Remembering My Mom, Carol Vertlieb, on the Anniversary of Her Passing

Carol, Erwin, Steve and Charles Vertlieb

By Steve Vertlieb: It was at approximately 3:30 in the morning, on February 1, 2012, that my bedroom telephone rang. It was the nursing home, The Abramson Center For Jewish Life, calling to tell me that my beloved mom Carol Vertlieb has passed away. She was one hundred years old. Had she lived just another four months, she would have turned one hundred and one. That morning’s early telephone call had not been unexpected. They had told me hours earlier that she wasn’t expect to last the night. Still, when the telephone rang, I began crying and gasping for breath … wanting to hold on just a moment longer … before receiving the inevitable news.

I’d spent the afternoon and evening with her, sitting by her bedside and holding her hand. She’d drifted in and out of a coma, and I continually told her that I loved her. She was a fighter. She so wanted to reach one hundred years. On June 2, 2011, my little brother Erwin, and an assortment of remaining nieces and nephews, joined us at The Springhouse Tavern to celebrate her milestone. She was the queen of the ball, alive … alert … enthusiastic, and heartily entertaining her coterie of well wishers and admirers.

Steve, Erwin and Carol Vertlieb

She’d fought depression and grief when my father, Charles Vertlieb, died of a sudden heart attack in July 1987, whilst she was away handling their finances at the bank. She returned home only to find a vacant apartment. They told her that “Charley was gone.” She didn’t understand what they were telling her, and then the realization hit her. He had done everything for her, and now he was gone. After half a century with her cherished husband and life mate, she was alone.

With courage and the will to go on, she picked herself up by her boot straps and began to learn everything financially related that she need to know in order to continue living and surviving as a strong single woman. She moved into an assisted living facility, and remained fiercely independent. My mom was shy and deeply sensitive. She always sensed when any of the other widows had attitudes of superiority, and acted like they were somehow better than her. I comforted her during numerous such moments when she lowered her gaze and began to sob, believing that somehow she wasn’t good enough.

I told her “Mommy, you’re better than they are. Look at what you’ve accomplished on your own.” She had a deeply seeded inferiority complex, inherited from her own immigrant mother, never feeling that she was good enough … and yet, she had more heart and soul than I any woman that I’ve ever known. Her father was a Cantor, traveling throughout the United States and Canada to earn a living wherever he could. Times were difficult, and her family struggled to keep their heads above water.

It was during one such sojourn in Canada that she was born.

Mom in schul.

She loved to laugh, and was telling jokes right up until the end. She felt eternally youthful, and always wanted to be around younger people. They adored her, and marveled at her strength and enthusiasm. While in the nursing home, she’d complain to me that her neighbors seemed lethargic and old. I said “Mom, you’re nearly one hundred years of age. You’re older than many of your friends here.” “Yes,” she said, “but I want to live.” And live, she did.

Slipping in and out of consciousness on her final day of life, I sat by her bedside and faithfully held onto her hand. She awoke briefly, and turned her sweet head toward me. Her eyes brightened, and she smiled at me one last time. She said “I love you, Son.” I said “I love you too, Mommy.” Those were the last words we ever spoke to one another. She left us several hours later. As I remember her this morning, I think of her with deep love, respect, and everlasting admiration. She’s cooking for my dad now in Heaven and, on Fridays, she’s likely lighting the Sabbath candles.

I miss you, Mommy … and I love you.

Your loving son,

Steve

The First Time

By Steve Vertlieb: It has been stated, and rather wisely, I think, that when you experience it for “the first time,” it remains a life defining interlude that one takes with them forever. No matter its quality or length, or even the frequency with which it did or didn’t re-occur, it shall ever be the start of a coming-of-age journey that, for better or for worse, began a new, fondly remembered chapter that somehow altered the very course of your life. For me, that moment occurred in 1981 when I was just thirty-five years old, and I was presented with my first writing award. Wait … What did YOU think that I was talking about??????

Anyway, I traveled to Baltimore, Maryland where my then publisher and friend, George Stover, accompanied me to a genre related convention, and I was presented with a trophy for “Best Writer of the Year” by the “Maryland Association of Fan Clubs” for my provocative, quasi-Freudian essay in Cinemacabre Magazine regarding the symbolism and meaning behind Ridley Scott’s horror masterpiece, Alien.

As I recall, a vast variety of categories and recipients populated the ceremony, including “Best Actor” in a televised daytime drama (“Soap Opera”), for which the grateful thespian offered a deeply emotional acceptance speech during which he profusely volunteered his gratitude for most of his early theatrical opportunities to virtually everyone in the dinner ballroom.

Consequently, not wishing to be outdone by this consummate CBS Television professional, I devised a similarly tear stained speech in which I shared my own heartfelt gratitude for this singular honor, and said “From the bottom of my heart, I just want to say that … this was the worst chicken dinner that I’ve ever had in my life.”

The ballroom erupted into laughter, but I can still remember the angry glares coming from the kitchen staff as I exited the stage, and returned to my table. Here, then, is that very special first literary award that I ever received as “Best Writer of the Year, 1981,” from the “M.A.F.C.”

Remembering My Friend, Bill Longen (1947-2023)

By Steve Vertlieb: It was in September, 1965, when I first “officially” entered the world of film and science fiction fandom.  My brother, Erwin, and I had received an invitation from Forrest J Ackerman (Forry or 4e) to attend the very first “Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine Convention,” being held at Loew’s Midtown Manhattan Motor Inn in the heart of New York City.  It was at that convention that this eager nineteen-year-old fan met Forry, along with other youthful movie fanatics such as Allan Asherman (author of The Star Trek Compendium), famed collector Wes Shank, and actor George Stover (Editor of Cinemacabre, and Black Oracle magazines, as well as the subject of a recent documentary film, “No Stopping The Stover.”).  Now, Wes working as a film editor at the local Philadelphia CBS Television affiliate, WCAU TV and, through Wes, I was introduced to yet another film editor and science fiction film fan by the name of Bill Longen.  Bill and I began our friendship somewhere around 1966 when I was a mere lad of twenty years.  In the decades that followed, Bill and I would often see one another, either at his home in Clifton Heights, PA, where he lived with his mother or, perhaps, at Wes’s home theater where a variety friends, and science fiction aficionados would congregate for an evening, laugh, and talk about their favorite films.  I would often chat with Bill on the telephone and, from time to time, he would visit my home.  I was working in television, as well, in the capacities of a film editor, cameraman, and sometimes “announcer” at our local Taft Broadcasting affiliate, WTAF TV 29, and so we were able to share many war stories.

Steve, Forry and Erwin

Some years later Bill decided to move to San Francisco where he worked for quite some time as a senior film editor at the local CBS television station in the Bay area, but we always managed to remain in touch, either by mail or on long winded telephone conversations. Television was changing rapidly, however, and Bill decided to leave the industry for newer, greener pastures. Wishing to stay in his beloved San Francisco, Bill eventually left the TV station, and found work as the manager of the world renowned Castro Theater, a one-time elaborate movie palace that had now become a haven for classic film lovers with cult film festivals and art house screenings.

In the Fall of 2007, I received a telephone call from Bill.  He was thinking about scheduling a major retrospective of classic films featuring the music of three time Oscar-winning composer Miklos Rozsa, and asked if I’d be interested in programming the festival.  Needless to say, I agreed quite enthusiastically, and chose the seventeen films that were to be included in the nine day event.  I also wrote the liner notes for the printed program, describing in some detail the backgrounds, stories, and technical information surrounding each film.

Now, earlier in the year, I had attended a unique, celebratory, one hundredth birthday event honoring Dr. Rozsa at The Hungarian Embassy in Washington, D.C.  I’d heard that the composer’s daughter, Juliet, was scheduled to appear, along with her daughters, and famed concert cellist Janos Starker who was an old friend of Miklos Rozsa.  I had been corresponding with the composer for many years, and had spent some quality time in his company, but I had never met his daughter.  Having written profusely about the composer’s career in a variety of publications for many years, I found myself introduced to the audience by the then Hungarian Ambassador to The United States, Dr. Ferenc Somogyi, and invited, along with Juliet Rozsa and her family, to the “royal residence,” following the ceremonies for a state dinner.

I had remained in touch with the Ambassador and so, when Bill asked me to put together a Rozsa festival, write the program notes, and host the event, I invited Juliet and her daughters to attend, and asked Dr. Somogyi if he would consider writing a special Embassy Proclamation, honoring the late Hungarian composer.  He told me that he would be quite pleased and delighted to do so, and that I might present it to Juliet on the stage of the Castro Theater.  Juliet and her daughters drove to San Francisco from Los Angeles, while Juliet joined me on stage for a thirty minute in-person interview, discussing her famous father’s career.  After our interview a 35 millimeter print of Ben Hur was run for an appreciative audience of some seven hundred movie goers on the giant Castro screen.

I arranged for The Mayor of San Francisco to offer a written tribute to Rozsa, which I read from the stage, as well.  When Ray Bradbury got wind of the tribute, he asked if he might contribute to the festivities with his own remembrance.  He had written the Orson Welles’ narration for MGM’s production of King of Kings, which Rozsa had also scored, and had sat in on some of the recording sessions in Los Angeles with Rozsa conducting.  The festival was covered by the local press, and was exceptionally well received.

After some years of ownership changes at The Castro, Bill moved on yet again, and found himself managing a prestigious chain of movie theaters.  He would visit me at my apartment from time to time, whenever he happened to find himself in Philadelphia once more.  We would continue to exchange birthday and Christmas cards … until Bill grew ill with Cancer.  I spoke with him at length by telephone in December, and he spoke hopefully of a surgery he’d agreed to that might, at last, render him cancer-free.  I received a message on Facebook the other day from another old mutual pal, David Gregory Lee, who let me know that Bill had finally succumbed to his illness, and passed away on January 2nd, 2023.  I knew Bill for some fifty-six years.  He was bright, funny, knowledgeable, and charming.  He was a good and loyal friend.  I’ll miss him terribly.

Review: A Man Called Otto

By Steve Vertlieb: Saw A Man Called Otto last evening with Shelly. We laughed. We cried. We re-discovered the joys, meaning, and value of true humanity. Our world is suffering the dubious rewards of bitterness, suspicion, anger, and bigotry, and we are the worse for it. I was brought up in a time of relative innocence and the perception, at least, of goodness and integrity during the 1950’s when the value of a single human life seemed respected, and often revered … if only in my own youthful perspective.

