Pixel Scroll 1/17/21 He Was A File, She Was A Scroll, Can I Make It Any More Obvious?

(1) NICHOLAS WHYTE TAKES ON 2021 HUGO & SITE SELECTION DUTIES. DisCon III’s new WSFS Division Head is Nicholas Whyte, who announced on Facebook he is taking the place of Jared Dashoff, who resigned in response to the committee’s internal handling of some new Hugo policies that have since been revoked.

I have been appointed the new Division Head of the WSFS Division, which is the part of the Worldcon that admininsters the Hugo Awards, the Business Meeting which reviews the rules, and the Site Selection process for the 2023 Worldcon (currently contested between Chengdu, China and Memphis, Tennessee) – the three obligatory things that every Worldcon must do.

I was previously the Administrator of the Hugo Awards in 2017 and 2019, and one of the deputy administrators last year; and also Division Head for Promotions at the London Worldcon in 2014. I had not anticipated having any executive role this year, but life does not always work out as we expect.

The Hugos have had some reputational issues to deal with. Having fought off direct assault by ill-wishers in 2015 and 2016, some pretty significant mistakes were made more recently. Many of those were outside the immediate responsibility of the Hugo Administrators, including most notably the awful botching of last year’s Hugo ceremony and the Hugo Losers Party in 2019, and the hostile response from some in the community to the winners of the award for Best Related Work in both of those years (cases where I very much stand by the eligibility decisions that were made by teams that I was a part of).

I have made mistakes as well, and I hope that I have learned from them. In particular, it’s clear, not least from the problems that arose in the last few days, that the Hugos as a whole need to be less siloed and need to improve communication in both directions with the rest of the Worldcon and with the wider stakeholder community (as my work colleagues would put it). DisCon III had already started putting structures in place that would improve this side of things, and I look forward to working with those and building on them.

(2) OLDEST SFF BOOKSTORE. “At Bakka-Phoenix, the beloved sci-fi and fantasy bookstore, you can let your geek flag fly” in the Toronto Star.

In the summer of 1982, Margaret Atwood walked into Bakka Books looking for a copy of “The Hobbit.” Robert J. Sawyer, the celebrated Canadian science-fiction writer who was then working behind the counter, couldn’t believe his luck.

“It was pretty amazing — she knew all about the store and how we specialized in fantasy and science fiction,” Sawyer recalls of his encounter at the bookstore when it was in its first home on Queen Street near John Street.

Atwood’s visit to pick up some Tolkien was a testament to the role the bookstore (now named Bakka-Phoenix Science Fiction and Fantasy Bookstore) plays in the literary community — not just in Toronto but beyond city borders too. On the cusp of celebrating its 50th anniversary, Bakka-Phoenix is the oldest sci-fi and fantasy specialty bookstore in the world. It’s long been a hub for aficionados of a genre that is rarely awarded more than a couple of shelves at most big-box bookstores. It’s the kind of bookstore that’s for fans of space operas and dystopian fiction, for readers hungry for the latest William Gibson saga and for those on the prowl for a rare Harlan Ellison story collection. “Bakka has always been a mecca to me,” says Sawyer.

(3) CAPTAIN JACK. Deadline reports “’Torchwood’ Star John Barrowman Touches Fans With Ianto Shrine Visit”

Actor John Barrowman, who portrayed Captain Jack Harkness on Torchwood, has set off a Twitter frenzy with a post depicting a visit to a show landmark in Cardiff, Wales.

Barrowman posted a selfie in front of a shrine to the show’s Ianto Jones, who was Capt. Jack’s lover on the show and tragically died in his arms in a mini-series episode, Children of Earth.

On Friday, Barrowman paid an incognito visit to the impromptu shrine set up to honor the Ianto character in Cardiff, a site near where the series was filmed. The shrine is still very popular with fans 11 years after the television series death….

(4) EVERMORE PARK ALSO A COVID CASUALTY. [Item by David Doering.] As of yesterday, Evermore Park has cancelled any future performances at the park and has let the creative team go. Basically, the park will only be open for event rentals and strolling through. A sad loss due to Covid. Had it opened one year before or one year later, it might well have made it. “Evermore Park cancels winter production, dozens of employees laid off” at Yahoo!

Dozens of employees at Evermore Park in Pleasant Grove were laid off this week after it was decided there would be no winter-themed production, as well as other financial issues largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

(5) A REAL FANNISH TED TALK.FANAC.org will host a fannish TED talk on Saturday, January 23 when author, editor, and past Worldcon chair Ted White will be interviewed by John D. Berry via Zoom. Time: 4 pm EST. Participants are limited. To get the Zoom log-in, please RSVP to fanac@fanac.org .

Ted White will be talking about his long history in fandom and some of the interesting people he has encountered along the way. Ted is considered by many to be the current patriarch of fannish fandom. He has been active since the very early 1950s, both publishing fanzines and in clubs from Virginia to New York. We have more different fanzine titles of Ted’s on FANAC.org than any other faned. In addition to the many titles he edited on his own, he has published many collaborative fanzines going back to the 1950s.  

Ted has also chaired several conventions, including the 1967 Worldcon – the last Worldcon in New York. As a professional in the science fiction field, he has written stories, articles, and novels. He was the editor of Amazing Stories and Fantastic magazines, and has written extensively about the music industry.

