Snapshots 150
The Sesquicentennial

aka “How Well I Remember the Days Before Puppies Were All the Rage” – James H. Burns

If you’re very new to File 770 this may be the first time you’ve seen Snapshots, the zine-within-a-zine.

In honor of the 150th edition, here are 35 developments of interest to fans.

(1) Even Kimball Kinnison’s swearing “By Klono’s brazen balls!” may be a leetle too strong in these refined times. What kind of cursing remains fashionable? Matthew Bowman tells all in “Frakking Goram Smegger! (Swearing in Fiction)”  at Novel Ninja.

While swearing serves an important function in real life, at least for the person doing the swearing, it doesn’t have the same effect on other people. It winds up being a great stress relief for the speaker, but over time there’s a diminishing return in terms of effectiveness, leading to people using it more and more to get the same effect. To the people around the speaker, though, all they get is the “more and more.”

The use of swearing in fiction has the same problem. There are really only two uses, and the audience only experiences the second use: shock value. Shock too much, and there’s no value to it. On the face of it, you might want to avoid swearing.

Well, no. Not entirely.

(2) With the Anagrammer I can turn my own name into a colorful curse. Like, “Ye Chiller Mag!” Or, “Rimly Geek!”

GRRM Plush COMP

(3) I’ve completely failed to find any website that has one for sale, but you have to agree the concept is amusing —  Talking George R.R. Martin Doll Adds Some Evil Santa Whimsy To Your Life:

Spotted at New York Toy Fair 2015: This talking George R.R. Martin doll from Factory Entertainment, which the Game of Thrones creator himself recorded dialogue for. One of the ten things he says is “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.” One of the things he doesn’t say, I assume, is “f*ck you.”

There’s not the slightest doubt if there was a Harlan Ellison doll it would.

(4) On May the Fourth many ballparks honor the little movie franchise that’s been around for four decades. At Fenway Park, Darth Vader showed up and inexplicably agreed to do an interview.

Darth Vader

(5) More than a baker’s dozen, here are 14 pieces of advice from things your convention staff. Many of them are a lot more blunt than this —

Sleep

And not in our video/panel rooms. Find a bed or the floor of someone’s hotel room. At least a few hours. Please? Conventions are exhausting enough without trying to operate without sleep.

And it seems as time goes by fewer of the embedded anime gifs work for me – here’s hoping you have better luck.

(6) As soon as products reach market using the right software, you will be able to use the “Live long and prosper” emoji.

live long and prosper emojiAs spotted by Quartz, a ‘Live Long and Prosper’ hand symbol emoji has been found in the test versions of both Apple’s OS X and iOS Mac and iPhone/iPad software, which should be released sometime later this year. Apple has yet to confirm that all the new emojis in its beta software will be in the upcoming official releases. Among them are the much-awaited multi-ethnic smileys and figures.

With Apple’s new emoji picker, you should be able to send the Live Long and Prosper salute in different skin shades once it hits devices. You can visit Emojipedia.org to see what all the versions look like.

The Vulcan Salute was introduced to the Unicode system last June, and like any other symbol available in the universal emoji consortium, it’s now just waiting for software-makers to build it into their operating systems and keyboards, which Apple certainly looks to be doing.

(7) A month after the death of Leonard Nimoy, his son Adam Nimoy announced plans for a documentary about his father titled For the Love of Spock.

The project is aimed at celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Star Trek,” which aired for the first time on Sept. 8, 1966. Zachary Quinto, who portrayed the Spock character in last two “Star Trek” films, will narrate the documentary.

(8) It’s not that I’m breathlessly awaiting Sharknado 3, I just think we’re all thrilled to take a break from science fiction’s relentless parade of kerfuffles. So as a public service I am informing you that David Hasselhoff has been cast in the film despite a bum knee.

Needless to say, The Hoff has been quite busy, and in the midst of his crazy schedule Hasselhoff says he had to get “some knee work done.”

The injury even affected his role in “Sharkando 3,” the third installment in the hit Syfy franchise, co-starring Ian Ziering and Tara Reid. In the upcoming TV movie — called Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!” — Hasselhoff plays Gilbert Sheperd, the dad of Ziering’s character, Fin Shepard. You can expect to see a lot of Hasselhoff in the film; it’s not just a cameo, he says.