Otto, as played by Tom Hanks, is a man consumed by bitterness, anger, and suspicion of his neighbors, finding annoyance in their slightest imperfection. His utter desolation, born of personal loneliness and tragedy, govern and dictate his reactions to human frailty … until he is urged into a corner brimming with genuine selflessness and affection. His transformation, not unlike that of Alistair Sim as Scrooge in the classic 1951 film version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” is both inspiring and profoundly moving.

A Man Called Otto is the perfect screen vehicle for this sweetly eloquent actor. Just as his portrayal of Mister Rogers lit the screen with love, dignity, and respect for one another, his understanding of the frightening sadness consuming this otherwise gentle soul is both heartfelt and consummate. His deeply singular redemption, if you will, is as inspiring and beautiful as the aforementioned Alistair Sim in Scrooge, or Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey in Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life.

Joining Tom Hanks in his quietly sensitive, if grumpy, performance in the title role is a delightful, utterly joyous co-starring role by Mariana Treviño as “Marisol,” his deceptively quirky Mexican neighbor whose cherished humor and wisdom ultimately rescue his painfully expiring soul.

Truman Hanks, the son of the actor, is similarly outstanding as young “Otto,” a man torn apart by his own simplicity, and both emotional and physical awkwardness … until he meets the love of his life, as played sweetly by Rachel Keller as Sonya.

A Man Called Otto is the happiest, most genuinely heartwarming film that I’ve seen since Love Actually, overflowing with joy, humility, frailty, and a gentle sense of reflection and humanity sorely needed in these deeply troubled times of divisiveness, shattering our once cherished principles of tolerance, compassion, and respect for one another.

Directed by Marc Forster, with a screenplay by David Magee, based upon the novel and 2015 Swedish film A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Otto is a sentimental journey to simpler times, and the overwhelmingly aching loss of civility and shared serenity. It is, in its own quiet way, a loving, tenderly affectionate, nearly spiritual prescription for simple kindness and humanity.

Pixel Scroll 1/12/23 Sorry, Wrong Prime Number

(1) HELP LAIRD BARRON. A GoFundMe was started yesterday for “Laird Barron: hospital costs, medication costs”. It has raised $107,285 of the $200,000 goal in 24 hours.

Mike Davis here: Laird is a private person and I’m trying to convey just how serious this is without revealing too much personal information. Make no mistake: This is very serious, and potentially life threatening. That said: He needs a bronchoscopy. He has a mass on his lung. His blood sugar numbers are dangerously high. He will need medications as well. These are just a few of the things that will need to be paid for.

We are raising funds for Laird for three reasons:

  • Medical bills (and they will be very high, make no mistake).
  • Health Insurance (his friends are looking into getting him health insurance, if possible)
  • Lost income (Laird has been on a sickbed since September or so. That’s a long time to be unable to work.)

Laird has been very supportive of so many in the horror community. It’s our turn to give back.

(2) NO COMPOUND INTEREST. In Radio Times, “Russell T Davies debunks Doctor Who £10 million budget rumours”.

…Following reports that the BBC sci-fi will now receive a monumental budget of £10 million per episode, Davies has debunked the rumours.

Asked about the circulating reports, the showrunner explained to Doctor Who Magazine: “That has been exaggerated. If that was the budget, I’d be speaking to you from my base on the Moon.”…

… Executive producer Jane Tranter added: “It’s a really good budget for us. But we are not Game of Thrones. Or The Rings of Power.”

(3) SENDING THE TARDIS OVER THE RAINBOW. When it comes to Doctor Who, “Colourising classic episodes isn’t sacrilege” opines Radio Times’ Steve O’Brien.

…Those black-and-white Doctor Who stories that we have now are already far from the versions that were first put out on VHS in the 1990s. Now, software can restore the original video look to these smudgy old tele-recordings.

With our televisions getting bigger and the resolution becoming sharper, these vintage episodes from the ’60s are beginning to look ever more anachronistic, like listening to a scratchy Noel Coward 78 next to Kendrick Lamar’s latest. It’s difficult to find any black-and-white movie or TV show on Netflix and even BritBox seems wary. While it welcomes plenty of antique TV, it has precious few non-colour series in its vast archive.

Not that colourising old black-and-white Doctor Who is entirely new. Some Jon Pertwee episodes, first broadcast in colour, for years existed only as black and white tele-recordings (the original colour tapes having been junked). Until 2013, the only copy of The Mind Of Evil that survived was in black-and-white, until it was discovered that it was possible to recover the original colour by decoding chroma dot signals within the picture. Only when it was being readied for DVD release was it discovered that episode one didn’t have any chroma dot information, which meant it had to be colourised from scratch….

(4) SAVING THE MOVIES. The New York Times wondered “Why Do Some Films Get Restored and Others Languish? A MoMA Series Holds Clues.”

A frothy musical comedy from Weimar Germany, starring an actress whose unexpected death at 31 may have been a Gestapo murder. The first known Irish feature to be directed by a woman. An American drama from 1939 distributed to largely Black audiences, starring Louise Beavers as the progressive warden of a reform school.

All these films might have disappeared forever, at least in their complete forms. But all are showing beginning Thursday in To Save and Project, the Museum of Modern Art’s annual series highlighting recent preservation work. Some titles, like the opening-night selection, “The Cat and the Canary,” a popular silent from 1927, were preserved by MoMA itself. Others have been flown in from archives around the globe. ‌

Decisions about which films become candidates for preservation — or even what preservation means for any given movie — are rarely clear-cut. They depend on a combination of commercial interests, historical judgments, economic considerations and the availability and condition of film materials….

(5) WHO’LL SAVE FAT JACK’S? “Fat Jack’s, Philadelphia’s first and oldest comic book shop, raising money to fight closure” – the Philadelphia Inquirer has the latest, including news of a GoFundMe appeal.

…Years of losing business to online sellers and the rise of digital comics pushed many comic stores to close down. Fat Jack’s remained operating, as community members raised money to help them out of a 2019 economic downturn. But, right as stability seem to be in sight, the pandemic sent them into a six-month shutdown. Being an in-person store, Fat Jack’s saw sales plummet.

“We’re in a terrible situation and we desperately need your help,” wrote Fat Jack’s manager, Eric Partridge, on the store’s official GoFundMe. According to Partridge, who has been managing the store for 28 years, most Center City clientele had settled into remote work and were no longer making their way into Philly — a reality that, per a 2022 Center City District report, the city continues to struggle with. Only 57% of foot traffic is back, compared to 2019 levels.

“We used to have about 222 to 250 people a week, but now we are down to about 180,” said store owner Mike Ferraro. Fat Jack’s subscription program has also been affected. Working from home meant that readers had to cancel their membership due to being unable to pick up their comics….

(6) FANHISTORY ZOOM AVAILABLE. Fanac.org has added a two-part Zoom panel about Pittsburgh fandom to its YouTube channel.

Pittsburgh in the late 60s/70s saw an explosion of fannish activity, with the founding of the Western Pennsylvania SF Association (WPSFA), the creation of PghLANGE and the publication of many fanzines, including Granfalloon (Linda Bushyager and Suzanne Tompkins). What made Pittsburgh special?…This group of panelists can certainly tell us – they’re the Founding Mothers of WPSFA and PghLANGE.  This conversation among friends truly conveys what it was like to be young, female, and the center of fannish creativity in 1970s Pittsburgh. It’s history through facts and anecdotes, from how the organizers of the 1960 Worldcon felt about these new kids, to the Breezewood Curse and where the name PgHLANGE came from. You’ll learn where and why Harlan Ellison whispered “Save me” to Ginjer, the contents of the first PgHLANGE art show, who Mary Esther is, and how Bob Silverberg came to welcome the Founding Mothers to Pittsburgh. It’s great fun, and the convention stories of far too many people sharing far too little sleeping space may remind you of your early convention experiences.

 In part 2 of this session, we continue the conversation by the Founding Mothers of WPSFA and PghLANGE (with a few friends!), and continue the focus on fans, professionals and conventions of the 70s…

There are some great stories about Harlan Ellison, and Robert Silverberg. Octavia Butler’s interaction with the group comes up too. Linda talks about why she started writing, and her connection to the NYcon, and Ginjer comments on her transition from social worker to award winning editor. The impact of Star Trek on WPSFA is dissected as well. Fans, both living and dead, are remembered, with stories and anecdotes, including the full story of the Pittsburgh subway system. My favorite is the story of “the Sensuous SF writer”….There are touching stories, funny stories, and at least one story that achieved mythic status in fandom. If you were a Pittsburgh fan in the 70s, you may find yourself mentioned!

Note: Participants had a few technical difficulties and there are some rough spots in the recording. 

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1996 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones

I gather that it’s hard to properly describe food to someone who won’t be able to actually taste it. This apparently isn’t a problem for George R.R. Martin who inserts detailed descriptions of food everywhere in A Song of Ice and Fire

I have not seen the HBO series so I’ve no idea how this was scripted into an actual scene if indeed it was. I like the novels and my long standing policy as you know by now is not to watch an adaption of any such work that I’ve enjoyed immensely. Full cast audio adaptations are different as, for many reasons, they work for me whereas video adaptations don’t. 

Below is one of my favorite such passages. 

All the while the courses came and went. A thick soup of barley and venison. Salads of sweetgrass and spinach and plums, sprinkled with crushed nuts. Snails in honey and garlic. Sansa had never eaten snails before; Joffrey showed her how to get the snail out of the shell, and fed her the first sweet morsel himself. Then came trout fresh from the river, baked in clay; her prince helped her crack open the hard casing to expose the flaky white flesh within. And when the meat course was brought out, he served her himself, slicing a queen’s portion from the joint, smiling as he laid it on her plate. She could see from the way he moved that his right arm was still troubling him, yet he uttered not a word of complaint.

Later came sweetbreads and pigeon pie and baked apples fragrant with cinnamon and lemon cakes frosted in sugar, but by then Sansa was so stuffed that she could not manage more than two little lemon cakes, as much as she loved them. She was wondering whether she might attempt a third when the king began to shout.

