(1) LASFS IN THE FIGHTING FORTIES. [Item by David Langford.] As a direct result of comments at File 770, I’ve made Bixelstrasse generally available in paperback from Lulu.com — by agreement with Rob Hansen – with all proceeds going to TAFF. It’s a pretty hefty volume at 429pp, and there’s a map on the back cover!
Rob Hansen has compiled this substantial (194,000 words) history of the 1940s Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society from contemporary fanzine accounts, so the story emerges from the participants’ own words. Besides such famous or notorious fans as Forrest J Ackerman, Charles Burbee, Claude Degler, Francis Towner Laney, “Morojo” and “Tigrina”, we meet several well-remembered professionals including Ray Bradbury, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Harryhausen, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, Fritz Lang, Fritz Leiber and A.E. van Vogt. As Rob himself puts it: “… there have been other occasions on which fans have shared premises in varying degrees, but to have a community of fans centred around a clubroom and living in nearby rooming houses on the same street gave rise to all-week, around-the-clock fanning of a sort not seen before or since. […] This set-up, the whole ’fannish village’ they established, was immensely appealing to me in my twenties (though seeing so much of each other inevitably exacerbated personality clashes, of course). Add in the large numbers of fans from around the country who passed through Los Angeles thanks to the war, many of them processed via the Induction Center at nearby Fort MacArthur before being sent off to fight, and you have something unique in the history of fandom, a saga featuring fans and pros, communists and homosexuals, madmen and mystics, Hollywood stars and spies.”
(2) BURBEE: MORE COMPLEAT THAN EVER BEFORE. In Ansible on April 1, David Langford will announce another TAFF free ebook — The Incompleat Burbee Volume 2 — expanded from the 1996 version with further previously uncollected material. Cover art by Bill Rotsler. As always, a donation to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund is welcomed.
Charles Burbee’s earlier fanwriting was collected as The Incompleat Burbee in 1958, but he carried on being grumpy, acerbic and funny (though with longer and longer gaps between appearances) for further decades. Terry Carr planned this second volume in the 1970s and typed many stencils for a duplicated (mimeo) edition that never appeared. The stencils were passed from fan to fan until finally Jeff Schalles published The Incompleat Burbee Volume 2 as a photocopied fanzine in 1996.
This ebook contains the complete text of that 1996 edition, plus a number of further Burbee articles and stories not included either then or in 1958. These begin with an early piece for Francis Towner Laney’s The Acolyte (1946), include several classics such as the legendary “I Had Intercourse with a Glass of Water” from Terry Hughes’s Mota (1974), and end with material first published in Robert Lichtman’s Trap Door after Burbee’s much-lamented death in 1996.
(3) CANCELLED FLIGHTS. Camestros Felapton follows his series of Firefly episode reviews by speculating where it would have gone next had it stayed on the air: “Firefly Friday: Riding off into the sunset part 2”.
… I also want to talk about some of the elements that either surprised me or, I believe, would have changed if the show had lasted longer. With a show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (to pick on the near-contemporary Whedon show) neither the first season nor the final season are the best examples of what the show is like. If Firefly had lasted three or four seasons it would have evolved and advocates of the show would probably be pointing to the ‘best’ episodes as ones from season 2 or 3. Star Trek: The Next Generation really improved sharply from Season 3 onwards, the most Doctor-Whoey Doctor Who is arguably Tom Baker, the FOURTH iteration of the character and multiple years into the show….
(4) STORYTELLING DECISIONS. Maryann Corbett’s review argues that Maria Dahvana Headley didn’t translate Beowulf but adapted it, and thoughtfully compares the book with the work of other translators. “The Monsters and the Translators: Grappling with Beowulf in the Third Millenium” at Literary Matters. Her review concludes:
…That narrator of Headley’s, along with a few other elements of her retelling, can make me grimace the way Professor Kendall did at my old comic book. But Headley’s book is not the comic I feared it would be after reading reviews that emphasize bro and dude; it’s an effective and enjoyable poem. I debate with myself: are my reservations fair, or are they biases built on too much early exposure to Old Stuff? I’m pleased to have read Headley. I’m more pleased to have been invited back to old books and notes and blasted forward to marvelous new ways of learning.
(5) THE HOBBITS MEN DON’T SEE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] “Tolkien Estate updates website with previously unseen content” reports The Bookseller.
…The relaunch date, 26th February, is significant in Tolkien lore because 26th February 3019 was the date in the Third Age when the Fellowship of the Ring was broken at Amon Hen and Frodo and Sam set out on their journey to Mordor.
The newly launched website, tolkienestate.com, will exhibit the literary and artistic works created by J R R Tolkien and to provide further insights into his life and times. The website includes sections on his writing, painting and calligraphy, his scholarship and letters and a timeline of his life, together with numerous family photographs. It also features an audio-visual section containing recordings and clips featuring both the author and his son, Christopher Tolkien.
