Today is the midpoint of the year. There have been 182 days up to today, and there are 182 days left in 2014. Also, on this date in 1504, Bogdan III the One-Eyed became Voivode of Moldavia. Now that’s a fantasy name if I ever heard one . . .
Writing, Editing, and Publishing:
A new anthology has been announced, by the team behind the Writing Excuses podcast. It will feature a novella by Brandon Sanderson. Also, look at the cover; it is uhhh-mazing.
The winners of the 2014 Locus Awards have been announced, featuring James S. A. Corey, Neil Gaiman, Catherynne Valente, Ann Leckie, and many others. Congrats, everyone!
NPR features Lightspeed’s new special issue, “Women Destroy Science Fiction,” and talks about the history of women in the field, citing Margaret Cavendish and Mary Shelley as the creators of the genre. And on this theme, blogger Shannon Turlington shares her reading list of women writing science fiction and fantasy. It’s an impressive list; here’s hoping I can finish it in my lifetime!
Finally, a contest (or at least a fun game): io9 asks you to write some 6-word science fiction and share it on their site. Here’s mine: “Aliens invade bakery, make delicious pies.” I’m hungry.
Movies and Television:
Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is going to be produced as a TV series by Starz. That sounds pretty cool. Starz will probably do a decent job, unlike the NBC version of Constantine that fans are in an uproar about because the network will not show the character smoking.
Also in news about Neil Gaiman (apparently it’s Neil Gaiman week), the long-awaited Sandman project looks like it’s back on. With Joseph Gordon Levitt producing! Let the casting speculation begin . . .
Zoe Saldana suggested that the best female roles in film and TV are in space. And she shouldn’t worry about the dearth of female roles in SFF, because Mark Ruffalo suggested Saldana herself as an option for She-Hulk.
Hayao Miyazaki was invited this week to join the US Film Academy and inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. As this article points out, if he accepts, he can vote for Academy Awards which would be really great.
Finally, two things in this week’s WTF column: not only is there going to be a sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman (apparently this was announced in 2012; I guess I’m late to the . . . what do you call a party when you’re not celebrating?) but ALSO the character of Snow White will not even appear in it! I’m all for impossibly gorgeous actresses playing evil queens (see also: Maleficent), but what even is this?
Check out this Kickstarter campaign for a new Beyond Words: Fantasy Author Calendar. Last year’s calendar featured Pat Rothfuss, Gregory Maguire, and Holly Black; this year’s will feature Jim Butcher, Melissa de la Cruz, Kami Garcia, and my personal favorite-of-late, Lev Grossman.
So, apparently J.K. Rowling plotted Harry Potter with a hand-drawn spreadsheet, and you can see it here.
Out of Print tee company has a collection of Sci-Fi shirts based on the covers of classic novels. They are gorgeous!
Finally, the most exciting news . . . NASA is sending another mission into space! I’m so pumped about this. Eddie Izzard tells us a bit about it in this video. I don’t know if he means he’s “on board” as in he’s supporting the mission through media, or that he will actually be on board, but I’m hoping it’s the latter.
Hieronymous Bosch was a painter from the Netherlands who lived in the fifteenth century. He was born Jheronimus van Aken, but signed some of his portraits “Bosch” since his birthplace was the Netherlandish town of den Bosch. Most of his paintings are religious in nature, utilizing fantastic, surreal, and even scatological images to illustrate moral and religious themes. His most famous work (and my favorite painting in the world), the one from which all of today’s featured images derive, is The Garden of Earthly Delights, which you can view in great detail as it is a featured image on Wikipedia’s “Wikimedia Commons.” Or you can see it in real life in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain.
The Garden of Earthly Delights is a triptych—a series of three connected paintings that tell a story. Triptychs like this one often functioned as altarpieces, artworks in a church or monastery that formed a focal point behind the altar. However, given the strange nature of the images in Garden, art historians think that it may have been commissioned not by a church but instead by a lay patron.
The painting can be read left-to-right. On the left panel, Christ (in the center) confers with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, a beautiful green meadow filled with strange creatures: unicorns, a giraffe, a kangaroo, and what looks like a platypus reading a book. Fantastical fountains and tall spires of rock dominate the landscape.
In the large center panel, a similar scene greets the viewer. Instead of being populated mostly by mythological animals and hybrids, however, this landscape is covered human beings engaged in all sorts of debauchery. Having sex inside a giant mussel shell—why not? Planting flowers in someone’s extreme nether regions—let’s do that! Eating a huge strawberry while wearing a flower on your head? Yep. And these are just three of the activities occurring in the bottom center of this panel. My favorite is a tiny image at the top, which shows a person riding a gryphon flying through the sky, from which dangles what appears to be either a turtle or a gorilla.
The right panel looks like something from Dali. It shows us a darker world, the world which (we assume) logically emanates from the kind of debauchery and licentiousness displayed in the center panel. Dark buildings wreathed in smoke loom in the distance; in the foreground, people lie on the ground pierced by swords and arrows, a couple of armored dogs eat a person, and a pig wears a nun’s habit. In the middle distance, people live in an apartment in a giant man’s butt.
There is nothing about this painting that I don’t like.
I think the best thing about it is that we still have no idea what it means. Was Bosch a heretic thumbing his nose at the church? Was it an allegory of the corrupt aristocratics who dominated most European courts? Or was it all just a joke played on an unsuspecting art patron?