(1) SUBTITLE THIS. Not very sff, but the replies to John Hornor’s tweet are absolute gold.
Authors, it's 2018. Do not title your books with a forceful wordplay on your main character's name.
Angel Stevens only wanted to retire from the FBI in peace, until a serial killer changed all that in FALLING ANGEL
DON'T DO THIS EVER AGAIN
— John Hornor (@johnhornor) March 8, 2018
Among other responses –
I will pay you to stop.
— John Hornor (@johnhornor) March 8, 2018
(2) WRINKLE IN TIME REACTIONS. Two NPR views: the straight by Linda Holmes: “Oprah In The Sky, With Wisdom: The Earnest, Imaginative ‘A Wrinkle In Time'”
There is a part of a filmgoer who is exhausted by an avalanche of stuff — much of it forgettable, much of it created by committee, much of it branded within an inch of its life and all of it subject to commercial expectations that are either indifferent or hostile to art — that says, “I cannot get on board with a film that delivers wisdom through a giant, glowing Oprah.”
Is that cynicism? Perhaps, but it’s cynicism that is earned. What Ava DuVernay’s adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time asks is that this cynicism be temporarily laid down so that you can, in fact, be deeply moved by wisdom delivered by a giant, glowing Oprah.
If you do, it’s a profoundly satisfying, imaginative and beautiful film.
And the slant by Bob Mondello: “‘A Wrinkle In Time’ Will Delight Target Audience That Doesn’t Have Too Many Wrinkles”.
Director Ava DuVernay has a light touch with these early scenes, though she gets seriously bogged down in special effects as the film goes on. In 1962 when “A Wrinkle In Time” was published, critics noted the Christian theology of author Madeleine L’Engle, comparing her to “Narnia” creator C.S. Lewis and wondered if the book’s challenge to conformity could be read as a Cold War allegory about communism. No one’s likely to do that this time.
(3) MORE WRINKLES. The Verge’s Tasha Robinson also isn’t a fan: “A Wrinkle in Time isn’t for cynics — or adults”.
The new Disney film adaptation A Wrinkle in Time, directed by Ava DuVernay (an Oscar nominee for the 2015 historical feature Selma and the 2017 documentary 13th), pays a lot of lip service to that awkwardness but never convincingly captures it. L’Engle’s brand of weirdness can be ugly and unsettling, as her characters suffer physical abuse, fight their own uncontrollable rages, or just spout oddball jargon, oblivious to the ways they’re alienating or offending other people. The film is unmistakably the Disney version of the story, with anything potentially problematic or offensive sanded off and replaced with soft, pastel CGI. It’s a pretty take on the story, but it’s also a frustratingly safe and squishy one. It’s infinitely well-intentioned, full of warm self-affirmation and positivity, and absolutely nothing about it feels emotionally authentic enough to drive those messages home.
(4) BETRAYAL BY DESIGN. The Washington Post’s Michael O’Sullivan, in “Beloved books can turn into terrible movies. Will ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ beat the odds?”, interviews A Wrinkle in Time screenwriter Jennifer Lee, who explains how she updated Madeleine L’Engle’s novel to appeal to contemporary sensibilities.
Ritesh Batra put it best. When I interviewed the director of “The Sense of an Ending,” the 2017 film based on Julian Barnes’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel, the filmmaker told me that the best — and most liberating — advice he ever got was what Barnes told him: “Go ahead and betray me.”
The real question for anyone adapting a book, Batra explained, is not to ask, “What do I want people to see on-screen?” — i.e., plot, action, etc. That’s the easy part. Rather, it’s “What do I want people to feel?”
I proposed the theory — that feeling trumps seeing — to Jennifer Lee, whose “Wrinkle” screenplay (co-written with Jeff Stockwell) forms the basis of director Ava DuVernay’s new film. “It’s funny,” Lee said. “That’s exactly what I say about the approach we took.” Lee’s previous credits include co-directing and writing the Oscar-winning movie “Frozen,” based on a story by Hans Christian Andersen.
The challenge of book adaptation, Lee explained over the phone — particularly when the book’s audience is children, who carry attachments to favorite books for years — is that readers fill in missing details with their imaginations and that a movie “chooses for you.” An additional problem is the fact that film is collaborative: a product not just of words on a page, but also of makeup artists, costumers, casting agents, production designers and, if you’re lucky, a director with the vision to unify it all. There is only so much that a writer can nail down.
(5) STOP STEALING, PLEASE. Looks like it’s time for Disney to write someone a big check: “Artist claims Disney stole his work on a series of album covers and used them for the new Han Solo movie posters”.
An artist has accused Disney of stealing artwork he did on album covers and using it for the posters for Solo: A Star Wars Story.
The retro-styled character posters for the latest Star Wars movie came out in February along with the trailer and feature vintage pop-art style that also include shots of the different characters.
But the posters look almost completely identical to album covers created by Hachim Bahous, who shared the comparisons on his Facebook.
