National Poetry Month

By John Hertz:  April is National Poetry Month in the United States.  Science fiction is often set in the future.  So here’s an Englishman of the 16th Century.

What if within the Moones faire shining spheare?
What if in euery other starre vnseene
Of other worldes he happily should heare?
He wonder would much more: yet such to some appeare.

This is from The Faerie Queene (proem to Book II, 3rd stanza); Paul J. Alpers in his anthology Edmund Spenser (1969, p. 21) preserves Spenser’s spelling and punctuation, so I have.  In 1590 happily, like many words then, was closer than now to its root meaning of “occurrence” or “chance”, which we still have in happen.

Wishing you the same.

Sufficing

By John Hertz: Here’s one I missed entirely.

I think it’s worth your attention.  It was certainly worth mine.

You now have an excuse given by me to rebuke my not staying in touch with Electronicland.

I knew Baen had started publishing Tim Powers.  I knew a new-assembled collection Down and Out in Purgatory had appeared in 2017.  I’d read the title novella happily – if that word may be used of a Tim Powers story – hmm – with pleasure – hmm – well, awestruckly, when it was published in 2016.

I knew the collection had some twenty tales going back to his first published short fiction from 1982 (which George Scithers, then editing Asimov’s, invited, but didn’t like, so Powers sold it to F & SF).  I saw a nice new copy in a bookshop but didn’t buy it.

Oh, fatal error.  Play in your mind your favorite “Shouldn’t have turned away” music.

I’ve just read it – two weeks after Hugo nominations closed.

At the end I found “Sufficient Unto the Day”, a new Powers short story from 2017.

Not only was it in the paper version – published November 2017; I had three months – it had appeared electronically in the Baen Free Library.

Alas, I can’t nominate it now.  I can’t urge you to.  We can’t vote for it either; it didn’t reach the ballot.  But neither did other things you or I or someone thought worthy.  So it goes.

While we’re all catching up reading so as to think or re-think about what did reach the ballot, I’ll try to tell you why I find this story so swell.  When I did that with another story it helped at least one person.

Powers’ writing is vivid, poetic, and neat.  That’s not the only way to deal with strange things or even the only mighty way. But it does make use of the suggestion The greater the reality, the better the fantasy.  Some of a Powers story seems so ordinary that it heightens the strangeness.

Also Powers is the opposite of Nothing is revealed.  A hundred thirty words into “Sufficient” the main-focus character is in her kitchen, and

At 4 PM on Thanksgiving afternoon she had put on an apron and tied her chestnut hair back in a ponytail and was preparing the accommodation water for certain of the expected guests.

She was preparing what??  All will appear (I’ve warned you about these puns).  I can’t say “Fear not” – this is a Tim Powers story – but it will.

Also once strangenesses arrive they operate quite matter-of-factly.

“So what does my brother say?” Nana asked Shortstack.  Uncle Scuttle had been mute since his death, never having got the trick of vibrating the water surface like a speaker diaphragm, and could only communicate by way of Shortstack’s automatic writing.

Some of his poetic quality is like that.  Only after you’ve imagined what he’s shown you do you notice what a good metaphor he made.

His stories are architectural.  There is a sense – I hesitate to say “plain”, but in a way it is – of a place for everything and everything in its place.  That place could be a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind – or indeed much worse.  You might not belong there, I might not belong there, but what we find there does.  The ribs and spans of the story hold.

“They’re not fishbowls tonight, and get out of here.  If you’ve got to upset your sister, see that you don’t do it in the dining room.”

This to a ten-year-old nephew will seven pages later have its result.

I happen to like the way he waves at outside reading as he goes by.

Her father had always liked Dylan Thomas’ poetry.  “You really think?” asked Biscuit.  Shortstack had paused in prying at a black blob on the muzzle of his revolver.

If you don’t, as with any ornament it’s not essential.

And he jokes.  There are jokes in Dante’s Divine Comedy, there are jokes in Shakespeare’s tragedies.  Powers doesn’t duck or belittle his own creations; their dilemmas are pressing, their horrors are shocking; but this can at the same time be comical.  He doesn’t duck that either.

There are endnotes from him at the end of each story in this collection.  At the end of “Sufficient” he says

This is as close as I’ll probably ever get to writing a James Thurber story like “The Night the Bed Fell”.

Powers fans, however, would not venture a prediction.

