These are physical books, not ebooks, and are offered at a fixed price, not as free downloads.
Ted White became active in SF fandom in the Fifties, won the Best Fan Writer Hugo in 1968, and was a guest of honor at the 1985 Worldcon, Aussiecon II. He has written over a dozen sf novels as well as many short stories, and edited a number of U.S magazines, including Amazing Stories and Fantastic from 1969 to 1979.
Ansible Editions is proud to present Ted’s collected editorials and book reviews from his years with both these magazines.
From the Foreword to The Fantastic Editorials by Ted White
I had dreamed, since my early adolescence, of editing my own professional sf magazine (or “prozine”), and my inspiration – at least for my editorial presence in one – was Ray Palmer, during his early Other Worlds editorship, in the early ’50s. What I liked about Palmer was his willingness to talk directly to his readers and to share with them his ideas and aspirations. He put himself into his magazine, not only in his editorials but also in his sometimes long responses to letters in the letter column. I appreciated that. It sucked me in and made me identify with Other Worlds. So I wanted to do that with Fantastic.
From the Introduction to The Amazing Editorials by Mike Ashley
A magazine isn’t the same as a book, leastways, a very good magazine isn’t. The big difference between a good book and a good magazine is that the magazine has a personality. That personality may in part be a product of the contributors but its chiefly created by the editor – and of an editor who loves what they’re doing.
That’s what made Ted White such a good editor. He was at heart a fan – he’d won a Hugo Award as Best Fan Writer in 1968 – and a die-hard fan knows what other fans want, even if at times he has to tell them what they want. Ted was known for his fan columns both before and after his editorship of Amazing Stories and Fantastic and he never fought shy of an argument if he felt he had a valid point. He was no stranger to controversy and he could not avoid being controversial in his role as editor for publisher Sol Cohen, as some of these editorials reveal.
GET THE INSIDE STORY. The above photograph of Ted White is taken from the back cover of his friend Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle (1965 Penguin UK paperback) – Dick had deliberately sent this picture as a joke. The full story is told in The Amazing Editorials.
ORDER TODAY! In US dollars, The Amazing Editorials paperback is $16.50. The Fantastic Editorials paperback is $16.00 Each is a print on demand book from Lulu.
By Susan de Guardiola: Earlier this year, Harvard’s Houghton Library (their rare book depository) put on an exhibit on self-publishing which, among many other interesting zines, featured a few sfnal ones. Apparently Harvard alumnus Paul Clarkson ’57 was a fan and left his collection to the university. Among the fanzines in the exhibit was one by Ted White that is not in the Fancyclopedia.
Apologies for the weird angles; all the cases were directly under fancy chandeliers which made it hard to get photos without reflections.
If anyone is interested in viewing the collection, I read regularly at Houghton and can help them through the procedures. Seems like some fanhistorian ought to dig into this, if it hasn’t already been done.
That’s what was printed on a button which was handed out to attendees of the 2002 Capclave convention. It was the second Capclave; the previous year the convention had debuted as a successor to Disclave, which had passed from existence following the notorious ‘Disclave flood’ incident of 1997 (and there are abundant details if you do a Google search). The first Capclave had taken place just a few weeks after the nine-eleven attacks, and as a show of solidarity there had been buttons which had read: NO STUPID TERRORIST IS GOING TO RUIN MY CONVENTION. I remember that most everybody did wear the button and it helped make the gathering seem more like the reunion of a large extended family than a science fiction convention.
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.
We’ve reached the 20th anniversary of that terrible three weeks of violence so maybe a short summary of what happened is in order. Starting on October 2, 2002, there was a series of 15 sniper attacks, the locations ranging from Rockville, Maryland all the way down to a northern suburb of Richmond, Virginia. Parking lots and gas stations where there were clear sightlines seemed to be the preferred places for shootings, especially if they were located near a multi-lane avenue which provided a quick-and-easy escape.
The break in the case resulted after the sniper telephoned police from a pay phone and boasted of a previous unsolved shooting at a liquor store in Alabama. A fingerprint from that crime matched one for a 17-year-old man, Lee Boyd Malvo, who had a previous arrest out in Washington state. And it turned out that there were actually two people who were the shooters: further investigation indicated that Malvo was in the company of a much older man, John Allan Muhammad, who owned a Chevrolet sedan with New Jersey license plates. The pair were finally captured on October 24th, after two separate callers to a 911 emergency line informed police that they had spotted the car at an Interstate rest stop.
Ten people were killed during the three weeks of the D.C. Snipers’ shooting spree. In September 2003, Muhammad was tried and convicted in a Virginia court for one of the murders in that state and was sentenced to death. He was executed in 2009. Malvo was tried and convicted in Virginia a month later for another of the murders, and then pleaded guilty to two other murders in the state. Because he was not yet legally an adult at the time of the killing spree, he was spared the death penalty and instead was sentenced to three consecutive sentences of life-without-parole. He subsequently pleaded guilty to six of the killings in Maryland and received another six life-without-parole sentences.
The 2002 Capclave took place near the end of the ‘reign of terror’, as news media now describe those three weeks in October. It was easy to see that there was some edginess with many of the attendees, especially ones from out of town, but there was heightened awareness even from local fans who were there. Robert Macintosh, for instance, claimed he hadn’t been particularly concerned about personal safety but he had still noticed that there were open sightlines in the vicinity of the hotel, including one where he had been unloading equipment and supplies. This cautiousness extended beyond the convention. Ted White exemplified this when he later wrote that: “They shot into the parking garage of the Seven Corners Home Depot, less than a mile from my house. My daughter had been in that garage less than 10 minutes earlier. And, on another occasion, the snipers picked off a man at a Sunoco station just off of I-66, near Manassas, miles west of here, a station where I often gassed up when visiting my friend Michael Nally at his store nearby. I was super-cautious then, crouching low next to my car every time I gassed it up, and not lingering in the open in parking lots. It seemed prudent.”
Even commuting to work for fans became a memorable experience, though not in a good way. George Shaner later wrote that: “There were moments toward the end of this period, when I was walking to the Ballston Metro stop in the early morning to commute to work, where I thought that this would be just the sort of circumstances where I could become a statistic.” For me it was a similar situation. In 2002 my work location was down in D.C. and I was commuting to the Metrorail station by bus. Each morning during the work week, bright and early, I and maybe another dozen-or-so people queued up at the Gaithersburg park-and-ride lot waiting for the bus to arrive. It was a very exposed location and I made sure to keep moving around while I was in line so that I wouldn’t be a stationary target. It was always a relief to see the bus turn into the parking lot to pick us up. And it was a huge relief when the shooters were finally captured.
As for the 2002 Capclave, my recollection is that just like the previous year, horrible events in the outside world brought us together. We took comfort in each other’s presence and in the end we refused to allow the snipers to ruin our convention. I hope I’ll never have to experience another three weeks like that. But it certainly was an extraordinary time, and it made the convention utterly unforgettable for me. I have no doubt that most other attendees thought so too.
ITN’s Lynne Reid Banks spoke to various creatures at the 15th World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon. Held in London, that year’s meet was dubbed “Loncon”. It was the first Worldcon to bring the global sci-fi community together outside the US.
Rob Hansen identified the fans in the video:
0.00 Jean Bogert with gun at start. 0.05 Guy with glasses looks like Sandy Sandfield 0.06 Norman Shorrock over shoulder of guy in mask 0.12 Eric Jones interviewed 0.25 Ron Buckmaster interviewed 0.50 Frank & Belle Dietz interviewed in alien costumes. Round-faced teenager in the background is Mike Moorcock. 1.18 Guy with moustache, right rear is Ken McIntyre
Postscript: Rob Hansen: “David Pringle has pointed out that the most famous writer in that video clip is actually the interviewer, Lynne Reid Banks, and that she’s still with us.”
(2) EMERGENCY BACKUP SCROLL TITLE. I thought it was too long for the headline because long titles are one suspected reason why subscriber notifications don’t generate. However, I rather like Daniel Dern’s suggestion:
Seventy-Six Tron Clones Led The Masquerade, With 104 Lady Thors Close Behind, Followed By Rows And Rows Of Freshly-Polished 3CPO’s…
(3) CHICON 8 FINAL COVID REPORT. The Chicon 8 committee sent a wrapup email to attending members reporting a final total of 60 people who voluntarily reported they tested positive for Covid during or shortly after the Worldcon.
(4) CORA BUHLERT IN THE PAPER. “I did get at least one of the local newspapers to bite and report about my Hugo win,” says Cora. “The article isn’t online, but I included a photo of the article itself and the front page, which mentions me.” In German, of course.
You can also see it in the online electronic edition. She’s on page 5: Aktuelle Ausgabe.
Back at the dawn of the new millennium, an Oxford don argued, at book length, that fantasy was the most important literature of the 20th century and that the claim rested on the work of JRR Tolkien. Prof Tom Shippey was duly ridiculed by some for his heresy, with this paper describing it as “a belligerently waterwalkerargued piece of fan-magazine polemic”. Among those who Prof Shippey cited as influenced by “the master” was one Alan Garner, author of a series of beloved children’s fantasies.
How much more secure the professor’s claims look today. Garner, now 87, has just been shortlisted for the Booker prize for a novel called Treacle Walker, which, if more folky than fantastic, certainly displays its fantasy pedigree. Meanwhile, Tolkien delivered more than 25 million global viewers to Amazon Prime on the first day of its splashy new prequel to The Lord of the Rings.
…Fantasy suits the era of film and television because it is infinitely grandiose while sidestepping the need to grapple with the effect on plot of modern technology: Frodo can’t phone home. However, two decades have passed since Jackson’s films landed, so the enduring popularity of The Lord of the Rings isn’t simply tie-in fever.
From the off, Tolkien was caught in the crossfire between those who dismissed his work as escapism and others who saw in it a moral purpose forged on the killing fields of the Somme. It’s a pointless binary. “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory,” wrote the master himself. “If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”…
… Lovecraft and Tolkien both held the image of the traditional English rural gentry as a kind of ideal.
Yet Lovecraft was no hobbit. While Lovecraft had an antiquarian yearning for old buildings and a rose-tinted vision of British Colonial period, his fiction was mostly set in the current day and focused on themes of degeneration, hoary survivals from the past, ancient aliens, and cults rather than a celebration or exultation of the small joys in life. While Lovcraft regretted what he called the coming “Machine Culture,” he did not ignore or decry the advancement of technology and industrialization, or exalt a rural state that had fallen into decay. Dunwich is no Shire, for all the rural trappings; it is kind of an anti-Shire, a place where old ways and habits have turned inward and strange….
…Novalyne had been aware of Bob Howard through their mutual friends in Brownwood; she had dated Howard’s good friend Tevis Clyde Smith, and he had introduced the two in 1932. Like Robert E. Howard, she was interested in becoming a writer. Now that they were both in Cross Plains, the two renewed their acquaintance…and began what would be a tumultuous on-again, off-again romance. The two dated, argued, exchanged gifts, flirted, met each other’s families, went on long drives in the country, debated, criticized each other’s fiction, quarreled and made up and quarreled again…a story chronicled in her memoir One Who Walked Alone, later made into the motion picture The Whole Wide World….
(8) IT’S FINALLY LEAP YEAR AGAIN. The time has come – Quantum Leap premieres Monday, September 19 at 10/9c on NBC, streaming next day on Peacock. “Quantum Leap: Official Trailer”.
In your guest post on Scott Oden’s blog discussing New Edge as a mode or evolution of Sword & Sorcery fiction, you emphasize “inclusivity.” What does that mean in the context of the stories and writers you’re looking to publish?
OB: What inclusivity means to me is making sure that people outside my own demographic—white, cishet, neurotypical, able-bodied males, or just “white guys” as, for the sake of brevity, I’ll use going forward—can see themselves in both the stories and the authors creating them, ideally making them feel welcome within the community. This is key for expanding the audience of our beloved fantasy sub-genre, as well as its pool of authors.
I’ve gained firsthand experience with this in my six years volunteering with a group dedicated to promoting the western Hemisphere’s largest publicly accessible speculative fiction genre archive—The Merril Collection. Through no malice of anyone involved, in the time I’ve been with them, our group has been made up almost or entirely of white people. Our selling old paperbacks to help raise funds would often combine with 20th century publishing trends to create the scene of a couple of white people sitting behind event tables coated in covers featuring white characters written by white authors, trying to encourage the full breadth of humanity to spend a few dollars in support of the collection, while hearing our pitch for it.
All that sameness was a significant obstacle to achieving our goals, as more than one non-white individual made clear when—quite reasonably—saying “I only see white faces here.” or “I don’t see myself in what you are doing.”
Even coming back to myself, I don’t hate my fellow white guys any more than I hate IPAs, but I get frustrated when the vast majority of shelf space is filled with the same thing, whether it’s beer or writerly perspectives. All of this has informed the approach I’m taking with the stories and authors I’m looking to publish.
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1964 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Ok, I confess. I really, really loved the original Mary Poppins which came out fifty-eight years ago. No I didn’t see it until (I think) a decade or so later but I immediately loved it.
Mike Glyer notes that “She doesn’t only fly. At least in the 1964 movie she has a suitcase that must be related to the TARDIS, all the stuff she pulls out of it. And her boyfriend has the ‘luck’ superpower!”
It was directed by Robert Stevenson from the screenplay by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi as based off P. L. Travers’s Mary Poppins series. It was produced by Walt Disney and starred Julie Andrews in her first acting role. Principal other cast were Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson and Glynis Johns. The film was shot entirely at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, using painted London background scenes.
It won’t surprise you that the film received universal acclaim from film critics, and that Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke got lavish praise. Box office wise, it earned some forty-five million dollars on an estimated budget of four or so million dollars (Disney never released the budget officially, something they do quite often) and it’s had at least another hundred million in box office rentals since then. Not to mention DVD and such sales.
It was the only one of his films which earned Disney a Best Picture nomination during his lifetime.
In 2013, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.
A biographical drama on the making of the film, Saving Mr. Banks, was released nine years ago. It was well received with The Hollywood Reporter saying the film was an “affecting if somewhat soft-soaped comedy drama, elevated by excellent performances.”
