Snapshots 68

Here are 11 developments of interest to fans:

(1) I think the headline should have been Project Runeway — see what the designers have done with dwarvish fashions for The Hobbit. I applaud the complaint “Quilty” left in comments:

These guys look like mini-Pharisees from the 70s Jesus Christ Superstar

(2) Haffner Press is about to reacquaint mystery fans with Manly Wade Wellman’s character John Thunstone:

Conceived by Manly Wade Wellman and Weird Tales editor Dorothy McIlwraith in 1943, John Thunstone is a scholar and playboy who investigates mysterious supernatural events…. He is also well-read in occult matters and has access to weapons (such as a sword-cane forged by a saint) that are especially potent against vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures….Thunstone’s most persistent foe is  the diabolical (or whatever) sorcerer Rowley Thorne, a character loosely based on the real occultist Aleister Crowley.

The late Bruce Pelz surely would have bought a copy of The Complete John Thunstone as he was a fan of mysteries and definitely of Manly Wade Wellman’s fantasy fiction.

(3) JG Ballard’s home in Shepperton is being offered by the estate for £320,000.

Many of the country’s best writers, often Ballard’s disciples, visited the author during the 49 years that he lived in this sleepy suburb, where he crafted the dystopian thrillers Crash and Cocaine Nights.

Of meeting Ballard at his home, Martin Amis wrote in 2009: “He told me that ‘Crash freaks’, from, say, the Sorbonne, would visit expecting to find a miasma of lysergic-acid and child abuse. In fact, what they found was a robustly rounded and amazingly cheerful suburbanite.”

The article ends with a final reminder that all glory is fleeting:

Asked whether she felt the property would attract more interest because of its famous occupant, [a] neighbour rather pessimistically replied: “I doubt many people will know who he is.”

(4) Sidney H. Radner recently passed away, the man credited with  preserving some of the most important of Harry Houdini’s props:

…including the “Chinese Water Torture Cell” (a water tank in which Houdini was lowered upside down, his feet chained) and the oversize “Milk Can” he used in a similar escape stunt.

His collection also included lesser items, but for Houdini buffs equally treasured, like the lock picks Houdini hid from his audiences by swallowing them, then regurgitating them, for escapes; cylinder pulleys, key wrenches, latches, levers and tumblers he used in various tricks; and a set of charred handcuffs from the exhibit that was set up in the theater lobby for his shows, advertised by Houdini as “handcuffs used in Spain on prisoners burning to death in 1600!”

…In 2004, he reluctantly sold the 1,000-piece collection at auction for close to $1 million after the museum in Appleton chose not to renew its lease for the items…

Beginning in the 1940s, Mr. Radner was the organizer of the annual Houdini Seance, a tradition started in 1927 by Houdini’s widow, Bess. She and Houdini, a debunker of supernaturalism, had devised a secret code that he promised to use if ever Bess tried to contact him after his death. Bess held a séance on the anniversary of his death for 10 years, then gave up. But Houdini buffs carried on.

(5) Bud Webster says Emily Mah “has posted an excellent follow-up to my recent note at the Black Gate blog about the importance of establishing your literary legacy while you’re still around to make decisions.” 

(6) While biting the hand that feeds you is hardly unusual in the entertainment field, sometimes an iconic television writer’s gripes about the medium’s commercial constraints can be very amusing:

[Rod] Serling fought furiously against censorship and ads, asking how you could write meaningful drama when it was interrupted every 15 minutes by “12 dancing rabbits with toilet paper?”

In one “Twilight Zone,” an inept screenwriter conjures up Shakespeare to help him. The Bard produces a dazzling screenplay but then storms out when the sponsor demands a lot of revisions.

(7) Andrew Wheeler’s “Surveying E-Books” scores various statistics offered to show the market penetration of e-books, sorting the gold from the dross. I also appreciated his deft parting shot:

And, more importantly, it is entirely possible for something new to come along and not destroy existing media — more than possible, it’s common. After all, Broadway — that most old-fashioned of all of our entertainment media — had a possibly-record year in 2010, bringing in $1.037 billion in sales.

(8) It sounds like George R. R. Martin agrees with Terry Bisson’s advice to avoid funny names:

“The best way to handle it, I think, is to avoid naming things gizzuks and smerps, and to run together real words and use them in context in such a way that they’re self-explanatory. Besides, human colonists would never name anything a gizzuk. Thusly I have stories that features windwolves and tree-spooks and rock-cats and plains devils and such.”

(9) Cheryl Morgan mentioned Womanthology, “an anthology graphic novel created entirely by women for Charity. The purpose of the book is to showcase the works of female creators of every age and experience levels.” They are financing the project through Kickstarter.

(10) The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction is to be published online, with the text available free. 

…This initial “beta” version,containing about three-quarters of the total projected content, will be unveiled in conjunction with Gollancz’s celebrations of its 50thanniversary as a science fiction publisher.  

The third edition has been produced by editors John Clute and David Langford, Editor Emeritus Peter Nicholls, and Managing Editor Graham Sleight. Contributing Editors for the third edition include Mike Ashley on magazines, Paul Barnett on artists and illustrators, Jonathan Clements on all aspects of Japanese and Chinese SF, Nick Lowe on movies, Abigail Nussbaum on  television, John Platt on comics, and Adam Roberts on music.

(11) James Bacon has written a review of Strange Adventures, a DC anthology of science fiction which includes a story by Lauren Beukes and another by Paul Cornell set in Saucer Country.

[Thanks for these links goes out to Bud Webster, David Klaus, James Bacon and Andrew Porter.]

3 thoughts on “Snapshots 68

  1. I’m curious about seeing what Haffner Press is going to do, but sadly when I go to their site I don’t see anything about Manly Wade Wellman yet.

  2. Sorry about that. I hope the Haffner Press site will soon be updated with some info about the Wellman books.

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