(1) START AN INVESTIGATION. “Why the Hell Are These Books Out of Print?” demands James Davis Nicoll in a post at Tor.com. Here are a few of his examples:
Chester Anderson’s 1967 The Butterfly Kid is the first volume in the Greenwich Trilogy. It is without a doubt the finest SF novel in which a collection of futuristic hippies band together to save the world from drugs, blue space lobsters, and the nefarious Laszlo Scott. Anderson and his friend Michael Kurland feature as protagonists. It’s a delightful, light-hearted romp—although apparently not delightful enough, because it has been out of print for decades. The Butterfly Kid was followed in 1969 by Michael Kurland’s The Unicorn Girl and in 1970 by T. A. Waters’ The Probability Pad, both of which are in print.
(2) JOHN TRIMBLE HEART SURGERY. The Trimbles announced on Facebook:
John is getting heart surgery this coming Monday, and the doctor doesn’t want him to do anything strenuous for several months. So a very busy 2018 is going to be seriously curtailed. As for the cruise, we took out insurance, so didn’t lose all the money paid for it. If things go well, we will go next Spring.
John is in good health; in fact the doctor said he was as healthy as the average 60-year-old. The operation is a bit sudden, but when John’s heart checked out to be in the process of clogging, the doctor said he’d as soon operate before doing it during a cardiac arrest. Good thinking!
Good wishes are all John needs. Don’t send flowers, please. But if so moved, please make a donation to the Heart Fund. Any Heart Fund. Research helped to find John’s problem. We’d like to know that others can be helped, too.
(3) NOT READY FOR MORE LIKE THIS. Edmonton’s Hugo Award Book Club blog takes an iconoclastic look at Ready Player One in “Tomorrow isn’t about yesterday”, criticizing what they believe is nostalgia’s undermining effect on science fiction.
There is a subtle – but significant – difference between genuine appreciation for works from those who wrote before us and an ugly, toxic nostalgia that displaces the creation and appreciation of new works.
Which brings us to Ready Player One, a book that has become emblematic of the notion that the works of the past are somehow superior to those of the present or perhaps even the future.
… [I] will be forever grateful that Hugo voters did not include it on the ballot in 2012, despite the massive hype it received when published.
(4) WHAT’S THAT SMELL? Whatever you think about the games, this movie based on a famous old game sucked. The Guardian remembers: “‘The stench of it stays with everybody’: inside the Super Mario Bros movie”.
“We’re in the bedroom of King Koopa’s skyscraper; it’s a big set,” recalls actor and co-star Richard Edson. “Dennis [Hopper] comes in and he’s looking pissed off. He’s mumbling to himself, he won’t look at anyone. So the directors ask, ‘What’s up Dennis?’”
Something was about to go horribly wrong.
The incendiary actor-director, who had unapologetically told everyone he had taken the role for money alone, stood amid the grandeur of his character’s penthouse suite and exploded. “He just starts screaming at Annabel and Rocky,” recalls Edson. “He’s telling them they’re completely unprofessional, that he’s never seen anything like this. Rocky says ‘Dennis, what is it?’ And he yells: ‘You rewrote my lines! You call this writing? This is shit! It’s shit! And the fact you’d do it without asking me?’ He went on and on. He couldn’t control himself.
“This went on for 45 minutes. The producers were looking at their watches, Rocky and Annabel were looking at each other, like, what the fuck can we do? The actors were like, oh my God, this is amazing, this is better than the movie. Finally, they say: let’s go to lunch – but lunch turns out to be another two hours of Dennis screaming at the directors and producers about the state of movie making. Meanwhile, there are 300 extras waiting for the next scene. Rocky and Annabel start begging him – they’re like, Dennis, please tell us what you want, we’ll do anything.
“But he wasn’t through yelling at them. People were knocking at the door, producers were going out trying to tell people what the fuck was going on. Finally, Rocky and Annabel said, ‘Look, you rewrite the scene, or we’ll go back to the original, whatever you want.’ And finally he goes: ‘OK, we’ll do the scene the way it’s written now.’ Everyone sighs, we go back three and a half hours after it was meant to be done, we do the scene exactly the way it was written when he started.”
