(1) BAFTA TV. Today’s BAFTA TV Awards 2022 winners predictably had almost no genre presence because there were very few sff nominees. (Even the new Doctor Who, Ncuti Gatwa, lost – as a nominee in the Male Performance in a Comedy Programme for his role in the non-genre series Sex Education.) The one oasis in this desert, however, is that the International category winner was The Underground Railroad. (The complete list of award recipients is here.)
(2) 1977. Connie Willis recounted her experience seeing Star Wars for the first time in a post for Facebook readers.
…And the story was pure science-fiction, with its brave, naive young hero and feisty heroine, who were straight out of Robert A. Heinlein, to the tough but heart-of-gold mercenary Han Solo who was straight out of The Three Musketeers. And the garbage compactor and the Millennium Falcon and the Death Star and that great tie-fighter battle, which was straight out of every war movie I’d ever seen. And Chewbacca and Obi Wan Kenobi and the tie-fighters and the Sand People and the great lines which promptly became part of my family’s language and still are to this day: “Use the Force, Luke,” and “Don’t get cocky, kid,” and “I’d sooner kiss a wookie,” and “Aren’t you a little short to be a stormtrooper.”…
(3) 1982. The end of the first Star Wars trilogy is not nearly as romantic in retrospective: “How the California forest that starred as Endor in ‘Star Wars’ was obliterated” at SFGate.
…Months after the “Star Wars” shoot was over, the logging company did what it did best and clear-cut the entire area. Endor is no more.
“Except, you can visit the grove where the speeder chase scene was shot,” clarified Nate Adams, deputy director of the Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission.
Protected in perpetuity within a state park in Humboldt County are the remaining shreds of Endor. The Film Commission highlighted the area in its “Map of the Movies” for a self-guided tour through the two northern counties.
“It’s off Highway 36 in Grizzly Creek State Park along the Cheatham Grove path,” Adams said. “When you go there, you’ll recognize some of the fallen trees close to the trailhead. I was there last year to help with the Jeff Goldblum show and immediately recognized trees 40 years later.”
As detailed in its harvesting plan, the logging company had already scheduled to clear-cut the area where Endor once stood and it was set for destruction well before filmmakers expressed an interest to shoot there. Mario D. Vaden, an arborist and longtime photographer of Redwood National Park, thinks this was a missed opportunity.
“Had somebody been able to foresee the popularity and success of ‘Star Wars,’ it would have been crazy not to save the grove where Endor was made and use it as a tourist venue,” he said. “In the same way the Trees of Mystery have their attraction, it would have been world-famous.”
Endor may have been nearly obliterated, but Perry said that its legacy lives on where you least expect it.
“The logging company was in the commercial market and a lot of the Miller Redwood products became decking material in the Bay Area,” he said. “So people could be walking on decks that are made from ‘Star Wars’ sites.”…
(4) TWO HWA INTERVIEW SERIES. The Horror Writers Association is doing two streams of thematic interviews this month, Jewish Heritage in Horror and Asian Heritage in Horror. Here are excerpts of two recent posts.
- “Jewish Heritage in Horror: An Interview with John Palisano” is a Q&A with the current President of HWA.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
Again, I blame my parents. I’m dating myself, but I recall my Dad taking me to see ALIEN and I was just blown away on so many levels. I loved its artistry. I loved its world. I loved its darkness. Been hooked ever since. I recall seeing Stephen King’s NIGHT SHIFT at the bookstore … the one with the hand wrapped in gauze with the eyes poking through … and bought it and stayed up late reading it. I then scoured everything I could find of his. My dad also brought me issues of TWILIGHT ZONE and CEMETERY DANCE that we’d read and talk about. Meanwhile, my mom handed me a hardcover of a then new writer named Anne Rice. INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE opened up so many worlds. I wouldn’t be doing this without my folks. Happy as can be about it, too
- “Asian Heritage in Horror: Interview with Priya Sharma” poses questions to a Shirley Jackson Award and British Fantasy Award winner.
What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?
Horror is everywhere, in the fabric of the everyday. Some people don’t want to face what makes them afraid or uneasy, but I’d rather look at it face on. The unknown is always worse than the known.
It’s taken me a long time to realise why I like horror and it’s only through writing it that I understand why. When I write about the painful things in my life, I find horror and the fantastic an easier way of processing them. The reality of suffering is truly terrible. It’s real-life dramas about terrible events or experiences that I struggle to watch or read about. I find them easier to consider when cloaked in the fantastic and horrific than when looked at directly. It abstracts them.
(5) NAMES TO CONJURE WITH. Mashable’s list of “11 incredible women sci-fi authors you need to read” begins with N.K. Jemisin, Kameron Hurley, and Joanna Russ.
