Pixel Scroll 12/20/20 May The Luck Of The Seven Pixels Of Gulu Be With You At All Times

(1) COVID-19 VACCINATION. First responder and noted fanzine fan Curt Phillips posted a photo on Facebook of him receiving the injection —

First Covid 19 vaccination accomplished this morning. Fast, simple, easy. No adverse reactions at all. *Everybody* should get one!

Soon as we can, Curt! He’s followed up in the intervening hours with a couple of posts to say there were no complications and there was no more arm soreness than there is with his annual flu shot.

(2) IN OVERTIME. “An earlier universe existed before the Big Bang, and can still be observed today, says Nobel winner”, quoted in Yahoo! News.

…The timescale for the complete evaporation of a black hole is huge, possibly longer than the age of our current universe, making them impossible to detect.

However, Sir Roger believes that ‘dead’ black holes from earlier universes or ‘aeons’ are observable now. If true, it would prove Hawking’s theories were correct.

Sir Roger shared the World Prize in physics with Prof Hawking in 1988 for their work on black holes.

Speaking from his home in Oxford, Sir Roger said: “I claim that there is observation of Hawking radiation.

“The Big Bang was not the beginning. There was something before the Big Bang and that something is what we will have in our future.

“We have a universe that expands and expands, and all mass decays away, and in this crazy theory of mine, that remote future becomes the Big Bang of another aeon. 

“So our Big Bang began with something which was the remote future of a previous aeon and there would have been similar black holes evaporating away, via Hawking evaporation, and they would produce these points in the sky, that I call Hawking Points.

“We are seeing them. These points are about eight times the diameter of the Moon and are slightly warmed up regions. There is pretty good evidence for at least six of these points.”

(3) MULTIPLE CHOICES. The Guardian’s “Can you crack it? The bumper books quiz of 2020” includes a question about Iain Banks which I missed, so to heck with it anyway. (It’s a wide-ranging quiz. There are several more sff-themed entries. I missed almost every one of them, too, so double to heck with it.)

What day job did the Booker winner have while writing his novel? Who was rejected by Mills & Boon before becoming a bestselling author? Test your wits with questions from Bernardine Evaristo, Jonathan Coe, David Nicholls and more

(4) FAN SERVICE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from Isaac Asimov’s In Memory Yet Green.

In The Early Asimov, I included “Big Game” among the list of those stories of mine that disappeared.  Not so.  I had it all these years and, without knowing it, had included the manuscript with papers of mine that I had donated to the Boston University library.  A young science-fiction enthusiast, Matthew Bruce Tepper, who had prepared an accurate and exhaustive bibliography of my science fiction, went through my papers at BU, uncovered the manuscript, and sent me a Xerox copy.  I had the story published in Before The Golden Age (Doubleday, 1974).

(5) IN MEMORY YET BROWN. Scott Edelman asks for help in tracing the history of this DC in 1974 Worldcon bid promotional shopping bag.

I found this among my late sister-in-law Ellen Vartanoff’s collection of science fictional memorabilia — an item I’d never seen before, promoting both Disclave and the 1974 D.C. Worldcon. You, who know all and see all, surely know when and where this might have been handed out — right?

And if not you, perhaps one of your readers.

(6) SOUNDS HAPPY. In “Christopher Eccleston opens up on returning to Doctor Who”, Radio Times interviews the actor about his audio roles for Big Finish.

…Eccleston went on to praise the scripts, which he described as “beautiful” – adding that the care and knowledge that had gone into them had played a huge part in easing him back into the role after such a long time away.

“That’s what made it feel seamless,” he said. “I felt that you [Briggs] understood what he was all those years ago – and so it was like putting on a pair of old shoes. Running shoes!

“Doing the scripts, you do get the sense of somebody who’s completely immersed in the lore of the show. I think what I realised, with all my writers, when I did the 13 episodes – and with this – is basically you’re playing the writer.

“You’re playing Steven Moffat, you’re playing Russell T Davies, you’re playing you [or] Rob Shearman… you’re playing them, their projected self, as the Doctor – and that’s what’s nice, because he has a slightly different voice from episode-to-episode while having continuity, of course. You all wanna be the Doctor!”

(7) GEISER OBIT. Artist David Geiser died in October.  The East Hampton Star  traced his career.

David Geiser, an artist whose career ranged from the underground comics he created in San Francisco in the late 1960s and 1970s to heavily textured mixed-media works he focused on after moving to New York in 1979, died unexpectedly of heart disease in his sleep at home in Springs on Oct. 14. He was 73.

A prolific artist, his work from the underground comics early in his career to recent drawings such as “Snail Ridin’ the Mouse” and “Dog Boy (a Young Cynic)” reflect his not only his wit and the eccentricity of his vision but also his remarkable draftsmanship….

“David left behind scores of underground comics from his early years in San Francisco, and hundreds of drawings and paintings,” as well as sculptures ranging in size from five inches square to 10 feet by 10 feet, according to Mercedes Ruehl, his partner since 1999. “In his spare time he was an avid reader of contemporary fiction from a wide array of cultures and nationalities,” she added….

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1995 – Twenty five years ago, Elizabeth Hand won the Otherwise Award for Waking the Moon. It would go on to win the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature the next year. And Terri Windling would in her fantasy summation in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: Eighth Annual Collection select it as of her best books of the year. The American first edition cuts one hundred pages out of the British first edition. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 20, 1897 – Susanne Langer, Ph.D.  First woman popularly and professionally recognized as an American philosopher.  Fellow of the Amer. Acad. Arts & Sciences.  Cellist.  Five short stories for us, in The Cruise of “The Little Dipper”.  (Died 1985) [JH]
  • Born December 20, 1930 – Tom Boardman, Jr.  Son of the founder of UK’s Boardman Books, managing director after it left the family, SF advisor to Gollancz, Four Square, Macdonald, New English Lib’y.  Edited five reprint anthologies 1964-1979.  An ABC of SF got Aldiss to Zelazny if we allow its pseudonymous B.T.H. Xerxes.  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born December 20, 1943 Jacqueline Pearce. She’s best remembered as the villain Servalan on Blake’s 7. She appeared in “The Two Doctors”, a Second and Sixth Doctor story  as Chessene, and she’d voice Admiral Mettna in “Death Comes to Time”, a Seventh Doctor story. I’d be remiss not to note her one-offs in Danger ManThe AvengersThe Chronicles of Young Indiana Jones and The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. (Died 2018.) (CE)
  • Born December 20, 1952 Kate Atkinson, 68. A strong case can be made that her Jackson Brodie detective novels are at least genre adjacent with their level of Universe assisting metanarrative. (The Jason Isaacs fronted series is superb.) The Life After Life duology is definitely SF and pretty good reading. She’s well stocked on all of the digital book vendors. (CE) 
  • Born December 20, 1952 Jenny Agutter, 66. Her first SF role was Jessica 6, the female lead in Logan’s Run. Later genre roles include Nurse Alex Price in An American Werewolf in London (fantastic film), Carolyn Page in Dark Tower which is not a Stephen King based film, an uncredited cameo as a burn doctor in one of my all-time fav films which is Darkman, and finally she was Councilwoman Hawley in The Avengers and The Winter Soldier.  (CE)
  • Born December 20, 1957 – Angela Hunt, Ph.D., age 63.  Two novels, five shorter stories for us; a hundred fifty books, children’s, middle-graders’, adults’; some nonfiction; five million copies sold.  Romantic Times Book Club Lifetime Achievement Award.  A Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year.  Also Angela Hunt Photography.  One of her dogs was on Live With Regis and Kelly as second largest in America.  [JH]
  • Born December 20, 1960 Nalo Hopkinson, 60. Named a SFWA Grand Master this year. First novel I ever read by her was Brown Girl in The Ring, a truly amazing novel. Like most of her work, it draws on Afro-Caribbean history and language, and its intertwined traditions of oral and written storytelling. I’d also single out Mojo: Conjure Stories and Falling in Love With Hominids collections as they are both wonderful and challenging reading. Worth seeking out is her edited Whispers from the Cotton Tree Root: Caribbean Fabulist Fiction.  She was a Guest of Honor at Wiscon thrice. Is that unusual? (CE) 
  • Born December 20, 1967 – Jukka Halme, age 53.  Chaired three Finncons.  Guest of Honor at Eurocon 33 (Stockholm) and 37 (St. Petersburg).  GUFF (Going Under Fan Fund when southbound, Get Up-and-over Fan Fund northbound) delegate, attended the 55th Australian national convention (“natcon”) in Brisbane.  Chaired the 75th Worldcon (called simply “Worldcon 75”; opinions expectably differ on naming these things).  Seen in fanzines e.g. ChungaTwinkThe White Notebooks.  Served on the 2020 Tähtifantasia (“star fantasy”) Award jury.  [JH]
  • Born December 20, 1970 Nicole de Boer, 50. Best remembered for playing the trill Ezri Dax on the final season of Deep Space Nine (1998–1999), and as Sarah Bannerman on The Dead Zone. She’s done a number of genre films including Deepwater Black, Cube, Iron Invader, and Metal Tornado, and has one-offs in Beyond RealityForever KnightTekWarOuter LimitsPoltergeist: The LegacyPsi Factor and Stargate Atlantis. Did I mention she’s Canadian? (CE)
  • Born December 20, 1981 – Nick Deligaris, age 39.  Digital artist.  Two dozen covers, and much else.  Here is Bypass Gemini.  Here is Skykeep.  Here is Nova Igniter.  He did the cover and is interviewed in this issue of Deep Magic.  He has an interior on p. 5 of this issue of Tightbeam (PDF).  [JH]
  • Born December 20, 1990 – Ashley Dioses, age 30.  Five short stories; a hundred forty poems in The Audient VoidThe Literary HatchetRavenwood QuarterlySpectral RealmsWeirdbook; collection Diary of a Sorceress.  Inspired by Poe.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) SEASON’S READINGS. Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Lavie Tidhar suggest “The perfect science fiction, fantasy and genre-bending tales for the chilly days ahead” in their column for the Washington Post.

.. Lavie: Let me throw the first snowball here: I’m going with Tove Jannson’s “Moominland Midwinter” (translated from the Swedish by Thomas Warburton), one of the true greats and my favorite moomin book. Moomintroll wakes up alone from hibernation to find the world transformed, and everyone he knows is gone or sleeping (apart from Little My, who’ll never miss the fun). If you don’t cry over “The Squirrel With the Marvelous Tail,” you’re a monster. I reread it a few weeks ago and it’s just as wonderful as ever.

(12) NIVEN’S GENESIS. Fanac.org adds constantly to its online fannish collection. Among the latest gems are the programs from the series of LASFS Fanquets the club used to hold to honor members’ first pro sales. Larry Niven is now a Grand Master, but once upon his time he made his first sale to If. Read about his early career and what Fred Pohl liked about his work in Fanquet 13 edited by Bruce Pelz.

(13) ANOTHER ONE OF THE GREATS. Also deserving of praise is Fanac.org’s success in filling out its online collection of John Bangsund’s zines Australian Science Fiction Review and Scythrop.

Australian Science Fiction Review was nominated for Best Fanzine in 1967 and 1968. In 1968 (in the first year the Ditmars were presented), it won the award for best Australian fanzine. We now have a complete run under that name. The zine changed its name to Scythrop in 1969, and we added 5 issues of Scythrop: #21-24 and #28. We just lost John Bangsund to Covid-19 this year.

(14) PARIS, BUT NOT IN THE SPRINGTIME. Could be news to you, too – J. G. Ballard’s interview in The Paris Review, Winter 1984: “The Art of Fiction No. 85”

BALLARD

I take for granted that for the imaginative writer, the exercise of the imagination is part of the basic process of coping with reality, just as actors need to act all the time to make up for some deficiency in their sense of themselves. Years ago, sitting at the café outside the American Express building in Athens, I watched the British actor Michael Redgrave (father of Vanessa) cross the street in the lunchtime crowd, buy Time at a magazine kiosk, indulge in brief banter with the owner, sit down, order a drink, then get up and walk away—every moment of which, every gesture, was clearly acted, that is, stressed and exaggerated in a self-conscious way, although he obviously thought that no one was aware who he was, and he didn’t think that anyone was watching him. I take it that the same process works for the writer, except that the writer is assigning himself his own roles. I have a sense of certain gathering obsessions and roles, certain corners of the field where the next stage of the hunt will be carried on. I know that if I don’t write, say on holiday, I begin to feel unsettled and uneasy, as I gather people do who are not allowed to dream.

