(1) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to take a seat at the table in Little Italy with Al Milgrom in Episode 188 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.
Al Milgrom was the artist for my ’70s run on Captain Marvel, and therefore the co-creator of Dr. Minn-Erva, portrayed by Gemma Chan in the Captain Marvel movie. But Al’s so much more than Captain Marvel.
He edited The Incredible Hulk, drew The Avengers, and both wrote and drew Spectacular Spider-Man. During his early days in comics, he lived in the same Queens apartment building as Howard Chaykin, Walter Simonson, and Bernie Wrightson. His career at Marvel lasted far longer than mine, for he was the inker of X-Factor for eight years (1989–1997) and edited Marvel Fanfare for its full 10-year run (1982–1992). But his impact wasn’t limited to Marvel, as over at DC, he co-created Firestorm with previous guest of the podcast Gerry Conway. He also worked at nearly every existing comics company during his career, including Archie, Dark Horse, Image, Star Reach, Warren, and more.
We discussed our time working together on ’70s Captain Marvel, how he responded when Gerry Conway asked him to provide cover sketches for Jack Kirby, his memories of meeting Jim Starlin in middle school (and what Joe Orlando said about the duo when they brought their portfolios up to DC Comics), what he learned working as a backgrounder for the legendary Murphy Anderson, the day Marie Severin and Roy Thomas sent him on a wild motorcycle ride to track down Rick Buckler, how the artists on Marvel’s softball team always played better than the writers, why (and how) he works best under pressure, how he became a triple threat writer/artist/editor, the conflicting advice Joe Orlando gave him about his DC Comics covers, what not to talk about with Steve Ditko, how Jim Shooter got him to edit at Marvel, and much more.
(2) 1960 TAFF TRIP REPORT. TAFF Baedeker by Don Ford is the latest addition to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s library of free downloads. And if you enjoy the book, a donation to TAFF is a fine way to express your appreciation.
Don Ford (1921-1965) was the founding US administrator of the TransAtlantic Fan Fund and also won the 1960 eastbound race held in 1959, with rival candidates Terry Carr – a later winner in 1965 – and Bjo Trimble. He attended the 1960 Eastercon in London, played tourist and visited UK fans in London, Cheltenham and Liverpool, and made a side trip to Paris. His trip report TAFF Baedeker was published promptly in two sections, 1960 and 1961. It includes sidelight contributions from several British fans who gave their own accounts of the TAFF winner’s adventures: Norman Ashfield, Ken Bulmer, Ted Carnell, Bill Gray, Roberta Gray (née Wild), Eric Jones, Ella Parker, John Roles and Norman Shorrock.
Ansible Editions ebook officially released at the TAFF site on 1 January 2023. Cover artwork by Arthur Thomson (Atom) from section two (1961) of the original report, reflecting the fact that Don Ford was not only an enthusiastic cameraman but conspicuously tall at six and a half feet. 34,000 words with introduction and notes.
(3) FUTURE TENSE. The December 2022 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series, published on December 24m is “A Lion Roars in Longyearbyen,” a story by Margrét Helgadóttir about a holiday parade, a hunter, a zoo full of lab-grown animals, and a missing lion.
Electricity was rationed at night in Longyearbyen, yet a few lights blinked stubbornly over the empty streets. Automated trash collectors alternated from side to side. One of them paused, as if sensing the tall man’s presence, then buzzed on, sucking up glittering confetti from the frozen ground….
It was published along with a response essay, “Extinction, de-extinction, and the dawn of the synthetic age” by environmental philosopher Christopher Preston.
…Environmental philosophers coined the term “biotic artifact” four decades ago. At the time, it referred to the sheep and cattle whose carefully manufactured temperaments, plump haunches, and passivity in the company of humans made them suitable objects for commodification. Upon earning the label “domestic,” they simultaneously became subjects of greater care and objects of diminished dignity compared with their wild counterparts.
Biotic artifacts were popular from the start. Wild animals suffered in the face of a hundred centuries of growth in domestic livestock. Today, 96 percent of mammalian biomass is humans and domesticated animals. This means 24 times the weight of all the lions, whales, and musk-ox combined are creatures who spend their lives in pens, fields, factories, and other manufactured spaces. The remaining 4 percent of wild, mammalian life accrues rarity value by default….
