printed in China as a cost-saving measure (including many in the RPG field). Often the primary downside of this has simply been the time taken for the books to arrive, but it appears there can also be another problem, as the publishers of The Sassoon Files (a Cthulhu-based RPG supplement) have announced that all print copies of their book have been destroyed by the Chinese Government – for unspecified reasons.
The Sassoon Files is a collection of Cthulhu Mythos scenarios and campaign resources set in 1920s Shanghai (for both Call of Cthulhu and Gumshoe systems) and was Kickstarted back in September 2018, raising some $24,000 USD from more than 500 backers. The volume was due to ship from the printers very shortly. As a result of this recent turn of events, the publishers, Sons of the Singularity, have released a video statement. …
(2) SPOILERIFFIC DISSECTION. Abigail Nussbaum analyzes Jordan Peele’s “Us” at Asking the Wrong Questions.
…If Get Out was an arrow aimed straight for the heart, Us is firing in all directions. This doesn’t make it a bad film—it is, in fact, a rich and heady stew, anchored by a stunning double performance from Lupita Nyong’o. But it does make it messy, in a way that a director who wasn’t riding high off a genre-defining success like Get Out probably wouldn’t be able to get away with. I found myself thinking that Us might have worked better as a miniseries, not only to give its various storylines and characters room to breathe, but so that it could do more work to spin out and elaborate on the various symbols and recurring images it keeps dropping into the narrative.
(3) PACKAGING ISSUE EXPLAINED. Greg Machlin gives readers a good handle on the reasons for the current tension between Hollywood writers and agents. Thread starts here.
And Machlin got a shout-out from N.K. Jemisin:
Machlin calls David Simon’s “But I’m not a lawyer. I’m an agent.” required reading.
…If, on the other hand, you are my brother or sister in the Writers Guild of America — East or West, it matters not when we stand in solitarity — or conversely, if you are a grasping, fuckfailing greedhead with the Association of Talent Agents, then you might wanna hang around for this:
Here is the story of how as a novice to this industry, I was grifted by my agents and how I learned everything I ever needed to know about packaging. And here is why I am a solid yes-vote on anything my union puts before me that attacks the incredible ethical affront of this paradigm. Packaging is a racket. It’s corrupt. It is without any basis in either integrity or honor. This little narrative will make that clear. And because I still have a reportorial soul and a journalistic God resides in the details, I will name a name wherever I can.
… Why bother to fight for 10 percent of a few dollars more for this story editor or that co-executive producer of some actor or director when to NOT do so means less freight on the operating budgets of the projects that you yourself hope to profit from? Why serve your clients as representatives with a fiduciary responsibility and get the last possible dollar for them, when you stand to profit by splitting the proceeds of a production not with labor, but with management — the studios who are cutting you in on the back end? Why put your client’s interest in direct opposition to your own?
No reason at all.
(4) SPFBO DROPS TIVENDALE. Facebook’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off group posted a “PSA: Concerning James Tivendale & his removal”.
This post is to inform everyone about James Tivendale’s removal as a blogger from Fantasy Book Review as well as from the SPFBO judging group. James has been accused by over a dozen people of harassment in several forms. This wasn’t something that was done spur of the moment but thanks to Esme Weatherwax & Book Wol’s efforts, several folks came forward to report James’ behavior (inappropriate touching, intimidation, etc.)”
SPFBO is Mark Lawrence’s contest to pick the top indie fantasy novel from 300 entrants based on ratings given by book bloggers. Fantasy Book Review is one of the 10 blogs, and Tivendale was one of its writers. The PSA continues:
Many of these folks didn’t want their names published as they feared reprisal for their books or careers. These accusations were sent to Lee David Sibbald (the owner of Fantasy Book Review) and special thanks to Ryan Lawler for helping coordinate these efforts. Ultimately Lee took this decision keeping everyone’s safety in mind. Mark Lawrence has also been alerted about this. For the remaining part of this SPFBO edition, Fantasy Book Review will be managed by Adam & Emma. For the future, the decision will be taken by Lee and the rest of the team.
I along with Esme, Wol, Lee & a few others wanted to make this public so everyone knows what happened exactly without any confusion or rumor-mongering. If you have ever been harrased by James in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact Esme or me. I want to reiterate that while James is a gifted blogger and I considered him my friend. His behavior wasn’t excusable and neither were his health issues. We all hope that he gets the help he needs. If you have any queries or wish to clarify anything. I’m more than happy to resolve them.
Tivendale has since shut down his Facebook and Twitter accounts.
(5) SHAZAM! The Hollywood Reporter’s Frank Scheck says the movie benefits from terrific performances: “‘Shazam!’: Film Review”.