(15) GAMING CASUALTY. The curse of 2020 continues.Mashable reports “’Cyberpunk 2077′ has been removed from the PlayStation Store, and Sony is offering refunds”.

Cyberpunk 2077‘s launch has been the kind of disaster we now expect from 2020. Released on Dec. 10, the ridiculously hyped roleplaying game was swiftly and widely derided for having more bugs than the Montreal Insectarium, with flying cars and glitchy penises dominating the discourse. Now, Sony Interactive Entertainment has announced that not only will it offer refunds to anyone who bought the game from its PlayStation Store, it will also stop selling Cyberpunk 2077 altogether….

(16) YOUR COMEDY MILEAGE MAY VARY. From last night’s Saturday Night Live.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Dann, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 12/1/20 This Is Not
A Pixel To Be Put Aside Lightly…It Should Be Scrolled With Great Force

(1) TAKING THE LEAD. One of my favorite reviewers has been stepping up in her community, and has a book out encouraging others to do the same: “Why You Should Run For (Local) Office, by Adrienne Martini” at Whatever.

Author Adrienne Martini knows just a little about this: she ran for local office, and then chronicled the experience in her 2020 memoir Somebody’s Gotta Do It. Now she’s here to talk a little bit about that experience, and why it’s something you might consider thinking about as well.

(2) PLAYWRIGHTS SUMMONED. You have until January 15 to enter: “Accepting Submissions for 2021 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards”.

The Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College is accepting play submissions for the 2021 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards.

The fourth annual Neukom Award for Playwriting will consider full-length plays and other full-length works for the theater that address the question “What does it mean to be a human in a computerized world?”

Playwrights with either traditional or experimental theater pieces, including multimedia productions, are encouraged to submit works to the award program.

The award includes a $5,000 honorarium and support for a two-stage development process with table readings at local arts festivals. Works that have already received a full production are not eligible for the competition.

The deadline for all submissions is January 15, 2021. The awards will be announced in the spring of 2021.

(3) IT DOESN’T TAKE A WEATHERMAN. James Davis Nicoll lets his hair down in a Tor.com post “Five Hippie-ish SF Novels Inspired by Sixties Counterculture”. He starts with–

The Butterfly Kid by Chester Anderson (1967)

This book is set in an imagined futuristic New York, which oddly enough has remained stuck in an eternal 1960s. There’s still a vibrant hippie community in Greenwich Village. Youngsters from across square America travel to New York to discover themselves; there they are mentored (or at least observed) by old hands like Chester Anderson and his close friend Michael Kurland. This Greenwich Village is populated by nonconformists as eccentric as they are kind-hearted—for the most part.

The most notable exception is shameless grifter Laszlo Scott. For once, Scott’s most recent pharmaceutical offering is entirely authentic: his “Reality Pills” can make dreams real. The aliens supplying Scott have a malign intent: they may not want to actively unleash the heat rays, but they are counting on human nightmares to exterminate us all, leaving the world ripe for alien appropriation. Standing between humanity and certain doom: sixteen Greenwich Village potheads and hipsters. Two of whom are missing….

(4) A DECADE OF GOOD BOOKS. Happy birthday to the Fantasy-Faction review site – “Fantasy-Faction Turns 10! Help Us Spread the Love of Reading!” They’re asking fans to celebrate by contributing to organizations that support reading among the economically disadvantaged.  

…We couldn’t have made it ten years without all of you. And we can’t wait to see what the next ten years brings. Let’s close out this year of sadness and insanity with the best December this world has ever seen. Let’s give the gift of reading and share the love of fantasy, together!

(5) REEDPOP ABANDONS BOOK EXPO. “BookExpo and BookCon Are No More”Publishers Weekly attends the funeral.

U.S. book publishing’s biggest trade show is being “retired,” show organizer ReedPop announced today. BookExpo, along with BookCon and Unbound, will not be held in 2021 after being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

ReedPop, the pop culture event–focused subdivision of Reed Exhibitions, said that, given the “continued uncertainty surrounding in-person events at this time,” the company has decided “that the best way forward is to retire the current iteration of events as they explore new ways to meet the community’s needs through a fusion of in-person and virtual events.”

In order to try to hold the event earlier this year, Reed moved the date from its usual spot at New York City’s Javits Center in late May to late July, but as the coronavirus continued to make larger meetings impossible, Reed cancelled the live conference and held six days of free virtual programming from May 26-31, the original dates of BookExpo and BookCon. 

…Reed Exhibitions’ convention business has been hammered by Covid-19. Through the first nine months of 2020, revenue was down 70%, parent company RELX reported. It expects full year revenue of £330m-£360 million and after a range of cost-lowering initiatives—including layoffs—total costs for the year are expected to be £530m-£540 million, excluding one-off costs related to restructuring and cancellations. Total Reed Exhibitions revenue in 2019 was £1.3 billion.

(6) ELDRITCH CHARITY APPEAL. Weird Providence asks for support on Giving Tuesday: “Lovecraft Arts and Sciences 2020 Fundraiser”.

…We at the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council work hard to bring people together from around the world, to cultivate a sense of community through exciting and unique programming, and to foster camaraderie among kindred souls. We strive to provide a welcoming home here in Providence for all members of the vibrant and diverse Weird community, and we’re proud of our success over the past eight years.

NecronomiCon 2019, our biggest event yet, saw over 2,000 folks gather in Providence to share their passion for the Weird. And our retail store continues to garner rave reviews as a “must-visit” and “treasure” for its unique selection and helpful staff. These are just a few ways that our organization enriches our city and the global Weird fiction community. 

Today, on this Giving Tuesday, we’re asking for your help. 

The Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council is a nonprofit organization. We manage to do what we do with minimal staff – just two paid employees that help run our storefront in Providence. The rest of our operation relies on a squad of dedicated volunteers — of which I am one, squeezing in work for the organization between the tasks of my real job…. 

(7) ARECIBO OBSERVATORY DESTROYED. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Sadly, the iconic radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory has collapsed. The suspended platform at the focal point broke loose and crashed into the main reflector below. This follows earlier breaks in the supporting cables. Business Insider has the report: “The Arecibo telescope’s 900-ton platform has crashed into its disk below and destroyed the iconic radio observatory”.

The second-largest radio telescope in the world is no more.

The Arecibo Observatory’s 1,000-foot-diameter telescope collapsed at 8 a.m. Tuesday in Puerto Rico. The telescope’s 900-ton platform, which was suspended 450 feet in the air to send and receive radio waves, crashed into its disk below, pulling down with it the tops of three support towers.

(8) WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Nicholas Barber, in the BBC story “How a Spider-Man musical became a theatrical disaster”, notes that Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark had its first preview ten years ago.  Barber discusses the many reasons why this musical became one of Broadway’s biggest money-losers, including many failures of its special effects and the fact that composers Bono and the Edge had never heard a Broadway musical when they accepted the assignment to write the score and had to be sent an emergency care package of CDs with songs on them so they would know what to do.

It’s been 10 years since one of the most momentous nights of Glen Berger’s life. He was already an established off-Broadway playwright and children’s television writer, but on 28 November 2010, a musical he had scripted had its first preview at the Foxwoods Theatre in New York – and it was shaping up to be an international smash.

The musical was Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Its friendly neighbourhood title character had been a beloved pop-cultural icon for five decades, and had just featured in three Hollywood blockbusters. The songs were written by rock’n’roll royalty, U2’s Bono and The Edge. And the director was Julie Taymor, who had masterminded the record-breaking stage adaptation of Disney’s The Lion King. Turn Off the Dark couldn’t go far wrong with a pedigree like that. Could it?

Which is not to say that Berger wasn’t nervous. Speaking to BBC Culture from his home in upstate New York, he remembers how strange it felt to be unveiling something he and his collaborators had been devising together for years. “We were opening the door,” he says, “either to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory or some sort of slaughterhouse.” The show relied on complicated aerial stunts in which the performers were suspended from wires, and so the first preview was bound to keep stopping and starting as technical hitches were addressed….

(9) HEADHUNTER THWARTED. TMZ, in the story “Darth Vader’s Original ‘Star Wars’ Helmet Stolen” says that Frank Hebert (note spelling) allegedly broke into Bad Robot Productions and left with a shopping cart full of Star Wars stuff, including an original Darth Vader helmet, but all the stolen stuff was returned.

…Law enforcement sources tell us … 38-year-old Frank Hebert was arrested Monday night after he allegedly broke into the Bad Robot Productions building in Santa Monica and made off with ‘Star Wars’ movie memorabilia … including Darth’s helmet.

We’re told cops responded to the scene and were told by security personnel that Hebert had been captured on surveillance video illegally entering the building through the rooftop, and casually walked out with a shopping cart full of stuff.

Our sources say cops quickly found a guy pushing a cart down the street not too far away, which we’re told was full of ‘Star Wars’ stuff — as in, original props used in the actual movies.

(10) NO DOUGHS. SYFY Wire sets the frame of this video designed to encourage charitable giving: “Broke Batman parody from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. crew boosts COVID relief”.

The video is a way for Ward and the S.H.I.E.L.D. crew to raise awareness for a good cause: lending a financial hand to entertainment workers whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic-related shutdowns across the industry. Through the associated #fundthebat social media campaign, fans can chip in a little moolah to bolster the Motion Picture Television Fund’s Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund. The clip links to a GoFundMe page where anyone can donate — regardless of which side they’re on in the Marvel-versus-DC debate.

The fund says it’s using “every dollar” contributed through the campaign to “support the thousands of out of work carpenters, hair stylists, drivers, make up artists, painters, set dressers, electricians, editors, grips, camera people, actors, writers and directors who created the shows and movies that have kept you entertained during this difficult time.”

(11) FANZINE FAN OBIT. Ansible® 401 released today relayed this notice from Robert Lichtman:

Miriam Dyches Carr Knight Lloyd, US fan active in the 1950s and 1960s with fanzines including various ‘Goojie Publications’ titles as Dyches or Carr, Klein Bottle and later issues of Fanac with her first husband Terry Carr, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Poughkeepsie with her second husband Frank Knight, died on 23 October.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • December 1, 1995The Adventures of Captain Zoom In Outer Space premiered on television. Directed by Max Tads from a script by Brian Levant, Rick Copp, and David A. Goodman, it starred Daniel Riordan, Ron Perlman, Nichelle Nichols, Liz Vassey and Gia Carides. It follows the adventures of Fifties actor Ty Farrell who plays the title character in a Captain Video-like program, The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space. Although you’ll find references on the net for a series having been made and for fans having seen it, there wasn’t such a series. Only the TV movie. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a rating of, well, they don’t have a rating for it. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 1, 1886 — Rex Stout. ISFDB says his Nero Wolfe’s “The Affair of the Twisted Scarf” which was also published as “Disguise for Murder”” and also “Poison à la Carte” are SF. Now I’ve read each of them quite some years back but I don’t recall anything in them that makes them genre. Now I adore Nero Wolfe but never even thought of these novels as being genre adjacent. (Died 1975.) (CE) 
  • Born December 1, 1942 — John Crowley, 78. I’m tempted to say he’s a frelling literary genius and stop there but I won’t. Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and World Fantasy Award winning Little, Big is brilliant but if anything his crow centric novel of Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr which received the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award makes that novel look like child’s play in comparison. Did you know he wrote a novella called The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines? Or Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land, which contains an entire imaginary novel by the poet? (CE)
  • Born December 1, 1964 — Jo Walton, 56. She’s won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and the World Fantasy award for her novel Tooth and Claw in which dragons got positively and delightfully Victorian. Even if they eat each other.  Her Small Change trilogy may be the finest WW II novels I’ve read bar none, and her Sulien series is an excellent retelling of the Arthurian myth.  Among Others which won a Hugo and Nebula is she says about the “coming-of-age experience of having books instead of people for friends and solace”. I can relate to that as I imagine many here can too. (CE)
  • Born December 1, 1964 — Alisa Kwitney, 56. Daughter of Robert Sheckley and Ziva Kwitney. Editor, Vertigo Books. Contributing author, The Dreaming: Beyond The Shores of Night, set in Gaiman’s Sandman multiverse, scriptwriter for the Vertigo Visions: The Phantom Stranger graphic novel and editor of Vertigo Visions: Artwork from the Cutting Edge of Comics  Currently an editor at Brain Mill Press. (CE) 
  • Born December 1, 1965 — Bill Willingham, 55. Best known I’d say for his long running Fable series though personally I think his best work was Proposition Player. He got his start in the late 1970s to early 1980s as a staff artist for TSR games where he was the cover artist for the AD&D Player Character Record Sheets and a lot of games I don’t recognize not being a gamer at that time. I do recognize his superb 1980s comic book series Elementals,  and he later write the equally excellent Shadowpact for DC. I was always ambivalent about the Jack of Shadows series that he spun off of Fables. His House of Mystery was rather good as well. (CE) 
  • Born December 1, 1971 Emily Mortimer, 49. She was the voice of Sophie in the English language version of Howl’s Moving Castle, and Jane Banks in Mary Poppins Returns. She was the voice of Lisette in the superb Hugo animated film, and was Nicole Durant in The Pink Panther. (CE)

(14) GOO GOO GUY. Start running now – Vulture brings word that “Peter Dinklage to Reportedly Star in Toxic Avenger Reboot”.

