Pixel Scroll 2/4/21 It Is Too Late For The Pixels To Vote, The Scroll Has Already Begun

(1) OSCAR CHANCES. “Is Chadwick Boseman Headed for a Posthumous Best-Actor Oscar Win?” asks Vogue. Fans remember him as the Black Panther, King of Wakanda, and there may be other pages still to be added to his memory book:

With rave reviews for his performance as Levee, a blues trumpeter in 1920s Chicago, in the film adaptation of the August Wilson play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom—and now with a Screen Actors Guild nomination to go along with the Golden Globes nod he received on Wednesday—Chadwick Boseman may be inching ahead of his competitors in this year’s Oscars race for best actor.

Many award prognosticators are already predicting that Boseman, who died of cancer in August at the age of 43, could become the third actor—following Peter Finch in Network and Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight—to win a posthumous Oscar for his performance. (At this point, his chief rival appears to be Riz Ahmed, who plays a punk-metal drummer beginning to go deaf in Sound of Metal. Ahmed has won several critics’ awards as well as the best-actor citation from the National Board of Review.)…

(2) MURDER, HE WROTE. Mark Lawrence took a poll. The result, he says, is that “7.4% of you are monsters”.

(3) O TEMPORAO MORES! How the classics are neglected. The Washington Post needed to add this correction to the end of an article today —

Correction: A previous version of this story implied that a planet blows up in “The Empire Strikes Back.” No planets blow up in that particular Star Wars film. This story has been updated.

(From the article “Kroger closes Ralphs, Food 4 Less stores over pandemic pay mandate”.)

(4) ARGUMENT CLINIC. David Gerrold offered a new service on Facebook. This could be the coming thing.

At the suggestion of a friend, I am now charging $50 for 30 minutes of online argument.

Subject must be agreed on beforehand. (I reserve the right to decline.) Sources of data must also be agreed on before. (Fox News and other farce right sources will not be accepted. In return, I will forego CNN, NYT, Huffpost, Washington Post, and MSNBC)

No personal attacks aloud or allowed.

Only one argument per week please.

(5) ALPHABET SOUP IS BLUE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] YInMn has now been approved for commercial use: “Meet YInMn, the First New Blue Pigment in Two Centuries” at Hyperallergic.

Cerulean, azure, navy, royal … Much has been written about the color blue, the first human-made pigment. “Because blue contracts, retreats, it is the color of transcendence, leading us away in pursuit of the infinite,” wrote William Gass in his book On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry. Wassily Kandinsky once mused: “The power of profound meaning is found in blue, and first in its physical movements of retreat from the spectator, of turning in upon its own center […] Blue is the typical heavenly color.”

And now, for the first time in two centuries, a new chemically-made pigment of the celebrated color is available for artists — YInMn Blue. It’s named after its components — Yttrium, Indium, and Manganese — and its luminous, vivid pigment never fades, even if mixed with oil and water.

Like all good discoveries, the new inorganic pigment was identified by coincidence….

(6) THE GAME’S AFOOT. The Guardian covers the many reimaginations of Sherlock Holmes, including a few that are clearly genre, as well as the ongoing conflicts with the litigious Arthur Conan Doyle estate: “’I think I’ve written more Sherlock Holmes than even Conan Doyle’: the ongoing fight to reimagine Holmes”.

…. “My step-grandmother, Dame Jean Conan Doyle, tried hard to stop the world doing what it liked with her father’s fictional characters. In the end she realised this was a fruitless exercise,” says Richard Pooley, director of the Conan Doyle estate and step- great-grandson of the author. “Instead she focused on giving her approval to those Holmes pastiches which were well-written and did not stray too far from Doyle’s characterisation. We have tried to do the same.”

The estate has authorised Horowitz’s sequels and Lane’s stories, but most Holmes adaptations come without the estate’s stamp of approval – not that that appears to put readers off. Pooley says that its approval comes down to the quality of the writing, and if the writer stays “true to Doyle’s depiction of Holmes’s and Watson’s characters” – meaning they don’t mind if Cumberbatch’s Holmes lives in modern London, or if Holmes and Watson are women, as in HBO Asia’s Miss Sherlock….

(7) CREATIVITY BY THE HANDFUL. Another opportunity to hear from Octavia Butler researcher Lynelle George “about how a writer looks, listens, and breathes—how to be in the world.” “A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia E. Butler: A Conversation with Author Lynell George”. Register here.

George will be in conversation with Los Angeles artist Connie Samaras, an avid admirer of Butler’s prose which served as the inspiration for her 2019 project “The Past is Another Planet”, an illustrious depiction of the Huntington Library, home to Butler’s archive. 

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • February 4, 1983 Videodrome premiered. It was written and directed by David Cronenberg, with a cast of James Woods, Sonja Smits, and Debbie Harry. It was the first film by Cronenberg to get Hollywood backing and it bombed earning back only two million dollars of its nearly six million budget. In spite of that, critics and audience goers alike found it to a good film. Today it is considered his best film by many, and it holds a sterling seventy-eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 4, 1889 – Dorothea Faulkner.  Two short stories, half a dozen poems, in If and Slant (there’s a range for you) and like that, under variations of “Rory Faulkner”, “Rory Magill”, “Dorothea M. Faulkner”.  Active in the LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society), serving a term as Secretary, and the Outlanders, also the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n).  Often seen in Now & Then.  With that and Slant you won’t be surprised to hear she attended Loncon I the 15th Worldcon (at age 68) and was made a Knight of St. Fantony.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born February 4, 1915 – Harry Whittington.  For us, one Man from U.N.C.L.E. novel and four novellas, and an essay on Fredric Brown for this collection; outside our field, note first HW’s One Deadly Dawn was published as an Ace Double with Tucker’s Hired Target; HW wrote two hundred novels – fourscore in one twelve-year span – under a score of names; quite possibly King of the Pulps; see here.  (Died 1989) [JH]
  • Born February 4, 1938 – Ted White, age 83.  Perhaps our most been-everywhere-done-everything fan alive.  A dozen novels, thirty shorter stories; assistant editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, then edited Amazing and Fantastic (concurrently!), Stardate; columnist for Algol and Thrust; “Uffish Thots” and “The Trenchant Bludgeon” in SF Review; active beyond measure there, in IzzardNew FrontiersRaucous CaucusRiverside QuarterlyYandro, and indeed File 770.  Interviewed by Schweitzer in SF Voices.  One Hugo (as Best Fanwriter; often a finalist as a pro), three FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards.  Chaired Lunacon 11-13.  Organized FanHistoricon 9 but couldn’t attend.  Variously Pro and Fan Guest of Honor at Bubonicon 4, DeepSouthCon 18, RavenCon 11, Aussiecon Two the 43rd Worldcon.  Also musician and music critic (plays keyboards, saxophone).  British Fantasy Award for Heavy Metal.  Acidulous, enthusiastic, skeptical, strong; it would be a miracle not to think him sometimes wrong.  [JH]
  • Born February 4, 1940 John Schuck, 81. My favorite SF role by him is as the second Draal, Keeper of the Great Machine, on the Babylon 5 series. I know it was only two episodes but it was a fun role. He’s also played the role of Klingon ambassador Kamarag in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  He guest starred in Deep Space Nine as Legate Parn In “The Maquis: Part II”, on Star Trek: Voyager as Chorus #3 in the “Muse” episode, and on Enterprise as Antaak in the “Divergence” and “Affliction” episodes.  Oh, and he was Herman Munster in The Munsters Today.  Now that was a silly role! Did you know his makeup was the Universal International Frankenstein-monster makeup format whose copyright NBCUniversal still owns? (CE) 
  • Born February 4, 1940 George A. Romero. Is horror genre or genre adjacent? Either way, he’s got an impressive listing form the Dead films, I count seven of them, to Knightriders, which is truly genre adjacent at best, and one of my favorites of him, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie. Oh, and he wasn’t quite as ubiquitous as Stan Lee, but he did show up in at least seven of his films. (Died 2017.) (CE) 
  • Born February 4, 1941 Stephen J. Cannell. Creator of The Greatest American Hero. That gets him Birthday Honors. The only other genre series he was involved with was The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage which I never heard of, but you can see the premiere episode here. (Died 2010.) (CE)
  • Born February 4, 1959 Pamelyn Ferdin, 62. She was in the “And the Children Shall Lead” episode of Trek. She’ll show up in The Flying Nun (as two different characters),  voicing a role in The Cat in The Hat short, Night GallerySealab 2020 (another voice acting gig), Shazam! and Project UFO. She’d have a main role in Space Academy, the Jonathan Harris failed series as well. (CE) 
  • Born February 4, 1961 Neal Asher, 60. I’m been reading and enjoying his Polity series since he started it nearly twenty years ago. Listing all of his works here would drive OGH to a nervous tick as I think there’s now close to thirty works in total. I last listened to The Line War and it’s typically filled with a mix of outrageous SF concepts (Dyson spheres in the middle of hundred thousand year construction cycles) and humans who might not be human (Ian Cormac is back again).  (CE)
  • Born February 4, 1962 Thomas Scott Winnett. Locus magazine editorial assistant and reviewer from 1989 to 1994. He worked on Locus looks at books and Books received as well. In addition, he wrote well over a hundred review reviews for Locus. He died of AIDS related pneumonia. (Died 2004.) (CE) 
  • Born February 4, 1968 – Neve Maslakovic, Ph.D., age 53.  From Belgrade to Stanford’s STAR Lab (Space, Telecommunications, And Radioscience) to writing fiction.  Four novels, another due next month.  Likes the Twin Cities winters.  Has read Time and AgainA History of [Greek letter “pi”], Three Men in a Boat, nine by Wodehouse, five by Sayers, a Complete Sherlock HolmesA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.  [JH]
  • Born February 4, 1968 – David Speakman, age 53.  Until recently very active in the N3F, serving as Chair of the Directorate, editor of The Nat’l Fantasy Fan and Tightbeam; two Franson Awards, Kaymar Award, awarded a Life Membership.  As to “recently”, he explains here.  [JH]
  • Born February 4, 1990 – Zach King, age 31.  Actor, author, digital-video illusionist.  Three novels for us.  Two London Film Festival first-place awards.  A video of him apparently flying on a broomstick had two billion views in four days.  “They rejected my application to Hogwarts but I still found a way to be a wizard.”  Does he do it all with mirrors?  Website. [JH]

(10) FANZINE SPOTLIGHT. The newest installment of Cora Buhlert’s Fanzine Spotlight series is a Q&A with Star Trek Quarterly editor Sarah Gulde: “Fanzine Spotlight: Star Trek Quarterly”.

Why did you decide to start your site or zine?

I’ve been a Trekkie since TNG started in 1987, so when Chris Garcia and James Bacon asked me to guest edit an issue of Journey Planet, I did a whole Star Trek-themed issue. I reached out to people I know in the Trek community and asked them to write about how Star Trek had impacted their lives. I ended up receiving some really impactful stories, from a friend who had immigrated to the US finding a family, to another friend finding the courage to come out of the closet, all through Star Trek.

It was a game-changing experience for me to edit other people’s stories. Everyone has a story to tell, but everyone is at a different writing level. Some pieces I didn’t have to touch, while I spent hours editing others. I loved helping people tell their stories, and making sure those stories were heard.

I loved it so much I didn’t want to stop with one issue! After some careful thought, I decided to create my own Star Trek-themed fanzine. Monthly was too much for me to take on by myself, so I went with quarterly. I asked Women At Warp, a feminist Trek podcast, to write a regular column. (Since then I’ve joined the show as a co-host.) I passed out flyers at the big annual convention in Las Vegas soliciting submissions for the first issue. And I posted to various Star Trek Facebook groups looking for more….

(11) SHOCKED, I TELL YOU. Delish reports “This Chocolate Easter Egg Features A Marshmallow Baby Yoda Inside”. Eat Baby Yoda? And the Galerie Candy site is already sold out! What kind of barbarians are at the gates?

…The Mandalorian Egg-Shaped Magic Hot Chocolate Melt from Galerie Candy is very similar to a hot cocoa bomb—but without the hot chocolate mix. Made of milk chocolate, it’s meant to be dissolved in a cup of hot milk to reveal the green Baby Yoda marshmallow inside. While it’s intended use is to make hot chocolate, you can easily eat the Baby Yoda treat as is.

(12) DEEP WATERS. In Two Chairs Talking podcast Episode 45, “Not Waving but Drowning”

David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss talk about the books they’ve been reading lately, ranging in length from novellas to a nine-volume, almost million-word opus written entirely in the form of letters. And a rather damp theme emerges…

(13) LIGHTEN UP. Frostbeard Studio adds a brand new bookish scent every month to its line of Book Lovers’ Soy Candles and Bookish Goods.

Here’s the description of their scented “Through the Wardrobe” candle:

Follow your nose through the woods to a mysterious lamppost where you’ll embark on a magical adventure into wintry realms. You might be cozied up with blankets and a book, but you’ll feel like you’re being whisked away to a snowy, enchanted forest in another world.

(14) GET IN ON THE GROUND FLOOR. Camestros Felapton recommends this adaptation of a comic: “Review: Sweet Home”.

…The monsters feel like a cross between The Thing and Attack on Titan but that weirdness aside, the story gradually drifts into a more conventional zombie-apocalypse survival narrative. The small number of survivors trapped on the ground floor of the Green Home apartment bloc, must find ways to band together to protect themselves from the surrounding nightmare. In later episodes they have to deal with an intruding human gang, as well as the secret agenda of the army which (as per usual) knows more about the plague than they are letting on. Luckily, by this point the viewer is more invested in the fate of the ensemble of characters who range from shop keepers to an improbable combination of people with bad-ass backstories.

(15) SUICIDE SQUAD. [Item by Mike Kennedy.]Warner Bros. has announced the official plot synopsis for Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. Now let the betting begin on who gets Gunned down first. “The Suicide Squad Synopsis Teases a ‘Search and Destroy’ Mission” at CBR.com.

… Some of the DC villains and antiheroes called out in the synopsis include Bloodsport, Peacemaker, Captain Boomerang, Ratcatcher 2, Savant, King Shark, Blackguard, Javelin and “everyone’s favorite psycho, Harley Quinn.” Part of the Suicide Squad’s mission will see them dropped off “on theremote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese.”

(16) CONTRAPTIONS WITH PERSONALITY. These imaginative illos are a lot of fun: “Boris Artzybasheff’s living machines / part one” and  “Boris Artzybasheff’s living machines / part two” at PastPrint.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/13/20 It’s The Pixel To Scroll When You’re Scrolling More Than One

(1) THE VALUE IN EXPERIMENTING. Nino Cipri offers some sff writing pointers. Thread starts here.

(2) BABY FOOD. Beware spoilers – but not spoilage: ‘The Mandalorian’ Season 2: A Baby Yoda food diary”) in the LA Times.

Babies have to eat — and Grogu is no different.

During the second season of “The Mandalorian,” Grogu, long referred to by fans as Baby Yoda, has been shown eating everything from a froglike alien’s eggs to fancy blue cookies. The popular Disney+ series could easily spawn a spinoff called “The Best Thing Baby Yoda Ever Ate.”

As of the seventh episode of Season 2, titled “The Believer,” Baby Yoda remains a captive of Moff Gideon and his Imperial forces. Hopefully, the Empire remembers to feed its prisoners, because Grogu is one hungry baby, if previous episodes are anything to go by.

Until Mando and Baby Yoda are reunited (and hopefully throw a celebratory feast), here’s a look back at everything Baby Yoda has been seen eating during the show so far.

(3) DINO TIMES. The Los Angeles Public Library did an “Interview With an Author: David Gerrold” about his new novel Hella.

How did the novel evolve and change as you wrote and revised it? Are there any characters or scenes that were lost in the process that you wish had made it to the published version?

I had a first draft that sat on my computer for a couple of years. It wasn’t bad, but it needed a polish. And the ending was unsatisfying. I offered it to Betsy Wollheim at DAW. I really admire her. She understands the genre better than most because she grew up in it. Her dad, Donald A. Wollheim, was one of the most underrated movers and shakers in the field. She suggested that I rethink the ending and I came up with a much stronger resolution, one that was a much better payoff. So I have to give her the credit for making Hella a better book.

(4) PRO TIP. In Isaac Asimov’s autobiography In Memory Yet Green he discusses how he continued to write letters in the pages of science fiction magazines even after he became a professional.

I began to enjoy less the writing of letters.  Yet I did write them, and often quarreled with writers who objected to something or other in one of my stories–until I received a letter from the writer Nelson S. Bond (whom I met briefly at the World Convention in 1939, and never again), saying that now that I was a professional, I should stop slugging it out in fan columns.  I took that seriously and from the moment I received that letter, I stopped writing letters to the magazines, except for very occasional ones that did not involve fannish comments.  I have always been grateful to Bond for this word in season.

(5) TWO FIFTHS. Thanks to Jim Henley for this fine example of a File 770 trope – double fifths!

(6) ANOTHER FIVE. Speaking of the magic number, James Davis Nicoll knows “Five Novels About the World After the End of the World”.

While nostalgia has had a place in tabletop roleplaying games ever since the field was old enough to have second editions—remember when tabletop roleplaying game nostalgia was new?—the recent Twilight 2000 Kickstarter is remarkable for the speed at which the project hit its funding goals: just seven minutes, a bit longer than it would take missiles launched from the Soviet Union to reach Britain.

First published in 1984, Twilight 2000 took as its background a mid-1990s Soviet-Chinese conflict that spiraled into a global war when East and West Germany tried to use Soviet distraction to reunify. By 2000 all sides are too exhausted to continue. Most campaigns begin as the war stumbles to a chaotic, exhausted halt.

T:2000 might seem to be an odd game to be nostalgic about. Perhaps it is a reflection of the Jason Mendoza principle: “Anytime I had a problem and I threw a Molotov cocktail, boom! Right away, I had a different problem.” …

(7) CHINA’S COSPLAY RESTRICTIONS. “China cracks down on cleavage at cosplay convention”CNN has the story.

Organizers of Asia’s largest digital entertainment expo — where scantily clad models usually dress up as characters from comic books, movies and video games — say they will levy a fine of $800 on women who reveal “more than two centimeters of cleavage.”

Men are not exempt from the crackdown on exposed flesh.

They will face the same penalty if they wear low-hanging pants or expose their underwear. If models are caught dancing in cages or around a pole they will be fined a whopping $1,600, as will anyone caught striking vulgar poses.

It’s the latest example of what appears to be a government campaign for stricter morality in China.

A New York Times story on December 11 collected other examples in “Two soccer teams showed up to play. One lost because of hair dye” (repeated here by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel):

Under China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, the Communist Party’s creeping interference on the smallest details of Chinese life is being felt more and more. Censors have blurred the bejeweled earlobes of young male pop stars on television and the internet so that, in their mind, the piercings and jewelry don’t set a bad example for boys. Women in costumes at a video game convention were told to raise their necklines.

(8) BATMAN ’66 AND OTHER VINTAGE TV OPINIONS. [Item by Todd Mason.]  From 1966: “At Issue; 65; What’s Happening to Television?” This episode of the monthly series from National Educational Television makes its points, sometimes less tellingly than its creators think it does, but writer Morton Silverstein and some of those interviewed sure get their boots in on Batman, the ABC series, to a remarkable degree. Also, the blithe use of “drama” to refer only to anthology series that don’t have a slant toward one established program category or another beyond that concept. Interesting to those who are students of popular culture and news medium self-justification.

“What’s Happening to Television?” is the topic explored by no fewer than twenty-two top personalities allied to the television industry. This hour program in National Educational Television’s “At Issue” series presents timely and critical observations on daily programs, news, TV ratings, government regulations and the role of advertising. “What’s Happening to Television?” is analyzed by network executives, news commentators, advertising people, writers and critics. They comment on the growth of television, from its infant days to its present giant development, when more than 35 million Americans watch their sets for some 3 hours daily. “What’s Happening to Television?” looks back into TV history, analyzing some of the early successes, commenting on present programs, and giving the viewer a glimpse of next fall’s offerings. Some of the questions discussed include: Will television ever live up to its potential? What is the real purpose? Who determines which programs are dropped? What is the role of the program sponsors? Is the public interest being protected? Is educational television the answer to more worthy programs? What can the viewer do to control the quality of programs coming into the family living room? 

