Alan Rickman passed away last week, at the age of 69.
At Tor.com, Max Gladstone posted a moving essay about Rickman and what he meant to us.
We at Fantasy Literature were stunned and saddened at the loss. For millions of us, of course, Rickman brought to life the bitter, angry, adversarial and heroic Potions Master, Severus Snape from the HARRY POTTER series. He was so much more than that, though. Many of us think he was the best thing in the 1991 Kevin Costner movie, Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves; we admired him in Galaxy Quest. We didn’t forget his serious work, either, Sense and Sensibility and Truly Madly Deeply.
Kelly Lasiter summed it up best for me with these words, “Universe, give him back!”
I loved Rickman in Sense and Sensibility, but I think my favorite memory of him is as Metatron, the Voice of God, in Kevin Smith’s irreverent 1999 film Dogma. Metatron existed because the voice of God would destroy any human who heard it directly. Rickman, as an angel sent to talk to the not-too-bright primates on Earth, could express contempt or millennia-long enforced patience with barely a curl of a lip; his rich voice carried volumes… and yet I still get teary when I remember him telling the hero of the movie that Metatron was the one to tell Jesus that God was his father, because Jesus was human and could not survive the sound of God’s voice.
Skye Walker shares what Alan Rickman meant to her: “Alan Rickman was a huge part of my childhood beyond Severus Snape. I saw Galaxy Quest at a time when I was just discovering the breadth of science fiction. He was part of one of my favourite stories – Robin Hood – as the best Sheriff of Nottingham I had yet seen. Perhaps the most delightful role for me was as Marvin the Paranoid Android, something I could watch over and over again and enjoy every time. He was part of my life at a time when I was discovering a lot of things. It was revolutionary to me that Snape was actually a funny guy, and a heartfelt person, and totally open to poke fun at the genres he worked in. To this day I try to imagine people complexly like Alan Rickman showed me I could. I hope I’m doing a good job of it.”
His work lives on, inspiring us all to be open, generous and to always do our best. In closing, here is Rickman, reading the words of Marcel Proust.
The Philip K Dick award short list is out. Here it is: Edge of Dark by Brenda Cooper (Pyr); After the Saucers Landed by Douglas Lain (Night Shade Books); (R )Evolution by PJ Manney (47North); Apex by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot Books);Windswept by Adam Rakunas (Angry Robot Books); Archangel by Marguerite Reed (Arche Press)
The Philip K. Dick award acknowledges distinguished science fiction specifically in paperback, giving some smaller publishers a look-in. It’s not unusual to see Angry Robot represented on any shortlist, but it’s nice to see Pyr and 47North get a shout here.
Books and Writing
Bill just reviewed Barsk; The Elephants’ Graveyard here, and loved it, so he’ll probably enjoy Lawrence M. Schoen’s essay on the early days of the novel. Schoen writes about his younger writer-self with a critical yet affectionate eye. He also recognizes and delineates the kind of pothole new writers fall into. In case you don’t understand his Atlanta Nights reference, here is a link.
Ursula LeGuin shares some thoughts on books she read in 2015, and drops a not-too-subtle hint about her opinion of the identity, or at least gender, of the mysterious and highly successful writer Elena Ferranti.
Lightspeed is at it again! Here’s a link to their Kickstarter page for “People of Color Destroy Science Fiction,” which will be guest edited by Nalo Hopkinson, Kristine Ong Muslim and Nisi Shawl. I’m not hinting with the Kickstarter link; it’s just the best place to find all the info.
We talk a lot about illustrations when we talk about books, especially fantasy where we often get beautifully illustrated special editions. Here is a brief history of book illustration. I especially enjoyed the reference to “low-brow sci-fi magazines.”
Remote sex is the next frontier, and why not? This Washington Post article discusses the possibility of wireless remote sex (via an apparatus) between partners. “Virtual sex is the safest sex!” states one person in the article. Um, yeah… I don’t know. What do you think?
Wil Wheaton participated in a Reddit AMA: There is more about Jar Jar Binks than I expected, as both fans and Wheaton compared Wesley Crusher to the much-maligned Star Wars character. There are some interesting questions and some good insights into child-stars, creativity and the nature of fame.
On Saturday Night Live, Kylo Ren joins Undercover Boss. I’m really pretty sure there are no SW:TFA spoilers here, but it might spoil Undercover Boss for some of you.
Ursula LeGuin, again; the honored writer engaged in some old-school style to take Oregon’s largest newspaper for task for its lazy headline about the armed group who have occupied an eastern Oregon federal wildlife refuge. In less than 200 words, she nailed it. LeGuin is fearless.
Speak like Yoda you can; help you Grammarly will.
Movies and TV
From Pretty-Terrible, this is a great, thoughtful, deep essay about Star Wars; The Force Awakens. Warning, if you haven’t seen the movie, there is a big spoiler. And if you haven’t seen the movie, why haven’t you?
J.J. Abrahms managed to hide the sequel to Cloverfield from nearly everybody. “Sequel” may be a category of convenience. This has the look of a completely different movie; and it’s a bit familiar. In fact, it looks a lot like an episode of Metal Hurlant Chronicles called “Shelter Me.” Anyway, it’s coming out in March, and that is John Goodman.
This is not a surprise, but will probably reassure fans; Jessica Jones has been renewed by Netflix. In other TV news, Neal Patrick Harris has signed on to play Count Olaf in Lemony Snicket; a Series of Unfortunate Events, also being adapted by Netflix.
In honor of Martin Luther King Day, File 770 pointed us at this great reminiscence by Nichelle Nichols about how Dr. King changed her career, and her life.
Meet Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski, 22 year old MIT graduate and Harvard PhD candidate. She is a physicist who is interested in explaining gravity in the context of quantum mechanics. She is also a pilot, who designed her first airplane when she was 14, and built a plane in her teens. This sought-after young scientist, who graduated from MIT with a 5.0 GPA (the highest possible GPA) was originally waitlisted, until the committee saw the plane video.
Why am I including this here? Because I think she’s one awesome role model.
In a recent eruption, Hawai’i’s Kilauea volcano spewed out a hollow lava-glass egg. While “Pele’s tears” are pretty common, this shape is unique… and very cool!
Johna Y Klukas studied at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She has a BS in Computer Science and a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering and worked for ten years in the tech industry. Then she quit to do something she loved, work with wood. In her artist statement she says that her interest in engineering and science heavily influences her work. She chooses stunning materials and creates things that are elegant, whimsical, or both. Klukas was the Artist Guest of Honor at Boston’s Arisia Convention last weekend. You can see more of her work here.