“I hobbled through them [my scenes],” said Hasselhoff. “You’ll see me hobbling through ‘Sharknado 3’ because I said, ‘My character now has a limp!’ I wrote it in — that I jumped on a grenade during Vietnam and saved the entire platoon except for one person. I thought that was a funny line to put in and they allowed me to put it in.”

(9) Have you heard the true tale of the 50 Foot Woman and the FDA? The Washington Post recently told it as a graphic story, “Allison Hayes, the actress who got the FDA’s attention – too late”. Text and graphics by Art Hondros.

(10) Mr. Steed, we’re needed.

Trotify makes your bike sound like a galloping horse

The folks at Original Content London are hot to trot, thanks to their latest invention, the Trotify. For about $32 USD, the flat-packed laser-cut wooden contraption fits on the front brake mount of your bike and with a little assembly, a coconut, and a sense of humor, can create the sound of a trotting horse as you pedal. Able to amuse or confuse those with very poor eyesight, the Trotify is a great gift for those cycling nuts who have every accessory on the market or for those who are a little too short on cash to become real equestrians.

Warning – you can’t actually buy this from the vendor linked in the article, even though they have been trying to market the concept since 2012.

(11) The science fiction radio series X Minus One is still attracting new admirers.

Though I seldom long for my native culture when abroad, when the need for a hit of Americana does arise (and I say this currently writing from Seoul, South Korea), I fill my iPod with old time radio. Many shows from America’s “Golden Age” of wireless broadcasting can fill this need, but one could do much worse than Dimension X, the early-1950s science-fiction program we featured earlier this month, or its late-1950s successor X Minus One, whose episodes you can also find at the Internet Archive. Both showcase American culture at its mid-20th-century finest: forward-looking, temperamentally bold, technologically adept, and saturated with earnestness but for the occasional surprisingly knowing irony or bleak edge of darkness. That last comes courtesy of these shows’ writing talent, a group which includes such canonical names as Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Robert Heinlein.

(12) Neil Clarke celebrated passing 50,000 submissions to his magazines by running a list of the top ten most common short story names. That got so much attention he dropped all the story titles ever received into Wordle and posted he resulting graphic.

(13) Here’s how Jason. S. Ridler, Ph.D. overcame the trauma of an unsatisfactory book writing career:

There’s an old trick in psychology. If you’ve experienced trauma, do something new that has no relation to the context of said trauma. You generate new memories for your brain to chew on. Improv fit that pistol, and was life-saving. In writing, I abandoned the dead god of novels and moved to comic book scripts. I love comics, but had never attempted them because . . . if you think making money with novels is tough, it’s Shangri La compared to becoming a “professional” comic book writer. But I didn’t care about money, or a career. I had now stabilized my income to a degree where I felt comfortable easing off the gears of work and spending some time writing. I learned comic script format for fun. I found artists to work with, which was fun. And I failed all over the place as I learned the art, the business, and the challenge of working with artists. Some of this sucked bunnies, but I didn’t care. So long as I learned and got better, I enjoyed the challenge.

(14) Beware offering advice. Jim C. Hines offers breakdown of the topic in “The Advice Checklist”.

Are you more concerned with helping or with fixing the person so they’ll stop making you uncomfortable?

Hint: People talk about their problems for a range of reasons. To vent, to process their own feelings, to connect with others and know they’re not alone… If you genuinely want to help, great—but in many cases, giving advice isn’t the way to do that.

(15) Thanks to YouTube, people don’t have to be old enough to have seen commercials like “Cheerios, the ‘Terribly Adult Cereal’ w/Stan Freberg” – they can click and experience that bit of pop culture history immediately.

(16) Wired reports someone has adapted a drone to leave his tag in a highly visible place.

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, the age of robotic graffiti was born. KATSU, a well-known graffiti artist and vandal, used a hacked Phantom drone to paint a giant red scribble across Kendall Jenner’s face on one of New York City’s largest and most viewed billboards. By all accounts, it is the first time that a drone has been deployed for a major act of public vandalism.

(17) Pat Cadigan was scheduled to speak about cancer – instead, she has to fight it.

