The opening scenes of Akira tell the story of how Neo Tokyo has surfaced from the ashes, and in Akira we soon meet the characters that will play such importance. The music draws us into the city and the high speed motorbike action that sets viewers up for a science fictional epic. The film was hugely popular, on video in the early Nineties and since has gained a huge following and is recognized as an incredible piece of anime, leading the charge and explosion of manga and anime in Europe.
Stefan Riekeles, head of Riekeles Gallery, in collaboration with the Museum for Architectural Drawing director Nadejda Bartels and co-curated by Hiroko Myokam of Eizo Workshop (Japan) present an incredible selection of imagery for fans of Akira to enjoy and appreciate. With fifty-nine pieces on display in two galleries over two floors, the exhibition is beautifully set out, with a logical layout that allows one to enjoy the art sequentially. The colors and strength of the art represents the background vividness of the film. For speakers of English, all descriptions are in German and English, while language is no real barrier to enjoying the art.
The art is astounding, and while it looks well framed on walls, as one goes closer to consider the media and skill utilized, the art pops out. The dark scenes painted so skillfully that the neon and light works so well. While very static, the images are a delight to see and come in a variety of sizes. It was wonderful to see the layering of cells over background imagery and how scenes which were panned by the camera are drawn at the correct angle and length, the uniformity being that of brilliance, not size or format. The long view of Tokyo, Chantilly Corner where Tetsuo falls in the initial Bike Chase, the alleys and city are all breathless as the art variety demonstrates details and expansiveness. The removal of cells in most cases, the foreground, allows contemplation of the architecture and ingenuity of the art. Pencil concept drawings, layout drawings, imageboards, and of course the backgrounds all add up to give the viewer a very comprehensive and thoughtful view of Neo Tokyo.
Akira, while so well known, is not a subject that is often seen in exhibitions. Riekeles was allowed exclusive access to Studio archives of the artists involved, and these works have not been exhibited before, and it is unclear if they will be again. The art being shown includes works by Akira‘s art director Toshiharu Mizutani and production artists Katsufumi Hariu, Norihiro Hiraki, Shinji Kimura, Satoshi Kuroda, Hiromasa Ogura, Hiroshi Ōno, Hajime Soga, Tsutomu Uchida and Takashi Watabe.
The Tchoban Foundation Museum for Architectural Drawing, is the perfect setting, an unusually beautiful building in a very nice Berlin neighborhood, where coffee shops with street seating are just around the corner. The building is modern and unique, with the ground floor entrance feeling like a library and lounge, spacious, open and welcoming, the staff are excited about fans of the film seeing the work, and keen to share the appreciation of architecture. Set over two floors with a lift between them, as well as the two galleries, there is a small viewing room and one can see clips and identify the use of some of the art.
Riekeles has written a wonderful book which makes for fine accompaniment to the exhibition. Anime Architecture – Imagined Worlds and Endless Megacities by Stefan Riekeles was published by Thames & Hudson in 2020 and was available to view at the Museum. The Riekeles Gallery also has a number of posters and very high-quality prints for sale, limited in number, signed by the artists, on the Riekleles Gallery .
The area nearby is well worth a visit for fans touring in Berlin. The Neo Tokyo bookshop has a huge stockliist of manga and Japanese Culture on Tor Strasse, and, Grober Unfug and Modern Graphics are two comic book and manga shops a few minutes walk away. St. Georges bookshop specializes in English books and has a selection small of mostly second hand science fiction and fantasy. A short two-stop U-Bahn trip away is Black Dog comics, an incredible shop full of American and English European titles and Patrick the owner, is a huge SF film fan who is very engaging.
The Architecture of Neo Tokyo is well worth a visit if you are in Berlin and have an appreciation of Akira.
…This summer, an unexpected candidate in the form of King Randor of Eternia threw his hat or rather his crown in the ring. Now Randor has never been a stellar parents by any means, as chronicled in more than 100 episodes of the original Masters of the Universe cartoon. He not only completely fails to notice that his son Prince Adam is also the superhero He-Man despite the fact that in the original cartoon, He-Man is basically Adam with a tan and his clothes off, but also constantly berates Adam for not being whatever Randor expects from his son….
But this guy does not get the award – in fact, two even worse finalists finished ahead of him. And believe me, this is an extremely entertaining post!
…When Burton found out about his selection as Grand Marshal, he said he was “gobsmacked.” The L.A. resident seemed to have been gravitating toward the role since he was a kid.
This year, the Rose Parade’s theme is “Dream, Believe, Achieve.” The credo strikes a particularly personal chord with Burton.
“[The theme] is almost as if it’s a recipe … for my life. My mother … Erma Jean Christian … I am the man that I am because she was the woman that she was. Education was primarily important to her,” Burton said. “My mother had two careers. First, as a teacher of high school English, and then as a social worker. So the values that she established in our family are all about dreaming your personal dream, whatever that is, and believing that you not only can achieve it but deserve it.”
Dreaming and believing that you deserve that dream, those two steps, said Burton, are necessary for anyone hoping to live out the “Dream, Believe, Achieve” theme….
…Dune in 2021, unchanged in its plot, but imagining an underclass of native people as made up of a smattering of different ethnicities (mostly Brown and Black), embodies what David M. Higgins calls “imperial fantasy” and “alt-victimhood” in his latest book, Reverse Colonization (2021). Higgins describes a genre of reverse colonization narratives in which audiences “who are most often the beneficiaries of empire [are invited] to imagine what it feels like to be on the receiving end of imperial conquest,” provoking audiences to “identify as colonized victims.” It’s hardly surprising, then, that white supremacists have long cathected to Frank Herbert’s Dune, and white nationalists — a group that feels threatened by the presence of people of color, and increasingly aggrieved and attacked by liberal pushes to address systemic racism — have eagerly anticipated Villeneuve’s latest adaptation. As Jordan Carroll succinctly sums up: “Fascists love Dune.” Suddenly, the privileged chosen one — the imperialist who is also the Christ figure — becomes the suffering victim deserving of sympathy. In this way, identification with victimhood becomes a seductive imperial fantasy for the most privileged in society, what Higgins terms “alt-victimhood.”…
… In this mode, a revisit of another 1984 film about a similar ecodystopian future can uncover a more radical and historically grounded politics apt for our contemporary moment. Hayao Miyazaki’s early animated film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) drew inspiration from the fantasy world of Herbert’s Dune and shares uncanny similarities with the Dune film adaptations: where Dune has giant sandworms, Nausicaä has the Ohmu; where Dune has desert, Nausicaä the Sea of Decay; Dune the Harkonnens, Nausicaä the Tolmekians. Instead of yet another imperially appointed master, in Nausicaä, the people are led by a daring princess, one who leads by example and is beloved by her people; one who resists imperial expansionists, but not at the cost of her own people; and most importantly, one who radically chooses nonviolent action against all possible defense of rational violence, and eventually achieves harmony through cooperation and understanding.
Ursula K. Le Guin once said that “[t]o use the world well, to be able to stop wasting it and our time in it, we need to relearn our being in it.” Crucially, Nausicaä imagines a new way of being in the world by radically reframing our relation to it and our understanding of it. Instead of a desert, the inhospitable environment in Nausicaä is known as the Sea of Decay. But far from a dying and deadened milieu, the Sea of Decay is in fact brimming with life….
After the difficulties of 2020 – in which we were all really grateful for the ability to stream and watch at home – 2021 has been an odd blend of lockdown and modified freedom. Scotland Loves Anime (and its regional offshoots) triumphantly brought live audiences back to the cinema. Funimation has managed to have anime screenings in many local cinemas. As for the world of streaming and simulcast, in August we had the official confirmation that Sony’s Funimation Global Group had acquired Crunchyroll. How this will all pan out for viewers/subscribers remains to be seen. Earlier, Manga Entertainment became Funimation UK, bringing an end to a famous label and uniting streaming, home video and cinema releases under the same name.
With all these changes, how has the anime-viewing experience been for the fans? Has there been too much material available on streaming services ranging from Netflix and Amazon Prime to dedicated companies like Crunchyroll and Funimation, leading to a dip in quality? Our writers have been looking back at their favourites from 2021 and are here to share their thoughts. Let us know what your ’21 favourite have been too!
The NYPL Systemwide (the Bronx, Manhattan & Staten Island)
The Vanishing Half: A Novel by Brit Bennett
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Klara and the Sun: A Novel by Kazuo Ishiguro
A Promised Land by Barack Obama
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
The Guest List: A Novel by Lucy Foley
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist,Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
The Other Black Girl: A Novel by Zakiya Dalila Harris
Malibu Rising: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1967 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty-four years ago, “The Trouble with Tribbles” first aired on NBC as written by David Gerrold and directed by Joseph Pevney, with some of the guest cast being Charlie Brill as Arne Darvin, Stanley Adams as Cyrano Jones, Whit Bissell as Station Manager Lurry, Michael Pataki as Korax.
Memory Alpha says ”Wah Chang designed the original tribbles. Hundreds were sewn together during production, using pieces of extra-long rolls of carpet. Some of them had mechanical toys placed in them so they could walk around.”
Memory Alpha also notes Heinlein had Martian flat cats in The Rolling Stones that were similar to these and Roddenberry called to apologize for these being so similar. My understanding is that they brought the issue to Heinlein’s attention and asked for permission to continue. To their surprise, he granted it in exchange for a signed copy of the episode’s script.
(I know that Heinlein’s authorized biography contradicts this story. Really contradicts this story.)
It would come in second in the Hugo balloting at BayCon to “The City on the Edge of Forever” written by Harlan Ellison. All five final Hugo nominees at BayCon were Trek episodes written by Jerome Bixby, Norman Spinrad and Theodore Sturgeon.
David Gerrold wrote a book on his experiences in the creation of this episode, The Trouble with Tribbles: The Birth, Sale and Final Production of One Episode. He did a children’s book as well, Too Many Tribbles!.
There would be two more Trek stories done with Tribbles. “More Tribbles, More Troubles”, the fifth episode of the first season of the animated series riffed off them. And of course Deep Space Nine would revisit the story in “Trials and Tribble-ations” which blended seamlessly footage from the original episode with new video including the Charlie Brill character. It, too, would be nominated for a Hugo, this time at LoneStarCon 2. (Babylon 5’s “Severed Dreams” won.)
Tribbles have been also seen in other Trek episodes and films, including The Search for Spock and the rebooted Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. They also appeared in Enterprise’s “The Breach”. Phlox uses them as food for his creatures in sickbay. Which is either truly disgusting or really appropriate given how prolific they are. Or both.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 29, 1901 — William H. Ritt. US cartoonist and author, whose best known strip, Brick Bradford, was SF. Two of the early Thirties strips, Brick Bradford and the City Beneath the Sea and Brick Bradford with Brocco the Mountain Buccaneer, became Big Little books. In 1947, Brick Bradford, a 15-chapter serial film starring Kane Richmond, was produced by Columbia Pictures. (Died 1972.)
Born December 29, 1912 — Ward Hawkins. Alternative universes! Lizard men as sidekicks! He wrote the Borg and Guss series (Red Flaming Burning, Sword of Fire, Blaze of Wrath and Torch of Fear) which as it features these I really would like to hear as audiobooks. Not that it’s likely as I see he’s not made it even to the digital book realm yet. (Died 1990.)
Born December 29, 1928 — Bernard Cribbins, 93. He has the odd distinction of first showing up on Doctor Who in the Peter Cushing as The Doctor non-canon Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. film. He would show up in the canon when he appeared as Wilfred Mott in the Tenth Doctor story, “Voyage of the Damned”, and he‘s a Tenth Doctor companion himself in “The End of Time”, the two-part 2009–10 Christmas and New Year special.
Born December 29, 1963 — Dave McKean, 58. If you read nothing else involving him, do read the work done by him on and Gaiman called The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch: A Romance. Brilliant, violent, horrifying. Well and Signal to Noise by them is worth chasing down as well.
Born December 29, 1966 — Alexandra Kamp, 55. Did you know one of Sax Rohmer’s novels was made into a film? I didn’t. Well, she was the lead in Sax Rohmer’s Sumuruwhich Michael Shanks also shows up in. She’s also in 2001: A Space Travesty with Leslie Nielsen, and Dracula 3000 with Caspar van Dien. Quality films neither will be be mistaken for, each warranting a fifteen percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
Born December 29, 1969 — Ingrid Torrance, 52. A very busy performer who’s had one- offs in Poltergeist: The Legacy, The Sentinel, Viper, First Wave, The Outer Limits, Seven Days, Smallville, Stargate: SG-1, The 4400, Blade: The Series, Fringe, The Tomorrow People, R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour and Supernatural.
Born December 29, 1972 — Jude Law, 49. I think his first SF role was as Jerome Eugene Morrow in Gattaca followed by playing Gigolo Joe in A.I. with my fave role for him being the title role in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He was Lemony Snicket in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Tony in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Dr. John Watson in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Remy in Repo Men and he voiced Pitch Black in one of my favorite animated films, Rise of the Guardians.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro finds an unexpected pocket of resistance to the theory of evolution.
(10) BEST PICS OF 2021. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] From Nature’s end-of-year edition, “Images of the year.”
This one is of a 40-million-year-old gnat in amber. Photographed by Levon Biss and it got an honourable mention in the 2021 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition. If it were over a score of million years older, then shades of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park!
My personal topical favourite of the year, which I downloaded in case I ever needed it for a talk, is a computer simulation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This is also a .gif and an animation. Alas, I forget the source (it was one of the papers we covered in SF2 Concatenation CoVID coverage during the year) but it is quite a nifty simulation showing spike movement. This jiggling helps enable it to lock on to human cell membrane proteins giving it access to the cell. To see it, click here.
(11) OVERDUE BOOK. For your Fifties viewing pleasure: The Man From 1997, an episode of the Conflict anthology TV series aired in 1956. In the episode, Charles Ruggles portrays an elderly time-traveling librarian from the future attempting to retrieve a 1997 almanac that he mistakenly left 41 years before it is supposed to exist. I loved one of the comments somebody left – “Damn he from 1997 and he didn’t even ask them if he can smoke in their house.”
The cast also includes actor James Garner. Wikipedia says he caught producer Roy Huggins’ attention with a comedic performance as a gambler in the episode, Huggins to cast Garner as the lead the following year in his television series Maverick, according to Huggins’ Archive of American Television interview.