(4) SITZMARKS. Like in the game of musical chairs, some of the thrones are being removed: “George R. R. Martin Says Future ‘Game of Thrones’ Projects Have Been ‘Impacted’ by HBO Max Changes” – Variety has the story.
In a blog post on Wednesday, the author wrote that some of his planned shows in the “Game of Thrones” universe have been “shelved” at the streamer. After HBO parent company WarnerMedia merged with Discovery in April, HBO Max’s content slate has been growing thinner to cut costs, contributing to the cancellation of shows like “Love Life,” “Minx” and “FBoy Island.”
Though “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of the Dragon” had the biggest season finale HBO has seen since that of the original series and has been renewed for Season 2, Martin wrote that other projects in development aren’t as set in stone.
“Some of those are moving faster than others, as is always the case with development,” Martin wrote. “None have been greenlit yet, though we are hoping… maybe soon. A couple have been shelved, but I would not agree that they are dead. You can take something off the shelf as easily as you can put it on the shelf. All the changes at HBO Max have impacted us, certainly.”
While Martin did not specify which projects have been shelved, there are at least six projects that have been reported to be in development, including prequel series “Tales of Dunk and Egg,” the Princess Nymeria-centered “10,000 Ships” and a Jon Snow spinoff in which Kit Harington is attached to star….
(5) ZINE DIGITAL PRESERVATION. The Fanac.org Fan History project closed the year with this report on Facebook.
This is most likely our last update of the year. We have over 19,450 fanzines digitally archived and approx 23,000 publications total. Our APA Mailing view is growing as we go back and annotate our fanzine index pages, with 924 fanzines so far shown in their FAPA mailings (in context, sort of). Fancyclopedia is growing, the YouTube channel has topped 150K views, and the fannish community is continuing to provide scans and information to make the Fan History project better. Thank you all! Happy New Year.
(6) YEAR-END RECOMMENDATIONS. Fans of comics and graphic novels can make sure they caught ‘em all by consulting the New York Public Library Best New Comics of 2022 for Adults list and the American Library Association Best Graphic Novels for Adults Reading List – 2022 Nominations.
(7) READYING THE WELCOME MAT. BBC Radio 4’s nonfiction program about prospects for ”First Contact” is available for online listening or downloading.
For thousands of years we have gazed up at the stars and wondered: is anybody out there? The idea of meeting aliens has been the inspiration for countless books and films; for art and music. But today, thinking about meeting life on, or from, other planets is no longer dismissed as pure make-believe – it’s the focus of political consideration and cutting-edge space science. Farrah Jarral presents the story of the fantasy and the reality of preparing for first contact with extra-terrestrials.
(8) CHRISTOPHER TUCKER (1941-2022). Christopher Tucker, the makeup artist who created John Hurt’s prosthetics for The Elephant Man and Michael Crawford’s mask in The Phantom of the Opera, died December 14. The Guardian noted many other genre credits as well,
Tucker received official recognition from the UK film world when Bafta made its first presentation of a best makeup award in 1983. The honour went to him, along with Sarah Monzani and Michèle Burke, for their work on the 1981 Canadian-French film La Guerre du Feu (Quest for Fire), a prehistoric fantasy. It included making dentures to snap on over the actors’ own teeth. “Primitive man’s teeth were rather different to modern teeth,” Tucker observed.
…He received other Bafta nominations, for best makeup and best special visual effects, for the 1984 gothic horror film The Company of Wolves. His tasks included transforming the actor Stephen Rea into a wolf as he clutches his face and rips off his own skin – a deliberately laboured and bitingly realistic scene with muscles expanding and contracting – as well as creating wolves bursting out of the mouths of characters.
….[He] designed the face of the obese bon vivant Mr Creosote, one of the characters played by Terry Jones in the 1983 Monty Python film The Meaning of Life. He also made masks for David Niven in Old Dracula (1974), Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier in The Boys from Brazil (1978), Angela Lansbury in The Company of Wolves, and Daryl Hannah in High Spirits (1988).
Tucker was on the team that brought to life the Mos Eisley cantina bar scene, featuring various alien races, early in the first Star Wars film (1977, later retitled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope). The humanoid Ponda Baba and a giant praying mantis were his creations….