…Based on the four-film franchise and Marvel comic-book series, Dinklage’s Toxic Avenger will reportedly retain the character’s origin story (hapless underdog pushed into toxic waste and reborn with superpowers, naturally) while exploring “environmental themes” with a take on “the superhero genre in the vein of Deadpool.” Because God help superhero movies if we force Toxie into a gritty reboot, too.

(15) YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW. At Monster Movie Music, they’re putting together episode recaps of old black-and-white TV sff with screencaps and connective text, like “TALES OF TOMORROW / ‘Appointment On Mars’ – 1952”. Interesting idea.

Here’s a wild one from the TOT gang. In this episode, three men man a rocket and go to Mars where they will mine for rare minerals and ore to take back to Earth to cash in. But, things don’t go as planned…

(16) MONOLITHS: EASY COME, EASY GO. The Utah monolith and its Romanian imitator vanished less mysteriously than they arrived, in that the people who took them down are at least known to someone.

Salt Lake City’s Fox13 repots “Well-known Moab slackliner says he took down Utah monolith”.

“On the night of November 27, 2020, at about 8:30pm– our team removed the Utah Monolith,” [Andy] Lewis wrote, in a Facebook post. “We will not be including any other information, answers, or insight at this time.”

And in Europe: “Romanian monolith mystery solved: two blokes carried it off” says Yahoo!

You wait for ages for an era-defining monolith created by an unseen alien race to appear out of nowhere, then two turn up at once.

After the mysterious emergence of a shiny metallic plinth in the Utah desert piqued the imaginations of sci-fi fans across the world last week, another appeared just a few days later in rural Romania.

And just like its American cousin, it has vanished – seemingly without a trace.

The mayor of the Romanian town where the local monolith was planted seems to know more than he’s saying:

…The mayor had hoped that the structure could potentially become a tourist attraction for Piatra Neamt, a picturesque mountainous town with a population of around 100,000. But he offers up a more sobering theory as to why the monolith disappeared in a matter of days.

“Whoever placed the monolith would have suffered legal consequences because we can’t allow structures without legal authorisation,” he said.

“It’s quite a mystery that this came up in a week that I had a chat with some local investors who don’t obey construction laws — it’s absolutely a bizarre coincidence,” he added.

(17) SJW CREDENTIAL COMMUTE. [Item by JJ.] Alexander Perrin’s “Short Trip” is an interactive cat adventure on a trolley line. Better with the sound on. Use right/left arrows to move faster/slower forward/backward. if you stop at the tram stops, cats will get on and off. The details are best enjoyed if you don’t run it at full speed

(18) ON THE ROAD WITH J.G. BALLARD. “Crash! (1971) by J. G. Ballard” on YouTube is a short film, originally broadcast by the BBC in 1971, in which J.G. Ballard drives a car and obsesses about crashes.

(19) PARTY POOPERS. Maria Temming reports in the Washington Post that researchers at the University of Georgia, the Florida Institute of Technology, and the Colorado School of Mines have tried growing crops on Martian soil and discovered “Farming on Mars will be a lot harder than ‘The Martian’ made it seem” thanks fo the soil’s high scidity and the presence of the potent microbe killer calcium perchlorate in high quantities.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers:  Demon’s Souls” on YouTube, Fandom Games says Sony revised the 1990’s game Demon’s Souls without consulting the original developers, which meant that “Sony treats the Demon’s Souls IP like Gollum treats the One Ring.”

[Thanks to JJ, John Hertz, James Davis Nicoll, Paul Di Flippo, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, David Doering, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day David Goldfarb.]

Pixel Scroll 10/2/19 Many That Scroll Deserve Pixels. And Some That File Deserve Titles. Can You Give It To Them?

(1) TERMINATOR TERMINATED? The Hollywood Reporter’s Eriq Gardner tracks a major development in copyright litigation: “Real-Life ‘Terminator’: Major Studios Face Sweeping Loss of Iconic ’80s Film Franchise Rights”.

Since its 1984 bow, The Terminator has spawned five sequels grossing $1.8 billion globally. The latest, Terminator: Dark Fate (Nov. 1), again will have the future messing with the past. And that plot extends into real life as Gale Anne Hurd, the original’s writer, has moved to terminate a copyright grant made 35 years ago, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. 

As a result, per records filed at the U.S. Copyright Office, David Ellison’s Skydance Media — which acquired the rights from his sister, Megan Ellison, who bought them for $20 million in 2011 at an auction — could lose rights to make Terminator movies starting in November 2020.

Terminator isn’t an anomaly, it’s a preview of what’s to come. In the late 1970s, Congress amended the law to allow authors to grab back rights from studios after waiting a few decades. Until now, the termination provision has largely been exploited by musicians, not screenwriters. But records show a flurry of termination notices in the past year — under law, they can come 35 years after publication — which threatens to unsettle who owns the ability to make sequels and reboots of iconic films from the mid- to late-’80s.

More works that could change hands: Gary K. Wolf is looking to terminate Disney’s rights to the book that became Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The heirs of Beetlejuice screenwriter Michael McDowell aim to do the same for the script to the 1998 Warner Bros. film. The family of novelist Roderick Thorp is terminating Fox’s grip on Nothing Lasts Forever, aka Die Hard. Other works subject to termination include Predator and Nightmare on Elm Street, with authors like Stephen King and David Mamet also on the warpath.

Why now is probably best explained by the statutory clock (termination notices must be sent at precise time during the copyright term), though a judge’s decision last year confirming the validity of a termination notice sent by Friday the 13th screenwriter Victor Miller certainly raised awareness among authors. (The producer of that film is appealing on grounds that Miller’s script was penned as a work-for-hire with no termination rights.)

(2) URRPP! I thought this kind of thing only happened in space opera — ScienceFiction.com reports an entire fantasy universe has been eaten alive: “Floo The Coup: J.K.Rowling’s ‘Pottermore’ Site Moves to ‘Wizarding World’”

Harry Potter fans have some adjusting to do, as it was recently announced that J.K. Rowling’s ‘Pottermore’ site would be shutting down, and moving over to the new ‘Wizarding World’ site, claiming that with new site enhancements and expansions, Pottermore could not longer sustain the needs of the fans of ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Fantastic Beasts,’ and WizardingWorld.com would be an upgrade. Check out the full news release from the website itself below:

Engorgio Pottermore… We’re moving to WizardingWorld.com – our new, bigger home for all of the magic you love. Here’s everything you need to know….

(3) SHOULD CLARKE’S NAME STAY ON AN AWARD? Jason Sanford’s post “Yes, Arthur C. Clarke was likely a pedophile” reviews two decades of press coverage about the issue. His closing lines are:

Now that we’re finally examining the issues around people like John W. Campbell, James Tiptree Jr., and Marion Zimmer Bradley, we should do the same for Clarke. Especially since a major genre award is named for him.

None of this changes how important Clarke’s stories were to my development as a writer or his impact on the field of science fiction. This doesn’t mean you can’t still love his books.

But the SF/F genre simply can’t ignore this issue any longer.

(4) HYPE OR WISE PRECAUTION? “The NYPD Will Be Stationed At All NY City Theaters Screening ‘Joker’ This Weekend”ScienceFiction.com supplies the details:  

…In New York City, the police department is taking a “precautionary measure” by positioning uniformed officers at every theater in the city that is screening ‘Joker’.  These officers will not be stalking up and down the aisles.  In fact, they won’t be in the theaters at all.  They will simply be patrolling in front of the theaters.  It should be stressed that there have been no “credible threats” made that anyone is planning to shoot up screenings of ‘Joker’, but just in case…

Elsewhere, ‘Joker’ won’t screen in the Aurora, CO theater where the 2012 mass shooting occurred.  Landmark Theaters has banned any Joker cosplay, masks, face paint, etc. for the weekend….

(5) FAN-FIC. Julie Beck investigates “What Fan Fiction Teaches That the Classroom Doesn’t” at The Atlantic.

N. K. Jemisin, the only author to win the prestigious Hugo Award for best science-fiction or fantasy novel three years in a row, partly credits fan fiction for her ability to draw in readers.

Jemisin started writing fan fiction, in which authors imagine new stories based on preexisting fictional works, while in grad school for counseling. “I was miserable and lonely. I didn’t have a lot of friends, or stress relief,” she told me. “Around then was when I became internetted, and one of the first communities I discovered was a fan-fic community.” Through talking  with other authors and writing her own stories about Dragon Ball Z (among other things), she found friends, got feedback, and, as she put it, “blew the cobwebs off writing abilities I hadn’t used since college.”

For instance, this writing helped her hone her ability to hold readers’ interest. “Fan fiction tends to have a built-in hook because it’s written in a world you’re a fan of; you’re predisposed to like it,” she said. “You have to find a way to make it not just the world that people are tuning in to read, so they are interested in your story.” To this day, Jemisin said, she still writes fan fiction, and treats it as a way to try out new genres and skills, such as using the second person, which she does in the Broken Earth trilogy, which earned her the three Hugos.

(6) DACRE STOKER TO APPEAR. The Rancho Mirage Writers Festival (January 29-31, 2020) has a lineup of writers including Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem, and Dacre Stoker, Bram Stoker’s great-grand-nephew.

(7) ANGRY ROBOT PUBLISHES SHORT FICTION. Angry Robot’s “first foray into short-form fiction” will be released October 8.

The first novelette being produced by Angry Robot, Duchamp Versus Einsteinwhich is releasing in a few weeks’ time on the 8th October. This science fiction tale depicts a surreal chess match between two of the twentieth century’s greatest minds that could change the course of history. Within its 100 pages, several questions are posed – is science greater than art? Or is art an extension of science? And if this epic game could ever take place, would you be Team Einstein or Team Duchamp?

(8) HOLMES IS FRAMED. In “18 Best Sherlock Holmes Graphic Novels To Read Now: 2019 Edition” at Mystery Tribune there’s news of graphc novels where Holmes battles the Phantom of the Opera and Harry Houdini, as well as Sherlock Frankenstein and adaptations of the BBC Sherlock series.

(9) THE FUTURE IS NOW. Andrew Liptak’s October book list is now on Polygon. At the front of the line is –

Future Tense Fiction: Stories of Tomorrow edited by Kirsten Berg, Torie Bosch, Joey Eschrich, Edd Finn, Andres Martinez, and Juliet Ulman

Over the last couple of years, some of the best short science fiction has emerged from a joint project between Slate, New America, and Arizona University. The Future Tense brings together some of the best science fiction authors writing right now, and this book collects a number of those stories in one volume. Authors here include the likes of Charlie Jane Anders, Paolo Bacigalupi, Madeline Ashby, Hannu Rajaniemi, Annalee Newitz, Nnedi Okorafor, and more. This is an essential book for those wanting cutting-edge fiction about our near future. Kirkus Reviews gave the book a starred review, saying that it’s full of “Provocative, challenging stories that project the tech innovations of today onto the moral framework of tomorrow.”

