Pixel Scroll 10/18/21 Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me, When I Pixel Scroll

(1) WRECKS APPEAL. The Hugo Book Club Blog in “American Cleon” points out, among other things, that “Hari Seldon never suggests making something better than an Empire. He wants to make Trantor Great Again.”

….Foundation as a narrative has to be understood in this context; Isaac Asimov’s understanding of history was informed by American exceptionalism, the influence of America’s third ‘Great Awakening’ of apocalyptic religiosity, the wake of the Great Depression, and of a period of upheaval and uncertainty about the country’s future. It might be asked why, after 80 years, the books are finally being adapted to the screen; is it perhaps because we are again in a period of upheaval and uncertainty?

While we should be aware that the original novel is a product of the ideas and concerns of the time it was written, the television show is a product of today and makes arguments about the world of 2021. We would suggest that the television series version of Foundation contains hints of Gibbons’ classism, echoes of Asimov’s concerns about America on the eve of the Second World War, but also reflects our own 21st Century concerns about decline.

Margaret Atwood has said that “Prophecies are really about now. In science fiction it’s always about now.” And it’s really more about how people perceive the present, as today’s perceptions determine the actions of tomorrow. Apple TV’s Foundation series resonates because people perceive these trends to be inescapable, and determinative….

(2) BACKING UP THE TRAIN. Release dates have been pushed back, partly as a domino effect of one movie’s production delays. “Disney Delays ‘Doctor Strange,’ ‘Thor 4,’ ‘Black Panther’ Sequel and ‘Indiana Jones 5’” reports Variety.

Disney has delayed release plans for several upcoming films, including “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” from March 25 to May 6, “Thor: Love and Thunder” from May 6 to July 8 and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” from July 8 to Nov. 11. With the “Black Panther” sequel jumping to November, “The Marvels” has been postponed to early 2023 and “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” was bumped from Feb. 17 to July 28, 2023.

Along with the deluge of Marvel delays, Disney has moved the fifth “Indiana Jones” installment back nearly a year. The still-untitled film, starring Harrison Ford as the fedora-wearing, swashbuckling archaeologist, will open on June 30, 2023 instead of July 29, 2022.

…The scheduling overhaul is related to production and not box office returns, according to sources at Disney. The next “Black Panther” entry, for one, is still filming in Atlanta. Since Marvel has become an interconnected and meticulously planned universe — which spans dozens of film and several new television series — any production delay causes a domino effect on the rest of the franchise. As for “Indiana Jones,” the 79-year-old Ford sustained a shoulder injury on set in June, requiring the actor to take a break from filming while he healed. Though director James Mangold continued to shoot without Ford, there are a limited amount of scenes that don’t involve the adventurer. Ford has since recovered and returned to set…

(3) SHELF LIFE. “I got Tor to pay me for having organized my shelves,” says James Davis Nicoll. Well, and writing about the results, of course. “Fifteen Classic SFF Works By Three Extremely Prolific Authors”. (Tor.com has been hacked and is currently not safe to visit.)

It is not a coincidence that this essay was written after completing a grand personal library project that required alphabetizing and shelving a lot of books. One soon notices that which authors are best represented in one’s library. As far as vintage authors go, these are my top three by shelf-feet.

Poul Anderson (November 25, 1926 — July 31, 2001)

First published in 1947, Anderson’s career spanned seven decades. Although he slowed down towards the end of that period, in the end he was responsible for an astounding number of words and books. This was not an uncommon pattern for authors who started writing in the era of pulp magazines. Authors were paid poor per-word rates and learned to write quickly if they wanted to eat. Anderson was one of few from that era whose material was, well, often quite readable. Anderson combined quantity with range, publishing many works in multiple genres.

(4) SHAT TO THE FUTURE. Grand Valley State anthropologist Deana Weibel finds Shat’s experience of space different and profound. “Black ugliness and the covering of blue: William Shatner’s suborbital flight to ‘death’”.

… Among the astronauts I’ve interviewed as a cultural anthropologist studying religious aspects of space exploration, most have had some experience of the Overview Effect, but others were unaffected. An astronaut I’ll call “Alan,” for instance, told me, “The first time I looked out at the Earth from space… I even intentionally paused and kind of collected myself and meditated a little bit to kind of clear my head before I opened my eyes and looked out the window for the first time. And I didn’t really feel anything. It’s kind of a letdown. There was nothing. And maybe it’s because I’m not a spiritual person, that’s quite possible…It was a beautiful sight and a unique vantage point, but there was nothing about it that I felt in any way unlocked any kind of philosophical mysteries or spiritual mysteries.”

For others, the experience is life-changing, with the realization of the Earth’s delicacy inspiring environmentalism, such as in the cases of astronauts José Hernández, Scott Kelly, Mary Cleave, and many of their peers. Like them, Shatner clearly experienced the Overview Effect even during his very short suborbital flight above the Kármán line. In his now-famous post-flight conversation with Jeff Bezos, broadcast live and unfiltered, for instance, he described the fragility of the planet, saying, “This air which is keeping us alive is thinner than your skin. It’s a sliver. It’s immeasurably small when you think in terms of the universe. It’s negligible, this air… It’s so thin.”…

(5) BUTLER BOOK DISCUSSION. Join the South Pasadena Library’s in-person discussion of Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler on October 21.

The Library’s Citywide reading program, One City One Story, winds up with two librarian-led discussions of our 2021 title, Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler. Borrow the ebook, eaudiobook, or a hard copy from the Library. This Thursday, October 21 at 7PM, join us for the in-person book discussion in the Library Community Room at 1115 El Centro Street.  Masks are required.

There will also be a virtual discussion over Zoom on November 10. Register on their Eventbrite page.

(6) YOU CAN CALL ME RAY. NASA has picked the next telescope it will deploy: “NASA Selects Gamma-ray Telescope to Chart Milky Way Evolution”.

NASA has selected a new space telescope proposal that will study the recent history of star birth, star death, and the formation of chemical elements in the Milky Way. The gamma-ray telescope, called the Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI)is expected to launch in 2025 as NASA’s latest small astrophysics mission.

NASA’s Astrophysics Explorers Program received 18 telescope proposals in 2019 and selected four for mission concept studies. After detailed review of these studies by a panel of scientists and engineers, NASA selected COSI to continue into development.

…COSI will study gamma rays from radioactive atoms produced when massive stars exploded to map where chemical elements were formed in the Milky Way. The mission will also probe the mysterious origin of our galaxy’s positrons, also known as antielectrons – subatomic particles that have the same mass as an electron but a positive charge. 

COSI’s principal investigator is John Tomsick at the University of California, Berkeley. The mission will cost approximately $145 million, not including launch costs. NASA will select a launch provider later….

(7) PAIZO UNIONIZING UPDATE. “Paizo Freelancers Support Union” – details at Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG News.

Jason Tondro, senior developer for Pathfinder and Starfinder, has indicated that a large swathe of Paizo freelancers have stopped work in support of the recently formed union by Paizo employees.

Initially the freelance group had a range of demands, but in light of the new union, they have put forward one single new demand instead: to recognize the union.

Tondro’s message begins:

Today I want to shine a spotlight on UPW’s secret weapon: freelancers. Paizo’s freelancers are our ally in this fight and we’re helping each other. Here’s how:

Paizo’s business model is built on freelancers. Very few of the words in our publications are written in-house by full time employees on the clock. Instead, we outline projects, hire freelancers to execute those outlines, and develop and edit those manuscripts.

This allows a relatively small number of people (about 35, including art directors, editors, designers, developers, and more) to produce, well, everything. Have you seen our publication schedule lately? It’s LONG. And Paizo must publish new books to pay its bills.

Well, about a month ago, about 40 of Paizo’s most reliable, prolific, and skilled freelancers simply stopped working. In official parlance, this is called “concerted action.” In layman’s terms, it’s a strike without a union….

(8) EASY LISTENING AND OTHERWISE. Lifehacker recommends these “15 Sci-Fi Podcasts to Listen to When You Need a Break From This Reality”. (Slideshow format.)

…What follows are 15 of the best and most interesting sci-fi podcasts in this reality, representing a wide array of styles and sub-genres: from full-cast productions to stories told by a single narrator, from cyberpunk to adventures with aliens, they’re all the products of talented creators shooting their freaky, whacked-out, forward-looking ideas directly into our brains—via our ears.