John D. Berry has known and worked with Ted for over 50 years so he knows the questions to ask. And Ted has said that no topic is off the table.

(6) HORROR CELEBRITY. “’Glamour Ghoul’ reveals Vampira, Hollywood’s ‘original Goth’” – Scott Bradfield reviews her biography in the Los Angeles Times.

You didn’t need to be a pubescent boy (or his father) to fully appreciate the charms of Maila Nurmi — a.k.a. Vampira — when she first appeared on late-night KABC-TV in the spring of 1954. But it didn’t hurt. She was tall, beautiful and frightening and she screamed like a banshee, climaxing each howl with a lewd lick of her full lips, which even in black-and-white glistened bloodily. Her pale body was almost a caricature of an hourglass figure, like one of those inexplicably bountiful women featured in the pinups of Joaquin Alberto Vargas, for whom Nurmi had modeled only a few years earlier. But what made Vampira most memorable was the jokes she slyly delivered at machine-gun speed: pop, pop, pop. She came heavily armed with oodles of sexy, macabre puns and she wasn’t afraid to use them.

In the early days, Vampira was asked by a Los Angeles Tribune columnist to tell a little bit about herself.

“There isn’t much to tell,” she said. “I was born in Lapland. … I have an owl for a house pet. I have a 19-inch waist, 38-inch bust and 36-inch hips. My earliest recollection as a child is that I always wanted to play with mice. I’m very anti-social. I simply detest people. I don’t like snakes; they eat spiders, and I’m very fond of spiders.” Asked how she felt about children, she didn’t miss a beat: “Oh yes … delicious.”…

(7) BATWOMAN SPEAKS OUT. “New Batwoman Javicia Leslie always wanted to be a superhero” she tells the Washington Post.

Last year, Javicia Leslie was asked on a podcast what she wanted her next acting role to be.

“I said I wanted to be a superhero,” Leslie recalled recently toThe Washington Post.

In July, just two months after stating her desire, the star of “God Friended Me” and “The Family Business”answered the call to a bat-signal put up in the sky just for her — finding out she was the new star of the CW’s “Batwoman.” The announcement instantly made her the new face of the network’s successful tradition of televised superheroes….

One norm going away is the trademark black eye makeup that every on-screen bat-hero since Keaton has worn under the mask — Rose eventually parted with itand Leslie will also decline.

“Being a woman of color, it was important that we didn’t black out my eyes,” Leslie said. “We wanted to play with light instead of playing with darkness to help accentuate me being a black woman in playing this role.”

(8) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

Rod Serling wore Botany 500 brand suits.

— Source: Wikipedia

(9) BOB SURYAN OBIT. Bob Suryan died January 17. The Norwescon group made the announcement.

