(1) PDA NOW OK. MovieWeb is on hand as “Doctor Who Boldly Overturns Its Outdated Classic-Era Show Policy”.
In the ever-evolving landscape of Doctor Who, the iconic British series has taken a recent turn that spotlights its growth from a stringent past. Known for its gallivanting through space and time, the beloved show is breaking down its own historical barriers, particularly one peculiar rule that harkens back to the 1980s….
…The pivot to emotional resonance is most pointedly realized in new scenes surrounding the omnibus of Earthshock, penned by Davies himself. Here, the Memory TARDIS acts as a vessel more for emotional catharsis than for space-time travel, facilitating a heart-to-heart between the Doctor and Tegan as they process the demise of Adric, a narrative beat scarcely imagined in the show’s earlier format where stiffer upper lips prevailed.
During the 1980s, producer John Nathan-Turner’s tenure was marked by an austere decree: no displays of affection within the TARDIS. Dubbed as the “no hanky panky” mandate, it stretched beyond romantic implications to ban even the simplest of hugs, lest they be misconstrued. This directive cast a chilly pall over the TARDIS, muting the warmth that might have been shared between the Doctor and companions. Davies, with a knowing wink, playfully critiques this through dialogue that bridges the three-decade emotional gap.
It’s through exchanges like the Fifth Doctor‘s quip, “We never really did this sort of thing, did we?” and Tegan’s response, “We do now!” that the series acknowledges its own thaw. This meta-commentary doesn’t just point to a thawing of the ’80s chill; it’s also a tribute to Davies’ contribution to the series’ tonal shift when he revived it in 2005….
(2) A BOOK WITH A JONBAR POINT. “Review: The Dragon Waiting, by John M. Ford” is shared by Rich Horton on Strange at Ecbatan.
…Somewhat miraculously, Isaac Butler, a journalist and new-hatched Ford enthusiast, was able to track down his heirs and untangle the issue, which was apparently largely due to his agent leaving the field approximately as he died. Thus many of his novels have been reprinted, and some more books may be in the offing. The first to be reprinted was The Dragon Waiting….
… I won’t say much more about the plot — perhaps I’ve already said too much. But it is rich and complicated, and there are many more fascinating characters to meet: Richard III, of course (though he’s not yet the king); a Christian Welsh witch named Mary Setright; Anthony Woodville, brother-in-law to King Edward IV, and man regarded as a renaissance man, England’s perfect knight; numerous other intriguers, including for example John Morton, rumored to be a wizard; and of course Edward’s young sons, the famous “Princes in the Tower”. There is lots of action — battles, daring rescues, desperate treks. There is lots of magic — wizardly spells, a remarkable dragon, alchemy. There are acts of wrenching heroism, and of dreadful treachery, and some that might be both at once. The resolution is powerful and moving.
But most of all there is character. Cynthia’s agony over her acts of violence, in violation of her oath as a doctor. Hywel’s battles with letting is wizardly powers consume him — apparently always a danger. Dimitrios’ attempts to find a man to whom to be truly loyal. And Gregory’s agonized struggle with his vampiric needs. I am no fan of vampire novels, on the whole, but I rank two as truly worthy: George R. R. Martin’s Fevre Dream, and this novel….
(3) THOSE SEVEN-LEAGUE BOOTS. “The business of mining literary estates is booming” reports The Economist.
LORD BYRON intended to publish his memoir, but his literary executor burned it instead. T.S. Eliot is thought never to have wanted songs made about his cats. Terry Pratchett, a British fantasy writer, had imagination: his former assistant honoured Pratchett’s wish to have a steamroller crush a hard drive containing the author’s unfinished stories.
Roald Dahl, author of dark, delightful children’s tales, might have done something equally drastic had he known scriptwriters would conjure up a teenaged Willy Wonka. Dahl, who died in 1990, detested the first film made of his “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. It is hard to imagine him cheering its prequel, “Wonka”, which will be released in December. In it, young Willy, played by Timothée Chalamet (pictured), faces off against a chocolate cartel.
Authors have long tried to control what happens to their works after they die—and mostly failed. Yet Dahl’s legacy represents a new twist in the tale. Huge sums paid in 2021 for his estate by Netflix, a streaming service, have helped spur a gold rush to mine dead authors’ estates. Once it was intrusion by snoopy biographers that worried writers most. Today it is the temptation among heirs to monetise every shred of creative output.
