Con Report Fantasticon 2018 in Copenhagen

My Dutch friend Jarsto and I had decided to go to the Fantasticon, so we both had week end tickets, and went to register Friday evening.
The theme for this years Fantasticon was Steam Punk, and it was quite fun to see people dressing up.
It was good to meet many old scifi friends, and get to meet a few new ones.

Saturday :
I went to the con, arriving about 1230.
More chatting with other fans, and then attending two program points :
Author interview with Lavie Tidhar, who was quite interesting and amusing to listen to. I just might find some of his books to read.
The second was Edmund Schluessel who talked a bit about cosmology, and told the story of two Danish astronomers :
Tycho Brahe who made as accurate measurements of the stars and planet’s positions and movements as is possible without telescopes. Yes, he did that before the invention of telescopes. He provided a massive amont of data, but did not d9o too much with it, but Johannes Kepler could use the data to form his theory and formulas for the movements of tha planets.
Then the talk went into measring the speed of light. Old measurements made with distances on Earth yielded no measurable delay, and light speed was deemed to be infinite, or in any case, not measurable. That was about to change.
Ole Römer who did use a telescope, among others to watch the moons of Jupiter. He noticed a discrepancy in the timing of eclipses of Jupiter’s Galilean moons, and by seeing the difference in timing when Jupiter was near conjunction with the sun, and in opposition to the sun, he measured the offset in timing and arrived at the conclusion that light does indeed have a finite speed. His result, made with the instrumentation and math of 1676.
He arrived at a speed of 200 000km/sec, which is excellent, considering the instuments used, and within a margin of about 30%.
I live a few km from the remains of Römer’s old observatory, and the Kroppedal museum nearby with some of the instruments used in the observatory, and asked if he knew about it. He did not, and I offered to bring him there for a visit, if he should visit Denmark again. He liked the idea, so we exchanged contact information.
After the talk we had an interesting conversation about science fiction and science in general, so I had an excellent Saturday at the con.

Sunday :
I was arriving a bit earlier than on Saturday, and, as usual having some talks with other fans.
In the afternoon there was a recording of a podcast by two groups. The Danish “Hva’ Fan” podcast and the Swedish “Fandompodden” , making a single podcast, spoken mostly in English. I took some pictures of the recording session.
Finally there war an interview with and a reading by the Danish writer Marie Ladefoged.
I came home with 3 books from the convention, two by Marie Ladefoged (in Danish), and one by Justina Robson.
I had a fun time, and I am looking forward to going to more conventions next year.

Anne McCaffrey, a Prolific Writer, also known as The Dragon Lady.

Anne McCaffrey (1926-2011) is one of the more prolific writers I know of.
I am mostly familiar with the “Dragonriders of Pern” series, and a part of the Acorna series.
At the Eurocon covention in Copenhagen, 2007, she was the main Guest of Honour, and the main reason I went to my first larger convention. At the reading she read from her story “The Ship Who Sang”, and that was a great convention experience. I still have to read more of the Brain Ship series, but there is so much to read/watch/listen to.
There is simply too much material to mention here, so I recommend visiting the Wiki page to get to know more about her work, but here are a few facts.
She was the first woman to win the Hugo award, voted by World Science Fiction Convention in 1968. This was with a novella of the Pern series, “Weyr Search”, later incorporated in the first Pern novel “Dragonflight”.
She was also the first woman to win the Nebula award in 1969, by the Science Fiction Writers of America. This was for her second Novella in the Pern series, “Dragonrider”, also later incorporated into the Dragonflight novel.
At the Eurocon she humorously told how she found having trouble handling the rocket shaped Hugo Award, because she found that it resembled a phallus symbol. Interesting how things have changed since then.

Also, at the convention she was very approachable at the table, and at the signing, where I got my hard cover copy of “The White Dragon” signed.

Anne McCaffrey CPH

Anne McCaffrey at Eurocon, Copenhagen 2007

This was Anne McCaffrey’s last convention, ever, and I consider myself lucky to have met the author of one of my favourite book series, before she passed beyond the Rim.
Later I will tell more of my own experience with her work, a bit about the Acorna series, and in more detail, about the Pern series.

