(1) 1632 AT FANTASCI. The first 1632Con from 1632 & Beyond will be at FantaSci in Raleigh-Durham, NC from April 19-21. Kevin Ikenberry, author of the Assiti Shards book The Crossing, is one of the con’s Special Guests. Bjorn Hasseler, Bethanne Kim, and Chuck Thompson will all be there, as will other authors from the series.
(2) A PASSENGER ABOARD SILVERBERG’S SPACESHIP. Todd Mason researches the early sff of Fred Chappell, who died early in January: “Fred Chappell’s 3 (earliest published?) short stories, in Robert Silverberg’s SPACESHIP, April 1952, April and October 1953” at Sweet Freedom.
Fred Chappell (born 28 May 1936/died 4 January 2024) and Robert Silverberg (born 15 January 1935) were teenaged fantastic-fiction fans in 1952, but were already showing some promise of the kind of writers (and editors) they would soon and continue to become…both had discovered the fiction magazines, among other reading, that would help shape a notable part of both their careers, and were involved in the (somewhat!) organized fantasy/sf/horror-fiction-fandom culture of the late ’40s and early ’50s…so much so that three issues of young New Yorker Silverberg’s fanzine (or amateur magazine meant for other fans and any other interested parties) Spaceship (first published by Silverberg in 1949) would each offer one of three vignettes from young Canton, North Carolina resident Fred Chappell, in Starship’s 4/52, 4/53 and 10/53 issues….
(3) IN MEMORIAM LIST. “In Memoriam: 2023”, Steven H Silver’s compilation of sff figures who died last year, has been posted at Amazing Stories.
(4) FOLLOW THE MONEY. Jason Sanford’s “Genre Grapevine for January 2024” at Patreon about the Hugo controversy and other news is a free read.
… And here’s a great reason why all this drama likely happened in the first place: MONEY!
According to China.org.cn, “Investment deals valued at approximately $1.09 billion were signed during the 81st World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) held in Chengdu, Sichuan province, last week at its inaugural industrial development summit, marking significant progress in the advancement of sci-fi development in China. The deals included 21 sci-fi industry projects involving companies that produce films, parks, and immersive sci-fi experiences. Others were related to the development of melodramas, games, and the metaverse. Additionally, various service platforms for sci-fi franchise incubation projects and sci-fi cultural and creative funds will be developed.”
As Charles Stross wrote, “That’s a metric fuckton of moolah in play, and it would totally account for the fan-run convention folks being discreetly elbowed out of the way and the entire event being stage-managed as a backdrop for a major industrial event to bootstrap creative industries (film, TV, and games) in Chengdu. And—looking for the most charitable interpretation here—the hapless western WSFS people being carried along for the ride to provide a veneer of worldcon-ness to what was basically Chinese venture capital hijacking the event and then sanitizing it politically.”…
(5) OUT AT HOME. For what good it will do the Florida governor now that he’s out of the GOP primary race, The Hollywood Reporter brings this news: “Disney-DeSantis Lawsuit: Court Dismisses Free Speech Suit”.
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit from the Walt Disney Co. against Ron DeSantis that may decide the entertainment giant’s authority to control development around its sprawling theme park.
U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor, in an order issued on Wednesday, found Disney “lacks standing to sue the governor” and DeSantis’ handpicked board that now controls the district in which the company’s park operates. He concluded that the statute reshaping the leadership structure and granting the governor the authority to appoint every member of the tax district’s governing body is “facially constitutional” and cannot be challenged with a free speech claim….
(6) TANGLED UP IN BLUE. “’Avatar’ VFX Artists in U.S. Vote to Unionize” at The Hollywood Reporter.
Of an eligible 88 workers at Walt Disney Studios subsidiary TCF US Productions 27, Inc. who assist with productions for Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment, 57 voted to join the union and 19 voted against, while two ballots were void. These workers include creatures costume leads and environment artists as well as others in the stage, environments, render, post viz, sequence, turn over and kabuki departments…
(7) WE’RE NOT KIDDING. “The Onion Union Reaches Tentative Deal With Management, Averting Strike” also at The Hollywood Reporter. Try saying “Onion Union” three times fast…
A strike has been averted at The Onion and several of its sister publications, at least for now.
Hours before their current labor agreement was set to expire, The Onion union — representing staffers at The Onion, Onion Labs, The A.V. Club, Deadspin and The Takeout — reached a tentative deal on a new contract with owners G/O Media. According to union, affiliated with the Writers Guild of America East, the new agreement “made important gains in wages and workplace protections.” No other details were immediately available.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.
[Written by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 31, 1934 — Gene DeWeese. (Died 2012.) This Scroll I’m looking at a writer this I’ve never heard of before, Gene DeWeese. He was a member of fandom, and his stories were published in fanzines such as The Chigger Patch of Fandom, Fan-Fare and Yandro. He was a member of the Eastern Indiana Science Fiction Association and the Midwest Nomads. Fancyclopedia notes, “He tried to attend Midwestcon 4 in 1953 with his friends Bev Clark and Buck Coulson, but left when she wasn’t permitted in due to Beatley’s Hotel’s racist Jim Crow policy.”
His first professional novels appeared in the Sixties, a Man from U.N.C.L.E. book co-written with Robert “Buck” Coulson under the name Thomas Stratton, The Invisibility Affair. They would do one more book in this continuity, The Mind-Twisters Affair.
(I do wish that these, like so many works of that era, had become digital publications. They didn’t obviously.)
In the Seventies he and Coulson wrote under their own names two novels set in fandom, Now You See It/Him/Them… and Charles Fort Never Mentioned Wombats.
