Pixel Scroll 9/23/17 Appertained Horror

(1) APPROACHES TO MILSF. Greg Hullender’s review of “Infinity Wars, edited by Jonathan Strahan” for Rocket Stack Rank includes this analysis:

Make Love not War

The stories take the following attitudes toward the military:

Hate it. Soldiers are doing evil: 7

Despise it. Soldiers are wasting their lives: 3

Admire/respect it. Soldiers are heroes: 5

All of the recommended stories are from the last group, which is a little odd. It’s perfectly possible to write a great story from an anti-military point of view or with an anti-war message (e.g. Catch 22), but that’s not what we find in this volume. Perhaps it’s just a lot easier to write good military SF if you don’t actually hate the military.

(2) I SCREAM. Freddie In Space and artist Frank Browning invite you to cool down with Ben & Jerry’s Horror Movie Ice Cream flavors. There are over two dozen like this –

(3) LET DARKNESS FALL. Coming October 10 at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination:

The recent solar eclipse transfixed the world. People in the path of totality marveled at the corona and how the air temperature dropped briefly and, in some parts of the country, the cicadas began to sing as if it were night. But the eclipse also offers a world of possibilities for scientific discovery. Jay Pasachoff, Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College, joins us at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination to discuss his observations of eclipses–66 solar eclipses, including 34 total solar eclipses–and the NSF and National Geographic supported discoveries these have yielded. Dozens of cameras, including a pair of frame-transfer CCDs, were trained on the corona to isolate the specific emissions of 13-times-ionized iron (“the coronal green line”) and 9-times-ionized iron (“the coronal red line”) at high cadence, to attempt to distinguish among models for how the corona is heated to millions of degrees. Dr. Pasachoff will discuss this work and plans for future total, partial, and annular eclipse observations over the next few years, including the 2023 and 2024 American eclipses.

(4) REFORMAUTOMATION. The Babylon Bee promises “New Martin Luther-Shaped Amazon Echo Will Rudely Answer All Your Theology Questions”.

Dubbed the “Amazon Luther,” the new device is programmed to answer all your theology questions in the Reformer’s trademark aggressive tone and style.

An Amazon rep gave a demo at the press conference announcing the device, showing off some of its dynamic responses:

“Luther, can you tell me about the Pope?”

The Pope is a mere tormentor of conscience. The assembly of his greased and religious crew in praying is altogether like the croaking of frogs, which edifies nothing at all.

“Luther, am I a good person?”

You are a sinner, you’re dead, you’re eaten up with corruption. Every free choice of yours is evil and not good.

“Luther, is Joel Osteen a solid preacher?”

Yes, Joel is an excellent person, as skillful, clever, and versed in Holy Scripture as a cow in a walnut tree or a sow on a harp.

(5) DANIEL OBIT. Actress Jennifer Daniel (1936-2017) died August 16. Her film appearances included the Edgar Wallace Mysteries film series, Gideon’s Way and the Hammer horror films The Kiss of the Vampire (1963) and The Reptile (1966).

(6) WE LIVE IN HIS VISION OF THE FUTURE. The New York Times eulogizes architect Gin Wong, who died September 1: “Gin Wong, Who Designed Futuristic Buildings in Los Angeles, Dies at 94”. He put his creative mark on the city with CBS Television City, the Los Angeles International Airport theme building, and his 1960 design of a Union 76 gas station in Beverly Hills:

— that remains one of his most beloved and enduring. With its red, swooping canopy angling toward the sky, the gas station wed the space age to the mundane task of filling up in a city devoted to cars.

Mr. Wong designed the gas station while working for his former teacher and mentor, William L. Pereira, around the time that he was also credited with creating the startling, spider-like Theme Building at the Los Angeles airport. Writing in The Los Angeles Times in 2010, the critic Bob Pool called the building “part spaceship, part flying saucer” and said that Mr. Wong had “set out to create a futuristic building that would both reflect its relationship with aviation and stand the test of time.”

…While running Mr. Pereira’s company in the late 1960s, Mr. Wong oversaw the design of the Transamerica Pyramid, the striking 853-foot-tall building that pierces the sky in San Francisco.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 23, 1846 — Planet Neptune was discovered.
  • September 23, 1962 The Jetsons aired its very first episode.
  • September 23, 1968 Charly premiered in theaters, based on Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

(8) SFF MADE IT HAPPEN. Lezli Robyn thanks the sff community for donating to her GoFundMe appeal all the money needed for her eye surgery.

I am feeling so very overwhelmed, happy, and so very thankful. Gofundme donators have now raised the entire $8000 needed for a new and 100% successful cross-linking surgery on my eyes to halt the progression of my Keratoconus !!! I would love to thank my family and friends and the many authors, editors, publishers, artists and readers/fans of the sf/fantasy field for amazingly generous donations made to the surprise fundraiser my boss, Shahid Mahmud (who deserves the most thanks!), created to help me raise the money.

I have so many people to thank. I am especially thankful to the readers who donated—the people who, like me, might not have too much to spare, but still donated anyway. Even one of the first fans of my writing, a voracious reader, donated and left such a lovely message on my fundraiser (I’m looking at you, Jo Van Ekeren) that it moved me to tears.

In fact, I have been brought to tears several times over the amazing outpouring of generosity of the donations and the lovely messages written by those who have shared the fundraiser all over the web. And, let me tell you, it’s quite the bittersweet experience for me when I cry. My tears fill in the thinned parts of my corneas that the Keratoconus has eroded over the years, creating a more even, rounded, surface. So even if it was sadness that had caused my tears, for that split second my vision sharpens I experience a moment of wonder and surprise as I see how beautiful and vibrant the world really is, until gravity or the blink of an eye causes the tears to fall to my cheeks.

So, I thank you for the tears; I thank you for your generosity. I have always maintained that the sf/fantasy community operates a lot like a family. It might be a sometimes dysfunctional and controversial family at times, but it is a field notorious for paying it forward to the younger generation. Well, you guys have paid it forward this month to give me sight, in a field I like to think is full of vision for the future, and I can’t show my appreciation enough. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

(9) LAW LAW LAND. A new legal specialty: “An Accident On The Moon, Young Lawyers To The Rescue”.

…Boggs and her two teammates are the North American finalists for this year’s competition, and next week they’ll go up against teams from South Africa, Greece and India for the big prize.

Each team argues both sides of a case set in the future, in space. This year’s case is, in the broadest terms, about a traffic accident on the moon….

Titan believes that Perovsk’s mining operation is releasing pollution and contaminating experiments, so they send a rover to investigate.

“They collide,” says Boggs. “Now everyone’s upset.”

Perovsk sues Titan over the damaged equipment in the International Court of Justice. Titan accuses Perovsk of breaking the law by polluting the moon. It’s unclear who should pay for what, and why. Rovers don’t carry insurance, and there’s a larger question about who has the right to use, or pollute, the moon in the first place.

Boggs says the case exemplifies one of her favorite things about space law: it’s ambiguous.

“It’s sort of hard not to say anything controversial in space law because everyone has a different opinion about what space law should do,” she explains. Space law is largely based on two treaties, the Outer Space Treaty and the moon Agreement, plus more general international law applied to space. But there’s tension within the treaties about what space should be used for.

(10) IT’S GREAT TO BE A GENIUS, OF COURSE. Brian Niemeier, in “The Convergence of Science Fiction”, joined a YouTuber to share his unique insight into sff history.

YouTuber Max Kolbe recently had me on his show to explain how the SJW convergence of tradpub science fiction happened. Max is particularly interested in the sudden shift from stories that took the Christian worldview for granted to overtly atheistic, anti-religious works. We discussed how John W. Campbell ended the reign of the pulps and how the Futurians fomented a Marxist revolution in SF publishing.

The Futurians? So…. The SJW Convergence happened…before World War 2? Before Heinlein published his first story? Before the invention of the paperback? Not just before TOR books was started, but before Tom Doherty enrolled in kindergarten? Talk about reductio ad absurdum….

(11) IN VINO SFF. Paste says “Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary Commemorative Wine Will Be a Thing”.

We’re used to something like a coin, a keychain or at the very least toilet paper as commemorative items—but Square Enix, along with The Wine House in Los Angeles, are taking the more classy route. The two wines offered will be limited edition, one being “a 2016 Château des Bois red wine with hints of strawberry” called “Ifrit Rouge,” named after the classic fire summon from Final Fantasy. Along with Ifrit Rogue will come its counterpart, “Shiva Blanc” (after an ice summon), “a well-balanced 2015 Château des Bois white wine.”

