(1) TYPE FROM THE FEDERATION JOB BOX. [Item by Olav Rokne.] The typography of Star Trek has a more interesting history than I realized.
(2) SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED. On the heels of the Roald Dahl controversy, Variety reports the “James Bond Novels Edited to Remove Racist Content”. The linked article includes examples.
…A report in U.K. newspaper The Telegraph reveals that ahead of the reissue of the Bond novels in April to mark 70 years of “Casino Royale,” the first book in the series, rights holders Ian Fleming Publications Ltd commissioned a review by sensitivity readers.
Each book will carry the disclaimer, “This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace. A number of updates have been made in this edition, while keeping as close as possible to the original text and the period in which it is set,” The Telegraph said….
(3) AHEAD OF ITS TIME. The New Yorker reveals “What a Sixty-Five-Year-Old Book Teaches Us About A.I.” You’ve probably even read this book. I know I did. I just don’t remember anything about it.
…On the other, what’s the point of asking anyone to write anything anymore?
Luckily for us, thoughtful people long ago anticipated the rise of artificial intelligence and wrestled with some of the thornier issues. I’m thinking in particular of Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin, two farseeing writers, both now deceased, who, in 1958, published an early examination of this topic. Their book-the third in what was eventually a fifteen-part series-is “Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine.” I first read it in third or fourth grade, very possibly as a homework assignment….
(4) A QUICK VISIT TO 1963. Sff writers were among those who responded to these questions posed by a student in 1963: “Document: The Symbolism Survey” an article from The Paris Review (2011).
In 1963, a sixteen-year-old San Diego high school student named Bruce McAllister sent a four-question mimeographed survey to 150 well-known authors of literary, commercial, and science fiction. Did they consciously plant symbols in their work? he asked. Who noticed symbols appearing from their subconscious, and who saw them arrive in their text, unbidden, created in the minds of their readers? When this happened, did the authors mind?…
…The answers to the questionnaire were as varied as the writers themselves. Did Isaac Asimov plant symbolism in his work? “Consciously? Heavens, no! Unconsciously? How can one avoid it?” Iris Murdoch sagely advises that “there is much more symbolism in ordinary life than some critics seem to realize.” Ayn Rand wins the prize for concision; addressing McAllister’s example of symbolism in The Scarlet Letter, she wrote, “This is not a definition, it is not true—and, therefore, your questions do not make sense.” Kerouac is a close second; he writes, “Symbolism is alright in ‘Fiction’ but I tell true life stories simply about what happened to people I knew.” The apologies Bruce received from secretaries—including those of John Steinbeck, Muriel Spark, and Ian Fleming—explaining that they were traveling and unable to respond were longer than that.
Science-fiction writers—most notably Fritz Leiber, Lloyd Biggle Jr., Judith Merril, and A. J. Budrys—were the most expansive. Biggle sent a lengthy letter and then, nearly a year later, sent further thoughts. In the second letter, he advised McAllister to read an essay by Mary McCarthy, “Settling the Colonel’s Hash,” saying, “You will not want to do any kind of article on symbolism until you have read [this] … You will find much good material there, as well as an emphatic reinforcement for your viewpoint.” (McCarthy sent the same advice herself.) Judith Merril’s response is heavily mired in linguistics; she offers McAllister a chart to illustrate her semantic overview….
(5) MEMORY LANE.
1968 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
The Beginning for the Scroll this time is from Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight which was published by Ballantine Books in 1968. It won no Awards but “Weyr Search” which is the short story that started off this series won a Hugo at BayCon.
It led me to try to remember decades on just how far I got in that series. I know I got as far as the Harper Hall sub-series which means I got through the first six novels but I don’t remember going any further. For those of you who read deeper, what followed those novels?
I thought those novels were splendid with interesting characters, both human and dragon, and a wonderfully realized setting, though I admit I’ve not revisited it so I don’t know how the Suck Fairy and her steel shod boots would treat them if I was to do so now given I was in my twenties when I last read them, thus over forty years ago.
So now here’s that Beginning…
WHEN is a legend legend? Why is a myth a myth? How old and disused must a fact be for it to be relegated to the category “Fairy-tale”? And why do certain facts remain incontrovertible while others lose their validity to assume a shabby, unstable character?
Rukbat, in the Sagittarian sector, was a golden G-type star. It had five planets, and one stray it had attracted and held in recent millennia. Its third planet was enveloped by air man could breathe, boasted water he could drink, and possessed a gravity that permitted man to walk confidently erect. Men discovered it and promptly colonized it. They did that to every habitable planet, and then—whether callously or through collapse of empire, the colonists never discovered and eventually forgot to ask—left the colonies to fend for themselves.
When men first settled on Rukbat’s third world and named it Pern, they had taken little notice of the stranger-planet, swinging around its adopted primary in a wildly erratic elliptical orbit. Within a few generations they had forgotten its existence. The desperate path the wanderer pursued brought it close to its stepsister every two hundred (Terran) years at perihelion.
When the aspects were harmonious and the conjunction with its sister planet close enough, as it often was, the indigenous life of the wanderer sought to bridge the space gap to the more temperate and hospitable planet.
It was during the frantic struggle to combat this menace dropping through Pern’s skies like silver threads that Pern’s tenuous contact with the mother planet was broken. Recollections of Earth receded further from Pernese history with each successive generation until memory of their origins degenerated past legend or myth, into oblivion.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born February 26, 1908 — Tex Avery. An animator, cartoonist, director and voice actor beyond compare. Without him, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig would not have existed. Avery’s influence can be seen in Animaniacs and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. (Died 1980.)
