(1) #BACKTOHOGWARTS. Warner Bros. kicked off the weekend with a behind-the-scenes featurette for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
(2) FIRST DAY OF FALL. Bill Capossere’ gives the new release a favorable review, “The Fall of Gondolin: A welcome addition to Christopher Tolkien’s close looks at his father’s work”. He also explains to Fantasy Literature readers:
As with Beren and Lúthien, with regard to the stories themselves (as opposed to the analysis), there is little “new” here; the various versions can be found in others of Christopher’s HISTORY OF MIDDLE-EARTH books. What the stand-alone offers that those books do not is a single-minded focus on one story, allowing us to trace the tale’s evolution more fully and in more detail. I’ve personally found that singular focus to be well worth the purchase price despite owning the versions in other books. Also, I should note that both the publisher and Christopher are (and have been) quite upfront and transparent about this. There’s been no attempt to present these as “new” texts.
And about one part, The Last Version, he says –
Unfortunately, cruelly even, Tolkien abandoned this version, what Christopher calls “this essential and (one may say) definitive form and treatment of the legend,” just after Tuor passes the last gate. I’m with Christopher when he confesses that for him it “is perhaps the most grievous of his many abandonments.”
(3) TANSY RAYNER ROBERTS REVIEWED. At Fantasy-Faction, Richard Marpole praises the novella “Cabaret of Monsters by Tansy Rayner Roberts”.
Rayner Roberts’ writing style is lively and conversational, she doesn’t shy away from grown-up words or a bit of satire here and there either. Evie’s attempts to get away with wearing trousers in a city still mired in traditional gender roles adds a pleasant dash of feminist commentary to proceedings. (Though, among the Creature Court and the bohemian set at least, alternative sexualities and genders seem to be well represented and completely accepted in Aufleur, which is always nice to see.) There are plenty of pretty descriptions and well-turned phrases here, but they don’t slow down the pace.
(4) HERE’S MY NUMBER AND A DIME. NASA is waiting for a call. Engadget has the story: “Mars Opportunity rover will have 45 days to phone home”.
As a planet-wide dust storm enveloped Mars, many were concerned about the fate of the Opportunity rover. After all, Opportunity is dependent on solar panels; the opacity of the dust storm meant that she wasn’t getting enough light to stay powered. The team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory last heard from Opportunity on June 10th. Now, the storm is lifting, and once its opacity reaches a tau level of 1.5, the little rover will have 45 days to respond to the team’s signals. Otherwise, NASA will stop actively listening for the rover.
The tau measures the amount of dust and particulate in the Martian atmosphere. The team hopes that, once the skies have cleared enough and the rover has recharged its batteries, Opportunity will be able to hear and respond to the signals that Earth is sending its way. If 45 days have passed without a response, the team will cease its active efforts to recover the rover. “If we do not hear back after 45 days, the team will be forced to conclude that the Sun-blocking dust and the Martian cold have conspired to cause some type of fault from which the rover will more than likely not recover,” said John Callas, Opportunity’s project manager, in a statement.
However, that does not mean they will abandon all hope, as the article goes on to explain.
(5) MORE WORLDCON 76. Stephanie Alford’s report includes some good panel notes.
While WorldCon76 was my second worldcon, it was my best con ever! Big backpack stuffed with con survival gear (food, books, journals, pens, etc.), bowler hat squarely on my head, I wandered the convention center with a big smile on my face.
(6) PIXLEY AT WORLDCON. Joy Pixley explains the con’s distinctive features in “Back from Worldcon!”
Worldcon is much more oriented toward books than other large fan cons like Comic Con, that have huge movie trailer premieres and feature famous celebrities. I mean, Worldcon does have celebrities, it’s just that we readers and writers think of authors as being big celebrities, not actors. So it doesn’t have quite the glitz or the production value of commercial cons, but then, the guests of honor actually walk around the convention center and go to talks and sit down for drinks, just like everyone else. To me, that makes it feel so much more inclusive and approachable.
(7) SEVERIN OBIT. Marie Severin, who was a pioneering woman in comics, mostly for Marvel, died August 29. The Washington Post’s Matt Schudel marked her passing: “Marie Severin, versatile Hall of Fame comic-book illustrator, dies at 89”.
Ms. Severin spent more than 50 years as an illustrator, handling all three of the major visual tasks in comic-book production: penciling, inking and coloring. She worked closely with Marvel’s editor in chief Stan Lee for decades and in 2001 was named to the Will Eisner Comics Hall of Fame.
In the 1970s, Ms. Severin was a co-creator of Jessica Drew — better known as the superhero Spider-Woman — and designed the character’s skintight red-and-yellow costume.
