(1) FAKE REVIEWS FOR CHARITY. For Red Nose Day, March 24, 2017, “Pay a fiver to Comic Relief and TQF will review your book. (But we won’t read it.)”.
The Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction team have written for the most respectable reviewing publications in the world, including Interzone! Black Static! The BFS Journal! And the Reading University student newspaper! But on Friday, 24 March 2017, for one day only, they will cast aside their scruples and review books they’ve never read, all in aid of Comic Relief.
For authors and publishers, big and small, this will be a great way to publicise your books while supporting a good cause. And maybe it’ll help people to recognise fake reviews when they see them. The book doesn’t have to be yours. You could order a review for a friend’s book. Or your favourite novel. Or your least favourite. Or buy several reviews. Anything you like!
We are taking bookings in advance. Once you have made a donation of five pounds, email us with the cover and blurb, or just include an Amazon link to the book in your message when making the donation, and we’ll book you in.
(2) GRUMPY OR DOC? The Guardian’s Zoe Williams asks “Beauty and the Beast: Feminist or Fraud?”
Has Disney really turned Beauty and the Beast into a feminist fairytale? Or is it all just posh frocks and women’s work with a slice of Stockholm syndrome thrown in? We delve beneath the furry facade
1) Incomplete subversion of the genre
The main – indeed the only – stated piece of feminism is that Belle has a job, so escapes the passivity and helplessness that has defined heroines since Disney and beyond. Eagle eyed feminist-checkers noted even before the film’s release that Belle’s inventing is unpaid – so it’s not a job, it’s a hobby. I don’t mind that. The future of work is automation, and even feminists will have to get used to finding a purpose outside the world of money.
I do, however, feel bound to point out that Belle’s invention is a washing machine, a contraption she rigs up to a horse, to do her domestic work while she teaches another, miniature feminist how to read. The underlying message baked into this pie is that laundry is women’s work, which the superbly clever woman will delegate to a horse while she spreads literacy. It would be better if she had used her considerable intellect to question why she had to wash anything at all, while her father did nothing more useful than mend clocks. It’s unclear to me why anyone in this small family needs to know the time.
(3) WHAT IF THEY THROW ROCKS? Eavesdrop on the “Confessions of an asteroid hunter” in The Guardian.
Space physicist Dr Carrie Nugent talks about the chances of Earth being hit by a giant asteroid – and why she owes her job to a Bruce Willis movie
The New Scientist reported research that speculated that millions could die if an asteroid came down over a city. Or that a tsunami would kill 50,000 people in Rio de Janeiro if it landed in the sea off the coast of Brazil. How likely is that? An asteroid impact in the worst-case scenario is a terrifying thing. It seems very uncontrollable: in popular culture it’s often a metaphor for human powerlessness over the world. But when you actually look at the problem and you look at statistics, you realise that we can find asteroids, and we can predict where they are going incredibly accurately. That’s kind of unique for something that’s a natural disaster. And, if we had enough warning time, we could actually move one away. It’s a solvable problem.
And these include firing a nuclear missile at the asteroid? Certainly. I interviewed Lindley Johnson who’s got the coolest title in the world: planetary defence officer. He makes the point that nuclear is something that’s being considered, but he also says that it’s a last resort. One thing I found surprising is that the most effective thing might just be to get out of the way. If it’s a small asteroid – and depending on where it’s going to come down – you might just want to evacuate. In the same way you would deal with a flood.
(4) IT’S ACCURACY IN JOURNALISM. This past week George R.R. Martin and the Mayor Santa Fe helped launch The Stagecoach Foundation, whose assets include a small office building. Martin wrote immediately after the launch —
Stagecoach will be a non-profit foundation. Our dream is to bring more jobs to the people of Santa Fe, and to help train the young people of the city for careers in the entertainment industry, through internships, mentoring, and education.
Apparently news reports got significant facts wrong, even the nearest big city paper. When when he saw the news reports, GRRM wrote a list of corrections:
— the Stagecoach building is not 30,000 square feet. Someone pulled that number out of their ass, and dozens of other reports have repeated it. That’s a rough approximate figure for MEOW WOLF, an entirely different place on the other side of Santa Fe. The Stagecoach building is perhaps a third that size,
— I did not “build” Stagecoach. David Weininger did that in 1999, as the headquarters for his compnay, Daylight Chemical Information Systems,
— I am not “opening a film studio.” Stagecoach is a non-profit foundation dedicated to bringing more film and television production to Santa Fe, it is not a film studio,
— there are no sound stages at Stagecoach (though there are several here in town, at the Santa Fe Studios and the Greer Garson Studios). It’s an office building, and will be used primarily for pre- and post-production purposes,
— I am not going to be “running” a foundation, much less a studio. That task I’ve given to a dynamic young lady named Marisa X. Jiminez, who helped open Santa Fe Studios here in town, and who will have total charge of the day-to-day operations of Stagecoach, under a board of directors.