Slide 6 praises Twighlight Histories

There are several neat things going on with Twilight Histories, which is a podcast of alternate history stories, or at least stories with a pseudo-historical context (though a handful involve the future and space travel). It’s not an RPG podcast in the sense of something like The Adventure Zone, but the adventures are all narrated in the second person, which can be alienating at first—though it’s a good fit with the old time radio-style narration. The show’s been going on for quite some time, so there are a wide variety of adventures in various lengths to choose from, from ice-age time travel to a 13-part epic involving a war between Rome and the Saxons. The host, Jordan Harbour, is a trained archaeologist, so expect particular passion and verisimilitude in the historical worldbuilding.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 2004 – Seventeen years on this evening, the first half of Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars as written by Rockne S. O’Bannon and David Kemper and directed by Brian Henson first aired on the Sci-Fi Channel.  It was the rare case where a series got a chance to have proper send-off as it had been cancelled two years earlier on a cliffhanger. This finale happened after a change in ownership for the Sci-Fi Channel. It has since been released on DVD with the US version having both segments edited into a single three-hour movie. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a most excellent ninety-two percent rating. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 18, 1927 George C. Scott. A number of genre roles including his first, General Buck Turgidson, in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Next up is Dr. Jake Terrell in The Day of the Dolphins followed by being The Beast in Beauty and the Beast. He was John Russell in a tasty bit of horror, The Changeling, and John Rainbird in Stephen King’s Firestarter. Of course you know he played Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.  And I’m going to include his being in The Murders in the Rue Morgue as C. Auguste Dupin as at least genre adjacent. (Died 1999.)
  • Born October 18, 1935 Peter Boyle. The monster in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein. He won an Emmy Award for a guest-starring role on The X-Files episode, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”. He also played Bill Church Sr. in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.  One of his final roles was in the “Rosewell” episode of Tripping the Rift.  (Died 2006.)
  • Born October 18, 1938 Dawn Wells. Mary Ann Summers on Gilligan’s Island which y’all decided several years ago was genre. She and Tina Louise were the last surviving regular cast members from that series as of two years ago, so Tina  who is eighty-seven years old is now the last surviving member. Summers had genre one-offs on The InvadersWild Wild West, Fantasy Island  and Alf. She reprised her role on the animated Gilligan’s Planet and, I kid you not, The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island. I think I’ll shudder at the thought of the last film. (Died 2020.)
  • Born October 18, 1944 Katherine Kurtz, 77. Known for the Deryni series which started with Deryni Rising in 1970, and the most recent, The King’s Deryni, the final volume of The Childe Morgan Trilogy, was published several years back. As medieval historical fantasy goes, they’re damn great. Her only Award is a Balrog for her Camber the Heretic novel.
  • Born October 18, 1947 Joe Morton, 74. Best remembered as Henry Deacon on Eureka in which he appeared in all but one of the seventy-seven episodes. He has other genre appearances including in Curse of the Pink Panther as Charlie, The Brother from Another Planet as The Brother, Terminator 2: Judgment Day as Dr. Miles Bennett Dyson, The Walking Dead as Sergeant Barkley, and in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Zack Snyder’s Justice League as Silas Stone, head of S.T.A.R. Labs and father of Victor Stone aka Cyborg.
  • Born October 18, 1951 Jeff Schalles, 70. Minnesota area fan who’s making the Birthday Honors because he was the camera man for Cats Laughing’s A Long Time Gone: Reunion at Minicon 50 concert DVD. Cats Laughing is a band deep in genre as you can read in the Green Man review here.
  • Born October 18, 1964 Charles Stross, 57. I’ve read a lot of him down the years with I think his best being the rejiggered Merchant Princes series especially the recent trilogy ofnovels. Other favored works include the early Laundry Files novels and both of the Halting State novels though the second makes me cringe.
  • Born October 18, 1968 Lisa Irene Chappell, 53. New Zealand actress here for making a number of appearances on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys after first appearing in the a pre-series film, Hercules and the Circle of Fire. Curiously, according to IMDB, one of her roles was as Melissa Blake, Robert Tapert’s Assistant. Quite meta that.

(11) SETTING THE VISION. In the Washington Post, Jon Paul Brammer says while he’s glad that Superman’s son is now bisexual “why can’t we have completely new LGBTQ characters” instead of being happy when old characters are revealed as being gay. “Bisexual Superman has his critics — and they get some things right”.

… This multiverse business is a convenient way for creators to have their cake and eat it in an entirely different dimension. The workaround surfaces in DC’s Superman, too. Taylor affirmed that the other Kent, the one currently on TV in the CW’s “Superman and Lois,”is still straight. “We can have Jon Kent exploring his identity in the comics as well as Jon Kent learning the secrets of his family on TV,” Taylor said. “They coexist in their own worlds and times, and our fans get to enjoy both simultaneously.” If your company is struggling with the low bar for LGBTQ representation, simply make up a parallel universe in which you clear it.

Whom does this serve? Such technicalities suck the joy out of ostensible breakthroughs for queer fans, and it’s not as though they temper backlash. The Superman news still riled conservatives, whose reaction could be summarized as “It’s Clark Kent, not Clark and Kent!” Traditionalists are invested in Superman and his Superspawn being red-blooded, American heterosexuals, and tinkering with that in any way is a capitulation to the woke mob. My God, what’s next? Will they make him Mexican? Can’t they just have their own heroes?

That last bit, lodged in among all the fearmongering over Supergays and Superbis, is actually a decent point: Why can’t we have completely new LGBTQ characters, and why should we praise DC Comics as brave for a half-measure that, frankly, is long overdue? Why should we keep celebrating the scraps?…

(12) PRIME EXHIBIT. In “Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey: What Happened to The Space Ship?”, Air Mail tells “How 2001: A Space Odyssey’s long-lost lunar lander found its way to L.A.’s new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.”

No one’s really sure how the only remaining model spaceship from 2001: A Space Odyssey ended up in an English garden shed. But its journey to the soon-to-open Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, in Los Angeles, is among Hollywood’s more bizarre lost-and-found stories.

Released 53 years ago, in 1968—a year before the Apollo 11 moon landing—2001 was the second-highest-grossing movie of that year, and its influence can be detected everywhere, from Star Wars and Alien to Gravity and Interstellar, along with myriad lesser science-fiction movies. Steven Spielberg, who donated a wing to the Academy Museum, once called 2001 “the Big Bang” of his filmmaking generation.

… Then, in 2015, appearing out of nowhere like the film’s mysterious black monoliths, one turned up at a movie-memorabilia auction: the spherical, white Aries 1B. It got several minutes of screen time floating toward the moon to Johann Strauss II’s “The Blue Danube” waltz, ferrying passengers who were treated to a liquid-meal service by flight attendants walking upside down in grip shoes and Pan Am uniforms (a company which did not make it to the titular year), and eventually touching down with a plume of exhaust….

(13) THE FINAL SECONDS. Now you know.

(14) LATE WOLFE. Paul Weimer reviews “The Land Across by Gene Wolfe” at Nerds of a Feather. It doesn’t get a high score, even from a Wolfe aficianado.

…Gene Wolfe novels, especially his late novels, have some things in common, elements you expect, tropes and motifs you are hoping for. Unreliable narrator. Check. Mis-identification or confusing identification of characters in various guises. Check. Land with customs that are strange to a stranger in a strange land. Check. A book that you probably have to re-read to really understand what is happening. Check.

There is much here for the reader, as usual. This is Wolfe’s first and only dive into Kafkaesque fiction, and there is a delight in seeing Wolfe try a new subgenre for the first time. He’s done his research, has done the reading, and Grafton’s situation at first does feel like something out of Kafka….

(15) WILL IT BE A HIT? The story of a monkey on a mission. Marvel’s Hit-Monkey premieres November 17 on Hulu. A minor character in the first episode is voiced by George Takei.

(16) EYELASHES TO DIE FOR. [Item by Daniel Dern.] “I Enjoy Being A Girl” sung by Carol Burnett, Chita Rivera, and Caterina Valente all in costume as Morticia Addams, probably from the Sixties-vintage Gary Moore Show. (And, around 4:30, they bring in an older clip of Boris Karloff not-quite-singing “Chim Chim Cheree.”) [From Steve Dooner’s FB page.]

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Nancy Sauer, Michael J. Walsh, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Preview of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

By Craig Miller: [Reprinted from Facebook with permission. Craig and Genny Dazzo visited the new Museum on September 27.]