A Place, a World

By John Hertz:  Today is World Poetry Day.

I’ve called attention to Hâfez, Homer, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Li Po, and Wallace Stevens, not to mention Elizabeth Barrett Browning – oops, too late.

So here’s something by E. E. Cummings. I found it on a Poetry In Motion bookmark.

love is a place

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

Hoping you are the same.

Diversity again

By John Hertz: Where I live it’s the first day of spring. For Bruce Gillespie, the New Zealand for 2020 Worldcon bid, and like that, it’s fall. Diversity again. Easier said than done, but worthy of both.

I like to think science fiction has to do with diversity. John Campbell and Larry Niven, among others, have said our essential element is Minds as good as you but different. Easier said than done, but worthy of both.

The other day I saw a hundred folks had reported their Hugo nominations here (nice photo of Hugo trophies, thanks). Someone said “I am struck by how very * different * all our tastes are”. I didn’t happen to think so. The reports looked very similar to me. Another said “if [people are finding] mostly works by [X], it would indicate to me that either 1) the sources they are using … are extremely insular, or 2) they are – consciously or unconsciously – self-selecting for things written by [X].” Of course that’s neither complete nor conclusive. But it’s an important indicator.

It often seems “What’s incorrectly included?” shows up more easily than “What’s incorrectly omitted?” To see that something’s been left out you have to get the big picture. You have to be bigger than your immediate adventure. I once said that to Jon Singer, who is no dope; he said “How?”

Friends can help; in particular, diverse friends. If everyone I hang out with is just like me, who’ll point out what I’ve been missing? Of course it’s a strain. You find yourself thinking “How could you do such a thing?” This is a question better answered than brandished. If we only mean by it “Too strange, gotta go” we don’t learn anything.

One of the sandboxes I play in is Fanzineland. People have been pouring in new sand. It’s fascinating. Not so long ago fanzines were on paper – mostly; according to legend there’ve been slices of bologna, or worse – don’t ask me what I saw in Bruce Pelz’ refrigerator – but then came electronic media, and we had to think it out again.

All of us. Not just the folks upon whom new stuff poured, but the folks who poured in with it. Diversity can’t just be You have to accommodate me, but I don’t have to accommodate you.

Well then. Here are some fine fanzines, fanwriters, fanartists, of 2017, whose names leapt to my mind, conspicuously omitted by those hundred folks (and of course neither complete nor conclusive). Some of them can be found on-line, e.g. through Bill Burns’ eFanzines; that doesn’t matter much to me, it may to you. I couldn’t begin to guess which, if any, will appear on the Hugo ballot; that’s not why I’m writing. Let’s say that next time you get to How do I love thee? you count the ways. Or, not to top that, because I can’t, let’s consider Love your neighbors, for they are not like you. Or let’s just say I like to share my toys with friends.

Fanzines

  • Alexiad
  • Askance
  • Askew
  • Banana Wings
  • Beam
  • Chunga
  • Counterclock
  • Enter at Your Own Risk
  • Flag
  • Inca
  • Iota
  • Littlebrook
  • Lofgeornost
  • The MT Void
  • Nice Distinctions
  • Opuntia
  • Purrsonal Mewsings
  • Raucous Caucus
  • Trap Door
  • The White Notebooks
  • The Zine Dump

Fanwriters

  • Sandra Bond
  • William Breiding
  • Claire Brialey
  • Randy Byers
  • Graham Charnock
  • Pat Charnock
  • Leigh Edmonds
  • Lilian Edwards
  • Nic Farey
  • Janice Gelb
  • Steve Green
  • Rob Hansen
  • Andy Hooper
  • Kim Huett
  • Lucy Huntzinger
  • Jerry Kaufman
  • Steve Jeffery
  • Sue Jones
  • Christina Lake
  • Evelyn Leeper
  • Mark Leeper
  • Fred Lerner
  • Robert Lichtman
  • Rich Lynch
  • Joseph Major
  • Lisa Major
  • Mike Meara
  • Jacqueline Monahan
  • Murray Moore
  • Joseph Nicholas
  • Ulrika O’Brien
  • Roman Orszanski
  • Lloyd Penney
  • Mark Plummer
  • John Purcell
  • David Redd
  • Yvonne Rousseau
  • Yvonne Rowse
  • Darrell Schweitzer
  • Paul Skelton
  • Fred Smith
  • Ylva Spangberg (imagine a ring over the second “a”)
  • Dale Speirs
  • Garth Spencer
  • Milt Stevens
  • Suzanne Tompkins
  • Philip Turner
  • R-Laurraine Tutihasi
  • Pete Young

