Pixel Scroll 5/28/20 When There Is No Pixel Tossed, Nor Wind To Scroll.

(1) PETAL PUSHERS. The latest story in ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination’s Us in Flux project launched today: “Fourth and Most Important,” a story about coded messages, clandestine drone deliveries, and surprising alliances by Nisi Shawl.

The fourth of the Five Petals of the New Bedford Rose, Integration, is called by some its most important. Primacy of place goes to the first petal, Thought, of course—but linear primacy is deemed by practitioners of the Five Petals to be overrated.

—From “A Thousand Flowers of Thought: Schisms within the New Bedford Rose”

On Monday, June 1 at 4 p.m. Eastern, they’ll have another virtual event on Zoom with Nisi Shawl in conversation with Ayana Jamieson, founder of the Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network.  

(2) FIRST FIFTH. Happy blogoversary Camestros! “Happy Five Years Today”. How could we have gotten through those puppy days without you?

…The very last post of May was the other thing I needed a blog to explain: how to vote in an era of trolls https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2015/05/31/hugo-voting-strategy-high-bar-no-award/ What I was anticipating was more spoilery/trolling tactics in the future. The idea was that we might end up with slates every year and on the slates there would be some stuff that actually was good put there to mess with our heads — what we would later call ‘hostages’.

(3) WHAT’S ON THE MENU? Scott Edelman invites listeners to join New York Times best-selling novelist Justina Ireland in Episode 122 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Justina Ireland

Once upon a time, I had a wonderful Persian lunch with Justina Ireland at Orchard Market & Cafe outside of Baltimore. The food was delicious, and the conversation on which you were meant to eavesdrop was delightful. Unfortunately, after that, things did not go as planned.

If you want to know what I mean by that, check out our chat on the latest episode of Eating the Fantastic.

Justina Ireland is the author of the New York Times best-selling novel Dread Nation, as well as the recently published sequel Dark Divide. She’s a World Fantasy Award-winner for her former role as the co-editor in chief of FIYAH Literary Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction. She also written Star Wars: Flight of the Falcon: Lando’s Luck, several novels in the middle grade fantasy series Devils’ Pass, including Evie Allen vs. the Quiz Bowl Zombies and Zach Lopez vs. the Unicorns of Doom, and many more. Vulture has called her “the most controversial figure in young-adult literature.”

We discussed whether having written zombie novels has helped her deal with the pandemic, her biggest pet peeve when she hears other writers talk about writing, where she falls in the fast vs. slow zombies debate (and how she’s managed to have the best of both worlds), our very different reasons for not having read Harry Potter, the way she avoided sequelitis in Dark Divide, what it was like playing in the Star Wars sandbox, why it’s easier to lie when writing from a first person point of view, the franchise character she most wishes she could write a novel about, the main difference between science fiction and YA communities, how Law & Order gives comfort during these trying times, and much more.

(4) WHAT THE WELL-DRESSED BIRD WILL BE READING. The Bookseller applauds as “Penguin Classics boldly goes into science fiction”.

Penguin Classics is to launch a new series of science fiction—with livery designed by Penguin art director Jim Stoddart—which will aim “to challenge stereotypes about the genre and celebrate science fiction as the essential genre of modern times”. 

Penguin Classics Science Fiction will kick off with 10 titles in August, with a further 10 to follow in November. The launch list will include two books by giants of world SF who have not often been published in English: Andreas Eschbach’s The Hair Carpet Weavers (translated by Doryl Jensen) and Angélica Gorodischer’s Trafalgar (Amelia Gladhart). German superstar Eschbach has only had three of his more than 40 novels translated into English; The Hair Carpet Weavers is his 1995 space opera debut. The 91-year-old Argentine Gorodischer is arguably Latin America’s best-known SF writer and Trafalgar follows the titular roguish intergalatic trader through a series of adventures. 

… Other titles on the August launch are Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, Edwin Abbott’s Flatland and Ten Thousand Light-years from Home by James Tiptree Jr, the pseudonym of pioneering American feminist SF writer Alice Bradley Sheldon.

