(1) POETRY DESTROYED. A sampling of Stoic Cynic’s satirical genius.
A fragmented excerpt from The Filer and the Astronaut by Louise Carol:
‘The time has come,’ the Filer said,
‘To talk of many things:
Of pups — and picks — and palimpsests —
Of Cadigan — and King —
And why this movie, cult is not —
And whether trolls believe.’
‘But scroll a bit,’ the Pixels cried,
‘Before you have your chat;
For some of us are full of links,
Oh do not rush so fast!’
‘No hurry!’ said the Astronaut.
They thanked him much for that.
‘A post of fifth,’ the Filer said
‘Is what we chiefly need:
Filking and Punnery besides
Are very good indeed —
Now, if you’re ready, Pixels dear,
We can begin to read.’
‘Pixels,’ said the Astronaut,
‘You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be posting here again?’
But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d scrolled up every one.
(2) GHOSTBUSTERS REVIEW. Rachael Acks get the first word about “[Movie] Ghostbusters (2016)”. BEWARE SPOILERS.
Ghostbusters (2016) comes to us in a world saturated with sequels and remakes and reboots that no one wanted, needed, or asked for—and finally, we get a reboot we actually deserve.
I have a lot of love in my heart for 1984’s original Ghostbusters, which came out in theaters when I was way too young to see it. I remember my parents showing me the movie when I was a bit older, and recall that I thought the first ghost in the library was absolutely fucking terrifying, and that Egon was my favorite ghostbuster. I have a moderate little wad of affection for the at-times cringe-worthy sequel, Ghostbusters 2. I got up extra early on Saturday mornings for years so I could watch The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series. I owned action figures. My Ghostbusters love is not a matter for debate.
Two years ago, for the thirtieth anniversary of the movie, I got to watch Ghostbusters (1984) properly in a movie theater. It was still funny, and fun, and I still loved it to pieces. But it broke my heart a little when adult me noticed the incredibly creepy sexism of Venkman that child me skated around and just thought was at worst an endearing quirk.
And now today, I rode my bike over to a movie theater so I could eat some overpriced popcorn and watch a new Ghostbusters that made it all better.
(3) BEST OF 2016. Patrick St. Denis of Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist names the five best speculative fiction novels he read in the first half of 2016. Number one on the list —
- Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay (Canada, USA, Europe) Here’s the blurb:
The bestselling author of the groundbreaking novels Under Heaven and River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay is back with a new novel, Children of Earth and Sky, set in a world inspired by the conflicts and dramas of Renaissance Europe. Against this tumultuous backdrop the lives of men and women unfold on the borderlands—where empires and faiths collide….
(4) CLASSIC SF OR COMFORT FICTION? James Wallace Harris finds there are many answers to the question “Who Still Reads 1950s Science Fiction?”
When I was growing up, the Golden Age of Science Fiction was considered 1938-1946, mostly due to the editorship of Astounding Science Fiction by John W. Campbell. Certainly many of the classic science fiction short stories I read in the early 1960s were reprints from that era. Then Peter Graham said, “The Golden Age of science fiction is 12.” That felt so right that no other age has ever usurped it. The science fiction that imprinted on me at age 12 is the atomic clock by which I’ve measured all science fiction since.
My favorite SF novel in 2015 was Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson. I admire it for great intellectual speculation. But, it’s no match emotionally for my favorite generation ship story, Orphans of the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein. Orphans first appeared in book form in 1963, reprinting two novellas from 1941, “Universe” and “Common Sense” that were originally published in Astounding Science Fiction. I turned 12 in 1963. Aurora is a much more ambitious and sophisticated novel than Orphans in the Sky. Aurora had more to say about science and science fiction, but it’s the Heinlein story that resonates with my heart.
(5) 2016 CURT SIODMAK AWARDS. Voting has opened for the Curt Siodmak Preis, given for the best movie and TV program shown in the German language during the previous year. Fans will have until August 4 to cast an online vote.
The award is administered by Science Fiction Club Deutschland. The winners will be announced at MediaKon One over the August 12-14 weekend. [Via Europa SF.]
(6) BEYOND STAR TREK BEYOND. AV Club brings word that Kirk’s dad played by Chris Hemsworth will appear in the next Star Trek film to enter production.