Bob Suryan has passed away today. He was very active in the Seattle Astronomical Society, and Norwescon (including chairing a couple of the conventions). He loved history and folks enjoyed chatting with him about all sorts of things. He had his ups and downs with health over the years and about a week and half ago was admitted to the hospital due to lots of pain. Sadly this turned out to be stage four lung cancer.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • January 17, 1992 Freejack premiered. It starred Emilio Estevez, Mick Jagger, Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins. The screenplay was written by Steven Pressfield, Ronald Shusett (who was also the producer) and Dan Gilroy. We consider it to be very loosely adapted from Robert Sheckley’s Immortality, Inc. (Great work. The serialised version as “Time Killer” in Galaxy was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel.) It was not at the time well-liked by either critics or reviewers, not is it currently liked among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes  as it is carrying a 25% rating and there’s a lot who have expressed an opinion — over fourteen thousand so far. (CE) 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • January 17, 1899 Nevil Shute. Nevil Shute. Author of On the Beach. It originally appeared as a four-part series, The Last Days on Earth, in the London weekly Sunday Graphic in April 1957. It was twice a film. He has other SF novels including An Old Captivity which involves time travel and No Highway which gets a review by Pohl in Super Science Stories, April 1949. There’s In the Wet and Vinland the Good as well. (Died 1960.) (CE)
  • Born January 17, 1923 – Alva Rogers.  Changing the name of the prozine Astounding to Analog has been applauded by some; AR wrote a Requiem.  Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon XV.  Co-chaired Baycon, the combined Westercon XXI and 26th Worldcon, famous in song and story.  Co-edited Rhodomagnetic Digest 62, its last issue; AR’s wife Sidonie wrote a profile of Al haLevy and AR drew one.  After SR died, AR married Andi Shechter, famous in song and story.  (Died 1982) [JH]
  • January 17, 1927 —  Eartha Kitt. Though you’ll have lots of folks remembering her as Catwoman from the original Batman, she appeared in but four episodes there. Genre wise, she was in such series as I-SpyMission: ImpossibleMatrix, the animated Space Ghost Coast to Coast and the animated My Life as a Teenage Robot. Film wise, she played Freya in Erik the Viking, voiced Bagheera in The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story and was Madame Zeroni In Holes. (Died 2008.) (CE)
  • Born January 17, 1930 – Dean Dickensheet.  Active in LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Soc.) during Shangri L’Affaires days, was the Bartender in The Musquite Kid Rides Again.  Next door, edited Men and MaliceGreat Crimes of San Francisco.  His part in Coventry was a reminder of Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  (Died 1983) [JH]
  • January 17, 1931 James Earl Jones, 90. His first SF appearance was in Dr. Strangelove as Lt. Lothar Zogg.  And I think I need not list all his appearances as Darth Vader here. Some genre appearances include  Exorcist II: The HereticThe Flight of DragonsConan the Barbarian as Thulsa Doom and I actually remember him in that role, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, did you know the 1995 Judge Dredd had a Narrator? Well he’s listed as doing it, and Fantasia 2000 as well. (CE)
  • January 17, 1935 Paul O. Williams. A poet who won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer for The Breaking of Northwall and The Ends of the Circle which are the first two novels of  his Pelbar Cycle. I’ve not read these, so be interested in your opinions, of course. (Died 2009.) (CE)
  • Born January 17, 1952 – Tom Deitz.  A score of novels.  Guest of Honor at Phoenixcon 8.  Gainesville State College faculty member of the year, 2008.  Phoenix Award.  Co-founded local SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) barony.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • January 17, 1962 Jim Carrey, 59. His first genre film is Once Bitten whose content is obvious from its name and which get a mere thirty-nine percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. The ‘dorable Earth Girls Are Easy was next followed up by Batman Forever in which he played a manic Riddler that I rather liked, then there’s the The Truman Show which was way cool. So may we not talk about How the Grinch Stole Christmas?  (SHUDDER!) We settled last year that we think that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is genre.  And I think that I’ll stop there this time. (CE)
  • Born January 17, 1967 – Wendy Mass, Litt.D., age 54.  Ray Bradbury volume for Authors Teens Love.  Of course I put that first, what Website do you think this is?  A score of novels for us, half as many others; nonfiction e.g. StonehengeJohn Cabot.  Schneider Award for A Mango-Shaped Space.  Has read The Phantom Tollbooth and The Secret Garden.  [JH]
  • January 17, 1970 —  Genndy Tartakovsky, 50. Like Romulan Ale, animation style is a matter of taste. So while I like his work on Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars, I can understand why many SW fans don’t as it’s definitely an acquired taste.  He also is responsible for directing the animated  Hotel Transylvania franchise. (CE) 
  • Born January 17, 1971 – Nomi Burstein, age 50.  Technical writer, freelance editor.  Collects neologisms, e.g. jan howard finder’s “bytelock”.  Fanzine, Burstzine (with husband Michael Burstein).  Years of patiently fielding questions about Jewish observance.  Co-founder (with MB) of the Society for the Preservation of Pluto as a Planet.  [JH]
  • Born January 17, 1981 – Rachelle Rosenberg, age 40.  Color artist for Marvel, e.g. this and this and this.  [JH]

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) YOU SAY YOU WANT AN EVOLUTION. “How ‘WandaVision’ Star Elizabeth Olsen Transformed Her Performance For Every Genre-Bending Episode”, a Q&A at Yahoo! Entertainment.

What was the difference between what you did the ’50s, versus when you were in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s?

The ’70s women were allowed — it was almost like there is was a relaxation of women and social behavior, and so that would affect their voices and the tone that they can take. Instead of it being kind of a higher and level [like in the ’50s]. The ’70s, even though it’s this really strange “Brady Bunch” aspirational time in sitcom land, women were able to have a bit more control, something that grounded them a bit more in their voice. Then as we got into the ’80s, there were the teachable moments, and how sincere everything was, that was really funny. And then as we move into the arts and into the ’00s and the 2010s, the sitcom becomes really cynical. The humor, like “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Modern Family” becomes incredibly cynical. And that’s what we found comforting for whatever reason as a society.

It was fun when we were in this boot camp to not only chart the physical changes, as tools, but to also [discover] what comedy was for that time. “Rosemary’s Baby” is a film and “Brady Bunch” is on television, it doesn’t make any sense to me. But for whatever reason, that’s what that’s what the consumer was watching at home.

(14) UNDER THE LIGHTS. Cheryl  Morgan fills in Cora Buhlert’s readers about her online zine – “Fanzine Spotlight: Salon Futura”.

Why did you decide to start your site or zine?

When I set up Wizard’s Tower Press, one of the things I wanted to do was create a semiprozine for non-fiction. It turned out that there wasn’t a market for such a thing at the time, and it closed after 9 issues. Then last year I saw Nicholas Whyte bemoaning the lack of interest in the Fanzine category of the Hugos. I’d already come to the conclusion that I needed some form of discipline to ensure I made time to read and review books, so I decided to relaunch Salon Futura as a fanzine. Thus far it has worked in that I have read a lot more books. I figure that if I ever get on the Hugo ballot again there will be a flood of new people voting in that category to stop me winning, and that will be the other objective achieved.

(15) VINTAGE OPINIONS. Gilbert Seldes lectures on science fiction in this 1953 recording of a WNYC broadcast “Science fiction writing” from The NYPR Archive Collections.

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Seldes discusses the science fiction genre. He opens with a story about a science fiction story about the atomic bomb preceding the actual bomb, and the government’s response.

He speaks of the symbolism of the extraterrestrial as a symbol for invaders from behind the Iron Curtain.

