Snapshots 88 Keys

Here are 9 developments of interest to fans.

(1) Get Those Darned Kids Off My Lawn Department: Famed book dealer Bud Plant sent these thoughts about Comic-Con to his list:

With the change in the kind of crowd that comes to Comic-Con — and the profusion of material to be found at the show — what was for a very long time our most important show has become, frankly, more work that reward. Our customers are frustrated trying to get tickets, or finding hotels they can afford ($200-$300 a night!?), or dealing with aisles and booths jammed with eager young television and film folks who are here for the freebies and the movie stars. Every year we see less of the collectors who once made this show the mecca for any comics or fantasy art fan.

Nonetheless, a great many wonderful artists and friends are here, so it is a tough show for us to walk away from.

It’s even funnier when you realize that the good old days he longs for are when Comic-Con was drawing “only” 50- or 60- thousand people.

(2) “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

If you nevertheless insist on an above-ground hobbit hole, Wooden Wonders has the solution to your problem:

Today, the couple- via their Wooden Wonders family business- are the only ones in the world to sell Hobbit Holes officially licensed with Middle-earth Enterprises. They build these wee shelters as small as chicken coops ($999) and as large as 16-foot diameter, 8-foot 2-inch-high cottages ($15,000 to $20,000 for an insulated version with finished floors, windows and screens).

(3) Enjoy the Jaime Lannister vs. Eddard Stark Lightsaber Battle [YouTube]. As someone said, “An elegant weapon for a more civilized age.”

(4) KC in 2016 bidder Ruth Lichtwardt is posting reminders about the city’s charms. Here’s Joe Posnanski’s comment about the famous barbecue:

Kansas City is not a town you fall in love with on the first day, or even the second. The first thing you discover is probably the barbecue. It’s amazing and it’s everywhere. You walk into Gates the first time, and someone yells, “Hi may I help you?” at you, and maybe you are flustered and order the first thing you see on the menu. A short end. A long end. The sliced beef. The beautiful thing is that it doesn’t matter. It’s all amazing. You go to Arthur Bryant’s, the real one, 18th and Brooklyn, and it looks dingy, and you hear that screen door slam behind you, and you ask what burnt ends are.

I was part of a group of LASFSians intent on visiting Arthur Bryant’s when we were in town for the 1976 Worldcon. We knew Calvin Trillin had praised the food but didn’t know anything else about the restaurant. Aware that in those days some Midwestern places were still a little formal, Allan Rothstein convinced me to call and ask if there was a dress code. The woman who answered said, “Just wear clothes, honey.” We did.

(5) The Language in Science Fiction and Fantasy by Susan Mandala “challenges two widely held but poorly substantiated beliefs circulating about science fiction and fantasy – that they are a) written in plain and unremarkable prose and b) apt to present characters that are flat types rather than fully realised individuals.”  

It would be interesting to know what texts the author has selected to defend sf and fantasy against charges of being prone to offer “characters that are flat types rather than fully realized individuals” because I’d think a hypothetical prosecutor would have no trouble finding hundreds of historic examples to support the charges. Though an enthusiastic sf fan, it used to bother me that hardly anyone in the sf field could match James Michener’s ability to create believable characters – just picking him as a representative bestselling writer. The field has improved dramatically since then, I’m grateful to say.

(6) Fantasy author Joseph Bentz’ five reasons he keeps writing books include the pleasure of making connections with readers:

I spent many years writing my first novel, Song of Fire, creating a world filled with people and places that only I knew. I remember how strange it seemed at first when the book was finally published and readers would ask me about certain scenes and characters. My first thought would always be, how do you know about that? Who told you? I felt as if the person had entered my private realm, almost as if they were walking around in my brain. It was disconcerting at first, but of course it’s the whole idea of writing. As a reader, I can connect not only with living writers, but also with authors who have been dead for decades or centuries. I love the idea that strangers I’ll never meet—including strangers who may read my books after I’m gone—can know me in that way.

(7) In the middle of watching a Japanese anime titled Cat Planet Cuties, Willard Stone was surprised to hear the characters, out of the blue, start singing the praises of the work of American author Edmond Hamilton and Captain Future.

He says, “It is all the stranger that a story featuring cat girls from outer space would refer to serious sci-fi classics.”

I’m glad to see we’re getting rid of these sorts of confining gender roles.

(8) “Trajectory of a Falling Batman” [PDF file] is a physics paper by students at the University of Leicester:

The film Batman Begins shows the character of Batman gliding using a rigid form of his cape. This paper assesses the feasibility of such a glide and finds that while a reasonable distance could be travelled if gliding from a tall building, the speed at which Batman would be travelling would be too dangerous to stop without some method of slowing down.

Spoilsports. But I do admit it’s interesting to see physics students beating Mythbusters to the question.

(9) Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson shines the spotlight on the zine’s revival with a Pick Your Favorite Title Design where fans are asked to choose among the zine’s varied offerings since 1926.

[Thanks for these links goes out to David Klaus, Steven H Silver, Ruth Lichtwardt, and Dan Goodman.]

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6 thoughts on “Snapshots 88 Keys

  1. (7) isn’t odd at all; anime has a long tradition of respecting serious (and not-so-serious) sf classics. Hollywood has done a great job of convincing people there are whole kinds of sf stories that can’t be handled by TV or movies, but anime handles them on a regular basis.

    The most recent episode of one anime series I’m watching introduced a character named Bester and had a very obvious shout-out to Thunderbirds. It also happens to be a sequel to a series where one secondary character was named Dr. Greg Egan, and nicknamed “Bear”.

  2. Regarding SFC, it’s almost mandatory when two or more old comics, anime, or furry fans get together, they instinctively begin to weep over the old days, when a *fan* could get a table and sell his b/w comics and t-shirts. Not anymore… not even if the fan has a fistful of $100 bills he’s willing to part with. Tables are available only on a “who you are” basis these days.

    And there are people who want to do this to the Worldcon?

  3. Ghost in the Shell has an episode with a fairly long sequence in which AI-sentient tanks (“Tachikoma”) discuss the nature of intelligence and refer to Flowers for Algernon in their discussion.

    My jaw hit the floor and I’ve been a fan of the show ever since.

  4. Captain Future is well known in Japan because of a very popular 1978 anime series based on Hamilton’s work.

    The complete series has never been translated into English, but was extremely successful in France, Italy and some Arab countries.

    Supposedly, it’s pretty close to the source material.

    It’s not the only pulp science fiction to become an anime. Lensman was made into a movie as well. That one isn’t very good.

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