Martin Morse Wooster: Washington’s Shakespeare Theatre
has two stages to fill and produces about six plays a year on their own, so
they’re happy to stage worthwhile travelling productions from Great
Britain. Last year, they were the home
for An Inspector Calls, a play by
J.B. Priestley that has been running in London for around 20 years but was
making its first American tour.
December, the Shakespeare Theatre hosted a travelling production of The Woman in Black by Stephen
Mallatratt, based on a novel by Susan Hill. This play has been performed in London since
June 1989, and is the second longest running show in the West End (behind The Mousetrap). The American production was in Pasadena in
November and will be in New York in January, performed in a pub with beer and
pub snacks available.
There’s a reason why The Woman in Black is so popular.
It’s a highly effective and entertaining play that I was glad made its
way to Washington.
play had its origins in the late 1980s.
Robin Herford was running a small theater in a small town in England,
and had 5,000 pounds in grant money he wanted to use by the end of the year. Herford wanted a holiday production that
wasn’t A Christmas Carol or a
pantomime, and asked Stephen Mallatratt, the theatre’s resident playwright, to
come up with something that had a ghost in it and could be performed by no more
than four actors, which was the limit of the theater’s budget. Mallatratt proposed adapting The Woman inBlack, and beat the budget limitations by boiling down four
characters to two.
surprised us was that this play actually scared people,” Herford said in an
interview with the Washington Post, “Long-running
play ‘The Woman in Black’ comes to the Shakespeare Theatre Company”, “We
had thought people would like it much as they enjoy Halloween, without really
believing it. I didn’t expect people to
take a ghost story seriously, because it’s notoriously difficult to scare
people in a theater. We weren’t looking
to do that; it just sort of happened.”
story tells about Mr. Kipps, who shows up at a theater with a play based on his
experiences. The other character, who is
called “The Actor,” flips through the manuscript and says it will take five
hours to perform—longer than King Lear.
So he tells Kipps they’ll read through the manuscript; he’ll play Kipps, and
Kipps can take over all the other parts.
He shows Kipps a basket and explains how the basket can be used to stand
in for all sorts of things.
begins by bumbling and stumbling and we get several good acting jokes. Then about 15 minutes into the production we
leave our world and enter Kipps’s story.
story is that Kipps, sometime in the past, is a lawyer who is probating a will
of an old woman who lives on a huge mansion on an island that’s so remote that
it can only be reached by a causeway that floods at high tide. Kipps spends several nights on this remote
island, and learns that the island is haunted.
But who is the ghost, and what does the ghost want?
The Woman in Black
is theatre of the mind, which is very easy to do badly. This fall I saw a production by the
Washington Stage Guild of an adaptation of Charles Dickens’s Hard Times, in which we were promised
four actors would play dozens of parts.
They indeed did this but the production droned. It was an audiobook, and not a good one.
The Woman in Black
uses all the tools theatre has, including excellent use of sound. I couldn’t find a sound credit, but Kevin
Sleep did the lighting, and he was very good.
the production I saw, Daniel Easton played The Actor and Robert Goodale played
Kipps. Both were fine in their parts.
final note. If you are a novelist who is
thinking of having her books turned into audiobooks, you need to see this show.
In particular, pay close attention to the scenes involving Spider, a dog who
serves as Kipps’s companion and who doesn’t exist. The scenes with Spider were the tensest of
the evening. If you see this, think
about why the scenes with Spider were so exciting—and you might come up with
ways to make your readers more involved in the story you’re telling.
The Woman in Black is highly entertaining and I heartily recommend it.
The Woman in Black has also been the
basis for two films, most recently a 2012 production starring Daniel Radcliffe.
By Martin Morse Wooster: Perhaps the most
interesting play I saw in 2018 was a revision of Macbeth done in 1664 by Sir William Davenant, which was performed
at the Folger Theatre. Davenant wrote
his revisions after theaters had been closed for 20 years, and the audiences of
the 1660s wanted something different than when Shakespeare wrote 60 years
before. They liked songs more than
Shakespeare’s audience, so the witches had three arias, with the Folger Consort
as musical accompaniment. Davenant also
used his blue quill to change words he didn’t like, so the witches became
“unhappy sisters” instead of “weird sisters” and when Macbeth says “out, out
brief candle,” Davenant had him say “out, out, short candle.”
Peter Pan and Wendy
is a revision of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan
by Lauren Gunderson. Gunderson is
credited as adapting Barrie’s play, but a better credit would be that Peter Pan and Wendy is a play by Lauren
Gunderson based on characters created by J.M. Barrie. Peter Pan and Wendy is to Peter
Pan as the Star Trek: Kelvin
universe is to Star Trek; the male characters are mostly Barrie’s, the female
characters are Gunderson’s, and nearly everything that happens in Neverland is
radically different than what Barrie had in mind.
Lauren Gunderson (whose website is here) is credited by American Theatre as being the most
produced playwright in America in 2018.
She’s 37 but has already written about 15 plays, as well as at least one
kids’ book about science. Her plays are
noted for having strong women characters and having something about science, so
the audience gets fun facts along with good theater. The only play of hers I’ve seen is Emilie, about an 18th-century
aristocrat who makes important discoveries in physics. Friends of mine saw her play The Book of Will, about the creation of
Shakespeare’s First Folio, and thought they learned things about how the book
And because Gunderson was sitting four rows in front of me
in the dress rehearsal I attended, she told me that, even though she writes
about women and science, she doesn’t consider herself an sf writer.
Much of what Barrie wrote in Peter Pan remains in Peter
Pan and Wendy. Peter Pan is a blond
guy who wears the traditional green outfit.
Lots of members of the cast fly around the stage in harnesses.
There’s still a giant crocodile with a
clock inside who likes eating people.
There is still a dog on stage; Bailey, in fact, was the understudy for
the dog that appeared in Finding Neverland. Most surprisingly, Gunderson figured out a
way to get the audience to clap for Tinkerbell, although the reasons why they are clapping are quite
Where Gunderson differs from Barrie is in how the women in the
play are depicted. We begin in the
Darling’s bedroom, where Wendy and her brothers are getting ready for bed. Then they see a light. But Wendy decides she will report the new
star to the Royal Astronomical Society.
Then she discusses her love for Marie Curie, who won the Nobel Prize a
year before Barrie’s play was first produced.
Then there is a magnifying glass Wendy uses, which will play a key role
in the second act.
So we’re off to Neverland!
And yes, the Lost Boys are there, and Captain Hook, and Smee. But then we have Tiger Lily, whose role is
now problematic. Changing her role
changed the backstory of how Neverland came to be.
“The most important part of this project was rewriting
Tiger Lily to counteract the colonialism, racism and harmful stereotype of the
original,” Gunderson writes in an essay in the program. “I’m deeply grateful to the indigenous
consultants that helped me begin to understand the Native American
perspective.” She adds that her
characters become “activists ready to work together to make the world—even the
dream world of Neverland—a better place for all.”
This might lead people to think that Peter Pan and Wendy offers the audience an unwanted dose of
double-strength vinegar, so that it would only appeal to the small number of families
who think a fun day with the kids is a hearty discussion about the evils of
It is to Gunderson’s great credit that she refrains from lecturing the audience. We learn that Tiger Lily is part of the indigenous peoples who existed in Neverland and that the world changed when Peter Pan and the Lost Boys showed up. In the end battle, tomboy Tiger Lily, scientist Wendy, and girly Tinkerbell all join Peter Pan and the Lost Boys to fight Hook and his gang. Moreover, Tiger Lily says she’s joining the fight for her own reasons and not because Peter Pan told her to.
But Gunderson’s love for Barrie’s male characters makes for
effective drama. Peter Pan and Wendy is not a play where the women win when the men
lose. Peter Pan could easily have been
presented as a jerk. Gunderson’s Peter
Pan is initially clueless, but he grows, learns, and improves.
Finally, it should be noted that Peter Pan and Wendy has many jokes, including a couple of
groaners. There’s an inscription on a
redshirt’s sword that is really funny.
struck me as a musical that had been rewritten too many times by too many hands. Peter
Pan and Wendy strikes me as being Lauren Gunderson’s vision. It should not
be the last word in how Peter Pan is portrayed in this century, but as long as
audiences realize they are entering Lauren Gunderson’s world and not J.M.
Barrie’s, they will find Peter Pan and
Wendy is enjoyable, effective, and provocative theatre.
The “Restoration Shakespeare” Macbeth was very well done, with excellent
performances by Ian Merrill Peakes as Macbeth and Kate Eastwood Smith as Lady
Macbeth. But the Folger made a mistake
by presenting the play as a benefit performance by the Bedlam asylum, where
some of the swords were real swords that actually killed actors. They should have presented Davenant’s play
straight so that the audience could experience it, since the likelihood it will
be performed again is vanishingly small.
Shakespeare Theatre dramturg Drew Lichtenberg told us in an essay in the
program that harnesses were cutting-edge technology in 1904 and that all the
flying in a dress rehearsal led to a set collapse, a delay for a week, and
Barrie frantically rewriting the conclusion.
International Class 016: Series of fiction works, namely, novels and books.
In International Class 016, the mark was first used by the applicant or the applicant’s related company or licensee or predecessor in interest at least as early as 11/13/1998, and first used in commerce at least as early as 03/03/1999, and is now in use in such commerce. The applicant is submitting one(or more) specimen(s) showing the mark as used in commerce on or in connection with any item in the class of listed goods/services, consisting of a(n) amazon.com website showing books in series being sold, book catalog showing series of books with mark, personal website showing series of books with mark..
The mark consists of standard characters, without claim to any particular font style, size, or color.
Will the mark be granted? What use will the author make of it?
Last year Faleena Hopkins triggered
she claimed exclusive rights to
“cocky” for romance titles. Hopkins sent notices to multiple authors telling
them to change the titles of their books and asked Amazon to take down all
other cocky-titled romance books (not just series).
The Authors Guild got involved in the litigation and Hopkins withdrew
her trademark claim. The Guild’s settlement announcement also said:
…The Trademark Office clarified that the owner of a trademark in a book series title cannot use that trademark against single book titles. Since single titles cannot serve as trademarks, they also cannot infringe series title trademarks. So, if another author or a publisher ever tries to stop you from using a single book title because of their series trademark, you can tell them to take a hike. Only series titles can infringe another series title.
(2) MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Nicholas Whyte does an epic roundup
7: the third series” at his From The Heart of Europe blog. In
addition to his commentary and links to episodes on YouTube, he also keeps
track of such trivia as appearances by actors who also had roles in Doctor
Who, and includes clips of some of the betterlines of dialog. such as –
Avon: That one’s Cally. I’ll introduce her more formally when she wakes up. This one is Vila. I should really introduce him now; he’s at his best when he’s unconscious.
(3) FIND THE BEST SHORT FANTASY. Rocket Stack Rank posted its annual roundup “Outstanding High Fantasy of 2018” with 39 stories that were that were finalists for major
SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or
recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction.
are some observations obtained from highlighting specific recommenders and
pivoting the table by publication, author, awards, year’s best anthologies, and
High fantasy stories make up 11% of SF/F awards finalists with 11 stories out of 101 total award-nominated stories from the 2018 Best SF/F. However, the only winner was “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” for the magazine-specific Uncanny Magazine Favorite Fiction Reader Poll award.