The luxurious “commemorative egg objet” was sold to an anonymous U.S. buyer in April shortly after its announcement and before the nine months of painstaking work was begun by Fabergé workmaster Paul Jones and his team of artisans, global sales director Josina von dem Bussche-Kessell told The Hollywood Reporter….
(13) STILL THINKING ABOUT THEM.New York Times opinion columnist Ezra Klein tweeted a list of recommended books from 2021, and several are sff. Thread starts here.
…And Brin has put a lot of work into thinking about how intelligent creatures with completely different mindsets might work together, especially with the undertones of slavery and colonialism which are the foundation of the series. I really enjoyed revisiting it. Where “Blood Music” is “My God! What if…”, Startide Rising is sensawunda reflecting contemporary debates (as always).
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio set his verbal phasers on “stun” with a shocking display of Star Trek ignorance at a press conference, falsely identifying his uniform and making a complete hash out of Starfleet’s Prime Directive.
The shameful display occurred during a lengthy press conference at which the mayor covered a variety of topics, including having a safe Halloween.
As State Senator Kevin Parker completed his presentation on highspeed broadband, de Blasio appeared onscreen sporting a blue Starfleet shirt with a science department badge and command insignia, an obvious tribute to Commander S’chn T’gai Spock — or Mr. Spock to humans, and Dr. Spock to confused Boomers….
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Method Actor Tutorial” on Screen Rant. Ryan George plays Kurt Truffle, method actor. Truffle knew he would be a method actor because as a kid, he’d object to losing duck duck goose by speaking in goose language, so the other kids couldn’t understand him. Truffle claims that method actors can be jerks on the set and in life because method actors will do what it takes to stay in character.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, StephenfromOttwa, Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day – no, wait, it’s OGH!]
(1) FAN HISTORY PROJECT ZOOM SERIES RESTARTS. Fanac.org is resuming their Fan History Project Zoom series this month. They’ll begin by interviewing Juanita Coulson on September 25 at 2:00 Eastern (11:00 a.m. Pacific, 7:00 p.m. in London). For reservations, send an RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. See the rest of the Zoom FanHistory schedule here.
Juanita Coulson on fandom, filkdom, fanzines, Star Trek and other aspects of her life in fandom.
Juanita Coulson has been a marathon fanzine editor, a mainstay of the filk community, and a professional writer. She’s a little bit larger than life, and among other honors, has been a DUFF winner (2014), a Hugo winner (1965), Worldcon Fan GoH (1972), NASFiC GoH (2010), Filk Hall of Fame inductee (1998) and a Big Heart Award winner (2012). Juanita has been widely known in filk music circles since the 1950s for both her singing and her songwriting, and was instrumental in establishing filk as a part of SF conventions.
For thirty-three years, she co-edited the fanzine Yandro with her husband Buck, publishing a massive 259 issues. Yandro was nominated for a Hugo Award every year for ten years in a row, from 1958–1967. It won the award in 1965, thus making Juanita Coulson one of the very first women editors to be so honored.
Juanita’s first novel, Crisis on Cheiron, came out in 1967.
In this zoom history discussion, expect stories of 60+ years of fandom, how Juanita beat the steam boat whistle at NaSFic, mimeography, her Star Trek fanzines, and maybe even a song or two.
… In his writings, Wells conveyed a plethora of futuristic prophecies, from space travel to genetic engineering, from the atomic bomb to the world wide web. There was no other fiction writer who saw into the future of humankind as clearly and boldly as he did.
Were he to have been alive at the very end of the 20th century, what would he have made of that world? I am especially curious to know what he would have thought about the unbridled optimism characteristic of the era, an optimism shared by liberal politicians, political scientists and Silicon Valley alike. The rosy conviction that western democracy had triumphed once and for all and that, thanks to the proliferation of digital technologies, the whole world would, sooner or later, become one big democratic global village. The naive expectation that, if you could only spread information freely beyond borders, people would become informed citizens, and thus make the right choices at the right time. If history is by definition linear and progressive – if there is no viable alternative to liberal democracy – why should you worry about the future of human rights, or rule of law, or freedom of speech or media diversity? The western world was regarded as safe, solid, stable. Democracy, once achieved, could not be disintegrated. How could anyone who had tasted the freedoms of democracy ever agree to discard it to the winds?
Fast forward, and today this dualistic way of seeing the world is shattered….
Cancel culture. (Circling back to “culture”.) Despise this phrase. Just. Simply. Despise. Another example of “cultural appropriation”, largely pulled out on Twitter by the right, again, to describe being deleted from Twitter for trolling and spreading theories about nanobots in vaccines. A popular song is given the prize for its origin in what is called “African-American Vernacular English” (Wiki). Sound familiar? (See “woke” above).
This Device has been spotted in numerous science-fiction movies and tv shows. It is the ultimate re-used prop, and there is not a single of its numerous appearances where its purpose would be explained or hinted at. The prop is described as “dual generators with rotating neon lights inside an acrylic tube; light-controlled panel with knobs and buttons.” or simply as “blinking tubes without function”. The first time we see it is in the Regula lab in “Star Trek II Wrath of Khan”. They are also visible in the Enterprise-A’s shuttlebay in “Star Trek V” They also appear in a number of Star Trek Episodes…. The tubes appear in other science fiction series and movies as well, such as “V” (the 1983 miniseries), “The Last Starfighter”. “The Incredible Hulk Returns” (1988 TV movie), “The Flash: The deadly Nightshade” (1990) , “Star Crystal” 1986 “Alien Nation”, as well as “Airplane II” (with William Shatner, who would again encounter it in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier which he directed and starred in. It also appeared in “Lois & Clark” episode 2×08 with Denise Crosby.
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1952 – Sixty-nine years ago on this evening, the Adventures of Superman first aired in syndication. It was syndicated by Motion Pictures for Television, now known as Warner Bros. Television. It was developed by Whitney Ellsworth, DC Golden Age editor and writer, and Robert Maxwell, best known by acquiring the rights to what became Lassie and becoming very wealthy by doing so. Primary cast were George Reeves playing Clark Kent/Superman, with Jack Larson as Jimmy Olsen, Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane and John Hamilton as Perry White. It would last six seasons totaling one hundred four episodes. Half were in color, half weren’t. Reception was generally was quite positive with Variety noting that the “Filming is top-notch.” The suicide of George Reeves led to the end of the series. And yes, I know the conspiracy theories that he didn’t shoot himself.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 19, 1911 — William Golding. Though obviously best known for the Lord of The Flies novel, I’m more intrigued by the almost completed novel found in draft after his death,The Double Tongue which tells the story of the Pythia, the priestess of Apollo at Delphi. (Died 1993.)
Born September 19, 1922 — Damon Knight. Author, editor, critic. Kate Wilhelm who was his wife is also regrettably no longer with us either. His 1950 short story, “To Serve Man” was adapted for The Twilight Zone. His first story, “The Itching Hour,” appeared in the Summer 1940 number of Futuria Fantasia which was edited and published by Ray Bradbury. It’s hard to briefly sum up his amazing genre career but let me note he was a member of the Futurians and and a reviewer as well as a writer. Novels of his I’ll single out are Hell’s Pavement, The Observers and Special Delivery but don’t think I’m overlooking his brilliant short stories. The Encyclopedia of SF notes that “In 1995, he was granted the SFWA Grand Master Award – which from 2002 became formally known, in his honour, as the Damon Knight Grand Master Award. He was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2003.” (Died 2002.)
Born September 19, 1928 — Adam West. Best known as Batman on that classic Sixties series, he also appeared in 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars as Colonel Dan McReady. He last played the role of Batman by voicing him in two animated films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. He also played The Gray Ghost in an episode of the Kevin Conroy voiced Batman: The Animated Series, “Beware the Gray Ghost”. (Died 2017.)
Born September 19, 1933 — David McCallum, 88. His longest running, though not genre, role is pathologist Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on NCIS where he appeared in every episode of the first fifteen seasons. Genre wise, he was Illya Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and the British series Sapphire & Steel where he was Steel and Joanna Lumley was Sapphire. He played the lead in a short-lived U.S. version of The Invisible Man. He was Dr. Vance Hendricks on Babylon 5’s “Infection” episode.
Born September 19, 1936 — Hilary Bailey. Co-writer of The Black Corridor novel with Michael Moorcock, to whom she was married at the time. She wrote four other genre novels, and a double handful of short fiction. She edited three issues of the Seventies New Worlds anthology with Charles Platt. (Died 2017.)
Born September 19, 1947 — Tanith Lee. I hadn’t realized that she wrote more than ninety novels and three hundred short stories in her career. She even wrote two of the Blake’s 7 episodes as well. I am more fond of her work for children such as The Dragon Hoard and The Unicorn Series than I am of her adult work. She has garnered Stoker and World Fantasy Awards for Lifetime Achievement. (Died 2015.)
Born September 19, 1952 — Laurie R. King, 69. She’s on the Birthday Honors list for the Mary Russell series of historical mysteries, featuring Sherlock Holmes as her mentor and later partner. Hey it’s at least genre adjacent. She’s also written at least one genre novel, Califia’s Daughters.
Born September 19, 1972 — N. K. Jemisin, 49. Her most excellent BrokenEarth series has made her the only author to have won the Hugo for Best Novel in three consecutive years. Her “Non-Zero Probabilities” was nominated for the Best Short Story losing out to Will McIntosh‘s “Bridesicle” at Aussiecon 4. “Emergency Skin” I’m pleased to note won the Best Novelette Hugo at CoNZealand. Yeah I voted for it.
(8) NEW MESSAGE. In the Washington Post, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Julia Mio Isuma profile Mamoru Hosada, director of Belle, an anime whose message of “female empowerment” is designed to be contrasted with the message in many anime and manga that “often portrays women as weak, vacuous, and hypersexualized.” “In Japan’s anime world, ‘Belle’ creates rare space for female power”.
Dune director/co-writer Denis Villeneuve exclusively breaks down the pivotal Gom Jabbar test scene featuring Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam (Charlotte Rampling). Dune opens in the US on October 22, October 21 in the UK and in Australia on December 2, 2021.
(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says the second Percy Jackson film is just as loosely connected to the original novels as the first film, and features a prophecy that the producer skips over because it’s just like every other prophecy in a YA movie, a son of Poseidon who gets seasick, and a brother of Percy Jackson who is a Cyclops but wears sunglasses which mean his single eye is covered by the bridge of the glasses.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, Craig Miller, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) SHIPPING NEWS. The New York Times tells how “’Ships of the Northern Fleet,’ a crowdsourced sci-fi project, navigated from TikTok all the way to the convention circuit,” in “The Show Is Fake. The Fandom Is Real.”
…Maybe you remember it, too — but it’s much more likely that you don’t. That’s because “Ships of the Northern Fleet” isn’t real. It’s fabricated. Fake. A nonexistent TV series.
Its fan base, however, very much exists. “Fleeters,” as they’re known, congregate on Discord and TikTok to talk about their favorite “memories” of the adventures of the ship crews of the Four Fleets. Popular discussion topics include the Cog Hogs, small clockwork hedgehogs that are cuter than the Porgs of “Star Wars” fame, and the majestic Sky Whales, giant beasts who flew in the sky next to the pirates’ soaring airships.
Fans debate the merits of the ships’ various captains, including Captain Neil Barnabus (the leader of the True Winds fleet, named after the fantasy writer Neil Gaiman) and Captain George Hellman (who is “played” by Nathan Fillion, a fixture of the sci-fi genre; he wrote in an email that though he hadn’t heard of the show, he is “all for it”).
So, how exactly did “Ships of the Northern Fleet” come into semi-existence? It started, like so many other dramatic arcs online, with a throwaway post on social media.
A Show Is Born
In early February, in a video on TikTok, the video game writer Tyler James Nicol encouraged his viewers to “participate in a hallucinatory experience” by sharing their favorite memories and moments from a show “that will and has never existed,” and that, according to the proposed imaginary construct, had been canceled before its time.
The fake “steampunk sky pirate show,” would be called “Ships of the Northern Fleet” after the name of a novel that Mr. Nicol, 36, had once planned to write.
He never got around to the manuscript, but he did have the title, a TikTok account and an idea to crowdsource its plot and fictional lore.
It took off quickly. Mr. Nicol, Mx. Osborn and four others — Patrick Loller, Erik Tait, Gary Hampton and Logan South — connected on TikTok and started streaming together on Twitch, where they performed improv in character, riffing on questions fans asked them via chat about “working” on the show.
Enthusiasts banded together to create a subreddit, a Discord server and a wiki with over 300 entries. They’ve also produced fan art, songs and a “Ships” tabletop game. There’s knockoff merchandise out there, too, though fans can buy “real” merch from Mr. Nicol; he donates all his earnings from those sales to the Trevor Project….
During his lifetime, the celebrated Czech Jewish author Franz Kafka penned an array of strange and gripping works, including a novella about a man who turns into a bug and a story about a person wrongly charged with an unknown crime. Now, almost a century after the acclaimed author’s death, literary lovers can view a newly digitized collection of his letters, manuscripts and drawings via the National Library of Israel’s website.
As Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports, the collection contains around 120 drawings and more than 200 letters owned by Max Brod, a friend and fellow writer who served as Kafka’s literary executor. Instead of destroying the author’s papers as he had requested, Brod chose to publish and preserve them….
For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of four books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.
Slay by Nicole Givens Kurtz
Talk Like a Man by Nisi Shawl
Dominion by Zelda Knight and Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki
The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan by Zig Zag Claybourne
If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular books, plus six more books and a fiction album! That’s a total of 11!
New Worlds, Old Ways edited by Karen Lord
Queen of Zazzau by J.S. Emuakpor
Baaaad Muthaz by Bill Campbell, David Brame and Damian Duffy
How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend by Linda D. Addison
Reenu-You by Michele Tracy Berger
Frequencies by Tenea D. Johnson
Afro Puffs Are the Antennae of the Universe by Zig Zag Claybourne
(4) FROM SCOTLAND TO THE BORGO PASS. At CrimeReads, Laurie R. King profiles Emily Gerard, whose travels in Transylvania provided Bram Stoker with a lot of inspiration and ideas when he was writing Dracula – “The Scottish Anthropologist Who Inspired Dracula”.
