By Colleen McMahon: We have passed the January 1 date and 1923 works have safely
entered the public domain! There was a quite a flurry in the new projects
boards in the volunteer forums at Librivox, and the recording process has
already begun for some of the most anticipated books like Gibran’s The
Prophet and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan and the Golden Lion. I look
forward to mentioning the SFF-related ones here as they are completed and
released over the next few months.
Speaking of 1923 works, in the previous installment of this column, I had said that I had not found a copy of The
Barge of Haunted Lives online as yet, but that recently changed. You can
now access it on the Internet Archive here.
The New York Times took note of the public domain watershed and it mentions some
of the “big name” items moving out of copyright, and also contains a pretty
good explanation of the whole 20-year public domain “freeze” that had been in
place. If my attempt at it wasn’t clear enough, this article might help!
A recent Pixel Scroll
mentioned an upcoming comic book based on The Light Princess by George
MacDonald (1824-1905). MacDonald was a prolific author as well as a poet and
Christian minister. Much of his work was intended for children or what we
nowadays call “Young Adult” audiences, but he also wrote novels and nonfiction
I don’t know much about him myself at this
point and am interested in finding out more, so there may be an upcoming column
with more in-depth information. For now, here are links to the two works
mentioned in the Scroll item:
Tolkien also wrote a very brief introductory note to a volume of poetry, A Spring Harvest, by Geoffrey Bache Smith (1894-1916). This is a posthumous collection published in tribute to Smith, who was killed in France.
No one has been brave enough to tackle the recording of a Middle English glossary, but there is one Tolkien poem on Librivox. (Token Tolkien, you might say…) In 2010, Librivox volunteers produced Librivox’s Most Wanted, a collection of early poems by authors whose most famous works are often suggested/requested by Librivox listeners, but those works are still in the public domain. The collection includes one Tolkien poem, “Goblin Feet”, as well as poems by George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, C.S. Lewis, and others.
(1920-1992) is represented on Project Gutenberg by five works, four of which
are nonfiction (and three of those are separate volumes of the same work). The
Elegy (Imagination: Stories of Science and Fantasy, February 1953)
Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939) is best known for his non-SFF
novels, particularly The Good Soldier and the Parades’ End
series, but he has a few books that tip over into fantasy and science fiction,
The Inheritors, co-written with Joseph Conrad (1857-1924), a 1901 science fictional social satire.
The latter is also available
as a Librivox audiobook, with a plot summary from Wikipedia:
The Inheritors: An Extravagant Story (1901) is a quasi-science fiction novel on which Ford Madox Ford
and Joseph Conrad collaborated. It looks at society’s mental evolution and what
is gained and lost in the process. Written before the first World War, its
themes of corruption and the effect of the 20th Century on British aristocracy
appeared to predict history. In the novel, the metaphor of the “fourth
dimension” is used to explain a societal shift from a generation of people
who have traditional values of interdependence, being overtaken by a modern generation
who believe in expediency, callously using political power to bring down the
Fifteen short ghost stories by the Anglican then Roman Catholic priest, Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914). The form of the book is of an old English Roman Catholic priest telling stories to his young friend.
This is a volume of short horror stories by American-born short story writer, poet and critic Vincent O’Sullivan. Sometimes considered the last of the decadents, O’Sullivan was a notable literary figure of his time, a friend of Oscar Wilde, and a favourite of many critics. The stories in the Book of Bargains are all of them notable horror stories, each involving a bargain with the devil – either explicitly or figuratively.
This is the original ‘Buck Rogers’ SF classic. Thrill to the adventures of Anthony “Buck” Rogers, one of the most celebrated characters in the history of science fiction. Famed in comic strips, television, in movies, and even radio, this is the first novel to introduce Buck Rogers to the reading public. In Armageddon – 2419 A.D., Buck, a victim of accidental suspended animation, awakens five hundred years later to discover America groaning under the tyranny of the villainous Han, ruling from the safety of their armored machine-cities. Falling in love with one of America’s new warrior-women, Wilma Deering, Rogers soon become a central figure in using new-fangled scientific weapons – disintegrators, jumping belts, inertron, and paralysis rays – to revolt against the Han.
