(1) PETER WATTS Q&A. Media Death Cult’s Moid Moidelhoff hosts Peter Watts in “The Big Interview”.
Peter Watts is a Canadian marine biologist who also writes awesome science fiction stories. We talked for about three hours, we will do it again.
(2) KNOW YOUR COMICS. [Item by David Goldfarb.] The most recent LearnedLeague match day had a question that was at least SF-adjacent.
The DC Comics superheroes Kid Flash, Robin, Aqualad, and Wonder Girl were the four original members of what superhero team, which has included countless other members over the years including (recently) Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy?
The answer is “the Teen Titans”. Get rate was 50%, with the most common wrong answer (7% of answers) being “the Justice League”.
(3) OCTOTHORPE. The confession “I’m Not A Fan In The Way John Is” is the title of the Octothorpe podcast’s 72nd episode. But who’s confessing?
John Coxon isn’t gambling, Alison Scott isn’t reading, and Liz Batty doesn’t care. We discuss semiprozines quite a lot, mostly by accident (we might have to revisit that again sometime.) Oh, and we briefly touch on Andor, but we don’t say much.
(4) THE GAME’S AFOOT. ‘Sherlock Holmes in Oz’ and others’: The Sherlockian Writings of Ruth Berman, published by the Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota (December 2022, 110 pages) is available from the Norwegian Explorers, c/o Phil Bergen, 3829 179 Ave NW, Andover MN 55304-1820. $11.00, which includes postage.
The Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota is a “scion society of the Baker Street Irregulars of New York, dedicated to keeping green the memory of the Master, Sherlock Holmes, and honoring his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”
Berman, an award-winning sff poet, was also a 1968 nominee for Best Fan Writer.
(5) MAJOR STATHOPOULOS PORTRAIT EXHIBIT. Blue Mountains Cultural Center in Australia has put up a webpage for its forthcoming exhibit “The Semblance of Things: portraits by Nick Stathopoulos”, running from February 4-April 2, 2023. It’s always exciting to see his achievements recognized, since along the way Nick’s work for sff publications has garnered 10 Ditmar Awards and a Hugo nomination.
The Semblance of Things is a comprehensive survey of Nick Stathopoulos’ portraits from the past 30 years documenting the evolution of his hyper-real style. The artist delves beneath the painted surface to reveal psychological insights into the subject, beyond the superficial likeness often expected of portraiture. As well as the curated selection of portraits, the exhibition includes archival photographs, sketchbooks, and video clips. Subjects include celebrities Isla Fisher, David Stratton, Barry Crocker, Shaun Tan, Grahame Bond (Aunty Jack), Mr. Squiggle, and many more. This is the first time these portraits have been exhibited together, with works ranging in scale from the blockbuster Archibald finalists to more intimate and personal work.
(6) RALPH ROBERTS (1945-2021). [Item by Steven H Silver.] Ralph Roberts (b.1945) died on June 24, 2021. Roberts was the author of The Hundred-Acre Spaceship and from 1995-2012 ran Farthest Star Publishing (which mostly seems to have published works by Mike Resnick).
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1952 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Robin Hood statue, Castle Place, Nottingham
Continuing our look at statues of fantasy characters, we now have the Robin Hood statue at Castle Place.
The statue was commissioned by local businessman, Philip E. F. Clay to provide a landmark that recognized Nottingham’s connection with the world-famous folk hero. Nottingham-born and resident Royal Academy sculptor James Woodford was chosen to design and cast the statue at a cost of a rather princely sum of five thousand pounds.
Though it’s not visible to the eye, Robin Hood is actually in eight pieces as a single piece statue would have been way too exorbitant to cast.
As I just noted, the figure was cast in eight pieces of half-inch thick bronze like the Rudyard Kipling statue we were talking about last Scroll, and stands in a traditional archer’s pose on a two-and-half ton block of white Clipsham stone.
Extensive research was done by Woodford to understand what historians believed the stocky-built medieval foresters of the period would look like, but he made one change that upset a Hell of a lot of individuals. And still does seventy years later.
They expected Robin Hood to have the triangular pointed hat with a long feather which Errol Flynn had in his film role, so the statue’s authentic headgear of a woodsman’s leather skull cap did not go down well at all.
They originally planned to place it in the roadway at the top of Castle Road but the realization dawned that that traffic and congestion would be a nightmare as everyone stopped to look at it.
The statue was officially presented to the city to commemorate the visit of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh on June 28, 1949, during Nottingham’s quincentenary celebrations. Keep in mind that actually it wasn’t actually completed and installed until three years later.
The statue was finally unveiled on July 24, 1952, by the Duchess of Portland on the specially-prepared lawn beneath the walls of Nottingham Castle.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born December 8, 1861 — Georges Méliès. Director of A Trip To The Moon which I know was one of Kage Baker’s most-liked films. It surely must be one of the earliest genre films and also one of the most visually iconic with the rocket ship stuck in the face of the moon. He did some other genre shorts such as Baron Munchausen’s Dreamand The Legend of Rip Van Winkle. (Died 1938.)
- Born December 8, 1894 — E.C.Segar. Creator of Popeye who of course is genre. Who could not watch Altman’s film and not know that? Segar created the character who first appeared in 1929 in his comic strip Thimble Theatre. Fantagraphics has published a six-volume book set reprinting all Thimble Theatre daily and Sunday strips from 1928–38. (Died 1938.)
- Born December 8, 1950 — Rick Baker,72. Baker won the Academy Award for Best Makeup a record seven times from a record eleven nominations, beginning when he won the first award given for An American Werewolf in London. So what else is he known for? Oh, I’m not listing everything but his first was The Thing with Two Heads and I’ll single out The Exorcist, Star Wars, The Howling which I love, Starman for the Starman transformation, Beast design on the Beauty and the Beast series and Hellboy.
