(1) IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR. Somebody reading this needs a ThinkGeek Steampunk Styled Tesla Analog Watch.
Tesla came up with all sorts of inventions and has sort of become the poster scientist for awesomeness now. Sure he wasn’t perfect. Sure he was a bit crazy. But he was always on time for his appointments. (Ed. note: We made that up.) And now you can be, too, with the new Tesla Watch.
The Tesla Watch goes with your steampunk aesthetic. With a weathered-brass look on all the metal parts, this analog watch features a leather strap. The highlights of this design, however, are the two faux vacuum tubes with red LEDs inside that you can turn on and off with the flick of a switch. Everybody will want to ask you what time it is so they can see your watch. Just remember to follow the answer with, “… 1875.”
(2) ACADEMY MUSEUM. The opening of The Academy Museum in 2019 is more than a year away, however, they have a website to satisfy your curiosity about what’s coming:
The Academy Museum will be the world’s premier institution dedicated to the art and science of movies. Located on Wilshire and Fairfax in Los Angeles, the Museum, will be simultaneously immersive, experimental, educational, and entertaining. More than a museum, this dynamic film center will offer unparalleled experiences and insights into movies and moviemaking.
The Museum will have huge resources to draw its exhibits from:
The Academy’s unparalleled permanent collection contains more than 10 million photographs, 190,000 film and video assets, 80,000 screenplays, 50,000 posters, 20,000 production and costume design drawings, and 1,400 special collections.
Their Rick Baker page illustrates the range of their offerings, in photos, videos, and documents.
A record-holding winner of seven Academy Awards for Makeup out of eleven nominations, Rick Baker is a lifelong “monster kid” who won the first competitive Oscar awarded in that category for his innovative work on An American Werewolf in London (1981), one of several collaborations with director John Landis. His apprenticeship under one of the industry’s greatest makeup artists, Dick Smith (including working as his assistant on The Exorcist), prepared him for a career providing cutting-edge makeup effects in many genres ranging from comedy to science fiction to horror, with titles including Ed Wood (1994), The Nutty Professor (1996) and Men in Black (1998).
(3) ONE MAGAZINE, ONE YEAR. Standback has Storified his “Favorite Stories From F&SF Magazine, 2017”:
F&SF is a magazine that always fills me with joy, wonder, and feels. A quick rundown of my favorite stories of 2017.
My favorites. You should read MY FAVORITES first (a thread):
— Ziv W (@QuiteVague) November 16, 2017
(4) THE REASON FOR THE FIFTH SEASON. N.K. Jemisin’s Twitter stream is filled with holiday song mashups today.
Rudolf the oddball Strong-back
Had a liking for books
And if you'd let him read them
Chances were he'd come and look.
All of the other strongbacks
Used to shake their heads and say
"Rudolf you put that book down!
We've got lots of work to-day!"
— A Mechanical Yukon Cornelius (@StripeyType) December 20, 2017
(5) SURPRISES. John Scalzi did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” today. You never know what you’re going to learn.
Q: Do you often set out to write a book to be a series? Or do some of them just insist that you write more in that universe?
SCALZI: Only once: The Collapsing Empire, which we knew was the first installment of a series. Everything else was written standalone, and became series in when they sold well and the publisher asked for more.
(6) NEW SPECULATIVE FICTION AWARDS. Darthmouth College’s Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College has created two new literary awards, the Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Speculative Fiction and the Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Debut Speculative Fiction, For A First Book. Each award comes with an honorarium of $5,000. The deadline for entry is December 31, 2017. Complete information about eligibility and submission guidelines is at the linked sites.
(7) TOYS, FIGURATIVE AND LITERAL. While Rian Johnson reasonably says — “You Have To Take The Toys Out Of The Box.” Rian Johnson Talks Creative Risks In “The Last Jedi” (at Fast Company), not as many people are doing that literally this year — “Star Wars ‘Last Jedi’ Toy Shipments Down Sharply From ‘Force Awakens'” (from The Hollywood Reporter.)
