(1) AUTHOR SIGNING ANNOUNCED. Catherine Asaro is doing a signing/panel next week on Wednesday, Dec 14, 2022 at 7:00 pm in the Port Jefferson Library, NY with two other authors, Sarah Beth Durst and Kelley Skovron. If you can attend, register here. Asaro explains why registration, while optional, will help assure all three can attend:
You can do a walk in instead of registering, and many people do. However, that means that they don’t know how many will show up or even if anyone will come. Kelly Skovron has to travel from Washington D.C. to Long Island, a several day trip for her, with the associated costs, so if they don’t get enough pre-registrations, she may not be able to come.
Sarah and I will be there regardless because we are local, but it would be lovely if they had enough sign-ups that they felt okay about asking Kelley to come.
Here’s the full address for the library: 150 East Main Street, Port Jefferson, NY 11777. Phone: (631) 509-5707. Web site: portjefflibrary.org
(2) THE BOOK IN HAND. “Shelf Awareness for Friday, December 9, 2022” includes “Reading with… Denise Crittendon”.
Journalist Denise Crittendon has been a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, motivational speaker, ghostwriter and adjunct community college professor. …Where It Rains in Color (Angry Robot, December 6, 2022), an Afrofuturistic sci-fi/fantasy, is her debut novel….
On your nightstand now:
The Deep by sci-fi author Rivers Solomon. Considering the controversy about a Black actress starring in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, this novel is pretty timely. Solomon tends to write passionate speculative fiction that incorporates the transatlantic slave trade. In The Deep, she offers an inventive twist on what happened to Africans who either jumped from ships during the Middle Passage or were thrown overboard due to illness.
Your top five authors:
Octavia Butler–I’m amazed by her extraordinary vision and fascinating usage of the natural world for organic technology. In her Lilith’s Brood series (Dawn, Adulthood Rites and Imago), the space vessel is an actual living being. Also, the aliens in this world can place sleeping humans inside biologically altered carnivorous plants, thereby prolonging their lives for centuries….
(3) CONDENSED CREAM OF WHO. SYFY Wire reveals “Doctor Who Season 14 shortened, to feature just 8 episodes”.
The Tenth Doctor may be in (again), but David Tennant’s return trip as Doctor Who himself — this time as time traveler no. 14 in the venerable sci-fi series — won’t require quite as many TARDIS trips when the reportedly shorter, 8-episode new season finally does arrive.
Season 14 showrunner Russell T. Davies, also back at the reins of Doctor Who after famously helping revive the series back in 2005, recently explained to Doctor Who Magazine (via Bleeding Cool) that the new season might be compact, but that it also should serve as just the first tasty bite in a more ambitious slate of bigger doings within the endlessly discoverable Who-verse.
… While it’s not known whether, or where, in Season 14 the story might find Tennant’s Fourteenth Doctor ceding the role over to inbound Fifteenth Doctor Ncuti Gatwa, both Tennant and Gatwa are still on track to take up the Time Lord’s mantle as the series picks up where outgoing Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker left off.
(4) YEAR’S TOP VIEWING. The Hollywood Reporter lists “AFI Best Movies and TV Shows of 2022”.
The American Film Institute has revealed its picks for the best movies and TV shows of 2022.
The group’s picks for the 10 best films are, in alphabetical order: Avatar: The Way of Water, Elvis, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, Nope, She Said, Tár, Top Gun: Maverick, The Woman King and Women Talking.
On the TV side, AFI’s picks for the 10 best TV shows of the year are, again alphabetically, Abbott Elementary, The Bear, Better Call Saul, Hacks, Mo, Pachinko, Reservation Dogs, Severance, Somebody Somewhere and The White Lotus.
(5) WYLIE PROFILE. It’s not about his sff, however, you may be interested: “The Man Who Hated Moms: Looking Back on Philip Wylie’s ‘Generation of Vipers’” in LA Review of Books.
