Knull Overtakes These Marvel Heroes In December Covers

Knull is coming. The God of Symbiotes will make his long-dreaded arrival this December in King In Black, the Marvel Comics event that delivers on everything Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman have built up in their groundbreaking run on Venom. To celebrate this epic storyline, readers can see Knullified versions of their favorite Marvel heroes on twisted variant covers coming in December.

These chaotic versions of heroes like Captain America, Thor, and Storm reveal just what happens when Knull’s overwhelming darkness overcomes the Marvel Universe as we know it. See some of these glorious covers below, featuring an all-star artist lineup including Skan, Ken Lashley, Taurin Clark, Iban Coello, and more. Be on the lookout for more Knullified variant covers coming your way and brace yourself for Knull’s impact this December in King In Black.

The cover art follows the jump.

[Based on a press release.]

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Pixel Scroll 9/21/20 A Sandworm Wearing A Face Mask Walks Into A Bar

(1) TOP TARDIS OWNER DECIDED AT BALLOT BOX. Radio Times counted 50,000 votes and the result was close — “Doctor Who fans vote David Tennant best Doctor, narrowly beating Jodie Whittaker”.

…Both actors took 21 per cent of the overall poll vote with over 10,000 votes apiece, with Tennant squeaking ahead with just 100 extra votes in the final count. At other points, Whittaker had been leading the poll or was just below eventual third place winner Peter Capaldi, Whittaker’s predecessor in the role (playing the Twelfth Doctor from 2013-2017) who claimed 18 per cent in the final count….

You can see a full breakdown of the votes and results below.

  1. David Tennant 10518 / 21%
  2. Jodie Whittaker 10423 / 21%
  3. Peter Capaldi 8897 / 18%
  4. Matt Smith 7637 / 16%
  5. Tom Baker 3977 / 8%
  6. William Hartnell 1983 / 4%
  7. Paul McGann 1427 / 3%
  8. Christopher Eccleston 1144 / 2%
  9. Jon Pertwee 1038 / 2%
  10. Patrick Troughton 915 / 2%
  11. Sylvester McCoy 462 / 1%
  12. Colin Baker 359 / 1%
  13. Peter Davison 351 / 1%

(2) STAR CHOW. Sir Pat Stew and Mark Hamill (as Luke Skywalker) face off in a new commercial for Uber Eats.

(3) A COUPLE OF…WHAT? That’s what they’re trying to figure out. Disney+ dropped a trailer for WandaVision.

Welcome to WandaVision. Coming soon to Disney+. Marvel Studios’ captivating new series “WandaVision” stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, and marks the first series from Marvel Studios streaming exclusively on Disney+. The series is a blend of classic television and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in which Wanda Maximoff and Vision—two super-powered beings living idealized suburban lives—begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.

(4) OUTPOST. Skeptoid Media and The Outpost’s title sponsor, Texas Tech, will host a new virtual popular science and entertainment convention, Outpost 2020, from October 23-25, 2020. Yoon Ha Lee will be one of the GoHs.

With an interdisciplinary focus on entertainment, science, literature and education, Outpost 2020 is what happens when a comic con meets a science fair and sets up shop at the intersection of science literacy and science fiction.  In addition to social events, a screening of Science Friction and two full days of panels, The Outpost will feature a track of podcasts recording live, including Everyday Einsten, Grief Burrito, Monster Talk and more. Guests of honor include planetary scientist Tanya Harrison (Tanya of Mars); Locus winner Yoon Ha Lee (Machineries of Empire); actress Susan Egan (Steven Universe), and award-winning composer Brian Tyler (Avengers: Age of Ultron.)

The virtual format enables attendees to tune in from anywhere in the world and the event will be recorded for those who are unable to attend live via Crowdcast. To maximize accessibility, ticket prices are only $25, and a limited number of free tickets are available at registration.

Asteroid Awards. Outpost 2020 features the inaugural Asteroid Awards, recognizing the impact of entertainers, educators and scientists working to further an informed future by inspiring audiences with innovation and the power of narrative. Each award will come with a cash prize sponsored by Texas Tech or Skeptoid Media, and winners will be announced in an awards ceremony on October 24.

(5) BLEAK DEFINITION. Merriam-Webster’s “Words We’re Watching” today discusses “On ‘Doomsurfing’ and ‘Doomscrolling’”]

What to Know

Doomscrolling and doomsurfing are new terms referring to the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing. Many people are finding themselves reading continuously bad news about COVID-19 without the ability to stop or step back….

(6) DUBLIN DOWNLOAD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Financial Times Reader.] In the September 18 Financial Times, Sarah Hemming writes about To Be A Machine (Version 1.0), a play at the Dublin Theatre Festival (dublintheatrefestival.ie) being performed until October 10 and adapted from Mark O’Connell’s book about people who want to download their brains into computers.

Now the book is a play.  And not only that–it’s a play that mirrors its subject, inviting you to attend in person by sending in your disembodied self via video.  To Be A Machine (Version 1.0), which opens (live-streamed shortly at Dublin Theatre Festival, features actor Jack Gleeson, playing the bemused O’Connell while around him 110 audience members flicker on multiple iPad screens.

The show was originally going to be more conventional, a piece with disembodied actors and a physical audience that explored the friction between the transhumanist desire to free ourselves from our bodies nd the fct live theatre depends on bodies in a room.  Then the pandemic intervened.  The solution seems curiously apt, playing with the idea of what theatre ‘without the hindrance of the body’ actually means.

(7) COBB OBIT. Ron Cobb, a former draughtsman with the Army Corps in Vietnam who became a famous cartoonist for the LA Free Press and went on to a career in Hollywood, died September 21. “Ron Cobb, Designer of the ‘Alien’ Ship and the ‘Back to the Future’ DeLorean, Dies at 83”.

Ron Cobb, the underground cartoonist turned production designer who influenced the making of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and helped shape the worlds of Conan the BarbarianAlien and Back to the Future, has died. He was 83.

Cobb died Monday — his birthday — of Lewy body dementia in Sydney, his wife of 48 years, Robin Love, reported.

Cobb brought to life several cantina creatures for Star Wars (1977) and came up with weaponry and sets for Conan the Barbarian (1982), the exterior and interior of the Nostromo ship in Alien (1978) and the earth colony complex in Aliens (1986) and the DeLorean time machine in Back to the Future (1985).

His prolific design work also included the breathing tanks and helmets in The Abyss (1989), the Omega Sector logo and the H bombs in True Lies (1990)the interior of the Mothership and the stranded tanker in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and the vehicles of The Last Starfighter (1984)….

Rick Sternbach said, “He was amazing to work with on The Last Starfighter. We know of his incredible skills as an artist, and I learned a great deal from him on that single film, but the thing that impressed me the most was his almost giddy enthusiasm for SF and tech.”

Early in his career, Cobb designed some covers for Forry Ackerman’s Famous Monsters. He even showed up for the first meeting in LASFS’ original clubhouse in 1973.