King Robert had grown louder with each course. From time to time Sansa could hear him laughing or roaring a command over the music and the clangor of plates and cutlery, but they were too far away for her to make out his words.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 12, 1930 Bruce Lansbury. Brother of Angela Lansbury. He is best remembered as producer of eighty-eight episodes of Murder, She Wrote starring his sister. He also was a writer for fifteen episodes of the show. He produced the bulk of the episodes of The Wild Wild West, and many episodes of Mission: Impossible. (That was how I found him as I’m watching the entire series.) He was producer of Buck Rogers in the 25th CenturyKnight Rider and Wonder Woman, and executive produced The Fantastic Journey. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 12, 1951 Kirstie Alley. She’s here for being Saavik on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, her very first film. It was, errr, interesting reading the various rumors why this was her only Trek film. Her SFF experience otherwise was brief limited to being the villain’s ex-girlfriend in Runaway, an uncredited handmaiden on Quark, and being in the Village of the Damned as Dr. Susan Verner. (Died 2022.)
  • Born January 12, 1952 Walter Mosley, 71. I have read his Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins series but hadn’t been aware that he wrote SF of which he has four novels to date, Blue LightFutureland: Nine Stories of an Imminent FutureThe Wave, and 47. There’s a Jack Kirby art book called Maximum Fantastic Four was conceived of and orchestrated by him.  Interestingly enough, he’s got a writing credit for episode of Masters of Science Fiction called “Little Brother” where Stephen Hawking is the Host according to IMdB.
  • Born January 12, 1955 Rockne O’Bannon, 68. Creator of five genre series in Alien Nation, CultDefianceFarscape and seaQuest. He also helped write the Warehouse 13 pilot. He has also written and produced for Constantine, Revolution and V, among many other projects. I truly loved Farscape and seaQuest but thought Defiance went bad fast.
  • Born January 12, 1957 John Lasseter, 66. Animator fired from Disney for promoting computer animation who joined Lucasfilm which eventually became Pixar under Steve Jobs. And where he directed Toy StoryA Bug’s LifeToy Story, Cars and Cars 2. He also Executive Produced Toy Story 3 as well as ZootopiaFinding Dory and Incredibles 2.
  • Born January 12, 1960 Oliver Platt, 63. My favorite role by him is Porthos in The Three Musketeers but his first genre role was as Randy Steckle in Flatlineers and he later played Rupert Burns in the Bicentennial Man film on Asimov’s The Positronic Man. He voices Hades in Wonder Woman, not surprising given his deep voice.
  • Born January 12, 1970 Kaja Foglio, 53. Writer, artist, and publisher. Foglio co-won the first Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story at Anticipation (2009) for the absolutely stunning Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones, created with her husband artist Phil Foglio and colorist Cheyenne Wright, and co-won two more Hugos in the following years.  Having won three three years running, they removed themselves from further competition.  If you haven’t read them, you’re in for treat as they’re quite amazing. Her husband Phil Foglio and colorist Cheyenne Wright do stunning work.
  • Born January 12, 1980 Kameron Hurley, 43. Winner of a Best Related Work Hugo at London 3 for We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative. Fiction wise, her most excellent God’s War won a BFA and a Kitschie, whereas her The Geek Feminist Revolution won her a BFA for non-fiction. Very impressive indeed. Oh, and she won a Hugo for Best Fan Writer at Loncon 3 as well. Nice. 

(9) JOB THREAT? The Hollywood Reporter takes the media writing community’s temperature about new AI writing platforms: “ChatGPT: Will Hollywood Writers Consider Rules for AI?”

…“Do I see this in the near term replacing the kind of writing that we’re doing in writers rooms every day? No, I don’t,” says Big Fish and Aladdin writer John August, who has tested the free research preview and talked about it on the popular Scriptnotes podcast, which he co-hosts with Craig Mazin (The Last of Us). Still, he adds, “There certainly is no putting the genie back in the bottle. It’s going to be here, and we need to be thinking about how to use it in ways that advance art and don’t limit us.”

Another prominent writer and showrunner, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter anonymously, has taken ChatGPT for several test rides and says the chatbot seems incapable of writing funny jokes or producing results that might be useful to include in a script without “substantial creative input from me.” This showrunner adds, “When people conclude that this is going to replace professional writers, I think they’re sort of swallowing an Elon Musk-style fantasy about the future that is not actually connected to the technology.”…

(10) DIG THOSE DIGITS. Speaking of Elon Musk, what’s he doing using my number? “Tesla set to spend $770 million expanding Texas Gigafactory” reports The Verge.

Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla has notified the state of Texas of its plans to spend upward of $770 million expanding its already immense Austin-based factory….

(11) HOME SWEET HOME. Steve Vertlieb posted an intimate view of his “living” room (Steve’s quotemarks) on Facebook. Looks very fannish, although the stacks may be too straight. (Click for larger images.)

(12) GOING UP. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Nature reports “2022 was a record year for space launches”, as 180 rockets lifted off successfully, with SpaceX driving the pace.

 2022 was a record year for space with 180 successful rocket launches to orbit — the most ever, and 44 more than in 2021. The launches were dominated by rockets from US company SpaceX and from the Chinese government and businesses…

(13) JUSTWATCH. Here are JustWatch’s Top 10 lists for December.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Diana Glyer, Steve Vertlieb, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, BravoLimaPoppa, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 1/9/23 Pixeling The Night Away

(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON WSFS MEMBERSHIPS. The Chengdu Worldcon website has posted this description of its process for dealing with non-Chinese credit cards: “About Credit Card”.

Currently, you can purchase WSFS membership and admissions by transfer fees directly to our collaborator.

1.Please note the Order Number on the the transfer form.

2.Please upload a screenshot of the transfer receipt by clicking any of the “Receipt” buttons. We will check it and confirm your Order.

“WSFS membership” is the newly ratified terminology for memberships that come with Hugo voting rights and qualify the holder to buy a site selection voting membership.

The deadline to acquire a WSFS membership in Chengdu is 22 days away (based on WSFS 3.7.1) if you want to nominate for the Hugos.

(2) CAPTAIN FUTURE’S FUTURE. Allen Steele says he’s returning to Captain Future in 2023, beginning with these two items:

…The first is a new web site dedicated to my Captain Stories novels as well as Edmond Hamilton’s original. Here’s the link:

It’s still a work in progress and there’s not much there right now, but if you’ll toggle the tab marked History, you’ll find a brand-new essay, “The Original Captain Future”, about the genesis and history of the Hamilton series. Other items to be added soon will be an illustrated Captain Future bibliography featuring scans of the 40’s pulp covers, a short bio of series creator Edmond Hamilton, and — wait for it — an upcoming podcast featuring yours truly reading the Captain Future books I wrote as a series of regular installments.

The other major CF project I’m planning will be writing a new Captain Future novella. This will be a standalone story, told in one installment and unrelated to the previous stories. I’m not going to say much about it (I haven’t even settled on the title) but I’ll drop a hint: it has to do with a NASA Apollo mission of the 70’s that was tentatively planned but never flown….

(3) WELLES REMEMBERED. Steve Vertlieb invites you to read his article “Xanadu: A Castle in the Clouds: The Life of Orson Welles at The Thunderchild.

Celebrating the genius of this extraordinary artist with my published look at the turbulent life and career of Orson Welles, the fabulous, visionary film maker whose personal demons sadly overshadowed his staggering talent, and finally, tragically destroyed him.

Yet, in spite of his personal failings or, perhaps, because of them, Welles rose to become one of the most remarkable film makers of his, or any other generation.

From his groundbreaking first feature length motion picture “Citizen Kane,” regarded by many still as the greatest single film in motion picture history, to “Touch Of Evil,” his remarkable “Cinema Noir” tale of a squandered life and legacy corrupted by bribery and temptation, Welles remains one of the most extraordinary directors in the history of film.

His is a story of unwitting sabotaged achievement and haunting, incomparable genius.

Here, then, is “Xanadu: A Castle In Clouds … The Life of Orson Welles.”

(4) SCALZI SCOFFS. John Scalzi explains something about SFWA.

(5) FANGS FOR THE MEMORIES. [Item by Daniel Dern.] CNN’s Chris Wallace interviews Hugh Jackman on signing up for another round of Wolverine  (this time with Deadpool).

Some interesting stuff; mostly, I’m amused by this being a medium-long CNN segment.

(6) GENRE LOVE. The “Art Directors Guild Awards 2023 Nominations” in Variety cover film and TV in 14 categories. This isn’t one File 770 devotes standalone posts to, however, the award does boast a separate Fantasy Feature Film category. The nominees are —

FANTASY FEATURE FILM

“Avatar: The Way of Water” (Production Designers: Dylan Cole, Ben Procter)
“The Batman” (Production Designer: James Chinlund)
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (Production Designer: Hannah Beachler)
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” (Production Designer: Jason Kisvarday)
“Nope” (Production Designer: Ruth De Jong)

Winners will be named at the ADG Awards ceremony on February 18.

(7) FREE READ. The Library of America’s “Story of the Week” is “A Scarab in the City of Time” by Marta Randall.

“I wasn’t going to be the one stuck at home baking cookies,” Marta Randall tells readers on her website. “I was going to be the one balancing on the raft in the lashing seas, gripping the mast with one hand while the other held on to the cookies somebody else had baked.”

Fifty years ago, in 1973, Randall published her first story in New Worlds Quarterly 5, a paperback series edited during the 1970s by British science fiction writer Michael Moorcock. (Despite its name, the “quarterly” came out only once or twice a year.) That summer, she attended a science fiction convention in San Francisco and met Robert Silverberg, whose novel A Time of Changes had recently won the Nebula Award. The two authors had a friendly argument about short stories; as Silverberg remembered it, she “preferred the sort of stories with an identifiable beginning, middle, and end,” and he responded that he did as well—but he didn’t “necessarily require that they happen in that order.” He wrote, “As is usual in such debates, neither of us held as extreme a position as it might have seemed to the other.” Six months later, Randall shared with him, “with some trepidation,” her second piece of fiction; “I read it on the spot and rather to her surprise accepted it then and there.” The story, “A Scarab in the City of Time,” was published the following year in the fifth issue of New Dimensions, an annual publication that Silverberg edited between 1971 and 1981….

(8) MORE ON PARTINGTON. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] SF2 Concatenation has published its Charles Partington tribute, an expanded and more illustrated version of the File 770 tribute last month. Charles was a lifelong SF aficionado, an SF fan, conrunner, fanzine editor, publisher, prozine editor and an all round, good egg.

Charles Partington

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1980 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

So let’s talk about tea. Tea has described by Arthur Dent in Douglas Adams’ The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. I’ve had tea served to me on a tea plantation high in the mountains of Sri Lanka by some of the Hindu population there that has been harvesting tea by hand for centuries now, so I can sympathize with Arthur when the machine doesn’t understand tea. The English, wherever they are, love tea.

