Cat Eldridge Review: Marvel Femme Fatales Spider-Gwen Statue

Statue figure of Spider-Gwen character

Review by Cat Eldridge: I’ve needed to write to this up for quite some time and since the second animated Spider-Verse film is recently out, it’s good time to write this up. And yes, I purchased Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, so I’ll be watching it soon, 

I went shopping for a decent representation of Spider-Gwen after repeated watchings of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse while I had my first of two lengthy stays in-hospital for treatment of a staphylococcal infection. She wasn’t the first Spider-Verse figure I bought— I’ve got a Miles Morales, another Spider-Gwen but from another universe, and a Spider-Man I’ve not a clue which ‘verse he’s from.

She was definitely a highlight of the film — tough, witty intelligent and a match in every way for the Spider-Man of that universe, Miles Morales.  Surprisingly there were very few figures available then, several years back, though there are many more now. Or rather there were lots sans her hood showing the face of Gwen Stacy. Those I had no interest in. Sans hood, she just looks like a blonde teenager.

The statue itself as sculpted by Alejandro Pereira comes in two parts as the outstretched arm is separate and slots in reasonably well, though you might think of gluing it in place. It’s not a tall statue being just nine inches from its circular base to the top of Spider-Gwen’s cowl. It looks more substantial than it is as the plastic used is quite lightweight. 

That said, it looks great with all colors bright with no bleed at all, unusual for lot of these plastic undertakings. Spider-Gwen herself is spot-on. looking as she does in the various series and the filmThe wall she’s posed on is an appropriate piece of a NYC brownstone with a realistic growth of ivy and the grinning gargoyle head to the right of her adds a nice touch.

It was reasonably priced at forty dollars and is available from a lot of online vendor such as Big Bad Toys which is where I purchased mine. She lives among my genre books as does such ones as Lara Croft and Death from The Sandman ‘verse. 

Cat Eldridge Review: Nine-Tail Fox Figure 

By Cat Eldridge: The nine-tail fox arose in Chinese mythology and spread throughout Asian mythology as the Chinese culture dominated that region. She occurs in genre fiction most notably in Jon Courtenay most excellent Grimwood’s 9 Tail Fox. And the Hellboy animated film Hellboy: Sword of Storms has him being aided, maybe, by anine-tailed fox spirit (kyūbi no kitsune). 

It is a perfect little sleeping nine-tailed fox, barely an inch and half across, the second one that I got. The first I received, from the Ukraine, is far too dark to make out the details of that creature when looking at from a distance. Not so here. The eyes, the slightly open mouth, the nostrils, the feet, the ears — all in their exquisite fine details are completely visible here as I look at her. 

Interestingly the nine tails, and they are also perfectly crafted, are for some reason darker than the rest of her. (All of my of foxes are females, eleven so far, plus two among my seventy houseplants are considered female.) I assume the Chinese artist where it came from or ceramic caster had a reason for this, and it’s not really distracting. I think it’s a different ceramic. 

It actually was intended as a good luck charm for one taking tea so it was near you when you do so. And here she is. 

Oh, she does have two eyes. I’ve no idea who the right one doesn’t show here.

Review: Kotobukiya Marvel Guardians of The Galaxy Rocket Raccoon Artfx+ Statue

Review by Cat Eldridge: Accurate representations of Rocket Raccoon, best known from the two Guardians of the Galaxy films plus various animated outing and even some graphic novels as well, are difficult to find without spending a lot of cash on the accurate one-sixth scale models costing in the hundreds of dollars. 

I wanted one such figure largely because I thought that Rocket and Groot were the most interesting characters in those films.

The Marvel character, by the way, goes back over forty years, as he was created by writer Bill Mantlo and artist Keith Giffen, first appearing in Marvel Preview #7, Summer 1976. 

He is apparently an intelligent, anthropomorphic raccoon — uplifted to use the David Brin term — who is an expert marksman, an accomplished thief and sometimes master tactician. Oh, and a complete smartass. His name is apparently a riff off the 1968 song “Rocky Raccoon” by The Beatles.

