Pixel Scroll 9/12/18 Pleonasmatic

(1) MAGIC ON DISPLAY. Sean McLachlan reviews the exhibit of “Magical Items at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum” for Black Gate.

A new exhibition at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum showcases 180 real-life magical items.

Spellbound: Magic, Ritual & Witchcraft explores the history of magic from the early modern era to the present day through objects ranging from Renaissance crystal balls to folk charms against witchcraft. It looks at basic human needs such as fear of death and desire for love, and how people have used magic to try to get what they need.

The exhibition also turns the question of magic and superstition back on the viewer. In the entrance hallway, you are invited to step under a ladder or go around it. The museum is counting how many people dare to tempt fate. I did, and I hope they post the statistics when the exhibition is over!

(2) WHEEL OF TIME TV. Adam Whitehead shares his notes at The Wertzone: “WHEEL OF TIME TV showrunner hosts Q&A”.

Wheel of Time showrunner Rafe Judkins has hosted a Q&A on Twitter, where he invited fans to pitch him questions about the show. Given that the project is still in an early stage of pre-production, a lot of questions couldn’t be answered, but some interesting tidbits were dropped about how he sees the project moving forwards.

The current status of the project:

Judkins confirmed that the show is in development at with Amazon (via, as we know already, Sony TV Studios) but it has not yet been formally greenlit, either for a full first season or a pilot. As such, things like production timelines, timetables for casting and when we might get to see the show all remain up in the air.

Judkins notes that he is now able to talk about the show in a way he couldn’t a couple of months ago, and that indeed something has changed to facilitate this….

(3) QUITE A BUNCH. At NYR Daily, “David Bunch’s Prophetic Dystopia”, an overview adapted from Jeff VanderMeer’s introduction to the new Bunch collection.

…That these tales come off as a seamless meld of the eccentric poetics of E.E. Cummings, the genius-level invention of Philip K. Dick, and the body horror of Clive Barker perhaps explains both why they remain vital today and why they were characterized as “fringe” during Bunch’s career. They are wild, visceral, and sui generis, without the signifiers of a particular era that might provide anchors for mystified readers. Popular contemporaries like Samuel R. Delany, Ursula K. Le Guin, and even James Tiptree Jr. ameliorated the strangeness of their work with the scaffolding or appearance of more familiar plotlines, even as they wrote stories generally from the point of view of marginalized groups. Bunch, by contrast, foregrounded lyricism over plot and chose to write from the potentially unsympathetic viewpoint of a hyper-aggressive warmonger—a viewpoint clearly quite far from his own. Even his authorial stand-in, the nameless writer of the fictional introduction to this volume, has monstrous qualities.

Nothing quite like the Moderan stories had been written before and nothing like them has been written since….

(4) NARNIA LETTER. Brenton Dickieson spotted a bit of literary history on sale: “For £5,000 You Can Own A Piece of Narnia: New C.S. Lewis Letter Surfaces”.

That’s right, Dominic Winter Auctioneers is putting a newly surfaced letter from C.S. Lewis on the auction block. It is a great artifact, as The Daily Mail reports, a generous and light bit of Narnian delight as Lewis answers some questions from schoolchildren at Grittleton House School in Wiltshire. The auctioneers have made photographs of this short, two-page 22 May 1952 letter. The children of Grittleton House–who Lewis calls Grittletonians–were no doubt curious after the release of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) and Prince Caspian: Return to Narnia (1951). Not only did Lewis assure them that The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader (1952) would be out in a few months, but that there would be seven stories in all.

Although the letter is very much like one sent to Michael Irwin just a couple of months previously (25 Mar 1952), there are a couple of things really worth noting here….

His post includes stats of the letters.

(5) SUPERMAN OUT, SUPERGIRL IN. Tatiana Siegel and Borys Kit, in The Hollywood Reporter’s story “Henry Cavill Out as Superman Amid Warner Bros.’ DC Universe Shake-Up”, say that Warner Bros. has removed Henry Cavill from any future movies as Superman because a cameo by him in Shazam! didn’t work out and DC wants to do a Supergirl origin movie next and put off doing anything with Superman for several years.

Warners had been trying to enlist Cavill, who most recently co-starred in Mission: Impossible — Fallout, for a Superman cameo in Shazam!, which stars Zachary Levi and will bow April 5. But contract talks between Cavill’s WME reps and Warners broke down, and the door is now closing on other potential Superman appearances.

That’s because the studio has shifted its focus to a Supergirl movie, which will be an origin story featuring a teen superheroine. This effectively removes an actor of Cavill’s age from the storyline’s equation given that Superman, aka Kal-El, would be an infant, according to DC lore.

Furthermore, Warners isn’t likely to make a solo Superman film for at least several years, according to another source. “Superman is like James Bond, and after a certain run you have to look at new actors,” says a studio source.

(6) VEGGIE OVERLOAD. Laura Anne Gilman makes a simple request at Book View Café: “A Meerkat Rants: No More Kale, Please.”

Let me admit this shameful fact up front.  I like kale. No, really, I do.  It’s not an easy-to-love vegetable, I’ll agree, but if you know how to buy and handle it, you can get tender, sharp-yet-tasty roughage that serves a variety of salads (including my fave: baby kale and pear with white wine vinaigrette).

But I don’t want it every week. Hell, I don’t want anything food-wise, every single week without fail.

But then I went and joined a CSA.

CSA, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, stands for community supported agriculture.  Basically, you pay a set fee, and get a box of whatever the local farms have on-offer, on a seasonal basis….

(7) VERSE THE CURSE. Charles Payseur interviews Aidan Doyle — “Quick Questions – Aidan Doyle of Sword and Sonnet”. Doyle co-edited the Sword and Sonnet anthology with Rachael K. Jones and E. Catherine Tobler.

So why battle poets?

AD: I liked the idea of poetry being used as a magic system. Sei Sh?nagon was one of the original inspirations for my idea of what a battle poet could be. She wrote The Pillow Book, one of the classics of Japanese literature and was renowned for intimidating the men of Heian-era Japan with her knowledge of poetry. I hadn’t seen any other anthologies that covered a similar theme. After we announced the Kickstarter, there were many writers who told us they were particularly excited by the theme.

(8) DIY STEAMPUNK DÉCOR. Clickbait time at Homedit“21 Cool Tips To Steampunk Your Home”.

The steampunk style is not one of the most well known in terms of interior design. Maybe that’s because many of us don’t even know which are the basic details that define this concept. When I say steampunk, I remember about the Victorian era, with all the inventions back then, but the meaning of this word would be incomplete without the industrial details.

In essence, this trend is a mixture between elegant Victorian interior accessories and the strength of industrial elements. Maybe you remember about Joben Bistro, that beautiful pub from Romania. It’s an inspiration for us….

The fifth tip is –

  1. Buy a terrestrial globe (in case you don’t have one already)

Make sure it’s old and very used. It would be one of the most popular items in the house, and kids would love to spin it over and over again.

