Here are 8 developments of interest to fans.
(1) If not for Dr. Martin Luther King, Nichelle Nichols would have abandoned Star Trek and the role of Uhura. Her reminiscence about their encounter is quoted on Dangerous Minds:
“Yes, Ms. Nichols, I am that fan. I am your best fan, your greatest fan, and my family are your greatest fans…. We admire you greatly ….And the manner in which you’ve created this role has dignity….”
I said “Dr. King, thank you so much. I really am going to miss my co-stars.” He said, dead serious, “What are you talking about?” I said, “I’m leaving Star Trek,” He said, “You cannot. You cannot!”
I was taken aback. He said, “Don’t you understand what this man has achieved? For the first time on television we will be seen as we should be seen every day – as intelligent, quality, beautiful people who can sing, dance, but who can also go into space, who can be lawyers, who can be teachers, who can be professors, and yet you don’t see it on television – until now….”
(2) The Locus opinion survey of the best short sf of the 20th and 21st Centuries (asking voters to rank the top novellas, novelettes, and short stories of each) certainly puts Ted Chiang in the spotlight. His fiction came in at the top of the poll in 3 of the 6 categories.
I never expected the results to match my preferences, so I was pleasantly surprised by the Best Novelette (20th Century) category where I agreed with almost everything that finished in the top 10. Though I’d dump “Bicentennial Man” for sure.
10 Best Novelettes from the 20th Century:
- Daniel Keyes, “Flowers for Algernon” (1959)
- Isaac Asimov, “Nightfall” (1941)
- Roger Zelazny, “A Rose for Ecclesiastes” (1963)
- Isaac Asimov, “The Bicentennial Man” (1976)
- George R. R. Martin, “Sandkings” (1979)
- Alfred Bester, “Fondly Fahrenheit” (1954)
- Harlan Ellison, “A Boy and His Dog” (1969)
- Greg Bear, “Blood Music” (1983)
- Octavia E. Butler, “Bloodchild” (1984)
- Tom Godwin, “The Cold Equations” (1954)
(3) David Klaus reports, “Fans are building a full-sized, you-could-walk-in-it model (which even George Lucas himself never built for any film or theme-park attraction) of the Millennium Falcon.”
As Chris Lee explains his project:
This is a quest to build the ultimate Star Wars prop: a 1:1 scale ESB/ANH hybrid Millennium Falcon with complete, correctly scaled interior. Yes, I have completely lost my mind, just like most of my friends and family say. Except for those close Star Wars fan friends, who say “cool, can I help?”.
(4) Corey Kilgannon’s excellent article for the New York Times about bookseller Ben McFall points out that a fine bookstore is about relationships as much as inventory:
Mr. McFall is the dean of the clerks and the institutional memory of the fiction section, where he sorts, prices and shelves hundreds of books a day. And he is often the one pulling books off the shelves for customers….
Back at his stall, he resumed his incessant sorting and culling of books that are carted over nonstop from the buying counter in the rear of the store.
There, the buyers — headed by the Strand’s owner, Fred Bass, 84, whose father, Benjamin Bass, opened the store in 1927 — acquire books all day long and pass all the fiction to Mr. McFall’s book-strewn nook a few shelves away.
“I like this spot because I can hear Fred but he can’t hear me,” the soft-spoken and unflappable Mr. McFall said. “That’s how I like it, because I like to say what I think.” …
Mr. McFall said he had spurned offers to manage other bookstores, and added, “I’m perfectly willing to sell low-end dresses here if it means keeping the Strand in business.”
(5) Thunder Child’s Steve Vertlieb reports recent Rondo Award “Monster Kid Hall Of Fame” recipient George Stover has been has been hospitalized with a life threatening blood clot. “He was admitted to the intensive care unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Baltimore with a blood clot that began in his leg, and then progressed to his lungs. He’s on blood thinners, and is being closely monitored by the hospital staff. George is one of the nicest, most gentle souls you’d ever want to meet. Prayers on his behalf from his friends and admirers around the country would be deeply appreciated.” Vertlieb is running updates on Facebook.
(6) Everyone is sending me the link to the BBC news magazine article about Jim C. Hines. Yes, plenty of sf book covers feature striking or provoctive images of women. And yes, when a bald, pasty-faced, middle-aged white guy assumes the poses one sees women depicted in on some of those book covers, they do look ridiculous. But if he was posing as Miles Vorkosigan or Conan the Barbarian he would look ridiculous, too. So I don’t know that I’d depend on that as a true test of whether the covers are sexist. What has certainly been proved is that he’s a genius at getting people to look at his blog.
(7) James Bacon criticizes the removal of Alan Moore’s Neonomicon comic book series from a North Carolina county library system in a post for Forbidden Planet, a controversy documented by The Guardian in a December article:
“She (my 14-year-old) came into my living room and asked me what a certain word meant, and I said, ‘Honey, where did you hear that word?’ I said, ‘That’s a nasty word. We don’t use that in the house,” mother Carrie Gaske told local news broadcaster WSPA in June. Gaske went on to file a challenge to the novel over its “sexually graphic” images.
