(1) OOKPIK FIXED. Terry Fong, chair of the Montréal in 2027 Worldcon bid, sent an official reply to a question from File 770 about the $350 level presupport.
We goofed on the wording of one of our membership presupport levels. The description of our highest level (Ookpik) now reads as follow:
“We will pay your Advance WSFS membership (voting fee) in the 2027 Site Selection election. You still will have to join the 2025 Worldcon as at least a WSFS (supporting) member in order to vote on the 2027 Site Selection. (Of course, you have to cast your own ballot.) If we win, you will get a full attending membership including a WSFS membership. All the perks of lower support levels, a piece of nifty swag from a previous CANSMOF-sponsored convention AND a fridge magnet. You also get a unique nifty cool ribbon for your support at this level.”
Apologies to all for any confusion arising from our previous wording.
(2) HEAR TERRY PRATCHETT. Fanac.org has added an audio recording of Terry Pratchett’s GoH speech from Noreascon 4 (2004).
It’s very, very, funny. The recording is about 1 hr, 10 minutes long. It does not include all the Q&A. Audio provided by Steven Silver. Thanks, Steven! Portrait of Terry Pratchett by Charles Williams, from the N4 Program Book.
(3) NERD LOVE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] From the New York Times: “Who Kissed First? Archaeology Has an Answer”.
This is a love story:…
They met a week earlier at a pub near the University of Copenhagen, where both were undergraduates. “I had asked my cousin if he knew any nice single guys with long hair and long beards,” Dr. Rasmussen said. “And he said, ‘Sure, I’ll introduce you to one.’”
Dr. Arboll, in turn, had been looking for a partner that shared his interest in Assyriology, the study of Mesopotamian languages and the sources written in them. “Not many people know what an Assyriologist actually does,” he told her.
“I do,” said Dr. Rasmussen, who had taken some of the same classes.
Dr. Arboll, now a professor of Assyriology at the university, said, “When I heard that, I knew she was a keeper.” …
(4) NOW, WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T PANIC! [Item by SF Concatenaton’s Jonathan Cowie.] Douglas Adams’ novel The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979) was the subject of the last third of this week’s BBC Radio 4 show A Good Read.
Now, I came to Hitch-Hiker’s in its original incarnation as the 1978 BBC 4 Radio show the last two episodes of which greatly benefited from some cohesiveness from John Lloyd. That season and the subsequent ‘Christmas edition’ (which became the first episode of the second season) is for me what Hitch-Hiker’s is all about: to me, you can keep the subsequent series; the fist season and Christmas episode alone were works of true genius).
I was not alone, Hitch-Hiker’s was a favourite with almost all to my fellow members of my college SF group, Hatfield PSIFA (now Hertfordshire University PSIFA). And even then we were not alone. I remember at the 1979 Worldcon in Brighton, Britain, when the Hugo Award short-list for ‘Best Dramatic Presentation’ was read out there was a huge cheer from the audience. As it happened, the film Superman won and Kal El himself in the mortal guise of Christopher Reeve (not Clark Kent) took to the stage. He, very graciously, said while he was happy that technically Superman had won that clearly for the people there in the hall it was Hitch-Hiker’s that was the true winner… (You have to remember that, back in the 1970s, N. America dominated the Worldcon and Hugos far more than they do today.)
Which brings us to this week’s BBC Radio 4 A Good Read. The presenter noted that though the novel (1979) came out some 45 years ago, Hitch-Hiker’s had never been a subject on that programme! It has to be said that the novel did not get an entirely smooth ride as one of the show’s panelists did not like SF and another took a more of a curate’s egg approach. All this despite the presenter noting that 15 million copies of the book had been sold among other related adaptations to other media and merch. Nonetheless, some interesting points were made including that the character Zaphod Beeblebrox was a politician who actually never did run anything but was a self-serving, self publicist… It was noted that here there are parallels with some of today’s politicians (examples, it was hinted, including in the UK and elsewhere (the US?), who could she have meant?).
