(1) SFF HISTORY. Jaroslav Olsa Jr., Consul General at the Czech Consulate in Los Angeles, will lecture on forgotten Czech-American science fiction writer Miles / Miloslav J. Breuer during the November 18 LASFS meeting.
After publishing a small booklet and opening of an exhibition on Breuer, you can hear a short lecture (30 min) on Breuer, his Czech-American life and science fiction I am to deliver on 18 November 2021 to Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. LASFS was created by my late friend Forrest J Ackerman in 1934 and this is to be its meeting number 4395!!!
The zoom room opens on 18 November 2021 at 7:45 PM Pacific Standard Time (in Europe it is 19 November 04:45 AM, and in Beijing 19 November at 11:45 AM), meeting starts at 8:00 PM, my lecture will be the part of the meeting.
You do not need to be LASFS member – only use the following link. Zoom address: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82574832548
(2) AUREALIS AWARDS ALERT. There is now less than one month until entries close for the 2021 Aurealis Awards. The administrators remind Australian creators —
It’s important to remember that ALL eligible Australian work published for the first time between January 1 and December 31, 2021 must be entered by December 14, even work intended for publication after the December 14 cut off date.
(3) SEE WORLD FANTASY AWARDS. A recording of the World Fantasy Awards 2021 awards ceremony held Sunday, November 7 can be viewed here.
(4) JOURNEY PLANET. Journey Planet issue 59, dedicated to the Hugos, continues the zine’s usual year-end deluge of issues. Available here.
Chris Garcia and James Bacon are joined by Jean Martin for an issue that takes a look at the Hugos in various ways. Hugo nominee Cora Buhlert looks at one of Fritz Lieber’s legendary stories. Chris Garcia and Kristy Baxter bring their podcast Short Story Short Podcast to the pages of Journey Planet as they look at the 2021 Best Short Story nominees, Jean interviews the amazing Hugo-winning Fan Artist Maurine Starkey, and Hugo winning Fanzine Editor James Bacon looks at Best Graphic Story. All this with art by Mo Starkey and Chris Garcia’s various AI-assisted programs!
(5) STRANGE MUSIC. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews The Artful Escape.
The most bizarre premise of any game I’ve played was that of 2007’s role playing title Eternal Sonata. As it begins, Frederic Chopin is lying on his death bed aged 35, succumbing to tuberculosis. In his dying state, he dreams a vivid fantasy world. Here the player controls an anime-fied Chopin and teams up with a cast of plucky teens. However, this imaginative conceit only leads to a rote exercise in dungeon-crawling, broken up by dry educational interludes that tell the story of the composer’s life, scored by his nocturnes…
…The game (The Artful Escape) is a simple platformer offering little challenge, but it has visual flair and the genius inclusion of a button you can press at any time to launch into a wailing guitar solo (I held it down for almost the entire game). With hilarious vocal turns from Carl Weathers, Lena Headey, Jason Schwartzman and Mark Strong, The Artful Escape is more engaging as a story, but it resonates as a fable about finding your own voice.
(6) GAIMAN ON STAGE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Also behind a paywall in the Financial Times, Sarah Hemming reviews the theatrical adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, which will be at Britain’s National Theatre through May.
What’s brilliant about Katy Rudd’s staging is that it keeps all options open. Perhaps it’s true that a hideous otherworldly creature does (literally) worm its way through the boy’s hand and into his household, assuming the seductive form of Ursula, a woman who beguiles his dad and his sister. Or perhaps we’re in the traumatised imagination of a shy boy, struggling to comprehend death. Or perhaps it is his adult mind, transposing a buried memory about when his father became abusive (the double casting of Nicolas Tennant as both father and adult son hints at this).
On stage, interior and exterior landscapes overlap, just as they do in memory, and something is no less real for being imagined. The boy seeks refuge in stories, all of them pitched on the threshold between this world and another. Rudd’s staging takes this as its key. Thresholds and portals loom large in Fly Davis’s set: at home, doors move and multiply in nightmare fashion to allow Ursula to keep bursting in on him (a transfixing bit of stagecraft); a window offers escape; thickets on the farm yield up terrifying, shape-shifting creatures composed of rags and shards and beaks (designed by Samuel Wyer).
