Classics of SF at Loscon 46

By John Hertz:  We’ll take up two Classics of Science Fiction at Loscon XLVI, one discussion each.  Come to either or both.  You’ll be welcome to join in.

Our working definition is “A classic is a work that survives its own time.  After the currents which might have sustained it have changed, it remains, and is seen to be worthwhile for itself.”  If you have a better definition, bring it.

Each of our two is famous in a different way.  Each may be more interesting now than when first published.  Have you read them?  Have you re-read them?

Isaac Asimov, Second Foundation (1953)

Thousands of years in the future humanity has merged into a galactic empire.  One man, Hari Seldon, foresees its collapse.  He establishes a Foundation to preserve knowledge and advance technology so the dark age afterward will be shorter. He hints at a Second Foundation behind.

The almost-secret Seldon Plan succeeds for centuries.  Another man, a powerful mutant known only as the Mule, gains interstellar power and grows impatient.  To re-unite the worlds himself he searches for the Second Foundation.  He can read and control emotion. Who could hide from him?

The Mule has a human lifespan and no heir.  The Foundation itself then becomes distrustful.  The Second Foundation, if it exists, begins to seem dangerous, and anyway needless.  The Foundation’s superior science should be able to find and eliminate it.  A fourteen-year-old girl proves to be the heart of the story.

C.S. Lewis, Perelandra (1943)

We get few authors like this one, who took a triple first (highest honors in three subjects) at Oxford, taught there three decades, then accepted a chair at Cambridge and taught there another decade until his death.  He was a friend of Tolkien’s.

He opens the novel as the narrator.  The first thing he does is leave a railway station and start a three-mile walk: we’re in another world.  It’s 1940s England; so there are blackout curtains, and language (and thought) not quite like the 1940s in the United States.  Far stranger things lie ahead.

The protagonist, a man named Ransom, goes to Venus, given as a world possible at the time of writing, and described poetically.  Indeed this is a highly poetic book.  His journey is not only of sight and sound, but of mind.  He lands in a world-shaking argument.  His opponent is extraordinary.  Watch the author’s characterization.

The argument becomes a fight.  Its climax leads to another – which leads to another.  There is a passage which has been called hymnlike.  Nor is that the end.

Is the moment near the end of the last chapter – only seven hundred words – comparable to Olaf Stapledon’s Star Maker (1937)?

A Netherlander has posted a glossary of allusions and quotations here.

2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award Candidates

Eric Carle, Frances Hardinge, Shirley Hughes, Margo Lanagan, and Patrick Ness are among the 237 candidates from 68 countries nominated to the 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. The candidates were presented by the jury at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 17. (Click to download a pdf version of the nomination list.)

The 237 nominees include 49 new names. The candidates represent all continents and are authors, illustrators, reading promoters and storytellers. 46 % are women, 41 % men and 13 % are organisations. More than a hundred nominating bodies worldwide have proposed candidates for the 2020 award.

Worth 5 million Swedish kronor, the world’s largest cash prize for children’s literature is given to authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and reading promoters for work “of the highest artistic quality” featuring the “humanistic values” of the late Pippi Longstocking author, for whom the award is named. Lindgren died in 2002 at the age of 94.

The 2020 ALMA laureate will be announced on March 31, 2020.

The full list follows the jump. Links lead to more information, often in the candidate’s own language. (Apologies for the appearance of “?” where WordPress won’t reproduce the appropriate character.)

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 10/17/19 Gosh, It’s Hard Enough To Get A Plumber Quickly On Earth, Imagine How Hard It Must Be In Orbit

(1) SFF FIGURES PART OF TAROT ART EXHIBIT. The KEEP Contemporary in Santa Fe, NM is hosting “Readings”, a group exhibition of four artists “whose work has been inspired by the guiding wisdom, karmic narrative and spiritual symbolism of Tarot cards.”

Featured artists include guest curator and illustrator Elizabeth Leggett along with other notable illustrators and painters including Lee Moyer, Sienna Luna and Reiko Murakami Rice. Exhibiting artists blend themes from Tarot with ideas from short stories, speculative fiction and fantasy writing in their own unique interpretation of the show’s theme.

John Scalzi purchased the card art about him:

(2) SFWA OFFICER TURNOVER. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has chosen James Beamon to take the place of a departing Director-at-Large. President Mary Robinette Kowal shared the news in “A Change in the Director-at-Large at SFWA”.

On October 2, Andy Duncan officially announced his resignation as Director-at-Large. He had told me some weeks earlier, but I asked him to stay on while we deliberated on a new officer. Andy has been invaluable to the board of SFWA. He has been a voice of reason and a well-spring of knowledge about the field of SFF.

I recruited him when I was on the elections committee and am very sorry to see him go. At the same time, I am deeply respectful of the need to take a break. I’m just grateful that he’s still willing to let me ask him questions.

Fortunately, SFWA had a robust field of people interested in running for office. The board unanimously voted to add James Beamon, who was one of the runners-up, to the board. James has agreed to serve the remainder of Andy’s term. James is both an indie novel author and writes short stories that have appeared in places such as Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine, Apex, and Lightspeed.

(3) LIBRARY STRIKES BACK. Publishers Weekly reports a “Major Public Library System Will Boycott Macmillan E-books”. The King County (WA) Library System, which is the nation’s top digital-circulating library, will stop buying new release Macmillan e-books once the publishers’ two-month embargo begins next month.

…In her note, [Librarian] Rosenblum acknowledged differing opinions among public library staff around the country on whether to boycott Macmillan e-books, and said King County’s decision was ultimately driven by two reasons: one “pragmatic” and the other “principled.”

As for the pragmatic side, Rosenblum explained that King County has pledged to readers to limit the wait time for any title to around 3 months. “Not allowing us to purchase multiple copies of an e-book for two months artificially lengthens the queue, triggering more of the same title to be purchased than would have occurred if we had been allowed to buy for the first two months,” she explains. “With an ever-increasing demand to buy a wide variety of digital titles, we do not think this is the best use of public funds.”

Rosenblum says the library will continue to buy print copies of Macmillan new releases (something Macmillan CEO John Sargent suggested libraries do in his memo announcing the new embargo policy) as well as new audiobooks (which are not embargoed), and perhaps even additional copies of e-books the library already owns, as needed. “My mantra has been if it is not embargoed, buy it,” Rosenblum said, when asked for comment by PW. “Our focus is not to punish Macmillan [when the publisher] provides us with timely access to [digital] materials,” she explained, “it is to address their embargo of new digital materials.”

The “principled” argument, Rosenblum says, is to send a message to other publishers that public libraries cannot accept limits on basic access. To do so, she writes, would “profoundly” change the public library….

(4) FUNNY HORROR NOVEL NEWS. Dark Moon Digest editor Max Booth III, in “Supernatural Crime Fiction—Is It Allowed To Be Funny?” on CrimeReads, lists ten funny horror novels and collections he likes, including works by Joe Lansdale (and his daughter), Elmore Leonard, and Sarah Gailey.

Sarah Gailey, Magic for Liars (2019)

Much to the disappointment of every other person with a Twitter account besides myself, I’ve never been a fan of the Harry Potter series. Any story utilizing the “chosen one” trope quickly puts me to sleep. There are better ways to plot a novel than relying on boring ol’ destiny. But, with that said, I’ve always been fascinated with the world-building in those books, and wondered how it would play out in more…realistic settings. Surely a high school for wizards would be occupied by a much larger majority of dickheads. The kinda dipshits who would use graffiti magic to permanently etch phrases like “SAMANTHA IS A SLUT” across lockers. But also: how would this world look under a noir lens? Something that sort of mashes together Harry Potter and Rian Johnson’s Brick? Thankfully, Sarah Gailey was kind enough to answer these questions of mine with her wonderful debut novel, Magic for Liars. Close your eyes and picture Chuck Palahiuk’s Philip Marlowe taking on a murder case inside Hogwarts. If you aren’t already trembling with excitement, you might be a lost cause.

(5) FOURTH AND FINAL. The Man In The High Castle returns for Season 4 on 11/15.

