Baen Bulk Backs Troops

Operation Baen Bulk and want to raise $3,500 so they can send Kindles to Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) at Ft. Bragg and Camp Le Jeune.

Since 2009, OBB has been sending deployed units large quantities of books, snacks, stainless-steel travel mugs, flashlights, batteries, “Smart Wool” socks, hydration supplies and other things. This year they’re focusing on what happens “After Action.”

[Each] $100 we raise will buy one basic Kindle (ad-free), shipped to the secret lair of OBB, where we will load an image containing the Baen Books Free Library and Promotional CDs. We will then ship the Kindles in lots of 10-20 to MTFs at military bases around the country.

 [Thanks to Petréa Mitchell for the story.]

Where It’s At

DRCover1Sometimes classroom learning is deadly dull. But what if you could make it deadly exciting?

Zombie-Based Learning by David Hunter is doing that with the subject of geography. He started a year ago. With money raised on Kickstarter, Hunter produced 10 projects and over 70 daily lessons that taught to the 2012 National Geography Standards. He also produced the first issue of a comic book, Dead Reckon. The comic’s zombie narrative answers the question “Why do I need to know this stuff?” by dramatizing situations where the knowledge makes a life-and-death difference.

Now Hunter would like to publish four more issues of the comic. He’s opened another Kickstarter campaign to corral $13,000 by July 2.

Here’s a free preview of Dead Reckon #1 (PDF file).

To date the Zombie-Based Learning Geography curriculum has been shipped to around a dozen countries including Australia, Tanzania, and the UK. An estimated 50-100 classrooms are using it.

Fight! Fight!

Stan Lee’s World of Heroes, a YouTube channel, launched last year. Fan Wars was one of its first series of videos, where Stan Lee sets the table for various faux comics controversies to be debated in a People’s Court format.

For example – if Harrison Ford had to fight himself in a match between Indiana Jones and Han Solo, who would win? And why?

I sampled several of these and thought “Super Villain Face Off,” which asks who would win a fight between Magneto and Darth Vader not only had the best technical discussion of the issue, it was better edited, therefore easier to watch.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the links.]

Worldcon, NASFiC Bidder FAQs Posted

LoneStarCon 3 has posted the responses of all 2014 NASFiC and 2015 Worldcon Site Selection bidders to a standard set of Fannish Inquisition type questions here.

Or you can go directly to the PDF documents.

2015 Worldcon Bidder FAQs

2014 NASFiC Bidder FAQs

Science Friction

“An ancient Egyptian statue appears to have started moving on its own, much to the amazement of scientists and museum curators,” begins the NBC news story.

The 10-inch statue, kept in a locked glass case in the Manchester Museum, has been captured on video slowly turning counter-clockwise during the day.

Oddly, the statue turns 180 degrees to face backward, then turns no more. This led some observers to wonder if the statue moves to show visitors the inscription on its back, which asks for sacrificial offerings “consisting of bread, beer, oxen and fowl.”

The news item is full of scientific head-scratching and quotes from curators about their favorite theories. Maybe magnetic attraction? Maybe differential friction caused by tourists’ footsteps? 

“Ray Bradbury would have loved this…and made it into a great story,” writes John King Tarpinian.



Burns: On Richard Matheson, R.I.P.

[A reposting of the author’s comment on the Classic Horror Film Board about the passing of Richard Matheson.]

By James H. Burns: What did I write, now, over three decades ago, in my intro to the Twilight Zone mag interview….

Something like, of fantasy and science fiction’s top ten ambassadors to the worlds of celluloid, Richard Matheson would be three of them.

I was referring, of course, to writers!

And Matheson, as has already been pointed out here, did oh so much more than that!

I think it’s safe to say, at the least, he’s one of the great American fantastists.

A couple of years ago, I took a look at that original manuscript, about twenty thousand words, to begin the process of refining it for republication —

I think perhaps as much as a fourth — or more — didn’t make it to the final article, although it ran as a two-parter.

I also began doing a bunch of research, reading much of the work Matheson had produced in the last three decades.

And, as some of you know, particularly in the ’80s, as I recall, there were a PLETHORA of scripts for films and mini-series, all well paid for, that never saw the light of day (or, for that matter, the spectrum of the old cathode tube).

I couldn’t help but recall Matheson’s comment that when a film or TV project didn’t turn out well, it wasn’t as though you could run down the street, script in hand, yelling, No, no, look at what it was supposed to be!


And I know there had to be some happiness for him, in seeing some such older projects, printed in some of the limited edition volumes that seemed to have had a Matheson vogue there, for a while.

It is the least of his accomplishments, perhaps — and one he may not have been pleased by, but I wonder how many people realize that he could be considered the father, or grandfather, anyway, of the zombie film phenomenon.

George Romero, in a statement that gets too often overlooked, stated that Night of the Living Dead was originally written as an adaption of I Am Legend.

(Matheson once told me he never thought of suing; that such things could be more bother than he felt, sometimes, anyway, they were ultimately worth.)

I sometimes forget that I first met Matheson (by phone, that is), when doing a different article, a preview of Somewhere in Time, for Steranko’s Prevue

In all of our conversations, Matheson was indeed the gentleman you’ve heard him described as.

And if he resented the hours it took to chat, he certainly never gave a hint of it.