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 2, 1950Peanuts comic debuted.
  • October 2, 1959 — Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone aired its first episode, “Where Is Everybody?”.  Starring cast for this episode is Earl Holliman, James Gregory and Garry Walberg. 
  • October 2, 2000  — Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda took flight in television syndication. Starring Kevin Sorbo, it would run for five seasons. Majel Barrett-Roddenberry is listed as executive-producer. 
  • October 2, 2009 Stargate Universe debuted. The third series in the Stargate series franchise, it lasted two seasons and forty episodes before ending on a sort of cliffhanger. Robert Carlye, the lead in the Hamish Macbeth series, was Nicholas Rush here. 
  • October 2, 2016 — HBO aired the much more adult Westworld as created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy.  Based on the nearly fifty year old film of the same name which was a Michael Crichton endeavour, it counts J. J. Abrams among its executive-producers. It’s still going strong.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 2, 1897 Bud Abbott. Abbott and Costello did genre films, to wit Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer Boris Karloff, Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man and Abbott and Costello Go to Mars just to list a few of them. (Died 1974.)
  • Born October 2, 1906Willy  Ley. He was a science writer who designed the rocket used with Fritz Lang’s 1929 film Die Frau im Mond (Woman in the Moon). It was so accurate that in 1937 that the Gestapo confiscated not only all models of the spaceship but also all foreign prints of the picture. The crater Ley on the far side of the Moon is named in his honor. (Died 1969.)
  • Born October 2, 1909 Alex Raymond. Cartoonist, generally only known for creating Flash Gordon for King Features in 1934. The strip was has been adapted into many media, from a series of movie serials in the Thirties and Forties to a Seventies TV series and the Eighties feature film not to be confused with the American-Canadian tv series of the same vintage. Radio serials, myriad films, comic books, novels — any medium that exists has seen Flash Gordon fiction. There are at least fifteen authorized strips and a number of bootleg strips as well. Needless to say there are bootleg films and serials too. (Died 1956.)
  • Born October 2, 1911John Finney. Author of The Body Snatchers and Time and Again, two truly great novels. Of course there’s also the awesome Fifties Invasion of the Body Snatchers film too. (Died 1995.)
  • Born October 2, 1931Edmund Crispin. He’s well remembered and definitely still read for his most excellent Gervase Fen mystery series. It turns out that he was the editor of the Best SF anthology series that ran off and on between 1955 and 1972. Writers such as Kuttner, Moore, Blish, Bradbury and Von Vogt had stories there. These anthologies alas are not available digitally or in hard copy. (Died 1978.)
  • Born October 2, 1944Vernor Vinge, 75. Winner of five Hugo Awards, none for what I consider his best series which is the Realtime/Bobble series. I’m also very fond of his short fiction, much of which is collected in The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge, though the eighteen years worth of his work remain uncollected.
  • Born October 2, 1948 Avery Brooks, 71. Obviously he’s got his Birthday Honor for being Benjamin Sisko on Deep Space Nine, but I’m going to note his superb work also as Hawk on Spenser: For Hire and its spinoff A Man Called Hawk. He retired from video acting sixteen years ago but is an active tenured Theatre professor at Rutgers. 
  • Born October 2, 1948 Persis Khambatta. Indian model and actress who played Lieutenant Ilia in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. She made mostly low-budget films, some genre (Warrior of the Lost WorldShe-Wolves of the Wasteland) and even showed up in the pilot of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. She died of a massive attack at the age of 49. (Died 1998.)
  • Born October 2, 1950Ian McNeice, 69. Prime Minister Churchill / Emperor Winston Churchill on Doctor Who in “The Beast Below,” “Victory of the Daleks,”  “The Pandorica Opens,” and “The Wedding of River Song,” all Eleventh Doctor stories. He was an absolutely perfect Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in Frank Herbert’s Dune and Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune series. And he voiced Kwaltz in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. 
  • Born October 2, 1951 Sting, 68. Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen in the Dune film. Far, far too old for the character who was supposed to be sixteen years old. He worked as a Heroic Officer in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. And he’s Martin Taylor in the horrific Brimstone & Treacle.
  • Born October 2, 1953 Walter Jon Williams, 66. The last thing I read by him was his most excellent Dagmar Shaw series which I highly recommend. I also like his Metropolitan novels, be that Sf or fantasy, as well as his Hardwired series. What else by him is worth my time? 
  • Born October 2, 1972Graham Sleight, 47. Editor of Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction between 2007 and 2011, and was a Locus reviewer 2005 to 2012. He is the Managing Editor of the 3rd edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and was so when the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Related Work was given to it. He oft times writes about Doctor Who. He co-edited (along with Simon Bradshaw and Antony Keen) The Unsilent Library, a book of essays about the Russell T Davies era. His other Doctor Who work, The Doctor’s Monsters: Meanings of the Monstrous in Doctor Who, is now available in a trade paperback edition. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Foxtrot recommends Dungeons & Dragons to motivate your studying.

(13) SOUNDS FAMILIAR. Nobody would tease someone about this, would they? “Harry Potter and the famous name”.

“It’s probably a good thing overall, a light-hearted conversation starter,” says Harry Potter.

Far from being a wizard, Harry is a neuroscientist from the University of Manchester.

When he responded to a question on Twitter asking, “What piece of pop culture has ruined your first name?” he didn’t expect the reaction he got.

“I take your ‘first name’ and raise you my full name,” has conjured up more than 267,000 likes and 33,000 retweets.

…At work Harry’s research looks at how a woman’s immune system during pregnancy affects the development of a baby’s nervous system later in life.

But some people online have suggested some other academic papers he might have written had he branched out of his field of research.

The article includes a graphic of a real paper titled “Fantastic yeasts and where to find them”.

(14) SHORE THING. “Tsunamis linked to spread of deadly fungal disease” – BBC has the story.

A major earthquake in Alaska in 1964 triggered tsunamis that washed ashore a deadly tropical fungus, scientists say.

Researchers believe it then evolved to survive in the coasts and forest of the Pacific Northwest.

More than 300 people have been infected with the pneumonia-like cryptococcosis since the first case was discovered in the region in 1999, about 10% fatally.

If true the theory, published in the journal mBio, has implications for other areas hit by tsunamis.

(15) THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. BBC says science is learning “How to weigh a whale without a scale”. Which is important, because whales don’t have scales.

How do you weigh the largest animals on the planet?

Until now it has only been possible to weigh whales once they have washed up dead on beaches.

Now scientists have solved the conundrum, with the help of aerial photographs taken by drones.

Their model accurately calculated the body volume and mass of wild southern right whales. Already being used to assess the survival of calves, it has many potential uses in conservation.

Body mass is a key factor in the success of whales as a group, determining their energy uses, food requirements and growth rates.

Yet most of what we know about the body size of whales comes from old whaling literature or from animals that end up stranded on the beach or caught in fishing gear.

“It is very difficult to measure a whale on a scale – I mean you have to kill it to do it and that’s exactly what we’re avoiding here,” said study researcher Fredrik Christiansen from the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies in Denmark.

(16) HALLOWEEN SUPPLIES. While out shopping, John King Tarpinian encountered Audrey’s offspring:

(17) VERY SLOW FACT CHECKING. Somebody has far too much time on their hands: “The Signature Dish in Disney’s ‘Ratatouille’ Wasn’t Actually Ratatouille” at MyRecipes.

In the climactic scene of the 2007 Disney film Ratatouille—during which the movie’s main characters, Remy the rat and Linguine the human chef, attempt to impress an important culinary critic—Remy and his animal pals diligently prepare a mouthwatering dish of sauce and vegetables that reminds the tough food commentator of his mother’s homemade meals. The delectable-looking animated spread is presented in the film as ratatouille, a Provençal recipe that originated from Nice, France. But while we can’t fault Disney for the use of a clever pun, the beautifully arranged vegetarian dish shown during the movie isn’t, in all technicality, ratatouille. Rather, it’s a variation on another, very similar Provençal dish: tian

(18) ABOUT A MASTER OF MODERN SF. Hear a “Special Report: D. Harlan Wilson on J.G. Ballard” in this podcast at The Projection Booth.

D. Harlan Wilson discusses his book from the University of Illinois Press, J.G. Ballard. Part of the Masters of Modern Science Fiction series, Prof. Wilson provides a look at Ballard’s literary career as well as some of the adaptations of his work for the cinema.

(19) TRICK OR TREAT? Delish tells you “How To Order An Oogie Boogie Frappuccino Off The Starbucks Secret Menu”. That is, if you still want to after reading the description.

If you haven’t noticed, fall seems to be when Starbucks fans let their freak flags fly and come up with all sorts of amazing Halloween-inspired creations. Recently, we had the Jack Skellington Frappuccino, but now another Nightmare Before Christmas character is getting his (its?) time to shine with the Oogie Boogie Frappuccino.

If you’re not familiar with the film, Oogie Boogie is described as a “burlap sack filled with insects, spiders and a snake for a tongue,” which…same.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3CosroALJ5/?utm_source=ig_embed

(20) ATTENTION CHURRO LOVERS. Disney’s Galaxy’s Edge attraction features thematic food: “Disney World is launching new ‘Star Wars’ treats for the opening of ‘Galaxy’s Edge’ including lightsaber churros”.

Disney is launching “Star Wars” treats for the opening of “Galaxy’s Edge,” a new 14-acre immersive “land”  based on the “Star Wars” universe and located within Hollywood Studios in Disney World.

The offerings at the Florida park include dishes such as churros that look like lightsabers, Millennium Falcon-shaped Chocolate Pops, and Chewbacca-inspired cupcakes. 

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Dead End” on Vimeo is a cartoon by Victoria Vincent about a depressed high school guidance counselor.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Darrah Chavey, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 5/18/18 And Then The Pixels Began

(1) #2018NEBULAS. More from Grandmaster Peter S. Beagle’s reception.

(2) #2018NEBULAS PANEL LIVETWEET. All summed up here: “Thread by @sfwa: ‘Hello ! Panel live tweet starts NOW, with “How to fail gracefully,” with Michael Underwood, Carrie DiRisio, Vanessa Rose Phin, […]’”

(3) #2018NEBULAS LIVESTREAM. Really?

(4) SF EXHIBIT. Six Pasadena museums will open their doors on May 20, including the Pasadena Museum of History — “Free Day: 2018 Museums of the Arroyo Day at PMH”. Guess what you can see for free…

At PMH, delve into the worlds of science fiction in the multifaceted exhibition, Dreaming the Universe: The Intersection of Science, Fiction, & Southern California. The exhibit explores how the literary genre interacted with the advances of science, the changes in technology, and shifts in American society during five pivotal decades, the 1930s to the 1980s. Visitors will enjoy a fantastic array of vintage costumes and movie props, fantasy art and illustrations, original manuscripts, robotic toys, and fan gear.

(5) F&SF. Galactic Journey’s time traveler Gideon Marcus experienced an especially good day in 1963 — “[May 18, 1963] (June 1963 Fantasy and Science Fiction)”

Every so often, you get a perfect confluence of events that makes life absolutely rosy.  In Birmingham, Alabama, the segregationist forces have caved in to the boycott and marching efforts of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  Two days ago, astronaut Gordo Cooper completed a day-and-a-half in orbit, putting America within spitting distance of the Russians in the Space Race.  And this month, Avram Davidson has turned out their first superlative issue of F&SF since he took the editorial helm last year….

(6) ETERNAL FLAME. Michael Moorcock tells why Fahrenheit 451 endures: “The Truth of Ray Bradbury’s Prophetic Vision” at LitHub.

In the late 1960s my friend J. G. Ballard phoned me full of outrage. Feeling weighed down by the bad prose cluttering his study, he had dug a pit in his back garden and thrown his review copies in, splashing them with a little petrol. But they proved harder to burn than he thought, so he put one in the kitchen oven, which had a suitable thermometer, to test the igniting heat of book paper. “Bradbury was wrong!” he complained. “Fahrenheit 451 isn’t the temperature at which book paper burns!” But, I asked, hadn’t Bradbury phoned the Los Angeles Fire Department to get the temperature right?

