(0) Short Scroll today – I’m spending the day at my brother’s watching the Super Bowl.
(1) PROPOSED CHANGE TO COPYRIGHT LAW. In what may be a move to return to the pre-1978 copyright law, H.R. 576 the Copyright Clause Restoration Act of 2023 was introduced on January 26, 2023 by Congressman W. Greg Steube (R-FL-17). The bill can be read at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/118th-congress/house-bill/576/text
It states any copyright work shall endure for 28 years from the original date it was secured and is entitled to a renewal and extension for a further 28 years if the holder applies for that renewal and extension during the one-year period before the expiration of the original term of the copyright, It also includes provisions that specifically apply to a motion picture industry “person” (entity) with a market capitalization of more than $150 billion. They are relief provisions in the sense that they would allow the person to keep holding the rights for up to 10 years after May 1, 2023, which is when licensing starts if enacted.
(2) BOUNDARIES. Joe R. Lansdale testifies on Facebook. Is he addressing a complaint, or just making it into a reductio ad absurdum.?
…Why do you have black characters in your books and gay characters since you are not black or gay?
Because I don’t believe in segregated fiction where one group only writes about their group and no one can make an appearance that isn’t of your group. That’s just stupid. We are all humans and we need to try and know one another. I can get it wrong, but I’m trying to get it right. Write about white people if you like, black, gay, animals, what have you. Writers shouldn’t be subject to that kind of thinking, and the fact people want some form of segregated fiction isn’t good for any of us. We should celebrate our connections, and not forget there are those who are less celebrated than they ought to be. But if you only want to write about one group, go for it. Just don’t tell me that I have to.
If you write about characters unlike you, not of your race or sexual persuasion, then you hear that you shouldn’t. You don’t write about them, then you hear, why aren’t you including them in your work?
I get shit from those who think I’m Woke, and from those who think I’m not.
I’m not a fan of Woke due to the bully aspect. I’m not a fan of the rabidly anti-Woke for the same reason. Neither group gets to tell me what I think or how I think. I think everyone deserves a fair shake….
(3) MEMORY LANE.
1930 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon is without doubt the finest mystery novel ever written. Go ahead and dispute that. You can tell me what you think is the greatest mystery novel.
(It was also made in the greatest mystery film of all time. That is without dispute, I tell you.
No, not the first time it was made in 1930, but 1941 version with Humphrey Bogart as private investigator Sam Spade and Mary Astor as his femme fatale client.
The film is completely faithful to the novel, a tribute to the screenwriter John Huston who also directed.)
Published by Knopf in 1930, it was originally serialized in Black Mask beginning with the September 1929 issue. It’s a tight novel, only a little over two hundred pages depending on the printing.
And now for our Beginning…
SPADE & ARCHER
Samuel Spade’s jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth.
His nostrils curved back to make another, smaller, v. His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal. The v motif was picked up again by thickish brows rising outward from twin creases above a hooked nose, and his pale brown hair grew down—from high flat temples—in a point on his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like a blond satan.
He said to Effie Perine: “Yes, sweetheart?”
She was a lanky sunburned girl whose tan dress of thin woolen stuff clung to her with an effect of dampness. Her eyes were brown and playful in a shiny boyish face. She finished shutting the door behind her, leaned against it, and said: “There’s a girl wants to see you. Her name’s Wonderly.”
“I guess so. You’ll want to see her anyway: she’s a knockout.”
“Shoo her in, darling,” said Spade. “Shoo her in.”
Effie Perine opened the door again, following it back into the outer office, standing with a hand on the knob while saying: “Will you come in, Miss Wonderly?”
A voice said, “Thank you,” so softly that only the purest articulation made the words intelligible, and a young woman came through the doorway. She advanced slowly, with tentative steps, looking at Spade with cobalt-blue eyes that were both shy and probing. She was tall and pliantly slender, without angularity anywhere. Her body was erect and high-breasted, her legs long, her hands and feet narrow. She wore two shades of blue that had been selected because of her eyes. The hair curling from under her blue hat was darkly red, her full lips more brightly red. White teeth glistened in the crescent her timid smile made.
Spade rose bowing and indicating with a thick-fingered hand the oaken armchair beside his desk. He was quite six feet tall. The steep rounded slope of his shoulders made his body seem almost conical—no broader than it was thick—and kept his freshly pressed grey coat from fitting very well.