The final season of The Man in the High Castle will be rocked by war and revolution. The Resistance becomes a full-blown rebellion, driven by Juliana Crain’s (Alexa Davalos) visions of a better world. A new Black insurgent movement emerges to fight the forces of Nazism and imperialism. As empires teeter, Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido (Joel De La Fuente) will find himself torn between his duty to his country and the bonds of family. Meanwhile, Reichsmarschall John Smith (Rufus Sewell) will be drawn towards the portal the Nazis have built to another universe, and the tantalizing possibility of stepping through a gateway to the path not taken.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 17, 1937 — Huey, Dewey, and Louie first appeared in a comic strip.
  • October 17, 1937 The Shadow radio program aired “Murder By The Dead.” Orson Welles starred as Lamont Cranston and of course The Shadow. Welles stayed with the show for just a year. Agnes Moorehead was also in the cast as Margo Lane. You can hear it here.
  • October 17, 1987 — The Ferengi were “born” on this date when Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s “The Last Outpost” aired in syndication. This was Shimerman’s first appearance as a Ferengi though he had appeared on the series previously. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 17, 1886 Spring Byington. I like reaching back into the early years of cinema. Her appearance in Werewolf of London as Miss Ettie Coombes in 1935 is of that era. She would also appear in Batman as J. Pauline Spaghetti in “The Catwoman Goeth“ and “The Sandman Cometh” episodes. (Died 1971.)
  • Born October 17, 1913 Robert Lowery. Batman in 1959’s Batman and Robin. You can see the first part here. And he popped up in an episode of the Adventures of Superman. (Died 1971.)
  • Born October 17, 1914 Jerry Siegel. His most famous creation was Superman, which he created in collaboration with his friend Joe Shuster. He was inducted (along with the previously deceased Shuster) into the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1993. (Died 1996.)
  • Born October 17, 1921 Tom Poston. One of his acting first roles was The Alkarian (uncredited at the time ) in “The Mystery of Alkar” episode of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet in 1950. He much later had the recurring role of Mr. Bickley in Mork & Mindy. (Died 2007.)
  • Born October 17, 1926 Julie Adams. Her most famous role no doubt is being in the arms of The Creature from Black Lagoon. She also been on Alfred Hitchcock Presents three times, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. The Night GalleryKolchak: The Night Stalker, The Incredible Hulk and Lost all once. (Died 2019.)
  • Born October 17, 1934 Alan Garner, 85. His best book? That’d be Boneland whichtechnically is the sequel to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath but really isn’t. Oh, and The Owl Service is amazing!
  • Born October 17, 1946 Bruce McAllister, 73. He’s a superb short story writer as you can see in The Girl Who Loved Animals and Other Stories that Golden Gryphon published originally and which Cemetery Dance has now in an ePub edition along with his two novels.  His Dream Baby novel is an interesting if brutal take on the Vietnam War. 
  • Born October 17, 1948 Margot Kidder. Lois Lane in the Superman film franchise that starred Christopher Reeve. Her first genre role however was Marcia Curtis in The Reincarnation of Peter Proud. I think her take as Kathy Lutz in The Amityville Horror is a much meatier acting role than her Superman role is. Speaking of horror, she’ll show up in Halloween II  as Barbara Collier. She did some of the usual genre one-offs in TV (Tales from the CryptThe Hunger and The Outer Limits to name but three) but her major role was voicing Rebecca Madison, the villain, in the animated Phantom 2040 series. (Died 2018.)
  • Born October 17, 1948 Robert Jordan. He is best known for the Wheel of Time series, which comprises fifteen books including a prequel novel. I must confess that so far I’ve resisted the urge to read this series, so put forth an argument as to why I should do so, please. It’s certainly considered a major work of fantasy. (Died 2007.)
  • Born October 17, 1949 Barclay Shaw,70. He has been nominated five times for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist. He has painted more than 500 book and magazine covers, and his work includes more than 20 cover paintings for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The artist credits Ellison for giving him his start in the business when he invited him to paint cover illustrations for 16 paperback editions of his books
  • Born October 17, 1968 Mark Gatiss, 51. English actor, screenwriter, director, producer and novelist. Writer for Doctor Who; with Steven Moffat, whom Gatiss worked with on Doctor Who and Jekyll, he also co-created and co-produced Sherlock. As an actor, I’ll noted he does Vogon voices in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and is Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock.

(8) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman hopes listeners are ready to head to Dublin for brunch with Maura McHugh in Episode 107 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Maura McHugh and I first met during the 2007 Yokohama Worldcon, where I was introduced to her by former guest of the podcast Ellen Datlow as one of the students she’d met at Clarion West, which Maura had attended after receiving the Gordon R. Dickson Scholarship. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Jabberwocky, Doorways, Paradox, Goblin Fruit, and other magazines. She also writes comics, the most recent of which was The Dead Run, a five-issue Judge Anderson: PSI Division story for Judge Dredd Megazine. In 2015, she won Best Irish Writer of comic books in The Arcade Awards. She also published a book on Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me through the Midnight Movie Monograph series from Electric Dreamhouse Press and PS Publishing. Her most recent short story collection The Boughs Withered (When I Told Them My Dreams) launched at the Dublin Worldcon.

Maura and I discussed how the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop sometimes makes people realize they shouldn’t be writers (and why that can sometimes be a good thing), how having lived in both Ireland and the U.S. affected her life and her writing, whether her attraction to dark fiction was ever a choice, what it was like getting to create comics in the Judge Dredd universe, how she decides whether ideas that pop into her head get transformed into comics or prose, her recent art project inspired by the works of Simone de Beauvoir, why she doesn’t speak much about works in progress on social media, what she learned pulling together the selections for her first short story collection, why Twin Peaks fascinated her so much she wrote a book about the show — and much more.

(9) AN UNXPECTED PARTY. The New York Times observes, “Peter Jackson Has a Lot of Power in New Zealand. Some Say Too Much.”

Peter Jackson, the film director behind the “Lord of the Rings” series, is a towering figure in his native New Zealand, admired as both a down-to-earth titan of the box office and a one-man income generator for the country’s moviemaking and tourism industries.

But Mr. Jackson now finds himself at the center of a debate over how he has exerted that influence. This week, he helped catapult to victory a mayoral candidate who shared his opposition to a proposed development project near his studios, an unheard-of local political intervention in a country where money, fame and power are most often wielded lightly.

Mr. Jackson had been embroiled for months in a fight with Justin Lester, the first-term mayor of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, over plans to build houses on a rugged peninsula in the city’s harbor. His opponent, Andy Foster, who had polled only in the single digits in previous mayor’s races, beat Mr. Lester by 503 votes on Saturday after receiving Mr. Jackson’s political and financial backing.

(10) NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME. “Google and BBC scrap VR projects”.

The BBC has disbanded the team it created to make virtual reality (VR) content, saying its funding has ended.

It comes as Google halts sales of its Daydream View headsets, admitting it does not see a future for smartphone-based VR.

There have been questions over the long-term future for the technology which has failed to become a mass market product.

One analyst said it could be several years before VR lived up to its hype….

…According to research firm IHS Markit, there will be 51 million consumer headsets in use around the world by 2023.

“Compared to mobile devices, this represents a niche audience so it is understandable the BBC is reconsidering its VR content strategy,” said analyst Piers Harding-Rolls.

(11) HALLOWEEN LIGHTS. Los Angeles’ Museum of Neon Art’s periodic Neon Cruise event on October 26 will be dubbed the Haunted by Neon Cruise.

Crawl aboard our double-decker “hearse” for a haunted ride as we explore the darker side of LA history…

Costumes are encouraged, so dress in your Halloween finest for a wickedly good time!

That will be in addition to the usual features —

Saturday Nights! JOIN US for a nighttime bus tour of neon signs, movie marquees and permanent installations of contemporary neon art through Downtown and Hollywood.

Developed by MONA beginning in 1985, this narrated tour points out neon’s aesthetic dimensions, placing them firmly within the context of 20th century Los Angeles cultural history. From the classic movie marquees of downtown Los Angeles’ theater district to the glittering lights of Hollywood and the glowing pagodas of Chinatown, you will see outstanding examples of contemporary neon art as well as innovative electrical advertising on this award-winning tour.

Jump on board the top deck of a convertible British bus and let your knowledgeable guide delight you with history and anecdotes about the urban electric jungle of L.A. Now in its 17th consecutive year, the Neon Cruise begins in the Historic Corridor of Downtown.

(12) A MILESTONE EVENT. NPR says “NASA’s First All-Female Spacewalk Set For Friday”.

The first all-female spacewalk in NASA’s 61-year history is finally happening and will even take place a few days ahead of schedule.

Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, who were initially supposed to venture beyond the International Space Station on Oct. 21, are now slated to make their historic excursion this Friday. NASA announced the scheduling and other changes this week in light of issues with the space station’s battery charge-discharge unit, which Koch and Meir will replace. The International Space Station’s Twitter account tweeted Tuesday evening that the spacewalk will take place “no earlier than Friday,” updating NASA’s earlier announcement that it would happen either Thursday or Friday morning.

“We do anticipate that will stick,” NASA spokesperson Stephanie Schierholz told NPR in an email.

Friday’s spacewalk is set to begin at 7:50 a.m. EDT and last about 5 1/2 hours, according to NASA. The two astronauts will replace the faulty power regulator, which has been in operation since 2000 and failed to activate after new lithium-ion batteries were installed on the space station last week. NASA said the unit failure did not pose risks to any of the station’s operations, crew members, laboratory experiments or overall power supply. Still, the faulty unit prevents the new lithium-ion batteries from providing additional power to the station.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. in “Bless You!” on Vimeo, Paulina Ziolkowska explains the consequences of sneezing.

[Thanks to JJ, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Scott Edelman, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]

Two’s Crowds at the KGB Bar

By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Wednesday, October 16th, as a nor’easter raged outside, the monthly Fantastic Fiction Readings Series hosted authors Barbara Krasnoff and Nicole Kornher-Stace at its longtime venue, the most sincerely Red Room of the second-floor (or third – there’s a major schism – but, either way, it’s a steep climb up stairs) KGB Bar in Manhattan’s East Village. (The Room seemed darker than usual.)

The event opened with Series co-host Matthew Kressel welcoming the crowd (who’d come out in the storm) and the standard exhortation to thank the Bar by buying drinks, hard or soft (readings are always free, and our patronage keeps it so) (somewhat smaller, likely due to the holidays) and reported on upcoming readings. The next months’ readers are:

November 20
David Mack
Glassner

December 18
Paul Tremblay
Nathan Ballingrud

January 15, 2020
Cassandra Khaw
Richard Kadrey

February 19
James Patrick Kelly
P. Djeli Clark

(Details are available at here.)  All dates are the third Wednesday of the month.

He concluded by introducing the first reader of the evening. Nicole Kornher-Stace is the author of the Norton Award finalist Archivist Wasp and its sequel, Latchkey. Her next novel, Firebreak, is due out from Saga in 2020, and it was from it that she read. Firebreak, she relayed, has been described as “if Saga Press and Black Mirror had a baby.” Set in the future, in an oppressive company town – notably, they’ve locked up the water supply – Mallory Parker leads a protest (the revolution is being broadcast online), and security, behind disruptor shields, is brutally disbanding the crowd. (Though, of course, not intended, it was hard not to think of what’s happening in Hong Kong.) When there is a rainfall, protestors grab red plastic cups to catch it, deemed illegally “poaching water.” Her offering was well-received, though Kornher-Stace did read a bit too fast.

After an intermission, the Series’ senior co-host, Ellen Datlow, introduced the evening’s second reader. Barbara Krasnoff is the author of over 35 short stories, including “Sabbath Wine,” which was a finalist for the Nebula Award, and recently published a mosaic novel (connected stories) titled The History of Soul 2065, a generational saga of two Jewish girls’ descendants, spanning from the eve of World War I to the second half of the 21st century, including “Sabbath Wine.” (She’s also responsible for a series of wryly captioned photos delving into the inner situations of street objects and urban wildlife that can be found under the hashtag #TheirBackstories.)