Between February and October 1919, Nikola Tesla submitted many articles to the magazine Electrical Experimenter. The most famous of these works is a six part series titled My Inventions, which is an autobiographical account of Nikola Tesla’s life and his most celebrated discoveries. This work has been compiled and republished as a stand-alone book several times under different names, but has been a cause of some controversy due to some versions deviating from the original text without explanation. This LibriVox project returns to the original text and expands upon it through the addition of Nikola Tesla’s own supplementary articles as they were published in 1919.
A large body of films, music, and books from that year entered the public domain on Jan. 1, the first time that’s happened in 20 years. And that means they can be used according to the will of new creators who wish to adopt or adapt them.
…Those lengthy copyrights can be a barrier to the creation of new art. “Copyright has been overextended so many times, largely at the behest of major copyright holders,” says author Naomi Novik. “Even though what that actually does is inhibit people from creating new works and sharing these older works.” Novik is a founding member of the Organization for Transformative Works, a nonprofit that focuses on preserving fan fiction and art — that is, work created by fans, based on characters and worlds from their favorite written works, film, and TV, which can occasionally come into conflict with copyright law.
… Novik says that the impulse to re-imagine art is innate. “That kind of process of imagination is just something that our brains do. It doesn’t matter what law you put around it, our brains are still going to do it,” she says.
Inevitably, the spring of adaptations will bring about bad versions of these classic works. As Blake Hazard, great-granddaughter of F. Scott Fitzgerald, told The New York Times, “I hope people maybe will be energized to do something original with the work, but of course the fear is that there will be some degradation of the text.”
Miller, who adapted Homer, does worry about the possibility of betraying the texts. But as she was working on Circe, she says, “I came to the understanding that I can’t hurt Homer. He’s fine. Whatever I do, that’s just my response to him. But the original text will be just fine.”
It’s time to put the world into WorldCon. Time to include geography and national culture in the definition of diversity. Past time.
This here is just a discussion in good faith. Remember those? There’s no outrage; no political side. All I’m saying is this: historically, the winner of the Hugo for best novel has been from the US, 82% of the time. If we take just the past five years (2014 – 2018) Americans have been nominated 90% of the time (27/30) and won 90% (the latter number comes from Ken Liu (as translator) sharing the award with Cixin Liu for The Three-Body Problem). For the Nebulas – while not related to WorldCon directly, still reflective of what is happening in the genre – the picture is worse: US writers have been nominated 91% of the time (30/34) and won 100%….
Of course, right in the sweet spot of Napper’s 5-year sample are three years deeply affected by Sad/Rabid Puppy slate voting. Diversity of all kinds suffered in those years. What happens if I go back and pick my own sample – say, the year 2010? The Worldcon was in Australia, and the five Best Novel nominees included two Canadians and a Brit – 60% — leaving Americans at only 40%. Or 2009 when it was in Montreal – the five nominees included two Brits – 40% — and Americans were 60%.
And are people really expected to stop thinking that diversity looks
like N.K. Jemisin’s three-year run, an unmatched achievement, and dismiss it as
just another bunch of Hugos predictably won by an American writer?
The remainder of Napper’s post is a suggested reading list of international novels, a positive contribution, and always in order.
Unfortunately, the next part of being constructive is putting up a list of potential novels and short stories to read. This is why outrage is so much easier than informed discussion: it doesn’t come with so much fucking homework.
But I’ve done my homework. I’ve talked to editors and writers from Australia, Zimbabwe, the UK, New Zealand, Singapore, and – yes – the United States. And I’ve come up with a list. It’s not a comprehensive one. I don’t have that sort of time, and I wouldn’t want it to be. A comprehensive list would be so eye-rollingly long the reader would have no idea where to start. And any such claim to completeness would be immediately debunked. I’m not aiming for perfection or quantity.