Seldes notes that there is a lot of science fiction that he does not deem to be of good quality, but does speak very highly of Ray Bradbury and H. G. Wells

(16) CHINESE SFF MOVIE. The Shimmer Program announced “Another Chinese science fiction film, ‘The Soul’ has been released on big screen! The thriller is adapted from Jiang Bo’s story ‘The Soul Transplanting Skill’ and directed by Cheng Wei-hao.” (The Soul is not to be confused with Pixar’s Soul).

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

Pixel Scroll 9/26/20 The File Goes Around The Scroll, The Scroll Goes Around The Pixel: It All Goes Around

(1) TIME 100. Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020 includes a sff writer and two astronauts.

When someone told me about Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, describing it as a cross between Harry Potter, the Chronicles of Narnia and Yoruba gods, I was shocked. It sounded like the best combination ever: How had I not heard of it? I read it, then I read it again, then I listened to the audiobook. I was being introduced to a world I couldn’t have imagined before. The characters were larger than life but with very human problems and issues. And the novel spoke to my self-identity and culture as a Nigerian, in its social commentary and in its depiction of both magic and oppression.

It’s so important to have representation within books like this. In school, I realized that only when my teacher considered my point of view did learning become easier. When my kids are growing up, they’re going to have these new classic heroes from an environment they know….

In October 2019, Christina Koch and Jessica Meir exited the International Space Station and replaced a controller regulating the batteries that store the station’s solar power. But the two astronauts accomplished much more than fixing the space station. They completed the first all-female spacewalk, shifting who we see as strong, brave, competent, and who’s on the team pushing the boundaries of exploration.

Yes, as Koch and Meir said, they were just doing their jobs. All astronauts say that, because being in space is our job. Yet two women executing intellectually and physically demanding work in one of the most challenging circumstances in which humans operate – orbital altitude of 250 miles, velocity of 17,500 m.p.h. – is an important event. Not because these women proved what we, women, could do; that was never in doubt. Rather because the whole world saw it, including the gatekeepers (frequently men) who determine who has access to these opportunities….

(2) ALGORITHM AND BLUES. The latest Future Tense story is “The State Machine” by Yudhanjaya Wijeratne. Tagline: “A new short story imagines a government run entirely by machines.”

The author says:

This is my attempt to explore the cracks and boundaries of AI governance that doesn’t fall into the tired Skynet tropes, Machine-Priest dreamings or one-reclusive-programmer-creates-life nonsense. How might a benevolent system actually come to be?

S.B. Divya, “an expert on machine learning”, has written a response essay “Under the Gaze of Big Mother”.

The world of software has a long-held, pernicious myth that a system built from digital logic cannot have biases. A piece of code functions as an object of pure reason, devoid of emotion and all the messiness that entails. From this thesis flows an idea that has gained increasing traction in the worlds of both technology and science fiction: a perfectly rational system of governance built upon artificial intelligence. If software can’t lie, and data can’t inherently be wrong, then what could be more equitable and efficient than the rule of a machine-driven system?

In “The State Machine,” Yudhanjaya Wijeratne explores a possible future where this concept has become reality. He takes the idea of A.I. government a step further by making it highly dynamic, with regular changes to the constitution and legal framework. Given how much of our lives are now in the hands of massive software applications – communications, banking, health care – I can see large swaths of humanity choosing to live under an A.I.-based government, rather than under human politicians, in hopes of more equitable treatment under the law and less overall corruption. It could happen incrementally, as it does in this story, so we go along with it, until one day a sizable portion of the world’s population finds itself living this way. You have only to look at Facebook, which now has 2.7 billion monthly active users (more than one-third of the world!), for a very real example….

(3) PACKED INSIDE. Clarke Award judge Alasdair Stuart included praise for the 2020 winner in “The Full Lid 25th September 2020”.

…And The Old Drift is the story of the stories that make up a country and a history, across the personal, national and societal levels. Comedy, romance, horror, crime, science fiction. It’s almost a fire hose worth of concepts, conceits and glittering moments of invention and prose that approach overwhelming even as they impress.

But in Serpell’s hands, each of these stories and genre shifts presents more like the progression of a elaborate, interwoven symphony. The tale starts with a simple melody: a Victorian photographer entranced in equal proportion by the brave new worlds of his profession and of his newly chosen home. He’s cheery and unconcerned with the complexities of life in a way that’s both profoundly familiar (David Copperfield as science fiction Chosen One) and deeply unsettling and annoying. This isn’t his land, even though as time goes by he treats it like exactly that. That subtlest of cuts, that differentiation between character and reader is what Serpell uses to expand the novel out into a swelling crescendo across decades and genres….

(4) TENTACLE TIME. The Kitschies Award team announced they are taking submissions until January 8, 2021.

The Kitschies, literature’s most tentacular prize, are pleased to announce that they are open to submissions for books published in the UK in 2020.

The Kitschies rewards the year’s most progressive, intelligent and entertaining books that contain elements of the speculative and fantastic. Winners receive a total of £2,500 in prize money, as well as one of the prize’s iconic hand-crafted Tentacle trophies.

The judges for the Red and Golden Tentacles are M.R. Carey, Mahvesh Murad, Daphne Lao Tonge and Kaiya Shang. Inky Tentacle judges are Fleur Clarke, James Spackman, Emily McGovern and Clare Richardson.

