By Steve Vertlieb: When I was just eleven years old in 1957, Walt Disney announced on The Mickey Mouse Club that a brand new Zorro television series would be airing each week on Thursday evenings over the ABC Television Network.
My heart raced … my pulse quickened … while my jaw dropped in utter paralysis and awe at the premiere opening titles of this beloved children’s TV series.
There had been the popular novel, The Curse of Capistrano, by writer Johnston McCulley in 1919. Then came the classic silent film based upon McCulley’s novel starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr. in the title role in the silent version of The Mark of Zorro. Reed Hadley wore the mask and handsome black costume, daringly astride his courageous white stallion, in the greatest film serial of them all, Republic Pictures’ 1939 serial adventure, Zorro’s Fighting Legion. Tyrone Power essayed the part for 20th Century Fox in Darryl F. Zanuck’s production of The Mark of Zorro in 1940.
However, it was Guy Williams as Don Diego De La Vega, the foppish nobleman who rode the hills of Spanish California, when the blackness of night consumed the danger filled countryside, as “El Zorro … “The Fox” … in the classic television series, who thrilled my soul with wonder, and set my young heart, and the fertile imaginations of America’s children ablaze as Walt Disney’s Zorro.
Featuring the magical title theme music by song writers Norman Foster and George Bruns, with background scoring by composer William Lava, who had also written the thunderous motion picture score for Zorro’s Fighting Legion, the Zorro theme song became an overnight sensation.
My dreams come alive once more even now as “Out of the night … When the full moon is bright … Comes the horseman known as … ZORRO.”
(1) Q&A WITH POLISH SFF WRITER. Bence Pintér’s interview with Polish sci-fi author Jacek Dukaj is available in English at Spekulatív Zóna: “Q&A with Jacek Dukaj”.
The most recently translated work from you is The Old Axolotl. This book is unique in a lot of ways. What inspired you to write it, and why did you released it only in e-book form initially?
Lately I find I need some additional push to complete a story – to write for publication, not just for my own satisfaction. In this case it was the literary project and PR campaign of Allegro (sort of Polish eBay). You could say they had commissioned „The Old Axolotl”. They didn’t set any limits for a theme or style (I wouldn’t have agreed to such a deal). But it was an opportunity to explore new features of electronic books (as they appeared to us back then).
I’m always up for pioneer projects. If something looks very risky or impossibly hard, my first reaction is to try and do it.
The book was adapted by Netflix, but the series Into the Night only used the premise of the story. How do you feel about this adaptation?
I wonder if “adaptation” is the right word. It would be more fair to say that Into the Night was based on the same idea as the one which gave birth to The Old Axolotl. The story, the characters – they are all different. Jason George, the showrunner of Into the Night, is the sole author of the screenplay.
I’m happy people seem to like it. It’s rather small budget production, yet it became much more popular globally than other non-English series of similar budget. Into the Night punches above its weight, so to speak.
…The opening credits are so iconic that, rather than release a trailer to promote its upcoming live-action adaptation of “Cowboy Bebop,” Netflix elected to debut the full opening credits for the show during its Tudum global fan event on Saturday….
(3) STEELY FAN. Tablet Magazine’s Paul Grimstad holds “A Conversation With Donald Fagen”, which has a section on the musician’s love of sf, of which this excerpt is about half —
A tune like “Pretzel Logic” has a pretty elliptical story going on, and speaking of science fiction!
Well, yeah, that was kind of a time-travel thing.
It’s funny when the person who greets the narrator in the future, says, “Where did you get those shoes?” like the fashion between the two times is completely out of whack.
That actually fills in the link between black humor and science fiction, because the science fiction novels I liked the most were funny in that way. I think my favorites included that kind of humor. Like Frederick Pohl and his partner Cyril Kornbluth, who wrote these really satirical novels.
The Space Merchants was recently reissued in the Library of America Series …
Oh really? I remember reading that one when I was a kid.