(9) GALANTER OBIT. Star Trek author Dave Galanter (1969-2020) died of cancer on December 12. Galanter has authored (or coauthored with collaborator Greg Brodeur) such Star Trek projects as Voyager: Battle Lines, the Next Generation duology Maximum WarpThe Original Series novels Crisis of Consciousness and Troublesome Minds, and numerous works of short Star Trek fiction.

(10) LE CARRE OBIT. The author of the George Smiley novels has fallen to pneumonia: “John le Carre, who probed murky world of spies, dies at 89” reports the AP News. He died December 12.

“John le Carre has passed at the age of 89. This terrible year has claimed a literary giant and a humanitarian spirit,” tweeted novelist Stephen King. Margaret Atwood said: “Very sorry to hear this. His Smiley novels are key to understanding the mid-20th century.”

…After university, which was interrupted by his father’s bankruptcy, he taught at the prestigious boarding school Eton before joining the foreign service.

Officially a diplomat, he was in fact a “lowly” operative with the domestic intelligence service MI5 —he’d started as a student at Oxford — and then its overseas counterpart MI6, serving in Germany, on the Cold War front line, under the cover of second secretary at the British Embassy.

His first three novels were written while he was a spy, and his employers required him to publish under a pseudonym. He remained “le Carre” for his entire career. He said he chose the name — square in French — simply because he liked the vaguely mysterious, European sound of it….

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • December 13, 2002 — On this date in 2002, Star Trek: Nemesis premiered. It directed by Stuart Baird and produced by Rick Berman from the screenplay by John Logan as developed from the story by John Logan, Rick Berman and Brent Spiner. It was the fourth and final film to feature the Next Generation cast. It received decidedly mixed reviews, was a full-blown box disaster but currently has a decent fifty percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 13, 1909 – Alan Barclay.  Five novels, two dozen shorter stories; essays “Interplanetary Navigation” in New Worlds SF, “The Bow” in SF Adventures.  “The Scapegoat” is in New Worlds SF 105 which has this neato Sydney Jordan cover.  (Died 1991) [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1923 – Faith Jaques.  Six covers, eight interiors for us.  Here is Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator and here is an interior.  Here is “The Flirtation of Two Mice”.  Outside our field I know her for this; and here are some Christmas Waits.  (Died 1997) [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1929 Christopher Plummer, 91. Let’s see… Does Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King count? If not, The Return of the Pink Panther does. That was followed by Starcrash, a space opera I suspect hardly anyone saw which was also the case with Somewhere in Time.  Now Dreamscape was fun and well received.   Skipping now to General Chang in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country. Opinions everyone? I know I’ve mixed feelings on Chang.  I see he’s in Twelve Monkeys which I’m not a fan of and I’ve not seen The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus yet. (CE) 
  • Born December 13, 1940 – Ken Mitchell, age 80.  Co-founded the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild and the S Playwrights Center.  A novel, a shorter story, two covers for us (here is The Tomorrow Connection); six other novels, a dozen plays.  Retired from the Univ. Regina English Department, tours as a cowboy poet.  Order of Canada.  Saskatchewan Order of Merit.  [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1945 – Drew Mendelson, age 75.  Two novels, half a dozen shorter stories.  Maybe Cora Buhlert can explain why “Once I Built a Railroad” was translated as »Einst baute ich eine Eisenbahn« which means Once I built a railroad but Pilgrimage was translated as Die vergessenen Zonen der Stadt which isn’t a bad title for it but doesn’t mean Pilgrimage.  [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1949 R.A. MacAvoy, 71. Winner of the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. I’m very, very fond of her Black Dragon series, Tea with the Black Dragon and Twisting the Rope. The only other thing I’ve read of hers is The Book of Kells so, do tell me about her other works. (CE) 
  • Born December 13, 1954 Tamora Pierce, 66. Her first book series, The Song of the Lioness, took her character Alanna through the trials of training as a knight; it sold very well and was well received by readers. She would win in 2005 the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction, a rare honor indeed. (CE)
  • Born December 13, 1954 Emma Bull, 66. Writer of three of the best genre novels ever, Bone Dance: A Fantasy for TechnophilesFinder: A Novel of The Borderlands and War for The Oaks. Will Shetterly, her husband and author of a lot of really cool genre works, decided to make a trailer which you can download if you want. Just ask me.  She’s also been in in a number of neat bands, one that has genre significance that being Cat Laughing which has Stephen Brust, Adam Stemple, son of Jane Yolen, and John M. Ford either as musicians or lyricists. They came back together after a long hiatus at MiniCon 50. Again just ask me and I’ll make this music available along with that of Flash Girls which she was also in. (CE) 
  • Born December 13, 1960 – José Eduardo Agalusa Alves da Cunha, age 60.  (Agalusa the maternal, Alves da Cunha the paternal surname, Portuguese style.)  Two novels for us: The Society of Reluctant Dreamers just appeared in English, 2019; The Book of Chameleons won the Independent Foreign Fiction prize); a dozen others, shorter stories, plays, poetry, journalism, radio.  Int’l Dublin Literary Award.  [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1969 Tony Curran, 51. Vincent van Gogh in two Eleventh Doctor stories, “Vincent and the Doctor” and “The Pandorica Opens”, the latter as a cameo. He’s had vampire roles in Blade II as Priest and Underworld: Evolution as Markus, and was Lt. Delcourt in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn to name but a few of his myriad genre roles. (CE) 
  • Born December 13, 1978 – Lee Isserow, age 42.  A score of novels, a dozen shorter stories for us; screenwriting; and the terrifying ABAM project, which means – yes – A Book A Month.  Has read not only Breakfast of Champions but The Master and Margarita.  [JH]
  • Born December 13, 1984 Amal El-Mohtar, 36. Canadian editor and writer. Winner of Hugo Awards for Best Short Story for “Seasons of Glass and Iron” at WorldCon 75 and  Best Novella for “This Is How You Lose the Time War” at CoNZealand (with Max Gladstone). (The latter got a BSFA and a Nebula as well.) She’s also garnered a Nebula Award  for “Madeleine“, a World Fantasy Award for “Pockets” and a World Fantasy Award for “Seasons of Glass and Iron”. Impressive. She has edited the fantastic poetry quarterly Goblin Fruit magazine for the past four years. (CE) 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • In The Far Side, it looks like the coroner’s office has already picked up this extra sized decedent.
  • And in another entry of The Far Side, they also walk dogs.

(14) IMAGINARY GIFT SHOP. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Washington Post had a short feature where they asked writers to “dream up the presents that they’d love to parcel out this year but don’t exist.”  Ken Liu says he wants a phone-sized device he can point at tweeters to see whether they are arguing in good faith or just being a troll.  Ted Chiang says he wished the Web had evolved into a subscription-based servie where people paid for sites they visited with money instead of personal data. “A guide to gifts that don’t exist but should”.

(15) THE ANSWER IS BOOKS. Of more practical use, “A gift guide for the fans of science fiction, fantasy and horror books in your life” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Lavie Tidhar in the Washington Post.

It’s that time of the year when the nights grow long, the air grows cold, the festive lights go up and the year’s best books lists are sprouting like mushrooms after the rain. But will any of them help you find that perfect book-gift for your friends who love science fiction, fantasy and horror? If not, we’re here to help….

(16) THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY. Camestros Felapton is highly entertaining with “My new pointless Star Wars theory”.

The issue that had been bugging me was the inconsistent way of travelling between planets. In the films but also in The Mandalorian (less so in cartoons), characters fly in space ships between planets in two ways:

  • Using hyperspace as faster than light travel.
  • Using sub-light speed engines….

But now he has it all figured out!

(17) YES, VIRGINIA, THERE WAS A WRITER NAMED G. K. CHESTERTON? At CrimeReads, Olivia Rutigliano contends “Famed mystery writer G.K. Chesterton proudly, sincerely believed in Santa Claus”.

… Chesterton’s applied his penchant for logic in this article on “Santa Claus.” Along with providing a short history of the figure of Santa Claus in popular culture (particularly his origins, as the gift-wielding St. Nicholas of Bari in Medieval iconography), Chesterton offered a simple proposition: that a child’s ultimately ceasing to believe in Santa Claus, justified by the fact that Santa Claus is not real, is a precursor to that child’s ceasing to believe in God. And this, Chesterton explained, was a terrible phenomenon.

And then he admitted a surprising detail: “I startled some honest Protestants lately by telling them that, though I am (unfortunately) no longer a child, I do most definitely believe in Santa Claus.”

Elaborating on this decidedly ‘hot take,’ Chesterton stressed that he felt it was critical for children to believe in Santa Claus even after Santa Claus has been debunked as a real, flesh-and-blood man, because the Santa Claus that children know is ultimately a caricature of an actual saint; just because, Chesterton argued, he is not real to their eyes does not mean that he is not a genuine, spiritual entity….

(18) FIREFLY CHARACTER AS ILLUSTRATION OF PTSD. “SERENITY and Coping with Trauma” from Cinema Therapy on YouTube.

What happens when you’re kidnapped from your family, tortured, and conditioned into being an assassin? You get River Tam. And also Alan, apparently. Therapist Jonathan Decker and filmmaker Alan Seawright discuss what we can learn about coping with trauma from Summer Glau’s character River in Serenity and Firefly. They break down some of the symptoms of PTSD she exhibits, and some of the things that help her work through them and start healing. Even though most of us don’t live in a sci-fi future with space ships, space zombies, and space cowboys (along with psychics and lots of other fun), we can still learn a thing or two about how to heal from and deal with the trauma we do face in real life.

(19) ZOOMING THROUGH FANHISTORY. Fanac.org is planning a series of Zoom Interactive Fan History Sessions.

For our first session, Rob Hansen is going to give us an historic tour of fannish Holborn, London. Rob is probably the most accomplished fan historian writing these days. As most of you know, he has written the history of British fandom, Then and has put together a number of books covering various aspects of British fandom. Find many of them here. Reserve the date: Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 11AM EDT.

Despite the pandemic, Rob has done video recordings around London, and with historic photos and live description will give us a tour that covers some household fannish names and places. He has worked with Edie [Stern] over the past several months to provide an interesting and fairly detailed coverage of London’s fan heritage. This one-hour session is based on tours which Rob has given to individual fans and also developed as a group tour after the last London Worldcon. Even if you have been on one of these tours, you will find some fresh sights and insights. Of course, Rob will be live on Zoom with additional material and to answer questions.  Please send your RSVP to fanac@fanac.org as our Zoom service is limited to 100 participants.

(20) BEYOND INFINITY. Disney+ dropped a trailer for What if….? an alternate-universe animated series.

(21) MARTIANS AT THE NEW YORK TIMES. [Item by David Goldfarb.] The New York Times puzzle page has a game called “Letter Boxed”, in which you make words out of letters arranged around a square. The idea is to use all the letters with as few words as possible: there is always a two-word solution. The two-word solution for Saturday 12/12 was “Visualizing – Grok”.

(22) EDUCATE YOURSELF. Ursula Vernon ladles out more life experience. Thread starts here.

(23) RUN TO DAYLIGHT. SYFY Wire learned that “Spiders get thrown off spinning webs in zero-G…unless they have light”.

It’s one small step for insects, eight steps for spider-kind.

“Arachnauts” flown to the ISS have revealed their secret backup plan when they can’t use gravity to figure out where they are when spinning their webs. Earth’s gravity is what normally helps them make a web optimal for catching dinner—and position themselves in it. Lamps accidentally placed above the spider experiment showed that when the arachnids lose their orientation in microgravity, they use light to find their way again….  

(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Hulk (2003) Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says that people who watched the 2003 Hulk expecting that Hulk would smash things will be disappointed by the first 45 minutes, which consist of nothing but brooding and that few people will be excited by the scenes where Hulk beats up a Hulkified French poodle.

[Thanks to Jim Henley, David Goldfarb, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Contrarius, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 12/4/20 The Rest Of The File, To Scroll Man, It’s… It’s A Filkbook!

(1) SFPA OFFICER ELECTIONS. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association announced the outcome of its recent elections. Incumbent President, Bryan Thao Worra, was voted in to continue.The new Vice President is Colleen Anderson, and the new Secretary is Brian U. Garrison.

(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. “Chow down on pizza with Ignatz Award-winning Alison Wilgus” in episode 133 of Scott Edelman’s Eating The Fantastic podcast.

Alison Wilgus

Alison Wilgus is a writer and cartoonist who’s been working in comics for more than a decade, and whose latest work is Chronin, a science fiction duology published by Tor. Their first professional gig was as a colorist and staff writer for Cartoon Network’s Codename: Kids Next Door, and since then has been published by Scholastic, Del Rey, DC, Nickelodeon Magazine, Dark Horse, and First Second Books. They’ve also written works of graphic non-fiction, including The Mars Challenge (illustrated by Wyeth Yates) and Flying Machines: How the Wright Brothers Soared (illustrated by Molly Brooks). Alison is also co-host of Graphic Novel TK, a podcast about graphic novel publishing.

We discussed how their life might have gone an entirely different way if not for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, why they describe themselves to people as “a feral nerd,” how an unsolicited pitch on a Post-it note led to selling their first script, what fanfic taught them about writing professionally in other people’s universes, the best way to interact with sensitivity readers, why they’ve retired from Hourly Comics, what would have happened with Odo and Kira if their Deep Space Nine spec script been accepted, the big surprise about the way they made their first sale to Analog, and much more.

(3) HOPE FOR LIBRARIES. Publishers Weekly has learned “Amazon Publishing in Talks to Offer E-books to Public Libraries”.

In what came as a surprise to many librarians and industry observers, a report in The Hill this week revealed that the nonprofit Digital Public Library of America has been in discussions with Amazon Publishing on a potential a deal to make Amazon’s e-book content available in public libraries. And in a call with PW, DPLA officials confirmed that a deal could be done soon.

“I don’t want to get too far out over my skis,” said Michele Kimpton, director of business development and senior strategist for the Digital Public Library of America, when asked to characterize how close a potential deal was to completion. Kimpton told PW that talks with Amazon have been ongoing since spring, adding that the discussions have gone well and that the parties were making “good progress.” And while she expressed hope that Amazon titles could be available to libraries on the DPLA Exchange sometime in early 2021, she also tempered expectations, stressing there were still details to be worked out….

(4) GROGU ENCOURAGES READING. “Baby Yoda stars in new READ® poster and bookmark from the American Library Association”.

Star Wars fans, book lovers, and collectors from around the universe can use their powers to help libraries this holiday season. The Child (a.k.a. Grogu or Baby Yoda), the breakout star of Disney+’s hit series The Mandalorian, is featured in several new must-have products from the American Library Association (ALA), a 501c3 non-profit. All proceeds will fund advocacy, awareness, and accreditation programs for library professionals worldwide.

ALA’s READ® campaign, supported by ALA Graphics, celebrates the joy of reading and the importance of lifelong learning. For more than 30 years, the iconic READ® posters have featured celebrities, musicians, award-winning authors and illustrators, and library advocates who’ve lent their star power to support our nation’s libraries.

Reminiscent of the original Yoda poster ALA Graphics offered in the early 1980s, The Child’s poster and bookmark continue the tradition of previous Star Wars™ READ® collaborations, including with C3PO and R2D2, as well as other timeless characters.

(5) ARECIBO ENDING. “Analyzing Video Footage Of Collapse of Massive Arecibo Telescope” a 13 minute video and analysis.

The collapse was on Tuesday morning, but yesterday the NSF made video of the catastrophic collapse available, and so many viewers asked I continue my long tradition of ‘coping by analyzing failure’ and document what I see in this footage. It’s hard to watch because this magnificent structure has always been part of the world of astronomy for me.

Ars Technica’s text article also explains how the video was obtained: “NSF releases footage from the moment Arecibo’s cables failed”.

The video of that collapse comes from a monitoring system put in place in the wake of the cable failures. Due to the danger of further cable breaks, the NSF had instituted no-go zones around each of the three towers that supported the cables. With no personnel allowed to get close enough to inspect the cables, the staff started monitoring them using daily drone flights, one of which was in progress during the collapse. In addition, a video camera was installed on top of the visitor’s center, which had a clear view of the instrument platform and one of the support towers.

(6) ANSWERS FROM DAW BOOKS. Keystroke Medium hosted a “Behind-the-Scenes Look at Traditional Publishing” with Betsy Wollheim.

What do Patrick Rothfuss, Tad Williams, Mercedes Lackey, C.J. Cherryh, and Nnedi Okorafor all have in common? Besides being A-List fantasy wordcrafters, all were published by DAW Books. Tonight we meet the woman behind one of science fiction and fantasy’s most beloved publishing houses, DAW Books’ President, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief, Betsy Wollheim. Betsy’s here to pull back the curtain on what goes into the traditional publishing process, give you tips on how to get published, and discuss where she thinks the publishing world is headed.

(7) VIDEO GAME DOCUMENTARY PREVIEW. “Chicago was a video game powerhouse in the ’90s. ‘Insert Coin’ looks at the company behind ‘Mortal Kombat’”MSN.com.

…Midway was among the first to use digitized actors — walking, running, punching, all of it — in its games, giving them a simulacrum of reality unique to the time.

“Up until that point, in most games the artwork was hand-drawn,” said Tsui. “Japanese video game development houses back then were huge and had teams of artists drawing beautiful artwork. So what Midway brought in was this ability to digitize actors and get them into the game and make them look really great” — plus it was cheaper and faster than employing artists.

The documentary captures a moment in time when a homogenous workforce prompted nary a second glance in the world of video games, and it is a harbinger of many of the same issues that the industry is still working through today. More on that in a bit.

Tsui remains off-camera throughout the film, but his connection to Midway is personal. After attending Columbia College for film school, he worked at Midway from 1993 to 1999. “They hired me as a video artist. We couldn’t use a blue screen or green screen background to key out the actors, so for every frame of a character we would hand cut them out, pixel by pixel, to keep the image as clean as possible. That was one of my first jobs when I started working there and it was painstaking. But the teams working on a game were so small back then, usually about five people — nowadays it’s hundreds of people — so everybody had to multitask.” he said.

“The amount of hours we worked was just crazy. But it was almost like being in a secret society, where everybody had this passion for what they were working on. So even though we had these long hours, we would work all day for 10 or 12 hours, and then after work we would stay and play games with each other well into the night and then go home, sleep for a bit and rinse and repeat.”

(8) NEWSTEAD OBIT. Automata creator Keith Newstead has died reports The Guardian:

Keith Newstead, who has died aged 64 of cancer, was the UK’s pre-eminent maker of automata – artistic mechanical devices that are built to look like human or animal figures and which give the illusion of acting as if under their own power.

Newstead had a straightforward, even humble relationship with his chosen artform. Although his work drew on a rich tradition of makers of kinetic art from Leonardo da Vinci to Jean Tinguely, he considered himself an entertainer as much as an artist, and was unconcerned with raising the status of automata as sculpture. Instead he wanted, as he put it in 2015, to “bring enjoyment and entertainment to both young and old alike.”

An example of his work is the Gormenghast Castle Automata.