In, I believe, 1927, the Academy of Motion Pictures was founded.

In 1929, they decided there should be a museum of motion picture history and memorabilia.

In three days, a little shy of a hundred years later, the Academy Museum will open to the public.

We’re just back from a preview tour of the Museum.

They’ve done a pretty great job of redesigning and remodeling the existing building (the former May Co. Department Store, which I remember my mother taking me to when I was a little kid). And they added what has been dubbed by at least the local press as “The Death Star”, a giant ball of a building housing a 1,000 seat theater.

The theater building wasn’t open for us to tour so I don’t know what else, if anything, is in there besides the big theater. (There’s also a smaller, 280 theater somewhere in the complex. Not sure which building.)

What was open was most of the main building. The fifth floor was closed. Apparently in preparation for the Big Opening Events but the exhibits we toured on the other four floors were pretty swell.

As with all museums, some are special, limited duration exhibits. Others are more-or-less permanent. And a few areas were well marked as a permanent exhibit which would have on-going changes. One such area showcased five different feature films with clips and behind the scenes information, photos, etc. Over time, the films showcased will change. (I’m guessing that’s in part to give a full view of the history of films and part political – “hey, how come you aren’t showing one of our films?” with varying definitions of “our”.) One of the films currently showcased is Citizen Kane. As part of the exhibit, they have the one remaining Rosebud sled (on loan from Steven Spielberg).

The current special exhibit, occupying much of the fourth floor, is on Hayao Miyazaki and his films. Lots of clips being shown on many different screens in the several rooms of the exhibit. Lots of production art, character designs, cels, storyboards, etc. Quite an elaborate exhibit.

I confess I enjoyed that there were quite a number of items on display in the museum or talked about that are from films I worked on or I have some kind of relationship to. An R2-D2 and a C-3PO costume were on display (though an R2 from a more recent period than the one I used to operate). Several things from The Dark Crystal. And in the animation exhibit (different from the special Miyazaki exhibit), there is an animation drawing from Gertie the Dinosaur that’s just a few frames away from one of the Gertie drawings on my office wall.

There’s also what they’re calling an “installation”. It’s basically a round room showing “Behold”, a 26-minute long film created by Ben Burtt. It’s sort of like Disney’s old Circle-Vision 360, in that the images are projected all around you. It’s lots of clips from science fiction films ranging from A Trip to the Moon to Star Wars and more recent films. It’s shown sort of as a triptych (though occasionally a “quadtych”) with related and counterpoint scenes playing all at once. It was swell. And while there’s a big seating area in the center of the room, I recommend standing by the door. That’s the only way you can see what’s on all sides.

There was also a large and very good exhibit on the 1939 The Wizard of Oz. In addition to all the photos, behind the scenes information, etc. are what was described as a screen-used pair of ruby slippers.

We spent four hours touring the museum and we could have spent a lot more time there. (And will, in future trips.) There are a lot of great exhibits and we just ran out of time and energy.

Pixel Scroll 8/3/21 No One Will Be Watching Us, Why Don’t We Pixel In The Scroll?

(1) NEW CLIMATE IMAGINATION FELLOWSHIPS. ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination has announced a new Climate Imagination Fellowship, which brings together an international team of science fiction authors to craft positive visions of climate futures, grounded in real science and local realities. The inaugural fellows are Libia Brenda, Xia Jia, Hannah Onoguwe, and Vandana Singh. Learn more at climateimagination.org, or check out the full announcement, “Climate Imagination Fellows inspire visions of resilient climate futures”.

The Climate Imagination Fellowship, hosted by the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University, seeks to inspire a wave of narratives about what positive climate futures might look like for communities around the world.

The first four climate fellows are talented sff authors from all around the world “will generate hopeful stories about how collective action, aided by scientific insights, culturally responsive technologies, and revolutions in governance and labor, can help us make progress toward inclusive, sustainable futures.”

Hannah Onoguwe, Xia Jia, Vandana Singh, Libia Brenda. (Photo credits: Greatman Shots and Claudia Ruiz Gustafson.)
  • Libia Brenda is a writer, editor and translator based in Mexico City. She is one of the co-founders of the Cúmulo de Tesla collective, a multidisciplinary working group that promotes dialogue between the arts and sciences, with a special focus on science fiction; and Mexicona: Imagination and Future, a series of Spanish-language conversations about the future and speculative literature from Mexico and other planets. She was the first Mexican woman to be nominated for a Hugo Award for the bilingual and bicultural anthology “A Larger Reality/Una realidad más amplia.”
  • Xia Jia is a speculative fiction author and associate professor of Chinese literature at Xi’an Jiaotong University in Xi’an, a city in the Shaanxi province in northwest China. Seven of her short stories have won the Galaxy Award, China’s most prestigious science fiction award. She has published a fantasy novel, “Odyssey of China Fantasy: On the Road” (2009), and four collections of science fiction stories: “The Demon-Enslaving Flask” (2012), “A Time Beyond Your Reach” (2017), “Xi’an City Is Falling Down” (2018), and “A Summer Beyond Your Reach” (2020), her first collection in English. Her stories have appeared in English translation in Nature and Clarkesworld magazine. 
  • Hannah Onoguwe is a writer of fiction and nonfiction based in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State in southern Nigeria, a region famous for its oil industry. Her short stories have been published in the anthologies “Imagine Africa 500” (2016), from Pan African Publishers, and “Strange Lands Short Stories” (2020), from Flame Tree Press. Her work has appeared in publications including Adanna, The Drum Literary Magazine, Omenana, Brittle Paper, The Stockholm Review and Timeworn Literary Journal. In 2014, “Cupid’s Catapult,” her collection of short stories, was one of 10 manuscripts chosen to kick off the Nigerian Writers Series, an imprint of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA).
  • Vandana Singh is an author of speculative fiction, a professor of physics at Framingham State University and an interdisciplinary researcher on the climate crisis. She is the author of two short story collections, “The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories” (2014) and “Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories” (2018), the second of which was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award. Her short fiction has been widely published, including the short story “Widdam,” part of the interdisciplinary climate-themed collection “A Year Without a Winter” (2019). She was born and brought up in New Delhi and now lives near Boston.

Each fellow will write an original piece of short climate fiction, building on local opportunities, challenges, resources and complexities, and drawing on conversations with experts in a variety of fields, ranging from climate science to sociology to energy systems to biodiversity. They will also write a set of shorter “flash-fiction” pieces. These pieces of short fiction will be collected, along with essays, interviews, art and interactive activities, in a Climate Action Almanac, to be published in 2022.

(2) YOUNG PEOPLE READ OLD SFF. James Davis Nicoll is having the young people read old Hugo finalists. And now it is Niven’s turn in the barrel. “Neutron Star”.

“Neutron Star” or at least the collection of which it is the title story enjoys the distinction of being the piece most likely to entice new readers to read more Niven. To quote:

“It seemed to (Spike McPhee) that he should suggest to readers that they try a different Niven book first, as an introduction to Known Space. He tried out his theory: Of a sample set of about 60 or so readers, he got them to first try the Neutron Star collection before attempting Ringworld. Doing so improved the sample set’s desire to continue on to other Known Space books?—?from one-third to approximately two-thirds.”

It certainly worked for me: having encountered the collection, I hoovered up every other Niven work I could find in the mid-1970s. However, if there is one thing this series has taught me in the last five years, it is that material that appealed to people half a century ago does not appeal to young people today. Will this be the exception? 

Oh, you sweet summer child….

(3) WORLDCON MASQUERADE SIGNUPS. DisCon III is taking registrations for both the Virtual and In-Person Worldcon Masquerades. Click on the link for full details: Masquerade.

Virtual Dates

  • Online registration for the Virtual Masquerade is OPEN now. Register here.
  • Online registration for the Virtual Masquerade CLOSES: 11:59 PM EDT on Wednesday, September 1, 2021
  • Videos must be SUBMITTED BY: September 1, 2021 via the addresses on the registration forms.

In Person Dates

  • Online registration for the in person Masquerade OPENS: July 1, 2021. Register here.
  • Online registration for the Masquerade CLOSES: 11:59 PM EDT on Wednesday,  December 15 , 2021
  • In-person registration OPENS: 3 PM on Wednesday, December 15, 2021
  • In-person registration CLOSES: Noon on Friday, December 17, 2021

(4) SPACE: THE VINYL FRONTIER. Arun Shastri looks at the reason why some products look familiar: “Read Before Assembly: The Influence Of Sci-Fi On Technology And Design” at Forbes.

