Pixel Scroll 1/3 The Man from P.I.X.E.L.

coverWARP932 Keith Braithwaite

(1) BRAITHWAITE RESTORES CLASSIC ARTWORK. Gracing the cover of Warp #93, the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association clubzine, is this superlative painting —

The Doctor and his Companion, by Claude Monet (oil on canvas, 1875), a painting dating from a most fertile phase of the renowned French Impressionist’s career, was recently discovered in the attic of a house in Argenteuil in which Monet lived in the 1870s. Little is known of the subjects depicted as the artist left no notes as to their identity or relationship to him. No particulars on the gentleman or lady are to be found, either, in the local historical records of the time and the odd structure beside which the gentleman is standing remains a puzzle. Civic records offer no indication that such a structure ever existed, as if this curious blue box simply appeared out of thin air, and then disappeared just as mysteriously. The title of the work gives us our only clue as to the two subjects, suggesting that the gentleman was, perhaps, a medical doctor travelling with a female relative, Fiancée, or mistress. MonSFFA’s own Keith Braithwaite worked on the restoration of the painting.

(2) BLUE PEOPLE BEWARE. Yahoo! Movies reports “’The Force Awakens’ Barreling Toward ‘Avatar’Record”.

The space opera sequel is moving up the all-time domestic box office charts at a record clip and now is poised to overtake those pointy eared blue aliens as the top grossing film in history. Avatar earned $760.5 million during its stateside run and Star Wars: The Force Awakens has generated $740.4 million domestically after picking up $88.3 million over New Year’s weekend. It should take the crown from Avatar early next week.

(3) AXANAR DECONSTRUCTED. (There’s that word again. I hope I know what it means…) John Seavey at Mightygodking has created a FAQ about the Paramount/CBS lawsuit against Axanar Productions:

Q: Then why are they being sued? Paramount allows lots of these things, don’t they?

A: Oh, yeah. “Star Trek Renegades”, “Star Trek: Of Gods and Men”, “Star Trek Continues”…basically, it seems like as long as nobody’s making any money, Paramount turns a blind eye to these fan films.

Q: But this one they wouldn’t? Why?

A: Well, there is the fact that, in an update on Axanar’s Indigogo campaign, they said, “EVERYTHING costs more when you are a professional production and not a fan film. All of this and more is explained, along with our budget of how we spent the money in the Axanar Annual Report.”

And in that latest annual budget report, they said, “First and foremost, it is important to remember that what started out as a glorified fan film is now a fully professional production. That means we do things like a studio would. And of course, that means things cost more. We don’t cut corners. We don’t ask people to work full time for no pay. And the results speak for themselves.”

And:

“Please note that we are a professional production and thus RUN like a professional production. That means our full time employees get paid. Not much honestly, but everyone has bills to pay and if you work full time for Axanar, you get paid.

Also, no other fan film has production insurance like we do. We pay $ 12,000 a year for that. Again, a professional production.”

Also, in their Indiegogo FAQ, they had this little gem:

“Q: What is Axanar Productions?

Axanar is not just an independent Star Trek film; it is the beginning of a whole new way that fans can get the content they want, by funding it themselves. Why dump hundreds or thousands of dollars a year on 400 cable channels, when what you really want is a few good sci-fi shows? Hollywood is changing. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and other providers are redefining content delivery, and Axanar Productions/Ares Studios hopes to be part of that movement.”

Which kind of contradicts the “fan film” statement.

(4) WILL SMITH’S CHARACTER IS LATE. John King Tarpinian imagines the conversation went like this: “You want how much?  Sorry but your character just died.” In a Yahoo! News interview,  “Will Smith Says It Was Terrible When He Found Out His Independence Day Character Died”.

Will Smith found it unpleasant to learn that the fat lady had sung on Steven Hiller, the character he played in 1996’s Independence Day. “It was terrible when I found out my character died,” Smith told Yahoo.

Hiller’s death was revealed on a viral site for Independence Day: Resurgence. “While test piloting the ESD’s first alien hybrid fighter, an unknown malfunction causes the untimely death of Col. Hiller,” the site’s timeline reads. “Hiller’s valor in the War of ’96 made him a beloved global icon whose selfless assault against the alien mothership lead directly to the enemy’s defeat. He is survived by his wife Jasmine and his son Dylan.” You can see an image of Hiller’s fiery death by clicking here.