Fanartists

  • Harry Bell
  • Sheryl Birkhead
  • Ditmar
  • Kurt Erichsen
  • Brad Foster
  • Alexis Gilliland
  • Jeanne Gomoll
  • Teddy Harvia
  • Sue Mason
  • Ray Nelson
  • Ulrika O’Brien
  • Taral Wayne
  • Alan White

Humpty Dumpty tells Alice (Through the Looking-Glass, ch. 6) “You’re so exactly like other people…. two eyes, so – nose in the middle, mouth under. “It’s always the same.” Alice says any other way might not look nice. He answers – and these are his last words – “Wait till you’ve tried.” Of course it doesn’t occur to him that he falls under the same description himself.

The Way We Were

By John Hertz:  Still thinking, for a few hours yet, of this year’s Retrospective Hugo Awards i.e. for 1942, here are a few moments from fanzines then.

You are asked to contact, at your discretion, those readers who may, in your judgment, be brought into the ranks of active fandom.  Approach them in any manner you see fit, bearing in mind the fact that unless they possess some measure of real enthusiasm for fandom, their membership in the NFFF will be of no value either to themselves or to the organization.

Lou Goldstone, chairman of the Welcoming Committee
Bonfire v. 1 n. 5, p. 4

“Bonfire” derives from
“Bulletin of the National Fantasy Fan Federation”, which it was

We turned to Fandom, and to fan publishing, as an interesting and enjoyable hobby.  Instead of woodworking, or collecting postage stamps, wormeaten furniture, or used yachts, we decided to devote our spare time and money to fan activity.

Abby Lou & Al Ashley, En Garde 3 p. 1

A man went into a restaurant and ordered a dinner.  Included were some baked potatoes.  The man looked at the potatoes for a moment, and then proceeded to stuff them into his ears.  The waitress came along and politely inquired: “Sir, why are you stuffing those potatoes into your ears?”  The man replied, “Oh, are they potatoes?  I thought they were cabbages!”

Walt Liebscher, Mutant 2 p. 1

Inscription Found on a Martian Obelisk

I sing no futile obsequies;
Our world has lived, and loved, and died.
Risen in squalor, fallen in pride –
And in a hundred centuries
The weeds will over-arch this crumbled tomb.

Strangers may read the words I grave
And carry them to other stars.
Then let them drink a toast to Mars!
And may they stand with hearts as brave
As ours, to watch the coming of their doom.

Damon Knight, The Phantagraph 42 p. 4

We didn’t know then to put it this way, but for us fandom was the answer.

Like a Sinking Star

By John Hertz:  Speaking of this year’s Retrospective Hugo Awards i.e. for 1942, I realize I should call your attention to that strange masterwork of that strange master, the novelette “To Follow Knowledge” by Frank Belknap Long. We think of him, if at all, as a horror writer, which indeed he was.  He won a Bram Stoker for Lifetime Achievement in 1987.

Ten years earlier we put him in the First Fandom Hall of Fame – that’s how long he’d been with us as of three decades ago – pun intended – and in 1978 the World Fantasy Convention too gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award.

At his death in 1994 he was so impoverished his remains were interred in a potter’s field.  Some of us, including my friend Ben Indick, heard afterward, wouldn’t stand for it, and raised money for a re-interment, which was done in 1995.

The title “To Follow Knowledge” is from Tennyson’s 1842 poem Ulysses.  Right under it Long quotes lines 31-32, possibly our motto,

To follow knowledge, like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought,

to which the story lives up.

Haunting, extraordinary, full of strangeness, it closes Groff Conklin’s 1953 anthology Science Fiction Adventures in Dimension.  Conklin may still be our best anthologist.

You can, in fact, read it online.

Submitted for Your Consideration

By John Hertz:  Those words always remind me of Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone. Now in Electronicland it may be easier to find than when originally broadcast.

Rod Serling was an Antioch boy, as am I.  So was Rusty Hevelin who knew him there and dated Coretta Scott. I never knew any of them in college; they were far ahead of me.  Lots of folks are far ahead of me.

