(1) GO BACK AND TRI AGAIN. “HG Wells fans spot numerous errors on Royal Mint’s new £2 coin” — Adam Roberts and Stephen Baxter explained the gaffes to Guardian readers.
Observant fans of HG Wells have questioned how a new coin from the Royal Mint commemorating The War of the Worlds author could be released with multiple errors, including giving his “monstrous tripod” four legs.
The £2 coin is intended to mark 75 years since the death of Wells, and includes imagery inspired by The War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man.
…Science fiction novelist and professor of 19th-century literature Adam Roberts, who is author of a biography of Wells and vice president of the HG Wells Society, also criticised the depiction of the Invisible Man, shown in a top hat; in the book he arrives at Iping under a “wide-brimmed hat”.
“It’s nice to see Wells memorialised, but it would have been nicer for them to get things right,” Roberts said. “A tripod with four legs is hard to comprehend (tri: the clue is in the name), and Wells’s (distinctly ungentlemanly) invisible man, Griffin, never wore a top hat … I’d say Wells would be annoyed by this carelessness: he took immense pains to get things right in his own work – inviting translators of his book to stay with him to help the process and minimise errors and so on.”
Stephen Baxter, vice president of the Wells Society and author of The Massacre of Mankind, an official sequel to The War of the Worlds , said he thought Wells would have been “very flattered by the coin, but infuriated by that non-tripod! It’s not just the extra leg but the stiffness of it. In the book itself, he has a sideswipe at the ‘stiff, stilted tripods’ depicted in an early ‘pamphlet’ on the war – in fact he was talking about clumsy illustrations in the newspaper serialisation of the book, its first publication. ‘They were no more like the Martians I saw than a Dutch doll is like a human being.’ Take that!”
(2) BEWARE DOCTOR WHO SPOILER. For the rest of you – “Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker quits after three years as Time Lord” reports Mirror Online (among other sources). Showrunner Chris Chibnall is to remain. (Here’s the Guardian link.)
Jodie Whittaker is quitting at the end of the next Doctor Who series, when she will regenerate into the 14th Time Lord.
The 38-year-old has told bosses she intends to stick to the traditional rule of leaving after three stints in the TARDIS, like the majority of her predecessors.
One insider said: “It’s all very hush-hush but it is known on set that Jodie is leaving and they are gearing up for a regeneration.
“Her departure is top secret but at some point over the coming months the arrival of the 14th Doctor will need to be filmed. It’s very exciting.”
Insiders claim Whittaker is keen to take on other roles.
(3) DAVID WEBER UPDATE. Posted by Regina Kirby on SouthernFandomClassic listserv and forwarded by Andrew Porter:
Here is the latest from David Weber’s Facebook on his condition:
They seem to have the temp totally under control now. BP is still a little ping-pongy, but trending MUCH lower. I think they’re still worried a bit about my heart (remembering I was scheduled for a heart cath last week before all this blew up) and about clotting.
Still coughing up wet phlegm. Not as many blood draw sticks, thank goodness! Breathing is a lot better, at least when not moving. I’ve been limited to sort of shooting out half-dozen word bursts and then gasping for breath. I’m up to whole sentences (well, phrases) now between breaths. Soon as I move, the panting and dizziness starts in, but I think even that is better. Not sure if we’re completely through the antibiotics yet, but I do think everything they’ve pumped into me has helped a lot.
Then, tonight on David Weber the Author on Facebook:
I am now officially off the heart monitor!
O2 absorption still too low and they’re still watching for clotting, but the situation is clearly improving.
(4) ERIC FLINT & COMPANY. Ring of Fire’s first Open House event of the new year will be held Saturday, January 9, beginning at 1:00 Central time.
Join us for a discussion of the upcoming Colony High series with special guests Dr. David Brin and Steve Ruskin.
Use the Zoom link below to join in on the fun. We’ll see you there!