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born December 30, 1865 — Rudyard Kipling. Yea, Kipling. I didn’t do him last year and he’s written enough of a genre nature such as the Just So Stories for Little Children stories like “How the Camel Got Hump“ and “The Cat that Walked By Himself“ being wonderful stories with a soupçon of the fantastic in them that I should’ve of done so. Or there’s always The Jungle Book, which run to far more stories than I thought. Yes, he was an unapologetic Empire-loving writer who expressed that more than once but he was a great writer. (Died 1936.)
- Born December 30, 1922 — Jane Langton. Author of the Hall Family Chronicles series which is definitely SFF in nature having both fantasy and SF elements in these charming tales for children. The eight books herein are mostly not from the usual suspects though Kindle has the final novel but the Homer Kelly mysteries which both Fantastic Fiction and ISFDB list as genre or genre-adjacent are partially available. (Died 2018.)
- Born December 30, 1945 — Concetta Tomei, 77. Was Dominique, co-proprietor of Big Time TV along with Blank Reg, on the Max Headroom series which I loved. She had guest appearances on Star Trek: Voyager as Minister Odala in the “Distant Origin” episode as well was in the Deep Impact film.
- Born December 30, 1950 — Lewis Shiner, 72. Damn, his Deserted Cities of the Heart novel was frelling brilliant! And if you’ve not read his Wild Cards fiction, do so now. He also co-wrote with Bob Wayne the eight-issue Time Masters series starring Rip Hunter which I see is on the DC Universe app. Yea! Anyone that’s read the Private Eye Action As You Like It collection of PI stories I see listed on Kindle with Joe Lansdale? It looks interesting.
- Born December 30, 1951 — Avedon Carol, 71. She was the 1983 winner of the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund to Albacon II in Glasgow, and she was GOH at Wiscon II along with Connie Willis and Samuel R. Delany. She has been nominated for three Hugos as Best Fan Writer. She’s been involved in thirty apas and fanzines according to Fancyclopedia 3.
- Born December 30, 1952 – Somtow Sucharitkul, 70. AKA S. P. Somtow. A Thai-American musical composer. He’s also a science fiction, fantasy, and horror author writing in English. He’s been nominated for two Hugos, first at Chicon IV for his short story, “Absent Thee from Felicity Awhile…” and second at ConStellation for his “Aquila” novellette. He did win a World FantasyAward for “The Bird Catcher“ novella.
- Born December 30, 1959 — Douglas Anderson, 63. The Annotated Hobbit, for which he won the Mythopoeic Award, is one of my favorite popcorn readings. I’m also fond of his Tales Before Narnia: The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction which has a lot of great short fiction it, and I recommend his blog Tolkien and Fantasy as it’s one of the better ones on fantasy literature out there. Today he’s talking about Clark Ashton Smith.
- Born December 30, 1971 — Eugie Foster. She was nominated for a Hugo at Aussiecon 4 for one of the most wonderfully titled novelettes I’ve ever heard of, “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast”. It won a Nebula and was nominated for a BSFA as well. I’ve not read it, who here has read it? She was managing editor for Tangent Online and The Fix. She was also a director for Dragon Con and edited their onsite newsletter, the Daily Dragon. (Died 2014.)
- Born December 30, 1976 — Rhianna Pratchett, 46. Daughter of Terry who now runs the intellectual property concerns of her father. She herself is a video game writer including the recent Tomb Raider reboot. For her father, she’s overseen and been involved several years back in The Shepherd’s Crown, the last Discworld novel, to print. She was also with Simon Allen the writer of The Watch, the Beeb’s Ankh-Morpork City Watch series. She’s a co-director of Narrativia Limited, a production company which holds exclusive multimedia and merchandising rights to her father’s works following his death. They, of course, helped develop the Good Omens series on Amazon.
(10) A WRITER LOOKS AT HIS PROSE IN THE MIRROR. “Outside the Human Aquarium: Clark Ashton Smith on Art and Life” at Douglas Anderson’s Tolkien and Fantasy blog includes this self-analysis from a 1932 letter by Clark Ashton Smith:
…To the best of my belief, the style in which I write is a perfectly natural mode of utterance for me, and is not affected. My approach to literature is primarily artistic, poetic, esthetic, and for this reason I like the full-hued and somewhat rhythmic type of prose. For many years, I wrote only verse (I have published three volumes of it); and I have always had a prejudice in favor of what is called “the grand manner.” I have also made many paintings and drawings, of a fantastic type; and this pictorial trend has probably influenced my story-writing too. Perhaps, in some case, it has led me to an overuse of adjectives in the effort to achieve a full and vivid vizualization, or rendering of atmosphere….
(11) OSCAR ANTICIPATION. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The Hollywood Reporter writer Scott Feinberg handicaps upcoming Oscar nominations in each category by grouping films/auteurs/actors/works into three categories: Frontrunners, Major Threats, and Possibilities. “Feinberg Forecast: Last Snapshot of the Oscar Race Before the New Year”.
One of the few categories where genre performances are running strong is —
*BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS*
Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever)
Dolly de Leon (Triangle of Sadness)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere All at Once)
Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once)
Janelle Monáe (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery)
(12) LO, NO NOTE TO FOLLOW SO. From Variety we learned that “‘Solo 2’ Is Entirely Fan-Driven, Because a Sequel Is Not a ‘Lucasfilm Priority,’ Says Ron Howard”.
Ron Howard’s “Star Wars” prequel movie “Solo” was supposed to launch a new sector of storytelling for the long-running franchise. Young iterations of Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) were introduced and intended for sequels and spinoffs, while the 2018 film also revealed that Darth Maul was still alive. None of these plot threads have continued as “Solo” bombed at the box office with just $392 million worldwide, barely making a profit for Disney.
Speaking to NME in a recent interview, Howard said that any talks of a “Solo” sequel are coming only from fans and not Lucasfilm itself. In other words, “Solo 2” is still dead.
…Howard added, “But there’s some great characters launched, and the folks from Lucasfilm love the fans and really do listen so I would never say never — but I’m not aware of any concrete plans right now to extend the story or deal with that particular set of characters.”…
(13) NYCON 3 SITE MEETS FATE. [Item by Andrew Porter.] Building being torn down is the Hotel Pennsylvania, formerly the Statler-Hilton, site of 1967 World SF Convention, many Star Trek, SF, comics conventions, even a Nebula banquet. “Demolition Progresses for 1,200-Foot PENN15 at 15 Penn Plaza in Midtown, Manhattan” at New York YIMBY.
…Since our last update in June, the entirety of Hotel Pennsylvania has been enshrouded in scaffolding and the first floors have begun to be razed from the top of the structure. This upper section had a lighter stone façade with columns, window pediments, and a thick ornate cornice stretching across the roof parapet. The LED advertising boards on the corners of the Seventh Avenue elevation remain uncovered and operating as work progresses above. Demolition is expected to finish by July 2023, as noted on the construction board….
(14) TAKING DR WHO FOR GRANITE. NPR explains, “Zircon is the best timekeeper for understanding Earth’s past”.
The oldest known Earth stuff that remains on the surface of our planet is a mineral that’s been called the “Time Lord” because it’s so incredibly good at keeping geologic time.
The mineral is zircon, and scientists have found bits of it that formed 4.37 billion years ago, not too long after the proto-Earth’s epic collision with a Mars-sized object that spawned our moon.
Tiny crystals of zircon can look like sand, or useless crud. But don’t be fooled. With a radioactive tick-tock that marks the passing of billions of years, these small but mighty minerals offer us a peek into the Earth’s early development.
…In the Jack Hills region of western Australia, for example, there’s rock that formed from a beach 3 billion years ago. The oldest zircons ever discovered came from this rock.
Ackerson once found a zircon that’s 4.32 billion years old. Zircons that old “are extremely, extremely, extremely rare, and they’re the only windows we have into the earliest Earth,” he says.
These days, to know a zircon’s exact age, scientists can zap it with a laser like the one at a geochronology lab at Penn State University….
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Turner Movie Channel’s in memoriam reel “TCM Remembers 2022” includes many genre figures including Nichelle Nichols, Douglas Trumbull and Robbie Coltrane.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, Joey Eschrich, Dariensync, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]