(1) BIGGEST STAR WARS DAY EVENT. The Hollywood Reporter covers the ceremony: “Billie Lourd Gets Teary Honoring Late Mother Carrie Fisher at Walk of Fame: ‘Mama, You’ve Made It’”
… Lourd accompanied her mother to Comic-Con. There she learned that Fisher was also beloved.
“People of all ages from all over the world were dressed up like my mom, the lady who sang me to sleep at night and held me when I was scared. Watching the amount of joy it brought to people when she hugged them or threw glitter at them — sorry about that — was incredible to witness. People waited in line for hours just to meet her. People had tattoos of her, people named their children after her. People had stories of how she saved their lives. It was a side of my mom I had never seen before, and it was magical,” recalled Lourd. “I realized then that Leia is more than just a character. She is a feeling. She is strength. She is grace. She is wit. She is femininity at its finest. She knows what she wants and she gets it. She doesn’t need anyone to rescue her because she rescues herself and even rescues the rescuers. And no one could have played her like my mother.”
The ceremony, which kicked off shortly after 11:30 a.m. near the El Capitan Theatre on the corner of Hollywood and Highland, saw Lourd accept Fisher’s honor as she received the 2,754th star on the famed Walk of Fame….
(2) THE STAR WARS PARKING LOT. If you’re going to be in LA on May 6, this is an option available to you: “Movies on Location – ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’”.
In celebration of Star Wars Day, My Valley Pass is thrilled to present Star Wars: A New Hope as part of our ongoing film series Movies On Location. Throughout this exciting series, we screen films at their actual filming locations, or at settings that go hand-in-hand with these specially curated movies. The series features state of the art projection and sound.
This May the 6th, join us in Van Nuys as we screen Star Wars: A New Hope in the parking lot of Neiman & Company, formerly the original location of Industrial Light & Magic where all of the visual effects for Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) were produced.
(3) STAR WARS UNDERGROUND. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie forwarded this photo taken by a member of his local UK sf group today.
(4) HIGH TEA. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller are home from a convention visit. Sharon shares all the interesting details in “To HELIOsphere and beyond!”
…Immediately following our conversation, was the highlight of the convention — the Teddy Bear Tea.
The Teddy Bear Tea is something Steve and I try to schedule, whenever we are Guests of Honor. It turns out that many fans travel with their stuffed friends, who usually stay in the room, ready for comfort and conversation, when their companions come back from panelling and partying. We thought it was a shame that the plushies never got a chance to socialize, and that was the inception of the Teddy Bear Tea.
The Teddy Bear Tea is Vastly Flexible, depending on the understanding of the programming folks about what, exactly, we were doing here.
HELIOsphere did us more than proud. A full British High Tea awaited the plushies and their human friends — cucumber sandwiches (finally! I have had a cucumber sandwich), chicken salad, and egg salad, all cut into triangles and the crust trimmed off. Cookies! Biscotti! It was just marvelous. All of the plushies and people I talked to were impressed. Just a very good time, indeed….
(5) DS9’S UNION ORGANIZING EPISODE. “This ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ Episode is Suddenly Very Relevant” says Bell of Lost Souls.
There’s a WGA strike happening. Now is the perfect time to watch the Deep Space Nine‘s episode about union organizing “Bar Association”….
Deep Space Nine, Ferengi, and “Bar Association”
It’s the Bajoran Time of Cleansing. We don’t know what this holy time is about exactly but cleansing means no drinking or gambling. There’s nary a holosuite rental in sight. It’s Lent on steroids. And since much of the station consists of Bajorans that means wildly depleted profit margins for Quark’s Bar!
In “Bar Association“, Quark’s brother Rom nearly dies on the floor of the bar from a nuclear-grade ear infection because Quark won’t give him time off for a doctor’s visit. Worse, Quark decides that, in order to deal with the lack of incoming profit, he’s reducing salary by a third effective immediately.
Finally, in sickbay, Rom complains to Doctor Bashir about the lack of paid time off. Bashir offhandedly suggests that Rom should start a union in order to fight for an improved contract for all the workers. Rom takes the idea to heart and before you know it Quark’s entire staff is on strike.
“Bar Association” is very funny. But it’s also one of the most serious episodes in Star Trek history precisely because it deals with the mistreatment of workers. Obviously, right at the top, the episode deals with the dangers of working while sick. Rom nearly dies of that ear infection. But “Bar Association” says a lot more about the importance of unions than just paid sick leave….
(6) WHO HYPE. “Doctor Who airs new footage of 60th anniversary in cryptic teaser” and Radio Times has the morning-after report.
The ten-second clip aired during the channel’s Saturday (29th April 2023) evening schedule, with a message flashing up onscreen that read Network Error before making way for a number of distorted images and seemingly indecipherable sounds.