In 1966 a television series called “Star Trek” introduced the communicator, a device Captain Kirk flips open to talk to his crew remotely.

Decades later, in the mid-1990s, Motorola released its StarTAC model phone—credited as the first flip phone and clearly inspired by the communicator device from the science fiction series.

… Sci-fi writers have been instrumental in imagining our present and our future—so much so that large tech firms have sponsored lecture series where fiction writers give talks to employees and commissioned “design fiction” projects to develop more sophisticated products and experiences.

For instance, Arizona State University has founded the Center for Science and the Imagination, whose goal is to ignite collective imagination for a better future. The Center created Project Hieroglyph, a web-based project that provides “a space for writers, scientists, artists and engineers to collaborate on creative, ambitious visions of our near future”—and presumably also to steer us away from dystopian futures worsened by irresponsible technology use.

(5) CLOTHES CIRCUIT TELEVISION. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] Lisa Hayes found the VHS video tape buried in one of my boxes that had the ConAdian 1994 Worldcon Masquerade video on it, digitized it, and I’ve uploaded it to the Worldcon Events YouTube channel.

Unfortunately, the last part of the credits didn’t make it onto the 2 hour VHS tape. Also, due to YouTube copyright reasons, there is at least one entry that has its sound muted.

(6) SPECIAL BOOKS WILL COMMEMORATE MUSEUM OPENING. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will publish three debut catalogs on the work of legendary moviemakers Hayao Miyazaki , Spike Lee, and Pedro Almodóvar, whose careers will be celebrated when the museum opens its inaugural exhibitions to the public on September 30, 2021.

Bill Kramer, Director and President of the Academy Museum, said, “These first Academy Museum publications are a lasting record of our extraordinary inaugural exhibitions and our dynamic collaborations with Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli and filmmakers Spike Lee and Pedro Almodóvar. Like the exhibitions, these catalogs will bring readers closer to the filmography, art, influences, and careers of these remarkable artists.”

…The richly illustrated catalogue Hayao Miyazaki is published in partnership with Studio Ghibli. It will be available through the Academy Museum Store on September 7, 2021. Marking the museum’s eponymous inaugural temporary exhibition, the publication features hundreds of original production materials, including artworks never seen outside of Studio Ghibli’s archives in Japan. The 288-page hardcover book illuminates Miyazaki’s creative process and animation techniques through imageboards, character designs, storyboards, layouts, backgrounds, and production cels from his early career through all 11 of his feature films, including My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Princess Mononoke (1997), Spirited Away (2001), and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). The bookfeatures a foreword by producer and Studio Ghibli cofounder Toshio Suzuki along with texts by Pixar Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter, Cologne-based journalist and film critic Daniel Kothenschulte, and Academy Museum Exhibitions Curator Jessica Niebel. Hayao Miyazaki is designed by Jessica Fleischmann/Still Room and copublished with DelMonico Books.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1973 – Forty-eight years ago at Torcon II, Slaughterhouse-Five won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. Other finalists that year were The PeopleSilent Running and Between Time and Timbuktu (also based on a number of works by Vonnegut). The novel it was based on, Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death, had been nominated for a Hugo three years earlier at Heicon ’70. Ursula K. Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness would win that year. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 3, 1904 Clifford Simak. [By Paul Weimer.] I first encountered Clifford Simak in the story whose last four lines haunts me to this day, the tale of a man, his dog and Jupiter: “Desertion”.  From this singular story, I discovered the wealth of his work, the rest of the stories besides Desertion in the City cycle, Way StationThe Goblin Reservation, and a host of short stories. Many things strike me about his work, in reading and re-reading his work: his abiding love of dogs, his aliens, funny, amusing, well drawn and yet sometimes inhumanly incomprehensible. (Not Explaining Everything is a feature, not bug, of Simak’s fiction) And time travel. Not in the traditional sense of a Time Patrol, but much of Simak’s fiction sends his protagonists forward and backward in time, or they’ve found they already HAVE done so, and it did not go well. Pastoral is the other note that Simak’s work evokes for me, the rural midwest setting of many of his stories and novels, his backcountry characters vividly and sometimes a bit tetchily deal with the issues they are faced with.  But there is a fundamental sense of themes of independence and autonomy and being true to oneself that inhabits his fiction, including those last four lines:   

“I can’t go back,” said Towser.
“Nor I,” said Fowler.
“They would turn me back into a dog,” said Towser.  
“And me,” said Fowler, “back into a man.”

(Simak died in 1988.)

  • Born August 3, 1920 P. D. James. Author of The Children of Men which she wrote to answer the question “If there were no future, how would we behave?”. Made into a film which she said she really liked despite it being substantially different than her novel. I like authors who can do that. ISFDB lists her as having done a short story called “Murder, 1986” which they say is genre but I’ve not read it. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 3, 1940 Martin Sheen, 81. So that was who that was! On Babylon 5: The River of Souls, there’s a Soul Hunter but the film originally didn’t credit an actor who turns out to be Sheen. Amazing performance. He’s been in a number of other genre roles but that’s the ones I like most. Though I will single him out for voicing Arthur Square in Flatland: The Movie.
  • Born August 3, 1950 John Landis, 71. He’d make this if all he’d done was An American Werewolf in London, but he was also Director / Producer / Writer of the Twilight Zone movie. And wrote Clue which is the best Tim Curry role ever. And Executive Produced one of the best SF comedies ever, Amazon Women on the Moon. Neat fact: he was the puppeteer for Grover in The Muppet Movie, and he later played Leonard Winsop in The Muppets Take Manhattan
  • Born August 3, 1954 Victor Milán. New Mexico author who specialized in media tie-in fiction. He had work in BattletechForgotten RealmsOutlanders UniverseStar Trek and Dinosaur Lords franchises to name but a few. His universe was The Guardians series. And a lot of stories in the Wild Card Universe. Craig W. Chrissinger has a remembrance here. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 3, 1972 Brigid Brannagh, 49. Also credited as Brigid Brannagh, Brigid Brannah, Brigid Brannaugh, Brigid Walsh, and Brigid Conley Walsh. Need an Irish red headed colleen in a genre role? Well she apparently would do. She shows up in Kindred: The EmbraceAmerican GothicSliders, Enterprise (as a bartender in one episode), RoarTouched by an AngelCharmedEarly EditionAngel (as Virginia Bryce in a recurring role), GrimmSupernatural and she had a run in Runaways in the main role of Stacey Yorkes.
  • Born August 3, 1980 Hannah Simone, 41. She was Mera, the lead, in the film remake of The Greatest American Hero. She was also Leena Param  in The H+ series in which humanity is nearly wiped and addicted to the internet, and host for several seasons of the WCG Ultimate Gamer series.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro — You wouldn’t think Dr. Frankenstein could make this mistake.

(10) HORSEBLEEP. Although the topic has been in the Scroll before, this June 2020 article may still be fresh for a lot of us — The Atlantic looks at how “’My Little Pony’ Fans Confront Their Nazi Problem”.

… For years, this has been the status quo in the world of My Little Pony. In supposed deference to principles of free speech and openness on the internet, the presence of self-described Nazis within a fandom that idolizes compassion-oriented cartoon characters has become a coolly accepted fact. The community has sorted itself largely into two camps: those who think anything goes as long as someone finds it funny, and those who would rather ignore toxic elements than admit that not everything is perfect.

Until now. Following a new wave of Black Lives Matter protests across the United States, the fandom is in an all-out civil war, forced to either confront or deny what it’s let go on for so long. The abrupt reckoning has raised an existential question for internet spaces large and small: If you’ve gone online to live in a fantasy space, can you avoid taking responsibility when the real world finds its way in?…

… Now the real world and Equestria are colliding. Over the past few weeks, some My Little Pony fans have mocked the protests with racist fan art, most of which was posted to Derpibooru,  then massively upvoted by /mlp/ users. One much-discussed image was a pony version of a white-nationalist meme that circulated after the launch of a SpaceX rocket to the International Space Station: a photo of the two white astronauts side by side with a photo of black protesters “rioting.” The artist replaced the black people in the image with cartoon zebras—which are awkwardly coded as African in the real My Little Pony universe, but often referred to on 4chan with a portmanteau of zebra and the N-word. “Beautiful,” one user responded to the image. “Perfect for subtle messaging.”