As for RSR, we recommended 20 stories (4 award worthy), were neutral on 16 stories, and only recommended against 3 stories (view by RSR rating).
(4) ROCINANTE LIFTS OFF 12/13. Amazon has dropped the
trailer for the next season of The Expanse:
Season 4 of The Expanse, its first as a global Amazon Original, begins a new chapter for the series with the crew of the Rocinante on a mission from the U.N. to explore new worlds beyond the Ring Gate. Humanity has been given access to thousands of Earth-like planets which has created a land rush and furthered tensions between the opposing nations of Earth, Mars and the Belt. Ilus is the first of these planets, one rich with natural resources but also marked by the ruins of a long dead alien civilization. While Earthers, Martians and Belters maneuver to colonize Ilus and its natural resources, these early explorers don’t understand this new world and are unaware of the larger dangers that await them.
…On the television the genre pickings have still not been many. I am still enjoying most of Doctor Who, and Jessica’s excellent reports on that series’ progress need no further comment from me, but my latest find this month has been another popular series for children. I am quite surprised how much I have enjoyed its undemanding entertainment, as Gerry Anderson’s Stingray has been shown on ITV. Be warned though – it’s a puppet series! Nevertheless, its enthusiasm and energy, combined with great music in a wonderful title sequence has made this unexpected fun. I understand that it has been entirely filmed in colour, although like the majority of the 14 million British households with a television, we’re forced to watch it in good old black-and-white.
(6) GIVING THANKS FOR THE WEIRD.[Item by Martin Morse
Wooster.]The November 24
episode of The Simpsons was a Thanksgiving version of Treehouse of
Horror, and all three segments were sf or fantasy. The first episode
recreated the original Thanksgiving, with cast members playing the Pilgrims,
the Indians, and the turkeys. The second episode had a personal assistant
AI like Siri or Alexa, and the AI version of Marge did a better job of
preparing Thanksgiving dinner than Marge did. But the best segment was when
a space ark fled Earth because of climate change, and Bart Simpson finds a can
of cranberry sauce and decides to replicate it, skipping all the warnings about
how you shouldn’t replicate organic objects. Of course, Bart ignores the
warnings, and the cranberry sauce comes to life and becomes very hungry.
Frozen 2 raked in $350 million (nearly £272m) in its opening weekend worldwide, beating forecasts and the box office debut of the original film.
The sequel made about £15m in the UK and Ireland and $127m (£98.9m) in the US and Canada, which are not counted towards the worldwide figures.
The 2013 original took $93m (£72.28m) during its first five days in theatres, according to Reuters.
It ended up making a whopping $1.27bn in total.
Disney say the sequel has set a new record for the biggest opening weekend for an animation.
That’s owing to the fact they consider this year’s remake of the Lion King, which made $269m on its opening weekend, to be a live action film.
But some feel the digital 3D film is more of a photo-realistic animation
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
November 26, 1977 — Space Academy aired “My Favorite Marcia”. The YA series stars Commander Isaac Gampu as played by Jonathan Harris. And the Big Bad in this episode is Robby the Robot with a different head. And a black paint job.
November 26, 1986 – Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home premiered. Featuring the all still living main cast of the original series, it was financially quite successful, liked by critics and fans alike. It currently has an 81% rating at Rotten Tomatoes among viewers. It placed second to Aliens for the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo at Conspiracy ‘87.
November 26, 1997 — Alien Resurrection premiered. The final instalment in the Alien film franchise, it starred Sigourney Weaver and Winona Ryder. It was the last Alien film for Weaver as she was not in Alien vs. Predator. It did well at the box office and holds a 39% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 26, 1897 — Naomi Mary Margaret Mitchison, Baroness Mitchison, CBE (née Haldane). Author of many historical novels with genre trappings such as The Corn King and the Spring Queen and The Bull Calves but also new wave SF such as Memoirs of a Spacewoman, pure fantasy Graeme and the Dragon and an Arthurian novel in Chapel Perilous. (Died 1999.)
Born November 26, 1910 — Cyril Cusack. Fireman Captain Beatty on the classic version of Fahrenheit 451. He’s Mr. Charrington, the shopkeeper in Nineteen Eighty-four, and several roles on Tales of the Unexpected round out his genre acting. (Died 1993.)
Born November 26, 1919 — Frederik Pohl. Writer, editor, and fan who was active for more seventy-five years from his first published work, the 1937 poem “Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna” to his final novel All the Lives He Led. That he was great and that he was honored for being great is beyond doubt — If I’m counting correctly, he won four Hugo and three Nebula Awards, and his 1979 novel Jem, Pohl won a U.S. National Book Award in the one-off category Science Fiction. SWFA made him the 12th recipient of its Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 1993, and he was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998. OK, setting aside Awards which are fucking impressive, there’s the matter of him editing Astonishing Stories, Galaxy Science Fiction, Worlds ofIf, andSuper Science Stories which were a companion to Astonishing Stories, plus the Star Science Fiction anthologies –and well let’s just say the list goes on. I’m sure I’ve not listed something that y’all like here. As writer, he was amazing. My favorite was the Heechee series though I confess some novels were far better than others. Gateway won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 1978 Locus Award for Best Novel, the 1977 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the 1978 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Very impressive. Man Plus I think is phenomenal, the sequel less so. Your opinion of course will no doubt vary. The Space Merchants co-written with Cyril M. Kornbluth in 1952 is, I think, damn fun. (Died 2013.)
Born November 26, 1939 — Tina Turner, 80. She gets noted here for being the oh-so-over-the-top Aunty Entity in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, but let’s not forget her as The Acid Queen in Tommy as well and for appearing as The Mayor in The Last Action Hero which is at least genre adjacent.
Born November 26, 1945 — Daniel Davis, 74. I’m singling him out for Birthday Honors for being his two appearances as Professor Moriarty on Next Gen. He has one-offs on MacGyver, Gotham and Elementary. He played a Judge in The Prestige film. He also voiced several characters on the animated Men in Black series.
Born November 26, 1961 — Steve Macdonald, 58. A fan and longtime pro filker ever since he first went to a filk con in 1992. In 2001, he went on a “WorlDream” tour, attending every filk con in the world held that year. He’s now resident where he moved to marry fellow filker Kerstin (Katy) Droge.
Born November 26, 1966 — Kristin Bauer van Straten, 53. Best known for being Pamela Swynford De Beaufort on True Blood, and as sorceress Maleficent on Once Upon a Time. She was also the voice of Killer Frost in the most excellent Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay film.
Born November 26, 1988 — Tamsin Egerton, 31. She was the young Morgaine, and I do mean young, in The Mists of Avalon series. She goes on to be Kate Dickens in the Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairytale series, Miranda Helhoughton in the Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking film and Guinevere in the Camelot series. Oh, and she’s Nancy Spungen in an episode of Psychobitches which is least genre adjacent if not genre.
Born November 26, 1988 — Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, 31. He played Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane on the Game of Thrones for five seasons. That’s it for his genre acting, but he co-founded Icelandic Mountain Vodka whose primary product is a seven-time distilled Icelandic vodka. Surely something Filers can appreciate!
(10) RE-FINDING NEMO. [Item by Daniel Dern.] I’m
behind in doing a Windsor McKay/Little Nemo post, but this is a close-out item
and probably going fast, so:
For you $45 plus shipping – $7.95, via USPS (you can spend more
for faster), down from the original $124.99
My point: If you are a McKay/Nemo fan, and think you might
be interested, now is the time, before they’re gone (or gone at this price). (Needless
to say, I ordered mine before sending this item to OGH.)
The book is 16″x21″ — the same size as the original
McKay strips, back when the “Sunday Funnies” were humongous… and
Nemo (and many others) got an entire of these pages. There are, as an item or
comment a few weeks/months back noted, two volumes of McKay’s Nemo that are
themselves full-sized. They ain’t cheap. (I own the first one, felt that was
enough that I didn’t follow up and get the second… I do, to be fair, have enough
smaller-sized Nemo volumes.
From the listing:
By Bill Sienkiewicz, Charles Vess, P. Craig Russell, David Mack et al. Contemporary artists pay tribute to this beloved and imaginative Sunday page. They have created 118 entirely new Little Nemo pages, all full Sunday page size! Contributors also include Paul Pope, J.H. Williams III, Carla Speed McNeil, Peter Bagge, Dean Haspiel, Farel Dalrymple, Marc Hempel, Nate Powell, Jeremy Bastian, Jim Rugg, Ron Wimberly, Scott Morse, David Petersen, J.G. Jones, Mike Allred, Dean Motter, Yuko Shimizu, Roger Langridge, Craig Thompson, and Mark Buckingham, among many others.
(11) YOUNG CREATORS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna interviews Lynda Barry. Barry, who teaches interdisciplinary creativity at the University of Wisconsin (Madison), says that she’s going to use her Macarthur Fellowship to study four-year-olds who see writing and drawing as one thing to determine when kids see writing and drawing as separate activities and then give up drawing. One result, she says, may be to find ways to teach adults who don’t think they can draw to start making art again. “How MacArthur ‘genius’ Lynda Barry is exploring brain creativity with true artists: Preschoolers”.
… “Most people stop drawing when they reach the age of 8 or so, because they couldn’t draw a nose or hands,” said Barry, 63. “The beautiful thing is that their drawing style is intact from that time. Those people, if you can get them past being freaked out, have the most interesting lines — and have a faster trajectory to making really original comics than people who have been drawing for a long, long time.”
…No discussion of authors of Pohl’s vintage would be complete without mentioning their shorter works.1972’s collection The Gold at the Starbow’s End contains five of Pohl’s finest, two of which are standouts.
The first standout is the title novella, in which a small crew of astronauts are dispatched on a slow voyage to Alpha Centauri. They have been assured that a world awaits them; this is a lie. There is no world and they have not been told of the true goals of their project. The project is a success. If only the geniuses who created the program had asked themselves what the consequences of success might be…
The other standout is 1972’s The Merchant of Venus. The discovery of alien relics on Venus has spurred colonization of that hostile world. Maintaining a human presence on Venus is fearfully expensive. It’s not subsidized by the home world; colonists must pay for their keep. This is a challenge for Audee Walthers, who is facing impending organ failure and doesn’t have the dosh to pay the doctor….
The launch of Disney+ show The Mandalorian, and the introduction of baby Yoda, has brought upon us the latest round of Star Wars obsession, with plenty of product tie-ins to aid the fandom. Last month, Le Creuset introduced a line of Star Wars-branded cookware, including a C-3P0 Dutch oven and a porg pie bird. But if you’re torn between wanting to use a Star Wars casserole dish and needing to braise ribs quickly, a new line of Star Wars Instant Pots is here….
In what has to be one of the more bizarre plagiarism stories in recent memory, Qatar Airways accused Singapore’s Changi Airport Group of plagiarizing not a paper, an idea or a proposal, but an airport.
