Pixel Scroll 11/30/19 As Godstalk Is My Scrollness, I Thought Pixels Could Teleport

(1) ONE CRITIC’S CHOICE. Adam Roberts anoints the “Best science fiction and fantasy books of 2019” in the Guardian.

My pick for the book of the year, Tim Maughan’s Infinite Detail (MCD x FSG Originals), is a before-and-after tale of near-future social collapse after a coordinated attack takes the internet down. It’s hard to believe it is a debut, so assured and evocative is Maughan’s writing. As a portrait of the fragility of our current status quo it is as thought-provoking as it is terrifying; you won’t ever take your wifi for granted again.

(2) RESERVATIONS OPEN FOR 2020 NASFIC. The Columbus in 2020 NASFiC hotel room block is now open.

Marriott reservation link

Click on the above link to take you to the Hotel page to book your room for The Columbus NASFIC in 2020 at a cost of $129.00 per night. Room Nights will be available at the discounted rate from August 16th thru the 27th.

You can also go to our website http://columbus2020nasfic.org/our-facilities and click on the link to make your reservation.

Dennis Howard sent the link with this advisory:

I tried to book for 5 nights starting the Wednesday before the convention, but the hotel’s system said that there were no rooms available on Wednesday. So I booked for 4 nights starting Thursday and emailed the con about the issue. Within 24 hours they had added Wednesday to my reservation. So I’m happy. I was probably not the only person having issues because they have now added a note about booking problems on their facilities webpage. But they are obviously working on it.

The note on the Columbus website says —

Apparently there are people who are having issues making extended reservations.
If you are having these issues try and make the reservation for just the weekend of the convention. Until we can get this straightened out, Email the confirmation number to hotel@columbus2020nasfic.org with the dates you want to add and we’ll get them added.

(3) THESE ARE THE VOYAGES. “Star Trek TOS Captain Kirk Cat Polystone Statue” in shops December 18.

James T. Kirk Cat is the inaugural release in Chronicle Collectibles’ new line of the legendary original Star Trek crew, reimagined as cats. This adorable 1:9 scale James T. Kirk Cat comes with his official command chair so that he can direct the furry crew of the Enterprise. Just the right size for any office desk at 7.5 inches tall, you just know this is going to be the right conversation starter at work that combines your love of Star Trek and cats.

(4) TENTACULAR SPECTACULAR. Ursula Vernon weighed in on a question about Disney love interests. Thread starts here.

(5) NEW WORLDS AND OTHERS. Hannah Nussbaum finds forgotten literary connections in UK speculative fiction: “‘An inward looking outer space’: a brief history of Corridor.

What follows is an abridged excavation of the history of Corridor8, under which hides a dense archive of art and literary material reaching back to the 1960s.

The history of Corridor8 begins with Michael Butterworth, the Manchester-based writer, editor, and artist who originally conceived of a publication called Corridor in the early 1970s. This first issue of Corridor can be understood as one discrete point amid a trail of interrelated literary projects fomenting at the time. Before Corridor there was a broadsheet called Concentrate, and before (and during) Concentrate there was a thriving publication called New Worlds. These iterations were surrounded by a succession of other broadsheets and half-imagined projects consigned to the wastebaskets of avant-garde history. The resultant archive relays a history of experimental writing in the North of England, and leads us by way of papery trail to our present Corridor8 platform.

… With these aims (of creating slippages between reader, writer, and editor), Butterworth published the fourth issue Corridor later in 1972, with renewed commitment to destabilising and hybridising form. The teaser language on the cover of the issue shows the extent to which Corridor had evolved into a magazine dedicated to dissolving edges between text-art, criticism, and fiction. This new issue contained a new Jerry Cornelius story by Moorcock, a ‘word movie’ by John Riley, a long poem by Kevin Dixon-Jackson, ‘acid head fantasy’ by Chris Naylor, a review of William Burroughs written by Jay Jeff Jones, experimental work by Trevor Hoyle’s ‘the constant copywriter’ as well as a healthy smattering of letters to the editor. It was an issue that particularly reflected the post-industrial landscape of Manchester: Kevin Dixon-Jackson’s long poem evoked the strange, derelict geometry of Manchester’s city centre, alongside a photo series, also by Jackson, ringing with a palpable hauntology for lost Northern futures.

