(1) MORE ON NYC TOLKIEN EXHIBIT. The Tolkien Collector’s Guide site has shared a summary of all the announced scheduled events associated with the “Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth” exhibit opening in New York on January 25, including what will (and won’t) be on display: “Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth at the Morgan Library – schedule and preliminary items”.
(2) NYC TOLKIEN CONFERENCE. Filers who are in NYC on March 16-17 could attend some Tolkien talks by Tolkienists, including John Garth and Robin Anne Reid, offered in partnership with The Morgan Library and Museum: Tolkien Weekend.
Sunday, March 17 The New York Tolkien Conference Presenters include: Megan B. Abrahamson, Nicholas Birns, David Bratman, Janet Brennan Croft, John DiBartolo and the Lonely Mountain Band, Leslie Donovan, David Emerson, Jason Fisher, Peter Grybauskas, Yvette Kisor, Kristine Larsen, Ryder Miller, Robin Anne Reid, Ph.D., Chris Tuthill, and Christopher Vaccaro.
There’s a rundown of the conference programs here. And at the top of the list is —
Atheists, Agnostics, and Animists, Oh, My!: Secular Readings of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium
This project considers the question of how fans of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium who are atheists, agnostics, or animists, that is, readers who do not, to varying degrees, profess belief in the Christian God or in any other religion’s Supreme Being, make meaning of his work in their lives. Using a mixed methodology approach, I will administer an online free-form survey asking for minimal demographic information and answers to open-ended questions allowing respondents to describe their experiences with religion, if any; their personal history of belief; their reading history and interpretations of Tolkien’s work, and their responses to the tendency in popular and academic thought to assume that Tolkien’s Christian beliefs must shape reader’s interpretation of his work.
(3) A RARE SIMILARITY. Brian Murphy compares “Tolkien and Howard: Two Roads Diverged in Haggard’s Kor” at DMR.
…Their life work is typically arrayed on opposite ends of the fantasy spectrum: Tolkien is considered the Don of high fantasy, often characterized as possessing detailed secondary worlds of magic populated by casts of characters focused on matters of ponderous, world-shaking importance. Howard is recognized as the progenitor of sword and sorcery, associated with muscular heroes engaged in mercenary pursuits.
Yet the pair on occasion demonstrated striking similarities of thought, particularly regarding the harsh realities of material existence and the concomitant desire for escape. Both for example employed the same metaphor as life as a prison or cage, from which escape was a natural reaction by the feeling man….
(4) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman hopes you will eavesdrop on my Thai dinner with the immersive (and totally science fictional) theatrical troupe Submersive Productions in the latest installment of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.
…The most recent theatrical event I attended presented by Submersive was A Horse By The Tail In The Night, part of a series called The Institute of Visionary History and the Archives of the Deep Now. The company claims that during work on H. T. Darling, they uncovered experiments performed decades earlier by a secret society making use of the fact the museum in which they staged their happenings was a “thin place” — that is, a place where our world can bleed through to other times, other dimensions, other realities.
And so I found myself in a small room for eight hours with two seemingly immortal aristocrats who were apparently trapped there, and who struggled to cope with and understand their plight, repeating interactions — games, the telling of tales, the preparation of potions — with variations. I was sometimes fed by them, sometimes ignored, sometimes interrogated, and in those hours they, too, were creating something fantastic, something science fictional, something worth exploring on this podcast.
Science fiction takes many forms, the theater being one of them, and when it’s theater as otherworldly as this, I feel it’s an aspect of science fiction which deserves a place here. So I shared take-out from MayureeThai Tavern on the penultimate day of 2018 with the two actors who brought those doomed, immortal aristocrats to life, Lisi Stoessel and Francisco Benavides, as well the co-artistic directors of Submersive Productions, Glenn Ricci and Ursula Marcum.
We discussed the ways everything from Dragon Ball Z to Myst to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil stoked their love of the fantastic, how the funding came together for their first mesmeric show about the women in the works of Edgar Allan Poe, the dare that made their recent durational play grow to eight hours and the half-scripted/half-improvised way they were able to keep their performance going that long, how the actors found their voices by channeling Katherine Hepburn and Roberto Benigni, the multiple meanings of the most transcendent pie-eating scene I’ve ever witnessed in the theater, how they deal with introverted (as well as overly extroverted) audience members during immersive performances, the differences between improv comedy and improvisational theater, and much more.
(5) TRILOGY COMPLETE. It took awhile to wrap this story — “‘Glass’: Film Review” at The Hollywood Reporter.
