(1) WHEN ‘THINGS TO COME’ WAS NEW. The videos featuring the musical score of Things to Come linked in the Pixel Scroll for February 13 prompted John L. Coker III to pass along this transcript of a conversation that he had with David A. Kyle about the movie over 20 years ago.
[David A. Kyle:] H.G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come was one of the first serious science fiction movies; it considered big problems and big situations, and had a great cast. This is a picture that was full of idealism, with the viewpoint of the future as one world. Fans of science fiction had hoped that mankind would all band together and we would all be Earth people. When we went out to the planets, we would be representing the Earth as a whole, rather than as individual countries.
The picture was socialistic, as H. G. Wells was, and it was rare when a real science fiction picture came out. It dealt with real things, and forecast what was going to happen in Europe. It is set in 1936, when an unidentified enemy bombs England and war starts. The sky is black with airplanes coming over, all quite visionary.
I remember when it first came out. It played in a country theater near my home in Monticello, New York, for three days. Because I was a young newspaper reporter, I could go into a theater anytime I wanted, and I wouldn’t have to pay. The movie was so prophetic, and there was also the great music written by Arthur Bliss. I had recordings of that music at one time, and it was really drummed into my head. It still haunts me.
When I went to New York with some of the science fiction fans in the late 1930s, we went to the Ivory Tower. This was a breeding ground for writers such as Dick Wilson, Donald A. Wollheim and Fred Pohl. As I came out of the subway, and approached the building, I would run through my head the march from Things to Come. Time passed, and in 1939 war broke out in Europe, and we began to see the prophecies coming true.
In 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and the next year I enlisted. I became an officer and was sent to Northern Ireland. It was midnight and I was by myself in my hut, and had my radio on. Then came the unforgettable music from Things to Come. I remembered scenes such as the bombing of London and suddenly this creepy crawly feeling went up my back. There I was, in uniform, a part of the conflict that was going on around me, and I realized I had become part of the picture. It had come to life.
Six months or so later, I was in London, looking in the publication What’s On. It listed all of the cinemas, and I noticed that Things to Come was playing. How could I resist going to see it, being in London with a war going on?
A few days later I was in the Savoy Hotel with a Canadian officer, and I saw Edmond Chapman, who played the role of Pippin Passworthy, opposite Raymond Massey’s main character. So there he was, in his R. A. F. uniform, and I went over to him to say hello. I told him that I had been intrigued by the film that I saw years ago, and that I had gone again to see it the other night. He had several kind things to say. It was a thrill for me to be there with a character from the film in uniform, in London, during the war. It was as if he had somehow come alive from the movie. It was surreal but so realistic. I was nearly overwhelmed by the experience. I’ll never forget it.
Years later, when I was living in England and attending a Rotary meeting, a man across the table from me who had been an entertainer told me that when he was young, he had visited the studios where they were making Things to Come. He had been an extra on the picture, and appeared in the scene where all of the troops were jumping off of the back of the big ship. He remembered when H. G. Wells would come around and talk with members of the cast about the picture.
Science fiction and the cinema and fannish friends all sort of came together. And, in my time, I was so close to the imaginative world that our writers created that sometimes I felt that I had become part of that world for a short period of time.
(2) IDA KEOGH Q&A. Bob the Alien occasionally takes over author Paul L. Arvidson’s blog and interviews other British SF Association authors. [Via Emily Inkpen.] “Bob the Alien Interviews… Ida Keogh”.
Bob: Well what an interesting specimen we’ve beamed up here. Who are you and why have you got a tail? Other humans don’t seem to.
Ida Keogh : Hi Bob! I’m Ida, creator of words, wrangler of precious metal and occasional mermaid. Thank you for having me. Tails are great, aren’t they? Other humans are missing out.
Bob: Is this mind probe thingy working? It tells me you’re another one of these writer types. What makes you want to do that?
I.K: I have words inside me that need to get out. I love to shape phrases, sculpt paragraphs, stack pages. Sharing my words with other humans makes me glow….
(3) A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] I was wandering around Reddit (being careful not to step into the pools of muck scattered around there) when I found a very cool post from a guy doing a read-through of ALL Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Award winners. He’s posting them on his blog as he gets through them, and I am very impressed (and somewhat appalled) at all the work he’s doing. “The Project” at Don’t Forget to Read a Book. The format of the reviews is explained here.
“Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner” is The Project’s latest post – here’s an excerpt.
…What is there to say about a book that is just what it is? I was unfamiliar with the ballad of Thomas the Rhymer, but apparently it is, well, a thing. A brief synopsis of the original: Thomas meets the Queen of Elfland, goes with her for seven years, sees many delights, and returns to the mortal world. He is given the gift of prophecy.
This novel version expands upon the story, offering an introduction to Thomas before he goes to Fairy, exploring his time there, and then chronicling his later life after returning. All of this added content is rather tepid. Song of Achilles is a great demonstration of the power of reimagining a well known tale and offering a new perspective. There is none of that here. No pushing of boundaries, no real expansion of the mythos. Kushner fills in the blanks in the same way that most others likely would as well….
(4) LEVAR BURTON ON TREVOR NOAH. “LeVar Burton Encourages Kids To Read Banned Books: ‘That’s Where the Good Stuff Is’” – Comicbook.com introduces a clip from The Daily Show, “America’s Book Bans: The Latest Culture War Front”. (Burton appears after the 8:30 mark.)
Literacy advocate, Star Trek star, and game show host LeVar Burton wants people, particularly children, to read banned books. The former Reading Rainbow host appeared during a segment about banned books on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. In the piece, Burton attempts to read some seemingly innocuous books only to get cut off because of a book banning for one contrived reason or another. Eventually, Burton runs away after hearing sirens nearby, but not before encouraging folks to read banned books “because that’s where the good stuff is.” You can watch the entire The Daily Show segment below….
(5) DANGEROUS VISIONS AND NEW WORLDS: RADICAL SCIENCE FICTION. On Saturday, February 26 and Sunday, February 27, City Lights in conjunction with PM Press will present a two-day symposium exploring the radical currents of Science Fiction and celebrating the launch of Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985, edited by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre.
Featuring an all-star cast of presenters including Samuel Delany, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Michael Moorcock, Cory Doctorow, Marge Piercy, Maitland McDonagh, Annalee Newitz, Jonathan Lethem, Shelley Streeby, Mike Stax, Karen Joy Fowler, Nick Mamatas, Ann VanderMeer, Matt Bell, adrienne maree brown, Daniel Shank Cruz, Lucy Sussex, Mimi Mondal, Vandana Singh, Rebecca Baumann, Meg Elison, Terry Bisson, Andrew Nette & Iain McIntyre
(6) MCKENNA’S NEW BOOK. The Fantasy Hive conducts an “Interview with Juliet E. McKenna” about The Cleaving, “a feminist retelling of the Arthurian legends follows the tangled stories of four women: Nimue, Ygraine, Morgana, and Guinevere, as they fight to control their own destinies amid the wars and rivalries that will determine the destiny of Britain.” The book will be published by Angry Robots in May 2023.
Can you tell us a bit more about your leading characters, Nimue, Ygraine, Morgana, and Guinevere? They’re such iconic characters, how did you approach recreating them?
[Juliet McKenna] Are they so iconic? Everyone knows Morgana and Guinevere’s names, but I can think of half a dozen very different portrayals of them both. This isn’t a problem though. That variety gives me tremendous freedom to come up with my own take. Nimue? The sources can’t even agree on how to spell her name, or exactly what she does, so I’ve got even more leeway. Ygraine’s barely mentioned in so many versions that I pretty much had a blank page there.
My approach to writing all these women has been to make them fully rounded, believable people. Far too often they’re two-dimensional figures who come and go to serve the plot by doing something or having something done to them. I took a longer view. I thought about the ways their experiences would shape their personalities, and how the people they become will influence the choices they make.
I also looked at the influence they would have on each other. In so many Arthurian retellings women are defined by their relationships to the men at the centre of the story. Their actions only matter when what they do matters to a man. In reality, women have crucial relationships with each other, as mothers, daughters and most of all as friends and allies. There’s no way these women caught up in these events wouldn’t look to each other for support. That opens up these myths in a whole new way….