But it didn’t take sleuthing Whovians too long to work out some meaning behind the teaser, with fans noting that when the audio is played backwards Donna can be heard saying: “Why did this face come back?”
(7) DEAR DIARY. Radio Times will be running excerpts: “The 1963 Doctor Who diaries of Waris Hussein – part one”.
Much has been written about Doctor Who across the past six decades, but surely little could be more striking and fascinating than the diary kept by Waris Hussein way back in 1963 – his contemporaneous account of those crucial months 60 years ago when the sci-fi series was slowly, sometimes painfully, coming into being.
As Doctor Who’s very first director, he was heavily involved in the programme’s inception and can be counted among its talented band of founding parents…
…What follows is not a day-by-day diary. In 1963 Waris was far too busy for that. Instead, whenever time allowed, he kept a journal in a notebook, sometimes recording his thoughts on one particular day or else summarising recent events. That year he was also directing the BBC soap Compact, a Sunday Play called The Shadow of Mart and wartime espionage series Moonstrike. His diaries cover those in depth, as well as many private matters. For this series of articles exclusive to Radio Times, he has kindly allowed us to edit his accounts, extracting aspects pertinent to Doctor Who.
… Thursday 30th May 1963
The more I think of “Dr Who”, the more it depresses me and I can’t bear the thought of it. I hope it never happens.
[Waris in 2023: “You see, nobody knew exactly what the format was. The scripts were non-existent apart from the first one by Anthony Coburn. There was nothing more to go on. The sci-fi element didn’t bother me particularly; it was more that we’d be dealing with Stone Age characters. I mean, the discovery of fire was not my idea of directing something after my Cambridge days where I studied Shakespeare. And I didn’t want to be laughed at – directing actors in skins.”]….
(8) MEMORY LANE.
1984 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Barry Hughart’s career, I was surprised to learn, consisted of just one exemplary series, the Master Li novels which in turn were but a trilogy — Bridge of Birds, The Story of The Stone and Eight Skilled Gentlemen.
Why this was according to Hughart wasn’t due to his publishers screwing him over though they, according to him, did just that doing everything from labeling his fiction as exclusively being genre to releasing the paperback edition of Eight Skilled Gentlemen the same time as the hardback edition resulting in very few sales of the latter.
None of which he says actually had to do with him ending his writing career. In the Subterranean Press printing of The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox series as it is called, he stated:
“Will there be more? I doubt it, and it’s not because of bad sales and worse publishers. It’s simply that I’d taken it as far as I could. … [N]o matter how well I wrote I’d just be repeating myself.”
So that was it for his writing career. Mind you, according to him in another interview, there were supposed to be seven novels in the series had it run its full course.
But oh what extraordinary fiction it was. Blending an ancient China that never was, Chinese mythology with detective genre influences, Bridge of Birds won the World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. It’s an amazing series and go read it if you’ve not.
The series is available at the usual suspects.
Our Beginning naturally is from Bridge of Birds…
I shall clasp my hands together and bow to the corners of the world.
My surname is Lu and my personal name is Yu, but I am not to be confused with the eminent author of The Classic of Tea. My family is quite undistinguished, and since I am the tenth of my father’s sons and rather strong I am usually referred to as Number Ten Ox. My father died when I was eight. A year later my mother followed him to the Yellow Springs Beneath the Earth, and since then I have lived with Uncle Nung and Auntie Hua in the village of Ku-fu in the valley of Cho. We take great pride in our landmarks. Until recently we also took great pride in two gentlemen who were such perfect specimens that people used to come from miles around just to stare at them, so perhaps I should begin a description of my village with a couple of classics.
When Pawnbroker Fang approached Ma the Grub with the idea of joining forces he opened negotiations by presenting Ma’s wife with the picture of a small fish drawn on a piece of cheap paper. Ma’s wife accepted the magnificent gift, and in return she extended her right hand and made a circle with the thumb and forefinger. At that point, the door crashed open and Ma the Grub charged inside and screamed: “Woman, would you ruin me? Half of a pie would have been enough!
That may not be literally true, but the abbot of our monastery always said that fable has strong shoulders that carry far more truth than fact can.
Pawnbroker Fang’s ability to guess the lowest possible amount that person would accept for a pawned item was so unerring that I had concluded it was supernatural, but then the abbot took me aside and explained that Fang wasn’t guessing at all. There was always some smooth shiny object lying on top of his desk in the front room of Ma the Grub’s warehouse, and it was used as a mirror that would reflect the eyes of the victim.
“Cheap, very cheap,” Fang would sneer, turning the object in his hands. “No more than two hundred cash.”
His eyes would drop to the shiny object and if the pupils of the reflected eyes constricted too sharply he would try again.