(6) THE INVISIBLE WOMAN. “Space ageing: where are the galactic grandmas?” According to Nature’s Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, “The lack of older women in sci-fi novels reflects and reifies ageism and sexism.”

As women get old, they gain a superpower: invisibility. And not only in real life. ‘Young adult’ fantasy and science-fiction hits such as Suzanne Collins’s novel series The Hunger Games and Stephenie Meyers’s Twilight series have been taken to task for doing away with mature women. In fantasy generally, older women mainly occupy supporting roles, such as fairy godmothers, wise crones and evil witches. The best are subversions — George R. R. Martin’s Queen of Thorns in A Song of Ice and Fire, for instance, or Terry Pratchett’s wonderful Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg in the Discworld series. All of them embrace old age with gusto. I expected better from science-fiction novels, where alternative worlds and alien nations explore what it means to be human. In 1976, after all, Ursula K. Le Guin argued in her essay ‘The Space Crone’ that post-menopausal women are best suited to representing the human race to alien species, because they are the most likely to have experienced all the changes of the human condition. And Robert A. Heinlein offers a fantastic galactic grandmother in The Rolling Stones (1952): Hazel Stone, engineer, lunar colonist and expert blackjack player irritated by the everyday misogyny of the Solar System.  

(7) CHANDLER AWARD. Nominations for Australia’s A. Bertram Chandler Award for Outstanding Achievement in Australian Science Fiction will open in December. A jury picks the winner.

Nominations for the A Bertram Chandler Award for Outstanding Achievement in Australian Science Fiction will open in December and close 1 February 2020. The Award was established in recognition of the contribution that science fiction writer A. Bertram Chandler made to Australian Science Fiction and to Australian fandom in general. It is Australia’s premier award for lifetime achievement in science fiction.

You are encouraged to nominate a person who fulfils the criteria on the nomination page here at ASFF.

Please read the guidelines carefully before making a nomination. The winner of the award will be announced at the 2020 Natcon — which is Swancon in Perth — over the Anzac Day weekend 2020.

(8) THAT BITES. Andrew Porter was in front of his TV when another group of Jeopardy! contestants plotzed on a genre answer.

Category: Classic British Novels.

Answer: “The title character of this novel says of his home, ‘The wind breathes cold through the broken battlements and casements.'”

Wrong questions:

“What is The Hunchback of Notre Dame?’

“What is Tristam Shandy?”

Correct question (which no one got): “What is Dracula?”