So off I went searching for him on Amazon and eBay. The one I got was on Amazon for four times what I paid for it on eBay. He is an authorized figure made in Hong Kong! Most of the official releases lean towards the more cartoonish animated versions which I already have one of but this, as you can see in the illustration, is more realistic representation.

So I paid for it (using PayPal as I didn’t trust using my bank account being used overseas) and waited for it to arrive, which it did well over a month later in a square box with all the labeling in Chinese except for my address. To my surprise, there was not a statue inside but rather four separate pieces — his head, his body, his effing big gun and Groot’s head and shoulders. It’s was also obvious that the image used had been enhanced as he’s been more subtly colored than the image.

Glued together as otherwise they kept coming apart, I’m pleased with him and I’ve placed the statue among the house plants which seemed appropriate. I’d have been happier if he was as large as described, seven inches, as it’s smaller than that, but I like the look quite a bit.

Review: Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Double Chocolate Muffins

Review by Cat Eldridge: Gluten free to me personally is a null term. I have no allergies. I may have a lot of interesting medical problems and I do but I’ve absolutely no allergies which does surprise medical specialists. So I’ve always skipped past the areas of the bakeries that have the gluten-free goods. 

Now my local Trader Joe’s never had a very extensive bakery section to begin with, barely a corner of the store that one could easily overlook. It has the usual breads, some sweet stuff and, errr, one gluten-free offering, these Double Chocolate Muffins.

Now I only noticed them, and blissfully overlooked the fact that they were gluten-free, because they were sitting there looking like big fat chocolate muffins, a rare occurrence indeed, in a stand in the middle of the aisle. Lots of them to be precise. 

Here’s the Trader Joe’s website description of them:

“Like our Coffee Cake version, these Chocolate Muffins are made with a gluten free flour blend, which includes white and brown rice flours, potato starch, and tapioca starch. But the real key to making these Gluten Free Muffins (and our other versions) so delicious is the inclusion of sweet cream buttermilk and sour cream, which contribute a decadently moist texture. Of course, these particular Muffins also have the bonus of both cocoa and chocolate chips!”

So how are they?  Oh, quite yummy. They don’t need butter, nor that abomination that is margarine, though that does improve them of course, and I put cream cheese on them. They taste properly of chocolate. And moist as well. A superior muffin indeed. 

Review: Dove Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar

By Cat Eldridge: At one of my local supermarkets they put lots of candy at the checkout area. Most of it is the common stuff you’d expect there, Musketeers, Almond Joy, Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, Butterfinger and Hershey Bar with Almonds. No, not bad stuff but nothing really unexpected. You certainly won’t find my favorite Reese’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups here.

I did always wonder how this variety of sweet stuff is put together because it includes a handful of rather unexpected treats of which these Dove dark chocolate peanut butter bars are definitely welcome. Add to that I didn’t even know the Dove company did anything of a dark chocolate nature in general or anything in particular like this bar.

Dove is owned by Mars and the company site says this of the bar, “Unrivaled in taste, our DOVE Dark Chocolate & Peanut Butter PROMISES now come in a large share-worthy size. Unlock a whole new level of chocolate indulgence with this shareable chocolate candy featuring 3 large PROMISES in each pack.” 

Ok, it’s not high end, bittersweet chocolate but then I’ve not date found any such product that combines premium dark chocolate and high quality peanut butter, but I live in hope with such a product existing. 

These bars are a tad sweet but the chocolate is quite good and the peanut butter’s rather fine. Each bar is actually, as the Mars site noted, three separate pieces and quite frankly one piece is enough most of the time. I don’t purchase them every time I shop there but I do get them frequently.

Cat Eldridge Review: Diana’s Bananas Dark Chocolate Banana Babies

Review by Cat Eldridge: OK, it’s way too cute a name, I’ll grant you, but once you meet them and taste them for the first time you’ll forgive the overly cute name, as they’re amazingly good. Diana’s Bananas Dark Chocolate Banana Babies are one of those snacks that are both an indulgent treat and, surprisingly, rather good for you, as I’ll detail shortly.