Her reading was of a story from The History of Soul 2065, “Stoop Ladies.” Set in 1983, in Brooklyn (of course), Julie Jacobson (not strictly speaking on either girl’s family tree), newly laid off from her office job (a PR representative) after 17 years, sighs and decides to join the crowd (a very different one from Firebreak) of mostly elderly women who congregate evenings in the yard outside her brownstone to schmooze and gossip, and with whom she occasionally sits. (My mother called the bunch who set up beach chairs outside our apartment house “Rogues Gallery,” with people passing by on the sidewalk or entering the building running the gauntlet of their scrutiny, though we dubbed them “Yenta Center.” Julie’s neighbors are more ethnically diverse.) Sharing her woes, she finds Chablis and sympathy, and perhaps a little magic. The story was quirky – like the ladies – and enchanting.

Prior to the reading, as usual, Datlow whirled through the audience, taking photos. (It looks like she’s also using a cameraphone these days.) Her photos of the event may be seen on her Flickr page.

World Fantasy Convention 2019 Program Schedule Now Online

World Fantasy Convention 2019 has released its program online at https://wfc2019.org/schedule/.

World Fantasy Con 2019 will be held in LA at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport Hotel from Thursday, October 31 through Sunday, November 3.

WFC 2019’s guests of honor are author Margo Lanagan, editor Beth Meacham, artist and illustrator Reiko Murakami, author Sheree Renée Thomas, and author Tad Williams, with Robert Silverberg as Toastmaster.

The convention’s function spaces will be open these hours:

  • Convention Registration: Wednesday 4:00pm-8:00pm; Thursday/Friday/Saturday 9:00am-8:00pm; Sunday 9:00am-1:00pm.
  • Dealers Room: Thursday 12:00pm-6:00pm; Friday/Saturday 9:00am-6:00pm; Sunday 9:00am-2:00pm.
  • Art Show: Thursday 3:00pm-6:00pm; Friday/Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm.  Also open Sunday 10:00am-1:00pm for sales and pick-ups.  See the Art Show page for artist check-in and check-out.
  • Hospitality Suite (16th Floor): Thursday 12:00pm-11:00pm; Friday/Saturday/Sunday 8:30am-11:00pm; Sunday 8:30am-2:00pm.

[Thanks to Michael Toman for the story.]

Trigger Snowflake and the Secret Guild

By Ingvar:  Timo Tay sat at the short end of the meeting table, looking down at the two lines of Guild members seated before him. He lifted his small wooden mallet.

“As chairbeing. I declare the fourth annual general meeting of the Guild of Copycats and Plagiarists open.”

The mallet thudded onto the small protective butt, rather than the table.

“First item is the financial report for the previous year. Could Miss Cristina Blatante please read the economic report?”

Cristina stood up and cleared her throat. “The Guild received 81,000 Solar Credits in membership dues. The Guild spent 147 Solar Credits for buying off one complainant. The Guild member whose unsubtlety caused the ruckus has been fined 500 Solar Credits. We further spent 40,000 Solar Credits on legal insurance. In total, last year saw a gain in the funds of 41,353 Solar Credits. The Guild has no outstanding debt to service. This concludes the economic report.”

“Thank you, Miss Blatante. Anyone opposed to adding the economic report to the Guild’s archives? Hearing none, the economic report is filed. Next, we need to elect Guild heads for the coming year. The proposal is that Timo Tay is elected as Guild Master; Cristina Blatante is elected as Mistress of Treasure; and, a change, Slem ven Pocketry is elected as Voice to the World, replacing the esteemed Anna min Scortch, who has decided to step down for personal reasons. Anyone opposed to this proposal in bulk?”

A voice rang out from the far end of the table. “Yes!”.

“Having heard an objection to electing in bulk, I will proceed position by position. Anyone opposed to Timo Tay staying on s Guild Master? Hearing no objection, I find myself elected Guild Master. Anyone opposed to Cristina Blatante as Mistress of Treasure? Hearing none, I find Miss blatant re-elected as Mistress of Treasure. Anyone opposed to Slem ven Pocketry being elected as Voice to the World?”

“Yes!” rang out from a single voice.

“Anyone in agreement with electing Slem ven Pocketry as Voice to the World?”

“YES!” rang out from most of the assembly.

“Finding that the voices in agreement vastly outnumber the voices in opposition, I find Slem ven Pocketry elected as Voice to the World.”

“Next, we have a motion to amend the rules of acceptable standards for Guild members. Mr ven Fengsler, if you would be so kind?”

John ven Fengsler stood up and cleared his throat.

“Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking, I find it still necessary to proceed in front of this august assembly. I have put forward a motion to amend the rules of acceptable behaviour of Guild members. Having perused the Guild archives, I have found that many of our esteemed members have, in the last five years, neither plagiarized nor copied. As the Guild rules stand, this is not required. But my motion purports to make it mandatory to commit at least one plagiarism every three years, for continued membership. With a sunset clause, requiring any member who does have more than three years since the last plagiarism to commit one in the next 18 months, or risk expulsion after investigation by the board. The full text has been duly added to the agenda, and everyone should have a copy. As a side note, the motion is a slightly edited copy from the Performing Works section of the constitution of the Sulphurian Society, so technically counts as a plagiarism.”

“We have heard Member ven Fengsler present his motion, and will now proceed to debate. Debate will start with those opposed, alternating between supporting and opposing, until such a time as we have exhausted one side. Who is first? Ah, proceed, Voice ven Pocketry.”

“I am, as is Member ven Fengsler, part of the Sulphurian movement. I was one of the people arguing for our movement having a similar rule, but I oppose it here. For one simple reason. Sulphuric poetry, song and art is tolerant of mistakes. But, in plagiarism, there can be no margin for error. If you plagiarize unwisely, we would attract the notice of the authorities. And as we heard, even without this policy, in the last year our Guild have spent over 40,000 Solar Credits either to preemptively protect us, or as a direct result of someone having been caught. And for that reason, I am opposed.”

“Very well. Anyone speaking for? Member ven Fengsler has the floor.”

“We are a Guild of plagiarists, for a guild of plagiarists. It is imperative that our members actually practice the trade we propose to regulate and foster. And in plagiarism, as in many things in the world, skills decline if left unused. I have not looked deeply into our member that was caught, but I would not be surprised if the time since last registered plagiarism before unfortunate most recent is more than four years. My research shows that plagiarism skill declines slowly over a period of 20-26 months, then with an accelerated decay from there to 34-40 months, at which point it normally drops below the level we would accept from a competent Guild member. It is for this reason I urge the Meeting to pass this motion and add it to the Laws of our Guild.”

“We are now looking for someone in opposition? No one? That means the floor is open for either opposing or supporting. Ah, Member min Scortch wishes to speak.”

“Beloved Guild members. Member ven Fengsler consulted with me before putting this motion to the Meeting. At that point, I was in favor. But, I must say that Memb, ahem, Voice ven Pocketry have convinced me that this is a cure that is worse than the disease. For that reason, I urge the Meeting to oppose this motion.”

“Well spoken, and clearly against. We are now looking for a speech supporting. No one? Anyone wanting to argue against? Finding none, I will now take votes. Anyone opposed? I see a raised hand. Member Bobbingsley, what is the matter?”

“I call for this Meeting to vote via secret ballot. It is far too divisive a question for open voting.”

“Secret ballot has been called for. Every member should have been given two stones, one white and one teal. In an orderly queue, please walk to the voting table, then deposit your vote into the urn marked ‘Vote’ and your other stone in the urn marked ‘Discard’. If you would like the motion to pass, please deposit a white stone as your vote and if opposed, the teal one.”

The meeting dissolved into a chaos of people moving about, slowly forming into something that looked like a pale imitation of an orderly queue. When people eventually returned to their seats, Chair Tey picked the urn marked “Vote” and spilled it onto the table in from of him.

“I have not yet done a count, but from the look of the pile of voting stones in front of me, I would say that the Ayes have it. I will now proceed to do an accurate count.” A few minutes later, the stones had been separated into one white and one teal pile, the white pile towering over the teal. “Having counted the votes, the Ayes have 48 votes, the Nays have 17. The Ayes carry the vote, and we now have a rule requiring committing at least one plagiarism every three years. As of this moment, all members with more than three years are on an eighteen-month grace period.”

This is the point where we leave the remainder of the annual general meeting of the Guild of Copycats and Plagiarists to wend its own way.

#

Trigger was sitting at the kitchen table, his morning bowl of cereal and syntxemilk in front of him, spoon in hand, chewing the first mouthful of cereal, when he decided something was definitely not as it should be. He wasn’t quite sure what was wrong, but something was. This, this was not normal.

“Beloved Coraline, did we get the right cereal?”, he asked.

“Dearest Trigger, it should be Nutty Neptune Nuggets, as usual”, his wife replied.

“Hmm. Something’s not right, then.”

Trigger stood up and walked to the dry-goods cupboard, opened the doors and looked. He could see the cereal box, and it looked as it should. Wait. No, something was off.

He looked carefully at the package again.

“Beloved Coraline, it seems we have purchased a box of Nütty Neptüne Nüggets?”

Coraline darted out from the bedroom, hair still in disarray from the night. She stopped beside Trigger and looked at the cereal box.

“Why, indeed. This is not Nutty Nuggets, at all. Whyever did this happen? Let me telephone the General Store right now!”

After having dressed, Trigger walked downstairs, to his office.

“Dearest Trigger”, Coraline said, “I have spoken to the store manager and he is as surprised as we are.”

“What I shall do, beloved Coraline, is to walk over and talk to him in person. We know this is not right, and it needs to be investigated.”

Trigger walked through the front doors of Fort Corallium General Store.

“Abner? It’s Trigger. What’s up with the cereal delivery?”