Voracious hunger for new content from streaming services and film studios is driving this new interest in old books. Shrewd video producers, faced with bidding wars for hot new titles, have turned to more affordable options: novels written decades ago. The rights for these “backlist” works generally belong to an estate for 70 years after an author’s death. After that, the work enters the public domain, and estates can no longer profit from or control it. Consider “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey”, a film released this year, in which Pooh and Piglet, A.A. Milne’s loveable, nearly 100-year-old characters, become bloodthirsty killers.
Copyright-protected works are ripe for technological transformation. They can be milked in various ways, including selling the rights for translations into new languages, permitting “continuation novels” penned by living authors and making streaming series. For example, “The Queen’s Gambit”, which is best known as a show on Netflix, was actually based on a novel published in 1983.
Traditionally, managing the intellectual property of an author’s estate was a low-key affair left to grand-nephews and harried former agents. The modern era of more actively exploiting rights began 15 years ago, when star agents in America and Britain started vying for the estates of Ian Fleming, Evelyn Waugh and Vladimir Nabokov. The heirs of Agatha Christie and Dahl, meanwhile, set up companies to oversee growing empires….
(4) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]
Part 4 of Arthur Liu’s con report
Although originally announced as a four-part series, the latest instalment ends on something of a cliffhanger on the night of the Hugos, so there should be a concluding part to follow. This one is generally much more upbeat than the previous entries, although there are ominous hints about things to come in the final part. Extracts via Google Translate, with minor manual edits:
From this day [Thursday 19th] on, the number of foreign guests increased significantly. Based on my previous experience of attending conventions abroad, it might simply have been that they had just finished listening to panels, and had gone out to take a look around. Most of them were very interested in Chinese science fiction, and they were very happy to hear that there is such a comprehensive reference source as CSFDB. César Santivañez, editor of Future Fiction’s Cuba department, mentioned their books and did some checking with the records in the database; Estonian critic Nikolai Karayev mentioned FantLab when he came over to talk; the founder of the MUFANT Science Fiction museum in Turin David Monopoli bought our association’s journal and asked if he could record a one-minute video to introduce it; Israeli science fiction writer Uri Aviv came over to talk and learned that I like Lavie Tidhar’s works and that I also live near to one of the buildings used on the cover of Central Station. He took out his cell phone and called me over to say hello to Lavie directly.
I got a little tired in the middle of the day, so I sat behind the table to rest. Zixuan happened to pass by and said hello to me. Just behind him came a kind and slightly older foreigner. When I looked, I realized that it was Andreas Eschbach! I had only just asked for his autograph the day before, but I didn’t expect to have the opportunity to meet him in person! His “The Hair-Carpet Weavers” is one of the best science fiction works I have read in the past two years. We exchanged contact information – and not long before writing this, he sent an email. Whilst making some suggestions for the database, he also congratulated me on being shortlisted for the Hugo Award and said that if there was anything I wanted to know about his work, to contact him at any time…
[After having dinner] I returned to my hotel. [Zhong] Tianyi spent a day writing his own story, and he recovered a little, but before dinner, I went to have a midnight snack with him again. From that night on, I began to feel my body temperature intermittently become unstable. However, the local temperature difference was also very large, and as I continued to be in a state of alternating excitement and nervousness, I didn’t pay much attention to it. Now that I think about it, it may be that this is where the disease started off [referring to the severe con crud he suffered after getting back to Beijing, which I mentioned in passing on some of the earlier reports].
At a barbecue shop on the night snack street, he and I discussed some general issues, and then ate grilled locusts for the first time in my life. It is this sort of the novel experience that is closest to the spirit of science fiction at this convention…
Working at the Glasgow Worldcon table was Ann Gry. She was also one of the guest editors of “Journey Planet”. It is an amazing thing is that many foreign friends present have participated in the editing of issues of this magazine, and there is a feeling that the world is full of talents. I told her about my plans to attend the con next year, and then exchanged some gifts. She also showed me an interactive narrative game called “Loop” made by her friend. During the exchange, many people came over to take photos and sign autographs – foreigners are really more popular than ever at this conference. I hope to see more Sino-international exchanges in Glasgow next year…
The meeting was coming to an end and everyone had to say a few words. I felt a little sorry for not hearing it clearly. Then the leader said it was okay and we would talk more about it when we came back. Then he asked me if I thought I had a good chance of winning the Hugo Award and gave me his best wishes. Although everyone knew that I was doing something in this area before, in general doing science fiction has always been a kind of double life like Batman for me. Suddenly breaking out of that [private] circle feels very subtle, or wonderful – kind of like the atmosphere of Hell’s Kitchen or American Idol nearing the season finale…
When we arrived at the [Hugo] reception, we just passed by the group photo of the fan authors, as no one showed up. Officials from the World Science Fiction Convention in Seattle were handing out exclusive pins to the finalists at the entrance. This afternoon, RiverFlow was exhausted again, and had returned to the hotel to rest. We asked if we could pick it up for him, and they said no, they could send it to him later. Later, in an email, I learned that each shortlisted project would receive one, instead of each person receiving only one.
There were very few Chinese finalists at the reception. When we arrived, we only saw Regina Kanyu Wang and her partner. She took us to meet many other foreign finalists, such as Best Fan Artist finalist Richard Man, and Glasgow representative Vincent Docherty. After a while, a tall man came over, and I recognized him as Chris M. Barkley, another of the Best Fan Writer finalists. Unlike us, he has been writing columns for decades – before the conference, he also advised foreigners to be friendly to the Chinese science fiction fans attending the conference – and he can be regarded as a senior fan, although he does not look old at all! As soon as he heard that we were also finalists, he enthusiastically took a photo with us. The volunteers at the reception were recruited from nearby international schools. They came up to talk to us in English first, and then switched to Chinese. As the photoshoot was coming to an end, they took us to a nearby display table, where there were cloisonné enamel paintings carefully made by students from the Hua’Ai School [located across the road from the con venue, see Scrolls passim]. Everyone would receive one according to their preference. When receiving the gifts, Regina asked me to take a photo of her and [founder of publisher 8 Light Minutes Culture] Yang Feng. Not long after, the reception ended. Everyone split up into groups and took the shuttle bus back to the venue. The Hugo Awards party was about to begin.
This part also prompted Hugo winner RiverFlow to post another memory of the eventful evening of the Hugo ceremony, which he hadn’t mentioned in his own con report.
Purported “news” outlet apparently unable to count up to three
The byline indicates that it may be the Xinhua news agency rather than the People’s Daily that is the source for this English-language travesty, but the bottom of the piece credits a pair of “web editors”, so I feel that they are all equally culpable.
Extracts (my emphasis):
Hai Ya took away the Best Novelette award for “The Space-Time Painter” while well-known computer graphics artist Zhao Enzhe won the Best Professional Artist award…
In addition to the two [Chinese] winners, many other categories at this year’s Hugo Awards also featured Chinese authors and artists.
(Someone on Mastodon reported that they couldn’t access the original link, so I made a backup on archive.org.)
There was a similar, if not quite as blatant, omission in another Hugos writeup from the same agency/website.
I hadn’t checked this video sharing site for a few days, but there have been a few items of interest posted.
This one (uploaded by a game developer, I think) in vertical aspect is 13 minutes long, but from about 8 minutes in, it switches to a visit to a panda centre, and later on generic footage of Chengdu. There’s no dialogue, so there aren’t really any translation issues, but I can’t say I’m a fan of the music they chose to overdub the video with. I’m not sure when this was filmed; possibly before the con, or on one of the weekdays, given that much of the space seems fairly empty compared to most of the photos and videos we’ve seen.
One of the con’s interpreters posted a 2-minute video with English/bilingual captions.
This 10-minute Chinese-language video from (I think) a voice actor, doesn’t have too much that hasn’t been seen in prior photos or videos, but from around 2:45 she interviews Huawen, whose con reports were featured in a couple of recent Scrolls. At 5 minutes in, she speaks with Hugo winner Hai Ya. Warning: her presentational style is very “hyperactive YouTuber”, which some may find grating.
(5) IN A POTHOLE IN THE GROUND THERE LIVED… “Mid-Earth Removals Limited” by R.S.A. Garcia is a free story at Sunday Morning Transport to encourage subscriptions.
Public works are extra problematic in the magical realm, as R.S.A. Garcia delightfully proves in this free, first story for the month of November.
(6) I SHOT THE SHERIFF, BUT I DID NOT SHOOT THE CEO. “Mattel’s ‘Barbie’ Script Notes to Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach Asked: ‘Does a Mattel Executive Have to Be Shot’ During Beach Battle?” reports Variety.
“Barbie” screenwriters Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach recently joined Tony Kushner (“Angels in America,” “Lincoln”) for a discussion about the record-breaking Warner Bros. blockbuster and revealed one of the first notes Mattel gave them on the script: Please don’t have the Mattel exec stand-in characters be shot.
In the third act of “Barbie,” an all-out beach battle takes place between the warring Ken characters. It’s at this moment that Will Ferrell, playing the fictionalized CEO of Mattel, arrives in Barbieland along with his armada of nameless male Mattel execs. At one point one of these execs gets shot with a fake arrow during the ensuing, bloodless mayhem….
(7) A MIRROR TO SOCIETY. The New York Times interviews horror movie columnist Erik Piepenburg, “A Critic With Monsters on His Mind”.
…In an article from this year, you also described “M3gan” as a gay movie. Do you think gay audiences have a special affinity for horror?
Well, I think all horror movies are about one of two things: trauma or gayness. That’s just my queer-theory lens that people can accept or reject. But in horror movies, there’s often this notion of otherness — of the monster existing outside of societal norms. I think queer audiences can align themselves with villains who feel like outsiders, like no one understands their feelings.
I also think queer audiences appreciate the outrageous, camp quality of horror. “M3gan” is a perfect example. The villain is a demon that you kind of want to be friends with. I know people in my life who can be monsters, but I love them anyway.
What trends are you seeing in the horror genre right now?
There’s certainly a lot of Covid-inspired films — movies about being locked up inside and fears about contagions. I would say another trend is the slow-burn horror movie, one that takes time to unfold instead of hitting you over the head with monsters, explosions, ghosts and conventional horror scares. The slow burn delivers tiny moments of unease so that by the film’s end, your entire body has become so tense that it’s hard to shake. Those are some of my favorites….
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born November 5, 1903 — H. Warner Munn. Writer and Poet known in genre for his early stories in Weird Tales in the 1920s and 30s, his Atlantean/Arthurian fantasy saga, and his later stories about The Werewolf Clan. After making two mistakes in his first published genre story, he compensated by becoming a meticulous researcher and intricate plotter. His work became popular again in the 1970s after Donald Wollheim and Lin Carter sought him out to write sequels to the first novel in his Merlin’s Godson series, which had been serialized in Weird Tales in 1939. These novels were published as part of their Ballantine and Del Rey adult fantasy lines. The third novel in the series received World Fantasy and Mythopoeic Award nominations, he himself was nominated three times for the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and he was Guest of Honor at the 1978 World Fantasy Convention. He won the Balrog Award for Poet twice in the 80s, and received the Clark Ashton Smith Award for Poetry. (Died 1981.)
- Born November 5, 1938 — Jim Steranko, 84. His breakthough series was the Sixties “Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” feature in Marvel Comics’ Strange Tales and in the subsequent debut series. His design sensibility is widespread within and without the comics industry effecting even Raiders of the Lost Ark and Bram Stoker’s Dracula as he created the conceptual art and character designs for them. ISFDB says his first genre cover art was for C. C. MacApp’s 1969 Prisoners of the Sky. He was inducted into the comic-book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2006.
- Born November 5, 1940 — Butch Honeck, 83. Sculptor and Fan who learned mechanics, welding, machining, and metal finishing as a teenager, then went on to build a foundry and teach himself to cast bronze so he could create shapes that were too complex for welding. His bronze fantasy sculptures, which depict dragons, mythical creatures, wizards, and other fantasy-oriented themes, use the lost wax method with ceramic shell molds and are characterized by intricate details, mechanical components, humor, and surprise. He has been Artist Guest of Honor at several conventions, was named to Archon’s Hall of Fame, and won a Chesley Award with his wife Susan for Magic Mountain, the Best Three-Dimensional Art.
- Born November 5, 1942 — Frank Gasperik. Tuckerized in as a character in several novels including Lucifer’s Hammer as Mark Czescu, and into Footfall as Harry Reddington aka Hairy Red, and in Fallen Angels, all by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. He was a close friend of both and assisted Pournelle on his Byte column. To my knowledge, he has but two writing credits which are he co-wrote a story, “Janesfort War”, with Leslie Fish that was published in Pournelle’s War World collection, CoDominium: Revolt on War World, and “To Win the Peace” also co-written with Fish which was published in John F. Carr’s War World: Takeover. He was a filk singer including here doing “The Green Hills of Earth”. (Died 2007.)
- Born November 5, 1971 — Rana Dasgupta, 52. UK-born author now resident in India. His Tokyo Cancelled, think Tales from the White Hart at least in tone, is fascinating. Equally fascinating though not genre at all is his Capital, the story of the city of Delhi.
For many years, the six-volume series, The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, has been available in a durable hardcover edition. NESFA Press is delighted to announce the release of these books in eBook format!
This series contains all the short science fiction of Roger Zelazny. Each story is enriched by editors’ notes and Zelazny’s own words, taken from his many essays, describing why he wrote the stories and what he thought about them retrospectively.
Each volume goes for $9.95.
- Threshold: Volume 1, by Roger Zelazny
- Power & Light: Volume 2, by Roger Zelazny
- This Mortal Mountain: Volume 3, by Roger Zelazny
- Last Exit to Babylon: Volume 4, by Roger Zelazny
- Nine Black Doves: Volume 5, by Roger Zelazny
- The Road to Amber: Volume 6, by Roger Zelazny
(10) GOODREADS SAYS IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. “Goodreads Asks Users to Help Combat ‘Review Bombing’” – Publishers Weekly has the details.
After a spate of criticism and concern over the summer, Amazon-owned Goodreads this week said it is working with users to combat what’s become known as “review bombing,” a practice in which users look to protest an author or book by swamping the book with one-star reviews and negative comments. In an October 30 message to the Goodreads community, officials reiterated the website’s policy to prohibit reviews and comments that “harass readers or authors, or attempt to artificially deflate or inflate the overall rating of books,” and encouraged users to report such behavior.
“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,’” the message states, adding that the site is currently “in the process of removing ratings and reviews” added during periods of “unusual” activity. “If you see content or behavior that does not meet our reviews or community guidelines, we encourage you to report it,” the message continues. “By alerting our team, you’ll be contributing to the overall community and helping keep Goodreads a place where people can come together to share authentic reviews and enjoy interacting with readers and authors of books they’ve loved.”
The message comes after a high-profile incident in June, in which Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert announced that she was pulling her new novel The Snow Forest, which was slated to be published by Riverhead in February 2024, after more than 500 Ukrainian and pro-Ukrainian users slammed the book with negative comments and one-star reviews expressing concerns that the book—based only on a description, since the book had not yet been published—would “romanticize” Russia. Gilbert’s decision alarmed literary critics and freedom to publish advocates. It’s unclear when, or if, the book will be published. The book is not currently listed on Gilbert’s author page at Penguin Random House….
(11) THEY TORE DOWN PARADISE AND PUT UP A PARKNG LOT. Not so often anymore. Originally Los Angeles was regarded as a place that was too new to have history, let alone historic buildings. That attitude has changed over the past fifty years. “The Woman Who Has Fought to Save L.A. History From Demolition” – a New York Times profile.
…Many of Southern California’s most popular landmarks are still there because Los Angeles rallied. St. Vibiana’s Cathedral downtown, once on the brink of demolition, is now a thriving events center. The gorgeous Julia Morgan building that once housed the old Los Angeles Herald Examiner, where I used to work, is now a satellite Arizona State University campus. There’s a fight to save the bungalow where Marilyn Monroe died — a legend behind a wall in a cul-de-sac on a side street in Brentwood.
In a place with a history as growth-oriented as Southern California’s, the preservation of those properties has not been easy.
Next month, a leading voice in that effort, Linda Dishman, the president of the Los Angeles Conservancy, will pass the torch after 31 years at the organization, a nonprofit group that has been instrumental in saving pieces of Southern California’s past from bulldozers. The conservancy’s senior director of advocacy, Adrian Scott Fine, will succeed her.
Dishman and I chatted not long ago about history and growth in L.A., the nation’s second most populous city. Here is some of our conversation, lightly edited.
Los Angeles was just beginning to realize the value of historic preservation when you became the conservancy’s leader. What has changed since then?
Preservation has really become more of a commonly held value. I think of my first years, when we were fighting to save the Herald Examiner building. Fighting to save the Ambassador Hotel. Fighting to save the May Company. The Herald Examiner was going to be torn down for a parking lot, which seems so strange now. But that’s how little value people placed on these buildings and their history….
(12) BANANARAMA. Nerdist introduces us to the next ape movie: “Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes Trailer Teases an Ape Tyrant on the Rise”.
A new entry into the world of Planet of the Apes is coming our way. And it picks up generations after we left Caesar and his tribe living peacefully in War for the Planet of the Apes. Trouble, of course, is brewing, as it naturally does in order for franchises to continue. And we can sense an epic conflict coming our way. The first teaser trailer for Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes sets us up well for the “action-adventure spectacle” that awaits, promising ape tyrants, human friends, lots of danger, but also beauty. You can get your first look at what’s in store below….
[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Paul Weimer, Rich Horton, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]