Apparently figuring that it’s never too soon to start stoking the fires for a franchise’s next installment—even if the previous film hasn’t actually, y’know, come out—Star Trek reboot mastermind J.J. Abrams has announced that Chris Hemsworth will be returning to the franchise for the follow-up to Star Trek Beyond. For those of you with hazy memories of Star Trek (2009), Hemsworth briefly appeared in the movie as George Kirk, father of James, who lasted just long enough to pass on his “Handsome Chris” genetics to his son (Chris Pine) before Eric Bana could blow him to bits….
(7) THIRD PARTY. Speaking of bringing back the dead, what about Kirk’s running mate for President…?
(8) POTTERMORE TRAFFIC SPIKE. Word that J.K. Rowling had written a new Sorting Quiz helped her Pottermore site blow up one day in June.
J.K. Rowling now writes algorithms, too.
When the author released new details in June about America’s wizarding school – including a quiz in which fans could be sorted into one of the school’s houses — millions of Muggles flocked to her website, Pottermore.com.
This was the second sorting quiz Pottermore has offered since its beta launch in 2011. The first one sorted fans into one of four houses at Hogwarts.
“Of course, both quizzes are written by Jo,” Pottermore CEO Susan Jurevics said in an interview. “So it’s content that came directly from her. And she’s also been involved in the behind-the-scenes algorithm of it.”
….The quiz sent Potterheads into a frenzy. Traffic spiked on June 28, with 1.4 million visitors that day and 1.5 million the following day, according to data firm SimilarWeb. Some 9.2 million visitors came to the site over the 28 days ending July 11.
(9) BOOKS SPIKE, TOO. The Wall Street Journal’s Jennifer Maloney calls it “The Second Coming of Harry Potter”
“Cursed Child” has hovered between No. 1 and No. 2 on Amazon.com since it was announced in February. It’s Amazon’s top preorder this year in print and e-book, an Amazon spokeswoman said. Scholastic is printing 4.5 million copies of the play in the U.S. and Canada. While that’s far lower than the 12 million advance U.S. print run for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in 2007, it’s considered a massive launch for a book, let alone a play. Last year’s top-selling book, Harper Lee’s “Go Set A Watchman,” has sold 3.3 million hardcovers in the U.S. and Canada, according to HarperCollins. A typical first print run for a new play by a prominent playwright is around 5,000.
Also news is that Rowling now has script control over anything developed from her books, which she didn’t have in the Harry Potter movies.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
- July 16, 1969 — Apollo 11, the first moon-landing mission, was launched from the Kennedy Space Center, carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- July 16, 1928 – Robert Sheckley
(12) REJECTION SLIP. Arlan Andrews, Sr. reports that Analog rejected “Fight”, the latest episode of his “Rist” series. Episode #2, “Flow,” was on both the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies slates for the 2015 Hugos. Greg Hullender opines, “Since Analog published the previous three episodes (‘Thaw,’ ‘Flow,’ and ‘Fall’) I’m a bit surprised that they rejected ‘Fight.’”
(13) PRO TIP. The way you get to be President of SFWA is by forcing yourself to exercise an even wilder imagination by constantly raising the bar on what you do in real life. It’s a theory, anyway.
(14) KEEP LOOKING. The Traveler at Galactic Journey found a “saving grace” in the August 1961 issue of Analog – but it’s not Mack Reynolds’ story.
For instance, almost half the issue is taken up by Mack Reynold’s novella, Status Quo. It’s another of his future cold-war pieces, most of which have been pretty good. This one, about a revolutionary group of “weirds,” who plan to topple an increasingly conformist American government by destroying all of our computerized records, isn’t. It’s too preachy to entertain; its protagonist, an FBI agent, is too unintelligent to enjoy (even if his dullness is intentional); the tale is too long for its pay-off. Two stars.
That said, there are some interesting ideas in there. The speculation that we will soon become over-reliant on social titles rather than individual merit, while Campbellian in its libertarian sentiment, is plausible. There is already an “old boy’s club” and it matters what degrees you have and from which school you got them. It doesn’t take much to imagine a future where the meritocracy is dead and nepotism rules.
And, while it’s hard to imagine a paperless society, should we ever get to the point where the majority of our records only exist within the core memories of a few computers, a few revolutionaries hacking away at our central repositories of knowledge could have quite an impact, indeed!