(8) WFC PROGRAMMING SURVEY. World Fantasy Con 2018 co-chair Bill Lawhorn announces they have put up a programming survey on their website — http://www.wfc2018.org/programsuggest.php
Lawhorn says, “You do not need to be a member to suggest ideas. There are no guarantees that any individual suggestion will be used.”
One of the things they’re looking for are items that carry out the WFC 2018 themes “Ports in a Storm” and “Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Frankenstein.”
(9) U.F.O. 6. Laura Resnick has a story in Unidentified Funny Objects 6 called “Lost & Found”. That story has a backstory.
I used to work part-time at a community newspaper. It should have been a great job. The hours, the location, the work, the community, and the rest of the staff were all pleasant, and the pay was okay.
Unfortunately, though, the boss (who was the editor, publisher, and owner of the paper) was an incredibly toxic person, which made working there miserable and stressful, despite all the positive attributes the place otherwise had….
Well, at one point, the boss wanted to print some “joke” stories in the newspaper. He presented staffers with a few real news stories that he wanted us to riff on. I selected one about NASA, wrote my story as directed, and turned it in. After reading it, the boss informed me that this story was not at all what he had wanted. In fact, it was what he had asked for, but now he was asking for something else. So I wrote another draft. He sent this one back to me with some notes. I revised the material in accordance with the notes and turned it in. Now he gave me all-new feedback, stuff he had not said on any previous iteration, and had me revise it again. I did so. And then he did the same thing again.
Next, he told me to start all over from scratch. He couldn’t articulate why, he just knew he wanted something else. I pointed out that I had already done 5 versions. He said I would probably have to do 10 or 12 versions before we were done….
The sad part, so to speak, was that the pieces he kept spiking were funny, and none of them ever saw the light of day.
So when Alex Shvartsman asked me to participate in UFO6, I decided to turn my ideas for that article into a short story. The result is “Lost & Found,” in which some surprising visitors emerge from a UFO orbiting Earth.
And apparently someone thinks I can write humor, since Imagine A Book SF gave my story 5 stars and said, “So many different layers of humor. Wonderful.”
Yep, getting published is still the best revenge.
(10) HELP WANTED. Roger Silverstein is trying to identify a story —
Tim Pratt posted this on Facebook a little while back, he is hunting for a half-remembered fantasy story. I actually remember reading this story, but I cannot remember the dang title. This is bugging me almost as much as it bugs him. Would you be willing to post this? (I emailed Tim Pratt for permission to copy and paste and he said “Sure, feel free” He has posted this in various places, but never File 770.
I’ve been trying to track down a half-remembered story for the past 25 years or so. Maybe one of you will recognize it. Google always fails me, either because it’s an obscure story with no digital footprint, or because I’m misremembering salient details. I was reading some rooming house stories by Theodore Sturgeon today, and it reminded me.
The story is set in a boarding house, full of peculiar characters, many of whom have supernatural powers. There’s one man who travels the world and fixes tears in reality; I think he’s described as having “lightning in his hands.” There’s an old woman who sees angels, or maybe just one angel, I think named Toby. There’s a man with magical mechanical aptitude; I think he fixes up an old car, and takes a left turn, and the car disappears, taking him with it. There’s someone who can make things you desire appear, maybe — they make the angel the old woman sees visible to everyone, at one point; that’s one of the hazier details. I don’t remember the plot at all. I probably read it in an anthology or SF magazine that was available at the Wayne Country library in Goldsboro North Carolina in the early ’90s, but it could be from any year before that.
Ring any bells? It’s entirely possible I’m misremembering or even conflating. It was a long time ago, but the story made a big impression on my fledgling writer brain, and I’d love to find it again.
(11) SPEAR CARRIER. “Remember That Guy Who Speared a Drone At a Ren Faire?” (Reference is to this video.) They made a runestone of his feat.