Diana’s Bananas started in the Eighties at The Taste of Chicago, the city’s yearly open-air food fest, where they had the idea of freezing a fresh, ripe banana and giving it a bath in delicious chocolatier grade melted bar chocolate. The present product isn’t a whole banana but rather a half a banana but that just means you’ll be eating at least two of these delicious treats. In ten days at Taste of Chicago- they sold some twenty-five thousand of these treats!

What you get are four small frozen half-bananas dipped in dark chocolate. All the bananas are harvested in Ecuador and frozen to minus twenty F there. I don’t think they’re using the usual monocrop banana variety as the size suggests another variety. The dark chocolate they use is gluten free, and not overly sweet — actually almost savory in taste. The banana taste does not get overwhelmed by the chocolate, something far, far too easy to do.

I’ve eaten a lot of them in the last month. They’re very good — consistently tasty, sweet and satisfying. Diana’s Bananas website says they’re available at Kroger’s, Jewels, Shaw’s… Well, you get the idea. If you like bananas and you like dark chocolate, I’d say these are for you.

Pixel Scroll 8/1/23 Scrolling To Filezantium

(1) FANTASY MAGAZINE R.I.P. Fantasy Magazine editors Christie Yant and Arley Sorg announced today their October 2023 issue will be the last.

This is the editorial we’ve been dreading having to write. We’ve been trying not to think about it too much, but we can’t put it off any longer.

We relaunched Fantasy Magazine in November of 2020–what a weird thing to do at an exceptionally weird time!–and we did it with high hopes, but realistic expectations based on our many years of experience in this field.

It is with real sadness that we have to announce that October 2023 will be our last issue. People will want to know why, of course, and the answer is the expected one: Unfortunately Fantasy never reached a point of paying for itself, and with the Kindle Periodicals mess it’s just not sustainable. We’ve actually carried on a little longer than we originally anticipated, because ending on our third anniversary made sense….

(2) VINTAGE COVERS RECREATED. Boing Boing shows us how “Author Michael Chabon recreates the Science Fiction section from the bookstore of his youth”

Acclaimed bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon spent his Covid quarantine lovingly and meticulously creating a digital tribute to / replica of the Science Fiction and Fantasy section in the bookstore of his youth. And it is glorious.

(3) CLARION WEST GETS BIG DONATION. Author David D. Levine, a Clarion West ’00 grad, has made a $10,000 donation toward 2024 Workshop housing.

…Clarion West hopes to be in person in 2024 and has a tentative hold on accessible housing on the beautiful University of Washington campus! More information will be forthcoming as the organization works toward ensuring the workshop continues to be affordable and can sustain the higher costs of the in-person workshop.

“This support will help us focus on securing the new location for 2024,” says Marnee Chua, Clarion West Executive Director. “As the board focuses on meeting our budget goals for this year and raising the funds necessary to support the 2024 workshop, donations like this one help meet our goals for an in-person workshop!”

We extend our deepest gratitude to David for his contribution, which will undoubtedly make a significant impact on the workshop’s presence in Seattle.

To learn more about our search for housing and the challenges ahead, visit our November blog post on the topic, Clarion West Needs a New Home.

(4) THE END GAME. Publishers Weekly reports that the “Judgment Phase of Internet Archive Copyright Case Appears Imminent”. The Internet Archive lost the case; now comes a decision about damages and other relief.

…In their last request for an extension the parties reported they were “very close” to “finalizing the terms of a consent judgment, subject to appeal” and said they expected to be able to submit the proposal “in a week or so.”

In his emphatic March 24 opinion, Koeltl found the Internet Archive infringed the copyrights of four plaintiff publishers by scanning and lending their books under a legally contested practice known as CDL (controlled digital lending). “At bottom, IA’s fair use defense rests on the notion that lawfully acquiring a copyrighted print book entitles the recipient to make an unauthorized copy and distribute it in place of the print book, so long as it does not simultaneously lend the print book,” Koeltl held in his decision. “But no case or legal principle supports that notion. Every authority points the other direction.”