… When she was in her thirties, mother of two young sons, her husband took up a position in the far corner of Transylvania. Gerard was a writer by this time, having published stories, reviews, and a few novels in collaboration with her sister, so her imagination was roused by this fascinating and utterly unknown part of the world. Apparently fearless—“Nonsense!” she says, when her young son urges her to take her revolver on a solitary trek—and fluent in several languages, she would merrily set off on an “easy” walk (“not more than two hours off”) to a spot on a map far from any road, or to a ragged tent she’d spotted on waste-land. There she would watch, and listen, and ask all manner of questions about the work, beliefs, rituals, and lives of the residents.
From these experiences, Gerard wrote an essay on “Transylvanian Superstitions,” which was accepted for publication in one of Britain’s most widely respected journals….
Friend of the podcast Liz Gorinsky arrives to share her experiences as an editor, from her early days of reading comic books, to her work at Tor.com, and finally starting Erewhon Books. Mary Anne and Ben inquire about the technical and career aspects of editing, as well as the importance of grappling with their internal editor in their own writing process.
…Jurassic World: Dominion is finally ramping up its larger-than-life marketing campaign with an extended preview that will play before IMAX screenings of F9 (out in North America Friday, June 25)….
Described as “a prologue” to the main story, the 5-minute sneak peek is set 65 million years ago in the Cretaceous period when…*clears throat*…DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH. Mr. DNA is on vacation, but Michael Giacchino’s score will be there to guide viewers through the origin story of a lone mosquito that decides to slurp up some tasty dino-blood. The release also promises (count em’) SEVEN new species never before glimpsed within the Jurassic franchise. And just before you think it’s all over, the preview excavates “some real trademark Jurassic surprises with dinosaurs later roaming an Earth that is decidedly less theirs alone,” reads the synopsis.
(7) GRAYSKULL IS BACK. Netflix dropped a trailer forKevin Smith’s Masters Of The Universe: Revelation.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 10, 1955 — On this day in 1955, This Island Earth premiered in New York City. It was produced by William Alland, and directed by Joseph M. Newman and Jack Arnold. It Jeff Morrow, Faith Domergue and Rex Reason. It was based on the novel by Raymond F. Jones, which was first published in the Thrilling Wonder Stories as three novelettes: “The Alien Machine” in the June 1949 issue, “The Shroud of Secrecy” in December 1949 issue, and “The Greater Conflict” in February 1950 issue. Critics in general loved it, it did very well at the box office but currently the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a not great forty-four percent rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 10, 1918 — Barry Morse. He was Prof. Victor Bergman on Space: 1999, a show I never did quite cotton to, and he also appeared on the Twilight Zone , Outer Limits,The Invaders, TekWar, The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury Theater, Space Island One, Memory Run, The Shape of Things to Come and The Return of Sherlock Holmes. (Died 2008.) (CE)
Born June 10, 1918 – Frank Hamilton. He didn’t invent the Shadow, or Doc Savage, but he illustrated them excellently. Here is an FH Shadow on the cover of Frank Eisgruber’s Gangland’s Doom; here is the FH cover for a Doc Savage tribute; both with lots of interiors. Here is a note from ThePulp.net with a 1982 FH self-portrait; here is a note from “The Shadow” wiki. Find, if you can, his Amazing Pulp Heroes (with Link Hullar’s text). (Died 2008) [JH]
Born June 10, 1922 – Judy Garland. For us this star shines in the MGM Wizard of Oz (Thorpe, Fleming, Vidor dirs. 1939) – winning her only Academy Award. I love the Oz Frank Baum wrote; in the MGM version much is right, and otherwise, as a law-school professor of mine said – of a major figure with whom he disagreed vigorously – There is a sense in which a genius can’t be wrong. The rest of JG’s career was such a tragedy because there too she earned such glory. (Died 1969) [JH]
Born June 10, 1928 — Maurice Sendak. In Seattle many years ago, I saw the painted flats he did for The Nutcracker. Truly stunning. Of course, he’s known for Where the Wild Things Are which I think is genre adapted into other media including a film by Spike Jonze. In the Night Kitchen might be genre and it is often on Banned Books lists. (Died 2012.) (CE)
Born June 10, 1935 – Tatsumi Yoshiro. (Personal name last, Japanese style.) He coined gekiga for a development of manga he preferred; see here. I can’t go along with calling it more realistic, or saying that’s better – I had this quarrel with people when Watchmen first appeared – but Tatsumi-san was a genius, and we could stand knowing more about SF and related art of Japan. Here is the cover for his memoir of 1945-1960 A Drifting Life (English version); here is a Wikipedia article about it; here is an article about gekiga and manga; here is an article in the Lambiek Comiclopedia with panels showing his work. (Died 2015) [JH]
Born June 10, 1937 — Luciana Paluzzi, 84. She is best known for playing SPECTRE assassin Fiona Volpe in Thunderball. She also appeared in Hercules as Iole’s maid, The Green Slime as Doctor Lisa Benson, Captain Nemo and the Underwater City as Mala and The Six Million Dollar Man: The Solid Gold Kidnapping as Contessa DeRojas. (CE)
Born June 10, 1951 — Charles Vess, 70. If you ever need a crash course in learning about his art, go find a copy of Drawing Down the Moon: The Art of Charles Vess which lavishly covers his career up to about a decade ago. I’ve got a personally signed copy here along with lots of his artwork. He’s had interesting career including the Spider-Man: Spirits of the Earth graphic novel that he wrote and illustrated. I strongly recommend the illustrated version of Stardust he did as it’s amazing. (CE)
Born June 10, 1952 — Kage Baker. I never met her but we had a decade-long conversation via email and once in a while via phone. We were supposed to write a Company concordance for Golden Gryphon but she got too ill for it to happen. Harry the Space Raptor is now living with her sister Katheleen. The two of them were also frequent attenders of Ren Faires were they set up a tavern (John Hertz knew her that way) and sold various ales. Kage had a deep fascination with Elizabethan English and Harry Flashman as well who she incorporated into her novels effectively. (Died 2010.)(CE)
Born June 10, 1953 – Don Maitz, age 68. Two hundred thirty covers, a hundred twenty interiors from this luckily prolific artist; two Hugos, one Worldcon committee special award, eight Chesleys; World Fantasy award; Society of Illustrators Silver Medal. Two artbooks, First Maitz (he created the image of Captain Sir Henry Morgan 1635-1688 for Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum) and Dreamquests; two sets of DM Fantasy Art Trading Cards. Guest of Honor at Boskone 18, Lunacon 28, Loscon 19, Minicon 49, Balticon 27, and Lonestarcon 2 the 55th Worldcon. Here is his cover (with his wife Janny Wurts) for The Darkest Road. Here is his cover for his Worldcon’s Souvenir Book. [JH]
Born June 10, 1962 – Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, M.D., Ph.D. Author, physician, Professor of Medicine. Two hundred books in both Egyptian and Classical Arabic; also in Web-based magazines. Refaat Ismael of his Beyond Nature series is a retired bachelor doctor with a sarcastic attitude who keeps having paranormal adventures. In Utopia Egyptians live in a dystopian and utopian (or as I should say cacotopian and eutopian) society separated by walls. Cheryl Morgan interviewed AKT in Locus 614. (Died 2018) [JH]
Born June 10, 1964 — Andrew M. Niccol, 57. Screenwriter / producer / director who wrote and produced one of my favorite genre films, The Truman Show. The film won him a Hugo at Aussiecon Three. He also involved in Gattaca, The Terminal, In Time, The Host, The Minutes short videoand Anon. Sort of genre adjacent is that he‘s been announced as the screenwriter for a live version of the Monopoly game but it still in development. Personally I think it’s in the games section of The Library in The Dreaming. (CE)
Born June 10, 1986 – Amanda Havard, age 35. In The Survivors and two sequels Sadie Matthau searches for answers about her family who survived the Salem witch trials through supernatural abilities; on an Immersedition interactive book application are AH’s original music, and maps, photos, background, commentary; a syndication at Wattpad.com has had 5 million readers. Independent Publisher’s Editor’s Choice award, eLit bronze medals for Fantasy – Science Fiction and Young Adult. [JH]
It’s a happy day on both Earth and the off-world colonies alike, at least for high-level replicants who haven’t been “retired” yet. That’s because today, June 10, 2021, is the date repeatedly shown in Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049as the birth date of the miracle replicant messiah baby conceived by Nexus-7 replicant Rachael and Blade Runner Rick Deckard (who is also probably a replicant). The birth should’ve been impossible, because replicants are definitely just pieces of machinery who don’t have thoughts or feelings of their own and shouldn’t be capable of having children, because then it would be harder to argue that they’re not normal people and humans might start feeling bad for how they treat them (humans are the worst). That’s what makes this miracle messiah baby so important to the distinctly Jared Leto-like creep Niander Wallace, who wants to use the miracle baby to figure out how he can make more miracle babies and satiate his enormous god-complex…. but that hasn’t happened yet, because it’s still only 2021….
…In an interview in the late ’70s, the former Marvel editor-in-chief was asked about his competition at DC Comics. Without hesitation, Lee said “bless their little innocent hearts,” before admitting that they had “fun with them” after they started selling more comics. According to Lee, DC studied Marvel’s covers in an effort to try to emulate their success. Lee said DC noticed the use of red on their comics and started doing their own red covers. He added DC did the same thing with dialogue on the covers. In response, Marvel took “all the red” and dialogue off their covers, which Lee revealed still led to their books still selling better. Lee said it drove DC “crazy.” (Lee’s answer begins around the 8-minute mark of the YouTube video below)….
Sumner welcomes the world’s greatest living fantasy author, Michael Moorcock, to Hard Agree for the first in an ongoing series of conversations about Michael’s life and work. In this debut episode, Sumner & Moorcock discuss Michael’s parents, his Dad’s regard for Arthur C Clarke, completing the latest Elric of Melniboné novel (due for release in Fall 2022), the beginnings of Jerry Cornelius, Michael’s great friendship with feminist author Andrea Dworkin – and they begin a discussion of Michael’s wild ride through Hollywood that will roll into our next episode.
…See, story services like this are based off of similar setups that come from Asia that started with mangas. And from a business perspective, they’re designed to be explotative.
See, the idea is that the site itself exists to gather as many content creators as possible and then create a microcosm of a “free market,” where everyone is competing with everyone else. Except it’s not really that “free” since it’s controlled by a single entity who runs the service. And they can therefore manipulate how it functions to their advantage.
And oh, do they ever. These services are designed to maximize their profits … at the expense of those who flood them with content.
For instance, there’s an upper limit on how much you can release with each post. Vella, for instance, has a limit per chapter of 5000 words. You can’t release anything larger. Why? Because it maximizes the volume of content readers must click through or pay for, increasing ad and subscription revenue. What would be one chapter becomes two or even three, which means 2-3 times the revenue per reader. Tricky … but effective.
But worse, they actively design the system to produce free content the site runners earn revenue off of for free. When you start at these places, you start at “the bottom.” IE for a lot of the founding originators of this idea, you earned nothing…
ODDTAXI #10 – Odokawa attempts to recruit Yamamoto into his scheme to upset the heist, only to wind up setting himself up to be conveniently murdered. It is only thanks to Shirakawa that he survives long enough to meet up with Dobu again for a sketch of Dobu’s plan and the long-awaited title drop.
It’s an excellent moment when Shirakawa finally gets to use her capoeira skills in anger, but it leads to the question: how did she happen to be hanging around in the very construction site where Yamamoto was planning to dispose of Odokawa in the middle of the night?…
As a reviewer, I’ve always regarded myself as a generalist, lurching from a novel this week to a biography or work of history the next, occasionally interspersing an essay or rediscovering a neglected classic. But every so often, I feel the need to be much more — what’s the right word? — serious, intense, almost scholarly. I yearn to immerse myself in the works of a single author, to spend time reading as much of his or her writing as possible. During these literary sprees, I even undertake actual research, scribble notes, talk to experts.
Last month, I realized that this column would coincide with Robert E. Howard Remembrance Days in Cross Plains, Tex. There, the writer’s fans gather each June 11 — the day the 30-year-old shot himself in 1936 — for talks, barbecue and camaraderie. This year’s guest of honor is Roy Thomas, who wrote the 1970s Marvel comics which — along with Lancer paperbacks featuring brutal and sensual cover art by Frank Frazetta — created a new audience for Howard’s best-known character, the greatest warrior of the ancient Hyborian age.
We first learn his name in the soul-stirring epigraph of “The Phoenix on the Sword”: “Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet.”…
(16) COVER YOURSELF. The Retro Science Fiction Collage Hawaiian Shirt is an eye-catcher.
… Dobrovolskaya’s first shoot with Stepan took place in January, and she says, “it was a wonderful experience thanks to which we made amazing photos.” She describes Stepan as “the cutest bear in the world: very loving and delicate,” and says that his story “is an example of an endless love between people and an animal. When I saw him for the first time I could not hold back the tears because I saw such a huge love between this animal and his people. I wish that all people treated their pets like Stepan’s family have been treating him.”
Dobrovolskaya has always loved and cared for animals. “As a child I brought home puppies and kittens that had been thrown out,” she said. “On??, I brought a baby raven whose wing was broken. Nothing has changed. I still love animals with all my heart and am always trying to help those in trouble.” She first incorporated animals in her photography by chance in 2018. She’d been taking portraits for a few months when she received a message from a woman who organizes photo shoots in Moscow, offering Dobrovolskaya the opportunity to participate in a shoot with a chicken and a mini pig. How could she resist?
She found a model, plucked a dress from her own closet, and went—but didn’t know what to do. “Should the chicken be on the floor? Or should I put him on the fence? The pig suddenly fell asleep—was it okay to wake her up? The only thing I knew was that I wanted those photos to look like fashion ones.” So she told her model Margo, “Imagine that we’re making content for Vogue.” The photos turned out smashingly and even went on to be recognized in the huge international photo contest 35 AWARDS 2018.
As it turned out, the couple who owned the chicken and the mini pig took care of other animals too, including a baby fox cub and an owl. Dobrovolskaya asked if it were possible to take photos with them as well, though she was “very worried that it was stressful for the animals.” The owners assured her it was okay, and to Dobrovolskaya’s surprise, “both the fox and owl were very happy to have an additional walk in a park and didn’t even notice the paparazzi.”…
When a male African savanna elephant folds his ears while simultaneously waving them, he’s ready for a fight. When a female folds her ears and accompanies the action with an ear flap, that means she’s also issuing a serious threat. But when elephants come together and fold their ears while also rapidly flapping them, the animals are expressing a warm, affiliative greeting that is part of their bonding ceremonies.