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • November 30, 1959 – On UK screens, The Man Who Could Cheat Death premiered. Starring Anton Diffring and Christopher Lee, Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films says  the film “suffers from an excess of dialogue and a lack of action.” Not surprisingly, it gets only 37% at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 30, 1835 Mark Twain. It’s been decades since I read it but I still know I loved A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court when I read it. His other genre work is The Mysterious Stranger In which Satan might be visiting us went unpublished in his lifetime and it’s only relatively recently with the University of California Press editions of all his completed and uncompleted versions in one volume that a reader can see what he intended. (Died 1910.)
  • Born November 30, 1906 John Dickson Carr. Author of the Gideon Fell detective stories, some of which were decidedly genre adjacent. The Burning Court with Fell is on this list as is his vampire mythos backstoried novels, Three Coffins and He Who Whispers. And I really should note his Sir Henry Merrivale character has at one genre outing in Reader is Warned. (Died 1977.)
  • Born November 30, 1937 Ridley Scott, 82. Alien: Covenant, which did surprisingly well at the box office, is his most recent genre work of note but he’s got a long and distinguished list that includes Blade Runner, Alien, the 1984 Apple advert, Exodus: Gods and Kings , Legend,  Alien: Covenant,  Prometheus and Robin Hood. I’ve watched Blade Runner sans the narration and I’ll say I prefer the original version. 
  • Born November 30, 1945 Billy Drago. Best remembered, I think, as the evil John Bly in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.  He was certainly booked in a lot of genre roles as he has appearances in Cyborg 2,  Sci-Fighters,  Supernatural and X-Files. He also played the demon Barbas in the original Charmed series. He also was in Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, a film I’m sure no one was begging for. He was in the Masters of Horror “Imprint” episode, which Showtime pulled due to “disturbing content” which you can read about here. (Died 2019.)
  • Born November 30, 1950 Chris Claremont, 69. Writer in the comic realm. Best known for his astounding twenty year run on the Uncanny X-Men starting in 1976. During his tenure at Marvel, he co-created at least forty characters. Looking at his bibliography, I see that he did Sovereign Seven as a creator own series with DC publishing it.  And then there’s the matter of Lucas providing the notes for The Chronicles of the Shadow War trilogy to follow the Willow film and then contracting our writer to make them exist.  Anyone ever encountered these?
  • Born November 30, 1955 Andy Robertson. A fan and editor who worked as an assistant editor on Interzone and contributed myriad  reviews and interviews. He published some fiction and edited two anthologies based on the works of William Hope Hodgson’s Night Lands, Volume 1: Eternal Love, featuring tales set in Hodgson’s world, and William Hope Hodgson’s Night Lands Volume 2: Nightmares of the Fall. Alas, they never made into digital editions. (Died 2014.)
  • Born November 30, 1955 Kevin Conroy, 64. Without doubt, best known for voicing Batman on Batman: The Animated Series. Justice League Action which just just had its twofirst seasons on the Carton Network saw him reprise that role with the other characters often noting his stoic personality.  I’ve not seen it, but on  Batwoman, he plays  Bruce Wayne in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two” episode. 
  • Born November 30, 1957 Martin Morse Wooster, 62. He discovered fandom in 1974 when he heard about “a big sci-fi con” in downtown Washington where admission was $10 at the door.  He had ten bucks, and so attended Discon II at 16.  A year later, he discovered fanzines through Don Miller, and discovered he liked writing book reviews.  He has been turning them out ever since.  In 1975, he was one of twelve founders of the Potomac River Science Fiction Society, which split from the Washington Science Fiction Association, and regularly attends PRSFS meetings to discuss books.  He has contributed to File 770 since 1978.
  • Born November 30, 1965 Andrew Tiernan, 54. British actor who, yes, did show up on Doctor Who playing Purcell in “Night Calls”, an Eleventh Doctor story. He’s also played Banquo in MacBeth on The Estate, was a Paris vampire in Interview with the Vampire and, skipping several decades worth of performances, is The Manager in Autómata, a neat sounding Spanish-Bulgarian SF film.

(11) TEN BEST. CBR.com celebrates a famous creator in “Osamu Tezuka: 10 Best Works That Aren’t Astro Boy, Ranked”.

Osamu Tezuka is well known for being “the father of manga”, and for good reason. His prolific and pioneering works, and the way he redefined genres has rightfully earned him that title. It was Tezuka who developed and shaped the modern style of manga that we know today. Many considered him the Japanese equivalent of Walt Disney. Tezuka’s most famous work is arguably Astro Boy, which tells the story of an android with human emotions who is created by Umataro Tenma after the death of his son. But what about Tezuka’s other works? They deserve some love, too. So, here’s Osamu Tezuka’s ten best works that aren’t Astro Boy, ranked.

10. Kimba the White Lion

Kimba the White Lion tells the story of a young cub whose family is killed en route to a zoo before being shipwrecked on the Arabian Peninsula. After the stars form the face of his mother, Kimba must journey back to his home in Africa to become his father’s successor.

Kimba was written early in Tezuka’s career and he drew inspiration from post-WW2 Japan and the hardships and struggles they were facing. Kimba’s story is an emotional tale about self discovery and overcoming adversity, serving as a touching metaphor for Japan’s journey toward prosperity following World War II.

(12) ONE LAST LANDING. “The best holiday displays in NYC, mapped” at Curbed New York helps everyone navigate their way to the showiest decorations around town. Some are genre —

3. Bloomingdale’s

Bloomingdale’s is looking to the stars for its holiday windows this year. Inspired by the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, the store pays tribute to space travel with “An Out of This World Holiday Windows.” The first diorama begins the journey with a silver flying saucer beaming up beings dressed in futuristic fashions followed by a series of extraterrestrial holiday scenes….

