(1) SCRIPT DOCTOR. “Ditch the Tardis! Seven ways Russell T Davies could revive Doctor Who” according to the Guardian. Here’s one of the ideas on their list:
A ‘Doctor of the week’ every week
What if there was no one new Doctor? With a quick narrative device to produce an unstable regeneration, you could have a new high-profile Doctor every week. Suddenly it’s possible to hire Hugh Grant, Judi Dench or Riz Ahmed at the Tardis controls, when you only need to persuade them to do a few weeks’ filming – rather than a three-series commitment. Plus, you get all the publicity of the reveal of a new Doctor, over and over again.
(2) LET’S YOU AND HIM FIGHT. Rosemary Jenkinson is missing the old verbal slapfights between literary writers: “A Room with a Feud” in The Critic Magazine. Well, we still have plenty in genre, but if they stopped would you miss them?
Oh, where to find the fabulous spats that used to enliven every writers’ circle? It’s no coincidence that the drab rise of cancel culture has contributed to the demise of colourful literary disagreements. In my own case, my publisher, Doire Press, rescinded their offer to publish my debut novel after I wrote an article contending that Northern Irish authors should focus on contemporary matters rather than the Troubles. As the Sunday Independent rightly questioned in the aftermath, “Is the Irish literary world really so fragile and full of itself that it can’t cope with the odd dose of healthy impertinence?”
Many of the writing greats enhanced their reputations with a critical bon mot. As the poet and critic Dorothy Parker vaunted, “The first thing I do every morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue,”…
…Naturally, no one wants to see hatchet jobs on writers, but one can’t help wondering where the entertainment is in a bland anodyne literary world. Many writers don’t have the robust constitution to engage in the art of the literary skirmish, but the difficulty for the few who do is that those they write about are likely to claim victim status….
(3) SAWYER HEALTH UPDATE. Robert J. Sawyer told Facebook followers in a public post today that he tested positive for Covid-19, but has “no symptoms to speak of.” Best wishes for him to continue feeling well.
(4) UKRAINE BIRD STAMP. A stamp featuring the image of an armed and armored Ukrainian soldier with his middle finger raised to a Russian vessel went on sale this week. Borys Sydiuk says they’re already sold out. “Ukraine postal service issues ‘Russian warship, f***k you!’ stamp” in the Jerusalem Post.
…”Russian warship, f***k you…!” was the response to demands to surrender given to Russian naval forces by Ukrainian border guards stationed on Snake Island early in the war. The Ukrainian marine who uttered the phrase, Roman Grybov, was present at a ceremony issuing the postage stamp along with the illustrator….
(5) ROOTS FOUND. Damon Lindelof and Regina King appeared on the April 12 episode of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. “’Lost’ and ‘Watchmen’ screenwriter Damon Lindelof gets emotional learning about his family’s tragic Holocaust story” at Jewish Telegraph Agency. (PBS offers that Finding Your Roots episode “Watchmen” for viewing online at the link.)
Acclaimed screenwriter Damon Lindelof learns that several members of his family tree died in the Bialystok ghetto during the Holocaust on Tuesday night’s episode of the celebrity genealogy show “Finding Your Roots.”
With help from the archives at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum, the “Finding Your Roots” team found six pages of testimony detailing the fate of a branch of Lindelof’s family.
Lindelof, who created HBO’s 2019 “Watchmen” series and co-created “Lost,” reads from the show’s compiled pages about his family tree, repeating “circumstances of death: ghetto Bialystok” after several relatives: his great-granduncle — the brother of his great-grandmother — and his wife and their four children.
(6) GHOSTING. Past HWA President Lisa Morton recommends “The best collections of classic ghost stories” at Shepherd.
Who am I?
I’ve always been a fan of ghost stories. As a kid, I loved horror movies and the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, and H. P. Lovecraft; later on, I discovered movies like The Innocents (based on Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw) and The Haunting (adapted from Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House). As a ghost historian and editor, I’ve discovered dozens of brilliant tales from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; these are stories that remain relevant, entertaining, and frightening….
(7) TRANSPORTATION FUTURES. Arizona State University’s Future Tense will host an online event “Imagining Transportation Futures with Sec. Pete Buttigieg” on April 20 (10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Pacific). Register at the link.
Future Tense is asking Sec. Pete Buttigieg what role imagination plays in managing a federal department as sprawling and impactful as the Department of Transportation. We’re also asking three of our accomplished Future Tense Fiction authors to talk about how they see their work inspiring visions of futures that might come to pass.
