(1) MOPOP INTRODUCES NEW ONLINE COLLECTION VAULT. [Item by Frank Catalano.] Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture is finally putting part of its collection online. This is a very cool development for fans of science fiction as popular culture.
The announcement this week only covers a small part of the MoPOP permanent collection, but it’s far more than has been available before. I originally visited and covered the physical MoPOP vault in 2014 for GeekWire (“Preserving the future: A rare glimpse inside the EMP Museum vault”) and interviewed its curators for a podcast about preservation a few years later (“Preserving the future: How MoPOP protects and presents our ever-changing popular culture”).
How do I know it’s only a small subset of everything MoPOP has to offer? Back in 2014, I donated more than 50 lobby cards for science fiction and fantasy films to the permanent collection, and only one has appeared in the online vault so far, for Futureworld. (WHY that crappy movie and not ones for 2001, Planet of the Apes, or others? No idea.)
Direct link: MoPOP Online Collection Vault.
(2) GAIMAN’S ANSWERS. “Neil Gaiman Q&A: ‘As long as there’s a Tardis, all’s right with the world’” in New Statesman.
What’s your earliest memory?
My grandmother taking me to a bridge in my pushchair to watch the steam trains go by. I was 23 months old. I also remember her venting, months later, about the Beatles song “She Loves You” and how their use of the word “yeah” instead of “yes” meant we were now all living in the end times.
Who are your heroes?
As a boy I loved urbane and unflappable literary characters, such as PG Wodehouse’s Rupert Psmith, and indomitable heroes on television – Adam West’s Batman, Adam Adamant, Doctor Who, and the Monkees. When I was a teenager the Stranglers released “No More Heroes” around the same time that David Bowie sang “Heroes”. I listened to them both and thought we are meant to be our own heroes…
(3) KIJ JOHNSON’S NEW JOB. The Ad Astra Center for Science Fiction & the Speculative Imagination at the University of Kansas has announced that sff author Kij Johnson will join the Center as Associate Director. Johnson previously held the same title at KU’s Gunn Center for the Study of SF.
“Kij is a fantastic writer and educator. I’m very excited that she is on board to help shape the vision and impact of Ad Astra,” said center Director Chris McKitterick. “She has been a valued colleague for many years and someone I admire for their tenacity of thought, dedication to students, and excellence in craft.”
Johnson is a writer of speculative and experimental short fiction and novels. She has won the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards, as well as the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire and others.
In 2013, she gave the inaugural Tolkien Lecture at Oxford University; since then, she has been a guest of honor at conferences and conventions in Sweden, France, and the United States. Johnson has also been a professor in the Department of English at the University of Kansas, starting in 2012.
“Science fiction—speculative fiction—offers a unique way of engaging with big ideas. In some ways, it is the dominant storytelling mode of our era,” Johnson said. “To continue my work exploring speculative fiction as a practitioner and educator through the efforts of the Ad Astra Center is particularly gratifying.”
These efforts will include many of the center’s public outreach projects, including conferences, classes, presentations, masterclasses, events, and workshops. Kij will be on hand to offer her expertise and experience in driving these projects.
“Right now, Kij and I are planning some wonderful things,” said McKitterick. “For fans, scholars, and writers of spec fic, there will be a lot to enjoy.”
(4) SEE SLF PANEL. The Speculative Literature Foundation has posted their panel “Creating a Shared World” on YouTube.
Writers from George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards and Ellen Kushner’s Tremontaine come together to talk about the challenges and delights of working in a shared universe. Panelists: Ellen Kushner, author of Swordspoint and other fantasy novels, Delia Sherman author of The Porcelain Dove, Walter Jon Williams author of the Privateers and Gentlemen series, and David D. Levine author of Arabella of Mars. Moderated by Mary Anne Mohanraj, SLF Director.
(5) LE GUIN BIO. Publishers Marketplace, behind a paywall, notes that Julie Phillips, author of the Hugo Award-winning James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, is at work on an untitled biography of Ursula K. Le Guin (first revealed in 2016) “which will intimately examine Le Guin’s intellectual and emotional development as a person and writer, her struggles with depression, her visionary politics, and her commitment to literary freedom.”
(6) A WORKING WRITER. Cat Rambo shares some words of wisdom from “Jane Yolen on Creativity, Productivity, and Returning to Scotland” on Medium.
I had the great pleasure of interviewing Jane Yolen, author of literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of books, poems, and stories. This was such a joy of an interview that I wanted to pull out some of my favorite quotes….
(7) OPEN THE POD BAY DOOR HAL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] … And for God’s sake hold onto that rope!
