(1) NOVIK SPEAKS OUT FOR FANFIC. In “Freed From Copyright, These Classic Works Are Yours To Adapt”, NPR discusses works newly entering public domain, and the writerly impulse to appropriate or retell stories.
A large body of films, music, and books from that year entered the public domain on Jan. 1, the first time that’s happened in 20 years. And that means they can be used according to the will of new creators who wish to adopt or adapt them.
…Those lengthy copyrights can be a barrier to the creation of new art. “Copyright has been overextended so many times, largely at the behest of major copyright holders,” says author Naomi Novik. “Even though what that actually does is inhibit people from creating new works and sharing these older works.” Novik is a founding member of the Organization for Transformative Works, a nonprofit that focuses on preserving fan fiction and art — that is, work created by fans, based on characters and worlds from their favorite written works, film, and TV, which can occasionally come into conflict with copyright law.
… Novik says that the impulse to re-imagine art is innate. “That kind of process of imagination is just something that our brains do. It doesn’t matter what law you put around it, our brains are still going to do it,” she says.
Inevitably, the spring of adaptations will bring about bad versions of these classic works. As Blake Hazard, great-granddaughter of F. Scott Fitzgerald, told The New York Times, “I hope people maybe will be energized to do something original with the work, but of course the fear is that there will be some degradation of the text.”
Miller, who adapted Homer, does worry about the possibility of betraying the texts. But as she was working on Circe, she says, “I came to the understanding that I can’t hurt Homer. He’s fine. Whatever I do, that’s just my response to him. But the original text will be just fine.”
(2) DEAMERICANIZING THE HUGOS. Australian writer T.R. Napper wants to broaden the meaning of diversity: “The Hugos: Putting the World into WorldCon”.
It’s time to put the world into WorldCon. Time to include geography and national culture in the definition of diversity. Past time.
This here is just a discussion in good faith. Remember those? There’s no outrage; no political side. All I’m saying is this: historically, the winner of the Hugo for best novel has been from the US, 82% of the time. If we take just the past five years (2014 – 2018) Americans have been nominated 90% of the time (27/30) and won 90% (the latter number comes from Ken Liu (as translator) sharing the award with Cixin Liu for The Three-Body Problem). For the Nebulas – while not related to WorldCon directly, still reflective of what is happening in the genre – the picture is worse: US writers have been nominated 91% of the time (30/34) and won 100%….
Of course, right in the sweet spot of Napper’s 5-year sample are three years deeply affected by Sad/Rabid Puppy slate voting. Diversity of all kinds suffered in those years. What happens if I go back and pick my own sample – say, the year 2010? The Worldcon was in Australia, and the five Best Novel nominees included two Canadians and a Brit – 60% — leaving Americans at only 40%. Or 2009 when it was in Montreal – the five nominees included two Brits – 40% — and Americans were 60%.
And are people really expected to stop thinking that diversity looks like N.K. Jemisin’s three-year run, an unmatched achievement, and dismiss it as just another bunch of Hugos predictably won by an American writer?
The remainder of Napper’s post is a suggested reading list of international novels, a positive contribution, and always in order.
Unfortunately, the next part of being constructive is putting up a list of potential novels and short stories to read. This is why outrage is so much easier than informed discussion: it doesn’t come with so much fucking homework.
But I’ve done my homework. I’ve talked to editors and writers from Australia, Zimbabwe, the UK, New Zealand, Singapore, and – yes – the United States. And I’ve come up with a list. It’s not a comprehensive one. I don’t have that sort of time, and I wouldn’t want it to be. A comprehensive list would be so eye-rollingly long the reader would have no idea where to start. And any such claim to completeness would be immediately debunked. I’m not aiming for perfection or quantity.
Also note that none of these are my nominations (yet). I will add my own to the list over the next few weeks as I get my reading done. I have two I’d like to include from my reading as Aurealis judge, though unfortunately I cannot divulge those until the awards are announced.
All these caveats aside, I present to you a flawed and partial list of stories that entirely reasonable humans from all across the world have recommended. Which is about as good as it gets…
(3) EX NIHILIS. Popular Science explains “Zero is just 1,500 years old. Before it, there was nothing.”
