(1) PRATCHETT REDISCOVERIES. None set on the Discworld, but they are genre: “Rediscovered Terry Pratchett stories to be published” – the Guardian has details.
A collection of newly rediscovered short stories by Terry Pratchett, originally written under a pseudonym, are to be published later this year.
The 20 tales in A Stroke of the Pen: The Lost Stories were written by Pratchett in the 1970s and 1980s for a regional newspaper, mostly under the pseudonym Patrick Kearns. They have never been previously attributed to Pratchett, who died in 2015 aged 66, eight years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
The collection was bought by Pratchett’s longtime publisher Transworld for a six-figure sum, and will be published on 5 October.
The discovery of the stories is down to a group of Pratchett’s fans. One of the longer stories in the collection, The Quest for the Keys, had been framed on Pratchett fan Chris Lawrence’s wall for more than 40 years. When he alerted the Pratchett estate to its existence, the rest of the stories were unearthed by fans Pat and Jan Harkin, who went through decades’ worth of old newspapers to rediscover the lost treasures.
… None of the stories are set in Pratchett’s Discworld – the first book of which, The Colour of Magic, was released in 1983 – but according to the publisher they “hint at the world Sir Terry would go on to create”.
Readers, said the publisher, could expect to “meet characters ranging from cavemen to gnomes, wizards to ghosts, and read about time-travel tourism, the haunting of council offices and a visitor from another planet”….
(2) ADD TO MT TBR? Michael Swanwick calls it “Joanna Russ’s Mainstream Masterwork”.
The latest book I have been knocked flat and wowed by (they come less frequently with age, so read fast, young people) is On Strike Against God by Joanna Russ. She being one of the crown gems of science fiction, you’d expect it to be genre. But it’s not. It’s mainstream. It’s subtitled A Lesbian Love Story. And if you had to fit it into a subgenre, it would be Feminist Fiction.
Strike three, you’d think, for a guy who’s rapidly heading toward the category of Dead White Male. But no, Joanna managed the near-miraculous feat of writing prose that was simultaneously white-hot with anger and laugh-out-loud funny….
(3) NINTENDO DIRECTOR Q&A. “Nintendo’s Miyamoto says inspiration comes from his childhood experiences in nature” at NPR.
The person who made it possible is Nintendo’s game director, Shigeru Miyamoto. He’s the creator of some of the most influential and bestselling games in the industry. In addition to Mario Brothers, you got Donkey Kong and the Legend of Zelda. He joined Nintendo straight out of art school in 1977 and says a lot of his inspiration comes from his childhood experiences in nature. I sat down with Miyamoto to learn more about why his characters and games have had such a lasting impact.
When it comes to Mario, what do you think accounts for his ability to just be in the hearts of so many people?
SHIGERU MIYAMOTO: (Through interpreter) You know, before, when I was asked this question, I thought that it’s perhaps because the game sold well. And a lot of people have this experience of playing this game and playing it over and over, that it becomes commonplace for them. But now I feel that it’s a little bit different in that Mario is kind of like a – your avatar or the person that represents you in this world. And that experience is, you know, because it’s been around for so long, an experience that can be shared multi-generations, you know? A father and their children can share that experience….
(4) YOU KNOW HOW SUCCESSFUL PROHIBITION WAS. Richard Charkin “On the ‘Desecration of Authors’ Works’” at Publishing Perspectives.
Taking a Leaf Out of Dr. Bowdler’s Book
The idea of editing Shakespeare to eliminate doubles entrendres and naughty words to fit in with 19th-century social mores now seems preposterous, although presumably his publishers—Messrs. Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown—thought it was a pretty good idea at the time.
Their 1818 The Family Shakespeare offered the assurance that “Nothing is added to the original text but those words and expressions are omitted which cannot with propriety be read aloud by a family.” Thomas Bowdler’s work on this gave rise to the term bowdlerize, meaning “to remove matter considered indelicate or otherwise objectionable,” per Merriam-Webster.
Doubtless, the Roald Dahl Story Company and Messrs. Bertelsmann, PRH, and Puffin also thought it was a pretty good idea to subject the works of Roald Dahl to the same sort of treatment for the same sort of reasons.
I’ve had a few brushes with attempts to change or stifle books.