First meeting at the original LASFS clubhouse in 1973. Photo by Stan Burns. Back row, L to R: Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Jerry Pournelle, A. E. Van Vogt, Forry Ackerman. Middle row, L to R: Unknown, Harlan Ellison, Larry Niven, Wendayne Ackerman Front row, L to R: Unknown, Bill Mills, Ron Cobb.

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • Fourteen years ago, the Worldcon Guest of Honor Speeches as edited by Mike Resnick and Joe Siclari was published by ISFiC Press. It would place second for Best Related Work to James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B Sheldon by Julie Phillips at Nippon 2007.  With an introductory essay by the editors, it collected a number, though not all, of the speeches made by Guests of Honor starting with the one by Frank R. Paul at the first Worldcon up to the one by Christopher Priest at Interaction. Some have been published elsewhere such as Philip José Farmer’s which appeared as “ Reap” first in Richard E. Geis’ Science Fiction Review in November 1968. It had a press run of a thousand copies with a cover by Bob Eggleton who had won a Hugo for Best Professional Artist at L.A. Con III. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born September 21, 1840 – Thèrése Bentzon.  Essayist, journalist, novelist, translator.  Important in the history of e.g. abolitionism and feminism.  Translated Dickens and Twain.  For us, she tr. (and abridged and rewrote, alas) some of Haggard’s Allan Quatermain in 1888 (and yes, J. Hetzel did it).  (Died 1907) [JH]
  • Born September 21, 1866 – H.G. Wells.  Two dozen novels, a hundred short stories, for us; many others, essays, even this which he illustrated himself.  Hardly kept his opinions out of his fiction; sold his birthright for a pot of message, said Chesterton; but The Time MachineThe War of the WorldsThe Invisible Man, at least, are classic.  (Died 1946) [JH]
  • Born September 21, 1912 – Rod Ruth.  Good at interiors, of which he did nearly two hundred; a few covers, like this for the Dec 41 Amazing.  Here is “Letter to the Editor” (note fictional date 24 Nov 10!) from the Feb 44 Fantastic.  Series, “Romance of the Elements”; here is Hydrogen.  Outside our field, here is a Julian May book; RR also drew The Toodles.  (Died 1987) [JH]
  • Born September 21, 1912 — Chuck JonesLooney Tunes and Merrie Melodies creator (think Bugs Bunny). His work won three Oscars, and the Academy also gave him an honorary one in 1996.  (Died 2002.) (CE)
  • Born September 21, 1935 Henry Gibson. I’m going confess upfront that I remember best him as a cast member of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. On regards his genre work, he showed up on the My Favorite Martian series as Homer P. Gibson, he was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as an uncredited dancer, in Bewitched twice, once as Napoleon Bonaparte, once as Tim O’ Shanter, he was the voice of Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web, in The Incredible Shrinking Woman as Dr. Eugene Nortz, and even in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the “Profit and Lace” episode to exact in which he was Nilva, a Ferengi. (Died 2009.) (CE) 
  • Born September 21, 1937 – Ron Cobb, 83.  Having worked on Sleeping Beauty he became a political cartoonist for the Los Angeles Free Press and The Mother Earth News.  In our field he did motion picture design work for AlienConan the BarbarianThe Last StarfighterStar Wars; also Rocket Science Games.  Here is his cover for the Jul 59 F&SF.  Here is a ship he designed for Alien.  Artbook, Colorvision.  [JH]
  • Born September 21, 1947 Nick Castle, 73. He co-wrote with director John Carpenter the scripts for Escape from New York and Escape from L.A., but he’s best remembered for directing The Last Starfighter. He was Michael Myers in Halloween, a role he’d later reprise in, errr, Halloween.  His other interesting genre cred is performing the title song of Big Trouble in Little China as The Coup De Villes with Carpenter and Tommy Lee Wallace. (CE) 
  • Born September 21, 1947 Stephen King, 73. I once saw him leaning up against a wall in Bangor outside his favorite breakfast spot nose deep in a paperback novel. I didn’t approach him to see what he was reading so intently. That’s how his native city treats him. Favorite by him? I’m not fond of his novels but I love his novellas and shorter fiction, so Different SeasonsFour Past Midnight and Skeleton Crew are my picks.  (CE)
  • Born September 21, 1950 Bill Murray, 70. Scrooged is my favorite film by him by a long shot followed by the first Ghostbusters film as I remain ambivalent about the second Ghostbusters film. I’m also fond of his voicing of Clive the Badger in Fantastic Mr. Fox. (CE)
  • Born September 21, 1964 – Andy Duncan, 56.  Three dozen short stories; a sestina in Asimov’s; essays, reviews in The Cambridge Companion to SFFoundationLocusNova Express (i.e. the fanzine, not the W. Burroughs book), NY Rev SF; interviewed in Intergalactic Medicine ShowLightspeedStrange Horizons.  One Sturgeon, one Nebula, three World Fantasy Awards.  [JH]
  • Born September 21, 1972 – Laurine Spehner, 48.  A dozen covers, three dozen interiors; a few short stories.  Here is The Year in Québécois SF, 1999 (2004) and here is 1994 (2014); here is Solaris 204 and here is 215 (all in French).  [JH]
  • Born September 21, 1983 – Cassandra Rose Clarke, 37.  A dozen novels, a score of shorter stories; a sestina in Liminality, half a dozen more poems.  John Clute says Star’s End has “ethical complexity that marks the tale off from much space opera”.  CRC ranks, low to high, We Have Always Lived in the CastleDeclarePale Fire.  [JH]
  • Born September 21, 1990 Allison Scagliotti, 30. One of the primary cast of Warehouse 13, a show that I really, really loved. Her first genre role was as Jayna, one of the Wonder Twins, on the Smallville series. And she showed in a crossover episode of Eureka called appropriately “Crossing Over”. Her last gig is as Camille Engelson on Stitchers which to my surprise got good ratings. (CE)

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT. [Item by rcade.] The Sunday installment of the Mutts comic strip brings back a character not seen on the funny pages since the 1950s:

The catchphrase “Nov Schmoz Ka Pop?” identifies the Keebler Elf-looking fellow as the Little Hitchhiker, the creation of Gene Ahern in the Squirrel Cage comic strip that ran from 1936 to 1953. The absurd ride-thumbing character inspired Robert Crumb’s iconic Mr. Natural from the underground comix era.

Mutts creator Patrick McDonnell is a fan of classic strips, sometimes bringing their characters into his own. Before the Little Hitchhiker, there was a 10-strip series in August featuring Popeye, Olive Oil and Sea Hag.

(12) CRAZY-EX NEXT. Rachel Bloom, first introduced to fans by her Hugo-nominated song about Ray Bradbury, has a new project: “Romantic Mystery Drama ‘I’m In Love With The Dancer From My Bat Mitzvah’ in Development at The CW”.

