(1) VISIONS AND REVISIONS. At the Australian Book Designers Assn., W. H. Chong tells “How to Deconstruct a Science Fiction Cover” using some historic examples.
…Among the golden names I picked: Clarke, Asimov, Dick, Gibson, a pair of books stuck out – Ursula Le Guin’s brilliant double: The Left Hand of Darkness and her following novel, The Dispossessed:
Looking at these now they are my idea of perfect science fiction covers.…The Dispossessed is a story of rivalry between two planets, one of which claims to be run on socialist grounds but is actually quite authoritarian, the other is capitalist and more overtly totalitarian. [Note: not totalitarian, but patriarchal] The image is a very simple, iconic, memorable image. There is this very neat thing, where the hero, who looks very heroic, is looking at a world. But you can break it down. The figure is very much the same as the man in the famous 1818 painting by Caspar David Friederich, ‘Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog’….
All that rambling was to say how clearly the cover image captured the book for me, then as now. It’s a narrative illustration that faithfully serves and dramatises the story. (The typography is understated.) I think it’s a strength that the image is literal rather than subtly allusive. The crude, kitschy style and diagrammatic, trope-mongering composition ticks all the boxes for that period of SF, not only representing the story but also operating as a high impact signifier of SFness….
(2) F&SF. Thanks to Gordon Van Gelder, here is The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction’s March-April 2023 cover art by Jill Bauman.
(3) TAFF BALLOT CONCERN. North American TAFF Administrator Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey drew attention to a mail delivery issue that affected one person he knows about – were there any others?
I got an e-mail asking if we’d moved, because a TAFF ballot had been returned as “Moved/Left No Forwarding”!
I just talked to our post office branch. Our regular letter carrier is out on medical leave, and apparently whoever has been filling in for him thought that because the house we have lived in since 1979 is not as expensively maintained as some of the other homes in our gentrified neighborhood, we must have moved out. The PO branch says they will be addressing this.
The official ballot for the 2023 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund race [PDF file] is at the link. Fans have until April 11, 2023 at 23:59 Pacific / -7 UTC to vote.
(4) USEFUL PLAGUES FOR WRITERS. Steven Popkes has a fasincating, detail-filled set of “Notes on the Plagues in SF Arisia Panel” at Book View Café.
Includes a bonus set of comments about the “10 scariest plagues from sci-fi and fantasy” ranked at Fansided.
(5) NYC FANDOM FIFTY YEARS AGO. Fanac.org has made available a video of yesterday’s fanhistorical Zoom discussion “New York Fandom in the 70s (Pt 1)- Moshe Feder, Jerry Kaufman, Andy Porter, and Steve Rosenstein”.
The story of New York fandom is fascinating, from its Worldcon in the 60s to fragmentation and multiple fannish groups in the 70s. In this 2023 Zoom recording, ably moderated by FANAC chair Joe Siclari, our panelists provide a fond and anecdotal recounting of their decades of experience in New York fandom. In this part 1 (of 2) you’ll hear how they came into fandom (including the value of having a big name pro last name), the true meaning of Kratophany, and what the Avocado Pit really was. There’s background on the many NY clubs of the era from Fanoclasts to Fistfa to Lunarians and SFFSAQC (this last founded by one of our speakers). There are personal anecdotes of Isaac Asimov, and the lengths that Jack Chalker went to in order to attend Lunarians while living in Baltimore.
This video has plenty more – from the questionable respectability of the NYU club to why Moshe was cautioned not to sing along to “The Music Man” on Broadway to the first live fanzine, Spanish Inquisition and Stu Shiffman’s exquisite mastery of on-stencil art. These are stories that really convey what it was like to be a fan in the 70s.
(6) SUPER BOWL TRAILER RELEASES. These movie trailers were tailored for airing during yesterday’s Super Bowl broadcast.
The Flash: Opens in North America on June 16.