“Well, they’re wrong, too!” announced Ballard, who admired Bradbury and whose own early Vermilion Sands stories echo Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. Ray Bradbury, he said, had shown him that science ?ction was worth writing.

…Although Bradbury obviously held up a mirror to the world so that it might see itself the better, I believe him when he claims that he was not setting out to do what Orwell did in 1984, nor even what Pohl and Kornbluth did in a later Galaxy serial “The Space Merchants.” Rather, like Philip K. Dick, he let his excellent instincts have their way. They told him what to put in while his taste told him what to leave out. He was doing what he had always done by letting the resonances in his own imagination determine the kind of story he told: Fahrenheit 451 remains as readable as when it was written, some sixty-odd years ago, thanks to Bradbury’s almost psychic sense of how the world works.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 18, 1962The Twilight Zone aired “I Sing The Body Electric,” an episode based on a story by the legendary Ray Bradbury. This served as the thirty-fifth episode for the program’s third season.

(8) HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Steven H Silver celebrates Jonathan Maberry’s natal day in his Black Gate column: “Birthday Reviews: Jonathan Maberry’s ‘Red Dreams’”.

Maberry won the 2007 Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel for Ghost Road Blues, which was also nominated for Best Novel. The next year he won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Nonfiction with David F. Kramer for their book The Cryptopedia: A Dictionary of the Weird, Strange & Downright Bizarre. In 2012, he won the Bram Stoker for Best Young Adult Novel for Dust & Decay, and again the following year for Flesh & Bone. In 2015, he shared a Bram Stoker Award for Best Graphic Novel with Tyler Crook for Bad Blood.

(9) SEND FOR MORE CANDLES. And Tor.com coincidentally (not) reposted Elizabeth Bear’s tribute “The Perfect Chaotic Worlds of Diane Duane on Duane’s birthday.

In all her genres, Diane Duane is one of my favorite writers.

She spreads her talents around, too. She writes in multiple genres and forms—scripts to novels, tie-ins to original fiction, young adult urban fantasy to historical fantasy to science fiction to second-world fantasy. And whether she’s writing Y.A., as with her Young Wizards series, or Star Trek media tie-ins, she always brings an inimitable playful voice and a startling sense of “Yes; that’s right; that’s just like people.” to her work.

(10) TESS SEES ITS FIRST LIGHT. Mashable headline: “First photo from NASA’s planet-hunting TESS satellite is full of stars”. The latest exoplanet-hunting satellite has begun opening it’s “eyes” and taken its first photos. Though still undergoing shakeout tests, these first photos from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite are nonetheless spectacular.

A new NASA telescope, sailing toward its assigned orbit, took a moment to look around before it starts its ultimate mission: searching the galaxy for alien planets.

NASA’s TESS spacecraft — short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite — beamed home one of its first photos taken from space, and it’s a doozy.

The photo, which effectively amounts to a test of one of the satellite’s four cameras, contains more than 200,000 stars, NASA said.

But that’s only a fraction of the number of stars it will eventually study in order to find alien worlds out there circling them.

(11) NOT DEAD YET? ThinkProgress says a climate science NASA mission may not be completely dead. Time to visit Miracle Max: “Critical NASA program cut by Trump re-introduced in latest budget”.

The House Committee on Appropriations, which is responsible for overseeing NASA, voted on Thursday to approve $10 million in funding for a “climate monitoring system” intended to help the agency better “understand the major factors driving short and long term climate change.” In a unanimous vote, lawmakers gave the green light to an amendment in a 2019 spending bill mandating that NASA fund such a system, Science first reported Thursday.

…That system’s description sounds nearly identical to the Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a $10 million-per-year program established to measure carbon dioxide and methane using satellite technology and similar mechanisms. The CMS has played a crucial role in the study of greenhouse gases, but last week the Trump administration confirmed that the program had ended after its funding was cut from the 2018 budget passed in March.

Now, it appears the CMS might be back from the dead — in everything but name.  The $62 billion 2019 CJS Appropriations bill approved on Thursday extends to a number of departments, including the Justice Department and numerous science-linked agencies, NASA among them.

“This bill invests our hard-earned tax dollars into the safety and security of our nation,” said Culberson [(R-TX), chair of the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee.], who went on to detail various elements within the legislation.

(12) WINNING WWII AGAIN. Cnet reports “Steven Spielberg making a DC movie, punching Nazis again”.

Fresh from squeezing Batman and other DC comics cameos into Ready Player One, Steven Spielberg is now taking on the real thing. The legendary director is set to make a movie based on DC’s fighter ace Blackhawk.

Like DC’s smash hit Wonder Woman, and Spielberg’s Indiana Jones movies, Blackhawk is a retro wartime story, this time about a squadron of aerial adventurers battling Nazis and supervillains in World War II. Blackhawk was created in 1941 by Bob Powell, Chuck Cuidera and comic book legend Will Eisner.

(13) VULCAN DINOS ON EARTH. Popular Science realizes these creatures can only come from one place – and it’s not Earth — “Green bones, green hearts, can’t lose: these lizards survive with toxic green blood”.

Several species of New Guinea lizards seem to be from Vulcan, what with having green blood and all. But unlike Mr. Spock, their blood isn’t based on copper… they’ve evolved to tolerate a blood breakdown produce called biliverdin (which marks both jaundice and the sometimes spectacular green color of a bruise) at levels that would be fatal to a human.

In the forests of New Guinea, lizards scurry around with green bones, green hearts, green tongues, and green blood. At least six species share this enigmatic trait, which didn’t originate from one bizarre mutation but evolved four different times, according to new research in Science Advances.

These lizards have green insides because their bile carries super high levels of a deadly compound called biliverdin, the product of old red blood cells. People make the same pigment—you can see it when you get a gnarly, green-tinged bruise—but our livers filter it from our blood. Trace amounts of biliverdin cause jaundice, a disease common in infants and adults with liver failure. The levels found in these lizards would kill us. But for these lizards, well, it sure is easy being green.

(14) MAKE EVERY MOVIE A DEADPOOL SEQUEL. Adweek found out how to do it: “Here’s the Story Behind Deadpool’s Incredible Blu-ray Takeover at Walmart”.

When a display of Blu-rays, with each covered photobombed by Deadpool, popped up this week at Walmarts across the country, we had more questions that we had answers.

Who had created this amazing in-store activation, and how did such a sweeping takeover—entailing new, customized cover sleeves for The Terminator, Predator, Office Space, Fight Club and many more—come about?

Well, now we know. The short answer is that it was a collaboration between the in-house teams at Fox Home Entertainment and Los Angeles creative agency Neuron Syndicate, which designed the covers….

(15) CYBORGASM. Stephen Colbert reviews the latest news about robots in a Late Show comedy segment.

Google demonstrated its new Google Duplex, an A.I. assistant that can have realistic conversations with humans. But what happens when they talk to each other?

 

(16) REAL STINKERS. The finalists in the 2018 Lyttle Lytton Contest, which seeks the worst first sentence ever, have been posted. This year’s winner of the “found division” is:

The atmospheric molecules that filled the Rose Bowl were in full vibration as kickoff approached.

Ryan McGee, espn.com, 2017.0915
quoted by Ryan S.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Bill, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John  King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 1/31/18 There’s Thirteen Hundred And Fifty-Two Pixel Scrollers In Fileville

(1) PLAYING IT STRAIGHT? Rowling’s retrospective characterization of Dumbledore will not be in evidence in the next Fantastic Beasts movie — “‘Fantastic Beasts’ Sequel Will Avoid Dumbledore’s Gay Sexuality, Director David Yates Confirms”.

Any “Fantastic Beasts” fans hoping the “Harry Potter” universe would finally be ready to explore Dumbledore’s sexuality in the upcoming “The Crimes of Grindelwald” will surely be disappointed, as director David Yates has confirmed that J.K. Rowling’s screenplay mostly avoids the topic. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Yates said the movie does not explicitly include any reference to Dumbledore being gay, despite the fact that Rowling has spoken in the past about the wizard’s sexuality and his romance with the titular Grindelwald.

“Not explicitly,” Yates said when asked if the film makes it clear that Dumbledore is gay. “But I think all the fans are aware of that. He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald when they were young men. They fell in love with each other’s ideas, and ideology and each other.”

(2) RIDGE RUNNER. From Yahoo! — “Curiosity’s sweeping Mars panorama shows how far it’s come”.

NASA annotated Curiosity’s entire trip showing how it went from its initial landing site to Yellowknife Bay, then on to Darwin, Cooperstown and the Kimberly. From there, it hit Namid Dune, ducked and weaved through Murray Buttes, checked out Ireson Hill, crossed the Bagnold Dunes and landed at Vera Rubin Ridge. The image background shows mountains that form Gale Crater’s ridge, and the foreground lower portions of Mount Sharp, which sits in the middle of the 96-mile wide crater.

The rover had used its nuclear-powered motor to climb 1,073 feet when it took the shot on the northwestern ridge of lower Mount Sharp.

(3) IN AN INTERNET FAR, FAR AWAY. Scott Lynch adds realism to Star Wars.

(4) KGB. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Cassandra Khaw and Peternelle van Arsdale on Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street — just off 2nd Ave, upstairs – New York.)

Cassandra Khaw

Cassandra Khaw is the author of the Persons Non Grata series, the Rupert Wong books, and spends a lot of time worrying about those who buy her backlist because they enjoyed Bearly a Lady, her frothy paranormal rom-com. She writes video games for a living, and won an award for doing so. Her short fiction can be found in places like Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and more.

Peternelle van Arsdale

Peternelle van Arsdale is the author of the young adult novel, The Beast Is an Animal, a dark fairy tale, it’s been described as “a swift and compelling read” and “a psychologically intense fantasy” and is being developed by Amazon Studios for a feature film produced by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free. Her essays have been published by LitHub, Hypable.com, and Culturefly. She’s currently at work on her second novel, also a dark fairy tale, which will be published in March 2019. A former executive editor in the book industry, she is now an independent editorial consultant.

(5) SABRINA RETURNING. Another comic-based series is getting rebooted: “Sabrina the Teenage Witch Netflix release date, cast, trailer: When will the show air?”

Netflix confirmed in September of last year that a remake of the classic 90s sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch was in the works.

The streaming company has now confirmed the title of the forthcoming show will be Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre Sacasa, who is also leading the Sabrina reboot, posted on Twitter: “Gotta catch up to #Riverdale… A long way to go, but the PATH OF NIGHT begins here…”

His words now confirm the name of the first episode of the new TV show, which is based on the Archie Comics series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

The story of half-witch half-mortal Sabrina Spellman (played by Melissa Joan Hart in the sitcom) is originally from the Archie Comics, like the Netflix original show Riverdale.

The popularity of Riverdale prompted Netflix bosses to consider creating another show from the Archie Comics and so this dark coming-of-age story that traffics in horror, the occult and, of course, witchcraft exclusive to the streaming site was born.

The new version of the fondly remembered character will be played by Mad Men actress Kiernan Shipka.

…Netflix has not yet announced a release date. Filming is set to begin in February and wrap up in October, meaning that we could be looking at a release date some time in 2019.

(6) SWEDISH BNF HOSPITALIZED. SF Journalen reports 2005 Worldcon fan GoH Lars Olov Strandberg suffered a stroke:

Sverifandom’s Grand Old Man, Lars-Olov Strandberg, HOSPITALISED AFTER STROKE. Lars-Olov, now 89 years, was fan GoH of the 2005 Worldcon. A pillar of Swedish fandom since mid-1950’s. Sadly, reports are bad: he’s half-paralysed, can’t communicate.

See Strandberg’s online photo archive at Fanac.org.

Lars-Olov Strandberg was born in 1929 and became active in fandom in 1956, when he attended the first Swedish convention, the Luncon. Lars-Olov was one of the founders of the Scandinavian SF Association (SFSF), and served on the organization’s board of directors for decades afterward. He also served as chairman of the Alvar Appeltofft Memorial Foundation after it came into being in the late 1970s.