Another guy from that era who I think of as funny is Alfred Bester.
Another one of my favorites. He was an ad man, so it’s got this very New York, Madison Avenue feel, the Mad Men type of thing, but making fun of it.
(4) NASA’S FIRST WOMAN. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] NASA has released issue 1 of First Woman—a downloadable, interactive (augmented reality), graphic novel telling the (to date) fictional story of the first woman (and first person of color) to walk on the Moon. It’s also available as an audio story. A Spanish-language version of (at least) the first issue of the comic is also planned. The comic is available for iOS & Android platforms. “NASA Releases Interactive Graphic Novel ‘First Woman’”.
NASA released its first digital, interactive graphic novel on Saturday in celebration of National Comic Book Day. “First Woman: NASA’s Promise for Humanity” imagines the story of Callie Rodriguez, the first woman to explore the Moon.
While Callie’s story is fictional, the first woman and the first person of color will walk on the Moon, achieving these historic milestones as part of NASA’s Artemis missions. Through this graphic novel, NASA aims to inspire the next generation of explorers – the Artemis Generation.
…The 40-page comic book highlights NASA technologies for traveling to, landing on, and exploring the Moon. The digital format comes to life, letting readers engage and interact through augmented reality elements using the First Woman website or their mobile devices.
To learn more about the graphic novel and interactive experiences, visit: Calliefirst
The reclamation attempts stem from a provision of copyright law that, under certain conditions, allows authors or their heirs to regain ownership of a product after a given number of years. Such efforts turn on whether authors worked as hired hands or produced the material on their own and then sold it to publishers. The Copyright Revision Act of 1976, which opened the door to termination attempts, bans termination for people who delivered work at the “instance and expense” of an employer.
“Since these were works made for hire and thus owned by Marvel, we filed these lawsuits to confirm that the termination notices are invalid and of no legal effect,” Mr. Petrocelli said by phone. (Mr. Petrocelli is also representing Disney in its legal fight with Scarlett Johansson, who sued the company in July over pay connected to ticket sales for “Black Widow.”)
For instance, Disney’s complaint against Mr. Lieber contends that “Marvel assigned Lieber stories to write, had the right to exercise control over Lieber’s contributions and paid Lieber a per-page rate for his contributions.” Those conditions render his contributions “work made for hire, to which the Copyright Act’s provisions do not apply,” according to the complaint.
Mr. Toberoff sharply disagrees. “At the time all these characters were created, their material was definitely not ‘work made for hire’ under the law,” he said in an email in response to Disney’s filings. “These guys were all freelancers or independent contractors, working piecemeal for car fare out of their basements.” Hence, not “traditional, full-time employees,” he said.
“At the core of these cases is an anachronistic and highly criticized interpretation of ‘work-made-for-hire,’” Mr. Toberoff said in a separate email, adding that the interpretation “needs to be rectified.”
(6) FINAL TALLY. Robert Kroese declared the first BasedCon “a tremendous success. We had nearly 70 attendees and a phenomenal group of authors and presenters. People came from as far away as Oregon, California, Texas, and New Hampshire.” He wants to run another in 2022.
(7) JUST LIKE THE 770 COMMENTS SECTION! [Item by John A Arkansawyer.] This is a very funny online-only thing Seth Meyers does at the end of every week, reading letters from the viewers at home (the jackals) about the various errors from the week before. This week, he addresses his former nemesis, the jackal/knitter Patti Lyons. It’s cued up to that:
Seth Meyers takes a moment to address some of the errors from this week of Late Night, like accidentally saying “on accident” instead of “by accident” and pronouncing “turnpike” as “turnbike.”
This closing speech is not genre in content (other than the knitting), but is so genre in form that it just isn’t funny. Except it is. Very.
