Pixel Scroll 3/3/19 My File Went So Pix’ly, I Went Lickety-Split, Scrollin’ My Old ‘55

(1) NAME THAT ROCK. In the Washington Post, Sarah Kaplan profiles the “byzantine and marvelously nerdy naming guidelines” of the International Astronomical Union (“The bizarre and brilliant rules for naming new stuff in space”). Among them:  the mountains and plains of Titan have to be named according to references in Dune or Lord of the Rings, Names for asteroids have relatively few rules, but one of them is not to name an asteroid after your cat, as James Gibson found out when he named an asteroid after his cat, Mr. Spock, and was told that while his asteroid remains “2309 Mr. Spock,” he really shouldn’t do it twice.

[Names for the moons of Jupter] must come from a character in Greek or Roman mythology who was either a descendant or lover of the god known as Zeus (in Greek) or Jupiter (Latin). It must be 16 characters or fewer, preferably one word. It can’t be offensive, too commercial, or closely tied to any political, military or religious activities of the past 100 years. It can’t belong to a living person and can’t be too similar to the name of any existing moons or asteroids. If the moon in question is prograde (it circles in the same direction as its planet rotates) the name must end in an “a.” If it is retrograde (circling in the opposite direction), the name must end in an “e.”

(2) TEMPORARILY CUTE. Sooner or later they’re going to need a new naming convention for these things (Popular Science: “FarFarOut dethrones FarOut for farthest object in the solar system”).

Most people don’t kill time by finding the most distant object ever discovered in the solar system, but most people aren’t Scott Sheppard.

Last week, the Carnegie Institution for Science astronomer announced he had just discovered an object that sits about 140 astronomical units away. One AU equals the 93 million miles between Earth and the sun, so that means this object is 140 times the distance of Earth from the sun, or 3.5 times farther away than Pluto.

This is just a mere couple months after he and his team discovered 2018 VG18, nicknamed “Farout,” which sits 120 AU away, and for a brief moment was the farthest known object in the solar system. Sheppard and his team have already given a pretty apt tongue-in-cheek nickname to the usurper: “FarFarOut.”

(3) SAN DIEGO 2049 SPEAKER SERIES. Annalee Newitz, author of Autonomous and co-founder, io9, will give a talk “San Diego 2049: Your Dystopia Has Been Canceled” on April 4 at UCSD. Free and open to the public; RSVP required.

Realistic worldbuilding requires that we get out of the dystopia/utopia binary and imagine futures that are a diverse mix of worlds. To imagine a plausible future world, we need to look critically at our own history, where progress is uneven and resistance is not futile. Annalee Newitz, journalist, co-founder of the website io9, and author of the acclaimed science fiction novel Autonomous joins us to share her insights into worldbuilding as part of the San Diego 2049 series of programs.

(4) SALAM AWARD JUDGES. The 2019 jury for the Salam Award will be Jeffrey Ford, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Maha Khan Phillips, John Joseph Adams, and Saba Sulaiman. The award promotes imaginative fiction in Pakistan. (Via Locus Online.)

Last year’s winner was Akbar Shahzad for his story Influence

(5) HUGO PICKS. Abigail Nussbaum comments on 20 stories that either made her ballot, or came close, in “The 2019 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Short Fiction Categories” at Asking the Wrong Question.

From what I’ve seen–and the effects of the last decade in the genre short fiction scene have been to render it even more diffuse than it already was, so I really can’t say that I’ve had a comprehensive view–2018 was a strong year for SF short fiction, with venues including Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and Uncanny delivering strong slates of stories.  I was interested to observe how easy it is to discern an editorial voice, and a preoccupation with certain topics, when reading through a magazine’s yearly output.  Uncanny, for example, had a strong focus on disabled protagonists in 2018, with stories that often turn on their struggles to achieve necessary accommodation, with which they can participate and contribute to society.