A very active convention fan, Lars-Olov served as treasurer for most Stockholm conventions, starting with the 1965 Stockon, and continuing throughout the decades of the 1970s and 1980s. He became known internationally from his travels to Worldcons, British Eastercons, and continental European SF conventions. This was facilitated by his profession, as head of life insurance investment training with Sweden’s largest insurance corporation.

According to John-Henri Holmberg, Strandberg was “Sweden’s combination of E. E. Evans, Howard DeVore, and Forry Ackerman: a soft-spoken, self-effacing man whose devotion without any doubt guaranteed the survival of the SFSF.”

(7) RICK RIORDAN PRESENTS. The cover of Yoon Ha Lee’s upcoming middle-grade book has been revealed.

(8) BALLARD CONSIDERED. John Dodds previews what you’ll learn from a study of an opaque SFF author — “Book Review: J. G. Ballard (Modern Masters of Science Fiction) by D. Harlan Wilson” at Amazing Stories.

The popular idea is that “Empire of the Sun” (the Spielberg film that brought Ballard’s work to a wider audience) is an autobiography is false. It is, as Wilson explains, a fictionalised autobiography. And neither are the Ballardian protagonists in some of the novels purely autobiographical. They serve a purpose in the complex machinery of the author’s unique, mainly strange, often deeply obscure and incomprehensible books.

I found the section about his most experimental novel, “The Atrocity Exhibition”, both fascinating and reassuring. Reassuring, in that I felt I did not understand the novel at all when I read in in my early 20s and because Wilson affirms that it more or less defies explanation, though he is very clear about the themes therein. I still remember being completely hooked by the cut-up technique (also beloved of William Burroughs, though Ballard’s approach is very different). I came away from that chapter in this book feeling that it was okay not to understand completely, but also enriched by the author’s commentary on its themes, ideas and exposition.

(9) HINDS OBIT. Author Kathryn Hinds died on January 30:

Kathryn Hinds is a prolific author whose short stories and poetry have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies. Her most recent works are The Healer’s Choice,  a feminist fantasy novel  published by Dark Oak Press, and The Forty, a collaboration with photographer Fox Gradin and author James Palmer that re-envisions the tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Kathryn’s first poetry collection, Candle, Thread, and Flute, came out from Luna Station Press in 2013. That year also saw the release of her six-book series Creatures of Fantasy (Cavendish Square), which brought her total number of nonfiction books for children and young adults to fifty. Her current works in progress include a sequel to The Healer’s Choice along with a novel in verse and a collection of steampunk short stories. Kathryn did graduate work in comparative literature and medieval studies at the City University of New York and is now a lecturer in the English Department of the University of North Georgia. She has lived in Dahlonega, Georgia, since 1995.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 31, 1971 — Apollo 14 departs for the moon.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian enjoyed the horrible literary pun in Brevity.

(12) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Newsweek says get ready — “Earth’s Magnetic Poles Show Signs They’re About to Flip—Exposing Humans to Radiation and Planet-Wide Blackouts”.

Historically, Earth’s North and South magnetic poles have flipped every 200,000 or 300,000 years—except right now, they haven’t flipped successfully for about 780,000 years. But the planet’s magnetic field is at long last showing signs of shifting. Although there’s no way to know yet for sure, it could be gearing up to flip once more, according to Undark Magazine. And that possibility is raising new speculation about what that means for planetary life.

Our planet’s magnetic field protects us from lethal levels of radiation from phenomena like solar rays. The dangerous particles never hit us directly, because upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere the magnetic field deflects them and forces them to move around, according to NASA. So the prospect of that field weakening, which it does when it’s getting ready to flip, is worrisome: It would leave us without sufficient protection.

(13) COLD FACTS. The Planetary Society’s monthly video – “Space Robots in Antarctica” – The Planetary Post with Robert Picardo.

While Picardo speaks to Astronauts and fans on a Star Trek cruise ship, one of our other board members, Dr. Britney Schmidt toughs it out at the South Pole to research how one day robots could work underwater on ice moons.

 

(14) OFF WITH HER HEAD. Here’s a freaky story —

Guests at Disney‘s California Adventure reported getting an unexpected scare when Ursula the sea witch’s head fell off — and she kept singing.

 

(15) SCREENWRITING. Withoutabox has opened the 4th annual ScreenCraft Sci-Fi and Fantasy Screenplay Contest. Full details at the link:

We’re thrilled to announce our 2018 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Screenplay Contest! Whether you’re writing a contained science fiction drama or an epic fantasy saga, we want to read your feature film script. The jury is out of this world — with judges who love sci-fi movies — from top companies including 20th Century Fox, Sony and Lionsgate! Don’t miss the industry’s #1 sci-fi & fantasy feature screenplay contest.

…ScreenCraft runs a suite of screenwriting competitions that have a long history of getting writers repped and working. The secret is that ScreenCraft actually determines the winners with judges who work in the particular genre or space – real industry executives (not just readers). The winners get actual meetings with actual executives, so that a relationship forms beyond just a great script.

Judges
Hollywood’s #1 Sci-fi & Fantasy Screenplay Contest jury includes executives from Sony, 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate:

Jonathan Wu
Development Executive at 20th Century Fox, the studio behind AVATAR, X-MEN, ANOTHER EARTH, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, PROMETHEUS, PREDATORS and more!

Steven Douglas-Craig
Executive Assistant at Sony Pictures, the studio behind PASSENGERS, GHOSTBUSTERS, MEN IN BLACK, RESIDENT EVIL and SPIDER-MAN.

Meredith Wieck
Development Executive at Lionsgate, the studio behind TWILIGHT, HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT.

(16) IN THE MARKET. Unsung Stories is open for submissions from January 29 to February 26.

Speculative fiction. That means anything not mundane: fantasy; science fiction; horror; weird fiction; magical realism; etc. Complete novels of 40K + words to be considered for print publication.

We are also interested in exploring the potential of shorter fictions that challenge the definition of the traditional novel; sets of novellas or novelettes, interlinked short fictions and the like.

Full details at the link. This is the publisher of The Arrival of Missives, the novella by Aliya Whiteley.

(17) CALL FOR PAPERS. The organisers of the (Un)Ethical Futures conference, held in Melbourne last December, invite contributions for a special themed issue of Colloquy: Text, Theory, Critique and an edited essay collection, provisionally titled (Un)Ethical Futures: Utopia, Dystopia and Science Fiction. — “CfP: (Un)Ethical Futures: Utopia, Dystopia and Science Fiction”

Deadline for submissions: 30 April 2018.

We are interested in submissions that explore the ethical dimensions of utopia, dystopia and science fiction (sf). This focus on ethics allows for a range of topics, including environmental ethics and climate change, human bioethics, animal ethics, the ethical use of technology, ethics of alterity and otherness, as well as related issues of social justice. We welcome submissions that bring these ethical considerations into dialogue with speculative fiction across different genres and modes, from sf about the near or distant future, to alternative histories about better or worse presents, to stories about utopian or dystopian societies. Possible areas of engagement include, but are not limited to:

  • Environmental ethics in speculative climate fiction (“cli-fi”)
  • The treatment or representation of animals, artificial intelligence, aliens or other posthuman or non-human entities in utopia, dystopia and sf
  • Utopian and dystopian dimensions of Indigenous literatures and traditions
  • Postcolonial and critical race theory studies of utopia, dystopia and sf
  • The ethics of alterity and ethical responses to otherness in speculative fiction
  • Politics, activism, social justice and ethics in sf and its fan communities
  • Bioethical issues in sf, including biopunk and cyberpunk subgenres
  • Feminist and queer theory engagement with utopia, dystopia and sf
  • Philosophy, ethics and the utopian impulse

Colloquy is an open access, peer-reviewed journal published by the Literary and Cultural Studies Graduate Research Program at Monash University. We publish scholarly work and creative writing from emerging and established researchers in literary and cultural studies, critical theory, continental philosophy, film and television studies, communications and media studies, and performance studies.

(18) CANNED ANYWAY. An investigation found that the “Worker Who Sent Hawaii False Alert Thought Missile Attack Was Imminent”:

A false ballistic missile alert in Hawaii was sent on Jan. 13 because an emergency worker believed there really was a missile threat, according to a preliminary investigation by the Federal Communications Commission.

The report finds that the false alert was not the result of a worker choosing the wrong alert by accident from a drop-down menu, but rather because the worker misunderstood a drill as a true emergency. The drill incorrectly included the language “This is not a drill.”

The top two civilian officials at Hawaii Emergency Management Agency announced their resignations Wednesday, Reuters reports, and the employee who issued the alert was fired. In addition, the agency’s military director told the wire service, a midlevel manager is being suspended.

(19) THE VERDICT. The BBC says “Black Panther reaction is in… and it’s good news”:

It’s not out until 13 February but reviewers got to see the film at its premiere on Monday night.

Here’s a taster of the reaction so far (and we’ll try to avoid any spoilers):

The LA Times’ Trevell Anderson described it as “a love letter about blackness”.

Freelance film writer Rebecca Theodore-Vachon said Black Panther “was everything I wanted and more”.

Fandango’s managing editor, Erik Davis, agreed.

(20) ALMOST BLACK PANTHER. Wesley Snipes started out as a dancer and fully intended to play Black Panther wearing nothing but a leotard. Maybe with some little cat ears on it. The project was never made: “Wesley Snipes Reveals Untold Story Behind His ‘Black Panther’ Film” in The Hollywood Reporter.

“I think Black Panther spoke to me because he was noble, and he was the antithesis of the stereotypes presented and portrayed about Africans, African history and the great kingdoms of Africa,” Snipes tells THR. “It had cultural significance, social significance. It was something that the black community and the white community hadn’t seen before.”

Created in 1966 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Black Panther was revolutionary as the first African superhero in mainstream comics. The king and kick-butt protector of Wakanda had it all: brawn, brains, wealth and advanced technologies.

Snipes was hooked in an instant when he and his then manager, Doug Robertson, were approached by Marvel for the project. Feeling that Africa, save for the unique animal population, was too commonly shown in film as a depressing, desolate land, Snipes yearned to show its beauty and lush history.

…Recalling the costume idea leaves Snipes in hysterics.

“Actually, I figured it would be a leotard,” he says. “A leotard with maybe some little cat ears on it. I would have to be in shape and just be straight bodied up. I never imagined anything more than a leotard at the time, which I didn’t have a problem with because I started out as a dancer.”

(21) LEGOVERSARY. Lego celebrated its birthday is the most appropriate way —

Building toy giant Lego marked its 60th anniversary by constructing a 10-foot-tall version of a Lego brick from 133,000 smaller Lego bricks.

The company posted a time-lapse video to YouTube showing “Master Builders” at Lego’s U.S. headquarters in Enfield, Conn., using 133,000 Lego bricks to build a massive version of its classic “2×4” Lego brick.

The brick, which weighs 1,200 pounds, took about 350 hours to build, Lego said.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Nancy Sauer, Cat Eldridge, JJ, ULTRAGOTHA, Standback, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Brian Z., Carl Slaughter, Francis Hamit, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Acoustic Rob.]

Pixel Scroll 12/21 Rudolph the Scroll Nosed Reindeer

(1) SHE WAS ON WHAT KIND OF TRIP? The Mirror knows we can’t resist looking: “Woman ‘photobombed by alien’ during selfie on passenger jet on business trip”.

A woman has posted a selfie taken on a plane in which she claims she was photobombed – by an alien.

Olesya Podkorytov from the city of Kurgan in south-central Russia’s Kurgan Oblast region said she took the picture during the flight on a whim but when she posted it on social media friends pointed out something strange a few seats behind.

(2) BEFORE THERE WERE FOREHEAD CLOTHS. Movie bracket maven Hampus Eckerman pointed to this LA Times story, “’Young Frankenstein’ has new life on 40th anniversary”.

Director Mel Brooks spent a lot of money on white handkerchiefs while making his 1974 tour de farce, “Young Frankenstein.”