(5) WHERE ELSE CAN SHE SEARCH? [Item by Cmm.]  I recently read the story “A Witch in Time” by Herb Williams for a Librivox short SF collection. It appears to be his only publication, from If magazine, February 1955. He’s new to our catalog so I’ve been trying to find any birth or death date. He is not in Wikipedia or the Science Fiction encyclopedia, and I’m not sure his Goodreads listing is accurate — I think he may be lumped under another Herb Williams there. HIs name is too common to have much luck with searching obituaries or Find A Grave, which is another of my go-tos when I’m trying to track down info on an obscure author.

I’m wondering if the name might ring a bell with you or some of the elders in the fan community as one of those authors who was mainly known as a fan but who published professionally once or twice? Anything that might give me a thread to pull, like a guy with that name who was in Chicago or something, would help.

Also if you or any of the other fandom and older-SF knowledgeable folks know of additional resources that I could try to see if I could figure out anymore would be really helpful, like maybe where If magazine’s archives are collected (if there is such a thing) or a person to reach out to who has done bibliographies or has a great memory for 50s SF authors or something?

The other possibility is if “Herb Williams” was a pseudonym used one time — sometimes taht seems to have happened in the 30s-50s era magazines when an author had two stories in the same issue. I tried searching on just the story title to see if it connects to any other author but no luck there.

(6) WOTW IS ON THE AIR. The LA Times’ Justin Chang calls “‘The Vast of Night’ is an ingenious, beautifully crafted ode to 1950s sci-fi paranoia”.

The first thing you see in “The Vast of Night,” Andrew Patterson’s ingenious and surprising debut feature, is an old 1950s-style TV set broadcasting a show called “Paradox Theater.” It’s clearly modeled on classic anthology series like “The Twilight Zone,” complete with portentous Rod Serling-esque narration that ushers us into “a realm between clandestine and forgotten,” then goes on to rattle off nearly half a dozen charmingly overwrought synonyms, including “a frequency caught between logic and myth.”

Forced to supply my own description, I’d say that “The Vast of Night” exists somewhere at the intersection of radio, television and cinema, and that it excavates some of our fondest old-timey memories of all three in order to build something playfully, strikingly new…. 

…There are lengthy passages in “The Vast of Night” when you could close your eyes with little loss of dramatic impact. And Patterson, perhaps eager to test the limits of his experiment, sometimes cuts to a black screen mid-dialogue, an audacious touch that allows the dialogue to carry the story. Elsewhere, however, the director gives you a lot to look at. Adam Dietrich’s production design is a marvel of vintage automobiles and analog recording equipment. The gifted cinematographer Miguel I. Littin-Menz pulls off a handful of arresting transitional moments, his camera showily traversing the New Mexico nightscape in sinuous extended tracking shots.

(7) DIAGNOSIS GENRE. Rob Latham surveys a specialized field in “Zones of Possibility: Science Fiction and the Coronavirus” in LA Review of Books.

…   In any case, no form of literature has more boldly confronted the possibility of global crisis and catastrophe than SF has, from its outset in the 19th century. Mary Shelley’s 1826 novel The Last Man is the quintessential tale of a worldwide pandemic — an outbreak of plague that gradually kills off the entire population, leaving at the end a single, lonely survivor. A recent essay on the novel in TLS shows how its conception emerged, in part, from a massive cholera outbreak that was exacerbated by incompetent public health measures, leading Shelley to conclude that “humanity is the author of its own disasters, even those that seem purely natural or beyond our control.” With its geographic sweep, attention to the interplay of science and politics, and vivid rendering of deserted cities and depopulated landscapes, The Last Man established a template that has been followed by most subsequent narratives of apocalyptic pandemics, in and outside the SF genre, from Stephen King’s The Stand (1978) to Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake (2003) to Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (2014).

(8) NOVIK NEWS. Deadline reports another popular sff author’s work may get adapted into a motion picture: “Universal & Mandeville Films Partner On Naomi Novik’s ‘Scholomance’ Series”.

Universal has won the film rights for Naomi Novik’s YA novel Scholomance Random House series, putting the first novel A Deadly Education into development with Mandeville Films’ Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman.

