Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles (2019), Edited by Michael A. Ventrella and Randee Dawn (FantasticBooks). 280 pages. Hardcover $25.99, Trade paperback $15.99, E-book $7.99.
By Lee Weinstein: The idea of an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories about the Beatles seems like a natural. I’ve been told the two editors, each unbeknownst to the other, both presented the idea to the publisher around the same time.
Although the stories vary quite a bit there are common themes running through the anthology. There are variant timelines, alterations of the past, and many tales containing in-jokes in the form of well-known lines from Beatles songs. Some of the stories include their manager Brian Epstein and two early Beatles who didn’t quite make it into the group we now know, drummer Peter Best, and bassist Stuart Sutcliffe.
There is an informative introduction by best-selling author Nancy Holder for those not up on their Beatles history and an alphabetical list of mini-biographies of the represented authors.
There are 25 stories here, most by well known authors. With the exception of the first story and the last, they are all original to the anthology. These two stand out though.
“Rubber Soul,” by Spider Robinson, (1982) opens the collection. It is a wistful, somewhat oblique tale of a John Lennon, resurrected by advanced medical science by an elderly Paul, to enable him to jam with his former bandmates for old times sake.
It closes with “Doing Lennon” by Greg Benford (1975), which was a Hugo and Nebula nominee. It is about a would-be John Lennon imposter who is wakened from cryogenic sleep in the future.
In between are 23 stories of varying quality
Standouts include “The Truth Within” by Sally Grotta, a frightening look at an alternate world in which George Harrison teaches Richard Nixon Transcendental Meditation with unanticipated results.
Another is Gregory Frost’s “A Hard Day’s Night at the Opera,” which is a quite funny recasting of the Beatles as the four Marx Brothers, although the characters have more of Marx than Beatles about them.
Naturally, there are many more alternate versions of the Beatles in other tales, some more successful than others. “The Heretic” is a short-short in which the Beatles are revered saints in a future church based on John Lennon.
David Gerrold’s “The Fabtastic Four” features them as the quartet of Marvel superheroes. In “Come Together” by Allen Steele, they are depicted as four AI’s in a space probe, and in “Foursomes” by Schneyer they are portrayed as the Four Musketeers. In “The Walrus Returns” by Gail Z. Martin they are friends who failed as a band years earlier, have mundane jobs, and together solve a mystery involving a river monster and a ghost. “Game Seven” by Bev Vincent portrays the four as ice hockey teammates. In Keith DeCandido’s story “Used to Be” and in “A New Beginning” by Jodi Lynn Nye they are cast as wizards in alternate timelines. In Gordon Linzner’s “The Hey, Team” they are four agents who sprung from prison for a mission to rescue “Maybelline.”
There are twists and turns and lots of puns on lyrics. Cat Rambo’s “All You Need” is set in a dystopian future Seattle in which four robots built in the images of the Four turn up. “Cayenne” by Beth Patterson, is about four Cajun musicians, Jean, Paul, George and Ringaux who are sent on a mission to put down a werewolf. Along similar lines is “Undead in the Material World: The British Zombie Invasion Revisited” by Alan Goldsher, a comical takeoff on Frankenstein, in which the Beatles are literally zombies
A common theme throughout is one of parallel universes and alteration of the past. In Lawrence Watt-Evans’s “Paul is Dead” a man reaches into the past to convince a failed foursome to travel with him to a timeline where they will meet greater success, while in “A Perfect Bridge” by Charles Barouch, a software engineer reaches back to 1967 to convince the foursome to change the name of their new label to “Apple.”
In Eric Avedissian’s “Liverpool Band Battle, 1982” a destitute John Lennon desperately attempts to get the Beatles back together years after the group had failed and the members have gone on to other jobs. He needs to win a music competition to pay the prize money to a loan shark. “Deal with the Devil” by Carol Gyzander is an amusing tale about teens contacting the Beatles via a TV set using black magic.
Some of the stories don’t fit into neat categories. Matthew Amati’s “Apocalyse Rock” is set after a 1962 atomic war. It’s a rather off-the-wall post-holocaust romp with American trio “The Beetles,” Jorje, Wrongo, and Jean-Paul who impress the British member of the band Fresh Cream.
One of the more imaginative, if sometimes abstruse, pieces, is Brenda Clough’s “My Sweet Lord of Light” which somehow mixes together George Harrison, Hindu mythology, Roger Zelazny, and parallel universes. In “When I’m # 64” by Patrick Barb, Paul McCarney, for unexplained reasons, dies periodically over the decades, but his deaths are always temporary and he keeps returning.
Pat Cadigan’s “Meet the Beatles” is kind of a wish dream in which a dying woman and the ghost of a departed friend in the present transport to a 1966 Beatles concert in Cleveland and they literally become John and George for a short time. Christian H. Smith’s “Through a Glass Onion” is set in an alternate timeline in which a working class John Lennon in 1988 is able to glimpse our timeline’s Beatles through the titular glass onion given to him by a mysterious stranger.
From the perspective of someone who always liked the Beatles and their music, but was never a “Beatlemaniac,” I found that these stories are best read a few at a time. Individually they were enjoyable, but collectively, I think one could become Beatled out after a while. Nonetheless, this book would make an interesting addition to the libraries of alternate history fans and is a must read for the true Beatles fan.
Read more articles by Lee Weinstein at his website.
… I took Le Guin for granted. When she died in 2018, I could have fit the span of my life inside hers almost three times. She had always been there, like a mountain, or the sun, and it was easy to fall into the certainty that she always would be. I was unfamiliar with her most celebrated works—The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed, books by which she became the first woman to win a Hugo Award for Best Novel, and then, five years later, the first woman to have won it twice.
