By Daniel Dern: “Done Patrol,” Season 4 Episode 12, and the season/series finale episode of DCUniverse/HBO/Max’s The Doom Patrol, (finally!) (as announced in File770’s September 21, 2023 scroll, Item 12: Final Doom) aired, on Thursday, November 9, 2023, letting (us) fans (“Doomies” is the term I’ve seen) breathe a bittersweet sigh or three of relief.
One, we have gotten to see all the 44 episodes, albeit the final season’s second half-dozen more than half a year later than originally scheduled, so, avoiding the potential “shelve unshown” fate of other HBO Max properties (e.g., the Batgirl movie — two days ago, I would have added the live-action/animation Coyote vs Acme, but it looks like the movie, like Wiley C., may yet survive).
(<grumbling memories of other shows with unshown or very-belatedly-elsewhere episodes, e.g. Awake and Wonderfalls, omitted>)
Two, satisfactory ending (In My Opinion, ditto a few friends). Major plot lines and character arcs have been wrapped up, and many characters were given (screen) time for closure and we had the chance to say our farewells.
Alan Brennert, a friend and fellow comics fan (and Nebula/Emmy award-winning tv, mainstream, sf and comics writer, the fan favorite Batman-marries-Catwoman story, “The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne” (included in Tales of the Batman: Alan Brennert), says “THE DOOM PATROL was, in my opinion, the best adult television adaptation — so, not including movies — of a superhero comic I’ve ever seen. It was amazingly faithful to the surrealism of Grant Morrison’s run on the series, while blending in favorite characters from the 1960s original series and giving them more sophisticated and satisfying backstories.”
In the process, the show’s also received a fair number of award nominations, including GLAAD Media Awards 2022 for Outstanding Drama Series.
It’s been a great multi-year ride, starting with an intro/cross-over in November 2019, in Season 1 Episode 4 of DC Universe’s Titans (see my scroll Scouting Ahead: The Doom Patrol – note, some links there no longer work), albeit with some characters played by different actors, and some other differences versus the DP series.
We’ve gotten to see heroes from across the various creators and plot arcs, including Crazy Jane, Flex Mentallo, Danny The Street, Steve “Mento” Dayton, and Casey “Space Case” Brinke, and often-surprising turns from the antagonist side, like the Brotherhood of Evil’s The Brain, Monsieur Mallah, and Madame Rouge, along with Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, Mr. 104, Garguax, and Mister Nobody.
We even (minor non-plot spoiler) got, unexpectedly (to me and others I’ve talked with), got a musical episode, including at least one great production number, in the Season 4’rs preantepenultimate episode, “Immortimus Patrol,” (Previous episodes have included some song/song-and-dance numbers, it’s worth noting, including a novel rendition of “Shipoopi” from The Music Man.)
(Advisory note: Doom Patrol includes lots of cussing, some sex, violence, and some scenes that may be triggering.) How/where to watch:
Online, according to JustWatch include MAX, Apple+, and Amazon Prime.
Physical media: All four seasons are now available on DVD and BluRay — if you don’t want to buy/own them, try your public library. (I see that mine currently has the first three seasons.) (Or seek out used copies.)
NO GOTTA-READ/WATCH PREREQUISITES, THANKFULLY: One of Doom Patrol’s notable virtues for new viewers is the near-zero knowledge barrier-to-entry (unlike far too many of the other Marvel and DC movies, shows and comics).
No previous familiarity with Doom Patrol comics, characters, or plotlines needed. Per-character origins and backstories get brought in over time, but you don’t have to know anything before you start watching. And while the show draws heavily on the Doom Patrol characters and plots — largely from Grant Morrison’s exquisite run, but also going back the very first issues, and post-Morrison as well, notably Gerard Way and artist Nick Derington’s Casey “Space Case” Brinke, we get their origin stories as the series progresses.
No larger-“universe” knowledge needed. The show takes place within the DC universe, but (IIRC), there’s no reference to other plots, plans, arc, or whatever, with the arguable exception of Cyborg, who was (and continues to be) linked with the (Teen) Titans and the Justice League). The closest it comes (IIRC) is the names “Superman” and “Justice League” (and possibly “Batman” and one or two other DC heroes do get mentioned a few times, but not as plot points.
Having read some or all of the Doom Patrol will help know who’s who/what a little sooner than if you come in cold…but it won’t help you know where it’s going most of the time.
THE COMICS BACKGROUND, SUMMARIZED AND SIMPLIFIED, IN CASE YOU’RE INTERESTED. For those not familiar with the Doom Patrol (from their decades of comics, and/or the TV), some briefish non-spoiler backstory.
Here’s what-started-as-brief recap/spoiler free info about the Doom Patrol, comic, Max series, etc.:
Doom Patrol began as a DC comic, first appearing in My Greatest Adventure #80 (June 1963), created by writers Arnold Drake and Bob Haney, along with artist Bruno Premiani. Perfect timing for a kid like me willing to gamble twelve cents (which was real money and a meaningful piece of my own money at that point in time). (I was a DC kid, just in time for their Silver Age, not encountering Marvel until college.)
The DP’s initial members were Professor Niles Caulder, a (in most episodes) wheelchair-confined doctor/scientist, Cliff Steele (“Robotman”), Larry Trainor (“Negative Man”) and Rita Farr (“Elasti-Woman”).
The DP debuted a few months before Marvel’s X-Men #1, dated September 1963 — another group of people with powers (here, teenagers), also led by a smart adult in a wheelchair.
Whether this was coincidence, information leakage, or deliberate, I dunno; Wikipedia speculates. Similarly, Wikipedia observes one might character-correlate the initial DP members with Marvel’s Fantastic Four’s powers of smart/strong/flying/size manipulation; this was new to me, and I again have no opinion.) (Feel free to discuss.)
In both the comics and this TV series, DP membership over time included Dorothy Spinner, Victor Stone (“Cyborg”), Casey Brinke (“Space Case”), and were often joined by great characters like Flex Mentallo and Danny The Street.
(Flex also went on to his own four-issue miniseries, written by Grant Morrison, art by Frank Quitely — I highly recommend this book! — available in book format, on Hoopla, etc.)
The Doom Patrol also appeared in a several DC animated shows, a decade or so ago, including in their own three-episode mini-series, of which I’ve recently skimmed a few.
The Doom Patrol comics have all been collected into “graphic novel” books, available at your local comic shop, and many public libraries. Library-digital-wise, Hoopla has at least a dozen volumes, and Libby.org has several (harder to suss out there). DC’s Infinite Universe (until they rename it again) service has all or nearly of the Doom Patrols, in single-issue and “omnibus” form — I’ve just (And I’ve got a bunch of collections and issues in my shelves and boxes.)
(Also be sure to look for the DC/Young Animal Milk Wars six-issue miniseries, which may not show up in searching on Doom Patrol.” Ditto the Grant Morrison/Keith Giffen (and other artists) one-shot Doom Force.)
And, earlier this year, the Doom Patrol started up again, under the series title The Unstoppable Doom Patrol. (Up to #6 as I write this.)
Thanks, MAX, for (finally) running those last six episodes.
And thank you to the show’s producer(s?), writers, actors, and the myriads of people doing costumes, sets, props, music, and digital stuff — you exceeded my expectations, and it was a wild ride.
My only remaining question: Do the BluRays include any added features making it worth doing a library-borrow?
By Daniel P. Dern: As you may or may not (more likely, may not) know, I have, over the past decade or so, written, aside from File770 scrolls and items, and other stuff, a bunch (a few dozen) stories for kids (and their adults), under the umbrella name of Dern Grim Bedtime Tales, Few Of Which End Well. They are intended to be Morally Instructive To The Listener, and Therapeutically Cathartic For the Reader (and The Writer).
“The Girl Who Never Cut Her Hair”
“The Boy Who Would Not Brush His Teeth”
“The Girl Whose Friends Did Not Want To Play With Her”
“The Boy Who Stuck His Elbow In His Ear”
“The Boy Who Didn’t Want His Food Touching Each Other”
“The Children Who Did Not Like Gilbert And Sullivan”
“The Girl Who Loved Animals, Especially Dragons”
Some include SFnal memes and themes, e.g. robots, dragons, aliens. Also, unsurprisingly (to those who know me), the occasional pun.
Most are short enough (flash length) to be read aloud (and heard) in a few minutes – some in under a minute! So I can do a reading of half a dozen pieces in ten to fifteen minutes (depending on whether I’m also doing magic tricks in the same session) — which makes them ideal for short/shared/group program items.
I’ve done readings at dozens of cons (Arisia, Boskone, WorldCons mostly) in DragonsLair (kids programming) and in main program readings, and also in some mundane places (libraries and schools). (They aren’t, mea culpa, yet available via any of the usual outlets. To say I’m interested and/but embarrassingly behind in that goes, like Milo’s car in The Phantom Tollbooth, without saying.)
Mike Glyer has graciously agreed to run my Halloween one, “The Children Who Ate All Their Halloween Candy Too Soon”, as a scroll. (I’ve done a quick update on some of the Internet/technology bits.)
THE CHILDREN WHO ATE ALL THEIR HALLOWEEN CANDY TOO SOON
There once was a boy and a girl who ate all their Halloween candy too soon.
And they had a lot.
They had carefully compared notes with their friends of all the best places to go Trick-or-Treating, and checked the lists they had kept from last year.
They used their phones to update their maps, and tag each house with what they knew, with special Halloween emojis including some they’d created. They made spreadsheets, and charts, and more maps, and then planned their routes based on what they wanted most, and which houses started being available first, and which ones went latest, and which houses tended to run out first. They added in weather and road condition feeds, and alerts from all their social media accounts.
They organized with some of their friends, and set up groups, with several kids having extra bags “for my little sister who’s sick.”
They set up lists and chats and a Discord server real-time “who’s where” maps so they could communicate as the night went on. Of course, including pictures of new or interesting houses, costumes and candy.
They made sure they had flashlights that worked, and extra batteries, plus ‘flashlight’ apps on their phones. They convinced some of their parents to give them rides, either to other areas of town, or so they could start at the right places. It was like planning for a day at Disney World, except with even more to do, and much less time – although fewer and much shorter lines.
They carefully selected costumes that they could walk quickly in, and that were easy to tell what they were, so they didn’t have to waste time explaining. They practiced walking around and up and down stairs with their costumes on, and made sure they had bags that opened easily and let stuff be dropped in. They practiced walking in groups that could go quickly along the sidewalk, and forming lines at the door that could be ‘treated’ quickly. They got one of their older siblings to pretend being an adult at a door, and practiced saying “Trick or treat!” and “Boo” and even “Thank you very much!” — because they had learned that sometimes saying “Thank you” got them extra candy from a house.
