(1) KOONTZ UPDATE. “Putting the Heart in the Work: Close-up on Dean Koontz” at Publishers Weekly asks how he keeps growing as an author. I’m always a bit fascinated to compare his ultimate success with his beginnings as a testy newcomer who wrote locs to Science Fiction Review.
Would you say that your writing style continues to evolve?
When I was young, I thought that after a few years, I would learn all the tricks of the trade, after which writing novels would be easy. Instead, it gets harder—and more exciting—because there are infinite approaches and techniques to explore. In the past, I’ve had some publishers express bafflement as to why I had to change direction. However, repetition of past work is not art; it’s imitation and not in the least satisfying. You have to do new things and risk failure. My experience is that readers expect that and will reward it.
There’s a certain comfort for readers in returning to a world they already know. Is it ever a struggle to maintain your own investment in a particular story or with particular characters?
I don’t think I could ever write as many words about any other character as I wrote about Odd Thomas. I loved him. I knew he was on a journey to absolute humility—which would really test my powers of imagination—and he won my heart with every page. Five novels was right for Jane Hawk, and two seasons for Nameless. Readers who want more of any one thing need to be won over by a new world and new characters that they like as well or better. Otherwise, both they and the author are standing still emotionally and intellectually.
(2) CALL FOR FANWRITING. For the next issue of The Drink Tank, Christopher J. Garcia, Alissa McKersie, and Chuck Serface want articles, artwork, and anything printable dedicated to Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. Chuck Serface says: “The novels, the PBS shows, the recent Netflix series — it’s all good. Our due date is July 10, 2021, and we’ll have the issue out shortly thereafter.” Send your offerings to Chuck at email@example.com or to Christopher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(3) A PLEONASM OF MIDDLE-EARTH. Sam Woods gives us “James Joyce’s The Hobbit” at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.
There never was a Hobbit Hole quite like Bag End in all of Hobbiton a place that oftsaw the comings and goings of many of the Little Folk and Big Folk the bastards they are as time has onwardflown and kings and queens of the other lands of Middle Earth have died and been barrowburied since the dawn of Man upon these soils but even so there have been no bigger bastards to tromp up to Bilbo’s door (for I am the current resident of Bag End) than the Sackville Bagginses…
(4) BENEATH THE RISING TRILOGY. What is the Premee Mohamed calling the third book? The Edmonton Journal has the scoop: “Edmonton author announces final title of cosmic horror trilogy”.
Premee Mohamed didn’t intend to publish multiple books about the end of the world during a global pandemic — it just worked out that way.
Her debut novel, Beneath the Rising, has garnered major attention since its release in March of 2020. The book’s popularity led to a sequel, A Broken Darkness, released in March of this year, and The Void Ascendant, the trilogy’s final installment, was just announced for March 2022.
(5) UP THE MIGHTY AMAZON. The New York Times contends: “Buyers of Amazon Devices Are Guinea Pigs. That’s a Problem.”
…Many have learned a hard lesson about what it means to be an Amazon customer. Even when you’re paying lots of money, you are a guinea pig at the whims of a company endlessly striving to innovate. At any moment, the company could surprise you with an unwelcome change to an Amazon product you own or decide to kill it altogether.
Last week, many people who own Amazon devices were automatically enrolled in Sidewalk, a new internet-sharing program that drew intense scrutiny. Basically, the program lets owners of newer Amazon products share their internet connections with others nearby. If a neighbor’s Ring camera has a spotty internet connection and yours has a strong one, you can share your bandwidth with your neighbor.
That all sounds nice if everything works as expected, but security experts have raised concerns that device makers could have inappropriate access to people’s data. They advised that people opt out of the program to avoid becoming part of Amazon’s experiment because there are still many unknowns….
(6) JAWS JAZZ. Sarah Gailey is joined by Christine Sandquist and Martin Cahill to play with a writing prompt: “Building Beyond: Space Mouth-ain”:
NASA has discovered a massive open mouth floating just beyond the edge of our solar system. It’s just a mouth. And it’s open.
(7) GRADUATION DAY. A big day for Galactic Journey’s Marcus family:
Lorelei Marcus is graduating today. As school Valedictorian. And with department math honors.
