Hasslein Blog


Hasslein Blog

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Prose of the Apes: Guiding the Planet on Its Next Titanic Adventures

By Rich Handley

As a writer and editor, I've taken on a lot of gigs during the course of my career that I haven't found particularly engaging. These have ranged from writing articles about bathroom furnishings and school board meetings to editing medical reports for insurance companies to proofreading… wait for it… phone books. (I kid you not. It was my first publishing job, back in the early 1990s. As you can imagine, I'd rather live in the Forbidden Zone—without Nova—than do that again.)

But I've also had a number of assignments that I could really sink my teeth into. Recently, I signed a contract for just such a project.

Those who know me are well aware that I'm a major Planet of the Apes fan going back to the days of The 4:30 Movie in the 1970s, when I discovered the apes on my parents' 13-inch black-and-white TV. I've remained an aficionado ever since, not only of the films and TV shows, but also the comics, novels and other aspects of the franchise.

Well, much to my continued disbelief, Titan Books' Steve Saffel and 20th Century Fox have hired me and fellow author Jim Beard to co-edit a licensed Planet of the Apes short-fiction anthology, due out in early 2017. The book will feature 16 tales based on the classic films and live-action television show, and will be released during the lead-up to the next movie, War for the Planet of the Apes, hitting theaters in July of that year. I don't know which one I'm more excited about—the film or the book.

OK, I can't lie. It's obviously the book. But the film is only about a millimeter behind it at the finish line.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hasslein Books Publishes Messing With Telemarketers


Author Haven Riney's new book, which features actual 
phone calls hilariously turning the tables on intrusive 
nuisances, is now available for purchase.

NEW YORK, Oct. 27, 2015—Let's face it: telemarketers can be annoying. Even telemarketers hate getting telemarketer calls. Whether they're legitimate businesses, pollsters, or unscrupulous scammers, when people repeatedly call at all hours, day and night, it can be maddening. Getting mad does no good, though. Hasslein Books' latest publication, Messing With Telemarketers, shows why it's better to get even.

After a friend pranked Haven Riney by signing him up for tons of college-recruiting forms, he began receiving up to a hundred phone calls daily. He put his number on the Do Not Call List… he told pesky callers to put him on their lists… he yelled, screamed, begged, and pleaded… but nothing worked. Finally, he decided to waste the callers' time instead, screwing with them to see how far he could get. The answer, he discovered, was often "quite far."

Riney's lightning-quick wit, sharp comedic timing, and endless patience culminated in the hilarious collection of transcripts presented here. Every call is real, each funnier than the last. The 364-page Messing With Telemarketers is now available for sale at Amazon and its affiliates, as well as at CreateSpace, and will soon be available at BarnesandNoble.com. Bookstores and other retailers can purchase this title at a wholesale rate from Ingram Book Co., NACSCorp and CreateSpace. Click here for ordering information, and download an excerpt here.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

An Evening With Star Wars Authors

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Beaming In Soon: The Red Shirt Diaries Season 2

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Back to the Future 30th Anniversary Celebration to Be Held in Los Angeles

Hundreds of Back to the Future fans from around the world will descend on Los Angeles, Calif., on October 21 – 25 to experience the once-in-a-lifetime, 30th-anniversary celebration of the Back to the Future trilogy, known as We're Going Back.

WereGoingBack.com and BackToTheFuture.com have teamed up to create the biggest, most immersive celebration of Back to the Future's 30th anniversary. This year, the timeline is filled with celebrities, premieres, exclusive products, photo opportunities, and the world's first completely Back to the Future live auction. Single-day tickets are available for most days, but "complete experience" tickets are available to those who attend the entire five-day adventure.

Were Going Back will kick off on Wednesday, October 21, 2015, by taking fans to where it all began, Universal Studios, in Hollywood. Board a fleet of private trams that will embark on a custom tour of the Universal Studios back lot, with special guests and a unique focus on Back to the Future.

Fans will all be provided with VIP front-of-the-line passes so they can explore all of the Universal Studios theme park rides. Get a special, up-close and personal visit with one of the biggest stars of the trilogy: the DeLorean time machine. Then get the red-carpet treatment and show off your best Back to the Future costumes at Doc Brown's 2015 rhythmic ceremonial ritual, set to a screening of Back to the Future II.

