(1) PLAY ALONG AT HOME. Eli Grober offers these “Opening Lines Rewritten for a Pandemic” in The New Yorker.
“A Wrinkle in Time,” by Madeleine L’Engle
“It was a dark and stormy night, so we stayed inside, just like we’d done every night for the last year. In that way, it was a perfectly normal night.”
“A Tale of Two Cities,” by Charles Dickens
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. But, mostly, it was the worst of times. In fact, not once had it felt like the best of times.”
Bill sent the link with a suggestion that Filers extend the list. Here’s his contribution —
“Double Star” by Robert A. Heinlein
If a man walks in dressed like a hick and acting as if he doesn’t need to wear a mask, he’s a spaceman.
(2) FREE BOOK FROM TAFF. Creative Random Harris is now available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please. Over 276,000 words.
Chuck Harris (1927-1999) was active in fandom in the 1950s as a founding editor of the legendary fanzine Hyphen (where he wrote the “Random” column), and returned to the fannish scene in 1984. His letters, full of hilarious, scabrous and generally irresponsible anecdotes, were re-edited as the “Creative Random History” column in many issues of Pulp (1984-1989) and distributed in his own round-robin compilations Quinsy (later just Q) and Charrisma; similar columns also appeared in other fanzines.
For this ebook, Rob Hansen and David Langford have assembled a huge mass of Chuck’s articles and correspondence (some never before published). There is an introductory appreciation written in 1989 by his lifelong friend Walt Willis, a historical foreword by Rob Hansen, and various notes and explications by David Langford.
(3) RED AND OTHER COLORS PLANET. View the California Art Club’s online exhibit “Mars: An Artistic Mission”. Features work by Julie Bell, James Gurney, William Stout, Boris Vallejo and many others.
Art and science have been intertwined since the dawn of civilization. Science, and in particular space exploration, has allowed us to transcend our bodily limitations on Earth, magnifying our creativity in the process, as we are propelled into the cosmos. With Mars: An Artistic Mission, which celebrates the landing of the Mars Perseverance Rover on the Red Planet, we honor the marriage of art and science.
As you venture through these virtual galleries, you will find dazzling Mars-scapes, snapshots of rovers in operation, and ethereal portraits of life beyond our Earthly barrier.
We hope this exhibition leaves you saying “Mission Accomplished.”
(4) ANOTHER SPIN AROUND THE BLOCK. “Surprise! A Second The Suicide Squad Trailer Has Dropped” – Yahoo! leads the way:
Trailers have a fun way of changing the context of what you’re looking at. It’s truly an experiment in the Kuleshov effect, but with more music. We’re barely a week out from the bombastic, humor-fueled, classic-rock-ified first trailer for James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, which introduced us to our new favorite son, King Shark. Now, Gunn has shared a second trailer that premiered in cinemas with Godzilla vs. Kong. It’s got a completely different feel, even though it uses a lot of the same shots, moments, and lines. If we saw this one first, we might think we were getting an action drama. Maybe it’s both!
(5) MIDCOURSE MANUVERS. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction revealed forthcoming changes to hosting and sponsorship in the “Shape of Things to Come”.
October 2021 will see the tenth anniversary of the online Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, which since 2011 has been hosted by Orion and linked to the Gollancz SF Gateway ebook operation. Orion/Gollancz have now decided not to renew the contract on 1 October 2021, and we are parting amicably.
The principal Encyclopedia editors John Clute and David Langford plan to move sf-encyclopedia.com to their own web server and continue as seamlessly as possible with very much the same “look and feel”, with access exactly the same as now, though soon perhaps with a new sponsor and certainly with a few improvements that the current platform does not allow. Keep watching the skies!
John Clute’s version of the announcement ends:
…The first changes to be made, several of which David has already pre-coded, will be technically “cosmetic”, but should make the site easier to navigate. Nothing is ever signed until it’s signed, and nothing is ever certain till it bores you silly: but the reference to new sponsors is not blowing in the wind.
(6) IRISH NATCON WILL BE ONLINE. Octocon, the National Irish SF Convention, is going virtual again in 2021.
This is absolutely not an April fool’s joke.
The committee weighed up the pros and cons, and we want everyone to be able to attend our next in person convention.
Our convention family includes people from outside Ireland as well as all over the 32 counties.
Last year’s Virtual convention went so well, we are exploring bringing you all even more panels, readings, workshops, interviews, and fun activities.
(7) AWKWARD. Wil Wheaton asked Facebook readers to find him a copy of an anecdote he had published. When he happened to find his own copy he shared it with his Facebook followers. (Also at his blog.) Here’s the setup:
I first met William Shatner on the set of Star Trek V back in 1988. I was 16, and had been working on TNG for two years at the time….
For weeks, I tried to get up the nerve to introduce myself. When I would walk from the stage to my dressing room or school room, I would do it slowly, looking at their stage door, hoping to catch a glimpse of Mister Spock, or Doctor McCoy, or even the legendary Captain Kirk. The few times they did appear, though, I could never find the courage to approach them.
This went on for about six weeks.
