(1) Arthur C. Clarke’s papers came to the Smithsonian Institution earlier this year. Patti Williams, acquisition archivist for the National Air and Space Museum, blogged about the steps in bringing the materials from Sri Lanka to the U.S.
I have been the Museum’s acquisition archivist for almost 26 years, and during that time over 3,200 archival collections have been entrusted to us. Most of these materials have been personally delivered or shipped, but it has sometimes been necessary for me to travel to obtain a collection, whether to California, New York, or South Dakota. Sri Lanka has certainly been the furthest I’ve travelled for a collection.
Martin Collins, a curator for the Space History Department, gave an overview of what’s in Clarke’s papers, accompanied by many photos.
What emerges from a first review of his papers is a deeply thoughtful man shaped by and creatively responding to his time—with World War II and the first decades of the Cold War as critically formative. From his early 20s through the rest of life he possessed a remarkably consistent vision and purpose of what was important to him: to make sense of a world experiencing tremendous advances in science and technology, the result of which, in his view, augured potentially radical changes in the fabric of social and cultural life. In the years after the war, this dynamic seemed especially insistent, making the idea and reality of the “future” a critical problem in need of understanding. Through his career, this challenge led Clarke to advance his three laws of prediction (easily found via an internet search), an attempt to make serious the future as a shared, collective human concern but do so with a light touch.
From this vantage, Clarke’s interest in science fiction, as is evident throughout his papers, was not merely incidental but central: It was his essential tool, perhaps the best one, for sorting through and understanding this condition and educating readers about the time in which they were living.
(2) In a podcast for Creature Features, Walter Murch, writer and director of Return to Oz, “discusses the long genesis of the 1985 fantasy film, how personal a project it was for him, how tumultuous it became at times, and how happy he is with it after 30 years.”
Soundcloud – Pod People Episode 4 – Walter Murch
(3) The PBS documentary about cosplay aired in 2013 can be viewed online.
(4) The Golden Age Site’s post about “New York Comic Book Conventions ~ 1966-1978 ~ The good old days when Comic Shows were about comics” shows many many fans in those days were involved in both comics and sf, inspiring Andrew Porter to comment, “Gosh, there’s my name at the top, along with a bunch of [now] old pharts!”
I also ran off the program — about 250 copies of a single page, as I recall — for Dave Kaler’s NY Comic Convention, held in 1965 at the Hotel Broadway Central (an impressive pile in Theodore Dreiser’s “Sister Carrie”) on my Ditto machine.
(5) The University of Oregon Libraries will celebrate the acquisition of the James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice B. Sheldon) literary papers with a two-day symposium at the Eugene, Oregon campus on December 4-5, 2015.
The acquisition of the Tiptree Papers enriches Special Collections and University Archives’ growing collection of feminist science fiction manuscript collections, which include the Ursula K. Le Guin Papers, the Joanna Russ Papers, the Sally Miller Gearhart Papers, and the Suzette Haden Elgin Papers.
The symposium will kick off with a keynote talk by Julie Phillips, author of the biography: James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice Sheldon (St. Martins, 2006), and will also feature a panel discussion with other writers who carried on lively and engaging correspondence with Tiptree, including Ursula K. Le Guin, Suzy McKee Charnas and David Gerrold.
(6) Emily Hughes conducts “Updraft: A Q&A with Fran Wilde” at Suvudu.
SUVUDU: Updraft has some of the most original worldbuilding I’ve ever come across – could you tell us a little bit about your process for creating the details of this city built out of bone towers and its residents?
FRAN WILDE: That’s wonderful to hear! The city of bone towers was born late one night at a writing workshop following many cups of coffee. I realized that I wanted to write a story set in a living city with a focus on engineering and flight. (I wasn’t drinking Red Bull, I swear.)