Her daughter had borrowed the book from the adult section of the library, using an adult card, according to WSPA. A committee then voted to keep the book on shelves, WSPA reported, but their decision has been overruled by the library’s executive director Beverly James, who “did not feel the book’s content was appropriate for the library system’s collection”.
[Thanks for these links goes out to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter and David Klaus.]
Re: #6, the item about Jim Hines striking ridiculous poses… it’s not an original idea. Only this week, I paid scant attention to something someone was telling me about a comic website or blog where the gag is a cover illustration of Hawkman … but, each time, the male superhero is posed as a female superhero would be. Presumably there’s a lot of arched back, up on toes, bosum thrust out, and making kissy expressions with his lips. One of your other readers may have better recall of the details. But, I wonder if Mr. Hines knows all about this too, and is not above a little creative adaptation?
Jim Hines DID pose like Conan:
“1.) Men on book covers are indeed posed shirtless in ways that show off their musculature. However…
2.) Male poses do not generally emphasize sexuality at the expense of all other considerations.
3.) Male poses do emphasize the character’s power and strength in a way many (most?) female cover poses don’t.
4.) When posed with a woman, the man will usually be in the dominant, more powerful posture.
5.) Male poses do not generally require a visit to the chiropractor afterward.
6.) See also ocelott’s post comparing male and female poses. She comes to pretty much the same conclusions as I did.”
@Taral Wayne: Hines has been doing these poses for a year now–he won a Best Fan Writer Hugo for it–and repeatedly linked to sites like the Broke-Back Pose, Escher Girls, and Boobs Don’t Work That Way that also examine the ridiculous ways women are depicted in various media. It’s a zeitgeist of social commentary, not someone ripping off someone else’s funny idea.
@Rose Fox: No doubt about #3 and #4, but these things are true independent of Jim Hines posing. They aren’t proven or disproven when someone who looks like a regular guy mugs for the camera in a model’s pose.
Hines’ litmus test also presumes that a contorted pose is unartistic, despite the example of acclaimed artworks from ancient times til the last century that invove humans in contorted poses, as I discussed last year in “Why Princesses Need Chiropractors”.
I wouldn’t know how to debate #1 and #2 with somebody who thinks Conan in a pose ala Frazetta is not primarily about male sexuality. Didn’t Charles Atlas teach us that the 98-pound weakling doesn’t get the girl?
Jim Hines won a Best Fan Writer Hugo for posing like girls in front of his webcam? There *has* to be something wrong here.
Seriously, I have no idea how long the Hawkman business has been going on, so who thought it up first, I have no idea. It’s not a contest I’d want to win or be runner-up.
I was under the impression that “The Cold Equations” was a short story. And “the Best of” any kind of list can always be debated, since nothing but Sturgeon Lafferty, Delany, Clarke, Russell and others are not included. The ten best of anything involves picking and chosing from a few hundred on hand and recently recalled stories.
Fans are not known being the type to pose, so I’m glad I missed this one. I did posing for art class, and I’m glad those poloroids haven’t surfaced.
There are a limited number of ways for a single human body to pose. Really really good artists find ways to make this limitation interesting. Tw or three figures increases the dynamics of the picture.
I clicked on the BBC link, and found it kind of bland, as Jim Hines could have done the dramatics without the litter he surrounded himself with, better lighing and he is not wearing a brass bra, as Betsy Wollhiem did so very well many years ago.
There was a cover of The Rocket’s Blast/Comic Collector many years ago which was Freudian as hell: Conan, completely surrounded by dead bodies lying at his feet, holding his sword two-handedly with his arms at full extension downward, the sword pointed slightly upward at an anatomically correct angle, with blood dripping only from the sword’s tip. I was croggled that someone would be that obvious — it was more blatant than even the cover of Conan the Unconquered by Robert Jordan which Mr. Hines uses.
No, but they might require emergency surgery to re-attach a limb.
Back in the late ’70s, in an issue of Mike Grell’s DC comic Warlord, the character was shown hanging from a tree limb with his left hand while swinging his sword upward with his right, with curved lines indicating the intended motion of the sword. The sword was long enough that if you followed the lines, it was clear that the character was about to lop off his own left hand.
Parody romance novel book cover painting of Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day:
I posed for art classes for several years. The one time it was for a photography class project, it was for one person, who was ethical enough to send me the 35 mm negatives and the prints after she was graded.
After an auto accident in 1979, I was in need of cash so I wasn’t bargaining. And not even thinking that “the internet” would ever be, I felt a few snaps of me without clothing would not be the subject of world wide transmission. On the other hand I’m not running for public office.