(1) HOUSE OF THE DRAGON ACTOR RECEIVES RACIAL ABUSE. “Steve Toussaint reveals racist abuse after being cast in House of the Dragon” – the Guardian has the story.
Steve Toussaint has revealed he received racist abuse online after he was cast as Corlys Velaryon in the upcoming Game Of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon.
The 57-year-old British actor has previously starred in Doctor Who, Line of Duty and Death in Paradise.
Speaking to the Radio Times about his lead role in the highly anticipated HBO series, Toussaint said: “When they announced [my casting], one of the first things I saw on social media was a drawing of the character [from the books] next to a picture of me.
“And then there was the racist abuse that came with that.”
In the books by George RR Martin on which the series is based, the Velaryons are described as having white skin, ghostly pale hair and purple eyes. However, in the new series the clan are reimagined as black nobles with long silver dreadlocks.
Reflecting on the backlash from fans of the series of books, Toussaint continued: “I kind of thought: ‘Oh, I get it’. When we were criminals and pirates and slaves in the other show, you were OK with that.
“But as this guy is the richest [character] in the show and he’s a nobleman, now you have a problem with it.
“In House Of The Dragon [our colour] is just a given – I quite like that.”
Despite the risk that acknowledging the backlash could give it greater prominence, Toussaint said he thought it was important to address it….
(2) EVERYBODY LOOK, WHAT’S GOING DOWN. Jay Blanc saw that someone in a Baen’s Bar forum is once more writing the kind of things that led Jason Sanford last year to do a report about the forum being used to advocate political violence.
(3) SOCIAL MEDIA LIGHTNING STRIKES. IN A GOOD WAY. The Guardian profiles a 26-year-old author who got a six figure advance for her YA fantasy debut after it took off on TikTok: “More zeros than I’ve seen in my life’: the author who got a six-figure deal via ‘BookTok’”.
Having finally published her first novel, Alex Aster was feeling disheartened. The book had tanked during the pandemic and she had been dropped by her literary agent. Then, on 13 March 2021, she decided to take to TikTok, asking her followers if they would: “read a book about a cursed island that only appears once every 100 years to host a game that gives the six rulers of the realm a chance to break their curses.” One of the rulers must die, the short video revealed, “even as love complicates everything” for the heroine, Isla Crown.
Aster didn’t expect much, especially when she checked in a few hours later to see that her post had only clocked up about 1,000 views. Maybe the books world was right, she thought. Maybe there wasn’t a market for Lightlark, a young adult story she had been writing and rewriting for years, to no interest from publishers. The next day, however, she woke up to see her video had been viewed more than a million times. A week later, Lightlark had gone to auction and she had a six-figure deal with Amulet Books. Last month, Universal preemptively bought the film rights for, in her words, “more zeros than I’ve seen in my life”….
(4) WHEN BOOK LOVERS GET TOGETHER. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] ln the Guardian, Sarah Shaffi wonders about the future of literary festivals after Covid: “Are literary festivals doomed? Why book events need to change”. A lot of this applies to cons as well.
…Lizzie Curle, festival director at Capital Crime, which will be held in September, said festivals were “dealing with the psychological impact” of coronavirus, and people’s nervousness around the illness. To mitigate this, Capital Crime will be moving from its previous venue of the Grand Connaught Rooms in London to “fully aerated” tents in Battersea Park. Although the pandemic meant Capital Crime had to take two years off from an in-person event after its inaugural festival in 2019, Curle said the crisis “forced independent businesses like Capital Crime to get creative”.
Leah Varnell, managing director at Ways With Words in Dartington in Devon, said that “audience numbers were low across all events” at this year’s festival, something she has put down to the cost of living crisis.
“The mood music seemed that ‘leisure’ activities had to be jettisoned due to the already felt increased cost of fuel/food,” she said, “and there was a palpable anxiety about how much more expensive life may yet become and for how long the cost of living pressures would be felt.”…
(5) THE FUTURE IS MODULAR. Cora Buhlert’s latest article for Galactic Journey is about the rise of the shipping container, which is just taking off in 1967: “[August 16, 1967] Boxes, Big Steel Boxes: The Rise of the Shipping Container”.
… The first of the 226 containers on board was unloaded without a hitch. However, disaster struck when the second container, a refrigerated unit called a “reefer container”, carrying frozen chicken legs from Virginia, slipped from the hook of the on-board cargo crane of the Fairland and crashed down onto the driver’s cab of a brand-new truck waiting below. Thankfully, the driver was not seriously injured. The container survived the fall as well, as did the chicken legs, though the truck did not….
(6) WOLFGANG PETERSEN (1941-2022). Noted director Wolfgang Petersen died August 16 at the age of 81. While known for such films as The Perfect Storm, Air Force One and Das Boot, he also directed genre films The NeverEnding Story (1984), Enemy Mine (1985), and (dare we count?) Troy (2004).
(7) MEMORY LANE.
2011 – [By Cat Eldridge.] He-Man is a toy franchise, and yes, I’m approaching it that way, with a complicated history. It started twenty years ago on this date and ended on January 10, 2004. It wasn’t a particularly successful series lasting but two seasons and thirty-nine episodes.
So why did I emphasis the toy aspect? Because it was produced to coincide with Mattel’s revival of the Masters of the Universe toy franchise eleven years after a previous attempt, which failed quite spectacularly.
So the look and feel emulates the toy line. I’m not an expert on He-Man mythos, so I have drafted one in the guise of Cora Buhlert, who will give her extensive thoughts in a minute.
Video wise as I said, it’s been complicated. There’s been two films and seven series. That’s doesn’t include He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special. Seriously He-Man learns the means of Christmas.
Now let’s have Cora’s rather great review of this. But first she says that you, courtesy of Mattel, can legally watch it. The three-part pilot is up, and they are dropping a new episode she says every Tuesday. The playlist is here: “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002) | Season 1 Episode 1 | The Beginning, Part 1”.
Now for her review.
Cora Buhlert: IMO, it was a very good update of the early 1980s Filmation show. It had more internal continuity than the 1980s show and fleshed out the worldbuilding. Both Prince Adam and Teela were a bit younger in the 2002 show, sixteen as compared to eighteen/nineteen in the Filmation show, and also brattier, but then they are teenagers. This contrasts with the fact that the 2002 show was quite a bit darker and villains like Skeletor or King Hiss were genuinely nasty. Skeletor tortures King Randor and Man-at-Arms, throws a vial of acid in Randor’s face (which backfires) and tries to throw both Prince Adam and Randor into a bottomless abyss. King Hiss, leader of the Snake Men, eats people.
The 2002 show also gave the supporting characters both good and bad more to do and gave characters like Stinkor (who had never appeared in the original show) or Two-Bad an origin story. And the Snake Men, main antagonists of season 2, had never appeared in the Filmation cartoon at all, because they were introduced after the show ended. The 2002 show also popularized what is now the accepted origin story of Skeletor, namely that he once was Keldor, a blue humanoid and King Randor’s estranged half-brother. He gained his skull face, when he tried to throw a vial of acid into Randor’s face, only for Randor to deflect it and Keldor/Skeletor managing to burn off his own face instead. The character of King Grayskull, He-Man’s heroic ancestor who built Castle Grayskull, originates here. He most recently showed up in Masters of the Universe: Revelation, infuriating the usual suspects because he was portrayed as black in the later show. The man bun Man-at-Arms wears in Masters of the Universe: Revelation (the 2021 Netflix show) also originates here as does the fact (which shows up in my photo stories a lot) that Man-at-Arms and Fisto are brothers. Plus, the 2002 show has the best version of King Randor.
Oddly enough, the 2002 show was more closely tied to the toys Mattel was trying to sell than the 1980s show. Because while the toys would occasionally show up in the Filmation show, they often did whatever they pleased without paying any attention to the toyline. Meanwhile, in the 2002 show, you have a few episodes where the writers obviously tried to shoehorn in some toy Mattel was trying to sell, even though it doesn’t really fit the story, e.g. a touching flashback episode about the events that led to Teela’s birth is interrupted by a random fight with slime zombies.
Things I don’t like: Some of the fight scenes are too stylized – basically people jump into the air and twirl their weapons a lot. Cringer/Battlecat doesn’t talk in this one, whereas I prefer Cringer to talk. Queen Marlena who is a formidable woman in the 1980s show gets very little to do here. Count Marzo, a secondary antagonist from the 1980s show, unfortunately looks like an anti-semitic caricature in his non-powered form, which shocked me in a show made in the 21st century. And I’ll never accept that Fisto is Teela’s biological father, sorry.
(See Cora’s latest Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre photo story “The Mystery of He-Man’s Long-Lost Twin Sister” at the link.)