…M. Night Shyamalan’s career-reviving 2017 picture Split was a two-fer boon. On one hand, it gave thriller fans a lurid, pop-psychology-based captivity film that pushed all their buttons; on the other, its final scene linked it to 2000’s Unbreakable, seen by many of the director’s one-time fans as his last strong offering before a slide into increasingly laughable projects.
In Glass, the writer-director aims to complete an opus much more ambitious than his breakthrough ghost story The Sixth Sense — still his only film that nearly everyone agrees works. As a trilogy-closer, it’s a mixed bag, tying earlier narrative strands together pleasingly while working too hard (and failing) to convince viewers Shyamalan has something uniquely brainy to offer in the overpopulated arena of comics-inspired stories….
(6) EXCELSIOR! LAist says ticket packages for this celebration start at $150: “Stan Lee Gets A Public Celebration At The Chinese Theatre Later This Month”.
The co-creator of Spider-Man, the X-Men, and many more died in November — but a newly announced tribute event gives fans a chance to celebrate Stan Lee’s life. “Excelsior! A Celebration of the Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible & Uncanny Life of Stan Lee” is set for Wednesday, Jan. 30 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
The event starts with a public appreciation for Lee outside the theater featuring what organizers describe as “fan-favorite speakers,” along with an art exhibit celebrating his legacy, costumes and props from both his movie cameos and the characters he created, and a musical performance. There’s also a moment of remembrance planned, with the crowd gathering around his Chinese Theatre hand and foot imprint.
The event continues with a private tribute inside the theater hosted by writer/director/host Kevin Smith. He’ll be moderating conversations with people sharing their favorite memories of Stan. The event closes with video tributes to Lee, along with live performances of his favorite music and poetry.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born January 11, 1906 – John Myers Myers. Ahhh, Silverlock. I read the NESFA Edition which has the Silverlock Companion in it which is very useful as you know the novel’s very meta indeed. If you don’t have this, it was reprinted separately later. Thirty years after Silverlock was published, The Moon’s Fire-Eating Daughter novella came out. Myers claims it’s a sequel to the novel. (Died 1988.)
- Born January 11, 1923 – Jerome Bixby. His “It’s a Good Life” story became the basis for an episode of the original Twilight Zone episode under the same name and which was included in Twilight Zone: The Movie. He also wrote four episodes for the original Star Trek series: “Mirror, Mirror”, “Day of the Dove”, “Requiem for Methuselah”, and “By Any Other Name”. With Otto Klement, he co-wrote the story upon which Fantastic Voyage series, and Isaac Asimov novel were based. Bixby’s final produced or published work so far was the screenplay for The Man from Earth film. (Died 1998.)
- Born January 11, 1930 – Rod Taylor. First genre role would be as Israel Hands in Long John Silver. He would follow that up with SF film World Without End (which you probably heard of), The Time Machine (which I suspect you’ve heard of), Colossus and the Amazon Queen (Taylor claims to have rewritten the script), The Birds (I don’t like it), Gulliver’s Travels and last, and certainly least, The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy. (Died 2015.)
- Born January 11, 1952 – Diana Gabaldon, 67. I must confess that I’ve not even considered reading her. I’ve friends who read her and enjoy immensely her Outlander series. They also avidly look forward to every new episode of the Outlander television series. Any of y’all fans of either?
- Born January 11, 1955 – Rockne S. O’Bannon, 64. Creator of five genre series in Alien Nation, Cult, Defiance, Farscape and seaQuest. He also help write the Warehouse 13 pilot. He has also written and produced for Constantine, Revolution and V, among many other projects. (I loved Farscape and seaQuest butthought Defiance wentbad fast.)
- Born January 11, 1961 – Jasper Fforde, 58. I read and thoroughly enjoyed every one of his Thursday Next novels with their delightfully twisted word play as I did his Nursery Crimes series. I’ve not, though I may be wrong, read his Shades of Grey books and I know I’ve not read the Dragonslayer series though I’ve heard Good Things about them.
- Born January 11, 1963 – Jason Connery, 56. Son of Sir Sean Connery. He’s best known for appearing in the third series of Robin of Sherwood, a series I loved. He also played Jondar in the Vengeance on Varosstory on Doctor Who during the Sixth Doctor era (not one of my favorite Doctors. He was Ian Fleming in Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming. And he was a young Merlin in Merlin: The Quest Begins.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- You catch it, you eat it, at Rhymes with Orange.
(9) VINTAGE PAPERBACK COLLECTORS SHOW. Happening in Glendale, CA on March 24.
(10) ASIMOVIAN ANNIVERSARY: At Featured Futures Jason has posted some hints for tackling a landmark of science fiction on the eightieth anniversary of Isaac Asimov’s first publication with “A Guide to Reading Asimov’s Robots, Empire, and Foundation Series”.
