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The best run convention I’ve ever been to? No, but the GoHs were great, especially Mr. John Picacio and Mary Robinette Kowal.They were both great and I was lucky enough to get to hang with them for a signiﬁcant portion of the weekend. I doubt that anyone will contradict the statement that the two of them were easily among the best guests BayCon has ever had. Me? I was working one of the days, so we had a Fanzine Lounge only in the evenings. They couldn’t afford to give us a room on the party ﬂoor, whcih was far deader than it has been in recent years, so we had a boardroom on the Mezzanine level. Not optimal, but we had a great time, especially on Sunday when we sat around at various levels of intoxication, played some card games with GoH Mary, recorded some Westerconversations (including one with Dave Gallaher that had me on the ﬂoor) and generally had a real good time. It was the people, like Espana, Leigh Ann, Andy, Kevin, Fred Moulton, The Lovely & Talented Linda, Jason Schachat, Bob, Milt Stevens, Digby and so on, that made the place lively. I did a few panels, the best of which being a great panel on Steampunk Literature which just had me and an author and we managed to keep the crowd rolling. I did one on Computer History where Bobby Toland, Steve Savitsky and andother guy had a great time.The best panel I’ve done on books was 5 Recent Books You Must Read. it was on current-ish SF (the last 10 years) and there were four of us, so we talked about impressive books that we loved. I had The Dervish House by Ian McDonald, Perdido Street Staion by China Mieville, The Half Made World by Felix Gilman, Soulless by Gail Carriger and The Yiddish Policeman’s Union. I would have had Anathem by Neal Stephenson on there, but Leigh Ann had it on her list. Jeremy, the publisher at Night Shade Books, was on the panel too. it was a good bunch of folks. The parties were down, the attendance seemed low, as I understand roomnights were off from previous years. Art Show sales weren’t great. Dealer’s Room did OK, it seems from the couple of dealers I chatted with. The food in the buffet was hit (the Meatloaf was great) and miss (thin hockey pucks with ketchup for Chicken Parm) and the drinks at the bar were hella pricey. Still, the staff has always been very good to us and the rooms are nice save for the funky bathrooms. Does BayCon need an injection of new blood, new management, new attendees? Yeah, that’d help. The next chair is set (Cruz, who has a Pleasure Cruise concept down) and there’s already talk about getting some new folks into new positions. This is a good thing, but they need to work in three areas: getting a party culture happening again, making a real masquerade happen and making it worthwhile for costumers, and attracting younger attendees. This can be accomplished by having more guests who aren’t in the higher age brackets. Getting the folks from xkcd or Schlock Mercenary would be a start, maybe some signiﬁcant Cosplayers as GoHs. The Costumers used to be a big part of the event and now it’s a costume dead area for the most part. Still, check out http://johnnyeponymous.podbean.com for Westerconversations with folks like Milt Stevens and Dave Gallaher and other Audio from the con! Other news is that I’m running another Fanzine Lounge at Westercon
Another ﬁne Mo Starkey Cover! It makes me happy that I get to run
in San Jose over the weekend before July 4th! I’m psyched because it’s got a good location and there are so many folks from all over who are comin’ out! I’ve also got a good bit to use that’ll help everyone who is looking for answers. I’ve just ﬁnished the Dining Guide, which is pretty good, I think. I’m hoping that I can ﬁnd another time to use it. It’s been used at three different cons, a Librarians meeting and for some friends I’ve had from out of town. I love multi-use materials! Coming up after that is WorldCon and it’s likely I’ll have friends visiting before and after. I’m so excited and the events are going great. Of course, there’s a bit of annoyance with the fact that the Big Heart and First Fandom awards aren’t going to be given out at the Hugos. To me, that’s a bad idea, but it happens. We’re working on giving them an appropriate position in the week. I’m not one of those folks who thinks that the Hugos are too long, far from it. I really think that the Hugo ceremoneis aren’t overly long, but they’re not well-ﬁlled. I know folks don’t like it when I compare the Hugos to the other big awards (and let’s be honest, the Oscars, Tonys, Emmys and, Ghod Help Me, even the Grammys, are many times bigger), but that’s what we should be shooting for.You put on a few awards, have a segment of tribute, then do a few more awards, then a stand-up bit, then more awards, then a big production number and then the ﬁnal big awards. It’s a formula that leads to a longer show, but it also makes it Must See Entertainment! Imagine if we got a few good acts to throw in, a chance to use a few more big names to present and interact with the audience. This would make the Hugos a bigger deal to the attendees, and possibly give them more respect for the awards in general. I I’m not saying a 4.5 hour ceremony like the Oscars, but even a three hour ceremony can afford a lot of great stuff to go on. Perhaps even a chance to present a Musical Guest of Honor with some time in front of the biggest audience of the convention. There are possibilities. So You Think You Can Dance is back and I’m enjoying it. I have a new obsession: Princess Lockerooo. She’s an amazing dancer in a style called Waacking. It’s related to Vogueing and the House music/dance movement. She put on perhaps the ﬁnest bit of high-energy dancing the entire episode. I’ve been following her on YouTube and she’s just amazing. Arms like rubber, face that strikes fear in the hearts of man! I’m going to try to get an interview with her for these very pages because if the Drink Tank isn’t about promoting dance, what is it about? We’re working on several theme issues that you might be interested in. We’ve got the second annual Hugo for the Best Novel issue, which will be fun, and then an issue dedicated to Mr. Tim Powers, Renovation GoH, and one issue of Journey Planet where we’e got a special Guest Editor: Emily McLeay! I’m psyched! Exhibition Hall is doing an issue dedicated to Gail Carriger and The Anubis Gates! Fun Fun Fun! OK, this issue has some Taral Wayne, some photos (on the last two pages) from Craig Glassner (aka Ranger Craig aka one of my favorite people in fandom!), Some art from Brad Foster and Michelle Guerrero and Cousin Claire, a piece from Dann Lopez, and a little more amazingness! Also, this is the episode of 52 Weeks about one of the ﬁlms that is most identiﬁed with the 1950s and ﬁlm. Invasion of the Body Snatchers! I’ve always had somethign of a bit of a bee in my bonnet about it, and you’ll see why, but it’s one of the best SF ﬁlms ever made!