(4) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born February 12, 1920 — Russ Chauvenet. He co-founded the National Fantasy Fan Federation, with Damon Knight and Art Widner, and was a member of First Fandom. He coined the word “fanzine” in the October 1940 issue of his fanzine Detours and was for many years a member of the Fantasy Amateur Press Association. He later coined prozine, a phrase for professionally published magazines containing SF stories. It looks like he wrote one piece of fanfic called “If I Werewolf”. He shares credit for it with Harry Jenkins, Jr., Elmer Perdue, Jack Speer, Wilson Tucker and Arthur L. Widner, Jr. and it was published in Spaceways, January 1942. (Died 2003.)
- Born February 12, 1929 — Donald Kingsbury, 94. He’s written three novels (Courtship Rite, The Moon Goddess and the Son and Psychohistorical Crisis) that could be akin to the Asimov’s Foundation novels. Clute at EOSF says that the Asimov estate explicitly refused him permission to set Psychohistorical Crisis in the Foundation universe.
- Born February 12, 1933 — Juanita Ruth Coulson, 90. She apparently is well-known for her Children of the Stars books. She co-edited the fanzine Yandro for many years. The magazine won the Hugo in 1965, thus making Coulson one of the very first women editors to be so honored. She’s also known for being an excellent filker. She was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 1996. She was nominated for several Pegasus Awards for filk music, winning the award for Best Writer/Composer in 2012.
- Born February 12, 1942 — Terry Bisson, 81. He’s best known for his short stories including “Bears Discover Fire,” which won the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award and “They’re Made Out of Meat.” His genre novels include Talking Man, Wyrldmaker and a rather superb adaptation of Johnny Mnemonic that was far better than the film ever could be.
- Born February 12, 1954 — Stu Shiffman. To quote Mike in his post, he was “The renowned fan artist, who generously shared his talents in fanzines, apas and convention publications, received the Best Fan Artist Hugo Award in 1990 and the Rotsler Award in 2010.” You can read Mikes’ gracious full post on him here. (Died 2014.)
- Born February 12, 1962 — Steve Szilagyi, 61. This is going to get very meta. Photographing Fairies, his first novel, was short-listed for the 1993 World Fantasy Award. But the novel itself is based on the Cottingley Fairies hoax so is the novel a metanarrative? Ok I’ve been up too long again. At any rate the film made from the novel which starred Ben Kingsley was most excellent.
- Born February 12, 1963 — Laura Miller, 60. Author of an essay whose title tickles me to the end: “It’s Philip Dick’s World, We Only Live In It“. Originally appearing in the New York Times, 24 November 2002, it was reprinted in PKD Otaku, #9 which you can download here.
(5) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. Jays Classic Horror introduces us to the real star of Forbidden Planet.
Robby the Robot was built by ex-washing machine designer Robert Kinoshida who said, “I remember on the first day of filming, the crew stood around wondering ‘What the hell is this thing gonna do?'”
Robby was made of: metal, plastic, rubber, glass, and Plexiglas. The plastic parts were made using the then new technology of vacuum-forming heated plastic over wooden molds. He stands just over 7-feet tall, made in three detachable sections with a very detailed head.
Two stunt men took turns being inside Robby to operate him. An off-camera actor spoke Robby’s lines into a microphone that ran a cable to Robby’s foot and up to a voice-activated circuit that lit-up blue, neon tubes as he spoke.
Later, actor Marvin Miller dubbed in Robby’s final voice. Miller was the man that gave out the checks in TV’s The Millionaire series….
(6) NEVER SAY…. “’The Nevers’ Unseen Episodes Will Stream on Tubi” reports Collider.
HBO’s The Nevers has found a new home after it was unceremoniously axed and pulled from HBO Max. On Friday, it was confirmed that Tubi landed the exclusive streaming rights to the drama series and will stream all six episodes starting Monday, February 13. On top of that, six previously-unseen episodes will air beginning on Tuesday, February 14 starting at 2:38 p.m. ET and wrapping with Episode 12 on Wednesday, February 15 at 4:50 p.m. ET….
(7) DÉJÀ VU. Ars Technica noticed that “Another Russian spacecraft docked to the space station is leaking”.
Russia’s state-owned space corporation, Roscosmos, reported Saturday that a Progress supply ship attached to the International Space Station has lost pressure in its external cooling system.
In its statement, Roscosmos said there was no threat to the seven crew members on board the orbiting laboratory. NASA, too, said the hatch between the Progress MS-21 vehicle and the space station was open. Notably, the incident with the supply ship came within hours of the safe docking of another Progress ship, MS-22, which is in good health.
Although the initial Roscosmos statement was vague about the depressurization event, Dmitry Strugovets, a former head of space agency Roscosmos’ press service, later clarified it was a coolant leak. “All of the coolant has leaked out,” he said via Telegram.
This is the second Russian spacecraft to suffer a cooling system leak in less than two months at the space station….