(5) ALL KNIGHT. Admiring Fred Kiesche’s Damon Knight quote in a comment here, Damien G. Walter tweeted —

(6) HE FIGURES. Camestros Felapton forays into toy design with his new “Hugo” brand “Stage Your Own Kerfuffle”  figures….

(7) JEFFRO MOVES UP. Vox Day is delegating management of the Castalia House blog to “The new sheriff in town”, Jeffro Johnson:

As Castalia House has grown, it has become increasingly difficult to balance my responsibilities as Lead Editor and as the manager of this blog. Because Castalia House shoots for excellence across the board, I have decided that it is time to step back and hand over my responsibilities for this blog to someone else.

And who is better suited to take it over than one of the very best bloggers in science fiction and gaming? I am absolutely delighted to announce that the Castalia House blogger, author of the epic Chapter N series, and 2015 Hugo nominee for Best Fan Writer, Jeffro Johnson, has agreed to accept the position of Blog Editor at Castalia House.

(8) ARISTOTLE. That leaves Vox Day more time to orchestrate his winter offensive. His first target is File 770 commenter Lis Carey.

Even I occasionally forget how fragile these psychologically decrepit specimens are. Anyhow, it’s a good reminder to ALWAYS USE RHETORIC on them. They’re vulnerable to it; they can’t take it. That’s why they resort to it even when it doesn’t make sense in the context of a discussion, because they are trying to make you feel the emotional pain that they feel whenever they are criticized.

Day is developing a Goodreads author page, and Carey mentioned yesterday she had already seen early signs of activity:

Ah, this may explain a recent comment on one of my reviews of last year’s Hugo nominees–and means maybe I can expect more.

The particular comments were on her review of Castalia House’s Riding The Red Horse.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 3, 1841 — Herman Melville ships out on the whaler Acushnet to the South Seas.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 3, 1892 – J.R.R. Tolkien, honored by Emily Asher-Perrin at Tor.com:

But of course, the world remembers Tolkien for changing the fantasy genre forever. By penning The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien set a framework for fantasy literature that countless authors have attempted to recapture over the years. The creation of Middle-earth, from its languages to its poetry to its rich cultural history and varied peoples, was an astounding feat of imagination that no one had managed before with such detail and ardent care.

(11) SEMIPROZINES. Camestros Felapton continues moving through the alphabet in his “Semiprozine Round-Up: Cs and Ds”.

Keeping on going in the Cs and Ds of semiprozines.

  • The Cascadia Subduction Zone
  • The Colored Lens
  • Crossed Genres Magazine
  • Daily Science Fiction
  • The Dark Magazine
  • Diabolical Plots

(12) PARTS NOT TAKEN. “Leonardo DiCaprio Reflects On Turning Down Anakin Skywalker And Two SuperHero Roles” at ScienceFiction.com:

And it’s a philosophy that has led to him turning down parts in some guaranteed smashes and lots of cha-ching.  He recently revealed that he actually met with George Lucas, but ultimately passed on playing Anakin Skywalker in the ‘Star Wars’ prequels.

“I did have a meeting with George Lucas about that, yes.  I just didn’t feel ready to take that dive. At that point.”

Around this time, DiCaprio instead chose to make ‘Gangs of New York’ and ‘Catch Me If You Can’, the latter of which earned him a Golden Globe nomination.

Still he must be kicking himself.  The role instead went to Hayden Christiansen and look at how his career took… oh, ahem.  Nevermind.

(13) REMEMBERING BAEN. While researching another post, I rediscovered David Drake’s 2006 tribute to the late Jim Baen, who had just recently passed. Shortly before Baen’s death the two were on the phone and Baen asked, “You seem to like me. Why?” The answer is rather touching.

And then I thought further and said that when I was sure my career was tanking–

You thought that? When was that?”

In the mid ’90s, I explained, when Military SF was going down the tubes with the downsizing of the military. But when I was at my lowest point, which was very low, I thought, “I can write two books a year. And Jim will pay me $20K apiece for them–”

“I’d have paid a lot more than that!”

And I explained that this wasn’t about reality: this was me in the irrational depths of real depression. And even when I was most depressed and most irrational, I knew in my heart that Jim Baen would pay me enough to keep me alive, because he was that sort of person. He’d done that for Keith Laumer whom he disliked, because Laumer had been an author Jim looked for when he was starting to read SF.

I could not get so crazy and depressed that I didn’t trust Jim Baen to stand by me if I needed him. I don’t know a better statement than that to sum up what was important about Jim, as a man and as a friend.

(14) PEACE IN OUR TIME. In “The Stormbunnies and Crybullies”, John C. Wright devotes over 2,000 words to making his closing offer irresistible in that special way only he knows how.