But this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Visit the We're Going Back website for more information!



Thursday, August 27, 2015

From Planet of the Apes to Star Wars: New Anthologies Bookin' Your Way

By Rich Handley

While Hasslein Books prepares to enter production on our next upcoming books (Haven Riney's Messing With Telemarketers and Alan J. Porter's two-volume The James Bond Lexicon: The Unauthorized Guide to the World of 007 in Movies, Novels and Comics), I've been busily working on several other projects for Sequart Organization, following my contributions to last year's essay anthology New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics, edited by my friend (and Hasslein writer-editor) Joseph F. Berenato.

For the Star Trek anthology, I contributed a pair of essays about the long-forgotten L.A. Times Syndicate Star Trek newspaper strips, as well as a wide range of proposed or partially completed Trek comics that never saw the light of day. While working on that anthology, I suggested to Joe that we should co-pitch some additional books, which we did, and to our amazement, Sequart's Julian Darius and Mike Phillips (who are smart enough to recognize great talent when they see it... and yet, they still hired us) said "yes" to all of them. Joe and I are now co-editing a whole slew of titles for Sequart, and it's been a blast to work with Mike and Julian to bring these labors of love to life.

Click on the various covers presented here to view larger versions. (That didn't need to be said, I know, but I assume nothing.)

The first of these collaborations, The Sacred Scrolls: Comics on the Planet of the Apes, is one of two Apes-related books that Joe and I are spearheading. The Sacred Scrolls, released this month to great enthusiasm, examines the entire history of POTA comic books, from Gold Key to BOOM! and everything in between.

The book contains a foreword by popular Apes comic authors Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; an afterword by BOOM! Studios POTA editor Dafna Pleban; essays by Samuel Agro, Jim Beard, Joe Bongiorno, Joseph Dilworth, Dan Greenfield, Ed Gross, Zaki Hasan, John Roche, Lou Tambone, Dayton Ward, Joe Berenato, and yours truly; and a wonderful cover by Patricio Carbajal. This anthology features insightful, analytical essays about the franchise's four-color continuation, from popular comic historians, novelists, bloggers and subject-matter experts. If you're eager to learn more about Apes comics, then you need to get your stinkin' paws on this volume.

A sequel, Bright Eyes, Ape City: Examining the Planet of the Apes Mythos, is currently in the works and will discuss the Apes movies, TV shows, novels, stage show, parodies, music and more. This second volume will feature a foreword by novelist, screenwriter and Star Trek tribble creator David Gerrold; essays by Corinna Bechko, Stephen Bissette, Joseph Dilworth, Matthew J. Elliott, Alex Galer, Robert Greenberger, Ed Gross, Zaki Hasan, Jim Johnson, Neil Moxham, Dafna Pleban, Steven J. Roby, John Roche, Paul Simpson, and Dayton Ward (and, of course, me and Joe); and another beautiful cover by Pat Carbajal.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Hasslein Books Announces Next Publication: Messing With Telemarketers, by Haven Riney

Aug. 12, 2015

Hasslein Books to Publish 
Messing With Telemarketers

Written by Haven Riney, the book will feature hundreds of actual
phone calls hilariously turning the tables on intrusive nuisances,
fighting fire not with fire but with illogic, idiocy and insanity.

NEW YORK, Aug. 12, 2015—Let's face it… it's annoying when telemarketers call your home. Even telemarketers hate getting calls from telemarketers. Whether the callers hail from legitimate businesses, pollsters, or unscrupulous scam artists, one fact is universal: when telemarketers waste your time by repeatedly calling your house at all hours, day and night, it can be maddening. Getting mad does no good, though. Hasslein Books' latest publication, Messing With Telemarketers, shows why it's better to get even.

After a friend played a horrible prank on author Haven Riney—signing him up for every "Go back to school!" college recruiting form they could find—he realized that the best way to deal with pesky callers who wouldn't leave him alone was to waste their time instead. The recruiters sold Riney's information to two companies, and they sold it to two companies, and so on, and so on, and so on...

Riney began receiving between fifty and a hundred phone calls a day. "I put my number on the Do Not Call List. Still got the calls," he recalls. "I told them to put me on their Do Not Call List. Still get the calls. I yelled, I screamed, I begged, I pleaded... all to no avail. Finally, I lost it, and just started screwing with them to see how far I could get."

