(1) LOTR SERIES TITLE ANNOUNCEMENT. Amazon Studios will be calling it — The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The series begins airing on Amazon Prime on September 2, 2022.
Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.
(2) IN TRANSLATION. The Lord of the Rings on Prime also tweeted a video displaying versions of the series title in different languages – including two of Tolkien’s.
We’re assured by an expert that the Sindarin translation is accurate: “’Rings of Power’ Tengwar and Sindarin (Prime)”.
Amazon has published today not only the trailer for the series “Rings of Power” (see below) but also a teaser with the title in different languages. There is a Polish version (I will show it in a moment). There is also a Sindarin version! This is the correct Sindarin (you can see that the creators of the series have tried to get good Tolkien linguists).
(3) SPACE UNICORNS SOUND OFF. You have until February 7 to make your voice heard:
We’ve set up a poll for Uncanny readers to vote for their top three favorite original short stories from 2021. (You can find links to all of the stories here.)
The poll will be open from January 10 to February 7, after which we’ll announce the results. We’re excited for you to share which Uncanny stories made you feel!
A snazzy certificate will be given to the creator whose work comes out on top of the poll!
(4) ALGORITHM RUN AMOK. The Fantasy Book Critic blog was buried under a massive amount of wrong DMCA takedown notices generated by the Link-Busters anti-piracy service, and for the time being has been removed by its host, Blogger, for the breach of TOS (Terms of Service). Link-Busters reportedly has acknowledged their mistake and agreed to notify Blogger. This reputable blog is one of the judges of both the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off and the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition.
The fans are trying to accelerate getting their blog restored through social media. Thread starts here.
(5) THEY’RE EAR-IE. It’s Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday, and Christopher Conlon touts these radio dramas above any other adaptations. “Edgar in the Air: Poe and America’s Golden Age of Radio”.
…Lots of these broadcasts still exist today, and they often make for compelling listening. I would go so far as to say that some vintage radio adaptations of Poe’s stories surpass, both in fidelity to the source material and overall dramatic effectiveness, any film or TV version ever done of them….
His list begins with this 1957 episode of Suspense — “The Pit and Pendulum”.
(6) FOUNDING OF THE SCA. Fanac.org has extracted the story of how the Society for Creative Anachronism was started from an audio interview with the late Ed Meskys.
Ed Meskys tells us the story of the beginnings of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) in this short audio recording (enhanced with photographs). Ed played a pivotal role in introducing fencers Dave Thewlis and Ken de Maiffe to Diana Paxson, and has an insider’s perspective on how the “Great Idea” was born. Ed recounts how the First Tournament came to be, and points us to a contemporary report about it in his fanzine, Niekas. You can read the report on page 7 of #16 at Niekas This short recording is excerpted from a longer 2018 interview by Mark Olson.
(7) THE MATRIX HAS A FUTURE AGAIN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews games connected to The Matrix.
The most interesting of the Wachowskis’ experiments in gaming was The Matrix Online (MX)O), a massively multiplayer online role-playing game released at the same time World Of Warcraft was becoming a cultural phenomenon. Following the end of the trilogy, they wanted fans to ‘inherit the storyline’ and collaboratively write a narrative which would be canon in the Matrix universe. Over four years the game’s story developed in instalments, notably featuring the death of Morpheus. This collaborative cross-media space that the Wachowskis created feels imaginative even today, as we buckle under the weight of the extended cinematic universe of Marvel and Star Wars.
Just ahead of the recent film, a new playable Matrix was released. The Matrix Awakens is not a full game but rather a tech demo intended to show off Unreal Engine 5, the latest iteration of Epic’s software engine which powers many contemporary games. It features (Keanu) Reeves reprising his role in scenes written by Lana Wachowski, including action and narrative sequences, before players are let loose in a stunningly realistic open world. While you can do little more than play tourist in this space, it is a remarkable demonstration of the game worlds we can expect as developers get to grips with the new generation of consoles. After a long period of silence, a return to the Matrix in gaming once again points us towards the future.
(8) AND TELL TCHAIKOVSKY THE NEWS. Cora Buhlert tells squeecore to roll over, it’s time to talk about a real trend: “How To Define a New Subgenre/Trend: The Speculative Epic and an Addendum to the ‘Squeecore’ Debate”.
