Chengdu Worldcon co-chair Ben Yalow provided some updated information in response to questions posed during the Future Worldcons panel on September 2. With him on the platform were the Vice-Chair, and the Chair of the Chengdu Science Fiction Society (the business entity behind the convention). Yalow fielded most of the questions.
COVID. Asked “Will we we need to quarantine two weeks to enter China,” Yalow noted that Chengdu had recently gone back into lockdown, and prior to that there had been periods when a 14-day quarantine was in effect, but ultimately he could only say, “Tell me what the pandemic is going to be a year from now and I will tell you what the quarantine situation will be.”
CHENGDU WORLDCON FINANCIAL ISSUES. Several basic questions people have tried to ask on the Chengdu Worldcon Facebook page in recent months – “Why haven’t I heard from the committee since you won?”, “Why isn’t there more information on the website”, “When can I buy a new membership?” – at first seem to be about different topics, however, the answers all come back to the committee’s trouble in figuring out how to open accounts in the U.S. where they can hold their money and do credit card transactions. That is affecting how memberships are being handled, delaying the installation of a new website, and keeping new people from joining.
When Chengdu won the 2023 site selection vote last December, it was reported that 2,915 valid votes were cast, and a further 917 tokens were sold for which no matching ballots were received. According to DisCon III, they are still holding $180,253.50 of site selection fees in escrow for the winner.
However, the Chengdu Worldcon committee’s financial report to the Chicon 8 Business Meeting showed they are only counting 1,305 domestic (Chinese) memberships. An accounting footnote says: “Until the voting fees are transferred, we are not showing those memberships in the totals. However, everyone who purchased an advance supporting membership in Chengdu (voting token at DisCon III), or who voted at DisCon III, is already a full attending member, with all WSFS rights of Chengdu Worldcon 2023.”
At the Future Worldcons panel Yalow said they have been trying to find workarounds for the restrictions on sending money to China. He did not explain what those restrictions are. Right now the funds are in an account held by a US tax-exempt entity, the corporation that ran DisCon III. And the plan is for the money to be transferred to a new Wyoming (U.S.) corporation.
Yalow told the audience, “We have finished setting up the corporation. We received our certificate of incorporation about a week ago.” They now have to pass corporate resolutions, open corporate bank accounts, and apply to credit card companies to take credit card purchases of memberships. “We believe this process should take a few more weeks.”
An entirely new website is being developed to handle the transactions. He said the beta version is ready.
“Until we are able to deal with the credit card situation we can’t turn on those functions in the website. We don’t know for sure, but probably within the next few weeks.”
He also said they have found a way to pair with WeChat, which works in China but most people “here” don’t have it.
PROGRESS REPORTS. Yalow said there was a draft of Progress Report #1 being worked on that he thought would be ready “within another few days.” All of their Progress Reports will be published electronically.
VENUE. Asked about the cost of hotel rooms at the Chengdu Worldcon’s venue, Yalow said they would cost “a few hundred dollars at the headquarters hotel.” There are cheaper places around the city, and the convention location is on the mass transit system (and much of the signage there is bilingual).
VIRTUAL WORLDCON. Yalow said there will be fully virtual memberships. They have not yet taken a platform and until they have one in place they won’t know how different or similar the experience will be (presumably a comparison to what it has been in past virtual Worldcon presentations). Yalow said there are “substantial limits on what technology will and won’t allow, but we will do our best to work around those.”
SERGEY LUKIANENKO. Someone asked will they retain Sergey Lukianenko as a guest of honor. “Yes,” was Yalow’s one-word answer.
The question was probably asked with awareness of the resolution before the Business Meeting condemning “Sergey Lukianenko’s appalling utterances, calling Ukrainians Nazis and encouraging an illegal invasion of Ukraine.” The day following the Future Worldcons panel, the WSFS Business Meeting voted to adopt the resolution.
DisCon III has sent Chicon 8, the 80th World Science Fiction Convention, a grant of $20,000 as an initial payment toward the funds that DisCon agreed to contribute under the Worldcon Pass-Along Funds Agreement.
Since being instituted in 1989, nearly every Worldcon has participated in the Worldcon pass-along funds system. DisCon III agreed to distribute half of the convention’s surplus to the succeeding three Worldcons who likewise decided to join the pass-along system.
DisCon III was held in December, much later in the year than any previous Worldcon, and thus is still wrapping up its operations. Recognizing that Chicon 8 is less than four months away, DisCon has made this significant grant as partial fulfillment of its pass-along obligations and will be making additional pass-along grants to Chicon and the next two eligible Worldcons as soon as possible.
DisCon III’s announcement again expressed the committee’s appreciation to everyone who worked to make the convention a success, saying “We are glad to play our part in ensuring the success of Chicon 8 and other future Worldcons.”
(1) DISCON III SOUVENIR BOOK NOW AVAILABLE IN CHINESE. The 2021 Worldcon committee has had the Souvenir Book translated into Chinese.
It is digitally available in either English or Chinese on their website to anyone who wishes a copy. The English edition is here. The Chinese copy is here.
(2) STOKERCON PHOTOS. Ellen Datlow has shared her Flickr album of photos taken at Stokercon 2022 Denver. No captions yet, however.
(3) MORE HUGO FINALIST SAMPLERS. Alasdair Stuart has anticipated the Hugo Voter Packet by making available his selections from 2021’s The Full Lid, a Best Fanzine finalist, as either a PDF or a zip file containing PDF, mobi, and epub formats. He adds, “With many thanks to Nick Eden for the assembly!”
You can also find voter materials for two Best Semiprozine finalists, Escape Pod as well as PodCastle, at their sites.
…The story very much fits the expectations of a Chambers novel. The stakes are galactically-low and focused on the personal. There is conflict but it is either resolved or accommodated by people finding ways to get along. If anything, the focus on this aspect is greater than in previous stories and oddly, I found it better for that. It is a novel that is far more confident in staying within this personal space that is nonetheless shaped by political and cultural events….
(5) CODE NAME: DUDLEY. James Davis Nicoll begins “Five SF Works About Fighting Crime in Space” by explaining a bit of Canadian news to Tor.com readers, what might hypothetically follow, then names some books that might provide models:
…Presumably some sort of jet-pack-wearing analog of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be along to enforce this. Its officers might well wonder “how would a space-based police force work? How does one even set fire to a barn in space?” Happily, while a space patrol may be new to Canada, SF authors have already explored how such an organization might operate, as these five vintage works prove.
Space Cadet by Robert Heinlein (1948)
While hardly the first space patrol novel, Heinlein’s coming-of-age tale may be one of the best known. Space Cadet follows the education and early career of would-be Interplanetary Patrolman Matt Dodson, from his enrollment to his first major assignment on Venus. Along the way, he is transformed from a naïve teen into a responsible young man.
While the Patrol reserves the option to simply nuke problems from orbit, it prefers more subtle approaches. The Venus affair is a case in point. In the 19th or 20th century, a dispute between natives and traders might have been resolved through violent retribution against the natives. The Patrol, with its more ethical and enlightened outlook, does its best to respect the Venusians and deliver actual justice. Hard news for the trader in question, who is very much in the wrong.…
(6) THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN. Amazon dropped this trailer for season 3 of The Boys today.
Teachers at a Brooklyn school are finding inspiration from an unlikely source: Star Trek.
They’re boldly going where no educators have gone before (probably), learning “Klingon” as a way to connect to students in their classroom — as the fictional language invented for aliens serves as a reminder of everyone’s humanity.
Teachers at Saint Mark Catholic Academy in Sheepshead Bay are hoping that changing their language will help change their way of thinking. They are learning a language that until fairly recently was all Greek to them.
“Unless you’re a real Star Trek fan, you’re not well versed in Klingon,” said principal Mark Wilson.
It’s spoken by the fictional Klingon warriors on Star Trek. But learning this foreign fictional language is helping the teachers better understand real students learning English as a second language.
Over the last few years the school has seen an influx of eastern European students — children who don’t speak English at home. That includes Denys Shorodok, who came from Ukraine and for whom English is a third language.
“The teachers were coming to me (saying) I want to help my students but I don’t know how, and I wanted to help my teachers and I didn’t know how. So That’s when I reached out to ACES,” said Wilson.
… “One of the key parts of empathy is to think about what would it feel like for you if you were in the same situation,” said Rania El-Badry, the assistant director of the program.
“They now are familiar with the psychology and emotions of students in the classroom,” says program director Erica David, “and that’s something that will influence the way that they teach going forward.”…
The other day I was having dinner with a prominent planetary scientist when I mentioned that I had a list of my five favorite moons. You do? He asked, surprised. Sure. Don’t you? He studies Venus, and Venus, like Vulcan, has no moon, so he didn’t have his own list of favorite moons but asked me to name mine. As I explained, most of my choices are not based strictly on scientific merit, but on the stories they tell—and the history of how we have discovered, studied, and explored them. Here they are, and why they’re on my list.
First up – Triton.
…Triton is one of Neptune’s moons, the largest, and it is an oddball. It circles the planet backwards, retrograde, in the opposite direction of Neptune’s other moons. This indicates that it did not form with them, and was likely captured when it wandered in from the Kuiper Belt. Triton was discovered shortly after the discovery of Neptune in 1846. Triton is cold, with estimated temperatures of 38 K (âˆ’235 °C). That, and its origins, combine to make it very interesting, and intriguing….
(9) KARL LEMBKE (1960-2022). Long-time LASFSian Karl Lembke died May 15 after a three-year battle with cancer. Karl was first elected Chair of the Board of Directors in 2002 (which I know because I took the minutes of the meeting!) and served continuously for 20 years.
He joined LASFS in September 1985. He received the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to the club in 2010. His financial donations to the club were acknowledged by making him a Patron Saint of the 38th meeting of the year. At times he also served as Scribe of the Thursday night meetings.
Past LASFS President Eylat Poliner adds, “Karl was a gentle soul. He was a devoted and loved member of the LASFS. He ran hospitality for Loscon for many years. He loved to play mahjong. He liked to cook/bake and was loyal to his family, He loved science fiction. He brewed mead and beer. He loved his co-workers and boss.”
As a conrunner, Karl often worked the green room or staff lounge at Loscon, Gallifrey, and even Corflu the last time it was in LA. He chaired Loscon 32 in 2005.
Heinlein would have been impressed to know that in Karl’s lifetime he made 997 apheresis (plasma and platelet) donations to the Red Cross.
2013 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Just nine years ago, the sequel to rebooted Star Trek came out, Star Trek Into The Darkness. The twelfth film in the Trek franchise (really it was), it would be Leonard Nimoy‘s last film appearance before his death two years later. The Trek cast from the first film were back and the guest cast of Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, and Peter Weller would be here as well.
Naturally it was directed by J.J. Abrams off a script written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof. Abrams and Orci created Fringe, Kurtzman wrote the first film in this series plus he directed and co-wrote The Mummy which I essayed here not long ago, and Lindelof is one of the prime movers behind Lost.
In case someone here has managed not to see it yet, I’m not going to discuss it. See NO SPOILERS.
It was costly. Best estimates say it was close to two hundred million by the time they were all done but it made nearly a half billion according to industry sources. That said, calculating in all of the expenses, Deadline Hollywood estimated that the film made a profit of only thirty million. Oh ouch.
So what did critics think of it at the time? Well most liked it though some I will admit detested it with all their hearts. Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone said: “Spoilers would cause me more trouble than an army of Klingons. One hint: If you rewatch any Star Trek movie before seeing this one, make it 1982’s iconic The Wrath of Khan. Kudos to Abrams for going bigger without going stupid. His set pieces, from an erupting volcano to the hell unleashed over London and Frisco Bay, are doozies. So’s the movie. It’s crazy good.”
And SF Crownest said: “Snappy dialogue, spry action sequences, vibrant special effects, solid characterizations and galaxy-induced intrigue paints ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ as one the first summertime hits of 2013 to register its big box office promise with genuine thrills at a time where aimless sequels usually spell redundancy and disaster. Alas, it is quite acceptable to feel around in the ‘Darkness’ for Abrams’s stimulating spectacle that beams up some sharp and boisterous fun-filled momentum as routinely as it does an exasperated Scotty looking to return on board the ship.”
Christopher Orr of The Atlantic has an interesting point in his review I think and so we’ll leave our review notes with it: “For all its chasing and falling and fighting–and the movie supplies a great deal of each–Star Trek Into Darkness is at its best when the Enterprise crew are merely bickering and bantering among themselves: less space opera than soap opera.”
It currently has a most excellent ninety percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 16, 1918 — Barry Atwater. Surak in “The Savage Curtain” episode where several reliable sources say he had serious trouble making Vulcan hand gesture. He did a lot of other genre work from Night Stalker where he played the vampire Janos Skorzeny to The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Night Gallery, The Wild Wild West and The Outer Limits. (Died 1978.)
Born May 16, 1937 — Yvonne Craig. Batgirl on Batman, and that green-skinned Orion slave girl Marta on “Whom Gods Destroy” on Trek. She also one-offs in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Wild Wild West, Voyage to The Bottom of the Sea, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, Land of the Giants, Fantasy Island and Holmes and Yo-Yo. (Died 2015.)
Born May 16, 1950 — Bruce Coville, 72. He’s won three Golden Duck Awards for Excellence in Children’s Science Fiction. He won first for his My Teacher Glows in the Dark, the second for his I Was a 6th Grade Alien, and the third for producing an audio adaptation of Heinlein’s The Rolling Stones. And NESFA also presented him with the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction. He was twice nominated for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature.
Born May 16, 1953 — Pierce Brosnan, 69. Louis XIV in The Moon and the Sun adaptation of Vonda McIntyre’s novel, shot in 2014 then not released til this year. James Bond in a remarkably undistinguished series of such films. Seriously, what do you remember about his Bond films? Dr. Lawrence Angelo in The Lawnmower Man, and he was lunch, errr, Professor Donald Kessler in Mars Attacks! and Mike Noonan in Bag of Bones.
Born May 16, 1955 — Debra Winger, 67. Not I grant you an extensive genre resume but interesting one nonetheless. Her first genre appearance is in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in uncredited turn as, and I kid you, a Halloween Zombie Nurse with a poodle. Really I’m not kidding. And she appeared in three episodes of the Seventies Wonder Woman as Drusilla / Wonder Girl. If you want to stretch it, she was Rebecca in The Red Tent film.
Born May 16, 1968 — Stephen Mangan, 54. Voiced Bigwig, Silverweed and Shale in the 1999 Watership Down series, Green Javelins in the Hyperdrive SF comedy series, and Dirk Gently in that series after the pilot. Last year, he was the lead in A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic.
Born May 16, 1969 — David Boreanaz, 53. Am I the only one that thought Angel was for the most part a better series than Buffy? And the perfect episode was I think “Smile Time” when Angel gets turned into a puppet. It even spawned its own rather great toy line. He’s currently Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Jason Hayes on SEAL Team which has migrated to Paramount + which means that the adult language barrier has been shattered so it’s quite amusing to hear a very foul mouthed Boreanaz.