(5) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

Twenty years ago, Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. Published by Roc, Tamsin is the story of ghosts and cats set on an English country estate. It never had a British edition though it had a German one. The last print edition was on Firebird Books, the imprint edited by Sharyn November, fourteen years ago. There was a cassette only release of Peter narrating the novel though I don’t see it available currently. It is available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born September 26, 1867 – Winsor McCay. Pioneer in comic strips and animation. Little Nemo in Slumberland remains astonishing. Among much else WM drew Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend (alas, the joke is “Welsh rabbit” = melted cheese, but never mind that now) and political cartoons. In one version of Gertie the Dinosaur for vaudeville, WM appeared to interact with her. A Little Nemo short film took 4,000 drawings; The Sinking of the “Lusitania” took 25,000. (Died 1934) [JH]
  • Born September 26, 1872 Max Erhmann. Best remembered for his 1927 prose poem “Desiderata” which I have a framed copy hanging here in my work area. Yeah big fan. Genre connection? Well calling it “Spock Thoughts”, Nimoy recited the poem on Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy, his 1968 album. (Died 1945.) (CE)
  • Born September 26, 1918 – John Rankine. Forty novels, some for Space:1999; three dozen shorter stories; some e.g. From Carthage Then I Came under another name. Friend of Anthony Burgess while both at Univ. Manchester. JR is in five volumes of New Writings in SF. (Died 2013) [JH]
  • Born September 26, 1941 Martine Beswick, 79. Although she auditioned for Dr. No, she was instead cast in From Russia with Love as Zora. She also appeared as Paula Caplan in Thunderball. She would appear in One Million Years B.C. opposite Raquel Welch. She made several Hammer Studio films including Prehistoric Women and Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde. (CE)
  • Born September 26, 1942 – James Christensen. Three dozen covers, five dozen interiors. Here is Lyonesse. Here is Spectrum 4. Here is Voyage of the “Basset”. Artbook A Journey of the Imagination. (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born September 26, 1945 – Denny Lien, 75. Served as an officer of Minn-Stf and editor of Einblatt. Co-author of Midwest Side Story. In various apas e.g. Minneapa, ANZAPA. Guest of Honor at Minicon 21. Letters, reviews in F&SF, Interzone, Locus, NY Review of SF, SF Commentary, SF Review. [JH]
  • Born September 26, 1948 Olivia Newton-John, 72. She was Kira in Xanadu which is partly responsible for the creation of the Golden Raspberry Awards. (Can’t Stop the Music was the other film responsible.) It should be noted that Xanadu currently gets a 23% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. (CE)
  • Born September 26, 1957 Tanya Huff, 63. Her now-concluded Confederation of Valor Universe series is highly recommended by me. And I also give a strong recommendation to her Gale Family series. I’ve not read her other series, so I’ll ask y’all what you’d recommend. (CE)
  • Born September 26, 1957 – Roger MacBride Allen, 63. A score of novels (three in the Star Wars universe, three with Asimov’s positronic robots), half as many shorter stories. Two books of history with his father, historian Thomas B. Allen. [JH]
  • Born September 26, 1968 Jim Caviezel, 52. John Reese on Person of Interest which CBS describes as a “crime drama”. Huh. He was also Detective John Sullivan in Frequency, and Kainan in Outlander. And yes he played Number Six in the rather unfortunate reboot of The Prisoner. (CE)
  • Born September 26, 1974 – Sonny Liew, 46. The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye was an Amazon and NY Times Best Seller, a first for a Singaporean graphic novel; it and SL won three Eisners, also a Ping Prize as Best Int’l Comic (Denmark). Here is SL’s cover for The Infinite Library. SL’s Malinky Robot won a Xeric Award, and Comic Album of the Year at the Utopiales Int’l SF Festival. [JH]
  • Born September 26, 1985 Talulah Riley, 35. Miss Evangelista in “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, two most excellent Tenth Doctor stories. She also portrays Angela in the Westworld series, and she shows up in Thor: The Dark World as an Asgardian nurse. And she’s Gina Gartison in Bloodshot, the Vin Diesel-fronted Valiant Comics superhero film. Anyone seen the latter? (CE)

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) BOOK HEAVEN. A photo of the original site of Toronto’s Bakka bookstore was tweeted by Retrontario. That’s where it was when I visited in 1973.

(9) CASTING TINKERBELL. “Yara Shahidi will be 1st Black woman to play Tinkerbell in new ‘Peter Pan’ movie”Yahoo! News has the story.

Yara Shahidi is getting her wings.

The actor is set to play Tinkerbell in Disney’s “Peter Pan and Wendy,” the studio’s latest live-action adaptation. Shahidi joins a cast that features Jude Law as Captain Hook, with Alexander Molony as Peter Pan and newcomer Ever Anderson as Wendy.

(10) WORKING AWAY FROM HOME. NPR tells how a “NASA Astronaut Will Vote From Space”. I hope that ballot doesn’t burn up on re-entry! Oh – never mind.

On Election Day, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will be more than 200 miles above her nearest polling place. But she’s still planning to vote – from space.

“It’s critical to participate in our democracy,” Rubins told The Associated Press. “We consider it an honor to be able to vote from space.”