(7) IMPORTANT BITS. “Bill Nighy to narrate Terry Pratchett’s footnotes in new Discworld recordings”. The Guardian says, “The actor will bring Pratchett’s ‘personal commentary’ to life in a star-studded re-recording of all 40 Discworld audiobooks.”
Bill Nighy might be one of the UK’s best-loved actors, known for roles from Love Actually’s Billy Mack to Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean. But he will be relegated to the marginalia in his next endeavour after signing up to read the footnotes in a new adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.
Nighy will be part of a star-studded re-recording of all 40 Discworld audiobooks from Penguin Random House, which will see narrators read nearly four million words in total, over almost 150 days in the studio, to result in more than 400 hours of finished audio. Indira Varma, of Game of Thrones fame, will be narrating Pratchett’s books about his trio of witches, Fleabag’s Sian Clifford will narrate the titles in which Death plays a major role, and Andy Serkis will narrate Small Gods, with more casting to be announced….
(8) WHILE WE’RE WAITING FOR THE TARDIS TO BE INVENTED. “The UK’s red telephone boxes are disappearing. But some are getting a second life” – ZDNet tells how.
There are still around 21,000 phone boxes across the UK: if that seems like a lot, then it’s worth remembering that there used to be nearer to 100,000.
We made five million calls from those kiosks last year, but volumes have also been dropping for some time: we spent 800 million minutes talking in phone boxes in 2002, but just seven million last year.
That’s bad news for the remaining telephone boxes across the country…
…Still, amidst this inevitable decline, the UK’s communications watchdog Ofcom has announced plans to protect about 5,000 boxes, for example giving a kiosk more protection from being decommissioned if more that 52 calls were made from it in the last year or if it’s situated in an accident hotspot. But beyond this protected sub-set, what about the rest?
As William Gibson famously noted ‘the street finds its own uses for things’. Technology is often put to uses unplanned or unexpected by its makers….
…And already the street is finding new uses for phone boxes: in the last few years, 6,000 have been turned into everything from miniature libraries to holders of defibrillators….
(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. In The Munsters, the Raven in the “cuckoo clock” who said “Nevermore” instead of cuckoo was voiced by Mel Blanc.
(10) CLIFFORD ROSE (1929-2021). A founding member of the Royal Shakespeare Company who also appeared in Doctor Who, actor Clifford Rose, died November 6 at the age of 92. The Guardian’s obituary is here.
[He] was a founder member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960 and one of its most prominent “second leads” over many seasons.
For a time, and before returning to the RSC, he was a household face, reaching even larger audiences in the 1981 Doctor Who story Warriors’ Gate, as the maverick starship trooper Captain Rorvik, who is transporting the enslaved, time-sensitive Tharils, a pride of leonine aliens – until the fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, intervenes.
… On film, he played nice cameos in 2011, in the fourth of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, On Stranger Tides (in a neat scene with Johnny Depp, he plays bailiff to Depp’s “pretend” judge), and in Phyllida Lloyd’s underrated The Iron Lady, with Meryl Streep as the best ever Mrs Thatcher, Jim Broadbent her gobsmacked loyal husband, Denis.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1991 — Thirty years ago, The Addams Family premiered. It’s based off both the characters from the cartoon created by Charles Addams and the Sixties Addams Family series. It was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld in his film directing debut from a screenplay by Caroline Thompson who had co-wrote the story for Edward Scissorhands and Larry Wilson who co-wrote Beatlejuice. It had an amazing cast of Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci, Jimmy Workman, Judith Malina, Carel Struycken and Christopher Hart. So how was the reception for it? The consensus among critics at the times was that it was mildly amusing but not much more than that. Only the BBC really liked it saying that, “the top-notch cast that elevates this film from flimsy to sheer delight.” It was however a box office success making over two hundred million dollars against a thirty million dollar budget. Over at Rotten Tomatoes, audience reviewers give a rather superb sixty-six percent rating. It would be nominated for a Hugo at MagiCon, the year that Terminator 2: Judgment Day won. It followed by a sequel, Addams Family Values, two years later.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born November 16, 1907 — Burgess Meredith. Brief though his visit to genre was, he had significant roles. The first was in Twilight Zone: The Movie as Narrator although initially he was uncredited. One of his other genre role was a delightful take as The Penguin in original Batman series. He also shows up in Tales of Tomorrow, an anthology sf series that was performed and broadcast live on ABC in the early Fifties, and on The Invaders, The Twilight Zone, Faerie Tale Theatre: Thumbelina (with Carrie Fisher!) and The Wild Wild West. Did I mention he voiced Puff the Magic Dragon in a series of the same name? Well he did. Ok so his visit to our world wasn’t so brief after all… (Died 1997.)