Born May 16, 1977 — Lynn Collins, 45. She was an excellent Dejah Thoris in the much underrated John Carter. Her first genre role was Assistant D.A. Jessica Manning on the very short lived horror UPN drama Hauntings, and she showed up in True Blood as Dawn Green. She survived longer on The Walking Dead as Leah Shaw. Back to films, she was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine as Kayla Silverfox, Rim of The World as Major Collins and Blood Creek as Barb.
(13) GEORGE PÉREZ APPRECIATION.[Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, David Betancourt has an appreciation for George Pérez. He notes that Perez was proud of his Puerto Rican heritage and was proud of creating with Bill Mantlo the first Puerto Rican superhero, the White Tiger, whose first appearance was in The Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu #19 in 1975. “George Pérez was the master of the big comic-book moment”.
… And on the page, the storytelling power of Pérez’s pencils was fueled by the undeniable joy that came through in every panelhe ever illustrated. To flip through the pages of his decades of work with Marvel and DC Comics as well as independent projects was to know this man was born to draw superheroes.
As comics changed over the years, his art style remained classic — subtle and sophisticated. He never bowed to the pressure to draw oversexualized heroines in suggestive positions or heroes who looked as if they took superhero performance enhancers, which were the norms for many publishers in the very extreme 1990s….
(14) A MASTER’S VOICE. Frank Frazetta was an Illustrators of the Future Contest judge from its inception until he passed away in 2010. The contest recently made available a short video featuring him: “Advice from a Master: Frank Frazetta”.
The first “Doctor Strange” film introduced an idiosyncratic character by means of an apt cinematic peculiarity, but its sequel, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” squeezes the character into the Marvel franchise by trimming away all the whimsy. The strength of the first “Doctor Strange” is the embrace of its protagonist’s weirdness, which enshrines him among the franchise’s fictional personalities. The sequel is conservative: the weirdness is reined in, and the narrative’s symbolic loose ends are replaced by chains that bind it to other characters and story lines from the Marvel stable.….
L.Frank Baum’s book “”The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”” was first published in 1900 and was a hit from the get-go. While the story was first adapted for Broadway in 1903 and for film in 1910, it is probably the 1939 film starring Judy Garland that most people think of when one mentions The Wizard of Oz. In this episode we’ll explore some of the more fanciful parts of the story and dive deep into tornadoes, flying witches, hot air balloons and – what about those flying monkeys?
…Oliver said he’d normally bring out a mascot to show how “terrible and horrifying” utilities are.
But he didn’t have to in this case.
“They already made a murderous hell-demon almost 100 years ago,” he said, referring to an extremely creepy long-ago mascot for power companies called Reddy Kilowatt.
He regretted it almost instantly.
“I could kill you right now and there’s nothing anyone could do about it,” Reddy Kilowatt declared.
Then, he did exactly that….
(18) UPON A STAR. Tella is an animated film, directed by Zachary Conlu, about a little girl and her unusual new pet.
A lost girl gets a surprise visit from a fallen star that seems to give no notice of her…
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This Eddie Izzard sketch of what happened when Darth Vader showed up in the Death Star cafeteria may have 28 million views, but it’s never appeared in File 770! (From 2008.)
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
You have edited many of Tolkien’s own manuscripts, such as The Story of Kullervo, On Fairy-Stories, Smith of Wootton Major, and The Lay of Aotrou & Itroun. What must an editor be ready to deal with when facing a Tolkien’s manuscript?
His handwriting first of all. Tolkien used several scripts, ranging from a beautiful, calligraphic hand (when he was making a fair copy), to an undecipherable scribble when the ideas were coming thick and fast and he was hurrying to catch up with them. There have been words and sometimes whole sentences, especially in the drafts of “On Fairy-stories” that I simply could not read.
…In the last weeks of 2021 I attempted to write just one more chapter of the Debarkle series. It was poor timing and that additional chapter quickly spun out of control. So I put it aside and decided to return to it later on.
The reason for the chapter was twofold. The initiating issue was the surprise sponsorship of the 2021 Worldcon by the infamous arms manufacture/aerospace company Raytheon. There are many unanswered questions about this sponsorship including what the financial arrangement was and the timing of the decision. The program book of the convention did not list Raytheon as a sponsor and while there was (apparently) a Raytheon booth at the convention, the primary publicity given to the company (specifically the Raytheon Intelligence & Space division) was at the start of the live-streamed Hugo Award ceremony.
The subsequent controversy embroiled not just the Washington DC-based convention but the Hugo Awards and the Hugo finalists as well…
Over the past 40 years, Vladimir Sorokin’s work has punctured nearly every imaginable political and social taboo in Russia.
… “A Russian writer has two options: Either you are afraid, or you write,” he said in an interview last month. “I write.”
Sorokin is widely regarded as one of Russia’s most inventive writers, an iconoclast who has chronicled the country’s slide toward authoritarianism, with subversive fables that satirize bleak chapters of Soviet history, and futuristic tales that capture the creeping repression of 21st-century Russia. But despite his reputation as both a gifted postmodern stylist and an unrepentant troublemaker, he remains relatively unknown in the West. Until recently, just a handful of his works had been published in English, in part because his writing can be so challenging to translate, and so hard to stomach. Now, four decades into his scandal-scorched career, publishers are preparing to release eight new English-language translations of his books.
… He is a master of mimicry and subverting genre tropes, veering from arch postmodern political satire (“The Queue”) to esoteric science fiction (“The Ice Trilogy”) to alternate histories and futuristic cyberpunk fantasies (“Telluria”).
Disney and the MCU have fallen foul of Gulf censors once more.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Marvel’s long-awaited follow-up to the hit 2016 superhero film starring Benedict Cumberbatch, has been banned in Saudi Arabia. Rumors began emerging online early on Friday, with The Hollywood Reporter now officially confirming the decision. THR has heard that the ban also applies to Kuwait, although this hasn’t yet been confirmed.
While the film is yet to be released and also hasn’t yet been reviewed, the decision is once again said to be related to LGBTQ issues, according to Middle East sources, with the new sequel introducing the character America Chavez (played by Xochitl Gomez) who, as per her portrayal in the comics, is gay. With homosexuality officially illegal across the Gulf, films that feature any LGBTQ references or issues often fail to get past censors….
… The film follows on the heels of Chloé Zhao’s Eternals, which was banned across much of the Gulf in November following the inclusion of a same-gender couple in the film and the MCU’s first gay superhero. At the time, THR understood that censors had requested a series of edits to be made that Disney was not willing to make. An edited version did screen in the U.A.E., however….
…So far, everything discovered at the LHC – including the Higgs – has fallen in line with the so-called standard model. This has been the guiding theory of particle physics since the 1970s but is known to be incomplete because it fails to explain some of the deepest mysteries in physics, such as the nature of dark matter.
However, data collected in the LHCb experiment, one of four huge particle detectors at Cern in Switzerland, appeared to show particles behaving in a way that could not be explained by the standard model.
The experiment looked at the decay of particles called beauty quarks, which are predicted to decay at an equal rate into electrons and their heavier cousins, muons. However, the beauty quarks appeared to be turning into muons 15% less often, suggesting that an unknown factor – potentially a new force – was tipping the scales. Two of the top candidates include hypothetical force-carrying particles called leptoquarks or Z primes.
“The stakes are extremely high,” Patel said. “If we confirm this, it will be a revolution of the kind we’ve not seen – certainly in my lifetime. You don’t want to mess it up.”…
… Spielberg told [Ben] Mankiewicz that he started working on a script focused specifically on his parents’ split in 1976, around the time he was filming another alien-themed project, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. “We were shooting the scene in Mobile, Alabama, where the extraterrestrial comes down from the ship and does the hand signs with Francois Truffaut,” he detailed. “I suddenly thought, wait a second, what if that little creature never went back to the ship?”
The idea took some years to develop, eventually leading him to Mathison. Spielberg recalled that the pair worked on the script while he was editing Raiders of the Lost Ark in Marina del Rey with editor Michael Kahn. “We would spend two hours a day for five days and she would go off and write pages and come back,” Spielberg continued of their process, crediting the late scribe with coming up with memorable moments, like E.T.’s telekinesis. “There were so many details for character that Melissa brought into my world from her world.”…
Comics and cartoons often are the best teaching tools. Not just because pictures are worth a thousand complicated and confounding words, but with a combo of drawings and words you get the picture—see what I mean?! This concept is no better illustrated than in this gem of a training booklet illustrated by none other than the creator of “The Spirit” comics, Will Eisner. Produced by the U.S. Army in 1944, it’s an instruction pamphlet for young pilots to master the basics of safe flying, complete with two quizzes and two pages of “Slanguage” at the end….
(8) FANHISTORY IN NEW ENGLAND. Fanac.org has made available video of a panel from the sixth FanHistoriCon in 1997, “From MITSFS to NESFA to MCFI” with Ed Meskys, Richard Harter, Tony Lewis and Hal Clement.
FanHistoriCon 6 was held February 13-16, 1997 in conjunction with Boskone 34 in Framingham, MA. In this 35 minute excerpt of the panel “From MITSFS to NESFA to MCFI”. Ed Meskys, Richard Harter, Tony Lewis and Hal Clement tell us stories of Boston area fandom from the Stranger Club in the 1940s, through area fandom’s evolution by way of conventions, MIT and worldcon bids to NESFA and MCFI in the 90s.
Beginning with the readers’ club of the 40s and giving way to the more active projects of MITSFS and NESFA, the panel fondly remembers the people and pastimes that were the substance of Boston area fandom.
Anecdotes mention well known names such as L. Ron Hubbard and Hugo Gernsback, the price of an interior illo from Amazing Magazine in the 1940s, and the storybook romance of Larry Niven and Fuzzy Pink.
You’ll learn the rules of the MITSFS game “Insanity”, the originally proposed name for NESFA, the origins of Locus and much more. You’ll even get a first hand report of why/how Hal Clement was “fired” from the Noreascon 1 committee.
If you’re interested in 20th century Boston fandom, here’s your chance to listen to four of the folks that made it happen.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1992 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Razul: You are a student of Egypt, but you are not one of its sons. And until you have heard what I have heard and seen what I have seen, I would not expect you to believe that such a thing as a curse could be true, but it is.
Sam: 3500-year-old dead men don’t just get up and walk around.
Thirty years ago this evening, Quantum Leap’s “The Curse of Ptah-Hotep” first aired on NBC. In 1957, Sam leaps into the body of Dale Conway, an American archaeologist at a dig in Egypt just as he and his partner Ginny Will discover the tomb of Ptah-Hotep. A sand storm traps them deep in the tomb’s inner chambers.
You think that they made up this particular Egypt royal person but no, he was quite real. Ptahhotep, sometimes known as Ptahhotep I or Ptahhotpe, was an ancient Egyptian vizier during the late 25th century BC and early 24th century BC Fifth Dynasty of Egypt.
The curse that forms the story here was evidently a real one that affected a number of archeological digs undertaken here. And it is worth definitely worth noting that Sam, throughout the entire series, thoroughly disbelieves in the supernatural, except for the force has him leaping around and that could be science. He frequently tells Al not to be superstitious about anything. But here he certainly seems to take the resurrected mummies in this episode as a given.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 22, 1902 — Philip Latham. Name used by astronomer Robert Shirley Richardson on his genre work. His novels were largely first published in Astounding starting in the Forties, with the exception of his children’s SF novels that were published in Space Science Fiction Magazine. He also wrote a few scripts for Captain Video, the predecessor of Captain Video and his Video Rangers. His Comeback novel starts this way: “When Parkhurst heard the announcement that climaxed the science fiction convention, he found that he’d been right, years ago when he had faith in science-fictionists’ dreams. But, in another way, he’d been wrong . . .: It’s available at the usual digital suspects for a buck. (Died 1981.)
Born April 22, 1934 — Sheldon Jaffery. An editor and bibliographer of pulps whose non-fiction work and genre anthologies are both fascinating. Among the latter are such publications as Sensuous Science Fiction From the Weird and Spicy Pulps and The Weirds: A Facsimile Selection of Fiction From the Era of the Shudder Pulps, and from the former are Future and Fantastic Worlds: Bibliography of DAW Books, The Arkham House Companion: Fifty Years of Arkham House and Collector’s Index to Weird Tales. (Died 2003.)
Born April 22, 1937 — Jack Nicholson, 85. I think my favorite role for him in a genre film was as Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick. Other genre roles include Jack Torrance in The Shining, Wilbur Force in The Little Shop of Horrors, Rexford Bedlo in The Raven, Andre Duvalier in The Terror, (the previous three films are all Roger Corman productions), Will Randall in Wolf, President James Dale / Art Land in Mars Attacks! and Jack Napier aka The Joker in Tim Burton’s The Batman.
Born April 22, 1944 — Damien Broderick, 78. Australian writer of over seventy genre novels. It is said that The Judas Mandala novel by him contains the first appearance of the term “virtual reality”. He’s won five Ditmar Awards, a remarkable achievement. I know I’ve read several novels by him including Godplayers and K-Machines which are quite good. The latter won an Aurealis Award for Excellence in Speculative Fiction
Born April 22, 1959 — Catherine Mary Stewart, 63. Her first genre role was Maggie Gordon in The Last Starfighter followed by beingMiranda Dorlac in Nightflyers and she played Sukie Ridgemont in the TV version of The Witches of Eastwick. She has one-offs in Mr. Merlin, Knight Rider and The Outer Limits.
Born April 22, 1977 — Kate Baker, 45. Non-fiction editor, podcast director /narrator for Clarkesworld. She won the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine twice, and the World Fantasy Award’s Special Award: Non Professional in 2014, all alongside the rest of the editorial staff of Clarkesworld. She’s a writer of three short genre stories, the latest of which, “No Matter Where; Of Comfort No One Speak”, you can hear it here. Warning for subject matter: abuse and suicide.
Born April 22, 1978 — Manu Intiraymi, 44. He played the former Borg Icheb on the television series Star Trek: Voyager. A role that he played a remarkable eleven times. And this Birthday research led me to discovering yet another video Trek fanfic, this time in guise of Star Trek: Renegades inwhich he reprised his role. Any Trekkies here watch this?
Born April 22, 1984 — Michelle Ryan, 38. She had the odd honor of being a Companion to the Tenth Doctor as Lady Christina de Souza for just one story, “Planet of the Dead”. She had a somewhat longer genre run as the rebooted Bionic Woman that lasted eight episodes, and early in her career, she appeared as the sorceress Nimueh in BBC’s Merlin. FinallyI’ll note sheplayed Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in BBC’s Learning project, Off By Heart Shakespeare.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Far Side makes a grotesque Peter, Paul & Mary reference.
(12) E. E. SMITH REFERENCE IN THE NEW YORK TIMES(!) [Item by David Goldfarb.] Every two weeks the NYT puts up an acrostic puzzle put together by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon. The one for April 24th has as clue I, 7 letters:
Kind of beam in the 1947 novel “Spacehounds of IPC”
This is a novel I would have thought little-remembered! (Alas, my first guess based on Lensman, PRIMARY, turned out to be incorrect.)