Elephants possess an incredibly rich repertoire of communication techniques, including hundreds of calls and gestures that convey specific meanings and can change depending on the context. Different elephant populations also exhibit culturally learned behaviors unique to their specific group. Elephant behaviors are so complex, in fact, that even scientists may struggle to keep up with them all. Now, to get the animals and researchers on the same page, a renowned biologist who has been studying endangered savanna elephants for nearly 50 years has co-developed a digital elephant ethogram, a repository of everything known about their behavior and communication….
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
(1) ROBOT IS 100. The Czech Consulate of Los Angeles invites fans to the Robot is 100! Webinar on Thursday, February 4 at 12:00 PM Pacific exploring the influence of Karel Capek’s play “R.U.R.” on other forms of art, and the future of robotics. Register here.
[Note: WordPress does not support the proper character for the author’s last name, so the Latin C has been used. And a screenshot of the program description is used to work around the same problem.]
Enjoy an audio created by the BBC Sounds: “The Robots are Us.” This BBC Radio Documentary features Jesse Brown O’Dell, PhD. graduate from the UCLA Department of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Languages and Cultures.
(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites everyone to settle in for bagels and a schmear with comics retailer Joel Pollack in Episode 137 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.
Joel Pollack has been a part of comics fandom even longer than I have — he attended one of Phil Seuling’s 4th of July Comic Art Conventions two years before I did — in 1968 — and founded Big Planet Comics in Bethesda, Maryland in 1986. That flagship store has expanded to other locations in Washington, D.C., College Park, MD, and Vienna VA, and I thought it would be fun to chat about the world of comics and comics fandom of the past half century, and how comics retailing has changed over the past three and a half decades.
We discussed what the pandemic has done to the comics shop business, the comic his mother bought him which changed his life, the card game which led to him getting his first piece of original art, how his run-in with a young Howard Chaykin convinced him he wasn’t cut out to be a professional comics artist, what opening day was like at the first of his Big Planet comic book stores, the biggest sales event he’s seen during his 35-year retailing career, what inspired Bernie Wrightson to draw a freaky issue of Swamp Thing, how he fights back against the Comic Book Guy cliche to makes his shops welcoming places, our joint distaste of slabbing, why he doesn’t like doing appraisals, and much more.
(3) INTERZONE UPDATE. [Item by PhilRM.] This week’s PS Publishing newsletter provides some more information on their take-over of Interzone (first mentioned in the 1/8/2021 Pixel Scroll) from Andy Cox and TTA Press (and note that Strahan’s post referenced there didn’t make the latter clear: not only is Ian Whates taking over as editor, but Interzone will be published by PS Publishing). Interzone will now appear on a quarterly schedule, and only in digital format. The first issue will appear in August, and will be free to current subscribers.
And heh, we’re kind of jazzed up a little right now where electronic reading matter is concerned . . . and it’s all thanks to our taking on board INTERZONE, which we’ll be running in digital format only, kicking off in August. Ian has already earmarked some 60/70 thousand words for the debut, and the special festive issue in December (always assuming we have a festive season, that is). So watch out as further details emerge and IZ takes its justified place in the pantheon of Science Fiction and Fantasy in digital format only.
All queries/comments regarding the TTA Press Interzone should be directed to either Andy Cox or Roy Gray direct at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, by way of a goodwill gesture, the first electronic PS IZ (August 2021) will be sent free of charge to all previous subscribers. Subsequent issues will be sent quarterly on receipt of an email to be found in the magazine. Watch out for more information
(4) UP PERISCOPE ON SUBSTACK. Yudhanjaya Wijeratne tweeted a list of recommended newsletters. Thread starts here. I’m only familiar with the ones by sff writers and they’re good, so I expect you’ll find more gold in the rest of his list. Here are a few examples:
(5) STOCK MARKET NEWS. Cory Doctorow makes the information comprehensible with his own comments. Read it complete at Threadreader.
(6) DIANA PHO ON DVCON. DVCon 2021 is a free convention for marginalized writers happening online January 30-31.
DVcon, a product of #DVpit, is a free, two-day virtual writers conference for self-identifying marginalized book creators. The mission of DVcon is to educate and connect authors & illustrators who have been historically underrepresented and marginalized in the book publishing industry. Featuring a diverse faculty as well as #DVpit alum, DVcon will offer informative workshops, fun micro-content, and our additional focus will be on community-building and forging connections.
Editor Diana Pho is part of the Money Talks panel from 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern on January 30.
Money Talks. 2:00pm-3:00pm
Let’s face it: publishing doesn’t always pay. Between low advances, payment installments stretched out for years, and the uncertainty of royalties, authors and illustrators might need to get creative about making ends meet. Our panel will discuss different and unexpected ways that authors and illustrators can make money and still stay on the publishing track. It will also help explain some basics about how payments occur in publishing and how to hustle with your writing. Sponsored by the Authors Guild
Featuring: Rebecca Kuss, Thao Le, Diana Pho, Holly Root, Jennifer Ung, Rebekah Weatherspoon
(7) AMBITIOUS ANIME. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the January 25 Financial Times, Leo Lewis and Kana Inagaki look at whether Japanese anime producers can compete globally against Disney and Netflix.
For many industry executives, the stage is now set for Japanese animation to truly go global. A newly invigorated Sony is competing with Netflix and global giants to uncover the untapped trove of lucrative anime content. ‘We were forced to accelerate efforts on all three fronts of digitalization, global expansion and streaming services. It became now or never,’ said George Wada, senior vice-president at Production IG, the company behind the anime hits Ghost In The Shell and Attack On Titan, ‘We are on the brink of whether Japanese animation becomes big or goes minor.’…
…The list of the world’s 25 most valuable franchises are topped by two Japanese giants–Pokemon and Hello Kitty with respective all-time sales of $92bn and $80bn–and include nine other Japanese names.But behind that success, say analysts, has been a tendency to under-exploit the anime gold mine and heavily criticized labour practices that are hidden behind the most popular titles.
Frank Frazetta (1928–2010) may someday hang his paintings in the Guggenheim Museum (hey, whoever thought that Norman Rockwell would have a major exhibition in Frank Lloyd Wright’s temple of Modern?). False equivalency aside, anything is possible in the current what-is-art world (what’s more, Frazetta already has his own museum). Frazetta is to fantasy what Max Ernst is to surrealism (which is fantasy on another psychic and perceptual plane)….
Frazetta transformed the fantasy genre. What can you point to as his most emblematic work?
There was a gradual building, including comic book covers in the early ’50s, which influenced George Lucas and Star Wars. Then Frank’s early 1960s illustrations for Edgar Rice Burroughs books, including Tarzan and John Carter of Mars. And Frank had a good run, painting big studio, humorous caricature-based movie posters in the mid-’60s. Most illustrators would consider movie poster work as a dream come true. But Frank walked away from them for what he felt was more uniquely his own, with his Sword & Sorcery heroic fantasy art. A shortlist of pieces that I cite as rocking the public’s collective consciousness would include “The Barbarian,” which first ran as the cover to the Conan the Adventurer paperback in 1966. Also “Death Dealer,” which first appeared on an early-’70s paperback but inspired American Artist magazine to break their own traditions to produce a special issue devoted to illustration, including coverage of Frazetta and covered with the Death Dealer. “Dark Kingdom” is another, which most people recall as running on a multi-million–selling Molly Hatchet album cover….
Check out this item in the forthcoming Focus Magazine. It gives hugely well deserved recognition to well known local SF/Fantasy authors Piper Mejia, Lee Murray, Jean Gilbert and the many other genre authors around NZ who have helped with their efforts in teaching and mentoring and publishing young students.
…Two years ago, Nick Smith, a Pasadena library technician, curated a “Dreaming the Universe: The Intersection of Science, Fiction & Southern California” exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of History. His observation: While the creators of science fiction are rightly lauded, the history of the sci-fi fandom here is also worth acknowledgment.
“I think that’s part of why this has been home to a lot of science fiction,” says Smith, who is the former president of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. Founded in 1934, it’s the oldest such fan group in the world, with a teenage Ray Bradbury one of its early members.
California appealed to science-fiction writers in the same way it appealed to anyone, Smith says. There were jobs to be had here, the promise of a better life and more opportunity or acceptance for people who might be discriminated against in other parts of the nation.
“Hollywood and television also contributed,” he says. “They provided a steady extra income for some of the writers.”
(11) DARROLL PARDOE OBIT. UK fanzine fan Darroll Pardoe (1943-2021) died January 28 at the age of 77 from COVID-19. Pardoe joined the Birmingham (UK) Science Fiction Group in 1965. He took over Les Spinge from Ken Cheslin and Dave Hale in 1966 and published it until 1979. He also was noted for editing the newzine Checkpoint for a year in the Seventies, and an issue of the British Science Fiction Association’s Vector.
He is survived by his wife, Rosemary Pardoe, co-founder of the British Fantasy Society.
(12) CHRISTOPHER LITTLE OBIT. The agent who handled Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Christopher Little, died January 7. The New York Times obituary is here.
Christopher Little, who as a struggling literary agent took a chance on a scrappy submission about tween-age wizards — even though he once disdained children’s fiction as a money-loser — and built it into the most successful literary empire in history on the strength of its lead character, Harry Potter, died on Jan. 7 at his home in London. He was 79.
J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, was an unpublished, unemployed single mother in Edinburgh in 1995 when she sent Mr. Little the first three chapters of her first book after finding his name in a directory of literary agents. Knowing nothing about the business, she picked him because his name made him sound like a character from a children’s book.
Mr. Little submitted the manuscript for “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” to 12 publishers. He received 12 rejections in response, before selling it for £2,500, or about $3,400 (the equivalent of about $5,800 today). It was a meager amount, but his genius was in the details: He sold only the rights to publish it in Britain and the Commonwealth, and he asked for high royalties….
Mr. Little did more than launch Ms. Rowling’s career. He was the architect of the entertainment powerhouse that grew up around Harry Potter, helping line up everything from Legos to amusement parks.
Ms. Rowling was the first author to earn more than $1 billion off her work, and it’s no surprise that her agent did well too: By some estimates Mr. Little made over $60 million from the Harry Potter franchise. He never claimed credit for her success, but he was ever-present in the background, appearing alongside his client at book launches and movie premieres, enjoying those brief moments in the limelight….
(13) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
January 29, 1964 — Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb premiered. Starring a stellar cast of Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, James Earl Jones and Slim Pickens, it was directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick.
It was not the original title as Kubrick considered Dr. Strangelove’s Secret Uses of Uranusas well as Dr. Doomsday or: How to Start World War III Without Even Trying, and the much shorter Wonderful Bomb.
The film is somewhat based on Peter George’s political thriller Red Alert novel. (Originally called Two Hours To Doom.) Curiously Dr. Strangelove did not appear in the book. This novel’s available on at usual digital suspects. And George’s novelization of the film is on all digital sources. If you purchase it, it has an expanded section on Strangelove’s early career.
It would not surprisingly win the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at Loncon II in London in 1965 with The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao being the only other film on the final ballot.
The film was a box office success. Critics were universal in their belief that it was one of the best films ever done with Ebert saying it was “arguably the best political satire of the century”. At Rotten Tomatoes, it currently holds a ninety four percent rating with over two hundred thousand audience reviewers casting a vote.
A sequel was planned by Kurbrick with Gilliam directing though he was never told this by Kurbrick and only discovered this after Kurbrick died and he later said “I never knew about that until after he died but I would have loved to.”
Born January 29, 1835 – Susan Coolidge. Known for What Katy Did and two sequels. Edited Diary and Letters of Frances Burney. Louisa May Alcott edited Coolidge’s collection New-Year’s Bargain, which is ours; three dozen books all told; short stories, poems. Alice Dalgliesh edited a posthumous Coolidge coll’n Toinette and the Elves. (Died 1905) [JH]
Born January 29, 1860 – Anton Chekhov. (Note that kh in the usual Roman-alphabet spelling of his name represents a single consonant in Russian: the pronunciation is near to “che-hoff”). A dozen stories have fantastic elements making them particularly for us; stories, plays, generally, for everyone. You can see Nabokov’s discussion of “The Lady with the Little Dog” here. (Died 1904) [JH]
Born January 29, 1907 – John Clymer. Illustrator of the American West (worked in U.S. and Canada); Prix de West, Rungius Medal, Royal Canadian Acad. of Arts. Also Argosy, Marine Corps Gazette, Saturday Evening Post (eighty covers), Woman’s Day, Chrysler, White Horse whisky; some for us. Clymer Museum in Ellensburg, Washington. Here is the Aug-Sep 37 Romance; it and more about him here. (Died 1989) [JH]
Born January 29, 1918 — Robert Pastene. He played the title role in the first televised Buck Rogers series on ABC that also had Kem Dibbs and Eric Hammond in that role. 35 episodes were made, none survive. As near as I can tell, his only other SFF performance was on the Out There and Lights Out series. (Died 1991.) (CE)
Born January 29, 1932 — Paddy Chayefsky. In our circles known as the writer of the Altered States novel that he also wrote the screenplay for. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay. The other winners of three Awards shared theirs. He did not win for Altered States though he did win for Network which I adore. (Died 1981.) (CE)
Born January 29, 1938 — Ralph Bakshi, 83. Started as low-level worker at Terrytoons, studio of characters such as Heckle and Jeckle and Mighty Mouse. His first major break would be on CBS as creative director of Mighty Mouse and the Mighty Heroes. Fast forwarding to Fritz the Cat, which may or may not be genre but it’s got a foul-mouthed talking cat. Genre wise, I’d say War Wizards which features voice work by Mark Hamill and given a title with the last word Wizards so it wouldn’t be confused with you-know-what film. Next up was The Lord of the Rings, a very odd affair. That was followed by Fire and Ice, a collaboration with Frank Frazetta. Then came what I considered his finest work, the Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures series! Then there’s Cool World… (CE)
Born January 29, 1942 – Rosemary Wells, age 79. Five novels for us, counting Voyage to the Bunny Planet and two sequels; ten dozen all told. Illustrator too. Daughter of a ballerina and a playwright, who “praised what I did well and didn’t care much about what I didn’t do well…. I drew uncannily for a youngster…. hunted rats with a bow and arrows…. fierce and devoted Brooklyn Dodger fan.” [JH]
Born January 29, 1945 — Tom Selleck, 76. Setting aside the matter of if Magnum P.I. is genre which some of you hold to be true, he was Sgt. Jack R. Ramsay in Runaway which is most definitely SF. He recently did some voice acting by being Cornelius, Lewis’ older self, in the animated Meet the Robinsons film, and he showed up as himself in the “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?” of the Muppet Babies nearly forty years ago. (CE)
Born January 29, 1958 – Nic Farey, age 63. Irreverent and valuable (sorry, Nic, but it’s true) fanziner. Two first-rate fanzines, Beam with Ulrika O’Brien, This Here solo (I omit the TH ellipsis mark lest you think I’m eliding, but it’s there); both have won FAAn (Fannish Activity Achievement) Awards. Chaired fanziners’ convention Corflu (named for mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable) 19, co-chaired Corflu 31. Likes association football. [JH]
Born January 29, 1970 — Heather Graham, 51. Best known SF role was no doubt Dr. Judy Robinson on the Lost on Space film. She played also Felicity Shagwell that same year in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. And she was Annie Blackburn on Twin Peaks. (CE)
Born January 29, 1985 – Giovanna Fletcher, age 36. Among writing, singing, acting, blogging and vlogging (I am not making this up), two novels for us with husband Tom Fletcher. Sang “Moon River” with him. Won Series 20 of I’m a Celebrity – Get Me Out of Here. Nine other books, some nonfiction. Website. [JH]
Born January 29, 1988 — Catrin Stewart, 33. Jenny Flint in five episodes of Doctor Who. She was the wife of Madame Vastra and the friend of Strax with the three known as the Paternoster Gang who appeared first during the Eleventh Doctor and last during the Twelfth Doctor. Big Finish has continued them in their audiobooks. She also played Stella in two episodes of the Misfits series, and was Julia in a performance of 1984 done at London Playhouse a few years back. (CE)
There are lots of professors of Film Studies or equivalent, and plenty of them have turned their attention to SF. But a hasty google does not reveal the exact title “Professor of Science Fiction Film Studies” at any other institutions. Could this be the world’s first? And science fiction’s first? Further research may be needed.