…The writers that follow vary widely in subject matter and approach. Some hew closely to reality, while others let their minds take them on theoretical journeys to the ends of time and space. Some deliver gritty action and adventure, while others use a defter, more exploratory touch. They’re all absolute masters, though, and your reading list deserves to have them on it. Without further ado, here are 11 women sci-fi authors you need to read…
(6) DEFENDING SFF. Big Think’s Jonny Thomson unpacks one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s essays: “Tolkien on the importance of fantasy and science fiction”.
The snobbery of those who look down on fantasy has a long pedigree — so much so that, in 1947, J.R.R. Tolkien felt the need to defend the genre in his work, “On Fairy-Stories.” For Tolkien, fantasy and fairy stories are not simply stories about fairies. They are stories that take place in a land of fairies. They exist in their own created land, where any number of wondrous things can happen, but they are always treated with the utmost seriousness by the reader. To enter Faërie is not to enter a world of simple make-believe; instead, we perform an act of “sub-creation,” in which we form a world within our wider “reality.”
This imaginary world we create always will go beyond the words given to describe it. The fantasy realm “cannot be caught in a net of words; for it is indescribable.” Words alone will never be able to conjure up a fully realized land of magic. For this, we need the ability to sub-create. When we sub-create a world, we “make a Secondary World which the mind can enter.” This world has its own internal logic, laws, and systems. We see, feel, and live in this world in a way far beyond the words on a page can alone provide. We color in background details and add sights, smells, and wonders that go beyond the narrow bounds of the words in the book. It is why movie adaptations can feel so hollow, at times.
(7) DAN DECKERT (1952-2022). LASFS member Dan Deckert, who moved with his family from LA to the Midwest decades ago, died May 8. His wife Danise announced that he passed away after several days in the ICU with major health problems. During Dan’s time as an active LASFSian, he served terms as President and on the Board of Directors, and chaired the club’s annual Loscon in 1982. His financial donations to the club were acknowledged by making him a “Patron Saint”, celebrated the twelfth meeting of each year. He produced a couple hundred issues of his fanzine Entropy for the club’s weekly APA-L. He also was a director of the conrunning organization SCIFI which hosted many cons, including the 1996 Worldcon of which he was a division head. Since Dan’s retirement a few years ago he began to volunteer in fandom again, working on a program track for Worldcon 76 in 2018.
(8) MEMORY LANE.
1969 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Sir Harry Paget Flashman VC, KCB, KCIE., 1822 – 1915
I grant he’s not even genre adjacent, but I’ll give you a tale in a minute that makes it relevant to us. Harry Flashman appears in a series of 12 George MacDonald Fraser’s books collectively known as The Flashman Papers. If Flashman had a birthday, the author says it would have been earlier this week, May 5. The first novel, Flashman, was published in 1969 and many readers here in the States thought it was a work of non-fiction.
The books centre on the exploits of Harry Flashman. He is a cowardly British soldier, rake and just generally disreputable character who is placed in a series of real historical incidents between 1839 and 1894. It must be noted that despite his cowardice and his attempts to flee danger whenever possible, he becomes a decorated war hero and rises to the rank of brigadier-general.
Royal Flash, a 1975 British film, is based upon the second Flashman novel of the same name. It stars a thirty-two-year-old Malcolm McDowell as Flashman. It was not well received as The Observer noted it left them “breathless not so much with enchantment as with boredom”. Although audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rating of sixty-four percent which isn’t bad at all.
Kage Baker didn’t actually write a Flashman novel, though we talked several times about her doing so, but the bones of one appeared in one of her novels as her sister Kathleen told me that it ended up elsewhere: “Most of her notes she used in her last novel, Not Less Than Gods, which she wrote while she was sick, and that was published as she was dying. As far as I can tell, Kage and I were the only people in the world who liked it. A lot of it was panned because the reviewers didn’t get most of the satire, or hated Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax, or both. Anyway, even if you personally disliked the book, I think you can see the bones of a Flashman novel there.”
The Green Man reviewer liked it though he had it with a lump in his throat as Kage had just died as he wrote his review.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 8, 1928 — John Bennett. A very long involvement in genre fiction starting with The Curse of the Werewolf in the early Sixties and ending forty years later with a role on the Minority Report series. Being a Brit, naturally he appeared on Doctor Who in the prime role of Li H’sen Chang as part of a Fourth Doctor story, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”. He had roles in Blake’s 7, Watership Down, Tales of The Unexpected, The Plague Dogs, Dark Myth, Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (as Dr. Sigmund Freud!), Merlin of The Crystal Cave and The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells. (Died 2005.)
- Born May 8, 1938 — Jean Giraud. Better known to y’all as Moebius. He contributed storyboards and concept designs to myriad science fiction and fantasy films including Alien, The Fifth Element, The Abyss and the original Tron film. He also collaborated with avant-garde filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky for an unproduced adaptation of Dune. Oh, I would’ve loved to have seen that! And no, I’m not forgetting his work on both Heavy Metal and Marvel Comics but I’ll let you detail those endeavors. (Died 2012.)