(6) A FINE TIME WAS HAD BY ALL. “The Library Ends Late Fees, and the Treasures Roll In” — the New York Times is there to admire the returning relics.
…Some items, checked out decades ago, arrived with apologetic notes. “Enclosed are books I have borrowed and kept in my house for 28-50 years! I am 75 years old now and these books have helped me through motherhood and my teaching career,” one patron wrote in an unsigned letter that accompanied a box of books dropped off at the New York Public Library’s main branch last fall. “I’m sorry for living with these books so long. They became family.”
Three DVD copies of “The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day,” a 2009 action film about Irish Catholic vigilantes in Boston that has a 23 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, were returned to three libraries in three different boroughs.
When New York’s public library systems announced last October that they would be eliminating all late fines, the goal was to get books and people back to the more than 200 branches, as well as research centers, across the city after a year and a half of limited hours and access.
The goal was achieved: A wave of returned overdue materials came crashing in, accompanied by a healthy increase (between 9 and 15 percent, depending on the borough) of returning visitors.
Since last fall, more than 21,000 overdue or lost items have been returned in Manhattan…
(7) REMEMBERING STEVE STILES. Michael Dobson put together a computerized slide show as a tribute to Steve Stiles’ artwork, first shown at DisCon III in conjunction with the table sales of Steve’s posthumous collection. It’s now viewable on YouTube: “Steve Stiles – An Appreciation”. The soundtrack includes music by Ted White’s band Conduit.
(8) THIRD MAN THEME. Ally WIlkes discusses “Encounters with the Supernatural in Antarctica: A Brief History” at CrimeReads.
… The benevolent third man—which John Geiger dubs the ‘saviour’ presence—appears to be something distinct from our traditional understanding of ghosts. It appears in crisis situations and interacts with the observer, even if only to provide a sense of comfort. However, the Antarctic also contains stories of encounters with a less benevolent presence. This second type of encounter, again, doesn’t fit neatly into the category of ‘ghost’, if by that we mean the spirit of a human person who has died (and often at the place in question—Antarctica poses a bit of a conundrum on this front, as although it’s certainly seen its share of deaths, its footprint of human occupation is far later and far sparser than most other places on the planet)….
(9) FILET MINION. Illumination Entertainment’s Minions: The Rise of Gru will be released in July.
Long before he becomes the master of evil, Gru (Oscar® nominee Steve Carell) is just a 12-year-old boy in 1970s suburbia, plotting to take over the world from his basement. It’s not going particularly well. When Gru crosses paths with the Minions, including Kevin, Stuart, Bob, and Otto—a new Minion sporting braces and a desperate need to please—this unexpected family joins forces. Together, they build their first lair, design their first weapons, and strive to execute their first missions. When the infamous supervillain supergroup, the Vicious 6, oust their leader—legendary martial arts fighter Wild Knuckles (Oscar® winner Alan Arkin)— Gru, their most devoted fanboy, interviews to become their newest member. The Vicious 6 is not impressed by the diminutive, wannabe villain, but then Gru outsmarts (and enrages) them, and he suddenly finds himself the mortal enemy of the apex of evil. With Gru on the run, the Minions attempt to master the art of kung fu to help save him, and Gru discovers that even bad guys need a little help from their friends.
(10) RICHARD LABONTÉ. The family obituary for Richard Labonté has been published by the Toronto Globe and Mail: “Richard LABONTE Obituary (2022)”.
As an editor of gay anthologies, co- founder of the A Different Light bookstore chain, and mentor to many authors, he was one of the most influential advocates of queer culture and literature in North America. …Throughout the 1990s, A Different Light became a centre of queer culture in California and New York, places where authors and fans met for readings and informal receptions. Over 22 years, Richard combined his bookselling career with his editorial expertise to connect authors with thousands of new readers….
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1985 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-seven years on ABC, Max Headroom premiered. That however was not the beginning of the phenomenon known as Max Headroom. The story is based on the Channel 4 British TV film produced by Chrysalis, Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. That short film is largely similar to the pilot of ABC series.
The British film consisted of material intended to be broken into short segments for a music video program, The Max Headroom Show, which did premiere two days later. Max Headroom served as veejay, and its first episodes unusually featured no introductory title sequence or end credits, just Max as done by Matt Frewer in that amazing makeup blabbing away. It was a hit and several interactions were done including for the American cable network Cinemax.
Now back to Max Headroom. The dystopian series was set, as it said twenty minutes in the future in a city, if not a world dominated by media networks. Y’all know the story so I won’t say more than that. It did a splendid job of depicting a future of what was very obviously a limited budget.