(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

The town of Santa Claus, Indiana, changed its name in 1856 from Santa Fe, which was already taken, to get its own post office. As a result many of the town’s street names are Christmas-themed, including Sled Run, Blitzen Lane and Melchior Drive. Source: Wikipedia

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 12, 1958 The Blob got loose in theaters.
  • September 12, 1993Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” premiered on TV.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 12, 1921 – Stanislaw Lem. Polish writer whose The Man from Mars was a first contact novel, other genre works include Solaris, and two short story collections, Fables for Robots and The Cyberaid. His later years are marked by his anti-technological views including outright opposition to the internet. In 1973, he was made an honorary member of SFWA (later rescinded).
  • Born September 12 —John Clute, 78. Critic, reviewer and writer. Some of his reviews are in his early collection, Strokes. I’ll  single out The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction which he co-edited with Peter Niicholls and The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (John Grant, co-editor) which I think are still really awesome. Oh and The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror is fucking amazing! I’ve not read his fiction so I welcome your opinions on it.
  • Born September 12 – William Goldman, 87. Writer of The Princess Bride which he adapted as a screenplay. He also wrote the screenplays for Misery and The Stepford Wives. His late brother is James Goldman who wrote The Lion in Winter and Robin and Marian.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) BOOKSTORE ON WHEELS. The thread starts here.

(14) PHILOSOPHICAL DILEMMAS. Eric Schwitzgebel’s guest post for Cat Rambo’s blog deals with an episode of The Good Place: “Eric Schwitzgebel Gives One-Point-Five Cheers for a Hugo Award for a TV Show about Ethicists’ Moral Expertise”.

When The Good Place episode “The Trolley Problem” won one of science fiction’s most prestigious awards, the Hugo, in the category of best dramatic presentation, short form, I celebrated. I celebrated not because I loved the episode (in fact, I had so far only seen a couple of The Good Place’s earlier episodes) but because, as a philosophy professor aiming to build bridges between academic philosophy and popular science fiction, the awarding of a Hugo to a show starring a professor of philosophy discussing a famous philosophical problem seemed to confirm that science fiction fans see some of the same synergies I see between science fiction and philosophy.

I do think the synergies are there and that the fans see and value them – as also revealed by the enduring popularity of The Matrix, and by West World, and Her, and Black Mirror, among others – but “The Trolley Problem”, considered as a free-standing episode, fumbles the job. (Below, I will suggest a twist by which The Good Place could redeem itself in later episodes.)

(15) A MEXICANX INTIATIVE LOOK AT W76. Alberto Chimal, part of the MexicanX Initiative at Worldcon 76, has written up his experience for Literal Magazine: “Fui a otro mundo y me traje esta camiseta” . (Here’s a link to a Google Translate English language versioncaveat emptor.)

….La delegación en la que estuve, compuesta por casi cincuenta artistas, escritores y lectores mexicanos y mexicoamericanos, pudo inscribirse y figurar en el programa de la convención gracias a un proyecto de fondeo y apoyo entre el propio fandom que se llamó The Mexicanx Initiative. Éste fue idea del artista John Picacio, ilustrador y portadista de larga carrera a quien se nombró invitado de honor de la Worldcon: es la primera vez que una persona de origen mexicano recibe esa distinción. Picacio, como muchas otras personas, ha observado la postura abiertamente racista y antimexicana del gobierno actual de los Estados Unidos, y cómo los exabruptos y tuits de su presidente, Donald Trump, están “normalizando” formas de odio y extremismo que hace menos de una década hubieran sido condenadas sin vacilación….

(16) OVER THE TRANSOM. JDA submits to Uncanny. Surprised it’s lasted this long — the title phrase is really too well-known to be called a dogwhistle.

(17) SPECIAL ISSUE. Charles Payseur finds an extra big serving of short fiction on his plate: “Quick Sips – Uncanny #24 Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction! [September Fiction]”.

Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction! is here!!! And with it comes a whole heck of a lot of fiction and poetry. To be specific, ten stories and ten poems. But, because this is also a regular issue of Uncanny, the work will be released publicly over two months. And so, to keep things manageable for me, I’m going to be tackling this extra-big issue in four parts—September fiction, September poetry, October fiction, and October poetry. So let’s dig in! The first half of the issue’s fiction is up and features five short stories touching on aliens, assistive devices, families, and a whole lot of disabled characters getting shit done. The work in these focuses primarily (for me, at least) on occupations and growing up. About facing down intolerance and violence and finding ways to find community, hope, and beauty in a universe that can often be ugly and cruel. So let’s get to the reviews!

(18) D&D MANGA. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog enumerates “14 Graphic Novels & Manga for Dungeons & Dragons Fans”.

Comics and fantasy role-playing games have shared a similar trajectory as of late: once considered distinctly nerdy pursuits and viewed as mildly disreputable by the broader culture (when they weren’t the subject of full-blown moral panics, anyway), they both have recently been thrust into the mainstream, whether via big budget movies or name-dropping teens on Netflix. Yet somehow, both forms of entertainment have maintained their legit geek cred.

The recent release of the graphic novel The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins illustrates (heh) the intersection perfectly: a number one New York Times’ bestseller based on a popular podcast that’s all about a family sitting around playing Dungeons & Dragons. With that in mind, we rolled a d20 to perform a skill check on the 13 great graphic novels below, and discovered they are all highly proficient in satisfying tabletop gamers looking for a fantasy fix between play sessions.

(19) NOVELLAS. At Nerds of a Feather, Adri Joy reviews two novellas published by The Book Smugglers: “Microreview [Books]: A Glimmer of Silver by Juliet Kemp and Accelerants by Lena Wilson”.

The Book Smugglers’ Novella Initiative line was a highlight of my novella reading in 2017, bringing a set of diverse, different stories with some interesting romance and a more YA sensibility to some of the entries than I’ve seen in other fiction of this length. I’ve been hoping throughout this year that we’d see more from the line, and in August my waiting was rewarded with this pair – with some bonus theming around the classical elements to really seal the deal!

Both Accelerants and A Glimmer of Silver deal with people on the cusp of adulthood in their own societies, whose choices are immediately constrained by the societies they live in.

(20) THREE ON A MATCH. Nerds of a Feather’s Joe Sherry gives quick verdicts on three books including Adrian Tchaikovsky’s latest: “Nanoreviews: The Skaar Invasion, Phoresis, The Expert System’s Brother”.

(21) BUY YOUR OWN HAMMER. Bonobos won’t share tools. Now I want to know what their policy is on books: “What’s Mine Is Yours, Sort Of: Bonobos And The Tricky Evolutionary Roots Of Sharing”.

An intriguing study published this week suggests that bonobos, among the closest relatives to humans, are surprisingly willing to hand over food to a pal. But they didn’t share tools.

The discovery adds a new wrinkle to scientists’ efforts to understand the evolutionary origins of people’s unusual propensity to help others.

“One of the things that is really striking about humans is how cooperative or helpful we are,” says Christopher Krupenye, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. “It’s just a really pervasive element of our behavior.”

Common chimpanzees (a related species that diverged from bonobos about 2 million years ago) do engage in some altruistic behavior. For example, it’s been shown that chimps will hand a tool that’s out of reach to a person who clearly is trying to get it — as will human children. So Krupenye and some colleagues recently repeated that experiment with bonobos in a sanctuary.

“Bonobos didn’t help at all,” says Krupenye. Instead, sometimes they would retrieve the tool but still keep it out of reach, showing it off in a teasing way. “They didn’t help, in this particular context.”

(22) PUTTING HUMANITY TO THE TEST. In fact, Margaret Atwood called on the internet for some help with a tool just yesterday. Is social media more or less evolved than bonobos? The thread starts here.

(23) SPARE CHANGE. Meanwhile, I will gladly pay you Tuesday for an Apple today: “6-Figure Price Tag Expected For Rare Apple-1 Computer At Auction”.

Before Apple was a trillion-dollar company, before its phones and laptops came to dominate the tech industry, it was just a California startup working out of a garage. Now, one of the first products the company ever made — the Apple-1 computer — is about to be the star of a live auction on Sept. 25 in Boston.