“Well, Sheriff, I have looked at the shipping manifest and we should have received a pallet of Nutty Neptune Nuggets, half a pallet of Sugary Snowflakes, and half a pallet of Maize Crispies. But, looking carefully at the contents, it seems that a full third of the Nutty Nuggets are these… Nütty Nüggets, And all of the Sugary Snowflakes are, instead, some sort of impostor Snowy Sugarflakes, that I have never seen. Most of the Maize Crispies are right, but one out of about ten is a Maze Cruspies packet. I have checked and double-checked, and it just makes no sense.”

Trigger scratched his square, manly jaw with his right hand. Something was afoot, and it was not good game.

“Odd indeed, Abner. Odd indeed.”

#

Slem ven Pocketry sat down in front of the table. On the other side sat Timo Tey, in the middle, flanked by Cristina Blatante and Lena Bobbingsley.

Timo cleared his throat.

“Member ven Pocketry, you have a report?”

“Yes, chairbeing Tey, I have a plagiarism to report. I have successfully infiltrated fake cereal onto the market, at normal market price, at a 55% profit on my initial investments. As a dues-paying Guild member, I wish this to be recorded in our books.”

“Well done. Does any of the other members of the inquisitors panel have any remarks or questions?”

“Member ven Pocketry, could you explain why you chose cereal products for your plagiarism, instead of something more conventional, like books, illustrated magazines, or art?”

“Certainly, member Bobbingsley. It is actually a much higher return on investment. Having previously primarily focused on plagiarizing furniture and sculpture, my profits tended to be in the 5% to 20% range, but in cereal, my initial probing attempt incurred a 40% profit and with some streamlining of my counterfeit production line, I could easily realize the current 55% profit margin. It is thus much more profitable and I envision the ability to expand this to plagiarizing and counterfeiting other food items. Alas, my learnings really do not carry over to luxury items, all my attempts at counterfeiting caviar have, for example, all fizzled out. While I can make a convincing replacement, I do so at a cost higher than what I can sell it for.”

“And how, exactly, are you recouping your costs?”

“Ah, this is possibly the most clever bit. I have contacts at a wholesaler, and I am using that to essentially pad their stocks and shipping my copies out mixed in with shipments of the originals. Quite ingenious, even if I say so myself.”

#

Trigger Snowflake had checked up on the transport company that had sent the shipment to Fort Corallium General Store, and they were headquartered in Ytterbium Valley. While outside his jurisdiction, he had a pretty good feeling he would be able to get permission from the local law to investigate.

He arrived at the Ytterbium Valley Sheriff’s Office and knocked on the door.

“Sheriff Scrogginski? It’s Trigger, from Fort Corallium. I need to be accredited to do some investigation and a few interviews here in Ytterbium Valley.”

“Trigger! You know you can call me Urbel. What’s up?”

“I have this weird case with counterfeited breakfast cereals, and I thought I would simply go and talk to the next step in the transport chain. I’ve already interviewed the store manager and he seems to be on the up and up. Next, I thought I would talk to the transport company, but since they’re here, I either need you to do it, or you can deputize me and I can use that to ask the questions that will be needed.”

“Hm, well, that seems quite straight-forward. Let me just give you a deputy star to complement the one you have from Fort Corallium.”

About an hour later, properly deputised, Trigger arrived at Intersolar Transports, the transport company he was after. He walked up to the reception, where a young man was sitting behind the counter.

“Hello, I am Trigger Snowflake, deputy to Sheriff Scrogginski. I need to interview a few people in regards to a crime. Who would be the logical first person to talk to?”

“Ah. Eh. Well… You probably want to talk to the general manager, who can guide you further?”

“Excellent, can you give me directions to his office?”

“Who? Ah, the general manager. Yes, if you walk down this corridor, her office is the thrird door on the right-hand side. It says ‘General Manager’ beside the door. I’ll just give her a call and tell her to expect you.”

Trigger knocked on the door, and a gruff voice called out “Come in”. He opened the door and quickly scanned the room, not really for threats, just out of sheer unbridled habit. Angled against the far right corner was a sturdy desk, behind which was sitting a woman, dressed in tough-wearing coveralls.

“Hello, I am Trigger Snowflake, deputy to Sheriff Scrogginski. I am here to investigate a crime discovered in my home jurisdiction of Fort Corallium, where counterfeit cereal was shipped to our General Store. The shipment came from this company, and I would like to get to the bottom of this.”

“Cereal crime? This is unheard of! Oh, pardon me, I am Jenna J. Jameson, the general manager for Intersolar Transport in this orbit. Well, if you can tell me, roughly, when the shipment was delivered?”

“Two, maybe as many as four, days ago.”

Ms Jameson hummed, as she walked over to a filing cabinet. She pulled open a drawer, rifled through the paperwork, then slammed it shut, only to open another one and rifling through some more papers.

“Aha. Yes, this is a shipment that came in from Luna, a week ago, and was delivered three days ago, to the Fort Corallium General Store. The shipment should have been half a pallet of cereal boxes, a quarter pallet of canned goods, and a quarter-pallet of chocolates and other sweet items. Let me see… Ah, as I thought. You need to speak to Ear-John. Follow me.”

After about five minutes of rapid walking, they arrived at a small glass-walled hut, in the middle of a gigantic warehouse. Inside was a man, again dressed in the seemingly ubiquitous hard-wearing coveralls. Stitched to the right breast of the man’s coverall was a name badge, reading “J Marriott”.

“Ear-John, this is Sheriff Snowflake, from Fort Corallium. He’s been properly deputized and is here to ask you some questions. Please answer them as fully as you can.” With that said, Ms Jameson turned around and walked away, at quite a pace.

“Hello, I am John Marriott, foreman of local loading. They call me Ear-John, because I have a good memory for details and, for this noisy environment, good hearing. What can I help you with?”

“Three days ago, you sent a pallet of goods to the Fort Corallium General Store. Was there anything unusual about it?”

“Not really. We used a new subcontractor to ship it from Luna, but other than that, it was all pretty standard. Why Was there any damage?”

“No, no. Well, not damage as such. It’s just that when the shipment arrived, a large proportion of the cereal boxes had been substituted for fakes.”

“That must’ve been before it arrived at this warehouse. Hm. Actually, I think we have a representative from the subcontractor, over by the arrivals processing area. If you follow me?”

Another few minutes of brisk walking, then Ear-John walked up to a man dressed in a sharp suit.

“Mr ven Pocketry? From Sniiki Transport? I have someone who wants to talk to you.”

When Slem ven Pocketry turned around, he saw Trigger Snowflake and went suddenly very pale, as if all blood had just left his face. “It wasn’t me, Sheriff. I don’t forge cereal. You can’t prove ANYTHING. I want my lawyer!”

Trigger Snowflake was stunned. Not only was this a ne’er-do-well that he had encountered before, but ven Pocketry had pretty much confessed without a single question being asked.

“Slem ven Pocketry, I am placing you under arrest, on suspicion of cereal forgery. Anything you have said, are saying, or will say can and will be held against you in a court of law. Will you follow willingly, or will I have to hand-cuff you?”

Back at the Ytterbium Valley sheriff’s office, ven Pocketry was sitting in a straight-backed wooden chair, looking morose.

“Urbel, we can either do the interview here, or if you rather I take the suspect back to Fort Corallium?”

“Might as well do it here, Trigger. I have this nagging feeling that you want to be close to the spaceport.”

After some extensive interrogation, which we will skip, since it is no fun at all, ven Pocketry had duly confessed to forging the cereal boxes, and had named three other persons involved, all based on Luna.

#

Trigger and his prisoner arrived at Luna Spaceport, having duly sent ahead a message listing the Luna-based suspects. As they passed through the arrivals check, the processing officer suddenly froze.

“Aha. Sheriff Snowflake. I have a note here that you should go straight to the Office of the Peace, where you and your prisoner are needed as soon as possible. I will now take the liberty of requesting a buggy to take you there, unless you strongly prefer to run?”

“A buggy will be fine, gentle herm. Will it be long?”

“It is just pulling up behind the door to my right. If you walk through, you will be taken to the Office of the Peace.”

Some quick driving through Luna Colony later, they arrived at the Office of the Peace, the main office of the organization that appointed sheriffs throughout the Solar System. Trigger had only been at head office twice before. Once for his official swearing-in, and once to receive his transfer order from being a sheriff-at-large on Mars, to his posting at Fort Corallium. They walked the limestone stairs up to the main entrance.

“Sheriff Snowflake, Fort Corallium, with a prisoner, as ordered. What next?”

“Ah, excellent. We have the suspects you named under arrest, and we’ve started interviewing them. It seems, from all we can tell, that the only counterfeiter among them is ven Pocketry here, who will be prosecuted under the False Pretenses act, while the rest of them mainly seem to be in it for the opportunity to defraud the shipping industry, also a serious crime.”

“That is good to hear. Will you need me to give further statements?”

“Not as such, we just need you to counter-sign the telefacsimiles you have sent, in order to make it less of a contentious point at trial. Would you like to stay for the proceedings?”

“No, Officer, I would rather go home to my beloved wife, not having to think about cereal trials.”

Pixel Scroll 10/16/19 The Pixels In This Scroll Are Not For Eating!

(1) CHESLEY AWARD. Neil Clarke shows off this year’s beautiful trophy.

(2) HELP NEEDED TO FIND TEXT OF A BOB SHAW SPEECH. Rob Jackson and Dave Langford are planning an ebook of Bob Shaw’s legendary Serious Scientific Talks, to be added to the free library at the TAFF site (taff.org.uk). They have traced thirteen of these convention speeches — three never before collected — but not the final one. This was delivered at Confabulation, the 1995 UK Eastercon, and (perhaps with revisions) at the first Glasgow Worldcon later that year. Rather than the usual knockabout punning, Bob reminisced movingly about his 50 years in fandom. Can any Filer help with a copy, transcription or recording of this talk to complete the set?

Here is the planned cover, with artwork by Jim Barker from the five-speech collection The Eastercon Speeches (1979) edited by Rob Jackson.

(3) MODERATING CON PANELS. Matt Moore’s post from a few years ago surfaced again because it has so many useful things to say: “How to Be a Good Moderator for Panel Discussions at Conventions”.

Understanding your role as moderator

The moderator is there to make sure there actually is a discussion, and that it runs smoothly. Panelists should have a lot to say, but you need to guide the conversation. This means:

  • Everyone gets a chance to speak
  • Only one person speaks at a time
  • People can disagree and be passionate in their views, but it must be done respectfully
  • You stay on topic

(4) TALKIN’ ABOUT THE 451 WAYS. Alex Jay talks about drafting graphics for a long-ago video game in “Lettering: Fahrenheit 451” at Tenth Letter of the Alphabet.

In 1984 Byron Preiss Visual Publications produced a video game adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 for Trillium. The book was published by Ballantine Books on October 19, 1953.

Byron Preiss gave an Atari console to me to create the graphics. I don’t recall the model number. Below are my ideas for the title sequence. Preiss wanted to use a salamander in the sequence.

(5) THE CRAFT IN LOVECRAFT. Learn how unexpectedly picky HPL was about space opera in “The Cthulhu Mythos and Space Opera by Bobby Derie” at the On An Underwood No. 5 blog.

…A keen amateur astronomer, Lovecraft largely eschewed the dynamics that made space opera feasible. In his 1935 essay “Some Notes on Interplanetary Fiction” he railed:

“A good interplanetary story must have realistic human characters; not the stock scientists, villainous assistants, invincible heroes, and lovely scientist’s-daughter heroines of the usual trash of this sort. Indeed, there is no reason why there should be any “villain”, “hero”, or “heroine” at all. These artificial character-types belong wholly to artificial plot-forms, and have no place in serious fiction of any kind…”

(6) FELINE PERFECTION. BBC reports: “Catwoman: Zoe Kravitz follows Hathaway and Berry in The Batman role”.

Comic book fans will be purring with delight at the mews that Zoe Kravitz will play Catwoman opposite Robert Pattinson in the next Batman film.

Kravitz as good as confirmed her casting when she responded to an Instagram post by Aquaman star Jason Momoa in which he said he was “freaking stoked” by her latest role.

“Love that Aquaman and Catwoman spend the holidays together from now on,” wrote the 30-year-old, best known for her appearances in Big Little Lies and the Fantastic Beasts films.

Kravitz, daughter of rock star Lenny and actress Lisa Bonet, previously provided Catwoman’s voice in 2017’s The Lego Batman Movie.

The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves and starring Pattinson as a young Bruce Wayne, will be released in the UK in June 2021.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 16, 2001 — WB first aired Smallville which would run for ten seasons. Starring Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk and Annette O’Toole, it ran five years on the WB and the last five on the CW. The series lives on in comics and novels. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 16, 1924 David Armstrong. He never had a major role in any genre show but he was in myriad ones. In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. alone he appeared in twenty-two episodes in twenty-two different minor roles, he was a henchmen twice on Batman and had two uncredited appearances on Trek as well. He showed up on Mission Impossible, Get Smart!, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. and even The Invaders. (Died 2016.)
  • Born October 16, 1925 Dame Angela Brigid Lansbury, 94. She first shows up in a genre work as Sibyl Vane in The Picture of Dorian Gray. A few years later, she’s Queen Anne of France in The Three Musketeers. Somewhat later, she’s Miss Eglantine Price in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. She voices Mommy Fortuna in The Last Unicorn, and is Granny in A Company of Wolves. And yes, she’s in Mary Poppins Returns as The Balloon Lady.
  • Born October 16, 1947 Guy Siner, 72. He’s one of only ten actors to appear in both the Trek and Who franchises. He appeared in the “Genesis of the Daleks”, a Fourth Doctor story, and on Enterprise in the “Silent Enemy” episode. Interestingly, he shows up on Babylon 5 as well in “Rumors, Bargains and Lies”. 
  • Born October 16, 1952 Ron Taylor. He got his break with the 1982 off-Broadway production Little Shop of Horrors as he voiced Audrey II in the show which ran for five years and over 2,000 performances. He didn’t do a lot of genre, showing up only on Ice PiratesQuantum Leap, Twin Peaks and Deep Space Nine, plus voice work on Batman Beyond. (Died 2002.)
  • Born October 16, 1958 Tim Robbins, 61. His first genre role was Phil Blumburtt in Howard the Duck. He played Erik in Erik the Viking, and is in The Shawshank Redemption as Andy Dufresne. He’s Woodrow “Woody” Blake in Mission to Mars. He was Harlan Ogilvy in the truly awful War of the Worlds followed by being Senator Robert Hammond in the even worse Green Lantern.
  • ?Born October 16, 1965 Joseph Mallozzi, 54. He is most noted for work on the Stargate series. He joined the Stargate production team at the start of Stargate SG-1’s fourth season in 2000. He was a writer and executive producer for all three series. He also co-created the Dark Matter comic book series with Paul Mullie that became a Syfy series. 
  • Born October 16, 1973 Eva Röse, 46. Most likely best-known for her role as the android Niska in Season 1 of the Swedish Real Humans upon which AMC’s Humans was based. She also was one of the voice cast for the animated Creepschool series, and was Jasmie on The Befallen, a supernatural series that lasted one season there. 

(9) INSERT LIGHTSABER SOUND HERE. Major League Baseball’s Cut4 blog declares “The best possible way to interrupt a live interview is with a lightsaber”.

The Nationals finished off an NLCS sweep of the Cardinals on Tuesday and are headed to their first-ever World Series. Champagne was flowing, players were dancing, Max Scherzer was being Max Scherzer and a couple MLB Network analysts were still on the field — trying to wrap their heads around what had just happened. And then, well …

(10) IF YOU WERE A DESKTOP DINOSAUR, MY LOVE. Gizmodo teases, “Lego’s New Dinosaur Fossils Turn Your Desk Into a Miniature Natural History Museum”. Photos at the link.

You can claim to be interested in historical artifacts like pottery, suits of armor, and maybe even a mummy, but the most compelling reason to visit a museum, even as an adult, are the dinosaur fossils. If your hometown happens to be lacking in museums, however, Lego’s new Dinosaur Fossils set puts a small collection of thunder lizard skeletons on your desk, no admission required.

(11) SMILE AND THE WORLD SMILES WITH YOU. Delish claims “People Are Loving The Joker Frappuccino Even More Than The Movie That Inspired It”.

…First, you’ll have to ask for the barista to draw the smile on the side of the cup in strawberry syrup. Next, they’ll blend a Matcha Green Tea Creme Frappuccino. Then, Pyper suggests you ask for matcha powder to be mixed into the whipped creme but you honestly could probably just get it on top. That’s finished off with a drizzle of chocolate syrup and there you have it.

(12) BOMBS AWAY. The Mirror (UK) names the “Biggest box-office flops of the 21st century”.  There are three genre films atop the list. One of them is —

4. The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)

Starring Eddie Murphy in a dual role, the critically panned sci-fi comedy managed to earn a Razzie nomination for worst film, worst actor, worst director, worst screenplay and worst on-screen couple (both for Eddie Murphy and a cloned version of himself).

It managed to make just £5.73 million on a budget of £81.83 million.

(13) MOBILE SUIT xEMU. “For NASA’s New Suits, ‘Mobility’ Is The Watchword”NPR has the story. (The BBC has more pictures here.)

NASA has unveiled prototypes of its next generation space suits to be worn inside the Orion spacecraft and on the surface of the moon when American astronauts return there as soon as 2024.

At the space agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., two NASA engineers modeled the new suits destined for the Artemis program, one known as the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU), designed for walking around the lunar surface, and the other, the Orion Crew Survival System, a bright orange pressure suit to be worn when astronauts launch from Earth and return.

The design criteria? After keeping the crew safe, including America’s first woman moon walker, it’s all about mobility.

To that end, the suited models demonstrated bending, squatting and walking around in the bulky garments.

“This is the first suit we’ve designed in about 40 years,” Chris Hansen, a manager at NASA’s spacesuit design office, said. “We want systems that allow our astronauts to be scientists on the surface of the moon.”

Amy Ross, NASA’s lead spacesuit engineer, said: “Basically, my job is to take a basketball, shape it like a human, keep them alive in a harsh environment and give them the mobility to do their job.”

(14) WHAT APRIL SHOWERS BRING. [Item by Chip Hitchcock.]“Unmanned ship to go on 400-year-old journey across the Atlantic”. This will be a real test for artificial “intelligence” — how will it aim for Virginia and wind up in Massachusetts?

A fully autonomous ship tracing the journey of the Mayflower is being built by a UK-based team, with help from tech firm IBM.

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship, or MAS, will launch from Plymouth in the UK in September 2020.

Its voyage will mark the 400th anniversary of the pilgrim ship which brought European settlers to America in 1620.

IBM is providing artificial intelligence systems for the ship.

The vessel will make its own decisions on its course and collision avoidance, and will even make expensive satellite phone calls back to base if it deems it necessary.

(15) CUBE ROUTER. Working one-handed and with obstacles, “Robot hand solves Rubik’s cube, but not the grand challenge”. Includes video.

A remarkable robot, capable of solving a Rubik’s cube single-handedly, has demonstrated just how far robotics has advanced – but at the same time, experts say, how far we still have to go.

OpenAI’s system used a computer simulation to teach the robot hand to solve the cube, running through routines that would take a single human some 10,000 years to complete.

Once taught, the robot was able to solve a cube that had been slightly modified to help the machine tell which way up it was being held.

Completion time varied, the research team said, but it generally took around four minutes to complete the task.

Using machine-learning and robotics to solve a Rubik’s cube has been achieved before. Notably, in March 2018, a machine developed by engineers at MIT managed to solve a cube in just 0.38 seconds.

What’s significant with OpenAI’s effort is the use of a multi-purpose robot, in this case a human-hand-like design, rather than a machine specifically designed to handle a Rubik’s cube and nothing else.