The first book takes us into a dangerous school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death. There are no teachers, no holidays, friendships are purely strategic, and the odds of survival are never equal. Once you’re inside, there are only two ways out: you graduate or you die. 

(9) SAVED FROM KRYPTON’S CUTTING ROOM FLOOR. We Got This Covered says there’s yet another bonus in the director’s cut: “Justice League Snyder Cut Will Reportedly Feature Supergirl”.

Given that he recently claimed up to 75% of the movie will be footage that we’ve never seen before, Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League already looks to have enough plot threads to resolve without the possibility of introducing any more. However, the filmmaker’s time at the helm of the DCEU wasn’t exactly characterized by light and breezy narratives, with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice in particular packed with enough content to fill three movies, and now that he’s finally got the chance to realize his original vision, he may as well go for broke.

In a recent watch party for Man of Steel, Snyder confirmed that a glimpse of an open pod on the Kryptonian ship was a deliberate nod towards his plans to expand the mythology and eventually introduce Supergirl into the shared universe, even though he’d already denied the very same thing two years previously….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 28, 1847 – Bithia Croker.  Irish horsewoman who hunted with the Kildare; married, moved to British India, wrote for a distraction during the hot season.  Forty-two novels (17 set in India, 1 Burma, 7 Ireland), translated into French, German, Hungarian, Norwegian; we can claim Beyond the Pale and her seven collections of shorter stories. (Died 1920.)  [JH]
  • Born May 28, 1908 – Ian Fleming.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is about a flying car.  Of IF’s James Bond books, Moonraker is SF, as we discussed at Boskone L, with Peter Weston testifying where the British rocket program was at the time; at the end of the story, Bond and the girl (as she would have been called in 1955) – oh, I won’t spoil it.  (Died 1964) [JH]
  • Born May 28, 1919 — Don Day. A fan active in the 1940s and ’50s In Portland, Oregon, and a member of the local club.  He was editor of The Fanscient (and of its parody, Fan-Scent), and perhaps the greatest of the early bibliographers of sf. He published bibliographies in The Fanscient and also published the Day Index, the Index to the Science Fiction Magazines 1926-1950.   He ran Perri Press, a small press which produced The Fanscient and the Index of Science Fiction Magazines 1926-1950.  He chaired NorWesCon, the 1950 Worldcon, after the resignation of Jack de Courcy. (Died 1979.) (CE)
  • Born May 28, 1923 Natalie Norwick. She had a number of genre roles in the Sixties including being Martha Leighton in “The Conscience of the King”, a Trek episode, and appearing as Josette duPres Collins on Dark Shadows. (Died 2007.) (CE)
  • Born May 28, 1929 Shane Rimmer. A Canadian actor and voice actor,  best remembered for being the voice of Scott Tracy in puppet based Thunderbirds during the Sixties. Less known was that he was in Dr. Strangelove as Captain “Ace” Owens, and Diamonds Are Forever and Live and Let Die in uncredited roles. He even shows up in Star Wars as a Rebel Fighter Technician, again uncredited. (Died 2019.) (CE)
  • Born May 28, 1930 – Frank Drake, 90.  Astronomer and astrophysicist.  National Academy of Sciences, American Acad. of Arts & Sciences.  Co-designed the Pioneer Plaques; supervised the Voyager Golden Records; thus our next-door neighbor.  Lapidarist.  Raises orchids.  [JH]
  • Born May 28, 1936 Fred Chappell, 84. Dagon, his first novel, retells a Cthulhu Mythos story as a realistic Southern Gothic tale. His Falco the Shadow Master’s Apprentice series has a handful of excellent stories, uncollected so far as I can tell, plus a novel, A Shadow All of Light, which is available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)
  • Born May 28, 1954 – Kees van Toorn.  Dutch fan, translator, publisher.  Chaired 48th Worldcon, at the Hague.  Served on con committees in the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, the U.S., Canada. Two European SF Awards.  This Website https://confiction1990.com is about his Worldcon and a planned reunion.  [JH]
  • Born May 28, 1954 – Betsy Mitchell.  Long fruitful career at Baen, Bantam, Warner, Del Rey, editing 150 titles, several becoming N.Y. Times Best Sellers; now, Betsy Mitchell Editorial Services.  Guest of Honor at Archon XIV, 4th Street Fantasy Con (1992), Armadillocon XXII, Bosone XLI, Ad Astra XXV, Loscon XL.  [JH]
  • Born May 28, 1977 – Ursula Vernon.  Oor Wombat has published two dozen novels, as many shorter stories, and as many covers too, sometimes as T. Kingfisher.  Two Hugos, a Nebula, two Mythopoeic and two WSFA (Washington, D.C, SF Ass’n) Small Press awards.  Here’s her Amazon author page.  [JH]
  • Born May 28, 1984 Max Gladstone, 36. His debut novel, Three Parts Dead, is part of the Craft Sequence series, and his shared Bookburners serial is most excellent. This Is How You Lose the Time War (co-written with Amal El-Mohtar) is a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Novella this year. (CE)
  • Born May 28, 1985 Carey Mulligan, 35. She’s here because she shows up in a very scary Tenth Doctor story, “Blink”, in which she plays Sally Sparrow. Genre adjacent, she was in Agatha Christie’s Marple: The Sittaford Mystery as Violet Willett. (Christie gets a shout-out in another Tenth Doctor story, “The Unicorn and the Wasp”. (CE)