(8) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1987 – Thirty-four years ago, The Princess Bride premiered. It was directed by Rob Reiner who co-produced it along with Andrew Scheinman. It was adapted by William Goldman from his novel of the same name. It had amazing cast of Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, André the Giant, Robin Wright, Peter Falk, Fred Savage and Billy Crystal. It would win a Hugo at Nolacon II. Reception for it was great with every major critic loving it and many praising its sweetness. It currently holds a ninety-four rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. Mind you it was a modest box office success just earning back what it cost to produce.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 25, 1919 — Betty Ballantine. With her husband Ian, she created Bantam Books in 1945 and established Ballantine Books seven years later. They won one special World Fantasy Award for professional work in 1975 and another one shared with Joy Chant et al for The High Kings which is indeed an amazing work. ISFDB list one novel for her, The Secret Oceans, which I’ve not read. Who here done so? (Died 2019.)
Born September 25, 1930 — Shel Silverstein. Not sure how he is SFF but ISFDB lists him as such for his Every Thing On It collection and a handful of a apt named poems, and I’m more than thrilled to list him under Birthday Honors. I’m fond of his poetry collection Where the Sidewalk Ends and will also note here A Light in the Attic if only because it’s been on “oh my we must ban it now attempts” all too often. So what do you think is genre? (Died 1999.)
Born September 25, 1946 — Felicity Kendal, 75. She plays Lady Clemency Eddison in the the Tenth Doctor story, “The Unicorn and The Wasp”, one of my favorite Who tales. She recently played Baroness Ortsey in the new Pennyworth series. And though it’s definitely really not genre, I’m noting her role in Shakespeare-Wallah, story of a family troupe of English actors in India, just because it’s a fascinating story.
Born September 25, 1951 — Mark Hamill, 70. OK, I’ll confess that my favourite role of his is that he voices The Joker in the DC Universe. He started doing this way back on Batman: The Animated Series and has even been doing on other such series as well. Pure comic evilness! Oh, and did you know he voices Chucky in the new Child’s Play film? Now that’s creepy.
Born September 25, 1952 — Christopher Reeve. Superman in the Superman film franchise. He appeared in the Smallville series as Dr. Swann in the episodes “Rosetta” and “Legacy”. His Muppet Show appearance has him denying to Miss Piggy that he’s Superman though he displayed those superpowers throughout that entire episode. (Died 2004.)
Born September 25, 1961 — Heather Locklear, 60. Her first genre role was Victoria ‘Vicky’ Tomlinson McGee in Stephen King’s Firestarter followed by being Abby Arcane in The Return of Swamp Thing. She was also Dusty Tails in Looney Tunes: Back in Action. She’s had one-offs in Tales of the Unexpected, Fantasy Island, Muppets Tonight and she voiced Lisa Clarkson in the “Prophecy of Doom” episode on Batman: The Animated Series.
Born September 25, 1964 — Maria Doyle Kennedy, 57. She was Siobhán Sadler in Orphan Black, and currently is Jocasta Cameron in Outlander. She’s been cast as Illa in now being filmed The Wheel of Time series.
Born September 25, 1968 — Will Smith, 53, Despite the stinker that were Wild Wild West and later Suicide Squad, he’s done some brilliant work — the first Men in Black film is superb as is Independence Day and Aladdin.
(11) THE SIGN OF THE Z. Screen Rant says you can trace the influence on Batman’s creators to a 1920s Zorro movie, and it didn’t stop there. The connection plays an major role in a current DC Comics’ crossover event, “Joker War.” — “Batman: How Zorro Created The Dark Knight”.
…It wasn’t until the legendary Frank Miller decided to give a nod to Kane and Finger in The Dark Knight Returns #1 that The Mark of Zorro is established. Miller cites the 1940 Tyrone Power adaptation, which was actually released after Batman’s creation, but the precedent was set. In Todd Phillips’ Joker film, 1981’s Zorro, the Gay Blade is the movie referenced. Whichever adaptation a creator chooses, Zorro and Batman’s histories are inextricably intertwined, which explains why Bruce’s archenemy decides to use the film against him….