I submit for your consideration Scott Kelly and André Ceolin’s book My Journey to the Stars. I’m nominating it in the Hugos for Related Work.

This is the aimed-at-children version of Kelly’s near-year on the International Space Station (we have a Space Station!), illustrated with both photographs and Ceolin’s pictures.  Kelly’s aimed-at-adults version Endurance is good too, but Journey’s my nominee.

Scott Kelly and his identical-twin brother Mark joined the U.S. Nat’l Aeronautics & Space Adm’n in the same year, the only twins in NASA history.  One on Earth, one in Space, was part of this mission.

Telling a story is an art.  Telling a story to children is an art.  What do you put in?

At the end of last month – the very end, January 31st – while I was a third of the way through Endurance, I reported in Vanamonde 1286 (Van is only on paper, links added here):

Today is National Gorilla Suit Day (Don Martin Bounces Back, 1963).  I’ve just come to the passage in Scott Kelly’s Endurance (2017) where his twin brother Mark announces sending a gorilla suit to Scott at the International Space Station.

“Of course you need a gorilla suit,” Mark says (p. 219, in the large-print edition, which is what I could get).

Its launching rocket explodes, but – this is ahead of where I am in the book – another is sent, upon arrival captured with a robot arm (p. 498) by Kjell (pronounced “chell”) Lindgren, who also while at the Station 22 Jul – 11 Dec 15 was a long-distance Guest of Honor of Sasquan the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention, presenting the Hugo Award for Best Novel by video.

Indeed Scott gorillas up, as he puts it (p. 529), of which a video got onto the Internet 23 Feb 16.

Endurance doesn’t mention the Hugo (to which Our Gracious Host commented “the noive!”, presumably not to express an opinion about the NERVA), but since it does include the gorilla suit a case could be made that it shows a sense of proportion.  Neither book mentions Heinlein’s Time for the Stars.

Endurance has six hundred pages.  Journey has seventeen hundred words.

Endurance had the help of Margaret Lazarus Dean; Journey, Emily Easton.  Scott says he came home from the Station with 500,000 photographs.  Journey has forty, with a dozen photo credits beside his.

Scott calls Mark his perfect copy – on the 5th page of Journey (the pages aren’t numbered), under four photos of them at various ages dressed and acting – almost – identically.  By the fourth photo they’re both adults; they both have shaved heads; Mark has a mustache; their insignia – and faces – are different.

Some of the photos in Journey match Ceolin’s pictures.  On the 12th page is a photo of the twins with their Grandma, an inset to Ceolin’s picture on the 12th and 13th of the twins with Grandma and Pop Pop.  The twins are wearing almost the same shirts as in the photo.  You can see how Ceolin shows Grandma and how the photo does.

By the 16th page Mom has decided to become a police officer; the 17th shows Scott pretending to be hurt so she can practice dragging him to safety.  On the 19th they’re doing that in a photo.

Ceolin is very sparing in detail.  I was about to say “like cartoons” but some cartoons spare almost nothing.  What is realism?

Journey starts at the end.

It’s been 340 days since I set foot on Earth.  I’ve spent almost a full year living and working on the International Space Station (ISS).  It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I miss fresh air and the feel of rain on my face.  I miss hugging my daughters and my girlfriend, Amiko.

At last, it’s time to get into the spaceship that will take me home.

Before this text is a photo of Scott in NASA uniform between his two daughters.  Under the text is a photo of Scott in Navy uniform with Amiko.  Maybe you can tell whether they’re in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle, Cinderella Castle, Enchanted Storybook Castle, or Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant.

We see these photos because a spacesuited hand is holding them.  Why a suit?  He wears it, not on the Station, but to and from.  He’s on his way home.

In another story the King of Hearts tells the White Rabbit “Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” Almost nothing happens there that isn’t some kind of joke.  The author probably knew the Roman poet Horace said in praise of Homer “He snatches the reader into the midst of the action”; maybe also knew the Greek historian Polybius said  “The cause or purpose is the first origin of all, the beginning coming last.”

One-quarter of Journey has Scott on the Station.

The four-twins-photos page takes us to their childhood.  In one of the photos each boy is holding a fish; on the next page Ceolin shows them fishing.  The water runs under the photos, and behind the text, on the previous page.

Eighteen pages later they’re test pilots in the Navy.  After that, and joining NASA, they each fly into Space four times.