(5) THE CASE FOR CASH. Whether these creators’ games look to the past or future, they look like money says the BBC: “How video games turn teenagers into millionaires”.
Alex Balfanz is an 18-year-old student at Duke University in North Carolina. Every day he has lectures or seminars, followed by assignments. Like many students his age, he devotes a couple of hours per day, and many more at weekends, to video games.
But he’s not just playing them – he’s making them. And making a lot of money doing it.
“In the 10 months that Jailbreak has been released, it has already yielded seven figure profits,” Balfanz says of his cops-and-robbers adventure game released last year. A few weeks ago, it was played for the billionth time.
Balfanz is just one of thousands of young gaming entrepreneurs in their teens or twenties making money in an industry that made $36 billion last year.
(6) ENDANGERED SPECIES. Nobody was more shocked than the dino: “T-Rex goes up in flames at Colorado dinosaur park”.
The owners of a dinosaur theme park in Colorado said an “electrical issue” was behind the demise of a life-sized animatronic T-Rex.
Zach and Carman Reynolds, owners of the Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience in Canon City, said in a Facebook post that the Tyrannosaurus Rex statue went “extinct” Thursday.
Mike Kennedy joked, “Are the humans fighting back against the coming robot revolution? But the dino park owners say they plan to replace the bot, so the resistance may need to strike again.”
(7) DOG STAR. NPR’s Chris Klimek says Wes Anderson’s Isle Of Dogs takes Best in Show: “The Fast And The Furry Us: Wes Anderson’s Masterful ‘Isle Of Dogs'”.
You have an opinion, probably, on which of the two most common species of household pet you deem superior — and an opinion, possibly, on the fastidious filmography of Wes Anderson. But this much, at least, is fact: Nobody ever made a good movie about the nobility of cats.
Not even Anderson, who certainly seems like he might be a cat person, with his velvet-and-tweed blazers and his indoor scarves and his arched-eyebrow worldview. But no one will question his right-thinking canine-supremacy bone-a-fides after Isle of Dogs. (Go on, say the title out loud.) His dizzying new stop-motion epic is so visually rich, so narratively ambitious and so openhearted in its admiration for Japanese culture and the unshakable loyalty of doggos that it’ll likely roll right over the familiar cries that Anderson is too fussy or whatnot like a Corgi rolling over for a belly rub.
(8) ROTHFUSS AT WONDERCON. Comics Beat is covering a bunch of panels at this weekend’s WonderCon, such as “WonderCon ’18: Patrick Rothfuss Speaks of ‘What If’ at ‘Gather ‘Round the Campfire: Telling Tales'”.
Novels like J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods are all considered literary masterpieces, but fantasy novels didn’t always get the recognition they do today. Even still there are those who see fantasy as pale comparisons to the likes of Hemingway, Buck, and Steinbeck. If this is the case, why do authors still choose to write in the fantasy genre?
At this year’s WonderCon, this question and others were heavily discussed at the “Gather ‘Round the Campfire: Telling Tales” panel. In attendance were authors Jenna Rhodes, Tina LeCount Myers, R.A. Salvatore, and WonderCon guest of honor Patrick Rothfuss.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- Born March 24, 1930 — Steve “The Blob” McQueen
(10) NICE BEANIE. John Scalzi gets more fannish all the time.
Changed password just in case. Also proof it's still me: pic.twitter.com/Wrexb5wbTI
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) March 24, 2018
(11) CATS AND BOOKS. This image reportedly has gone viral even though the cat is wide awake!
(12) YOUR NEXT PARTY. Who wouldn’t like this?
My daughter surprised me with a Doctor Who themed birthday dinner. Some highlights include this sonic screwdriver made with zucchini, carrots, olives, and a mushroom – and this little army of cupcake Daleks. And she kept the entire preparation a secret. So amazing! pic.twitter.com/r36fNhPhRj
— Jon Jones (@dvwhat) March 24, 2018
(13) THE SCORE. Steve Vertlieb hopes you’ll read his post about the composer for “Max And Me”:
Composer Mark McKenzie has written a superb score for the upcoming animated Mexican film production of “Max And Me”, concerning the life and martyred death of Franciscan priest Maximillian Kolbe, who gave his life so that others may live, in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Here is my critique of this brilliant original motion picture score.