“Well, the workmanship isn’t too bad, in a crude peasant fashion. Make it two-fifty.” The reflected pupils would dilate, but perhaps not quite far enough.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 4, 1852 — Alice Pleasance Liddell (rhymes with “fiddle”). One of the sisters to whom “Lewis Carroll” (Charles Dodgson) told the story that he later developed into Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and a second book about the character Alice, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1871). She eventually auctioned the manuscript copy of the first book Carroll had given her (under the original title Alice’s Adventures under Ground). That is how it came to be displayed at Columbia University on the centennial of Carroll’s birth, with Alice present, aged 80. In a nice coincidence, during this visit to the United States she met Peter Llewelyn Davies, one of the brothers who inspired J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. (Died 1934.) (OGH/JH)
- Born May 4, 1909 — Ray Quigley. Here solely for the three covers that he did for Weird Tales in the Forties. He didn’t do a lot of pulp work that I can find but these three are amazing. He did the December 1938 cover with the Dracula-like figure, the September 1940 cover with the nightmarish skull faced Bombers and fInally the May 1942 cover with the really scary living ship. The latter issue had Henry Kuttner, Robert Bloch and Dorothy Quick listed on the cover! (Died 1998.)
- Born May 4, 1913 — John Broome. DC writer during the Golden Age. He’s responsible for the creation of an amazing number of characters including The Phantom Stranger, Per Degaton (with artist Irwin Hansen), Captain Comet and Elongated Man (with Carmine Infantino), Atomic Knight and one of my favorite characters, Detective Chimp. DCUniverse streaming app has his work on The Flash starting on issue #133 and the entire early Fifities run of Mystery in Space that he wrote as well. (Died 1999.)
- Born May 4, 1920 — Phyllis Miller. She co-wrote several children’s books with Andre Norton, House of Shadows and Seven Spells to Sunday. Ride the Green Dragon, a mystery, is at best genre adjacent but it too was done with Norton. (Died 2001.)
- Born May 4, 1942 — CN Manlove. His major work is Modern Fantasy: Five Studies which compares the work of Kingsley, MacDonald, Lewis, Tolkien and Peake. Other works include Science Fiction: Ten Explorations, The Impulse of Fantasy Literature and From Alice to Harry Potter: Children’s Fantasy in England. (Died 2020.)
- Born May 4, 1943 — Erwin Strauss, 80. I’m not sure I can do him justice. Uberfan, noted member of the MITSFS, and filk musician. He frequently is known by the nickname “Filthy Pierre” which I’m sure is a story in itself. Created the Voodoo message board system used at a number of early cons and published an APA, The Connection, that ran for at least thirty years. Tell me about him.
- Born May 4, 1966 — Murray McArthur, 57. He first shows up on Doctor Who in “The Girl Who Died”, a Twelfth Doctor story before being The Broken Man on The Game of Thrones. He also shows up as a stagehand in the historical drama Finding Neverland before playing Snug in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
- Born May 4, 1976 — Gail Carriger, 47. Ahhhh such lovely mannerpunk she writes! I think I first noticed her with the start of the Finishing School series which she started off with Etiquette & Espionage some six years ago. Moira Quirk does a delightful job of the audiobooks so I recommend that you check them out. I also love the two novellas in her Supernatural Society series as well.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal calls this argument about consciousness “Robot John Searle”.
- The Argyle Sweater delivers a Cinco de Mayo/May the Fourth crossover. “Surely Han is giggling and saying ‘Come on Luke, use the Force!’” says Rich Horton.
(11) COME AS YOUR FAVORITE KAIJU. Tomorrow’s First Fridays 2023 event at the LA County Museum of Natural History has a “Giant Monsters/Giant Robot” theme. Cosplay encouraged. See full details at the link.
The Natural World vs. Fantasy Worlds: This season we focus on how nature and science influence the creation of our favorite imagined worlds. From dragons and witchcraft to superheroes and giant monsters, First Fridays 2023 is where the fans come out to celebrate the intersection of pop-culture fandom and the work and collections of NHM.
(12) WESTERCON 2025 WIDE OPEN. “No Bids Filed for 2025 Westercon” writes Kevin Standlee. “No bids have been filed to host Westercon 77 (2025), meaning that once again (as in 2021 and 2022), there will only be write-in spaces on the ballot, and if no valid bid wins (technically, that’s what happened last year, even though nearly every vote was for Utah, because the Utah bid was technically deficient), the Business Meeting will again have to make a decision, or if they can’t decide, throw it to LASFS. The last choice is thought to be the least-wanted one, at least by those LASFS directors who have expressed an opinion about it to me.”