In court filings, the publishers have asked for damages and injunctive relief, including the destruction of potentially infringing scans. Lawyers for the Internet Archive have argued that statutory damages should be remitted per section 504 of the Copyright Act, which offers some relief where the infringer is a “nonprofit educational institution, library, or archives,” and the infringers “believed and had reasonable grounds for believing” that its use of the work was fair use….

(5) “RIGHTING” RUSSIAN HISTORY WITH TIME TRAVEL. The new episode of BBC’s The Documentary is “Invading the past: Russia and science fiction”.

Science fiction flourished from the earliest days of the Soviet Union. A rare space to explore other realms and utopian dreams of progress. But with the Soviet Union’s collapse different narratives bubbled up. 

Many of them reactionary, imperial, violent with one sub genre flourishing above all – Popadantsy: accidental time travel where protagonists return to World War Two or the Imperial past to set the path of Russian history on the ‘right’ course, perhaps with the aid of Stalin or even Hitler. The enemies are frequently the US, Britain and the West. 

Historian Catherine Merridale explores how the once visionary world of Russian science fiction shifted in the time of Vladimir Putin to become a reactionary playground. Did the real invasion of Ukraine actually began amid the pages of such dark fictions? 

(6) TOODLES, TWITTER. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] SF² Concatenation has just ceased using Twitter alerts for new content.

Their Twitter followers amounted to less than 1% of the site’s typical monthly unique visitors (which are invariably in five figures). What prompted this was Twitter insisting they strengthen their password (presumably with the addition on upper and lower cases, an irrational number and a Klingon hieroglyph). This by itself would not be a problem but the e-mail address associated with the Twitter account is their old, deprecated one from over a decade ago, and they feel that there is no reason for Elon Musk to have their current address on his X server.

There is, though, an RSS Feed for those that like them, but SF² Concatenation’s seasonal posting times remain regular.

(7) JULEEN A. BRANTINGHAM (1942-2023). Author Juleen A. Brantingam died on July 22. She started as a writer of children’s stories and finished her career writing science fiction, appearing in Amazing Stories, Asimov’s, and Omni with a career spanning from 1979-99. The family obituary is here.

Her story “The Ventriloquist’s Daughter”, originally published in Whispers 19–20 (1983), was selected by editor Karl Edward Wagner for The Year’s Best Horror Stories: Series XII (1984).

(8) BETTY ANN BRUNO (1931-2023) One of the few surviving actors who played Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz (1939), Betty Ann Bruno died July 30 at the age of 91 reports Deadline.

Betty Ann Bruno, who as a child played a munchkin in the 1939 classic The Wizard Of Oz and went on to become a TV producer and longtime reporter in the San Francisco Bay area, died Sunday in Sonoma, CA, her family said. She was 91. No cause of death was given.

Born Betty Ann Ka’ihilani on October 1, 1931, in Wahiawa, Hawai’i, Bruno grew up in Hollywood and had an uncredited bit role in John Ford’s 1937 film The Hurricane. She was 7 when she was cast with about a dozen other children of average height as Munchkins opposite the 100-plus adult little people who played the denizens of Munchkinland. Victor Fleming’s beloved film starring Judy Garland was nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture and won for Best Song (“Over the Rainbow”) and Best Score.

Among only a handful of surviving Munchkin actors, Bruno in 2020 published a book called The Munchkin Diary: My Personal Yellow Brick Road, which was written during the Covid lockdown….

… Bruno graduated from Stanford University and had a long and successful career in local television, first as a political talk show producer, then as an on-air host and later a reporter for KTVU in the Bay Area. Starting in 1971, she spent more than 20 years with the station, becoming a familiar face to its viewers. Among the major stories she covered was the horrible 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm that killed 25 people and destroyed more than 3,200 homes — including hers….