Both bottles will be adorned with a 30th Anniversary logo, and will be packaged in boxes featuring art of the summons the drinks are named after. Of course, you have to be of the legal drinking age of 21 to order these online, with Ifrit Rogue available online here, and Shiva Blanc here. According to The Wine House’s website, these will ship in the beginning of this November to arrive by the end of that month

(12) CLASSICAL AND NEOCLASSICAL TREK. Alex Zalben watches a succession of Star Trek series pilots/first episodes and tweets his judgments. This pair will get you into the thread.

(13) RECALL BOOK WE WILL. If this Saudi artist is never heard from again, you’ll know why:

A social studies textbook in Saudi Arabia was recalled for including a photo depicting a Star Wars character next to a king.

The black and white photo, by Saudi artist Abdullah Al Shehri, features the small, green Jedi Yoda seated next to King Faisal as he signed the United Nations Charter in San Francisco in 1945.

…Shehri, a 26-year-old artist who goes by the nickname Shaweesh, created the image as part of a series that inserts pop culture characters into historical photos and learned it had turned up in a textbook through a text from his mother.

“I am the one who designed it, but I am not the one who put it in the book,” he told the New York Times.

Shehri said he decided to insert Yoda into the photo because he reminded him of King Faisal and is the same color as the Saudi flag.

“He was wise and was always strong in his speeches,” he said. “So I found that Yoda was the closest character to the king. And also Yoda and his light saber — it’s all green.”

Sure, absolutely, I don’t doubt it for a moment.

(14) THE WAY THE FUTURE WASN’T. Noah Smith in “What We Didn’t Get” in his blog Noahpinion compares the successful predictions of the cyberpunk era to the failures of 1950s sf writers to adequately foresee the future and concludes that the reason Silver Age writers didn’t adequately predict the future was that “we ran out of theoretical physics, and we ran out of energy.”

If you watch Star Trek or Star Wars, or read any of the innumerable space operas of the mid-20th century, they all depend on a bunch of fancy physics. Faster-than-light travel, artificial gravity, force fields of various kinds. In 1960, that sort of prediction might have made sense. Humanity had just experienced one of the most amazing sequences of physics advancements ever. In the space of a few short decades, humankind discovered relativity and quantum mechanics, invented the nuclear bomb and nuclear power, and created the x-ray, the laser, superconductors, radar and the space program. The early 20th century was really a physics bonanza, driven in large part by advances in fundamental theory. And in the 1950s and 1960s, those advances still seemed to be going strong, with the development of quantum field theories. Then it all came to a halt. After the Standard Model was completed in the 1970s, there were no big breakthroughs in fundamental physics.

(15) THE KID WHO NEVER STOPS INVENTING. Well, that kind of negativity won’t fly with Molly!

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

Isle of Dogs Official Trailer

Wes Anderson’s next movie Isle of Dogs is coming to theaters March 23, 2018.

ISLE OF DOGS tells the story of ATARI KOBAYASHI, 12-year-old ward to corrupt Mayor Kobayashi. When, by Executive Decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island, Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture.

 

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster for the story.]

When The Received Wisdom Is Wrong

NyCon II (1956). Chair Dave Kyle, seated, wearing a bow tie and dark glasses; Larry Shaw at podium, John Campbell and Robert Silverberg to Kyle’s left.

This month fanhistorians were turned on their ears when a previously unknown shortlist of 1956 Hugo nominees came to light — unknown, despite the fact that it had been hiding in plain sight for over sixty years.

As the official Hugo Award site explained when they updated the entry for 1956

We thank Olav Rokne for bringing to our attention an article on page 15 of the 1956 Worldcon Progress Report 3 that included the names of the finalists along with voting instructions.

Yes, the information was in the Worldcon’s own publication. It doesn’t make sense that experienced fanhistorians were unaware of it, however, I think I’ve figured out why that happened.

First, until just a few years ago when Kim Huett started acquiring early Worldcon progress reports and making scans available through Fanac.org, few fans were in a position to consult the source material.

Second, by the time digital copies arrived online, longtime fans had no motive for checking on what seemed a settled question. Multiple fanhistories written by fans who had been active in the 1950s agreed that Detention, the 1959 Worldcon, was the first to institute a nominating ballot. Indeed, that remains true in a literal sense – it was the first use of a formal two-step process — but as we’re now aware NYcon II (1956) was the first Worldcon to issue a ballot containing a shortlist of finalists.

The authoritative A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards (1971, 1976) compiled by Don Franson and Howard DeVore opens with an emphatic statement on this score —

In answer to the question “what and who were nominated for a Hugo?” the entire history of the awards themselves must be taken into account. For one thing, the first Hugo Award winners were not nominated….

However, before 1959, there were no nominating ballots (or if you prefer there was only a nominating ballot – there was only one ballot sent out.) Thus, there were no nominations to list here until the Detention in 1959.

Both Franson and DeVore were early fans reporting with the credibility of lived experience. So was Harry Warner, Jr. when he wrote in A Wealth of Fable —

The later year system of preliminary balloting to determine nominees followed by final voting didn’t exist until the Detention in 1959. One reason for the changeover was the apathy which the Hugo attracted during those early years. Not many people were voting, and there were many possible choices in the years without the nomination system.

Warner’s rationale for the change helps foster the impression that Hugo shortlists originated in 1959 by making no reference to the process followed by the 1956 committee, although he is literally correct that the two-step voting system was used for the first time in 1959.

So where did the 1956 shortlist come from?

NyCon II’s Progress Report 3 says on page 15:

All nominations were screened by a special committee in consultation with experts in the field to determine their qualifications… Those chosen represent the names with considerable support.

These days we would call that a juried shortlist.

Notwithstanding the shortlist, fans in 1956 were still allowed to vote for whatever they wanted:

Your ballot contains the name of each nominee with a box in the front. Either check or blacken in each box before the name of your choice. If you wish to write in the name of your choice which is not listed, do so on the black lines provided for you.

In contrast, the 1959 Hugo ballot explicitly disallowed write-in votes.

Franson, DeVore and Warner all passed from the scene years ago, so we may never find out why they all neglected to report the 1956 shortlist. The opening paragraphs of Franson and DeVore’s History stress that the Hugos are a popularly-voted award, unlike the International Fantasy Award, whose winners are also reported in the book. They may have considered a committee-created shortlist unworthy of canon. But that’s pure speculation.

The one thing we’ve learned for certain is that there was a gap in the fanhistories people depended on for the past few decades. That’s why I’m happy to know someone is looking at the origins of the Hugo Award with a fresh set of eyes.

Pixel Scroll 9/22/17 How Can You Tell If An Elephant Has Been On Your Scroll? By The Footprints On The Pixels

(1) EBOOKS FOR HURRICANE RELIEF. Fireside Fiction has teamed up with other small presses, authors, and editors to offer e-books to raise money for hurricane relief through the Hurricane Relief Bookstore.

Fireside Fiction Company has put together the Hurricane Relief Bookstore to raise funds for disaster relief and rebuilding for Houston, the Caribbean, and Florida.

100% of profits from sales on this store will go toward the following three relief organizations:

• For Houston: Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund

• For the Caribbean: Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Fund

• For Florida: ShelterBox

The ebooks on this store are intentionally priced high—the more money we raise, the better. If you want to increase your donations, simply increase the quantities in your shopping cart before checking out.

Each ebook consists of a Zip file that includes a Mobi file for your Kindle and an Epub file for iBooks, Nook, Kobo, or any other reader (some publishers also include a PDF file). All files are DRM-free (because come on, it’s 2017).

(2) THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS SATURN. E.R. Ellsworth presents the bittersweet “Lost Letters From Cassini” on Medium.

January 1st, 2001

My Dearest Geneviève:

I hope this missive finds you well. As far as my travels have taken me, you remain ever in my thoughts.

Huygens and I celebrated the new year with the majestic visage of Jupiter full in our sights. I’m enclosing several photographs of that celestial marvel for you and the kids to enjoy. I am no Ansel Adams, however, and I fear my skills with the lens cannot capture the true beauty of this place.

Yours always,

Cassini

(3) ABOVE AND BEYOND. It is the nature of we humans to be more interested in someone’s opinion of Amazon Author Rankings if he or she happens to be speaking from the top of the pile. Take John Scalzi, for example.

Yesterday nine of my novels were on sale for $2.99 in ebook format, across a bunch of different retailers, but most prominently on Amazon, because, well, Amazon. Amazon has a number of different ways to make authors feel competitive and neurotic, one of which is its “Amazon Author Rank,” which tells you where you fit in the grand hierarchy of authors on Amazon, based (to some extent) on sales and/or downloads via Amazon’s subscription reading service. And yesterday, I got to the top of it — #1 in the category of science fiction and fantasy, and was #4 overall, behind JK Rowling and two dudes who co-write business books. Yes, I was (and am still! At this writing!) among the elite of the elite in the Amazon Author Ranks, surveying my realm as unto a god.