IN 1943, PHILIP WYLIE, then best known for his cosmic disaster novel When Worlds Collide (1933) and its sequel, After Worlds Collide (1934), dropped a literary bombshell into the laps of readers with Generation of Vipers (1943), a blistering critique of American society whose impact has yet to be equaled….
(6) A CENTURY OF VAMPIRA. American Cinematheque in Los Angeles is offering tickets to various events that are part of “Vampira’s 100th Birthday Celebration!” on December 11.
On Sunday, December 11th, The American Cinematheque remembers Maila “Vampira” Nurmi with a 100th birthday celebration. We have a a book signing with Sandra Nieme for Maila Nurmi’s biography Glamour Ghoul prior to the screening of the Tim Burton classic ED WOOD followed by a panel with screenwriters Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, author Sandra Niemi (Glamour Ghoul), filmmaker Ray Greene (VAMPIRA AND ME) and make-up legend Ve Niell (ED WOOD) moderated by comedian Dana Gould and Ed Wood’s classic PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE preceded by a reel of rare footage of Vampira’s TV appearances in the 1950’s. It’s a one-night only special celebration of a very special woman.
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1999 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Statues of Sherlock Holmes
Tonight we are discussing two statues of Sherlock Holmes done by the same sculptor. Yes statues. Being a fictional character of his stature, it wouldn’t do for there to be just one statue to honor him, would there.
The first is almost where you would expect to be which would be 221B Baker Street. It was dedicated on September 23rd,1999 with this sculpture being funded by the Abbey National building society whose headquarters were on the fictional site of that address.
Unfortunately there was no place on Baker Street for this sculpture by John Doubleday who also crafted as The Beatles and Laurel and Hardy to be erected so it is located outside Baker Street tube station on Marylebone Road, near both the detective’s fictional home at 221B Baker Street and the Sherlock Holmes Museum between numbers 237 and 241.
The nearly ten foot high bronze statue depicts Holmes wearing an Inverness cape and a deerstalker and holding a calabash pipe, attributed as first given to him by Sidney Paget, the illustrator of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories for The Strand Magazine.
The other statue is I think more interesting.
It completed by John Doubleday in 1988 and shows the great detective a few hours before his final and fatal encounter James Moriarty at the Grand Reichenbach Fall. He is just sitting, just thinking one presumes, as you can see in the first image.
On the statue and, in the second image you’ll see the plaque next to the statue are sculpted clues, most of which are symbols. It is said by obsessed Sherlock Holmes fans that with intent observation one can compile a complete list of all the sixty Sherlock Holmes stories from these symbols. Huh.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born December 9, 1848 — Joel Chandler Harris. American journalist, fiction writer, and folklorist who is best known for his collection of Uncle Remus stories. He’s white and the stories are about the ‘Brer Rabbit’ stories from the African-American oral tradition. Some, like Henry Louis Gates, Jr., credit him for preventing these tales from being lost, while some others criticize his work as cultural appropriation. James Weldon Johnson called them “the greatest body of folklore America has produced.” (Died 1908.)
- Born December 9, 1900 — Margaret Brundage. An illustrator and painter who is now remembered chiefly for having illustrated Weird Tales. Here is her first cover for them. She’s responsible for most of the covers for between 1933 and 1938. Wiki claims without attribution that L. Sprague de Camp and Clark Ashton Smith were several of the writers not fond of her style of illustration though other writers were. She’d win the Retro Hugo at CoNZealand for Best Professional Artist after being nominated four times before. And she’s a member of the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1976.)
- Born December 9, 1902 — Margaret Hamilton. Most likely you’ll remember her best as The Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. She would appear later in The Invisible Woman, along with much later being in 13 Ghosts, a horror film, and she had a very minor role in The Night Strangler, a film sequel to The Night Stalker. And then there were her coffee commercials in the Seventies — absolute fantasy! See Maxwell House Coffee ad with Margaret Hamilton. (Died 1985.)
