(1) TURNING A PAGE IN THE HUGO CALENDAR. Cora Buhlert’s first “Non-Fiction Spotlight” for a 2023 book is about a collection of essays which discusses and reviews every single one of the original Conan stories: “Hither Came Conan, edited by Bob Byrne, Bill Ward, Howard Andrew Jones and Jason M. Waltz”.
Tell us about your book.
HITHER CAME CONAN is a compilation of two successful examinations of all of Robert E. Howard’s original Conan the Cimmerian stories (and one story fragment) with about 15 additional essays included. It is also the single most-inclusive repository of REH Conan story data to date. This alone makes this title invaluable; coupled with the almost 60 essays it makes this THE BOOK to shelve alongside your Wandering Star/DelRey Conan trilogy. The majority of essays (and opinions!) come from the Bob Byrne led ‘Hither Came Conan’ series hosted by Black Gate Magazine and the ‘Conan Re-Read’ of Bill Ward and Howard Andrew Jones in conversation on Howard’s blog. Data compiled for each story by Dierk Günther includes tidbits such as the probable age of both Conan and Howard, the location, the major characters, the word count, date and source of first publication, and the first recorded public reaction to be found. HITHER CAME CONAN is a wealth of all the information any reader of Conan could desire.
(2) JOHN MANSFIELD SERVICE ONLINE TOMORROW. Linda Ross-Mansfield has announced the Facebook link for the livestream of the funeral service for Pemmi-Con’s fan guest of honour, John Mansfield. Funeral begins May 12, 2:00 p.m. Central.
Murray Moore adds that at the convention there will be a special display and a memory book for fans who wish to share their memories with the family and others.
(3) BIG CONVENTION. At Galactic Journey, Alison Scott reports about Thirdmancon, the 1968 Eastercon: “[May 8, 1968] A Visit to Thirdmancon, the 1968 British Science Fiction Convention”.
It’s hard to overstate the anticipation I had for Eastercon 1968. It was going to be the largest national convention ever, with over 200 fans expected! In the end I understand that something like 150 people turned up; still the largest British national convention yet….
(4) RETRENCHMENT. Hard to believe there’s something Disney hasn’t figured how to make money from. But that’s their story, and they’re sticking to it: “Disney Pulling Some Content Off Streaming In Strategic Rethink” at Deadline.
… Pulling content off the service goes hand in hand with making less of it, or, as CEO Bob Iger put it on the call, “getting much more surgical about what we make.”
He said the company has spent a lot of time and money producing and marketing content that didn’t move the needle in terms of subscribers.
“When you make a lot of content, everything needs to be marketed. You’re spending a lot of money marketing things that are not going to have an impact on the bottom line, except negatively due to the marketing costs.”
Iger gave a shout-out to theatrical films, especially tentpoles, as great sub drivers. “But we were spreading our marketing costs so thin that we were not allocating enough money to even market them when they came onto the service. Coming up, Avatar, Little Mermaid, Guardians of the Galaxy, Elemental etc.. where we actualy believe we have an opportunity to lean into those more, put the right marketing dollars against it, allocate more basicaly away from programming that was not driving any subs at all.”
He called it “part of the maturation process as we grow into a business that we had never been in. We are learning a lot more about it. Specifically, we are learning a lot more about how our content behaves on the service and what customers want.”
(5) MAKING A COMEBACK. “Borges on Turning Trauma, Misfortune, and Humiliation into Raw Material for Art” in the Marginalian.
“Forget your personal tragedy,” Ernest Hemingway exhorted his dear friend F. Scott Fitzgerald in a tough-love letter of advice. “Good writers always come back. Always.” It is an insight as true of writers as it is of all artists and of human beings in general, as true of personal tragedy as it is of collective tragedy — something Toni Morrison articulated in her mobilizing manifesto for the writer’s task in troubled times: “There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”
That is what Jorge Luis Borges (August 24, 1899–June 14, 1986) — born the same year as Hemingway, writing two decades before Morrison — conveys with uncommon splendor of sentiment in Twenty-Four Conversations with Borges: Including a Selection of Poems (public library) — the record of his dialogues with the Argentine journalist and poet Roberto Alifano, conducted in the final years of Borges’s life, by which point he had been blind for almost thirty years.
(6) EIGHTEENTH CENTURY TO THE RESCUE. “Sailing boat rescued by the Götheborg” – article and photo gallery on the Götheborg of Sweden blog.
…Imagine losing your rudder out at sea and sending out a distress call. And then the largest ocean-going wooden sailing ship in the world comes to your rescue. Or in the words of the sailors on the sailing boat: “This moment was very strange, and we wondered if we were dreaming. Where were we? What time period was it?”
You can see many more photos of the big ship on the Götheborg’s Instagram account.
(7) MEMORY LANE.
