(1) RAY BRADBURY WOULD BE SO PROUD. That’s what John King Tarpinian thinks. Look who won at the Golden Globes tonight.
- Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Rachel Bloom, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”
Here’s video of her acceptance speech.
(2) OTHER GOLDEN GLOBES OF GENRE INTEREST.
- Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture ?? Musical or Comedy
Matt Damon, “The Martian”
- Best Motion Picture — Animated
- Best Motion Picture -? Musical or Comedy
- Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
- Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture made for Television
Christian Slater, “Mr. Robot”
- Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Lady Gaga, “American Horror Story: Hotel”
- Best Television Series ?? Drama
(3) SCIENCE-ING THE SHIT OUT OF ENDOR. ScienceFiction.com has the scoop of the century – Star Wars’ science is defective! The proof? “Physicist Theorizes There Should Have Been An Ewok Extinction Upon Death Star Destruction”.
What if all the Ewoks were killed at the end of ‘Return of the Jedi’? You don’t have to think about it. Really, you don’t. But someone thought about it—Dave Minton, a physicist at Purdue University.
Now before you start thinking Minton hates all things cute, he performed some interesting research into what the reality would be like if the second Death Star really did explode near Endor.
(4) DIDN’T KNOW THERE WAS A STAT FOR THIS. Harrison Ford has passed Samuel L. Jackson to become the top-grossing actor in domestic box office history, powered to the top by the growing bank for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Ford’s 41 films have grossed $4.699 billion at the domestic box office, led by The Force Awakens, which accounts for $764.4 million of that figure as of Box Office Mojo’s last update.
Jackson’s films, in comparison, have grossed a mere $4.626 billion, led by Marvel’s The Avengers and its $623.4 million domestic haul.
(5) PAPER TARDIS. This animation is something I’m going to share with my daughter. One of her Christmas gifts was a hand-made facsimile of River Song’s journal. (Via io9)
We're still going crazy for this stop-motion video that @SamplerTimes made. #DoctorWho ? https://t.co/3uXUbI0ZvC
— BBC America (@BBCAMERICA) January 9, 2016
(6) ROWLING YANKED HIS CHAIN. Hello Giggles says that Stephen Fry met J.K. Rowling long before becoming the narrator of the UK Harry Potter audiobooks, and claims his bland disinterest during that first encounter motivated her to refuse a favor he asked later while trying to record a challenging phrase. True story? Who knows. But it has an edge to it.
(7) SCOOBY CHOO-CHOO, WHERE ARE YOU? The BBC explores “Why Britain has secret ghost trains”. Hobbyists spend a lot of time tracking these down so they can ride them. And as usual where ghosts are concerned, the explanation is less than supernatural.
“Ghost trains are there just for a legal placeholder to prevent the line from being closed,” says Bruce Williamson, national spokesperson for the advocacy group RailFuture. Or as Colin Divall, professor of railway studies at the University of York, puts it: “It’s a useless, limited service that’s borderline, and the reason that it’s been kept is there would be a stink if anyone tried to close it.”
Why ghosts exist
That is the crux of why the ghost trains still exist. A more official term is “parliamentary trains”, a name that stems from past years when an Act of Parliament was needed to shut down a line. Many train operators kept running empty trains to avoid the costs and political fallout – and while this law has since changed, the same pressures remain.
(8) SCRIMM OBIT. Actor Angus Scrimm, best known for playing the “Tall Man” in the Phantasm horror franchise, died January 9 at the age of 89. He also was in I Sell the Dead (2008), the TV show Alias, and the audio play series Tales From Beyond the Pale. Scrimm also appeared in a production of Ray Bradbury’s play Let’s All Kill Constance.
For several decades Scrimm writer album liner notes for Capitol Records, winning a Grammy in 1974 (credited as Rory Guy, as were his early film roles) for his notes on Korngold: The Classic Erich Wolfgang Korngold.
(9) FITZSIMMONS OBIT. SF Site News reports kT FitzSimmons (1956-2016) who ran program for the 1991 Worldcon, Chicon V, died January 10 after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was a veteran conrunner who worked on Windycon and Capricon in Chicago, and served as a board member of Capricon’s parent organization Phandemonium.