(5) OVER THE TRANSOM. Compelling Science Fiction editor Joe Stech says they’re once again open for submissions. He’s looking for stories to include in issue 7 (and beyond). The submissions window will remain open until 11:59pm MDT on June 1st, 2017. Full details on the submissions page.
(6) MONTAIGNE OBIT. An actor who appeared in two original Star Trek episodes, Lawrence Montaigne (1931-2017) has died.
StarTrek.com is saddened to report the passing of Lawrence Montaigne, the veteran actor who played the Romulan, Decius, in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Balance of Terror” in 1966 and returned a year later to portray Stonn, a Vulcan, in “Amok Time.” The actor died on Friday, March 17, at the age of 86.
(7) BERRY OBIT. Famed guitarist Chuck Berry (ob-sf — he was referenced Back to the Future) died March 18. The Guardian has the best obit says Cat Eldridge.
Chuck Berry, who has died aged 90, was rock’n’roll’s first guitar hero and poet. Never wild, but always savvy, Berry helped define the music. His material fused insistent tunes with highly distinctive lyrics that celebrated with deft wit and loving detail the glories of 1950s US teen consumerism.
His first single, Maybellene, began life as “country music”, by which Berry meant country blues, but was revamped on the great postwar Chicago label Chess in 1955. It was not only rock’n’roll but the perfect indicator of just what riches its singer-songwriter would bring to the form. Starting with a race between a Cadillac and a Ford, told from the Ford-owner’s, and therefore the underdog’s, viewpoint, this immeasurably influential debut record featured one of the most famous opening verses in popular music: “As I was motorvatin’ over the hill / I saw Maybellene in a Coupe de Ville …”
Berry’s recording of “Johnny B. Goode” was included on the disk attached to Voyager, per a birthday letter sent from Carl Sagan.
(8) WRIGHTSON OBIT. Swamp Thing co-creator Bernie Wrightson (1948-2017) died March 18 of brain cancer. He was 68.
Wrightson was best known for co-creating the DC Universe character Swamp Thing with writer Len Wein and for illustrating the Swamp Thing comic in the early ’70s. His many other projects included a comic book version of the 1982 Stephen King-penned anthology horror film Creepshow and a 1983 edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, for which he spent seven years creating around 50 illustrations. Wrightson also worked as a conceptual artist on a number of films including the original Ghostbusters, Galaxy Quest, and Creepshow director George A. Romero’s zombie movie Land of the Dead.
(9) TODAY’S DAY
History of International Read To Me Day International Read To Me day was established by the Child Writes Foundation to encourage the growth and spread of adult literacy. It became clear that in countries throughout the world adult literacy is a problem, and many adults simply lack the ability to read even for pleasure. When trying to find ways to help offset this, it became apparent that being read to as a child helped to encourage literacy and a love of reading in adults. The result of these findings was obvious! A holiday needed to be established to encourage the foundations of literacy by reading to our children, and thus was born “International Read To Me Day”!
(10) PORTALS OF DISCOVERY. Will you want to read the book after you play the game? “Joycestick: The Gamification of ‘Ulysses’” on the Boston College website.
A literary critic once asserted that the characters in James Joyce’s Ulysses – the sprawling, modernist opus that has bewitched or bedeviled readers for decades – were not fictitious: Through them, Stuart Gilbert said, Joyce achieved “a coherent and integral interpretation of life.”
Now, through a project titled “Joycestick,” Boston College Joyce scholar Joseph Nugent and his team of mainly BC students have taken this “interpretation of life” to a whole other realm.
Joycestick is Ulysses adapted as an immersive, 3D virtual reality (VR) computer game – a “gamification,” in contemporary parlance. Users don a VR eyepiece and headphones and, with gaming devices, navigate and explore various scenes from the book. Nugent, an associate professor of the practice of English, and his team are continuing to develop, refine and add to Joycestick with the hope of formally unveiling it in Dublin this coming June 16 – the date in 1904 on which Ulysses takes place, now celebrated as Bloomsday in honor of the book’s main character, Leopold Bloom.