When Isaac Asimov died, among the hundreds of works he left behind were the numerous stories and novels which made up his galaxy- and millennia-spanning super-series of Robots, Empire, and Foundation. This universe can often seem confusing and daunting to new readers, leaving them unsure of what to read and when. There’s no one way to read the series, so I hope to discuss the works in a way that will help readers decide for themselves.
(11) FURY. Chris Smith, in “‘Captain Marvel’ will also be the origin story of a different Marvel character” on bgr.com, says that Captain Marvel, set in the 1990s, is also an origin story for Nick Fury, and will explain why Fury lost an eye, what happened to his family, and how be rose to be the boss of S.H.I.E.L.D.
If that’s not enough, Captain Marvel will also tell us the story of an already established Marvel character: Nick Fury. Played by Samuel L. Jackson, Fury is the ruthless chief of S.H.I.E.L.D. — well, of an organization that follows S.H.I.E.L.D. — that would do anything to defend the planet. He’s not a superhero himself, but he’s the one who recruited the Avengers, providing the support they needed to perform whatever tasks necessary to keep evil in check. He also has just one working eye, further proof that he’s not afraid to get into the action.
(12) NO ALIEN MOVIE. Are you reassured? Are you disappointed? “Fox Confirms A New Alien Movie Definitely Isn’t In The Works” – however, to compensate ScreenRant says there’s plenty of other Alien fare being released this year.
Fox has clarified there’s currently no movement on a new Alien movie or a sequel to video game Alien: Isolation. The Alien franchise will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2019, and Fox is preparing a number of projects to mark the event. They recently announced mobile title Alien: Blackout, which will continue the stressful adventures of Ripley’s daughter Amanda. Amanda was the main character in acclaimed 2014 video game Alien: Isolation, where she was stranded on a decaying space station with a nasty xenomorph. The game’s unrelenting challenge and tension made it a fan favorite.
Amanda Ripley will have a busy year in 2019 because, in addition to appearing in Blackout, she’ll also return for comic book series Alien: Resistance and a novelization of Isolation. This year will also see the release of a new documentary dubbed Memory – The Origins Of Alien, which will explore the development of the original movie, and Fox will unveil a series of six short fan films set in the universe too. There are also unconfirmed reports an Alien TV series is in development at a streaming service.
(13) IS IT WORTH THE BUZZ? BuzzFeed’s list of “27 Things That Are, Uh, A Little Bit Weird” seems mostly to be a way for them to link to Amazon and reap a little cash when their readers fall in love with some of those Weird things and buy them. Nonetheless, there are a few things some genre fans might fall in love with, so here they are:
1. A Godzilla lawn ornament for people who don’t trust gnomes.
8. A Star Wars book of battle stages for your biggest thumb war throw downs.
13. A set of brain slice coasters for doctors, nurses, scientists, and…serial killers?
15. Or [a mousepad] featuring a cat riding a unicorn over a rainbow, because sure why not?
17. A raygun nose trimmer, because it’s 2019 and time to start living in the future.
18. A slimy Gudetama so soothing to play with, you might become more relaxed than the famously lazy egg.
26. A reverse merperson enamel pin for a cheeky new look.
(14) FLASH PARADISE: BBC tells about “The plan to make artificial meteor showers”.
If you ever find yourself sitting back in wonder as super-bright artificial meteors flash across the sky, you will be able to thank the credit crunch – at least in part. After the crisis of 2008 that Lena Okajima decided to leave her job at a financial company for a radical new venture: a firm that aimed to put satellites in orbit capable of launching artificial meteor showers.
“I had to change my job because the financial situation was very bad at the time,” she explains now, nearly 10 years later.
It was even earlier, way back in 2001, while watching the natural Leonid meteor shower that she first had the idea of trying to recreate such a display artificially.
“These meteor showers occurred from very small particles from outer space so we thought we could recreate the same situation using little satellites,” Okajima says.
(15) SELFIES. “Chang’e-4: China Moon probes take snaps of each other” — many pictures here.
A Chinese rover and lander have taken images of each other on the Moon’s surface.
The Chinese space agency says the spacecraft are in good working order after touching down on the lunar far side on 3 January.
Also released are new panoramic images of the landing site, along with video of the vehicles touching down.
(16) DEEP BEEP TWO. “Signals from space: Five theories on what they are”. The list begins with —
…1. A rapidly spinning neutron star
When stars explode and die they can end up as rapidly spinning neutron stars. Astronomers think those found in a region with a high magnetic field might produce the strange signals.
(17) PUNISHER TRAILER. Back on the job. Back in the fight. Season 2 of Marvel’s The Punisher debuts on Netflix January 18.
[Thanks to Robin Anne Reid, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]