(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 2010 — Ten years ago, Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making wins the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy with Kage Baker’s Hotel Under the Sand coming in second and Sarah Beth Durst’s Ice placing third. Valente’s novel was first published online at her website, so it was the first book to win the Norton award before traditional publication by Feiwel & Friends. It would also win a Nebula. The series would eventually reach five novels. (CE)

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 4, 1886 – Lawrence Stevens.  Seventy covers, two hundred eighty interiors.  Here is the Mar 44 Famous Fantastic Mysteries (note “The Man Who Was Thursday”).  Here is a 1948 interior.  Here is the Jan 49 Super Science.  Here is an interior for “The Eye of Balamok”.  Here is the Jul 52 Amazing.  Outside our field, newspaper cartoonist, designer & illustrator for General Motors.  Knew Conan Doyle in Belgium.  (Died 1960) [JH]
  • Born December 4, 1937 David Bailie, 83. He played Dask in “The Robots of Death,” a Fourth Doctor story, and also appeared in Blake’s 7 as Chevner in the “Project Avalon” story. Also he played the mute pirate Cotton in the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. Intriguingly he shows up in The Creeping Flesh film which starred Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. (CE) 
  • Born December 4, 1945 Karl Edward Wagner. As an editor, he created a three-volume set of Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian fiction restored to its original form as it was originally written by the author.  He is quite likely best known for his invention of the character Kane, the Mystic Swordsman who I think is in as many as thirty novels by Wagner. Anyone here read all of them? Rhetorical question I know as I’m someone here will have. I ask because I don’t think I’ve read more than a few. His Carcosa publishing company issued four volumes of stories by authors of the Golden Age pulp magazines. Anything I left off that folks should know about him? (Died 1994.) (CE) 
  • Born December 4, 1945 – Bill & Dick Glass, age 75.  Of these two too little-known now fans I can tell too little now. Bill’s interior for Double:Bill 13 (thus triple Bill?) was just reprinted in Afterworlds; he had reviews in Delap’sShangri-L’AffairesSF ReviewThrust.  Dick had a graphic-novel treatment of “The Bridge of Khazad-Dûm” (The Fellowship of the Ring Bk. 2 ch. 5) and an essay about doing it in I Palantir, a short story in Nova 3.  [JH]
  • Born December 4, 1949 – Richard Lynch, age 71.  In the famous misspelling of Rick Sneary (rhymes with very; most of us didn’t realize the “Snearyisms” were unintentional, bad health kept him out of school, although brilliant he never learned to spell), a publishing jiant.  RL and wife Nicki Lynch did Chat for their local club in Chattanooga, then won six Best-Fanzine Hugos with their remarkable Mimosa , see here.  Rebel Award for both, Fan Guests of Honor at Rivercon XI, Chattacon XV, DeepSouth Con 40, Conucopia the 7th NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas).  RL edited the Souvenir Book for Bucconeer the 56th Worldcon; he now and then publishes My Back Pages.  [JH]
  • Born December 4, 1951 Mick Garris, 69. Best remembered  for his work in the horror genre. He has worked with Stephen King several times, such as directing Sleepwalkers, written by King and starring Mädchen Amick, and on the Bag of Bones series. Garris was also the co-screenwriter and executive producer of Hocus Pocus, and he’s  the creator of the Masters of Horror series. (CE)
  • Born December 4, 1954 Tony Todd, 66. Let’s see… He was a memorable Kurn in  Next Gen and Deep Space Nine, he plays Ben in Night of the Living Dead, he’s of course the lead character in the Candyman horror trilogy, William Bludworth in the Final Destination film franchise, Cecrops in Xena: Warrion Princess and Gladius on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Those are just selected highlights. He reprises the lead role in the forthcoming Candyman. (CE)
  • Born December 4, 1954 – Sally Kobee, F.N., age 66.  Bookseller and filker.  See here for her and her late husband Larry Smith.  SK & LS chaired World Fantasy Con in 2010, SK chaired in 2016 and also Ohio Valley Filk Fest 4 & 10.  Both were Fan Guests of Honor at Windycon XXVII; elected Fellows of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service).  [JH]
  • Born December 4, 1957 – Kathryn Reiss, age 63.  A dozen novels for us, nine others.  Fulbright Scholar.  American Lib’y Ass’n Best Book for Young Adults award, three YA Lib’y Services Ass’n awards.  Professor of English at my mother’s alma mater, Mills.  [JH]
  • Born December 4, 1957 Lucy Sussex, 63. Fan, reviewer, author, and editor. Born in New Zealand, resident in Australia, she’s been writing SFF ever since attending a Terry Carr-led workshop. And she’s an editor as well having edited several anthologies such as She’s Fantastical, the first collection of Australian women’s speculative fiction. She’s won three Ditmar Awards, an A. Bertram Chandler Award and an Aurealis Award to name some of her awards — impressive indeed!  I’ve not heard of her before now, so I’ve not read her, so who has read her? (CE) 
  • Born December 4, 1974 – Anne Gray, age 46, the Netmouse.  Poet and physicist.  Five years working with Cheryl Morgan on Emerald City.  Chaired ConFusion 30-31 & 35.  Fan Guest of Honor at Apollocon 2008.  Reviews in Subterranean Online.  Born Anne Gay, became Gray with husband Brian Gray, jointly TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegates.  She was Murphy for a while, and seems to have been in Yellow Springs, Ohio, during November 2009; speaking of which, Netmouse, how’s Wellspring?  [JH]
  • Born December 4, 1989 Nafessa Williams, 31. She had only two genre roles but with the first being the revival series of Twin Peaks where she was Jade. The other is what gets her Birthday Honors — She’s Anissa Pierce who is the Thunder superhero on the Black Lightning series. Superb series, great character! (CE) 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side can tell the difference between Frankenstein and Fred Astaire.
  • The New Yorker has a weekly Cartoon Caption Contest. Bruce Arthurs noticed: “This week’s has two dinosaurs (I think?) conversing; one is wearing a rainbow-striped propeller beanie, which reminded me of Ray Nelson’s beanie cartoons in old fanzines.” The cartoon is here.
  • The online webcomic “Could Be Worse” offered their take on paleontology today 

(12) FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE. In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport says NASA sold rights to several companies for mining concessions for the Moon, including one to Lunar Outpost for $1 because NASA believed the company had the capacity to launch mining efforts. “NASA names companies that will mine moon”.

NASA announced Thursday that several companies had won contracts to mine the moon and turn over small samples to the space agency for a small fee. In one case, a company called Lunar Outpost bid $1 for the work, a price NASA jumped at after deciding the Colorado-based robotics firm had the technical ability to deliver.“You’d be surprised at what a dollar can buy you in space,” Mike Gold, NASA’s acting associate administrator for international and interagency relations, said in a call with reporters.

But the modest financial incentives are not the driver of the program. Nor to a large extent is the actual lunar soil. NASA is asking for only small amounts — between 50 and 500 grams (or 1.8 ounces to about 18 ounces). While there would be scientific benefits to the mission, it’s really a technology development program, allowing companies to practice extracting resources from the lunar surface and then selling them.It would also establish a legal precedent that would pave the way for companies to mine celestial bodies in an effort blessed by the U.S. government to help build a sustainable presence on the moon and elsewhere.

To do that, NASA says it needs its astronauts, like the western pioneers, to “live off the land,” using the resources in space instead of hauling them from Earth. The moon, for example, has plenty of water in the form of ice. That’s not only key to sustaining human life, but the hydrogen and oxygen in water could also be used as rocket fuel, making the moon a potential gas station in space that could help explorers reach farther into the solar system….

(13) LEAKAGE. “Leaked reports from Pentagon UFO task force discuss ‘non-human technology,’ mysterious objects”FOX News has the story.

Two classified reports from the Pentagon’s task force used to “detect, analyze and catalog” UFOs have been leaked, both of which include photos of unidentified objects….

The leaked photo, taken off the East Coast of the U.S. by a “pilot’s personal cell phone,” was a part of the 2018 position report, one source told the news outlet. This report discussed what the unidentified silver “cube-shaped” object could be, with a list of possible explanations discussed, including the fact it could be “alien” or “non-human” technology.

The 2020 photo, which has been leaked but is not widely available yet, is described as a triangle with white lights in each corner. This may be the more interesting photo, Nick Pope, a former employee and UFO investigator for Britain’s Ministry of Defense, told Fox News.

“I’m more interested in the fact that this first photo has been leaked, and in the related leaking of information about the Pentagon’s Unidentified Aerial Task Force, where serving intelligence community personnel have shared insights from two intelligence position reports,” Pope said via email. “With my own defense background in this subject, three things stand out. Firstly, the description by one insider of the reports as ‘shocking’ — a word that begs the question what about UAP do these people find shocking. Secondly, the fact that the intelligence reports seem to have been given a surprisingly wide distribution in various intelligence agencies, and thirdly, the fact that the extraterrestrial hypothesis seems genuinely not to have been taken off the table.”

Pope added he expects further leaks, noting he believes there is “a faction within government clearly wants this information to be released to the public.”

(14) NICE TRY. “Man’s Wife Makes Him Sell His PlayStation 5 After Realizing It Wasn’t an Air Purifier” reports Yahoo!

A Taiwanese man was forced to part with his PlayStation 5 last month after his wife discovered that he had lied to her about it being an air purifier, Taiwan News reports.

This heartbreaking story comes courtesy of Jin Wu, who turned out to be the lucky recipient of Sony’s next-gen console. Wu detailed his interaction on Facebook, claiming that one day after agreeing to buy the PlayStation 5 from a reseller in person, he called the individual he believed to be a man on the phone only to hear a woman pick up.

After his brief conversation with the mysterious woman, Wu could ascertain that she didn’t know much about the PS5, but was adamant about selling it, even at a remarkably low price…

(15) LUKE TREETALKER. Tree communication is posited in “The Social Life of Forests”, a New York Times Magazine article.

…Now a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia, Simard, who is 60, has studied webs of root and fungi in the Arctic, temperate and coastal forests of North America for nearly three decades. Her initial inklings about the importance of mycorrhizal networks were prescient, inspiring whole new lines of research that ultimately overturned longstanding misconceptions about forest ecosystems. By analyzing the DNA in root tips and tracing the movement of molecules through underground conduits, Simard has discovered that fungal threads link nearly every tree in a forest — even trees of different species. Carbon, water, nutrients, alarm signals and hormones can pass from tree to tree through these subterranean circuits. Resources tend to flow from the oldest and biggest trees to the youngest and smallest. Chemical alarm signals generated by one tree prepare nearby trees for danger. Seedlings severed from the forest’s underground lifelines are much more likely to die than their networked counterparts. And if a tree is on the brink of death, it sometimes bequeaths a substantial share of its carbon to its neighbors….

(16) PUSS IN MORE THAN JUST BOOTS. Credentials suit up!“Cosplay costumes for cats earn former teacher a living” – video at MSN.com.

(17) SUPERPOSITIONED CREDENTIALS. “Schrödinger’s Cat Explained: Does Schrödinger’s Cat Really Exist?” asks Popular Mechanics.Tagline: “But don’t worry—they’re not going to harm any cats.”

For the first time, scientists believe they might be able to show that Schrödinger’s cat could exist in real life—not just in thought experiments. With larger and larger quantum objects, they say, a superpositioned cat seems inevitable. In the meantime, the scientists only have to figure out what’s preventing superpositioning at all in the largest quantum objects.

This one gets a little wavy gravy, so let’s first go over what Schrödinger’s cat even is. It’s a thought experiment, or what cognitive philosopher Daniel Dennett might call an intuition pump, that leads people to a new understanding of quantum mechanics. First, you put a hypothetical cat in a box. Then you basically flip a coin, and either the cat is killed or not killed inside the box.

The box remains closed and opaque the entire time, and there are no weasely workarounds like listening to the cat or seeing the box move. Is the cat alive or not? Since there’s no possible way to tell, the cat is effectively both alive and dead. Like a quantum particle, it’s superpositioned in two states at once.

From this description, you can see why the idea of a “real” Schrödinger’s cat is so stupefying. If a complex mammal could experience superpositioning, that would unlock far-out ideas like teleportation.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/27/20 Why Did Constantinpixel Get The Works?

(1) BABY TALK. If you’re not watching The Mandalorian but still want all the latest spoileriffic information about Baby Yoda, read this episode recap at Variety “’The Mandalorian’: Ahsoka Tano And Baby Yoda Reveal Their Secrets“. BEWARE SPOILERS. (Was that clear enough?)

“The Mandalorian” teed up the arrival of Ahsoka Tano two episodes ago and judging from the speed and cameo size of the show thus far, viewers would have been forgiven for thinking we might only get a small glimpse of the Jedi this episode. But that thought was immediately sliced in half by two white lightsabers….

(2) PANTS REMOVED. And some Mandalorian news of less import – SYFY Wire says “The Mandalorian has digitally removed the ‘Jeans Guy’ blooper”.

It’s been one week since eagle-eyed viewers discovered an unexpected blooper on The Mandalorian, as a regular-clothed member of the crew was spotted in the background of one of the scenes of the hit Disney+ TV series. 

However, despite “Jeans Guy” quickly becoming a bit of an Internet sensation, the production gaffe — which even appeared in production stills for the series — has since been digitally removed from the episode by the streamer and Lucasfilm…. 

(3) SHE PLAYED HER CARDS RIGHT. The Walter Day Collection presents a Q&A in “Science Fiction Trading Card Spotlight – Betsy Wollheim”.

How did you feel when you first started out at DAW?

It was very difficult working in an office between my mother and my father for ten long years. But I stayed because I loved the work and realized that was what I was meant to do.

(4) LASFS. The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society has named Susan Fox as the winner of the Evans-Freehafer Award for club service – specifically, her work this year facilitating the club’s virtual meetings.

(5) FIRE WHEN READY. David Steffen unleashes a formidable idea in “Universal Transitive Headcanon (UTH): A Metafiction Framework Proposal” at Diabolical Plots. (Philip Jose Farmer will be sorry he missed this.)

I would like to propose some terminology for a particular type of headcanon that can be applied across many media, though centered around actor-based media like movies and TV based on actor-transitivity and character-transitivity: the Universal Transitive Headcanon (UTH). This proposal will be the basis of a series of posts that I intend to write analyzing movies, books, comics, and other media through the UTH.

For those who are not familiar with the term, “headcanon” refers to an unofficial interpretation of a work of fiction, which may or may not have any support in the source material, but which are not part of the official canon as defined by the source material.

…The foundational concepts of the Universal Transitive Headcanon are:

  • Actor-Transitivity: Every character played by a single actor is part of the same continuity. For example, this would dictate that Darth Vader and Mufasa are part of the same character story….

(6) BATMAN HISTORY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “How Batman Changed The World” on Screen Rant is a Batman documentary on YouTube that explains how the best Batman stories, including “Batman:  The Animated Series” and the films of Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan, have room both for strongly realized Batman characters and strongly realized descriptions of Bruce Wayne.  This includes a description of historian Mark Bolderman’s efforts to find Bill Finger’s heirs and get them to successfully sue Warner Brothers for co-creator credit (which first happened on Batman V. Superman:  Dawn Of Justice.” This dropped today.

(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 2005 — Fifteen years ago, China Miéville’s the Iron Council novel would win the Arthur C. Clarke Award besting  Ian McDonald’s River of Gods,  David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, Richard K. Morgan’s Market Forces, Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife and Neal Stephenson’s The System of the World.  It follows Perdido Street Station which also won this Award and The Scar which was nominated for this Award in the Bas-Lag universe series. It would also win the BFA  August Derleth Fantasy Award  for Best Novel and place well in the Hugo Award for Best Novel that year as well. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldrdge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 27, 1935 Verity Lambert. Founding Producer of Doctor Who. (When she was appointed to Who in 1963, she was BBC Television’s only female drama producer, as well as the youngest.) After leaving BBC, she’d oversee the Quatermass series at Thames. She’d return to BBC to Executive Produce three seasons of So Haunt Me, a supernatural series.  She appeared in the fan-made Doctor Who tribute “A Happy Ending” in 2005. (Died 2007.) (CE) 
  • Born November 27, 1951 Melinda M. Snodgrass, 69. She wrote several episodes of Next Generation including “The Measure of a Man” which was nominated for a Prometheus Hall of Fame Award and served as the series’ story editor during its second and third seasons. She also wrote scripts for SlidersStrange LuckBeyond RealityOdyssey 5, Outer Limits and SeaQuest DSV. She’s co-editor and a frequent story contributor to George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series. Of her novels, I like her Queen’s Gambit Declined the best. CE) 
  • Born November 27, 1957 Michael A. Stackpole, 63. Best known for his myriad Star Wars and BattleTech books, but I’m going to single him out for the excellent Once a Hero which was nominated for a Nebula, his Conan the Barbarian novel,  and the two Crown Colonies novels. (CE) 
  • Born November 27, 1961 Samantha Bond, 59. Best known for playing Miss Moneypenny in four James Bond films during the series’ Pierce Brosnan years. Was Mrs Wormwood in three episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the spin-off of Doctor Who, and played Helga in Erik the Viking which written and directed by Terry Jones. (CE)
  • Born November 27, 1963 Fisher Stevens, 57. He’s best remembered as Ben Jabituya in Short Circuit (and renamed Ben Jahveri in the sequel), Chuck Fishman on Early Edition, and Eugene “The Plague” Belford in Hackers. He’s alsomhad roles on The HungerLostThe MentalistMedium and Elementary. (CE) 
  • Born November 27, 1974 Jennifer O’Dell, 46. Her only meaningfu  role to date, genre or otherwise, has been that of Veronica on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World but what a pulp heroine she made there. She’s had some minor roles such on Charmed and Bones, and appearances on films such as Alien Battlefield  and Dr. Laurie Williams on Vampire flick Slayer but nothing major to date. (CE)
  • Born November 27, 1907 – L. Sprague de Camp.  Aeronautical engineer and author; as Fancyclopedia 3 says “not primarily a fan but a very fannish pro”; famous for fantasy often rooted in science; good-natured and playful when he accepted the rules; tireless materialist and debunker, with all that brought.  A hundred books, far more shorter stories, four hundred essays, two hundred reviews, a hundred poems.  Guest of Honor at Tricon the 24th Worldcon (1966) and many SF conventions thereafter, e.g. Balticon 3 &17, Boskone 9, Lunacon 20, LibertyCon 1, 5 & 10.  Forry Award, Pilgrim Award, Int’l Fantasy Award, SFWA Grand Master, World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, Sidewise Award for Life Achievement in Alternative History.  Productive collaborator with e.g. Lin Carter, Robert E. Howard, Fletcher Pratt, Catherine Crook de Camp.  Biographer of Howard and Lovecraft.  Fiction and study guides about Conan the Barbarian.  One Hugo, for his memoir Time and Chance.  The Incomplete Enchanter, see the NESFA Press omnibus.  Tales from Gavagan’s Bar, get the Owlswick ed’n if you can; the Bantam lacks the illustrations; the Kindle I’m told has goofs.  Outside our field notably The Ancient Engineers.  My anecdote here (11th paragraph, but you’ll need the 4th).  (Died 2000) [JH]
  • Born November 27, 1909 – James Agee.  One novelette for us, which he got published in Harper’s; very worthy outside our field, see here.  (Died 1955) [JH]
  • Born November 27, 1916 – Earl Singleton, Sc.D.  His Nepenthe was the first fanzine devoted to poetry.  Journeyed from Boston to Chicon I the 2nd Worldcon (1940) with Art Widner in AW’s car the Skylark of Foo, no small adventure then.  Later great outside our field.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born November 27, 1928 – Josh Kirby.  Three hundred covers, two hundred interiors.  Artbooks Voyage of the AyeguyThe Josh Kirby Poster BookIn the Garden of Unearthly DelightsA Cosmic CornucopiaJosh Kirby’s Discworld Portfolio.  British Fantasy Award for Best Pro Artist.  Here is New Writings in SF 13.  Here is The Jagged Orbit.  Here is A Bad Day for Ali Baba.  Did the Two of Cups for Bruce Pelz’ Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (PDF).  (Died 2001) [JH]
  • Born November 27, 1942 – Marilyn Hacker, 78.  Nat’l Book Award, Barnstone Translation Prize, PEN (Poets, Essaysts, Novelists) Award for Poetry in Translation, Fagles Translation Prize, PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, Lambda Literary Award, Marshall Poetry Prize, Lorde Award, Conners Prize, Masefield Memorial Award, NY Writers Hall of Fame, Amer. Acad. Arts & Letters Literary Award.  Chancellor of the Amer. Acad. Poets.  Edited Quark with Delany; his Babel-17 has chapter epigraphs from her poems.  [JH]
  • Born November 27, 1960 – Lori Wolf.  Hugo Ceremony Manager at LoneStarCon 2 the 55th Worldcon.  Co-chaired ArmadilloCon 15 & 23.  Reviews in Nova Express.  Fan Guest of Honor at Conestoga 6 and much missed.  (Died 2004) [JH]
  • Born November 27, 1974 – Lisa Mangum, 46.  Three novels, four shorter stories, four anthologies.  Lives in Utah, likes trips to Disneyland.  Has read The Secret Lives of Codebreakers (I myself recommend Between Silk and Cyanide), Stephen King’s On WritingThe 2011 Book Blogger’s CookbookLiterature: Unsuccessfully Competing Against Television Since 1953.    [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Pluggers says you are one (a plugger) if this genre idea is your ambition.

(10) LIVE LONG AND OOPS. “B.C.’s ‘nerd’ premier gives Vulcan salute during swearing-in ceremony”CTV News has the story.

Self-described “nerd” John Horgan flashed a Vulcan salute while being sworn in as B.C.’s 36th premier on Thursday, but said the gesture was purely accidental.

Horgan had his hand raised to recite the oaths of allegiance, office and confidentiality with Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin when his fingers slowly formed the salutation made famous by Leonard Nimoy on “Star Trek.”

While speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Horgan acknowledged making the gesture but suggested he did it subconsciously.

“Quite honestly it wasn’t until after it happened that it was brought to my attention,” Horgan said. “I’m a nerd, I can’t help it. I do that a lot.”

The premier stressed that he meant no disrespect giving the salute during a formal ceremony, and that it wasn’t an intentional “signal to geeks everywhere.”

(11) FIAT LUX SKYWALKER. That Anakin has a great holiday gift idea — the Talking Darth Vader Clapper.

This Darth Vader clapper responds and talks each time you clap your lights on or off. Just clap twice to turn you lights on, and he’ll say “The force is strong with this one”, and clap twice again to turn your lights off, and he’ll respond with “You underestimate the power of the dark side”. Just plug your lamp into the bottom of him, and plug him into any wall outlet.

Okay, this is what everybody I know is getting for Christmas!

(12) UFO AIRBNB. Homes & Property brings word of “Spaceship home for sale: extremely rare Futuro house in New Zealand on the market after being in storage for years”.

… Designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in 1968, the Futoro house is one of only 100 ever built.

…Futuro homes were originally intended to be ski cabins that would be easy to built and heat, with the end result being transportable homes that could be dismantled and reassembled in two days — or even airlifted in one piece if required.

(13) PUPPET TIME CAPSULE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Art Carney Meets Peter And The Wolf with The Bil Baird Marionettes” on YouTube is a show originally broadcast on ABC on November 30, 1958, as a puppet-based musical with music by Sergei Prokofiev and lyrics by Ogden Nash.  The video includes 10 minutes of an interview Ed Sullivan did with Walt Disney (and Donald Duck) at the Disney studios in 1953.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Russian space agency has produced its version of the idea “Our sky, if some celestial bodies were closer to us”.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Olav Rokne, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Rich Lynch, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 11/17/20 When You Get Caught Between The Moon And New Scroll City, The Best That You Can Do Is File In Love

(1) VIRTUAL PHILCON. Philcon 2020 will be taking place online the weekend of Friday November 20 through Sunday, November 22, 2020. It’s free. Information about how people can participate and navigate in Philcon using Zoom and Discord can be found at www.philcon.org and at https://konopas.philcon.org/#info

There will be no charge for joining Philcon 2020. It will be necessary to sign up for each program item, which may be done even while the program item is underway  The program schedule is set, subject to changes, and can be reviewed at https://konopas.philcon.org/

There will be five program tracks, a reading track, a filk and music track and social gatherings in Zoom and Discord.

The massive Filk program begins at 11 a.m. Friday. Concerts, open filk and a songwriting contest will run day and night until Sunday night.

The panels, readings and workshops start at 5:30 p.m. Literary panels cover topics for fans and writers. Science and technology, fandom, media, anime, gaming all have substantial coverage.

There are currently plans for 157 program items.

For those of you who knew and loved Hugh Casey, we will be holding a memorial get-together on Saturday at 5:30.

We hope to have an in person Philcon back at the Cherry Hill Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey in 2021. The dates will be November 19 to 21, 2021.

(2) VIRTUAL CONTRAFLOW/DEEPSOUTHCON. Also this coming weekend, on November 21 there will be a free one-day virtual 2020 DSC/SFC CONference put on by the CONtraflow committee.

As most of you already know, we had to postpone our 2020 convention due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While we were able to work out most of those details for a Convention next year, we are not able to postpone an actual Deep South Con. In lieu of what would have been our event this year, we would like to offer to the Fen at the Southern Fandom Confederation a virtual day of the community, creativity, and fun the Fans of the Southern Louisiana region can offer with a small taste of a virtual CONtraflow’s 2020 Deep South Con. We are calling it The 2020 DSC/SFC CONference. 

This one-day event will be completely virtual and totally free and begins at 10 am Saturday November 21.  It is an invitation for you to join us on ZOOM for panels on some of your favorite topics: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Film, TV, SMOF subculture, and much more. 

…We will also be hosting a virtual Southern Fandom Confederation meeting, gaming on the Discord Platform (including the annual DSC Hearts event) and evening programming.  Again, all the events are free- but since it is free, the space/seats are limited.  Interested Fans should be sure to drop us an email at http://www.contraflowscifi.org or find/message us on Facebook to make sure there are seats still available before November 20.  Also, while the event will be free, CONtraflow will be selling 2021 memberships during the day for the absolute lowest price that weekend on Eventbrite.com

We will also have a donation page available for those who’d just like to help out since we have expenses accrued for 2020, even without holding a convention, and the costs of this weekend’s CONference….

(3) CARNEGIE MEDALS SHORTLIST. The six shortlist titles for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence — three each for the fiction and nonfiction medals — were announced on November 17. The winners will be named online on Thursday, February 4, 2021.  

I believe none of these are genre, but you may still be interested.

FICTION FINALISTS

  • A BurningMegha Majumdar (Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC)
  • Deacon King KongJames McBride (Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)
  • Homeland Elegies — Ayad Akhtar (Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.)

NONFICTION FINALISTS

(4) THE BIG PICTURE. Kaaron Warren told Facebook followers her novel The Grief Hole has scored a development grant to be made into a movie. “Imagine Sol Evictus in real life…and all those ghosts.”

It’s one of seven projects to be supported by Screen Canberra.

THE GRIEF HOLE– Fiction Feature Film – Development loan Writers: Joshua Koske, Kaaron Warren When an embattled social worker with the ability to see how people die discovers her cousin’s suicide was influenced by a seductive and powerful celebrity, she must overcome her own personal tragedies and work with other gifted individuals to put a stop to his reign of terror before they become the next in a long line of willing victims.

Two of the other announced projects are also of genre interest:

PARANORMAL BLACKTIVITY Writers: Benny Eggmolesse, Jacob Keed, Nakyua Gorrie, Romina Accurso Producers: Benny Eggmolesse, Joe Weatherstone, Catherine Nabauer and Scott Wilson Development Loan, TV Series (horror) Rival siblings must team up to investigate bloody murders, strange disappearances and super weird stuff they suspect are caused by ancient Aboriginal monsters, woken by an imbalance in the natural world.

GIRL ON THE MOON – Television Series Fiction – Development loan Writers: Georgina Jenkins, Sue McPherson In 2069, Aboriginal Australian girl Luna (17), the only child ever born on the Moon, dreams of travelling to Earth to connect with her unknown father and her culture. But she knows her weak Moonling body would never survive. Luna is about to discover she is more powerful than any Earthling.

(5) CAREER WISDOM. “Questions for: David Burnett” – the former Gollancz publisher — at BookBrunch [PDF file.]

Who has been the most influential person in your career?

There have been a few, including Paul Elek [of Paul Elek Publishers]. He taught me to go out there and find authors and projects and pictures when you have small resources (in his case, it was a crushing bank overdraft). Liz Calder was the greatest. Victor Gollancz was a publishing genius and one man tornado. He could dine on sardines if the going got difficult, otherwise it was the Savoy Grill.

(6) PANIC IN THE YEAR TWO-OH-TWO-ZERO. I usually don’t get my cancel culture news from Mad Genius Club, but here is Amanda S. Green with two scoops concerning The Mandalorian: “A Swab, A Huh? And A You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me”.

…But I do think we will see more pressure from the Left to try to delist our work if it doesn’t meet the cause du jour. We’ve already seen how Target overreacted to a single tweet about a book and removed it from its shelves last week. It’s apologized and, iirc, returned the book. But this knee-jerk reaction to the woke crowd is more than a little disturbing.

The idiocy seems to grow with each week that passes. Just this month, Baby Yoda was “cancelled” by the woke crowd because he dared eat the eggs of a sentient being. How dare this “Child” do that! Bad Baby Yoda.

But that’s not the only scene from The Mandalorian to catch the eye of the woke crowd this month. In a more recent episode, cries of outrage were heard through the interwebz because of a character’s armor. 

Boobz armor is bad according to Anita Sarkeesian.

Why do I think she’d have been outraged if the lady Mando armor was exactly the same as Mando’s was? After all, then they could be accused of trying to erase the female form. 

But, but, but it’s not “real”, as one commenter points out. No shit, Sherlock. It’s a fucking show. It’s fiction. Not that the Sarkeesians of the world care as long as they can show their woke card.

And, yes, they will come for those writers they feel aren’t giving out the right message–especially those more successful than they are. And that presents a danger to all of us. Will the venues we’ve been using to sell our books remain open to us in their current forms or will we have to start tailoring our books to their demands?

(7) VICTORY AT SEA. Harry Turtledove, dubbed “The Master of Alternate History”by Publishers Weekly, has written a number of classics in the subgenre, including How Few Remain, The Guns of the South and The Man with the Iron Heart. His new novel Salamis was released November 11.

Salamis is the fifth (standalone) novel in Harry Turtledove’s critically acclaimed Hellenic Traders universe, detailing the adventures of two cousins, Menedemos and Sostratos, who work as seaborne traders following the death of Alexander the Great. This time the stage is one of the greatest sea battles ever fought in ancient times; the Battle of Salamis of 306 BC.

The small, free, and independent polis of Rhodes is trying to stay neutral between the local great powers, each ruled by one of Alexander the Great’s marshals: Asia Minor, controlled by one-eyed Antigonos, and Egypt, under the rule of Ptolemaios.

As tensions between the great powers escalate, Menedemos and Sostratos are trying to resolve their own problems, oblivious to the fact that one of the greatest navel fleets in ancient history is about to set sail. Ptolemaios, needing shipping to carry weapons for the army he intends to land, coerces Menedemos into bringing their ship, the Aphrodite, along as part of his expeditionary force. And so, very much against their will, Menedemos and Sostratos become small parts of one of the ancient world’s most significant naval battles.

Turtledove uses his study of history (with a Ph.D in Byzantine history) to create alternate worlds in intricate detail, crafting enthralling adventures that have garnered him high critical praise as well as making him one of the most successful bestselling authors in alternate history.

(8) YOUNG AUTHORS’ CLUB. SFFAudio tweeted a graphic of this story by 13-year-old Philip K. Dick published in a Berkeley paper in 1942.

(9) ZACK’S CUT. HBO Max dropped a trailer for what is now called Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 17, 1915 – Raymond F. Jones.  Sixteen novels, six dozen shorter stories.  Son of the Stars was I think the first science fiction I read, at about age 8.  Also I like “The Person from Porlock” – which Groff Conklin, one of our finest anthologists, put in his Treasury, one of our finest anthologies.  RFJ entitled a story “I Tell You Three Times” a year before Heinlein put that Hunting of the Snark allusion in The Rolling Stones.  When I agree with Clute and Nicholls it’s a frabjous day – oops, wrong Carroll poem: RFJ wrote “solid, well-crafted … adventures … in a … transparent style…. one of the carriers of the voice of SF.”  (Died 1994) [JH]
  • Born November 17, 1925 Rock Hudson. Best known genre role was as Col. John Wilder in The Martian Chronicles series off the Ray Bradbury work. He also played President Thomas McKenna in the World War III miniseries which you may or may not consider SF. That’s it. He was by the way yet another of the uncredited guest performers on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. (Died 1985.)  (CE) 
  • Born November 17, 1936 – John Trimble, 84.  He and wife Bjo (the software won’t show the caret over her j, an Esperantism indicating the pronunciation “bee-joe”), two of our great fans, are also omnifans: fanwriting, fanart, clubs, costuming, conventions, Star Trek, our neighbor the Society for Creative Anachronism.  I’ve been Master of Ceremonies for our onstage costume competition the Masquerade, a wondrous and sometimes terrifying task; JT was MC for possibly the greatest, certainly the longest, at L.A.con II the 42nd Worldcon: over a hundred entries: you couldn’t leave, the next one would be even better: two-thirds through, when a voice cried “How many more, John??” he answered I won’t tell you.  I can’t quite remember this panel, but it was fun.  JT chaired Westercon 23 and an Equicon; he & Bjo were Guests of Honor at Westercons 66 & 70, at the 13th NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas; in the photo, JT & BT with daughter Kat), at ConJosé the 60th Worldcon.  More here.  [JH]
  • Born November 17, 1952 Robin McKinley, 68. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast was her first book. It was considered a superb work and was named an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Rose Daughter is another version  of that folktale, whereas Spindle’s End is the story of Sleeping Beauty, and Deerskin and two of the stories that you can find in The Door in the Hedge are based on other folktales. She does a superb telling of the Robin Hood legend in The Outlaws of Sherwood. Among her novels that are not based on folktales are SunshineChalice and Dragonhaven.  Her 1984 The Hero and the Crown won the Newbery Medal as that year’s best new American children’s book. She was married to Peter Dickinson from 1991 to his death in 2015, they lived together in Hampshire, England where she still lives. They co-wrote two splendid collections, Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits and Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits. I’d be very remiss not to note her Awards, to wit a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword, then a Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown, a World Fantasy Award for Anthology/Collection for Imaginary Lands, as editor, a Phoenix Award Honor Book for Beauty and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for Sunshine. Impressive indeed! (CE) 
  • Born November 17, 1954 –Kevin E. Johnson, 66.  A hundred forty covers, a few interiors; one short story.  Here is Gods of Riverworld.  Here is Firebird.  Here is The Toynbee Convector.  Here is Throne of Fools.  Here is Ciara’s Song.  Artist Guest of Honor at RustyCon 2, Valleycon 11.  [JH]
  • Born November 17, 1956 – Rebecca Moesta, 64.  Half a dozen novels, three shorter stories; thirty more novels, half a dozen more shorter stories, two pop-up books, with husband Kevin Anderson.  Interviewed together in SF Chronicle 224, Shimmer 4.  The only continent they have not visited together – yet – is Antarctica.  Devout gadgetologist.  [JH]
  • Born November 17, 1965 Sophie Marceau, 54. Elektra King, the villain opposing our hero In The World Is Not Enough, the 19th Bond Film. Also Eloïse d’Artagnan in Revenge of the Musketeers, Hippolyta in that version of A Midsummer Night’s DreamandLisa / Belphegor in Belphegor, Phantom of the Louvre. She’s also one of the voice actors in Nature is Speaking, a Gaian series. (CE) 
  • Born November 17, 1966 Ed Brubaker, 54. Comic book writer and artist. Sandman Presents: Dead Boy Detectives I’d consider his first genre work. Later work for DC and Marvel included The AuthorityBatmanCaptain AmericaDaredevil, Catwoman and the Uncanny X-Men. If I may single out but one series, it’d be the one he did with writer Greg Rucka which was the Gotham Central series which has been rumored to in developed as a tv series. It’s Gotham largely without Batman but with the villains so GPD has to deal with them by themselves. Grim and well done. He’s a member of the writing staff for the Westworld series where he co-wrote the episode “Dissonance Theory” with Jonathan Nolan. (CE)
  • Born November 17, 1976 – Shawna Yang Ryan, 44.  Four novels for us, one other.  Fulbright scholar.  Ass’n for Asian American Studies Best Book Award in Creative Writing, Elliot Cades Emerging Writer Award, American Book Award.  [JH]
  • Born November 17, 1978 Tom Ellis, 42. Currently playing Lucifer Morningstar in the rather excellent Lucifer series created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg from The Sandman series. It’s quite good. Also had roles in Doctor Who as Tom Milligan in the Ten Doctor story, “Last of the Time Lords”, Once Upon a TimeMessiahThe Strain and Merlin. (CE) 
  • Born November 17, 1983 Christopher Paolini, 37. He is the author of the most excellent Inheritance Cycle, which consists of the books EragonEldestBrisingr, and Inheritance. Several years ago, The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, the first book in a series called Tales of Alagaësia, was published. A film version of the first novel came out sometime ago but I’ve not seen it. And his first SF novel, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, was just published. (CE)
  • Born November 17, 1993 – Andrew Melvin, 27.  Sixteen short stories so far; they are all horrid – I mean, literally – and so collected in Horror Tales; see this cover.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro is there to witness Dracula’s day in court.

(12) URBAN SPACEMAN. Sprudge invites you to “Meet Covidisor, A Practical COVID Helmet That Lets You Drink Coffee”.

…But what the Covidisor has that puts it head and shoulders above the Air is a special swivel-mounted port on the front of the face shield that allows the wearer to consume any beverages via a straw. No longer will you have to make your face available to the outside world in order to enjoy that extra hot no foam latte. At last we can be safe, and caffeinated.

Available in eight different color options for the hard hat, the Covidisor retails for $275. And if you’re not sold on it yet, this snazzy music video by Vedra might change your mind. They’re walking all over a plague-ridden NYC, singing and wearing the Covidisor and just having the time of their life as though everything is fine. Everything is going to be fine…with Covidisor.

(13) SUPERMAN DOCUMENTARY MINI-REVIEW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Amazing Story of Superman on YouTube is a 2006 documentary, directed by Kevin Burns and narrated by Kevin Spacey, about Superman from Siegel and Shuster’s creation through Superman Returns.  It wouldn’t surprise me if this was originally a bonus feature for the Superman Returns DVD, because there’s too much of a hard sell for both that movie and “Smallville” which makes both productions out to be imaginative masterpieces, even though Superman Returns is average and “Smallville” got pretty soapy pretty quickly.  But there’s lots of interesting Superman stuff in it, such as the photos of Superman from the 1939 World’s Fair, ads for Superman Bread from the 1940s, and commercials from around 2004 with Jerry Seinfeld and an animated Superman.  The most interesting discovery is that after George Reeves killed himself in 1959, the people behind the Superman TV show did a pilot for The Adventures of Super Pup with characters in animal suits.  This of course went nowhere.  I still think it’s worth watching provided you know you’re getting a hard sell for about a third of the film.

Forrest J. Ackerman is in it briefly explaining what fanzines are and how Siegel and Shuster got their start in sf fandom.

(14) SPACEX ISS MISSION SUCCESSFUL. “SpaceX capsule with 4 astronauts reaches space station”WDRB has the story.

SpaceX’s newly launched capsule with four astronauts arrived Monday at the International Space Station, their new home until spring.

The Dragon capsule pulled up and docked late Monday night, following a 27-hour, completely automated flight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The linkup occurred 262 miles (422 kilometers) above Idaho.

“Oh, what a good voice to hear,” space station astronaut Kate Rubins called out when the Dragon’s commander, Mike Hopkins, first made radio contact….

(15) WHERE NO GREEN TOY HAS GONE BEFORE. “‘Star Wars’ Fans Notice An Adorable Addition To The New Space Station Crew”Yahoo! News has details.

…Eagle-eyed “Star Wars” fans spotted an adorable addition to the crew that launched into space on Sunday: The Child, better known as Baby Yoda.

The four astronauts onboard used a plush toy of the beloved character from the Disney+ series “The Mandalorian” to determine whether they had reached zero gravity:

(16) PREDICTING THE PRESENT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Songbird takes place in week 215 of the national lockdown, where people quarantined under Covid-23 have to be placed in camps.  Good times!  Produced by Michael Bay.

(17) ACQUISITION. Publishers Lunch reports:

Richard Kadrey and Cassandra Khaw’s THE DEAD TAKE THE A TRAIN, about a freelance psychic operative tracking an ever-morphing supernatural serial killer in New York City, to Diana Gill at Nightfire, with Kelly Lonesome editing, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2022, by Ginger Clark at Curtis Brown for Kadrey, and by Michael Curry at Donald Maass Literary Agency for Khaw.

(18) ITTY BITTY TEENY WEENY BACTERIAL SPACE MINERS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] The New York Times reports “These Microbes May Help Future Martians and Moon People Mine Metals”. (May be paywalled.)

An experiment aboard the space station showed that bacteria were effective at extracting rare earth elements from rocks.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: Toy Story 4” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say the fourth Toy Story movie has Keanu Reeves in it because we all love Keanu Reeves and has “many beloved character actors getting paid only to say ‘Woody’ or ‘Buzz.'”

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

Pixel Scroll 11/15/20 There Was An Old Black Hole Who Swallowed A Jovian Gas Giant, I Don’t Know Why It Swallowed A Jovian Gas Giant, Perhaps It Will Implode

(1) TANTALIZING TITLES. Eric Flint says he and Griff Barber are closing in on finishing 1637: The Peacock Throne, the sequel to 1636: Mission To The Mughals. What next?

…1637: THE PEACOCK THRONE is a hell of a good novel, if I say so myself. All we have left to do is write a few chapters to conclude the story arc. THIS story arc, I should say.