The obvious case was Peter Wright’s tedious Spycatcher, for which Mrs. Thatcher, in a rare case of support for publishers’ profits, appointed herself marketing director for the book by trying to have it throttled.
She forgot that the United Kingdom was only able to ban books in its jurisdiction. At Heinemann, we happily imported books from Australia to satisfy the demand she had created. We even hired tele-sales people to call British booksellers to drum up orders. Phone calls from Australia were expensive, so we found traveling Australians living in London to make the calls.
(5) CAN WE PAY FOR THE FUTURE? Pitchfork Economics presents “Sci-Fi Economics (with Kim Stanley Robinson)” – listen to the podcast, or read the transcript.
We can’t tear down the existing economic framework and replace it with a better one without first telling a persuasive story about how the economy actually works. And few people in the world are more compelling storytellers than science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson.
In his speculative near-future novel The Ministry for the Future, Stan explains complicated economic theories better than most economists. He joins Nick and Goldy for a fascinating conversation about the role of economics in both climate change fiction and climate change reality.
Kim Stanley Robinson is a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards. He is the author of more than twenty books, including the bestselling Mars trilogy and the critically acclaimed New York 2140 and The Ministry for the Future.
A brief excerpt from the transcript:
David Goldstein: Well, this raises a question. This book was recommended to me by a number of people. Ostensibly, I thought it was about climate change. But really, it’s a book about economics. I’m wondering, was that your intention when you started the book, or did the economics come out in the writing?
Kim Stanley Robinson: Oh, I knew it was going to be there from the start. As I mentioned, I wrote New York 2140 in probably 2016. It’s a description of New York after sea level rises something like 50 vertical feet, so Lower Manhattan is underwater and is a supervenience, and it’s all about the financialization essentially. It’s not quite a metaphor for our current meltdowns, but it has a lot about the present, as well as the ostensible year of 2140.
So I had been working on it then, and I’d been working on the economics of climate change this whole 21st century. My Washington DC trilogy, set in DC in the near future during climate change, had a economic strand in it, but it wasn’t strong enough. It was more of, what would the federal government do, or the National Science Foundation? But, it became more and more obvious that, although we have various technical solutions to climate change, we don’t have a good way to pay for installing those technological changes, nor do we have a good way of assessing the actual economics of what we’re doing on Earth.
In other words, the gross world product, gross domestic product, whatever you want to call it, the highest rate of return profit itself, these are all crappy, cheesy, short rate, cheating rating systems that the world was run by. So, I needed to keep hammering away at it. Ministry for the Future is just the last of a long series of projects where economics take center stage because it’s crucial.
(6) BURNY MATTINSON (1935-2023). “Burny Mattinson, Animator and Disney’s Longest-Serving Employee, Dies at 87” – The Hollywood Reporter paid tribute. See his many credits at the link.
Burny Mattinson, who worked as an animator, director, producer and story artist during a 70-year career as the longest-serving “castmember” in the history of The Walt Disney Co., has died. He was 87.
Mattinson died after a short illness on Monday at a Canoga Park assisted living facility in Los Angeles, the studio announced. He was due to receive his 70th anniversary service award — the studio’s first ever — on June 4.
Mattinson was working full time at Walt Disney Animation Studios as a story consultant and mentor at the time of his death….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1962 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Tonight’s Beginning comes to us direct from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, the title poem to the collection of the same name. Written by Tolkien as if they were poems written and enjoyed by hobbits, one of the writers being Sam Gamgee.
Two of the poems which feature Tom Bombadil, a character encountered by Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings. And three of the poems appear in the Trilogy. Only one of the poems, “Bombadil Goes Boating”, was written specifically for The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.
Published first by George Allen & Unwin in 1962, it was illustrated by Pauline Baynes, both the cover and all of the interior art as well.
And now here’s our first poetic Beginning…
Old Tom Bombadil was a merry fellow;
bright blue his jacket was and his boots were yellow,
green were his girdle and his breeches all of leather;
he wore in his tall hat a swan-wing feather.
He lived up under Hill, where the Withywindle
ran from a grassy well down into the dingle.
Old Tom in summertime walked about the meadows
gathering the buttercups, running after shadows,
tickling the bumblebees that buzzed among the flowers,
sitting by the waterside for hours upon hours.
