The National Recording Registry announced its 2023 inductees on April 12 and two items of genre interest made the list. Each year the Librarian of Congress, with advice from the National Recording Preservation Board, selects 25 titles that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and are at least 10 years old.
Among the 2023 selections are a video game music theme, and a recording of Carl Sagan’s impressions about a famous NASA photo.
Super Mario Bros. theme — Koji Kondo, composer (1985)
Perhaps the most recognizable video game theme in history, Koji Kondo’s main motif for the 1985 Nintendo classic, Super Mario Bros., helped establish the game’s legendary status and proved that the five-channel Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) sound chip was capable of vast musical complexity and creativity. Inspired in part by the music of Japanese jazz fusion band, T-Square, the game’s main theme, or “Ground Theme,” is a jaunty, Latin-influenced melody that provides the perfect accompaniment to Mario and Luigi’s side scrolling hijinks. Kondo’s score laid the groundwork for an entire generation of chiptune musicians and has been performed by orchestras around the globe, befitting its status as one of the most beloved musical compositions of the last 40 years.
“Pale Blue Dot” — Carl Sagan (1994)
Few people understood astronomy, planetary science and astrophysics like Carl Sagan, and even fewer could communicate it in a way that makes us think and feel a deeper connection with the universe. In 1990, as the space probe Voyager 1 was finishing its final mission, Sagan asked NASA to take a photo of Earth in a wide shot across the great span of space. The photo and concept resulted in Sagan’s 1994 book, “Pale Blue Dot,” and reminds us of the humility of being the only known species in the solar system and beyond. Reading the words is one thing, but hearing the recording, in Sagan’s own voice, really paints the perspective on how vast the universe is and the responsibility of our existence. As Sagan so eloquently speaks, “It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Speaking generally, the class of 2023’s best-known choices include Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” Mariah Carey’s perennial No. 1 Christmas hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You”, Queen Latifah’s “All Hail the Queen”, and Daddy Yankee’s reggaeton explosion “Gasolina”.
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said, “The National Recording Registry preserves our history through recorded sound and reflects our nation’s diverse culture. The national library is proud to help ensure these recordings are preserved for generations to come, and we welcome the public’s input on what songs, speeches, podcasts or recorded sounds we should preserve next. We received more than 1,100 public nominations this year for recordings to add to the registry.”
The new additions bring the number of titles on the National Recording Registry to 625, representing a small portion of the national library’s vast recorded sound collection of nearly 4 million items.
KOJI KONDO. The LOC press release notes that few musicians have had their work become so internationally recognized for decades yet remain so relatively unknown as Koji Kondo, the man who composed the music for the Super Mario Bros. video games in the 1980s. Still today, Kondo is credited for original Nintendo music in the new “Super Mario Bros. Movie” out this month.
Kondo, born and raised in Japan, was a college senior in Osaka, interested in the piano and sound design, when he saw a recruiting flyer from Nintendo on a university bulletin board. He answered the ad, and the rest is video game history. His main, or “Ground Theme,” for the 1985 game is a jaunty, Latin-influenced melody that’s instantly recognizable around the world today.
“The amount of data that we could use for music and sound effects was extremely small, so I really had to be very innovative and make full use of the musical and programming ingenuity that we had at the time,” he said through an interpreter in a recent interview. “I used all sorts of genres that matched what was happening on screen. We had jingles to encourage players to try again after getting a ‘game over,’ fanfares to congratulate them for reaching goals, and pieces that sped up when the time remaining grew short.”
Now 61 and still working for Nintendo, he’s seen his “Mario” music used in films and played by orchestras. He’s designed the world of sound for dozens of other video games. He did, however, have an inkling that they were onto something at the beginning. “I also had a feeling that this game might be something that could turn into a series and continue for a long time,” he said.
“Having this music preserved alongside so many other classic songs is such a great honor,” he said. “It’s actually a little bit difficult to believe.”
Complete List of National Recording Registry 2023 Selections
“The Very First Mariachi Recordings” — Cuarteto Coculense (1908-1909)
“St. Louis Blues” — Handy’s Memphis Blues Band (1922)
“Sugar Foot Stomp” — Fletcher Henderson (1926)
Dorothy Thompson: Commentary and Analysis of the European Situation for NBC Radio (Aug. 23-Sept. 6, 1939)
“Don’t Let Nobody Turn You Around” — The Fairfield Four (1947)
“Sherry” — The Four Seasons (1962)
“What the World Needs Now is Love” — Jackie DeShannon (1965)
“Wang Dang Doodle” — Koko Taylor (1966)
“Ode to Billie Joe” — Bobbie Gentry (1967)
“Déjà Vu” — Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (1970)
“Imagine” — John Lennon (1971)
“Stairway to Heaven” — Led Zeppelin (1971)
“Take Me Home, Country Roads” — John Denver (1971)
“Margaritaville” — Jimmy Buffett (1977)
“Flashdance…What a Feeling” — Irene Cara (1983)
“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” — Eurythmics (1983)
“Synchronicity” — The Police (1983)
“Like a Virgin” — Madonna (1984)
“Black Codes (From the Underground)” — Wynton Marsalis (1985)
Super Mario Bros. theme — Koji Kondo, composer (1985)
“All Hail the Queen” — Queen Latifah (1989)
“All I Want for Christmas is You” — Mariah Carey (1994)
“Pale Blue Dot” — Carl Sagan (1994)
“Gasolina” — Daddy Yankee (2004)
“Concerto for Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra” — Northwest Chamber Orchestra, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, composer (2012)
[Thanks to N. for the story. Based on a press release.]
(2) WHEN THE BIRD NESTS IN YOUR HEAD. Foz Meadows writes at length about the nature of Twitter interactions, taking as a text the criticisms and accusations made against her by Gretchen Felker-Martin and R.S. Benedict related to comments by Meadows about Isabel Fall and the author’s story “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” for which Meadows subsequently apologized — “Twitter, Truth & Apologies”. At the end, Meadows sums up:
…And all too often, even when social media professes to want growth from those it accuses of wrongdoing, what it really wants is a new culprit to feel vindicated about shaming, because that’s easier than weighing up whether you think so-and-so deserves another chance, and whether all your mutuals will agree with you, and if saying so is worth the chance of being called an apologist in the event that they don’t. Being reactive is simpler, easier, but at some point, we have to accept that not all takes require responses, and that if they do, they don’t necessarily have to be ours. If there’s one positive thing I’ve taken out of all this, it’s a desire to be more judicious about how I speak online: to be less knee-jerk, to give less space to opinions that don’t merit discussion, and to try for kinder readings of the works and people around me…
…I’d also like to mention “The City of the Screaming Pillars,” Cora Buhlert’s quest story of four travelers seeking long-lost treasure in an abandoned city in the middle of the desert. “The City of the Screaming Pillars” starts off as a standard quest story but then dives into much darker Lovecraftian territory….
(4) NEAL ADAMS TRIBUTE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] I just saw the 3-page (comic) story they’re talking about in the new issue of Fables (either #153 or #154, IIRC); here’s links to some articles about it.
DC Comics has published a comic paying tribute to legendary artist Neal Adams, following his passing earlier this year. The three-page story, which is called “The Endless Line”, began to be published in all DC titles beginning Tuesday, July 19th, is written by Tom King and drawn by Neal’s son, Josh Adams. The story, which you can check out in a tweet from King below, features snippets from a real-life interview that Adams did with The Comics Journal in 1982, with wisdom that he is bestowing while drawing a sketch for one of his characters, Deadman.
The final page of the story shows a line of other characters that Adams is known for waiting in line for sketches, including Batman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Green Lantern. Also included among the story are quotes from some of Adams’ contemporaries and fans, including Jim Lee, Frank Miller, and Roy Thomas, which highlight his prolific work as an artist and advocate for creators’ rights….
In April, Bleeding Cool reported the sad news of the deal of comic book publisher, writer, artist and advocate, Neal Adams. From genre-defining runs on Batman, X-Men, Green Arrow and Green Lantern that would define the medium, and heavily influence the TV series and movies that would spin out of it, Neal Adams’ greatest legacy is one of creator rights, fighting for himself and fellow comic book creators against publishers, over rights, royalties, return of artwork and basic human decency. So much so that he even started his own publisher, Continuity Comics, and later his own comic book shop. He also fought creators to value their own contribution, demanding they charge for sketches and then signatures at comic book conventions, as a measure of their worth.
… Like Jorge in the book, Lopez did some of his best thinking as a kid on the roof of his grandparents’ house in Southern California. “I’d sit there and look at the moon and wonder ‘Who am I going to be?’ ” he said.
His grandmother and step-grandfather, who raised him, are the models for Jorge’s loud, tough abuela and gentle abuelo.
Though his abuela didn’t throw empanadas at him, as does Jorge’s grandmother, she “did throw other things,” said Lopez with a laugh.
Calejo’s abuelas told him stories of frightening chupacabras and other legendary creatures to entertain and keep him out of mischief, Calejo said by phone from his home in Miami, Florida.
These tales inspired the first story he remembers writing in elementary school. It was about a protective doglike spirit known as el cadejo….
The Ohio Center for the Book, in collaboration with Cleveland State University and Celebrating Cleveland’s Past Masters*, are honoring the life and legacy of Harlan Ellison: speculative fiction author, screenwriter, social critic, and self-described “troublemaker, malcontent, desperado” on Saturday, Sept. 17, 1:00 pm at Cleveland Public Library’s Louis Stokes Wing, 2nd floor, 525 Superior Avenue in downtown Cleveland.
The event commemorates the 15th anniversary of Ellison’s last public appearance in his hometown of Cleveland when he participated in the 2007 Midwest premiere of the biographical documentary Dreams with Sharp Teeth in the auditorium of Cleveland Public Library.
(7) BEST OF THE BEST. The Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog says next year’s Hugo ballot is already filled to overflowing with deserving media. Thread starts here.
(8) A DAUGHTER’S MEMOIR. “Emma Straub Remembers Her Father, Peter Straub” at Vulture. Andrew Porter sent the link with a note about his missed opportunity: “I confirmed that he was living in the Watermark, the assisted living facility in the former Towers Hotel, literally half a block from where I live… Wish I’d known; I’ve have visited him there.”