Scott’s long term on the Station is part of NASA planning for Mars.  That trip will call for longer in Space than human beings have ever been.  Scott tests his brain, blood, eyes, muscles, and bones.  Mark on Earth does the same tests.

Scott and his crew run four hundred experiments.  Some are on the crew.  Some are on mice.  Some are flowers and lettuce.  This is the first crew to eat fresh vegetables grown on the Station.

When he does finally get home he walks straight to his swimming pool and jumps in with all his clothes on.

I could have put in how he was a terrible student until he read The Right Stuff, how his parents fought but his Dad helped his Mom train for the police, and how Mark got hit by a car but when he came back from the hospital Scott thought Mark had the better deal.

I could have put in a love poem from Amiko to Scott which is in Endurance along with chocolate and horse milk.

In another story Polynesia the parrot asks Tommy Stubbins “Are you a good noticer?”  I think Journey, by design or instinct or both, an immensely – can’t measure it –  subtle book.  Its parts complement, correspond, connect.

Journey is amazing.  That’s its second-to-last word.

                             

P.S.  I have two more recommendations: Greg Benford’s novel The Berlin Project which I think extraordinary, and Larry Niven’s short story “By the Red Giant’s Light” (Nov-Dec Fantasy & Science Fiction)  which I think a masterwork.  Niven is a pointillist.  He paints dots of bright color and leaves us to see the whole.

U.S. Black History Month

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1289) Lena Horne (1917-2010) was in the Cotton Club chorus line at sixteen; she replaced Dinah Shore (1916-1994) as the featured vocalist on NBC Radio’s Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street — which was jazz, and a spoof – and had made Shore’s career – but after six months was hired away for a club on Sunset Strip.  She sang the title song in Stormy Weather (A. Stine dir. 1943) in a role invented for her.  Back in nightclubs she sang at the Sands(Las Vegas), the Cocoanut Grove (L.A.), the Waldorf Astoria (New York); her 1957 live Lena Horne at the Waldorf-Astoria was RCA Victor’s best-selling record by a woman artist up to that time (LOC 1028; now e.g. Hallmark B00DI4HSPK 2013); see its fine review in W. Friedwald, The Great Jazz & Pop Vocal Albums pp. 184-89 (2017).  During World War II she wouldn’t sing for segregated audiences, famously leaving a stage for the row where the black troops were.  She was in the 1963 March on Washington. Tom Lehrer put her in “National Brotherhood Week” (1965) – which, incidentally, it is, just now.  In 1980 she said she was retiring, then mounted a one-woman show The Lady and Her Music that ran three hundred performances on Broadway, toured the United States and Canada, played a month in London, and ended in Stockholm.  She won four Grammys (two for The Lady and Her Music, one for Lifetime Achievement), a Tony, and the Spingarn Medal. She was on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show; she was Glinda in The Wiz (S. Lumet dir. 1978) – in case you were waiting to hear what particular interest all this had for us.  She is on the 2018 U.S. Postal Service Black  Heritage stamp. In fact she never was retiring.

Pixel Scroll 2/21/18 I Picked The Wrong Week To Quit Scrollin’ Pixels

(1) THE SOURCE. Paste Magazine tells readers “If You Love Black Panther, You Have to Read Nnedi Okorafor’s Books”.

…Okorafor, who’s about to wrap up a run on Marvel’s Black Panther: Long Live the King comic series, boasts an enthralling catalogue of novels steeped in afrofuturism. So if you’re looking for more stories featuring kickass women and inventive tech on the African continent, Okorafor has you covered.

Here are Paste’s top five picks to get you started:

Black Panther: Long Live the King

The obvious first title on this list is Marvel’s six-issue Long Live the King series, in which Okorafor wrote issues one, two and five. With art by André Lima Araújo and colors by Chris O’Halloran, Okorafor’s vision for Wakanda delivers a captivating narrative that breathes new life into the Black Panther canon.

Okorafor also wrote issue six, a one-shot story about Ngozi illustrated by Tana Ford, due out on February 28th. You might recognize Ngozi—an original Okorafor creation—from her first appearance in Venomverse: War Stories. And if the character is new to you, you’ll love the Nigerian woman who bonded with the Venom symbiote and became a hero….