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 1, 1862 M.R. James. Writer of some of the best ghost stories ever done. A Pleasing Terror: The Complete Supernatural Writings, released in 2001 from Ash-Tree Press has forty stories which includes the thirty stories from Collected Ghost Stories plus the 3 tales published after that, and the seven from The Fenstanton Witch and Others. It’s apparently the most complete collection of his stories to date. Or so I though until I checked online. The Complete Ghost Stories of M.R. James, over seven hundred pages, is available from the usual suspects for a mere buck ninety-nine! (Died 1936.)
  • Born August 1, 1910 Raymond A. Palmer. Editor of Amazing Stories from 1938 through 1949. He’s credited, along with Walter Dennis, with editing the first fanzine, The Comet, in May 1930. The secret identity of DC character the Atom as created by genre writer Gardner Fox is named after Palmer. Very little of his fiction is available from the usual suspects. Member, First Fandom Hall of Fame. He was nominated five times for a Retro Hugo for Best Editor, Short Form, and once as Best Professional Editor, Short Form. (Died 1977.)
  • Born August 1, 1923 Alan Yates. Though better known under the Carter Brown name where he wrote some one hundred and fifty mystery novels, I’m noting him here for Booty for a Babe, a Fifties mystery novel published under that name as it’s was set at a SF Convention. (Available from the Kindle store.) And as Paul Valdez, he wrote a baker’s dozen genre stories. (Died 1985.)
  • Born August 1, 1945 Yvonne Rousseau. Australian author, editor and critic. She edited the Australian Science Fiction Review in the late Eighties. She wrote one work of non-fiction, Minmers Marooned and Planet of the Marsupials: The Science Fiction Novels of Cherry Wilder, and has a handful of stories to her name. She got nominated for three Ditmar Awards for her fan writing. (Died 2021.)
  • Born August 1, 1948 David Gemmell. Best remembered for his first novel, Legend, the first book in his long-running Drenai series. He would go on to write some thirty novels. The David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy were presented from 2009 to 2018, with a stated goal to “restore fantasy to its proper place in the literary pantheon”. (Died 2006.)
  • Born August 1, 1954 James Gleick, 69. Author of, among many other books, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman and What Just Happened: A Chronicle from the Electronic Frontier, and he is one of us, which is that he writes genre reviews — collected in Time Travel: A History. Among the works he’s reviewed are Le Guin’s “Another Story or A Fisherman of the Inland Sea” and Heinlein‘s “By His Bootstraps”.
  • Born August 1, 1993 Tomi Adeyemi, 30. Nigerian born author. She won a Lodestar Award at Dublin 2019 for her Children of Blood and Bone novel which also won her an Andre Norton Award. That novel was nominated for a BFA, a Kitchie and a Nommo.  Her latest in that series is Children of Virtue and Vengeance


(11) HPL FILM FEST. The H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival is returning once more to Providence, R.I. from August 18-20 at the Columbus Theater.

(12) MOON WILL RECEIVE ART DEPOSIT. “Lunar Codex: digitised works of 30,000 artists to be archived on moon” – the Guardian has the story.

A portrait assembled from Lego bricks, woodcuts printed in Ukrainian soil and a collection of poetry from every continent are among thousands of works to be archived on the moon as a lasting record of human creativity.

The collection, known as the Lunar Codex, is being digitised and stored on memory cards or laser-etched on NanoFiche – a 21st-century update on film-based microfiche – in preparation for the missions that will ferry the material to the lunar surface.

Samuel Peralta, a semi-retired physicist and art collector from Canada who is leading the effort, describes the off-world archive as a message in a bottle to future generations to remind them that war, pandemics and economic crises did not stop people creating works of beauty.

Gathered from 30,000 artists, writers, film-makers and musicians from 157 countries, the images, objects, magazines, books, podcasts, movies and music are being divided into four capsules….

(13) WRITTEN ON THE INTERNET WALL. Cat Eldridge offers this valedictory with “apologies to Simon & Garfunkel”.

Hello Filers, my old friends
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a Scroll softly came to be
With the work of Our Gracious Host

(14) STAY TUNED. “NASA loses contact with Voyager 2 spacecraft, operating almost 12.4 billion miles from Earth” according to CBS News.

