(1) WHAT A SAVINGS. Get your Grabthar’s hammer t-shirt from TeeChip. These babies are going for $22.99, while they last!
(2) WOODEN IT BE LUVERLY. It took over a year to carve, and “This Beautiful Millennium Falcon Was Made With Over 3,000 Pieces of Wood”.
(3) HISTORY OF A MYSTERY. Memorabilia of the 1955 Cleveland and 1956 NYC World Science Fiction Conventions is up for auction on eBay. There are publications, etc., but the most interesting part to fanhistorians would be the Cleveland committee’s file copies of correspondence, like the letter sent in advance of the con to its “mystery guest of honor” Sam Moskowitz (lower right). The seller is looking for a starting bid of $499.99, and the auction has six days to run.
(4) CORNELL’S SHERLOCK. Paul Cornell’s episode of Elementary will be broadcast in the US this week. You can view the trailer on his blog.
On this coming Sunday, the 20th March, at 10pm, my episode of Elementary, ‘You’ve Got Me, Who’s Got You?’ will be broadcast on CBS. Those in the Central and East Coast time zones should note that the NCAA March Madness second round (I assume that’s something to do with sport) will be taking place that day, so there’s a chance the episode might be delayed. At any rate, I’ll be up at 3am my time to live tweet along with the show. So that’ll be fun. And possibly quite weird. If you haven’t already found me on Twitter, I’m @paul_cornell.
As the official synopsis says: ‘when a man who secretly fought crime dressed as a popular comic book superhero is murdered, Holmes and Watson must discover his real identity before they can find his killer. Also, Morland makes a surprise donation to Watson’s favorite charity, in order to compel her to do him a business-related favor.’
Which is spot on, really!
(5) THE OTHER SIDE OF THE LOOKING-GLASS. Fantasy-Faction’s Nicola Alter tries to ease fantasy fans into the idea of reading sf – “Trying Out Science Fiction: A Guide For Fantasy Purists”. I’ve always had to listen to sf fans who talk about their dislike of fantasy (and, oh, the howls of rage when a Harry Potter book won the Hugo), but it never occurred to me there might be fantasy fans who had to be convinced to read sf. Now I know.
I picked up a trashy sci-fi novel in my teens and immediately encountered a confusing story full of alien languages and weird words, with unappealing characters and an empty, lacklustre world. I couldn’t make any sense of it and it made me vaguely depressed, so I put it down. I decided science fiction wasn’t for me.
Over a decade later, I finally gave it another go. I had often heard science fiction works mentioned by fellow fantasy fans and seen the genres placed side-by-side at conventions, in bookstores, and online. I thought: I really ought to explore this “other side of the coin” and see what all the fuss is about.
So, I started reading sci-fi. And found books I loved – even books I adored. I added several science fiction works to my all-time favourites list. In the process, I learned a few things that might be helpful to any fantasy lovers wanting to embark on a similar exploration of this sister genre:
Don’t Start With The Classics
There are many online forums where people ask, “I’ve never read any science fiction but I want to try it out, what should I read first?” and get a stream of comments recommending classic works like Dune and Stranger in a Strange Land and Foundation. These are indeed important works that have been enjoyed by many, but they’re probably not the best ones to start with. It’s like telling someone who’s never read fantasy to begin with Lord of the Rings or Elric of Melniboné. Yes, these are important stories and forerunners of the genre but they’re not exactly accessible or easy reads for a newcomer. (The exception here would be Ender’s Game, as it’s very accessible and easy to read despite its “classic” status).
You’re better off tackling the classics later, after you’ve cut your teeth on a modern, accessible read and worked up a taste for more….
(6) THEY PEEKED. Spy pics show off Star Wars’ new cool aliens and vehicles in “Meet Your New Favorite Alien From Star Wars Episode VIII” at Birth. Movies. Death.
Star Wars Episode VIII has committed the cardinal sin of filming outside, which means people with cameras have had a chance to snap pictures of the set. Most of the pics that have turned up have been kinda dull, but a whole slew appeared recently that have me beyond excited.
— Mr.Wonderful (@mr1derful1) March 14, 2016
— Cosmic Book News (@cosmicbooknews) March 14, 2016
(7) DON’T DRINK AND TIME TRAVEL. That’s the lesson of this review of Version Control at Mashable.
Now comes Version Control, the trippy second novel by Dexter Palmer and the first pick for our new series — science fiction novel of the week. It’s easily one of the smartest, most unusual time-travel stories you’ll ever read — and one you don’t need a PhD. to understand, because it’s focused entirely on some very fascinating and flawed characters.
If time travel ever happened in the real world, it would probably look something like this: a bunch of obsessive scientists blandly insisting that what they’ve built is a serious-sounding “causality-violation device” (CVD), rather than a super-cliched “time machine.” And like many of our greatest technological advances, it would come with a whole bundle of unintended consequences
(8) KEN ADAM OBIT. Production designer Ken Adam, whose work included the war room in Dr. Strangelove and some of the sets in Dr. No, died March 10 reports the New York Times.
With “You Only Live Twice,” the fifth Bond film, Mr. Adam had more than half the total budget at his disposal. He spent $1 million of it building a volcano that contained a secret military base operated by the international terrorist organization Spectre.
“He was a brilliant visualizer of worlds we will never be able to visit ourselves,” Christopher Frayling, the author of two books on Mr. Adam, told the BBC in an article posted on Friday . “The war room under the Pentagon in ‘Dr. Strangelove,’ the interior of Fort Knox in ‘Goldfinger’ — all sorts of interiors which, as members of the public, we are never going to get to see, but he created an image of them that was more real than real itself.”
