(1) HARPERCOLLINS STRIKE NEWS. HarperCollins president and CEO Brian Murray, in “An Open Letter to Authors and Agents”, today addressed the company’s stalled negotiations with the United Auto Workers union which represents employees whose strike is now in its 19th day.
… Our current compensation offerings are consistent with our peers in the publishing industry. During recent negotiations, we proposed a fair and reasonable pay structure, including increases to entry level salaries. Based on publicly available information, HarperCollins’s proposed compensation increases would provide for a higher starting salary than any other major New York publisher. As well, we offer a minimum of six and a half weeks paid time off for all full-time employees (increasing with tenure), four “work from anywhere” weeks, overtime pay for those qualifying, and generous health and wellness benefits.
As with the entire industry, HarperCollins continues to contend with ongoing challenges to publishing and its underlying economics. The financial requests made by United Auto Workers, which are many and far reaching, fail to account for the market dynamics of the publishing industry and our responsibility to meet the financial demands of all our business stakeholders—including all employees, authors, and booksellers….
(2) PICKETER SPEAKS. Striking HarperCollins employee Rye White tells readers what’s going on in “HarperCollins Strike Dispatch” at N+1.
… Leading up to this year’s strike, the anxiety and frustration from union members toward the company was palpable even over video meetings and emails. HarperCollins still largely operates remotely (although good old Brian has since issued a mandate to change this), and it’s generally difficult when you work from your own living space to feel fully connected to the whole. Many people, myself included, are pandemic hires. We’ve seldom, if ever, actually come down to work in the office. Even so, our union’s organizing committee met with nearly every individual member for one-on-one chats about questions and concerns, and we were greeted with an enormous amount of careful consideration. What do we do if bosses pressure us to write out instructions for how to handle our everyday tasks? What will happen to our authors? Each of us understood the power in this decision. When it came time to vote, out of 200 or so members, more than 190 voted to authorize.
The first two days of the strike, we asked anyone who could make the commute to come down to 195 Broadway for maximum turnout and maximum noise. In the last two weeks, I’ve met many of my coworkers for the first time, put faces to names I’d only ever seen over email, and have learned about many people’s personal struggles and motivations and frustrations. “I feel closer to you all than ever before,” one picket captain noted in a recent weekly debrief meeting. “This is definitely a weird time, but I feel the camaraderie and it’s really meaningful.”…
(3) AUREALIS AWARDS. The deadline for entering work for the Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier speculative fiction awards, is December 14.
All work published (or planned for publication) between January 1 and December 31, 2022 needs to be entered by this deadline. Enter your Australian speculative fiction work in the Aurealis Awards here.
(4) IN FRIGHTENING TECHNICOLOR. Headlining “Heritage’s Most Star-Studded Entertainment Auction Ever” is “The Wicked Witch of the West Hourglass — the Most Famous and Recognizable Timepiece in Film History.” They’re looking for an opening bid of $400,000.
….Three decades since it was last offered at auction, and after years of being displayed in myriad museums and traveling exhibitions – including Los Angeles Public Library’s Getty Gallery – it’s time once again for The Wicked Witch of the West’s hourglass to return to market. This meticulously constructed piece – made of wood, papier-mâché and handblown glass filled with red glitter and decorated with gargoyles keeping watch over the witch’s castle – is perhaps the most recognizable timepiece in cinema history. It is the very instrument the Wicked Witch uses to count down the moments Dorothy has to live – a beautiful thing no matter the moment, and forever linked to some of our earliest Technicolor nightmares.
The hourglass, which stands nearly two feet tall, was first available as part of MGM’s landmark 1970 auction, among “the things dreams were once made of.” The studio actually reused the prop a handful of times after its appearance in Oz, including in 1941’s Babes on Broadway – starring, amazingly enough, Judy Garland alongside Mickey Rooney in the Busby Berkeley-directed “Backyard Musical” (with Vincente Minnelli helming his wife’s sequences)….
(5) RAY BRADBURY SQUARE. Ten years ago today the intersection near L.A. library was named for Ray Bradbury. Read all about it in John King Tarpinian’s 2012 post “A Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood”. Plus photos, including this one of the official sign.