Though I myself am capable of droning on for hours and hours about SF films, the job requires “Ph.D in film studies or a related field,” which lets me out. Also, they probably don’t want to hire someone with the “ink-and-paper SF is better” prejudice.
Thanks to Fred Scharmen and Bill Leininger for bringing this to my attention.
(16) SOUTHERN FANDOM STORIES. Fanac.org has announced another FanHistory Zoom session (in addition to the second Ted White segment already reported in the Scroll). RSVP to email@example.com for the Zoom link.
February 20, 2021, 7PM EST (4PM PST, 12:00 AM London, 11AM Sunday in Sydney) – An Anecdotal History of Southern US Fandom, with Toni Weisskopf, Janice Gelb and Guy Lillian III. Get a perspective on Southern Fandom from the inside. Topics expected to include history and impact of conventions and Worldcons, clubs and fanzines, and bigger than life individuals.
Michaela Goade, illustrator of We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, reflected on the experience of winning the 2021 Caldecott Medal; she is the first BIPOC woman and the first Indigenous artist to receive the award. “I felt a bit like a deer in the headlights and did not know what to say!,” Goade told PW.
Joe Biden was three weeks from taking office as a freshman U.S. senator when the moon rock that is now newly on display in the White House was collected by astronauts on the lunar surface.
Six terms in Congress, two terms as the Vice President of the United States and one presidential inauguration later, Biden and the lunar sample 76015,143 will now share the Oval Office.
The Biden Administration requested an Apollo-recovered moon rock for display as “a symbolic recognition of earlier generations’ ambitions and accomplishments, and support for America’s current moon to Mars exploration approach,” according to NASA. The 0.7-pound (333-gram) rock, held by a metal clamp and encased in glass, sits on the bottom shelf of a recessed bookcase beside a painted portrait of Ben Franklin and adjacent to the Resolute desk.
(19) THEY LOST ON JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter’s ears perked up when they had a Star Trek-related item on tonight’s Jeopardy! A contestant missed it.
Answer: George Herbert’s poetic query “Is there there in truth no” this? became the title of the “Star Trek” episode with the Medusans.
Explanation: Why does Saturn appear so big? It doesn’t — what is pictured are foreground clouds on Earth crossing in front of the Moon. The Moon shows a slight crescent phase with most of its surface visible by reflected Earthlight known as ashen glow. The Sun directly illuminates the brightly lit lunar crescent from the bottom, which means that the Sun must be below the horizon and so the image was taken before sunrise. This double take-inducing picture was captured on 2019 December 24, two days before the Moon slid in front of the Sun to create a solar eclipse. In the foreground, lights from small Guatemalan towns are visible behind the huge volcano Pacaya.
Debris will premiere on Monday, March 1 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, NBC announced during its first TCA panel on Tuesday. In addition to teasing the upcoming series and unveiling the premiere date, the Debris team also talked parallels to Fringe.
“There’s always going to be my DNA in the show,” [J.H.] Wyman, who serves as executive producer and showrunner said. “But it’s definitely its own thing.”
Like Fringe, Debris follows government officials as they investigate when wreckage from a destroyed alien spacecraft has mysterious effects on humankind. Riann Steele will star as MI6’s Finola Jones and Jonathan Tucker as the CIA’s Bryan Beneventi.
While the series will feature different stories driven by the odd effects of the alien leftovers, Debris will see the relationship between the two leads develop and gain complexity as the show continues.
(22) BREAK TIME. “30 Minutes of Relaxing Visuals From Studio Ghibli” on YouTube is a compilation of short clips about nature from Studio Ghibli films prepared by HBO Max.
[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Bill Higgins, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, PhilRM, David K.M. Klaus, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
(1) FANAC.ORG SCANNING STATION AT DUBLIN
2019. Joe Siclari looks forward to digitizing
more zines and photos at the Worldcon —
FANAC.org has scanned and archived over 92,000 pages of fanzines. Next week, our Scanning Station is coming to Dublin. If you are attending the Dublin Worldcon and can brings fanzines appropriate for scanning, we would love to have them. We’ll scan right there on site – we’ll be set-up at a fan table in the Convention Center. Look for our banner.
…But there’s another source of public domain works: until the 1976 Copyright Act, US works were not copyrighted unless they were registered, and then they quickly became public domain unless that registration was renewed….
…Now, Leonard Richardson (previously) has done the magic data-mining work to affirmatively determine which of the 1924-63 books are in the public domain, which turns out to be 80% of those books; what’s more, many of these books have already been scanned by the Hathi Trust (which uses a limitation in copyright to scan university library holdings for use by educational institutions, regardless of copyright status).
“Fun facts” are, sadly, often less than fun. But here’s a genuinely fun fact: most books published in the US before 1964 are in the public domain! Back then, you had to send in a form to get a second 28-year copyright term, and most people didn’t bother.
(3) WHEATON W00TSTOUT. The 2019 pouring of Stone
Farking Wheaton w00tstout is here. Comic artist Alan Davis designed the
label. Will you collect it or drink it?
Over the years, Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout has become one of Stone’s most anticipated annual releases, and not just because it’s an astoundingly flavorful beer concocted as a collaboration between FARK’s Drew Curtis, nerd royalty Wil Wheaton and Stone Brewing co-founder Greg Koch. It’s the incredible label art adorning this beer over the years that has elevated it to the pinnacle of beer, geekery and beer geekery. “W00tstout is more than a great beer,” said actor, writer and Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout collaborator Wil Wheaton. “It’s a work of art, carefully designed to be as drinkable right now as it will be in a decade. I am so honored and proud to be one of its parents.”
(4) CLARION WEST 2020. Next year’s Clarion West instructors
have been announced:
(5) STRANGERS LIKE
ME. Brian Doherty, in “San
Diego Comic-Con and the Tensions of Market-Induced Growth” on Reason.com, reports from the convention and finds
that despite its huge size lovers of comics and the small press can find a
great deal to satisfy them at the convention. He also interviews
Maryelizabeth Yturvalde of the Mysterious Galaxy sf shop, who says she sold a
great many YA novels to Comic-Con attendees.
…But who are “people like yourself” in the tent of fannish tents? That’s the sticking point. Things can get complicated when you are thrust in a tight space with people whose nerdy obsessions don’t match yours. Smith joked about seeing a bunch of people dressed as Klingons sneering at the lame geeks striding by dressed as stormtroopers.
On one of this year’s historical panels, Barry Short, a longtime SDCC worker and a former comic shop owner, described the vast crowds attracted to the con as a clear victory, the promised land all the lonely geeks of decades gone by had been fighting for. Their culture was no longer mocked and hated! Their tribe had grown beyond imagining! But one detail that he chose to highlight was telling—that it was no longer hard to find T-shirts featuring Marvel superheroes.
That sort of thing would not be any kind of victory to, say, indie cartoonist Mary Fleener, who on a historical panel remembered fondly the days in the 1990s when she and a few fellow independent artists could pool money together for a table that cost less than $400 and profit selling their homemade mini-comix. Her tribe was different than Short’s; they just awkwardly co-existed in the same grounds.
Comics are not just the root of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters; they’re a newly respected part of American literary culture. The artists and writers responsible for that aren’t necessarily obsessed with superhero T-shirts. But even that conclusion was complicated at a SDCC panel starring Chris Ware, author of Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, one of the linchpins of modern literary comics. He admitted, in his self-lacerating sad-sack way, that as a nerdy, scared, hated kid in school, if he found anyone else who shared in any way his tortured love and fascination with crummy Mego toy figures of comics characters, he’d want to hold them close—too close for their comfort.
Comic-Con is filled with people who both seek validation in their manias and mistrust the manias next door, whether those neighboring fandoms seem to bring down the cultural property values or try to make them annoyingly highbrow.
No matter how pollyannaish you want to be about change and growth, more people in an experience makes for a different experience. Such changes may come to the benefit of the newcomers but the detriment of old-timers….
I am delighted to be part of the show and all I am, is a part of the show…I want to make it semi-clear, because I don’t want to make it too clear, that I am not a regular on the show. Data did die at the end of Nemesis. But I am on the show. I do make appearances. Data’s story is a part of the thread of show.”
Apparently the Data-like android is a predecessor called B-4.
Given Spiner’s connections to Area 51 — his Dr. Brakish Okun was in charge of research there in both “Independence Day” and “Independence Day: Resurgence,” its 20-years-later sequel — you can’t let the actor off the phone without asking if he has advice for anyone looking to follow the Facebook phenomenon and storm the secretive military installation to “see them aliens.”
“Well, let me just say, I know this is going to be a huge disappointment to everyone, but if they do this, and they actually get there, I will not be there,” Spiner says, dryly.
“I mean, unless I’m well paid. Then I’ll show up.”
The Korean release of the latest installment of Doraemon, Japan’s biggest anime franchise, has been postponed indefinitely as a trade war between the Asian neighbors continues to escalate.
Doraemon: Nobita’s Chronicle of the Moon Exploration, the 39th feature in the tales of the blue, “cat-type robot” and his human sidekick, schoolboy Nobita, is the latest victim in the Tokyo-Seoul spat.
Last month Butt Detective: The Movie was also caught up in the growing boycott of Japanese goods, services and companies. The film, a spinoff from a children’s book and anime TV series about a detective with a head shaped like a backside, had received maximum scores on South Korean review websites on its release, but got a bum deal after the sites were hit with posts calling for cinemagoers to boycott Japanese films.
…The current row was triggered when Japan announced July 1 that it was placing export restrictions to South Korea on materials used in manufacturing semiconductors, a major Korean industry. Tokyo accused Seoul of breaking sanctions on North Korea, but the move was widely seen as retaliation for a Korean court ruling that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has to pay compensation to Koreans forced to work for the company during World War II….
(8) ROSEN OBIT. Fraggle Rock voice actor Stuart M.
died reports SYFY Wire.
Stuart M. Rosen, a prolific voice actor and creator who helped develop the iconic children’s puppet program Dusty’s Treehouse in the late 1960s and voiced The Storyteller in HBO’s Fraggle Rock, reportedly has passed away from cancer. He was 80 years old.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 5, 1891 — Donald Kerr. Happy Hapgood in 1938’s Flash Gordon’s Trip To Mars which might be one of the earliest such films. His only other genre appearances were in the Abbott and Costello films such as Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy and Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man in uncredited roles. (Died 1977.)
Born August 5, 1935 — Wanda Ventham, 84. Mother of Benedict Cumberbatch. She’s showed up on during Doctor Who over a number of years playing three different roles (Jean Rock, Thea Ransome/Fendahl Core and Faroon) in three different stories, “The Faceless Ones” over six episodes, Serial: “Image of the Fendahl” over four episodes and “Time and the Rani” over three episodes. That’d mean she appeared with the Fourth and Seventh Doctors. She was also Col. Virginia Lake, a series regular on UFO, during the Seventies.
Born August 5, 1940 — Natalie Trundy,79. First, she was one of the Underdwellers named Albina in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Next, she played Dr. Stephanie Branton, a specialist studying apes from the future who came into our present day in Escape from the Planet of the Apes. Then in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes, she played the chimp Lisa.
Born August 5, 1947 — Élisabeth Vonarburg, 72. Parisian born, she’s Quebec resident. She was the literary director of the French-Canadian SF magazine Solaris. Her first novel, Le Silence de la Cité, was published in 1981. Since then she’s been a prolific witter of novels and short fiction. In 1993, her website notes sgphecreceived a Prix spécial du Jury Philip K. Dick Award for In the Mothers’ Land. H’h. I’m pleased to say that iBooks is deeply stock in her works but Kindle has nothing at all by her. Her website, in French of course, is here.
Born August 5, 1956 — Robert Frezza, 63. Wrote five SF novels of a space opera-ish nature in five years covering two series, McLendon’s Syndrome and The VMR Theory, and The Small Colonial War series which is A Small Colonial War, Fire in a Faraway Place and Cain’s Land) before disappearing from writing SF twenty years ago.
Born August 5, 1956 — Maureen McCormick, 63. Though better for being Marcia Brady on The Brady Bunch, she has done some genre performances. She was Eve in Snow White: A Deadly Summer and Officer Tyler in Return to Horror High, both decidedly pulpish horror film. A step up in class was her portrayal of the young Endora in two episodes of Bewitched, “And Something Makes Three” and “Trick or Treat”. She shows up in another magical show, I Dream of Jeannie, as Susan in “My Master, the Doctor”. And she was used in six different roles on Fantasy Island.