An article in Vanity Fair (partial paywall) tells stories of the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey. These include the critical scene where astronaut Dave Bowman (played by Kier Dullea) is attempting to re-enter Discovery One and has to try a hazardous jump through vacuum without a helmet.
Dullea did the stunt himself because his face would be to the camera. In fact, his face could have ended up in the camera. The stunt was performed by the expedient of having the actor drop down a vertical shaft toward a camera mounted at the bottom. To control his fall, a rope was tied to him and belayed by a crewmember who had to stop Dullea when a knot tied in the rope reached the crewman’s hands.
I’m sure Dullea was never happier to get a scene right on the first take. And I’d make a bet he took more than one deep breath after doing so. “Behind the Scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Strangest Blockbuster in Hollywood History”.
… By March the production had moved onto its most elaborate set of all: the Discovery’s work and living area, a centrifuge that rotated to simulate gravity. Kubrick’s production team had taken six months to build an actual centrifuge, with a diameter of 40 feet and a weight of 40 tons. Dressed for its entire 360 degrees, the set could turn forward or backward, at a top rate of three miles an hour, creaking and groaning as it got up to speed. For some scenes the actors had to be strapped in place by hidden harnesses as they spun upside down, with props such as meal trays and video pads glued or bolted in place. Depending on the shot, the set’s entire circumference might be aglow with lights, the actors locked inside and forced to turn on the camera themselves before hitting their marks. In production photos the set resembles a demented and unlikely torture device, a hybrid of jewelry tumbler and blistering heat lamp. With God knows how many megawatts surging through the entire setup, lights frequently exploded while unsecured props and overlooked pieces of equipment plummeted as they reached the top of the arc, narrowly missing actors and crew members. “A portentous spectacle, accompanied by terrifying noises and popping light bulbs,” as Clarke described it….
(8) TIME BENDER. Brian James Gage discusses how he places real people in his supernatural historical novels at CrimeReads: “How (and Why) I Write Supernatural Historical Fiction”.
…Each day started with a brief meditation session where I would clear my mind and say to myself, “All that matters is the characters. Follow their lead, their needs and desires, and everything else about the narrative will unfold naturally.” As after all, in fiction, it truly is the characters who guide the story.
Let them lead and the story-arc will follow.
During my brief meditation, I would ask my characters what they were doing that day, how they were feeling, what they needed, and even if there was anywhere specific they wanted to go. Then I would kindly ask them to show up to set, so I could guide them on a wild and horrific adventure. And during this new ritual, I found something of vast importance—my authentic voice. In August 2020, I had the first draft of The Sommelier complete and for the first time in my life, the entire process felt like a wellspring of creativity and command as I purged my characters’ truth onto the page….
(9) TEXAS SCHOOL DISTRICT SCREENS LIBRARY HOLDINGS. In the wake of actions by Texas governor Greg Abbott, “Texas superintendent tells librarians to pull books on sexuality, transgender people” reports NBC News.
…“I don’t want a kid picking up a book, whether it’s about homosexuality or heterosexuality, and reading about how to hook up sexually in our libraries,” Glenn said.
He also made it clear that his concerns specifically included books with LGBTQ themes, even if they do not describe sex. Those comments, according to legal experts, raise concerns about possible violations of the First Amendment and federal civil rights laws that protect students from discrimination based on their gender and sexuality.
“And I’m going to take it a step further with you,” he said, according to the recording. “There are two genders. There’s male, and there’s female. And I acknowledge that there are men that think they’re women. And there are women that think they’re men. And again, I don’t have any issues with what people want to believe, but there’s no place for it in our libraries.”
Minutes later, after someone asked whether titles on racism were acceptable, Glenn said books on different cultures “are great.”
“Specifically, what we’re getting at, let’s call it what it is, and I’m cutting to the chase on a lot of this,” Glenn said. “It’s the transgender, LGBTQ and the sex — sexuality — in books. That’s what the governor has said that he will prosecute people for, and that’s what we’re pulling out.”
Over the next two weeks, the school district embarked on one of the largest book removals in the country, pulling about 130 titles from library shelves for review. Nearly three-quarters of the removed books featured LGBTQ characters or themes, according to a ProPublica and Texas Tribune analysis. Others dealt with racism, sex ed, abortion and women’s rights.
Two months later, a volunteer review committee voted to permanently ban three of the books and return the others to shelves. But that may not be the end of the process….
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1999 – [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-three years ago this month, Rainbow Mars was published by Tor. It is my absolutely favorite work by Larry Niven, with Ringworld being my second. It contains six stories, five previously published and the longest, “Rainbow Mars”, written for this collection, plus some other material. It is about Svetz, the cross-reality traveler who keeps encountering beings who really should not exist including those Martians.