- Born May 8, 1940 — Peter Benchley. He’s known for writing Jaws which we decided last year was genre and he co-wrote the film script with Carl Gottlieb. His novel Beast is definitely genre and was adapted into a film as was White Shark which has absolutely nothing to do with sharks in any form what so ever. Another novel, The Island, was also turned into a film and it’s at least genre adjacent. (Died 2006.)
- Born May 8, 1947 — Susan Casper. Editor and author, married to Gardner Dozois until her death. She published over thirty short stories and essays, including collaborations with Dozois and Jack M. Dann, starting off with “Spring-Fingered Jack”. Her fiction is first collected in Slow Dancing through Time which includes one collaboration with Dozois and one with Jack M Dann. Rainbow: The Complete Short Fiction of Susan Casper which was edited just after her death by her husband is as its title states a complete collection of her short fiction. She was co-editor with him of the Ripper! and Jack the Ripper anthologies She was a much-loved figure at cons. (Died 2017.)
- Born May 8, 1947 — Ron Miller, 75. Illustrator who is quite knowledgeable about the work of astronomical artist Chesley Bonestell. The Art of Chesley Bonestell that he did received a Hugo at ConJosé (2002). The Grand Tour he did with William K. Hartmann Has nominated it at Chicon IV (1982) for Best Related Non-Fiction Book.
- Born May 8, 1954 — Stephen Furst. Stephen is dead; the saddest part of doing these Birthdays is discovering how many folks have died that I reasonably expected were still living. Babylon 5 has had far too many deaths among its cast. He died of complications from diabetes at a far too young age. You know him most likely as Centauri diplomatic attaché Vir Cotto on Babylon 5, a decent being way over his head in a job he was ill-prepared for. He also directed three low-budget movies for the Sci Fi Channel: Dragon Storm, Path of Destruction, and Basilisk: The Serpent King; he additionally co-starred in the last two films. And he produced Atomic Shark which aired during Sharknado Week on Syfy. (Died 2017.)
- Born May 8, 1955 — Della Van Hise, 67. Author was a prolific Trek fanwriter who later published an official Trek novel, Killing Time which in its first printing implied a sexual relationship between Spock and Kirk. Later printings didn’t include this passage as the copyright holder, Paramount, objected rather strongly according to several sources. It’s available at all the usual digital suspects.
- Born May 8, 1967 — John Hicklenton. British illustrator also known as John Deadstock. He worked on 2000 AD characters like Judge Dredd (especially the Heavy Metal Dredd series) and Nemesis the Warlock during the Eighties and Nineties. He also dipped into the Warhammer universe with “Cycles of Chaos” (with writer Andy Jones) in Warhammer Monthly No. 9. (Died 2010.)
(10) LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP. The Reinvented Heart, an anthology on the evolution of partnerships by female and nonbinary authors, is co-edited by Cat Rambo and Jennifer Brozek. The ebook version was released March 10, and a hardcover edition is coming May 31.
What happens when emotions like love and friendship span vast distances — in space, in time, and in the heart?
Science fiction often focuses on future technology and science without considering the ways social structures will change as tech changes — or not. What will relationships look like in a complicated future of clones, uploaded intelligences, artificial brains, or body augmentation? What stories emerge when we acknowledge possibilities of new genders and ways of thinking about them?
The Reinvented Heart presents stories that complicate sex and gender by showing how shifting technology may affect social attitudes and practices, stories that include relationships with communities and social groups, stories that reinvent traditional romance tropes and recast them for the 21st century, and above all, stories that experiment, astonish, and entertain.
Each of its three divisions – Hearts, Hands, Minds – begins with a poem by Jane Yolen. There are stories from Seanan McGuire, AnaMaria Curtis, Lisa Morton, Madeline Pine, Sam Fleming, Felicity Drake, Premee Mohamed, Beth Cato, Naomi Kritzer, Sophie Giroir, Maria Dong, Lyda Morehouse, Devin Miller, Aimee Ogden, Anita Ensal, Fran Wilde, Mercedes M. Yardley, Lauren Ring, Xander Odell, Rosemary Claire Smith, and Justina Robson.
(11) A PAIR TO DRAW TO. Powell Books will present Jeff VanderMeer, author of Hummingbird Salamander, in conversation by Hank Green, author of An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor, on May 11. Begins at 12:00 p.m. Pacific. Register here.
(12) BEWARE! [Item by Mike Kennedy.] These baby (and other) dolls are more the stuff of nightmares than of sweet childhood dreams.
A stretch of beach in Texas gets more than its share of detritus washed in from the Gulf of Mexico due to the arrangement of currents. That’s bad enough, but it seems that quite a few of those pieces of trash turn out to be dolls. Dolls that have undergone extremely creepy transformations while at sea.
Just ask Jace Tunnell, director of the Mission-Aransas Reserve at the University of Texas Marine Institute. “Creepy dolls covered in barnacles or missing their limbs keep washing up on Texas beaches” at USA Today. Photos at the link. No photos here!
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]