It took me a long time to be taken seriously as a writer, and to be seen as the writer I was trying to be––i.e., a hard science-fiction writer. A few years ago, Greg Benford turned to me in the course of a conversation and said, “Pat, you’re a hard science fiction writer…” I can’t remember the rest of the question, just Greg calling me a hard science fiction writer. I figure Greg would know the difference. So I got bonafides.

That’s what cyberpunk always was to me––hard science fiction, taken out of a wish-fulfilment setting where everything would be all right if we could just develop the right technology, and re-imagined in the real world, where things could go wrong and people could get hurt.

And so it goes. I should have been at USC talking about what was, what is, and maybe what’s coming, but things went wrong and I got cancer.

Actually, now that I’ve written it out, it’s kinda funny. I can see why our plans make God laugh. She’s got a wicked sense of humour. But then, I do, too.

(18) This story is more than a little strange, coming from a part of the world that is notoriously unreceptive to even mild religious mockery. Turkish students have petitioned for a “Jedi temple” on campus.

More than 6,000 students at a Turkish university have signed a petition calling for a Jedi Temple on campus “to bring balance to the Force.”

The Change.org petition, which had more than 6,000 signatures Thursday, was created by students at Dokuz Eylul University amid controversy stemming from an announcement last month from Istanbul Technical University rector Mehmet Karaca that his school would be getting a “landmark mosque” after a petition calling for a mosque on campus received nearly 200,000 signatures.

The ITU announcement also led students at that school to start a petition to found a Buddhist temple on campus, a request with more than 20,000 signatures.

(19) A photo of C.S. Lewis with his Officer Cadet Battalion in 1917 has been discovered among items donated by an alum.

Every college archive has a mass of material awaiting sorting and cataloguing, much donated by former college members, and Keble is no exception. Leonard Rice-Oxley went up to Keble to study history in 1911, and became the college’s tutor in English in 1921. After graduating from Keble in 1915, Rice-Oxley had served as 2nd Lieutenant in the London Irish Rifles, before being promoted to Lieutenant, and posted to serve on the staff of No. 4 Officer Cadet Battalion in 1917. During this time, Rice-Oxley produced a booklet Oxford in arms: with an account of Keble College, intended for the use of officer cadets stationed at Keble. A copy of this booklet was contained in the material given to the college archives by Rice-Oxley, along with an album of photographs.

Not long after her arrival at Keble, the new Archivist & Records Manager (Eleanor Fleetham) was asked by the College Librarian (Yvonne Murphy) to organize an exhibition of material from the Archives to commemorate Keble’s contribution to the First World War. One of the items on display was Rice-Oxley’s photo album, which contained a  photograph of “E” Company, No. 4 Officer Cadet Battalion, taken by an unknown photographer in the summer of 1917. A college undergraduate – Sebastian Bates (2014, Law) – noticed the photograph, and suggested that one of the people in the photograph was none other than C. S. Lewis.

(20) Michael Swanwick covered Samuel R. Delany’s retirement party, celebrating the end of his career at Temple University, in an aptly named post — Goodbye, Mr. Chip.

(21) It warms my heart to realize my antique File 770 webpage from the old Compuserve Ourworld days is still in the internet archives.

(22) And Teddy Harvia’s online exhibit of Best Fan Artist Hugo nominees has never gone away!

(23) Artist Richard Powers is remembered by The Daily Beast.

The Ballantines believed in science fiction as a literature of ideas, not gadget porn for ham-radio buffs, so when they opened their doors in 1952 they thought of Powers. His modernist sensibility, steeped in things seen at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, set him apart from the pulp-magazine style—astronauts rippling their pectorals at bug-eyed aliens while space babes cowered in fear—that had dominated the genre for decades. “One of the things that appealed to me about science fiction,” he says, in The Art of Richard Powers, “is that it was possible to do Surrealist paintings that had validity … in their own right, and not necessarily functioning as the cover of a book.”

(24) Doctor Who’s son is Alfred the butler?