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born August 16, 1884 — Hugo Gernsback. Publisher of the first SF magazine, Amazing Stories in 1926. He also helped create fandom through the Science Fiction League. Pittcon voted him a Hugo titled Father of Magazine Science Fiction, and he was voted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. He’s the writer of the Ralph 124C 41+ novel which scholar Westfahl considers “essential text for all studies of science fiction.” There’s at least nine versions of it available at the usual suspects which is sort of odd. (Died 1967.)
- Born August 16, 1930 — Robert Culp. He’d make the Birthday Honors solely for being the lead in Outer Limits’ “Demon with a Glass Hand” which Ellison wrote specifically with him in mind. He would do two more appearances on the show, “Corpus Earthling” and “The Architects of Fear”. Around this time, he made one-offs on Get Smart! and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. before being Special FBI Agent Bill Maxwell in The Greatest American Hero. Did you know there was a Conan the Adventurer series in the Nineties in which he was King Vog in one episode? I’ve not seen it. Do we consider I Spy genre? Well we should. (Died 2010.)
- Born August 16, 1933 — Julie Newmar, 89. Catwoman in Batman. Her recent voice work includes the animated Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face, both done in the style of the Sixties show. They feature the last voice work by Adam West. Shatner btw plays Harvey Dent aka Two Face. She was on the original Trek in the “Friday’s Child” episode as Eleen. She also has one-offs on Get Smart!, Twilight Zone, Fantasy Island, Bionic Woman, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Bewitched and Monster Squad.
- Born August 16, 1934 — andrew j. offutt. I know him through his work in the Thieves’ World anthologies though I also enjoyed the Swords Against Darkness anthologies that he edited. I don’t think I’ve read any of his novels. And I’m not a Robert E. Howard fan so I’ve not read any of his Cormac mac Art or Conan novels but his short fiction is superb. His only award was a Phoenix Award which is a lifetime achievement award for a science fiction professional who had done a great deal for Southern Fandom. (Died 2013.)
- Born August 16, 1934 — Diana Wynne Jones. If there’s essential reading for her, it’d be The Tough Guide to Fantasyland which is a playful look at the genre. Then I’d toss in Deep Secret for its setting, and Fire and Hemlock for her artful merging of the Scottish ballads Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer. Now what’s the name of the exemplary short story collection she did late in life? Ahhh it was Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories with the great cover by artist Dan Craig. Yes, I bought it without opening the book solely because of the cover! (Died 2011.)
- Born August 16, 1958 — Rachael Talalay, 64. She made her directorial debut with Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, and she also worked on the first four of the Nightmare on Elm Street films. Moving from horror to SF, she directed Tank Girl next. A long time Who fan, she directed all three of Twelfth Doctor’s series finales; series 8’s “Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven”; along with series 9’s “Heaven Sent” and “Hell Bent”; before directing series 10’s “World Enough and Time” and “The Doctor Falls.” She capped her Who work with “Twice Upon a Time”, the last Twelfth Doctor story. Her latest genre undertaking is A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting.
- Born August 16, 1960 — Timothy Hutton, 62. Best known as Nathan Ford on the Leverage series which is almost genre. His first genre was in Iceman as Dr. Stanley Shephard, and he was in The Dark Half in the dual roles of Beaumont and George Stark. He’s David Wildee in The Last Mizo, based off “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” by Lewis Padgett (husband-and-wife team Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore). He was Hugh Crain in The Haunting of Hill House series. I’m going to finish off this Birthday note by singling out his most superb role as Archie Goodwin on the Nero Wolfe series.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Macanudo shows what would happen if Peter Pan visited today (though where’s Nana?)
(10) COSTUME PROMPTS POLICE HARASSMENT IN CHINA. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The Guardian has an article about a cosplayer being arrested in Suzhou, China, for wearing a kimono as part of her cosplay: “Chinese woman ‘detained for wearing Japanese kimono’”.
A Chinese woman said she was detained by police for hours and accused of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for wearing a Japanese kimono and taking photos in a city street.
The woman was wearing the kimono and a wig while cosplaying as a popular character from the manga series Summer Time Rendering. She was taking photos in Suzhou when she and her photographer were approached by a police officer, according to video filmed and shared to social media.
In the video, the woman explains she was conducting a photoshoot, but an officer tells her: “If you came here wearing Hanfu, I wouldn’t say this. But you are wearing a kimono, as a Chinese. You are a Chinese! Are you?”
Hanfu is a term for traditional Han Chinese dress. The woman asked why she was being yelled at and was told she was suspected of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, a catchall accusation used routinely by Chinese authorities against dissidents, journalists and activists.
The video cuts out shortly after she is grabbed by officers and taken away….
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Rich Horton, 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 Andrew (not Werdna).]