(1) HUGO VOTING REQUIREMENT. You can nominate and vote in the 2021 Hugo Awards if you hold a supporting or attending membership in DisCon III by December 31st, 2020. Membership information is here.
(2) AVALANCHE AT THE MOUSE HOUSE. During Disney’s massive investor day presentation on Thursday, innumerable new projects were unveiled (see The Hollywood Reporter’s “Disney+ Plans 10 ‘Star Wars’ and 10 Marvel Series Over Next Few Years” for a bunch of them.)
Shaun Lyon let me run this summary of his notes:
This is a huge list of Star Wars stuff that’s just been announced this afternoon, all coming from Lucasfilm for both Disney films & Disney+:
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, the next film, set for release Christmas 2023, and directed by Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman); this is probably set during the Rebellion (Jenkins filmed a teaser video about wanting to make the greatest “fighter pilot film” of all time)
- Untitled Star Wars film reportedly due in sometime around 2025, directed by Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit director & Mandalorian VO actor)
- Andor, the live action series with Diego Luna and Alan Tudyk playing Cassian Andor & K2SO from Rogue One, set before that film; this is filming now and will be the next live action property to be released, sometime in early 2022 after the next season of Mandalorian (the cast features Stellan Skarsgard, Adria Arjona, Fiona Shaw, Denise Gough, Kyle Soller, and Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma; showrunner is Mandalorian director Deborah Chow)
- Obi Wan Kenobi, a live action miniseries with Ewan MacGregor (Kenobi) and Hayden Christensen (Vader), set ten years after Revenge of the Sith; this starts filming in the first quarter of 2021. And yes, Obi Wan faced off against Vader again between Sith & A New Hope!
- Ahsoka, a live action spinoff miniseries featuring Ahsoka Tano from The Clone Wars & Rebels (and played by Rosario Dawson in The Mandalorian); this could potentially be the continuation of the story from the end of Rebels, though not confirmed
- Rangers of the New Republic, a live action series from Jon Favreau & Dave Filoni, set during the same period as The Mandalorian
- The Acolyte, a live action series set during the ‘high Republic’ era (the upcoming Star Wars tie-in era, a thousand years before the films) created by Russian Doll co-creator Leslye Headland
- Lando, a live action miniseries created by Dear White People’s Justin Simien; was announced without a lead actor, but ABC’s Good Morning America on 12/11 stated that Donald Glover was reprising his role as Lando Calrissian
- The Bad Batch, the previously announced Clone Wars animated spinoff series, currently in production, set after that show with some of the clone troopers from that show who “take on daring mercenary missions as they struggle to stay afloat and find new purpose”
- Star Wars Visions, an anime-style anthology miniseries with “10 fantastic visions from several of the leading Japanese anime studios”
- A Droid Story, an animated film: this “epic journey will introduce us to a new hero, guided by legendary duo R2-D2 and C-3PO”
- Plus the long-teased “Willow” series and another “Indiana Jones” movie.
None of that includes the other properties they announced including all the Marvel stuff and the “Alien” spinoff TV series.
The Marvel Studios segment had its own long list which you can read at Yahoo! – “Marvel drops bombshell announcement of Fantastic Four movie, War Machine and Nick Fury series, and more”.
The price of Disney+ will be going up – the subscriber response so exceeded predictions they figure the traffic will bear a bit more.
Disney also announced that the service’s monthly fee in the US will be going up by $1 in March to $7.99. Strong demand for Disney+ led to the company to boost its long-term subscriber estimates.
(3) LOOK AT LOKI. While we’re on the subject, Disney + dropped a trailer for their new series Loki.
(4) VIEWING WANDA. And there’s a new trailer for Marvel Studios’ WandaVision which starts streaming January 15 on Disney +.
(5) TRUE GRIT. Denis Villeneuve has a statement in Variety, “Dune Director Denis Villeneuve Blasts Warner Bros. Streaming Decision” where he bashed AT&T for its decision to show Warner movies next year in theatres and HBO Max simultaneously.
I learned in the news that Warner Bros. has decided to release “Dune” on HBO Max at the same time as our theatrical release, using prominent images from our movie to promote their streaming service. With this decision AT&T has hijacked one of the most respectable and important studios in film history. There is absolutely no love for cinema, nor for the audience here. It is all about the survival of a telecom mammoth, one that is currently bearing an astronomical debt of more than $150 billion. Therefore, even though “Dune” is about cinema and audiences, AT&T is about its own survival on Wall Street. With HBO Max’s launch a failure thus far, AT&T decided to sacrifice Warner Bros.’ entire 2021 slate in a desperate attempt to grab the audience’s attention.