The answer, he discovered, was often "quite far." Due to a combination of language barriers and indifference on the callers' part, Riney noticed that the calls became increasingly entertaining, leaving friends and family members laughing hysterically as they listened to the exchanges. He posted new entries from time to time on Facebook (facebook.com/messingwithtelemarketers), amassing a tremendous following, then realized that the next step was to collect them all in one place for readers to enjoy. Messing With Telemarketers (tinyurl.com/Hasslein-MWT) is that place.

Riney's lightning-quick wit, sharp comedic timing and seemingly endless patience culminated in a vast, hilariously off-beat collection of transcripts. Every call is real, and each is funnier than the last. Messing With Telemarketers is slated for publication later this year, and will actually make you look forward to your next telemarketing call so you can practice messing with them, too.

Hasslein Publishing (hassleinbooks.com) is an independent New York-based publisher co-founded by Rich Handley and Paul C. Giachetti. The company produces unauthorized genre-based reference books, including Timeline of the Planet of the Apes, Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes, The Back to the Future Lexicon, The Back to the Future Chronology, Who Beyond 50: Celebrating Five Decades of Doctor Who, Lost in Time and Space: An Unofficial Guide to the Uncharted Journeys of Doctor Who and Total Immersion: The Comprehensive Unauthorized Red Dwarf Encyclopedia. Future volumes will cover James Bond, G.I. Joe, Alien vs. Predator, Battlestar Galactica, Ghostbusters, Universal Monsters The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Fringe, Red Sonja and more. "Like" us on Facebook (facebook.com/hassleinbooks), follow us on Twitter (twitter.com/hassleinbooks) and frequent our blog (hassleinbooks.blogspot.com) to stay informed regarding all upcoming projects.

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Longbox Legerdemain: A Conflation of Speculative Genres—Coeurl and the Displacer Beast

By Matthew Sunrich

I enjoy comics, gaming, and speculative fiction, so I couldn't resist the opportunity to write about a situation in which all three came together in an unexpected way.

When Gary Gygax created Dungeons & Dragons, the world's first fantasy roleplaying game, he borrowed from a lot of sources. It has come to light in the last few years, for instance, that famous creatures such as the "owlbear" and "rust monster" were inspired by the contents of a package of rubber dinosaur toys. The game's magic system, in which wizards memorize spells and then forget them after casting, is taken from the Dying Earth novels by Jack Vance. Other aspects of the game are derived from Lord of the Rings, The Once and Future King, and less-specific sources such as the mythologies of the ancient world.

Owing to a variety of factors, Gygax's company, TSR (Tactical Studies Rules), fell into financial ruin in the mid-1990s (it is worth mentioning that Gygax had left due to conflicts with a foolish board of directors in 1985), and the D&D brand was bought up by Wizards of the Coast, the company that had, just a few years earlier, given us the most popular card game in history this side of draw poker: Magic: The Gathering. TSR, due in part to the controversy surrounding the game during the 1980s, had introduced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition in 1989 and had modified the game only slightly prior to the company's demise. Wizards, upon acquiring the property, decided to introduce a new edition of the game and, furthermore, to drop the "Advanced" from the title. (Note that D&D and AD&D were different games, the latter being considerably more complex than the former and skewing toward older players, and both were continuously supported by TSR.) Along with the new version of the game (2000), dubbed 3rd edition, the company also unveiled an initiative designed to foster creativity within the gaming community, the Open Game License.

To make a long story short, the OGL offered the full rulesets of Wizards' games, past and present, to anyone who wanted them for free. The idea was that third-party game designers would create compatible supplements for D&D, et al. By this time, tabletop RPGs were losing a lot of players to their computer-based counterparts (an issue that persists to this day), so Wizards hoped that its initiative would bring players back to pen-and-paper games. (The ultimate result of this was that Paizo's Pathfinder Fantasy Roleplaying Game, which based its rules on the popular 3.5 edition D&D, would outsell the subsequent editions of D&D, leaving Wizards to ruminate on its tactical error and lick its wounds. But that's another story.) The only restriction placed on the OGL was that Wizards would retain exclusive use of certain "product identities," i.e., creatures considered trademarks of the brand.