The accusation was made by Akbar Al Baker, who is the CEO of both Qatar Airways and Hamad International Airport. In a recent press conference, he claimed that Singapore’s Changi Airport was a plagiarism of a planned expansion of Hamad International Aiport in Doha, Qatar.
Will Smith and Tom Hanks have made their careers by playing likable characters. Some of these characters are hyperintelligent and some profoundly dumb. Some inspire laughter and others tears. But the characters they play are always easy to like. They have a quality about them that makes you feel like, given the chance, you’d get along with them.
So, why does this matter? It matters because people like rooting for a likable person. People want the good guy to get the girl. They want the honorable person to rise to the top. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always deal out its cards fairly. Bad guys win all the time. As a result, people want to escape into a fiction governed by poetic justice, where the bad guys run up against the shit they deserve and the good guys get to sit back and have a cold one.
no need to limit yourself, Hurtgen’s second suggestion is —
Make your characters unlikable…
(16) RED SHIFT. In “We Made Star Wars R-Rated,” YouTube’s
Corridor Crew takes some scenes from the second trilogy and adds the gore
and splatter that Lucasfilms forgot to include….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Olav Rokne, James
Davis Nicoll, Daniel Dern, Eric Wong, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge,
Chip Hitchcock, N., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit
goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) VIEW TRANSIT OF MERCURY ON MONDAY. These occur on average about 13 times each
century. The next one won’t be until the year 2032. Let EclipseWise
tell you about Monday’s event in “2019 Transit of
On Monday, 2019 November 11, Mercury will transit the Sun for the first time since 2016. The transit or passage of a planet across the face of the Sun is a relatively rare occurrence. As seen from Earth, only transits of Mercury and Venus are possible….
Observing the Transit
Since Mercury is only 1/194 of the Sun’s apparent diameter, a telescope with a magnification of 50x or more is recommended to watch this event. The telescope must be suitably equipped with adequate filtration to ensure safe solar viewing.
(2) SUPERNATURAL EPISODE RECAP. [Item by Martin Morse
Wooster.] In the latest episode of Supernatural a character was
introduced who said she made her living as “the number-one purveyor of
non-authorized ‘Supernatural’ collectibles on Etsy.” She also wrote
fiction set in the Supernatural universe, although it wasn’t clear if
this was fan fiction or professional fiction. But what made the fiction
distinctive was that instead of the typical Supernatural episode, which
has, for 15 thunderous seasons, pitted Sam and Dean Winchester against
vampires, assorted monsters, and the forces of Hell itself, the fan fiction had
the Winchester brothers doing laundry and other chores. This made the
stories very popular.
episode didn’t do much with the main character other than having her deal with
another character who was struggling with writer’s block. “The only
way to deal with writer’s block is to write,” she said.
is the first TV episode I’ve seen where fan fiction characters were referred to
in the episode…
(3) THE NEW NUMBER TWO. When John Hertz looked at Walter
Fiction trading cards he noticed that a photo of Isaac Asimov appears on
both Asimov’s and Arthur C. Clarke’s cards in the online gallery. It brought to
mind an anecdote about the two authors which is retold in the “Isaac Asimov FAQ” at Stason.org.
5.5 What is the Asimov-Clarke treaty?
The Asimov-Clarke Treaty of Park Avenue, put together as Asimov and Clarke were travelling down Park Avenue in New York while sharing a cab ride, stated that Asimov was required to insist that Arthur C. Clarke was the best science fiction writer in the world (reserving second best for himself), while Clarke was required to insist that Isaac Asimov was the best science writer in the world (reserving second best for himself). Thus the dedication in Clarke’s book Report on Planet Three reads “In accordance with the terms of the Clarke-Asimov treaty, the second-best science writer dedicates this book to the second-best science-fiction writer”.
(4) SIGHTS TO SEE. Fanac.org’s Joe Siclari called attention
to recent additions to their online collection, photos from the 1959 Worldcon,
and scans of calendars featuring work by two great fanartists, George Barr and
We also added two calendars today, one from 1960 (George Barr) and the other from 1969 (Tim Kirk). They’re now in a directory set aside for calendars, and I’m sure there will be more as we go forward. Scans by Joe Siclari. You can see it at: http://fanac.org/fanzines/Calendars/.
Actor-turned-politician Lenore Zann is finding a second act in politics just as one of her most well-known roles finds a second life on the streaming screen.
Zann, a longtime New Democrat MLA from Nova Scotia, arrived in Ottawa this week as a newly elected Liberal MP.
Rogue, the character Zann voiced in the iconic 90s X-Men: The Animated Series, will be on Disney’s new streaming service along with the rest of the superhero team when that service launches in Canada next week….
(6) MALTIN PODCAST. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In Leonard and Jessie Maltin’s podcast with James Gray, they talk about cosplay beginning at minute 14, when Gray asks, “At what point did adults start dressing up like Captain America at Comic-Con?” and then segue into Martin Scorsese’s complaint about the MCU films not being cinema. Gray argues that the decline in the humanities in the past decade meant that more young people don’t have as deep a knowledge of film as previous generations do. At minute 20, they switch to deep and interesting film talk.
never discusses why he decided to make a sf film with Ad Astra, although
he did say he enjoyed working with Donald Sutherland.
Leonard Maltin revealed at the end of the podcast that he always sits through
the credits because “the movie isn’t over until you’ve been threatened
with civil and criminal prosecution.”
In this episode, special guest Jennifer Albright of Have You Seen This? drops by to talk about Mary Sues, a term used to describe an overly-perfect female character created as a self-insertion wish fulfillment vehicle for the author. The discussion traces the expression Mary Sue back to its origin in Star Trek fanfiction and tries to grapple with its current usage. Does Mary Sue mean anything anymore? Is it a misogynistic term? Is Rey from Star Wars a Mary Sue? Is James Bond a Mary Sue? Does it really matter if a character is a Mary Sue?
(8) BOOKS FRANK MILLER LOVES. Shelf Awareness brings
with… Frank Miller”, best known for Daredevil, The Dark
Knight Returns, Sin City and 300.
Favorite book when you were a child:
The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, because he went for impossible adventure.
Your top five authors:
Isaac Asimov: He was the godfather of modern science fiction. He took us beyond the rocket ships and bug-eyed monsters.
Raymond Chandler: For his urban romantic poetry that celebrated 1940s Los Angeles.
Dashiell Hammett: His town was San Francisco; his dialogue was clipped, yet wildly evocative. His heroes were tough and very, very alone.
Dorothy B. Hughes: She brought a distinctly feminine edge to the hard-boiled genre and, in her own way, was ready to take us to darker places than any of the rest.
Mickey Spillane: For his pounding and frenetic portrait of New York City in the post-World War II era.
In 1950, a New York City police officer who was working missing-persons cases examined the body of an approximately 30-year-old man that was brought into the morgue. The man had shown up in the middle of Times Square at 11:15 p.m. that evening, “gawking and looking around at the cars and up at the signs like he’d never seen them before,” then was quickly hit and killed by cab when he tried to cross a street against the traffic lights.
The pockets of the deceased’s clothing held multiple pieces of coinage and currency of forms that had not been produced for several decades, yet many of them were in mint condition. His possessions also included items from types of businesses that no longer existed in New York City (i.e., a bill from a livery stable and a brass slug from a saloon), a letter postmarked in 1876, and cards bearing the name Rudolph Fentz with an address on Fifth Avenue….
Rod Serling remains one of the more influential writers in the annals of science fiction. As creator of The Twilight Zone, he took took viewers to strange dimensions and pushed the boundaries of what the genre could do. Yet, part of him feared he would not leave a lasting legacy. That’s one of the topics tackled in Remembering Rod Serling, a new documentary that will be unveiled Nov. 14 in theaters via Fathom Events to celebrate The Twilight Zone‘s 60th anniversary.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 9, 1886 — Ed Wynn. He appeared on The Twilight Zone in “One for the Angels” which Sterling wrote specifically for him. He appeared one more time on the series in, “Ninety Years Without Slumbering”. He provided the voice of the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland and played The Toymaker in Babes in Toyland. No doubt his best-remembered film appearance was in Mary Poppins as Uncle Albert. Bet you can name the scene he’s best remembered for! (Died 1966.)
Born November 9, 1921 — Alfred Coppel. Have I ever mentioned how much I love pulp? Everything from the writers to the artwork to the magazines themselves are so, so cool. And this writer was one of the most prolific such authors of the Fifties and Sixties. That he was also a SF writer is an added bonus. Indeed, his first science fiction story was “Age of Unreason” in a 1947 Amazing Stories. Under the pseudonym of Robert Cham Gilman, he wrote the Rhada sequence of galactic space opera novels aimed at a young adult market. Wiki claims he writing under A.C. Marin as well but I cannot find any record of this. (Died 2004.)
Born November 9, 1924 — Alan Caillou. The Head in the Quark series. If you have to ask… Last role was Count Paisley in Ice Pirates and his first was on the One Step Beyond series. (Died 2006.)
Born November 9, 1924 — Lawrence T. Shaw. A Hugo Award-winning fan, author, editor and literary agent. In the Forties and Fifties, Larry Shaw edited Nebula, Infinity Science Fiction and Science Fiction Adventures. He received a Special Committee Award during the 1984 Worldcon for lifetime achievement as an editor. (Died 1985.)
Born November 9, 1954 — Rob Hansen, 65. British fan, active since the Seventies who has edited and co-edited numerous fanzines including his debut production Epsilon. And he was the 1984 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate. His nonfiction works such as Then: Science Fiction Fandom in the UK: 1930-1980, lasted updated just a few years ago, are invaluable.
Born November 9, 1973 — Gabrielle Miller, 46. Her first genre series was Highlander: The Series. And yes, she had long red hair in it. That’s followed by M.A.N.T.I.S., Outer Limits, X-Files, The Sentinel, Dead Man’s Gun, Stargate SG-1, Viper, Poltergeist, Welcome to Paradox… oh, you get the idea.
Born November 9, 1974 — Ian Hallard, 45. He was on Doctor Who as Alan-a-Dale in “Robot of Sherwood”, a Twelfth Doctor story; in Sherlock as Mr Crayhill in “The Reichenbach Fall”; and he played one of the original directors of Doctor Who, Richard Martin, in An Adventure in Space and Time. And he wrote “The Big Four” episode with Mark Gatiss for the Agatha Christie series.
(12) JFK. Gideon Marcus (Galactic Journey) is lining
up fans who are interested in a free alternate history story.
Why did you decide to look so closely at these first 20 years of Lewis’s life?
Virtually all of Lewis’s biographers have puzzled over why he devoted most of his spiritual biography, Surprised by Joy, to his first 20 years. As I first began to read the letters of young Jack Lewis from the time when he first went away to school, I realized why Lewis thought his childhood and youth were so important in his conversion. During this period, he developed all of his major tastes about what he enjoyed in life and what he hated. Many of the ideas that he would pursue in both his scholarly work and his popular writings have their genesis in his teenage years. Whether books like The Allegory of Love and A Preface to Paradise Lost, or The Chronicles of Narnia and Mere Christianity, many of the ideas found in these books were topics of Lewis’s interest in letters to [lifelong friend] Arthur Greeves when he was 16 and 17….