And now, thoughts! …

  1. This opacity works for Amazon because it keeps authors engaged, watching their Amazon Author Rankings go up and down, and getting little spikes or little stabs as their rankings bounce around. I mean, hell, I think it’s neat to have a high ranking, and I know it’s basically nonsense! But I do think it’s important for authors to remember not to get too invested in the rankings because a) if you don’t know how it works, you don’t know why you rank as you do, at any particular time, b) it’s foolish to be invested in a ranking whose mechanism is unknown to you, c) outside of Amazon, the ranking has no relevance.

(4) NEEDS MEANER VILLAIN. Zhaoyun presents “Microreview [book]: Babylon’s Ashes (book six of The Expanse), by James S.A. Corey” at Nerds of a Feather.

…And this is where, in my opinion, Babylon’s Ashes missteps.

It turns out Inaros just isn’t that compelling a villain, and perhaps as a consequence of this, the good guys’ inevitable victory over him isn’t particularly cathartic. In one sense that shouldn’t matter, since of course it’s entirely up to Daniel Abraham and Ty Francks what sort of villain to create, and nothing mandates a “tougher than you can believe” archetype. The problem, as I see it, is that they fell into this narrative trope without having the right sort of villain for it. Inaros is simply a megalomaniac with a flair (sort of) for PR, but his ridiculous behavior and blunders end up alienating many of his erstwhile supporters. This leeches the catharsis right out of the mano y mano confrontation at the end, since in a manner of speaking Inaros has already been beaten, in small ways, numerous times before this….

(5) HOBBIT FORMING. The 80th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit prompted Vann R. Newkirk II to recall when right made might, in “There and Back Again” for The Atlantic.

Modern fantasy and its subgenres, as represented in [George R.R.] Martin’s work, might be positioned as anti-art in relation to Tolkien. In that way, Tolkien still dominates. While the watchword of the day is subversion—twisting tropes, destroying moral absolutes with relativism, and making mockeries of gallantry and heroism—subversion still requires a substrate. So although fantasy creators in all media have devoted most of their energies in the past eight decades to digesting Tolkien, so in turn Tolkien has become part of the fabric of their works. There’s a little Bilbo in Tyrion, a bit of Smaug in Eragon’s dragons, a dash of Aragorn in Shannara’s Shea Ohmsford, and a touch of Gandalf in the wizards of Discworld.

That’s why, on this week’s anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit and of the entrance of Tolkien into the fantasy genre, it’s important to reread and reconsider his works, and his first especially. Although the short and whimsical book is considered lightweight compared to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s still in many ways the best that literature has to offer. Tolkien is first a linguist, and it’s not only his creation of elvish, dwarvish, and orcish languages out of whole cloth that impresses, but also the way he toys with English and illustrates the power of language itself to create. Ever a good author surrogate, Bilbo’s true arms and armor aren’t his trusty half-sword Sting or his mithril shirt, but—as Gollum would find out—his words and riddles.

(6) NOT THE DIRECTOR’S CUT. Matthew Vaughn, director of Kingsman 2, wouldn’t have put the film’s biggest surprise in the damn trailers, he told IGN:

Trailers revealed that Colin Firth’s Harry Hart – who seemed to have died in the course of the first film – would return in the sequel.

Speaking to IGN, Vaughn was forthright about his feelings on that particular promotional choice: “Well, I’m not in charge of marketing. The thinking about that was stupidity, to be blunt.

“I begged the studio not to reveal it. Because it’s the whole driving force of the first act and if you didn’t know that scene it would’ve made the whole audience gasp. So you have to ask the lovely marketing guys because I think their job is to open the movie and don’t really care about the experience of the movie.”

(7) TODAY’S DAY

Hobbit Day

The birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

 

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 22, 1968 — Irwin Allen’s Land of the Giants aired “The Crash,” its first episode.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • September 22, 1971 – Elizabeth Bear

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Was Mark-kitteh surprised to find an sf reference in xkcd? No more than you will be.
  • Nor should anyone be surprised by the sports reference Mike Kennedy found in a comic called In the Bleachers. But its Star Wars component, maybe?

(11) END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN. Surely something called “Read For Pixels 2017 (Fall Edition)” needs a mention here?

Read For Pixels 2017 (Fall Edition) raises funds to help end violence against women in collaboration with award-winning bestselling authors.

The Pixel Project‘s “Read For Pixels” 2017 (Fall Edition) campaign features live readings+Q&A Google Hangout sessions with 12 award-winning bestselling authors in support of the cause to end violence against women. Participating authors include Adrian Tchaikovsky, Alafair Burke, Genevieve Valentine, Ilona Andrews, Isaac Marion, Kass Morgan, Ken Liu, Kristen Britain, Paul Tremblay, Sara Raasch, Soman Chainani, and Vicki Pettersson.

These awesome authors have donated exclusive goodies to this special “Read For Pixels” Fall 2017 fundraiser to encourage fans and book lovers to give generously to help tackle VAW. Additional goodies come courtesy of Penguin Random House’s Berkley and Ace/Roc/DAW imprints, acclaimed Fantasy authors Aliette de Bodard, Charles de Lint, Christopher Golden, Dan Wells, Jacqueline Carey, Kendare Blake, Steven Erikson, bestselling mystery/thriller author Karen Rose, and more.

(12) AN ANIMATED GROUP. Crave would like to tell you their picks for “The Top 15 Best Chuck Jones Cartoons Ever” and you may want to know – but I warn you in advance it’s one of those click-through-the-list posts. If you’re not that patient I’ll tell you this much – ranked number one is “Duck Amuck” (1953).

Few filmmakers could ever claim to have brought as much joy into our lives as Charles M. Jones, better known to many as Chuck Jones, who worked for Warner Bros. on their classic Looney Tunes shorts for 30 years. Afterwards, he directed shorts for MGM, co-directed the family classic The Phantom Tollbooth, and also directed one of the best Christmas specials ever produced, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! 

His career was varied – he won four Oscars, including a lifetime achievement award in 1966 – but Chuck Jones was and still is best known as one of the comic and cinematic geniuses who made Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Pepé Le Pew, Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner the pop culture staples they are today. Along with his team of skilled animators, writers and fellow directors, Chuck Jones brought biting wit and visual wonders to the cartoon medium, and most – if not all – of the cartoons we love today owe him a direct debt of gratitude, in one form or another.

(13) AN APPEAL. A GoFundMe to “Save Rosy’s Inheritance” has been started for his wife by Guy H. Lillian III to fund these legal expenses –

Nita Green, Rose-Marie Lillian’s mother, passed away in April. 2015. Her intent, as stated in her will, was to have her only daughter inherit a logical percentage of her worldly goods. In person she was promised Nita’s collection of original paintings by Frank Kelly Freas, a renowned artist and long-time personal friend of them both. Rose-Marie lived with and cared for her mother and her stepfather for the last two years of her mother’s life. Since Nita’s death, however, she has been denied her inheritance, despite the stated wishes of her mother and an agreement arrived at a legal deposition taken in December, 2016. She has no recourse but to sue.  Though her husband is an attorney, he is licensed only in another state and Rosy’s cause of action is in Florida. All attorneys rightly require retainers before beginning representation and have every right to be paid. Rose-Marie turns to you for help. The retainer required will fall between $5000 and $7500…. Can you help?

(14) ENDOWED CHAIR. PZ Myers contends, “Only a conservative twit would believe he’s entitled to a speaker’s slot at a con”.

By the way, I have a similar example: I was a speaker at Skepticon multiple times. One year they decided they needed new blood, so they invited some other people, instead of me. If I were like Jon Del Arroz, I would have made a big stink over the violation of tradition — they invited me once (actually, a couple of times), so now they must invite me every time. Every year. Over and over. Until attendees are sick of me, and even then they aren’t allowed to stop.

That isn’t the way this works. I approve of diversity in the line-up. I think it’s great that they have enough people with interesting things to say that they can have a different roster of speakers every year. I’m perfectly willing to step aside, especially since it means I can just attend and enjoy the event without having to give a talk.

(15) DOTARD Alan Baumler sees a link between today’s headlines and The Lord of the Rings which he elaborates in “North Korea in the News-Trump is a dotard”.

So what does this tell us? Is the North Korean propaganda apparatus filled with Tolkien fans? Or is their understanding of modern idioms based on an idiosyncratic selection of foreign texts? I would guess that it is the latter, but the former would be cooler and more optimistic.

(16) ANOTHER SERVING OF SERIAL. Our favorite breakthrough author, Camestros Felapton, proves once again why books need maps – to keep the author from losing his place: “McEdifice Returns: I can’t remember which Chapter Number this is”.