A note from composer Mark McKenzie regarding the release of his newest, most powerful film score…
One hundred thirty-five of London’s finest musicians gathered at Abbey Road Studios to record MAX AND ME including one of the most expressive solo artists of our generation, concert violinist Joshua Bell. Polish priest Maximillian Kolbe, tortured at Auschwitz asked those around him to not be overcome with hatred but to love for “Only love is creative.” His compassion lead him to sacrificially die in Auschwitz’s starvation bunker to help a man with children survive. The film makers, musicians and I hope this message of hope, love, and beauty amidst great darkness will be enjoyed by many and spread widely. A portion of each sale goes to the Shoah Foundation, Word Vision and Catholic Relief Services.
(14) BACK TO THE PAST. Even when there’s not a Mercury launch, science is smokin’ in 1962 says Galactic Journey: “[March 24, 1963] Bumper Crop (A bounty of exciting space results)”.
February and March have been virtually barren of space shots, and if Gordo Cooper’s Mercury flight gets postponed into May, April will be more of the same. It’s a terrible week to be a reporter on the space beat, right?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Rocket launches may make for good television, what with the fire, the smoke, and the stately ascent of an overgrown pencil into orbit…but the real excitement lies in the scientific results. And this month has seen a tremendous harvest, expanding our knowledge of the heavens to new (pardon the pun) heights. Enjoy this suite of stories, and tell me if I’m not right…
(15) THE COURTS BE WITH YOU. Lucasfilm’s legion of lawyers couldn’t win this one: “Star Wars firm Lucasfilm must pay ‘failed’ Darth Vader film damages”.
A film-maker who sued Stars Wars producers Lucasfilm for blocking plans to make a film about Darth Vader has won almost £39,500 in damages.
Marc John, 46, of Buckinghamshire, claimed he was stopped from beaming a live interview with actor David Prowse to 1,200 cinemas.
He claims the film would have made about £3m, with his share worth £1.35m.
A High Court judge ruled Mr John could have made the film but for Lucasfilm’s interference.
Mr John, of Thornley Close, Aylesbury, claimed the Darth Vader interview and other scenes from the “For the Love of the Force” Star Wars convention in Manchester would have netted him a seven-figure sum.
It would have been broadcast in December 2015, just prior to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, when anticipation and hype for the franchise was “sky high”, his legal team said.
(16) PRE-INTERNET ANTIQUE. Motherboard spreads the word that “You Can Now Play the First LGBTQ Computer Game, For the First Time”.
Caper in the Castro is a legendary video game, not because legions of die-hard fans continue to play it, but because it was thought to be lost forever. Now, what is largely considered to be the first LGBTQ-focused video game (it was released in 1989) is on the Internet Archive for anybody to play.
The game is a noir point-and-click that puts the player in the (gum)shoes of a private detective named Tracker McDyke who is, in case you couldn’t guess by the name, a lesbian. McDyke must unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of Tessy LaFemme, a transgender woman, in San Francisco’s Castro district, an historically gay neighbourhood.
Caper in the Castro was coded by a developer who goes by CM Ralph and spread through early message board systems, known as BBS boards. The game was originally released as “CharityWare,” and came with a short message from Ralph asking the player to donate to an AIDS charity. Since those early days, though, the game was thought to be lost and unpreserved for future generations to enjoy or appreciate. Until now.
(17) BOUNCEHENGE. This 2012 item is still news to me! “English Artist Creates Life-Sized Stonehenge Bounce House”
Stonehenge is one of the most famous monuments in the world, but if you go to visit it you have to enjoy it from a distance. In order to protect the historical site, tourists must stick to a path that surrounds the stones and can’t actually walk among them. Recently, the Turner Prize winning artist, Jeremy Deller, created a monument of his own that visitors are more than welcome to walk through; in fact, visitors to this version of Stonehenge are encouraged to jump and flail about to their hearts content. There’s no need to worry about damaging this Stonehenge, for as visitors will quickly find out as they approach the structure, it is actually a bounce house.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, ULTRAGOTHA, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mark Hepworth, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, Olav Rokne, Steve Vertlieb, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Barrett.]