I had assumed, with all the oblivious confidence of youth, that I’d get to read them while she was still with us and talk to her about them. I imagined that I would meet her one day, under ideal conditions that would make me seem interesting enough for conversation, and ask her about poetry, about being a middle-aged woman in the 1970s, and about science fiction. Her passing hit me harder than I expected, considering my slender acquaintance with her work, but that was the thing about Le Guin: to have lost her was to have lost a world I longed to visit….
(2) ROMANTIC NOVEL AWARDS. The Romantic Novelists Association announced the winners of the 2022 Romantic Novel Awards in London on March 7. The awards celebrate excellence in romantic fiction in all its forms. The complete list is here. In the RNA category of genre interest the winner is —
The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award
A Marvellous Light, Freya Marske, Pan Macmillan
(3) HIDDEN TREASURE. [Item by Bill Burns.] The BBC Archive started a new YouTube channel a couple of months ago, and there are some interesting SF items: BBC Archive – YouTube. As well as Star Wars, Doctor Who, and other media items, there’s these more mainstream pieces from broadcast programs:
“Arthur C Clarke predicts the future” (September 1964)
“Douglas Adams on HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY game” (1984)
“ISAAC ASIMOV’s 3 laws of ROBOTICS” (1965)
(4) SCREENTIME MACHINE. For the first five seconds I thought it was a Monty Python sketch. But no – these are all legit sff writers on a 1979 episode of the BBC’s Book Programme trying to answer the question “What is SCIENCE FICTION?”
Robert Robinson presents a science-fiction themed edition of The Book Programme. What constitutes science-fiction, is there room in the genre for the metaphysical or spiritual, or should writers slavishly stick to the scientific? What is to be made of the phenomenon that is the sci-fi convention – is there something unique to science fiction that inspires such devotion in its fans? And is all fiction slowly becoming science fiction? Taking part are: Douglas Adams, the author of the science-fiction comedy ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’; Harry Harrison, a prolific science fiction writer best known for his ‘Deathworld’, ‘Stainless Steel Rat’ and ‘Bill, the Galactic Hero’ novels; Peter Nicholls, the editor of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction; and Ian Watson, whose book ‘The Jonah Kit’ won the British Science Fiction Association award for Best Novel and whose new book “God’s World” is reviewed here and forms the basis for the discussion.
…If you’re just joining us, the Non-Fiction Spotlights are a project, where I interview the authors/editors of SFF-related non-fiction books that came out in 2021 and are eligible for the 2022 Hugo Awards….
Why should SFF fans in general and Hugo voters in particular read this book?
Carl: I first became interested in Lovecraft because of references to him in popular culture. As I began to read more and more of his stories, I became fascinated by the ways his work continues to show up in everything from heavy metal music to board games to internet memes to television shows. What I didn’t know was that there were dozens of others having similar experiences. This book provides a glimpse at what others have discovered in their own journey through Lovecraft. I think anyone with an interest in Lovecraft, including SFF fans and Hugo voters, can discover just how far Lovecraft’s influence goes through a book like this. Even those who already have a firm grasp of Lovecraft should be able to find new insights and research opportunities here….
…A more fully formed story started to emerge in 2020. This original fairy tale explored both the conflict and the generosity she was seeing in the world around her. She noticed, for example, that throughout the pandemic, some people worked together to protect one another from the coronavirus, and others did not.
“I saw the power that one individual has to make something better for another,” she said.
A conversation with her “awesome and interesting” 10-year-old nieces also helped shape the story. The girls’ parents are philosophers. They study knowledge — how people think and reason and how they decide right from wrong. The girls thought that philosophy should also consider kindness and animals.
Barnhill listened. “The Ogress and the Orphans” probes what happens to people’s hearts and to the spirit of their communities when they give to others — or turn away. What happens when they respect and include others — or seek power over them?…
(8) WOOL GATHERING. At Bandcamp, Aidan Baker’s album “The Sheep Look Up” is intended as “a ‘soundtrack’ to John Brunner’s 1972 dystopian novel.” Baker is a Canadian musician “making experimental ambient music.”
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1968 — [Item by Cat Eldridge] Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series has a fascinating Hugo history.
She won a Hugo the first time she was nominated, for the novella “Weyr Search” at Baycon (tied with Philip José Farmer’s “Riders of the Purple Wage”.) It was published in Analog Science Fiction / Science Fact, October 1967. It’s in A Dragon-Lover’s Treasury of the Fantastic anthology which was edited by Margaret Weis, available from the usual suspects at a very reasonable price.
It would be the only win for the Dragonriders of Pern series but by far is not the only nomination for the series.
Next up would be the “Dragonrider” novella which was nominated one year later at St. Louiscon. Three years later, her Dragonquest novel would get a nod at the first L.A. Con showing that Con had impeccable taste. And at Seacon ‘79, The White Dragon gets nominated. (I really love that novel.) The next L.A. Con would see another novel be nominated, Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern. (I’ve never heard of that one.) And the final nomination, also for a novel, was at MagiCon, for All the Weyrs of Pern.
The series did win a number of other awards including a Nebula for Dragonrider, a Ditmar and Gandalf for The White Dragon, a Balrog for Dragondrums and The Science Fiction Book Club’s Book of the Year Award for The Renegades of Pern. It is, after all, an expansive series.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 7, 1925 — Richard Vernon. He is perhaps best remembered for playing the role of Slartibartfast in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. His first genre role was Sir Edgar Hargraves in the Village of the Damned which was adapted from John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos. He’s also in Goldfinger as Colonel Smithers. (Died 1997.)
Born March 7, 1926 — Alan Sues. Here for his outstanding performance in The Twilight Zone’s “The Masks” as Wilfred Harper, Jr., one of the most chilling scripts written for that series. He really didn’t have much of a genre history showing just otherwise on Wild Wild West and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch unless you want to include Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July where he played Scratcher the jealous Reindeer. (Died 2011.)