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Linda Deneroff, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day by Ingvar.]
Look I see a Maltese Falcon, errrr, a First!
(0) Wait, if the pixels will self-scroll, does this mean we won’t have to read File 770, but we’ll know what it says?
(1) A GOP member of Congress – I see, this is an attack on Disney, given the DeSantis-Disney war, and that the DCMA was also known as the Micky Mouse Protection Act.
(2) “Why do you have black guys”? Actually, I got that as feedback from one of the big award winning online ‘zines for one story (“why is it important to mention the race of a character?”).
All of this I find mind-bogglingly horrid. Let’s see, there was this TV show when I was little – you probably never heard of it – where in the middle of the Cold War, there was a Russian officer on the bridge, and 20 years after the end of WWII, a Japanese officer, and a black woman officer….
Talk about snowflakes! (“Oh! I can’t identify with them….)
(4) Birthdays: Kingsbury – a very pleasant man – my late wife and I met him at a Worldcon, when I think either Courtship Rite or Moon Goddess and the Son (both of which are utterly brilliant) was up for a Hugo.
5) Interesting little puzzler; one of the many authors who contributed a single morose poem to John W. Campbell’s Unknown was called Marvin Miller. (In the issue covered on my blog here, if you’re interested.) I have no idea if it’s the same guy. There’s at least one other famous Marvin Miller in the right sort of time frame, and quite probably heaps more I’m not aware of. I did find out, though, that Miller-the-voice-of-Robbie recorded a couple of spoken-word poetry LPs, so he had at least that much contact with poetry… So, was this lugubrious poem in Unknown written by the actor who voiced Robbie? I’d love to know.
(Side note: almost all the poetry that ever appeared in Unknown is incredibly depressing – the only one that’s even vaguely cheerful is a thing by Theodore Sturgeon, written – in my opinion – when he was clearly off his head on something. Otherwise, it’s all dying tramps, burning witches, eternal vigils by the sides of graves, and similar topics. Honestly, I’m convinced that Sylvia Plath would have asked the Unknown poets to cheer up a bit.)
Yeah. As I understand it, that’s why Psychohistorical Crisis has thinly disguised alternate names for all the Foundation concepts and names.
(7) This is why we need SpaceX and as many other western companies as possible designing and producing working, reusable spacecraft, where the main concern is not avoiding ticking off Putin.
Note that I am not saying we need Musk. Thankfully, so far, he hasn’t meddled too much at SpaceX.
1) Why can’t the US just stick to the life plus X rule required by the Berne Convention? And while this particular congressperson may be swinging at Disney, he will also hit everybody else.
Also, what happens with international creators? Most of us never register for copyright in the US, because our own countries don’t require copyright registration, because copyright exists from the moment of creation. I don’t want my works to become public domain within my lifetime (though I think 70 years after death is too long) nor do I want to jump through the hoops and expenses of registering copyright in the US, when this should not be necessary.
P.S. No subscriber notification went out for this scroll.
@Mike Glyer–But…I got one…
I blame the UFOs, and the decision to shoot them down.
(4) Check out Chunga 13, with Stu Shiffman’s alternate-historical biography of “Woody Guthrie, the Singing Sidekick”. Also, Stu reviews some great SF/F movies, starting with Kubrick’s 1968 classic, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
Yes, I’m also from the notifications-happened timeline.
Happy birthday to Juanita! I saw her at OVFF last October, using a walker (she’d had a fall and broken some bones some time ago, was still recuperating) but still chugging along. If I reach 90 (another 20 and 1/4 years from now) I hope I’m still doing as well.
4) Psychohistorical Crisis barely files the serial numbers of Asimov. “Violence is the last refuge of the competent”, indeed.
4bis) I have recently gathered all four volumes of Children of the Stars and hope to get around to reading them someday.
Got a subscriber notification here.
1) Another GOP politician longing for a return to “The Good Old Days”? (I don’t like the current copyright terms –I think Life+50 would be fairer, allowing a writer’s children and grandchildren to enjoy any benefits– but the 28+28 feels too short, especially if the renewal is neglected or forgotten.
2) If you haven’t watched HAP AND LEONARD, the fine adaptation of several Lansdale novels, heads up: It will be leaving Netflix on March 5th. Watch while you can.
4) My cassette of RIFLE & RHYMES, Juanita Coulson’s adaptation of a number of Martha Keller poems into song, bit the dust long ago. Really wish it could be reissued, but apparently it’s one of the Off Centaur recordings that got tangled up in the Off Centaur partners unpleasant “business divorce” in the late 1980s.
Mike, I got a notification too.
(4) Terry Bisson’s “They’re Made Out of Meat” is available as a short film on YouTube: https://youtu.be/7tScAyNaRdQ
In a way, I don’t think Psychohistorical Crisis would have worked as well if it was explicitly in the Foundation continuity. It’s much more interesting as a modern day reimagination of the same concepts, with sounder technogical basis for some things; and it also works as a sort of commentary on Asimov’s original.
4) Psychohistorical Crisis’ serial numbers still show, IMO 🙂
(that said I did enjoy it)
In re Copyright, I think it should be Life plus a reasonable (and no, 70 years is not, its far too long) amount afterward. Life plus 28, for example.
(1) A perfect example of ‘worst person you know makes a great point’.
Re “Forbidden Planet” and Robbie therein. I do love the scene with Earl Holliman (drinking some illegal hooch) which the robot grabs and then, to EH’s consternation, pours it down his front analysis font. Robbie then says (exact words may have escaped me) the following :” a mixture of alcohol and sump oil. Will 56 gallons do?”.. Just the sort of guy needed at any SF Con Room Party…!!
That would get a just-born or even posthumous child into adulthood, and I think that’s totally fair.
1) Death plus x years is simple which I like. It avoids the messiness of some Holmes stories being public domain while others are not.
It does need to be a shorter term.
I would also like to see some special provisions for translations. Maybe 10 years after the original work is in public domain or something like that.
Ha, a Mouse-sized cutout. Sort of an inverse bill of attainder.
The Maltese Falcon story’s part about John Hustin adapting and directing such an accurate version reminded me of an anecdote I read. Someone asked John Hustin about the almost literal adaption of the book. He said something like “I was new at this. I didn’t know I was allowed to change anything.”
1) Regarding the text of the bill, at least it’s short. But still confusing. In my definitely not legally trained reading, that’s not a relief provision at all. In general, the new terms would only apply to copyrights assigned after the bill is passed: so anything you wrote, say, thirty years ago would still be in copyright under the current terms. Unless you work in television or the movies or are a very large corporation, and then they take effect immediately but with a further exception that I can’t make sense of at all.
It does look like a bomb thrown in the general direction of the film industry and also one large corporation in particular.
3) Dashiell Hammett was really a stone-solid, knockout good writer.
My understanding of how US law and treaties work (which is, admittedly, not great) suggests that the US would have to formally withdraw from the Berne Convention before any such law could take effect.
In any case, “Congresscritter proposes a law” is not usually something to be concerned about, one way or the other, especially when you have a bunch of new and inexperienced Congresscritters just seated. The number of ridiculous and often unconstitutional laws submitted by fresh-faced new ‘critters would fill at least a medium-sized library. The time to pay attention is when–and if–a proposed law makes it out of committee.
Yeah, (1) is a stunt bill. I’m all for copyright terms shorter than the currently overlong US terms, but the only renewal requirement we could enact now that wouldn’t require us to withdraw from Berne and various world trade pacts that incorporate it would be to require renewal for terms longer than Berne’s minimums.
Such a renewal regime has been proposed by a number of more serious folks at various times, most recently when Canada extended its copyrights 20 years. But the bill author here seems not to know or care about them, since his main purpose appears to be to go after Disney. (The second part of the bill essentially singles out Disney for retroactive rescinding of copyright– they meet the criteria, and I’m not sure any other company does, at least not at the moment.)
@dave lally: According to imdb (and this matches my recollection – I have watched this movie a lot), Robby’s response after downing the last of Earl Holliman’s bourbon is “Quiet please, I am analyzing. (belch) Yes, relatively simple alcohol molecules with traces of fusel oil. Would 60 gallons be sufficient?”
Peace Is My Middle Name says Dashiell Hammett was really a stone-solid, knockout good writer.
Nothing Hammett did was less than kick ass great. I think The Continental Op is his best creation in terms of a not one off detective.
(1) My favorite piece on copyright is Spider Robinson’s short story “Melancholy Elephants” and it’s available on his website at Melancholy Elephants
Dave Lally – yeah, great for a con suite, assuming we can force the lawyers out the door, so that the con suite’s not dry.
Bruce Arthurs – Bill and Gretchen Roper’s label, Dodeka Records, has a CD “Quest” which is almost all Keller songs sung by Juanita. I’m not going to try to dig out my “Rifles & Rhymes” tape to compare the contents, but the CD has 29 tracks. Unfortunately a couple of them are incomplete. Juanita told me one had a technical issue. The other had an issue involving one of the other musicians. Still worth having to get your Keller/Coulson fix.
OK, my pick for greatest Mystery is “The Big Sleep,” by Raymond Chandler. Every time I read it I want to start setting the last couple pages to music.