“The Apple-1 is so iconic of that era, of the garage era of Silicon Valley, that I think there is almost no other object that really encapsulates what it does culturally and technologically,” says Dag Spicer, senior curator for the Computer History Museum, which has an Apple-1 in its collection. Spicer says it’s one of their most popular pieces.

(24) LARPING. A photo essay about costumes, including some genre, at the Washington Post: “Inside the fantastical world of live-action role playing”:

What is LARP? It is an acronym for live-action role playing, a phenomenon inspired by fantasy board games, films, literature and computer games. People who are into LARP outfit themselves as their favorite characters such as orcs, dwarfs, zombies and vampires, among others. Photographer Boris Leist takes us into this world with his latest book, “LARP,” which will publish this year by Kehrer Verlag.

A few years ago, Leist met a man in the LARP community. The man was dressed as a dwarf, and Leist was impressed by the quality of the man’s costume and the passion he had for role playing. Although the man was an IT professional in real life, he was so committed to LARPing that he was taking a welding class so that he could build armor for himself. This passion and commitment inspired Leist to go deeper into the LARP community and meet more of its members. Leist ended up spending three years delving into that world and compiling portraits.

(25) SCARY GOOD. The Guardian has a great gallery of international posters from Harryhausen films: “A monster talent: Ray Harryhausen movie posters – in pictures”.

From roaring dinosaurs to clashing titans and flying saucers, the stop-motion genius made audiences gasp, shriek and doubt their eyes. Here are the best posters his groundbreaking movies inspired

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Lise A., Norman Cook, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Bill, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, StephenfromOttawa, David W., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John Hertz.]

Pixel Scroll 8/11/18 Pixel of Steel, Scroll of Kleenex

(1) BOURDAIN IN NARNIA. The New Yorker Recommends’ Helen Rosner links to “‘No Reservations: Narnia,’ a Triumph of Anthony Bourdain Fan Fiction”.

Of all the billions of pages that make up the Internet, one of my very favorites contains “No Reservations: Narnia,” a work of fan fiction, from 2010, by Edonohana, a pseudonym of the young-adult and fantasy author Rachel Manija Brown. The story is exactly what it sounds like: a pastiche of Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” and C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. Channelling the casual charisma of Bourdain’s first-person writing, Brown finds him visiting the stick-wattled burrow of sentient moles, where he dines on pavender (a saltwater fish of Lewis’s invention) and is drunk under the table by a talking mouse. He slurps down eel stew and contemplates the void with mud-dwelling depressives. Later, he bails on an appointment at Cair Paravel, the royal seat of Narnia, to bloody his teeth at a secretive werewolf feast.

“No Reservations: Narnia” (2010) begins —

I’m crammed into a burrow so small that my knees are up around my ears and the boom mike keeps slamming into my head, inhaling the potent scent of toffee-apple brandy and trying to drink a talking mouse under the table. But is it really the boom mike that’s making my head pound? I know for sure that my camera man doesn’t usually have two heads. I have to face facts. The mouse is winning.

Yesterday, I thought I knew what to expect from Narnia: good solid English cooking spiced up with the odd unusual ingredient, and good solid English people spiced up with the odd faun. And centaur. And talking animal. I’d longed to visit Narnia when I was a kid, but every time the notoriously capricious entry requirements, such as the bizarre and arbitrary lifetime limit on visits, relaxed the slightest bit, it would get invaded, get conquered, get re-conquered by the original rulers, or get hit by some natural disaster….

Cat Eldridge sent the links with a note: “Weirdly enough Rachel Manija Brown was once a reviewer for Green Man Review.

(2) TUNE IN THE HUGOS. Kevin Standlee outlined the “2018 Hugo Ceremony Coverage Plans” on the award’s official website.

The 2018 Hugo Awards Ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, August 19, 2018 at 8:00 PM North American Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7) in the McEnery Convention Center Grand Ballroom in San Jose, California. The ceremony is open to all attending members of Worldcon 76, with additional seating available in “Callahan’s Place” in the convention center Exhibit Hall.

The Hugo Awards web site will once again offer text-based coverage of the Hugo Awards ceremony via CoverItLive, suitable for people with bandwidth restrictions. For those with the bandwidth for it, Worldcon 76 San Jose plans to offer live video streaming of the Hugo Awards ceremony. Details of the live-streaming coverage will be available at the 2018 Worldcon web site.

The Hugo Awards web site coverage team of Kevin Standlee, Susan de Guardiola, and Cheryl Morgan plan to be “on the air” approximately fifteen minutes before the ceremony. You can sign up at the CoverItLive event site for an e-mail notification before the event starts. Remember that the CoverItLive text coverage is text-only, and is likely to not be in synch with the video streaming. Also, the CoverItLive team here at TheHugoAwards.org is not responsible for the video streaming coverage and cannot answer any questions about it.

(3) VISA PROBLEMS. Another example of security screening that interferes with cultural exchanges. The Guardian reports some authors are having exceptional difficulty getting visas to attend a book festival in Scotland: “Home Office refuses visas for authors invited to Edinburgh book festival”.

According to Barley, the dozen authors were asked to provide three years’ worth of bank statements to demonstrate financial independence, despite being paid to participate in the Edinburgh book festival, and having publishers and the festival guaranteeing to cover their costs while in the UK. Barley said any deposits that could not be easily explained were used as grounds to deny the authors’ visas; one had to reapply three times due to her bank statements.

“It is Kafkaesque. One was told he had too much money and it looked suspicious for a short trip. Another was told she didn’t have enough, so she transferred £500 into the account – and then was told that £500 looked suspicious. It shouldn’t be the case that thousands of pounds should be spent to fulfil a legitimate visa request. I believe this is happening to many arts organisations around the country, and we need to find a way around it.”

Barley called the situation humiliating, adding: “One author had to give his birth certificate, marriage certificate, his daughter’s birth certificate and then go for biometric testing. He wanted to back out at that point because he couldn’t bear it, but we asked him to continue. Our relationship with authors is being damaged because the system is completely unfit for purpose. They’ve jumped through hoops – to have their applications refused.”

The Scottish first minister called on the government to fix the problem: “Authors’ visa struggles undermine book festival, says Sturgeon”

Nicola Sturgeon has accused the UK government of undermining the Edinburgh international book festival by failing to resolve authors’ difficulties in obtaining visas.

The festival’s director, Nick Barley, has said some of the invited writers have been “humiliated” by the process they had to endure to get into the UK.

Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, who will take part in the event, tweeted on Thursday that the difficulties were “not acceptable” and the government “needs to get it sorted”.

Barley said about a dozen people had gone through an extremely difficult process to obtain a visa this year and several applications remained outstanding. The festival starts on Saturday and will feature appearances by 900 authors and illustrators from 55 countries.

Festival organisers provide assistance with visa applications and they have reported an increase in refusals over the past few years. Barley said one author had to supply his birth certificate, marriage certificate and his daughter’s birth certificate and go for biometric testing in order to get his visa.

He said the UK’s reputation as a global arts venue could be seriously hindered if problems in obtaining visas worsened after Brexit.

(4) DISCRIMINATION. David Farland (pseudonym of Dave Wolverton, currently the Coordinating Judge, Editor and First Reader for the Writers of the Future Contest), blogged about his view of “Discrimination in the Writing World”.