Also note that none of these are my nominations (yet). I will add my own to the list over the next few weeks as I get my reading done. I have two I’d like to include from my reading as Aurealis judge, though unfortunately I cannot divulge those until the awards are announced.
All these caveats aside, I present to you a flawed and partial list of stories that entirely reasonable humans from all across the world have recommended. Which is about as good as it gets…
Accounting is an ancient profession. Sumer, the earliest known Mesopotamian civilization, had a positional numbering system, so there was no need for placeholders. A subsequent empire, Babylon, had different demands, so its number-crunching class used two empty wedges to represent a sum like 507. Across the world, the Mayan civilization came up with its own solution to a similar problem, placing a shell where modern mathematicians might place a 0. Some experts argue these wedges are ground zero, to borrow a phrase, but most academics attribute the invention of zero as a number—not as a warm body but a symbol in its own right, one that can be used in equations—to India.
(4) GENTLEMEN, BE SEATED. Now that Camestros Felapton has excused himself from the Hugo race, he knows it’s safe to resume writing hilarious stuff like “Other Revised Canon Aspects of Poo”, which would have increased his risks of winning one. Where are we going with this? Well, here’s the premise, with his second example
The other day J.K.Rowling’s Pottermore revealed that Hogwarts was originally built without toilets because wizards just pooped anyway and then magicked it away. Below are other poo related details about other franchises that you might not know….
Star Wars: there are no bathrooms in Star Wars but there are small toilet robots who follow you around waiting for you to do your business and clean it up. That’s what those little boxy droids are.
(5) EINSTEIN OBIT. The actor known as Super Dave Osborne died January 2. Mark Evanier paid tribute in “Bob Einstein, R.I.P.” —
[His work included a] long run as the self-immolating daredevil Super Dave Osborne. You never knew what daring feat Super Dave would attempt; only that at the end of it, he would meet some fate previously met by Wile E. Coyote.
January 5, 1950 — The Flying Saucer opened in theaters.
January 5, 1951 — Two Lost Worlds premiered…with dinosaurs in Australia.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 5, 1914 – George Reeves. Best known for his role as the title role in TheAdventures of Superman and several associated films. I remember the show fondly from much later syndication and thought that both the acting and stories were well done. He also played the lead role in The Adventures of Sir Galahad and was Mike Patton in The Jungle Goddess. He was in a fair number of series as well but I can’t determine if any of them were genre. (Died 1959.)
Born January 5, 1929 – Russ Manning. An artist who created and drew the Gold Key comic book character Magnus: Robot Fighter; who drew the Tarzan comic book from 1965 – 1969 and the Tarzan newspaper comic strip from 1967 – 1972; and the Star Wars newspaper strip from 1979 – 1980. (Credit to Bill here at File 770 for this Birthday.) (Died 1981.)
Born January 5, 1941 – Hayao Miyazaki, 78. A masterful storyteller who chose animation as his medium. He co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985 and has directed some of the best loved films of all time. His films include the Oscar winning film Spirited Away, My Neighbor Tortoro, and adapting the classic novel Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones for the big screen. (Thanks to Matt Russell for this Birthday.)
Born January 5, 1959 – Clancy Brown, 60. I first encountered him as the voice of Lex Luthor In the DC animated universe. All of his voice roles are far too extensive to list here, but I’ll single out his work as Savage Opress, Count Dooku’s new apprentice and Darth Maul’s brother, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Very selected live roles include Rawhide in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The Kurgan In Highlander, Sheriff Gus Gilbert in Pet Sematary Two, Captain Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, Sgt. Charles Zim In Starship Troopers and, one of favorite weird series, Brother Justin Crowe in Carnivàle.