…The hyper-specialism of the galactic civilisation has inexorably led to planets that were just-one-thing: the desert planet of Sandy, the lumpy planet of Lumpus, the planet that just looks like Amsterdam all over of Damsterham, and the Sydney Opera House planet of Utzon-Jørn to name but a few. To resist the planetary monoculture creating a fundamental fragility to galactic civilisation, the ruling Galactical Confederation of Galactic Imperial Republics had instigated a controversial “Come on, Every Planet Has to Have at Least Two Things Guys” law, that mandated that every planet had to have at least a pair of signature things….

(17) WATCHMEN. HBO has given a formal pilot green light to and ordered backup scripts for Watchmen, based on the iconic limited comic series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons that had previously been adapted as the 2009 film, Deadline reported. The new project will be Damon Lindelof’s followup to his HBO series The Leftovers. Warner Horizon TV, which also was behind The Leftovers, is the studio as part of Linderlof’s overall deal at Warner Bros. TV.

(18) ALAN MOORE TAKES QUESTIONS. At ComicsBeat, Pádraig Ó Méalóid has posted two sessions of Alan Moore Q&As from 2015 and 2016.

In what may or may not become a long-standing tradition, Alan Moore has answered questions at Christmas set by the members of a Facebook group called The Really Very Serious Alan Moore Scholars’ Group, who are, as the name might suggest, a bunch of people who are interested in his work. At least, Moore answered 25 questions for the group in December 2015, which were later published here on The Beat over four posts towards the end of 2016. Those four posts can be found here:

And I can only apologise for the faux-clickbait titles. At the time I thought they were hilarious. What a difference a year makes…

Anyway, Moore once again answered a number of questions for the group at the end of 2016 and, having allowed the group to savour these on their own, the time has once again come to share them with the wider public. They cover subjects from Food to Fiction, but we’re starting with various aspects of Magic and Art.

Mark Needham: Do you like Tim-Tams, Hob-Nobs, Chocolate Digestives or any other kind of biscuit with your tea?

Alan Moore: These days, I find that my love of biscuits is increasingly abstract and theoretical, like my love for the comic medium, and that much of the actual product I find deeply disappointing on an aesthetic level. While the chocolate malted milk biscuit with the cow on the back is of course a timeless classic and a continuing source of consolation, why oh why has no one yet devised the glaringly obvious dark chocolate malted milk? We have a spacecraft taking close up pictures of Pluto, for God’s sake, and yet a different sort of chocolate on our cow-adorned teatime favourites is apparently too much to ask.

(19) LEGO MOVIE REVIEW. Glen Weldon of NPR sees Lego Ninjago as running in third place in its own genre: “Plastic Less-Than-Fantastic: ‘The LEGO Ninjago Movie'”.

  1. Constantly undercutting the film’s deliberately overblown genre trappings with surprisingly naturalistic dialogue that explicitly questions those trappings? Check.

The film’s stellar supporting cast gets not nearly enough to do — so little that viewers are left to impute the nature of many of the relationships among them. (Nanjiani’s Jay is meant to have a crush on Jacobsen’s Nya, I think? Based on one line?) That’s the bad news, and given the talent on hand, that news … is pretty bad.

But what’s shunting all those very funny actors into the background is the relationship between Franco’s aching-for-connection Lloyd and Theroux’s blithely evil Garmadon. And Theroux — deliberately channeling, he has stated in interviews, Will Arnett — is so fantastic here you almost forgive Garmadon’s hogging of the spotlight. Almost.

Watching him — or, more accurately, listening to him — is when you truly begin to appreciate how much of the load these vocal performances are carrying, how totally the success of a given Lord/Miller LEGO movie lives or dies in the specific execution of that breezy, naturalistic humor.

Because here, just three movies in, the Lord/Miller LEGO genre is showing signs of exhaustion.

(20) NEANDERTHALS GET ANOTHER BOOST. “Did Robert J. Sawyer have a point?” Chip Hitchcock, who sent the link to the BBC’s article “Neanderthal brains ‘grew more slowly'”. The gist of the article is that slow-growing brains were associated with the ‘most advanced species’ (i.e., homo sapiens sapiens); discovery further knocks the idea that Neanderthals were brutes.

A new study shows that Neanderthal brains developed more slowly than ours.

An analysis of a Neanderthal child’s skeleton suggests that its brain was still developing at a time when the brains of modern human children are fully formed.

This is further evidence that this now extinct human was not more brutish and primitive than our species.

The research has been published in the journal Science.

Until now it had been thought that we were the only species whose brains developed relatively slowly. Unlike other apes and more primitive humans, Homo sapiens has an extended period of childhood lasting several years.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mark-kitteh, Alan Baumler, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Love, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]

Pixel Scroll 9/21/17 A Pixel Walks Into A Bar And Orders A Fifth

(1) CELEBRATE THE RADCH. Ann Leckie’s new book Provenance comes out on September 26, and the Imperial Radch fandom on Tumblr is asking people to create thematic fanworks as part of the celebration.

Each day, fans are encouraged to post work under the #Imperial Radch tag, and if you like, a new #Imperial Radch Week tag. Any medium is encouraged, and we selected days that hopefully highlight a wide range of skills!

  • Tuesday, Sept 19th: Ship Day
  • Wednesday, Sept 20th: Music Day
  • Friday, Sept 22nd: Fav Friday
  • Saturday: Sept 23rd: AU Day
  • Sunday, Sept 24th: Favorite Scene Day
  • Monday, Sept 25th: What the Heck is a Geck Day
  • Tuesday, Sept 26th: Release day

See this post for details of each day’s featured topic.

(2) RAISE YOUR TBR HIGHER. James Davis Nicoll foresees you will want to read “Twenty Core SF Works About Psionics and Awesome Mind Powers Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”. Three of those works are –

  • The Clairvoyant Countess by Dorothy Gilman
  • Ingathering by Zenna Henderson
  • Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang

Next week – “Twenty Room Houses True Fans Need To Own To Accommodate All The Books True Fans Should Have On Their Shelves.”

(3) FINAL JEOPARDY REFERENCES LEN WEIN. Steven H Silver has the story: “Today’s Final Jeopardy question may be the first time there’s been a FJ question about the spouse of a former contestant.  The question asked about a character created by Len Wein.  Len was married to four-time Jeopardy! champion Christine Valada (2009).”

(4) DONATIONS NEEDED. Mica Sunday Deerfield, Linda Bushyager’s sister, suffered substantial damage to her Houston home from Hurricane Harvey, and has launched a GoFundMe to raise money to make it habitable again.

When hurricane Harvey struck the Gulf coast, it filled over capacity the reservoir that is behind Mica’s house in West Houston. There was about 3 1/2 feet of water in the house and the neighborhood was inaccessible until yesterday, when our friend Dan courageously went there to see what happened. After 7 days of floodwaters, virtually all her possessions were dissolved, covered with mold, and lost to the flood. It will cost approximately $25,000 to empty the house, tear out all of the drywall, and remove the appliances, kitchen cabinets, insulation, furniture and everything else. Then they will do drying out and mold remediation. She will end up with an empty shell of a house. She will also then need money to fix the house back up. Any donation at all will be much appreciated. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

If you don’t know Linda Bushyager, she’s a long-time fanzine fan (Granfalloon, Karass) and fantasy author. More than that, when she shut down her fannish newzine Karass in the mid-Seventies, she passed the torch to File 770. And we’re still here!

(5) GATEKEEPERS. Martin Wisse defines a problematic culture in “The real trouble with comix”.

Supporting small business is important, but Amazon won’t ask you if you’re buying X-Men for your boyfriend every week. I’ve lost count of the women I know who stopped going to comic shops after being hit on or patronized too many times.

That small aside from a story about online harassment in video gaming perfectly illustrates the challenge the socalled mainstream comics industry has created for itself. Like videogaming, comics culture is steeped in rightwing victim culture, where you convince yourself both that you and your hobby are horribly oppressed and bullied by the jocks, the popular clique, riajuu and that your particular brand of pop culture is superior to what the brainless masses consume because they don’t spent their Wednesday evenings waiting for the new issue of whatever The Avengers is called this week. So you get a culture and industry that bemoans the fact that nobody loves comics anymore, but resents any step made to make people feel welcome. In fact, people seem to feel personally insulted if others enjoy the wrong sort of comics, as this fortuitous tweet demonstrates.

(6) SHOULDN’T SALES MATTER? Barry Deutsch addresses the same problem in a tweetstorm that begins here —

It runs 21 tweets and along the way observes:

(7) AGENT SPILLS THE BEANS. Fantasy-Faction scored an interview with agent Harry Illingworth.

When you’re reading all of those submissions, trawling through the slush pile, what is it you are actually looking for? What type of story, point of view, writing sets fire to your super-agent synapses and makes you request the full manuscript or sign them up there and then?