I know, I know. “Of course she is.” But actually, we couldn’t be prouder of her super hard work that has made her accomplishment a seeming inevitability. Her perseverance, her willingness to help others, her dealing with disabilities that make computer-use difficult to impossible, have all just been stellar.
The other piece of news regards Journey Press, the publishing house the Marcus Family and Co. run. Yes, we managed to make it through 2020. In fact, we kind of flourished. In March 2020, we were in about 200 stores. Now we’re in 600 — in five countries and every state of the Union.
(7A) KEEPING PACE. There will be “Hollywood Walk of Fame stars for Carrie Fisher, Michael B. Jordan, Jason Momoa” reports SYFY Wire.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a tourist hotspot in Los Angeles — a stretch of sidewalk that passes other iconic L.A. locations like the Chinese Theater, the El Capitan, Pantages, and a Toyota dealership.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce decides who among the many applicants receive a star each year, and for 2022, there’s an impressive roster of genre actors who made the cut. The most notable star, however, goes to Carrie Fisher….
Other extended universes also got some love. MCU veterans Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther), Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok) and Salma Hayek (Eternals) will also be honored, while the DCEU will be represented by Jason Momoa. Watchmen’s Regina King and Jean Smart will also get their own stars, as well as Willem Dafoe (aka the Green Goblin from the 2002 Tobey Maguire Spider-Man film).
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- June 18, 1983 — Thirty-eight years ago today, Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, paving the way for sixty-four other female astronauts to do the same. While in orbit, Dr. Ride launched two commercial satellites, directed the use of robotic technology, and served as her ship’s mission specialist; as of 2022, she will be one of the few women featured on US coinage.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born June 18, 1917 — Richard Boone. He did only two genre roles of which one, playing Maston Thrust Jr. in The Last Dinosaur, I’m willing to bet you’ve never seen. The other however is one that nearly everyone here has heard, yes heard, as he voiced Smaug in the Rankin/Bass animated The Hobbit. Of course, his major non-genre role was Paladin in Have Gun, Will Travel.
- Born June 18, 1931 — Dick Spelman. A fan and a legendary book dealer who was active at SF conventions from the late Seventies through the early Nineties. He chaired Windycon IX in 1982. He was a member of the board of directors of Chicon IV, and ran the Dealers’ Room at many Worldcons. In 1991 he sold his book business to Larry Smith and retired to Orlando, where he was active in local fannish affairs. (Died 2012.)
- Born June 18, 1942 — Roger Ebert. He got his start as a fanzine writer while in high school, publishing the Stymie zine and having his writing appear in Xero, Yandro and many other zines such as Kipple, Parsection and Psi-Phi. In university, he was a member of the Champaign-Urbana Science Fiction Association. His fannish autobiography is How Propellor-Heads, BNFs, Sercon Geeks, Newbies, Recovering GAFIAtors and Kids in Basements Invented the World Wide Web, All Except for the Delivery System. Mike has much to say about him here. (Died 2013.)
- Born June 18, 1943 — Paul McCartney, 78. I could include him for the Magical Mystery Tour which might be genre. He actually has a cameo in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales as a character named Uncle Jack in a cell playing poker singing “Maggie May”. A shortened version of the song is on the Let It Be album.
- Born June 18, 1947 — Linda Thorson, 74. Though Diana Rigg as Emma Peel was John Steed’s best known partner on The Avengers, she was not his first nor his last. His last one would be Tara King played by this actress. She was the only one to be a real spy. Interesting that other than an appearance on Tales from The Darkside, her only other genre performance was on The Next Gen as Gul Ocett in “The Chase” episode.
- Born June 18, 1949 — Chris Van Allsburg, 72. For some twenty years now until the Pandemic came upon us, the local Narrow Gauge Railroad ran a Polar Express every Christmas season compete with cars decorated in high Victorian fashion and steaming cups of hot chocolate for the children. It always sold out for the entire month they ran it. Allsburg‘s Polar Express book is just magical for me and I enjoy his Jumanji every bit as much. (I’ve never seen the film.) He illustrated A City in Winter which was written by Mark Helprin and I highly recommended it.