2012 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Paul Cornell’s “The Copenhagen Interpretation” was published first in Asimov’s in their July 2011 issue. It was nominated for the Best Novelette Hugo at Chicon 7, and also for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award.
You know that I don’t do spoilers, so I won’t do any for this extraordinary well-written story. Annoyingly, while doing research found a number of descriptions of “The Copenhagen Interpretation” that gave everything away. Idiots.
And for the Beginning…
The best time to see Kastellet is in the evening, when the ancient fortifications are alight with glow worms, a landmark for anyone gazing down on the city as they arrive by carriage. Here stands one of Copenhagen’s great parks, its defence complexes, including the home of the Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste, and a single windmill, decorative rather than functional. The wind comes in hard over the Langeline, and after the sun goes down, the skeleton of the whale that’s been grown into the ground resonates in sympathy and gives out a howl that can be heard in Sweden.
Hamilton had arrived on the diplomatic carriage, without papers, and, as etiquette demanded, without weapons or folds, thoroughly out of uniform. He watched the carriage heave itself up into the darkening sky above the park, and bank off to the southwest, swaying in the wind, sliding up the fold it made under its running boards. He was certain every detail was being registered by the FLV. You don’t look into the diplomatic bag, but you damn well know where the bag goes. He left the park through the healed bronze gates and headed down a flight of steps towards the diplomatic quarter, thinking of nothing. He did that when there were urgent questions he couldn’t answer, rather than run them round and round in his head and let them wear away at him.
The streets of Copenhagen. Ladies and gentlemen stepping from carriages, the occasional tricolour of feathers on a hat or, worse, once, tartan over a shoulder. Hamilton found himself reacting, furious. But then he saw it was Campbell. The wearer, a youth in evening wear, was the sort of fool who heard an accent in a bar and took up anything apparently forbidden, in impotent protest against the world. And thus got fleeced by Scotsmen.
He was annoyed at his anger. He had failed to contain himself.
He walked past the façade of the British embassy, with the Hanoverian regiment on guard, turned a corner and waited in one of those convenient dark streets that form the second map of diplomatic quarters everywhere in the world. After a moment, a door with no external fittings swung open and someone ushered him inside and took his coat.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 11, 1920 — Denver Pyle. His first genre performance is in The Flying Saucer way back in 1950 where he was a character named Turner. Escape to Witch Mountain as Uncle Bené is his best known genre role. He’s also showed up on the Fifties Adventures of Superman, Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe, Men Into Space, Twilight Zone and his final role was apparently in How Bugs Bunny Won the West as the Narrator. (Died 1997.)
- Born May 11, 1918 — Richard Feynman. Ok, not genre as such but certainly genre adjacent. I wholeheartedly recommend Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick for an entertaining look at his life. (Died 1988.)
- Born May 11, 1935 — Doug McClure. He had the doubtful honor of appearing some of the worst Seventies SF films done (my opinion of course and you’re welcome to challenge that), to wit The Land That Time Forgot, The People That Time Forgot, Warlords of the Deep and even Humanoids From The Deep. Genre wise, he also appeared in one-offs in The Twilight Zone, Out of This World, AirWolf, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Fantasy Island and Manimal. Some of which were far better. (Died 1995.)
- Born May 11, 1952 — Shohreh Aghdashloo, 71. Best known genre role is Chrisjen Avasarala on The Expanse series. (I’ve not seen it, but have listened to all of The Expanse series.) She also had a recurring role as Farah Madani on The Punisher. She was also in X-Men: The Last Stand as Dr. Kavita Rao, but her role as The Chairman in The Adjustment Bureau didn’t make it to the final version. She was Commodore Paris in Star Trek Beyond, and she had a recurring role as Nhadra Udaya in FlashForward.
- Born May 11, 1952 — Frances Fisher, 71. Angie on Strange Luck and a recurring role as Eva Thorne on Eureka. Have I mentioned how I love the latter series? Well I do! She’s also shown up on Medium, X-Files, Outer Limits, Resurrection, The Expanse and has some role in the forthcoming Watchmen series.
- Born May 11, 1976 — Alter S. Reiss, 47. He’s a scientific editor and field archaeologist. He lives in Jerusalem, he’s written two novels, Sunset Mantel and Recalled to Service. He’s also written an impressive amount of short fiction in the past ten years.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has an MCU joke.
(11) DO YOUR PULP HOMEWORK HERE. The Popular Culture Association’s Pulp Studies area now has a website with links and resources: “Pulp Studies”.
What is a “Pulp”?
Pulp magazines were a series of mostly English-language, predominantly American, magazines printed on rough pulp paper. They were often illustrated with highly stylized, full-page cover art and numerous line art illustrations of the fictional content. They were sold for modest sums, and were targeted at (sometimes specialized) readerships of popular literature, such as western and adventure, detective, fantastic (including the evolving genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror), romance and sports fiction. The first pulp Argosy, began life as the children’s magazine The Golden Argosy, dated Dec 2, 1882 and the last of the “original” pulps was Ranch Romances and Adventures, Nov 1971.
