Pixel Scroll 3/31/21 Run Back To The Shelter Of Her Pixel’s Scrolling Helper

(1) A DAY FOR VISIBILITY. On International Transgender Day of Visibility, one fan talks about the way Star Trek fandom helped her feel safe and seen as her full self: “Coming Out to My Star Trek Family”.

In October 2012, I stepped into a room full of people who’d known me for years, but most of them were about to truly meet me for the first time. I was scared out of my mind. At a science-fiction convention in Chicago, they were busy turning a hotel suite into a tiny nightclub, and I had arrived to step up my DJ gear, a now-familiar ritual. Only this time, I was wearing a full face of makeup and a dress… and an announcement needed to be made. I had new pronouns. And a new name. This was not some ultra-liberal organization of party throwers, either. It’s an organization known as Barfleet, whose only real ethos is “throw the best, safest convention parties”. And I was about to their first out, visibly transgender member….

(2) COSTUMER PHOTO HISTORY RETURNS. The International Costumers Gallery, the largest collection of costume photos in the world, includes photos from science fiction and fantasy conventions, masquerade competitions, fashion shows, historical dress competitions and other events and displays. The Gallery is returning online, featuring new software and new features at a new location: ICG Pat and Peggy Kennedy Memorial Archives.

The International Costumers’ Guild (ICG), founded in 1985, is an affiliation of hobbyist and professional costumers from around the world, dedicated to the promotion and education of costuming as an art form in all its aspects, and to fostering local educational and social costume events…

(3) BARDING PARTY. James Davis Nicoll acquaints Tor.com readers with “Five SFF Works That Put Bards Center Stage”.

If there is one lesson Tolkien intended us to take from The Lord of the Rings, it is that NPC (non-player-character) bards are extraordinarily dangerous beings. Not because they might kill you (although some might) but because by their nature, they are adept at upstaging other characters. It’s probably only due to the merciful brevity of his appearance on stage that Tom Bombadil didn’t manage to transform LOTR into Tom Bombadil Saves Middle-Earth with the Power of Verse (also there were some hobbits).

First on the list is Manly Wade Wellman’s collection John the Balladeer. (If you don’t mess around with Jim, you certainly don’t mess around with John.)

(4) AFTERMATH. Following yesterday’s announcement by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society – “BSFS Shares Outcome of Investigation Into Harassment Complaints” — Keith R.A. DeCandido has posted “An open letter to Balticon, which I am not attending”.

I’m afraid that I must decline the invitation to be an author guest/program participant at Balticon 55, and have no plans to return to the convention any time soon.  

The convention’s handling of the multiple harassment complaints against convention chair Eric Gasior is disappointing. All the more so because my wife Wrenn Simms and I were witnesses to the incident spelled out in one of those complaints. We were at Arisia 2016, and we observed Eric’s behavior toward one of the complainants. At the time, we thought it was an isolated incident due to a particular set of circumstances. We have since learned that there were at least three other complaints against Eric of a similar nature to that of the one we were privy to. Our names were passed on to the investigator that Balticon hired to look into the allegations, but we were never contacted. Now the investigation is said to be complete and finished, even though Wrenn and I were not questioned, despite being witnesses to Eric’s harassment in January 2016.  

This is massively unacceptable and I cannot in good conscience support the con. Balticon is a favorite convention of ours, and I am disappointed to not be attending, but to attend now would be to give my tacit support to a convention committee that has proven to not care about the safety of its attendees.  

(5) WELL, HARDLY EVERS. “HBO drops full trailer for new sci-fi period drama The Nevers”Ars Technica sets the frame:

An inexplicable event confers supernatural powers on a select group of people in Victorian London, who must battle prejudice and those who would exploit their abilities in The Nevers, a new original series coming to HBO next month.

(6) HE CAN DIG IT. [Item by rcade.] Not many actors would do as much preparation for a role as Alexander Skarsgard did to portray geologist Nathan Lind in the movie Godzilla vs. Kong, if this Uproxx interview is to be believed: “Alexander Skarsgard Knows You Don’t Care About Him In Godzilla Vs Kong”.

Alexander Skarsgard: Even though I play a very peripheral character and no one cares, I still take my craft seriously. And that means a decade of studying geology and living, breathing the character. Just to give the audience that sublime performance that I give in the movie.

Uproxx: When you’re giving the technical jargon during the movie, viewers can rest assured that you know exactly what you’re talking about, because you studied for so long with trained geologists.

Skarsgard: Exactly. And they can see that in my eyes, that I’m not lying. I’m not pretending. I’m not acting. I’m not playing a geologist. I am a geologist.

(7) ATTACK THE MOCK. The Mitchells vs.The Machines comes to Netflix on April 30.

A quirky, dysfunctional family’s road trip is upended when they find themselves in the middle of the robot apocalypse and suddenly become humanity’s unlikeliest last hope!

(8) ST-PIERRE OBIT. Montreal club member Sylvain St-Pierre and author of several novels died March 25 of Covid reports MonSFFA’s Cathy Palmer-Lister: “Sad news: Sylvain St-Pierre”.

I am so sorry to have to inform you that Sylvain St-Pierre and his mom have both passed away from Covid. His brother, Marc, is in quarantine as a precautionary measure.

We are in shock. Sylvain was one of the rocks on which this club was founded, and a best friend to so many of us in fandom. 

More details here. Tributes are being posted on St-Pierre’s Facebook page.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • March 31, 1987 — On this day in 1987, the Max Headroom series premiered on ABC. This is the America version of Max Headroom as the British version was Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future which is essentially identical to the initial origin episode of the American series.  Matt Frewer as Max Headroom and Edison Carter, Amanda Pays as Theora Jones and  W. Morgan Sheppard as Blank Reg would reprise their characters from the British film. It ran from April of 1985 to March of 1987.  A spin-off series, a talk show featuring Max was recorded, The Original Max Talking Headroom Show, this time in New York. It aired on Cinemax between the two seasons and lasted six episodes. And yes, Max had a lucrative gig shilling Coca Cola and other products here and in the United Kingdom. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 31, 1844 Andrew Lang. To say that he is best known as a collector of folk and fairy tales is a bit of understatement. He collected enough tales that twenty five volumes of Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books for children was published between 1889 and 1913. That’s 798 stories. If you’re interested in seeing these stories, you can find them here. (Died 1912.) (CE)
  • Born March 31, 1918 – Beth Krush.  Illustrator, mostly with husband Joe Krush, who survived her.  Both did Mary Norton’s Borrowers books.  BK did Eudora Welty’s only children’s book The Shoe Bird and sixteen with Sally Scott.   Here is The Borrowers Afield.  Here is A Spell Is Cast.  Here is Countdown at 37 Pinecrest Drive.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born March 31, 1932 John Jakes, 89. Author of a number of genre series including the Brak the Barbarian series. The novels seem to fix-ups from works published in such venues as FantasticDark Gate and Dragonard are his other two series. As  Robert Hart Davis, he wrote a number of The Man From UNCLE novellas that were published in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine. The magazine apparently only existed from 1966 to 1968. (CE) 
  • Born March 31, 1934 Richard Chamberlain, 87. His first dive into our end of reality was in The Three Musketeers as Aramis, a role he reprised in The Return of Three Musketeers. (I consider all Musketeer films to be genre.) Some of you being cantankerous may argue it was actually when he played the title character in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold which he did some years later. He listed as voicing the Jack Kirby created character Highfather on the superb Justice League: Gods and Monsters but that was but a few lines of dialogue I believe. He was in the Blackbeard series as Governor Charles Eden, and series wise has done the usual one-offs on such shows as Alfred Hitchcock PresentsBoris Karloff’s ThrillerChuck and Twin Peaks. (CE)
  • Born March 31, 1936 Marge Piercy, 85. Author of He, She and It which garnered the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction novel. Of course she also wrote Woman on the Edge of Time doomed to be called a “classic of utopian speculative sf”. Woman on the Edge of Time was nominated for a Tiptree Award. (CE)
  • Born March 31, 1955 – Janice Gelb, age 66.  Co-founded the Israel SF Ass’n and the Filk Foundation.  Ran the Hugo Ceremony at L.A.con IV the 64th Worldcon, has run Program Ops at eight.  Fan Guest of Honor at Concave 22, Baycon 2003; Capricon 31 (with husband Stephen Boucher).  Big Heart (our highest service award; with Boucher).  DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegate; her campaignzine is here; trip report not available electronically so far as I know: try E-mail to either of the DUFF Administrators as given here; or send paper mail to me, 236 S. Coronado St., No. 409, Los Angeles, CA 90057, U.S.A., and we’ll arrange something.  [JH]
  • Born March 31, 1957 – David Bratman, age 64.  Librarian.  Classical-music reviewer.  Tolkien scholar; a dozen entries in the Tolkien Encyclopedia; edited Mythprint; edits & contributes to Tolkien Studies and Mythlore (about the Inklings).  See here.  Administered the Hugo Awards at three Worldcons, the Retrospective Hugos at one.  Although he once said “We liked dancing ‘The Black Nag’ to annoy John Hertz”, my answer to the question of the day is yes.  [JH]
  • Born March 31, 1957 – Gary Louie.  Hard-working, much-missed Los Angeles fan.  Evans-Freehafer Award (service to LASFS, L.A. Science Fantasy Society).  Labored on nearly every Worldcon for years.  When he arrived in L.A. fandom the mah jongg fad had begun (for which I bear some responsibility), and as he said, being Chinese he mixed right in.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born March 31, 1960 Ian McDonald, 61. I see looking him up for this Birthday note that one of my favorite novels by him, Desolation Road, was his very first one. Ares Express which was the sort of sequel was just as splendid. Now the Chaga saga was, errr, weird. The Everness saga was fun but ultimately shallow. Strongly recommend both Devish House and River of Gods. Luna series just didn’t impress me me, so other opinions are sought on it. (CE)
  • Born March 31, 1971 Ewan McGregor, 50. Nightwatch, a horror film, with him as lead Martin Bell is his first true genre film.  That was followed by The Phantom Menace with him as Obi-Wan Kenobi, a role repeated in Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens. His latest role of interest, well to me if to nobody else, is as Christopher Robin in the film of the same name. (CE) 
  • Born March 31, 1982 – Alaya Dawn Johnson, age 39.  Seven novels, a dozen shorter stories.  Won a Nebula and an Andre Norton.  Interviewed in FantasyLightspeed. Guest of Honor at WisCon 39, ConFusion 42 (not its real name, which was “Life, the Universe, and ConFusion”).  [JH]
  • Born March 31, 2010 – João Paulo Guerra Barrera, age 11.  Two short stories in Portuguese and English.  Won the NASA Ames Space Settlement Contest.  And that ain’t the half of it.  [JH]

(11) MANGA NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the March 22 Financial Times, Leo Lewis reports that Japan’s Financial Services Agency has “turned to a scatological cartoon character to teach children about money.”  The character, “Unko Doriru” (“poo exercises”) was introduced by publisher  Bunkyosha in 2017 to help children deal with all the memorization that it takes to learn to read and write Japanese.