First up I’m looking at whether the author has followed the submission guidelines. It may sound obvious that you follow the guidelines when you submit, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t. I then think about whether it’s a good cover letter as if it’s not a good cover letter I’m not inclined to be too hopeful about the book itself. I do find the authors I’ve taken on have all had really strong cover letters and the author knows their book and can express that in the letter. It all comes down to the actual writing though, and I’ll only ever call in the full manuscript based on my enjoyment of the first three chapters.

When writers search the internet for advice on how to create successful query it can be… overwhelming. So, help us out – what makes a good query letter, synopsis?

I think what makes a good query is research beforehand. You’ve written a book, so take care to find out who is writing similar kinds of books. Who can you compare to without saying you’re the next GRRM? Entice the agent but don’t tell the whole story of the book, and also carefully research the agent before you submit. Make sure you are putting your book in front of the right pair of eyes, and it doesn’t hurt to add a personal touch so the agent knows you haven’t just sent it out blindly.

(8) STINKIN’ BADGES. Jeff Somers names “Science Fiction & Fantasy’s Most Delightful Government Agencies” for readers of the B&N Sci-FI & Fantasy Blog.

SpecOps 27 (Thursday Next Series, by Jasper Fforde) What isn’t to love about a government agency charged with investigating literature-related crimes? Especially in an alternate universe where literature has the cultural heft of superhero movies, and the division between reality and fiction is so thin the two are easily mixed—with breathtaking results. All of the “Special Operations” units in the fictional world are pretty cool, actually, including SpecOps 12, in charge of investigating time travel-related events. For anyone who’s ever dreamed of falling into a book and waking up in their favorite story, SO-27 represents kind of the next best thing.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 21, 1937 — J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit published.
  • September 21, 2005 Invasion premiered to those interested TV audiences.
  • September 21, 2015 — Fox TV dished out the series premiere of Minority Report.  The premise was culled from the Steven Spielberg movie of the same name, based on a story by Philip K. Dick. By the end of the first season it had been learned that few people want to see precogs go incog.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born September 21, 1866 – H.G. Wells
  • Born September 21, 1912 – Chuck Jones, famous animator
  • Born September 21, 1947 — Stephen King

(11) COMICS SECTION.

Mike Kennedy found someone who probably should have asked for help earlier, in Real Life Adventures.

(12) SCARED TO DEATH. In October, Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) has filled their calendar with all things spooky and magical. Their movie lineup that includes Interview with the Vampire, The Dark Crystal, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, and a talk with Cheryl Henson (daughter of Jim and Jane Henson and President of The Henson Foundation).

Campout Cinema: Interview With the Vampire, October 6, 8:00 p.m. 21+ ($14, $11 MoPOP members)

A vampire tells the story of his life from widowed plantation owner to murderous immortal in this gothic classic based on Anne Rice’s best-selling novel starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Banderas, and Christian Slater. Includes admission to Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film and Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction.

Campout Cinema: The Dark Crystal, October 13, 7:00 p.m. All ages. ($16, $12 MoPOP members)

The last of the Gelfings must journey to find the crystal shard that will create order and bring peace to his world in this Jim Henson classic. Includes admission to The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited and a pre-screening talk with Cheryl Henson (Henson Foundation President, and Jim and Jane’s daughter).

The Art of Puppetry with Cheryl Henson, October 14, 2:00pm Free with museum admission.

From Sesame Street and The Muppet Show to The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson’s creative imagination and enthusiasm for new technologies expanded the art of puppetry. Join Cheryl Henson (Henson Foundation President, and Jim and Jane’s daughter) as she looks at her parent’s dedication to the art form through a discussion and showcase of their impressive body of work.

 Campout Cinema: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, October 26, 8:00 p.m. ($14, $11 MoPOP members)

The dream warriors must work together to try and stop Freddy Krueger for good in the third installment of this classic horror franchise starring Robert Englund, Patricia Arquette, and Heather Langencamp. Includes admission to Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film and Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction.

MoPOP After Dark: On Thursdays and Fridays throughout the month of October, MoPOP will host After Dark Happy Hours with exclusive after-hours access to MoPOP’s newest exhibition Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film, plus MoPOP favorites Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy Worlds of Myth and Magic. Specialty, bone-chilling cocktails will be available for purchase. 5pm-8pm, MoPOP South Galleries. 21+, $15.

(12) ASGARD STYLE. About this time of year if I think of anyone wearing Marvel-themed clothing, I’m thinking about a Halloween costume. But no longer!

Josh Bennett, fashion designer and knitter extraordinaire, brings his passion for Marvel and its complex storytelling into a new sweater collection inspired by Marvel Studios’ Thor: Ragnarok. The new line will showcase Nordic influences, luxury fibers, and fantastical touches across a tight range of men’s sweaters available this holiday season.

…Bennett has always had a love for storytelling, and grew an appreciation for the robust worlds in Marvel stories as he immersed himself in Marvel films. When Thor: Ragnarok was announced as a November release, the unique settings, bold colors, and sense of wonder made it a perfect idea for a winter sweater collection.  Using references from the film, modern day trend influences, and new knitting techniques, Bennett has created a first-of-its-kind collection.

… The luxury limited edition collection includes four different styles, a chunky cardigan, v-neck tennis sweater, fisherman hoodie, and fair isle zip up, and uses yarns including 100% Italian cashmere and yarns from New Zealand, a nod to Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi.  Each sweater is extremely limited to no more than three pieces per size for each style and is numbered and dated.

The Josh Bennett x Marvel collection ranges from $1095 – $1495 USD and is available to shop online at www.joshbennettnyc.com  beginning November 10 with a pre sale October 10.

(13) HOW TO BREAK IN. The BBC reports that “Game of Thrones’ Ellie Kendrick wants to open up ‘closed shop’ film industry”.

“I’ve worked in the film industry on and off for about half my life and I’ve noticed that the worlds that are represented on our screens by no means mirror the worlds that we see around us in our everyday lives,” the 27-year-old says.

“Part of that is because it’s such a difficult industry to break into and often it requires huge financial support from parents or jobs. Or it requires contacts you’ve made in film school – which again costs a lot of money.

“So it’s a bit of a closed shop.”

The piece ends with this prime quote about her GoT role:

“But also, you know, I get to wield an axe occasionally and kill some zombies. So, all in all, she’s a pretty well-rounded character.”

(14) DIFFERENT BOUNDARIES. Mel Brooks, currently preparing for the opening in London’s West End of a musical version of his film Young Frankenstein, told a reporter, “Blazing Saddles would never be made today”.

He said Blazing Saddles, his Western spoof about a black sheriff in a racist town, could never be made today.

“It’s OK not to hurt the feelings of various tribes and groups,” he said. “However, it’s not good for comedy.

“Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks. It’s the lecherous little elf whispering in the king’s ear, telling the truth about human behaviour.”

(15) MICHELLE YEOH. A featurette with Star Trek: Discovery’s Captain Georgiou.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Steven H Silver, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, David K.M. Klaus, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

2017 Elgin Award Winners

Suzette Haden Elgin

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) has announced the winners of the 2017 Elgin Awards for best collections of speculative poetry published in the previous two years. Named after SFPA founder Suzette Haden Elgin, awards are given in two categories: best chapbook and best full-length book.

2017 Elgin Award Results:

Full-Length Book Category

  • First: Field Guide to the End of the World • Jeannine Hall Gailey (Moon City Press, 2016)
  • Second (tie): A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora • Jenna Le (Anchor & Plume, 2016)
  • Second (tie): Small Spirits: Dark Dolls • Marge Simon (Midnight Town Media, 2016)
  • Third: Dead Starships • Wendy Rathbone (Eye Scry Publications, 2016)

Chapbook Category

  • First Place: Leviathan • Neil Aitken (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2016)
  • Second Place: Radio Heart, or; How Robots Fall Out of Love • Margaret Rhee (Finishing Line Press, 2016)
  • Third Place: Apocalypse • John C. Mannone (Alban Lake, 2015)

This year’s Elgin Awards had 21 nominees in the chapbook category and 31 nominees in the full-length category, one of the largest years since the awards were first established in 2013.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association was established in 1978 and has an international membership representing over 19 nations and cultures including United States, Italy, Canada, Brazil, United Kingdom, Ireland, Romania, Poland, Denmark, Germany, France, Spain, Israel, South Africa, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, the Hmong, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

Josh Brown

Elgin Award chair Josh Brown is a writer of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. A graduate of the University of Minnesota–Duluth with a degree in English Literature, he has spent the past fifteen years in the publishing industry working for and with award-winning publishers and best-selling authors. An active member of SFPA, his work can be found in numerous anthologies as well as in Star*Line, Scifaikuest, Mithila Review, Fantasy Scroll Magazine, and more. His essay, “Poems and Songs of The Hobbit” was recently featured in Critical Insights: The Hobbit (Salem Press, 2016). He served as editor for issue 20 of Eye to the Telescope, the official online journal of the SFPA. He currently lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two sons.     

