(1) WHAT’S UP AT THE LOST AZTEC TEMPLE OF MARS? Heritage Auctions’ recent article “Harlan Ellison Collection Continues With Showcase Auction November 12th” features an interview with J. Michael Straczynski, giving a substantial update on plans for Harlan and Susan Ellison’s house.
[Robert Wilonsky]: It’s my understanding that the sale of this artwork in November will go toward turning his home into a landmark and learning center. Can you provide some details on that, in terms of what you’d like to see happen – and how this project came to pass?
[J. Michael Straczynski]: Harlan and Susan wanted the house maintained after their passing as a memorial library, full of books (50,000 by actual count), art (the pieces in the Heritage auction represent only a small portion of what’s there), comics, amazing architecture (complete with a tower, hidden rooms, gargoyles and the Lost Aztec Temple of Mars)…a place dedicated to writing, to creativity and art and music. This is now in progress.
To ensure that things are done properly now and in the event I get hit by a car, the Estate has been transitioned into a nonprofit corporation, the Harlan and Susan Ellison Foundation. Through the Estate and, later, the Foundation, the house has been and is undergoing a series of restorations. New security systems, landscaping, repairs and the like. We want people to be able to come in small groups for tours…fans of Harlan’s work, sure, but also lovers of art and books and architecture, as well as academics who will be able to study his manuscripts and decades of correspondences with some of the most famous writers in and out of the science fiction genre. We want to host speakers talking about writing, rotating displays of art from Disney animation to comics and art deco and rare books…we’re creating an outdoor space for lectures and perhaps a wedding or two. We are also planning to secure historical/cultural landmark status for the house.
There will be scholarships set aside for new writers coming out of high school, and donations to the kind of charitable causes Harlan supported in life. To bring the house alive, we will have audio playing through the house: Harlan reading his stories in one room, speaking at a convention or a party in another, and from the writing room upstairs, his office, the sound of jazz and a typewriter. (In keeping with the Disneyland tradition where the park is never silent at night, we may keep the jazz and typewriter going 24/7.) There will be projected video displays of Harlan and Susan in various rooms, and seminars on his work and his place in literature. We are also arranging for his back catalog of books to be republished, and plan to host launch parties at the house for critics and others in the press.
Harlan deserves a special place in American letters, and his home, the Harlan and Susan Memorial Library, deserves a special place in the geography of Los Angeles, and the funds raised through this auction will be crucial to accomplishing those goals.
(2) SUBTLE AS A SLEDGEHAMMER. Norman Spinrad today sent his mailing list a link to his 2018 song “Donald Trump Agent of Satan” with the admonition, “Do I have to say that this song, video, words, is more urgent than ever before ? Pro bono on line, on the air, viralized, in the streets, in the churches, use it in the coming elections.”
(3) YOU’RE THE TOPS. The New York Times analyzes “How Colleen Hoover Rose to Rule the Best-Seller List”. Some of her work is genre.
…She holds six of the top 10 spots on The New York Times’s paperback fiction best-seller list, a stunning number of simultaneous best sellers from a single author. She has sold 8.6 million print books this year alone — more copies than the Bible, according to NPD BookScan.
And her success — a shock that she’s still processing, she said — has upended the publishing industry’s most entrenched assumptions about what sells books.
When she self-published her first young adult novel, “Slammed,” in January of 2012, Hoover was making $9 an hour as a social worker, living in a single-wide trailer with her husband, a long-distance truck driver, and their three sons. She was elated when she made $30 in royalties. It was enough to pay the water bill.
Hoover, 42, didn’t have a publisher, an agent or any of the usual marketing machinery that goes into engineering a best seller: the six-figure marketing campaigns, the talk-show and podcast tours, the speaking gigs and literary awards, the glowing reviews from mainstream book critics.
But seven months later, “Slammed” hit the New York Times best-seller list. By May, Hoover had made $50,000 in royalties, money she used to pay back her stepfather for the trailer. By the summer, with two books on the best-seller list — “Slammed” and a sequel, “Point of Retreat,” — she quit her job to write full time.
Her success has happened largely on her terms, led by readers who act as her evangelists, driving sales through ecstatic online reviews and viral reaction videos.
Her fans, who are mostly women, call themselves CoHorts and post gushing reactions to her books’ devastating climaxes. A CoHo fan who made the following plea on TikTok is typical: “I want Colleen Hoover to punch me in the face. That would hurt less than these books.”
So far in 2022, five of the top 10 best-selling print books of any genre are Hoover’s, according to NPD BookScan, and many of her current best-sellers came out years ago, a phenomenon that’s almost unheard-of in publishing….
(4) IN THE YEAR 2484. “Restored Sci-Fi Series ‘The Visitors’ Unveiled by WDR” – Variety tells how it happened.
German broadcasting group WDR is traveling back in time with the newly restored 1983 cult sci-fi series “The Visitors.”