 

Re-watch of Star Trek TNG 1-2

Recently Netflix carries the Star Trek series where I live, so I decided to make a re-watch of Star Trek Next Generation.
Just finished the first 2 seasons, occasionally while doing some other stuff, like ripping some CDs.
Let’s face it, seasons 1 and 2 are not too strong, so I often found me leaving the episode running while changing CD (and editing the CDDB entry), but a few episodes did catch me.
Unlike some others I do like Q, episodes, sometimes for the sense of fun, sometimes for the challenges to characters.
Q Who? is my favourite until the end of season 2. What can compete with Q, Guinan … and The Borg ? For me that is a winner combination
One other season 2 episode is just excellent : “The Measure of a Man”
In season 1 I would also mention Datalore (yes, the introduction of Lore), and The Neutral Zone (The Romulans are back, and we get the indication of a new, very powerful adversary).
In season 2 I would mention Where Silence has Lease, Contagion (The Iconians make for a fun episode, once more with the Romulans), The Emissary (turning a disadvantage into an advantage – and Peak Performance.
Elementary, dear Data for the fun gets an honourable mention from me.
Yes, this is all my own experience, feel free to disagree.

 

Starting Season 3 it is clear that here is where some better episodes begin to appear. More on that later, and also a list of stuff I have watched and read since I moved back to Denmark. The list is not exactly short, and I may write some quick reviews of some of those at a later stage.

Brief Post on activities the last year.

The blog has not been active for a while. The removal, and rebuilding of my life has taken priority. Noth everything is about scifi 😉 .
However, I have had some scifi activities, such as :
– Fedcon 2015 and 2016
– Small local conventions like Dancon and Fantasticon
– The very first Copenhagen Comicon
– a bit of reading, mostly Dresden Files books
– watching some TV/HBO/Netflix series, such as Sense8 (rewatch)
– Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Game of Thrones, 12 Monkeys, and several others

More detail on some of it later.

A Brief Sense8 review (spoiler free)

Having a little bit more time available here are a few words on the original Netflix series “Sense8”.

Sense8 is created by J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) and the Wachowskis, Andy and Lana (the Ws).

It had its premiere of all 12 episodes (season 1) in the beginning of June this year. I took time off from removal activities and watched all episodes on the premiere day.

This is a hard one to watch, single episodes at a time. It invites you to binge watch, and it  has been stated by JMS that it was intentional.

I am now into the second watch, this time much more slowly, and the re-watch value of this story is very high.

The story focuses on 8 characters, called “sensates” who, due to a tragic event, are suddenly linked telepathically, and they are hunted.

The story is more focused on characters and themes, and starts moving very slowly, introducing all 8 sensates and their immediate relations. We see the story unfold from their perspective, meaning that what they know we know, and no more.

Last Sunday I participated in The Sense8 Podcast discussing Episode 6 “Demons”, which is very packed and has a very widely discussed scene.

I consider making a set of commentaries, episode by episode, spoilerific and possibly non spoilery, if time allows.

The show does have some rather explicit scenes, but also rewards patience and attention, so I will recommend it if that is the type of story you prefer.

Story of a Bear

Sometimes fans can blow a particular story completely out of proportion.

 

This is what happened to the story of Peter David (PAD) who wrote 2 episodes of Babylon 5, in particular “There all Honor Lies”, where B5 should be, at least in a small part, be financed my merchandize.

JMS made a small re-write as a response to receiving a Teddy Bear from PAD as a gift. JMS has gone on record as not liking “cute”, so the re-write resulted in the bear being spaced by captain Sheridan.

Later PAD put a story of a spaced bear into another story, saying that it was done by a race called the “Straczyn”. There was a bit more back-and-forth, and suddenly the fans were blowing this up to be a feud between PAD and JMS.

The truth is that it was all a friendly tease between the two, as Peter David wrote on his blog in 1997.

Please read the above link for the full story. I found it quite amusing.

My #FreeBabylon5 experience at Loncon3

Some of you may not be familiar with #FreeBabylon5, so here is a short description :

There have been several attempts to revive the interest in the Babylon 5 TV series, including JMS’ attempt to buy back the rights for everything. He already has the rights for a theatrical movie, but can not do much with that.

