(1) GOOSEBUMPS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Yahoo! Entertainment interviews R.L. Stine on the 30th anniversary of the Goosebumps series. Stine reveals his inspiration is…Ray Bradbury! “’Goosebumps’ at 30: R.L. Stine on the blockbuster book franchise and why he’s ‘Stephen King for kids’”.
…What started in 1992 as an experiment in bringing horror to tweenage bookworms has become a cross-media phenomenon that includes TV shows, movies, comic books and video games. And if Stine had had his way three decades ago, the series would have ended before it even began.
“I didn’t want to do Goosebumps,” he reveals now, crediting his wife — author and editor Jane Waldhorn — with pushing him to confront the one thing he actually was afraid of: writing for a younger audience. “She kept after me, saying, ‘No one’s ever done a horror series for 7- to 12-year-olds. We have to try it!’ I said, ‘All right, we’ll try two or three of them.'”…
(2) KEEPING UP WITH BEST RELATED. Cora Buhlert has posted another Non-Fiction Spotlight for More Modern Mythmakers: 25 Interviews with Horror and Science Fiction Writers and Filmmakers by Michael McCarty.
I’m continuing my Non-Fiction Spotlight project, where I interview the authors/editors of SFF-related non-fiction books that come out in 2022 and are eligible for the 2023 Hugo Awards. For more about the Non-Fiction Spotlight project, go here. To check out the spotlights I already posted, go here.
For more recommendations for SFF-related non-fiction, also check out this Facebook group set up by the always excellent Farah Mendlesohn, who is a champion (and author) of SFF-related non-fiction….
Why should SFF fans in general and Hugo voters in particular read this book?
McCARTY: I have some great interviews with some great science fiction and fantasy writers such as Alan Dean Foster, Harry Turtledove, Terry Brooks and Charles de Lint and Connie Willis. Plus, a slew of horror and dark fantasy writers and filmmakers as well.
The book is bursting at the seams with great interviews. You’ll walk away knowing more about the interviewees but also about the horror and science fiction publishing and film industry the art and craft of writing books and doing movies.
I hope the reader comes away more knowledgeable and inspired and will write a terrific work after they finish the book. No thanks needed.
(3) ORWELL PRIZES. The Orwell Foundation announced the Orwell Prizes 2022 on July 14.
- The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 2022: Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (Faber).
- The Orwell Prize for Political Writing 2022: My Fourth Time, We Drowned by Sally Hayden (Harper Collins)
- The Orwell Prize for Journalism 2022: George Monbiot (The Guardian)
- The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2022: The Cost of Covid – Burnley Crisis by Ed Thomas (BBC News)
A Special Prize was awarded to David Collins and Hannah Al-Othman (The Sunday Times) for The Murder of Agnes Wanjiru. All winners receive £3000 and took part in the Awards Ceremony at Conway Hall on Thursday 14th July 2022. Jean Seaton, the Director of The Orwell Foundation, said of the Book Prizes:
Both Sally Hayden and Claire Keegan have, in very different ways, written gripping stories about things that should alarm us: there are awful truths right at the heart of our societies and systems. However, in their wit, elegance and compassion, these powerful winning books also help us think about the choices we make, and how to make the future better. Orwell would be proud.
(4) FREE READ. The Sunday Morning Transport is doing four free stories in July. The second, Ian Tregillis’ “The Owl and the Reptiloid”, examines a vision of first contact and what comes after.
Edy is boarding the 147 at Foster, running late to a soul-rotting customer-service gig just off Michigan Avenue, when the Secret Masters grace Chicago with a Black Triangle of its very own. But at the historic moment, she’s earning a little sigh of disdain from the bus driver, thanks to some amateur-hour fumbling of her Ventra card….
(5) LABOR ORGANIZING GAINS MOMENTUM. The New York Times’ Ian Prasad Philbrick analyzes “Why Union Drives Are Succeeding”.
After decades of declining union membership, organized labor may be on the verge of a resurgence in the U.S. Employees seeking better working conditions and higher pay have recently organized unions at Starbucks, Amazon, Apple and elsewhere. Applications for union elections this year are on pace to approach their highest level in a decade. I asked Noam Scheiber, who covers workers and labor issues for The Times, what’s behind the latest flurry of union activity.
Ian: You recently profiled Jaz Brisack, a Rhodes scholar and barista who helped organize a union at a Starbucks in Buffalo that was the first at a company-owned store in decades. Why did she want to work there?