Matt Frewer, Amanda Pays and William Morgan Shepherd are the only performers that carry from the Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future version of this story. And several characters such as Dominique, Blank Reg’s Companion, don’t exist in that bleaker version of the story. No idea if that version is available on DVD.
Max Headroom I consider to be every bit as good as Farscape or any of the better genre series. It would last but two seasons and a mere fourteen episodes before being cancelled.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 31, 1926 — John Fowles. British author best remembered for The French Lieutenant’s Woman but who did several works of genre fiction, The Magus which I’ve read a long time ago and A Maggot which I’ve not read. Some works which are not genre such as The Collector just make me shudder. (Died 2005.)
- Born March 31, 1927 — William Daniels, 95. He’s the voice of KITT on the Knight Rider series on the movie came afterwards. He also has genre appearances in The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, the original Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The Incredible Hulk, Galactica 1980, Faerie Tale Theatre, Touched by an Angel and a fantastic “appearence“ on Star Trek: Voyager where he’s the voice of Hospital Ship 4-2, Allocation Alpha in the “Critical Care” episode.
- Born March 31, 1932 — John Jakes, 90. Author of a number of genre series including the Brak the Barbarian series. Dark Gate and Dragonard are his other two series. As Robert Hart Davis, he wrote a number of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. novellas that were published in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine. The magazine apparently only existed from 1966 to 1968.
- Born March 31, 1934 — Richard Chamberlain, 88. His first dive into our end of reality was in The Three Musketeers as Aramis, a role he reprised in The Return of Three Musketeers. (I consider all Musketeer films to be genre.) Some of you being cantankerous may argue it was actually when he played the title character in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold which he did some years later. He’s listed as voicing the Jack Kirby-created character Highfather on the superb Justice League: Gods and Monsters but that was but a few lines of dialogue I believe. He was in the Blackbeard series as Governor Charles Eden, and series wise has done the usual one-offs on such shows as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Boris Karloff’s Thriller, Chuck and Twin Peaks.
- Born March 31, 1936 — Marge Piercy, 86. Author of He, She and It (published outside the UK as Body of Glass) was shortlisted for the Otherwise Award and won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. She also wrote Woman on the Edge of Time (1976) doomed to be called a “classic of utopian speculative sf”. Woman on the Edge of Time was nominated for a Retrospective Otherwise Award (1996).
- Born March 31, 1943 — Christopher Walken, 79. A performer whose first role was in The Three Musketeers, as a minor character, John Felton. He has a minor role in The Sentinel, a horror film, and a decidedly juicy one in Trumbull’s Brainstorm as Dr. Michael Anthony Brace followed up by being in Cronenberg’s The Dead Zone as Johnny Smith. Damn, I’d forgotten he was Max Zorin, the villain in A View to a Kill! H’h, I didn’t know he was in Gibson’s New Rose Hotel but then I haven’t actually seen it yet. Is it worth seeing? And let’s wrap this up by noting his appearance in The Stepford Wives as Mike Wellington.
- Born March 31, 1960 — Ian McDonald, 62. Now here’s an author that I’ve read a lot of starting with his first novel, Desolation Road, and following through to his most recent, The Luna series. I do have favorites — the aforementioned Desolation Road and the other Mars novel, Ares Express, plus the India in 2047 series and The Dervish House are the ones I like the best. Chaga I think is the one I need to read again as I was annoyed by it the first time.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
- Rhymes With Orange discovers Pinocchio’s genealogy.
(14) THE GAME’S AFOOT. Annalee Newitz was referenced on Jeopardy! last night.
(15) BEUKES ADAPTATION. Shining Girls premieres on Apple TV+ on April 29.
Based on Lauren Beukes’ best-selling novel, Shining Girls follows Kirby Mazrachi (Moss) as a Chicago newspaper archivist whose journalistic ambitions were put on hold after enduring a traumatic assault.Years after a brutal attack left her in a constantly shifting reality, Kirby Mazrachi learns that a recent murder is linked to her assault. She teams with veteran reporter Dan Velazquez (played by Wagner Moura) to understand her ever-changing present—and confront her past.
(16) BLOWN TO MORE THAN 8 BITS. “A retro computer museum in Mariupol was attacked by Russia” – NPR’s news item will probably interest Chris Garcia, who used to work in a computer museum, and it will probably make him sad, too.
Nearly two decades ago, Dmitriy Cherepanov started a collection of retro computers in Mariupol, Ukraine, that grew into an internationally known assemblage of historic machines, housed in a private museum he called IT 8-bit.
Russia’s campaign to take over his city in southeast Ukraine has killed at least 2,000 civilians, destroyed most of the city’s homes and turned Cherepanov’s beloved computer museum into rubble.
“I’m very upset,” Cherepanov, 45, told NPR. “It’s been a hobby of my life.”