“Marie Severin did it all — penciler, inker, colorist, character creator,” historian and publisher Craig Yoe, the former creative director of Jim Henson’s Muppets, wrote in an email. He called her “one of the last of comics’ greatest generation.”
(8) ZADAN OBIT. He brought musicals to live TV, some of them genre: “Craig Zadan, 69, Dies; Produced Musicals for Stage, Screen and TV”.
Craig Zadan, an ebullient showman who helped engineer a revival of Broadway musicals on television with live NBC broadcasts of “The Sound of Music,” “Peter Pan,” “Hairspray” and “The Wiz,” died on [August 21st] at his home Los Angeles. He was 69….
The success of “Gypsy,” broadcast in 1993, led to ABC, where [he] produced “Annie” (1997), with Kathy Bates and Alan Cumming, and “Cinderella” (1999), with Brandy Norwood in the title role and Whitney Houston as the fairy godmother….
(9) HEATH OBIT. Russ Heath (1926-2018), a long-running comic artist, although less known in genre, who drew for Hero Initiative (fund that helps comic book artists in need), died August 23. The New York Times obit is here: “Russ Heath, Whose Comics Caught Lichtenstein’s Eye, Dies at 91”.
Heath seemed to feel his comics had done more than just catch the renowned pop artist’s eye.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born August 31, 1890. E.E. “Doc” Smith. Writer, the Lensman and Skylark Universe series, each of which has a lot less novels in them then I thought they did, but which have influenced a number of later genre works including the Babylon 5 series. I admit I’ve not read them, so are they worth reading?
- Born August 31 – Steve Perry, 71. Apparently there’s quite a living to be made in writing genre fiction that’s based in universes created by someone else as he’s written novels in the Predator, Aliens, Aliens versus Predators, Conan, Indiana Jones, Men in Black and Star Wars franchises. Not to mention both books based on both work by Leonard Nimoy snd Tom Clancy. And Isaac Asimov. not sending a lot of originality here.
- Born August 31 – G. Willow Wilson, 36. Writer of such work as Air, Cairo, Ms.Marvel and Alif the Unseen. She won the World Fantasy Award for the latter and a Hugo Award went also to Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- In the Bleachers gives us a gaming crossover.
- Tom the Dancing Bug insists he was only joking about the solution to a mystery.
(12) RETURNING THIS FALL A Superheroes Fight Back Trailer from the CW to let everyone know their new season starts October 9.
(13) EPISODE IX CASTING. ScienceFiction.com learned “‘Star Wars Episode IX’ May Be Looking For Another Female Lead!”
A character breakdown for the upcoming ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ has been released, and it teases a new female character who could be joining the cast soon! It was previously reported that the film was on the hunt for two new female leads, one being a 40-50 year old female to play a character being called “Mara”, and the other being an African-American actress, age 18-26, to portray a character by the name of Caro.
That Hashtag Show reported that the film is now looking for another actress age 27-35, for a character being called “KARINA.” The character breakdown describes the supporting role as:
“A younger Charlize Theron with street smarts and a sharp wit… a good sense of humor, solid comedic timing and a strong voice.”
(14) THE CONTINENTAL. If people still put destination stickers on their luggage, John Scalzi’s bags would be accumulating a new batch next year.
For everyone else in Europe, in 2019 I will be in London, Budapest, Northern Spain and Dublin. I'll be ALL OVER your continent!
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) August 31, 2018
(15) QUICK SIPS. Charles Payseur gives Tor.com’s short fiction a whirl in “Quick Sips – Tor dot com August 2018”.
Two short stories and a novelette round out the SFF originals from Tor this month, with a definite focus on science fiction, on futures of humanity interacting with the universe and, perhaps more importantly, with the Earth. Whether that means dealing with the touch of climate disaster and change, or working to move beyond the bounds of our terrestrial home through uploading and flight, or gaining a new and non-human presence to co-inhabit the planet with, the pieces look at how humans see the Earth, and how that perspective shifts as the gaze becomes less incorporated in a human body. It’s a month full of strangeness and longing, risks and looming dangers, and it makes for a fascinating bunch of stories. To the reviews!
(16) MARVEL SHOWS HEART. Several stars of Marvel films have sent short videos — as themselves — to a teenager who has terminal brain cancer. Josh is a particular fan of Deadpool, causing actor Ryan Reynolds to lead the charge. He’s also recruited Tom Holland (Spider-Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Pratt (Star-Lord), and Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) to make videos of their own. You can see all five at “Marvel stars line up crossover to send powerful vibes to teen with terminal cancer” on SYFY Wire.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Tink by Mr. Kaplan on Vimeo is a short film about an animated Rube Goldberg machine.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]