The DC Comics universe has definitely taken to heart the criticism that its movies have been too dark and foreboding. The more lighthearted approach worked beautifully with Wonder Woman and was carried to a wackier level with Aquaman. Now comes their latest effort, based on a relatively little-known comic book character, that proves so determinedly ebullient you begin to think they’re pumping laughing gas into the auditorium. The most kid-friendly DC movie so far, Shazam! is thoroughly entertaining. But much like its central character, a 14-year-old boy able to transform himself into a superhero by uttering the titular incantation, often the pic gives the impression of a kid playing in the adult leagues.
(6) HANG UP FOREVER. Charles Stross was quoted in a Washington Post piece by Avi Selk about the increasing problem of spam phone calls: “Spam has taken over our phones. Will we ever want to answer them again?”
The sci-fi author Charlie Stross once posited a future in which spam becomes so good at mimicking human interaction it becomes self-aware –the ‘Spamularity.’ Is that what awaits us if the phones don’t shut up?
(7) ANIME BUZZ. Petréa Mitchell covers 14 shows in her “Spring 2019 SF Anime Preview” at Amazing Stories:
Welcome once again to the oncoming wave that is a new season of anime barrelling in our direction. It’s smaller than usual, owing to a drop in the overall number of new shows and an unusually low percentage of them being sf. (If you’re wondering what hot trends you’re missing out on, they’re baseball shows and comedies about high school students who are bad at studying.) As always, click on the titles to go to the official sites to see promo videos and more!
(8) IMMERSIVE PLAY. It’s called Escape Hunt.
Escape Hunt noun Def: The name given to 60 minutes of pure, unadulterated excitement, during which you and your teammates lose yourselves in an incredible experience, working together to follow a series of fiendishly clever clues and escape a locked room.
The pressure’s on, the clock’s ticking, the adrenaline’s pumping. Escape Hunt isn’t something you watch, it’s something you experience from the heart of the action. After the buzz of Escape Hunt, other entertainment just feels flat.
And there’s a Doctor Who themed version at six cities in the UK:
The Doctor needs you: a tear in space and time has been detected, and the Cybermen are about to break through!
Step into the future. Enter the offices of ChronosCorp HQ, where eccentric billionaire Alastair Montague’s efforts to develop commercial time travel have caused a tear in the fabric of space and time. The Cybermen are ready to take advantage and attack Earth.
You, the Doctor’s friends, must investigate the incident. The remains of Montague, his prototype time engine and the extensive collection of time-related artefacts acquired over the course of his experiments, are all that you have to work with.
(9) PALLADINI OBIT. Artist David Palladini (1946-2019) died March 13. Jane Yolen wrote on Facebook:
I have just heard that David Palladini, that brilliant artist who illustrated my first three fairy tale collections, has died. RIP dear David. He also did many record jackets, Stephen King’s only middle grade novel, a tarot deck much prized by many who love them. RIP dear David.
The death notice in the New York Times begins:
David Palladini, widely renowned artist and illustrator, and regarded as one of the country’s most recognized astrological art illustrators, passed away on March 13, 2019 after a long illness at his home in Corona Del Mar, California at the age of 72. Some of his most widely held work includes the illustrations from Stephen King’s best-selling book, “Eyes of the Dragon”, and numerous children’s books, including the Jane Yolen series. His iconic astrological Aquarian & Palladini Tarot card art decks remain the most frequently preferred tarot card decks worldwide.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- March 25, 1989 — Quantum Leap premiered.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 25, 1916 — Jean Rogers. Rogers is best remembered for playing Dale Arden in the science fiction serials Flash Gordon and Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars, both released in the Thirties. Kage Baker would’ve have loved them as she was a great fan of such cinema and wrote a series of essays for Tor.com that turned into Ancient Rockets: Treasures and Trainwrecks of the Silent Screen. (Link for review of Ancient Rockets.) (Rogers died 1991.)
- Born March 25, 1930 — Patrick Troughton. The Second Doctor of who I’ll confess I’m not the most ardent fan of. The Fourth Doctor is my Doctor. Troughton had a long genre resume starting with Hamlet and Treasure Island early on before preceding to such works as Scars of Dracula and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell later on. Tellie wise, I see him on R.U.R. Radius playing a robot, on a Fifties Robin Hood show being that character, and on The Feathered Serpent. This is children’s series set in pre-Columbian Mexico and starring Patrick Troughton as the scheming High Priest Nasca. H’h. (Died 1967.)
- Born March 25, 1939 — D. C. Fontana, 80. Though best known for her work on the first Trek series, she was a story editor and associate producer on the animated series as well. During the 70s, she was staff for such series as Six Million Dollar Man, Logan’s Run and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. She later wrote for the fanfic Star Trek: New Voyages series.