Yes, there will be a sequel. I’m already pondering titles. Possibilities are:

1638: A PREGNANT PAUSE

1638: THE HAJJ IS TRICKIER THAN IT LOOKS

1638: WHAT TO DO, WHAT TO DO…

1638: GIRL, YOU ARE IN SOOOOOOO MUCH TROUBLE

1638: YOU DID WHAT?????

Muahahahahaha….

(2) ABOUT FACE. “Stranger Than Something That Is Already Strange: A Conversation with Namwali Serpell” at the LA Review of Books.

That leads right into one of my other questions. The central claim of the book is that, rather than being all that interested in the Ideal Face, we actually “love to play with faces, to make them into art.” Why do you think it is so important to emphasize art and play when thinking about the face?

I think that, when you have a very dominant model of something, like the face, you have to undo it not just through examples of things that contravene it — not just through counterexamples — but you have to actually build a positive model. In thinking about what playing with the face gives to us, I needed to present it not just as a kind of denigration or a sacrilegious desecration because we have this deification of the ideal face. So, I started thinking about what playing with faces actually grants us. And I thought, well, it actually starts shifting us to entirely different models of aesthetics and ethics and emotion.

(3) MEDICAL UPDATE. Heather Rose Jones tweeted today —

And later –

Hope she’s getting great care, and our wishes for a speedy return to health.

(4) LEND ME YOUR EARS. Elisabeth Moore pushes the canonical envelope at Sarah Gailey’s site — “Personal Canons: Dragon Rider”.

The idea that a personal literary canon is devised out of only literature has been disproven over and over again in this series of essays. Some people see comics as a key part of their development; others count anime and folktales. The very fact that the personal canon is multifaceted and multi-genre is key to the canon. And so, I want to add a key cornerstone of my canon: the audiobook for Cornelia Funke’s The Dragon Rider, Part 1.

Yes. Only Part 1….

(5) CRAIG MILLER WINS ANIMATION WRITING AWARD. Writers Guild of America gives an award, through its Animation Writers Caucus, that the Guild’s website calls the Animation Writing Award, informally a life-career award. Congratulations to Craig Miller, this year’s winner.

The official description says it’s “given to that member of the Animation Writers Caucus and/or the Guild who, in the opinion of the Board of Directors, has advanced the literature of animation in film and/or television through the years and who has made outstanding contributions to the profession of the animation writer”.

And this year, in an act of madness, they decided the recipient will be me.

I’m truly honored to get this award and hope I have and can continue to live up to it.

(6) TOOT TOOT. Inspired by the Star Trek train set, the O Gauge Railroad Online Forum asks “What kind of bell and horn sounds would be authentic for a Star Ship?”.

“How would you hear it in space? Do you blast the horn 4 times for warp speed? Is the bell for Impulse power?”

(7) A NOISE WITHIN. Meanwhile, “Doctor Who’s sonic pioneers to turn internet into giant musical instrument” says The Guardian. “The performance comes the day before 23 November, the anniversary of the first transmission of Doctor Who in 1963 which is also Delia Derbyshire Day, in honour of the Radiophonic Workshop’s leading light, who created the sound of the show’s famous theme tune.”

The Radiophonic Workshop has always broken new sonic ground, from the Doctor Who theme to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Now they’re at it again – this time using the internet as a musical instrument.

A performance of Latency will take place at a special online event on 22 November using a technique inspired by lockdown Zoom calls. The band includes composers from the original BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which created soundtracks for most BBC shows from the 60s to the 90s and influenced generations of musicians from Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfield to Aphex Twin, Orbital and Mary Epworth.

The idea [of playing the internet] reflected our time,” said workshop member Peter Howell. “We’re all subject to the internet now in a way that we never thought we would be. And Bob and Paddy came up with an idea that is literally using what we’re all relying on for a creative purpose, using something that we’ve all taken for granted but in an artistic way.”

(8) INSIDE STORY. Publishers Weekly, in “How ‘The Only Good Indians’ Got Made—And How It Hopes to Revive Horror”, covers the Authors Guild’s From Manuscript to Marketplace panel with Stephen Graham Jones and his team. including Saga editorial director Joe Monti, marketing and publicity manager Lauren Jackson, and his agent, B.J. Robbins.

The Only Good Indians, which received a starred review from PW and was recently named one of Time magazine’s 100 must-read books of 2020, tracks the lives of four young men who, during a hunt, commit a crime against an elk and their own Blackfeet Nation tribe. After walking away from the incident, they find themselves haunted by a mysterious entity bent on revenge, and realize that there are just some things one can’t take back.

What intrigued Monti about Jones’s novel was how it addressed reviving the horror genre. After seeing Jordan Peele’s Get Out, Monti said, he realized that “this is the way we’re gonna be able to talk about race and class and culture with a level of immediacy that other genres can’t”—and he believed Jones’s book nailed it. But Monti wasn’t the only one from Saga who saw the connection. Jackson was hooked from the prologue, going on to read the book in the course of a few days and immediately dubbing it “the Jordan Peele of Horror Literature.”

Johnson argues that Jones’s book is one of a number of recent releases to have proven that the horror genre isn’t as narrow as its reputation. Horror is a “statement about identity” in her view: “there are layers to these tropes, and if you really look deep, it’s saying a lot about who people are and what the world is like,” Johnson said, adding that “the tropes have a function [and] there’s something behind them.”…

(9) DIRECTORIAL DEBUT. Leonard Maltin reviews “Over The Moon: A Beautiful Journey”.

Over the Moon is, like any animated feature, the work of many people but everyone I interviewed took inspiration from its director, master animator Glen Keane.

Glen spent 37 years at the Disney studio and brought to life some of the modern era’s most indelible characters: Ariel in The Little Mermaid, the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, the young hero in Aladdin, the title characters in Pocahontas and Tarzan, and Rapunzel in Tangled, among others. Several years ago he won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Subject for Dear Basketball, a collaboration with the late Kobe Bryant.

This is officially his feature directing debut and as you would expect, he chose his team with care. That’s why Over the Moon looks so striking and its characters are so vivid….

(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

1975 — Forty five years ago at Aussiecon One which had John Bangsund as Toastmaster, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia by Ursula K. Le Guin wins the Best Novel Hugo. Runner-ups were Poul Anderson’s Fire Time, Philip K. Dick’s Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye andChristopher Priest’s Inverted World. First published by Harper & Row the previous year with cover art by Fred Winkowski, it would also win the Locus and Nebula Awards for Best SF Novel and be nominated for the Campbell Memorial, Ditmar and multiple Prometheus Awards being eventually voted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 15, 1877 William Hope Hodgson. By far, his best known character is Thomas Carnacki, featured in several of his most famous stories and at least partly based upon Algernon Blackwood’s occult detective John Silence. (Simon R. Green will make use of him in his Ghost Finders series.)  Two of his later novels, The House on the Borderland and The Night Land would be lavishly praised by H.P. Lovecraft.  It is said that his horror writing influenced many later writers such as China Miéville, Tim Lebbon and Greg Bear but I cannot find a definitive source for that claim. (Died 1918.) (CE)
  • Born November 15, 1929 Ed Asner, 91. Genre work includes roles on Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Outer Limits,  Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Girl from U.N.C.L.E.The InvadersThe Wild Wild WestMission: ImpossibleShelley Duvall’s Tall Tales & LegendsBatman: The Animated Series and I’ll stop there as the list goes on for quite some while. (CE)
  • Born November 15, 1930 J. G. Ballard. I’ll frankly admit that I’ve not read enough of him to render a coherent opinion of him as writer. What I’ve read such as The Drowned World is more than a bit depressing. Well yes, but really depressing. So tell me what you think of him. (Died 2009.) (CE) 
  • Born November 15, 1939 Yaphet Kotto, 81. As we count the Bond films as genre and I do, his first genre performance was as Dr. Kananga / Mr. Big in Live and Let Die. Later performances included Parker in Alien, William Laughlin in The Running Man, Doc in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, Ressler in The Puppet Masters adapted from Heinlein’s 1951 novel of the same name and he played a character named Captain Jack Clayton on SeaQuest DSV. (CE) 
  • Born November 15, 1941 – Daniel Pinkwater, 79.  The Golux (in The Thirteen Clocks, J. Thurber 1950) wears an indescribable hat; DP is almost indescribable.  You may know he wrote The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death; seven dozen more; a dozen shorter stories.  Sometimes he draws his own covers.  He deserves fuller treatment – no – more rounded – no – expansive – anyhow, his Website is here (hint: if you want to know about the Semper admirare melongenum eggplant, find out about the talking pineapple: I can say no more).  [JH]
  • Born November 15, 1942 – Ruth Berman, 78.  Rhysling Award, Short Poem for “Potherb Gardening” (Asimov’s, Dec 02); Dwarf Stars Award for “Knowledge Of” (repr. 2008 Nebula Awards Showcase).  Minnesota Fantasy Award.  Two novels, thirty shorter stories, a hundred thirty poems.  Nonfiction Patterns of Unification in “Sylvie and Bruno” (Lewis Carroll’s last novel, 1893); Who’s Who in the Borderlands of Oz.  Guest of Honor at Minicon 6, MarsCon 2016.  More here.  Often seen in the letter column of Lofgeornost.  [JH]
  • Born November 15, 1952 – Catherine Wells, 68.  Five novels, a dozen shorter stories. “Builders of Leaf Houses” won the Analog 2015 AnLab award for Best Novella.  Outside our field a novel Stones of Destiny about Macbeth (re-issued as Macbeatha).  Plays in a jazz trio at church with her husband on drums, rides tandem bicycle with him.  Thirty in her high school (Robinson, North Dakota); she was top in a class of five; when asked “Are you in the top 20% of your class?” she answered “I am the top 20% of my class.”  Guest of Honor at TusCon 27.  [JH]
  • Born November 15, 1958 – Scott Lefton, 62.  Built the Hugo base for Noreascon 4 (62nd Worldcon).  For the Hugo presentation at Sasquan (73rd Worldcon) by Kjell Lindgren from the Int’l Space Station via videoconference, SL made the Hugo rocket.  SL’s Pitcher-Plant Lamp won Popular Choice – Best 3-Dimensional in the Arisia 2017 Art Show.  [JH]
  • Born November 15, 1972 – Vadim Panov, 48.  Aircraft radio engineer who started writing.  Losers Launch Wars began an urban-fantasy series “The Secret City”, fourteen so far; Club Moscow began a cyberpunk series “The Enclaves”, five so far.  [JH]
  • Born November 15, 1972 Jonny Lee Miller, 48. British actor and director who played Sherlock Holmes on the exemplary Elementary series, but his first genre role was as a nine year-old with the Fifth Doctor, “Kinda”. While he’s had a fairly steady stage, film, and TV career across the pond since then, it’s only in the last decade that he’s become well-known in the States – unless, like JJ, you remember that 23 years ago he appeared in a shoddy technothriller called Hackers, with another unknown young actor named Angelina Jolie (to whom he ended up married, until they separated 18 months later). Other genre appearances include a trio of vampire films, Dracula 2000Dark Shadows, and Byzantium, the live-action Æon Flux movie, and the lead in the pseudo-fantasy TV series Eli Stone. (CE) 
  • Born November 15, 1977 – Ashley Knight, 43.  Loves horses, has been a Rodeo Queen.  Thereafter she became the Mermaid Lady and properly wrote a Fins trilogy; three more novels.  [JH]

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) SHOW TIME. Disney Rewards challenges fans with a “Quiz: How Well Do You Know The Mandalorian?”

Since it premiered in 2019 on Disney+, the first ever live-action Star Wars TV series, The Mandalorian, has thrilled a galaxy of fans with its action-packed adventures. But how closely did you watch, and how well do you know the bounty of details? Strap on your jetpack and launch into our trivia quiz to test your knowledge and target an expert-level score.

(14) DINO TBR. Pocket’s “The Ultimate Dinosaur Reading List” is a collection of links to articles about dinosaurs.

If you ever want to put things in perspective, consider this: Less time separates human beings in history from Tyrannosaurus rex than T. rex from Stegosaurus. That’s right. While T. rex went extinct about 66 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous Period, the Jurassic Period’s stegosaurus roamed the Earth 83 million years before T. rex had even evolved. All told, dinosaurs ruled the planet for some 180 million years, while homo sapiens emerged a paltry 200,000 years ago.

That’s just one of many reasons our fascination with the terrible lizards is wholly justified. We’ve curated this Brachiosaurus-sized collection of 20 great articles all about dinosaurs and the people who obsess over them, including what dinosaurs looked like, what it’s like to be a paleontologist hunting for dinosaur fossils, and whether Jurassic Park could actually happen.

(15) TIME FOR A SITDOWN. In Episode 40 of Two Chairs Talking, “Lost in the labyrinth of words”, Perry Middlemiss and David Grigg discuss their recent reading across a variety of genres and spend quite a bit of time on Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, her first book in 14 years.

(16) CHILD SIZED. Sideshow takes you “Behind the Scenes with The Child Life-Size Figure on ESPN’s Monday Night Football”. Video at the link.

Recently, football audiences, Star Wars™ fans, and Sideshow collectors alike were treated to a surprise special appearance of The Child Life-Size Figure on a themed promotional spot about The Mandalorian™ on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.

Now take a look at a few adorable behind the scenes shots featuring The Child Life-Size Figure during the filming of the promo. In the charming video narrated by actor Giancarlo Esposito, the Child Life-Size Figure featured alongside a young boy with ambitions of becoming a hero like the Mandalorian.

(17) HOW TO ASTRONAUT. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination offers “How To Astronaut, With Terry Virts”, in a virtual conversation on November 24 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register here.

On November 24 at 6:00 PM PDT join NASA astronaut and International Space Station commander Colonel Terry Virts in conversation with Dr. Erik Viirre of UCSD Departments of Neurosciences, Surgery and Cognitive Science and the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination. How to Astronaut covers everything from training through launch, orbit, spacewalking, deep space, and re-entry. Colonel Virts and Dr. Viirre will discuss the science, emotions, and philosophies that an off-the-planet perspective can grant.

Colonel Terry Virts earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from the United States Air Force Academy in 1989, and a master of aeronautical science degree in aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Selected by NASA in 2000, he was the pilot of STS-130 mission aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour. In March 2015, Virts assumed command of the International Space Station, and spent over 200 days on it. Virts is one of the stars (and photographers) of the IMAX film, A Beautiful Planet, released in April 2016. He is also the author of View from Above. He lives near Houston.

Dr. Viirre has done research for the National Institutes of Health, the United States Navy’s Office of Naval Research, DARPA and NASA. He is a consultant for groups such as the National Academy of Science and a variety of Virtual Reality technology companies.

(18) HONEST GAME TRAILER. In “Honest Game Trailers:  Crash Bandicoot 4:  It’s About Time,” Fandom Games says Crash Bandicoot is “gaming’s equivalent of a C-list celebrity” and dusting off this “mutated marsupial” is like having an “HD remake” of a popular ’90s franchise.  The game features a Peter Lorre joke “that was ancient in the ’90s.”

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

Pixel Scroll 11/11/20 Guess Who’s Coming For Elevenses

(1) TARDIS TAKES OFF FOR SHORTENED SEASON. “‘Doctor Who’ Season 13 begins filming under strict COVID-19 safety measures” reports UPI.

The producers of long-running British sci-fi series Doctor Who announced filming has commenced on the 13th season of the show’s 2005 revival.

BBC America, which airs Doctor Who in the United States, said Jodie Whittaker is returning as the 13th incarnation of the Doctor for Season 13, which is being filmed “under strict industry and U.K. government guidelines to ensure the safety of all cast and crew.”

“In this strangest of years, the Doctor Who production team have worked wonders to get the show back into production,” showrunner Chris Chibnall said. “We’re thrilled to be back making the show.”

Chibnall said the extra time required to follow the COVID-19 safety protocols led to the decision to do an eight-episode season instead of the usual 11 episodes.

(2) GOLDSMITHS PRIZE. M. John Harrison’s novel The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again has won the Goldsmiths Prize 2020 worth £10,000.

Harrison is an acclaimed genre writer, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and Philip K. Dick Award for Nova Swing (2007), and the Tiptree Award for Light (2003), and with many other major awards nominations to his credit. Whether The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again is genre was not evident from the three reviews I consulted, but since one of them was in Locus Online perhaps that should count for something.

The Goldsmiths Prize, established in 2013, rewards “fiction that breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form.” Works must be written in English by authors from the UK or the Republic of Ireland, and be published by a publisher based in one of those countries.  

The award judges were Will Eaves, Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Chris Power, and Frances Wilson (chair). [Via the estimable Locus Online.]

(3) ELUSIVE TIMES. Cat Rambo discusses “Shooting at a Rolling Hoop: Predicting the Near Future” on the SFWA Blog, about the challenge of writing her contribution to And The Last Trump Shall Sound (which features a cover with a take on Grant Wood’s American Gothic, using Trump and Pence as the iconic couple.)

… Over and over, something was brought home to me in this: when we write science fiction, we are writing about our own times, simply seen through a lens that changes how it is perceived, in a way that adds meaning. Paradoxically, the closer the time in which you’re trying, the harder this is to do. The far future is easy; so much can be hidden in those intervening, ample swathes of time. In the near future, the fabric is stretched out tighter, to the point where every imperfection catches your eye, and yet that gives it a reality, an immediacy, perhaps even an earnestness sometimes lacking in works more removed in chronological terms.

(4) SEARCHING FOR HARDING. Cora Buhlert takes a look at the elusive golden age fantasy and horror writer Allison V. Harding and wonders why some folks insist that Harding must have been a man despite evidence to the contrary: “The Elusive Allison V. Harding and How to Suppress Women’s Writing… Again”.

…Allison V. Harding is also a mystery, because we almost nothing about her. Of course, there are plenty of pulp authors about whom we know next to nothing, but most of them are one or two story wonders, not one of the top ten most prolific contributors to Weird Tales. Furthermore, Allison V. Harding was clearly popular in her day, as the letter columns and reader polls in Weird Tales indicate.

So why do we know so little about her, even though the history of Weird Tales is fairly well documented? Part of the reason is that early Weird Tales scholars like Robert Weinberg didn’t much care for Allison V. Harding’s stories and dismissed them as forgettable fillers and therefore never even bothered to research the author….

(5) MULTI-TASKING. Stacey Abrams, Democratic politician from Georgia and also a fan, has written several romantic suspense novels under the pen name Selena Montgomery: “Stacey Abrams: Georgia’s political heroine … and romance author” in The Guardian.

….Abrams wrote her first novel during her third year at Yale Law School, inspired after reading her ex-boyfriend’s PhD dissertation in chemical physics. She had wanted to write a spy novel: “For me, for other young black girls, I wanted to write books that showed them to be as adventurous and attractive as any white woman,” she wrote in her memoir Minority Leader. But after being told repeatedly by editors that women don’t read spy novels, and that men don’t read spy novels by women, she made her spies fall in love. Rules of Engagement, her debut, was published in 2001, and sees temperatures flare as covert operative Raleigh partners with the handsome Adam Grayson to infiltrate a terrorist group that has stolen deadly environmental technology.

(6) BAD TO THE BONE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] At the crime fiction site Criminal Element thriller writer Chris Mooney tells what makes a great villain. All examples are SFF and Mooney’s latest novel is borderline SF as well: “The Ultimate Villain Creates the Ultimate Hero”.

… The best, most memorable villains are, to paraphrase screenwriter John Truby (who has consulted on more than 1,000 films), exceptionally good at attacking the hero’s greatest weakness, or weaknesses.  Truby calls such a villain “the ultimate antagonist.” The crisis points in the story force the hero to make incredibly difficult decisions that not only reveal the hero’s true nature but also force the hero to face his or her true self. And more often than not, the hero and the antagonist are competing for the same goal.

But how do you accomplish such a feat in an established pop culture behemoth franchise like Star Trek, where beloved and iconic heroes have already been through dozens of life-and-death scenarios by dozens of villains? How can you elevate the story, make it more meaningful and dramatic, when a book or comics reader or audience of a film or TV show knows from the very beginning that the hero and main supporting characters won’t die or get physically harmed in any serious way?

You create the ultimate antagonist.

The second Star Trek movie brought back a well-known villain from one of its classic episodes—Khan Noonien Singh, the genetically-engineered superhuman from “Space Seed.” The movie could have followed a simple connect-the-dots story about revenge, but the writers turned Khan into an antagonist who not only has the upper hand but is also much smarter than Kirk, more prepared…. 