Born January 5, 1978 – January Jones, 41. Emma Frost In X-Men: First Class is her only film role to dates but earlier when searching the net I did find her in The Last Man on Earth which is, and I quote, “an American post-apocalyptic comedy television series.” Anyone seen this?
Born January 5, 1978 – Seanan McGuire, 41. Ahhhh one of my favorite writers. I just finished listening to The Girl in the Green Silk Gown which was quite excellent and earlier I’d read her Chaos Choreography, both of her Indexing books which are beyond amazing and, God what else?, the Wayward Children series which I’ve mixed feelings about. I did read at a few of the first October Daye novelsbut they didn’t tickle my fancy. I’ve not read her Mira Grant work so do advise on how it is.
(9) BORG LICENSE REVOKED. A Canadian Star Trek fan is going to court after the government insurance company revoked his “ASIMIL8” license plate, that he got because he likes the Borg, and had a frame that added the tag “Resistance is Futile.” The term was considered insulting to First Nations people, who have often been asked to assimilate to settler culture. The Edmonton Journal has the story — “’Obviously inappropriate:’ Insurer says ASIMIL8 plate shouldn’t have been issued”.
In a recently filed legal brief, Troller explained that he drove around with the plate for nearly two years and no one complained. He renewed it with MPI in 2016 without issue.
An Ontario woman posted a photo of the licence plate on Facebook on April 22, 2017. Court filings show a transcript of a call she made to MPI in which she said the plate was offensive because of the history of government assimilation policies.
Not all plate requests go sailing through:
The documents include a 47-page list of licence plates that were denied by MPI. They include BITE ME, VINO, MMMBEER, SKODEN, HYZNBRG, HOLYCOW, PWALKER and 50 GREY.
A man in Nova Scotia has also gone to court over a personalized licence plate. Lorne Grabher has been trying to reinstate his “GRABHER” plate since it was revoked in 2016 by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles following an anonymous complaint.
(10) DOWNWIND FROM HOLLYWOOD. Just became aware of this fine blog entry published last year by Kip W: “Classical Gas”. Examples at the link.
The Disney corporation, ever sensitive to the winds of change, and (since at least the 1950s) ever willing to recut their old products up for present-day sensibilities, determined to get out on the cutting edge of kid appeal by folding flatulence humor into their classic releases. Leaked memo from 2008 reveals some of the specific ideas explored…
Perhaps you’ve seen a Transformers movie, or two, or six, in the past 11 years. (Google says there are six now.) Perhaps you’ve liked them, even, to the point that you’ve dreamed of one day owning the sporty, automatic stunt cars that turn into robots on the big screen. Now’s your chance to own four.
There’s one big catch, though: All four of the vehicles will come with a scrap title and none of them will be street legal. There go your carpool plans for the next Transformers movie premiere. Darn.
Barrett-Jackson is auctioning off four Transformers movie cars as a package deal in Scottsdale, Arizona later this month—all four of them black-and-yellow Chevrolet Camaros representing the robot character Bumblebee, who (which?) recently starred in an unnecessarily sexy movie of his (its?) namesake. Money from the Camaros’ auction will go to charity, and the person who wins will get a 2010 model from the first and second movies, a 2010 model from the third movie, a 2013 model from the fourth movie and a 2016 one from the fifth movie
We’re less than a week into the new year, and we already have a handful of new Oreo flavors to fuel us through 2019. As if the news of flavors like Carrot Cake and Dark Chocolate haven’t been enough to pique your interest, perhaps the rumors of Oreo’s latest out-of-the-box offering, Buttered Popcorn, will do the trick.
On a bustling commercial street in the fashionable Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, you can visit a serene temple of books. The lighting is soft, with accents that showcase the best in early 20th-century craftsmanship. Conversations are hushed, as if in a grand library, yet the space is so warm and welcoming that the raised café at the back of the cavernous room is filled with patrons reading and sipping cappuccinos and chocolate submarinos.