The first story, “Get A Horse!” was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in October 1969. That was followed by “Bird in the Hand” in the same magazine, October of the next year. Surprisingly the third story, “Leviathan!” was published in Playboy in August of that year.
(Yes I know Playboy did a lot of SF, it’s just that I wouldn’t have expected this story to show up there. It fits F&SF better in my opinion. Your opinion on that matter of course may differ.)
Then “There’s a Wolf in My Time Machine” was published in October of that year in the fine zine that printed the first two. Finally the last story that got printed at that time, “Death in a Cage” was published in Niven’s The Flight of the Horse collection in September of 1973 which collected these stories as well. (The Flight of the Horse also had “Flash Crowd” which I like a lot and “What Good is a Glass Dagger?” which is fantastic.)
Now we get Rainbow Mars, the novel that finishes out the work this delightfully silly work. Some of Pratchett idea’s from a conversation he had with Niven remain in the final version of Rainbow Mars, mainly the use of Yggdrasil, the world tree. Though there’s Norsemen as well…
There’s two other two short pieces, “The Reference Director Speaks”, in which Niven speaks about his fictional sources for the Mars he creates, and “Svetz’s Time Line” which is self-explanatory.
An afterword, “Svetz and the Beanstalk”, rounds out the work in which Niven talks about the fictional sources for Rainbow Mars as a whole.
The fantastic cover art, which was nominated for a Chelsey Award, is by Bob Eggleton who has won, if my counting skills are right tonight, an impressive nine Hugos, mostly for Best Professional Artist though there was one for Best Related Work for his most excellent Greetings from Earth: The Art of Bob Eggleton.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 24, 1834 — William Morris. Credited with creating the modern fantasy literature genre which may or may not be true, he certainly wrote some of its earlier works, to note his epic poem The Earthly Paradise, The Wood Beyond the World and The Well at the World’s End, plus his entire artistic motif fits nearly within a fantasy literature and artistic design that looks as if it was created by the Fey Themselves. All of his works can be found at the usual digital suspects, often at no cost. (Died 1896.)
- Born March 24, 1874 — Harry Houdini. His literary career intersects the genre world in interesting ways. Though it’s not known which ones, many of his works were apparently written by his close friend Walter B. Gibson who as you know is the creator of The Shadow. And one famous story of his, “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs”, was actually ghost written by Lovecraft! ISFDB lists another piece of genre fiction for him, “The Spirit Fakers of Hermannstad”. And IMDB notes that he appeared in The Master Mystery which decidedly genre with robots and death rays. (Died 1926.)
- Born March 24, 1930 — Steve McQueen. Another one who died far too young. He got his big break by being the lead, Steve Andrews, in The Blob. Setting aside the two different roles on Alfred Hitchcock Presents which are at least genre adjacent, The Blob is his only genre appearance in his brief life. He died of a damn heart attack. (Died 1980.)
- Born March 24, 1946 — Gary K. Wolfe, 76. Monthly reviewer for Locus for twenty-seven years now and yes I enjoy his column a lot. His brief marriage to Ellen R. Weil ended with her tragic early death. They co-wrote Harlan Ellison: The Edge of Forever. Old Earth Books has reprinted many of his reviews done between 1992 and 2006 in Soundings: Reviews 1992-1996. He’s also written several critical looks at the genre, Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy and The Known and the Unknown: The Iconography of Science Fiction. The Coode Street Podcast was nominated seven times before winning a Hugo at DicCon III; his Bearings: Reviews 1997-2001 was nominated for Best Related Work at Renovation; and Soundings: Reviews 1992-1996 was nominated for the same at L.A. Con IV. Very impressive indeed.
- Born March 24, 1946 — Andrew I. Porter, 76. Editor, publisher, fan. He discovered fandom in 1960 and before the end of the year his first news-related column about upcoming paperbacks was appearing in James V. Taurasi’s Science Fiction Times. Porter has been nominated for the Hugo 26 times in the fanzine and semiprozine categories. His fanzine Algol: The Magazine About Science Fiction, later renamed Starship, won a Hugo for Best Fanzine in 1974, in a tie with Richard E. Geis, who was then doing The Alien Critic. (OGH accepted that Hugo on behalf of Geis. Sorry!) Porter won two more Hugos with Science Fiction Chronicle, the newzine he began publishing monthly in May 1980, and twenty years later sold to DNA Publications. He has won the Big Heart Award, and was Fan Guest of Honor at the 1990 Worldcon. And with John Bangsund, he was responsible for Australia hosting its first Worldcon. (OGH)
- Born March 24, 1949 — Tabitha King, 73. Wife of Stephen, mother of that writing brood. I met her but once on the lot of the original Pet Sematary a very long time ago. ISFDB to my surprise lists only two novels she’s written solely by herself, Small World and Wolves at the Door, and one with Michael McDowell, Candles Burning. None of her books are with her husband which surprises me.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
- From Idiot of the East:
(13) STORYBUNDLES. Learn how the sausage is made: “THE INDIE FILES: A Guide to SFWA StoryBundles” at the SFWA Blog.