NASA scientists recently opened a sample tube of rock and soil collected on the moon during Apollo 17. The tube remained unopened for nearly 47 years, and it is the first time NASA scientists have broken in to a fresh moon sample in over four decades. Researchers are using the lunar dirt to test next-generation sampling tools in preparation for the next time humans fly to the moon.
The sample tube holds about 15 ounces of lunar regolith, or loose rocky material from the surface. Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt collected the material during mission in December of 1972, NASA’s last crewed mission to the moon. The sample, 73002, was taken from a two-foot-long tube that the astronauts drove into a landslide deposit in a feature called the Lara Crater. A second sample, 73001, is scheduled to be opened in January.
In the latest installment of SYFY WIRE’s Behind the Panel, we’re roaming the halls of New York Comic Con while searching for an elusive Treasury Edition: MGM’s Marvelous Wizard of Oz. True story: That was the first-ever collaboration between Marvel and DC. But their second collaboration was a true game changer: Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man.
That’s right, the unthinkable crossover already happened in 1976, with a follow-up sequel in 1981. Only the Treasury Edition format could fully capture the twin heroic icons of comics as they had their inevitable battle before their equally inevitable team-up to save the day. For the time, Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man was the comic book equivalent of a blockbuster movie. That Treasury Edition is long out of print, but fans may be lucky enough to spot it at comic conventions.
(17) FROM THE LETTERZINE ZEEN. Kim Huett shares another gem
from his files with readers of Doctor Strangemind. “One of the reasons I find nosing through old fanzines so
worthwhile are the contemporary reactions to stories and authors. It’s always
fun to discover reviews of the big names back when they were just starting out.
As you can probably imagine I was most pleased to find what I suspect was the
first critical reaction to Ursula Le Guin.” — “In the Beginning”
… Take for example consider the following comments by US fan, Earl Evers, who reviewed the contents of the April 1964 issue of Fantastic Stories of Imagination in his fanzine, Zeen #2 within weeks of it hitting the shelves. In the process of reviewing this magazine, story by story, he had the following to say about what was one of Ursula K. Le Guin’s earliest published stories…
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Kim Huett also shared this link for…
Here’s an #Owlkitty video which more than adequately explains exactly why Tolkien didn’t feature cats in either Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. Yes, the right cat would make a great Balrog or an excellent Nazgal mount except cats have minds of their own and I can’t imagine Sauron would like that (besides, they would stare right back at him and it doesn’t take an All Seeing Eye to find that sort of behavior annoying):
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, John Hertz, Rich Lynch, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, RS Benedict, Olav Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Kim Huett, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]
“Why does climate change cast a much smaller shadow on literature than it does on the world?” asked the novelist Amitav Ghosh, writing in The Guardian in 2016. “Is it perhaps too wild a stream to be navigated in the accustomed barques of narration?”
…Yet the idea of a world in crisis is fundamental to horror, a genre historically devalued by the gatekeepers of high culture as, well, outlandish and unserious. Horror has always sought to amplify fear. It works against false comfort, complacency and euphemism, against attempts to repress or sanitize that which disturbs us. Inevitably, the climate crisis has given rise to a burgeoning horror subgenre: eco-horror. Eco-horror reworks horror in order to portray the damage done to the world by people, and the ways the world might damage or even destroy us in turn. In eco-horror, the “natural” world is both under threat and threatening.
The best-known work of eco-horror might be Jeff VanderMeer’s “Southern Reach” trilogy (2014), about a beautiful and deadly exclusion zone known as Area X. The first book, “Annihilation,” which was made into a Hollywood film last year, is narrated by a biologist on a mission to explore the area. She records her initial impressions of the abandoned landscape, including a “low, powerful moaning” audible at dusk. Her team discovers a structure in the earth, an inverted tower. The biologist is lowered into it. There is a smell like rotting honey. The walls are covered with words, the writing system of some kind of fruiting body. She hears a heartbeat. The structure turns out to be a living organism, a “horror show of … beauty and biodiversity.” The biologist leans in close and is sprayed with golden spores — infected….
(2) A LOT OF GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS. The Hugo Book Club, an unofficial blog about its namesake, has tweeted a long, thoughtful thread about the Best Fan Writer Hugo category, probing how meaningful it is — or isn’t — that any given fan has previously heard of all the finalists. Thread starts here.
Back in 1984, Breton co-wrote a science fiction novel called “Softwar” based around the National Software Agency (which in no way resembles the U.S. National Security Agency). Billed as a “technology thriller,” the novel’s plot is centered on an American cyberattack on Soviet computers. “At the time no one was speaking about viruses, the word didn’t exist,” Breton said, according to Liberation.
However, his co-author Denis Beneich later claimed Breton “never wrote a word of this novel” although “he had the idea for it.”
Breton, whose Commission portfolio would include the space industry, wrote two other novels in the mid to late 1980s — “Vatican III” and “Netwar” (all three of his books are worth checking out, if only for the cover art).
His love of sci-fi doesn’t stop with books, however. Breton also helped come up with the idea for a high-tech theme park called “Futuroscope” in Chasseneuil-du-Poitou, just north of Poitiers in western France. Its tag-line is “Expect the unexpected,” which sounds like good advice ahead of a hearing before the European Parliament.
Charlie Chaplin slept here. So did Sarah Bernhardt, Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Franz Liszt, Warren Harding, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Wolfe, Cloris Leachman and Arlene Dahl. Likewise, D.W. Griffith, who, in 1912, shot two movies — “A Feud in the Kentucky Hills” and “The Informer” — in this dot of a town in the foothills of the Poconos.
Josh Sapan has slept here too — as often as his schedule permits. But 33 years ago, when Mr. Sapan learned of Milford’s many charms from a friend, he knew nothing about the town’s past. Still, he was sufficiently captivated to buy a waterfront cabin.
It was enough that he could look out his windows after dark and see no illumination but the moon, enough that the Delaware rolled along mere steps from his door. “I just love houses on rivers and I really love this house,” said Mr. Sapan, 67, the president and chief executive of AMC Networks, a Manhattan-based company that owns and operates cable channels including AMC, BBC America and SundanceTV. “I don’t know what it is. I find it quite magical, if that’s the right word.”
Mr. Sapan had yet to learn that the novelist Stephen Crane had camped out for a summer in Milford with friends, and published a satirical newspaper during his stay, that Milford was the birthplace of the conservation movement, and that in the 1950s and 1960s, it was the red hot center of the science fiction writers’ universe, even figuring in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” because several big names in the genre, notably the literary agent Virginia Kidd, had settled in town….
Andrew Porter left a comment there filling in more of the “big names” only alluded to in the article:
Milford is associated with many science fiction writers. Authors Damon Knight, James Blish and Judy Merrill also lived there. It was the setting for the annual Milford Science Fiction Writers Conference for many years, starting in the 1950s, which spun off other “Milford” conferences, most notably in the UK and Seattle, as well as the “New Wave” in SF in the mid-1960s. Also in Milford, the foundations were laid for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, an active organization which presents the annual Nebula Awards. For more information about how Milford looms so large in the science fictional universe, see the Wikipedia page here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milford_Writer’s_Workshop
…Given the reins of Paramount Pictures with little experience in 1966 thanks to a friendship with corporate owner Gulf & Western’s Charles Bluhdorn, Evans turned the company around thanks to a string of critical darlings that would eventually become classics. During his tenure as production VP, he oversaw genre fare like Rosemary’s Baby, Don’t Look Now, and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
Moving on from leading the studio, Evans personally produced movies like the adaptation of William Goldman’s Marathon Man (starring Dustin Hoffman), Popeye (with Robin Williams), and early comic book film The Phantom. Some hit higher highs than others, but Evans was a constant presence in the industry.
Robin Brett, a NASA scientist who 50 years ago was among the first to study and direct research on lunar samples — popularly known as ‘‘moon rocks’’ — from the Apollo space missions, died Sept. 27 at his home in Washington. He was 84.
The cause was Alzheimer’s disease, said his wife, Jill Brett.
From 1969 to 1974, Dr. Brett was chief of the geochemistry branch at NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston. In July 1969, he was among a select four scientists present for the opening of a sealed box containing the first moon rocks from the initial Apollo lunar mission.
…When the lunar samples were first brought to Earth, they were kept for a period in a quarantined and sterile environment, lest they contain or exude a noxious substance that might be harmful in earth’s atmosphere.
Dr. Brett doubted the necessity of this precaution, which he demonstrated, he said, by becoming the first man on Earth to lick a moon rock.
What did it taste like?
‘‘A dirty potato,’’ he answered.
(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
[Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I saw Zombieland:
Double Tap, which delivers if you want a pretty gory zombie movie with many
good jokes. Early in the film the four main characters are hiding out in
the ruins of the White House. They exchange Christmas presents even
though it’s November 17 because they don’t have anything else to do. Emma
Stone gives Jesse Eisenberg a copy of the first edition of The Fellowship of
the Ring. (We don’t know why the White House has first editions of
thank you,” Eisenberg says, “and look, you’ve ruined the book by
scribbling on the first page.”
course, it isn’t really a Tolkien book but they did fake the original cover…
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
October 28, 1951 — The Out There series premiered. It was one of the first SF anthology series. It lasted a mere twelve episodes. Some of the SF writers it adapted were Heinlein, Sturgeon, Bradbury, Bissell and Long. Heinlein in particular was a favorite source for them.
October 28, 1994 — Stargate premiered. Starring Kurt Russell and James Spader, critics intensely hated it, and it rated 50% at Rotten Tomatoes. It of course spawned Stargate SG-1 series franchise.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 28, 1902 — Elsa Lanchester. The Bride in 1935’s The Bride of Frankenstein with Boris Karloff. In 1928 she appeared in three silent shorts written for her by H. G. Wells: Blue Bottles, Daydreams and The Tonic. Ray Bradbury originally wrote “Merry Christmas 2116” to be performed by Lanchester and her husband Charles Laughton. (Died 1986.)
Born October 28, 1951 — William H. Patterson, Jr. Author of Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, a two-volume look at Heinlein which arguably is the best biography ever done on him. He also did The Martian Named Smith: Critical Perspectives on Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. This Tribute to Bill Patterson by Mike with comments by Filers is touching indeed. (Died 2014.)
Born October 28, 1951 — Joe Lansdale, 68. Writer and screenwriter whose DCU Jonah Hex animated screenplays are far superior to the live action Hex film. Bubba Ho-Tep is a American comedy horror film starting Bruce Campbell is his best known genre work though he has done a number of another works including The God of The Razor and Reverend Jedidiah Mercer series which are definitely Weird Westerns.
Born October 28, 1952 — Annie Potts, 67. Janine Melnitz in the still-best Ghostbusters and in Ghostbusters II as well. She has a cameo as Vanessa the hotel clerk in the Ghostbusters reboot. She is listed as reprising her original role in the forthcoming Ghostbusters 2020 which I’ll freely admit I know nothing about.