(12) THE SOURCES OF HORROR. At CrimeReads, Nicholas Binge explains “What Teaching Shakespeare Taught Me About Writing Horror”.
…On the surface, no play epitomizes this more than his first tragedy, the grisly Titus Andronicus. It is the Saw franchise of Elizabethan theatre, filled with as much shock and gore as Shakespeare could possibly have packed into a single play. As well as a full complement of stabbings, hangings, and beheadings, the audience is treated to Aaron being buried up to his neck until he starves to death, seeing Lavinia’s hands removed and tongue cut out, watching on as Alarbus’s arms and legs are cut off and he is thrown into a fire, and finally, Shakespeare delivers the coup-de-grace as Chiron and Demetrius are baked into a pie and then fed to their mother. Let it not be said that gore is a new thing in popular entertainment.
And yet, for all these horrors, this play never quite captures an audience (or a classroom) like some of his later, less graphic, tragedies. Why is that? Seen through the lens of a horror writer, Shakespeare’s progression as an artist is not just in his ability to play with structure, form, and character, but rather that he gains a deeper understanding of how to really scare people. As he grew as a writer, he learned there are better ways to emotionally wound an audience than the surface kills and thrills, and it’s this that ends up really defining him as a playwright….
(13) THE TOWER OF BALLARD. Also at CrimeReads, Andrew F. Sullivan revisits High-Rise by J.G. Ballard: “If You Build It, They Will Profit: Reflecting on J. G. Ballard’s High-Rise 48 Years Later”.
J. G. Ballard’s modern fable High-Rise is almost fifty years old. In the past few decades, its potency has come closer to resembling prophecy, yet Ballard’s obsession with affluence and self-isolating communities isn’t limited to this novel alone. Novels like Super-Cannes, Concrete Island, and Cocaine Nights all invoke similar themes of alienation, isolation, and unrestrained affluence from the depths of his back catalogue, the rich coiling tightly around one another to block out the pressing realities of the wider, poorer world. Yet High-Rise remains a singular invocation, summoning a sturdy mental image with ease, a fraught zoo, a series of stacked cages, a social order imprinted on the quivering skyline in concrete—a book that has shaped its legacy at times with just a title and a stark image on the cover.
(14) DOUR TOWER. The New York Post is quite right about this! “New Brooklyn Tower divides NYC with its ‘evil’ ‘Sauron’ vibes”.
(15) FAILURE MODE. A Nature editorial says, “Space companies should not lose heart when things go wrong. The first Moon missions failed repeatedly — and provided lessons on how to achieve success in space and beyond.” “In space, failure is an option — often the only one”
“Failure is not an option,” NASA’s legendary flight-operations director Gene Kranz is said to have remarked, as seen in the 1995 film Apollo 13. Actor Ed Harris portrayed Kranz as he guided his team to save a spacecraft that had run into trouble on the way to the Moon. In the movie, as in real life, the three astronauts on the Apollo 13 mission pulled off a spectacular fix and returned safely to Earth.
Not all space ventures have such a tidy ending. A 2019 attempt by Israeli company SpaceIL to land on the Moon crashed. On 20 April this year, a spectacular intentional detonation ended the first major test flight of Starship, the world’s largest rocket, which SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, is building to carry humans back to the Moon and to Mars. The craft had spun out of control four minutes after lifting off its launch pad in Texas. Five days later, a robotic mission from the Japanese company ispace, based in Tokyo, tried and failed to land safely on the Moon…
“…The scientists and engineers involved should not be discouraged by these failures. Space is hard. This is a truism trotted out every time there’s an attempt to launch from this planet or land on another. But it is accurate. Those who wish to explore the cosmos should expect to fail — perhaps many times — before they can succeed.”
(16) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 83 of the Octothorpe podcast, John Coxon would like more drawers, Alison Scott uses the floor, and Liz Batty is okay with shelves. They also discuss fan funds briefly, and the 2023 Eastercon (Conversation) at some length. Listen here: “Efffffffff”.
(17) ZELDA KEEPS ROLLING ALONG. EV Grieve has photos of “‘The Legend of Zelda,’ bus edition”. See them at the link.
Nintendo Switch gamers may be excited to see this promo bus for “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom,” the highly anticipated sequel to 2017’s “Breath of the Wild” parked on First Avenue by 12th Street…
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Doctor Who drops brand new teaser as fans decode clues” reports Radio Times.
…This appears to confirm that we’ll get another full trailer for the trilogy of specials at some point during the Eurovision Song Contest, as had previously been rumoured….
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Hampus Eckerman, Murray Moore, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]