What emerged from that writing session was a short story that had elements of Milton’s Paradise Lost, The Codex Seraphinianus, China Mieville’s short stories about living cities in Looking for Jake, and Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities as ancestors. The story contained the man-made wings, bridges, and bone towers that exist today, but the characters and conflict were different. After reading it, Gordon Van Gelder of Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine wrote me to suggest I look at other high-altitude megastructure stories like Steven Gould’s “Peaches for Mad Molly” and K.W. Jeter’s Farewell Horizontal as well.
So my process from the first draft involved a lot of reading. In the end, when the short story had grown into a novel, and the very spare sketch of bone towers and wings had grown into a world, the process also involved getting into a wind tunnel to go indoor skydiving, and talking to cloud and weather experts about wind shear near steep, high-altitude objects, and to biologists about bone growth. I also researched scarcity societies, high-altitude food production, and cephalopods, among other things.
(7) John Plotz recalls A Wizard of Earthsea in “Le Guin’s Anarchist Aesthetics” on Public Books.
Le Guin’s peculiar gift, though, is to make the ordinary feel as important as the epic: mundane questions about who’s cutting firewood or doing the dishes share space with rune books and miscast spells. Her Earthsea has less in common with Narnia, Hogwarts, and Percy Jackson’s Camp Half-Blood than it does with medieval romances and Icelandic sagas, where dragons and death keep company with fishing yarns, goat-herding woes, and village quarrels.
Plotz also interviewed Le Guin for Public Books in June.
JP: And has it always been clear to you which category your books fall into?
UL: Oh no. When I started it was all mushed up together! My first three novels are kind of science fantasy. Rocannon’s World (1966) is full of Norse myth barely disguised. But I began to realize there was a real difference between these two ways of using the imagination. So I wrote Earthsea and Left Hand of Darkness. From then on I was following two paths.
In Left Hand of Darkness I was using science fiction to come at a problem that I realized was very deep in me and everybody else: what is gender? What gender am I? A question we just hadn’t been asking. Look at all the answers that are coming out now. We have really deconstructed it. We really didn’t even have the word “gender” back then. Just, “What sex are you?” So in some respects we really have come a long way, and in a good direction, I think.
(8) Gregory N. Hullender says, “No one seems to have commented on it yet, but I think the December 2015 Analog is unusually strong. After a really weak year, maybe they’re getting their act together.” He has more to say on Reddit.
(9) Irish children’s laureate Eoin Colfer (“Artemis Fowl”) and illustrator and writer Oliver Jeffers have joined forces to create an imaginary friend.
They decided to collaborate on ‘Imaginary Fred’ due to a chance meeting in New Zealand.
“We were there for the Auckland book festival and we met up at a story slam competition,” Mr Colfer said.
“We were giggling like schoolboys at each other’s stories, and at the end of the night we said let’s do something together.”
‘Imaginary Fred’ tells the story of Fred, who becomes the imaginary friend of Sam, a boy in need of company.
The two embark on a series of adventures together, but when Sam meets Sammi, a girl with an imaginary friend of her own, Fred has to move on from Sam.
The story, unusually, is told from Imaginary Fred’s point of view.
“I like to do that with my books,” said Mr Colfer.
“To take what is often a secondary character and make them the main character because they’re a lot more interesting to me.”
(10) An event celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Marion E. Wade Center on October 29 at 7 pm Central time will be livestreamed. The Wade is a focal point of Inklings scholarship. Featured speakers will include the Wade’s former director, Dr. Lyle W. Dorsett, poet Luci Shaw, and Dr. Leland Ryken, who is currently at work on a book length history of the Wade Center. The dedication of the new Bakke Auditorium will be part of this special evening. Watch the proceedings online via WETN.
Join us as we celebrate our newest Artist on the Stairwell! Illustrator George Cwirko-Godycki presents a limited edition poster show inspired by the works of Ray Bradbury. The show is the first in Vroman’s Artists on Authors series in the stairwell where visionary artists interpret the works of renowned authors. The first 25 attendees will receive a signed catalog of the exhibition that details the process of creating this unique show from start to finish. George is based in San Francisco where he provides concept illustration for the entertainment industry and teaches figure drawing at the Academy of Art University.
