(1) TWITTER CONTINUES TO HEMORRHAGE. John Scalzi reports that he has been losing Twitter followers since people began shutting down their accounts after Musk took over — and that the number immediately dropped by several hundred when Musk announced Trump could have his account back. Scalzi now has tweeted this summary for the last month.
(2) MAJOR PUBLISHER MERGER NOW IMPROBABLE. Publishers Weekly anticipates that “PRH, S&S Deal Likely Dead”.
With the deadline to appeal Judge Florence Pan’s October 31 decision closing in, reports from multiple media sources say that Simon & Schuster parent company Paramount Global has decided not to extend its purchase agreement, putting the sale to Penguin Random House close to collapse. Without an extension of the purchase agreement, which is reportedly set to expire on Tuesday, an appeal would be virtually impossible, and S&S would likely go back on the market.
Paramount’s decision to forego an appeal doesn’t come as a surprise. Immediately after Pan’s decision came down in late October, sources were pointing out that an appeal could only be made if Paramount agreed, and while PRH CEO Markus Dohle wanted to move ahead, he acknowledged that PRH and parent company Bertelsmann were talking to Paramount executives about “next steps.”
Representatives at PRH and S&S had no comment on the reports this morning.
If the deal is indeed dead, Paramount is entitled to a roughly $200 million breakup fee, something that makes ending the legal fight much more attractive to Paramount than PRH. Even the expedited appeal that PRH is seeking could take as long as nine months to be heard and would further prolong the process of finding a new home for S&S, especially if the appeal was denied and Paramount would need to revive the acquisition process….
(3) SEASON’S READINGS. “Bill Gates’ 2022 holiday book list: From ‘Team of Rivals’ to Bono” at CNBC.
This holiday season, billionaire Bill Gates is gifting you a list of five books to read while you’re hopefully enjoying some much-deserved downtime.
Gates, a voracious reader who reads at least 50 books each year, regularly releases lists of the best books he’s read each year — alongside seasonal recommendations for holiday books and summer beach reads….
There’s a reason this Heinlein novel is one of them.
‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ by Robert Heinlein
This 1961 sci-fi classic holds a special place in Gates’ memory.
“I met Paul [Allen] around [that] time, and we got to know each other by talking about sci-fi,” Gates wrote of his late friend and Microsoft co-founder. “I thought I had read a lot of it, but Paul way outdid me.”
“Stranger in a Strange Land” — Gates’ favorite sci-fi book from his youth, he noted — is the story of a human who was raised on Mars, by Martians. The young man travels to a futuristic Earth, where he struggles to understand human concepts of religion and war.
“I love sci-fi that pushes your thinking about what’s possible in the future,” Gates wrote, noting that Heinlein’s book correctly predicted some aspects of the future at the time, including “hippie culture” and waterbeds.
“He also does the classic sci-fi thing of using an obviously fictional setting to ask profound questions about human nature,” Gates added.
(4) HOMES WORTHY OF A SAGA. Architectural Digest invites you to admire “15 Whimsical Fairytale Houses Around the World”.
From a Beverly Hills home to a 500-year-old thatched roof cottage, don’t be surprised if you find Snow White answering the door at one of these properties…
Wow, this may be in my general area but it is news to me!
Culver City, California
If the lopsided roof, stone façade, and odd-shaped window alone didn’t make this home look like it came straight out of children’s book, then the small pond surely seals the deal. Designed by Lawrence Joseph, an ex-Disney studio artist, the home is actually located in a development in Culver City known as The Hobbit Houses of Los Angeles. Built over some 20 years, the community holds a collection of whimsical storybook homes.
(5) WORLD ENDS, FILM AT ELEVEN. CBR.com admires these “10 Best Movies About The End Of The World”.
…Frequent topics covered in apocalyptic films include zombie attacks, virus outbreaks, natural disasters, alien invasions, and nuclear holocausts. Some apocalyptic films are produced solely for their entertainment value, while others encapsulate the chaotic nature of their respective eras. Many of the greatest films of all time revolve around the destruction of human existence….
The list begins with a film with a growing reputation:
10/10 Train To Busan Is One Of The All-Time Great Zombie Movies
Train to Busan is a South Korean action horror film that predominantly takes place on a high-speed train as a group of passengers attempts to survive a zombie apocalypse. Historically, zombies have been portrayed as lumbering creatures; however, in Train to Busan, the zombies are highly aggressive and move with lightning quickness.
Train to Busan was a massive box-office success, becoming the highest-grossing film of the year in South Korea and the all-time highest-grossing Korean film in several Asian countries. The film has been praised for its thrilling entertainment value as well as its social commentary on class warfare.
