WWWednesday: October 1, 2014

On this date in history . . . well, a lot of cool stuff happened. Alexander the Great conquered Darius of Persia in 331 BC; Thomas Edison opened his electric lamp factory in 1880; a brand-new Model T was selling for $825 in 1908; NASA replaced NACA in 1958, providing the “Space” in the acronym; and my favorite Disney park, Epcot, opened in 1982.

Art by Fabrizio Clerici

Art by Fabrizio Clerici

Writing, Editing, and Publishing:

In publishing news, Angry Robot sold to Etan Ilfeld, the American owner of Watkins Bookshop in London and the editor of Mind Body Spirit magazine. Ilfeld intends to keep all the current Angry Robot staff and to combine it with other existing imprints to create Watkins Media Limited.

Banned Books Week was last week, and io9 ran a piece on the 12 weirdest reasons for banning SFF books such as, for instance, the idea that Alice in Wonderland promotes masturbation, or that James and the Giant Peach promotes communism. Book banning is weird in general, I think, because generally the banned book only becomes more popular.

But of course there are other responses to books one finds unseemly. A story has been making the Internet rounds lately about a mother who has re-written Harry Potter to take out the magic, changing the conflict between Harry and Voldemort to be about Christianity vs. evolution. I have my doubts about the veracity of this story—I’ve read several pages of this book, and it’s too bad to be real—but it is funny nonetheless.

This isn’t strictly publishing, but it is about a book: look at this cute Czech sci-fi book for kids! It has pictures of beetles exploring space. (This is the real difference between me and the other staff members who have done this Wednesday column. When they do it, they have interesting, substantive things to say; I just point and say “Cute!”)

Art by Fabrizio Clerici

Art by Fabrizio Clerici

Movies and Television:

This trailer for Jupiter Ascending is compelling. It’s the Wachowski Brothers biggest blockbuster (fingers crossed) since The Matrix, and it looks rad. Mila Kunis is the titular Jupiter and of course she’s great, but I was stunned by Eddie Remayne, who I knew previously only as Marius from Les Mis, as the haughty clench-jawed villain. (Also in this trailer roundup: a trailer for a new documentary about the space elevator–Neat!)

Cary Elwes has a new book coming out, As You Wish, about the making of The Princess Bride. Here he talks about the book and the film.

Art by Fabrizio Clerici

Art by Fabrizio Clerici

Internet Stuff:

Have you ever wondered what Buffy the Vampire Slayer would have been like if Ayn Rand had written it? Well, wonder no longer, Scoobies/Objectivists.

Ryan shared this with me: a catalog full of items from the future, but mundane things like you might order from SkyMall, not the hoverboards or power-lacing shoes we’re all STILL waiting for. (Next year, guys.)

Speaking of the near future, how accurate are science fiction space battles? It’s Okay To Be Smart answers this question, covering classic issues like sound in space, space flight and maneuverability, and acceleration/deceleration.

Finally, a few Halloween Costume ideas: Do you want to dress like an Outlander character? Here’s your guide. But if you want to dress like a Game of Thrones character instead, here are some really swell ready-made costumes you can purchase. Finally, if you want to dress like the Death Star, don’t even bother: this woman already killed it.

Artist Feature:

Fabrizio Clerici was an Italian artist who worked with many mediums and in many styles. In addition to being a painter, he was also a set designer for several operas, and worked with sculpture, furniture design, and stained glass. The paintings I have chosen exhibit some of his best surrealist work. I couldn’t find out a lot of details about his life, but there is a fabulous online archive of his work here. Unfortunately, many of the pages are either in Italian or under construction.

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KATE LECHLER, on our staff from May 2014 to January 2017, resides in Oxford, MS, where she divides her time between teaching early British literature at the University of Mississippi, writing fiction, and throwing the tennis ball for her insatiable terrier, Sam. She loves speculative fiction because of what it tells us about our past, present, and future. She particularly enjoys re-imagined fairy tales and myths, fabulism, magical realism, urban fantasy, and the New Weird. Just as in real life, she has no time for melodramatic protagonists with no sense of humor. The movie she quotes most often is Jurassic Park, and the TV show she obsessively re-watches (much to the chagrin of her husband) is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her personal blog is The Rediscovered Country and she tweets @katelechler.