A romantic mystery drama called I’m In Love With The Dancer From My Bat Mitzvah is in development at The CW, according to Deadline. The series comes from CBS Studios.

Ilana Wolpert (High School Musical: The Musical: The Series) will serve as creator, writer, and executive producer. Rachel Bloom (Robot Chicken) will also write and executive producer with Debbie Liebling signed on as an EP (PEN15).

The new series follows a young woman right before her college graduation who gets romantically rejected by her best friend. She soon becomes obsessed with a dancer from her bat mitzvah and convinces her friends to join her down a path of criminal conspiracy. The story is inspired by true events and explores the theme of what we tell ourselves in order to prevent dealing with the reality of a situation.

This is the next project for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend alums Wolpert and Bloom. The CW series ended in 2019.

(13) WITH A CAST OF LEGO. The Star Wars Holiday Special, famous for all the wrong reasons, is getting a second chance: “The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special To Premiere On Disney+”

This November, The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, — which premieres on Life Day, November 17, 2020 on Disney+, — will reunite Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewie, Rose and all your favorite droids, from R2-D2 to BB-8, for a joyous feast on Life Day, the holiday first introduced in 1978’s Star Wars Holiday Special. The new LEGO special is the first to debut on the streaming platform and will continue the rich longtime collaboration between Lucasfilm and the LEGO Group — playful adventures told in an endearingly irreverent way.

Set after the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Rey leaves her friends to prepare for Life Day as she embarks on a new adventure with BB-8 to gain a deeper knowledge of the Force. At a mysterious Jedi temple, Rey finds herself hurled into a cross-timeline adventure through beloved moments in Star Wars cinematic history, coming into contact with Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and other iconic heroes and villains from all nine Skywalker saga films. But will she make it back in time for the Life Day feast and learn the true meaning of holiday spirit?  You’ll have to watch to find out!

(14) CANON, CAN OFF. [Item by Daniel Dern.] This “Walk’n’Cut” can opener from Tanga looks (to me) like Ultron’s nephew, or something.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that the producers of the Hobbit movies turned one normal-sized book into three very long movies by padding the hell out of it and throwing in stuff that’s completely unnecessary.”

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

Starburst Hero Award Launched

Starburst Magazine has created a new award, The Starburst Hero Award For Literature, “to be given to a member of the genre literature community who has gone above and beyond to serve the genre literature community.”

The inaugural award has been created by professional prop-maker Jez Hunt, who has produced armor and props for shows such as Cursed and the movie Tolkien. This year’s award will be a specially-designed shield, a fitting award for a hero.

The award will be announced as part of a ceremony at Octocon 2020, The National Irish Science Fiction Convention. The same ceremony will also announce the winner of Starburst Magazine’s prestigious Brave New Words Award.

The shortlist for the Brave New Words Award (which is an award for works considered Brave and New), is below.

  • Evan Winter — Rage of Dragons (Orbit Books)
  • Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar — This is How You Lose the Time War (Jo Fletcher Books)
  • Tyler Hayes — The Imaginary Corpse (Angry Robot)
  • Sady Doyle — Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers (MHP Books)
  • Nisi Shawl — New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color (Rebellion)
  • Tamsyn Muir — Gideon the Ninth (Tor)

The ceremony will include a panel from the Brave New Words Award judges and the actual award announcements will be made by comedian John Robertson, who is best known for his video game themed comedy show The Dark Room.

For more information on Octocon 2020, which is free and online this year, go here.

How Seeds of Dystopia in the Present Make a Novel Set in the Future: A Guest Post by Chris Panatier

Chris Panatier lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, daughter, and a fluctuating herd of animals resembling dogs (one is almost certainly a goat). He writes short stories and novels, “plays” the drums, and draws album covers for metal bands. 

By Chris Panatier: A number of readers have remarked that my debut sci-fi/dystopian novel, The Phlebotomist, has a realistic feel and that many of the events depicted in its pages “could really happen today.” These points may actually undersell the parallels between our current reality and the world of the book. In fact—and this is the subject of a conversation I’ve had with other writers already — we need to up our game if we’re going to present a dystopian vision of the future. The year 2020 has sped up the clock, blurring the line between reality and dystopia such that there is a real possibility that “dystopian” ceases to be a separate genre. They’ll just call it “contemporary fiction.”

Like other authors who want their future stories to be plausible, I extrapolated the present to the future, doing my best to gauge where our trajectory might have us in another forty-seven years. But some elements of the story I didn’t have to extrapolate to at all; they exist today. I just cranked them up a bit. The following are a few examples from the book that were direct extrapolations from our present world.

The concept of media control is hardwired into the DNA of dystopian storytelling, and so my including it was hardly revelatory. However, the timing of this story makes it feel particularly chilling. In The Phlebotomist, all media is controlled by the State. The “state” is ambiguous, as from our main character’s point of view, it is indistinguishable from the blood contractor she works for, a massive conglomerate called Patriot. If you want to watch television, you tune to “the Channel”, which is run by Patriot. The most popular show is called “The Patriot Report”. News is beamed to your ‘touchstone’ (a handheld device provided by Patriot) in the form of “PatrioCasts” which advise of current blood demands, price changes, and any news deemed fit to transmit. By controlling media, the government both manipulates the truth and prevents organized dissent.

The seedlings of state-run media have already sprouted in the United States. Other countries have been there for decades. America has a handful of very powerful media companies and groups that have made it their mission to broadcast “news” that is aligned with government positions or simply to damage the value of facts. The popularity, volume, and intensity of these dispatches threaten to wash other voices out. A fire hose versus a squirt gun. In the world of The Phlebotomist, the fire hose has won out.

Next, there’s the food. In the geographically ambiguous world of The Phlebotomist, there is a mandatory blood draw called “The Harvest.” Those who can manage to give more, earn cash selling extra. Price is dictated by blood type and society has become segregated according to it. But even those who can earn more money because of favorable genetics are relatively poor, and there are a paltry few jobs. Rather than subsidize people’s income in order to allow them to buy necessities, the government, through Patriot, provides food directly with bi-monthly distributions of something called “The Box.” The Box is a literal box containing little more than cheap staples to provide basic nourishment—just enough, really, to keep people alive. If a recipient misses the Harvest, they are removed from The Box program and must fend for themselves.

This idea sounds extreme, I know, but hear me out: I stole it from Donald Trump. Just google the “American Harvest Box”. This was an idea the President of the United States proposed in 2018, and it was a perfect way for me to capture how authoritarian regimes dehumanize their poorer citizenry. Fortunately, Trump’s idea was roundly rejected by just about all stakeholders and hasn’t become part of the American story. Yet.