… That said, Lincoln Michel is right that there seem to be more books featuring multiple intertwining timelines right now, that they share certain characteristics such as addressing social issues (though you could argue that The Star Rover address the issue of prisoner abuse) and that they mainly come from the literary side of the pond rather than from the genre side, whereas the predecessors were mostly genre writers. In addition to Cloud Atlas, the examples Michel gives are Appleseed by Matt Bell, To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara, Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr, Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel and How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu.
However, I’m not just linking to this article because I’m interested in literary trends, subgenre formation and genre taxonomy (though I am), but also because Lincoln Michel demonstrates how to identify and define a new trend/potential subgenre without being a jerk about it….
(9) LEFT BEHIND. James Davis Nicoll says “Novels with a focus on demographic transition-driven decline are sadly rare in Western SF,” to begin his latest post for Tor.com, “Empty Earths: Five SF Stories Set on a Depopulated Planet”. One of those rarities is —
Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (1985)
A core-world alien, Snaggles, studies the social evolution of various carbon-based intra-skeletal species. Humanity’s past falls within its remit. Humanity’s present, however, is an inconvenience. Billions of humans interfere with field work. Therefore, Snaggles makes a deal with Doran. Doran can provide his fellow humans with immortality and vast power if they take his one-way tickets to habitable exo-planets. Most humans find the offer attractive. By the modern era, Earth has ten million humans left on it….
(Walter Jon Williams hastened to let his Facebook followers know it’s by no means a rare subject in his catalog — he’s written three on that theme.)
(10) YVETTE MIMIEUX (1942-2022). Actress Yvette Mimeux, whose place in genre history was cemented in 1960 with her appearance as Weena opposite Rod Taylor’s H. George Wells in The Time Machine, died January 17 at the age of 80. She also co-starred as an ESP-sensitive scientist in The Black Hole (1979), Disney’s highest budgeted movie up to that time.
Her other genre appearances included: One Step Beyond (1960 TV show, 1 ep.), The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962), The Picasso Summer (1969) – based on a Ray Bradbury short story, Death Takes a Holiday (1971 TV movie), Black Noon (1971 TV movie), The Neptune Factor (1973), Bell, Book and Candle (1976 TV movie), Snowbeast (1977 TV movie), and Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell (1978 TV movie).
(11) GASPARD ULLIEL OBIT. French actor Gaspard Ulliel, cast as Midnight Man in the upcoming Marvel series Moon Knight, has died following a skiing accident. He was injured Tuesday in a collision with another skier. After being airlifted to Grenoble, he died of a traumatic brain injury NBC News reported. Among Ulliel’s many upcoming projects was La bête, a science fiction movie reteaming him with his Saint-Laurent director, Bertrand Bonello.
(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
2006 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Just sixteen years ago, Pan’s Labyrinth premiered. In Spanish, it was called El laberinto del fauno which meansThe Labyrinth of the Faun. It was written, directed and co-produced by Mexican-born and raised Guillermo Del Toro. Other producers were Bertha Navarro, Alfonso Cuarón, Frida Torresblanco and Álvaro Augustin.
It was narrated by Pablo Adán with a primary Spanish language cast (Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil and Álex Angulo) with the exception of Doug Jones as the Faun and the Pale Man who of course has a very long relationship with Del Toro going back to Mimic which was based on theDonald Wollheim’s story of the same name. The “Mimic” story was nominated for a Retro Hugo at Worldcon 76.
Reception for it was excellent. It won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, at Nippon 2007 which had dual Toastmasters in the guise of George Takei and Nozomi Ohmori. Children of Men, The Prestige, V for Vendetta and A Scanner Darkly were also nominated for this Award.
Critics really liked it. Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun Times said of it that “Nothing I am likely to see, however, is likely to change my conviction that the year’s best film was Pan’s Labyrinth.” And Mark Kermode writing in The Observer exclaimed that it is “an epic, poetic vision in which the grim realities of war are matched and mirrored by a descent into an underworld populated by fearsomely beautiful monsters.”