(16) TERMINAL MAN. [Item by Chip Hitchcock.] “And ‘Lo!’ – How the internet was born”. The writer underestimates undergraduate students…

In the 1960s, Bob Taylor worked at the heart of the Pentagon in Washington DC. He was on the third floor, near the US defence secretary and the boss of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (Arpa).

…Next to his office was the terminal room, a pokey little space where three remote-access terminals with three different keyboards sat side by side.

Each allowed Taylor to issue commands to a far-away mainframe computer.

…Each of these massive computers required a different login procedure and programming language.

It was, as the historians Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon put it, like “having a den cluttered with several television sets, each dedicated to a different channel”.

…The solution was proposed by another computing pioneer, physicist Wesley Clark.

Clark suggested installing a minicomputer at every site on this new network.

The local mainframe – the hulking Q-32, for example – would talk to the minicomputer sitting close beside it.

…The network designers wanted message processors that would sit quietly, with minimal supervision, and just keep on working, come heat or cold, vibration or power surge, mildew, mice, or – most dangerous of all – curious graduate students with screwdrivers.

(17) DOGGIE DINER. It can’t be easy to get a real dog to forego eating a meatball. Although maybe the meatball is fake, unlike the dog? “New Trailer for Live-Action ‘Lady and the Tramp’ Teases Iconic Spaghetti Dinner Scene”. Hypebeast breaks it down.

Following the first trailer for Disney’s forthcoming live-action adaptation of the renowned pup love story, Lady and the Tramp, the second trailer for the highly-anticipated film has arrived. Pegged as the first of the entertainment conglomerate’s original movies to premiere via Disney+, the film will take on the memorable story of a cocker spaniel named Lady (voiced by Tessa Thompson) who finds love with a stray mutt named Tramp (Justin Theroux). The film will also star Janelle Monáe, Thomas Mann, Kiersey Clemons, Benedict Wong, Ashley Jensen, and Yvette Nicole Brown.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Dave Langford, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Kramer’s Attorney Argues Image Isn’t Pornographic

Stephen Reba, defense attorney for Dragon Con co-founder Ed Kramer, has moved to have Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter thrown off all cases involving his client.

The October 10 motion filed in Gwinnett Superior Court accuses Porter of prosecutorial misconduct — in part because a recent child porn charge filed against Kramer was based on his possession of a published photograph from a well-known, albeit controversial, artist.

Reba contends DA Poter misled the grand jury about the nature of the photo in order to secure an indictment and prevent Kramer from possibly getting bond in another case. On September 30, two hours after Reba was in court asking for bond to secure Kramer’s release from jail, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation issued a warrant against Kramer on a new felony count of child pornography.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article “Attorney disputes child porn charge based on artist’s photograph” explains:

…The photo in question is titled “Popsicle Drips, 1985” and comes from a provocative 1992 collection published in the book “Immediate Family”by photographer Sally Mann. It depicts the genitalia of Mann’s young son.

“The claim that the image qualifies as child pornography … cannot be supported under any legal interpretation,” Reba wrote in his motion.

Porter has not yet filed a formal response. But he denied any abuse of power and defended the most recent charge against Kramer, a registered sex offender and longtime legal nemesis who Porter first charged with child molestation in 2000.

Porter said to qualify as child pornography a photograph “has to be of a naked child, a lewd display of a naked child.” He said the fact that Mann’s photo is a published work of art was “not part of the analysis” in bringing charges.

The question of whether the photograph constitutes child porn is ultimately one for a jury, Porter said.

Mann’s photography — a collection of which will be on display at the High Museum in Atlanta starting this weekend — includes hundreds, if not thousands, of images.

“Kramer selected the ones of naked children and put them in his own file,” Porter said.

Reba’s motion argues, “The image is a copyrighted piece of art that has been possessed and displayed by famous museums, universities, public libraries, major retail bookstores, and citizens alike – in fact, Mann’s work is featured in a world-traveling exhibit at the High Museum in less than two weeks. If there is probable cause to arrest and charge Defendant for the possession of this image, so too must there be probable cause to arrest and charge the aforementioned institutions and businesses.”

The latest round in Kramer’s case also has been written up by the Associated Press in a story that ran on the New York Times website.

Porter justified his conduct before the grand just to the Gwinnett Daily Post: “Gwinnett DA Danny Porter refutes claims by DragonCon founder’s attorney of prosecutorial misconduct”.

…“That fact that an image has been published is not in and of itself controlling on whether or not it’s child pornography,”Porter said. “It’s a question for the jury, and we’ll leave that question to the jury when the case goes to trial.”

The prosecutor also denied there was any manipulation of the grand jury. Kramer was already in jail on other charges related to accessing the county’s computer network.

“The whole thing about manipulating a grand jury — we routinely, particularly in a situation where, if we had a preliminary hearing and it’s dismissed, we still could have presented the case to the grand jury,” Porter said. “In this case, with him in custody, there was no reason to have a preliminary hearing and even if this speculation that he was going to succeed was true, we still could have presented the case to the grand jury and he would have been re-arrested.”

Although that indictment is listed as the reason for the motion, there are several other complicated layers of issues looming over this matter. One of them is another indictment, for making false statement, that was handed against Kramer on the same day as the sexual exploitation charge.

Kramer had accused Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Lou Solis of physically assaulting him, but Porter said video evidence contradicted that claim. That led to the false statements charge, which Porter said he did not know about until the Sheriff’s Office sought a warrant for Kramer’s arrest. That is one of the cases Reba is trying to get Porter recused from.

Meanwhile, there have been new developments in the computer hacking case where Kramer is a defendant.

Kramer and his three hacking case co-defendants all entered not guilty pleas at their Oct. 10 arraignment hearing. Kramer, private investigator TJ Ward, Ward’s employee Frank Karic, and Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader have been indicted on three counts of felony computer trespass. GBI investigators allege that Schrader hired Ward to investigate her concerns that DA Danny Porter was trying to hack into her computer. It has yet to be shared why the judge believed that, and Porter has denied the claim. Kramer worked for Ward tracking the activity on a WireShark monitoring system installed on the judge’s computer.

Today, a Georgia state panel officially suspended Judge Schrader. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

Georgia’s Judicial Qualifications Commission handed down its ruling against Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader on Wednesday, nearly a month after she and three co-defendants were indicted on felony computer trespass charges. Schrader is accused of triggering a strange — and illegal — series of events by hiring a private investigator to look into her fears that someone was trying to access her work computer. 

In its ruling, the JQC’s hearing panel wrote that Schrader’s alleged actions and the subsequent criminal charges had adversely affected her ability to do her job.

“The Panel further finds that Judge Schrader’s personal decision to allow an outside third party to gain access to the County’s network — with its many subsequent repercussions, including the discovery that Judge Schrader’s actions allegedly enabled a convicted child molester to have access to Court data — also adversely affects the administration of that office, as well as the rights and interests of the public,” wrote Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, the presiding officer of the JQC panel.

The next hearing in Kramer’s criminal case is scheduled for Nov. 7.

Comes a Reckoning: NYRSF Readings Spotlight Creative Writing on Environmental Justice

By Mark L. Blackman: One might think that, as we all breathe air and need potable water to survive – among the few things that all of humanity has in common – the environment would be as noncontroversial and nonpartisan as anything could be, but no. Even the very first Earth Day in 1970 was savaged as, variously, Hitler’s birthday and Lenin’s birthday. One button that I have from back then displays an upside-down peace sign, resembling a tree, calling us to “make peace with nature” … thus environmentalism was deemed “unpatriotic” (and ridiculed as “tree-hugging”) long before visible and undisputed climate change was called “a Chinese hoax” and even weather reports were politicized.

On the evening of Monday, October 14 – Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Federal Columbus Day and the start of the second day of Sukkot (a Jewish festival with arboreal aspects) – at its venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café in Brooklyn, two floors below the beleaguered WBAI-FM (more on that below), the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series spotlighted Reckoning, an annual journal of creative writing on environmental justice. (Trade paper, perfect-bound copies are $15, but are free online to get the message out. The 4th issue will be out in January. Visit Reckoning.press for more information.) The event was guest-hosted by its publisher, Michael J. DeLuca, and featured readings by Emily Houk, Krista Hoeppner Leahy, Marissa Lingen, Emery Robin and Brian Francis Slattery. (The readers read from works in Reckoning 1 and 2, with the exception of Robin, whose story will run in Reckoning 4.)

The event opened, as usual, with producer and executive curator Jim Freund (and, until last week, host of the long-running sf/fantasy radio program Hour of the Wolf) welcoming the audience. He began by noting that tonight’s readings would on Facebook Live, rather than streamed on Livestream, (Livestream should be back in November.)  He then addressed the elephant in the room two floors above. A week earlier, WBAI-FM’s parent company, Pacifica Across America – or, more specifically, a group of the owners – abruptly shut down the listener-sponsored station. Legal counteractions ensued, with more to come. Freund (who was wearing a WBAI t-shirt) assured all that WBAI-FM would be back, and announced that there would be a rally and press conference on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday the 15th at noon (too late for those reading this) in support of BAI.

Michael J. DeLuca

Returning to why we were there, he reminded those who can to donate to the Series ($7 is the suggested donation, but no one is ever turned away due to lack of funds), and reported that the home audience (to coin a phrase) may donate on its Patreon page. He concluded by announcing future readers: On Tuesday (yes, the Series returns to its usual schedule), November 5th (Election Day and Guy Fawkes Day – “Remember, remember, the 5th of November”), the readers will be Gay Partington Terry and Robert V.S. Redick. December 3rd will be “party time,” an evening of Glitter Spec Fic, featuring A.C. Wise and others to be corralled “reading stories and performing music to do with glitter.” (On the Series webpage, this notice was displayed in multiple colors.) Disclosing his own early environmental activism, he then turned “the show” over to DeLuca.

DeLuca describes hisroots as mycorrhizal with sugar maple and Eastern white pine,” a theme seen in his website, mossyskull.com. His fiction has appeared most recently in Beneath Ceaseless SkiesThree-Lobed Burning EyeStrangelet and Middle Planet. He observed that holding the event on Indigenous Peoples’ Day was “in keeping with the spirit of environmental justice” (some anthropologists may disagree).

