(1) BABY YODA ON PARADE. A helium-filled Grogu designed by the toy company Funko was in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – the New York Times tells how that happened.
(2) CITY TECH SYMPOSIUM. The Sixth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium at City Tech in New York will be held December 9. Read the full program and register to see the event on Zoom at this link. (For those who would like to watch the event without registering, watch the YouTube Livestream here.)
The Sixth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium on Access and Science Fiction will be held on Thursday, December 9, 2021 from 9:00am-5:00pm online via Zoom Webinar.
To participate in this free event, attendees will need to (1) Signup for a free Zoom account here (if you don’t already have one), and (2) Register here to receive access instructions to the Zoom Webinar. Participants may register any time before or during the event!
Here are a couple of the program items:
Analog Writers Panel and the Analog Emerging Black Voices Award
Emily Hockaday – Moderator; Panelists: Alec Nevala-Lee, Marie Vibbert, Chelsea Obodoechina, Trevor Quachri
“Writing Ourselves In: Teaching Writing and Science Fiction with Wikipedia”
Ximena Gallardo C. and Ann Matsuuchi
Wanett Clyde – Introduction and Moderator
(3) THE GALACTIC IMAGINARIUM FILM FESTIVAL TAKING SUBMISSIONS. The Galactic Imaginarium Film Festival from Dumbravita-Timis, Romania, is one of the few Sci-fi and Fantasy Film Festivals in Eastern Europe. The festival has film screening, conferences, debates and happenings in a hybrid format. The 2022 edition will have Jury Awards and Popular Awards, for five categories (Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Animation, Comedy/Parody and Documentary) for short and feature films.
The submission period is open now, for the above categories. Filmmakers and distributors are invited to submit their films using FilmFreeway platform at the address: https://filmfreeway.com/TGIFF
On May 31st, while perusing the indispensable list on The Internet Speculative Fiction Database, I came across an author unknown to me–Melisa Michaels (1946-2019) (bibliography). She’s best known for the five-volume Skyrider sequence (1985-1988) of space operas “depicting the growth into maturity of its eponymous female Starship-pilot protagonist” (SF Encyclopedia).
As I’m always willing to explore the work of authors new to me, I decided to review the first three of her six published SF short stories. Two of the three stories deal with my favorite SF topics–trauma and memory.”
(5) TWAIN’S THANKSGIVING. The Mark Twain House & Museum shared:
When asked what Twain was thankful for, he said…
“You ask me for a sentiment which shall state how much I have to be thankful for this time. For years it has been a rule with me not to expose my gratitude in print on Thanksgiving Day, but I wish to break the rule now and pour out my thankfulness; for there is more of it than I can contain without straining myself. I am thankful — thankful beyond words — that I had only $51,000 on deposit in the Knickerbocker Trust, instead of a million; for if I had had a million in that bucket shop, I should be nineteen times as sorry as I am now. Trusting this paean of joy will satisfy your requirement,
I am Yours truly,
– letter to editor of New York World, 27 October 1907
They make up for it with a video about the Clemens family pets. (Warning: Mostly dogs, no matter what this intro says.)
The Cat in the Ruff is one of many cats who’ve graced the Mark Twain House over the years. Do you know how many cats Sam Clemens remembered having in his childhood home? Find out in the latest episode of Catching Up With The Clemenses.
(6) MIDDLE-EARTH AFTER ACTION REPORTS. [Item by Alan Baumler.] At A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry, Bret Deveraux has a long series of blog posts analyzing the Siege of Gondor (“The Siege of Gondor, Part I: Professionals Talk Logistics”) and Helm’s Deep (“The Battle of Helm’s Deep, Part I: Bargaining for Goods at Helm’s Gate”) in both the films and the books from the point of view of a historian.