When I gave my father the pile of pages that would become my novel This Time Tomorrow, he quickly thumbed to the back and asked, “What page do I die on?” This was a joke and also not a joke. In the book, he (“he” being Leonard Stern, the fictional father in my novel) dies on page 301. In real life, off the page, my father, Peter Straub, died on September 4, 2022. In the book,Leonard dies in his bedroom at home with his daughter, her stepmother, and his nurse. In real life,my father died in the windowless ICU hospital room he’d been stuck in for a month, most of that time doing fairly well, recovering from a fractured hip and sitting up, reading books and watching MSNBC, just as he would have at home. My mother and brother and I were by his side, and I held his hand. It started very slowly — what page do we begin to die on, any of us — and, mercifully, ended fast….
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1974 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-eight years ago this evening Kolchak: The Night Stalker first aired on ABC. It was preceded by The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler films, both written by Richard Matheson.
It was based off a novel by Jeff Rice who Mike has some thoughts about here.
It was remade seventeen years ago as The Night Stalker with Stuart Townsend as Carl Kolchak. It lasted ten episodes. It was set in Los Angeles. Need I say more?
Let’s talk about Darren McGavin for a moment. He was perfect for this role. Though only fifty-two when the series was shot, he looked a decade older and quite beat up. That suit he wore could have been acquired second hand. Or fourth hand. And that hat — I wonder how many they had in props that were exactly identical.
The actor himself had certainly had some interesting times with four divorces by then, and this was not his first time portraying a world-weary investigator. He was the title character in the short-lived Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer series in the Fifties. It lasted a year.
Now Kolchak: The Night Stalker did not break the pattern of having a beautiful woman around as it had Carol Ann Susi as the recurring character of semi-competent but likable intern Monique Marmelstein in a recurring role.
And I really liked the characters of his boss, Tony Vincenzo as played by Simon Oakland, who was quite bellicose and had no clue of what Kolchak was doing. Good thing that was, too.
Ahhh the monsters. Some were SF, sort of — a murderous android, an invisible ET, a prehistoric ape-man grown from thawed cell samples, and a lizard-creature protecting its eggs. Then there was the fantastic ones — a Jack the Ripper, a headless motorcycle rider, vampires, werewolves, witches and zombies to name but a few he tangled with.
It has become a cult favorite which currently carries a not surprising ninety-four percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes but it was a ratings failure complicated by Darren McGavin being unwilling to do more episodes and only lasted one season before being cancelled.
Chris Carter who credits the series as the primary inspiration for The X-Files wanted McGavin to appear as Kolchak in one or more episodes of that series, but McGavin was unwilling to reprise the character for his show. He did appear on the series as retired FBI agent very obviously attired in Kolchak’s trademark seersucker jacket, black knit tie, and straw hat.
C.J. Henderson, who won a World Fantasy Award for his Sarob Press, wrote three Night Stalker novels — Kolchak and the Lost World, Kolchak: Necronomicon and What Every Coin Has. There have been other novels and shorts published. Three unfilmed scripts for the TV series have survived, “Eve of Terror”, written by Stephen Lord, “The Get of Belial”, written by Donn Mullally, and “The Executioners”, written by Max Hodge.
Let’s see if it streaming anywhere… It is streaming on NBC of course.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 13, 1916 — Roald Dahl. Did you know he wrote the screenplay for You Only Live Twice? Or that he hosted and wrote for a sf and horror television anthology series called Way Out which aired before The Twilight Zone for a season? He also hosted Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected broadcast in the UK. My favorite Dahl works are The BFG and The Witches. What’s yours? (Died 1990.)
Born September 13, 1920 — John Crawford. He appeared in The Twilight Zone’s “A Hundred Yards Over the Rim” as Joe. He was also Harrison in the early Fifties pulp The Invisible Monster. Interestingly he was Roth in Zombies of the Stratosphere which was supposed to be a Commando Cody serial but got changed for reasons unknown. And late in his career, he was Polydeukes in Jason and the Argonauts. (Died 2010.)
Born September 13, 1931 — Barbara Bain, 91. She’s most remembered for co-starring in the original Mission: Impossible television series in the 1960s as Cinnamon Carter, and Space: 1999 as Doctor Helena Russell. Her first genre role was as Alma in the “KAOS in CONTROL” episode of Get Smart! She was active as of last year as showed in the Space Command series as Auut Simone in the “Ripple Effect” episode.
Born September 13, 1933 — Warren Murphy. Ok, I’ll admit that I’m most likely stretching the definition of genre just a bit by including him as he’s best known for writing along with Richard Sapir the pulp Destroyer series that ran to some seventy novels and was (making it possibly genre) the basis of Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. He did a number of other series that were more definitely genre. (Died 2015.)
Born September 13, 1937 — Don Bluth, 85. Animator of quite some note. In his career, he’s been involved in some manner with Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too, the Fantastic Voyage series, the Archie series (seriously) Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down series (again seriously) The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail, The Land Before Time, Anastasia and Titan A.E.
Born September 13, 1944 — Jacqueline Bisset, 78. I never pass up a Bond performance and so she’s got on the Birthday Honors by being Giovanna Goodthighs in Casino Royale even though that might have been one of the dumbest character names ever. As near as I can tell, until she shows up in as Charlotte Burton in the “Love the Lie” episode of the Counterpart series that’s her entire encounter with genre acting. Genre adjacent, she appeared in the Albert Finney fronted Murder on the Orient Express as Countess Helena Andrenyi.
Born September 13, 1947 — Mike Grell, 75. He’s best known for his work on books such as Green Lantern/Green Arrow, The Warlord, and Jon Sable Freelance. The Warlord featuring Travis Morgan is a hollow Earth adventure series set in Skartaris which is a homage to Jules Verne as Grell points out “the name comes from the mountain peak Scartaris that points the way to the passage to the earth’s core in Journey to the Center of the Earth. The animated Justice League Unlimited “Chaos at the Earth’s Core“ episode made use of this story.
Born September 13, 1974 — Fiona Avery, 48. Comic book and genre series scriptwriter. While being a reference editor on the final season of Babylon 5, she wrote “The Well of Forever” and “Patterns of the Soul” as well as two that were not produced, “Value Judgements” and “Tried and True”. After work on the Crusade series ended, she turned to comic book writing, working for Marvel and Top Cow with J. Michael Straczynski’s Rising Stars series being another place where her scripts were used. She created the Marvel character Anya Sofia Corazon later named Spider-girl. She did work on Tomb Raider, Spider-Man, X-Men and Witchblade as well.
(11) MIRACLEMAN. Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham’s unfinished storyline “The Silver Age” begins October 19.
In the late 80s, Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham took over the saga of Miracleman to critical acclaim. The pair of comic visionaries expanded the Miracleman mythos with new characters and introduced the story of Young Miracleman. Their series was cut short mid-storyline almost 30 years ago, but now their Miracleman: The Silver Age saga will finally be completed! MIRACLEMAN BY GAIMAN & BUCKINGHAM: THE SILVER AGE #1 and MIRACLEMAN BY GAIMAN & BUCKINGHAM: THE SILVER AGE #2 will present the early chapters of the story that made it to stands but with stunning new remastered artwork by Buckingham and containing bonus content! And then, starting in December’s MIRACLEMAN: THE SILVER AGE #3, all-new material by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham will at long last, continue this legendary comic story!
(12) SEARCHING FOR INTELLIGENT LIFE. Carl Sagan tells the BBC in 1967 how to send a message to outer space that extraterrestrials could understand. “Where Is Everybody?”
Jess Morales, a 20-year-old Dreamer, sets off on an exploration to discover the mystery of her family history, and, with the help of her friends, seeks to recover historical lost treasure.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Thor: Love and Thunder,” the Screen Junkies say this film has “the joke rate of Family Guy” (including playing Jane Foster’s fatal pancreatic cancer for laughs) with “the look of that time you shroomed at Dave and Busters.” Chris Hemsworth, who has played Thor ten times in eight years, struggles to come up with something new, and few will be excited by the “100 screaming goat jokes.”
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, N., Mike Kennedy, 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 Andrew (not Werdna).]
…Now one of the commanding forces in adult fiction, BookTok has helped authors sell 20 million printed books in 2021, according to BookScan. So far this year, those sales are up another 50 percent. NPD Books said that no other form of social media has ever had this kind of impact on sales.
The most popular videos don’t generally offer information about the book’s author, the writing or even the plot, the way a traditional review does. Instead, readers speak plainly about the emotional journey a book will offer.
And that, it turns out, is just what many people are looking for, said Milena Brown, the marketing director at Doubleday.
“‘This is how it makes me feel, and this is how it’s going to make you feel,’” Ms. Brown said, describing the content of many of the videos. “And people are like, ‘I want to feel that. Give it to me!’”…
(2) VICIOUS CIRCLES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Dante Alighieri’s 9 rings face some stiff competition from these movies, though they overlap in ways much more complex than mere circles. Plus, columnist Danielle Ryan carefully points out at least one way our reality is worse than each movie. I suppose that means that, climate change notwithstanding, we should all break out our warmest winter gear for the icy lake ahead. “8 Dystopian Movies That Are Better Than Our Current Hellscape” at Slashfilm.
It is not an understatement to say that life in the United States right now is absolutely terrifying for the majority of its population. In 2016, a game show host won the highest seat of power in the country on a platform of lies and hatred, emboldening the worst of Americans to be angrier, louder, and more violent. More than 1 million Americans are dead from a pandemic, lives that could have potentially been saved with proper leadership and planning in public health instead of one president who publicized injecting bleach as a cure and one who can’t seem to make a firm decision on anything. A sneakily stacked Supreme Court has just overturned Roe v. Wade with the potential to go after other landmark civil rights cases, revoking bodily autonomy from more than half of the population. Things are looking pretty bleak, and while sometimes looking to hopeful fiction like “Star Trek” can be a balm, sometimes a person needs to find comfort in a fictional dystopia to remind them of the tenacity of the human spirit and that there is good even in the worst of times.
Here are some of the best movie dystopias that provide an alternative to our current, real-life one. After all, if we’re going to have to live through corporations owning everything, having no privacy whatsoever, and basically being in a boring version of a William Gibson story, shouldn’t we at least have flying cars by now?
(3) FIRST IN, LAST OUT. Kevin Standlee’s photos on Flickr show the Tonopah Westercon winding down.
In 2008, Lisa Hayes was the first person who was part of what would become the 2022 Westercon 74 committee to set foot in the Tonopah Convention Center. On July 5, 2022, she was the last member of the Westercon 74 com
Kevin Standlee sports his newly-minted Former Westercon Chair ribbon bestowed upon him by past Westercon Chair Patty Wells and other former chairs during the Alien Autopsy Party at Westercon 74 in Tonopah.
