(0) MIKE’S ALL HALLOWS’ EVE PLAGUE POSTING. These days when symptoms – like a runny nose – show up you don’t just say, “Hey I must be getting a cold.” So this morning I ran a home Covid-19 test and it came up positive. My energy level is down – which I noticed yesterday, and accounts for the short Scroll on Sunday, a trend likely to continue today.
(1) FUTURE TENSE. The October 2022 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series, published this past Saturday, is “Galatea,” by Ysabelle Cheung, a story about gender, companionship, and the inner lives of robots.
It was published along with a response essay, “The Cultural Baggage Behind Feminized A.I.”, by Dorothy R. Santos, a researcher who studies voice recognition and speech technology.
(2) HEAR PAUL MCAULEY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] One of BBC Radio 4’s hidden gem today was all about cells, and in the mix was sff author Paul J. McAuley.
He has a new book out Beyond the Burn Line. He also has a reprint of The Secret of Life (2001) just out. (Not that long ago SF2 Concatenation had former botanist “Paul’s top ten inspiring scientists of the 20th century.) Here’s some info on today’s programme.
The Pulitzer-winning oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee recalls the thrill of seeing for the first time the extraordinary ‘luminosity’ of a living cell. In his latest work, The Song of the Cell, he explores the history, the present and the future of cellular biology. He tells Adam Rutherford that without understanding cells you can’t understand the human body, medicine, and especially the story of life itself.
‘Once upon a time I fell in love with a cell.’ So recalls the leading cardiologist Sian Harding, when she looked closely at a single heart muscle cell, and she found a ‘deeper beauty’ revealing the ‘perfection of the heart’s construction’. In her book, The Exquisite Machine, she describes how new scientific developments are opening up the mysteries of the heart, and why a ‘broken heart’ might be more than a literary flight of fancy.
The prize-winning science fiction writer Paul McAuley was once a research scientist studying symbiosis, especially single-celled algae inside host cells. He has since used his understanding of science to write books that ask questions about life on earth and outer-space, and about the implications of the latest cutting edge research, from nanotechnology to gene editing. His 2001 novel The Secret of Life, which features the escape of a protean Martian microorganism from a Chinese laboratory, has just been reissued.
Download programme from the bottom of this page as mp3. Start the Week: “Building the Body, Opening the Heart”.
(3) POLK AND ROANHORSE. “CL Polk and Rebecca Roanhorse in Conversation!” will be a free virtual event happening on Tuesday, November 8 at 6:00 p.m. (Mountain). It will be streaming to the Old Firehouse Books Facebook page.
Old Firehouse Books is thrilled to welcome World Fantasy Award-winning author C.L. Polk and Hugo Award-winning author Rebecca Roanhorse to our virtual event space! They’ll be joining us to celebrate their newest novellas, Even Though I Knew the End and Tread of Angels!
(4) MANGA ADAPTATION COMMENTARY. Alexander Case has posted the inaugural episode of the Anime Explorations podcast. Case and his friends David and Tora take a look at Masami Yuasa’s 2020 adaptation of the manga Keep Your Hands off Eizouken. Anime Explorations Episode 1: “Keep Your Hands off Eizouken – Breaking it all Down”.
(5) MEMORY LANE.
1985 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Ray Bradbury Theater
So we come to the end of this run of essays on some of the things Ray Bradbury has done by discussing that absolute gem of a show, The Ray Bradbury Theater.
It first ran on HBO in the United States from 1985 to 1986, and then on USA Network, running for four additional seasons from 1988 to 1992. All told sixty episodes were done over the six seasons it aired.
It of course it was Ray Bradbury that created this series and everything here was written off stories by him which, of course, he scripted here. Creative jiggering as need be was undertaken. Some of that was done to fit the shorter stories to the timeframe of the series; some to make it suitable for airing. Sometimes he combined stories when he felt like doing so.
Each episode would begin with a shot of Bradbury in his actual office, looking fondly over photos and memorabilia of his life, which he states are used to give him ideas for his stories. The narration he spoke was different each season.
It is his Fifties collections of short stories – Golden Apples of the Sun, The Illustrated Man, The October Country and The Martian Chronicles, that are largely the source material that he draws upon for The Ray Bradbury Theater. One of these is “And the Moon Be Still as Bright” was first done for television on The Twilight Zone as scripted by him.
Name a performer that you like and it’s probable they wandered into this Theater at some point. Really they did. I even saw Lucy Lawless as Liddy Barton in “Fee Fie Foe Fum”.
Look, it’s simply wonderful. Just go watch it for the first time or again, you won’t regret the decision.
It’s airing currently on Peacock and a lot of other streaming services.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born October 31, 1923 — Arthur W. Saha. A member of the Futurians and First Fandom who was an editor at Wollheim’s DAW Books including co-editing the Annual World’s Best SF for 1972 to 1990 and editing Year’s Best Fantasy Stories for 1975 to 1988. And he’s credited with coming up with the term “Trekkie” in 1967. (Died 1999.)
- Born October 31, 1936 — Michael Landon. Tony Rivers in I Was a Teenage Werewolf. (That film made two million on an eighty thousand dollar budget. Nice.) That and lead as Jonathan Smith in Highway to Heaven are, I think, his only genre roles. (Died 1991.)
- Born October 31, 1946 — Stephen Rea, 76. Actor who’s had a long genre history starting with the horror films of Cry of the Banshee, The Company of Wolves (from the Angela Carter short story) and The Doctor and the Devils. He’d later show up Interview with the Vampire, The Musketeer, FeardotCom, V for Vendetta, Underworld: Awakening, Werewolf: The Beast Among Us and Ruby Strangelove Young Witch. He had the role of Alexander Pope in the most excellent Counterpart series.
- Born October 31, 1958 — Ian Briggs, 64. He wrote two Seventh Doctor stories, “Dragonfire” and “The Curse of Fenric”, the former of which of which introduced Ace as the Doctor’s Companion. (The latter is one on my frequent rewatch list.) He novelized both for Target Books. He would write a Seventh Doctor story, “The Celestial Harmony Engine” for the Short Trips: Defining Patterns anthology.
- Born October 31, 1959 — Neal Stephenson, 63. Some years back, one of the local bookstores had an sf book reading group. One of the staff who was a member of that group (as was I) took extreme dislike to The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer. I don’t remember now why but it made me re-read that work (which was very good) and Snow Crash (which was equally good). My favorite novel by him is The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. There’s a sequel to the latter work but it’s not written by him.
- Born October 31, 1972 — Matt Smith, 50. He’s the current and longest-serving editor of long-running 2000 AD, and also the longest-running editor of its sister title Judge Dredd Magazine. He written three Judge Dredd novels plus a number of other genre novels based off the properties he edits. Along with Alan Ewing and Michael Carroll, he’s written the Judge Dredd audiobook, a take on the newly deputized Dredd.
- Born October 31, 1979 — Erica Cerra, 43. Best known as Deputy Jo Lupo on Eureka, certainly one of the best SF series ever done. She had a brief recurring role as Maya in Battlestar Galactica, plus one-offs in pretty much anything you’d care to mention for roles such as Pretty Girl. 7
- Born October 31, 1993 — Letitia Wright, 29. She co-starred in Black Panther playing Shuri, King T’Challa’s sister and princess of Wakanda. (Yes, she is in both Avengers films.) Before that, she was Anahson in “Face the Raven”, a Twelfth Doctor story, and was in the Black Mirror’s “Black Museum” episode.
(7) MACABRE MERCHANDISE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Home Depot’s skeleton has 164 plastic bones, “or about 80 percent of the 206 in an adult human body.” “Still the Biggest Skeleton in the Game?” asks the New York Times.
Darkness had fallen by the time a crew unloaded the 17 boxes filled with bones from a truck on a Thursday night in September.
After all the boxes were carried into a Home Depot near the Jersey Shore, some of them were placed near its entrance, while others spent the night in a holding area usually reserved for lumber. The next morning, at 5 a.m., workers unpacked a box and assembled its contents. Soon after, one by one, the boxes disappeared. By noon three days later, all were gone….
(8) SOME LOVE HORROR IN SPITE OF THEMSELVES. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] Here’s a 1985 Halloween television appearance on NBC network affiliate, KYW TV, in Philadelphia during which host Dana Hilger and I discuss the often snobbish, yet universal popularity of horror films through the years.
(9) TALKING ABOUT THE HISTORY OF MOVIE MONSTERS AND CLASSIC HORROR. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] I want to thank popular comedian and radio personality Grover Silcox for inviting me to share a delightful segment of his venerable weekly television interview series, Counter Culture, which aired a few years ago on WLVT TV, Channel 39, Public Television in Allentown.
We sat together at the famed “Daddypops Diner” in Hatboro, Pennsylvania where the wonderful series is filmed, and talked about Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Sr., and Lon Chaney, Jr. at Universal Pictures, Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing at Hammer Film Productions in England, Germany’s original “Dracula” interpretation, “Nosferatu,” from 1922, as well as “The Haunting,” directed by the great Robert Wise, which I consider the most frightening film ever made, and the long, distinguished history of Horror Movies.
For anyone who didn’t see the show during its initial broadcast, you can catch my episode on line by accessing the link above. You’ll find my segment in the middle of Episode No. 3. Simply click on the photograph of the young woman within the program description, and it will lead you directly to the episode.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Steve Vertlieb, Joey Eschrich, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]