(12) Frequent File 770 contributor James H. Burns’ writes about the Tri-State losing a major supermarket chain, Pathmark, in a piece for the Long Island Press.
Ultimately, the neatest feature at Pathmark for a youngster may have been a huge paperback section featuring an amazing array of bestsellers and non-fiction books. Pathmark was where I bought some of my very first books on the history of movies, including, in my monster-loving youth, a biography of Boris Karloff!
From its inception in Franklin Square, Pathmark had tried to be unique. At the back of the store was a section invoking the classic Horn and Hardart cafeterias in Manhattan, famous for all the food, sandwiches and cakes and the like, being offered through slots in the wall protected by a glass cover. If you put coins in the apparatus, you could lift the cover and take your treat. Horn and Hardart was famous for the quality of its offerings, and for being a very affordable place for any New Yorker to put together a decent meal. More than one location also became known as a writers’ hangout, with some of the best-known reporters and talent of the era sitting for a long while, sipping their coffee, and enjoying the conversation.
Beginning in the 1970s, Pathmark also had a long running series of television commercials, starring James Karen. Most of us probably presumed he was a Pathmark executive, until he also began popping up as an actor in horror movies like “Poltergeist” and “The Return of the Living Dead.”
(13) Pee Wee Herman’s blog features a gallery of photos of work by the “’Picasso of Pumpkin Carving’ Ray Villafane”.
Until October 31st, the town of Carefree, Arizona is hosting the Enchanted Pumpkin Garden, a one-of-a-kind event conceived by master pumpkin carver Ray Villafane! The Wall Street Journal calls him the “Picasso of pumpkin carving.”
(14) Ray Bradbury is all over the place in this documentary about Charlie Chaplin, first at the 40 second mark
(15) The Nitrate Diva links to “Fear You Can Hear: 31 of the Scariest old Time Radio Episodes for Halloween”
They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but, when it comes to the best old-time radio horror, each word is worth a thousand pictures.
By using voices, sound effects, and snippets of music, masters of radio terror turned what could’ve been a disadvantage of the medium—we can’t see what’s happening—into their greatest asset.
Radio writers and actors spawned monsters that the technology of the time couldn’t have realistically portrayed on film. They suggested depravity and gore that screen censorship would’ve banned. And they could manipulate the imagination so that listeners themselves collaborated in the summoning of their worst fears.
In case you can’t tell, I adore old-time ratio (OTR) horror. After countless hours poring over archives of old shows, I’ve selected 31 bloodcurdling episodes, from 1934 all the way up to 1979, for your pleasure.
Millions of Star Wars fans may have eagerly devoured the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, due out on December 18, but William Shatner—captain of the starship Enterprise and star of the original Star Trek series—wasn’t among them. “To me there isn’t a controversy,” the actor tells Newsweek. “Star Trek is far superior to Star Wars.”
(17) Would Dr. Sheldon Cooper agree? He certainly has plenty of reason to be happy with Star Trek.
Fans of The Big Bang Theory and Star Trek can rejoice because an upcoming episode the geektastic TV sitcom will feature a guest appearance from the son of Mr. Spock himself, Adam Nimoy! Plus, we have an exclusive first look at the episode, which airs on Thurs., Nov. 5 at 8/7! In “The Spock Resonance,” recurring guest star Wil Wheaton will appear alongside Adam, an accomplished writer and director in real life, who asks Sheldon Cooper to be in a documentary about his beloved father, Leonard.
(18) Natalie Luhrs has a terrific post about “World Fantasy’s Harassment Non-Policy” at Pretty Terrible.
The final progress report from World Fantasy was emailed to members this evening. It included the harassment policy, which is legalistic and is essentially useless. For posterity, here it is…
[Thanks to Bill Menker, Michael J. Walsh, Andrew Porter, Bill Burns, James H. Burns, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]