- Born November 16, 1952 — Candas Jane Dorsey, 69. Canadian writer who’s the winner of the Prix Aurora Award and the Otherwise Award for gender bending SF for her Black Wine novel. She’s also won a Prix Aurora Award for her short story, “Sleeping in a Box”. She’s one of the founders of SF Canada was founded as an authors collective in the late Eighties as Canada’s National Association of Speculative Fiction Professionals. At the present time, she appears to have little available from the usual digital suspects.
- Born November 16, 1952 — Robin McKinley, 69. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast was her first book. It was considered a superb work and was named an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Rose Daughter is another version of that folktale, whereas Spindle’s End is the story of Sleeping Beauty, and Deerskin and two of the stories that you can find in The Door in the Hedge are based on other folktales. She does a superb telling of the Robin Hood legend in The Outlaws of Sherwood. Among her novels that are not based on folktales are Sunshine, Chalice and Dragonhaven. Her 1984 The Hero and the Crown won the Newbery Medal as that year’s best new American children’s book. She was married to Peter Dickinson from 1991 to his death in 2015, they lived together in Hampshire, England where she still lives. They co-wrote two splendid collections, Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits and Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits. I’d be very remiss not to note her Awards, to wit a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword, then a Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown, a World Fantasy Award for Anthology/Collection for Imaginary Lands, as editor, a Phoenix Award Honor Book for Beauty and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for Sunshine. Impressive indeed!
- Born November 16, 1962 — Darwyn Cooke. Canadian comics artist, writer, cartoonist, and animator. His work has garnered myriad Eisner, Harvey, and Joe Shuster Awards. He did the art on Jeph Leob’s Batman/The Spirit one-off, and did everything including the cover art on the most delicious Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score. Cooke adapted for IDW five of Donald Westlake’s Richard Stark novels in graphic novel form, four after Westlake passed on. (Died 2016.)
- Born November 16, 1972 — Missi Pyle, 49. Laliari in the Hugo winning Galaxy Quest which is one of my fave feel good SF films of all time. Let’s hope that a series never comes to be. She’s also has been in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, A Haunted House 2, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Roswell, The Tick, Pushing Daisies and Z Nation.
- Born November 16, 1976 — Lavie Tidhar, 45. The first work I read by him was Central Station which won a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. It certainly deserved that accolade! The next work by him I experienced was The Bookman Histories in which Mycroft Holmes is murdered and, well, everything of a pulp nature gets tossed into alternate history England. Both absolutely brilliant and completely annoying at the same time. I’m just read Unholy Land, his telling of the founding of a Jewish homeland long ago in Africa, and I’ve got By Force Alone, his profane Arthurian retelling, on my TBL list.
- Born November 16, 1977 — Gigi Edgley, 44. Though her genre experiences are varied, I think she’ll be only remembered for her role as Chiana, a Nebari who was a member of Moya’s crew on Farscape. Other genre appearances include Beastmaster, The Lost World, Quantum Apocalypse and she has a role in the video fanfic Star Trek Continues in the “Come Not Between the Dragons” episode.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
- Zits finds a record of genre interest that deserves to be even rarer.
(14) JUST SAY NO. “Somebody finally fixed the ending of The Giving Tree.” Read the “fixed it for you” ending at Literary Hub.