Born October 28, 1958 — Amy Thomson, 61. Writer of four novels in a decade twenty years ago including Virtual Girl which won her the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. She published one piece of short fiction, “The Ransom of Princess Starshine”, in 2017 in Stupefying Stories which is edited by Bruce Bethke.
Born October 28, 1958 — Kristin Landon. Though she was working on a fourth novel in the series at the time of her death, the published novels will comprise the Hidden Worlds trilogy: The Hidden Worlds, The Cold Minds, and The Dark Reaches. (Died 2019.)
Born October 28, 1962 — Daphne Zuniga, 57. Her very first was as Debbie in The Dorm That Dripped Blood, labelled a Video Nasty in the UK. You know her much better as Princess Vespa in Spaceballs, and she also in The Fly II being Beth Logan. Series work include Nightmare Classics, Batman Beyond, Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child, Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and, no surprise here, Spaceballs: The Animated Series where she voicedPrincess Vespa
Born October 28, 1967 — Julia Roberts, 52. How can I resist giving Birthday Honors to Tinker Bell in Hook? Not to mention she was in the seriously weird Flatliners that I saw at a virtually empty theater. Of course, there’s the ever weirder Mary Reilly with her in the title role. For something more charming, she voiced Charlotte the Spider in Charlotte‘s Web. I’m going to skip her as a Smurf I think…
Born October 28, 1974 — Joaquin Phoenix, 45. Currently The Joker. He hasn’t done much genre acting setting aside being Max in SpaceCamp when he was twelve, and being Billy Hercules in the “Little Hercules” episode of Superboy. Well he did a Shyamalan film but I refuse to consider them genre.
Born October 28, 1982 — Matt Smith, 37. The Eleventh Doctor, also Alex in Terminator Genisys, a film I’ve not seen. Nor likely will. He’s also Jim in The Sally Lockhart Mysteries: The Ruby in the Smoke based off the Philip Pullman novels.
(12) EL-MOHTAR REVIEWS. Amal El-Mohtar, in a book review column for the NYT,“Dark Books for Dark Times”, opines about His Hideous Heart, a collection edited by Dahlia Adler, Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth, Paul Krueger’s Steel Crow Saga, and Annalee Newitz’s The Future of Another Timeline.
… Conceptually “The Future of Another Timeline” is breathtakingly brilliant, and part of a constellation of time-travel stories this year that wed present-day activism to a willingness to change the past. But as I read, I found myself far more affected by the smaller, fiercer story of Tess and Beth’s early years — the story of feral friendships formed in extreme circumstances, of surviving abuse and finding the power to seek revenge or walk away from it. Everything about that story clutched at my heart, while the broader time-travel stakes and narrative diminished in effect; I became less concerned with the overarching conceit than with the story of these young women arguing over what love and honesty demand. But time travel creates the space for that story to happen — and Newitz’s book is, more than anything else, about the importance of fighting for such spaces. In that, it’s entirely successful.
…The blackouts solved nothing, of course. De-energizing the electrical grid is a bludgeon: imprecise, with enormous potential for collateral damage as people deal with a darkened world. It doesn’t even eliminate fire risk. What it largely does is shift responsibility away from Pacific Gas & Electric, the state’s largest utility company, whose faulty transmission lines had been found to have caused some of the most destructive wildfires on record.
In fact, cutting power can exacerbate some fire risks. In a blackout, more people rely on home generators, many of which have been installed without permits and might be no less faulty than the utility’s own equipment. Detours and gridlock force more cars into vulnerable places. (Sparks off roadways are another top cause of wildfire.) The blackout makes it harder for the public to respond to fire emergencies even as it does little to prevent all the other factors that cause them — from careless barbecues to tossed-out cigarette butts to plain old arson. One of the state’s most serious fires so far this year was ignited by burning garbage.
But a mandatory blackout does have one radically positive effect. By suddenly withdrawing electrical power — the invisible lifeblood of our unsustainable economic order — PG&E has made the apocalyptic future of the climate crisis immediate and visceral for some of the nation’s most comfortable people. It is easy to ignore climate change in the bosom of the developed world. But you can’t fail to notice when the lights go out.
…In the American West, our climate will only get hotter and drier, our wildfires worse. Every year more places are going to burn, and we will, repeatedly, be horrified by the losses. But we should not be shocked by them. The blackouts have laid bare the uncomfortable fact that the infrastructure we’ve built and maintained over the course of many decades isn’t matched to the threats we face in our rapidly unfolding climate emergency….
… Fat Sal’s, the overstuffed sandwich makers in Hollywood, have gotten into the mix before, and now for Halloween the group is transforming its corner address off Highland into a Big Kahuna Burger from the movie Pulp Fiction.
Much like in years past, Fat Sal’s plans to its dining area to fit the new temporary theme. Expect a grassy Hawaiian-tinged awning and overt nods to the 1994 film everywhere, including slogans (“Now that is a tasty burger” or “That’s that Hawaiian burger joint”) and an image of Jules Winnfield, the character played by Samuel L. Jackson in the Tarantino flick. A separate area will be turned into the pawn shop from the film as well, and diners will be able to check out merchandise in that space…
After a record-breaking 780 days circling the Earth, the U.S. Air Force’s mysterious X-37B unmanned space plane dropped out of orbit and landed safely on the same runway that the space shuttle once used.
It was the fifth acknowledged mission for the vehicle, built by Boeing at the aerospace company’s Phantom Works.
“Today marks an incredibly exciting day for the 45th Space Wing,” Brig. Gen. Doug Schiess, 45th Space Wing commander, said in a statement. “Our team has been preparing for this event, and I am extremely proud to see their hard work and dedication culminate in today’s safe and successful landing of the X-37B.”
As in previous missions, many of the details about the vehicle’s activities in the past two years are being kept under wraps. One experiment was to “test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipe technologies in the long-duration space environment,” according to the Air Force statement.
Randy Walden, the director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, said the latest X-37B mission “successfully hosted Air Force Research Laboratory experiments, among others, as well as providing a ride for small satellites.”
“The statement that this @usairforce X-37 flight deployed small satellites is alarming, since the US has not reported those deployments in its UN Registration Convention submissions,” McDowell tweeted. “This would be the first time that either the USA or Russia has blatantly flouted the Convention.”
[Thanks to Nicholas Whyte, Andrew Porter, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John
King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and Cat Eldridge for some
of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel
(1) 1990 SOUVENIR BOOK. To help promote the planned Reunicon 2020 to commemorate the 30th
anniversary of ConFiction 1990, Kees Van Toorn and friends have uploaded the Souvenir
Book of ConFiction 1990 on their
website in flipbook format.
(3) ANOTHER BITE OF THE APPLE. Magical mysteries unfold in Ghostwriter, coming
November 1 to the Apple TV app with an Apple TV+ subscription.
According to TVLine, the upcoming reboot will center around four friends who discover a ghost in their neighborhood’s bookstore. This ghost seems to be decidedly less helpful than the Ghostwriter of the ‘90s; instead of helping the friends solve mysteries, he “releases” fictional characters from books into the real world. TVLine adds that each episode will highlight a particular book or novel.
…Kafka’s language does not arouse suspicion, but it should. He describes the goings on with great precision, objectively noting peculiar elements, odd turns of events, strange settings and physical characteristics as a scientist might describe what he sees through a microscope, giving nothing special place, offering no opinion or emotional reaction, as though everything that takes place is equally worthy of notation. Random, apparently peripheral elements get the same attention as the most dramatic happenings. The supervising inspector arranges objects around a candle that sits on a night table he is using as a desk. He places his index fingers side by side as though comparing their length. Three men Josef K. does not seem to know examine a framed picture on a wall. But these are not clues, for K. or for us. They are disconnected observations that lead nowhere, that add up to nothing.
The disconnect between Kafka’s language and what is being described is what unsettles. Shocking, bizarre, and funny moments are described in the most mundane and unemotional language. Kafka has no reaction to anything himself and gives no clues how we should react. His almost pedantic detail and dry tone cast things in an oddly familiar light.
(5) LE GUIN AND MUSIC. [Item by Rob Thornton.] At the Electric Literature website, writer and
editor Tobias Carroll wonders “Why Has Ursula K. Le Guin Inspired So Many Musicians?” He
discusses how musicians are not only mentioning her works in song titles
and lyrics, they are also grappling with the themes from Le Guin’s stories in
their works. Bands such as Baltimore dream-pop duo Beach House, heavy metal
bands Keep of Kalessin and Ragana, and San Francisco darkwave act Cold Beat are
“[Cold Beat songwriter] spoke about the potential of science fiction to offer a glimpse of a better world. ‘When we broaden our vocabulary and learn more, there’s a lot out there to discover,’ she said. ‘I think it’s inspiring, especially when we’re getting down. It’s really healthy to remember that there’s a lot more out there.’ It’s the same kind of thought experiment that one might see in an Ursula K. Le Guin essay or story?—?albeit in the process of being transfigured into a catchy and propulsive song. And while Le Guin’s own foray into music hasn’t necessarily spawned a legion of sound-alikes, the fact that she felt compelled to create such a work suggests that she left room in her writings for music—a gateway that this group of musicians has passed through, creating memorable work as they go. “‘
To prove Carroll’s point, there are other bands
who have somehow made Le Guin a part of their music, including Ekumen (a
hardcore punk band from New Orleans), Spanish Kalte Sonne (a post-metal band
from Spain with an album named Ekumen), Fogweaver (Earthsea-inspired dungeon
synth act from Colorado), and Street Eaters (punk band from San Francisco)
(6) A GOOD OMEN FOR BUYERS. AudioFile applauds
Michael Sheen’s narration of Philip Pullman’s The Secret Commonwealth (Book
of Dust, volume 2) here.
Michael Sheen throws himself wholeheartedly into narrating this sequel to LA BELLE SAUVAGE, and listeners will be rapt. Lyra is now 20, and she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, are uneasy with each other in ways they never have been before. This central conflict is the catalyst for a series of journeys and is just one of many, many threads that Pullman will presumably pick up again in the final volume in the Book of Dust trilogy. For the ever-expanding international cast of characters, Sheen conjures a multitude of accents and delivers rapid-fire conversations between them. He’s in step with the text at every turn; when situations become fraught or dangerous, Sheen ramps up the tension exquisitely…
If you’re going to reveal your life story, it’s good to have a friend and fellow “Babylon 5” cast member perform it. Peter Jurasik, known to “Babylon 5” fans as the sleazy alien Londo Mollari, narrates the startling life of the series creator, J. Michael Straczynski, and his victories over a monstrous father, an abusive family, and, seemingly, an entire world out to destroy him. Jurasik soberly recounts his friend’s life, a fascinating, almost unbelievable, tale of courage and determination.
Google has angered a privacy expert by repeatedly identifying him as a “dwarf character actor” famous for playing a winged monkey in The Wizard of Oz.
Pat Walshe told BBC News he had had the issue resolved twice, only to discover last week it had happened again.