(13) SIGNS OF THE FUTURE. Michael Okuda, the graphic designer known for his work on Star Trek, told Facebook readers how he found the answer to something he wanted to know about the bridge:
I had always wondered: If the famously-unlabeled buttons on the TOS bridge had been labeled, would those labels have been visible? In 2005, I did an experiment during the filming of “In A Mirror, Darkly” (ENT). For this experiment, I had hundreds of small clear labels printed with small numeric codes. I asked Alan Kobayashi to stick them onto most of the backlit “jellybean” buttons on the re-created TOS Enterprise bridge set, thereby labeling each button….
Thanks to an ensemble celebrity cast and lavish location shoots that can take over an entire mall, Stranger Things has always had the feel of a big-budget, Steven Spielberg-inspired show. But the Hawkins arcade would need to collect more than just a truckload of quarters to cover the eye-popping cost of the series’ long-awaited fourth season.
A recent report at The Wall Street Journal reveals that Netflix is turning its wallet Upside Down and inside out to bring Stranger Things 4 to life, spending an average of $30 million on each of the smash hit series’ nine new episodes. That far eclipses the princely $13 million per-episode sum commanded by Season 4 of The Crown, the previously-reported most expensive show in the streamer’s original-series lineup….
… If you’re wondering how HBO managed to keep the cost of “House of the Dragon” Season 1 from rising too much above what it paid for the final season of “Game of Thrones,” especially with even more CGI dragons expected to be flying around, the production insider says HBO is now so adept at these world-building series through years of not just “GoT,” but also producing “Westworld” and “His Dark Materials,” that the team can make a high-quality series as efficiently and effectively as possible….
(16) EVERYTHING AND MORE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the March 20 New York Times Magazine, Alexandra Kleeman profiles Everything Everywhere All At Once star Michelle Yeoh, who explains why doing a multiverse movie (in which she plays a hibachi chef, a laundromat store owner, and a universe where everyone has fingers that look like Twinkies) was a stretch for her in a career that has taken her from Hong Kong super action movies to James Bond to Crazy Rich Asians. “Michelle Yeoh’s Quantum Leaps”.
… Approaching a role that bounds gleefully across so many modes and genres put Yeoh to the test. She showed me a photo of her script, dutifully flagged with adhesive tabs that denoted the genre of each scene she appears in (action sequences, comedic scenes, heavy-duty drama): The stack of pages bristled with color, like a wildly blooming flower. She experimented with different kinds of sticky notes. “With the fat ones, they were overlapping so much. So, I had to get the skinny ones,” she told me. “Oh, my God, it was a whole creative process. And then when I finished, I looked at it and go, Oh, my God, I’m in serious trouble.”…
…Sources confirmed to Deadline TMZ‘s report from earlier this week that the investigation was launched after the 84-year-old actor had been accused of sexual harassment, including making inappropriate comments to a female co-star on set during work.
Langella led the cast of The Fall of the House of Usher, which also stars Carla Gugino, Mary McDonnell, Carl Lumbly and Mark Hamill.
The eight-episode series is described as an epic tale of greed, horror and tragedy. Poe’s short story The Fall of the House of Usher, which serves as the basis for the show, features themes of madness, family, isolation and identity.
Roderick Usher, the role previously played by Langella that now is being recast, is the towering patriarch of the Usher dynasty….
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has captured dramatic footage of Phobos, Mars’ potato-shaped moon, crossing the face of the Sun. These observations can help scientists better understand the moon’s orbit and how its gravity pulls on the Martian surface, ultimately shaping the Red Planet’s crust and mantle.
Captured with Perseverance’s next-generation Mastcam-Z camera on April 2, the 397th Martian day, or sol, of the mission, the eclipse lasted a little over 40 seconds – much shorter than a typical solar eclipse involving Earth’s Moon. (Phobos is about 157 times smaller than Earth’s Moon. Mars’ other moon, Deimos, is even smaller.)
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The How It Should Have Ended gang takes on The Batman, answering such questions as, “If he’s The Batman, why does he say his name is vengenance?” and “Why does Superman show up in inappropriate moments?”
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, David Goldfarb, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
Whenever I go on book tour, I like to write up a short story to read at the events; a thank you, as it were, to the people who show up, who get to hear me read something no one else has gotten to yet. …
… This year, the short story I wrote (which I performed first on the 2022 edition of the JoCo Cruise) is called “Grizzly Bear Conflict Manager,” and it comes with a backstory, which is, there’s an actual job with the US National Park Service called a Grizzly Bear Conflict Manager. This job was pointed out to me by a friend who works with the park service; they were going to go into detail about the job actually entailed, but I stopped them before they could do so. “No, no,” I said. “I want to write a story about this job, and I do not want it sullied by mere facts.”
Thus, this story is a fanciful interpretation of what I imagine a Grizzly Bear Conflict Manager does, which I am almost entirely certain has nothing to do with what someone with this job actually does…
(2) PRECIOUS MOMENTS. Andy Serkis returns as Gollum in the new audiobook of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
Award-winning actor Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit) returns to Middle-earth this September in the brand new unabridged audiobook of J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings. In this scene, he reprises his role as Gollum.
…Certain topics are perennial. The Tudors, for example, seem always in fashion. So, too, the Romans. The latter are split into two camps: the pulpier sword-and-sandal novels of war and great deeds, emperors and kings, and the “quieter” histories that also bear some resemblance to romance novels. Scottish books are still holding steady, with their shirtless Highlanders and fiery gingers. Civil War novels have all but vanished, and there are a few Revolutionary era out there. I’ve seen more set in medieval India that I’d previously noticed.
Discordant to me, the Sixties have edged into historical fiction. The 1960s. The decade of my birth. This reminds me I’m slowly fossilizing ….
…FRANKENSTEIN, published in 1818, established Mary Shelley’s monster as a permanent icon of horror, and is considered by many to be the first true science fiction novel. Yet The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century, published nine years later, has a much stronger claim to that position. It was also the first work of fiction to feature an Egyptian mummy restored to life, but it was too far ahead of its time to become the foundational text for the later wave of horror featuring vengeful mummies.
Despite some Gothic flourishes, The Mummy! is not strictly a tale of horror. It does not deal in ancient curses or dark magic, and if at first the mummy of Cheops appears as a grim, imposing figure with flashing eyes and an eerie laugh, striking terror into the hearts of all who see him, he turns out to be a strangely helpful Machiavellian operator as he swiftly involves himself in political machinations following the death of Queen Claudia in twenty-second century London….
(5) IF YOU WANT OGRES.The Hugo Book Club Blog reviews Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Ogres in “Monstrously Wealthy”. Maybe you’d like to read it, too? They have three copies to give away. Here’s what you need to do.
(6) Q&A WITH NOMMO NOMINEES. The BSFA interviews past nominees for the Nommo Awards: Innocent Chizaram Ilo; Tlotlo Tsamaase; Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki; Tochi Onyebuchi; NIkhil Singh; Stephen Embleton.
Spiner has played several characters on “Picard” in Season 1 and 2 (which is currently streaming), including his original role of the android Data; Frakes and Sirtis appeared in one memorable episode of “Picard” in Season 1 as William T. Riker and Deanna Troi. And Whoopi Goldberg reprised her role as Guinan in the Season 2 premiere. But this will be the first time the main “TNG” cast — including Burton as Geordi La Forge, Dorn as Worf, and McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher — has performed on screen together since the 2002 feature film “Star Trek: Nemesis.”
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1974 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-six years ago, the Golden Voyage of Sinbad premiered in the United States on this day. It was based as these things are somewhat loosely upon on Sinbad the Sailor from One Thousand and One Nights, better known as the Arabian Nights.
It was directed by Gordon Hessler, previously known for his long association with the Alfred Hitchcock Presents series. It was scripted by him from a story by himself and Ray Harryhausen who of course did the special effects here. Harryhausen and Charles Schneer, whose career was spent mostly working with Hartyhausen, produced it.
It has a cast of John Phillip Law, Tom Baker, Takis Emmanuel, Caroline Munro, Douglas Wilmer and Martin Shaw. Munro was given the female lead, though they had to hew to a G rating here. And it is said that Baker’s performance in this film was what landed him the role of the Fourth Doctor, because the show’s producer, Barry Letts, was impressed with his performance here.
So how was the reception at the time for it?
Well, Time magazine (remember them?) rather liked it though Baker they did not: “The movie is short on talk, except for the windbag wizard (Tom Baker) who plays the villain, and long on action, quite the proper proportion for entertainments like this. Sinbad is light, silly fun, and kids will probably appreciate both the skillful technique of the fantasy and the fact that the film makers have had the good sense not to include a single—yecchh!—kissing scene.”
And Variety was likewise impressed: “As with producer Charles H. Schneer’s Jason and the Argonauts, Ray Harryhausen encores as coproducer and special effects collaborator. Among his creations: an animated ship’s figurehead, a grotesque centaur, a many-armed religious idol and swordplay adversary, and a couple of small bat-like creatures performing intelligence duty for the black artsy heavy of the piece. Good enough conjuring tricks to impress the kids. Neither story nor running time are belabored under Gordon Hessler’s capable direction. And the play-acting is up to snuff for this kind of throwback, in which John Phillip Law impersonates Sinbad with appealing understatement.”
Currently it holds decent though not outstanding sixty-four percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. You can purchase or rent it pretty much anywhere.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 5, 1909 — Albert Broccoli. American film producer responsible for all the Bond films up to Licence to Kill, either by himself or in conjunction with others. He also was the producer of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and executive produced The Gamma People which is in the public domain, so you can see it here. (Died 1996.)
Born April 5, 1916 — Bernard Baily. A comics writer, editor and publisher. Best remembered as co-creator of The Spectre and Hourman. For DC Comics precursor National Comics, Baily co-created and drew the adventure feature “Tex Thomson” in Action Comics #1 (June 1938), the landmark comic book that introduced Superman. In 1943, he founded his own studio. Among the artists who started out in the industry there were Frank Frazetta, Carmine Infantino and Gil Kane. (Died 1996.)
Born April 5, 1917 — Robert Bloch. His Wiki page says he’s best known as the writer of Psycho, but I’ll guarantee that only film geeks and many of y’all know that. I know him best as the writer of the Trek “Wolf in the Fold” episode, one of three Trek episodes he did. His Night of the Ripper novel is highly recommended. And I know “That Hellbound Train” which won him first Hugo at Detention is the piece by him that I’ve read the most. He received a special committee award at L.A. Con II, where they were honored him for fifty years as SF professional. Impressive indeed. And yes, he’s a member of First Fandom as he should be. (Died 1994.)
Born April 5, 1926 — Roger Corman, 96. Ahhhh, popcorn films! (See popcorn literature for what I mean.) Monster from the Ocean Floor in the early Fifties was his first such film and Death Race: Beyond Anarchy was his final film just a few years back. He’s a man who even produced a film called, errr, Munchies. A Worldcon guest of honor in 1996. A very, very long career.
Born April 5, 1933 — Frank Gorshin. To my amazement, I’ve not written him up before! He of course played The Riddler eleven times on The Batman counting the film. And he appeared on Star Trek playing Bele in “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”, though I’ll be damn if I remember which of the two he was. He had one-offs on The Munsters, Wonder Woman, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (well a two-parter there), Monsters, Are You Afraid of the Dark, The Ren & Stimpy Show (voice role), Black Scorpion and coming full circle finally voicing Professor Hugo Strange on The Batman. One of the figure companies is doing a one-sixth scale figure of his Riddler this Autumn. (Died 2005.)
Born April 5, 1950 — Anthony Horowitz, 72. He wrote five episodes of Robin of Sherwood, and he was both creator and writer of Crime Traveller. He’s also written both Bond and Holmes novels. If you can find a copy, Richard Carpenter’s Robin of Sherwood: The Hooded Man is a very nice fleshing out of that series in literary form.
Born April 5, 1950 — A.C. Crispin. She wrote several Trek and Star Wars novelizations and created her series called Starbridge which was heavily influenced by Trek. She also co-wrote several Witch World novels, Gryphon’s Eyrie and Songsmith, with Andre Norton. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom was her last novel prior to her death from bladder cancer while in hospice care. (Died 2013.)
Born April 5, 1965 — Deborah Harkness, 57. She’s the author of the All Souls Trilogy, which consists of A Discovery of Witches and its sequels Shadow of Night and The Book of Life. I listened to the Jennifer Ikeda-narrated audiobooks which are an amazing experience. Highly recommended as Harkness tells a remarkable story here with lots of Library-related material. I’m not even fond ’tall of vampires in any form and hers actually are both appealing and make sense. I’ve not seen the series made from the novels.
Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations maps the varied landscape of SF produced during the turbulence of the post-WWII to the mid-1980s world. I am fascinated by the ways authors responded to the advent of nuclear weapons, the rise of 50s suburbia and commercialism, the Civil Rights movement, the Counterculture and radical student politics, the Vietnam War, and the 1970s political backlash. I chart what’s produced in a specific time and territory to understand the people who dwelled at that moment—their dreams for the future, their fears of the present, and all the manifestations of estrangement and elation generated by a rapidly transforming world. Science fiction is a fantastic way to get at the zeitgeist of an era.
I am particularly receptive to New Wave science fiction of the late 60s and early 70s that attempted to tackle our oblique interiors via radical structure/politics, non-standard characters and perspectives, and experimental prose. Sometimes it’s beautiful. Sometimes it doesn’t work. But it’s all fascinating.
(13) CUT-AND-PAST. The 2014 trailer for graduate film student Ricky Kennedy’s feature length film “The History of Time Travel” is news to me!
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Ghost Rider 1 and 2,” the Screen Junkies say the two Ghost Rider movies “Feel like going on a 48-hour Coke bender with Nick Cage. They’re a bad idea, but still pretty fun.” The two films are “loud, fun, and barely make sense. They’re dumb, but comic books are dumb.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Chris Barkley, Cora Buhlert, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]
(1) BIG GREEN NUMBERS. Brandon Sanderson shares a lot of information about his successful Kickstarter and his progress on other projects in “Some FAQs You Might Enjoy”. Also includes a long analysis of Amazon’s effect on his business.
How Are You Going to Spend the Money?
I got this question from the journalist from the Associated Press who interviewed me. He gave an excellent interview, and we had a really great conversation. But this question stopped me for a moment. It’s a valid question, but it took me by surprise, as I haven’t been looking at this the way that some people seem to be. I didn’t hit the lottery, any more than any other business hits the lottery when they have a product that connects with their market.
I will spend the money as I spend the rest of my money. Part into savings, part into paying salaries (along with nice extra bonuses because the Kickstarter did well), part reinvested into the company. (We’re still planning on building a physical bookstore, and this will help accelerate those plans. Also, it’s not outside of reason that as I move into doing more film and TV, I will want to partially fund some of the projects.)
While this Kickstarter is an incredible event, and (don’t get me wrong) is going to earn me a good chunk of money, it’s going to be comparable to other projects I’ve done. Also, don’t underestimate how much money it costs to maintain the infrastructure (like a warehouse–or in this case, probably more than one) it takes to be able to ship several hundred thousand books. It will likely be years before we can be certain how much this actually earned us after all expenses. More than we’d get from New York on the same books, but potentially not that much more.
That said, I will almost certainly buy myself some nice Magic cards. Still have a few unlimited duals in my cube that could use an upgrade to black border.