One of these was the Displacer Beast.

A magical, six-legged puma-like creature with two tentacles protruding from its back, the Displacer Beast was introduced in D&D's 1975 Greyhawk supplement and is one of most famous creatures in the game, having appeared in modules and adventures too numerous to list. Its defining characteristic is the ability to flail the tentacles about, making its exact location hard to pinpoint. (In the game, player-characters wishing to attack it must succeed on an attack roll and then follow that with a roll of 11 or better on a twenty-sided die to make the hit "stick.") In keeping with the "borrowing" theme mentioned earlier, it's based on "Coeurl," a vicious monster in A. E. van Vogt's 1939 story "Black Destroyer," which was subsequently incorporated into the fix-up space-opera novel Voyage of the Space Beagle (later republished as Mission: Interplanetary).

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Longbox Legerdemain: Detective Comics #427

By Matthew Sunrich

"Together we've taught all the vendors of violence a bitter lesson."

Let's take a minute to discuss everyone's favorite topic: automatonophobia.

For those of you unfamiliar with term, it refers to the fear of "anything that falsely represents a sentient being," in the words of whoever wrote the article on Wikipedia. This includes dolls, mannequins, androids/gynoids, statues, puppets, scarecrows, or any other sort of effigy.

It's evidently a very common thing, and we've seen the idea played around with in countless books, films, television programs, and, of course, amusement- and theme-park rides.

When I was a kid, Six Flags over Georgia was a frequent familial diversion, and back then one of the attractions was a walk-through haunted house. All of the monsters were animatronic, and even though my young mind was fully aware of this, they always made me nervous, and I gave them wide berth. Later on, the park opened a ballyhooed "dark ride" called "Monster Plantation" (eventually renamed "Monster Mansion" for obvious reasons), in which you were propelled through the eponymous structure in little boats, and even though the creatures therein were decidedly cartoonish, they still filled me with dread.

Even though I found these sorts of rides frightening, I partook of every one I came across when we visited a fair or a new vacation destination. Though not a ride, one thing that sticks out in my mind was a shooting gallery in an arcade in Pigeon Forge, TN, featuring a seated Frankenstein's Monster that stood up and advanced toward you if you hit the target and a werewolf that would similarly emerge from behind a brick wall. (I have to mention the Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum in nearby Gatlinburg, which was, in many respects, just as unsettling as a haunted house. I say "was" because the entire block on which it was situated caught fire at some point; they rebuilt it, but, having lost all of its irreplaceable artifacts and exhibits, it just wasn't the same.)

By the time R. L. Stine's Goosebumps series came along, I had passed the age of its intended demographic, but I was aware of several titles that involved a killer ventriloquist dummy.

An episode of The X-Files, "Chinga," written by Stephen King, centers around a series of deaths caused by an evil doll.

Who can forget that messed-up scene with the clown doll in Poltergeist? (Of course, it also taps into another increasingly common fear, coulrophobia, i.e., fear of clowns, so you get two scares for the price of one there.)

And then, of course, there's Child's Play (the first one, anyway), which I remember causing quite a stir upon its release.

There's just something undeniably creepy about something that looks or behaves like a person yet isn't one.

The lead story in Detective Comics #427 (1972), "A Small Case of Murder," written by Frank Robbins and illustrated by the resplendent Bronze-Age team of Irv Novick and Dick Giordano, is not recommended reading for automatonophobes, unless they also happen to be masochists.

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Red, White and Blue From Hasslein Books


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Longbox Legerdemain: Who the %$#& Are The Champions?

By Matthew Sunrich

"I guess there must be a fracus [sic] in the wind."

What do Hercules, Black Widow, Iceman, Angel, and Ghost Rider have in common?

If you answered "not much," I'd be inclined to agree with you.

Yet once upon a time they came together as a team and kept things going for an impressive seventeen issues and a handful of guest appearances.

How on earth did this happen, you ask?

Well, it's not something that's easy to pin down, but perhaps we can shed some light on it by examining what was going on with the individual characters at the time.

