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.]

Moorcock Pleads Guilty — To Science Fiction

After so many obituaries minimized or denied J. G. Ballard’s roots in SF, Moshe Feder was glad to hear from Michael Moorcock, the godfather of the New Wave, that he still unashamedly identifies himself with the field — and that there is video of the late Ballard doing the same:

Mike Moorcock was kind enough to bring this BBC program to my attention. The first 8 minutes of this episode are devoted to Ballard. An interview with his daughter Bea frames clips from David Cronenberg,  Brian Aldiss and Ballard himself. He states unequivocally that he IS a science fiction writer and proud of it. (Take that, Robert Weil!) If you don’t have it, you’ll need to download Real Player to hear this.

Update 05/08/2009: Old dog tries new trick.

Snapshots 23

Here are a dozen developments of interest to fans:

(1) You don’t expect this from Locus, let alone a mundane paper, so how surprising is it that Ottawa Citizen editorialist Kate Heartfield devoted a recent column to the importance of Worldcon members voting for the Hugos?

[If] history is any guide, only a few hundred WorldCon participants will actually vote for the Hugos.

I don’t get that. So many literary awards are chosen by inscrutable juries and panels. The Hugos are — or at least have the potential to be — truly democratic. Not only do WorldCon members get to choose among the nominees; we also got to nominate them in the first place.

(2) Fred Pohl posted some very interesting observations about his late collaborator Cyril Kornbluth on The Way the Future Blogs:

Unfortunately Cyril’s health was deteriorating. Partly this was due to the quantities of coffee, cigarettes, hot pastrami sandwiches and alcohol he had been ingesting since his teens, but mostly it was due to the war.

(3) Want to see what the Hugo logo contest is inspiring? Fasten your seat-belt and click on this link to see California blogger Wendell Wittler’s suggestion:

When the lovely and/or talented John Scalzi mentioned that the Hugo Awards are staging a competition for a logo design, I was inspired to jump in head first. Now, I do not claim to be a good visual artist (which is why I own the domain name PhotoSlop.com which I will be putting to some use soon). But a few moments pondering about the prestigious awards for a class of massively imaginative writers and looking at the design of the award trophy (a shiny metal retro-style rocket with relatively little phallic resemblance) and I had an extremely cool idea.

(4) Francis Hamit was interviewed on Elise Cooper’s new program “The Book Stops Here” on April 19 about The Shenandoah Spy, of course, and also a little bit about self-publishing.  Programs are archived, so you can easily listen in anytime.

(5) Diana and Sierra recently visited Virginia. While on the road, Diana visited with a group of C. S. Lewis fans:

On April 9th, I had the pleasure of meeting with the Harrisonburg C. S. Lewis Society at their local Barnes & Noble. The group, founded by Will Vaus, was attentive and lively- we had a terrific evening.

This is from Diana’s new blog now, and the post includes photos.

(6) Lex Berman thinks fandom’s Secret Masters might glean something useful out of  the stats for DrupalCon, the recent “unconference” for Drupal users and developers held in Washington, D.C. 

(7) TMZ.com reported that the late Majel Roddenberry made sure her dogs would  “live long and prosper after her death” by willing them the right to live in one of her mansions and setting up a $4 million residential trust to maintain the place in style.

And no, her son Eugene Roddenberry Jr. was not neglected in favor of the dogs. He got a mansion plus many more millions of his own.

(8) Reporters calling this archeological find a “hobbit” haven’t fooled Andrew Porter. He observes that the “article doesn’t mention hairy feet or proclivity to drink a lot (nor ring-wearing)”:

A “hobbit” will be making its public debut on Tuesday [April 21] at Stony Brook University on Long Island. A cast of the skull and bones of the hominid Homo floresiensis, its diminutive size inspiring the hobbit nickname, will be displayed for the first time at a public symposium on human evolution, titled “Hobbits in the Haystack.”

(9) You think your fanac is expensive? Try building a working model of the Saturn V:

On April 25, 2009, history will be made. At Higgs Farm in Price, Maryland, Steve Eves will enter the history books as the person who flew the largest model rocket in history. The rocket will weigh over 1,600 pounds, it will stand over 36 feet tall and it will be powered by a massive array of nine motors: eight 13,000ns N-Class motors and a 77,000ns P-Class motor. The estimated altitude of this single stage effort will be between 3,000 and 4,000 feet and the project will be recovered at apogee.

The fuel price alone, including the motor cases, will exceed $13,000.

(10) Garth Spencer’s Royal Swiss Navy Gazette #17 has been posted at eFanzines. It’s a very ambitious issue:

In this issue…the RSN presents a solution for violence in the Near East, the Elder Ghods submit a suit against Microsoft, I reveal what I learned from cop shows (and police news), and Taral Wayne tells us all about furry fandom.

(11) There’s lots to know about the Iron Man movie sequel:

Now, with director Jon Favreau in the grip of a full-fledged Twitter addiction, we may end up knowing more than we really want to…. According to Favreau’s tweets, American comedian Garry Shandling is in the film, although no-one seems to know who he’s playing. Not even Shandling.

David Klaus says the real comedy gold comes after the end of the article. “Be sure to read all the ‘Douglas Urbanski’-related comments,” he advises.

(12) John Crace has contributed an insightful post about J. G. Ballard to the Guardian‘s “Book Blog”:

Critics often used to comment on the contrast between the prim suburban order of Shepperton, where Jim Ballard lived for the past 50 years or so, and the dark, dystopian worlds of his writing. Which rather missed the point. For Ballard was one of those increasingly rare writers who actually had a life before writing.

[Thanks to Geri Sullivan, Andrew Porter, David Klaus, Francis Hamit, Chaos Manor, Garth Spencer and Lex Berman for the links included in this post.]