Ahead of Contact’s 25th anniversary, we spoke to nearly two dozen people involved in its making, including Zemeckis, Foster, McConaughey, Druyan, Sasha Sagan, and veteran producer Lynda Obst. They disagreed on several aspects of Contact’s development saga, but settled on some consensus: Contact was a lightning-in-a-bottle project, the kind of thing big movie studios barely made before and would probably never make again — intellectually challenging, emotionally messy, heavy with metaphor, wherein nobody shoots an alien in the face in front of an American flag. “We used to do that,” said Foster. “We used to make movies that were resonant and were entertaining.”…
Ann Druyan: This is 1978. Carl and I are still working on CosmosCosmos: A Personal Voyage is a 13-part TV series written by Sagan, Druyan, and Steven Soter, that first broadcast on PBS in 1980.. At the time, it was popular to say things like, “Well, if men are as smart as women, then how come there are no female Leonardos? No female Einsteins?” This made both of us furious. I had just co-written the part of Cosmos about the Great Library of Alexandria and the fact that Hypatia, who was the leader of the library, was a mathematician focusing on the Diophantine equations that Newton would later become interested in. Her reward for being the great intellectual light of the library in 415 AD was to be ripped from her chariot that she was driving herself and carved to bits with abalone shellsSagan gave Druyan an abalone shell that she says she always keeps with her..
People were throwing everything at Carl then. He was such a phenomenon in the culture, and everybody wanted to do something with him. So we knew we could get a book and a movie contract. We agreed one night, sitting in the pool at our little rented house in West Hollywood, that we were going to tell a story in which not only would a woman be the intellectual hero but, in the great tradition of Gilgamesh, she was going to go on the voyage and the guys would stay home.
(5) UNIQUE HONOR. Author TC Parker’s wish has been granted!
(6) HIS WORLD IS ENOUGH. In the Washington Post, Thomas Floyd interviews Dean Fleischer Camp, who directed Marcel The Shell With Shoes On. Camp discusses how he created the tiny crustacean with Jenny Slate in 2010 and how the shorts, having been viewed nearly 50 million times on YouTube, led to the feature film, which has just been released. “’Marcel the Shell’ made it to the big screen by staying small”.
Crafted out of a hermit crab shell, a googly eye and a pair of pink Polly Pocket tennis shoes, Marcel the Shell leaves an outsize impression that belies his one-inch stature. Dean Fleischer Camp realized as much in the summer of 2010, when the first audience was introduced to the stop-motion character’s trembling timbre and infectious positivity.
After promising he’d make a video for a friend’s Brooklyn comedy show, the filmmaker got his then-partner, “Saturday Night Live” alum Jenny Slate, to riff in character as a minuscule mollusk in a big world. (One quip: “Guess what I do for adventure? I hang-glide on a Dorito.”) Dropping Slate’s voice in Marcel’s roughly sketched mouth, Camp delivered a three-minute mockumentary that played as amusing, absurdist and, to his surprise, delightfully disarming….
We aren’t that important to the biosphere either way! If we wreck civilization and cause a mass extinction event, the biosphere will be fully reoccupied in a few million years by new species. Life will forge on. Humans, who knows. We are probably somewhat ineradicable — check out the near-extinction event from 73,000 years ago that left only a few thousand humans alive on the planet — that was a close one! And yet without our current capabilities we still squeaked through what appears to have been a decades-long volcanic “nuclear winter” event. So, best not to get apocalyptic about it. Put it this way — it could always get better or get worse, it will never end: So try for better.
(8) MEMORY LANE.
1993 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-nine years ago, a film that Mike has actually seen to my surprise, debuted on the FOX network here in the States, 12.01 as it was called. It was written by Richard Lupoff, Jonathan Heap and Philip Morton. It was a time loop affair very similar to Groundhog Day, one of Mike’s favorite films. Mike obviously has great taste in films.
It came from Richard Lupoff’s short story “12:01 PM” which had published in the December 1973 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. It had previously been adapted as the 1990 12:01 PM film starring Kurtwood Smith.
Groundhog Day, which has a similar time loop premise, was released later in 1993. The writers and producers of 12:01 believed their work was stolen by that film. To quote Lupoff, “The story was also adapted—actually plagiarized—into a major theatrical film in 1993. Jonathan Heap and I were outraged and tried very hard to go after the rascals who had robbed us, but alas, the Hollywood establishment closed ranks.”
Now my question to you is simple: do you recall similar plot lines before Groundhog Day came out?
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 5, 1941 — Garry Kilworth, 81. The Ragthorn, a novella he co-authored with Robert Holdstock, won the World Fantasy Award and the BSFA. It’s an excellent read and it makes me wish I’d read other fiction by him. Anyone familiar with his work?
Born July 5, 1946 — Joyce Ballou Gregorian Hampshire. A fascinating woman who was way too short-lived due to a long illness with cancer. She was an SF writer, an expert on Oriental rugs, and a horse breeder. She wrote the Tredana trilogy, an alternative world fantasy. She collaborated with her father, Arthur T. Gregorian, and her nephew, Douglas Christian, on a book on Armenian oriental rugs. (Died 1991.)
Born July 5, 1948 — Nancy Springer, 74. May I recommend her Tales of Rowan Hood series of which her Rowan Hood: Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest is a most splendid revisionist telling of that legend? And her Enola Holmes Mysteries are a nice riff off of the Holmsiean mythos. She won an Otherwise Award for her Larque on the Wing novel, and her latest, The Oddling Prince, came out several years ago on Tachyon.
Born July 5, 1957 — Jody Lynn Nye, 65. She’s best known for collaborating with Robert Asprin on the ever so excellent MythAdventures series. Since his death, she has continued that series and she is now also writing sequels to his Griffen McCandles series as well. She’s got a space opera series, The Imperium, out which sounds intriguing. Her latest two novels are both written with Travis Taylor, Moon Beam and Moon Tracks.
Born July 5, 1962 — Marc Gascoigne, 60. Winner of the World Fantasy Special Award—Professional for his Angry Robot press, and later he won the British Fantasy Award in the category Best Independent Press, again for Angry Robot. If you’re a gamer, you’ll be impressed by knowing that he co-wrote Games Workshop’s original Judge Dredd RPG, and wrote the original Shadowrun source book. And yes, I played the latter longer ago than I want to think about. Read more than a few of the novels as well.
Born July 5, 1963 — Alma Alexander, 59. Author of three SF series including the Changer of Days which is rather good. I’m including her here for her Abducticon novel which is set in a Con and concerns both what goes on at that Con and the aliens that are involved. Very, very cool indeed! It is available as a Kindle book.
Born July 5, 1964 — Ronald D. Moore, 58. Screenwriter and producer who’s best remembered for his work on Star Trek: The Next Generation where he fleshed out the Klingon race and culture, on the rebooted Battlestar Galactica and Outlander. He’s the creator and writer of For All Mankind. He was one of the folks who won a Hugo at Intersection for the Next Generation’s “All Good Things…”, and among the filmmakers nominated for another at LoneStarCon 2 for First Contact. His latest Hugo was won at Interaction for Battlestar Galactica’s “33”.
Born July 5, 1972 — Nia Roberts, 50. She appeared in two Doctor Who episodes during the time of the Eleventh Doctor, “The Hungry Earth” and “Cold Blood”. But it’s an earlier role that gets her a Birthday citation just because it sounds so damn cool: Rowan Latimer in the “Curse of the Blood of the Lizard of Doom” episode of the Dr. Terrible’s House of Horrible which spoofed shows such as Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected. Damn that sounds really, really amazing.
Beauty and the Beastis getting the live treatment at ABC to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the beloved animated classic’s history-making Academy Award nomination.
…The Disney-backed broadcast network is making a two-hour, live-action/animated special that will feature a new cast and air Dec. 15 on the broadcast network. Jon M. Chu (In the Heights, Wicked) is on board to executive produce the project, which will be directed by Hamish Hamilton. The latter is best known for helming awards shows including the Emmys and Grammys, as well as the Super Bowl halftime show, ABC’s The Little Mermaid Live and a pair of Disney’s quarantine-era sing-alongs. The special will be available to stream Dec. 16 on Disney+. …
Diego Luna couldn’t trust the driver. He didn’t think he could trust anybody. And hadn’t he read something about an epidemic of eavesdroppers hacking phones? “That was just my paranoia,” the actor says now. “Not connected to reality.” Still, he pressed his phone so tightly to his ear that it made his face hot, as a voice from thousands of miles away told him secrets from another galaxy. The car was stuck in traffic on the top tier of a double-decker highway in Mexico City. “I was speaking in code words because I was trying not to say too much in the car,” says Luna. The words he was avoiding most strenuously were star and wars.
Luna had played the dauntless Rebel spy Cassian Andor in the 2016 film Rogue One. Now, on the other end of the phone, was Tony Gilroy, who had punched up the movie’s script for reshoots. Gilroy—whose credits include writing the first four Bourne thrillers and writing and directing Michael Clayton—was developing a series that would explore Andor’s backstory, revealing what drew him into the galactic Rebellion and how he evolved from a self-serving nihilist into a selfless martyr. Luna’s call with Gilroy—the first time he heard the full plan for the Andor story—happened more than three years ago. “One thing I remember, from being part of this since day one, is how little you can share of what happens,” says the actor. “I have kids, man. It’s painful for them—and for me.”…
A group of biofuel experts have developed a completely new type of fuel using bacteria that could have an energy density greater than most advanced heavy-duty fuels being used today. The new discovery could be used to develop a cleaner and more cost-efficient rocket fuel for NASA and other space agencies….
“The larger consortium behind this work, Co-Optima, was funded to think about not just recreating the same fuels from biobased feedstocks, but how we can make new fuels with better properties,” remarked Sundstrom. “The question that led to this is: ‘What kinds of interesting structures can biology make that petrochemistry can’t make?'”…
(14) THIS IS CERTAINLY HIDEOUS. This is like a horror movie. Beware the visuals when Last Week Tonight with John Oliver displays those “Beach Dolls”.
John Oliver discusses a surplus of dolls which have been mysteriously washing up on the beach in Texas, and, crucially, how they can be destroyed.
…Not only was the PET 600’s screen limited to just displaying characters (letters, numbers, punctuation, etc.) but the machines behind them were impossibly slow, often taking a few seconds to load and display lists of files or other data. There was zero chance a dedicated YouTube app could be developed for Commodore BASIC which the PET 600 ran, so Jemander had to take the long road….