At the same time, My Little Pony art that was supportive of the Black Lives Matter protests was being hit with hundreds of downvotes—an apparently coordinated action that is against the site’s rules….

(11) FAMILIARS. The Guardian interviews the artist about the project in “Rankin designs covers for Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy”. More covers at the link.

Portraying Marisa Coulter, who has “tortured and killed without regret”, Rankin juxtaposed her with her golden monkey dæmon so that their eyes appear almost superimposed.

He said: “I wanted to create this amalgamation of the dæmon and the person. It’s really trying to embody the darkness of the series.”

The photographer said book covers should be more dramatic: “With classics, there’s a lot of playing safe … because one aesthetic or another might not be liked … What’s great about His Dark Materials is that the publisher and Philip went for the stronger, darker, more mysterious images.”

(12) DEATH WARMED OVER. Ars Technica’s Jennifer Oullette says “Post Mortem is the Norwegian vampire procedural dramedy we need right now”.

… The trailer opens with Live waking up in a hospital. Odd tells her that everyone thought she was dead after her body was found in a field. The responding officers processed the scene and transported her body to the morgue—at which point she woke up on the autopsy table. Officers Judith and Reinert are beside themselves about the mix-up, although Judith adds, “In our defense, you seemed really dead.”

Live soon realizes she isn’t quite herself. There’s the sudden onset of insomnia, and her senses are strangely heightened—so much so that she can hear a person’s pulse. Also, her eyes have changed color to a rich emerald, and she finds that she is significantly stronger. Then there’s her growing thirst for blood, culminating in a shot of Live waking up with her mouth covered in it—hopefully from the local blood bank, but Officer Judith has her suspicions that something stranger is going on. Odd, for his part, is happy to admit that he wishes there were a serial killer on the loose, as at least that would drum up some much-needed business for his funeral home….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Jungle Cruise Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George has, in a spoiler-packed episode, has the producer interrupt the pitch by taking a call from Dwayne Johnson, who says he has to be in every movie with “jungle” in the title and you can’t question Dwayne Johnson because he’ll raise an eyebrow at you!

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Joey Eschrich, Paul Weimer, Jennifer Hawthorne, Kevin Standlee, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]

Pixel Scroll 11/18/20 Am I Overlooking An Elephant?

(1) 55 YEARS AGO TODAY. Cora Buhlert has written an article about Franco-Belgian-Dutch comics for Galactic Journey“[NOVEMBER 18, 1965] HUMOUR, HEROES AND HISTORY: THE COMICS OF FRANCE, BELGIUM AND THE NETHERLANDS”. Cora did a lot of research: “While I read all of those comics as a kid (my Dad worked in the Netherlands and Belgium and while my Dutch was never good enough for novels, comics were no problem), I rarely paid attention to artists and writers nor did I have any idea what was published when and where.” She knows now!

…The comics heart of Europe undoubtedly beats in France and Belgium. For here, comics are considered not disposable entertainment for kids, but a genuine art form. Belgian comics artist Maurice De Bevere, better known as Morris, referred to comics as “the ninth art”.

US comic books only focus on a single character or group. The French-Belgian industry is different, since it focusses on anthology magazines, which contain several different serialised comic strips. The most popular comics are later collected in books known as albums.

Three comic magazines dominate the French-Belgian-Dutch market. The Belgian magazines Spirou (Robbedoes in Flemish) and Tintin (Kuifje in Flemish) and the French magazine Pilote. All three have their own distinct style and voice….

(2) WINDOW ON CHENGDU. At Black Gate Francesco Verso pulls out all the stops for the Chengdu in 2023 Worldcon bid: “Guest Editorial: Let’s Welcome the Future… in China”. A successful Italian sff author, Verso also is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Future Fiction, “a multicultural project, publishing the best SF in translation from 8 languages and more than 20 countries.” He has edited an international SF anthology for the Chinese publisher Guangzhou Blue Ocean Press that was to be distributed to Chinese high schools and universities in 2019.

…Reading Chinese SF gave me a feeling of freshness and cautious optimism; a unique “sense of wonder” permeated many of the stories I read. From climate change to inter-generational scenarios, from android caregivers to futuristic market forces, Big Data and of course the traditional Chinese culture updated to contemporary flavors, the ideas came from a rapidly changing society living them today. To quote Han Song, “You simply need to open a window in China to see a preview of the future.”

The same applies for Science Fiction Conventions. I’ve had the honor and privilege to attend many meetings organized by fandom in collaboration with various institutions (both public and private ones) from Beijing to Chongqing, from Shenzhen to Chengdu.

These conventions are nothing like we’ve seen and experienced in the West.

Thousands of passionate fans, hundreds staff, tens of Special Guests from China and the rest of the world displayed an expertise and enthusiasm which struck me from the very first time, at the 4th International SF Convention of Chengdu in 2017 (see Black Gate‘s report here). During many panels, there were real-time interpreters from Chinese to English and from English to Chinese to help with communication. No guest was left alone and a true sense of community (already strong in all SF conventions) was circulating from morning to night events.

Three years have since passed and I’ve visited China six times to participate in events like the first Asia Pacific SF Convention and the National Chinese SF Convention in Beijing (see Locus Magazine’s report here), the 5th International SF Convention of Chengdu (see Black Gate‘s report here), the opening ceremony of the Fishing Fortress Center of Science Fiction of Chongqing. I can fairly say the following without fear of being proved wrong: No other country can benefit from such a rich past and an innovative present as China.

No other country – from fandom to scholars, from magazine to publishing houses, from conventions to academic meetings – is investing so much energy and passion in Science Fiction as China.

No other country has the level of support – including public sector grants, private institutions funding and fan staff – as China.

That’s an incredible leverage to use for boosting Science Fiction in a highly-populated country that has come to realize that it will shape a relevant part of the future awaiting the whole world.

The committee of the Chengdu bid for the 2023 WorldCon is doing an excellent job to prepare for the event. They are showing the beauty of the city, its many historical traces, such as the Three-Star Piles, the Water Conservancy project of the Qin Dynasty, the poets of the Tang Dynasty and of course the pandas!

(3) SECOND, ER, SIXTH CHANCE. “Academy Museum Gives Debbie Reynolds Her Due as a Costume Conservator” – finally. The New York Times has the story. Tagline: “When the ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ actress was alive, the film academy turned up its nose at her fabled costume collection. Now it has gone to her son with hat in hand.”

… The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences turned her down — five times. Reynolds quoted an uninterested David Geffen in her 2013 memoir as once saying, “Why don’t you just sell that stuff?”

In debt, she finally had no other choice, auctioning Marilyn Monroe’s ivory-pleated halter dress that blew upward in “The Seven Year Itch” for $4.6 million and Audrey Hepburn’s lace Royal Ascot number from “My Fair Lady” for $3.7 million — prices that shocked moviedom’s aristocracy and proved Reynolds had been right. Also sold, in some cases to anonymous overseas collectors, were Charlton Heston’s “Ben-Hur” tunic and cape, the acoustic guitar Julie Andrews strummed in “The Sound of Music” and every hat that Vivien Leigh flaunted in “Gone With the Wind.”

Now, four years after she died at 84, there has been a plot twist in the Debbie Reynolds costume collection saga, one that she would undoubtedly find both maddening and satisfying: The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, set to open on April 30 and costing $482 million, finds itself caring about her collection — at least the part that is left, which includes iconic costumes she wore in movies like “Singin’ in the Rain.” Also remaining are screen garments created for Mary Pickford, Deborah Kerr and Cyd Charisse, as well as rare memorabilia from classics like “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Maltese Falcon.”

… So far, Fisher has agreed to lend the Academy Museum one item from his own collection: a set of seven Bausch and Lomb Baltar lenses used by Gregg Toland, the fabled “Citizen Kane” cinematographer. But Fisher, 62, said more items would come, as long as the Debbie Reynolds Conservation Studio exists on the museum’s lower level next to the Shirley Temple Education Studio.

“My mother was one of the most forgiving people ever,” Fisher said. “She would never want me to hold a grudge just because I have knowledge of all the missed opportunities — how the people running the academy in the past were never willing to step up and support her. She would have wanted me to share these important artifacts with future generations. So, as long as they are properly recognizing my mother for her contribution to this discipline, I agreed to provide access to whatever I have access to.”…

(4) HELPING YOURSELF. Advice from the Milford SF Writers blog: “Launching a book during a pandemic: tips & tricks for doing your own PR/marketing by Tiffani Angus”.