…“Dune” is by far the best movie I’ve ever made. My team and I devoted more than three years of our lives to make it a unique big screen experience. Our movie’s image and sound were meticulously designed to be seen in theaters.
I’m speaking on my own behalf, though I stand in solidarity with the sixteen other filmmakers who now face the same fate. Please know I am with you and that together we are strong. The artists are the ones who create movies and series.
I strongly believe the future of cinema will be on the big screen, no matter what any Wall Street dilettante says. Since the dawn of time, humans have deeply needed communal storytelling experiences. Cinema on the big screen is more than a business, it is an art form that brings people together, celebrating humanity, enhancing our empathy for one another — it’s one of the very last artistic, in-person collective experiences we share as human beings.
Once the pandemic is over, theaters will be filled again with film lovers.
That is my strong belief. Not because the movie industry needs it, but because we humans need cinema, as a collective experience….
(6) GHASTLY OVERSIGHT? Alexander Larman, in “A warning to the curious” on The Critic, explains why there is not going to be an adaptation of an M.R. James story and gives background on James and his work. A link reveals a crowdfunded project to publish a collection of James’s letters.
…Like many great writers of the supernatural, James wrote according to strict rules. He suggested that his technique was a relatively simple one, saying in 1924 that, “Two ingredients most valuable in the concocting of a ghost story are, to me, the atmosphere and the nicely managed crescendo”, and that the reader should be “introduced to the actors in a placid way; let us see them going about their ordinary business, undisturbed by forebodings, pleased with their surroundings; and into this calm environment let the ominous thing put out its head, unobtrusively at first, and then more insistently, until it holds the stage.”
The spirits were invariably vengeful and terrifying ones (“amiable and helpful apparitions are all very well in fairy tales or in local legends, but I have no use for them in a fictitious ghost story”).
…It is hoped that a crowd-funded collection of James’s letters, Casting the Runes, reaches its target soon and that it will offer greater insight into the strange and brilliant man who wrote some of the most chilling ghost stories in the English language.
(7) PAY THE ARTIST. At Literary Hub, William Deresiewicz contends “We Need to Treat Artists as Workers, Not Decorations” – a statelier approach to what Harlan Ellison ranted about in “Pay the Writer”.
Art and money: the great taboo. Art, we’ve been taught to believe, has nothing to do with money, must have nothing to do with money, is defiled by contact with money, is degraded by the very thought of money.
Those ideas, articles of faith today, are actually of relatively recent birth. In the Renaissance, when artists were still regarded as artisans, no one thought twice about exchanging art for cash. It was only in modernity that the notion arose that art and commerce were mutually exclusive.
As traditional beliefs broke down across the 18th and 19th centuries, art inherited the role of faith, becoming a kind of secular creed for the progressive classes. Like religion before it, art was now regarded as superior to worldly things, and you cannot serve both God and mammon.
As with art, so with artists, the new priests and prophets. It was modernity that gave us the bohemian, the starving artist, and the solitary genius, images respectively of blissful unconventionality, monkish devotion, and spiritual election. Artistic poverty was seen as glamorous, an outward sign of inner purity.
To these ideas, the 20th century added an overtly political and specifically anti-capitalist dimension. Art did not just stand outside the market; it was meant to oppose it: to join, if not to lead, the social revolution, which first of all would be a revolution of consciousness. To seek acceptance in the market was to be “co-opted”; to chase material rewards, to be a “sellout.”
Such ideas are as fervently held among laypeople as they are among artists—if anything, more so. We don’t want the artists we love to think about money, and we don’t want to think about them thinking about it.
…The number of the people I interviewed told me about having suffered, early on, because they had swallowed the myths about starving artists who never think about money and would rather die than compromise their vision for the suits. And because writers and other artists do create for non-material reasons, I was told by Mark Coker, the founder of the e-book distribution platform Smashwords, “these people are ripe for being exploited.”
That exploitation can take many forms: from outright theft, to self-sabotage, to the monetization of digital content without appropriate compensation, to the underpayment by arts organizations, including nonprofits, of the artists who work for them. But at its root is the perception that artists shouldn’t ask for money in the first place—that, as another of my subjects put it, “art should just be art.”