Box office was quite superb as it cost just under twenty million to produce and made over eighty million. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give a near perfect ninety one percent rating.
Usually I don’t note the figures made for a film but the Faun got some great ones including the NECA eight inch version which you see here in all its nightmarish glory. The Pale Man got his own figure as well.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born January 19, 1916 — Bernard Baily. A comics writer, editor and publisher. Best remembered as co-creator of the DC Comics the Spectre and Hourman. For DC Comics precursor National Comics, Baily co-created and drew the adventure feature “Tex Thomson” in Action Comics #1 (June 1938), the landmark comic book that introduced Superman. (Died 1996.)
- Born January 19, 1924 — Dean Fredericks. Actor best known for his portrayal of the comic strip character Steve Canyon in the television series of the same name which aired from 1958–1959 on NBC. His first genre role is in Them! followed by appearances in The Disembodied and the lead in The Phantom Planet which you can watch here. (Died 1999.)
- Born January 19, 1930 — Tippi Hedren, 92. Melanie Daniels in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds which scared the sh!t out of me when I saw it a long time ago. She had a minor role as Helen in The Birds II: Land’s End, a televised sequel done thirty years on. No idea how bad or good it was as I’ve not seen it. Other genre appearances were in such films and shows as Satan’s Harvest, Tales from the Darkside, The Bionic Woman, the new version of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Batman: The Animated Series.
- Born January 19, 1932 — Richard Lester, 90. Director best remembered for his Eighties Superman films. He’s got a number of other genre films including the exceedingly silly The Mouse on the Moon, Robin and Marian which may be my favorite Robin Hood film everand an entire excellent series of Musketeers films. He also directed Royal Flash based on George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman novel of that name.
- Born January 19, 1956 — Geena Davis, 66. Her first genre role was as Veronica “Ronnie” Quaife in The Fly reboot, followed by her widely remembered roles as Barbara Maitland in Beetlejuice and Valerie Gail in Earth Girls Are Easy. She also played Morgan Adams in the box office bomb Cutthroat Island before getting the choice plum of Mrs. Eleanor Little in the Stuart Little franchise. She has a lead role in Marjorie Prime, a film tackling memory loss in Alzheimer’s victims some fifty years by creating holographic projections of deceased family members that sounds really creepy. Who’s seen it? Her major series role to date is as Regan MacNeil on The Exorcist, a ten-episode FOX sequel to the film.
- Born January 19, 1958 — Allen Steele, 64. Best, I think, at the shorter length works as reflected in his three Hugo wins: the first at LA Con III for his “The Death of Captain Future”, the second for his “… Where Angels Fear to Tread” at BucConeer and his third for “The Emperor of Mars” at Renovation. Not to say that you should overlook his novels and future history series beginning with The Jericho Iteration, which is well-worth your time.
- Born January 19, 1962 — Paul McCrane, 60. Emil Antonowsky in RoboCop whose death there is surely an homage to the Toxic Avenger. A year later, he’d be Deputy Bill Briggs in the remake of The Blob, and he played Leonard Morris Betts in the “Leonard Betts” episode of the X-Files.
(14) COMICS SECTION.
- The Argyle Sweater is an instant classic!
- Non Sequitur knows how to encourage everyone’s paranoia…
(15) GENRE MUSIC TOPS THE CHARTS. In the Washington Post, Bethonie Butler says that the songs from Encanto have become very popular, with four songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” reaching #5. They’ve also gotten many fans on TikTok. “How ‘Encanto’ and its soundtrack became a viral phenomenon”.
… If you didn’t know the “Hamilton” creator was responsible for “Encanto’s” original songs, you would almost certainly know by the time you heard “Surface Pressure.” In the bouncy track, the brawny Luisa (Jessica Darrow) belts out her anxiety and resolve around the (literal) heavy lifting she takes on to help her family. It contains one of the most [Lin Manuel] Miranda–esque lines ever: “Under the surface, I feel berserk as a tightrope walker in a three-ring circus,” Luisa sings before asking, “Was Hercules ever like ‘Yo, I don’t wanna fight Cerberus?”
(16) THE SKY’S NO LIMIT. “Radian announces plans to build one of the holy grails of spaceflight” – Ars Technica has the story.