(13) NNEDI OKORAFOR BOOK ANNOUNCED. DAW Books, an imprint of Astra Publishing House, has added another Nnedi Okorafor novel to the DAW publication schedule for this December.
Four months after the release of SHADOW SPEAKER (on sale September 26, 2023; ISBN 9780756418762) by critically acclaimed author Nnedi Okorafor will come the never-before-published sequel, LIKE THUNDER (on sale December 5, 2023; ISBN 9780756418793), completing the Desert Magician’s Duology.
LIKE THUNDER is the story of the powerful young man whom the magical protagonist of SHADOW SPEAKER befriends, and continues the precedent of powerful prose and compelling story-telling that has made Nnedi Okorafor a star of the literary science fiction, fantasy, and Africanfuturist spaces.
“This duology is really one long story,” says Betsy Wollheim, publisher of DAW Books, “and we felt it would be exciting for readers to have the finale to this story publish just four months from the first half, rather than waiting nearly a year to read the conclusion.”
The Desert Magician’s Duology tells the story of Ejii, as she embarks on a mystical journey to track down her father’s killer, in an era of mind-blowing technology and seductive magic, set in Niger, West Africa at the end of the 21st century, on an Earth changed by a momentous apocalyptic event that altered the laws of physics and created “The Changed,” children born with rare and odd abilities: shadow speakers, shapeshifters, windseekers, firemolders, faders, and rainmakers.
Nnedi Okorafor was born in the United States to two Igbo (Nigerian) immigrant parents. She holds a PhD in English and was a professor of creative writing at Chicago State University. She has been the winner of many awards for her short stories and young adult books, and won a World Fantasy Award for Who Fears Death. Nnedi’s books are inspired by her Nigerian heritage and her many trips to Africa.
(14) BIG GULP REDUX. Here’s more about Nature’s cover article “Exoplanet destruction”
As stars evolve, they expand and so will engulf planets in close orbit around them. This planetary catastrophe is expected to generate powerful luminous ejections of mass from the star, although this has not been observed directly. In this week’s issue, Kishalay De and his colleagues present observations of a short-lived optical outburst in the Galactic disk accompanied by bright, long-lived infrared emission. The combination of low optical luminosity and radiated energy suggests that the source of the outburst was the engulfment of a planet by its Sun-like star — an event that awaits Earth and the other planets of the inner Solar System in about 5 billion years, and that is captured in the artist’s impression on the cover.
Also there’s a review article here.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Rich Horton, Lise Andreasen, Olav Rokne, Kevin Standlee, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]
@5 — Lest we forget, Babylon 5 also covered workers’ rights in a first-season episode called “By Any Means Necessary.”
(9) And an grown-up Alice turns up in Farmer’s Riverworld
Birthdays, Filthy Pierre: the voodoo message board at “early” cons? I question your definition of “early”. I remember them appearing, I think, in the nineties, and only ending what, in the teens? And I still really miss them – if you don’t have someone’s phone #, you can’t find them any more.
Gail Carriger, nahhh, I’ll take the Parasol Protectorate, thank you.
9) Filthy plays some kind of wind-powered keyboard instrument, known colloquially as the “Pierreno” (I’m sure it has a proper name). The sound of him playing it is always a source of delight to my fannish soul, knowing that he is still among us at yet another con. The Connection was originally The Libertarian Connection, and he is know in those circles for his 1979 pamphlet How to Start Your Own Country.
I can attest to voodoo boards being present at Buconneer in 1998
@mark: I remember the voodoo message boards from 1979 or earlier cons.
And mark says Filthy Pierre: the voodoo message board at “early” cons? I question your definition of “early”. I remember them appearing, I think, in the nineties, and only ending what, in the teens? And I still really miss them – if you don’t have someone’s phone #, you can’t find them any more
Not my wordage, I just used the description from several online fan sites.
9) I think Filthy also was involved with the Spacewar board game, back in the 70s.
(8) The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox is available for Kindle for $9.99. Which may not be as lovely an item (being digital rather than physical), but more accessible to some of us.
Right now, I am contemplating sleep, and feeling grateful that File 770 is here.
9) Heh – earlier today I encountered a reference to How to Start Your Own Country, by one Erwin Strauss – who appears to be the same one. (Spoiler: you can’t.)
Bridge of Birds is one of the greatest humorous fantasy novels. In my view it’s equal to Terry Pratchett’s best.
Master Li & Number 10 Ox. The collected edition with Kaja Foglio illustrations is one of my greatest treaures.
And given my mood this week, I think it needs a re-read.
(9) Can we all agree that someone who was born in 1943 was not involved in setting up anything at early cons?
A belated thank you for the title credit.
Bridge of Birds is indeed a humorous novel, but it’s also, in the author’s words, at least a three handkerchief read.