Snapshots 24: Pulped Fiction

Here are 16 developments of interest to fans. 

(1) There is a place where Penguin Books are reincarnated as Kleenex:

Unsold Doctor Who annuals and Jamie Oliver cookbooks are being turned into recycled bales of paper in preparation for their new life as tissues and other household goods at a new recycling centre in Earls Barton.

Penguin Books is just one of the companies sending such books to the Reconomy Alibone warehouse in Earls Barton, a recycling facility with the second largest grass roof in the UK.

“Blow your nose on Doctor Who,” was Andrew Porter’s suggested headline.

(2) I was late for some recent 30th wedding anniversaries, but I can be among the earliest to commemorate the first appearance of Ansible in August 1979. Congratulations Dave!

(3) Galaxy Quest is coming back in August as a comic book from IDW Publishing. Galaxy Quest: Global Warning is a five-part series picking up years after the goings-on of the 1999 movie that won the Best Dramatic Hugo.

In Global Warning, written by comics veteran Scott Lobdell (Uncanny X-Men) and featuring full art and colors by Green artist Illias Kyriazis, it’s been 20 years since the cast of Galaxy Quest ruled the airwaves.

(4) Soon after the following report appeared in Publishers Weekly, the Opt-Out Deadlinefor the Google Book Settlement was extended from May 5, 2009 to Sep 4, 2009:

The motion, filed April 24, by attorneys representing The Palladin Group for John Steinbeck and Thomas Myles Steinbeck, Catherine Ryan Hyde, The Philip K. Dick Testamentary Trust, Arlo Guthrie, Michael W. Perry, Eugene Linden, and James Rasenberger, asked the court for a four-month extension, with October 7 marking the new opt-out deadline, and with the hearing, now set for June 11, to follow at the court’s discretion….

In his brief on behalf of the above-named authors, attorney Andrew DeVore argued that the settlement notice was both insufficient and defective. Notice only began in January, DeVore noted, a “woefully inadequate” period of time in which to “digest the extraordinarily complex settlement agreement and attempt to gauge its potential present and long-term future implications in a vital marketplace.” Further, DeVore suggested such notice was clearly defective because a dearth of “readily identifiable” authors remain unaware of the settlement’s requirements and that even “tech-savvy” authors and copyright experts that have received notice-including U.S. Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters-are struggling to understand components of the settlement.

(5) Scientists made headlines with their supreme grasp of the obvious when they announced that research shows plenty of people feel better when they write about their favorite fictional characters:

New research suggests that such illusory relationships can buffer people against loneliness or sadness.

Subjects in one study who felt down from remembering unhappy moments of social rejection soon perked up upon writing about their favorite TV shows and characters. This supports the “social surrogacy hypothesis,” where technology provides a sense of social belonging when real social connections are lacking.

Francis Hamit’s Reader’s Digest condensed version of this research: “FanDom Explained!”

(6) Gary Farber of Amygdala is not fooled. The Four Corners monument, marking where four states share a border,  is in the wrong place:

Apparently they’re not going to bother to move the monument, which seems a bit fraudulent, if undeniably a touch of an abstract point. But the whole point is the abstract point of the location, so really, someone should at least put up a pole or something in the right place, and cut a trail.

(7) You can get a reprint of A History of Australian Science Fiction Fandom 1935-1963, by Vol Molesworth, for $10 from Graham Stone, 205-24 Victoria St, Burwood NSW, 2134. The 32-page zine is in A4 format, with gold embossed red card covers. ISBN 978-0-9579783-2-4. Since the stated price assumes local Australian costs, it’d be wise to add something for international postage.

(8) The Australian SF Bullsheet is available online at the website, or you can subscribe to the free monthly e-mail list. To join send a blank e-mail to [email protected].

(9) J. R. R. Tolkien was enough of an artist to have come up with something more elegant if he’d actually had a hand in this, still, it’s amusing to discover a Hobbit-themed hotel in New Zealand. The LA Times has a higher-resolution image of the photo on the hotel’s own website:

Worlds First Hobbit Motels open at Woodlyn Park in Waitomo. Built along side the now well established Train Carriage and Aeroplane Motels, the Hobbits add yet another dimension to this unique complex.

(10) Why aren’t books dead yet? Authorship, it seems, is still important:

It’s becoming obvious that in the age of information abundance the value of curation rises dramatically. As the number of available resources that writers and readers could consult rises, it’s actually quite normal that we would place more and more value on the process of synthesizing rather than simply aggregating information.