Born August 5, 1968 — Matt Jones, 51. Started as columnist for Doctor Who Magazine. A decade later, he wrote two of the Tenth Doctor scripts, a two-parter, “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit”, and one for Torchwood, “Dead Man Walking”. He co-authored with Joan Ormond, Time Travel in Popular Media.
Born August 5, 1980 — JoSelle Vanderhooft, 39. Former Green Man reviewer with a single novel so far, Ebenezer, and several collections, Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories and Steam-Powered II: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories. She also co-edited with Steve Berman, Heiresses of Russ 2011: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction.
Born August 5, 1961 — Janet McTeer, 58. Last genre role was as Jessica’s mother, Alisa Jones. in Jessica Jones. She was also Edith Prior in The Divergent Series: Insurgent, and the elderly Princess Aurora who was the narrator in Maleficent.
I set myself two missions at the start of this year – one, to get into the Science Fiction Writers’ Association (SFWA, pronounced Siffwuh) by writing and selling a qualifying short story. And two, to take steps to snag an agent for what I hope will be the next step in my writing career.
Well, missions one accomplished….
(11) A HOIST OF BOOKS. Atlas Obscura reads from
the log of the “Bokbåten”,
a circulating library afloat.
Sweden and its Nordic neighbors are among the world’s most literate countries. These nations boast a range of newspapers and public libraries, as well as provide convenient access to computers and strong educational resources to its residents.
Access to books and resources might be harder to come by for some, though, especially those living on the remote islands of Stockholm’s archipelago—the largest group of islands in Sweden and the second-largest in the Baltic Sea.
To combat this obstacle while continuing its prioritization of literacy, twice a year the Stockholm Library Service rents a boat for a week and brings books to 23 inhabited islands. Each spring and fall, the boat is packed with approximately 3,000 books and sets sail along Stockholm’s eastern seaboard as an aquatic library….
(12) IT’S EERIE. He looks just like a pinker
version of my father when he was young.
My father is in the lower left corner of this holiday card, sent
out in the early days of television.
Meanwhile, John’s having his brain fixed, and the city Administrator comes in to whine about it. He was the one who wanted to disintegrate everybody last episode, if you recall. He doesn’t seem to like anything about the humans. Not their names, which he reckons are absurd (cheek!), not their culture of egalitarianism (though I could dispute that), and not their stupid, ugly faces (pot, kettle!)
If the closing moments of the second season finale of “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” hadn’t already made it clear that the show was going to take an even darker turn next season, then creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa did so Sunday by confirming the fiery setting Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) and co. will be entering when the show returns….
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian,
Mike Kennedy, Jon Del Arroz, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Jack Lint.]
For many years, various publishers in the Americas and Europe have had their books printed in China as a cost-saving measure (including many in the RPG field). Often the primary downside of this has simply been the time taken for the books to arrive, but it appears there can also be another problem, as the publishers of The Sassoon Files (a Cthulhu-based RPG supplement) have announced that all print copies of their book have been destroyed by the Chinese Government – for unspecified reasons.
The Sassoon Files is a collection of Cthulhu Mythos scenarios and campaign resources set in 1920s Shanghai (for both Call of Cthulhu and Gumshoe systems) and was Kickstarted back in September 2018, raising some $24,000 USD from more than 500 backers. The volume was due to ship from the printers very shortly. As a result of this recent turn of events, the publishers, Sons of the Singularity, have released a video statement. …
DISSECTION. Abigail Nussbaum analyzes
Jordan Peele’s “Us”
at Asking the Wrong Questions.
…If Get Out was an arrow aimed straight for the heart, Us is firing in all directions. This doesn’t make it a bad film—it is, in fact, a rich and heady stew, anchored by a stunning double performance from Lupita Nyong’o. But it does make it messy, in a way that a director who wasn’t riding high off a genre-defining success like Get Out probably wouldn’t be able to get away with. I found myself thinking that Us might have worked better as a miniseries, not only to give its various storylines and characters room to breathe, but so that it could do more work to spin out and elaborate on the various symbols and recurring images it keeps dropping into the narrative.
(3) PACKAGING ISSUE EXPLAINED. Greg Machlin gives readers a good handle on the reasons for the current tension between Hollywood writers and agents. Thread starts here.
…If, on the other hand, you are my brother or sister in the Writers Guild of America — East or West, it matters not when we stand in solitarity — or conversely, if you are a grasping, fuckfailing greedhead with the Association of Talent Agents, then you might wanna hang around for this:
Here is the story of how as a novice to this industry, I was grifted by my agents and how I learned everything I ever needed to know about packaging. And here is why I am a solid yes-vote on anything my union puts before me that attacks the incredible ethical affront of this paradigm. Packaging is a racket. It’s corrupt. It is without any basis in either integrity or honor. This little narrative will make that clear. And because I still have a reportorial soul and a journalistic God resides in the details, I will name a name wherever I can.
… Why bother to fight for 10 percent of a few dollars more for this story editor or that co-executive producer of some actor or director when to NOT do so means less freight on the operating budgets of the projects that you yourself hope to profit from? Why serve your clients as representatives with a fiduciary responsibility and get the last possible dollar for them, when you stand to profit by splitting the proceeds of a production not with labor, but with management — the studios who are cutting you in on the back end? Why put your client’s interest in direct opposition to your own?
This post is to inform everyone about James Tivendale’s removal as a blogger from Fantasy Book Review as well as from the SPFBO judging group. James has been accused by over a dozen people of harassment in several forms. This wasn’t something that was done spur of the moment but thanks to Esme Weatherwax & Book Wol’s efforts, several folks came forward to report James’ behavior (inappropriate touching, intimidation, etc.)”
Many of these folks didn’t want their names published as they feared reprisal for their books or careers. These accusations were sent to Lee David Sibbald (the owner of Fantasy Book Review) and special thanks to Ryan Lawler for helping coordinate these efforts. Ultimately Lee took this decision keeping everyone’s safety in mind. Mark Lawrence has also been alerted about this. For the remaining part of this SPFBO edition, Fantasy Book Review will be managed by Adam & Emma. For the future, the decision will be taken by Lee and the rest of the team.
I along with Esme, Wol, Lee & a few others wanted to make this public so everyone knows what happened exactly without any confusion or rumor-mongering. If you have ever been harrased by James in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact Esme or me. I want to reiterate that while James is a gifted blogger and I considered him my friend. His behavior wasn’t excusable and neither were his health issues. We all hope that he gets the help he needs. If you have any queries or wish to clarify anything. I’m more than happy to resolve them.
has since shut down his Facebook and Twitter accounts.
(5) SHAZAM! The Hollywood Reporter’s Frank Scheck says the movie benefits from
terrific performances: “‘Shazam!’:
The DC Comics universe has definitely taken to heart the criticism that its movies have been too dark and foreboding. The more lighthearted approach worked beautifully with Wonder Woman and was carried to a wackier level with Aquaman. Now comes their latest effort, based on a relatively little-known comic book character, that proves so determinedly ebullient you begin to think they’re pumping laughing gas into the auditorium. The most kid-friendly DC movie so far, Shazam! is thoroughly entertaining. But much like its central character, a 14-year-old boy able to transform himself into a superhero by uttering the titular incantation, often the pic gives the impression of a kid playing in the adult leagues.
The sci-fi author Charlie Stross once posited a future in which spam becomes so good at mimicking human interaction it becomes self-aware –the ‘Spamularity.’ Is that what awaits us if the phones don’t shut up?
Welcome once again to the oncoming wave that is a new season of anime barrelling in our direction. It’s smaller than usual, owing to a drop in the overall number of new shows and an unusually low percentage of them being sf. (If you’re wondering what hot trends you’re missing out on, they’re baseball shows and comedies about high school students who are bad at studying.) As always, click on the titles to go to the official sites to see promo videos and more!
(8) IMMERSIVE PLAY. It’s called Escape Hunt.
Escape Hunt noun Def: The name given to 60 minutes of pure, unadulterated excitement, during which you and your teammates lose yourselves in an incredible experience, working together to follow a series of fiendishly clever clues and escape a locked room.
The pressure’s on, the clock’s ticking, the adrenaline’s pumping. Escape Hunt isn’t something you watch, it’s something you experience from the heart of the action. After the buzz of Escape Hunt, other entertainment just feels flat.
The Doctor needs you: a tear in space and time has been detected, and the Cybermen are about to break through!
Step into the future. Enter the offices of ChronosCorp HQ, where eccentric billionaire Alastair Montague’s efforts to develop commercial time travel have caused a tear in the fabric of space and time. The Cybermen are ready to take advantage and attack Earth.
You, the Doctor’s friends, must investigate the incident. The remains of Montague, his prototype time engine and the extensive collection of time-related artefacts acquired over the course of his experiments, are all that you have to work with.
(9) PALLADINI OBIT. Artist David Palladini (1946-2019) died March 13. Jane Yolen wrote on Facebook:
I have just heard that David Palladini, that brilliant artist who illustrated my first three fairy tale collections, has died. RIP dear David. He also did many record jackets, Stephen King’s only middle grade novel, a tarot deck much prized by many who love them. RIP dear David.
The death notice in the New York Times begins:
David Palladini, widely renowned artist and illustrator, and regarded as one of the country’s most recognized astrological art illustrators, passed away on March 13, 2019 after a long illness at his home in Corona Del Mar, California at the age of 72. Some of his most widely held work includes the illustrations from Stephen King’s best-selling book, “Eyes of the Dragon”, and numerous children’s books, including the Jane Yolen series. His iconic astrological Aquarian & Palladini Tarot card art decks remain the most frequently preferred tarot card decks worldwide.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 25, 1989 — Quantum Leap premiered.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 25, 1916 — Jean Rogers. Rogers is best remembered for playing Dale Arden in the science fiction serials Flash Gordon and Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars, both released in the Thirties. Kage Baker would’ve have loved them as she was a great fan of such cinema and wrote a series of essays for Tor.com that turned into Ancient Rockets: Treasures and Trainwrecks of the Silent Screen. (Link for review of Ancient Rockets.) (Rogers died 1991.)
Born March 25, 1920 — Patrick Troughton. The Second Doctor of who I’ll confess I’m not the most ardent fan of. The Fourth Doctor is my Doctor. Troughton had a long genre resume starting with Hamlet and Treasure Island early on before preceding to such works as Scars of Dracula and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell later on. Tellie wise, I see him on R.U.R. Radius playing a robot, on a Fifties Robin Hood show being that character, and on The Feathered Serpent. This is children’s series set in pre-Columbian Mexico and starring Patrick Troughton as the scheming High Priest Nasca. H’h. (Died 1987.)
Born March 25, 1939 — D. C. Fontana, 80. Though best known for her work on the first Trek series, she was a story editor and associate producer on the animated series as well. During the 70s, she was staff for such series as Six Million Dollar Man, Logan’s Run and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. She later wrote for the fanfic Star Trek: New Voyages series.
Born March 25, 1947 — Elton John, 72. He appeared in Tommy, UK version as the Pinball Wizard, a perfect role for him. I see he appeared on The Muppet Show as the guest of the week and showed in Kingsman: The Golden Circle as himself.
Born March 25, 1950 — Robert O’Reilly, 69. Best known I’d say for his appearance in the Trek franchise for a decade in his recurring role on Next Gen and DS9 as Chancellor Gowron, the leader of the Klingon Empire. He made one further appearance in the Trek verse as Kago-Darr in the Enterprise “Bounty” episode. Other genre series he appeared in include Fantasy Island, Knight Rider, Incredible Hulk, MacGyver, Max Headroom and the first version of The Flash. I’ll let y’all tell me your favorite films with him as cast.
Born March 25, 1964 — Kate DiCamillo, 55. She is just being one of six people to win two Newbery Medals, noting the wonderfulness of The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses. The first I’ve encountered, the tale of a swords mouse in making, the latter I’ve not. Her Mercy Watson series is about the adventures of a fictional pig, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.
(12) A LITTLE TINGLE. Chuck
Tingle has expanded his repertoire to short videos.
…Arkady Martine gives us an impressive sci-fi debut, with intricate worldbuilding and a compelling plot. Court intrigue and political manoeuvring play a large role and Martine writes these elements very well. You never fully know who to trust and the way Martine slowly unveils information creates a wonderfully suspenseful atmosphere. It does take a little while for the story to get going but stick with it as it does pick up after a couple of chapters. Once I was fully invested, I didn’t want to put it down.
December 21 to January 21: You are Aqua-Goat! The very quickly cancelled 1980’s cartoon superhero who was a wise-cracking sea goat who solved sea-mysteries with his gang of friends who lived on a boat. Your friends were a cheap knock-off of the Scooby gang and the Archies. Your catchphrase was ‘Time to solve this sea mystery Aqua-Goat style!’ That sounds a bit sad but unlike all these other signs at least you HAVE friends even if one of them is a badly drawn version of Jughead mixed with Shaggy.
(15) TOMORROW’S NOT THAT
FAR AWAY. CW released its midseason trailer for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
The Legends continue their new mission to protect the timeline from temporal aberrations – unusual changes to history that spawn potentially catastrophic consequences. When Nate, the grandson of J.S.A. member Commander Steel, unexpectedly finds himself with powers, he must overcome his own insecurities and find the hero within himself. Ultimately, the Legends will clash with foes both past and present, to save the world from a mysterious new threat.
A Harry Potter superfan has managed to “Slytherin” to the record books after collecting thousands of pieces of memorabilia.
Victoria Maclean, of Tonna, Neath Port Talbot, has 3,686 individual JK Rowling-related items.
This earned her the Wizarding World Collection world record – which includes the Fantastic Beasts series.
YouTuber Mrs Maclean, 38, said: “I screamed a lot – it was so incredible after all these months.”
She was presented with her world record certificate by Guinness World Records on Wednesday.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Man Sitting Next To You”
on Vimeo, Ali Ali tells us why going to the movies can be a nightmare.
John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Peer, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Chip
Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Daniel Dern, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
day Kurt Busiek.]
Lots of shows decide they need a little Christmas come December, but they’re not quite sure how to do it. Do you talk about the big Jesus-shaped elephant in the room? Do you just focus on Santa? Do you, I don’t know, cast Juliana Hatfield as an angel or make miracles happen on Walker, Texas Ranger?