A few days ago, I saw a Facebook post from a woman who complained that she didn’t want to see panels by “boring, old, white, cisgender men” at the upcoming World Science Fiction Convention. Now, I’ve always fought against discrimination based on age, race, sexual orientation, and gender, so I was kind of surprised that this person managed to offend me at every single level. I can’t help it if I was born sixty years ago, male, white, and cisgender.

There is a concerted effort by some special interest groups to push certain agendas. More than twenty years ago, just before the Nebula awards, I remember hearing a woman talking to others, pointing out that if they all voted for a certain story by a woman, then she’d certainly win. Apparently the ethics of judging stories based upon the gender of the author eluded her, but it worked. The story written by the woman won.

With the Hugos, white men in particular are not even getting on the ballots, much less winning.

The question is, if you’re a writer, what do you do? What if you write a book, and you don’t fit in the neat little category that publishers want?

For example, what if you’re male and you want to write a romance novel? What are your chances of getting published? How well will you be welcomed into the writing community? Isn’t a good story a good story no matter who wrote it?

Apparently not. I had a friend recently who created a bundle of romance novels and put them up for sale. She had ten novels, nine by women and one by a man, and it sold terribly. Why? Because the nine female romance writers refused to even tell their fans about the bundle because there was a male author in the bundle. So instead of selling tens of thousands of bundles, as she expected, she sold only a few hundred.

Of course, discrimination is pretty well institutionalized in the publishing industry. By saying that it is institutionalized, what I mean is that in certain genres, your chances of getting published are based upon your gender.

(5) NICHOLS HAS DEMENTIA. Hope Schreiber, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story “Nichelle Nichols, actress who portrayed the iconic Lieutenant Uhura in ‘Star Trek,’ diagnosed with dementia”,  cites a TMZ report that Nichols is under the care of a conservator.

Nichelle Nichols, the actress who brought Lieutenant Uhura in Star Trek to life, has been diagnosed with dementia, according to conservatorship documents obtained by TMZ. She is 85 years old.

TMZ says that Dr. Meena Makhijani, a specialist in osteopathic medicine, has been treating Nichols for the last two to three years. According to Makhijani, the disease has progressed. Nichols has significant impairment of her short-term memory and “moderate impairment of understanding abstract concepts, sense of time, place, and immediate recall,” according to TMZ.

However, the actress’s long-term memory does not seem to be affected at this time, nor are her body orientation, concentration, verbal communication, comprehension, recognition of familiar people, or ability to plan and to reason logically.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 11 – Ian McDiarmid, 74. Star Wars film franchise including an uncredited appearance in The Empire Strikes Back, other genre appearances in DragonslayerThe Awakening (a mummies horror film with Charlton Heston), The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles series and reprising his SW role in the animated Star Wars Rebels series.
  • Born August 11 – Brian Azzarello, 56. Comic book writer. First known crime series 100 Bullets, published by Vertigo. Writer of DC’s relaunched Wonder Woman series several years back. One of the writers in the Before Watchmen limited series. Co-writer with Frank Miller of the sequel to The Dark Knight Returns,  The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
  • Born August 11 – Viola Davis, 53. Amanda ‘The Wall’ Waller in the first Suicide Squad film; also appeared in The Andromeda Strain, Threshold and Century City series, and the Solaris film.
  • Born August 11 – Jim Lee, 44. Korean American comic-book artist, writer, editor, and publisher.  Co-founder of Images Comics, now senior management at DC though he started at Marvel. Known for work on Uncanny X-Men, Punisher, Batman, Superman and WildC.A.T.s.
  • Born August 11 – Will Friedle, 44. Largely known as w actor with extensive genre work: Terry McGinnis aka the new Batman in Batman Beyond which Warner Animation now calls Batman of the Future, Peter Quill in The Guardians Of The Galaxy, Kid Flash in Teen Titans Go!, and Thundercats! to name but a few of his roles.
  • Born August 11 – Chris Hemsworth, 35. Thor in the MCU film franchise, George Kirk in the current Trek film franchise, and King Arthur in the Guinevere Jones series;  also roles in Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, Snow White and the Huntsman and its sequel The Huntsman: Winter’s War,

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) SAWYER’S SCHEDULE. Robert J. Sawyer clarified on Facebook his plans for Worldcon 76 in San Jose next week:

I’ll be there. However, many months ago I made a decision not to apply to be on programming. I don’t have a new book this year, and I figured there are lots of younger/newer/diverse writers who could use the panel slots I would have taken up.

This was meant to be a quiet, private choice, but since then, there’s been a big blowup about this year’s Worldcon programming (see http://file770.com/worldcon-76-program-troubles/), with people withdrawing from the program or complaining about not being put on it in the first place. My situation is neither of those (and the Worldcon programming has been redone to most people’s satisfaction now).

However, I will be making two public and one private appearances at the Worldcon, for those who want to see me or get books signed:

* On Friday, August 17, at noon, in room 210E at the Convention Center, I will be attending the unveiling of the new batch of Walter Day’s Science Fiction Historical Trading Cards, introducing the new authors being added to the set (I’m already on a card, as you can see); Walter Day will be giving away some of these collectible cards (including my own) to those who attend.

* Also on Friday, August 17, at 4:00 p.m., in the Dealers’ Room in the Convention Center, I will be autographing at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) table.

* And on Saturday, August 18, at 2:00 p.m., I’ll be hosting a meet-and-greet for my Patreon patrons; you can become a patron here, and get other cool perks, too: https://www.patreon.com/robertjsawyer

(9) AUSTRALIAN FANZINE ARCHIVE. Kim Huett reports, “The National Library of Australia not only has a significant fanzine collection, some of the librarians take an active interest in the fanzines in their care. Take for example this recent post which talks from an outsiders perspective about all sorts of Australian fanzines, some of which are actually about science fiction: “Fanzines For fans, by Fans”.

Fans of the TV shows, Star Trek and Doctor Who, have perhaps the best known examples of fandom in the mainstream but this isn’t where fanzines start. The fanzine Futurian observer was talking about a well-established Australian science fiction fan community back in 1940.

In a year in which the inescapable realities of war were everywhere, this little publication denounced ‘the threatening ban on magazines’, reported on Government ‘restrictions on pulp imports’ and referenced meetings in which quizzes and scientific discussions were star attractions.

One of the first lines in Issue #1 is a dire warning that Australian fans needed to be more engaged. In contrast, issue #35 talks about a parody newsletter from a convention that never happened and the author ‘hibernating’ from the ‘Sydney scene’ to avoid the ‘fighting, scratching and squabbling’.

You can read digitised copies of Futurian observer here.

Fanzines are a fascinating insight into the volatility of fan communities and how they operated at the time of publication.

(10) DOCTOR STRANGEMIND. Huett also sent a link to his own site with this introduction: “Anybody who is a fan of David Langford’s ‘As Others See Us’ segment in Ansible is going to really enjoy the latest installment of Doctor Strangemind. Have you ever wondered what the official Soviet line was in regards to science fiction? Well now you can read ‘The World Of Nightmare Fantasies’ and wonder no more: ’To Pervert & Stultify’. Really, I spoil you people,”

…I’ve reproduced the entire condensed version of The World Of Nightmare Fantasies here so you might enjoy the authors attempt to crush various butterflies of fiction with their rhetorical sledgehammer….

…The American Raymond F. Jones, experienced writer of “scientific” fantasies, attempts to lift the curtain of the future for the reader. He uses all his flaming imagination in describing a machine which analyses the inclinations , talents, character and other potentialities of a new-born infant. If it finds the child normal, it returns it to the arms of the waiting mother. If it finds a future “superman,” the mother will never see him again; he will be sent to a world “parallel” to ours where he will be raised without the help of parents. But woe to the baby the machine finds defective – it will be immediately destroyed. According to the “scientific” forecast of author Jones, a network of such machines will cover the world of the future.