But that’s not where this story ends. As Charles de Lint once said, “There are no happy endings… There are no endings, happy or otherwise. We all have our own stories which are just part of the one Story that binds both this world and Faerie. Sometimes we step into each others’ stories – perhaps just for a few minutes, perhaps for years – and then we step out of them again. But all the while, the Story just goes on.” And so it is with the Mary Poppins story.
Did I mention that P.L.Travers loathed this film with all her heart save Andrews as Poppins? Well she really did. Which complicated making a sequel. When Disney personally went to her a year later seeking rights to a sequel, she rejected it vehemently. Twenty years on did not at all mellow her, so she rejected them yet again save Andrews playing Poppins. And the use of the color red. Don’t ask.
With approval from Travers’ estate (see death helps clear rights as does offering presumably offering up the estate large sums of money), Disney greenlit the project with the film taking place twenty-five years after the first one was set and having a stand alone narrative that was based on the remaining seven books in the series.
That sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, was released four years ago. It was well received too. Dick Van Dyke, a cast member of the original film, appears in the film as Mr. Dawes Jr., a role originated by Arthur Malet in the previous film.
And Angela Lansbury is the Balloon Lady. The part was written as a cameo role for Julie Andrews who portrayed Mary Poppins in the original film, but she turned the role down as she felt her presence would unfairly take attention away from Emily Blunt who plays Mary Poppins here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 11, 1856 — Richard Ganthony. OK, this is going to a little bit explaining. Imagine that an author decided to riff off Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.With Martians. Seriously. A Message from Mars is a play primarily written by him, first performed at London’s Avenue Theatre in November 1899. The play is about Horace Parker, a Grinch-like man. Horace refuses go with Minnie, his fiancé, to a ball because he wants to stay home reading about new discoveries about the planet Mars. He falls asleep and dreams that he is visited by a Messenger from Mars. The Messenger trys to cure Horace of his selfishness. After a series of visions, the Messenger in the last Visio has him as a beggar in rags. Having realized the error of his ways, he awakens a changed man. It was filmed twice, both times as A Message from Mars (1913 and 1921, and I’m assuming as silent movies given their dates). It would be novelized by Lester Lurgan. (Died 1924)
Born September 11, 1929 — Björn Nyberg. A Swedish writer known largely for his Conan stories which given that he wrote just one non-Conan story makes sense. His first book in the series was The Return of Conan which was revised for publication by L. Sprague de Camp. Likewise, they later did Conan the Avenger, Conan the Victorious, Conan the Swordsman and Sagas of Conan. The latter two are available on iBooks and Kindle. (Died 2004.)
Born September 11, 1928 — Earl Holliman, 94. He’s in the cook in Forbidden Planet and he shares a scene with Robbie the Robot. A few short years later, he’s Conrad in Visit to a Small Planet though it’ll be nearly fifteen before his next genre role as Harry Donner in the Six Million Dollar Man’s Wine, Women and War TV film. He shows up as Frank Domino in the Night Man series, an adaptation of a Malibu Comics’ Ultraverse character. What the Frell is that publisher?!? Surprisingly he’s done no other genre series beyond being in the original Twilight Zone series premiere as Mick Ferris in the “Where Is Everybody?” episode.
Born September 11, 1930 — Jean-Claude Forest. Forest became famous when he created Barbarella, which was originally published in France in V Magazine in 1962. In 1967 it was adapted by Terry Southern and Roger Vadim and made into 1968 film of that name with Jane Fonda in the lead role, with him acting as design consultant. It was considered an adult comic by the standards of the time. An animated Barbarella series was booted around in the Sixties but never made. (Died 1998.)
Born September 11, 1941 — Kirby McCauley. Literary agent and editor, who as the former represented authors such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin and Roger Zelazny. And McCauley chaired the first World Fantasy Convention, an event he conceived with T. E. D. Klein and several others. As Editor, his works include Night Chills: Stories of Suspense,Frights, Frights 2, and Night Chills. (Died 2014.)
Born September 11, 1965 — Catriona (Cat) Sparks, 57. Winner of an astounding eighteen Ditmar Awards for writing, editing and artwork, her most recent in 2021 for her Dark Harvest story collection. She won two in the same year in 2014 when her short story “Scarp” was awarded a Ditmar for Best Short Story and The Bride Price a Ditmar for Best Collected Work. She has just one novel to date, Lotus Blue, but has an amazing amount of short stories which are quite stellar. Lotus Blue and The Bride Price are both available on the usual suspects.
Born September 11, 1970 — Colson Whitehead, 52. Winner of the Arthur Clarke C. Award for The Underground Railroad. Genre wise, he’s not a prolific writer, he’s written but two other such works, The Intuitionists and Zone One. He’s written but one piece of short genre fiction, “The Wooden Mallet”. However he’s written seven other works including John Henry Dayswhich is a really interesting look at that legend, mostly set at a contemporary festival about that legend.
The late 1960s and early ‘70s were peak sword-and-sorcery. The Lancer Conan Saga was at its zenith of popularity, eventually selling by some estimates upwards of 10 million copies. Fritz Leiber and Michael Moorcock were seeing broad mass market paperback publication, Leiber with Swords and Deviltry and Swords Against Death (Ace, 1970) and Moorcock with the likes of the first Corum trilogy (Berkley Medallion, 1971). And as the ‘60s gave way to the ‘70s a struggling magazine was about to get a signal boost from S&S’s mightiest hero.
As Ted White found out during his tenure as editor of the digest-sized Fantastic Science Fiction & Fantasy Stories/Fantastic Science-Fiction/Fantastic Stories of Imagination, best known as Fantastic, the public appetite for Conan ran deep, and was not slaked by the Lancers.…
Circulation remained flat, but White finally got the boost he was looking for when he began publishing stories of S&S’ mightiest hero: Conan, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, was about to tread the digest size pages of Fantastic under his sandalled feet, in the form of four new stories by Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp….
When the University of Michigan Library announced last month that one of its most prized possessions, a manuscript said to have been written by Galileo around 1610, was in fact a 20th-century fake, it brought renewed attention to the checkered, colorful career of the man named as the likely culprit: Tobia Nicotra, a notorious forger from Milan.
Nicotra hoodwinked the U.S. Library of Congress into buying a fake Mozart manuscript in 1928. He wrote an early biography of the conductor Arturo Toscanini that became better known for its fictions than its facts. He traveled under the name of another famous conductor who had recently died. And in 1934 he was convicted of forgery in Milan after the police were tipped off by Toscanini’s son Walter, who had bought a fake Mozart from him.
His explanation of what had motivated his many forgeries, which were said to number in the hundreds, was somewhat unusual, at least according to an account of his trial that appeared in The American Weekly, a Hearst publication, in early 1935.
“I did it,” the article quoted him as saying, “to support my seven loves.”
When the police raided Nicotra’s apartment in Milan, several news outlets reported, they found a virtual forgery factory, strewn with counterfeit documents that appeared to bear the signatures of Columbus, Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci, George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, Martin Luther, Warren G. Harding and other famous figures.
Investigators had also found a sort of shrine to his seven mistresses, at least according to The American Weekly. …
(15) POSTSCRIPT FOR PAT CADIGAN’S 9/10 BIRTHDAY. [Item by John Hertz.] When she was Toastmaster at MidAmericon II, I contributed this (acrostic, in 5-7-5-syllable lines) to the newsletter.
Passing all measure, Ardent, courageous, comic, Taking each moment
Unfortunately, fans of the fictional-turned-reality candy empire had been watching supplies dwindle over the decades, and the vast majority of Wonka candies have been discontinued as of 2022. In fact, the Wonka brand itself was eventually retired after being acquired by Nestlé in 1988, according to The Christian Science Monitor. The Wonka brand was sold off in 2018, and the remaining candies found a new home with Ferrero (via The Motley Fool).
Surprising, Wonka Candy isn’t entirely extinct.
… While many Wonka candies have completely vanished from store shelves, others can still be found if you know where and what to look for. Back in the days of the Willy Wonka Candy Company, Kazoozles offered a different flavor profile than the iconic chocolate bars. The Twizzler-like sweets had a tart fruity taste starting with the original cherry punch flavor, according to Snack History. In 2015 when the Wonka brand was acquired by Nestlé, Kazoozles was rebranded and re-released under the now-familiar SweeTARTS Ropes candy….
The fossilized skin of young mammal-like reptiles hints that drought led to their demise some 250 million years ago, at the start of the Triassic period1.
A few millennia before their deaths, climate change thought to be caused by volcanic eruptions led to the Permian extinction, the largest mass-extinction event in Earth’s history. Among the small number of animals to survive the cataclysm were reptiles in the genus Lystrosaurus.
While looking for clues to what the climate was like after the mass extinction, Roger Smith at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and his colleagues uncovered the remains of 170 four-limbed animals in South Africa’s Karoo Basin. Among the tangled remains, the researchers found young Lystrosaurus of two species that had died in clusters around what was once a dry riverbed.
Several of the younglings were in a spreadeagled position seen in some animals when they collapse from heat exhaustion. Two of the fossils also had what appeared to be mummified skin, which probably formed through rapid drying after death.
Together, this evidence points to a mass die-off of young Lystrosaurus owing to heat and water shortages, suggesting that the climate after the Permian extinction underwent periods of drought.
(18) DAN DARE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The BCC posted this clip in which Patrick Stenson interviews Dan Dare creator Frank Hampson in this clip from 1975.
(19) HE ISN’T SPOCK. (OKAY, HE LIED). [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Leonard Nimoy chats with the BBC’s Terry Wogan in January 1989 about his autobiography I Am Not Spock, how he became a director, and how in classic Star Trek he was so “emotional” “it was like doing Mutiny On The Bounty” in this clip which dropped yesterday.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Ersatz Culture, Cora Buhlert, Steven French, John Hertz, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day John A Arkansawyer.]
(1) LASFS IN THE FIGHTING FORTIES. [Item by David Langford.] As a direct result of comments at File 770, I’ve made Bixelstrasse generally available in paperback from Lulu.com — by agreement with Rob Hansen – with all proceeds going to TAFF. It’s a pretty hefty volume at 429pp, and there’s a map on the back cover!
Rob Hansen has compiled this substantial (194,000 words) history of the 1940s Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society from contemporary fanzine accounts, so the story emerges from the participants’ own words. Besides such famous or notorious fans as Forrest J Ackerman, Charles Burbee, Claude Degler, Francis Towner Laney, “Morojo” and “Tigrina”, we meet several well-remembered professionals including Ray Bradbury, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Harryhausen, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, Fritz Lang, Fritz Leiber and A.E. van Vogt. As Rob himself puts it: “… there have been other occasions on which fans have shared premises in varying degrees, but to have a community of fans centred around a clubroom and living in nearby rooming houses on the same street gave rise to all-week, around-the-clock fanning of a sort not seen before or since. […] This set-up, the whole ’fannish village’ they established, was immensely appealing to me in my twenties (though seeing so much of each other inevitably exacerbated personality clashes, of course). Add in the large numbers of fans from around the country who passed through Los Angeles thanks to the war, many of them processed via the Induction Center at nearby Fort MacArthur before being sent off to fight, and you have something unique in the history of fandom, a saga featuring fans and pros, communists and homosexuals, madmen and mystics, Hollywood stars and spies.”
(2) BURBEE: MORE COMPLEAT THAN EVER BEFORE. In Ansible on April 1, David Langford will announce another TAFF free ebook — The Incompleat Burbee Volume 2 — expanded from the 1996 version with further previously uncollected material. Cover art by Bill Rotsler. As always, a donation to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund is welcomed.
Charles Burbee’s earlier fanwriting was collected as The Incompleat Burbee in 1958, but he carried on being grumpy, acerbic and funny (though with longer and longer gaps between appearances) for further decades. Terry Carr planned this second volume in the 1970s and typed many stencils for a duplicated (mimeo) edition that never appeared. The stencils were passed from fan to fan until finally Jeff Schalles published The Incompleat Burbee Volume 2 as a photocopied fanzine in 1996.
This ebook contains the complete text of that 1996 edition, plus a number of further Burbee articles and stories not included either then or in 1958. These begin with an early piece for Francis Towner Laney’s The Acolyte (1946), include several classics such as the legendary “I Had Intercourse with a Glass of Water” from Terry Hughes’s Mota (1974), and end with material first published in Robert Lichtman’s Trap Door after Burbee’s much-lamented death in 1996.
… I also want to talk about some of the elements that either surprised me or, I believe, would have changed if the show had lasted longer. With a show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (to pick on the near-contemporary Whedon show) neither the first season nor the final season are the best examples of what the show is like. If Firefly had lasted three or four seasons it would have evolved and advocates of the show would probably be pointing to the ‘best’ episodes as ones from season 2 or 3. Star Trek: The Next Generation really improved sharply from Season 3 onwards, the most Doctor-Whoey Doctor Who is arguably Tom Baker, the FOURTH iteration of the character and multiple years into the show….
…That narrator of Headley’s, along with a few other elements of her retelling, can make me grimace the way Professor Kendall did at my old comic book. But Headley’s book is not the comic I feared it would be after reading reviews that emphasize bro and dude; it’s an effective and enjoyable poem. I debate with myself: are my reservations fair, or are they biases built on too much early exposure to Old Stuff? I’m pleased to have read Headley. I’m more pleased to have been invited back to old books and notes and blasted forward to marvelous new ways of learning.
…The relaunch date, 26th February, is significant in Tolkien lore because 26th February 3019 was the date in the Third Age when the Fellowship of the Ring was broken at Amon Hen and Frodo and Sam set out on their journey to Mordor.
The newly launched website, tolkienestate.com, will exhibit the literary and artistic works created by J R R Tolkien and to provide further insights into his life and times. The website includes sections on his writing, painting and calligraphy, his scholarship and letters and a timeline of his life, together with numerous family photographs. It also features an audio-visual section containing recordings and clips featuring both the author and his son, Christopher Tolkien.
…Some items, checked out decades ago, arrived with apologetic notes. “Enclosed are books I have borrowed and kept in my house for 28-50 years! I am 75 years old now and these books have helped me through motherhood and my teaching career,” one patron wrote in an unsigned letter that accompanied a box of books dropped off at the New York Public Library’s main branch last fall. “I’m sorry for living with these books so long. They became family.”
