(1) SEATTLE 2025 WORLDCON MEMBERSHIP RATES RISE TOMORROW. At least for a few more hours the cost of a WSFS Membership + Attending Membership Supplement for an adult over the age of 25 is $175. The other permutations are explained at the Memberships – Seattle Worldcon 2025 page.
Mark Roth-Whitworth sent a few editorial comments along with the foregoing reminder:
I just got our memberships for Seattle in ’25. Ouch. This far out, $175 each, and I think it goes up after tomorrow.
Was the same demographic going as did back in the Sixties and Seventies, it would be a *lot* smaller. Most of us were working class. Hell, my late wife and I together maybe made the median income, or maybe just under. In 1993 it would have been hard to pay for this.
Forget the graying of fandom, how about the economic stratification of fandom? Where are the folks who are making a living working construction, or flipping burgers, or barista, or drive a cab, or working in a thousand other jobs that we need, but make crap wages? Or people on SSI or other welfare?
I know I ghosted a con or two in my mid-twenties, when I just did not have the money. I don’t know a lot of folks who go to other than their local cons, and work them to afford it.
Have we become elite?
(2) EMMY AWARDS. Genre TV was shut out at the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony which aired on January 15. The complete list of winners – largely repeated wins by Succession, The Bear, and Beef — is here.
(3) HISTORIC MOMENTS IN TELEVISION. There are, however, plenty of genre highlights in the Television Academy’s anniversary list of 75 “Top TV Moments”.
Arguably the first one on the list is genre, because fans voted the Hugo Award to TV coverage of the Apollo 11 mission. Beyond that, you have to wait ‘til way down the list before there’s another.
1. The Moon Landing. After Apollo 11 landed on the moon, astronaut Neil Armstrong proclaims “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. 1969.
40. The Twilight Zone. “Time Enough at Last” After a nuclear catastrophe, loner Harry Bemis (Burgess Meredith) is left with all the time in the world to read his beloved books, only to shatter his glasses, leaving him virtually blind. 1950.
50. Star Trek – Kirk and Uhura kiss, 1968
51. Game of Thrones — “The Rains of Castamere” At Robb’s (Richard Madden) wedding, Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) reveals chain mail under Bolton’s (Michael McElhatton) clothes just as Robb’s wife is murdered, Robb is shot with arrows, and his men’s throats are cut.
And there are several more beyond that, from The Last of Us, Lost, another from Game of Thrones, and the Mary Martin version of Peter Pan.
(4) DEEP IMPACT. Animation World Network’s Kevin Geiger anticipates “The Impact of AI on Hollywood in 2024: 12 Predictions”. Short version: AI will take away a bunch of existing jobs. Here’s an excerpt of what he forsees.
4. Deepfake filmmaking has become the new paradigm.
The continued evolution of deepfake technology enables filmmakers of all resource levels to create younger versions of living actors or bring deceased actors back to the screen. This has already been used to tell stories that span different periods. While the technology offers exciting creative opportunities, it raises significant ethical concerns regarding consent and the potential misuse of digital likenesses. Seeing is no longer believing.
5. Rise of the AI-driven extras and stunt doubles.
The use of AI-generated virtual extras and stunt doubles will be a game-changer in reducing production costs and logistical complexities, particularly in scenes requiring large crowds or dangerous stunts. However, the application of AI technology will accelerate the reduced employment opportunities for human extras and stunt performers.
6. The visual effects industry becomes more director-driven.
AI’s ability to produce sophisticated visual effects quickly and cost-effectively is set to enhance the visual storytelling in films. The prospect of generating visual effects via “prompting” (otherwise known as “directing”) will make VFX more director-driven, and encourage greater creative expression and experimentation. The number of “technical directors” required on a film will be reduced: a benefit to major studios and indie producers, but a threat to hired guns.
7. AI-assisted editing is now the default starting point.
AI-assisted editing is revolutionizing work reels and post-production by autonomously selecting takes, suggesting edits, and assembling rough cuts. This can significantly speed up the editing process and reduce costs, but over-reliance on AI could reduce the editor’s creative control, lead
(5) AAFCA AWARDS. The 15th Annual African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) Award Winners include Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
Best Drama: Origin
Best Comedy: American Fiction
Best Musical: The Color Purple
Best Director: Ava DuVernay (Origin)
Best Screenplay: American Fiction
Best Actor: Colman Domingo (Rustin)
Best Actress: Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor (Origin)
Best Supporting Actor: Sterling K. Brown (American Fiction)
Best Supporting Actress: *TIE* Da’Vine Joy Randolph (The Holdovers), Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple)
Best Ensemble: The Color Purple
Breakout Performance: Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon)
Emerging Filmmaker: Cord Jefferson (American Fiction)
Best Independent Feature: A Thousand and One
Best Animated Feature: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Best Documentary: Stamped From The Beginning
Best Music: The Color Purple
Best International Film: Io Capitano
Best Short Film: The After
(6) EKPEKI Q&A. Paul Semel interviews “’The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction 2022’ Co-Editor Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki”.
While other Best Of type anthologies only consider short stories, The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction 2022 also includes poems. I recently interviewed Stephen Kotowych, the editor of Year’s Best Canadian Fantasy And Science Fiction: Volume One, which also includes poetry. Is there something going on in the speculative realm where poetry is becoming more popular or respected?
Speculative poetry is such a wide and important form that we decided to include this year to make the book separate from last year’s. Hopefully, it’s something that matches up with the vibrancy the speculative poetry world exudes [and this is a] chance to showcase some of that speculative poetry vibrancy going on
(7) THE METERS OF MIDDLE-EARTH. And CBR.com studies “How The Lord of the Rings Made Poetry Exciting”.
…The characters of The Lord of the Rings used poetry as a coping mechanism to deal with negative emotions. Shortly after leaving the Shire, the hobbits were overwhelmed with uncertainty and weariness about the journey ahead. To raise their spirits, Frodo recited “The Road goes ever on and on,” a poem that Bilbo had taught him. In Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf and Bilbo both sang sections of this same poem. As the hobbits rested at Weathertop, poetry again assuaged their worries. In the chapter “A Knife in the Dark” from Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, Aragorn “began to tell them tales to keep their minds from fear.” These tales came in the form of poems, such as the song of Beren and Lúthien….
(8) FREE READ. Entries in the Quantum Shorts flash fiction contest are available to read at the link. The shortlist will be announced in March.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.
[Written by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 17, 1931 — James Earl Jones, 93. This Scroll you’re getting James Earl Jones, most notably known in our circles as the voice of a certain Sith Lord whose voice he did up to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, but he’s got much more, and sometimes surprisingly diverse career here. So let’s see what he’s done…
His film debut was as Lieutenant Lothar Zogg, the B-52’s bombardier in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
In 1969, Jones participated in making short films for what became Sesame Street. These were combined with animated segments, then were shown to groups of children to see if the format appealed to children. As cited by production notes included in the Sesame Street: Old School 1969–1974 DVD, the short that had the greatest impact with test audiences was one showing a bald-headed Jones counting slowly to ten. And yes, it was shown on the show when it aired.
I truly love him in Conan the Barbarian as Thulsa Doom, an antagonist for the character Kull of Atlantis. Thulsa Doom was created by Robert E. Howard in the “Delcardes’ Cat” story. Neat character for him, I’d say.
He’s in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold withthe name of Umslopogaas, a fearless warrior and old friend of Allan Quatermain. I looked him up in the original novel, Allan Quatermain. Please don’t make me do that again. Really. Don’t.
Ahhh, Field of Dreams: “Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it.” Great role. To say more would involve spoilers, right?
He voices Mufusa, the lion murdered by his brother in The Lion King and its sequel, who death does not stop from being present. Really present. Extraordinary performing by him.
Did you know that he narrated Stallone’s Judge Dredd? Well he did. He was uncredited at time but as is with these things, it didn’t stay a secret permanently, did it?
He had series appearances on Faerie Tale Theatre (as, and I simply love it, Genie of the Lamp, Genie of the Ring), Highway to Heaven, Shelley Duvall’s Bedtime Stories, Picket Fences, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, (he was the uncredited narrator of 3rd Rock from the Sun (maybe he’s the nameless narrator for all of the multiverse?), Touched by an Angel in which he’s the Angel of Angels, cool name, Stargate SG-1 , Merlin and finally as himself on The Big Bang Theory.
He hosted Long Ago and Far Away, a children’s series that lasted thirty-five episodes with each of them based on a folk or fairy tale. Stop motion animation, live actors and traditional animation were all used.
That’s it, folks.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- The Argyle Sweater features Star Wars dessert puns.
(11) PAYDAY FOR COMIC OWNER. “Rare copy of The Amazing Spider-Man No 1 sells for more than £1m” – the Guardian wanted you to know. And weep if you ever owned a copy in your youth.