(11) CAN’T BE FOUND. The author’s influence on pop culture is pervasive. So “Where Are All the Big Lovecraft Films?” asks this video maker.
H.P. Lovecraft is one of the most important horror and science fiction writers of all time, yet there really aren’t that many large scale adaptations of his work, and even fewer successful ones. So where are all the Lovecraft films?
(12) KEEPING UP THE RAY QUOTA. Just in case Camestros Felapton ever does another count….
FATHER ELECTRICO: RAY BRADBURY LIVES FOREVER! is a documentary film based on a collaboration between the author and sculptor Christopher Slatoff.
The frontal view of the sculpture depicts a young Ray’s father carrying him home from a very long day spent at two circuses. Turn the sculpture around and the image of the Illustrated Man and his tattoos come to life and tell their stories.
The other namesake, Mr Electrico, was a carnival magician who charged 12 year-old Ray to “live forever!” The budding author begin writing that day and never stopped.
The video can’t be embedded here, it has to be watched at Vimeo.
(13) NEITHER SNOW NOR SLEET. See Ellen Datlow’s photos from the March 15 KGB Reading.
Nova Ren Suma and Kiini Ibura Salaam read their stories (and parts of stories) the day after NYC’s mini-blizzard when the temperature was still icy
(14) EMAIL ASSAULT. “Shades of Langford’s ‘basilisks’,” says Chip Hitchcock — “US man held for sending flashing tweet to epileptic writer”.
A man accused of sending a flashing image to a writer in order to trigger an epileptic seizure has been arrested, the US justice department says.
John Rayne Rivello, 29, of Maryland, sent Kurt Eichenwald an animated image with a flashing light on Twitter in December, causing the seizure.
He has been charged with criminal cyber stalking and could face a 10-year sentence, the New York Times reports.
“You deserve a seizure for your post,” he is alleged to have written.
Mr Eichenwald is known to have epilepsy. He is a senior writer at Newsweek magazine, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a best-selling author of books including The Informant.
(15) HOW THEY DID IT. The Mummy (2017) Zero Gravity Featurette goes behind the scene of a stunt shown in the trailer.
[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, and Ellen Datlow for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day lurkertype.]
Gosh! To be contributing editor of the day so soon after I’ve returned! Nice welcome back, Mike.
(1) Can’t wait to read what they say for TWBWalrus. It’d be even better if they did read it.
(14) Good. I hope he actually does some time. And I agree with @Lee: we should be able to turn off blinky shit. Even if you aren’t epileptic, it’s annoying.
(15) @Kendall, yep OK GO’s videos are always amazing and are really for real.
The Carbuncle Empire — wait, that’s Vinge’s “Snow Queen”.
Shoutout to the filer who recommended “The lost city of the monkey God” by Douglas Preston – Just finished it and great read! I remembered the news story about the discovery of T1 and its great to learn all about it (and I learned more about Leish just in time before it was featured in an iron fist episode)
@Kip W – sympathies, that sounds like an awful experience. For me, Diagonal has been fairly cozy whether driving, biking or busing; my one gripe is people who won’t go more than 60 in the 65 mph zone and are also impossible to pass, but who then tailgate the hell out of me in the 55 mph zone. It will be the same driver who does both of these things on my drive home. It makes no sense. But the route that really keeps me on high alert is Highway 7, especially since a teammate last year lost her chance to skate competitively for the season when someone simply ran through their stop sign at Quebec and plowed into her during her morning commute. She was immensely lucky to only suffer relatively easily recoverable injuries–and be back on skates in 6 months. Every time I drive Hwy 7 to Brighton, especially near that intersection, I think of it and get a little antsy. There are stupid, stupid people out there behind the wheel, and you never know when you’ll be in just the right place to meet them.
But I quite enjoy podcasts on either route. Just… maybe not one that mimics a relaxation tape. (Come to think of it, Alice Isn’t Dead was startling to listen to while driving, given that its form is that of a trucker speaking into her radio–there were moments when I mistook something on the episode for something actually on the road with me.)
Speaking of formats — @Standback, Within the Wires has been an especial treat because of its narrative structure, and the way it constantly makes me reevaluate whose story, and what kind of story, I’m getting. (For context: At this point I’ve listened through Cassette 7: Doubts, Head.)
The Confabulated Empire is actually a biography of Theodore Beale.