They had chosen and designed their costumes so they could wear their old backpacks, to periodically unload what they had already gotten from the bags they were holding out, so that those bags would look emptier. They got extra bags, with their names on them, to leave in the car or have one of the adults carry. And they got pouches they could carry, to quickly put in the things they didn’t want their parents to see, either because it was something they weren’t allowed to have, or because it was something they didn’t want to have to “share” with their parents. Or just because they could.
One or two kids even got extra masks and capes, so they could go back to a house that gave good stuff and pretend they were somebody else.
And so, of course, they ended up with a lot of candy.
Their parents, of course, didn’t let them keep it all. “Junk.” “Sugar.” “Junk.” “You don’t need five of these.” “Junk.” “Yuck.” “Sorry, your allergies. ” And there was a lot that they didn’t want, and even after they traded among themselves, there was still a bunch that nobody wanted.
But even after all that, they still had a lot.
But a week later — a week! — it was all gone! All the candy, that is. They still had lots of little boxes of raisins and tiny bags of pretzels and some mini-fruit roll-ups, but the candy was all gone — eaten, that is.
Somehow, the boy and the girl who had eaten all their Halloween candy had not gotten sick — or caught.
One afternoon, the day after the boy and the girl had eaten the last of their Halloween candy, the doorbell rang, and when the boy and the girl went to the door — which they were not supposed to do without an adult in the room, but their big brother was in the bathroom — they saw a small green creature.
It had scaly, slimy skin and cool waving purple tentacles all over its head, and had three eyes as big as fried eggs, and was wearing what looked like a shirt made of old DVDs and soup-can lids.
The creature held up four arms — or armlike tentacles, it was hard to tell — and said “Wuggereet!”
“What?” said the boy politely.
“Wuggereet!” repeated the creature.
“Trick-or-Treat?” said the girl.
The creature nodded, making all its tentacles wobble and the shiny disks on its clothes clatter.
The boy and the girl looked at each other. “Halloween was last week,” said the boy.
“Wuggereet!” repeated the creature.
“Wait here,” said the girl. She ran back to her room, and came back with a handful of boxes of raisins and two fruit roll-ups. “This is all we have left.”
“Zhacklaw,” said the creature. “Endee.”
“I’m sorry,” said the boy. “We don’t have any left.”
The creature shook again, set down its bags, and reached its four arm-tentacles through the shiny disks at its sides, and pulled out what looked like a ray gun, a blaster, a disintegrator, and a space disrupter, and pointed them at the boy and the girl.
“Zhacklaw,” said the creature. “Endee.”
“We don’t have any,” said the girl, who was still holding the raisins and fruit roll-ups. “This is all we’ve got.”
“Dreet!” said the creature, and pointed its weapons at the boy and the girl. “Zhacklaw!”
“I’m sorry,” the boy said. “We ate all the good stuff already.”
(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]
New articles on the Chengdu Worldcon website, but only in Chinese
There have been several news articles published on the official website since the convention ended on the 22nd, but only in Chinese. Below are extracts from a few of them, via Google Translate with minor manual edits.
This conference is a new starting point for the take-off of the science fiction industry in Chengdu, but it is not only the starting point for the take-off of the science fiction industry in Chengdu. This conference is the starting point for China’s science fiction industry to set sail from Chengdu.
The organizing committee of the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference has made the science fiction industry a major topic of the conference for the first time. At the first industrial development summit held at the conference, the “Chengdu Consensus on Science Fiction Industry” was officially released, which will allow various industries to gather a consensus to build the cornerstone of the science fiction industry.
On the first day of the World Science Fiction Convention in Chengdu on October 18, foreign customer Mr. Barkley hurried to the mobile banking car for help. He wanted to use his credit card to withdraw some cash to buy a domestic mobile phone to send emails online, but domestic credit card withdrawals required a password. Mr. Barkley had previously used his credit card abroad to make purchases or withdraw cash based on his signature, and he did not know the reserved password.
Behind the exciting exhibitions at the Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention, ICBC’s thoughtful, patient and heart-warming financial services undoubtedly provide comprehensive protection…..
The exhibition hall is also equipped with a digital RMB coffee machine. Using digital RMB, you can enjoy a steaming cup of coffee for only 1 yuan. At the same time, the Chengdu Universiade co-branded digital RMB hard wallet set exhibited by ICBC supports payment without network and electricity. Payment can be completed with just a “touch” during transactions, which left a deep impression on many domestic and foreign guests.
In order to provide all-weather, omni-channel, international financial services and facilitate services, ICBC comprehensively promotes the financial services for the Science Fiction Conference at 11 outlets in Pidu District.
Note that ICBC was one of two top tier sponsors of the Chengdu Worldcon. Also note that although the article was posted two days after the Hugo ceremony, the article makes no mention of Chris being a Hugo winner.
Zhou Tiantian, director of operations of Ximalaya, said that science fiction gives people the limits of their imagination and encourages people to find the meaning of life on a cosmic scale . As the leading audio app in China, Ximalaya is closely integrated with cutting-edge technology and has launched many science fiction, fantasy and technological contents. At present, Ximalaya has released a number of sci-fi Atmos audio dramas, including classic sci-fi IPs “The Wandering Earth Liu Cixin Collection”, “Solaris” and “Dune Overture”. Ximalaya has cooperated with Dolby Laboratories to launch a Dolby Atmos zone. Launched with [car manufacturer] NIO, it provides high-quality audiobooks in various genres such as science fiction, suspense, and children’s books. Previously, Ximalaya cooperated with Li Auto and WANOS to launch panoramic audio dramas, providing a shocking auditory experience for the in-car space.
Ximalaya is committed to empowering culture with technology and actively promotes the widespread application of AI technology in the audio industry, which is consistent with its long-term development strategy. As a beneficiary and leader of AI technology, Ximalaya is unswervingly committed to the exploration of AI technology in the audio field. Through the development of AI technology, Ximalaya can appear in users’ lives in a new way of experience, realizing rebirth in some scenarios. Ximalaya will continue to be committed to the application of AI technology in the audio field, and continue to promote innovation to meet the diverse needs of users and help Ximalaya continue to develop.
[Note: I’m not familiar with this audiobook company, but it seems that they use both the “Ximalaya” and “Himalaya” brand names; the former seems to be aimed at the domestic market, the latter internationally.]
On the morning of October 22nd, the 81st World Science Fiction Conference “Fantasy Galaxy – Annual Selection of World Science Fiction Games” award ceremony was held at the Chengdu Science Fiction Museum, where the winning works were announced. The selection event was released by the Organizing Committee of the 81st World Science Fiction Conference and sponsored by Sichuan Game Innovation and Development Center, Chengdu Science Fiction Association, and Sichuan Publishing Association Game Publishing Working Committee.
Sichuan New Media Group and other relevant leaders, as well as Canada’s “Godfather of Science Fiction” Robert Sawyer, attended the event and presented awards, as well as specially invited representatives from Google, Amazon Cloud, NetEase, Tencent, Huawei, Bilibili, and Ubisoft.
The first two winners named are by remarkable coincidence associated with sponsors of the con.
As an aside, I see that Sergey Lukyanenko is still listed as a GoH on the front page, and the “Special Guests” and “Hosts” are still showing as “UPDATING”.
Con reports: Jeremy Szal, Arthur Liu and Nicholas Whyte
I’m led through a whirlwind of events, ceremonies, meetings, interviews and conversations. I’m thrust in front of cameras, wired up with microphones, offered seats and stools. I greet friends, both new and familiar to me. My editors and handlers keep close correspondence with me, telling me where I need to be, and at what time, and how I should be dressed. I’ve done WorldCons before. I know this gig. But something here feels different. There’s a buzz, a feverishness, in the air…
And it’s nice. Never before have I felt so welcome. Never before have I truly felt at home, as a member of the science-fiction community. Diversity here isn’t spoken off. It’s acted upon. Where other conventions may attempt to gesture at diversity, as an abstract, here it is exacted. It’s presented, on an international scale. And it’s wonderful. We don’t all speak the same language. Because we share something else, something grander: a love of science-fiction and fandom.
Yao Xue from the business meeting group also invited me to propose “constitutional amendment” proposals. The F.8 proposal also caused controversy in the American science fiction circle. A group of science fiction fans attacked it on File 770. These somewhat brought back a bit of the “Worldcon” flavor of this conference, and made us decide to at least enjoy it as much as possible. I think that the science fiction fans who finally decided to attend this conference all have more or less ambivalent feelings about it…
The theme salon is divided into three application channels: (1) Questionnaire star entrance provided on the WeChat official account; (2) Organizing committee email address provided on the official website; (3) Planorama website. This caused a lot of confusion in the early days, because the contents filled out in the three channels were different and incomplete. Later, the information was completed only through the collection of volunteers. The application for a fan booth is relatively straightforward, just send an email. However, because the venue had not yet been completed, the relevant person in charge did not respond for a long time after the application was submitted, and did not start notifying people until just before the con. From August to before the conference, I had to go through this “catch up on winter and summer vacation homework” mode at almost every stage and every milestone. The intermediary organizer also repeatedly asked us to fill in forms and provide additional event materials because they needed to review the content to ensure on-site safety. For example, the panellists needed to provide speech notes, the host needed to provide speech notes, etc. In addition, they also had to provide true identity information in order to enable the organizers to be able to perform facial recognition on the guests… From these preliminary preparations, we could actually roughly guess what the scene would be like, which shows that the local government attached great importance to this matter.
Nicholas Whyte’s first post about the con covers the Doctor Who panel:
Many aspects of Chengdu Worldcon were great fun. I will write about the things I especially enjoyed: the pandas, the set-piece events, and the friends I made along the way. (I enjoyed the WSFS Business Meeting even less than usual, so I won’t write about that.)
The thing that gave me the most unexpected joy was the love for Doctor Who shown by the Chinese fans. I have to give huge credit here to Yan Ru, 晏如, an English Chinese teacher from Wuhan, who may well be the leading Doctor Who fan in China. We had made contact before the convention, and had a lot of conversations about our shared passion.
The Flatiron, the storied office building in the heart of Manhattan that has recently fallen on hard times, will be converted into luxury housing, its owners announced on Thursday.
The proposed redevelopment by the new owners is aimed at starting a second life for the Flatiron — its sole office tenant, Macmillan Publishers, departed before the pandemic — and moving past a dramatic period in which its fate seemed uncertain. In March, a little-known buyer won an auction for the building, only to disappear without paying.
The building’s future as housing began to take shape this week when the Brodsky Organization, a residential developer, bought a stake in the 22-story, triangular-shaped tower on Fifth Avenue. Brodsky will lead the conversion, carving out units — either for sale as condominiums or as rentals — from the notoriously awkward space….
…Since then I’ve learned a lot more about how race worked in that movie. But for a Black kid interested in horror, the subtext might have been a little more obvious. Jordan Peele grew up writing horror stories in his journals, and occasionally scaring his classmates with them on school trips. In 2017, after a successful sketch-comedy career, he wrote, produced, and directed Get Out, the critically acclaimed horror film. He says the movie “felt very taboo” and “un-produceable” at the time. “I don’t know if you noticed, but Get Out doesn’t have any good white people in it,” he told me. I did notice.