A rare copy of the first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man has sold for more than £1m.
The comic, published in March 1963, reached a record-setting $1.38m (£1.1m) at auction. It is one of only two copies of The Amazing Spider-Man No 1 rated “near mint/mint” by comic book grading service Certified Guaranty Company (CGC).
“It was obvious this Spider-Man was an opportunity not likely to come around, and the final price reflected that,” said Barry Sandoval, vice president at Heritage Auctions, the company that ran the auction, according to Fine Books magazine.
The copy sold for nearly three times as much as a CGC-rated “near mint” version sold in July last year for $520,380 (£410,184)….
(12) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. The lede is the most interesting part of Variety’s article “When Superman and Batman Copyrights Expire in a Decade, Will It Be Kryptonite for DC?”.
About a decade ago, Zack Snyder developed a storyline for the DC Extended Universe that involved Bruce Wayne impregnating Lois Lane.
The subplot in which Batman cuckolds Superman was poised to unfold in “Justice League,” with Batman dying in the sequel and Lois raising their spawn with Superman. Snyder’s vision for Wonder Woman was equally unorthodox, with visuals featuring a superheroine who brandished the decapitated heads of her conquered enemies like an ISIS jihadi.
Warner Bros. and DC Studios — which hold a firm grip on their intellectual property — rejected Snyder’s ideas, which were deemed “super creepy,” according to a source familiar with the back and forth. (DC declined to comment for this story. A representative for Snyder did not respond to a request for comment.) But in the next decade, artists and rival studios won’t need permission to create their own take on the characters.
A sad fact of Hollywood is that while superheroes never truly die, all copyrights do. On Jan. 1, Disney lost control of “Steamboat Willie,” and within 24 hours two horror-comedies starring Mickey Mouse were announced. The DC characters are the next major expirations looming on the horizon. Superman and Lois Lane will enter the public domain in 2034, followed by Batman in 2035, the Joker in 2036 and Wonder Woman in 2037….
(13) FIREFLY ON THE CHEAP. SYFY Wire admires “How Serenity Slashed Its Budget from $100 Million to $39 Million” and was able to get greenlighted.
…In a 2005 interview with the Los Angeles Times, the effects crew and film’s creators opened up about the ways they shaved tens of millions off the film’s cost. Basically, they shot it like a TV show, creating only what was necessary and meticulously storyboarding things out so no resources were wasted.
One of the movie’s most ambitious set pieces, a wild chase scene early in the film, was projected to be one of the costliest segments in the film. So instead of trying to build out a massive CGI chase, they built a trailer with a cantilevered arm big enough to hold the on-screen hovercraft and actors. Then they just shot the scene on Templin Highway around Santa Clarita. For the Reaver vehicle chasing the crew, they hacked an old pick-up truck together with some CGI overlays for final effects. In the end, a scene expected to take 30 days was finished up in five.
To create the spaceship models in the space-set scenes, they used a common cost-cutting approach called “kit bashing,” where you combine several different ship models and kits and mix them all together to create something new. It’s a cheap alternative to full-on spaceship design, and it saved time and money for plenty of those space scenes.
They even had to rebuild the Serenity ship itself for sets, using old blueprints and DVD screen grabs for reference, a process they knocked out in a brief 14 weeks and under budget. All the explosions and pyrotechnics in the film were also done on a tight schedule, filmed across three nights at Mystery Mesa near Valencia. Traditionally, that level of sci-fi action pyro work for a blockbuster movie would’ve taken around two weeks….
(14) KLINGONS DON’T DRINK MERLOT. TrekMovie.com invites as to watch as “Paul Giamatti Auditions For Star Trek, Recreates His Iconic ‘Merlot’ Moment In Klingon”.
Danish movie journalist and friend of TrekMovie Johan Albrechtsen has once again used a non-Star Trek promotional junket to recreate a Star Trek moment. As Paul Giamatti was promoting his award-winning role in The Holdovers Albrechtsen brought up the actor’s previously expressed interest in playing a Klingon in Star Trek. And he persuaded the Giamatti to recreate his famous “I am not drinking any f###ing Merlot!” moment from the 2004 wine-themed film Sideways, but this time in Klingon. The moment was then edited to create a new Star Trek “audition tape” with Giamatti as a Klingon captain, cut into a scene from The Next Generation….
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Kathy Sullivan, 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 Andrew (not Werdna).]