“In the original books,” Lewis writes, “each new character is introduced with an excrement-based sentence by Unko-sensei, a smartly-dressed, bespectacled and mustachioed pedagogue whose head is a stylized stool.  The author’s bet on the inexhaustible powers of faeces to entertain children has seen the series expand to mathematics, science, and other usually soberly-taught realms of Japanese education.”

The Financial Services Agency’s use of the character is an online multiple-choice quiz, “asking children how they would respond to various financial realities, such as having insufficient funds (to buy video games), sudden seasonal gluts of capital (gift money) and the appropriate evaluation of rendered services (washing up.)  In each case, one of the available answers involves faeces.”

(12) YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHO’S WRITTEN A BOOK. That’s what the email said. Even when it revealed that the subject was newly-released novel The Eighth Key by Laura Weyr I still needed the next clue – that Laura Weyr is the nom de plume of Janice Marcus, of the Galactic Journey Marcuses. Here’s the pitch for her new book:

The magic is gone…or is it?

Lucian is a jaded flirt and professional bard who knows all the old songs about sorcery. When he meets Corwin, a shy mage who can still use magic despite the Drought, Lucian finds his desire growing with each passing day—not just for answers, but for Corwin himself.

Sparks fly as they find themselves passionately entangled in adventure and each other. But learning the true origin of the Drought and the Key to ending it comes at a price that their bond may not survive…

How do you get it? Here are three options: Amazon; Bookshop.org; eBook from publisher Journey Press.

(13) A PEEK INTO THE FUTURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] 60 Minutes had a segment about Boston Dynamics.  They went behind the scenes and had many interesting shots of company headquarters and some robots we’ve never seen.  The most interesting fact in Anderson Cooper’s piece is that the humanoid robot that does all the leaping is only five feet tall. “Robots of the future at Boston Dynamics”.

(14) GETTING PHYSICAL. But are they going anywhere? “New Warp Drive Model Requires No ‘Exotic Matter,’ Scientists Say We Can Build It” – maybe you’ll understand The Debrief’s explanation.  

…“If you read any publications that claim we have figured out how to break the speed of light, they are mistaken,” said one of the researchers, Gianni Martire, in an email to The Debrief. “We [instead] show that a class of subluminal, spherically symmetric warp drive spacetimes, can be constructed based on the physical principles known to humanity today.”

… So, with the team assembled, Martire described how they first looked at the classical warp designs before trying to tackle the problem themselves. “[Harold] White’s paper makes heavy use of extra non-physical dimensions,” he said, “which, as you know, is incompatible with the current understanding of general relativity. Thus, the work is not usable in our reality. No warp metric was

Hence, why they were all unphysical.”

With this limitation in mind, Martire and his co-author, Lund University Astrophysicist Alexey Bobrick, set out to design an entirely new type of Warp drive, a design they term a physical warp drive. “Our paper covers all the existing warp drives and all their possible modifications (i.e., Alcubierre),” Martire said in the email, “but the APL metric stands on its own, hence why it’s the first physical class of warp.”

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers:  Zack Snyder’s Justice League” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies note that the Snyder Cut is 2 1/2 times longer than Casablanca, which gives him plenty of room for many, many slo-mo scenes (including a slo-mo shot of Lois Lane’s coffee cup) and scenes where “the grey CGI villain reports in excruciating detail to his grey CGI boss and his boss’s grey CGI executive assistant.”

[Thanks to N., Lloyd Penney, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Pierre and Sandy Pettinger, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Dann, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #60

Short Takes: Zack Snyder’s Justice League, 2034: A Novel of the Next World War, the Discon III Update and the Georgia/Dragoncon Situation

By Chris M. Barkley:

Zach Synder’s Justice League ( Warner Brothers/DC Comics, 4 hours 2 minutes) with Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons, Connie Neilsen and J.K. Simmons. Story and screenplay by Chris Terrio, Will Beall and Zack Snyder, Directed by Zack Snyder.

Bechdel Test: Passed.

I want to start by saying that I have a very soft spot in my heart for the Justice League. Back in 1997, I wrote a 13,000 plus word essay for the print edition of File 770 detailing my two year odyssey to obtain a copy of Justice League of America #47, the second part of a memorable JLA – Justice Society annual team up. The hunt for that comic book started my education about the history of comics and eventually, a decade later, to my entry into sf fandom.

When the first version of Justice League was released in November of 2017, I had no idea that Autumn, the daughter of director Zach Snyder and co-producer and partner Deborah, had died March of that year during post-production and that they had stepped away to deal with their grief.

Writer-director Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Avengers) was brought in for extensive re-writes and re-shooting major portions of the film. Even though the film went on to earn $657 million at the box office, it was considered a financial failure for failing to earn back enough to cover its production and marketing costs.

(For the record, I gave the original film a enthusiastic review here in a File 770 column: “Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #20”.) 

Had I known then what I know now, had I been better informed,I would have written a very, VERY different review…

When we left Batman at the end of the previous film, Dawn of Justice, he was in a very tight fix: Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) had hinted that he had signaled dark forces from beyond Earth that Superman (Henry Cavill) was dead and the planet was ripe for the taking.

When an alien emissary known as Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) invades Earth looking for a set of powerful alien artifacts known as Mother Boxes, Bruce Wayne, along with Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), seek out and recruit other super powered individuals (Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller)  to help against the threat.

But after being on the losing end of several encounters with Steppenwolf, Batman eventually realizes that the only way they may have a chance to survive is to revive Superman from the dead, even though they have no idea whether or not it will work or not.

The fan-driven drumbeat to release the “Snyder Cut” of Justice League began before the end theatrical run of the original film. And when the social media uprising started, I thought it was extremely foolish to expect Warner Brothers to even respond. Never in the history of filmmaking or marketing had a film studio seriously contemplated doing what happened after nearly two years of hectoring, with Warner Brothers shelling out a reported $70 million dollars to complete a film that only existed digitally on Zach Snyder’s laptop.

What was produced is remarkable; a complete origin story of Victor Stone/Cyborg,  the emotional fallout that Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Martha Kent suffered from the loss of their beloved Clark Kent, the fleshing out Barry Allen’s (Ezra Miller) slightly goofball but brilliant scientist and several tantalizing looks at DC Comics ultimate villain, Darkseid (voiced by Ray Porter).

So forget about what the naysayers are saying; Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a big, exciting, sprawling, violent, intense, profane, beautiful and ultimately moving film.

Snyder may never write or direct another DC property but he exits this arena leaving everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) on the field for us to admire. To him, the cast and crew and especially to his filmmaking partner Deborah Snyder, I say BRAVO!

2034: A Novel of the Next World War by Elliot Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis, Penguin Press, March 2021, 320 pages.

When I was a lad in high school in the early 1970’s, I read John Hersey’s classic and landmark piece of historical journalism, Hiroshima, which chronicled the struggles of six survivors of the first atom bomb attack. Upon reading it, I hoped that every President of the United States, and every leader of a nation who had atomic weapons, should have some incentive to read it.

When it was published, in its entirety, in the August 31, 1946 issue of The New Yorker, it caused a shocking and sickening realization to unaware civilians that this new type warfare could herald the end of civilization. (Fallout, Lesley M.M. Blume’s equally compelling story of how John Hersey circumvented the US military’s coverup of what really happened at Hiroshima, was published last August).

In the seventy-five years since those attacks, the human race has, on several precarious occasions, managed to avert the end of the world. But since then, it seems to me that the further away we have come since Hiroshima and Nagasaki the more people have truly forgotten how horrible atomic warfare could actually be.

This past Christmas I received a year’s subscription to WIRED Magazine. The very first copy I received was the February issue, which entirely devoted (for the first time, I believe) to a work of fiction, an excerpt of the novel 2034: A History of the Next World War by Admiral Jim Stavridis, USN (Ret.) and Elliot Ackerman.

As I read the excerpt, which vividly and realistically describes a expansive international conflict between China and the United States, I got the same terrifying feeling of dread I  felt when I first read Hiroshima.

It begins when a flotilla of US destroyers are lured into an elaborate trap while at the same time an advanced Navy fighter jet is inexplicably hijacked in mid-flight and grounded in Iran. From there, various characters from all over the world are drawn together as the drumbeat of war grows louder and no one at any level of the crisis seems to be inclined to stop the oncoming catastrophe. 

I had just finished reading 2034 on March 28th when the New York Times published the story below, which announced a 25-year alliance between China and Iran, which happened a mere 20 days after its publication: “China, With $400 Billion Iran Deal, Could Deepen Influence in Mideast”.

This novel, written by two veterans who have an extraordinary and extensive experience with the military and governmental affairs, is an alarming piece of speculative fiction that has every possibility of being prescient in EVERY sense of the word. I urge everyone to read it because if the prospect of this scenario doesn’t scare you shitless, I don’t know what will…

Additional (and IMPORTANT) Reading:  “What Did I Just Read? A Conversation With the Authors of ‘2034’”.

The Discon III Update

This past Sunday, the DisCon III convention committee issued an update on the current situation regarding the Wardman Park Hotel and whether or not the Worldcon would be virtual or in-person:
“Update on Convention Dates and Hotels”.

As you can see, there isn’t much to report on either front.

And seeing that we are on the cusp of April, I would not be pushing the panic button just yet. But if there isn’t any movement by mid to late May, I think the convention committee should seriously think about an all virtual convention.

If the American gets it act together and the vaccination rate reaches 90% or better by mid-summer, I think it MIGHT be safe to hold a full or partial in-person convention.

But until there’s some breaking news, all we can do is wait.

With some degree of measured optimism, I can truthfully say that  I’m fine with that.

The Dragoncon/Georgia Situation

By now, nearly every conrunner and convention committee knows what’s going on in the state of Georgia.

To wit; on Thursday, March 26, the Georgia House of Representatives and the state Senate passed SB202, a “voter reform bill”, in rapid fashion on that very same day. Governor Brian Kemp said that the bill was created mainly in response to what he referred to as allegations of “fraud and irregularities” and “five-hour-long lines at the polls” in the 2020 election. He also stated that the “election reforms” would restore “voter confidence” in the state’s election processes.

Oh, if only that were true.