Three DVD copies of “The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day,” a 2009 action film about Irish Catholic vigilantes in Boston that has a 23 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, were returned to three libraries in three different boroughs.
When New York’s public library systems announced last October that they would be eliminating all late fines, the goal was to get books and people back to the more than 200 branches, as well as research centers, across the city after a year and a half of limited hours and access.
The goal was achieved: A wave of returned overdue materials came crashing in, accompanied by a healthy increase (between 9 and 15 percent, depending on the borough) of returning visitors.
Since last fall, more than 21,000 overdue or lost items have been returned in Manhattan…
(7) REMEMBERING STEVE STILES. Michael Dobson put together a computerized slide show as a tribute to Steve Stiles’ artwork, first shown at DisCon III in conjunction with the table sales of Steve’s posthumous collection. It’s now viewable on YouTube: “Steve Stiles – An Appreciation”. The soundtrack includes music by Ted White’s band Conduit.
… The benevolent third man—which John Geiger dubs the ‘saviour’ presence—appears to be something distinct from our traditional understanding of ghosts. It appears in crisis situations and interacts with the observer, even if only to provide a sense of comfort. However, the Antarctic also contains stories of encounters with a less benevolent presence. This second type of encounter, again, doesn’t fit neatly into the category of ‘ghost’, if by that we mean the spirit of a human person who has died (and often at the place in question—Antarctica poses a bit of a conundrum on this front, as although it’s certainly seen its share of deaths, its footprint of human occupation is far later and far sparser than most other places on the planet)….
Long before he becomes the master of evil, Gru (Oscar® nominee Steve Carell) is just a 12-year-old boy in 1970s suburbia, plotting to take over the world from his basement. It’s not going particularly well. When Gru crosses paths with the Minions, including Kevin, Stuart, Bob, and Otto—a new Minion sporting braces and a desperate need to please—this unexpected family joins forces. Together, they build their first lair, design their first weapons, and strive to execute their first missions. When the infamous supervillain supergroup, the Vicious 6, oust their leader—legendary martial arts fighter Wild Knuckles (Oscar® winner Alan Arkin)— Gru, their most devoted fanboy, interviews to become their newest member. The Vicious 6 is not impressed by the diminutive, wannabe villain, but then Gru outsmarts (and enrages) them, and he suddenly finds himself the mortal enemy of the apex of evil. With Gru on the run, the Minions attempt to master the art of kung fu to help save him, and Gru discovers that even bad guys need a little help from their friends.
As an editor of gay anthologies, co- founder of the A Different Light bookstore chain, and mentor to many authors, he was one of the most influential advocates of queer culture and literature in North America. …Throughout the 1990s, A Different Light became a centre of queer culture in California and New York, places where authors and fans met for readings and informal receptions. Over 22 years, Richard combined his bookselling career with his editorial expertise to connect authors with thousands of new readers….
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1985 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-seven years on ABC, Max Headroom premiered. That however was not the beginning of the phenomenon known as Max Headroom. The story is based on the Channel 4 British TV film produced by Chrysalis, Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. That short film is largely similar to the pilot of ABC series.
The British film consisted of material intended to be broken into short segments for a music video program, The Max Headroom Show, which did premiere two days later. Max Headroom served as veejay, and its first episodes unusually featured no introductory title sequence or end credits, just Max as done by Matt Frewer in that amazing makeup blabbing away. It was a hit and several interactions were done including for the American cable network Cinemax.
Now back to Max Headroom. The dystopian series was set, as it said twenty minutes in the future in a city, if not a world dominated by media networks. Y’all know the story so I won’t say more than that. It did a splendid job of depicting a future of what was very obviously a limited budget.
Matt Frewer, Amanda Pays and William Morgan Shepherd are the only performers that carry from the Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future version of this story. And several characters such as Dominique, Blank Reg’s Companion, don’t exist in that bleaker version of the story. No idea if that version is available on DVD.
Max Headroom I consider to be every bit as good as Farscape or any of the better genre series. It would last but two seasons and a mere fourteen episodes before being cancelled.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 31, 1926 — John Fowles. British author best remembered for The French Lieutenant’s Woman but who did several works of genre fiction, The Magus which I’ve read a long time ago and A Maggot which I’ve not read. Some works which are not genre such as The Collector just make me shudder. (Died 2005.)
Born March 31, 1927 — William Daniels, 95. He’s the voice of KITT on the Knight Rider series on the movie came afterwards. He also has genre appearances in The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, the original Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The Incredible Hulk, Galactica 1980, Faerie Tale Theatre, Touched by an Angel and a fantastic “appearence“ on Star Trek: Voyager where he’s the voice of Hospital Ship 4-2, Allocation Alpha in the “Critical Care” episode.
Born March 31, 1932 — John Jakes, 90. Author of a number of genre series including the Brak the Barbarian series. Dark Gate and Dragonard are his other two series. As Robert Hart Davis, he wrote a number of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. novellas that were published in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine. The magazine apparently only existed from 1966 to 1968.
Born March 31, 1934 — Richard Chamberlain, 88. His first dive into our end of reality was in The Three Musketeers as Aramis, a role he reprised in The Return of Three Musketeers. (I consider all Musketeer films to be genre.) Some of you being cantankerous may argue it was actually when he played the title character in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold which he did some years later. He’s listed as voicing the Jack Kirby-created character Highfather on the superb Justice League: Gods and Monsters but that was but a few lines of dialogue I believe. He was in the Blackbeard series as Governor Charles Eden, and series wise has done the usual one-offs on such shows as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Boris Karloff’s Thriller, Chuck and Twin Peaks.
Born March 31, 1936 — Marge Piercy, 86. Author of He, She and It (published outside the UK as Body of Glass) was shortlisted for the Otherwise Award and won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. She also wrote Woman on the Edge of Time (1976) doomed to be called a “classic of utopian speculative sf”. Woman on the Edge of Time was nominated for a Retrospective Otherwise Award (1996).
Born March 31, 1943 — Christopher Walken, 79. A performer whose first role was in The Three Musketeers, as a minor character, John Felton. He has a minor role in The Sentinel, a horror film, and a decidedly juicy one in Trumbull’s Brainstorm as Dr. Michael Anthony Brace followed up by being in Cronenberg’s The Dead Zone as Johnny Smith. Damn, I’d forgotten he was Max Zorin, the villain in A View to a Kill! H’h, I didn’t know he was in Gibson’s New Rose Hotel but then I haven’t actually seen it yet. Is it worth seeing? And let’s wrap this up by noting his appearance in The Stepford Wives as Mike Wellington.
Born March 31, 1960 — Ian McDonald, 62. Now here’s an author that I’ve read a lot of starting with his first novel, Desolation Road, and following through to his most recent, The Luna series. I do have favorites — the aforementioned Desolation Road and the other Mars novel, Ares Express, plus the India in 2047 series and The Dervish House are the ones I like the best. Chaga I think is the one I need to read again as I was annoyed by it the first time.
(14) THE GAME’S AFOOT. Annalee Newitz was referenced on Jeopardy! last night.
(15) BEUKES ADAPTATION. Shining Girls premieres on Apple TV+ on April 29.
Based on Lauren Beukes’ best-selling novel, Shining Girls follows Kirby Mazrachi (Moss) as a Chicago newspaper archivist whose journalistic ambitions were put on hold after enduring a traumatic assault.Years after a brutal attack left her in a constantly shifting reality, Kirby Mazrachi learns that a recent murder is linked to her assault. She teams with veteran reporter Dan Velazquez (played by Wagner Moura) to understand her ever-changing present—and confront her past.
Nearly two decades ago, Dmitriy Cherepanov started a collection of retro computers in Mariupol, Ukraine, that grew into an internationally known assemblage of historic machines, housed in a private museum he called IT 8-bit.
Russia’s campaign to take over his city in southeast Ukraine has killed at least 2,000 civilians, destroyed most of the city’s homes and turned Cherepanov’s beloved computer museum into rubble.
“I’m very upset,” Cherepanov, 45, told NPR. “It’s been a hobby of my life.”
IT 8-bit held more than 120 examples of computer technology and game consoles from the last century. Cherepanov estimates that up to 1,500 people visited the free museum every year before he closed it at the start of the pandemic.
Cherepanov knows the small building housing the museum was bombed, like many other structures in the city, sometime after March 15. He believes that any machines that weren’t destroyed by the blast were likely taken, given the desperate circumstances in the city now.
…To prepare for the role, Isaac said, Robert Oxnam’s “A Fractured Mind: My Life with Multiple Personality Disorder” became his bible. The book is a deeply personal account of the author’s struggles and eventual acceptance of the multiple lives taking place in his mind.
“It felt like that was the orienting principle for this, because it was a real journey into this guy’s discovery and healing, which is the integration that had to occur for him to be able to live with [multiple personalities] as a functioning human being,” Isaac said….
(18) TWO CHAIRS TALKING. David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss have an excellent adventure is episode 72 of Two Chairs Talking, “A Dangerous Kind of Vision”.
We take the Hugo Time Machine back to 1968, when Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions anthology dominated the short fiction categories. Perry and David argue about the Best Novel winner, Lord of Light.
(19) WAS CODA THE ONLY UNDERDOG TO WIN AN OSCAR? It’s well known that CODA was an underdog in the Oscar race for Best Picture, which is further proven below. The JustWatch Streaming Guide graphic shows this trend continued in other categories as well, with winners Encanto and Drive my car being less popular than other nominees in their respective categories.
JustWatch is an international streaming guide that helps over 20 million users per month across 100 countries to find something great to watch on Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV+, etc.
“I offered my services,” Rogan told his guest, Aussie comedian Monty Franklin. “I texted him. I said, ‘Dude I will arrange all of your training.’ ‘If you really do fight Putin,’ I said, ‘I will arrange all your training,’”…
(21) BRAINY VIDEO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Tom Scott tosses off 14 story ideas involving brains in under six minutes!
(22) “NOVEL” IDEA: DOWSE FOR THE DEAD. [Item by Dave Doering.] It never ceases to amaze me how “reality” can be waaayyy stranger than fiction. The Marshall Report tells about cops being trained to use dowsing rods to find buried remains. “Can ‘Witching’ Find Bodies? Police Training Alarms Experts”. Surely there’s a novel idea in there…
One student asks about dowsing rods.“You want to use some?” replies Arpad Vass, an instructor at the National Forensic Academy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where law enforcement officers come to learn how to use science to solve crimes — at least in theory. “I use them on everything.”
[Vass] teaches students the proper way to dowse and some of “the 17 scientific principles that make the rods work, which took me years to figure out.”
… Alarmed? They should be apoplectic! This is insanity. That this has gone longer than Vass’ first attempt to introduce dowsing into forensic science is an indictment of both the University of Tennessee and the law enforcement agencies that still pay to have officers and investigators subjected to cop-washed black arts by a “scientist” deep in throes of self-delusion. Dowsing “works” like a Ouija board “works.” It’s an illusion that relies on self-deception. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, science.
It does not magically become a science just because Vass is capable of using science-y words or has a background in actual science….
(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Triangle Strategy,” Fandom Games says this game is so dull it drags “more than a mandatory Zoom meeting”: and is equivalent to George RR Martin writing “a visual novel while on Ambien and not knowing what a visual novel was.” As for gameplay, the narrator complains that “I don’t want my poor decision making to come to a logical conclusion. I do that by existing.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Rob Thornton, David Langford, Chris Barkley, StephenfromOttawa, Daniel Dern, Dave Doering, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]
Disney’s Marvel unit is suing to hold on to full control of Avengers characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Falcon, Thor and others.
The complaints, which The Hollywood Reporter has obtained, come against the heirs of some late comic book geniuses including Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Gene Colan. The suits seek declaratory relief that these blockbuster characters are ineligible for copyright termination as works made for hire. If Marvel loses, Disney would have to share ownership of characters worth billions.
In August, the administrator of Ditko’s estate filed a notice of termination on Spider-Man, which first appeared in comic book form in 1962. Under the termination provisions of copyright law, authors or their heirs can reclaim rights once granted to publishers after waiting a statutory set period of time. According to the termination notice, Marvel would have to give up Ditko’s rights to its iconic character in June 2023….
If the plaintiffs win, Disney expects to at least hold on to at least a share of character rights as co-owners. The studio would have to share profits with the others. Additionally, the termination provisions of copyright law only apply in the United States, allowing Disney to continue to control and profit from foreign exploitation.
… I think the answer lies first in the fact that both genres have an inherent critique of the social order. They question the state of the world, refusing to just accept the corruption, inequality, and destruction as “the way things are.” Or at least saying, sure, it’s the way things are, but it’s still screwed up.
While other crime genres are often fundamentally a defense of the status quo—police procedurals focus on petty criminals and heroic cops, spy thrillers defeat threats to the established global order—noir presents the established order as crime. It is the rich and the powerful, and the institutions that serve them, that are the true villains. (Of course this isn’t true of every single noir work, but it is of the ones that influenced SF subgenres like cyberpunk.) Take Dashiell Hammett’s masterpiece Red Harvest, in which a rich man and a corrupt police force collaborate with gangs to crush poor workers. Or Chinatown, in which a business tycoon controls government institutions to choke off water supplies. This critique of the social order is why the prototypical hardboiled (anti)hero exists outside of the official law enforcement structure. They’re not a police officer, FBI agent, or government spy. They’re a private investigator, and sometimes even unlicensed as in the case of Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins, and realize that the legal system is as corrupt as the organized crime it is fighting…and often in bed with.
…The series has the unwieldy title Raumpatrouille – Die Phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffs Orion (Space Patrol – The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion), which viewers have already shortened to Raumpatrouille Orion or just plain Orion.
Like the new US series Star Trek, Space Patrol Orion starts with an opening narration, courtesy of veteran actor Claus Biederstaedt, which promises us a fairy tale from the future. In the year 3000 AD, nation states have been abolished. Humanity has settled the ocean floor and colonised far-flung worlds. Starships, including the titular Orion, hurtle through space at unimaginable speeds.