(2) OKORAFOR FREE READ. Slate agrees that the work of Nnedi Okorafor is the place to start, and has timely released “Mother of Invention”, “a new short story by the author of Marvel’s Black Panther: Long Live The King.”

(3) DOUBLE UP. Yes, one reason Black Panther had a record weekend is because patrons failed to get away with stunts like this! “Two kids dressed as a tall man to get into “Black Panther” were caught on video”. Rare has the story:

Two kids decided they wanted to go to the new Marvel superhero film “Black Panther,” but they didn’t want to pay for two movie tickets, so they tried to dupe the movie theater’s manager.

The duo went to the theater disguised as one “tall man” under a trench coat, but unsurprisingly, their plan didn’t work. However, despite their unsuccessful attempt to save on movie tickets, they have gone viral on Twitter thanks to their hilarious antics.

 

(4) ANTIHARASSMENT DONOR. The Independent reports “Emma Watson donates £1m to help fund for sexual harassment victims”.

The donation from the Harry Potter star to the UK Justice and Equality Fund comes as nearly 200 female British and Irish stars signed an open letter calling for an end to sexual harassment in the workplace.

Watson is one of the first donors to the fund, which was set up by the 190 women who signed the open letter, along with a group of 160 academics, activists and charity workers.

Emma Thompson, Carey Mulligan, Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Chan, Keira Knightley and Watson are among the actors to sign the letter, which was published in The Observer.

(5) THE CULTURE MEETS THE VAST WASTELAND. Engadget reports “Amazon’s answer to ‘Altered Carbon’ is Iain M. Banks’ space opera”.

…Amazon Studios will adapt the first novel, Consider Phlebas, for television.

Dennis Kelly will adapt the sci-fi drama for Plan B Entertainment (World War Z). The Iain Banks’s estate will serve as an executive producer for the series. “Iain Banks has long been a hero of mine, and his innate warmth, humor and humanism shines through these novels,” said Kelly, who previously adapted Matilda for the stage. “Far from being the dystopian nightmares that we are used to, Banks creates a kind of flawed paradise, a society truly worth fighting for — rather than a warning from the future, his books are a beckoning.”

(6) DIAL M. Upon hearing the news about Banks’ novel, Damien G. Walter immediately warned all in hearing that the sky is falling — “5 things that can go HORRIBLY wrong adapting The Culture”.

I don’t consider myself a true fan of many things, but I am an unapologetic Iain (M) Banks fanboy.

Which is an easy thing to be. Banks is a brilliant, brilliant writer. A storyteller in the class of Neil Gaiman, with the muscular prose abilities of J G Ballard, and the conceptual imagination of an Asimov or Le Guin. I read his Culture books in my teens, his literary novels in my twenties, and re-read nearly all of them in my thirties. Just this year I’ve been working my way through Peter Kenny’s spot on audio adaptations.

So, like all true fans, I’m a little worried by news of a tv adaptation. Banks was fairly outspoken about his decision not to allow movie or tv adaptations of the Culture novels. I totally respect any decision his estate makes on this, and nobody doubts Amazon have the cash to make it happen? But do they have the skill, creativity and imagination?

How many ways could a Culture tv adaptation go wrong? Let us count the ways….

(7) WHAT ADA PALMER AND JOHN HERTZ HAVE IN COMMON. Patrick McGuire writes: “I just received my Winter issue of the alumni University of Chicago Magazine. Bundled with it was The Core, a semiannual supplement magazine devoted to the College. (U.C. is primarily a graduate institution, so the undergraduate school is decidedly the tail, not the dog.) The Winter 2018 Core has a profile of sf writer and history professor Ada Palmer. It is fairly insightful and informative, even if it does refer to Sassafras as a ‘folk band.’ The current issue of The Core is, at least as I write, not at the URL where it is supposed to be per the print issue, but after considerable poking around I found the Palmer article here — ‘Renaissance-woman’. The profile does discuss her sf novels and it has photographs of Ada and others in costume. She also gets the magazine cover.”

“Curiously, the mother-ship University of Chicago Magazine for Winter itself has a letter from prominent fan John Hertz. John primarily discusses non-sfnal topics, but does include a plug for Benford’s The Berlin Project.

(8) BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS. New York bookstore The Strand would be delighted to sell you a copy of every single one: “Best Selling Author of Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer, Shares His Top 50 Books”.

