(1) GREG BEAR MEDICAL UPDATE. File 770 has been receiving copies of Astrid Bear’s FB friends-locked updates about Greg Bear’s decline during the past week, the kind of thing I ordinarily run only with permission of the author. However, today a great many writers publicly shared his latest status, and I will too.
To catch everyone up, here is Robert J. Sawyer’s concise explanation of what has happened:
“Greg Bear had heart surgery eleven days ago on November 8, to redo his aortic arch replacement and repair the proximal descending thoracic aorta work done in a previous heart surgery in 2014. The current operation seemed to go well.
“As of eight days ago, on November 11, he still hadn’t woken up from the anesthetic. A CT scan showed multiple strokes, caused by clots that had been hiding in a false lumen of the anterior artery to the brain ever since Greg’s original surgery eight years ago.”
Today it was announced Bear will soon be taken off life support. This screencap is being shared by many, including Charles Stross, and obviously with the greatest sympathy and regard.
(2) CORFLU FIFTY WINNERS FOR 2023. [Item by Rob Jackson] Rich Coad and I, as US (including Canada) and UK (including Europe) Administrators for the Corflu Fifty fan fund, are delighted to announce that we have picked, and got enthusiastic acceptances from, two Corflu Fifty winners for Corflu Craic, the 40th Corflu which is being held at the end of March in Belfast: Sue Mason (fan artist from London), and Pascal Thomas (fan editor from Toulouse).
(3) SUPERSTAR CHEN. Tordotcom editor Ruoxi Chen carried away the prize at Publisher Weekly’s Star Watch event. “PW Star Watch Finalist Ruoxi Chen Named ‘Superstar’ Winner” — Publishers Weekly has details, including a list of all the other finalists.
More than 100 people came out on November 15 to celebrate some of the best and brightest names in publishing at PW’s annual Star Watch event, held this year at the Monarch Rooftop in New York City.
In an evening punctuated by food and fanfare, Tordotcom Publishing editor Rouxi Chen became the toast of the town when she took away the $2,500 Superstar prize and used her moment to call attention to the ongoing HarperCollins union strike.
In a short speech, the room erupted into applause as Chen dedicated her win to her family and her “colleagues at HarperCollins who are fighting for workers rights.”
“This industry is sometimes not the easiest one to be in, but it wouldn’t be possible without all of you,” she said. “To my incredible authors, an editor isn’t anything without the books. And I am so grateful that I get to work on editing your stuff.”…
(4) ANOTHER GIANT SHRINKS STAFF. “Amazon Announces Layoffs in Books, Devices” reports Publishers Lunch.
Amazon ceo Andy Jassy told employees on Thursday that the company would “eliminate a number of positions” in the Devices and Books divisions. In a memo to staff, he said that this year’s operating planning review “is more difficult due to the fact that the economy remains in a challenging spot and we’ve hired rapidly the last several years.”
They have not yet announced which roles have been cut or how many, or how the changes will affect the functioning of the Books division. (Unlike Books, Devices has been a drag on the company, reportedly losing over $5 billion a year.)
… Other divisions will be given the option of taking voluntary buyouts, and additional reductions are planned for early 2023.
(5) WOOSTER MOURNED. National Review columnist John Miller has written a tribute to his friend: “Martin Morse Wooster, R.I.P.”
Martin Morse Wooster started a peculiar tradition years ago: Whenever he spotted a “John Miller” in the news, he let me know. Early on, he sent clips by regular mail, cut from the pages of his prodigious reading. At some point, the emails outnumbered the stamped envelopes. Along the way, I learned about hordes of people with whom I share a name. They included loads of criminals and at least one person who attended a Star Trek convention as a Klingon.
I’m sorry to say that I’ll never again receive one of these notices: Martin died on November 12, killed in a hit-and-run accident in Virginia….
(6) MEMORY LANE.
1967 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Casino Royale
Ahhhh spoofs. A long tradition they’ve had in all forms of entertainment and it’s no surprise that the Bond films got a delightful one in the Casino Royale film. It premiered fifty-five years ago, the same year as You Only Live Twice, the fifth Sean Connery Bond film.
So why so?