An impressive title sequence and a spacy and very groovy theme tune follow, courtesy of Peter Thomas, who also supplies the music for the Edgar Wallace and Jerry Cotton movies….
The Space Force, America’s latest (and completely unnecessary) military branch unveiled its proposed service uniform.
A lot of fans (and fan-adjacent television watchers) have remarked that the proposed dress uniform greatly resembles those created for the entirely fictional space navy depicted in Battlestar Galactica (the completely unnecessary re-boot, to be precise).
Yes, yes it does. However, those more familiar with real military history would probably be more inclined to think that the new digs for Space Force look more like General George S. Patton’s tanker’s uniform that the general proposed between world wars one and two; about the only difference between uniforms then and uniforms now is Patton’s addition of a football helmet, while it is very unlikely that Space Force will adopt the recommended propeller beanie….
Comparative photos at the link.
(5) COVER SCORES. The public’s choices for best covers in the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition have been announced – and the outcome was a lot close than expected.
Lifelode is a Mythopoeic Award winning fantasy novel by Jo Walton that has never had an audiobook. Jack Larsen is a young man from New Zealand who has a wonderful voice for reading aloud and wants to become an audiobook reader. Together, they could be amazing…
Jo Walton writes:
The main point of this is to try to kickstart the audiobook reading career of young New Zealand fan Jack Larsen, whose wonderful reading voice has been a mainstay of the Scintillation community through the pandemic.
They will have Jack read the book in a professional studio and have it professionally edited (which is the part which costs all the money) and then sell it where all good audiobooks are sold.
At the Kickstarter site you can listen to Jack read the first chapter — click on the video there (which is just audio). Bear in mind, Jack did this demo on his phone.
As of today’s writing the appeal has raised $2,457 of its $7,891 goal.
2021 for all its faults, is offering fans of classic science fiction two (potential) treats: a new movie version of Dune and a TV adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. It’s interesting that of these two highly influential stories that with first you can make a good guess about what specific scenes will appear and in the second I’ve no idea what we will be getting….
Warning, it’s spoilers all the way down from there.
…Like psycho-history itself, all of these changes make sense in theory. But none of them quite accomplish what the show’s creative team needs them to. This Foundation is, like the clones’ palace on the capitol planet of Trantor, stunning to look at(*) but ultimately cold and sterile. Despite the cast and crew’s best efforts — and what appears to be an unlimited budget, even by Apple’s lavish standards — this Foundation remains an assemblage of concepts in search of a compelling TV show….
(9) LANGDON JONES (1942-2021). Author, editor and musician Langdon Jones, whose short fiction primarily appeared in New Worlds, beginning with “Storm Water Tunnel” in 1964, has died, Michael Moorcock reported on Facebook.
One of my closest, longest and best friendships was with Lang Jones, a talented composer, editor and writer, one of the most modest people I have ever known, with the sweetest nature of almost any human being I’ve met. He was Assistant Editor of New Worlds. He restored Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake to the edition you probably read and wrote the music for The Rhyme of the Flying Bomb. You can hear his lively piano on The Entropy Tango. His own collection of stories The Great Clock, remains his only published fiction. I last saw him about two years ago, at the wonderful wedding of his daughter Isobel to Jason Nickolds, for whom he was extremely happy, and he said he had stopped writing and composing and had never felt better. He leaves a son, Damon, as well as his daughter. One of the few people of whom it’s possible to write: Loved by all.
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1964 – Fifty-seven years ago, Mary Poppins had its New York City premiere. (Yes, it’s genre as a flying nanny is surely within our realm.) It was directed by Robert Stevenson from the screenplay by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi as based off P. L. Travers’s Mary Poppins series. It was produced by Walt Disney and starred Julie Andrews in her first screen acting role. Principal other cast were Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson and Glynis Johns. The film was shot entirely at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, using painted London background scenes.
It won’t surprise you that the film received universal acclaim from film critics, and that Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke got lavish praise. Box office wise, it earned some forty five million dollars on an estimated budget of four or so million dollars (Disney never released the budget officially) and it’s had at least another hundred million in box office rentals as well since then.
Audience reviewers currently at Rotten Tomatoes give it an excellent eighty-eight percent rating. A sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, was recently released and it too rates high among audience reviewers currently at Rotten Tomatoes with a sixty five percent rating. Dick Van Dyke has a new role in it.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 24, 1922 — Bert Gordon, 99. Film director most remembered for such SF and horror films as The Amazing Colossal Man, Village of the Giants and The Food of the Gods (based of course on the H.G. Wells’ novel The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth). His nickname “Mister B.I.G.” was a reference both to his initials and to his preference for directing movies featuring super-sized creatures.
Born September 24, 1934 — John Brunner. My favorite works by him? The Shockwave Rider, Stand on Zanzibar which won a Hugo at St. Louiscon and The Sheep Look Up. I’m also fond of The Squares of The City which was nominated for a Hugo at Tricon. That was easy. What’s your favorite works by him? (Died 1995.)
Born September 24, 1936 — Jim Henson. As much as I love The Muppet Show, and I’ve watched every show at least twice, I think The Storyteller is his best work. That’s not to overlook Labyrinth, The Witches and The Dark Crystal and the first two Muppets films which are also excellent. Warning note: the three newest takes done on The Muppets suck beyond belief. Disney should be ashamed. (Died 1990.)
Born September 24, 1945 — David Drake, 76. Writer with his best-known solo work being the Hammer’s Slammers series of military science fiction which are space operas inspired by the Aubrey–Maturin novels. He has also drafted story ideas that were then finished off by co-authors such as Karl Edward Wagner, S.M. Stirling, and Eric Flint. He’s very, very well stocked at the usual suspects.
Born September 24, 1945 — Ian Stewart, 76. Mathematician and writer. He makes the Birthday Honors for the four volumes in The Science of Discworld series he wrote with Jack Cohen and Terry Pratchett. It was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000. Each of the books alternates between the usually absurd Discworld story and serious scientific exposition. (All four volumes are available from the usual suspects.) He would write a number of genre novels, none of which I’m familiar with. Anybody here read his works?
Born September 24, 1951 — David Banks, 70. During the Eighties, he was the Cyberleader on Doctor Who in all the stories featuring the Cybermen — Earthshock (Fifth Doctor story), The Five Doctors, Attack of the Cybermen (Sixth Doctor story), and Silver Nemesis (Seventh Doctor story). In 1989, he played the part of Karl the Mercenary in the Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure stage play. There were two performances where he appeared as The Doctor as he replaced Jon Pertwee who had fallen ill.
Born September 24, 1957 — Brad Bird, 64. Animator, director, screenwriter, producer, and occasionally even a voice actor whom I’m going to praise for directing The Iron Giant (nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000), The Incredibles (winner of Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Interaction), Incredibles 2 and Tomorrowland. He’s the voice of Edna Mode in both the Incredibles films.
Born September 24, 1965 — Richard K. Morgan, 56. The Takeshi Kovacs novels are an awesome series which are why I haven’t watched the Netflix series. His fantasy series, A Land Fit For Heroes, is on my TBR, well my To Be Listened To pile now. And yes I read Thin Air, the sequel first and it’s quite excellent.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
A meeting with the shrink is the subject of today’s Wulffmorgenthaler-239 at Politiken. Lise Andreasen supplies the translation from Danish:
So … You left him, you killed his aunt and uncle, you blew up his sister’s planet, you chopped his hand off … and NOW you want him to consider you a father figure and join you “on the dark side”. How do you think Luke feels about it?
The next crewed suborbital spaceflight planned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture — which could launch as early as next month — is due to carry Star Trek captain William Shatner, according to the TMZ celebrity news site.
…The current renaissance can be traced to Moore’s groundbreaking 2004 reimagining of hokey 70s space odyssey Battlestar Galactica. Updating the premise for a post-9/11 TV landscape, he turned a niche sci-fi story into mainstream watercooler TV. “Whether you liked sci-fi or not, you found yourself binging all these seasons,” says Ben Nedivi, one of Moore’s co-creators on For All Mankind.
While Star Trek, too, is thriving in the current sci-fi landscape, with no less than five series currently in production, it seems unlikely to cross the final frontier into the halls of prestige sci-fi. For Nunn, this comes down to one thing: aliens.
While the golden age shows of the 90s relied heavily on prosthetics – and, in the case of Farscape, puppets – to present characters from other worlds, today’s sombre offerings dwell solely on human problems. “With Battlestar Galactica, you’ve got robots, but you haven’t got aliens,” Nunn points out. “And The Expanse is similar. So they can be read as science fiction but also dystopias, whereas Star Trek and Babylon 5and Farscape, even Stargate, all had alien life-forms at their core.”…
… For Shankar, a great strength of The Expanseis that it uses space as more than just a backdrop. “This is a show that turns space into a character,” he says. With a PhD in applied physics, he served as Next Generation’s official science adviser. “On Star Trekit was really about maintaining continuity with the fake science, making sure you used the phasers when you were supposed to, and not the photon torpedoes,” he says. “The technical manual [for the Enterprise] was quite detailed, but it wasn’t real. In The Expanse we use real physics to create drama. There’s a sequence in the first season where the ships are turning their engines on and off so you’re shifting from having weight to weightlessness. Two characters suddenly lose gravity and can’t get back to where they need to be, and the solution is conservation of momentum.”
This absolute commitment to accuracy is shared by the team behind For All Mankind. “We have an astronaut who reads our scripts,” explains co-creator Matt Wolpert. “He’ll tell us when we come up with ideas that are against the laws of physics.”…
(15) TED TALK. Ted White has two books out – one fiction, one non-…. Both were designed by John D. Berry, and published with the assistance of Michal Dobson’s Dobson Books. White is former editor of Amazing® and Heavy Metal® magazines and a past Best Fan Writer Hugo winner.
He’d been set up. Someone (and “independent consultant” Ray Phoenix was pretty sure who) had filed a phony stolen car report. When a freak bus accident allows him to escape into the woods, Ray lands in an entirely new world of trouble – small-town cocaine dealing, counterfeit money, and a web of strange and violent relationships that will take all of Ray’s considerable skills to unravel.
In 1986, legendary science fiction writer and editor Ted White went to jail for possession and sale of marijuana. A prolific correspondent, Ted kept up a steady stream of letters during his confinement that vividly and powerfully detail everyday life behind bars, from relationships with other prisoners and guards to living in cells and common rooms – not to mention the fine jailhouse cuisine. (Seriously, don’t mention it.) Ted White’s letters make you feel like you’re really in jail…and really glad you’re not.
(16) DISCONTENT. [Item by David Doering.] I caught this piece on TechDirt today. It appears that Sony’s art department enjoyed this fan artist’s rendering of She-Venom so much they included it in their official poster. Too bad they didn’t acknowledge that or offer to pay for it. I certainly see more than just coincidence here. Even if Sony/others have the rights to the character, the similarities are too striking to not say the Sony version owes something to the fan artist. The comments debate both sides. “Sony Pictures, Defenders Of The Creative Industry, Appears To Be Using Fan Art Without Giving Credit”
… You can say the images don’t match up precisely if you like, but they’re certainly very damned close. As mentioned about similar past cases, this likely isn’t a copyright infringement issue; the fan artist doesn’t own any rights to the character he drew. But, again, if the copyright industries are going to do their maximalist routine under the guise of protecting those that create content, well, fan art is content….
(17) EVADING THE SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4’s The Digital Human episode “Faceless” notes that it’s becoming harder to hide from facial recognition technology and asks what does this means for people who protest against political systems … So we are SF fans and know all about Orwell’s 1984, William Gibson’s novels etc. Or do we? It looks like things are getting worse, but there are ways to fight back…. Digital Human looks at the issues with examples from a non-political English teacher becoming a wanted terrorist on the run in 12 days, to counter-measures.
Johnathan Hirshon works in PR and marketing and describes himself as ‘The Faceless man’ because he’s managed to keep his face off the internet for over twenty years. This may seem extreme but Neda Soltani explains how one online photo of her face, meant she had to leave her family, country and profession. Artist and curator, Bogomir Doringer whose archived and curated thousands of faceless images off the internet talks about how technology is not only choreographing the way we use our faces but persuading us to hand over our biometric data with our use of apps that change the way we look. .
Artist Zach Blas is interested in queer culture and has created masks using biometric data from minority groups, to push back on the possibility of people being categorised by biometrics. Zach uses masks to show that facial recognition technology can be disrupted. Stephen has been trying to do just that. Stephen is from Hong Kong and spent the summer protesting against the Extradition bill. He and his fellow protesters wore masks to evade identification from the police and Hong Kong’s smart lamp posts. The remit of the protest grew when the wearing of masks by protesters was banned. Stephen believes that by using facial recognition technology on the streets of Hong Kong the authorities in Hong Kong and China are creating a sense of ‘white terror’. Stephen is now protesting in the UK but still feels this ‘white terror’. While protesting people from mainland China have been taking photos of him and other protesters. He knows that photos can go global and by using facial recognition tech he could be easily identified. Is it becoming impossible to escape recognition even when we would like to hide?
David Tennant stars as literature’s greatest explorer Phileas Fogg in a thrilling new adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel coming to MASTERPIECE on PBS. (Air date to be announced.)
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Lise Andreasen, David Doering, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
(1) FREE COMIC BOOK DAY IS 8/14. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. (Me.) Free Comic Book Day is August 14 — just like it says on the logo! — contrary to the typoed date in my standalone post (which has now been corrected, thanks to eagle-eyed John King Tarpinian.)
(2) MARVEL’S PLAN FOR PRIDE MONTH. This June, Marvel Comics will observe Pride Month with a celebration of LGBTQ+ characters and creators in Marvel’s Voices: Pride #1.
Marvel’s first-ever queer-centered special will get a special Frame Variant cover by artist Luciano Vecchio. An homage to the iconic Marvel 25th Anniversary covers released in 1985, this cover spotlights Marvel’s tapestry of LGBTQ+ characters and will reveal a brand-new hero who is set to make their debut within the upcoming one-shot. Check out this incredible cover below!
(3) C’MON, YOU DROIDS, YOU WANNA POST FOREVER? Your reminder that the USPS Droid Stamps are scheduled for Star Wars Day! (May the Fourth). File 770’s post about them is here. Order them from USPS here.