(7) CELEBRATE FAN ART. 2019 Rotsler Award winner Alison Scott has now got a website to show off her fan art 00 “Alison Scott” at Myportfolio.com. Faneds who would like to use any of this material, or perhaps something made just for them (eventually) should get in touch with Alison. This example was done for DisCon III but fits it perfectly here, don’t you think?
I’ve struggled all day with how to write something about my friend Melissa Mead. Usually, writing my feelings is not hard, but Missy was a writer too, and a damn good one. Missy was born with Cerebral Palsy. Even that one illness is enough to destroy lives, and it wasn’t the only thing she had to fight her way through. Missy was a fierce fighter, and yet the single kindest person I’ve ever met….
Missy may have been limited by her body, but her imagination knew no bounds. She wrote sci fi and fantasy stories, and they were amazing. Every character felt real and every situation, no matter how fantastic, contained such imagery and forethought that it felt always as if that COULD exist….
Deirdre Saoirse Moen pointed out Melissa Mead’s recent article about disability representation in fiction, “I Don’t Hate Tiny Tim. Really!”, at Stupefying Stories Magazine. It’s brilliant.
Poor Tiny Tim.
I’m not saying that because he has a disability. I’m saying that because everyone, from his readers to his creator, pities him because he has a disability. He doesn’t pity himself, though! He joins in his siblings’ games whenever possible, and they cheerfully take him along with them. And while his father calls him “good as gold,” he’s not a perfect saint. When his father insists that the family drink a toast to his hard-hearted boss, Ebeneezer Scrooge, “Tiny Tim drank it last of all, but he didn’t care twopence for it.”…
(9) MEL KEEFER (1926-2022). Comic book and animation artist Mel Keefer has died at the age of 95. Mark Evanier wrote a tribute at News From ME.
…No one is quite sure how many newspaper strips he worked on but I know of these: Perry Mason, Dragnet, Gene Autry, Mac Divot, Thorne McBride, Willis Barton M.D. and Rick O’Shay. His longest run was with Mac Divot, which ran from 1955 to 1977. A lot of comic strip fans didn’t follow it because it was about golf and newspapers often ran it in the sports section. He ghosted on at least a half-dozen others but the most notable was Bash Brannigan, the strip drawn by “Stanley Ford” (Jack Lemmon) in the movie, How to Murder Your Wife. Mel did all the comic art in the film and when you thought you were seeing a close-up of Lemmon’s hand drawing his character, that was Mel’s hand you were seeing….
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1967 — [Item by Cat Eldridge] Fifty-five years ago, Star Trek’s “Space Seed” first aired on NBC. It was the twenty-second episode of the first season and it was directed by Marc Daniel from a teleplay from Gene L. Coon and Carey Wilber. The former was both a major writer and a show-runner on the series; the latter did writing for Captain Video and His Video Rangers, Lost In Space and The Time Tunnel. The story was by Weber.
Yes, this is the episode that introduced Ricardo Montalbán as Khan Noonien Singh. He would of course return in The Wrath of Khan which would be nominated for a Hugo at ConStellation the year that Blade Runner won. From my viewpoint, and I know some of you may beg to differ, the only other guest performer worth noting is Madlyn Rhue as Lt. Marla McGivers.
Director Nicholas Meyer stated in interviews that he wrote McGivers out of his drafts of The Wrath of Khan in order to give Khan more motivation for being pissed off. Anyone remember if Khan made reference to her in the film? I’ve seen it at three times but not in at least twenty years now, so I don’t remember.
James Blish who was working from the yet script drafts at the time used the name Sibahl Khan Noonien in his novella long adaptation for the 1968 Bantam Books’ Star Trek 2 anthology which shows that the name change was a late decision.
Passing references to the events here appear in here will later make it to Deep Space Nine and Enterprise.
Reception at the time of its broadcast was quite positive though the reviewers for Tor.com much later on really didn’t like the relationship between Khan and McGivers saying in their of the episode that it was “really uncomfortable to watch her immediate attraction to him and her easy acceptance of his abusive and controlling behavior”.
I’m am not, repeat, not going to talk about Benedict Cumberbatch portraying Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness. Really, really not going to talk about him doing so.