(10) YESTERDAY IN HISTORY
- January 9, 1492 – Columbus mistakes manatees for mermaids. Hoon!
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY
- January 10, 1927 — Metropolis makes its world premiere in Germany.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY CHARACTER
- Born January 10, 1732 — Saara Mar. According to Taral Wayne, she was born in 1732 on a planet 400 light years from Earth, in the direction of the Pleiades cluster. She “discovered” Earth in 1970, on the 5th of April, 6 days before the lift-off of Apollo 13, and 8 days before the miraculous rescue of the crew that changed history.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- Born January 10, 1904 — Ray Bolger, the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.
(14) SHORT AND SWEET. Fynbospress teaches sound techniques for blurb writing at Mad Genius Club.
At the heart of every story, there is this: A person, who wants something, but a force opposes him. This is important, because of these stakes. Either they get it, or they don’t.
Take the first and second sentence of that paragraph. (Not the third; you don’t give away how it comes out in the blurb.) Who is your person? What do they want? What opposes them? What are the stakes?
Simplify. If you have two or three main characters, pick the one whose wants or needs drive the story the most. Unless you’re writing epic fantasy, where the browser will be disappointed if you don’t introduce at least three sides, stick to one protagonist, and one opposing force. Generally, that’s the first opposition they meet in the story, not the one they meet in chapter 3, and definitely not the one revealed in the twist in chapter 20.
Your description should not, as a rule of thumb, reveal any information past chapter 3.
(15) ONE IN A MILLION. Mark Lawrence in “Luck, Deus Ex Machina, Plot Armour” tells why it’s okay to build a story around the statistically unlikely survivor.
We don’t see the article about the lottery winner in the newspaper and cry, “Jesus fuck! What are the odds that the reporter chose the winner to write about.”
…Swap now from reality to fiction. The author still has a choice about who they write about. They can still pick the person who survives, at least long enough to do some interesting things. But they also get to choose how that person survives
(16) SPEAK TO THE GEEK. Declan Finn devoted today’s installment of his internet radio show The Catholic Geek to Sad Puppies 4 (he’s in favor), with time left over to diagnose why George R.R. Martin hasn’t finished his book, and to argue Shakespeare really wrote for the rabble not the nobility.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Hampus Eckeman on January 11, 2016 at 3:20 am said: We used to have a ghost train in Stockholm when I was a kid. All subway trains were green apart from this one that was silver coloured. It never ever stopped at any station. You just saw it screeching past and I say screeching, because it was a horrible sound. Always empty, no one on board. I think I saw it 2-3 times myself. It used to be called The Silverarrow and the theory was that it stopped at a never opened station to pick up and leave ghosts and if you ever got on the subway you would be lost forever.
Are you sure it’s not just because the fare went up?
“He may ride forever ‘neath the streets of Boston, he’s the man who never returned…”
Someone, I forget who (maybe Gene Wolfe?) described Shakespeare as “low humor and fart jokes for the rich and high poetry for the masses”
Ah, yes the Silverarrow. Evil train, that one.
Based on 10 years experience as a dresser in the West End, I would second that, but I beleive Mark Rylance is one of the exceptions to that rule.
(9) Dave McCarty said on Facebook:
@Jim Henley: You remember correctly. It’s his “Everything and Nothing” (at first I thought it was “Shakespeare’s Memory”).
Is this supposed to be some sort of controversial, anti-establishment idea? Pretty much everything I’ve read about Shakespeare points out that he was entertainment for the masses.
There certainly is a thread which claims that the plays are so darn posh that they had to be written by the Earl of Oxford (or probably others) because no way could Bill Shakespear, so much of a yokel that he couldn’t even spell his own name consistently, could have written them.
I am very happy that Wolf Hall won; I thought Rylance should have won for actor, because it was an exceptional performance. He could probably turn a recitation of the phonebook into a wry, but sad meditation on the human condition; it does not matter that he may be a complete loon.