Rubins, who has a doctorate in cancer biology from Stanford and was the first person to sequence DNA in space, is currently training for her upcoming six-month mission on the International Space Station.

Voting from the space station is similar to voting absentee from anyplace on the planet – except instead of relying on the U.S. Postal Service to deliver the ballot, Rubins will get hers forwarded electronically from Mission Control in Houston.

(11) STORY REVIEWS. Adri Joy goes “Questing in Shorts: September 2020” at Nerds of a Feather.

… I’m behind with my Uncanny reading – in fact, it’s possible my subscription has lapsed without me noticing, because those are the kind of times we live in now, folks – and some of the stories in this next-most-recent (I think?) issue worked better for me than others. Firmly on the “yay” side of that equation was “The Inaccessibility of Heaven” by Aliette de Bodard, a story of fallen angels and the humans who live alongside them (I’m not sure if this is in the same universe as The Dominion of the Fallen, though it definitely doesn’t feel the same or contain any characters I recognise). It’s a tight, intriguing murder mystery that puts its human protagonist in the centre of magical happenings which the Fallen in their life would prefer they stayed out of. …

(12) A FASHION SHOW FOR 2020. “From Jeremy Scott at Moschino, a Celebration of the Magic, Whimsy, and Fantasy of Fashion in 40 Puppet-Sized Looks”Vogue sets the frame.

The vigilant spectator would watch the elaborate puppet show Jeremy Scott created for Moschino this season and wonder: Was this the designer painting a picture of our turbulent times through metaphors of political puppeteering, ‘strings attached,’ and questions of real vs. fake? Were his designs – couture-level garments that revealed their own construction – an image of much-needed truth in the public forum? “You’re totally reading into it,” he said on a video call from his home in Los Angeles as we both burst out in laughter. “The best thing I could do for everyone who’s stressed about the election, the pandemic, social unrest, and the future was to give the gift of fantasy and take us away from all of it for a few minutes; let us enjoy this little fashion world of ours.”

(13) RELUCTANT CRITIC. Andrew Mather at The Quill To Live says don’t make him review this book! “The Trouble With Peace – A Delicious Dark Book For A Troubled Year”.

I didn’t really want to review The Trouble With Peace by Joe Abercrombie, because I don’t want to draw your attention to it. As I have said before, Abercrombie is best enjoyed with no expectations and as little knowledge as possible. If you have read him, you likely are going to read this book. If you haven’t heard of him, and want a really intense fantasy series, go check out his first book in this world: The Blade Itself. So if I can’t really talk about the book, and I don’t want to talk about the book, and no one really needs to hear about the book, why am I writing a review of it you ask? Well, because The Trouble With Peace is a contender for my best book of the year and it would feel unprofessional to say nothing about it.

The thing that makes The Trouble With Peace, and all Abercrombie books, great is the characters….

(14) MAKING DEMANDS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A researcher hacked a smart coffee maker. He not only gained full control of the functions (which he could misuse in devious ways like beeping incessantly & spewing hot water) but also flashed a ransom message on the display. “When coffee makers are demanding a ransom, you know IoT is screwed” at Ars Technica.

With the name Smarter, you might expect a network-connected kitchen appliance maker to be, well, smarter than companies selling conventional appliances. But in the case of the Smarter’s Internet-of-things coffee maker, you’d be wrong.

As a thought experiment, Martin Hron, a researcher at security company Avast, reverse engineered one of the $250 devices to see what kinds of hacks he could do. After just a week of effort, the unqualified answer was: quite a lot…

… The next step was to create modified firmware that did something less innocuous.

“Originally, we wanted to prove the fact that this device could mine cryptocurrency,” Hron wrote. “Considering the CPU and architecture, it is certainly doable, but at a speed of 8MHz, it doesn’t make any sense as the produced value of such a miner would be negligible.”…

(15) ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW. Paul Weimer’s “Microreview: In the Black by Patrick Tomlinson” at Nerds of a Feather doesn’t seem too micro at all!

…. But it is the nuts and bolts of the Military SF that the novel really focuses on, and where for the most part it shines brilliantly. The FTL is the Alcubierre drive, frame dragging FTL with interesting limitations and restrictions. There is no Ansible (which means that the transmission of information between solar systems has to be by ship, which proves to be something that parts of the plot turns on) There is a definite sense of a cold war arms building up and testing on both sides. Like the 1970’s and 1980s as America and the USSR developed better weapon systems of various kinds, a Balance of Terror, there is a corporate cast to the weapons development, making profit motives an interesting tweak to how the Military tech development and execution proceed. There is plenty of space action as the opposite sides square off, and Tomlinson delivers what Mil-SF readers are looking for in terms of well described action and adventure.

[Thanks to N., James Davis Nicoll, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ. Michael Toman, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day PJ Evans.]

Pixel Scroll 1/22/16 Raindrops On Scrollses And Pixels On Kittens

(1) IT’S A WRAP. Tom Cruise will star in Universal’s reboot of The Mummy, now scheduled to arrive in theaters on June 9, 2017. This version will be set in the contemporary world. Cruise is not playing the title role, trade outlets are referring to his character as a former Navy SEAL.

So who is The Mummy?

Sofia Boutella, best recognized as the badass beauty with swords for legs in Kingsman: The Secret Service, will be playing this new version of the Mummy.

Who’s directing it?

