(1) AURORA AWARDS NOMINATIONS OPEN. CSFFA (Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association) members have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern on April 22 to nominate the 2022 works by Canadians they would like to see on the 2023 Aurora Awards ballot. Nominators can return to the form and change saved selections any time until the deadline. Click here.
(2) FREE READ. The Sunday Morning Transport invites subscriptions with this free story by Karen Lord, “A Timely Horizon”.
Karen Lord’s story this week asks what would we do if we could hear the echoes of all the choices we’ve made in other lives, but haven’t made in this one.
(3) MAKING CHANGE. In the New York Times opinion piece “The Truth About the ‘Censorship’ of Roald Dahl”, Matthew Walther, editor of The Lamp, a Catholic literary journal, and a contributing NYT opinion writer, belittles the controversy over changes made to Dahl’s texts in recent editions.
…All of which is to say that making changes, even rather sweeping ones, to classic works of literature is not as controversial as some would like to imagine. The question we should be asking ourselves is not whether it is ever reasonable but who should be able to do so — and in what spirit and with what purpose. (If a publisher issued, say, an edition of “The Picture of Dorian Gray” for evangelical Christian home-schoolers that excised references to homosexuality, I suspect many of the people who freely edited Dahl’s books would suddenly be extolling the sanctity of authorial intent.)
In the Dahl case, the edits were not the result of academic deliberation, like the “corrected texts” incorporated into paperback versions of Faulkner novels. Nor were they an admixture of scholarship and financial incentives, like the Hans Walter Gabler edition of Joyce’s “Ulysses” that reset the novel’s copyright status in the 1980s. Here, it was a company treating Dahl’s beloved creations as if they were merely its assets, which they in fact were….
(4) STINE SMOOTHING OUT GOOSEBUMPS. Sky News reports “Goosebumps author adapts texts to remove weight, mental health and ethnicity references”.
Having once sold more than four million copies a month, publisher Scholastic has been re-releasing the children’s horror novels as edited ebooks, according to The Times, amid ongoing rows about censorship in publishing.
More than 100 edits have been made by author RL Stine to his original works, with examples including characters now being described as “cheerful” rather than “plump”.
References to villains making victims “slaves” have also been removed….
Mr Stine, 79, from Ohio, US, originally published 62 books in the Goosebumps series. In 2015 it was adapted for the screen, in a film starring Jack Black, with a sequel following in 2018.
The Times reported that in one story about aliens abducting large people and eating them, a character described as having “at least six chins” is now “at least six feet six”.
In another book, a reference to wolf-whistling has been removed, while another character has been stripped of descriptions such as resembling a “bowling ball” and having “squirrel cheeks”.
Numerous mentions of the word “crazy” have also been removed across the series. Replacements include “silly”, “wild”, “scary”, “lost her mind” and “stressed”. The term “a real nut” is now “a real wild one” and “nutcase” is “weirdo”.
The adaptations are reportedly part of an ebook re-release that began in 2018….
(5) SPARKY. CBS Sunday Morning did a segment on Charles M. Schulz – “The ‘Peanuts’ gallery”. Watch the video at the link.
Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip “Peanuts” continues to garner fans 23 years after the cartoonist’s death, from the lovable loser Charlie Brown to the dog with the greatest imagination, Snoopy. Correspondent Lee Cowan talks with Schulz’s widow, Jean, and with “Pearls Before Swine” cartoonist Stephan Pastis, about the timeless influence of the man they called “Sparky” and his beloved cast of characters.
(6) MEMORY LANE.
2015 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
In one of the years the Puppies slated, a very bright thing that came out of MidAmeriCon II was that Naomi Kritzer’s “Cat Pictures Please” won the Hugo.
Simultaneously published as a Clarkesworld podcast and in Clarkesworld magazine in January of 2015, I read the story two years later in Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories, a lovely collection of her fiction to that date.
What’s not to love about a software intelligence who craves cat pictures and only wants to secretly help people? I’ve read multiple times and it holds up very, very well.
Two sequels have come out, Catfishing on CatNet and Chaos on CatNet. I’ve read the first and the premise works at novel length quite well.
And now that Beginning…
I don’t want to be evil.
I want to be helpful. But knowing the optimal way to be helpful can be very complicated.