(7) LIKE A TROLLING STONE. “The Dissident Act of Taking a Walk at Night” — Matthew Beaumont unpacks Ray Bradbury’s “The Pedestrian” for Literary Hub.

…Crossing and re-crossing the city at night on foot, aimlessly reclaiming the freedom of its streets from automobiles, Bradbury’s Pedestrian is identifiable as the scion of a distinct tradition of urban rebellion or resistance, the dissident tradition of the nightwalker.

The distant origins of the so-called “common night-walker” lie in late 13th-century England, when Edward I introduced the Statute of Winchester as a means of enforcing the curfew that prevailed at that time throughout the nation’s towns and cities. This “nightwalker statute,” as it was known, then became central to the colonial law instituted in North America in the late 17th century.

In 1660, colonial law stipulated that the state’s night watchmen should “examine all Night Walkers, after ten of the clock at Night (unless they be known peaceable inhabitants) to enquire whither they are going, and what their business is.” If the individual accosted could not “give Reasonable Satisfaction to the Watchman or constable” making this enquiry, they were liable to be arrested and taken before the magistrate, who would ask them “to give satisfaction, for being abroad at that time of night.” In urban settlements throughout North America there was in the early modern period no right to the night, particularly for plebeians. Almost by definition, the poor could not “give satisfaction for being abroad” after dark. In the streets at night the itinerant were an inherent threat to society. Today, as in the 1950s, residues of this situation persist. Indeed, in some places in the United States, the term “common nightwalker” remains on the statute books, where it indicates a vagrant as well as a streetwalker or sex worker.

“An idle or dissolute person who roams about at late or unusual hours and is unable to account for his presence” is the definition of a nightwalker offered by two legal commentators who summarized a number of relevant statutes in the 1960s. The ordinance against vagrants in Jacksonville, Florida, for instance, includes a reference to nightwalkers. The state, in its infinite leniency, doesn’t construe a single night’s wandering as necessarily criminal. “Only ‘habitual’ wanderers, or ‘common night walkers,’” the authors of a legal textbook explain, “are criminalized.” “We know, however, from experience,” they rather drily add, “that sleepless people often walk at night.” The sleepless, the homeless and the hopeless, then, are all susceptible to this archaic charge.

It is against this legal background—and in view of the persistent suspicion about solitary people who inhabit the streets at night that, historically, it has sponsored—that Bradbury’s portrait of a nocturnal pedestrian trapped in a dystopian cityscape demands to be interpreted. Despite the passage of more than 300 years since the origins of colonial law in North America, nightwalking remains a socially transgressive activity.

For Bradbury, writing in the 1950s, it potentially also has political implications. “The Pedestrian” is an affirmation of the heterodox politics of the night, which “has always been the time for daylight’s dispossessed,” as Bryan Palmer writes, “—the deviant, the dissident, the different.” The Pedestrian’s footsteps, echoing on empty, darkened pavements, interrupt the ominous silence of the totalitarian city, which insists that its inhabitants remain visible but inaudible at all times.

(8) TURKEY TIME. HBO Max dropped a trailer for the new Melissa McCarthy film Superintelligence.

When an all-powerful AI (James Corden) chooses to study the most average person on Earth, Carol Peters (Melissa McCarthy), it’s the perfect recipe for a Thanksgiving movie.

(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • Twenty-five years ago,  Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Forgiveness Day” as published in the November 1994 Asimov’s Science Fiction wins the 1995 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short SF story published in English in the previous calendar year. There were fourteen other nominated stories so they won’t be listed here. Only John Kessel and Michael Swanwick who have each won once out of seven nominations have been nominated more than Ursula K. Le Guin who is tied at one win out of six with Nancy Kress and Ian McDonald. It would win a Locus Award for Best Novella and be nominated for the Hugo, Nebula and Otherwise Awards. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 11, 1916 – Don Franson.  Active in the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n): three terms as President; club historian; three terms editing The Nat’l Fantasy FanKaymar Award (service; can only be received once); two President’s Awards (later named for him).  Also LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Society).  With Howard DeVore, Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards (most recently, 3rd ed. 1998).  Also SF Title Changes (with Michael Viggiano); 1945-1964 vol. of N3F’s Author Index to “Astounding” / “Analog”A Key to the Terminology of SF Fandom (1962).  A dozen short stories.  Fanzine Trash Barrel excelled at thumbnail-size fanzine reviews.  (Died 2002) [JH]
  • Born November 11, 1922 Kurt Vonnegut Jr. The Sirens of Titan was his first SF novel followed by Cat’s Cradle which, after turning down his original thesis in 1947, the University of Chicago awarded him his master’s degree in anthropology in 1971 for this novel.  Next was Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death which is one weird book and an even stranger film. It was nominated for best novel Nebula and Hugo Awards but lost both to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness.I’m fairly sure Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Mondayis his last genre novel there’s a lot of short fiction where something of a genre nature might have occurred. (Died 2007.) (CE) 
  • Born November 11, 1925 Jonathan Winters. I thought he was in Get Smart! which was why I was going to list him here but he wasn’t… Huh. However he’s in a number of genre series and films including Twilight ZoneWild Wild West as Albert Paradine II, Mork & Mindy where he was Mearth, the animated Smurfs series and The Animaniacs. And that’s a very selective list to say the least. (Died 2013.) (CE) 
  • Born November 11, 1927 Mack Reynolds. He’d make Birthday Honors just for his first novel, The Case of the Little Green Men, published in 1951, which as you likely know is a murder mystery set at a Con.  He gets Serious Geek Credits for writing the first original authorized classic Trek novel Mission to Horatius.  And I’ve seriously enjoyed his short fiction. He’s been nominated for six Hugos but never won. Wildside Press has seriously big volumes of his fiction up at the usual digital suspects for very cheap prices. (Died 1983.) (CE) 
  • Born November 11, 1945 – Delphyne Joan Hanke-Woods.  One Best-Fanartist Hugo, two FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards.  Also worked as a pro.  Guest of Honor at ConClave V, Archon 5 (which I keep saying should be pronounced “Arch on”, but what do I know?), Windycon XI, Xanadu III, Capricon 7, Bubonicon19.  Here is her cover for Mike Resnick’s Weird Chicago (part of successful bid to hold 70th Worldcon).  Here is Journey Planet 17.  Here is a Doctor Who image.  Here is an interior from the Minicon 17 Program Book (at left; for “gafiate” in image at right, see here).  Here is an interior from The Drink Tank 300.  Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here.  (Died 2013) [JH]
  • Born November 11, 1946 – Ian Miller, 74.  A hundred covers, as many interiors; games; two Ralph Bakshi films; sculpture.  Four years art editor for Interzone.  The Art of Ian Miller; three earlier artbooks.  Here is R is for Rocket.  Here is Kai Lung’s Golden Hours.  Here is The Difference Engine.  Here is Seven Stars.  Elaborate Wikipedia entry.  [JH]
  • Born November 11, 1948 – Kathy Sanders, 72.  Among our finest costumers; has also served as judge, and Masquerade Director (the on-stage costume competition at SF cons we call the Masquerade evolved from dress-up parties).  Here is “The King and Queen of Wands”.  Here is “The Court of the Peacock King”.  Here is “Fantasy and Science Fiction”.  Here is “Treasures of the Earth”.  Int’l Costumers Guild Life Achievement Award.  [JH]
  • Born November 11, 1960 Stanley Tucci, 60. He was Puck in that film version of A Midsummer Night’s DreamHowever, his first role was asDr. John Wiseman in Monkey Shines. (Shudder.) he shows as in forgettable The Core, and was amazing as Stanley Kubrick in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. And I’m fond of his voicing Boldo in The Tale of Despereaux. (CE)
  • Born November 11, 1962 Demi Moore, 58. Ghost of course gets her the Birthday Honors. And yes I did see it. Sniff. But she got also  her genre creds with her second film Parasite which is good as she didn’t do much after that of a genre nature that she is Piper Griffin in the forthcoming Songbird based off our Pandemic. (CE)
  • Born November 11, 1973 – Brett Savory, 47.  Four novels, thirty shorter stories.  Three anthologies.  British Fantasy Award; Bram Stoker Award for Editing; World Fantasy Award.  Likes “drumming, writing, editing, and drinking Bumbu rum, which is the world’s best…. Go try some.  Tell me I’m wrong.  I’ll wait.”  [JH]
  • Born November 11, 1994 – Ellie Simmonds, 26.  Four novels from Ellie’s Magical Bakery.  Outside our field, five gold medals, starting at age 13, in the Paralympics (she has achondroplasia), setting two world swimming records; ten World Championship titles.  Active in the Scout Association (U.K.) and Girlguiding.  [JH]

(11) MANDALORIAN GROG. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] You can drink a Baby Yoda cocktail at a bar in Banbridge, Northern Ireland: “Jennifer Aniston makes restaurant’s adorable Baby Yoda cocktail go viral” (Entertainment Weekly.) I did pass through Banbridge last year while travelling from Worldcon in Dublin to Eurocon in Belfast, but I didn’t visit this bar nor did I have a Baby Yoda cocktail.

(12) ANYTHING FUNNY IS SUSPECT. Literary Hub looks back at the “The First Reviews of Slaughterhouse-Five, including one by Michael Crichton:

A little over a half century ago, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five—a darkly comic, throughly batshit, semi-autobiographical anti-war novel about a fatalistic young American soldier who survives the firebombing of Dresden and becomes “unstuck in time”—exploded onto the literary scene. A bestseller upon its release, the book has gone on to become one of the most beloved and influential (not to mention challenged) works of contemporary American fiction. It has also enjoyed a storied pop culture life, appearing or being namechecked in everything from The Wonder Years to The SimpsonsFootloose to Varsity Blues. There was even a 90s folk-rock duo called Billy Pilgrim who weren’t half bad.

Before it joined the ranks of the immortals, though, Slaughterhouse-Five had to run the book review gauntlet just like any other novel. Today, on what would have been the Vonnegut’s ninety-eight birthday, we look back at five of the earliest critical takes….

(13) EXO MARKS THE SPOT. “Looking for Another Earth? Here Are 300 Million, Maybe” – the New York Times says the real estate is out there.

…“It’s not E.T., but it’s E.T.’s home,” said William Borucki when the mission was launched in March 2009. It was Dr. Borucki, an astronomer now retired from NASA’s Ames Research Center, who dreamed up the project and spent two decades convincing NASA to do it.

Before the spacecraft finally gave out in 2018, it had discovered more than 4,000 candidate worlds among those stars. So far, none have shown any sign of life or habitation. (Granted, they are very far away and hard to study.) Extrapolated, that figure suggests that there are billions of exoplanets in the Milky Way galaxy. But how many of those are potentially habitable?

After crunching Kepler’s data for two years, a team of 44 astronomers led by Steve Bryson of NASA Ames has landed on what they say is the definitive answer, at least for now. Their paper has been accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal.

Kepler’s formal goal was to measure a number called eta-Earth: the fraction of sunlike stars that have an Earth-size object orbiting them in the “goldilocks” or habitable zone, where it is warm enough for the surface to retain liquid water.

The team calculated that at least one-third, and perhaps as many as 90 percent, of stars similar in mass and brightness to our sun have rocks like Earth in their habitable zones, with the range reflecting the researchers’ confidence in their various methods and assumptions. That is no small bonanza, however you look at it….

(14) YIPES! Pretty much the whole story is in CNN’s headline: “That ‘murder hornet’ nest scientists found and destroyed had nearly 200 queens. They say they got there ‘just in the nick of time'”

Researchers approximate nearly 200 queens were produced from that single nest, which is a significant uptick over the two queens they originally found.

Entomologists from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) eradicated and cleared out the nest found inside of the cavity of a tree near Blaine, Washington on October 24.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/26/20 Strange Scrolls Lying In Ponds Distributing Pixels Is No Basis For A System Of Filing

(1) TITLE BOUT. Shelf Awareness publicized the release of the six-book shortlist for the 2020 Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year. “Founded by Trevor Bounford and the late Bruce Robertson in 1978 ‘as a way to stave off boredom at the Frankfurt Book Fair,’ the Diagram Prize has had a home at the Bookseller and with legendary diarist Horace Bent since 1982.” The finalists are —

  • A Dog Pissing at the Edge of a Path by Gregory Forth
  • Introducing the Medieval Ass by Kathryn L Smithies
  • Classical Antiquity in Heavy Metal Music by K.F.B. Fletcher and Osman Umurhan
  • How to Make Love to a Despot by Stephen D. Krasner
  • Lawnmowers: An Illus­trated History by Brian Radam
  • The Slaughter of Farmed Animals: Practical Ways to Enhance Animal Welfare by Temple Grandin and Michael Cockram

More details from the award hosts here: “The Bookseller announces the Diagram Prize 2020 shortlist”

The winning title will now be chosen by members of the public via an online vote. The public vote closes on Friday 20th November, with the winning entry to be announced on Friday 27th November. There is no prize for the winning author or publisher, but traditionally a passable bottle of claret is given to the nominator of the winning entry. If a title wins that was nominated by The Bookseller staff, the claret will be given at random to a member of the public who participated in the online voting. 

(2) FIYAH FOUNDER Q&A. The latest episode of The Imagination Desk, a podcast from the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University, is live now, featuring an interview with speculative fiction author Troy L. Wiggins, who is also one of the founders of FIYAH Literary Magazine. Listen in here.

The next episode will be with science fiction author and researcher Regina Kanyu Wang.

Here is the CSI newsletter on Black Speculative Fiction Month activities, which features this podcast, among other things. And here are direct links to the podcast, on the CSI website (which links out to the other services), Apple PodcastsSpotifyRadioPublic, and Libsyn

(3) ROCKY HORROR LIVE FUNDRAISER. This invitation was sent in Tim Curry’s name for a Rocky Horror Live virtual event to aid the Wisconsin Democratic party.

Right now, we can almost see blue skies through the tears… of the Trump presidency, of course. But we absolutely must keep the pressure on!

That’s why we’re doing the Rocky Horror Show — LIVE — this Halloween night — to help get out the vote in Wisconsin. RSVP and reserve your spot today!

This is a live, once-in-a-lifetime musical livestream event, featuring cast members both old and new. There will be singing, dancing, laughs and plenty of fun.

Chip in any amount to join us for the Rocky Horror Show Livestream on Halloween with Tim Curry, Wilmer Valderrama, Lance Bass, Rosario Dawson, Jason George, Nell Campbell, Seth Green, Jason Alexander, David Arquette, and more!

Featuring musical performances by The Dresden Dolls, Miss Peppermint, Eiza Gonzalez, Josh Gad, Ben Barnes, Jenna Ushkowitz, Rachel Bloom, Karen Olivo, Marissa Jaret Winkour, Madison Uphoff, Kalen Chase, and Rumer Willis.

This event is only going to be livestreamed once at 9pm CT on Saturday, October 31st.

(4) SANS CLUE. LitHub confirms, “We Have Edgar Allan Poe to Thank for the Detective Story”.

…These are the similarities between the Dupin stories and Sherlock Holmes, and there are many. One writer said that “The only difference between Dupin and Holmes is the English Channel.” Similarity number one: in both stories we have at the heart a highly intelligent but somewhat eccentric and enigmatic detective. The word detective did not actually exist when Poe was writing, which gives you a sense of how novel he was. He might have taken the idea from a series of magazine articles about a French policeman. Otherwise, he was on his own. This was all his….

(5) MAD, YOU KNOW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Our Culture’s Ongoing, Ever-Evolving Fascination With ‘The Mad Scientist’” on CrimeReads, sf novelist Jane Gilmartin explains why “mad scientists” remain popular characters in sf.

… Examples of the mad scientist/evil genius in everything from comic books to classics spring to mind without even breaking a sweat: Dr. No of James Bond fame, whose experiments with atomic energy cost him his hands as well as his conscience; Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, whose unquenchable thirst for knowledge drove him to a deal with the devil; Dr. Henry Wu, who fooled around with genetics and opened a questionable theme park in Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, and, my personal favorite, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll, whose work brought to the surface his baser self as Mr. Hyde.

It is the last example, I think, that speaks most clearly to our fears. Scientists are people like the rest of us—multi-faceted, unpredictable and (for the most part) human. Like all of us humans, there’s always that slim chance that they’re going to turn to the proverbial dark side, especially when they get a taste of power….

(6) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 2000 — Twenty years ago at Chicon 2000, the Hugo for Best Novella went to Connie Willis for “The Winds of Marble Arch”, a precursor to her Blackout/All Clear novel which would win the Best Hugo Novel eleven years later at Renovation. Runner-ups were Harry Turtledove‘s “Forty, Counting Down”, Adam-Troy Castro and Jerry Oltion‘s “The Astronaut from Wyoming”, Mike Resnick‘s “Hunting the Snark” and Kage Baker‘s “Son, Observe the Time”. It can be found in The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories, the Subterranean Press collection, which is available from the usual digital suspects. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 26, 1942 —  Bob Hoskins. I’ll insist his role as Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is his finest genre role though I suppose Mario Mario in Super Mario Bros. could be said… Just kidding! He’s the Director of The Raggedy Rawney which he also had a role, a strange might-be genre film, and he’s Smee in Hook as well. (Died 2014.) (CE)
  • Born October 26, 1945 – Jane Chance, Ph.D., D.Litt., 75.  Mellon Distinguished Professor emerita at Rice; first woman appointed to tenure track in English; founder president of the Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages; doctorate of letters, Purdue.  For us, six books on Tolkien; a score of others, a hundred articles.  [JH]
  • Born October 26, 1951 – Melanie Herz, 69.  Hardworking Florida fan.  Many regionals and Worldcons; chaired Traveling Fête 1996, Tropicon 21, OASIS 6. When we’ve been on the same con committee, and particularly when we were on the same DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) ballot, we tried to make sure our mail didn’t get crossed.  Still wasn’t as bad as when I had an office down the hall from a man named Heitz.  [JH]
  • Born October 26, 1954 Jennifer Roberson, 66. Writer of of fantasy and historical romances. The Chronicles of the Cheysuli is her fantasy series about shapeshifters and their society, and the Sword-Dancer Saga is the desert based adventure series of sort, but the series I’ve enjoyed is her Sherwood duo-logy that consists of Lady of the Forest and Lady of Sherwood which tells the Robin Hood tale from the perspective of Marian. Her hobby, which consumes much of her time, is breeding and showing Cardigan Welsh Corgis. (CE)
  • Born October 26, 1960 Patrick Breen, 60. He’s Redgick, a Squid,  a minor character that appeared in Men in Black. In beloved Galaxy Quest, he’s Quellek, a Thermian who forms a bond with Alexander Dane. it’s a wonderful role. And he has a recurring role as Larry Your-Waiter, a member of V.F.D. on A Series of Unfortunate Events series. (CE) 
  • Born October 26, 1960 – David LaRochelle, 60.  A score of children’s books, many with fantasy elements.  Also an amazing astounding stellar thrilling pumpkin carver; see here.  [JH]
  • Born October 26, 1962 Cary Elwes, 58. He’s in the ever-so-excellent Princess Bride as Westley / Dread Pirate Roberts / The Man in Black. He also shows up in Dr. Lawrence Gordon in the Saw franchise, and was cast as Larry Kline, Mayor of Hawkins, for the third season of Stranger Things. (CE) 
  • Born October 26, 1969 – Mary Ting, 51.  A score of novels; taught a score of years, toured with the Magic Johnson Foundation.  Makes Twilight-themed jewelry.  Besides husband, children, has two dogs Mochi and Mocha.  [JH]
  • Born October 26, 1971 Anthony Rapp, 49. Lieutenant Commander Paul Stamets on the most Discovery series . His first role ever was Wes Hansen in Sky High, and he showed up early in his career as Jeff Glaser in the “Detour” episode of X-Files. He was Seymour Krelbourn in a national tour of Little Shop of Horrors. (CE) 
  • Born October 26, 1972 – Zetta Elliott, Ph.D., 48.  Five novels, seven shorter stories for us; poetry; essays; plays; children’s illustrated books under her Rosetta Press.  “I write as much for parents as I do for their children because sometimes adults need the simple instruction a picture book can provide.” [JH]
  • Born October 26, 1973 Seth MacFarlane, 47. Ok, I confess that I tried watching the Orville which he created and is in and it just didn’t appeal to me. For those of you who are fans, why do you like it? I’ll must admit that having it described as trying to be a better Trek ain’t helping. (CE)
  • Born October 26, 1975 – David Walton, 45.  Author and engineer.  Seven novels, a dozen shorter stories.  Baen Memorial Award, Campbell Memorial Award, Philip K. Dick Award.  Plays chess and go.  “Science fiction can show us the viewpoints of people whose lives and experiences are so far away from ours that … our minds are stretched and our vision is expanded.”  [JH]

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro finds law enforcement pondering why no pumpkin is safe!
  • Yesterday’s Bizarro recalls that time Sesame Street fought for its independence. (Just when was that, anyway?)
  • Jonathan Muroya’s Greek Quarantology shows how all your favorite mythical figures are dealing with life during COVID-19.
  • After you take a look at this Wulffmorgenthaler cartoon for Denmark’s Politiken you’ll want a translation for the dialog (courtesy of Lise Andreasen):

“The death star is flat.”