Many critics of the bill have claimed that the creation of the bill and it’s rather astonishing rate of passage to Governor Kemp’s desk was in direct response to President Joe Biden’s narrow victory in the November elections, followed by the election of two Democratic US Senators in a special election held in early January of this year.

Some of the more odious parts of the legislation include the arbitrary removal of Georgia’s current chief elections officer, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and of any county’s board of elections should there be any recurrence of what the House and Senate obliquely determine to be “voting irregularities”. And never mind that the new law would also severely restrict voting by mail and outlaw the giving of food or water to any voters waiting in line to combat what the Republicans called “potential voting electioneering and influencing”.

What the governor and Georgia Republican state legislators conveniently forget to mention is that it was Kemp, as the previous Secretary of State in 2018, in league with the legislature, were responsible for a number of changes, including overseeing the removal of voting machines and the closing of polling places in majority black districts, which resulted in people waiting for many hours in line to cast their ballots.    

Compounding all of this was the arrest of Democratic representative Park Cannon, who was taken into custody and forcibly removed by five white Georgia State Troopers as she sought entry to witness Governor Kemp’s signing of SB202, which was being done in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office with the door marked with a “Governor’s Staff Only” sign. When Cannon knocked on the door, she was seized and handcuffed in a very humiliating manner and was subsequently charged with two felonies, felony obstruction and preventing or disrupting a general assembly session. (Representative Cannon was released on bail several hours later.)

Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be of any concern to organized fandom (I mean, besides the threat of voter voter suppression and a general threat to democracy) if it weren’t for the fact that Dragon Con, arguably one of the largest annual gathering of fans in the United States, is permanently headquartered in Georgia capitol, Atlanta.

As of this post, there has been no comment yet from the Dragon Con convention committee or its board of directors. I suspect that they are carefully weighing their options seeing that a number of progressive political activists are calling for a boycott of Georgia businesses, venues and events. It should be noted that a majority of their fan base has been known to lean to the right politically. But there is no telling how many of them outside that base will react to a pro or con statement from Dragon Con. 

Luckily (I suppose), for Dragon Con, the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing and while there are three vaccines in circulation at the moment, no one is quite sure whether or not it will be safe enough to attend a convention in person safely.

Having said that. Dragon Con can easily punt their way out of this situation by calling for a virtual convention and hoping that the growing numbers of activists, business, judicial and political forces can make Governor Kemp and Georgia Republican lawmakers see the error of their ways and just make this all go away.

But, as a major, for profit business concern in the state of Georgia, they cannot afford to do nothing. The longer they wait, the more complicit and compromised Dragon Con will be perceived by a significant number of fans. Enough fans, I would think, to affect either their standing in the community, their financial bottom line, or both.

They cannot escape making some sort of statement about the situation. As of this post, there hasn’t been any word from Dragon Con on this situation. The authors, editors, artists, cosplayers and fans who do care about the precarious state of affairs in the state of Georgia do have a tremendous amount of influence in fandom and have long memories as well.

Tick-Tock,Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock….  

Kurd Laßwitz Preis 2021 Finalists

The finalists for the 2021 Kurd Laßwitz Preis were announced on March 30. The award, named after German author Kurd Laßwitz, is given to works written in or translated into the German language and published during the previous year.

The German language editions of Stephen Baxter’s World Engines: Destroyer, James S. A. Corey’s Tiamat’s Wrath, William Gibson’s Agency, Christopher Paolini’s To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, Simon Stålenhag’s Tales from the Loop, and Tade Thompson’s Rosewater are some of the finalists for Best Foreign Novel.

And in the Best Translation category, the translators of  N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy, Simon Stålenhag’s Tales from the Loop, and Tade Thompson’s Rosewater are among the nominees.

Voting is open until May 31. The award ceremony will take place during PentaCon 12 on the first weekend in November in Dresden.

Best German language novel first published in 2020

  • Zoë Beck: Paradise City (Suhrkamp)
  • Gabriele Behrend: Salzgras & Lavendel (p.machinery)
  • Christoph Dittert: Fallender Stern (Piper)
  • Andreas Eschbach: Eines Menschen Flügel (Lübbe)
  • Tom Hillenbrand: Qube (Aus der Welt der Hologrammatica 2) (Tor)
  • Sameena Jehanzeb: Was Preema nicht weiß
  • Marc-Uwe Kling: QualityLand 2.0 (Ullstein)
  • Heribert Kurth: Unter den Sternen von Tha (p.machinery)
  • Michael Marrak: Anima ex Machina (2. Novellenroman des Kanon-Zyklus) (Edition Mono/Monochrom)
  • Uwe Post: E-Tot (Polarize)

Best German language short fiction first published in 2020:

  • Galax Acheronian: “Verloren auf Firr’Dars” in Hyper Orbis (Verlag für Moderne Phantastik)
  • Gabriele Behrend: “Meerwasser” in Unsere Freunde von ? Eridani (Begedia)
  • Christian Endres: “Der Klang sich lichtenden Nebels” in Der grüne Planet – Zukunft im Klimawandel (Hirnkost)
  • Kai Focke: “Gastropoda galactica” in Das Alien tanzt Walzer (p.machinery)
  • Heidrun Jänchen: “Mietnomaden” in Der grüne Planet – Zukunft im Klimawandel (Hirnkost)
  • Axel Kruse: “Grassoden in “2101 – Was aus uns wurde (Verlag für Moderne Phantastik)
  • Hans Jürgen Kugler: “Die Insulaner” in Der grüne Planet – Zukunft im Klimawandel (Hirnkost)
  • Christian Künne: “Friedensfahrt” in Rebellion in Sirius City (Verlag für Moderne Phantastik)
  • Thorsten Küper: “Unsere Freunde von ? Eridani” in Unsere Freunde von ? Eridani (Begedia)
  • Frank Lauenroth: “Delter” in Unsere Freunde von ? Eridani (Begedia)
  • Michael Marrak: “Insomnia” in Das Haus Lazarus (Memoranda)
  • Uwe Post: “Terra Halbpension” in Unsere Freunde von ? Eridani (Begedia)
  • Carsten Schmitt: “Wagners Stimme” in Wie künstlich ist Intelligenz? (Plan9)
  • Angela und Karlheinz Steinmüller: “Marslandschaften” in Exodus 41 und in Marslandschaften (Memoranda)

Best foreign novel first published in German in 2020:

  • Basma Abdel Aziz: Das Tor (Heyne)
  • Baoshu: Großes steht bevor in Zerbrochene Sterne (Heyne)
  • Stephen Baxter: Artefakt (Sternenpforte 1) (Heyne)
  • Agustina Bazterrica: Wie die Schweine (Suhrkamp)
  • James S. A. Corey: Tiamats Zorn (The Expanse 8) (Heyne)
  • William Gibson: Agency (Jackpot 2) (Tropen)
  • Zack Jordan: Last Human – Allein gegen die Galaxis (Heyne)
  • John Marrs: The Passengers – Du entscheidest über Leben und Tod (Heyne)
  • Christopher Paolini: Infinitum – Die Ewigkeit der Sterne (Knaur)
  • Samanta Schweblin: Hundert Augen (Suhrkamp)
  • Simon Stålenhag: Tales from the Loop (Tor)
  • Dennis E. Taylor: Die Singularitätsfalle (Heyne)
  • Jodi Taylor: Miss Maxwells chaotischer Zeitkompass (Die Chroniken von St. Mary’s 2) (Blanvalet)
  • Tade Thompson: Rosewater (Wormwood 1) (Golkonda)
  • David Wellington: Die letzte Astronautin (Piper)

Best translation into German first published in 2020

  • Henning Ahrens for the translation of Kira Jane Buxton’s Hollow Kingdom – Das Jahr der Krähe (Tor)
  • Larissa Bender for the translation of Basma Abdel Aziz’ Das Tor (Heyne)
  • Pia Biundo for the translation of Vlad Hernández’ Nemesis in Pandemie – Geschichten zur Zeitenwende (Hirnkost)
  • Biundo for the translation of Vlad Hernández’ Lebensstationen eines Idealisten in c’t 25/2020 (heise)
  • Susanne Gerold for the translation of N.K. Jemisin’s Die große Stille (3 Bände) (Knaur)
  • Oliver Hoffmann for the translation of Tanya Huff’s Im Dienst der Föderation (Confederation of Valor 1) (Plan9)
  • Eva Kemper for the translation of Katie Hale’s Mein Name ist Monster (Fischer)
  • Jürgen Langowski for the translation of Zack Jordan’s Last Human – Allein gegen die Galaxis (Heyne)
  • Stefan Pluschkat for the translation of Simon Stålenhag’s Tales from the Loop (Ur Varselklotet) (Tor)
  • Jakob Schmidt for the new translaton of Frank Herbert’s Die Kinder des Wüstenplaneten” (Der Wüstenplanet 3) (Heyne)
  • Jakob Schmidt for the translation of Tade Thompson’s Rosewater” (Wormwood 1) (Golkonda)

Best cover art first published in 2020

  • Lothar Bauer for the cover of Nova 29 (p.machinery)
  • Lothar Bauer for the cover of Das Alien tanzt Walzer (p.machinery)
  • Uli Bendick for the cover and interior illustrations of Der grüne Planet – Zukunft im Klimawandel (Hirnkost)
  • Dirk Berger for the cover of Exodus 40
  • Arndt Drechsler for the cover of Hyper Orbis (Verlag für Moderne Phantastik)
  • Jan Hoffmann for the cover of phantastisch! 79 (Atlantis)
  • Meike Schultchen for the cover of Cozmic 2 (Atlantis)
  • Michael Vogt for the cover of Pandemie – Geschichten zur Zeitenwende (Hirnkost)

Best German language audio drama first broadcast in 2020:

  • “Cassandra Rising” by Martin Heindel (Director: Martin Heindel, Composition: Ralf Haarmann, Production: WDR)
  • “Heaven Line – Traumstadt wird zur Todesfalle” by Bodo Traber (Director: Bodo Traber, Dramaturgy: Natalie Szallies, Production: WDR)
  • “Der zweite Schlaf” von Heinz Sommer nach dem Roman von Robert Harris (Director: Leonhard Koppelmann, Production: HR)

Special award for one-time outstanding achievements in SF in 2020

  • Hans Frey for his non-fiction books on the history of German science fiction, Fortschritt und Fiasko and Aufbruch in den Abgrund
  • Torben Kuhlmann for his illustrated book Einstein – Die fantastische Reise einer Maus durch Raum und Zeit
  • René Moreau and Hans Jürgen Kugler for the Publication of the SF anthologies Der grüne Planet – Zukunft im Klimawandel and Pandemie – Geschichten zur Zeitenwende

Special award for longterm outstanding achievements in SF in 2020

  • Freundeskreis Science Fiction Leipzig e.V. for the continuous organization of the ElsterCon, even in times of a pandemic
  • Rico Gehrke und Peggy Weber-Gehrke for supporting the SF short story through the anthologies in their publishing house for modern fantasy
  • Christina Hacker and the team of the PRFZ member magazine ” SOL “for their unpaid work full of energy and enthusiasm on the occasion of the 100th edition
  • Hardy Kettlitt for his Memoranda Verlag
  • Ralf Peter Krämer for 50 years of involvement in fandom from Stanislaw Lem Club to the Penta-Con
  • Dieter von Reeken for his services to the classic German SF and the history of the German-speaking SF
  • Science Fiction Club Deutschland e.V. for the promotion of SF literature for 65 years
  • Jörg Weigand for his tireless support, including young authors

2020 Aurealis Awards Shortlists

The shortlists for the 2020 Aurealis Awards were announced March 31 by the Continuum Foundation (ConFound). The award recognizes the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writers.