The actor who plays Alfred in the TV series Gotham is Sean Pertwee. His father is Jon Pertwee and he played the third Doctor Who:

And Mr. Pertwee – Sean, that is – certainly lived a life suitable to the son of a Time Lord. Mr. Pertwee recalled long stretches spent on Euro-billionaires and party-animals playground Ibiza, a “mad island…this weird eclectic bunch of people that ran away and lived in this sort of hedonistic paradise.” Many people know the name Elmyr de Hory as the master art forger of the 1960’s, and subject of the Orson Welles film F for Fake — Mr. Pertwee called him godfather. He experienced a youth surrounded by, in his words, “draft dodgers, murderers…actors.”

Pertwee stars as Alfred Pennyworth, a tough-as-nails ex-marine from east London who loyally serves the Wayne family. In the wake of their tragic deaths, he is fiercely protective of the young Bruce Wayne — the boy who will eventually become Batman

Sean is set to appear as a lead role, Alfred Pennyworth the unflappable butler, in the new Warner Bros. series of Gotham, which follows the story behind Commissioner James Gordon’s rise to prominence in Gotham City in the years before Batman’s arrival.

(25) If Disney had done cruise ships in the 1950s would they have added a Ben-Hur theme where kids could row like hell and ram a Roman warship? We’ll never know, but pretty soon young voyagers on the company’s passenger liners will get to head into hyperspace with the Millennium Falcon.

disney-cruise-millennium-falcon-625x351The Disney Dream will head into dry dock in October and emerge with two new interactive youth areas, one inspired by the interior of the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, and the other based on the popular Disney Infinity video game.

As you can see from the concept art above, the Millennium Falcon is a pretty good recreation of Han Solo’s ship. Kids will be able to sit in the cockpit, participate in Star Wars-themed crafts and activities, watch episodes of Disney XD’s animated Star Wars Rebels on large screens, or play video games.

The Disney Dream is also bringing on board the popular Jedi Training Academy, in which young Padawans learn from a Jedi Master how to use a lightsaber, and then face Darth Vader in a final test.

(25) Jill Pantozzi on The Mary Sue draws attention to J.K. Rowling’s new tradition of apologizing for killing off her characters. Before it was Florean Fortescue. Now —

(26) A croggling thought – buying Watchmen with no pictures. But it makes sense for one audience.

Watchmen is a classic comic book written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons, published in 1986. It’s set in an alternate history where the existence of superheroes changed American politics, culture and everyday life. I’ve described it panel-by-panel for blind and low-vision readers, including the supplementary material at the end of each chapter.

(27) What is that image? A golden octupus? Chtulhu? Nope, that is a $20,000 vintage pen with a golden snake wrapped around it.

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(28) “The Woman Who Was a Man Who Was a Woman: Alice Sheldon and James Tiptree Jr.” is a fine proifile by Thomas Parker on Black Gate.

To Alice’s professed surprise, Campbell bought one of the stories, “Birth of a Salesman.” A new science fiction writer was born, one who would, in the space of just a few years, make a tremendous impact on the genre (as two Hugos, three Nebulas, and a World Fantasy Award attest, to say nothing of the James Tiptree Jr. Award, which is given to works which expand or explore our understandings of gender).

Alice Sheldon never looked back. She also never let anyone know that James Tiptree Jr. wasn’t a man; all of her many contacts and correspondents in the SF field assumed that the courtly “Tip” who had had such a wide-ranging life and wrote such witty letters was an all-American male. (Who wouldn’t take phone calls or meet anyone — including his agent — in person and would never show up to accept any awards. What began as a joke became, without Alice’s really planning it, an elaborate deception worthy of… well, of the CIA, and a banana peel that countless readers and critics would embarrassingly slip on.)

(29) Ferrett Steinmetz pays impressive tribute to his audience in “Thank You For Being So Goddamned Brave”.

One of the reasons I have any audience at all is that I blog about my insane burblings of social anxiety, and how hard it is for me to go to conventions.  I’d say about one out of every five people who’ve come to see me read from Flex and sign books has that hesitant smile when they approach me, and I know that the only reason they crept out into such a whirlwind social situation is because I’ve lent them strength at some point by sharing my own tearful fears, and that they and I are intertwined with the same terrors.

They’re braver than I am.

I couldn’t come out to see me.