There his beard dangled long down into the water:
up came Goldberry, the River-woman’s daughter;
pulled Tom’s hanging hair. In he went a-wallowing
under the water-lilies, bubbling and a-swallowing.
‘Hey, Tom Bombadil! Whither are you going?’
said fair Goldberry. ‘Bubbles you are blowing,
frightening the finny fish and the brown water-rat,
startling the dabchicks, and drowning your feather-hat!’
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born February 27, 1851 — James Churchward. He is remembered for claiming he discovered a lost continent named Mu in the Pacific Ocean. Mu shows up in Lovecraft’s “Through the Gates of the Silver Key”, and “Out of the Aeons” which he co-wrote with Hazel Heald. It also appears in Philip K. Dick’s Confessions of a Crap Artist. (Died 1936.)
- Born February 27, 1902 — John Steinbeck. Yes, John Steinbeck. ISFDB lists one novel, The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication, Plus a bevy of short fiction such as “The Wedding of King”, “The Affair at 7 Rue de M—“ and “The Death of Merlin”. I’ll admit that I didn’t know these existed. So, has anyone read these? (Died 1968.)
- Born February 27, 1938 — T.A. Waters. A professional magician and magic author. He appears not terribly well disguised as Sir Thomas Leseaux, an expert on theoretical magic as a character in Randall Garrett’s Lord Darcy fantasy series and in Michael Kurland’s The Unicorn Girl in which he also appears as Tom Waters. He himself wrote The Probability Pad which is a sequel to The Unicorn Girl. Together with Chester Anderson’s earlier The Butterfly Kid , they make up Greenwich Village trilogy. (Died 1998.)
- Born February 27, 1944 — Ken Grimwood. Another writer who died way too young, damn it. Writer of several impressive genre novels including Breakthrough and Replay which I’ve read and Into the Deep and Elise which are listed in ISFDB but which I’m not familiar with. Who’s read them? (Died 2003.)
- Born February 27, 1957 — Frank Miller, 66. He’s both an artist and writer so I’m not going to untangle which is which here. What’s good by him? Oh, I love The Dark Knight Returns, both the original comic series and the animated film, though the same is not true of Sin City where I prefer the original series much more. Hmmm… What else? His runs on Daredevil and Electra of course. That should do.
- Born February 27, 1950 — Michaela Roessner, 73. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer for Walkabout Woman. Her The Stars Dispose duology is quite excellent. Alas, none of her fiction is available digitally.
- Born February 27, 1960 — Jeff Smith, 63. Creator and illustrator of Bone, the now complete series that he readily admits that “a notable influence being Walt Kelly’s Pogo”. Smith also worked for DC on a Captain Marvel series titled Mister Mind and the Monster Society of Evil. He’s won a very impressive eleven Harvey Awards and ten Eisner Awards! Kindle, though not Apple Books, has the complete Bone for a very reasonable twenty dollars.
- Born February 27, 1966 — Peter Swirski, 57. He’s a academic specialist on the late SF writer and philosopher Stanislaw Lem. As such, he’s written the usual treatises on him with such titles as Stanislaw Lem: Philosopher of the Future, Lemography: Stanislaw Lem in the Eyes of the World and From Literature to Biterature: Lem, Turing, Darwin, and Explorations in Computer Literature, Philosophy of Mind, and Cultural Evolution.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Bob the Angry Flower tries to join Blake’s 7.
(10) THE 700 CLUB. In May, Marvel Comics will mark the 700th issue of Fantastic Four with a giant-sized wraparound connecting cover by artist Scott Koblish that will adorn both May’s Fantastic Four #7 and June’s Fantastic Four #8. This massive piece features over 700 characters, each one having appeared in a prior issue of the comic — the Fantastic Four’s fellow super heroes, past members, loyal allies, and of course, their iconic villains. For more information, visit Marvel.com. (Click for larger image.)
(11) A LOOK AHEAD. At Media Death Cult “Alastair Reynolds Reveals…..What’s Next”.
(12) JOHN WILLIAMS Q&A. “For ‘Indiana Jones 5,’ John Williams Scored 90 Minutes of Music”, so he tells Variety.