(6) LIBRARIANS WHACKED. The Hollywood Reporter says “‘The Librarians’ Canceled at TNT” but the series might show up again somewhere else.
TNT is closing the book on The Librarians.
The Turner-owned cable network has canceled the drama from showrunner Dean Devlin. Devlin broke the news Thursday, noting that he would look to find a new home for the series that originally started as a TV movie on the cable network.
The fantasy-adventure drama was developed by John Rogers and based on The Librarian by David Titcher. Rebecca Romijn starred in the drama with Noah Wyle recurring and executive producing the series alongside Devlin, Mark Roskin and John Rogers.
(7) IT COULD BE YOU. Applications for new HSS/NASA Fellowships are being taken until April 1 – see “Fellowships in Aerospace History”
Pending renewal of funding, the Fellowships in Aerospace History are offered annually by the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) to support significant scholarly research projects in aerospace history. These fellowships grant the opportunity to engage in significant and sustained advanced research in all aspects of the history of aerospace from the earliest human interest in flight to the present, including cultural and intellectual history, economic history, history of law and public policy, and the history of science, engineering, and management. NASA provides funds to the American Historical Association, the History of Science Society, and the Society for the History of Technology to allow each association to award a fellowship. Applications will be entered into consideration for all three fellowships.
(9) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to polish off a Persian dinner with David Mack in Episode 61 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.
David’s written more than 30 novels, including the Star Trek Destiny and Cold Equations trilogies. He was also responsible for several episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. His newest novel is The Midnight Front, a World War II-era epic fantasy which is the first book in the Dark Arts series of secret-history novels.
The venue for our dinner was Orchard Market and Cafe, a wonderful Persian restaurant recommended by recent guest of the show Norman Prentiss. Norman had told me that the Chicken Fesenjune was one of his favorite things in the whole world, and now that I’ve been there, I can can tell you—he had good reason to say that. Believe me, the food there was wonderful, and I’ll be going back whenever I can.
David and I discussed the weird ways his life entwined with the famed comic book artist who shares his name, how worrying about the details of Star Trek canon helped him when it came time to unravel the secret history of WWII, the way a near-death experience led to him working for the Syfy Channel, why it was so important for necromancers to pay a heavy price for the magic they choose to wield in his new novel The Midnight Front, how not making a pitch to a book editor resulted in him selling TV scripts to Star Trek, his unabashed love for the Beat author Richard Brautigan, the reason that after 27 Trek novels and a ton of other tie-in work he’s chosen to publish his non-franchise breakout book now, and much more.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
- March 9, 1979 — Roger Corman’s film Starcrash debuted.
- March 9, 1984: Stephen King adaptation Children of the Corn premieres in theaters.
- March 9, 2007: Comic adaptation of the 300 opens.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- JJ finds a familiar figure visiting the shrink in Bizarro.
- And in another Bizarro, sees an unexpected way to hack Alexa.
- Chip Hitchcock passes along a real groaner from Rhymes With Orange.
(12) FORGET THAT LONELY GARRET. Jeff Goins’ podcast The Portfolio Life hosts “123: How Community Will Help You Become a Better Writer with Diana Glyer”.
In this episode, Diana and I discuss:
- Who the Inklings are, and why this group still matters today.
- The dynamics and quirks of literary groups.
- How community can positively influence your work.
- Why people believed the individuals within the Inklings were immune to influence from each other.
- The pervasive myth of the solitary genius.
- How great art and writing is forged in community.
- Why writing is not a momentary flash of genius, but a slow and steady work of art.
- What you need to know about the transactional nature of writing.
- Steps you can take to build your own literary group.
Quotes and takeaways
- We are mesmerized by the end of the story, but we forget about the beginning.
- To build community, you have to take a risk and share your work with others.
- Start small when you build a community of support.
- Loneliness will leave you feeling empty, but community will help you sustain your work.
(13) HITCHHIKER AT 40. The BBC is celebrating Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with a new series based on Eoin Colfer’s Hitchhiker novel Hexagonal Phase. Catch the first episode here.
Ars Technical’s Jonathan M. Gitlin says give it a listen:
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy deserves a special place in the geek pantheon. It’s the story of hapless BBC radio editor Arthur Dent, his best friend Ford Prefect, and the adventures that result when Prefect saves Dent when the Earth is unexpectedly destroyed to make way for a galactic bypass. Written by the late, great Douglas Adams, HHGTTG first appeared as a radio series in the UK back in 1978. On Thursday—exactly 40 years to the day from that first broadcast—it made its return home with the start of Hexagonal Phase, a radio dramatization of the sixth and final book of an increasingly misnamed trilogy.
… So I’m happy to report that this latest installment doesn’t disappoint. And even better, unlike the BBC’s TV content, it’s not geoblocked or behind any kind of paywall. So go on, what are you waiting for—the coming of the Great Prophet Zarquon?
(14) CLASS IS IN SESSION. Cat Rambo has been working on promotional graphics lately —
(15) COMPASS CASTING. From Andrew Liptak at The Verge we learn: “Logan star Dafne Keen will play Lyra in the BBC’s adaptation of The Golden Compass”.