I’m still a bit confused, this seems like a lot of effort for a publicity stunt. Presumably someone actually wrote this (haven’t read it) and there was definitely cover art commissioned to match the Scalzi book.
All so VD could crow that his book was predictably pulled by Amazon?
There’s a comment at VDs article implying it was written by Rod Walker, who is one of VDs new authors that he’s pushing as the new Heinlein and/or the new Asimov. (Why be one classic author reborn when you can be two, I guess?)
Anyway, they seem to be treating this as something they genuinely want(ed) to sell, so they can claim they’ve out-Scalzi’d Scalzi.
Personally I think VD has forgotten his Sun Tzu.
Arifel on March 20, 2017 at 6:30 pm said:
The Corrugated Empire, on the other hand, is a bit up and down.
Coming soon from Glass Bead Publishing, Elizabeth Sorenson’s exciting sequel to The Corrugated Empire:
The War Against the Rugose
Kevin Harkness on March 20, 2017 at 8:51 pm said:
From a certain point of view, that’s The Thing on the Doorstep …
@Nicole: I agree. It’s a fascinating experiment that works very well, IMHO, and it’s very tightly done – it takes you through a complete arc, which I don’t think any of the other WTNV shows really do that way. And managing to do that in such a weird format is awesome.
(I feel like maybe SAYER also did the “relaxation tapes while you’re locked in an Institute” thing? I recall it vaguely; I didn’t get far because I found the SFX narration really annoying. But this… seems like a very, very different take than SAYER’s Alpha-Complex-ish madness.)
Kevin Harkness on March 20, 2017 at 8:51 pm said:
(And the juxtaposition of Lovecraft and Beauty and the beast makes me wish there was a mash-up of the two. With a few tweaks, it could be a truly horrifying story.)
Lose your mind, lose your mind
Your skull will be a melon rind
Open up the evil book
And ancient secrets you will find
Hidden clues, shoggoth ooze
You’ve got the Miskatonic blues
Try the fungi, they’re a lulu
Don’t believe me? Ask Cthulu
Thought and reason, you can park ’em
After all, sir, this is Arkham
Our hotel Bible’s not from Gideon
All our curves are non-Euclidean
When you’ve gouged your eyes out you’ll be glad you’re blind
Open the Necronomicon
Read a page and then what fun,
You’ll lose your mind, lose your mind, lose your mind!
@Matthew Johnson — brief moment of awed silence followed by thunderous applause …
@Matthew Johnson: Bravissimo!
bookworm1398: In the old versions and the Disney animation, Belle is not held without reason; she’s there in place of her father, who was caught trespassing. (The original makes the trespass her fault-through-modesty: her sisters want expensive presents, she just wants a rose. I don’t know whether whoever came up with this was being ironic.) And there’s not a simple Stockholm syndrome; Belle changes her opinion because the beast changes his behavior. The big difference in Disney was that Belle is a reader who doesn’t stop reading when a hunk shows up –instead she tells him to piss off; that may be Revenge of the Nerds as much as explicit feminism, but it’s not trivial.
@Meredith. “reboot” — it’s such a lovely euphemism… But you have a point, especially considering how quickly that was done with Spiderman.
@lurkertype: IIRC, it was XKCD that had “the only excuse for the HTML blink code” (Schroedinger’s cat is [dead|alive].)
@Hypnotosov: VD is an attention junkie.
@Mark: VD is pushing someone named Rod Walker? I wonder if that’s intended to be a tribute pseudonym, which would require VD to have missed that the lead in Tunnel in the Sky is neither white nor Christian.
Matthew Johnson: Awesome parody!
@Kurt I expect Len and Bernie have seen much higher royalties on the reprint volumes of their issues than they would have had the Moore/Bissette/Veitch run not created a lasting and ongoing market not only for Moore’s run but for the original run as well.
Weren’t the originals done during an era where stories were work-for-hire? (House of Secrets #92 was 1971, and the Wein/Wrightson Swamp Thing issues were all 1972-1974. When did Neal Adams start having success advocating for better creators’ rights?). One would certainly hope they were able to negotiate royalties, but DC/National certainly didn’t have a reputation for being generous about these sorts of things.
So were the Alan Moore stories, and all SWAMP THING stories that have followed.
They didn’t get reprint royalties back then. Times have changed.
But “work for hire” doesn’t mean “no further income.” Lots of stuff done work-or-hire generates ongoing payments. “Flat fee” means no further payments, but the two are not the same.
Thanks all! It was fun to write.