(9) BEST EDITOR HUGO RECOMMENDATIONS. Lee Harris doesn’t want British sff editors overlooked, and assembled a get-acquainted thread. Jump aboard here —

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 21, 1966  — Raquel Welch in a Stone Age bikini starred in One Million Years B.C. which premiered theatrically on this date.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY DROID

  • Born February 21, 1946 — Anthony Daniels, who plays C3PO.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian found a Yoda joke that really works in Half Full.
  • On the other hand, John is right to call this stfnal pun a real groaner – The Argyle Sweater.

(13) WHAT’S THAT HE SAID? At age 54, a Doctor Who reviver finally gets to play Macbeth: “Christopher Eccleston: Northern accent ‘held me back'”.

The actor star says there is a perception in the industry that “people like me can’t be classical”.

Eccleston was born into a working class family on a council estate in Salford in Lancashire in 1964.

He will appear as Macbeth in a new production at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford Upon Avon, but he had to ask for the role.

Unfortunately, Billie Piper is not playing Lady Macbeth.

(14) SECOND BREAKFAST. Did you ever do a movie marathon drinking game? Well, this is an eating game for the LotR trilogy – whatever food is eaten on screen, they cook and eat too!

(15) TANK GIRL TO RETURN. Titan Comics will bring the Tank Girl franchise back to life in 2018.

It’s been 30 years since the dynamic partnership of Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett (Gorillaz) unleashed Tank Girl upon the world! To celebrate Tank Girl’s 30th Anniversary, Titan Comics is launching the ‘Year of Tank Girl’ in 2018 – a year-long celebration with new comics, graphic novels and special events, including a global Tank Girl Day event on Saturday, October 20.

Originally published in 1988 as a black and white comic strip in UK magazine Deadline, Tank Girl has gone on to become a cult icon in the 30 years since her first appearance, with numerous comics and graphic novels, and even her own feature film in 1995, which boasted an all-star cast including Lori Petty, Naomi Watts, Malcolm McDowell, Ice-T, and Iggy Pop, and directed by Doctor Who’s Rachel Talalay.

As Tank Girl prepares to celebrate 30 riotous years in 2018, Titan Comics is proud to announce its ‘Year of Tank Girl’ campaign.

Celebrations kick off in April 2018 with Tank Girl: Full Color Classics 1988-1989 – the first of six prestige editions presenting those original seminal strips from Deadline in glorious color, just as Hewlett and Martin envisaged them three decades ago. Colored by Tracy Bailey (Fighting American) and Sofie Dodgson (Tank Girl: Bad Wind Rising), this is a new take on the classic strips. Plus, it includes rare and unseen artwork, as well as photos from the early days of the Martin and Hewlett partnership.

(16) #!&@! MY DAD SAYS. Bradford Betz, in a Fox News story “William Shatner Shames Texas Dem From Using His Photo in Campaign Newsletter”, says that Shat told Brandy Chambers, running for the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat, to stop using a photo she took at a Comic-Con with him because it seemed like he endorsed her, which he hasn’t.

The image circulated until it reached Shatner on Saturday. The 86-year-old actor tweeted at Chambers that her use of the convention photo misleadingly suggests an “endorsement” on his part. He then told her to “remove my photo” and “destroy all copies of whatever this is immediately.”

(17) BOXING DAY. According to ULTRAGOTHA, “Spurius Ennius Nasica is Rocky Balboa put through a Roman name generator.” The connection between Rocky and Rome is this discovery — “Rare Roman boxing gloves uncovered near Hadrian’s Wall in ‘astonishing’ find”.

Roman boxing gloves believed to be the only surviving example from the period have gone on display after being discovered near Hadrian’s Wall.

The gloves were found last summer during an excavation at Vindolanda, near Hexham in Northumberland.

Other items were unearthed in the dig, including swords, horse gear and writing tablets.

The gloves – which date from around 120 AD – are made of leather and have the appearance of a protective guard. They are designed to fit snugly over the knuckles, protecting them from impact.

(18) QUANTUM LEAP LEFTOVERS. Io9 investigates the tantalizing question “Did a Fan Just Find Proof of Quantum Leap’s Secret Lost Ending?” 

…The series finale of Quantum Leap was bleak (to put it mildly), with the final title card confirming that Scott Bakula’s character, Sam Beckett, remained lost in time. However, one video claims a long-rumored alternate ending was actually real, one which would’ve made it possible for Sam to make that final leap home.