…. The composer finished recording the score for “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” on Feb. 10 and, while he suggested last summer that the final Harrison Ford adventure would be the last of his 100-plus film scores, that’s not quite the truth.
“I might have meant that at the moment,” he says with a smile, “but you never want to say no unequivocally. If Steven or another director should come along with something that is so moving that you want to drop the phone and rush to the piano and have it all come out — should that happen, with the appropriate energy needed to do it, I wouldn’t rule out a situation like that.”
Recording for the final “Indiana Jones” film – and three of the previous editions, starting with 1981’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” were Oscar-nominated for their music – began last June 28, and has continued off and on since then.
“It’s certainly got to be an hour and a half of music, maybe more,” Williams estimates. “But I’m quite happy with it. There’s a lot of new material. The old material works very well as a touchstone of memory, but I had great fun, and I have a theme that I’ve written for Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the wonderful actress.” She plays Helena Shaw, reportedly Indy’s goddaughter….
(13) I AM PUTTING MYSELF TO THE FULLEST POSSIBLE USE. Daniel Dern quips, “Hopefully, these computers haven’t seen 2001: A Space Odyssey.” “KIOXIA and HPE Team Up to Send SSDs into Space, Bound for the International Space Station”.
Just announced – KIOXIA is participating in HPE’s Spaceborne Computer-2 program, the first in-space commercial edge computing and AI-enabled system to run on the International Space Station.
Spaceborne Computer-2 is part of a mission to significantly advance computing and reduce dependency on communications as space exploration continues to expand. For example, astronauts can achieve increased autonomy by processing data directly on the ISS, eliminating the need to send raw data to Earth to be processed, analyzed and sent back to space….
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George shares visuals of the meeting that explains “How Animals Got Their Names”.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, James Reynolds, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]
(8) I know I read “The Short Reign of Pippin IV”, but I don’t remember anything about it. (It was in my parents’ library – one of my father’s books, I think, along with the more memorable “ZOTZ”.)
There was a copy of Steinbeck’s “Pippin IV” on my father’s shelves when I was young, and I read it. It’s a light satirical piece set in fifties France. Somehow the screwed up politics of the Fourth Republic lead to the restoration of the Merovingian dynasty, in the person of an unassuming modern descendant, as Bourbons, Bonapartes etc. cancel each other out. I don’t remember it very well but I’m sure it’s safe to call it a minor work.
Steinbeck also wrote a book called The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, which nobody seems to have heard of for some reason…
Birthdays: TA Waters. I’m not as in love with The Probability Pad as I am with Butterfly Kid and Unicorn Girl, but if you really want to know what the late sixties and seventies was like, folks…. How much fun sf have you read? (And that bum Michael Kurland won’t even give me one single blue pill – we exchanged emails about that, years back.)
(13) Great, an computer running an “AI” to run the Station. What could go wrong….?
I should’ve added that all three novels of the Greenwich Village trilogy are available from the usual suspects for less than twenty dollars altogether. Mind altering substances not included.
I used to have a copy of The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights.
Cat E: I’m really glad to hear the Greenwich Village trilogy is in print. It would be a shame to lose them.
(8) John Steinbeck. I was somewhat disappointed to discover that the unpublished Steinbeck mystery, “Murder at Full Moon”, is not a werewolf novel. Apparently, a more full examination of the unpublished manuscript reveals it to be a very metafiction mystery. https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/nine-10ths-of-a-triumph-on-john-steinbecks-murder-at-full-moon/ The manuscript can be read at the San Jose State Center for Steinbeck Studies, although not checked out. I might have considered going down there and reading it if it was an actual werewolf novel. Too bad.
(1) PRATCHETT REDISCOVERIES.
Wow, that is wonderful news. It might be early Pratchett, but any previously unread Pratchett would be A GOOD THING.
10) I can only zoom in so far on that crowded, sprawling mega-cover, but…I’m not finding Willie Lumpkin’s mustachioed smile amongst all the other characters. HOW COULD THEY LEAVE OUT THE FANTASTIC FOUR’S VERY OWN MAILMAN?!!
(2) Yes, do. “ prose that was simultaneously white-hot with anger and laugh-out-loud funny….” Is Russ’ stock in trade.