Born March 7, 1942 — Paul Preuss, 80. I know I’ve read all of the Venus Prime series written by him off the Clarke stories. I am fairly sure I read all of them when I was in Sri Lanka where they were popular among the British ex-Pat community. I don’t think I’ve read anything else by him.
Born March 7, 1944 — Stanley Schmidt, 78. Between 1978 and 2012 he served as editor of Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine, an amazing feat by any standard! He was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor every year from 1980 through 2006 (its final year), and for the Hugo Award for Best Editor Short Form every year from 2007 (its first year) through 2013 with him winning in 2013 at LoneStarCon 3. He’s also an accomplished author and l know I’ve read him but I can’t recall which novels in specific right now though I know I enjoyed what I read by him.
Born March 7, 1945 — Elizabeth Moon, 77. I’ll let JJ have the say on her: “I’ve got all of the Serrano books waiting for when I’m ready to read them. But I have read all of the Kylara Vatta books — the first quintology which are Vatta’s War, and the two that have been published so far in Vatta’s Peace. I absolutely loved them — enough that I might be willing to break my ‘no re-reads’ rule to do the first 5 again at some point. Vatta is a competent but flawed character, with smarts and courage and integrity, and Moon has built a large, complex universe to hold her adventures. The stories also feature a secondary character who is an older woman; age-wise she is ‘elderly’, but in terms of intelligence and capability, she is extremely smart and competent — and such characters are pretty rare in science fiction, and much to be appreciated.”
Born March 7, 1954 — Elayne Pelz, 68. She is a member of LASFS (and officer) and of SCIFI who worked on myriad cons, mainly in art show and treasury. She was married to famous SF fan Bruce Pelz and assumed leadership of Conagerie, the 2002 Westercon, upon Bruce’s death and the con was held successfully. She was the Chair of Loscon 20.
Born March 7, 1970 — Rachel Weisz, 52. Best remembered for The Mummy films which I really, really love (well the first two with her), and her first genre film was Death Machine, a British-Japanese cyberpunk horror film which scores rather well – fifty-one percent — among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. I’ve also got her in Chain Reaction and The Lobster. As of late, Weisz starred as Melina Vostokoff in the MCU film Black Widow.
It’s only been a few days since Disney’s lavishly pricedStar WarsGalactic Starcruiserattraction previewed for invited media, influencers, and guests—yet eBay listings are already being promoted for exclusive items from the experience. Some item postings even have timetables for guests who have yet to step onto the Halcyon ship but promise to bring back merch for sale.
A sign that this might be different from the usual hive of scum and villainy where merch-flippers tend to dwell is that the prices seem to reflect ways to offset the cost of the trip itself—or for those who got freebies to maybe even get on board again….
…Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro has brought up another point of contention: The new format for the upcoming awards ceremony.
The Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts recently unveiled its new format, which involves pre-taping a select eight categories and announcing the winners in a pre-show. The categories moved to this lower-tier position include Best Production Design, Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Score, Sound, Documentary Short, Animated Short and Live-Action Short. After the last couple of arduous years in the film industry, del Toro thinks this change could not come at a worse time.
“The nominees that we have here, most of the ones we have here tonight, [worked] against many, many difficult odds [to get here], and we don’t do [films] alone,” del Toro said while receiving the Hollywood Critics Association’s Filmmaking Achievement Award. “We do them together, and the people that made them with us did it risking everything in a pandemic, showing up, making the day, somewhat in a miracle.
“I must say, if any year was the year to think about it, this is not the year not to hear their names live at the Oscars. This is the year to sing it, and sing it loud,” Del Toro continued. “We shouldn’t do it this year; we shouldn’t do it ever, but not this year… And we must say this… 2021 was a f**king great year for movies.”…
(13) TIME’S THREE. “Take three historical figures, throw them together in some situation, and tell us the story that ensues.” That simple description was enough make a success of Fantastic Books’ Kickstarter campaign, fully funding the anthology Three Time Travelers Walk Into…, which will appear in June. “It pulls together the adventuring of such disparate figures as Julia Child, Jesus Christ, Michael Jackson, and Vlad the Impaler (well… not all in one story).”
Edited by Michael A. Ventrella, the contributing authors are Eric Avedissian, Adam-Troy Castro, Peter David, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Gregory Frost, David Gerrold, Henry Herz, Jonathan Maberry, Gail Z. Martin, Heather McKinney, James A. Moore, Jody Lynn Nye, L. Penelope, Louise Piper, Hildy Silverman, S.W. Sondheimer, Allen Steele, and Lawrence Watt-Evans.
NASA’s Perseverance rover has involuntarily adopted a traveling companion, in the form of a stone that’s lodged in one of its six aluminum wheels.
An image captured by Perseverance’s Onboard Front Left Hazard Avoidance Camera, or Hazcam for short, shows the interloper sitting on the interior of a wheel. The rover must’ve kicked up the rock while exploring Jezero Crater, where it’s been operating since it landed on Mars in February 2021.
The picture was taken on February 25, 2022, but a similar image taken five days later showed the rock still firmly in place. The stone, it would appear, is now a stubborn fixture of the $2.2 billion rover….
(15) RETURN TO SENDER. “Dreaming of Suitcases in Space”. Hard to believe, but the New York Times, not Philip K. Dick, came up with that title. “A California start-up company believes it can one day speed delivery of important items by storing them in orbit.”
…Inversion is building earth-orbiting capsules to deliver goods anywhere in the world from outer space. To make that a reality, Inversion’s capsule will come through the earth’s atmosphere at about 25 times as fast as the speed of sound, making the parachute essential for a soft landing and undisturbed cargo.
Inversion is betting that as it becomes cheaper to fly to space, government agencies and companies will want to not only send things to orbit but also bring items back to earth….
…What Inversion is trying to do is not easy. Designing a vehicle for re-entry is a different engineering challenge than sending things up to space. When a capsule enters the atmosphere from space, it is traveling at such high speeds that there is the danger of burning up — a huge risk for human travelers and precious nonhuman cargo alike.