(12) CASSANDRA PETERSON (ELVIRA) INTERVIEWED ABOUT COMING OUT AS GAY. Cassandra Peterson gave her first interview since she came out about her 19 year relationship to The Tamron Hall Show.
The woman behind the iconic character Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Cassandra Peterson exclusively sits down for the first interview since revealing a 19-year relationship with a woman. The undisputed Queen of Halloween reveals her full story in a new book titled, “Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark,” and joins our show to talk about it. From her roots in Kansas to coming out, Elvira gets real about her journey to become the world’s sexiest, sassiest Halloween icon.
Indianapolis joined the ranks with clear views of White River, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis International Airport. If you zoom into the center, you can see Lucas Oil Stadium, too.
Indianapolis is best known for annually hosting the world's largest single-day sporting event, the Indianapolis 500. In the top left corner of the photo, you can also spot the Indianapolis International Airport. #airportsfromspacepic.twitter.com/8hkNXblL0Q
The twin suns set over the Senate chambers, and the leadership sighed. The legislative nights were long and cold on this desert planet where no compromise had flourished for a long time, just banthas and the partisan Rancor.
“We have important legislation containing lots of policy priorities we have got to get through,” Grief Schuuma, leader of the Narrow Majority, said. “But there is just no way we can do it using regular order.”
“Well, we could,” a voice murmured from the corner, cloaked in shadow, “if we were willing to sacrifice the filibuster.”…
(16) ZINE SCENE. Mlex sent a link to the Autumn Equinox issue of his zine Zapf Punkt. Read the synopsis and you’ll know why!
In this issue, we investigate the radical art collective Zero Dimension, the electric guitar boom in Japan, and the dropout culture that threatened to overrun traditional society with folk music, glue-sniffers, surrealism, violence, pornography, pills, gender-confusion, interplanetary war, and the worst of all possible dooms: disorder.
By the late 1960s, this agitated social crisis briefly intersected with a manufactured music scene called Group Sounds. We listened to many hours of cheesy pop music to find the cherry bombs and make our own favorite freakbeat selection. Here’s our group sounds playlist, the official soundtrack of ZP 11.
This issue also features an edited transcript of our interview with Daniel Joseph, which originally appeared on Diamond Bay Radio in May. Daniel provides the biographical background for Izumi Suzuki’s Terminal Boredom, and we discuss her writing style, the modes and themes that appeared in her work, and how revolutionary it was at the time.
Join us for the meta-textual knock-out that Suzuki delivered to Japanese science fiction literature, before her decline into depression and suicide in 1986.
A pictorial glimpse of popular science fiction culture from around 1970 in Japan wraps up the issue.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Bence Pintér, Jeff Warner, Darrah Chavey, Mlex, John A Arkansawyer, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Joe H.]
(1) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB virtual reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Lauren Beukes and Usman T. Malik on Wednesday, January 20 at 7 p.m. Eastern. Check back at their website or social media to get the link when it drops.
Lauren Beukes is a South African novelist, ex-journalist and sometime documentary maker who has written five novels, a pop history, a short story collection and New York Times best-selling comics. Her novel Zoo City won the Arthur C Clarke Award, The Shining Girls is soon to be a tv show for Apple with Elisabeth Moss, and won the University of Johannesburg Prize and the Strands Critics Choice Award among others. Her new book Afterland, about a world (almost) without men, is currently in development. She lives in Cape Town with her daughter.
Usman T. Malik
Usman T. Malik is a Pakistani-American writer and doctor. His fiction has been reprinted in several year’s best anthologies, including The Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy series, and has won the Bram Stoker Award and the British Fantasy Award. Usman’s debut collection, Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan, will be out in early 2021.