The BBC has lined up its star for its upcoming adaptation of Philip Pullman’s novel, The Golden Compass: Logan star Dafne Keen, reports Deadline (via io9). The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper will also helm the 8-part series.
(16) A TANGLED WEB. Dr. Janelle Shane is at it again: “SkyKnit: How an AI Took Over an Adult Knitting Community” in The Atlantic.
Janelle Shane is a humorist who creates and mines her material from neural networks, the form of machine learning that has come to dominate the field of artificial intelligence over the last half-decade.
Perhaps you’ve seen the candy-heart slogans she generated for Valentine’s Day: DEAR ME, MY MY, LOVE BOT, CUTE KISS, MY BEAR, and LOVE BUN.
Or her new paint-color names: Parp Green, Shy Bather, Farty Red, and Bull Cream.
Or her neural-net-generated Halloween costumes: Punk Tree, Disco Monster, Spartan Gandalf, Starfleet Shark, and A Masked Box.
Her latest project, still ongoing, pushes the joke into a new, physical realm. Prodded by a knitter on the knitting forum Ravelry, Shane trained a type of neural network on a series of over 500 sets of knitting instructions. Then, she generated new instructions, which members of the Ravelry community have actually attempted to knit.
(17) BLOWN UP, SIR! Peter Blumberg, in “‘Zombie Go Boom’ Attack on YouTube Ad Policy Is Ruled a Bust”, on Bloomberg, says that the owners of the YouTube Zombie Go Boom channel, in which as many as ten million people a month delight in watching imaginary undead creatures explode, tried to sue Google when they declared that ad revenue for the site would fall from $500 a day to $20 because some advertisers declared the site offensive. But Judge Edward Chen said that Google was under no legal obligation to share any ad revenue with the site.
The freedom to produce a YouTube channel dedicated to bashing the undead doesn’t come with a guarantee of steady income.
So said a judge in ruling Wednesday that Google’s video-sharing website isn’t responsible for taking a big bite out of the revenue that was flowing to the owners of the wildly popular “Zombie Go Boom” channel.
(18) GRINCH TRAILER. Benedict Cumberbatch will voice The Grinch, due in theaters at Christmas.
For their eighth fully animated feature, Illumination and Universal Pictures present The Grinch, based on Dr. Seuss’ beloved holiday classic. The Grinch tells the story of a cynical grump who goes on a mission to steal Christmas, only to have his heart changed by a young girl’s generous holiday spirit. Funny, heartwarming and visually stunning, it’s a universal story about the spirit of Christmas and the indomitable power of optimism. Academy Award® nominee Benedict Cumberbatch lends his voice to the infamous Grinch, who lives a solitary life inside a cave on Mt. Crumpet with only his loyal dog, Max, for company. With a cave rigged with inventions and contraptions for his day-to-day needs, the Grinch only sees his neighbors in Who-ville when he runs out of food.
(19) FLYING CARS. Here’s your flying car (finally) — if you have the money: “Have you ever dreamed of flying in your car?” This BBC video shows Transition and other cars live.
(20) SPEED OF FRIGHT. MIT researchers find fake news ‘travels faster’:
A study of 126,000 rumours and false news stories spread on Twitter over a period of 11 years found that they travelled faster and reached more people than the truth.
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also found that fake news was more commonly re-tweeted by humans than bots.
They said it could be because fake news tends to be “more novel”.
The most common subject matter was false political news.
Other popular topics included urban legends, business, terrorism, science, entertainment and natural disasters.
(21) UNDER CONSTRUCTION. This video at the Disney Blog takes you on a flyover of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge construction site at Disney World.
While the highly anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge lands won’t debut to Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort guests until 2019, eager fans can take a voyage over the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge construction site – right now!
At Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, guests will be transported to the planet of Batuu, a remote outpost on the galaxy’s edge that was once a busy crossroads along the old sub-lightspeed trade routes. Here, guests will find themselves in the middle of the action at two attractions that take detail and immersion to the next level: one that lets guests take the controls of Millennium Falcon on a customized secret mission, and an epic Star Wars adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.
(22) BUCKMINSTER FULLER. The once well-known futurist makes a comeback, sort of, in The House of Tomorrow, in theaters April 27.
16-year-old Sebastian Prendergast has spent most of his life with his Nana in their geodesic dome home tourist attraction where she raises him on the futurist teachings of her former mentor Buckminster Fuller in hopes that one day Sebastian will carry Fuller’s torch and make the world a better place. But when a stroke sidelines Nana, Sebastian begins sneaking around with Jared, a chain-smoking, punk-obsessed 16 year old with a heart transplant who lives in the suburbs with his bible-thumping single father Alan and teenage sister Meredith. Sebastian and Jared form a band and with his Nana’s dreams, his first real friendship, and a church talent show at stake, Sebastian must decide if he wants to become the next Buckminster Fuller, the next Sid Vicious, or something else entirely.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Juliette Wade, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mlex, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]