…Schließlich schreibt sie auf ihrem eigenen Blog über Science-Fiction, Fantasy und Artverwandtes. Seit einiger Zeit außerdem auf der Webseite galacticjourney.org. Sie rezensiert Filme, Serien und Literatur, führt Interviews mit Kollegen. Und zwar immer auf Englisch, aus Fan-Perspektive….
(5) TED TALKS. Lex Berman interviews Ted White about his early writing career contributing to Rogue Magazine in a Diamond Bay Press podcast.
…White’s first sale there was Riot at Newport.
White also discusses his piece on the beatnik riot of Washington Square, Balladeers and Billy Clubs, and the general scene around Greenwich Village and what it was like trying to make a living as a jazz critic in the early 1960s.
“My eyes started to burn. We were on the fringe of a cloud of tear gas that the police had laid down in the center of Newport, where all these kids were “rioting.” When we drove up to Boston, around midnight, there were roadblocks. Police were letting people out, but they weren’t letting anybody in. It was like that.”
This dark fantasy features so much for Shadow and Bone fans to love: an intricate, Slavic-inspired world; a divine young girl tasked with saving her kingdom; an alluring boywith a terrible secret; and a weary prince unsure of his identity off the battlefield. Set amid a centuries-long war between Kalyazin, a devout polytheistic country where only a select few can access the gods’ magic, and Tranavia, a country that cast out the gods and is ruled by ruthless blood mages, Wicked Saints is a seductively brutal tale about power, faith, and agency. It’s also metal as hell, with creatively incorporated elements of cosmic horror. The series’ extensive lore adds a wonderful sense of history to this story, and it features an epic enemies-to-lovers romance that will be sure to resonate with any Darkling fans.
(7) RASCH OBIT. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] In sad news, the Brazilian born (East) German science fiction author Carlos Rasch died on January 7, 2021, aged 88. His death only became known in the German SFF community lately, similar to what happened when Charles Saunders died.
Here is Carlos Rasch’s English-language Wikipedia page updated with his death date: Carlos Rasch.
…At the age of six, he moved with his parents from Brazil to Germany. In 1951 he started working as a reporter for the GDR’s Allgemeiner Deutscher Nachrichtendienst. It was during his days as a reporter that he started writing literature. In 1965 he became a full-time writer. In addition to writing novels, he penned science-fiction short stories and radio dramas as well co-authoring the unproduced thirteen-part GDR television series Raumlotsen. There followed a period in which he was out of favor with the ruling powers and earned his keep through pick-up jobs and writing under pseudonyms. By the mid-80s, he was once again able to publish. From 1990 until he retired in 1997, he worked for the Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung in Potsdam.
I got some of Carlos Rasch’s novels on packages from my East German great-aunt, because “you like space books”. They were fun adventure SF about ancient astronauts and the like. After the fall of the wall, Rasch worked as a journalist, but his SF writing career never really took off again.
Daniel Kaminsky, a security researcher known for his discovery of a fundamental flaw in the fabric of the internet, died on Friday at his home in San Francisco. He was 42.
His aunt, Dr. Toby Maurer, said the cause was diabetes ketoacidosis, a serious diabetic condition that led to his frequent hospitalization in recent years.
In 2008, Mr. Kaminsky was widely hailed as a latter-day, digital Paul Revere after he found a serious flaw in the internet’s basic plumbing that could allow skilled coders to take over websites, siphon off bank credentials or even shut down the internet. Mr. Kaminsky alerted the Department of Homeland Security, executives at Microsoft and Cisco, and other internet security experts to the problem and helped spearhead a patch….
(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
April 27, 1963 — On this day in 1963, The Day of the Triffids premiered in the USA. It was produced by George Pitcher and Philip Yordan, as directed by Steve Sekely. It’s rather loosely based on the 1951 novel of the same name by John Wyndham (who was toastmaster at Loncon 1) as scripted by Bernard Gordon and Philip Yordan. It starred Howard Keel, Nicole Maurey, Janette Scott, Kieron Moore and Mervyn Johns. Critics who were familiar with the novel expressed their distaste for the film. It currently has a fifty-one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. Yes, it’s in the public domain, so you can watch it here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 27, 1901 — Frank Belknap Long. John Hertz says that he should be singled out for the “To Follow Knowledge” novelette, lovingly discussed here. I only add as John didn’t note it, that Long received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1994.) (CE)
Born April 27, 1920 — Doris Baumgardt. Well-known and loved fan, illustrator and writer under the name of Leslie Perri. She was a member of the Futurians, and a founding member of FAPA. She was also a member of the CPASF and the Science Fictioneers. She was one of five members of the Futurians allowed into the first World Science Fiction Convention by Sam Moskowitz with the other four were Isaac Asimov, David Kyle, Jack Robinson and Richard Wilson. She wrote three pieces of short fiction that were published in the Forties and Fifties; she contributed artwork to fanzines. (Died 1970.) (CE)
Born April 27, 1920 – Edwin Morgan. Scottish poet and translator. First Glasgow Poet Laureate. First Scottish Nat’l Poet (The Scots Makar). Two SF-chess short stories. Many poems for us. See e.g. collections The Second Life, From Glasgow to Saturn, Star Gate, Sonnets from Scotland. (Died 2010) [JH]
Born April 27, 1922 — Jack Klugman. He was in an amazing four Twilight Zone episodes (“A Passage for Trumpet “, “A Game of Pool, “Death Ship” and “ In Praise of Pip” plus one-offs on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Outer Limits. Does Around the World in Eighty Days count as genre adjacent? He was in the miniseries. (Died 2012.) (CE)
Born April 27, 1936 – John Burningham. Author and illustrator. Two Greenaway Medals. Boston Globe – Horn Book Award. Maschler Award. Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (German youth-literature prize). Five dozen books, some ours. Here is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Here is Come away from the water, Shirley. Here is an ed’n of The Wind in the Willows (showing different illustrations on slipcover and jacket). Here is an interior from Borka (a goose with no feathers; second from right). (Died 2019) [JH]
Born April 27, 1957 — Rachel Caine. She had two series, the Weather Warden series which is most excellent and the superb Great Library series. I can’t speak to the Morganville Vampires series as I don’t do vampires really. And yes, I know she’s got a number of other series, far more than can be detailed here. (Died 2020.) (CE)
Born April 27, 1958 – Caroline Spector, age 63. Three novels, a dozen shorter stories; games; two years Associate Editor at Amazing. She is a Wild Card and has nine stories there. Also plays bass. [JH]
Born April 27, 1963 — Russell T. Davies, 58. Responsible for the 2005 revival on BBC One of Doctor Who. (A Whovian since the very beginning, he thinks “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” has the best dialogue in the entire series, an opinion I concur with.) Of course he’s also responsible for Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures as well. (Need I note that the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot was his idea?) Oh, and a few years back, he produced A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (CE)
Born April 27, 1969 – Dame Darcey Bussell, age 52. Principal dancer of the Royal Ballet at 20. Judged Strictly Come Dancing on British television. President of the Royal Academy of Dance. Two honorary doctorates. Kennedy Center Gold Medal. Arlan Award. Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. For us, a score of novels, half a dozen shorter stories (with, she says, ghostwriters) about magic shoes that turn girls into ballerinas. [JH]
Born April 27, 1970 – Emmanuel Gorinstein, age 51. A dozen covers. Here is The Rest of the Robots (only eight stories in this ed’n). Here is The Caves of Steel. Here is Ender’s Shadow. [JH]
Born April 27, 1977 – Jedidiah Berry, age 44. One novel (The New Yorker said it was like Wes Anderson adapting Kafka), ten shorter stories. “The Family Arcana” was published as a Poker deck. Went to Bard, has taught there. Co-edited an issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. Interactive fiction here. [JH]
Born April 27, 1986 — Jenna Coleman, 35. Clara Oswald, Companion to the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors. She remains the longest serving companion since the series was revived. Genre wise, she was also Connie in Captain America: The First Avenger, and did voice work on the animated reboot of Thunderbirds Are Go. And yes, she showed up in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot which deserves to be annotated. (CE)
(12) ALL ABOARD! They’ve got a full house at the International Space Station.
(13) GROOT TAKES ROOT. Disney Imagineers are developing a free-roaming robotic actor, and the prototype has been decked out as Groot.
Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development is developing a small-scale, free-roaming robotic actor that can take on the role of our similarly-sized Disney characters. Its tightly integrated design provides over 50 degrees of freedom in a compact platform that can walk, gesture, and emote in style. Using custom authoring tools that combine whole-body motion planning and traditional character animation, artists can quickly bring robotic characters to life with expressive motions and interactive behaviors. There are no immediate plans for use in Disney theme parks; however, a prototype in the form of Groot is being used to test unique traits, gaits and capabilities.
An artist turns to his android muse for help when trying to sell his newest paintings, but events take a dark and disturbing turn when the android learns what has inspired the work.
(15) STARTING OUT SUPER. Can you stand this much wholesomeness? Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten on Kartoon Channel.
From the genius mind of the late Stan Lee comes the exciting new animated show for preschoolers, Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten. The school day at Superhero Kindergarten is a lot like that at any other kindergarten…except these six extraordinary students have a secret… They are superheroes! Rather than powers derived from a radioactive spider bite or gamma rays, these special kids’ powers come from common kindergarten items like white glue, putty, building blocks and yes, even farts (yuck!) And thankfully, they have Arnold Armstrong (AKA Captain Fantastic, the greatest superhero to ever live!) as their teacher (voiced by Arnold Schwarzenegger). Superhero Kindergarten brings the very best superhero storytelling to a new generation of preschoolers with action, comedy and heart. Embedded in each episode is a valuable life-lesson about health, exercise, nutrition and anti-bullying!
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Outriders” on YouTube, Fandom Games says the game is a “goofy sci-fi romp” that features the four elements: “earth, fire, space-time, and guns!” (Bonus feature: Gilbert and Sullivan parodies!)
[Thanks to Rob Thornton, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Daniel Dern, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]
…She began trying to sell her science fiction writing when she was thirteen. “I didn’t know what good writing was frankly, and I didn’t have any particular talent for writing so I copied a lot of the old pulp writers in the way I told a story,” Butler told Callaloo. “Gradually I learned that that wasn’t the way I wanted to write.”
Of course, the world of science fiction was (and still is) dominated by white, male authors. Instead, “Butler approached [science fiction] askance, choosing to write self-consciously as an African American woman marked by a particular history,” write literary scholars De Witt Douglas Kilgore and Ranu Samantrai.
In 1969, she was discovered by well-known science fiction writer Harlan Ellison at a screenwriting workshop in Los Angeles. “Harlan [wrote] that she wasn’t a very good screenwriter, which doesn’t surprise me much,” recalled friend and fellow sci-fi writer Vonda McIntyre. “Her subjects and ideas and expressions were deep and complex. Screenplays have strengths, but ‘deep’ and ‘complex’ aren’t high on that list.” Nevertheless, Ellison recommended Butler for the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop….
(3) ALL THAT JAZZ. The new issue of Mlex’s Zapf.Punkt #9 includes three articles of fannish interest:
Ted White’s Rogue Magazine articles, (Riot at Newport, & Balladeers and Billy Clubs,) in which Ted White wrote about the “Beatnik Riot” of Washington Square that took place April 9, 1961.
Antonio Caronia’s The Cyborg (1985), and Italian cyberpunk.
Preserving Worlds, archiving online gaming and virtual reality experiences.
Legion M is proud to partner with George R. R. Martin and The Stagecoach Foundation in support of their online auction during Wondercon 2021. In doing so we are bringing the exciting world of Wild Cards to life with an RPG experience nearly more than 40 years in the making. Please join us for a special broadcast featuring a new campaign and AMA with the esteemed authors of the Wild Cards series on Twitch!
Wild Cards is a sci-fi novel series set in an alternate-history post-WWII New York City, after an alien contagion completely disrupts modern life. The virus gives some individuals superhuman abilities (“Aces”) — others, it mutates (“Jokers”). Edited by George R. R. Martin and co-edited by Melinda M. Snodgrass, this series has a wide range of contributing authors (including our players Walter Jon Williams, Carrie Vaughn, Caroline Spector, and Max Gladstone). Before it was a novel series, Wild Cards started as an RPG called “Superworld” and many of the characters and narratives were born from this theater of the mind. And now you’ll get to witness a brand-new edition to the saga unfold right before your very eyes!
5 pm-6 pm PT – LIVE AMA with the Authors of Wild Cards
SATURDAY 3/27 on LegionM.tv
10 am-2 pm PT – SECOND SHOWING OF WILD CARDS GAME
2 pm-3 pm PT – Stagecoach LIVE Auction Pre-show with Bernie Bregman
(Simultaneously at 2 pm-3 pm PT – Discord AMA with Wild Cards Players
3 pm-4 pm PT – Stagecoach LIVE Auction with Bernie Bregman
(5) ESSENCE OF WONDER. Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron brings fans “The Biohacking Show” on Saturday, March 27 at 3 p.m. Eastern time. Register at the link.
Najla Lindsay and Nina Alli from the DEFCON Biohacking Village will join Gadi and Karen along with Meredith Patterson, for a conversation on the state of biohacking today. Where are we going with Biohacking? What should we be on the lookout for? How has the pandemic impacted our perspective of it?
Pixar’s “Soul” won the award for animated feature, further cementing its frontrunner status. Producer Dana Murray took a cue from the Jodie Foster playbook, giving her acceptance speech in her pajamas, with her two children jumping into the shot.
(7) TODAY’S DAY
March 25, 3019 – The One Ring is Destroyed (See March 25 at Fandom.)