One topic that I expected to see a great deal more of in my reading was climate change.  Only a few of the pieces I’ve highlighted here turn on this increasingly important topic, and very few stories I read dealt with it even obliquely.  Given how much climate change has been in the public conversation recently (and not a moment too soon) it’s possible that next year’s award nominees will deal with it more strongly, but I was a bit disappointed not to see SF writers and editors placing an emphasis on it already.

(6) WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY A GAME? This Kickstarter will fund a table top game, “Necronomicon by Abdul Alhazred with Cthulhu pawns & Idol”.

The Necronomicon is undoubtedly the most emblematic book in the mythology of H.P. Lovecraft. In this game you will assume the role of Abdul Alhazred with the aim of completing all sections of the aberrant book. It is a game for 2 to 4 players with game modes for 20 or 60 minutes.

(7) PLAYING IN THE FIELDS OF D.C. John Kelly in the Washington Post went on the press tour for Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, a Ubisoft video game in which Washington, wiped out by a pandemic, has turned the National Air and Space Museum into an armory and the Lincoln Memorial into a graffiti-covered headquarters for paramilitary groups. (“A new video game invites players to wallow in a dystopian Washington”.)  But Ubisoft couldn’t use the World War II Memorial for copyright reasons and decided not to have shooters blast away at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial because “the gamemakers thought it would be disrespectful to have players shooting at each other around the statue of the famous pacifist.”

The game is set in the months after a deadly pandemic has swept the country and transformed the area around the Tidal Basin into a flooded wasteland, the National Air and Space Museum into a heavily guarded armory and the Lincoln Memorial into the smoke-blackened, kudzu-shrouded headquarters of a paramilitary group.

On the plus side, rush hour traffic is pretty light.

The challenge facing anyone designing a video game set in an actual place is making it realistic. The purpose of this junket — events were spread over two days, with a shuttle bus squiring the group from site to site — was to explain that process.

(8) COSPLAY IN CLEVELAND. The Cleveland Plain Dealer) highlighted cosplay in an article about an upcoming convention: “Wizard World shines light on cosplay and the art of transforming (photos)”.

Four years ago, Stephanie Lauren looked into a painting and had an epiphany… “I could do this.”

No, she wasn’t imagining herself as a painter. She already was one, and the painting she was looking at was hers – a colorful portrait of a cute, furry kitty cat.

Rather, she started to imagine herself as one of her works come to life – a character, an expression of childhood and innocence. A new reality, purely of her own making. 

Stitch by stitch, using cloth and Ethylene-vinyl acetate foam and beads, a cosplay character was born…. 

(9) WYNDHAM MEMORIAL. Triffid Alley is a website intended to become a memorial to the author John Wyndham, author of Day of the Triffids, who died in 1969.

It takes its name from Triffid Alley in Hampstead, London, which is the only known existing memorial to John Wyndham in the United Kingdom.

The website reports there will be a 50th Anniversary Commemoration of Wyndham’s death in London on March 11.

It will consist of a talk by David Ketterer and Ken Smith on Wyndham and the Penn Club where he lived from 1924 to 1943 and from 1946 to 1963 followed by drinks and food at a pub on the nearby Store Street, a street which figures on page 98 of the Penguin edition of The Day of the Triffids.

David Ketterer has more or less completed a full scale critical biography entitled TROUBLE WITH TRIFFIDS: THE LIFE AND FICTION OF JOHN WYNDHAM…

Anyone who is interested is invited to gather outside the Penn Club at 21-23 Bedford Place, London W.C.1 (near the British Museum) at 6.00 pm on Monday, 11 March 2019.  We shall move to seating in the Penn Club lounge around 6.15 pm for the talk and questions.  Around 7.00 pm we shall walk to The College Arms at 18 Store Street (near Senate House).

(10) HUGH LAMB OBIT. British anthologist Hugh Lamb, editor of many paperback collections of vintage horror, died March 2. His son, Richard, tells more in a “Tribute to My Father”.

On the night of 2nd March 2019, Hugh Lamb passed away. He died peacefully, in his sleep, after a long illness that had left him frail and weak. At the end he chose to move on, rather than suffer long months of treatment with no guarantees. We, his family, chose to honour his wishes and were with him at the end.