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness,” the Screen Junkies say the film is “full of gore that would shock a 13-year-old raised without Internet” and you get “the creepy feeling at hand that Marvel doesn’t know what to do with the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.” But instead of watching this “MCU content slop,” the narrator recommends watching Everywhere Everything All At Once, which he thinks far more entertaining than Doctor Strange 2.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, JeffWarner, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]
(1) EVER THE TWAIN SHALL MEET. A genre novel, The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, has won the 2021 Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award. The award ceremony will be held in person December 1 at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, CT. The novel also won a Bram Stoker Award this year.
(2) ROOT AND BRANCH. The New Yorker’s Raffi Khatchadourian’s exploration of “How Your Family Tree Could Catch a Killer” ends with a genetic genealogist’s efforts to find the rest of the story about George R.R. Martin’s ancestors which was first explored on the PBS series Finding Your Roots.
…[CeCe] Moore had first encountered the case years earlier, through “Finding Your Roots.” She began working on the show in 2013, after Henry Louis Gates, Jr., heard her speak in Burbank and hired her on the spot. At first, his producers were skeptical, but within a few episodes Moore had established herself as a force. “We have five geneticists who vet her work,” Gates told me. “There were a couple of things she found that were so astonishing to me—I was, like, ‘We’re going to triple-check this,’ and each of the geneticists said, ‘No, CeCe is absolutely right.’ ”
George R. R. Martin had come on the show hoping to learn more about the family of his father, Raymond….
The genetics indicated that Raymond’s father was not Louie [Martin] but another man, an unknown Ashkenazi Jew.
For Martin, the news was wrenching. “It’s uprooting my world here!” he told Gates on the set. “It doesn’t make any sense! So I am descended from mystery?” After the taping, Martin followed the show’s production crew to a local restaurant, wanting to talk more about what they knew. In the years that followed, he and his sisters strove to solve the mystery, to no avail.
It upset Moore that her work, intended to give people a sense of ancestral belonging, had left Martin with only disconnection. She continued to work the case….
And she thinks that she found the answer, which is revealed in the article.
(3) VINDICATED. Nicholas Whyte has been vindicated. It’s about a professional matter, but comes with a little genre-related highlight. Twitter thread starts here. Some excerpts:
In April and October last year, the Spanish online newspaper OK Diario published two stories including completely false statements about me, in particular about my alleged contacts with Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez, who I have never met or even communicated with….
I complained to the Spanish Comisión de Arbitraje, Quejas y Deontología, which has now published its official decision on the matter, finding completely in my favour and against OK Diario. Sometimes it’s worth pushing back to set the record straight….
OK Diario then complained that they had not had a chance to respond….
Now the Comisión de Arbitraje, Quejas y Deontología del Periodismo reports that in fact OK Diario submitted no evidence whatsoever to support their story, and the Comisión has reinstated its original decision vindicating me. (With a quote from Carl Sagan.)
Aunque, siguiendo la conocida máxima del pensador Carl Sagan, “la ausencia de 6 pruebas no es prueba de ausencia”, no es posible pedir al señor Whyte que justifique documentalmente una aseveración negativa.
In English: “The absence of proof is not the proof of absence.”
(4) NATIONAL BOOK AWARD. The National Book Award winners were announced today. None of the works of genre interest won. The full list of winners is here. They will receive $10,000 and a bronze sculpture. See the online video ceremony here.
(5) IN TRANSLATION. Tove Jansson’s Notes From An Island has just been translated into English by Thomas Teal. Read an excerpt at Granta.
… Failing to wait when what you’re waiting for is your own majestic goal, that’s just unforgivable.
What was I thinking that time at Vesuvius? I’d really like to know. I mean, there he was, acting up a bit, and I was there! I was nineteen years old, and I’d waited all my life to see a mountain spitting fire. The moon was out, fireflies too; the earth was aglow – and what did I do? I dutifully took the tourist bus back to the hotel in order to drink my tea and go to bed! Who takes the time to sleep when a thing is finally happening? I could have stayed there all night and had Vesuvius all to myself….
(6) SOCIAL IMMEDIATELY. Don’t Look Up arrives in select theaters December 10 and on Netflix December 24.
Based on real events that haven’t happened – yet. DON’T LOOK UP tells the story of two low-level astronomers who must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth.
Skywatchers on Thursday night will be treated to a near-total lunar eclipse as the full moon is plunged into the blood-red light cast by Earth’s shadow. The spectacle will be visible from all of North America, with the exception of eastern Greenland, including the entire Lower 48, Alaska and Hawaii, as well as parts of South America and Russia.
Though it’s technically not a total lunar eclipse, it’s about as close as one can get to totality without actually being there. At peak, 97 percent of the moon will be covered by the umbra, or the darkest part of Earth’s shadow. Only a sliver on the bottom left of the moon will remain faintly illuminated.
A striking element of Thursday night’s eclipse will be its duration — 3 hours, 28 minutes and 24 seconds, according to Space.com, which it says makes it the longest partial eclipse in 580 years….
(8) HAVE FUN STORMING THE CASTLE. Going under the hammer in Heritage Auctions’ Books Signature Auction on December 9-10 is this “Princess Bride Production Sign. Circa 1987”. The current bid is $500. Feel free to spend more – as you wish!
(9) ANGRY ROBOT BOOKS PRESENTS. Dan Hanks has been busy celebrating the release of his action-packed, humorous, fantasy adventure, Swashbucklers on November 9 — “a Ghostbusters meets The Goonies tale of nostalgia for childhood, parenthood, British folklore, and Christmas…but make it less Santa, more Gremlins!”
On November 18 Dan will be hosted by Adam Simcox, author of The Dying Squad a fantasy and crime mash-up, with a spectral police force made up of the recently deceased. See their conversation on YouTube or Facebook beginning 8:00 p.m. GMT / 3:00 p.m. Eastern
Celebrate the long-awaited release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife as they talk about their favourite movies in the series, lots of other 80s gems, the supernatural beings in their books, and general mayhem I suspect! Join the Live Chat on either platform to submit your own favourite Ghostbusters movie, or scene, or indeed any other cult classic from the era you loved!
Blackstone Publishing has inked a deal with horror, sci-fi, and fantasy brand Weird Tales and its flagship publication of the same name. Under the agreement, Blackstone will publish 50 books under the Weird Tales Presents brand over the course of five years, including original novels, anthologies, and compilations. Blackstone will publish the books in print, e-book, and audiobook editions.
Blackstone will also distribute the digital and audio versions of the Weird Tales magazine. The first novel under the new partnership is set to be released in fall 2022, followed by 100 Year Weird Tales Commemorative Anthology, which reimagines original works from the 1920s and 30s, in fall 2023.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
2001 — Twenty years ago the Justice League animated series premiered on the Cartoon Network. It was the seventh series of the DC Animated Universe. The series ended after just two seasons, but was followed by the Justice League Unlimited, another series which aired for an additional three seasons. It’s largely based off the Justice League created by editor Sheldon Mayer and writer Gardner Fox in the Sixties.
It has a stellar primary voice cast of George Newbern as Superman / Clark Kent, Kevin Conroy as Batman / Bruce Wayne, Michael Rosenbaum as The Flash / Wally West, Phil LaMarr as Green Lantern / John Stewart, Susan Eisenberg as Maria Canals-Barrera as Hawkgirl / Shayera Hol, Carl Lumbly as Martian Manhunter / John Jones and Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman / Princess Diana. In a neat piece of later casting, Lumbly will be J’onn J’onnz’s father, M’yrnn in the Arrowverse and on Supergirl.
It lasted for fifty-two episodes and featured scripts from such writers as John Ridley, Dwayne McDuffie, Pail Dini, Butch Lukic and Ernie Altbacker.
It received universal acclaim and IGN lists it among the best animated series ever done. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a near perfect ninety-eight percent rating.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 17, 1925 — Raymond Jones. Best remembered for This Island Earth, which of course became the basis of the Fifties film. He didn’t win any Hugos but was nominated for two — the first at NyCon 3 for “Rat Race” and the second, a Retro Hugo, for “Correspondence Course” at L.A.con III. SFE calls Renaissance: A Science Fiction Novel of Two Human Worlds his best novel. (Died 1994.)
Born November 17, 1931 — Dennis McHaney. Pulp writers in particular seem to attract scholars, both amateur and professional. Robert E. Howard was not an exception. So I give you this individual who between 1974 and 2008 published The Howard Review and The Howard Newsletter. Oh, but that was hardly all he did as he created such pubs as The Fiction of Robert E. Howard – A Pocket Checklist, Robert E. Howard in Oriental Stories, Magic Carpet and The Souk and The Fiction of Robert E. Howard: A Quick Reference Guide. A listing of his essays and other works would take an entire page. It has intriguing listings such as Frazetta Trading Cards, The Short, Sweet Life and Slow Agonizing Death of a Fan’s Magazine and The Films of Steve Reeves. (Died 2011.)
Born November 17, 1936 — John Trimble, 85. Husband of Bjo Trimble. He has assisted her in almost all of her SF work, including Project Art Show. They were GoHs at ConJose, the 2002 Worldcon. He’s a member of LASFS. He’s been involved in far too many fanzines and APAs too list here.
Born November 17, 1943 — Danny DeVito, 78. Oscar-nominated Actor, Director, and Producer whose best-known genre role was as The Penguin in Batman Returns (for which he received a Saturn nomination), but he also had roles in Matilda (which he directed, and which was based on the Roald Dahl novel of the same name), Mars Attacks!, Men in Black, Big Fish, Junior, and the black comedy cult film Death to Smoochy, about an anthropomorphic character actor, which JJ thought was hilarious. He provided the voice for the credential detective Whiskers in Last Action Hero, as well as for characters in Look Who’s Talking Now, Space Jam, the My Little Pony movie, Hercules, The Lorax, Animal Crackers, and Dumbo.
Born November 17, 1966 — Ed Brubaker, 55. Comic book writer and artist. Sandman Presents: Dead Boy Detectives I’d consider his first genre work. Later work for DC and Marvel included The Authority, Batman, Captain America, Daredevil, Catwoman and the Uncanny X-Men. If I may single out but one series, it’d be the one he did with writer Greg Rucka which was the Gotham Central series which has been rumored to be in development for TV. It’s Gotham largely without Batman but with the villains so GPD has to deal with them by themselves. Grim and well-done. He’s a member of the writing staff for the Westworld series where he co-wrote the episode “Dissonance Theory” with Jonathan Nolan.