I realize (hope?) that this was said in jest, but seriously, the “AI” isn’t running the station, just crunching data instead of sending it to Earth and back again for analysis. It’s a tool, and as I commented on Scalzi’s blog Whatever recently, the AI in the news lately is a misnomer. It’s machine learning, and algorithms, not intelligence, artificial or otherwise.
@Bruce Arthurs: Willie Lumpkin’s four figures up from Hawkeye, right behind Marvel Boy.
@Dan’l Danehy-Oakes: I read Steinbeck’s King Arthur book in early 1985 (per my records).
Steinbeck played around with Arthurian tropes early in his career, then went back to them to work on King Arthur. He could never nail it down quite to his satisfaction–a lot of that background can be found in his collected Letters. He poked at a few fantasy ideas in his early writing, and if he had been born in a different era, I’d argue that he would have ended up solidly in the genre.
I’ve read nearly all of his short stories, which is where you’re likely to find a lot of his genre elements. His The Pastures of Heaven collection of related short stories has a somewhat horrific element to it, where the arrival of a particular family in a mountain valley leads to…well, one might call it a curse on the entire valley.
Arby’smom: sigh Even here, do I have to explicitly add before I say something? Wasn’t it obvious?
mark, former computer programmer and sr. Linux systems admin.
RE: #4, Shakespeare in Victorian times:
Yes, racy stuff was sanitized for the Victorian upper crust in it’s day.
Charles and Mary Lamb (brother and sister) wrote prose versions of the plays 1807 for the general population. It was a kind of therapy for Mary Lamb, who suffered mental illness. In her lucid hours, she worked on the comedies, while Charles did the histories and tragedies.
I recommend reading them before going to the plays these days, as Shakespeare had a huge cast of characters (common in his day), and lots of plot twists. They tell you who was who, and what was what, so you can more easily follow the plot lines (several!). It’s sort of like Cliff’s Notes on the stories. Originally, the Lamb stories were intended as a child’s introduction to Shakespeare. They work well as an introduction to the plays.
“West Side Story,” done on Broadway in the 20th century, clearly ‘borrowed’ the plot from “Romeo and Juliet.”
Countries all over the world have translated Shakespeare’s English into their current language. It still works, even though translation can be tricky. It’s no wonder Shakespeare is still the number one produced playwright every year, over 400 years after his death.
Recall that the plays during Shakespeare’s time were written for an audience of the common people as well as for the King. Spies were everywhere, and one had to watch one’s political P’s and Q’s. “King Lear” took an awful chance, as it depicts a weak king who falls due to his weakness. As Shakespeare achieved “rock star” status by the time he did “Lear,” he got away with it.
It wouldn’t surprise me the book banners at large in the US today will pull “Othello” from school libraries, as the character depicted is a Moorish (Black) prince! Perhaps even “The Merchant of Venice” will be targeted, as the protagonist is non-Christian.
There is a long history of banned books being acquired from “non-traditional” channels within the last two centuries. I hope these book banners don’t consider banning science fiction and fantasy altogether. As Gene Roddenberry’s works attest, it’s one of the few ways we can address subjects like racism, equality, prejudice, and poverty head on.
@mark, in this online environment, you never know who will take it wrong. It’s happened to me many times, so although it may be obvious to us, if someone’s reading this who doesn’t comment and thinks that’s what’s happening, I wanted to be sure they know the truth. Over on the Whatever blog page for Scalzi’s discussion of the subject, the comments were all over the place.
~ArbysMom, who, at 64, just found out in the last year that I’m definitely on the autism spectrum, which explains so much about how I perceive and disseminate information.
A Niven question — how many Flash Crowd stories were there, and were they collected anywhere? I think I remember reading them that way but can’t remember where. (Sixty plus years of reading SF dims the memory a bit in my case.)
Looking like there are 9 : https://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pe.cgi?16201
The older ones are in Flight of the Horse and A Hole in Space
There he is! Thanks, Matthew.
Andrew (not Werdna) says
Looking like there are 9 : https://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pe.cgi?16201
The older ones are in the Flight of the Horse and A Hole in Space
Ahhh, they’re in Flight of the Horse which I have. Thanks.
Do not read the the last four as they are truly awful. Niven got infected badly with right wing politics in the two he penned, amd other two are even worse. I only paid five dollars for the collection and that was five dollars I deeply regretted paying.