Hugh Lamb was, to many, one of the country’s foremost authorities on Victorian supernatural literature and a respected anthologist of those stories. To me, however, he was just dad. Certainly, I inherited a great love of ghost stories, as well as the cinema of the macabre, from my father. We would recommend movies to each other and enjoy critiquing them. As a child I used to thrill at tales of the supernatural, both real and fictional, all because of my father’s influence. When I wrote a series of screenplays, two of which were optioned by producers, they were all either ghost stories or stories with a supernatural flavour. And when one of my screenplays won the 2008 Rocliffe/BAFTA New Writers award, it was my father who positively glowed with pride. The screenplay was a father and son story, and he recognised himself in the pages with a mischievous delight.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 3, 1863 Arthur Machen. His novella “The Great God Pan” published in 1890 has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror, with Stephen King describing it as “Maybe the best horror story in the English language.” His The Three Impostors; or, The Transmutations 1895 novel is considered a precursor to Lovecraft and was reprinted in paperback by Ballantine Books in the Seventies. (Died 1947.)
  • Born March 3, 1920 James Doohan. Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on Trek of course. His first genre appearance was in Outer Limits as Police Lt. Branch followed by being a SDI Agent at Gas Station in The Satan Bug film before getting the Trek gig. He filmed a Man from U.N.C.L.E.film, One of Our Spies Is Missing, in which in played Phillip Bainbridge, during 5he first season of Trek.  Doohan did nothing of genre nature post-Trek. (Died 2005.)
  • Born March 3, 1945 George Miller, 74. Best known for his Mad Max franchise, The Road WarriorMad Max 2Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome andFury Road.  He also directed The Nightmare at 20,000 Feet segment of the Twilight Zone film, The Witches of Eastwick, Babe and 40,000 Years of Dreaming
  • Born March 3, 1948 Max Collins, 71. Best known for writing the Dick Tracy comic strip from 1977 to 1993 giving The it a SF flavor. He also did a lot of writing in various media series such as Dark Angel, The Mummy, Waterworld, The War of The Worlds and Batman.  
  • Born March 3, 1955 Gregory Feeley, 64. Reviewer and essayist who Clute says of that “Sometimes adversarial, unfailingly intelligent, they represent a cold-eyed view of a genre he loves by a critic immersed in its material.” Writer of two SF novels, The Oxygen Barons and Arabian Wine, plus the Kentauros essay and novella.
  • Born March 3, 1970 John Carter Cash, 49. He is the only child of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. To date, he’s written two fantasies, Lupus Rex which oddly enough despite the title concerns a murder of crows selecting their new leader, and a children’s book, The Cat in the Rhinestone Suit, which I think Seuss would be grin at. 
  • Born March 3, 1982 Jessica Biel, 37. A number of interesting genre films including The Texas Chainsaw MassacreBlade: Trinity, StealthThe Illusionist, the remake of Total Recall which I confess I’ve not seen, and the animated Spark: A Space Tail.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Rich Horton, quite rightly, calls this a “very Eganesque” Dilbert.

(13) VARIANT COVERS. Brian Hibbs in his Tilting at Windmills column for Comics Beat “Heroes in (Sales) Crisis” says variant covers are helping to break the market:

Again, the new Marvel catalog leads with a mini-series called “War of the Realms” that has seventeen different covers attached to it. For one single issue worth of release. Even if you try to “ignore variants” they take up catalog and “eye” space, they increase the amount of time it takes to order (let alone find) the comics you want to stock; they also consume distributor resources, ultimately increasing overages, shortages and damages, hurting everyone as a result.

The January 2019 order form features 1106 solicited periodical comic books. Of those, only 454 of those SKUs are new items – the other 652 are variant covers. That means a staggering fifty-nine percent of all solicited comics are actually variants. That’s completely and entirely absurd! It is deluded, it is dangerous, and it actively works against the best interests of the market.