(15) BIG BUSINESS. The BBC found someone is “Rescuing America’s Roadside Giants”.
Anyone making a road trip across America will sooner or later run across a giant statue – a cowboy, an American Indian chief or a lumberjack, perhaps. Many, now half a century old, are falling apart, but one man and his friends are tracking them down and bringing them back to life.
,,, The founding father was James V Lafferty, who built a six-storey elephant on a strip of undeveloped coastal land just south of Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1881.
Lucy the Elephant was intended to attract property buyers and visitors and still stands as a tourist attraction today, having survived Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In 1882, Lafferty filed a patent on giant buildings “of the form of any other animal than an elephant, as that of a fish, fowl, etc.”, which he claimed was his invention.
(16) USE THE CHARGE CARD LUKE. “Mark Hamill says Episode VIII lines will make fans ‘forget all about May the Force be with you’”. Does he means the lines in the script, or the lines to buy the toys?
He compared the avalanche of merchandise to the endless marching brooms from Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. “The toys just start coming to your house. Bum-bah-bump, bah-bump…,” he sang. “Every day, more toys.”
Hamill said one of the earliest words his kids said was “Kenner!”
“I gave all those toys to the kids, and they grew up later and said, ‘Oh my God, Princess Leia in the box is $1,400 in mint condition! Why’d you let us give her a Sinead O’Connor haircut with cuticle scissors?’ I said, ‘They were your toys!’”
(17) LINEUP. BBC Radio Four’s consumer program You and Yours featured Star Wars Celebration Europe. Specifically, as part of the problems with selling tickets to pop events.
Today a new campaign group called Fan Fair Alliance is launched by big players in the music industry to tackle the problem of ticket touts. The manager of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and PJ Harvey tells You & Yours what the promoters and musicians are trying to do to stop so many tickets ending up on resale websites.
Sci-fi fans going to a Star Wars Convention this weekend are worried they’ve only bought a ticket which gives them the right to queue for a ticket to see the main events.
(18) YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN MACII. I enjoyed this.
(19) POKÉMON GO STILL GOING. Washington Post editors must be letting all of their writers fill their quotas with stories about the newly released game.
The Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic Philip Kennicott spent a week wandering art museums trying to catch Pokémon.
I successfully bag my first creature, a Charmander, while walking the dog. Charmanders emit no detectable odor, so my dog is bored out of his mind as I jerk him around the neighborhood. The Charmander’s bad luck is my good fortune, advancing me to the point that some hipster professor figure who runs the game insists that I create a screen name. I choose Karl Kraus, because I’ve always admired the great Austrian satirist and social critic who died in 1936; but someone has already picked that name. Next, I try Susan Sontag, the American essayist and author, but that name is also taken. Is every pretentious twit on the planet playing this game?
Post humorist Alexandra Petri is excited by Pokémon Go because “I love any excuse to bump into things while walking around staring at my phone, and Pokemon really delivers there.”
She’s decided —
People are praising Pokemon Go as a rare activity that gets you to talk to strangers and go outdoors. Well, we used to have a hobby like that. It was called smoking. I’m thinking about taking that up instead. It might get my mind off Pokemon Go.
(20) ANIMAL MAGNETISM. Lisa Goldstein reviews another Hugo nominee — Novella: “The Builders” – at inferior4+1.
This is such a weird story, you guys. A captain brings together his old companions for one final battle, an attack on the usurpers who took over the town. But in this version of the story everyone is a small animal: mouse, stoat, opossum, salamander, and so on….
(21) CHUCK TINGLE. Hugo nominee Chuck Tingle continues to entertain at a frantic pace. He released a work taking advantage of the Pokemon Go craze, with a predictable title. Earlier in the month he posted this silly warning —
(22) OOPS, TOO LATE. A Monster Calls comes to theaters in October.
A visually spectacular drama from acclaimed director Juan Antonio Bayona (“The Impossible”), based on the award-winning children’s fantasy novel. 12-year-old Conor (Lewis MacDougall) attempts to deal with his mother’s (Felicity Jones) illness and the bullying of his classmates by escaping into a fantastical world of monsters and fairy tales that explore courage, loss, and faith.
[Thanks to James Bacon, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Greg Hullender, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cath.]