(2) COULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER. In search of prospects to nominate for the video game Hugo, Camestros Felapton explores another game he hopes will meet his criteria of “look[ing] like they might be interesting/notable from the perspective of science fiction & fantasy as a broad genre” — “Review: Spiritfarer (Nintendo Switch)”.
…However, the game I will nominate in this category isn’t Hades but a game set in a quite different afterlife: Spiritfarer. The two games couldn’t be more different and yet both borrow Charon the Ferryman and Hades as characters from Greek mythology and both use (different) genres of game play to lead you to interact with a series of characters from whom you learn about their lives (and deaths) and your own characters back story. Spiritfarer has fewer murderous, laser firing crystal things though.
The genre of gameplay is resource management and exploration. You have a ship with a small number of passengers and you sail between islands collecting resources and improving your ship. It’s all presented as 2D animation largely moving horizontally.
…Alternately called cosmic horror or Lovecraftian horror, this brand of story is focused on unknowable and ancient terrors. While the genre’s most iconic monster, Cthulhu, slumbers in a lost underwater city, cosmic horror just as often directly lives up to its name and comes from the cold of space or is lurking in isolated areas like Antarctica. The genre has few real heroes, mostly focusing on people who are already deeply flawed or struggling before they confront these horrors. While they may be killed, the protagonists are just as likely to be rendered insane or somehow fundamentally transformed into something as equally unknowable and terrible as the unspeakable creatures they have encountered.
But how did cosmic horror seep into the mainstream of movies, TV, and games? Let’s trace that history from D&D to True Detective to Nicolas Cage and beyond…
Speaking of hell, a study in the August 3 issue of the journal CurrentBiology revealed that the vast majority of members of a species of beetle, Regimbartia attenuata, perform a literally death-defying feat after being swallowed by various species of frogs. The beetle apparently swims its little heart out till it pops out of the frog’s derriere. Because, as another axiom has it, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
To find out whether the insect’s passage was active or passive, researchers immobilized some beetles by coating them with wax before going into the mouth of hell, or rather, frog. None of these beetles survived. To paraphrase science-fiction legend Harlan Ellison (who definitely would have come up with this experimental protocol if he’d lived long enough): they really don’t want to open their mouths, and they must scream.
…The Milky Way has been around for billions of years. In that time, life has not only had had plenty of time to evolve to an advanced level and achieve heights of technology even our wildest sci-fi dreams couldn’t fathom, but also to destroy itself.
“We found [self-annihilation of complex life] to be the most influential parameter determining the quantity and age of galactic intelligent life,” the physicists said in a study recently published in Astrophysics of Galaxies.
There were three types of limitations for the existence of aliens that the team studied. They considered the possibilities of abiogenesis, how long it might have taken (or be taking) for an intelligent civilization to evolve, and chances of such a civilization crushing itself. Abiogenesis is the idea of life spawning from things that are definitely not alive.
…Loeb says there are two big details that suggest Oumuamua wasn’t just a comet, but rather a piece of alien technology. The first detail is the object’s dimensions, as it was determined to be “five to 10 times longer than it was wide.” Loeb argues the cigar-like shape isn’t typical for a natural space object.
But the theoretical physicist says the biggest detail that supports his theory is Oumuamua’s movement.
“The excess push away from the sun, that was the thing that broke the camel’s back,” he said.
Loeb explains that the sun’s gravitational force would cause a natural object to move faster as it approaches, and eventually push the object back, causing it to move slower as it moves away. Loeb points out that this didn’t occur with Oumuamua, which accelerated “slightly, but to a highly statistically significant extent” as it moved further and further away.
“If we are not alone, are we the smartest kids on the block?” Loeb asked. “If there was a species that eliminated itself through war or changing the climate, we can get our act together and behave better. Instead, we are wasting a lot of resources on Earth fighting each other and other negative things that are a big waste.”