…Why was I so intimidated? I was a 16 year-old geek, with a chance to meet The Big Three from Star Trek. You do the math.
One afternoon, while I was sitting outside stage 9 talking with Mandy, my costumer, they opened the huge stage door across the way, and I could see right into the set of Star Trek V. It was a large area, like a cargo bay, filled with extras and equipment. It was quite different from our set, but it was unmistakably The Enterprise. Standing in the middle of it all was William Shatner. He held a script open like it was a holy text. The way he gestured with his hands, I could tell that he was setting up a shot and discussing it with the camera crew.
I waited for the familiar rush of nerves, but it didn’t come. Seeing him as a director and not as Captain Kirk put me at ease. I knew that this was my moment. If I didn’t walk over and introduce myself right then, I would never do it….
(8) MEMORY LANE.
- 1981 — Forty years ago, John Carpenter’s Escape from New York premiered. (That was how it was shown on-screen.) Starring Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, this film was written by John Carpenter and Nick Castle. It was directed by John Carpenter, and produced by Larry Franco and Debra Hill. Supporting cast was Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasence, Ernest Borgnine, Isaac Hayes, Adrienne Barbeau, and Harry Dean Stanton. The film received generally positive reviews with Russell in particular finding favor with the critics; it did very well at the box office earning far more than it cost to produce; and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an excellent seventy seven percent rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born April 1, 1875 — Edgar Wallace. Creator of King Kong, he also wrote SF including Planetoid 127, one of the first parallel Earth stories, and The Green Rust, a bioterrorism novel which was made into a silent film called The Green Terror. Critics as diverse as Orwell, Sayers and Penzler have expressed their rather vehement distaste for him. Kindle has an impressive number of works available. (Died 1932.) (CE)
- Born April 1, 1911 – Augusta Braxton Baker. First black to get a Master’s degree in librarianship from Albany Teacher’s College, admitted only under pressure from Eleanor Roosevelt whose husband F.D. Roosevelt was then Governor of New York. First black librarian in an administrative position at the NY Public Library. President of Amer. Lib’y Ass’n Children’s Services Division. Chaired the Newbery and Caldecott Medals committee. First Storyteller-in-Residence at an American university (Univ. S. Carolina). Two anthologies for us, The Talking Tree and The Golden Lynx. (Died 1998) [JH]
- Born April 1, 1918 – Frank Borth. Twoscore interiors for us; also comics e.g. There Oughta Be A Law! 1970-1983 succeeding Harry Shorten, “Draw Along with FB” in Treasure Chest 1963-1972. Here is an illustration for “As Chemist to Chemist” in the Nov-Dec 78 Asimov’s. Here is Zelazny’s “Last Defender of Camelot” (Died 2009) [JH]
- Born April 1, 1926 — Anne McCaffrey. I read both the original trilogy and what’s called the Harper Hall trilogy oh so many years ago. Enjoyed them immensely but haven’t revisted them so I don’t know what the Suck Fairy would make of them. And I confess that I had no idea she’d written so much other genre fiction! (Died 2011.) (CE)
- Born April 1, 1942 — Samuel R. Delany, 79. There’s no short list of recommended works for him as everything he’s done is brilliant. That said I think I’d start off suggesting a reading first of Babel- 17 (one of his four Nebula winners) and Dhalgren followed by the Return to Nevèrÿon series. I’m reasonably sure that his only Hugo-winning fiction was in the Short Story category at Heicon (1970) for “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” as published in New Worlds, December 1968. He won another Hugo for Best Nonfiction Book with The Motion of Light In Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village 1957-1965 at Noreascon Three (1989). (CE)
- Born April 1, 1950 – Randy Bathurst. Active in the Detroit area during the 1970s, particularly with fanart. Fan Guest of Honor at Marcon XI. Here he is in the Masquerade costume competition at Torcon II the 31st Worldcon (hello,Tim Kirk). He’s in the first issue of File 770;see here (PDF; scroll down to p. 8). See his Ten of Cups in Bruce Pelz’ Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck here (PDF of the deck starts with BP’s introduction, then Cups). Here is Our Gracious Host’s report of his death. (Died 2009) [JH]
- Born April 1, 1953 — Barry Sonnenfeld, 68. Director of The Addams Family and its sequel Addams Family Values (both of which I really like), and the Men in Black trilogy (well one out of three ain’t bad). He also executive produced Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events which I’ve not seen, and did the same for Men in Black: International, the recent continuation of that franchise. (CE)
- Born April 1, 1960 — Michael Praed, 61. Robin of Loxley on Robin of Sherwood which no doubt is one of the finest genre series ever done of a fantasy nature. He also played Phileas Fogg on The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne, an amazing series that never got released on DVD. It has spawned a lively fanfic following since it was cancelled with names such as Spicy Airship Stories. (CE)
- Born April 1, 1963 — James Robinson, 58. Writer, both comics and film. Some of his best known comics are the series centered on the Justice Society of America, in particular the Starman character he co-created with Tony Harris. His Starman series is without doubt some of the finest work ever done in the comics field. His screenwriting is a mixed bag. Remember The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Well that’s him. He’s much, much better on the animated Son of Batman film. (CE)
- Born April 1, 1966 – Janette Rallison, age 55. A dozen novels, one novelette for us (some under another name); a score of other novels and books of shorter stories. Has read My Double Life (memoirs of Sarah Bernhardt), Babbitt, A Tale of Two Cities, two by Jane Austen, The Brothers Karamazov, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. “If your teacher asks you to identify symbolism in my books, you have my permission to tell him/her that I didn’t put any in.” Website. [JH]
- Born Aril 1, 1974 – Diane Awerbuck, age 47. Two novels for us (with Alex Latimer, as Frank Owen), a score of shorter stories. Outside our field, Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, Short Story Day Africa prize. Geoff Ryman’s interview with her for Strange Horizons (and excerpt from AR’s Home Remedies) here. [JH]
- Born April 1, 1991 – Kat Zhang, age 30. Four novels for us. Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year. First book sold at age 19. Outside our field, in The Emperor’s Riddle a Chinese-American girl and her brother visiting China tangle with legends of the Chian-wen Emperor (Ming Dynasty; disappeared 1402). [JH]
(10) A FAN’S HOUSE. This post from Porch.com advises you how to “Turn Any Space at Home into Your Favorite Fandom”. It exists to drive business to home improvement professionals, however, its commercial orientation didn’t keep me from enjoying the article — maybe you will, too.
