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Sitrep 8/6/10

Okay, so I’m sitting here holding down the fort at Maison Bradley with the cats and the rats (yes, you read that right; I’ve been saddled with a pair of foster rodents that my daughter—the world-saver, God bless her—rescued from euthanasia in the Cornell psychology lab…but don’t get me started).  As I write this post late Thursday night, the wife is making the “Midnight Run” from Middlebury to Ithaca, having left straight from work to pick up Alexandra and return home in the wee hours of Friday morning.  Tomorrow, after taking her to a Rufus Wainwright concert as a retroactive birthday treat, the long-suffering Madame B will do the same thing again in reverse, returning Alexandra to Cornell and limping home at an even more ungodly hour, leaving Yours Truly to burn the midnight oil once more in the name of truth, justice, and the Matheson way.

I have basically bid adieu to my day job until I can finish indexing Richard Matheson on Screen, whenever that will be, and since I am—as some of these posts may suggest—a meticulous guy, who takes his responsibilities very seriously, that’s much easier said than done.  By the simple expedient of driving to work today instead of taking the train, so that I wouldn’t be beholden to Metro-North and have to depart at a potentially undesirable moment, I can honestly say I was able to leave with a clear conscience, the next item on my job stack having a mid-September due date.  But I’m still in double jeopardy, trying to make the two-week deadline from my publisher while also minimizing my enforced (and open-ended) absence from my day job before things go all to pieces, and I have no idea how long the indexing, which I’ve never done before, is likely to take.

With all those animals to attend to, and my own increasingly burned-out bod to nourish, it was a while before I was able to buckle down and complete Phase Two, the actual proofreading.  On the way home, I bought a big bag of Chinese food that should last me at least partway through Friday, and although I’m not supposed to have any caffeine because of my atrial fibrillation, I’ve been bending (okay, breaking) the rules a little (okay, a lot) until I can get this Matheson monkey off my back.  I must say, the cup I had in the morning made this one of the most productive days I’ve had in a long time, at least on MBI’s behalf, but from now on it’s all Matheson all the time, excepting any mental-health breaks I might take to hang out with Alexandra or the gang at Dan Scapperotti’s annual barbecue on Saturday, assuming Loreen has the strength to drag us there.

Phase One, since you asked, was placing the copy-edited manuscript and the page proofs side by side, partly to make sure that the proofs properly reflected the copy editor’s changes (some of which they did not), and partly to address any issues with the copy editing itself…of which I’m sorry to say there were several.  I won’t enumerate my grievances here for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that for the sake of my sanity, I have to believe we’re both working, in our decidedly different ways, toward making the best book possible, and I’ll even admit that in some ways, he or she has improved it.  But it’s certainly a shame that I wasn’t allowed to weigh in on some of these changes before the manuscript was put into production, because a lot of what I ended up doing during the proofing was correcting errors that have been introduced since I turned in the book.

The main problem right now is that because the book has already been paginated, any text I may wish restored must be accommodated by removing something else, which seems like a bit of a Catch-22 for the author when the material in question was removed without my knowledge or consent.  Thus, when I begin Phase Three (presumably tomorrow, considering how late it is and how tired I’m getting) by entering The Wonderful World of Indexing, I must also keep one eye on whatever trade-offs I need to make in order to put back any precious pearls of wisdom, while also wondering how that will affect the pagination and, by extension, the index.  Well, I will say it’s never dull, and no matter how much the light at the end of the tunnel may resemble an oncoming train, we are at last approaching the endgame, with a projected publication date of early October.

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Sitrep 7/27/10

Received the following from the managing editor at McFarland yesterday, and won’t take the time to editorialize just now, but will keep you posted:

Today we have shipped proofs for your book, Richard Matheson on Screen, via UPS to the address you provided. You can now carry out your final two jobs, proofreading the book and creating an index. A form letter with general instructions accompanies the proofs.

Publication is now very near—most books go to the printer just days after we receive the proofs and index.

Your book is tentatively scheduled to be sent to the printer 4 weeks from today’s date. To avoid delays, please give the proofs and index prompt attention.

We look forward to bringing your book into print soon.

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On the Fritz

Okay, I will leave the explication to the professionals, but I do feel obliged as a kind of public-service announcement (and no, I don’t get kickbacks!) to point out that the restoration du jour of Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent classic Metropolis is coming to Manhattan’s Film Forum May 7-20. I say “du jour” because this is now the third restoration since my college days, and I don’t just mean a gussied-up negative; we’re talking boatloads of “new” footage found in Argentina (hmm…), the whole nine yards. It is, naturlich, a mixed blessing for those of us who ponied up to buy the previous restoration on DVD, but when the opportunity presents itself to own a more definitive version of a—some might say the—masterpiece of silent film, one does try to accentuate the positive.

Of course, some of us WOULD have bought the 1984 Giorgio Moroder restoration on a legitimate DVD, were such a thing ever made available, which I don’t believe it has. For those of you unfamiliar with that (hardly surprising, in light of its veritable suppression), pop-music magnate Moroder added not only rediscovered material but also tinting—common in silent films—and a contemporary score featuring artists such as Adam Ant, Pat Benatar, Queen’s Freddy Mercury, Billy Squier, and Bonnie Tyler. Inevitably, many purists howled, but we proponents loved the score, commending Moroder for trying to win the film a new audience as well as restoring it, and although we would never say his version should supplant any others, we feel it should be available for those who want it.

The soapbox is now closed. See details from Film Forum below. Bradley out.

http://www.filmforum.org/films/metropolis.html

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There follows, verbatim, an item kindly shared with me by the redoubtable Simon Drax (check out the latest installment of his awesome weekly online serial novel Doomtroopers at http://doomtroopers.wordpress.com/). Not sure if my magnum opus, Richard Matheson on Screen, will be out from McFarland in time for this Seattle event, but in any case, no writer is more deserving…even if Richard dislikes being pigeonholed in any genre!

http://www.empsfm.org/exhibitions/index.asp?categoryID=203

Science Fiction Hall of Fame

EMP|SFM is proud to announce the 2010 Hall of Fame inductees: Octavia E. Butler, Richard Matheson, Douglas Trumbull and Roger Zelazny.

The induction ceremony will be held Saturday, June 26, 2010 at EMP|SFM as part of the Science Fiction Awards Weekend, June 25-27, 2010, in conjunction with the Locus Awards and NW Media Arts writing workshops with Connie Willis and Gregory Frost. Further information and tickets to the Science Fiction Awards Weekend are available on the Locus website.

About the Science Fiction Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame honors the lives, works, and ongoing legacies of science fiction’s greatest creators.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame was founded in 1996 by the Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society (KCSFFS) in conjunction with the J. Wayne and Elsie M. Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas. Created in 1971, the KCSFFS fosters interest in the literary forms known as science fiction and fantasy, and is one of the oldest science fiction clubs in mid-America.

Each year since 1996, the Hall of Fame has inducted four individuals on the basis of their continued excellence and long-time contribution to the science fiction field. The Science Fiction Museum is honored to now be the permanent physical home of the Hall of Fame, and will continue its mission through annual inductions of individuals who have made outstanding and significant contributions to Science Fiction.

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Those of you who missed seeing my daughter as Rowena, the hooker who relieves Eugene Morris Jerome of his virginity in Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues (and I think that takes in most of you), can get yourself back in BOF’s good graces by making a pilgrimage this weekend to Ithaca, New York, to see her production of David Auburn’s Proof at Cornell’s Risley Theatre. Here are the details, straight from the horse’s—er, director’s—mouth:

“The play centers around [sic] the younger daughter of a mathematical genius whose mind has slowly deteriorated from illness. As she has to come to terms with his death after years of taking care of him, she must also face the people around her concerned about her own health and well-being, and prove to them that she is much more capable than they think she is…

Director: Alexandra Bradley

Producer: John Simpson

Performances:

March 12 and 13 at 7:30 pm (doors open at 7:00)

March 14 at 2:00 pm (doors open at 1:30)

Risley Theatre, Ithaca, NY

Tickets: $5

To reserve tickets in advance, e-mail prooftix@gmail.com with your preferred performance date, number of people attending, and name and e-mail of person picking up the tickets at the box office.”

And yes, we will once again be there on Sunday cheering her on. Come and join us—but be sure to reset your clocks, or you’ll miss the show!

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Greg Cox might be regarded in some circles as the luckiest man alive.  First, he is an acknowledged master of franchise fiction (or what I call “franfic”), which means he spends his days novelizing things like the Underworld films, writing New York Times bestselling Star Trek books, contributing stories about various superheroes and -villains to various anthologies, and generally living every fanboy’s dream.  In his X-Men/Avengers “Gamma Quest” trilogy, he even made me an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., which to this lifelong Marvel fan is about as cool as it gets.  Check out his website (http://www.gregcox-author.com/index.html) for further details, as well as fun photos of his cats and dog.

In his spare time, however, Greg is also Richard Matheson’s editor at Tor, and as such is a good source of information about upcoming Matheson movies or other activity.  Today he forwarded a story from SCI FI Wire (http://scifiwire.com/2010/02/hugh-jackmans-looking-for.php#more) about how they’re looking to cast the role of Hugh Jackman’s son in Real Steel, based on Matheson’s classic story “Steel.”

Due to my manuscript deadline, you won’t find a chapter on Real Steel when McFarland publishes Richard Matheson on Screen later this year (http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/book-2.php?id=978-0-7864-4216-4).  But you will find the straight dope on the classic episode of the original Twilight Zone that Matheson adapted from his story, with a powerhouse performance by Lee Marvin in the Jackman role.  Among Richard’s personal favorites, it also boasts a superb script, including one of Rod Serling’s most memorable closing speeches.

Not surprisingly, the character of the son has no analog in the short story or half-hour episode, but has obviously been added to bring the story up to feature-film length.  Let’s hope they do so more successfully than the makers of last year’s train wreck The Box, based on Matheson’s “Button, Button” (also adapted, less successfully, on the ’80s Twilight Zone revival).  But more on that another time…

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