Born November 17, 1978 — Rachael McAdams, 43. Primary cast as Clare Abshire in the The Time Traveler’s Wife which was she followed up genre wise by being Irene Adler in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. She also plays Christine Palmer in Dr. Strange. Her sole series work is apparently as Christine Bickwell in the “Atavus High” episode of the Earth: Final Conflict series.
Born November 17, 1978 — Tom Ellis, 43. Currently playing Lucifer Morningstar in the rather excellent Lucifer series created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg from The Sandman series. It’s quite good. Also had roles in Doctor Who as Tom Milligan in the Tenth Doctor story, “Last of the Time Lords”, Once Upon a Time, Messiah, The Strain and Merlin.
Born November 17, 1983 — Christopher Paolini, 38. He is the author of the Inheritance Cycle, which consists of the books Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance. In December of last year, The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, the first book in a series called Tales of Alagaësia, was published. A film version of the first novel came out in 2006.
(14) VOTE FOR AN IRISH BOOK AWARD. The shortlists for the 2021 An Post Irish Book Awards has been announced and the awards are open for voting by anybody with an e-mail address: “An Post Irish Book Awards 2021 shortlists revealed”. There is no SFF category, but they have a crime and thriller category. Plus, Noel King, a poet with whom Cora Buhlert shared a TOC many years ago, is nominated in the poetry category.
Smith returns with Tuki: Fight for Fire (Cartoon Books, Dec.), a comics series that combines research and fantasy, and is set during the period in prehistory when multiple humanoid species coexisted.
…Were there places where you had to guess about the science?
The biggest leap I had to make was: Could Tuki talk? There’s debate on either side, scientifically. But when you look at the underside of our ancestors’ skulls, a few million years ago, they had a voice box long enough to modulate sound. Also, molds from inside the skull show they had Broca’s areas, which is a major speech center in the brain. So, if they didn’t have speech, they were the first ones with all the equipment…
(16) IN PLAIN SIGHT. You’re not surprised to learn that Jon Del Arroz is evading his Twitter ban (with more than one account, actually) by posting as “The Real JDA” at the @LeadingHispanic, are you?
(17) AND THE HORSE HE RODE IN ON. Cora Buhlert has penned “The Tale of Declan, Disruptor of Doors”, the misadventures of Declan Finn in Italy retold as a sword and sorcery tale. It harkens back to an indignant rant from that Sad Puppy about his travels abroad during the pandemic.
In an age undreamt of, after the Supreme Lord of Darkness descended from his mountain to lead the Hounds of Sadness in their assault against the sinful cities on the coast, but before the scarlet plague swept the land, there lived in a barbaric country a young bard named Declan.
Declan was a rising star among the bards of his land. His name was spoken with admiration in the taverns and around the camp fires. Last year, he had even been runner-up in the bardic contest of the Great Dragon Atalanta, losing only to Bryan, the Grand Hunter of Witches. Declan was still sore about that…..
(18) HELLO, MASTER CHIEF. A teaser dropped for Halo the Serieswhich is coming to Paramount+ next year.
(19) GHOST-FILL-IN-THE-BLANKERS. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson showed up on Fallon last night and chatted about Ghostbusters and even showed outtakes from the original movie before they secured the rights to use “Ghostbusters” in the title.
(20) HOW IT SHOULD HAVE ENDED. The How It Should Have Ended gang, including Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, takes on Shang-Chi in this video which dropped today.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Nicholas Whyte, Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a game-changer in a number of ways. It helped to redefine comics-based films, creating the model of a shared universe.”…
Kelly Sue DeConnick
While everyone’s excited to see the Avengers and Thanos slugging it out in Infinity War, Marvel is already preparing for its next wave of hit movies—movies like Captain Marvel, currently slated to premiere on March 8, 2019. Featuring Oscar winner Brie Larson as the title character, it’ll likely follow her adventures in space, as the character’s more recent comics exploits have found her exploring the universe alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy and other colorful characters. Interestingly, the character of Captain Marvel, formerly Ms. Marvel, has been around for decades, but the demand for a Captain Marvel movie is relatively recent…and it’s all thanks to Kelly Sue DeConnick.
DeConnick was serving as a freelance writer for Marvel when she started writing Captain Marvel’s adventures in 2012. During her three-year run on the comic, the character’s popularity exploded with new readers all over the world, many of them members of the ever-growing “Carol Corps” of superfans. DeConnick specialized in presenting a complex Captain Marvel who was headstrong, bighearted, and a bit goofy at times, all traits that helped make her outer space adventures highly memorable. While DeConnick has gone on to write other successful books such as Bitch Planet, the legacy of her Captain Marvel issues will almost certainly inform the onscreen adventures of the MCU’s first female solo movie, and she’s thrown her support behind Larson’s casting.
Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View will feature 40 stories by 40 authors based on lesser-known characters from the first movie….
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the franchise, the official Star Wars website announced Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, a unique anthology novel that will bring together 40 authors with 40 stories told from the point of view of lesser-known characters from the first movie, A New Hope.
While we don’t know all of the characters who will be featured, the synopsis mentions “X-wing pilots who helped Luke destroy the Death Star” and “the stormtroopers who never quite could find the droids they were looking for.” If you ask us, this sounds like a brilliant idea. And who knows? Maybe one of the stories will eventually be expanded into a full anthology flick in the future. Lucasfilm does love those.
A lot of the confusion surrounding the difficulties in getting At the Mountains of Madness made is that fans seem to think del Toro, and directors like him, have more decision-making power than they actually do:
In typical Mad fashion, the film has been rechristened Rough One: A Star Bores Snorer, and is chock full of sight gags (AT-ACTs with dog collars and wagging tongues, Sebastian the crab from Little Mermaid on the Scarif beach, Ewok headphones on one of the Rebels) along with the requisite jokes on the film’s storyline (“if we don’t beam up those plans, we’ll never fill the 40-year-old plot hole about how the most powerful weapon in galactic history had such a ridiculous design flaw”). Snoopy and George Lucas even make cameos. Take a look at our high-res version and see what else you can find.
As the Commander (and later Captain) of Deep Space Nine, Avery Brooks was a force to be reckoned with. He had the unenviable task of helming both a role (Benjamin Sisko) and a show (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) that debuted in the shadow of the critically and commercially successful Star Trek: The Next Generation. Despite that difficulty, he took his role into bold directions, navigating issues of race, religion, and family in a way that Trek hadn’t before—and hasn’t since. When Deep Space Nine ended, his character had been saved from certain death by the Prophets, where he’d live outside of linear time for the foreseeable future. For the fans, it seems like the same thing happened to Brooks, as he’s largely disappeared from acting since the show ended in 1999.
What happened? In many ways, Brooks returned to his “day job.” He has the amazing distinction of being the first African-American to get an MFA in acting and directing from Rutgers University, and he became a professor at Rutgers in 1976. He gained tenure and was promoted to full-time Professor over the years, and though Deep Space Nine disrupted his academic career, he’s returned to teaching since, while continuing to pursue parts in theatrical productions. His commanding voice has also been behind the camera as narrator on several documentaries. Perhaps most entertainingly for Star Trek fans, the musical Benjamin Sisko ended up being musically gifted in real life: Avery Brooks has performed at music festivals, and released an album in 2009.
The story behind the scenes is arguably just as entertaining as the episodes that eventually made it to the screen….
Launched in 1992, Batman: The Animated Series is still revered as one of the greatest cartoons ever conceived. It pushed the boundaries of what you could do with the animated medium, and its timeless design holds up as well today as it did 25 years ago.
But this beloved version of the Dark Knight didn’t come about easily—and the story behind the scenes is arguably just as entertaining as the episodes that eventually made it to the screen. Here’s everything you might not know about a show you almost certainly still love.
The Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction team have written for the most respectable reviewing publications in the world, including Interzone! Black Static! The BFS Journal! And the Reading University student newspaper! But on Friday, 24 March 2017, for one day only, they will cast aside their scruples and review books they’ve never read, all in aid of Comic Relief.
For authors and publishers, big and small, this will be a great way to publicise your books while supporting a good cause. And maybe it’ll help people to recognise fake reviews when they see them. The book doesn’t have to be yours. You could order a review for a friend’s book. Or your favourite novel. Or your least favourite. Or buy several reviews. Anything you like!
We are taking bookings in advance. Once you have made a donation of five pounds, email us with the cover and blurb, or just include an Amazon link to the book in your message when making the donation, and we’ll book you in.
Has Disney really turned Beauty and the Beast into a feminist fairytale? Or is it all just posh frocks and women’s work with a slice of Stockholm syndrome thrown in? We delve beneath the furry facade
1) Incomplete subversion of the genre
The main – indeed the only – stated piece of feminism is that Belle has a job, so escapes the passivity and helplessness that has defined heroines since Disney and beyond. Eagle eyed feminist-checkers noted even before the film’s release that Belle’s inventing is unpaid – so it’s not a job, it’s a hobby. I don’t mind that. The future of work is automation, and even feminists will have to get used to finding a purpose outside the world of money.
I do, however, feel bound to point out that Belle’s invention is a washing machine, a contraption she rigs up to a horse, to do her domestic work while she teaches another, miniature feminist how to read. The underlying message baked into this pie is that laundry is women’s work, which the superbly clever woman will delegate to a horse while she spreads literacy. It would be better if she had used her considerable intellect to question why she had to wash anything at all, while her father did nothing more useful than mend clocks. It’s unclear to me why anyone in this small family needs to know the time.
Space physicist Dr Carrie Nugent talks about the chances of Earth being hit by a giant asteroid – and why she owes her job to a Bruce Willis movie
The New Scientistreported research that speculated that millions could die if an asteroid came down over a city. Or that a tsunami would kill 50,000 people in Rio de Janeiro if it landed in the sea off the coast of Brazil. How likely is that? An asteroid impact in the worst-case scenario is a terrifying thing. It seems very uncontrollable: in popular culture it’s often a metaphor for human powerlessness over the world. But when you actually look at the problem and you look at statistics, you realise that we can find asteroids, and we can predict where they are going incredibly accurately. That’s kind of unique for something that’s a natural disaster. And, if we had enough warning time, we could actually move one away. It’s a solvable problem.