First, assess your space.
When it comes to Fandom decor, you can draw inspiration from your favorite films, books, video games, or any other cultural sources that strike your fancy. You can transform a nook beneath your stairs into Harry Potter’s hidden chamber or your bedroom into Maleficent’s boudoir of enchantment. The key is to choose a theme that resonates with your interests so that it will delight you each time you visit the space.
Of course, before you head out to shop for a Lego Death Star for your Star Wars-themed room or a life-size Pikachu for your Pokemon personal den, you’ll need to assess your space carefully. Keep its measurements handy so that you don’t have to estimate sizing considerations while you’re shopping for items like draperies, carpets, furnishings, and decorative items. Be sure you note the dimensions of windows, walls, and the floor.
(11) NOT LIKE OLD TIMES. Diamond Bay Radio did a podcast on time and space in Russian speculative fiction of the 1920s. In this interview, Mlex spoke with Reed Johnson, of Bowdoin College, about the life and works of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, and his time travel story, “Memories of the Future”.
“Half eaten away by rust, its letters said: WHOLESALE SUPPLIERS OF UTOPIA SINCE… The year had been obliterated by time.”
(12) RAMPING UP TO THE VIRTUAL EASTERCON. Episode 28 of the Octothorpe podcast is now available: “Literally the Best Thing You’ve Ever Said About Me”.
John Coxon is communicating, Alison Scott’s head is spinning, and Liz Batty is a programme operator. We discuss all the things about Eastercon that we’re excited about (which takes a while!) and then discuss future Eastercons, briefly talk about staying Seder in the apocalypse, and then talk about breakfast.
(13) HANDMAID’S TALE. In The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 trailer, June Osborne becomes Public Enemy No. 1 says Yahoo!
June Osborne wants justice and it looks like the country of Gilead is prepping for an all-out war. Hulu has released the first full trailer for the fourth season of the popular Emmy-winning series, and the wait to learn more is coming to an end with the show’s return on April 28.
(14) GENTLEMEN, BE SEATED (TWICE). David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss look at Australian literature, ranging from a book about bushrangers written in serial form in 1882 to modern science fiction in Episode 49 of Two Chairs Talking.
(15) WHEN THE HUGOS ARE DEAD, WILL YOU BE INVITED TO THE FUNERAL? Here’s someone who thinks that’s only minutes away – Richard Paolinelli – who’s such a lazy ass his post runs under a photo copied from File 770. (*) “The Sad Demise Of The Hugos And The Nebulas” [Internet Archive link].
…Instead, they embarked on the “Wokian Way”, disregarded great works, and embraced lesser material based on the creators’ sex and race rather than on the quality of the works themselves. Any creator deemed unworthy, 99.9% white males oddly enough, was run out of each organization and their works blacklisted from consideration. Predictably, with each passing year the Hugos and the Nebulas have become less popular, as shown by the declining number in participating voters.
The Dragon Awards, open to all who enjoy SF/F around the world and free to participate in – unlike the Hugos and Nebulas – are thriving….
Of course they’re thriving — because the Dragons are moving toward the mainstream – John Scalzi’s The Last Emperox won in 2020 – something the Sad Puppies who monopolized the awards in their first year tried to ignore: “Reaction to 2020 Dragon Awards Winners”.
(*) It’s Fran Wilde’s photo from Twitter, but bears the file name the image was given in the media library here.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mind Matters introduces DUST’s short film “The Big Nothing”:
When the captain of an isolated mining station near Saturn is murdered, Detective Lennox is sent to investigate the three remaining crew members. Centered around a series of interrogations and flashback, Lennox discovers that everyone has a motive to kill. With otherworldly threats approaching and the killer amongst them, will everybody make it off the station?
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Mlex, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, James Bacon, David Langford, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Bill, John Hertz, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]