Accounting is an ancient profession. Sumer, the earliest known Mesopotamian civilization, had a positional numbering system, so there was no need for placeholders. A subsequent empire, Babylon, had different demands, so its number-crunching class used two empty wedges to represent a sum like 507. Across the world, the Mayan civilization came up with its own solution to a similar problem, placing a shell where modern mathematicians might place a 0. Some experts argue these wedges are ground zero, to borrow a phrase, but most academics attribute the invention of zero as a number—not as a warm body but a symbol in its own right, one that can be used in equations—to India.
(4) GENTLEMEN, BE SEATED. Now that Camestros Felapton has excused himself from the Hugo race, he knows it’s safe to resume writing hilarious stuff like “Other Revised Canon Aspects of Poo”, which would have increased his risks of winning one. Where are we going with this? Well, here’s the premise, with his second example
The other day J.K.Rowling’s Pottermore revealed that Hogwarts was originally built without toilets because wizards just pooped anyway and then magicked it away. Below are other poo related details about other franchises that you might not know….
Star Wars: there are no bathrooms in Star Wars but there are small toilet robots who follow you around waiting for you to do your business and clean it up. That’s what those little boxy droids are.
(5) EINSTEIN OBIT. The actor known as Super Dave Osborne died January 2. Mark Evanier paid tribute in “Bob Einstein, R.I.P.” —
[His work included a] long run as the self-immolating daredevil Super Dave Osborne. You never knew what daring feat Super Dave would attempt; only that at the end of it, he would meet some fate previously met by Wile E. Coyote.
GIMBEL OBIT. Lyricist Norman Gimbel died December 19. His Washington Post obit, “Norman Gimbel, Oscar-winning lyricist of ‘Happy Days’ theme and ‘Girl From Ipanema,’ dies at 91”, notes that “The Girl from Ipanema” was written for a science fiction musical in Brazil, to answer the musical question “Why is an alien hanging around in Brazil?” Gimbel also wrote the lyrics for the 1970s Wonder Woman theme.
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- January 5, 1950 — The Flying Saucer opened in theaters.
- January 5, 1951 — Two Lost Worlds premiered…with dinosaurs in Australia.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born January 5, 1914 – George Reeves. Best known for his role as the title role in The Adventures of Superman and several associated films. I remember the show fondly from much later syndication and thought that both the acting and stories were well done. He also played the lead role in The Adventures of Sir Galahad and was Mike Patton in The Jungle Goddess. He was in a fair number of series as well but I can’t determine if any of them were genre. (Died 1959.)
- Born January 5, 1929 – Russ Manning. An artist who created and drew the Gold Key comic book character Magnus: Robot Fighter; who drew the Tarzan comic book from 1965 – 1969 and the Tarzan newspaper comic strip from 1967 – 1972; and the Star Wars newspaper strip from 1979 – 1980. (Credit to Bill here at File 770 for this Birthday.) (Died 1981.)
- Born January 5, 1941 – Hayao Miyazaki, 78. A masterful storyteller who chose animation as his medium. He co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985 and has directed some of the best loved films of all time. His films include the Oscar winning film Spirited Away, My Neighbor Tortoro, and adapting the classic novel Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones for the big screen. (Thanks to Matt Russell for this Birthday.)
- Born January 5, 1959 – Clancy Brown, 60. I first encountered him as the voice of Lex Luthor In the DC animated universe. All of his voice roles are far too extensive to list here, but I’ll single out his work as Savage Opress, Count Dooku’s new apprentice and Darth Maul’s brother, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Very selected live roles include Rawhide in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The Kurgan In Highlander, Sheriff Gus Gilbert in Pet Sematary Two, Captain Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, Sgt. Charles Zim In Starship Troopers and, one of favorite weird series, Brother Justin Crowe in Carnivàle.
- Born January 5, 1978 – January Jones, 41. Emma Frost In X-Men: First Class is her only film role to dates but earlier when searching the net I did find her in The Last Man on Earth which is, and I quote, “an American post-apocalyptic comedy television series.” Anyone seen this?
- Born January 5, 1978 – Seanan McGuire, 41. Ahhhh one of my favorite writers. I just finished listening to The Girl in the Green Silk Gown which was quite excellent and earlier I’d read her Chaos Choreography, both of her Indexing books which are beyond amazing and, God what else?, the Wayward Children series which I’ve mixed feelings about. I did read at a few of the first October Daye novels but they didn’t tickle my fancy. I’ve not read her Mira Grant work so do advise on how it is.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Not quite the three laws, at Carpe Diem.