Seetha Raghavan, a professor in the University of Central Florida’s mechanical and aerospace engineering department, said it would be even more difficult to handle the heat, vibration and deceleration of the capsule when the vehicle size shrank.
“It all becomes harder when you have a smaller item to control,” Ms. Raghavan said.
Inversion’s plan for capsules in orbit raises questions about whether it will contribute to congestion in space, already a problem with the megaconstellations of satellites. And the abundance of satellites interfering with observations of planets, stars and other celestial bodies has been a common complaint among astronomers.
But Inversion said it was using materials to make its capsules significantly less reflective to decrease visual pollution. In addition, the company said its capsule would come with systems to avoid debris and collisions in orbit….
(16) CUBISM. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist/illustrator Will Quinn did this piece commemorating the Dungeons & Dragon‘s gelatinous cube.
According to Patreon, “I listen to ‘Not Another D&D Podcast’ while I draw these days, and they were coincidentally fighting an ooze monster during this drawing (not a Gelatinous Cube, though. It was a Juiblex).”
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Rob Thornton, Ben Bird Person, Chris Barkley, Bill Burns, SF Concantenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Charon Dunn.]
Though this new post confirms that Gill has also “finished filming” on the next set of episodes, the BBC is yet to officially confirm if she will be departing her role as companion Yaz Khan.
Both stars will return for the show’s 13th series, set to air from 31st October on BBC One. This will be followed by two specials which will air in 2022, then one final feature-length adventure for Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor which will also mark the BBC’s centenary.
Speaking to Digital Spy, he explained: “It all depends. The moment you say yes to Doctor Who, even before you’ve done an episode, you’re being asked whether you’d go back after you finish. I don’t know if this happens to James Bonds. I don’t know if Pierce Brosnan gets asked if he’d go back to James Bond.
“Because there’s that element of fantasy, anything is ultimately possible. You should never say never to anything. I think that way madness lies.”
Well, that didn’t take long – Tennant is voicing the Doctor in a game:
David Tennant returns to the world of Doctor Who today with a special voice appearance in Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality, a video game that sees Tennant’s Time Lord sharing a screen with Jodie Whittaker’s incumbent version of the famous TV hero. But this return did come with a bit of “weirdness” thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fans cried during the airing of the “Star Trek” episode, “The City on the Edge of Forever.” This particular program would be proclaimed by many as the “greatest episode” in the franchise’s history. Written originally by science fiction scribe Harlan Ellison, “City” featured a story that taught the cruel lessons of time travel.
… Kirk, Spock, and McCoy (DeForest Kelley) were able to travel into the past with the help of a living machine known as the Guardian of Forever….
(3) HITTING THE THEMATIC TARGET. Author and editor Michael A. Ventrella from the Pocono Liars Club chats with authors and editors Keith DeCandido and Randee Dawn on the topic of “Writing for Themed Anthologies” with lots of stories, laughs, and advice for writers and editors both!
[Note: iPlayer link only works in UK, but YouTube has the episode. This game segment comes after the 20-minute mark.]
(6) GUESS WHO’S A BIG JEAN-LUC FAN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Travis M. Andrews and Roxanne Roberts say Jeff Bezos has been a Trekker since fourth grade, when he’s come home from school and watch classic Trek episodes. Andrews and Roberts note that Bezos’s favorite captain is Jean-Luc Picard, and that he nearly named Amazon makeitso.com. His current favorite sf writers are Alistair Reynolds, Ernest Cline, and Andy Weir and it’s not a coincidence that Amazon Studios saved The Expanse after the show was killed by Syfy. “Jeff Bezos and Star Trek: A love affair”.
…“For years, I have been begging Paramount, which is owned by Viacom, to let me be in a ‘Star Trek’ movie,” he said that year. “I am very persistent, and you can imagine the poor director who got the call: ‘You have to let Jeff Bezos be in your ‘Star Trek’ movie. ”
Bezos said he was willing to be unrecognizable but wanted a speaking part — and one that was central to the plot so it didn’t end up on the cutting-room floor.
Bezos appears in the first five minutes of the film as an alien Starfleet officer stationed at Yorktown Starbase in 2263 who scans Kalara as she pleads for help from Commodore Paris and Captain Kirk. “Speak normally,” Bezos tells her. The cameo role required such extensive makeup that he could only drink through a straw.
“He was awesome,” director Justin Lin told the Associated Press. “It was like a president was visiting, you know? He had a big entourage! But it didn’t matter because he was so into it. He had to wait around all day because it was one day we were shooting like three different scenes and, it was also credit to Jeff because … he just nailed it every time.”…
(7) YES BUCKS, YES BUCK ROGERS. I’m still catching up, and this seems a timely place to slip in Saturday Night Live’s “Billionaire Star Trek” sketch from a week ago.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1926 – Eighty-five years ago, A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, was first published in the United Kingdom. It is a collection of short stories with illustrations by E. H. Shepard. It was the first of two such collections, the second being The House at Pooh Corner. (Yes, it’d later be a song written by Kenny Loggins and performed by their Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on their 1970 Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy album but I digress.) The book was well-received at release, and was an extraordinary success, selling some one hundred fifty thousand copies before the end of the year. Winnie-the-Pooh has been adapted in other media, most notably by Disney beginning with Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree in the Sixties. Both books are free as part of the Audible Plus program.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 14, 1899 — Martin Miller. He played Kublai Khan in the completed erased by the BBC First Doctor story, “Marco Polo”. He’s in the first Pink Panther film as Pierre Luigi, a photographer, and has roles in Danger Man, Department S, The Avengers and The Prisoner. In the latter, he was number fifty-four in “It’s Your Funeral”. The Gamma People in which he played Lochner is I think his only true genre film though I’m obviously open to being told I’m wrong. (Died 1969.)