Did You Anticipate This Level of Success for the Kickstarter?
I did not. I knew the potential was there, but I didn’t think it (getting to this astronomical number of backers) would happen.
My guess was that we’d land somewhere in the 2–4 million range, though I really had no idea. My team can attest to the fact that in the lead-up, I was very conservative in my estimates and expectations. This was an experiment from us that I’d been wanting to try for a while. (I’ll talk more about that below.) I didn’t have any idea how well it would go.
…How many of those potential 250k–800k people who normally buy a Sanderson book in the first year could be convinced instead to move and preorder it through Kickstarter? Our guesses, it turned out, were way low. But at the same time, it is interesting that (not disregarding our huge success, which I’m not at all complaining about) even this huge Kickstarter breaking all records is only grabbing a fraction of my normal audience. So maybe you can see why we knew we had potential, but were conservative in our estimates. …
There is also much inside baseball about what indie authors have to face:
…These days, according to some of my indie author friends, you have to spend a great deal to sell on Amazon. Not everyone’s experience is the same, but I hear this time and time again. To make it as an indie author, you need to shell out for expensive advertising on the very website selling your books. I have indie author friends who are spending a good portion of their income on these advertisements–and if they don’t, their sales vanish. Amazon has effectively created a tax where indie authors pay back a chunk of that glorious 70% royalty to Amazon. (And this is for the authors lucky enough to be allowed to buy those advertising spots, and therefore have the chance at selling.)….
…Regardless, this has been bothering me for over a decade. I feel that the current system has a gun to my head. Heck, all that has to happen is for someone at Amazon read this blog post or see my Kickstarter and decide they just want to make an example out of me. Poof. 85% of my sales gone. And while some people might go to another vendor to get my books, the painful truth is that many would not. Time and time again, studies of contemporary tech media consumption have shown that the person who controls the platform is the one who controls the market. …
… Right now, no one except for possibly the Hugo administrators knows who those finalists will be. However, sometime in the next two weeks or so, some of you will receive an e-mail from Chicon 8, informing you that you are a finalist for the 2022 Hugo Award and asking you whether you want to accept the nomination. Some of you will have received such e-mails before, for others it will be the first time.
But whether it’s your first or your twentieth nomination, congratulations! That’s awesome.
(3) UNIVERSE WILL KEEP EXPANDING. Sharon Lee’s biggest news in “Liaden Universe® Updates” is that she and Steve Miller have accepted an additional three book contract with Baen for Liaden novels.
…The contract’s call-name is Traveler’s Trio, and we have no idea where those novels will take us, yet, but we do have delivery dates. Those are:
Traveler’s Trio ONE: September 2024 Traveler’s Trio TWO: September 2025 Traveler’s Trio THREE: September 2026
Note A: In September 2026, I will be 74 years old. Steve will have celebrated his 76th birthday three months prior. This by way of reassuring those folks who have been worrying about our retirement that, err — writers don’t retire. At least, writers at our level of the game don’t retire.
Here ends the Updatery.
(4) GUNN CENTER EVENTS. The Gunn Center for the Study of SF has posted the selections and dates for the next several meetings of their virtual book club, and another event. Zoom info and further details at the links.
Discussion of Angelline Boulley’s young adult thriller, Firekeeper’s Daughter. More aligned with conversations about Indigenous belief systems and spirituality than conventional science fiction; also in anticipation of the Paper Plains festival. Co-sponsored with Haskell Indian Nations University, KU’s First Nations Student Association, and others. Teens welcome!
…When the Tolkien Estate recently presented their newly revamped website, it did not take fans long to see past the new artwork and other features to find that the Tolkien Estate has a policy on fanworks. The past several days have seen a whirl of discussion about what it all means that can be distilled down to a single burning question:
Did the Tolkien Estate just ban fanworks?
In short, no, the Tolkien Estate did not just ban fanworks. The fanworks you have posted, are in the middle of creating, or are even thinking about creating are not affected by what the Estate says on their website.
The longer answer depends on if you’re interested in the just or the ban part of that question (or maybe both!). While the following is not legal advice, we hope it will lessen the worry that the existence of fanworks is in jeopardy. As always, bear in mind that laws vary from country to country. If you have specific concerns, the Organization for Transformative Works’ legal committee, while unable to give legal advice, can answer questions you might have.
The article contains an extensive history of the Estate’s policies towards fanworks. The writers come to this paradoxical conclusion:
…The Tolkien Estate is anti-fanwork and always has been. For all that the “other minds and hands” quote gets tossed about by fans eager to believe that Tolkien would have condoned their activities, Tolkien himself was anti-fanwork when it came to his books,2 unless it was something that he liked. This has neither changed nor prevented Tolkien fanworks from being made in the almost seven decades since The Lord of the Rings was published…
(6) OMELAS. The Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog tweeted a crusher yesterday. There are nine tweets in the thread, which starts here.
“Something I wanted to always do. Invent instruments that don’t exist. Invent sounds that don’t exist.” Hans Zimmer, ‘Dune’ composer, gives his in-depth analysis and insider’s look at how the score was created for Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 film.
(8) MORE FROM DISCON III. Morgan Hazelwood posted her notes from the DisCon III panel “Ask An Editor: Longform Writing” with participants George Jreije, Katherine Crighton, Navah Wolfe, and Trevor Quachri, plus Joshua Bilmes as moderator. (The material is also presented in a YouTube video.)
The description for this panel was as follows:
What makes a good novel? How do you know it’s ready? Where should you send it and how should you respond to comments? This is your chance to ask burning questions to a panel of respected agents and editors.
Library of Congress curator Sara Duke and I were supposed to have lunch two years ago, way back in March of 2020, but then … something happened. I suspect you can guess what that something was. We finally managed to break bread — or rather, share Pad See Ew — last week at D.C.’s Young Chow Chinese restaurant.
Sara Duke has been at the Library of Congress for more than 30 years, the past 23 as the curator of Popular and Applied Graphic Art in the Prints and Photographs Division. She’s in charge of cartoons, documentary drawings, and ephemera. Starting with Blondie Gets Married in 2000, she’s been responsible for curating many exhibits relating to popular culture, including Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels and Pages, and most recently, Geppi’s Gems.
We discussed the first piece of artwork she longed to get her hands on after a 13-month pandemic absence, our joint loathing of slabbed comics, the misconceptions many people have about the Library of Congress, the things most people no longer remember about Blondie, her comic book exhibit cancelled by COVID, the serendipitous way a PhD in 17th century Irish history led to her becoming a curator, her early (and continuing) love of MAD magazine, and much more.
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1981 — [Item by Cat Eldridge] On this evening forty-one years ago, the show that Warner Bros. sued for copyright infringement in Warner Bros. Inc. v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. premiered on ABC. The Greatest American Hero starred William Katt as teacher Ralph Hinkley in a suit that allowed him to fly and which looked sort of like that Super-Hero. The Court ruled, “as a matter of law, The Greatest American Hero’ is not sufficiently similar to the fictional character Superman.”
It was created by producer Stephen J. Cannell and was his only genre undertaking.
The rest of the regular cast consisted of just Robert Culp as FBI agent Bill Maxwell and Connie Sellecca as lawyer Pam Davidson. ABC wasn’t going to deal with a bloated salary line here. Culp of course had been Kelly Robinson on I Spy, but more importantly was in The Outer Limits episode “Demon with a Glass Hand”, written by Harlan Ellison. Sellecca played Pamela Edwards in a recurring role in the Beyond Westworld series.
It would last three seasons and have a proper conclusion in which the story was wrapped up. That conclusion lead to the pilot for another series which was not picked up by another network. A reboot with a female lead was in the works at ABC several years back but not even a pilot was shot.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 18, 1888 — Alexander Leydenfrost. As an illustrator, he briefly worked for Planet Stories before being signed by Life magazine where the money was better. But his quite brief tenure at Planet Stories is credited with the creation of the enduring cliche Bug Eyed Monster as that’s what his illustrations showed. (Died 1961.)
Born March 18, 1926 — Peter Graves. Star of Mission Impossible and the short lived Australian-based Mission Impossible, which if you not seen it you should as it’s damn good. I’m reasonably certain his first genre role was on Red Planet Mars playing Chris Cronyn. Later roles included Gavin Lewis on The Invaders, Major Noah Cooper on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Doug Paul Martin in Killers from Space and Paul Nelson on It Conquered the World. It’s worth noting that a number of his films are featured on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 series. (Died 2010.)
Born March 18, 1932 — John Updike. It might surprise you to learn that there are two Eastwick novels, The Witches of Eastwick and The Widows of Eastwick, the latter set some three decades after the first novel ended. No idea what it’s like as I’ve never heard of it. He wrote a number of other genre friendly novels including The Centaur, Brazil and Toward the End of Time. (Died 2009.)
Born March 18, 1950 — J.G. Hertzler, 72. He’s best known for his role on Deep Space Nine as the Klingon General (and later Chancellor) Martok. He co-authored with Jeff Lang, Left Hand of Destiny, Book 1, and Left Hand of Destiny, Book 2, which chronicle the life of his character. His very TV first role was a genre one, to wit on Quantum Leap sac Weathers Farrington in the “Sea Bride – June 3, 1954” episode. Setting aside DS9, he’s been in Zorro, Highlander, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Charmed, Roswell and Enterprise series; for film genre work, I see The Redeemer: Son of Satan, Treasure Island: The Adventure Begins and Prelude to Axanar (yet another piece of fanfic). In addition, he’s done a lot of video game voice acting, the obvious Trek work but such franchises as BioShock 2, The Golden Compass and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
Born March 18, 1959 — Luc Besson, 63. Oh, The Fifth Element, one of my favorite genre films. There’s nothing about it that I don’t like. I’ve not seen Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and comments leave me disinclined to do so. The Transporter is not genre but I recommend it as a great film none the less.
Born March 18, 1960 — Richard Biggs. Another way too young death on Babylon 5 as he appeared as Dr. Stephen Franklin, reprising the role in the final aired episode of Crusade, “Each Night I Dream of Home”. Other genre roles included playing Roger Garrett on Tremors, Hawkes In The Alien Within, An Unnamed Reporter on Beauty and the Beast, Dr. Thomson on an episode of The Twilight Zone and a Process Server in an episode of The Magical World of Disney. (Died 2004.)
Born March 18, 1961 — James Davis Nicoll, 61. A freelance game and genre reviewer. A first reader for SFBC as well. Currently he’s a blogger on Dreamwidth and Facebook, and an occasional columnist on Tor.com. In 2014, he started his website, jamesdavisnicoll.com, which is dedicated to his book reviews of works old and new; and which later added the highly entertaining Young People Read Old SFF, where that group reads and comments on prior-to-Eighties SF and fantasy.
Disney fans tend to redraw Disney characters with their unique ideas, but Jorge D. Espinosa has taken it to another level. As a talented artist, Jorge has recreated several famous Disney characters with different settings. They can be about Aurora’s hangover or Jasmine as a dancer enjoying Beyonce’s song. There is no doubt that these unique and funny drawings can make even The Beast laugh….
(13) IDIOMATIC ACCESSION. I need one of these. Don’t I? Archie McPhee’s “Murder of Crows”.
…Olden-time SF authors, limited as they were to pen and paper, typewriters, and other now archaic methods of production, and trying to sell to markets uninterested in purchasing lengthy works, often delivered works that seem startlingly concise and to the point by modern standards. There’s nothing like not having a choice to urge people to make the right choices.
However, even in this age of word processing software and publisher enthusiasm for meandering series of enormous story-fragments, there are authors who deliver short, effective books that contain within them all of the necessary narrative elements. They even include that most elusive ingredient—an actual ending. Consider these five comparatively recent examples of books that are wonderfully short and to the point….
…To demonstrate its capabilities, Webb focused on a single star, named 2MASS J17554042+6551277, more commonly known as TYC 4212-1079-1.
This bright object, around 2,000 light-years away, is just over 16 times intrinsically brighter than the Sun – a nice, clear target for Webb. A red filter was used to optimize visual contrast; and, although the telescope was just looking at the star, its instruments are so sensitive that background stars and galaxies can also be seen.
“We have fully aligned and focused the telescope on a star, and the performance is beating specifications. We are excited about what this means for science,” said Ritva Keski-Kuha, deputy optical telescope element manager for Webb at NASA Goddard….
Disney+ is taking another swing at a Muppets TV series.
The streamer, following a lengthy development process, has handed out a series order to comedy The Muppets Mayhem, with Lilly Singh set to star.
The comedy will follow the Electric Mayhem Band as it records its first-ever album. Singh will star as the human lead, Nora, the junior A&R executive who is tasked with managing and wrangling the band that originally debuted in the pilot for The Muppet Show in 1975. (Watch the band’s debut below.) Sources say the 10-episode comedy will begin filming in April.
The series — which will feature Dr. Teeth, Animal, Floyd Pepper, Janice, Zoot and Lips — is described as a music-filled journey in which the 45-year-old band comes face to face with the current-day music scene as they attempt to go platinum….
(18) ALIEN SCHOOL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Or, how to be a Thermian in six “easy“ lessons.
Digg.com has, um, dug up a short docu-feature on how the Thermans came to be so wonderfully quirky in Galaxy Quest. It’s a Class A lesson in the collaborative nature of filmmaking – where the screenwriter, director, actors, and everyone else contribute to what is eventually seen on the screen.
The singsongy, pitchy, sound of the aliens was originated by character actor Enrico Colantoni, who absolutely nailed his audition for the Thermian leader when he broke out that voice. Then they had to develop the walk, their native speech when the translator box breaks, and mannerisms for all sorts of situations. And the whole alien ensemble had to nail all of it.
Just watch the video. You’ll love it.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Dr. Giselle Anatol, Steve Miller, Danny Sichel, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) WORLDBUILDER. In George R.R. Martin’s “Random Updates and Bits o’ News” at Not A Blog, he says people who are fans of Westeros should not feel shortchanged just because Winds of Winter isn’t done.
…I did, however, get a lot of work done in 2021. An enormous amount of work, in truth; I seem to have an enormous number of projects.
(I am not complaining. I like working. Writing, editing, producing. There is nothing I like better than storytelling).
I know, I know, for many of you out there, only one of those projects matters.
I am sorry for you. They ALL matter to me.
Yes, of course I am still working on THE WINDS OF WINTER. I have stated that a hundred times in a hundred venues, having to restate it endlessly is just wearisome. I made a lot of progress on WINDS in 2020, and less in 2021… but “less” is not “none.”
The world of Westeros, the world of A SONG OF ICE & FIRE, is my number one priority, and will remain so until the story is told. But Westeros has become bigger than THE WINDS OF WINTER, or even A SONG OF ICE & FIRE. In addition to WINDS, I also need to deliver the second volume of Archmaester Gyldayn’s history, FIRE & BLOOD. (Thinking of calling that one BLOOD & FIRE, rather than just F&B, Vol 2). Got a couple hundred pages of that one written, but there’s still a long way to go. I need to write more of the Dunk & Egg novellas, tell the rest of their stories, especially since there’s a television series about them in development. There’s a lavish coffee table book coming later this year, an illustrated, condensed version of FIRE & BLOOD done with Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson (my partners on THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE), and my Fevre River art director, Raya Golden. And another book after that, a Who’s Who in Westeros. And that’s just the books.