This late-December urge becomes extra fun when sci-fi shows try it—they don’t usually want to deal with the religious aspect of Christmas, but they still have to find a way to explain Santa and presents (and maybe just a dash of Christianity) to aliens who are already confused enough just trying to deal with humans. So most of them fall back on humans teaching aliens about “goodwill” or “being kind to others.” This leads to some amazing moments, as we’ll see.
Mars is clearly cold enough for snow. It has ice — the amount of which has varied significantly over time. When its axis is tilted at only a small angle relative to its orbit, its surface is ice-free except for the polar caps. This is the situation today, when its axial tilt is 25 degrees (similar to Earth’s 23-degree axial tilt). However, possibly because Mars lacks a large moon to stabilize its spin, there have been times when its spin axis was tipped over by up to 60 degrees — allowing the polar ice caps to spread, maybe even to the extent that there was abundant ice near the equator.
(3) HUNG BY THE HELICOPTER WITH CARE. There is, of course, a wide variety of Christmas season movie marathon fare – having almost nothing to do with Christmas — from the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies to Ocean’s Eleven and its sequels (which we George Clayton Johnson fans heartily recommend). Many prefer Die Hard, but I only just discovered that someone has turned the story into an illustrated book, and that book has been given the read-aloud video treatment: “Die Hard Christmas Book with Voice Actor Steve Blum – Presented by Sideshow & Insight Editions”
The December 2018 close approach by the large, near-Earth asteroid 2003 SD220 has provided astronomers an outstanding opportunity to obtain detailed radar images of the surface and shape of the object and to improve the understanding of its orbit.
The asteroid will fly safely past Earth on Saturday, Dec. 22, at a distance of about 1.8 million miles (2.9 million kilometers). This will be the asteroid’s closest approach in more than 400 years and the closest until 2070, when the asteroid will safely approach Earth slightly closer.
The radar images reveal an asteroid with a length of at least one mile (1.6 kilometers) and a shape similar to that of the exposed portion of a hippopotamus wading in a river. They were obtained Dec. 15-17 by coordinating the observations with NASA’s 230-foot (70-meter) antenna at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California, the National Science Foundation’s 330-foot (100-meter) Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the Arecibo Observatory’s 1,000-foot (305-meter) antenna in Puerto Rico.
(6) CHRISTMAS CRIMESTOPPER. In the days before Steve Fjeldsted became the Director of Library, Arts & Culture for the City of South Pasadena, and patron of things Bradburyesque, he was a county librarian in Northern California, an experience that furnished him with this unforgettable story: “Mrs. Santa vs. the Snake”.
Camille hadn’t noticed anything dangerous and counted out change into the hand of the customer paying for a lost book. While rushing out the door, I said I’d be right back. Moments later I had breathlessly arrived at the front counter at the Police Station. A detective was summoned and Sergeant Salvador nodded knowingly to my retelling of the threatening event at the library and the man I first encountered while driving to work that morning.
…“That’s Snake!” Officer Salazar exclaimed, “And he’s a violent bank robber who was recently released.”
… When I glanced toward the library entrance, I could see Snake slither inside the front door until he stood motionless in side the entryway with his head tilted down. Seconds later, right behind him entered Millie, a volunteer who was dressed up in her Mrs. Santa Claus costume. Each year she donned her festive homemade outfit to read holiday stories to kids in the Children’s Room….
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 25, 1924 – Rod Serling. Best remembered for The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery with the former winning an impressive three Hugos. He’s also the screenwriter or a co-screenwriter for Seven Days in May, a very scary film indeed, as well as The New Peopleseries, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, A Town Has Turned to Dust, UFOs: Past, Present, and Future and Planet of the Apes. (Died 1975.)
Born December 25, 1928 – Dick Miller, 90. He’s appeared in over a hundred films including every film directed by Dante. You’ve seen him in both Gremlins, The Little Shop of Horrors, Terminator, The Howling, Small Soldiers, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Amazon Women on the Moon, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm where he voiced the gravelly voiced Chuckie Sol and Oberon in an “The Ties That Bind” episode of Justice League Unlimited.
Born December 25, 1952 – CCH Pounder, 66. She’s had one very juicy voice role running through the DC Universe from since Justice League Unlimited in 2006. If you’ve not heard her do this role, it worth seeing the animated Assault on Arkham Asylum which is far superior to the live action Suicide Squad film to hear her character. She also had an recurring role as Mrs. Irene Frederic on Warehouse 13 as well. She’s also been in X-Files, Quantum Leap, White Dwarf (horrid series), Gargoyles, Millennium, House of Frankenstein, Outer Limits, W.I.T.C.H. and The Lion Guard. Film wise, she shows up in Robocop 3, Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Face/Off, NetForce, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and several of the forthcoming Avatar films.
A Russian cosmonaut who explored a mysterious hole in a capsule docked to the International Space Station said Monday that the opening was drilled from inside the spacecraft and Russian law enforcement agencies are investigating what caused it.
Sergei Prokopyev said investigators were looking at samples he and crewmate Oleg Kononenko collected during a Dec. 12 spacewalk. Prokopyev and two other astronauts returned to Earth last week from a 197-day space station mission.
(10) TROPE-A-DOPE. In “Tradition”, Mad Genius Club’s Dave Freer uses the holiday to warn everyone who doesn’t plan to spend the coming year writing what he likes:
So here is my short Christmas Eve point: ignoring traditions may get you a lump of coal in your stocking and rotten sales to boot. Using them to add to your work, to build on – whether we’re talking the traditional (and very popular) tropes – be it a fantasy collect-the-tokens, or Bug-Eyed Monsters invading Earth remains more popular than following new attempts at ‘traditions’ (like yet another Handmaiden’s Tail clone) that are not popular. Using the language and style of the genre at least won’t lose you the established readers…
The industrywide paper jam has been building for months — a result of shrinking and consolidation among printing companies, the collapse of one of the major printers this summer, global paper shortages and a tightening job market that’s made it difficult for printers to hire additional seasonal workers. But it has become increasingly acute and visible at the industry’s peak sales season, when consumers are shopping for must-read titles to give as gifts, and finding that Amazon’s virtual shelves are bare.
“Do you see them?” the radio crackled in the old Russian 4×4.
The driver tried to steer away from pits and ravines that he could barely see in the dark. The lights of another car flashed in the distance. After a prolonged silence came the answer. “No.”
The two drivers navigating around a national park in the dead of the night are Kazakh rangers trying to capture Asiatic wild ass, known locally as kulans.
It is a part of the operation to reintroduce these animals to the steppes of central Kazakhstan, where they disappeared a century ago.
Kulans are the zebras of Asia. They used to roam on a massive territory stretching from Syria to Mongolia but today their populations are fragmented and vulnerable. Kulans in Central Asia are in particular danger.
First things first, Happy Christmas! And if you haven’t unwrapped your surprise present from Get Out director Jordan Peele yet, you can watch the trailer for his new film Us below.
The timing of the trailer drop was very much planned by Peele. “The trailer going out on Christmas day is very exciting to me,” the director says. “Because, as families are gathered around the fireplace to celebrate the holidays, hopefully they can look on their phone, see this trailer and I’ll scare the pants off them.”
(15) TOP 10 GAMING CONTROVERSIES OF THE YEAR. And if you’re looking for a few more kerfuffles to tide you over til 2019, try these —
John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock,
Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Brian Z., and Andrew Porter for some of these
stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Redheadedfemme.]
Fred Patten, a fannish polymath who helped introduce anime to Americans, died November 12.
Fred had lived in a nursing facility since suffering a stroke in 2005. His sister, Sherrill Patten, told LASFS that on November 1 he was found non-responsive, moved to a hospital and treated, but never regained consciousness.
Patten’s first sf convention was the 1958 Worldcon in LA. He joined the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS) in 1960 while still a student at UCLA. He was nominated for a Hugo in 1963 as co-editor of the club’s fanzine Shangri L’Affaires with Al Lewis, Bjo and John Trimble. For his service to LASFS he received the club’s Evans-Freehafer Award in 1965.
L to R: Bill Donaho, Fred Patten, Bruce Pelz. Photo courtesy Metcalf & Brown, taken late 1962 or early 1963.
His biography almost ended in 1965, according to club legend – a party crasher evicted from LASFS’ Halloween event came back and fired a shot through the window, narrowly missing him.
Fred took a master’s degree from UCLA’s School of Library Science in 1963, writing his thesis on the books of Andre Norton. He joined Hughes Aircraft in 1969 as a technical catalogue librarian and worked there until 1990.
He was an insatiable reader and enthusiastic critic. He gained fame as one of the prolific, insightful reviewers for Dick Geis’ Hugo-winning Science Fiction Review along with Paul Walker, Ted Pauls and Richard Delap.
From 1975 to 1977, Delap and Patten produced their own monthly review journal, Delap’s F&SF Review.
Fred also had a strong interest in comics and graphic storytelling. He collected foreign language works like Tintin and Asterix, built a small import business by taking orders from friends, then for awhile tried to make a go of a publication, Graphic Story World, and a bookstore, Graphic Story Bookshop, with Richard Kyle in Long Beach.
He first encountered Japanese manga at the 1970 Westercon, and soon discovered anime. Home video recording units were becoming common, which made it practical if not easy for people to obtain copies of things shown on Japanese TV or syndicated in America. He co-founded the first American anime fan club, the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization, in 1977, and was recognized with Comic-Con’s Inkpot Award in 1980 for introducing anime to American fandom.
Fred started establishing contacts with Japanese anime production companies. Toei Animation’s Hollywood representative, then trying to sell an American production of its TV giant-robot animation, gave Fred lots of graphics to write articles for popular-culture magazines like Starlog promoting anime. Over the next 25 years Fred wrote enough pieces to fill a book, Watching Anime, Reading Manga: 25 Years of Essays and Reviews (2004).
These connections led Fred into regular contact with professional animators in Hollywood, where he clashed with them about their stereotyped views of Japanese animation:
Anime also got me into the biggest fight that I have ever been in, with Bill Scott of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame, at the meetings of ASIFA-Hollywood. Scott dismissed Japanese animation as unimaginative costumed-hero stuff, in horribly limited animation. I rebutted, “You should talk! Rocky and Bullwinkle may be brilliant, but it’s hardly for the quality of its animation. You have it animated at one of the cheapest studios in Mexico City. As for the giant-robot stereotype, there’s much more variety in Japanese animation than there is in American animation. It’s that the anime fans don’t want to watch anything besides giant robots.” But it was a lost cause. I was drowned out by Scott and the other American animation-industry veterans chanting, “Poor animation! Awful animation!” I dropped out of ASIFA-Hollywood for several years.
At the same time anime fandom was taking off, there was a parallel development among people interested in anthropomorphic comics and fiction, and Fred was an active participant. Furry fandom began with the amateur press associations (APAs) Vootie and Rowrbrazzle. Vootie, “The Fanzine of the Funny Animal Liberation Front”, run by Reed Waller & Ken Fletcher of Minneapolis s-f fandom, ran from 1976 to 1983. Marc Schirmeister started its replacement, the quarterly Rowrbrazzle, beginning in February 1984.
While helping to nurture these new branches of fandom, Fred remained highly active in mainstream fandom. He chaired the 1974 Santa Barbara Westercon, and the 1987 Loscon. He was on the committees of the 1972, 1984, and 1996 Worldcons. (For L.A.Con, the 1972 Worldcon, he edted the Program Book, and published the daily newzine Wabbit Twacks — a reference to the work of Frederik Pohl, the GoH).
He and John Foyster started the Down Under Fan Fund in 1972, to exchange visiting fans between Australasia and North America in the tradition of TAFF.
In 1971 he was DeepSouthCon’s fan guest of honor.
L.A.Con banquet. Milt Stevens, Fred Patten, Carol Pohl, Frederik Pohl, Dian Crayne. From the collection of Len & June Moffatt.
A highly respected fanhistorian, Fred’s research was helped by his access to Forry Ackerman’s collection of the earliest fanzines. He did an excellent series of articles about Worldcon history for MidAmeriCon’s (1976) progress reports. And he was a dependable authority whose views mattered in debates about whether the first SF convention was Leeds or Philly, and whether the LASFS or PSFS was the oldest existing SF club.
Unfortunately, Fred became bedridden after suffering a stroke in 2005, although with the aid of his sister Sherrill he did sometimes go in a wheelchair to LASFS or visit fans at her apartment, where she fixed up one room as his library with SF art and some awards hanging on the walls. And with the use of a MacBook Pro laptop computer he stayed active in fandom, typing with one finger. Remarkably, he was able to sustain his uninterrupted string of contributions to LASFS’ weekly APA-L until 2009, having an issue of his fanzine ¡Rábanos Radiactivos! in every distribution – for 2,279 weeks in all.
Moving into a convalescent home forced him to give up his sff collection. He donated almost 900 boxes of comic books, records, tapes, anime, manga, fanzines and books to UC Riverside’s Eaton Collection.
Despite finding typing to be much harder after the stroke, his productivity was remarkable. In 2013 he reported that he was reviewing books for three websites and writing a weekly column for another. In the past half-dozen years he’s edited 14 anthologies of anthropomorphic fiction. He also compiled fanhistorical works like Furry Fandom Conventions 1989-2015.
Fred’s indomitable fannish spirit was acknowledged with a Special Committee Award by the 2006 Worldcon, L.A.con IV, “in celebration of a lifetime of service to Fandom.” He was named Fan GoH of Loscon in 2006, and won LASFS’ Forry Award in 2009. And he was inducted to the Furry Hall of Fame in 2012 at the MiDFur convention in Melbourne, Australia, for a lifetime of service to Furry fandom.
A Russian cosmonaut and a U.S. astronaut were safe on Thursday after a Soyuz rocket bound for the International Space Station failed in mid-air two minutes after liftoff in Kazakhstan, leading to a dramatic emergency landing.
The two-man crew, Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and American Nick Hague, landed unharmed on the Kazakh desert steppe as rescue crews raced to reach them, according to the U.S. space agency NASA and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos.
The mishap occurred as the first and second stages of a Russian booster rocket separated shortly after the launch from Kazakhstan’s Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur.
(3) WHALE OF A TALE. L.A. Smith has a fascinating writeup about this 8th century artifact — “The Franks Casket” – carved from whalebone.
…So, the pictures and inscriptions on the casket are a great source of scholarly discussion. To top it all off, there seems to also be some numerological significance to the number of runes on the casket. There are 72 runes on the front and left panels, and a total of 288 runes in total. The 72 could correspond to the 72 disciples mentioned in the Latin Vulgate Bible familiar to the Anglo-Saxons. The number 288 is a multiple of 24, which is the number of runes in an early continental Anglo-Saxon runic alphabet, which had magical significance for the Anglo-Saxons.