(6) MEMORY LANE.
2012 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Rise of the Guardians
On this day a decade ago, The Rise Of The Guardians enjoyed its premiere. It is quite possibly my favorite holiday film, though Scrooged and The Polar Express are also on the list as well.
It was directed by Peter Ramsey and produced by Christina Steinberg and Nancy Bernstein from a screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire. It was based on William Joyce’s The Guardians of Childhood series,
OK, IT IS TIME FOR A CUP OF HOT CHOCOLATE PREPARED BY THE STEWARDS OFVTHE POLAR EXPRESS. COME BACK AFTER WE HAVE TOLD THE STORY OF THIS FILM.
The Guardians of Childhood series was a mystical epic of mythological characters fighting darkness to protect childhood dreams. It made very good source material for that aforementioned screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire in which Jack Frost awakens from a very long nap under the ice with his memory gone to discover everyone has forgotten him.
Meanwhile at the North Pole (splendidly realized here), the Man in the Moon warns Nicholas St. North that Pitch Black (who look a lot Mr. Dark in Bill Willingham’s Fables series) is threatening the children of the world with his nightmares.
He calls E. Aster Bunnymund, the Sandman, and the Tooth Fairy to arms. Each of these is a wonderfully realized character as the Man in the Moon and Nicholas St. North.
A series of truly epic battles to defeat Pitch Black follows lest all the children of the world are permanently beset with nightmares. He is defeated when his own Nightmares sensing he has grown weak drag him down into the Underworld.
DID YOU ENJOY THAT HOT CHOCOLATE? GOOD, COME ON BACK.
The feature starred the voice talents of Hugh Jackman, Jude Law and Isla Fisher among others. I think it was a stellar voice cast and the animation was splendid. I’ve rewatched it several times, and the Suck Fairy retreats whimpering that it’s too sweet for her to mess with.
It did exceedingly well at the box office taking in over three hundred million on a budget of one hundred and thirty million, and most critics at least grudgingly admit to liking it. (Children’s films are hard on critics.) The audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes is very healthy eighty percent.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born November 21, 1924 — Christopher Tolkien. He drew the original maps for the LoTR. He provided much of the feedback on both the Hobbit and LoTR. His father invited him to join the Inklings when he was just twenty-one years old, making him the youngest member of that group. Suffice it to say that the list is long of his father’s unfinished works that he has edited and brought to published form. (Died 2020.)
- Born November 21, 1941 — Ellen Asher, 81. Editor who introduced many fans to their favorites, as editor-in-chief of the Science Fiction Book Club (SFBC) for thirty-four years, from 1973 to 2007 (exceeding John W. Campbell’s record as the person with the longest tenure in the same science fiction job). She was personally responsible for selecting the monthly offerings to subscribers, and oversaw the selection of individual works for their special anthologies and omnibuses. She has been honored with a World Fantasy Special Award and an Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction. In 2009, she was given a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and she was Editor Guest of Honor at Renovation.
- Born November 21, 1945 — Vincent Di Fate, 77. Artist and Illustrator who has done many SFF book covers and interior illustrations since his work first appeared in the pages of Analog in 1965. He was one of the founders of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA), and is a past president. In addition to his Chesley Award trophy and 7 nominations, he has been a finalist for the Professional Artist Hugo 11 times, winning once; two collections of his artwork, Infinite Worlds: The Fantastic Visions of Science Fiction Art and Di Fate’s Catalog of Science Fiction Hardware, have been Hugo finalists as well. He was Artist Guest of Honor at the 1992 Worldcon, for which he organized their Art Retrospective exhibit. He was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2011. You can see galleries of his works at his website.
- Born November 21, 1946 — Tom Veal, 76. He’s a con-running fan who chaired Chicon 2000. He was a member of the Seattle in 1981 Worldcon bid committee. He chaired Windycon X. In 2016 he married fellow fan Becky Thomson. And he wrote the “1995 Moskva 1995: Igor’s Campaign“ which was published in Alternate Worldcons and Again, Alternate Worldcons as edited by Mike Resnick.