Then he decided he’d be damned if he’d give up.

“No,” he said, “look, it’s very, very simple … all I want … is a cup of tea. You are going to make one for me. Keep quiet and listen.”

And he sat. He told the Nutri-Matic about India, he told it about China, he told it about Ceylon. He told it about broad leaves drying in the sun. He told it about silver teapots. He told it about summer afternoons on the lawn. He told it about putting in the milk before the tea so it wouldn’t get scalded. He even told it (briefly) about the history of the East India Company.

“So that’s it, is it?” said the Nutri-Matic when he had finished.

“Yes,” said Arthur, “that is what I want.”

“You want the taste of dried leaves boiled in water?”

“Er, yes. With milk.”

“Squirted out of a cow?”

“Well, in a manner of speaking I suppose …”

“I’m going to need some help with this one,” said the machine tersely. All the cheerful burbling had dropped out of its voice and it now meant business.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 9, 1890 Karel Čapek . Author of the 1936 novel War with the Newts and 1920 play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), which introduced the word robot. R.U.R.was a dystopian work about a really bad day at a factory populated with sentient androids. ISFDB shows two additional works by him, Krakatit: An Atomic Fantasy and The Absolute at Large which I’ve not heard of. (Died 1938.)
  • Born January 9, 1931 Algis Budrys. I think I remember reading his Some Will Not Die which I remember because of the 1979 Starblaze edition cover. I’ve also read and enjoyed his Rogue Moon. Setting aside his work as a writer which was exemplary, he was considered one of our best genre reviewers ever reviewing for GalaxyMagazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and even in Playboy. He edited a number of the L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future anthologies. (Died 2008.)
  • Born January 9, 1950 David Johansen, 73. He’s the wisecracking Ghost of Christmas Past in the oh-so-perfect Scrooged, he played Halston in Tales from the Darkside: The Movie in “The Cat from Hell” episode, and he appeared as a character named Brad in Freejack. I think the brief Ghost of Christmas Past riff in the aforementioned Scrooged is enough to earn him as Birthday Honors here.
  • Born January 9, 1955 J.K. Simmons, 68. You may know him as J. Jonah Jameson in the various Spider-Man films but I find his more interesting genre role to be as Howard Silk in the Counterpart series where he plays two versions of himself in two versions of parallel Berlins in a spy service that may or may not exist. He also portrayed Commissioner James Gordon in Justice League.
  • Born January 9, 1956 Imelda Staunton, 67. Voice of the Snow Queen in The Snow Queen’s Revenge, A Nurse in Shakespeare in Love, Polly in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dolores Jane Umbridge In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (which I thought was a so-so film at best) and in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as well and Knotgrass In Maleficent and the sequel. 
  • Born January 9, 1957 Greg Ketter, 66. A Minneapolis SF bookstore owner, Dreamhaven to be precise in its new incarnation, a huckster, and con-running fan as well. He is a member of MN-Stf. He’s been involved in myriad regionals and Worldcons. He‘s chaired Minicons and World Fantasy Conventions alike.
  • Born January 9, 1976 Jenna Felice. Tor Books Editor. She suffered what the doctors are called a massive allergic reaction compounded by asthma. She died having never emerged from her coma. There’s a memorial page for her here. (Died 2001.)

(11) MERGER MANIA. Put ‘em together and what do you get? “Marvel Comics Celebrates 100 Years of Disney with Variant Covers Starring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and More”.

…The variant program in honor of Disney100 will celebrate Marvel’s past, present, and future through the classic “What If” lens with a fantastic reimagining of Marvel’s most classic comic book covers. While the initial trio of these first-of-its-kind art pieces paid homage to the foundational stories of the Marvel Universe, the next set will celebrate some of Marvel’s more modern game changing stories! See Disney’s iconic characters immersed in pivotal moments of the Marvel mythos including the earth-shattering 90s event Infinity Gauntlet, the debut of the lineup of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes that would define the 2000s in New Avengers #1, and the transformative journey Tony Stark went on in the pages of Invincible Iron Man.

With 12 covers in total, fans can look forward to a new Disney100 variant cover (also available in Black and White versions) hitting stands each month of 2023 at local comic book shops. The variant covers will be found on select upcoming issues of Amazing Spider-Man starting with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17 on January 11….

(12) HERE’S WHAT THEY THOUGHT OF NEXT. The Guardian tells about “Chameleon cars, urine scanners and other standouts from CES 2023”.

From colour-changing cars, dual-screen laptops and satellite emergency texts to AI-ovens and a urine-scanning smart toilet upgrade, the annual CES tech show in Las Vegas had more concepts of the future on show than ever before….

Asus glasses-free 3D display

Asus’s Vivobook Pro laptop with a 3D screen hopes to succeed where 3D TVs failed – as no glasses required. Using an eye-tracking camera system and a lenticular lens built into the 16in OLED screen, the laptop can accurately display a different image for each eye giving the impression of 3D, including objects that jump out of the screen. It will play 3D movies and games but is most impressive with creative software, for which Asus has developed plugins to take advantage of the screen.

The laptop is expected be available later this year and joins rival devices from Acer and Sony in trying to make glass-free 3D computer screens a reality….

(13) BIRDS DON’T DO IT, BEES DO IT. CNN is there when “USDA approves first-ever vaccine for honeybees”. So how do you administer that anyway? Is this another take on Digby’s lyric, “Like you need teeny tiny branding irons for ants”?

The United States Department of Agriculture has approved the first-ever vaccine for honeybees to prevent American foulbrood disease, a fatal bacterial disease that can destroy honeybee colonies, officials say.

The USDA told CNN that it issued a conditional vaccine license to Diamond Animal Health, the collaborating manufacturer for Dalan Animal Health, on December 29. The agency said that it was its “first licensure of a honeybee product.”…

(14) PAUSE AND EFFECTS. “Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Megalopolis’ in Peril As Crew Exits”The Hollywood Reporter tells why.

Francis Ford Coppola’s latest movie, the sci-fi-tinged Megalopolis, has descended into chaos, according to multiple sources. The movie, currently halfway through shooting in Atlanta, has in the last week lost key creative talent including its production designer and supervising art director. That’s on top of losing the entire visual effects team in the first part of December.  

To many insiders, the production is giving severe Apocalypse Now redux vibes, and it’s one on which the iconoclastic 83-year-old director is breaking a cardinal Hollywood rule: Never spend your own money.

…Sources say Coppola, who has never made an effects-heavy movie, fired almost his entire visual effects team Dec. 9, with the rest of that department soon following. Mark Russell, a veteran whose credits include In the Heights and The Wolf of Wall Street, was leading the team as visual effects supervisor. (Coppola famously fired his visual effects department on Dracula 30 years ago.)…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Eleanor Morton plays both authors as C.S. Lewis tells J.R.R. Tolkien about his new book.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Olav Rokne, Peer, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Celebrating Ray Milland (1907-1986) On His Birthday

Steve Vertlieb, Ray Milland, and Erwin Vertlieb in 1967.

By Steve Vertlieb: My little brother, Erwin, and I visited with Ray Milland in 1967, during the theatrical run of Hostile Witness on stage in Philadelphia. Ray was both starring in and directing the production prior to its Broadway and, later, screen debut. He could not have been nicer to these two youthful admirers. We met him outside the theater by the stage door prior to his matinee performance. He ushered us into his dressing room, and was deeply appreciative of our admiration for his long, distinguished screen career. When we asked if he’d mind posing for a photograph with the two of us, he said that he’d be happy to do so. Then he smiled, and said … “Wait, let me put on my toupee first.” Ray was the epitome of kindness, and a “class act” in every sense of that now over used term. He was, in short, exactly what one might have expected from a star of the golden age of Hollywood…a gentleman.

When he saw this early 1936 Paramount promotional photo of himself, he grinned and said “WOW, is that really me? I can’t believe that I was ever that young. That was when I had my own hair.” He then signed the photo with his name, followed by a question mark. He just couldn’t believe that he had ever been so young. He was a genuinely nice man.

Here’s Ray in a publicity still for his Oscar winning performance as alcoholic author Don Birnam in Billy Wilder’s groundbreaking 1945 motion picture The Lost Weekend, which featured Miklos Rozsa’s brilliant, Oscar-nominated score.

Memorably, here is a rare still advertising his starring performance in Paramount Pictures’ unforgettable cinematic ghost story based upon Dorothy Macardle’s novel “Uneasy Freehold.” “No unseen or uninvited guests” but only “Stella By Starlight,” as painted with notes and keys by Ray Milland, and composed by the great Victor Young in the classic ghost tale, The Uninvited (Paramount, 1944).

Wishing you a most gracious Happy Birthday in Heaven.

Never Mind The News – File 770’s Best Feature Articles of 2022

People writing about the issues they care about is what keeps this community going. It’s a gift and privilege for me to be continually allowed to publish so many entertaining posts rich in creativity, humor, and shared adventures. Thanks to all of you who contributed to File 770 in 2022!

FEATURES

Melanie Stormm — Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me: Links To Every Installment

Stormm continued her humorous series about the misdirected emails she gets from Writer X throughout 2022, braiding together comedy, horror, and the pitfalls of being a writer.

Jeffrey Smith — A Bibliography of Jules Verne Translations

…Thinking about Jules Verne, with the new TV version of Around the World in Eighty Days about to start, I just bought the Wesleyan edition of Five Weeks in a Balloon, translated by Frederick Paul Walter – after researching what the good modern translations of Verne are. Verne has been abysmally translated into English over the years, but there’s been a push to correct that….

Joel Zakem Religious Aspects of DisCon III’s Opening Ceremonies

…  It was on FaceBook where I first saw friends’ posting about Opening Ceremonies. According to what was posted, some of the musical selections performed by students from the Duke Ellington School spotlighted the religious aspects of the Christmas holiday.

My immediate reaction was that this was not an appropriate part of Opening Ceremonies, especially since, as far as I know, the religious aspect of the performance was not contained in the descriptions in any convention publication. The online description of Opening Ceremonies says, in its entirety: “Welcome to the convention. We will present the First Fandom and Big Heart awards, as well as remarks from the Chair.” The December 9, 2021, news release about the choir’s participation did not mention that there would be a religious component to the performance….

Walt Boyes Grantville Gazette Publishes 100th Issue

Whew! We made it. We made it to Issue 100 of the Grantville Gazette. This is an incredible feat by a large group of stakeholders. Thank you, everyone.

I don’t think Eric Flint had any idea what he’d created when he sent Jim Baen the manuscript for 1632. In the intervening two-plus decades, the book he intended to be a one-shot novel has grown like the marshmallow man in Ghostbusters to encompass books from two publishing houses, a magazine (this one, that you are holding in your metaphorical hands) and allowed over 165 new authors to see their first published story in print. The Ring of Fire Universe, or the 1632 Universe, has more than twelve million words published….

Anonymous Note from a Fan in Moscow

This message was written by a fan in Moscow 48 hours ago. It is unsigned but was relayed by a trustworthy source who confirms the writer is happy for it to be published by File 770. It’s a fan’s perspective, a voice we may not hear much….

Borys Sydiuk SFWA Rejects Call to Join Boycott of Russia: A Guest Post by Borys Sydiuk

Right now, when I’m sitting at my desktop and writing this text, a cannonade nearby doesn’t stop. The previous night was scary in Kyiv. Evidently, Russians are going to start demolishing Ukrainian capital like they are doing with Kharkiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, Mariupol.

The Ukrainian SFF Community joined the efforts to isolate Russia, the nazi-country of the 21st century, to force them to stop the war. The boycott by American authors we asked for is also doing the job. Many leading writers and artists of the great United States already joined the campaign.

We appealed to SFWA to also join the campaign, and here is what they replied…

(Two days later the organization issued a SFWA Stands With Ukraine statement.)

Daniel Dern Reading Daily Comic Strips Online

Fortunately, comic-carrying newspapers are, of course, all (also or only) online these days, but even then, some require subscriptions (fair enough), and to get all the ones you want. For example, online, the Washington Post, has about 90, while the Boston Globe is just shy of a paltry one-score-and-ten. And (at least in Firefox), they don’t seem to be visible in all-on-one-page mode, much less customize-a-page-of.

So, for several years now, I’ve been going to the source — two  “syndicates” that sell/redistribute many popular strips to newspapers….

Michaele Jordan Squid Game and Beyond

There’s been a lot of excitement about Squid Game. Everybody’s talking about how clever, original, and utterly skiffy it is. I watched it, too, eagerly and faithfully. But I wasn’t as surprised by it as some. I expected it to be good. I’ve been watching Korean video for ten years, and have only grown more addicted every year.  And yet I just can’t convince many people to watch it with me….

Rich Lynch A Day at the Museum

Let me tell you about my favorite building in Washington, D.C.  It’s the staid old Arts and Industries Building, the second-oldest of all the Smithsonian Institution buildings, which dates back to the very early 1880s and owes its existence to the Smithsonian’s then urgent need for a place where parts of its collection could go on public display….

Mike Glyer What the Heinleins Told the 1950 Census

When we last left the Heinleins (“What the Heinleins Told the 1940 Census”), a woman answering the door at 8777 Lookout Mountain – Leslyn Heinlein, presumably — had just finished telling the 1940 census taker a breathtaking raft of misinformation. Including that her name was Sigred, her husband’s was Richard, that the couple had been born in Germany, and they had a young son named Rolf.

Ten years have passed since then, and the archives of the 1950 U.S. Census were opened to the public on April 1. There’s a new Mrs. Heinlein – Virginia. The 8777 Lookout Mountain house in L.A. has been sold. They’re living in Colorado Springs. What did the Heinleins tell the census taker this time?…

John A Arkansawyer Laser Cats

“In the future, there was a nuclear war. And because of all the radiation, cats developed the ability to shoot lasers out of their mouths.”

On this dubious premise, Laser Cats was founded. By its seventh and final episode, the great action stars and directors of the day had contributed their considerable talents to this highly entertaining, yet frankly ridiculous enterprise. From James Cameron to Lindsey Lohan, Josh Brolin to Steve Martin, Laser Cats attracted the best in the business.

Being part of Saturday Night Live undoubtedly helped….

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki Announcing the Emeka Walter Dinjos Memorial Award For Disability In Speculative Fiction

The Emeka Walter Dinjos Memorial Award For Disability In Speculative Fiction aims to award disability in speculative fiction in two ways. One, by awarding a writer of speculative fiction for their representation or portrayal of disability in a world of speculative fiction, whatever their health status; and two, by awarding a disabled writer for a work of speculative fiction in general, whatever the focus of the work may be….

Bill Higgins Two Vain Guys Named Robert

Robert Osband, Florida fan, really loves space. All his life he has been learning about spaceflight. And reading stories about spaceflight, in science fiction.

So after NASA’s Apollo program was over, the company that made Apollo space suits held a garage sale, and Ozzie showed up. He bought a “training liner” from ILC Dover, a coverall-like portion of a pressure suit, with rings at the wrists and neck to attach gloves and helmet.

And another time, in 1976, when one of his favorite authors, Robert A. Heinlein, was going to be Guest of Honor at a World Science Fiction Convention, Mr. Osband journeyed to Kansas City.

In his suitcase was his copy of Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel—a novel about a teenager who wins a secondhand space suit in a contest—and his ILC Dover suit.

Because if you wanted to get your copy of Have Space Suit, Will Travel autographed, and you happened to own a secondhand space suit, it would be a shame NOT to wear it, right?…

Rich Lynch Remembering Bruce Pelz

… I’m sure that our first face-to-face meeting was in 1979, when my job in industry took me from Chattanooga all the way out to Los Angeles for some much-needed training in electrochemistry.  I didn’t really know anybody in L.A. fandom back then but I did know the address of the LASFS clubhouse, so on my next-to-last evening in town I dropped in on a meeting.  And it was there that I found Bruce mostly surrounded by other fans while they all expounded on fandom as it existed back then and what it might be like a few years down the road.  It was like a jazz jam session, but all words and no music.  I settled back into the periphery, enjoying all the back-and-forth, and when there eventually came a lull in the conversations I took the opportunity to introduce myself.  And then Bruce said something to me that I found very surprising: “Dick Lynch!  I’ve heard of you!”…

Rich Lynch It’s About Time

It was back in 2014 that a student filmmaker at Stephen F. Austin State University, Ricky Kennedy, created an extraordinary short movie titled The History of Time Travel.  Exploration of “what ifs” is central to good storytelling in the science fiction genre and this little production is one of the better examples of how to do it the right way.

Dale Skran Reforming the Short Form Hugo: A Guest Post by Dale Skran

 For a long time, I’ve felt the Short Form Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation was not properly organized to give an award to the best “Television” SF of the previous year….  

Paul Weimer Review: Neom by Lavie Tidhar

Lavie Tidhar’s Neom is a stunning return to his world of Central Station, twinning the fates of humans and robots alike at a futuristic city on the edge of the Red Sea…. 

Mike Glyer Iron Truth Review

… It is through Joy and Cassimer’s eyes we experience S.A. Tholin’s Iron Truth, a finalist of the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition. If there was ever a case of the cream rising to the top this book is one….

Lis Carey Review of Rocket to the Morgue

… A couple of odd things, though. He had $300 on him, that wasn’t stolen, and an unusual rosary, with what seems to be the wrong number of beads. It’s a puzzle….

Mike Glyer Review: In the Orbit of Sirens

In T. A. Bruno’s In the Orbit of Sirens, a Self-Published Science Fiction Competition finalist, the remnants of the human race have fled the solar system ahead of an alien culture that is assimilating everyone in reach. Loaded aboard a vast colony ship they’re headed for a distant refuge, prepared to pioneer a new world, but unprepared to meet new threats there to human survival that are as great as the ones they left behind.

Mike Glyer Review: Monster of the Dark

On the morning of Carmen Grey’s sixth birthday an armed team arrives to take her from her parents and remove her to the underground facility where Clairvoyants — like her — are held captive and trained for years to access their abilities. So begins Monster of the Dark by K. T. Belt, a finalist in the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition….

Jonathan Cowie Jurassic World Dominion Ultra-Mini-Review

Jurassic World Dominion is another breathless, relentless Hollywood offering: the action and/or special effects never let up…. 

Mike Glyer Review: Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire

G.M. Nair begins Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire by making a surprising choice. His introductory scene explicitly reveals to readers the true nature of the mysterious events that the protagonists themselves uncover only very slowly throughout the first half of the book. The introduction might even be the penultimate scene in the book — which would make sense in a story that is partly about time travel loops. Good idea or bad idea?…

Rogers Cadenhead Review: Captain Wu: Starship Nameless #1

… What sounds like Firefly also describes the SPSFC finalist novel Captain Wu: Starship Nameless #1, a space opera by authors Patrice Fitzgerald and Jack Lyster. I love Firefly so it wasn’t a big leap to climb aboard this vessel….

Olav Rokne Hugo Voting Threshold Reform Proposal

…. It would be exceptionally embarrassing for a Worldcon to have to explain why a finalist would have won the Hugo except for — oops! — this bit of outdated fine print. The best course of action is to eliminate that fine print before such a circumstance arises….

Mike Glyer Review: A Star Named Vega

The social media of the 30th century doesn’t seem so different: teenagers anonymously perform acts of civil disobedience and vandalism to score points and raise their ranking in an internet app. That’s where Aster Vale leads a secret life as the Wildflower, a street artist and tagger, in A Star Named Vega by Benjamin J. Roberts, a Self-Published Science Fiction competition finalist…..

Paul Weimer Review: Babel

R F Kuang’s Babel is an audacious and unrelenting look at colonialism, seen through the lens of an alternate 19th century Britain where translation is the key to magic. Kuang’s novel is as sharp and perceptive as it is well written, deep, and bears reflection upon, after reading, for today’s world….

Paul Weimer Inside the New Uncle Hugo’s: Photos by Paul Weimer 

Paul Weimer went to donate some books at Don Blyly’s new location for Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores. While he was inside Paul shot these photographs of the bookshelves being stocked and other work in progress.

Michaele Jordan Jordan: Comments on the 2022 Best Novel Hugo Finalists: Part 1 and Jordan: Hugo Finalists for Best Novel, Part 2

Rob Thornton A World of Afrofuturism: Meet Nicole Michell’s “Xenogenesis Suite” (Part I) and A World of Afrofuturism: Creating Nicole Michell’s “Xenogenesis Suite” (Part II)

… Another contributor to the Afrofuturist tradition is Nicole Mitchell, a noted avant-jazz composer and flutist. She chose to take on Octavia Butler’s most challenging works, the Xenogenesis Trilogy, and create the Xenogenesis Suite, a collection of dark and disturbing compositions that reflect the trilogy’s turbulent and complicated spirit….