The panelists considered nearly 850 entries across the 15 categories to determine the finalists.

BEST CHILDREN’S FICTION

  • The Lost Soul Atlas, Zana Fraillon (Hachette Australia) 
  • Tricky Nick, Nicholas J Johnson (Pan Australia)
  • Across the Risen Sea, Bren MacDibble (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Chicken’s Curse,  Frances Watts (Allen & Unwin)
  • Hodgepodge: How to Make a Pet Monster, Lili Wilkinson, illustrated by Dustin Spence (Allen & Unwin)
  • Her Perilous Mansion, Sean Williams (Allen & Unwin)

BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL / ILLUSTRATED WORK

  • Action Tank: Book 2, Mike Barry (Mike Barry Was Here)
  • Under-Earth, Chris Gooch (Top Shelf)
  • The Grot, Pat Grant (Top Shelf / IDW)
  • The Odds, Matt Stanton (ABC Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

BEST YOUNG ADULT SHORT STORY

  • “Dingo & Sister”, Nikky Lee (Andromeda Spaceways Magazine #78) 
  • “Ram’s Revenge”, Nikky Lee (Aries, Deadset Press)
  • “Pea Soup”, Juliet Marillier (Mother Thorn and Other Tales of Courage and Kindness, Serenity Press)
  • “The Witching Well”, Juliet Marillier (Mother Thorn and Other Tales of Courage and Kindness, Serenity Press)
  • “Eat Prey, Love”, Freya Marske (Unnatural Order, CSFG)
  • “Kids These Days”, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Rebuilding Tomorrow, Twelfth Planet Press)

BEST HORROR SHORT STORY

  • “The Genetic Alchemist’s Daughter”, Elaine Cuyegkeng (Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women, Omnium Gatherum)
  • “The Bone Fairy”, Martin Livings (Midnight Echo 15, Australasian Horror Writers Association)
  • “Phoenix Pharmaceuticals”, Jessica Nelson-Tyers (Cancer, The Zodiac Series, #7, Deadset Press) 
  • “Many Mouths to Make a Meal”, Garth Nix (Final Cuts, Blumhouse/Anchor)
  • “How We Felt”, Helena O’Connor (Aurealis #136)

BEST HORROR NOVELLA

  • The Attic Tragedy, J Ashley-Smith (Meerkat Press)
  • The Cockroach King, Andrew Cull (Beneath Hell Publishing)
  • “Foundations”, Michael Gardner (Writers of the Future Volume 36, Galaxy Press)
  • “Bad Weather”, Robert Hood (Outback Horrors Down Under, Things in The Well)
  • “The Saltbush Queen”, Chris Mason (Outback Horrors Down Under, Things in The Well) 

BEST FANTASY SHORT STORY

  • “The Dead May Dance”, Nikky Lee (Midnight Echo 15, Australasian Horror Writers Association)
  • “Truth Be Told”, Louise Pieper (Unnatural Order, CSFG)
  • “The Case of the Somewhat Mythic Sword”, Garth Nix (Tor.com)
  • “Terracotta Daughter”, J Z Ting (Coppice & Brake, Crone Girls Press)
  • “A Solace of Shadows”, Suzanne J Willis (Three Crows Magazine #7)

BEST FANTASY NOVELLA

  • “Generation Gap”, Thoraiya Dyer (Clarkesworld #161)
  • “By Touch and By Glance”, Lisa L Hannett (Songs for Dark Seasons, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • “Dingo & Sister”, Nikky Lee (Andromeda Spaceways Magazine #78)
  • “Karkinos”, Nikky Lee (Cancer, Deadset Press)
  • The Frost Fair Affair, Tansy Rayner Roberts (self-published)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY

  • “Mary, Mary”, Fiona Bell (Aurealis #135) 
  • “The Genetic Alchemist’s Daughter”, Elaine Cuyegkeng (Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women, Omnium Gatherum)
  • “Pork Belly”, Jack Heath (Aurealis #129)
  • “Jack’s Fine Dining”, T R Napper (Neon Leviathan, Grimdark Magazine)
  • “Andrei Tarkovsky”, Ben Peek (Dimension6 #20)
  • “All the Stars in Her Eyes”, Deborah Sheldon (Andromeda Spaceways Magazine #80)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVELLA

  • “Jigsaw Children”, Grace Chan (Clarkesworld #161)
  • “Generation Gap”, Thoraiya Dyer (Clarkesworld #161))
  • “Dingo & Sister”, Nikky Lee (Andromeda Spaceways Magazine #78)
  • “The Weight of the Air, The Weight of the World”, T R Napper (Neon Leviathan, Grimdark Magazine) 

BEST COLLECTION

  • Songs for Dark Seasons, Lisa L Hannett (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Mother Thorn and Other Tales of Courage and Kindness, Juliet Marillier (Serenity Press)
  • Castle Charming, Tansy Rayner Roberts (self published)
  • Unreal Alchemy, Tansy Rayner Roberts (self published)
  • The Heart is a Mirror for Sinners and Other Stories, Angela Slatter (PS Publishing) 
  • Dark Harvest, Cat Sparks (NewCon Press)

BEST ANTHOLOGY

  • After Australia, Michael Mohammed Ahmad (Ed.) (Affirm Press)
  • Rebuilding Tomorrow, Tsana Dolichva (Ed.) (Twelfth Planet Press) 
  • The Zookeeper’s Tales of Interstellar Oddities, Aiki Flinthart & Pamela Jeffs (CAT Press)
  • Unnatural Order, Alis Franklin & Lyss Wickramasinghe (Eds.) (CSFG Publishing)
  • Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women, Lee Murray & Geneve Flynn (Eds.) (Omnium Gatherum)
  • Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, Jonathan Strahan (Ed.) (Solaris)

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

  • Future Girl, Asphyxia (Allen & Unwin)
  • Aurora Burning, Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Other Side of the Sky, Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)
  • Truel1f3, Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Left-Handed Booksellers of London, Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Erasure Initiative, Lili Wilkinson (Allen & Unwin) 

BEST HORROR NOVEL

  • Soul Survivor, Daniel de Lorne (Scarlo Media)
  • An Enigma in Silver, Simon Haynes (Bowman Press)
  • None Shall Sleep, Ellie Marney (Allen & Unwin) 
  • Monstrous Heart, Claire McKenna (Harper Voyager) 
  • Gutterbreed, Marty Young (Eclectic Trio Press)

BEST FANTASY NOVEL 

  • Hollow Empire, Sam Hawke (Transworld)
  • Monstrous Heart, Claire McKenna (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • The Left-Handed Booksellers of London, Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Vanishing Deep, Astrid Scholte (Allen & Unwin)
  • Conquist, Dirk Strasser (Chimaera Publications)
  • The Ninth Sorceress, Bonnie Wynne (Talem Press)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

  • Ghost Species, James Bradley (Penguin Random House)
  • Aurora Burning, Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
  • Fauna, Donna Mazza (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Animals in That Country, Laura Jean McKay (Scribe Publications) 
  • The Mother Fault, Kate Mildenhall (Simon & Schuster Australia)
  • Repo Virtual, Corey J White (Tor.com Publishing)

Pixel Scroll 3/30/21 Give Me A Long Enough Pixel And A Place To Scroll

(1) CHEN QUIFAN. Yi-Ling Liu has a profile of Chen Qiufan in the April WIRED.  The article has a wealth of detail about what it is like being a sf writer in China, including the news that if The Three-Body Problem had been published in China today instead of in 2008 it would be heavily censored. “Sci-Fi Writer or Prophet? The Hyperreal Life of Chen Qiufan”. Registration required.

… But in the past few years—a period that has seen China’s sci-fi authors elevated to the status of New Age prophets—Chen’s own career has become an object in the fun-house mirror. After The Waste Tide garnered widespread attention at home and abroad, reviewers began praising Chen as the “William Gibson of China,” and the tech industry has embraced him as a kind of oracle. An institute run by AI expert and venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee’s company has even developed an algorithm capable of writing fiction in the author’s voice. (Chen’s recent short story “The State of Trance,” which includes passages generated by the AI, nabbed first prize in a Shanghai literary competition moderated by an artificially intelligent judge, beating an entry written by Nobel Prize in Literature winner Mo Yan.) In China, it is the place of science fiction itself—and the status of writers like Chen—that have taken a turn toward the hyperreal….

(2) NOT TODAY’S TITLE: “A Mushroom You Can’t Smoke? That’s A Non-Tokeable Fungi!” The genius that is Daniel Dern strikes again.

(3) FLUSHED WITH PRIDE. James Davis Nicoll is impressed with these “Five Thrilling SFF Works About Meticulously Planned Infrastructure” at Tor.com.

Sure, there’s a lot of entertainment value in grand set piece battles, personal duels, or even two wizards engaging in a magical combat to the death. But there are those of us who enjoy a more arcane pleasure: edge of the seat thrills as protagonists struggle to build vast infrastructure projects. I would argue that providing London with a functional sewer system was more exciting than defeating the French at Trafalgar….

His first specimen is A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! by Harry Harrison (1972).

(4) A HAMMERLOCK ON FAME. “William Shatner to Be Inducted Into the WWE Hall of Fame” reports Comicbook.com.

WWE announced on Tuesday that the latest inductee into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame will be none other than Star Trek star William Shatner. The original Captain Kirk popped up on WWE programming a few times, including his famous 1995 appearance where he flipped Jerry “The King” Lawler and his turn as the celebrity guest general manager for Monday Night Raw in 2010.