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) UH, FELLOWSHIP, THAT’S THE WORD. End the month on a high note – Josh Gad’s Reunited Apart brings together the cast of Lord of the Rings on Sunday, May 31 at 9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET. Here’s a teaser with Sean Astin.

SYFY Wire reports Josh Gad has already delivered a mermaid reunion: “Splash Stars Tom Hanks & Daryl Hannah Dive Into Charity Reunion (And Talk Tail Tales)”

After posting a teaser video in which he demanded Ron Howard — who directed the classic fantasy rom-com back in 1984 — deliver Tom Hanks to viewers, both Gad and Howard made good on their tease Tuesday when they convened for a chat that included Hanks himself, as well as costars Daryl Hannah and Eugene Levy, co-writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, and producer Brian Grazer. The chat doubled as a fundraiser for DIGDEEP, a nonprofit working to provide water and sanitation access to more than two million Americans who still don’t have those utilities.

(13) THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS. Bob Madle’s about to celebrate his 100th birthday on June 2. First Fandom Experience turned back the pages to acquaint readers with “Robert A. Madle In 1930s Fandom”. Lots of scans of photos and fanzine items.

… In a 2006 conversation with John L. Coker III, Madle recalled:

“My very first letter appeared in the July 1935 Pirate Stories.  I was a Gernsback fan, and anything he published I picked up.  I read his editorial in the first issue.  He said that they will publish pirate stories of the past, the present, and yes, even of the future.  So, I wrote a letter saying that they ought to publish a novel about a space pirate and they should get Edmond Hamilton to write it.  They printed the letter and I won a year’s subscription to Wonder Stories.  I was fourteen years old and I thought that this was one of the greatest things that ever happened.”

(14) BOK TALK. “Rediscovered: A Letter from Hannes Bok” at Don Herron’s website. The scan of a typewritten letter from 1943.

[Noted] book and pulp (and autograph, and letter, and miscellania) collector Kevin Cook thought some of you might like to peruse a letter the legendary fantasy artist Hannes Bok… 

(15) THEY STAB IT WITH THEIR STEELY KNIVES. James Davis Nicoll “Five SF Stories That Mix Swords and Starships” at Tor.com.

Inspired by an engaging time-filler meme on social media , my thoughts returned to that venerable roleplaying game Travellerprofiled on Tor.com earlier this year. Anyone who has played Traveller (or even just played with online character generation sites like this one) might have noticed that a surprising number of the characters one can generate are skilled with blades. This may see as an odd choice for a game like Traveller that is set in the 57th century CE, or indeed for any game in which swords and starships co-exist. Why do game authors make these choices?

(16) SOMETHING TO DO. “Ministry of Silly Walks comes to Sonning during lockdown”, a BBC video.

The residents of a Berkshire village have been filmed re-enacting one of British comedy’s most famous sketches.

Monty Python fan James Ruffell put up signs outside his house in Sonning informing people they were entering the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Silly Walks.