Pete Buttigieg, @SecretaryPete; U.S. Secretary of Transportation
Annalee Newitz, @Annaleen; Author, When Robot and Crow Saved St. Louis, Future Tense Fiction Author, Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age
Linda Nagata, @LindaNagata; Author, Ride, Future Tense Fiction Author, Pacific Storm
Tochi Onyebuchi, @TochiTrueStory; Author, How to Pay Reparations: A Documentary, Future Tense Fiction Author, Goliath
Moderators: Paul Butler, President, New America; Ed Finn, @zonal; Founding Director, Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University
(8) MORE ABOUT CHRISTINE ASHBY. [Item by David Grigg.] Christine Ashby, long-time Australian fan, died at home on Tuesday 29 March 2022. She was 70 years of age. She is survived by her husband Derrick Ashby.
Christine was a member of the Monash University SF Association, alongside such well-known names as John Foyster and Carey Handfield. After graduating as a lawyer she began work as a solicitor and developed considerable expertise in legal costings.
She was involved in organising and running several Melbourne SF conventions in the 1970s and 80s and was the Guest of Honour at Q-Con in Brisbane in 1973. She and Derrick were members of ANZAPA for many years.
Christine was Treasurer of two Worldcons: Aussiecon in 1975 and Aussiecon Two in 1985.
Outside of fandom, Christine served for several years on the board of the Paraplegics and Quadriplegics Association of Victoria and for a short while was its Chairperson.
(9) MEMORY LANE.
2007 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Fifteen years ago, a special citation went to Ray Bradbury from the Pulitzer Board for his distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.
But the Pulitzer Board doesn’t give out such an Award without picking a specific work and this is the full language of their announcement:
Bradbury came of age as a writer before the postwar ascendancy of the paperback book as a publishing medium. Instead, during the Golden Age of Science Fiction, short stories published in pulp magazines like Astounding Science-Fiction, Thrilling Wonder Stories and Amazing Stories stood at the forefront of the field. As such, many of his novels are actually “fixups”—a term coined by SF legend A.E. van Vogt to describe novels assembled from previously published short stories that were buttressed with new interlinking material.
Culled from Bradbury’s late 1940s output, The Martian Chronicles is a sweeping account of the colonization of Mars amid nuclear war on Earth. Its literary structure (patterned after Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio) earned plaudits from such notable critics like Christopher Isherwood, who read the book after a fortuitous encounter with the younger writer (and fellow Angeleno) at a bookstore. In his review, Isherwood deemed Bradbury “a very great and unusual talent,” a tastemaking assessment that charted the course of the rest of his career.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born April 16, 1905 — Charles G. Finney. Writer and Editor. It’s rare that I pick writers whose main accomplishment is one work which has defined them, but his one such work is, well, phenomenal. His first novel and most famous work, The Circus of Dr. Lao, was a Hugo finalist at Loncon II and won one of the inaugural National Book Awards, the Most Original Book of 1935; it is most decidedly fantasy. Ray Bradbury liked the novel so much that he included it as the headline story in his anthology The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories; it is said that the carnival in his Something Wicked This Way Comes is modelled upon The Circus of Dr. Lao. (Died 1984.)
- Born April 16, 1917 — William “Billy” Benedict. Singled out for birthday honors as he was Whitey Murphy in Adventures of Captain Marvel. Yes, that Captain Marvel. Back in 1942, it was a 12-chapter black-and-white movie serial from Republic Pictures based off the Fawcett Comics strip. You can watch the first chapter, “Curse of The Scorpion,” here. (Died 1999.)
- Born April 16, 1921 — Peter Ustinov. I’ve done his Birthday in the past and profiled his extensive genre work there but I’m going to limit this write-up to just one role he did. In half a dozen films, he played Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot, first in Death on the Nile and then in Evil Under the Sun, Thirteen at Dinner (a television film), Dead Man’s Folly (another television movie), Murder in Three Acts (yet another television movie), and finally in Appointment with Death. An impressive take on that role indeed! (Died 2004.)
- Born April 16, 1922 — Kingsley Amis. So have you read The Green Man? I’m still not convinced that anything actually happened, or that rather everything including the hauntings were really in Maurice Allington’s decayed brain. I’m not seeing that he did much else for genre work other outside of The Anti-Death League and The Alteration but he did write Colonel Sun: A James Bond Adventure under the pseudonym of Robert Markham and his New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science Fiction which was published in the late Fifties sounds fascinating as he shares his views on the genre and makes some predictions as there’ll never be a SF series on the boob tube despite there already being so. (Died 1995.)
- Born April 16, 1922 — John Christopher. Author of The Tripods, an alien invasion series which was adapted into both a excellent radio and a superb television series. He wrote a lot of genre fiction including the Fireball series in which Rome never fell, and The Death of Grass which I mention because it was one of the many YA post-apocalyptic novels that he wrote in the Fifties and Sixties that sold extremely well in the U.K. The film version would be nominated for a Hugo at Noreascon I, a year where No Award was given. (Died 2012.)