Brian Francis Slattery

First up was Brian Francis Slattery, who has written four novels and is also the arts editor and a reporter for the New Haven Independent, and a musician. “For a week out of every year, lives without electricity” (and that’s without living in California). He read from his semi-fictional essay “The Kinder and More Caring Future,” musings on sustainability (we shouldn’t eat meat-eating predators, including certain fish like haddock) and a reminiscence on the wake of Hurricane Irene. “Hurricane Irene was the future calling,” showing us the perils of seas rising.)

Krista Hoeppner Leahy

Krista Hoeppner Leahy, the second reader, has appeared in a Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy,  ClarkesworldLady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and Farrago’s Wainscot. Her offering washer short poem “Eathspun,” about our relationship with Nature (“All of us belong to the sky”). (Another memorable line was “Breathe through your cloaca.”)

During the intermission, a raffle was held (for those who donated), with the prizes being copies of Infomocracy by Malka Older and Galápagos Regained by James Morrow. DeLuca then opened the second half of the evening.

Emily Houk

Emily Houk commented that her story “Plague Winter” reads as science fiction, but is historical, about bio-control of invasive species (we were referred to The Simpsons). Here a lab assistant sets plague doctor beetles on hemlocks. (I might have seen the trees in her story in Western Massachusetts.)

In keeping with the ecological theme, Marissa Lingen reported that she has “a large collection of foliage-themed jewelry.” She read her story “The Shale Giants.” (“Humans want to steal their breath.”)

The final reader of the evening, Emery Robin, read a story set in her hometown Oakland, “Ambient and Isolated Effects of Fine Particulate Matter.” After fires – and drought – in Northern California, the sky is hazy, and the air quality has been severely affected, become unbreathable (people wear masks) and ashy – people are turning gray.

DeLuca concluded the evening by inviting submissions.

The traditional Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered a small assortment of books along with copies of Cultural Survival Quarterly (focused indigenous issues and traditional knowledge; DeLuca’s sister is on staff). The audience of about 40, counting Freund and the readers (but not the Chabad duo who wandered in with the Four Species), included Amy Goldschlager, (House Manager) Barbara Krasnoff, John Kwok and (Tech Director) Terence Taylor. The kitchen closed early, but the Café still offered beverages, cold food and snacks.

Pixel Scroll 10/15/19 Scroll What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Pixel

(1) ANCIENT VIDEO GAMES PLAYABLE AGAIN. Cnet makes a nostalgic discovery as “Internet Archive releases 2,500 MS-DOS games so you can relive the ’90s”.

If you loved playing retro MS-DOS games from the ’90s like 3D Bomber, Zool and Alien Rampage, you can now replay those, and many more, with the latest update from Internet Archive

On Sunday, Internet Archive released 2,500 MS-DOS games that includes action, strategy and adventure titles. Some of the games are Vor Terra, Spooky Kooky Monster Maker, Princess Maker 2 and I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream.

Internet Archive software curator Jason Scott wrote on the site’s blog:

The update of these MS-DOS games comes from a project called eXoDOS, which has expanded over the years in the realm of collecting DOS games for easy playability on modern systems to tracking down and capturing, as best as can be done, the full context of DOS games – from the earliest simple games in the first couple years of the IBM PC to recently created independent productions that still work in the MS-DOS environment.

What makes the collection more than just a pile of old, now-playable games, is how it has to take head-on the problems of software preservation and history. Having an old executable and a scanned copy of the manual represents only the first few steps. DOS has remained consistent in some ways over the last (nearly) 40 years, but a lot has changed under the hood and programs were sometimes only written to work on very specific hardware and a very specific setup. They were released, sold some amount of copies, and then disappeared off the shelves, if not everyone’s memories.

It is all these extra steps, under the hood, of acquisition and configuration, that represents the hardest work by the eXoDOS project, and I recognize that long-time and Herculean effort. As a result, the eXoDOS project has over 7,000 titles they’ve made work dependably and consistently.

(2) THE WORD. Courtesy of ScienceFiction.com we learn that the Oxford English Dictionary’s “New Words List for October 2019” has loaded up on Star Wars terms. There are also a lot of additions you’d think would have gone into the OED years ago. Here are some of the October selections:

  • Jedi, n.: In the fictional universe of the Star Wars films: a member of an order of heroic, skilled warrior monks who are able to harness the mystical power of…
  • kapow, int.: Representing the sound of an explosion, a gunshot, a hard punch or blow, etc. Also in extended use, conveying the suddenness or powerful effect of an…
  • lightsabre, n.: In the fictional universe of the Star Wars films: a weapon resembling a sword, but having a destructive beam of light in place of a blade. Also: a…
  • Padawan, n.: In the fictional universe of the Star Wars films: an apprentice Jedi (see Jedi n.). Also (often humorously) in extended and allusive use: a youthful…
  • force, n.1 sense Additions: With the and chiefly with capital initial. In the fictional universe of the Star Wars films: a mystical universal energy field which certain…
  • They, pron. sense 2c: Used with reference to a person whose sense of personal identity does not correspond to conventional sex and gender distinctions, and who has typically asked to be referred to as they (rather than as he or she).

(3) ANTHOLOGY CROWDFUNDING. A Kickstarter appeal to raise $8,300 to fund publication of Vital: The Future of Healthcare launched October 15. The anthology, a collection of short stories featuring the future of health and medicine, will include works from notable authors such as David Brin, James Patrick Kelly, Paolo Bacigalupi, Seanan McGuire, Annalee Newitz, Caroline Yoachim, Alex Shvartsman, Eric Schwitzgebel, Congyun Gu, and others. Backers will receive exclusive rewards such as advanced copies and other perks for early support of the project. The campaign will last until November 14, 2019.

The idea for “Vital: The Future of Healthcare” was first conceived by RM Ambrose who will serve as editor of the book. He saw a need and opportunity to use fictional stories to address real life challenges. “Medical science continues to advance, but for many, healthcare has never been more broken,” says Ambrose.  “This book will use the power of storytelling to explore and inspire solutions to the problems that government and even the tech industry have struggled to fix.” 

Other writers are in discussion to be part of the project, with the goal of securing support from about 10 additional authors.

Once published, all proceeds from the sale of Vital will be donated to Loma Linda University Health, a global leader in education, research and clinical care.

Book editor RM Ambrose is Assistant Fiction Editor at the Hugo Award winning “StarShipSofa” podcast. He attended Taos Toolbox in 2017 and is an Affiliate Member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

(4) THUMB OUT. Behind a paywall, Financial Times book columnist Nilanjana Roy’s piece in the October 5 Financial Times is about the 40th anniversary of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

He (Adams) was as much a futurologist, a wizard of predictions, as he was a writer.  In the late 1970s, he dreamed up an ‘Electronic Thumb”–a device that looked like a large electronic calculator on which you could summon up a million ‘pages’–and perhaps my favourite robot of all time, Marvin the depressive Paranoid Android.

The first online translation service, Altavista’a 1995 Babelfish, was named after the fictional fish that translates languages in Hitchhiker when Arthur Dent sticks it in his ear.  Deep Thought, the computer developed in the 1990s to play chess, was named in homage to Adams’s computer, which takes seven and a half million years to answer the question, ‘What is the meaning of life?’  (Forty-two, as every Hitchhiker fan knows.)

(5) INSIDE STORY. Tim Goodman says people who have never read the graphic novel before may get lost: “‘Watchmen’: TV Review” at The Hollywood Reporter.

It’s difficult to fully describe the visual and storytelling audacity behind HBO’s Watchmen, a series that warps perception in keenly original ways. It’s based on the late-1980s cult comic books of the same name (co-created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons), then given a wholly different spin by Damon Lindelof (Lost, The Leftovers), a superfan of the source material but a wildly creative force of his own. This latest version (there was also a Zack Snyder movie in 2009) is simultaneously unique — it will certainly bring in fans of Lindelof’s work and HBO’s pedigree — and true to the spirit of the comics.

The challenge that Lindelof and HBO face is a pretty simple one: Watchmen will be utterly confusing without at least some passing knowledge of the origin story. This is a tale that begs for context, no matter how compelling and wonderfully baroque Lindelof’s telling is. So, yes, if you know nothing about Watchmen other than HBO’s tantalizing trailers (and a standout cast that includes Regina King, Tim Blake Nelson, Don Johnson, Jean Smart, Jeremy Irons and others), you’d be well-served, at the very least, by reading the Wikipedia backstory. (Lindelof himself has said that if the series has new fans scrambling to discover the original work, that will be reward enough.)

(6) A THRONE OF METAL, AT LEAST. Actress Maisie Williams graces the latest cover of Metal

(7) PEOPLE ARE THE WORST. The Hollywood Reporter’s Chris Gardner was on hand for the soiree: “Jordan Peele Explains His Attraction to Horror: ‘There Is an Evil Embedded Into Our DNA’”.

The director shared the Hammer Museum stage with honoree Judy Chicago, presenters Gloria Steinem and Roxane Gay and performers Beck and Chris Martin at the record-setting Gala in the Garden fundraiser….

[Jordan Peele] He also dished out some of his early inspirations from the silver screen — with a nod to Martin Scorsese’s recent controversial statements about what qualifies as “cinema.”

“I can buy the premise for a second that this is a deserved thing, after all I spent so many hours growing up watching great cinema and absorbing art house classics of the 20th century like Ghostbusters 2, Gremlins 2, and Chud 2, all the twos,” he joked. “That’s my pathway of this great thing that Martin Scorsese calls cinema.”

He then got serious by expanding on his creative motivations.

“My passion is to entertain. I dream less about making a commentary about society than I do about getting a laugh or getting a scream or scaring anybody. Any audible noise that an audience can make, that’s my passion,” he explained. “Apparently to either get at something important or to just simply make people laugh, it involves a search of the same thing and that’s truth.”