Most of us remember DeWeese for his Trek novels which is interesting as they were written later in his career. The four that are set in the original continuity were written the Eighties onward, all by him except one he wrote with Margaret Wander Bonanno and Diane Duane. He also wrote three set in the Next Generation continuity as well.
What else did he do? There’s Dinotopia novels, something I swear exists by the dozens even if they don’t. I think. And one in the Lost in Space continuity as well.
What’s more interesting is the series that I’ve never heard of. The Black Suits from Outer Space YA trilogy involves, well, Men (possibly) in Black, plucky teenagers, spaceships, aliens (some cute, some not) and nothing terrible challenging. Fun is the best word to describe them.
He wrote two novels in the Birthstone Gothic series which as near as I can tell is the standard cookie cutter gothic mansion pulpish series with no redeeming alue ehat-so-ever that a writer would do because, well, there’s money there. (The reviewers on Goodreads admit that they were really, really horrible. In an entertaining way.)
He wrote three novels in the Ravenloft continuity, a campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons. I just got the giggles, errr, laughs reading the summary of that module, but then I never played fantasy RPGs, just SF ones like the Traveller RPG. What a fantastic RPG that was!
There’s still a lot of other novels that I’ve not mentioned and quite a bit of short stories (none collected).
(9) COMICS SECTION.
(10) ENDLESS TROUBLES. Artist Colleen Doran tells how the sky fell on her after she agreed to adapt Good Omens: “Great Big Good Omens Graphic Novel Update”. You think Job had it bad?
Anyway, as a long time Good Omens novel fan, you may imagine how thrilled I was to get picked to adapt the graphic novel.
This is quite a task, I have to say, especially since I was originally going to just draw (and color) it, but I ended up writing the adaptation as well. Tricky to fit a 400 page novel into a 160-ish page graphic novel, especially when so much of the humor is dependent on the language, and not necessarily on the visuals.
Not complainin’, just sayin’.
Anyway, I started out the gate like a herd of turtles, because right away I got COVID which knocked me on my butt.
And COVID brain fog? That’s a thing. I already struggle with brain fog due to autoimmune disease, and COVID made it worse.
Not complainin’ just sayin’.
This set a few of the assignments on my plate back, which pushed starting Good Omens back.
But hey, big fat lead time! No worries!
Then my computer crawled toward the grave….
(11) COME LIVE THAT DAY ALL OVER AGAIN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Groundhog Day cast members will reunite in Chicago on February 2 to celebrate the life and career of director Harold Ramis.
The reunion will feature an immersive experience inspired by the 1993 film, as well as iconic costumes, props and set pieces.
The comedy’s mayor himself, Brian Doyle-Murray, will appear with a real groundhog to forecast the next six weeks of weather, just like in the movie. Groundhog Day Cast Will Officially Reunite for the First Time in Chicago (movieweb.com)
According to the release (per Harry Caray’s Tavern), nine Groundhog Day actors are expected to show up at Harry Caray’s Tavern, Navy Pier, on Friday, February 2. Unfortunately, the movie’s two leads, Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, were not listed among those expected to appear. Given Murray’s love of Chicago Cubs baseball, though, he could pop in as a surprise guest, but that’s not been confirmed. However, Stephen Tobolowsky, the actor who played the unforgettable insurance salesman, Ned Ryerson, will be in attendance.
Joining Tobolowsky is another prominent cast member, Bill Murray’s brother, Brian Doyle-Murray (the mayor who almost chokes to death). Marita Geraghty (Nancy Taylor — the woman who makes noises like a chipmunk when she gets “real excited”), Robin Duke (Doris the waitress), Ken Hudson Campbell (the hotel guest who says “ciao”), David Pasquesi (the psychiatrist who asks if Murray’s character can come back tomorrow), Peggy Roeder (Phil Connors’ piano teacher), Richard Henzel (DJ) and Don Rio McNichols (drummer) are all scheduled to show up at Harry Caray’s Tavern. And fans can check out one of Phil Connors (Murray) and Ned Ryerson’s memorable scenes (below) to whet their appetities:
And there will be a related promiotion next door:
Chef Art Smith’s Reunion, located right next door to Harry Caray’s Tavern, will be playing Groundhog Day on their monitors and treating guests to a complimentary taste of their signature Punxsutawney Punch which will be available for purchase all day. Additional offerings include a GREAT Instagrammable moment where guests can take their pic being a groundhog. Make sure you say the line “I had groundhog for lunch, tastes like chicken” to get dessert comped on the house! Click below to make a reservation.
(12) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. “NASA’s Webb Depicts Staggering Structure in 19 Nearby Spiral Galaxies – NASA Science at NASA Science.
“Webb’s new images are extraordinary,” said Janice Lee, a project scientist for strategic initiatives at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. “They’re mind-blowing even for researchers who have studied these same galaxies for decades. Bubbles and filaments are resolved down to the smallest scales ever observed, and tell a story about the star formation cycle.”
… Something else that amazed astronomers? Webb’s images show large, spherical shells in the gas and dust. “These holes may have been created by one or more stars that exploded, carving out giant holes in the interstellar material,” explained Adam Leroy, a professor of astronomy at the Ohio State University in Columbus.
Now, trace the spiral arms to find extended regions of gas that appear red and orange. “These structures tend to follow the same pattern in certain parts of the galaxies,” Rosolowsky added. “We think of these like waves, and their spacing tells us a lot about how a galaxy distributes its gas and dust.” Study of these structures will provide key insights about how galaxies build, maintain, and shut off star formation….
(13) DOUBLE DIP. Two new trailers for Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, coming to movie theaters March 22. This is the US trailer:
This is the international trailer, which reportedly includes some different footage.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Steven H Silver, Kathy Sullivan, Todd Mason, Daniel Dern, Dariensync, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]