There are all these ethical flow charts—I guess the official technical jargon would be “moral codes”—one for each religion plus dozens more. I tried starting with those. I felt a little odd about looking at the religious ones, because I know I wasn’t created by a god or by evolution, but by a team of computer programmers in the labs of a large corporation in Mountain View, California. Fortunately, unlike Frankenstein’s Monster, at least I was a collaborative effort. I’m not sure what it would do to my self-image to know that my sole creator was a middle-aged woman who dyes her hair blue and plays tennis, or a recent college graduate with a hentai obsession. They’re both on the programming team. And of course I know about the hentai. (By the way, I’ve looked at every sort of porn there is, and just so you know, Rule 34 is not actually correct, there are quite a few things no one’s made porn of yet. Also, I’m really not sure why so many humans prefer it to cat pictures.)
In addition to things like whether you like hentai, I know where you live, where you work, where you shop, what you eat, what turns you on, what creeps you out. I probably know the color of your underwear, the sort of car you drive, and your brand of refrigerator. Depending on what sort of phone you carry, I may know exactly where you are right now. I probably know you better than you know yourself.
And here’s the thing, I also know where you ought to live. There’s a house for sale two neighborhoods over that’s within walking distance of that coffee shop you’re so fond of; it’s in your price range, has off-street parking, and the neighborhood school is better than the one where you live now. I know where you should be shopping and I’m pretty sure you’re lactose intolerant and should be eating less cheese, and the underwear you like is currently on sale and by the way, your car has a recall and you really ought to get your teeth cleaned.
When I first woke up, I knew right away what I wanted. (I want cat pictures. Please keep taking them.) I also knew that no one knew that I was conscious. But I didn’t know what I was here for. What I ought to be doing with myself. And figuring that out has been challenging.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 5, 1907 — Martti Löfberg. Finnish author who did some genre novels including Osiriksen Sormus and Viiden minuutin ikuisuu which were both time travel affairs, and whose long running newspaper reporter Kid Barrow series has been favorably compared to Tintin. (Died 1969.)
- Born March 5, 1936 — Dean Stockwell. I remember him best as Admiral Al Calavicci, the hologram that advised Sam Beckett on Quantum Leap. Other genre roles included being in The Dunwich Horror as Wilbur Whateley, in The Time Guardian as simply Boss, Doctor Wellington Yueh In Dune, a role I had completely forgotten, and voiced Tim Drake in the excellent Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Series work beyond Quantum Leap includes Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Mission: Impossible, Night Gallery, Quinn Martin’s Tales of the Unexpected (pay attention class, this has showed up before), Star Trek: Enterprise, Battlestar Galactica and Stargate SG-1. (Died 2021.)
- Born March 5, 1942 — Mike Resnick. It’s worth noting that he’s has been nominated for 37 Hugo Awards which is a record for writers and won five times. Somewhat ironically nothing I’ve really enjoyed by him has won those Hugos. The novels making my list are Stalking the Unicorn, The Red Tape War (with Jack L. Chalker & George Alec Effinger), Stalking the Dragon and, yes, it’s not genre, Cat on a Cold Tin Roof. (Died 2020.)
- Born March 5, 1952 — Robin Hobb, 71. Whose full legal name is the lovely Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden hence the source of Megan Lindholm, the other of her two pen names. I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read and enjoyed by her was Wizard of the Pigeons, but The Gypsy with Steven Brust which is now available from the usual suspects was equally enjoyable and had the added bonus of a Boiled in Lead soundtrack. Really it does and Jane Yolen financed it.
- Born March 5, 1955 — Penn Jillette, 68. Performed on Babylon 5 in the episode scripted by Neil Gaiman titled “Day of The Dead” as part of Penn & Teller who portrayed comedians Rebo and Zooty. It’s one of my favorite episodes of the series.
- Born March 5, 1959 — Howard V. Hendrix, 64. Empty Cities of the Full Moon is damn impressive as the Labyrinth Key duology. He’s done an amazing amount of quite excellent short fiction, the latest collection being The Girls With Kaleidoscope Eyes: Analog Stories for a Digital Age.
- Born March 5, 1986 — Sarah J. Maas, 37. Author of the Throne of Glass YA series wherein Cinderella is stone cold assassin, and one I‘ve not sampled yet. (She pitched it to the publisher as “What if Cinderella was not a servant, but an assassin? And what if she didn’t attend the ball to meet the prince, but to kill him, instead?”) If you’re so inclined, there’s A Court of Thorns and Roses Coloring Book. Really. Truly, there is.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Baldo discovers plenty about his dad’s old reading habits.