- Born April 16, 1962 — Kathryn Cramer, 60. Writer, editor, literary critic. She co-founded The New York Review of Science Fiction in 1988 with David G. Hartwell and others, and was its co-editor until 1991 and again since 1996. She edited with her husband David G. Hartwell Year’s Best Fantasy one through nine, and Year’s Best SF seven through seventeen with him as well. They did a number of anthologies of which I’ll single out The Hard SF Renaissance and The Space Opera Renaissance as particularly superb. She has a most excellent website Kathryncramer.com.
- Born April 16, 1975 — Sean Maher, 47. Doctor Simon Tam In the Firefly ‘verse. And Dick Grayson (Nightwing) in a staggering number of animated DCU films, to wit Son of Batman, Batman vs. Robin, Batman: Bad Blood, Justice League vs. Teen Titans, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, Batman: Hush and Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans. He showed up on Arrow as Shrapnel in the “Blast Radius” and “Suicide Squad” episodes. He also had a one-off on Warehouse 13 as Sheldon in the “Mild Mannered” episode.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- The Flying McCoys illustrates a problem caused by something you can easily understand Superman wouldn’t know he was doing.
(12) A FAN FUND AUCTION OF YESTERYEAR. Fanac.org’s video time machine has returned from 1976 with a clip from the first MidAmeriCon.
MidAmeriCon, the 34th World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Kansas City in 1976. In this very short video excerpt from the Fan Funds Auction at Big Mac, auctioneer Rusty Hevelin shows just how far fans will go to be supportive of the Fan Funds. In this clip, it’s not books or vegemite up for bid, but currency. The second item is the one to watch, with Rusty skillfully extracting bids from the crowd. You’ll also see fellow auctioneer jan howard finder making a brief appearance…
This video is brought to you by the FANAC Fan History Project, with video from the Video Archeology project (coordinated by Geri Sullivan, with technical work by David Dyer-Bennet).
(13) IT’S BEEN AWHILE. Ethan Alter of Yahoo! Entertainment interviews Ke Huy Quan, who starred in Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom and The Goonies as a teen, dropped out of acting, and is now back as a lead in the new sf film Everyone Everywhere Everything At Once. “Ke Huy Quan looks back on ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘The Goonies’ and reveals what made him finally return to acting”.
… Was it strange to go from being the only child on the set of Temple of Doom to being constantly around other young actors while making The Goonies?
It was weird, because coming off of Indiana Jones … I got all the attention versus being on a set with six other kids, and honestly they were all hams! [Laughs] They really knew what they were doing. So I found myself constantly having to fight for attention. But that was very familiar to me, because I grew up in a big family and that’s what my home was like. I got some great friendships out of that movie, including Jeff Cohen, aka Chunk. He’s my entertainment lawyer and we’re great friends, as I am with Sean [Astin] and Corey [Feldman]. We’re Goonies for life…
(14) NOSFERATU. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Nigel Andrews reflects on the centennial of F.W. Murnau’s great horror film Nosferatu.
The film’s poetry of terror comes from real locations, mostly shot in daytime. Cityscapes: the unforgettable, hollowed-out tenement building (filmed in Lübeck) in which the vampire finds his last-act townhouse. Nature: dark monuments and bristling forests. castles: the stone arches and beetling walls of Nosferatu’s Carpathian home. Those arches become a master touch. In shot after shot, Max Shreck’s hideous Count, dressd to kill and made up likewise, emerges from the inverted U of dark tunnels or from frame-fitting Gothic doorways, like a creature serially birthed or rebirthed from vertical coffin-wombs.
Schreck was a distinguished stage actor made out for the movie. The nightmarishly thin body (for which he dieted), with long arms and extended fingers,is crowned with a rat-toothed bat-eared head, bald and cadaverously thin. The dark, hollowed eyes are a premonitory rhyme with the Lübeck buildings. The frock coat is like a sartorial shroud, which seems sewn straight on to the skin. Sometimes he wears a skewy turban-style nightcap: a touch of bleak farce among the grand guignol.
(15) JUST A PINCH. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The Apollo 11 sample return bag saga gets another chapter. “The bizarre drama behind a pinch of moon dust that just sold for $500,000” at National Geographic.
Today’s auction is the culmination of a sordid saga involving Apollo astronauts, multiple lawsuits, and scientists aching for a chance to study rare lunar materials.
…NASA has long maintained that the lunar rocks and dust collected during the Apollo missions are government property that’s not allowed to be owned by private citizens. The space agency has gone to great lengths to recover any stray lunar materials, including a sting operation in 2011 that seized—from a 74-year-old woman in a Denny’s Restaurant—a rice-size moon rock embedded in a paperweight.
The lunar dust that sold today is a rare exception to the rule, a quirk due in part to a combination of fraud, mistaken identity, and a series of legal disputes….
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Jurassic World Dominion, two generations of cast members unite for the first time. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are joined by Oscar-winner Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill.
From Jurassic World architect and director Colin Trevorrow, Dominion takes place four years after Isla Nublar has been destroyed. Dinosaurs now live—and hunt—alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, David Grigg, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]