(5) GONE VIRTUAL. The Popular Culture Association will take its annual conference online in 2021 – the vaccine rollout won’t be completed in time to save the day: “A Message From Our President”.
Happy 2021 to all PCA members! I wish you a brighter, better year. The PCA Governing Board met today and made the difficult decision to hold a fully virtual conference in June 2021. We have been monitoring the rollout of the vaccine and have determined that not enough of our members will be vaccinated in time to meet face to face in Boston or have a hybrid conference. We also learned, via a survey last month to our area chairs, that many academic institutions have withdrawn travel support for this year and that members overwhelmingly support going forward with a remote conference if we cannot meet in person. Thus, virtual is the way to go!
(6) SFSFC LEADERSHIP ELECTION. At the November 2020 meeting of the Board of Directors of San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc. (SFSFC), Kevin Roche was elected President of the Board effective January 1. Says Roche, “Dave Gallaher, whose many years of hard work and service as SFSFC President are greatly appreciated, remains as a regular Director.”
Kevin Roche was Conference Chair of Worldcon 76 in San Jose.
(7) FREE READ. A Turtledove book is Arc Manor’s free ebook for January: Over The Wine-Dark Sea. A publisher’s note says “The cart will show the suggested price of $1.99. You may change it to any price including $0.00.”
The first book in the highly acclaimed ‘historicals’ by the Master of Alternate History, Harry Turtledove.
?No one recreates historical settings like Turtledove who has that special knack for being both historically accurate and highly entertaining.
?Menedemos, the young dashing sea captain, and his helper, the scholarly Sostratos, are sea-traders from the Greek island of Rhodes. Fearless sailors, they will travel any distance to make a profit or to search for rich treasures.
?While they trade in fineries such as wine and silk (and even, to the chagrin of many, peacocks), they live in dangerous times with pirates, thieves and barbarians. As if avoiding death by the hands of these miscreants isn’t enough (particularly the barbarians from an obscure town called Rome), they are also caught between the political intrigues of Alexander’s former generals.
(8) ROBERTS OBIT. Actress Tanya Roberts died January 4 reports People.
Tanya Roberts died from a urinary tract infection, her representative tells PEOPLE. She was 65.
Roberts was first erroneously reported dead on Monday morning before her publicist corrected the news. She later died Monday night.
Her genre roles included the Bond movie A View To A Kill, films The Beastmaster, and Sheena.
(9) SMITH OBIT. Horror writer (among other things) Guy N. Smith died on Christmas Eve aged 81. Here is a touching tribute by Thomas McNulty: “Remembering Guy N. Smith”.
…While GNS is best known as a “horror writer,” his oeuvre includes much more; stories for young readers, thrillers and police procedurals, and several years writing for The Countryman’s Weekly. In fact, his output of countryside living articles and books is exemplary. Of this work I include Gamekeeping and Shooting for Amateurs (1976), Midland Gun Company: A Short History (2016), and Managing and Shooting Under Ten Acres (2017) as ideal representations. Guy Smith is much more than a horror writer, and yet the spooky tales have made him famous. Guy’s solitary Western, The Pony Riders, published in 1997 by Pinnacle, is widely considered a Western classic and among Guy’s best novels.
GNS is to my way of thinking the embodiment of what a writer should be. His various interests, devotion to the countryside lifestyle, dedication to his craft, friendliness and generosity with his fans have distinguished him from all others. Of his novels, I offer five as the scariest books written, and I list them for readers to examine at their own risk: The Slime Beast (1975), The Sucking Pit (1975), Doomflight (1981) The Wood (1985) and The Island (1988)….