He filmed the results with a motion-controlled webcam and uploaded the subsequent silliness to Facebook.

(17) WEIRD, NOT SILLY. LA’s NBC affiliate recommends you “Walk Haunted Pasadena (While Staying at Home)”.

So you’ve popped by Old Pasadena in the past, to pick up dinner or to find the perfect scarf for your mom or to search for something rosy for that one cousin who is obsessed with what happens along Colorado Boulevard on New Year’s Day each and every year.

But while strolling through the century-old alleys, on the way to the restaurant or shop, you suddenly feel a chill, a skin prickle, a sense that something vaporous or strange is nearby.

Is it a ghost? Or the knowledge that the historic city is a favorite among phantom fans?

Venture deeper into the strange and chilling tales of the Crown City on Friday evening, May 29.

That’s when Pasadena Walking Tours will lead its “Haunted Pasadena” tour, an at-home adventure that you can enjoy from your couch.

So, for sure: Stay in your slippers for this one and leave the sneakers by the front door.

(18) LOST AND FOUND. “Half the matter in the universe was missing – we found it hiding in the cosmos” reports Yahoo! There were several steps in finding the solution. One of them was —

…In 2007, an entirely unanticipated opportunity appeared. Duncan Lorimer, an astronomer at the University of West Virginia, reported the serendipitous discovery of a cosmological phenomenon known as a fast radio burst (FRB). FRBs are extremely brief, highly energetic pulses of radio emissions. Cosmologists and astronomers still don’t know what creates them, but they seem to come from galaxies far, far away.

As these bursts of radiation traverse the universe and pass through gasses and the theorized WHIM, they undergo something called dispersion.

The initial mysterious cause of these FRBs lasts for less a thousandth of a second and all the wavelengths start out in a tight clump. If someone was lucky enough – or unlucky enough – to be near the spot where an FRB was produced, all the wavelengths would hit them simultaneously.

But when radio waves pass through matter, they are briefly slowed down. The longer the wavelength, the more a radio wave “feels” the matter. Think of it like wind resistance. A bigger car feels more wind resistance than a smaller car.

The “wind resistance” effect on radio waves is incredibly small, but space is big. By the time an FRB has traveled millions or billions of light-years to reach Earth, dispersion has slowed the longer wavelengths so much that they arrive nearly a second later than the shorter wavelengths.

Therein lay the potential of FRBs to weigh the universe’s baryons, an opportunity we recognized on the spot. By measuring the spread of different wavelengths within one FRB, we could calculate exactly how much matter – how many baryons – the radio waves passed through on their way to Earth…

(19) GETTIING THE POINT. Charles Veley and Anna Elliott, in “Sherlock Holmes And The Womanly Art Of Self-Defense” on CrimeReads, discuss their series of Sherlock Holmes pastiches with Holmes and his daughter, Lucy James, and what sort of self-defense skills Victorian women had.

…A woman’s chief weapon, as the female self-defense movement began to gain traction, was the hat pin. These long (up to 6 inches), frequently jeweled pins were used to secure the elaborate hats of the day to a woman’s hair, but they could also be wielded with dangerous purpose in the event that a woman was attacked or threatened by a “masher.” In 1912, a hatpin was even used to foil an attempted robbery. Elizabeth Foley, an 18-year-old bank employee, was walking home with a male colleague who carried the entire payroll for the bank staff. They were attacked by a robber who knocked the male colleague down. But Elizabeth, undaunted, reached for her hatpin and jabbed at the robber’s face. The attacker ran away.

(20) NOT DESPICABLE THIS TIME. Gru and the Minions have made a PSA.

The World Health Organization, the United Nations Foundation and Illumination have partnered to release a public service announcement featuring the famous Minions characters and Gru, voiced by actor Steve Carrell, to show how people can stay safe from COVID-19

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

41 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/28/20 When There Is No Pixel Tossed, Nor Wind To Scroll.

  1. Happy birthday to the co-creator of Red and Blue and the creator of Castle Hangnail!

  2. (20) How odd! That looked like Gru being civic-minded! Or maybe it’s just that it’s the end of a long day, and I’m really tired?