It is a really good set of posts for both fantasy geeks and history geeks, in part because he knows his history and does a good job of explaining both the battlefield details and the broader historical background behind “medieval” warfare. (Tolkien understood that despair could destroy an army. He fought at the Somme). He also does a good job with some of the films’ reasons for changes, beyond the film-makers are dummies. (Doing a proper cavalry battle between Wargs and the Men of Rohan would cost too much, ruin the pacing of the film, and get some stuntmen hurt.) Those are my brief summaries, he does it much better.
…But Saruman does not have a lot of experience. Théoden does. As Saruman himself notes, the house of Eorl has “fought many wars and assailed many who defied them” (TT, 218). Théoden himself had been a king even longer than Denethor had been steward (Théoden becomes king in 2980; Denethor becomes steward in 2984) and given what we know about the political situation, it is safe to assume he had some fighting to do even before he became king and much more afterwards. The film has Théoden say this, and at moments shows it on-screen in interesting ways, but the desire to insert some conflict between Théoden and Aragorn means that this characterization gets a bit muddled, as we’ll see. Nevertheless, it is clear that Théoden, in book and film, is an experienced and capable commander – he may lack the subtly and sophistication of Denethor (who, as an aside, I’d probably rate as the better pure tactician of the two, but the worse overall leader), but reliable workman-like generaling is often the best sort, and proves to be so here….
(7) NOT THROWIN’ AWAY MY SHOT. Continuing a theme, Fandom Entertainment obliges with this video comparing archers from three SFF franchises: Legolas vs. Hawkeye vs. Katniss: “By The Numbers | Best Movie Archer”.
(8) IN THE BEGINNING. In “Michael Moorcock Interview – Elric of Melnibone”, Screen Rant takes the occasion of the 60th anniversary of a Moorcock character’s debut to let him reminisce.
Screen Rant: So you, and some of the formative figures, were just writing your own works. You weren’t trying to adhere to genre conventions, because there wasn’t really a genre to adhere to yet.
Michael Moorcock: Yeah, when I first started writing it, nobody knew what to call it at all. I mean, the publishers didn’t know what to call it. They thought that Tolkien was (writing about) a post-apocalyptic nuclear world. That’s the only way they could perceive an alternate world, in other words. And it was the same with Mervyn Peake… they’re all interpreted that way. The idea of putting ‘fantasy’ on a book meant usually meant that it was a children’s book. And if you put fantasy as the genre, they usually put ‘SF’ larger than ‘fantasy’ to show that it was what it was. So really, there really was nothing like an adult fantasy genre… Today’s experience is just totally different.
(9) BLAME THE DOCTOR! [Item by Olav Rokne.] Conservative UK politician Nick Fletcher provides the most baffling quote of the week, linking Jodie Whittaker’s work on Doctor Who to recent increases in crime. His logic is so tenuous and contrived it has to be heard to be believed.
(10) TODAY IN ALTERNATE HISTORY. This happens to come from a movie, but Filers tell me they often get these kinds of wild dates in the drafts of their comments, too.
(11) MEMORY LANE.
1887 — One hundred thirty-four years ago, the very first Sherlock Holmes story was published this month in the December issue of Beeton’s Christmas Annual which came out a month ahead of the pub date. It was published sometime in November at a price of one shilling and sold out before Christmas. The other contents were Two Original Drawing Room Plays: “Food for Powder” by R. André, and “The Four-Leaved Shamrock” by C. J. Hamilton.
A Study in Scarlet is one of only four full-length novels in the original canon. The story was originally titled A Tangled Skein and Doyle wanted royalties from Beeton’s Christmas Annual but settled for a twenty-five pound payment instead in return for the full rights to the novel.
Bibliographic experts say this copy of Beeton’s Christmas Annual is “the most expensive magazine in the world,” with a copy selling for $156,000 at Sotheby’s in 2007 as only twelve copies are thought to currently exist.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born November 25, 1920 — Ricardo Montalbán. Khan Noonien Singh and the first Mr. Rourke. Armando and Grandpa Valentin Avellan as well. I’m picking those as four most memorable roles he’s played and they just happen to all be genre in nature. Oh, and is Khan Noonien Singh the only occurrence of a non-crew character carrying over from the original series into the films? I suspect not but I can’t think of anyone who did. If there is, I’m sure one of you will tell me. (Died 2009.)
