(1) AMAZING STORIES ON HIATUS. Steve Davidson’s Amazing Stories issued a press release announcing that “A major licensing agreement using the Amazing Stories name has been terminated owing to non-payment.” As a result, the magazine won’t be coming out. (The website will remain active.)
… Due to the failure to pay and due to the many other costs directly related to this contract, Experimenter Publisher is currently no longer able to maintain the publishing schedule of Amazing Stories magazine, and that publication has been placed in hiatus pending the resolution of these issues…
The licensee is not named, although curiously the press release criticizes another company, Disney, by name. (Disney isn’t the licensee. And you don’t need to tell me in comments who you think it is – I know who it is. The point is this press release announces litigation yet refuses to speak the target’s name out loud.)
The Amazing Stories’ Patreon page is slightly more forthcoming than the press release.
We licensed a major corporation several years ago and factored licensing fees into our budget. Unfortunately, those fees have not been received, which places us behind the 8-ball.
Our licensee has been formally notified of numerous breeches of our contract and our intention to terminate that contract. Service was sent to the contractually designated addresses and we have received no response, not even an acknowledgement of our notice to them.
This strongly suggests that they are planning on waiting to see what we are going to do and then will use their enormous budget and other assets to continue to ignore the fact that they no longer have the rights to use the name, or, perhaps even more problematic, sue us in order to remove us from the picture.
We can not afford to defend ourselves from such an unjustified action at this point in time. Further, the current state of limbo discourages any other studio from working with the property, preventing us from developing other potential revenue sources.
Perhaps “encouraging” us to go away was the plan all along – but given the lack of communication, we doubt we’ll ever know the real reasons behind why they have chosen not to honor their contractual obligations.
What we DO know is, fighting this fight has put us in a deep hole and if the licensee decides to fight (likely), we’ll be in an even deeper hole.
We need your help to keep this dream alive.
(2) VANDERMEER’S LATEST. Paul Di Filippo reviews “’Hummingbird Salamander,’ by Jeff VanderMeer for the Washington Post.
… Now from this daring and ever-shifting author comes “Hummingbird Salamander,” a volume more naturalistic, more like a traditional thriller than its predecessors, but one that also features hooks into the literary novel of paranoid conspiracy, a genre best exemplified by Thomas Pynchon’s “The Crying of Lot 49.” In fact, our doughty and frankly terrifying heroine, “Jane Smith,” might be the Oedipa Maas the 21st century needs.
(3) THAT DIDN’T TAKE LONG. Joel Hodgson is running a Kickstarter — “Let’s Make More MST3K & Build THE GIZMOPLEX!” Did people think that was a good idea? Yes! In the first 24 hours they’ve raised $2,162,492 of their $2,000,000 goal. The reasons for returning to crowdfunding the series include —
In the not-too-distant past – about 6 years ago, November 2015 AD – we ran a Kickstarter to BRING BACK MST3K after 15 years in hibernation.
It was a little bit stressful, and a lot of work, but I’ve gotta tell you… the whole experience went better than we had ever hoped:
- Thanks to you, our campaign broke a bunch of Kickstarter records.
- Over 48,000 of you took up the cause… and together, we raised over $6 million.
- With your help, we got picked up on Netflix and made 20 new episodes!
And you know, you can’t ever please everybody, but it seems like most of you were pretty happy with ’em…. and the critics were too:
Also, having those new episodes on Netflix, along with a lot of our “classic” episodes, helped a lot of folks discover Mystery Science Theater for the first time. So, if you weren’t there to help #BringBackMST3K… Welcome! We’re glad you’re here to help #MakeMoreMST3K.
…Anyway: as you know, nothing good lasts forever. Sometime in late 2019, during our third live tour, we got word: even though Netflix liked how our new episodes came out, they wouldn’t be renewing us for a third new season….
2. It’s time to try something new.
- If enough of you want more MST3K, maybe we don’t need anyone to renew us.
- From now on, we want you to decide how long MST3K keeps going.
- We don’t need a network to “let us” make more MST3K. We can make it for you.
- When we do, you should be the first ones to see it.