“Actually, some of us believe, the death star is flat. That being round business is a conspiracy.”

(9) PIRANESI. Camestros Felapton promises substantial spoilers: “Review: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (substantial spoilers)”. See, what did I tell you?

This was a charming, thoughtful, often whimsical story full of a deep horror that at times wholly unnerved me. I’ll be discussing many key plot points and revelations….

(10) THE DOOM FROM THE SUN. [Item by Olav Rokne.] In a quirky bit of science news, astronomers recorded a large solar flare that happened to look like a prop from an old science fiction TV show… “NASA satellites capture massive ‘Doomsday machine’ solar flare”.

From the article: “The image of the explosion was described by some as the stuff of science fiction, specifically the Doomsday machine from Star Trek. Fortunately, the CME did not hit Earth.”

(11) SILENT GOLD. Leonard Maltin has a roundup of silent film releases — “Rare Silent Films On Blu-Ray And DVD”. One of them is the rediscovered 1916 version of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea.  The poster for this movie is very cool.

It’s not a typo: Universal produced a feature-length version of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in 1916, and the new DVD/Blu-ray release is a 4K transfer of the surviving material. Luckily for us, silent film historian Anthony Slide delivers a highly informative commentary track that tracks the careers of underwater-photography specialists Ernest and George Williamson. Indeed, it is their work that makes this release so intriguing, not the hackneyed mishmash of Verne’s famous story and The Mysterious Island. Alan Holubar, then a prominent actor about to turn director, and Jane Gail star. The music score is credited to Orlando Perez Rosso.

(12) SOL SEARCHING. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] A new way has been found to determine which stars are likely to host weird planetary systems and those stars likely to have planetary systems more like our own Solar system.

The following will appear in next season’s SF² Concatenation but they’ve shared it with File 770 now…

How many Solar system type planetary systems are there in our spiral arm? We may soon be finding out from new research.  Some planetary systems around stars are very unlike our Solar system. For example, they will have what are called hot Jupiters with a gas giant close to their star in an orbit similar to that of Mercury about our sun, rather than beyond the asteroid belt where Jupiter is in our system.

It had been thought that the type of planetary system that forms is determined by the star’s protoplanetary disk of gas and dust.  While this may be so, there is also another factor at play – whether the star formed in comparative isolation or along with loads of others in a stellar nursery.

Up to now it has been impossible to address this question as stars disperse (as the Galaxy rotates, spiral arms oscillate, local stellar conditions etc) from when they were born within a billion years of their formation.  However, ESA’s Gaia star mapping has helped British and German astronomers to determine that whether or not a star is born in a stellar nursery or more isolated by itself, is key to the type of planetary system it will host.

You see the Gaia probe not only maps stars positions, it does it so accurately that after a few years and the star is re-mapped, it is possible to discern its movement, velocity and direction.  What the researchers have found is that they can correlate those stars that seem to be moving more or less parallel to, and with a similar velocity, to other stars. These stars can be assumed to have a common birthplace in a stellar nursery. Other stars that have no movement correlation with others, can be assumed to have been born in comparative isolation. With this in mind, the astronomers looked at 600 stars Gaia had mapped.

What the astronomers found was that systems with hot Jupiters tend to be formed in crowded stellar nurseries, while those with gas giants further from their star almost invariably saw the star’s birth in comparative isolation: there were few such systems with hot Jupiters – a hot Jupiter system was roughly ten times more likely in a star born in a stellar nursery.

As the researchers themselves point out, their discovery has “possible implications for planetary habitability and the likelihood of life in the Universe” questions.  (See Winter, A. J., Kruijssen, J. M. D., Longmore S. N & Chevance, M. (2020) Stellar clustering shapes the architecture of planetary systemsNaturevol. 586, p528-532.)

Planetary systems around stars born in stellar nurseries less likely to have Solar System type planetary arrangement, but will be more likely to have hot Jupiters.

(13) MANDO MERCH. “This RC Baby Yoda Waddles Around Your House Like a 50-Year-Old Toddler” io9 writes that like it’s a bad thing!

…Available this fall for $60, the Star Wars: The Mandalorian the Child “Real Moves Plush” stands 11 inches tall, so it’s slightly smaller than the animatronic figure used in the series. Mattel still managed to stuff it full of electronics, including authentic sound effects and motors to bring it to life.

The Child’s head can turn from side to side, and look up and down while it’s giant ears wiggle, and all the mechanisms are hidden under a flexible outer skin, which makes sense when you say it, but out of context feels like a horrifying thing to say about a baby. His tiny, snuggly robes can also be further adorned with an included Mythosaur skull pendant, like the one gifted to him by Din Djarin at the end of the first season.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Olav Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Joey Eschrich, Lise Andreasen, Jeff Smith, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ.]

Pixel Scroll 10/19/20 We Keep Our Cats As Happy As We Can

(1) OOR WOMBAT KNOWS HOW TO WRITE HORROR. Kansas City’s The Pitch has Nick Spacek “Asking author Ursula Vernon to reveal what hides in The Hollow Places.

…Part of what makes Vernon’s books so terrifying is that they’re quite relatable. Told in the first person by rather chummy narrators who immediately become something like your best friends, The Twisted Ones‘ Mouse and The Hollow Places‘ Kara feel like folks you’d love to get to know better, making each page in both books an absolute treat.

“Horror is sufficiently immediate and visceral that you spend a lot of time thinking, ‘What would I do in this situation?’” Vernon explains her style. “It has to be very immediate, so that the reader isn’t yelling, ‘Don’t go in there!’ when they’re about to open the door. You don’t want that. You want people to relate to why they’re making these choices. You need a pressing reason why they will stay in this situation that is obviously bad. Things are going down, so it has to be a believable reason.”

She points to the fact that in The Twisted Ones, Mouse doesn’t want to leave her dog behind, and I concur, pointing to the fact that much of The Hollow Places is due to the fact that Kara’s Uncle Earl is still recovering and Kara doesn’t want to abandon him.

“That’s why people stay in scary situations,” Vernon agrees. “I think that’s a more relatable reason than something I don’t actually believe. People stay in situations either because they’re too poor to leave, they have nowhere to go, or there’s someone they just can’t bear to leave behind. You got to have the personal stakes.”

 (2) MARS MY DESTINATION. Tesmanian listens in as “Elon Musk shares SpaceX Starship plans at the Mars Society Convention”.

SpaceX’s founder Elon Musk was a guest at a the virtual International Mars Society Convention on Friday, October 16 (full video below). During the conference, he held a discussion with Mars Society founder Robert Zubrin. –“I think we want to be on track to become a multiplanet species and a spacefaring civilization, in order to […] ensure the continuance of consciousness as we know it,” Musk told Zubrin. “… As far as we know… we could be the only life.”

When Zubrin asked about Starship, SpaceX’s next-generation launch vehicle, Musk said he will manufacture many iterations of the vehicle. Starship will be capable of transporting tons of cargo and one hundred passengers to space destinations. It is actively under development at Boca Chica Beach in South Texas. Musk talked about the challenges SpaceX faced to develop the Falcon rocket, stating that he expects to have Starship failures throughout its development before reaching orbit.

Musk told Zubrin that Starship is being designed to enable a self-sustaining ‘city’ on Mars. “If the ships from Earth stop coming for any reason, does Mars die out?…” he said. So, Starship must be reusable and capable of carrying all the resources needed to aid humans’ survival on the Red Planet. Musk stated SpaceX’s goal is to get enough people and tonnage to the Martian surface ‘as soon as possible’, –“Are we creating a city on Mars … before any possible World War three… […]” — He told Zubrin he hopes to takes humans to Mars before any nuclear war, asteroid strike, any potential disaster threatens humanity’s existence.

(3) ANTE AND DEAL. If you didn’t catch it live, here’s a video of the latest Wild Cards panel.

Join five of the Wild Cards authors as they discuss what it’s like to write in a shared universe series and how exactly the Wild Cards Consortium works. Featuring Melinda Snodgrass, Paul Cornell, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Kevin Andrew Murphy, and David Levine.

(4) EMPLOYMENT IN TIMES OF PANDEMIC. “‘I worked in horror films. Now I’m an undertaker’: arts workers who had to find new jobs”The Guardian tells how entertainment industry workers are adapting.

For many workers who would ordinarily be earning a living in theatres, live music venues and nightclubs, which largely still remain closed in the UK, however, retraining has been a harsh reality since they lost their jobs in March. Countless creatives have already been forced to find other income to make ends meet, while a recent report found that 34% of musicians alone had thought about hanging up their instruments for good. Here we meet some of the people who’ve added some unusual strings to their bow during the pandemic …

‘In undertaking, you get to drive luxury cars’

Paris Rivers: SFX technician turned undertaker
Paris Rivers is on the phone from a cemetery in London, where he has just done a cremation. Formerly a special effects technician in film and TV, as well as a cabaret performer, he became an undertaker at the start of lockdown. Last week, he had to help dress the body of a man who had died from stab wounds. Even more shocking was seeing a child’s brain. “I’m doing a job that most people wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole,” he says. “But a lot of us didn’t have any alternatives.” Besides, he adds, “when people ask, ‘What did you do during 2020?’ I can say I was there on the frontlines.”

Rivers, 31, was “really scared and desperate for work” when Covid-19 hit and by chance, had a friend who was working in one of the temporary morgues set up at the beginning of the pandemic. After working there for two months, he contacted funeral homes to see whether anyone would take him on as a funeral service operator. He’s been transporting ashes, cadavers and coffins ever since. Compared with being on a film set, he says, the job is relatively “stress-free”.

“It’s strangely relaxing,” Rivers explains. “You get to go to beautiful cemeteries, wear a nice suit, drive luxury cars. Some people are shocked by the ick factor, but I started in horror films, so I find this fascinating. And how many people who work in horror films have actually worked around death? I feel this will be helpful for me in the long run.”

Even when the film industry starts back up properly, Rivers says, he’ll continue as an undertaker part-time. The job has inspired him in other ways, too. “I’m developing an Elvira-esque cryptkeeper,” he says of a character that he plans to bring to the stage. There will, of course, be “lots of black humour”.

(5) WIZARDS SUED. “Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman sue Wizards of the Coast after it abandons new Dragonlance trilogy” reports Boing Boing.

Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, creators of the Dragonlance fantasy mythos, are suing Wizards of the Coast after the company ditched a licensing deal for the latest books in the long-running series.

Filed in district court in Seattle, the lawsuit [Scribd, PDF] was first reported by Cecilia D’Anastasio. The lawsuit claims that WoTC breached their contract without explanation and in “stunning and brazen bad faith”, despite having been intimately involved in the development of the new work, approving a trilogy’s worth of characters, storylines and scenes and signing with a publisher, Penguin Random House.

The lawsuit claims $10m in damages.

Weis and Hickman created Dragonlance, set within the broad ambit of WoTC’s Dungeons & Dragons role-playing franchise, in the 1980s. Its lively mix of colorful heroes and epic drama was a hit with gamers and readers, growing into a sprawling shared universe fleshed out by many authors, artists and designers. According to the lawsuit, Weis and Hickman agreed with Wizards of the Coast to produce the new novels in 2017, capping off the series and giving fans a final sendoff.

But the company pulled the plug in August 2020—and Weis and Hickman blame controversies at WoTC itself….

(6) TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN TV SHOW. This sff production went more quietly. NPR delivers the eulogy: “‘The Venture Bros.’ Creators On The Show’s Legacy, Its Fans — And Its Cancellation”.

An era of American television ended in September.

Its death came quietly, with news of its passing drowned out from all sides by crumbling institutions, environmental disasters, a historic pandemic and pervasive social unrest. As with all matters of public interest in 2020, its demise was announced via Twitter.

After spanning three presidencies and surviving several cultural sea changes, The Venture Bros. was cancelled after 17 years on the air.

If you’ve never heard of the animated series despite its longevity, you’re far from alone: Neither the half-hour comedy nor its home, Cartoon Network’s late night programming block Adult Swim, are often mentioned in the same breath as HBO and AMC or what’s conventionally viewed as “prestige TV.”

The Venture Bros. began airing its first season in 2004. It followed Dr. Thaddeus S. “Rusty” Venture, his sons Hank and Dean — the titular brothers of the program — and bodyguard Brock Samson on episodic romps in the action-adventure and science fiction vein…

(7) EARLY WARNING. The New York Times tells how Disney unabashedly apologizes and monetizes when it comes to some of its animated classics: “Disney Adds Warnings for Racist Stereotypes to Some Older Films”.

The 1953 film “Peter Pan” portrays Indigenous people “in a stereotypical manner” and refers to them repeatedly with a slur, according to Disney.Disney

They are classic animated films like “Dumbo” (1941) and “Peter Pan” (1953), but on Disney’s streaming service they will now get a little help to stand the test of time.

Before viewers watch some of these films that entertained generations of children, they will be warned about scenes that include “negative depictions” and “mistreatment of people or cultures.”

The 12-second disclaimer, which cannot be skipped, tells viewers, in part: “These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.”

In addition to “Peter Pan” and “Dumbo,” the warning plays on films including “The Aristocats” (1970) and “Aladdin” (1992), and directs viewers to a website that explains some of the problematic scenes.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • October 19, 2010 — On this day in 2010 in the United Kingdom, the BBC’s adaption of H.G. Wells’ The First Men In The Moon premiered on BBC Four. This film was written by Mark Gatiss, directed by Damon Thomas, it stars Gatiss as Cavor and Rory Kinnear as Bedford, with Alex Riddell, Peter Forbes, Katherine Jakeways, Lee Ingleby and Julia Deakin. It ends with a tribute to Lionel Jeffries, who played Cavor in the 1964 feature film, and who died earlier that year. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give a so-so forty five percent rating. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 19, 1889 – Miguel Asturias.  A novel and a few shorter stories for us, maybe more; nine novels all told, story collections, poetry.  A Kind of Mulatto (tr. English as Mulatto and Mr. Fly) called “a carnival incarnated….  a collision between Mayan Mardi Gras and Hispanic baroque”.  In Men of Maize (Eng. in UNESCO Collection of Representative Works) a postman turns into a coyote, his people into ants, “written in the form of a myth….  experimental, ambitious, and difficult to follow.”  Nobel Prize in Literature.  (Died 1974) [JH]
  • Born October 19, 1909 Robert Beatty. He’s best known for being in 2001: A Space Odyssey as Dr. Ralph Halvorsen. He played General Cutler in “The Tenth Planet,”  a Third Doctor story, and was General Halstead in The Martian Chronicles. He was in Superman III and Superman IV, respectively playing a tanker captain and the U.S. President. (Died 1992.) (CE)
  • Born October 19, 1940 Michael Gambon, 80. Actor on stage and screen from Ireland who is best known to genre fans as Professor Albus Dumbledore from the Hugo-nominated Harry Potter films (a role he picked up after the passing of Richard Harris, who played the character in the first two films), but also had roles in Toys (for which he received a Saturn nomination), Mary ReillySleepy Hollow, and the Hugo finalist Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He has had guest roles in episodes of The Jim Henson HourDoctor Who, and Tales of the Unexpected, and played an acerbic storyteller and possibly tomb robber in Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. He has also done voice roles in animated features including Fantastic Mr. FoxPaddington, and The Wind in the Willows, in which he voiced very nicely The Badger. (CE) 
  • Born October 19, 1943 – Peter Weston, F.N.  Founded Birmingham SF Group.  Fanzines Zenith, renamed SpeculationProlapse, renamed Relapse.  Reviewed fanzines for Vector as “Malcolm Edwards”, confusing when a real ME appeared later, indeed each chairing Worldcons (PW the 37th).  TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate.  Doc Weir Award (British; for service).  Fan Guest of Honor at Boskone 37, Eastercon 53, Noreascon 4 the 62nd Worldcon.  Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service).  Lifetime Achievement Award at Corflu 32 (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid).  His foundry cast the rockets of the Hugo Awards trophies.  (Died 2017)
  • Born October 19, 1945 John Lithgow, 75. He enters SF fame as Dr. Emilio Lizardo / Lord John Whorfin in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. He’ll later be in Santa Claus: The MovieHarry and the HendersonsShrekRise of the Planet of the ApesInterstellar and the remake of Pet Sematary. He was on television’s Third Rock from the Sun for six seasons. Oh, and he voiced The White Rabbit on the Once Upon a Time in Wonderland series! (CE)
  • Born October 19, 1943 L.E. Modesitt, Jr., 77. Writer of more than 70 novels and 10 different series, the best known of which is his fantasy series The Saga of Recluce. He has been Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, including a World Fantasy Convention. (CE) 
  • Born October 19, 1946 Philip Pullman, 74. I’ll confess that I like his Sally Lockhart mysteries, both the original versions and the Billie Piper-led series,  far more than I enjoy the Dark Materials series as there’s a freshness and imagination at work there I don’t see in the latter. Oh, some of the latter is quite good — I quite enjoyed Lyra’s Oxford and Once Upon a Time in The North. (CE) 
  • Born October 19, 1948 – Jerry Kaufman, 72.  New York fan, then Seattle.  DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegate.  Fanzines with Suzanne Tompkins, The Spanish InquisitionMainstreamLittlebrook.  Also Sweetmeats (Sandra Miesel collection); The Best of Susan WoodThe Portable Carl Brandon; final issue of Innuendo (with Robert Lichtman).  Frequent loccer (loc = letter of comment) to fanzines.  Fan Guest of Honor at Balticon 10, Rustycon 1, Minicon 26, Westercon 44, Boskone 34.  [JH]
  • Born October 19, 1961 – Mike Manley, 59.  Draws The Phantom (daily since 30 May 16; Sundays by Jeff Weige), also Judge Parker (since 23 Feb 10).  Worked at Marvel (Spider-Man; co-created Darkhawk), DC (Batman, did 500th issue; Superman), Warner Bros. (Kids WB BatmanSuperman).  Plein air painter.  Teacher.  See his Weblog Draw!  [JH]
  • Born October 19, 1964 – Kathleen Cheney, 56.  A dozen novels, thirty shorter stories.  Here is her cover for her own collection Shared Dreams.  Taught math through calculus, coached the Academics and Robotics teams, sponsored the chess club.  Fences with foil and saber.  Gardener.  Two large hairy dogs.  [JH]
  • Born October 19, 1966 Roger Cross, 54. Actor from Jamaica who moved to Canada. He played a lead role in the series Continuum and has had parts in genre films The Chronicles of RiddickWar for the Planet of the Apes, the remake of The Day the Earth Stood StillX2Doomsday RockVoyage of TerrorThe Void, and the adaptations of Dean Koontz’ Hideaway and Sole Survivor. (CE)
  • Born October 19, 1982 – Jenny Bellington, 38.  One novel so far, about a boy whose gift is making maps.  More in the works.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) GOOD NEWS, FEATURING BABY YODA. The Washington Post traces the beginnings of a legend: “A boy gave a Baby Yoda to crews battling Oregon wildfires. They lovingly passed it among firefighters, across state lines.”

Sasha Tinning took her 5-year-old grandson, Carver, grocery shopping earlier this month to buy granola bars and other snacks to contribute to a donation drive for firefighters battling wildfires in Oregon.

But when Tinning ended up in the toy aisle that day, Sept. 12, her eyes — and Carver’s — were drawn to a Baby Yoda doll, the last one on the shelf.“I said, ‘The firefighters could use a friend, couldn’t they?’ ” said Tinning, 54, who lives in Scappoose, Ore., about 20 miles north of Portland.

“He would be a very good friend for them,” she recalled Carver saying.

They agreed that volunteer firefighters needed “The Force” more than anyone. So instead of buying granola bars and nuts, they picked up Baby Yoda — also known as the Child — from the popular Star Wars series “The Mandalorian.”