Think beyond the obvious. Sure, you want reviews and other events, but there might be angles that you’re not considering. My book is historical fantasy set in a garden over 400 years. Our list included the usual outlets such as the British Fantasy Society, but we knew we could expand from there. Because the book is historical, we put organisations such as the Historical Novel Society on the list. I also remembered that I used to go to the Garden History Museum in London when I was a student and had a slight correspondence with the director, so I put him and the museum on the list along with National Trust houses near me with inspirational gardens and giftshops in hopes of maybe getting the book on those shelves.

Go local. Smaller towns (and some larger ones) love stories about locals. If your town has a paper, send a press release. If you work in a different town, send one there, too. Writing a release takes some practice, but there is plenty of advice on the ‘net. Small stories about me showed up in the paper where I live and the paper in my work-town, along with a magazine in my work-town. From those, I’ve sold several copies out of the local book shop….

(5) WW84. Lyles Movie Files says mark your calendar: “Wonder Woman 1984 arriving in theaters and HBO Max on December 25”.

Considering the sequel already cost $200 million, Warner Bros. likely expected a massive payday and was hoping to wait out the pandemic so audiences worldwide (specifically domestically) could pay for it.

But with another wave of COVID-19 predicted, the domestic theatrical window seems even more in jeopardy. This will be an interesting development and could signal further changes for delayed 2020 blockbusters like No Time to Die, Black Widow and Fast and Furious 9.

(6) AMY CARPENTER OBIT. Well-liked Pacific Northwest book dealer Amy Carpenter has died Filk Radio reported on Facebook:

Very Sad news. A friend Amy Carpenter, aka Amycat, has passed away. She was a fixture at convention dealer’s rooms selling books as Book Universes. She will be missed.

Many people are leaving warm personal tributes on her FB page.  

The cause of death was not posted. However, just two weeks ago Carpenter wrote on Facebook about a trip to the ER for “what seems to have been a small heart attack.”

(7) COCKROFT OBIT. “The Dice Man author George Cockcroft (aka Luke Rhinehart) dies aged 87”The Guardian pays tribute.

The author of the cult classic novel The Dice Man, in which a bored psychiatrist travels to some very dark places when he lets “the dice decide” his options, has died at the age of 87.

George Powers Cockcroft, who published The Dice Man in 1971 under the pseudonym Luke Rhinehart, died on 6 November, his publishers confirmed to the Guardian.

…The author of 11 books, most recently Invasion, a novel in which furry aliens come to Earth to have fun, Rhinehart remains best known for The Dice Man. Published in 1971, it was seemingly an autobiography, telling of a psychiatrist named Luke Rhinehart who decides to roll a dice each time he has to make a decision.

I knew a guy at LASFS who said he did this for awhile, too.

(8) LONG OBIT. [Item by Steven H Silver.] Artist and author Duncan Long (b.1949) died on December 31, 2016. His death was unreported here at the time.  Long wrote the Spider Worlds trilogy and three other novels. His art appeared on the covers of Asimov’sThe Leading Edge, and the Steven Barnes collection Assassins and Other Stories. He also served as the art director for the revamped Amazing Stories.

(9) MEDIA ANNIVESARY.

1980 — Forty years ago, Ray Bradbury was given the Gandalf Grand Master Award for life achievement in fantasy writing. The Gandalf Award was created and sponsored by Lin Carter and the Swordsmen and Sorcerers’ Guild of America, an association of fantasy writers including John Jakes, Poul Anderson, Fritz Leiber, C. J. Cherryh, Tanith Lee and Roger Zelazny to name but a few of the members. (Much of their work is collected in the Flashing Swords! anthology series.)  J. R. R. Tolkien, recently deceased, was given the first such Award, and the other recipients were Fritz Leiber, L. Sprague de Camp, Andre Norton,  Poul Anderson, Ursula K. Le Guin and C. L. Moore. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 18, 1922 – Edward C. Connor.  Known as “Ecco”.  Took over the Fanewscard from Tucker in the mid-1940s, ran it for a year with Frank Robinson.  Famous for a Post Office (as it then was) adventure with Ecco’s zine S.F. Echo; that and more here.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born November 18, 1923 – Alan Shepard.  First American in Space.  Piloted the Apollo lunar module Antares to the most accurate landing of the Apollo missions.  Hit two golf balls on the Moon.  Moon Shot with Deke Slayton and two journalists.  Two (nonconsecutive) terms as Chief of the Astronaut Office.  Not fiction, but the right stuff.  More here.  (Died 1998) [JH]
  • Born November 18, 1936 – Suzette Elgin.  Founded the SF Poetry Ass’n; its Elgin Awards (one for chapbook, one for full-length, annually) named for her.  Edited Star*Line three years.  SF Poetry Handbook by her, with Mike Allen & Bud Webster helping; an SF Site review here.  A dozen novels, another of shorter stories (“Lo, How an Oak E’er Blooming” was translated into German as Siehe, die Eiche blüht ewig, another time as Und ewig blühet die Eiche, both titles missing the allusion to Es ist ein Ros entsprungen), three dozen poems; many essays in Star*Line and elsewhere.  If SF prose is hard, SF poetry is harder.  Or easier.  Or – let’s go to the next birthday notice.  (Died 2015) [JH]
  • Born November 18, 1946 Alan Dean Foster, 74. There’s fifteen Pip and Flinx novels?!? Well the first five or so were superb. Spellsinger series is tasty too. Can’t say anything about his Stars Wars work as I never got into it. (CE)
  • Born November 18, 1950 Michael Swanwick, 70. I will single out The Iron Dragon’s Daughter and Jack Faust as the novels I remember liking the best. His short fiction is quite excellent, and I see both Apple Books and Kindle have the most excellent Tales of Old Earth collectionwith this lovely cover. (CE)
  • Born November 18, 1950 Eric Pierpoint, 70. I’d say that he’s best known for his role as George Francisco on the Alien Nation franchise. He has also appeared on each of the first four Trek spin-offs. And he’s got a very impressive number of genre one-offs which I’m sure y’all tell me about. (CE)
  • Born November 18, 1952 – Doug Fratz.  Aerosol scientist and fan.  Known for his zine Thrust, later renamed Quantum, then merged with SF Eye. Many reviews there, on SF Site, and in NY Rev SF.  More about him here.  (Died 2016) [JH]
  • Born November 18, 1953 Alan Moore, 67. His best book is Voice of the Fire. Though the first volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is very close. Pity about the film. His worst work? The Lost Girls which is genre in an odd manner. Shudder. I’m also fond of The Ballad of Halo Jones and Swamp Thing as well. (CE) 
  • Born November 18, 1961 Steven Moffat, 59. Showrunner, writer and executive producer of Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes. His first Doctor Who script was for Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death, a charity production that you find on YouTube and I suggest you go watch now.   He also co-wrote The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, a most excellent animated film. He has deservedly won four Hugo Awards. (CE) 
  • Born November 18, 1966 – Madelyn Rosenberg, 54.  A dozen books, plus articles, poetry (this one has butter-shined stars).  Outside our field, here frinstance is an interview with Doc Watson.  “I write because I love telling other people’s stories as well as my own.”  [JH]
  • Born November 18, 1972 – Lisa Olstein, 48.  Four books of poetry and a chapbook The Resemblance of the Enzymes of Grasses to Those of Whales Is a Family Resemblance.  Hayden Carruth Award.  Guggenheim Fellowship.  Pushcart Prize.  Here is “Radio Crackling, Radio Gone”.  [JH]
  • Born November 18, 1981 Maggie Stiefvater, 39. Writer of YA fiction, she currently has three series, The Dreamer trilogy, The Wolves of Mercy Falls, and the quite superb Raven Cycle. With her sister, Kate Hummel, she writes and records a piece of music for each novel she releases. These are released in the form of animated book trailers. (CE) 

(11) HOLIDAY SPECIAL. “C-3PO actor: Original ‘Star Wars’ special was ‘gentle nightmare'” — Anthony Daniels remembers. (There’s video of the interview at the link.)

ANTHONY DANIELS: Here’s the thing, go to YouTube and watch a bit of it, because it’s there. You will be amazed and not in a good way. And go to the back end of it, the end. That’s when myself and Carrie and Mark and Harrison came on. That’s the Star– that’s the real Star Wars. But go through some of the other bits, and you will be astounded that the producers were brave enough to use the title “Holiday Special” because it’s normally– it sets off sirens and heart attacks.