This year’s induction ceremony will take place inside the WWE ThunderDome on April 6 and will induct both the Class of 2020 and 2021 after last year’s ceremony was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

(5) MY BIG FAT RED WEDDING. Io9 says Game of Thrones will also inspire a Broadway spinoff: “Game of Thrones Broadway: Key Westeros History Coming to Stage”.

Though the show is long gone, fans of Game of Thrones have plenty to look forward to. There will be more George R.R. Martin books (hopefully), multiple new HBO shows, and now there will be a stage production that’ll go back in time to fill in a key part of Westeros history.

Sixteen years before the events in Martin’s first novel, as well as the TV show, was the Great Tourney at Harrenhal—an event often referred to because many of the major players from across Westeros were there, either competing in, or enjoying, various competitions. Think of it almost like the Westeros Olympics. At the end of the event, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen declared his love for Lyanna Stark, a young woman who was already promised to Robert Baratheon. The event led to Robert overthrowing the Targaryens and basically starting the events that took place in the novels and series….

(6) CONTROVERSIAL MANIFESTO. “Writers in culture war over rules of the imagination”The Guardian visits the front lines.

It’s a venerable global cultural institution, dedicated to freedom of expression and set to celebrate its centenary this year. Yet the writers’ association PEN is being drawn into dispute over a declaration claiming the right of authors to imagination, allowing them to describe the world from the point of view of characters from other cultural backgrounds.

At issue is a charter manifesto, The Democracy of the Imagination, passed unanimously by delegates of PEN International at the 85th world congress in Manila in 2019. A year on , through the social upheavals of 2020, PEN’s US arm, PEN America, has not endorsed the manifesto, which includes the principle: “PEN believes the imagination allows writers and readers to transcend their own place in the world to include the ideas of others.”

While welcoming the commitment to freedom of expression, officials at PEN America indicate that aspects of the declaration might be perceived as straying into the contentious territory of cultural appropriation.

A spokesperson for PEN America told the Observer that the manifesto had not been explicitly rejected – two members of PEN America helped draft it – but “that does not necessarily indicate that we as PEN America formally endorse that action on behalf of our staff or board”.

PEN International’s “The Democracy of the Imagination Manifesto” says —

Pen International Upholds The Following Principles:

  • We defend the imagination and believe it to be as free as dreams.
  • We recognize and seek to counter the limits faced by so many in telling their own stories.
  • We believe the imagination accesses all human experience, and reject restrictions of time, place, or origin.
  • We know attempts to control the imagination may lead to xenophobia, hatred and division.
  • Literature crosses all real and imagined frontiers and is always in the realm of the universal.

(7) VERKLEMPT READERS. The New York Times absolutely knows “How Crying on TikTok Sells Books”.

…An app known for serving up short videos on everything from dance moves to fashion tips, cooking tutorials and funny skits, TikTok is not an obvious destination for book buzz. But videos made mostly by women in their teens and 20s have come to dominate a growing niche under the hashtag #BookTok, where users recommend books, record time lapses of themselves reading, or sob openly into the camera after an emotionally crushing ending.

These videos are starting to sell a lot of books, and many of the creators are just as surprised as everyone else.

“I want people to feel what I feel,” said Mireille Lee, 15, who started @alifeofliterature in February with her sister, Elodie, 13, and now has nearly 200,000 followers. “At school, people don’t really acknowledge books, which is really annoying.”

…“These creators are unafraid to be open and emotional about the books that make them cry and sob or scream or become so angry they throw it across the room, and it becomes this very emotional 45-second video that people immediately connect with,” said Shannon DeVito, director of books at Barnes & Noble. “We haven’t seen these types of crazy sales — I mean tens of thousands of copies a month — with other social media formats.”…

(8) OVERWROUGHT SKEPTIC. Everything Wrong With did Galaxy Quest recently:

Galaxy Quest is so good it hurts. It’s one of the best Star Trek movies ever made. It’s hilarious. We love it. Still has sins.

(9) EVERYBODY DROPS. NOBODY SPLATS. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] There’s this long but pretty interesting video at Brows Held High that says it’s about Starship Troopers, but is, at least in part 1, much more about Heinlein in general — it references many of his works, including, believe it or not, Farnham’s Freehold. (Any further parts aren’t released yet but probably will be soon; Kyle is reasonably reliable about his YouTube drops.) It also has an interesting dual generation take, where Kyle interviews his folks about their take on Heinlein’s work, as his father is an engineer who’s a huge Heinlein fan, and his family has a long history of military service.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1996 – Twenty-five  years ago, Paul J. McAuley wins the Clarke Award for Fairyland which had been published by Victor Gollancz Ltd the previous year. The other nominated novels were Ken MacLeod’s The Star Fraction, Patricia Anthony’s The Happy Policeman, Stephen Baxter’s The Time Ships, Christopher Priest’s The Prestige and Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age. It would also win the John W. Campbell Memorial and Arthur C. Clarke Awards.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 30, 1746 – Francisco Goya.  Some of what this painter achieved is very strange.  Here is The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters on the cover of Haunted.  Here is The Spell on the cover of The October Country.  Here is Fantastic Vision on the cover of Positions and Presuppositions in SF.  (Died 1828) [JH]
  • Born March 30, 1853 – Vincent Van Gogh.  Another painter whose work can be very strange.  Here is Starry Night on the cover of Orphans of the Sky.  Here is Wheatfield with Crows.  Here is The Night Café on the cover of Campbell & Baker’s anthology of stories and poems it inspired.  Here is a self-portrait.  (Died 1890) [JH]
  • Born March 30, 1906 – Dirce Archer.  Served a term as President of PSFA (Pittsburgh SF Ass’n).  Half a dozen reviews in Astounding that I know of.  By 1961 she said of herself, “Primarily a book collector now.  Used to do batik, clay modelling, water colors, but am now too nervous to do art” – after chairing Pittcon the 19th Worldcon.  (Died 1972) [JH]
  • Born March 30, 1904 Herbert van Thal. Editor of the Pan Book of Horror Stories series ran twenty-four  volumes from 1959 to 1983. Back From the Dead: The Legacy of the Pan Book of Horror Stories is a look at the series and it contains Lest You Should Suffer Nightmares, the first biography of him written by Pan Book of Horror Stories expert Johnny Mains. (Died 1983.) (CE) 
  • Born March 30, 1914 – Francis T. Laney.  Active in his local club, and The Acolyte (Lovecraft fanzine), but what made him famous, or notorious, was his 130-page Ah! Sweet Idiocy! blistering us with how bad we were.  Read it for its writing, not its accuracy; there is, of course, all too much truth in it.  (Died 1958) [JH]
  • Born March 30, 1928 Chad Oliver. Writer of both Westerns and SF, a not uncommon occupation at the time he was active. He considered himself an anthropological science fiction writer whose training as an academic informed his fiction, an early Le Guin if you will. Not a terribly prolific writer with just nine novels and two collections to his name over a forty year span. Mists of Dawn, his first novel, is a YA novel  which I’d recommend as it reads a lot to similar what Heinlein would write. (Died 1993.) (CE) 
  • Born March 30, 1933 Anna Ruud. Dr. Ingrid Naarveg in the Three Stooges film Have Rocket — Will Travel. Hey it is genre of a sorts, isn’t it? It’s a really fun film which is in the public domain so enjoy watching it here. On a more serious note, she was Doctor Sigrid Bomark in 12 to the Moon. She had one-offs in Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Girl from U.N.C.L.E. and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Died 2018.) (CE) 
  • Born March 30, 1948 Jeanne Robinson. She co-wrote the Stardance Saga with her husband Spider Robinson. Stardance won the Hugo Award for Best Novella at IguanaCon II. To my knowledge, her only other piece of writing was ‘Serendipity: Do, Some Thoughts About Collaborative Writing‘ which was published in the MagiCon Program Book. (Died 2010.) (CE)
  • Born March 30, 1950 Robbie Coltrane, 71. I first saw him playing Dr. Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald on Cracker way back in the Ninties. Not genre, but an amazing role none-the-less. He was Valentin Dmitrovich Zhukovsky in GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough, with a much less prominent role as a man at an airfield in Flash Gordon being his first genre role. Being Rubeus Hagrid in the Potter franchise was his longest running genre gig. He’s also voiced both Mr. Hyde in the Van Helsing film and Gregory, a mouse, in The Tale of Despereaux film. (CE)
  • Born March 30, 1958 Maurice LaMarche, 63. Voice actor primarily for such roles as The Brain on the Pinky and The Brain series (which Stross makes use of in The Laundry series) with Pinky modeled off Orson Welles, the entire cast as near as I can tell of Futurama, the villain Sylar on Heroes, the voice of Orson Welles in Ed Wood, a less serious Pepé Le Pew in Space Jam, and, though maybe not genre, he’s voiced  Kellogg’s Froot Loops spokesbird Toucan Sam and  the animated Willy Wonka character in Nestlé’s Willy Wonka Candy Company commercials. (CE)
  • Born March 30, 1975 – Wendy Isdell, Ph.D., D.D., age 46.  Two novels.  Likes Barbara Hambly for characterization and style.  Plays classical guitar.  “Can also tie things into knots with my feet….  Anyone who claims to be sane is simply clinging to the illusion that they agree with what everyone else says reality should be.  Sorry.  I don’t subscribe to that publication.  (I used to, but the cover price became too high so I bought Reader’s Digest instead.)”  [JH]
  • Born March 30, 1991 – Michelle IzmaylovM.D., age 30.  Five novels.  Aristine Mann Award.  Also loves drawing and painting.  First published at age 14.  Resident physician at Vanderbilt Univ. Medical Center.   “After a tough day … I sit down and write.”  [JH]

(12) KEEP YOUR DOCTORS STRAIGHT. “Pierce Brosnan joins Black Adam as Doctor Fate, who is not Doctor Strange” explains Yahoo!

Big news in the world of superhero casting, aTHR reports that Pierce Brosnan has joined Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam movie, where he’ll play DC superhero sorcerer Doctor Fate, who is not Doctor Strange. This will be Brosnan’s first indulgence in the world of super-powered cinematic throwdowns, taking on the role of Kent Nelson, an American archeologist (played, obviously, by a British man), who stumbles onto vast magical powers while exploring a foreign country, and yet is not, against all odds, Doctor Strange…

(13) DON’T PLAY WITH THAT! IGN tells where “LEGO Star Wars Darth Vader Helmet and More Sets Are Up for Preorder”. Kylo Ren would buy one of these.

…There’s a Darth Vader helmet, a Scout Trooper helmet, and an Imperial Probe Droid. All three sets will be available April 26, but you can preorder them now on Amazon.