This tale, monstrous in its openly fascistic tendency, appears in the American magazine Astounding, under the optimistic title of Renaissance. Jones’ fascist revelations are not an isolated instance in American science fiction literature. There are numerous such examples under the brightly colourful covers which enterprising publishers throw on the market in millions of copies. From their pages glares a fearful world, apparently conceived in the sick mind of an insane, a world of nightmare fantasies. Miasma, mental decay, fear of to-day and horror of the future: all these innumerable ills of capitalism are clearly reflected.

(11) WOTF. Past winner J.W. Alden says in his experience the Writers of the Future Contest was a tool of the Church of Scientology, no matter the public relations effort to portray them as separate: “Going Clearwater: The Illusory ‘Firewall’ of the Writers of the Future Contest”.

In 2016, I won Writers of the Future. At the time, I counted it as one of my proudest moments. A story I’d written, The Sun Falls Apart, took first place in a contest judged by some of the biggest names in the genre. I’m still proud of that part. Unfortunately, that sense of accomplishment was undermined by a negative experience which forced me to confront the actual nature of the contest: Writers of the Future is a Church of Scientology endeavor. I now believe its primary purpose is not to help emerging writers, but to further the aims of the church, primarily by promoting the name of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. I make no judgments on any individual’s religious beliefs, but since I won the contest, I have come to believe it exploits writers in pursuit of this goal….

The Firewall, many claim, exists to prevent the contest from becoming a platform for the church and to ensure there’s no proselytizing of winners–though one of the first things you learn when you go asking about the Firewall, is that it seems to mean different things to different people. It’s the Firewall that keeps the contest’s panel of judges onboard. The judges of this contest include big names in the genre–names like Brandon Sanderson, Orson Scott Card, Robert J. Sawyer, Larry Niven, and many more. Hence, it’s the Firewall that ultimately lends the contest legitimacy. In my opinion, the Firewall does not exist. Or at the very least, it doesn’t exist for everyone.

It didn’t exist for me.

After winning the contest he was asked to come to Clearwater, Florida and do a signing. Clearwater is home to the church’s Flag Service Organization.

And so, I’m not that surprised one afternoon when I receive a text message from Kate*, one of the employees of Author Services Inc., the (Church of Scientology-owned) organization that runs the contest. They ask if I’d be willing to take part in an event they describe as a “massive Barnes & Noble book signing” in Clearwater, FL in a few days. The last minute nature of this invitation seems odd, but not out of step with the general disorganization that winners grow used to when dealing with ASI. At first, I turn down this request. At the time, I live in the West Palm Beach area, and I’m not willing to drive across the state on such short notice. They respond by offering to fly me out and put me up in a hotel. At that point, I say, “Sure. Why not?” I mean, it’s just Barnes & Noble, right? Book signings are fun.

However, Alden says this is what really happened:

…After that, it’s finally time for the book signing . . . which is not taking place at a Barnes & Noble. It turns out the “Barnes & Noble signing event” is actually taking place here at the Fort Harrison Hotel, during a Scientology ceremony called “Flag Graduation.” Scientologists who underwent training at the Flag Building are having some kind of graduation ceremony. Part of the ceremonies will involve announcing my presence, then directing the congregation to my signing table for an autograph. After the day I’ve had, I am not shocked by this revelation. My belief in the Firewall has long since abandoned me. I am not happy about the bait and switch. But I’m not surprised, either.

I’m led into a huge conference room with a stage and hundreds of chairs. By the time we get there, it’s already packed full of Scientologists finding their seats. Tori leads me straight to the front row. At this point, I become genuinely worried about the possible public repercussions of this little trip. Just like in L.A., there are photographers and videographers everywhere. The thought of photos and video of me at an actual Church of Scientology event floating around somewhere is (at the time) concerning. What happens next tempers this concern somewhat, if only because it grants me the conviction that this is not the first Scientology event I’ve been photographed at. Before their graduation ceremony, they play a video of the Writers of the Future gala. A Church of Scientology official talks it up beforehand, citing it as part of L. Ron Hubbard’s legacy, with the underlying message that it’s one of the many Good Things the CoS is doing in the world. In other words, Writers of the Future (and not just the name–the video of the gala, the anthology, the words and likenesses of the winners) is used as internal propaganda at an official Church of Scientology event. That’s certainly how I interpreted it, anyway….

I first started telling the story above in private circles within the SFF writing community. Over the past two years, I’ve told it to fellow WotF winners, to friends at conventions, and in private online discussion groups. Most recently, I posted about it on Codex after Nick Mamatas and Keffy R.M. Kehrli spurred the aforementioned conversation on social media about the questionable aspects of the contest back in April. I also posted a couple of twitter threads around that time, in which I voiced frustrations about the contest and rage-faced over the revelation that unattributed quotations from Dianetics were included in Writers of the Future workshop materials. Since the tweetstorm, I’ve also been in discussion with former winners and even a few contest judges who reached out to me about it.

Since all of that started happening, I’ve also had run-ins with supporters of the contest who have accused me (and others) of trying to destroy it. Let me make one thing clear: I’m not trying to destroy Writers of the Future. For one, I don’t believe that is within my (or anyone’s) power, so even if that were my goal, I wouldn’t waste the effort. My goal is merely to inform emerging writers about the troublesome aspects of this contest, because I don’t think they’re talked about enough. That includes relating my own experience that bizarre weekend in Clearwater. If anyone sees that as an effort to delegitimize or destroy the contest, all I can say is this: if spreading the truth about something delegitimizes it, was it really legitimate in the first place? …

(12) MAIN AND OTHER STREAMS. Penguin Random House would be happy to sell you these “21 Books You’ve Been Meaning To Read”, a list with a surprising amount of sff. Not this first title, though. This one has been picked for its clever misspelling —

War and Peace

A legendary masterpiece, this book is synonymous with difficult reading, so why not challenge yourshelf.

(13) WRECK-IT RALPH RETURNS. Ralph Breaks the Internet – sneak peek.The movie comes to theaters November 21.

“Ralph Breaks the Internet” leaves Litwak’s video arcade behind, venturing into the uncharted, expansive and thrilling world of the internet—which may or may not survive Ralph’s wrecking. Video game bad guy Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and fellow misfit Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) must risk it all by traveling to the world wide web in search of a replacement part to save Vanellope’s video game, Sugar Rush. In way over their heads, Ralph and Vanellope rely on the citizens of the internet—the Netizens—to help navigate their way, including Yesss (voice of Taraji P. Henson), who is the head algorithm and the heart and soul of the trend-making site “BuzzzTube,” and Shank (voice of Gal Gadot), a tough-as-nails driver from a gritty online auto-racing game called Slaughter Race.

 

[Thanks to John Hertz, Jumana Aumir, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 3/29/16 Police My Tears, the Scrollman Said

(1) SIAM SINFONIETTA. Somtow Sucharitkul conducts at Carnegie Hall tonight! On Facebook, he posted a picture of his dressing room.

Somtow at Carnegie Hall

(2) SOCIETY PAGES. The Planetary Society has released the second installment of The Planetary Post with actor and Society board member Robert Picardo, their newsletter featuring the most notable space happenings.

For this issue, we took a trip to the set of the scientist-produced musical called “Boldly Go!” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek.