(7) HEADLONG RETREAT. R.S. Benedict has posted a new episode of the Rite Gud podcast.”I talk to writer/artist Sloane Leong about SFF’s retreat into childhood nostalgia, and the beauty of mature fiction.” Listen here.
As the world looks grimmer and grimmer, Millennials and Gen Xers retreat deeper and deeper into childhood nostalgia. Adults dominate fandoms meant for children, like Steven Universe, Young Adult fiction, and My Little Pony. Within SFF, many writers, readers and editors have begun to treat all media as though it were meant for children: It must be didactic and escapist and safe. But there are still some of us who want art to treat us like adults.
In this episode, writer and artist Sloane Leong joins us to talk about the power of embracing your inner grownup.
(8) ROBERTS STILL ALIVE. People sent links to articles reporting the actress death, however, actress Tanya Roberts is still alive at this writing according to TMZ.
(9) JAEL OBIT. Artist Jael died November 17 reports Locus Online — Jael (1937-2020). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says Jael did covers for Baen and DAW, as well as magazines. Jael’s work received eight Chesley Award nominations between 1995 and 2002.
She also appeared in the Doctor Who episode Planet Of Fire, starring Peter Davison as the fifth Doctor.
Her agent, Thomas Bowington, said: “She really was Hammer’s number one leading lady and the technicolour queen of Hammer.
…Shelley was also known for TV roles in series including The Saint, The Avengers, The Borgias, Blake’s 7 and Crown Court, and later played Hester Samuels in EastEnders.
Robert J. Sawyer praised Shelley’s performance in Quatermass and the Pit (1967) on Facebook in which she”played a completely professional scientist, paleontologist Barbara Judd, the female lead, in one of the best science-fiction films ever made.”He also posted a great quote from Shelly:
“I adored science fiction. When I was a very little girl my father used to have all these science fiction magazines and we used to go through them together. My mind had been opened up to science fiction by my father so when I got these scripts it wasn’t `What’s this rubbish?’ It was ‘that’s interesting.'”
(11) MEMORY LANE.
1971 — Fifty years ago, Larry Niven’s Ringworld would win the Hugo for Best Novel at Noreascon I over Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero, Robert Silverberg’s Tower of Glass, Wilson Tucker‘s The Year of the Quiet Sun and Hal Clement’s Star Light. It would also win the Locus, Nebula and Ditmar Awards, and Locus would later include it on its list of All-Time Best SF Novels before 1990. It would spawn three sequel novels and a prequel series as well which was co-written with Edward M. Lerner. One film and three series have been announced down the decades but none to date have been produced.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born January 4, 1882 – P.J. Monahan. Newspaper cartoonist, illustrator in the “pulp” days (when our and other magazines were printed on cheap pulp paper). Thirty covers, twenty interiors. Here is Semi Dual, the Occult Detector. Here is Thuvia. Here is the 26 Jun 20 All-Story Weekly – weekly! How’d you like to be the editor of that? To show PJM’s range, here is the 1 Sep 12 Leslie’s, and here is a portrait of Pope Pius X. (Died 1931) [JH]
Born January 4, 1882 – Violet Van der Elst. Twoscore short stories, half a dozen collections, for us. Starting as a scullery maid, she developed cosmetics including the first brushless shaving cream – don’t say we’ve made no progress – and grew rich; fought against the death penalty, threw her money and her mind into it, lost both, barely lived to see it abolished. (Died 1966) [JH]
Born January 4, 1890 — Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. Creator of the modern comic book by publishing original material in the early Thirties instead of reprints of newspaper comic strips. Some years later, he founded Wheeler-Nicholson’s National Allied Publications which would eventually become DC Comics. (Died 1965.) (CE)
Born January 4, 1904 – Dale Ulrey. Four covers, a dozen interiors. Also a comic-strip artist, notably Apple Mary, famous during the Depression, still running today as Mary Worth. Here is her Wizard of Oz. Here is an interior for Jaglon and the Tiger Fairies. (Died 1989) [JH]