(4) A LAND OF MARVELS. “Avengers Campus at Disneyland Resort Set to Open and Recruit Super Heroes June 4” – Disney Parks Blog has a preview.
Super Heroes Assemble! As we’ve all been anticipating, I’m pleased to share that Avengers Campus – an entirely new land dedicated to discovering, recruiting and training the next generation of Super Heroes – will open June 4, 2021 at the Disneyland Resort!
…The first key area is the Worldwide Engineering Brigade – also known as WEB. It brings together bright innovators like Peter Parker who have been assembled by Tony Stark to invent new technologies and equip everyday people to become Super Heroes like the Avengers. WEB will house the new WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, the first Disney ride-through attraction to feature the iconic friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!
We previously shared that Tom Holland will reprise his role as Spider-Man in the new family-friendly attraction, which invites you to put your web-slinging skills to the test and experience what it’s like to have powers alongside Spider-Man – a feat accomplished with innovative technology adapted specifically for this attraction, perfect for up-and-coming recruits of all ages.
The second anchor attraction looms high above the land, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!, a fan-favorite that opened in 2017….
(5) FEARS FOR WHAT AILS YOU. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In“Scary Times Call for Scary Reads” on CrimeReads, Jennifer MacMahon says that scary books are what you should be reading during the pandemic.
Recently, I was talking with a friend who was excited to hear I had a new book coming out soon. “But is it scary?” she asked apprehensively. I told her a little about it: a woman returns to her old family home after her sister drowns in the spring fed pool—oh, and the pool is rumored to be bottomless and her sister believed there was something lurking in the water. So yeah, it’s a little creepy. My friend apologized and said that she just couldn’t read unsettling books because of how unsettling the world is right now. I would argue (and did!) that that is exactly when we need these books the most; they take us to dark places and help us explore our fears from the relative safety of our favorite reading spot…
(6) DON’T ASK. “Yahoo Answers, a Haven for the Confused, Is Shutting Down” reports the New York Times.
At times on Yahoo Answers, the people asking questions of strangers lunged for the hallucinatory limits of human curiosity: What would a heaven for elephants be like? Should scientists give octopi bones?
It helped people identify their sense of self: Why do people with baguettes think they are better than me? Is being popular in high school a good skill I can use in a job interview?
It sought explanations for the unexplainable: Smoke coming from my belly button? Why is everything at my grandma’s house moist?
And it gave air to gaps in knowledge and admissions that perhaps had nowhere else to go: What does a hug feel like?
Yahoo, which is owned by Verizon Media, will be shutting down the question-and-answer service and deleting its archives on May 4, erasing a corner of the internet that will be widely remembered for its — to be charitable — less-than-enriching contributions to human knowledge since its arrival in 2005.
Less charitably, BuzzFeed News this week called it “one of the dumbest places on the internet.” Vulture said it was “populated entirely with Batman villains, aliens pretending to be human, and that one weird neighbor you’d rather climb down your fire escape in a blizzard than get caught in a conversation with.”
There is plenty of evidence for that position. People asked: Can you milk Gushers to make fruit juice? Can I cook raw chicken in the Michael wave? I forgot when my job interview is? What animal is Sonic the hedgehog? IS THIS YAHOO EMAIL SUPPORT?
Most famously, in a question that launched a meme, a confused soul who had learned little about reproductive science or spelling asked: How is babby formed?
It was never known how many of the questions were based in earnest ignorance and curiosity, and how much was intentional trolling. Answering required no expertise, and often displayed little of it.
But the site clearly was seen by some people, including children, as a comfortable space to ask the questions — sometimes important ones — they’d never dare to ask friends, families and teachers….
(7) ZOOMING INTO FANHISTORY. [Item by Joe Siclari.] The Fanac Fan History Project has three more Zoom Programs coming up over the next two months.
April 17, Saturday – 2pm EDT, 11AM PDT, 7PM London – Early Star Trek Fandom, with Ruth Berman and Devra Langsam. Stories and anecdotes from Ruth and Devra about their entry into fandom, about the origins of Star Trek fandom, and how they came to publish T-Negative and Spockanallia. For those of us that came into fandom later, here’s a chance to hear how Star Trek was received in general fandom, how Trek fandom got started, who the BNFs were and what they were they like. How did the first Trek fanzines and Trek conventions affect fandom, and how did Trek fandom grow and become its own thing. RSVP to [email protected].