 

(3) HOP ON POP. “William Shatner sued for $170 million by man claiming to be his long-lost son”

William Shatner is being sued for $170 million by a radio host who claims to be the “Star Trek” legend’s long-lost son.

Peter Sloan has boldly gone and filed legal paperwork in Florida demanding Shatner submit to a DNA test and cease claiming he isn’t his father.

Sloan, 59, claims his birth mother, late Canadian actress Kathy McNeil, had a brief affair with Captain Kirk in Toronto. She gave him up for adoption at 5 days old.

But Shatner, 85, denies Sloan is his son, and claims the local radio host is trying to unfairly live long and prosper from the connection.

(4) MEMORY NUMBER ONE. Madeleine E. Robins makes a riveting anecdote out of her earliest memory, in “My Mother Went Out for Lemons” at Book View Café.

As a small child my family lived in the top two floors (or more properly, the top floor and an attic) of a brownstone on 11th Street in New York City. Four years after this story we moved to another brownstone, also on 11th Street, where we lived in the bottom two floors.  But that’s neither here nor there in terms of this memory.

My brother would have been about six months old–I know this because it was spring (and both my brother and I were December babies, but it wasn’t swelteringly hot the way that summer in New York City so often is). I would have been about two and a half. And my mother was making dinner and realized that she needed a lemon. Rather than waking the baby and packing us both into the stroller and going down to the corner to fetch a lemon, Mom made a different call: she sat me down on the couch, told me not to move, and went out to buy a lemon….

(5) ONE RULE TO BIND THEM ALL. Jeffe Kennedy warns against violating the One Rule, in “Romance Tropes for SFF Writers” at the SFWA Blog.

The romance in the book does not end happily. It does not end with even the promise of happiness. The heroine and the hero part ways with every indication that this will be a permanent separation.

Now, there is nothing wrong with this ending for a science fiction novel. However, for a book marketed as SFR, it’s a huge violation of reader trust. It’s an ending that makes romance readers throw the book against the wall. It’s a profound betrayal that destroys their trust in an author.

An argument that gets introduced in a lot of these conversations – always from non-romance readers – is that the HEA/HFN is not mandatory. That it’s okay for a story to end tragically. Romeo and Juliet gets trotted out. And sure, that’s true! But Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s tragedies! Sure, there’s a romance in it. You can even say the romance is the core of the story, but that doesn’t make it a romance. Why not?

Because it ends tragically, not happily.

(6) TRUST. R. S. Belcher says “Trust Your Editor” in a post at Magical Words.

Like I said, I was pissed. I had been doing this job of writing and getting paid for it for a long time, years. I paid bills, mine and my family’s bills, on my words, and I thought, after busting my hump on this piece that it was one of the best journalism pieces I had written.

The first chicken McNugget of “wisdom” I’ll throw out here, is whatever you write, if you expect to get paid for it, expect to deal with criticism…from all corners. You have to learn how to deal with that anger or it will eat you up like acid, or worse, it will influence how you write. It will affect how fearless you get in your writing, what you do, how you say it, and what you decide to not say. If you can’t handle that, pack it in, take up alpaca herding or something, ’cause you will be a bitter, miserable, and poor writer (in more ways than one).

So, I took a few days, because my deadline allowed me to, and did nothing in regards to the article. I did not email this editor and tell him exactly what I thought of his revisions, and where he could stuff them. I did not quit in a funk, or bad-mouth the guy and his publication in social media. In other words, I didn’t shoot my career in the face with a bazooka. I raged in private, I calmed the hell down, and I got back to work.

I did every single thing this editor had wanted me to do; when all was said and done, when all the ego, and emotional sturm und drang was over, it was a better piece, a better creation of my writing, my words. My editor was right, and he was damn good at his job. The moral of this story is trust your editor.

Now, I’m not saying trust every editor, I’m saying trust your editor.

(7) TWO DADS. The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman, on sale May 31. The Fireman by Joe Hill, on sale May 17. John King Tarpinian says, “Joe Hill gave Ray Bradbury credit for the title. Both books are dedicated to the authors’ newborn babies.”

Fireman and gaiman

(8) PATTY DUKE OBIT. Patty Duke passed away March 29 at the age of 69. Sean Astin paid tribute to his mother online:

Shortly after the news was made public that his famous mother Patty Duke had passed, Sean Astin took to social media to post a heartwarming tribute — and announce that he’s launching a mental health initiative in her honor.

“I love you mom,” he wrote alongside a photo of his mother holding him as a baby. The message also included the statement that the family released to announce the passing.

Along with image, Sean posted the words, “Her work endures,” along with a link to the Patty Duke Mental Health Project.

“My mother’s life touched tens of millions of people. Her ground breaking portrayal of iconic American legend Helen Keller, launched a career that would span six decades,” Sean wrote of the crowd-funded project. “First on broadway and then on the silver screen, Patty Duke’s characterization of the extraordinary development of the blind/deaf child brought global attention to the plight of people living with those challenges.

“The nature of this kind of illuminating and compassionate work become the sacred mission of her life,” he continued. “She became a voice for the voiceless, a reassuring presence for the scared, the intimidated and the lost. She was a healer of many souls and a champion for so many in need.”

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

revenge of the creature

  • March 29, 1955 Revenge of the Creature was seen for the first time.  Clint Eastwood, uncredited, makes his first screen appearance in this movie as the goofy white coated lab assistant.
  • March 29, 2004 Shaun of the Dead premieres in London.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL.

  • March 29, 1968 – Lucy Lawless of Xena fame.

(11) A LENS MAN LOOKS AT NARNIA. Vishwas R. Gaitonde has some thoughts about the worldwide popularity of Lewis’ Narnia stories. “With No Inkling of the Contents: Viewing Narnia Through a Hindu Lens” at The Mantle.

Recognizing Hindu Philosophy in Narnia

I began to wonder: what would Narnia be like if it were viewed through a Hindu lens? Perhaps part of the worldwide popularity of the Narnian saga lies in people from other cultures discovering a resonance of their own spiritual beliefs—meanings that Lewis never consciously intended. But then, works of imagination are open to interpretation. As I contemplated the Christian themes in Lewis’ work, I began to wonder: what would Narnia be like if it were viewed through a Hindu lens? Could a reader find such themes throughout Narnia?

…In viewing Narnia through a Hindu lens, I have largely drawn from the Hindu school of philosophy called Advaita Vedanta, which is arguably the most popular contemporary concept of Hinduism.

Atman, Brahman, and Maya: Hindus believe that the human soul (Atman) intuitively knows that existence within a physical body is not its true nature—that it is part of the Godhead, the Universal Spirit (Brahman). But in its body prison, the soul has forgotten its real identity. This ignorance (avidya) forms the human quandary and its accompanying sorrows….

Mythology awakens within us the desire for our true selfIn The Silver Chair, Prince Rilian has similarly forgotten who he is for years whilst bewitched by the Lady of the Green Kirtle. When liberated, Rilian regains full knowledge that he is the heir to the Narnian throne. He declares, “For now that I am myself, I can remember that enchanted life, though while I was enchanted, I could not remember my true self.” Similarly, in The Horse and His Boy, Shasta is clueless about his true identity, but he knows that he isn’t who he and others think he is (a slave or serf). His intuition sets him on a quest that ultimately reveals he is the lost heir of Archenland. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lord Rhoop is trapped on Dark Island where subconscious dreams come to life, where one is a prisoner of his or her own mind. In The Silver Chair, Jill Pole sees boulders and is fooled into thinking they may have given rise to the old wives’ tales of giants—until the boulders turn out to be actual giants. In The Last Battle, Puzzle the Donkey cloaked in a lion’s skin deceives others into thinking he is Aslan. And in Prince Caspian, Caspian longs for the old Narnia, just as the soul instinctively knows that there is a better place and a better experience (viz., Brahman, Spirit) than its current surroundings. Mythology awakens within us the desire for our true self—so just as Caspian clings to his myths, Hindus hang on to theirs.