After Peele made that movie, and several others, he says, Black creators started telling him that they too had a horror story to tell, but they had never thought to tell it publicly. Classic horror always seemed to be speaking to white people’s fears about the menace of “the other,” made manifest as dark and sinister forces. But Black people of course saw different monsters….
Romina Garber had always been an avid reader of fantasy stories, especially Harry Potter, but something ate at her: She could never find another Latina in the stories.
“I couldn’t find someone that reflected me or represented me, and that always really bothered me,” she said.
So Garber wrote the story of a young girl who discovers she’s a lobizona, a werewolf of Argentine folklore. But when Garber began looking for literary representation for the book that would eventually be “Lobizona,” 15 years ago, no one wanted it.
Garber remembers one agent telling her that “no one cared about Argentine immigrants.” There was no American market for the title, and it’s not what people wanted to read. Garber felt her identity, not just her book, being rejected.
“He was talking about me, he wasn’t talking about my characters,” Garber said. “It really crushed me. And after that, I just realized I can’t write about myself.”
So she began writing allegorical science fiction instead, creating a world where everyone is divided up by their zodiac sign. Garber found an agent with this new concept and finished publishing the four-book series in 2017. But Garber’s mind drifted back to the first book she tried to sell about an undocumented immigrant lobizona. It felt more urgent than ever: The news was filled with stories of immigrant children being detained in cages during the Trump administration’s border crackdowns.
Now armed with an agent from her science fiction series, her book was sold to a publisher. “Lobizona,” the first in the Wolves Of No World Duology, was released in 2020. Garber regrets that she ever shelved the story in the first place. “I should never have stopped fighting.”
There have been a few standout successes for Latinx authors in the realm of speculative fiction — which includes fantasy, science fiction and dystopian stories — and many are written by women and LGBTQ+ authors. Books such as Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s “Mexican Gothic” and Aiden Thomas’ “Cemetery Boys” have been New York Times bestsellers. Moreno-Garcia’s “The Daughter of Doctor Moreau” is up for the genre’s prestigious Hugo Award.
Publishers have backed a few bright stars, but that doesn’t translate into broader support. Publishing, both the industry and the authors, are overwhelmingly White. For Latinx authors, that can mean an industry that flattens cultural nuances, tokenizing and misrepresenting the speculative worlds they are dreaming into existence….
…He pitched his idea for a Spider‑Man movie in 1999. Fincher’s version skipped the whole “bitten by a radioactive spider” part and focused on Peter Parker as a grownup. “They weren’t fucking interested,” he says with a laugh. “And I get it. They were like: ‘Why would you want to eviscerate the origin story?’ And I was like: ‘’Cos it’s dumb?’ That origin story means a lot of things to a lot of people, but I looked at it and I was like: ‘A red and blue spider?’ There’s a lot of things I can do in my life and that’s just not one of them.” The gig went to Sam Raimi….
Johnny Depp, who played Grindelwald in the first two Fantastic Beasts films, was in 2020 asked to resign from the franchise days after he lost his libel case against the Sun, which had referred to the actor as a “wife-beater” following accusations of domestic violence made against him by his ex-wife Amber Heard.
And Ezra Miller, another of the franchise’s stars, made headlines in 2022 after they were arrested multiple times; Miller eventually pleaded guilty to unlawful trespassing and revealed they were seeking treatment for “complex mental health issues”.
Yates revealed to the podcast that the franchise’s five-film plan had not initially been on the cards.
“The idea that there were going to be five [Fantastic Beasts] films was a total surprise to most of us,” he said.
“Jo just mentioned it spontaneously, at a press screening once. We were presenting some clips of FB1 [Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them]. We’d all signed up for FB1, very enthusiastically. And Jo, bless her, came on … and Jo said, ‘Oh, by the way, there’s five of them.’ And we all looked at each other because no one had told us there were going to be five. We’d sort of committed to this one. So that was the first we’d heard of it.”…
(7) A “MONSTER KID” REMEMBERS. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] Cosmic dreams (and provocative nightmares) of tantalizing journeys through time and space … infinite, conceptual exploration of the stars … alien creatures … Hammer Films … Universal Pictures … “King Kong” … Ray Harryhausen … Ray Bradbury … George Pal … Robert Bloch … Peter Cushing … Veronica Carlson … Buster Crabbe … John Agar … Frank Capra … John Williams … Miklos Rozsa … Forrest J Ackerman … and Famous “Monsters” of all shapes, sizes, and creeds, both conceived and lovingly chronicled in books, magazines, journals, tabloids, and on line for over half a century, inspired this affectionate, deeply personal, if slightly “Monstrous,” remembrance of a life in “horror” by a gray haired, unabashedly child like, Monster “Kid.” “Vertlieb’s Views: A Monster Kid Remembers” at The Thunder Child.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 27, 1926 — Takumi Shibano. Teacher, Writer, Editor, and Fan from Japan. He co-founded and edited Uchujin, Japan’s first SF magazine, in 1957. He was a major figure in the establishment of Japanese SFF fandom, and he founded and chaired four of the first six conventions in that country. In 1968 the Trans-Oceanic Fan Fund (TOFF) brought him to a Worldcon for the first time, in the U.S., where he was a Special Guest. He wrote several science fiction novels starting in 1969, but his work translating more than 60 science fiction novels into Japanese was his major contribution to speculative fiction. From 1979 on, he attended most Worldcons and served as the presenter of the Seiun Awards. He was Fan Guest of Honor at two Worldcons, in 1996 and at Nippon 2007, he was given the Big Heart Award by English-speaking fandom, and he was presented with a Special Hugo Award and a Special Seiun Award. (Died 2010.) (JJ)
Born October 27, 1940 — Patrick Woodroffe. Artist and Illustrator from England, who produced more than 90 covers for SFF books, including works by Zelazny, Heinlein, and GRRM, along with numerous interior illustrations, in the 1970s. He was also commissioned to provide speculative art for record album cover sleeves; his masterwork was The Pentateuch of the Cosmogony: The Birth and Death of a World, a joint project with the symphonic rock musician Dave Greenslade, which purported to be the first five chapters of an alien Book of Genesis, consisting of two music discs by the musician and a 47-page book of Woodroffe’s illustrations. It sold over 50,000 copies in a five-year period, and the illustrations were exhibited at the Brighton UK Worldcon in 1979. Hallelujah Anyway, a collection of his work, was published in 1984, and he was nominated for Chesley and BSFA Awards. (Died 2014.) (JJ)
Born October 27, 1943 — Les Daniels. Writer of a series concerning the vampire Don Sebastian de Villanueva. During the Seventies, he was the author of Comix: A History of Comic Books in America with illustrations by the Mad Peck — and Living in Fear: A History of Horror in the Mass Media. Later on, he’d write myriad histories of DC and Marvel Comics, both the Houses and individual characters. (Died 2011.)
Born October 27, 1948 — Bernie Wrightson. Artist and Illustrator, whose credits include dozens of comic books and fiction book covers, and more than hundred interior illustrations, as well as a number of accompanying works of short fiction. His first comic book story, “The Man Who Murdered Himself” appeared in the House of Mystery No. 179 in 1969. With writer Len Wein, he later co-created the muck creature Swamp Thing in House of Secrets No. 92. In the 70s, he spent seven years drawing approximately fifty detailed pen-and-ink illustrations to accompany an edition of Frankenstein. And in the 80s, he did a number of collaborations with Stephen King, including the comic book adaptation of that author’s horror film Creepshow. In 2012, he collaborated with Steve Niles on Frankenstein Alive, Alive! for which he won a National Cartoonists Society’s award. He was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, was honored with an Inkwell Special Recognition Award for his 45-year comics art career, and received nominations for Chesley Awards for Superior and Lifetime Artistic Achievement and for a Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Illustrated Narrative. (Died 2017.)
Born October 27, 1970 — Jonathan Stroud, 53. Writer from England who produces speculative genre literature for children and young adults. The Bartimaeus Trilogy, winner of Mythopoeic Award for Children’s Literature, is set in an alternate London, and involves a thousand-year-old djinn; Lockwood & Co. is a series involving ghost hunters in another alternative London. I’ve read a few of the latter – they’re fun, fast reads. Netflix made the latter into a series and promptly cancelled it after one season.
Born October 27, 1973 — Anthony Doerr, 50. Author four novels, two of which are genre — About Grace and Cloud Cuckoo Land. The first is straightforward, the latter is really complex storytelling. He’s won four Ohioana Awards (Literature by writers from Ohio and about Ohio), not an Award I’d heard of before now. He’s written one piece of genre fiction, “The Hunter’s Wife” which is only in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror: Fifteenth Annual Collection which means it was commissioned for there.
(9) HOOPLA COMICS KINGDOM 1-WEEK BINGE PASSES. [Item by Daniel Dern.] As I wrote in “Reading Daily Comic Strips Online” (File770.com, March 23, 2022) a lot of current and classic comic strips are available online, primarily through ComicsKingdom and GoComics, for modest annual subscription prices — and both offer free try-it access.
If you’re curious about Comics Kingdom’s offerings but don’t want to pony up a payment method just to try, Hoopla (hoopladigital.com) (access available through participating libraries) Binge Passes include a week’s access to a selection of the full site: Comics Kingdom Binge Pass.
Good Omens is reportedly looking at a Season 3 renewal by Amazon Prime Video and the BBC – but reportedly there is a catch. It’s now looking like Good Omens showrunner, director and executive producer Douglas Mackinnon will not be returning for Season 3 (likely the final season) – although lead actors Michael Sheen and David Tennant and the main cast of the show have reportedly all been locked-in to return.
Two cosmonauts conducting a spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday (Oct. 25) got an up-close view of a coolant leak that was first observed flowing from an external radiator earlier this month.
Oleg Kononenko came so close to the growing “blob” or “droplet” — as the pooling ammonia was described — that one of his tethers became contaminated, necessitating it being bagged and left outside of the space station when the spacewalk ended.
Kononenko and his fellow Expedition 70 spacewalker, Nikolai Chub, also of the Russian federal space corporation Roscosmos, began the extravehicular activity (EVA) at 1:49 p.m. EDT (1749 GMT) on Wednesday, knowing that one of their first tasks was to isolate and photo document the radiator, which was first observed leaking coolant on Oct. 9. Used as a backup to a main body radiator that regulates the temperature inside Russia’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module, Kononenko and Chub configured a number of valves to cut off the external radiator from its ammonia supply….
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Gary Farber, Steven French, Steve Vertlieb, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
By Daniel Dern: Eric Mowbray Knight’s best known character is probably Lassie (the canine), from his 1940 novel, Lassie Come-Home, which went on to begat the TV series (with a series of male dogs playing the titular female dog).
