I’ll be going to see the New York Review of Science Fiction reading series tomorrow night. Michael Cisco (The Divinity Student) and Rachel Pollack (Godmother Night) will read at the South Street Seaport’s Melville Gallery, 213 Water Street. 7:00 p.m. Suggested $5 donation.
Saw the new The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie.
I was expecting it to be just okay, and was a bit disappointed. I think any Douglas Adams fan is going to be perplexed at how much great stuff was left out and how much limp new material was added. The opening sequence is great, and the first act is fine, though the comic timing is a bit off and it’s a bit hard to follow. The entire second act is an interminable and unfunny “rescue Trillian from the Vogons” sequence that has no basis in the book. The third act gets back to the book, more or less, and is adequate.
As for the characters, I really didn’t like their Zaphod — he’s supposed to be acidly condescending and monstrously self-absorbed, but he just comes across as goofy and stoned. Ford also seems just too kooky; it’s hard to imagine him and Arthur being close friends. Arthur was pretty good, and I liked Trillian, though I think that’s more because they cast an interestingly quirky actress than because of anything in the script. Marvin is criminally underdeveloped. The one area in which the film exceeded my expectations was special effects — some of the them, such as the Slartibartfast flyby, are truly stunning.
I was really annoyed by the ending, where Marvin says, “The restaurant is at the other end of the universe,” and the ship does a 180. The Restaurant at the “End” of the Universe is at the conclusion of the universe, not at the edge of the universe.
More hot Wikipedia action. Someone (again, not me) added me to the list of Famous Alumni from Colby College.
I’m sure no one really needs to be reminded of this, as the media hype has been as pervasive and exhausting as ever, but in the interest of completeness I’ll just mention that tomorrow, April 30th, is Amber Day, the worldwide celebration of Roger Zelazny’s literary masterpiece The Chronicles of Amber. April 30th, of course, being the date in the books on which a mysterious individual makes annual attempts to murder Corwin’s son, Merlin. Billions — possibly even trillions — of people all over the globe will begin their annual re-reading of this classic, thrilled once again to relive the adventures of Corwin as he awakens with amnesia in a hospital on the shadow world Earth, and gradually discovers his true identity as a Prince of Amber.
This year, the Swiss Army will be taking to the Alps to stage a full-scale reenactment of Corwin’s doomed battle up the steps of Mount Kolvir, and Buddhist Monks in Tibet will be having their eyeballs burnt out with hot pokers, in commemoration of Corwin’s blind years in the dungeons of Amber. As I write, a full-scale recreation of the Pattern of Amber is being constructed in Central Park, which tomorrow thousands of pilgrims will walk, hoping to gain power over shadow. Of course, to give a comprehensive listing of all the festivities would be prohibitive, and might spoil the story for those individuals who have yet to experience the wonder of Amber. Yes, yes, sadly it’s true that such tragic individuals do exist, albeit only in some of the most wretched, backward, provincial corners of the world. Sadder still is the fact that each day literally dozens of people die having not read Amber, their lives utterly wasted. Speaking for myself, I can hardly wait until the stroke of midnight when I will crack open my well-worn tome and begin anew with the familiar words: It was starting to end, after what seemed most of eternity to me …
Well, the thing at the Met was kind of a bust. The way I understood it, we would be trading bon mots with the artist in an intimate atmosphere suffused with free wine and cheese. Hardly.
My first warning that all was not proceeding according to plan was at the door, when they asked to see my NYU Student ID. Huh? Of course I didn’t have one, but they let me in anyway. At first things looked promising. The main hall was all decked out with really cool pink and purple lights, there was a stage for a band, and people were drinking from wine glasses. Unfortunately, what they were drinking from wine glasses was ginger ale. That’s right, there was no alcohol. The crowd was all undergrads, and the room was too massive, noisy, and crowded for us to really mingle. The place was also incredibly overheated. We trooped dutifully through the exhibit, which seemed to go on forever and consisted entirely of mildly interesting black-and-white photographs. And as for meeting the artist? Well, it turns out she committed suicide in 1971. Whoops.
The panel discussion at Fordham yesterday was awesome. (And believe me, that’s not something I say about every panel I see.) I knew two of the panelists, Marleen Barr and Paul Levinson, so it was good seeing them again. The panelists were all very interesting, articulate, and funny. They read from their work, and discussed why genre fiction is fabulous. (There was a refreshing lack of an alternate viewpoint.) I had never heard of Eloisa James before, but now I’m extremely curious to find out what a romance novel reads like when it’s written by a woman who’s a Shakespeare scholar, a graduate of Harvard, Oxford, and Yale, and the daughter of a famous American poet. And to quote her, “Shakespeare was a genre writer, down the line, never wrote outside his genre. He was not an innovator. Because it’s really quite a recent idea, that the best books have no genre … most of the books we study as academics are firmly within one genre or another.” And, “In the Renaissance, it was considered challenging to write within a genre.”