(13) BACK IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. The LA Times’ Amy Kaufman writes “How befriending Mister Rogers’ widow allowed me to learn the true meaning of his legacy”, her profile of Sarah Joanne Byrd Rogers.

…On the flight home, I became oddly emotional thinking about Fred and Joanne — about how much they’d affected so many simply by expressing genuine care and kindness toward their neighbors. As she told the moviemakers, Fred wasn’t a saint. Since his death, she feels as if he’s been placed on an even higher pedestal. And she doesn’t like it.

“He’s out there now as somebody who’s somehow way above all the rest of us,” she said. “People invariably say, ‘Well, I can’t do that, but I sure do admire him. I would love to do it.’ Well, you can do it. I’m convinced there are lots of Fred Rogerses out there.”

(14) PULP IN NEW JERSEY. Gary Lovisi and Paperback Parade takes a tour of the “Bold Venture” Annual Pulp Fest in Bordentown NJ.

(15) DC PULLS POSTER. “DC Comics Comes Under Fire for Deleting Batman Poster That Sparked Chinese Backlash”Variety has the story.

DC Comics has yanked a poster for a new Batman title from its social media accounts after the image drew criticism from Chinese commenters who said it appeared to support the ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

The artwork depicts Batman throwing a Molotov cocktail against a backdrop of hot-pink words spelling out the new comic book’s tagline, “the future is young.” It was posted on DC Comics’ Twitter and Instagram accounts; both platforms are blocked in mainland China. The poster was meant to promote a forthcoming DC Black Label comic called “Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child,” due to hit shelves Dec. 11. DC Black Label is an imprint that seeks to appeal to an older-skewing readership through reprints and original limited series.

But the poster came under fire from Chinese internet users who contended that it contained coded messages in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. They said that the Molotov cocktail alluded to young Hong Kong protesters’ more violent tactics, that the “dark knight’s” choice of black attire referred to the black-clad Hong Kong protesters, and that the “golden child” of the book’s title was a veiled reference to the color yellow, which was taken up by previous pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong five years ago….

(16) CAN YOU DIG IT. NPR has learned that “A ‘Mole’ Isn’t Digging Mars: NASA Engineers Are Trying To Find Out Why”.

There’s a mole on Mars that’s making NASA engineers tear their hair out.

No, they haven’t discovered a small, insectivorous mammal on the red planet.

The mole vexing engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena is a scientific instrument known as the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, or HP3 — or just “the mole” — carried on NASA’s InSight probe that landed on Mars a year ago.

“The mole is designed to measure heat flow coming out of the interior of Mars,” says Troy Hudson, InSight’s instrument system engineer.

Scientists are interested to know how much heat is still being generated inside the core of the once geologically active Mars. To do that, the mole has to bury itself about 16 feet below the Martian surface so it won’t be affected by daily temperature fluctuations.

The mole is basically a tube about 16 inches long and an inch in diameter. It has a pointy tip and an internal hammer that works like a kind of pile driver to pound the instrument into the ground.

The frustrations began last February when the digging started. Instead of going down to 16 feet, it got stuck after just 14 inches.

Maybe they need to send for the crew from Armageddon?

(17) FROM GO TO GONE. Yonhap reports: “Go master Lee says he quits unable to win over AI Go players”

South Korean Go master Lee Se-dol, who retired from professional Go competition last week after gaining worldwide fame in 2016 as the only human to defeat the artificial intelligence (AI) Go player AlphaGo, said his retirement was primarily motivated by the invincibility of AI Go programs.

“With the debut of AI in Go games, I’ve realized that I’m not at the top even if I become the number one through frantic efforts,” said Lee.

“Even if I become the number one, there is an entity that cannot be defeated,” he said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency in Seoul on Monday.

AlphaGo, built by Google’s DeepMind Technologies, won four of its five matches against Lee in March 2016, but Lee’s sole win in Game 4 remains the only time a human has beaten the AI player.

A documentary about the epic match was released in 2017.