You’ve entered the Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore, which blogs and guidebooks often dub “the world’s most beautiful bookstore.” They may not be wrong. The sprawling shop is housed in a beautifully preserved antique theater. Only instead of tango dancers and singers, the stars are now the printed word.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Olav Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Joel Zakem, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
By Colleen McMahon: As January 1 approaches and 1923
copyrights become public domain, commenters on the previous installment pointed out some 1923 works
that might appeal to genre readers. Bill suggested four:
Sherlock Holmes story, “The Adventure of the Creeping Man”. This one is tricky,
as the most common source is The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, which
collected the final Holmes stories and was published in 1927, so it remains
under copyright for a few more years. However, the story itself was published
in The Strand magazine in 1923, so you can find it for free there when
the 1923 issues of the magazine come online.
“archy and mehitabel” pieces by Don Marquis. Without more detail on the pieces
I couldn’t look around for an online version, but plenty of Don Marquis works
published in 1922 and earlier are already available on Project
Arthurs mentioned The Barge of Haunted Lives by J.Aubrey Tyson, a “club
story” collection where an eccentric millionaire gathers nine people who have
had supernatural experiences and has each tell his or her story.
didn’t see an online version of this book (yet!) but Tyson also wrote a 1922 novel, The
Scarlet Tanager, which is available through the Internet Archive. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction describes it as “ Near Future
thriller…which is set in 1930, rousingly presents a submarine pirate and his
right-wing cohorts; a tough US intelligence agent opposes their efforts to
topple the American government. A UK agent, the actress of the title, also
becomes involved. Sf devices include sonar and an invisible Ray.” Sounds like
this blog post, I also found out about the British Library’s Flickr account containing over a million
illustrations from books in their collection. The illustrations from 1500 Miles
Per Hour are included in the “Space and SciFi” album, along with over 400
others. The entire collection is wonderful and inspiring to browse through.
There are albums of everything from children’s book illustrations to fashion to
Terry Gene Carr (1937-1987) was a lifelong science fiction fan who published many
fanzines and won the Hugo award for Best Fan Writer in 1973. He was well known
for editing science fiction anthologies, and also wrote several novels. One of
of Kor, is
available on Project Gutenberg. There are also two audio versions available on Librivox.
Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) has two early short stories on Project Gutenberg:
Rose Macauley (1881-1958) was an English novelist who has two novels with
What-Not: A Prophetic Comedy was published in 1918, and was
recently described by The Guardian as “a forgotten feminist
dystopian novel, a story of eugenics and newspaper manipulation that is believed
to have influenced Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four”. It’s had
some buzz lately because it is being re-released in a new edition,
complete with restored sections that were left out of the original 1918
edition. But you can read the original version for free at PG.
The classic Christmas story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who
is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and
the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. The result of
their visit shows that redemption is achievable for even the worst of us.
Cupid’s Whirligig is a city comedy: a play in colloquial language
dealing with the everyday life of London’s citizens. A knight, Sir Timothy
Troublesome, suspects his wife of cheating on him and, to prove that any
children she bears are not his own, decides to ‘geld’ himself. Meanwhile,
the young Lord Nonsuch dreams of bedding the knight’s wife, and in
disguise enters the Troublesomes’ employ as a servant. Cupid descends from
the heavens to cast a love spell on the citizens of London and, by the
last act, one character loves another, who loves another, and so on until
the last loves the first: a “Cupid’s whirligig”.
In the Fourth Year is a collection H.G. Wells assembled in the spring
of 1918 from essays he had recently published discussing the problem of
establishing lasting peace when World War I ended. It is mostly devoted to
plans for the League of Nations and the discussion of post-war politics.
A delightful collection of stories and poems, with several interesting
selections discussing various Christmas and holiday traditions, and a
lovely Christmas play, featuring a full cast. All selections have been
chosen and narrated by LibriVox volunteers to commemorate Christmas 2018.