I’m trying to remember where I read that actors can have a tendency to be anti-Strattfordians, because it makes the authorship of the plays a work of hidden and presumably anguished artiste. Like damn near every pre-Romantic Period artist who wasn’t an aristocrat, Shakespeare was doing this to support himself, whereas a hidden aristocratic author would be doing it for truth or beauty and not filthy lucre.* Anti-stratffordism allows one to “elevate” authorship above a concern for common lucre. It’s anachronistic, but appealing in some quarters.
Truth is, if Shakespeare was a university man, he’d have been considered a failure by the standards of the universities at the time.
Re (16), the news will be when Declan Finn has an original thought, beyond cool grim dark-y grim dark, with violence. But I suppose we must be ready to deal with him as Hugo-nominated for something, so sigh.
*And I think you can make a very good argument that disdain for art producing income in the present is an excellent way to find out which artists have other sources of support.
He certainly wrote plays to be performed at Court as well as in theatres, but anyone arguing that he was uninterested in the plebs has difficulties in explaining why Shakespeare didn’t want to make lots of money creating masques for the Court after James became king.
As far as I can tell he thought it was boring; James Shapiro’s
discusses this, for anyone who’s interested.
The Young Pretender
A more cynical explanation is that Shakespeare was an actor himself; actors feel inadequate because they aren’t writing works of genius when they are off-stage.
My answer to anti-Stratfordism is that you can make all the same arguments to prove that the works of Isaac Asimov were actually written by Richard Nixon.
Oh, the Silverarrow has got its own english wikipedia page! o.O
That’s pretty brilliant, actually…
…make it the works of Philip K Dick and SOLD!
The idea that it’s Phillip K Dick makes a frightening amount of sense… the paranoia, the obsession with hidden conspiracies, it fits way too well.
Too on the nose…or it that what they want us to think?
And then there’s the thousands of bunkers built in Albania after Nixon’s visit to China; what is missing from this picture?
Some sort of orbiting alien satellite transmitting radio signals to our brains? The alien may also be God?
Couldn’t be. God is dead, they found his carcass in 2019. Floating in space near Alpha.
One of the reasons I enjoyed, but was ultimately disappointed by, Crooked. The amount of material you have to mine for a story of Richard Nixon, minion of the Elder Things, is vast, and the amount the author ended up using was small.
@Matt Y – But his radio transmissions live on! Radio Free Alpha Mess.
It is an old trope about how Shakespeare is ranked first amoungst English writers and is too carefully and voluminously studied that these serious scholars are somehow blind to or unwilling to admit that in reality, he was the blue collar Seth MacFarlane of the times. I mean, he wasn’t, but that’s the argument.
It is endlessly repeated by people whose own study of Shakespeare is limited and they feel they score culture war points arguing against how they think people who study Shakespeare think. It’s comparable to the same people who have convinced themselves that Shakespeare was not the writer of his plays, because he was only ‘semi-literate’ based on his will and signature. If you know next to nothing about him, it’s an easy argument to make to other people who know next to nothing about him.
But, it’s common knowledge the Nixon presidency was a piece of performance art scripted by William S. Burroughs…
Will Burroughs, Will Shakespeare, it’s a conspiracy of Wills all the way down I tell ya.
Where there’s a Will, there’s a way…
(I’ll show myself out.)
This applies to a depressingly large amount of public discourse.
Between the Willies and the Dicks, one might be forgiven for thinking the secret patriarchy is exposing itself at last.
Nigel, I came this close to spitting tea on the fluffy cat snoogled up against my tummy!
• Just how tricky was Dick?
• Favorite part of SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (also the only thing I remember from it) is that the players are relaxing at an inn, and the actor who plays the Nurse is with a wench who asks what Romeo and Juliet is about. “Well,” he says, “There’s this nurse…”
• The young Director shot a nervous glance at the Recording Engineer. “Hell of a passage! I’d hate to be standing at that mike. There’d be a smash-up to remember.”
The Recording Engineer patted the Director lightly on the shoulder without taking his eyes off his console. “You’re worried. Don’t be. The Old Gentleman will get us through. The Old Gentleman ain’t afraid of rubber baby buggy bumpers.”
The Director swallowed his anxiety and unabashedly stared at the man in the booth with new confidence. From the extra headphone, plugged in, but not worn, a voice, rich and full despite the tinny apparatus, repeated, “He pocketed it; he pocketed it; he pocketed it…”
Of particular interest:
Correct me if I’m wrong, but does that mean that Wildeeps and Sunset would be considered novels in terms of Hugo eligibility?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but does that mean that Wildeeps and Sunset would be considered novels in terms of Hugo eligibility?
Technically they meet the word count for being a novel. They both fall into the +/-20% “gray zone for determining eligibility, so they could possibly be nominated in the novella category. It would be up to the Hugo administrator to determine exactly where to place them.
The Hugo admins typically put works nominated under more than one category into the category with the most nominations, so if you think Wildeeps and/or Sunset are nomination-worthy, choose the category in which you personally think they fit better.
For me, both Wildeeps and Sunset Mantle read like novellas and that’s how I would nominate them.
I thought they were both excellent in different ways. There were some good novellas in 2015.
Thanks! I didn’t know about the 20% margin. Not sure if they’re going on my ballot yet, but if they do it’ll probably be as novellas simply because I haven’t been reading as many shorter works.
(The one novella I know for certain I’ll be nominating is Elizabeth Hand’s Wylding Hall.)
On a coincidental note, today’s read — Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys (not SFF) — clocks in at about 45,000 words, hailing from a period when shorter works were a bit more likely to be accepted as novels than they are today. Because of its short length, it was a surprisingly quick read for a literary novel.
The book creates the almost entirely untold story of the “first Mrs. Rochester” in Jane Eyre, but while it is in part a form of literary commentary, it is by no means a derivative work, readily standing on its own. It absolutely deserves its reputation as a classic, being both evocative and provocative, and taking a hard-eyed look at the legacy of slavery in the Caribbean. (Mr. Rochester does not come off very well in the book, but, to be honest, he ain’t the greatest guy in Jane Eyre either, despite that being one of my favorite novels.) Anyway, definitely recommended.
There’s a ghost train in the borough I grew up in (legend has it). There was a deadly train crash in the ’50s and as the story goes if you’re in the right place at the right time on the anniversary you’ll hear the screams of the passengers and the crunch of masonry and so forth.
Oh and *gvpxl obk*
Ghosts don’t turn up where you would expect them to; down the centuries thousands of people were executed, frequently in extra-dreadful ways, at Smithfields and yet none has ever haunted it. There is, however, a haunted lift in one of Barts more recent buildings; I only found out that it was haunted after a very unpleasant minute being totally creeped out in said lift, when one of the nurses cheerfully explained how it came to be haunted, and recommended that I use the other lifts like everybody else.
I took her advice; scepticism is all very well but it doesn’t extend to deliberately freaking myself out.
Kyra: today’s read — Wide Sargasso Sea… The book creates the almost entirely untold story of the “first Mrs. Rochester” in Jane Eyre, but while it is in part a form of literary commentary, it is by no means a derivative work, readily standing on its own. It absolutely deserves its reputation as a classic, being both evocative and provocative, and taking a hard-eyed look at the legacy of slavery in the Caribbean. (Mr. Rochester does not come off very well in the book
I haven’t read it, but I saw the 1993 movie (with Karina Lombard and Nathaniel Parker) some years ago. I’ve never much cared for either Charlotte’s Jane Eyre or Emily’s Wuthering Heights; they are disturbing stories of women in abusive relationships, which have become rather romanticized and idealized by the public in recent years (I mean, seriously — what is it with women swooning over Rochester or Heathcliff??? They are horrible men!).
The movie of Wide Sargasso Sea, and presumably the book itself, is equally depressing, a stark depiction of colonialism and cultural and individual identity erasure. At least this one doesn’t seem to have been romanticized by modern readers in the same way as the earlier novels.
> “(I mean, seriously — what is it with women swooning over Rochester or Heathcliff??? They are horrible men!)”
Obligatory “Hark, A Vagrant”:
(I mean, seriously — what is it with women swooning over Rochester or Heathcliff??? They are horrible men!).