An upcoming edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy will include paintings, drawings and other illustrations by the British author for the first time since it was published in the mid-1950s.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books & Media announced Thursday that the new version will come out Oct. 19. Deb Brody, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s vice president and publisher, noted that Tolkien was already known for his illustrations which appeared in “The Hobbit” and that his artwork for “The Lord of the Rings” had been exhibited in 2018 in New York, Paris and in Oxford, England.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
March 25, 1956 — Indestructible Man premiered. Based on a screenplay written by Vy Russell and Sue Dwiggins, it was produced and directed by Jack Pollexfen, and starred Lon Chaney, Jr., Ross Elliott and Robert Shayne. In some areas of the States, it was a double bill with Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It wasn’t at all liked by critics at the time, and the audience over at Rotten Tomatoes currently gives it an eight percent rating. You can see it here, and you can also see it with the Mystery Science Theater 3000 commentary thisaway.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born March 25, 1716 – Yüan Mei. (Personal name last, Chinese style.) For us, five stories in Stories About Not Being Afraid of Ghosts, five in Chinese Fairy Tales and Fantasies. Famous for a cookery book, in English Recipes from the Garden of Contentment (S. Chen tr. 2018) also published as The Way of Eating, some of it here, a New Yorker note here. In general, get Arthur Waley, Yüan Mei (1956; Stanford Univ. reprint 1986). Here is a Spring painting. YM liked Ch‘an (known to many of us via Japanese, Zen) Buddhism; here is a short poem. (Died 1798) [JH]
Born March 25, 1916 — Jean Rogers. She played Dale Arden in 1936’s Flash Gordon serial and again in 1938’s Flash Gordon Goes To Mars serial . She’d be replaced by Carol Hughes for the third, Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, when she said she wasn’t interested in doing it. She would go on to co-star with Boris Karloff in the horror film Night Key. (Died 1991.) (CE)
Born March 25, 1927 — Sylvia Anderson. Film producer, writer, voice actress and costume designer, best known for her collaborations with husband Gerry Anderson on such Supermarionation series as Thunderbirds, Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Stingray. (Died 2016.) (CE)
Born March 25, 1930 — Patrick Troughton. The Second Doctor of course. Troughton had a long genre resume starting with Hamlet and Treasure Island early on before proceeding to such works as Scars of Dracula and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell later on. Telly-wise, I see him on R.U.R. Radius playing a robot, on a Fifties Robin Hood show being that character, and on The Feathered Serpent. This is childrens series set in pre-Columbian Mexico and starring Patrick Troughton as the scheming High Priest Nasca. H’h (Died 1987.) (CE)
Born March 25, 1939 — D. C. Fontana. Script writer and story editor, best remembered for her work on the original Trek franchise. She also worked on Genesis II, Logan’s Run, The Six Million Dollar Man and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Her final work was writing an episode for the fanfic known as Star Trek: New Voyages. (Died 2019.) (CE)
Born March 25, 1942 – Jacqueline Lichtenberg, age 79. A score of novels, as many shorter stories. Known for the Sime~Gen universe. In the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n), given both the Franson and the Kaymar, 2008 Fan of the Year, Life Membership. Founded the Star Trek Welcommittee. Guest of Honor at Earthcon I, II, 3, VI (I can’t help how people number these things). Practices tarot and astrology. [JH]
Born March 25, 1950 — Robert O’Reilly, 70. Best known I’d say for his appearance in the Trek franchise for a decade in his recurring role on Next Gen and DS9 as Chancellor Gowron, the leader of the Klingon Empire. He made one further appearance in the Trek verse as Kago-Darr in the Enterprise “Bounty” episode. Other genre series he appeared in include Fantasy Island, Knight Rider, Incredible Hulk, MacGyver, Max Headroom and the first version of The Flash. I’ll let y’all tell me what your favorite films with him are. (CE)
Born March 25, 1958 — Amy Pascal, 63. She gets Birthday honors for being responsible for bringing Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse to the screen. She also produced Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far from Home. She is producing the yet untitled Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse sequel and the forthcoming live Spider-Man: No Way Home film as well. (CE)
Born March 25, 1959 – Christine Taylor-Butler, age 62. Two novels, one shorter story for us; five dozen books all told. Nebraska Lib’y Ass’n Best Book of the Year, Missouri Writers Guild’s Williams Major Book Award. She says, “while more books are being published that depict children of color, most show us mired in stereotypes, or are tailored to what publishers ‘think’ we want to read, or ‘think’ we are, so the voices don’t ring true”; also “art and math are not mutually exclusive”. [JH]
Born March 25, 1960 – Linda Sue Park, age 61. Four novels for us, a chapter in Click! (ten authors), one shorter story; a dozen books all told; poetry; frequent focus on Korean history and culture, e.g. A Single Shard (celadon pottery; Newbery Medal). Loves baseball, knitting, snorkeling. Website. [JH]
Born March 25, 1964 – Kate DiCamillo, age 57. Four novels, one shorter story for us; a score of books, half a dozen shorter stories all told. Two Newbery Medals, which only six people have achieved. Regina Medal. “I am short. And loud. I hate to cook and love to eat…. I get to tell stories for a living.” [JH]
Born March 25, 1972 – Kami Garcia, age 49. Nine novels, half a dozen shorter stories. Graphic novels for DC. Beautiful Creatures (with Margaret Stohl) a NY Times Best-Seller. Has read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, On the Road, Lolita, six Shakespeare plays, three of Baum’s Oz books, six books of Arthur Rackham illustrations, Cummings’ 95 Poems, Dover Pubs. ed’ns of Blake and Dryden. [JH]
(10) COMICS SECTION.
B.C. has a prehistoric take on a familiar Warner Bros. cartoon gag.
Bizarro shows how the Bat signal could get someone’s signals, well, crossed isn’t quite the word…
(11) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Over at The Nerdist, Rosie Knight tackles some of the absolutely bonkers questions about remuneration that are raised in the first episode of “Falcon & Winter Soldier.” Honestly, if the Avengers aren’t getting paid fairly, maybe they need to organize a labour union. “The Falcon And The Winter Soldier Bank Scene Broke My Brain”.
So what you’re telling me is that none of the Avengers were ever paid? How did they eat? Who paid their rent? Did they just turn up at Tony Stark’s house and hope he’d buy them shawarma? Because that seems incredibly unsustainable.
The Bank of England has revealed the design for the UK’s new £50 note featuring computer scientist and codebreaker Alan Turing. Turing was selected to appear on the note in July 2019 in recognition of his groundbreaking work in mathematics and computer science, as well as his role in cracking the Enigma code used by Germany in World War II.
The polymer note will enter circulation from June 23 this year, and incorporates a number of designs linked to Turing’s life and legacy. These include technical drawings for the bombe, a decryption device used during WWII; a string of ticker tape with Turing’s birthday rendered in binary (23 June 1912); a green and gold security foil resembling a microchip; and a table and mathematical formulae taken from one of Turing’s most famous papers.
Have you ever enjoyed Peeps marshmallows so much that you wish you could drink them? Same. And that’s now possible thanks to a collaboration between the iconic brand and Pepsi. The pair just dropped a beverage that combines the refreshing taste of Pepsi with the sweet, cloud-like flavor of Peeps marshmallows.
Available for a limited time, the marshmallow-flavored drink comes in a three-pack of mini 7.5-ounce Pepsi cans that boast a Peeps-inspired design. The cans feature little chicks and come in yellow, pink, and blue, aka they’re super cute and you won’t want to toss them when your beverage is all gone….
(14) TODAY’S DOSE OF SHAT. In “William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy For Western Airlines 1985” on YouTube, Shat and Leonard Nimoy are on holiday because they’re wearing Hawaiian shirts. But watch out for the surprise brought by the flight attendants!
[Thanks to Cora Buhlert, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mlex, Andrew Porter, Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Alan Baumler, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day C.A. Collins.]
(1) ALL THAT JAZZ. Elle M. has a fascinating commentary on the difference between worldbuilding and lore. Thread starts here. A few quotes follow —
They also use the author of Harry Potter as a compelling example of where lore gets injected at the expense of worldbuilding.
(2) TRENDY PLACES. Sarah Gailey’s Stone Soup blog is hosting “Building Beyond,” an “ongoing series about accessible worldbuilding. Building a world doesn’t have to be hard or scary — or even purposeful. Anyone can do it. To prove that, let’s talk to both a writer and a non-writer about a worldbuilding prompt.” For “Building Beyond: Robot Dating”, editor Brian J. White and writer Suzanne Walker imagine where they’ve gone on a date with a giant robot.
Gailey’s dry synopsis should make you very curious to read the post:
…Brian’s date is the foundation of a story about a robot who is learning to live in the world, and who just so happens to be inhabiting a city of decadences. Suzanne’s date is the beginning of a world in which robots and humans regularly go out together, and frogs have learned to cater to the complicated ecosystem of needs that arise in such relationships.
Constance Grady: I have a hard time working out exactly how I feel about volume two of this trilogy. Harrow the Ninth is a trickier book than Gideon the Ninth, in the same way that bitchy, conniving Harrow is a trickier protagonist than sweet basic jock Gideon.
First of all, there’s the problem of tone. Gideon mined enormous amounts of tension and humor out of the contrast between its lurid goth world and Gideon’s straightforward “it looks like a sword, I want to fight it” worldview and her dirty jokes. That’s part of what helps puncture the grandiosity of Muir’s worldbuilding and keep everything feeling accessible and human-scale, no matter how complicated the mythology might be.
But Harrowhark worships all the lurid skeletal nonsense around her with a religious intensity, and she considers boning jokes prurient. So the easy laughter of the first volume fades away: The jokes are meaner in Harrow than they were in Gideon, and darker….
(4) MRS. PEEL, WE’RE NEEDED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the January 23 Financial Times, Peter Aspden writes about the 60th anniversary of British TV series The Avengers, which was first broadcast in January 1960.
The plots (of The Avengers), in the meantime, got crazier. In 1967’s ‘Epic,’ from the fifth season, Peel is kidnapped by a Teutonic film director named ZZ von Schnerk, who is filming a movie called The Destruction Of Emma Peel, for which he needs to kill her in real, or reel, life. The self-referntiality was off the scale, now. ‘Gloat all you like, but I am the star of his picture, says captive Peel to the villiainous director, and anyone interested in meta-texts.
Like so many of the fashions of the 1960s, Rigg only lasted a couple of seasons. She left to star in her own Bond Film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in which she showed that her range extended further than understated self-mockery (in fairness, she had also already played Cordelia opposite Paul Scofield’s Lear) by providing one of the franchise’s few genuinely heartbreaking endings. Peel’s farewell to Steed was itself a rare poignant moment, a peck on the cheek with a final piece of womanly advice: ‘Always keep your bowler on it times of stress. And watch out for diabolical masterminds.’
(5) SPLATTERPUNK AWARDS. [Item by Dann.] Nominations are open for the 2021 Splatterpunk Awards through February 14. Brian Keene and Wrath James White have been experiencing….ummm…difficulties in getting valid nominations. Someone nominated HP Lovecraft who, being dead, is ineligible. Also, he hasn’t published anything new in the last year. Also, also, he hasn’t published anything that is close to being Splatterpunk.
Midnight Pals over on Twitter has the theoretic exchange where Brian and Wrath try to explain how this is supposed to work. (I’m pretty sure that Dean Koontz didn’t nominate HP Lovecraft.)
The awards will be presented during a ceremony at the 2021 Killercon Convention, taking place in Austin, Texas.
In addition to the Splatterpunk Awards, author John Skipp will receive this year’s J.F. Gonzalez Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the field.
…Try as I might, I have great difficulty thinking of this novel as a science-fiction story. It could be conceived of as a psychological thriller, but no one dies except a mouse. It is deeply psychological and delves as far into the brain as anyone can get right now, accepting Freudian analysis as routine, while it is Jung’s “individuation” that the main character, Charlie Gordon, seeks without a guide except for his reading.
…I recommend this book, no matter its genre, and hope that anyone who reads it finds him- or herself touched by the plight of both those who are “exceptional” on the low end and those “exceptional” on the high end.
What will you see in it?
I see five stars.
(7) TAPPING INTO TED WHITE. Fanac.org posted a second installment of Ted White’s livestreamed interview, conducted by John D. Berry.
Ted White has been a science fiction fan for over 70 years, as well as an artist, fanzine editor and publisher, professional writer, editor and jazz critic. Interviewer John D. Berry has known Ted for more than 50 years.
In part 2 of the January 23, 2021 interview, Ted talks about how he began writing professional science fiction, and the influence of Marion Zimmer Bradley, Terry Carr, Bob Tucker and others. There are anecdotes of the New York Fanoclasts and of how the bid for the 1967 NyCon3 came about.
Ted discusses “The Club House” column in Amazing Stories, responsible for bringing many into fandom in the early 1970s, and speaks of his many fanzine collaborations, along with challenges along the way. This Zoom interview was very well received by all the attendees, who clamored for more. Look for the next part of the interview.
…Pitched as humorous, adult-orientated animated series in the Star Trek universe, the series creator is Mike McMahan, a lead writer from Rick and Morty. However, the show’s humour is both less crude and less imaginative than that show, indeed overall it pitches itself at ‘amusing’ rather than ‘funny’. The obvious comparison is with The Orville, rather than Galaxy Quest or John Scalzi’s Redshirts….
Issue #5 features writing from games critic Emma Kostopolus, on the space opera game Mass Effect 3 (2012), and writer and educator Malik Toms, on John Sayles’ The Brother from Another Planet (1984), as well as a piece from me about the collection Scotland in Space (2019).
(10) MEMORY LANE.