- Born December 9, 1911 — Don Ward. Author of H. Rider Haggard’s She: The Story Retold. More intriguingly, he ghost-wrote works credited according to ESF to both Alfred Hitchcock (Bar the Doors: Terror Stories) and Orson Welles (Invasion from Mars: Interplanetary Stories). He also worked with Theodore Sturgeon on Sturgeon’s West. (Died 1984.)
- Born December 9, 1934 — Judi Dench, 88. M in a lot of Bond films. Aereon in The Chronicles of Riddick, Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love which is at genre adjacent, Society Lady in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Miss Avocet in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Her very first genre film in the late Sixties, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was poorly received by critics and I recall her role being a mostly nude faerie.
- Born December 9, 1947 — Sarah Smith, 75. She has authored King of Space, a work of genre fiction published as a hypertext novel by Eastgate System, one of the first such works. She’s written two conventional genre novels, The Knowledge of Water and The Other Side of Dark, plus a double handful of short fiction and essays.
- Born December 9, 1952 — Nicki Lynch, 70. She and her husband Rich Lynch edited Mimosa which won six Best Fanzine Hugos and was nominated a total of 14 times. She and her husband have been members of WSFA, the Southern Fandom Confederation, the Chattanooga Science Fiction Association. She has also been a member of SAPS, SFPA, Myriad (Galactic Hitch Hiker), and LASFAPA.
- Born December 9, 1970 — Jennifer Brozek, 52. She picked up a Hugo nomination at Sasquan for Best Editor Short Form for the Beast Within 4: Gears & Growl steampunk anthology (she also edited numbers 2 and 3 in the series). Her novel The Last Days of Salton Academy garnered a Stoker nomination.
(9) WILDLIFE ANTICIPATION. “A little girl in California has been granted a license to keep a unicorn” reports NPR.
Madeline wrote to LA county officials asking for approval to keep a unicorn in her backyard if she could find one.
The animal control department agreed, granting her their very first unicorn license….
Insider quotes the county’s letter to Madeline: “LA County gave a girl a ‘unicorn license’ for her backyard — but only if she gives the mythical creature ‘regular access to rainbows’ and biodegradable glitter”.
…The department responded to her in a letter penned by Marcia Mayeda, the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control, on November 30. In the letter, Mayeda granted the license Madeline sought, as long as she followed the county’s conditions for keeping a unicorn, including caring for the pet in compliance with Title 10 of the Los Angeles County Code, which lays out the county’s laws for animal control and health.
Additionally, any unicorn owners must give their magical pets “regular access to sunlight, moonbeams, and rainbows,” Mayeda explained in the letter, adding that the unicorn must be fed watermelon — “its favorite treats” — at least once a week.
In order to maintain the unicorn’s horn in “good health,” Madeline would be required to polish it “at least once a month with a soft cloth.” Also, “any sparkles or glitter used on the unicorn must be nontoxic and biodegradable.”…
(10) DAILY ROBOTS. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] Came across this on Twitter from a fellow who does a coloring Advent picture every year. Only saw it yesterday, so it’s a bit late for the start of Advent, but it thought it was pretty adorable even as a standalone collection of cartoon robots.
(11) OVERFLOW. The Guardian profiles a famous Stephen King movie adaptation: “’The police came because of the sea of red gore’: unseen photos from the set of The Shining”.
Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining has legions of admirers the world over – not the least Lee Unkrich, director of Pixar classics including Toy Story 3 and Coco. Unkrich spent years collecting pictures, artefacts and stories about the making of the film, uncovering deleted scenes and getting to grips with its most obscure details. Here are a collection of unseen photographs from his forthcoming book about the 1980 horror classic…
…“Stanley was extremely nervous,” said Leon Vitali, actor and personal assistant to Kubrick, of the infamous blood elevator shoot. “We didn’t know if it was going to work. It was a one-off. We had thousands of gallons of this stuff that was going to be coming out of those elevator doors and it had to work … It was so beautiful you wanted to hug [him].” To the horror of nearby residents, a good deal of the blood allegedly escaped from the studio into the surrounding areas, and police were called to address the sea of red gore running through town….
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Bruce D. Arthurs, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jake.]