- Born December 8, 1951 — Brian Attebery, 71. If I was putting together a library of reference works right now, Attebery would be high on the list of authors at the center of my shopping list. I think The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature: From Irving to Le Guin is still essential reading and Parabolas of Science Fiction with Veronica Hollinger is very close to a Grand Unification Theory of the Genre. He won a World Fantasy Award for his editing of Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, and a Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Stories about Stories: Fantasy & the Remaking of Myth.
- Born December 8, 1954 — Rebecca Neason. She wrote a Next Generation novel, Guises of The Mind, plus several Highlander novels, and two fantasy novels; her widower says one novel went unpublished. She was a regular panelist at conventions in the Pacific Northwest. Jim Fiscus has a remembrance here. (Died 2010.)
- Born December 8, 1957 — Laura J. Mixon, 65. She won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer at Sasquan. She has written a number of excellent novels including Glass Houses and Up Against It which got an Otherwise nomination. She is married to SF writer Steven Gould, with whom she co-wrote the novel Greenwar.
- Born December 8, 1965 — David Harewood, 57. First genre appearance is the BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North (Billie Piper plays the lead). He played Tuck in the BBC’s Robin Hood series and showed up as Joshua Naismith in Doctor Who’s ‘The End of Time’ episode. He played two separate characters on Supergirl, J’onnJ’onzz/Martian Manhunter / Hank Henshaw and Cyborg Superman.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Least I Could Do suspects a skill you’re using right now will become extinct.
- Bizarro has another example of fans getting ahead of creators.
- Candorville has a romantic “miss you more” exchange, couched in sff terms.
(10) THREE, NOT FIVE. Camestros Felapton shares his “Review: Children of Memory by Adrian Tchaikovsky”. Beware mild spoilers.
Tchaikovsky’s third book in the Children of Time series continues to build up the series about deep time and sapience with another tale of mysterious planets, lost colonies and nature of intelligence and identity.
As with the previous novels, the story is technically a stand-alone story but the depth of the background to the events sits within the previous two stories. Each novel adds to and expands the evolving space-faring culture around whom these stories take place….
(11) BLAST OFF! Dreams of Space takes us back to a Fifties magazine’s answer to “Will your child visit the Moon?” in “Women’s Day -August (1953) Part 1”. The article is reproduced at the link.
Women’s Day magazine also got involved in the spaceflight fad in the early 1950s. This 1953 (August) issue had a number of space related articles including: Will Your Child Visit The Moon? The article makes the case to the mothers of America that travel into space and the Moon is possible. It lays out the current development of spaceflight and how it will evolve. Not a lot of illustrations for all this text but a most interesting article in an unlikely place….
(12) OR MAYBE ALIVE IN A DIFFERENT FORM. “Wonder Woman 3 Dead: Patty Jenkins Script Rejected” reports Cosmic Book News.
…The report comes from THR who reports how Wonder Woman 3 is not moving forward as the DC movies have hit a turning point.
Worth a mention is that just yesterday saw Gal Gadot tweet about playing Wonder Woman, which was liked on Twitter by the new co-head of the DCU, James Gunn.
“A few years ago it was announced that I was going to play Wonder Woman. I’ve been so grateful for the opportunity to play such an incredible, iconic character and more than anything I’m grateful for YOU. The fans. Can’t wait to share her next chapter with you,” tweeted Gadot.
It’s unknown if Gal Gadot knew about Wonder Woman 3 not moving forward prior to tweeting what she said, but it probably does seem likely that she knew about it as did James Gunn, so maybe Gadot is sticking around, as Gadot is rumored to appear in The Flash; however, more on that below….
(13) IN MEMORY YET GREENLAND. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] No, not an SF classic but this week’s Nature cover story.
The cover shows an artist’s impression of the rich ecosystem that existed in parts of northern Greenland some 2 million years ago. The ecosystem is reconstructed from ancient DNA in this week’s issue by Eske Willerslev and colleagues. Working at the Kap København Formation in Peary Land, the researchers gathered sediment samples rich in organic material from 5 different geological sites. By extracting and sequencing DNA from these samples, they were able to piece together a picture of the flora and fauna present around 2 million years ago. The team found evidence of open boreal forest mixed with Arctic species such as cedar, spruce and birch, as well as signs of animals including hares, mastodons, reindeer and geese. The evidence affirms that this part of Greenland, now a polar desert, was 11–17 °C warmer than it is today and suggests it was home to an ecosystem composition that no longer exists anywhere in the world.
Research paper here. (Open access).
(14) URGE TO MERGE. “Strange flashes linked to stars merging rather than dying” discussed in Nature.
Brief, intense flashes known as γ-ray bursts appear every day at random locations in the sky. These bursts are classified according to their duration. Short γ-ray bursts, lasting less than one second, are thought to derive from the merging of two neutron stars in a binary system, whereas long γ-ray bursts are active for a few seconds or more, and result from the collapse of a massive star. Four papers published in this issue of Nature by Troja et al.1, Rastinejad et al.2, Mei et al.3 and Yang et al.4 now challenge this long-standing paradigm, by providing evidence of a long γ-ray burst that seems to have been produced by the merger of a compact binary system.
One of the papers is open access here.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Another sff short released this week by DUST, “Eureka!” starring Karen Gillan.
A lazy, uninspired woman is visited by an otherworldly being responsible for giving humanity all its great ideas.
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Steven H Silver, John A Arkansawyer, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]