Born October 14, 1927 — Roger Moore. Bond in seven films 1973 to 1985, a long run indeed. And he played Simon Templar in The Saint for most of the Sixties, an amazing one hundred eighteen episodes. Let’s not forget that he was in the Curse of the Pink Panther as Chief Insp. Jacques Clouseau! He even got to play Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes in New York. (Died 2017.)
Born October 14, 1946 — Katy Manning, 75. She was Jo Grant, companion to the Third Doctor. She also appeared in that role with the Eleventh Doctor on the Sarah Jane Adventures in a two-part story entitled “Death of the Doctor”. She appears as herself in the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
Born October 14, 1949 — Crispin Burnham, 72. And then there are those who just disappear. He was the founder, writer and publisher of Dark Messenger Reader / Eldritch Tales from 1975 to 1995 as the publisher Yith Press. He was also a prolific essayist from 1973 to 1995, his final essay being a reflection on the life and career of Robert Bloch. There’s nothing to show him active after 1998 when the final part of his “People of The Monolith” was publishedin Cthulhu Cultus #13. Then he vanishes without a trace.
Born October 14, 1953 — Richard Christian Matheson, 68. Son of the Richard Matheson that you’re thinking of. A very prolific horror writer mostly of short stories, he’s also no slouch at script writing as he’s written for Amazing Stories, Masters of Horror, The Powers of Matthew Star, Splatter, Tales from the Crypt, Knight Rider (the original series) and The Incredible Hulk. Wiki claims he wrote for Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber but IMDB shows no such series or show. The usual suspects have a goodly number of story collections available for him.
Born October 14, 1953 — Greg Evigan, 68. TekWar, one of Shatner’s better ideas, starred him as Jake Cardigan. I really liked it. Yes, Shatner was in it. He also shows up in DeepStar Six as Kevin McBride, as Will South in the horror film Spectre aka The House of The Damned, as Marcus Cutter in Cerberus: The Guardian of Hell, and on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents as David Whitmore in “In the Driver’s Seat”.
Born October 14, 1963 — Lori Petty, 58. Rebecca Buck – “Tank Girl” in that film. She was also Dr. Lean Carli in Cryptic, and Dr. Sykes in Dead Awake. She had one-offs in The Hunger, Twilight Zone, Star Trek: Voyager, Brimstone, Freddy’s Nightmares and Alien Nation, and voiced quite well Livewire in the DCU animated shows.
Born October 14, 1968 — Robert C. Cooper, 53. He was an executive producer of all the Stargate series. He also co-created both Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe with Brad Wright. Cooper has written and produced many episodes of Stargate series as well as directed a number of episodes. I’m really impressed!
The Washington Post sums up the reasons for the stike:
…Members of the IATSE contend that television and film studios have raked in massive profits during the coronavirus pandemic as consumers turn to streaming options to fill more time at home. But those gains have not extended to workers, they say, who now put in significantly longer workweeks…
David Gerrold also discussed what the high (98%) vote portends and urged his readers to support IATSE.
Over 30 Paizo staff members from several departments have signed a letter announcing the formation of the United Paio Workers union, in coordination with the Communication Workers of America. This effort is the first of its kind in both the tabletop RPG and board game industry.
The letter states that Paizo workers have been organizing for some time but were spurred to act by September firing of customer service and community manager Sara Marie and what they call the sudden departure of customer service representative Diego Valdez and several others in the recent past. Many former and current employees, as well as freelancers and contract workers, took the opportunity to share stories of abuse, harassment, mistreatment and hostile management.
“These events, as well as internal conversations among Paizo workers, have uncovered a pattern of inconsistent hiring practices, pay inequity across the company, allegations of verbal abuse from executives and management, and allegations of harassment ignored or covered up by those at the top,” the letter said. “These findings have further galvanized the need for clearer policies and stronger employee protections to ensure that Paizo staff can feel secure in their employment.”
(13) DUNE MOTHER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times, behind a paywall, Raphael Abraham interviewed Rebecca Ferguson about her role in Dune.
(Timothee) Chalamet may be the star but Ferguson’s character is in many ways the story’s catalyst; her role amped up by (director Denis) Villeneuve–she has defied her mysterious religious order to bear a son and possesses supernatural powers that she attempts to impart to him. And, while other main players are killed off or become separated from the hero, it is Paul’s mother who remains by his side, battling on foot across the inhospitable desert planet of the title, evading enemies and giant sandworms. For Ferguson and Chalamet, this meant shooting under the Abu Dhabi sun in bulky space costumery.
‘We had to adapt to mother nature,’ the actress says. ‘We could only film for an hour and a half at dusk and dawn, and during the day we had to stay inside and not burn ourselves. It was a struggle running uphill in stillsuits but it was also so lovely doing it in the real environment–no bloody studio!’
…Fittingly, for his next creation, which will debut today at Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta, the 71-year-old crop artist is looking up to the sky for inspiration. Stretching 4,800 square feet in size, the piece coincides with the United Nations’ International Day of the Girl Child initiative and is also part of World Space Week, an annual event that celebrates global accomplishments in science and technology. Since this year’s theme is Women in Space, Herd has created a portrait of Stephanie Wilson, a veteran NASA astronaut with three space flights under her belt (she’s also the second African American woman to go into space), and one of 18 astronauts who are a part of Artemis, NASA’s lunar exploration program that is scheduled to send the first woman to the moon in 2024…
(16) GILLIAN ANDERSON VOICE ROLE. Robin Robin comes to Netflix on November 24.
Robin Robin, a holiday special from Aardman Animation, makers of Shaun the Sheep, Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit. “Starring Gillian Anderson, Richard E Grant, Bronte Carmichael and Adeel Akhtar.” When her egg fortuitously rolls into a rubbish dump, Robin is raised by a loving family of mice. As she grows up, her differences become more apparent. Robin sets off on the heist to end all heists to prove to her family that she can be a really good mouse – but ends up discovering who she really is.