(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
- January 5, 1974 — Starlost came to an end. It came on the the air on the air on September 22 of the previous year and was executive produced by William Davidson, Gerry Rochon, Douglas Trumbull and Jerome M. Zeitman. It was, as you know, written in part by Harlan Ellison (as Cordwainer Bird) though there were other writers as well — George Ghent, Norman Klenman and Martin Lager. Of Canadian production, it would last but one season of sixteen episodes. Though Ellison received a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay for the original script, this is not what was filmed, nor representative of the experience science advisor Ben Bova had with the series. It is generally considered one of the worst genre series of all time.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born January 5, 1914 — George Reeves. Best known obviously for being Clark Kent and Superman in the Adventures of Superman which ran for six seasons. It was preceded by two films, Superman and the Mole Men and the now public domain Stamp Day for Superman. Reeves had one log running SFF series prior to this series, Adventures of Sir Galahad, a fifteen part serial in which he played the lead. This clip is the only English one I found of him in that role. Yes, he was just forty five when he apparently committed suicide. (Died 1959.) (CE)
- Born January 5, 1926 – Bob Abbett. Fifty covers for us, thirty others. Here is The Third “Galaxy” Reader. Here is Dolphin Boy. Here is A Fighting Man of Mars. Later known for paintings of wildlife, fishing, dogs; see A Season for Painting. (Died 2015) [JH]
- Born January 5, 1928 – Raylyn Moore. Newspaper reporter, teacher, poet, motorcyclist. Co-founded Monterey Peninsula (California) Dickens Fellowship. First woman to publish a story in Esquire. A novel and thirty short stories for us, in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, also Edges, Orbit, Shadows. (Died 2005) [JH]
- Born January 5, 1940 – Tom Digby, age 81. It seems incongruous to consider the birth or death of this consummately yet mildly strange being. Larry Niven put the best known theory in “What Can You Say About Chocolate-Covered Manhole Covers?” While TD lived in Los Angeles he had a clock that ran backwards, a machine you could set to sound rhythms you invented, a sign that said in big letters Important not ice (as you’ll see in a moment, I can’t reproduce it properly) and when you went much closer you could read text beginning It’s important that you understand this sign is not ice. Worked hard enough for LASFS to earn its Evans-Freehafer Award. Later moved to San Francisco Bay. For his songs, see here. Fan Guest of Honor at Minicon 15, MileHiCon 13, and ConFrancisco the 51st Worldcon, for which you can see his Guest of Honor book here (revised 2014). Here is his analemma page. [JH]
- Born January 5, 1940 — Jennifer Westwood. Folklorist who I’m including on the Birthday Honors List (if the Queen can have such a list, I can too) for one of her works in particular, Albion: Guide to Legendary Britain as it has a genre connection that will take some explaining. Ever hear of the band from Minnesota called Boiled in Lead? Well they took their name from a local legend in that tome about a man that was wrapped in lead and plunged in a vat of scalding oil so that he now stands forever in a circle of stones. Among the genre folk that have had a role in the band are Emma Bull, Steven Brust, Adam Stemple, Jane Yolen and Will Shetterly. (Died 2008.) (CE)
- Born January 5, 1941 – Miyazaki Hayao, age 80. (Personal name last, Japanese style.) Author, animator, director, producer, manga artist, screenwriter. Co-founded Studio Ghibli. My Neighbor Totoro, the first Princess Mononoke story, the Nausicaä in the Valley of the Winds and Kiki’s Delivery Service picture books are available in English. Academy Award for Spirited Away. Nebula for Howl’s Moving Castle. Academy Honorary Award for contributions to animation and cinema. Chesley and World Fantasy awards for life achievement. SF Hall of Fame. Person of Cultural Merit. [JH]
- Born January 5, 1943 – Awa Naoko. (Personal name last.) The Fox’s Window collects thirty of her stories in English. Twoscore more. Seven collections in Japanese. Fantasy in a folktale style; later works sometimes said to be conscious of the world after her death. Five Japanese awards. (Died 1993) [JH]