LEGO says these sets are geared toward adults and experienced LEGO makers. They’re not designed to be played with; they’re designed to be displayed. They come with stands and placards so you can put them on your desk or bookshelf….

(14) ALWAYS BE CLOSING. Charles Seife’s biography Hawking Hawking regards Stephen Hawking as a “scientific celebrity”:

Stephen Hawking was widely recognized as the world’s best physicist and even the most brilliant man alive–but what if his true talent was self-promotion? When Stephen Hawking died, he was widely recognized as the world’s best physicist, and even its smartest person. He was neither. A brilliant exposé and powerful biography, Hawking Hawking uncovers the authentic Hawking buried underneath the fake. It is the story of a man whose brilliance in physics was matched by his genius for building his own myth.

(15) TICKED OFF. [Item by David Doering.] Another funny story. Swatch and Apple are in court over using the phrase “One more thing…” (Yeah, go figure.) The British judge concluded, however, that while:

Steve Jobs had used the phrase, it had probably been borrowed from television detective Columbo.

Not often does a fictional hero hold sway over a legal decision in a court of law. “Apple loses latest round of legal fight with Swatch over ‘one more thing’ phrase”.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Bravely Default II,” on YouTube, Fandom Games says that this game features “bland do-gooders shaped like bobbleheads” and “will make you regress into your childhood like an adult eating a Lunchable,”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Jennifer Hawthorne, Andrew Porter, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Rob Thornton, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, John Hertz, David Doering, Daniel Dern, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

BSFS Shares Outcome of Investigation Into Harassment Complaints

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society has released the results of an outside investigation into four allegations that Balticon 54 committee member and forthcoming Balticon 55 chair Eric Gasior violated the club’s Code of Conduct. (See also “BSFS Opens New Investigation of Harassment Complaints”.)

The investigator, a Maryland attorney who specializes in employment law and also conducts HR training on the avoidance of illegal discrimination and harassment in the workplace, found that two complaints about “conduct in personal relationships” were unsubstantiated, while concluding that two complaints about the treatment of Balticon 54 volunteers was substantiated.

The BSFS Board of Directors has asked Gasior to resign as Chair of Balticon 55. Vice Chair Yakira Heistand will take over as this year’s con chair.

The club’s press release says —


The investigation has been completed into allegations that Eric Gasior violated the Code of Conduct of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS”). The investigator found that two complaints about conduct in personal relationships were unsubstantiated. Complaints were substantiated about the treatment of Balticon Tech Department volunteers during preparations for Balticon 54.

The BSFS Board has asked Mr. Gasior to resign as Chair of the upcoming Balticon 55, which also entails no longer serving on the BSFS Board. Ms. Yakira Heistand will move up from Vice Chair and will serve as the Chair of the Con. The Board is taking other steps recommended by an independent investigator to make organizational improvements including providing anti-harassment training for all BSFS leadership, requiring all BSFS volunteers to sign the Code of Conduct, and creating new policies on handling Code of Conduct investigations.

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (“BSFS”) received complaints against Eric Gasior from four people who claimed that Mr. Gasior had violated the BSFS Code of Conduct and/or engaged in other actions inconsistent with a leadership position within the organization. Mr. Gasior was Vice Chair of BSFS’s Balticon 54 and was elected to serve as Con Chair of Balticon 55. Both positions are part of the Board of Directors.

The BSFS Board is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all attendees and volunteers at BSFS events and Balticon. Any complaints of Code of Conduct violations are taken very seriously. To resolve concerns that the Board did not make an effective response to the complaints against Mr. Gasior, we retained Melissa Menkel McGuire, Esq. of Wright, Constable & Skeen, LLC to conduct an independent, thorough, and fair investigation of the complaints against Mr. Gasior.

The full report is not being released to protect the privacy of the complainants, witnesses, and Mr. Gasior. Further, maintaining confidentiality creates an environment in which people will feel comfortable reporting issues of harassment, discrimination and other violations of the Code of Conduct while protecting the integrity of investigations.

The nature of the complaints and the investigator’s conclusions are as follows:

Complaint #1: Mr. Gasior failed to respect personal boundaries during a friendship with the complainant, who also expressed concern over Mr. Gasior’s leadership role at BSFS.

This complaint was found unsubstantiated.

Complaint # 2: Mr. Gasior failed to respect personal boundaries in a prior personal relationship in 2015 and 2016. The allegations were unrelated to any BSFS event. The complainant’s articulated reason for submitting the complaint to BSFS was due to a concern about Mr. Gasior having a position of power within BSFS.

This complaint was found unsubstantiated.

Complaints #3 and #4: Two people complained that Mr. Gasior engaged in actions that were disruptive to members of the Technical Department during preparations for Balticon 54.

The investigator found that these complaints were substantiated.

The BSFS Board is taking the following actions in response to seven recommendations in Ms. McGuire’s report:

1. The Board has informed the complainants of the results of their individual complaints. A copy of the investigation report will not be provided to any party. The report is subject to attorney-client privilege and the Board is not waiving this privilege on the advice of counsel.

2. The Board will release a public statement addressing the disposition of all complaints without identifying complainants by name. In further respect of the privacy of complainants and witnesses no details beyond the text of this statement will be released.

3. Under the BSFS By-Laws, the Board does not have the power to remove Mr. Gasior as Chair of Balticon 55. He has not agreed our request to voluntarily step aside from that position. Accordingly, his continuance as Con Chair and member of the Board is subject to a review by the BSFS membership at the monthly meeting on April 10, 2021.

4. Effective immediately, all volunteers are required to sign an acknowledgment that they have read the Code of Conduct and will abide by its requirements. Submissions from current volunteers are due not later than May 1, 2021. New volunteers will meet this requirement at the beginning of their service. An online form will be provided in the near future to accomplish this.

5. The Board will develop and adopt a policy and guidance for conducting any future investigations of Code of Conduct violations.

6. An anti-harassment training program for all BSFS and Balticon leadership and critical personnel will be implemented to minimize the potential for Code of Conduct violations at Balticon, BSFS events, or through BSFS controlled communication channels. The program will include a requirement for documenting training completion. A guidance document will be provided to volunteers in other positions. The program will be implemented before the return to in-person Balticons.

7. The Board will explore ways to improve communications within the Balticon Committee and strengthen our ability to treat our volunteers with the respect they deserve.

The Baltimore Science Fictions Society, Inc., a 501(c)(3) all volunteer organization, exists to promote the creation and appreciation of science fiction and fantasy cultural arts primarily through literary art forms, but also embracing the many related graphical, musical, and theatrical creations inspired by SF. The public is welcome to attend a variety of BSFS sponsored events. Please see the calendar on www.bsfs.org/bsfscldr.htm for the current event calendar.


Mourlevat Wins 2021 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

The 2021 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award laureate is French author Jean-Claude Mourlevat. 

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) is the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature. The award, which amounts to SEK 5 million, is given annually to a single laureate or to several. Authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and reading promoters are eligible. The award is designed to promote interest in children’s and young adult literature. 

Jean-Claude Mourlevat is one of France’s leading children and young adult authors. Since his publishing debut in 1997, he has written more than 30 books which have been translated into nearly 20 languages.

Citation of the Jury:

Jean-Claude Mourlevat is a brilliant renewer of fairy tale traditions, open to both hardship and beauty. Time and space are suspended in his fictional worlds, and eternal themes of love and longing, vulnerability and war are portrayed in precise and dreamlike prose. Mourlevat’s ever-surprising work pins the fabric of ancient epic onto a contemporary reality.

About Jean-Claude Mourlevat: Born in 1952 in Ambert, a village in the French region of Auvergne, Jean-Claude Mourlevat made his authorial debut IN 1997 with the picture book Histoire de l’enfant et de l’oeuf. Since then, Mourlevat has worked as a writer full-time. He lives near Saint-Étienne with his wife and two children.

Selected works: L’Enfant océan (The Pull of the Ocean), published in 1999, garnered acclaim and introduced Jean-Claude Mourlevat to a wider international audience. In this episodic work we follow seven siblings, two of whom are twins, on their journey away from a threatening home.

The award-winning young adult novel Le combat d’hiver (Winter Song) from 2006 has been translated into 20 languages. It centers around four parentless students at a boarding school with extremely harsh and repressive rules.

Le chagrin du roi mort (2009) is a fairy tale in which the survival of an entire people is at stake. The story unfolds on a peaceful island somewhere in the north. When the beloved king dies, the peace is threatened. Courage, self-sacrifice and solidarity are put to the test when confronted with evil, barbarism and war.

In Jean-Claude Mourlevat’s most recent book, Jefferson(2018), the main character is a hedgehog who loves to read. When he is wrongfully accused of murder, he goes on the run, and his novel-reading habit takes on critical importance.

Official website: http://www.jcmourlevat.com

[Based on a press release.]

2021 International Booker Prize Longlist

The 13-title 2021 International Booker Prize longlist includes The Employees written by Olga Ravn, a Dane and a 2019 Niels Klim Award winner, and five other works of genre interest — 

  • I Live in the Slums by Can Xue, translated from Chinese by Karen Gernant & Chen Zeping (Yale University Press)
  • At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop, translated from French by Anna Mocschovakis (Pushkin Press)
  • The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez, translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell (Granta Books)
  • When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut, translated from Spanish by Adrian Nathan West (Pushkin Press)
  • The Perfect Nine: The Epic Gikuyu and Mumbi by Ngugi wa Thiong’o, translated by the author from Gikuyu (Harvill Secker)

The longlist was selected by Lucy Hughes-Hallett (chair); Aida Edemariam; Neel Mukherjee; Olivette Otele; and George Szirtes. 

The complete longlist follows the jump.

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 3/29/21 Listen, Billy Pixel’s Come Unscrolled In File

(1) WOOKIEEPEDIA CONTROVERSY RESOLVED. The Wookieepedia editors’ vote on an “Amendment to naming policy for real-world transgender individuals” discussed in yesterday’s Scroll (Item #2) has been rendered moot by management’s decision that the status quo – using deadnames from production credits – violates the company’s Terms of Use:

…With the creation of our Community Safety team, we have an opportunity to lead on an evolving topic in society at large. That’s why we’ve been actively monitoring this conversation over the last week, including working with members of Wookieepedia’s administration knowing that there are a lot of opinions involved here.

Having reviewed the situation, and in keeping with the evolving understanding of these issues, Fandom has determined that, while it may not have been the intention, knowingly using a deadname in an article title is a violation of our Terms of Use. This is a global determination, meaning it applies to all wikis—including Wookieepedia. Since this supersedes local policies, this vote should be closed and policies should be updated to reflect the Terms of Use. The policy proposal here fits with our Terms of Use. Returning to the previous status quo (deferring to credits despite someone stating what their chosen name is) does not….