Born January 4, 1927 — Barbara Rush, 94. She won a Golden Globe Award as the most promising female newcomer for being Ellen Fields in It Came From Outer Space. She portrayed Nora Clavicle in Batman, and was found in other genre programs such as the revival version of Outer Limits, Night Gallery, The Bionic Woman and The Twilight Zone. (CE)
Born January 4, 1930 – Ruth Kyle. Founding member of the Lunarians (New York club, famous in song and story). Hard-working Secretary of NYCon II the 14th Worldcon; married its chairman Dave Kyle; his tale of their honeymoon flight to Loncon I the 15th is here. Good cook, gracious hostess. Part of an adventure I had with Dave, see here (bottom of three). (Died 2011) [JH]
Born January 4, 1933 – Phyllis Naylor, age 88. A dozen novels for us; a hundred thirty all told; some 2,000 articles. Newbery Medal. Sequoyah Children’s Book Award. Mark Twain Readers Award. William Allen White Children’s Book Award. Kerlan Award. “What spare time? If I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing.” [JH]
Born January 4, 1946 — Ramsey Campbell, 75. My favorite novel by him is without doubt The Darkest Part of the Woods which has a quietly building horror to it. I know he’s better known for his sprawling (pun full intended) Cthulhu mythology writings but I never got into those preferring his other novels such as his Solomon Kane movie novelization which is quite superb. (CE)
Born January 4, 1958 — Matt Frewer, 63. His greatest role has to be as Max Headroom on the short-lived series of the same name. Amazingly I think it still stands thirty-five years later as SF well crafted. Just a taste of his later series SF appearances include playing Jim Taggart, scientist and dog catcher on Eureka, Pestilence in Supernatural, Dr. Kirschner in 12 Monkeys and Carnage in Altered Carbon. His film genre appearance list is just as impressive but I’ll single out Supergirl, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Stand, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (oh do guess where he is in it) and lastly Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, a series of films that I really like. (CE)
Born January 4, 1960 — Michael Stipe, 61. Lead singer of R.E.M. which has done a few songs that I could argue are genre adjacent such as “Losing My Religion”. But no, I’ve got him here for being involved in a delightful project called Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films. Lots of great songs given interesting new recordings. His contribution was “Little April Shower” from Bambi which he covered along with Natalie Merchant, Michael Stipe, Mark Bingham and The Roches. Fun stuff indeed! (CE)
Born January 4, 1981 – Sarah Crossan, age 40. Two books for us, seven others. Has read four each by Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf, two by George Eliot. [JH]
Born January 4, 1985 — Lenora Crichlow, 36. She played Cheen on “Gridlock”, a Tenth Doctor story. She also played Annie Sawyer on the BBC version of Being Human from 2009 to 2012, and she appeared as Victoria Skillane in the “White Bear” episode of Black Mirror. (CE)
Born January 4, 1985 – Lorenz Hideyoshi Ruwwe, age 36. A dozen covers. Here is Desert Stars. Here is The Sentinel. Here is Omni. Here is his page at ArtStation. [JH]
(13) THE SIGN OF THE Z. In the Washington Post, Michael Sragow notes the centennial of THE MARK OF ZORRO, the first Zorro movie. He notes that both Batman creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger and Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster say that Zorro’s twin identity as the masked crimefighter and the foppish Don Diego as a precursor to Batman and Bruce Wayne and Superman and Clark Kent. In addition, Sragow sees Zorro’s secret lair as a precursor of the Batcave and Lolita Pulido’s ditching Don Diego for Zorro as Lois Lane favoring Superman over Clark Kent. “On Zorro’s 100th birthday, the father of swashbucklers and superhero movies is still relevant”
…Like Tennyson’s Sir Galahad, Zorro has the strength of 10 because his heart is pure. He’s also irreverent and mischievous. His sparkle exudes hipness: He embraces the New World’s egalitarian ethos while his enemies defend the feudal past.