And these include firing a nuclear missile at the asteroid? Certainly. I interviewed Lindley Johnson who’s got the coolest title in the world: planetary defence officer. He makes the point that nuclear is something that’s being considered, but he also says that it’s a last resort. One thing I found surprising is that the most effective thing might just be to get out of the way. If it’s a small asteroid – and depending on where it’s going to come down – you might just want to evacuate. In the same way you would deal with a flood.
(4) IT’S ACCURACY IN JOURNALISM. This past week George R.R. Martin and the Mayor Santa Fe helped launch The Stagecoach Foundation, whose assets include a small office building. Martin wrote immediately after the launch —
Stagecoach will be a non-profit foundation. Our dream is to bring more jobs to the people of Santa Fe, and to help train the young people of the city for careers in the entertainment industry, through internships, mentoring, and education.
— the Stagecoach building is not 30,000 square feet. Someone pulled that number out of their ass, and dozens of other reports have repeated it. That’s a rough approximate figure for MEOW WOLF, an entirely different place on the other side of Santa Fe. The Stagecoach building is perhaps a third that size,
— I did not “build” Stagecoach. David Weininger did that in 1999, as the headquarters for his compnay, Daylight Chemical Information Systems,
— I am not “opening a film studio.” Stagecoach is a non-profit foundation dedicated to bringing more film and television production to Santa Fe, it is not a film studio,
— there are no sound stages at Stagecoach (though there are several here in town, at the Santa Fe Studios and the Greer Garson Studios). It’s an office building, and will be used primarily for pre- and post-production purposes,
— I am not going to be “running” a foundation, much less a studio. That task I’ve given to a dynamic young lady named Marisa X. Jiminez, who helped open Santa Fe Studios here in town, and who will have total charge of the day-to-day operations of Stagecoach, under a board of directors.
(5) OVER THE TRANSOM.Compelling Science Fiction editor Joe Stech says they’re once again open for submissions. He’s looking for stories to include in issue 7 (and beyond). The submissions window will remain open until 11:59pm MDT on June 1st, 2017. Full details on the submissions page.
StarTrek.com is saddened to report the passing of Lawrence Montaigne, the veteran actor who played the Romulan, Decius, in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Balance of Terror” in 1966 and returned a year later to portray Stonn, a Vulcan, in “Amok Time.” The actor died on Friday, March 17, at the age of 86.
(7) BERRY OBIT. Famed guitarist Chuck Berry (ob-sf — he was referenced Back to the Future) died March 18. The Guardian has the best obit says Cat Eldridge.
Chuck Berry, who has died aged 90, was rock’n’roll’s first guitar hero and poet. Never wild, but always savvy, Berry helped define the music. His material fused insistent tunes with highly distinctive lyrics that celebrated with deft wit and loving detail the glories of 1950s US teen consumerism.
His first single, Maybellene, began life as “country music”, by which Berry meant country blues, but was revamped on the great postwar Chicago label Chess in 1955. It was not only rock’n’roll but the perfect indicator of just what riches its singer-songwriter would bring to the form. Starting with a race between a Cadillac and a Ford, told from the Ford-owner’s, and therefore the underdog’s, viewpoint, this immeasurably influential debut record featured one of the most famous opening verses in popular music: “As I was motorvatin’ over the hill / I saw Maybellene in a Coupe de Ville …”
(8) WRIGHTSON OBIT. Swamp Thing co-creator Bernie Wrightson (1948-2017) died March 18 of brain cancer. He was 68.
Wrightson was best known for co-creating the DC Universe character Swamp Thing with writer Len Wein and for illustrating the Swamp Thing comic in the early ’70s. His many other projects included a comic book version of the 1982 Stephen King-penned anthology horror film Creepshow and a 1983 edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, for which he spent seven years creating around 50 illustrations. Wrightson also worked as a conceptual artist on a number of films including the original Ghostbusters, Galaxy Quest, and Creepshow director George A. Romero’s zombie movie Land of the Dead.
(9) TODAY’S DAY
History of International Read To Me Day International Read To Me day was established by the Child Writes Foundation to encourage the growth and spread of adult literacy. It became clear that in countries throughout the world adult literacy is a problem, and many adults simply lack the ability to read even for pleasure. When trying to find ways to help offset this, it became apparent that being read to as a child helped to encourage literacy and a love of reading in adults. The result of these findings was obvious! A holiday needed to be established to encourage the foundations of literacy by reading to our children, and thus was born “International Read To Me Day”!
A literary critic once asserted that the characters in James Joyce’s Ulysses – the sprawling, modernist opus that has bewitched or bedeviled readers for decades – were not fictitious: Through them, Stuart Gilbert said, Joyce achieved “a coherent and integral interpretation of life.”
Now, through a project titled “Joycestick,” Boston College Joyce scholar Joseph Nugent and his team of mainly BC students have taken this “interpretation of life” to a whole other realm.
Joycestick is Ulysses adapted as an immersive, 3D virtual reality (VR) computer game – a “gamification,” in contemporary parlance. Users don a VR eyepiece and headphones and, with gaming devices, navigate and explore various scenes from the book. Nugent, an associate professor of the practice of English, and his team are continuing to develop, refine and add to Joycestick with the hope of formally unveiling it in Dublin this coming June 16 – the date in 1904 on which Ulysses takes place, now celebrated as Bloomsday in honor of the book’s main character, Leopold Bloom.
(11) CAN’T BE FOUND. The author’s influence on pop culture is pervasive. So “Where Are All the Big Lovecraft Films?” asks this video maker.
H.P. Lovecraft is one of the most important horror and science fiction writers of all time, yet there really aren’t that many large scale adaptations of his work, and even fewer successful ones. So where are all the Lovecraft films?
(12) KEEPING UP THE RAY QUOTA. Just in case Camestros Felapton ever does another count….
FATHER ELECTRICO: RAY BRADBURY LIVES FOREVER! is a documentary film based on a collaboration between the author and sculptor Christopher Slatoff.
The frontal view of the sculpture depicts a young Ray’s father carrying him home from a very long day spent at two circuses. Turn the sculpture around and the image of the Illustrated Man and his tattoos come to life and tell their stories.
The other namesake, Mr Electrico, was a carnival magician who charged 12 year-old Ray to “live forever!” The budding author begin writing that day and never stopped.
A man accused of sending a flashing image to a writer in order to trigger an epileptic seizure has been arrested, the US justice department says.
John Rayne Rivello, 29, of Maryland, sent Kurt Eichenwald an animated image with a flashing light on Twitter in December, causing the seizure.
He has been charged with criminal cyber stalking and could face a 10-year sentence, the New York Times reports.
“You deserve a seizure for your post,” he is alleged to have written.
Mr Eichenwald is known to have epilepsy. He is a senior writer at Newsweek magazine, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a best-selling author of books including The Informant.
(15) HOW THEY DID IT. The Mummy (2017) Zero Gravity Featurette goes behind the scene of a stunt shown in the trailer.
[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, and Ellen Datlow for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day lurkertype.]
They had placed three science experiments on board the Viking 1 lander, each of which would analyze Martian soil for signs of microbes. The lander also featured two cameras, which were life-detection instruments in their own right. A single image might solve the ancient mystery of extraterrestrial life. No one could completely rule out the possibility that a Martian creature might go hopping by.
Sf author Gentry Lee, who said he “spent seven years averaging 60 hours a week on Viking,” is interviewed in depth. There are also Carl Sagan references; he wanted the Viking landers to have external lights “because Martian creatures might be attracted to it.”
(2) LIMERICK WRITER. On Saturday, Nigel Quinlan was at an event commemorating Irish Gothic and ghost story writer Joseph Sheridan LeFanu’s connection to Co Limerick, where Quinlan grew up. He wrote about it in “Me, Murroe, And LeFanu”.
Quinlan adds, “In the interests of helping pronunciation, the title can be sung to the refrain of ‘Me and you and a dog named Boo.’ There are a lot of images and nostalgia and possibly a mild mid-life crisis.”
From 1856 until his death in 1873 he lived in Merrion Square. I, er, used to eat my lunch in Merrion Square a lot. (I was working In Fred Hanna’s Bookshop on Nassau Street. A brisk hike to get to the Square and back at lunch hour, but worth it.) His reclusive habits and night-owl work hours earned him the nickname ‘The Invisible Prince.’ I don’t think my brisk hiking to the Square and back for my lunch hour earned me a nickname. That I know of….
(3) PROTEST VOTE. So does this imply there will be a Chuxit voting bloc for the Hugos? Well, Chuck can count on J.K. Rowling’s support in any case.
please understand i APOLOGIZE to all readers who got my book in protest but didnt realize they would actually get it pic.twitter.com/tj3U1I2NF9
Along the way, Hines sparked a long and vigorous Metafilter conversation with classic comments like this one from “Eyebrows McGee.”
My life will be complete the day that I read in a high fantasy novel — in place of, “She felt her breasts bouncing underneath her tunic as she hurried across the courtyard” or whatever, where a female character spends the whole walk thinking about her own boobs for no reason — a male character walking across a courtyard thinking to himself, “He felt his testicles jostling in his codpiece as he hurried across the courtyard.”
“It must be cooler weather than I realized,” he thought to himself, “they’re awfully small and high up today …”
A breakdown on why there aren’t more indie authors making a living:
Americans spend about $15 billion a year on trade books of all formats. After retailers and publishers take their cut, at most $3 billion actually lands in author pockets. Divided up perfectly evenly, that $3 billion could theoretically support 60,000 authors at the $50,000 level…
But instead, it’s getting divided up among at least 1,000,000 authors, if not more… including the estates and heirs of deceased authors. (I can see at least a million author names in our Amazon ebook data and top-selling Amazon print-book data, and that doesn’t even start to include the 32 million(!) lower-selling print book titles listed on Amazon right now, whose sales are too low to be captured in one of our scrapings.).
But lets imagine that there were only a million authors sharing the $3 billion right now. Which is an average of $3,000 each, if it were evenly distributed — but of course, it isn’t evenly distributed. Not even close.
The numbers are eye-opening, however, Fynbospress warns against drawing certain types of conclusions about them:
The fixed-pie fallacy is a fallacy. There is no fixed amount of wealth in the system. Becoming a bestseller will not force someone else off “The List” and into poverty. Indie publishing has no limit to the number of its publishing slots, and publishing your book will never mean that somebody else “can’t get a publishing slot.” Selling a copy of your book to a reader doesn’t mean that somebody else just lost their turn to sell a book.