This is a final decision and Fandom staff will not be participating in a debate here or elsewhere right now. We will be discussing the topic of content related to the transgender community in greater detail with the Fandom community at large in the near future. We are committed to working with our community, internal teams, and outside experts to build a comprehensive framework to help guide our communities on how to properly create content relating to both fictional characters and real-life individuals who do not fit into outmoded definitions of identity and gender. Our goal is to provide an educational and growth framework for those who do not have real-life experience in these topics but want to learn more about creating inclusive content.

Our communities often spend much time debating the nuance of canon or the particulars of a given content policy, but we must also be willing to engage in challenging conversations about the nuance of external factors surrounding these topics. To that end, when wiki content is talking about real human beings with real needs, they must be respected.

(2) PLUMBING THE DEPTHS. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune calls on a scientist to answer “Which superhero should we call if the Suez Canal gets plugged again?”

…Our first thought was this is obviously a job for Superman, or someone nearly as strong like Thor, Wonder Woman or even the Incredible Hulk.

“Global supply chain blockage make Hulk mad! Hulk smash!” is how we imagine that would play out.

Not so fast, says our friendly neighborhood physics professor.

In addition to being an expert in stuff like amorphous semiconductors, University of Minnesota professor James Kakalios has pondered the physical properties of the superpowerful in his book, “The Physics of Superheroes.”

Kakalios explained that a 1,300-foot-long ship is designed to have its weight supported by water under the length of its hull. So a brute force effort by a single superhero could be counterproductive.

“Tanker ships are not meant to be picked up,” Kakalios said. “Even if supported under its center of mass, there would be enormous twisting forces, called torques, that would snap the vessel in half.”

Kakalios suggested that a better superhero for the job would be DC Comics’ Aquaman or Marvel Comics’ Namor the Sub-Mariner….

(3) FUTURE TENSE. Released this week, the latest in the monthly series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives: “The Trolley Solution” by Shiv Ramdas, about a college professor pitted against a machine. This is the third and final entry in their recent series about the future of learning.

From the moment the text message arrived with an aggressive ping, Ahmed knew something was amiss. Oh, it read innocuously enough, just the one line from Niyati asking if they could have a chat, but he knew better. It was still two weeks before his meeting with the tenure committee, which made it unexpected. Plus, it was Those Words. Whenever someone said that they wanted to have a chat, what they actually meant was that they had something to say to you that they knew you wouldn’t like one bit…. 

It was published along with a response essay by Katina Michael, a scholar of technology, policy, and society: “’The Trolley Solution’: How much of higher ed can be automated?”

Imagine a university without any teachers, just peer learners, open-access resources, and an office space full of high-speed internet-enabled computers, accessible to anyone between 18–30 years of age, regardless of any prior learning. That university is called 42. It does not have any academic instructors; the teachers are the self-starting students who have their eyes set on a job in Big Tech. Aided only by a problem-based learning curriculum, students gain a certificate of completion about three to five years after starting out. They are guaranteed internships in some of the world’s most prestigious firms and have set their sights on launching their careers as coders. 42’s philosophy is steeped in peer-to-peer learning, where human learners themselves spearhead the learning process….

(4) RELEASING A BOOK DURING THE PANDEMIC. Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore presents S.B. Divya, C.L. Clark, Arkady Martine, and Premee Mohamed in conversation on Friday, April 9, 2021 – 2:00 p.m. (Pacific). Register here.

S.B. Divya is a lover of science, math, fiction, and the Oxford comma. She enjoys subverting expectations and breaking stereotypes whenever she can. Divya is the Hugo and Nebula–nominated author of Runtime and co-editor of Escape Pod, with Mur Lafferty. Machinehood is her debut novel from Saga Press.

C.L. Clark graduated from Indiana University’s creative writing MFA. She’s been a personal trainer, an English teacher, and an editor, and is some combination thereof as she travels the world. Her short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, FIYAH, PodCastle and Uncanny. 

Arkady Martine is a speculative fiction writer and, as Dr. AnnaLinden Weller, a historian of the Byzantine Empire and a city planner. Under both names, she writes about border politics, rhetoric, propaganda, and the edges of the world.

Premee Mohamed is a scientist and writer with degrees in molecular genetics and environmental science, but hopes that readers of her fiction will not hold that against her. Her short speculative fiction has been published in a variety of venues.

(5) SPY QUEEN. Francis Hamit is on the third segment of today’s Matthews and Friends podcast talking about his alternative history spy novel, The Queen of Washington. Hamit says, “I go into how I do research, so that may interest some people.” Here is the link: “Matthews and Friends” (3-29-21).

(6) @EATONVERSE IS BACK. Andrew Lippert announced that the official twitter of the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy at UC Riverside is returning to active status. “It will primarily be used to share items and documents from the collections that spark interest or are discovered while processing and working with the collections.” Here’s one of their latest tweets:

(7) STARTING THE NEXT CENTURY. Bradbury 101, produced by Phil Nichols, is a sequel to last year’s audio podcast series, Bradbury 100, which celebrated the centenary year of Bradbury. Here’s what Episode 04 is about —

THE ILLUSTRATED MAN is Ray Bradbury’s 1951 short story collection. As a follow-up to the previous year’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, it secured Bradbury’s reputation as a science fiction writer of quality – and at the same time saddled him with the label “science fiction writer” even though most of his fiction after this point was NOT science fiction.

(8) CRACKED FACTS. Item #2 in Cracked’s “13 Scintillating Now-You-Know Facts About Movies, Science, And More” from March 28 remarkably gets some things wrong that were not wrong in the cited source article from Racked (“Meet the Woman Who Invented Cosplay”). Like, Forrest J Ackerman (the unnamed guy) and Morojo (her fan name) were never married.

(9) SHATNER’S 90TH BIRTHDAY WISDOM. “William Shatner Explains Star Trek’s Continued Popularity: ‘We’re on the Verge of Extinction’”. Don’t you know we’re on the eve of destruction? Shat does.

For more than 50 years, even though eras when the franchise was in a lull, Star Trek fandom has been vibrant and strong. Upon his 90th birthday, and turning himself into artificial intelligence, original Star Trek series star William Shatner reflected on why Gene Roddenberry’s vision has so firmly stood the test of time and why it seems to resonate even more strongly today. Shatner was blunt with the situation we find ourselves in during an appearance on PeopleTV‘s Couch Surfing, stating that “We’re on the verge of extinction. We are poisoning ourselves out of life, and the Earth will survive and this little cancer, mankind, that’s growing all around her will die off the way a body gets a temperature and kills the germs off. Mother Earth will get rid of us because we’re a pestilence. But we don’t have to be. And we can join with the rest of life that makes it here on Earth with equanimity.”

(10) NIMOY MONUMENT PLANNED. “Nimoy Family and Boston’s Museum of Science Announce Vulcan Salute Monument” reports StarTrek.com. The project was announced on Nimoy’s birthday, March 26.

The Museum of Science, Boston, one of the world’s largest science centers and one of Boston’s most popular attractions, in collaboration with the family of Leonard Nimoy, legendary actor of the historic television series, Star Trek, today, announced the development of a monument honoring the Boston native to be located at the Museum of Science.

The 20-foot, illuminated, stainless steel monument, designed by artist David Phillps, will be shaped in the famous “Live Long and Prosper” hand gesture that the actor’s character Mister Spock was known for. It will be located in front of the Museum, at Science Park, welcoming visitors and Star Trek fans from around the world.

The Museum wants to raise a million dollars for the Leonard Nimoy Memorial.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • March 29, 1968 –On this date in 1968, Star Trek’s “Assignment: Earth” first aired as part of the second season. Guest starring Robert Lansing as Gary Seven and Terri Garr as Roberta Lincoln, our crew which has time-travelled to 1968 Earth for historical research encounters an interstellar agent and Isis, his cat, who are planning to intervene in Earth history. It was intended as a pilot for an Assignment: Earth series that Gene Roddenberry planned but that never happened.