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We got lots of letters on Handicapping the Hugos, including some from John Picacio, SaBean MoreL, Judith Morel, Beth Zuckerman, Claire Garcia, and various comments on Facebook and LJ. We’ll be doing some of those with the Hugo for Best Novel issue that’s coming up. Let’s start with Mr. Joel Zakem on issue 281! ChrisJust a few short notes about Drink Tank 281 (and the pictures that ran in 277). I checked with Jeff Beeler and that was indeed Ted Reynolds in the picture on page 17 of the Glicksohn issue. And contrary to Jerry’s suggestion, the fact that there is no money on the table and Becca was playing leads me to believe that the people were playing Wizard (a trump game that Mike helped introduce to Midwest fandom) rather than Poker in the picture on page 15. Thanks Joel! I’ve heard of Wizard and it’s a game I might have to ﬁnd out how to play. Like Jerry, I also discovered Monty Python in Toronto. Fo me, the discovery took place at Torcon 2, when Paul Williams dragged me to see “And Now For Something Completely Different.” which the convention screened. Let’s see, *no top shelf, foreign or mixed drinks* probably leaves out most of the Whiskeys (primarily scotches or bourbons) that I drink. I guess I will have to settle for a decent micro-brew, preferably something with a nice hop kick. Joel Zakem And I’ll happily provide the delicious hoppy goodness! Thanks, Joel! And Eric Mayer! Chris, It’s hard for me to say much about all these sf movies because I am fearfully ignorant of such ﬁlms and even if I’ve seen the ﬁlm I really don’t know enough about movies to have any useful comments. Which is not to say these issues aren’t interesting. They are an educational experience. I am at least learning a bit about the history of sf movies which is cool. And that’s why I’m doing it! I loved the Mo Starkey cover by the way. Terriﬁc. I love Mo’s covers! She’s my favorite ﬁrst time Hugo nominee. Hey, Taral bemoans the state of fandom. Now there’s a topic I can handle. I’ve bemaoned the state of fandom practically ever since I discovered fandom. The ﬁrst time an editor cut part of my letter of comment I knew fandom wasn’t what it used to be. I try to make sure that when I edit a letter. I only cut out the parts that make the writer look better than me! Okay,Taral is only bemoaning one aspect of fandom, let’s be fair, and I agree with him to a point.That is to say, I agree that one of the best things about fandom is that it is small enough to allow us to enjoy the talents of
people who have a lot to offer, but maybe not quite enough to offer, or not quite the right sort of thing, to have hit the Big Time. Often it is just a matter of not having the luck, or the right personality, or the ambition, that prevents an artist of any sort from making a living doing the art.There are a lot of people who are immensely talented who don’t make a living off their talent but are hobbyists instead. I’m a big fan of Fan for Fan’s sake. I’d never wanna be a writer for a living, largely because I don’t have the chops, but also because once I start doing anythign for a living, I start to hate it a little. When Mary and I lived in Rochester we used to go to a lot of plays, from touring Broadway shows to local theater groups who perfomed in high school auditoriums. And at every level we saw actors, and singers and dancers who entertained us. But today everything is measured on a national scale. On television and in the movies and on CDs we can all get art produced by those very few artists good enough (and lucky enough) to have reached the highest level. So the talent of a lot of people not at that pinnacle is neglected. Fandom was, and could still be (maybe still is) a great place for talented hobbyists to share their efforts. So, yes, I see Taral’s point about the local talent being overwhelmed. Very, very true.There is always a talented artist who you’d never know if you didn’t pay attention to teh smaller local stuff. However, awards are awards. The Hugo is not a measure of how “good” anything is, or how “deserving” or any sort of measure of quality whatsoever. The Hugo signiﬁes simply who, according to the Hugo rules, won. Why argue with that? Maybe more people should vote in the FAAn awards. I’d love to see more folks voting in the FAAns.There are other who don’t share that view, sadly, but I really wish that we’d have HUGE numbers. As for you, Chris, congratulations. I’ve always admired your writing, and zines and frantic, friendly approach to fandom and I guess a lot of Hugo voters share my views for once. And, heck, Taral gets nominated too. Isn’t that more important than winning. The winners is selected by people who are given a list of nominees and check off a name. To be nominated people have to come up with your name themselves and vote for you. Anyway, them’s my thoughts. Best, Eric Thanks much! I love doing the zines, and writing for other folks, and I’m planning on doing it for a long time more! And, on Handicapping The Hugos and The Model Train Issue... Lloyd Penney!!! Dear Chris and James: Still so much catching up to do. I have here The Drink Tank 282 and 283, and there’s a little time for comments and predictions... And always, we’re here for YOU! 282...Handicapping the Hugos...not easy at any point. We haven’t voted yet, and there’ll be some categories we won’t vote upon, simply because we aren’t really qualiﬁed to vote on them, meaning we haven’t read anything in the category. Who can afford new books and magazines these days? Certainly not me, but I will vote in the cat-