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  1. I love the Death Star dress!!

    Regarding the Harry Potter FanFic (doesn’t sound like she’s much of a fan) for those who don’t know: this Christianity vs evolution controversy is a recent (since mid 20th century) American thing. Historically the church has not had a problem with evolution, seeing it as completely compatible with creationism. And plenty of modern Christians believe in evolution (including myself) and so do most denominations (including the Roman Catholic church). Unfortunately, those who don’t are the vocal minority who shout the loudest. But, we see that everywhere, don’t we?

    Getting off soap box now…

    • I’m glad you said that, Kat. And no, she doesn’t sound like much of a fan!

      I simplified the conflict she presents a bit; she actually sets up a sharp divide between Petunia Dursley, a career woman with short hair and no makeup, who doesn’t do housework and is a secular socialist, and the Dumbledore family (Dumbledore is now a minister, married to McGonagall, and the father of Hermione). The Dumbledore women are chipper, enjoy doing housework and being subservient to Pastor Dumbledore, and take pride in “looking good for Jesus.” This dichotomy is bizarre. Whether the book was written by an earnest Christian mom, as it purports to be, or as a joke by a “secular” satirist, it doesn’t portray either side very positively.

  2. I only read about the first page, and I am convinced that it is satire. It just has to be.

    Because I grew up Catholic, I’ve always wondered what the evolution hoopla was about. Kat, thanks for clarifying. I didn’t think that was a rant. I found it helpful.

    • Perhaps it is satire. If so, it isn’t very sharp or funny which, I think, satire needs to be to be effective.

      Marion, the hoopla is because some Christians take the Genesis account of creation literally and believe that the Earth was created in six days (rather than “ages” which is an appropriate translation of that word), and/or that when it says that God created man from “dirt”, that he did that literally (rather than recognizing that we are made of the same ingredients that are in dirt). Yet they don’t take other things written in the Bible literally (such as Jesus saying “I am the vine, you are the branches” and many many other metaphors). There are some reasons why they do this, which I won’t get into. And they think that anyone who doesn’t believe that way can’t be a Christian. They are willing to be gracious about many other differences in belief, but this particular one is not negotiable.

      Those of us who believe in evolution have no trouble reading Genesis and seeing evolution there. The Bible is not a science textbook. If it had been, nobody would have understood it. It’s a book about God’s relationship with humans.

      • I thought the Usher’s chronology sort of started the whole “Young Earth/No Evolution” business. Didn’t he calculate through the ages of various patriarchs the “starting date” of the earth? I mean I think that’s kind of silly, but the man had a work ethic.

        Have I dragged us way off topic?

        • Yes, you’re right, back in the early 17th century he used the genealogies in the Old Testament to estimate that the earth was created around 4000 BC which is why Young Earthers say it’s 6000 years old. But that was before there were any scientific ways to measure the age of the earth and before Darwin’s observations and theory. From what I’ve read it seems that most Christians, especially in Europe, accepted the scientific evidence and Darwin’s theory as evidence for how God created the earth. Darwin thought of it that way and had many Christian colleagues and admirers.

          I think the reason Young Earthers reject evolution is that it requires them to adjust some of the other ideas they take from the creation story in Genesis, including ideas about death and Adam and Eve.

          It wouldn’t be so important except that this is the issue that makes many fundamentalists suspicious of science, which is a tragedy.

          Yes, we’re totally off topic, but sometimes we do that around here. If it’s annoying Kate… well, she started it. :)

          • Annoying me?!? I love this! Just wait till you get the review of The Book of Strange New Things that Bill and I are writing together–I’m fascinated by the way culture represents religion, and vice versa.

  3. Wait… a California school district banned Red Riding Hood because of *wine?* Wine? That should have made it required reading!

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