Archive for April, 2008

Octocon 2008

15 April, 2008

Harry e-mailed recently to say that he’ll be at the ‘new improved Octocon’ which is being held in the Republic of Ireland in October.

The convention takes place 18th and 19th October 2008, at the Royal Dublin Hotel, which is on O’Connell Street, in the heart of Dublin.

Here’s the link to the official Octocon convention website.

Harry has been a regular guest at the convention in the past – I’ve interviewed him ‘on stage’ there a couple of times, and we launched the Harry Harrison website there – in October 1999, if I remember correctly. My co-conspirator on the HH website is author Michael Carroll, whose most recent work is the excellent New Heroes / Quantum Prophecy series: Mike will also be one of the guests at Octocon 2008. And the convention’s GoH is Ken MacLeod.

Charlton Heston 1923-2008

8 April, 2008

Charlton Heston died on Saturday 5th April, aged 84. Early in his career he appeared in a number of Hollywood ‘epics,’ playing Moses in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, and appearing in Ben-Hur, with its famous chariot race, and El Cid. A standard Heston comment in interviews was: ‘I have played three presidents, three saints and two geniuses: if that doesn’t create an ego problem, nothing does.’

Heston was certainly a complex individual, as he was a supporter of Martin Luther King, the Screen Actors Guild, Ronald Reagan and the National Rifle Association during his lifetime.

In the late 1960s and 1970s he appeared in a number of science fiction films. Best known of these is probably The Planet of the Apes. He also starred in The Omega Man, based on Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend, which was recently filmed with Will Smith in the starring role. Heston also appeared in the original Airport disaster movie. He made a cameo appearance, in ape make-up, in Tim Burton’s remake of Planet of the Apes, looking strangely reminiscent of Edward G. Robinson – his Soylent Green co-star – in early make-up tests for the original version.

In a 1985 interview on British television, Jill Cochrane asked Heston if he feared the concept of a future as depicted in Planet of the Apes – because, obviously, it could happen! – to which he replied:

‘Ah… no, that of course was just a fantasy. A far more likley concept is in Soylent Green, which I also made. I think the population problem is the greatest problem the world faces. If we do not solve population, never mind any of the rest – never mind civil rights, never mind nuclear power, never mind the environment – it’s all finished. And of course that’s what Soylent Green was about. I’m very glad I made that and very glad it was a success … it made a statement: it’s very hard to make a statement on something you believe in, especially in a film which has to please or it doesn’t speak.’

Heston’s published journals show that he was very keen to make the movie after he had read Harry Harrison’s novel Make Room! Make Room!, though they don’t, unfortunately, give much insight into why the various changes to the story were made – though perhaps his comment about needing to entertain in order to be able to make a statement accounts for the introduction of the cannibalism element in the adaptation.



Match it for Pratchett

2 April, 2008

I guess that everyone knows by now that author Terry Pratchett has been diagnosed as having a rare form of Altzheimer’s disease, and it was widely reported in recent weeks that he has donated a million dollars for Altzheimer’s research. Less widely reported, I think, was Pratchett’s quote, ‘Personally, I’d eat the arse out of a dead mole if it offered a fighting chance.’

Arising from a suggestion by Pat Cadigan, fans have begun a ‘Match it for Pratchett’ campaign, with the idea that half a million fans donating a £1 could equal Prachett’s donation to research. I’m happy to support that idea, with both a mention here and – of course – a small donation of my own. Donations are being accepted by PayPal, so it’s quick and easy.

Full details of Match it for Prachett can be found here.

Thanks to Dave Langford’s Ansible, where I first heard about this campaign, and from where I stole the Pratchett quote…

Terry Pratchett is quoted as saying that Harry Harrison’s Bill, the Galactic Hero is ‘The funniest science fiction novel ever written,’ and is therefore a man whose judgement cannot be faulted! 🙂

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