Come September 2013 he had enough of this and made a not on his Facebook page, saying that he could do no more and encouraging the fans to “be organized and be loud”, in order to get Babylon 5 back on TV screens and streaming services. Babylon 5 has been away from TV screens for over a decade in the US. He (and we, the fans) want casual viewers to be able to stumble across the series.

So – the fans started a campaign – letter writing and attention creating measures. The campaign has already been partly successful. The full 5 year series has been shown on the UK Watch channel, with a trailer referencing #FreeBabylon5, and is currently running in Denmark, Germany and Italy.

I have been participating by giving away FreeBabylon5 stuff at a few conventions, and had some fun with that.

Now on to my draft text for an article for the FreeBabylon5 website :

“This is a personal account of my (Babylon Lurker’s) attendance of Loncon3 also known as Worldcon 2014.

Since I live in the Netherlands this was the first Worldcon I have had available near me since I started to go to conventions.

I met Jan M Schroeder at Phoenix Comicon 2013 and Space City Con 2014, and she provided me with some #FreeBabylon5 treats to give away at conventions.

The first two conventions were small local conventions in Copenhagen, Denmark with 30 – 150 attendees – and I got to give away a bit of this. One Swedish writer saw my “#FreeBabylon5” badge and immediately reacted by saying that B5 is a brilliant show.

The third was Fedcon in Düsseldorf, Germany, a media oriented convention with about 5000 attendees. I did get to give away a fair amount of the #FreeBabylon5 stuff, since I met a fair amount of B5 fans there.

Having gone to bigger conventions I decided to go to Worldcon in London this year with a fair supply.

Loncon3B5web

I did not have a table, but just walked around, talking to people. I was slightly surprised by the sheer number of Babylon 5 fans I met there. I must have talked to about 100 people during the 5 days, and my impression is that about 80% of those were B5 fans who happily received the FreeBabylon5 stuff. I am aware that B5 is more popular in the UK than in the US, but among the US people I met the number of fans was high. Essentially everyone knew B5, and many of the non-fans had the show on their to-do list.

I have to assume that this is because Worldcon attendees have a very wide range of Science Fiction interests, books, films, TV, comics etc. I guess I should not have been surprised at all .

On Saturday a Babylon 5 fan meeting was arranged, and in spite of it coinciding with the masquerade we had 40 – 50 people there. Not everyone I met had even heard of the fan meeting. I am sure it could have been bigger if it had been more widely announced.

Jan had indicated that the temporary tattoos were quite popular at SDCC, at Worldcon I found that the #FreeBabylon5 ribbons were more sought after. I ran out of the ribbon supply, but I still have some of the tattoos left, and a few buttons/badges, too.

Loncon 3 has been a very good convention experience in general, and a good B5 fan experience in particular. I will certainly continue being a roving Ambassador/Ranger at other conventions that I will attend.”

Transcript of JMS’ Announcement of a B5 Movie

Jan M Schroeder has just finished a transcript from the JMS announcement. She has encouraged sharing, so I bring it here as well :

Updated 2014-08-10 due to a glitch.

“Whew! Okay, I’ve finally transcribed the relevant portions from my audio recording:

Quote:

JMS recaps what’s coming up and then:

So we’ve been having a really, really good year at Studio JMS. And where that comes in handy – where it’s kind of important involves this (B5 logo comes on screen). So… Fact: When I made the Babylon 5 deal with Warner Bros. it was just short of indentured servitude. Financially, I’ll never seen a dime out of Babylon 5 ever. I have no problems with that; I knew what I was signing when I go into it, but I mention it to piss them off every once in a while. One thing that I was able to withhold was the film rights. I still own the movie rights to Babylon 5. I’ve been pushing Warner’s for the last…ever since the early cretaceous period…to “Let’s do a Babylon 5 movie – a proper big budget feature film.” And they’ve always dragged their feet [because] that’s what Warner Bros. does. They knew that they had the upper hand because I couldn’t take it to any other studio because these days all the studios want all the rights. So if I brought it to say, Sony or Fox, they’d want the TV rights which Warner Bros. controls. Warner Bros. will never give those rights up so we were always handcuffed by that.