- Born November 25, 1926 — Jeffrey Hunter. Best known for his role as the first Captain Christopher Pike in the original pilot episode of Star Trek and the later use of that material in “The Menagerie” episode which won a Hugo at NyCon 3. Other genre work included Dimension 5, A Witch Without A Broom, Strange Portrait (never released, no print is known to exists), Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Journey into Fear and The Green Hornet. Hunter suffered an intracranial hemorrhage while walking down a three-stair set of steps at his home in Van Nuys, California. He died in-hospital despite brain surgery. (Died 1969.)
- Born November 25, 1926 — Poul Anderson. My favorite ones by him? Orion Shall Rise for the mix of personal scale story with his usual grand political stories, and all of the Flandry and van Rijn stories. I also enjoy his Time Patrol stories as well, and the two Operation Luna tales are quite fun. Not to forget the ever so entertaining The Unicorn Trade that he wrote with his wife Karen. He was quite honored with seven Hugo Awards and three Nebula Awards. (Died 2001.)
- Born November 25, 1947 — John Larroquette, 74. I think his best genre role is as Jenkins in The Librarians. He’s also had one-offs in Almost Human, The Twilight Zone, Chuck, Batman: The Animated Series and Fantasy Island. He’s uncredited but present in Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight, does voice acting in Green Lantern: First Flight, is the Klingon Maltz in The Search for Spock and the oddly named K.K.K. in Twilight Zone: The Movie. Did you know he was the narrator of two Texas Chainsaw Massacre films?
- Born November 25, 1950 — Alexis Wright, 71. A Waanyi (Aboriginal Australian) writer known for winning the Miles Franklin Award for her novel Carpentaria which might well be genre. She has one definitely genre novel, The Swan Game.
- Born November 25, 1953 — Mark Frost, 68. He’s best known as a writer for Hill Street Blues (I know it’s not genre but superb nonetheless) and as the co-creator with David Lynch of Twin Peaks in which he’s been involved with in other roles as well. He had a hand in writing both of the not well regarded Fantastic Four films. He was also one of the Executive Producers of the very short lived All Souls series.
- Born November 25, 1953 – Michael “Orange Mike” Lowrey, 68. A fan, free citizen of the ImagiNation, husband, daddy, union leader, Esperantist, wearer of orange garments, Quaker, feminist, Irishman, Mac user, Wobbly, Hordesman, Wikipedian. He’s been active in fanzines (Vojo de Vivo) and apas, the N3F, mailing lists, Usenet, social media. Voted the 2020 TAFF delegate – trip postponed due to the pandemic. Frequent Filer! (OGH)
- Born November 25, 1974 — Sarah Monette, 47. Under the pen name of Katherine Addison, she published The Goblin Emperor which garnered the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel and was nominated for the Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy Awards. She won the Spectrum Award in 2003 for her short story “Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland”. Her first two novels Mélusine and The Virtu are quite wonderful and I highly recommend her Iskryne series that she co-wrote with Elizabeth Bear.
- Born November 25, 1986 — Katie Cassidy, 35. Best remembered as Laurel Lance / Black Canary in the Arrowverse, primarily on Arrow but also Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. She was also Ruby on Supernatural, Patricia “Trish” Washington on Harper’s Island and Kris Fowles on A Nightmare on Elm Street.
(13) KURT VONNEGUT DOCUMENTARY. [Item by Olav Rokne.] The three of us (from the group I blog with) who saw the Kurt Vonnegut documentary Unstuck in Time were torn about it. That being said, I’d recommend it to every File770 person; there’s an awful lot of good in the documentary, lots of great moments, even if it sometimes doesn’t quite hold together. “Slipping on the stickiness of time” at the The Hugo Book Club Blog.