A Washington-state based aerospace company has exited stealth mode by announcing plans to develop one of the holy grails of spaceflight—a single-stage-to-orbit space plane. Radian Aerospace said it is deep into the design of an airplane-like vehicle that could take off from a runway, ignite its rocket engines, spend time in orbit, and then return to Earth and land on a runway.
“We all understand how difficult this is,” said Livingston Holder, Radian’s co-founder, chief technology officer, and former head of the Future Space Transportation and X-33 program at Boeing.
(17) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Newsweek is deeply concerned: “Earth’s Core Is Cooling Faster Than Expected, Creating Uncertain Future for Planet”.
A study has unveiled secrets previously locked deep inside the Earth’s interior that could have profound implications for the future of the planet we call home.
The research paper, published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, shows Earth’s core is cooling faster than scientists had thought previously.
Scientists examined the conductivity of bridgmanite, previously named as the most abundant material in the Earth, that is found in great quantities between the core and mantle of the Earth’s interior—a place known as the Core-Mantle-Boundary (CMB.)
By experimenting on bridgmanite using extreme temperatures and pressures found at the CMB, scientists found that bridgmanite is about 1.5 times more conductive of heat than previously thought.
Consequently, the heat transfer of the high temperatures found at the center of the Earth to its outer areas, like the molten rock of the mantle and beyond, is happening faster than was previously thought….
(18) SMELLETH LIKE THE SHOW THOU LOVE. Last month, Old Spice did a commercial that ties into The Witcher. And Netflix ran a related quiz that’s still online: “Old Spice + The Witcher” – I’m counting on you to better my rate of 50% correct.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Hawkeye,” the Screen Junkies say that “in a multiverse of infinite possibilities, even the lamest ideas must exist” and that the series features Hawkeye’s assistant, who is obsessed with branding, and a deaf character who doesn’t have to hear the characters surrounding her overuse the word “bro.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Chris Barkley, Dann, Cora Buhlert, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stuart Hall.]
13) Spelled “Allen” Steele…
“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power“?
My word, but that is terrible.
(4) This is not the first time a bad DMCA takedown notice has destroyed good things. It could be the plot of a Cory Doctorow novel. 🙁
(8) Once again, go Cora!
(11) What a damn waste. Gaspard Ulliel was also in “Hannibal Rising” (which is genre if you count serial killer stories as horror). He was one of the few highlights of that movie. If “Hannibal Rising” had done better, I wonder if he would have gotten more roles in English-language movies — and whether that would have been a good thing or a bad thing.
Nothing much to add at the moment – but click
Number eleven) I fucking hate traumatic head injuries. They are so damn unpredictable. What doesn’t kill one person will kill another.
I finally got a combination of meds, three of them, all very powerful, that controls my seizures from my severe traumatic head injury but of course that created its own set of unpredictable effects.
“What is the use of a scroll,” thought Alice, “without pixels or conversation?”
jayn says “What is the use of a scroll,” thought Alice, “without pixels or conversation?”
Damn jayn, that is one elegant bit of conversation!
#4) First Amazon algorithms trash author accounts, then anti-piracy service (does this make them pirate hunters?) screw up and knock out the Fantasy Book Critic.
This is not a good week for AI and makes me think self-driving cars will be a nightmare.
Well…it’s not outstanding, but Amazon paid the Tolkien estate a billion dollars for the right to be terrible, I guess.
California is taking a close look at “self-driving” cars, because they seem to be unusually accident-prone, even when the official drivers aren’t paying attention.
1) The way they describe it, the show could be a linked set of 20 stories, one for each of the great rings of power. I doubt that they will do that, though.
(13) Richard Lester directed Help!, which has always seemed a genre film to me.
1) One neat thing — apparently, that title card was actually created practically, not with CGI.
Turns out people who sell NFT’s don’t know how copyright works, who knew?
Crypto group shamed for spending $3m on ‘Dune’ book, mistakenly believing it had acquired copyright to produce NFTs
Also, they were/are panning to burn the physical copy they acquired ?