And then “there are the successor shows,” he explains, and updates them, too.
(2) AURORA AWARDS NOMINATIONS OPEN. Members of the Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association have until March 26 to nominate works for this year’s Aurora Awards. Click here to review rules about the awards. Twelve categories are open this year and members may select up to five different works in each category.
Samantha Shannon is best known for her critically acclaimed novel The Priory of the Orange Tree. Her new book, The Mask Falling is out now via Bloomsbury Publishing. London Shah is the creative force responsible for the Light the Abyss duology, out now via Little Brown Young Readers.
The two caught up with each to discuss the heady world of writing (and also talk a bit about their new books)…
… Samantha: I’m not surprised the concept has stayed with you for years. Even as someone with a fear of the sea, I found it captivating.
London: That’s amazing; it’s always very encouraging to hear that from folk who have a fear of the sea, so thank you. I’m deeply honoured you’re a Light the Abyss fan. Yes, the sight of anything underwater, whether shipwreck, a person, ruins, or even boring infrastructure—it really didn’t matter what—always stirred such wonder and curiosity and would send me drifting off into my fantasy every time….
If you’ve ever wondered what it would have looked like if John Scalzi wrote Jurassic Park instead of Michael Chrichton, you don’t have to wonder any longer because that’s the best comparison I’m going to come up with for The Kaiju Preservation Society. The only thing we don’t have (yet) is Richard Attenborough kindly reciting his iconic lines over sweeping camera shots showing the scope of what this new world looks like while the music swells and soars….
What’s the best book you’ve ever received as a gift?
There can be more than one right answer to this question and I have a dozen. But today’s answer is “Castles and Dragons,” a collection of fairy tales given to me in 1958 or ’59 by Vidkun Thrane, a Norwegian psychologist who came to Indiana to help my father run rats through mazes. The Grimm fairy tales were too dark for me as a child, too many parents abandoning or selling or eating their children. The fairy tales in “Castles and Dragons” were the first ones that I loved unreservedly. My short story “King Rat” is all about this book and Vidkun and what stories are just too painful to tell.
… Look away from Mars for a moment and consider the films that changed the course of the industry. Not necessarily the best films ever made, but the ones that served as watershed moments. There are certain movies throughout film history that drastically shifted the tide, that gave studios and audiences a glimpse of a future that could be theirs if they reached out to touch it. The Jazz Singer (1927), Gone With the Wind (1939), Ben-Hur (1959), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Jaws (1975), Star Wars (1977), Jurassic Park (1993), Titanic (1997), The Matrix (1999), Toy Story (1999), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Avengers (2012), just to name a few.
Whether it was major leaps forward in technology, spectacle, storytelling, box office success, audience engagement or some combination of these elements, these films changed the industry and our relationship with movies, cleared the way for a glut of imitators (some more successful than others), and popularized new tools of filmmaking. When we think about films that changed the industry, we typically think about success stories, and John Carter, at least financially, was anything but….
…If it is true that, as Coydog (Damon Gupton) says in Apple TV+’s The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, “all a man is, is what he remember,” then the Ptolemy Grey (Samuel L. Jackson) we meet at the start of the story is barely a shell of who he once was. A nonagenarian suffering from dementia, he can hardly make sense of what’s happening in front of him, let alone everything else that’s happened to him over the decades. But when a drug promises to temporarily restore all of Ptolemy’s memories — to make Ptolemy the fullest version of himself, going by Coydog’s logic — the question becomes what he’ll do with that rare gift.
…Having established the intimate interiors of Ptolemy’s life, Last Days adds in a touch of the mythic around the second episode when Dr. Rubin (Walton Goggins) presents his offer. The bargain that Ptolemy strikes is a Faustian one, underlined by his habit of referring to Rubin as “Satan.” The lucidity granted by the experimental treatment will last only a few weeks, after which Ptolemy’s mind will decline faster than before; in exchange, he’ll sign over his body (though not, Ptolemy makes a point to note, his soul). Their agreement places Ptolemy in the long history of risky medical experimentation performed on Black people — which in turn fits into an even more expansive one of white capitalists using and abusing Black bodies, as also glimpsed in frequently tragic flashbacks of Coydog and a very young Ptolemy (Percy Daggs IV) in 1930s Mississippi….
(8) THE GOOD STUFF.Paste Magazine has compiled the “Best Quotes from The Last Unicorn”. Contemplate them while you’re waiting to see Peter S. Beagle at the LA Vintage Paperback Show later this month.
This March marks the 54th anniversary of the publication of one of the best fantasy novels of all time: Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. While many late Gen-Xers and elder millennials may be familiar with the (incredible) 1980s animated film, far fewer are have likely read the book upon the movie is based on, which is a bit darker a whole lot weirder….
“The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea.”
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1966 — [Item by Cat Eldridge] The first Nebulas were given in 1966, for works published in 1965. They were created by the SFWA secretary-treasurer Lloyd Biggle, Jr. He says he based them off of the Edgar Awards which are presented by the Mystery Writers of America. He wanted a ceremony similar to that of the already existing Edgar and Hugo Awards
The first ceremony consisted of four literary awards, for Novels, Novellas, Novelettes, and Short Stories, which have been presented every year since. Dune was awarded the Nebula for Best Novel whereas “He Who Shapes” took the Novella award (tied with “The Saliva Tree”) and that author took home a second Award for Best Novelette for “The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth”. The Story Story Award went to “Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman”. No, I didn’t mention authors as I know that you know who everyone is, don’t you?
Some other Awards were added over the years: Best Script which has been discontinued, Best Game Writing which is ongoing and two that considered Nebula awards, the Andre Norton Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction and the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, but are now considered official Nebula awards
Other Awards are the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award for “lifetime achievement in science fiction and/or fantasy”, the Author Emeritus for contributions to the field, the Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. Award for service to SFWA, and the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award for significant impact on speculative fiction.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 11, 1921 — F. M. Busby. Together with his wife and others he published a fan magazine named Cry of the Nameless which won the Hugo award at Pittcon. Heinlein was a great fan of him and his wife with The Cat Who Walks Through Walls in part dedicated to Busby and Friday in part dedicated to his wife Elinor. He was a very busy writer from the early Seventies to the late Nineties writing some nineteen published novels and myriad short stories before he blamed the Thor Power Tools decision for forcing his retirement which is odd as he published a number of novels after that decision became in effect. (Died 2005.)
Born March 11, 1925 — Christopher Anvil. A Campbellian writer through and through he was a staple of Astounding starting in 1956. The Colonization series that he wrote there would run to some thirty stories. Short stories were certainly his favored length as he only wrote three novels, The Day the Machines Stopped, Pandora’s Planet and The Steel, the Mist, and the Blazing Sun. He’s readily available at the usual digital sources. (Died 2009.)
Born March 11, 1947 — Floyd Kemske, 75. I’m betting someone here can tell me the story of how he can be the Editor of Galaxy magazine for exactly one issue, the July 1980 issue to be precise. I’ve not read either of his two genre novels, Lifetime Employment and Human Resources: A Corporate Nightmare, so I can’t comment on him as a writer, but the Galaxy editorship story sounds fascinating. (Both are available used in softcover for quite reasonable prices.)
Born March 11, 1952 — Douglas Adams. I’ve have read and listened to the full cast production of the BBC’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but have absolutely no desire to see the film. Wait, wasn’t there a TV series as well? Yes there was. Shudder! (I really like Theatre of The Mind as did the Seacon ‘79 Hugo voters who nominated the radio series for a Hugo. It would win the BSFA.) The Dirk Gently series is, errr, odd and escapes my understanding of its charms. He and Mark Carwardine also wrote the most excellent Last Chance to See. It’s more silly than it sounds. (Died 2001.)
Born March 11, 1963 — Alex Kingston, 59. River Song in Doctor Who. She’s in a number of different stories with a number of different Doctors and was the eventual wife of the Eleventh Doctor. She was in Ghost Phone: Phone Calls from the Dead, as Sheila, and she was Lady Macbeth in the National Theatre Live of Macbeth. Oh and she’s in the Arrowverse as Dinah Lance, in FlashForward as Fiona Banks, and recently shows up as Sara Bishop on A Discovery of Witches, a series based off the Deborah Harkness novel of the same name. Great series, All Souls Trilogy, by the way. She’s been continuing her River Song character over at Big Finish.
Born March 11, 1982 — Thora Birch, 40. A very, very extensive genre history so I’ll just list her appearances: Purple People Eater, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Hocus Pocus, Dungeons & Dragons, The Hole, Dark Corners, Train, Deadline, Dark Avenger series, The Outer Limits, Night Visions series, My Life as a Teenage Robot and a recurring role on the Colony series.
Born March 11, 1989 — Anton Yelchin. Another one who died far, far too young. Best known for playing Pavel Chekov in Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek Beyond. He also was in Terminator Salvation as Kyle Reese, in the Zombie comedy Burying the Ex as Max and voiced Clumsy Smurf in a series of Smurf films. Really he did. (Died 2016.)
(11) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter says tonight’s Jeopardy! contestants muffed these genre opportunities.
Category: Says Ann[E]
Answer: A lot of Fay Wray’s lines as Ann Darrow in this 1933 monster movie are bloodcurdling screams.
Wrong question: What is ‘Dracula’?
Right Question: What is ‘King Kong’?
Answer: Chapters in this H.G. Wells novel include “In the Golden Age” & “The Sunset of Mankind”
It was a tough save. Originally scheduled for August, Discon III was postponed due to CoVID-19 until December, when it fell just as the omicron variant began its surge. The original hotel went bankrupt, and a new hotel had to be found. One Guest of Honour, Toni Weisskopf, editor and publisher of Baen Books, was disinvited over posts advocating violence in Baen’s user forums. The original co-chairs, Bill Lawhorn and Colette Fozard, then resigned. Some division heads resigned, and the replacement Hugo Administration team also resigned. And there were a series of controversies over a variety of concerns before and during the event.
Although the convention went hybrid, my husband and I decided to attend in-person…
Zelda has a problem. For the last ten years, she has been traveling the United States, using her gift to heal the cracks in the world to try and keep together a 21st century US that seemingly is on the brink of falling apart. Ten years ago, she and her friends, including her love, Sal, made a daring journey into alternate worlds. That journey ended in disaster.
But now Zelda needs to get the band back together, to journey back into the alternate worlds. But her friends have moved on from traveling the dangerous alternate worlds. But with Sal’s young cousin June, who has unusual powers of her own, the need to find Sal is stronger than ever before. But what forces are chasing them across the real and alternate worlds? And what precisely happened to Sal?
These are the big questions at the heart of Max Gladstone’s Last Exit….
…The theme for this collection is absolutely spot on, and while I liked, disliked and was indifferent by turns to some of the stories, I nevertheless finished the collection feeling glad that it was a theme being written about. Characters and relationships – in all their complex, messy glory – are by far my favourite thing in reading fiction, and so to have that spotlight focussed on them here, and specifically how they might change as the world, technology and the people in it change, was a gorgeous choice….
(15) THE PITCH. A behind-the-scenes clip for the LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga game dropped yesterday. It’s essentially a commercial that displays lots of scenery and art.
…But if you still haven’t tried this cheesy, pasta-less ice cream, don’t necessarily sleep on heading to Walmart. These seven flavors — which also include Planet Earth, Pizza, Hot Honey, Royal Wedding Cake, Bourbon Cherries Jubilee, and Wild Blueberry Shortcake — will be part of a “10-week” rotation Van Leeuwen plans to “refresh” over the summer, meaning they still could only be around for a limited time….
Roll out of the integrated Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft to Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is slated for Thursday, March 17.
Live coverage for rollout begins at 5 p.m. EDT on Thursday, March 17 and will include live remarks from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and other guests. Coverage will air on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.
At the pad, NASA will conduct a final prelaunch test known as wet dress rehearsal, which includes loading the SLS propellant tanks and conducting a launch countdown.
The rollout involves a 4-mile journey between the Vehicle Assembly Building and the launch pad, expected to take between six and 12 hours. Live, static camera views of the debut and arrival at the pad will be available starting at 4 p.m. EDT on the Kennedy Newsroom YouTube channel.
A coming of age story….the way only Richard Linklater could tell it. Inspired by Linklater’s own life, Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood takes you to the moon and back in this story about growing up in the 1960s in Houston, TX.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Ed Fortune, Joel Zakem, Chris Barkley, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
… If the past is any indication, however, these big Kickstarters increase the people who watch the category and, to use the cliched phrase, they will become the rising tide that will lift all boats.
That’s the small picture.
The larger one? Smart traditionally published bestsellers should be looking closely at this. Smart unpublished writers should use this as a wake-up call.
Traditional publishing will never pay its writers tens of millions for unnamed projects. Traditional publishing can barely afford the million-dollar advances these days.
And please, remember, the Kickstarter numbers are only the beginning of the earnings on these books. These books will live for decades. Brandon will earn money on them for decades—without licensing any of the copyright to some gigantic corporate entity that does not have his best interest at heart.
Also, remember that this Kickstarter is advertising. It’s introducing millions of readers to Brandon Sanderson. These new readers are asking Who is this guy and why is he getting so much money? What are these new readers going to do? Why, they’re going to buy a backlist book and try to read it before the Kickstarter ends.
His published book sales are going to increase dramatically. So the tens of millions he’s earning on the Kickstarter does not count the other ways this Kickstarter is benefitting him financially. Nor is it counting the promotion value that he’s getting from projects that he felt inspired to write.
There’s a lot more to unpack—from some of the innovations he’s doing to the impact on the fantasy and science fiction field. But for the moment, I’m stopping here.
If you’re one of the sour grapes people, perhaps you should ask yourself why you’re being so very negative. Are you jealous? Or scared?
The rest of you should watch what happens next. This is a very big deal. For all of us.
(2) KDP WTF. Philip Beaufoy, author of the Lochwood Series, is another casualty of a sudden and unexplained Kindle Direct Publishing account closure.
… I see romance everywhere, on all levels, and it makes me love the books I read even more. There are books without romance, that don’t need romance, and readers that are perfectly happy without it. But borrowing from the romance genre can strengthen a story and the readers’ connection to the characters.
We all want to craft memorable characters, and the strong ones can become more enduring with a partner—two are stronger than one, as the adage goes. Princess Leia and Han Solo from Star Wars—closely followed by Ben and Rey. Paul and Chani from Dune. Nahri and Ali from S.A. Chakraborty’s Daevabad Trilogy. K and Chloe from Terry Miles’s Rabbits. Euthalia and Conrí from Jeffe Kennedy’s Forgotten Empires series. Niko and Petalia from Cat Rambo’s You Sexy Thing. Some of those names may strike a romantic chord within you?…
Shortly after Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke out publicly against Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill today, a very pointed response began circulating internally at the studio. A letter signed by “The LGBTQIA+ employees of Pixar, and their allies” took Chapek to task. It refuted, point by point, an internal memo Chapek sent to employees on Monday and also criticized the fact that the company “did not take a hard stance in support of the LGBTQIA+” at the shareholder meeting.