“Harriett’s choice is Douglas Adams’ story about Arthur Dent’s journey through space with an alien called Ford Prefect after earth is demolished to make way for a bypass.”
You can access this episode of A Good Read at the link. Remember to skip to the programme’s final third. (Phew. Now, where’s my towel?)
(5) COURT TOSSES FOUR CLAIMS IN SUIT AGAINST OPEN AI. “Court Trims Authors’ Copyright Lawsuit Against Open AI” – Publishers Weekly knows where it was clipped.
A federal judge in California this week dismissed four of six claims made by authors in a now consolidated lawsuit alleging that Open AI infringes their copyrights. But the court gave the authors a month to amend their complaint, and the suit’s core claim of direct infringement—which Open AI did not seek to dismiss—remains active.
Following a December 7 hearing, federal judge Araceli Martínez-Olguín needed just 13 pages to dismiss a host of claims made by the authors, including vicarious infringement (count two), claims that Open AI removed or altered copyright management information (count three); negligence under the unfair competition law (count five); and unjust enrichment (count six). The court allowed a fourth claim of “unfairness” under the unfair competition law to proceed, however, holding that, if true, the authors’ claims that Open AI used their copyrighted works “to train their language models for commercial profit may constitute an unfair practice.”….
Amazing Stories has a more quotes from the decision in its post “Breaking: AI Copyright Infringement Claims Rejected”.
(6) THE ‘SHOW’ SHOULD GO ON. Philip Athans turns to an old paperback for an example of “What We Can Learn From A Random Science Fiction Novel: ‘Show’ Vs. Info Dump” at Fantasy Author’s Handbook.
…When I say “show, don’t tell,” the first thing I’m attacking is the info dump. This is when authors effectively stop the story and start explaining, when they start writing an article instead of a scene. I’ve called out one author on that here, so you can see an example of what not to do, but in reading—and loving—Star Bridge, when I got to Chapter 8, I found a fantastic example of how to balance showing a character’s experience of an imagined world while conveying, not dumping, all sorts of specific information about how that world operates.
In Star Bridge, authors Jack Williamson and James E. Gunn seems to have committed the cardinal sin of opening each and every chapter with what, on the surface, would appear to be short info dumps. Presented under the title THE HISTORY, we’re “told” a little about the unique future in which interstellar travel, via a teleportation device, is strictly controlled by Eron, a monopoly that has reached essentially imperial status. The story begins with our hero, Horn, having been sent to assassinate the leader of this monopoly. It’s a fun ride, and one that goes into deeper places as the story unfolds….
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.
[Written by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 14, 1970 — Simon Pegg, 54. Though Simon Pegg’s certainly not James Doohan, who’s beloved for being the first and for most Trekkies still the only Montgomery “Scotty” Scott no doubt, I found his version in Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond to be quite true to the original character. Though it’s been eight years since the last film, they are talking apparently about a fourth film.
(For the record, I thought the primary actors were fine in all three, but the scripts in the second two sucked. And the less said a certain recast villian from the original series, the better.)
Paramount + has all of the Tom Cruise Mission Impossible films of which there are eight so far. Pegg is Benji Dunn, an IMF technician, who debuts in Mission: Impossible III as a supporting protagonist before returning in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, and Part Two, no longer as a supporting cast member but as a leading cast member.
So who’s seen some of these? Opinions please?
Now let’s deal with his non-franchise film roles. His first venture into the genre was Shaun of the Dead which he co-wrote with Edgar Wright and had an acting role in as, errr, Shaun. Of course he got, wait for it, the meaty role. You can groan now.
It was inspired by ideas they used for their Spaced comedy series about two women living in a small but posh apartment, particularly an episode in which Pegg’s character hallucinates a zombie invasion. Though not SF, the fourteen episodes often made references to popular culture, including SF and horror films, comic books, and video games.
At Romero’s invitation, Pegg and Wright made both cameo appearances in Romero’s Land of the Dead. Not meaty roles, but they are there.
He appeared in a Ninth Doctor story, “the Long Game” as The Editor. The BBC press release for this episode says Pegg had grown up with Who and he considered it a “great honour” to guest star on the series, and he was rather pleased at being cast as a bad guy.
I’m going to note just several of the animated works he did. He did the voice and motion capture for detective Thompson in The Adventures of Tintin (also known, though I didn’t know this before as charmingly as The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn). And he did the voice of what sounds like a bad sneeze, Reepicheep the Mouse, in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Let’s end with Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose, a curious film indeed. It is based on the legend of Gef an apparently talking mongoose , a story that got extensive coverage in the British tabloid press in the early 1930s. Pegg plays investigator Nandor Fodor, and Neil Gaiman voices Gef. It left British critics terribly annoyed. Not that it takes much to annoy them, does it?
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Eek! reveals the truth about a superhero’s laundry.
- Speed Bump shows the last person on Earth learning the reason she’s still around.
(9) FANTASTIC CAST. Variety names names: “Fantastic Four: Pedro Pascal, Vanessa Kirby, Joseph Quinn Cast at Marvel (variety.com)
The superhero quartet — the first characters created for Marvel Comics by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby — will be played by Pedro Pascal as Reed Richards (aka Mr. Fantastic), Vanessa Kirby as Sue Storm (aka the Invisible Woman), Joseph Quinn as Johnny Storm (aka the Human Torch) and Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Ben Grimm (aka the Thing).
As part of the casting announcement, Disney has swapped the release dates of “The Fantastic Four” (now set for July 25, 2025) and “Thunderbolts” (now set for May 2, 2025). Those are two of four Marvel tentpoles currently set to open in 2025, along with “Captain America: Brave New World” in February and “Blade” in November. Four Marvel films are also scheduled for 2026, including “Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.” That’s a ramp up from 2024: Marvel only has “Deadpool & Wolverine” for theaters, on July 26….
(10) OH WHAT A TANGLED WEB. Inverse critic Hoai-Tran Bui declares that “Madame Web Is Embarrassing for Everyone Involved”.
… Madame Web isn’t so much a movie as it is the pretense of one — a collection of Easter eggs and prequel nonsense strung together by half-assed ADR and dialogue that feels like it was drummed up in Screenwriting 101. But the most alarming thing about Madame Web is that it is a movie that never really gets started. Instead, it’s just one long prelude to the actual story, like being trapped in one of Cassie Webb’s time-looping visions with no escape….
(11) REPO’D AGAIN. “Alex Cox Directing Kiowa Gordon in ‘Repo Man 2’” reports Variety.
Alex Cox is getting back behind the wheel.
The “Repo Man” director is revisiting the off-kilter world of extraterrestrials and car repossession that he mined so memorably in the 1984 cult classic in a new sequel that is being introduced to buyers at the Berlin Film Festival and European Film Market. Entitled “Repo Man 2: The Wages of Beer,” the film is being backed by Buffalo 8 Productions, a film and media company best known for the critically acclaimed work on Netflix series “The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes.” Cox wrote the script along with directing the film.
Kiowa Gordon, best known for his role as Embry Call in “The Twilight Saga” and for his work in the AMC series “Dark Winds,” is set to lead the cast as Otto. Emilio Estevez played Otto in the 1984 original. The film picks up after Otto has boarded his trusty 1967 Chevy Malibu to journey across the infinities of time and space. In that time he has aged exactly 90 minutes.
(12) FOR THOSE WITH YOUNGER DIGESTIVE TRACTS. “Mountain Dew pie and chocolate tacos revealed in Taco Bell showcase” reports Independent. See the hour-long event in this YouTube video: “Taco Bell Presents Live Más Live 2024”.
(13) THAT IS THE QUESTION. Revisit Sir Patrick Stewart’s visit to Sesame Street from many years ago: “Patrick Stewart Soliloquy on B”.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Danny Sichel.]