The Czechoslovakian show is set in 2484, a utopian future in which humanity is united under one common government, advised in all decisions by a computer known as “the central thinker,” and where hunger, disease and war have been eradicated. When Earth finds itself suddenly threatened by an imminent collision with a comet, however, leading academic Filip and three comrades travel back to 1984 in a contemporary-looking Lada Niva in search of a lost formula that enables the shifting of planets, which could save Earth.Created by Ota Hofman and Jindřich Polák, the team behind the classic 1970s Czechoslovak children’s series “Pan Tau,” “The Visitors” was known domestically as “Návštěvníci,” “Die Besucher” in West Germany and “Expedition Adam 84” in East Germany….
(5) A MCFLY IN THE BIG APPLE. “‘Back to the Future’ Musical to Open on Broadway Next Summer” reports the New York Times. Coincidentally, this is the production that will follow The Music Man at the Winter Garden Theater.
Filmdom’s most famous DeLorean is getting ready to park itself on Broadway.
A musical adaptation of the hit 1985 film “Back to the Future” is planning to open on Broadway next summer, its producers announced Friday. (Look at your calendar: Friday is Oct. 21, which is when devoted fans celebrate “Back to the Future Day.”)
The musical, with a creative team that combines veterans of the film with some Broadway stalwarts, has already had a life in Britain.
It had an ill-timed opening at the Manchester Opera House on March 11, 2020; that production closed a few days later because of the coronavirus pandemic. The show then transferred to London last fall, where it has had much better luck: It won this year’s Olivier Award for best new musical, and it is still running at the Adelphi Theater.
…“Back to the Future: The Musical” features a book by Bob Gale, the screenwriter who co-wrote and co-produced all three films, and songs by Alan Silvestri, who composed the film’s score, as well as Glen Ballard, a record producer and songwriter. The musical also includes pop songs featured in the film, including “The Power of Love.”
The director is John Rando, who in 2002 won a Tony Award for “Urinetown.”…
(6) DRAWN THAT WAY. “A.I.-Generated Art Is Already Transforming Creative Work” but the creative professionals interviewed by the New York Times don’t sound worried.
…These apps, though new, are already astoundingly popular. DALL-E 2, for example, has more than 1.5 million users generating more than two million images every day, while Midjourney’s official Discord server has more than three million members.
These programs use what’s known as “generative A.I.,” a type of A.I. that was popularized several years ago with the release of text-generating tools like GPT-3 but has since expanded into images, audio and video.
It’s still too early to tell whether this new wave of apps will end up costing artists and illustrators their jobs. What seems clear, though, is that these tools are already being put to use in creative industries.
Recently, I spoke to five creative-class professionals about how they’re using A.I.-generated art in their jobs.
… Patrick Clair, 40, a filmmaker in Sydney, Australia, started using A.I.-generated art this year to help him prepare for a presentation to a film studio.
Mr. Clair, who has worked on hit shows including “Westworld,” was looking for an image of a certain type of marble statue. But when he went looking on Getty Images — his usual source for concept art — he came up empty. Instead, he turned to DALL-E 2.
“I put ‘marble statue’ into DALL-E, and it was closer than what I could get on Getty in five minutes,” Mr. Clair said.
Since then, he has used DALL-E 2 to help him generate imagery, such as the above image of a Melbourne tram in a dust storm, that isn’t readily available from online sources.
He predicted that rather than replacing concept artists or putting Hollywood special effects wizards out of a job, A.I. image generators would simply become part of every filmmaker’s tool kit.
“It’s like working with a really willful concept artist,” he said.
“Photoshop can do things that you can’t do with your hands, in the same way a calculator can crunch numbers in a way that you can’t in your brain, but Photoshop never surprises you,” he continued. “Whereas DALL-E surprises you, and comes back with things that are genuinely creative.”
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1972 — [By Cat Eldridge.] The Screaming Woman
It’s interesting to discover what has been produced based on the works of Bradbury. Fifty years ago, the ABC network acquired Bradbury’s “The Screaming Woman” story, first published in The Graveyard Reader in 1958.
The story was based on his 1948 radio play for the CBS show Suspense. The movie script was written by Merwin Gerard. The film was produced by Universal Television and originally aired as an ABC Movie of the Week on January 29, 1972. Bradbury often wrote stories off radio plays that he had done.
OOOH SPOILERS BE HERE!
A very rich woman — a released mental patient — is now home on her remote estate to recuperate. While out on the grounds one day she hears the screams of a woman who has been buried alive. Her family, however, adamantly refuses to believe her, and takes the opportunity to prove she’s insane, so they can take control of her estate.
STILL THERE? COME ON BACK.
Ok, skip this not all horrific version and read on for another version that you should see instead. That version is scary, makes sense and faithful to our writer.
It had a rather good cast in Olivia de Havilland, Ed Nelson, Laraine Stephens and Joseph Cotten. However what it did not have is a script that in any manner what so ever resembled the story that Bradbury wrote. Seriously I have no idea why they needed to buy his script given that the plot is an age old one that has been used over and over.