In 1975, a new crop of mutant superheroes were introduced in the pages of one of the Bronze Age's most groundbreaking books: Giant-Size X-Men #1. These new members, including Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, and Nightcrawler, revitalized the team and famously rescued the title from reprint limbo. One of the unanticipated consequences of this was that three of the original X-Men, viz. Beast, Iceman, and Angel, wound up striking out for greener pastures.

Beast joined the Avengers, while Iceman and Angel decided to give college a go.

Originally a villain, Black Widow changed her ways and became an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and a member of the Avengers during the Silver Age. In Amazing Spider-Man #86 (1970), her appearance was overhauled into the one we recognize today (i.e., red hair and black bodysuit). Next, she split billing with the Inhumans in the first eight issues of Amazing Adventures before taking a spin in the pages of Daredevil.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Revisiting Red Dwarf, Part Six: Shipwrecked and Comatose (Series IX-X)

Guest blogger Joe Bongiorno wraps up his fun-fun-fun-filled look back at the first ten seasons of Red Dwarf. (View part five here.)

* * *

By Joseph Bongiorno

Back to Earth isn't as offensive as many claim; it's just that everything feels off. The 10 year gap, in which Naylor was trying to get a movie done (and we can debate how that derailed our getting seasons 9, 10, and 11 in that time), really took a toll on the actors who are looking long in the tooth. But then there are the continuity issues, which are too wide a gap to bridge. Why is a Rimmer a hologram? Did the resurrected Rimmer die (again) and become one? This can't be Rimmer from seasons 1-7 because that guy went off and became Ace Rimmer. Why did Kochanski leave? What happened at the end of Series 8? 

It's almost like they're on another TV show.

So my biggest problem with Back to Earth is it feels like we lost valuable stories, the actors look aged, and we've been waiting this long and there's no conclusion to what came before. The Blade Runner take-off is fine, and the reveal at the end works well enough (so too the Russian hologram), and I like that in the end, Lister decides to leave the fantasy of living with Kochanski to go and find the real one…

Except that in Series 10, he's doing nothing of the kind, there are still no answers about Series 8 and the characters have all regressed to their season 1 versions.

Which sucks. Y'know, it's funny when a 20-something guy drools curry and beer all over his clothes. It's not funny a 50-year-old does that. It's funny when a 20-something guy acts like a pompous old man. It's not funny when that guy is a pompous old man.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Red Dwarf Fan Club Reviews 'Total Immersion: The Comprehensive Red Dwarf Encyclopedia'

The good folks at the The Official Red Dwarf Fan Club have included a wonderful review of Paul C. Giachetti's Total Immersion: The Comprehensive Unauthorized Red Dwarf Encyclopedia in the latest issue of Back to Reality magazine. Scans of the pages are available below (click on each image to view a larger version). We offer our heartfelt smeggin' thanks for helping us to promote this project.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Revisiting Red Dwarf, Part Five: Goldfish Shoals Nibbling at My Toes (Series VIII)

Guest blogger Joe Bongiorno's review of the first ten seasons of Red Dwarf continues, helping us to celebrate the recent announcement of two more upcoming seasons of the series. (View part four here.)

* * *

By Joseph Bongiorno

Series 8: I'd seen this season back in the day, and forgotten nearly all of it, with the exception of Cassandra (by which I mean the character, not the episode).

There are lots of surprises here, not least of which is the return of Rimmer and the rest of the original Red Dwarf crew. The resurrected Rimmer is great to have back, in large part because the Lister he's dealing with is a different Lister, so the dynamic is similar but different. Putting Rimmer and Lister in jail was a way to give fans more of Seasons 1-2 type stories, but without undermining anything that came before. Lister acknowledges that he's not the same guy from years earlier; he's not the irresponsible, curry-stained slob of the first season. But hysterically, Rimmer pushes him so far to the extreme that he reverts for a moment back to that guy, which makes for a great punchline that is still grounded in character.

This is not the Red Dwarf you were expecting.

Also wonderful in this season is the fact that Naylor puts Rimmer in different situations that force him to grow and develop along a new trajectory in a way that honors Season 1's craven version of Rimmer without carbon copying him, and which brings him closer quicker to the heroic Rimmer of Season 7. Lister's maturity plays a large role in this in that he's more forgiving of Rimmer's idiosyncrasies and willing to take him on as a partner and friend, something that just wasn't possible in the early seasons.

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