NASA lost contact with its Voyager 2 spacecraft and it’s possible that communications won’t resume until mid-October, the space agency said Friday. 

Voyager 2, located nearly 12.4 billion miles from Earth, is currently unable to send data back to Earth or receive commands. Contact was disrupted when a series of planned commands on July 21 accidentally caused the antenna to point 2 degrees away from Earth. 

A scheduled orientation reset is programmed for Oct. 15. NASA said it believes the orientation reset, which is designed to keep Voyager 2’s antenna pointed at Earth, should allow communication to resume. NASA believes the spacecraft will stay on its planned trajectory from now until Oct. 15. 

Voyager 2 and Voyager 1 were launched in 1977. Voyager 1, which continues to operate normally, is located almost 15 billion miles from Earth. The spacecraft were designed to find and study the edge of our solar system….

(15) SETTLEMENT REACHED. “Family of Henrietta Lacks settles lawsuit against Thermo Fisher, a biotech company that used her cells without consent” reports the AP.

More than 70 years after doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital took Henrietta Lacks’ cervical cells without her knowledge, a lawyer for her descendants said they have reached a settlement with a biotechnology company that they accused of reaping billions of dollars from a racist medical system.

Tissue taken from the Black woman’s tumor before she died of cervical cancer became the first human cells to continuously grow and reproduce in lab dishes. HeLa cells went on to become a cornerstone of modern medicine, enabling countless scientific and medical innovations, including the development of the polio vaccine, genetic mapping and even COVID-19 vaccines.

Despite that incalculable impact, the Lacks family had never been compensated….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. From It’s History, “Weekly Tales of American Urban Decay as presented by your host Ryan Socash” – “Chicago’s Forgotten Moving Sidewalk over Lake Michigan”. Daniel Dern wonders, “Did this (help) inspire Heinlein’s ‘The Roads Must Roll’?”

Today we delve into the fascinating history of Chicago’s Lost Moving Walkway from the World’s Fair. Join us as we uncover the remnants of this forgotten marvel of engineering that once mesmerized visitors during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Discover the incredible technological advancements of the time and the grandeur of this forgotten transportation system

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Steven French, Eric Franklin, Steven H Silver, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Review: Folkmanis Mini Collared Lizard Finger Puppet

By Cat Eldridge: Over at Green Man, we’ve been reviewing Folkmanis puppets since, oh, before this millennium was born. So I asked Mike if he was interested in running these reviews first and he said yes.  So this is how this review came to be.

First let’s start off with a look briefly at Folkmanis. The company was over forty years by a couple whose last name we, no surprise, Folkmanis. As their site said it was , “Conceived as a ‘cottage industry’ business in Watertown, MA., in the late 1960’s and nurtured among the street vendors lining Berkeley’s famed Telegraph Avenue, Folkmanis® Puppets are the expression of Judy Folkmanis’ active imagination, sewing wizardry, and love of nature.”

If you watched closely, you’d have spotted them in The Last Mimzy as decoration in the child’s room, Lawnmower Man as the Bee Puppet, the Peacock in 30 Rock and NCIS as Bert the Farting Hippo.

Forty years on, they’ve done some two hundred puppets and Green Man has reviewed over twenty a lot of them as the same publicist has been there the entire time. 

Now let’s about talk the ever cute Mini Collared Lizard finger puppet. First thing you should know is it’s truly a life-size lizard at fourteen inches from his head to the end of his quite long tail.  I’ve reviewed a number of Folkmanis creatures such as The Mouse with Cheese and have two wonderful Autumnal creatures, The Mouse in A Pumpkin and The Worm in Apple but this is first one that looks like it’s intended to be life-like.

The Folkmanis site describes it as having “realistic detail while still being cute, soft and cuddly, this stuffed animal toy puppet is a delight for any reptile fan.”  The puppet is realistic as far as the design goes and the colors as you’ll see from the image here of an actual  Collared Lizard are very realistic.  I was really surprised. 