- Born January 5, 1959 — Clancy Brown, 62. I first encountered him as the voice of Lex Luthor In the DC animated universe. All of voice roles are far too extensive too list here, but I’ll single out as voicing as Savage Opress, Count Dooku’s new apprentice and Darth Maul’s brother, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Very selected live roles include Rawhide in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The Kurgan In Highlander, Sheriff Gus Gilbert in Pet Sematary Two, Captain Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, Sgt. Charles Zim In Starship Troopers and, one of my best loved weird series, the truly strange Brother Justin Crowe in Carnivàle (CE)
- Born January 5, 1966 — Tananarive Due, 55. I’m particularly fond of her short fiction which you can find in her BFA winning Ghost Summer collection which also won the Carl Brandon Kindred Award. The Good House and The Between are novels are worth reading for having strong African-American characters. (CE)
- Born January 5, 1975 — Bradley Cooper, 46. He’d be here just for voicing Rocket Raccoon in the MCU. In fact he is here just for that role. Mind you he’ll have voiced him five time by that Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 3 comes out, so I’d say he’s got him spot perfect. (CE)
- Born January 5, 1978 — Seanan McGuire, 43. Ahhhh, one of my favorite writers. I just finished re-listening to her Sparrow Hill Road storieswhich was are excellent and earlier I’d read her InCryptid series, both of her Indexing books which are beyond amazing and, God what else?, the Wayward Children series which I’ve mixed feelings about. (CE)
- Born January 5, 1989 – Heather Fawcett, age 32. Four novels; The Language of Ghosts just published. “Before becoming a writer I worked … as an archaeologist, a technical writer, and a backstage assistant for a Shakespearean theatre [she’s Canadian] company…. I have a Master’s degree in English Literature and briefly considered becoming a professor, before I realized it involved more than reading books, drinking excessive amounts of tea, and wearing colourful elbow patches.” [JH]
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Versions of this have been floating around for over six months, I saw it for the first time today.
(13) BEYOND CLAY. Available at BBC Sounds, In The Studio’s episode“The Big Fix Up: A new, digital venture for Wallace and Gromit”
Wallace and Gromit – the eccentric inventor and his loyal dog – are one of Britain’s best-loved comedy duos. Created in plasticine clay by Nick Park of Aardman Animations, their stop motion adventures have won three Academy Awards and a BAFTA.
Now, Wallace and his faithful hound are heading into exciting new territory. The pair’s new business venture, Spick & Spanners, needs employees to help them ‘Fix Up’ the British city of Bristol. This interactive story, which takes place on smart phones and uses augmented and mixed reality, is a daring departure from their traditional claymation films. For the first time ever, fans can step directly into the world of Wallace and Gromit.
In The Studio goes behind-the-scenes of the production’s final stage, as the technical team grapple with bugs and the directors shoot final takes with their first ever real human character.
Eliza Lomas talks to Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park about his own childhood dreams of being an inventor, and he opens up his sketchbooks to reveal some very recent, very silly Wallace and Gromit doodles.
(14) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter watched tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! where the contestants whiffed on a pop culture landmark. (Porter adds this was one of the last episodes presided over by Alex Trebeck – three more to come.)
Category: Possession is 9/10
Answer: There is no Sigourney Weaver, only Zuul, & what a lovely singing voice Zuul must have in this 1984 movie.
Wrong question: What is Aliens?
No one got, What is Ghostbusters?
Incidentally, Ryan Reynolds appeared virtually on January 4’s Jeopardy!‘ for a clue related to his movie Free Guy, which will feature Alex Trebek’s last film cameo: “Ryan Reynolds says working with Alex Trebek ‘one last time’ for Jeopardy! clue was ‘heartbreaking’”.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Matrix — Never-Before-Seen Cold Open”. A Peacock extra on YouTube.
Watch an exclusive, never-before-seen cold open from The Office’s ninth season to celebrate The Office US coming to Peacock! In loving memory of Hugh Dane, Hank the security guard.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Olav Rokne, Michael J. Walsh, Rob Thornton, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]