Turns out, however, there’s one studio in Los Angeles…Distributors, by the way, don’t care about the TV rights. Distributors just [care] about the movie, they don’t care about the TV part. There’s one studio in town that doesn’t care if it doesn’t have the TV rights…that wants to see this movie made and will do it with or without Warner Bros. (Studio JMS logo comes on screen).
Here’s the plan: We’re going to have, through Studio JMS, at least two, maybe three TV series on the air next year. We’re going to have at least one or two movies going ahead. And we’ll use that to parlay serious investment in the studio. I’m not talking Kickstarter, I’m talking about one hundred million dollars, two hundred million dollars; we already have people who are lined up and interested in doing that.

So in 2015 I will write a Babylon 5 screenplay. I’ll be giving Warner Bros. the opportunity – if they want to step up, “Help yourself”. If they don’t, 2016: We make it. I’m not going to wait around for more of our cast members to die. So that’s the long term plan and those are the current updates on everything that’s going on right now.

Question from a fan: Asked if JMS might crowd-fund for a million of the investment so that fans can be part of it.

JMS: I would rather not. Here’s the reason why, though. I come from the ranks of fandom – I’m as rank as any of you. To me, much as I understand that Kickstarter and crowd-sourcing are a way for those outside to get involved with the process, show their appreciation for the process, I am resistant to that lure because it feels to me like taking advantage of the fans and I have a hard time with that on a moral and ethical basis. I’d rather have an investor come up and say “Here’s a check for a hundred million dollars” – which I would gladly take, by the way; if anyone in the audience happens to have one of those lying around, let me know – than to come to the fans and try to get it. Science fiction fans, and horror fans, to a degree, are the most exploited folks out there. “Line up, buy the merchandise, watch the show.” And I just see this money suck happening. So the answer is no.

Question from a fan: Are you considering a reboot to bring in new viewers or are you thinking of a continuation with the cast and crew from the original series.

JMS: It would have to be a reboot because it’s now been twenty-plus years since we started that show and some of the age ranges wouldn’t always work with some of the characters. So we’d have to move a few people around. But what I want to do is use the original cast one way or the other and move a few things around. I’d love to see Bruce as President of the Earth Alliance; that would be the perfect role for him.

I love playing around with the cast anyway. The one story that I wanted to do for the original B5 and they wouldn’t let me do it was, when Londo was injured and had this dream sequence, I wanted to have different actors play different roles. So Jerry Doyle would play Londo. Claudia Christian would play Delenn and Delenn (Mira) would play Ivanova. Peter Jurasik would play Jerry Doyle’s role. Andreas Katsulas would be the Commander of the Station and Bruce would be G’Kar. They said, “People would be way too confused.” JMS: “They won’t be confused, trust me! Listen, they have the intelligence for this.” It was the only story that they said “No, no, no, no and by the way, no.” The chance to [ ] play around with the cast and have some fun with it could be a good thing.
Any errors are mine. Feel free to share.

Jan “

JMS announces a Babylon 5 movie at SDCC2014

This is the text from Jan M Schroeder regarding her Saturday activities at this year’s San Diego Comicon, brought here with permission. Thanks Jan.

I have my own comments on what could have lead up to this point, but that will have to wait. Please enjoy.

J. Michael Straczynski has bee a very busy bee, as you will see in Jan’s report below :

 

Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con (or the day JMS announced that he’ll do a B5 movie).
I got there at a good time, not long after the con opened at 10:00 AM. A little surprisingly, the mezzanine didn’t really seem too much busier than other days so far except for the food area being busier. I’ve got pre-written letters to WB and NBC/Universal out on the table and a fair number of folks took those to mail after adding a little demographic info. Five or six were left with me and I dropped them off to be mailed.
The big panel of the day was JMS’ of course. First I went to his signing and got a few things signed that will most likely be destined as fund-raisers. I verified with JMS that he wouldn’t mind if I handed out buttons and postcards before his panel. A new friend, Lukas, handed out at the door and I wandered the room where people were already staying from the panel before.

