(1) WHAT HAPPENS IN TRISOLARIS — STAYS IN VEGAS. “Netflix to Stage ‘3 Body Problem’ Immersive Experience at CES 2024”. Variety tells what visitors at the Las Vegas event will encounter.
Next month, Netflix will have a booth on the main CES show floor for the first time — where it will stage an “immersive experience” for the “3 Body Problem,” the sci-fi drama series from “Game of Thrones” duo David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and Alexander Woo.
The streamer’s exhibit space at CES 2024 will be located at the Las Vegas Convention Center’s Central Hall, Booth #17048. Per Netflix’s description of the activation: “An otherworldly headset will transport CES attendees into the mysterious world of ‘3 Body Problem’ in a fun and experiential way, showcasing the series’ genre-bending high stakes.” The experience keys off a key narrative element in the “3 Body Problem” universe, in which a gaming headset is used by characters to transport into an unknown world.
In the wearable-display experience, CES attendees will be able to watch the series trailer for the very first time. And as they watch, Netflix says, “they are transported into an immersive, real-world extension of the series, revealing clues about the nature of the core threat in the ‘3 Body Problem.’”…
(2) BAD BUZZ ABOUT GOODREADS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The saga of Cait Corrain, et al., takes the lede in the Guardian story, “’It’s totally unhinged’: is the book world turning against Goodreads?”
For Bethany Baptiste, Molly X Chang, KM Enright, Thea Guanzon, Danielle L Jensen, Akure Phénix, RM Virtues and Frances White, it must have been brutal reading. All received scathing reviews on Goodreads, an online platform that reputedly has the power to make or break new authors.
But the verdicts were not delivered by an esteemed literary critic. They were the work of Cait Corrain, a debut author who used fake accounts to “review bomb” her perceived rivals. The literary scandal led to Corrain posting an apology, being dropped by her agent and having her book deal cancelled.
It also uncovered deeper questions about Goodreads, arguably the most popular site on which readers post book reviews, and its outsized impact on the publishing industry. Its members had produced 26m book reviews and 300m ratings over the past year, the site reported in October. But for some authors, it has become a toxic work environment that can sink a book before it is even published.
“It has a lot of influence because there are so many people now who are not in the New York ecosystem of publishing,” says Bethanne Patrick, a critic, author and podcaster. “Publishers and agents and authors and readers go to Goodreads to see what is everybody else looking at, what’s everyone else interested in? It has a tremendous amount of influence in the United States book world and reading world and probably more than some people wish it had.”
Goodreads allows users to review unpublished titles. Publishers frequently send advance copies to readers in exchange for online reviews that they hope will generate buzz. But in October, Goodreads acknowledged a need to protect the “authenticity” of ratings and reviews, encouraging users to report content or behaviour that breaches its guidelines.
Goodreads said: “Earlier this year, we launched the ability to temporarily limit submission of ratings and reviews on a book during times of unusual activity that violate our guidelines, including instances of ‘review bombing’. This kind of activity is not tolerated on Goodreads and it diminishes the community’s trust in people who participate.”…
(3) THE HAUNTENING. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4 has had a short comedy, thriller. When he gets a gift from his girlfriend, he does not realize that it is a deep fake powered by an artificial intelligence. But the AI does not take well to criticism and things soon become personal… You can listen to it here. “The Hauntening”.
Travel through the bad gateway in this modern ghost story as writer and performer Tom Neenan discovers what horrors lurk in our apps and gadgets. In this episode, a celebrity birthday message from Joanna Lumley turns into a terrifying gift for Tom
Modern technology is terrifying. The average smartphone carries out three-point-three-six billion instructions per second. The average person can only carry out one instruction in that time. Stop and think about that for a second. Sorry, that’s two instructions – you won’t be able to do that.
But what if modern technology was… literally terrifying? What if there really was a ghost in the machine?
(4) POSTERIZED. Think of it as a start on next year’s shopping. Or simply a well-deserved gift for yourself. “Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk (Millennium Records, 1977)” at Heritage Auctions. Bidding is only up to $16 at last look.
Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk (Millennium Records, 1977). Very Fine on Linen. All English Language Japanese Record Store Poster (20.25″ X 29.25″) Robert Rodriquez Artwork.
Even though its films take place in a galaxy far, far away, the Star Wars franchise has connected with audiences since the original film’s release in 1977. 20th Century Fox had no idea that the film would resonate so much with fans, so when George Lucas agreed to pass up a $500,000 directing bonus to attain merchandising rights, it seemed safe for the studio to do. However, Lucas, who had seen the merchandising blitz that came with his good friend Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, knew well the power that films had on consumers. George Lucas’ imagination led to a licensing goldmine of action figures, play sets, posters, board games, books, trading cards, costumes, and more. It’s been 45 years since Star Wars hit the screen, and the franchise has raked in over $29 billion in merchandise sales alone. Much more than the Joseph Campbell hero’s journey set in a space opera, the retail and promotional items made in conjunction with this multi-faceted property have brought tremendous joy to fans worldwide and remain coveted among collectors. The characters, the settings, and the galaxy continue to be beloved by Force believers, and here we present an extensive treasure trove of rare items dating from 1977 to today. May the Force be with you!
Offered in this lot is a rare all-English language Japanese record store poster for Meco’s best-selling album Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk, which reworked the Star Wars score into a disco and jazz fusion medley. A restored poster with bright color and a clean overall appearance. Minor touchup and color touchup is applied to several creases. Grades on all restored items are pre-restoration grades.
(5) VISION QUESTS. Deadline studies the rapid advancement in animation effects in “’Across The Spider-Verse’, ‘Nimona’ & ‘TMNT: Mutant Mayhem’ VFX”.