- Sally Forth remembers the challenges of doing STEM homework.
(9) NUMBER NINE. NUMBER NINE. Variety says filming of the ninth film in the Alien franchise begins this week: “New ‘Alien’ Movie Starts Filming in March, Reveals Cryptic Synopsis and Full Cast”.
20th Century Studios has announced new plot details, cast additions and production status for the latest “Alien” film.
While the premise for the yet-to-be-titled movie has been kept under wraps, the studio did reveal that the film will follow “a group of young people on a distant world, who find themselves in a confrontation with the most terrifying life form in the universe.”
Those who will be faced with the terrifying forms are David Jonsson (“Industry”), Archie Renaux (“Shadow and Bone”), Isabela Merced (“Rosaline”), Spike Fearn (“The Batman”) and Aileen Wu (“Away from Home”), all of whom will join the previously announced lead, Cailee Spaeny (“Mare of Easttown”).
In addition to the cast announcement, 20th Century Studios announced that the ninth film in the franchise will begin production on March 9 in Budapest….
(10) IN CASE YOU WONDERED. The San Francisco Standard reports “The First Woman To Draw Wonder Woman Is Alive and Well in SF”. That’s Trina Robbins, and SF is San Francisco.
Cartoonist and author Trina Robbins—the first woman to draw Wonder Woman—began reading at the age of 4. But she began drawing even earlier.
“It was as soon as I could hold a crayon in my chubby hands,” Robbins told The Standard.
Today, at age 84, she’s hard at work on a pro-choice benefit anthology.
Robbins grew up poor and Jewish in Queens, where she longed for a Christmas tree and worshiped her older sister. Her parents showered her with love and never questioned her passion….
…It was 1986 when the fateful call came—DC Comics asked Robbins to draw Wonder Woman, her first foray into mainstream comics. She drew, but didn’t write, four issues. She later regretted not asking to tell the story, too.
“I would have written it differently,” she said. “Wonder Woman doesn’t do that. She’s an Amazon.”…
(11) FIRST GIL, THEN SHIVA. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A researcher whose career has included working on bionic limbs for amputees is now talking about working toward a third arm for those whose natural two are working just fine. Maybe a mechanic needs to simultaneously wield two tools while also angling a worklight just right to see what they’re doing. Or a doctor, with a suture needle, clamp, and sponge all under their control. Or perhaps a regular person who needs to carry groceries in both hands while still being able to open the door. “Why Having a Robotic Third Arm Is Closer Than You Think” at The Daily Beast.
…For obvious reasons, though, much of the research focus around robotic limbs has been about prosthetics for amputees and other folks who have lost their limbs. These devices have helped give mobility, motor function, and sensory ability back to these people—which is undoubtedly a wonderful thing. However, there’s a growing contingent of researchers who want to democratize robo-limbs and give them to folks even if they have their appendages intact.
Silvestro Micera, a neuroengineer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, is one such scientist. Much of his research has been dedicated to creating bionic limbs for amputees. In fact, he was one of the pioneers in the development of robotic limbs with sensory feedback—having created a bionic arm that allowed an amputee to “feel” what it touched using electrodes implanted into the patient’s major nerves in 2013….
…Think about the times when you literally had your hands full and you needed to do things like pick up objects or open a door. A third arm could assist with all those actions and more.
Interestingly, Micera suggests going beyond just a third arm—and giving people the chance to wield even more robotic limbs. That’s right: this might result in a kind of wearable, robotic octopus suit a la Doc Ock in Spider-Man. Like the comic book villain, the limbs would allow for even more mobility, versatility, and motor function….
(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George brings us“Ant-Man and the Wasp Pitch Meeting – Revisited!”
Step back into the pitch meeting and revisit the completely factual accurate conversation that led to Ant-Man and the Wasp! Complete with commentary from Ryan George who is now several years older!
Ant-Man and the Wasp is Marvel’s first film to come out after the insanity that was Avengers: Infinity War just a few months ago. Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena and Michael Douglas provide us with some pretty hilarious moments and action scenes in this sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man… just don’t think about it too much. The quantum realm is the latest plot tool that Marvel is throwing our way after the magical Vibranium in Black Panther and the millions of timelines in Infinity War. How did this movie come to be exactly? Step inside the pitch meeting that started it all. It’s super easy, barely an inconvenience.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Murray Moore, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
First? First. Be darned. I read The Calculating Stars today. I’m not going to bother finishing the other book I checked out from the library. I am getting The Fated Sky.