- Born June 18, 1958 — Jody Lee, 63. Illustrator with a long career in genre work. Her first cover art was Jo Clayton’s Changer’s Moon for DAW Books in 1985. Her latest is Passages: All-New Tales of Valdemar, a Mercedes Lackey anthology, that came last year on DAW Books which seems to be her primary client. Her rather excellent website is here.
- Born June 18, 1960 — Barbara Broccoli, 61. Daughter of the late James Bond producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli. She has producer or director credit on at least fourteen Bond films which or may not be genre depending on how you view each one of them. Her only acting role is as an uncredited Opera patron in The Living Daylights. She produced the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang production staged in NYC at the Hilton Theater sixteen years ago.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Second in xkcd’s series: “Alien Visitors 2”
(11) THE RISING TIDE OF PIXAR. “Luca: Living La Dolce Vita” – a review at Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy.
Luca doesn’t look or sound like any film Pixar has made before. It has a charm all its own and captures our imagination from the moment it begins. It’s the living definition of an immersive experience (pun intended). Who else would dare ask us to care about strange-looking sea monsters, and then repeatedly surprise us while spinning its coming-of-age tale?
The story begins underwater, where we meet an adolescent boy named Luca and his family. These fish have no idea that people regard them as sea monsters. Curiosity impels Luca to disobey his protective parents and see what life is like above the surface of the ocean. Director Enrico Casarosa and his team draw us into their lively story as Luca ventures onto dry land, where he is magically transformed into a human being…
(12) PRECEDENT. SYFY Wire traces film fan history — “’Superman II: The Donner Cut’ was the OG Snyder Cut”.
While the Snyder Cut had to wait four years to finally be realized, it took 25 years for Superman II: The Donner Cut to get the same treatment. In doing so, the Donner Cut was arguably the “OG” Snyder Cut; a trial run that — for better or worse — set a precedent for fan-led campaigns that set the stage of an (at best) aggressive breed of fandom to help Snyder’s take on Superman and the rest of the Justice League defy the Anti-Life equation that is Development Hell. In honor of Superman II’s 40th anniversary this week, here’s a look at how that film’s troubled production and pop-culture legacy paved the way for another Man of Steel to find a second chance.
(13) BUILDING TRUST. “Sciencing Out: What it Means to Make Information Tangible” from NOVA.
In the second episode of Sciencing Out, host Reyhaneh Maktoufi introduces us to 18th century Englishwoman Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and modern-day wildlife conservationist Paula Kahumbu. By dedicating time to build public trust, both Montagu and Kahumbu made major positive changes in their communities.
In 1716, when smallpox was still ravaging the world, Montagu moved to Constantinople, where she noticed that smallpox was less widespread than in England. She discovered that Constantinoplans held “smallpox parties” where, in a process called “inoculation,” a person would place a dried smallpox scab from a patient with a mild case into the open wound of a healthy person. Montagu grew to trust the process enough that she had her own child inoculated.
Montagu returned to England and tried to advocate for inoculation, but struggled to gain trust. So she went to her friend Caroline, the Princess of Wales, and implored her to inoculate her own child against smallpox and inform the public of the result. Caroline agreed. Seeing royalty successfully inoculate their children against smallpox helped build the public’s trust in the practice, ultimately resulting in significantly fewer disease-related mortalities and setting the stage for modern-day vaccination….
(14) IN THE ‘BAG. “Horror Comedy Short Snore: Puppets, Gore, Mayhem” – Gizmodo says this short video delivers a lot.
…Snore introduces us to a businesswoman named Karen who’s fallen on hard times—currently, she’s got nothing left except a stack of schemes for her comeback, and her personal assistant/sorta-boyfriend Callum. Together, they check into a fleabag motel for the night while she plots her next move, but there’s something already in their room that causes quite a ruckus….
The YouTube blurb says it all comes down to this question:
Who will survive and, most importantly, what will be left of Callum’s designer manbag?
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This video from AT&T Corporate Television from 1979 shows the exciting future where everyone can have an electronic Yellow Pages in their home that gives access to business listings AND Dr. Joyce Brothers!
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chuck Serface, Olav Rokne, Lise Andreasen, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]