With more board configurations than there are atoms in the universe, the ancient Chinese game of Go has long been considered a grand challenge for artificial intelligence. On March 9, 2016, the worlds of Go and artificial intelligence collided in South Korea for an extraordinary best-of-five-game competition, coined The DeepMind Challenge Match. Hundreds of millions of people around the world watched as a legendary Go master took on an unproven AI challenger for the first time in history.

Directed by Greg Kohs with an original score by Academy Award nominee, Hauschka, AlphaGo chronicles a journey from the halls of Oxford, through the backstreets of Bordeaux, past the coding terminals of Google DeepMind in London, and ultimately, to the seven-day tournament in Seoul. As the drama unfolds, more questions emerge: What can artificial intelligence reveal about a 3000-year-old game? What can it teach us about humanity?

[Thanks to Dennis Howard, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 10/18/19 What Pixel Should A Poor File Scroll For All Tomorrow’s Entries

(1) COLLECTIBLE PAPERBACKS SPOTLIGHTED. [Item by Andrew Porter.] This daily series of short videos concentrate on vintage and collectible paperbacks. It began barely more than a month ago, and so far, nearly 50 have been uploaded to Gary Lovisi’s YouTube channel.

Episodes have covered (starting with the most recent): Hardboiled Crime Fiction “Frank Kane” with Ron Lesser GGA covers; Dell 10¢ Paperbacks; Edgar Rice Burroughs “John Carter” inspired Pulp SF “Jon Kirk of Ares”; Sherlock Holmes Books; Sleaze “Kozy Books” Series; “The Thing” SF Horror in Paperback; ” UK Cherry Tree Books; Sexy Digest GGA Sleaze; Mysterious Bookshop NYC Tour; “Shuna” Jungle Girl Series; Best Rare US Dime Novels; Hardboiled Pulp Fiction Books; Rare British “World Fantasy Classics”; Fredric Brown early Bantam Paperbacks; “Boardman Bloodhound Books”; Checkerbooks US Paperback Book series; Gold Star “The New Tarzan Book Series”; British Gangster Digests; “Avon Science Fiction Reader” Series; Early Avon SF Fantasy & Horror.

(2) PETER RABBIT DEUX. The sequel arrives in theaters next Easter.

In PETER RABBIT™ 2: THE RUNAWAY, the lovable rogue is back. Bea, Thomas, and the rabbits have created a makeshift family, but despite his best efforts, Peter can’t seem to shake his mischievous reputation. Adventuring out of the garden, Peter finds himself in a world where his mischief is appreciated, but when his family risks everything to come looking for him, Peter must figure out what kind of bunny he wants to be.

(3) TOLKIEN GENESIS. Verlyn Flieger’s Scholar Guest of Honor Address for the 2019 Mythcon, “The Arch and the Keystone”, can be read online at Mythlore.

…Moving forward is more challenging. How can we contrive to move forward when, like Alice’s Red Queen, we have to run faster and faster just to stay in place? The growing body of writing both by and about Tolkien ensures that not only can we no longer read the unknown book I discovered in 1956, we can’t even all read the same book in 2019. We have too many opinions based on too much information from too many sources to come to a consensus. In spite of his fame, in spite of his position at the top of the heap, in spite of The Lord of the Rings’ established position as Waterstone’s Book of the Century, the world has and probably will continue to have trouble agreeing on who/what he is….

(4) BACK IN COSTUME. The Washington Post’s Tim Grieving interviews Mystery Science Theatre 3000 founder Joel Hodgson about why he returned to the series and why he is involved in Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Live, which is playing in Washington DC this weekend. “‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ takes its audience down memory lane — with an eye on the future”.

…This weekend, Hodgson, 59, will sport the red jumpsuit for the first time since 1993 and bring the Great Cheesy Movie Circus Tour to the National Theatre, a live version of the MST3K format familiar to fans: making fun of bad movies — in this case, the British schlockfest “Circus of Horrors” (1960) and the 1986 kung fu flick “No Retreat, No Surrender” — interspersed with sketches.

(5) SF CONFERENCE IN CHINA. At Yunchtime, Mlex shares what he’s found out about “Chinese Science Fiction Conference 2019”, a November event sponsored by Science & Fantasy Growth Foundation.

…With the fourth annual conference scheduled to take place very soon in Beijing Nov 2019, I thought I would delve a little deeper into the conference and the organization behind it.