(12) JOHN JOSEPH ADAMS. Here’s how John Joseph Adams said it, in “NEWS: Hugo Award Nomination Deadline is March 31”:

If you like a thing, and you think it’s deserving of a Hugo Award, nominate it! If you’re not familiar with a thing, but you saw it on a suggested nominations list or something of the sort, either read/watch it, and then nominate it because you like it, or don’t nominate it because you didn’t like it. Point being, please don’t nominate stuff just because it’s on somebody’s list somewhere; only nominate things you personally think are deserving.

(13) DOGGED EFFORT. At Chaos Horizon, Brandon Kempner continues “Estimating the 2016 Hugo Nominations, Part 2”.

A pretty simple model and not terribly informative so far. What you’ll glean from this is that the Rabid Puppies are likely to deliver a large block of votes to the works on their list. When we combine this chart with the estimated chart from the Typical vote and the Sad Puppy vote, that’s when we’ll be in business.

The core question is whether or not this block will be larger than other voting groups. In more lightly voted categories like Best Related Work or categories where the vote is more dispersed like Best Short Story, 400 votes is likely enough to sweep all or most of the ballot. Think about Best Related Work: the highest non-Puppy pick last year managed only around 100 votes. The top non-Puppy short story only managed 76 votes last year. Even if you triple those this year, you’re still well under 400 votes. In a more popular category like Best Novel or Best Dramatic Work, I expect the impact to be substantial but not sweeping. Perhaps 3 out of 5? 2 out of 5?

(14) WHAT A WAG. The Good Dog News can be found in this Maximumble cartoon.

(15) SHOPPING ONLINE IN THE STONE AGE. Martin Morse Wooster advises, “The YouTube video ‘Internet Shopping–Database—1984’ is another installment of the 1984 ITV series Database, in which the manager of the Nottingham Building Society reveals ‘If we give away one of these’ (keyboards) ‘We won’t have to build any more branches!’

“The excitement of shopping and looking up your bank statements on your TV is palpable!”

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 12/12 Do Androids Look Up When They’re Dreaming Of Electronic Sheep?

Live, from way later than the bleeping middle of Saturday night!

(1) VOTER DECEPTION? People are gathering signatures for a San Diego ballot initiative that allegedly will help keep Comic-Con in town, but the organizers of Comic-Con told Deadline.com they have nothing to do with it and it won’t affect whatever they may decide.

Will Comic-Con stay in San Diego? No word yet, but there’s a lot of confusion among fans on what’s going on with the organization’s desire to expand their annual convention in San Diego. Comic-Con International made the unusual move today of putting out a statement regarding a ballot initiative that was drawn up by a group called Citizens Plan for San Diego that seems to be at odds with their own desires for a contiguous expansion along the waterfront. Signatures are being gathered for a ballot initiative to keep Comic-Con in San Diego albeit a different spot, and those collecting signatures are actually advertising the initiative with signs stating “Keep Comic-Con in San Diego….

“There is a lot of confusion about this matter so we felt it necessary to put out a statement to let people know that we are not a party to this, have not read the initiatives and it will have no bearing on our decision of whether we stay in San Diego,” Comic-Con spokesperson David Glanzer told Deadline. He said they have been getting a lot of calls about this and just wanted to set the record straight.

(2) THERE ARE NO BAD PRINCESSES. Check out the photos of what Hampus Eckerman likes to call Disney’s newest Princess at boingboing.

Sophie’s parents tapped their friend, Megan, to turn a Chewbacca doll into a Princess Chewbacca birthday cake, using the “Barbie cake” method, and making Sophie’s third birthday just the bestest.

(3) BYERS SURGERY. SF Site News reports Chunga co-editor Randy Byers is back home after brain surgery.

Fan Randy Byers is recovering at home after undergoing brain surgery to remove a tumor. Byers will receive further diagnosis of his tumors and whether or not additional treatment will be needed, in about a week.

(4) Today In History

  • December 12, 1941 — On this day in 1941 The Wolf Man is unleashed in theaters. Did you know: the “wolf” that Larry Talbot fights with was Lon Chaney Jr.’s own German Shepherd.

wolfman w dog

(5) KRAMPUS. Now just hours away is a local stage performance of a Krampus-themed play.

He’s certainly not jolly, and you sure as hell had better not call him “Nick.” The St. Nicholas you’ll meet tonight is the genuine old-world artifact – the stern judge who oversaw a creaky old style of child-rearing the Germans call “gingerbread and whip.”

Of course Nicholas himself didn’t dirty his hands with whips. For that he had the Krampus. Today, every self-respecting hipster loves Krampus. But while your friends rhapsodize about the ersatz bubblegum Krampus of American comic books, TV, and monster fandom, tonight you’ll get a glimpse of the old devil in his original form – the Krampus of the ancient alpine “Nikolausspiel” or NICHOLAS PLAY, a folk theater production somewhat resembling England’s old Christmas mummers’ plays.

 

kinderhorror-postcard-6

(6) SAFETY LAST. Great video — Samurai Smartphone Parade.

99% of people think using a smartphone while walking is dangerous.

73% of people have used a smartphone while walking.

 

(7) THE HUGO URGE. George R.R. Martin makes two recommendations for the Best Related Work Hugo in a new post at Not A Blog.

THE WHEEL OF TIME COMPANION was a mammoth concordance of facts about the universe and characters of the late Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series, edited and assembled by Harriet McDougal, Alan Romanczuk, and Maria Simons. It’s a labor of love, and everything one could possibly want to know about Jordan’s universe is in there.

Also

Felicia Day’s delightful look at her life, YOU’RE NEVER WEIRD ON THE INTERNET (Almost).

(8) VERHOEVEN’S STINKER. Jason Fuesting, in “Starship Troopers: Book vs. Movie” for Mad Genius Club, takes a movie we both dislike and, by applying his powers of persuasion, still finds grounds for disagreement.

Ultimately, Verhoeven takes a message needed badly by so many today, with their safe spaces and trigger warnings, and turns it into the film equivalent of those same children’s tantrums, a film so poorly written that only Mystery Science Theater 3000 could find use for it.  A better director would have used Joe Haldeman’s “Forever War,” an excellent book in its own right.  Haldeman makes all the points this film bobbled in “Forever War,” but using it would have meant going without all the Nazi imagery that Verhoeven is evidently fond of and not butchering an outstanding work in the process.  Verhoeven’s film is surely satire, but I do not think he realizes the joke is on his side.

(9) MST3K CAMEOS. There will be a bushel of celebrity cameos on the revived MST3K.

MST3K creator Joel Hodgson announces a celebrity-packed cameo list that includes Seinfeld, Hamill, Harris, Jack Black, Bill Hader and Joel McHale for the new series.

Fans also found out this week from Hodgson that the new MST3K writing team will include not only the cast, but also guest writers such as “Community” creator Dan Harmon and his “Rick & Morty” co-creator Justin Roiland. Others will include “The Muppet Show” writer Nell Scovell, “Ready Player One” author Ernie Cline, “The Name of the Wind” author Pat Rothfuss, musical comedy duo Paul and Storm, “Simpsons” writer Dana Gould, “The Book of Mormon” songwriter Robert Lopez and director of the next “Lego Movie” Rob Schrab.