Peele said that as he grew up, his perspective on life became “a little cynical,” and he found new truth in the exploration of what he refers to as “the human demon.”

“This is the idea that no matter what there is, whatever you do, there is an evil embedded into our DNA. It crystallizes when we get together. It’s in our tribalism, our nationalism, and our capitalism, our mob mentality, our obsession with categorization. We’re so good at masking our own evil from ourselves and so my obsession evolved to pulling down this mask,” he continued. “I figured why not try to reveal the truth in my language. Do it as entertaining as I could. I found early on that this would require a certain amount of vulnerability. if I was going to tap into fears that would resonate with others, I would need to explore and understand my own fears and my own faults.”

(8) DON’T TOY WITH FANS. Vanity Fair demands to know “Where’s Rose? Star Wars Fans Want Kelly Marie Tran’s Hero on More Merch”. Tagline: The first major female Asian character in the galactic saga was missing from many products for The Rise of Skywalker. Here’s what happened.

Laura Sirikul was on a mission. To the rest of the world, it was just October 4, but to movie fans like her, it was a galactic holiday—Triple Force Friday, when toys and merchandise from three upcoming Star Wars projects finally went on sale.

Sirikul ventured to big-box retailers around Pasadena, California, in search of items featuring her favorite character: Rose Tico, the quick-witted engineer played by Kelly Marie Tran. After hitting Target, Walmart, Hot Topic, and the Disney Store, Sirikul found herself asking a question that has since become a hashtag on social media: #WheresRose?

At the end of September, preview videos hyping the new merchandise showed a white T-shirt using the word “Rebel” as a backdrop for the character as she struck a heroic pose. “That ‘Rebel’ shirt was at the Disney Store, but she wasn’t on it,” Sirikul told Vanity Fair. “There was no Rose Tico at the mall.”

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 15, 1951 I Love Lucy made its television debut on CBS. Not genre in any sense at all but still worth noting. Desi appeared in a short called “The Fountain of Youth” which is genre. Although Lucy didn’t do any genre, their series was the foundation for Desilu Productions which eventually brought Star Trek to TV.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 15, 1911 James H. Schmitz. Writer of short fiction of a space opera setting, sold primarily to Galaxy Science Fiction and Astounding Science-Fiction. Sources laud him for his intelligent female characters. His collections are available on iBooks or Kindle. (Died 1981.)
  • Born October 15, 1919 E.C. Tubb. A writer of at least 140 novels and 230 short stories and novellas, he’s best known for the Dumarest Saga. His other long running series was the Cap Kennedy stories. And his short story “Little Girl Lost” which was originally published in New Worlds magazine became a story on Night Gallery. (Died 2010.)
  • Born October 15, 1924 Mark Lenard. Sarek, father of Spock, in Trek franchise. Surprisingly he also played a Klingon in Star Trek The Motion Picture, and a Romulan in an episode of Star Trek. He also had one-offs on Mission Impossible, Wild Wild West,  Otherworld and Planet of The Apes. (Died 1996.)
  • Born October 15, 1926 Ed McBain. Huh, I never knew he ventured beyond his mystery novels but he published approximately 24 genre stories and 6 SF novels between 1951 and 1971 under the names S. A. Lombino, Evan Hunter, Richard Marsten, D. A. Addams, and Ted Taine. ISFDB has a list and I can’t say I know any of them. Any of y’all read them? (Died 2005.)
  • Born October 15, 1932 Virginia Leith, 87. The head in The Brain That Wouldn’t Die. Really. Truly. 

  • Born October 15, 1947 Lynn Lowry, 72. She is perhaps best known for her work in such horror films as George A. Romero’s The Crazies,  David Cronenberg’s Shivers, Paul Schrader’s Cat People and David E. Durston I Drink Your Blood. Some of these are truly in bad taste. 
  • Born October 15, 1955 Tanya Roberts, 64. Stacey Sutton in A View to Kill. Quite the opposite of her role as Kiri in The Beastmaster. And let’s forget in the title role of Sheena: Queen of the Jungle.
  • Born October 15, 1969 Dominic West,  50. Jigsaw in the dreadful Punisher film, Punisher: War Zone. His first SFF role was as Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream which is the same year he shows up as Jerus Jannick in The Phantom Menace, and he was Sab Than on John Carter. His latest SFF role was as Lord Richard Croft in the Tomb Raider reboot.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off the Mark shows that this Halloween, if you won’t go to Mount TBR, your Mount TBR might come to you.

(12) NOT TANK MARMOT. In “Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners showcase stunning scenes from nature”, CNN describes the winning photo:

It could almost be a scene from a slapstick comedy: a marmot stands frozen in fear, slack-jawed and balanced on one foot, as it suddenly notices a charging fox.

The dramatic image, captured with perfect timing by Chinese photographer Yongqing Bao, has won the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year award, given out annually by London’s Natural History Museum.

(13) CHOCOLATE WITH YOUR PEANUT BUTTER. John Connolly speaks up “In Defense of the Supernatural in Detective Fiction” at CrimeReads.

Some months ago, I had dinner in New York with an old friend, one of the most senior figures in the American mystery community. We tend to differ on almost every subject under the sun, food and wine apart, but it is possible to disagree without being disagreeable, and I like to think that we have both mastered that art, for the most part.

Toward the end of the evening, my friend suggested that I had made two errors in my career. One was the decision not to write exclusively in the mystery genre, but to explore other areas of writing. This, he felt, had damaged me commercially—although, as I pointed out to him, it had benefited me creatively. My second error, he believed, was to have mixed the mystery genre with the supernatural. Whatever its benefits or disadvantages to me, either commercially or creatively, he believed that this simply should not have been done. For him, the supernatural had no place in the mystery novel, and there are many in mystery community who share his opinion.

(14) LAST LAUGH. BBC shares “The graveside joke that had everyone laughing at a funeral”. (Also video.)

A dad’s message from beyond the grave has touched the hearts of thousands online.

Shay Bradley, 62, had a dying wish that had his family and friends laughing at his funeral in Dublin.

In a video that has received more than 136,000 upvotes on Reddit, the former Irish defence forces veteran pretends to be trapped inside his coffin and is heard knocking frantically, trying to get out

Coming from a speaker on the ground his voice boomed from his grave: “Hello, hello, hello… let me out!” There is then some swearing which sends the mourners into fits of laughter.

He goes on to sing: “Hello again, hello. I called to say goodbye.”

(15) STAY FROSTY. “His Dark Materials: Behind the scenes of the TV adaptation”.

Ahead of the eight-part dramatisation of the first of Philip Pullman’s best-selling His Dark Materials novels, the BBC’s Sian Lloyd describes her sneak-preview behind-the-scenes set visit earlier this year.

Huddled around braziers filled with warm coals or sitting with blankets wrapped over shoulders, close to a hundred shivering extras are trying to keep the cold at bay.

They are the Gyptians, the nomadic closely-knit boat-dwelling tribe at the centre of Pullman’s trilogy, who are about to get some disturbing news.

In the real world, we’re on the site of a former ironworks in Blaenavon in the south Wales valleys. There’s snow on the ground, and temperatures are still plummeting.

Cast members and crew have gathered for the opening scenes from the series, which covers the events of the novel Northern Lights, and which receives its premiere in London on Tuesday.

(16) GIVE YOU JOY. From BBC: “His Dark Materials: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Welsh ‘joy'”

Relocating to south Wales to film His Dark Materials was a “joy”, Hamilton creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda has said.

The TV adaptation of Sir Philip Pullman’s trilogy is being screened in London before being broadcast on BBC One in November.

The actor plays Lee Scoresby in the series, which was made by production company Bad Wolf in Cardiff.

Miranda shared his love of Wales on social media during filming.

(17) COVER ARTIST. Would you like to hear Andy Partridge’s “Music inspired by the art of Richard Powers”, the famed sff artist and 1991 Worldcon guest of honor?

A Long time ago, in a library far away, (well, Swindon, actually), a shy schoolboy who loved books but was a slow reader, borrowed three science fiction books per week. He didn’t read them. Instead, mesmerised by the covers, he imagined his own stories to match the cover paintings which he stared at intently for hours. 

Invited to tell his classmates about the books he’d read, neither they nor the teachers spotted the invention. Few, if any, teachers read sci-fi and even though the early 1960s may have been a peak point for the excitement surrounding mankind’s initial steps beyond the Earth, teachers would sooner bore any potential interest in books out of children with Charles Dickens rather than risk capturing their imagination with Philip K Dick.

Decades passed. The moon was reached and then, it seemed, forgotten. The faraway galaxies became the stuff of mainstream cinema and TV. Books celebrating the work and art of an earlier generation of sci-fi writers and illustrators appeared. The boy in the library of the early 1960s, now a man in a comic book/graphic novel shop at the end of the first decade of a new millennium, discovered a book about Richard M. Powers and became a time traveller, transported back to the smell of the paper, the plastic protective library book coverings and the universe laid out, jigsaw like, on his bed. Richard M. Powers had been the principal artist, illustrator among illustrators and guide to unleashing Andy Partridge’s imagination among the stars and galaxies.

Andy’s response was to record a sort of soundtrack to the paintings which had been so inspirational to him. The resulting album conjures, via 12 enigmatic pieces – akin to a virtual Musique concrete (with the computer/editing process replacing the more cumbersome scissors/tape method) – a musical accompaniment to the variety of alien landscapes which Powers illustrated so profusely…. 

(18) LITTLE KNOWN STUFF. “William Shatner beams in with hit TV show at 88” on AFP says that Shatner’s paranormal mysteries show The UnXplained has been picked up for a second season on the History Channel and that Shatner’s secret for being productive at 88 is to “keep taking on projects.”

Shatner beamed into Cannes in southern France on Tuesday to beat the drum for the series — which tries to explain some of the mysteries of the world around us — at MIPCOM, the world’s biggest entertainment market.

“A friend of mine once received a call from someone who had passed away,” he said. Finding answers to such strange phenomena “was what this show is all about”, he told reporters.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]