I have concluded contemplating, and will now be acting. (See April 17th, 11:33 a.m.) I’ve decided I am indeed going to the panel today. It’s right next to Central Park, and it’s a gorgeous day, so I’ll also be going for a stroll beforehand.
I just got invited to go to a party at the Met after KGB on Wednesday. This will officially be my first party at the Met. Wednesday is shaping up nicely.
Lisa Stock did a fabulous job this afternoon. She has an acting background, but this was her first time reading her own work in public. I was very impressed, and the crowd (those dedicated souls who shook off the siren lure of the gorgeous weather outside) seemed to be too. Her tale, The Sun, involves a young woman who, like Little Red Riding Hood, sets out on a quest to deliver food to a neighbor, and who then becomes caught up in creepy and surreal encounters with a range of characters. Some of these characters, including one the young woman comes to call the Wolf, are doppelgangers of her lover. There’s also a young boy with ice blue eyes who may be a younger version of her lover, and who may or may not be real. Really cool stuff. In her comments afterward, Lisa mentioned that the Wolf has a large abdominal scar, as if Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother had been removed from his gut, but that the scar is actually from something else … something much more strange and surprising. Very intriguing. Of course the first question during the Q&A was, “Where did the Wolf’s scar come from?”, but Lisa just smiled sweetly and said, “You’ll have to read the book.”
I’m contemplating going to this:
Why Genre Fiction?: Mystery! Science Fiction! Romance! Adventure!
Participants: Mary Bly (English)
Joanne Dobson (English)
Paul Levinson (Communication and Media)
Marleen S. Barr (Communication and Media)
Description: A two-hour panel discussion which includes readings from the participants’ mystery, romance, and science fiction novels. The event will include a booksigning, Q&A, and a reception.
Time, Place and Location: April 19, 6pm, South Lounge, Lincoln Center Campus, Fordham University 113 West 60th St. Free and open to the public
Today I’m off to see Lisa Stock read at the Spec Fic Fair in Manhattan. (See April 12th entry.)
I also have to prepare to teach my sf writing class tomorrow at the library. We’ll be reading and discussing fantasy-related poetry and reading excerpts from The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Dianna Wynne-Jones.
Some of the following lines are iambic and others are trochaic. Can you tell the difference?
The Lotos blooms below the barren peak,
The Lotos blows by every winding creek;
All day the wind breathes low with mellower tone;
Thro’ every hollow cave and alley lone
Round and round the spicy downs
the yellow Lotos-dust is blown.
We have had enough of action, and of motion we,
Roll’d to starboard, roll’d to larboard, when the surge was seething free,
Where the wallowing monster spouted his foam-fountains in the sea.
Let us swear an oath, and keep it with an equal mind,
In the hollow Lotos-land to live and lie reclined
On the hills like Gods together, careless of mankind …
Resting weary limbs at last on beds of asphodel.
Surely, surely, slumber is more sweet than toil, the shore
Than labor in the deep mid-ocean, wind and wave and oar;
O, rest ye, brother mariners, we will not wander more.
Had fun hanging out backstage at Conan O’Brien yesterday. I spent most of the time in the control room, which looks like NASA mission control, except I’d imagine that at NASA the big row of screens at the front of the room aren’t filled with graphics of George W., Schwarzenegger, and Michael Jackson (or maybe they are). I saw the script being constantly rewritten, then the flashcards being made. After the show I got to wander around on the set, which is unbelievably smaller than it looks on television. Last night I told a friend of mine that I’d been backstage, and she asked if I’d talked to Conan, and I had to admit that I never actually like … saw him. I’d sort of imagined backstage as like a dormitory lounge, but it’s actually a sprawling, labyrinthine network of rooms and hallways, so you’d really have to go searching to see anyone in particular. Though I was standing around in the hallway with musical guest Le Tigre for a bit.
This is cool. My friend Andrea, who works on the Conan O’Brien Show, just invited me to drop by the studio tomorrow and watch the taping from the control room.
circehellene suggests Carel Struycken (dude who played Lurch in Addams Family) to play H.P. Lovecraft. (See previous entry.)
Last weekend at World Horror Con, Chris Cevasco and I started talking about whether H.P. Lovecraft had ever appeared as a character in a film (not that we could think of, but he should) and who might possibly play him, given his unusual physiognomy. The best casting choice I could come up with … Jake Busey.
This was kind of cool. Someone (it wasn’t me) mentioned me in Wikipedia:
I’ll be in Manhattan on Sunday to see my new friend Lisa Stock read from her novelette “The Sun,” a magical realist tale that incorporates elements of Little Red Riding Hood. Her reading will be part of the Spec Fic Fair, 2 p.m. at the Spark Cafe & Art Center, 161 West 22nd Street near 7th Avenue. It’s free and open to anyone.
Tobias S. Buckell, a fellow writer and good friend, just interviewed me for his newsletter: