Pixel Scroll 1/8/20 That’s Only A Bit More Than Thirty Books A Day

(1) EXPELLIARMUS. No wands, no dragon? Who snitched? “Community board says no to ‘Harry Potter’ dragon landing in Flatiron District” reports Crain’s New York Business.

The enchanted world of Harry Potter has crashed broomstick-first into the less magical world of New York City land-use review. 

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that members of Manhattan’s Community Board 5 are objecting to parts of the plan from Warner Bros. to open a Harry Potter–themed exhibit and store in a landmarked building in the Flatiron District. The studio has proposed opening a roughly 20,000-square-foot store called Wizarding World at 935 Broadway, the former home of upscale furniture brand Restoration Hardware. 

Crain’s first reported in September that Warner Bros. had reached a deal with the building’s landlord, Shefa Land Corp., for the store. 

Design firm Studio Superette unveiled plans for the store at the hearing Tuesday. The design calls for adding a fiberglass dragon with a clock, two backlit Harry Potter signs and six flagpoles, designed to look like wands, to the building’s facade, the Journal reported. 

The changes require approval from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, which refers such requests to community boards for a recommendation before making a decision. 

Members of the community board’s landmarks committee said the design ideas represent “inappropriate signage,” according to the Journal, and voted unanimously to recommend against approval. 

The full community board will vote on the proposal later this month before sending its recommendation to the city landmarks commission, according to the report. 

(2) A SHOCK. Steve Stiles, one of fandom’s all-time most popular artists, revealed sad news on Facebook saying, “So the word is: I’ve got a few months, more or less.”

(3) ANLAB. Analog invites readers to name their favorites by filling out the Analytical Laboratory Readers’ Award Ballot by February 1, 2020.

(4) NO MORE FEUDIN’, FUSSIN’, AND FIGHTIN’. David Gerrold’s explanation why he didn’t write a rant is certainly no less interesting than if he’d indulged the impulse. He begins —

I was going to write a rant about how writers should be supportive of each other.

Then I realized …

I’m naive. ….

(5) KGB. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Richard Kadrey and Cassandra Khaw on Wednesday, January 15, 7:00 p.m.at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, 2nd Floor, New York).

Richard Kadrey

Richard Kadrey is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sandman Slim dark urban fantasy series. Sandman Slim was included in Amazon’s “100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime,” and is in production as a feature film. Some of Kadrey’s other books include The Grand Dark, The Everything Box, Hollywood Dead, and Butcher Bird. In comics, he’s written for Heavy Metal, Lucifer, and Hellblazer. He’s currently partnered with Winterlight Productions for his original horror screenplay, Dark West

Cassandra Khaw

Cassandra Khaw is a scriptwriter at Ubisoft Montreal. Her fiction has been nominated for the Locus Award and the British Fantasy Award, and her game writing has won a German Game Award. You can find her short stories in places like F&SF, Lightspeed, and Tor.com. Her novella Nothing But Blackened Teeth is coming out from Nightfire, the new Tor horror imprint in 2021.

(6) CANADA READS. The Canada Reads 2020 The longlist has a few genre entries. The listed books speak to the theme: “One book to bring Canada into focus.”

We’re looking at Canada’s 2020 vision. How do we move forward together? These books inspire readers to think twice about the lens through which they see themselves and Canada.

The final five books will be revealed on January 22.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • January 8, 1958Teenage Monster premiered and you can see the trailer here. It was produced and directed by Jacques R. Marquette, and starred Anne Gwynne (who was a scream queen in the Forties but past her prime now) and Stuart Wade. It played as double bill with The Brain from Planet Arous which is a story unto Itself.If you saw it on television, It was called Meteor Monster. We can find reviews of it at the time (not unusual) and It has no ratings at Rotten Tomatoes. The Fifties is littered with similar films. 
  • January 8, 1967 It’s About Time aired “To Catch A Thief.”  It’s here today because we’ve never heard of this series before. It was created by Sherwood Schwartz, and used sets, props and the music bits from his other television series shooting at the time, Gilligan’s Island. Its cast was Frank Aletter, Jack Mullaney, Imogene Coca, Joe E. Ross, Cliff Norton and Mike Mazurki.  It lasted but one season and twenty six episodes, considerably shorter than his other show did. This futuristic spaceman meet cavemen comedy bombed  in the ratings after the first few episodes. 
  • January 8, 2006 – The BBC’s Hyperdrive enjoyed its premiere. The series  was written by Kevin Cecil and Andy Riley, directed by John Henderson and produced by Alex Walsh-Taylor. The cast was Nick Frost, Kevin Eldon,  Miranda Hart, Stephen Evans, Dan Antopolski and Petra Massey. BBC ran it for two seasons and twelve episode. It’s a comedy with a decidedly scatological and crude sexual bent.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 8, 1908 William Hartnell. The very first Doctor who first appeared when Doctor Who firstaired on November 23, 1963. He would be the Doctor for three years leaving when a new showrunner came on. He played The Doctor once more during the tenth anniversary story The Three Doctors (aired 1972–73) which was the last thing he filmed before his death. I scanned through the usual sources but didn’t find any other genre listing for him. Is that correct? (Died 1975.)
  • Born January 8, 1925 Steve Holland. Did you know there was a short lived Flash Gordon series, thirty-one episodes in 1954 – 1955 to be precise? I didn’t until I discovered the Birthday for the lead in this show today. Except for four minor roles, this was his entire tv career. Biography in “Flash Gordon: Journey to Greatness” would devote an entire show to him and this series. And yes you can see him here as Flash Gordon. (Died 1997.)
  • Born January 8, 1941 Boris Vallejo, 79. Illustrator whose artwork has appeared on myriad genre publications. Subjects of his paintings were gods, hideous monsters, well-muscled male swordsmen and scantily clad females. Early illustrations of Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian and Doc Savage established him as an illustrator.
  • Born January 8, 1942 Stephen Hawking. Y’all know who he is, but did you know that Nimoy was responsible for his appearance as a holographic representation of himself in the “Descent” episode?  He also guest starred in Futurama and had  a recurring role on The Big Bang Theory. Just before his death, he was the voice of The Book on the new version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series. (Died 2018.)
  • Born January 8, 1947 David Bowie. First SF role was as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth. He next shows up in The Hunger, an erotic and kinky film worth seeing. He plays The Shark in Yellowbeard, a film that Monty Python could have produced but didn’t. Next up is the superb Labyrinth where he was Jareth the Goblin King, a role perfect for him. From that role, he went on to being Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ, an amazing role by the way. He was in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me as FBI AgentPhillip Jeffries, which was his last role when he appeared later in the Twin Peaks series.  He also played Nikola Tesla in The Prestige from Christopher Priest’s novel. Ok, what did I am leaving y’all to mention? (Died 2016.)
  • Born January 8, 1956 Jack Womack, 64. Ok, I was trying to remember what I’d read by him. I realized it was his excellent Ambient novel when it first came out and that I hadn’t kept up with his later writings. So what do y’all think of his later novels? I know, he stopped witting essentially a generation ago except for his Flying Saucers Are Real! non-fiction release. Non-fiction?
  • Born January 8, 1977 Amber Benson, 43. Best known for her role as Tara Maclay on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her post-BtVS genre credits are scant with a bit of work on Supernatural, a Sci-fi Channel film called Gryphon, a web series called The Morganville Vampires and, I kid you not, a film called One-Eyed Monster which is about an adult film crew encountering monsters. She is by the way a rather good writer. She’s written a number of books, some with Christopher Golden such as the Ghosts of Albion series and The Seven Whistlers novel which I read when Subterranean Press sent it to Green Man for review. Her Calliope Reaper-Jones series is quite excellent too.
  • Born January 8, 1979 Sarah Polley, 41. H’h what did I first see her in? Ahhhh, she was in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen! Let’s see what else she’s done… She’s been in the animated Babar: The MovieExistenzNo Such Thing (which is based very loosely on Beowulf), Dawn of the DeadBeowulf & Grendel (well sort of based on the poem but, errr, artistic license was taken) and Mr. Nobody.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Free Range jokes about studying fantastic beasts in Oz.

(10) ROBOCOP ISN’T WHAT HE USED TO BE. Metro (U.K.) says this happened in the Los Angeles area — “Police robot told woman to go away after she tried to report crime – then sang a song”.

…Cogo Guebara rushed over to the motorized police officer and pushed its emergency alert button on seeing the brawl break out in Salt Lake Park, Los Angeles, last month. But instead of offering assistance, the egg-shaped robot, whose official name is HP RoboCop, barked at Guebara to ‘Step out of the way’. To add insult to injury, the high-tech device then rolled away while humming an ‘intergalactic tune’, pausing periodically to say ‘Please keep the park clean.’

The explanation turned out to be disgustingly simple:

Local Police Chief Cosme Lozano says the robots, which cost between $60,000 and $70,000 a year to lease, are still in a trial phase and that their alert buttons have not yet been activated.

(11) GHOSTLY ACCOMODATIONS. Kevin Standlee of the 2021 Westercon in Tonopah wants you to know —  

This is neither the closest hotel to the Tonopah Convention Center nor the largest of the hotels in Tonopah, but for some reason it seems to get a lot of interest.

Read more about it here: “A Haunted Clown Themed Hotel Next To a Graveyard, Would You Stay?”

(12) FANTASTIC NATURE. “Natural History Museum will showcase ‘fantastic beasts'” – BBC shows how the museum will complement and compete with Rowling. The show will run for seven months before heading out on an international tour.

It’s one of the more remarkable specimens taken into London’s Natural History Museum. It’s certainly one of the most “fantastic”.

The horn comes from an Erumpent, a fictional beast created in the mind of author JK Rowling.

It’s going to feature in a major new exhibition at the South Kensington institution this spring, in which the extraordinary creatures of the Harry Potter universe are used to shine a light on some of the “magical” animals that exist in the real world.

The NHM is describing the show as its most ambitious to date.

…The exhibition will put 50 specimens from the museum’s world famous collections next to props from the Potter movies. Interactive displays will compare and contrast different animals.

“You’ll recall the Erumpent’s mating dance from Fantastic Beasts. We’ll be making comparisons with the peacock spider, which has its own extraordinary movements that it uses to attract a mate,” explained the NHM executive.

(13) ROBOTS ON DISPLAY. Through February 9, the Dundee branch of the Victoria and Albert Museum is having an exhibit called “Hello, Robot:  Design Between Human and Machine”, which has many, many robots. 

From the robots we know and love, to the robot in your pocket, explore the fascinating future of robots at work, at home and in the blurring boundaries between human and machine.

With new technological developments being made every day, it has never been more important to explore our relationships with robotics.

Explore the influence of robots through four galleries that draw you into a conversation with simple but thought-provoking questions.

Trace our fascination with the science and fiction of robots before delving into an evolving world of industry and work. Consider the role of robots as companions and helpers and explore what the future may hold as we find new ways to tackle social and environmental problems. Would you live in a robot? And can they make us better than nature intended?

(14) DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH. Accordnig to NME, “Fox is considering a revival of Joss Whedon’s ‘Firefly’”.

Michael Thorn, Fox’s president of entertainment, shared his thoughts on the matter with The Wrap. “Any time we look at one of our classic titles, if there’s a way to reinvent it for today so it’s as resonant now as the original was, and is, to the fans, we’re wide open,” he said.

“I loved ‘Firefly,’ personally, and I watched every episode. I didn’t work on it, but I loved the show. It had come up before, but we had ‘The Orville’ on the air and it didn’t make sense for us to have, as a broadcast network who is very targeted, to have two space franchises on our air.”

The Orville now airs on Hulu, but [Firefly executive producer Tim Minnear] is allegedly currently tied up with a number of other projects.

(15) BABY, IT’S OLD OUTSIDE. “Vast ‘star nursery’ region found in our galaxy” – BBC has the story.

Astronomers have discovered a vast structure in our galaxy, made up of many interconnected “nurseries” where stars are born.

The long, thin filament of gas is a whopping 9,000 light-years long and 400 light-years wide.

It lies around 500 light-years from our Sun, which is relatively close by in astronomical distances.

…An international team analysed data from the European Gaia space telescope, which was launched in 2013.

The monolithic structure has been dubbed the Radcliffe Wave, in honour of Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“What we’ve observed is the largest coherent gas structure we know of in the galaxy, organized not in a ring but in a massive, undulating filament,” said co-author Joao Alves, from the University of Vienna, Austria, and Harvard.

…Co-author Prof Alyssa Goodman, from Harvard, commented: “We were completely shocked when we first realised how long and straight the Radcliffe Wave is, looking down on it from above in 3D.”

(16) FIGURES. “Batman, Wonder Woman, Paddington and Bugs Bunny Join New Statues in London’s Leicester Square” – photos and more info at Bleeding Cool.

‘Scenes in the Square’ is a new installation at London’s Leicester Square next month that will include eight dynamic statues – which means they will be integrated into the existing landscape of the Square, rather than actually move or anything. Regarded as the home of cinema in Britain, Leicester Square has had a statue of Charlie Chaplin for many years. From February 27th, he will be joined by statues of Laurel and Hardy, Bugs Bunny, Gene Kelly, Mary Poppins, Batman, Mr Bean, Paddington and Wonder Woman, sculpted by David Field.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Olav Rokne, Hampus Eckerman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes o File 770 contributing editor of the day rgl.]

44 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/8/20 That’s Only A Bit More Than Thirty Books A Day

  1. @13 doesn’t tell us what an “intergalactic tune” is. Does Robocop sing “Daisy, Daisy”? Or something from a Sirius Cybernetics elevator?

  2. What I recall from watching the first episode of “It’s About Time” when it premiered … is that it was not very good.

    I am devastated by the news from Steve Stiles.

  3. @7: I remember It’s About Time was well-known among my age group (enough that I’m wondering which “we” “never heard of this series before”), although I can’t say it was well-liked. It bombed so badly that even moving the cave people to contemporary times halfway through the season didn’t help. A crumby way to be introduced to Imogene Coca, who had distinguished herself in Your Show of Shows far enough back that \I/ hadn’t heard of it until the 1970’s movie-theater release of 10 of its best skits.

  4. (7) I don’t remember this one, and it was a period when I was in the same house with a TV. I don’t think we watched it, ever.

  5. (8) Sarah Polley co-starred with Adrien Brody in the very weird SF film Splice.

    It’s not really genre, but Jack Womack’s novel Let’s Put the Future Behind Us (which I think is his penultimate published novel) is brilliant.

  6. I would say that David Bowie’s first sf role was Ziggy Stardust.
    ——-
    So sad to hear about Steve Stiles.

  7. (7) I liked It’s About Time!

    In my defense, I was ten. It didn’t last to my eleventh birthday. And i thought the move to the 20th century was, let’s say, not an improvement. Or to rephrase slightly, sucked all the fun out of it.

    I’m very sorry to hear about Steve Stiles.

  8. Lis: “In my defense, I was ten. It didn’t last to my eleventh birthday.” Me too! I do recall watching at least one episode in each half of the season – but in truth I was more of a fan of Captain Nice and Mr. Terrific, both of which ran during winter/spring 1967. (Somewhere I may still have my Captain Nice paperback novel with William Daniels, in costume, on the cover – it was by William Johnston, who was also producing original Get Smart! novels at the time.)

  9. 1) The store: Maybe something a little lower key might fly?
    2) So sorry to hear about Stiles.
    4) Gerrold: Arrogant posers? Good call. I do think there’s more to the issue, though.
    7) Even as a kid, I thought “It’s About Time” was an eye-roller. Maybe if they’d made it more of a drama?

  10. (2) A SHOCK.
    Very sad news.

    (14) DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH.
    Maybe just let it go? There are parts of Firefly I enjoyed but it has had its time. What about coming up with a fresh new idea?

  11. (8) Monty Python member Graham Chapman would have turned 79 today. He wrote Life of Brian, which contains aliens and a spaceship, justifying his presence here.

    And a big day for artists. In addition to Vallejo, Canadian comics artist Ken Steacy was born 65 years ago. He did, amongst other stuff, a graphic novel with Harlan Ellison.

  12. I still have my Captain Nice paperback and I can still sing the It’s About Time theme song. Okay, at least the first two lines. I loved all that stuff. It didn’t have to be good to be great.

    Not only was David Bowie Ziggy Stardust, there’s SF in his work from before that one–“The Man Who Sold The World”, “Space Oddity”, “Life on Mars?”–and after–“Diamond Dogs” (the whole record and the song), “TVC 15”. And while I’ve been saving his last record for a rainy day, I know the video features an alien artifact.

    Plus Gillian Anderson plays him in American Gods.

  13. If Firefly had been revived within a year or three of its cancellation, I’d have been very pleased. (Would rather have had that than the SERENITY movie, to be honest.) But too much time has passed to recapture that particular fortunate combination.

    I’m fine with Firefly having largely inspired a subgenre of “found family” SF/F. It’s a worthy legacy.

  14. I read in Buck Henry’s obituary today that he created Captain Nice. All these connections… William Daniels not only starred in that series but was acting in Henry’s script of The Graduate that same year; William Johnston wrote the Captain Nice and Get Smart! novels; Don Adams of Get Smart! speaks the line “That’s no nut, boy!” during the Captain Nice theme song.

    Henry wrote at least one original genre movie script, Mike Nichols’ The Day of the Dolphin (advertised with the unforgettable tag line “Unwittingly, he trained a dolphin to kill the president of the United States.”)

  15. 2) That is very sad news

    8) Re Hartnell. The Mouse that Roared mght be within hailing distance of genre, maybe.

    11) :shudders: Every time I see clowns, I think of the house in seasons 1 and 2 of The Good Place

  16. Sad to report that one of our credentials who previously slept on SFF has departed. She was 19 and a half, almost entirely blind and fitting.It wouldn’t have been a kindness to keep her going.

  17. Paul Weimer says Re Hartnell. The Mouse that Roared mght be within hailing distance of genre, maybe.

    At least genre adjacent. I debated including it but figured one of you would mentioned it.

  18. Nickpheas:

    “Sad to report that one of our credentials who previously slept on SFF has departed. “

    Rest in peace, Fuschia.

  19. [7] I too can sing part of the “It’s About Time” theme song. It was a horrifying waste of the comedic skills of Coca, and even Joe E. Ross deserved better.

  20. @Lela E. Buis:
    1) The store: Maybe something a little lower key might fly? Probably — but the noise is part of the sales pitch to the public; think of it as cosplaying without costumes (snarky slant based on seeing how much of what used to be an interesting how-they-do-it tour at Universal was taken over by the Potterverse.)
    7) Even as a kid, I thought “It’s About Time” was an eye-roller. Maybe if they’d made it more of a drama? How would they have done that? The Time Tunnel and Star Trek pretty much filled the genre drama slots at that time, and there are only so many shows that can be done about fighting prehistoric menaces even with a Flintstones attitude toward history — but dumb sitcoms were considered easy, and genre just multiplied what plots could be stretched for a half-hour; think I Dream of Jeannie, My Favorite Martian, Bewitched, The Flying Nun, Mr. Ed, and even My Mother the Car (which Wikipedia says was rated even worse than IAT by an after-the-fact TV Guide article).

    @Michael J. Lowrey: do you really want to admit that? Not that I can claim I don’t remember it, although I maintain I never went so far as to audition with a 60’s sitcom theme song. (The guy who beat me out for Pooh-Bah in a summer production of The Mikado said afterward that he’d used Mr. Ed….)

  21. 5) Richard Kadrey is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sandman Slim dark urban fantasy series.

    Yay, Sandman Slim! I thought the most recent installment was especially good.

    Born January 8, 1977 — Amber Benson, 43.

    She has also done good work narrating sff audiobooks. For instance, she narrated this year’s excellent Middlegame by McGuire, as well as the female-voice versions of Lock In and Head On by Scalzi. And she’s also the author of several UF/PNR books.

    eta — oops, I see you already mentioned the books she wrote — nevermind on that one!

    7) That show was just a bit before my conscious memories begin, and I don’t remember ever hearing about it!

  22. All my sympathies to @Laura Resnick! 🙁

    And also to Steve Stiles! 🙁

    (Yes, I can share ALL my sympathies with multiple people at the same time.)

  23. My last comment for now (sorry, I felt these should be separate): Happy Birthday to Boris Vallejo, who’s still one of my favorite artists! 😀

  24. 7) Ten year old me watched all those odd sitcoms back then, plus Batman, of course. Ten year old me also wasn’t very critical, so generally kept watching them. We had a second TV in our family room (former garage), so I could watch things like that without my older sisters wanting to watch something else.

  25. (7) The punk band X worked It’s About Time into their song “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts.”

    Astronauts go back in time
    To hang out with the cave people
    It’s about time
    It’s about space
    It’s about some people in the strangest places

    I never saw it until a few years ago. TV Guide says that Light TV (owned by MGM) is currently showing it through its affiliates on Saturday mornings.

  26. Oh sad to hear about Resnik and Stiles!

    -Sanman Slim: Would be hard to catch the uniqze narrative voice in a movie.

    -Firefly: I think the universe could easily be used for a new storyline, with a new cast (maybe more asian?) and maybe the occasional cameo. The Star Trek route, so to speak.

  27. I forgot to add —

    Many sympathies to Nick and Laura. It’s a tough time of year for many of us!

  28. Ten year old me liked It’s About Time, astronauts and time travel what more could you want?

    @gottacook, Mr Terrific!!!!! Thank you I have been haunted for years trying to remember the name of the show. And yet I never forgot Captain Nice, the two got combined in my memory for some reason.

  29. I was also someone of single-digit age who enjoyed It’s About Time. Though it wasn’t one of my favorites, and I didn’t particularly miss it when it stopped.

    As for The Morganville Vampires web show (which featured Amber Benson), it was, of course, based on the Rachel Caine novels, and was pretty decent for a no-budget web series. Produced by Felicia Day’s Geek & Sundry.

  30. Apparently the “It’s About Time” theme song was very catchy because back in the 80s I had a friend who’d sing bits of it randomly. He was about 14 or so when it first aired.

  31. Yes, I found myself singing random (and randomly modified) bits of the theme song for years afterwards. Definitely left much more of an impression on my brain than the actual show.

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