Michael Straczynski (World War Z, Thor, Babylon 5) has acquired the rights to Harlan Ellison‘s now classic short story, “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman (originally published in a 1965 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction, and more recently in this Kindle compendium of classic science fiction). Meredith Woerner, at io9, summarizes the plot:
The beautiful and complex story, “‘Repent Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” is set in a dystopian future where time is a highly regulated. Being late is a serious crime. If you abuse your time the Ticktockman will find you, “turn you off,” and you die. The short story itself starts in the middle and leaps from the beginning and end throughout the plot. It’s really a wonderful bit of work that has been widely praised as an astounding work of science fiction. And now, Straczynski has acquired the rights to this story from Ellison.
Because Ellison has been famously reticent to work with Hollywood, after all of his run ins with the industry, the optioning of this script comes as quite a surprise. Deadline’s Mike Fleming unravels the mystery:
How did Straczynski do it? He had to deliver a finished screenplay to Ellison, whose credits range from The Outer Limits and Star Trek to being acknowledged in many sci-fi works including James Cameron’s The Terminator, and serving as a Babylon 5 consultant. Only then did Ellison grant the option.
Now, JMS certainly knows what he’s doing (I mean, he’s written tons of screenplays for successful films) but I do wonder about the lack of tension in this story translating to the big screen. To me, a story like “Repent,” has what I think of a 1984 problem. The concept is amazing and transformative, but the stuff that actually happens in the story is less memorable than the premise. To put it another way: I think of this (and many of Ellison’s stories) as brief little jaunts into worlds, and once the point has been made, the story ends. This is the strength of short fiction, and also the reason why movie-length versions of Twilight Zone-esque plot-twisters can get a little trying. (Repent, Shyamalan!)
I have to say, how this story makes it to the silver screen is beyond me, as well. If Jackson gets the nod, will he stretch this short story out the way he did The Hobbit? Will Mr. Ellison allow that?
Oh, and whatever you do with this story, Mr. Straczynski, don’t call it science fiction!
The January Roll-Your-Own Review Poll is closed and we have our three winners! Congrats to Alix, Rae and Val and thanks to everyone for all the great reviews! Our winners will find an Amazon.com gift card waiting for them in their email inbox for $25, $15 and $10 respectively.
Now that we’re caught up with the RYO we’ll be having another poll very shortly for February. You still have a few days to get your reviews in so don’t put it off. We could be sending you a gift card next month!
As you can see by the stats thus far the RYO is off to a roaring start! Well done everyone. Let’s keep it going and see how far we can take it.
Glenn Hough (gallyangel) is a nonpracticing futurist, an anime and manga otaku, and is almost obsessive about finishing several of the lists tracked on WWEnd. In this series on Fantasy Manga Glenn will provide an overview of the medium and the place of fantasy within it.
Oh My Goddess! premiered in the USA in August of 1994 and 46 takubon later is still going. It’s been going on even longer than Blade of the Immortal. Blade has ended it’s run in Japan. The saga of Keiichi and Belldandy has not, so we will see a 20th year mark for USA publication next year.
We’ve all heard of star crossed lovers before, but this is ridiculous.
Dark Horse has this to say about the first Volume:
Alone in his dorm on a Saturday night, Nekomi Tech’s Keiichi Morisato dials a wrong number that will change his life forever – reaching the Goddess Technical Help Line. Granted one wish by the charming young goddess Belldandy – a wish for anything in the world – Keiichi wishes she would stay with him always! Complications are bound to ensue from this; the immediate first being the new couple getting tossed out of the dorm – it’s males only! As the hapless student and his mysterious “foreign beauty” ride around looking for a new place to stay – risking the different dangers of seeking shelter with an otaku convinced Belldandy is an imaginary woman, and a Zen priest convinced she’s a sinister witch – Keiichi’s still got his classes on Monday morning! How is his new “exchange student” companion going to be received on the N.I.T. campus? A little too well for normal life to ever return…
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have announces the 2013 Nebula Awards nominees! The noms in the Best Novel category are:
- We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (Marian Wood)
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (Morrow; Headline Review)
- Fire with Fire by Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
- Hild by Nicola Griffith (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
- Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
- The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata (Mythic Island)
- A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar (Small Beer)
- The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (Harper)
The winners will be announced during the 49th Annual Nebula Awards Weekend will be held May 15-18th, 2014, in San Jose at the San Jose Marriott. The Awards Ceremony will be hosted by Toastmaster Ellen Klages. Check out the official press release for full details and the complete list of noms in all categories.
