(1) AI AND CLICK FARMERS GAMING KINDLE UNLIMITED. AI-generated books are hitting the best-seller lists in the Kindle Unlimited store. Stacy King points out that one of the best-sellers in the War & Military Fiction category is “URGENT CHARACTER NAME: URGENT CHARACTER NAME” by Minh Duong. Thread starts here.
(2) BOSEMAN SELECTED FOR WALK OF FAME. GamesRadar+ reports “Chadwick Boseman to receive posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame” and names the other who will be honored in 2024.
Chadwick Boseman is set to receive a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as part of their class of 2024. The actor died from colon cancer in August 2020 at the age of 43. He was diagnosed with the disease in 2016, but kept his illness private until his death.
Best known for his starring role in Marvel’s Black Panther as King T’Challa of Wakanda and the titular superhero (and other appearances in the Avengers movies), Boseman also starred in films like Da 5 Bloods, 21 Bridges, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. He received a posthumous Oscar nomination for his performance in the latter, and he was also posthumously awarded the Emmy for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance for his work in animated Marvel series What If…?
Boseman was selected to appear on the Walk of Fame in the motion picture category, with other groups including television, recording, live theatre/live performance, and radio. Honorees are chosen every year by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce out of hundreds of nominees. Other new additions to the movie category include Gal Gadot, Michelle Yeoh, Chris Pine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Christina Ricci, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, and Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri.
Those in the TV category include Ken Jeong, Eugene Levy, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Michael Schur, and Kerry Washington. The cohort’s other posthumous honoree is Otis Redding, in the live performance category. Redding died in a plane crash in 1967.
(3) SPIDER-MAN’S POWERFUL B.O. The Hollywood Reporter is taken by surprise as the new Spider-Man movie bounces back to the top of the charts: “Box Office: Spidey Beats ‘Elemental’, ‘The Flash’ Tanks”.
In a box office upset, Sony holdover Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse edged out Pixar’s Elemental to win the weekend all the way in its fourth outing. Rarely does a film reclaim the top spot like that amid fierce summer competition.
Spidey took in an estimated $19.3 million as it raced past the $300 million mark domestically to finish Sunday with a North American total of $317.1 million and an impressive $560.3 million worldwide.
Elemental took in an estimated $18.5 million upon falling only 39 percent in its second weekend, a strong hold after suffering the worst start in the modern history of Pixar. The film’s hold means it’s being helped by strong word of mouth….
… The news for DC and Warner Bros.’ big-budget superhero pic The Flash — which opened last weekend opposite Elemental to a sobering $55.1 million — grew worse as it fell off 72 percent to $15.3 million for a domestic cume of $87.6 million. Unlike Elemental, The Flash received poor exit scores. (The studio had hoped for a decline of 55 percent.) Insiders concede the film, starring Ezra Miller, is a huge miss and is being rejected by audiences on a wholesale basis….
(4) MAKING THE ROUNDS. Craig Miller comments on screenings of Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken and Elemental before reporting on a Propstore reception where some top-end costumes and art were displayed ahead of an auction. See the photos on his Facebook page.
…Herewith, photos of a few of the pieces. I think the gem of the auction is Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia’s Medal Ceremony dress from the end of “Star Wars”. Estimated to sell for, perhaps, $1,000,000. Also on display were an asteroid miniature from “The Empire Strikes Back”, Michael Keaton’s Batman costume from “Batman Returns” and Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face costume from “Batman Forever”, an original painting by Ralph McQuarrie done for the ILM crew shirt for “Star Wars”, a matte painting for the Death Star trench (interesting at least to me, I have hanging in the hall outside my office the matching photo – about 3’x3′ – of the Death Star trench miniature that was painted over and cut out to make this matte), Harrison Ford’s “Blade Runner” costume, Daniel Radcliff’s costume from “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”….
(5) MISSING FROM HISTORY. After Thomas Monteleone got expelled from the Horror Writers Association, and Mort Castle started a kerfuffle about being left out of an HWA Blog Q&A series, author Lionel Ray Green asked Brian Keene: “Feeling forgotten: Do older horror writers have a point?”
…In his June 21st podcast, Keene addressed the Castle and Monteleone controversies.
“I know there was a big kerfuffle with Mort Castle,” Keene said. “I did not see Mort’s comments, but people I trust have paraphrased them for me. I think we can have empathy for Mort. I don’t think it’s terrible of him to feel forgotten. I think his feelings are valid because Mort did some important things. I don’t know, maybe Mort should’ve read the room … maybe there was a better way of expressing it.
“Tom’s comments were reprehensible. They were inexcusable. And I’m in no way defending him. But I do think Tom’s comments stem from a place of hurt, of feeling forgotten. There was a time when Tom Monteleone did a lot in this genre. He was one of the movers and shakers. In some of the much-deserved blowback to his comments, you saw a lot of ‘Who’s Tom Monteleone?’ which kind of proves the point. The guy was feeling forgotten.”