(9) BORG LICENSE REVOKED. A Canadian Star Trek fan is going to court after the government insurance company revoked his “ASIMIL8” license plate, that he got because he likes the Borg, and had a frame that added the tag “Resistance is Futile.” The term was considered insulting to First Nations people, who have often been asked to assimilate to settler culture. The Edmonton Journal has the story — “’Obviously inappropriate:’ Insurer says ASIMIL8 plate shouldn’t have been issued”.
In a recently filed legal brief, Troller explained that he drove around with the plate for nearly two years and no one complained. He renewed it with MPI in 2016 without issue.
An Ontario woman posted a photo of the licence plate on Facebook on April 22, 2017. Court filings show a transcript of a call she made to MPI in which she said the plate was offensive because of the history of government assimilation policies.
Not all plate requests go sailing through:
The documents include a 47-page list of licence plates that were denied by MPI. They include BITE ME, VINO, MMMBEER, SKODEN, HYZNBRG, HOLYCOW, PWALKER and 50 GREY.
A man in Nova Scotia has also gone to court over a personalized licence plate. Lorne Grabher has been trying to reinstate his “GRABHER” plate since it was revoked in 2016 by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles following an anonymous complaint.
(10) DOWNWIND FROM HOLLYWOOD. Just became aware of this fine blog entry published last year by Kip W: “Classical Gas”. Examples at the link.
The Disney corporation, ever sensitive to the winds of change, and (since at least the 1950s) ever willing to recut their old products up for present-day sensibilities, determined to get out on the cutting edge of kid appeal by folding flatulence humor into their classic releases. Leaked memo from 2008 reveals some of the specific ideas explored…
(11) IT’S A STING. Jalopnik: “You Can Buy All Four Bumblebee Camaros From Transformers, but They’re Not Street Legal”.
Perhaps you’ve seen a Transformers movie, or two, or six, in the past 11 years. (Google says there are six now.) Perhaps you’ve liked them, even, to the point that you’ve dreamed of one day owning the sporty, automatic stunt cars that turn into robots on the big screen. Now’s your chance to own four.
There’s one big catch, though: All four of the vehicles will come with a scrap title and none of them will be street legal. There go your carpool plans for the next Transformers movie premiere. Darn.
Barrett-Jackson is auctioning off four Transformers movie cars as a package deal in Scottsdale, Arizona later this month—all four of them black-and-yellow Chevrolet Camaros representing the robot character Bumblebee, who (which?) recently starred in an unnecessarily sexy movie of his (its?) namesake. Money from the Camaros’ auction will go to charity, and the person who wins will get a 2010 model from the first and second movies, a 2010 model from the third movie, a 2013 model from the fourth movie and a 2016 one from the fifth movie
(12) IS THIS WHAT SCIENCE IS FOR? Here’s another thing that’s coming – “Buttered Popcorn Oreos Are in the Works, and TBH, I Don’t Know What to Feel”.
We’re less than a week into the new year, and we already have a handful of new Oreo flavors to fuel us through 2019. As if the news of flavors like Carrot Cake and Dark Chocolate haven’t been enough to pique your interest, perhaps the rumors of Oreo’s latest out-of-the-box offering, Buttered Popcorn, will do the trick.
(13) HOW’S THEIR SFF SECTION? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The National Geographic website seems pretty certain that, “This is the world’s most beautiful bookstore.” Given that it was converted from a rather splendid theater, the Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore certainly had a leg up in achieving that appellation.
On a bustling commercial street in the fashionable Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, you can visit a serene temple of books. The lighting is soft, with accents that showcase the best in early 20th-century craftsmanship. Conversations are hushed, as if in a grand library, yet the space is so warm and welcoming that the raised café at the back of the cavernous room is filled with patrons reading and sipping cappuccinos and chocolate submarinos.
You’ve entered the Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore, which blogs and guidebooks often dub “the world’s most beautiful bookstore.” They may not be wrong. The sprawling shop is housed in a beautifully preserved antique theater. Only instead of tango dancers and singers, the stars are now the printed word.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Onion knows many claim success using other ways — but this really works: “Increase Your Cognitive Ability By Reading A Fucking Book For Once”.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Olav Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Joel Zakem, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]