(8) THREE DAYS AGO’S DAY
December 8 — PRETEND TO BE A TIME TRAVELER DAY. The National Day Calendar offers these suggestions:
HOW TO OBSERVE #PretendToBeATimeTravelerDay
Act like a time traveler. Choose your time period and decide whether you are traveling to the past or the future. Be overly shocked when someone says, “I’d kill for a double mocha latte right now,” or “That car is the bomb.” Misuse technology. When someone offers you earbuds to listen to a new song, sniff them to see if they smell good.
Do you need inspiration for your time traveling antics? We have 9 Books to Unleash the Time Traveler in You. Some of them are mentioned above, but this list will give you some insight to the stories and help you take the deep dive into the world time traveling for the true enthusiast.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 11, 1929 — On this date in 1929, American fandom has its beginnings in New York City with the first meeting of the Scienceers who were the first local sf club in the United States. (Science Correspondence Club in Montgomery, Alabama is claimed by others as starting earlier.) It is worth noting that the first president of that Club was Warren Fitzgerald who was Black, a rarity in the early days of fandom, and they met at his apartment in Harlem. The group formed as a result of their correspondence in Science Wonder Stories which was edited by Hugo Gernsback. Timebinders has a history of that Club here as it appeared in Joe Christoff’s Sphere fanzine. “History of the Scienceers, the First New York City Science Fiction Club, 1929 – by Allen Glasser”.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born December 11, 1803 – Hector Berlioz. Graduated from medical school but never practiced; instead famed as a composer (and, during his life, conductor); also substantial author of music criticism, theory, memoirs. Prix de Rome. Legion of Honor. Here for the Symphonie fantastique, Damnation de Faust, Le Troyens. Star-rated Wikipedia entry. Website. (Died 1869) [JH]
- Born December 11, 1904 – Marge. Although M.H. Buell created Little Lulu, made LL such a national figure that LL was adopted as the Kleenex mascot, and retained artistic control during M’s life, in fairness to John Stanley the fantasy elements of LL, like Witch Hazel and Sammi the Martian, are JS’ work. Here is M’s cover for King Kojo. Here is The Wizard of Way-Up. (Died 1993) [JH]
- Born December 11, 1921 – Bill Terry. A dozen covers for Imagination, three hundred interiors for Imagination and Imaginative Tales. Here is the Jan 52 Imagination. Here is the Aug 54. Here is the Aug 55. Here is an interior for “The Voyage of Vanishing Men”. Here is an interior for “The War of Nerves”. (Died 1992) [JH]
- Born December 11, 1922 — Maila Nurmi. A Finnish-American actress and television personality who was the campy Fifties title character on Vampira. She hosted her own series, The Vampira Show for a year on KABC-TV and later in Vampira Returns. She’d show up in Plan 9 from Outer Space, and in The Magic Sword as The Hag / Sorceress. She played Vampira once more in the Horror Kung-Fu Theatre series. (Died 2008.) (CE)
- Born December 11, 1926 — Dick Tufeld. His best known role, or at least best recognized, Is as the voice of the Robot on Lost in Space, a role he reprises for the feature film. The first words heard on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea are spoken by him: “This is the Seaview, the most extraordinary submarine in all the seven seas.” He’s been the opening announcer on Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Spider-Woman, Thundarr the Barbarian, Fantastic Four and the Time Tunnel. (Died 2012.) (CE)
- Born December 11, 1940 – Fred Patten. This amazing astounding fan had an issue of his zine ¡Rábanos Radiactivos! in every distribution (weekly!) of APA-L from its beginning to APA-L 2280 – more than forty years. Developing an interest in animé he co-founded the Cartoon Fantasy Organization; he became a scholar of anthropomorphic graphic art. He edited his local club’s fanzine Shangri L’Affaires when it was a Hugo finalist; chaired Loscon XIV and Westercon 27; was Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 9 and Loscon 33 (some use Roman numerals, some don’t). My appreciation is here. (Died 2018) [JH]
- Born December 11, 1957 — William Joyce, 62. Author of the YA series Guardians of Childhood which is currently at twelve books and growing. Now I’ve no interest in reading them but Joyce and Guillermo del Toro turned them into in a rather splendid Rise of the Guardians film which I enjoyed quite a bit. The antagonist in it reminds me somewhat of a villain later on In Willingham’s Fables series called Mr. Dark. Michael Toman in an email says that “I’ve been watching for his books since reading Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo back in 1988.” (CE)