Now don’t be confused if you think seen a different version as the Ray Bradbury Theater would also do this fourteen years later. Not surprisingly that version was completely faithful to his story as Bradbury wrote the script. The Ray Bradbury Theater is streaming on Paramount +.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born October 22, 1908 — John Zaremba. Best remembered for his role as Zaremba in The Time Tunnel, though I’m also noting that he had a rather amazing eleven appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents as well. In the Fifties, he appeared in three SF films: The Magnetic Monster as Chief Watson, in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers in the role of Prof. Kanter, and lastly in Frankenstein’s Daughter as Police Lt. Boyle. He had later one-offs on Fantasy Island, Twilight Zone, Batman, Invaders, Wild Wild West, Munsters, Mission: Impossible and Get Smart!. (Note: If I don’t note which version of a series it is, it’s the original.) (Died 1986.)
- Born October 22, 1938 — Derek Jacobi, 84. He was Professor Yana in “Utopia”, a Tenth Doctor story. He’s played Metatron on Good Omens. And he was Magisterial Emissary in The Golden Compass. I’ll single out that he’s played Macbeth at Barbican Theatre in London as part of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre ensemble.
- Born October 22, 1938 — Christopher Lloyd, 84. He has starred as Commander Kruge in The Search for Spock, Emmett “Doc” Brown in the Back to the Future trilogy, Judge Doom in the most excellent Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and played a wonderful Uncle Fester in The Addams Family and the Addams Family Values. (Though I admit didn’t spot him in that makeup.) Let’s not forget that he was in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as John Bigbooté, and he played Dr. Cletus Poffenberger in a recurring role on Tremors.
- Born October 22, 1939 — Suzy McKee Charnas,83. I’d say The Holdfast Chronicles are her best work to date. “Boobs” won the Best Story Hugo at ConFiction. Her Beauty and the Opéra or The Phantom Beast novelette was a nominee at LoneStarCon 2. She’s also won the Otherwise, Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature, Nebula, Gaylactic Spectrum, and Lambda Literary Awards. Any of you read her Sorcery Hall series?
- Born October 22, 1943 — Jim Baen. Editor of Galaxy and If for three years. He edited the sf line at Ace ad then Tor before starting his own namesake company in 1983. In late 1999, he started Webscriptions, now called Baen Ebooks, which is considered to be the first profitable e-book service. He also was the editor of Destinies and New Destinies which I remember fondly. He was nominated for Best Editor Hugo five times between 1975 and 1981 but never won. At Nippon 2007, he’d be nominated for Best Editor, Long Form. (Died 2006.)
- Born October 22, 1952 — Jeff Goldblum, 70. The Wiki page gushes over him for being in Jurassic Park and Independence Day (as well as their sequels, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Independence Day: Resurgence), but neglects my favorite film with him in it, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, not to mention the Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake he was in. Well, I do really like Independence Day. Though not even genre adjacent, he’s got a really nice run on Law and Order: Criminal Intent as Zack Nichols.
- Born October 22, 1958 — Keith Parkinson. An illustrator known for book covers and artwork for games such as EverQuest, Magic: The Gathering and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. Book cover wise, he’s remembered for covers for Terry Goodkind, Margaret Weis, Terry Brooks, and David Eddings. He died of leukemia in 2005, just four days after his 47th birthday. (Died 2005.)
- Born October 22, 1960 — Dafydd ab Hugh, 62. “The Coon Rolled Down and Ruptured His Larinks, A Squeezed Novel by Mr. Skunk” originally printed in Asimov’s Science Fiction, was nominated for a Nebula Award. He writes a lot of Trek novels, mostly set on the Deep Space Nine series. All of his fiction is media ties save as EoSF notes, “The Arthur War Lord sequence, comprising Arthur War Lord (1994) and Far Beyond the Wave (1994), is sf with a fantasy coloration. This features the adventures of a man who, via Time Travel convention, chases a female CIA agent into Arthurian times, where she is attempting to assassinate the king, and thus to change history.” Sounds potentially interesting.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- “Real Life Adventures” shows two dissatisfied customers learning a new board game.
(10) DON’T BLINK. “NASA’s New James Webb Shot Is Much Better When You Put Googly Eyes on It” decides Futurism.
…On Wednesday, NASA released the latest cosmic photo snapped by its James Webb Space Telescope: an absolutely mesmerizing shot of the space dust-filled star nursery known as the Pillars of Creation.
Then, a day later, a new photo dropped. Twitter user ScienceSocks — definitely not NASA — put googly eyes on the Pillars, because of course they did….
(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Halloween Ends Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George, in a spoiler-filled episode, has the producer explain that what the writer is pitching is “A Halloween reboot/sequel/sequel/sequel.” Michael Myers, who in the last episode was so strong that he fought an entire town, is now so weak that he has been living in a sewer as “a geriatric Pennywise the clown.” But after a third character’s rise and fall, we get the final battle between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers, which pits “an old weak sewer guy versus a grandmother.” “Angry grandmothers are tight!” the excited producer says.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Cat Rambo, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]