I remember how thrilled Carol Serling was to learn that Matheson would be in the Twilight Zone magazine…

And how good an idea Matheson thought it was, to perhaps host his own anthology show!

(Matheson remained very grateful to Rod Serling. Whenever there was a script opportunity that Serling didn’t have the time or inclination to do, he would think of recommending Matheson, or one of his compadres.)

I also remember reading What Dreams May Come, in preparation for the interview, and saying to Matheson that it almost seemed like a primer, a gentle one, at that, for those getting ready to near the end.

(In the years to come, Matheson would write more about such realms of possibility.)

Matheson said that that was indeed his intention with the novel.

I know that Matheson’s legacy will be immense, one of the most basic being that at any time, anywhere, someone will be able to pick up a Matheson short story, and read those most often good words.

And it may be impossible to describe accurately the writer’s influence.

But late this afternoon, on this oh so humid day in New York, just about thirty miles from the Brooklyn where Matheson grew up, as the electricity raises in the local atmosphere, the thunder indeed just beyond the range of doubt: I can’t help but hope, simply, that Matheson’s final curtain was a kind one.

Memories From Matheson’s Publisher

Gauntlet Press publisher Barry Hoffman has penned a highly interesting, story-filled tribute to the late Richard Matheson

Lastly (I could relate dozens of anecdotes), there was his aversion (early on) to dustjackets for his books. The first book of Richard’s we published was I Am Legend. He wanted just a red cover with his signature stamped on the front cover along with a blue slipcase. When I prepared to publish Hell House I asked him what color cover did he desire. He said to make it just like Legend, red with a blue slipcase. I mentioned this to his son, Richard Christian Matheson, whom I had become friendly with. R.C. almost screamed through the phone, “Hell House can’t be red!!! It has to be black with a black slipcase.” I persuaded R.C. to talk it over with his father. Richard called me and agreed to the black book/black slipcase. He then paused a few seconds. “What is the next book going to be … pink?”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]


George Carlin had a routine about the seven words you’re not allowed to say on television. The other night I confessed to some people having noticed I’m much more likely to use that language in public than any of my friends. I became conscious of this tendency a few years ago when I was at lunch with two coworkers, enthusiastically holding forth on I can’t remember what, and realized they looked a bit thunderstruck. Replaying in memory the last thing that came out of my mouth I understood why. If we’d been on the air, a couple of items would have been bleeped.

Where did I pick up that habit? Although I grew up in the Sixties contemporary with the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the comedy of Lenny Bruce, neither was an influence – I read about the controversies in the paper, but I was too young to be exposed to any of their verbiage directly. No, I’m pretty sure I learned those lyrics from other students in gym classes during junior and senior high school. We seemed to believe that sprinkling our sentences with sexual and scatological innuendo proved we were rebellious, powerful and authentic.

I am musing about this today because I’ve been seeing the F-word a lot recently. Of course, that’s because I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts about SFWA controversies.

It’s not just my imagination. Taking the list on Jim Hines’ blog as my test population, I found the 18 out of 74 writers, roughly one-quarter, used the F-word at least once — Seanan McGuire, S. L. Huang, Foz Meadows, Heidi Cullinan, Betsy Dornbusch, Natalie L., Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Kameron Hurley, Samantha Henderson, Rachel Acks, Ann Aguirre, Tracy Cembor, Amy McLane, Matt Yaeger, Karina Cooper, Lauren Roy, Alan Baxter, Thomas Pluck.

(The number would be even higher if I counted instances where a blogger quoted another author’s use of the word.)

I thought it was just me.

I’m curious how they made that choice. It isn’t that they grew up in the Sixties, that’s for sure.

Richard Matheson (1926-2013)

Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson, author of many iconic works of sf and horror, died June 23 at age 87. His death came just three weeks after he announced his health was not good enough to permit him to attend the 2013 WFC where he is a GoH.

Matheson’s famous novel I Am Legend was made into three movies – but he wondered in an interview why it kept being optioned when no one ever made a movie that actually followed the book. The films What Dreams May Come, Somewhere in Time and The Shrinking Man also were based on his stories,

Once asked how he identified with his characters, Matheson frankly admitted:

RM: Pretty much the main character is always me. The man in I Am Legend is me. The man in The Shrinking Man, that’s me. Stir Of Echoes, that’s me. What Dreams May Come, me.

He wrote 14 episodes of The Twilight Zone, including the classic “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” For Star Trek he wrote “The Enemy Within” where a transporter malfunction divides the Captain into Good Kirk and Evil Kirk. And he adapted his 1971 short story “Duel” into a TV movie for young director Steven Spielberg.

He won World Fantasy Awards for Richard Matheson: Collected Stories (1990) and his novel Bid Time Return (1976). Matheson received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his teleplay for The Night Stalker (1973).

Matheson was the 1958 Worldcon guest of honor. He was inducted to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010, and was the recipient of World Fantasy Award, Bram Stoker Award, and International Horror Guild Award lifetime achievement honors, as well as being named a World Horror Grandmaster.

He served in the infantry during World War II. In 1949 he earned a journalism degree from the University of Missouri. He moved to California in 1951 and married Ruth Ann Woodson the following year. They had four children.

Here is a short commentary by Matheson about his Twilight Zone story “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Update 06/24/2013: Corrected date of death per comment.