(10) RETHINKING SUSAN PEVENSIE. E. Jade Lomax of Hark, the empty highways calling has written a set of thoughtful, heart-tugging parallax views about what happened after Narnia’s Susan returned to England.

http://ink-splotch.tumblr.com/post/69470941562/there-comes-a-point-where-susan-who-was-the

…I want to read about Susan finishing out boarding school as a grown queen reigning from a teenaged girl’s body. School bullies and peer pressure from children and teachers who treat you like you’re less than sentient wouldn’t have the same impact. C’mon, Susan of the Horn, Susan who bested the DLF at archery, and rode a lion, and won wars, sitting in a school uniform with her eyebrows rising higher and higher as some old goon at the front of the room slams his fist on the lectern.

Susan living through WW2, huddling with her siblings, a young adult (again), a fighting queen and champion marksman kept from the action, until she finally storms out against screaming parents’ wishes and volunteers as a nurse on the front. She keeps a knife or two hidden under her clothes because when it comes down to it, they called her Gentle, but sometimes loving means fighting for what you care for.

She’ll apply to a women’s college on the East Coast, because she fell in love with America when her parents took her there before the war. She goes in majoring in Literature (her ability to decipher High Diction in historical texts is uncanny), but checks out every book she can on history, philosophy, political science. She sneaks into the boys’ school across town and borrows their books too. She was once responsible for a kingdom, roads and taxes and widows and crops and war. She grew from child to woman with that mantle of duty wrapped around her shoulders. Now, tossed here on this mundane land, forever forbidden from her true kingdom, Susan finds that she can give up Narnia but she cannot give up that responsibility. She looks around and thinks I could do this better….

http://ink-splotch.tumblr.com/post/79664265175/ifallelseperished-i-was-so-tall-you-were

Can we talk about Susan Pevensie for a moment?

Let’s talk about how, when the war ends, when the Pevensie children go back to London, Susan sees a young woman standing at the train platform, weeping, waving.

First, Susan thinks civilian; and second, she thinks not much older than me.

Third, Susan thinks Mother.

They surge off the train, into their parents’ arms, laughing, embracing. Around them, the train platform is full of reunions (in her life, trains will give so much to Susan, and take so much away).

(11) NPR RECOMMENDS. NPR staff and critics have listed 260 books they loved this year – click here to see the ones in the science fiction and fantasy category.

(12) TOUGHER MEGABUCKS.  Scott Mendelson at Forbes tells why he thinks “For ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ Breaking The Opening Weekend Record Just Got Less Likely”.

But if The Force Awakens breaks the opening weekend record next weekend, it, like The Phantom Menace, will have to do it in a lot fewer theaters than expected. Walt Disney reported yesterday (according to the always trustworthy BoxOffice.com and Box Office Mojo) that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be opening next week on around 3,900 screens in America.

That’s only the 11th biggest theater count in 2015 and nowhere close to the biggest theater count of all time. The biggest theatrical release in 2015 was the 4,301 screen release for Minions ($115 million debut weekend). The widest release of all time was for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse which debuted on July 4th weekend of 2010 in 4,468 theaters. There have been 62 releases debuting in more than 4,000 theaters. If you presume that the figure is closer to 3,900 versus 3,999 theaters next week, that puts the Walt Disney release at merely one of the 100 biggest releases ever, about on par with Spectre and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Point being, Star Wars: The Force Awakens isn’t going to have anywhere closer to the widest theatrical release of all time.

(13) ‘TISN’T THE SEASON. A friend of mine *coff* *coff* wanted me to ask John Scalzi a favor, but after reading “On the Asking of Special Holiday Favors From Me” I’m going to tell my friend *coff* *coff* this is a bad time…

Folks: This week I’ve gotten no less than five requests from fans (or family/friends of fans) asking if I could do some particular special thing or another that would mean a lot to the fan for the holidays. Since there are several of these this week, and these sorts of requests are something I’ve had to juggle before, especially during the holidays, I’m posting this as a general note so people know it’s not personal. And that note is:

I really can’t….

[Thanks to Janice Gelb, John King Tarpinian, Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, Hampus Eckerman, and Brian Z. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Next Narnia Movie?

The Magician’s Nephew will be the next Narnia book to be made into a movie, Michael Flaherty, co-founder and president of Walden Media, told The Christian Post. That’s the plan being discussed with Fox and the C.S. Lewis estate.  

Fox took over the series when Disney, producer of the first two movies, dropped out, disappointed by the financial performance of Prince Caspian. The third movie, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, has earned well enough to keep the franchise alive.  

The Silver Chair would be next if the producers were following the seven-book series’ order of publication.

Instead, the sixth book will be filmed. The Magician’s Nephew is a prequel to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and tells about the creation of Narnia, and how evil entered the land. It reveals where series icons like the wardrobe and the lamppost came from.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Alice’s Own Copy of Carroll to Auction

Through The Looking Glass

Through The Looking Glass

Alice Liddell dedication copy of Through The Looking Glass

Alice Liddell dedication

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If your pockets are deep enough, you can bid for a fascinating artifact of literary history – the very copy of Through the Looking Glass once owned by Alice Liddell, who inspired Lewis Carroll to write Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Alice is said to be an especially hot property these days because there’s a new Syfy Network show debuting soon and a Tim Burton film coming out early next year.

Beatrix Potter’s personal copy of The Tale of Peter Rabbit also will be available in the same Profiles in History auction on December 16.

But never mind Alice and Peter when there’s Jack! I foresee taking out another mortgage on the Glyer ancestral lands so Diana can bid up that copy of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe with the tipped-in C. S. Lewis autographed letter.

The full press release follows the jump.

 
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Where Another Real Writer Worked

Diana stayed at The Kilns, C.S. Lewis’s home, when she visited Oxford in February. Her photo of Lewis’s desk, taken in the wintry daylight pouring through the window of the common room, has been posted on the C.S. Lewis Foundation’s blog together with a poem it inspired Malcolm Guite to quote.

This desk is one of the places where Lewis wrote the Narnia books. You can see how cluttered it is with artifacts, preserving the way his work space actually looked.

That’s why the photo reminded me of – and genuinely belongs to — that set of pictures of well-known writers’ messy offices I collected in “Where Real Writers Work.”

Disney Leaves Before Dawn

Disney Studios won’t be a partner in the third Narnia movie, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, industry sources revealed this week.

Getting a new partner to take on half the risk could prove a challenge for Walden given that “Prince Caspian” fell below expectations when it was released in May. The film generated $419 million in worldwide ticket sales, far less than the first “Narnia” movie, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” which grossed $745 million in 2005.

As in the case of many films, “Prince Caspian” did not earn its money back from ticket sales. But Disney and Walden hope it will become profitable as the result of DVD sales.

Count me in as someone else who hopes they sell a bazillion copies of Prince Caspian. Why? Last July, Diana appeared on-camera at the request of film-makers who are preparing extra feature material for an educational edition of the Prince Caspian DVD, aimed at teachers who want to use the movie in the classroom. The higher profile the commercial release has, the likelier people will be to think of it as a classroom resource.

During the July filming they interviewed her Diana for two hours. They found things going so well that at times the crew forgot the script and became totally caught up in what they were talking about. The camera man and make-up artist told Diana they wanted to go back to school, it was all so interesting.