(14) RUH-ROH! The former last man on Earth is among those getting animated (The Hollywood Reporter: “Will Forte, Gina Rodriguez and Tracy Morgan to Star in Animated Scooby-Doo Movie (Exclusive)“).

Last Man on Earth star Will Forte voicing Shaggy, Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez [Velma], Tracy Morgan [Captain Caveman] and Frank Welker [Scooby-Doo] are going for a ride in the Mystery Machine.

The actors have closed deals to voice star in the untitled Scooby-Doo animated movie being made by Warner Bros. and its Warner Animation Group division.

Tony Cervone is directing the feature, which counts Chris Columbus, Charles Roven and Allison Abbate [as] producers.

[…] The story sees the Mystery Inc. gang join forces with other heroes of the Hanna-Barbera universe to save the world from Dick Dastardly and his evil plans…and this time, we are told, the threat is real. The movie is slated for a May 2020 release.

(15) WHERE NO WOMAN HAS GONE BEFORE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Sure, some Star Trek projects—going back to Next Gen—have been directed by a woman; but none have taken the helm for the first episode in a series. And certainly no woman of color has been the leadoff batter. Until now. Deadline has the story—”‘Star Trek’: Hanelle Culpepper Will Direct Picard Pilot, First Woman To Launch Starfleet Series“.

Star Trek is boldly going on a new mission where only men have gone before. Hanelle Culpepper will direct the first two episodes of the upcoming untitled Star Trek Jean-Luc Picard series, making her the first woman to direct a pilot or debut episode of a Starfleet series in the franchise’s 53-year history. All 13 feature films in the Trek universe have also been directed by men.

Culpepper has directed two episodes of Star Trek Discovery on CBS All-Access. She helmed the episode titled Vaulting Ambition in Season One as well as an upcoming episode in Season Two, now underway on the subscription streaming site.

Culpepper’s other genre credits include various episodes of CounterpartSupergirlThe CrossingThe FlashLuciferGothamGrimm, and Sleepy Hollow.

(16) THE LOST CAUSE. Yudhanjaya Wijeratne’s post “’Incidentally, there is support for Wijeratne’s story’: a response to file770 and a record of the Nebula Award madness” has attracted notice and comments from people who assume after his experience he should to be ready to lend a sympathetic ear to their propaganda justifying past awards slates.

There’s a comment signed Francis T., which judging from the Gravatar is the Francis Turner who in 2006 tried to convince people not only to vote Baen the Best Editor (Long Form) Hugo the following year but to visualize “A Baen Sweep of the Hugos”.

Also, Sad Puppies 3 leader Brad Torgersen left a lengthy comment touting himself as the hero of an ahistorical version of 2015’s events.

On Torgersen’s own blog he’s worked hard to couch the immediate controversy in cleverly Orwellian terms: “When the Inner and Outer Parties of SFWA attack”.

…Try as they will to style themselves international, the Inner and Outer Party members of American literary SF/F are hopelessly provincial, sharing a painful overlap in ideology, as well as a kind of homogeneous, mushy globalist-liberal outlook. Which, being “woke”, puts a premium on demographics over individualism. Fetishizing ethnicities and sexualities. While remaining borderline-militant about a single-track monorchrome political platform.

So, certain Inner and Outer Party folks proceeded to step all over their own unmentionables in an effort to “call out” the “slate” of the indie Proles from the dirty ghettos of indie publishing. And now the Inner and Outer Parties are in damage control mode (yet again!) trying to re-write events, submerge evidence, gaslight the actual victims of the literary pogrom, blame all evils on Emmanuel Goldstein (cough, Sad Puppies, cough) and crown themselves the Good People once more. Who would never, of course, do anything pernicious, because how could they? They are Good! They tell themselves they are Good all the time! They go out of their way to virtue-signal this Goodness on social media! It cannot be possible that they have done anything wrong!