… We seek a well-rounded collection that includes a variety of subgenres and a diversity of authors, settings, and characters. We also look for unique takes on our theme, which means you should never self-reject if you think your book only kind-of fits!
Conversely, because readers do not select each book individually in a bundle, we avoid books that preach a strong message or contain content that many readers may find disturbing. Those books have a place! But we prefer not to roll them into our bundles….
(14) EVEN-MORE-COLOSSAL CAVE, COMING SOON(ISH). [Item by Daniel Dern.] “Sierra Founders Ken And Roberta Williams Are Remaking 1976’s Colossal Cave Adventure” reports HotHardware. Alternate item title, perhaps: “I’d Love To Play A New Version Of That Game,” said Dern adventurously.
“Roberta and Ken Williams were retired for 25 years, mostly living in Mexico, playing golf, and exploring the world on their boat. In 2020 when the Covid pandemic struck, Ken and Roberta were locked down like everyone. Ken was bored and Roberta suggested he write a book about Sierra. The process of writing the book brought back long forgotten memories resulting in Ken deciding to learn Unity and deciding to make a game,” a related FAQ explains.
They didn’t have any interesting in starting another company, and instead were “just looking for something fun to build.” Roberta had the idea to pay homage to the game that inspired Sierra and “changed our lives.”
And so here we are. Colossal Cave 3D Adventure is being built with Unity. It promises a fully immersive 3D experience with over 143 locations to explore, and will release to the Quest 2, PC, and Mac. And true to old school form, there will be a boxed version (with a USB stick in the box), though those details are still being hammered out.
You will be in a 3D maze of twisty passages! A hollow voice is unlikely to cry out, “God stalk!” 🙂 (quips Dern).
(15) INITIAL THOUGHTS. On a different subject, Daniel Dern suggested a too-long Scroll title that is too entertaining to actually discard, so here it is.
If Hans Solo and Chewie started shipping while doing the Kessel Run, we could have T-shirts that were NSFW NFT of a WTF FTL WFH? Nah, NFW.
(16) TAKING THE HYDE OFF ‘EM. “Jekyll & Hyde files for bankruptcy with $1.5M owed in rent” while Crain’s New York Business is watching the courthouse.
Actors put on shows during dinner and each floor of the restaurant focuses on a different aspect of a fictional, 1930s British explorers club, from science fiction to the Gothic horror of its namesake characters, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Andrew Porter says, “They used to have a branch in the 50s on 6th Avenue, where I went during a Nebula or Stoker weekend, with Stephen Jones and others, A Long Time Ago…”
(17) ERASURE. “Hit Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Reboot Debuts First Trailer” and Comicbook.com walks us through it.
… This new chapter of the Eraser series trades Schwarzenegger’s John Kruger character for a different U.S. Marshal named Mason Pollard who “specializes in engineering the fake deaths of witnesses that need to leave no trace of their existence.” As you can see in the trailer, this film once again goes with the premise of the Eraser’s mission being compromised in a serious way, forcing him to go on the run with a key witness that’s in his care….
(18) SPACE-TIME. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The cover on this week’s edition of Nature has an SFnal riff. The cover image shows a view of the Milky Way captured at Nambung National Park in Western Australia. To understand how the Galaxy formed requires precision age dating of the stars that it contains. In this week’s issue, Maosheng Xiang and Hans-Walter Rix of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, present an analysis of the birth dates for nearly 250,000 stars in their subgiant evolutionary phase, when they can serve as precise stellar clocks. The researchers found that the individual ages of the stars ranged from about 1.5 billion to more than 13 billion years old. Tripling the age-dating precision for such a large stellar sample allowed the researchers to infer the sequence of events that initiated our Galaxy’s formation. Using this information, Xiang and Rix were able to determine that the oldest part of our Galaxy’s disk had already begun to form about 13 billion years ago, just 800 million years after the Big Bang, and that the formation of the inner Galactic halo was completed some 2 billion years later.
(19) HE’S BACK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Ryan Reynolds and Mark Ruffalo team up with a Valued Senior Actor about daylight savings time as they plug The Adam Project.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Batman Returns Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George explains that in this movie Oswald Cobblepot became The Penguin because his parents threw him out the window into a river but penguins saved him, Villain Max Schreck thre Selina Kyle out of a window but cats licked her a lot so she became Catwoman. The producer explains he was personally saved by pigeons but since this si a family blog we won’t discuss what happened to him!
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Frank Catalano, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]