Noam: Jaz comes out of a tradition. We saw it during the Depression; people with radical politics taking jobs with the explicit intention of organizing workers. The term for this is “salting,” like the seasoning. The practice has had some limited success in recent decades, but we’re seeing a broader revival of it, and Jaz is part of that. Several salts got jobs at Amazon and helped organize a facility on Staten Island. Academics like Barry Eidlin and Mie Inouye have written extensively about this.
(6) PODCAST PEOPLE. Simultaneous Times is a monthly science fiction podcast produced by Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA. Episode 53 presents stories by Geoff Habiger and Jonathan Nevair read by Jean-Paul Garnier.
Stories featured in this episode:
“Kreuzungmeister” by Geoff Habiger.
“That New Spaceship Smell” by Jonathan Nevair.
(7) HARRYHAUSEN’S LEGACY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In this video, the Royal Ocean Film Society looks at how Ray Harryhausen, “one of Hollywood’s most beloved craftsmen,” combined live action and stop motion animation. He notes that the methods Harryhausen used were actually quite complicated, and just as Harryhausen built on the work of Willis O’Brien, so do today’s animators at ILM and WETA Digital use Harryhausen’s techniques as a basis for their own work.
(8) LAST SURVIVING MEMBER’S BOTTLE. John L. Coker III told First Fandom members in the latest Scientifiction that he had acknowledged Robert A. Madle as the sole surviving member of First Fandom and dispatched to him the bottle of Beam’s set aside for the winner of a tontine established over 60 years ago.
I sent him the last man’s bottle, inscribed thusly: “This bottle is reserved for science-fiction fandom’s Living Legend Robert A. (Bob) Madle, who in 1958 suggested the idea of forming an organization called First Fandom, a fun-loving group of science-fiction fans of the Golden Era. Founders of First Fandom included C. L. (Doc) Barrett, Don Ford, Lou Tabakow, Ben Keifer and Lynn Hickman. The first person to join the group other than the founders was Robert Bloch. First Fandom would give recognition awards to the great authors of the past, publish a magazine and keep the history of science fiction in front of today’s fans. It would be a “last man’s club” with the final member “knocking off a privately held fifth of liquor.”
(9) FRANKE MOURNED. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Here are two nice German-language obituaries for Herbert W. Franke, one by fellow SF writer Dietmar Dath at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: “Zum Tod des Science-Fiction-Autors Herbert W. Franke”; and Claudia Koestler at the Süddeutsche Zeitung: “Nachruf: Herbert Werner Franke im Alter von 95 Jahren gestorben”.
(10) HARRY ALM OBIT. Long-time Louisiana fan Harry Alm, husband of Marilyn and mainstay of their region’s fandom (not least filking), died this morning. Marilyn announced the news on Facebook.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1982 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty years ago on a summer July evening, Elliott Gould and Mimi Kuzyk starred in this most excellent half hour episode broadcast on HBO of The Ray Bradbury Theater called “The Happiness Machine”.
It is based off the short story that may have first been published in the Saturday Evening Post or the Dandelion Wine novel that was also published that month.
SPOILER ALERT (AS IF YOU NEEDED ONE)
After having upon a summer morning what he thinks is the perfect happiness in watching bees buzzing, birds chirping and children playing and so on the husband builds a happiness machine for his family so that they can experience the joy he feels, but the machine’s effect is not what he expects.
It gives the user a perfect experience of whatever they want which leads to deep depression upon coming back to their usual life. Now given this a Bradbury story, you already know that will be an upbeat ending. After he destroys the Happiness Machine, his wife points out that reality (bees buzzing, birds soaring and chirping with children playing), and of course his home and family are the actual Happiness Machine.
END OF THE SPOILERS (AS IF YOU NEEDED TO BE TOLD)
I like Bradbury, his stories always just interesting enough to worth reading or watching. I thought HBO do a rather great job with the Ray Bradbury Theater.
It’s streaming presently on HBO Max. As always please don’t link to copies on YouTube as they are pirated. We’ll just need to remove your post.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born July 17, 1889 — Erle Stanley Gardner. Though best remembered for the Perry Mason detective stories, he did write a handful of SF stories, all of which are collected in The Human Zero: The Science Fiction Stories of Erle Stanley Gardner. It is not available from the usual digital suspects but Amazon has copies of the original hardcover edition at reasonable prices. (Died 1970.)