Such a weird experience that you had to laugh at it. And it’s in my book “I am C-3PO– The Inside Story,” where I talk about, in fact, I detail what it was like on the set with these Wookiees, basically treading on things because they couldn’t see in the dark and the dry ice, and how I was only there for three or four days. And I just laughed and laughed as we drove away from the studio because it had been a kind of very gentle nightmare.

(12) THE KERFUFFLE YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT. A little like Macy’s Santa in that movie, KTLA tells people to watch their PBS stations for these: “Charlie Brown holiday specials return to free TV after uproar; here’s how to watch”.

…Last month, Apple TV+ became the new home to the beloved Peanuts holiday specials. That sparked an outcry from viewers who were accustomed to annually tuning in on network TV. Apple offered each special to stream for free for a handful of days, but that didn’t stop online petitions from gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures.

On Wednesday, Apple bowed to the backlash, announcing it had teamed up with PBS for ad-free broadcasts of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” (on Nov. 22) and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (on Dec. 13).

Both specials will also be available for free during three-day windows on Apple TV+ (Nov. 25-27 for “Thanksgiving” and Dec. 11-13 for “Christmas.”) For subscribers, the specials will be available beginning Nov. 18 and Dec. 4, respectively.

(13) INCIPIENT MOTHERHOOD. We first met her singing about Ray Bradbury. Now — “Rachel Bloom Shares Footage of Herself Singing ‘Space Jam’ — While Giving Birth to Her Daughter” reports People.

During an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers this week, the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend star, 33, shared footage from her delivery room when she gave birth to her daughter in late March with husband Dan Gregor. In the video, Bloom sings the lyrics to “Space Jam” (by the Quad City DJ’s for the 1996 movie of the same name) while laying on her hospital bed.

“You know, I was making a labor playlist, and I was like, ‘What’s going to make me happy? And what’s going to make my vagina muscles wanna push a baby out?’ There was only one answer,” she joked to Meyers.

(14) TIL DEATH. Yahoo! Entertainment shares details about how “Jamie Lee Curtis officiated wedding of ‘Halloween’ superfan moments before his death”. (Curtis also discussed it on The Talk.)

Jamie Lee Curtis made a terminally ill fan’s dream come true.

The actress virtually officiated the wedding of 29-year-old Anthony Woodle and his girlfriend, Emilee, one hour before he passed away. Woodle, a horror movie fanatic who loved the Halloween franchise and holiday, was diagnosed with stage IV esophageal cancer last year. Emilie opened up about her late husband’s final moments to Charleston’s The Post and Courier.

Woodle, an aspiring director, was diagnosed with cancer on Halloween 2019, three years after proposing to Emilee on his favorite holiday. As his condition worsened over the last year, Woodle got connected to Curtis through Rough House Productions, the local South Carolina based production company reviving the Halloween franchise. They talked about the new movie, his health and how he planned to get married soon. Curtis said that she’s ordained and offered to officiate their wedding, per the paper. Arrangements were made for Sept. 13.

On the day of the ceremony, Woodle turned for the worse. Curtis got on the phone and Woodle’s family gathered around. He was unconscious in bed with Emilee by his side. The actress expressed joy, sadness and said she felt honored as she began the ceremony at 10:30 p.m.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. in “Honest Game Trailers: Plasmophobia” on YouTube, Fandom Games says that Plasmophbia lets you pretend to be a ghost hunter from a cheap cable series of 20 years ago and thrill to having a ghost take you over and make your body act “like a baby who’s failed depth perception.”

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

Pixel Scroll 10/31/19 The World of Scroll-A

(1) CUTTING CAPERS. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures picked a highly suitable day to announce they have added an important item to their collection.

(2) KNIVES OUT AT JPL. No gourd is safe when “NASA-JPL Holds Its Annual Pumpkin-Carving Contest”.

In a dark conference room, a pumpkin gently landed on the Moon, its retrorockets smoldering, while across the room, a flying saucer pumpkin hovered above Area 51 as a pumpkin alien wreaked havoc.

Suffice to say that when the scientists and engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, compete in a pumpkin-carving contest, the solar system’s the limit. Now in its ninth year, the contest gives teams only one hour to carve (off the clock, on their lunch break), though they can prepare non-pumpkin materials – like backgrounds, sound effects and motorized parts – ahead of time….

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to devour Cthulhu with World Horror Grandmaster Ramsey Campbell – serving is in progress in Episode 108 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Ramsey published his H. P. Lovecraft-inspired first book of stories The Inhabitant of the Lake and Less Welcome Tenants in 1964 when he was only 18, and hasn’t stopped since. He’s a two-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award, a four-time winner of the World Fantasy Award, and a TWELVE-time winner of the British Fantasy Award. He’s also received lifetime achievement World Fantasy and Bram Stoker Awards, and was named a World Horror Grandmaster. Previous guest of the podcast T. E. D. Klein called his collection Demons by Daylight “perhaps the most important book of horror fiction since Lovecraft’s The Outsider and Others.” High praise indeed!

We got together on the final day of Worldcon, long after the 4:30 p.m. closing ceremonies had ended. So instead of traipsing around to the usual dead dog parties, we had dinner at Rosa Madre, which I found via Eater’s list of the 38 Essential Dublin restaurants — where at one point as I looked across the table, it seemed as if he was nibbling on Cthulhu! (And sure, I know it was only baby octopus, and not the the Great Old One … but we horror writers like to dream.)

We discussed his early relationship with Arkham House editor and publisher August Derleth, who he might have been had he never discovered H. P. Lovecraft, how this master of unease is able to keep the sense of dread going for the length of a novel (hint: he’s not entirely sure himself), why he loves The Blair Witch Project, what it was like writing novels in the Universal monsters universe, how he felt when The Times listed The Doll That Ate its Mother as one of the silliest titles of 1987, how Twilight Zone editor T. E. D. Klein changed his life, our shared memories of the 1979 World Fantasy Convention, why he feels his attempts to write science fiction have been “clumsy,” the way he was made speechless on his first meeting with J. G. Ballard, why he admires Vladimir Nabokov, and much more.

(4) DO THE POSTER MASH. Space.com points to some free downloads: “‘Galaxy of Horrors!’ NASA Posters Highlight Spooky Alien Planets”.

This Halloween season, NASA wants to open your eyes to the glorious spookiness all around us in the Milky Way galaxy.

The space agency has just released two new “Galaxy of Horrors” posters, which highlight a few of the most bizarre and inhospitable alien planets that scientists have discovered. And NASA created a fun 2-minute video, styled like a trailer for a 1950s horror movie, to promote the posters. 

You can download the posters for free here.

(5) PAST TOMORROWS. Barbara Kiser’s book reviews for Nature touch on Sarah Cole’s study of H.G. Wells, Inventing Tomorrow.

H. G. Wells was, asserts scholar Sarah Cole, a pioneer adept at “rescaling the cosmos and humanity’s place in it”. He straddled the border between science and literature, but not all his complexities were benign: he both repudiated racism and for some time shamefully ascribed to ideas on eugenics. Cole adroitly captures Wells, from his mould-breaking books (such as the 1895 science-fiction classic The Time Machine and 1920 Outline of History) to his unlikely intellectual kinship with subtle modernists such as Virginia Woolf.

(6) GRADE INFLATION. Morning Consult attempts to answer the question: “Rotten Tomatoes Scores Continue to Freshen. What Does This Mean for Movies?”

In recent years, Rotten Tomatoes has been ripe for the picking by movie marketers that want to tout a film’s high critics score from the website in their advertising. But as the Tomatometer’s average score continues to increase, experts are divided on why this is happening and how the industry will harvest Rotten Tomatoes’ ratings going forward.

David A. Gross, a movie consultant that runs Franchise Entertainment Research Inc., found that scores for wide-release films have been fluctuating since 1998’s recorded average of 46. However, averages have been increasing every year since 2014, with this year’s average coming in at 59.3, as of Oct. 28, 1.4 points higher than 2018’s 57.9.

(7) MORE REACTIONS TO SCORSESE, COPPOLA. Michael Ordoña asks “If comic-book movies aren’t emotional and psychological cinema, why are we crying?” in the Los Angeles Times.

… The director of “The Godfather” and “Captain EO” added: “Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”

Andrea Letamendi, associate director of mental health training, intervention and response at UCLA, sees more in the best of these films than these giants of cinema do.