(11) Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry is featuring Harry Potter: the Exhibition through September 27.

Along the way, fans will get an up-close and personal look at some of their favorite props and costumes from the Harry Potter films. Harry’s original wand and eyeglasses, elaborate outfits from the Yule Ball, and GryffindorTM school uniforms are just some of the iconic items on display.

(12) Newsweek‘s fearless investigation of the Star Trek phenomenon has forced its reporter to read slash fiction:

K/S writer “Charlotte” gravitated toward Kirk and Spock specifically because “It’s the perfect recipe for a great love story. You have two radically different people from millions of miles apart whose lives fit together perfectly.”

(13) J.G. Ballard’s final short story has appeared in the New Yorker:

The New Yorker has published a new short story by science-fiction icon J.G. Ballard, who passed away on April 19. Entitled “The Autobiography of J.G.B.,” the piece tells the story of a man named “B” who wakes up one morning to find that all of England, France, and possibly the whole world, have disappeared without a trace.

(14) Douglas Adams’ final Dirk Gently novel will be adapted for radio:

The writer will use information provided in the existing chapters of The Salmon of Doubt – which Adams was working on at the time of his death – to create a six-part drama, which will be the third in a trilogy of Dirk Gently series ordered by Radio 4 from production company Above the Title in 2007.

(15) The Toronto Globe and Mail credits the internet for saving Star Trek, particularly James Cawley’s home-made Star Trek: Phase II:

Cawley and his company didn’t just make off with the Star Trek universe, they inserted themselves into roles that were already iconic – to say nothing of trademarked…. But Phase II wasn’t just tolerated: It was impressive enough to attract many Hollywood veterans of the “real” Trek series…. And when the new Hollywood movie was in production – the one that casts new actors in old roles – Cawley found himself on the Paramount lot, and was invited onto the set. By the end of it, he’d been put into a Starfleet uniform, and given a cameo.

(16) Here’s that darned Colbert horning in on another big deal for science fiction fans. In a recent episode of The Colbert Report, the Romulan Stephen Colbert broke into Colbert’s interview with J. J. Abrams.

[Thanks to John Mansfield, Gary Farber, Steven Silver, Francis Hamit, David Klaus, Australian SF Bullsheet and Andrew Porter for the links and stories included in this post.]

Update 05/11/2009: Corrected typo “congratulation” to the plural, since Langford surely deserves more than one.

6 thoughts on “Snapshots 24: Pulped Fiction

  1. What, another final story by Ballard? The one the Guardian published after his death had been in Interzone back in 1996, as they eventually admitted. The New Yorker’s “The Autobiography of J.G.B.” was also in Interzone in 1996 as “The Secret Autobiography of J. G. B******”, with credit to its prior 1984 appearance in Ambit.

  2. “(1) There is a place where Penguin Books are reincarnated as Kleenex”

    Well yes. This is generally what happens to unsold books after attempts to remainder fail. Publishers ain’t saving them for insulation.

  3. David – Obviously I’ve been snookered by the New Yorker. It isn’t the first time, let me tell you. I’ll be watching for the expose in Ansible.

    Mike – Sure, recycled books considered alone are pretty pedestrian, but I was not going to pass up a chance to write a post that included the word “penguin” and a reference to the “second largest grass roof in the UK.” (Keep watching this space for Langford to ask me why I don’t know where the largest one is. I won’t be able to blame the New Yorker for that.)

  4. First, the Four Corners monument is not “in the wrong place.” The north-south line was slightly off in its survey, but that’s true of a lot of longitude and even latitude lines. (The supposedly 45th parallel border between VT/NY and Quebec wobbles all over the place.) Once established, they’re not going to change it. There’s an entire town in Colorado that would have to be given to Utah if the line were moved, and I don’t think that’s going to happen.

    Second, this is not news. I have maps nearly a decade old that show the misalignment clearly, and I suspect it was known for decades before that.

  5. (Keep watching this space for Langford to ask me why I don’t know where the largest one is. I won’t be able to blame the New Yorker for that.)

    Though the question may torment me to the end of my days, I refuse to rise to your bait!

    But thanks a lot for the Ansible anniversary congratulations. Never forget that you started before me.

    The Abi Frost memorial page has grown somewhat and now carries news of the funeral next Friday.

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