… Since the first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature was awarded in 2002 to DreamWorks’ Shrek, the animation industry has made incredible strides. This awards season, such films are pushing the boundaries of what animation can be, and VFX plays a huge part in infusing new artistic styles into every frame….
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse pushed the animated comic book style of the 2018 film even further with six new, distinct worlds and a visually complex villain.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse amazed everyone in 2018 with an interpretation of animated comics, and set a bar for what animation could look like. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse exceeded expectations with the introduction of six new worlds, each with a new style of animation. While these were all challenging in their own way, VFX supervisor Mike Lasker says the most challenging aspect of the film was the new villain, the Spot.
“This was the culmination of every tool in our toolbox we had created over the course of production,” he says. “We had a lot of great reference paintings of him, and there were all these different, dark and evil sorts of purples and ink splattering off of him as he moved his limbs.” Using 2D tools integrated into the 3D animation software, Lasker’s team was able to add hand-drawn ink lines, paint strokes, distortion, and more to create the final look. “We ended up using the stroke system, ink splatter coming off the layers, heavy compositing, lighting, paint strokes—every area of the pipeline was involved.”
Lasker says look supervisor Craig Feifarek was an essential part of creating the final look of the Spot. “Craig actually lit and composited all of these shots,” he says. “He did a great job, but also the animation department did an amazing job prototyping how the Spot acts in the last shots of the film. They were able to create all these crazy flash frames… I look at this now and I’m still in awe of what they’ve done.”
(6) HERE’S MY NUMBER AND A DIME. Slashfilm says “A Chance Run-In With Ray Bradbury Helped Bring Blade Runner To The Big Screen”.
…Paul M. Sammon’s “Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner” provides an in-depth look at the genesis of “Blade Runner” and details Fancher’s attempts to seek out [Philip K. Dick] the man behind “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Unfortunately, the search was proving fruitless at first, with Fancher claiming “it was just about impossible to learn anything about him.” The writer, eager to get going on a script, took a trip to New York in search of the mysterious author’s agents, who turned out to be unhelpful.
What happened next was complete luck, according to Fancher, who ended up “accidentally” running into an author not dissimilar to Dick: the legendary author Ray Bradbury. The man responsible for sci-fi classics such as “Fahrenheit 451” and “The Martian Chronicles” handed Fancher a lifeline during their chance encounter. Flipping through his address book, he found Philip K. Dick’s home phone number and promptly handed it over to Fancher.
As the future co-writer of the “Blade Runner” script recalled: “the next day, in fact, I called Phil about the book and we set up an appointment to meet in his apartment.” The two spoke at Dick’s Santa Ana home where they are said to have gotten along well despite Fancher sensing some “manic” and “self-reverential” tendencies in the author, who seemed initially wary of any Hollywood treatment of his novels….
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.
[Written by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 24, 1910 — Fritz Leiber. (Died 1992.) Now in Birthdays we come to the matter of Fritz Leiber.
Warning: this is my list of favorite works by him, not a definitive look at him.
I’ll start with The Big Time as it has long been my favorite work by him, and I must say that it has magnificently held up over the years. No Suck Fairy has dared approach it lest she turn to dust on the winds of the Change Wars.
First published sixty-two years ago as a novel by Ace Books, The Big Time started out as a two part-serial in Galaxy Magazine‘s in the March and April 1958 issues. It would win the Hugo Award for Best Novel or Novelette at Solacon.
It was well-received with Algis Budrys liking it but he noted it was more of a play than an actual novel. One set, a small number of actors — perfect to be staged.
There were also the Change War stories, collected in Snakes & Spiders: The Definitive Change War Collection, published by Creative Minority Productions which I can’t say I’ve ever heard of. It is available from the usual suspects. And yes, I just got a copy as I can still read short stories fine even if novels are long beyond me.
Next up without question are that barbarian and thief duo, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Leiber wrote it as a counterpoint he says in part to such characters as Conan the Barbarian, and I for one like them very much better. I think I’ve read all them, and they’re certainly his most entertaining writing by far.
I really like Conjure Wife which was awarded the Retro Hugo Award at Dublin 2019. A most delicious take on the premise that all women are witches, and told all so well.
Yes, I like his short stories by I can’t remember which are my favorite ones other than the Change
That’s my list of favorite Leiber works, what’s yours?
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Tom Gauld sends help to those hunting for last-minute gifts.
(9) AFTER THE CALAMITY. [Item by Steven French.] Read Jeff Vander Meer “On Sven Holm’s Novella of Nuclear Disaster” in The Paris Review. The post-apocalyptic story Termush, originally published in 1967, was reissued earlier this year with a foreword by Vander Meer:
…In its treatment of the aftermath of nuclear war, Termush distinguishes itself from the so-called disaster cozies of the fifties, like the novels of John Wyndham, to occupy more urgent territory. In this genre, the dangers of some calamitous situation become entwined with an almost cheery disaster-tourism tone; more importantly, civilization always wins in the end, even if in an altered form. The militias may hold sway for a while, or the plague lay waste to whole towns, but by the novel’s close, equilibrium and balance, logic and order, always return to human endeavors. Not so much in Termush, which also eludes, through its particular focus and narrative velocity, echoes of Cold War conflict that otherwise might have dated the novella. Instead of a pervading sense of “the other” about to storm the gates, Holm delves into the psychology of the holed-up survivors and the hazards of societal breakdown….
… The right excerpt from Termush could easily have appeared in New Worlds, the seminal sixties magazine for the New Wave…
(10) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes us inside the “Wish Pitch Meeting”.
[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]