This weekend on Instagram, I discovered something I never knew I always wanted: a helpful update to Shel Silverstein’s psychotic parenting allegory The Giving Tree, in which a tree gives up every molecule of itself to help some ungrateful kid, and we’re supposed to think it’s good and noble or something. Yeah, you remember.
Anyway, playwright and screenwriter Topher Payne has now fixed it. The Tree Who Set Healthy Boundaries is part of Payne’s “Topher Fixed It” series, which was created in support of The Atlanta Artist Relief Fund, and which offers printable alternate endings for certain problematic children’s books….
(15) SANDBOX. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Dune (2021)” the Screen Junkies say the film “at its core is about getting high while your workaholic parents are distracted” and that Paul Atreides “would be a perfect fit in the X-Men Universe, but here Professor X just teaches you how to recycle your piss.”
(16) WRECK OPPORTUNITY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Thousands of pieces of dangerous debris were left in orbit when Russia conducted an anti-satellite missile test this past weekend. Reportedly at least 1500 pieces large enough to be tracked were generated as well as likely many thousands more objects too small to be tracked from the ground. “US says it ‘won’t tolerate’ Russia’s ‘reckless and dangerous’ anti-satellite missile test”.
The US strongly condemned a Russian anti-satellite test on Monday that forced crew members on the International Space Station to scramble into their spacecraft for safety, calling it “a reckless and dangerous act” and saying that it “won’t tolerate” behavior that puts international interests at risk.
US Space Command said Russia tested a direct-ascent anti-satellite, or DA-ASAT missile, striking a Russian satellite and creating a debris field in low-Earth orbit of more than 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris that is also likely to generate hundreds of thousands of pieces of smaller orbital debris.
US officials emphasized the long-term dangers and potential global economic fallout from the Russian test, which has created hazards for satellites that provide people around the world with phone and broadband service, weather forecasting, GPS systems which underpin aspects of the financial system, including bank machines, as well in-flight entertainment and satellite radio and television.
… The crew on board the ISS had to quickly don their spacesuits and jump into their spacecrafts in case the station was hit by some passing debris, according to Russia’s space agency ROSCOSMOS. Two US officials told CNN the precautionary measures were a direct result of the debris cloud caused by the Russian test….
Spaceflight Now’s coverage also includes a lengthy history of various countries’ history of testing satellite-destroying missiles, including the U.S., China and India. U.S. officials: Space station at risk from ‘reckless’ Russian anti-satellite test – Spaceflight Now
(17) LEND ME YOUR EARS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Front Row, the BBC’s daily arts show, on November 15 had a mention of Kim Stanley Robinson in the intro, then halfway through or thereabouts a brief reading from Ministry for the Future, followed by a discussion by others about dystopian and utopian fiction. Audio available at the link.
(18) COP26. The recent COP26 conference included a session on “Arts and the Imagination Hosted by Brian Eno”. Some familiar sff names participated.
Just as we need climate scientists to present the facts, we need the arts and culture to help us think and feel and talk about the climate crisis at all levels. The conversation needs scientists – but it urgently needs artists too. Science discovers, Art digests. Art and culture tell us stories about other possible worlds, lives, and ways of being. A novel or a film invites us to experience an imaginary world and see how we feel about it. Culture is where our minds go to experiment, to try out new feelings. This special event on the final day of COP26 features story-tellers, artists and performers brought together by 5×15 and Brian Eno, EarthPercent and the Jaipur Literature Festival to explore the role of artists and the arts in responding to climate change. As COP26 draws to a close, we’re looking forward to the road ahead and exploring the power of imagination to drive change – for humans, for animals, for flora and fauna, for soil, for oceans. Featuring Rosie Boycott, Brian Eno, Carolina Caycedo, Amitav Ghosh, Kim Stanley Robinson, Ben Okri, Charlotte Jarvis, Mirabella Okri, Olafur Eliasson, Emtithal Mahmoud, Wilson Oryema, Neil Gaiman and more.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Jeanne Jackson, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chris Garcia, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]