- Born November 21, 1950 — Evelyn C. Leeper, 72. Writer, Editor, Critic, and Fan, who is especially known for her decades of detailed convention reports and travelogues. A voracious reader, she has also posted many book reviews. She and her husband Mark founded the Mt. Holz Science Fiction Club at Bell Labs in New Jersey (Mt = abbreviation for the labs’ Middletown facility), and have produced their weekly fanzine, the MT VOID (“empty void”), since 1978. She was a judge for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History for 20 years. She has been a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twelve times, and Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a Windycon. (JJ)
- Born November 21, 1953 — Lisa Goldstein, 69. Writer, Fan, and Filer whose debut novel, The Red Magician, was so strong that she was a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer two years in a row. Her short fiction has garnered an array of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominations, as well as a Sidewise Award. The short story “Cassandra’s Photographs” was a Hugo and Nebula finalist and “Alfred” was a World Fantasy and Nebula finalist; both can be found in her collection Travellers in Magic. Her novel The Uncertain Places won a Mythopoeic Award. You can read about her work in progress, her reviews of others’ stories, and other thoughts at her blog. (JJ)
- Born November 21, 1965 — Björk, 57. Who bears the lovely full name of Björk Guðmundsdóttir. I like Icelandic. And I’ve got boots of her band somewhere here I think. She’s here for The Juniper Tree which is a 1990 Icelandic film directed and written by Nietzchka Keene which is based on “The Juniper Tree” tale that was collected by the Brothers Grimm. She’s one of five performers in it. Oh, and because her last album Utopia explored that concept even using cryptocurrency as part of the purchase process.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Macanudo has an idea about how to train your dragon that I never saw in a movie.
(9) JUST BEFORE THE HEAT DEATH OF THE UNIVERSE? “When Will the MCU End? Marvel Studios Exec Gives Honest Answer” at The Direct.
…During an interview on The Town with Matthew Belloni, Marvel Studios VP of Production & Development Nate Moore addressed how long the Marvel Cinematic Universe could potentially run.
When asked if there’s an end in sight, Moore admitted that the team “can’t sit back on (their) laurels,” noting a need to keep pushing the limits of what the genre and the franchise can do. But, in the end, he does feel like the MCU could continue for “a long time:”…
(10) FIREPOWER. Marvel didn’t get there first. CBR.com explains: “A Forgotten Will Eisner Creation was the First Fire-Themed Superhero”.
…Before Eisner achieved immense success with his groundbreaking character, the Spirit, the now legendary comic book writer was hired by Fox Feature Comics to help capitalize on the recent popularity of the superhero genre spearheaded by the arrival of Superman in 1938. After a failed attempt to replicate the Superman style with his character Wonder Man in the May of 1939, Eisner created one of the first superheroes to have a fire-based gimmick in the form of ‘The Flame’ in July that same year, actually predating the first appearance of Human Torch in Marvel Mystery Comics #1 (by Carl Burgos, Paul Gustavson, and Bill Everett)….
(11) TAKING THE BARK OFF OF THEM. Did you wonder what happened to the Puppies? Well, pretend you did, because Steve J. Wright has answered the question by setting clever new lyrics to a Noel Coward tune, which he titles “I Don’t Care what Happens to Him”. Here’s the opening verse.
The Puppies that one’s read about
That Fandom lost its head about
Have fallen from the spotlight to the darkness whence they came.
Though individual Puppies moan and whine
Their prose is not
As hot as they might claim.
They never, ever managed yet,
Their plan to cause a big upset,
And now they must content themselves to play the hand they’re dealt….
(12) IANNUCCI Q&A. Armando Iannucci on ADHD, Avenue 5 and how human poop would make a good shield against radiation in space: “Armando Iannucci: ‘I have ADHD, which explains why I can only work to deadlines’” in the Guardian.
It’s become a cliche that “politics is beyond satire”. Do you believe that?
No, it’s how you approach it. If you try to dramatise current events, it will quickly date. Nowadays, the news moves faster than the last season of Game of Thrones. So either you get fast turnaround satire on social media – Cassetteboy, Led By Donkeys, Rosie Holt’s spoof Tory MP or Michael Spicer’s The Room Next Door, which are all great – or the more considered, analytical style of John Oliver. Not so much looking at what happened today but where it fits in. Framing the joke and giving it context. That influenced my thought process on Avenue 5 – it’s about going forward in time and away from the planet, then looking at it again from a wider perspective.
(13) ZOMBIE PITCHMAN. John King Tarpinian says, “The Walking Dead series finale was just so-so. But the commercials were hilarious.” The Drum has two of them. “Gareth’s Back! 5 Ads Resurrect Infamous Undead Characters During The Walking Dead Finale”.
After 11 seasons, 177 episodes and 12 years, AMC’s The Walking Dead came to an end last night.
To commemorate the momentous occasion, Ryan Reynolds’ creative agency Maximum Effort, AMC Network’s Content Room and Kimmelot’s Dan Sanborn devised a five-spot campaign that aired during the finale. The series of spots for Autodesk, Deloitte, DoorDash, MNTN and Ring bring back four characters who died throughout the series’ 12-year run….
Here’s one example. Another is at the link.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Steven French, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]