I wouldn’t have known that there had been a prior-to-TV book, nor the author’s name, except that, because I’d been pinged by Eric T Knight of the Action Fantasy Book Club, whose mailing list is one of several I’ve recently joined/subscribed to.
(I haven’t yet gotten an ack or other reply to my “are you related to EMK?” messages to him.)
The SFnal connection with Eric Mobray Knight — along with a handful of mainstream books, he (EMK) also wrote, and, was (dunno whether still is) better/best known (among some of us grey-haired fen, presumably) for his stories/books/series about Sam Small, aka The Flying Yorkshireman. I’ve read, and might have somewhere in my stacks/boxes of books, at least one, ahem, Small volume. I can more or less visualize the book (smallish hardcover) and an illustration or two.
The title is literal; Sam Small can fly. It feels like he wasn’t flying at great speeds, etc., but still. And I don’t recall there being any explanation of how it works, other than, possibly, requires some alcohol, e.g., a glass or two at Small’s local Yorkshire pub.
I’m assuming that Knight’s Sam Small and Lassie stories were in different universes (Lassie’s based in the US, anyway), or at least times, or Small could have helped rescue Timmy from those pesky wells. I don’t see Small giving Timmy a signal watch, though…
(It looks like other Sam Small stories involve non-flying magical events.)
The Amazing Adventures of The Flying Yorkshireman (Sam Small Flies Again) is available on Hoopla, Amazon, and, if I’ve sussed correctly on Archive.org. And possibly my bookshelf 🙂
According to (Jeopardy! GoaT) Ken Jennings, Lassie never had to rescue Timmy from a well.
OTOH, according to Jennings, “Timmy did manage to fall in the following (a partial list): two lakes, a gap between two railroad cars, two abandoned mines, quicksand, and a badger hole. Damn, that kid spent a lot of time falling into things.” And “the usually sure-footed collie fell into a well in the season 17 two-parter ‘For the Love of Lassie.'”
The Burglar Who Met Fredric Brown by Lawrence Block
By Daniel Dern: As a fan of both Lawrence Block and Fredric Brown (their stories and books, that is), I was intrigued and ready-to-be-excited by an announcement back in August 2022, which I saw I-don’t-remember-where and then here in File770, in Item #2, about Block’s then-upcoming novel, The Burglar Who Met Fredric Brown (which I’ll now refer to as TBWMFB), Block’s thirteenth book about bookseller/burglar (or vice versa) Bernie Rhodenbarr.
(Cavil/Quibble/Note: Thirteenth book but twelfth novel, because Block’s previous Rhodenbarr, The Burglar In Short Order, is a (highly enjoyable) collection of short stories about Bernie.)
This is intended to be a spoilers-free write-up. (If you’ve read or otherwise know the underlying gimmick — I’m not sure it qualifies as a MacGuffin — in Fredric Brown’s What Mad Universe, then you already have a non-unreasonable expectation of what happens early on, but Block takes it in a different tone and direction from Brown, and since it’s the premise, not a spoiler anyway IMHO.)
I’ll start with my opinions/recommendations, rather than leave them to the end. Arguably much of what’s after this list is snakes-hands; it’s definitely more about Lawrence Block (and why and what I recommend reading his stuff) than TBWMFB.
(1) I enjoyed The Burglar Who Met Fredric Brown. I’ve read all the previous Bernie The Burglar books, although, other than …In Short Order, probably none more recently than a decade or more ago. I’ve read lots of Lawrence Block; over half a dozen re-re-read. I’ve read a fair amount of Fredric Brown — lots of the sf stories, in the sf magazines and anthologies and collections as I grew up, some recently.
(2) If you’ve read at least a few of Block’s previous Bernie books, odds are pretty good you’ll like The Burglar Who Met Fredric Brown. This Bernie book is different from previous ones, so if it turns out to not be your cup of tea (or klava, for Steven Brust Vlad Taltos-verse fans), click here for 50% of your time back. (Not responsible for ripple-effect changes.)
(3) If you’ve read other Block but not his Burglar books (though this seems unlikely), ditto — but I suggest you read one or two of those first, to meet the characters first. The Burglar In Short Order should suffice; more won’t hurt.
(4) If you haven’t read any Block, (a) see (3) above and, (b) good news, Block’s got LOTS of great reads. My favorites include the John Keller Hit Man series (five books – note, many parts show up, particularly in e-form, as individual stories. Best read in order. Note to author: More Keller, please!); the Evan Tanner books (in particular, I commend the first, and also the currently-last Tanner On Ice, which has an sf-adjacent not-quite-a-MacGuffin a la Heinlein’s The Door Into Summer (but no cat), in particular); the Ehrengraf for the Defense collection(s?); his other story collections; and his non-fiction collections (his stamp collector columns, and The Crime of Our Lives (essays and anecdotes). (I’m also fond of A Random Walk, which is perhaps arguably sf or adjacentish.)
There are many reasons to enjoy and savor reading Block. The characters, perfect-timing zinger endings, the New York City bits, and the prose itself, including, like Donald Westlake, drop-in bits that may or may not serve the movement or character, but are simply delightful. (The Westlake one that comes to mind is from one of his Dortmunder stories, inventorying the passengers in a goonmobile, including “stately, plump Buck Mulligan.” (Also used, with more context, in Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely’s superb All-Star Superman run.)
Ed Gorman nailed it, in his introduction to the Hard Case edition of Block’s Borderline (although it feels like I read it in some other essay/intro collection: “A long time ago I said that Lawrence Block writes the best sentences in the business. I don’t see any reason to change my mind.” (Possibly I’d read Gorman’s original remark. I’d thought it was said by Stephen King, but the web says it was Ed Gorman; who am I to disagree?) Some of my favorite places are from Block’s John Keller stories; somehow, for example, the beginning of Keller’s Designated Hitter. I can’t explain it, but I know when I’m enjoying prose as it goes.
(4) If you haven’t (yet) read any Fredric Brown, tsk! but that’s not an impediment to reading The Burglar Who Met Fredric Brown. (I subsequently reread Brown’s What Mad Universe, and stand by my opinion.)
Where to get TBWMFG:
I read the paperback, courtesy of my library (also available as an e-book), a belated several months ago. (My fault, I’d gronked my initial library reservation.) So I’m very belatedly getting back to this write-up.)
For serious fans/collectors; Subterranean Press is doing a deluxe signed-and-limited hardcover, scheduled for release October 1, 2023. I can’t see (from listings) whether there are any “extras.” (Note, many of Block’s e-book versions include essays, bio info, photos, etc. — worth checking out via HooplaDigital or Libby library borrows!)
And there’s an audiobook, available through various sources.
This is probably as good a place as any to mention some places to get your Fredric Brown. NESFA Press has two Brown collections (in paper and/or e-book): From These Ashes: The Complete Short SF of Fredric Brown, and Martians and Madness: The Complete SF Novels of Fredric Brown. E-library-wise, Hoopla, Libby, and OverDrive (which has been replaced by Libby, but this search may burp up different results than Libby’s).
Plus there are numerous non-SF reprints/collections, from various publishers, many in your library’s physical stacks, bookstores, and your friends’ shelves.
CLEARING THROAT AGAIN. Before I launch into talking about The Burglar Who Met Fredric Brown one more note (for now), and one disclaimer:
Bernie Rhodenbarr doesn’t actually meet Fredric Brown in TBWMFB. (To be fair, while none of the previous titles make similar “met” claims, Bernie doesn’t meet any of the other title-name-dropped people.)
This write-up isn’t really a review, by my definition. (In case you haven’t yet figured that out from the title or the text so far.)
BLOCK AND/OR SF: Unlike Fredric Brown, who wrote a fair amount of SF alongside a lot of crime/mystery/detective stuff, Lawrence Block, like Donald Westlake, John D. MacDonald, and others, has only a few excursions into or dalliances with sf.
(I don’t consider Tanner On Ice to be sf in any way, and I’m not sure how to categorize A Random Walk, but IMHO it’s not genre sf. That doesn’t stop me from periodically re-reading either of these books, but it makes me mildly curious where my town’s library — which has separate-from-general-fiction zones for mystery/crime, sf/fantasy, and romance — would file it.)
Conveniently, Janet Rudolph got deets straight from the author’s mouth (or email, in her interview cited in Item #2 of File770’s August 23, 2023 scroll, her “An ‘Impertinent’ Interview with Lawrence Block” at Mystery Fanfare. Talking with Block about TBWMFB:
You ever write any SF?
I had a story in a magazine, Science Fiction Stories, in 1959, and it was chosen for Judith Merril’s best-of-the-year collection. And in 1984 Fantasy & Science Fiction ran “The Boy Who Disappeared Clouds.”
But there’s no doubting that (like Stephen King), Block knows and enjoys sf. Here’s Block’s post about Fredric Brown.
Where Brown’s What Mad Universe is a mix of grim plot and cultural satire, TBWMFB is (give or take Bernie The Burglar’s inevitable caper-turning-into-having-to-solve-a-murder-he’s-blamed-for) a romp, where characters and author are clearly having fun. And, hopefully, so will you.
IN SCROLLS TO COME: Block, and Westlake, both have non-fiction collections of various articles, essays, book introductions, correspondence, etc. (including some about each other, they worked in the Scott Meredith Agency contemporaneously or near, and were good friends. I’m brooding about a post on these books; they’re informative, engaging, and entertaining — and it’s interesting to hear them speaking directly, as themselves, rather than through a narrator or character.
(1) RIP MICHAEL TOMAN. South Pasadena librarian Michael Toman, who decided to become one of the rare people who pitch in every day with ideas for the Scroll, died earlier this week. How he will be missed! He was found dead at home on Saturday by a friend, writer William F. Wu, who checked after people hadn’t heard from him for days. Wu and Toman have been friends since they met in 1974 while Wu was attending Clarion at Michigan State, and Toman was visiting after having attended the year before.
I appreciated the pipeline he had to Clarion workshop news — and it turns out that his fellow Clarion ’73 alums included another frequent contributor here, Daniel Dern, as well as authors Alan Brennert, Darryl Schweitzer Jeff Duntemann and Stuart Stinson, among others.
(2) HOW TO GET WESTIN HVP COLLECTION. Best Fan Writer Hugo finalists Örjan Westin has made available online their collected 2022 Micro SF/F stories which appear in the Hugo Voter Packet.
Right. I write stories that are short enough to fit a tweet (up to 280 characters), and I post them to Twitter and other social media platforms under the moniker MicroSFF. There is no set schedule, nor, usually, much deliberation; I get an idea, I write a thing, I post it.
A tight-knit community of young-adult writers who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has yielded smashes like “Twilight.” But religious doctrine can clash with creative freedoms.
Daniel P. Dern briefly notes: “The list includes not just Orson Scott Card (as I expected) but also several major, major authors who I hadn’t realized were Mormons.”
…In the late 1990s, at least a decade before Amazon’s e-reader first came on to the market in 2007, the author and humorist made a series of notes uncannily predicting the rise of electronic books.
But Adams, who died in 2001, did not live to see his musings, spread over three A4 pages, become reality. He wrote: “Lots of resistance to the idea of ebooks from the public. Particularly all those people who 10 years ago said they couldn’t see any point typing on a computer.
“I believe this resistance will gradually disappear as the electronic book itself improves and becomes smaller, lighter, simpler, cheaper, in other words more like a book.”
Doctor Who, The Traitors and BBC One all took home trophies at this year’s Edinburgh TV Festival Awards….
In the only award voted for by the public, the scene in Doctor Who that saw Jodie Whittaker regenerate into David Tennant – from the episode The Power of the Doctor – was crowned TV Moment of the Year….
(5) THEY KEPT WATCHING THE SKIES. An amazing overview of how different cultures drew constellations. “Figures in the Sky” at Visual Cinnamon.
… Let’s compare 28 different “sky cultures” to see differences and similarities in the shapes they’ve seen in the night sky. Ranging from the so-called “Modern” or Western constellations, to Chinese, Maori and even a few shapes from historical cultures such as the Aztecs.
Take the star Betelgeuse. This red supergiant is one of the brightest stars in the night sky. In proper darkness, you can even see that it shines in a distinctly red color. It’s part of one of the easiest to distinguish modern constellations known as Orion, named after a gigantic, supernaturally strong hunter from Greek mythology.
The visualization below shows how Betelgeuse has been used by 17 cultures (out of the 28) to form constellations, each represented by a different color. …
Marilyn Lovell, whose stoic comportment during the touch-and-go Apollo 13 flight accident gave the world hope that all would turn out well, died on August 27 in Lake Forest, Illinois, at 93. Her husband of 71 years, Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell, was at her side.
Her husband named a small mountain on the moon Mount Marilyn in her honor during his Apollo 8 moon flight in 1968.
Marilyn Lillie Lovell was born on July 11, 1930, in Milwaukee, WI. She was the youngest of five children. She graduated from Milwaukee’s Juneau High School, where she met her future husband, James A Lovell, Jr.
…In the Apollo 13 film, Tom Hanks played Capt. Lovell. Kathleen Quinlan played Mrs. Lovell and was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar. Marilyn Lovell was later a part of several Apollo 13 documentaries….
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 3, 1810 — Theodor von Holst. He was the first artist to illustrate Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus in 1831. The interior illustrations consist of a frontispiece shown here, title page and engraved illustrations. To my knowledge, this is his only genre work. (Died 1844.)
Born September 3, 1934 — Les Martin, 89. One of those media tie-in writers that I find fascinating. He’s written the vast majority of the X-Files Young Readers series, plus a trio of novels in the X-Files Young Adult series. He’s also written two Indiana Jones YA novels, and novelizations of Blade Runner and The Shadow.
Born September 3, 1943 — Mick Farren. Punk musician who was the singer with the proto-punk band the Deviants. He also wrote lyrics for Hawkwind. (Can we consider them genre?) His most well-known genre work was the The Renquist Quartet about an immortal vampire. The Renquist Quartet is available at the usual suspects. Not at all genre, he wrote The Black Leather Jacket which details the history of the that jacket over a seventy-year span up to the mid-eighties, taking in all aspects of its cultural, political and social impact. (Died 2013.)
Born September 3, 1954 — Stephen Gregg. Editor and publisher of Eternity Science Fiction which ran from 1972 to 1975 and again for a year starting in 1979. It had early work by Glen Cook, Ed Bryant, Barry N Malzberg, Andrew J Offutt and Roger Zelazny. (Died 2005.)
Born September 3, 1969 — John Picacio, 54. Illustrator who in 2005 won both the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist and the Chesley Award for Best Paperback Cover for James Tiptree Jr.’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. He’s also won eight other Chesley Awards. He was the winner of the Best Professional Artist Hugo in 2012, 2013, and 2020. And I’m very fond of this cover that he did for A Canticle for Leibowitz which was published by Eos seventeen years ago.
Born September 3, 1971 — D. Harlan Wilson, 52. Author of Modern Masters of Science Fiction: J.G. Ballard, Cultographies: They Live (a study of John Carpenter) and Technologized Desire: Selfhood & the Body in Postcapitalist Science Fiction. No, I’ve no idea what the last book is about. And I’m absolutely sure that I don’t want to.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro once again lives up to its name with this visit to a specialized museum.
Eek! shows a set of superhero costumes that didn’t make the cut.
(9) NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO, THERE YOU ARE. More information from Buckaroo Banzai fandom. Yesterday we ran the link to World Watch One August 2023, which includes interviews with Carl Lumbly, Dr. Damon Hines, and Billy Vera. The group that publishes the online magazine also has a Facebook page. And they host a Buckaroo Banzi FAQ website as well.
…Sarah: I find the colors of the cover and the painting so freaky, and I could not tell you why. They just caused this weird, low-level hum that’s really just full of dread in my heart.
Amory: But for Sarah, a self-proclaimed “gloom” and “fancier of […] magics both macabre and melancholy” as her blog proclaims… a painting that can induce a low level hum of DREAD in your heart? That’s a pretty exciting thing! Sarah wanted to include this piece in her forthcoming book, “The Art of Fantasy.” But…
Sarah: I couldn’t even remember what it was from….
(11) A BRIDGE NOT TOO FAR. [Item by Brick Barrientos.] It’s not speculative fiction related but really worth reading. Like the Wrinkle in Time artwork story it’s a great detective story of why a pedestrian bridge was built in the Twin Cities. “The Mystery of the Bloomfield Bridge” at TylerVigen.com
This pedestrian bridge crosses I-494 just west of the Minneapolis Airport. It connects Bloomington to Richfield. I drive under it often and I wondered: why is it there? It’s not in an area that is particularly walkable, and it doesn’t connect any establishments that obviously need to be connected. So why was it built?
I often have curious thoughts like this, but I dismiss most of them because if I answered all of them I would get nothing else done. But one day I was walking out of a Taco Bell and found myself at the base of the bridge….
Since NECA announced they were picking up the Universal Monsters characters in their 7″ action figure line, I have been anticipating one in particular. While I’m a huge fan of the entire stable of characters, having spent my childhood watching them every Saturday afternoon on Sir Graves Ghastly, there was one that has always been at the top of the pack – the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
It isn’t because this was the best film they produced. Frankenstein was far superior, and Dracula was a better overall movie as well. But CFTBL had something they did not – one of the top three best ‘man in a rubber suit’ creature designs of all time.
The suit was designed by Milicent Patrick, an animator for Disney who also created the terrific Metaluna Mutant and Moleman. She was fired from her role as a designer by Bud Westmore after the Creature started to gain notoriety, because he had taken sole credit for the Creature design and wanted to keep it that way.
As is the norm with this series, I assmue there is both a color and black and white version. I’m looking at the color tonight, as I’ve usually (though not exclusively) stuck with the color versions. I also haven’t seen the black and white yet anywhere. There was also a Glow in the Dark release, put out as a SDCC exclusive.
Expect to pay around $38, depending on the retailer….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Brick Barrientos, Daniel Dern, Dan Berger, Steven French, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]
By Daniel Dern: According to an article I read in today’s paper, some series and movies and books will do their best to cope with reduced budgets. Here’s an advance — and still tentative — partial list:
(1) THIRD SELF-PUBLISHED SCIENCE FICTION COMPETITION OPENS TODAY. Hugh Howey’s third annual Self-Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC) is now taking submissions. Are you an indie science fiction writer looking for a wider audience? Check the guidelines here. Submit here.
(2) CHIANG AND BENDER IN CONVERSATION. UW Professor of Linguistics Emily M. Bender talks with award-winning science fiction author Ted Chiang about the nature of creativity and the role of the author amid rising concerns about AI-generated storytelling. Moderated by Jeopardy! champion and Phinney Books owner Tom Nissley. November 10, 2023 at 7:30 p.m.
This event is a fundraiser for Clarion West. VIP tickets and meet-and-greet reception go on sale on Monday, August 7.
…If you read here regularly, you’ll know that I’ve written a lot of posts about the impersonation scams that are becoming increasingly common. Well, an enterprising scammer recently decided to turn the tables…by impersonating me…
The [email protected] email address, of course, is bogus, and the scammer has added “literary agent” to my resume (which I am not, even though people sometimes mistakenly believe I am). And for added authenticity, a photo of me! Swiped from my personal Facebook page. (I’m sure the scammer would have preferred something unflattering, but I rarely post photos of myself–this post should make it clear why–so they didn’t have a lot to choose from.)
Obviously I would not want anyone to be defrauded in my name, so I enlisted a couple of the writers to write back to see what would happen. After a week with no replies, it seemed pretty clear that–as I’d half-suspected, especially given the stupidity of the fake email address –the email was a trolling attempt and not a bona fide scheme to scam.
Trolling doesn’t deliver the emotional satisfaction the troll craves unless the trollee knows they’re being trolled, though. And the scammer did want me to know….
(5) OLD BRIDGE (NJ) PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE FICTION DISCUSSION GROUP DISBANDING. Evelyn Leeper told MT Void readers today:
After twenty years of meeting, the Old Bridge Public Library science fiction discussion group is disbanding. Given that the last few meetings have been only three or four people, that sounds a bit more dramatic than it really is. Our final book was THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (Saga Press, ISBN 978-1-534-43100-3) and all three of us disliked it, so we have referred to this as THIS IS HOW YOU KILL THE DISCUSSION GROUP. The book swept all the major awards for novellas, so we are clearly in some sort of minority here.
But it was not really the book that killed the group, but the gradual drifting away of members. We tried both Zooming and in-person meetings. but though we had weathered the pandemic, the return to other opportunities for socializing et al made it harder to get people to attend….
…The creators of Back to the Future: The Musical weren’t taking any chances.
The production, newly arrived on Broadway after a London engagement that snagged a 2022 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, begins with the stirring main theme of the 1985 film’s score, garnering loud cheers from the audience. The book, with some minor exceptions, recreates the screenplay beat for beat and in some cases line for line. And the performances hew closely to those of the movie’s lead actors, with Hugh Coles, playing Marty McFly’s father George, imitating Crispin Glover so closely that it’s hard to tell whether it’s tribute or appropriation.
None of this is surprising, considering that original co-screenwriter Bob Gale has written the musical’s book and original composer Alan Silvestri, in collaboration with Glen Ballard (Ghost, Jagged Little Pill), its score. What is surprising is how effective and damn fun it all is.
(7) REFERENCE DIRECTOR. Daniel Dern’s Scroll title, inspired by the musical Star Trek episode, he would like to remind everyone, is a reference to “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” from Kiss Me, Kate — which, by coincidence, came from a Cole Porter musical as did the song that kicked off the musical episode.
…Hired as a clerk in 1931 at what was then Harper & Brothers (later Harper & Row, now HarperCollins), Nordstrom became an assistant in the department of books for boys and girls five years later. In 1954, she became the first woman elected to the Harper board of directors, and its first female vice president in 1960. She was referred to (and referred to herself) as the Maxwell Perkins of children’s literature. Perkins was an editor who built his career and reputation on seeking out and supporting new writers such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe. Over more than three decades, beginning in earnest in 1940, Nordstrom shepherded, chivied and gently bullied some of the greatest works of children’s literature into life. Those books included “Goodnight Moon,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Harriet the Spy,” “Little Bear,” “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Stuart Little,” “Bedtime for Frances,” “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and “Freaky Friday.”
Nordstrom’s spectacular eye for talent and many “firsts” as a mid-century career woman were not the most remarkable things about her. She believed in truth for children, even when it made adults uncomfortable. She prioritized children’s needs over reactionary parental qualms and rallied a fierce defense of realistic themes in books for young people. Her stance should be recognized, now more than ever, as a model for fighting back against censoriousness, grandstanding and patronizing of children masquerading as protecting them…
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 4, 1923 — Paul Schneider. He wrote scripts for the original Star Trek, Star Trek: The Animated Series, The Starlost, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He’s best remembered for two episodes of the Trek series: “Balance of Terror” and “The Squire of Gothos.” “Balance of Terror,” of course, introduced the Romulans. (Died 2008.)
Born August 4, 1937 — David Bedford. Composer who worked with Ursula K. Le Guin to produce and score her Rigel 9 album which the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says is ‘a work that is musically pleasant although narratively underpowered.’ I’ve not heard it, so cannot say how accurate this opinion is. The not usual suspects such as iTunes have as their Meredith Moment for just seven dollars. (Died 2011.)
Born August 4, 1944 — Richard Belzer. A long non-genre career as John Munch, for 23 years starting on Homicide: Life on the Street and then Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and related series which made him only the third actor ever to play the same character in six different prime time TV series. In the Third Rock from The Sun series as himself, also the Species II film and an adaption of Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, along with series work too in The X-Files, The Invaders, Human Target, and a recurring role in the original Flash series to name a few of his genre roles. (Died 2023.)
Born August 4, 1950 — Steve Senn, 73. Here because of his Spacebread duology, Spacebread and Born of Flame. Spacebread being a large white cat known throughout the galaxy as an adventuress and a rogue. He’s also written the comic novels, Ralph Fozbek and the Amazing Black Hole Patrol and Loonie Louie Meets the Space Fungus.
Born August 4, 1968 — Daniel Dae Kim, 55. First genre role was in the NightMan series, other roles included the Brave New World TV film, the second Fantasy Island of three series, recurring roles on Lost, Gavin Park on Angel and Lieutenant John Matheson on Crusade, the Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade series, Star Trek: Voyager, Charmed and voice work on Justice League Unlimited.
Born August 4, 1969 — Fenella Woolgar, 54. Agatha Christie in “The Unicorn and The Wasp” episode of Doctor Who, my favorite episode, where she more than capably played off against David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. Her only other genre was as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.
Born August 4, 1981 — Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, 42. Yes, she’s done a genre performance or so. To be precise, she showed up on Fringe in the first two episodes of the second season (“A New Day in the Old Town” and “Night of Desirable Objects”) as Junior FBI Agent Amy Jessup. She was also in the “First Knight” episode of Knight Rider as Annie Ortiz, and Natasha in “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Lose” on Century City, a series most of you have likely never heard of.
What do the comics, satiric magazines and newspapers in your holdings teach you? And what do they say, through your books and exhibits, to your audience?
…But I never wanted to deconstruct to the point of denying construction in the first place. In the 1970s I reveled to a popular culture symposium that invited me because of my “informed” attitudes on the comics as an art form. Yet every speech, roundtable and Q&A dealt with comics as mere conduits—“What did Dick Tracy say about crime?” Not, “What expressive dynamics did Chester Gould employ to communicate in revolutionary ways?” Arrested development. This academic myopia was maddening. The graphics community at one time was similarly dismissive, as you know as well as anyone, may I confidently say?
So even unconsciously I amassed a collection of comics, sections, clips, original art, magazine runs, bound volumes of newspapers, books, toys, postcards, posters and such … with the goal, instinctive as it actually was, to be in a position to document all this, and with a mature cultural perspective. And, no less earnestly, to help others who sought to do so….
(11) YOU ARE THERE. A day like any other day, but — Ersatz Culture says this news story involves his local library!
(12) WIMPS. [Item by Steven French.] Dark stars observed! No it’s nothing to do with the John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon movie. Astronomers have closely examined recent images produced by the James Webb Space Telescope and concluded that they reveal ancient stars powered by dark matter. “Stars powered by dark matter may have been seen by the JWST” at Physics World.
… In 2007, Freese and colleagues proposed the possibility of “dark stars”, which may have been common in the early universe. While composed mostly of hydrogen and helium, these exotic stars would be fuelled by “dark matter heating” rather than nuclear fusion. This could involve a type of dark matter called weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs). WIMPs have evaded discovery for decades in Earth-based detection experiments, but according to Freese’s team, the sheer density of dark matter in the early universe could cause them to interact far more frequently with regular matter during the formation of some of the earliest stars.
In the early universe, “WIMPs could have annihilated into photons, electron-positron pairs, and other particles, which collided with the hydrogen in collapsing clouds,” Freese explains. “These particles then get stuck inside the cloud, and deposit all the energy from the mass of the dark matter particles into the cloud. The cloud then stops collapsing, and instead turns into a ‘dark star’.”…
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The concept of the space elevator was popularized by Arthur Clarke’s Fountains of Paradise.
The idea is that a cable from the equator (Ceylon/Sri Lanka was geographically moved in Clarke’s novel) to a large satellite/small asteroid, in geosynchronous orbit, can be used to haul payload very cheaply into Earth orbit.
This concept has been further explored before by Isaac Arthur on his Science Futurism channel. Isaac has just taken this concept further by considering the advantages of a space elevator on the Moon…
A Space Elevator on the Moon, made of mundane materials, could be built with modern technology, and allow ultra-cheap freight off the Moon
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Steven French, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) SERGEY LUKYANENKO WILL BE WORKING ON THE RAILROAD. Starting tomorrow, Chengdu Worldcon GoH Sergey Lukyanenko will join a whistlestop tour of Russia “Book beacons of Russia. Reading August 2023”. The TASS publicity release says:
“Reading August” [is] a book expedition from Murmansk to Vladivostok, which will be held for the first time from August 1 to August 20. The book expedition will light up the “Book Beacons of Russia” in cities along its way.
… For the first time in history, a unique book expedition by train and other means of transportation will travel with a cultural program throughout Russia and cover more than 30 regions of the Russian Federation, including St. Petersburg, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Tyumen, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude, Chita, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok….
The neural network reached the final of the literary competition for authors and readers of audiobooks “Project of Special Importance”. It is not yet known which text from among the finalists belongs to artificial intelligence, the [ChatGPT] neural network. The name of the laureate will be announced at the award ceremony in October in St. Petersburg.
The works of the participants are evaluated by science fiction writers Sergey Lukyanenko, Andrey Vasiliev, Vadim Panov, Max Glebov, professional audiobook readers and dubbing actors Kirill Golovin, Marina Lisovets, Dmitry Cherevatenko, Inga Brik and others. A total of 644 applications were received for the competition, 50 readers and 39 writers reached the final, stories in the genres of production novel, post-apocalypse, science fiction and cyberpunk were accepted for participation. The evaluation took into account the plot, intrigue, language style and emotional impact on the reader. The full list of finalists can be found on the website.
… The winner of the competition – the author of the text, who took 1st place, receives 250,000 rubles, 2nd place – 150,000 rubles, 3rd place – 100 thousand rubles. A prize fund of 400,000 rubles is distributed among the finalists. Among the readers, 10 winners are determined, who receive 50,000 rubles each.
(2) HELP SEATTLE IN 2025 WORLDCON BID RAISE FUNDS FOR CANCER RESEARCH. The Seattle in 2025 Worldcon Bid has formed a Base2Space team to climb the Space Needle on October 1 and raise funds for cancer research. The climb is 832 steps from street level to the observation deck, rising 0.1 miles high, or about 1/620 of the distance to space. They promise to take pictures from the top, showing the city which members of the science fiction community will have the chance to visit if Seattle wins the (so far uncontested) site selection vote to host the 2025 Worldcon. The black and white image shows what the Space Needle looked like in 1961, the last time Seattle hosted a Worldcon. 100% of donations go to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Please give generously: Seattle in 2025 Worldcon Bid – Base 2 Space.
The city of Lake Forest Park, Wash., dedicated a section of 37th Avenue NE to science fiction and fantasy author Octavia E. Butler on Saturday, July 29. Admirers of the author, who died in 2006, can now walk a three-block stretch known as Octavia Butler Avenue, passing the midcentury modern home where the author lived from 1999–2006 and wrote her final novel, Fledgling.
Lake Forest Park city councilmembers Phillippa Kassover and Tracy Furutani led the initiative to establish the honorary landmark, which covers three residential blocks, from NE 162nd to NE 165th Street. In the shade of an oak tree at the dedication ceremony, Kassover explained that Butler had moved to the Seattle suburb because she “wanted a home with a garden from which she could walk to a grocery store and had access to a cultural center and a good bookstore via bus, as she did not drive.” (Third Place Books Lake Forest Park is a short walk away.)
Kassover acknowledged Butler’s visionary fiction, “her prescient warnings about authoritarian leaders, and her many accolades, including being the first science fiction author to receive a Macarthur Genius Award.” Furutani called Butler’s novels “more Orwellian than we might suppose,” noting Butler’s Afrofuturist and social justice vision. Butler wrote Kindred, Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents, and the Xenogenesis trilogy, and received Hugo, Locus, and Nebula awards.
Those honoring Butler at the ceremony included Kassover and Furutani, along with Lake Forest Park deputy mayor Tom French, councilmember Semra Riddle, Clarion West science fiction and fantasy workshop writer Caren Gussoff Sumption, scholar Sheila Liming, and musician Terry Morgan, who befriended Butler after she moved to the neighborhood.
(4) MEDICAL UPDATE. Sff author Michael Flynn, who was hospitalized with an infection early this month, was released from the hospital yesterday he announced on Facebook. Good news!
(5) CHENGDU AND UNCANNY MAGAZINE. Michael Damian Thomas and Lynne M Thomas, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher of Uncanny Magazine report that Uncanny Magazine was invited to send a representative to the Chengdu Worldcon “on the convention’s dime, but none of our team will be attending the convention.”
Of course, notes Michael, “In the case of Lynne and me, we are no longer able to attend any conventions that require flying or are too far away from a children’s hospital due to our daughter Caitlin’s palliative care.”
…. After fracturing the Sacred Timeline at the end of the first season, Loki has lots of issues, including the fact that he’s “time slipping.” Unfortunately, the Time Variance Authority’s repairs guy (Ke Huy Quan) can’t fix it, although he does make for a delightful addition to the cast.…
(7) POOL PARTY FOR MICHIGAN FALSE ELECTORS. Michigan’s Grand New Party PAC announced a fundraising pool party in Oakland County this week for the false electors facing felony charges. There is no mention of Michele Lundgren by name in the publicity.
(8) ABOUT TODAY’S TITLE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Heinlein’s Kip Russell wanted interoperable oxygen tank fittings, among other things. Larry Niven’s Belters [[IIRC, notes DPD]]] had designs painted on theirs. What would you add to yours?
The Giving Tree A story of handouts. Flat-out socialism. Not to mention the climate-thumper extremism of giving the tree feelings. “Oh no, a tree is sad. It turns into a pathetic little stump. Whatever will we do?” Ridiculous.
(10) PAUL REUBENS (1952-2023). Paul Reubens, the actor and comedian who gained fame in character as Pee-wee Herman, died July 30 of cancer.
An Instagram released after his death quotes him: “Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years. I have always felt a huge amount of love and respect from my friends, fans and supporters. I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you.”
The Los Angeles Times’ obituary describes his iconic character:
…Accompanied by a talking chair and pterodactyl named Pterri, Reubens established his place in the pop-culture zeitgeist with a maniacal laugh, form-fitting gray suit and red bow tie while embodying the man-child who ran amok on Saturday mornings during the TV run of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.” The CBS series aired from 1986 to 1990 and then yielded the big-screen adaptations “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” directed by Tim Burton, and “Big Top Pee-wee” in the 1980s. Stage shows followed in more recent years., as did Netflix’s 2016 follow-up “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday,” produced by Judd Apatow….
However, Reuben’s’ career was derailed by criminal charges, first in 1991 — he ended up pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure — then in 2004, when he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor obscenity charge in a plea bargain with prosecutors who agreed to drop charges concerning child pornography.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 31, 1932 — Ted Cassidy. He’s best known for the role of Lurch on The Addams Family in the mid-1960s. If you’ve got a good ear, you’ll recall that he narrated The Incredible Hulk series. And he played the part of the android Ruk in the episode “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” on Trek and provided the voices of the more strident version of Balok in the “The Corbomite Maneuver” episode and the Gorn in the “Arena” episode. In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. “The Napoleon’s Tomb Affair” episode (SPOILERS), he was Edgar, who kidnapped, tortured, and repeatedly attempted to kill Napoleon and Illya. And failed magnificently. I watched a few months back. (Died 1979.)
Born July 31, 1950 — Steve Miller, 73. He is married to Sharon Lee, and they are the creators of the vast and throughly entertaining Liaden universe. (And where would one would start? And go from there? Do tell.) I was surprised though they’ve won both a Golden Duck and Skylark that they have never been nominated for a Hugo.
Born July 31, 1955 — Daniel M. Kimmel, 68. His essays on classic genre films were being published in The Internet Review of Science Fiction from 2005–2010 and are now in the Space and Time magazine. He is the 2018 recipient of the Skylark Award given by the New England Science Fiction Association. He was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award for Shh! It’s a Secret. And he was nominated for a Hugo for Best Related Work at Chicon 7 for Jar Jar Binks Must Die… and Other Observations About Science Fiction Movies.
Born July 31, 1956 — Michael Biehn, 67. Best known in genre circles as Sgt. Kyle Reese in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Cpl. Dwayne Hicks in Aliens and Lt. Coffey in The Abyss. He was also The Sandman in a single episode of Logan’s Run. Though not even genre adjacent, he was Johnny Ringo in the magnificent Tombstone film. Likewise he was in The Magnificent Seven series as Chris Larabee.
Born July 31, 1959 — Kim Newman, 64. Though best known for his Anno Dracula series, I’d like to single him out for his early work, Nightmare Movies: A critical history of the horror film, 1968–88, a very serious history of horror films. It was followed up with the equally great Wild West Movies: Or How the West Was Found, Won, Lost, Lied About, Filmed and Forgotten.
Born July 31, 1962 — Wesley Snipes, 61. The first actor to be Blade in the Blade film franchise where I thought he made the perfect Blade. (There’s a new Blade actor though their name escapes me right now.) I also like him as Simon Phoenix in Demolition Man. And he was Aman in Gallowwalkers, a Western horror film that is really, really bad. How bad? It gets an eleven percent rating by audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
Born July 31, 1976 — John Joseph Adams, 49. Anthologist of whom I’m very fond. He did The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West. He was the Assistant Editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction for nearly a decade, and he’s been editing both Lightspeed Magazine since the early part of the previous decade. He is the series editor of The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. Nominated for the Hugo many times, he won for the Lightspeed prozine at Loncon 3 (2014) with Rich Horton and Stefan Rudnicki, and at Sasquan (2015) with Horton, Rudnicki, Wendy N. Wagner and Christie Yant.
(12) HORROR WRITING GENERATIONS. Brian Keene hosts a panel sponsored by the Horror Writers Association, “Back in the Day (part 1)”.
Back In The Day (Part 1) hosted by Brian Keene, he speaks with panelists about what has changed in publishing and horror fiction over the years… and what hasn’t
He’s joined by David J. Schow, John Skipp, Chet Williamson, and Douglas E. Winter.
Its portrayal of the first atomic bomb detonation, for example, lacked the “violet hues” and heat wave of the real thing.
“Some characters even made comments like ‘quantum mechanics is hard’, which I disagree with – it’s only hard if someone hasn’t explained it properly,” says Dr Kirrily Rule, an instrument scientist who works with the thermal triple-axis spectrometer Taipan at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (Ansto).
We saw Christopher Nolan’s movie Oppenheimer last night as it was meant to be seen: in 70 mm IMAX.
It’s a very good film; I recommend it. That said, is it the best cinematic treatment of the subject? No, that’s still the 1989 movie Day One.
And is Cillian Murphy going to win the Academy Award for Best Actor? No, I don’t think so; his is an awfully one-note version of Oppie, who was much more complex (and much more charming) than Murphy’s portrayal would indicate….
However, a week later he told his newsletter subscribers that his enthusiasm has cooled:
…For all of Christopher Nolan’s posturing that his Oppenheimer is an important film, and how, in his own words, it “poses the most unsettling questions,” he completely cops out, showing us only the Trinity test explosion in New Mexico and not the dropping of the bombs on the living, breathing cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yes, Nolan portrays the famous moment in which Oppenheimer says he fears he has “blood on his hands” to Harry S. Truman in the Oval Office, but, in his film, we never get any real sense of Oppenheimer’s regret or of the horrors of nuclear war. Sadly, despite the IMAX format, most scenes in Oppenheimer aren’t very memorable either visually or emotionally.
Circa 1960, the TWA “Moonliner” rocket at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland in Anaheim, California. (With Richfield Oil’s “Autopia” in the background.) At 76 feet, the Moonliner was the tallest attraction in the park. This medium format transparency is part of a recent donation to Shorpy from the family of California photographer Mary Baum (1925-2012). View full size.
I remember that rocket. And the ride — which was a circle of theater seats around a circular screen. The “launch” was b&w film taken by a camera on a V-2.
Unbeknownst to the world, May, voted the greatest guitarist of all time by readers of Total Guitar magazine earlier this year, had actually been hard at work for years leading up to the sampling attempt, helping to process images captured by NASA’s flagship space rock explorer to find a suitable landing spot on the treacherous surface of asteroid Bennu. The work proved harder than Lauretta and May had expected, as the 1,722-feet-wide (525 meters) Bennu turned scientists’ understanding of asteroids upside down….
OSIRIS-REx wasn’t fitted with a stereo camera. May, however, knew a way around this limitation, as he had previously produced 3D images of Comet 67P, the target of the Rosetta mission, and of Pluto as seen by New Horizons, by carefully selecting and aligning images taken by a single camera from different angles.
The OSIRIS-REx cooperation, however, put the musician’s commitment to science through a test. As data from OSIRIS-REx started pouring in, the scientists realized that Bennu’s surface was not at all what they had expected and designed their mission for. Instead of mostly smooth, beach-like plains of sand occasionally strewn with smatterings of bigger rocks, they found a body covered in boulders that sometimes rose against the asteroid’s barely existent gravity in formations tens of feet tall. Understanding what the researchers were truly facing from the two-dimensional snapshots captured by OSIRIS-REx’s cameras was nigh impossible. And so May quickly got to prove his scientific worth.
…What sets CFS’s technology apart is its use of high-temperature superconducting tape, which is layered and stacked to create extremely strong electromagnets that will shape and confine the unruly plasma and keep the bulk of the charged particles away from the tokamak’s walls. The company believes that this novel approach will allow it to build a high-performance tokamak that is much smaller and less expensive than would be possible with previous approaches….
Daniel Dern asks, “Yeah, but would it keep the Ringworld from breaking?”
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Daniel Dern, Kevin Black, Dann, Michael Damian Thomas, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Jessie Kwak spent most of Saturday among hundreds of others enjoying the Mississippi Street Fair in North Portland. For the science fiction author, it was a special chance for her to sell her books at a booth, along with her friend and fellow author, Mark. Just after 8 p.m., the pair walked to Mark’s car, which was parked at North Kerby Avenue and North Failing Street. As they prepared to drive away, they heard gunfire.
“It was just kind of like, pop, pop, pop, pop, like somebody set off a string of fireworks,” Kwak said. “The windshield exploded and my left eye exploded and I realized that wasn’t fireworks, and so I ducked down.”
Mark drove Kwak, 40, to Legacy Emanuel Hospital about four miles away. Kwak’s husband, Robert Kittilson, took photographs of his wife’s injured face, which was covered in blood. The photos are difficult to look at, but the couple hopes those who see them will see the impact of gun violence for what it is, not just a statistic to ignore
Hi, I’m Jessie, a self-made freelance writer and author. On Saturday, July 15th, I was selling books at a local street fair with another author friend. As we were leaving, someone in the car ahead of us started firing their gun into the street nearby. A bullet ricocheted into our windshield, and glass and bullet fragments hit my face and entered my left eye. I was rushed to the hospital immediately, but it was clear that the bullet had done severe damage to the eye.
On Sunday, July 16th, I went under for a 5-hour surgery to reconstruct my left eye. Doctors said it was in pieces and had to be put back together like a puzzle. The CT scan revealed that bullet fragments were embedded deep in my eye and had damaged the retina. Another surgery is scheduled for Wednesday, July 19th to remove the bullet fragments and if possible repair the retina.
It will take time to learn to live with one eye, and as a freelancer, I won’t be able to work as I recover. And no work means no income.
This fundraiser is to help pay for medical treatment, lost income and clients, and for future legal expenses.
I have been watching as gun violence has been increasing in our country, and in retrospect, I know that I am very very lucky. Many families don’t get a second chance to hug their loved ones tight.
I want to take this opportunity to show you the real person behind the statistic, and that this was not a freak accident, but the result of a systemic issue we are facing here in the United States.
…Set on the planet Eternia, “Masters of the Universe” largely focuses on the conflict between He-Man, a blonde muscle god, and his devious nemesis Skeletor. The characters formed a much-loved 1980s animated series, which developed a cross-generational fan base during its syndicated runs. For the latest film iteration, the budget came in at over $200 million with cameras set to roll this February, sources said. Last spring, however, Netflix was confronted with a stunning stock drop that saw the powerful streamer shed $50 billion in value after investors became concerned about the company’s subscriber losses.
In the aftermath of the sell-off, Netflix film head Scott Stuber and chief content officer Bela Bajaria tried to reassure the industry that they still had money to spend amid their Wall Street woes. However, sources close to “Masters of the Universe” said after that point the streamer refused to shell out more than $150 million to see up-and-comer Allen (“American Horror Story,” “A Haunting in Venice”) pick up He-Man’s sword. A source familiar with Netflix said the stock drop was irrelevant to budget issues on “Masters,” noting that its content spend has been flat at $17 billion for two years, despite market fluctuation….
Brian “Box” Brown unravels how marketing that targeted children in the 1980s has shaped adults in the present. The He-Man Effect shows how corporate manipulation brought muscular, accessory-stuffed action figures to dizzying heights in the eighties and beyond. Bringing beloved brands like He-Man, Transformers, My Little Pony, and even Mickey Mouse himself into the spotlight, this graphic history exposes a world with no rules and no concern for results beyond profit.
(6) CHARLES E. NOAD OBITUARY. David Bratman has written a tribute to the late Charles E. Noad at Kalimac’s corner. It begins:
Charles was a mainstay of the Tolkien Society, the UK-based organization, and an absolute monument for Tolkien studies for all that he didn’t write very much. Besides doing bibliographical work for the TS, his most valuable contribution was as proofreader for most of the posthumous Tolkien volumes, in the History of Middle-earth series and elsewhere. At this his ability to catch glitches was unsurpassed. He could quite literally tell whether a period (the full stop at the end of a sentence) was in italics or not. As a support to Christopher Tolkien, the editor of these volumes, he was more than invaluable….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1998 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
A work by S. M. Stirling provides our Beginning this Scroll. Now I’ll admit that I am not that familiar with him which is not to say that there aren’t works by him that I do like deeply such as The Peshawar Lancers and The Lords of Creation series which consists of The Sky People and In the Courts of the Crimson Kings. The latter is extraordinary work.
He has been nominated for many awards, winning the Lord Ruthven Award which is given for significant contributions to the field of horror literature for his A Taint the Blood novel, and a Dragon Award for the Black Chamber novel in the Best Alternate History Novel category. It was nominated for a Sunburst was awarded to a Canadian novel in previous year.
Mike choose Island in the Sea of Time, the first novel in the Nantucket series, published by Roc Books twenty-five years ago.
And now for the Beginning…
March, 1998 A.D.
Ian Arnstein stepped off the ferry gangway and hefted his bags. Nantucket on a foggy March evening was chilly enough to make him thankful he’d worn the heavier overcoat; Southern Californian habits could betray you, here on the coast of New England. Thirty-odd miles off the coast. The summer houses built out over the water were still shuttered, and most of the shops were closed—tourist season wouldn’t really start until Daffodil Weekend in late April, when the population began to climb from seven thousand to sixty. He was a tourist of sorts himself, even though he came here regularly; to the locals he was still a “coof,” of course, or “from away,” to use a less old-fashioned term. Everybody whose ancestors hadn’t arrived in the seventeenth century was a coof, to the core of old-time inhabitants, a “wash-ashore” even if he’d lived here for years. This was the sort of place where they talked about “going to America” when they took the ferry to the mainland.
He trudged past Easy Street, which wasn’t, and turned onto Broad, which wasn’t either, up to the whaling magnate’s mansion that he stayed in every year. It had been converted to an inn back in the 1850s, when the magnate’s wife insisted on moving to Boston for the social life. Few buildings downtown were much more recent than that. The collapse of the whaling industry during the Civil War era had frozen Nantucket in time, down to the huge American elms along Main Street and the cobblestone alleys. The British travel writer Jan Morris had called it the most beautiful small town in the world, mellow brick and shingle in Federal or neoclassical style. A ferociously restrictive building code kept it that way, a place where Longfellow and Whittier would have felt at home and Melville would have taken a few minutes to notice the differences.
Mind you, it probably smells a lot better these days. Must have reeked something fierce when the harborfront was lined with whale-oil renderies. It had its own memories for him, now. Still painful, but life was like that. People died, marriages too, and you went on.
He hurried up Broad Street and hefted his bags up the brick stairs to the white neoclassical doors with their overhead fanlights flanked by white wooden pillars. The desk was just within, but the tantalizing smells came from downstairs. The whalers were long gone, but they still served a mean seafood dinner in the basement restaurant at the John Cofflin House.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 19, 1883 — Max Fleischer. Animator, film director and producer. He brought such animated characters as Betty Boop, Popeye and Superman to the screen and was responsible for a number of technological innovations including the Rotoscope and Stereoptical Processes. You can see Betty’s first screen appearance here in the 1930 Cartoon, “Dizzy Dishes”. (Died 1972.)
Born July 19, 1924 — Pat Hingle. He portrayed Jim Gordon in the Burton Batman film franchise. Genre wise, he had roles in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, Carol for Another Christmas, Mission: Impossible, The Invaders, Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo, Amazing Stories and The Land Before Time. He would reprise his Gordon role in the Batman OnStar commercials. (Died 2009.)
Born July 19, 1927 — Richard E. Geis. I met him at least once when I was living out there in Oregon. Interesting person. He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twice; and whose science fiction fanzine Science Fiction Review won Hugo Awards for Best Fanzine four times. The Alien Critic won the Best Fanzine Hugo (once in a tie with Algol), and once by himself. And yes, I enjoyed reading the Science Fiction Review. I’ve not read any of his handful of genre novels, and certainly haven’t encountered his soft-core porn of which there’s a lot. (Died 2013.)
Born July 19, 1950 — Richard Pini, 73. He’s half of the husband-and-wife team responsible for creating the well-known Elfquest series of comics, graphic novels and prose works. They are also known as WaRP (as in Warp Graphics). It’s worth noting that characters based on works by the Pinis appear in Ghost Rider (vol.1 issue 14).
Born July 19, 1957 — John Pelan. Committed (more or less) the act of opening serial small publishing houses in succession with the first being Axolotl Press in the mid-Eighties where he’d published the likes of de Lint and Powers (before selling it to Pulphouse Publishing) followed by Darkside Press, Silver Salamander Press and finally co-founding Midnight House. All have been inactive for quite awhile now and he’d been editing such anthologies as Tales of Terror and Torment: Stories from the Pulps, Volume 1 for other presses though even that has not happened for some years as near as I can tell. As a writer, he had more than thirty published stories and he had won both a Stoker for The Darker Side: Generations of Horror anthology and an International Horror Guild Award for his Darkside: Horror for the Next Millennium anthology. (Died 2021.)
Born July 19, 1969 — Kelly Link, 54. First, let me note that along with Ellen Datlow, she and her husband Gavin Grant were responsible for the last five volumes of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror. They all did an absolutely magnificent job. All of her collections, Pretty Monsters, Magic for Beginners and Get in Trouble are astonishingly good. And she’s much honored having three Nebula Awards, a World Fantasy Award, an Otherwise Award, a Sturgeon Award and received a MacArthur Genius Grant. She was a finalist for a 2016 Pulitzer Prize. And Hugos. She won a Hugo at Interaction for her “Faery Handbag” novellette, her “Magic for Beginners” novella was nominated at L.A. Con IV, and finally Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet was nominated at Nippon 2007 for Best Semi-Prozine (her husband Gavin Grant was also nominated).
Born July 19, 1976 — Benedict Cumberbatch, 47. Confession time: I really didn’t care for him in the Sherlock series, nor did I think his Khan In Star Trek Into Darkness was all that interesting but his Stephen Strange In Doctor Strange was excellent. He did do a superb job of voicing Smaug inThe Hobbit and his Grinch voicing in that film was also superb. I understand he’s the voice of Satan in Good Omens…
1999’s “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” introduced audiences to a technological marvel: Jar Jar Binks, cinema’s first major motion-captured character. But the comic-relief alien also became the target of one of the internet’s first hate campaigns, with vitriol spilling over to the actor who played Jar Jar as well.
The new podcast “The Redemption of Jar Jar Binks” tells this story and how it informs online discourse today. Here & Now‘s Celeste Headlee speaks to podcast host Dylan Marron, also known for his writing work on “Ted Lasso” and his podcast “Conversations with People Who Hate Me.”
Jar Jar Binks became one of the most polarizing figures in cinematic history when he made his debut in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace in 1999. He was even named “the most annoying movie character of all time” by Complex Magazine. After the release, Ahmed Best, the man who played Jar Jar, was hit with the full force of the backlash — and it nearly destroyed him. The Redemption of Jar Jar Binks is a six-part journey through the early internet to understand how one of the first-ever online hate campaigns began, and to right what we got so wrong about Jar Jar the first time around.
So, when people caught sight of another large balloon in the southern hemisphere in early May, there was concern it could be another spy device. Instead, it represents the future of astronomy: balloon-borne telescopes that peer deep into space without leaving the stratosphere.
Based on a single chilling chapter from Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula, The Last Voyage of the Demeter tells the terrifying story of the merchant ship Demeter, which was chartered to carry private cargo—fifty unmarked wooden crates—from Carpathia to London. Strange events befall the doomed crew as they attempt to survive the ocean voyage, stalked each night by a merciless presence onboard the ship. When the Demeter finally arrives off the shores of England, it is a charred, derelict wreck. There is no trace of the crew.
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Fanac.org now hosts the venerable Castle of Terrors made in 1964 by the UK’s Delta Science Fiction Film Group.
This fannish production from Harry Nadler and the Delta SF Film Group gives us a slapstick parody of horror movies, replete with well known British fans of the day. There are angry villagers, damsels in distress, and scary monsters, as well as less well-known horror tropes like food fights in this 20 minute amateur extravaganza. In “Castle of Terrors” you can feel just how much fun Delta Group was having (and get a clear sense of their love for slapstick). Bill Burns, who provided this and other Delta Films tells us “The individual films date from 1963 to 1970, and were made on 8mm silent film to which a magnetic stripe was later added and the sound dubbed on. They were then shown mercilessly at club meetings and Eastercons, and suffered accordingly.” For more about the Delta SF Film Group, see the Fancyclopedia article and see the text of Bill’s talk at Manunicon (2016 Eastercon) here.
[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, A. P. Howell, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]