(12) TRIVIAL TRIVIA
Rudyard, Montana is the only populated place in the US where if you drill through the earth you wind up on land — the Kerguelan Island in the South Indian Ocean.
(13) TODAY IN HISTORY
- December 20, 1961 – Mysterious Island premieres.
- December 20, 1963 – The Twilight Zone episode “Ninety Years Without Slumbering” airs. SyFy Wire devotes a post to it — “Celebrating the 1963 premiere of ‘Ninety Years Without Slumbering'”.
The remarkable Ed Wynn makes his second and final appearance in The Twilight Zone as Sam Forstmann, a septuagenarian obsessed with maintaining the family grandfather clock. Sam is convinced that if the clock stops, he will die… a belief that baffles his family and the psychiatrist he visits (William Sargent).
- December 20, 1974 — Walt Disney’s The Island At The Top Of The World debuted.
- December 20, 1978 — The Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake opened.
- December 20, 1985 — Enemy Mine was released
(14) COMICS SECTION.
- If this link works, it will take you to Matthew Gallman’s incredible 360-degree cartoon spoofing The Last Jedi.
- Mike Kennedy says, “You haven’t seen that? Quelle horror!” – two Game of Thrones jokes, one in Pearls Before Swine, the other in Foxtrot.
- John King Tarpinian knew we wouldn’t want to miss this moderately horrible superhero-inspired pun — Brevity.
(15) MYTHBOOSTER. In the unlikely event somebody thinks Game of Thrones is science fiction rather than fantasy, Live Science’s Charles Q. Choi, in “Is the Ice Wall from ‘Game of Thrones’ Physically Possible?”, summarizes a paper by University of Alaska (Fairbanks) glaciologist Martin Truffer about whether “The Wall” in Game of Thrones could exist. He notes that ice flows over time and the only way to preserve a giant ice wall is to keep it at -40 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent the wall from cracking or deforming.
(16) FOR THE BIRDS. BBC covered the annual Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards:
An owl dangling precariously from a branch has scooped the overall prize of this year’s Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.
Out of the 3,500 entries, Tibor Kercz won the overall prize with his series of images showing an owl losing its footing and trying to claw its way back on to a branch.
Other entrants included a yawning dormouse, a photobombing sea turtle and a rather shocked seal.
(17) GORMENGHAST. John C. Wright griped about Gormenghast being published as fantasy, and prompted in response this terrific essay on the subject by Tom Simon, “Gormenghast and the Great Tradition”. (Hat tip to Niall McAuley.) At the end of his tour-de-force, Simon says –
In Britain, where genre labels count for less, the books found a permanent following years before anybody troubled to ask whether they were fantasies or not. In America, they were flung on the ash-heap by the strict rules of Modernism as practised by New York publishers, only to be rescued by Lin Carter. They are the very opposite of fairy tales; but they belong to Faërie nonetheless, for no less spacious realm will claim them. What the critics call ‘Realism’ is a small and besieged principality, entirely surrounded by the empire of Fantasy. On one side, the map says ‘Here Be Dragons’; the other side could plausibly be labelled ‘Gormenghast’. But both are provinces of the same boundless country.
That, my dear Mr. Wright, is why Titus Groan and Gormenghast count as fantasy.
(18) SMITHSONIAN CATS. SJW credentials for everything: “No Kitten Around: Museum Exhibit Celebrates ‘Divine Felines'”.
Independent, graceful, agile, adorable when they’re small — if cats are where it’s at for you, the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery of Asian Art has you covered. Their new exhibition is called Divine Felines, and it features images of cats both big and small from the land that honored them as holy: Egypt.
Ever feel fearful? Or brave? Protective? Aggressive? They had a cat for that in ancient Egypt….
(19) THE INSIDE GAME. The BBC asks — “Video games: How big is industry’s racial diversity problem?”.
When Uncharted: The Lost Legacy was released this year, it gained a lot of attention – not because it is the latest instalment for a popular franchise, it stood out for another reason.
