Friday, March 21, 2008

Disney Book News, In Brief

According to internet rumor king Jim Hill, unless Prince Caspian, the next installment of Disney's Chronicles of Narnia adaptations, rakes in Lord of the Rings sized returns, The Mouse is pulling the plug after film three. Disney had originally said that they would be making film versions of all eleven books, but now seems more interested in starting up a franchise based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars.

Didier Ghez has posted a looong list of the Disney related books being released in the coming year. Everything from Disney's Dogs and Tinker Bell - An Evolution to Walt Disney's Legends of Imagineering and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Parks and Illustrating Disney: Imagineering and the Fine Art of Disney Illustration. For the full list, along with links to each title, click here.

Disney's publishing arm, Hyperion, did well at this year's NAACP Image Awards. Robin Givens' Grace Will Lead Me Home, James Sturm and Rich Tommaso's Center for Cartoon Studies Presents: Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu's Shadow Speaker, and Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond by Don Cheadle, John Prendergast all took home awards. (Note to all: Please-oh-please-oh-please don't use this good news as an excuse to start yet another 'Release Song of the South on dvd now!' thread. Please.)

Via Entertainment Times Online: 66 years after Enid Blyton created The Famous Five, Blyton’s characters are being revived in a series of books, accompanied by an animated television series, screened on the Disney Channel. Like The Dangerous Book for Boys, the new Famous Five is intended as a riposte to a society where children are told it is too dangerous to play outdoors. has a nice write up about the Carl Barks art exhibit currently taking place in Baltimore, MD. Barks is widely regarded as one of the best comic book writer/artists of all time, particularly for his work on the early Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge titles. Many of Barks' best duck tales were eventually adapted for television's Duck Tales animated series.

Book News, In Brief

Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way: Borders is up for sale and Barnes & Noble may be buying. In related news, Market Watch has run one of those cliched 'It's the end of an era for bookstores' pieces, only to reveal themselves as know-nothing idiots by using the words "immortalized" and "the film You've Got Mail" in the same sentence.

Moving right along, The NYTimes has 'raped my childhood' (or some such nonsense), by taking my comic book convention peers and remaking them into models for 'geek chic' (or some such nonsense). How Paul Pope missed this opportunity to preen and look pretty is beyond me.

According to Reuters, the new prequel to Anne of Green Gables is stirring up quite a debate. If by debate they mean that the author of the book has said "I am still vaguely troubled by the idea that L.M. Montgomery would perhaps not want this done," then yeah, there's debate. Otherwise, this is just a press release in a funny nose and glasses.

Via AP: A gossipy book by two ex-concierges at Chicago's Four Seasons Hotel has been pulled because the authors were legally banned from writing about their experiences. Tip: Anyone interested in getting the lowdown on their local hotel need only buy a black light. The true life stories of sex, drugs and violence are all right there on the rarely washed bedspreads.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Recommended Viewing:
Allen Finsberg Reads Howl

(Thanks to BoingBoing for the heads-up!)

Book News, In Brief

John was the interesting, intellectual and witty Beatle. George was the spiritual Beatle. Ringo, the goofy Beatle, and Paul, the kiss-a**, boring, whitebread Beatle. So why is Howard Sounes, the writer of the excellent Down The Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, in talks to publish a new book about the life of Sir Paul? (Answer: $)

A week back, comics scribe Brian Wood (DMZ) was interviewed by The New York Post about breaking into comics. Del Ray Manga's Dallas Middaugh has reprinted Wood's tips for would-be cartoonists, along with some relevant addendums.

A great example of when good ideas go bad. Via The bestselling The Dangerous Book for Boys is slated to be turned into a new TV series. "Dangerous Adventures For Boys" will be a six-part series that sees celebrity dads and their sons embark on expeditions and "Boy’s Own" adventures. Huh. Remember when this book was aimed at getting kids away from the television?

Video may have killed the radio star, but twas the internet that did slay the latter day book club. Via IHT: Bertelsmann is exploring the sale of its book and music clubs, a move that would close the door on a business that helped make it one of the world's top five media companies. Net income at Bertelsmann fell more than 80 percent in 2007 to €405 million, or $640.4 million, largely on write-downs at the U.S. division of its Direct Group book business.