egories in which I can offer some informed opinions. But what fun are informed opinions? I mean seriously, thnk about it which is more fun: knowing that runnign the car up the ramp will merely damage your suspension or revving that sucker up to 11 and hitting that ramp like the Dukes of Hazard? Fan Artist...actually, as much as people like the xkcd comics, I don’t think they will connect Randall Munroe’s name with fan art. I think Brad Foster will take it again, but I would still like to see Steve Stiles and Taral have a rocketship each. I have to admit, I didn’t recognise Randal’s name at ﬁrst. I’m still thinking that if a fringe fan artist can get themselves on the ballot, they likely have the ability to get folks to vote for them in the end. Fan Writer...yes, James Bacon, or Claire Brialey. However, they may split the British vote. I expect that Steven Silver will take the rocket next year in Chicago. James needs to start clearing a spot for the trophy! I don’t think there’s any question that Steven will win it next year. Best Fanzine...I do not want StarShipSofa to win it, but they have the big subscriber base that for the most part reads SSS and SSS only, so they will win. For me, I’d like to see Challenger win it. I wish there was something in SSS to read, but it’s a podcast. I would love to see Challenger win it, too. Semi-Pro? No opinion. I simply don’t have the time to chase them around, I haven’t seen a copy of Weird Tales in over a decade, and I can’t afford Locus. I never did see that steampunk issue from September of last year. Also, no opinions on best pro artist, or pro editor. Dramatic Presentations? Nope, haven’t seen any of them. You should see Scott Pilgrim and Inception. I think Inception might be the most inventive ﬁlm I’ve seen since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The photograph of Ray Bradbury and the reporter...that looks like Toronto’s Liana K.! Wouldn’t surprise me. She is at all the local conventions, and looked very anime indeed at our local anime convention this past weekend. Anime North looks like it broke through the 20,000-attendee mark. That’s actually Rachel Bloom with Ray. I actaully have a photo of Liana K in the current Exhibition Hall I believe. Best Graphic Story...the only one of these I follow is Girl Genius. I like a few other webcomics, but I am weaning myself off them. I could spend the whole day looking at them. I still haven’t gotten the webcomic gene. I read Girl Genius in compilation form. I used to read a few, but I fell away pretty fast. I haven’t been in touch recently with Science Fiction South Africa, although they now have a Facebook page. I am certain I have seen the name Lauren Beukes in past issues, so now SFSA has a new hero, and Lauren Beukes has a whole new career. Good for her, and good for South African SF. So many are trying their best to write good SF (often published in the SFSA clubzine Probe), and so many of them are succeeding. I have urged SFSA to get anthologies of SA short stories published; give it a few years yet, but I think we will all see it on this continent, and others. Hmmmmm...is that enough to start a Sun CIty WorldCon bid? I won’t be making many marks on my ballot, but I will be voting. And really, isn’t that what’s most important? that we all participate and let our views be known. Maybe we vote for Chris, maybe we vote for Mr. Garcia. Either way, we all win!
283...Ah, model trains. I always liked model trains (that’s why my ﬁrst steampunk costume is of a train conductor)...I remember having a small set when I was little, and then being told I was a big boy now, and should give my trains to my younger brothers. That’s when I realized I wasn’t as big a boy as my parents thought I should be. I won’t tell you, James, what they did with my trains, but I think you can guess. Even without such models, I still like them, but know I’ll never have them again. Evelyn has a model train at her Granma’s, which is a good thing as I’d probably hijack them if they were at her place! Some friends of ours have small rail empires in their basements, but they rarely talk about them...perhaps being a miniature rail baron is a solitary pursuit. I do know where all the local rail hobby shops are, and I have been in them all over the past year. I’ll enjoy them vicariously, and see the price tags on all of them. There’s a huge layout in the local mall that I’ll see before I go into see Kung-Fu Panda tomorrow morning. I love that there’s one where kids can see it on the way to teh movies. A little more vicarious enjoyment...our local subway, the Toronto Transit Commission, is getting lots of new subway cars that are reminiscent of the Japanese bullet trains. They should be in service as of late next year or possible early 2013. Ooh, maybe I’ll get to see them when I’m out that way to see the ROM! That may have to do for the moment. While you two are up for a Hugo, I am up for an Aurora Award, in the category of Best Fan (Other) for all my letters of comment, plus articles and columns. I think this is my best chance to snag an Aurora in some years, so I am hopeful. While we’ll ﬁnd out about the Hugos in August, I won’t ﬁnd out about the Auroras until November, at the CanVention for this year, SFContario 2 in Toronto. Fingers crossed. I heard and a giant congrats and well-earned to you! You’ve won a couple already, haven’t you? Thanks, guys...with luck, see you in Reno. Yours, Lloyd Penney. Looking very much forward to seein’ ya at Reno! Always a good time to be had!
The people to ask, of course, are the good folks at Warner Brothers. It isn’t as though Warners has never been in touch with its audience. Highlights such as the old theatrical cartoons, Batman the Animated Series,Teen Titans, The Iron Giant and Tiny Toons – not to mention live-action classics such as Casablanca – show that the studio is capable of picking a winner. But, when it comes to pissing off their fans, Warners on occasion behaves as though it was a willful decision. I can mention incidental examples, such as the lackluster promotion of two animated classics – among the best to ever be distributed under the Warner Brothers shield. To some extent, the reluctance to spend money on Cats Don’t Dance is understandable. The ﬁlm was actually made by Turner Entertainment before its merger into Time Warner. In effect, asking the studio to promote another studio’s production was like asking a man to raise another man’s child. Unlike a child, a ﬁlm makes money for a studio. The problem arises with which Suit gets the credit for it. If none, then no-one in management is interested. There was a somewhat similar background behind The Iron Giant. The ﬁlm began gestation as a rock album based on a kid’s book. Director, Brad Bird, had the job of developing this into an animated feature while working at Turner. Again, the ﬁlm was nobody’s baby, and the director was an outsider at Warners – a cuckoo in the nest. There was no push behind The Iron Giant, no marketing, and, despite critical acclaim, low box ofﬁce receipts. While history has shown both ﬁlms have considerable staying power, Warners still treats them as unwanted orphans suspected of wizardly talents. There has been no wide-screen release of Cats Don’t Dance in North America since the original 1997 laser disk, for instance. The most recent DVD release of the ﬁlm bundled it with Quest for Camelot, a piece of sheer unwatchable shinola that was Warners’ baby, that some misguided Suit was proud to call his own. But for unmitigated contempt for your audience, nothing can beat the cavalier treatment of the hugely popular character, Lola Bunny. Bugs has had girl friends before. They haven’t looked very different from Bugs himself while in drag. But for the massive miscalculation called Space Jam, Warners felt they needed a female counterpart that Burger King would license. No way were kids going to be confused when they ordered a Pepsi and saw Bugs seem to hold hands with a guy on their cup. In the end, it was only Lola that saved even a few minutes of a ﬁlm than merely prostituted Warners’ classic characters in a vain attempt to reach an inner-city black audience. Instead of thanking Gawd on their knees that at least some small beneﬁt could be recovered from a ﬁlm I
How to Fuck With Your Fans Taral Wayne
wouldn’t show to detainees at Gitmo in place of water-boarding, the studio ignored Lola Bunny completely. The Japanese ofﬁce knew a good thing when they saw it, and produced toys, dolls, key-chains and anything else they could think of to cash in on the character. Grudgingly, the American ofﬁce permitted a few stories about Lola in their Loony Toons comic book, as well as a role in the blatant Muppet Babies rip-off called Baby Looney Tunes. I don’t want to attempt a complete list, though, just establish a pattern of treating the character as second rate goods. If neglecting Lola Bunny annoyed the fans, her resurrection as her own distant descendent and anime superhero, Lexi Bunny, produced nothing but a queasy feeling deep in the stomach. It was almost an act of contempt for the audience that the studio persisted in revising the show for a second season. To anyone with half a brain, the show was dead before the ﬁrst viewer hit the Return key, posting his complaint to the internet. Perhaps it might have been better, at that point, if Warners had just closed the ﬁle, having done all the damage they could think of to the property. But we would be forgetting that the studio is no mere master at fucking with its fans, it rates the rank of sensei. Lola Bunny has been cast in yet another Frankenstein experiment to breath life in the corpse of the old theatricals – The Looney Tunes Show. I haven’t seen an episode, but did watch a clip with Lola in it on the ofﬁcial Warner Brothers website. It appears that it’s her ﬁrst date with Bugs. If you were expecting the svelte, well–proportioned design from Space Jam, put it out of your mind. The “new” style is rather angular, squat, and she has huge feet. This Lola would look more nearly comfortable in Duckman. Worse, this Lola isn’t the cocky, sure-of-herself, tom-boyish demoness of the court that we loved in the movie. The new character is merely a self-centered, talkative air-head with a mild case of Valley Speak. The clip is not without humour. But the laughs are mainly due to the expression of Bugs and the restaurant waiter as the Lola’s senseless, internal dialog runs on and on without interruption. While by no means entirely unfunny, I had to ask myself whether poking fun at a style of speech might not be over the head of the average ten year old who’s waiting for Lola to spill the hot carrot soup in Bugs’ lap. Why? Why did they do it? They had a perfectly viable character in Lola Bunny already. Any number of stories could have been written about a blonde Viking maiden who is too busy with her backswing, her fast-ball, her slap shot to pay any attention to Bugs’ advances. Instead, we get a totally unnecessary reprise of Shirley the Loon. Does it makes sense to you? Doesn’t to me. Clearly, Warners is jerking us around because they can, and because fucking with the fans is fun.
52 Weeks To Science Fiction Film Literacy: Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Invasion of the Body Snatchers was not written about McCarthyism or the spread of Communism. It was written as a thriller, a piece of fun, a simple science ﬁction story without reference to the goings-on in the world at the time. It was not meant to have any more than what was on the page, what ended up on the screen. This was not an allegory. This was supposed to be what all the critics complained that all science ﬁction was: just a bit of fun. And that’s what made it one of the best pieces of SF Allegory in history. Let’s start from the top. Invasion of the Body Snatchers was based on a novel by Jack Finney. The novel, The Body Snatchers, was good stuff though as I understand it was far from a blockbuster of the time. It was a solid novel, one we read in Lynn WIlliams’ Science Fiction Literature class, and you could see the strings that lead to the eventual feature ﬁlm. It’s a simple story: people are begin replaced by their exact duplicates.Well, not exact, they’re actually emotionless empty shells called Pod People! It’s pretty simple. An introduction to the author might be a good idea here. Jack Finey was something of a hack for a long time. I know that sounds bad, but really, it’s something of a compliment from a certain kind of reader. In fact, In his early career, he was far more direct and hawkish than he would be a decade or so later when he wrote novels like Time And Again. One way you can tell that’s the case is by the fact that Hollywood loved turning his novels into ﬁlms, doing it with The Body Snatchers, Assault on a Queen, 5 Against the House and Time And Again. His stuff was clearly Hollywood material! He lived in Mill Valley, California, and set The Body Snatchers in that very city. He was probably Mill Valley’s most famous resident until Robin WIlliams moved there. There are a lot of parallels you can make to what was going on the very late forties and early 1950s. There is an invasion going on and no one seems to notice anything strange except for a very limited few. This is certainly evident to anyone who lived after the 1950s an allegory to the fact that 1950s creep of Communism... or 50s Eisenhauer conformity. Of course, it’s none of these. It just happened to come out at a time when these things were on people’s minds and they automatically made the connection. It is much the same as my friend who made a movie about an unnamed and somewhat distant disaster. He wrote it in 1996 and started shooting in 1997. The disaster is never overtly named (I happen to know that it was supposed to be a massive explosion that destroyed much of San Francisco) and the family that is not directly effected, but they are deeply moved. He took several years to shoot and edit the project, ﬁnally completing it in August 2001. He started to submit it to ﬁlm festivals. The ones who saw it in late August/early September passed on it, the ones that saw it in late September and onwards took it in, softening noting that it was an effective comment on the post-9/11 feeling of loss shared by a country most of which had no skin in the game. But it had nothing to do with September 11th. It had no tie whatsoever. It had been completed before 9/11 even took place. Sometimes it is merely
the timing of a thing. The sense of loss was still powerful, just like in the Fifties when there was a paranoia. Even though the story wasn’t about the spread of communism/consumerism/conformity, it was about the times in which it was created which was a time of communism/consumerism/conformity. It is not always what is intended, but the times give everything new meaning. If you were to ask me what makes Invasion of the Body Snatchers, I would have to think about it. The script is great, tense and intelligent with an ending that seems to break the fourth wall. “They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next!” Miles screams into the camera. It’s brilliant. The cinematography’s OK, but it’s nothing special. The production values are good, but nothing special. The real power here is in the editing. It’s incredibly well-cut for the time, the work of a master, Robert Elsen.This is his best work (though Confessions of an Opium Eater is a close second) and the way that it ﬂows is almost perfect. Mainly, it’s the timing of the thing. It goes on with a timing that enhances every plot point. Of all the movies that have appeared on this list so far, none have been so perfectly paced, none have had the timing that Invasion of the Body Snatchers exhibits. Editing like this was the hallmark of the 1950s, as television went in another direction with its editing and there was far more artistry in the ﬁlms of the 1950s.The thing that comes to me is that the director, Don Siegel, two-time winner for Best Short (including for directing Hitler Lives? and A Star in the Night, was one of the best montage directors in the world. He did the montage at the beginning of Casablanca. That would indicate a director who understands how to work with an editor. His other ﬁlms, including Dirty Harry, show this understanding. The performances here are some of the best of the 1950s. Maybe it is the fact that all the actors hit their paranoia or denial sense so perfectly that it is almost impossible to ignore the then-current events. They give very modern performances for the time. Kevin McCarthy, who would later go on to do Weird Al’s UHF, was particularly impressive. He really captured the fear and the way his performance interacts with all the others is amazing. In total, it’s the acting that hits me hardest. Well, except maybe for the music. The music was done by Carmen Dragon, best known for directing the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra. He also won an Oscar for the music for Cover Girl. His score is the kind of music that is punctuated with tension while not being the typical Sci-Fi score of the 1950s. At least up until that point. Carmen Dragon was also the father of Daryl Dragon, aka The Captain of Captain & Tennille. There have been several remakes, including a 1978 version that was very good with Donald Sutherland. There are folks who aren’t as thrilled with it, the meanings are all different, partly because of the timing, but it’s good. There’s one that’s coming up in the near future that is supposed to be the perfect failure (the script is pretty retched, actually) and I’m looking forward to seeing it in the same way I’m psyched for the next Spy Kids ﬁlm. The Invasion of the Body Snatchers is probably the most-lauded of all the 1950s ﬁlms. It’s on the National Film Registry, it was one of the 100 Years, 100 Thrills list that AFI put together, as well as one of AFI’s Top Ten Science Fiction ﬁlms. It appears on pretty much every Best Sci-Fi list, as well as pretty high on lists of the great thrillers of all-time. It’s a remarkable ﬁlm that is of it’s time, and that leads to folks thinking that it’s about something that it was never supposed to be about, and that’s ﬁne, so long as they remember that sometimes it’s the viewer who puts the meaning into the mix. Art by Brad W. Foster!
Rejection of the Body Snatchers by Dann Lopez
Dennis shufﬂed into the Kitchen. He could smell, but not see, the fresh coffee that the machine had started up twenty minutes ago. It was one of those automatic coffee brewing machines that started your coffee so that it would be ready for you by the time you hauled your ass out of the rack. He had set it up before he left for the bar last night. He tried to pry his eyes open, but they were jammed shut by the hangover, and the rest of his head wasn’t quite ready to relinquish his hold on sleep. So Dennis fumbled his hands over the kitchen counter, knocking over a saltshaker and a drinking glass before his ﬁngers found the hot plate at the base of the coffee maker. Suddenly, he was wide-awake. The light ﬂooded into his eyes, and pain exploded in his head. It was hard to see for a moment. Then he realized where he was and what he needed. Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, he reached for a mug hanging on the mug rack, and grabbed the largest one, a nice cobalt blue one that an old girlfriend had given him, and at the same time, it was the largest one on the rack. Ten seconds later, he was seated at the kitchen table next to the open window, dressed in his wrinkled blue t-shirt and sweat pants, with the steaming coffee sitting on the place mat before him. He took account of how he felt. Shit. It seemed like the only word that ﬁt. This morning seemed like more of an effort to wake up than any other morning Dennis had ever had the displeasure of living through. Last night, he had consumed the better part of a keg of beer, at least nine shots of Tequila, and choked it down with seven slices of greasy pizza, all this while celebrating his best friend’s birthday at a bar that was eventually raided. He remembered falling into a closet, and waking up in his own bed. Somebody had brought him home and put him there.They even got him into his sweats.‘God, I hope it was a woman.’ Dennis thought. His bones chilled at the thought that one of his drinking buddies might have undressed him. Every bone in his body ached, every muscle creaked, as if sand had been poured into his joints, and it felt as if somebody was trying to conﬁne an explosion behind his eyes. He felt his head. There, near the crown was a lump, big, swollen, and solid, and it hurt like a son of a bitch. It was a leftover from when he had the conversation with the toilet bowl, and it took exception to his comment, and dropped the lid on his head. He remembered that was halfway through the party, and he felt that another shot of tequila would take away the pain. It worked, too, kind of. Great, just great! Thank God this was a Saturday morning. He didn’t have to work. The entity scanned the surface of the planet below. Conﬁned to its shell, it drifted noiselessly over the landscape, and scanned each and every structure and activity below. The entity could only ponder what it was like. It was basically just a thinking cloud of nothing, nothing tangible in this universe anyway. Its mass was composed of a material invisible to the eye, and unnoticeable to the touch. It came
from a universe where the compounds it was comprised of could not exist in the tangible world of man. The same held true for the shell that it traveled in. Unhampered by the physical laws of the universe, the craft went where the entity sent it. On this day, the entity sent it over this little neighborhood outside of the big city. The being was on a quest for knowledge. Unfortunately, the being could only observe and not participate, unless it joined with the body of a native. In order to do that, the native must be absolutely still with little or no brain activity save monitoring of bodily processes and functions. Once the entity entered the native, then all systems were under its primary control. Unfortunately, no one was cooperating. Nobody in the area was sitting still. Below him, people were moving about doing so many assorted Saturday morning activities. There was a softball game at the park, people were riding bicycles, driving to the store, mowing lawns, swimming in backyard pools, and doing house cleaning. Some were trimming hedges, some were painting their houses, still others were arguing with siblings, and others were working on their cars. In order to ﬁnd out what it was like to be a human, the entity would have to ﬁnd someone who was not asleep, but not quite awake, someone who was motionless and not thinking, and someone who would cooperate completely. Ah, found one at last. “Human!” “Hunh? ... Who me?” “Yes. Sit perfectly still. I need you.” “Need me? What for?” “I require your shell. I must use your mind and body for research. It is my oath that it will be painless.” “Yeah, sure. Go Ahead. It’s not doing me much good right now anyway.” Dennis suddenly sat up straight. He looked around for the voice he had just heard in his head, and just spoken to. No, he wasn’t speaking to anybody. But he remembers responding... Seems like it, but he had just been dreaming. Maybe he would feel better after a shower. Yeah... a shower... that... would... be... be... The entity waited for just the right moment. Dennis wasn’t quite asleep, but he wasn’t quite awake either. He sat motionless at the table with the ﬁrst two ﬁngers of his right hand crooked around the handle of the cobalt colored mug, his chin resting on his upright arm, supported by the kitchen table. The entity saw his window of opportunity, and poured his essence into Dennis’ being like water into a glass. Dennis fell asleep. The entity felt as if it were made of stone. No, not stone, something hard, yet soft. Stuffed... yes, stuffed. Everything was dark. There was no light coming in. Was this human blind? No, the eyes were closed. Let’s see, what was that command...? Then as if on cue, the eyes of the human popped open. Light was everywhere! Then, almost immediately, there was pain. It was an awful pain that ﬁlled the human’s head like mud through a crack, a very tiny crack with a hell of a lot of mud. The light wasn’t right. It was blurry and much too bright. The human’s eyes closed. The blinding light was gone, but the pain persisted. The eyes cracked open just a little bit. There was a ﬂat surface stretching a few feet before him. Directly in front of him on the surface was a