“Monday’s email, ‘Our Unwavering Commitment to the LGBTQ+ Community,’ rang hollow,” read the LGBTQIA+ letter. It said Chapek’s communication “began with the claim that Disney has a long history of supporting the LGBT community, but Disney Parks did not officially host Pride until 2019, in Paris alone. Disney has a history of shutting down fan-created Pride events in the parks, even removing same-sex couples for dancing together in the 1980’s.”
The letter goes on to say the corporation is “capitalizing on Pride” through merchandising, specifically The Rainbow Mickey Collection.
“It feels terrible to be a part of a company that makes money from Pride merch when it chooses to ‘step back’ in times of our greatest need, when our rights are at risk,” the letter asserts.
The “step back” bit is likely a reference to Chapek’s assertion at a shareholders’ annual meeting today that “we chose not to take a public position on [the bill] because we felt we could be more effective working behind the scenes, engaging directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.” It later came out that Chapek had only reached out to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis very recently….
… Finally, the letter damningly addresses Chapek’s repeated insistence that the best way for Disney to make change is through creating “powerful content that changes hearts and minds.”
It reads [in part]:
“We at Pixar have personally witnessed beautiful stories, full of diverse characters, come back from Disney corporate reviews shaved down to crumbs of what they once were. Nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest, regardless of when there is protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar. Even if creating LGBTQIA+ content was the answer to fixing the discriminatory legislation in the world, we are being barred from creating it.”
(5) CALL TO REMOVE A 2023 WORLDCON GOH. SF² Concatenation has tweeted the link to an editorial comment ahead of its next seasonal edition (slated for April). Read it here.
Science fiction is far more than a genre, it enthuses science and warns of possible futures, among much else. More, many of its aficionados are part of a community: a community that crosses nations. Sometimes that community needs to nail its colours to the mast. Now, at this moment in time, due to circumstances up-to-now unthought-of in the early 21st century, those colours are blue and yellow….
On Wednesday, 2nd March (2022), the UN moved to condemn Russia’s war on Ukraine. 141 nations supported that call: only Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea supported Russia, while China, Cuba and Venezuela abstained. And here’s the thing, if China is abstaining then arguably the 2023 SF Worldcon should dis-invite Sergei Lukyanenko as a Guest of Honour: Lukyanenko has repeatedly and publicly proclaimed his support for his nation’s war against Ukraine…
In particular, there is one person in the west who is currently due to share the platform at the 2023 Worldcon with Lukyanenko. Is that something he really wants to do?…
Christoper Priest: Before I wrote and published my first novel I had already written several amateurish book reviews. I was young and inexperienced, unguided, learning slowly as I went along. I was writing for fanzines published by Peter Weston and Charles Platt, and others. It was a way of writing something and seeing it in print—or at least, typed out by someone else, which at the time felt almost as good because after the process of being retyped, with bits cut out or changed or just got wrong, it looked different. By looking different it made me read it again and look at it with some objectivity. Overall, it was much easier and quicker to write an opinion piece on a new book by Brian N. Ball or Ken Bulmer than write a novel of my own. None of this counted in the long run, of course, although I still think for a beginning writer it was a good way to learn.
Paul Kincaid: Personally, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read reviews. This goes back to a time when newspapers used to publish things like book reviews and film reviews. But I never thought about writing them until I started getting involved in fandom….
The panelists for the titular panel were: Ada Palmer, Aparna Verma, Elle E. Ire, Nancy Kress, and Patricia A. Jackson, with Delia Sherman as moderator.
The panel description was as follows:
Do you even need chapters? How long should they be? Should you title your chapters or just number them? Where do you break a chapter, and how do you write a good cliffhanger? How do you write chapters with multiple character points of view? So much to discuss for such a small topic!
While the panelists didn’t address all of these, they shared some valuable tips.
… News of Hitchcock’s sci-fi project broke in October 1926, a month after The Lodger was first shown to the press. P.L. Mannock of the Kinematograph Weekly, who had spoken to Hitchcock about his “film laid in the future”, wrote that “If we except ‘Metropolis,’ it will be the first screen forecast of days to come,” the last words being a deliberate reference to a novella by one of Lang’s inspirations, H.G. Wells. “Television will be used dramatically, and Sir Alan Cobham will probably be consultant on big episodes of the air.”…
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1964 — [Item by Cat Eldridge]
“My specialty is wisdom. Do you know what wisdom is?””- Dr. Lao
“No sir.” – Mike
“Wise answer.” – Dr. Lao
Fifty-eight years ago, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao premiered. It was George Pal’s last directorial effort. As you well know, it’s based off of Charles G. Finney’s The Circus of Dr. Lao. (There is now a Kindle edition of The Circus of Dr. Lao though it won’t be mistaken for a Meredith Moment.) It was nominated for a Hugo at Loncon II, the year Dr. Strangelove won.
The screenplay was by Beaumont, who wrote twenty-two Twilight Zone episodes which given he died at 38 is quite astonishing, and Ben Hecht (originally uncredited), whose most notable work was Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound and Notorious, though he did have a genre credit writing The Thing from Outer Space, an early Fifties film. He also did uncredited work on Casino Royale.
Tony Randall played myriad roles in the 7 Faces of Dr. Lao including of course Dr. Lao, the Mysterious Visitor. And if you look carefully, you spot Randall simply as himself sans any makeup as a silent audience member. He also voices the Serpent, a stop-motion animated snake which has the face of another actor. Quite a performance indeed.
Pal originally wanted Peter Sellers for the role of Dr. Lao and Sellers very much wanted to do the role. However, MGM had Randall under contract who was far cheaper than Sellers would’ve been.
Pal also saved quite a bit of money here by reusing footage from Atlantis, the Lost Continent and The Time Machine. The Woldercan spectacular that Dr. Lao does as his grand finale of his circus is drawn entirely from the former.
Pal has stated that it’s only film that he lost money on. It made just one million and I can’t find any mention of how much the production costs were but they were obviously higher than the very small box office was.
So how was it received? The Hollywood Reporter at the time said Randall’s performance was “a dazzling display of virtuosity, in some stunning makeup created by Bill Tuttle.” Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give a very strong rating of seventy-eight percent.
I don’t believe it’s streaming anywhere but you can rent it pretty much everywhere. Or you can buy it for little more than a Meredith Moment.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 10, 1891 — Sam Jaffe, His first role was in Lost Horizon as the High Lama and much later in The Day the Earth Stood Still playing Professor Jacob Barnhardt. Later on we find him in The Dunwich Horror as Old Whateley, voicing Bookman in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, playing The Old-Man in The Tell-Tale Heart, and in his last film, appearing in Battle Beyond the Stars as Dr. Hephaestus. John Sayles wrote the script for the latter surprisingly enough. (Died 1984.)
Born March 10, 1905 — Richard Haydn. Actor who appeared in a number of genre undertakings including voicing the Caterpillar in the early Fifties Alice in Wonderland, Professor Summerlee in the early Sixties version of The Lost World and Herr Falkstein in Young Frankenstein. I’d be very remiss not to note his appearance on The Twilight Zone as Bartlett Finchley in the chilling “A Thing About Machines”. And he had one offs on Bewitched, Shirley Temple’s Storybook and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., in the “The Mad, Mad Tea Party Affair” an unusual episode as it takes place almost entirely within U.N.C.L.E headquarters. (Died 1985.)
Born March 10, 1918 — Theodore Cogswell. He wrote almost forty science fiction stories, most of them humorous, and was the co-author of a Trek novel, Spock, Messiah!, with Joe Spano Jr. He’s perhaps best remembered as the editor of the Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies in which writers and editors discussed theirs and each other’s works. A full collection of which was published during 1993 except, as EoSF notes “for one issue dealing with a particularly ugly controversy involving Walter M Miller.” Having not read these, I’ve no idea, what this details, but I’m betting one of y’all know. (Died 1987.)
Born March 10, 1921 — Cec Linder. He’s best remembered for playing Dr. Matthew Roney in the BBC produced Quatermass and the Pit series in the later Fifties, and for his role as James Bond’s friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter, in Goldfinger. He also appeared on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, the Amerika series, The Ray Bradbury Theatre and The New Avengers. (Died 1992.)
Born March 10, 1938 — Marvin Kaye. Editor of Weird Tales, he also edited magazines such as H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. His Cold Blue Light novels with Parke Godwin are quite superb. The Fair Folk anthology which is most excellent and which he edited won a World Fantasy Award. He wrote the “Marvin Kaye’s Nth Dimension” for the Space and Time website. (Died 2021.)
Born March 10, 1938 — Ken Sobol. New to our Birthday honors list. I will single him out for having personally received Astrid Lindgren’s personal blessing to write the Pippi Longstocking series which he worked on with puppeteer Noreen Young. He also contributed scripts to Batman, Curious George, G.I. Joe, George of the Jungle, Hardy Boys, Highlander, Superman, and Wizard of Id, and that’s hardly a complete listing. He also wrote one of the best works done on baseball, Babe Ruth and the American Dream. (Died 2010.)
Born March 10, 1951 — Christopher Hinz, 71. His Liege Killer novel, the first in his most excellent Paratwa Saga, won the Compton Crook Award, the BSFS Award for the Best First Novel. (And yes, there is a prequel, Binary Storm, which was written much later.) He was nominated for an Astounding Award for Best New Writer.
Born March 10, 1956 — Robert Llewellyn, 66. He plays the mechanoid Kryten in the Red Dwarf series. His It2i2 which was a television show about AI depicting fictional events but presented as a documentary. And he played a gryphon in the oh-so-superb MirrorMask.
The Black Feminist Futures Series features programs highlighting the powerful and long-standing relationship between Afrofuturism and Black feminism in genres ranging from literature, film, art, fashion, and community organizing. Planting for the Future, a virtual conversation on Black women’s participation in Afrofuturism through literature, film, art, fashion, and community organizing. The program features Dr. Andrea Hairston (author of Master of Poisons), Sheree Renee Thomas (author of Nine Bar Blues), Tananarive Due (author of The Between: A Novel), and Tanaya Denise Fields (founder of Black Feminist Project & Black Joy Farm, and author of “Dirty Business: The Messy Affair of Rejecting Shame” in the book You Are Your Best Thing). Moderated by Dr. Chesya Burke.
(12) GAIMAN MIRACLEMAN REPRINT. Following the herald of his return in Timeless #1 and the announcement of an all-new omnibus, Marvel Comics continues to mark the 40th anniversary of Miracleman’s modern era with a new printing of award-winning writer Neil Gaiman and artist Mark Buckingham’s redefining work on the character.
Arriving in October, Miracleman By Gaiman & Buckingham Book 1: The Golden Age TPB will collect the first six issues of Gaiman and Buckingham’s groundwork to give a legendary super hero a fascinating future —a future that will now come to pass! Available for the first time in paperback, the Miracleman By Gaiman & Buckingham Book 1: The Golden Age TPB will give fans a chance to revisit this beloved era of Miracleman ahead of the exciting plans Marvel has in store for the iconic character later this year.
Atop Olympus, Miracleman presides over a brave new world forged from London’s destruction. It is a world free of war, of famine, of poverty. A world of countless wonders. A world where pilgrims scale Olympus’ peak to petition their living god, while miles below the dead return in fantastic android bodies. It is an Age of Miracles — but is humankind ready for it? Do we even want it? Is there a place for humanity in a world of gods? Gaiman and Buckingham delve into the lives of lonely idealists, rebellious schoolchildren and fracturing families, exploring the human constant in a changing world of gods and miracles.
…Fans of the Star Wars franchise can relate to Padmé Amidala, a character from the Star Wars prequel trilogy played by Natalie Portman, for a multitude of reasons, from her troubled romance with Anakin Skywalker to her desire to do her best to protect her people.
“We, the undersigned, are 77 fan content creators, podcasters, YouTubers, TikTokers, artists, writers and cosplayers who have joined together to use our limited platforms to stand in solidarity with our trans siblings and their families in Texas,” a GoFundMe site for the Amidala Initiative states. “No child should fear that their teachers will report their parents to the government for allowing them to live as their true gender. No parent should fear criminal charges for supporting their transgender child and helping them seek therapeutic and medical support to treat their gender dysphoria … this is something we refuse to stand by silently for.”…
…However, according to the latest comments from The A Word star, there’s seemingly no chance he would return for a 60th anniversary team-up special currently rumoured for 2023.
He told crowds at Australian convention Supanova: “I’ve never been a fan of multi-Doctor stories. When I worked on the series, I had really strong ideas about what works and what doesn’t, and I always think that multi-Doctor stories are a bit of a cash-in, and a bit of exploitation.
“Creatively, they never worked for me. I looked at the script for the 50th anniversary and I felt as soon as I said I wasn’t doing it it got better because, well, if I’m not in it, it’s better. The creation of the War Doctor introduced a whole new facet to the canon.”
Interestingly though, a later comment from Eccleston suggested he would consider returning to Doctor Who in live-action for a solo storyline following the Ninth Doctor.
He added: “The Ninth Doctor, in particular, is a one-man band. Definitely. So he doesn’t work with other Doctors. If you want me back, you’d get me on my own.”
(15) HEAR FROM EDITORS. Space Cowboy Books will host an online panel discussion “Beyond the Submission Guidelines” on March 29 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here.
Join us for an online panel discussion with editors of SF/F magazines. Learn about the behind the scenes of running science fiction and fantasy magazines with editors: Arley Sorg (Locus & Fantasy Magazines), F.J. Bergmann (Mobius & Weird House), Rob Carroll (Dark Matter Magazine), and JW Stebner (Hexagon Magazine)
(16) PREDICTING THE PAST. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Inscriptions provide an invaluable insight into the ancient world. But over the centuries, many inscriptions have been damaged and exist in fragmented or semi-legible forms, making the job of reading and interpreting them extremely difficult. In this week’s issue of Nature, “Restoring and attributing ancient texts using deep neural networks”, Yannis Assael, Thea Sommerschield and their team introduce Ithaca, a deep neural network designed to help historians restore and understand ancient Greek inscriptions. Working alone, Ithaca is able to restore damaged texts with a 62% accuracy, but when historians use Ithaca, their accuracy on the same task rises to 72%. Ithaca can also determine the original geographical location of inscriptions with 71% accuracy, and can date them to within 30 years from the date ranges proposed by historians. The researchers say that such cooperation between artificial intelligence and historians could help transform studies of the ancient world.
(17) SOUNDTRACK OF SPACE. NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory page hosts a “Sonification Collection” – maybe there is a “music of the spheres.”
…By translating the inherently digital data (in the form of ones and zeroes) captured by telescopes in space into images, astronomers create visual representations that would otherwise be invisible to us.
But what about experiencing these data with other senses like hearing? Sonification is the process that translates data into sound, and a new project brings the center of the Milky Way to listeners for the first time. The translation begins on the left side of the image and moves to the right, with the sounds representing the position and brightness of the sources. The light of objects located towards the top of the image are heard as higher pitches while the intensity of the light controls the volume. Stars and compact sources are converted to individual notes while extended clouds of gas and dust produce an evolving drone….