2000 — Twenty one years ago at Chicon 2000, Galaxy Quest, a DreamWorks film, would win the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. It would edge out The Matrix (which lost by just three votes), The Sixth Sense, Being John Malkovich and The Iron Giant. It was directed by Dean Parisot. Screenwriters David Howard and Robert Gordon worked off the story by David Howard. It’s considered by many Trekkies to the best Trek film ever made.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born January 28, 1820 – Vilhelm Pedersen. First illustrator of Hans Christian Andersen; a hundred twenty-five in the five-volume 1849 edition. Indispensable like Tenniel’s for Lewis Carroll. Here is “The Top and Ball”. Here is “The Flying Trunk”. Here is “Hyldemor”. Here is “Thumbelina”. (Died 1859) [JH]
Born January 28, 1834 – Sabine Baring-Gould. Anglican priest, author of fiction, folklorist. Grandfather of the Holmes scholar. Wrote “Onward, Christian Soldiers” (music by Sir Arthur Sullivan). This edition including Curious Myths of the Middle Ages and Were-wolves appeared recently. (Died 1924) [JH]
Born January 28, 1929 — Parke Godwin. I’ve read a number of his novels and I fondly remember in particular Sherwood and Robin and the King. If you’ve not read his excellent Firelord series, I do recommend you do so. So who has read his Beowulf series? (Died 2013.) (CE)
Born January 28, 1931 – Komatsu Sakyô. (Personal name last, Japanese style.) Leading Japanese SF author. Most famous for Japan Sinks. Two shorter stories in this collection. Author Guest of Honor at Nippon2007 the 65th Worldcon – of which, incidentally, you can see my report here (PDF). (Died 2011) [JH]
Born January 28, 1957 – Joanne Findon, Ph.D., age 64. Assistant Professor of English at Trent Univ. (Peterborough, Ontario). Two novels for us. “I blame my two lifelong passions – writing fiction and studying the past – on … Lloyd Alexander.” More here. [JH]
Born January 28, 1959 — Frank Darabont, 62. Early on, he was mostly a screenwriter for horror films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, The Blob and The Fly II, allminor horror films. As a director, he’s much better known as he’s done, The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption and The Mist. He also developed and executive-produced the first season of The Walking Dead. He also wrote Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein that I like a lot. (CE)
Born January 28, 1981 — Elijah Wood, 40. His first genre role is as Video-Game Boy #2 in Back to the Future Part II. He next shows up as Nat Cooper in Forever Young followed by playing Leo Biederman In Deep Impact. Up next was his performance as Frodo Baggins In The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit films. Confession time: I watched the very first of these. Wasn’t impressed. He’s done some other genre work as well including playing Todd Brotzman in the Beeb’s superb production of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. (CE)
Born January 28, 1985 — Tom Hopper, 36. His principal genre role was on the BBC Merlin series as Sir Percival. He also shows up in Doctor Who playing Jeff during the “The Eleventh Hour” episode which would be during the time of the Eleventh Doctor. He’s also Luther Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy which is an adaptation of the comic book series of the same name, created by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá. (CE)
Born January 28, 1986 – Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, age 35. This historic champion track & field athlete has recently written half a dozen children’s fantasies with Elen Caldecott, may the name be for a good omen. Here’s the latest I know of. [JH]
Born January 28, 1998 — Ariel Winter, 23. Voice actress whose shown up in such productions as Mr. Peabody & Sherman as Penny Peterson, Horton Hears a Who!, DC Showcase: Green Arrow as Princess Perdita and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns as Carrie Kelly (Robin). She’s got several one-off live performances on genre series, The Haunting Hour: The Series and Ghost Whisperer. (CE)
(12) COMICS SECTION.
At xkcd Randall Munroe has a couple more installments on his living in a scaled world series:
The poll will be open from January 11 to February 8, after which we’ll announce the results. We’re excited for you to share which Uncanny stories made you feel!
A snazzy certificate will be given to the creator whose work comes out on top of the poll!
(14) CON CALLS ON FANS FOR HELP. “Otakon Discusses Future, Asks for Donations” reports the Anime News Network. Their 2021 event is scheduled to be held at Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. from August 6 to 8. Last year’s Otakon was cancelled.
Otakorp president Brooke Zerrlaut announced in a newsletter on Thursday that the organization is requesting donations for the first time. The Otakon convention’s staff are continuing to evaluate plans for 2021 and noted that the event may “potentially close” permanently.
The newsletter explained that Otakorp, a volunteer-run non-profit organization, runs the annual Otakon convention dedicated to Asian culture. Because of the cancelation of Otakon 2020 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization is in a “precarious position.”
The makers of the new Vimeo documentary, The Last Wolf: Karl Edward Wagner, have trained their lens on an elusive horror and fantasy writer with a cult following. Besides the stories of supernatural and psychological terror collected in In a Lonely Place (1983) and Why Not You and I? (1987), Wagner spun tales about Kane, a hero sometimes compared to Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, who wanders and fights his way through a fantasy realm peopled with brigands, thieves, sorcerers, monks, and shapeshifters. This body of work exceeds the better-known Conan mythos in its sexuality and violence, tropes that Wagner used with uneven results.
Wagner was also a longtime editor of the Year’s Best Horror Stories series, showcasing the work of Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Harlan Ellison, Robert Bloch, Brian Lumley, Elizabeth Hand, David J. Schow, T.E.D. Klein, Charles L. Grant, Dennis Etchison, and dozens of others in the field. A few of these scribes appear in The Last Wolf, with especially vivid remembrances coming from Campbell and Etchison. Peter Straub, who wrote a foreword to In a Lonely Place, also has a lot to say.
…The sources interviewed in The Last Wolf render a portrait of an ambitious youth who collected paperbacks, became well known to the staff of a used bookshop in Knoxville through constant visits, and liked to freak out his nephews with spooky tales as they lay in their beds by an open window. While still in high school, Wagner meets a charming young woman, Barbara Mott, on a double date. He later marries her. His career enters high gear in the 1970s as he churns out stories, but not novels, and he stays busy writing and editing through the 1980s and 1990s, almost right up to his death.
“The Fourth Seal” is about a scientist looking to cure cancer. Wagner became the victim of something comparable its destructiveness. The Last Wolf doesn’t skirt around the plunge into alcoholism that drew growing concern on the part of Wagner’s peers in the weird field and led to the end of his marriage. Some of the recollections are hard to take.
Our Author of the Month for February is the American Science Fiction writer Octavia E. Butler.
In her many sometimes interlocking works Butler asks questions about race, gender and, pre-eminently, hierarchy in startling ways, and to offer equally startling versions of possible futures, often dystopian, that are uncannily like the present. This is extraordinary writing, written against the grain of gender and race prejudice and against the grain of Butler’s own persistent writer’s block.
Start with her masterpiece Kindred. We’re next to certain you won’t stop there.
(17) A GLIMPSE OF SF HISTORY. Samuel R. Delany reminisced about Judith Merril in a Facebook post.
Judith Merrill [sic] (Boston, 21 Jan 1923—Toronto, 12 Sept 1997), was—for the last years of her life, one of my best friends in the science fiction world, and thus, like all of her friends, to me she was “Judy” and I—to her—was “Chip.” We could never quite agree about where we met. During the time I was sharing a room with my friend, Bob Aarenberg, at the St. Marks Arms, on West 113th St., in NYC, and in our upstairs neighbor Randy Garrett took me to a party in Greenwich Village, where I met her and talked with her quite a while. But a few years later, she had no memory of that meeting. But as a kid I’d read her collaborations with C. M. [K]ornbluth (the Gunner Cade books), and thoroughly enjoyed them; I’d read a handful full of her stories—”Only a Mother,” which I felt was okay, but also “Dead Center” which I felt was much stronger (and still do after several rereadings of both and others)—but the writings of hers that meant most to me was her critical work….
…The Simultaneous Times Newsletter started when the pandemic lockdowns started. Usually I’m at my bookstore six days a week, and since we specialize in science fiction, most of my conversations center around the genre. Immediately I began to miss the conversations and my customers, so I started the newsletter as a way to stay connected with science fiction fans. Since then it has just grown. But we still give free subscriptions. I thought people would prefer to get a letter in the mail over receiving an email.
What format do you use for your site or zine (blog, e-mail newsletter, PDF zine, paper zine) and why did you choose this format?
Several members of my team, including myself, have a background in radio. When we all started talking about starting a podcast we decided that we wanted to produce the program the way that radio shows were produced in the past. Really take the radio arts approach instead of going with modern trends in podcasting. Since then we’ve even teamed up with the radio station KZZH 96.7 in Northern California, so our program did end up on the air.
The Newsletter is print because I wanted to put something physical in people’s hands, especially during this time of not being able to see each other. That being said, I have started to put the back issues on our website, so the archive is available to everyone
(20) IT’S PEOPLE! Shiv Ramdas comments on a trending topic. Thread starts here.
(21) THE SINS OF STARSHIP TROOPERS. [Item by Dann.] The guys at Cinema Sins have “Everything Wrong With Starship Troopers in 19 Minutes or Less”. (Parenthetically, I’m not looking for the 5,681st iteration of “The book is better than the movie” or the 12,259th iteration of “Verhoeven never read the book!”. I like ’em both for different reasons. And the Cinema Sins guys are great.)
…In recent years, Amazon’s e-books market has nurtured a flourishing cottage industry of self-published romance and erotic literature –and the Trump years have inspired many to put pen to paper. The most successful authors (most write under pseudonyms) are known for their prolific publication, thesaurus-aided descriptions of the human anatomy, and responsiveness to current events.
The surreality of the past four years was particularly generative of their creative juices. With the Trump era now drawn to a chaotic close, we decided to review four of the most memorable entries in this niche literary genre.
I’m strangely drawn to the title “My Antifa Lover”, although slightly disappointed that Conroy opted to review Chuck Tingle’s Pounded In The Butt By The Handsome Physical Manifestation Of Tromp’s [sic] Twitter Ban That Should’ve Come Years Sooner But Fine Now That It’s Here High Five rather than the frankly superior Domald Tromp [sic] Pounded In The Butt By The Handsome Russian T-Rex Who Also Peed On His Butt And Then Blackmailed Him With The Videos Of His Butt Getting Peed On. No, I have no idea how the internet got us here either, really.
I feel compelled to note that the reviewer gave Tingle’s work 5/5.
(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In the 1780s, a charismatic healer caused a stir in Paris. An amusing video about the history of Mesmer’s methods and how he influenced medicine in the late 18th Century. Vox recalls The phony health craze that inspired hypnotism”.
Scientific progress in the 18th century in Europe, a period known as the “Age of Enlightenment,” was demystifying the universe with breakthroughs in chemistry, physics, and philosophy. But medical practices were still relying on centuries-old treatments, like leeching and bloodletting, which were painful and often ineffective. So when Franz Anton Mesmer, a charismatic physician from Vienna, began “healing” people in Paris using an alternative therapeutic practice he called “animal magnetism,” it got a lot of attention. Mesmer claimed that an invisible magnetic fluid was the life force that connected all things and that he had the power to regulate it to restore health in his patients. He was a celebrity figure until the King of France, Louis XVI, commissioned a group of leading scientists to investigate his methods in 1784. Benjamin Franklin headed the commission, and they debunked the existence of the magnetic fluid in the first-known blind experiment. Mesmer was ruined, but “mesmerism” didn’t end there. The report also acknowledged that Mesmer’s methods were making his patients feel better, which they attributed to the power of the human imagination. This experiment ultimately laid the groundwork for our understanding of the placebo effect and inspired an evolution of Mesmer’s practice into something more recognizable today: hypnotism.
[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Dann, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Mlex, Joey Eschrich, Rob Thornton, Michael J. Walsh, PhilRM, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer, who has ridden the fourth horse once before.]
(1) CHALLENGER COIN. On January 28, the 35th anniversary of the Challenger shuttle disaster, the U.S. Mint will release the Christa McAuliffe 2021 Proof Silver Dollar and Christa McAuliffe 2021 Uncirculated Silver Dollar. [H/t to Guy Lillian III.]
In 2021, the United States Mint will mint silver dollars with proof and uncirculated finishes to commemorate the life of Christa McAuliffe, a social studies teacher selected in 1985 to be the first participant in NASA’s Teacher in Space Program. On January 28, 1986, McAuliffe and six astronauts were tragically killed during the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Her memory and dedication live on.
Surcharges in the amount of $10 for each silver dollar sold are authorized to be paid to the FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics program to engage and inspire young people—through mentor-based programs—to become leaders in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
FIRST is dedicated to carrying on the legacy of Christa McAuliffe by inspiring students and creating a new generation of dreamers and innovators.
Obverse Features a portrait of Christa McAuliffe with a hopeful gaze. Inscriptions are “CHRISTA McAULIFFE,” “2021,” “LIBERTY,” and “IN GOD WE TRUST.”
Reverse Depicts Christa McAuliffe as a teacher, smiling as she points forward and upward—symbolizing the future. Three high school-age students look on with wonder. The seven stars above them pay tribute to those who perished in the Challenger tragedy.
…“I was in the middle of running an empire,” Davies said of his time on Doctor Who. “And my god I did that 10 years too soon, didn’t I?”
The screenwriter is referencing the point at which his run on the show included spin-offs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, which ran alongside – and occasionally crossed over with – the main series.
Notably, this was before Marvel Studios enjoyed its meteoric surge in popularity, normalising the concept of shared universes in film and television.
Davies continued: “There should be a Doctor Who channel now. You look at those Disney announcements, of all those new Star Wars and Marvel shows, you think, we should be sitting here announcing The Nyssa Adventures or The Return of Donna Noble, and you should have the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors together in a 10-part series. Genuinely.”
The most recent Doctor Who spin-offs are 2016’s Class, which was cancelled after one season, and the recent YouTube series Daleks!, consisting of five episodes between 10-15 minutes long.
We can get the long view of the past year from the list of the top 20 adult graphic novels in the book channel, based on NPD BookScan data for 2020 (1/5/20-1/2/21) provided to ICv2.
The top selling title is Volume 1 of My Hero Academia, which isn’t surprising as it has been leading the monthly charts lately. Nine of the top 20 slots are volumes of this series, and the fact that the first five and the last four volumes are the ones that are selling best indicate two things: New readers continue to come to the series, and they are sticking with it. It’s not unusual to see the first volume or two of a series sell well enough to make the chart, but these nine volumes suggest this is a series people are sticking with.
The remaining manga are all first volumes (or in the cast of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the first two).
(4) MONSTER MASH. The Godzilla vs. Kong Official Trailer has dropped. In theaters and streaming exclusively on HBOMax on March 26. SYFY Wiresets the stage.
Directed by Adam Wingard (Death Note), the film sees the return of Godzilla: King of the Monsters stars Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler, along with franchise newcomers Alexander Skarsgard, Brain Tyree Henry, Rebecca Hall, and Demian Bichir, among others. And from what we can gather, they’re in for a seismic shakeup: The story focuses on a young girl named Jia (Kaylee Hottle), who it seems can communicate with Kong. The girl’s gifts may prove essential to a team of experts, led by Skarsgard, who seek the hulking beast. “We need Kong,” Skarsgard’s character, Nathan Lind, implores. “The world needs him, to stop what’s coming.”