Interesting note: The uncredited human form of Isis was portrayed by actress, dancer, and contortionist April Tatro, not Victoria Verti, actress (in Rosemary’s Baby under the name of Angela Dorian) and Playboy Playmate of the previous year, as would become part of Trek lore.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 29, 1914 – Roy Hunt.  Program Book for Denvention I the 3rd Worldcon.  Here is his cover.  Here is the Pacificon I Combozine (4th Worldcon).  Here is a cover for The Gorgon, used on five issues 1947-1948.  Here is an illustration for “The Ghost” (Van Vogt, 1948).  Here is vol. 1 no. 2 of Fantasy Book.  Here is the LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) coat of arms, which he designed.  Here is the Dec 59 New Frontiers.  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born March 29, 1926 – Tom Adams.  Two short stories, eight covers, five interiors for us; much else, poetry prints, light shows e.g The Jimi Hendrix Experience, covers for Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie; a copy of AC’s Death in the Clouds with TA’s cover appears in the Dr. Who episode “The Unicorn and the Wasp” (10th Doctor).  Here is Needle in a Timestack.  Here is Patron of the Arts.  (Died 2019) [JH]
  • Born March 29, 1930 John Astin, 91. He is best known for playing as Gomez Addams in Addams Family, reprising it on the Halloween with the New Addams Family film and the Addams Family animated series. A memorable later role would be as Professor Wickwire in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., and I’d like to single out his delightfully weird appearance on The Wild Wild West as Count Nikolai Sazanov in “The Night of the Tartar” episode. (CE) 
  • Born March 29, 1943 Eric Idle, 78. Monty Python is genre, isn’t it? If not, I know that The Adventures of Baron MunchausenYellowbeardMonty Python and the Holy GrailQuest for CamelotShrek the Third and Nearly Departed, an updated version of Topper, which he all had a hand in certainly are. And it turns out he’s written a witty SF novel, The Road to Mars: A Post-Modern Novel, which involves an Android, comedy and interplanetary travel. (CE)
  • Born March 29, 1944 – Linn Prentis.  Began working as an agent for Virginia Kidd, then her own agency with offices in Washington State and New York.  Among her clients, Kage Baker, Patricia Briggs, Rick Bowes, A.M. Dellamonica, James Morrow.  Prentis Literary continues.  (Died 2016 – on December 24th, alas) [JH]
  • Born March 29, 1947 Patricia Anthony. Flanders is one damn scary novel. A ghost story set in WW I it spooked me for nights after I read it and I don’t spook easily. Highly recommended.  James Cameron purchased the movie rights to  her Brother Termite novel and John Sayles wrote a script, but the movie has not been produced. (Died 2013.) (CE) 
  • Born March 29, 1956 Mary Gentle, 65. Her trilogy of Rats and GargoylesThe Architecture of Desire and Left to His Own Devices is a stunning work of alternate history with magic replacing science. I also highly recommend her Grunts! novel. Gamers particularly will love it. She has a cyberpunk novel, Left To His Own Devices, but I’ve not read it. Who here has read it? I’m surprised that she hasn’t been nominated for any Hugo Awards according to ISFDB database. (CE) 
  • Born March 29, 1957 Elizabeth Hand, 64. Not even going to attempt to summarize her brilliant career. I will say that my fav works by her are Wylding HallIllyria and Mortal Love. We did do an entire edition at Green Man on her and I need to update it to the present site. It’s got a neat conversation with her on what her favorite foods are. (CE) 
  • Born March 29, 1963 – Michelle Mitchell-Foust, Ph.D., age 58.  Two poetry books; two anthologies (with Tony Barnstone), Poems Dead and Undead and Poems Human and Inhuman (also called Monster Verse).  Elixir Press Poetry Prize, Columbia University Poetry Prize, Missouri Arts Council Biennial Award.  [JH]
  • Born March 29, 1968 Lucy Lawless, 53. Xena in Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Cylon model Number Three D’Anna Biers on that Battlestar Galactica series. She also played Countess Palatine Ingrid von Marburg, the last of a line of Germanic witches on the Salem series. Her most recent genre role as Ruby Knowby, one of the Dark Ones, on the Ash vs Evil Dead series. Though not genre, she was Lucretia in  Spartacus: Blood and Sand, its prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena and its sequel Spartacus: Vengeance. (CE) 
  • Born March 29, 1978 –  Nerine Dorman, age 43.  Four novels for us, a score of shorter stories; half a dozen anthologies.  Won a Nommo and a Sanlam Gold.  Has read The Count of Monte CristoThe Master and MargaritaThe Big TimeThe Stars My DestinationDouble StarWho?  [JH]
  • Born March 29, 1990 – Kiran Millwood Hargrave, age 31.  Poet, playwright, novelist.  Three novels for us.  Waterstone Children’s Book Prize, British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year, Blackwell Children’s Book of the Year.  First novel for adults opened at No. 1 on The Times (i.e. of London) Bestseller Chart.  “Our parents took us everywhere – Jordan, India, China….  India is particularly special to me as my mum is from there.”  From The Girl of Ink & Stars: ‘A myth is something that happened so long ago that people like to pretend it’s not real, even when it is.’  [JH]

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest discover robots with ethical problems – according to their designers.

(14) WISHBONER. Some show-biz pros are asking what turkey thought up this idea: “Comic-Con Criticized for In-Person Thanksgiving Weekend Event” in The Hollywood Reporter.

San Diego Comic-Con will return this year with an in-person convention during Thanksgiving weekend.

The pop culture event will host a “Comic-Con Special Edition” at the San Diego Convention Center from November 26-28. The announcement comes less than a month after Comic-Con International announced a virtual event would be held this summer due to uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic and the risk of large-scale gatherings. The three-day Comic-Con@Home virtual event is set for July 23-25.

“It is our hope that by Fall conditions will permit larger public gatherings,” an announcement for the event said. “Comic-Con Special Edition will be the first in-person convention produced by the organization since Comic-Con 2019, and the first since the onset of the global pandemic COVID-19. The Fall event will allow the organization to highlight all the great elements that make Comic-Con such a popular event each year, as well as generate much needed revenue not only for the organization but also for local businesses and the community.”

…The announcement for an in-person Thanksgiving weekend event received immediate criticism across social media, with many noting the pandemic impacted the ability for many to be with their families during the holidays last year.

“So they scheduled #SDCC on the same weekend as the first chance most families will (hopefully) be fully able to celebrate Thanksgiving in two years. See you in 2022!” Charles Soule, writer and author for Daredevil and She-Hulk, shared on Twitter.

“Sure. Make it during the one non-denominational fall holiday weekend in U.S., w/ always peak airfare prices. And I’m sure A-list celebs will LOVE doing this. Black Friday, indeed,” author Tara Bennett wrote.

Linda Ge, who writes for CW’s new series Kung Fu, also tweeted “Does Comic-Con realize that most people didn’t get to spend last Thanksgiving with their families because of the pandemic? #SDCC”

(15) C3PO, R2D2, AND BBQ€590. This summer you could be “grilling from another galaxy” with the Star Wars-inspired Galaxy Grill for a mere 590 Euros.

Amaze your friends with a real space vehicle – they will definitely join the dark side with you.

(16) TECH SKEPTIC. In the Washington Post, Dalvin Brown says the likelihood you will have a robot with legs helping you in your home is very small, because robots are expensive, heavy (what happens if a robot falls on you?) and robots with humanlike hands are really expensive.  “Robots don’t know much about the world they’re operating in, so a robot needs a great deal of education to learn where things are in your house.” “For all the hype, robots are limited in what they can do in your home”.

… But how likely is it that you’ll ever be able to own a true robotic butler?

Robots are indeed getting more complex. As AI continues to advance, it allows machines to figure out more complex problems and reliably chat with humans. Still, robotics and AI firms say you’ll have to wait quite some time before you’re able to own anything remotely similar to Rosey the Robot from “The Jetsons.”

In fact, companies are having a hard time commercializing anything more complex than a Roomba — which has been vacuuming houses for 20 years.

… Right now, robots are doing well in factories where there’s plenty of space, no small kids around and employees wearing protective gear. They’re really good at completing a single repetitive task, like screwing on a wheel.

But imagine introducing machinery with legs and lifting capabilities into your home where things can and do go wrong. What if it falls on someone, or a software update causes it to go haywire? It’s funny on “The Jetsons,” but it wouldn’t be so comical if your grandmother were on the receiving end….

(17) RYAN GEORGE. In “Godzilla Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says the producer is happy that the son of Bryan Cranston’s character is named Ford because “selling your son’s name as advertising space is tight!”  (The producer’s three sons are Ben, Jerry, and Outback Steakhouse.)

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Filers will remember when OwlKitty entered the Lord of The Rings.  But in “Godzilla v. Cat (OwlKitty Parody)” on YouTube, OwlKitty takes on Godzilla!

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Chris R., JJ, Cat Eldridge, David K. M. Klaus, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, David Doering, Andrew Porter, Joey Eschrich, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

A Conflict Over Applying the #OwnVoices Hashtag to Works

[Editor’s note: #OwnVoices  is a term coined by the writer Corinne Duyvis, and refers to an author from a marginalized or under-represented group writing about their own experiences/from their own perspective.]

By rcade: Last year, Dark Matter Zine managing editor Nalini Haynes wrote an irate personal essay stating that someone is only qualified to call themselves an ownvoices author if they are always public about that identity:

Various identities are, like disability, cherry picked by authors. These authors feel those identities benefit them on occasion but when those identities are likely to cause inconvenience — or to make the authors suffer discrimination — then those same authors conceal those identities.

They want to claim to be an “own voices” author and they want to disavow that identity when owning that identity does not suit them. I use disability as an example, but this equally applies to being LGBTQIA (aka “queer”), Muslim, a person of color, and so on. If you’re “passing” as straight, or areligious or a conforming religion, or white, then you don’t get the full technicolor violent experience of the identity you’re claiming. You are NOT an “own voices” author if you don’t own that identity ALL THE DAMNED TIME.

Sharing experiences of the hardships she’s faced in her life because of disability, Haynes suggested some ownvoices authors are intentionally deceiving readers:

Not trying to own an identity is an HONEST choice. When an author declares “this topic is off limits” and “I do NOT want to own this identity”, I can work openly and honestly with this author in a podcast or review. I know where I stand, where the boundaries lie.

When an author says “I own this identity but IT IS A SECRET” it raises issues. You’re trying to wink at the audience, you’re playing a shell game. You are being dishonest.

… I will not be party to lies and deception.

Today, the young adult author Sophie Gonzales posted a Twitter thread stating that she was outed on Dark Matter Zine in a podcast and again in a book review, leading to a “very unpleasant interaction” that included Haynes making a complaint to her publisher, and the essay about authors being deceptive was published days after these events. (Gonzales names Dark Matter Zine but not Haynes, calling her “the author” instead.)

When she was outed in the podcast, Gonzales wrote in the chatroom, “Only some close friends know I have this marginalization.” Then Dark Matter Zine reviewed her novel Only Mostly Devastated and mentioned it again:

A few days later, the magazine ran a review of OMD and tagged me. In it, the author disclosed my marginalized identity, one which I’d never discussed in public at that point. I had a stab of panic, but figured, again, no stress, no one’s gonna see this before it’s cleared up. So I contacted the magazine editor thanking them for the review, but requesting they please remove the line about my identity as this isn’t public information.

She said that Haynes became angry and told her “if she’d known I wasn’t ownvoices she would’ve never approached me.”

Gonzales continued her recounting, “I stated that I *was* an ownvoices author, but some people in my life didn’t know. (I’d also never used ownvoices while advertising my books at this stage, as the only ownvoices book I’d written was POP, which was a year off publication still).”

Things escalated quickly, Gonzales said:

She said she’d been advised “not to work with my minority group again”. She then said her future policy was going to be if authors don’t disclose that their identity isn’t to be made public before a podcast or review is made, she isn’t removing the information.

(Remembering, again, I was never at any point asked about my identity. Do people often pre-emptively share secrets about themselves to strangers so that they can then ask the stranger to not disclose this secret to the public?).

Six months later, Gonzales used a post on Goodreads about her new book Perfect on Paper to go public as ownvoices on her own terms:

I’ve been writing bisexual characters for many years, but I’d always written them dating someone who shared their gender. Then, in OMD I wrote a bi character whose story culminated in a romance with someone of a different gender, and I suddenly received push back. I started hearing that I’d done something wrong, and I won’t list the specific things said here, because they’re just hurtful, but the reasons given boiled down to this: “a bi person who is in a relationship with a different gender is not correct queer rep”. …

I hope that this ownvoices book is seen for what it is, and that the fear in the pit of my stomach that it will be pushed out for not being quite queer enough will turn out to be just that. Only fear.

The fantasy novelist Foz Meadows, who like Haynes and Gonzales is Australian, offered a gobsmacked Twitter thread about the situation:

If you’re not willing to risk losing your job or your housing, or if you’re not prepared to risk PHYSICAL VIOLENCE, then you cannot claim the identity that sees these things threatened, because you’re not paincore enough” is a fucking HELL of a take.