April 27, Tuesday – 4pm EDT, 1pm PDT, 9PM London. An Interview with Erle Korshak by Joe Siclari. Erle Korshak is one of our remaining FIrst Fans (inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1996) and a Guest of Honor at Chicon 8 (2022 Worldcon). Erle was an organizer of the first Chicon, the 1940 Worldcon, and was one of the Worldcon auctioneers for many years. He started Shasta Publishers, one of the first successful specialty SF publishers. He was also involved with early SF movies. In this session, fan historian Joe Siclari will interview Erle and his son Steve about early fandom, early conventions (including Worldcons), Shasta, and both Erle and Steve’s continuing interest in illustration art. Note: this is a midweek session. RSVP to [email protected].
May 22, Saturday – 2pm EDT, 11AM PDT, 7PM London – An Interview with Bjo and John Trimble. Bjo and John Trimble have had an enormous impact on fandom from the 1950s onward. They’ve pubbed their ish, and some of the zines are available on FANAC.org. Bjo created the convention art show as we know it today (pre-pandemic) with Project Art Show, and published PAS-tell to share info with interested fans everywhere. In LASFS, Bjo had a large role in reviving a flagging LASFS in the late 50s. Her most famous contribution was the successful Save Star Trek campaign which resulted in a 3rd year of the original series. Bjo was one of the organziers of Los Angeles fandom’s film making endeavors. John is a co-founder of the LASFS clubzine, De Profundis and an editor of Shangri-L’Affaires. Bjo and John were Fan Guests of Honor at ConJose (2002), and were nominated twice for Best Fanzine Hugos. Bjo was nominated for the Best Fan Artist Hugo. In this interview, expect stories and anecdotes of Los Angeles fandom, how the art show came to be, Save Star Trek and much more. RSVP to [email protected].
(8) SPEAKING OF MATH. Although James Davis Nicoll is aTor.com blogging machine, after he ran the numbers he realized, “I still won’t hit 1000 tor essays until 2032 or 2033….” Whichever number this is, the title is: “Five SF Stories That Embrace the Scientifically Improbable Reactionless Drive”.
… The rocket equation is vexatious for SF authors for a couple of reasons: 1) It’s math. 2) It imposes enormous constraints on the sort of stories the sort of author who cares about math can tell. Drives that produce thrust without emitting mass are therefore very attractive. Small surprise that persons with an enthusiasm for space travel and a weakness for crank science leap on each iteration of the reactionless drive as it bubbles up in the zeitgeist.
One such crank was John W. Campbell, Jr., the notorious editor of Astounding/Analog (for whom a dwindling number of awards are named). Because of his position and because authors, forever addicted to luxuries like clothing, food, and shelter, wanted to sell stories to Campbell, Campbell’s love of reactionless drives like the Dean Drive created an environment in which stories featuring such drives could flourish, at Analog and elsewhere….
(9) BONANNO OBIT. Author Margaret Wander Bonanno (1950-2021) has died reports Keith R.A. DeCandido. She wrote seven Star Trek novels, several science fiction novels set in her own worlds, including The Others, a collaborative novel with Nichelle Nichols, a biography, and other works. Her novel Preternatural was a New York Times Notable Book for 1997.[
DeCandido’s tribute “Margaret Wander Bonanno, RIP” says in part:
…We remained friends over the years, and when she came back to writing Trek fiction in the 2000s, I got to work with her a few times: I served as the line editor on her Christopher Pike novel Burning Dreams, I was the continuity editor on her Lost Era novel Catalyst of Sorrows, and best of all, I commissioned her to write the conclusion to the Mere Anarchy eBook series that celebrated Trek‘s 40th anniversary in 2006. Margaret did a superb job with the conclusion of this miniseries, which was entitled Its Hour Come Round, and which included one of my favorite scenes in any work of Trek fiction, a conversation between Raya elMora (one of the recurring characters in Mere Anarchy) and Klingon Chancellor Azetbur (from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)….