Keene said he talked to Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Ronald Malfi about the issue during StokerCon 2023 earlier this month.
“Ron Malfi and I had a heart-to-heart about this in the bar at StokerCon,” Keene said. “We feel it’s our generation’s responsibility to spotlight some of these people. I try to do that in my newsletter. Right now, I’m campaigning for Chet Williamson to get a Lifetime Achievement Award from the HWA. I think he deserves it.”
Williamson received six Stoker Award nominations from 1987 to 1990, including two for his novels Ash Wednesday and Reign….
(6) FUTURAMA TRAILER. Paste Magazine sets the table: “Futurama Lives on Hulu, Entire Cast Returns in First Trailer”.
…Oh yeah, we’re definitely mining some nostalgia here. It certainly feels like this iteration of the show is attempting to go back and replicate nearly everything fans still love and reference about the original series, right down to bit players like the colony of worms that once invaded Fry’s colon after some bad truck stop egg salad. At least the voices of the characters sound more or less intact, mercifully avoiding the tiredness and unnatural delivery that has become an expected part of new Simpsons episodes for the last decade. We’re also not sure how to feel exactly about the series seemingly making a point of falling back on topical humor, with jokes clearly directed at the COVID-19 pandemic, cryptocurrency and even the popularity of Frank Herbert’s Dune following its big-screen adaptation. Hopefully, this version of Futurama can prove it still has some reason to exist, beyond brand recognition….
(7) TURNING IN THE WORK. “Rosamund Pike acts in ‘Wheel of Time’ and reads (and reads and reads) it, too” the Washington Post learned.
When told how long she’s been recording the audiobooks for the Wheel of Time, the fantasy series by Robert Jordan, Rosamund Pike sounded disconcerted.
“You mean so far, with the three I’ve done?” she asked. “It’s 80 hours?” (To be precise, between “The Eye of the World,” “The Great Hunt” and the most recent installment, “The Dragon Reborn,” which has just been released, it’s 87 hours and 23 minutes.) Pike was calling in from Prague, where she and her family moved a few years ago for the production of the television series adapted from Jordan’s books. She is a producer of the series and stars as the magical priestess Moiraine. Over video, what passed over her face, hearing that time estimate, could be called a grimace. “Well — that’s good.” Her eyebrow arched. “Yeah, that’s … nice.”
Pike’s account of how she got involved in this epic project has a “hero’s journey” ring to it: the call to adventure, the reluctant protagonist, then some intervention that encourages them to leave the world they knew. When Macmillan Audio initially approached her, she turned the job down. Though she’d recorded audiobooks before — including Jane Austen, a historical spy novel and a murder mystery — for most of her life she hadn’t been much of a fantasy fan: “I think I’d always been quite grounded in reality,” Pike told Stephen Colbert in 2021. “… I didn’t feel I needed to branch out into creatures and mythological beasts…”
(8) MEMORY LANE.
1986 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
And then there’s Gene Wolfe. What an amazing writer. I was surprised in doing this write-up to find that he had not won any Hugos, though he has won World Fantasy Awards both for his long and short form work, along with a BSFA, a BFA and Nebulas.
So what do I like by him? First and foremost is the exemplary The Book of the New Sun series. Now this is what fantasy should be. I’ve not read all of The Wizard Knight series but what I have read has been very enjoyable; and likewise the stand-alone novels Pirate Freedom and the fascinating travel affair The Land Across as I love imaginary European countries.
So our Beginning this Scroll is from Soldier of the Mist, the first novel of the Latro series. It was published by Gollancz in 1986. It picked up Nebula and World Fantasy Award nominations.
And here’s our Beginning…
I write of what has just occurred. The healer came into this tent at dawn and asked whether I recalled him. When I said I did not, he explained. He gave me this scroll, with this stylus of the slingstone metal, which marks it as though it were wax.
My name is Latro. I must not forget. The healer said I forget very quickly, and that is because of a wound I suffered in a battle. He named it as though it were a man, but I do not remember the name. He said I must learn to write down as much as I can, so I can read it when I have forgotten. Thus he has given me this scroll and this stylus of heavy slingstone metal.
I wrote something for him in the dust first. He seemed pleased I could write, saying most soldiers cannot. He said also that my letters are well formed, though some are of shapes he does not know. I held the lamp, and he showed me his writing. It seemed very strange to me. He is of Riverland.
He asked me my name, but I could not bring it to my lips. He asked if I remembered speaking to him yesterday, and I did not. He has spoken to me several times, he says, but I have always forgotten when he comes again. He said some other soldiers told him my name, “Latro,” and he asked if I could remember my home. I could. I told him of our house and the brook that laughs over colored stones. I described Mother and Father to him, just as I see them in my mind, but when he asked their names, I could tell him only “Mother” and “Father.” He said he thought these memories very old, perhaps from twenty years past or more. He asked who taught me to write, but I could not tell him. Then he gave me these things.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born June 27, 1909 — Billy Curtis. You’ll best remember him as the Small Copper-Skinned Ambassador in Trek’s “Journey to Babel” episode. His genre experienced goes all the way back to Wizard of Oz where he was a Munchkin, and later on he’s a mole-man in Superman and The Mole-Men, and later on a little person in The Incredible Shrinking Man. He had lots of one-offs, be it on Batman (twice there), Bewitched, Gilligan’s Island, Planet of The Apes or Twilght Zone. (Died 1988.)