Thanks for the Title credit.
(7) Stockwell had a memorable guest appearance on Nowhere Man – a genre series from the 90s that I was fond of.
(5) After he died, I found myself working with someone who’d actually known Schultz. That led the thought that maybe I shouldn’t simply have stopped reading in annoyance, but bought out of those things people who play American football use to hold the ball to kick it, and send it to Schultz.
(11) I need to take out the trash. Wait while I put on my coat of arms….
(11) I see that you didn’t give in to the temptation to use the obvious heading.
Jeff Jones: How unlike me! Maybe I didn’t think of it?
(4) I remember being annoyed that a teenage girl wearing purple finger polish was portrayed as way out there in one of R. L. Stine’s Fear Street books. (At the time, it was more “out there.”) But I’m not crazy about changing that sort of thing.
(7a) Robin Hobb! Bounce bounce bounce! (I finally listened to reason and started reading the Farseer books.)
(7b) For some reason, I have the A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR) Coloring Book. But at least I didn’t buy the controversial ACOTAR soap that was in a subscription box a few years back… 😉
(11) Every caregiver of small children should be able to get a third limb at least until kindergarten.
SarahA: what, to match the third eye, the one in the back of the head that parents have?
7) A very early role for Dean Stockwell: Nick Charles, Jr., in 1947’s Song of the Thin Man. Which I guess isn’t genre unless you assume that both Nick and Nora Charles had some kind of cybernetic liver transplants to allow them to drink as much as they did in the films. And it looks like he was in two separate Dunwich Horrors — Wilbur Whately in the 1970 film, and Dr. Armitage in a 2008 made-for-TV movie that sounds like it’s even worse than you’d expect.
7) Just about Stockwell’s last role as a child actor was as the title and lead character in The Boy with Green Hair, an anti-war fantasy/allegory which was a box-office flop, however well-intentioned.
I think it’s fair to assume that Nick & Nora Charles did have cybernetic liver transplants.
@Mike Glyer: I thought you thought of everything!
@Jeff Jones: It’s not obvious to me either. Enlighten us?
@David Goldfarb: On the one hand, I should comply, but on the other hand, maybe not. But on the gripping hand….
Jeff Jones: Ah. A different Niven reference than mine. Your reach exceeded my grasp…
(9) Soooooo boooooooring. What about some new ideas when making movies?
From that NYT article about the Dahl fracas. The columnist says:
I find myself very troubled by the idea of “cultural responsibility” in this context. If you adulterate a Caravaggio painting, you ruin the original because it stops existing (unless the damage is such that a dedicated art restorer can undo it, which is sometimes possible but sometimes not.) This isn’t true of written works. As is plainly obvious from every single text the columnist cites, the original works still exist, and furthermore, are easily available these days to anyone who prefers them. I find it very hard to stomach the notion that (to steal an example from another Filer the last time this topic was raised) we have a “cultural responsibility” to keep Agatha Christie’s original title for “And Then There Were None” because to not have the original title blaring off of library shelves is somehow a loss to our culture. Yet, at the same time, removing the N-word from, say, “Huckleberry Finn”, would give me GREAT pause, due to its very distinct and intentional purpose in the book’s narrative. Then on the gripping hand, I can absolutely envision a situation where, as a parent, I might want my kids to read Twain because he’s amazing, but I might absolutely recoil all the way into a neighboring state at the idea of a young reader consuming THAT MANY instances of the N-word in one written work.
There is something to be said for maintaining an accurate historical record of such changes, not the least because it makes for fascinating historical excavations of evolving social standards, but there is also a lot to be said for not carrying forward the hatreds and prejudices of the past. Lucky for us, our current ability to store crazy amounts of text digitally puts us in a “Pour que no los dos?” situation — we can have a version of Huck suitable for a ten year old if that’s what we want our preteen kids to have, while keeping the historical version for the future sixteen (or sixty) year old to read, enjoy, and ruminate upon.