On their way home, they stopped by a donation tent for firefighters with the big-eyed, pointy-eared doll in hand. Tinning helped Carver write a quick note on a piece of scrap paper she found in her car trunk:“Thank you, firefighters,” it read. “Here is a friend for you, in case you get lonely. Love, Carver.”

Tyler Eubanks, a 34-year-old horse dental technician who was working in the donation booth that afternoon, showed the note and Baby Yoda to a few other volunteers. They all started crying, she said.

“The fires were close to us, and everyone was really high on emotion,” said Eubanks. “We were all really touched that Carver wanted to give a companion to the men and women who were out there risking their lives to fight the wildfires.”

Eubanks brought Baby Yoda to some firefighters who were helping in the effort to contain the 25-acre Unger Road Fire near Colton, Ore. She snapped a few photos of the fire crew with the doll so that she could send them to Carver, and thought that would be the end of it.

“But then the firefighters said, ‘We want to take him with us,’ ” Eubanks said.

So they did. And when they came upon other fire crews and showed off their Baby Yoda, those firefighters asked if they could have him for a while. The answer was yes.

“Before I knew it, Baby Yoda was out there traveling the universe,” Eubanks said.

Eubanks quickly came up with the idea to start a Facebook page — Baby Yoda Fights Fires — to chronicle the adventures of the Child.

More than 26,000 people now follow the page, which is full of photos of Baby Yoda hanging out with firefighters on the front lines of wildfires in Oregon and Colorado, and relaxing in fire base camps.

(12) HANGING OUT WITH THE DEAD. BBC Radio 4’s series A Natural History of Ghosts kicks off with an episode about “Ancient Ghosts”

‘When was the first time a human felt haunted?’

Kirsty Logan travels back to the world’s earliest civilisations to uncover where tales of ghosts first emerged.

From the earliest evidence of belief in an afterlife, seen in decorated bones in early grave sites, to Ancient Egyptian letters to the dead, and predatory Chindi unleashed to wreak deadly vengeance in the snowy wastes of North America, Kirsty tells the tales of the spirits that haunted our most ancient forebears, and became the common ancestor for ghost stories across all of human history.

(13) HARD CHARGING. “Die Hard’s Bruce Willis reprises John McClane role for unusual commercial”Digital Spy has the story.

…Now Bruce Willis has reprised the role once again, only this time it’s for… a car battery commercial?

The ad, for the DieHard Battery from Advance Auto Parts, sees John McClane crash through a window, escape through an air vent and face off against the villainous Theo, played by a returning Clarence Gilyard Jr.

De’voreaux White also reprises his role as driver Argyle, and steals the “yipee ki yay” line from Willis, who is probably glad that he didn’t have to say it.

(14) THE UNFORSEEN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Ethan Alter, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story “MVPs of Horror: How ‘The Simpsons’ creators added COVID-19 masks to this year’s ‘Treehouse of Horror'” says Simpsons writers were already planning an election segment for this year’s Treehouse of Horror, but added jokes about masks (which everyone in Springfield wears except for Homer).  Next year’s Treehouse is already in development, and will include a segment based on the Oscar-winning film Parasite.

When the staff of The Simpsons sat down to write the thirty-first edition of the show’s annual “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween anthology in 2019, they knew that the 2020 Presidential election would be the scariest subject they could tackle. That’s why “Treehouse of Horror XXXI,” which airs Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. on Fox, opens with an election parody that’s not for the faint of heart. “We predict what will happen on January 20 if people like Homer don’t smarten up a little,” longtime Simpsons showrunner, Al Jean, teased during the all-star The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror at Paley Front Row 2020. “Amazingly, most of it was written a year ago, and all of it still seems true!” (Watch the panel above.)

Simpsons fans know that the show has a knack for seeing into the future, whether it was predicting President Donald Trump back in 2000 or calling the winners of multiple Super Bowls. But there’s one thing that the writers didn’t predict while writing their own 2020 election parody: that Americans would be casting ballots for either President Trump or Vice President Joe Biden during the midst of a deadly pandemic….

(15) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Food & Wine found a portal story in the candy section of the store: “Reese’s Created a Roving, Remote-Controlled Door to Help Make Trick-or-Treating Safer This Halloween”.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full force, this year’s Halloween celebrations will look significantly different than they did in 2019. Trick-or-treating, specifically, is problematic as attempting to visit as many neighbors as possible in a single night is pretty much the opposite of staying “bubbled.” But major candy brands are doing what they can to keep the Halloween spirit alive with interesting interpretations on how to make trick-or-treating coronavirus-friendly.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are a Halloween favorite, and for 2020, the always inventive brand is introducing an over-the-top new candy delivery system: the Reese’s Trick- or-Treat Door. This robotic door uses voice-recognition technology to deliver candy hands-free. When the remote-controlled, nine-foot-tall front door (lamps and all!) uses its three motors to lumber your way, simply say “trick-or-treat,” and a Bluetooth speaker should know it’s time to spit out a king-size Reese’s candy bar via a retractable shelf in the mail slot.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Bill Wagner, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, N., SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 10/2/20 In The Case Of An Emergency Landing, Your Pixel May Be Used As A Scroll

(1) 2020 DONATION. Literary Hub reports “Namwali Serpell will donate Clarke Prize money to those protesting Breonna Taylor’s murder.”

Within an hour of hearing that she had won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, a top honor given to science fiction published in the UK, Namwali Serpell also heard the news that the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor would not be charged for her murder.

“I received these two pieces of news about being a black woman in 2020 and it felt like a kind of whiplash, but it’s a feeling I’ve grown used to,” she told the BBC. “So I’ve been trying to figure out how to acknowledge both the honor that this award grants to my novel and the feeling that the political revolution I’m describing in the novel is yet to come.”

She decided to donate her prize money, £2,020.00, to the Louisville Community Bail Fund, with the goal of helping those who have been detained while protesting Breonna Taylor’s death….

(2) THE WHOLE TRUTH. Ross Showalter says “Writing Fantasy Lets Me Show the Whole Truth of Disability” at Electric Lit.

…I tried to find a replacement for a show I’d outgrown. I wanted to find representation, something that could comfort and validate me as I move through a world that doesn’t accommodate me. I couldn’t find anything that reflected my real experience.

What I found instead was horror and fantasy.

Instead of real-world dramas like Switched at Birth, I started watching darker fare like Hannibal and Teen Wolf. Even though I couldn’t relate specifically to lycanthropy or hyper-empathy that borders on telepathy, I related with the emotional arcs these shows presented; both shows follow their protagonist trying to find their place in a world that either persecuted them or paid them little attention. I found myself rapt at the way they presented identity and community. Both Hannibal’s blood-soaked surrealism and Teen Wolf’s paranormal fantasy hit harder—and felt more relevant to my experience—than any realistic portrayal of deafness I found.

(3) RHIANNA ON RADIO. Today’s BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour has an interview with Rhianna Pratchett, the fantasy games designer and author, about her work, her latest book and includes a bit on her life with dad.. Rhianna’s interview is about 35 minutes in. The program can be downloaded as an .mp3

(4) KGB. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB readings on October 21 with Joe Hill and Laird Barron will be livestreamed on YouTube at 7 p.m. Eastern. Link forthcoming.

Joe Hill

Joe Hill is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Full ThrottleStrange Weather, and The Fireman, among others. Much of his work has been adapted or is in development for film and TV. His third novel NOS4A2 was the basis for the AMC program of the same name, while his comic Locke & Key — co-created with artist Gabriel Rodriguez — is now a hit series for Netflix. The fall sees the release of five graphic novels under his Hill House Comics imprint with DC, including his own Basketful of Heads and Plunge.

Laird Barron

Laird Barron spent his early years in Alaska. He is the author of several books, including The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us AllSwift to Chase, and Worse Angels. His work has also appeared in many magazines and anthologies. Barron currently resides in the Rondout Valley writing stories about the evil that men do.

(5) SNOWBALL EFFECT. A lesson in keeping the work working for you, “The Big Idea: Jane Yolen” at Whatever.

… And sometimes magic happens. A poem turns into a picture book. A short story turns into a novel. A novel or a picture book turn into films or tv shows. The magic is not the turning, it is in the money! As my late agent said, “It can’t be reprinted unless it’s printed.” Which made me understand why sometimes you can sell an 8-line poem for a hundred dollars and someone pays $10,000 to reprint it. This actually happened to me. Once. But once is enough for a story and a moral lesson.

But if you write a lot of short stuff…it can become BIG. And what was a small idea (a scary story in Asimov’s magazine, another two or three in various Datlow anthologies, or Greenberg anthologies, or…And suddenly you have a Big Idea—a collection. 

(6) NOT THE END. “On Reengaging with Franz Kafka’s Astonishing Worlds” as encouraged by LitHub.

…Unofficial and incomplete texts are nothing new to readers of Franz Kafka; the problems of textual authority haunt nearly all his work. Kafka’s aesthetic practice cultivates a resistance to finality and what Judith Butler calls a “poetics of non-arrival.” The bulk of the literary output he left to posterity, as Michael Hofmann notes, “ends” rather than “finishes.” More crucially, all of Kafka’s novels, and a considerable haul of his short stories, beast fables, and aphorisms, owe their existence to Max Brod’s refusal to honor his best friend’s wish and burn all the manuscripts in his possession (unlike Kafka’s last lover Dora Dymant, who destroyed those in her keeping). The material in The Lost Writings is no more fringe or “lost” than any other unfinished text like The CastleThe TrialAmerikaThe Great Wall of China,” “Investigations of a Dog,” or “The Burrow,” since Kafka’s publication history has been determined by the accidents of editorial preferences and decisions over the last century.

Regardless, Kafka, along with his editorial and translational collaborators, is one of our most prolific contemporary writers… 

(7) C.S. LEWIS READINGS. On the Marion E. Wade Center blog David C. Downing writes about the availability of “The ‘Lost’ C. S. Lewis Tapes on the Ransom Trilogy and Chaucer” to listeners.

The only thing better than reading C.S. Lewis’s novels would be listening to Lewis himself read from his novels. It is now possible to hear Lewis reading from both Perelandra (1943) and That Hideous Strength (1945). Additionally, Lewis fans can listen to him reading the famous opening section of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in resonant Middle English.

The Marion E. Wade Center, in partnership with the Rabbit Room, is releasing all three segments of “The Lost Lewis Tapes” to the public. Excerpts of the tapes, along with in-depth analysis of the Ransom trilogy, are available for free on the Wade Center Podcast. All three segments (45-minutes in total) are now available in the Rabbit Room store.

These tracks were first recorded at Lewis’s home, the Kilns, in August 1960. After Joy Davidman Lewis passed away in July 1960, her former husband, Bill Gresham, traveled to Oxford to see his two sons, David, 16, and Douglas, 14, as well as to meet Lewis face to face. Gresham brought a portable tape recorder with him and apparently asked Lewis if he would do some readings….

(8) SAFETY FIRST. The mask makes a good point.

(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

October 1920 — The Belgian detective Hercule Poirot  first appeared in Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which was published by John Lane in hardback though the first true publication was as a weekly serial in The Times which included the maps of the house and other illustrations included in the book. This novel would be one of the first ten books published by Penguin Books when it began publishing in 1935. If you need a genre connection, David Suchet who played the most popular Poirot showed up in the Twelfth Doctor story, “The Landlord”, and Agatha Christie herself is portrayed in the Tenth Doctor story, “The Unicorn and The Wasp”.  

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 2, 1885 – Ruth Bryan Owen.  Pioneer filmmaker, first woman U.S. ambassador (to Denmark; appointed by F.D. Roosevelt).  Collected Scandinavian fairy tales, The Castle in the Silver Wood.  Many adventures at home and abroad.  Wikipedia entry here.  (Died 1954) [JH]
  • Born October 2, 1906 – Willy Ley.  Early student of rocket science.  Gifted author of science-fact articles, two Hugos for them.  Fled Nazi Germany 1935.  Rockets (1944); The Conquest of Space (1949, with Chesley Bonestell).  Science column in Galaxy 1951-1969.  Rockets, Missiles, and Space Travel (1957).  Regular participant at SF cons; sole Guest of Honor at Philcon II the 11th Worldcon.  One novel; four shorter stories under another name.  Much more in and out of our field.  (Died 1969) [JH]
  • Born October 2, 1909 – Alex Raymond.  Outstanding pro artist for us with Flash Gordon.  After combat service in the U.S. Marines, drew the also excellent Rip Kirby (detective fiction; won a Reuben).  Eisner Hall of Fame, Soc. Illustrators Hall of Fame.  (Died 1956) [JH]
  • Born October 2, 1911 Jack Finney. Author of many novels but only a limited number of genre, to wit The Body SnatchersTime and Again and From Time to Time. He would publish About Time, a short story collection which hah the time stories, “The Third Level” and “I Love Galesburg in the Springtime”. (Died 1995.) (CE) 
  • Born October 2, 1944 Vernor Vinge, 76. Winner of five Hugo Awards, none for what I consider his best series which is the Realtime/Bobble series. I’m also very fond of his short fiction, much of which is collected in The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge, though the last eighteen years’ worth of his work remain uncollected as far as I can tell. (CE) 
  • Born October 2, 1947 – Ann Broomhead, F.N., 73.  Chaired two Boskones (22 & 51), co-chaired two (12 & 33).  Edited Reynolds, Deep Navigation Co-edited (with Tim Szczesuil) Bellairs, Magic Mirrors; Dozois and others, Strange Days; Stross, Scratch Monkey.  Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service award).  [JH]
  • Born October 2, 1948 Avery Brooks, 71. Obviously he’s got his Birthday write-up for being Benjamin Sisko on Deep Space Nine, but I’m going to note his superb work also as Hawk on Spenser: For Hire and its spinoff A Man Called Hawk which are aren’t even genre adjacent. He retired from video after DS9 but is an active tenured theater professor at Rutgers. (CE)
  • Born October 2, 1968 – Range Murata, 52.  Animémanga, video games.  Seiun for Best Artist of the Year, 2006.  Character designer on Last Exile, see here.  A 2015 interview (in English) here.  [JH]
  • Born October 2, 1953 Walter Jon Williams, 67. The last thing I read by him was his most excellent Dagmar Shaw series which I highly recommend. I also like his Metropolitan novels, be that SF or fantasy, as well as his Hardwired series. I’m am surprised how few Awards that he’s won, just three with two Nebulas,  both for shorter works, “Daddy’s World” and “The Green Leopard Plaque”, plus a Sidewise Award for “Foreign Devils”.  (CE) 
  • Born October 2, 1972 Graham Sleight, 48. He’s The Managing Editor of the third edition of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction which won the Hugo for Best Related Work at Chicon 7. He’s also a critic whose work can be found in LocusStrange HorizonsThe New York Review Of Science Fiction, and Vector. And he’s a Whovian who edited The Unsilent Library, a book of writings about the Russell Davies era of the show, and The Doctor’s Monsters: Meanings of the Monstrous in Doctor Who. (CE) 
  • Born October 2, 1974 Michelle Krusiec, 46. She was the eighteen-year-old Molly O’Brien in DS9’s “Time’s Orphan’s”. She had a recurring role as Nadine Park on the fourth season of Fringe, and appeared as Wu Mei on Community which we’ve agreed is almost genre, if not genre. She showed up on Supergirl as Natalie Hawkings in “Parasite Lost”. (CE) 
  • Born October 2, 1981 – Leah Wilson, 39.  Currently Editor-in-Chief for BenBella Books’ Smart Pop.  Here is an interview about Through the Wardrobe (i.e. C.S. Lewis’ Narnia) from Ben Bella’s Teen Libris.  Here is Boarding the “Enterprise”.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off The Mark has a genre take on mask wearing.
  • And xkcd has a brilliant chart comparing the effectiveness of various masks.

(12) QUINO MOURNED. Harrison Smith in the Washington Post has an obituary for Argentinian cartoonist Quino, who died on September 30 at age 88.  Quino’s strip “Mafalda,” which ran between 1964-1973, was a strip in the Peanuts style with sharp criticism of poverty, injustice, and political repression.

…When Mafalda spots workmen trying to locate a gas leaks, she asks: “Are you searching for our national roots?” In another sequence, Mafalda’s pet turtle is revealed to have an unusual name, Bureaucracy. When a friend asks why she gave it that name, Mafalda replies that she needs to come back the next day for more information. She can’t say exactly when.

“In Argentina I had to censor myself, because when I started to draw in Buenos Aires they clearly told me ‘no military, no religion, no sex,’ ” Quino once said, according to the Agence France-Presse. “And then I talked about all that, but in another way.”

(13) KEEPING TRACK. The Digital Antiquarian revisits the triumph of Chris Sawyer’s Transport Tycoon. (I sure spent plenty of hours playing it.)

…So, while he was waiting for his better-known colleagues to send him the next chunks of their own games for conversion to MS-DOS, Sawyer began to tinker. By the time Elite II was wrapping up, he had an ugly but working demo of an enhanced version of Railroad Tycoon which did indeed shift the viewpoint from vertically overhead to isometric. “I decided to devote all my time to the game for a few months and see what developed,” he says. He convinced a talented free-lance artist named Simon Foster, who was already an established name in commercial graphics but was looking to break into games, to provide illustrations, even as he made the bold decision to step up to cutting-edge SVGA graphics, at more than twice the resolution of standard VGA. At the end of that few months, he was more convinced than ever that he had a winner on his hands: “Even people who didn’t normally play computer games would sit for hours on end, totally engrossed in building railway lines, routing trains, and making as much profit as possible.” He soon made his train simulator into an all-encompassing transportation simulator, adding trucks and buses, ships and ferries, airplanes and even helicopters.

(14) CHILD SIGHTING. Michael Clair, in “Baby Yoda is a Braves fan” on mlb.com, says that Baby Yoda made an appearance in Atlanta during the Red-Braves playoff series, accompanied by Braves mascot Blooper cosplaying as “The Mandabloopian.”

(15) SPARTACUS’ CITYSCAPE. Hollywood’s Academy Museum will showcase one of cinema’s most impressive examples of matte painting: a detailed portrayal of ancient Rome, used in Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus (1960): “Preserving a Vanishing Art: Peter Ellenshaw’s Spartacus Matte Painting”.

…Matte paintings are everywhere in movies. Picture the vast, secret government warehouse that closes Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), or the image of the Statue of Liberty, half-buried in sand at the end of Planet of the Apes (1968). Or the view of London and the River Thames that unfolds behind Mary Poppins as she rises, umbrella in hand.

This detailed portrayal of ancient Rome, used in Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus (1960), was painted with oils on glass by Peter Ellenshaw. Using Ellenshaw’s painting, the director framed groups of actors moving about the faux Roman city, which includes details of the Parthenon, Temple of Athena, and other well-known buildings. Black blobs on the painting indicate where the director inserted these actions into his film.

…Ellenshaw’s son, Harrison, who enjoyed his own career as a matte painter, estimates the Spartacus piece took his father eight to ten hours, spread over several weeks. “He would work on more than one at a time,” he remembers. “The schedule was based on making the deadline for the final negative cut in time to make enough prints for the film’s release.”

Now more than 60 years old, Ellenshaw’s Spartacus painting needed some conservation before going on display. Before replacing a yellowing varnish layer with a new, UV-protecting one, Kathryn Harada, an L.A.-based paintings conservator, worked to repair cracks in the glass and paint. When conservators discovered that Ellenshaw himself had retouched the painting, years ago, they chose to preserve his efforts….

(16) OUT OF THE PARK. Yahoo! News sets the frame as “Jeff Goldblum Recreates Sensual ‘Jurassic Park’ Scene With Sam Neill”.

…Just a couple days ago, Jeff Goldblum promised that he’d recreate one of his scenes from “Jurassic Park” if 1,000 people would “register to vote, or check your registration status, or request a mail-in ballot.” On Friday, his character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, was back.

“That was fast!” Goldblum wrote on Instagram, posting a video recreating his famous “chaos theory” scene from the 1993 movie. In the original moment, he dropped water gently on Laura Dern’s hand. In the recreation, he’s got a different scene partner.

(17) MORE NEEDLES FOR YOUR TREE. Grandma’s Gift Shop pulls together some of the year’s dominant themes in their 2020 Commemorative Christmas Tree Ornament.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “William Shatner feat. Pat Travers ‘I Put A Spell On You'” on YouTube is an animated film by Balazs Grof of a track from Shat’s new blues album featuring Shatner’s take on the classic Screamin’ Jay Hawkins song.

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