IT 8-bit held more than 120 examples of computer technology and game consoles from the last century. Cherepanov estimates that up to 1,500 people visited the free museum every year before he closed it at the start of the pandemic.
Cherepanov knows the small building housing the museum was bombed, like many other structures in the city, sometime after March 15. He believes that any machines that weren’t destroyed by the blast were likely taken, given the desperate circumstances in the city now.
(17) MOON RISE. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Oscar Isaac about Moon Knight and his previous roles in Marvel movies as the villain in X Men: Apocalpyse and his voice work in Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse. “Oscar Isaac, with ‘Moon Knight,’ finally rises to the Marvel A-list”.
…To prepare for the role, Isaac said, Robert Oxnam’s “A Fractured Mind: My Life with Multiple Personality Disorder” became his bible. The book is a deeply personal account of the author’s struggles and eventual acceptance of the multiple lives taking place in his mind.
“It felt like that was the orienting principle for this, because it was a real journey into this guy’s discovery and healing, which is the integration that had to occur for him to be able to live with [multiple personalities] as a functioning human being,” Isaac said….
(18) TWO CHAIRS TALKING. David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss have an excellent adventure is episode 72 of Two Chairs Talking, “A Dangerous Kind of Vision”.
We take the Hugo Time Machine back to 1968, when Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions anthology dominated the short fiction categories. Perry and David argue about the Best Novel winner, Lord of Light.
(19) WAS CODA THE ONLY UNDERDOG TO WIN AN OSCAR? It’s well known that CODA was an underdog in the Oscar race for Best Picture, which is further proven below. The JustWatch Streaming Guide graphic shows this trend continued in other categories as well, with winners Encanto and Drive my car being less popular than other nominees in their respective categories.
JustWatch is an international streaming guide that helps over 20 million users per month across 100 countries to find something great to watch on Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV+, etc.
(20) HERE’S THE BEEF. “We Must Live in a Horrid Simulation, Because Joe Rogan Just Offered to Train Elon Musk to Fight Vladimir Putin” declares Futurism.
Sometimes it feels like our overlords are phoning it in with the stuff they’re programming into our simulation.
Exhibit A: Former UFC color commentator turned “Fear Factor” host turned notoriously dubious podcaster Joe Rogan is now offering to help Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk train so that he can fulfill his goal of kicking Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ass, presumably in retaliation for the latter’s invasion of Ukraine.
No, this isn’t the world’s dumbest round of “Cards Against Humanity” — it’s actually something the Rogan said on a recent episode of his podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” in response to Musk challenging Putin to single-hand combat earlier in March.
“I offered my services,” Rogan told his guest, Aussie comedian Monty Franklin. “I texted him. I said, ‘Dude I will arrange all of your training.’ ‘If you really do fight Putin,’ I said, ‘I will arrange all your training,’”…
(21) BRAINY VIDEO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Tom Scott tosses off 14 story ideas involving brains in under six minutes!
(22) “NOVEL” IDEA: DOWSE FOR THE DEAD. [Item by Dave Doering.] It never ceases to amaze me how “reality” can be waaayyy stranger than fiction. The Marshall Report tells about cops being trained to use dowsing rods to find buried remains. “Can ‘Witching’ Find Bodies? Police Training Alarms Experts”. Surely there’s a novel idea in there…
One student asks about dowsing rods.“You want to use some?” replies Arpad Vass, an instructor at the National Forensic Academy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where law enforcement officers come to learn how to use science to solve crimes — at least in theory. “I use them on everything.”
[Vass] teaches students the proper way to dowse and some of “the 17 scientific principles that make the rods work, which took me years to figure out.”
TechDirt’s Tim Cushing is beyond skeptical: “Cops Are Being ‘Trained’ To Use Literal Witchcraft To Find Dead Bodies”.
… Alarmed? They should be apoplectic! This is insanity. That this has gone longer than Vass’ first attempt to introduce dowsing into forensic science is an indictment of both the University of Tennessee and the law enforcement agencies that still pay to have officers and investigators subjected to cop-washed black arts by a “scientist” deep in throes of self-delusion. Dowsing “works” like a Ouija board “works.” It’s an illusion that relies on self-deception. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, science.
It does not magically become a science just because Vass is capable of using science-y words or has a background in actual science….
(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Triangle Strategy,” Fandom Games says this game is so dull it drags “more than a mandatory Zoom meeting”: and is equivalent to George RR Martin writing “a visual novel while on Ambien and not knowing what a visual novel was.” As for gameplay, the narrator complains that “I don’t want my poor decision making to come to a logical conclusion. I do that by existing.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Rob Thornton, David Langford, Chris Barkley, StephenfromOttawa, Daniel Dern, Dave Doering, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]