- Born February 26, 1918 — Theodore Sturgeon. Damn, I hadn’t realized that he’d only written six novels! More Than Human is brilliant and I assumed that he’d written a lot more long for fiction but it was short form where excelled with more than two hundred stories. I did read over the years a number of his reviews — he was quite good at those. (Died 1985.)
- Born February 26, 1921 — Bill Evans. First Fandom member who wrote a number of important works. With Bob Pavlat, Evans edited/published the Evans-Pavlat Fanzine Index during the Fifties, which he followed up with Index of Science Fiction Magazines 1926 – 1948 that Bob Petersen co-wrote. With Francis T. Laney, Evans published Howard Philips Lovecraft (1890-1937): A Tentative Bibliography. His final work was with Ron Ellik, The Universes of E. E. Smith. (Died 1985.)
- Born February 26, 1945 — Marta Kristen, 78. Kristen is best known for her role as Judy Robinson, one of Professor John and Maureen Robinson’s daughters, in the original Lost in Space. And yes, I watched the entire series. Good stuff it was. She has a cameo in the Lost in Space film as Reporter Number One. None of her other genre credits are really that interesting, just the standard stuff you’d expect such as an appearance on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
- Born February 26, 1948 — Sharyn McCrumb, 75. ISFDB lists all of her Ballad novels as genre but that’s a wee bit deceptive as how genre strong they are depends upon the novel. Oh, Nora Bonesteel, she who sees Death, is in every novel but only some novels such as the Ghost Riders explicitly contain fantasy elements. If you like mysteries, highly recommended. Now the Jay Omega novels, Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool are genre, are great fun and well worth reading. They are in print which is interesting as I know she took them out of print for awhile.
- Born February 26, 1958 — Karen Berger, 65. She created the Vertigo imprint at DC, and served as the line’s Executive Editor for a decade. Some of my favorite works there are Fables, Hellblazer, Preacher, 100 Bullets and V for Vendetta. She currently runs Berger Books, an imprint of Dark Horse Comics.
- Born February 26, 1963 — Chase Masterson, 60. Fans are fond of saying that she spent five years portraying the Bajoran Dabo entertainer Leeta on Deep Space Nine which means she was in the background of Quark’s bar a lot. Her post-DS9 genre career is pretty much non-existent save one-off appearances on Sliders, the current incarnation of The Flash and Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, a very unofficial Tim Russ project. She has done some voice work for Big Finish Productions as of late.
- Born February 26, 1965 — Liz Williams, 58. For my money, her best writing by far is her Detective Inspector Chen series about the futuristic Chinese city Singapore Three, its favorite paranormal police officer Chen and his squabbles with Heaven and Hell. I’ve read most of them and recommend them highly. I’m curious to see what else y’all have read of her and suggest that I read.
(7) COMICS SECTION.
- Get Fuzzy has a cat’s attempt to improve on Rodgers & Hammerstein. Doesn’t yours do this?
(8) LISTEN IN. Episode 5 of the Anime Explorations Podcast is “Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family”.
This month, Tora, David, and Alexander kick off the inaugural installment of Fate-uary with a discussion of our background with the franchise, and a look at Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family.
Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family is available for streaming on Crunchyroll: https://www.crunchyroll.com/series/GRP8KG9VR/todays-menu-for-the-emiya-family
The manga is available through RightStuf (Affiliate Link): https://www.shareasale.com/m-pr.cfm?merchantID=65886&userID=1469344&productID=1211531609
(9) KID$ LIT. I’ve owned a lot of these books — not these pricey editions, of course: “The world’s most valuable children’s books” from AbeBooks.
Are the books from your childhood packed in boxes in the basement? Old children’s books can be valuable if they are the right edition in the right condition. And condition is so important when considering children’s literature. Youngsters can love a book too much, reading it again and again, which results in extreme wear and tear. Crayon or pen markings, and torn or lost dust jackets all reduce the value of a book….
The biggest price tag is attached to —
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Top of the pile is The Hobbit – the book that launched the fantasy genre – and we’re talking about the 1,500 first edition copies published in the UK on 21 September 1937 by Allen & Unwin. These copies are hard to find. If you discover one then it’s the equivalent of Bilbo Baggins finding Gollum’s ring in the depths of the goblin mountain. Peter Jackson’s movies and the Amazon Prime series have helped to maintain interest in Tolkien’s work.
Most expensive copy to sell on AbeBooks – a 1937 first edition sold for $65,000 in 2003.
Affordable alternative – The Harry Abrams 1977 deluxe illustrated edition, with artwork from Arthur Rankin Jr and Jules Bass, is gorgeous, and prices range from $90 to $350.
(10) VIDEO GAME MOVIE TRAILER OF THE DAY. “First trailer for Tetris movie could not be more ’80s if it tried” says MSN.com.
Apple has released the first trailer for its movie Tetris, which tells the extraordinary true story of the struggle between Western publishers, Nintendo, and the Soviet Union itself for the rights to Alexey Pajitnov’s classic puzzle game.
Taron Egerton plays Henk Rogers, the gaming entrepreneur who was instrumental in discovering Tetris and securing the console gaming rights, thus enabling its release on Nintendo’s then-revolutionary Game Boy handheld. To do so, he had to negotiate directly with the Soviet regime, since Communist law dictated that the game belonged to the people of the Soviet Union (read: the government) rather than Pajitnov himself. All sorts of Cold War skullduggery ensued….
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Olav Rokne, Daniel Dern, Jennifer Hawthorne, Alexander Case, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]