The game was set in India, had two lead women, and one of them, Nadine Ross, is a black South African.
Other big releases this year include Assassins Creed Origins, which is set in Egypt with an African protagonist, while Star Wars Battlefront II used the likeness and voice of Janina Gavankar, an actress with part-Indian heritage.
But speaking to BBC Asian Network, Jo Twist, chief executive for Ukie, the trading body for the UK’s games industry, said there was still a long way to go before video games could be truly representative of the gaming audience.
(20) ABOUT FINN. Steven Barnes weighs in on “’The Last Jedi’ (2017)” – beware spoilers. (I thought this one mild enough to excerpt.)
I’m also still not happy with the amount of “Jar Jar” DNA in Finn. It is noticeable on a couple of levels, although they did allow his character to expand and grow some. When the very first thing we see with him is him falling out of bed, the first “buffoon laugh” of the film, you have a hill to climb, and they didn’t quite climb it. Finn’s treatment was an “othering” I didn’t appreciate. And if you defend it, you are, frankly, the reason I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized Marvel was seeking a black director for T’Challa’s saga.
(21) SFWA’S NEXT MEMBER? Jon Del Arroz publicly applied for SFWA membership today.
To SFWA’s leadership: You can check with all these people listed to verify payment, they are all members of your club. If you try some funky stuff to disqualify me, 10,000+ people who read this blog see it, that’s 5x the amount of members you have. I know you’ll play fair.
I guess we’re all interested to see what happens with that. My sympathy to whoever has to make the decision. I’d say it matters less whether his act is better or worse than other SFWA members’ than if there’s even more damage he could do once he’s inside the tent.
Maybe this is the answer.
I will be recording with a bodycam for anyone who is thinking of hijinx 🙂
— Jon Del Arroz???? (@jondelarroz) December 20, 2017
(22) DRINK UP. The Daily Beast’s Max Watman hasn’t been killed by doing it, and he sets out to convince others “Why You Should Be Drinking Month-Old Eggnog”.
My friends Ford and Lisa invited me to their “Nog Salon” this year, and I was thrilled to attend. For you see, Ford and Lisa are practitioners of the mysterious art of aging Eggnog. Yes, aging Eggnog is actually a thing. No, I don’t have a death wish. I was actually very excited to taste their mature Nog side by side with a fresh batch we were going to whip up together.
…But I’ve learned that aging Eggnog—contrary to anyone’s first gut instinct—actually can make it safer. To be clear, I’m not talking about the non-alcoholic cartons you buy in the supermarket but the boozy old-fashioned treat that’s made from scratch. In fact, it’s very important that your recipe contains a sufficient amount of liquor, generally recommended at around 20 percent, since the alcohol is key to killing bacteria.
(23) NOT THE GREATEST MOVIE. The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney tries to convince people to stay home: “‘The Greatest Showman’: Film Review”.
The sawdust and sequins are laid on thick, the period flashbulbs pop and the champagne flows in The Greatest Showman, yet this ersatz portrait of American big-top tent impresario P.T. Barnum is all smoke and mirrors, no substance. It hammers pedestrian themes of family, friendship and inclusivity while neglecting the fundaments of character and story. First-time director Michael Gracey exposes his roots in commercials and music videos by shaping a movie musical whose references go no further back than Baz Luhrmann. And despite a cast of proven vocalists led with his customary gusto by Hugh Jackman, the interchangeably generic pop songs are so numbingly overproduced they all sound like they’re being performed off-camera.
(24) STARGATE TEASER. The Verge reports —
After releasing a pair of behind-the-scenes clips from Stargate: Origins, MGM has unveiled its first teaser for the upcoming digital-only show. While the franchise is known for its interstellar adventures, this prequel looks as though it’s remaining firmly grounded, and taking a bit of inspiration from the likes of Indiana Jones.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, IanP, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Niall McAuley, Roger Silverstein, Daniel Dern, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mr Dalliard.]