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- April 8, 1887 — Hope Mirrlees. She is best known for the 1926 Lud-in-the-Mist, a fantasy novel apparently beloved by many. (I’m not one of them.) In 1970, an American reprint was published without the author’s permission, as part of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. (Died 1978.) (CE)
- Born April 8, 1907 – Vincent Napoli. Four covers, two hundred forty interiors for us; WPA (Works Progress Adm’n) muralist, e.g. this. Here is an interior for “Time and Time Again” – H. Beam Piper, Apr 47 Astounding. Here is one for “The Earth Men” – R. Bradbury, Aug 48 Thrilling Wonder Stories. Here is one for ”Dark o’ the Moon” – S. Quinn, Jul 49 Weird Tales. (Died 1981) [JH]
- Born April 8, 1912 –Ted Carnell. Fan Guest of Honor at Cinvention the 7th Worldcon, brought by the Big Pond Fund. Chaired Loncon I the 15th Worldcon. Guest of Honour at Eastercon 11. Developed a pro career, editing New Worlds, Science Fantasy, SF Adventures, New Writing in SF; five dozen author profiles. First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1972) [JH]
- Born April 8, 1933 – Cele Goldsmith. Edited Amazing and Fantastic – both at once – living up to those names. Special Committee Award form Chicon III the 20th Worldcon. Amazing memoir years later in the Mar 83 issue. Andrew Porter’s appreciation here. Mike Ashley’s here. (Died 2002) [JH]
- Born April 8, 1939 – Trina Hyman. Twoscore covers, a score of interiors for us; illustrated a hundred fifty books all told, e.g. A Room Made of Windows. Here is Peter Pan. Here is the Aug 88 F & SF. Here is The Serpent Slayer. Caldecott Medal, Boston Globe – Horn Book and Golden Kite Awards. (Died 2004) [JH]
- April 8, 1942 — Douglas Trumbull, 79. Let’s call him a genius and leave it at that. He contributed to, or was fully responsible for, the special photographic effects of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Blade Runner, and directed the movies Silent Running and Brainstorm. And Trumbull was executive producer for Starlost. (CE)
- April 8, 1967 — Cecilia Tan, 54. Editor, writer and founder of Circlet Press, which she says is the first press devoted to erotic genre fiction. It has published well over a hundred digital book to date with such titles as Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords and Other Stories from the Erotic Edge of SF/Fantasy (Wouldn’t Bester be surprised to learn that. I digress), Sex in the System: Stories of Erotic Futures, Technological Stimulation, and the Sensual Life of Machines and Genderflex: Sexy Stories on the Edge and In-Between. She has two series, Magic University and The Prince’s Boy. (CE)
- Born April 8, 1968 – Alex Toader, age 53. (Romanian name, “toe-AH-derr”.) Here is The Day Dreamer. Here is the Predator drop ship (Predators, N. Antal dir. 2010). Here is a Terra-to-Mars spaceport. Here is Tractor Beams Engaged. [JH]
- April 8, 1974 — Nnedi Okorafor, 47. Who Fears Death won a World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. Lagoon which is an Africanfuturism or Africanjujuism novel (her terms) was followed by her amazing Binti trilogy. Binti which led it off that trilogy won both a Nebula Award and a Hugo Award for best novella. Several of her works have been adapted for video, both in Africa and in North America. (CE)
- Born April 8, 1978 – Natasha Rhodes, age 43. Eight novels, one shorter story. Motion pictures too, some of the novels are tie-ins. Interview here; among much else she says “There were a lot of male sulky faces and pouty lips when women’s rights came in and became the norm rather than the exception.” [JH]
- April 8, 1980 — Katee Sackhoff, 41. Being noted here for playing Lieutenant Kara “Starbuck” Thrace on the rebooted Battlestar Galactica though I must confess I’ve only seen in her excellent role as Deputy Sheriff Victoria “Vic” Moretti on Longmire. She also played Amunet Black, a recurring character who showed up on the fourth season of The Flash. To my pleasant surprise, I see her on Star Wars: The Clone Wars in a recurring role voicing Bo-Katan Kryze. (CE)
- April 8, 1981 — Taylor Kitsch, 40. You’ll possibly remember him as the lead in John Carter which I swear was originally titled John Carter of Mars. He also played Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and was Lieutenant Commander Alex Hopper in Battleship which was based off the board game but had absolutely nothing to with that game. (CE)
(11) COMICS SECTION.