Greg Cox wrote a very much not canon novel titled To Reign in Hell: The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh which in great detail gave us the romance of Khan and Givers. I can’t say I’ve got much interest in reading it.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born February 16, 1933 — Jim Harmon. During the Fifties and Sixties, he wrote more than fifty short stories and novelettes for Amazing Stories, Future Science Fiction, Galaxy Science Fiction, If, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and other magazines. Most of his fiction was collected in Harmon’s Galaxy. EoSF says he has one genre novel, The Contested Earth, whereas ISFDB lists two more, Sex Burns Like Fire and The Man Who Made Maniacs. He’s a member of First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 2010.)
- Born February 16, 1940 — Angela Carter. She’s best remembered for The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories where she took fairy tales and made them very, very adult in tone. Personally I’d recommend The Curious Room instead,as it contains her original screenplays for the BSFA winning The Company of Wolves which starred Angela Lansbury and The Magic Toyshop films, both of which were based on her own original stories. Though not even genre adjacent, her Wise Children is a brilliant and quite unsettling look at the theatre world. (Died 1992.)
- Born February 16, 1951 — William Katt, 71. Ralph Hinkley, the lead of The Greatest American Hero. A series I know I watched and loved at the time. In December 1975, he auditioned for the part of Luke Skywalker. But didn’t get the role obviously.
- Born February 16, 1953 — Mike Glyer, 69. Happy Birthday! OGH has won the Hugo Award 11 times in two categories: File 770 won the Best Fanzine Hugo in 1984, 1985, 1989, 2000, 2001 2008, and 2016. He himself has won the Best Fan Writer Hugo in 1984, 1986, 1988, and 2016. The 1982 Worldcon presented him a special award in 1982 for Keeping the Fan in Fanzine Publishing. He even wrote several pieces of genre fiction, “The Six Who Are Boring” and “The Men Who Corflued Mohammed.”
- Born February 16, 1954 — Iain M. Banks. I’m certain I’ve read the entire Culture series even though I certainly didn’t read them in the order they were written. My favorites? Certainly The Hydrogen Sonata was bittersweet for being the last ever, Use of Weapons and the very first, Consider Phlebas are also my faves. And though not genre, I’m still going to make a plug for Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram. It’s about single malt whisky, good food and his love of sports cars. And yes, Green Man has reviewed it. How could we not, it being by Banks? (Died 2013.)
- Born February 16, 1957 — Ardwight Chamberlain, 65. The voice of Kosh on Babylon 5. And that quite tickles me as I don’t think they credited it during the series, did they? Most of his other voice work is English-dubbing versions of Japanese anime including Digimon: Digital Monsters and The Swiss Family Robinson: Flone of the Mysterious Island.
- Born February 16, 1957 — LeVar Burton, 65. Well y’all know what series he was on and what character he played that he’s best known for so I can dispense with that. And yes, that series did win Hugos, “The Inner Light” did at ConFrancisco and “All Good Things” did at Intersection. Other genre appearances include The Supernaturals, a zombie film, as Pvt. Michael Osgood, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies voicing Black Lightning and in another zombie film Rise of the Zombies as Dr. Dan Halpern. Plus his acclaimed reading series.
- Born February 16, 1964 — Christopher Eccleston, 58. The Ninth Doctor, who’s my third favorite among the new ones behind David Tennant and Jodie Whittaker. Other genre work includes 28 Days Later, The Seeker, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (a truly awful film), Thor: The Dark World, The Leftovers, The Second Coming and The Borrowers. He also played Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Barbican Theatre.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
- Bizarro has a genre IKEA gag.
(13) THE ACME OF FILMMAKING. Screen Crush reports “Wile E. Coyote’s Getting a Live-Action Movie Starring John Cena”.
Well, John Cena’s having a good day.
Not only did his HBO Max series Peacemaker get renewed for a second season, he’s also gotten tapped to star in the upcoming live-action Looney Tunes movie Coyote vs. Acme. The concept is vaguely Space Jam-ish, in that it takes place in a world where humans animated cartoons co-exist. (There’s no basketball this time, though.)