So the puppet itself is a perfect hand puppet which even fits on my hand though admittedly it’d fit much better on a child’s much smaller hand. It has a movable mouth but my fingers are just too large to manipulate it properly. 

I am keeping it as it is far too cute not too. 

As I said, we’ve reviewed a lot of Folkmanis and I’ve seen the designs of their products as they came through here to be distributed to reviewers. The hair is substantially better now than it was twenty years ago, the dyes look better and the faces are a less cartoonish. The face of this Collared Lizard looks like the image above.

So if you like puppets, I’d strongly recommend it; if you’ve got grandchildren that like such things, oh do gift them with this.

Cat Eldridge Review: “All You Zombies—”

Robert Heinlein’s ‘All You Zombies—‘ on Escape Pod

Review by Cat Eldridge: In a scant fourteen minutes, Heinlein creates the most perfect time travel story of all time and lays the foundation for World as Myth novels that were written much later than this, which was written in Heinlein in 1958. He has been quoted as saying he wrote it in one day, not surprising given the speed with which the tale is told.

But first some words about narrators, audio quality and why older audio isn’t always better than newer audio. You can purchase this story as part of The Fantasies of Robert Heinlein which Tor Books did some fifteen years ago.

The collection is quite wonderful and well worth reading but the audiobook version of this collection is just plain awful — a tinny sound combined with a truly boring narrator who sounds like he’s sleepwalking through the fourteen minutes. Avoid at all costs. So what should you listen to instead? Well that’s where a neat podcast called EscapePod comes in.

Steve Eley narrates the story and does a superb job of doing so. There’s only two different voices needed for all practical purposes and he makes them sound like people you’d know from their voices if you met them. And the production is spot on.

Now about this story. Essentially it’s a tale of sexual genders switched (literally) over and over again. All of which are… Oh never mind. Look I can’t really tell you much about the tale as that’d spoil your enjoying this really clever tale in which not a word is wasted, not a story aspect is not wrapped up perfectly.

If you’ve read the later World as Myth novels such as The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, you’ll see where Heinlein first thought of those ideas including the name of the time travelling force that’s central to the World as Myth novels. Indeed I suspect that this story was what led him to write those later, specifically Stranger in A Strange LandThe Number of The BeastThe Cat Who Walks Through Walls, and To Sail Beyond The Sunset. To a lesser extent, these ideas show up elsewhere as well.

So go here for the location of this story and do check their other spoken story productions. You won’t be at all disappointed!

(EscapePod, July 2, 2009)

Kill Kat Evil Wafers Vinyl Figure

By Cat Eldridge: Ok, I like Kit Kats though some of the Kit Kat flavors admittedly should have never happened such as the Kumamon Ikinari Dango Kit Kat red bean paste. Really should never have happened, so one friend who tasted it told me in a graphic detail. 

Dead Zebra, the company that makes this delectable and now really really expensive sought-after “treat”, says of their parody candy figures —

Are sugary treats killing us? Kill Kat is certainly trying! These evil wafers are determined to cause some damage. Andrew Bell’s original sculpture is back in vinyl figure form! This sweet and psycho conjoined candy stands 6” tall and comes in a candy wrapper style package.

The packing is a definite homage to the Kit Kat bar and is accurate to the design of the ubiquitous candy bar though it is oversized with the characters being six inches tall.

There are a number of variants available, chase variants as they’re called in the trade – see images of them all at the link. Two are called Evil Wafers in Demonic Possession which is a one in ten variant that “harbor a dark secret… a ‘dark’ chase edition with glow in the dark eyes!” and another is Poison Pumpkin Spice which is described as “It’s Pumpkin Spice season… which also happens to be Poison season, who knew? Rally your seasonal fall craving for artificial flavors, but be aware of the consequences! Warning: May cause basic tendencies.”

It was reasonably priced at forty dollars on the site though the only way to get the variants now is on eBay where they’ll will cost you really, really dearly now running at least two hundred and fifty dollars. Me, I’m not that keen to get them though they are cool.