Lastly, polarization. Today, we stand squarely in the muck of a post-truth world, where people have a hard time discerning what is true and what is false, and where swaths of the citizenry are told that certain groups are coming for their jobs, their homes, their families, and their way of life. This intentional division of the population serves two purposes: one is to make it easier to push a narrative without the necessity of facts to support it; the second is to weaken the citizenry by dividing it. In The Phlebotomist, where the economy is founded upon blood, the government foments paranoia about bloodborne illnesses, making neighbors suspicious, thus pitting one against the other. People spy on their fellow citizens while the state encroaches.

I believe that what makes dystopia attractive to readers is that tinge of fear it transmits; that what the pages contain could happen in real life. And to keep that fear on simmer without boiling over and evaporating, a dystopian vision has to be plausibly tied to our current world. How well does that future vision relate to what we already know? What I did for The Phlebotomist was to take the present and simply nudge it to the brink. My goal was to write believable, (fun!), dystopian adventure.

I just hope it remains fiction.


ABOUT THE PHLEBOTOMIST

In a near future where citizens are subject to the mandatory blood draw, government phlebotomist Willa Wallace witnesses an event that makes her question her whole world…

To recover from a cataclysmic war, the Harvest was instituted to pass blood to those affected by radiation. But this charitable act has led to a society segregated entirely by blood type. Government blood contractor, Patriot, rewards your generous gift based on the compatibility of your donation, meaning that whoever can give the most, gets the most in return.

While working as a reaper taking collections for the Harvest, Willa chances upon an idea to resurrect an obsolete technique that could rebalance the city. But in her quest to set things into motion, she uncovers a horrifying secret that cuts to the heart of everything.

CHRIS PANATIER ON SOCAL MEDIA

2020 Emmy Winners

Tonight’s Primetime Emmy Awards broadcast ended the week-long series of presentations that comprised the 72nd Emmy Awards. The complete lists of winners can be downloaded here.

Watchmen was named Best Limited Series. Cast members Regina King won Best Actress and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II won supporting actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie. Damon Lindelof and Cord Jefferson also claimed the category’s Writing award for their Watchmen episode “This Extraordinary Being.”

The Mandalorian earned numerous Emmys in the crafts and production categories.

Chadwick Boseman, Dame Diana Rigg, DC Fontana, René Auberjonois, Robert Conrad, Brian Dennehy, Buck Henry, and Max Von Sydow were among the genre figures honored during the In Memoriam video.

The winners of genre interest follow the jump.

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Pixel Scroll 9/20/20 I Have Come Here To Chew Bubblegum And Scroll Pixels… And I’m All Out Of Bubblegum

(1) UP AND COMERS. In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport surveys the new class of astronauts (chosen from 18,000 applicants) and says while some traditions haven’t changed (the process of picking an astronaut remains mysterious) the new astronauts will now have the option of going to the International Space Station via two commercial spacecraft and possibly may fly back to the Moon in a few years. “As the possibility of going to space grows, U.S. astronauts still don’t know how they get picked to fly”.

…Now there is an array of flying options coming to fruition, all launching from Cape Canaveral, that could provide astronauts a variety of flight opportunities not seen in decades. There’s SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, which in May became the first spacecraft to launch NASA astronauts from United States soil in nearly a decade. Boeing is also working to get its Starliner capsule ready, with a first crewed flight set for sometime next year. And NASA hopes Lockheed Martin’s Orion spacecraft will fly astronauts on a trip around the moon by 2023.

All of which means it’s an exciting time to be an astronaut, especially as the highly coveted assignments for the 48-member NASA astronaut corps in Houston are being handed out. It’s also a chance for NASA to showcase its astronauts and attempt to rekindle the national enthusiasm they once inspired. In the decades since Apollo, when astronauts were household names and revered as heroes, they are now largely anonymous.

(2) IN THE NEXT ROW. At LitHub: “Walter Mosley: When I’m Telling a Story I Imagine the Eavesdropper Over My Shoulder”.

Who do you most wish would read your book?
I once explained my audience by saying that I imagined being on a train or a bus sitting side by side with my favorite older cousin, Alberta Jackson. I’d be telling her stories about Easy Rawlins or his murderous friend Mouse. She’d be all excited and worried about Easy.

Sitting behind us is some person we don’t know and aren’t thinking about. That unknown person is my audience. They’re eavesdropping on my story and responding in ways I have no idea of. That way my writing, storytelling cannot be swayed by opinions external to the world I’m talking about.

(3) COMPARING VIRTUAL CONS ACROSS GENRES. Cora Buhlert has written a con report about the virtual Bloody Scotland crime fiction festival and how different it was from the SFF cons she’s attended: “Notes on the Virtual Bloody Scotland Festival and the Differences Between SFF and Crime Fiction Cons”

… Part of the reason for the lack of Discord chats, kaffeeklatsches and a dealers room may be that crime fiction festivals seem to be more focussed on listening to well-known writers speak and read than on interacting with fellow members. And indeed, there were fewer themed panels and a lot more of “See these cool authors talking about their writing and life”. It reminds more of literary festivals than SFF cons. Crime fiction cons also seem to be geared towards writers – the various British ones are often called “crime writing festivals”, hence the masterclasses. It’s simply a different con culture.

(4) IF YOU CAN MAKE IT THERE. Publishers Weekly examines how industry giant ReedPop is overcoming the learning curve to present virtual events in “New York Comic Con Goes Metaverse”.

…ReedPop has been “pivoting into what all of this stuff will look like digitally,” Armstrong says. “The Metaverse was our attempt to bring some content to fans, but also to figure this whole thing out a little bit. I don’t think anybody has perfected it.”

ReedPop event director and NYCC Metaverse showrunner Kristina Rogers agrees. She says the August event was a chance to see what worked and what would allow fans to get the most out of the event. “We said, ‘Let’s figure out how to get our content out there and see what the fans are really passionate about.’ It feels like needs are all changing constantly, because everything moves very quickly.”

One of the most popular features of the August Metaverse was live chat, Rogers says, noting that some of the panels were presented with live feedback on YouTube. “Fans told us they love being able to catch up with each other, and talking about a panel as it’s happening and right after.” Metaverse even included a “professional online con,” an online meeting between publishers and retailers, which was hailed as a huge success by participants.

NYCC Metaverse will have much of the traditional content of NYCC’s IRL editions, including media panels from CBS, FX, Hulu, and Star Trek and a significant amount of anime programming via anime distributor Funimation and manga publisher Viz Media. Traditional book publishers will be represented as usual, including Disney, Macmillan and its graphic novel imprint First Second Books, and Penguin Random House, with an emphasis on providing sneak peeks at trailers and covers, exclusive content, and author workshops, which are very popular with fans.

Looking to avoid still more talking heads on a computer screen, Rogers is searching for ways to offer conversations on fresh topics by dynamic participants. “We’ve seen a lot of iterations, and we’re still trying to figure out what’s actually going break through the noise,” she says.

(5) MAN UNDERBOARD. A veteran stunt man and stunt coordinator, “Ernie Orsatti, Stuntman Who Took Quite the Fall in ‘The Poseidon Adventure,’ Dies at 80”. The Hollywood Reporter profiled his most famous stunt.

…Ernie Orsatti portrayed Terry, the boyfriend of Pamela Sue Martin’s character, in The Poseidon Adventure, produced by “Master of Disaster” Irwin Allen and directed by Ronald Neame.

On the day before the stunt was scheduled, Orsatti was informed that Allen “wanted him to do the fall. The actor replied, “‘I’m not a stuntman. You want me to do that fall?'” he recalled in the 2006 video short The Poseidon Adventure: Falling Up With Ernie.

The stunt called for someone to cling to the edge of an upside-down table, let go and plunge 32 feet to land on his back onto a skylight in the doomed ocean liner’s inverted ballroom. After some apprehension, Orsatti agreed to do it.

Stunt coordinator Paul Stader told him, “‘Do not lean your head back, you’ll break your neck. Pick a point, look at it and let go,'” he remembered. “I picked my feet up into what you call an ‘L’ so I would be falling straight away from the camera with my hands out — and then it knocked me colder than a cucumber.”

They got the shot in one take. “They wanted me to register terror, and they surely must have gotten it,” he once said. “I was scared to death.

“The actors who were off that day, like Gene Hackman and Ernie Borgnine, showed up with their families to watch the shooting. I asked Gene what he was doing here and he smiled and said, ‘We’ve all come to watch you die.’ He took pictures and everything.”

(6) TODAY’S EASTER EGG.

Go to Google

Search for WIZARD OF OZ

Click on the ruby slippers to the right.

Then click on the tornado.

(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • September 1996 — The BBC Books edition of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere was published. It was based off the BBC Neverwhere series, and it would be nominated for both the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and the Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel but would win neither. It would not be on the Hugo ballot for either the series or the novel. It would be the only version of the novel until William Morrow published Neverwhere: The Author’s Preferred Text in 2015. This version was supposed to have been first published by Hill House who did other Gaiman works such as the Good Omens screenplay and American Gods: Author’s Preferred Text  but they went out of business before doing so. Neverwhere has been done in as least two audio dramas, a comic books series, several theater productions and one delightfully illustrated edition of the novel. The Jim Henson Company optioned Neverwhere but never exercised that option.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born September 20, 1886 – Charles Williams.   His seven novels, many of his plays and poems, having essentially spiritual elements, are in our realm.  David Bratman edited the three Masques of Amen House in 2000.  Note also CW’s two books of Arthurian poetry, Taliessin through Logres and The Region of the Summer Stars.  Moving to Oxford during World War II he became an Inkling.  Dorothy L. Sayers called him the Master of the Images (in Dante’s Divine Comedy).  (Died 1945) [JH]
  • Born September 20, 1888 – Margery Stocking.  By 1914, writing and illustrating her own feature column in syndicated newspapers; in 1922, first woman to receive the Beaux Arts Medal from the Yale School of Architecture.  Fourteen years illustrating for Blue Book.  One of only four women who did pulp-magazine covers; Margaret Brundage was another.  MS’ forty-five covers for the best-selling Ranch Romances are beyond us, but here is a mermaid; here is hunting a saber-tooth tiger; here are some nymphs, here a satyr; here is “Moonlight Fantasy”.  (Died 1993) [JH]
  • Born September 20, 1935 Keith Roberts. Author of Pavane, an amazing novel. I’ll admit that I’ve not read anything else by him, so do tell me about other works please. I’ve just downloaded his collection of ghost stories, Winterwood and Other Hauntings, with an introduction by Robert Holdstock, from one of the usual digital suspects where he’s very well stocked.  (Died 2000.) (CE)
  • Born September 20, 1940 Jonathan Hardy. He was the voice of Dominar Rygel XVI, called simply Rygel, once the royal ruler of the Hynerian Empire, on Farscape.  He was also Police Commissioner Labatouche in Mad Max, and he had a one-off in the Mission: Impossible series that was produced in his native Australia in the “Submarine” episode as Etienne Reynard. (Died 2012.) (CE) 
  • Born September 20, 1948 – George R.R. Martin, 72.  First Hugo 1975, four more; two Nebulas; one Stoker; one coveted Balrog (the only kind that can be coveted, aiee); Skylark; two Geffens (Israel), four Ignotuses (Spain); Phantastik Preis (Germany); Seiun (Japan); World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement.  His multi-author, multi-volume Wild Cards, and his Song of Ice and Fire, were well under way when he was Pro Guest of Honour at Torcon 3 the 61st Worldcon (and there was a fine “Winter is Coming” in the Masquerade), but no one dreamed of Ice and Fire’s fantastic success on television.  Now that he has pleased millions a misdeed looses lightnings.  [JH]
  • Born September 20, 1955 David Haig, 65. He played Pangol in “The Leisure Hive” a Fourth Doctor story. He also showed up on Blake’s 7  in “Rumours of Death” as Forres, and was Colonel Bonnet in The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Tales of Innocence. He’s also General Vandenberg in the 2006 film remake of A for Andromeda. Finally I should note he’s The Player in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead done at The Old Vic a few years back. (CE)
  • Born September 20, 1950 James Blaylock, 70. One of my favorite writers. I’d recommend the the Ghosts trilogy, the Christian trilogy and The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives whichcollects all of the Langdon St. Ives adventures together as his best writing, but anything by him is worth reading. (CE) 
  • Born September 20, 1963 – Elise Broach, 57.  Two E.B. White Read Aloud Awards, two Amer. Lib’y Ass’n Notable Children’s Books.  When Dinosaurs Came With Everything was a Time #1 Children’s Book of the Year; Masterpiece a New York Times Best Seller, five sequels.  Six more novels, nine more picture books. Yale alumna, three degrees including M.Phil. History.  “I can draw most animals, and I can tell the color of an M&M by its taste….  We had to drive a rental truck 3,000 miles across country….  I had an excellent record on greens and browns.”
  • Born September 20, 1974 Owen Sheers, 46. His first novel, Resistance, tells the story of the inhabitants of a valley near Abergavenny in Wales in the Forties shortly after the failure of Operation Overlord and a successful German takeover of Britain. It’s been made into a film.  He also wrote the “White Ravens”, a contemporary take off the myth of Branwen Daughter of Llyr, found in the New Stories from the Mabinogion series. (CE) 
  • Born September 20, 1978 – Tiphanie Yanique, 42.  Nat’l Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree, 2010.  Distinguished Teaching Award at the New School, 2015.  Now at Emory.  Amer. Acad. Poets Prize, Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection.  Boston Review Fiction Prize, Kore Press Short Fiction Award, Pushcart Prize, Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature (fiction).  Land of Love and Drowning, which is ours, won the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and the Phyllis Wheatley Award.  [JH]
  • Born September 20, 1982 – Emilia Dziubak, 38.  Here is her cover for A Tale Magnolious.  Here is The House of Lost and Found.  Here is Where Are You, Mama? (in Polish).  Here is Gogi’s Gambit.  Here is Two Options (in Polish).  [JH]
  • Born September 20, 1986 Aldis Hodge, 34. He played Alec Hardison on the Leverage series. Ok, I know it’s not precisely genre but if there’s a spiritual descendant of Mission: Impossible, this series is it. Both the cast and their use are technology of that series are keeping with the MI spirit. He’s also had one-offs on CharmedBuffy the Vampire SlayerSupernaturalThe Walking DeadStar Trek Discovery’s Short Takes and Bones (which given that it crossed over with Sleepy Hollow…) (CE) 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Incidental Comics’ Grant Snider offers this advice:

(10) ANIMATION AHOY. “Sailor Moon’s impact on modern American animation remains undeniable” asserts A.V.Club.