But I am a forgiving man, jovial and magnanimous. I make the following peace offer: Go your way. Cease to interfere with me and my livelihood, do your work, cease to libel me and meddle with my affairs, withhold your tongue from venom and your works from wickedness, and we shall all get along famously.

Otherwise, it is against my self interest to seek peace with you. Peace is a two sided affair: both parties must agree. So far only Mr. Martin has even expressed a desire for it.

(15) WHAT KEEPS YOU FROM WRITING? Nandini Balial at Pacific Standard helps writers name their fears — “Gremlins and Satyrs of Rejection: A Taxonomy of Writers’ Foes”

THE SATYRS OF MOUNT OUTLET: Like its cousin Olympus, Mount Outlet stretches far beyond human sight into luxurious billowy clouds. The work its satyrs produce is sharp and daring. Vast networks of bloggers, freelancers, and even reporters churn out viral but self-aware listicles, personal essays that make me cry more than they should, and short stories so good I’m inclined to simply put my pen away. On Twitter, their satyrs (editors) trade barbs and witticisms with the speed of a Gatling gun. A poor peasant like me may approach the foot of the mountain, but my tattered, unworthy scrolls and I will soon turn around and head home.

(16) PUBLISHING STINKS. Kristen Lamb, in “The Ugly Truth of Publishing & How BEST to Support Writers”, says don’t bother reviewing her books on Goodreads, because that’s where the trolls are:

Tweet a picture of our book. Put it on Facebook. People in your network ARE noticing. Peer review and approval is paramount in the digital age. And don’t support your favorite author on Goodreads as a first choice (AMAZON reviews are better). The only people hanging out on Goodreads for the most part are other writers and book trolls.

Support us on your regular Facebook page or Instagram or Twitter. Because when you post a great new book you LOVED your regular friends see that. When they get stranded in an Urgent Care or an airport? What will they remember? THAT BOOK. They won’t be on Goodreads. Trust me.

(17) DISSONANCE. After reading Kristen Lamb’s discouraging words, I encountered M. L. Brennan calling for everyone to get up and dance because Generation V earned out and what that means”. That’s not the next post I’d have expected to see, straight from leaving Lamb’s black-crepe-draped explanation of the publishing industry.

One thing to bear in mind, because it’s easy to lose sight of it when you look at that last paragraph — if I hadn’t received an advance, I wouldn’t have made more money on this book. I would still have earned $7615.78 on the series — except earning that first $7500 would have taken me two years, rather than being entirely in my pocket on the day that Generation V hit the bookstores. And that $7500 paid my mortgage, my electric bill, and other bills, which made it substantially easier for me to write. Without that advance, it would’ve taken me longer to write Iron Night, Tainted Blood, and even Dark Ascension, because I would’ve been having to hustle other work elsewhere and spend less time writing.

(18) NONE DARE CALL IT SF. Whether Joshua Adam Anderson styles himself an sf fan I couldn’t say (though he did take a course from Professor James Gunn), but his LA Review of Books article “Toward a New Fantastic: Stop Calling It Science Fiction” is a deep dive into the abyss of genre. His attempt to define (redefine?) science fiction is precisely what fans love.

LAST JULY, Pakistani science fiction writer Usman Malik published a clarion call for his home country. In it, he made the claim that “[e]ncouraging science fiction, fantasy, and horror readership has the potential to alleviate or fix many of Pakistan’s problems.” While it would be difficult to disagree with the idea that science fiction is a positive force in the world, many of Malik’s reasons for championing the genre are problematic. To begin with, Malik — along with just about everyone else — still, for some reason, calls “science fiction” science fiction. His essay actually contains a handful of reasons why we should stop calling it “science fiction,” and it also inadvertently addresses how and why we need to liberate ourselves from genre itself — and how “science fiction” can help us do just that.

(19) PLANNING BEGINS: Paul Johnson’s early word is that the event to honor his father, the late George Clayton Johnson, might be in February at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.

P Johnson snip Egyptian

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., Paul Weimer, Brian Z., and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 12/26 May The Fives Be Few With You

(1) PLASTIC FANTASTIC. “That’s No Moon: The Models and Miniatures of the Original ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy” at One Perfect Shot.

swmod85

Death Star under construction.