J. Franklin March Hidden Talents: A Story

Anna carefully arranged the necessary objects around her desktop computer into a pentagon: sharpened pencils, a legal pad, a half-empty coffee cup, and a copy of Science Without Sorcery, with the chair at the fifth point. This done, she intoned the spell that would open the channel to her muse for long enough to write the final pages of her work-in-progress. Then she could get ready for the convention….

Nicholas Whyte Whyte: Comments on the 2022 Hugo Awards Study Committee Report

… In the last five years, the [Hugo Awards Study Committee] [HASC] has changed precisely two words of the Constitution. (Since you asked: adding the words “or Comic” to the title of the “Best Graphic Story” category.) The HASC’s defenders will complain that we had two years of pandemic, and that the committee switched to Discord rather than email only this year, and that there are lots of proposals this year. But the fact remains that so far the practical impact has been slower than I imagined when I first proposed the Committee…..

Michaele Jordan Jordan: 2022 Hugo Finalists for Best Novella

In Michaele Jordan’s overview, she comments on the novellas by Aliette de Bodard, Becky Chambers, Alix E. Harrow, Seanan McGuire, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Catherynne M. Valente that are up for the 2022 Hugo.

John Hertz Tim Powers Makes Stolen Skies Sweet

… Once we had a lot of science fiction, little fantasy; lately we’ve had a lot of fantasy; so Powers’ writing fantasy does not seem particularly defiant.

His fantasy has generally been — to use a word which may provoke defiance — rigorous. Supernatural phenomena occur, may be predicted, aroused, avoided, as meticulously — a word whose root means fear — as we in our world start an automobile engine or put up an umbrella. Some say this has made his writing distinctive….

Mike Glyer Will E Pluribus Hugo Survive Re-Ratification?

The day of reckoning is here for E Pluribus Hugo.  The change in the way Hugo Awards nominations are counted was passed in 2015 and ratified in 2016 to counter how Sad and Rabid Puppies’ slates dictated most of finalists on the Hugo ballots in those years. It came with a 2022 sunset clause attached, and E Pluribus Hugo must be re-ratified this year in order to remain part of the WSFS Constitution….

Michaele Jordan They’re Back!

Who’s back?” you ask. Spear and Fang, of course! But perhaps you have not heard of Genddy Tartakovsky’s Primal?…

Rich Lynch The Fan Who Had a Disease Named After Him

… His name is Joel Nydahl, and back about the time of that Chicon he was a 14-year-old neofan who lived with his parents on a farm near Marquette, Michigan.  He was an avid science fiction reader and at some point in 1952 decided to publish a fanzine.  It was a good one….

Melanie Stormm Supercharge Your SFF Career With These Ten Tips from Writer X

[Infographic at the link]

Borys Sydiuk Guest Post: Ukrainian Fandom At Chicon 8 [PIC Borys-Sydiuk-584×777]

Friends, on behalf of the Ukrainian Fandom I would like to thank everyone who supports us at this time…

Lis Carey Review: What Abigail Did That Summer (Rivers of London #5.83), by Ben Aaronovitch

… Abigail Kamara, younger cousin of police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant, has been left largely unsupervised while he’s off in the sticks on a case. This leaves Abigail making her own decisions when she notices that kids roughly her age are disappearing–but not staying missing long enough for the police to care….

Michaele Jordan Review: Extraordinary Attorney Woo

Friends, let me tell you about one of my favorite TV shows. But I must admit to you up front that it’s not SF/F. Extraordinary Attorney Woo is, as I assume you’ve deduced from the title, a lawyer show. But it’s a KOREAN lawyer show, which should indicate that is NOT run of the mill…. 

Lis Carey Review: Romance of the Grail: The Magic and Mystery of Arthurian Myth by Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell was a professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College, and wrote extensively about comparative mythology. His “hero’s journey” theory has been extremely influential….

Lee Weinstein Gene Autry and The Phantom Empire

The Phantom Empire, a twelve-chapter Mascot serial, was originally released in February, 1935. A strange concoction for a serial, it is at once science fiction film, a Western, and strangely enough, a musical. It was the first real science fiction sound serial and its popularity soon inspired other serials about fantastic worlds….

Kevin Standlee Guest Post: Standlee on the Future of Worldcon Governance

… I find myself explaining the changes to membership in the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) and the conditions for attending the World Science Fiction Convention that were ratified this year in Chicago (and thus are now in effect, because this was the second vote on the changes)…

Tammy Coxen How the Chicago Worldcon Community Fund Helped People Attend Chicon 8

Chicon 8’s Chicago Worldcon Community Fund (CWCF) program offered both memberships and financial stipends. It was established with the goal of helping defray the expenses of attending Chicon 8 for the following groups of people:

    • Non-white fans or program participants
      • LGBTQIA+ fans or program participants
      • Local Chicago area fans of limited means…

Lis Carey The Furthest Station (Rivers of London #5.5), by Ben Aaronovitch

The London Underground has ghosts. Well, the London Underground always has ghosts, but usually they’re gentle, sad creatures. Lately there’s been an outbreak of more aggressive ghosts….

Sultana Raza Utopias

As environmental problems caused by industrialisation and post-industrialisation continue to increase, the public is looking for ecological solutions. As pandemics, economic crises, and wars plague our society in different ways, thoughts turn to the good old times. But were they really all that good? People are escaping increasingly into fantastical stories in order to find a quantum of solace. But at what point was there a utopia in our society. If so, at what or whose cost did it exist? Whether or not we ever experience living in a utopia, the idea of finally finding one drives us to continue seeking ideal living conditions….

Rich Lynch Three Weeks in October

… Capclave appeared to be equally star-crossed in its next iteration. It was held over the weekend of October 18-20, 2002, and once again the attendees were brought closer together by an event taking place in the outside world. The word had spread quickly through all the Saturday night room parties: “There’s been another shooting.” Another victim of the D.C. Sniper….

Michaele Jordan My Journey to She-Hulk, Attorney at Law

… Why such mixed feelings? On the one hand, I am a huge admirer of Tatiana Maslany. On the other hand, I truly loathe The Hulk….

Daniel Dern — Stephen King’s Fairy Tale: Worth The Read. Another Dern Not-Quite-A-Review

… In Fairy Tale, his newest novel, Stephen King delivers a, cough, grimm contemporary story, explicitly incorporating horror in the, cough, spirit of Lovecraft (King also explicitly namedrops, in the text, August Derleth, and Henry Kuttner), in which high-schooler Charlie Reade becomes involved in things — and challenges — that, as the book and plot progress, stray beyond the mundane….

Lee Weinstein Review: Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles

The idea of an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories about the Beatles seems like a natural. I’ve been told the two editors, each unbeknownst to the other, both presented the idea to the publisher around the same time…

Jonathan Cowie SF Museum Exhibition  

The Science Museum (that’s the world famous one in Kensington, London) has just launched a new exhibit on what Carl Sagan once mused (though not mentioned in the exhibit itself) science fiction and science’s ‘dance’. SF2 Concatenation reprographic supremo Tony Bailey and I were invited by the Museum to have a look on the exhibition’s first day. (The exhibition runs to Star Wars day 2023, May the Fourth.) Having braved Dalek extermination at the Museum’s entrance, we made our way to the exhibition’s foyer – decorated with adverts to travel to Gallifrey – to board our shuttle….

Mark Roth-Whitworth KSR and F. Scott Fitzgerald

I was at the 2022 F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival in Rockville, MD today. If you’re wondering why the festival is there, that’s where Fitzgerald and his wife are buried. Now, I’d never read any of Fitzgerald`s writing, so I spent the evening before reading the first three chapters of The Great Gatsby (copyright having expired last year, it’s online). So far, I’ve yet to find anyone in it that I want to spend any time with, including the narrator.

However, the reason I attended was to see Kim Stanley Robinson, who was the special guest at the Festival. The end of the morning’s big event was a conversation between Stan and Richard Powers. Then there was lunch, and a keynote speaker, then Stan introducing Powers to receive an award from the society that throws the annual Festival….

Jonathan Cowie How Long Does It Take an SF Award to Reach Its Recipients?

A recent possible record could be the SF2 Concatenation’s website 2012 Eurocon Award voted on by those at the European SF Society’s convention which, that year, was held in Croatia….

Lis Carey A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny: An Audiobook Review

 Snuff is our narrator, here, and he’s a smart, interesting, likable dog. He’s the friend and partner of a man called Jack, and they are preparing for a major event….

A.K. Mulford The Hobbit: A Guest Post by A.K. Mulford

…As a child, I kept a notebook filled with my favorite quotes. (How did I not know I was going to be an author?) The first quote? “Not all who wander are lost.” There was everything from 90s rom com lines to Wordsworth poems in that notebook, but Tolkien filled the most pages….

Lis Carey Review: The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch

This entry in Rivers of London is, for variety, set in Germany, and involves a German river. Or two. And river goddesses….

Lis Carey Review: Ringworld Audiobook

Louis Wu is 200 years old, and he’s bored. It’s his 200th birthday, and he’s using transfer booths to extend the celebration of it for a full twenty-four hours, and he’s really bored….

Michaele Jordan Korean Frights

How can Halloween be over already? We barely had time to watch thirty horror movies –and those mostly classics, which are less than half our (horror) collection!

Paul Weimer Review: The Spare Man

There is a fundamental implausibility to easy manned interstellar (or even interplanetary) space travel that nonetheless remains a seductive idea even in our wiser and more cynical and weary 21st century. …

Lis Carey Review: Alif the Unseen

Alif is a young man, a “gray hat” hacker, selling his skills to provide cybersecurity to anyone who needs that protection from the government. He lives in an unnamed city-state in the Middle East, referred to throughout simply as the City. He’s nonideological; he’ll sell his services to Islamists, communists, anyone….

Ahrvid Engholm Bertil Falk: From “A Space Hobo” to “Finnegans Wake”

Journalist, author, genre historian (and fan, certainly, from the 1940s and on!) Bertil Falk is acclaimed for performing the “impossible” task of translating Finnegans Wake to Swedish, the modernist classic by James Joyce, under the title Finnegans likvaka….

Lis Carey Review: Isle of the Dead / Eye of Cat, by Roger Zelazny

The protagonist of the first short novel in this omnibus — which is in fact Eye of Cat — is William Blackhorse Singer, a Navajo born in the 20th century, and still alive, and fit and healthy, almost two centuries later…. 