Worlds collide in “The Flash” when Barry uses his superpowers to travel back in time in order to change the events of the past. But when his attempt to save his family inadvertently alters the future, Barry becomes trapped in a reality in which General Zod has returned, threatening annihilation, and there are no Super Heroes to turn to. That is, unless Barry can coax a very different Batman out of retirement and rescue an imprisoned Kryptonian… albeit not the one he’s looking for. Ultimately, to save the world that he is in and return to the future that he knows, Barry’s only hope is to race for his life. But will making the ultimate sacrifice be enough to reset the universe?
Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, written and directed by James Gunn, comes to theaters May 5.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves “Big Game Spot”
I know a thing or two about games that last many hours… Watch the #DnDMovie Big Game spot ahead of Sunday! Only in theatres March 31. A charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers undertake an epic heist to retrieve a lost relic, but things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves brings the rich world and playful spirit of the legendary roleplaying game to the big screen in a hilarious and action-packed adventure.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts x Porsche “Big Game Spot”
The name’s Mirage. A new Autobot makes his debut as a legendary Porsche 911 Carrera RS 3.8 in #Transformers: #RiseOfTheBeasts, in theatres June 9. Returning to the action and spectacle that have captured moviegoers around the world, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts will take audiences on a ‘90s globetrotting adventure and introduce the Maximals, Predacons, and Terrorcons to the existing battle on earth between Autobots and Decepticons. Directed by Steven Caple Jr. and starring Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback, the film arrives in theatres June 9, 2023.
65 million years ago, BIG GAME meant something very different. 65 hours before kickoff, get an exclusive early look at the #65movie Big Game spot. Exclusively in movie theaters March 10.
This Summer, a legend will face his destiny. Harrison Ford returns in #IndianaJones and the Dial of Destiny in theaters June 30.
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1952 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Clifford Simak’s City is by far my favorite work by him. It was published in 1952 by Gnome Press with the cover art with the cover art by Frank Kelly Freas.
It would win one of seven Awards given out by the groups that did the International Fantasy Award.
Why this patch up novel? Because he centered it on canines given speech by human who departed to the stars so long that they became just history and then became legend and that turned myth. The uplifted dogs now tell stories of the humans who they’re not sure were actually real.
See no spoilers really. If there’s a few souls here who’ve not read it, go forth and get a copy now.
This novel started out as separate stories in Astounding Science Fiction, May 1944 issue, has much to recommend itself. I won’t say it is all sweetness as it’s not, Simak goes fairly dark at times as he’s interested in the nature of violence here
And now our Beginning…
These are the stories that the Dogs tell when the fires burn high and the wind is from the north. Then each family circle gathers at the hearthstone and the pups sit silently and listen and when the story’s done they ask many questions:
“What is Man?” they’ll ask.
Or perhaps: “What is a city?”
Or: “What is a war?”
There is no positive answer to any of these questions.
There are suppositions and there are theories and there are many educated guesses, but there are no answers.
In a family circle, many a storyteller has been forced to fall back on the ancient explanation that it is nothing but a story, there is no such thing as a Man or city, that one does not search for truth in a simple tale, but takes it for its pleasure and lets it go at that.
Explanations such as these, while they may do to answer pups, are no explanations. One does search for truth in such simple tales as these.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born February 13, 1908 — Patrick Barr. He appeared in Doctor Who as Hobson in the Second Doctor story, “The Moonbase”, in the Seventies Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) “You Can Always Find a Fall Guy” episode, and appeared once in The Avengers as Stonehouse in the “Take me to Your Leader” episode. His last genre role was as the British Ambassador in Octopussy. (Died 1985.)
- Born February 13, 1932 — Susan Oliver. She shows up in the original Trek pilot, “The Cage” as Vina, the Orion slave girl. She had a number of one-offs in genre television including Wild Wild West, Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Tarzan, The Invaders, Night Gallery and Freddy’s Nightmares. (Died 1990.)
- Born February 13, 1933 — Patrick Godfrey, 90. His very first acting was as Tor in a First Doctor story, “The Savages. He’d be in a Third Doctor story, “Mind of Evil”, as Major Cotsworth. His last two acting roles have both been genre — one being the voice of a Wolf Elder in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle; the other Butler in His Dark Materials.