  3. 4) These Penguin books are UK only. I haven’t seen the complete August list, but among the ones not mentioned here are One Billion Years to the End of the World by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, and Dimension of Miracles by Robert Sheckley.

    Penguin sent me the cover to the Tiptree collection. I looked at it and forgot about it. A little later they wrote and said, “We’re still waiting for you to approve the cover. And because it’s part of a uniform set, you must say yes.”

  4. 4) Penguin’s always been pretty good about SF – I’ve got quite a number of Penguin SF books where they’ve taken the line that “this is a respectable work of fiction just like any other”, so the spines of e.g. my John Wyndhams look the same as my Graham Greenes or P.G. Wodehouses.

  5. 10) A much more substantial genre link for Carey Mulligan is the 2010 film “Never Let Me Go”, but you knew that already.

  6. (4) / @Jeff Smith – there’s a list of the titles in this series here. It includes a few that aren’t scheduled to be published until early 2021, at least a couple of which – namely Last and First Men and Star Maker – will have just entered the public domain by then.

  7. JeffWarner says A much more substantial genre link for Carey Mulligan is the 2010 film “Never Let Me Go”, but you knew that already.

    Actually I didn’t and the IMDB brief description didn’t hint at being it genre either. So it didn’t get included. There’s just so much time in a day and I can’t really do a deep dive on films I don’t recognise. Books I can usually grok if they’re genre or genre adjacent, film not so much.

  8. Cat,
    No problem. We’re here to back you up and/or propel the conversation along, whichever is more humorous.

    (20) “It is dark. You are likely smitten by a Gru…”
    JeffW.

  9. Jeff Warner notes No problem. We’re here to back you up and/or propel the conversation along, whichever is more humorous.

    The Birthdays are a Great Deal of fun to put together and have gotten even more interesting to since John Hertz became involved. I’ve got my list drafted for today (as does he) but I’m waiting to see what my physical therapy schedule looks like for today before I know when I’ll be doing them.

    Now reading: Zelazny’s To Die in Iltabar

  10. That’s an interesting selection of books. Interesting not meaning that any of the choices is questionable, but the surprising juxtapositions: I wouldn’t have expected to find The Color out of Space and Zamyatin’s We on the same list.

  11. That cover for Color Out of Space is … weird. At least, for that book in particular.

  12. @Lis / @John: Gru got stuck being the good guy before movie #1 ended, despite his best efforts.

    @Todd Dashoff: or just … great … minds thinking alike?

  13. Congrats jayn! That is awesome!

    Hi y’all! it’s been absolutely ages and reading through the scroll today reminds me that I miss this place and need to visit more often. Hope everyone is getting through this thing okay.

    4) That Penguin series sounds awesome. Especially exciting to see more translated SF.

    5) Thanks Mike for posting this — if anyone has any tips, I’ll be checking back here a few times in the next day or two, or Mike has my email if you want to contact me directly.

    By the way, the story was a pretty average 50s SF story (time traveler rescues accused Salem witch from imminent execution and falls in love with her) and the collection should be finished up and out within the next month or so. Also got to read a new-to-me Lovecraft story, “The Hound” for the current Ghost and Horror short fiction collection, which was really fun. Lovecraft is problematic as hell, for sure, but damn his purple prose is a hoot to read aloud. (I’ve also recently been revisiting Stephen King’s Night Shift short story collection for the first time in decades and reading this story made me realize how absolutely soaked in Lovecraft his early short story style was. )

    7) Mary Shelley’s The Last Man is definitely having a moment. I’ve seen several pieces about it recently. WaPo ran one that talked about the parallels to our current political situation; Gizmodo Australia has an essay that talks about the historical context of Shelley’s day that made apocalyptic/end of humanity fiction resonate for a few years. China Daily’s article talks about the personal context — Mary’s husband Percy Bysshe Shelley was dead by then (along with almost all of Mary’s children and most of her other close friends, so you can see why she was moved to write a novel about mourning a lot of deaths) and his father (on whom Mary was financially dependent at that point) forbade her to publish a biography of Shelley, so the novel was a way for her to write about both his death and the death of their friend Lord Byron through killing off characters that were modeled on them.