The issue involves his photo being run next to text from another source about a dead American who had the same name.
He now aims to make an official complaint to data privacy watchdogs. Google has once again fixed the flaw.
(10) METCALF OBIT. Longtime fan Norm Metcalf (1937-2019) died September 21, within a few months after he was hospitalized for injuries sustained in a fall.
Robert Lichtman remembers:
I knew him via the science fiction fan subculture, where he published a fanzine, New Frontiers, that saw four issues (1959-1964) with noteworthy contributors including Poul Anderson, Anthony Boucher, Stanton Coblentz, L. Sprague de Camp, August Derleth and Wilson Tucker. He was a longtime member of several amateur publishing associations — the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA) 1963-1969 and 1973 to the present, and the Spectator Amateur Press Society (SAPS) 1961-1967 and 1987 to the present — and published a variety of titles for their mailing distributions. He also researched and edited a reference, The Index of Science Fiction Magazines 1951-1965, which was published in 1968. Norm was a serious student of science fiction.
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.
October 3, 1961 — A For Andromeda aired “The Message”, the premier episode. Written by Fred Hoyle and John Elliot, this UK series was broadcast in seven episodes. As was the practice at the time, the BBC’s copies of the serial were trashed after broadcast and most of the serial still remains missing.
October 3, 2000 — The Dark Angel series first aired. Starring Jessica Alba, it would run for two seasons. It was executive produced by James Cameron, Charles H. Eglee andRené Echevarria.
October 3, 2008 — Star Wars: The Clone Wars debuted on the Cartoon Network. created by George Lucas and produced by Lucasfilm Animation, the series is was renewed for a seventy season to air in 2020.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 3, 1874 — Charles Middleton. He is no doubt best remembered for his role as the Emperor Ming the Merciless in the three Flash Gordon serials made between 1936 and 1940 which may been the only genre production he appeared in. (Died 1949.)
Born October 3, 1927 — Don Bensen. Best-known for his novel And Having Writ… which is not in print in form digitally or in hard copy — damn it. Indeed, nothing by him is. Huh. (Died 1997.)
Born October 3, 1931 — Ray Nelson, 88. SF writer best known for his short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” which was the basis of John Carpenter’s They Live. He later collaborated with Philip K. Dick on The Ganymede Takeover. In the 1940s Nelson appropriated the propeller beanie as a symbol of science fiction fandom. His fannish cartoons were recognized with the Rotsler Award in 2003. He was inducted to the First Fandom Hall of Fame this year.
Born October 3, 1935 — Madlyn Rhue. She on Trek’s “Space Seed” as Lt. Marla McGivers, Khan Noonien Singh’s (Ricardo Montalbán) love interest. Other genre appearances included being on the original Fantasy Island as Lillie Langtry in “Legends,” and Maria in the “Firefall” episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker. (Died 2003.)
Born October 3, 1944 — Katharine Kerr, 75. Ok I’m going to confess that I’ve not read her Deverry series so please tell me how they are. Usually I do read such Celtic tinged series so I don’t know how I missed them.
Born October 3, 1964 — Clive Owen, 55. First role I saw him in was the title role of Stephen Crane in the Chancer series. Not genre, but fascinating none the less. He’s been King Arthur in film of the same name where Keira Knightley was Guinevere. He’s also was in Sin City as Dwight McCarthy, and in The Pink Panther (though weirdly uncredited) as Nigel Boswell/Agent 006. I’ll also single him out for being Commander Arun Filitt in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
Born October 3, 1973 — Lena Headey, 46. Many of you will know her as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, but I liked her sociopathic Madeline “Ma-Ma” Madrigal on Dredd better. She was also Angelika in The Brothers Grimm, a film I’m sure I’ve seen but remember nothing about.
The Grinch is one of our all-time favorite Christmas movies, so this cookie dough is a holiday miracle. The dough bakes into scrumptious, bright green sugar cookies made for a tall glass of milk. In theme with the story we all know and love, the Grinch cookie dough features an adorable red candy heart that brings the Dr. Seuss character to life. It’s the perfect thing to bake with the kiddos (or just yourself) this year.
…But now, across the water on South Padre Island, the county has spent about $31 million building new pavilions and an amphitheater that would host concerts and weddings and make a prime viewing area for rocket launches. Local officials hope for a future where residents and tourists line the beach, the way they have for years along Florida’s Space Coast, cheering rockets as they tear through the sky.
“It’s exciting,” said Sofia Benavides, a county commissioner who represents Boca Chica. “I’m 69 years old and have never been to a rocket launch. For my children and grandchildren, it’s great that this is happening in their backyard.”
Not everyone is cheering, though.
A handful of residents who live next door to SpaceX’s facilities recently received letters from SpaceX, which said the company’s footprint in the area was going to be bigger and more disruptive than originally imagined. As a result, it was seeking to purchase their properties at three times the value determined by an appraiser hired by SpaceX. The deal was nonnegotiable, the letter said, and the company wanted an answer within two weeks, although some have received extensions.
Called Boca Chica Village, the area is made up of about 30 homes within walking distance of the Gulf of Mexico, occupied mostly seasonally. Many are boarded up. A few have weeds as high as the mailboxes….
(16) SNUBS. Travis
M. Andrews’ “The
Missing Oscars” in the Washington
Post is about actors he thinks should have won Oscars but didn’t.
About a third of the people he picked were in sf or fantasy films, including
Harrison Ford in Blade Runner, Michael Keaton for Beetlejuice,
and Laurence Fishburne in The Matrix. (Most of the actors he
picked in sf and fantasy films were men.)
John Lithgow for “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” (1984)
Lithgow’s primary strength as an actor is range. Look at his portrayal of long-standing, slow-burning dedication in “Love is Strange,” or his take on an alien trying to understand humanity in “3rd Rock From the Sun,” or as a hardline preacher who can’t tolerate dancing in “Footloose.” At times he’s also, to use a colloquialism, realllllllly gone for it, like when he portrayed a man with multiple personalities in “Raising Cain.” That role bordered on parody, but his most extravagant performance was parody, as Lord John Whorfin/Dr. Emilio Lizardo in Earl Mac Rauch’s and W.D. Richter’s sci-fi sendup. To play the mad intergalactic doctor, Lithgow lifted an Italian accent from an MGM tailor and changed his walk to that of an “old crab, because my alien metabolism is supposed to be messed up,” he later explained. The bizarre result is a deeply committed performance that’s wildly over-the-top and a singular, hilarious character.
(17) AI. Nature’s review ofStuart Russell’s
latest book examines how artificial intelligence could spin out of control: “Raging
robots, hapless humans: the AI dystopia.” Full
review article here (open access).
In Human Compatible, his new book on artificial intelligence (AI), Stuart Russell confronts full on what he calls “the problem of control”. That is, the possibility that general-purpose AI will ultimately eclipse the intellectual capacities of its creators, to irreversible dystopian effect.
The control problem is not new. Novelist Samuel Butler’s 1872 science-fiction classic Erewhon, for instance, features concerns about robotic superhuman intelligences that enslave their anthropoid architects, rendering them “affectionate machine-tickling aphids”. But, by 1950, Norbert Wiener, the inventor of cybernetics, was writing (in The Human Use of Human Beings) that the danger to society “is not from the machine itself but from what man makes of it”. Russell’s book in effect hangs on this tension: whether the problem is controlling the creature, or the creator. In a sense, that has been at the core of AI from its inception…
(18) APOLLO’S CREED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the September 28 Financial Times (behind
a paywall), Arwa Haider profiles the London Video Game Orchestra, a 65-piece
orchestra that will perform Assassin’s Creed Symphony at the Eventim
Apollo in London on October 5. Haider interviewed the founder of MGP
Live, concert producer Massimo Goletta.
In an era when the entertainment industry is obsessed with ‘immersive’ events, video game concerts also present the possibility of grand spectacle on a globalized scale, such as MGP Live’s tours of classic gaming soundtracks, Its current show Assassin’s Creed Symphony, based on the historic action-adventure series (and co-developed with its creators, Ubisoft) premiered in Paris over the summer and elicited a six-minute standing ovation at the Palais des Congrès. It is now embarking on an autumn tour of the US and Europe, with a full international tour planned next year. The company works with local musicians, rather than transporting an 80-piece instrumental and choral line-up from country to country….
…Video game concerts may in fact offer a financially savvy form of ‘future-proofing’ for traditional orchestras. A recent GlobalData reported estimated that video games could be a $300bn industry by 2025.And with each passing year and the library of games growing, the bigger the repertoire MGP Live will have to draw on. The Assassin’s Creed Symphony draws on a series that spans more than a decade, and blends what Goletta describes as ‘the epic beauty and drama of the themes.’ He enthuses, ‘There are parallels with Beethoven and Bach, then elements of world music–along with the nostalgic effect.”
The London Video Game Orchestra’s website is here.
An investigation into a stuntwoman’s death on the Vancouver set of Deadpool 2 has attributed her fatal motorcycle accident to a series of safety errors.
Government agency WorkSafeBC said the film’s makers should have ensured Joi Harris was wearing a helmet.
It also said barriers should have been in place to stop her “leaving the set perimeter” on 14 August 2017.
20th Century Fox, which made the 2018 film, said it “respectfully disagree[d] with some of the report’s findings”.
“Safety is our top priority, and while we respectfully disagree with some of the report’s findings, Fox thoroughly reviewed its stunt safety protocols immediately following the tragic accident and has revised and implemented enhanced safety procedures and enforcement,” it said in a statement.
Professional road racer Harris was killed while doubling for actress Zazie Beetz in the comic book-inspired sequel.
Over 50 years ago, on the night of 4 October, strange lights appeared over the sky of a small Canadian fishing village.
Witnesses watched as the lights flashed and then dived towards the dark waters off the coast of Nova Scotia.
Now, what some believe to have been a UFO sighting has been commemorated by the Royal Canadian Mint.
The mint has released a collector’s coin that tells the story of a “unique and mysterious event”.
The scene on the glow-in-the-dark coin depicts a specific moment described by various eyewitnesses.
After seeing four strange flashing lights in the offshore night sky, they spotted an object 60-feet in length flying low, which dropped down at a 45 degree angle.
The coin comes with a flashlight that when used brings out the lights of the UFO, the stars in the night sky, and a haze over the water reported by locals.
FIXER UPPER. Girl on the Third Floor is due out October 25, streaming, or
limited theatrical release.
At the heart of the film is Don Koch (CM Punk), a man who is failing as a husband. For years he has skated by on charm and charisma, until it nearly landed him in jail. He now views fixing up an old house as a chance to make up for past mistakes. Meanwhile, his wife, Liz Koch, is concerned about the renovation timeline as they have a baby on the way. With all this pressure it’s no wonder Don responds to the flirtations of an attractive stranger. As Don tears the house apart, it begins to tear him apart as well, revealing the rot behind the drywall.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Rob Thornton, SF
Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian,
Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes
to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little.]