[Thanks to award chair Josh Brown for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 9/20/17 Won’t You Jaunt Home, Lije Bailey?

(1) IT’S ABOUT TIME. The Sun tells about the actor’s latest project — “Tom Baker is back playing Doctor Who nearly 40 years after originally playing the Time Lord”.

He recorded final scenes for Shada, written by Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy creator Douglas Adams.

It was meant to be a six-episode tale for Tom’s fourth incarnation of the Doctor in 1979-80.

But production was wrecked by a BBC technicians’ strike and only half was filmed before it was shelved.

Tom and other members of the original cast — including Lalla Ward, 66, as companion Romana — returned for the recording in Uxbridge, West London.

They are voicing animated sequences that will replace the unfilmed material.

(2) NEXT LARA CROFT. Rick Marshall on Digital Trends has “First ‘Tomb Raider’ trailer introduces Alicia Vikander as the new Lara Croft”.

Two films based on Lara Croft’s adventures preceded the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot film: 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and 2003’s Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Both films cast Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft and collectively earned $432 million at the worldwide box office, making the series one of the highest-grossing film franchises based on a video game property.

Tomb Raider hits theaters March 16, 2018.

 

(3) THE SPIRIT OF SFF. Although I’ve become inured to this phrase being code for “more nutty nuggets, please,” author Joseph Brassey has only the original meaning in mind when he talks about “Keeping the Fun in Science Fiction” at Fantasy-Faction.

I firmly believe, however, that a story should be able to confront real problems without losing its soul, its sense of fun, and this is found in the conviction that things can always be better. It is in an explicit rejection of a tone of cynicism, because work that grapples with darkness doesn’t need to assume it is in the nature of our most misanthropic, derisive qualities to prevail. Hope is not a method, but it is the precursor of methods. The spark that ignites action and turns talk of change into moving feet and hands grasping for actions of worth. Hope is not the fire. It is the lighter of fires.

The human element is everything. Where the fantastical meets the machine. Where the magic meets the skycraft. Where the sword turns aside the crackling bolt of gunfire and the pilot spins the wheel to take her ship from the roaring path of the dragon’s breath. Where conflict assails the human spirit and we find our noblest qualities in the face of ravening hate, violent authoritarianism, and bone-chilling fear.

It is in the wonder that reaches for stars, responds to fury with mercy, hatred with love, having the courage to peer beyond a terrible present to embrace a future awash with a thousand hues of color.

(4) GENRE WALK WITH ME. Abigail Nussbaum delves into her psychology as a viewer, the history of a particular show, and generational changes in the television medium in “That Gum You Like: Scattered Thoughts on Twin Peaks: The Return” at Asking the Wrong Question.

My third try with Twin Peaks was just a few months ago, when, in preparation for the upcoming revival series, I mainlined the entire 30 episodes of the show, plus Fire Walk With Me, over a long weekend.  It was strange experiencing the show this way, simultaneously a newcomer and someone who knew quite a bit about it, including the major turns of plot.  What was even stranger was how much the existence of The Return changed the meaning and significance of the original Twin Peaks, even before a single frame of it had aired.  From a failed experiment, it became merely a chapter in a story, whose later installments might yet redeem it.  Watching Twin Peaks was suddenly no longer an exercise in nostalgia and self-flagellation, but that venerable Peak TV practice of binge-watching the previous seasons before the new episodes start.  I ended up enjoying this rewatch much more than I was expecting (Fire Walk With Me, in particular, turns out to be a great deal more rewarding than I’d been led to believe), but I wonder if I would have felt the same if I didn’t know that another chapter in the saga was just around the corner.

(5) YOUR HOST, BORIS KARLOFF. It’s 1962 in England and a wonderful sf anthology series has just completed its run: “[Sep. 20, 1962] Out of this World (the British Summer SF hit!)”. Galactic Journey’s Ashley R. Pollard delivers mini-reviews of all the episodes.

As I mentioned before, this series was launched with Dumb Martian shown as part of the Armchair Theatre series.  The new series has a very spooky theme tune called The Concerto to the Stars, composed by Eric Siday, which plays against a background of moving microscopic tentacles that sets the tone for the show.  For those who are interested, Tony Hatch has expanded the theme tune into very catchy 45 record, available from all good record stores.

The format of the show has each episode introduced by Boris Karloff, who is disarmingly charming with his bon mots about the story to come.  There are two breaks for adverts, which is annoying, but this is commercial TV, so it is to be expected.  Then Mr. Karloff signs off the story with an announcement of the cast.

(6) LAWYER LETTERS GO GENRE. Adweek has the story: “Netflix Sent the Best Cease-and-Desist Letter to This Unauthorized Stranger Things Bar”.

Evidence for this comes from Chicago, where an unauthorized Stranger Things bar recently opened and has since become quite popular. Naturally, Netflix wasn’t OK with this. But instead of firing off a nasty, sharply worded missive, it sent a quite adorable letter to the owners in the style of the Stranger Things universe.

“Danny and Doug,” the letter started out…

My walkie talkie is busted so I had to write this note instead. I heard you launched a Stranger Things pop-up bar at your Logan Square location. Look, I don’t want you to think I’m a total wastoid, and I love how much you guys love the show. (Just wait until you see Season 2!) But unless I’m living in the Upside Down, I don’t think we did a deal with you for this pop-up. You’re obviously creative types, so I’m sure you can appreciate that it’s important to us to have a say in how our fans encounter the worlds we build.

We’re not going to go full Dr. Brenner on you, but we ask that you please (1) not extend the pop-up beyond its 6 week run ending in September, and (2) reach out to us for permission if you plan to do something like this again. Let me know as soon as possible that you agree to these requests.

We love our fans more than anything, but you should know the Demogorgon is not always as forgiving. So please don’t make us call your mom.

(7) THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE. Early in Honest Trailers’ take on Wonder Woman comes this line:

Now, Patty Jenkins bravely asks the question, “What if a female-led superhero movie wasn’t absolute garbage from beginning to end, and had a powerful message for girls: Save the world, look flawless doing it, be a literal god, then men might begrudgingly half-tolerate your presence?”

 

“I pretty much howled,” says Rick Moen, who sent the link, “Fair cop.”

(8) VOICE OF OUR FRIENDS. Last night a thousand people paid tribute to the late June Foray. From The Hollywood Reporter, “Veteran Voice Actress June Foray Remembered by Lily Tomlin, More at Packed Event”.

Billed as “Hokey Smokes! A June Foray Celebration,” the grand gala was produced by animation veterans Mark Evanier, Jerry Beck, Bob Bergen, Howard Green and Tom Sito and ably hosted by Evanier, who was June’s longtime friend and sometime employer.

Among the many eager to pay personal and professional tribute were Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson), Bill Mumy (who spoke of June’s guest appearance on an episode of Lost in Space), animation historian Charles Solomon, Teresa Ganzel (The Duck Factory) and a surprise guest — Lily Tomlin — who won a voiceover Emmy in 2013 the same night June received the Governors Award. Tomlin said of Foray, “The characters she played were so much more than cartoons; they were our friends.” …

Foray was also saluted for her tireless efforts to engender more respect for the world of animation as a founding member of the American branch of ASIFA (Association International du Film d’Animation), which produces the annual Annie Awards, and she is credited with helping to establish the Academy Award category for best animated feature film.

As a grand finale, Evanier invited a number of animation actresses who had been inspired by Foray’s pioneering work to come up onstage and pose for a sort of “class photo” (below) flanking a large portrait of Foray in her natural habitat — seated at a microphone….

Evanier remarked that Foray’s career began in the Golden Age of Radio in the 1930s and continued up to and including video games.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 20, 1979 – The theatrical release was edited down as the pilot episode for TV’s Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
  • September 20, 1985 Morons From Outer Space premiered theatrically on this day.
  • September 20, 1987  — Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future premiered its first and only season.
  • September 20, 2002 Firefly premiered.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born September 20, 1948 – George R.R. Martin

(11) MALTIN ON ELLISON BIO. Leonard Maltin approves “A LIT FUSE: THE PROVOCATIVE LIFE OF HARLAN ELLISON: AN EXPLORATION WITH EXTENSIVE INTERVIEWS by Nat Segaloff (Nesfa Press)” which is more than I can say ‘til I read it. And maybe then.

Harlan Ellison is one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met. An author, activist, and professional provocateur, he is incapable of being dull, which makes this book a page-turner almost by definition. His fame in the field of science-fiction obscures other facets of his career, including writing for television and movies. It’s all chronicled in this highly readable profile by a longtime friend and follower. No single book could cover the entirety of Ellison’s life, or reproduce every one of his memorable rants, but Segaloff makes a healthy start in that direction.

(12) QUARTER CENTURY MARK. SyFy Wire continues to celebrate the channel’s 25th anniversary with lists – today “25 people we really miss”.