(6) FILE SEVENTY-FIVE. Ann Patchett’s choices for “The 75 Best Books of the Past 75 Years” for Parade has more sf/f than you might expect. The choices for the 1950s – Bradbury and Asimov, E.B. White and T.H White. For the 1960s – Vonnegut and Madeleine L’Engle. After that the picks seem surprising or highly idiosyncratic.
In “Credo,” which opens the first section of the book, you write, “I believe I have the right to think and say the wrong things.” Do you find that in today’s society — especially because of social media and the 24-hour news cycle — that we don’t let people be wrong enough?
What I tend to see happening more and more is people retreating into their own corners. People seem scared to get things wrong or be shouted at so they form villages in which they agree with every other member, and maybe they go out and shout at the people in the next village for fun, but there’s no interchange of ideas going on. I think we have to encourage the idea that you’re allowed to think things. I have thought a great many stupid things over the years, and I can tell you that there’s not one stupid thing that I ever thought where I changed my mind because someone shouted at me or threatened to kill me. On the other hand, having great discussions with good friends, possibly over a drink, has definitely changed my mind and made me try to do better. You’re allowed to do better, but we have to let people do better.
(8) THEY WERE EXPENDABLE. My fashion consultant, Mr. J.K. Tarpinian, says, “This would look good under a sport coat for anybody going to the Hugos.”
Okay, as long as I get a bottle of the stuff, too.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
June 26, 1904 — Peter Lorre.
Observes John King Tarpinian, “Here is an actor who lives on because of his vocal styling. How many times in animation is the creepy guys voice an imitation of Lorre? Same goes for a cartoon monster being Karloff.”
If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter movies (um, who isn’t?), you’ve probably noticed that the world is wonderfully detailed, right down to every sign, map, newspaper, and storefront. Those intricate elements are the vision of graphic designers, Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, who met back in 2001 on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
They became great friends and collaborators, and we’re proud to announce that these two designers now have their own pop-up shop in London! It’s called House of MinaLima, and it includes exclusive Harry Potter art prints and awesome HP stationery.
Car commercials do an excellent job of making vehicles look almost too good to be true. As it turns out, they probably are… at least, if the Blackbird is involved.
The Blackbird is a visual effects stand-in for vehicles featured in commercials and movies. As Gizmag notes, its wheelbase, width, suspension travel and even engine response can be dialed in to match nearly any production vehicle while its onboard 360-degree cameras are used to create perfect reflections when the actual car body is overlaid in post-production.
Why go through all that trouble? Why not film the actual car being marketed in the commercial?
Auto commercials are often shot before the vehicle has even been manufactured. As such, some small visual details might not have been decided on yet so with CGI, you can add those in with ease. What’s more, auto makers typically keep the details of their new cars a closely guarded secret. Filming with something like the Blackbird gives the auto paparazzi nothing but a set of wheels to go on.
[Thanks to Rose Embolism, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, and Chip Hitchcock. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Henley.]
(1) “It appears there’s a Northwesteros football team,” reports Tom Galloway. “Personally, I find this amusing given that when he was at Northwestern, George R.R. Martin was a mainstay of, not the football team, but the chess team (he’s written a story where the starting point is a real life match against the arch-rival UChicago team).”
This film doesn’t exactly hide its place within Lovecraftian mythology. You really think that creature on the ring is just an octopus? Uniquely for a Bond film, it starts with an epigraph of sorts, the words ‘the dead are alive’ printed over a black screen – a not particularly subtle allusion to the famous lines from the Necronomicon: ‘That is not dead which can eternal lie/ And with strange aeons even death may die.’
The new list, called John Joseph Adams Books, will begin in February 2016 with print editions of three backlist Hugh Howey titles. Adams will serve as editor at large for the line. He began his association with HMH when he became series editor for the Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy series, launched this year.
(6) Buddy’s Antique Auction in Arab, Alabama might not be the first place you’d look to buy a genuine Lunar Rover — but it should be! That salvaged LRV recently in the news will be there for sale to the highest bidder on November 21 at Noon.
We are proud to announce that we have been commissioned to sell at public auction this very special piece of historical value. This Lunar Rover or “Moon Buggy” as it is comonly called is a prototype from the mid 1960s. NASA engineers were studying ways for the astronauts to be mobile while on the moon. This buggy never went to the moon but has been authenticated by a retired NASA scientist and he believes Wernher Von Braun was photographed on this buggy. “Moon Buggies” were used on the moon and three are still there. This is definitely a piece of history some space enthusiast could lovingly bring back to its original glory….
This is a special auction and will be for the Moon Buggy. This will be the only item in this auction and will be held at 12:00 Noon at the Worley Brothers Antiques building.
I saw a lot of praise this year about conventions that had sign language interpreters in attendance, and I thought, “Good. I’m glad that conventions are finally getting this accommodation, but what does it say about us that this is something to be praised rather than part of our normal convention going experience?”
That’s the thing that really irks me about this issue. Accommodation is still something to be praised rather than a normal thing. It’s an event rather than an occurrence. Furthermore, there are still times when there are problems and people get excluded or edged out due to these problems. The dialogue about this is still minimal in the genre. There is still almost no discussion about these problems until something happens and there is a small outcry.
(8) Roger Tener gave permission to reprint his account of Nancy Nutt’s memorial service from Chronicles of the Dawn Patrol.
Saturday [November 7] was the Memorial Service for Nancy Nutt.
David and Sherrie Moreno, Cathy, and I drove up to Kansas City It was an opportunity to spend time with friends to comfort each other and remember Nancy.
There was a couple of tables set up in a small room with pictures that Nancy had taken over the years. Nancy’s family told us to take any of the pictures we wanted. There were several pictures of Fans and airplanes. More specifically airplanes that I had flown Fan gatherings.
During the service many us fans told various stories of Nancy that brought a smile. (Like Mickey Mouse committing suicide in the back 52 Tango while flying over Walt Disney World.)
After the service many of us gathered at Genghis Kahn for supper. After we ate we stood outside the restaurant and talked and talked and talked in the finest Fannish tradition.
And one more that’s happened recently (and been done by more than one person) “If you’re new to us, send us a writing sample of the first five pages of your published work.” And instead, you send us a link to your website. Sure, that website may have oodles of your work on it, but you just showed us that you can’t follow simple instructions. Why would I believe I should work with you?
The point of all this is to make sure you guys who DO follow the rules and who DO read the guidelines carefully know that we on the other end of those guidelines appreciate the effort you take. We may not open our next letter to you with the words “I see that you followed our guidelines” but you can just bet that you’re even hearing from us because you did. And one other thing to remember…publishing is a tightly-knit business. If you behave in a jerkish manner, breaking rules and skipping guidelines for one editor, don’t be surprised when another editor seems uninterested in working with you. Word gets around.
I listen to a lot of audio books, because I’ll have them playing while I’m describing core, processing data, or driving. (And I tend to listen to them over and over again, since I will miss things sometimes.) The two authors whose audiobooks I own the most of are Lois McMaster Bujold and NK Jemisin. I’m not sure if that’s because their work lends itself particularly well to the format, or just because I love everything they write anyway. I actually didn’t own a written copy of any of Bujold’s books until this year, and reading it normally felt weird—so many things weren’t spelled the way I thought they would be. This also made reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms after I’d listened to it first a slightly odd experience.
This is the time in Jim’s writing process where, like Charlie Brown kicking at that elusive football, I lose my footing and end up flat on my back, staring into the sky and wondering what the heck just happened.
My shiny new idea isn’t quite so shiny anymore. I’ve gotten lots of words down, but they don’t exactly match what I was imagining. And this next part of the outline doesn’t make any sense at all, now that I think about it more closely. Good grief, the Jim who was outlining this thing last month is an idiot. And now I have to fix his mess….
(13) Today’s Birthday Boy
Born November 9, 1934 – Carl Sagan
(14) Today In History
November 9, 1984 – Silent Night, Deadly Night premieres. To protest the film, critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel read the credits out loud on their television show saying, “Shame, shame, shame” after each name.
One, he’s perfectly fine, merely not at the center of my public discussion of cats in the last week as he neither a) a kitten, b) a newly-passed on senior cat. You should be aware that Zeus has been perfectly fine not being the center of media attention in the last several days, as he is a cat and has not the slightest idea either that I write about my cats here, or that any of you have any idea who he is. But he is alive and well and doing what he does.
If there’s one toy that defines cheap and mass-produced, it’s those buckets full of tiny green plastic army men. They really stop being desirable once you turn six, except when those plastic soldiers are replaced with tiny white stormtroopers led by an equally tiny Darth Vader.
Through that summer, I collected complete sets of both the blue and red-bordered bubble-gum cards. In that autumn, as I started at The Big School (Pencoed Comprehensive, where I still help out with creative writing workshops) I got hold of George Lucas’s novel of the film. Yes, it was amazing, wasn’t it, that George Lucas had not only found time to make this film, but also scribble down a novelisation of it? It was only later that Alan Dean Foster was credited, but not on my edition. It was a shiny paperback with a yellow cover and a set of colour photos stitched into the middle. It was a holy relic, as far as I was concerned, and when I accidentally dented one of the corners, I felt as if my world had ended. I also got the 7″ disco-funk version of the Star Wars music:
When Stuart Freeborn, the make-up artist who was tasked with creating Yoda, looked into a mirror, he saw Yoda. No, it wasn’t a Disney magic mirror, but rather it was Freeborn’s own reflection that inspired Yoda’s final look.
When Freeborn modeled himself and started sculpting Yoda, he emphasized his bald scalp, wrinkles, and pointed chin in order to bring Yoda into the world. According to Freeborn, the only part of Yoda that wasn’t based on himself was the upper lip, in which he removed the famous mustache of Albert Einstein and ported it onto Yoda’s face. This move was meant by Freeborn to trigger a subconscious association in the audience with Einstein’s intelligence and wisdom, thus making Yoda appear intelligent before he even spoke a word of advice in his lovable, fractured English.
2) When We Thought Bat People Lived On The Moon Ah, 19th century New York City: a place where the lanterns burned all night, Bill the Butcher and his gang of Know-Nothings spattered the streets with blood, and four-foot tall bat people looked down upon it all from their home on the moon. What, you don’t know about the flying lunar bat people? That’s because they were the invention of a master troll named Matthew Goodman, editor of the Sun newspaper.
Singer and actress Mariah Carey has joined the cast of The LEGO Batman Movie.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, she’ll voice the mayor of Gotham City. This report is contrary to a Deadline report that she would be playing Commissioner Gordon — which only works if she’s playing Commissioner Barbara Gordon from the animated Batman Beyond. Of course, that’s completely possible, too, given how the first LEGO Movie mashed up characters from all over the story multiverse….
The LEGO Batman Movie is scheduled for release on February 10, 2017,
(21) This just in – eight years ago.
Alrugo Entertainment, bring you: ITALIAN SPIDERMAN Unearthed for the first time in 40 years and lovingly restored at Alrugo Studios Milan, this rare theatrical trailer for the 1968 Italian classic ‘Italian Spiderman’ is a real treat. Featuring Franco Franchetti of ‘Mondo Sexo’ fame in his last ever role before being killed in a spear fishing accident in 1969. Alrugo entertainment will be releasing the FULL, remastered ITALIAN SPIDERMAN film on the web starting MAY 22. STAY TUNED
Italian Spiderman is an Australian film parody of Italian action–adventure films of the 60s and 70s, first released on YouTube in 2007. The parody purports to be a “lost Italian film” by Alrugo Entertainment, an Australian film-making collective formed by Dario Russo, Tait Wilson, David Ashby, Will Spartalis and Boris Repasky.
Ostensibly an Italian take on the comic book superhero Spider-Man, the film is a reference to foreign movies that misappropriate popular American superheroes such as the Turkish film “3 Dev Adam”, and licensed series such as the Japanese TV series “Spider-Man”, both of which alter the character of Spider-Man for foreign audiences. Other notable entries include the Indian version of Superman (1987), I fantastici tre supermen(3 Fantastic Supermen) (1967) and La Mujer Murcielago (The Batwoman) (1968).
(22) A Robot Chicken video, “The Nerd on The CW,” parodies Arrow and The Flash.
[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, DMS, Tom Galloway, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peter J.]
On December 3, 1972 many of the leading sf writers, artists, and scientists of their generation boarded Holland America’s cruise ship SS Statendam to view the launch of Apollo 17 and to discuss the future of space travel. This would be the last manned mission to the Moon — the rest of the Apollo series had been cancelled — but it was still too early for so many optimists to internalize that America was entering the doldrums of manned space exploration.
A documentary of the cruise, Voyage Beyond Apollo, was recently posted on YouTube.
Some of the most interesting figures on board were Isaac Asimov, the only two people Asimov would admit were more intelligent than he was, Carl Sagan and AI specialist Marvin Minsky, plus Richard Hoagland, Ben Bova, poet Berguet Roberts, artists Rick Sternbach and Don Davis, Harry Stine, Robert Heinlein, Frederik Pohl, Theodore Sturgeon, Fred Ordway, rocket designer and space visionary Krafft Ehricke, SETI pioneer and director of the Arecibo Observatory Frank Drake, and physicist Robert Enzmann. They were joined by a sprinkling of other comped celebrities – Norman Mailer and Katherine Anne Porter among them. All that was really missing were — paying passengers.
In the first of several posts he wrote about the cruise for The Way The Future Blogs,“The Ship of Foolishness, Part 1: The Foreplay”, Frederik Pohl said the three men who organized the cruise were an astronaut, a communications genius who used to work with Walter Cronkite, and a highly respected scientist, but 40 years having passed by the time he penned these memories Pohl decided the organizers deserved anonymity. He just called them “Jim, Joe and Jack.”
The trio knew a lot of people would like to view an Apollo launch, and had experienced what a pain it was to drive down to the Cape, book a hotel, and find parking near the site. One had an inspiration.
“Hey, what about watching it from a cruise ship anchored just offshore?”
And another one, maybe Jim, said, “Great idea! And, listen, if you really wanted to do it, maybe you could get a bunch of people like us to give lectures on the ship in exchange for free tickets.” And somebody, possibly Joe, said, “Why the dickens don’t we just go ahead and do it?”
They did. They talked to Holland America line (my own personal first choice among cruise companies), who loved the idea, only they wanted to make a real cruise out of it, with visits to four or five gorgeous tropical islands. Then they got busy compiling a guest list of leading science-fiction writers and assorted celebrities to attract hoi polloi. To all of which Holland America responded with approval and encouragement, and did they have any other ideas like that?
They invited Pohl and filled him in on who else would be there.
Things were going splendidly, they said. They had been working the invitation list. Robert Heinlein was coming, and Ted Sturgeon and Isaac Asimov and at least a dozen other top science-fiction writers, said Joe. And other celebrities, too, Jack added, people like Carl Sagan and Norman Mailer and Katherine Anne Porter, whose 1962 novel Ship of Fools had created a stir in the world of publishing (an invitation which produced quite a lot of joking from Jim and Joe when Jack mentioned the title).
“And,” Joe put in, giving me a grin, “of course everybody brings his wife or husband or main squeeze. And we’re all comped, for the whole cruise, courtesy of Holland America. In your case, Fred, you don’t even have to worry about air fare, because you live near New York and that’s where this cruise starts and finishes.”
…I don’t actually know what these follies cost Holland America. A figure I have heard mentioned was half a million 1972 American dollars. Jim, Joe and Jack might have been able to give a more precise figure, but we couldn’t ask them.
They hadn’t come aboard.
According to Up Ship, Katherine Anne Porter’s biographer reports only 100 people in total paid for the cruise. There were only 40 “premium tickets” sold for the conference itself. It seems that staggeringly few people wanted to pay the $400 for the conference on top of the $400-$900 for the cruise.
Well, enough of telling you about experiences you can’t have. Simply imagine that you’re at the best con you’ve ever attended, only it’s with fewer people than usual and it runs twice as long. And it takes place not in a hotel in some strange city but on board of some twenty thousand tons of steel that is chugging through blue waters under balmy skies. Put them together with a host of entertaining companions available on what is almost a twenty-four hour schedule, and you’ve got the picture.
… watched Apollo 17 rise into the air like the biggest firefly in creation. It lit the sky from horizon to horizon, turning the ocean an orange-grey and the sky into an inverted copper bowl from which the stars were blanked out.”
Slowly it rose on its tail of fire, and it was well up in the sky before the first shaking rumble reached us some forty seconds after ignition and shook us savagely.
Mankind was making its attempt to reach the moon a sixth time and place and eleventh and twelfth man upon it. It was the last launching of the Apollo series (and the only night launching, hence incredibly spectacular, and I was delighted to see it). It may be decades before mankind returns to the task – after establishing a space station that would make it possible to reach the Moon more easily, more economically, and more elaborately.
We saw something flaring around the base of the rocket. Then that whole precarious stack of thrusters and capsules began to ease itself upward.
We all blinked and squinted as the five great rocket nozzles on the Saturn 5 savaged our eyes with the five blinding supernovas of hydrogen burning in air. The blinding flames began moving upward with the rest of the train, slowly at first, then picking up speed. Everything moved straight up together until the thrusters were level with the little bridge the astronauts had walked on, then higher and clear of the launch tower entirely.
And then at last the sound of those five Saturn rockets reached us, over beach and water, from far away, but still making the ship’s lighting fixtures rattle and our ears hurt. Now the entire construct was overhead, the hydrogen fire stretching down toward us, but far away and getting rapidly farther. Now the departing assembly of space-going parts was vertically over our heads.
Every head was craned back, every face aimed at the spectacle above. I turned around to look at my companions behind me. There were the upturned faces of Bob Heinlein and Isaac and Ted Sturgeon and others, clustered like blossoms in a flower-shop bouquet, starkly lit by that super-sun that was sliding across the sky above them. I could have kicked myself, angry at my dimwitted absence of forethought for failing to stick a camera in my pocket to capture a shot of those faces in that wondrous light.
For space artist Rick Sternbach, the launch was all about visual images and color, “the repeating shockwaves off rocket, the blowtorch yellow-orange glow around the vehicle, the smoke and steam streaming away in every direction.” He had witnessed the daytime launches of Apollo 11 and Apollo 13, but this was an altogether different experience.
After the launch, the ship’s many bars filled with celebration and discussion. Ehricke estimated to a gathered crowd that the brightness of the night launch was about that of five hundred full moons. “Incomparably beautiful,” Robert Heinlein termed it. For Norman Mailer, “It was the one time when I wanted instant replay.” Eighty-two-year-old novelist Katherine Anne Porter, on assignment to cover the launch for Playboy magazine, never expected to witness anything like it in her life. “I came out of a world so primitive you can scarcely imagine it,” she said. “We barely had gaslight in New Orleans when I was a girl. When I saw them take off, I wanted with all my soul to be going with them.”
Fresh from his own rounds of celebration, Richard Hoagland commandeered the ship’s public address system to announce that “due to a lack of interest, tomorrow has been canceled” —as though the launch were so singular an event that all else lost meaning in its wake. The comment might have served as a final epitaph for the extraordinary Apollo program, except that the Statendam passengers had gathered precisely to consider “tomorrow” and how to fill its possibilities.
Artist Jon Lomberg enjoyed a 25-year collaboration with the late Carl Sagan, illustrating The Cosmic Connection (1973) and providing work for Cosmos, Broca’s Brain (1979), and the cover for Sagan’s novel, Contact (1985). And Lomberg’s Cosmos Archive will go under the hammer at Heritage Auction’s Rare Books Signature Auction on April 8-9 in New York.
A long descriptive article about the art can be read at the link.
This incredible archive includes sixty-two original signed paintings, drawings, and sketches; forty-seven signed one-of-a-kind prints of special effect paintings used in the series, four signed retouched photos from the series, thirteen sheets of signed storyboards (including dozens of drawings), approximately twenty documents and notes related to the series, production photos, and one stereoscopic viewer with slides testing dimensionality of the “Milky Way Approach” sequence from the series.
On the other hand, some of Lomberg’s best-known work can never go to auction because it’s already left the solar system.
His work also includes designing artwork and material for various NASA interstellar exploratory missions, including artwork for the famous “Voyager Golden Records,” the gold-plated copper record albums that were mounted in both Voyager spacecraft, each launched by NASA in 1977. It is just possible (though, admittedly, not very likely) that the first images of Earth and Mankind seen by an extraterrestrial civilization will be those done by Lomberg.
Fortunately, his incredible Galaxy Garden is no farther away than Hawaii. It models the Milky Way to scale with a garden of living things:
A fountain in the middle of the garden marks the “gravity well” with a bimodal jet so water is going both directions. Out on the galactic arm corresponding to the position of our solar system, the place where the Sun would be is marked by a tiny jewel on a leaf. Driving home the scale involved, Lomberg says all the stars we can see with the naked eye are either on that same leaf or an adjoining leaf!