- Born December 11, 1959 — M. Rickert, 61. Short story writer par excellence. She’s got three collections to date, Map of Dreams, Holiday and You Have Never Been Here. I’ve not read her novel The Memory Garden, and would like your opinions on it. She has won two World Fantasy Awards, one for her short story, “Journey Into the Kingdom”, and one for her short story collection, “Map of Dreams”. The Little Witch is the only work available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)
- Born December 11, 1962 — Ben Browder, 58. Actor of course best known for his roles as John Crichton in Farscape and Cameron Mitchell in Stargate SG-1. One of my favorite roles by him was his voicing of Bartholomew Aloysius “Bat” Lash in Justice League Unlimited called “The Once and Future Thing, Part 1”. He’d have an appearance in the Eleventh Doctor story, “A Town Called Mercy,” a Weird Western of sorts. (CE)
- Born December 11, 1965 — Sherrilyn Kenyon, 55. Best for her Dark Hunter series which runs to around thirty volumes now. I confess I’ve not read any, so I’m curious as to how they are. Opinions? (Of course you do. Silly me. How could you not have them.) She’s got The League series as well which appears to be paranormal romance, and a Lords of Avalon series too under the pen name of Kinley MacGregor. (CE)
- Born December 11, 1971 – Laini Taylor, age 49. Seven novels, five shorter stories. Printz Honor, Bradshaw Award. I heard she’d read Leviathan, but it proved not to be Hobbes’, it was Scott Westerfeld’s, so we don’t have that in common after all. Days of Blood and Starlight was a NY Times Best-Seller. [JH]
- Born December 11, 1981 – Natasha Larry, age 39. Three novels, two shorter stories. Of herself she says “She has an M.A. in American History, making her a professional cynic…. curses too much…. DC comics fangirl, or fanatic.” [JH]
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Sally Forth has a friend who’s having no luck looking for a portal.
(12) SPOT FINDS A NEW HOME. “Hyundai takes control of Boston Dynamics in $1.1B deal” – The Verge has the story.
Hyundai is officially purchasing a controlling stake in robot maker Boston Dynamics from SoftBank in a deal that values the company at $1.1 billion, the company announced today. The deal has been in the works for a while, according to recent a report from Bloomberg, and marks a major step into consumer robotics for Hyundai. Hyundai is taking approximately an 80 percent stake in the company while its previous owner, Softbank, will retain around 20 percent through an affiliate.
… Boston Dynamics started as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The company has created robots using DARPA funding, like BigDog, but is best known for the viral fame its robots have found online. Its two main stars have been Atlas, a humanoid bipedal robot that can run and do backflips, and Spot, a smaller quadrupedal “dog” that’s been tested in a variety of scenarios, from sheep herding to assisting health care workers during the pandemic.
(13) BATWOMAN CONTINUES. The CW dropped a trailer for Batwoman season 2. Premieres Sunday, January 17.
(14) FIVE BOOKS. Elle collected “Alice Hoffman’s Book Recommendations”. Hoffman’s latest book is Magic Lessons, the prequel to Practical Magic.
…The book that…
…shaped my worldview:
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. Every 12- or 13-year-old should read it. It’s magic.
…fills me with hope:
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. If you think you know what fate has in store for you, read this book.
(15) DEAR SANTA. Helen Thomas dispenses “Tips and Tricks When Writing to St. Nick” illustrated by plenty of classic clippings from the Library of Congress.
How do you get what you want for Christmas? Write a letter to Santa, of course! Combing through “Dear Santa” letters published in historical newspapers, you can glean tips and tricks on how to write a letter of your own.
A close examination of hundreds of “Dear Santa” letters suggests there are several approaches to writing Jolly Old St. Nick:
(16) EVERYBODY NEDS A HOBBY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] A video on YouTube called “Meet The Record Breakers: Rob Hull — Owner of the Largest Collection of Daleks” from the 2012 edition of the Guinness Book Of World Records, is about someone who is officially certified as owning more Daleks than anyone else – 571. There was a reference to this guy in the Financial Times and, as you say, it was news to me!
(17) BE THE MUSIC OF THE SEASON. Jingle Jangle is a holiday-themed fantasy on Netflix. You’re invited to sing along with the cast in this video.
Welcome to the Jingle Jangle Christmas Journey Global Sing Along. The cast, special guests, and fans alike to come together for this truly magical event. Get ready to hear some of your favorite songs like you have never heard them before featuring the stars of the film, some of the best singers on Broadway, choir singers from across the country, Tik Tok stars, and most importantly…YOU!
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Brian Z., Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]