YouTuber Allison Pregler has released a video sharing what she says are negatives for an alternate ending to the fifth season of Quantum Leap. How did she get her hands on such a historical item? Pregler bought a bunch of Quantum Leap negatives on eBay.

“When I was looking at the film strips to try and guess what episodes or scenes they were, it took me a second to really grasp what I had. I thought it really looked like that alternate ending I’d read before, but no one knew it was filmed so I couldn’t believe it,” Pregler told io9. “I’m still having trouble believing it.”…

(19) LOST AGAIN. Netflix reboot of Lost in Space premieres April 13.

The Robinson family, part of a highly trained mission to establish a new colony in space, is unexpectedly pulled off course forcing them to crash land on a lost planet.

 

(20) REPEL BUYERS! Tabletop Tribe is not kidding — “The Worst Board Game Box Art Ever”. Man, are these awful! Just look at #19 —

  1. Guildhall (2012?—?Alderac Entertainment Group)

“Meet the wife. I luv ‘er more than any pig, and that’s sayin’ summat.”

Indeed sir. For a pig farmer you appear to be punching way above your weight.

It’s not that the characters are badly rendered (although it does appear that it’s simply photo overpainting at work here), or the inconsistent lighting and flat boring background. It’s just a bizarre motley collection and a piglet with a nose four sizes too big.

[Thanks to Joel Zakem, JJ, Mix Mat, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, ULTRAGOTHA, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mark Hepworth, Patrick McGuire, Hampus Eckerman, Michael J. Walsh, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bruce Diamond.]

And Chinese New Year Too

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1288)

So, jacarandas,
Empurpling above, below,
Your season begins.

It’s LASFS (L.A. S-F Society) custom to raise a little money by auctioning the privilege of naming the previous meeting’s minutes.  For the minutes noting the loss of Ursula Le Guin, I won the auction, and named them “Ged” (A Wizard of Earthsea ch. 1, 1968).

The northeast corner of 4th & Hill Sts. down town is vacant. A subway station below put a concrete wall a few rods (1 rod is about 5 m) east.  One afternoon I found a dozen drummers drumming, seated by the wall with hand-drums, of many a shape and size; one flautist in the back whom if I tried hard I could hear.  I should have counted them, so I could tell you more exactly twelve, or maybe eleven, as you may have sung early last month.  I’d call the rhythms Latin; I’m a little acquainted with Nigerian drum, which I didn’t hear, nor the beats-of-unequal-length rhythms of Southeast Europe I do know.  I saw no hat to drop money in (for which purpose the “hat” could be a basket, or a pillbox, or a suitcase, or a bathtub, or a schooner), nor any higher or lower motive.  I pushed and shoved a quarter-hour from my day to stand and listen.

César Ritz (1850-1918) died a hundred years ago this October 24th.  Born the youngest of thirteen children to a poor Swiss family, and told The hotel business takes a special knack, a special flair, and you haven’t got it, he nevertheless rose to establish the Ritz hotels in Paris (1898) and London (1906) – both associated with Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935); M. Ritz, the king of hoteliers and the hotelier to kings – as Escoffier was roi des cuisiniers et cuisinier des rois and before him Marie-Antonin Carême (1784-1833) – is said to have first formulated The customer is always right, and to have invented the king-size bed.  He is the eponym of the song ”Puttin’ on the Ritz” (I. Berlin, 1929) and its movie (E. Sloman dir. 1930); also the Ritz-Carlton hotels; possibly Ritz Crackers, invented 1934 and today advertised with “You’ve got the stuff to make life rich”.

In Paris, George of the Ritz was Georges Scheuer, who tended bar and thus much else there forty years; in London, it was George Criticos, forty years the hall porter and even more the factotum – Criticos! could he have been – yes; he was a Cretan, Georgios Fafoutakis, who left a memoir, George of the Ritz, as told to Richard Viner (1959), which I’ve just read, and commend to you.  Why?  Because Cross-cultural contact is homework for science fiction.

Worth what some folks say –
“Each to their own” for themselves,
“I can’t stand your taste”
Resounding in their deeds –
Daring what seems good to us.

                                            

Chinese New Year was February 16th; the season runs through March 2nd.
Pillbox, suitcase, “The Whale” made popular by Burl Ives