Alex Kurtzman will be calling the shots. The only feature film he’s directed to date is People Like Us, but he’s best known for being a writer on a ton of big blockbuster movies, like Transformers, The Island, Mission: Impossible III, and J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek series. It currently has a script from Jon Spaihts (Prometheus).

(2) TRACING FIREBALLS TO THEIR SOURCE. In “A Precursor to the Chainmail Fantasy Supplement” Jon Peterson of Playing at the World identifies Leonard Patt as a forgotten influence or source on Gary Gygax, whose Chainmail (a collaboration with Jeff Perren) was the first game designed by Gygax sold as a professional product. It included a heavily Tolkien-influenced “Fantasy Supplement”, which made Chainmail the first commercially available set of rules for fantasy wargaming.

Patt, should he still be with us, would surely be unaware of how Chainmail followed his work, let alone the profound influence that concepts like “fire ball” and saving versus spells have had on numberless games over the decades that followed.

…In the early, pre-commercial days of miniature wargaming, the environment was very loose and collaborative, and these kinds of borrowings were not uncommon – but attribution was still an assumed courtesy. Gary Gygax has something of a reputation for adapting and expanding on the work of the gaming community without always attributing his original sources. The case of the Thief class is probably the most famous: the first draft of Gary’s rules do note their debt to the Aero Hobbies crowd, but as the published version of the rules in Greyhawk (1975) did not, the obligation of the Thief rules to Gary Switzer and the others at Aero Hobbies long went unacknowledged. Regarding Chainmail, Gary in late interviews says nothing to suggest that concepts like fireball were not of his own invention; Patt’s rules compel us to reevaluate those claims. Nonetheless, we must acknowledge that Gary had a singular gift for streamlining, augmenting and popularizing rules originally devised by others: certainly we wouldn’t say that Patt’s original rules could have inspired Blackmoor, and thus Dungeons & Dragons, without Gary’s magic touch and the elaboration we find in the Chainmail Fantasy Supplement.

But if you ever vanquished an enemy with a fireball in Dungeons & Dragons, or Magic: the Gathering, or Dragon Age, and especially if you ever made a saving throw against a fireball, thank Leonard Patt!

(3) LIGHTNING STRIKING AGAIN AND AGAIN. The Kickstarter appeal for People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction has raised $20,192 as of this writing – 400% of its original goal. Another special issue of Lightspeed, it will be guest-edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Kristine Ong Muslim, in partnership with section editors Nisi Shawl, Berit Ellingsen, Grace Dillon, and Sunil Patel, who are assembling a lineup of fiction, essays, and nonfiction from people of color.

Lightspeed’s Destroy series was started because of assertions that women, LGBTQ, and POC creators were destroying science fiction. The staff of Lightspeed took that as a challenge. Building on the astounding success of Lightspeed’s Women Destroy Science Fiction! (and Horror, and Fantasy) and Queers Destroy Science Fiction! (and Horror, and Fantasy), POC Destroy Science Fiction! brings attention to the rich history and future of POC-created science fiction and fantasy.

Like the previous Destroy issues, this campaign has the potential to unlock additional special issues focusing on Horror and Fantasy as well.

(4) DOUBTFUL. Breitbart.com’s Allum Bokhari dishonestly represents a commenter’s statement as a File 770 news item in “SJWs Are Purging Politically Incorrect Sci-Fi Authors From Bookstores”.

(5) BAKKA PHOENIX REPLIES. Yet he is getting the clicks he wants. One Toronto bookstore owner was intimidated into making a public denial — “A Question Worth Answering”.

We are Bakka Phoenix, a different bookstore entirely. We’re not going to comment on a rumour about XXX’s activities: that way lies madness and a lot of silly Twitter feuds. You might want to contact them directly (their website is XXX). Also, please note: from a Canadian perspective, Breitbart looks more like an outlet for the borderline-lunatic fringe than a credible news source.

But if you were wondering, we can assure you that we ourselves carry many books we find personally or politically reprehensible. Let’s face it, your left wing is somewhere off to our right, enough so that we’d have trouble even agreeing on the definition of ‘conservative’. Frankly, we find a lot of US political posturing completely unhinged.

But… so what? We’re in the business of selling books. Good books. Bad books. Titles some people love; titles others hate enough to throw across the room. Some books will transform readers minds and lives and be remembered for decades. Others will be forgotten immediately upon reading (or even partway through). We don’t have to like a book, its author, or its message in order to sell it. To suggest otherwise merely proves that the suggester spends very little time in actual bookstores.

The many wonderful independent booksellers I’ve met feel the same way. Independent bookstores exist for precisely that reason: to ensure that readers have the widest choice possible. So we — all of us — stock books we think our readers might be interested in, personal taste bedamned.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born January 22, 1934 – Bill Bixby, of My Favorite Martian and The Hulk.
  • Born January 22, 1959 – Linda Blair, of The Exorcist.

(7) BUTTER WOULDN’T MELT. Kate Paulk wrote a post educating her readers about the Best Editor Hugo categories.

Both these categories have seen controversy since their introduction: first the lobbying to split Best Editor – the whispers say this was so that a specific individual could receive an award instead of always playing second fiddle to a very prominent (and very skilled) magazine editor, the apparent hand-off of both through much of their history between an extremely small number of people – so much so that it appears a group of Tor editors considered the Long Form award to be their property (just look at the list of winners…).

The first comment, by Draven:

“yeah well, you know who we say for long form…”

The second comment, by Dorothy Grant:

“Hmmm, Maybe, maybe not. This year will be the last year David Hartwell will be eligible. (He edited L.E. Modesitt & John C. Wright, among others.) The industry lost a good man, and a good editor, yesterday. Granted, he’s won three, but these things do happen in tribute.”

The third comment, by Kate Paulk:

“They do indeed, and David Hartwell is certainly a worthy nominee.”

(8) BRUSHBACK PITCH. Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in the National League, also has a less well known claim to fame – his great-uncle Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto. That explains his loyalty to the diminutive world, and his recent contradiction of NASA on Twitter.

(9) SINBAD. The Alex Film Society will screen The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) on Thursday, April 28 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

(10)  A SCI-FI KID REMEMBERS. Film fan Steve Vertlieb has compiled his memories about meeting genre stars into one extravaganza post:

After some forty seven years of writing about films, film makers, and film music, I thought that I’d take a moment to remember the glorious moments, events, and artists who have so generously illustrated the pages of my life, and career, over these many remarkable years.  Do return with me now to Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear when artistry and grandeur populated the days of our lives…days when gallant souls courageously rescued their leading ladies from screen villainy…days when culture and dignity proliferated the screen, television, radio, and the printed page.  Look for it only in books, for its sweet reflection of gentle innocence is but a faded memory…a  tender, poignant whisper of grace and wonder that, sadly, has Gone With The Wind.

Those memories are also the driving force of his autobiographical documentary Steve Vertlieb: The Man Who “Saved” The Movies. The director keeps an online journal of their progress.

A FILM DIRECTOR’S JOURNAL #3…THE PHILADELPHIA “SHOOT”

Whew!  It would be a bitch of an exhausting marathon, because we had lots of LITERAL ground to cover in Center City, hopscotching from one locale to another blocks away; then to another, then to another; finally finishing up on the “high steel”, the center of the city’s Benjamin Franklin Bridge, stretching from Philadelphia across the Delaware River into Camden, N.J.  But everyone agreed.  And our “Philadelphia Marathon” was off and running.

The documentary film will wrap in February, 2016, with film festival screenings planned for this Spring.

(11) ALAN RICKMAN. Today Star Talk Radio site revisited Neil deGrasse Tyson’s 2012 conversation with Alan Rickman.

So what does astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson ask him about? Failing physics in high school, of course. They also talk a little about acting, including how Alan chooses and prepares for his roles, from researching the heart surgeon in Something the Lord Made to the wine-tasting scene in Bottle Shock. You’ll hear Alan explain his sense of responsibility to his audience and what he describes as “the mysterious mechanism of acting and theatre and storytelling.” Neil and Alan also get philosophical about the limits of human perception, the flocking behavior of birds, and the interaction of sound and memory.

(12) MARTIAN HOP. Tintinaus has a great addition to The Martian musical, based on Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler.”

Every Martian knows that the secret to survival,
Is solving the next problem,
And then the problem after that.
‘Cause every day’s a winner
Even if you’re gettin’ thinner,
And the best that you can hope for
Is growing tates in your crewmate’s scat.

 

You gotta know when to sow ’em
Know when to hoe ’em
Know when to harvest
For a bumper yield
You never count sauce satchels
‘Cause that would be depressing.
Knowing how long ungarnished taters
Will be your only meal.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kyra.]

Sawyer Longlisted for Lifetime Achievement Libris Award

Robert J. Sawyer is among the 10 people longlisted for a Lifetime Achievement Libris Award voted on by the Canadian bookselling community and presented by Retail Council of Canada.

Last year’s winners were Alice Munro (prior to her winning the Nobel Prize in Literature) and philanthropist Jack Rabinovitch, founder of the Giller Prize.

Toronto’s Bakka Phoenix Books, renowned among sf fans, has been longlisted in the Specialty Bookseller of the Year category. ChiZine Publications, which issues weird fantasy, is up for Small Press Publisher of the Year.

See all award nominees here [PDF file].

Bakka Hosts The Cup

MaskedMosaic_Cover_nobleed-318x500Toronto’s famed Bakka Phoenix Books drew an unexpected guest to its April 20 launch party for Masked Mosaic: Lord Stanley’s Cup, the championship trophy of the National Hockey League. Click here to see a photo.

I’ve heard it claimed that hockey is such an ingrained part of the Canadian identity that I doubt a visit from the Stanley Cup would be equalled in significance if the San Francisco 49ers were to loan the 2013 Vince Lombardi Trophy to the Bay Area’s Other Change of Hobbit bookstore.

In the event neither sports reference has the slightest meaning for you, don’t forget there’s still a perfectly good short story collection to consider.

The Bakka launch party was on behalf of Masked Mosaic, a collection of Canadian stories featuring masked vigilantes, superpowered antiheroes and super scientists, edited by Claude Lalumière and Camile Alexa. Writers Mike Rimar, Emma Vossen, Michael S. Chong and Michael Matheson were on hand to sign.

The collection’s full slate of contributors is — , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

[Thanks to John Mansfield for the story.]