“I gave everybody in the crew a white handkerchief,” said the 88-year-old comedy legend during a recent phone interview. “I said, ‘When you feel like laughing, put this in your mouth.’ Every once in a while, I’d turn around and see a sea of white handkerchiefs, and I said, ‘I got a hit.'”

“Young Frankenstein” was more than a hit. It is a comic masterpiece.

(3) ‘TWAS CHITTY. Joined by Conan O’Brian, Dick Van Dyke and his a capella group, The Vantastix, sing the title song from his 1968 movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Van Dyke recently turned 90 but he can still belt out a tune.

(4) THE TRANSOM IS SHUT. Tor.com will no longer consider unsolicited short fiction submissions effective January 7, 2016 reports Locus Online.

(5) C. S. LEWIS. Matthew David Surridge is doing a read-through of C.S. Lewis works at Black Gate. The first two parts are —

“Wandering the Worlds of C.S. Lewis, Part I: Boxen”

I have read some, though far from all, of Lewis’ non-fiction; I intend to talk about it only insofar as I see a bearing on his fiction. I’m interested in seeing what images, tones, ideas, and approaches unite a fairly disparate corpus of writing. I want to see how Lewis’ approach to storytelling developed over his life, and how motifs and themes recurred in his work. I hope that by doing this I’ll better understand his individual books. At any rate, I’ll begin here with a look at Lewis’ published juvenilia…

“Wandering the Worlds of C.S. Lewis, Part II: Spirits in Bondage”

Today, I want to go through Lewis’ first book, a collection of lyric poems called Spirits in Bondage, published in 1919 when Lewis was still an atheist.

Yesterday I quoted Lewis’ judgement in his 1955 autobiography Surprised by Joy that the Boxen tales are novelistic and not poetic. If that’s so, what did the older Lewis think about the poetry he wrote in his youth? Did he find wonder and romance in the verse of Spirits in Bondage and Dymer? Hard to judge. Lewis doesn’t mention either volume in Surprised by Joy. Which strikes me as a little odd.

(6) CAREER GUIDANCE. David Gerrold responded on Facebook to Dr. Mauser (thought not actually by name). Between his very funny lines about being a so-called internet blowhard and his thoroughly serious rebuttal comes good advice for writers about dealing with controversy.

1) Never never never never never get into feuds. Whatever credibility you might have, you are automatically lending it to anyone you feud with because you are implying they are of equal validity, when most of the time they are not. People who enjoy feuds are automatically downgrading their credibility.

2) If you must respond, focus solely on the issue. Do not get into any personal remarks of any kind. Discuss issues only, not personalities. (This is because everyone has issues, not everyone has a personality.)

3) Never vilify a whole class or group of people — this generalization assumes that everyone in that class or group thinks and acts alike, that they are a monolithic army of clones. They are not. (I have stumbled here, more than once, and have now learned this lesson very well.)

And finally,

4) Always demand evidence.

(7) COMICS HUGO. George R.R. Martin has “More Hugo Ruminations” at Not A Blog.

I really don’t think we needed to add a Graphic Story category to the Hugo Awards. Comics have their own awards, the Eisners, they don’t need the Hugo too. Besides, most SF fans do not follow comics closely enough to make informed judgements in this area.

That being said, however, I have to concede that the fans did pretty damned well nominating in this category last year. SAGA was the only one of the finalists that I had actually heard of before Sasquan announced last year’s ballot… but I dutifully read all the others before I voted, and for the most part, I was impressed (okay, not by the Puppy nominee, which was several notches below the other four)… especially by MS. MARVEL, a whole new take on the character (actually a whole new character with an old name), a charming new addition to the Marvel universe, and the eventual winner.

So… I still don’t love Graphic Novel as a Hugo category, but it exists, and those who follow the field more closely than me should nominate Good Stuff here again, and maybe I’ll have more comic books to discover and delight in when the final ballot comes out.

Meanwhile, I do have one truly outstanding graphic novel to suggest… I am not totally disconnected from the world of comics, y’see… and that’s a book called THE SCULPTOR, by Scott McCloud….

(8) TOWERING TRAILER. The movie High-Rise is based on a J.G. Ballard novel.

(9) Today In History

Doctor Who fans may not be surprised to discover that those forceful characters the Daleks appear to be the only one of the Doctor’s enemies to have been given their own celebratory day. Dalek Day is held on 21st December each year. This date was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the Daleks because they made their first TV appearance in Doctor Who on 21st December 1963. The official title of Dalek Day is the International Dalek Remembrance Day. There does not appear to be any regular organised celebrations each year to commemorate Dalek Day and it is unclear whether Dalek supporters meet or actually even dress up in Dalek costumes. Many of their fans appear to celebrate Dalek Day at home by having a Doctor Who marathon and watching again their favourite episodes with the Daleks battling against the Doctor.

  • December 21, 1937 — Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length animated feature film, opened in Los Angeles.
  • December 21, 1984Don’t Open ‘Till Christmas opens slightly before Christmas.

(10) NO ROOM IN THE FUTURE FOR RANDY GARRETT. The Traveler at Galactic Journey reviews the January 1961 Analog in a manner that makes a reader wonder if this blog theme is a good fit for somebody who hates a prolific author for the most popular prozine of its time. Not because The Traveler ought to like something he doesn’t, but who’s going to want to hear about it every month?

Thus, it is too early to tell whether or not Analog is ever going to pull itself out of its literary doldrums.  I had such high hopes after December’s issue; January’s has dashed them.

It doesn’t help that Randall Garrett is still one of Campbell’s favorite writers.  I’m not sure if Garrett’s stories are lousy because Campbell tells Garrett what he should write, or if they’re lousy because Garrett writes what he knows Campbell will take.  Or maybe Garrett and Campbell independently share awful taste.  In any event, the long long lead novella, The Highest Treason, is a one-star drek-fest if ever there was one.

(11) TIX FOR RADIO PERFORMANCE OF WYNDHAM. Tickets are available to attend a live recording of John Wyndham’s The Kraken Wakes by BBC4 with the BBC Philharmonic. The event will be Friday, January 8, 2016 at MediaCityUK in Salford. Ticket applications are open until December 27.

Join the BBC Philharmonic and BBC Radio 4 for radio drama, The Kraken Wakes. This modern retelling of John Wyndham’s 1953 apocalyptic novel, is adapted by crime writer and dramatist Val McDermid and stars Tamsin Greig, Paul Higgins and Richard Harrington.

This is a rare chance to see a radio drama recorded for Radio 4 with a live orchestral accompaniment from the BBC Philharmonic.

Composer Alan Edward Williams has created a brand new orchestral score that will ‘play the part’ of the great sea monster during the performance.

The Kraken Wakes will be recorded as a live performance in two parts. The drama will then be broadcast later in the year on BBC Radio 4.

(12) CLASSIC RADIO SF. Open Culture helps you “Hear 6 Classic Philip K. Dick Stories Adapted as Vintage Radio Plays”.

As you can probably tell if you’ve interacted with any of his hard-core fans, the science fiction of Philip K. Dick has a way of getting into readers’ heads. What better way to adapt it, then, than in the medium of radio drama, with its direct route into the head through the ears? Science fiction in general provided radio drama with a good deal of bread-and-butter subject matter since pretty much its inception, and suitably so: its producers didn’t have to bother designing distant worlds, alien races and elaborately futuristic technologies when, with the right sound design, the listeners would design it all themselves in their imaginations.

From the series Mind Webs, which ran on Wisconsin public radio, “The Preserving Machine,” “Impostor,” and “The Builder.” From X Minus One, “Colony” and “The Defenders.”From Sci-Fi Radio, “Sales Pitch.”

(13) FRANCHISE SF. The Documentary, on BBC’s World Service, has posted its 56-minute feature “Homer, Hagrid and the Incredible Hulk”.

Ben Hammersley meets creators and fans to investigate how extended fictional universes, from Star Wars and Harry Potter to Game of Thrones, took over global culture. He examines the huge financial success of the world’s biggest franchises, and argues that their stories – the identity of Luke Skywalker’s father, for example – have become common cultural touchstones around the world.

To understand how these expansive fictional universes are created and maintained, Ben visits professor Dumbledore’s office to talk to Stuart Craig, production designer on the Harry Potter films. He goes to Los Angeles to meet Lauren Faust, creator of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. And, he travels to San Diego Comic Con where he discusses a number of different universes with Marc Zicree, writer on numerous film and TV series, including Star Trek.

Ben also speaks to authors Robin Hobb and Warren Ellis, and to Axel Alonso and Ryan Penagos from Marvel. He hears from numerous fans, including Game of Thrones super-fans Linda Antonsson and Elio Garcia about the joys of fandom.

(14) NON-REALISTIC SF ART. Joachim Boaz’ “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Jack Gaughan’s Covers For Walker & Co. (1969-1970)” revisits covers of books I remember borrowing from the library when I was in high school.

Some famous novels are graced by his covers: James Blish’s A Case of Conscience (1958), Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris (1961), Silverberg’s Nightwings (1968), Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), and Norman Spinrad’s Bug Jack Barron (1969).

Stainless Steel Rat cover Gaughan

Titles in this art sequence without suitable images online: A Gift from Earth (1968), Re-Birth (1955), All Judgement Fled (1968), Trouble with Lichen (1960), The Midwich Cuckoos (1957).

(15) MAGIC NUMBER. Obviously I must mention something titled “Five for 2015: 5 TV Characters of the Year”, Jon Morgan’s post on Pornokitsch. Under discussion are Agent Carter, Phyrne Fisher, Jessica Jones, Kimmy Schmidt and Cat Grant.

(16) HE SLEIGHS ME. At Whatever, John Scalzi has an “Interview With Santa’s Reindeer Wrangler”.

Q: We could talk about that. I mean, the general violation of physics that goes on around the whole Santa’s sleigh thing.

A: Look, I don’t pretend to know the science of the flying sleigh thing, okay? That’s not my job. You can ask Santa’s physicists about it if you want.

Q: Santa has physicists on staff?

A: Of course he does. He’s one of the largest recruiters of physicists outside of NASA. What, you thought all this happened because of magic?

Q: Well, now that you mention it, yes. Yes, I did.

(17) MALCONTENT WARNING. Darth Santa…. Great production values for a video whose humor may leave you a little ill. Or laughing your ass off, depending on what meds you’ve taken today.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Nigel, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day redheadedfemme.]

Pixel Scroll 9/30 Bite Cycles

(1) Product placement. Would you like to guess what product is featured in The Martian?

Aston Martin, Omega, and Burberry will be among the brands proud to be associated with Spectre, the latest James Bond movie when it opens next month. But with product placement and promotional tie-ins now generating big bucks for movie-makers, brands eager to share a piece of the big-screen action now extend well beyond the usual suspects.

For proof, look no further than The Martian, the new sci-fi action adventure starring Matt Damon, which opens in the UK later this week complete with… an official potato. Though even this is not the most surprising in a recent series of increasingly bizarre promotional couplings.

…The end result is a promotional campaign for which the film studio used its connections with NASA to provide Albert Bartlett customers with an all-expenses-paid family trip to the Kennedy Space Center as a competition prize in a Martian-themed promotional campaign.

“They wanted exposure. They also knew that, while the film will have big appeal with single blokes, they needed a way to open it up to a wider, family audience,” Marcantonio explains. “Which means it makes sense at a number of different levels. Unlike when soft drinks companies tie up with just about any family movie they can find to reach kids, this tie-up is anything but spurious.”

Indeed. And for a more mundane reason, too. Because like the planet Mars, Albert Bartlett’s best-selling potato – the Rooster – is … red.

(2) Not all of the marketing has been a success.

Remember what I said the other day about not betting against David Gerrold when science fiction cinema is on the line?

His new Facebook post concerns The Martian.

So, here’s my review of The Martian…which I was supposed to see tonight.

The studio’s public relations department is run by idiots.

If you arrange a screening, and if you make passes available to hundreds of fans — warning them ahead of time that you have overbooked and nobody is guaranteed a seat is not an excuse. It’s a cop-out.

You don’t turn away a hundred or more people at the door and shrug it off and say, “Sorry.”