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
- March 14, 1968 — Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward, aired its last episode.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
- Born March 14, 1879 – Albert Einstein
Mental Floss has “10 Inventive Myths About Einstein Debunked”:
10. THE MYTH: HE WAS ONE OF ONLY 10 OR 12 WHO COULD UNDERSTAND THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY.
Tired of being questioned about this idea, Einstein told the Chicago Daily Tribune in May 1921, “It is absurd. Anyone who has had sufficient training in science can readily understand the theory. There is nothing amazing or mysterious about it. It is very simple to minds trained along that line, and there are many such in the United States.” Today, a number of experts have taken on the challenge of decoding the complex theory and succeeded.
- Born March 14, 1957 – Tad Williams
— Tad Williams (@tadwilliams) March 14, 2016
(11) THE SEMI-COMPLEAT RABID PUPPY. Vox Day reaches the finale of his slate: Rabid Puppies 2016: Best Novel.
The preliminary recommendations for the Best Novel category.
- Seveneves: A Novel, Neal Stephenson
- Golden Son, Pierce Brown
- Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwithering Realm, John C. Wright
- The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass, Jim Butcher
- Agent of the Imperium, Marc Miller
(12) FOR THE RECORD. In a comment on the above post, John C. Wright summarized his experience at Sasquan last year.
Instead of criticizing me for bring unenthused and indifferent to World Con, which was the case and would have been a legitimate criticism, the Morlock here invents the idea out of nothing that I expected a warm welcome from the hags and termagants who have been sedulously ruining science fiction for twenty years, and that I was foolish for having such foolish expectations. Actually, I was treated quite warmly by the people I met there, the fans and other professionals. It was only David Gerrold and Patrick Hayden who were rude.
(13) AXANAR SUIT AMENDED. Trek Today presents as a list of bullet points all the newly specified copyright infringements performed by Axanar.
The Hollywood Reporter headlined a particular one: “Paramount Claims Crowdfunded ‘Star Trek’ Film Infringes Copyright To Klingon Language”.
After the Star Trek rights-holders sued producers, led by Alec Peters, who put out a short film and solicited donations with the aim of making a studio-quality feature set in the year 2245 — before Captain James T. Kirk took command, when the war with the Klingon Empire almost tore the Federation apart — the defendants brought a dismissal motion that faulted Paramount and CBS with not providing enough specificity about which of the “thousands” of copyrights relating to Star Trek episodes and films are being infringed — and how.
Ask and ye shall receive.
On Friday, Paramount and CBS filed an amended complaint that responded in a few ways.
To the argument that because the crowdfunded film hasn’t actually been made yet, the lawsuit is “premature, unripe and would constitute an impermissible prior restraint on speech,” the plaintiffs point to defendant’s Facebook post that mentioned a “locked script.” They also note a press interview that Peters gave on Feb. 1 where he said, “We violate CBS copyright less than any other fan film,” as an admission he indeed is violating copyright.
Click to read the amended lawsuit in full.
(13) WESTERCON 70 PR. Dee Astell, Chair of Westercon 70 (a.k.a. ConAlope 2017/LepreCo43) announced the con’s Progress Report #0 and #1 are available for download.
- Progress Report #0 – http://westercon70.org/pr0.pdf (July 2015)
- Progress Report #1 – http://westercon70.org/pr1.pdf (February 2016).
- Plain HTML versions of all Progress Reports are also available on the con’s website here.
(14) LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER. Vanity Fair Hollywood says “Xena Reboot Series to Turn Implied Homoerotic Undertones into Glorious Homoerotic Overtones”.
NBC has ordered a new Xena pilot from writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach, architect behind the CW’s cult hit The 100, and he plans to be a little more forthcoming about the undeniable chemistry between Xena and Gabrielle with this updated iteration. During a Q&A session on Tumblr, Grillo-Marxuach confirmed that the two women would be lovers, no bones about it:
i am a very different person with a very different world view than my employer on the 100 – and my work on the 100 was to use my skills to bring that vision to life. xena will be a very different show made for very different reasons. there is no reason to bring back xena if it is not there for the purpose of fully exploring a relationship that could only be shown subtextually in first-run syndication in the 1990s. it will also express my view of the world – which is only further informed by what is happening right now – and is not too difficult to know what that is if you do some digging.
His passing reference to differing worldviews alludes to a minor kerfuffle among devotees of The 100 following the death of fan-favorite character Lexa, who was in a relationship with the also-female Clarke prior to her untimely demise. Fans cried foul and the choice to extinguish one of the small lights of hope for LGBTQ viewers on television, and Grillo-Marxuach has evidently heard their pleas loud and clear. This new series—the fate of which is still something of question mark, considering that NBC is still far from ordering it to series—will right past wrongs and placate the fans in one fell swoop. And best of all, it’ll provide young viewers with a hero with whom they can identify.
(15) DESPERATELY SEEKING MARVIN. Yahoo! News has the story: “Europe-Russia mission blasts off on hunt for life on Mars”.
One key goal of the Trace Gas Orbiter is to analyse methane, a gas which on Earth is created in large part by living microbes, and traces of which were observed by previous Mars missions.
“TGO will be like a big nose in space,” said Jorge Vago, ExoMars project scientist.
Methane, the ESA said, is normally destroyed by ultraviolet radiation within a few hundred years, which implied that in Mars’ case “it must still be produced today”.
TGO will analyse Mars’ methane in more detail than any previous mission, said ESA, in order to try to determine its likely origin.
(16) MARS ATTACKS GAME. Here’s a video demonstration of how to play Mars Attacks: The Dice Game by Steve Jackson Games. (If this really turns you on, there are four more videos about the game at the SJG site.)
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, Will R., Tom Galloway, Andrew Porter, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]