English science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke discusses the on-going research in astronomy into discovering new planets and how he believes there is life on other planets, although we don’t know it yet.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, rcade, Phil Nichols, mlex, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]
(1) CALLING BLACK SFF WRITERS. The 2022 BSF Writer Survey conducted by FIYAH closes March 4 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern. See complete guidelines at the link.
The BSF Writer Survey is back! FIYAH will be inheriting Fireside Fiction’s #BlackSpecFic Reports, and this survey will be used to provide context to those results in a report being released in the fall of 2022.
We invite Black SFF writers to submit information about their practices and insights on submission to SFF short fiction markets with a focus on the 2021 calendar year, as well as the impact of and experience with special offerings made during the summer of 2020. The responses we receive will allow us to:
Quantify the existence of Black speculative fiction writers seeking publication.
Provide submission context to existing publication data.
Expose the impact of doleful publication statistics on Black writers.
Enable markets to pinpoint their failings in attracting or publishing Black writers.
The FIYAH Literary Magazine Grant Series is intended to assist Black writers of speculative fiction in defraying costs associated with honing their craft.
The series includes three $1,000 grants to be distributed annually based on a set of submission requirements. All grants with the exception of the Emergency Grant will be issued and awarded as part of Juneteenth every year. The emergency grant will be awarded twice a year in $500 amounts.
Applications for the Rest, Craft, and Study grants close May 15th.
1: The Rest Grant
The FIYAH Rest Grant is for activists and organizers with a record of working on behalf of the SFF community, but who are in need of respite or time to recommit to their personal projects.
3: Study Grant
This grant is to be used for defraying costs associated with attending workshops, retreats, or conducting research for a writing project.
4: Craft Grant
This grant is awarded based on a writer’s submitted WIP sample or project proposal, in the spirit of assisting with the project’s completion.
(3) AUCTION TO AID RED CROSS UKRAINE. Fan and editor Johnny Mains has set up an online auction of genre-related items in support of Red Cross Ukraine; it runs until March 12: “Authors And Artists Auction For The Ukraine” at Will You Send a Dinghy, Please? Lots include signed books from Kim Newman, Ramsey Campbell, Nicholas Royle, and participation in an online interview with Ellen Datlow.
I, like many, have been shaken by Russia’s horrific attack on Ukraine. I stand in solidarity with all Ukranians. I’m aware I have a miniscule public profile, but if I can do some good with it, then it’s a privilige and my duty. Plus, children in Ukraine being put through that? It’s sickening. So I’m doing a charity auction – with all proceeds going to directly to Red Cross Ukraine as you’ll be donating the money directly to them after the auction ends. 95% of goods will be posted by those donating them – in one or two cases I’ve been asked to post on that person’s behalf.
For the next two weeks, until the 12th of March, I’ll be running a live auction. I have asked people to donate things and I’ll be donating stuff myself….
(4) SANDERSON KEEPS ROLLING. Brandon Sanderson’s editor at Tor, Moshe Feder, sounds like he’s in a bit of shock: “To say it’s a massive surprise is a massive understatement. While the immediate overwhelming response on Kickstarter is quite a coup for Brandon and his team. I hope I get to be involved.”
Big news from Amazon: the company is closing all of its Amazon Book books and electronics stores, as well as all of its pop-up and “4-star” stores, a move that was first reported yesterday by Reuters. Altogether, 68 stores are involved–66 in the U.S. and two in the U.K. There are some 24 Amazon Books stores around the country.
The company said it was making the move to concentrate its bricks-and-mortar efforts on Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods, Amazon Go and a new venture, Amazon Style fashion and accessories stores, the first of which is set to open in Los Angeles this year, and will feature a variety of high-tech touches, including “just walk out” cashierless technology….
(6) CAN’T KEEP UP. Charles Stross admits how hard it is to stay ahead of reality.
We’re finally getting to learn a bit more about upcoming Doctor Who special Legend of the Sea Devils, with the episode’s co-writer, director and other new details confirmed in the latest edition of Doctor Who Magazine.
“It’s a bit of a swashbuckler,” executive producer Matt Strevens told DWM. “It’s the last ‘regular’ adventure story before you go into the machinations of a regeneration story.”
So who is behind this penultimate peril for Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor? Well, co-writing the episode with Chibnall is Ella Road, a playwright and screenwriter who wrote Olivier-nominated play The Phlebotomist (later adapted for BBC radio) as well as episodes of upcoming Call My Agent remake Ten Percent. Legend of the Sea Devils marks the first time a guest writer has co-written a special alongside Chibnall, as well as Road’s Doctor Who debut….
… David Tennant or Matt Smith coming back for a quick victory lap, on the other hand, is something everyone can enjoy, no matter how casual their relationship with the show. The polar opposite of fan-serving indulgence, it’s actually the biggest, most populist, most crowd-pleasing, big tent move Doctor Who could possibly make. (And this was true even in the 1980s, by the way, when the return of the Cybermen after an absence of seven years was an exciting event for everyone – including the kids who’d never heard of them.)
Even the return of Paul McGann, whose Eighth Doctor has had only fleeting screen-time, would be pretty simple to explain to viewers who aren’t familiar with him. And not just simple, but fun. Exciting. A strange man in strange clothes rocking up and telling everyone he used to be the Doctor? That’s drama. That’s a story. Who on Earth is going to take flight at that?…
… A few weeks ago, a long-ago conversation with a friend came to mind as I tried to bring some order to my bookshelves. My friend was not yet of a certain age, but he had, he confessed, crossed a line: He had made a transition from the curating stage of life to the editing stage. He was no longer collecting; he was deaccessioning. I lack his wisdom and maturity, and rather than editing as I sorted, I instead paused to thumb through and scan. And then I came across a book that made me stop and reread: The City & the City(2009), by the British writer China Miéville. It is a police procedural novel with a background environment that recalls Philip K. Dick. A crime needs to be solved in a society where two different cities—two separate polities, with separate populations, customs, alphabets, religions, and outlooks—coexist within the same small patch of geography. The names of the overlapping cities are Beszel and Ul Qoma….
The panelists for the titular panel were: Michael R Underwood, Nikhil Singh, Sumiko Saulson, and Rebecca Roanhorse as moderator….
(10) NEXT FANTASTIC BEASTS. “Set in the 1930s, the film centers on the lead-up to Wizarding World’s involvement in World War II” says IndieWire about the “’Fantastic Beasts 3’ New Trailer”. See it on YouTube.
Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) knows the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to lead an intrepid team of wizards, witches and one brave Muggle baker on a dangerous mission, where they encounter old and new beasts and clash with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers. But with the stakes so high, how long can Dumbledore remain on the sidelines?
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1940 — [Item by Cat Eldridge] Eighty-two years ago this day, Larry “Buster” Crabbe starred in Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, a black-and-white twelve-part movie serial from Universal Pictures. It would be the last of the three such Universal serials made between 1936 and 1940.
It was directed by Ford Beebe and Ray Taylor, neither of whom had any background in genre undertakings of this sort beyond Taylor directing Chandu on the Magic Island and its sequel The Return of Chandu, serials which starred Béla Lugosi. This serial was written by George H. Plympton, Basil Dickey and Barry Shipman. George H. Plympton would go on to write the Forties versions of The Green Hornet, Batman and Robin and Superman.
The primary cast beyond Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon was Carol Hughes as Dale Arden, Frank Shannon as Dr. Alexis Zarkov and Charles B. Middleton as Ming the Merciless. It actually had a very large cast for such a serial.
I couldn’t find any contemporary reviews but our present day reviewers like it with the Movie Metropolis reviewer saying of it that “Of course, it’s corny and juvenile but that’s the point”, and one Audience reviewer at Rotten Tomatoes noted “Of curiosity value to film buffs. Those who want to see how these old matinee serials influenced George Lucas’ Star Wars films will enjoy this.” It doesn’t get a great rating over there garnering only a fifty-seven percent rating.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 3, 1863 — Arthur Machen. His novella “The Great God Pan” published in 1890 has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror, with Stephen King describing it as “Maybe the best horror story in the English language.” His The Three Impostors; or, The Transmutations 1895 novel is considered a precursor to Lovecraft and was reprinted in paperback by Ballantine Books in the Seventies. (Died 1947.)
Born March 3, 1876 — David Lindsay. Best remembered for A Voyage to Arcturus which C.S. Lewis acknowledged was a great influence on Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength. His other genre works were fantasies including The Haunted Woman and The Witch. A Voyage to Arcturus is available from the usual suspects for free. And weirdly it’s available in seven audio narratives. Huh. (Died 1945.)
Born March 3, 1920 — James Doohan. Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on Trek of course. His first genre appearance was I think in Outer Limits as Police Lt. Branch, followed by being a SDI Agent at Gas Station in The Satan Bug film before getting the Trek gig. His first genre series would’ve been Space Command where he played Phil Mitchell. He filmed a Man from U.N.C.L.E. film, One of Our Spies Is Missing, in which he played Phillip Bainbridge, during the first season of Trek. After Trek, he was on Jason of Star Command as Commander Canarvin. ISFDB notes that he did three Scotty novels co-written with S.M. Stirling. (Died 2005.)
Born March 3, 1936 — Donald E. Morse, 86. Author of the single best book done on Holdstock, The Mythic Fantasy of Robert Holdstock: Critical Essays on the Fiction which he co-wrote according to ISFDB with Kalman Matolcsy. I see he also did two books on Kurt Vonnegut and the Anatomy of Science Fiction on the intersection between SF and society at large which sounds fascinating.
Born March 3, 1945 — George Miller, 77. Best known for his Mad Max franchise, The Road Warrior (nominated for a Hugo at ConStellation), Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and Fury Road. He also directed TheNightmare at 20,000 Feet segment of the Twilight Zone film, The Witches of Eastwick (nominated for a Hugo at Nolacon II), Babe and 40,000 Years of Dreaming.
Born March 3, 1948 — Max Allan Collins, 74. Best remembered for writing the Dick Tracy newspaper strip for many years and has numerous novels featuring the character as well. He’s novelized Waterworld and all of The Mummy films. He won the Faust Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Born March 3, 1955 — Gregory Feeley, 67. Reviewer and essayist. Clute says of his reviews “Sometimes adversarial, unfailingly intelligent, they represent a cold-eyed view of a genre he loves by a critic immersed in its material.” Writer of two SF novels, The Oxygen Barons and Arabian Wine, plus the Kentauros essay and novella.
Born March 3, 1982 — Jessica Biel, 40. A number of interesting genre films including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Blade: Trinity, Stealth, The Illusionist, the remake of Total Recall which I confess I’ve not seen, and the animated Spark: A Space Tail.
(13) FANAC.ORG FANHISTORY ZOOM. The latest fanhistory Zoom at Fanac.org is now online: “Death Does Not Release You – LASFS Through the Years (Pt 1 of 2).”
From the YouTube description: “Legend (and John Trimble) has it that the slogan “Death Does Not Release You” came about when Ray Bradbury gave a talk at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society and was asked to pay his dues. When Bradbury said his membership had expired, Ernie Wheatley told him “death does not release you, even if you die”. Bradbury paid his 35 cents…
This notable group of panelists, including artist Tim Kirk, TV writer and producer Craig Miller, filmmaker Ken Rudolph and convention runner Bobbi Armbruster are all current or former members of LASFS. They are fan artists, convention runners, fanzine editors and club officers.
In part 1, the panelists talk about how they were welcomed into science fiction fandom and into LASFS (including how Ray Bradbury talked teenager Craig Miller into going to his first club meeting). There are stories about the drug culture of the 60s and its barbarian invasion of the club, as well as about the big movers and shakers of the 60s and 70s, many no longer with us, such as Bruce Pelz and Len Moffat. Even if you’ve never been to a LASFS meeting, this feels like a nostalgic family reunion. See Part 2 for the continuation.”
…I will be taking photos and videos for my patrons (I don’t actually mean to keep flogging that, isn’t my intention, just came up thrice in a row in answer to this.) We’re busy fixing the place up, doing repairs, making it tour-friendly. It’s been a ton of work, as well as setting up the Harlan and Susan Ellison nonprofit foundation that will ensure his work and legacy are protected long after I’ve gone to dust. This is important because some writers’ estates have been ransacked in the past, but by setting up a nonprofit that is directly answerable to state and federal regulators, with a strong board of directors, it guarantees that not a dime goes in or out that’s unaccounted for or unchecked. Will have a lot more on that count to say soon.
(15) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 52 of the Octothorpe podcast, “Who’s Robert Picardo?”, celebrates an award nomination with a victory lap.
John Coxon, Alison Scott and Liz Batty have been nominated for a BSFA Award! (Also, Liz is on holiday, naturally.) We discuss that with worse audio quality than usual, before normal service is resumed and we talk about Hugo nominations and Eastercon bids.
(16) DAVID M. KELLY. Meet David M. Kelly, the author of Kwelengsen Storm, Book One of the Logan’s World Series.
Originally from the wild and woolly region of Yorkshire, England, David emigrated to Canada in 2005 and settled in Northern Ontario with his patient and supportive wife, Hilary. Foot surgery in 2014 temporarily curtailed many of his favorite activities – hiking, camping, piloting his own personal starfighter (otherwise known as a 1991 Corvette ZR-1). But on the plus side, it meant a transition from the world of IT into life as a full-time writer—an opportunity he grasped enthusiastically.
David is passionate about science, especially astronomy and physics, and is a rabid science news follower. Never short of an opinion, David writes about science and technology on his blog davidmkelly.net. He has supported various charity projects such as the Smithsonian’s Reboot The Suit and the Lowell Observatory Pluto Telescope Restoration. He also contributes to citizen science projects such as [email protected]
What’s his book about?
When Logan Twofeathers takes on the job of head of engineering on Kwelengsen, the first habitable planet discovered by Earth, he thinks he’s leaving conflict far behind. But when he investigates the loss of a deep-space communications relay, his ship is attacked and crash-lands back on the planet.
With his new home destroyed by the invaders, Logan is stranded deep in the frozen mountains with an injured sergeant who hates him almost as much as the enemy. Against the ever-present threat of capture, he must battle his way through icy surroundings in a treacherous attempt to find his wife.
And when he’s forced to ally himself with a disparate group of soldiers and their uncompromising captain, Logan must face the reality that he may have lost everything—and everyone—he loves. Will he choose to fight? And what will it cost him?
(17) WAVES HELLO. If Mars is the Red Planet, could we call Venus the Infra-Red Planet? Well, not exactly. But this New York Times article prompted the question: “Venus Shows Its Hot, Cloudy Side”.
Venus is so hot that its surface glows visibly at night through its thick clouds.
That is what pictures taken by NASA’s Parker Solar Probe have revealed.
The planet’s average temperature hovers around 860 degrees Fahrenheit, and thick clouds of sulfuric acid obscure the view. Until now, the only photographs of the Venusian surface were taken by four Soviet spacecraft that successfully landed there in the 1970s and 1980s, operating briefly before succumbing to the hellish environs.
During flybys of Venus, the Parker spacecraft pointed its cameras at the night side of Venus. It was able to see the visible wavelengths of light, including the reddish colors that verge on the infrared that can pass through the clouds.
“It’s a new way of looking at Venus that we’ve never even tried before — in fact, weren’t even sure it was possible,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s planetary division.
In the Parker photographs, hotter locales like low-lying volcanic plains appeared brighter while those at higher altitudes like Aphrodite Terra, one of three continent-size regions on Venus, were about 85 degrees cooler and darker.
Astronomers have discovered an unprecedented three moons in orbit around an asteroid.
‘Binary’ asteroids, which have one moon, are fairly common. Triple asteroids, with two moons, are rare. Now, the identification of the first known quadruple asteroid — Elektra, which orbits the Sun in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter — shows that two is not the limit.
Previous observations had shown that two moons circle Elektra, which is roughly 200 kilometres wide. A team led by Anthony Berdeu at the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand in Chiang Mai re-assessed Elektra by analysing images of the asteroid taken in 2014 by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope at Cerro Paranal, Chile. The scientists used sophisticated image-processing techniques to detect the third, faint moon….
…Of course, almost all the credit should go to Hidetaka Miyazaki and his astonishing team of games designers who have been laboring on this game for half a decade or more, determined to create the best videogame ever. I am honored to have met them and worked with them, and to have have played a part, however small, in creating this fantastic world and making ELDEN RING the landmark megahit that it is…
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Jennifer Hawthorne, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]
I am in passport control. I can see my face on a screen. The technology recognises me and lets me through. I scan codes showing my vaccination status and recent Covid test results. The machines assess the data regarding my health and microbiology. Through into the waiting room, people are staring into little screens. A strangely large number have the camera flipped, and are capturing their faces at different angles, as if they’ve forgotten what they look like. I open my laptop and join in. I give my details to a company to enter the digital realm. Adverts tailored to my personality pop up. They know me better than I know myself.
David Doering adds, “I’d love to say that Brandon hinted at all this at LTUE [Life, The Universe, and Everything] two weeks ago, but he was mute about it. The really big news to me is that he is now the #2 Record Holder on Kickstarter as an AUTHOR! Not a gizmo or gadget idea.guy — a WRITER sets the record. That is KEWL.”
(3) HOUSE DIVIDED. Many are commenting on the Ukraine invasion today and looking at the open letter from Russian sff authors supporting Putin’s actions that is signed by 2023 Worldcon GoH Sergei Lukianenko.
R. B. Lemberg tweeted the translation of another pro-invasion apologetic signed by a mass of Russian writers. Thread starts here. Lemberg also hits the nail on the head so far as the Worldcon is concerned.
I believe much of modern entertainment can be traced to REH, directly or via his influence. From music to gaming to professional wrestling, all the myriad forms of storytelling through any media owes its current existence to Robert E. Howard to some extent. I’ve often thought about exploring that connection, tracing that lineage. Frankly, I also always considered it too much work. Until I heard Bill Cavalier’s Guest of Honor speech “How Robert E. Howard Saved My Life” at Howard Days 2018 in Cross Plains, Texas. While much of that audience already knew that story–it truly touched me. Before the evening was over I considered it a revelation and immediately voiced efforts to gather similar stories I knew had to exist, though slightly tweaking the emphasis to be on changed rather than saved personal lives. …
… But even a Dyson Sphere wasn’t impressive enough for Ray Bradbury, and he decided to expand on the concept by postulating a nested series of spheres he called a ‘Matrioshka brain.’ In this model, the innermost sphere would collect the sun’s entire energy output and use it for computing. The waste heat produced by this computing would then be collected and used by the next sphere, which in turn would generate its own waste heat for the next sphere to collect, and so on….
The panelists for the titular panel were: Jen Gunnels as moderator, CL Polk, Narina Brelin, JS Dewes, and Lezli Robyn.
The description was as follows: When a story denies the audience the narrative they expect, reactions can range from “What a clever twist!” to “That’s awful,” to even “I feel used.” What causes some unexpected plot developments to disappoint rather than delight—and how do you craft a satisfying surprise?
Today the game maker moved to acquire Bandcamp, an online music-streaming service that revolves around DRM-free purchases of MP3s, FLACs, and other audio files. The news emerged via press releases from both Bandcamp and Epic on Wednesday. As of press time, neither side of the deal has clarified its financial terms….
…While this might sound like Epic wants to acquire Bandcamp’s backend, web storefront, and iOS/Android apps—which are a user-friendly breath of fresh air compared to the continued clunkiness of Epic Games Store—this wording suggests that Bandcamp could be rolled into the Unreal asset sales ecosystem. Want to license and use music in the Unreal Engine project of your dreams? Perhaps future creators would search for tunes inside of Unreal Engine using Bandcamp’s existing tags (“math rock,” “SoundCloud rap,” “sex jazz“) and pay a license accordingly, the same way they currently find textures, assets, or other licensed content.
…Did he watch old episodes or rely on his memories? “The latter. As the seven seasons of TNG went by, the distinction between Jean-Luc Picard and Patrick Stewart became thinner and thinner, until it was impossible for me to know where he left off and I began. So much of what I believed and felt went into that show. So coming back to the part, I felt that the impact of time on Jean-Luc would just be there in where I am now. And that’s how it has felt.”
Was the deal that if anyone played the older Picard, it would be Stewart – or was there a risk of switching on to find, say, his friend Ian McKellen in the part? “Oh, I would have watched that,” Stewart laughs.“What a clever idea. No. They were absolutely clear: if I passed on it, there would be no show. And I believed them and thought that was generous.”…
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1997 — [Item by Cat Eldridge]
Once upon a time in a school in outer space, There was a class of misfit kids from all around the place. They snuck aboard a mystery ship, Which soon slipped through a spacial rip, And now they’re stuck on a long strange trip. — The Theme Song
Twenty-five years ago on Nickelodeon’s Saturday night block of shows known as SNICK, a Canadian created series called Space Cases aired for two seasons. I’ve never seen it but it sounds like a lot of not so serious fun.
It was created by author Peter David and actor Bill Mumy, and it starred Walter Emanuel Jones, Jewel Staite, Rebecca Herbst, Kristian Ayre, Rahi Azizi, Paige Christina, Anik Matern, Cary Lawrence and Paul Boretski.
Yes, it had a fifteen-year-old Jewel Staite as one of its cast. She’s the ship’s engineer here. Huh. Was she cast on Firefly because of her role here? Well, this was a children’s show with the concept being similar to the current Star Trek: Prodigy. It told the story of a group of Star Academy students from different planets who sneaked aboard a mysterious space ship called The Christa. A ship they bonded literally with and ended across the galaxy in.
It was shot on the cheap in Quebec. Really on the cheap, so props from Are You Afraid of the Dark? and other Nickelodeon programs were used in the series. Game consoles and compact discs were used as props.
A number of well-known genre performers showed up here including Mark Hamill, Katey Sagal, George Takei and Michelle Trachtenberg.
It lasted for two seasons comprising of twenty-seven episodes, each bring fairly short at twenty-two minutes.
A quarter of century later, the official website is still up. See if you spot Staite in the cast photo.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 2, 1933 — Leo Dillion. With his wife Diane, they were illustrators of children’s books and many a paperback book and magazine cover. Over fifty years, they were the creators of over a hundred genre covers. They won the Hugo for Best Professional Artist at Noreascon (1971) after being nominated twice before at Heicon ‘70 and St. Louiscon. The Art of Leo & Diane Dillon written by Leo Dillon, Diane Dillon and Byron Preiss would be nominated for a Best Related Non-Fiction Hugo at Chicon IV. They would win a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Some of my favorites? The first cover for Pavane. The Ace cover of The Left Hand of Darkness. And one for a deluxe edition of The Last Unicorn. (Died 2012.)
Born March 2, 1937 — Barbara Luna, 85. She played Lt. Marlena Moreau in the Star Trek’s “Mirror, Mirror”, the cross-universe story, a favorite of mine. She showed up in The Outer Limits, The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Six Million Dollar Man, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Mission: Impossible (Australian version) and finally in several episodes of the fanfic video Star Trek: New Voyages series. (The latter is now called Star Trek: Phase II after Paramount sued them.)
Born March 2, 1939 — jan howard finder. No, I’m not going to be able to do him justice here. He was a SF writer, filker, cosplayer and, of course, fan. He was a guest of honor at ConFrancisco. He was nicknamed The Wombat as a sign of affection and ConFrancisco was only one of at least eight Cons that he was fan guest of honor at. finder has even been tuckerized when Anne McCaffrey named a character for him. (Died 2013.)
Born March 2, 1943 — Peter Straub, 79. Horror writer who won the World Fantasy Award for Koko and the August Derleth Award for Floating Dragon. He’s co-authored several novels with Stephen King, The Talisman which itself won a World Fantasy Award, and Black House. Both The Throat and In the Night Room won Bram Stoker Awards as did 5 Stories, a short collection by him. Ok, you know not that I’m that impressed by awards, but this is really impressive!
Born March 2, 1960 — Peter F. Hamilton, 62. I read and quite enjoyed his Night’s Dawn trilogy when it first came out and I’m fairly sure that I’ve read Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained as they sound really familiar. (Too much genre fiction read over the years to remember everything…) His only English language award is a BSFA for his “The Suspect Genome”. What else have y’all read by him?
Born March 2, 1966 — Ann Leckie, 56. Ancillary Justice won the Hugo Award at Loncon 3 and the Nebula Award, the Kitschies Award Golden Tentacle, Locus Award for Best First Novel, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the BSFA Award. Wow! The Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy also won Awards and were no less impressive experiences. The Raven Tower is quite excellent too.
Born March 2, 1968 — Daniel Craig, 54. Obviously Bond in the now being concluded series of films which I like a lot, but also in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider as Alex West, Lord Asriel In the film adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, in SF horror film The Invasion as Ben Driscoll, in the very weird and very very well done Cowboys & Aliens as Jake Lonergan, voicing Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine / Red Rackham in the superb Adventures of Tintin and an uncredited appearance as Stormtrooper FN-1824 In Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Born March 2, 1992 — Maisie Richardson-Sellers, 30. A most believable Vixen on Legends of Tomorrow for the first three seasons in my opinion as I’ve always liked that DC character. (Season four onward, she’s been Clotho.) Prior to that role, she was recurring role as Rebekah Mikaelson / Eva Sinclair on The Originals, and she had a cameo as Korr Sella in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro shares a snapshot from the home life of a superhero.
(12) DOTRICE DIALOG. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this podcast which Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Karen Dotrice. She comes from an acting family (you may remember her father, Roy, from Beauty and the Beast) but she starred in three Disney films in the mid-1960s and has only acted sporadically since then. Maltin knows his Disney lore and this podcast is a Walt Disney geekfest, Dotrice remembers how kind Walt Disney was to her at 8, perhaps remembering that when he was 8 he was delivering newspapers. He also remembers that Disney on the Mary Poppins set treated her as an adult, which she still respects nearly 60 years later. Maltin also puts in a good word for Dotrice’s third Disney film, The Gnome-Mobile, which is from a novel by Upton Sinclair. If you’re interested in Walt Disney, this is a podcast for you! “Maltin on Movies: Karen Dotrice”.
To untold millions of people she will always be bright-eyed Jane Banks in the original Mary Poppins (1964). The real-life Karen Dotrice is the mother of three who grew up in a show-business family. Her father Roy was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and her godfather was Charles Laughton! Luckily for us, Karen cherishes the memory of making Poppins and has especially fond recollections of Walt Disney, who lavished personal attention on her and her family while they were in Los Angeles. Jessie and Leonard were tickled pink to engage in conversation with a woman they’ve known and admired for years. (Karen even attended Jessie’s bat mitzvah!)
…According to Merriam-Webster, postapocalyptic is defined as “existing or occurring after a catastrophically destructive disaster or apocalypse.” And according to Oxford, a dystopia is “an imagined state or society in which there is great suffering or injustice, typically one that is totalitarian or postapocalyptic.” What is the litany of our current global disasters if not… all that? From the perspective of these dystopian authors, have we arrived in a version of the postapocalyptic dystopia as they imagined it?
“Hell, no, we have not hit the ‘post’ part,” writer Catherine Hernandez tells Teen Vogue in an email interview. “I am quite certain that we will experience wave after wave of environmental disasters, pandemics, and conflict over resources until we understand that predatory capitalism will kill us all.”…
… Katin is particularly prone to verbalising the symbolism he sees around him. He wants to be a novelist but has yet to find a subject he deems worthy of his intellect and talent. Instead, he spends all his time pontificating about the nature of novels, recording endless notes to himself — notes we suspect he will never get around to making use of.
Katin provides us with a rather pompous view of the narrative as great art whereas, when Tyÿ reads the Tarot for Lorq, she interprets his quest (and the role of each crewmember) using the archetypal symbols on her cards, thereby highlighting the mythical context of the story for us. But, of all the characters, it is Mouse who seems closest to the vision of a traditional storyteller. Unencumbered by a need to interpret anything as other than what it is, he simply plays the old songs and tells the old stories, using his instrument to create all the fireworks and effects of mood and wonder that Katin could achieve in written form, if only he could stop theorising and actually commit words to paper….
(15) READ PLANET. Jeff Foust reviews a gigantic book about Martian exploration — “Review: Discovering Mars” – at The Space Review.
… William Sheehan, a history of astronomy, and planetary scientist Jim Bell start at the beginning: “Perhaps the earliest reference to Mars in human culture is as part of the Aboriginal Australians’ Dreamtime, a vision from time beyond memory” but which dates back perhaps more than 40,000 years, they write. From that prehistory they work through early observations of Mars to track its orbit, which over time provided the evidence to support a Sun-centered, rather than Earth-centered, model of the solar system.
The invention of the telescope in the early 1600s turned Mars from a wandering red star to a world of its own. Astronomers struggled to interpret those blurry images, but often defaulted to imprinting our knowledge of Earth onto Mars, be it interpretating areas as seas or regions of vegetation—not to mention the now-infamous “canals” seen by some in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Similarly, the era of spaceflight revolutionized our understand of Mars, killing off once and for all any thought of the planet being Earthlike. …
… In her new graphic memoir Time Zone J, Julie Doucet’s cartoon avatar comments, “I had vowed never to draw myself again.” The real-life Doucet, renowned as a pioneer of autobiographical comics since her earliest days as a 1990s zine maker, echoes the sentiment. “I just can’t believe I did that!” she says. “I had a story I wanted to tell, and I really did try to put it on paper in so many different ways, but it didn’t work out. The only way was to tell it in a comic book.”
…Asked if there are personal stories she finds difficult to tell, Doucet laughs and says, “Yes, and they’re not told.” She has a reputation with being brutally honest about her own life, but over the years she’s grown more protective of friends who feel uncomfortable about being included in her work. “For them, [the experiences] were not necessarily good memories,” she says. “So now I’m extremely careful about not putting anyone in my books who doesn’t want to be in them.”
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Batman (1989) Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says that when Michael Keaton was picked to be Batman in the 1989 film, he was only known for Mr. Mom, which could lead to “unnecessary arguments about Batman casting for decades to come. Also the producer notes that Bruce Wayne gets Vicki Vale so drunk that she passes out and then gropes around in her bra for a roll of film, “and he’s supposed to be the hero?”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Chris Barkley, David Doering, Jeffrey Smith, Rich Lynch, Will R., John A Arkansawyer, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]