I am somewhat sad that (to the best of my non-lawyerly understanding, and different from what I thought at the beginning of the DMCA era) the perjury statutes in the DMCA only covers the “I declare that I am acting on behalf of” and not the “this is a likely infringement”.
Self-driving cars in a traffic environment shared with human drivers is (again to the best of my non-expert understanding) a shockingly complicated (and shockingly complex) problem.
1) Well, I’m very excited about it!
7) The Unreal Matrix tech demo is extremely impressive, by far the best real-time game technology I’ve seen.
The Chief Technology Officer of Epic (Unreal’s makers) is Kim Libreri, who previously worked in movie VFX, not least as VFX supervisor on Matrices 2 and 3.
(13) Not directly genre, but IMHO Geena Davis also deserves recognition for her work at the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (https://seejane.org/) which has done a tremendous amount of both activism and practical work to improve media representation of women and girls.
Oh, I guess people have seen that a new Trigger story is out?
(13) I’m pretty sure that Richard Lester is better known as the director of “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!” than even for the Superman movies. IIRC, “Help!” even has fantasy elements.
13) which means that his four novella series for the Captain Future franchise plays to his strengths (Captain Future in Love, The Guns of Pluto, 1,500 Light Years From Home and The Horror at Jupiter, all available at Amazing Stories.
Steve Davidson says which means that his four novella series for the Captain Future franchise plays to his strengths (Captain Future in Love, The Guns of Pluto, 1,500 Light Years From Home and The Horror at Jupiter, all available at Amazing Stories.
Are these all free there? They’re also available from the usual suspects but they cost a reasonable amount there.
1) If they fuck up my boy Celebrimbor I’m a gonna do violence. Also Lindon is a region, not a city, and while there are forests there it’s a Noldorin kingdom, they build in stone, unlike the Galadhrim.
@ingvar: yep. Not to mention kids who find all manners of ways to subvert technology: these cars have radar to judge distances. get out on the hiway with a couple of friends, box one of these cars in and start getting closer…setting off default routines when the program can no longer handle a situation where there is “no” safe direction or speed….
Kids hacking shit for fun on the PC is one level of annoyance; doing so on the hiway at 75 mps is another thing entirely
Meredith Moment: Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Certain Dark Things is currently $2.99.
(8) Cora has written great posts – because so even-handed and usefully informative – on this. many thanks.
Just checked in at ConFusion 2022. Going to wander down and see if they need any volunteers right now.
I’m off in the morning to see Farhia Ahmed, a friend from Somalia, become a United States citizen. I’ve never seen the naturalisation oath being done for someone before, so I’m very excited to see this ceremony take place.
I got to quiz her on the questions that she was potentially going to be asked at her naturalisation interview. I cannot say that I knew all of the answers, particularly what the amendments to the Constitution were. It’s been a very long time since I studied American history In University.
In the end, they asked the obvious questions, ie who’s the President, who’s your Senator and what was the meaning of the Fourth of July was were three of the four questions asked. I forget the fourth question. Now I remember — Who did we fight in the War for Independence.
You’re very welcome. I’m glad you enjoyed the posts.
(17) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT.
Thanks so much! Hope your meds are fully effective for you and any side effects transient.
jayn says Thanks so much! Hope your meds are fully effective for you and any side effects transient.
The fascinating aspect of the meds is having the neurologist adjust what else I take to compensate for the unintended effects of the anti-seizure meds. This time she added B-2 to what I’m taking making my total of meds and supplements fifteen now. The B vitamins are all essential to neurological functioning in some way.
@Cat Eldridge–I’m glad your seizures are controlled, and I hope the adjustment of your other meds works well.
Lis Carey says I’m glad your seizures are controlled, and I hope the adjustment of your other meds works well.
Yep, the three anti-seizure meds have completely eliminated the seizures finally. The four year old continuous headache is still here but but almost manageable, and the blood pressure’s fine now.
I’m not getting my thrice or more broken right shoulder operated on until the Covid crisis is better as Jenner, my PCP, and I agree I’m not a candidate for out-patient surgery and MaineMed is not doing any elective surgery right now.
I also didn’t get my week long neurological evaluation done in December because of the Covid crisis as MaineMed is really short of CNAs who act as observers fpr those stays. I’m scheduled for May now.