Rabid Puppies packmaster Vox Day not only reprinted Torgersen’s post at Vox Popoli (“Puppies redux: Nebula edition” [Internet Archive link]), he appropriated to himself others’ credit for indie authors being in SFWA:  

It was funny to read this in my inbox, as it was the first time I’ve had any reason to give a thought to SFWA in a long, long time. Possibly the most amusing thing about this latest SFWA kerfluffle is that it is a direct consequence of SFWA adopting my original campaign proposal to admit independent authors to the membership. Sad Puppy leader Brad Torgersen observes, with no little irony, the 2019 version of Sad Puppies…

(17) DIAL 451. The New Indian Express’ Gautam Chintamani uses a famous Bradbury novel as the starting point to comment on news coverage of the recent Pakistan-India incident in “White Noise”.

Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 as a commentary on how mass media reduces interest in reading literature but considering the times we live in, it is doing more than that. Following the February 14 Jaish-e-Mohammed fidayeen attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama that left 44 Indian soldiers dead, most television news channels bayed for blood. There is no denying that the national emotions were running high and it was only natural for citizens of a nation that have been at the receiving end of a proxy war conducted by a neighbour that as a national policy believes in causing loss of life in India to ask for a befitting reply. Yet the fashion in which many news anchors assumed the mantle of judge, jury, and executioner was nothing less than appalling. The constant white noise emanating from most news debates, where everyone was urged to shout louder than the next person, offers a greater emotional bounty to the one who would teach Pakistan a lesson and this showed a committed effort from media to not allow the average citizen a moment to think. 

(18) GAHAN WILSON FUNDRAISER. A GoFundMe to “Help Gahan Wilson find his way” wants to raise $100,000 for the artist’s care. Neil Gaiman gave $1,000. Other donors include artist Charles Vess, editor Ellen Dtalow, and Andrew Porter.

Gahan Wilson is suffering from Dementia

Gahan is suffering from severe dementia. We have helped him through the stages of the disease and he is currently not doing very well.

His wife, Nancy Winters, just passed away

My mother, and his wife of fifty three years, Nancy Winters, passed away on March 2, 2019. She was his rock. His guide through the world. While we all helped with his care, it was my mother who grounded him. He is currently distraught and out of sorts with the world.

Memory care is needed immediately

Gahan and my mother had been residing in an assisted living facility in Arizona. With my mother’s passing, the facility is about to discharge him. We must find him a memory care facility immediately.

… Memory care is wildly expensive. More so than assisted living. If we could cover the cost ourselves, we would. We can’t, and Gahan and my mother did not save for anything like this. We are asking his fans to help us, help Gahan.

(19) CANADA SIGNS ON. Another international partner lends NASA a hand, well, a robotic arm, anyway: “Gateway Moon station: Canada joins Nasa space project”.

Canada will contribute US$1.4bn to a proposed Nasa space station that will orbit the Moon and act as a base to land astronauts on its surface.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the step would “push the boundaries of innovation”.

The space station, called Gateway, is a key element in Nasa’s plan to return to the Moon with humans in the 2020s.

As part of the 24-year commitment, Canada will build a next-generation robotic arm for the new lunar outpost.

“Canada is going to the Moon,” Mr Trudeau told a news conference at Canadian Space Agency’s headquarters near Montreal, according to AFP.

Nasa plans to build the small space station in lunar orbit by 2026. Astronauts will journey back and forth between Gateway and the lunar surface. It will also act as a habitat for conducting science experiments.

(20) SURE OBI-WAN, POINT-OF-VIEW BLAH BLAH BLAH. Gizmodo/io9 says that, “From a Certain Angle, It Looks Like the Dark Phoenix Trailer Takes a Subtle Jab at the Marvel Cinematic Universe.” Um, how is it, again, that you change your viewing angle for a non 3-D movie trailer? Oh, I see what you mean…

new Dark Phoenix trailer dropped in the dead of night this week and gave us another look at how Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey will transform into her darkest, most cosmically-empowered self on the big screen for the second time in the character’s cinematic history. But a fan also spotted something peculiar…

[…] At one point in the trailer, all of the film’s mutants (save for Jean) are being transported by armed officers on what appears to be an armored tank. Wired UK writer Matt Kamen spotted three very familiar letters on their uniforms. If you look closely they read “MCU” which, as Kamen pointed out, could stand for “mutant containment unit.” But it could also be a clever nod to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Disney’s recent acquisition of 20th Century Fox and the cinematic rights to the X-Men.

(21)  JAVA. Mashable’s post “Pierce Brosnan drinking a latte of his own face is extremely good” identifies him with James Bond, but he also has the lead in The King’s Daughter, based on Vonda McIntyre’s The Moon and the Sun, which is still awaiting its U.S. release (IMDB says sometime in 2019).

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Motion Makes a Masochist” on Vimeo, Dev warns that if you want to be a motion designer for movies, you should be prepared to suffer a lot for your art.

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

AbeBooks Top SFF Sales in 2017 To Date

Every quarter collectibles bookseller AbeBooks posts its top 10 high ticket sales. While there wasn’t a notable genre sale in the first three months of the year, John Wyndham and Aldous Huxley have been making the cash registers ring since then.

The top 10 sales for April-June included:

  1. Chocky by John Wyndham – $11,443

A science fiction story about an alien, first published as a novella in 1963 in Amazing Stories. This copy was a scarce 1968 signed first edition of the book format published by Michael Joseph, and in near fine condition. The BBC adapted Wyndham’s story for radio in 1967. Chocky was Wyndham’s last published story during his lifetime – he died in March 1969. British author Wyndham is best known for his novels, The Day of the Triffids and The Chrysalids.

  1. = Letters from Aldous Huxley to Goddard Lieberson – $7,500

An exchange of letters between Huxley and Lieberson, president of Columbia Records from 1956 to 1971. Thirteen of the letters are either typed or autograph letters, signed, from Huxley, and the last two are autograph letters from Huxley’s second wife, Laura. Sixteen carbon copies of Lieberson’s typed letters to Huxley are also included. The letters span a significant portion of the end of Huxley’s life, from 1952 to 1963. Lieberson initially wrote to Huxley asking if he would like to be part of a series of recordings of authors reading their work, which already included Truman Capote. Huxley invited Lieberson to his house, in order to listen to some previous recordings, and the two became friends.

  1. = Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – $7,500

A first edition, first printing of Huxley’s most famous book in its dustjacket, published in 1932. Huxley’s New World was set in London in 2540 and predicts a variety of technologies concerning reproduction, learning, psychology, and conditioning. The author does not offer a positive view of the future.

And “AbeBooks’ Most Expensive Sales of July, August & September 2017” featured these sff works:

  1. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham – $13,844

A 1951 UK first edition of this classic science fiction novel featuring killer plants wreaking havoc, published by Michael Joseph and in near fine condition complete with its dust jacket. Inscribed by Wyndham. The book belonged to Jim Burch was a science fiction fan and co-organizer of the 1951 Science Fiction Convention in London.

Note: An article about the London convention and a photo of Burch can be found at Rob Hansen’s website.

  1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – $8,800

The 1969 edition illustrated by Salvador Dali. Limited to 2500 copies, this is # 2,386. Twelve surreal illustrations with original woodcuts and an original etching by Dali. Copies of this prized book regularly appear on this list. We recommend Princeton’s 2015 reprint if you don’t have thousands to spare.

Illustration by Salvador Dali in 1969 edition of Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

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.]

Another Day, Another Triffid

John WyndhamThere’s a highly-readable article on the BBC News site about movie-makers’ fascination with worlds doomed by science run amok:

A new BBC adaptation is being made of The Day of the Triffids, but why are we still prepared to believe in a post-apocalyptic world roamed by flesh-eating semi-sentient plants? And do we have a love affair with fictionalised destruction?

Andy Sawyer, librarian at the Science Fiction Foundation Collection at the University of Liverpool, is quoted. That sparked my curiosity – I corresponded with George Hay a little in the early days of the SFF. These days the SF Foundation‘s good works include their support of an sf research website. Its home page currently features Triffids author John Wyndham.