The 2019 conference will, for the first time, include participants from outside of China. These include Andrei Heim, Kevin Anderson, Leonard Mondrino, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Neil Clarke.

The Conference theme for 2019 is divided into tracks: “science fiction + culture”, “science fiction + technology”, “science fiction + science”, “sci-fi + film” “, science fiction + games”, “science fiction + youth.”

Organizationally, I get the impression that this has a professional team, strategizing about how to capitalize on the popularity of science fiction in China today, and that they are looking for not only ideas, but actual talent….

(6) BACK TO DUBLIN. I’m a bit overdue to link to España Sheriff’s conreport, “Worldcon 2019 in Dublin”.

…Besides the art show and print shop, Warehouse One was also housed several cool displays and craft items. There were half a dozen large scale lego constructions, including a massive Star Wars one by James Shields, a Community Drawing Wall, and a wall of art by Irish artist, including some Steve Dillon comic pages and Ian Clark’s wonderful Dublin 2019 artworks. There was programming in the Odean movie theatre screen rooms, and next door at the Gibson hotel, and some of it looked quite good. But ultimately when deciding what to see I factored in the walk there and back, and unless there were two items one after another there just didn’t seem worth it – by the end I attended no programming at Point Square excepting the art show and artist reception. In retrospect the 7-day LUAS transit pass would have been a good idea, but we didn’t see that option in time.

(7) BACK IN 1938. Let the LA Times’ Michael Rechtshaffen tell you about a cinematic discovery: “Review: Unreleased 1938 silent sci-fi film ‘As the Earth Turns’ boasts analog ingenuity”. The 45-minute film will be shown tonight in Glendale, CA.

Had Steven Spielberg been a 16-millimeter camera-toting teen in the 1930s, his home movies might have looked like “As the Earth Turns,” a black-and-white, silent 45-minute science-fiction film about a peace-crazed scientist named Pax who attempts to persuade the world to put down its weapons by inducing extreme climate change.

Made by Richard H. Lyford, a 20-year-old Seattle-based budding playwright and filmmaker who would go on to work as a Disney animator and Oscar-winning documentary director, the digitally restored 1938 original has been outfitted with a period-appropriate score by contemporary composer Ed Hartman.

(8) CROWDED FRAME. Variety headline: “Record 32 Animated Feature Films Submitted for Oscars”.

The Addams Family,” “Frozen II,” “Toy Story 4,” “Abominable” and “The Secret Life of Pets 2” are among the record 32 movies submitted for the animated feature film category at the 2020 Oscars.

Last year’s Academy Awards race boasted 25 entries, while 2017 had 26 and 2016 had 27 (a then-record).

(9) ROAD MAP. This week’s Nature offers “Tips from a Pulitzer prizewinner” — author Cormac McCarthy. Though this advice is for writing research papers, it’s good, general writing advice…

• Use minimalism to achieve clarity. While you are writing, ask yourself: is it possible to preserve my original message without that punctuation mark, that word, that sentence, that paragraph or that section? Remove extra words or commas whenever you can.

• Decide on your paper’s theme and two or three points you want every reader to remember. This theme and these points form the single thread that runs through your piece. The words, sentences, paragraphs and sections are the needlework that holds it together. If something isn’t needed to help the reader to understand the main theme, omit it.

• Limit each paragraph to a single message. A single sentence can be a paragraph. Each paragraph should explore that message by first asking a question and then progressing to an idea, and sometimes to an answer. It’s also perfectly fine to raise questions in a paragraph and leave them unanswered.

• Keep sentences short, simply constructed and direct. Concise, clear sentences work well for scientific explanations. Minimize clauses, compound sentences and transition words — such as ‘however’ or ‘thus’ — so that the reader can focus on the main message.

(10) WHERE’D SHE GO? NPR’s Scott Tobias sighs, “‘Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil’ Clips Angelina Jolie’s Wings”.

As Disney continues to plunder its animated IP for live-action remakes, where these films fall on the spectrum of pointlessness has to do with how closely they adhere to the source. The remakes that simply copy the material from one format to the other, like Beauty and The Beast or Aladdin, have been consistently enervating whereas the ones that attempt a full gut rehab, like Dumbo or the excellent Pete’s Dragon, at least have the benefit of an independent artistic vision. In this particular creative desert, every droplet of water counts.