- Born June 27, 1941 — James P. Hogan. A true anti-authoritarian hard SF writer in the years when that was a respectable thing to be. I’m sure that I’ve read at least Inherit the Stars and The Gentle Giants of Ganymede. Tell me about his short fiction please. A decent amount of his work is available on the usual suspects. (Died 2010.)
- Born June 27, 1952 — Mary Rosenblum. SF writer who won the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel for The Drylands, her first novel. She later won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History Short Form for her story, “Sacrifice.” Water Rites and Horizons are the only ones available at the usual suspects. (Died 2018.)
- Born June 27, 1959 — Stephen Dedman, 64. Australian author of The Art of Arrow-Cutting, a most excellent novel. I really should read Shadows Bite, the sequel to it. He’s the story editor of Borderlands, the tri-annual Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror magazine published in Perth. Apple Books has nothing for him, Kindle has The Art of Arrow-Cutting and a few other titles.
- Born June 27, 1966 — J. J. Abrams, 57. Let’s see… He directed and produced the rebooted Star Trek, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (he was a co-writer on the latter two), but I think I will single him out as the executive producer of the Fringe series, the Lost series, and Person of Interest.
- Born June 27, 1972 — Christian Kane, 51. You’ll certainly recognize him as he’s been around genre video fiction for a while first playing Lindsey McDonald on Angel before become Jacob Stone on The Librarians. And though Leverage may or may not be genre, his role as Eliot Spencer there is definitely worth seeing.
- Born June 27, 1975 — Tobey Maguire, 48. Spider-man in the Sam Raimi trilogy of the Spidey films. His first genre appearance was actually in The Revenge of the Red Baron which is one serious weird film. Much more interesting is his role as David in Pleasantville, a film I love dearly. He produced The 5th Wave, a recent alien invasion film.
- Born June 27, 1987 — Ed Westwick, 36. British actor who has roles in the dystopian Children of Men, S. Darko (a film I couldn’t begin to summarize), Freaks of Nature (a popcorn film if ever there was one), the “Roadside Bouquets” episode of the British series Afterlife (which I want to see) and The Crash (which may or may not be SF).
(10) DIRECT ANSWERS. Hear from the renowned comic dealer in “ICv2 Video Interview: Bud Plant, Part 1”.
For his article on direct market pioneer Bud Plant (see “Bud Plant, a Pioneer“), Dan Gearino (author of The Comic Shop, see “New Edition of ‘Comic Shop’“) conducted a meaty video interview with Plant, which you can watch in three parts:
- In Part 1 (see video below), Plant talks about the very early days of the comics business in the 1960s, and some of the first comic stores in California.
- In Part 2, he talks about meeting Phil Seuling, the beginnings of the direct market, and opening the first Comics & Comix store.
- In Part 3, he talks about rapid growth in the 1980s, selling his wholesale business to Diamond, and the meaning of it all.
We are also making available full transcripts of the interview, in three parts corresponding to the three parts of the video interview.
(11) MOSCOW SUCKS. “’First trailer for timely Moscow-set sci-fi horror Empire V” at Deadline.
Victor Ginzburg’s timely sci-fi horror Empire V, which is described as a social parody of Russia being controlled by vampires, world premieres at Montreal’s Fantasia Fest this July.
Ahead of the debut, Deadline can reveal a first trailer for the film which has gained fresh resonance following the revolt in Russia over the weekend by Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner mercenary group.
Based on a 2006 satirical novel by Victor Pelevin, the film revolves around a 19-year-old Muscovite who is turned into a vampire, propelling him into an elite and powerful echelon of society that has controlled humanity since time immemorial.
… Sony had been due to release the film in Russia on more than 1,800 screens in the first quarter of 2022, but the government refused to release its distribution permit, effectively banning the film….
There is an “exclusive” trailer embedded in the Deadline article, which visually is probably 99% the same as this one released a year ago.
(12) THE WITCHER INFOGRAPHIC. The premiere of season 3 of the Geralt of Rivia adventures is coming this week. On this occasion, JustWatch thought you’d like to see how the miniseries and animated film performed compared to Netflix’s tentpole, starring Henry Cavill.
Despite efforts, The Witcher: Blood Origin failed to captivate viewers, receiving -2.3% less popularity than the animated film The Witcher: Nightmare Of The Wolf. The movie also pales in comparison to Netflix’s flagship series The Witcher, that surpassed the combined popularity of the miniseries and film by a remarkable 8 times.
[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]