(5) ZOOMING WITH TED WHITE. Fanac.org’s Joe Siclari says their Fan History Zoom series featuring a Ted White interview by John D. Berry “was very successful with over 50 people signed up for the Zoom. The session was planned for about an hour and went over two hours. And people clamored for more.”
And in fact they’re getting more. Siclari says they have scheduled a continuation session for Saturday February 6 at 4 p.m. Please RSVP at [email protected]
In the first session Ted told about his fannish Origins and about his early career as a jazz music critic. He covered things like fanzine design and theory, working with 1950s fanzine editors, starting a Worldcon in New York City and other interesting topics. Part one of the first session is now on our YouTube Fan History Channel.
…Mr. Bernstein was considered untouchable both in Hollywood and in the fledgling television industry in New York once his name appeared in “Red Channels,” an anti-Communist tract published in 1950 by the right-wing journal Counterattack.
“I was listed right after Lenny Bernstein,” Mr. Bernstein recalled. “There were about eight listings for me, and they were all true.” He had indeed written for the leftist New Masses, been a member of the Communist Party and supported Soviet relief, the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War and civil rights.
Mr. Bernstein and other blacklisted writers were forced to work under assumed names for sympathetic filmmakers like Sidney Lumet, who used Mr. Bernstein, now back in New York, throughout the ’50s on “You Are There,” the CBS program hosted by Walter Cronkite that re-enacted great moments in history.
It was during this period that Mr. Bernstein and his colleagues, notably the writers Abraham Polonsky and Arnold Manoff, began the ruse of protecting their anonymity by sending stand-ins to represent them at meetings with producers, a ploy later dramatized in “The Front.” (In addition to Mr. Allen, the movie starred Zero Mostel, who, like the film’s director, Mr. Ritt, had also been blacklisted.)
“Suddenly, the blacklist had achieved for the writer what he had previously only aspired to,” Mr. Bernstein joked in “Inside Out.” “He was considered necessary.”…
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
January 24, 1969 — Trek’s “That Which Survives” first aired on NBC.
“What is it, Jim?”
“A planet that even Spock can’t explain.”
– McCoy and Kirk, on the Kalandan outpost
This episode has the Enterprise crew members stranded on a ghost planet and terrorized by Losira, the image of a beautiful woman. (Former Miss America Lee Meriwether plays her.) It was the seventh episode of the final season. It was directed by Herb Wallerstein. It was written by John Meredyth Lucas as based on a story by D.C. Fontana under the pseudonym Michael Richards. In her original “Survival” story, Losira is much more brutal, and actively encourages the crew to turn on each other and fight.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born January 24, 1776 – E.T.A. Hoffmann. Author of words, music, graphics; jurist; theater manager; critic; three novels, fifty shorter stories for us; source of Offenbach’s opera Tales of Hoffmann, Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker, Delibes’ ballet Coppélia; as A.J. Budrys said in the Jul 68 Galaxy, “a gifted music critic and competent composer…. this man, who was real and who thought some very interesting thoughts, [laid] down the groundwork for some of our most enduring themes,” recommending particularly “The Golden Flower Pot,” “Automata,” and “The Sand-Man” in Bleiler ed. 1968, The Best Tales of Hoffmann, whose cover illustration is by H. (Died 1822) [JH]
Born January 24, 1862 – Edith Wharton. Two dozen short stories for us (alas, “A Bottle of Evian” was republished as “A Bottle of Perrier”, but tastes vary), well known otherwise e.g. for The Age of Innocence (with which she was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature). Fluent in French, German, Italian. Active supporter of French World War I efforts; Legion of Honor. Honorary doctorate from Yale. Fifteen novels, ninety shorter stories, poetry, design, travel, criticism, memoir A Backward Glance. (Died 1937) [JH]
Born January 24, 1911 — C. L. Moore. Author and wife of Henry Kuttner until his death in 1958. Their work was written collaboratively resulting in such delightful stories as “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” and “Vintage Season”, both of which were turned into films which weren’t as good as the stories. She had a strong writing career prior to her marriage as well with such fiction as “Shambleau” which involves her most famous character Northwest Smith. I’d also single out “Nymph of Darkness” which she wrote with Forrest J Ackerman. I’ll not overlook her Jirel of Joiry, one of the first female sword and sorcery characters, and the “Black God’s Kiss” story is the first tale she wrote of her adventures. She retired from writing genre fiction after he died, writing only scripts for writing episodes of Sugarfoot, Maverick, The Alaskans and77 Sunset Strip, in the late fifties and early sixties. Checking iBooks, Deversion Books offers a nearly eleven hundred page collection of their fiction for a mere three bucks. Is their works in the public domain now? (Died 1987.) (CE)
Born January 24, 1917 — Ernest Borgnine. I think his first genre role was Al Martin in Willard but if y’all know of something earlier I’m sure you’ll tell me. He’s Harry Booth in The Black Hole, a film whose charms still escape me entirely. Next up for him is the cabbie in the superb Escape from New York. In the same year, he’s nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor as Isaiah Schmidt in the horror film Deadly Blessing. A few years later, he’s The Lion in a version of Alice in Wonderland. Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders is horror and his Grandfather isn’t that kindly. He voices Kip Killigan in Small Soldiers which I liked, and I think his last role was voicing Command in Enemy Mind (2010). Series wise let’s see… it’s possible that his first SF role was as Nargola on Captain Video and His Video Rangers way back in 1951. After that he shows up in, and I’ll just list the series for the sake of brevity, Get Smart, Future Cop, The Ghost of Flight 401, Airwolf where of course he’s regular cast, Treasure Island in Outer Space and Touched by an Angel. (Died 2012.) (CE)
Born January 24, 1930 – John Romita, age 91. Worked for Atlas, DC, eventually transforming Marvel’s Spider-Man from the drawing of Steve Ditko (although “People laugh when I say this, but…. I wanted to stay on Daredevil”), among much else designing Mary Jane Watson, the Rhino, the Kingpin. Marvel’s Art Director. Inkpot Award. Eisner Hall of Fame. Sinnott Hall of Fame. [JH]
Born January 24, 1936 – Douglas Chaffee. Fifty covers, forty interiors for us; Dungeons & Dragons; Magic, the Gathering. Head of IBM’s Art Department. NASA, the Navy, National Geographic (illustrating Carl Sagan on Mars, I mean about Mars), Bible schools. Artist Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 29, Archon 19, EerieCon 3. Phoenix Award. Frank Paul Award. Here is the Apr 67 Galaxy. Here is the Dec 72 Fantastic. Here is the Program Book for ConFederation the 44th Worldcon. More archived here. (Died 2011) [JH]
Born January 24, 1942 — Gary K. Wolf, 78. He is best known as the author of Who Censored Roger Rabbit? which was adapted into Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It bears very little resemblance to the film. Who P-P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit? which was written later hews much closer to the characters and realties of the film. (CE)
Born January 24, 1944 — David Gerrold, 77. Let’s see… He of course scripted “The Trouble With Tribbles” which I absolutely love, wrote the amazing patch-up novel When HARLIE Was One, has his ongoing War Against the Chtorr series, and wrote, with Robert Sawyer, Boarding the Enterprise: Transporters, Tribbles, and the Vulcan Death Grip in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. Setting his work as a novel writer, he’s been a screenwriter for Star Trek, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Land of the Lost, Logan’s Run (the series), Superboy, Babylon 5, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Sliders, Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II, and Axanar. Very, very impressive. (CE)
Born January 24, 1947 – Michio Kaku, Ph.D., age 74. (Personal name first, U.S. style.) Physicist and, as it has been called, physics outreach specialist, e.g. Hyperspace, Physics of the Impossible, Physics of the Future, radio, television, film. Summa cum laude at Harvard (and indeed won the Hertz Engineering Scholarship, but I ain’t talkin’). Professor of theoretical physics at City College NY. String-theory pioneer. Interviewed in Lightspeed. [JH]
Born January 24, 1949 — John Belushi. No, he was no in a single SFF series or film that I can mention here though he did voice work on one such undertaking early in his career that I’ll not mention here as it’s clearly pornographic in nature. No, he’s here for his brilliant parody of Shatner as Captain Kirk which he did on Saturday Night Live which you can watch here. (Died 1982) (CE)
Born January 24, 1967 — Phil LaMarr, 54. Best known I think for his voice work which, and this is a partial list, includes Young Justice (Aquaman among others), the lead role on Static Shock, John Stewart aka Green Lantern on Justice League Unlimited, Robbie Robertson on The Spectacular Spider-Man, various roles on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and T’Shan on Black Panther. Live roles include playing a Jazz singer in the “Shoot Up the Charts” episode of Get Smart, a doctor on The Muppets in their ”Generally Inhospitable” segment, a lawyer in the “Weaponizer” episode of Lucifer and the voice of Rag Doll in the “All Rag Doll’d Up” episode of The Flash. (CE)
Born January 24, 1986 – Aimée Carter, age 35. Nine novels, half a dozen shorter stories for us; eight other novels. Tae kwon do first-degree black belt. Her Univ. Michigan degree in Screen Arts & Cultures is “a fancy way of saying [I] watched a lot of old movies and wrote a lot of bad screenplays”. [JH]
(9) ROY V. HUNT ART BOOK. First Fandom Experience’s retrospective of the fan, artist and illustrator Roy V. Hunt is available for pre-order.
This 144-page volume offers an extensive collection that covers the full span of Hunt’s career. It includes many exceptionally scarce fanzine illustrations, amazing wood block prints created for the WPA in the 1940s and his professional work for pulps and FPCI. Hunt’s work is put in perspective in a foreword by Martin Mahoney, Director of Operations and Collections at the Norman Rockwell Museum. As you’d expect from FFE, we include lots of historical context and a full index of works.
…Roy Vernon Hunt lived and worked in Denver, Colorado from 1914 until his passing in 1986. His first published art appeared in the fanzine The Alchemist in February 1940. Hunt was a founding member of the Colorado Fantasy Society, a group formed to organize the 1941 World Science Fiction Convention in Denver.
Hunt is obscure, even among ardent science fiction historians. Our interest was first sparked by a remarkable artifact: an illustration included in the Spring 1941 issue of the fanzine Starlight. The image struck us as perhaps the best ever rendering of H.P. Lovecraft’s iconic Elder God, Cthulhu….
(10) IWERKS, THE NEXT GENERATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I heard a podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Leslie Iwerks, Iwerks comes from Disney royalty. Her grandfather, Ub Iwerks, collaborated with Disney on very early cartoons, when he could personally produce 700 drawings a day. He then was poached by another studio for a few years and returned to Disney as chief technical officer and the first “imagineer,” Iwerks’ father, Don Iwerks, is, at 91, one of the few people who knew Walt Disney well enough to tell Disney stories.
Iwerks heads Iwerks & Co., and half of her films are environmental (including one on residents of a garbage dump in Guatemala that was Oscar nominated) that and half are genre-related, She’s done two films about Pixar and one on the League of Legends video game. Her most recent achievement is “The Imagineering Story,” a six-part documentary about the technical side of Disney that is the most streamed show on Disney Plus after The Mandalorian. It took her five years to produce and has a lot of rare archival footage.
Her website is iwerksandco.com. Here is the trailer for “The Imagineering Story.”
(11) YOUNGARTS. In the WASHINGTON POST, Kelsey Ables reports on a program of the National YoungArts program where 19 artists were commissioned to make portraits of birds and the paintings are being turned into a four-minute animated film by Igor + Valentine which will be posted on the YoungArts website tomorrow night. YoungArts will then sell 1,500 stills from the film for $175 each with proceeds to be split between the foundation and the artists who supplied the paintings. “National YoungArts Foundation releases animated short with work by KAWS and Shepard Fairey”.
… Set to debut on the YoungArts website on Monday at 8 p.m., “Together” features work by 18 artists, who were each commissioned to create a bird. The works — polymer clay, embroidery on canvas, paintings — have been animated by Igor + Valentine. The final product, a four-minute-long short, is a collage of moving images set to meditative music by YoungArts alumna Nora Kroll Rosenbaum.
“Together” boasts contributions from big-name artists like art-market star KAWS and Shepard Fairey — of Barack Obama “Hope” poster fame — both supporters of YoungArts.Fairey’s contribution, a brown thrasher rendered in red ink, has his signature street-inspired wheatpaste look, and KAWS’s bird is immediately recognizable for its X-ed out eyes. But with an eclectic array of contributions — there is a cartoony, triangular bird by Isabela Dos Santos and a more abstract creation from Sheree Hovsepian — the video is less about individual artists standing out than it is about mixing disparate artistic styles. Bringing artists together that you would be unlikely to see congregated in a single gallery — let alone on the same canvas — the video is born of experimentation necessitated by a covid-19 world. YoungArts says it is meant as a message of solidarity and interconnectedness. And at an arts-starved moment, it’s a visual treat….
… Interviews with more than 20 current and former CD Projekt staff, most of whom requested anonymity so as not to risk their careers, depict a development process marred by unchecked ambition, poor planning and technical shortcomings.
… Adrian Jakubiak, a former audio programmer for CD Projekt, said one of his colleagues asked during a meeting how the company thought it would be able to pull off a technically more challenging project in the same timeframe as The Witcher. “Someone answered: ‘We’ll figure it out along the way,’” he said.
For years, CD Projekt had thrived on that mentality. But this time, the company wasn’t able to pull it off. “I knew it wasn’t going to go well,” said Jakubiak. “I just didn’t know how disastrous it would be.”
Part of the fans’ disappointment is proportional to the amount of time they spent waiting for the game. Although Cyberpunk was announced in 2012, the company was then still mainly focused on its last title and full development didn’t start until late 2016, employees said. That was when CD Projekt essentially hit the reset button, according to people familiar with the project.
Studio head Adam Badowski took over as director, demanding overhauls to Cyberpunk’s gameplay and story. For the next year, everything was changing, including fundamental elements like the game-play perspective. Top staff who had worked on The Witcher 3 had strong opinions on how Cyberpunk should be made, which clashed with Badowski and lead to the eventual departure of several top developers….
(13) ROCK ‘N ROLL. How’d you like that staring back at you from a geode?
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Danny Sichel.]