Trust me, I'm the last person who wanted to point out a 'plus side' to print on demand memoirs. Still, good news is good news. Also via The number of books published in the UK skyrocketed to the highest level ever last year, driven by an increase in print-on-demand titles. According to Nielsen BookScan, the number of frontlist titles sold last year hit 118,602, up 36% from 2006 (86,984). The amount of backlist titles sold last year also dramatically increased, up to 758,125 from 590,464 in 2006, a jump of 28%.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Super Recommended Viewing:
Dave Eggers' Grant Recipient Speech

Recommended Viewing:
Naomi Wolf on The End of America

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

R.I.P. Arthur C. Clarke

The following biography was stolen whole from Wikipedia:

Arthur C. Clarke was born in Minehead, Somerset, England. As a boy, he enjoyed stargazing and reading old American science fiction pulp magazines (many of which made their way to the UK in ships with sailors who read them to pass the time). After secondary school and studying at Huish's Grammar School, Taunton, he was unable to afford a university education and got a job as an auditor in the pensions section of the Board of Education.
During the Second World War, he served in the Royal Air Force as a radar specialist and was involved in the early warning radar defence system which contributed to the RAF's success during the Battle of Britain. Clarke actually spent most of his service time working on Ground Controlled Approach (GCA) radar, as documented in his semi-autobiographical novel Glide Path. Although GCA did not see much practical use in the war, after several more years of development it was vital to the Berlin Airlift of 1948-1949. He was demobilised with the rank of Flight Lieutenant. After the war, he earned a first-class degree in mathematics and physics at King's College London.
In the postwar years, Clarke became involved with the British Interplanetary Society and served for a time as its chairman. Although he was not the originator of the concept, one of his most important contributions may have been propagating the idea that geostationary satellites would be ideal telecommunications relays. He advanced this idea in a paper privately circulated among the core technical members of the BIS in 1945. The concept later was published in Wireless World in October of that year. Clarke also wrote a number of non-fiction books describing the technical details and societal implications of rocketry and space flight. The most notable of these may be The Exploration of Space (1951) and The Promise of Space (1968). In recognition of these contributions, a geostationary orbit sometimes is referred to as a "Clarke orbit".
While Clarke had a few stories published in fanzines between 1937 and 1945, his first professional sales appeared in Astounding Science Fiction in 1946: "Loophole" was published in April, while "Rescue Party", his first sale, was published in May. Along with his writing, Clarke briefly worked as Assistant Editor of Science Abstracts (1949) before devoting himself to writing full-time from 1951 onward. Clarke also contributed to the Dan Dare series published in Eagle, and his first three published novels were written for children.
Clarke corresponded with C. S. Lewis in the 1940s and 1950s, and they once met in an Oxford pub, the Eastgate, to discuss science fiction and space travel. Clarke, after Lewis's death, voiced great praise for him, saying the Ransom Trilogy was one of the few works of science fiction that could be considered literature.
In 1948, he wrote "The Sentinel" for a BBC competition. Though the story was rejected, it changed the course of Clarke's career. Not only was it the basis for A Space Odyssey, but "The Sentinel" also introduced a more mystical and cosmic element to Clarke's work. Many of Clarke's later works feature a technologically advanced but prejudiced mankind being confronted by a superior alien intelligence. In the cases of The City and the Stars, Childhood's End, and the 2001 series, this encounter produces a conceptual breakthrough that accelerates humanity into the next stage of its evolution.
In 1953, Clarke met and quickly married Marilyn Mayfield, a 22-year-old American divorcee with a young son. They separated permanently after six months, although the divorce was not finalised until 1964.
Clarke lived in Sri Lanka from 1956 until his death in 2008, emigrating there when it was still called Ceylon, first in Unawatuna on the south coast, and then in Colombo. Clarke held citizenship of both the UK and Sri Lanka. He was an avid scuba diver and a member of the Underwater Explorers Club; living in Sri Lanka afforded him the opportunity to visit the ocean year-round. It also inspired the locale for his novel The Fountains of Paradise, in which he first described a space elevator. This, he believed, ultimately will be his legacy, more so than geostationary satellites, once space elevators make space shuttles obsolete.
His many predictions culminated in 1958 when he began a series of essays in various magazines that eventually became Profiles of the Future, published in book form in 1962. A timetable up to the year 2100 describes inventions and ideas including such things as a "global library" for 2005.
Early in his career, Clarke had a fascination with the paranormal, and stated that it was part of the inspiration for his novel Childhood's End. He also said that he was one of several who were fooled by a Uri Geller demonstration at Birkbeck College. Although he eventually dismissed and distanced himself from nearly all pseudoscience, he continued to advocate research into purported instances of psychokinesis and other similar phenomena.
In the early 1970s, Clarke signed a three-book publishing deal, a record for a science-fiction writer at the time. The first of the three was Rendezvous with Rama in 1973, which won him all the main genre awards and has spawned sequels, which, along with the 2001 series, formed the backbone of his later career.
In 1975, Clarke's short story "The Star" was not included in a new high school English textbook in Sri Lanka because of concerns that it might offend Roman Catholics even though it already had been selected. The same textbook also caused controversy because it replaced Shakespeare's work with that of Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Isaac Asimov.
In the 1980s, Clarke became well known to many for his television programmes Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World and Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers.
In 1988, he was diagnosed with post-polio syndrome and needed to use a wheelchair most of the time thereafter. On 10 September 2007, while commenting on the Cassini probe's flyby of Iapetus (which plays an important role in 2001: A Space Odyssey), Clarke mentioned that he was completely wheelchair-bound by polio, and did not plan to leave Sri Lanka again.
Clarke was the first Chancellor of the International Space University, serving from 1989 to 2004, and also served as Chancellor of Moratuwa University in Sri Lanka from 1979 to 2002.
In December 2007, the occasion of his 90th birthday, Clarke recorded a video message to his friends and fans, bidding them "good-bye".
Clarke died in Sri Lanka at 1:30am on March 19, 2008, after suffering from breathing problems, according to Rohan de Silva, one of his aides.