The movie will be directed by Dave Green, whose previous efforts include Earth to Echo and the live-action (with CGI) Teenage Mutant Ninja sequel, Out of the Shadows. The premise is actually based on a 1990 New Yorker article titled “Coyote v. Acme” by Ian Frazier. (You can read it here.) Here are the specifics of the plot, via Deadline:
The film follows Wile E. Coyote, who after ACME products fail him one too many times in his dogged pursuit of the Roadrunner, decides to hires a billboard lawyer to sue the ACME Corporation. The case pits Wile E. and his lawyer against the latter’s intimidating former boss (Cena), but a growing friendship between man and cartoon stokes their determination to win….
(14) PERSPECTIVE ON TODAY. “George Takei: ‘I maintain that without optimism, we’ve already failed’” – so he tells an interviewer from the Washington Post. The profile includes a long reminiscence of his experience being taken to a WWII Japanese internment camp.
Let me ask you about maybe your defining role, your “Star Trek” role. Having experienced discrimination against Japanese Americans during and after World War II, what did it mean to you to as an actor to be able to take a role that didn’t play to the stereotypes of what Hollywood was portraying at the moment?
I immediately recognized that this was a breakthrough opportunity for me. For one thing, it was steady work if it sold. I was just doing guest shots here and there. And secondly, it was a part of the leadership team. A breakthrough opportunity, not only for me, but for the image of Asians and Asian Americans on television. The creator of the show, Gene Roddenberry, was extraordinary. He said the Starship Enterprise was a metaphor for Starship Earth and that it was the diversity of this Earth that the strength of this starship comes from.
(15) GOOD OMENS. “In Pictures: Star-spotting in Bo’ness as Good Omens 2 films with David Tennant and Michael Sheen” — the Edinburgh News has numerous photos of the actors on location in the city the other day.
Fans snapped pictures of stars David Tennant and Michael Sheen as they prepared to film scenes around the Hippodrome Cinema
They were joined by Dame Siân Phillips, while extras wearing feather-adorned caps and 1920s flapper-style dresses walked around the set….
(16) THE (KAURI) HELMET OF BOBA FETT. [Item by Soon Lee.] New Zealand actor Temuera Morrison, who plays the title character on The Book of Boba Fett, was presented with a carved wooden Boba Fett helmet. “Temuera Morrison honoured in Rotorua with Boba Fett kauri carving” at Newshub.
The carver, Graham Hoete a.k.a. MrG carved it out of native kauri and has shared the video of the gifting.
And also some of the carving process.
(17) CHRIS AND ZACH; BACK TOGETHER AGAIN. CNET reports “Star Trek 4 Will Bring Back Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto”.
It’s been six years since the last Star Trek movie, but the wait for the next one is coming to an end. J.J. Abrams, director of 2009’s Star Trek and 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, announced plans on Tuesday to bring back original cast members for a fourth film.
“We are thrilled to say that we are hard at work on a new ‘Star Trek’ film that will be shooting by the end of the year that will be featuring our original cast and some new characters that I think are going to be really fun and exciting and help take ‘Star Trek’ into areas that you’ve just never seen before,” Abrams said during the Paramount Investors Day Presentation…
(18) RESCUE RANGERS RETURNING. Disney+ will air new episodes of “Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers” beginning May 20. The lead voice actors will be John Mulaney as Chip, and Andy Samberg as Dale, which is very intriguing casting.
Rescuing the world takes a pair. A comeback 30 years in the making, the hybrid live-action/CG animated action-comedy catches up with the former Disney Afternoon television stars in modern-day Los Angeles. “Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers” premieres May 20, 2022, exclusively on Disney+.
(19) CAT BURGLAR. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Because this Netflix cartoon is interactive, you can watch this cartoon animal bash-a-thon over and over!
Classic cartoon craziness meets an interactive quiz in CAT BURGLAR. In this Tex Avery inspired toon from the creators of BLACK MIRROR, the viewer helps Rowdy Cat vex Peanut the Security Pup and break into a museum with the goal of making off with a priceless prize. With an average runtime of ten minutes, and over an hour and a half of animation to choose from, the viewer could play CAT BURGLAR a hundred times and never view the same cartoon twice!
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, Jennifer Hawthorne, Olav Rokne, Soon Lee, Chris Barkley, Michael J. Walsh, John L. Coker III, Steven French, Alison Scott, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day JeffWarner.]