Snapshots 47 Thunderbolts

Here are 10 developments of interest to fans.

(1) Raise the alarm! Another fact of science we were raised on may be going the way of the… dinosaur. Mark Leeper writes in the latest MT Void:

John Scannella and Jack Horner at the University of Montana have been taking a closer look at  Triceratops fossils and all indications are that a Torosaurus is what a Triceratops grows up to be. They are not two related species; they are a single species seen at two different stages of its development. So are we losing Triceratops as a dinosaur? After all you name an animal for its adult form, not its immature form. On the other hand a lot of people know Triceratops was the animal just like they knew Pluto was a planet. Torosaurus is much less a super-star.

(I expect the 08/06/10 issue with the full text of Mark’s article will soon be posted here. I get my copy of MT Void via a Yahoo group and I don’t know long the lag is between distribution to the list and public posting. )

(2) “The screenplay for Something Wicked This Way Comes was written by Ray Bradbury,” begins an  installment of Roger Ebert’s Overlooked DVD of The Week, “based on his novel, and it’s one of the rare American films to savor the sound of words, and their rhythms. That’s true in the writing, and it’s also true in the acting; Jason Robards, who has the lead in this film, is allowed to use his greatest gift, his magnificently controlled speaking voice, more poetically in this movie than in anything else he’s done in years.”

(3) Even better, there may be a brand new Bradbury movie in our future. Producer John Davis at Fox has optioned the rights to The Martian Chronicles in pursuit of an Avatar-sized payday.

(4) On the other hand, Avatar’s own James Cameron’s will be lending his 3-D expertise to a film be directed by Guillermo del Toro based on H.P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness.

In the Lovecraft tale, a gruesome discovery made during a scientific expedition to the South Pole in the 1930s  hints at the true origin of mankind having come from elder gods from another planet. Bad things happen when those life forms are awakened.

(5) Everyone has heard about the Comic-Con attendee who stabbed another near the eye with a pen after one complained about the other sitting too close. The most idiotic part of CNN’s story was a comment repeated from iReport by a genius who declared this was proof Comic Con needs more room…

(6) The Planetary Society Blog did a nice analysis of how the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) team identified a new crater on the Moon, “one that wasn’t there when Apollo 15 flew over, and which doesn’t correspond to any known human artifact impact site. Therefore it’s a fresh crater that’s formed in the last 38 years.”

(7) Aussiecon 4 announced that the The Australian Horror Writers Association is hosting a masked ball during the Worldcon. It’s $30 for con members if tickets are bought in advance, $40 for anybody who buys at the door. My next comment is not a condemnation of the idea, but I can’t recall a previous example of a paid event like this on Friday night at a Worldcon. I’m less biased against it because committees of smaller Worldcons obviously can’t afford to do everything in the world. Yet I realize I would be resistant to the same idea at a larger Worldcon — the usual fannish paranoia about somebody trying to make money off the holy cow. Possibly misplaced fannish paranoia. But it is what it is.

(8) I guess it’s not stalking when it ends in marriage. Butch Patrick of The Munsters will wed Donna McCall, his “biggest fan”.

The two exchanged phone numbers, talked, and agreed to meet for the first time at “Dracula Con II” in Philadelphia. Next thing you know, they’re engaged.

(9) I enjoyed Jerry Pournelle’s iPhone-inspired reminiscence on Chaos Manor :

Peter Glaskowsky reminds me that I’ve probably wanted one since Dick Tracy. When I looked it up I found that Diet Smith invented two-way wrist radio in the 40’s, but it didn’t become video until 1964, a couple of years after Jane Jetson had her videophone complete with a face mask so she could use it in the mornings before applying makeup… On that score, Heinlein in Between Planets (1951) had worldwide cell phones; the story opens with a telephone call to a phone carried by a student horseback riding in the Wyoming mountains out of a dude ranch. …

(10) Fewer and fewer artists want to take on Al-Qaeda for some reason. Imagine that. Add Frank Miller to their numbers now that he has scrapped his plan to pit Batman against al-Qaeda under the title Holy Terror, Batman!

[The] the newly rechristened Holy Terror will instead feature a protagonist known as The Fixer, a Dirty Harry-like former special ops agent who finds a new purpose for his training when his city is attacked. And unlike Batman, The Fixer is “not a tortured soul”: “He’s a much more well-adjusted creature, even though he happens to shoot 100 people in the course of the story.”

[Thanks for these links goes out to David Klaus, Andrew Porter, Gary Farber and  John King Tarpinian.]

Update 08/21/2010: Included Gary Farber’s credit for the Roger Ebert link.

10 thoughts on “Snapshots 47 Thunderbolts

  1. “With the name Triceratops taking historical priority, they announced that references to the genus Torosaurus would be eliminated from Museum of the Rockies exhibits.” — From Wikipedia article on Triceratops. It would seem that the name the dinosaur is best known by is in no danger of being eliminated.

  2. We’ve photographed craters newly formed on Mars — intervals probably much shorter than a few months — so why not the Moon?

  3. The biological nomenclature rule regarding conflicting names is: the first confirmed discovery takes priority. Brontosaurus was discovered after Apatosaurus, so when they were realized to be actually the same thing, Apatosaurus was the name that was kept. If Triceratops was discovered before Torosaurus, then the combined genus gets to be named Triceratops.

  4. Heinlein had portable telephones before that, in Space Cadet in 1949 — one of the cadets arriving at the academy has put his in his luggage so his mother can’t reach him through it and smother him.

    Heinlein also showed an answering machine (“telephone robot”, I think he called it, although I could be mis-remembering that part) in Methuselah’s Children in 1941 and gave an example of bad telephone manners through one via the character Bork Manning, in a bit of foreshadowing of what a villain the character turns out to be.

  5. You’re a little off there – Frank Miller is still doing an anti-Al-Qaeda story, as you said – he’s no longer featuring Batman in it, i suspect because Warner Bros isn’t interested in having Miller use their character.

  6. “Fewer and fewer artists want to take on Al-Qaeda for some reason. Imagine that. Add Frank Miller to their numbers now….”

    Actual story:

    […] “It’s almost done; I should be finished within a month,” Miller said. “It’s no longer a DC book. I decided partway through it that it was not a Batman story. The hero is much closer to ‘Dirty Harry’ than Batman. It’s a new hero that I’ve made up that fights Al Qaeda.”

    Miller, best known as the writer and artist of “The Dark Knight Returns,” “300” and “Sin City,” said the story will be set in a place called Empire City that, as the name suggests, evokes New York. The landscape and people are fictional but the real-life Al Qaeda will be transferred to this universe with its name, history and mission intact.

    The book’s title will be shortened to “Holy Terror.”

  7. The delay between the emailed MT VOID and the posted version is *supposed* to be only a few minutes. In actual practice, the issue is mailed Friday morning and often not posted until Monday.

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