blue, ceramic cylinder with a ceramic loop on one side. The loop was wrapped around the ﬁrst two digits at the end of his right side appendage. It was ﬁlled with a black ﬂuid that emitted steam indicating that the contents of the cylinder were hot. The nose was working. The smell of the liquid drifted upwards and the entity’s host seemed to recognize that it was a beverage of some kind. It didn’t realize what kind of beverage as such, or even what a beverage was, but it was deﬁnitely for consumption. Furthermore, it recognized that ingestion of this beverage would make the pain subside. Now, how does this arm work? Muscle patterns... electronic impulses... and concentration. The message was read, but misinterpreted. In one quick motion, the right hand closed the ﬁngers around the handle of the mug, gripped it tight, and then jerked the mug quickly up to its face, stopping abruptly a half an inch away from its mouth. The liquid within however, was not contained and kept coming. It hit the human full in the face, and introduced the entity to an entirely new brand of pain. On impulse alone, the body sat back, the lungs ﬁlled with a huge volume of air and let out an ear-shattering scream. It only lasted for a few seconds before the face went blank.The entity lost control there for a second. It must have been a reﬂex action. How strange this all felt. The pain was unusual, and quite uncomfortable. Was this how man felt every day? Then, the entity turned its attention to operation of the vehicle. The human’s eyes looked down. He saw four appendages. Two were closer to the head and two at the other end of the torso. At the end of each individual appendage were ﬁve smaller individual appendages. He could not help but look at the appendage on the upper right that held the mug in front of his eyes. Let’s try to lower this one ﬁrst. The right arm fell to the tabletop smashing the coffee mug and sending pieces ﬂying in every direction. Slow down. The entity contemplated for a moment. The right arm came slowly up off the table for a moment, and the hand slowly opened wide, the ceramic handle hanging on the ﬁngers. The command was sent, and the ﬁngers wiggled happily. The entity was beginning to think it was getting the hang of it. It turned its attention to the left appendage and gave the same order. It complied, not as smoothly, or as quickly as the other arm, but the entity did not notice, or at this point even care. He was engrossed in the fact that he got the arm working properly at all. Outside the window, little Kathy from next door chased her basketball into the neighbors yard. It bounced against the far fence, and Kathy caught up with it. She turned to go back into her own yard when she stopped and noticed that Dennis was sitting next to the kitchen window. He was holding both hands in front of his face, and wiggling his ﬁngers. His expression was absolutely dead. He showed no concern, but seemed fascinated by the movement of his ﬁngers as they danced happily before his face. Kathy always thought he was a little strange. She hurried out of the yard. Now, the lower appendages... The entity noticed that they were larger, longer, and built differently. The lower appendages bent one way and the upper ones bent in the opposite direction. He remembered that these lower extremities were used for forward locomotion. It was a veritable marvel of engineering. He tried to get the feet to move. Nothing. He tried moving a toe. Again, nothing. The entity pondered this problem. He had studied the other humans moving about from his ship. He had intently studied how they use these limbs to move about. That was when it hit him. The idea was simple. He was sitting. He would have to stand erect for these things to work. Now, how do you stand up? He thought of how they would move to get up. Involuntarily, a signal was sent to the left leg, and it shot out straight, the little toe colliding with the table leg, and snapping at the joint. There was that damnable pain again, only coming from way down at the other end. It shot up his leg and once again, the lungs let out with that horribly loud bellow! There was that reﬂex again. Screaming was most
uncomfortable. It seemed useless, and it hurt the audio senses. Somehow, the sharp pain and the screaming were connected. The entity traced the pain down to the end of the foot, and tried, very gently, to send another signal in that direction. Slowly, the toes began to wiggle.The toe on the far end was in a lot of pain, but it still worked, kind of. All this effort and he still could not stand up. Maybe if he moved the main component, the torso. Very careful thought went into this action. It seemed that it was a question of balance and movement working in unison.There were muscles all up and down the trunk.The entity chose to contract the front muscles, but very slowly. Unfortunately, that the results were not what he wanted. The body lurched forward, bending at the waist, and bashing his face into the tabletop, smashing the nose ﬂat, and causing it to bleed. The order was rescinded, and the human straightened up after the scream. ‘I wish this damned thing came with a set of instructions.’ The entity thought. This was all hit or miss, more missing than hitting, (Still plenty of hitting however) but it was determined that it would make this thing work, even if it killed him. It thought about the process once again, sitting the body perfectly still, and pondering the commands that made the body/vehicle work. That was when the entity noticed a peculiar discomfort. It was coming from inside the lower part of the trunk, near the front. The discomfort was getting worse as seconds drifted by. In studying it, it noticed that all at once the comfort began to subside, accompanied by a great relief, and replaced by a strange warmth that covered his lap, and lower torso, and ran down his legs. It sat perfectly still, turning his entire attention to this strange sensation. The discomfort had gone away as if it had never been there at all. Soon, the warmth subsided as well, slowly replaced by a strange stinging sensation on his lower appendages that began to grow cold.The stinging and cold were not like anything he had ever experienced before, and the entity found it quite uncomfortable. It was equally unpleasant as everything else he had done so far but without the screaming. It seemed to accompany a most unpleasant odor as well. He turned his attention to trying to move again. The command went out involuntarily, and the entity got some rather unexpected actions. Suddenly, the human was on his feet, knocking over the table and kicking back the chair he was sitting in. He then turned and walked almost full speed into the kitchen sink. The counter top met him just below the hip, and the forward motion caused the body to double over. As he bent, his head missed the spigot, but coming back up, it connected violently right on the lump that Dennis had been awarded the previous evening while driving the porcelain bus. His head cocked to the right, turning on the cold water tap, and the sink began to ﬁll with water. The pain in his head and the contact with the tap caused the body to straighten up and scream again. The body began to ﬂail its arms around, causing the body to lose balance and the human hit the ﬂoor face down, and as limp as a rag. More pain. The body had fallen on some sharp pieces of the broken mug, and while it didn’t penetrate the skin, it was uncomfortable nonetheless. It was now stranded on the ﬂoor,
blood running from its face, with a detestable stinging cold, a broken appendage, and what felt like a diamond drill trying to make its way through the back of its skull. The limbs would not cooperate, and the entity inside felt as if it could stay in this body for the rest of time, and never get it off the ﬂoor. The entity was without answers. The body/vehicle must have been defective. He had been observing human interaction and movement for months. All the simple things seemed so easy during orientation but impossible when applying practical application. Three minutes later, the sink began to overﬂow. Cold, icy water cascaded from the countertop and began to ﬂood the ﬂoor.The eyes of the body watched as the puddle crept closer and closer. In a few seconds, the water touched his face and began to run into his nostrils. The entity suddenly realized that the body could not breathe this ﬂuid.The body began to involuntarily cough and sputter. In one involuntary movement, the arms ﬂailed wildly and managed to turn over the body so it was now face up. This did not save the body from being soaking wet, and shivering from the cold. Inside the human’s head, the entity was in complete turmoil. Not unlike the adrenaline rush you would feels when you realize you just escaped serious injury in an automobile that was completely out of control. As the body lay on the ﬂoor, the entity began to take stock of the experience.The decision was made, and the entity seeped out of the human, and back to its shell, which hovered invisibly over the house. It felt as if it couldn’t get out of there soon enough. Once inside the shell, the entity made its report. Subject: Human Male. Appendages would not respond to internal control. It would not function properly, seemed bent on self destruction. It seeped ﬂuids, and was easily damaged. It chose to bathe in incredibly hot beverages for what reasons I cannot possibly imagine. Results and ﬁndings: Should our ﬂeet choose to come to this planet to take control of the humans for our own purposes, we would have absolutely no control over an army of useless automatons that shriek loudly, move involuntarily, and secrete repulsive liquids.They cannot even breathe simple ﬂuids. End Report. The entity told the shell to go home, and it complied. Dennis woke up. He discovered himself laying in a half inch of water on the kitchen ﬂoor in a most frightful condition. He was wet to the bone. The water was coming from an overﬂowing kitchen sink. He tried to get up, but the hangover prevented any quick movement. He reached up top feel his head when he tasted the blood in his mouth. He had broken a tooth when he hit the ﬂoor. Also, his nostrils were bleeding. His nose was sore, and something told him it was broken. He tried to get up but a sharp pain shot up his arm from his hand. He looked at his palm and found a piece of the coffee mug lodged into the ﬂesh below his thumb. Looking around, he noticed the ﬂoor was littered with pieces of his shattered coffee mug, and he was wearing the coffee. ‘This is too fucking weird.’ Dennis thought to himself. For a third time, he tried to get up, but another pain made itself present, this time grating itself up from his left foot. He looked down at it, and saw that his little toe was swollen up like a softball. He had stubbed his toe somehow, and broken it. “Jesus H. Christ, What did I do?” Dennis mumbled. He stumbled to his feet, and reached over to turn off the water in the sink. That was when he noticed he was soaked with urine. “I fucking pissed on myself?” He felt the blood running out of his face, his foot throbbed and the cut on his hand began to sting as did the skin under his urine soaked sweat pants. Saturday morning, and it wasn’t even 10:00 yet. Dennis hobbled himself to the bathroom.Whatever it was he did to himself, he wasn’t entire certain he wanted to know.