By Martin Morse Wooster: On August 25 I went to a Noir at the Bar, a short story reading for mystery writers held at a Busboys and Poets in Shirlington in Washington’s Virginia suburbs. The event drew about 60 people. It was sponsored by Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, which donated 50 copies of their September/October 2019 issue and a year’s subscription to a lucky raffle winner (not me).
The event had a strong Ellery Queen presence among the eight
readers of short stories. The organizer
was Josh Pachter, who has been selling short stories to Ellery Queen and other mystery magazines for over 50 years; his
first sale to Ellery Queen in 1968
made him, at 17, the magazine’s second-youngest contributor in the magazine’s
78-year history. In addition, Pachter
has published 20 translations in mystery magazines of stories by Dutch,
Flemish, and Spanish authors.
Every year Ellery Queen holds a “Reader’s Award,” which is their version of
the Analytical Laboratory. All three
winners of the 2018 Reader’s Award—Pachter, David Dean, and Stacy Woodson—read
at the event. Woodson was the
first-place winner, and the first person to win the Reader’s Award with her
first story. Also present from ElleryQueen was Kristopher Zgorski, who writes a column about blogs
mystery readers would find interesting.
Of the eight writers who read,
clearly the best was Shawn A. Cosby, an African-American author whose day job
is working in his family’s funeral home, where he deals with a great many
clients who were prisoners. Cosby’s sharply
etched story dealt with the problems felons face when they are released from
prison. I’d like to hear more from
him. I’ll give second and third prizes
to Pachter and David Dean, a former police chief who read his story about a deal
gone sour in a passable Irish accent. I
thought the other stories were OK, although I could have done without the one
about a two-year-old who flunks toilet training in a spectacularly disgusting
E.A. Aymar had the most
imaginative story, which was a Choose Your Own Adventure style of fiction. A criminal gets stewed in a bar. Do we want him to a) get even more wasted or
b) do something pointlessly stupid and violent?
Well, guess what the audience wanted!
Busboys and Poets promises to let
Noir at the Bar meet quarterly if the customers bought enough meals. Based on the crowd, I’m pretty sure the
event will be held again.
Martin Morse Wooster: If you’re wondering why there are
so many musicals based on movies, blame the New York Times.
winter I read Razzle Dazzle, a very
entertaining oral history of Broadway between 1900-1990 by Michael Riedel. According to Riedel, when Beauty and theBeast was released, Times critic Frank Rich said the film was “the
best Broadway musical” released that year.
The suits at Disney headquarters read Rich’s review and thought to
themselves, “Hmmm! Turning our movies
into musical theater! What a really good
idea!” And so the Disney Theatrical Group was born.
is the second Disney musical I’ve seen, after The
Little Mermaid. But while The Little Mermaid was the theatrical
equivalent of AAA baseball, Aladdin
was the national tour that played at the Kennedy Center Opera House, a 3,000-seat
knew this was an upscale evening when I stopped to buy a CD and refrigerator
magnet. Disney wouldn’t sell me a CD: I
could only buy it as part of a package that included a program that was very
pretty but that I really didn’t want to buy.
the store was full of schwag! Had I
wanted to, I could have gotten the official Aladdin
fleece blanket, the lamp, the dolls, the teddy bear, the expensive dolls… I didn’t see anyone buy any of this stuff, but
they wouldn’t make it if people weren’t buying it.
for the musical, the score is by Alan Menken, who’s written scores for a DVD
shelf full of Disney musicals. His first
collaborator was Howard Ashman, who wrote the lyrics for Beauty and The Beast and The
Little Mermaid (and, pre-Disney, Little
Shop ofHorrors). But Ashman died of AIDS in 1991 while Aladdin
was in development, so Sir Tim Rice was brought in as lyricist. To my mind, Sir Tim is a lesser lyricist than
Ashman, but he wrote the lyrics for “A Whole New World,” which is the greatest
Disney power ballad of all time and which won an Oscar.
the stage version of Aladdin, which
premiered in 2014, Chad Beguelin was brought in for a new book and some new
songs. In the stage version, Howard
Ashman wrote the lyrics for five songs, Sir Tim Rice wrote two, Chad Beguelin
wrote four, and the rest were collaborations.
bought the CD/program, here are some secrets from it. Remember the great Max Fleischer cartoon
where Popeye met Aladdin and the genie?
That’s the genesis of this musical.
You’re supposed to detect traces of Fats Waller and Cab Calloway in the
yes, the genie is black.
As for the plot—well, come on, you know the plot. Disney released the Aladdin remake last month! The smarter question is: what are you getting on stage that you aren’t
getting in a movie theatre?
the book has quite a lot of snark in it.
Beguelin does indeed rhyme “awful” with “falafel.” And if you want more Mediterranean food
jokes, there were some for hummus and baba ganoush.
there’s dancing! Lots and lots of
dancing! Aladdin has three sidekicks,
and boy do they dance! They make a
“Dancing With The Stars” joke in Aladdin,
except here it’s “Dancing With The Scimitars,” and yes, they dance with
what made Aladdin work was the sets
and the direction. Casey Nicholaw
directed; he got a Tony for this show and another Tony for The Book of Mormon. The set
designer was Bob Crowley, who has done a lot of work for the National Theatre
and the Royal Shakespeare Company in Britain.
time I saw one of Crowley’s brightly colored sets, I told myself, “This is
cool.” And the flying carpet was very cool.
for the performers, two stood out. Korey
Lee Blossey was the genie I saw; he’s actually the understudy but was fully
prepared for the demanding part and even did a cartwheel on stage just to prove
he could. Jonathan Weir played the
villain Jafar; he’s done a lot of work in Chicago and has a great voice. He reminded me of Jonathan Harris in “Lost in
theatre critic Nelson Pressley called Aladdin
a “Big Gulp XL” of a musical, and when I watched it, I felt the same way I feel
when the free Cherry Coke kicks in after a Saturday afternoon at the movies. Aladdin wasn’t great art, but a very well
made, high-quality entertainment with plenty of first-rate singing, dancing,
a word about Disney. A Financial Times article recently
referred to Disney as “the apex predator” of entertainment, but the reason they
got to the top is because they hire first-rate talent and give them a chance to
show their excellence. Yes, Disney has
stinkers (OK, I saw Cars 3) but more
often than not their productions work.
suspect Frozen will be the nest
Disney Theatrical Group production to come to Washington. I can’t wait to see it.
The best bit of ancient gossip in Razzle
Dazzle is about David Belasco, who was the lion of Broadway in 1910 but is
only remembered because he wrote the plays Puccini turned into Madama Butterfly and The Girl of the Golden West. According to Riedel, Belasco liked wandering
around wearing a priest’s vestments. No
one knows why, but one likely reason is that Belasco thought the vestments
would attract women.
Yes, I saw the new Aladdin. It’s good, but The Lion King is much better.
(1) FOR PARENTS OF TEENS AT WORLDON. A Facebook group has been created for parents who will
have minors at Dublin 2019, to set up reciprocal chaperoning arrangements: Dublin2019parents.
This COMPLETELY UNOFFICIAL group is for parents of young people who will be attending Dublin2019, an Irish Worldcon, to discuss the logistics of Kids In The Space. We all want to have a great time, make sure our offspring are safe, and work within the rules set forth by the convention regarding unaccompanied children and responsible adults. Let’s collaborate!
(2) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading
series presents Paul Witcover & Lara Elena Donnelly on Wednesday, August 21,
2019, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar. Chandler Klang Smith & Mercurio D. Rivera will
be subbing for hosts Ellen Datlow and Matt Kressel, who will be traveling.
Paul Witcover is the author of five novels, most recently The Watchman of Eternity. He has been a finalist for the Nebula, World Fantasy, and Shirley Jackson awards. He hopes one day to win something!
Lara Elena Donnelly
Lara Elena Donnelly is the author of the Nebula- Lambda, and Locus-nominated trilogy The Amberlough Dossier, as well as short fiction and poetry appearing in venues including Strange Horizons, Escape Pod, Nightmare, and Uncanny. Lara teaches at the Catapult Classes in New York City and is a thesis adviser in the MFA program at Sarah Lawrence College.
Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.) New York, NY.
(3) WATCHMEN COMIC-CON TRAILER. Watchmen debuts on HBO this
There is a vast and insidious conspiracy at play…. From Damon Lindelof and set in an alternate history where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws, this drama series embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name while attempting to break new ground of its own. The cast includes Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Jean Smart, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Hong Chau, Andrew Howard, Tom Mison, Frances Fisher, Jacob Ming-Trent, Sara Vickers, Dylan Schombing, and James Wolk.
I wholly endorse Tim Kreider’s views and mourn Mad’s effective demise to the extent it ceases the publication of new material.
As the beneficiary of slightly distracted conservative parents, I subscribed to and have collected Mad since I was a preteenager. Bill Gaines’s “usual gang of idiots” offered intellectual freedom from the confining dictates of the 1950s, and that freedom continues to inform my thinking.
The art was as meticulous as the writing. Each artist’s style was perfectly attuned to the text of the particular piece. What can compare to George Woodbridge’s illustrations of hippies and beatniks?
In contrast to so many publications, those many issues of Mad reflect no typographical errors, misspellings, grammatical mistakes or instances of poor usage, unless intentional. At least I have never spotted any.
Literate, entertaining, enlightening and inspirational.
Barbara Jaffe New York The writer is a New York State Supreme Court justice.
Loser: Veronica Mars (Hulu) Surprise! All episodes of the highly anticipated revival are available to stream a week early! In what was designed as a reward for diehard fans of the Kristen Bell-led series from creator Rob Thomas, those packed into Ballroom 20 were delighted at the early arrival before likely realizing they’d be unable to stream it given that they already had weekend plans — at Comic-Con — and would likely be spoiled by that heartbreaking finale. The early drop was a regular topic on Friday but by Saturday, it had already been drowned out amid a glut of hundreds of other film, TV, video game and comic book panels and trailers.
The Comic-Con Blood Drive was the most successful ever:
(7) FULL LID REFILLED. Blade
Runners, alien invasions of several kinds
and the retirement of an all-time great are all part of this week’s “The Full Lid 19th July 2019”. Alasadair Stuart outlines
what’s inside —
We open with a look at the first issue of Titan Comics’ Blade Runner 2019 featuring a new member of the division with some very new problems. Then we’re off to curdled suburban horror with Jeremy C. Shipp’s superbly unsettling Bedfellow. A house guest turns a family’s lives on their heads, but he’s always been there, hasn’t he? An uncle, a brother, a god, a monstrous cuckoo nesting in their lives. Marv is here to stay and a superbly unsettling villain.
Then we salute the comics career of Alan Moore, godfather of the UK scene, film-maker, actor, magic user and architect of an age. But for all his legendary skill and gravitas, Moore is a hell of a comedian and my favorite work of his falls in that field. Finally, with the recent and much deserved Clarke Award win, we re-run the review of Tade Thompson’s excellent Rosewater from last year. Rounded out with the latest work from Anne Fortune, Claire Rousseau and You Suck At Cooking, that’s the Full Lid for the week.
The Verge spoke with Lego designer Simon Kent recently, who explained that he and his colleagues recently visited with NASA engineers and personnel to compare their toys against the real spaceships, rovers, and space stations currently in operation today. “Across the company, space is such a big theme, that we can tap into it in many different ways, whether its a plaything like Lego City, or a display model that goes into the fine details of the spacecraft’s design,” like the recently-released Apollo 11 Lunar Lander [list price $99.99].
(9) THAT’S NOTABLE, NOT NOTORIOUS. Camestros Felapton fills
everyone in about “Today’s
right wing author meltdown…” which commenced when Michael Z. Williamson
learned his Wikipedia entry was slated for deletion on grounds that he is not
sufficiently notable. In fact, the page has been deleted and restored pending debate
while this has been going on.
Last night Michael Z. Williamson’s blog was brought to my attention, who if you are unfamiliar with him, was (is) one of the pioneering fiction writers in the wild west of the early-mid 2010s who bucked the system of social justice-focused “woke” writing in order to focus on craft and excellent storytelling.
Now, years later, big tech is taking its revenge on Michael as they’ve deleted his wikipedia page.
Christopher C. Kraft Jr. — NASA’s first flight director and a legendary scientist who helped build the nation’s space program — died Monday, just two days after the world celebrated the historic Apollo 11 walk on the moon. He was 95.
“#RIP Dr. Christopher Kraft,” former astronaut Clayton Anderson posted on Twitter soon after. “You were a true leader for this nation and our world. So glad you were able to witness #Apollo50th…we felt your presence everywhere.
“Godspeed and thank you.”
Kraft’s name is emblazoned in bold letters on the side of the mission control building at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, home to the base of operations where Kraft guided astronauts from launch to landing as the organization grew to a full-blown agency that required multiple flight directors to oversee a mission.
…During an era with no calculators and only rudimentary computers, Kraft essentially built NASA’s mission control to manage human operations in space. As the agency’s sole flight director, with a simple black-and-white monitor and listening to eight different communications loops, he had the final say for NASA’s first five manned missions, including the Mercury flights of Alan Shepard and John Glenn.
(11) HEDISON OBIT. Actor David Hedison, best known for his
role in Sixties sci-fi series Voyage To The Bottom of the Sea, hdied
July 18 at the age of 92 reports Deadline.com. He also was in the original version of horror sci-fi
classic The Fly.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 22, 1881 — Margery Williams. The Velveteen Rabbit (or How Toys Become Real) is the work that is by far her best known work. Is it genre? Sure. And it has been adapted as video, audio and theatre myriad times. One audio version was narrated by Meryl Streep with music by George Winston. (Died 1944.)
Born July 22, 1912 — Stephen Gilbert. His final novel, Ratman’s Notebooks was adapted as the Willard film. Thirty’s years later, it was made into a film yet again. Kindle has most of his books available, iBooks just Ratman’s Notebooks. (Died 2010.)
Born July 22, 1932 — Tom Robbins, 87. Author of such novels as Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and Another Roadside Attraction. ISFDB lists everything he’s done as genre and who am I to argue with them? Now Jitterbug Perfume, that’s genre!
Born July 22, 1941 — Vaughn Bodé. Perhaps best known for the Cheech Wizard character and his art depicting erotic women. For our purposes, he’s a contemporary of Ralph Bakshi and has been credited as a major influence on Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings and Wizards. He’s been inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 1975.)
Born July 22, 1944 — Nick Brimble, 75. His first genre role was in Lust for a Vampire as the First Villager. He next shows up in Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound as The Monster. He’s Sir Ectot in A Knight’s Tale which I really be it genre or not. His lastest film genre role is as Dr. Zellaby in Soulmate, and he’s the voice of Owsla in the Watership series.
Born July 22, 1959 — Nigel Findley. He was a game designer, editor, and an author of science fiction and fantasy novels and RPGs. He was also part of the original core group of Shadowrun RPG core group and has sole writing credit on both sourcebooks and Shadowrun world novels. Yes, I played Shadowrun, a most enjoyable experience. (Died 1995.)
Born July 22, 1972 — Colin Ferguson, 47. Best known for being Sheriff Jack Carter on Eureka. I miss that series. Did it win any Hugos? He’s also been in Are You Afraid of the Dark, The Hunger, The X-Files, The Outer Limits, the Eureka “Hide and Seek” webisodes (anyone seen these?) and The Vampire Diaries.
Born July 22, 1976 —Karen Cliche, 43. She’s known for her roles on Flash Gordon, Mutant X, Vampire High and Young Blades. She’s does two horror films, Pact with the Devil and Saw VI.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Cul de Sac shows how hard it can be to be a space flight dreamer.
(14) GRRM AND FORBIDDEN PLANET. The Irish Film Institute
will start selling tickets to this event on Thursday:
There’s gratuitous swearing, Joker shooting someone at point-blank range, and he’s taking a shot to the groin courtesy of Harley? Yeah, I can see why Kaley Cuoco wanted to get the warning out on her Instagram, especially when the animation for Harley Quinn looks like something DC would run on Cartoon Network in primetime.
A suggestion for a mass search for the Loch Ness Monster later this year has gone viral on social media, and caused concern for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute.
On Facebook, about 18,000 people say they are going to a Storm Loch Ness event with 38,000 “interested”.
It has been inspired by Storm Area 51, an idea tens of thousands of people could storm a US Air Force base to uncover the truth to a UFO conspiracy.
But Loch Ness RNLI is warning of the dangers of the loch’s deep water.
Concerned that hundreds, or even thousands, of people head out on to the loch for Storm Loch Ness on 21 September, the volunteer crew said it could not match the resources being used by the US military to deal with Storm Area 51.
Many readers may find the plots of some SF novels deeply implausible. “Who,” they ask, “would send astronauts off on an interstellar mission before verifying the Go Very Fast Now drive was faster than light and not merely as fast as light? Who would be silly enough to send colonists on a one-way mission to distant worlds on the basis of very limited data gathered by poorly programmed robots? Who would think threatening an alien race about whom little is known, save that they’ve been around for a million years, is a good idea?”
Some real people have bad ideas; we’re lucky that comparatively few of them become reality. Take, for example, a proposal to send humans to Venus. Not to land, but as a flyby.
So yeah, there’s a lot of great works to be nominated for this award, and this year’s shortlist contains some pretty good works, including one book again that was one of my favorites from all of last year, one book that I really really liked, one I enjoyed a good bit which will probably win it all, and two other books that are at least solid – really only one nominee of the bunch do I think is unworthy, although I can understand why it’s nominated. All in all, this award will give recognition to a work that definitely deserves it, which is the point of the matter.
Kazakhstan’s drive to obtain government access to everyone’s internet activity has raised concerns among privacy advocates.
Last week, telecoms operators in the former Soviet republic started informing users of the “need” to install a new security certificate.
Doing so opens up the risk that supposedly secure web traffic could be decrypted and analysed.
Some users say the move has significant privacy and security problems.
Much of the concern focuses on Kazakhstan’s human rights record, which is considered poor by international standards.
…A statement from the Ministry of Digital Development said telecoms operators in the capital, Nur-Sultan, were carrying out technical work to “enhance protection” from hackers, online fraud and other cyber-attacks.
It advised anyone who had trouble connecting to some websites to install the new security certificate, from an organisation called Quaznet Trust Network.
…One user filed a bug report with Mozilla, maker of the internet browser Firefox, characterising the move as a “man in the middle” cyber-attack and calling for the browser to completely ban the government certificate.
(22) REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE. Frequent contributor Martin Morse Wooster says:
“I have a question I want to ask Filers but it’s guaranteed not to provoke a flame war. My question:
“I would like to eat more tomatoes. What are the best recipes Filers have for using tomatoes from the farmers’ market?
“I am very serious about this.”
Your culinary advice is welcome in comments.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin
Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Darrah Chavey, James Davis Nicoll, Carl
Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]
By Martin Morse Wooster: Theaters
in Washington have their specialties, but Washington’s Constellation Theatre Company
is at its best when it does productions of plays by Mary Zimmerman based on
fables. I’ve seen all sorts of
productions from Constellation, including one of The Skin of Our Teeth I previously reviewed here and a
production of Sarah Ruhl’s Melancholy
Play which was the worst six hours I spent in the theatre in 2018 (well, it
felt like six hours—the play was 100
the best work I’ve seen from Constellation is when they perform works by Mary
Zimmerman. Zimmerman teaches at
Northwestern and won a MacArthur Fellowship.
She’s written about 20 plays and has at least one Metropolitan Opera
commission. She also did an adaptation
of Disney’s Jungle Book for the theatre
that I’d really like to see. I don’t
know if all of Zimmerman’s plays are fantasy, but the two I’ve seen are.
The White Snake
was originally premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2012 and has had
productions in Chicago, New York, and Baltimore before coming to
Washington. The program told me that the
story is considered one of China’s “Four Great Folktales” and that the version
familiar to us was written by Fang Menglong in 1624, based on stories that were
probably composed around 300. Looking at “Legend of the White Snake” in
Wikipedia, I learned that the story has been turned into about a dozen Chinese
movies and TV shows and was once the subject of a novella by E. Hoffman Price.
story begins with the White Snake, a mythical creature (I don’t know if she is
a god in Chinese mythology) who has obtained enlightenment after 1,500 years of
studying the Tao. But she wants to
experience the human world, so with her sidekick the Green Snake, they assume
human form, with the Green Snake becoming “Greenie,” the White Snake’s
sidekick. The White Snake falls in love,
and we see her and her boyfriend and future husband enjoying the dragon races
before marrying and settling down to raise a family.
the Abbot, who has a lot of mystical power, wants to complicate things. The abbot isn’t a villain—he just thinks
having humanoid snakes running around his town is a bad idea. So he persuades the White Snake’s husband to
come to the monastery in a subterfuge.
The White Snake and the abbot then have a cosmic battle that will
determine whether she will live in our world or have to go back to hers.
one point Zimmerman pulls back the curtain and gives us a sense of how this
drama would have been performed in China.
The Green Snake is ready to help her friend, and makes her hand into a
fist. But a pedant comes out with a
scroll and explains that the green snake’s fist is a special fist, one with the
pinky finger and forefinger slightly raised.
This makes the fist a particularly powerful one, with hands in a
position that is normally restricted to men.
So my guess is that if I saw The
White Snake in China, I’d see the same story but much more stylized.
leads—Eunice Bae as the White Snake, Momo Nakamura as the Green Snake, and Ryan
Sellers as the Abbot—were all good, and Alison Arkell Stockman competently
directed the production.
But what made the production memorable is the
music. Constellation long ago made a
deal with Tom Teasley, a really talented percussionist, to provide the scores for
some of their productions. Teasley is a
one-man band who is very good at what he does.
For this production, he worked with Chao Tian, who plays the Chinese
dulcimer; the two of them together perform as Dong Xi or “East West.” Teasley told me that their score was not
improvised at the beginning and end of the show because of light cues but much
of what I heard was improvisation. While
The White Snake was good, Teasley and
Tian’s score made the show memorable.
hope more of Mary Zimmernan’s work makes its way to Washington. She is someone whose plays fantasy lovers