The 2014 fantasy Maleficent wasn’t a remake of Sleeping Beauty so much as an alternative telling, an act of playful revisionism that relates to the original as the novel and Broadway musical Wicked relates to The Wizard of Oz. The main twist — that Maleficent isn’t evil, but a wronged fairy taking revenge on a duplicitous king — riffs cleverly on the idea that everyone has their reasons. The film also nests other bits of commentary inside, like questioning whether Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora could have fallen in love so quickly or snickering at the notion that Aurora could dodge Maleficent’s curse by hiding in the woods for 16 years. But it works best as a vehicle for Angelina Jolie, whose enhanced cheekbones and villainous cackle suggested the making of a camp icon.

…Mistress of Evil loses the emotional stakes of the first film, which were rooted in a terrible injustice and the unlikely bond between Maleficent and the cursed princess she comes to adore. There’s a good angle here about the destructive potential of myth, tied to the stories that unfairly poison Maleficent in the human world, but Jolie goes missing for long stretches of the film as Ingrith does her scheming. And while it’s a pleasure to see Pfeiffer lay into a regal villain, it’s odd to see a Maleficent film with so little Maleficent, and all the giggly little sprites in the world can’t make up for it. Jolie was born to play the role, and the best strategy would have been to let her.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.

October 18, 2016 — The new edition of The Star Trek Encyclopedia by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda was released. They were production staff on Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager. It was illustrated by Doug Drexler. Now a two volume. set with a slip case, it has five hundred new entries. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 18, 1917 Reynold Brown. Artist responsible for many SF film posters. His first poster was Creature from the Black Lagoon which Mike included in a recent post, with other notable ones being Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, I Was a Teenage Werewolf and Mothra vs. Godzilla. (Died 1991.)
  • Born October 18, 1938 Barbara Baldavin, 81. She was a recurring performer on Trek first as Angela Martine in “Balance of Terror” and “Shore Leave”.  She would also appear in the final season’s “Turnabout Intruder” as communications officer Lisa.  After that, she had one-offs on Fantasy Island and The Bionic Woman. She retired from the business in 1993.
  • Born October 18, 1938 Dawn Wells, 81. Mary Ann Summers on Gilligan’s Island which y’all decided was genre. She and Tina Louise are the last surviving regular cast members from that series. She had genre one-offs on The Invaders, Wild Wild West and Alf.
  • Born October 18, 1944 Katherine Kurtz, 75. Known for the Deryni series which started with Deryni Rising in 1970, and the most recent, The King’s Deryni, was published in 2014. As medieval historical fantasy goes, they’re damn great. 
  • Born October 18, 1951 Jeff Schalles, 68. Minnesota area fan who’s making the Birthday Honors because he was the camera man for Cats Laughing’s A Long Time Gone: Reunion at Minicon 50 concert DVD. Cats Laughing is a band deep in genre as you can read in the Green Man review here.
  • Born October 18, 1951 Pam Dawber, 68. Mindy McConnell in Mork & Mindy. She did very little other genre work, Faerie Tale Theatre and the Twilight Zone being the only other shows she did. She was however in The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything as Bonny Lee Beaumont which is based off the John D. MacDonald novel of the same name. Go watch it — it’s brilliant! 
  • Born October 18, 1960 Jean-Claude Van Damme, 59. Cyborg, the Universal Soldier film franchise and Time Cop are but three of his genre films. And he’s in some films in ways that aren’t necessarily apparent, i.e. he was an uncredited stunt double in Predator, and he had a cameo in Last Action Hero. 
  • Born October 18, 1964 Charles Stross, 55. I’ve read a lot of him down the years with I think his best being the rejiggered Merchant Princes series. Other favorite works include the early Laundry Files novels and both of the Halting State novels. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater believes in ghastly puns, especially at Halloween.
  • JJ says, “Somehow I don’t think this was quite what Campbell had in mind for psience.” —

(14) CELEBRATING LONGEVITY. “Wonder Woman gets monumental, all-star 750th issue”SYFY Wire has the story.