(30) Author Jon Scieszka interviews Norton Juster, author of The Phantom Tollbooth, about writing the classic children’s novel with longtime friend Jules Feiffer after a screening of the documentary The Phantom Tollbooth: Beyond Expectations.

(31) Writing to Robert E. Howard during the Depression, H. P. Lovecraft said he never spent more than $3 a week on food. What were H. P. Lovecraft’s economical favorites? The list includes —

Beans

“Incidentally—not many doors away, on the other side of Willoughby St., I found a restaurant which specialises in home-baked beans. It was closed on Sunday, but I shall try it some time soon. Beans, fifteen cents, with pork, twenty cents. With Frankfort sausages, twenty-five cents. Yes—here is a place which will repay investigation!” (to Mrs. F.C. Clark, 20 May 1925)

“…in New England we are very fond of baked yellow-eye beans…” (to J. Vernon Shea, 10 November 1931)

(31) Among other things, Neil Gaiman has authored a Chipotle cup.

Why are you participating in the Cultivating Thought series?

My work with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees really opened my eyes to the fragility of the world. I thought it might be a good thing to open other eyes.

Tell us about your two-minute read.

I wrote about the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan; the state of people who have left everything, and gone through hell to escape an intolerable situation. What they went through, what they survived.

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(32) Ray Bradbury, one of the greatest sci-fi writers in history, talks with Merv about the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, Steven Spielberg, his mission as a writer, the future of mankind, and ends by reading from his poem “If Only We Had Taller Been” from his collection “When Elephants Last in the Dooryard Bloomed.”

(33) For those who can’t get enough of Benedict Cumberbatch, news services have released video of his reading of a poem by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy at the memorial service for Richard III.

(34) The Telegraph has selected the 10 Best Fan Tributes to Terry Pratchett. On the list is —

6) Pub sign
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, one of Pratchett’s former watering holes in Wincanton, Somerset, was decorated with recently decorated with a tribute in the form of a Discworldified pub sign.

This pub sign, amended to feature the noted Ankh-Morpork pub, The Mended Drum, was commissioned before Pratchett’s death, and hung as a memorial shortly afterwards.

It was painted by illustrator Richard Kingston, who, along with Pratchett, was a regular patron of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Wincanton is already slightly unusual in that it was twinned in 2002 with a fictional Discworld city, Ankh Morpork.

In 2009, the developer George Wimpey named two streets in its new housing development after Ankh-Morpork’s, including Peach Pie Street and Treacle Mine Road.

(35) And finally, this rare reveal of how they do things in Tinseltown.

[Thanks for these links goes out to John King Tarpinian, James H. Burns, David Gerrold, David Klaus, Martin Morse Wooster and Andrew Porter.]

Richard Powers Retrospective

When she introduced the artist at the 1991 Worldcon, Marta Randall said fans in the Fifties and Sixties fans were able to recognize an sf book at a distance, not because there were aliens or brass-brassiered babes on the covers, but because of Richard Powers’ abstract paintings. 

A newly-opened exhibit of Powers’ art is inspiring fresh appreciation for his talents. In Richard Powers: Seen and Unseen, Baldwin Hill Art & Framing and Gallery 55 are presenting 2D and 3D works owned by the Powers estate. The exhibit is open through October 7, at 55 South Main St. in Natick, MA

Some of his largest works are on display:

Throughout his life Powers was known for painting on whatever happened to be at hand. In his later years he took to painting on sections of hollow-core interior doors. These were cheap, readily available, and came in convenient widths from 28 to 36 inches. With proper edge trimming, these pieces had depth and presence while remaining relatively lightweight. Many of these works were done in his “surreal landscape” style with torn paper collage elements and stark, angular black and white lines.

There are smaller works featuring collage and montage elements, including some of his shadowboxes which combine paintings and sculptural elements.

Speaking to fans in 1991, Richard Powers, whitehaired, commanding, with a physique that made him the Michelangelo of paperback artists, declared, “The difference between writing and painting is that writing is work and painting isn’t.” And he told them, “The artist’s job is to do something of a visual nature that can’t very easily be put into words. My feeling is if the writer’s any damn good he doesn’t need me to do a literal illustration of something he’s already described perfectly well.”

Powers died in 1996.