Zorro lifted spirits in the 1920s. In the 2020s, his ebullience can generate ecstatic highs.
During Fairbanks’s previous run as the parody hero of contemporary action comedies like “His Picture in the Papers,” fans came to think of him as “Doug,” a tribute to his offhand elegance — like Fred Astaire’s, a triumph of talent and willpower. Doug transports this knockabout grace into “The Mark of Zorro.” With his light heart and “can-do” demeanor — qualities the world embraced as quintessentially American — Zorro soon dominated action-film iconography. Cinema would never be the same.
(14) ZOOMIN’ DOWN THE ROAD. “Movin’ Right Along With Kermit The Frog and Fozzie Bear” on YouTube has Kermit and Fozzie welcoming the new year with dreams of a road trip and showing they know how to use Zoom.
Canada! Perhaps best known to fans of British soap operas, for whom it serves as that mysterious land to the west to which characters vanish after their purpose on the show has been served. Of course, all that is needed to learn far more about Canada than you would ever need or want to know is to get trapped in a conversation with a Canadian, uninvited exposition concerning their homeland being as natural to the average Canadian as it is any given inhabitant of a fictional utopia confronted by a woken sleeper from the pre-utopian past.
One might reasonably expect that most SF touching on Canada was written by Canadians and the Canadian-adjacent. Perhaps it is. Quite a lot of it is not. Here are five examples of Canada and Canadians in science fiction, as seen by foreign eyes.
First on the list is Bob Shaw, who’s challenging because he lived and worked in Canada for a period.
(16) HOPE HE GETS HIS MD. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The first baby of 2021 in one Alabama town has a possibly-unique name, Anakyn Gene Strange. Yeah, they changed the spelling of the first name a bit, but wouldn’t it be lovely if the young lad went into medicine. Think of it — Dr. Anakyn Strange. “‘The Force is Strong’ with Florence’s first baby in 2021”
Star Wars fans immediately know the reference when hearing the name Anakyn.
While it may not be spelled the same as it was in the series, Hope and Dusty Strange used the name on Florence’s first birth of 2021. Anakyn Gene Strange was born at 1:04 a.m. on January 1 at North Alabama Medical Center.
“There actually was a feeling of relief because 2020 was a horrible and challenging year,” she said. “It was the most pure way to start out the year.”…
(17) RAVENCON ANTHOLOGY KICKSTARTER. Michael D. Pederson, RavenCon 2022 chair, explains:
Being an April convention, we were forced to announce this year’s  cancellation three weeks before the convention. Needless to say, after having spent 11 months buying supplies and paying fees for the con we didn’t have much (read: any) capital left after refunding the vendors. And we still needed to refund about a third of our attendees that wanted money. And now that we’ve had to cancel for 2021 as well, we’re really stuck for funds. So, we created an anthology, with story donations coming from many of our regular programming guests as well as a few of my old Nth Degree contributors. We’re using the anthology to raise funds through Kickstarter. We funded the entire project on our first day and hit our first stretch goal a week later. We’re working on a second stretch goal and expect to announce a third stretch goal later this week.
Who would have thought that “cologne” is such a complicated word to spell correctly? Or it just might be that many people really are enjoying the smell of large intestine…
(19) LONG PLAYING. And long ago. This interesting discovery is available at Archive.org – “A Child’s Introduction To Outer Space: Jim Timmens” (1959) – with songs performed by The Satellite Singers, and dramatic readings, and a credit on the album cover to Scientific Advisor Willy Ley who won one of the first Hugos in 1953.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Wonder Woman 1984 Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says that the reasons why Steve Trevor appears in Wonder Woman 1984 have really creepy implications and that it’s highly unlikely that Wonder Woman could make an escape from the Smithsonian by stealing a fully fueled airplane from the Air and Space Museum.
[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Jeff Smith, Darrah Chavey, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]