Arthur C. Clarke formulated the following three "laws" of prediction:

1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Book News, In Brief

For some strange reason, The Sydney Herald has randomly printed up a timeline of author Paul Auster's life thus far. Auster stalkers are welcome to chime in with any inaccuracies/omissions.

This LATimes article starts off announcing the film adaptation of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World before morphing into a truly interesting mini-biography of Huxley, his wife, and their Hollywood Hills home (complete with "space room" and "inversion machine"!).

In The GuardianUK, Sean O'Brien offers up six tips for adding drama to poetry, but not once does he mention balcony recitation, self-flagellation or defecating on a flag. Could there be a part two in tomorrow's paper?

Fed up after four months in a safe house, exiled writer Taslima Nasreen has announced that she is ready to leave India. Nasreen's writing about the many ways that religion oppresses women, as well as her descriptions of violence against Hindus in the novel Shame, have resulted in countless death threats, raspberries and 'why I oughttas' aimed against her.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Because I'm Alkie For Seltzer:

The NYTimes On Why They Were Fooled, And What They're Doing To Make Sure That It Never Happens Again

Fooled Again
by Clark Holt
March 16, 2008

With a few computer keystrokes last week at my request, Jack Begg, the supervisor of newsroom research at The Times, showed me that there was no record of a Margaret B. Jones in Eugene, Ore. With a few more keystrokes, he brought up property records showing that the house Jones said she owned was bought by Margaret Seltzer and another person in 2000 and now belongs to Stuart and Gay Seltzer after an “intrafamily transaction.”
All of this should have been a huge red flag about Margaret B. Jones, the author of a memoir in which she said she was abused, taken from her family at age 5 and shuttled between foster homes for three years before winding up in a world of gangs, violence and drugs in South-Central Los Angeles.
The book, “Love and Consequences,” was a fake, and had Begg been asked to do five minutes of checking in readily available public records, or had reporters and editors done it themselves before the newspaper bit, The Times could have been spared the embarrassment of falling for yet another too-good-to-be-true memoir from a publishing industry unwilling to accept responsibility for separating fact from fiction.

Click here to continue...

Book News, In Brief

In France, book fairs are da bomb, yo. Via AP: A bomb threat on Sunday targeted the Paris book fair, forcing organisers to evacuate visitors to the literary event, which this year is honouring Israeli writers despite a Muslim boycott, police said.

Is former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto the next memoirist to have her writing's validity called into question? Via AP: The lawyer for a suspect arrested in a deadly attack on a rally for former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto said Sunday he would try to halt sales of her memoir because he believed it wrongly implicated his client in a plot to kill her.

Well, it's less embarrassing than the time they opened Disneyland before the asphalt had cooled. Via The Bennington Banner: The Northshire Bookstore held an official launch on Thursday of The Espresso Book Machine, a new type of technology expected to revolutionize the publishing industry, but unfortunately, it (was) broken.

Note to authors doubling as fighter pilots: make sure your name and bibliography are clearly visible to other pilots. It just might save your life. Via The Earth Times: The German pilot who shot down the plane carrying Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the author of the beloved book Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), said he deeply regretted his act, the French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche reported on Sunday. "If I had known who was in front of me, I would never have shot. Not him!"