- Born July 17, 1952 — David Hasselhoff, 70. Genre roles in the Knight Rider franchise, Nick Fury: Agent of Shield film, as the title characters in — and I’m not kidding — Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical, and in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2.
- Born July 17, 1954 — J. Michael Straczynski, 68. Best known rather obviously for creating and writing most of Babylon 5 and its all too short-lived sequel Crusade. He’s also responsible as well for the Jeremiah and Sense8 series. On the comics sides, he’s written The Amazing Spider-Man, Thor and Fantastic Four. Over at DC, he did the Superman: Earth One trilogy of graphic novels, and has also written Superman, Wonder Woman, and Before Watchmen titles.
- Born July 17, 1965 — Alex Winter, 57. Bill in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and its sequels Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey and Bill & Ted Face the Music. And though I didn’t realize it, he was Marko in The Lost Boys. He directed two Ben 10 films, Ben 10: Race Against Time and Ben 10: Alien Swarm. He also directed Quantum is Calling, a short film that has cast members Keanu Reeves, Simon Pegg, John Cho, and Paul Rudd.
- Born July 17, 1967 — Kelly Robson, 55. She finally has a collection out, nearly five hundred pages of fiction, Alias Space and Other Stories. It’s available at the usual suspects for four dollars and ninety-nine cents. Bliss! It contains “A Human Stain” for which she won a Nebula, and two Aurora winners, “Waters of Versailles” and “Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach”.
- Born July 17, 1976 — Brian K. Vaughan, 46. Wow. Author of Ex Machina, the stellar Pride of Baghdad, Runaways, the Hugo winning at LoneStarCon 3 Saga (which has won a BFA and a Dragon), Y: The Last Man which briefly was a series, and one of his latest undertakings, Paper Girls, which is wonderful. You could spend an entire summer just reading those series. In his spare time, he was a writer, story editor and producer of Lost during seasons three through five, and he was the showrunner and executive producer of the Under the Dome series.
- Born July 17, 1992 — Billie Lourd, 30. Lourd is the only child of actress Carrie Fisher. She appeared as Lieutenant Connix in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. She also has been a regular cast member on American Horror Story for five seasons.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
- Candorville thinks we should not be assuming this widely believed astronomical fact is true.
(14) FERDINAND’S OFFSRING. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, the weekly humor competition, conducted by Pat Myers, is about feghoots. And boy, are the winners groaners!
The winners are here: “Style Invitational Week 1497: A ‘what if’ contest; winning pun-stories”.
The ones even the judge can’t understand are here: “Style Conversational Week 1497: Figure out the puns in these ‘feghoots’”.
Here are some of the entries that stumped me. YMMV, as they say; the puns might jump right out at you. If so, or if you just want to guess, leave a comment right here at the bottom of the column, rather than in the usual forum of the Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook. I’m reprinting the entries as they came in, with no editing except to fix spelling, typos, etc. I didn’t check at all who wrote them, though if their authors want to reveal themselves in the comments thread, fine with me!
(15) BOOKSTORE SAVED. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Not a genre bookstore, but I figure all bookstores are fellow travelers. “Detroit bookstore 27th Letter was scammed. The local community stepped in to save it” in the Washington Post.
…The individual placed several different orders, amounting to $35,000 worth of medical and engineering textbooks, each costing between $100 and $200. Then, in late May, staff received a notification from the store’s merchant service provider, flagging a credit card the person used as fraudulent.
The bookstore co-owners went through the individual’s purchases — all of which were shipped to the same address outside Michigan — and quickly realized that the person had placed every past order using a stolen credit card, as well.
“That’s when we started to consider closing,” said Cooper, 28.
They contacted to law enforcement, their insurance provider and different banks, hoping for a reprieve from the serious financial toll they knew the scam would take on their small company. The cost, they were told, would probably fall entirely on them — which would put them out of business.
… “We realized we needed to ask for help,” Erin Pineda said.
The store co-owners started a GoFundMe campaign, and within 10 days, they surpassed their goal of $35,000. They were stunned by the generosity.
“We’re just blown away by how the community responded and lifted us up in a really difficult situation,” Erin Pineda said. “It was incredible.”…
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] An old man struggles to keep his house from collapsing and deal with aging in this 2017 animated film directed by Wong Jin Yao.
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, “Orange Mike” Lowrey, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]