Includes “Thurlow’s Christmas Story”, a spooky tale with a Christmas angle
(which I read for the collection and really enjoyed!)
By Colleen McMahon: Fans of the public domain have been looking forward to 2019 for a very long time — 20 years to be exact! This is because on January 1, 2019, new works will enter the public domain in the United States for the first time since 1998. In this edition of “Wandering Through the Public Domain,” I want to take a brief look at how the “public domain freeze” happened.
In 1998, the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) was passed by Congress. For copyrights owned by an individual, the term was extended to life of the creator plus 70 years. For copyrights owned by corporations, the term was extended to 95 years from publication or first use.
The previous update to copyright law in 1976 had done away with the need to renew copyrights for 28-year terms. The 1976 law set the term for individual copyright at life plus 50 years, or 75 years for corporate copyrights, and the implications of this latter term is what set the stage for the 1998 changes.
Under the 1976 law, Disney faced the possibility of Mickey Mouse moving into the public domain in 2003, 75 years after the release of the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, “Steamboat Willie.” Beginning in the early 1990s, Disney heavily lobbied Congress to lengthen the copyright term, joined by other large corporations like Time Warner.
Republican Congressman Sonny Bono was a vocal supporter and sponsor of copyright extension legislation in the 1990s, and his unfortunate death in a ski accident in early 1998 created additional momentum for passage of the new law. Mary Bono, the late Congressman’s widow, was appointed to finish Sonny’s term and took up the copyright cause. The CTEA was renamed “TheSonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act” and passage of the law was promoted as a way to memorialize a popular Congressman and celebrity. The law was passed by both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Clinton in October 1998.
Up until the law was passed, works had been passing into the public domain each January as the 75-year mark was reached. Under the 75-year term, works copyrighted in 1923 would have moved into the public domain on January 1, 1999, but the 20-year extension meant that the new expiration date for 1923 works moved to 2019. The public domain limit that has been frozen at 1922 for two decades will at last begin moving again in just a few weeks.
I’ve been looking at 1923 publications and have not found much in the F/SF realm as yet. The one exception so far is H.G. Wells’ Men Like Gods, a “scientific fantasy” about a utopian society in a parallel universe. There is more to come just over the horizon, as the earliest science fiction magazines began publishing in the late1920s.
In the meantime, we can still enjoy the many pre-1923 works as well as later ones where the copyright was not renewed while we look forward to a new burst of public domain access each January — at least until Congress decides to change the laws again. Mickey Mouse is back on the expiration schedule for 2023, so Disney is probably revving up their lobbying efforts even as I write this….
On to this week’s finds:
Lester Del Rey (1915-1993) is best remembered these days as an editor, particularly of the publishing imprint that still bears his name, but he was also a prolific author of science fiction in earlier years. Project Gutenberg has three Lester Del Rey novels, all of which have also been recorded through Librivox:
A collection of unpublished writings of Samuel Butler, edited after his death by Henry Festing Jones. Musings on writing, art, and philosophy, including thoughts about Erewhon and Erewhon Revisited, which are often categorized as early F/SF.
[Full disclosure: I worked on this project, recording two of the chapters!]
In the Jungle Books, Kipling tells 9 wonderful and exciting tales about Mowgli, the human baby raised by a pack of wolves in the jungles of India. His exploits and adventures are many and varied especially his dealing with the other animals such as his wolf mother and father and brother wolves, Baloo the wise bear who teaches him the Law of the Jungle, and in his life long battle with Shere-Kahn, the lame human-killing tiger. This edition collects all the Mowgli stories from both Jungle Book volumes and places them in chronological order.
The Castle stood above the quiet little town for as long as folks remembered: barren, deserted, lonely and frightening to the townsfolk. Until one day, smoke began to ascend from the dunjon. They were warned not to go near, and when intrepid souls dared to venture to uncover the mystery of the ruined castle, they learned firsthand what supernatural terrors await inside The Castle of the Carpathians.