(12) ANSIBLE LINKS. David Langford, in the wake of hosting of Alison Scott’s Eastercon bid speech and Farah Mendlesohn’s ConFusion polemic, has added two more items of interest to the Ansible site:
Alison’s brief Doc Weir Award acceptance speech.
And, Jerry Kaufman’s presentation speech for the “FAAn Award for Lifetime Achievement”, virtually presented to Langford during the recent FAAn Awards ceremony.
… When I share the least fragment of this person’s extensive contributions to fanzines, science fiction, and fan culture, you’ll know immediately who I am talking about. But let’s pretend we don’t. He discovered science fiction at an early age in Wales (how green was his Soylent), and found fandom at the Oxford University SF Group….
(13) MARS WAVES HELO. Space.com’s opinion is “These selfies of NASA’s Mars helicopter with the Perseverance rover are just amazing”.
Seán Doran created this mosaic of Perseverance and the Ingenuity helicopter together using 62 images captured by the rover on its 46th Martian sol.
Perseverance’s SHERLOC WATSON camera captured imagery of the Mast ‘head’ of the rover on April 6, 2021 (Sol 45). The imagery is combined with Martian wind audio captured by Perseverance on Sol 4.
(14) AN UNUSED SCROLL TITLE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] As someone who didn’t watch TNG as it happened, only random in returns over the decades since, and who finds Q annoying at best, my thought is, potential title-wise:
(15) SACRE BLEU! Andrew Porter was tuned into tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! and witnessed this:
Category: Books by the number
Answer: Jules Verne’s first novel was “Cinq Semaines en Ballon”, or this long “In a Balloon”
Wrong question: What is 80 days?
Right question: What is five weeks?
John King Tarpinian, meanwhile, was pleased the show had a Bradbury reference, and sent this screenshot.
(16) HERE’S A CLUE. In “The 100 Best, Worst, and Strangest Sherlock Holmes Portrayals of All-Time, Ranked” on CrimeReads, Olivia Rutligiano ranks 100 actors (99 humans and one dog) who have portrayed Sherlock Holmes. She includes characters who think they’re Sherlock Holmes, so Data and Stewie from Family Guy are here. The actors include two who played Doctor Who and three from various versions of Star Trek.
…What are the criteria we’re using to rank these portrayals? Fidelity to the source text? Creativeness of the interpretations? Resemblance to Sidney Paget’s illustrations? Quality of acting? Kind of. Simply put, portrayals are ranked in their ability to present a Holmes who makes sense as a derivation of the original character while exploring, interrogating, and expanding the character’s qualities in a thoughtful and meaningful way. And of course, yes, the quality of the performance itself matters.
The dog ranks ahead of Data! And the new number two is —
2. Basil Rathbone, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939), etc.
The consummate actor Basil Rathbone, besides having my favorite name ever, is often considered to be the gold-standard for Holmes portrayals, having played Holmes in fourteen films in the 1930s and 40s. For many out there, he is *the* Holmes, and this is more than fair. Rathbone’s Holmes is an interesting take… very logical, though not wry, but also very vigorous. While he’s certainly very affable, there is little whimsy, nothing too nonconformist about him. It’s truly marvelous to behold (though more marvelous is how he never once turns around to flick Nigel Bruce’s idiot Watson on the head).
(17) VIDEOS OF THE DAY. “Leonard Nimoy As Sherlock Holmes: The Interior Motive (1976) Full Version” on YouTube is a 1976 episode of the PBS show “The Universe and I” in which Leonard Nimoy, as Sherlock Holmes, provides a science lesson about the nature of the earth’s core.
And here’s a clip featuring Peter Capaldi’s performance as Holmes — because you can never have enough Peter Capaldi.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Joe Siclari, James Davis Nicoll, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Ben Bird Person, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]