Both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre came highly recommended by a school librarian. I haaaaated both of them. Heathcliff especially creeped me out, but Rochester was not far behind. I will never understand the love the Brontes get (I disliked Tenant of Wildfeld Hall too),
Kyra: Obligatory “Hark, A Vagrant”
Oh, that is perfect.
Cheryl S.: Both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre came highly recommended by a school librarian. I haaaaated both of them. Heathcliff especially creeped me out, but Rochester was not far behind. I will never understand the love the Brontes get.
It’s my perception that Emily knew, and intended, that she was depicting an abusive monster in Wuthering Heights; my impression of Jane Eyre is that Charlotte was not nearly so self-aware.
Don’t know if it’s of interest for the next scroll but i09 did their yearly ‘What’s coming up in 2016’. Missing some notable releases, however doing a list of 40 is a lot of work and there’s several I wasn’t even aware of on there. There’s still a lot of 2015 I’m not done with and and 2016 looks like it’ll be another fun year.
I think I’m going to start a list this year so I can just create alerts for when a book I’m looking forward to gets released since there’s too many now to keep track of. Anything else people looking forward to? List leaves off January releases like Medusa’s Web, City of Blades and The Bands of Mourning all of which I’m excited for.
Thanks! I loved Wide a Sargasso Sea.
The Bronte sisters are subject to some misinterpretation that arose from the discovery that Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell were women and the subsequent assumption the they were writing romance novels, and nothing more. Although the coming-of-age story for women was confined to seeking a mate until women were able to seek other things, as well, Jane Eyre is actually a quest story, in which Jane faces harder and harder challenges to her integrity and self-hood. She loves Rochester because he sees and loves what other people find inappropriate and unattractive in her. Fascinatingly, jane’s final challenge is to reject a role in life, and accompanying man (St John Rivers), even though she and everyone else believes them to be virtuous, simply because they are wrong for her, and to choose the way to live that nourishes her most. That’s where she becomes self-determining.
While Rochester is selfish and manipulative, Heathcliff is clearly a monster, even though he has provocation. I’ve always seen Heathcliff and Cathy as a horror story about two monstrously selfish and destructive people. Similarly, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall shows what could really happen when an inexperienced girl falls for that old line about marrying “a rake/libertine to redeem him”: I.e. That no amount of Victorian Angel in the House would save either of them, or their child.
As Victorian women, the Bronte’s were bomb-throwing revolutionaries, which is why I love them.
I remember being rather confused when Heathcliff didn’t turn out to be the villain. Rochester, though, I didn’t have a problem with – I felt rather sorry for him, stuck in a situation and time when divorce was impossible.
I read all three Bronte novels I mentioned when I was 14. Although I later reread them as an adult, that early experience colors my opinion that all of the characters were shocking in some way that I found profoundly uncomfortable. I suspect I was meant to sympathize with at least one character in each novel and I did not.
Wide Sargasso Sea, which I read in my late teens, applied some balm to my outrage over the thought of Rochester as a hero.
Amazon UK ebook sales:
Anno Dracula, by Kim Newman
It is 1888 and Queen Victoria has remarried, taking as her new consort Vlad Tepes, the Wallachian Prince infamously known as Count Dracula. This is the story of vampire Geneviève Dieudonné and Charles Beauregard of the Diogenes Club as they strive to solve the Ripper murders.
Dark Screams: Volume One, by various
A horror and dark suspense short story collection, includes work from Stephen King.
Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
Felix Hoenikker’s “Ice 9” has the potential to comvert all liquid to inert ice and thus destroy human existence; he is exiled to a remote island where religion and technology collaborate to destroy civilization.
A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent, by Marie Brennan
Lady Trent is known to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects and her fragile flesh to satisfy her scientific curiosity.
There’s also a very small discount on The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu – less than 20% so it doesn’t meet my usual requirements but since it is Hugo eligible I thought people might want to know anyway.
ETA: The item about blurbs was interesting to read, but having spent some time taking blurbs and turning them into much, much shorter blurbs for these sales comments I can guarantee two things: Lots of publishers are ignoring the hell out of that advice, and reducing those longer blurbs down to much shorter ones loses a lot of the flavour despite my best efforts.