- Born March 25, 1947 — Elton John, 72. He appeared in Tommy, UK version as the Pinball Wizard, a perfect role for him. I see he appeared on The Muppet Show as the guest of the week and showed in Kingsman: The Golden Circle as himself.
- Born March 25, 1950 — Robert O’Reilly, 69. Best known I’d say for his appearance in the Trek franchise for a decade in his recurring role on Next Gen and DS9 as Chancellor Gowron, the leader of the Klingon Empire. He made one further appearance in the Trek verse as Kago-Darr in the Enterprise “Bounty” episode. Other genre series he appeared in include Fantasy Island, Knight Rider, Incredible Hulk, MacGyver, Max Headroom and the first version of The Flash. I’ll let y’all tell me your favorite films with him as cast.
- Born March 25, 1964 — Kate DiCamillo, 55. She is just being one of six people to win two Newbery Medals, noting the wonderfulness of The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses. The first I’ve encountered, the tale of a swords mouse in making, the latter I’ve not. Her Mercy Watson series is about the adventures of a fictional pig, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.
(12) A LITTLE TINGLE. Chuck Tingle has expanded his repertoire to short videos.
His non-moving pictures are still funny, too:
(13) WORTH THE EFFORT. Pippa reviews “A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine” at Fantasy-Faction.
…Arkady Martine gives us an impressive sci-fi debut, with intricate worldbuilding and a compelling plot. Court intrigue and political manoeuvring play a large role and Martine writes these elements very well. You never fully know who to trust and the way Martine slowly unveils information creates a wonderfully suspenseful atmosphere. It does take a little while for the story to get going but stick with it as it does pick up after a couple of chapters. Once I was fully invested, I didn’t want to put it down.
(14) THAT CAT MUST BE SKY HIGH. Camestros Felapton presents “Tim’s Signs of the Zodiac”.
December 21 to January 21: You are Aqua-Goat! The very quickly cancelled 1980’s cartoon superhero who was a wise-cracking sea goat who solved sea-mysteries with his gang of friends who lived on a boat. Your friends were a cheap knock-off of the Scooby gang and the Archies. Your catchphrase was ‘Time to solve this sea mystery Aqua-Goat style!’ That sounds a bit sad but unlike all these other signs at least you HAVE friends even if one of them is a badly drawn version of Jughead mixed with Shaggy.
(15) TOMORROW’S NOT THAT FAR AWAY. CW released its midseason trailer for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
The Legends continue their new mission to protect the timeline from temporal aberrations – unusual changes to history that spawn potentially catastrophic consequences. When Nate, the grandson of J.S.A. member Commander Steel, unexpectedly finds himself with powers, he must overcome his own insecurities and find the hero within himself. Ultimately, the Legends will clash with foes both past and present, to save the world from a mysterious new threat.
(16) CRANIAL RETENTIVE. BBC reports research that shows “New brain cells made throughout life”.
People keep making new brain cells throughout their lives (well at least until the age of 97), according to a study on human brains.
The idea has been fiercely debated, and it used to be thought we were born with all the brain cells we will ever have.
The researchers at the University of Madrid also showed that the number of new brain cells tailed off with age.
And it falls dramatically in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease – giving new ideas for treating the dementia.
Most of our neurons – brain cells that send electrical signals – are indeed in place by the time we are born.
Studies on other mammals have found new brains cells forming later in life, but the extent of “neurogenesis” in the human brain is still a source of debate.
(17) MILESTONE. “The first all-female spacewalk” — story is item #4 at the link.
Two astronauts, Christina Koch and Anne McClain, will conduct a spacewalk to replace batteries powering the International Space Station on Friday. It’s expected to last for about seven hours.
Nasa says they didn’t deliberately set out to pair Ms Koch and Ms McClain on the spacewalk, since missions are determined by scheduling issues and ability.
But of all the people who have been in space, fewer than 11% are women – so this mission is seen as a significant moment for women in space.
(18) HAVE A GUINNESS. “Harry Potter: Tonna fan bags memorabilia world record” – BBC has the story.
A Harry Potter superfan has managed to “Slytherin” to the record books after collecting thousands of pieces of memorabilia.
Victoria Maclean, of Tonna, Neath Port Talbot, has 3,686 individual JK Rowling-related items.
This earned her the Wizarding World Collection world record – which includes the Fantastic Beasts series.
YouTuber Mrs Maclean, 38, said: “I screamed a lot – it was so incredible after all these months.”
She was presented with her world record certificate by Guinness World Records on Wednesday.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Man Sitting Next To You” on Vimeo, Ali Ali tells us why going to the movies can be a nightmare.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Peer, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Daniel Dern, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]