Twenty-five years after its U.S. television premiere, the impact of Sailor Moon on Japanese and Western animation remains undeniable. With its distinct visual vocabulary, story structure, and defined character archetypes, the series not only served as the blueprint for the many Japanese magical girl anime series that would follow it, but also established a visual aesthetic so iconic, we see references, parodies, and direct homages to the series throughout various Western television series—including transformation sequences in Teen Titans Go! and Star Vs. The Forces of EvilLisa Simpson dressed as Sailor Moon in The Simpsonsand even an episode of South Park, where Kenny receives a Sailor Moon brooch from the CEO of Sony that turns him into “Princess Kenny,” a play on Princess Serenity. Cartoon Network has even posted a video compiling multiple Sailor Moon references that have appeared across the various series that air on the network. The tropes established by Sailor Moon soon became common features of the magical girl genre: cute, talking guide animals, everyday objects that secretly double as magical transformation amulets, and a tight-knit group of friends represented by different colors and elements….

(11) CAN’T DRAG HIM OUT OF THE DUNGEON. “This game of Dungeons & Dragons has been going on for 38 years” reports CNN.

Stay-at-home orders due to the ongoing pandemic have upended a lot of plans—weddings have been postponed, concerts have been canceled, vacations have been pushed aside. But one thing that can’t be kept down? Robert Wardhaugh’s game of Dungeons & Dragons.

For the past 38 years, Wardhaugh has been playing the same game of Dungeons & Dragons in Canada. Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game that usually involves lots of miniatures, lots of imaginary worlds, and lots of high adventure. Starting in 1982, that might make it the longest continuously running Dungeons & Dragons campaign, ever. Or, at least the longest Wardhaugh has ever heard of….

(12) HE HUFFED AND HE PUFFED. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson—who has been cast to play DC villain Black Adam—apparently got a little peeved when his front gate wouldn’t open during a power outage. He was late to work, so he did what any super-strong villain would do. He ripped the gate off the brick columns & threw it aside: “The Rock Goes Full ‘Black Adam’ On Gate During Power Outage, ROCK SMASH!”

“I pushed, pulled and ripped the gate completely off myself,” Johnson said.

“Ripped it completely out of the brick wall, severed the steel hydraulics and threw it on the grass.”

“My security team was able to meet the gate technician and welders about an hour later — and they were apparently, ‘in disbelief and equally scared’ as to how I ripped it off”

(13) MAGIC METAL. “Metalhead’s Mulligan: Seven Heavy Records Inspired By ‘Magic: The Gathering” at Bandcamp.

…Of course, like most forms of geekery and high fantasy, the game’s spurred some pretty kick-ass metal, largely thanks to the art, which presents an abundance of aesthetic comfort food: zombies, skeletons, demons, blood sacrifice, and the like. “Fantasy literature, swords and sorcery/barbaric pulp and films, and tabletop/role-playing games have had a strong impact on metal music’s aesthetic direction since the genre’s nascent stages, so it only makes sense that someone fascinated with metal album covers would be interested in immersive gaming experiences that provide a similar art direction, and vice versa,” says Jake Rogers, lead singer of Visigoth and lifelong Magic player. “If you’re someone who grew up playing games such as Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, or Warhammer, and then discover Michael Whelan’s art adorning a Cirith Ungol album, or happen across Omen’s Battle Cry—the art for which looks like it could have been taken from an early Magic: The Gathering set—it only makes sense that your interest in the music would be piqued.” With that in mind, here are seven metal albums that pay homage, both directly and indirectly, to the first and best trading card game ever made.

(14) CATCHING UP WITH THE DINOSAURS. Although this Smasher--made Jurassic World 3: Dominion trailer dropped in June, I don’t seem to have linked to it yet. The film is now scheduled for release in June 2021.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Write Your Story on Vimeo, Willy Hajli and William Kirn explain what happens when an employee rebels against her AI overlords.

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

2020 Unleash Imagination Awards

The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation has announced the 2020 Unleash Imagination Award winners.

2020 Imagination in Service to Society

  • Ted Chiang

The Hugo and Nebula award-winning writer of fiction that stretches our imaginations in profound and empathetic ways. Stories of Your Life and Others has been translated into 21 languages, and Exhalation was chosen by the New York Times as one of the 10 Best Books of 2019. 

2020 Innovation Award

  • CERN

Accepted by Dr. Fabiola Gianotti,the Director General of CERN, the European Council for Nuclear Research, incubator of the World Wide Web and the world’s largest particle physics laboratory. 

2020 Lifetime Achievement Awardee

  • William H. Draper III

A venture capitalist pivotal in the development of Silicon Valley who also served as a prominent federal government leader. 

The awardees will be part of the “Clarke Conversation on Imagination: Crises and Renewal” on November 12, a live online interactive event. Register here for access.

Virtual Tour of Comic-Con Museum Plans

The “Comic-Con Museum Long-Range Comprehensive Plan Reveal” shows what visitors can expect when the San Diego facility opens in 2021. The museum is located in the area of Balboa Park known as the South Palisades, where Comic-Con took over the Hall of Champions in the Federal Building in 2017. 

Features outlined in the Plan include:

  • 25,000 square feet of space for rotating exhibits
  • A year-round schedule of programs such as panels, meet-and-greets, experiential cinema, watch parties,
  • eSports, cosplay shows, and more that will also involve integrating the ideas and creative energy of Comic-Con fans through fan sourcing
  • A café with a changing menu of dishes and beverages that are creatively inspired by the themes of the rotating exhibit and program offerings
  • A gift shop with comics and graphic novels, branded souvenirs, art, apparel, and other collectibles
  • A 4K video theater and presentation space

Although set to open in summer of 2021, the full renovations shown in the video below may not be completed until 2024. 

The museum has nearly 14,000 charter members.

Comic-Con Museum Reveal: Fly-Through

Pixel Scroll 9/19/20 Dudley Pixel And His No-Fans Club

(1) VIRTUAL BENEFITS. An A.V. Club roundtable agrees, “For disabled and other marginalized fans, online events aren’t a compromise—they’re a lifeline”.

[Shannon Miller] …It made me think of all my fellow disabled NCTzens who experience similar barriers with live performances. How many got to see their first NCT 127 concert (or live-ish K-pop performance, in general) because of this? How many fans with hearing loss were relieved to see the lyrics flash in time to the music, as brief as it may have been? To be clear, this performance was hardly the gold standard of accessibility—things like proper, consistent closed captioning still proved to be a challenge. But I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a potential watershed moment for the music and touring industries. With some fine-tuning and proper consultation with disabled advocates, maybe there’s a shot for more acts to adopt this method of performance on a wider scale. Would I have liked for this pivotal industry change to come at the hands of literally anything other than a pandemic? Absolutely, and I certainly don’t want to see the end of live performances. But as we prepare for a long-gestating (if not permanent, for some) change in how we navigate the world, I think it’s interesting to consider.

(2) HAP AND LEONARD, EVOLVED. In “The Evolution Of Joe Lansdale’s Hapand Leonard” on CrimeReads, Scott Montgomery profiles Joe R. Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard  crime fiction series partnering “East Teas liberal redneck” Hap Collins with “gay, black, republican, and lethal” Leonard Pine.

Montgomery: Do you think when you look at a subject in a genre novel it allows you to do it differently?

Lansdale: With genre you have that hard driving engine of a story to move those ideas forward. Literary fiction often tackles those subjects and genre rarely does it, but that is mainly because the idea of what genre fiction is. In the eighties, I was in a group of writers that mixed the two. A large percentage of what I write is driven by social issues.

Montgomery: What makes Hap and Leonard a good vehicle to go through these issues?

Lansdale: The characters seem simple, but they’re not. Both Michael K. Williams and James Purefoy find more layers when they’re playing them. They’re not always absolutely consistent. They’re these everyday working class guys, like I was and I still think of myself as a blue collar writer at least from a class perspective. They prove that all southerners don’t fit the stereotype and are contradictory in a lot of ways. One is black and one’s white, one is black and gay. Hap, I don’t know if he was really a hippie, works against those ideals to gets justice. I don’t think they really completely succeed. They keep trying to do the right thing and it often leads to Hap questioning his morals. And both of them have killed people and so it’s a very interesting contrast. You read about some horrible person and you think that’s someone for the devil, then you read about their circumstances then you think maybe they’re not for the devil. So they’re dealing with all that and trying to pay the bills.

(3) OUT OF THE BOTTLE. In the Yahoo! Entertainment story “‘I Dream of Jeannie’ at 55: How the popular sitcom captured ‘women’s increasing restlessness'”, Rachel Shewfelt interviews University of Michigan communications professor Susan J. Douglas, who says that I Dream of Jeannie, first broadcast in September 1965, navigated “between these pre-feminist rumblings and still very much wanting to represent women in traditional roles.”

Jeannie hit American screens not long after publication of Betty Friedan’s groundbreaking book The Feminine Mystique, which noted the many ways that women — as critics have since acknowledged, a very specific type of white, middle-class women — were shut out of the world. They were, for example, unable to obtain a credit card without a man as a co-signer and many jobs were off limits to them. They were encouraged and expected to abandon their own hopes and dreams in exchange for a life dedicated solely to taking care of their families. And they were supposed to wear heels, lipstick and a big smile while doing it. The nonfiction page-turner became a bestseller and helped spark the feminist movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

I Dream of Jeannie also came along on the heels of Bewitched, a sitcom about a witch who marries an ordinary man and, much to his dismay, has the ability to make magic with the twitch of her nose. That show had been a big hit with audiences, which was no surprise considering what was happening at the time.

(4) KENT FAMLY REUNION. “Smallville cast set to reunite for virtual New York Comic-Con” promises Yahoo! News.

Smallville may have ended in 2011, but thanks to its huge popularity and The CW’s Arrowverse – Supergirl, in particular – the DC-inspired outing has never really left fans’ hearts. So it’s pretty exciting that some of the cast will be reuniting for a panel at New York Comic Con later this year.

To commemorate the fact that it’s been almost 20 years since the Superman series premiered, NYFF is set to host Davis Bloome actor Sam Witwer, Erica Durance (who played Lois Lane), Laura Vandervoort (who starred as Clark Kent’s Kryptonian cousin Kara), Lex Luthor’s Michael Rosenbaum and the Man of Steel himself Tom Welling, as they look back on their time on the show.

(5) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • September 1995 – Twenty-five years ago, Minneapolis based Boiled in Lead band released their sixth album, Songs from the Gypsy. It was based upon The Gypsy novel Steve Brust and Megan Lindholm wrote. This 1992 urban fantasy novel was adapted into a song cycle based on a Hungarian folk tale for this recording. The songs were written largely by Stemple, vocalist here, and his fellow Cats Laughing member Steven Brust, the latter being steeped in Hungarian myth and legend.  It would have a multimedia format including both the music and the full text of the novel, as well as eighty short sound clips of songs referenced in the novel’s text. Neither the novel nor the music is currently available in a digital format. 

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born September 19, 1922 – Damon Knight.  Sarcasm is in anger, satire is with love; was he a satirist?  He was so brilliant we never ask.  His “Unite or Fie!” in Fanfare sparked the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n), which he scorned; he joined the Futurians, but said he always wanted to be a pro.  A dozen novels, a hundred shorter stories; one Hugo for reviewing, a Retro-Hugo for a story so sour it’s superb; never a Nebula, though he founded SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) their administrator – later saying SFWA too was a mistake.  Pilgrim Award, Pro Guest of Honor (with wife Kate Wilhelm) at Noreascon Two the 38th Worldcon, SFWA Grand Master.  (Died 2002) [JH]
  • Born September 19, 1928 Adam West. Best known as Batman on that classic Sixties series, he also a short role in 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars as Colonel Dan McReady. He last played the role of of Batman by voicing him in two animated films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. He also played The Gray Ghost in an episode of the Kevin Conroy voiced B:TAS, “Beware the Gray Ghost”. (Died 2017.) (CE)
  • Born September 19, 1933 David McCallum, 87. His longest running, though not genre, role is pathologist  Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on NCIS where he appeared in every episode of the first fifteen seasons. Genre wise, he was Illya Nickovitch Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and the British series Sapphire & Steel where he was Steel and Joanna Lumley was Sapphire.  He play the lead he played in a short-lived U.S. version of The Invisible Man. He was Dr. Vance Hendricks on Babylon 5’s “Infection” episode.  (CE) 
  • Born September 19, 1935 – Sheena Porter, 85.  Carnegie Medal for Nordy Bank, her novel for us; here is Annette Macarthur-Onslaw’s cover.  Eight other novels; all addressed to children, a great question in fantasy.  Librarian; landscapist; lives in Ludlow.  [JH]
  • Born September 19, 1947 – Robert LoGrippo, 73.  A dozen covers, a few interiors, for us; also The New York Times Sunday Magazine and Celestial Seasonings Tea.  Here is The Three Impostors.  Here is The Singer Enigma.  I’m in awe of The Night Land; his cover is a wonder, but I think it must illustrate something else, you’ll have to find it without me.  [JH]
  • Born September 19, 1947 Tanith Lee. I hadn’t realized that she wrote more than ninety novels and three hundred short stories in her career. She even wrote two of the Blake’s 7 episodes as well. I am more fond of her work for children such as The Dragon Hoard and The Unicorn Series than I was of her adult work. (Died 2015.) (CE)
  • Born September 19, 1948 – George “Lan” Laskowski.  He came to cons in a coonskin cap; his fanzine being Lan’s Lantern, he wore T-shirts with DC Comics’ Green Lantern logograph.  The Lantern won two Hugos; it was famed for special issues appreciating particular pros.  James Gunn praised Lan’s vigor; Mike Resnick, who was both pro and fan, praised Lan’s decency.  Fan Guest of Honor at Marcon XVIII, MileHiCon 26, Minicon 24; Listener Guest of Honor at 11th Ohio Valley Filk Fest.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born September 19, 1952 – Guy Consolmagno, Ph.D., S.J., 68.  After his doctorate, served in the Peace Corps; entered the Society of Jesus, took vows; active friend of the SF community; Director of the Vatican Observatory.  Frequent Guest of Honor at our conventions, e.g. Boskone 44, Minicon 52, the 12th NASFiC (N. America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas).  Eight books.  Carl Sagan Medal.  It would be unlike him to say whether he thinks science needs religion, but he has often said religion needs science.  [JH]
  • Born September 19, 1952 Laurie R. King, 68. She’s on the Birthday Honors list for the Mary Russell series of historical mysteries, featuring Sherlock Holmes as her mentor and later partner. Hey it’s at least genre adjacent.  She’s also written at least one genre novel, Califia’s Daughters. (CE) 
  • Born September 19, 1960 – Randy Byers.  Hugo (with Geri Sullivan, Lee Hoffman) for Science Fiction Five-Yearly, LeeH’s fanzine published on time, with various co-editors, for sixty years.  Eight FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards.  TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate, his report Alternative Pants.  Chaired Corflu 26 (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, long indispensable), Guest of Honor at C34.  Co-editor (with Andy Hooper, carl juarez) of Chunga.  Tribute zine after his death, Thy Life’s a Miracle.  Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here, mine here.  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born September 19, 1972 N. K. Jemisin, 48. Her most excellent Broken Earth series has made her the only author to have won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in three consecutive years. Her “Non-Zero Probabilities” was a finalist for the Hugo Best Short Story Award losing out to Will McIntosh‘s “Bridesicle.” “Emergency Skin,” I’m pleased to note, won the Best Novelette Hugo at CoNZealand this year. Yeah, I voted for it. (CE) 
  • Born September 19, 1987 Danielle Panabaker, 33. She’s best known as Caitlin Snow aka Killer Frost in the Arrowverse where she’s been on FlashSupergirl and Legends of Tomorrow. Her first genre role was as Layla Williams in Sky High, and she’s in Friday the 13thTime Lapse and both the Medium and Grimm series. (CE) 

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) OOPS. H&I points out “10 Minor Goofs You Never Noticed In ‘Star Trek'”.

Spock had the ultimate analytical mind. But even a Vulcan can overlook some minor details. Or, to be fair, the Vulcan’s creators can….

Still, some errors inevitably made it onto the screen. There was no hiding the stunt doubles with computer technology, and the shadow of the boom microphone appears in too many shots to list here. Here are 10 of our favorite minor mistakes. In a way, they somehow make the entire series more impressive, once you realize the materials they were working with.

For example —

5. SHOULDN’T YOU BE MEDITATING, SPOCK?

“Amok Time” 

In the middle of this classic season two opener, Spock enters a meditative state called plak tow. We see close up shots of him deep in the trance, with his hands clutched before his face as his eyes practically roll back into his skull. However, after T’Pring chooses Kirk as her champion, there is a cut to a wide shot. In the background, you can see Leonard Nimoy waiting around with his hands behind his back.

(9) KEEP THE LID ON. Wonder which sci-fi movie/program this will show-up in first? “This $199 acrylic helmet with HEPA filters powered by fans designed to wear instead of a mask is being compared to sci-fi movies” says Yahoo! News.

…MicroClimate seems to be marketing itself to young, tech-savvy professionals, with copy reading “from Uber to airline, AIR by MicroClimate™ will keep you comfortable the whole trip,” and promotional photos of wearers in suits.

(10) TODAY’S 10,000. I don’t remember running across this highly scientific organization before: Australian Research & Space Exploration. All kinds of merchandise bearing their logo ready to order. And here’s a page devoted to telling you about Australia’s unique position.

[Thanks to John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Lise Andreasen, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Noel Rosenberg Sues Crystal Huff

Noel Rosenberg, former President of Arisia, Inc. (2000, 2018) and Arisia convention chair (2002), filed suit against Crystal Huff in Middlesex (MA) Superior Court on September 17 alleging defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Huff published a 6,000+ word statement on October 25, 2018 ending her connections with the convention: “Why I’m Not At Arisia Anymore: My Rapist is President. Again”. Rosenberg says in his complaint:

…Her blog posting also alleged that in addition to raping her, Noel had “stalked,” “harassed” and “intimidated” her. Crystal’s accusations of violent and heinous criminal wrongdoing by Noel are utterly devoid of any basis in reality.

Rosenberg requests a jury trial, with damages in an amount to be determined by the jury (plus interest), plus costs and attorney’s fees.

A complete copy of the complaint can be downloaded here from a website created for the plaintiff: Noel Rosenberg v. Crystal Huff.

At the time it was published, Huff’s statement evoked a strong and immediate response. Two of Arisia 2019’s guests of honor, Daniel Jose Older and Malka Older, dropped out of the convention. Within three days, the Arisia, Inc. Executive Board announced that Noel Rosenberg had been removed as President and permanently banned from the convention. (This was just the beginning of the convention’s problems. Although not involving Rosenberg, Arisia soon received several more statements criticizing their handling of code of conduct violations, and apologies from two former Arisia officers. There followed four resignations from the Arisia eboard.)

Rosenberg’s complaint gives his version of the relationship he had with Crystal Huff from 2007 to 2010, characterizing all of the encounters where it applies as “consensual sexual intercourse.”

He gives his interpretation of what was done about Huff’s charges at the time under Arisia’s Incident Reporting process, or later when it existed the Arisia Incident Response Team (IRT).

He follows a list of salient examples of the allegations in Huff’s blog post with the summary response:

These and other statements set forth in the blog were false, defamatory and literally fabricated. Her accusations of criminal misconduct are defamatory per se.

The blog post is reproduced in full as one of the attached exhibits.

The court’s website indicates Huff has until January 15, 2021 to file her answer to the suit – coincidentally, the same date the next Arisia is scheduled to begin.