Well, it turns out that Casino Royale was the only Ian Fleming book not sold to producers Saltzman and Broccoli for the official James Bond series. Because of the popularity of Sean Connery’s Bond, and because of Connery’s considered expensive million dollars per film price, Charles Feldman decided to make the film a spoof. After production troubles and budget overruns that I’ll detail below, Feldman later told Connery it would have been considerably cheaper to pay him his salary.
It was very, very loosely based upon the 1953 novel of the same name.
TIME TO GO GET A COCKTAIL OR TWO AS FILM SECRETS FOLLOW.
The film stars David Niven as the “original” Bond, Sir James Bond 007, forced out of retirement to investigate the deaths and disappearances of a number of spies. In doing so, he soon is matching wits with Dr. Noah of the not very evil SMERSH. Remember this is a parody.
Now we come to the really fun part of the film, the matter of multiple, might-be Bonds.
Remember the film’s tagline: Casino Royale is too much… for one James Bond!
Bond’s plan is to mislead SMERSH by having six other agents be him — baccarat master Evelyn Tremble (Peter Sellers); Bond’s daughter with Mata Hari, Mata Bond (Joanna Pettet); Bond’s secretary Miss Moneypenny (Barbara Bouchet); British agents Coop (Terence Cooper) and The Detainer (Daliah Lavi); and even a millionaire spy Vesper Lynd (Ursula Andress).
Need I say that Bond’s plan, and the film, really did go awry. I’ll discuss that below.
NO MORE SECRETS ALAS WILL BE REVEALED.
The film was a horrid affair with nearly everyone hating being involved as the ensemble cast thought each other was getting more lines than they were, everyone thought each other was getting a better salary and everyone grumbled bitterly about their accommodations.
Sellers it is said took the role of Bond to heart, and was quite annoyed at the decision to make Casino Royale a comedy, as he wanted to play Bond straight.
It had five directors, three writers (credited, though it is said legions would work on it) and five producers. It was constantly being rewritten and reshot. The studio never like what they saw in the dailies and demanded constant changes.
Despite all of that and the critics wanting to drive a stake through its heart, it made forty-seven million against a budget of twelve million, twice what the studio originally budgeted. Time has been kind to it — current critics like it a lot better.
The success of the film in part was attributed to a marketing strategy that featured a naked tattooed woman on the film’s posters and print ads. You can see that poster below. I personally think calling her naked is really, ready a stretch, isn’t it?
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born November 19, 1887 — Boris Karloff. Where do I start? Well, consider the Thirties. He portrayed Frankenstein’s monster in Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein, and Imhotep in The Mummy. And he played a great pulp character in Dr. Fu Manchu in The Mask of Fu Manchu too! Now let’s jump forward to the Sixties and the matter of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! which featured him as both the voice of The Grinch and the narrator of the story. I know I’ve skipped four decades — that means not a word about such as Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde where he was the latter. (Died 1969.)
- Born November 19, 1914 — Wilson Tucker. Author and very well-known member of fandom. I’m going to just direct you here to “A Century of Tucker” by Mike as I couldn’t say anything about him that was this good. (Died 2006.)
- Born November 19, 1916 — Michael Gough. Best known for his roles in the Hammer Horror Films from the late Fifities and for his recurring role as Alfred Pennyworth in all four films of the Tim Burton / Joel Schumacher Batman series. His Hammer Horror Films saw him cast usually as the evil, and I mean EVIL! not to mention SLIMY, villain in such films as Horrors of the Black Museum, The Phantom of the Opera, The Corpse and Horror Hospital, not to overlook Satan’s Slave. Speaking of Doctor Who, Gough appeared there, as the villain in “The Celestial Toymaker” (1966) and then again as Councilor Hedin in “Arc of Infinity” (1983). He also played Dr. Armstrong in “The Cybernauts” in The Avengers (1965) returning the very next season as the Russian spymaster Nutski in “The Correct Way to Kill”. Gough worked for Burton again in 1999’s Sleepy Hollow and later voice Elder Gutknecht in Corpse Bride. He would mostly retire that year from performing though he would voice later that Corpse Bride role and the Dodo in Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. (Died 2011.)
- Born November 19, 1955 — Steven Brust, 67. Of Hungarian descendant, something that figures into his fiction which he says is neither fantasy nor SF. He is perhaps best known for his novels about the assassin Vlad Taltos, one of a scorned group of humans living on a world called Dragaera. All are great reads. His recent novels also include The Incrementalists and its sequel The Skill of Our Hands, with co-author Skyler White. Both are superb. His finest novel? Brokedown Palace. Oh, just go read it. It’s amazing. And no, I don’t love everything he’s done. I wrote a scathing reviewing of Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille and he told us at Green Man that he might be the only person who liked the novel. Freedom & Necessity with Emma Bull is decidedly different but good none the less and his Firefly novel, My Own Kind of Freedom, is stays true to that series. He’s quite the musician too with two albums with Cats Laughing, a band that includes Emma Bull, Jane Yolen (lyrics) and others. The band in turn shows up in Marvel comics. A Rose For Iconoclastes is his solo album and “The title, for those who don’t know, is a play off the brilliant story by Roger Zelazny, “A Rose For Ecclesiastes,” which you should read if you haven’t yet.” Quoting him again, “’Songs From The Gypsy’ is the recording of a cycle of songs I wrote with ex-Boiled-in-Lead guitarist Adam Stemple, which cycle turned into a novel I wrote with Megan Lindholm, one of my favorite writers.” The album and book are quite amazing! And yes, he is on my chocolate gifting list. He’s another dark chocolate lover.
- Born November 19, 1967 — Salli Richardson-Whitfield, 55. Best known genre role is as Dr. Allison Blake on Eureka which can be seen on Peacock as can Warehouse 13. I’m reasonably sure her first genre role was as Fenna / Nidell in the “Second Sight” of Deep Space Nine but she charmingly voiced Eliza Mazda, the main human character, on the Gargoyles series! She shows up as the character named Dray’auc in “Bloodlines” on Stargate Sg-1 and had a role on a series called Secret Agent Man that may or may have existed. She was Maggie Baptiste in Stitchers, a series that lasted longer than I expected it would.
- Born November 19, 1970 — Oded Fehr, 52. Actor from Israel whose most well-known genre roles are as the mysterious warrior Ardeth Bay in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, and as Carlos Oliveira (or his clone) in three of the Resident Evil films: Apocalypse, Extinction, and Retribution. (His Mummy roles no doubt led to his casting in voice roles in Scooby-Doo in Where’s My Mummy? and as The Living Mummy in the animated Ultimate Spider-Man and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.) On Charmed, he played the demon Zankou, the main villain of the show’s seventh season. He’s had an impressively long list of appearances on TV series, including recurring roles on Once Upon A Time, Stitchers, V, and The First, a series about the first mission to Mars. He has also voiced characters on numerous other animated features and series. He appeared in the third season of Star Trek: Discovery as Fleet Admiral Charles Vance.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Tom Gauld did a cartoon about the great Twitter exodus for the Guardian.
(9) GUNN Q&A. Deadline profiles “James Gunn On Leaving Marvel, DC Plans, & ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special’”.
James Gunn revealed on Twitter today in response to a fan’s question that he and new DC Studios co-head Peter Safran are planning to reveal their new DC plan to the Warner Discovery team in the next two months.
“Yes, that is true (revealing it to the WBD team)” wrote Gunn on Twitter.
Safran and Gunn were appointed the heads of DC Studios, a separate silo that Warner Discovery Boss David Zaslav wanted under the studio’s motion picture umbrella, on Oct. 25. Gunn going forward remains exclusive to WarnerDiscovery and can’t do any Marvel projects, his last ones for the Disney studio being The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special which drops on Black Friday, Nov. 25, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 which hits theaters on May 5, 2023.
When asked by Deadline recently how he felt about leaving the Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy sandbox behind for DC, Gunn responded “I feel really comfortable. I feel really good. We did this. I think this is a bit of goofy fun that the Guardians needed as an aperitif for Volume 3, which is an enormous film. I had a plan from the beginning.”
“The reason why I needed to finish this is because I love the character of Rocket more than any character I’ve ever dealt with before, and I needed to finish his story and that is what Volume 3 is about. I absolutely needed to do it, and I think we’ve done it in a spectacular way that I can’t wait for people to see.”
(10) PEEKING DISCOURAGED. The owner of the subject Area 51 website/blog currently has their tail in a wringer: “Air Force, FBI raid Nevada homes in probe of Area 51 website” reports Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Agents from the U.S. Air Force and FBI recently raided homes in Clark and Lincoln counties in an investigation of a man who operates a website about the top-secret military base known as Area 51, a spokesman confirmed Wednesday.
The Air Force Office of Special Investigations and FBI entered homes owned by Joerg Arnu in Las Vegas and the tiny town of Rachel on Nov. 3 and seized potential evidence for an undisclosed joint agency probe, according to Lt. Col. Bryon McGarry, spokesman for Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.
“This is an open and ongoing law enforcement investigation between the Las Vegas FBI and Air Force OSI,” McGarry said in a statement.
He declined to elaborate on the basis for the investigation, but Arnu, of Las Vegas, is the webmaster of a site titled Dreamland Resort, focusing on Area 51, an Air Force base in Lincoln County about 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas where testing is conducted on new and classified U.S. military aircraft.
Dreamland Resort, at dreamlandresort.com, started by Arnu in 1999, features YouTube videos taken from drones flown over places around Area 51, satellite images of the base, a discussion forum with posts on the topic, articles on test flights, “black projects” and UFOs, and what it says are photos of new vehicles such as the so-called “super secret” Northrop Grumman RQ-180 unmanned stealth aircraft shown flying in 2021.
Arnu, reached by email Wednesday, declined comment until he can speak to his attorney. But he forwarded a news release posted on his web page last week telling his side of the story….
As an example of what you find at Dreamland Resort, this 2006 post is old but might be news to you, about an innovative aircraft named for a spaceship from Star Trek: “Bird of Prey – An Innovative Technology Demonstration”.
(11) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. The Onion informs us “Facebook HQ On Lockdown After Mark Zuckerberg’s Avatar Breaks Out Of Metaverse”.
Amid grim reports that several engineers working in the virtual reality server room had been violently dismembered, Facebook’s headquarters were on lockdown Friday after Mark Zuckerberg’s avatar reportedly broke out of the metaverse….
(12) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. “Space Cowboy Books Presents: Simultaneous Times podcast Ep.57 – Jeff C. Carter & Noah Lloyd”.
Stories featured in this episode:
Hive Songs – by Jeff C. Carter (with music by Phog Masheeen)
In September – Noah Lloyd (with music by Johnny O’Donnell)
(13) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. [Compiled by John King Tarpinian.] L. Frank Baum and his wife purchased a lot one block in Hollywood north of Hollywood Boulevard on the corner of Cherokee and Yucca, which today is the block behind the restaurant Musso & Frank’s. There in 1910 they built Ozcot, a two-story frame home featuring a large library, an attic where Baum stored his manuscripts and props from various plays, and a solarium. The dining room is described as having “light fixtures of cut copper sheets and thick pieces of emerald glass” casting “intricate patterns of green light” in the evenings – his own personal emerald city.
Ozcot’s grounds were as impressive as the house. A large Aviary housed a collection of exotic birds, and a chicken yard was home to a flock of Rhode Island Reds. Baum spent hours in his garden, where the southern California climate allowed him to grow numerous blooms, especially dahlias and chrysanthemums. A goldfish pond was also located in the garden.
Baum felt right at home in Hollywood – he won many awards for his flowers at the Hollywood Woman’s Club shows and was a member of the Los Angeles Athletic Club’s exclusive Uplifters. He also spent the last nine years of his life writing children’s books under six different pen names and he founded the ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful Oz Film Manufacturing Company.
L. Frank Baum passed away at Ozcot in 1919. His widow Maud lived long enough to witness the success of The Wizard of Oz, which premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, just down the street from Ozcot.
Ozcot was demolished in 1953 and today a plain two-story apartment stands, and is slated to be demolished for a larger complex. There is nothing about the site that would suggest its association with one of America’s most beloved writers.
The story continues that after he passed away his widow started to burn his papers, since his books were already on the book shelf. A nephew came over one day and stopped her. Back in those days it was not uncommon for a house to have an incinerator in the backyard to burn your garbage. My parents’ home had one.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Danny Sichel, Jeffrey Jones, Rob Jackson, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]