“Superhero films are giving us a way to practice and explore really important emotional processes that we may not be able to examine in our everyday lives. In ‘Endgame,’ the more fantastical, the better, because that gives us the supportive safety net to be open and vulnerable and curious about these things,” she says.

“Not to pat ourselves on the back,” says Christopher Markus, co-writer (with Stephen McFeely) of six MCU movies including the three-hour “Endgame,” “but we snuck an hourlong movie about loss and grief into the [start of the] biggest movie of all time. That’s a lot of people who sat with that issue in their heads for an hour.”

He says of villain Thanos’ cataclysmic action, “We wanted the Snap to be as profound as we could make it. The way to do that was to have all the characters sit with the impact, the unfixability of it, rather than scrambling around. We were interested in seeing what happens to these people whose sole purpose in life is solving problems, faced with a problem they did not solve.”

… Clinical psychologist Letamendi agrees. ”It’s a truly sophisticated portrayal. … How different characters cope with that loss really matters in terms of how we relate to them and how we might relate to our own losses.

“The term for that is ‘parasocial relationships’ — non-delusional emotional connections with fictional characters. I know Tony Stark isn’t real, but I’ve formed a long-lasting relationship with his character, so when we see him go through these difficult changes: the adversity, his self-doubt and, ultimately, his death, this is, in our world, difficult to deal with. The grief, the confusion, sometimes the anger — those feelings are real. I think there’s some value to that.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 31, 1962 First Spaceship On Venus premiered In the Eastern Bloc. It’s a 1960 East German/Polish film based on the 1951 Stanis?aw Lem novel The Astronauts. Lem did not like it at all and ask his name to be removed as he hated the strident politicization of the story. IMDB still lists him as the story source. Mystery Science Theater 3000 would lampoon it in 2008. 
  • October 31, 1964 Doctor Who returned to BBC with the premiere of its second season.  The first arc was titled “Planet of Giants.” William Hartnell Was the First Doctor with three companions present: Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman), Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright) and William Russell (Ian Chesterton). Episodes 3 and 4 are for the most part missing in the Great BBC Purge. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 31, 1923 Arthur W. Saha. A member of the Futurians and First Fandom who was an editor at Wollheim’s DAW Books including editing the Annual World’s Best SF from 1972 to 1990 and Year’s Best Fantasy Stories from 1975 to 1988. And he’s credited with coming up with the term “Trekkie” in 1967. (Died 1999.)
  • Born October 31, 1936 Michael Landon. Tony Rivers inI Was a Teenage Werewolf. (That film made two million on an eighty thousand dollar budget. Nice.) That and playing the lead as Jonathan Smith in Highway to Heaven are I think his only genre roles. (Died 1991.)
  • Born October 31, 1946 Stephen Rea, 73. An extensive genre history including V for Vendetta, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, Underworld Waking, The Werewolf Among Us and Counterpart.
  • Born October 31, 1950 John Candy. Best known in genre circles for playing Barf in Mel Brook’s Spaceballs but he also played Wink Wilkinson in Frank Oz’s  Little Shop of Horrors, Kalishak in Boris and Natasha: The Movie, and was the narrator of the “Blumpoe the Grumpoe Meets Arnold the Cat/Millions of Cats” of Shelley Duvall’s Bedtime Stories. (Died 1994.)
  • Born October 31, 1959 Neal Stephenson, 60. Some years back, one of the local bookstores had an sf book reading group. One of the staff who was a member of that group (as was I) took extreme dislike to The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer. I don’t remember now why but it made re-read that (which was good) and Snow Crash (equally good). My favorite novel by him is The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. 
  • Born October 31, 1961 Peter Jackson, 58. I’m going to confess that I watched and liked the first of the Lord of The Rings films but got no further than that. I was never fond of The Two Towers as a novel so it wasn’t something I wanted to see as a film, and I like The Hobbit just fine as a novel thank you much. Now the Adventures of Tintin is quite nice indeed. 
  • Born October 31, 1979 Erica Cerra, 40. Best known as Deputy Jo Lupo on Eureka, certainly one of the best SF series ever done. She had a brief recurring role as Maya in Battlestar Galactica, plus one-offs in pretty much anything you’d care to mention in roles such as Pretty Girl. 
  • Born October 31, 1993 Letitia Wright,  26. She co-starred in Black Panther playing Shuri, King T’Challa’s sister and princess of Wakanda.  (Yes, she is in both Avengers films.) Before that, she was Anahson in “Face the Raven”, a Twelfth Doctor story, and was in the Black Mirror’s “Black Museum” episode. 
  • Born October 31, 1999 Danielle Russell, 20. She played Hope Mikaelson in The Originals, a spin-off of The Vampire Dairies. In something I’ve never seen before, she went on to portray that character in Legacies, a spin-off of The Originals which makes it a spin-off of a spin-off!  

(10) FAN FICTION BLOSSOMS. The Washington Post’s Avi Selk profiles the horror fan fiction site Nosleep, whose alumni have sold novels and gotten writing gigs on the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House: “Inside the horror website that’s freaking out millions of people”.

…Druga is the top administrator on Nosleep, whose indistinguishable mixture of the real and merely realistic (weighed heavily toward the latter, most likely) has helped it grow into the Internet’s main source of amateur horror stories — with more than 13 million subscribers and hundreds of thousands of posts along the lines of “My neighbor has been mowing his lawn for 12 hours straight” and “My granddad used to come to my room at night wearing a mask. Now I know why.”

(11) MORE JEOPARDY! WRONGNESS. Andrew Porter would hate for you to miss another fabulously bad guess by a Jeopardy! contestant.

Category: Fictional Flags Flying.

Answer: After arriving by submarine, this character claims the South Pole with a black flag baring a gold “N”.

Wrong question: “Who is Bugs Bunny?”

Right question: “Who is Nemo?”

(12) THE DEATH OF FRANCHISES? [Item by Olav Rokne.] Dueling articles in today’s Guardian offer arguments against two major franchises, as Ben Child argues that it’s no longer possible to make a ‘good’ Star Wars movie, and Stuart Heritage proclaims bluntly that Game of Thrones should die. While each of them makes some good points about the flaws that seem to be plaguing the subjects of their respective ire, they might go a little far. 

Ben Child challenges: “Spent force: why is making a good Star Wars film so hard?”  

Star Wars’s directors must feel like the Hollywood equivalent of all those unfortunate Imperial admirals in the original trilogy. One misplaced Rebel fleet and it’s instant death by studio chokehold.

Stuart Heritage says “It’s time for the Game of Thrones universe to die”.  

Television is littered with the corpses of unnecessary spinoffs, from Caprica to AfterMASH, Baywatch Nights to Joey. … At this point, with a tainted brand, an irritated fanbase and a pilot that’s proved a colossal waste of effort,perhaps the sensible thing would be for HBO to ditch Game of Thrones altogether.

Overall, the articles do beg the question: under what circumstances should a franchise be left to die, or at least be abandoned to lie fallow before they can be rediscovered by a new generation? It’s a question that’s worth discussing in an era of nonstop franchise maintenance. 

(13) ION STORM AHEAD CAPTAIN. Nature tells of “A 100-kiloparsec wind feeding the circumgalactic medium of a massive compact galaxy”. From the abstract —

…Theory points to galactic winds as the primary source of the enriched and massive circumgalactic medium3,4,5,6. Winds from compact starbursts have been observed to flow to distances somewhat greater than ten kiloparsecs7,8,9,10, but the circumgalactic medium typically extends beyond a hundred kiloparsecs3,4. Here are observations of the massive but compact galaxy SDSS J211824.06+001729.4 of a 100-kiloparsec wind.

(14) JAVA IN WESTEROS. BBC delves into “Game of Thrones’ coffee cup and 6 other TV and film bloopers”.

Game of Thrones actress Emilia Clarke has revealed who was responsible for the show’s infamous coffee cup scene.

In one episode of the eighth season, eagle-eyed viewers spotted a coffee cup on the table in the great hall, as Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen sat, more appropriately, with goblet in hand.

Now, Clarke has revealed her co-star Conleth Hill, who portrayed master of spies Lord Varys, admitted to being responsible for the error during a pre-awards show party in September.

(15) DEAD PERFECT. Google Nest was holding auditions for its Nest doorbell, you see….

She was born to die to play this role. Obvi. It wasn’t easy, but we found an actual ghost to record spooky, Halloween sounds for the Nest Hello doorbell.

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