This ballot’s got a lot of variety and continues a recent trend in the Nebulas having a female majority of noms: 6 of 8 for 2013, 4 of 6 2012, 4 of 6 2011 and 5 of 6 for 2010. Interesting. Ancillary Justice has the most award nominations out of these book (3 so far) so I guess that makes it the front runner. What are your predictions? Do you have a favorite?
- NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (William Morrow)
- Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (Scribner)
- Malediction by Lisa Morton (Evil Jester Press)
- A Necessary End by Sarah Pinborough and F. Paul Wilson (Thunderstorm/Maelstrom Press)
- The Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice (Gallery Books)
The Stoker Awards will be presented at the 27th annual Bram Stoker Awards Banquet held during the World Horror Convention 2014 in Portland, Oregon, on May 10th. See the official press release for the complete Stoker ballot and voting details.
This looks like an interesting crop of books and I like that we have a father and son going head to head for the award. I’m guessing that doesn’t happen very often for any award. Must make for some interesting conversation ’round the dinner table at the King house. What do you think of this lineup? Any predictions?
To begin with a digression, I was never much of a Robert A. Heinlein fan. Growing up as a science fiction kid in the 1970s, I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about, but back then, being indifferent to Heinlein made me question my tastes. Everybody seemed to love Heinlein. He was one of the “big three” (and I was a fan of the other two—Asimov and Clarke). So I kept giving him a try. I quite liked The Past Through Tomorrow—the collection of his mostly early-career future history stories. I can definitely see that he was writing some of the best short fiction of the Forties. But the novels—The Puppet Masters, Starship Troopers, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Stranger in a Strange Land—I thought they were okay, but just okay. It’s difficult to explain, but there always seemed to be something about each of his novels that rubbed my teenage self the wrong way. Then, in 1980, the first new (in my reading lifetime) Heinlein novel came out so, like all good SF fans in 1980, I made the mistake of reading The Number of the Beast, and swore off Heinlein forever. Based on what I’ve learned since, post-1960 Heinlein increasingly allowed his libertarian politics and “interesting” views regarding sexuality to overwhelm his storytelling (which could explain my half-remembered uneasy reaction to those novels), and most of the novels I tried were from this later period, so I’ve been meaning to take a look at an earlier novel at some point.
I’ve wanted to read Jonathan Lethem‘s Gun, With Occasional Music (1994) since I heard someone give a paper about it in a detective fiction panel at an academic conference several years ago. Soon after, the book was a Kindle daily deal, so it has been sitting on my virtual TBR shelf for a while now. The 35 challenge pushed me to dust it off (virtually, of course) and read it. Lucky for me, the book fulfills three other RYO challenges: Socialists, etc. (Lethem grew up in a commune in Brooklyn); The End of the World (future dystopia); and The Second Best (nominated for a Nebula).
Lethem creates a bizarre dystopian world, full of new species, who live among human society. First, there are talking animals. These so-called evolved animals seem to be creatures who grow to the size of a small human, move bipedally, and talk and think as humans. In the course of the story, we meet an evolved ape, kitten, ewe, kangaroo, and other secondary characters. These characters are interesting and fully-imagined; their difference doesn’t really provide an obstacle for the reader. This cannot be said about the second group, a new form of children in this world. Lethem does not completely explain if these new “children,” called Babyheads, are in addition to or instead of human children. Babyheads have mature minds but inhabit miniature and deformed bodies. They are born very smart but not emotionally stable. As they live among humans, they grow more and more resentful about being trapped in a small body “in a six foot world” (234). The sub-culture of the Babyheads is the weakest part of the book because Lethem never takes the time to explain about their appearance or function in this new society. The reader is left with many distracting questions.
D-503 is a model citizen of the One State society. As the designer of the Integral, the spaceship that will carry the wonders of One State to what they assume are the primitive people of other planets in the solar system, D-503 would be a distinguished citizen. But everyone in One State is equal, and D-503 does not question the wisdom of this system. He enjoys the regularity of his day, ordered by The Table of Hours: his wake-up time, his feeding hours, his work time, and his evenings in one of the huge auditoriums where citizens gather for instructive entertainment. He has a private hour, and sometimes a pink slip is issued that allows him a sexual interlude with the adoring and complacent O-90.
Life is good for D-503. But one day, walk walking like thousands of others during the walking hour and with O-90 by his side, he sees for the first time I-330, and she will acknowledge his glance. D-503’s life, from this moment, will begin to spiral out of control.