They were aged to perfection, they had had battle scars and blaster marks, grime and grit. Vehicles, ships, cities and worlds felt fully populated when they were nothing more than brilliant creations on a work bench. If the biggest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, the biggest trick a model maker ever pulled was convincing us that a world existed. Before CGI was a practical tool, George Lucas and his team at ILM created some of the most amazing moments in cinema using models and miniatures. Here is a gallery of over 100 photos to highlight their efforts and contributions to the art of effects.

(2) 52 MILES OF THE TWILIGHT ZONE. There will be two marathon showings of The Twilight Zone this coming week.

(3) MORE RETRO FICTION. “The Best of Amazing Stories: The 1940 Anthology” is out. Available in an Amazon Kindle edition for $2.99.

Featuring a kicking cover by Robert Fuqua, illustrating Eando Binder’s Adam Link Fights a War.  (Adam Link was featured in not one, but TWO Outer Limits episodes and, historically interesting, is the first robot character to appear under the title I, Robot.  (Ike’s publisher’s would borrow that title a few years later for a small collection of short stories….), The Best of Amazing Stories, The 1940 Anthology brings you four short stories, five novelettes and a novella.

The contents are: Don Wilcox – “The Voyage That Lasted 600 Years”; David Wright O’Brien – “Truth is a Plague”; Ralph Milne Farley – “The Living Mist”; A. W. Bernal – “Paul Revere and the Time Machine”; Malcolm Jameson – “Monster Out of Space”; Nelson S. Bond – “Sons of the Deluge”; Ed Earl Repp – “The Day Time Stopped Moving”; Ross Rocklynne – “The Mathematical Kid”; Richard O. Lewis – “The Strange Voyage of Dr. Penwing”; Donald Bern – “The Three Wise Men of Space”; with interior illustrations by Frank R. Paul, Julian S. Krupa and H. R. Hammond.

(4) YOUR FAKE STAR WARS NEWS. “Man Who Spoiled New Star Wars Movie Beaten In Theater” from TheGoodLordAbove.

A 20-year-old man named Raymond Chatfield walked out of a premiere of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ on Thursday night and shouted out a major spoiler, which was heard by almost a hundred people waiting on line in the lobby.

“I was waiting on line to see the 10pm showing,” said witness Robert Selvidge. “Then this snot-nose kid walks past the line, shouts out the ending and starts laughing. He totally ruined the movie for everyone…what a jerk!”

Chatfield was immediately assaulted by a Wookie, a Stormtrooper and Boba Fett.

However, this story of fannish rough justice was so compelling that Snopes.com felt the need to announce it is bogus.

(5) IT HELPS TO BE CRAZY. Is fandom a mental illness? “Star Wars fans and video game geeks ‘more likely to be narcissists’, study finds”.

Was the first clue that 100% of fans responding agreed they deserve to be studied?

Those who take part in “geeky events” are more likely to have an “elevated grandiose” level of narcissism, according to a study conducted by the University of Georgia.

Psychologists examined the personality traits of those who turn to “geek culture”, developing a Geek Culture Engagement Scale and a Geek Identity Scale to help quantify the figures.

It was found that those who scored highly on both scales were more likely to narcissists.

Subjects are scored on a scale of one to five, depending on how often they take part in activities such as live action role playing games, Dungeons and Dragons, cosplaying, puppetry, robotics – and enjoying things such as video games and Star Wars.

Or maybe there’s only an issue with fans who attend Dragon Con? The article doesn’t say that’s where the survey was done, but it’s suggestive that “The research was conducted across 2,354 people attending a science fiction and fantasy convention in Georgia.”

(6) SAD BUT TRUE. Andrew Liptak, who has the right date of George Clayton Johnson’s death in his io9 obituary, is being forced to endure “corrections” left in comments by people telling him that George died on the 22nd because they read it in the Wikipedia….

(7) STRIPED PUPPIES? Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson thinks “Puppies Won’t Change Their Stripes Even If GRRM Wants Them To”.

I don’t really like to criticize (or even disagree) with Mr. Martin (he was adamantly opposed to my No Award strategy last year and that was no fun).  Not only do I run the risk of pissing off his legions of fans, but I also run the risk of giving puppies fodder for their wood chipper;  ‘oh look, the SJWs are fighting amongst themselves;  take heart, puppies, we’re winning’ and that’s most definitely not fun.

But when it comes to the Hugo Awards, Worldcon and Fandom, I’ve got feelings.

Those feelings tell me that Mr. Martin’s good will is misplaced.  I can say this with a fair degree of confidence because they’ve already been rejected by the people who were the intended recipients.  GRRM wasn’t talking to anyone other than puppies.  It is a given that Fans already share his sentiments.  We would all be more than happy to put this sad affair behind us and move on to find something less visceral to argue about among ourselves, like whether Star Trek or Star Wars is the greatest SF property of all time (apologies to Firefly, Stargate, Babylon 5, Battlestar and fans of other epics, and a side nod to those Trekkies who will always ask “TOS or Nextgen?”).

(8) WHALE OF A TALE. The Vault displays the crew list of the whaling ship Acushnet from 1840, containing the name of a future author (and Bradbury inspiration).

This crew list for the whaler Acushnet, filed with the collector of customs in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in December 1840, incudes the name and physical description of the 21-year-old Herman Melville. The list marks the beginning of the epic trip that was to provide the author with material he used to write his maritime novels Typee (1846); Omoo (1847); Mardi (1849); Redburn (1849); White-Jacket (1850); and Moby-Dick (1851).

(9) SHE WAS FANTASTIC. AND AMAZING. “Cele Godsmith Lalli” remembered at Sweet Freedom.

A photo (oddly a rarity online) of Cele Goldsmith Lalli and her husband Michael, along with photographer and Science Fiction Chronicle editor/publisher Andrew Porter’s obituary for this key magazine editor…she who “discovered” or first professionally published in fantasy and sf such writers as Ursula K. Le Guin, Sonya Dorman (as a prose writer), Thomas M. Disch, Ben Bova, Piers Anthony, and Roger Zelazny, among others…as assistant editor of Fantastic and Amazing, earlier, she had pulled out and accepted Kate Wilhelm’s first story.

After Ziff-Davis sold their fiction magazines in 1965, Goldsmith Lalli went on to work on Modern Bride and served as editor-in-chief for an noteworthy, lengthy term, and an award in the wedding industry is named in her honor.

(10) ADDITIONAL RED CRAYONS NOT INCLUDED. The Official A Game of Thrones Coloring Book came out in October.

Game of Thrones coloring bookIn a world where weddings are red, fire is green, and debts are paid in gold, countless images leap off the page thanks to the eye-popping intricacy of the vivid settings and details. Now, for the first time, fans of this blockbuster saga can fill in the blanks and marvel as this meticulously imagined universe comes to life, one sword, sigil, and castle at a time. With dozens of stunning original black-and-white illustrations from world-renowned illustrators Yvonne Gilbert, John Howe, Tomislav Tomi?, Adam Stower, and Levi Pinfold….

(11) DEL TORO’S PICKS. “Guillermo del Toro’s Top 10” at The Criterion Collection contains a lot more than 10 movies because “he decided on ties or rather, ‘thematic authorial pairings.”

One of the “ties” is between Brazil and Time Bandits.

Terry Gilliam is a living treasure, and we are squandering him foolishly with every film of his that remains unmade. Proof that our world is the poorer for this can be found in two of his masterpieces. Gilliam is a fabulist pregnant with images—exploding with them, actually—and fierce, untamed imagination. He understands that “bad taste” is the ultimate declaration of independence from the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie. He jumps with no safety net and drags us with him into a world made coherent only by his undying faith in the tale he is telling. Brazil remains one of the most important films of my life, and Time Bandits is a Roald Dahl–ian landmark to all fantasy films. Seeing Time Bandits with my youngest daughter just two weeks ago, I was delighted when she laughed and rejoiced at the moment when Kevin’s parents explode into a cloud of smoke.

(12) EDIBLE BOT. ”How to bake a droid” displays a gingerbread BB-8 on Imgur. (Keep scrolling down.)

(13) TRANSFORMATIVE MELTDOWN. Archive of Our Own (AO3), the fan-run fanfiction archive, hit a new milestone — 20,000 fandoms — despite the fannish organisation that runs the AO3, the Organization for Transformative Works, having a bit of a meltdown involving almost the entire board quitting, leaving only two very new elected board members.

The proximate cause, according to the Fanlore wiki overview, was a decision of the outgoing directors to fill a vacancy on the board with the candidate who finished last in the recent election rather than a higher-placing runner up. At the open online meeting of the directors on November 22, there was substantial pushback – here is a transcript.

The directors resigned en masse in an announcement that also tried to justify their actions.

The OTW Board of Directors voted at its regularly scheduled meeting on 22 November to appoint Andrea Horbinski to serve the remainder of the term vacated in 2014 by Anna Genoese, ending 31 December 2016. Filling board vacancies by appointment is a normal part of board work provided for in Article V §4 of the OTW Bylaws, and the Board has done so at multiple points in the past.