    If anyone is curious about the novel itself, it’s available for free as an ebook on Project Gutenberg (it’s been downloaded on PG over 2000 times in the last 30 days so I guess it’s having am moment there as well) and as an audiobook on Librivox.

    Now that I’ve looked all that up and written it all out, it occurs to me that I should have used it in my public domain column…so some of my next one (yes, I’m coming back to it one day pretty soon!) will probably look familiar to those of you who faithfully read all the comments…

    10) Happy birthday Ursula!

    I also immediately thought of “Never Let Me Go” with Carey Mulligan, but don’t underrate her one Doctor Who appearance. It’s only one of the best DW episodes of all time, and Carey’s Sally Sparrow (and the other one-off characters in that episode) always tops the list one-shot characters that fans desperately want to see return someday…also, not SF but An Education was a dazzling period piece and Mulligan was amazing in it.

    Man, I’ve missed this place and all of your familiar “voices” in the comments–gotta stop by again sooner rather than later!

  14. @John S — Thanks. I was looking for that Penguin page but couldn’t find it.

  15. @cmm (5) — The fictionmags index lists several other stories by Herb Williams, and lists a birth year (1914), but nothing for the other end of his life.
    “A Witch in Time” is online here, if anyone wants to read it.

    The intro to a story by C. Herb Williams in Amazing Stories Jan 1991 suggests they may be publishing a story by this writer: “After making his living for nearly twenty years as a free-lance photojoumalist, C. Herb Williams says he is experiencing a mid-life crisis, one that has caused him to focus his creative energies on writing fiction. His first SF story sale was to If in 1954, and after a long gap, he sold another tale to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1980. This is the author’s first appearance in Amazing Stories.” A mid-life crisis in 1991 is kinda late for a guy born in 1914, so this may not be the same guy, or the 1914 date may be wrong.
    The F&SF story is here.

    I found two articles bylined to C. Herb Williams in the Asbury Park NJ paper (1985 and 1991; one of them included a photo credited to him), so if this is the same guy, he may have been local to that area.

  16. The “About the Author” page of this book by C. Herb Williams says “C. HERB WILLIAMS is a full-time writer with a background including nine years as a daily newspaper reporter, another eight in the public relations department of a large natural resource oriented corporation. He has published with major outdoor publications and many newspapers. He authored a cover story in Fishing Tackle Trade News on the subject of “Indian Treaties — Sportsmen’s Nightmare.” ” It also has a picture of him.

    C. Herb Williams also has articles in The American Legion Magazine Jan 1976, and the Aug 1981 issue of Writer’s Digest.

  17. @Chip Hitchcock: “Gru got stuck being the good guy before movie #1 ended, despite his best efforts.”

    That is one of my favorite stories: The hero despite oneself. I’m going to make sure my roommate gives back my Villain-Con t-shirt before he moves out.

  18. Today is also the birthday of long-time small name fan Xtifr!

    Xtifr first rose to non-significance as a child, when he and his friend Marie Ellington became the only runners-up at the 1968 Worldcon masquerade. (The judges couldn’t quite figure out an appropriate award category, but didn’t want to leave the costume out entirely…)

    Since then, Xtifr has worked at countless conventions in miniscule, forgettable roles, such as gopher and door-watcher, and has successfully avoided ever rising to any level of actual fame or significant fanac. As many as half a dozen people may remember his hall costume from ConJose, where he attached a small plastic turtle to his forehead, and claimed to be a Klingon.

    Lately, he has been a regular on the File770 blog, where he contributes assorted gushing over various writers, an occasional odd news item, and a few random pixel-scroll titles (like today’s). Really not worth a long write-up like this one, but you try telling him that! 😀

  19. Cokocon has cancelled, which is unsurprising but still sad.

  20. Happy Birthday, Xtifr! Many happy returns.

    Pixel title suggestion “The Galileo Sevateem”

  21. jayn: a story I wrote is in a book that is now published!

    That’s awesome, jayn! Congratulations!

  22. Happy Birthday to Xtifr!

    @Contrarius: I’d attach a scan of the rebus version that a friend committed at least 28 years ago, but it’s deeply buried if it didn’t disappear in a move.

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