Perseverance rover reveals an ancient delta-lake system and flood deposits at Jezero crater, Mars
Observations from orbital spacecraft have shown that Jezero crater, Mars, contains a prominent fan-shaped body of sedimentary rock deposited at its western margin. The Perseverance rover landed in Jezero crater in February 2021. Researchers have analyzes images taken by the rover in the three months after landing. The fan has outcrop faces that were invisible from orbit, which record the hydrological evolution of Jezero crater. Researchers interpret the presence of inclined strata in these outcrops as evidence of deltas that advanced into a lake.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In this Saturday Night Live “Cut for Time” sketch, a dinner party (Owen Wilson, Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong, Heidi Gardner, Alex Moffat, Ego Nwodim) disagrees on splitting a check. But wait! – There’s more, and it’s genre.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Nancy Sauer, Chris Barkley, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Lise Andreasen, John A Arkansawyer, Christian Brunschen, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
…But what of the 1945 Retro Hugo Awards finalists? There is unlikely to be a Voter Packet for these, so how are Hugo Awards voters to go about making an informed choice here? Fortunately, many of the works that will be on the ballot are available online, either on the Internet Archive or elsewhere. Below I have compiled links to as many of these as I could find, and provided information about whether items are in print or otherwise….
MINAS TIRITH — The White Council of the Wise issued a decree today that all fellowships in Middle Earth shall be no larger than five companions for at least the next quarter-age to help slow the spread of the Samund-01 curse that has already killed over 30,000 elves, dwarves, and men.
…It does feel like we’re living through another Black Death.
But in recent days, as the horrors of the coronavirus pandemic have begun to unfold, I’ve also been reminded of similarities of this pandemic to the Blitz:
1. The disruption of our daily lives. The orderly schedules of the British people was completely upended by the Blitz. People found themselves sleeping under the kitchen table or in basements or tube shelters. They went to work in the morning after a sleepless night with bombs falling overhead, only to find that their place of work was closed or bombed out, and when they went home, they found that had been bombed out, too. Everything changed in an instant. Theaters and museums were closed, and the way of life they’d always known disappeared overnight as if it had never been….
She comes up with three more parallels before concluding –
Everybody’s rising to the occasion, and, in spite of my having occasional worried thoughts about all of us becoming the crazy characters in Shirley Jackson’s WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE, we’re doing great. When this is all over, we’re going to be able to say, just like the British, “This was their finest hour.”
(4) SEEKING DONATIONS. The Ray Bradbury Experience Museum (RBEM) asks for help to open ‘The Martian Chronicles’ exhibit area for the Ray Bradbury Centennial celebration in “Green Town” in 2020. The donation link is here.
(5) WHO MEMORIAL. “Farewell, Sarah Jane” on the official Doctor Who YouTube channel.
Today marks the anniversary of the passing of Elisabeth Sladen, who played the Doctor’s friend Sarah Jane Smith. In a new video, scripted by Russell T Davies and narrated by Jacob Dudman, Sarah Jane Smith’s closest friends come together to say “Farewell, Sarah Jane”.
Sadie Miller, the actress daughter of the late Elizabeth Sladen, is boarding the TARDIS in the role her mother made famous on the iconic BBC sci-fi series — that of intrepid investigative reporter Sarah Jane Smith — in Big Finish‘s highly anticipated audio drama Doctor Who: Return of the Cybermen.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 19, 1907 — Alan Wheatley. Best remembered for being the Sheriff of Nottingham in The Adventures of Robin Hood TV series, with Richard Greene playing Robin Hood. In 1951, he had played Sherlock Holmes in the first series about him, but no recordings of it are known to exist. And he was in Two First Doctor stories as Temmosus, “The Escape” and “The Ambush” where he was the person killed on screen by Daleks. (Died 1991.)
Born April 19, 1925 — Hugh O’Brian. He was Harry Chamberlain in Rocketship X-M which you can see here. (It was nominated in the 1951 Retro Hugo Awards given at The Millennium Philcon but lost out to Destination Moon.) He would later play Hugh Lockwood in Probe, the pilot for Search, and Search itself, an SF series. His only other genre appearance I think was playing five different roles on Fantasy Island. (Died 2016.)
Born April 19, 1933 — W.R. Cole. Author of A Checklist of Science Fiction Anthologies, self-published In 1964. Ok, I’m including him today because I’m puzzled. SFE said of this work that ‘Though it has now been superseded and updated by William Contento’s indexes of Anthologies, it is remembered as one the essential pioneering efforts in Bibliography undertaken by sf Fandom.’ Was this really the first time someone compiled an index of anthologies? I seem to remember earlier efforts though I can’t remember precisely who. (Died 2002.)
Born April 19, 1935 — Herman Zimmerman, 84. He was the art director and production designer who worked between 1987 and 2005 for the Trek franchise. Excepting Voyager, he worked on all other live-action productions including the first season of Next Gen, the entire runs of Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, as well as six Trek films. As Memory Alpha notes, “Together with Rick Sternbach he designed the space station Deep Space 9, with John Eaves the USS Enterprise-B and the USS Enterprise-E. His most recognizable work though, have been his (co-)designs for nearly all of the standing sets, those of the bridge, Main Engineering (co-designed with Andrew Probert) and Ten Forward for the USS Enterprise-D in particular.” Not surprisingly, he co-wrote the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual with Rick Sternbach and Doug Drexler.
Born April 19, 1936 — Tom Purdom, 84. There’s very little on him on the web, so I’ll let Michael Swanwick speak for him in the introduction to his Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons collection: ‘How highly do I regard Tom’s fiction? So highly that I wrote the introduction to the collection — and I hate writing introductions. They’re a lot of work. But these stories deserve enormous praise, so I was glad to do it.’ He’s written five novels and has either one or two collections of his stories. He’s deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects.
Born April 19, 1946 — Tim Curry, 74. Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show of course, but it’s not his first genre appearance as he’d appeared a year earlier at the Scottish Opera in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Puck. And yes I know that he appeared in the live show which was at the Chelsea Classic Cinema and other venues before the film was done. Other genre appearances include playing Darkness in Legend, an outstanding Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers, Farley Claymore in The Shadow (great role), another superb performance playing Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island and in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as The Player.
Born April 19, 1952 — Mark E. Rogers. Best remembered for the Samurai Cat series which in the first book, The Adventures of Samurai Cat, lampooned Tolkien, Lovecraft and Howard. Indiana Jones. Burroughs’ Barsoom and Star Wars would also get their due. (Died 2014.)
Born April 19, 1967 — Steven H Silver, 53. Fan and publisher, author, and editor. He has been nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twelve times and Best Fanzine four times. He’s a longtime contributing editor to SF Site and has written that site’s news page since its beginning. Over twenty years ago, he founded the Sidewise Award for Alternate History and has served as a judge ever since. He publishes his own fanzine, Argentus, and is a Hugo nominee this year for his work on Journey Planet.
Born April 19, 1968 — Ashley Judd, 52. Best known genre wise for playing Natalie Prior in the Divergent film franchise. She was also Carly Harris-Thompson in the Tooth Fairy film, and was Ensign Robin Lefler in a few episodes of Next Gen. She played Beverly Paige on several episodes of Twin Peaks as well.
As a sci-fi and fantasy nerd, of course I love the cartoon of the scientist being tempted by science fiction. Where did that one come from?
I think the scientist character in that cartoon is a bit like me when I’m making these cartoons, because I have to resist the temptation to draw silly robots and over-the-top science fiction technology every week. I am a SF/F nerd myself and while that’s one of the things that draws me to science, I have to remind myself to look in all the different areas of science to find cartoon themes.
(9) MARLOWE AND THE QUEEN. Francis Hamit, who frequently shared with File 770 readers his experience as a writer publishing via early indie platforms, and has spent years trying to get a movie made, sends this update.
I dissolved the Kit Marlowe Film Co, Ltd in February after five years and one month of trying to get CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE produced. My recent surgery for spinal stenosis, (the first of two with the second on hold now because of the pandemic) makes it impossible for me to produce anything, even if our great producer Gary Kurtz hadn’t died in September, 2018, the HMRC had not changed the EIS rules and Brexit had not changed all of the assumptions we had when we started the company in 2014. I’m an old poker player. I know when to fold a losing hand. Rising from the ashes, however, is the five-time award-winning screenplay and the curious fact that BFI says our letter of comfort for the film tax relief can be used by any UK film production company. That’s a twenty percent rebate on the spend in the UK. But coronoavirus has shut down the entire industry in the USA and UK. Except for “development” and I have that script and two others out for consideration. (Details on Facebook).
I also have a few hundred copies of The Shenandoah Spy and The Queen of Washington left in the distributor’s warehouse. I am reducing the retail price to $12.95 and $14.95 respectfully. This is slightly below my break-even point but will free up cash to get another book to market. Regular publishing has ls shut down so it may be DIY for the one I’m working on now STARMEN, a multi-genre romp that begins in El Paso, Texas in 1875 with the Pinkertons, who investigated all sorts of strange things. I might also do some crowd-funding.
Anyway those who would like to buy a copy of either book should call Pathway Book Service at 1-800-345-6665. The Shenandoah Spy is $12.95 plus shipping and handling and they take credit cards. The Queen of Washington is a hardbound at $14.95 plus shipping and handling. Amazon has a few copies at the old prices but has stopped taking third party distributors’ books to deal with the emergency. Both books are in e-book at $9.99 on Amazon Kindle and as audiobooks at Audible, Amazon and iTunes, sometimes for free.
Anyone who wants a signed copy should contact me directly. ([email protected]). (My other books are also available but not discounted.)
Direct sales will be $27.50 per book, $50 for two plus $5.00 shipping each and these will be signed. I’m running out of copies here and will have to order some from Pathway, which costs me for shipping. If they are able. In the current emergency. We can’t be sure. On the other hand they will be signed.
Gail Shalan and I are converting The Shenanoah Spy audiobook to a Young Adult title. That simply means we are going to cut the more graphic sexual content. Probably less than a thousand words that won’t be missed. Times have changed since 2008 when the book was first published and we don’t want to provide “triggers” that get some readers upset and detract from the story. That means the sexual content is still there but more is left to the imagination. Gail’s performance will be intact. BTW the audiobook is “free” if it is a title used to sign up for Audible and Gail and I split a nice bonus.
.. The first three films in Jackson’s Middle-earth franchise raked in nearly $3 billion worldwide. And no, that number doesn’t account for DVD or memorabilia sales, or the sale of the trilogy’s television broadcast rights.
(15) FROST READS. The editors of the Beatles-themed anthology Across the Universe, Michael A. Ventrella and Randee Dawn, are posting videos of various authors in the anthology reading from their work. Here, Gregory Frost reads “A Hard Day’s Night at the Opera.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Steve Green and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
By Mark L. Blackman: The Beatles entered my consciousness not
through the bathroom window but with my brother telling me about a new singing
group with “haircuts like Moe” of the Three Stooges. (Decades later, he watched
Sir Paul perform in Tel Aviv.) Soon after I saw their landmark first appearance
on Ed Sullivan. By then Beatlemania had
erupted – the moptops were the Fab Four – everyone had to get them into their
lives. We followed their long and winding road from sweet love songs to India
and Sergeant Pepper and The End.
friends visited from England, they made a pilgrimage to Strawberry Fields – a
place to go – then across the street to the Dakota.
time of year is a sad one for Beatles fans. Last month saw the anniversary of
George’s death, next week will be that of John’s murder. A celebration of their
music, fame and legacy, what they meant, something to say that it’s O.K. and
make us feel good in a special way, is most welcome. We saw a reminder of their
status as The ’60s Icons last summer as fans gathered on the 50th
anniversary of Abbey Road on, where
else?, London’s Abbey Road.
on the evening of Tuesday, December 3rd – Giving Tuesday
– at its venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café in Brooklyn, the New York Review of
Science Fiction Reading Series hosted a launch party (we’re going to a party
party) for Across the Universe, an anthology
of 25 freaky and twisted (and shouted) speculative fiction
stories about the Beatles and alternative variations of the still-Fab Four.
Edited by Michael A. Ventrella and Randee Dawn, the ticket to ride features
what-ifs by Spider Robinson, Jody Lynn Nye, David Gerrold, Cat Rambo, Lawrence
Watt-Evans, Allen Steele, Pat Cadigan, Gregory Frost, Gregory Benford, Matthew
Amati, Ken Schneyer, Bev Vincent, Patrick Barb, Gail Z. Martin, Barbara Clough,
Eric Avedissian, Alan Goldsher, R. Jean Mathieu, Beth Patterson, and Christian
Smith, coming together, plus the, um, Fab Five readers of the evening: Charles Barouch, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Carol Gyzander,
Gordon Linzner, and Sally Wiener Grotta.
As we gathered, Beatles tunes played to get us into
the spirit of things. The event opened, as usual, with producer and executive
curator Jim Freund, host of the long-running sf/fantasy radio program Hour of the Wolf (with WBAI-FM back on
the air, he’s no longer sitting in a nowhere land) welcoming the audience to
the last reading of 2019. He began by noting that tonight’s readings would be on
Facebook Live, rather than streamed on Livestream, plugging that the Café’s
kitchen would be open through most of the evening, and announcing that next
month’s readers (January
7th) would be Hildy Silverman and A.C. Wise (though without
glitter). He reminded those who can to donate to the Series ($7
is the suggested donation, but no one is ever turned away due to lack of
funds), and reported that the home audience may donate on its Patreon page, Jim
Bringing up guest host and the book’s co-editor Randee
Dawn, he reported that Across the Universe is actually the second such
anthology, the first being All Together
Now, edited by James Ryan. Dawn is a Brooklyn-based author and
entertainment journalist who focuses on speculative fiction, but is co-author
of The Law & Order: SVU Unofficial Companion. After
recounting how she and Ventrella pretty much simultaneously came up with the
idea, presented it to Ian Randal Strock of Fantastic Books and launched a
Kickstarter campaign to realize it, she introduced the evening’s first reader.
Sally Wiener Grotta is the author of The Winter Boy and Jo Joe, a journalist and the co-curator of the Galactic
Philadelphia author reading series. She read from her story “The Truth Within,”
in which George goes to Key Biscayne and tries to get Nixon interested in
(“hooked on”) transcendental meditation: “Imagine a chilled Nixon at peace with
himself. … And poof! No more carpet bombing and napalm.”
Carol Gyzander, writer of various crossgenre ’punk
stories and the second reader, read from “Deal with the Devil”, which is one
answer to “how did the Beatles get so good?” Set in Liverpool after their
return from playing clubs in Hamburg (Pete Best is still their drummer), two
kids, fans of Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne, using black magic to connect
with their idols, instead reach – through their old black and white “telly” –
Next up was Gordon Linzner, founder and former editor
of Space & Time Magazine, author of The Spy Who Drank Blood, and who, as lead singer of the Saboteur
Tiger Blues Band, has covered a fair share of Beatles songs. His story alludes
to a tv show with four protagonists, “The Hey! Team.” With John as leader and
wacko Richard “Ringo” Starkey in the Murdoch role, they try to prevent the
abduction of Chuck Berry’s guitar Maybellene, while being pursued by Colonel
Pepper (he was promoted).
“The Perfect Bridge,” Charles Barouch’s quickie was
another time travel story. A computer programmer in 1978, using a “Yellow
Subroutine,” reaches across to 1967 to plant an Appleseed.
the intermission, a raffle was held for those who donated, with three prizes:
from Carol Gyzander’s What
We’ve Unlearned; Sally Wiener
Grotta’s Jo Joe; and Gordon Linzner’s
The Spy Who Drank Blood. Freund
reported that the Brooklyn Commons was starting a series or festival of short
subject films and invited us to sign up electronically at a terminal up front.
Opening the second half of the show was Keith R.A.
DeCandido, who is perhaps best known for his media tie-in work across “33
different universes, from Alien to Zorro.” In “Used to Be,” which is set sort of in his “Precinct” fantasy
police procedural series, the Beatles are recast as Jahn, Gyorg, Paol and
Starki, D&D tropes (Jahn is a bard, Starki a barbarian).
Filling in for the scheduled final reader, Dawn read Matthew Amati’s “Apocalypse Rock.” Set in an alternate
history where the U.S. lost JFK’s Cuban Missile Crisis gamble, four musicians
wander a postapocalyptic landscape of gangs and cannibal mutants to a battle of
the bands at the titular site.
Then, in a bonus, the book’s publisher (“the guy who
writes the checks”), Ian Randal Strock, read “Rubber Soul” by Spider Robinson.
In the 1985 story, John is resurrected 24 years after his death at 40, making him…
Finally, it being a party party and all the world is birthday
cake, Dawn brought out a huge cake (though not honey pie or marshmallow pie) decorated
with a copy of the cover art by Dave Alvarez. (I took a piece but not too much.)
The traditional Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered a
small assortment of books. The audience of close to 80, counting Freund and the
readers, included Karen Heuler, (House Manager) Barbara Krasnoff, John Kwok,
James Ryan and Susan Bratisher Ryan.
It was a hard day’s night.
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.