What you do is you say, “Let’s make it up to these people who came all this way and waited all this time.” You go to the management of the theater and say, “We want to schedule a second screening after the first one concludes so that no one goes home disappointed.” That not only gives you good PR with the audience but it helps generate good word-of-mouth three days before the film opens.

The movie might be good. I expect it will be. But the PR people just pissed off at least a hundred fans who waited two hours or longer in line. Not good. Just not good.

(3) Astronaut Clayton C. Anderson, who did get into a screening, wrote this review:

Having already read and enjoyed Weir’s excellent adventure, I was pleasantly surprised with the effective presentation of the novel on screen. Seeing beautiful Martian vistas, punctuated by mountainous terrain in variegated hues of orange, made it seem as if humans were already living there. The use of high-altitude and digitally accurate perspectives of the Martian surface pulled at my heart strings. And I loved that Andy Weir developed a relationship with NASA after publishing the novel, leading the push to involve the space program directly with Scott. The resulting emphasis on science provides an enjoyable balance between the film’s considerable entertainment value and its educational, inspirational, and technological references.

(4) A New Yorker cartoon contains the greatest proof yet of life on Mars….

(5) However, when Rush Limbaugh claims he’s unconvinced NASA found water on Mars, it’s not comedy, it’s tragedy.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: There’s so much fraud. Snerdly came in today ‘what’s this NASA news, this NASA news is all exciting.’ I said yeah they found flowing water up there. ‘No kidding! Wow! Wow!’ Snerdly said ‘flowing water!?’ I said ‘why does that excite you? What, are you going there next week? What’s the big deal about flowing water on Mars?’ ‘I don’t know man but it’s just it’s just wow!’ I said ‘you know what, when they start selling iPhones on Mars, that’s when it’ll matter to me.’ I said ‘what do you think they’re gonna do with this news?’ I said ‘look at the temperature data, that has been reported by NASA, has been made up, it’s fraudulent for however many years, there isn’t any warming, there hasn’t been for 18.5 years. And yet, they’re lying about it. They’re just making up the amount of ice in the North and South Poles, they’re making up the temperatures, they’re lying and making up false charts and so forth. So what’s to stop them from making up something that happened on Mars that will help advance their left-wing agenda on this planet?’ And Snerdly paused ‘oh oh yeah you’re right.’ You know, when I play golf with excellent golfers, I ask them ‘does it ever get boring playing well? Does it ever get boring hitting shot after shot where you want to hit it?’ And they all look at me and smile and say ‘never.’ Well folks, it never gets boring being right either. Like I am. But it doesn’t mean it is any less frustrating.

(6) GeekTyrant says this is the 10-foot inflatable Jabba the Hutt you’re looking for.

ilvr_sw_jabba_the_hut_inflatable

Here’s something that’s sure to piss off your neighbors: a ten-foot long, six-foot tall inflatable Jabba the Hutt, perfect for decorating your front lawn or as the centerpiece for that Star Wars-themed party you might be planning. You can bring it with you to wait in line for The Force Awakens, use it as a Home Alone-style distraction to make potential robbers think a large alien lives in your home…the possibilities are too numerous to entertain in one sitting.

“I say put a Santa hat on him and put him in the front yard,” is John King Tarpinian’s advice.

Or give him his own radio show.

From ThinkGeek for $169.99.

(7) Elizabeth Bear lets readers in on the drafting process…

(8) Rights to Heinlein’s “The Man Who Sold The Moon” have been acquired by Allen Bain’s firm Bainframe. It will be developed for television.

More details on Deadline.com:

Bain (Two Men In Town, Revenge Of The Green Dragons) founded Bainframe to tell stories that have “the power to inspire people to dream of a better tomorrow.” This is the shingle’s second rights buy, following Octavia E. Butler’s Dawn. 

…The Man Who Sold The Moon tells the tale of Delos D. Harriman, a businessman possessed by a dream to take humanity off-Earth. As a young entrepreneur, he starts a private space company to colonize the moon and create the home he never had. He is driven to the brink while single-handedly ushering the entire human race to its next evolutionary step.

“This story is inspiring because the private space race is happening now and will become a reality within a decade. This is not some far flung science fiction yarn. It is something we are going to experience in our lifetime,” says Bain. The timing coincides with yesterday’s announcement by NASA of strong evidence there is flowing water on Mars. “The Man Who Sold the Moon allows us to imagine how the space race will play out, but at its core it’s really a gripping portrait of a complex character with an impossible dream.”

Bain notes that Harriman’s journey is reminiscent of the current crop of space pioneers like Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic), Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin) and Elon Musk (SpaceX) who has credited Heinlein as an inspiration.

(9) WisCon posted a report in June about the results of the first con run under its new anti-abuse policy.

This year was the first convention where we had a formal procedure in place for what to do when individuals attending WisCon violate the code of conduct described in our anti-harassment policy. The policy is intended to be flexible to allow for different situations, but its basic idea is that if somebody reports a harassing behavior to Safety, the person responsible can be issued a warning and asked to do something differently (such as staying away from a place or person). If warnings aren’t attended to or harassing behavior escalates, the policy describes a few more options, including –– in the worst case scenario, which we hope to avoid –– that Safety and Chairs in consultation with available Anti-Abuse Team members can make a collective at-con decision to ban someone from WisCon.

Now that the convention is over, Safety has handed off their at-con reports to the full Anti-Abuse Team, which is reviewing reports that are still open post-con and evaluating how well the policy performed on- site. Here’s how things looked in our first year:

  • 11 issues relating to the anti-harassment policy were reported to Safety.
  • 4 attendees were issued warnings for harassing behaviors.
  • 1 disruptive non-member was escorted off the premises by hotel staff.
  • 1 person was banned, after several warnings, in response to reports both from multiple departments and from the hotel –– some relating to patterns of behavior going back several years.

(10) Curbed has a report on a film adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s High Rise coming to film festivals.

The novel begins with a truly surreal opening line—”later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog”—and the story explores a societal breakdown similar to of-the-moment entertainment franchises such as The Walking Dead. But in J.G. Ballard’s 1975 High-Rise, the subject of a new film adaptation starting to make the festival rounds this month, the enemy isn’t some virus or the undead. The residents of a new London high-rise slowly regress and devolve into tribal infighting not due to some outside force altering their environment, but because of the environment itself. The tower becomes a character in the story, written as a symbol of the meticulous (and ultimately very fragile) class systems built up by society.

(11) Wired has interviewed David J. Peterson about his new book in “How To Invent A Language, From The Guy Who Made Dothraki”.

Some Conlangers Want to Keep Their Hobby Arcane

Peterson recognizes there are “definitely some negative aspects” to the growth in conlang popularity. He cites linguistic pioneer J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord Of The Rings as an example of the community’s instinct toward self-protection. “There were some people who reacted negatively [when LOTR was published] because they knew conlang would start to get more attention, and they didn’t want that,” he says. Until recently, the community has been a supportive niche for people with a very specific interest. But as television shows and films with created languages continue to pop up in more places, it’s no longer as heavily guarded.

His Book Aims to Codify Conlang Knowledge For Posterity

Constructed languages have existed for centuries, but the advent of the internet brought with it the listserv that created a true community of peers. Since then, the community has grown hugely—but as the internet has changed, a new generation of conlangers on various social networks has become more spread out and unaware of each other. “I’ve met dozens of conlangers on Tumblr, all new, all young, who have no idea that each other exist,” he says, “because they’re with the mass kind of shouting into the wind.” None of them know about the old conlang listserv, and now it’s an antiquated form of digital communication, so “they don’t want to bother with that.” Peterson worries about redundancies that would arise from the lack of connection. “They’re inheriting a kingdom they really don’t know the history of, and know nothing about,” he says. They’re reinventing every single wheel we already perfected.” The Art Of Language Invention is a way of bridging the gap between the old and new conlangers by becoming a codex of sorts, preserving knowledge of constructed language much in the same way ancient languages have been preserved throughout history.

[Thanks to Mark sans surname, Andrew Porter, Ansible Links, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Jannick Storm (1939-2015)

Jannick Storm

Jannick Storm

Danish author, critic and translator Jannick Storm who, according to the dedication in Brian Aldiss’ Billion Year Spree, “colonised Denmark”, died May 9.

By the end of the 1950s attempts to introduce translated foreign sf into Denmark had failed, says John-Henri Holmberg in the Science Fiction Encyclopedia. Storm spent the 1960s working to re-establish the genre, writing and speaking about sf, especially its more experimental authors. In 1968 he began editing a line of sf in translation by such writers as J.G. Ballard, James Blish, Philip K. Dick, Frederik Pohl and Clifford Simak.

Storm’s Danish translation of Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition (1969) was the book’s first appearance in print. That same year he conducted a fascinating interview with Ballard for Speculation that ends with a bitter observation about fandom:

Storm: In SF Horizons, Brian Aldiss wrote that “Ballard is seldom discussed in fanzines.” Time has certainly proved him wrong, and now you are one of the most discussed people in fandom. What do you think of fandom itself?

Ballard: I didn’t know that was the case, because I never see any fanzines. I don’t have any contact with fans. My one and only contact with fandom was when I’d just started writing, which is twelve years ago, when the World Science Fiction Convention was being held in London, in 1957, and I went along to that as a young new writer hoping to meet people who were interested in the serious aims of science fiction and all its possibilities. In fact there was just a collection of very unintelligent people, who were almost illiterate, who had no interest whatever in the serious and interesting possibilities of science fiction. In fact I was so taken aback by that convention that I more or less stopped writing for a couple of years. Since then I’ve had absolutely nothing to do with fans, and I think they’re a great handicap to science fiction and always have been.

Storm began writing his own sf in the 1970s, with stories appearing in English in New Worlds and Ambit. In Denmark, his work appeared in literary magazines, anthologies, and his own magazine Limbo. His short fiction is collected in Miriam og andre (“Miriam and Others”) (1972) and Er mao død (“Is Mao Dead”) (1974).

Storm’s own book on science fiction, Vor tids eventyr: Katastrofe-området (1978; The Fairy Tales of Our Time: Disaster Area) returned Brian’s appreciation with the dedication, “To Brian W. Aldiss, who colonised ME.”

[Thanks to John-Henri Holmberg and Andrew Porter for the story.]

Past Masters

The Master, a film that takes impetus from L. Ron Hubbard’s creation of Scientology, is due in theaters September 14. See the trailer here.

The Master was secretly screened in Santa Monica on August 3. A member of the audience posted some quick thoughts on Hollywood Elsewhere:

I’m still digesting everything I saw, but it was pretty amazing. It was like a strange fever dream. [But] not audience friendly AT ALL. An ambiguous ending and not one likable character. And without any ‘milkshake’ lines, it probably won’t have the breakthrough that There Will Be Blood had… There are three or four scenes between Phoenix and Hoffman that are barn burners. It also contains the best work Amy Adams has ever done…

In The Master Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a World War II vet haunted by his experiences who forms his own religion. Joaquin Phoenix plays a drifter who becomes The Master’s right-hand man.

While many Golden Age and New Wave sf writers have been the subjects of documentaries, they have rarely inspired big screen dramatics. Besides The Master, I can only think of Empire of the Sun (1984), about J.G. Ballard’s childhood years in a Shanghai internment camp, Shadowlands (1993), based loosely on C.S.Lewis’ relationship with Joy Davidman Gresham, and Martian Child (2007), taken from David Gerrold’s story about adopting a son. Have I missed any?

[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]

Dirda Reviews Ballard Collection
in Washington Post

Ballard once said, “The only truly alien planet is Earth,” recalls Michael Dirda in his review of The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard for the Washington Post.

Dirda sees parallels between Ballard and Philip K. Dick: many would agree. What’s surprising is his description of the contrasts in their work:

…Dick’s work is fundamentally sociable, a paean to unacknowledged goodness and the quiet satisfactions of ordinary life. Ballard’s protagonists tend to be isolated visionaries who inexorably pursue their obsessions to the point of madness or death, typically reaching self-fulfillment through nothing less than self-immolation.

By Michael Dirda’s lights, Phil Dick’s worldview sounds practically Hobbit-esque. But I don’t see Ragle Gumm or Frank Frink adjourning to the Prancing Pony for a jolly tankard of ale.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the link.]