Phew! No wonder many scholars have devoted so much time and effort on trying to decipher the runes and pictures on this little box. The more you look at it, the more you discover.
This beautiful box has so much to tell us about this fascinating period in England’s history….
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime premiere – Satoru Mikami is a single geek who suddenly gets stabbed to death on a Tokyo street, only to find himself in a fantasy world, granted fabulous powers, and hobnobbing with a mighty dragon. Typical light-novel power fantasy, right? Well, there are a couple of catches. One is that he’s been reborn as the weakest creature possible. The other concerns the visual presentation of the show itself.
When adapting a popular property, a show is expected to make a predictable amount of money off selling Blu-Rays and merchandise to hardcore fans. Since those fans will buy it no matter what, most shows like this have a look about them that the only minimum necessary effort was made. In this case, a similar calculation seems to have been made, only the conclusion was that those fans will still mindlessly purchase it if it turns into an art film.
This premiere is one visual treat after another, from the careful attention to detail in the movement and posture of people in modern Tokyo, to the trippy mixed-media imagery as Satoru falls into another reality, to the wild expressiveness wrung from a ball of goo. This still has some of the usual problems of light-novel adaptations— the protagonist is already ridiculously overpowered, too much game terminology, and a lot of time spent sitting around and talking— but between the unique twist and the look of this episode, it’s actually enjoyable.
…We encounter Armstrong at three points: 1961, leading up to the start of his training as an astronaut; 1965, just before his first space flight; and 1968, as he prepares to be the first person to walk on the moon. His family life progresses alongside his much more famous professional one: the loss of his two-year-old daughter from brain cancer, the grief that nearly consumes him after, the sacrifices that his service demands from his wife, Janet (Claire Foy), and his relationship with his two boys, to whom he hesitates to explain the dangers of space travel….
…The committee’s members expressed concerns about how protected weapon systems were against cyber-attacks.
The report’s main findings were:
the Pentagon did not change the default passwords on multiple weapons systems – and one changed password was guessed in nine seconds…
So, does the United States use its birthday as a password? – July41776….
(7) RIVERDALE RECAP. A public service message from Martin Morse Wooster:
For people who are wondering how much Riverdale is like Archie Comics, I offer the folllowing recap of last night’s show.
Archie Andrews was found guilty of murder, but he was framed by Veronica’s father. The underground offers to sneak him into Quebec but he decides to stay in Riverdale and take his punishment.
Veronica finds out where the jury in Archie’s trial is sequestered and sneaks into the hotel in a maid’s outfit but is thrown out before she can engage in jury tampering.
Betty is an Adderall addict and is stopped before she can fill a forged prescription.
But the gang still relaxes at Pop’s Malt Shop!
Also, I learned that fans who want Betty and Jughead to have a relationship are known as “Bugheads.”
(8) GLASS. M. Night Shyamalan’s next picture, about tortured people with superpowers, will be released in the U.S. on January 18, 2019.
M. Night Shyamalan brings together the narratives of two of his standout originals—2000’s Unbreakable, from Touchstone, and 2016’s Split, from Universal—in one explosive, all-new comic-book thriller: Glass. From Unbreakable, Bruce Willis returns as David Dunn as does Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price, known also by his pseudonym Mr. Glass. Joining from Split are James McAvoy, reprising his role as Kevin Wendell Crumb and the multiple identities who reside within, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke, the only captive to survive an encounter with The Beast. Following the conclusion of Split, Glass finds Dunn pursuing Crumb’s superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]
Born October 11, 1922 – G.C. Edmondson (José Mario Garry Ordoñez Edmondson y Cotton), Author from Mexico who mostly wrote Westerns under several pen names – and, being fluent in six languages, he also did translations – but produced a number of science fiction works, many involving time travel and Latin America, including the Nebula Award-nominated The Ship That Sailed the Time Stream and its sequel, the trilogy The Cunningham Equations (co-written with C. M. Kotlan), and numerous short works in his Mad Friend universe.
Born October 11, 1928 – Doris Piserchia, 90, Author of more than a dozen of what multiple sources call “darkly comic novels”, including her penultimate novel, I, Zombie which she published under the pseudonym Curt Selby, and a somewhat larger number of short fiction works. Because she had a story in The Last Dangerous Visions, she has been labelled New Wave by some who didn’t do their research properly. Like most genre writers of the 70s and 80s, she has greatly benefited from digital publishing, with all of her backlist now republished in that format.
Born October 11, 1944 – Patrick Parrinder, 74, Writer and Critic from England who is one of the foremost experts on H. G. Wells, having written works specializing on that author subtitled Shadows of the Future, Science Fiction and Prophecy, and The Critical Heritage. Not to be mistaken as a one-trick pony, he’s also penned Science Fiction: Its Criticism and Teaching and Utopian Literature and Science.
Born October 11, 1944 – Julek Heller, 74, Artist and Illustrator from Jerusalem who emigrated to England, who did cover art for around 80 novels and more than 50 works of interior art, mostly in the 80s and 90s, including covers for works by Norton, Moorcock, Silverberg’s Majipoor series, and several Mammoth Books. He also provided artwork for the 1978 TV series Pinocchio.
Born October 11, 1945 – Gay Haldeman, 73, Writer, Translator, and Member of First Fandom who has Masters degrees in Linguistics and Spanish. A fan and con-goer since 1963, she has contributed many letters, essays, and convention reports to genre and fannish publications, a fair number of them written in Spanish. She and her author husband Joe have been Guests of Honor at numerous conventions – including a relaxacon in Sydney, Australia named Haldecon – and she has been much in demand as a con Toastmaster. She and Joe were given the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award (NESFA’s Skylark Award) in 1996.
Born October 11, 1950 – William R. Forstchen, 68, Writer and Historian, whose early novel series included Ice Prophet, Wars of Heaven, Gamestar Wars, and The Lost Regiment, and more recently the One SecondAfter post-apocalyptic novels. Has also contributed novels to the Star Trek, Riftwar, and Wing Commander universes. He was Guest of Honor at InConJunction XIX.
Born October 11, 1953 – David Morse, 65, Actor, Writer, Singer, and Director, who has had main roles in the Hugo-nominated Twelve Monkeys, The Green Mile, The Boy, Double Vision, the Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge-inspired Passengers, and the Hugo-winning film adaptation of Carl Sagan’s Locus-winning Contact, as well as parts in World War Z, Joe Hill’s Horns, TV series Friday the 13th: The Series, Tales from the Crypt, SeaQuest DSV, Medium, and Blindspot, and the Stephen King miniseries The Langoliers.
Born October 11, 1962 – Joan Cusack, 56, Actor and Writer especially known for comedic roles, who had main parts in the Hugo-nominated Addams Family Values (for which she received a Saturn nomination), the film adaptation of David Gerrold’s Hugo- and Nebula-winning The Martian Child, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, and a plethora of voice roles in animated features including the Hugo-nominated Toy Story movies and TV specials, Chicken Little, and Mars Needs Moms.
Born October 11, 1965 – Lennie James, 53, Actor, Screenwriter, and Playwright from England who has had main roles in the genre TV series The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, and Jericho, and movie roles in Blade Runner 2049,Sahara, Lockout, and the (in JJ’s opinion) vastly-underrated Lost in Space.
Born October 11, 1965 – Sean Patrick Flanery, 53, Actor who starred in the TV series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and also had lead roles in the genre films Powder, Demon Hunter, The Insatiable, Veritas, Prince of Truth, InSight, The Devil’s Carnival, and The Evil Within, and guest roles on Stargate: SG-1, The Twilight Zone, The Dead Zone, The Outer Limits, Charmed, and Touched by an Angel.
Born October 11, 1972 – Claudia Black, 46, Actor from Australia best known for her roles as Aeryn Sun on Farscape (for which she won a Saturn Award) and Vala Mal Doran on Stargate SG-1 (for which she won a Constellation Award, Canada’s counterpart to the Saturn Award), who also appeared in the films Pitch Black and Queen of the Damned. Her first genre role was as Cassandra on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, followed by episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess, Beastmaster, The Dresden Files and Haven, a recurring role on The Originals, and a main role on Containment. She has also provided character voices to animated films and TV series, and a very large number of videogames, including Uncharted, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Final Fantasy.
Born October 11, 1972 – Nir Yaniv, 46, Writer, Editor, Musician, and Fan from Israel who in 2000 founded the webzine of the Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy and was its chief editor for seven years. He later edited several issues of Chalomot Be’aspamia, Israel’s only professional printed science fiction and fantasy magazine. He co-authored with Lavie Tidhar the short novel The Tel Aviv Dossier, and has published a collection of his short fiction, The Love Machine and Other Contraptions; several of his stories have been translated into English by Tidhar. As a musician, he created the first Hebrew-language SF music-themed album, The Universe in a Pita, and more recently has begun writing and directing short films of strong genre interest.
Born October 11, 1974 – Ian Mond, 44, Writer, Critic, and Podcaster from Australia who has published a dozen of his own stories, plus a few Doctor Who stories. He was Tuckerized by fellow Australian and Doctor Who writer Kate Orman in the tie-in novel Blue Box. For eight years, he co-hosted with Kirstyn McDermott the Hugo-nominated and Ditmar-winning book podcast, The Writer and the Critic, and his reviews of genre fiction have garnered him two Atheling nominations. He started reviewing for Locus Online in June this year.
Born October 11, 1978 – Wes Chatham, 40, Actor best known for a main role in the Hugo-winning TV series The Expanse, as well as a role in the two-movie Hunger Games installment Mockinjay.
Born October 11, 1974 – Doona Bae, 34, Actor from South Korea whose most notable genre role has been as a lead in the TV series Sense8 but has also had roles in Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending, as well as several South Korean science fiction and horror films including The Ring Virus and The Host and the manga adaptation Air Doll.
Born October 11, 1985 – Michelle Trachtenberg, 33, Actor and Producer who started early in genre roles with a guest role on Space Cases at the age of 11 and a main role on Meego at the age of 12. At 14, she took on a main role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for which she received 3 Saturn nominations. Her other appearances include the films Inspector Gadget, Can’t Be Heaven, Richie Rich’s Christmas Wish, Black Christmas, 17 Again, and The Scribbler, and guest spots on the live-action and animated TV series Sleepy Hollow, Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Robot Chicken, The Super Hero Squad Show, SuperMansion, and Superman/Shazam. She currently has a starring voice role in the animated SF series Human Kind Of.
Most of us are familiar with the tale of how Mary Shelley came to write Frankenstein — how she and her husband Percy were on vacation in Switzerland and happened to be staying near Lord Byron, and on a dark and stormy night, after reading some German horror stories, they decided to have a contest to see who could write the scariest story. It all sounds so genteel. Something you’d see on Masterpiece Theater.
It’s also pure BS.
Mary and her step-sister Claire were the Kardashians of the early 19th Century. And I don’t mean they were wild by the standards of their day. They did things that would still make the front page of TMZ. If they were alive today, they’d be feuding with Beyonce and Taylor Swift, I guarantee it.
So where did the sanitized version of the story come from?
But their happiness was short lived. Wollstonecraft became pregnant at the end of 1796, and she and Godwin decided, despite their mutual misgivings about marriage, to wed so their child would be legitimate. But Wollstonecraft was by now thirty-eight, an age at which child birth became dangerous. Her daughter Mary was born safely, but Wollstonecraft contracted a postpartum infection and died a mere two weeks later, leaving her two daughters in the care of a forty year old man who had spent his entire life as a bachelor.
There are several more posts in this series at O’Hara’s blog, Yes, We Have No Culottes.
Probably what I miss most in our perilous, terrifying and end-of-times-like historical era is the ability to read irresponsibly. There’s just too much responsible reading around; it can drive you to drink. Everything we’re supposed to read keeps looming up out of the darkness, bristling with portents, economic data, apocalyptic planetary crises and an endless urgent blizzard of news bulletins about tweets, personal liberties, gun violence and conflagrations both natural and metaphorical — all of which require more sober attention than most of us can muster. Increasingly (and understandably), reading has become a duty to be performed by conscientious citizens and students. And I’m sorry, but jeez, that just isn’t right.
When I was young, reading irresponsibly was easy. I did it all the time. In fact, well into my late teens and early 20s I could easily lose myself in books and comics; it just came with the territory.
…So, counter to the depressive trend in the WFA finalists this year, this is a romance and an intrigue. All these people are lying to each other, and political groups are plotting right and left. Daevabad is exotic, the details of the city life, the temples and the palace very well assembled. I didn’t have any problems visualizing the people, the creatures or the scenery–the author has done a lot of research. The characters are slightly flat, but the story is more focused on the action and intrigue than on revealing their deepest inner thoughts. The reader is left to deduce a lot of what’s going on from their actions….
On the not so great side, I’ve got some nits to pick with the whole story arc at this point. I suspect the series was written fairly quickly, as Wells has said it’s a short story that got out of control, and after the huge success of the first novella, she quickly got in gear to produce the rest. Tor was also in a hurry to follow up on the initial success, and went light on the editing. That means there are some inconsistencies in the content.
(15) CHIBNALL ON WHO. Showrunner Chris Chibnall discusses his new vision for Doctor Who.
(16) WHO PANEL AT NYCC. Here’s the full Doctor Who panel from New York Comic-Con 2018, with Jodie Whittaker, Chris Chibnall and Matt Strevens.
Scents like “Trash Compactor,” “Inside of a Tauntaun,” “Rancor,” and “Sarlacc Pit” are just some of the scents available in these new, officially licensed candles. There are some more pleasant sounding ones, too, like “Bantha Milk,” “X-Wing Cockpit” and “Yoda’s Cooking Pot”—as well as just plain weird ones like “Death Star Destroyed,” “Millennium Falcon,” “Han Solo Carbonite” and “Lightsaber Duel.”
Stars have planets, and planets have satellites we call moons; but can a moon have its own satellite? And if it did, what would we call it?
In a paper currently up on pre-print resource arXiv, astronomers Juna Kollmeier of the Carnegie Institution for Science and Sean Raymond of the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux have called them submoons.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In La Futur Sera Chauve (The Bald Future) on Vimeo, Paul Cabon imagines how limited his life will be when he loses his hair.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Brian Z., JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]