After discussion with the rest of the Board, Andrea Horbinski has decided to decline the appointment to the OTW Board for 2016. She has tendered her resignation from the Board effective 15 December 2015. Soledad Griffin, Jessica Steiner, Eylul Dogruel, Cat Meier, and M.J. MacRae are also resigning from the Board effective on that date. Those who currently serve as members of OTW committees will remain with the organization in their staff roles but not their Board roles.

The remaining directors have coped with the help of OTW’s volunteer committees.

The OTW and its projects, including the Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, and Transformative Works and Cultures, are operating normally. Our volunteers are still carrying out their work and will continue to do so throughout this process. Rest assured that everyone’s first priority is to keep the projects and the organization running smoothly.

We, Matty Bowers and Atiya Hakeem, new Board members elected earlier this month, will take office on December 1st. We should have access to all the tools and information available well before the 15th.

Some of the board of directors vacancies have now been filled.

Over the past couple of weeks we have considered the possibility of holding another election. However, after reviewing the organization’s by-laws, consulting the Elections team regarding the workload and demands related to the electoral process — both for candidates and for the Elections team, which has just reached the end of a complex season — and considering the likelihood that the only people stepping forward to run in a theoretical election may have just gone through an election in November, we have decided to maintain the regular election schedule.

Instead, in accordance with the organization’s by-law provisions regarding the filling of Board vacancies, we’ve appointed the top three runner-up candidates in the November elections, Alex Tischer, Katarina Harju and Aline Carrão, to fill the Board seats left vacant by Jessica Steiner, Margaret J MacRae and Soledad Griffin’s resignations for the remaining two years of their terms. The seat previously occupied by Anna Genoese will be kept empty during the next year and will be up for election in 2016 along with a seventh Board seat.

[Thanks to Meredith, Michael J. Walsh, Andrew Porter, David Doering, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

George Clayton Johnson (1929-2015)

One of the most fan-friendly pros ever, George Clayton Johnson passed away at 12:46 p.m PST on December 25 from cancer. He had been in hospice care in his final days and there were many premature reports of his death.

Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Johnson wrote that he loved reading the pulps “while surviving an Okie upbringing, a broken home, an alcoholic mother and institutional lockstep in a state orphanage with an occasional escape into a public library or a movie house.”

He briefly served as a telegraph operator and draftsman in the Army. Using his benefits under the G.I Bill he enrolled in an Alabama college, then dropped out to travel, supporting himself as a draftsman.

On coffee breaks working as a draftsman detailing wind-tunnels for U.S. Steel, and later the boss of my own drafting service in Van Nuys designing ticky tacky for the San Fernando Valley, and later still while hanging out, a beatnik-wild bird, faced with foreclosure and crab-grass in my G.I. home in Pacoima, trying to be a writer, I drove myself and all who met me into a frenzy over the question, “What is a story?”

Those who taught him the answer included members of “The Group,” also referred to as “The Southern California School of Writers,” among them Charles Beaumont, William F. Nolan, John Tomerlin, Richard Matheson, OCee Ritch, and Chad Oliver.

He began to sell. Alfred Hitchcock Presents developed one of his submissions into the 1959 episode “I’ll Take Care of You.”

Then the script he wrote with Jack Golden Russell, bought “blind” as a vehicle for Frank Sinatra’s “Rat Pack”, became Ocean’s Eleven (1960). However, it was heavily rewritten and earned them only a story credit.

That same year he connected with The Twilight Zone series, which bought his story “All Of Us Are Dying.” Rod Serling turned it into the 1960 episode “The Four Of Us Are Dying.”

Johnson would go on to write four episodes of The Twilight Zone, such as “Kick the Can”, “Nothing in the Dark” featuring a very young Robert Redford, and “A Game of Pool” with Jonathan Winters and Jack Klugman. Two others were based on his stories, and one more was done from his story under a pseudonym.

Accepting an Emmy for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama for The Twilight Zone in 1961, Rod Serling thanked the “three writing gremlins who did the bulk of the work: Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, and George Clayton Johnson.”

George created some monumental tv and film stories, though he didn’t always enjoy paydays worthy of his efforts. The Wikipedia relates —

In 1960, George Clayton Johnson submitted a story to The Twilight Zone called “Sea Change” which was purchased by Rod Serling. The premise of the story was, “Off the coast of California, there’s a man in a boat. Through an accident his hand is cut off. Miraculously, he re-grows a new hand. But what he doesn’t realize is that out there in the kelp beds, the hand is re-growing a new man…”

Serling planned to produce “Sea Change” for the 1960 season, but General Mills, a sponsor for The Twilight Zone at the time, rejected it for being too violently graphic. Serling was then forced to call Johnson and ask him to buy the story back (for $500.00),

In 1962, Johnson convinced Ray Bradbury to let a short film be made from Ray’s story “Icarus Montgolfier Wright.” Johnson wrote the screenplay. Joseph Mugnaini created the images and Ross Martin (later of Wild Wild West) voiced the narration. Although it screened for only twelve days at a theater in Westwood, the film wound up being nominated for an Oscar.

George Clayton Johnson and Ray Bradbury watch restored "Icarus Montgolfier Wright"

George Clayton Johnson and Ray Bradbury watch restored “Icarus Montgolfier Wright” at the Motion Picture Academy in 2008.

Johnson also wrote episodes of Honey West, Kentucky Jones, Kung Fu, The Law and Mr. Jones, Mr. Novak, and Route 66.

On the print side, he sold stories to Rogue editor Frank Robinson, and William F. Nolan at Gamma.

Johnson also had six credits as an actor. The first was as a Coast Guard officer in a 1961 episode of Sea Hunt. His last role was as Father Time, in a soon-to-be-released film by Gabe Bartalos titled Saint Bernard. Look for it in 2016.

Johnson and William F. Nolan appeared in The Intruder (1962), which they call the only Roger Corman movie to have lost money at the box office.

“I loved being an actor, and between Bill and me we set up a couple of very archetypal evil guys,” Johnson remembered. “It all came about because the people we were hiring on the spot [in Missouri] to read for these parts…could not say lines.”

Nolan and Johnson liked to tell how they made make funny faces when standing behind the lead actor, William Shatner, as he spoke his lines.

Johnson went from making fun of Shatner’s lines to writing them, scripting the first aired episode of Star Trek, “The Man Trap” (1966), in which he also coined Dr. McCoy’s iconic line, “He’s dead, Jim.”

His next big splash was co-writing with William F. Nolan the cult classic Logan’s Run. As Nolan tells it, “George wanted to immediately create a screenplay, but I felt strongly that it should be a novel first. George acquiesced, and we rented a motel room to remove distractions and for three weeks we took turns at the typewriter. The rest is history.”

They sold the novel to Dial Press, and the screen rights to MGM for $100,000. Although they despaired of the movie ever being made as the project passed through the hands of various producers and directors, it finally came out in 1976.

Logan's Run collaborators William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson in 2009.

Logan’s Run collaborators William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson in 2009.

The first time I met George Clayton Johnson was in the 1970s when I was student living at home Sylmar. I learned he lived in nearby Pacoima and went over to his house to drop off a copy of my crudely mimeographed fanzine. He and his wife, Lola, were very kind to me on that quick visit.

I also saw him speak at a LASFS meeting in 1972 when he was freshly returned from teaching at the Clarion SF Workshop. One of his statements I have never forgotten. He said everyone has one story in them – their own. And if they pay close attention when they write that first story, they may be able to write another, and another. Otherwise, they never become writers.

Johnson was known to everyone as a gracious, accessible and friendly individual, and continued to be celebrated down the years by all his colleagues and readers. John King Tarpinian helped organize Johnson’s annual birthday celebration at Mystery & Imagination Bookshop in Glendale, where Johnson often did signings and gave talks, many of them reported here on File 770.

For George Clayton Johnson’s 86th birthday, L.J. Dopp did a wonderful painting titled “The Fictioneer,” with images from George’s most famous TV and movie work. The only reward Dopp wanted was the thrill of seeing the expression on George’s face when he saw it for the first time.

GCJ tribute by LJ Dopp

Johnson would say that he always wanted to “leave his footprints in the sand,” and that he did.

He is survived by his wife, Lola Johnson, daughter Judy Olive, and son, Paul B. Johnson. Paul says in around 30 days he will announce a “lifetime celebration” party that will be held in his memory.

Where No George Has Gone Before

George Clayton Johnson and artist L.J. Dopp.

George Clayton Johnson and artist L.J. Dopp.

By John King Tarpinian: Today was the 86th birthday party for George Clayton Johnson. My head count was 52 souls. Some old friends, some fans. The surprise guest, who came up from that little convention down in San Diego, to wish George well was William F. Nolan. How’d Bill and George meet? Why at Charles Beaumont’s house, of course. Bill was impressed that George had just finished this movie script for Frank Sinatra, Ocean’s Eleven. They have been fast friends ever since.