JMS started the panel by reviewing his current projects, both ‘out house’ (not Studio JMS) and in-house and continued with news. We got an introduction to the Sense8 actors. JMS described it as a “…complex, amazing tapestry of stories.”
– Ten Grand: JMS is currently negotiating with a major Studio/Network for a series based on this.
– Shadowman feature film: He’s two to three weeks from turning in the latest draft.
– He couldn’t name it, but he’s working on a project for Universal concerning Rod Serling and working with Carol Serling, Rod’s widow on it.
– Again he couldn’t say much but he showed a title card for a show called “Two Streets” that he’s just made a deal with Universal for that he’ll be working with “Walking Dead’s” Gail Anne Hurd.
– “Titans” is the name of the Feature film/graphic novel project that was just announced yesterday (see movie thread).
So it’s been a really big year for Studio JMS. And due to that, he can now look to doing a feature film for B5. JMS recapped that WB owns everything about B5 except the movie rights and even though he holds the film rights, to take a B5 movie to another studio without holding the TV rights wouldn’t work. There’s one studio in LA that doesn’t care about that – Studio JMS – and in 2015 JMS will write the script. He’ll give WB the opportunity to step up, but if they don’t, Studio JMS will make it in 2016 on their own with a $1-200,000,000.00 budget.

Fan questios:
A fan asked if JMS might crowdfund part of the film so that fans might be involved and JMS said that he resists doing that because it seems to him that SF fans are an exploited group and he doesn’t ever want to do that – he’d rather accept investor money.
Asked about the current situation with streaming Babylon 5, JMS said that it’s all up to Warner Bros. and gave the ‪#‎FreeBabylon5‬ campaign a nice plug, telling of the success in Europe to date and hoping for some movement domestically.

A fan asked if the success of a B5 feature might improve the chances of streaming and even future TV projects and JMS said that it would probably have a significant effect, that a good way to get someone’s (WB) attention is to rattle their cage.

Asked if the film would be a reboot or a continuation:
“It would have to be a reboot because it’s been twenty-plus years since we started that show and some of the age ranges wouldn’t work with some of these characters so we’d need to move a few people around. But what I want to do is use the original cast one way or another but we’d have to move some things around. I’d love to see Bruce as the PPresident of the Earth Alliance; it would be the perfect role for him.”

JMS went on to tell about a story he wanted to do that he wasn’t allowed to in the original show where when Londo was injured, he wanted to do a dream sequence where the actors played different characters but the studio thought the audience would get confused.
A fan asked what’s being made not that would equal B5 for being transformative and JMS replied that TV is having a golden age right now with lots of amazing things. being made.

He concluded with his regular homily for the fans to never surrender their dreams, that with persistance and talent and luck, can overcome your circumstances and follow your passionss and succeed.

Jan
(posting in various places- feel free to share)

 

Overview of Babylon 5 (B5) podcasts.

Starting with the Babylon 5 podcasts known to me now, here is the list :

The Babylon Podcast  :
– 280 episodes
– warning : Massive spoilers in their episode discussion
– Very comprehensive with episode discussions, interviews, discussing books and comics

The Babble On Project  :
– currently running
– essentially spoiler free sections and spoiler sections
– episode discussion, a few interviews.
– sometimes poor audio quality with shouting into the microphones.

Downbelow : A Babylon 5 Introcast  :
– started 2014, currently at episode 30, at the end of season 1
– intended spoiler free, they have succeeded in doing that
– each B5 episode has a discussion episode, some episode commentaries

Braving Babylon 5  :
– started 2014, currently at episode 9
– generally spoiler free, first time viewer of B5
– single host talking about one episode per podcast episode

The Babylon Project Podcast  :
– started 2014, currently at episode 4
– generally spoiler free section followed by a spoiler section
– single episode discussion

The Audio Guide to Babylon 5  :
– started 2014, currently at episode 5
– starting every episode with a generally spoiler free section then a spoiler section present from the beginning
– Single episode discussion

White Star 5  :
– started 2014, currently at episode 4
– spoilers inevitable due to the nature of the discussions
– Discussions of themes, characters etc – no episode discussions

Jumpgate : The Babylon 5 ReWatch Podcast
– Started late 2013 or early 2014, currently at episode 14
– spoilers inevitable due to the re-watch quality
– single episode discussions

SQPN : Secrets of Babylon 5  :
– ran in 2011 for 17 episodes, possibly pod-faded
– generally spoiler free, first time viewer
– two hosts discussing 2 episodes per podcast episode

Wow ! 9 B5 podcasts that I know about, and 6 of them started less than a year ago.
This really looks like a renaissance of the interest for Babylon 5.
That was the quick overview, some more details for some of the podcasts will follow.