(6) MEMORY LANE.
1938 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Mother Goose in Central Park
Continuing our exploration of characters from the fantasy genre is our look at the Mother Goose statue in Central Park.
The figure of Mother Goose is the imaginary author of a collection of French fairy tales and later of English nursery rhymes. Mother Goose in English dates back to the early Eighteenth Century, when Charles Perrault’s Contes de ma Mère l’Oye fairy tale collection was first translated into English as Tales of My Mother Goose. English writers quickly created their own collections of Mother Goose tales.
This granite statue by Frederick Roth, installed at the entrance to Rumsey Playfield in Central Park in 1938, shows a woman flying atop a goose. She has a pointy hat, purse, cloak, buckled shoe, and one very unhappy-looking cat riding the clouds.
Several other nursery rhyme characters are carved into its sides from five of the Mother Goose stories — Humpty Dumpty, Old King Cole, Little Jack Horner, Mother Hubbard, and Mary and her little lamb. I’m only going to show you the flying woman atop a goose and the cat as I think it’s the best part of the statue.
The Park went on to commission two more such statues, Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Andersen and the Ugly Duckling.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born December 6, 1893 — Sylvia Townsend Warner. Do yourself a favor and look up a bio of her as she’s a fascinating person. This lovely site is a good place to do so. Her first novel, Lolly Willowes or, The Loving Huntsman, is definitely genre. ISFDB lists four genre collections by her. Kingdoms of Elfin is available on on Kindle Kindle, Lolly Willowes everywhere the usual suspects are. (Died 1978.)
- Born December 6, 1900 — Agnes Moorehead. I’m assuming that the statute of limitations for spoilers has long passed on this particular show. I’m referring to The Twilight Zone episode “The Invaders” in which she never spoke a word as she fought off the tiny Invaders, human astronauts, and she a giant alien. Written especially for her by Richard Matheson. (Died 1974.)
- Born December 6, 1924 — Wally Cox. Ok, who can resist the voice of the Underdog series which ran from 1964 to 1967? I certainly can’t. He was in Babes in Toyland, The Twilight Zone, Mission: Impossible, Lost in Space, Get Smart, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., Quarantined, Night Gallery and Once Upon a Mattress. Warning: anything with him in it on YouTube or Vimeo is still under copyright so please don’t link to it. (Died 1973.)
- Born December 6, 1953 — Tom Hulce, 69. Oscar-nominated screen and stage actor and producer. His first genre role was in a highly-praised performance as the lead in the American Playhouse broadcast of The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket, about a young boy who discovers that he can fly. Although the bulk of his career has been in the theater, his most notable genre film role was as Henry Clerval in Kenneth Branagh’s Saturn-nominated Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He was nominated for an Annie Award for his voice performance of Quasimodo in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and appeared in the films Stranger than Fiction and Jumper.
- Born December 6, 1957 — Arabella Weir, 65. A performer with two Who appearances, the first in “Exile,” a Big Finish audio, released in 2003. Almost a decade later Weir appeared on screen as Billis in “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe”, a superb Eleventh Doctor story. She’s had one-offs on genre and genre adjacent series such as Shades of Darkness, Genie in the House, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and even a genre adjacent Midsomer Murders.
- Born December 6, 1962 — Colin Salmon, 60. Definitely best known for his role as Charles Robinson in the Bond films Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. He played Dr. Moon in “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, Tenth Doctor stories, and was Walter Steele on Arrow. He most recently played General Zod on Krypton He was, alas, Ben in that clunker of films, Mortal Engines.
- Born December 6, 1969 — Torri Higginson, 53. I had forgotten that she had a role in the TekWar movies and series as Beth Kittridge. I like that series a lot. Of course, she portrayed Dr. Elizabeth Weir in one episode of Stargate SG-1 and the entire Stargate Atlantis series. Her most recent genre roles was as Dr. Michelle Kessler in Inhuman Condition, where she plays a therapist who focuses on supernatural patients, and Commander Delaney Truffault in the Dark Matter series.
(8) COMIC SECTION.
- Sure, Thanksgiving is over, but Herman has another reason not to decorate for Christmas yet.
(9) REALITY OVERTAKES SCIENCE FICTION. ScreenRant lists “10 Pieces Of Technology Where Reality Did Better Than The Movies, According To Reddit”.
… It’s been over half a century since science fiction’s golden age of the ’60s and ’70s, and a lot of the movie technology that initially seemed advanced at the time now seems woefully out of date. Today’s reality has surpassed what was once thought of as science fiction and Redditors have come together to discuss some of the examples they think are the most blatant…
For one example:
User interface is one of the most complicated fields in technology. They can often be visually striking, but they’re chiefly made to be easily navigated. Movies don’t really get this. As Redditor YZJay comments, UI shown in movies is “hilariously unusable in terms of design, low contrast, weak indicators of what are interactive, waaaay too much animations etc.”
UI in movies animate far too much to be useful, and they have too many transitions and sparkly effects. As mentioned, ease of navigation is the priority and the UI in movies is usually way too complicated or patience-testing to use. It makes one thankful for more basic, minimalist designs.
(10) SHRUNKEN EDS. Open Culture remembers “The Fiske Reading Machine: The 1920s Precursor to the Kindle”.
The Sony Librie, the first e-reader to use a modern electronic-paper screen, came out in 2004. Old as that is in tech years, the basic idea of a handheld device that can store large amounts of text stretches at least eight decades farther back in history. Witness the Fiske Reading Machine, an invention first profiled in a 1922 issue of Scientific American. “The instrument, consisting of a tiny lens and a small roller for operating this eyepiece up and down a vertical column of reading-matter, is a means by which ordinary typewritten copy, when photographically reduced to one-hundredth of the space originally occupied, can be read with quite the facility that the impression of conventional printing type is now revealed to the unaided eye,” writes author S. R. Winters.
Making books compatible with the Fiske Reading Machine involved not digitization, of course, but miniaturization. According to the patents filed by inventor Bradley Allen Fiske (eleven in all, between 1920 and 1935), the text of any book could be photo-engraved onto a copper block, reduced ten times in the process, and then printed onto strips of paper for use in the machine, which would make them readable again through a magnifying lens…..
(11) WILL WORK FOR APPLAUSE. Here’s what we’ve got to have: “Star Wars (‘The Mandalorian’) The Child Talking Clapper with Night Light”. (See video demo on YouTube.)
From Star Wars Mandalorian it’s The Child Clapper with Night Light! Known as “Baby Yoda” to fans, The Child Clapper is the cutest way to operate an appliance with two claps. Clap 3 times to turn on the night light and hear quotes from the show. Hear, “The kid is coming with me” when the night light is turned on and “Come on baby, do the magic hand thing” when it’s turned off.
(12) THE HOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS. “Physicists Create ‘the Smallest, Crummiest Wormhole You Can Imagine’” for reasons explained by the New York Times. It’s a simulation, not the real thing, however.
…In their report, published Wednesday in Nature, the researchers described the result in measured words: “This work is a successful attempt at observing traversable wormhole dynamics in an experimental setting.”
… The wormhole that Dr. Spiropulu and her colleagues created and exploited is not a tunnel through real physical space but rather through an “emergent” two-dimensional space. The “black holes” were not real ones that could swallow the computer but lines of code in a quantum computer. Strictly speaking, the results apply only to a simplified “toy model” of a universe — in particular, one that is akin to a hologram, with quantum fields on the edge of space-time determining what happens within, sort of in the way that the label on a soup can describes the contents….
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Emergency Awesome delivers a “Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special FULL Breakdown, Marvel Easter Eggs and Things You Missed”.
The special went live (on Disney+) during Thanksgiving weekend. Daniel Dern says, “We finally watched it last night; a lotta fun. It’s also worthwhile to then watch one of the ‘abouts’ for more on the lesser-known characters, in-jokes, cameos, and implications for the Marvel movie universe.”
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]