They reminisced about their stay in that little hotel in Malibu while co-writing Logan’s Run. They talked about their acting in The Intruder, the only Roger Corman movie to have lost money at the box office. How they would make funny faces when standing behind the lead actor, William Shatner, as he spoke his lines. (If you have not seen this film you’d be surprised at how well it has held up, not to mention Shatner did a pretty good job acting.)

Denning Etchison and Peter Atkins read a few passages from George’s works. Many more stories where shared.  Questions were asked and answered.  Laughs were had by all.

George is one of those people who when you say his name a blank stare usually follows. Then you rattle off a short list of what he has done and eyes widen while smiles appear.

L.J. Dopp Wishes George Clayton Johnson a Happy Birthday

GCJ tribute by LJ Dopp

“The Fictioneer.” Tribute to George Clayton Johnson painted by L.J. Dopp.

L.J. Dopp painted “The Fictioneer” for George Clayton Johnson’s birthday, incorporating visual references to George’s most famous TV and movie work. The only reward Dopp wanted was the thrill of seeing the expression on George’s face when he saw it for the first time.

It’s a boon for Mystery & Imagination Bookshop customers, too — get a Dopp poster free with $100 purchase…signed by George

Today Is George Clayton Johnson’s Birthday Party

George Clayton Johnson by Tony Gleeson.

George Clayton Johnson by Tony Gleeson.

Fans will celebrate George Clayton Johnson’s 86th birthday today at 2 p.m. at Mystery & Imagination Bookshop in Glendale.

Johnson wrote the first aired Star Trek episode, had multiple Twilight Zone credits, co-authored the novel Logan’s Run, and the script for the original Ocean’s 11.

Mystery and Imagination is at 238 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, CA 91204.

Celebrate George Clayton Johnson’s 86th Birthday at Mystery & Imagination

GCG86 COMPGeorge Clayton Johnson celebrates his 86th birthday on July 11 at Mystery & Imagination Bookshop in Glendale.

Johnson wrote the first aired Star Trek episode, had multiple Twilight Zone credits, co-authored the novel Logan’s Run, and the script for the original Ocean’s 11.

See you July 11, 2 p.m., at Mystery and Imagination, 238 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, CA 91204

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

A Very Trek Day in Glendale 7/12

JulyPosterThere will be an open meeting of the Alameda Writers Group today, Saturday, July 12th, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Glendale Central Library featuring a panel moderated by Access Hollywood’s Scott Mantz and joined by –

  • Mark Altman, Castle (2009, co-producer), Necessary Roughness (2011, producer), Femme Fatal (2012, as executive producer) Free Enterprise (writer/producer), for which he won the AFI award as Best New Writer.
  • Walter Koenig, Star Trek’s “Chekov,” also a screenwriter and author.
  • Marc Cushman, author, TV writer, teacher, and Saturn Special Award Winner for his series of books  “These Are The Voyages: TOS”.
  • John D.F. Black, writer, WGA winner, Edgar Allen Poe Award Winner, Emmy nominee, Hugo nominee; wrote and produced for first Star Trek, plus Next Generation, also wrote screenplay for the first Shaft movie.

Then at 2:00 p.m. Glendale’s Mystery & Imagination Bookshop will celebrate George Clayton Johnson’s 85th birthday.

Johnson wrote the first aired Star Trek episode, had multiple Twilight Zone credits, co-authored the novel Logan’s Run, and the script for the original Ocean’s 11.

(Mystery and Imagination, 238 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, CA 91204.)

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Today’s Birthday Boys 7/10

Earl Hamner Jr.

Earl Hamner Jr.

Today, July 10, is George Clayton Johnson’s 85th birthday and Earl Hamner, Jr.’s 91st birthday.

Among their vast and impressive writing credits, two have a special symmetry.

George Clayton Johnson’s “The Man Trap” was the first aired Star Trek episode (1966) – while Earl Hamner Jr.’s “The Bewitchin’ Pool” was the last aired episode of Twilight Zone.

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George Clayton Johnson

And two more items of birthday trivia:

  • In today’s paper there is an article about NASA officially giving up on trying to revive a satellite. The NASA spokesman remarked, “It’s dead, Jim.”  Of course that’s from Star Trek – and it’s in the first aired episode by George Clayton Johnson that Bones says, “He’s dead, Jim.” 
  • Earl Hamner worked on Falcon Crest, a series where the late Don Matheson (whose passing was reported earlier today) had a role.