- Born February 13, 1938 — Oliver Reed. He first shows up in a genre film uncredited in The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll with his first credited role being Leon in The Curse of the Werewolf. He was King in The Damned, an SF despite its title, and Z.P.G. saw him cast as Russ McNeil. Next up was him as Athos in the very charming Three Musketeers, a role he reprised in Four Musketeers and Return of the Musketeers. Does Royal Flash count as genre? Kage Baker loved that rogue. Kage also loved The Adventures of Baron Munchausen in which he played Vulcan. Orpheus & Eurydice has him as Narrator, his final film role. (Died 1999.)
- Born February 13, 1959 — Maureen F. McHugh, 64. Her first novel, China Mountain Zhang was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula Award, and won the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. Her other novels are Half the Day Is Night, Mission Child and Nekropolis. She has an impressive array of short stories. “The Lincoln Train” won a Hugo for Best Story at L.A. Con III.
- Born February 13, 1960 — Matt Salinger, 63. Captain America in the 1990 Yugoslavian film of that name which was directed by Albert Pyun as written by Stephen Tolkin and Lawrence J. Block, the well known mystery writer. It’s got a 16% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes which matches what critics thought of it. As near as I can tell this is only genre role.
- Born February 13, 1961 — Henry Rollins, 62. Musician and actor of interest to me for his repeated use in the DC Universe as a voice actor, first on Batman Beyond as Mad Stan the bomber, also as Benjamin Knox / Bonk in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, then on Teen Titans as Johnny Rancid and finally, or least to date, voicing Robot Man in the “The Last Patrol!” of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. I’d be remiss not to note he’s Spider in Johnny Mnemonic, and in Green Lantern: Emerald Knights as the voice of Kilowog.
(9) A HALF CENTURY OF SPIDER-MAN. Marvel promises it will be “The Most Shocking Issue of Amazing Spider-Man In 50 Years”. Will part of the shock will come from it actually being two issues?
This May, Zeb Wells and John Romita Jr.’s run of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN reaches a startling unexpected climax and conclusion of its first year! Don’t miss two over-sized, monumental AMAZING SPIDER-MAN issues with #25 and the heartbreaking #26!
Number 25 releases on May 10, with number 26 following on May 31.
(10) HAVE MORE FAITH IN ALIENS. [Item by Chris Barkley.] Here’s the thing; an sf fan will tell you that aliens are too smart and too fast to be shot down. C’mon Man!!!!! “US general refuses to rule out aliens after third suspicious flying object is shot down by the military over its airspace” at MSN.com.
A top US Air Force general said that he was not ruling out the possibility that flying objects shot down over North America could have been aliens.
General Glen VanHerck, the commander who oversees North American airspace, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing Sunday that he wasn’t ruling out extra terrestrials or any other explanation for the objects, and was deferring to US intelligence. …
At moments like this you wonder if there is any US intelligence.
(11) WHEN 2 IS A PRIME NUMBER. The Wrap signal boosts news that “’The Peripheral’ Scores Season 2 Renewal at Prime Video”.
“The Peripheral,” the sci-fi drama starring Chloë Grace Moretz, has been renewed for a second season at Prime Video.
Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by William Gibson, the series hails from “Westworld” creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan’s Kilter Films banner, which is under an overall deal at Amazon Studios….
(12) THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING PURPLE. “Barney franchise getting relaunched with film, animated series, and more” reports Yahoo! It’s fascinating that Yahoo! finds a way to draw a connecting line between Barney and Nope.
Get ready to have “I love you, you love me” stuck in your head all over again.
The iconic purple dinosaur Barney, who rose to prominence in the ’90s with the hit television show Barney & Friends — which famously encouraged kids to be kind and optimistic while simultaneously haunting their parents’ dreams — is officially getting relaunched later this year.
… Further details about the film plans weren’t immediately available, but in 2019 it was announced that Mattel had a live-action Barney movie in the works with Nope star Daniel Kaluuya set to produce. It remains to be seen how those plans might factor in with this relaunch…
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day by Jayn.]