Wonder Woman is getting a special giant-sized comic book to commemorate an upcoming landmark issue.

Today, DC Comics announced it will assemble an all-star roster of writers and artists who will pack the 96-page super-sized one-shot with stories and artwork that chronicle the Amazonian princess from the 1940s all the way through to today. Contributing to the issue are long-time Wonder Woman scribes Greg Rucka and Gail Simone, along with the book’s current writer, Steve Orlando

(15) THE LATEST COUNT. John Kelly in the Washington Post has a profile of Dick Dyszel, who played “Count Gore De Vol” in Washington’s creature feature on Channel 20 from 1979-87.  The count is still busy, with his website, (countgore.com), and streaming short films on Vimeo. “The horror! Homegrown Count Gore De Vol is back for some Halloween high jinks” (2018 article.)

…I asked Dick which movies scared him as a kid growing up in Chicago. Not many, he said. “What I really liked were the big bug movies: ‘Them.’ ‘Tarantula.’ Things like that.”

In fact, Dick said he didn’t actually see the movie that scared him the most.

“I’m being very honest: There was a trailer I saw in the movie theater,” he said. “There was a closet door opening and some thing came out of the closet. It scared the living daylights out of me. I left the theater. Let’s face it, it’s a cheap horror thing: the unknown coming out of a door.”

Cheap but effective, just like Count Gore.

(16) SOUND RETREAT. SYFY Wire hopes this house may do as much for visiting writers as it did for the original owner: “Stephen King’s Bangor home to serve as archive, writers’ retreat”.

Great news, Stephen King fans … and aspiring writers! The Victorian mansion in Bangor, Maine, that King and his wife Tabitha have called home for decades has been reorged as a nonprofit and will open its ornate bat-decorated gate to scholars and authors.

The Bangor City Council on Wednesday approved the Kings’ request to rezone their home, per a story from Rolling Stone. Going forward, the red mansion at 47 West Broadway where the Kings raised their three children will serve as an archive of King’s work, while a guest house next door would serve as a writers’ retreat. The archive was previously at the Kings’ alma mater, the University of Maine….

(17) THE TIFF SPREADS. Another country objects to a map shown in this animated movie: “Abominable: A DreamWorks movie, a map, and a huge regional row”, followup on a Pixel from a few days ago.

Malaysian censors have ordered a scene to be cut from DreamWorks film Abominable before it is screened there – because of a brief glimpse of a map.

It is the third South East Asian country to take offence at the scene in the film, a Chinese co-production.

The contentious map shows the “nine-dash line”, which China uses to show its claims in the South China Sea.

Parts of the sea and various island groups are claimed by five other Asian countries, as well as China.

Vietnam has already pulled the movie – while Philippine politicians are calling for a DreamWorks boycott.

It might be merely a backdrop in an animated movie – but it shines a spotlight on one of the world’s hottest territorial disputes.

(18) SOME HOBBY. Meet “The man who owns 1,000 meteorites”.

On Christmas Eve 1965 a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite exploded over the Leicestershire village of Barwell.

It was one of the largest and best recorded meteorite falls in British history: witnesses reported a flash in the sky accompanied by a loud bang, followed by a thud as one of the first pieces of space rock landed on the ground. As news of what happened emerged, the media descended on the village and a frantic search for the hundreds of scattered fragments began.

For nine-year-old Graham Ensor, who lived nearby, it was an event that would change his life, sparking an enduring passion for space rocks. The former lecturer now owns about 1,000 specimens, which experts believe could be the largest private collection in the UK.

(19) LOAFING AROUND. Kitchen Overlord celebrates this literary occasion with a ghastly looking baked good: “Dune Week: Spice Stuffed Sandworm Bread”. At the end of the post there are links to even more Dune-inspired recipes.

Since you honor my sietch with your visit, I will share the secrets of creating a proud, impressive, spice-scented effigy of the Great Maker of Arrakis….

 (20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Truth About Test Screenings” on Vimeo, SHAZAM! director David F. Sandberg gives an insider’s view of when test screenings matter and when they don’t.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Mlex, Chip Hitchcock, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]