… Weide is too close to his subject to provide an unflinching look. But it also seems that he’s too much of a documentarian to lean into the personal. Both perspectives suffer for this, but one can also see why the movie took 40 years to make: it’s filled with incredible moments, and archival footage, and surprising snippets. With the amount of footage that Weide gathered in four decades, one can only imagine the riches that had to be left on the cutting room floor….
(14) PAIR OF CHAIRS. In Two Chairs Talking Episode 66, “Where great whales come sailing by”, Perry Middlemiss and David Grigg discuss recent news; David talks about “Bewilderment”, the best book he’s read all year; Perry reviews “Fathoms”, a magnificent book about whales; and he interviews prominent SF fan Justin Ackroyd.
Where great whales come sailing by,
Sail and sail, with unshut eye,
Round the world for ever and eye.
— Matthew Arnold, The Forsaken Merman
(15) THAT WAS FAST. This is sort of a How It Should Have Ended for Disney animated films: “Disney Movies With Quicker Endings Are Pretty Funny” at Pupperish. These cartoon cels are a hoot.
Disney characters are sometimes not that bright, they love to overcomplicate things and they just have to dramatize everything, which can be very infuriating, even if it is sometimes exciting. But of course, that’s what makes Disney’s storylines so magical and full of plot twists.
Every Disney movie features an evil protagonist that could have got the job over and done with quickly, rather than dragging it on. Or a Disney character who could have made even a single decision to speed up the plot.
In a world where Disney characters are a lot more logical and use common sense more often, the movies would end in less than two minutes. If you’ve ever wondered what that may look like, one Disney fan decided to depict it all artistically.
(16) A JWST OOPS. Ars Technica fills us in: “An ‘incident’ with the James Webb Space Telescope has occurred”.
A short update on the projected launch date of the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope came out of NASA on Monday, and it wasn’t exactly a heart-warming missive.
The large, space-based telescope’s “no earlier than” launch date will slip from December 18 to at least December 22 after an “incident” occurred during processing operations at the launch site in Kourou, French Guiana. That is where the telescope will launch on an Ariane 5 rocket provided by the European Space Agency.
“Technicians were preparing to attach Webb to the launch vehicle adapter, which is used to integrate the observatory with the upper stage of the Ariane 5 rocket,” NASA said in a blog post. “A sudden, unplanned release of a clamp band—which secures Webb to the launch vehicle adapter—caused a vibration throughout the observatory.”
Let’s be honest, words like “incident,” “sudden,” and “vibration” are not the kinds of expressions one wants to hear about the handling of a delicate and virtually irreplaceable instrument like the Webb telescope. However, NASA, the European Space Agency, and the rocket’s operator, Arianespace, have a plan for moving forward….
(17) G AND ENKIDU. Tracen Wassily, a junior at Dillingham High School in Alaska, has turned the Epic of Gilgamesh into a rap reports Literary Hub.
According to KDLG, Public Radio for Alaska’s Bristol Bay, Wassily chose to produce a rap for his literature class, where the assignment was to write an essay, skit, or song on the topic of Gilgamesh. Though at first he didn’t like the Epic of Gilgamesh, Wassily got more excited when he started making beats. “Not even a day after—like, right after school, I got to work producing a beat, a good rhythm, like a fast-paced rhythm for what I’m going to be doing,” Wassily told KDLG. “Cause that’s what I’m most comfortable on.”
Here’s a slice:
g and enkidu on a quest for glory
slayin humbaba is the start of his story
our heroes make it to the gate
but before they serve h his fate
their knees begin to shake…
[Thanks Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Will R., Alan Baumler, Ben Bird Person, Olav Rokne, Darius Hupov, Jennifer Hawthorne, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy, for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nancy Sauer.]