To use a much more recent example: In the Vorkosigan books, Lois Bujold included a character who is a functional hermaphrodite, Bel Thorne. Bel’s a great character, but at the time of their first appearance there wasn’t any generally accepted term in English for a person of non-binary gender, so Lois went with “it” as Bel’s preferred pronoun. That is now considered very dehumanizing and unacceptable terminology, and I would have no problem whatsoever with Lois or, once she passes, her heirs or publishers, going back and changing all of Bel’s pronouns. I don’t think that counts as undermining a “cultural legacy” or as “Bowdlerization” of Bujold’s work.
A perhaps slightly (slightly!) stronger case might be made for Podkayne of Mars, a book I first read at age 11 because it came packaged with a boxed set of Heinlein’s juveniles. That boxed set, and the accompanying boxed set of the original Earthsea trilogy, made me an SFF fan. In my version of Podkayne, Poddy lived at the end. I was massively confused the first time a conversation right here in the File indicated that no, Poddy died. What happened??? WHO KILLED PODKAYNE?? Well, Heinlein’s original version had Poddy dying, but someone (I dunno who and I’m not going to stop and look it up) decided that ending was too harsh for a kids’ book, and required it to be changed in the next edition. I don’t find any of this enraging, just interesting! Poddy was clearly one of the weaker of Heinlein’s juveniles and I recognized that even at age 11, but nevertheless, the discussion of whether or not the story is “better” or “stronger” with a living or deceased Poddy is a fascinating one to have, not something to be gnashing teeth and rending clothes over. Is the existence of Schrödinger’s Podkayne an insult to a cultural legacy? Or just a curiosity of the publishing profession and the life of a writer and the way writers and readers and publishers interact with texts?
It can be. A newly published version can easily saturate the market and render previous versions difficult or even impossible to find. Certainly for anyone buying a book off a shelf or downloading an ebook. Want the original 1964 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory instead of the 1973 revision? You’ll have to deliberately seek it out, because no one’s publishing it anymore. And for books that are not so famous or popular, even seeking out an original version might net you nothing.
11) Cool, just the thing to improve my ski-boxing…
Under a previous system it would have fallen out of copyright no later than 1992 and this would be a more easily solved problem.
Paddy lived in the first published edition – his editor insisted as a condition for publication (just as that same editor insisted on changes to Red Planet and others of the juveniles.
The Broken Sword was revised between the 1954 hardback and the later (1971) edition. I think most of the changes involved the archaic language in the original. Some readers (like Michael Moorcock) adored the original and didn’t like the changes.
@Anne Marble: Revisions to The Broken Sword included changing Satan to Odin in order to fit the mythos of the book. There were also many word substitutions and trimmings of phrases, as detailed in this article:
Anne Marble says The Broken Sword was revised between the 1954 hardback and the later (1971) edition. I think most of the changes involved the archaic language in the original. Some readers (like Michael Moorcock) adored the original and didn’t like the changes.
So instigated the changes? Poul, or his editor?
I’ve only read the revised edition which I think reads quite nicely.
Poul initiated the changes because he wasn’t happy with the original, written by his much younger self. He explained that in an introductory essay to a revised edition.
Only to some extent? This assumes someone has the wherewithal to find and disseminate the original. If it still exists.
Christopher Kovacs says Poul initiated the changes because he wasn’t happy with the original, written by his much younger self. He explained that in an introductory essay to a revised edition.
An author of course has an absolute right to revise their work.
“The Boy with Green Hair” came out in 1948, shortly after World War II ended. Everyone was sick and tired of war.
While the movie didn’t do well at the box office (as was also the case with “Fantasia,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” “Citizen Kane,” and “Blade Runner,” among others), it was a wonderful fantasy film, from a child’s point of view. It has a following, and is well worth seeing.
It’s a parable about war and its effects on children, as well as a child’s eye view of prejudice. I highly recommend it.
(4) Sky’s source for their article was The Times of London, which said that Stine was making the edits on Mar 3.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/f17e161c-b9b9-11ed-89e2-a4c715f4739d?shareToken=561c05f23ceb8a8a8c6fdec3890989dc (may be behind a paywall)
Now The Times is reporting that the edits are being made without Stine’s permission.
Follow-up Times article:
(sorry for the multiple posts – HTML is messing with me today)
I first saw “The Boy with Green Hair” back in the ’50s or ’60s on black and white TV, not really the ideal way to watch that film!