In the last 25 years, we’ve had some amazing new creators of science fiction, fantasy, and horror emerge – but we’ve lost many true legends in the field along the way, as well. These writers, artists, actors, and visionaries helped to make our world a richer place with the power of their imaginations and continue to inspire us long after they’re gone.

How often are you going to see David Bowie on a list sandwiched between Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury?

(13) LOTS TO TALK ABOUT. Amal El-Mohtar sees strengths and weaknesses in Annalee Newitz’ Autonomous: “In A Future Ruled By Big Pharma, A Robot Tentatively Explores Freedom — And Sex: ‘Autonomous'”.

I rarely dog-ear the books I read for review, trusting myself to remember their most notable aspects. I dog-eared enough of Autonomous‘ pages to almost double its thickness, such was the granularity of things I wanted to highlight, praise, and discuss. From startling insights to delicately turned prose to whole passages of unbearably tender musings on the intimate desires of artificial intelligence, there’s much more than I can feasibly talk about here. But here’s some highlights.

Autonomous‘ main interest is the danger our late capitalist modernity poses to personhood, and the intricacies of what it means to be free – from ownership, from programming, from the circumstances of one’s birth. But the parts that enthralled and moved me most – to laughter, to tears – were the musings on sexuality, and the contrast between Jack and Paladin’s respective experiences. Throughout most of the novel, Jack’s relationship to sexuality is written in clinical, chemical terms, a physical means to a physical end; Paladin’s, meanwhile, is explored in intimate, puzzled probings, often starkly contrasted with the extreme violence for which Paladin was built. I loved the contrast between seeing a woman treat sex as casually as an itch to scratch, and a genderless robot building romance and sexuality from first principles, through internet searches, conversations with other AIs, and awkward, fumbling experiments.

(14) BUGS M ‘LADY: Sophia Spencer and Morgan Jackson co-wrote a scientific paper on Twitter, entomology and women in science, after a tweet about Sophia’s love for bugs went viral: “Once Teased For Her Love Of Bugs, 8-Year-Old Co-Authors Scientific Paper”

We were hoping that we could find an entomologist or two, perhaps, that would be willing to talk to Sophie and share a little bit about their backstory,” he said. “We were blown away with the number of people who came charging to help Sophia.” The organization received more than a thousand replies and more than 130 direct messages.

(15) WOMEN IN POP CULTURE. Alexandra Heller-Nicholas takes a victory lap in “Hard Corps: Women in power and the politics of taking action”.

This same toxicity has recently riddled science fiction and fantasy literature as well. In 2015 and 2016, alt-right trolls took aim at the prestigious Hugo Awards and what they perceived as a leftist bias. Women, of course, have long had a forceful presence in this literary domain, particularly those driven by strong ideological motivations: Ursula Le Guin, Margaret Atwood and Octavia Butler to name but a few. And in film, directors including Kristina Buozyte, Kate Chaplin, Kathryn Bigelow, Jennifer Phang and Lizzie Borden have each used science fiction codes and conventions in profound and often diverse ways.

But it is in front of the camera that the genre’s history of strong, active women is the most visible and diverse. Heroine Maria and her evil gynoid doppelga?nger in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, aggressive sex bomb Jane Fonda as the title character in Roger Vadim’s Barbarella, turbo-mum Sarah Connor from the Terminator franchise, resourceful Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, and – of course – the iconic image of the no-shit-taking woman, Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley from the Alien movies. For starters.

But if we’re going to lift the lid off of this particular Pandora’s Box, it’s worth doing it properly. Representations of strong women in cinema bleed outwards across eras, production contexts and the often blurry lines of film genre itself. Any prehistory of women characters in the recent Star Wars movies – Rey (Daisy Ridley) from The Force Awakens and Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) from Rogue One – must necessarily look far beyond the terrain of sci-fi itself.

(16) TERMINATOR WILL RETURN. Borys Kit’s Hollywood Reporter story “Linda Hamilton Set to Return to ‘Terminator’ Franchise”, says that James Cameron is producing a new Terminator film, to be directed by Deadpool director Tim Miller.

After waving hasta la vista, baby, more than 25 years ago, Linda Hamilton is returning to the world of Terminator, reuniting with James Cameron, the creator of the sci-fi franchise, for the new installment being made by Skydance and Paramount.

Cameron made the announcement at a private event celebrating the storied franchise, saying, “As meaningful as she was to gender and action stars everywhere back then, it’s going to make a huge statement to have that seasoned warrior that she’s become return.”

With Hamilton’s return, Cameron hopes to once again make a statement on gender roles in action movies.

“There are 50-year-old, 60-year-old guys out there killing bad guys,” he said, referring to aging male actors still anchoring movies, “but there isn’t an example of that for women.”

(17) G AS IN GEEZER. Meanwhile, an octagenarian male hero gets the glory in William Shatner’s Zero-G: Green Space, released September `9.

In the second installment of William Shatner’s Zero-G series, Director Samuel Lord must identify a mole sabotaging the top-secret NASA project aboard the US space station Empyrean, while also fighting a fast-replicating virus that threatens humanity. In the year 2050, the United States sends the FBI to govern its space station, The Empyrean. Under the command of suave, eighty-year-old director Samuel Lord, the “Zero-G” men are in charge of investigating terrorism, crime, corruption, and espionage, keeping an eye on the rival Chinese and Russian stations as well….

(18)  PUNISHER. Nextflix has a new trailer up for the Punisher.

[Thanks to JJ, Meredith, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Adam West Day in Walla Walla

Batman (Clint Young) greets young visitors at the Adam West Day opening ceremonies.

By Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag: A much needed but ill-timed rainstorm didn’t dampen spirits at the opening ceremonies of Adam West Day in Walla Walla on Tuesday, September 19, 2017.

This first Adam West Day started at 11 a.m. at a small plaza in downtown Walla Walla. Event organizer Jonathan Grant introduced Walla Walla Mayor Allen Pomraning. The Mayor then invited members of Adam West’s family in front of the sizable crowd and introduced them.

Mayor Allen Pomraning opened the celebration by reading the official city council proclamation declaring September 19 to be Adam West Day in the city – in 2017 and in the future. Organizer Jonathan Grant confirmed plans to hold this event annually.

West’s youngest son, Perrin, and West’s widow Marcelle cut a ribbon to open the festivities. Pomraning then presented them with a key to the city. The family opened a present from the city – a street sign that will be placed at the corner of Alvarado Terrace and Clinton Street declaring the area where Adam’s childhood home is located to be “Honorable Adam West Way”.

Event Organizer Jonathan Grant introduces Walla Walla Mayor Allen Pomraning at the opening ceremonies of the first Adam West Day in Walla Walla Washington.

The family of Adam West listen as Walla Walla Mayor Allen Pomraning reads the official declaration of Adam West Day.

Perrin Anderson, Adam West’s son and Marcelle West, Adam West’s widow, cut a ribbon to open the Adam West Day festivities in Walla Walla.

Marcelle West holds the Key to the City given to her by Walla Walla’s mayor.

The family of Adam West look on at the new street sign that will declare the street Adam West grew up on to be “Honorary Adam West Way”.

As a classic Batman (Clint Young) arrived to have photos taken with visitors and to meet with a group of pre-school children attending the event, the rain increased and many of the crowd sought shelter in nearby shops. Batman retreated under an awning and continued to greet the enthusiastic children and their equally enthusiastic parents and other adults. Due to the rain, the Batmobile did not make an appearance at the opening ceremony.

Many downtown Walla Walla businesses had Batman stickers in the windows in support of Adam West Day.

About an hour later crowds gathered in the ballroom of the Marcus Whitman Hotel to hear a conversation with Ruben Procopio, an artist who has worked on many Batman ’66 projects and drew the image of Adam West on all the promotional materials for the day. The event was well-attended, and the hotel provided bat-shaped cookies, which were quickly eaten by guests.

The hotel provided Bat-cookies for those attending Adam West Day ceremonies.

The Batmobile was available for pictures, and some fans were even allowed to sit in the car for photos.

Procopio started by saying he had come to pay his respects to Adam West, a lifelong inspiration. “Happy birthday, Adam, wherever you are!”

Procopio talked about coming to the United States at the age of five and immediately loving Adam West’s Batman. “I thought of it as real, and didn’t understand the camp so much until later,” he said. “Then I admired it for how well he pulled it off. The character meant so much to me throughout my whole life.”

He said he first met West in 1980 as a young fan, and became good friends with him. The two saw each other frequently at events, and Procopio eventually created a small sculpture of West that was sold in extremely limited quantities. He showed images of Adam West examining the prototypes during the approval process.

The ballroom at the Marcus Whitman Hotel was nicely crowded for a talk by Ruben Procopio about his career and how he was influenced by Adam West.