Lis Carey Review: Whispers Under Ground (Rivers of London #3)

One fine Monday morning, Peter Grant is summoned to Baker Street Station on the London Underground, to assess whether there was anything “odd,” i.e., involving magic, about the death of a young man on the tracks…. 

Michaele Jordan Again, with the Animé?

…If you’re not a fan, then there’s a real chance you have no idea how much range animé encompasses. And I’m not even talking about the entire range of kid shows, sit-coms and drama. (I’m aware there may be limits to your tolerance. I’m talking about the range within SF/F. Let’s consider just three examples….

Daniel Dern What’s Not Up, Doc (Savage)?

While I subscribe to the practice that, as a rule, reviews and review-like write-ups, if not intended as a piece of critical/criticism, should stick to books the reviewer feels are worth the readers reading, sometimes (I) want to, like Jerry Pournelle’s “We makes these mistakes and do this stuff so you dont have to” techno-wrangling Chaos Manor columns, give a maybe-not-your-cup-of-paint-remover head’s-up. This is one of those….

Rich Lynch Remembering Roger Weddall

It’s been 30 years since the passing of my friend Roger Weddall.  I doubt very many of you reading this had ever met him and I wouldn’t be surprised, actually, if most of you haven’t even heard of him.  Thirty years is a long time and the demographics of fandom has changed a lot.  So let me tell you a little bit about him….

Lis Carey Review: Broken Homes (Rivers of London #4)

Peter Grant and partner Lesley May are at the Folly practicing their magic skills and researching an Oxford dining club called the Little Crocodiles….

Mark Roth-Whitworth Artemis I: A Hugo Contender?

I expect a lot of File 770’s readers watched, as we did, as the Orion capsule returned to Terra. I’m older than some of you, and it’s been decades since I watched a capsule re-entry and landing in the ocean. What had me in tears is that finally, after fifty years, we’re planning to go back… and stay….

Lis Carey Review: The Complete Psychotechnic League, Volume 1

Poul Anderson began writing his own “future history” in the 1950s, with its starting point being that there would be a limited nuclear war at some point in the 1950s. From that point would develop a secret effort to build a new social structure that could permanently prevent war….

Rich Lynch A Genre-Adjacent Essay Appropriate for Today

As the Peanuts cartoon in the newspaper reminds us, today is Ludwig von Beethoven’s birthday…. 

Craig Miller Review: Avatar: The Way of Water

…As with AvatarAvatar: The Way of Water is a visual feast. Unlike the first film, there aren’t long sweeping pans lingering over beautiful, otherworldly vistas. The “beautiful” and the “otherworldly” are still there, but we’re seeing them incorporated into the action and storytelling….

Rich Lynch Remembering Harry

Today we celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of Harry Warner, Jr., who was perhaps the best-known stay-at-home science fiction fan of all time….

Melanie Stormm On Rambo’s Academy For Wayward Writers (Feat. A Trip in Melanie’s Time Machine)

… I took two classes at The Rambo Academy For Wayward Writers this week, and I’d like to do something a little different.

You see, I’ve got things on my mind that I think you might identify with. You may find it helpful. 

I’d like to tell you exactly why you need to jump over to Cat Rambo’s Patreon & website and sign up right away for everything that looks shiny….

Lis Carey Review: Juniper Wiles and the Ghost Girls

…But having learned that she can see and talk to ghosts, and that they all have unresolved problems they want to solve, she can’t always say no when they ask her for help…. 

Lis Carey Review: Red Scholar’s Wake, by Aliette de Bodard

…Xich Si is a tech scavenger, living in Triệu Hoà Port, and scavenging tech to sell and support herself and her daughter, when she’s captured by pirates. ….

CHRIS BARKLEY

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #63

My 2022 Hugo Awards Nomination Ballot for the Best Dramatic Presentation Long and Short Form Categories 

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #65

… When I was growing up, children like myself were taught, no, more like indoctrinated, to think the United States was the BEST place to grow up, that our country was ALWAYS in the right and that our institutions were, for the most part, unassailable and impervious to criticism from anyone, especially foreigners.

I grew up in Ohio in the 1960’s and despite what I was being taught in a parochial Catholic grade school (at great expense, I might add, by my hard-working parents), certain things I was experiencing did not add up. News of the violence and casualties during the Vietnam War was inescapable. I remember watching the evening network news broadcasts and being horrified by the number of people (on all sides of the conflict) being wounded or killed on a daily basis.

As the years went on, it became harder to reconcile all of the violence, terrorism, public assassinations and the racism I was experiencing with the education I was receiving. The Pentagon Papers and the Watergate break-ins coincided with my high school years and the beginnings of my political awakening.

When I look back on those formative days of my life, I see myself as a small child, set out upon a sea of prejudice and whiteness, in a boat of hetero-normaltity, destination unknown….

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #66

Interrogatives Without Answers: Mercedes Lackey and Stephanie Burke     

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #68: Two 2022 Hugo Award Finalists Walk Into a Bookstore…

… After I introduced myself to Mr. Weir and Mr. Bell, I said, “You and I have something in common.”

“Oh really? What’s that?”

“You and I are the only 2022 Hugo Award nominees within a hundred-mile radius of this bookstore.” (I stated that because I know that our fellow nominee, Jason Sanford, lives in Columbus, Ohio, hence the reference to the mileage.)…

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #69

Fandom and the Pendulum: The Astronomicon 13 Fan Guest of Honor Speech

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #70

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, A (Spoiler Free) Review 

JAMES BACON

Cosmonaut Solidarity

Despite some very harsh comments from Dmitry Rogozin, the director general of Roscosmos, threatening that “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe?” spacefarers seem to have a different perspective and understanding of the importance of international cooperation, respect and solidarity. This appears to have been demonstrated today when three cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station….  

45 Years of 2000AD

Forty-five years ago or thereabouts, on February  26, 1977, the first ‘prog’ of 2000AD was released by IPC magazines. The second issue dated March 5 a week later saw the debut of Judge Dredd. Since then, Rogue Trooper, Nemesis the Warlock, Halo Jones, Sláine, Judge Anderson, Strontium Dog, Roxy and Skizz, The ABC Warriors, Bad Company and Proteus Vex are just some of the characters and stories that have emanated from the comic that was started by Pat Mills and John Wagner. Some have gone on to be in computer games, especially as the comic was purchased by Rebellion developments in 2000, and Judge Dredd has been brought to the silver screen twice. 

Addictive and enjoyable stories of the fantastic, written and drawn by some of the greatest comic creators of the latter part of the 20th century, they often related to the current, utilizing Science Fiction to obscure issues about violence or subversiveness, but reflecting metaphorically about the now of the time…. 

Fight With Art

“Fight With Art” is an exhibition of Ukrainian Contemporary Art created under exceptional circumstances taking place now in Kraków at the Manggha Museum until April 30. 

We reached out to curator Artur Wabik to learn more of this topical exhibition…

Steve Vertlieb, William Shatner, and Erwin Vertlieb.

STEVE VERTLIEB

The Greatest Motion Picture Scores Of All Time

Traditionally, the start of a new year is a time when film critics begin assembling their lists of the best films, actors, writers, composers, and directors of the past year. What follows, then, while honoring that long-held tradition, is a comprehensive compilation and deeply personal look at the finest film scores of the past nearly one hundred years….

“Don’t Look Up” …Down …Or Around

The frenzy of joyous controversy swirling over director Adam McKay’s new film Don’t Look Up has stirred a healthy, if frenetic debate over the meaning and symbology of this bonkers dramedy. On its surface a cautionary satire about the impending destruction of the planet, Don’t Look Up is a deceptively simplistic tale of moronic leadership refusing to accept a grim, unpleasant reality smacking it in its face. 

Remembering Veronica Carlson (1944-2022)

What follows is truly one of the most personally heartfelt, poignant, and heartbreaking remembrances that I’ve ever felt compelled to write.

Veronica Carlson was a dear, close, cherished friend for over thirty years. I learned just now that this dear sweet soul passed away today. I am shocked and saddened beyond words. May God rest her beautiful soul.

“The Man Who Would Be Kirk” — Celebrating William Shatner’s 91st Birthday

After interviewing William Shatner for the British magazine L’Incroyable Cinema during the torrid Summer of 1969 at “The Playhouse In The Park,” just outside of Philadelphia, while Star Trek was still in the final days of its original network run on NBC, my old friend Allan Asherman, who joined my brother Erwin and I for this once-in-a-lifetime meeting with Captain James Tiberius Kirk, astutely commented that I had now met and befriended all three of our legendary boyhood “Captains,” which included Jim Kirk (William Shatner), Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers (Larry “Buster” Crabbe), and Buzz Corry (Edward Kemmer), Commander of the Space Patrol….

King Kong Opens in Los Angeles on March 24, 1933

Today is the 89th anniversary of the “Hollywood Premiere” of King Kong in Los Angeles on March 24, 1933…

Elmer Bernstein at 100

… The first of the most important music modernists, however, in the post war era and “Silver Age” of film composers was Elmer Bernstein who would, had he lived, be turning one hundred years old on April 4th, 2022.  Although he would subsequently prove himself as able as classic “Golden Age” composers of writing traditional big screen symphonic scores, with his gloriously triumphant music for Cecil B De Mille’s 1956 extravaganza, The Ten Commandments….

R.M.S. Titanic … “A Night To Remember”

… She was just four days into her maiden voyage from Southhampton to New York City when this “Unsinkable” vessel met disaster and finality, sailing into history, unspeakable tragedy, and maritime immortality. May God Rest Her Eternal Soul … the souls of the men, women, and children who sailed and perished during those nightmarish hours, and to all those who go courageously “Down to The Sea in Ships.”  This horrifying remembrance remains among the most profoundly significant of my own seventy-six years….

Seth Macfarlane and “The Orville: New Horizons”

… It is true that Seth MacFarlane, the veteran satirist who both created and stars in the science fiction series, originally envisioned [The Orville] as a semi-comedic tribute to Gene Roddenberry’s venerable Star Trek. However, the show grew more dramatic in its second season on Fox, while it became obvious that MacFarlane wished to grow outside the satirical box and expand his dimensional horizons and ambitions….

A Photographic Memory

…  I was born in the closing weeks of 1945, and grasped at my tentative surroundings with uncertain hands.  It wasn’t until 1950 when I was four years old that my father purchased a strange magical box that would transform and define my life.  The box sat in our living room and waited to come alive.  Three letters seemed to identify its persona and bring definition to its existence.  Its name appeared to be RCA, and its identity was known as television….

I Sing Bradbury Electric: A Loving, Personal Remembrance 

He was a kindly, gentle soul who lived among us for a seeming eternity. But even eternity is finite. He was justifiably numbered among the most influential writers of the twentieth century. Among the limitless vistas of science fiction and fantasy he was, perhaps, second only in literary significance to H.G. Wells who briefly shared the last century with him. Ray Bradbury was, above all else, the poet laureate of speculative fiction….

Celebrating “E.T.” On His 40th Birthday

On June 11, 1982, America and the world received the joyous gift of one of the screen’s most beloved fantasy film classics and, during that memorable Summer, a young aspiring television film critic reviewed a new film from director Steven Spielberg called E.T….

Steve Vertlieb is “Back From The Suture”

…Before I realized it, tables and chairs were being moved and I felt the hands of paramedics lifting me to the floor of the restaurant. Les was attempting to perform CPR on me, and I was drifting off into unconciousness. I awoke to find myself in an ambulance with assorted paramedics pounding my chest, while attempting to verbally communicate with me. I was aware of their presence, but found myself unable to speak….

Rhapsodies “Across The Stars” …Celebrating John Williams

After nearly dying a little more than a decade ago during and just after major open heart surgery, I fulfilled one of the major dreams of my life…meeting the man who would become my last living life long hero. I’d adored him as far back as 1959 when first hearing the dramatic strains of the theme from Checkmate on CBS Television. That feeling solidified a year later in 1960 with the rich, sweet strains of ABC Television’s Alcoa Premiere, hosted by Fred Astaire, followed by Wide Country on NBC….

Reviving “The Music Man” On Broadway

…When Jack Warner was casting the film version of the smash hit, he considered performers such as Cary Grant, James Cagney, or Frank Sinatra for the lead. Meredith Willson, the show’s composer, however, demanded that Robert Preston star in the movie version of his play, or he’d withdraw the contracts and licensing. The film version of The Music Man, produced for Warner Brothers, and starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones, opened to rave reviews on movie screens across the country in 1962. Robert Preston, like Rex Harrison in Lerner and Lowe’s My Fair Lady, had proven that older, seasoned film stars could propel both Broadway and big screen musicals to enormous artistic success….

Remembering Frank Sinatra

On the evening of May 14, 1998, following the airing over NBC Television of the series finale of Seinfeld, the world and I received the terrible news of the passing of the most beloved entertainer of the twentieth century. It has been twenty-four years since he left this mortal realm, but the joy, the music, and the memories are as fresh and as vital today as when they were born….

Dr. Van Helsing And Victor Frankenstein: A Peter Cushing Remembrance

I had the honor and distinct pleasure of both knowing and sharing correspondence with British actor Peter Cushing for several years during the late Sixties and early Seventies….

“12 O’clock High” Legendary Soundtrack Release By Composer Dominic Frontiere

Very exciting news. The long awaited CD soundtrack release of 12 O’Clock High is now available for purchase through La-La Land Records and is a major restoration of precious original tracks from Quinn Martin’s beloved television series….

Remembering Camelot’s Prince

That terrible day in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 remains one of the most significantly traumatic days of my life. I was just seventeen years old. I was nearing the end of my high school classes at Northeast High School in Philadelphia when word started spreading through the hallways and corridors that JFK had been shot. I listened in disbelief, praying that it wasn’t true … but it was….

Vertlieb: I Am A Jew!

I recently watched a somber new three part documentary by film maker Ken Burns that is among the most sobering, heartbreaking, and horrifying indictments of humanity that I have ever encountered. It was extremely difficult to watch but, as an American Jew, I remain struck by the similarities between the rise in Fascism in the early nineteen thirties, leading to the beginnings of Nazism in Germany, and the attempted decimation of the Jewish people in Europe and throughout the world, with the repellant echoes of both racial and religious intolerance, and the mounting hatred and suspicion of the Jewish communities and population residing presently in my own country of birth, these United States….

Remembering Hugo Friedhofer

I’ve read with interest some of the recent discussions concerning the measure of Hugo Friedhofer’s importance as a composer, and it set my memory sailing back to another time in a musical galaxy long ago and far away. I have always considered Maestro Friedhofer among the most important, if underrated, composers of Hollywood’s golden era….

“The Fabelmans” — A Review Of The Film

…Steven Spielberg’s reverent semi-autobiographical story of youthful dreams and aspirations is, for me, the finest, most emotionally enriching film of the year, filled with photographic memories, and indelible recollections shared both by myself and by the film maker….

A Magical Philadelphia Christmas Tradition

These photographs are of an annual Christmas tradition at American Heritage Federal Credit Union located at Red Lion and Jamison Roads in Northeast Philadelphia…. 

Remembering Frank Capra

…This was the man who brought such incalculable joy and hope to so many millions of filmgoers with his quintessential Christmas classic, It’s A Wonderful Life. …

Martin Morse Wooster

MARTIN MORSE WOOSTER

Review of Moonfall

My friend Adam Spector tells me that when Ernest Lehman was asked to write the script for North by Northwest, he tried to turn out the most “Hotchcocky” script he could, with all of Hitchcock’s obsessions in one great motion picture.

Moonfall is the most “Emmerichian” film Roland Emmerich is made.  Like his earlier films, it has flatulent melodrama interlaced with completely daft science.  But everything here is much more intense than his earlier work.  But the only sense of wonder you’ll get from this film is wondering why the script got greenlit….

Review of Becoming Superman

… Having a long career in Hollywood is a lot harder than in other forms of publishing; you’ve got to have the relentless drive to pursue your vision and keep making sales.  To an outsider, what is astonishing about J. Michael Straczynski’s career is that it has had a third act and may well be in the middle of a fourth.  His career could have faded after Babylon 5.  The roars that greeted him at the 1996 Los Angeles Worldcon (where, it seemed, every conversation had to include the words, “Where’s JMS?”) would have faded and he could have scratched out a living signing autographs at media conventions….

Review of “The Book of Dust” Stage Play

When I read in the Financial Times about how Britain’s National Theatre was adapting Sir Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage, the first volume of his Book of Dust trilogy, I told myself, “That’s a play for me!  I’ll just fly over to London and see it!  OGH is made of money, and he’ll happily pay my expenses!”

Fortunately, I didn’t have to go to London, because the theatre came to me, with a screening of the National Theatre Live production playing at the American Film Institute.  So, I spent a pleasant Saturday afternoon seeing it….

Review: A Monster Calls at Kennedy Center

… Stories matter more in the theatre than in film because far more of a play is in our imagination than in a film.  Stripped of CGI and rewrites by multiple people, what plays offer at their best is one person’s offering us something where, if it works, we tell ourselves, “Yes, that was a good evening in the theatre,” and if it doesn’t, we gnash our teeth and feel miserable until we get home…

Review of “Under The Sea With Dredgie McGee”

As Anton Ego told us in Ratatouille, the goal of a critic today is to be the first person to offer praise to a rising artist. It’s not the tenth novel that deserves our attention but the first or second. In the theatre, the people who need the most attention are the ones who are being established, not the ones that build on earlier successes.

So I’m happy to report that Matthew Aldwin McGee, author, star, and chief puppeteer of Under the Sea with Dredgie McGee is a talented guy who has a great deal of potential.  You should be watching him….

Review: Maple and Vine

I once read an article about a guy who was determined to live life in 1912.  He lived in a shack in the woods, bought a lot of old clothes, a Victrola, and a slew of old books and magazines.  I don’t remember how he made a living, but the article made clear that he was happy….

TRIGGER SNOWFLAKE

By Ingvar

CATS SLEEP ON SFF

OBITUARIES

[date of publication]

Remembering Frank Capra

Frank Capra and Steve Vertlieb at the Walnut.

By Steve Vertlieb: During a particularly sad and lonely Christmas for my friend and hero, I wrote the brilliant motion picture director Frank Capra a few ineffectual words of hope and encouragement. It was a time of deep reflection and melancholy for the famed director, and I felt that I needed to reach out to him in compassion and support.

This was the man who brought such incalculable joy and hope to so many millions of filmgoers with his quintessential Christmas classic, It’s A Wonderful Life. His nearly heartbreaking response remains, after all these years, one of my most treasured, and cherished pieces of personal correspondence.

He was a legendary film director, and became a personal friend in his later years. Clad in his distinguished white jacket, this was our first lovely meeting together in the Spring of 1972 at The Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia. Frank directed Lost Horizon, It’s A Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Meet John Doe, Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, You Can’t Take It With You, and A Hole In The Head, among many other classic films.

Later that year I spent a quiet afternoon with one of cinema’s greatest, most distinguished motion picture directors. It was truly a memorable afternoon in which Frank and I sat together at the home of a mutual friend…just the two of us…watching a 16 mm print of his Oscar winning classic. It Happened One Night. At its conclusion, the two of us posed proudly beside a poster of his Oscar winning film.

Steve Vertlieb and Frank Capra at David’s.

This cherished afternoon with the acclaimed director of so many classic motion pictures, was absolutely sublime, and a wondrous remnant from a lifetime of cinematic memories and unforgettable experiences.

Here’s a lost treasure from fifty years ago. I was having dinner at my friend Pat Valentine’s home in Flourtown, Pa in July, 2022. He was looking through some old 4×6 photographs and showing them to my lady, Shelly, when he stumbled upon this amazing shot of beloved motion picture director Frank Capra and I. I’d never even seen this photograph until last night. It was taken in 1972 at the home of local television movie host and pal David Mallery.

Frank was visiting David, and I’d received an invitation to join them for an afternoon. Between us are Pat’s little brother, Todd, with his wife Wendy and their daughter, Ashley Valentine. I nearly fell off of my chair when I saw this picture, and longingly asked Pat if I could borrow it.

I ran over to my local camera shop this afternoon, and had them scan it for me. Frank Capra remains one of my lifelong heroes, as well as a cherished friend in his latter years. Life can bring both surprises and blessings out of nowhere when one least expects them to surface … and I shall remain ever grateful to Pat for discovering this lost treasure from half a century ago.

Yours will always be “The Name Above The Title” in my book, Frank.

Steve Verlieb, Todd, and Frank Capra.

A Magical Philadelphia Christmas Tradition

By Steve Vertlieb: These photographs are of an annual Christmas tradition at American Heritage Federal Credit Union located at Red Lion and Jamison Roads in Northeast Philadelphia. They remain a blessing to everyone searching for holiday joy, peace of mind, love, and upliftment.

May God Bless Us… Everyone!

[Click to see the photo gallery.]

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