A conceptual drawing of a proposed Adam West statue is unveiled for the crowd by Ruben Procopio. If approved by the Walla Walla city council, the statue would be privately funded and placed in Menlo Park in Walla Walla.

Procopio said he’d been working on the animated Batman ’66 movies when West passed away. Two of them are finished, with Return of the Caped Crusaders already released and Batman vs Two-Face coming out later this year. William Shatner is the voice of Two-Face.

“I had envisioned Adam and William Shatner on a panel to promote the release of the film together,” Procopio said. “It would have been wonderful.” He said Burt Ward and Shatner will probably do the introduction at New York Comic Con.

Event organizer Jonathan Grant helped Procopio unveil the concept art for a statue of Adam West that they hope to privately fund and place in Menlo Park in Walla Walla. Grant is also petitioning the city to change the name of the park to Adam West Park. Grant said the next presentation will be October 3 and that he planned to “do what it takes as long as it takes” to get the statue up and the park renamed.

The city’s banners celebrated Adam West Day, complete with art by Ruben Procopio.

Ruben Procopio did the drawing of Adam West gracing the promotional material for Adam West Day. Fan Don Lien got an autograph for a unique piece of memorabilia of the event.

In addition to the speech, there were door prizes given away via drawings of bats taped to the underside of chairs. The prizes included mugs and art prints.

After the speech, the Batmobile was made available for photos in front of the hotel. The rain also let up and by 4 p.m. the sun was shining brightly on the city.

Children posed with Batman in front of the Batmobile in the afternoon, after the rain finally let up.

Batman fan Don Lien drove in from Pendleton to celebrate Batman, wearing his Batman belt buckle and a Batman t-shirt.

Huntress, another member of the Bat-family, showed up to provide support at Adam West Day.

From 3 p.m. until about 6 p.m. the Batmobile was at the plaza where the opening ceremonies took place. In addition to live music, Batman stickers were given to everyone and children got extra stickers and Batman masks. A face-painter gave many children Batman designs. Local businesses were overflowing.

The Batmobile arrives at the Gesa Power House Theatre.

The Gesa Power House Theatre was an actual power house until about ten years ago, when it was converted into a theatre. Adam West fans lined up for the free screening of “Starring Adam West”.

A crowd formed at the Gesa Power House Theatre at 7 p.m. for the free movie Starring Adam West, a documentary about how West got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. With members of Adam’s family in attendance cheering at their own and other family members’ appearances mixed with loud cheers from the local audience every time Walla Walla was mentioned, the screening was intensely emotional.

After the screening, Producer Ralph Garman and Director James Tooley spoke about the process of making the film and answered questions from the audience. Tooley said this was the first screening of the movie he’s been to without Adam in the audience with him, and the reactions were the most amazing and yet so bittersweet.

Garman, who pushed hard for the star on the Walk of Fame, talked about his relationship with West. He was asked to do his impression of West, and started with a “Sometimes you can’t get rid of a bomb” that sounded very little like West, followed up immediately with a spot-on impression of Adam West saying “That sounds nothing like me.” The audience enjoyed it, along with other impressions Garman later dropped into the discussion.

Garman said that West, who had multiple failed attempts at getting a star before he finally got one, cared deeply about it although he claimed repeatedly that he didn’t care. “It was a gift to him, and to his fans, that will last.”

Producer Ralph Garman and Director James Tooley answer questions about “Starring Adam West” after the screening of the movie.

Garman talked about how Adam West took the title of “Bright Knight” instead of the Dark Knight. He was proud of having inspired people, and told the audience about all the policemen and firefighters who approached him to say that Batman helped them choose their careers. He also recommended people look for “An Evening With Adam West” podcast online, because there is nothing quite like hearing West tell his story in his own words.

In 2004, Adam West starred in a movie called Monster Island. Unfortunately, a short piece of dialogue didn’t record right, and the director asked West to rerecord it. Because it was such a short bit of dialogue, West recorded it at home and sent it to the director. Garman and Tooley mentioned it to point out West’s professionalism. Instead of just recording it one way, he made a minute-long recording of him saying it in every way he could possibly think of saying it. You can find the recording on YouTube (https://youtu.be/pa6TCgS6GL4) and hear Adam West telling folks to “Come on, let’s go!”

At the end of the conversation, a local woman told her story of meeting Adam West during San Diego Comic Con many years ago. She said she bought a photo of him then looked all over the hotel, trying to find him. She finally spotted him in a crowd of people signing autographs as he headed toward an elevator. She realized there was no way she would get to him in time, so she shouted to him, “Walla Walla still loves you!” He looked up at her, then the crowds parted to let her in, and he invited her onto the elevator with his entourage. As he signed her photo, she told him how proud his hometown was of him, and said he was delighted.

Now after dark, the group of fans headed back to the Marcus Whitman Hotel for the lighting of the Bat Signal. Walla Walla Police Chief Scott Bieber said a few words about Batman, apologizing on behalf of Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara, who were unable to attend. Then he put his hand to his ear and said, “Oh no, we have a crime in Walla Walla!” Mayor Pomraning, who had been standing nearby, rushed up at the Chief’s call, and the two of them decided to “light the bat light!” and turned to the crowd to ask for a countdown from ten. Just after “one!” was shouted by many voices, the Bat Signal appeared on the side of the hotel.

Walla Walla Police Chief Scott Bieber tells the mayor that the city is in danger and needs help from Batman.

The Bat Signal shines over Walla Walla in memory of Adam West.

The crowd was then invited to an after-party at Sapolil Cellars, just down the street, featuring the promise of good Walla Walla wine and the Batusi. Ye ol’ reporter needed to head home — a two-hour drive — and so missed the party.

My own impressions of the day: Wow. Walla Walla has the best downtown, and everyone was welcoming and excited to be part of celebrating Adam West’s life. Most stores had a Batman sticker in the window. The town is filled with historic buildings, including the Marcus Whitman Hotel, which is gorgeous inside and out. The Power House Theatre was literally a power house until it was converted into a theatre about 10 years ago, and it’s a unique experience to see a film there.

The door prizes at the ballroom were fun — I got one, but gave it up to another fan who I realized would treasure it way more than I could. Both myself and my traveling companion for the day didn’t expect to enjoy the movie as much as we did. In short, it was a fantastic day, and I hope to attend the event again in the future.

Half the people in town on Tuesday were wearing some sort of Batman symbol, including this couple resting in the Marcus Whitman Hotel.

A display case at the Marcus Whitman Hotel showed off Batman and Adam West memorabilia, including a bust of Adam West sculpted by Ruben Procopio, who spoke at the event.

Shakespeare’s bust faithfully hides the secret of Batman’s lair.

The Marcus Whitman Hotel decorated its lobby with a number of photos of Adam West in many different roles, including many tributes to his version of Batman.

Photo opportunities abounded in the hotel.

Trimbles Walk the Red Carpet at Star Trek: Discovery Screening

Nichelle Nichols and Sonequa Martin-Green

The first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery were feted in a Hollywood premiere at ArcLight Cinemas on September 19. CBS has posted a gallery of photos of the cast and celebrities in attendance — “Red Alert! All The Red Carpet Arrivals At The Star Trek: Discovery Premiere”. (Pay no mind that the carpet seems to have been blue — let’s consider it a term of art.)

CBS’ photo gallery includes Bjo and John Trimble, recognized for leading the letter-writing campaign that saved The Original Series in the Sixties.

In addition to the stars of Star Trek: Discovery, present at the premiere were William Shatner, Nichelle Nichols, Nana Visitor, Terry Farrell, Adam Nimoy, Jonathan Frakes, Bill Nye, Greg Jein, Rick Sternbach, and Mike and Denise Okuda. (Not all those named here are in the photos.)

Bjo and John Trimble at Star Trek: Discovery premiere.

Remembering Shirley Maiewski

By Carl Slaughter: Shirley Maiewski (1920-2004) was known as “Grandma Trek.”

She served as chairman of the Star Trek Welcome Committee, acting as a liaison between the corporate world and the fan community.  She kept the franchise flame alive between cancellation of the show and the start of the movie series.

Maiewski also wrote one of the most popular fan fic stories, “Mindsifter.”  It appeared in Bantam’s Star Trek: The New Voyages (1976), edited by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath, the second of the Star Trek anthologies commissioned by Frederik Pohl.

She didn’t write any more fan fiction for 2 reasons:  1) “Mindsifter” was revised without her knowledge or permission.  2) Reviewers deconstructed it.  She was so upset with Bantam, she called for a boycott.  Because of her status in the fan community, Bantam’s source of fan fic manuscripts dried up.

After 40 years, “Mindsifter” finally got a screen adaptation. It wasn’t New Voyages best episode and the print version is much better.

  • Star Trek:  New Voyages:

  • Director’s commentary: